After Jamie had returned, she showed some drawings she made of him at day care. He entertained her enthusiasm about how she drew him, but he could feel her mother's hateful eyes on him. Jamie insisted he'd stay for dinner with them and Aron, despite her mother's glaringly obvious dislike of him. They ate quietly for the most part. They only spoke when Jamie would want to. Jessica and Alice were clearing the table when Jamie started pulling on Ren's arm. She wanted to go to her room with him to play, but Ren could guess their mother had a lot to say.
"Hey, James. Why don't we go ahead and play in your room, and maybe Ren can join us later. Okay?" Aron intervened. Alice and Jessica were mentally thanking God for his presence. Jamie looked at Ren sadly for a moment. She finally nodded her head and got up from the table. She rushed to her room, Aron following right after. With the little girl gone, the air became eerily tense. Jessica's mother continued glaring at Ren after Jessica and Alice sat back down at the table.
"So, I will skip the question of what you want with my daughter, because we all know that it's not to just watch a movie and eat cup noodles." Ren nodded to himself when she spoke. "Instead, I'll ask what you'll do different."
"D-D-Different?" Ren looked up.
"Yes. Different. Jessica hasn't told me any details, but I understand that the only reason you ever pursued her was because of some bet you had with Jihoon. And, some video was spread around the school about it. So, you two broke up, because she was hurt. And, now you're here, dripping on my carpet for two hours, because you want back with my daughter. So, what's going to be different?" Ren stayed quiet for a while. "The only way you're going to make this situation any better, is if you speak up."
"Right. Different. Uhm, I'm not sure, really. I never treated her badly, I think. I mean, I never pressured her, or forced her to do anything. I lied to her about a few things. So, I suppose, the only thing I can do different is honesty. Pure painful honesty. It's the least I owe her. And, your family, obviously." Ren grabbed Jessica's hand and squeezed it.
"I truly like your daughter, ma'am. And, I get that I did an immensely stupid thing which hurt her. But, I'm willing to do anything I can to be with her with her now. Even if it means everyone in her life hopes I'll disappear at any moment." Jessica and Alice were stunned in silence for a moment.
"Okay." Their mother said after a while, nodding her head slightly.
"Okay?" Ren frowned at her. She nodded again.
"Okay. I'm fine with you dating my daughter."
"You are?" Ren raised his voice a bit, in shock.
"You are?" Alice looked disgusted.
"Do you want to be with him?" Their mother looked at Jessica. She flinched from it. She thought for a moment, looking at Ren, and then nodded.
"Then, I can't stop you. One way or another, you're going to find a way to be with him, regardless of my opinion. You're a teenager. It makes sense."
"Mom! You can't be serious! Don't you remember how Jessica came home that day?! She cried herself to sleep! She wouldn't even come out of her room to eat!" Alice exclaimed. Jessica squeezed Ren's hand, showing her discomfort. Ren looked at her with a sympathetic glance.
"If you can think of anything that can convince these two to stop seeing each other, by all means say it. You know they'll just find some other place to meet up if we don't allow them." Alice but the inside of her cheek and looked down, defeated.
"You just wanted us to tell your mom because you hoped she wouldn't allow us, didn't you?" Ren said as he glared at her.
"I do have one condition." Their mother started. "We'll have dinner with your parents."
"What?" Ren went pale.
"You said you'd be willing to do anything for my daughter. Surely, a dinner with your parents is nothing, compared to having to beg on your knees." She smiled at him. It was eerie. Ren swallowed hard. Silence fell upon them again.
"Can Ren and I go talk in my room now? Alice kind of interrupted our previous conversation." Jessica said after a while.
"No!" Alice snapped her head at her.
"You can talk here, in the living room." Her mother offered.
"I'm staying too." Jessica sighed annoyed at Alice's insistence. "I'm not letting you be alone with him in a room. He'll probably just get you pregnant."
"I get that you kind of hate me, but just how pathetic do you assume me to be?" Ren glared at Alice again. Alice glared back. Jessica suggested to just talk outside, in front of the side, by the side of his car. Alice and her mother concurred, but Alice said she would be watching from the windows. Ren and Jessica went outside and walked over to his car. Luckily it had stopped raining. Ren leaned against his car with his shoulder, facing her.
"I love that smell right after the rain." She smiled and leaned her back against the car.
"It's cute." Ren smiled at her.
"I'm sorry about my sister. She gets crazy overprotective." She looked down.
"It's fine. I probably deserve some kind of torture for what I did."
"But, I don't want that. I just want to move on. Everyone reminding me of that stupid bet just makes me depressed."
"It's probably going to keep haunting us for a while." Jessica nodded. "You're worth it though."
"I can't tell Nana and Lizzy about you." She spoke with a quivering voice. Ren frowned. "Given the whole fire incident a while ago and what they made Jongho do, I'm worried about what they might do. After that video, I don't know what they might do to you. Especially if they find out about us."
"It's not like I forced you to be with me. I would've respected your choice, regardless. Although, admittedly I'd be hurt had you said no."
"Can we just keep it quiet? Just until I'm ready."
"Like with the ?" Jessica nodded. Ren sighed. "Alright. Just a little while though. But, I would appreciate if you convinced those girls to stop sending me mean messages on post-it notes on my locker."
"They do that? What kind of things do they say?"
"You really don't want to know." Ren chuckled. It fell quiet. They felt awkward. Possibly because there was twenty-year-old staring at them with a death glare.
"Are you worried about your parents having dinner with us?" Ren chuckled loudly, looking up at the sky for a moment.
"They don't know about the bet. They just think you're my lovely girlfriend who broke some type of heart of ice curse. No offense but, holy crap you're mom's crafty. She knows my parents must be the only thing I find scarier than getting hit by your sister."
"Just because she wants to have dinner with them, doesn't mean she's going to expose you."
"Maybe, I just can't risk it."
"Ren, if we're going to date, our parents have to meet eventually. Are you expecting to keep the bet a secret forever?"
"Not forever. Just, until the whole thing died down. Maybe like next year or something, after final exams? That way at least it won't be as blown up as now."
"What about Kahi? She might just tell him, just like she did about me." Ren shook his head.
"I doubt it. Not as long as my brother asks her to keep quiet. He might be disappointed in me, but he has my back." She looked at him. She felt sorry that he was feeling stressed because of her.
"You sure you're okay with what I said in my room?" He looked at her. He gave her a small smile and pulled her closer, putting his forehead against hers.
"Of course. Sure, I don't like it, but I have no right to pressure you. Especially considering circumstances."
"Thank you." She put her arms around his neck.
"Are you cold?" Jessica asked when she felt goose bumps on the back of his neck.
"A little. Your sister could've at least given me a goddamn hoodie or something." He muttered.
"I'm sorry." She gave him a soft peck on the lips. He smiled, feeling giddy.
"It's fine. I'll just go home and take a long, hot shower. Maybe some ibuprofen and just go straight to bed."
"Call me before you go to bed?" She looked at his chest, feeling shy.
"I will. Maybe you read me a bedtime story." Jessica giggled at his joke.
"Don't test me. I'm willing to do it." Ren joined her in her little laughing fit.
"Well, I'm going to head home. Take that shower. Warm up."
"Okay." They stayed put for a while, softly rubbing their noses together. Ren finally took the initiative and kissed her softly and intimately. He knew Alice might just be ready to come out with the umbrella, but he decided to enjoy this moment for as long as he could. Jessica was eventually the one to pull away and push him towards the driver's side.
"Go home. Warm up." She smiled brightly at him. He smiled back and finally got in his car. She waited until he passed the corner before heading inside, already dreading the scolding her sister was about to give her.
Jessica had retreated to her room after her sister's speech and laid down on the bed, tired. She had decided to get started on her homework while waiting for Ren's call. She sighed deeply after an hour or so and checked the time. It was already nine o'clock, so she decided to pick up her phone and call Ren instead of waiting. Ren had finished his shower and was getting dressed in his pyjamas when he heard his phone go off. He walked out of the bathroom and towards his bed. He pi