The plane was silent. No words were uttered, nobody even dared to. But the silence spoke volumes.
Yi Jeong was asleep near Ga Eul, his face fully carrying the signs of the stressful days they were going through. Looking around, Ga Eul could see Jan Di, pale and still, looking out of the window, probably dreading the sight of the approaching Jeju Island. Poor Jan Di. That was plainly cruel and Ga Eul still couldn’t believe Jae Kyung could be that mean. Why ask her to come to the wedding? And to be her bridesmaid, most of all?
She still remembered the day Jan Di told her Jae Kyung knew everything. The day she found her and Jun Pyo on his bed, the day she told her she wasn’t going to give Jun Pyo up. Ga Eul could understand that, Jae Kyung was in love with Jun Pyo after all. But inviting Jan Di to the wedding was something only Madame Kang would do!
And to think… Ga Eul swallowed, looking at the sleeping man at her side. Being with him was a wonderful dream but she was never more aware than in that moment that it could suddenly turn into a nightmare. They had been careful and nobody stepped in their way since the day he gifted her his crown ring, but could it last? Or maybe some day…
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.
Those words echoed in her mind, causing her to shiver. She softly bit her lower lip, trying to suppress the tears she was suddenly feeling in her eyes and deeply breathing in.
That was true. Jan Di wasn’t the bride. She had the perfect example of how things were going to end between her and Yi Jeong and just that thought was enough to break her heart. In that silent plane, Ga Eul had to admit that wasn’t a fairytale. That was reality. And in the real world, chaebols weren’t allowed to marry commoners.
A slight jolt of the plane snapped the girl away from her thoughts and she shook her head, turning to Jan Di once again. That wasn’t the time to think about her personal life. She had to look after her best friend now. She had to be strong for her.
Just behind Ga Eul, someone else was deep in his thoughts and they weren’t happy ones.
It can’t be, Woo Bin’s mind kept chanting over and over. No, it couldn’t be. Monkey couldn’t get married. She just couldn’t.
The last weeks they had been close, hell she was the only girl he ever shared something with, except for his bed. And yet, it was like Jae Kyung was playing two different games at the same time. True to his word, he spent time with her, dinners, afternoons… and on the other hand, while she was having fun with him she accepted to bring forward the date of the wedding. And she begged him, with those wide eyes of hers, not to ask any questions.
Bit by bit, talking with her, Woo Bin was finding out more and more of her character: she was a strong willed girl, but she was hiding a deep sensitivity, and the crushing fear of being left alone. He smiled recalling their fun times, the jokes at dinner, the time she challenged him to a swimming race (what was with girls and swimming races?) and… that time she fell asleep on him, watching a movie together. His heart missed a beat remembering the peaceful look of her face on his shoulder, her relaxed body, the quiet breathing. The silk of her hair when he raised a hand to touch it, the velvet of her cheeks when he slightly brushed it. The alluring flame of her lips when he dared to trace them with his finger just to quickly retreat as if he felt it burn. That image had haunted his dreams for days and still had the power to make him hold his breath. He wasn’t Yi Jeong who tried to deny his feelings for the country bumpkin to the point he almost ruined everything. No, Prince Song wasn’t scared to admit the Monkey was a special person, someone who carved out a niche for herself in his heart and comfortably settled in. And that actually made everything worse. Trapped between his best friend and the girl he was starting to cherish, he was powerless. He couldn’t force her anymore to withdraw from the wedding, because he cared for her. He wanted to see her happy. He still strongly believed that was a huge mistake, but everytime he looked at her, the words just strangled in his throat and the only thing he could concentrate on was to make their time together as fun as possible.
Trapped, he was trapped. And the only thing he could do now was denying it in his mind over and over again.
It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be. Monkey couldn’t get married. She just couldn’t.
How far are you willing to go? Jun Hee asked him. How far does it have to be? Jun Pyo replied.
But he already knew it. It was the one rule of his golden world: accept the parents will or be forever cast out. Jun Pyo was ready. In that moment, it couldn’t be clearer than that. Comparing Jan Di to the Gu family, to his household, his priviledges… they were nothing. And yet, standing there, in the chapel where he was going to be married the next day, he was hopeless. One thing Jun Pyo was used to do since the day he was born: take. Take everything he wanted, not caring if he hurted someone in the process. It was the way he was taught since he was a child. But now that changed. Geum Jan Di changed him. He didn’t even know how, but that stubborn laundry girl awoke the human part of him, the one hidden under loneliness and selfishness. With her, he found out what laughing meant, and what crying meant. What love meant. And now he was paying the price for it. Not for loving her… no. For being a better man than he was. When the crystal clear answer about what was really important in his life showed itself, he felt powerless about it.
Jun Pyo could have simply stood up, walked to Jan Di’s room and took her with him away from Jeju Island. That was what the old Jun Pyo would have done. The new Jun Pyo couldn’t. Because it wasn’t just a matter of him and Jan Di… Jae Kyung was in it too. And Jae Kyung didn’t deserve to suffer.
He didn’t love Monkey, but he respected her and he just couldn’t deal her that fatal blow without even talking to her.
What good was it? He silently asked himself, still knelt down. She refused to listen. Worse. She listened and understood. And she didn’t change her mind.
She knew he was in love with Jan Di, perhaps she always did, but she wanted to marry him all the same, willing to wait for him to fall for her. Something that could never happen. He could learn to live with her, he could respect and even care for her, but his love was forever out of her reach. And yet, there was nothing he could do. Refusing to marry her would just mean disaster and Jan Di could never accept a less than honorable solution. Not for the first time, Gu Jun Pyo cursed his fate for putting Geum Jan Di on his path and for allowing her to change him. His life was so much simpler when he was just his heartless, selfish old self. And closing his eyes in the chapel, he thanked fate just for the same reason. Because of Jan Di he knew what having a heart meant. Even now that it was breaking.
“Are you really going to marry him?”
The voice in the dark startled her, as well as the hand blocking her from lighting up the hotel room. She didn’t yell though, she recognized who it was. Then Jae Kyung felt the door closing behind her and the room fell in the complete darkness.
“Are you going to stop me?” She whispered, feeling a shiver down her spine.
“Maybe I should.” Woo Bin’s hand left her own and she felt a light caress all over her arms, raising up to her bare shoulders. The hands closed on her flesh, pulling her to him until her back was leaning on his chest.
“You shouldn’t be here.” A slight tremor broke her voice. She was tired. First the confrontation with Jan Di, then Jun Pyo… now him. And weird enough she felt this was the hardest one. Those past weeks with him had been perfect… she felt cared for, they laughed together, and that time she fell asleep she remembered the feeling of being safe with him, protected. Now Woo Bin was so near she could touch him and then again it felt like he was on the moon, unreachable. Like she was betraying him.
The Mafia Prince leaned his head on her own, whispering in her ear. “No, you’re right. I should be far away, I should kidnap you now and stop all this madness.”
Jae Kyung tried to laugh, suddenly feeling weak in his arms but he cut her laughter. “This is not a joke. Are you really going to marry him?”
“Please go away.” She managed to whisper, taking a step to the door again. She couldn’t stand it. She could stand to see the pain in Jan Di’s eyes, she could stand to see the begging in Jun Pyo’s gaze, but she couldn’t stand to feel the silent flame burning in Woo Bin, the one that most of all was shouting she was making the biggest mistake of her life.
She barely moved before he grabbed her arm, suddenly turning her around and fiercely embracing her, a hand on her hair pressing her to his shoulder, the other on her waist, keeping her close. She froze in his arms and an unexpected moan escaped her throat. As if on cue, Woo Bin tightened his grip on her, burying his face in her hair, brushing her neck with his lips, inhaling her scent.
“I want to kiss you so much that it hurts.” He murmured in her ear again, shuddering with her. “Jae Kyung, don’t do it. Don’t marry him.”
A moment later he was gone and she was alone in her room again.