Chapter 40 – Finally So-seobang
A/N: When a person refers to a son-in-law, they use 'last name + seobang', so the title refers to So Yi Jung as a son-in-law.
"I'll take you home," Woo Bin told Ha Jae Kyung as soon as dinner was done.
Funny, Jae Kyung thought, how the word 'home' felt foreign to her. The last few weeks with Song Woo Bin had been exhilarating, overwhelming and chaotic, but she wouldn't have it any other way. The thought of 'home' being her parents' lavish mansion in the heart of Seoul didn't bring her any comfort, so when they walked out of Ji Hoo's house towards Woo Bin's car, she involuntarily shivered.
Without warning or pause, Woo Bin took off his jacket and placed it around the quirky heiress' shoulders before opening the passenger door for her. She was startled when he did that, but didn't let it show. Instead, she breathed deeply and inhaled Woo Bin's scent that clung on to his jacket.
"Will we see each other again?" Woo Bin asked while he drove. He knew he shouldn't ask such a question, knew that she'd be much safer away from him, but he couldn't help it.
Basking in Song Woo Bin's scent from his jacket, Jae Kyung sported a small smile, and replied playfully, "Maybe. Why? Do you miss me already?" She teased.
Woo Bin's lips quirked. "Maybe. Why? Aren't you going to miss if we don't see each other?"
"Maybe," Jae Kyung bantered back. "It's been a lot of fun, Song Woo Bin-sshi, but it's better if we went back to our separate ways." Her hands that were fidgeting with the hem of Woo Bin's jack stilled, and the twinkle of mischief in eyes dimmed.
Hearing her, Woo Bin's hands on the steering wheel tightened, and even if he tried to put on a mask of indifference on his face, a tiny bubble of mixed panic and hurt bubbled on his chest.
"That's it?" Woo Bin asked.
"That's it," Jae Kyung echoed.
There was a brief pause in their conversation as Woo Bin tried to gather his wits to find the words for a perfect reply. Alas, he was at a loss.
Then he remembered the note she left.
"Your note – the one you left for me. You said in your note that you got upset because you think you're actually falling in love with a man, and not with just some far-fetched idea of unconditional love and sacrifice," Woo Bin began. He suddenly shifted lanes, found a rest stop at a corner, and stopped the car.
Confused, Jae Kyung looked at Woo Bin and asked, "Why are we stopping?"
"You said in your note that the whole thing scared you," Woo Bin didn't let up and continued. "Yah, Ha Jae Kyung-sshi, are you falling in love with me?" He asked and looked straight at her.
The quirky heiress' eyes widened at the straightforward question. Her mind momentarily blanked, and she looked down on her lap, unable to look Woo Bin in the eyes. "I-I don't know. Maybe," she confessed. "I have-" She was about to continue to Woo Bin cut her off.
"Wait. Stop." Woo Bin undid his seatbelt, shuffled in his seat and turned his body side-ways so he can properly look at Jae Kyung. "Before you continue, I have things I want to say, and I want you to listen carefully. I'm not really good with words, so please hear me out before you say anything. Is that okay?" Woo Bin took a deep breath nervously.
"A-Arasso," Jae Kyung softly replied, sounding small and hesitant.
Woo Bin blinked once, licked his lips nervously, and blinked blankly again. He had never been good with words, and explaining what he felt was never his forte. He was more of a man of action, and so at that very moment, because of Ha Jae Kyung, he was again at a loss on what to say.
"I can vividly recall how we began plotting together to aid our friends with their sex lives. Then there was that bet between us, and somehow we managed to live together and stay in the same room for several weeks," Woo Bin recounted. "That was the longest period I've ever spent time with a woman closely. Believe me when I say, Ha Jae Kyung-sshi, that I can recall each and every moment with you vividly. When you suddenly left, I felt hollow for the first time in my life. And right now, I feel blindsided," He confessed, his gorgeous face marred with mixed pain and confusion.
Woo Bin paused, looked down and took Ha Jae Kyung's hand in his. "We argued, we fought, we bantered, but we also laughed, we joked around, and we became each other's back-ups. I was there with you in all those moments, but I feel blindsided because I'm only realizing now that," Woo Bin paused and placed Jae Kyung's hand in his chest. "Somehow in between all those moments, this heart became yours."
The heiress' eyes widened in surprise again.
"When you suddenly left, I felt desolate, but the instant I read your note, something in my heart bloomed, and I felt truly and genuinely happy," Woo Bin continued. "So if I'm right, and you're indeed falling in love with me, Ha Jae Kyung-sshi, I want you to know that my heart is already yours, and you can do with it as you please. You don't have to answer my earlier question now. If you need some time to think things through, take it. And when you're ready to give an answer, just let me know. I'll fly to wherever you are in the world just to see you."
"Sooo…" Jae Kyung awkwardly coughed before continued. "So that was you who's not really good with words, huh?" There was a hint of teasing in her tone, but her face gave nothing away.
"I know it's cheesy even for the man dubbed as THE Don Juan, but I tried my best," Woo Bin sheepishly smiled.
He took a bullet for the heiress once, of course he could be cheesy for her, Woo Bin thought. He'd also take another bullet for her any time. At that moment, Song Woo Bin knew that if Ha Jae Kyung asked the world of him, he'd happily give all of it, consequences be damned.
After their very enlightening conversation, Woo Bin continued to drive Jae Kyung towards her parents mansion. The rest of the drive was silent and seemingly uneventful, but it remained significant because of the fact that Song Woo Bin held Ha Jae Kyung's hand tightly in his.
The very next day, still clad in Song Woo Bin's brown leather jacket that's a tad too big for her, Ha Jae Kyung flew to Hong-Kong to finally face her responsibilities after several weeks of absence. Though she didn't want to leave, her heart still felt light as a feather because of Woo Bin's words. She knew he meant it when he said he'd come running to see her wherever she is in the world, all she need to do is call him.
Meanwhile, in the weeks that followed, So Yi Jung and Chu Ga Eul stayed in the humble abode of Ga Eul's parents. Ga Eul's father, Chu Dae Sung, treated the reformed Casanova coldly, and often eyed him critically. Ga Eul's mother, Ahn Ae Ja, on the other hand, remained caring and doting on her son-in-law.
Yi Jung endured having to sleep on the floor inside his wife's childhood bedroom. He endured bathing without hot water on most days, and woke up early to help out with breakfast. He also learned to bring packed lunch to the office as Ahn Ae Ja, his mother-in-law, insisted that home-cooked meals were healthier compared to those bought from restaurants.
Ga Eul, on the other hand, remained stoic. She only talked to Yi Jung out of necessity. Most days, she stayed quiet. Three weeks after the unfortunate incident, she reported back to work as the head of the Research Team at Woosung Museum that even Kim Young Ran was surprised.
Yi Jung's grandmother, Lee Hae Jin, came home from abroad as soon as she heard the news about Ga Eul's accident. She heavily berated Yi Jung in private, and was inconsolable when she learned that Ga Eul was with child when the accident happened resulting to a miscarriage. She visited Ga Eul at her parents' home every other day just to spend some time for tea and snacks. And when Ga Eul returned to work, she spent most of her active hours at Woosung Museum, alternating between trading barbs with Yi Jung's mother, and doting on her beautiful granddaughter-in-law.
Per Dr. Yoon Ji Hoo's suggestion, Ga Eul also began seeing a psychotherapist three weeks after the accident. She scheduled her therapy sessions after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Yi Jung usually waited for her at a nearby café.
On the other hand, despite her ever-growing stomach, Geum Jan Di always randomly showed up at Woosung Museum to meet Ga Eul, oftentimes behind the back of Goo Jun Pyo, which in turn, irritated him to no end.
For So Yi Jung and Chu Ga Eul, Saturdays were for usually for buying groceries and spending some quiet time tending to the vegetable garden in the yard. Sundays were for quiet rest, and going to church. And when Ga Eul felt like it, they go to Ji Hoo's residence to see little Han Byul. Since the adoption process still hasn't been finalized, Ga Eul remained hesitant to take Han Byul with her.
Throughout the last several weeks, So Yi Jung remained patient. He adjusted his lifestyle for his wife, gave up the comforts of his lavish mansion, re-arranged his schedule to accommodate hers, and dropped everything without hesitation whenever Ga Eul needed him.
Yi Jung also gradually learned how to cook rice in a rice-cooker, wash dishes, wash dirty clothes in the washing machine, and all other seemingly mundane chores inside the house. Ga Eul's mother had fun teaching him as he was always eager to learn something new. In return, she taught Ga Eul's mother pottery, so she can make pretty pots for her flowers.
In the course of several trips to the local market, Yi Jung also learned how to spot fresh fish, which watermelon is ripe and sweet, and which vegetables are the ingredients for the different dishes that Ga Eul's mom cooked for them. He also learned how to ride the bus and even got himself a beep card for payment of their bus fares.
It was in one of those lazy Saturday mornings when Yi Jung was squatting down in the front porch of the Chu household washing a significant bulk of cabbages in a large basin, that Ga Eul's dad surprisingly approached him first.
Yi Jung's hair was a bit unkempt and there were beads of sweat on his forehead. He wore a casual white shirt under a button-up light blue sweater, paired with non-descript casual denim pants. He looked nothing like his suave former Casanova self, but surprisingly, he also looked relax.
"Yah, until when do you plan to keep this up?" Chu Dae Sung, Ga Eul's father, inquired. He sat down a few feet away from Yi Jung and took a deep breath while looking around his cozy yard.
"Ah, Abeonim, I'm sorry I don't understand what you're trying to say," Yi Jung replied, his face puzzled though he continued working.
Chu Dae Sung took another deep breath before crossing his arms and sparing his son-in-law a look. "Aren't you tired? You've been doing a lot of effort for someone who hasn't been receptive to you for several weeks now. You'd have an easier time moving on with your life if you just give up."
For the first time in weeks, Chu Dae Sung's tone towards Yi Jung wasn't hostile or even critical. He only sounded matter-of-factly, so much so that Yi Jung almost felt like the older man was concerned about him.
Taking a pause from washing cabbages, Yi Jung stood up and stretched his back. "I learned a lot of things from your daughter, Abeonim, and one of them is the lesson of regret. I have no expectations, but I am hopeful. I simply want to do my best for her so that I don't have any regrets later on," Yi Jung explained.
"She might never forgive you, you know. There's always that possibility." Chu Dae Sung pointed out again.
Yi Jung crouched back down and resumed his work on the cabbages. "It's a risk I'm willing to take, and Ga Eul is more than worth it." He quietly replied.
For a few moments, silence reigned. Yi Jung concentrated on washing cabbages while Chu Dae Sung remained contemplative.
"Abeonim, may I be honest?" Yi Jung politely asked.
"These past several weeks with all you felt like a crash course to me," Yi Jung confessed.
"Crash course? What do you mean?"
Yi Jung thoughtfully paused for a minute before speaking. "I feel like I've been living in an alternate dimension my whole life, and I kept asking myself why had I only learned to live like this now? Everything I thought I knew about love, life and relationships pale in comparison to what I'm learning now."
"I'm not a dim person, Yi Jung, but I still don't understand what you're trying to say," Chu Dae Sung replied.
Yi Jung looked down on his lap, unable to meet his father-in-law's eyes. "I don't know what Ga Eul told you about me, or my family, Abeonim. We're very complicated. The short version is, I never had a positive male role model when I was growing up, but when I look at you, I think to myself, ah, now that's the kind of husband and father I want to be."
For a second, Chu Dae Sung was surprised. He looked at his son-in-law, trying to figure out whether or not he was merely flattering him to get on his good side, but Yi Jung simply continued to work on the cabbages.
"What about your father?" Chu Dae Sung finally asked, recognizing that he knew very little about the man his daughter had married, and that apart from being critical of Yi Jung, he exerted absolutely no effort to get to know him at all.
"That man is the farthest thing from a good male role model, Abeonim," Yi Jung answered curtly. He didn't want to go into the messy details of his father on such a perfectly nice Saturday morning.
"Then how about samgyeopsal, chicken, soju and beer tonight?" Dae Sung surprisingly suggested. "I'll go make the preparations."
Nonplussed, Yi Jung merely nodded. He didn't know what to make of Chu Dae Sung's odd demeanor. Aside from having the occasional one bottle of beer every now and then, it was the first time Ga Eul's father invited him to drink.
That night, after dinner, Chu Dae Sung and So Yi Jung bonded over samgyeopsal and chicken over a few bottles of mixed soju and beer. Once Yi Jung was properly buzzed, Chu Dae Sung began his inquisition. Only then did a few things clicked into place. Chu Dae Sung knew Yi Jung was filthy rich, being the son of the one of the most influential families in South Korea, but he had absolutely no idea about Yi Jung's family life, or how easily it is for Yi Jung to say that his own father was a womanizer as if it was an everyday thing to admit.
For the first time since he met his son-in-law, Chu Dae Sung saw So Yi Jung in a different light. His son-in-law was by no means perfect, but he undeniably had redeeming qualities, the best of which is his devotion to his wife and Chu Dae Sung's only daughter, Ga Eul.
"Aish, Appa, why did you get Yi Jung so drunk?" Ga Eul whined, seeing her husband wasted on their front porch. "You promised me you wouldn't let him get wasted."
"Tsk, Yeobo, don't tell me you picked on Yi Jung again?" Ga Eul's mother, Ahn Ae Jae, seconded.
Chu Dae Sung chuckled loudly. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes crinkled warmly as he grinned at his daughter. "Aigoo, So-seobang isn't wasted. He's just sleepy."
"He's sleepy because you got him so drunk," Ga Eul pouted at his father and kneeled down beside the sleeping So Yi Jung. "And since when is he So-seobang to you?"
Chu Dae Sung continued to grin. "Well, should I call my son-in-law ahjusshi?" He joked.
"Ga Eul, you go take your husband to your room, I'll take care of everything here," Ahn Ae Jae instructed.
Left without much choice, Ga Eul tried to wake So Yi Jung up so they can walk to their room.
"Yi Jung, So Yi Jung, please wake up," Ga Eul lightly tapped her husband on the cheeks.
In response, Yi Jung simply stirred but did not fully wake up.
"Yi Jung-ah, wake up," Ga Eul shook him lightly, and pulled him up by the arm. It was only then that Yi Jung opened his eyes.
"Jagiya," Yi Jung's unfocused eyes stared at his wife, and then he smiled. "Saranghaeyo," he whispered, grinned and lovingly caressed his wife's cheek.
"Aigoo, our Yi Jung is adorable," Ga Eul's mother smiled.
Trying to hide the flush on her cheeks, Ga Eul pulled Yi Jung up again and ducked low to place his arm on her shoulders. "Come on, stand up. Let's go to my room so you can properly rest," Ga Eul said.
Yi Jung grinned as he looked at his wife and rose up to stand. "I'll go to w-wherever y-you want me to," Yi Jung slurred, and hugged his wife close. He was already standing up but he hunched low, buried his nose on Ga Eul's neck and leaned into her.
Ga Eul struggled to support Yi Jung's weight as he leaned into her, but somehow, she was able to lead him to their room by partly-dragging him and leaning on the wall for support.
Once they were inside the confines of Ga Eul's room, she led Yi Jung on the bed and finally let him slump down.
"Aish, why did you drink so much?" Ga Eul asked as she slowly unbuttoned So Yi Jung's sweater.
Despite his drunken state, Yi Jung managed to catch Ga Eul's hand in his and muttered, "Abeonim a-asked me to drink. I c-couldn't say no."
"Well, you shouldn't have drank so much," Ga Eul chastised, shaking his hands off of hers and continuing to unbutton his sweater.
Once Yi Jung's sweater was off, Ga Eul fetched a basin filled with water from the kitchen and a small towel. She sat beside Yi Jung and carefully wiped his face, neck and arms with the wet towel.
Stirring and sensing Ga Eul near, Yi Jung momentarily opened his eyes and asked, "Take my shirt off? Please?"
"Fine," Ga Eul huffed under her breath and pulled Yi Jung to sit up on the bed.
As soon as he was sitting up on the bed, Yi Jung leaned forward, rested his head on Ga Eul's shoulders and buried his face on her neck. Ga Eul had to lift his shirt up from the back to pull it off of him. Once the shirt was off, Ga Eul pushed Yi Jung to lie back down on the bed, and resumed wiping him off with a wet towel.
Inwardly, Ga Eul felt awkward around her own husband. He still had the power to launch a thousand giddy butterflies in her stomach, and his mere nearness sent her heart wildly dancing inside her chest. If sober So Yi Jung respected her boundaries, and was a complete gentleman with her, tonight's drunk So Yi Jung was a whole different matter.
For one, sober So Yi Jung usually slept on the floor, and with his shirt on. Tonight's drunk So Yi Jung, on the other hand, was unabashedly sweet, touchy and clingy, and without a shirt on.
After she was done wiping Yi Jung off with a wet towel, she grabbed a blanket and was about to cover Yi Jung with it when he suddenly grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her down the bed.
"Oh!" Ga Eul was wide-eyed when she squeaked.
Both of Yi Jung's arms encircled themselves possessively around Ga Eul, his nose buried on her hair, and one of his legs rested on top of hers, effectively rendering her immobile. Ga Eul found herself trapped in her husbands embrace, her nose filled with his scent, and her face only inches away from his bare chest. Try as she might, she was unable to escape.
"Yi Jung-ah, let me go," Ga Eul pleaded. "I need to clear the basin and turn the lights off," she reasoned.
"Leave it. Let's just go to sleep please," Yi Jung murmured in Ga Eul's hair. "I love you so much, Chu Ga Eul," he whispered.
And so, for the first time in several weeks, So Yi Jung and Chu Ga Eul slept on the same bed and in each other's arms.
To Be Continued...
Author's Note: ONE THOUSAND REVIEWS! WOW! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I'm curious about how everyone is doing these past few weeks because of Covid-19. If it's not too much to ask, can you guys please tell me where you're from and how you're doing?
Where I'm from, we've been on a strict quarantine, so I've been working from home. I only go out to buy grocery and necessities once a week. I can't help but feel anxious about what's happening, so I hope you guys are safe.
Male1248 - ¡Hola! ¿Dónde leíste mi historia? ¿Es de la versión traducida de Anna Yhel? He terminado de estudiar en realidad. Ya soy abogada. No se cómo hablar español. Solo utilicé Google Translate. Espero que puedas entenderme. :)
Jenny - ¡Gracias! Mucho amor de Filipinas.
For all Spanish-speaking readers, keep the comments coming, I read them all and use Google Translate so I can understand what you're saying. Thank you so much! :)
As always, if you guys want to connect with me, I'm on Twitter and Wattpad - Sen_Sibella. See you on the next chapter!