Siyeon was discharged from the hospital the following morning.
Before leaving the hospital, she tried to visit Suwon grandfather to say goodbye, but the security guards standing outside his room stopped her. They explained that no one was allowed entry except for medical staff.
After being told that although he was not in much pain but needed to be rested, she was forced to turn back and comply.
The next morning, Siyeon called Suwon grandfather and said,
“Grandpa, I’m going to marry Ijun.”
[…I see. Thank you.]
Upon receiving Siyeon’s call, he immediately went through the discharge process and urged his son, the CEO, to expedite the wedding preparations for Ijun and Siyeon. He was surprised by his father’s sudden request but didn’t question it or ask for reasons.
On Saturday morning, Siyeon was summoned to a coffee shop in a hotel in Seoul and the person who asked to meet her was the one who was least convinced of the marriage, Ijun.
“I never imagined you would do this.”
He set down his espresso cup with a nonchalant tone.
“I underestimated you.”
Siyeon expected him to get angry or say something offensive, but he remained surprisingly composed.
“You can back out. If you reject me, this marriage won’t happen.”
“I’ve already made up my mind. I’m sorry for Oppa, but I’m going through with this marriage.”
He leaned wearily against the back of the couch, his face showing signs of exhaustion.
“It seems you didn’t sleep well.”
“Father and Grandfather took turns to try and convince me.”
“But the persuasion didn’t work well, it seems.”
“He literally told me to go walk myself into the gutter of life. How can I not obey?”
Siyeon raised her glass and took a sip of tea. The subtle aroma wafting from the cup was pleasing to her.
“We can make it work if we cooperate well. Think of it as a strategic marriage; it makes things simpler.”
“If it was a strategic marriage, I wouldn’t choose to marry you.”
“That’s a valid point.”
She put her tea cup down and looked him in the eyes.
“I used to dream of getting married to someone I love. But then, that dream went down the drain.”
“…I see. That’s unfortunate.”
He called her name just like he used to. His tender tone made Siyeon hold her breath.
“Before the accident, my brother called me. The phone rang before the sun even rose. Honestly, I didn’t want to answer it. I had a feeling he would say something I didn’t want to hear.”
He began his story with a calm demeanor.
“After I answered the call, he abruptly told me he would be getting married in the spring. He said he was on his way to tell our parents and grandparents. I congratulated him and wished him a happy marriage, but I wasn’t sincere. I didn’t want my brother to be happy with you. Instead, I hoped he’d be miserable. And not even an hour later, I heard about the accident.”
“How could I marry you after that?”
His gentle voice carried a deep sadness.
Ijun was burdened with guilt. Seeing his torment, Siyeon recalled the incident where she had wished misery upon Eunhye, she understood how these feelings could haunt a person and ruin their life.
“It wasn’t me. The person he was going to marry back then was Kim Eunhye, not me.”
So, she decided to tell him the truth. There was no need for him to carry this guilt and burden.
She hadn’t expected to be the first to tell him, in this way, because she didn’t want to bring up the secret that Gwihyeon was trying to keep hidden, and Siyeon didn’t want to bring it out of her mouth while he was lying unconscious.
However, she didn’t know that Ijun was suffering so deeply due to this misunderstanding. If she had known, she would have told him sooner.
Initially puzzled by her revelation, he soon let out a wary smile. He just couldn’t believe her.
“None of our family members knew about Kim Eunhye, who didn’t even exist before the accident.”
“It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Gwihyeon oppa knew the truth about Eunhye long before that.”
“Then it means he kept that crucial fact hidden from our family… Why would he do that?”
It was because Gwihyeon was afraid that his real love, Eunhye, would be taken away from him. He might have known that Eunhye would fall for Ijun.
“Okay, let’s say your words are true. Then why did my brother apologize to me for wanting to marry Eunhye? What was there to be sorry about to me?”
Gwihyeon wanted to prevent Ijun from being deceived by her. Siyeon couldn’t bring herself to confess that she had deceived Gwi-hyun, their grandparents, and even her own parents to protect Junho from losing Baekya Foods. Even if she spoke, Junho wouldn’t believe that Gwi-hyun had said such things.
Gwihyeon wanted Siyeon and Ijun to break up for good to keep Ijun in check.
Siyeon lowered her gaze to hide her complex emotions.
Gwihyeon couldn’t bear to reveal with his mouth the fact that he had deceived his grandfather, deceived his parents, and deceived Ijun because he was afraid that Baekya Foods would be taken away from him by Ijun. Even if she said it, Ijun wouldn’t believe that Gwihyeon had said such things.
“When I was discharged from the military, you told me that you’d been dating my brother during my service and that even our families, including the Kim Professor’s family, knew about it. You said you wanted to be the wife of Baekya Corporation’s president in the future. Was that also a lie made up?”
Her heart ached when he didn’t get angry. Ijun was trying to persuade her. He was asking her to give up on the marriage for the sake of conscience. His sigh-like confession hurt, but it didn’t shake her determination.
“I’m sorry. I can’t turn back now.”
Ijun fell silent, as if he had no words left to say.
* * *
Despite Ijun’s confession of his feelings, the wedding went ahead as planned. They chose a luxurious villa in a neighborhood close to the Baekya Foods headquarters as their new home, and all appliances and furniture were already installed well in advance.
Gwihyeon’s grandfather left no stone unturned in the preparations for the wedding, ensuring that there would be no flaws or shortcomings, and he personally covered all the expenses related to the wedding.
When the news of Ijun and Siyeon’s marriage reached the distressed grandmother from Hannamdong, she immediately visited Gwihyeon’s grandfather. She seemed anything but composed, with her pale lips trembling.
“How can this happen? How can you bring that fake child into the family when our Eunhye is there!”
She gasped as if she might pass out at any moment, her face devoid of color.
“My granddaughter is Eunhye, Ms. Kim Eunhye! She is the only biological descendant of Professor Kim Donghan!”
Chairman Jeong replied briefly as he carefully poured tea into two cups.
“I understand that you cherish Siyeon greatly, Chairman. Perhaps, even for Ijun’s sake, you cannot easily reject her. But our Eunhye has Ijun in her heart. Moreover, Ijun is against this marriage. I simply cannot comprehend why you are pushing forward with this absurd marriage.”
“The tea is getting cold.”
“If you intent to marry off Ijun to that fake woman, whose lineage do you intend to send the true Baekya’s bloodline to?”
Listening to her protest, Chairman Jeong remained composed, taking a sip of tea with a serene demeanor. Unlike her, who seemed on the verge of collapsing, he remained infinitely calm and composed.
After he sipped his tea, he placed the cup back on the table before speaking.
“Twenty-five years ago, when Professor Kim had a daughter, he had already chosen her to be Gwihyeon’s partner. Madam, you are well aware of this. I have never once wavered from that intention. The bloodline of Kim Donghan belongs to Gwihyeon as our family’s eldest son.”
“But the situation is different now, isn’t it? If Gwihyeon goes on like this, not recovering, what will happen to our Eunhye?”
Despite her confident words, Chairman Jeong’s eyebrows twitched noticeably. Seeing the irritation in his eyes, she fell silent for a moment.
“Gwihyeon will wake up.”
“W-well, but there’s always that chance. It’s been almost a year already…”
She hesitated, then continued stumbling over her words.
“That’s highly unlikely, but if, by some chance, it happens… At that time, what good would the ancestral promise be? It wouldn’t mean anything to me.”
“What about Eunhye then? Are you suggesting that she waits for Gwihyeon to wake up and grow old alone?”
“Madam, I have no intention of being tied to my father’s wishes any longer.”
A trace of unavoidable sadness flickered across Chairman Jeong’s face as he spoke.
There was a significant possibility that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his father’s lifelong wish. The regret might stay with him until his death, but even so, Chairman Jeong wouldn’t change his mind.
“That means your granddaughter is free to do as she pleases, regardless of our family.”
“Chairman… She’s free to do as she pleases? What do you mean…?”
“What I’m saying is that your granddaughter doesn’t have to wait for our Gwihyeon.”
“I’ve said everything I can. If you’re uncomfortable, you don’t have to attend my grandson’s wedding.”
After finishing his words, Chairman Jeong looked at her with a cold gaze.
* * *
The wedding preparations were proceeding smoothly. The newlyweds’ home was fully furnished, to the point where they only needed to move in. Siyeon’s wedding dress, designed by a famous designer at the request of Ijun’s father, had been tailored.
The family introduction ceremony was held at a quiet and secluded restaurant, rented for the occasion.
During the engagement ceremony, Siyeon’s parents were worried about Ijun’s unusually quiet demeanor. However, Siyeon reassured them, saying that he was naturally a man of few words. Her parents, noticing how much Siyeon was valued by Ijun’s grandparents, felt reassured.
Siyeon had initially planned to have a small, quiet wedding, especially considering Gwihyeon was still in the hospital. However, Ijun’s grandfather opposed this idea. He insisted that, even though it was a personal wedding, they couldn’t have a secretive marriage like thieves, given the stature of the Jeong family.
As the days passed, Siyeon, at the age of twenty-seven, found herself in the midst of winter. On a particularly frigid day, the morning of Siyeon and Ijusn’s wedding dawned.