I had always hated going to formal gatherings.
The endless fake smiles, fake laughs that I had to do out of courtesy was starting to make me sick.
I would rather stay at home and read books instead of socializing with these ugly, pretentious old hags and brats who were only kind to me because of my family’s status.
Build connections for it was what would help you survive in this disgusting society.
Even if I was just a child, I was already aware of that fact.
I had been experiencing it first-hand, after all.
That was why I prefer to keep to myself.
To avoid being a tool for humans’ selfish agenda.
But meeting that person that one fated evening made things a little more bearable.
We were invited to a party to celebrate a certain grand opening of a hospital owned by a family that was known in the field of medicine.
As usual, I was just sitting in one corner away from the noises while enjoying a book I bought using the money from my own savings.
I was already on the part where Hercule Poirot was about to reveal who the real culprit was when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Series of profanities were ready to spill out of my mouth and attack the ears of whoever had the nerve to disturb me while I was reading.
The moment that I looked up however and saw the cheeky smile of a kid, I could only choke on my own saliva.
“Hi!” She extended her hand for a handshake. “My name is Ryujin!”
I found myself gulping in nervousness.
....she’s so cute.
I accepted her hand, praying that she wouldn’t feel the slight tremble of my own.
“Jimin? That’s a beautiful name!”
She was talking with so much enthusiasm, making her voice a little too loud for my liking.
Normally, I would’ve found her annoying, but strangely, all I could feel was the faint beating of my heart that was beginning to pick up its pace.
“What are you reading?” She craned her neck to try to take a peek at my book.
“The Mysterious Affair at Styles.”
“Oh, I know that one!”
My eyes widened.
“Yeah!" She placed both her hands on her hips, chin up. “My sister and I used to read it together.”
I unconsciously smiled.
This was the first time I met someone my age who was interested in a book that required a high level of knowledge to understand the content.
It was rather hard to believe.
And this girl...
I was not sure if her pretty face was just clouding my judgment, but it felt like her intentions were genuine, that she was talking to me because she wanted to and not because she had hidden agenda.
To say I was happy was an understatement.
I was exhilarated.
“That’s good to know...”
“Do you like it?”
“I do.” I nodded, feeling giddy that I get to talk to someone about one of the things that I like. “Hercule Poirot is the best detective of all time.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
I turned to where the voice came from.
A kid around my age came into view.
She had her arms folded over her chest, a bored look on her face while yawning.
The irrational part of me found her very attractive.
Dark eyes that seemed to sparkle brighter than any celestial body.
Tall, pointed nose that complimented her face nicely.
Pinkish thin lips that looked so... soft.
And her boyish charm to top off the beautifully handsome appearance.
I would’ve swooned, if not for what had just come out of that mouth.
I threw her a glare.
“Sherlock Holmes is the best detective of all time,” she said. “Hercule Poirot is merely the second-best.”
There was now a smirk etched on her lips as if challenging me to disagree with her statement.
Who was this arrogant kid?
I was meeting her now for the first time, but I already hate her.
“Mj!” Ryujin suddenly stood up to approach the arrogant kid. “It’s not nice to call people names.”
Hold on a second.
They knew each other?
“But it’s true,” she argued. “She is stupid for even implying that there is someone above Sherlock Holmes.”
My face burned in anger.
How dare she call me stupid?
Me? Jimin Yoo?
“Um, I am sorry for my sister’s behavior.” Ryujin chuckled awkwardly. “She’s just not in the mood. Please, don’t take it seriously.”
I inhaled deeply to calm my nerves.
Control yourself, Jimin.
“I-It’s okay. Don’t worry.”
She sent me a grateful smile before turning to face her sister again. They seemed to be arguing about something with how the kid kept on scoffing and rolling her eyes.
I rubbed my nape awkwardly as I looked around to see if someone else was also witnessing this scene before me, but all of them were all too engrossed in their own world to even notice.
How did I even get myself involved in this situation?
I saw Ryujin released an exhausted sigh.
An apologetic smile was plastered on her face when she went near me again.
“I’m sorry but I have to go.”
Something akin to disappointment sat upon my stomach upon hearing that.
“It was nice meeting you, Jimin.” She waved her hand. “See you later.”
I watched as she pulled the arrogant kid she called Mj with her towards the crowd, the latter’s eyes never leaving mine.
There was something swirling in those dark orbs that I couldn’t quite pinpoint.
“We’ll see each other again, Jimin Yoo.”
I confess that after what happened yesterday, my hatred towards Minjeong had decreased by a minuscule amount. She could be a decent person if she wanted to, surprisingly. If only she was always like that, maybe the world would be a better place.
And that lunch that we had on the rooftop...
I expected it to be like how it had always been.
Full of banters, teasings, cursings, and everything I would only do whenever Minjeong was around.
But for some reason, she was uncharacteristically silent throughout our time together, a distant faraway look in her eyes.
It somewhat annoyed me for I wasn’t used to her not giving me her full attention.
I even tried to open a subject that I was certain would result in an eventual heated argument in an effort to get us two back to our usual dynamic.
“Agatha Christie is better than Arthur Conan Doyle.”
“Sherlock Holmes is a pathetic excuse of a detective.”
“Baseball is a boring sport.”
I kept on going until I decided it was better to just keep my mouth shut rather than embarrass myself even further by talking to air.
I should be happy I know.
However, the unfamiliar behavior bothered me.
It bothered me more than I would like to admit.
I didn’t even have the time to dwell too much on Ryujin because I was too busy wondering what caused her to act the way she did.
My hand automatically stopped stabbing the poor meat on my plate.
I have got quite a problem in hand.
“Mind your manners, young lady.” The reprimanding tone had me scoffing. “It is disrespectful to not look someone in the eye when talking.”
I put the utensils carelessly down on the table as I lifted my head, giving myself time to study these faces in front of me that were hardly familiar to me anymore.
I wasn’t sure when exactly did they come back and never bothered to find out since I wasn’t interested.
I just woke up to our maid knocking on my door, informing me that they wished to have breakfast with me.
“Why are you two even here?” My father stared at me pointedly, but I merely brushed it off because both of them had to hear this. “What? Did y’all struck your heads and suddenly remembered you have another daughter or something?”
“Katarina,” came his warning tone.
It had been so long since I heard my baptismal name and it sounded so foreign to me now.
“Let her be.” I looked at my mother who had the nerve to still enjoy her food as if nothing was going on. “She’s at her rebellious phase. That’s normal for teenagers.”
That was all she had to say?
“This is not a phase, Dr. Yoo,” I countered through gritted teeth. “Even if you two died of all age, I would remain like this.”
“Katarina Yoo!” My father shot up from his chair, veins popping in his temple. “How dare you speak like that to your mother?!”
“My mother?” It was absurd to even have myself say it out loud. “Don’t make me laugh.”
That seemed to edge him even more I could’ve sworn I saw fumes came out of his ears.
“You insolent child—!”
“Stop disrespecting the food,” my mother interjected calmly as she wiped clean with the table napkin. “Cease the nonsense drama, will you?”
It was ridiculous how she could still act normal when her husband and daughter were arguing before her.
She must’ve mastered the art of not giving a and graduated with flying colors.
That or she was just good at pretending.
My father appeared as if he wanted to say something more, but the arrival of one of our maids refrained him from doing so.
“Miss Jimin.” She bowed her head. “Someone claiming to be your friend is looking for you.”
Aeri didn’t inform me that she would come over.
“Someone named Minjeong Kim.”
“The Minjeong Kim?” My mother seemed quite surprised while my father was giving me a questioning gaze. “Let her in.”
Oh, no. I knew that look.
“I didn’t know you are friends with her.”
“Of course, you didn’t.”
“That’s good.” She nodded her head, satisfied. “She’s the one person you should be associating yourself with. A gifted child excelling in a lot of fields.”
Here she goes again with build connections crap.
Honestly, what was I even expecting?
I may hate that devil, but I wouldn’t want anyone, even my parents to view her like some sort of an object.
“Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Yoo.”
I tilted my head to see the newly arrived person only to hold my breath.
Minjeong in the morning was such a sight to see.
Her damped bob cut hair that framed her face perfectly.
The blazer that was hanging freely upon her shoulders.
The loose tie around her neck.
And the white polo underneath, the top two buttons were undone, causing the upper part of her chest to be exposed for the whole world to see and the snowflake necklace I remember seeing on her as a child.
...she’s really y.
“Good morning to you too, Miss Kim.” It was my father who stood up to welcome the devil who was rigidly standing by the archway of our kitchen. “Join us in our meal.”
“I appreciate the invite but I have already eaten.” Then her eyes landed upon me. “I only came here to fetch your daughter.”
I saw both my parents raised their brows in intrigued as if something blasphemous was already brewing inside their heads.
Even though I don’t want them to get the wrong idea about me and Minjeong, I also don’t see why I had to explain myself to them when they weren’t even asking anything.
“You heard her, Katarina.”
I pushed myself off the chair and proceeded to drag Minjeong away without bothering to say goodbye.
We were already in our living room when I heard her speak.
“You really are so aggressive, babe,” she commented, malice lacing her voice. “If this is your way of telling me you are a top, then you are failing miserably.”
I felt my face heat up.
“Why did you come here?” I said, ignoring her sly innuendos. “What is it that you want, Minjeong?”
She let out a low giggle.
“I came here to fetch you.”
“You already said that.”
“Then why are you still asking?”
I spun around to see her already wearing her damned favorite expression and for some unknown reason, it relieved me knowing that she was still the Minjeong Kim that I came to be familiar with.
What happened yesterday was probably just a one-time thing.
Because I do not know how to act when she’s not being her usual self and I don’t like it at all.
I don’t like having to face the unknown. It made me feel like a child with no knowledge of the world.
“You know exactly what I am talking about!”
“This is one of the privileges you have gained after being my girlfriend.” She held my hand, gently pulling me along with her. “Besides, I don’t want you to miss me too much.”
This girl had no shame at all.
“Miss you my .”
She opened the door of her car for me, a hand hanging in the air for me to take, but I shoved it away and hopped inside on my own.
I held my tongue until she settled herself on the driver’s seat before speaking again.
“You really had to barge in my house just as when my parents decided to pay me a visit.”
This time, she was driving at a moderate speed, eyes scanning the road and the traffic signs carefully.
“What’s up with that?”
“You shouldn’t have met them.”
“Jimin, I already met them several times.”
“At parties, yes,” I pointed out. “This one is different.”
“And how is it different?”
“You just told them that you came over to our house to fetch me. I am sure they are now thinking that we have some kind of relationship.”
“What of it? It’s the truth, anyway.”
Oh my god.
It was useless trying to talk to her.
Why did I even try?
“I’ll be really busy today since there are paper works I need to finish as the vice president and as a student. As tempting as skipping my duties to be with you sounds, I can’t. Text me, okay?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Sure, I guess.”
When she didn’t respond, I took it as a chance to ask her the question that had been in mind ever since her proposition.
At first, I thought it didn’t matter as long as she was going to hold up her end of the deal, but as the days passed by, I found myself growing more and more curious.
“I have a question.”
She briefly looked at me, eyebrows scrunched in wonder.
“What is it?”
I took a deep breath.
“I’m just curious of your reason as to why you are helping me. I figured there is more to it that you are refusing to tell me.”
She chewed on her lower lip.
“I just want to help.”
“Bull,” I deadpanned. “If your only reason was to help me, then you wouldn’t suggest that I date you for a month.
“Come on, Mj,” I smirked when her eyes widened a bit at the use of her childhood nickname. “I’m your girlfriend, aren’t I? It’s only normal that you tell me the truth.”
“Or will you rather I break up with you?”
dropped on the floor of her car comically.
Have a taste of your own medicine!
“What will it be, Mj?”
It took a whole minute before I heard her sigh in defeat.
“Boys only want love if it’s torture,” she began to say. “According to Taylor Swift.”
“I thought maybe it is the same for me. That I only want you because you hate me. That I only like the torture.” Her jaw clenched. “That maybe if I get to experience how it feels to have you as my girlfriend, then my feelings would finally disappear.”
That shut me up.
When we arrived at school, I immediately took the opposite direction to avoid being seen with her before taking out my phone to message Aeri.
Jimin: You at school already?
Aeri: Uh-huh. I’m in the room.
Thank god she was an early bird.
I still have thirty minutes to spare before our first class starts. Might as well use that time to rest my mind even for a short amount of time.
I dropped myself on my seat with a loud thud.
“Yeah, well, a lot of things happened this morning.”
That caught her interest.
“Mind sharing it with me?”
“Maybe later, Ri. I’m tired.” I placed my arms on my desk, burying my face on them afterward. “Wake me up once our prof arrives.”
The morning flew by quickly without me noticing as I was too occupied with my thoughts. Thoughts of someone I shouldn’t be thinking of in the first place. Someone I never imagined would mess with my mind.
I never really took her feelings for me seriously, thinking that she was fooling around. I mean, who in their right mind would believe someone who was known for being a deceitful person saying she was in love with you?
It was only normal that I didn’t believe her.
How could she be even in love with me when all she did ever since the first time we met each other was made me feel like I was the most foolish person to ever walk the earth?
Where was the logic?
But upon knowing the reason for the deal, maybe, bit by bit, I was starting to believe that she was indeed in love with me.
When the bell rang, I quickly fished out my phone to check her messages because that was how it normally was after our morning classes.
Updates about her day.
Lame pick-up lines.
I love yous.
My shoulders dropped, however, when I saw nothing but my wallpaper staring back at me.
Why didn’t she message me?
I kept my eyes on my phone until a realization hit me.
She was busy.