Chapter 15

I Is For Irony

“So what’ve you been up to?” Jaejoong asked, handing Lina a strawberry slushie.

 

“What’re you drinking?”

 

He chuckled.  “Good to know you don’t answer questions directly.  Hot water.”

 

She made a face.  “Geez, I didn’t know you were that hard core about not eating sweets.  I’ve been working on my cooking.  You know, I promised you that I’d make you a dessert that you’d eat.”

 

 

“It’s part of my diet.  We’re not supposed to drink things that might ruin our voice.          “

 

She rolled her eyes.  “Your voice is plenty pretty.  C’mon, try mines.  Besides, the weather is too hot to drink boiling water.”  She pushed her drink towards him.

 

 

“I don’t know…”  He reached his hand towards the cup.

 

“Yes, don’t give in to peer pressure.  That’s what I’ve always taught my kids.”  Lina laughed and took hold of the slushie.

 

 

“Oh…” He pulled his hand back and let it drop in his lap.  “Are you on vacation?”

 

“Yep.  Summer, finally.”

 

“Is there anywhere you want to go?”

 

 

“Hm…I’ve never been to Korea, so I don’t know…” She paused to think.  “Somewhere with a lot of kids.”  A smile lit her face.  “Maybe a theme park?  Or a zoo!”

 

 

“Can we not?” he blurted out.  He shook his head.  No, he couldn’t be like that; after all, Lina was the guest this time.  Correcting himself, he continued, “ You really like kids, don’t you?” 

 

“That’s why I’m a preschool teacher, after all.  Don’t you like kids too?  Peggy really misses you.  You should come back to visit.”

 

 

He shuddered.  “All kids scare me---except for my relatives and your students.  I think it’s because I was around them too much.”

“You know, that’s not a bad thing---being around kids.  You should get over your pedophobia.”

 

 

He blew on his cup of water and took a sip.  “I don’t think that’s possible.”

 

 

“It’s settled.  We’re going somewhere with a lot of kids.”  She nodded excitedly, but then she looked at her watch.  “It’s getting late… maybe not today…”

 

“Have you eaten yet?”

 

She shook her head and drank her slushie.  “Nope, but this is good.”

 

“Tsk, tsk.  You really shouldn’t do that to yourself.  Let’s go and eat, ok?” He beamed at her.

 

 

 

Lina nodded obediently.  It seemed as if she could never say no to him.  Whatever he said was gold.  And nobody could turn down gold.

 

 

Jaejoong stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets.  “So…anything you want to eat?”

She bit her lip and smiled.  “I heard of this one place…”

 

*****

 

If it hadn’t been for Lina, Jaejoong would never have come here.  The setting was well…not romantic, not classy, not sophisticated---at all.  Brightly lit lights.  Screaming children.  Café Intermezzo.  The restaurant’s name was way too misleading.

 

 

“Don’t you just love this place?” Lina squealed with delight.  A little girl ran into her legs and started crying.  Jaejoong glared at the child, ready to yell at her, but Lina bent down and patted her head.  “Oh…it’s okay.  Don’t cry…Do you want me to bring you to your mommy?”

 

A woman ran up to them quickly, clinging onto the girl.  “Ah, I’m so sorry!” she apologized to Lina.

 

“Oh, no, it’s okay,” she smiled.  “She’s really cute.”

 

 

 

“Are you okay?” Jaejoong asked as they were seated.  "The little kid was crazy."

 

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” Lina replied happily, biting into a warm loaf of bread.  She stopped, noticing Jaejoong watching her eat.  “Aren’t you going to eat some?  Don’t tell me it’s part of your [i]diet[/i].”

 

“Unfortunately, yes.  Carbs aren’t good for your figure.”

 

 

Lina started chortling.  “You’ve GOT to be kidding me.  You’re such a girl, Jaejoong!  One piece of bread is NOT going to make you fat.  You look fine!  Besides, if carbs aren’t your good friend, then I’m afraid we’ve chosen the wrong resturaunt.”

 

He shuddered.  He hadn’t eaten all day, and now she was telling him there wasn’t anything else here, but CARBS?  “I’m not hungry,” he lied.

 

 

Lina crossed her arms.  “Seriously, Jaejoong?  You’ve got to do a better job of lying.  Some of my preschoolers can do better than that!  Now if you’re not going to eat the noodles here, which I’ve heard is the best in Seoul, then at least try some of the soup.”  She looked at him and added, “It’s vegetable soup.  Not fattening.”

 

 

 

He stared at Lina’s dish, his mouth watering.  It smelled so good, but did he dare?  He’d been on this diet ever since he came back from his “vacation”.  (The food Lina had fed him during his stay had seriously fattened him up.)  “Can I… try a little?”

 

Lina nodded approvingly, pushing the plate to him.  “Here, take as much as you want.”

 

His eyes widened as he placed a forkful in his mouth.  It was actually delicious.

 

 

 

“I was just wondering why you came to Korea…” Jaejoong spoke up as he signed the receipt.  “I keep thinking this isn’t just as simple as a vacation…”

 

Lina sighed.  “Ah, Kim Jaejoong.  Being famous has certainly gone to your head.  I don’t have any relatives or friends outside of the Americas, except for you.  And I didn’t want to roam around the world by myself, so I chose Korea.  Simple as that.” 

 

 

But it wasn’t.  She knew it.  And she wanted him to know too.

 

 

 

He glanced at his watch.  “Oh, it’s almost 11 PM, it’s only your first day here.  You’re probably exhausted.  I’ll bring you back to the hotel.”

 

*****

 

Tae Hee couldn’t help but watch the clock.  Jaejoong had told her not to wait for him; and yet, here she was, waiting for him to come home.

 

She used to be so strong.  Being with Jaejoong didn’t matter as much then as it did now.  What had happened? 

 

 

 

She had fallen in love.

 

She hadn’t learned, had she?

 

 

Growing up with a single mother, Tae Hee had taught herself that love would only lead to one thing: being like her mom.  Unloved.

 

But then she chanced upon Kim Jaejoong.  He was supposed to be different from other guys; he was supposed to love her.

 

So why then, why was she (like her mom) waiting for him to come back?

 

 

Tae Hee shook her head, disgusted at herself.  He was her boyfriend, for goodness sake.  And no foreign girl could ever ruin that fact.

 

She needed to clear up her mind.  She needed to think clearly.

She rose from her seat and headed out the door.  Destination?  Anywhere.

 

*****

 

They stood outside the hotel entrance awkwardly.  “Well this is it.  Thanks for finding time in your busy schedule to accompany me…” Lina started.  She shuffled her feet.

 

“Yeah, no problem” he mumbled.  “You know, if you have any problems, just give me a call.  I’ll come right over.”

 

She nodded.

 

 

Silence. 

 

Jaejoong shuffled his feet.  Oh how he hated awkward silences.  “Well then, do you want me to walk you up?”

 

“No, it’s alright.  I can get up there myself.”  Stupid Lina, she reprimanded herself.  Of all the things you can say no to, you HAD to say no to this offer.

 

 

Unused to being rejected, Jaejoong stood in shock.  “Um, well… then I’ll see you tomorrow.  The zoo, right?”

 

 

“Yep!  Oh, and Jaejoong?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Those shades look good on you, even if it’s in the middle of the night.”

 

 

He laughed as she skipped into the hotel.  Lina Choi never ceased to make him smile.

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