It had started raining outside, thick heavy drops that were falling on the ground with a loud noise. A lightning lit up the black sky through the curtain and a thunder suddenly roared near them. Ga Eul paled and swallowed a cry, springing up from the armchair and taking the tea-tray in her slightly shaking hands.
“I guess this was too hard for you to talk about.” she told him, her back turned while she was heading to the kitchen “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
Every step, every movement, she felt his eyes never abandon her frame, causing her goosebumps all over. She knew that thin line had now been crossed but she was ready.
Yi Jeong was watching her from the door, following her every action, slightly amused by the fact that she was apparently more scared of the storm outside than of him. He already saw her at work in the porridge shop, but looking at her now, in her own house, was a completely different thing. She lived here, and everything in the small portion of house he had seen reminded him of her, from the silly stickies on the fridge to the several pictures that were hanging on her living room’s walls. There was a warmth in that house that lacked his own or even his friends’. Neither of them had a happy family history and their
houses were cold and impersonal, but Ga Eul’s home, as well as Jan Di’s room were filled with memories,
like the very walls were breathing with the family that lived within them.
And he had to get out, as soon as possible, he told himself when the light went off for a second, coming back soon after. He had to stop imagining himself in that house, in her bedroom, with the lights turned off and the storm chant outside the window.
“Give me the keys, Ga Eul yang.”
She was near the sink, drying the tea cups after washing them, and she didn’t turn to him while shacking her head in denial.
“Open that door. You don’t want me here any longer, trust me.”
“We’re not over yet.” she still wasn’t turning and Yi Jeong walked to her, his lips pressed in a thin line.
Her choice, he told himself. He had given her a lot of chances to get rid of him and still she didn’t want. Now she was going to pay the price for her stubborness. Did she really think she could keep him on lash?
Putting his hands on either side of the sink, he enclosed Ga Eul in his embrace, breathing once more the cherry scent of her hair. He missed it.
“Do you want me to stay then?” he whispered in her ear, moving her hair on one side of her neck, so to free the other side. He set his head on her shoulder and noticed she had closed her eyes.
“It’s not what you think.” she replied, her voice really low, in an effort to keep it steady.
Ga Eul was trembling, unable to stop. She had made a big mistake allowing him to be so close to her and now she was fully paying for it. He wasn’t touching her, save for his head on her shoulder, but the proximity of his body, the knowledge he was just behind her, was enough to take her breath away. She never felt so much in danger, not even in his workshop: that night he had been angry and his assault had been the result of his wrath. She knew that if she had allowed him enough time to think, he would have withdrawn.
This time though he was calm. He was sure of what he was doing, of what he wanted. And she had to admit it was her fault too. She had made a bet with him and apparently she just lost it.
“It isn’t?” he insinuated slightly turning his head. “Are you sure?”
When she felt his lips lightly brushing her neck, her eyes burst open and she turned in his arms, breaking free from him.
“Don’t touch me!” she cried, stepping away.
Yi Jeong didn’t move, just looking at her. Her eyes were wide and her cheeks were that soft pink colour he knew so well. Her neck had been soft under his lips and he wanted to taste more of it.
“I asked you if you were ready to play this game, do you remember?”
“I told you we’re not over yet.”
“Yes we are, Ga Eul yang.” he stated, his eyes in hers. “And you lost. Now come here and pay the stake. You knew this was coming.”
Another thunder exploded and she gripped the table she was near to, to suffocate her cry. She always hated storms.
“No.” she shook her head.
“Shall I come to you then?” Yi Jeong approached her, but she moved, keeping the kitchen table between him and her. That just made him grin.
“I’m faster than you Ga Eul yang. Do you really want to do this? I don’t think you’ll like it when I catch you.”
“You can’t always behave like this.” she told him, keeping moving to stay away from him. “You can’t get physical everytime you are angry.”
“I’m not angry. My mind is very clear actually.” his dark gaze never left her, while he was walking around the table.
“Then why are you doing this? Do you think you will be happier after?”
“I want you.” he stated, never smiling once. His eyes were glowing with desire. “That’s reason enough for me.”
“You can’t want me. You never did! What kind of sick game is this?”
And the light went off again, just when another thunder roared outside. Ga Eul shrieked in the dark, feeling a pair of strong arms suddenly grab her and Yi Jeong lips back on hers again. She struggled in his arms, but cried in pain when he grabbed a handful of her hair, heavily panting.
“I wish it was a game.” he whispered in the darkness, releasing her lips. “I really wish it was just a game. It would be much easier.”
“It’s that stupid bet we made, isn’t it? You’re still trying to win it, to show me I’m like all those girls who just want to sleep with you. Have the guts to tell me!” Ga Eul realised she had completely lost control, but she didn’t mind, not anymore. She was past being angry or scared, she didn’t even know what she was feeling. She just wanted to hear the truth, once and for all, to end that misery.
“You’re nothing like them!” he shouted in her face, still grasping her hair painfully. “Is this what you want to hear? You aren’t like any girl I ever met!”
He buried his face in her neck, kissing it hungrily. “You’re driving me crazy, I swear.”
“Stop it!” she shouted back, struggling. “You can’t do this!”
He lifted his gaze and suddenly a lightning lit the darkness, illuminating her face, her bright eyes, the tears in there. He froze for a second, then he abruptly let her go.
“Damn it!” he shouted, kicking a chair with fury.
She just stood there, shocked and unable to move or to say anything.
“What have you done to me?” He kept shouting, echoing the thunderstorm. “I can’t stay with you and I can’t stay without you. What kind of curse is this?”
Just a few steps and he was back on her, roughly cupping her face to fiercely kiss her again. “I can’t be with you. Do you get this? Do you?” he told her, his voice so full of pain she couldn’t stand it.
“No, I don’t!” she screamed, finding her voice again. “Why can’t you? Do you want to, or do you not? It’s all you have to know!”
“It isn’t that simple! My life isn’t simple! And I can’t afford to fall for you now. I can’t!”
She tried to say something, but his lips swallowed her words again. She wasn’t struggling anymore, just undergoing his assaults, feeling the pain, the despair in each one of them.
“Why not… tell me why not, Yi Jeong…” she whispered as soon as she was free again. Aware that his name had slipped for the first time without any title, she felt her face flare up, glad that he couldn’t see it.
As soon as he heard his name on her lips, his heart painfully twisted once more. He hugged her tightly, just wanting to feel her against him.
“Because I can’t afford to have you and then loose you because of my family.” the words escaped his lips without control. “Because I can’t bear this feeling, knowing it won’t last. Because you’re so deeply in me that when you’ll leave me, I won’t be able to take it. It will break me. You will break me.”
The light finally came back, and when he realised what he had said and done, Yi Jeong let Ga Eul go, a horrified expression on his face.
He stormed out of the kitchen, leaving her there and she heard him rummaging the pockets of her coat.
“Where are they? Give me those damn keys!” he screamed, hitting the wall.
She reached him, shaking and with tears in her eyes after what he told her, and he grabbed her arms, a desperate expression in his eyes.
“Open that door. Let me go!”
“Tell me you don’t like me.” she whispered, staring at him. “Look at me and tell me you don’t love me.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying. Open the door or I’ll knock it down!”
“Tell me you don’t love me and I’ll open it!” she cried, never leaving his eyes.
Yi Jeong opened his mouth to say the words that would have freed him, but nothing came out. He stayed there, chained to her eyes, trying to utter something, anything and then his heart threatened to break down, when he saw her coming near him. Her hands touched his cheeks, his forehead, brushed his hair, slid to his neck and settled on his shoulders.
For the first time in her life, Ga Eul shut down her mind who kept telling her how this was dangerous for her, even for them and went with the flow, closing her eyes and sofly touching his lips with hers.
With a low groan he embraced her, wishing that moment would last forever, wishing he could stay in her arms for the rest of his existence.
“Don’t cry.” he heard her whisper on his mouth and only then he realised she was gently stroking his cheek, following a tear that had escaped his eyes.
Unable to say anything, he just stared at her and then he slowly bent down to kiss her again. It was different this time. She caressed his mouth with hers, and when he parted his lips she followed him.
He felt her stiffen in his arms when their tongues finally met, but soon after, her arms tightened their grip on his shoulders and the moan she released destroyed his self control.
Yi Jeong lifted her against the wall and when he felt her legs lace up on his waist he let out a groan pressing his hips against hers, feeling her breaking the kiss and hiding her face in his neck. He let her down, leaning his forehead against her, trying to catch his breath and some of his senses, but then she slipped her hand in his and looked at him with her bright eyes.
There was no fear in them, no doubt, but an emotion so deep and pure, he felt his legs shaking.
“Come with me.” she whispered, leading him through the corridor.
“Ga Eul…” he stopped after some steps, but she reached him and lightly kissed him again, while holding his hands.
“Just come.” she repeated.
And Yi Jeong surrendering to his fate, followed her into her bedroom, closing the door behind them.