“It seems like you think I’m confessing out of a sudden prick of conscience. I’m warning you in advance that I plan to use you like this, and if you don’t like it, you should keep your distance.”
He was the first to speak.
“I overestimated myself.”
“I thought I had pretty good self-control, but I didn’t know I’d be panting like this in heat after just a few days. Can you imagine spending the whole day at work fantasizing about being inside you? When I get home, I want to act on it.”
Her gaze lost its way, wandering here and there, and she finally looked back at Taeju. As soon as their eyes met, he opened his mouth again.
“Do you think what we did yesterday was s*x?”
His voice was slow, but his pronunciation was so good and clear that it felt quite crisp. Therefore, the words he spat out felt even more explicit.
“Ah, don’t you know the word ‘s*x’? Whether it’s f*cking or whatever, do you think that’s all we did yesterday? Do you think you can handle that much? Is it okay as long as I don’t penetrate you?”
“Do you want me to be scared and run away?”
A heavy silence hung for a moment.
Most of the Umyeon Island residents she had encountered, except for Bok-ryeong, were quite straightforward and immediate when it came to emotions. If they were angry or annoyed, it showed on their faces, and they had no filter for expressing themselves. So, Sunwoo found it challenging to deal with someone who didn’t display their emotions readily.
“It seemed like I was giving you a choice, but you are wrong. I’m warning you in advance. Once you cross this line.”
He rested his elbows on his knees, and the blue veins bulged out on the back of his hand with knuckles, extending up to his arm. She had never seen such a long and large hand. He raised that hand and drew a long line in the air.
“Even if you want to stop now, it won’t just end with a little teasing.”
His tone suggested that he was giving her a choice, but he seemed to know well that she wouldn’t run away.
“Then, what about the house…”
“I can’t keep you locked up here and play around all day. No, the problem is that I’m wondering why I can’t do that now.”
With an annoyed gesture, he roughly brushed his hair back.
“Go with the secretary, sign the housing contract, and stay there from today.”
“Will, will you come?”
He slightly furrowed his eyebrows and made a sound of agreement.
“I’m not sure if you’re scared or not. It’s confusing.”
Just then, the bell rang and he quickly stood up. He took a few steps towards the entrance, then turned his head towards her.
“Once I cross your front door, you can’t run away. From that moment, it won’t end until I say stop. Be prepared and call me.”
When he opened the entrance, Jin-hyuk, dressed in a bright gray suit, came in.
“Hello, Boss. Sunwoo-ssi, how have you been?”
Jin-hyuk greeted her with a bright, wide smile, but seeing Sunwoo’s scared face, he awkwardly closed his mouth.
“Did I miss the timing? Sunwoo-ssi, what’s the matter?”
“You came at the perfect time. Sunwoo-ssi, go with him. Secretary Seo, apply for overtime pay for your day off.”
“No, I feel responsible for Sunwoo-ssi’s matters too. And I came voluntarily today.”
“Then do as you please.”
As soon as Sunwoo went outside, Taeju immediately closed the front door with a thud.
“I think the boss is angry because of me.”
“That can’t be. Anyone can see it’s because the boss is always angry.”
As if talking to himself, Jin-hyuk muttered and opened the passenger door of the car for her to sit in.
“Do you know the boss well, Secretary Seo?”
“The boss? Hmm…”
Jin-hyuk’s face, with his forehead furrowed, looked more like he was trying to choose his words rather than thinking about what to answer.
“He was a senior at my school, and he was famous even then.”
“What kind of…”
“Well, in many ways. He still stands out wherever he goes, doesn’t he? Girls liked him because he was handsome, but they couldn’t easily approach him because he was scary. He was a bit difficult to deal with, but surprisingly, he was popular among boys. There were rumors that he made a lot of money from stocks while he was still a student. As a company boss, he’s a workaholic. He’s thorough and sharp. As an employee, there’s a lot to learn from him. The only drawback might be that he’s hard to read and slightly lacks warmth.”
As Jin-hyuk parked the car in the parking lot of their destination, he added another comment seeing her lost in thought.
“Why? Did the boss say something hurtful to you?”
As she shook her head vigorously, Jin-hyuk gave a bitter smile.
“Well, whatever the boss said, you wouldn’t say that he’s terrible. It’s okay. If you have any worries, feel free to talk to me. I’m confident in my listening skills, if nothing else.”
She got out of the car and gave Jin-hyuk a polite bow.
Two real estate agents from the office came out, and Jin-hyuk and Sunwoo got into their car. The few apartments they showed them while driving around had almost identical structures and furniture.
“It’s south-facing so it gets a lot of sunlight, and it has a great view of Bukaksan Mountain. The private space is also quite spacious for an apartment.”
The real estate agent next to her gave a business-like smile and started listing the advantages of the house.
“How do you find it, Sunwoo-ssi?”
“Everything is fine. They all seem similar, so I don’t know which one is better. I’m sorry.”
She felt sorry for seemingly rejecting their effort to make time and show her around.
“That’s okay. Apartments do tend to look similar.”
“I really don’t mind any apartment… Please just decide for me, Secretary Seo.”
“Then let’s go with this apartment because it has the best location. The way in is not congested for a downtown location, it’s close to the subway, and it’s the most expensive.”
“What? Is it good because it’s expensive?”
Jin-hyuk looked puzzled when she asked if it was good because it was expensive.
“While Sunwoo-ssi testifies about the people on the island, the company will sponsor Sunwoo-ssi. So, we have to buy the most expensive one.”
Seeing her skeptical face, Jin-hyuk firmly nodded.
“It’s okay Sunwoo-ssi.”
After signing a contract with a real estate agent, Jin-hyuk took her to a department store to buy the necessary items for the house.
“And this is a magic wand that produces unlimited money. This is the boss’s personal card. Right now, he wouldn’t say anything even if you bought a foreign car in full with this card. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Buy everything you want, Sunwoo-ssi.”
Jin-hyuk took out a card from his wallet and waved it. It was the card that Taeju had given her before. Strangely, Seo Jin-hyuk seemed excited.
“Washing machine, air conditioner, refrigerator, and oven are included, so dishwasher, rice cooker, vacuum cleaner… Sunwoo-ssi, do you drink coffee?”
The only coffee she had was a bitter one she had secretly made in the kitchen out of curiosity after seeing Mrs. Kim drink it, by pouring a packet into lukewarm tap water.
“Even if you don’t drink it, have one. You’ll regret it later. This is the best domestic machine for home use. I’ve been saving up to buy it when I get my year-end bonus. I’ve been researching for several months, so there won’t be any failures.”
“I think we’re buying too much. I really don’t think I’ll need it.”
“These are the essentials.”
“My legs seem to be hurting too…”
She made an excuse, but he grabbed her clothes as if it made no sense.
“What are you talking about? You won’t get this opportunity again. Now, let’s go look at some furniture.”
The staff members with tablets followed the customers, who made millions of won a day, with wide smiles. And that day, Sunwoo went around the department store twice, following Secretary Seo.
His impression of Lee Sang-cheol was always that he was a rather slick person.
His family was filled with high-ranking officials like ministers and vice ministers, and he himself served as a congressman in Seoul three times.
“The power that allowed me to hold my position was the saying, ‘Be the stepping stone that corrects democracy.’ That is precisely the solemn mission given to me by the people.”
Lee Sang-cheol’s autobiography publication celebration was being held in a hall on the top floor of a hotel. The crystal glasses and all-glass walls reflected the light from the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, making the place look majestic. He was always faithful to showcasing what he had.
Most of the people around were familiar entrepreneurs who had come in person.
“I dare say that I have done my best, but I still have dreams. I have a big dream. The dream of making our Republic of Korea unshakeable in any adversity. The dream of making it the greatest country. I feel reassured because you are here. With your help, I can do it. Let’s walk together.”
In other words, he was saying to generously provide political funds.
“I can’t listen to this without a drink.”
Looking at Lee Sang-cheol on the stage, Taeju raised his empty glass. A waiter roaming between the tables immediately came over and filled his glass.
Sitting next to Taeju was Director Hong, from a huge retail company that owns thousands of department stores both domestically and internationally. They had known each other for quite a while and had a very close relationship.
“They’re all afraid not of that man, but of Mrs. Park Eui-rye. As long as Mrs. Park is backing him up, even a fifth term is possible.”
Lee Sang-cheol’s mother, Park Eui-rye, was a figure unknown to the general public, never appearing on official occasions. She was a person of great connections and skill, enough to manipulate politicians behind the scenes.
Among them, there was a saying that if you want to wear a badge on your chest, you should start by visiting Samcheong-dong, where Park Eui-rye’s house is located.
“Isn’t that Dan Taeju?”
Applause poured out from all around, and Lee Sang-cheol, who had stepped down from the stage, approached his seat.
“Now, please call me president as well.”
He immediately smiled and offered a handshake to Lee Sang-cheol.