Jan Di had been waiting for the right time since she entered the porridge shop, but since the restaurant was full of people for once, she was forced to wait. In the meantime she kept throwing glances in Ga Eul’s direction and every time their eyes met, her friend would avert her gaze.
She knew something was going on, she wasn’t that stupid and the changes she could see in Ga Eul in just a week, scared her a bit.
The day after telling her of that awful bet with So Yi Jeong, Ga Eul had been silent but being best friends since kindergarten, Jan Di knew she was really angry. And if Ga Eul thought she had fooled her with her lie about another sleepless night, she was sadly mistaken. The only reason Jan Di hadn’t pressed on with her questions was because she knew something must have happened and that her friend needed time to think about it.
Whatever it was, it seemed like Ga Eul got over it, because during the week she had recovered, even though Jan Di could see she was more pensive than usual, frequently not even hearing her when she was asking questions or just talking to her.
And since So Yi Jeong was the only topic she refused to discuss with her, Jan Di knew this was about him.
Had he told her something? Had he tried to kiss her? Or something even worse?
Now knowing the story of their fake dates, Jan Di couldn’t deny So Yi Jeong showed some care for her friend. The way he helped her getting definitely rid of Gong Su Pyo, not only physically but also emotionally, the kindness in all his gestures on their second date, the smiles on the ice rink, the fireworks… and still she couldn’t trust him. She remembered the way he was always surrounded by women at the parties she had been to, but that wasn’t the main reason she didn’t want him to hang around Ga Eul. She always thought of Yi Jeong as a good guy, even if a vain one, but the bet he had made with her best friend was clearly intended to lure her in his bed, to humiliate her. What kind of good guy could do that to a girl? And what if he actually managed to win? What would he do then? He would probably just reject Ga Eul, once he got what he wanted.
And the evening before he had dragged her away.
If not for the promise she made to Ga Eul, she would have kicked him out of her room, forbidding him to ever direct so much as a glance in her best friend’s direction again.
She wasn’t going to let that playboy hurt her.
Jan Di snorted when Ga Eul avoided to look at her for the umpteenth time that afternoon and picked up the plates and bowls from a table, going to the kitchen afterwards.
The restaurant was finally empty and after cleaning the table, Jan Di chuckled looking at her best friend’s face.
“I won’t eat you alive, you know.” She teased her and Ga Eul raised her gaze managing to look guilty.
“So, Miss Chu.” Jan Di started, taking advantage of their being alone. “What happened yesterday evening? Did Yi Jeong sunbae hurt you?”
“No! We just talked.” Was the immediate answer.
“So why aren’t you looking at me?” Jan Di was trying to meet her gaze, but Ga Eul kept tossing her head.
“Maybe because you’re a terrible liar and you know that?”
Watching Ga Eul suddenly blush, Jan Di pointed her finger on her. “See? Now spill it out. The truth. Only the truth. Nothing but the truth. Got it?”
“Really, we just talked.” Ga Eul tried again. “He felt like I was teasing him with my first kiss tale and you know Yi Jeong sunbae, he doesn’t like to be made fun of.”
Jan Di watched her carefully, feeling her temper raising. Ga Eul was lying again, she could tell miles away and she didn’t like it one bit. How could So Yi Jeong change her so deeply in just a week? What kind of girl was she becoming?
“Fine.” She picked up her phone, starting dialing. “Then I’ll ask him directly.”
“No!” Ga Eul rushed to her, stealing the phone and sighed in relief when she saw Jan Di was just typing random numbers.
“Then stop lying to me!” Her best friend shouted. “We know each other since we were children, you’re like my sister and I can’t stand you lie to me! What is he doing to you? What he is changing you into? I don’t like this new Chu Ga Eul so change back immediately!”
“I’m sorry.” Ga Eul lowered her head, handing the phone back. “I didn’t want to lie… it’s just complicated.”
“Then make it simple.” Jan Di ordered her. “And start from last week.”
“What about last week?” Ga Eul asked, trying to mask her uneasiness.
“Listen.” Jan Di narrowed her eyes and threw the cleaning cloth on the table. “If you thought I bought your lie about another sleepless night, think again. I played dumb for your benefit, waiting for you to open up, but you never did! And yesterday you teased So Yi Jeong in front of everyone, even going so far as to defy him openly. So, now you are going to explain to me exactly what’s happening, or I’ll get the truth from him, as soon as he recovers from my spinning kick. Got it?”
Ga Eul merely nodded, sitting down. She didn’t like to see Jan Di so angry, mostly because she knew it was her fault. Her friend was just worried for her and with her lies she was making it worse. Time to tell the truth, like she planned with Yi Jeong.
Well, maybe not the whole truth.
“Last week he invited me to dinner.” She started, speaking slowly and thinking carefully about what she could reveal and what not. “It was actually fun, we told each other stories and we laughed. I thought that was a good start, that he was dropping his guard down a bit.”
She frowned and Jan Di sat down by her, pressing on. “And then?”
“Then we stopped by his workshop.” Ga Eul looked at her best friend slightly biting her bottom lip and sighed. “There are things I can’t tell you. Not because I don’t want to, but because they are part of Yi Jeong sunbae private life. You have to ask him if you want to know.”
There was some moment of silence, but then Jan Di nodded to Ga Eul great relief. “Just tell me what you can. I won’t ask you to reveal any secrets, but I need to know what’s happening, do you understand? I’m worried about you, Ga Eul.”
“I know.” The other girl smiled at her. “Just so you know, I planned to talk to you today… you just anticipated it.”
That was good to hear. Whatever So Yi Jeong was doing to her, Ga Eul didn’t forget she was her best friend and that she could trust her. Feeling definitely relieved, Jan Di smiled as well.
“So what happened in the workshop?”
“Let’s just say we argued.” Ga Eul answered, glossing over the details. There was no way she would ever tell Jan Di about that horrible night, if she didn’t want to attend to Yi Jeong funeral ahead of time.
“We badly argued. It was so bad that we avoided each other in the next days.”
“That’s why you were so angry then.” Jan Di assumed. “But you must have made up, because yesterday you were relaxed around him. Well, before the truth or dare game.”
Ga Eul nodded and prepared to deal with the more dangerous part of the story. “Since the guys wanted to do something for you, we gathered at the lounge the day before painting your room and we had a meeting to decide what to do. It was the first time I saw him since that night and I still didn’t know if I had forgiven him or not.”
“Was Gu Jun Pyo there as well?” Jan Di bit her lip after asking that question, cursing herself. Why was she keeping on hurting herself that way? Ga Eul’s sad smile and the shacking of her head, told her everything she wanted to know. Of course he wasn’t there. His mother had probably locked him up, or he was with Jae Kyung.
“Yi Jeong sunbae brought me home that night.” Ga Eul kept relating after Jan Di motioned her to go on.
She felt almost guilty now. How could she tell her about how happy she was, when Jan Di was so miserable?
“We argued again, mostly about the week before, and he drove away, leaving me on my doorstep.” Ga Eul deeply breathed in, feeling her cheeks suddenly hotter. “I went inside and some minute later, someone knocked the door. It was him. I opened the door and…”
Ga Eul looked down, unable to stare Jan Di out. “He kissed me.”
Jan Di blinked, feeling her words sink deeper. Then she sprang up, her eyes on flame.
“He did what?” she shouted on top of her lungs. Good thing the shop was empty and there were no glasses nearby or the sheer power of her voice would have shattered them.
“Then he entered my apartment and we talked again.” Ga Eul carefully avoided to repeat the word ‘kiss’ since Jan Di was already dangerously close to have a heart attack.
“Wait, you let him in? Ga Eul!” Jan Di’s fist were closed and her expression was clearly disapproving.
“I actually locked him in with me.” she answered, preparing for another outburst.
“Are you crazy?” Jan Di shouted again. Did she loose her mind? Locked him up?
“I was tired of his excuses! Every time we were reaching some topic he didn’t want to talk about, he just run away. I wanted some answers, so I made sure he couldn’t escape this time.”
Jan Di groaned and sat down again, hiding her face in her hands. “Where did my Chu Ga Eul go? The serious girl, the sensible one? Where did you hide her?”
She suddenly paled when images of Ga Eul and Yi Jeong locked up in the house flashed her and she frantically asked. “What did he do to you? If he touched you even with one finger, I’ll kill him!”
“We just shouted at each other, and the storm outside didn’t help. You know how much thunders frighten me.” Ga Eul grabbed one of Jan Di’s hands in hers, making sure she couldn’t bolt to the door after hearing what was coming next. “I admit things got scary at some point. But maybe it was the push he needed.”
“To do what?” Jan Di’s voice was almost shrill.
“He admitted he has feelings for me. And he stayed for the night.”
That was it. F4 or not, promise or not, he was going to die. Jan Di broke free from Ga Eul’s grip and marched to the door but Ga Eul run to her, grabbing her arm.
“To sleep! We just slept! We didn’t do anything!” Well, almost. But she wasn’t going to tell her that.
“Who do you want to fool? That stupid, arrogant, conceited Casanova just slept with you and didn’t try anything else? I’ll never believe it!”
Ga Eul’s grip on her arm tightened, she wasn’t going to let her go. “I swear! We slept Jan Di. Nothing else. And he finally admitted he feels something for me!”
“Yes, I know what he feels!” Jan Di shouted. “Don’t you see this is just a set up? He wants to win that bet, that’s all!”
“That’s not it!” Ga Eul released her and shouted back, definitely angry. “You weren’t there, you can’t know! He was telling the truth! And yesterday night, he told me he loves me!”
Jan Di looked at her wide eyed. “He told you what?”
“He said he loves me.” Ga Eul repeated. “He said he always tried to push me away because he’s afraid of what his family could do, but yesterday something changed. He promised me we will fight together, that he will never leave me. Right now I think he’s telling his friends about us, like I’m doing with you.”
Jan Di stepped back, clearly shaken and when she raised her gaze to Ga Eul again, her eyes were full of tears.
“Don’t do this, Ga Eul.” she whispered. “Don’t fall in love with him. It will be nothing but trouble and tears and then his family will just set him up with another girl and you will want to die.”
Ga Eul hugged her tightly, feeling her eyes burning as well.
“You will be left behind.” Jan Di was still talking, clearly crying now. “There will be nothing you can do, except watching him get married with someone else. Your whole life, your family, all you ever knew will be ruined, you won’t be able to breathe, to live, to let it go. Your heart will ache so much that you will wonder why it still keeps beating, why can’t you just die and be free of the pain. Don’t do that Ga Eul. You’re still in time to save yourself. At least you.”
Ga Eul shook her head, feeling the tears falling down. Jan Di’s pain was tearing her heart apart. “I love him. It’s already too late. I love him with all my heart and there’s no turning back now.”
It took some time for them to stop crying and be able to talk again. They were exhausted, like they run for thousands of miles without ever stopping and their heart was full of uncertainty.
“What are you going to do now?” Jan Di asked, her eyes still puffy and red.
“I don’t know.” Ga Eul replied, blowing her nose for the umpteenth time. “Just stay with him I guess and hope I’ll be able to hold on when our relationship will come out in the open.”
“Are you sure he won’t withdraw?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
“He couldn’t be given a choice, you know.”
“We’ll deal with that when it happens, Jan Di.” Ga Eul firmly answered. “We know it won’t be easy, but we’re prepared. Yi Jeong sunbae won’t let anything and anybody come between us, he promised me.”
“I promised Gu Jun Pyo too.” Jan Di bitterly smiled. “I promised him that his mother would never be the reason of our break up. But in the end, I couldn’t do anything to avoid it.”
Ga Eul hold her hand and tried to smile. “Don’t give up yet. He’s not married and he clearly still loves you.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps I still love him and he still loves me. But it doesn’t matter in the end. Someone like me and someone like him, we live in different worlds and there’s no way we can build a bridge between us, no matter how hard we try.”
“I hope it will be different for you Ga Eul, that his family will be like Ji Hoo sunbae’s grandfather.” She smiled sadly to her best friend, hating to do this to her but knowing it was necessary. “But look at me now and think carefully about what you see, because I’m not the bride. I will never be the bride. I’m not going to have my happy ending with the guy I love.”
Ga Eul lowered her gaze, trying not to cry again. It was true, she was scared. Jan Di was suffering so much and there was no visible way out. It could happen to her too. There was a possibility that her happiness wouldn’t last but a few days. That Yi Jeong would be soon forced to marry another girl and leave her forever.
Could she just stay behind and watch his bride walk down the aisle, knowing it wasn’t her?
A single tear rolled down her cheek and Jan Di tenderly dried it up.
“You have to be ready.” She whispered. “But whatever happens, I will always be by your side. You’ll never be alone.”
“You neither.” Ga Eul murmured back.
She stood up to hug her again and they stayed like that, clinging to each other and to the thought of the two men that, like living earthquakes, had changed their lives forever.
Because Ga Eul was right and Jan Di had always known that.
There was no turning back.