Yi Jeong wanted it to be over. Eun Jae’s return was deeply hurting him and Ga Eul’s withdrawal was literally killing him.
He loved his little white angel, he was sure of it. It had taken a long time to give in to that emotion, but now that he acknowledged his love for her, he didn’t intend to go back. Ga Eul was part of his heart and his life, there was no denying it.
And yet, why thinking about Eun Jae still had the power to make his heart race? He didn’t know if his childhood friend had changed in those three years, he didn’t know if she still loved him or if that feeling had faded but he knew he had to find out. As much as his heart, his mind, his everything just chanted for Ga Eul, Yi Jeong knew his country bumpkin was right. He couldn’t go back to her until he had found out the truth. She deserved a man who could love only her, not someone torn in doubts, someone afraid to face his past.
The only thing that was refraining him to go see Eun Jae at that very moment, was the torturous thought that in the end it could be really true: he was still in love with her. What would have happened to Ga Eul if he found out he still wanted Eun Jae? How could he tell her, after all she did for him? Ga Eul had endured his dark mood, his ups and downs, she had gifted herself to him with innocence, passion and most of all with trust. She gave him her heart, trusting him to take good care of it. How could he tell her that he loved another woman now?
I’m being a coward again, he scolded himself. And yet it was true. He was afraid. To hurt her. He couldn’t stand the thought of her tears, her broken heart.
Deep in his depressing thought, Yi Jeong barely noticed Jun Pyo coming in the lounge, until the Shinhwa heir placed himself right at the middle, grinning.
“You will never guess what happened.”
Raising his gaze, the potter saw his friend widely smiling, like he was on cloud nine and since a good news wasn’t something frequent nowadays, he smiled back. “What is it Jun Pyo?”
“I still can’t believe it.” It was all the answer he got.
“Spill the beans, bro, what happened?” Apparently Woo Bin, who had been playing darts, wasn’t luckier than Yi Jeong because Jun Pyo just started laughing to himself until Ji Hoo quietly spoke from a corner, barely lifting his gaze from his book. “Let him laugh some minutes more… I’m sure he’ll tell us what’s going on, eventually. When he feels we’re curious enough.”
Yi Jeong and Woo Bin chuckled and looked at Jun Pyo who turned to Ji Hoo outraged. “Hey you!”
When Ji Hoo just smiled at him, the Shinhwa heir muttered something under his breath and then sat down, crossing his legs. “Anyway! You will never believe it. Guess who’s living in my house since two days?”
The F3 just looked at each other and Ji Hoo closed his book, a slightly worried expression on his ever quiet face.
“Geum Jan Di!” Jun Pyo announced, his smile even wider.
“How?” Ji Hoo asked immediately. “What happened?”
Gu Jun Pyo’s smile faltered as he explained. “I just found out yesterday evening. I almost choked myself when I discovered who the new maid was.”
“A maid?” Ji Hoo’s voice was harsh now.
“My sister told me Geum Jan Di fainted on the streets two nights ago. My sister was calling her on the phone, so one of the people who rescued her answered the call and Noona immediately sent a car to bring her home.”
“She fainted?” Yi Jeong asked, worried. “What happened to her? Is she sick?”
Jun Pyo shook his head, this time a glint of anger in his eyes. “It’s my mother again. The Witch discovered I was living in the apartment next to Geum Jan Di and she ordered that the entire building would be demolished. Jan Di sent her brother to her parents but then she was homeless. Proud as she is, she didn’t tell anybody about what happened. She was lucky my sister found her.”
“But why is she a maid? I thought she would be a guest? Jun Hee Noona seems to like her very much.”
“Because she’s a stubborn weed, Yi Jeong. She insisted she wanted to work to pay her room and food.”
Woo Bin ironically smiled and raised his eyebrow. “Typical of Geum Jan Di. And now? What are you going to do? What if your mother comes back from her trip and finds her in your house?”
Jun Pyo’s voice was suddenly serious when he replied. “It won’t be easy but I have to make that stubborn girl understand that my engagement with Monkey is nothing to me. I want Jan Di to know she’s the one I want to be with. I need her back.”
They just stared at their friend, silently knowing he was serious. Jun Pyo had many flaws, but his feelings were always true. In a certain way, he was the bravest out of F4, never afraid to voice out what he was thinking or feeling and Yi Jeong envied him for that, he wished he had that kind of courage. Woo Bin and himself could be F4 playboys, but they knew deep inside they were afraid to really love someone, each of them for their own reasons. Jun Pyo never feared anything, and his boundless pride had nothing to do with
it. He wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of being rejected, he just knew he had to try with all he could, it was the way he was. The only problem was he had fallen in love with a girl just as pig-headed as him.
“She will never agree, you know.” Yi Jeong shook his head. “She values Monkey as her friend. Geum Jan Di is too loyal to ever step out and compete with her.”
Woo Bin’s eyes darkened at those last words and without even thinking he threw the last dart, storming to the door.
“Where are going?” Jun Pyo asked, bewildered.
“To fix this damn situation!” The mafia prince shouted back before closing the door.
Ji Hoo leaned against the chair, a troubled expression in his face, the book completely forgotten. “I hope he doesn’t mess it up even more.”
“What is he up to?”
“I don’t know Jun Pyo.” The White Knight answered. “But you know how much he cares for Jan Di. He will do anything in his power to help her. Is she safe at your place?”
Jun Pyo looked at him, feeling the usual twinge of pain in his heart. He knew Ji Hoo was in love with his Jan Di and that he was fighting to win her over and yet he couldn’t hate him. Who couldn’t help but love that laundry girl? She was so brave and strong and yet sweet and caring. Jun Pyo still loved his best friend, but he couldn’t just give Jan Di up, she was the first girl that ever mattered something to him and he fully intended to take care of her for the rest of his life, as hard as it seemed right now.
I’m sorry, Ji Hoo, but she’s mine. I’m not going to give her to you so easily.
“Yes, she is.” He nodded without adding anything else.
Feeling the sudden tension between his two friends, Yi Jeong stood up too, waving goodbye to both of them.
“And where are you going now? What is this, a mass flee?” The Shinhwa heir complained, slightly resentful.
Yi Jeong smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “Just something I need to do. I delayed it long enough and it’s time to fix it, like Woo Bin said.”
Ji Hoo nodded knowingly and called out to him. “Good luck.”
After Yi Jeong went out, Jun Pyo sat down, perplexed. “Did I miss something here?”
It was the first time someone of F4 ever invited her to have a coffee, if Jae Kyung excluded Woo Bin and Yi Jeong’s rather transparent attempt at distracting her attention from Jun Pyo. The invitation, coming from no other than Don Juan, slightly worried her because she hadn’t forgotten his question during the Truth or Dare game. Was she hurting somebody in her pursuit of Gu Jun Pyo? She had suspects, but she had been very careful never to confirm them: one thing was not knowing the truth, another one to deliberately ignore it.
And yet, the worm of doubt was eating her alive: Jan Di’s awkwardness around her and Jun Pyo, Jun Pyo’s statement that he already liked somebody, Jan Di telling her about her boyfriend in Macau. The clues were all there, but she stubbornly refused to put them together. Jun Pyo was her fiance now, the man she was going to marry and she liked him enough to be happy about it. If Don Juan, with his stupid questions, was trying to make her doubt about her actions, he was really mistaken.
Jae Kyung straightened her back and proudly raised her chin, when she saw Woo Bin approaching her table, already smiling at her. She kind of liked that smile, it made his face look younger. More innocent maybe too and that was the most dangerous thing, because she knew the Mafia Prince was nothing like innocent.
“Yo Monkey.” He greeted her, sitting down at her table and, in spite of herself, Jae Kyung smiled back.
“Yo-Man?” Woo Bin looked at her, slightly amused and the heiress chuckled.
“Well, all of you call me Monkey, so I think I have the right to nickname you too! And since you always greet people saying “yo”, then you are the Yo-Man.”
“I guess it suits me.” Woo Bin chuckled too, then pointed at the waitress. “Have you already ordered?”
“My coffee has just arrived. So… why did you want to meet me?”
Ordering a coffee too and sending the waitress away, Woo Bin stared at Jae Kyung, with his wolvish smile still in place. “You’re very direct, aren’t you?”
“Just sparing time.” She shrugged. “As much as I appreciated the day I spent with you and Yi Jeong, I don’t want to repeat the experience, if you’re still trying to make me fall for you.”
This time Woo Bin couldn’t refrain his laughter but quickly shook his head, still laughing. “No, it’s not like that. And to be honest, I still haven’t forgiven you. My stomach hurt for two days after our outing.”
“You got what you deserved.” She seraphicly answered, sipping her coffee, just when his own arrived at the table.
“Maybe.” Woo Bin conceded, adding some sugar to his cup.
“So, what’s this about, Yo-Man?”
“I asked you out for a very serious matter.” There was no kind way to say it and he knew he had to be blunt if he wanted her to listen. He was tired of that endless drama, it was time to put an end to it. Sadly she was the designed victim. Woo Bin looked at her directly in the eyes and the smile died on his lips as he spoke the words. “You can’t marry Jun Pyo. You have to withdraw and you have to do it now.”
“Sit down Monkey.” He ordered, grabbing her wrist before she could walk away. Woo Bin had anticipated her reaction and was ready to counter it.
“Who do you think you are to talk to me like that?” Jae Kyung’s heart was loudly beating in her ears and her eyes were flaming in fury, looking at him from her full height.
“I told you to sit down. You aren’t a child anymore and this is not something you can just ignore on a whim. We’re talking about my best friend’s future.”
His eyes were cold now and that boyish aura around him was dissolved. Jae Kyung sat down again, clenching her fists, just wishing she could smash them on his face.
“So. Let’s hear it. Why shouldn’t I marry him?” She asked, as cold as ice. In the end, running away was useless. She still remembered that night with Jun Pyo when she put her hands over her ears not to hear, but sooner or later she would have had to. It could as well be now.
Woo Bin slowly exhaled, grateful that he didn’t have to run after her, making a scene for all people to see.
It was already unpleasant enough, without public. “Because he doesn’t love you. He never will. You will both be miserable if you force him to marry you.”
“I’m not forcing him!” She protested. “This engagement wasn’t my decision.”
“And yet, you didn’t call it off. You agreed to date him.”
“Because I like him. Because I think we’re a good match.”
“You could be.” Woo Bin nodded, reluctantly. “You’re not bad together, if you manage to not kill each other.”
“See? Why this nonsense then? I can make him happy, just give me enough time.”
The mafia prince sighed, wishing that could be true. Too bad he knew Jun Pyo since he was five years old and never once he saw that particular look in his eyes that only sparkled when he was with Geum Jan Di.
“You’re too late, Monkey.” Woo Bin slowly said, deeply hating what he was doing. He liked Jae Kyung. She was a bright, shiny woman and she deserved someone to love her properly and not an arranged wedding with a man who could never give her all his heart. “Jun Pyo is in love with someone else.”
And as the only answer he got was silence, the mafia prince narrowed his eyes. “You already know.”
That was a surprise. Jae Kyung was a proud woman, judging from what he saw until now. How could she accept being married to a man who was clearly in love with someone else? Could it be possible that she liked Jun Pyo to the extent of sacrificing her own pride to have him? Or was she just stubborn, like a child who wanted the new shiny toy?
“I don’t!” Jae Kyung bursted as soon as she recovered her voice. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be really true. “You’re just trying to get rid of me, because Jun Pyo thinks he’s not ready to be married. You’re lying!”
“Cut it, Monkey! You know it’s true and I bet you even know who the girl is!”
“I don’t! I don’t! I don’t!”
With that last pained cry, Jae Kyung stood up once again, ready to run, but before she could move a single step, Woo Bin stopped her.
“Geum Jan Di is homeless now.”
The heiress abruptly stopped but she didn’t turn to Woo Bin, just trying to keep breathing.
“It’s because of Jun Pyo’s mother. She never approved of their relationship.” The mafia prince pressed on, knowing it was his last chance. “When she understood they were serious about each other, she did her best to separate them. Her parents had to leave and two days ago she had Geum Jan Di’s room demolished. She won’t ever stop, she will use Jun Pyo’s love for Jan Di to blackmail him into marrying you. And that stubborn girl likes you, she respects you. She will never do anything to be with Jun Pyo again, even if she’s deeply hurting now.”
Woo Bin stood up and walked to her, to look in her eyes. “I’m sorry Monkey, but this is the truth. Geum Jan Di and Jun Pyo are in love since almost a year and I never saw my friend so happy as when he was together with her. If you don’t withdraw, if you don’t side with Jan Di against Jun Pyo’s mother, Jan Di’s life will be destroyed. Jun Pyo will forever hate you if you force him to marry you, allowing his mother to win.”
Jae Kyung was still silent, but the brightness in her eyes was slowly dying, to be replaced by tears. Woo Bin had to suppress the sudden istinct to run his hand in that short hair and draw her in his embrace. “You know the truth now. No longer hide from it. If you value Geum Jan Di’s friendship, if you really want her and Jun Pyo to be happy, you know what you have to do. Think about it. Please.”
The heiress never looked at him, but slowly walked away, without uttering a single word.
Woo Bin hit the table with his closed fist when she disappeared, cursing under his breath.
He really hated himself now. He really was a heartless bastard.