“To celebrate.” Jongin added letting go of her arm. “We should celebrate, shouldn’t we?”
“Right.” Namjoo blinked. “Yea.”
Namjoo gave him one wandering glance before hopping off his car and entering her apartment. Making sure she was safe inside, Jongin drove home. Breathing a laugh as he turned the bend, reminiscing the glow of happiness serenely washing over Namjoo’s expression. It was as if everything she’d gone through the past week never existed.
Approaching the driveway, Jongin parked the car and climbed out eyeing the familiar vehicle parked at the side of the house. He wasn’t aware they were getting a visitor today. Pretty sure his mother would have alerted him.
Wondering what was going on, he hurried toward the house. Coming to a quick halt when the front door burst open and voices filled the sunny air. His brows furrowed upon recognizing Go Munho towering over his parents.
“Oh, look. He’s home.” his father happily said. All smiles, his father beckoned him over, “Jongin, your friend stopped by. Where were you?”
“What are you doing?” his mother called out when he made no attempt to approach. “Your friend came from so far away. At least come say hello before he goes.”
Firmly pursing his lips, Jongin tightly gripped his briefcase. Finally making his greeting two short strides forward, “Munho.”
The man’s lips stretched up. “I didn’t know you weren’t home.” Namjoo’s fiancé made a show of glancing at his watch, “It looks like I have to go. We should catch up next time.”
“Sure. Let’s.” Jongin replied. Munho passed but not without intentionally brushing shoulder to shoulder with him. His parents’ mouths went oval at the sight of Munho’s imported car. Wheeling around, Jongin made sure the unexpected visitor was gone before heading inside. His parents hurried after him.
“Who is he?” his mother nosily bugged him. “Would you look at that car!”
“He must have a really nice profession,” his father commented. “It is important to have well connections with a high job like yours. Keep up the good work, Jongin.”
“What did he say to you?” Was all that really mattered, because Go Munho shouldn’t have been here in the first place.
Stricken, his mother blinked. “What’s with your tone, Jongin?”
“What did he say?” Jongin pressed.
“He was curious about you and wanted to stop in to give his greetings. That’s all.” His mother explained then went right on to lecturing, “A well-to-do man like that, Jongin, you need to keep in your circle. In the future if ever an issue arises, only rich people will be able to help you.”
“Is that all he said?” Jongin turned attention to his father who wouldn’t meander.
The old man nodded. “Yes, that’s all. He wasn’t even here two minutes before you came home.”
“I’ll be downstairs.” Jongin said.
What the hell did Munho want? The last time they encountered each other, Munho had been threatening.
Reaching his room, he peered at the oil painting. He wondered if she was being watched. Didn’t Namjoo just tell him she was being forced into an engagement?
Who the hell was Munho?
When he arrived at Namjoo’s the next morning, he sent a text on his arrival. Coming down in a timely manner Namjoo, for once, came off fresh and lively. Looking more alive than any other dreary days. He couldn’t read any resentment on her expression today.
Strangely, the sun was all on her this late morning. The chill of early spring hidden behind the light of day. Namjoo was dressed no different. Still in that green jacket, faded jeans, and sneakers. The blond was still stubborn in her hair. Jongin was curious what she looked like in her natural black.
Pretty he thought. Eye-catching pretty.
“What?” Poking her hands into the pockets of her jacket, she peeped at him. “Are we going? You’re buying me food today, right?”
“That’s not the only thing we’ll be doing.” He opened the door for her.
Namjoo gave him a scoff like he had done something totally ridiculous. Flicking her hands out of her pockets into his face, she stated, “I have my own hands. I can open my own door.”
“Apparently, you don’t know rule one of a date.” Jongin said before shutting the door. Through the windshield he saw her jaw go slack at the words he’d just dropped.
“For your information,” Namjoo’s voice picked up when he slid into the driver’s seat, “I’ve had the door opened for me my entire life. I don’t need you to be my chauffeur.”
“I’m not your chauffeur,” Jongin corrected. “I’m a gentleman.”
She clicked her tongue incredulous. The seatbelt zipped over her then came a loud click. “So, where are we eating?”
“We’re not eating yet.” Driving into the street, Jongin switched on the signal for change of lane.
“What do you mean we’re not eating yet?” She sounded incredulous.
“We’re going on a date.” Jongin emphasized then added to ward off any awkwardness, “To celebrate.”
“Where are we going?”
Forty-five minutes later Namjoo stared up the concrete steps that led up to the city’s museum. A giant granite structure wielding the country’s proud flag. Heavy doors awaited their visit. Behind them the parking lot was quickly filling up with people hungry for knowledge and exploration.
“You’re kidding me.” Namjoo muttered infinitely disappointed.
“It’ll be fun.” Jongin convinced. “Besides, I’m paying for everything.” He took two steps up, glanced back to find Namjoo eyeing him in disbelief.
Distaste distorted her expression. “You really mean it.”
“Come on. Do you need me to hold your hand?”
Her face further twisted. Stomping up the stairs she grumbled as she passed, “I don’t need you to hold my hand.”
Scoffing, Jongin went in after her. Joining the line at the ticket booth he grabbed a pamphlet. There was a section on historic arts. A corner of the museum showcased remodified stolen arts and stories of the pioneers who fought to safekeep valuables from being stolen during wars. He had figured it might be something Namjoo was interested in, since she liked art. Considering the oil painting he’d taken was unique and beautiful he believed Namjoo had an artistic eye that needed nurturing.
Once tickets were purchased, they stopped at the first exhibit. Reconstructed animals from the ice age filled one giant display. They spent a good half hour mulling over the mannequins and giant species before moving on to the dinosaurs.
On the second-floor lobby both shared gasps over the huge t-rex. So popular that it was fenced off from visitors.
“I want a picture.” Shoving her phone into his hand she readily posed in front of the monstrous skeleton.
“Fine.” Opening her camera, he focused the shot on her and pressed a button. “Done.”
“One more, one more.” Namjoo called out.
Jongin took another picture and passed it to her to ok. “My turn.” He dropped his phone into her hand.
Flatly staring at him Namjoo subtly frowned. “You want a picture?”
“What’s wrong with that?” he shrugged. “Quick, people are coming.”