It didn’t take long for an uproar of voices to follow. Deep baritones demanding answers to what was happening. A shrill belonging to a woman chased Namjoo. Zipping around a corner, Namjoo came to a dead end. Storage Room stared back at her.
Blood pulsed in her ears. Each cell beating like African Drums. Panicking, Namjoo darted the opposite direction slamming into a door that led to the stairwell. The Exit Man glowed above her as she clambered down the stairs. Legs moving so fast she nearly missed three steps. Pain shocked her ankle slowing her.
Grasping the steel rail Namjoo gasped. Her head snapped back when the door above banged open. The heels of men’s dress shoes clattered against the stairwell, the sound closed in. Panting faster, Namjoo hobbled down the next flight of stairs. Mongering fear overtaking her as she pushed through the heavy door running into the underground garage.
The stain of oil stunned her. Skidding to a halt Namjoo’s eyes glazed over the hundred vehicles parked in section 2B. No sight of an exit or gaping doorway that would lead her into the light. The mass of loud men’s voices could be heard through the door egging her to hurry.
Zipping through the maze of cars, Namjoo scurried forward struggling to search for the exit. Someone behind her slammed into a vehicle six yards from her.
“Namjoo!” It was Munho.
Glancing over her shoulder to see him fast on her tail, Namjoo breathed a high-pitched sound. Not today. Not tomorrow. She didn’t want to end her life with him.
She bumped into a car injuring her hip. Stumbling forward three steps Namjoo caught sight of an incline. Gaping up she spotted a curve around the wall. That was where motors passed through on their way in.
Snatching the tail of her dress, Namjoo sped up. Panting harshly through gritted teeth. Clamping her eyes shut as stinging pain zipped up and down her soles. The pain of running in heels with an aching ankle. Shutting her eyes, Namjoo’s hand formed a fist at her side.
She had to push on. There were still dues she needed to accomplish for her brother.
Cool air pricked . Her undone hair swirled around her head crazily. A car honked. Tires whirred. The smell of gas flashed past. Daring to open her eyes Namjoo saw the metropolitan city blur around her. City walkers curiously stared as she darted past.
Run. Run was all she could think.
“Namjoo!” Munho screamed after her.
Of course, Jongin received no invitation to the engagement. He browsed the business news constantly in case Namjoo’s important father felt the need to broadcast that his daughter was finally tying the knot. Maybe Munho’s family would.
In the end, he was wrong and right. Go Munho’s conglomerate father was in the Business Esquire. Front page. CEO Go’s prestigious son would be getting engaged to Chief of Surgery’s only daughter. The celebration would be at the Seoul Hotel. Written by some journalist whose name Jongin didn’t even bother reading.
It was happening.
Namjoo was getting engaged.
Laying in bed with legs dangling off the edge, Jongin folded an arm over his face. He thought about the night at the tavern. Regret poured over him.
That night his heart had fluttered, but he’d been too egotistic to admit it. He couldn’t tell Namjoo she was cute in his jacket or he wished she had covered up more.
That night he had no galls to ask her not to get engaged. She had more opportunities than just Munho.
Before she got out of his car, why couldn’t he say he didn’t want to wait until they met again at the courthouse when he prosecuted Kim Namhee.
Letting his arm plop down, Jongin stared over at Namjoo’s oil painting. Of him.
She’d often talked about Munho with disdain. If Namjoo persistently treated him like a pest, how could she want this?
Sitting up, Jongin stared at himself through the painting. Then it dawned on him. Namjoo wasn’t asking for help anymore. She needed it. And she’d set her sights on him, for some reason.
Namjoo might not want a chivalric hero to the rescue, but he wasn’t about to pretend he never saw her waiting for it.
That morning of the engagement, Jongin pulled on a suit. Not his normal choice of wear on a weekend off work, but in order to mix in he had no choice. Assuming from the luncheon Uncle Heojin had invited the family to, Jongin deduced the atmosphere at the ceremony would be no less different.
“Where are you going so early?” His mother called out when he passed.
“I have plans.”
“Why don’t you bring Namjoo over sometime?” The elder woman walked over to the corner of the kitchen. Leaning against the wall she watched him dig through the shelf for shoes to match the occasion. “You didn’t break up, did you?”
Jongin could sense the trepidation in her voice. She didn’t want him losing a good catch. A girl with an affluent backing, because if he married her what a riot his relatives would throw. Those people would climb all over the Kim family in envy.
That Kim Jongin had managed to land it so good. Especially after someone like Aeri, Namjoo was perhaps the best he could have. It was how his mother would interpret his relationship.
He was imminently frustrated. He didn’t have time for this. Or arguing for the fact that he didn’t want Namjoo to have to deal with his family’s ambitions.
“I have to go.” Slipping into the shoes Jongin opened the door and walked out. Getting into his car he drove out of the parking lot and sped down the road.
He had no plan other than busting the engagement. Didn’t Namjoo’s parents think of him as her boyfriend? There lie a great chance they still believed that. If Munho was threatened by him he could use that fact as a weapon.
Anything he might say they’d believe more than doubt. Namjoo had gotten him to play along. It was time to keep playing.
Pressing on the accelerator, Jongin zipped back and forth through traffic. The roads stretched, cars circled around him, lights turned red then green. Jong