Munho’s fury left her raw with dismay. He’d walked out, but not without scathing her. Having dropped into the seat he had occupied, Namjoo stared at the tiny box that consisted of the chocolate cupcake.
She’d been excited when Jongin bought it for her. It cost him a good twelve dollars. Just for a puny treat. Overpriced, but he had gotten it for her and Namjoo had been waiting to greedily eat it. Now, she had no appetite. And she was sorry for picking a fight with him over some stupid noodles.
Combing a hand into her hair, Namjoo breathed a sigh. She didn’t want to hurt Jongin or his family just because she begged him to help her and asked him to play house with her. Honest to god, she had thought it was harmless. But Munho was getting worked up and if he said he was going to abuse his family’s power to enact cruelty, he very well might as well do it.
Come morning and Namjoo found herself standing at the bottom of pearlescent white marbling steps. Doing a dishonor to such a beautiful manor with her fashionable jeans and t-shirt finished off with her old sneakers. Namjoo wouldn’t have dared come otherwise if she didn’t think it was necessary, so she’d decided to come as…well, herself.
What better to enter the enemy’s territory than armed with shamelessness?
Climbing the staircase Namjoo invited herself into the mansion. Beautiful shiny walls stretched around her with not a speck of dirt or dust on the floor. A sheen finishing to it Namjoo felt bad about the tracks her sneakers were leaving in her wake.
Giant rooms opened up around her in various sizes depicting the purpose of each place. Studies, the lounge, the meeting room, et cetera et cetera. Rock chimneys that climbed up to the ceiling, fainting chairs of deep sea green framed in gold. Beautiful furniture one might find in vintage museums such as where Jongin brought her yesterday.
Recognizing the clatter of a teacup settling onto its coaster, Namjoo followed the noise. Indeed, there was Aunt Go in a classy tweed set of matching pants and cardigan. Her thin legs were twined, one foot around her calf in a relaxed posture. Pretty eyes blinked in her direction before taking recognition.
“Why, Namjoo.” She straightened smiling.
“Did I interrupt?” Namjoo noticed the unfamiliar woman across from her.
A wave of the hand and the woman exited the room. “Don’t worry about her. She’s my Pilate instructor. Why don’t you come join a session sometime? It’s important to strengthen the body. It’ll help prepare you for pregnancy.”
Ignoring the sentiment, Namjoo helped herself to where the instructor had been sitting. The room was overwhelmingly full of artificial lighting. Clean white walls filled with not a picture. Pure classic boring with an old man’s touch. A dark shelf here. Another table here. A stone gray vase with one lavender branch stuck inside for décor.
Aunt Go’s thin neck stretched as she screeched, “Miss Kim! Bring a cup of tea!”
“I decided,” Namjoo went right at it. “I’ll get engaged. Can we do it as soon as possible?”
“So, where you been?” Sahyeon was gnawing on a bowl of trail mix when Jongin came home.
“Nowhere.” Avoiding his uncle’s mischievous eyes, Jongin hurried down the stairs.
“Eh, eh, eh.” Sahyeon rushed forward blocking him. “Jongin on a Saturday. Spent half the day outside. If it’s not with a girl then…were you watching outside?”
Jongin’s head whipped around in case his parents were around. “Sahyeon!”
His uncle heehawed enjoying the tease. Slapping him across the chest, Sahyeon assured, “Hey, it’s normal. Nothing to be embarrassed about. We’re men here.”
Rolling his eyes, Jongin stepped around his uncle to escape.
“I have my eyes on you.” Sahyeon shouted after him. “You let her know I said hi!”
Shutting the door Jongin could feel his face burning. Falling flat against the door he stared at Namjoo’s oil painting of him. Full of curiosity how she viewed him. Indulging in the wonder of how much she must’ve thought of him to paint him.
Thinking about that, he worried whether he’d stepped a line today. Maybe he should apologize. Jongin waited a day deeming it inappropriate to call Namjoo out on a Sunday. He needed to use the time reading up on cases anyhow, so he didn’t head out till late afternoon. If Namjoo was in he’d invite her for lunch.
He drove around meandering uselessly until finally parking at the side of the tailor shop. Peeking at the door he pondered over going out to knock or call Namjoo. In the end, he paced outside back and forth by the car rehearsing what he’d say.
I didn’t mean anything by the kiss. Anyway, it’s not really a kiss. It can’t be considered one, so don’t think much of it.
Did he sound stupid? Jongin scratched his ear. Glancing up when he felt a pair of eyes studying him. Namjoo was standing at the corner of the block kind of frowning. What most stood out was the dark black of her hair. His lips parted but nothing came.
“Do you have a stomachache?” Namjoo walked over but not toward him. She went right to the door, keys in her hand.
“No.” he muttered half aware he already knew she’d be pretty in her natural color. “I thought we could grab lunch if you’re free.”
Namjoo observed him as if debating whether he was worth it. Letting go of the knob, she said, “You paying?”
This made him smile. “Of course.”
They settled for subs at a restaurant close by. Ditching his car, they made the walk before finding a seat next to the window.
“You fixed your hair.” he said.
Patting her head, she the strands. “Thought I should treat my scalp. Decided I pissed off my parents enough.”
“It looks nice.” Jongin commented.
“I’m sure it’s going to make everyone happy.” Namjoo took a bite of her chicken wrap.
“Did Hangyeol call you?”
“Not yet.” Namjoo cocked her head at an angle. Those big eyes of hers traced his face studiously he nearly felt the goosebumps rise on his skin.
“W…what?” he stuttered touching his face.
“I’m trying to see if you look at me funny.”
He warmed neck down. “What do you mean?”
“Never mind.” Glancing down at her napkin, Namjoo took another absentminded bite of her sandwich. A second passed before she stared again, “So why’d you kiss me?”
The fizzy warmth turned into a hot flash. Jongin struggled not to let it climb up his neck into his face. “W…well…it’s…it’s how dates end.” He excused, hurriedly adding, “Look it up on the internet if you don’t believe me.”
Her brows burrowed uncertain. “You don’t need t