Los Angeles, CA
October 27, 2016
Ilana's alarm resounded in her home office. Jihoo would be pulling into the driveway any second now. As customary, Nana and Jesse were getting dinner ready to serve and Ilana quickly got up from her seat to pluck HaEun from the floor. "Beba (Baby girl)! ¡Ya va llegar Appa, vente (Come, Daddy will be here soon)!" At five and a half months, HaEun was rolling and scooting herself all over the house. Ilana's office was also HaEun's office. On the floor was a Little Einstein's baby gym mat, she had a chair and her own toy phone and computer, next to Umma's desk, and also a blanket with various toys, that were changed out every week to avoid the princess getting bored. They had purchased a labyrinth of mesh tubes and tents to give her a safe place to play when she began to crawl but thankfully they weren't at that stage yet. All in all, Ilana and HaEun went downstairs happily to work every day
- "Pa-pa-pa-pa," HaEun said once Ilana picked her up.
- "Is our princess having fun?" Ilana gave her cute little nose a kiss. "Vente, mi amor(Come, my love). Vamos a recibir Appa (Let's go greet daddy)."
- "Pa-pa-pa-pa," HaEun vocalized again. She hadn't quite mastered the 'm' sound for ma-ma yet. Even if at this stage, it was just a sound, not quite meaning 'daddy'. Jihoo couldn't be any prouder of his little princess regardless if she meant it or not.
Jihoo was running late, they had a few last minute patients and a Doctor never turned away a patient. Even if they arrived one minute before closing. He had a quick detour to make and then he'd be home. His girls would be waiting for him when he arrived.
Parking in the back of the florist shop, he ran in. He'd be home in less than ten minutes.
- "Hello, Dr. Yoon! You're running late today."
- "Yes, Miss Arreguin, we had a last minute patient." The shop owner already had the receipt ready for him to sign. "Thank you, Miss Arreguin, I'll see you soon."
- "Say hello to your wife for me!" She called after him. "His wife must be so lucky," she thought. The Doctor came in at least every other week for a single burgundy rose. She always had some on stock just for him. Other times he'd buy more than just the single, but usually, it was just that.
Ilana and HaEun sat on the porch, waiting impatiently for 'Appa' to arrive. "Beba, Appa is late. Eottoke? Should we play 'ten little piggies'?" Ilana bounced HaEun gently on her knee. She was a delicate little thing and didn't like to be jostled to roughly."Okay...this little piggy went to the market...this little piggy stayed home..." By the time Ilana got to 'This little piggy went we…we…we, all the way home', Jihoo pulled into the driveway to see both his girls giggling. Ilana ceased tickling her daughter as soon as the 1967 Austin Heely had stopped. "Appa!"
Jihoo stepped out of the car, throwing his medical bag on his shoulder and his briefcase in one hand, the rose in the other. "Sarang! Gongju!"He gave his wife a kiss, then his daughter.
- "Annyeong hasseyo, Appa!" Ilana said, for HaEun. "Sarang is late,"she mock pouted. "Last minute patient?"
- "Deh..., this is for nae Sarang. Did you wait long?"
- "Gwenchana,"Ilana admired the rose's fragrance with a very happy smile on her face. A hundred burgundy roses wouldn't make her as happy as a single rose every couple of weeks. Even if it was only once a month, it would still make her deliriously happy. "Gomawo...," she stood on her toes to give her husband a quick kiss. Ilana placed the rose under her daughter's nose. "HaEun-ah, see what Appa brought us? Doesn't it smell nice?" HaEun was already grabbing the baby's breath surrounding the rose. "No... no... Beba, it has ouchies on it." She didn't want HaEun to accidentally prick herself on the thorns.
- "Na will trade Sarang my briefcase for Gongju." He held his free hand out and sure enough, HaEun eagerly made a lunge for it. Jihoo either changed clothes or showered at the hospital, otherwise, he did not get too close to either Ilana or HaEun.
- "Ay! Beba, you're going to fall. Paboya. Okay, one kiss for Mama and then your free to go with Appa," Ilana handed her off with a noisy kiss and then picked up Jihoo's briefcase.
- "Ah, Gongju...jal jinasseo?"
- "Jaljinaseyo, Appa," Ilana answered. "She was vocalizing a lot today."
- "Deh gongju?" Jihoo asked his baby girl.
Nana had come out to greet Jihoo, she took the briefcase from Ilana and the rose. "Solo me digan cuando quieran cenar (Just tell me when you want to have dinner). Ya está la comida lista (The food is ready). ¿Niña, te pongo la rosa en la oficina (Should I place the rose in the office)?"
- "Si (yes)...," Ilana hesitated wondering if the rose should be in their bedroom, but she spent more time in the office than their room."En quince minutos ya podemos cenar (In fifteen minutes we can eat)."
- "Pa-pa-pa-pa,"HaEun babbled.
- "Na think gongju is very smart and not just babbling,"said the proud 'papa'.
- "Mollah!" Ilana laughed at the proud daddy."Just because she hasn't mastered the 'm' sound. Sarang, I swear she says 'gata (Spanish for cat)' loud and clear."
Jihoo laughed, "deh, that's because Nana scolds Joy all the time when she gets in the kitchen cabinets and anytime anyone opens the refrigerator." The cat immediately ran to see if there were any treats for her.
- "Joy is starting to not like her dongsaeng as much as she used to."
- "Deh, na wouldn't think she does. Gongju is taking all Umma's time, deh?"
- "Joy does like HaEun's play mat. If Joy isn't more careful, HaEun will think she's one of her toys and maybe even pull her tail."
- "HaEun-ah needs to play nice with goyangi; you don't want to get scratched."
- "That's what I keep telling her," Ilana tickled HaEun's baby foot.
Over dinner, HaEun sat in her Highchair with an empty plate and spoon to play with. She usually had her solids at breakfast time. Ilana wouldn't nurse her again until just before bedtime. "I'll have to stay up late and work on the reports for the foundation,"Jihoo said.
- "Mina will be taking the invitations to the printer tomorrow...I mean today." The time difference sometimes tripped her brain. Jihoo had given ILC group the job of designing the posters and other marketing materials for this year's Gala. If he was going to pay someone, he might as well pay his wife.
- "Choah, if she needs anything she knows to contact Kim KyuJong or Ryu HyunSu Uissa. Harabeoji is already making phone calls and networking on his end." Harabeoji had just left them a few weeks ago. Almost as soon as the Gala ended for one year, they were already planning the next year's event. with two months before the event, it was crunch time and everyone was busy. Except for JanDi who was firmly told to enjoy her maternity leave and was not allowed back at work for another month.
- "Mmm..., Brendon, you're gone for a race this weekend, right?"
- "Yes, sorry I won't be able to help with the Harvest festival at your Church."Every year the Church put on a mini festival for the kids at Halloween, so they come and get their candy in a safe environment and instead of scary news, they are given the good news that Jesus loves them and he died for them and resurrected so they could join him in heaven one day.
ILC donated building materials so they could build booths and Ilana designed a new layout. "Brendon is running out of town as fast as he can to avoid helping." like most places, there could never be enough 'Man' power at the Church. Ilana usually roped Brendon and sometimes JungMin into helping.
Brendon laughed. Most of his salary came from Ilana, the rest from ILC. He was on call almost twenty-four-seven, she dragged him places he didn't want to go, often treating him as her assistant more than just a driver, before her marriage, she drove him crazy with worry, but he would never trade this job or this family for anything in the world. He was the envy of all his friends. He never disclosed that which shouldn't be disclosed but even generally speaking no one could compete with his job. "Dr. Jihoo is a better assistant, than me."
Jihoo shrugged, "The faster Na help her, the faster na get her back."
Brendon rolled his eyes, he'd be glad to be away from the overdosing sugar for a few days. Adrenaline, motor talk, celebratory drinks and just hanging out with the guys awaited him. Actually, there was a new member of the circle, but even though she was female, everyone treated her like one of the guys. She was laid back and knew as much about cars as everyone else did. "Speaking of a sugar overdose, I can't believe Mr. Park is willingly going to Seoul without his wife?"
- "It's a necessity; Mina has barely touched her vacation hours since she came to Seoul. It's been a year since she's seen her parents. I'm sure she's homesick by now."
- "He's excited about your CD for the Gala."
- "Deh, he was going to work on getting our CD packaged in Seoul while he's there for the two weeks." Jihoo, Ilana and even HaEun and Joy had worked hard the last few weeks, rehearsing the pieces that were going on the CD. Joy and HaEun hung out with them in the music room, while they played. HaEun had shown an appreciation for classical music; of course, Appa always had classical music playing when he was relaxing or working. Umma snuck in a little bit of Heo YoungSaeng and Kim HyunJoong while Appa was at work.
- "We've already told Suzy-ssi to stay in the house with us, while he's away. It's different now that she's pregnant." Jihoo took his role as the head of the household very seriously. JungMin and Suzy even fell under his protection at times.
- "That will be better; there's no need for her to be alone when she can stay here."
- "Suzy won't stay here for nine days. Ara Sarang just wants to make sure she's safe, hajiman she won't budge." Ilana knew from when Jihoo went away for the week to Haiti all she wanted was to be wrapped up in scent. Suzy, she imagined would want the same. She'll come and visit every night, but then she'll want to go home to be with JungMin's essence.
- "Good luck, Dr. Jihoo, these women are very stubborn." He ignored Ilana's rolling her eyes and stood. "Nana, deja juntar mis cosas para mañana y luego vamos por una vuelta [Nana, let me gather my things for tomorrow and then go for a stroll (Literal translation of 'Vuelta' is turn)].
- "No te preocupes, descansa (Don't worry, rest)."
- "Luego me va decir que soy flojo (Then you'll tell me I'm lazy)!"Brendon usually accompanied Nana on an evening stroll if he wasn't doing anything or he went to the gym with Jihoo or JungMin.
- "Si, Nana, descansa (Yes, Nana, rest). Acuerda que yo limpio la cocina (Remember that I'll clean the kitchen)." Provided they had nothing pressing to do, Ilana usually kicked Nana out of the kitchen and cleaned up after dinner. Nana wasn't happy about it all.
- "Niña, para que se preocupa, aquí estoy yo (Child, why do you worry, I'm here)."
- "No me voy a quebrar por lavar unos trastes (I'm not going to break for washing a few dishes)."
- "Sí, pero mis trastes si (Yes, but my dishes will)!"Ilana had a bit of a clumsy streak at times, usually when she was rushing.
Jihoo covered up a chuckle by clearing his throat. Brendon, who didn't fear his employer, had no qualms about laughing out loud. "Yah!" Ilana scolded the two. "Well, I have to pack, good night." Brendon ran off before he could get yelled at.
- "Jaljayo," Jihoo replied with a grin. Avoiding his own scolding, he turned his attention to his daughter. "Gongju should try some asparagus," He offered HaEun a taste of the soft tip.
- "Na have never broken any dishes," Ilana began to pick up the table.
- "Ara, Sarang." Not making eye contact with his wife, Jihoo instead, smiled at the faces his daughter was making. "Choah?" Ilana stuck her tongue out at her husband's teasing and took her dirty dishes to the kitchen. Laughing, Jihoo offered HaEun more asparagus. "Umma always works hard. She is just fun to tease. it's not Umma's fault Halmoni raised her to be a gentlewoman. Her only responsibilities were her studies so she could follow well in Abeojim's footsteps, employ trustful servants to take care of the house, and of course, to marry a prince and live happily ever after."
- "Aigoo...Na joegum gongju is nomu gwiyiwiyo." Jihoo gave the top of her head a kiss.
- "Umma and HaEun-ah are gifts from Yesu. Appa can never thank him enough. Kaja, let's take our dishes to Umma."HaEun's high ticket highchair was worth every penny thanks to its multi-position seat and wheels. Ilana had fixed the wheels so that they weren't so stiff.
With a little maneuvering, Jihoo took HaEun and the chair to the kitchen and then quickly returned for his own dishes.
Ilana continued wiping down the sink and counter pretending not to hear them. Jihoo placed his dishes in the sink and then wrapped his arm around her waist. Having thrown her hair in a ponytail, he gave her beautifully exposed neck a kiss. Ilana smiled and sunk into his embrace. "Na have to work on next year's budget and WebEx if na will be helping Sarang with the harvest festival."
Ilana frowned. That meant he wouldn't start until HaEun's bedtime and Ilana would be going to bed alone. "Na can help," she turned in his arms to face him.
- "Sarang should rest."
- "Jaega Hoejangnim (Chairman)'s official admin, it is my duty to take care of him."She began to tease his second button; the top was already undone.
- "Deh," Ilana successfully undid the button and slid her hands along his neck, applying gentle pressure as she went.
His wife's touch felt wonderful."Deh, na admin is very skilled. Naega fortunate to have her services day and night." He wasn't exaggerating. He was blessed beyond measure in his wife. While in California, he didn't ask her or expect her to take on any domestic duties. She did it for him as away of taking care of his needs and that of the household. She took care that his shirts were laundered at the cleaners and that the rest of his laundry was clean. She helped Nana in the kitchen since Nana had taken care of her needs all these years, Ilana thought it was time to repay her in some way. Nana didn't like it at all. Between Jesse and Ilana, Nana's duties were less than half of what they used to be. Ilana did give her HaEun for about two hours a day, that somewhat made up for it. His wife was a rare treasure. He was sure Ha JaeKyung had never picked up a broom in her life, but his wife did it out of love for those around her. She worked hard all day and still took care of their daughter, him, and even Nana. "Eottoke,"Jihoo got closer to his wife. "Nae admin sarang."
- "Oh? What will your anae say?" Ilana was close to bursting out in giggles. She didn't know how he could say these things with a straight face.
- "Ah, she is very understanding. Na admin and nae anae are one in the same. Na can take advantage of nae admin all I want." Jihoo closed the gap, pressed his wife up against the counter and stopped her giggles with a kiss that would steal her breath away.
- "Pa...pa! pa...pa!"
The kiss was ruined, Ilana burst out laughing at their daughter's convenient babbling. Even Jihoo was now grinning. Ilana strode passed her husband, who pretended to be upset. "Beba, estas celosa (Baby girl, are you jealous)?" Ilana took her out of her high chair and planted a kiss on a rosy cheek. "Appa is ignoring gongju?"
- "Pa...pa...pa...pa...pa," HaEun went on gurgling and grunting her response.
- "De veras (Really)?" Ilana was used to talking to her all day long as she worked and read to her every night before bedtime. "Cuando vas a decir 'Ma-ma', ma-ma' (When will you say 'Ma-ma')," Ilana moved her mouth exaggeratedly, making HaEun laugh.
Jihoo watched the scene with a grin on his face. Walking up to them, he took his baby girl into his arms, stealing her from her Mother. "Yah, HaEun-ah wants bpo bpo?" He gave her a soft kiss on the forehead. "Na thought we had a deal? HaEun-ah is supposed to give me time to give Umma kisses too. Say Um-ma?" HaEun watched in fascination as Appa's mouth moved. "Um-ma...ma-ma...ma-ma...mmm..."
- "Leave her alone, she'll say it when she's ready. It's because we talk about how wonderful Appa is, all day long. ¿Verdad (True)?" This was HaEun's 'Appa' time and Umma ceased to exist until her bedtime feeding. "Ya vete con Appa (Go on with Appa),"Ilana tried to look upset, but then began to laugh."Ay, que bella (Oh, so beautiful)!" She gave HaEun's foot a quick kiss."Go on you two, I'll just sweep up and mop and then I'll join you in the media room."
- "Arraseyo, Umma," Jihoo and HaEun walked out of the kitchen leaving Ilana to finish cleaning up.
In the evenings, Jihoo spent lots of time with his daughter. They listened to classical music, especially violin and piano. Other times, Ilana would watch a drama and they would laugh at their normally calm wife and Mother as she began scolding the TV. Regardless of what evening activity they participated in, Jihoo would pray with his wife and daughter before HaEun's bedtime. On busy evenings, he would fit it in wherever there was a short window.
This evening, Jihoo and HaEun were conducting an orchestra only they could see, while Ilana indulged in a book. Ilana's alarm rang at eight-thirty. It was time for HaEun to get ready for bed."HaEun-ah, it's time for bed. say annyeong hashiminika to Appa."
- "Aigoo, we were just getting to the best part."
- "You two can finish your concert tomorrow." Jihoo handed over HaEun with a kiss and a bit of a struggle. "No pouty face, deh?" Ilana gave HaEun her 'Mom' look. HaEun didn't have meltdowns like many babies did. Her face would just crumble, and she'd start to whimper. "Buenas noches (Good night), Appa. Que Dios te bendiga (May God bless you)."
- "Jalja dtal." Jihoo watched them exit the room. While his wife Nursed HaEun and read to her, he used this quiet time for his conversations with God. He remembered a young lady that came to him today, with asthma and prayed for her."Yesu, may the treatment I prescribed help her go about her daily duties with more ease than she is now. If there's a better way, let me know, juseyo?" During this time, he'd bring every aspect of his day before God and end with his wife and daughter. "Yesu, kansamnida for the blessing of ILC from its elders to its staff, to anae. She's working hard to make up for lost time. Yesu, help her to know her place in the company. Ara you will prepare her for whatever you want her to do. Help us guide our dtal as she grows to know you first and be a light for others. One day she'll have to find her own way as well. Will she decide on ILC, SuAm or go her own way? Only Yesu knows the plans he has for her. Help us not to get in Yesu's way with our human selfishness. In Yesu's name, I pray." He spent the rest of his time reading.
Ilana met up with Jihoo in the office. Since she would never replace her Father's old desk, she purchased a small computer table for one or the other to use. There were times Jihoo and Ilana worked in the office at the same time.
- "Gongju is asleep?" Jihoo looked up from the laptop.
- "Deh...," Ilana didn't like hearing her sad whimpers after she placed HaEun in her crib. She just wanted to sleep in their room with the co-sleeper.
- "It's just for a few hours; when she wakes up hungry, she'll get to come back to our room."
- "Deh..."Ilana pouted."What can I help with?"
- "Sarang should rest, your day is busier than mine."
- "Hoejangnim needs his trusted admin."
- "Nae stubborn admin..."
Ilana bowed to him,"nae will serve Hoejangnim well."
Jihoo laughed, no one really got to see her silly side but him and in truth, it was the same for him. "Hoejangnim needs a kiss, then nae admin can review the expenditures for nae profit-making businesses and see if any revisions need to be made to my business plan for them."
- "Deh, Hoejangnim!" Ilana giggled and bowed again. He had taken the big desk; moving to his side, she kissed his cheek.
This was most definitely not enough, so he grabbed her by the waist and drew her in for the slow and sweet kiss he had wanted in the kitchen."That's better," he said releasing her. "Sarang is a distraction, now get to work. I've emailed you the files to review."
- "Deh Hoejangnim!" Ilana smiled as she sat at her own laptop. How he could keep a straight face when he was being so silly was beyond her comprehension.
A business's budget took more than just one night to complete but Jihoo had already done most of the work. Finalizing the numbers could be done in one or two nights. Ilana had reviewed and made notes to most of the files Jihoo had sent her. It was just a matter of writing up a report on her findings, but she fell asleep before she getting to that point.
Jihoo had begun his report on the not-for-profit side of the SuAm foundation but was having a hard time staying focusing. His eyes were tired. Reclining in the seat, he removed his reading glasses and closed his eyes for just a second. That second didn't last very long. He began to hear their daughter's whimpers, softly at first and then growing in volume, letting her parents know she was soiled and hungry. Rubbing the tiredness from his face, Jihoo looked to see that his wife hadn't moved. She was a sound sleeper and sometimes needed a nudge for her to hear HaEun's cries.
- "Sarang," Jihoo got up from his chair to wake up his wife. This time it didn't take long to wake her.
- "Mmm?" She sat up, also rubbing her eyes. "Mianhae, I fell asleep." It took a few seconds, but she realized HaEun was crying. "Omo! HaEun-ah!" Her body was up and out of the chair rushing upstairs before her brain could catch up.
Jihoo watched to make sure she didn't fall down the stairs and then returned to the office to tidy up.
Seoul, Republic of Korea
October 28, 2016
YoungSaeng sat in the Asiana Business Class lounge at LAX with his TAKE brothers. Their respective managers were off in another corner of the lounge. He'd returned to Japan after Chuseok long enough to release his Japanese album 'Overjoyed' and have a successful fan meet. He'd made a name for himself touring with TAKE, participating in variety shows and the musical. His Korean album was also a hit there. From there he met up with TAKE and some of the other idols for a tour of South America and Mexico. He was amazed again at how many fans already knew his music and recognized him. Another fourteen hours and he'd be home. He hoped for an extended stay. Well, not that extended. Mina and he would be back on the plane, headed back to Los Angeles in a few days. Did he not have work already scheduled for Monday (courtesy of his girlfriend), he could have stayed in Los Angeles and his sweetheart could have come to him. But she promised to be waiting for him at the airport in some sort of disguise. He wouldn't be able to acknowledge her until they disclosed their relationship to all interested parties. At least his parents were on their side.
YoungSaeng hadn't the nerve to bring up his relationship with Mina on his return from the train station. She had already been home for over an hour and he'd still not kept his promise to speak to his parents about their relationship. He knew she was waiting and probably cursing him out for not having done so yet. For a woman who had waited for him to notice her an entire year, she had an impatient streak. It wasn't until after dinner, that YoungSaeng decided to get his Dad on his own. His parents had been baffled up to this point. They thought for sure the two were going to let them know that they were dating. Why else would their son have invited the girl for the weekend?
- "Abeoji, wae don't we have a game of go-stop outside?"
- "Chincha? Adeul knows na always win."
- "Na want to try my luck,"YoungSaeng told his dad.
- "Arraso...YoungSaeng Umma!" His wife was sucked into one of her drama's; it took yelling to break through the fog.
- "Deh!" Her eyes never left the TV screen.
Father and son laughed as they stepped outside. After YoungSaeng lost without even trying, his Father decided to get right to the point. "Adeul hates playing go-stop because na always win. Is there something adeul wanted to talk about?"
- "Anieyo." They began to set up for another game. Before starting their game, YoungSaeng blurted out: "Deh!"
- "Say what you're going to say...why all the fuss?" He saw his son bite his lip, a sure sign that he was nervous.
YoungSaeng stood. "Abeoji...Mina-ssi is nice, deh?"
- "Deh..." Now they were getting somewhere.
- "Look favorably on her, jaebal...Mina choahyo." It was out, he'd said it.
- "I see and what would you do if we don't think the Agassi is right for you?"
YoungSaeng got down on his knees in front of his dad. "Jaebal. Na don't want to see her without your blessing. Mina-ssi is very special to me. If na don't have your blessing, na can't change the way I feel."
- "Adeul, get up," he extended his hand to him. "How long have you two been dating?"
- "Not long, abeoji. I guess you could say, as long as I've been on tour."
- "Na will not oppose this relationship. The Agassi is kind, genuine, and her qualifications speak for themselves. Any parent would be a fool not to approve such a match Hajiman she's a foreigner. Deh, adeul has been exposed to people from around the world. Umma and na chose to raise you outside of the city, hajiman we are not so narrow-minded. People around here, might not look kindly on your choice of yeoja."
- "Abeoji, it's not them na care about. Ara she already feels nervous about her foreign background. If and when we get to discussing marriage, it will be our neighbor's loss for disrespecting Abeoji and Umma. Mina-ssi is yippeun inside and out and that's all the matters for me."
Mr. Heo observed his son. Usually, he was quiet and brooded over things. Even if it was something he truly desired, he never spoke that passionately about it. "Na remember adeul saying another yeoja was special." Not that he didn't trust his son's feelings but before he got his wife worked up about it, he wanted his son to analyze what he felt and was thinking. He knew his son didn't just jump into things without deep consideration, but he brought the girl for them to meet. This wasn't just a girl he took a liking to. It went beyond that.
- "Deh abeoji...she is special and na have hurt her with my silence for the last two years. Ilana-yah is...someone everyone should get to meet. Her life makes you grateful for your own. It's been a while now that na realized the strong feelings na had for her were that of an Oppa. Na desired to see her smile when she wanted to cry and to take care of her. Hajiman the feelings na have for Mina are completely different...and well...not...that noble." He bit his lip embarrassed about having such thoughts in front of his Father.
Mr. Heo frowned for a second, but then began to laugh. "Arraseo...na just wanted to be sure of your feelings toward the yeoja before na break the news to Umma."
YoungSaeng sighed in relief. "Umma won't have a hard time?"
- "Maja, she would rather have an Agassi from our country, our culture hajiman Mina-ssi is a nice yeoja and only a pabo could not see that you both share deep affection for each other."
- "Chinchayo?"YoungSaeng thought they hid it pretty well.
- "Deh! Yah! Adeul wanted to play, let's get back to our game."
- "Deh, Abeoji will see, that this time I'll win!"
The guys snacked on a western breakfast and beer. It was morning in Los Angeles, but the beer and winder were free, so why not indulge a little. They would be leaving for Seoul after noon and most likely sleeping the entire way. Kim DdoKkang grabbed a magazine from the library to kill part of the two hours they were spending at LAX.
- "Yah, YoungSaeng-ah, are you cheating on your yeoja-chingu?" DdoKkang teased his newest dongsaeng.
YoungSaeng's eyes grew the biggest DdoKkang had ever seen them and he began to laugh. "Maja? YoungSaeng-ah looks nervous."
- "Just wait until we meet your Yeoja-chingu..." one of the other guys said.
- "DdoKkhang hyeong, what are you talking about?"
- "Guilty!" DdoKhang handed YoungSaeng the magazine; his gaze softened at the picture of the photoshoot of he and Mina. He'd had no clue when the magazine had been released. It was a few months old. "I'm not saying anything. You guys will ruin everything."
- "Yah...is this your yeoja chingu?" DdoKkang asked, dying of curiosity.
YoungSaeng couldn't help smiling as he stared at the picture. They sent each other selfies all the time, but she looked so adorable in the advertisement pictures. He was almost tempted to kiss the magazine. He cleared his throat. "I'll take this..."YoungSaeng closed the magazine and walked away to the amusement of the others.
- "We better get an introduction when we get home!" DdoKkang, the leader of TAKE, shouted across the room.
- "Yah! YoungSaeng-ssi! What's all the ruckus about?" Eric heard the commotion.
- "Amugeotdoyo (Nothing)!"
- "You boys better not be causing trouble," the TAKE manager, Mok JionYeop, said. "Do I need to speak to DdoKkang about being a responsible Sunbae?"
- "Anieyo! We're just messing around. Naega just going to make a phone call."
- "It's two thirty in the morning, back home," Eric stated.
- "Ah...deh," YoungSaeng bit his lip. "I'm just going to go use the bathroom." He ran off before the two managers could ask him any more questions.
- "What's with him?" JoonYeop asked.
- "He's hiding a yeoja chingu,"Eric laughed. As if he couldn't figure out that YoungSaeng and Mina were dating.
YoungSaeng hid in one of the shower rooms, wearing wearing a dreamy smile. It was the same smile he wore as he worked with her that day. Regardless of the time, he sent her a text.
YoungSaeng: Na jagiya finds me wherever I am. Saranghae.
Mina rolled to her side, facing her phone. The room was dark, except for a green blinking light that suddenly bothered her. Slowly her brain processed this information. Green was YoungSaeng's color. Wasn't it? Sitting up in a hurry, she ended up dropping the phone and had to get out of bed to retrieve it. "This namja...,"she complained with a smile. There was no way her sleepy fingers would be able to text legibly. She was up, anyway.
YoungSaeng was still dreaming of the kiss he'd give his girlfriend once he had her alone and, in his arms, when his phone began to ring. "Yeobosayo? Jagiya is supposed to be sleeping!"
- "Someone woke me up. Wae? Orabeoni is disappointed?"
- "Anieyo! Bogoshipo, na can't wait to see you, later."
- "Deh, JungMin is supposed to arrive Tuesday evening for a day of briefing and then naega free for two weeks. Na wonder what I'll do with all that time?"
- "If we weren't staying at your parents, na could think of a few activities we could engage in."
- "Yah!"Mina felt her body temperature rising at his naughty suggestions.
- "Wae? What is nae yeoja-chingu thinking?" He teased her.
- "Amugeotdoyo (nothing)! Tch! Otter pabo!" He chuckled on the other end. "Where are you?"
- "At our layover at LAX."
- "Ah...na could have told Appa to meet you." That would not be fair to YoungSaeng or her parents but bringing home your boyfriend from another country is a bit awkward.
- "Yah...next time, na will send jagi to my parents, alone."
- "Anieyo!"Mina had enjoyed her time at his family home and his parents treated her well. Thankfully, they were accepting of their relationship and she even had a visit from his Mother a few weeks after, but definitely, her usual nerves of steel buckled around them.
- "Kansamnida, for making time to meet with me,"Mrs. Heo said.
- "Anieyo gwenchanayo! Na should be thanking Eommonim for this visit."
Mrs. Heo smiled at her, she was a sweet young lady. Not her first choice for her son, but her son's choice and she must accept it. "Na wanted a yeoja from the republic for nae son."
Mina looked down at her table and felt the tears stinging. In the end, his Mother wasn't going to accept her. She probably should have stayed quiet but would begin to cry if she did. "Jwosongmnida Eommonim..."Mina's voice shook a bit, she inhaled and then exhaled to keep herself steady. She looked up with pleading eyes, not proud ones."...je can't help je was not born to Korean parents hajiman, I love them and could never change them for any others."
- "Wae adeul?"
- "Mollahyo? Wae anieyo? Je first fell in love with his voice. Someone who sang like an angel had to be someone special, deh? When je got to know YoungSaeng-ssi, he didn't prove me wrong. Je had no hopes that he would see me in the same light. Je wanted to be a good ally or companion for him, at the very least. Hajiman before he left for his tour, Je wanted to know if na should continue with my one-sided feelings or call Umma to find me the first available match."
- "Mina-ssi confessed."
Mina didn't know if this was a bad thing. Despite her own actions, the closet romantic in her still felt it was the man's job to confess. "Je had a tiny hope that maybe...Je wasn't just chingu to him."
Mrs. Heo observed Mina's face, it practically glowed, as she spoke about her son. "Mina-ssi has her own career, how will she support adeul with his?"
- "Haengbohkaeyo that je have been able to be a little part of his success. Je have successfully found his first endorser. Upon his return, he will have his first photoshoot with them. Je want to support him any way je can. Gwenchanayo, je can still have a home-cooked meal and his clothes ironed for him when he comes home. Na can remind him to call Eommonim to say hello and make him visit as often as possible." Her paternal Grandmother always told her to make her husband feel he was special. If she and YoungSaeng ever got to that point, she would be sure to follow her Grandmother's advice.
Mrs. Heo laughed. No, Mina wasn't Korean but did it really matter, as long as the girl cherished and respected her son. "The only promise that Mina-ssi needs to make, is that she'll be good to adeul."
Mina sighed in relief..."Deh Eommonim! Deh! Kansamnida, for giving me this opportunity."
- "Anieyo...just don't let adeul take too long in asking to marry you. Na want grandchildren sooner than later."
They had just begun their relationship, Children or the act that led to children, was nowhere in the picture at the moment. "Deh Eommonim."Mina was sure her face was bright red at the thought of children.
- "Orabeoni will speak to Ilana when we go visit, deh?"Ilana was another one of those awkward visits to be made.
- "Deh, jagiya...na have to make things right with her." How? He wasn't sure. Does he just show up at her door unannounced and say "Mianhae for giving you so much trouble, but now naega dating your V.P."
He was quiet, suddenly, making Mina worry. "Orabeoni?"
- "Jagi, mian...naega suddenly pigonhaeyo. Na will see you later?"
- "Deh, Orabeoni...nadu pigonhaeyo. I will see you soon."
- "Deh, jalja Mina-yang."
- "May Yesu keep you and your chingu safe."
- "Deh, jaljayo. Naega asking your guardian angel to watch over your sleep and only dream of good things."
- "Like Orabeoni?"
- "Deh!" Her laughter on the other line, made his heart smile. "Nomu bogoshipo."
- "Knowing that na will see you soon, makes me miss you more. Naega impatient."
- "Ja (sleep)! Na don't want to see your tired face."
- "Ah, pabo!"
- "Aish! Disrespecting Oraeboni?"
Mina laughed. "It's Oraeboni's fault, naega wide awake now."
- "Ja (sleep) or na won't see you later."
- "In that case, na better sleep. Na can't wait to see you."
- "Nado, jalja. Na will end the call." If he didn't, she would stay on until he did. "Na can hear you breathing..."
- "Orabeoni said he'd end the call first..." Mina was back under her blankets, hugging a stuffed otter, she had recently purchased, and grinning widely.
- "Aish, yeoja pabo...close your eyes..." she did. "Na will kiss you goodnight." While her eyes were closed, imagining his goodnight kiss, he ended the call. She fell asleep still dreaming of the kiss.
Los Angeles, CA
October 31, 2016
The weekend had been a busy one, both Jihoo and Ilana had finished their pre-end of year reports and helped in the building of the new booths for the Harvest festival. Ilana was getting HaEun dressed for the day. The baby Kimono YoungSaeng had sent her seemed to jump out at her. They had purchased a fairy princess costume for HaEun's first Halloween. Ilana had been saving the Kimono for a special occasion and almost forgot about it. "HaEun-ah...maybe we can return your fairy costume and you can wear the Kimono Ajussi sent you." Elijah, the Pastor's son and professional photographer would be at the festival tonight. Perhaps if Ilana asked him ahead of time, he could take a special picture of HaEun in her Kimono. "HaEun-ah, what if we take a picture in your Kimono and send it to the mean Ajussi." Ilana laughed. "Umma, pabo, deh?"HaEun babbled, seeming to agree with her Mom. "Arraso, Beba...we'll wear the fairy costume during the day and then the Kimono tonight."She and Jihoo were just going to wear their carnival masks like they did for Jaejoong's Halloween party a few years back. Ilana had to go to the office for a few hours and HaEun was coming with her. She still didn't drive and truly didn't feel confident about attempting it, so she hired a driver for the day. Brendon was not back from his trip yet.
Once they were seated comfortably in the back seat of the car, Ilana began a conversation with HaEun. "Beba...what should Umma do about Heo Ajussi? He should be back in Seoul, now." She'd been following him on the media sites, but at the same time, it made her sick to come across articles bashing Kim HyunJoong. She tried only to stay on the newly formed Y.E.S. fan website. It had only been up a few weeks. Mina called everyone to make sure they became members. Ilana even purchased a membership for HaEun, Jihoo, Kike, Brendon, Nana & Jesse. Jihoo wasn't too sure he liked the idea but indulged her in supporting her friend. Even though he didn't want her to get hurt if that friend didn't come around.
Ilana looked at her schedule. Most meetings she handled over the phone, via conference call. JungMin was her right-hand man at the office. She would hate to lose him when his songwriting became more of a demand. With JungMin going to the Seoul office for two weeks, she would have to check-in at the office a few days out of the week. "Beba, how about we go back to the office Wednesday and... Fri-day..." She tapped her finger lightly on Thursday, YoungSaeng's birthday."Thursday is Ajussi Heo's birthday. I don't think we can get your picture to him in time."HaEun-ah babbled something resembling a question."Waeyo? Because he lives by Harabeoji and mail takes a long time to get there. Mama doesn't even have his address or phone number. Mama told you he was a mean Ajussi." Ilana listened to HaEun's babble. They had these conversations all day long and HaEun babbled up a storm for Appa every evening. "Deh...Ajussi is not mean. He's very sweet, but Mama hurt his feelings on accident. So, he's been a little shy since then. If HaEun-ah ever talks to him, you can tell him how much Mama misses her special Oppa. Before Appa, he taught Mama how to smile and laugh and what friendship was. Appa taught me how to live, to share my pain with a good friend and what true joy was." Ilana looked in the car seat to see HaEun had fallen asleep. A car ride in her comfy car seat was just begging for a nap. "Deh, take a nap. Beba will need her strength to go trick or treating tonight." Not that HaEun could eat candy yet, but Ilana wanted to see all the Church kids in their cute costumes and pass out candy. In the back of her mind, November third glowed like a neon light. "Give him peace,"Ilana prayed. She neglected to pray for peace for herself and therefore kept getting tormented, not knowing if she should send him a gift and to where. "Beba, we'll have to ask KyuJong Uissa where we can send a gift."
In the afternoon, Suzy and Min waited until the last possible second before letting each other go. "Jagiya should stay at the main house while I'm away."
- "JungMin-ah, Unnie and Hyeongbu already tried that. Na want to stay in our little home. They are just across the yard, a phone call away."
- "Yeah...but Hyeong says Ilana is hard to wake up."
- "Hyeongbu works days, he's there at night and he's a doctor and trained to wake up to the sound of his phone ringing. Ilana is trained to wake up to HaEun's cries. We'll be fine." At that, their boy kicked in reassurance.
Suzy laughed. "Jeogum Mal says he'll take good care of Umma, just like Appa does." Suzy teased her husband's lips with hers.
- "Na wish Na could take Anae with me."
- "Yah...naega always with you."
- "When you return, we'll sit down and give jeogum mal a real name."
- "Na thought Mal was his name?"
- "Yah...Park JungMin will not name nae adeul, Mal." Six months pregnant or not, she could still kick his butt.
He laughed his horsey laugh, "jagi saranghae." He loved to mess with his wife but doing so while she was pregnant was taking risks onto himself.
- "Make sure you give Saengie Oppa the birthday card Na made him. Na didn't want to ask Unnie if she had anything to send him."
- "Deh...if she did, she would have given it to me already."
- "She'll be really hurt if he doesn't talk to her soon."
- "That Otter...na should have named him mule. He's stubborner than Sunbae when he decides on something."
- "Will you try and see HyunJoong Oppa?"
- "Deh..., though I'm supposed to meet with Ha JaeKyung as well. Though it's Mina-ssi's expertise, we plan on screening applicants for the design department. JaeKyung-ssi has a bit of experience and can review portfolios. Since she became one of the investors, she's been a great asset to Ilana. Almost as much as me," the overconfident JungMin said. "Even if she's busy with her own company and supporting her nampyon, she jumps in to help every now and then. It was Ilana's design for Club Eden in New York but she was the one to implement it. She has a good eye and despite being a chaebol, she can negotiate like a one of the ajumma's at the fish market. Her Nampyon and Gu JunPyo-ssi were already getting the construction company at a good price, but she got the seller to drop thirty percent off his asking price. It turned out he didn't really need the money, just didn't have the heart to run the company." He had been going on and on over JaeKyung, he didn't see his wife's eyes narrow and darken.
- "Yeobo..."Suzy's voice was strained and her hand unconsciously began to squeeze JungMin's arm. "How do you know so much about this yeoja?" The brief contact she's had with JaeKyung gave Suzy a good impression of her; she just didn't like her husband jabbering on about another woman. No matter who she may be.
- "Jagi...?" JungMin was suddenly conscious of his wife's python grip on his arm.
-"Park JungMin...answer me..." She never played the jealous wife before, but she'd never been six months pregnant before either.
- "Mwo? Jagi? She's one of the company investors."
- "Hajiman what has Ha JaeKyung to do with you?"
- "Na will be working with her...wae?"
- "Have you worked with her in the past?"
- "Anieyo, just a few emails."
- "Is that all?"
JungMin hissed, his wife's bony fingers were digging into his arm. Not that it was painful, but it wasn't pleasant either. "Jagi! Let go! What's wrong with you?"
- "There's nothing wrong with me!" She dug even harder.
- "Jagi!" He couldn't pry her fingers off without hurting her, so he squeezed her knee in retaliation.
- "Oooh! You! Jerk!" Suzy didn't know what was happening to her, but every scenario that had never crossed her head was suddenly flashing before her. She stood and administered a kick to the shin and ran off. She didn't even care that there were others at the airport.
- "Jagi!" Min limped/ran after her. "Jagi!" Six months pregnant or not, she still walked really fast and Min was still limping from the kick. He did catch up eventually and by then she was in tears. "Jagi...what's wrong? Do I need to tell Ilana I'm not going?"Suzy shook her head 'no'. He wrapped her in a back hug. "Wae?" He felt her shrug. "Wae?" He asked again.
Suzy tried to control her tears. She didn't want him to see her like this before he left. Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him with a smile. "M-mianhae..." her voice shook. "M-mianhae..." it was impossible; she buried her head in his chest and sobbed."Na w-was fine this mo-orning! chincha! B-but you wouldn't shut up and then this-this hor-horrible th-thought p-popped into my head and n-next thing I-I knew I-I w-was g-getting re-really angry...and-and I-I couldn't stop!"
- "Yah...yah..." He stroked her hair as her chest still heaved from her emotional breakdown. "Gwenchana? Tell me not to go, na will call Ilana." This was part of his job but if Ilana chose to fire him, so be it. He could concentrate full-time on his music writing.
Suzy's sobs were quieting as the ridiculousness of her actions started to hit her. Nodding her head, she pulled away from him. "Mianhae...mollah, what came over me. Can I plead temporary insanity?"
JungMin laughed, relieved to have his sweet wife back. "Jagi..." he wrapped her tightly in his arms. "Jagi is daeback. No other yeoja has or can fill nae heart as you do. Jagi is nae entire world. Do you believe me?"
She nodded her head against him. "Mianhae..."
- "Gwenchana. How about...we start looking at names during my time in Seoul you pick a bunch, na will pick a bunch and then we'll rock-paper-scissors for the best one."
Suzy had to laugh...that would be a story to tell their son. "We played rock-paper-scissors until we picked your name." "Arraso!"
He was half-joking but she was laughing and happy again so it was worth it. "Na will start when I get on the plane."
- "Anieyo...get some sleep."
- "Naega super Mal, na don't need sleep."
- "Pabo!" Suzy laughed. "Give everyone hugs for me. Tell Junnie Oppa & KyuJong Oppa saranghae and na can't wait to be in their wedding."
- "Yah! Na will not tell other namja 'saranghae' for you."
Suzy giggled. "Arraso, tell Emily and YiHyun bogoshipo."
- "That's better." He kissed his wife tenderly. He was going to miss those lips and her wonderful curves for the next two weeks. "Naega glad I was able to ravish you last night,"he whispered in her ear.
- "Park JungMin!" Her face flaming, she smacked her husband's chest.
He winked at her unrepentantly. Their lovemaking hadn't slowed down since her pregnancy and her beauty and best body parts were only enhanced by it. "nuh, bohgohshipuhul gguhyah (I will miss you)."
- "Ka! Help Unnie as much as you can before the demand for your songs gets out of control."
- "Deh..." He was currently working on two songs. With the music writing software on his laptop, he could work on them while on the plane, he hoped. "I'll make a lot of money and treat Jagi to anything she wants."
- "Yeobo already treats me to anything na want. Besides, na want to stay close to Unnie and HaEun. Choah our little cottage more than having a fancy apartment in Seoul."
- "What if we have lots of kids? We won't be able to stay in the cottage."
- "Ah...this from the namja that was afraid to have the one! We'll just have Unnie add another story or kick Brendon out of his rooms and give him the cottage."
JungMin laughed, she always had an answer for him. It was like her mind was always one step ahead of his. "Saranghae..."He peppered her face with kisses.
- "Na think you missed a spot right...here." Suzy pointed to a random spot on her face.
- "Aish...now na have to start all over again..."and he did until Suzy was laughing so hard, she couldn't breathe.
JungMin had gone into the business class lounge and brought out a plate of food for them to share and then went back in to get her a cheesecake square and by this time, he needed to go through security or miss the boarding call. "Yeobo, ka..." Suzy's face fell a little. She'd almost forgotten that she was there to say goodbye for two weeks.
- "Na still have time...na want to be stuck out here with you, not in a plane without you."
Her hyper husband hated to wait. "Deh...hajiman...the longer you stay, the more na don't want you to go."
- "Hajimaseyo! Then na don't want to go."
- "Yeobo has to go, it's his job...na will be fine. Na will spend all my free time with Unnie and HaEun or Gloria Unnie and the boys."
JungMin scowled at that idea since Juan Jr. wanted to escort his wife to his school dance. "Just stay at the house with Ilana and Hyeongbu, na don't want you driving all over the place."
- "Yeobo...na already drive all over the place for work." As a midwife, she sometimes attended home births.
- "That's different."
- "Anieyo..." she wrapped her arms around him and then looked up giving him her adoring gaze knowing his ego couldn't resist. "Yeobo can take us on a nice date, somewhere by the coast when he returns and na want to spend the whole weekend there."
- "Ah, chincha?"
- "Deh!" She rubbed her finger along his bottom lip until he nipped at the tip. "Give my greetings to Eommonim and Abeojim."
- "Arraso...jeogum mal, take care of Umma," JungMin pressed gently on the side of her stomach, trying to get a kick out of his son.
Suzy laughed in surprise. "Did you feel that?" At six months pregnant, the baby's kicks were now well felt. JungMin liked to wake him up so that he moved or kicked in response. "Annyeong haseyo, Appa. Na will take care of Umma."
- "Gomawo, adeul,"he finally removed his hand and the gazed at his wife, mischievously. "Now, where's nae goodbye kiss."
- "Ah, nampyon wants a goodbye kiss, too?"
- "You know it...," he didn't give her a chance to reject and covered her lips with his. He devoured her lips as she did his, neither wanting to let go. They were still at it when the alarm went off on his phone. He had to get through security, now. JungMin groaned not wanting to let go of his wife. This was the first time he would be apart from her since the pregnancy.
- "Ka! Unnie will kill you if you miss your flight," Suzy was the first to untangle herself from the kiss, or they would never stop.
- "Jagi, be careful driving home, you'll be in the middle of rush hour traffic."
- "Gwenchana, I'll just take streets and take my time. Hokshina, jeogum mal and I will stop and have dinner along the way."
- "Anieyo...na would rather you go straight home."
- "Yeobo...stop worrying...ka!"
- "One more kiss..."
- "Just a little one."
- "Saranghae!" Min waved as he walked off toward the security entrance.
Suzy waited until she saw the plane departure status. "Adeul, Appa said he didn't want us to stop along the way, hajiman...he never said we couldn't just eat at the airport? Kaja, Umma will treat adeul to a pizza."
Suzy didn't leave the airport until roughly seven P.M. and she and baby were happily satisfied by their organic pear and arugula pizza. As a bonus, much of the traffic had died down and it was smooth sailing all the way back home.
Seoul, Republic of Korea
November 1, 2016
Since YoungSaeng had enough clothes, shoes, and accessories in the things he brought back from his tour, he didn't need to retrieve anything else. Any of his personal things that he didn't take with him, he had stashed at HyungJun's house. The company set him up with a temporary studio within the CI Entertainment offices. YoungSaeng reluctantly agreed as he couldn't say he wanted to stay at his girlfriend's house. Mina disguised herself as a fan and met him at the airport with all his other fans.H & M, like most retailers, start releasing Spring clothing in January. In the meantime, Holiday clothes hit late November; Monday, Mina and YoungSaeng spent most of the day at a fashion shoot. This would be YoungSaeng's first endorsement in South Korea and she was so proud of him. They couldn't utilize Hyung & Hyun studios as H&M had their own fashion photographer. Though HyungJun and his fiancé were mainly portrait photographers, together they had a great eye; there really wasn't any type of photography they couldn't do, given the opportunity.
YoungSaeng slept until Sunday afternoon and Eric showed up with dinner. There would be no seeing his girlfriend until Monday evening after his photoshoot and after she left the office.
An annoying sound was driving him crazy. He still hadn't gotten over his jet lag. Thankfully, he didn't have any schedules for a few weeks. All he had to do was spend time with his girlfriend. He buried his head under the pillow.
Mina reached for her nightstand, stretched and then practically jumped out of bed at the giant lump next to her. "Aish, that sneaky little brat." They had gone out for fried chicken and beer as her boyfriend was going through withdrawals. They returned to her apartment to satisfy another withdrawal.
YoungSaeng had been back for three days and he had yet to kiss his girlfriend. Whenever they were reunited, he wondered how he had survived without her. They talked about everything and anything during dinner. Most Korean fans were respectful and other than staring and giggling, no one approached them until they were leaving. Despite the urge to do the complete opposite, they behaved extremely well, not even holding hands while in the restaurant. They talked about work and made plans for their trip. Perhaps mundane to some people, but when you haven't seen and hardly spoken to your boyfriend or girlfriend in six weeks, everything they say is new and exciting.
Now he was in her bed. Mina sighed; they had gone to sleep in separate rooms; what happened afterward, she didn't know. Was it worth praying not to fall into temptation when they were so bent on sitting or lying or standing on the edge of that cliff? Mina couldn't help blush as the evening began to flash before her. It was only in the forty's outside and perfect for snuggling under a blanket. She should have known she'd be in trouble for changing into her usual after-work garb: long-sleeved tunic and shorts.
- "Yah, Na haven't seen you in six weeks and you now parade around me with those legs?" Mina froze for a second and tried to run back to her room."Hajima!" YoungSaeng flew over the couch and trapped her in his arms.
- "Orabeoni...let me go..."
- "Ani, pay the penalty."
- "What's the penalty?"
Mina kissed his cheek.
- "That's all na deserve after six weeks?"
- "Baby otter," Mina mumbled and walked past him to sit on the couch with a blanket.
- "Disrespectful yeoja...," YoungSaeng plopped himself next to her.
- "Who gave Orabeoni permission to move my furniture around?" He had moved the couch to face the sliding glass door instead of blocking it. He had also started the chimney outside.
- "Nae yeoja-chingu."
- "Did she?"
- "Deh...," he slid next to her and drew her to his chest, stroking her hair. "She said this was a good way to earn a kiss."
- "Hokshina...," she took his hand and laced and unlaced her fingers with his.
her fingers sliding softly through his were giving him an entirely too pleasant a sensation. He brought her hand to his face and then reached for her face, letting his fingers stroke her smooth cheek. "Is nae yeoja-chingu more beautiful?"
- "Trying to flatter a kiss out of me?"
- "Is it working?"
- "Mmm..."her hand found its way to the back of his head and ran her fingers through his hair. Her previous boyfriend didn't like his hair messed with. She didn't know YoungSaeng hated his hair messed with but she was the exception. She deliberately teased his ear as she gently pulled at his hair before raking her fingers down his neck and along the ring of his t-shirt.
YoungSaeng decided she was cruising for trouble and suddenly took hold of her hands, putting them back behind his neck. Mina startled a little and swallowed nervously at the dark look in his eyes. "O-orabeoni?" He inched forward giving her forehead a gentle kiss.
- "Saranghae...bogoshipatso," he didn't give her time to respond as he nuzzled her cheek and then gave it a sweet kiss. He had her anticipating his next move, which was her jawline; he grazed at it with his teeth and then the soft underpart he gave a damp kiss.
To Mina's embarrassment, she let out a contented sigh making a triumphant smirk appear on his face. He lowered her back gently onto a throw pillow, how it had come to be conveniently in that location, Mina didn't know or care. She just wanted his lips on hers. "Orabeoni!"
- "Patience..." He traced her parted lips. It took all his restraint not to devour every inch of her, right that second. He did promise only to get them singed and he intended to get a good second-degree burn tonight. Watching her chest rise and fall in nervous anticipation, he waited at least another minute to finally make contact with her lips. Taunting her, he tenderly caressed her lips with his. Her fingers began embedding themselves in his hair, urging him to go deeper.
They had started off innocently enough. He toyed with her lips and gave gentle nibbles to her neck and then back to her lips. That didn't last very long. He soon gave her the desire of her heart for the kisses she had longed for. The ones that made her lose her head, just to feel his lips on hers or her tongue dancing with his.
Mina continued staring at the sleeping angel beside her and wondered if kisses were addicting because she couldn't get enough of his. Thank God for his perfect timing, she thought.
Mina had been stretched out lengthwise against him (half on top of him); their legs perfectly intertwined. She didn't know when her hands had found their way under his shirt, slowly inching it upward. She was also oblivious to his hands on her bare skin under her sweater. It was debatable how much YoungSaeng knew what he was doing. Chances were he knew exactly what he was doing. He had unhooked the back of her bra and was enjoying the feel of her skin under his hands unhampered by the barrier. With God's perfect timing, YoungSaeng's phone rang loudly. The two guilty lovers sprang apart startled.
The caller turned out to be his manager checking to see if YoungSaeng needed anything. When he replied that he was out with a friend, Eric responded: "Be discreet," and ended the call. Eric could guess who YoungSaeng's friend was. Those two thought they had him fooled, but in his late thirties, he knew very well the look of intense desire on a man's face when in love with a beautiful woman.
Mina had run and shut herself in her room, face burning. YoungSaeng thought that was probably for the best. Had she been the one under him, he didn't think things would have ended as innocently. "Jagiya, jalja. Saranghae."
- "Saranghae," she called back, still trying to get control over herself. "Lead me not into temptation...lead me not into temptation..." she repeated the prayer a few times, trying to fortify her weak flesh. "But those kisses..." she hugged a pillow, squealing and alternately cursing the man who turned her into a lovesick teenager with raging hormones.
Deciding it was time to stop staring at her very handsome boyfriend and get up, she carefully moved to get up out of bed, when he stopped her. "Yah! How do you look exactly like you're sleeping and you're not?"
- "Na was...chincha." He pulled her back to him, trapping her.
- "O-orabeoni...na have to go to work," she squirmed trying to pull out of his grasp.
- "Anieyo...stay with me," he caressed her back, softly as he had pulled her head into his chest. He couldn't help smile as he remembered the feel of her naked back under his hands. "Jagiya...stay with me and we'll repeat our kisses from last night."
- "Anieyo!" She was still recovering from last night's 'burn' marks and not wanting to get burnt again began pushing him with all her strength.
He laughed and held her even tighter. "A little longer, deh? Na think I haven't recovered from the jet lag. Na had trouble sleeping until I came in here. Jagi is the perfect temperature."
- "Chincha? The trouble sleeping part...not the other,"she specified.
- "Oh...na kept thinking something."
- "Anieyo...never mind." He gave her forehead a kiss. "Go to work and make lots of money."
- "Pabo...you have to let me go first. Na have to get stuff ready for JungMin tomorrow. JungMin will most likely monopolize Orabeoni and na won't get to see you until your birthday."
- "Deh, Eric-ssi and the coordi's want to have a party, but they know naega leaving for vacation. Na told them Wednesday night. Gwenchana? You'll be getting a call. They want to go to a Noreabang."
Mina rolled her eyes. "Arraso," then she pouted. "We'll have to meet there separately. JungMin and I can drive over together. He can tell me embarrassing secrets about you."
Mina ran off the bed and grabbed her work clothes, thankful she had laid them all out the night before. As if she wasn't already late for work, the goodbye kisses made her even more so. Explaining why she was permanently flushed on her arrival at the office was another story.
Los Angeles, CA
The alarm clock, also known as HaEun, rang at her usual five A.M. Jihoo and Ilana were both tired from playing with the church kids at the festival. They meant to only stay a little while but once the kids got a hold of them, there was no leaving. They pulled Jihoo through the maze and Ilana got pulled into the cakewalk more times than she could count. On other occasions, either she or Jihoo would get dragged on the giant slide or coerced into monitoring it for a few minutes or thirty. HaEun, of course, won at every game booth, she generously turned down the candy offered. They closed out the night and ran to the car as fast as they could. When they arrived home, it took over thirty minutes for Ilana to get ready for bed. Jesse had helped her arrange her long hair with a curling wand and interspersed baby's breath in the coils. It was Jesse's idea; Ilana would never have the patience. She secretly thought it was as much Nana's idea as it was Jesse's. Nana got to watch HaEun for over an hour. In short, it was Jihoo picking the baby's breath and pins out of her hair when they got home. Jesse had put enough hairspray in her hair; it would take adhesive remover instead of shampoo to get it all out. Not that Jihoo minded one bit. He had her seated on the bed in between his legs. He could easily kiss her cheek, graze her arms and tease the hem of her nightgown.
- "Yah...," she scolded.
- "Should I stop?" He softly swept her neck with his fingers and then ran his hands down her arms.
- "Anieyo." Ilana contentedly leaned her head back against his chest. "Sarang still has flowers in her hair."
- "I don't care, this is nice," she positioned his hand at her middle and he took it from there, wrapping both his arms around her and holding her tight.
- "Nomu saranghae,"his voice tickled her ear and made goosebumps appear on her arms. His close proximity still had that effect on her.
- "Prove it..." she moved out from his wonderful arms with a mischievous grin.
- "It's late," he grinned back.
- "Just a little demonstration, I'm not asking for a lot."
- "Yah...who is this mischievous spirit and where is nae anae."
- "It is Halloween after all."
Jihoo had leaned back against the headboard to better observe his wife. His legs were still sprawled open as his wife was now kneeling in between them facing him. "How should na prove nae sarang?" He played along with her.
- "Mollah? Could nampyon hold me...like this?" She slowly stretched herself on top of him and couldn't resist giving his chest a few deliberate and slow kisses before settling down and resting her cheek against him. If anyone asked her (not that she would answer) to name her favorite part of him, she would have to say his chest. His chest was where she could be soothed with the sound of his heartbeat and rhythm of his breathing. His chest encompassed his heart which was hers and it's where she had to be when his arms were around her in comfort, love, and protection from both the physical and non-physical perils.
- "Do na have a choice?" He teased.
- "Anieyo."Ilana ran her fingers along his side and down his arm, always amazed at his rippling muscles. He worked out at least every other day and went for jogs the other days.
His wife's touch was sending messages to his body's center. It was late and HaEun could possibly wake up for her midnight snack soon. "Pigonhaeyo?"
- "Jeogum..." she was asking for trouble as she gave the skin beneath her a damp kiss and then blew on it. Her hands gently roamed over his pecs as she gave them a few more kisses.
Jihoo let her have her way and when she least suspected, trapped her in his arms. "Is this what Sarang wanted...ah?"
He was crushing her against him and she loved every minute of it. giggling she replied: "Deh!" He relaxed his hold on her. "Again! Again!"
- "Arraso..." this time, he wrapped both his arms and legs around her and squeezed. So many times he woke in the middle of the night with her having a squeezing hold on him. Now it was her turn."I can't breathe!"
His wife was having a giggling fit and he squeezed her again. She wasn't claiming to be in any pain and if she passed out, at least he could resuscitate her. "If Sarang can talk, you can still breathe." Of course, his words just made her laugh even more. Worried that she really would pass out on him, he eased up, but still had arms and limbs surrounding her. "Gwenchana?"
- "Mmm," she was able to spit out while still giggling. "Gomawo."
- "Wae?" He grinned.
- "Just because," the giggles began again.
- "Aish, this mischievous spirit that won't leave nae anae alone. Eottoke?"
- "Mollah?" She giggled some more. Ilana thought she must be tired because she wasn't drunk. Fatigue was making her brain woozy...or could it be love? That thought got her going again.
- "Arraso, na must deal severely with this spirit." Before Ilana knew what was happening, Jihoo was rolling over with his wife until she was perfectly under him. As soon as her back hit the mattress, his lips were upon hers, it wasn't a teasing kiss, but a possessive type of kiss that demanded satisfaction from the instigator. As soon as the initial surprise had worn off, her giggles vanished and were replaced by contented sighs. She readily gave into her husband's demands and made a few of her own.
Ilana moaned and with eyes still closed, snuggled into her husband's side. HaEun was not going back to sleep and now demanding breakfast. Their daughter's cry woke Jihoo from his blissful sleep. "Sarang knows she doesn't like the bottle in the morning.
- "Deh..." She had gone to sleep so peacefully and then was awakened by a strange thought. By the time she managed to rest her brain again, it was only an hour until HaEun woke up.
Seeing that his wife wasn't moving, he got up instead. "Gongju!"Their princess was so used to immediate gratification and this morning Umma was taking entirely too long for her liking. She looked at Jihoo with crocodile tears and a quivering chin. She was Appa's little girl and no one could dispute it. "Ah, gongju, mianhae." He took her from her crib; she hadn't woken the entire night. She was wet and starving. "Appa kept Umma up late."He smiled at the memory of their late-night kissing session. They were both left hungry for more, but Jihoo was in the mood for a long drawn out lovemaking session; more so than the frenzied joining that was only temporary satisfaction and didn't really quench their need. Laying his princess on the changing mat, her diaper was practically ready to burst according to all the noise she was making. "Ah, chincha?" He tskd. "Jwonsongmnida gongju, jwosongmnida. I'm sure Umma is ready to burst too but doesn't want to wake up yet. Appa will clean his gongju and make her all better." HaEun was still howling. "Deh gongju, deh." He finished changing the irate princess's diaper, gave her tummy a kiss for good measure and picked her up. "Arraso, let's take you to Umma."
Ilana met them at the door. "Beba, I'm so sorry. Umma was extra sleepy this morning." In one second, Ilana already had HaEun feeding. "Yah, Beba, yah,"Ilana stroked her daughter's silken hair. "You were tired too, weren't you? You slept all night? Begopah?" HaEun wasn't wasting any time; she'd gotten down to business right away. Ilana lay back in bed and HaEun didn't even blink. Jihoo lay down next to them, smiling. He usually fell back to sleep after feeling his wife get up for HaEun, but the sight before him was so sweet, he thanked God he woke up early this morning. Ilana loved the morning feeding; it was so relaxing. Well, not if she had to get up and get ready for work. She was so thankful that she could work from home and nurse her baby whenever she wanted. "Preciosa...,"she yawned as she spoke to HaEun.
- "Sarang didn't sleep well?"
- "Deh...na woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep."
- "Is something worrying you?"
- "Not really..."
- "Hajiman something is on your mind?" He knew her too well.
- "Mollah...," she turned her attention back to HaEun, avoiding her husband's know it all gaze. He wouldn't like with who many of her thoughts had been the last few days. She tried to just leave him in the Lord's hands, but she couldn't see that YoungSaeng was just supposed to be a season in her life. Like all the Oppas she wanted them all as her friends, she could rejoice with them in their triumphs and be a part of their lives. She wanted to see them all get married and have kids and all have huge family gatherings with all the kids running around laughing, and fighting, unable to distinguish between the two.
- "Sarang, I lost you..." Jihoo was studying her far-off gaze.
- "Mianhae, this is actually relaxing, most of the time." HaEun too was dozing back off. "HaEun-ah thinks so too." Ilana nudged her and offered the other side.
- "She's still hungry."
- "I'm going to call you princess piggy."
HaEun didn't appreciate that name, since not long after she turned away and was done. Ilana passed her to Jihoo and he rubbed her back on top of his chest, getting her to fall asleep. Ilana who had snuggled up to Jihoo and HaEun, was also falling back to sleep. Jihoo rose from the bed cautiously and placed HaEun in the co-sleeper. Looking at the clock, he figured he should get up and get ready for the day. Nana would have some sort of breakfast waiting for them when they got downstairs. "Ja (sleep), I'm going to get ready," he kissed her cheek.
Ilana reached for his hand. "Na want you to stay home, na want more of you."
- "Sarang," Jihoo shook his head. "The mischievous spirit is back. Na thought we got rid of her last night."
- "Ani...jaebal? Just a little longer?"
His wife was starting to worry him. "Arraso," he got back into bed and wrapped his arms around her."Gwenchana?" He cupped her face, making sure he didn't miss a fever or other signs of illness.
- "Now I am."
- "Sarang, talk to me."
She shook her head. "Na still don't have regular menstrual cycles, maybe it's PMS. Did I get moody at that time, before HaEun?"
- "Only because Sarang wanted to have a baby and got her cycle instead." In the back of Jihoo's mind, he did wonder about a second pregnancy. They weren't trying to get pregnant but at the same time, it wasn't as if they weren't not trying.
- "Nomu saranghae,"she said to his chest.
Jihoo remained quiet for a few seconds and then replied. "Chincha? Prove it."
She grinned as he used her own words against her. Ilana strategically startled herself on top of him and leaned forward to apply damp kisses to his neck and tease it with her tongue, before cooling it with her breath. "Like this?"
Jihoo made an inward hissing noise as a response. Men were the most sensitive to arousal in the mornings and his wife was doing a very good job at it. Having received a positive response, she moved from his neck to his lips and nipped gently at first, increasing her intensity as she went. Before he granted her entry into his mouth, he pulled away for just a moment. "Sarang, should na go in late?" He let his lips graze her ear. Ilana's eyes brightened. He shouldn't; they shouldn't, but she really wanted him too. Nodding her head, 'yes', she returned her attention to his wonderful lips.
Jihoo and Ilana were both about thirty minutes late that morning. Nana gently "scolded" her two charges for their irresponsibility even though she was confident that she had some idea of the reason behind their tardiness. Their guilty looks and blushes said it all.
Jihoo was extra cheerful for the rest of the morning and Ilana happily sang along to all her favorite songs as she worked. Even HaEun was in a good mood and 'sang' along with Umma in her play area.
- "Dr. Jihoo, are you coming to lunch with us?"One of his staff members asked.
- "Not today, I'll be having lunch with my wife."
- "Guys, look at Dr. Jihoo's eyes shining and his face smiling when he talks about his wife." The mobile clinic staff could only tease their boss on certain occasions and they never let the opportunity pass. He was usually a straight-faced and no-nonsense Doctor, with an impressive resume. He wasn't arrogant or unkind and he was a great boss. He was just a little serious but ask him about his wife or daughter and a wide-open smile would appear on his face and his eyes would light up.
Jihoo rolled his eyes at them, still smiling. "When God brings you the right spouse, you'll be smiling too."
- "I want your kind of love," a young female nurse said.
- "Just be patient and don't settle for anyone less than that person who will complete you."
- "He always makes it sound easy," one of the men said.
- "Trust me, it's not. But in the end, it's all worth it. Pray for that special person and you'll know when they appear in your life."
- "Alright, Dr. Jihoo."
Jihoo shook his head at their informal ways. Such behavior would never happen back home. They were a good group, though, and he had no complaints with their work.
Debating whether to take HaEun to her lunch date with Jihoo, Ilana decided for it. "What should we wear for our date with Appa," she asked HaEun. Jihoo had sent her a text earlier.
Jihoo: Meet me for lunch?
Ilana: Miss me already?
He always missed her and especially after their morning. He loved each phase of their marriage and watching his wife become more and more confident in their love and lovemaking was a blessing he could never be grateful enough for.
Ilana smiled at his text. She loved HaEun and her work, but she loved her husband more. She could easily be one of those wives that worked alongside her husband, but God had other plans for them. So she had to live for his calls and texts and quick lunch dates.
Jihoo: It's a date!
Ilana:Can't wait! Saranghae.
Rummaging through the endless sea of pink in HaEun's closet, she came across a sleeves casual dress, with a chambray blue layered skirt and floral embroidery.
"Perfect!"With the outside temperature of seventy-eight degrees, there was no need for a sweater. Just like her Appa, HaEun was never cold. Ilana had rushed to shower and wash her hair, they never did get all the baby's breath out. It felt so nice to have normal, clean hair again, she left it down and let it air dry. Not that she had time to do anything else with it. She fed HaEun and changed her into her dress."Umma also wants to look cute for Appa. I'm not going to wear a nursing dress today, arraso? I hope you stay nice and full for a few hours. Should I get Nana to warm you up some apricot porridge to go? Does that sound good?" Ilana finished her daughter's ensemble with a matching pair of frilly socks that her friends had given her. The socks reminded her of YoungSaeng and the reason she had been wide awake last night."Beba...que bella (how lovely)." She lifted HaEun to see her reflection in the mirror. Babies loved to look at themselves in the mirror and HaEun was no exception as she pawed at the baby in the mirror. Ilana sighed and placed HaEun on the floor."What is Umma supposed to do about Ajussi Heo? Na want HaEun to meet him hajiman he doesn't want to meet you? Umma owes him a few birthday gifts. Your picture and a set of his favorite cologne should make up for it. ¿Beba, tu qué opinas (what do you think)?" HaEun gave a long response, including a sigh somewhere in the middle. Ilana laughed, temporarily forgetting about her thoughts. Abruptly picking up her daughter from the floor, she gave her an exaggerated and evidently too hard of a kiss on the cheek. "Preciosa (precious)!"HaEun was a delicate little thing and didn't like rough play; she began to cry. "Aish! ¡Delicada (so sensitive)!" Ilana cradled her gently and rocked her back and forth. "Linda Beba, no llores, corazón, mm (Lovely baby girl, don't cry, hmm)? ¿Perdona Mama, si (Forgive Mama, yes)?" Ilana gave her daughter a pouty face that sometimes worked to get back into her good graces. HaEun was a sweet baby and though she was upset at being roughly handled, that didn't mean she wanted others to be upset. Her cries subsided and she placed her hand on Ilana's face. Ilana gave her a soft smile and turned to kiss her hand. "Gomawo for forgiving Umma. Umma has to get ready or we're going to be late, kaja."
In the bedroom, Ilana placed HaEun on the bed. "Goyangi, keep HaEun company while I change, deh?" Joy gave Ilana a "do I have to?" look, making her laugh. "Just for a second, she can't crawl yet. You'll be okay." The fact that she couldn't crawl and the moving stuffed animal was on the opposite side of the bed from her was entirely frustrating for HaEun. She wiggled and scooted and dragged her little body, painfully across the bed. Ilana threw on a blue ruffled dress (almost matching HaEun); blue flats with a taupe colored bow, simple headband and the necklace YoungSaeng gave her. It was aquamarine, after all, and contemplated the outfit well. It had been ages since she wore it last. At times, she was still sensitive to the cold so She grabbed a taupe colored sweater just in case she had to deal with air conditioning. During her illness, she would never have been able to walk around without a sweater, scarf, and gloves. Now, she took a sweater as a precaution only.
HaEun was so close to grabbing Joy's elusive tail. "You two play nice while I put on my makeup. Give me fifteen minutes. Joy-ah, gomawo for being such a good babysitter to your dongsaeng." Ilana enhanced her natural makeup style with a fine-tipped blue eyeliner, mascara, and a warm pink lipstick with contemplating blush. "Arraso, Joy-ah, is Umma yippeun for Appa?"HaEun managed to grab the cat's tail right about that moment. Joy pawed at the baby but didn't scratch her. "HaEun-ah...Joy-ah..."Ilana picked up HaEun. "Be gentle...Joy doesn't like to play rough either." Ilana sat on the bed and scratched Joy behind the ears, getting a silent meow in response. "Like this, Beba. See? Here..." she took HaEun's hand and showed her how to gently pet Joy. "Soft, just like that, arraso?" HaEun got excited and giggled in Ilana's arms. Joy decided to leave for safer ground in case her dongsaeng decided to pull her tail again. HaEun wanted to follow but was restrained by her Mother. "Na ah, let's wash your hands so we can go with Appa." This upset the almost six-month-old but Umma held her ground. "Let's go" meant just that.
Brendon was almost to where the mobile clinic was parked for the day and Ilana still hadn't given him instructions for the hour she would be taking lunch with her husband. "Miss Ilana..." Brendon called her name but she didn't respond. Ilana's mind had wandered to YoungSaeng again. It was now the second in Seoul. One more day and it would be his birthday.
- "We'll meet back here on my birthday after I finish my military duty."
That kept replaying in her head. It was followed by "naega choah."The phrase she didn't want to hear from him or anyone as she felt herself unable to respond back. Who was she to think that she could love normally? She had accepted so long ago and though he begged her to accept him, their last night in Seoul, she refused. Yet less than six months later, Jihoo had gradually removed many of the scars from her heart and she found herself wishing she could love like a normal woman did.
- "Miss Ilana?"
- "Hmm? Oh, sorry Brendon, were you talking to me?"
- "Yes, do you need me to do anything while you're at lunch with your husband?"
- "No... I want to pick up HaEun's pictures from Elijah's studio, but we can do that after. Why don't you eat or duck into the auto parts store or the electronics store like you often enjoy doing?" The cafe they were having lunch at was in a shopping center with various stores.
- "I have no problem waiting until we get back home to eat but I think I'll go to the auto parts store."
Ilana laughed, he'd be there for the duration of their lunch and she'd have to call him back to the car.
Getting out of the car, she took HaEun with her. Jihoo's staff would want to see her. They had just put out the closed sign and folded the cots and privacy screens, placing them back into the storage compartment of the mobile clinic. "Oh, Dr. Jihoo, your daughter is soooo cute!" His assistant nurse said.
Jihoo's back was turned and didn't see them walking up to the clinic. He turned at his assistant's words, watching them draw near, both in a beautiful shade of blue, both beautiful, and both his. "Sarang!"He didn't think it appropriate to kiss her in front of his staff but he stepped up to them and caressed her cheek. "Annyeong. Annyeong gongju!"He did peck his daughter's lips.
This was the first time his staff had met Ilana in person. She was usually too busy with her own business to get away and truthfully, he thought the lunchtime was too much of a tease. He would get her and HaEun's company for only about forty minutes and then he'd have to watch them leave and not get to see them at all for another five hours. Jihoo took HaEun into his arms and wrapped his arm around his wife's waist as he led them to the small group that was waiting to be introduced. "This is Dr. Karl and our nurses Michel and Corinna. This is my wife, Ilana and our daughter, HaEun."
- "It's a pleasure, Mrs. Yoon." Dr. Karl extended his hand.
- "You should see Dr. Jihoo's face when he's talking to you," Corinna whispered.
- "Leave him alone," Michel said. Corinna was always teasing and picking on the guys. If not, they would tease and pick on her as the only female."Pleased to meet you."
- "Nice to meet you all," Ilana said. "Thank you for being a good staff for my husband. I know he holds you all in high regard."
- "We're grateful to have him," Dr. Karl said.
Jihoo was uncomfortable with the praises; he turned to his wife. "Should we go?"
- "Yes, I already ordered our food, like you asked me too."
Jihoo turned back to his staff, "I'll be back. You won't mind if I'm a few minutes late, will you? I'll give you all one free pass to being late since I've been the worst offender today."
- "Dr. Jihoo, you're never late. Go on and enjoy your lunch," Dr. Karl said.
- "Thank you, you too."
Again, with his hand on Ilana's back, he led them to the car, where Brendon was waiting.
- "Aren't they so sweet?" Carinna said. "You can tell the way they look at each other, they are so in love. They'll be like those sweet old couples that still hold hands."
- "Carinna!" The other two men just laughed at her. She was a hopeless romantic and usually spent her lunch hour with her nose in a romance novel.
- "Let's get some food, I'm starved," Michel said and Dr. Karl seconded.
Carinna rolled her eyes at them. "Men...all they think about is food."
Jihoo and Ilana arrived at the cafe in perfect timing. Their food was ready. They both shared a Turkey Panini with roasted kale and a Chinese chicken salad with cashews. They all sat down, Jihoo placed HaEun in a high chair with a toy and then said a quick prayer over the food. "Na don't remember seeing you wear that dress before?" Jihoo said. He loved their almost matching outfits.
- "Na don't think I've worn it since before I left home. Na told nampyon, na have way too many clothes."
- "Deh, Sarang's side of the closet is packed. Perhaps you should look into donating some of them."
Between her life in New York and now her life in Seoul and Los Angeles, she had ended up with newer clothes and forgetting about some of her older garments. Especially now that she was working from home, she lived in casual and versatile nursing dresses.
- "Maja...that could be one of our weekend projects. Don't think I've not seen nampyon's side of the closet is just as packed."
Jihoo laughed. "Deh Sarang. We'll both clean out the closet." He usually used two changes of clothes a day. Three, if you counted pajama pants. At times if he really liked a style, he would just order the same slacks or shirts in different colors. California was so casual compared to Seoul or even New York; he had practically rebuilt his wardrobe from scratch but never discarded anything. He took his first bite of the sandwich; it was very good. It was the first time he had ordered it. "Masheesuhyo. Na think I'll be ordering this sandwich again."
- "Chincha? I've been enjoying the salad."
- "Deh, na have ordered the salad before." HaEun was enjoying banging her toy on the table. "Not too loud, agassi. Other people are trying to eat." She offered Appa her gummy smile and squeal. Appa always made her laugh.
- "Na told Sarang she would love Appa just as much as Umma does,"Ilana said. She was the perfect little angel to her Appa and could do no wrong except wakeing them up too early.
- "Deh...and na told Sarang, she would take after you."
- "Appa saranghae," she said.
Jihoo suddenly realized she was wearing her aquamarine necklace. He'd not seen her wear it since before their wedding. He knew it was YoungSaeng that had given it to her. She never told him, but he just knew. It was a bit irrational as he had always hated JunPyo's jealousy toward him, but YoungSaeng really made him jealous. Not that he feared his wife leaving; it was that someone else loved her almost as much as he did. He wanted to be the only one in the world that had that one unique love for her. Her choice of necklace meant he was on her mind. He remembered it was about this time her friends visited her in New York and the occasion was YoungSaeng's birthday. He cleared his throat a little. Her attention had been on HaEun. "Na haven't seen you wear your aquamarine necklace in years."
- "Chincha?" She shrugged, a little distracted. "It's blue. It matches my outfit. I just thought it would be nice to wear it." Ilana wanted to change the subject. "Your staff seems very nice. Carinna reminds me of Gaeul Unnie a little - a hopeless romantic."
- "Deh, now that you mentioned it, she does. Is Sarang a hopeless romantic?"He knew she wasn't; she was extremely practical. She never imagined she'd ever fall in love.
- "If Sarang counts Greek tragedies and Shakespearean plays as the definition of romantic."
This answer caught him off guard. While not into fluff romance, she loved the world of Jane Austen and the idea of a courtly love, where people may not start off in love, but end up in a love that surpasses all expectations. That necklace was bothering him. He was sure it was the reason for her strange mood. "Sarang, ara something is troubling you."
She couldn't hide from him ever. "Jeogumyo, na will get over it. Gwenchana." Her appetite had left her and she pushed her salad around her plate. HaEun wanted to be included in her parent's activities and began to fuss, stretching her little hand toward Ilana's plate. "Beba, there's nothing on my plate for you. I have the porridge Nana made you?" Ilana rummaged in her bag for thermos and spoon. Jihoo took two large bites of his sandwich.
- "Anieyo, Na will feed her, Sarang needs to eat."
Ilana stopped and looked at him in surprise but he was already reaching over the table for the thermos. "What about you?"
- "Eeliwah, gongju." He pulled the high chair closer to him. "Na can eat in between patients. Sarang doesn't want to tell me what's bothering her, anngwenchana."
- "Amugeotdo (nothing)!"
Jihoo smiled at his princess and offered her a spoonful of porridge. "Sarang, it has something to do with that necklace. You're dealing with a memory. Na want you to tell me what it is; in between bites of food, juseyo. Remember you're feeding both you and HaEun."
She sighed and took a bite of salad. Where was she supposed to start with the jumbled thoughts she'd been having. "The necklace was a gift from YoungSaeng the day he officially told me he liked me. He said it unofficially while on the ship. It was the time they were visiting me in New York and it was on his birthday. His birthday is two days away. He promised to come back after his military service and he hasn't. I'm hurt and angry at him, so I want to throw the necklace off the observation tower of the Empire State Building on his birthday. I want to go to New York Thursday."
- "Mwo?!" Jihoo saw her chest heaving with emotion. In her eyes, he read the hurt and anger. Had JanDi felt that way too? "Anieyo."
- "Wae anieyo?!"
- "Anieyo. That's the last time we'll discuss it. Nae Anae is not going across the country on a whim."
- "It's not a whim...," she said softly but didn't argue. How could she? Despite her resolve not to argue, hurt and angry tears threatened to spill over. This was something she felt she needed to do. Jihoo had always told her if it was important to her, then it was important. But this time, he just dismissed her flat out. That didn't help her hurt and anger and was threatening to misdirect itself at her husband.
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