“Aren’t you afraid of being alone with me?” Yi Jeong asked.
He was sipping a cup of tea, comfortably sat down on her couch and he was looking at her with an amused smile.
But he wasn’t amused, at all. He was trying hard to understand if she was really that bold or if it was a pretence and at the same time he was trying to decide what to do.
Part of him just wanted to put that damn cup down and resume what they had been doing on the couch, but part of him was actually curious about her next move.
She locked herself in with the lion, wasn’t she scared? Was she really sure he wasn’t going to take advantage of the situation? Did she trust him that much? Or did she secretly want him to take control and finish what they started? These questions were driving him crazy. With any other girl, he wouldn’t have any doubt, just taking what was being offered to him, but this was Ga Eul yang and he wanted to understand before making his move.
Actually it was pissing him off, why the hell was he treating her differently from his other girls? She wasn’t anybody special after all.
“Would you believe me if I said I’m not?” She replied, the cup near her lips. She was trying her best to put up a brave face, to make him believe she was really calm, meanwhile thanking heavens he wasn’t able to hear the beating of her heart.
He grinned, carefully putting the cup back on the tea-tray.
“After what happened between us you would be really stupid of not being afraid and you’re smarter than that. So…” he crossed his legs, leaning back on the couch. “The answer is yes, you’re scared. But you did it anyway. Are you brave or foolish, Ga Eul yang?”
She lifted her eyes, putting down the cup as well. Truth time, she told herself.
“Well,” she answered glaring at him, “I guess we will know that only at the end. If I was brave or foolish.”
“And what if you are wrong? Are you ready to face the consequences of your actions? Are you really ready to play this game?” He wanted to hear her answer, he wanted to hear her condemn herself with her own words. Was he trying to justify what he wanted to do by saying she had a chance to withdraw and she wasted it? Was he seeking for absolution even before committing the sin?
Yi Jeong glared back, locking his eyes in hers. The grin, the smile were gone, now he was very serious. “If you aren’t, I suggest you to open that door now, and hope I will go away.”
Here Ga Eul yang, last chance. Pick it now, or accept the outcome, whatever it will be.
She could feel the tension rising, she knew she was playing with fire. One mistake and she would end up burnt. But it was too late to withdraw, her pride would never allow that. Most of all she wanted to know, she needed to. This was her chance and she couldn’t let it slip away.
And so, Ga Eul looked back at him, with that steel glance Jan Di knew so well and chose her path. “Yes, I’m ready.”
It was a deal then. Their new round was starting and there was no backing off now.
She was sitting on an armchair near his couch, needing to stay far from him if she wanted to keep her mind clear. Strange enough, now that she had refused her last chance of retiring, she was feeling better.
The die was cast and all that was left was playing that destructive game.
“From now on, no lies. I’ll answer your questions truthfully and you will do the same. Do you agree sunbae?”
“I can’t promise to answer all the questions. Everybody has secrets.” Yi Jeong wasn’t smiling anymore.
Somehow he felt they had gone past the teasing phase and things were serious now. One wrong move from her and he would find her bedroom and made sure she paid the stake. As for him… he was the one at stake in that game. His heart, his feelings. He knew that perfectly well, he knew what she wanted.
“Fair enough. As long as you don’t lie.”
“I won’t lie. But perhaps you won’t like what I will tell you.”
“I’ll take that risk.” It sure wasn’t the biggest one she was taking that night.
“So… what do you want to know Ga Eul yang?”
There they were, one on the couch and the other on the armchair, their eyes never leaving each other, daring the other one to avert the gaze.
No smiles, no jokes, just their bare thoughts and that subtle tension crackling in the air.
She breathed in, trying to relax her clenched hand and asked the first question.
“That night, the promise you made me. Did you keep it?”
“Yes.” He answered, his charcoal black eyes fixed on hers. His voice was neutral, just like Ga Eul’s. “I stayed in my workshop, I didn’t look for a woman and I didn’t drink.”
“Why did you keep it?” A strange feeling of relief filled her at the thought he had actually done as she asked.
“Because I keep my promises. That applies to threats too of course.” He had to add that. She needed to understand what kind of person he was. “When I promise something it’s because I mean it.”
She nodded and she poured them another cup of tea. She didn’t know about him, but her throat was dry and she needed to drink something. He took the cup too, without a word.
“And what did you think about that night?”
“That’s a big question Ga Eul yang.” One sip of tea and he continued, staring at her. “Most of all, I thought I made a mistake letting you go. I should have kept you there with me.”
She froze but she didn’t look away. She was determined in not losing that battle. “Would you have really forced yourself on me?”
“You would have yielded. There would have been no need to force you.”
“Confident much?” Ga Eul arched her eyebrows, feeling the blood rushing to her cheeks. Damn it, why did she always have to blush?
“Yes.” He still wasn’t smiling, nor his tone was mocking. He was merely stating a fact.
Ga Eul swallowed another sip of tea, trying to mask her uneasiness after hearing his simple confidence… and the thought of her actually surrendering to him in his bed, made her face flare up. Keep on Ga Eul, she thought, you have to keep on talking.
“You wanted me to beg you to stop, didn’t you?”
“Yes. It was something every normal girl would have done… but you didn’t. That pissed me off.”
“That I’m not a normal girl?”
“You confuse me.”
A thick silence followed that confession, but then he continued. If he was to be honest, he intended to be so till the end. “The girls I usually play with are all the same. I know what they want and they know what I can give them. But I can’t figure you out. What do you want from me, Ga Eul yang?”
That was a big question too. One she asked herself many times, in different situations… but even when he was being a total jerk, the answer had never changed. She didn’t know whether to be happy or sad knowing the tight hold he had on her heart.
“I don’t want anything from you. I already told you, I don’t care about your wealth or your name.” She was almost moved by what was happening. Yes, he had said something really embarrassing just before, but it was her who asked for the truth. And were they really talking? Was he really being sincere with her, perhaps for the first time?
It was her turn now… truth for truth. “I don’t want anything from you, but I want something for you, sunbae.”
He stared at her with an interrogative look and she continued. “I want you to find yourself. I want you to stop running and face your life… and most of all, I want you to be happy.”
She tenderly smiled and he suddenly felt unsure on his couch. Why did he have to ask such a question? It was dangerous and he knew it.
“Yi Jeong sunbae don’t you know already? I want you to be happy because I care about you. Because I like you. And when you love someone, you always want that person to be happy. Isn’t it obvious?”
And Yi Jeong suddenly felt again that warm feeling she was always talking about since he met her. Like a soft blanket, her words and her smile surrounded him in a light caress, slipping in his mind and in his heart.
Now if only the world outside could stop moving and forget So Yi Jeong’s very existence so he could just live in that moment and truly believe her words…