“It’s not just about throwing people around. One of the employees took a few hits and then tried to counterattack with a heel hook, which really pissed off the CEO.”
“What’s a heel hook?”
Today, the tonkatsu was delicious, and the side dishes were tasty, putting Jin-hyuk in a good mood. He happily spooned up the jelly that came as dessert and casually asked. He had no interest or knowledge of wrestling or Jiu-jitsu.
“It’s a technique where you trap the leg between your thighs and apply pressure. It’s a technique that can destroy the knees. It’s actually a forbidden move that should never be used because it can permanently damage the knee or ankle. Even attempting it is considered extremely rude.”
“What? He tried to use that move on the CEO?”
Surprised, Jin-hyuk looked taken aback, and the employee nodded.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“No, it’s not that… Well, anyway, let’s go. Someone went crazy trying to do that.”
Jin-hyuk threw the leftover jelly in the trash and ran towards the gym. Even the employees from the fitness center came out and blocked the entrance, watching the scene inside.
“Excuse me, move aside.”
With the sound of something falling and colliding, accompanied by the cheers of the men, Jin-hyuk pushed through them and entered.
Taeju had one arm wrapped around the head of the man lying face down, forcing his head to tilt downwards. Every time he applied pressure, a soft crackling sound could be heard, reaching where Jin-hyuk stood.
“That b*stard is persistent. Even if he wants to win, using a heel hook against a person? And against the CEO, no less.”
“Assistant Manager Kim crossed the line.”
The employees next to him were chattering. But even though he didn’t know, Jin-hyuk thought that Taeju would probably be pleased about it.
Being able to vent his frustrations.
“These people are. Seriously. Even if they’re like that, shouldn’t they stop when people are getting hurt? Move aside!”
Jin-hyuk scolded the employees and stepped onto the mat.
“Oh, Secretary Seo is here?”
The employee whose head was being held drooled and trembled. His lost hand flailed in the air, and his eyes were about to roll back.
“Boss, what are you doing right now? Let him go immediately!”
Just the hint of a smile on Taeju’s face sent a chilling, ruthless vibe. But Jin-hyuk couldn’t back down here. Cold sweat trickled down his back, but he raised his voice even louder.
“You competed in Jiu-jitsu tournaments during college and earned your belt. Did you inform the employees beforehand? No, you didn’t. If you do this against ordinary people, it’s a crime.”
“A crime? Come on, I was gentle.”
Finally, Taeju released the employee’s head. As if considering something, he lightly tapped the employee’s shoulder, who was sprawled on the floor, and then stood up.
“Looks like your clothes get wrinkled. Do we have a new shirt in the office?”
His face looked refreshed, as if stress had been relieved.
The white hall of the exhibition was filled with birds everywhere. Hanging from the ceiling were sculptures of pure white cranes. A migratory bird spread its wings as if about to take flight, while a kingfisher perched next to a branch adorned with spring flowers.
“Artist Kim Donghee passed away 12 years ago. Before liberation, he was a teacher who couldn’t even teach our language properly. But he sold all his belongings, asking people, and strangers, to contribute to the independence movement, and spent his life traveling around the country, painting only birds.”
Besides her, Hyo-in stood blankly, reading the pamphlet next to Sunwoo.
“After settling in Busan during the 25th of June, he mainly painted water birds. However, because his son was abroad, he presented the paintings to overseas galleries after the artist passed away. That’s how they became known in Korea.”
The paintings didn’t have names for the birds, but instead, the locations where the artist painted them were written as titles.
“The one spreading its wings and drinking water is a Mandarin Duck, the small bird with a pointy head and messy feathers is a Yellow Bittern, the one with a sharp beak and black head is a Common Moorhen, and those gray-haired birds gathered on the cliff… are Eurasian Magpies. There were so many Eurasian magpies on the island where I used to live. When they multiplied and covered the sky, the fish that fishermen caught decreased because of their droppings. That’s why people by the seaside dislike them.”
She named each bird as she looked at the birds that covered every space in the exhibition hall.
“You really know a lot about birds. Sunwoo-ssi, why do you like birds so much?”
“Just… because they’re beautiful.”
She didn’t have the eloquence to express the deep-rooted emotions hidden beneath her chest, so she didn’t know how to beautifully articulate her buried thoughts.
“Because they’re so beautiful.”
She simply said that while looking at the paintings. Suddenly, tears started flowing. They rolled down her cheeks and fell under her chin.
Besides her, Hyo-in and the bodyguards were perplexed, not knowing what to do.
The four of them had just finished their meal at a nearby restaurant. Throughout the meal, Sunwoo had been talking about birds. But then, feeling embarrassed by her own excitement, she tried to keep her mouth shut, and Hyo-in encouraged her to speak more.
“Thank you s-so much for taking me to the exhibition. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was truly amazing.”
Sunwoo blushed and bid farewell to Hyo-in, who had escorted her to the front of her apartment building.
“I’m proud because you liked it. We haven’t known each other for long, but I genuinely hope you’re happy, Sunwoo-ssi. Sincerely.”
“For becoming my friend.”
Sunwoo felt shy and stumbled over her words, bowing slightly in return.
While the two were talking, the bodyguards sat silently in the back seat, like statues. After Hyo-in shook hands and said goodbye to the bodyguards, they were about to enter the entrance.
But Taeju was standing on the stairs of the apartment building.
“I hired bodyguards, but it seems like they’re just going out to have fun with you.”
At Taeju’s words, the two large bodyguards behind her tensed up.
“While we’re having our meal, why would the two of them just wait outside the store? If they’re going to watch me anyway, it’s better to do it right next to us.”
“I guess so.”
He smiled kindly and nodded.
“In that case, you two can go now.”
After the bodyguards gave a respectful bow and left, Taeju wrapped his arm around her shoulder and entered the elevator.
“Where are we going?”
When he pressed the button for the B2 parking lot, Sunwoo looked up in confusion.
“To my place.”
“Because your bed is too small.”
“It’s difficult to have sex there.”
As he opened the passenger seat door, he grabbed her head like a ball and pushed her inside. Her hair became disheveled. While Taeju went around to the driver’s seat, Sunwoo used her fingers to tidy up her hair.
“Don’t touch my hair like that.”
While sitting in the driver’s seat, he paused.
Sunwoo refused his gesture to fasten her seat belt and she pulled the buckle down on her own, making a clicking sound.
“I’m not a child.”
“How can you look like a child when I’m someone who wants to f*ck you?”
She tried to retort, but when she looked at him, she couldn’t find any words and her lips just twitched a few times.
As he was watching the road, he looked at her when the signal turned red. He raised his hand to touch her head but quickly lowered it.
Being with this man sometimes made it difficult for her to breathe. It felt like her breath would fill up to the tip of her chin and then dissipate with great effort. The dense silence that filled the car suddenly shattered when the car behind them honked loudly, as if the signal had changed.
After a moment, the car stopped in the parking lot of a house.
His voice, as he held her hand and helped her out of the car, was appropriately gentle. It felt like he was lightly holding her with his fingertips, but at some point, her body was pulled towards him. Despite the tender voice, his movements felt urgent.
The front door lock opened, and almost simultaneously, their lips met.
His tongue pushed through her parted lips and licked inside her mouth, as if it could swallow her moans. His smooth tongue invaded her mouth, teasing her teeth and tongue. As she was pushed into his house, a firm hand supported her back.
When he slid one of his thighs between her legs, pressing against her intimate area, she unknowingly clenched his shirt in her hands.
Her chest trembled at the sound of him calling her name.
“Don’t try to read my mind. It’s not as enjoyable as you might think.”
His lips were against her ears. His hot tongue brushed against her earlobe and descended to her neck. With his face buried in her neck, he took a deep breath, and in the heat of the moment, Sunwoo staggered and leaned against the wall.
When the sensor light flickered off again, he suddenly hugged her tightly. He still hadn’t released her lips. The sense of urgency brought back memories of their previous night at the hotel, and instinctively, her body stiffened.
“W-Wait, wait a minute… there…”
Sunwoo grabbed his forearm as they climbed the stairs.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be rough.”
Her body was laid on the bed. His hand slid underneath her waist, and the shirt that was still buttoned up above her head was removed.
As his lips, which had been exploring her neck, moved up to her chest, Sunwoo tensed up. The traces he had left on her body still hadn’t disappeared. She thought he would soon expose them and mark her body as if claiming territory. But what gently touched her was a soft, teasing tongue.
The tongue lightly flicked against her erect n*pple and playfully danced around. It sucked into the mouth with a hot breath, then the tip of the tongue was pressed firmly.
An involuntary, hazy moan escaped her lips.
Her skirt and underwear were simultaneously stripped off, falling to the floor. He wrapped his large hand around her knees and spread them apart. Despite her body trembling, she let her hands cover her v*gina and continued to struggle to keep her knees together.