“Even without this added headache, I’m constantly on edge. I’ve been covering this up for twenty years, but I have no idea what’s going on inside Chairman Kwon’s head. Why did he suddenly bring that bastard back into the picture and let him wreak havoc inside the family at a time like this?”
Shin Joo-ah fiercely tightened her gown that had loosened. Her age-defyingly smooth forehead wrinkled deeply in irritation.
“It’s probably a warning to Jingyeom. Be on your guard. Everything depends on what you do. Don’t just sit there and take everything passively; seize control. Frankly, Jingyeom lacks a bit of ambition. But that’s to be expected since he’s so young and has lived a life of luxury for so long, but still.”
In-cheol, getting up from the floor with his hands on his knees, nodded his head as if analyzing the situation.
“It’s hard to believe that incident back then didn’t influence Chairman’s decision to bring Kwon Taegyeom in.”
“Who wouldn’t know that?”
In-cheol’s words caused Joo-ah to glare at him in the mirror. Her makeup had been removed, making her eyes look softer than usual, but her anger shone through.
“He just had to create tension, and even that wasn’t enough for him. Why does he have to act like he’s sincere? My point is… Do you know how much trouble I’m going through, pushed into a corner by Chairman Kwon’s constant interference in Taegyeom’s life, trying to find that jerk a wife?”
“I’ve heard rumors that the mansion is buzzing with activity, as you’ve been inviting fine ladies over every day. Madam.”
Hwang In-cheol bowed his head politely, using an outside manner of speaking. It was an attempt to lighten the mood, but his insincere demeanor only fueled Shin Joo-ah’s anger.
“I don’t know why I have to be so stressed out about finding that bastard a wife. Seriously, I’m so stressed out! I can’t sleep at night, I’ve lost my appetite, and my skin is in terrible condition.”
Shin Joo-ah sighed and ran a hand over her flushed cheeks in the mirror. Behind her, In-cheol gently rubbed her shoulders as if to soothe her irritation.
“You’re just as beautiful now as you were twenty years ago. The stress just adds to your alluring charm.”
“If I set him up with some low-class family, there’ll be rumors that Shin Joo-ah got rid of the Chairman’s ex-wife’s son because she didn’t like him. But if I connect him to a prestigious family, I’ll be resentful!”
“It’s a difficult problem. Indeed, it’s a challenging situation.”
“No, there are rumors all over the place that he’s got a loose behavior. And now, the chairman’s coming to me, all arroganot, saying he’ll marry of a precious daughter to his filthy son. It’s making me lose faith in this capitalist world.”
Shin Joo-ah pinched her temples, suffering from a headache, and leaned her elbows on the vanity table. She had completely forgotten her glamorous past, a time when she shamelessly indulged in her body at the pinnacle of capitalism twenty years ago.
“But these days, it seems like he’s giving up on chasing after various women and maybe considering dating someone.”
In-cheol’s words made Shin Joo-ah snort coldly.
“Him dating, huh? He’ll just play around with them for a bit and then discard them. He’s just like his father, Chairman Kwon, the good-for-nothing playboy, that won’t find satisfaction with just one woman. An apple doesn’t fall far from a tree.”
The phrase “apple doesn’t fall far from a tree ” summed up everything in a nutshell. Shin Joo-ah, gritted her teeth as she carefully applied eyeliner to the area where her eye makeup had been smudged.
“Don’t you have a girl you tries to set up with him when Taegyeom first came back to Korea? It seems you still have a keen eye for that woman.”
Joo-ah twitched her lips and snorted.
“She’s a nuisance. The thing is, there are two bothersome thorns, so I thought I might as well get rid of them at once. If he happened to fall deeply in love, then I’d be even more grateful.”
“A nuisance? What’s wrong with her?”
Hwang In-cheol recalled an image of a young, innocent-looking girl he had seen once, someone he remembered from an encounter about six months ago. She was the daughter of the company’s chauffeur, Hyun Gyucheol, who had been imprisoned as part of a deal with Chairman Kwon, if he remembered correctly.
She was a woman with an impressive, innocent aura that suited her youthful age, complemented by her pure and beautiful appearance. Despite her background, it was evident that her face was too precious for mundane chores in the mansion.
If she had deliberately introduced such a woman, even a man as stubborn as stone might find it difficult to refuse. Moreover, Taegyeom was not the stubborn type but rather a frivolous playboy, so there was no reason for him to resist.
Once, when Shin Joo-ah and Kwon Taegyeom had a brief scuffle in the garage over the matter, it was funny to see Joo-ah looking so uncharacteristically emotional. Of course, Kwon Taegyeom’s reaction to Shin Joo-ah is understandable given his antipathy and history with her, he had kept his composure and behaved so tactfully.
It’s no secret that Kwon Taegyeom, his ex-wife’s son, is an eyesore to Shin Joo-ah, and it’s no secret to anyone in Korea who knows about the GK Group founder’s promiscuous love life. But why would a lowly chauffeur’s daughter be an eyesore wife of a giant corporate mogul?
“Because Jingyeom likes her.”
With the eyeliner poised near her eyes, Shin Joo-ah chewed on her lips meticulously and spoke as if spitting out dirty words. Her unexpected revelation widened Hwang In-cheol’s eyes.
Now the relationship’s context became crystal clear.
The reason why Shin Joo-ah wanted to connect the two individuals.
For Taegyeom, as long as he enjoyed a brief fling with a mere chauffeur’s daughter, he could play around and discard her when he pleased. Such a trivial affair wouldn’t turn his world upside down.
There was a slight possibility of earning Chairman Kwon’s anger for disregarding his wishes. Every noticeable woman seemed to be a topic of interest for Chairman Kwon, who tended to loosen his belt and show interest in any woman he fancied. However, when it came to the employees working under him, Chairman Kwon maintained an unusual sense of restraint.
In simple terms, he never touched a woman who earned her salary from him. It was a peculiar rule in his life as a playboy. Under those standards, Taegyeom, who was involved with a woman working at the mansion, might receive a sharp word or two from the chairman, but that would be the extent of it.
Taegyeom was simply looking for a convenient and easy woman within the mansion to satisfy his desires temporarily; it wouldn’t last long. At any moment, he’ll brush her off like dust on his shoulder and move on to his next plaything, or wash his mouth and pretend to be refined, following the well-trodden path laid out for him by those around him.
Why, then, would Joo-ah bother to set her up with Kwon Taegyeom?
The nagging question that had bothered Hwang Incheol for a while now was finally answered. With a sigh of understanding, Incheol asked
“Whenever he sees her, he acts like a scared rabbit, as if a fire has been lit under him. I can’t stand to see him like that! Really. I always found him suspicious, but now he goes out every night with a workbook, asking her to solve problems he doesn’t know.”
“Haha, he’s such a…….”
Shin Joo-ah’s frustration was palpable, and In-cheol couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony of the situation.
Resting his hips on the marble vanity, Incheol let out a bitter laugh.
“I give him a tutor who charges hundreds at a time, and suddenly he starts spouting nonsense about wanting private lessons from her, even in front of the Chairman! He’s out on the field playing happily, and then his golf clubs go flying.”
The scene of the sparkling golf club flying through the air, flying in an arc, was vivid in her mind, and she sighed, and shook her head again.
“And, of all people, it had to hit Jin-gyeom in the face… Ugh, it’s frustrating. Anyway, it’s for the best. He got so upset about it that he moved out to live on his own, so maybe he’ll give up on that worthless girl now.”
Pressing her temples tightly, Shin Joo-ah’s face revealed a complex mix of emotions.
“He won’t keep chasing after a woman who’s involved with his brother, right? My son isn’t that pathetic.”
Her self-reassuring tone sounded almost desperate, more like a muttered prayer than words spoken to someone else.
“There’s no way my son, the one I gave birth to with pain, is that stupid. Jingyeom – I didn’t raise him to be so fine just so I could see him like that…….”
It was a compulsive self-affirmation, a desperate chant of denial. In-cheol looked at her, who had started biting her meticulously groomed nails, with a peculiar expression in his eyes.
Light entered the aircraft that had been shrouded in darkness. Taegyeom lifted his drooping eyelids. Flight attendants passed through the cabin corridor, checking the condition of the passengers. The bustling atmosphere from inside the gallery was felt, and soon, the announcement signaling the landing echoed.
- Ladies and gentlemen, we will be arriving at Incheon International Airport shortly.
Beyond the airplane’s round window, orange lights illuminated the darkened city. He felt a dull fatigue clinging to the nape of his neck, the result of a tedious fourteen-hour flight and jet lag.
He felt a familiar, throbbing headache pressing against his temples and massaged his forehead where a slight perspiration had formed. The first-class passengers began collecting their belongings and disembarking. Taegyeom rose from his semi-reclined seat.
As he made his way to the arrival hall, Manager Song, the man In-cheol had attached to him for this trip followed closely behind. Manager Song had been assigned to supervise Taegyeom, masquerading as an aide for this trip.
To match Taegyeom’s long strides, Manager Song had to almost run. As Taegyeom’s personal assistant and watchdog, Manager Song appeared noticeably more fatigued and haggard compared to before the trip, considering the merciless time difference between United States and Korea.