Ra Miyoung has devoted her life to prove that she is the rightful heir to their family business. But things take a huge turn when her lifelong nemesis, Head Chef Doh Kyungsoo, threatens to take everything she has ever wanted in life—the restaurant and her father’s trust.
Fifteen years ago
Kyungsoo didn’t mind the cold. If anything, he enjoyed the numbing sensation all over his skin. The snow, the gloomy daylight, and the vapour coming out of his mouth when he exhaled—he loved all aspects of winter. One reason may have been because it had always hit his birthday—the only thing that he really knew about himself.
He could have stayed longer; they weren’t kicking him out at eighteen flat but he personally chose to leave as soon as he had reached the cut-off; no more, no less. He had been looking forward to this day all his life ... or since he had figured out that no one would ever want to take him home, to love him, to own him as a son.
Haewon Children’s Shelter wasn’t bad in any way, whatsoever.
He had a roof over his head, he was given a meal three times a day, he was provided education, and he gained friends. But the real purpose of the place already speaks for itself. He had always preferred calling it The House of the Rejects whenever the staff and nuns were out of sight.
He was rejected—along with the other children in there, as simple as that. Some were lucky and got adopted shortly after getting into the place, some had to wait for a few years, and some … were like him. He had reached the age limit and he had to go. He didn’t need to be adopted. Eighteen wasn’t considered a child anymore; he could fend for himself, he could get a job, he could pay for his own tuition, he could build his own family now. Well, the shelter gave him pocket money before sending him off but it’s barely enough for him to get by for a whole month.
But that’s just how it was. Today, he was officially an adult but somehow, he didn't feel any different. He was still an orphan … and he always will be one.
If he had known that it would be this difficult to find an affordable room, would he have stayed at the shelter longer or at least accepted their offer to temporarily place him into what they call a Group House where a foster parent would stay with them until they are ready to be on their own?
No, thanks. He’d rather go straight into being on his own, totally it up and then get it over with. Temporarily being housed with a bunch of unsure and odd teenage orphans and a foster parent aka adult babysitter just didn’t sound any better for him.
He lifted his gaze back to the building that he had just left where he checked out a couple of rental rooms, or what they usually call a goshiwon. It was the only type of housing that he would be able to afford, realistically. He wasn’t picky at all. He didn’t mind staying anywhere as long as it’s liveable. The problem was, he wanted to save the pocket money had for food and school bills—at least until he finds a part-time job.
A cuss slipped out of his mouth. This wasn’t going to be easy after all.
But there was no way he’s going back to the shelter like a total failure just to stay for another night or two. Some would call it pride ... and actually, he probably would call it the same. But, so what? He wanted to prove to them that he was indeed an adult now. He didn’t want to seem more like a loser to the people who watched him grow up. The same people who witnessed him foolishly wait and wait and wait … for someone to call him a son, by heart and by papers.
He rubbed his palms together before pressing them against his ears. Slush. Step. Slush. Step. Maybe there is one thing he hated about winter. Slush. He had always owned only one pair of shoes and they were sneakers. He could feel his socks already getting soaked with every step.
He shook one foot at a time before scurrying to the nearest alley he could find. The next goshiwon building he needed to check out would be a twenty-minute walk from here and he didn’t want to walk with his feet and socks drenched and cold.
“Son of a .” He leaned against the concrete wall and removed one shoe, turning it upside down. It wasn’t too soaked for it to drip but he still decided to set it aside to dry a little, one shoe at a time. He also removed his sock and set it on top of the shoe that he was drying. With his one leg lifted to avoid touching the ground, he flung his backpack off of his shoulders and dug inside. He took out the store-bought slice of cake he got from the convenience store earlier.
He removed the lid of the box and he started singing himself a Happy Birthday. When the song is over, he closed his eyes to make a wish. I wish that I can find an affordable room tonight. His wish was simple and … more of a short-term wish but it was necessary in his case at the moment. He wouldn’t mind sleeping in the subway station for the night if he certainly had to but it would be nicer if this whole room-hunting shenanigan would be successful on the first night.
He opened his eyes and blew the imaginary candle. He didn’t mind at all. There’d be better days eventually. There would be a time that he can afford to buy himself an actual birthday cake, a full-sized one too. But for tonight, this cheap- slice of chocolate cake would do.
He rubbed his palm on his pants before pinching a big chunk of cake with his fingers. Ooh, sweet sweet lord. That is some good store-bought cake. Bittersweet and creamy at the same time. Airy, buttery texture went really well with the crunchy wafery center.
“Well, isn’t it interesting to see someone eat a slice of cake with their bare hands? This is a sight I don’t usually see at my restaurant’s back door. Usually, people just smoke here.” A voice spoke from behind which made him flinch in defence mode. He accidentally dropped hus leg that was up and coldness quickly soaked the bottom of his foot.
A middle-aged man leaned by the opened door that Kyungsoo didn’t even notice was there until it opened. He quickly hunched down for an apologetic bow while still keeping his chocolate-coated hands away from his clothes.
“I’m so sorry, sir, if this was your property. I was just—I was just drying my—” His eyes travel back to his shoe and sock that was set very close to the door. “—my shoe, I was just drying my shoe. I’m sorry, I’m going to get it and leave.” With half of his body still curved in a bow, he rushed to his shoe and sock to grab them as quickly as he could. “Young man, there’s going to be a snowstorm in a couple of minutes, I just saw it in the news. What are you doing outside this late at night? Your parents might get worried. Why don’t you come in first if you want to dry your shoes before going home and I will lend you my cellphone to call your parents so they can pick you up here? We’re just closing anyway.” The man offered kindly.
Kyungsoo reluctantly looked up, finally seeing a clearer view of the man. He should be around his early forties if he would guess. “Sir, it’s okay—I’m really sorry, I will leave now—” Strong cold wind suddenly blew away the papers from his bag. God damn it, he forgot to zip it close. Some of his school papers quickly drop into the slush but he still picked them up, carefully, so he wouldn’t tear them apart. The other sheets of paper fell towards the door which made it harder for him to grab. He was too shy to get closer.
The man picked up one of the papers, the light green one.
It was one of the goshiwon postings Kyungsoo had taken from the streets earlier today.
He jerked in panic when the man proceeded to pick up another piece of paper. This time, it was a page of his departure papers from the orphanage. “Sir, I will pick them all up. Don’t worry about them. I will—”
“You’re from Haewon Children’s Shelter? I know that place, my late wife used to go there for visits back then.” The man’s face lit up as their gaze met. This old man wasn’t just unnecessarily cheerful, he was also nosy. Panic increased in Kyungsoo’s chest. He blatantly approached the man, finally, and snatched the papers away from him. He didn’t care anymore if he had smudged the papers with chocolate frosting. “I’m sorry, sir. Have a good evening.” He faintly bid goodbye before turning away to run, while still holding his shoe.
This was the sort of time where the numbing sensation of the cold was helpful to him. It helped him to forget the shame that was starting to fill his throat. The old man stopped him again. Kyungsoo’s shoulders droop down in frustration as he turned around. He may be an orphan but he wasn’t a disrespectful person, well, for the most part.
The man then completely stepped out of the door and tossed him a kitchen towel which he successfully caught out of reflex. “Wipe your hands, young man, and just come in for a while. We have a heater inside, get your shoes dried up at least. Come on in. My chefs are actually preparing a family meal at the moment, why don’t you join us? It’s my treat, I own this restaurant. You might as well stay in until the snowstorm is over.”
Kyungsoo felt tempted. Restaurant food? Treat? Heater?
Maybe accepting this nosy old man’s offer wasn’t such a bad idea. It’s his birthday, after all, he might as well have a proper meal that is prepared by real professional restaurant chefs. That simply doesn’t happen every day, at least not to him.
Doh Kyungsoo - 33 years old
He is the newly designated Head Chef of SCORCH Steakhouse & Bar and could later on potentially take over the restaurant, as stated by the owner himself, who treats him like a son. He got divorced last year from his wife of four years and has since been living alone with his male cat named Chef.
(He is aware that it isn't the most creative name for a pet, given that he is a chef himself, but the cat seems to like it and he wouldn't have it any other way.)
Ra Miyoung - 24 years old
She is the supposed heiress and the only child of Ra Wonsuk—the owner of SCORCH Steakhouse & Bar. She had been living and studying abroad for the past six years and had recently flown back home in hopes of finally taking over the restaurant despite her young age.
(She is aware that it's very ballsy of her, given that the only meal she can cook is instant ramen, but her B.A. degree should make up for it.)
Rom-Com, Drama, Age-Gap, Slice of Life, Enemies-to-Lovers,
POINT OF VIEW:
3rd Person Point-of-View
Hello! It's Otornim, back with another story. First of all, I want to thank you all for being here right now. If you are a returning reader from my previous story (including all the other stories of mine), welcome back! I really appreciate your undying support and I want you to know that your love really keeps me going every day. And if you are a new reader, HELLO HELLO, WELCOME TO HELL ES. No, it's not necessarily hell, not all the time. Just sometimes. One thing is for sure though ... This is going to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride for you. And that could both mean a good and a bad thing, but I will try my best to make it a good thing?
So, welcome and I hope you enjoy the ride!