Her lips parted, and the fruit was crushed on top, as if smeared. Sweet and refreshing juice flowed through her lips. The taste was intoxicating.

A strange standoff ensued for a while, with Leeseo clenching her lips together Taegyeom casually ran a cherry over her lips. She gritted her teeth and bit into it to end it, until Taegyeom finally broke out in laughter.

With an amused expression, he pulled his hand back and casually put the cherry he had been crushing on Leeseo’s lips into his own mouth.

“What are you doing?”

“I prepared these cherries for you on purpose, but I feel bad you didn’t eat them. Have one. It’s sweet.”

Kwon Taegyeom shook the cherry stem playfully. The red, juicy flesh jiggled as if to tease her. Leeseo steadied herself and said.

“I don’t like cherries.”

“Who doesn’t like cherries? Your taste is more picky than it seems. Still, eat one. I prepared it, even if you’re a harsh woman.”

His leisurely response sent heat rushing to her ears. It was always like this. Even when she was determined not to get caught up in his antics, Kwon Taegyeom had a knack for turning her insides upside down with ease.

Leeseo cast a slender, piercing glance at him and then picked up one of the cherries on the plate and tossed it into her mouth to swallow it. He raised an eyebrow in surprise and stared at her lips, which were moving as she chewed, as if trying to see through them.

“Are you happy now? Okay, now give me your hand.”

Only then did Taegyeom obediently extend his hand. Leeseo brought his hand close to her knee.

His hands were very large and firm, as she’d learned from tending to his wounds. His fingers were long and straight, his knuckles thick, and the veins on the back of his hands were red. And despite his less-than-ideal personality, his hand felt incredibly warm.

As she removed the bandage she had applied to the wounded area, Leeseo said,

“You’d be better sooner if you hadn’t been drinking.”

When she glanced up, their eyes met directly. Kwon Taegyeom was now looking into her eyes. Leeseo swallowed dryly, feeling the tightness in her throat.

“Forget it. I told you, I can’t sleep without alcohol, sex, or both.”

Another strange remark again.

Leeseo arched her eyebrow. Unconcerned by her reaction, Taegyeom whispered casually.

“Don’t nag me unless you’re going to put me to sleep.”

“If you’re that insomniac, maybe you should go to the hospital…….”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital.”

“Why not?”

“Do I need a reason for not wanting to go?”

He said languidly, holding a cherry in front of her mouth again. Her lips opened hesitantly. Suddenly, a large, firm piece of cherry entered her mouth, pushing past her tongue.

In disbelief, she stared at him with the cherry still in her mouth. Taegyeom casually drank from his glass and said.

“Do it while you eat.”

She couldn’t spit out what had already been in her mouth, so she bit into the fruit and the sweet flavor spread. Surprisingly, it was a seedless cherry.

As she savored the juicy fruit on her tongue, Leeseo looked down again and finished disinfecting his wound. The wound had healed well enough that she didn’t need to apply a bandage.

Though she had pointed out alcohol earlier, his recovery was nothing short of monstrous. An ordinary person would have suffered for days.

At this rate, it seemed that she no longer needed to come to the annex to treat his wounds. Thinking this, Leeseo gently applied ointment over the wound.

His large palm suddenly twitched. The man who hadn’t even blinked when she poured antiseptic onto the open wound now twitched.

“……Does it hurt?”

Leeseo looked up in surprise. Taegyeom was staring at her with an unfamiliar expression on his face. After briefly freezing in place, his normally fine lips slowly parted, and he uttered a bewildering statement.

“Is this really healing properly? Why does it seem to be hurting more and more? Did you do something weird to my hand?”


Leeseo asked, incredulous that he would be so critical of a wound on a perfectly healing hand.

“What weird thing did I do?”

“Well, that’s something you would probably know.”

As bewilderment and absurdity spread across Leeseo’s face, Taegyeom laughed with satisfaction. Suppressing the boiling rage inside her, she glared at him sharply, but he suddenly reached out.


In an instant, warm heat touched her eyelids, and her vision was blocked. Covering her eyes with his large hand, Taegyeom said.

“By the look in your eyes, I’m guessing you hate me. I don’t know what I did to deserve your hatred.”

His fingers against her eyelids felt warm. Taegyeom’s hand had a refreshing scent. With her vision blocked, her other senses became more heightened. Leeseo unconsciously bit her lower lip.

His intense gaze lingered on her lips. It shouldn’t have been possible to feel anything but oddly, wherever his gaze passed, she felt a tingling sensation. Her mouth went dry. Uncertain of how to react, she simply pursed her lips.


At that moment, Taegyeom chuckled softly. It felt like he was mocking her hesitation. It was as if he was laughing at her agitation. The heat that had been rising and falling in her stomach surged to her cheeks.

She felt embarrassed for showing such a foolish reaction. It was utterly embarrassing that she had needlessly stiffened and tensed herself up.

Leeseo forcefully pushed away his hand covering her eyes and shot Taegyeom a sharp look and it was His eyes darkened. Something swirled wildly in them, pulsing wildly. It was desire. The trembling boundary between desire and restraint was teetering on the edge.

Leeseo realized that Taegyeom was lusting after her now. That he was uncharacteristically enduring it.

But even as he did so, his expression changed, as if to lie. He quickly transformed into a bored and listless face. In the blink of an eye, the air around him turned icy, as if he’d been doused with cold water.

“Why are you getting angry when I’m complimentng you? I don’t understand.”

Returning to his original expressionless demeanor, he muttered dully. Then, in a leisurely manner, he rested his chin on his hand and said.

“If you’re done, you can leave.”


His calm tone carried indifference. Leeseo felt dumbfounded. She felt uncomfortable and awkward. Leaving her in this state, he absentmindedly picked up his phone as if looking for a new toy.

He didn’t say another word until she finished packing the first-aid kit and left the annex. The cold air brushed against her heated cheeks.

On her way out of the annex, Leeseo saw his friends. She wasn’t sure if she should call them his friends or not, but it was clear that they were guests invited by Taegyeom.

They entered the courtyard of the annex, mingling together, laughing, whispering, poking and  touching each other, just as he had done to her.

Her thoughts wandered too far. She wondered if he does that to other women, too. He was a man with a tumultuous personal life, so it was only natural, right?

Just for fun, like he did with me…

When her thoughts had gotten that far, she turned away, startled by her own thoughts, and ran out of the annex.

After that, Leeseo never visited the annex again. The wound on his hand was nearly healed by his monstrous recovery rate, and she had no reason to go there anymore.

A couple of times, the number stored in his name called her, but she didn’t pick up. After that, Kwon Taegyeom stopped looking for her, which was expected.


* * *


The season was transitioning into full summer. The days were getting longer, and the sounds of cicadas grew louder. The annex were lit up more extravagantly and loudly with each passing day, as if to mourn the relatively shortened nights.

“The whole mansion is quiet now that the main house is empty. How long has it been since it was this quiet? Probably since the chairman returned from the hospital, right?”

Mrs. Seo said as she transferred the bread that had popped out of the toaster to a plate. The staff of the mansion sat around the dining room table in the guest wing, chatting amicably.

Leeseo poured freshly brewed coffee into the lined-up coffee cups. Ms. Yoon, who oversaw the main housekeeping, joined them, and nodded in agreement with Mrs. Seo.

“That’s right. The doctor specifically advised against long-distance trips, given the uncertainty of what might happen. I heard this trip was special because the doctor himself accompanied them.”

The Kwon family had temporarily left for a trip to celebrate Mrs. Shin’s birthday, which gave the staff some much needed free-time. Starting from Friday, Chairman Kwon, Lady Shin, and Jin-gyeom greeted by the staff early in the morning before departing for the airport, would spend the entire weekend at their villa in Namhae.

The Kwon family, which owns several villas in scenic spots around the country, including the Namhae, as well as in famous vacation spots overseas, often takes weekends away from the mansion to visit them.  This was the first time in a while that the entire main house had been vacated, after Chairman Kwon recovered from stroke.

“Come to think of it, the chairman is a bit of a romantic. He goes on overseas trips as birthday gifts for the Madam. Every year, he surprises her with presents that cost a fortune. Even though this time, it’s an unplanned trip because of the chairman’s situation, I think he wanted to go all the way to Namhae to make it up to her.”

After bidding farewell to the Kwon family, who had left for their trip in the morning, some of the staff members had gone straight home, while a few had stayed behind to enjoy some idle time and chat.

“Why, last year around this time, the two of them were traveling around Europe for a month. They said it was for the chairman’s business trip, but it was mostly to buy the jewelry that was auctioned off in the UK as a birthday gift for the Madam.”


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