Of Marriage and Art

Of Wendy and Irene

For someone who has eyes watching her almost 24/7, perfection is a must. After all, she’s the girl who’s going to marry the heir of Alpha Corp. The heir who’s famous for his dashing looks, intelligence and his manner. Everyone thinks of him as if he’s on par with the gods. Yet, she knew it was just a façade.

Son Seungho is not as perfect as everyone thinks he is.

Why did she agree to marry him then?

Well, his wealth helped her cover for her mom’s medication. Her mom? She passed away due to the surgery having complications. She now has no family left.

--- ---

“Just live with my sister. You know me, I need my space,”

“Is your sister even aware that I’ll be living with her?”

“Yeah… She doesn’t mind, she’s not at home most of the time,”

And that’s how Bae Joohyun starts living in sister in law’s apartment instead of in her husband’s penthouse. A weird dynamic but she’s thankful. After all, she would hate it if he touched her and she’s just grateful he’s nice enough to not force himself on her. The payment of his good deeds on helping her mom? Well, she has to stay in this marriage for three years, an agreement just so that he can get his share of wealth in Alpha Corp.

“Joohyun unnie,” Seungwan calls out and the older of the two her head to the source of voice. “Help me with these, please?”

Joohyun walks to the younger and her jaw drops at the 2 huge blank canvases that Seungwan has managed to drag upstairs, “Shouldn’t they have some delivery service for these?”

“I rejected it. Save money,”

The older woman sighs, not understanding her sister-in-law uniqueness. You see, for anyone who doesn’t know that Son Seungwan and Son Seungho are related, they will not think that they’re siblings. Seungho is all about looking dashing and expensive – a chaebol heir. Seungwan? Seungwan looks like a girl next door who’s having simple life and have troubles of choosing to pay her own tuition fee or asking her parents for help.

“What are these for anyway?”

“Well… I’m planning to paint a landscape showing sunset on one canvas and the other is just a city view from a bird’s point of view,”

“Yeah?”

Seungwan nods.

“And how would you even get the reference for those two?”

“Well, I’m planning to go to Jeju this weekend and I’ve bought a drone, it will arrive soon. I’ll just fly it to the top of the building to record everything so I can paint it,” Seungwan beams. “Would you like to go with me, unnie?”

That’s how she finds herself in a hotel in Jeju with her husband’s sister. She thinks someone took a shot of them but Seungwan has mentioned that it’s fine. After all, bonding with your husband’s family is not wrong. Sometimes her mind thinks of that time when Seungho told her how Seungwan is not even home most of the time and she wants to ask him how well he knew his sister. The reason is that out of a year of living in Seungwan’s apartment, the younger girl of five years is always home.

They walk side by side to the beach, a camera slung on Seungwan’s neck and the younger girl keeps on filling in the calmness with conversations. Seungho’s sister loves to talk and she doesn’t mind listening to her. After all, there’s always this joyful glint on her eyes when she tells her stories and Joohyun loves it.

Joohyun gets a call near midnight and she frowns when Seungho is calling her, “Hello, oppa?”

“Why are you at Jeju?”

“What?” She glances at the sleeping figure next to her and she walks out of the bedroom. “Didn’t Seungwan tell you that we’re going there?”

He sighs, “She didn’t… Take the earliest flight tomorrow morning and bring her back too. We’re going to have lunch with my parents.”

“Ok, see you tomorrow,”

He ends the call without any reply from his side. She sighs as she stares at her phone and about to walk back to her room when she spots Seungwan leaning against the door frame.

“He found out?”

Joohyun’s eyebrows knit in confusion for a moment, “Why didn’t you tell him? You told me you’ve let him know about it.”

Seungwan shrugs, “He normally doesn’t care about you or about me. He only cares about getting his share of the company.”

And Joohyun sees the loneliness in Seungwan’s eyes, how she craves for that affectionate loving from her family. She knew about how her parents have no time for her but she didn’t know that Seungho doesn’t pay attention to her too.

“Seungwan-ah,” she calls out softly and the younger looks up to her. “Let’s check the flight schedules tomorrow,”

“Can I leave that to you, unnie? My passport is on the table,”

“You want me to decide alone?”

Seungwan frowns, not getting why choosing a flight is such a burdensome task to the older, “Do you need my card or something?”

“I was thinking we can catch the sunrise before going to the airport. We didn’t get to see the sunset because it was cloudy,”

“Oh…”

“So do you want to decide with me?”

“Of course!”

Seungwan walks to her and plops on the chair, taking the iPad on the table and browse through immediately. The image reminds her of a kid excited for their trip to the zoo. Sometimes Joohyun forgets how Seungwan is just an eighteen years old kid, having a brother who’s fifteen years older than her and his eyes only set on the company.

Joohyun watches Seungwan mixing the colours on her palette, the odd round shape of what seemed to be the sun has turned more beautiful as time goes by. The smell of oil paint lingers in the air and she has to constantly reminds the younger girl that the windows should remain open in her painting room. She munches on the cut fruit and pokes one with her fork before giving it to the younger girl, the latter happily accepts it.

“Come out of this room soon, Seungwan. I already feel suffocated even when I’m here for ten minutes, you’ve been here for so long,”

“I’m just going to finish up the sun, it should be done soon, I guess,”

“That’s what you said a week ago,”

Seungwan pouts, “Oil painting takes patience, unnie. You have to wait for it to dry up before you can add layers on top of it. The sun looked terrible, didn’t it?”

“It did, honestly,”

The younger chuckles, “I’ll get out soon, drag me out if I’m not done in ten.”

“Alright… I’ll cut up more fruits for you,”

“Thanks, unnie. You’re the best,”

Joohyun ruffles her hair as a response and hears slight whines, but she just smiles and gets out of the room. She takes out a pear and grape before washing the fruits on the sink. Who would’ve thought that she’d be a housewife/ babysitter for her husband’s sister in the age of twenty-three? Her college degree is useless for now. She still has one and a half year for their marriage agreement, and she agreed to not work at all during the agreement.

It takes four more months to finish up that one painting of a sunrise but the end result is so beautiful. Apart from the filled canvas, their relationship has grown as well. Sometimes they’d cuddle when they watch some shows – the reason being the weather is cold and it’s perfect for some snuggling. Her cold hands being warmed up by Seungwan’s warmer ones and she will never admit it but she loves it when Seungwan sits behind her, the latter’s arms all around her tummy.

“Wan?” Joohyun calls out but she doesn’t hear any response. “Seungwan?” she calls out again and tries to look back, only to find the latter snuggles more into the crook of her neck. Is she asleep? She’s stuck there in Seungwan’s arms, her back pressing the younger girl’s entire front and she bites her lower lip, thinking that this position is quite intimate. How come she didn’t realise it before?

Well, she’d blame it on the weather, really. It’s winter season and the heater might help but she just feels that it’s perfect for a snuggling time. Seungwan looked at her for a moment when she requested for a snuggle for the first time but the next time they sit on the couch, Seungwan would be the one pulling her close, their limbs tangled, their body pressed.

Joohyun waits for the younger to wake up but the sun has set and she still hears soft snores near her ear. She caresses the latter’s arms gently, her thumb brushing against the tattoo on the side of her finger. She frowns when she sees an Aries zodiac symbol on her finger. From her knowledge, none of Seungwan’s family member is an Aries and the girl herself is a Pisces. The only Aries is her.

She knows the younger girl loves tattoos. She once accidentally walked in when she was changing and she saw black ink decorating her back, just below her right shoulder. She also knew about that tattoo on her left ankle or that one behind her ear. They’re all small tattoos, nothing bigger than her palm. Yet, this Aries tattoo still intrigues her. She’d ask the meaning later when she wakes up, after all, Seungwan is always happy when she speaks about her tattoo.

“You tattooed an Aries symbol on your finger because you thought you were an Aries?”

Seungwan nods, “I was dumb. Should’ve googled it or something, I trusted my tattooist whole-heartedly.”

Joohyun chuckles, “Well… You can always laser it and change it to Pisces.”

The younger stares at her finger, a soft smile on her face, “I’d like to keep the Aries…”

“Well, it’s your choice, Seungwan,” she caresses her hair and smiles.

“Is it?”

Joohyun hums, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Eleven months before the end of Joohyun’s marriage agreement, they both got intoxicated. The older of the two curses herself for lowering her guard, sleeping with her sister-in-law is scandalous. It doesn’t matter that they both were drunk and just in need of some quick release. What matters is that she’s older and she’s supposed to have better control of things, yet they both wake up in birthday suit and the soreness down below confirms the fact she slept with her sister-in-law.

She gets out the bed and quickly dress up, leaving her home and drive back to her own simple and old apartment. Her place is already tattered, and she takes almost the entire day to make the place liveable. She’s just thankful that the water, electricity and gas still work even though she’s sure she forgot to pay for it for a month or two. She takes her phone, aiming to pay her utilities only to frown at the numerous calls and messages Seungwan has left.

She’s about to ignore it when she receives another message from the younger.

Unnie, you know we have to talk about it.

When you’re ready, I’ll be at home as always

She ignores the text and she pays her utilities. She spends the next month in her apartment and aim to keep on doing that so that she doesn’t have to see Seungwan. She doesn’t know what she’d do if she sees the younger girl before she’s ready. Because she’d be lying to herself if seeing Seungwan in her birthday suit next to her doesn’t bring butterflies to her tummy or the fragments of that night in her mind doesn’t make her blush or being so close to Seungwan doesn’t make her heart races.

She knows she likes her husband’s sister.

Her attempt to move on has tiny progress but then she receives a phone call from Seungho.

“Why aren’t you at Seungwan’s?”

“I- I decided to stay for a bit in my own apartment. I miss home,”

He stays mum for a moment, “My sister misses you… She called me earlier to ask if I knew anything about your whereabouts. She has stopped bothering me ever since you moved to her place, can you go back to her apartment, Joohyun?”

“Do I really have to?”

“I can’t focus at the office with my sister’s calls. Just ten more months and you’ll be free from all this. Please?”

“Oppa, living with Seungwan has nothing to do with our agreement in the first place. I-“

“I know… But I haven’t seen my sister that happy. She was just glowing on that family dinner and I just- I know I’m not a good brother to her. But I just hope you can be a good companion for my sister. Please? Ten more months. Just live with her for ten more months,”

“Ok… I’ll go back tomorrow,”

“Thank you,”

And the call ends. Joohyun sighs and she plops on her bed. She stares at the duffle bag she brought back then and start packing up not long after.

Seungwan isn’t home. That’s the first thing she notices. The apartment feels so stuffy, and she wonders when was the last time the younger girl was even home? She drops her duffle bag near the entrance and walks to open the window to let the fresh air in. Just when she’s about to open another window, she stumbles upon a small canvas on the floor. She takes the white fabric covering the painting and opens wide at the portrait of herself smiling.

“It’s acrylic,”

“S-Seungwan, I thought you weren’t home,”

The younger girl shrugs her shoulders and go to the fridge to grab a beer.

“Since when do you even drink beer?”

“A week ago, maybe?”

“Why don’t you open the windows?”

Seungwan shrugs her shoulders again before plopping on the dining chair, “You’re not home to remind me.”

“Seungwan-ah,” Joohyun sighs and she plops on the chair next to her. “I- sigh… You know why I left,”

“Why?”

“You’re my husband’s sister and I-“

“You didn’t even consummate your marriage, I know that. You’re just in an agreement, I know that too. What’s wrong with us then?”

The older frowns and she stays mum.

“Unnie, I’ve- I’ve wanted you from the beginning. That’s why I asked you to go to Jeju with me. I just want a special place for the two of us. I just want to make memories with you, good memories. In hope that after your agreement, you’d stay with me,”

Joohyun looks at her and the younger continues, “I didn’t realise I liked you until we started snuggling. I love having you in my arms. I love how- how nice it is to be close to you. Am I the only one?”

The older girl slowly shakes her head and the next thing she knows, a pair of lips meet hers.

“Unnie… I thought I wouldn’t see you anymore,” Seungwan whispers and leans in to capture her lips again. “I’m glad I got to keep my Aries,” she mutters softly and Joohyun smiles, finally knowing the real reason of that Aries symbol on Seungwan’s finger. Their kiss deepens and the four walls of her apartment witness them making love with each other again.

Three months before the end of the agreement, Seungwan brought her to a jewellery shop. The younger asked her to choose a couple bracelets for both and the night was spent making love on the living room.

A month before the end of the agreement, Seungho walks into his sister’s apartment, finding both of them without any fabric covering their bodies.

“How long has this been?” He closes her bedroom door to have a private conversation with his sister.

“Oppa… It’s not like she’s yours or anything,” Seungwan sighs and she stares at her brother who has no expression on his face.

“How long?”

“We… We had a month before I started to bombard your phone again. Joohyun left because she thought it’s wrong for us to do so, I’m your sister after all… but well, the feelings are mutual. We love each other- well, we like each other enough,”

Seungwan doesn’t expect her older brother to hug her tightly, “I’m so glad you find someone, Seungwan.”

“What?” she looks at her brother as if he’s growing two heads.

“Joohyun’s a nice person. I know at least that much. What we have to do now is to be careful with our parents,”

“What?” she asks dumbly again.

“What do you think of going overseas to pursue your masters or maybe try to work there? Bring Joohyun with you,”

--- ---

Joohyun and Seungwan walks hand in hand. The younger interlocks their finger before putting both hands inside her pocket. The snow has fallen in Paris and the older of the two has no plan of going out of their comfortable home yet there she is, dragged by the twenty-six years old art critic for a dinner.

As they both reach home, Joohyun unwraps the scarf around her neck and hang her coat on the hanger. She’s about to switch on the heater when she sees Seungwan bends on one knee, “Unnie, marry me?”

“Oh…”

“I’m- I’m supposed to propose you in the restaurant, but I got nervous,”

“Why would you get nervous?” Joohyun chuckles, tucking strands of hair behind her ear.

“Well… A beautiful woman might just reject me and I’d be crying out horribly if that happens. I mean she was my brother’s wife in the first place, who knows she wants him again?”

Joohyun pushes her lover and Seungwan clutches onto Joohyun’s shirt as she lost her balance. They both ends up on the floor with the older being on the top.

“Huh… This position feels very familiar,” a teasing smile on the older woman’s face, her hand caressing the younger’s cheek.

Seungwan chuckles and pecks her lips, “It does feel familiar. Something that we do almost every night, hmm?”

Joohyun smacks her chest playfully and she groans a little, her face full of smiles.

“So, marry me Joohyun unnie?”

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