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Warnings: Language, adult themes

Your finger moves quickly across the tablet screen and repeatedly stops as you figure out the best shelving layout with the store’s data from last month. You are lost in thought behind the registers occupied by sales associates. Their chatting is mostly blocked out, but their sudden giddiness and posture change slightly grab your attention.

“He’s so cute— , he’s walking over here,” one of them whispers in a panic.

“Language,” you warn before looking up to see who they are freaking out about. 

The unfortunate sight of San strolling through your store welcomes you. He already has a smile on his face, and it only gets smugger the moment you lock eyes.

“What are you doing here?” You sigh defeatedly, putting the tablet down and stepping around the counter.

“Is that how you greet all your customers?” He asks, “I think I need to speak to the manager.”

“I am the manager,” you deadpan, leading him away from the prying ears of your employees, “Why are you here?”

“I happened to be around, so I decided to drop by to see if you’re a hardass at work as well,” he jokes, “I got you coffee. Happy birthday.” He smiles, holding out the cup.

You’re caught off guard by the sweet gesture and hesitantly take it. 

“Oh- Thank you. You didn’t have to.”

You didn’t think he even knew when your birthday was. You’re going to end up with a sweet tooth for this man.

“Yeah, but I wanted to,” he says with his smile turning into a smirk, noticing he has made you sappy, “You know what else you get for your birthday?”

Knowing exactly where this is going, your index finger presses against his lips before he can get out another word. 

“Don’t. I’m at work. I don’t need you here talking about birthday ,” you warn, voice wavering between seriousness and laughing because goddamn, does the devil work hard but Choi San work harder.

His tongue sneakily your finger effectively removing it from his mouth, much to your dismay. While groaning and wiping his spit off on his shirt, you briefly notice the scoop neckline of it and how his defined collarbones peek out from underneath. Thoughts of peppered marks on them and being the one to do so cloud your mind as he speaks.

“I was gonna say a kiss,” he starts, mischief sparkling in his eyes, “But now I know where your mind is at.”

Your cheeks burn with embarrassment, and you try to play it off, “Your mind is always in the gutter-”

“If that’s what you want for your birthday, I think I can arrange that.”

“Hell no. Get out before someone hears you.”

He sighs, stepping towards you and making you back up, “If you change your mind about the birthday , you know where to find me.”

“San!” You smack his shoulder, making him chuckle.

“Impact play?”

“Get out!”

“I’ll see you tonight,” he says with a wink before turning to leave the store.

“Is he your boyfriend?” One of your cashiers asks excitedly.

“Definitely not.”

“Why not?”

“He likes being single,” you answer and give them warning glares.

“What’s happening tonight?” They tease, wiggling their eyebrows.

“We’re making decorations for our friends’ wedding. Would you busy yourselves? Go tidy up shelves or something.”

They grumble under their breaths.

“I’m your boss, not your bestie,” you remind them.

Behind the counter once again, you take a quick sip of the drink he brought. You’re surprised by the familiar taste. How does he know your favorite coffee drink? Since when did he care about your birthday? Why is he being so nice to you? It’s not that you’re mad about it, but it just seems suspicious.

San occupies your mind, which is unfortunate for your productivity. You can’t get his stupid face out of your head like he now lives there rent-free. The new shelving layout needs to be done so that you can figure out where to move things for a display of upcoming trends. Shipments are coming in next week, and your store is a bit behind schedule.

Although you try to refocus on the tablet, thoughts of birthday with San lure you down a rabbit hole. For a moment, you entertain those ideas. In your little scenario, you invite him over after work, blowing off your plans to go to Mina’s. Already on his way, he responds with “No one has to know.” Upon answering the door, you pull him inside your apartment by his shirt and crash your lips into his. He lets you take control, allowing you to use him as you please. You can almost hear him say with a smirk, “Don’t take it easy on me,” as you push him up against a wall. Mina blows up your phone asking where you are, but San simply puts it on silent. “Just tell her your battery died,” he murmurs against your lips before continuing to kiss you deeply.

What the hell is wrong with you? You’re at work! Due to confirmation bias, it’s all San’s fault. He is like quicksand. The harder you struggle to get out, the more you sink into him. Almost like he has been spying on your thoughts all day, San texted you while you were working.

From: San🖕
Take a nap because I’m gonna keep you up all night😉
3:17 PM

From: You
Omfg shut up
4:53 PM

You didn’t know exactly how you would spend your birthday, but making so many decorations for the wedding was not on your radar. To make it worse, Yujin invited herself to Mina’s apartment after hearing Mingi say something about wedding decorations. The hidden upside of the night is that you will see San, and it will fuel your dumb crush on him.

That same crush clouds your judgement enough to have you reaching for a coral blouse out of your closet as you’re getting ready to head over to Mina’s. When you arrive, only a few members of the wedding party are present. Kyungmi texts that she’s running late. One by one, the rest trickle in… Except for San.

Mina sends the guys into the kitchen to cut out sticker decals on her many cutting boards. Apparently, no one in the friend group owns a cutting mat for crafting. The plan for those decals is to put them on wine glasses Mina bought in bulk, but that is a task for the girls because Mina doesn’t trust them to line the decals up perfectly. The cups are for the wedding guests to reuse during the reception and to keep as gifts.

When you hear one of the guys say San’s name, you glance in their direction. This crafting ‘party’ has been going on for almost an hour, and it’s killing you to know what he’s doing. 

“Where’s San?” You ask, trying to hide your interest.

“Yunho isn’t here either,” Mina counters, and you nearly slap yourself across the face. How could you be so careless? Your brain almost short-circuits racing for a rationale.

“Well, I figured the best man would be here,” you stammer out.

“He’s out with his other friends. You’re welcome,” Mina playfully answers.

Those words stab at your heart. He knows it’s your birthday and still changed plans? But why are you upset? He’s not your friend. This shouldn’t personally bother you so much, but it does. He even said he would see you tonight…

“He has other friends?” Sejeong jokes.

It doesn’t completely bring your mood back up, but you chuckle a little.

“He might be making a new one right now.” Mina wiggles her eyebrows.

“You look stupid when you do that,” Yujin grumbles, voice laced with what you assume is jealousy.

“Well, he is out with his party friends, so…” Mina emphasizes, making sure Yujin hears loud and clear, “Wooyoung is basically a copy and paste.”

You like that Mina also rubs salt in Yujin’s wounds, even if it’s for a different reason to keep her from him. But then again, it feels like salt in your wounds too. You can’t stand the idea of him in bed with some girl he barely knows all over him. Even though that’s his business, jealousy can make you think ugly things.

Looking down at your shirt, you feel so ing stupid.

You pull yourself back together and start lining up the wine glasses on the table. Just after Seonghwa delivers a few dozen decals to you, Kyungmi busts through the front door.

“Guess who just won custody!”

You glance around at the other bridesmaids, who are just as confused as you.

“Huh?” Sejeong finally says something.

“My parents are giving my dog back. They had her while I was in college, and I broke them down enough to get her back. Wanna see pictures of her all cuddled up on my bed?”

Kyungmi doesn’t even wait for an answer. She must have pictures of her dog on deck at all times.

“Aw, what’s her name?” Yoojung coos, looking at a photo.


The dog is absolutely adorable, but there is something abnormal about her throughout all the pictures that has you hesitantly asking, “Does her tongue always hang out like that?”

“Yeah, she’s got a medical issue.”

“Wait, how old is she? You said your parents had her while you were in college, but she looks like a puppy.”

“She’s, like, seven, I think.”

Mina gasps as she remembers something and quickly whips out her phone.

“Do y’all want to see some pictures of Mingi from high school?”

“No, but don’t let that stop you,” Yujin deadpans.

“Was he a dork?” Kyungmi kids, putting her own phone away.

Mina pouts as she hands her phone to Yoojung and Sejeong, “Don’t be mean.”

“I mean, I was an anime kid, so…” Kyungmi trails off, lips pursing to make an ugly face, “It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.”

“Really?” Yoojung exclaims.

Kyungmi nods, “Yeah. Then, right before my sixteenth birthday, I was like, ‘What if I was hot?’”

“Yeah, what if,” Mina repeats, receiving a smack to her shoulder from Kyungmi.

Sejeong passes the phone to Kyungmi, and Mina peeks around the screen to swipe to another photo.

“He was on the basketball team?” Kyungmi is surprised, probably because she can’t picture him not being clumsy on the court.

“Yeah, but he was only on it because he was tall.” Mina swipes again.

Sejeong tilts her head next to Kyungmi’s and squints. “Wait, is that San?”

Your interest is suddenly piqued, but you act casually as you lean into Kyungmi to catch a glimpse. His long, dark hair covers half of his eyes, but his dimples give away that it’s him. There’s a boyish charm about him in the photo that makes you want to smile, but you suppress the urge. 

From the other room, you hear the refrigerator open and Jongho yelp, “Oh, ” followed by the other guys gasping.

“Be careful!” Mina warns with an eye roll.

“Can you come here for a second?”

Mina stands while muttering under her breath, “Oh, my ing god.”

They crowd around the kitchen island as Mina searches through some cabinets. Finally, Seonghwa emerges from the huddle with an adorably pink cake topped with lit candles, icing, and macarons.

“You guys didn’t have to do all this,” you say with glassy eyes as Seonghwa sets the cake on the table in front of you.

“Make a wish,” Mina smiles with the flames twinkling in her eyes.

It has been years since someone has said that to you. The last time was probably when you were a preteen. You can barely remember the things you wished for then. It was probably toys, a cell phone, or makeup. 

What should you wish for now? Money; a raise at work; stumble upon a wad of cash; a distant relative you’ve never heard of left their life’s fortune to you? A new job, preferably one that exercises your college degree? Good health and a long life? To fall in love? There is one thing all these ideas have in common. If somehow, this can manifest something, you just wish to be happy.

“Just blow out the candle. It’s not rocket science,” Mina jokes with a chuckle.

Right. It’s not.

“Alright, who wants a slice?” Mina claps her hands together as Seonghwa brings over plates and utensils. 

“I just want a small piece,” you inform Mina before she cuts one for you.

She furrows her brows, “No, you’re getting a slice thick with two C’s.”

You don’t want to waste it, so you might as well eat it. As much as you want to regret consuming these treats, they taste so good. The white chocolate rose macarons complement the vanilla cake with chocolate mousse filling well.

“Oh, my god, Seonghwa. Where did you get this cake?” Mina inquires, mouth full of cake with her hand hiding it.

“A little bakery over by my apartment.”

Mina nudges Mingi’s arm, almost causing him to drop his next bite in his lap, “We should check it out for our wedding cake.”

Once most of you are done eating, Sejeong suggests that you open your birthday gifts. You move a chair into the living room for your friends to watch comfortably on the couches.

“Hang on. I gotta go get my present. I hid it in the neighbor’s potted plant,” Kyungmi says in a rush to retrieve it.

Sejeong scrunches her face in confusion. “Why didn’t you just leave it in your car?”

“I wasn’t about to go all the way back down there.”

“There’s an elevator?”

“Yeah, and I wasn’t about to go all the way back down there,” she repeats as if it should be obvious that it would be too much work.

When she returns, you ask, hands hovering above the gifts, “Which one should I start with?”

“Save the big one for last,” Mina dismisses the large box.

“Start with the smallest one,” Yoojung suggests, and Kyungmi gets a large grin on her face.

You pick up the smallest bag and take note of how light it is. When you pull out all of the gift tissue paper, you’re met with something you weren’t quite expecting. A weird little stuffed creature with beady eyes stares back at you. As you take the plushy out, you find an envelope at the bottom of the bag. Your friends whisper among themselves asking what the gift is.

“It’s your adopted wombat!” Kyungmi chirps.

The paper inside the envelope confirms that it is a symbolically adopted wombat, specifically one named Gertrude. There’s even a photo of the wombat that benefits from the “adoption.”

“Why did you get her that?” Yoojung questions.

“She said she didn’t have a pet.”

“That’s cute,” Seonghwa approves.

As your friends discuss Kyungmi’s gift, you open the box from Yoojung. It’s a duffel bag; you remember her drunkenly pointing out at the bachelorette party how grungy the one you have been using is. Despite being put on blast for it, you’re thankful for the new one because truthfully, yours was disgusting.

“Those next,” Sejeong points out the matching gift bags. 

Her present is actually three separate bags containing a trio of fake plants. One is labeled as a spider plant, another as a pothos plant, and the last as a rubber plant. They’re cute and require no maintenance aside from dusting every now and again. There are a few places in your apartment that could use some decoration.

To give your friends a hard time, you sigh, “I’m starting to think you guys think I can’t keep anything alive.”

“You know, I’m honestly surprised you’re still here,” Mina jokes as she hands over another gift bag. You toss her an unimpressed glare.

“Because your apartment is always freezing,” Seonghwa chimes before you

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f3riy4l #1
Chapter 9: please update soon :(((
Chapter 9: OMG! Welcome back!!
As a late 20s currently single adult, mc is resonating to me way too well!

Also is seonghwa the 2nd lead??coz I'm here for it
momoxia #3
Chapter 9: Her anxieties and insecurities are just too real and relatable for me. And those little sweet gestures from San, oh gosh😭 I can't.
And thank you for the update!
Chapter 9: Uh I wouldn't mind bday and if it is San handing out my gift then I'm celebrating several times a year 😜
Great update! Thank you!!
Chapter 8: This is a blessing.. Will wait for the next updatr 💚💚
momoxia #6
Chapter 8: I'm crying because this story is so good and I've been missing them😭
Chapter 8: I would say that they both have it pretty bad for one another. I got a feeling that we might see fireworks sometime when they eventually connect.
Chapter 7: Their "relationship" is moving forward of sorts. When San needed someone to lift his spirits he called her and when she needed the same she agreed to his late night outing. It will continue to intrigue me how this plays out as the story progresses.
Thank you for the update!!!
Chapter 6: Such a great, GREAT update!! Everyone has insecurities and as we get older some if them magnify in our minds. I totally get where she is coming from. Nothing looks good on me!! Plus all the good ones are taken!!
F this b.s. Lady! Go get yourself some San!!