Beep beep beep. Beep beep.
A few hours later, Taeju looked down at his phone and laughed hollowly. Sunwoo was not answering his calls.
She had blown up in front of the reporters telling them that she remembered the father who made her that way, so there was no telling how Lee Sang-cheol would react. The plan was to tighten the noose more slowly, but there was no time to recover the bomb that had already been thrown.
She was easily scared and even afraid to talk to strangers, but sometimes she would show such impulsive behavior.
‘I should have hired someone to watch over her when the last incident happened.’
The guy who obviously chased after Sunwoo because he was attracted to her openly showed hostility towards Taeju. Well, it makes sense since his nose was broken and his car was totaled.
“Why won’t she answer the phone?”
His hand gripped the phone tightened.
“Is there something wrong, boss?”
Jin-hyuk, who was driving, looked at him through the rear view mirror. They were on their way to a nearby Korean restaurant for a dinner appointment.
“No, just drive.”
It was a mistake to have her move into the apartment in the first place. Even though he knew well that there was no good in keeping Sunwoo by his side, the thought kept circling in his head.
“Secretary Seo, can you take the car to her place?”
“Now? Boss, do you remember who you’re meeting now? It’s Chairman Kim from the Ravens.”
Chairman Kim is the owner of the largest cruise ship company in the country. Starting with attracting guests in conjunction with Taeju’s resort in Macau, he had maintained a good relationship for several years and was now the largest investor in his company.
“Ah, right, I forgot.”
Noticing his strange behavior, Jin-hyuk, who had been sneaking glances at him through the rear view mirror, drove back to the restaurant.
The seats for Chairman Kim and Taeju were on the second floor overlooking the courtyard garden. The restaurant had a traditional house feel, with a modern and traditional mix, including the ceiling in the shape of rafters and pillars made of raw wood.
“Why does your face look like that today? Is something wrong?”
Despite having turned off his phone, his fingers kept twitching.
“No, nothing is wrong.”
“What do you mean, nothing? It’s clear something’s up.”
Chairman Kim poured alcohol into his cup from a kettle. He was a person who liked to drink and chat over meals.
“I’m sorry, Chairman. I think I’ll have to refuse today. Instead, let’s drink twice as much next time.”
“Why? Are you going back to work again? The rumors these days are quite something. What are you up to that’s causing such a stir? Trust only in your youth, you’ll die from overwork. People need to know how to take it easy and rest appropriately.”
“It’s not that, I think I have to drive.”
“A woman, huh.”
Chairman Kim raised his glass in a toast, took a sip as if savoring it, and then opened his mouth again.
“There are only two reasons a man would be so impatient. Either a new car is coming out, or his girlfriend is mad and he doesn’t know why.”
“It’s not what you’re thinking.”
Seeing him uncomfortable, Chairman Kim chuckled.
“So it is because of a woman. Tell me about it, and I’ll let you go quickly. Now that I’m old, I find such stories more interesting than boring business talks.”
“I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed because there’s no great story. Just… she’s someone who’s on my mind for various reasons. Anyway, right now I have responsibility for that woman, so it’s even more so.”
“So, it’s just bothersome, nothing serious?”
“How many years have I known you? Has it been about 3 years? This is the first time I’ve seen you talk about someone other than work.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, even a single word. Secretary Seo.”
Chairman Kim gestured for Seo Jin-hyuk, who was sitting at a distant table, to come closer.
“Talk to my secretary and arrange a dinner appointment for next month based on our schedule.”
“Yes, I understand.”
When Jin-hyuk returned to his seat, Chairman Kim put down the glass he was drinking from.
“It seems urgent, so you should go. And next month, as promised, we’ll drink twice as much and talk again.”
“Thank you for understanding. Then…”
As he stood up, Chairman Kim smiled subtly.
“And you, take a look in the mirror on your way out.”
“You’re making a face as if you’re going to die of anxiety, yet you say it’s nothing. Are you sure you don’t want to believe that?”
“I’ll see you next time.”
He quickly left his seat.
As soon as he got into the elevator, he turned on his phone. There were no missed calls. Pressing the redial button, he became really serious this time. The fact that she wasn’t answering the phone had been bothering him, and now it felt ominous.
“It seems like the meeting ended too quickly . Was there a problem during your conversation?”
Seo Jin-hyuk, who had accompanied him, asked.
As he spoke and lifted his head, his face was reflected on one side of the elevator wall, which was a mirror. His face was stiff as usual. Of course, if needed, it could also be a hypocritical face that could smile kindly to anyone.
“Do I appear overly anxious?”
“Hmm… I’m not sure. You’re usually expressionless.”
That old man. Spouting such nonsense.
“Give me the car keys, and you can leave work immediately.”
“You’re not going to the office?”
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Secretary Seo got off in the first floor lobby and he went down to the underground parking lot.
As soon as he got into the car, Taeju started the car almost recklessly fast. The sound of tire friction was loud in the underground parking lot.
He headed straight for Sunwoo’s apartment. In just about 20 minutes, a short time, he arrived at her apartment parking lot, breaking all sorts of traffic rules.
His hand pressing the elevator button was cold with sweat. At some point, it felt natural that she relied on him excessively.
When they were together, it was natural for her to look at him, and it was quite enjoyable to see her blush at the slightest touch. So if anything happened to her, it was entirely his fault.
Taeju, who had entered Sunwoo’s apartment by typing the front door password, frowned deeply. All the lights in the apartment were off. It wasn’t long before Taeju came out of the apartment again.
There’s no way she wouldn’t answer the phone to this extent.
His face was now really serious. He took out his phone and dialed Park Chang-won’s number.
His voice was sleepy, as if he had been sleeping.
“Ahjussi, I need you to find someone right now.”
– Right now?
“Yes, as soon as possible.”
– Yawn, what time is it now?
It seemed like Chang-won was getting up to check the time, as rustling sounds could be heard over the phone. During that short wait, he clenched his teeth so hard that his jaw ached.
– I can’t do anything at this time. Can’t it wait for tomorrow? I get very sleepy early in the evening as I get older. It’s hard to move. What’s so urgent?
“It’s an important matter….”
His gaze stopped at one place as he spoke. Across the street, Sunwoo was coming out of a restaurant with some woman.
– Well, it seems like an important matter since you’re so desperately asking. Who do you need to find?
“I’ll call you back.”
Taeju immediately ended the call and crossed the street swiftly. Sunwoo didn’t even look back at him until he got very close. The woman she was with was the first to notice him.
“And who are you?”
Surprised by his rude tone, Sunwoo awkwardly looked back over the woman’s head. She felt like she knew who was standing there without having to check. As expected, Taeju’s broad chest was right in front of her.
“I’m the bookstore owner. And you are?”
“You don’t need to know that.”
“What? What kind of person is this?”
Confused by Taeju’s response, Sunwoo quickly grabbed Hyo-in’s sleeve.
“I’m sorry. I think it’s best if we part ways here today. I’ll go to the bookstore to buy some books in a few days.”
“You don’t have to come to buy books, come to have Dakgalbi together. It seems like you know him, but don’t hang out with such a person. Hang out with me.”
Hyo-in glanced at him once more and then turned around and left.
“The bookstore owner? You two seem pretty close.”
He, who was standing expressionless, elongated to the end of his sentence.
“She’s a friend.”
“Oh, she’s even a friend?”
“You act all pitiful as if you’re standing alone in the vast sea, and now you’ve even made a friend. It seems like that guy, Hee-won, also visits frequently.”
Sunwoo took a step back because it was hard to look up at him because he was too close.
“Why are you angry?”
Then he grabbed her arm and pulled her close again. It was because of the people passing by behind them.
“I’m not angry.”
But he was, he was definitely angry about something, but he didn’t know why.
He was a person who would sweet-talk her, pretending to care the most in the world even when he had no interest at all. He was a person who would say that he was being nice because she was useful, even in front of her. Today, even though he was pretending not to be, it was clear that he was angry.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
In his words, she took out her phone from her pocket and checked. Two missed calls.
“I didn’t know it was on. Why? Is something wrong?”
“Last time you said you felt like a car was following you. You said you felt like people were coming to get you. If someone who said such things didn’t answer the phone, what do you think I would think? Especially after you threw such a bomb at the reporters, there would be more than one or two people who would be on edge about your testimony. Didn’t you think at all that you should be careful?”
“Ah… I see.”
She hadn’t thought about it at all because she was having fun with Hyo-in. He must have thought of all sorts of things since she had made such a fuss about being scared and not even answering the phone.
“Answer your phone properly from now on. And don’t think about going out alone in the future. I’ll arrange for someone to accompany you.”
“Why are you going to such lengths? I’m fine. I can be careful.”
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and turned towards the apartment.
“I’m not asking.”
Sunwoo looked up at him as she was dragged along.