CHAPTER 3- PART 1
“Well, just once, then. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t sore.”
Kang-woo rolled onto his back, and Ha-eun lightly patted his shoulder.
“How’s it feeling here? Your shoulder must be sore from using it a lot yesterday….”
“It’s a little bit knotted up.”
“Does it hurt much? I have some medicine in my bag, would you like some?”
“Not enough to take medicine. I could use a little massage.”
“I can do that for you.”
Ha-eun massaged Kang-woo’s shoulders and back. Ha-eun had learned massage to nurse her sick mother, and after practicing a little bit each time, she was pretty good at it.
“Is it cool?”
“A little lower.”
Ha-Eun’s hand lingered on her lower back.
“Let me give you a little pressure there.”
“Oh, did you hurt your back?”
he asked in a worried voice.
“My back is fine, I’ll take it off, but it’s down there that’s more urgent.”
Ha-Eun’s face turned red. His lower body, which had just been massaged and aroused, was honestly naked.
“It will return to its original state in time. Of course, there are other ways.”
“Well, then… I’ll take care of myself….”
Ha-Eun tried to pull away, but he grabbed her hand, his eyes blazing.
“You said you wanted to… touch… if …… did it for you?”
“You promised you wouldn’t touch a finger….”
She said, but she was thirsty too. She had the same unresolved desire. There was a knock on the door from the next room.
“Uh, I have to go see Camilla.”
“Are you running away again?”
“Camila scared me a lot yesterday, and I need to make sure she slept well, so you should get some more rest.”
Ha-eun pulled the blanket over Kang-woo’s body and crossed to the next room. Again, Camilla’s blood color was not good.
“Do you have any medicine? I think I might be sick.”
“Sure. Just a second.”
“I didn’t disturb you two, did I?”
“I heard you two talking and I knocked.”
“No. Here, here are the pills.”
HaEun pulled the body salve from her bag and held it out to Camilla.
“Get some more sleep, and let me know if you feel uncomfortable.”
“You’re like an older sister. You look much younger than me, and I’m used to seeing you take care of sick people.”
“I have a sister who is five years younger, and I had to raise her when my mom was working because she was often sick as a child and I always took care of her.”
Suddenly, I remembered. It was one of the coldest days of the year when we ran out of the house because it was red-flagged.
It was the winter of the frozen pipes and knee-deep snow. She held the hands of her two young daughters as she walked to escape her debtors.
With no destination in mind, she sat down in front of a convenience store.
[It’s cold, isn’t it? Wait a minute, I’ll get you something warm.]
[Mom, Young-eun must have caught this cold].
[What can I do… My Young-eun’s respiratory system is weak enough without me….]
[I’ll keep an eye on Young-Eun.]
Mom went into the convenience store. Ha-eun watched through the glass as her mom bought warm fish cakes and soy milk. All she had left was the change from her piggy bank.
As she rang up the hundred-won bill, the convenience store employee gave her an annoyed look. Ha-eun was upset.
She resented her father, who should have taken responsibility for the business failure, and hated him for abandoning the family and running away.
My mom is beautiful and fair. It hurt me to see her bowing to someone else. Ha-eun couldn’t forget that day…
[Mom… wait a little while, I’ll grow up and make you happy.
She had studied and worked part-time to the point where she was called a one-trick pony by her friends, and she had grown so far.
Still, she wanted to climb higher, to a place where no one could criticize her family. Suddenly, she was overcome with emotion as she remembered the past.
When I felt Camila’s eyes on Ha-eun, I hastened to summarize my feelings.
“I felt it at first, You are a strong person, and I’m relieved that Kang-woo has you.”
“You’re not the kind of person who needs someone, you’re too strong….”
“That’s Mr. Kang-woo on the outside.”
“Mr. Kang-woo. He’s a man with a lot of scars. I can’t tell you that, but you’ll find out when you get to know him.”
“What do you mean, go out with him?”
Ha-eun was puzzled.
“I can see that you are interested in Kang-woo. You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool me.”
“That’s just… he’s the kind of guy who would make any girl swoon.”
Any girl would dream of dating a guy like that at least once in her life.
“He’s a wonderful man, and while he can be a bit gruff and cold, I can vouch for the fact that he has a soft side, too. I wish you both the best.”
Ha-Eun simply smiled wryly. Despite her sharp first impression, it seemed she could be a friend. What kind of scars could he have, anyway? Ha-Eun wondered bitterly.
* * * * * * *
A woman in a long, black, flowing dress raises her teacup with grace. She looked well-groomed, but her eyes were fierce and piercing.
She was Hye-yeon, the designated hostess of the group.
“What a waste.”
Hye-yeon glanced at Kang-hyun.
“It’s Kang-woo’s child. If he’s going to have an accident, it should be me….”
“He went on a business trip to Italy and had an accident there?”
“Would you like to see?”
One of the people who accompanied Kang-woo on his business trip was Kang-hyun. The picture he sent was of him and a woman surrounded by dust.
Regret crossed Hye-yeon’s lips.
“There was an accident. What kind of accident?…”
“Kang Woo himself is carrying a woman… What’s with the atmosphere between them?”
“Where’s the blood? It’s only stopped for a while.”
“Hmm… Did Guanghua Construction have such a pretty girl?”
“They must be playing with each other because their level is low.”
“Crazy asshole. You have enough on your plate with the project you’re working on and you’re having a relationship.”
Hye-yeon didn’t care who Kang-woo was dating; she just hated the idea of giving away what was supposed to go to her children to someone outside of marriage.
“It’s better for us if he looks elsewhere. Where will the shares be given to an extramarital affair?
The chairman doesn’t understand either. Just give him a building in the backwoods and tell him to get lost.
“What kind of business do you want him to run….”
Kang-woo, who’d had an affair and given birth outside, didn’t have the chin to look pretty.
“That’s what I’m wondering, too.”
“You should be nervous because if Kang-woo succeeds in her project, your father might have another whim.”
“I just want you to stay alert, because you should be the next chairman of the Jeong-Han Group.”
Chairman Seok planned to have Kang-woo learn architecture to wean him away from the affiliate from the beginning.
The dirty bastard was smarter than Kang Hyun at everything. Studying. Sports. Even his smug face.
Hye-yeon’s irritation rose.
“No matter how smart he is, he won’t be able to build a house on 50,000 square meters of land.”
“……Hmm…sounds like there’s another way.”
“You’ll see. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Kang Hyun smiled meaningfully.
“I’m counting on you, Mom, because you’re my only hope.”
Hye-yeon smiled back at Kang-hyun.
They put on a front to look like a happy family, but she couldn’t stand the fact that he was growing out of wedlock.
“Dirty bastard… And nasty….’
* * * * * * *
Day 4 in Italy. It’s the last day of a week-long business trip.
“Now that the contract has been successfully finalized, you can take the rest of the day off.”
Cheers erupted as they were given free time. Team Leader Kim tapped Ha-eun on the arm.
“What are you going to do, Ha-eun? We’re going shopping. Do you want to come with us?”
“Nah. I’m just going to crash at the hotel.”
“Okay, see you later.”
They left the hotel. While the others were excited to go shopping, Ha-Eun had to save every penny.
Her salary was barely enough to send Young to college next year.
“We should go too.”
I said, but the next thing I knew, I was being held back by Kang-woo.
“I gave the secretary some free time, too. It’s just the two of us.”
Once I was pulled into a taxi by Kang-woo’s hand, I had no choice. Should I buy something small?
I couldn’t afford an expensive gift, but I could afford a souvenir. The taxi drove for about 20 minutes before arriving at a shopping center.
Ha-eun wandered through the shops, looking for souvenirs she thought Young-eun would like.
“What are you buying?”
“Gifts for my mom and sister.
“He’s in high school this year, and I wanted to get them something.”
“Then we have a good store.”
“Oh… Mr. General Manager”
I was looking at a pouch, and he took my hand and led me further inside. He took her to a store that sold electronics. New laptops from this year were on display.
“Company A’s laptops are cheaper than in Korea.”
“Do you have a laptop?”
“No, I don’t. But I don’t think I need one yet.”
“If he is in high school, he is going to college next year, and a laptop is a must.”
I” know! But it’s so expensive…”
It was certainly cheaper than in Korea, but I couldn’t afford a laptop for two-thirds of my monthly salary.
‘Young-eun would love it so much….’
I felt sorry for her, sitting in front of a low-end computer every time she studied. Ha-eun thought to herself.
Kang-woo called the clerk over to talk to her, and he came back with a shopping bag. Kang-woo puts the shopping bag in Ha-eun’s hand.
“Mr. general manager….”
“This is an incentive from the owner. You found the marble you were looking for, so of course you deserve a reward.”
“My business trip was delayed by two days because of you, Ha-Eun, so it’s only fair.”
Ha-eun tried to hand the gift back, but Kang-woo grabbed it.
“……I’ll take it, my sister will be very happy.”
“If the Paju project is successful, there will be an even bigger reward.”
“Yes. I hope so, too.”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t do anything reckless.”
We left the shopping center and walked down the street.
The beautiful streets of Italy are dazzling. Everywhere I looked was a painting, so it was a real treat for my eyes.
The overwhelming feeling was similar to an emotion she never wanted to feel again. Ha-eun immediately thought of Zhuan and my friend who betrayed me…
‘Forget it ……, let’s just feel this moment….’
It seemed like Italy wasn’t the first time Kang-woo had experienced rain. After passing through alleyways and alleys, they reached their destination.
He led Ha-eun to a restaurant when they were getting hungry.
“This is a good place,” he said,
“And it’s one of my favorite places in Italy.”
There was only one menu, so food was soon on the table. Ha-Eun dug into the seafood salad for an appetizer with her fork and tasted it.
Her eyes widened in surprise. The shrimp tasted amazing with the sweet sauce.
“How do you like it?”
“It’s delicious! I don’t eat anything I don’t feel like eating because I’m native to Korea…”
Ha-Eun ate the hearty seafood without stopping.
“That way, you’ll have energy for the night.”
Kang-woo’s eyes glowed like a fierce beast. Ha-eun flinched.
Kang-woo placed the next batch of food on Ha-eun’s plate for her to eat. When he added that the food was good for stamina, Ha-eun’s hand trembled slightly.
A sneaky glint appeared in her eyes that she couldn’t hide. Ha-eun swallowed hard in nervousness.
“Let’s eat quickly and get out of here…
I left the restaurant and walked down the street again. Beautiful streets if you look hard enough. A photo was a must.
Ha-eun couldn’t stop taking pictures. After a while of taking pictures of the beautiful streets, the camera captured Kang-woo’s face.
His eyes were fixed on the sea. He looked like he was thinking.
“Even that is a picture…..”
I felt like I had to take a picture of him, as he was so well-matched with the beautiful street.
Ha-eun took a picture without realizing it. My heart was pounding as I looked at the picture I had secretly taken.
I wanted to be a little closer to him. I wanted him more than ever, especially after his death.
It seemed too late to turn my relationship with him into nothing. My body opened up to him, just as it had last night through our kisses and caresses.
‘My eyes are on him, and it’s too late to be neither …… nor me…’
* * * * * * *
The next day. It was the same seat on the plane back to Korea. Kang-woo stared at Ha-eun in silence, who looked tired.
[Kang-woo. What should I do? This business trip should have been D-Day, Ha-Eun, but from what I’ve seen of you, you’re not someone who can be easily overcome. Ho-ho-ho].
Camilla’s voice echoed as she teased the rain. His discomfort didn’t subside. I’ve never met a girl as difficult as Ha-eun before.
Many women wanted to sleep with me just because I glanced at them, but to have a woman who had a one-night stand with her reject me made my stomach boil.
It was no longer enough. I couldn’t wait any longer, my need was too great. His eyes blazed.
“Do ha-eun… I’ve waited long enough.”
Kang-woo’s expression turned stern.
* * * * * * *
Kang-woo felt like crap. When she returned home and encountered Kang-hyun’s frowning face, she became even more nervous.
“I did watch a movie, and it was very good.”
“Is the word out already?”
“Only to my ears.”
“I don’t mind if they keep talking about it.”
“You mean you don’t mind if my father finds out?”
It was more of a hope. Kang Hyun opened his mouth.
“Oh, did you hear? Min So-jung is coming to Korea next week. You should meet her this time. It’s obvious she’s coming to Korea to see you.”
“I don’t know that girl.”
Kang-woo spat out the words coldly. But when he came up to his room, he roughly loosened his tie.
When I heard Min So-jung’s name, an uncontrollable rage surged through me.
There was an envelope on the table.
‘Heavenly voice soprano Min So-jung’s performance in Korea’.
Kang-woo tore the invitation to shreds.
Without taking off his clothes, Kang-woo walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower. The stream of water overhead hit him hard on the crown of his head.
His fists curled into tight fists. If he didn’t cool off immediately, he would go crazy.
Ha-eun’s face flashed through his mind. Thinking of her, Kang-woo slipped his hand into his pants, and soon his hand was moving quickly.
* * * * * * *
Ha-eun took a taxi home from the airport.
“Is everything okay?”
“Am I a kid?”
“My Young-eun is all grown up.”
She had always thought of her as her little sister, but she was becoming more and more mature. Ha-eun opened her suitcase and organized her things.
“What’s all this stuff anyway?”
“Uh, yeah. I have a gift for you.”
“What is it?”
“Wait. Here it is.”
Young-eun was surprised to see the box.
“You’ll need it when you go to college.”
“You bought something so expensive? Where did you get the money?”
“It’s an incentive. I won an important contract on this business trip.”
“Really? Wow! Awesome! Thank you, sister! I love you!”
Young-eun kissed Ha-eun’s cheek. Young-eun grabbed her laptop box and went into her room.
The sound of her bragging to her friends could be heard in the living room. Ha-eun took out the laundry again. A small shopping bag came out.
The gift he gave me as a souvenir was a bag. I don’t know the exact value, but I know how expensive this bag is.
This year’s index was the same as the mountain bag. Ha-eun put the bag back in the box. If she returned it now, he wouldn’t get it, so she would return it later.
* * * * * * *
Ha-eun continued to visit her mom’s hospital room even though it was the weekend.
“Mom. It’s me.”
“Did you have a good business trip?”
“I bought you a gift I think you’ll like.”
“What kind of gift, since you don’t have any money….”
Ha-eun put the picture frame on the desk.
“It’s not expensive.”
“Oh my God. It’s beautiful… Is it made of sand?”
Mom’s face lit up.
“I bought this painting for you to get well soon. It’s said it brings good energy.”
“I want to go on a trip right now. When was the last time I saw the sea….”
“When Young-eun goes to college, Mom and I will go on a trip to the sea.”
“Let’s do it.”
Ha-eun organized the refrigerator.
“By the way, why are the side dishes the same, Mom? Is something wrong with your stomach?”
“No, I’m eating well.”
The word well was a pure lie.
“I need to see Ms. Kim’s guardian for a minute.”
Ha-eun left the room and went to see the nurse.
“I’m worried because you’re not eating whole meals.”
“The nutritionist is taking care of the patients, but it’s hard for her to cater to individual tastes, so I was thinking of moving her to a special room, but….”
“It’s going to be expensive.”
“Well, it’s a private room, but if we move you there, you’ll have less to worry about. You know, cancer is all about post-op care, right?”
Money was an issue. The current ward costs two hundred dollars a month for nursing care alone. Moving to a special room would cost five hundred.
Ha-eun’s mouth burned. Should she take out a loan again? Her mother’s surgery had taken out both a home loan and a credit loan.
I’m still in the process of paying off the loans, so I don’t know if I can take out more. I also have to send Young Eun to college next year, and the only place the money would go is Taesan.
“Just give me a few days.”
She needed to recover quickly, even if it meant going into debt again.
* * * * * * *
On Monday, the news of Kang-woo’s saga spread through the company. Team Leader Kim was ecstatic.
“Oh my God! How romantic. Are you kidding me? You’re telling me that the head of the company dug a hole with a hammer?”
“I’m telling you, I’m a guy. It was a shock to me in so many ways.”
“Our head honcho is sweet. I’m jealous of you, Ha-eun. The head of the company is carrying you.”
“……Hey, stop teasing me.”
Ha-eun’s face burned.
“I’m just jealous.”
“Still, I’m glad you found a marble you like. You had a hard time finding it.”
“You got lucky.”
Ha-eun felt a tingling in her back.
Ha-eun looked at her bank balance as soon as she turned on her computer.
[Balance 530,000 won]
A sigh escaped her lips. After all, moving to a hospital room on her current salary was impossible. Then, a light bulb went off in Ha-eun’s eyes.
Her husband worked in the loan department at Wuxin Bank. She remembered that some employees had asked her for a loan because the company’s bank was Wuxin.
After lunch, Ha-eun went to the emergency exit with Hyun-kyung.
“What is it?”
Ha-eun’s jaw dropped.
“Are you going to ask for a loan? If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know and I’ll ask him.”
“So, what do you want to know?”
“Can someone who already has a loan take out another loan?”
“It depends on your credit, but I know if you have a job, they’ll lend you up to your annual salary.”
“I already have a worker’s loan.”
“Oh…. Ms. Ha-eun, are things bad at home?”
Ha-eun’s face was filled with worry.
“Well…. Then you’ll have to come up with some other collateral.”
“I see. I guess we’ll have to put in formal documents, just in case. How much do you need?”
My mom would be in a nursing home for another 10 months. It would be easier if she had insurance, but she had already used it up during the hard times.
“Five thousand is quite a lot of money….”
“In life, there are times when you need a lot of money.”
A bitter smile tugged at Ha-eun’s lips.
“Everybody does it. Unless you’re rich… Well, I’ll put you in touch with him. He should be able to tell you if it’s a go or no go before you put in the paperwork.”
“Thank you so much, sir.”
Ha-eun left the emergency exit with Hyun-Kyung.
A few moments later. The sound of footsteps came from upstairs. It was Kang-woo.
* * * * * * *
Secretary Jung doubted my eyes. Kang-woo had just returned from smoking a cigarette and looked excited.
“The evil knight seems to be quiet these days….”
“The head of the department did a good job last time, but there’s still some noise.”
“Why is that?”
“I think our company image needs a makeover.”
Recently, there was an article about how Guanghua Construction was finally forced to raise the white flag in the face of the huge capital of large companies.
It was time to change the image.
“I think it’s good to get rid of the image of Guanghua Construction. Do you have any suggestions?”
“Use an in-house model, preferably someone more meaningful….”
“Do you have any employees in mind as models?”
“What? Ms. Ha?”
“It’s good, isn’t it? It’s meaningful to have an ace architectural designer from Guanghua Construction as a model.”
Kang-woo’s expression was like that of a predator.
“I’m sure Ms. Ha’eun would be good with cameras… I wonder if she’ll take it….”
“She’ll take it, she’s the one who’s in a hurry right now.”
* * * * * * *
Ha-eun received the results from the bank that afternoon.
[Borrowing from financial institutions became difficult. If I needed money fast, I had to turn to private finance, but I couldn’t take out a loan to buy back a house that was ruined by a loan. ]
Ha-eun buried her face in her desk. Money. Where is the money?
“Ms. Ha-eun. Paging the general manager.”
Kang-woo called her at least once a day. It was a regular occurrence, so I took the design I’d been working on and went up to the general manager’s office.
She knocked and walked in, and Kang-woo was waiting for her.
“Have a seat.”
“…The materials are at….”
“I have something else for you today.”
“What is it?”
“Look at this first.”
He handed me the papers.
“What’s this for?”
“To do an advertisement as an in-house model.”
“Oh, so you’re trying to change your image, I guess that’s okay.”
“It’s a six-month contract, and the modeling fee is 50 million won.”
“Oh, 50 million won?”
Ha-eun gasped, her heart racing.
“I found a model for this ad, but….”
Kang-woo’s gaze bore into Ha-eun’s face.
“As an in-house model……!!”
“Isn’t that the same contract term I offered Ms Ha-eun, quite coincidentally?”
His breath trembled as arsenic caught on his lips. It was the terms of his contract that he couldn’t stand anymore. Seven months until the Paju project was finished.
Ha-eun bit her lip. If I refuse, I’ll lose 50 million won, right? Then I’ll owe him…
Ha-eun decided to think of only one thing.
Ha-eun couldn’t get rid of the feeling of being caught in his net. He wasn’t the kind of man who would settle for a kiss. After all, he was the kind of man who would take what he wanted.
Yes, you can have my body, I’ll enjoy it as much as you want…
But I won’t be able to do as I please with my mind. Ha-Eun stood up.
“Please write a contract. Let’s start our relationship off on the right foot.”
“That’s what I want.”
Ha-eun resented Kang-woo.