Yeonseo was both relieved and incredulous that what had been so difficult for Taeheon had been so easy for her.
“How…? How did you manage to do this?”
“It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s not that hard. Do you have anything else to clean up?”
Taeheon knew that Yeonseo’s casual tone of asking if there was anything else to clean up was not a joke, so he felt relieved. A little later, Yeonseo fidgeted with her hands.
“Uh, they said some people suffered because of me.”
“What kind of suffering?”
“According to Manager Woo Seungbin, some of the people I reported to Director Woo were punished.”
Taeheon smirked as she said what had been bothering her the whole time.
“Why would that be your fault? The problem is those who got into trouble because they lacked the ability.”
“If you go any further, it might become an issue of excessive guilt.”
“Really, you think so?”
“How can I reassure you? Should I bring Woo Seungbin and have him admit it was all nonsense?”
Yeonseo’s eyes widened. Her heart was pounding heavily. But Taeheon’s casual way of saying outrageous things didn’t scare her this time.
It would be a lie to say she wasn’t scared at all, but having such a scary person on her side was making her feel more and more secure. Afraid that her inner thoughts might be exposed, she lowered her eyelashes.
“No, and I plan to tell the Mrs. Kang the truth. That I did that…”
“If it makes you feel better.”
“If I leave, won’t Mrs. Kang be stressed out…? You almost threatened me with that. This situation could be a shock to her. Are you okay with that?”
“If you want to provoke, what can I say.”
“Didn’t I tell you that I’ve been attracted to you since the beginning?”
Then from then on, did he…… feel that way? No, no, no. That’s impossible.
Yeonseo shook her head lightly. Taeheon appeared unfazed, but she hesitated, feeling like she was boiling inside and then sinking into uncertainty, so she swallowed her question.
“I’ve taken care of the 300 million that Seungbin paid back, and the existing debt will be settled later today.”
Taeheon’s offer of help had included Yeonseo’s debt. She had foolishly forgotten about it while and she’d been so focused on the other side of their relationship.
Not to hurt her pride, not to grieve the day he abandoned her. She’d been thinking about those things the entire time she’d been in his arms, and she’d forgotten about her debt.
“Thank you. But please leave the debt that hasn’t been paid yet.”
“Don’t be so stubborn. It’s too much for you to pay back.”
“No, please leave that at least. It’ll make it a bit less painful for me to be by your side.”
Taeheon lowered the documents slightly.
“It would so shameless of me. I’ll return even the 50 million won you gave me. You repaid the substantial amount of 300 million won, so it’s only right to return it.”
Taeheon tugged at his tie a little. His pupils held a chilling aura as he stared directly at Yeonseo. His sharpness seemed particularly keen today. Looking at his expression, Yeonseo cautiously asked,
“By any chance… you don’t like someone with debt, do you?”
“You’re the one who doesn’t want me to help you.”
“And… please never mention a bonus again. If you’re going to give it to me, give it as much as you’d give to a real lover.”
Somewhere, the sound of a ticking clock seemed to echo. Tick-tock. Time was passing, and Yeonseo felt like she was frozen in it.
Taeheon was the first to break the silence.
“How about becoming my personal secretary?”
“Yeah. I need someone to handle my personal matters, not just Secretary Shin. Someone to assist with administrative tasks and help out at the Yongin house. Bringing Secretary Shin to the Yongin house would just inconvenience my grandmother.”
Tick-tock. Yeonseo, who had been sorting documents and placing them in a file, awkwardly raised the corners of her mouth.
“You’re going to give me money in return, right?”
“If you’re backing off to this extent, you should be willing to compromise too. You seem to want to pay off your debts on your own, so I’m giving you a chance.”
“But I’m not a secretary, Mr. Taeheon.”
“If you don’t want to do this, I’ll do it my way, which is obviously far from what you want.”
Perhaps if she refused, the man who seemed to tighten the shackles on her even further by wiping out all of Yeonseo’s remaining debt would only become more resolute. The more she refused, the smaller she would become. His absence would loom larger.
“You just need to handle administrative tasks. It’s nothing important, so you won’t have to shoulder any heavy burdens.”
As Taeheon said, it probably wouldn’t be anything significant. It would likely be unrelated to company work. And in return, she would receive additional compensation from him.
Though she did so reluctantly, choosing to nod her head was better than Taeheon paying off all her remaining debt. With no real choice, Yeonseo agreed.
“I’ll do it, then, Director Woo and Mr. Seungbin, tell me how you worked it out.”
Taeheon looked like he didn’t want to talk about it, but Yeonseo didn’t want to pretend he didn’t know.
“Woo Seungbin is going to take charge of a branch office overseas.”
“You’re transferring him?”
“Yeah. Woo Seungbin don’t have anything particular going on. I had to tell him to keep his hands off you since you’re my lover.”
With a swallowed breath, Yeonseo asked.
“…Did you say just ‘lover’?”
“Didn’t you want me too? You’ve been saying ‘lover, lover’ like a parrot.”
“It’s not that, it’s just that I’m not ready to tell anyone yet…….”
Yeonseo wrapped her arms around herself as she lost herself in thought.
It had been so easy for him, hadn’t it?
But doubts lingered around her about how it could be resolved so easily.
“Do I need to explain it further?”
Taeheon asked, and Yeonseo shook her head. If it’s resolved, then it’s resolved. She didn’t want to dwell on it.
All that remained was to confess her sins to Mrs. Kang and ask for her forgiveness.
“Can I ask one thing, though?”
Taeheon’s pupils flickered darkly.
She had intended to ask if he could just hold her for a moment, to stop looking at her so businesslike, considering they had spent the night together. But her words wouldn’t come out.
Instead, she got up on her knees and slowly approached him, wrapping her arms around his waist and leaning her face into his. The process felt like it took centuries. Yeonseo steadied her shaky breathing.
“Since we’re lovers, I can do this, right?”
“You have modest desires.”
Taeheon’s voice was soothing, Yeonseo relaxed a little.
“When that happens, you should ask for more.”
Yeonseo looked up at him, still. She rested her chin on his chest and locked eyes with him.
Even though she had mentally prepared herself, the coldness in Taeheon’s eyes, tainted by his heartless nature, froze her courage.
Still, she was satisfied that Taeheon didn’t push her away. Yeonseo smiled weakly.
It felt better now that she’d accepted her fate. Regretting it now would only bring more pain, so she decided to go with the flow. She would do her best to live in the moment, and as always, be grateful for the time she had.
She thought that perhaps if Taeheon had left the hotel this morning, she would have tried not to remember their one-time, short-lived beginning for as long as possible. But Taeheon was here with her now. He looked busy, but he didn’t even bother to go to work.
She found happiness in such little things.
“Are you very busy?”
“It’s always about the same.”
Yeonseo glanced at the papers, feeling guilty for keeping someone so busy. It was a futile attempt to provide some work, considering he was already bringing work with him.
“If it’s because of me, you can go to work first.”
“You’re saying things you don’t really mean.”
“How did you know?”
Taeheon shifted uncomfortably and reached out to pick up the papers. He didn’t bother to shake off the vine-like curl of Yeonseo’s hair.
With mixed emotions of wanting to cry but also wanting to smile, Yeonseo turned her head toward the sunlight streaming in through the window. It was not a bad start, and it was morning.
Compared to the worst-case scenarios she had considered, such ordinary days like this felt like gifts. Taeheon remained close to her waist in a still posture until their meal arrived.
The meal proceeded quietly. Yeonseo was engrossed in eating, but every once in a while, she’d glance over at Taeheon.
The harsh words and stern gaze that Yeonseo had worried about did not return. She wondered if Taeheon would be more forgiving if she didn’t go against his wishes.
Yeonseo discreetly placed a piece of broccoli, which she didn’t like, on Taeheon’s plate. It made her heart race since she was testing his stubbornness
Taeheon glanced at Yeonseo briefly and then wiped his mouth. He put down his utensils and took a sip of water.
Had I done something to ruin his appetite?
As she brushed her teeth, Yeonseo couldn’t help but ponder on Taeheon’s attitude.
Regardless, she had to wash up now and return to Yongin. Even though she had spoken to Ms. Kang on the phone earlier, she still felt uncomfortable.
Yeonseo undressed with the intention of taking a shower. Looking at her reddened skin in the mirror, Yeonseo’s sighed again.
How could someone bite someone like this?
The red marks covered her white skin like petals or bruises. She swallowed hard at the occasional glimpse of bite marks.
The more he held back, the more he exploded. The night before had taught her that he was a different man in bed than he was out, and she blushed again.
Yeonseo traced a finger over the mark and frowned.
Could I even take a shower now?
She no longer felt confident enough to stand under the showerhead, letting the water stream down on her so nonchalantly.
Knock, knock, knock.
Startled by the knocking, Yeonseo turned around nervously.
“I’ll come in.”
“Wait, just a moment…!”
Her response was unnecessary from the beginning. Taeheon stepped into the bathroom before she could finish her sentence. She awkwardly covered herself and looked at him with a distressed expression.
“I didn’t tell you to come in. You can’t just barge in like this.”
“I have seen every inch of your body, dear.”
“That’s one thing, and this is another.”
Taeheon looked at Yeonseo indifferently, and she blushed with embarrassment, unable to find a place to look away.
Taeheon strode into the bathroom with his hands shoved in his pants pockets. As he said, he had already seen her nakedness before, but it felt different to expose herself like this in a well-lit space.