The door to the apartment opened, the man looked at the owner of the abode apologetically, the said owner glared at the man, although she moved away to let the man enter the apartment, he walked to the board in the middle of room, filled with names, dates, pictures, notes, and arrows from one side to the other.
“Where have you been your highness?” Daeun asked, her tone was undeniably mocking.
“I was about to leave the consulate, when the Consulate General received a phone call from the Grand Duke, so I had to stop by for a chat,” Jongin explained. “And that’s why I missed the timing to avoid traffic.”
Daeun crossed her arms, “I hate it when his excuse is about royal stuff, no one can do anything about it!”
Baekhyun chuckled, “He could be lying you know, but he uses that excuse because he knows you can’t say anything about it.”
Daeun squinted her eyes at Jongin and moved her body forwards, “Is that true?”
“Ha. Ha. Ha.” Jongin laughed awkwardly, “Of course not,” he walked to the kitchen while avoiding the journalist’s stare, “Do you not prepare coffee for me?”
“We did, but we split it to two because it was getting cold while waiting for you,” Baekhyun answered while taking a sip of the said liquid.
“I also just remembered, Seyeon told me to cut back your caffeine intake,” Daeun snapped.
Jongin smiled at the mention of his beloved wife, “There is no one better than Choi Seyeon,” he sighed, “Oh, how much I missed her.”
Daeun walked to the board, opened the marker with her teeth, and spat out the lid, where it fell on the floor. The men decided not to pick up the black lid for hygienic reasons. “Then, the faster we finish this investigation, the faster you can be lovey dovey with your wife. Baekhyun oppa, update.”
“Bossy,” Baekhyun mouthed to his cousin, the social politics student snickered. “Both of you stop talking behind my back, literally,” the senior assistant ordered without taking her eyes of the board.
“It is confirmed, that someone from the First Grand Prince Manor bribed a court lady from the Crown Princess’ Residence, her name is Moon Cheongran. We can compare the amount withdrawals and deposits, between Moon Cheongran and any royal member. The problem is, we need a warrant to be able to check,” Baekhyun explained, while Daeun kept writing down the information.
Jongin closed his eyes with his brows creased together and rubbed his temple, his habit while he was concentrating, “So eventually, we would need a police cooperation.”
“Aye,” Baekhyun confirmed. “Bigger obstacle is, she doesn’t work at the palace anymore. I might have a general idea where she might be.”
“Oppa, let me know when you’re not on shift. We can go look for her together,” Daeun suggested, earning a nod from the police. “What about you?” She asked the prince.
“Only one of Minseok Seja’s detail had been AWOL to this day, his name is Ahn Kijoong, he didn’t even take his last pay,” Jongin sighed.
“I’m not even going to say sorry about your uncle anymore,” Daeun paused from writing the notes, “Bribery, and the possibility of murdering a whole family. How many was it?” Daeun counted with her fingers, ”That’s ten without the Second Crown Princess’ miscarriages! What else do we not know?”
Reading his cousin’s expression carefully, Baekhyun suggested, “How about we focus on the murder charge, let the police investigate other crimes he did?” When no one made any comment, he continued, “Okay then, let’s discuss task distribution.”
Daeun and Baekhyun have been walking around the neighborhood, looking for Moon Cheongran, with no luck. Three cups of instant noodle, four packages of triangle kimbaps, and two bottles of banana milk later, Daeun and Baekhyun decided to just sit for a while with ice cream on their hands. “If Moon Cheongran have been assisting Grand Prince Jongdae for more than a decade, what makes you think she would actually live in the house she is registered at?”
“It seems like no one has been suspecting anything, that give her enough confident to stay on the grid,” Baekhyun said, his teeth did not stop from chewing the ice cream stick, his eyes stared blankly at the stationary store across the street.
Daeun slapped Baekhyun’s arm to alert him of a passing woman, she took out her phone to make sure that the woman was indeed their witness, “That’s Moon Cheongran,” she whispered, though it sounded more like a question. Baekhyun nodded.
The duo stood up from their seats, before Baekhyun could take a step, Daeun stop him, the police looked at the journalist with questioning look. “You throw away the garbage, I’ll follow her,” she ordered.
“Hello? I’m the police,” Baekhyun reminded.
“How do you think it would look when a young man following a middle age woman around?” Daeun stared at Baekhyun knowingly. “Exactly,” she said and left the convenient store. Speechless Baekhyun stood frozen on his spot for two seconds before he came back to his sense, threw away the garbage, and walked to the direction Moon Cheongran─and eventually Daeun─went.
Daeun jumped a little on her spot when Baekhyun tapped her on the shoulder. She turned her head and glared at the man, “A little heads up would suffice.”
“And spook the witness?” Baekhyun shook his head, “You know you are a better journalist than that.”
Daeun hit his rib lightly with her elbow before walking inside the country side house, “Hello, my name is Shim Daeun, I’m a journalist with News Kyunghyang,” she smiled at the woman prepping ingredients while handing her business card. “Is this the residence of Moon Cheongran?”
The former palace court lady stared at the journalist, “That’s me, how can I help you?”
“You see, I am currently writing an article about the people worked at the palace,” Daeun started, “I would like to listen to your experience.”
“There are a lot more palace attendants that currently work there, I think you should interview them instead,” the middle age woman refused.
“They are still bound to nondisclosure agreement in their contract,” Daeun made an excuse.
“Look for other younger attendant, I’m sure they can remember more clearly than this wrinkly brain of mine,” Moon Cheongran stood up and took the basket of bean sprout with her, just as she arrived at the entrance of her home, Baekhyun’s voice made her stop, “But none of them took bribe from Grand Prince Jongdae.”
The retired court lady turned around, and look at the man at the entrance of her property with anger in her eyes, “How dare you accuse me of such crime?”
Baekhyun put his hands in his pocket, “Am I wrong then?” he approached the journalist and stop beside her.
“Yes, you are wrong,” the woman at the door said confidently.
“Fine with me then,” Baekhyun took out his handcuff