The vibration and loud ring from my phone forces my eyes to open. I sit up and the bright sun beaming through the living room challenges me to fully wake up. I forgot I had fallen asleep on my couch last night.
I answer my phone. “Yes?”
“Good morning Miss Yeji.” Jinah sounds nervous. “I hope you had a chance to read my text. I contacted the storage company last night, however, they didn’t have anyone available with such short notice so they scheduled a pick up for today. I wanted to give you a friendly reminder.”
I look at the damage I did and realize there’s no point to my request. “Cancel it.”
“I’m sorry miss Yeji. I did try to contact other movers.” It seems like she’s about to cry. “But no one—”
“It’s fine Jinah. I’ll see you on Monday.” I hang up and stare at the wedding dress. I sigh knowing I messed up such a beautiful gown but it oddly felt good to take it all out, even if the dress didn’t deserve it.
Walking out to the backyard at my mother’s home for brunch, I notice it’s set up a little out of the ordinary. She took out the flower arrangements used for special occasions.
I greet my grandparents, Sehun, and my mother before taking my seat.
“Where’s Chanyeol?” I ask as I get poured champagne in my glass and take the small carafe of grapefruit juice to add a splash for my mimosa.
“He said he’s on his way.” My mother clears .
I look over at Sehun sitting across the table, we share a look and I’m the one to ask the obvious.
“What?” I direct my question to my mother.
She fixes her necklace with a timid smile. “Nothing dear.”
“Well, the flowers are out.” Sehun leans in putting his hands together on top of the table.
She completely ignores us by ordering a staff member to start serving. She looks a little uneasy and looks over at my direction. That’s when Chanyeol appears. My mother stands to kiss him on the cheek, whispering between each other.
He takes his seat and instantly begins a small conversation with my grandparents. I try to put it all together but I can’t think of anything.
“So, was there something we were celebrating?” I blurt out.
Chanyeol shakes his head. “Just my presence.”
Even though he said it to be witty there’s something behind his behavior. He continues his conversation with my Grandfather and everyone carries on like a typical day.
Monday arrives, I’m walking to my office when I hear my phone ring. I look down and see a text message from Kai.
I hope you can let me make up for dinner. Please join me for lunch soon. Have a great day beautiful.
I don’t reply back but I do find myself thinking about giving it another chance with Kai. While I debate internally with my thoughts about reaching out to Kai, my steps slow down when I see Chanyeol whispering with Jinah. It’s like they are arguing? I mean, she seems a bit upset and he looks frustrated. Jinah mutters something and walks away. When she steps away from her desk, it’s like he restrains himself from following her. Chanyeol adjusts himself and takes a moment before walking into my office.
As I take a moment to process what I saw, Jinah returns to her desk to greet me. When I approach her, her eyes are watery and she’s fighting hard to pull it together.
“Jinah?” She avoids direct eye contact but I can see her watery eyes. “Are you alright?”
She nods. “Mr. Chanyeol is here to see you.”
I nod and carefully walk away into my office. When I enter, my brother is staring out the window.
“What did you say to my assistant to upset her?”
He turns to face me. “Good morning, Hi. How are you?” He mocks but his smile washes off when he takes a look at my seriousness.
I put my purse down and take a seat on my chair. “Did she do something wrong?”
“I’m here to pick you up for the new hire orientation.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Jinah!” One call and she rushes in. “What did Mr. Chanyeol say to upset you?”
She gulps and nervously glances at my brother. She’s silent and I don’t understand the complication.
“Let me make this clear Chanyeol. Whatever she did wrong, I will deal with it. You can not come in here and yell at my assistant. So, what did she do to make you have the right to treat her this way?”
“Miss Yeji,” Jinah speaks softly. “It’s fine, really.”
“I want answers Chanyeol.” My response causes him to exchange a look with Jinah. I catch her shake her head. “What is going on?” I impatiently ask.
“I was going to share the news with everyone yesterday but Jinah chose to not go with the plan.” He takes a deep breath and she shuts her eyes. “She’s pregnant...and we’re engaged.”
The strong silence fills the room. I don’t know how to react to the news. “Well then, let’s make our way to the orientation.”
When I leave my office I know it was cold on my part, I didn’t mean to be but it honestly was a lot of information. Unexpected information.
I tap my finger on my phone, trying to find a way to open up to Kai during lunch. Finding out the news about my brother hit my afterwards.
“What I’m about to share is truly difficult.” I finally speak.
I glance up at Kai to see if I can hint any judgement but all I notice is genuine concern in his eyes.
I continue. “I was with someone for nearly seven years. The day of our wedding, he didn’t make it to the alter.” I pause feeling the ache in my heart. “So, finding out my older brother is now engaged and expecting, I’m happy for him but...” I sigh. “It still hurts so I didn’t congratulate him or say anything nice.”
Kai nods. “Well, you can try again.” He places his hand over mine to stop me tapping my finger. “Your reaction is normal for the pain your memory holds. I’m sure your brother knows that.” He doesn’t move his hand, I notice his touch is warm. “But remind him again.”
I nod and slowly move my hand away from his. I haven’t felt someone touch me like that other than Baekhyun and different emotions spiral within me.
“I just want what I feel to go away.” I keep my head down.
“I don’t like saying this but it will within time. It’s such a cliché but time will make it tolerable, eventually easier. It never seems like it would be possible when we’re going through it but it does get better.” He clears his throat. “I’ve experienced it.”
That grabs my attention to look up at him. “You have?”
He nods. “My girlfriend cheated on me with my best friend. It ing felt like the pain would never leave. It was hard to start over but I pushed myself to continue living my life everyday, it wasn’t easy, nothing about it felt easy.” He gives me a soft reassuring smile. “But, eventually it all goes away.”
I simply smile to show empathy. I even admire him for easily being able to open up about something so private. As I sit there with him, I discover there are two broken hearts here. I feel like now I have someone to talk to about this without having to truly explain my actions all the time. He gets it.
“Did you ever get closure?” I ask comfortably.
He shakes his head. “No. At first I wanted it. I wanted answers because it killed me everyday thinking about it. She was my first love.” He pauses. “I forgave her, not for her, it was mostly for myself. It helped me let go of all the anger, resentment, and pain. It allowed me to rebuild all that I lost.”
I’m impressed with the way he speaks and the maturity he gained through it. “It’s amazing how you were able to cope with it all. You really do show there’s hope.”
Kai chuckles. “It took me a while. One day, it will happen for you.”
“One day.” I sigh in agreement and add, “Thank you for listening. I’m sorry about the other night. It’s just...since it still hurts I react to things in—”
He politely cuts me off. “You don’t need to explain anything to me Yeji.” He shyly looks away but regains confidence. “I look at you and I see someone so beautiful who deserves to be happy. I want to be here for you. I want to show you the good again.“
The beating of my heart reminds me of that feeling. The kind of feeling when adrenaline takes over your body, that flutter inside in your gut, and the nerves that create that flush pink tone on your face. However, I have to be honest with him because I’m not sure how to be ready for the next steps.
“Kai, I appreciate that you’ve been listening to me even when it may seem like I’ve been ungrateful. Any little thing seems to trigger a memory and...and I don’t think it would be fair to you. I’ve been used to one person and I don’t know if I’m ready to—”
“When you are ready, just say you’re ready. I’m don’t care what it’s going to take, I’m going to take care of you.”
I fight the tears that are beginning to blur my vision. Not because I’m sad, simply out of confusion, frustration, and fear. “I’m scared.”
“Give me your hand.” He asks in a caring way and with a little hesitation I hand it to him. “I’m not going to hurt you. I told you. I will be anything you need me to be.”
It’s not the look in his eyes or the way he says it to make me believe he’s speaking the truth. It’s my very own heart leading me to truly know he means what he says.
My hand finally knocks on the door to my brother’s penthouse. I anxiously wait outside the hall while I think about what to say but stress when I catch myself rephrasing everything in my head.
When Chanyeol opens the door he gives me a sad smirk. I lift the little gift bag I brought to show him I came for a peace offering. He opens the door wider and nudges his head, giving me permission to enter. I smile and feel relived there’s no tension between us.
“Yeji, I didn’t mean—”
I gently cut him off with waving my hand in mid-air. “Look, you don’t need to apologize for my pain. You deserve happiness and even if I don’t like that you chose my assistant out of everyone, I kind of am relieved it’s her. I know how responsible, reliable, and trustworthy she is.”
He scoffs with his happy grin. “—And incredibly beautiful. She’s the most beautiful soul I’ve ever met. She’s not afraid to put me in my place, push me when I need it, she doesn’t enable my bad actions, she teaches me how to be patient and she’s not trying to change me. But, she makes me want to be better not just for her but for myself.” He rubs his neck. “I want to share this with you but I do get worried. I know how much you—”
There I go again with the tears wanting to come out. A part is from just hearing these beautiful words my brother used to describe Jinah. It reminded me of what Baekhyun and I had and I miss him more than I realize. Except, I can not make this about me, my family can not revolve their world around mine.
I stare at my brother feeling awful for hindering him of any happiness. No one knew what went behind closed doors in my relationship with Baekhyun, my family didn’t know about the miscarriages so I’m not going to tell Chanyeol why it was overwhelming to hear both news at the same time. My family already feels like they need to walk on eggshells with anything wedding related. It’s time we celebrate my big brother, he deserves to create his life.
“I’m so sorry for ever making you feel like you can’t enjoy or be happy for the things you have because you’re afraid it will hurt me. I’m going to be fine. I swear it.” I take a deep breathe and exhale out. “Now...is Jinah here?” I show a genuine smile.
“No, we’re kind of fighting.” He sighs.
He walks over to his bar and offers me a glass of wine but I decline it. Instead I ask for water and when we serves it, he gets comfortable before opening up.
“I kind of ambushed her over the weekend, I told her I was going to introduce her to the family. I mean, that part was true. I just happened to tell her last minute I would be sharing the news. She freaked out and kind of ghosted me. But, she got more upset when I told you the news.” He chuckles. “She wanted to tell you first, in private so you wouldn’t feel betrayed.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Me? Why would I feel betrayed?”
“You’re her boss. She didn’t want you to think badly of her or think she was after me behind your back, even if I am a ing catch.” He grins and I roll my eyes. “It was all me. She resisted at first. When I first saw her I don’t know how else to explain it...everything around me disappeared...it was only her I saw. It sounds ing insane and unrealistic. But, when I first saw her I wanted to know her and not just her like I did with everyone else.”
I chuckle. “Charmer, were those your first words to her too?”
He takes my joke and continues. “She always remained loyal to you. She always made it clear it wasn’t appropriate what I was doing, she didn’t fall for anything I did, and nothing worked. She’s different.” He smirks like he remembered something. “It’s not until the annual Holiday party, when I made the speech about dad, she came up to me and asked if I was okay. She admitted she was surprised with my calm side, the ability to be vulnerable and true to my emotions. It wasn’t the materialistic things or confidence she fell for, she felt that wasn’t who I really was. She didn’t want to be impressed that way, she wanted to see who I really am without the title. No one has ever noticed that about me. It was nice to be seen more than some heir to a multibillion company.”
I nod. “Knowing all of this makes me respect Jinah and see her in a different light. She has to meet the family.” I smile.
He sighs. “I know but now she’s scared that everyone will think bad of her. Being pregnant and wanting to get married.”
“I can talk to her.” I offer. “Maybe that will help her and she shouldn’t be stressing about those things. It’s not going to be safe for the baby, too much stress at an early stage is risky, well in general it’s not good for her.”
He nods and stares at me wondering how I know this information well enough. I play cool and stand up.
“I’ll take my gift to her instead. Is she home?” I smile and he nods again. He thanks me and we embrace.
My time with Kai has become enjoyable and the more time I spend with him, the more I notice his personality. It’s a breath of fresh air being around someone I can really talk to and seek for advice.
“I’m telling you, this is is the best Jjamppong spot!” His eyes light up when the waitress brings out bowls. “Wow, my mouth is already watering.”
I chuckle. “You really do appreciate everything in your sight huh?”
He looks away from the perfect bowl of spicy seafood noodle soup and directs his gaze at me. I wait for him to speak but nothing comes out, he just sits still, staring at me.
He smirks. “I think you got jealous of my Jjamppong, so I’m really enjoying you in my sight.”
I roll my eyes catching his humor and I take a nice handful of noodles with my chopsticks. Once I taste the broth soaked in the noodles, my eyes pop wide open, immediately impressed with how delicious it is, not caring how spicy it truly is.
“Wow! This is so good!” I smile and grab another bite even if my mouth is burning.
He take a napkin and wipes my sweat that I didn’t notice was building in the corner of my forehead. I thank him and I notice my phone ringing. It’s Chanyeol.
I take a sip of my water to ease the heat but it doesn’t do anything. I answer the call trying to control the burning sensation my tongue is enduring.
“Is this a bad time?” He chuckles.
“No, I’m just having lunch.” I release a low grunt as the heat kicks in even more.
Chanyeol clears his throat. “You mean Kai for lunch?”
“Don’t be stupid.” I smile as he chuckles at his comment. “Is everything okay?”
“I need to ask for a favor...”
Jinah seems a bit bothered as we walk out of her appointment. As we’re making our way down the hall towards the elevator, I can sense she feels sad or has something on her mind.
“He really wanted to be here. He didn’t want to miss this or any appointments.” I reassure her.
She politely smiles. “I know he does. He made it clear in our first appointment.” She inhales and exhales. “I appreciate you being here but I just miss him when he has to travel for work. It makes me wonder if he’s always going to be gone. Absence of parents kind of scares me.”
I nod. “Our father traveled a lot for work, always busy, but he made sure to be present. He made it a thing to have family dinners at the Resort just so he could spend time with us. He always found a way to make it work. So, there’s not doubt in my mind that Chanyeol will be the exact same way. Family is important to us, you have nothing to worry about.” I smile at her and I think it helped her.
She seems more at ease. “Thank you. He’s going to be such a lucky baby being surrounded by you all.”
I look at her remembering how I had that feeling she’s describing with my first pregnancy. It saddens me but it doesn’t make me shut out the world.
“Do you feel it’s a boy?” I gently ask.
She nods. “I know I’m so early but...” she blushes. “I know it sounds silly...I just feel it in my heart.”
I stare at Jinah in awe, knowing perfectly well what she means by it but I’m unable to express that to her. Instead of regaining a painful memory, I stay in the present and feel honored to be sharing this special moment in my brother’s life.
“Boy or Girl, I just want a healthy baby.” She adds.
I press the button to the elevator and agree with her. “I completely agree, either way this baby is going to be so loved and spoiled!”
We both share a laugh and she starts talking about food, her cravings are coming in and when she said she wants kimchi and five chocolate chip cookies, I burst out laughing to the strangest combination. Luckily there’s a coffee shop near by to grab her sweets and I have a nice jar of kimchi at home.
The elevator doors open and everything around me fades. I have a thumping sound in my ears, my heart falls down to my stomach, and the bright days turned black as I’m face to face with Byun Baekhyun.
He gives me the tiniest smirk but it quickly disappears when he realizes we’re in the same place. He immediately looks away and standing next to him is Sena. One glance at her and there’s no hiding it...her belly...she’s pregnant.