Ga Eul almost fell on the carpet when the man who was dragging her pushed her forward, in the office at the second floor of Seventh Heaven. It was a huge room, designed for comfort. An expensive stereo system was sofly humming in the background, a set of black velvet couches faced the flat television in the corner and art pictures were hanging all over the walls.
A handsome man was sitting at the table near the farthest wall, his brown hair carefully styled, his grey suit without a single fold. He was neatly writing a document but when the door opened and his men pulled Ga Eul inside, he put down the paper and carefully examined her. He arched an eyebrow noticing the tears in her dress, but he didn’t stand up, just leaning against the chair and shutting the music down.
“What happened?” he asked in a calm voice.
“The groom’s friends assaulted her. She cried for help. Two men came to the rescue and brought her to a separate room. Then we retrieved her and brought her back.” The report was flat, the man in black didn’t even change expression while talking. “The men who helped her were Song Woo Bin and So Yi Jeong. Two of the F4.”
“You may go now. Leave us alone.” The man’s eyes never left Ga Eul while the bodyguards deeply bowed and left the room.
After the door closed, the man stood up, slowly walking to Ga Eul. “So… It seems it was an interesting party. An assault and then the F4. Impressive. Now let’s hear your version, sweetheart.”
The girl’s eyes were fixed on the floor and when she finally talked, her voice cracked on some words.
“The groom didn’t know his friends bought me for him. He was actually very shy and didn’t let me touch him. His friends were drunk and when they realised the groom had no intention of sleeping with me, one of them assaulted me, throwing me on the floor and tearing up my dress while the others were clapping in the background.”
“You cried for help.” The man’s voice was icy now.
“I was afraid.” She whispered. “That crowd was crazy, I was scared they could beat me up.”
“All you had to do was stay still and let them do what they wanted.” The man folded his arms on his chest, walking around her in circles. “It’s not the first time you went to a bachelor’s party, you know how it can evolve. Right?”
Her face wriggled in deep disgust and she raised her gaze, looking straight ahead. “I was paid to sleep with the groom, Su Pyo, not with all the guests in the house. Otherwise your proverbial business sense just went on holiday since my price wasn’t that high to cover all those guys.”
“The boys would have rescued you soon enough.” Su Pyo stopped in front of her, his eyes still calm. “You do realise that the people who paid for you could come here and ask their money back, don’t you? We don’t need that kind of advertisement.”
“Then bring the groom here and I’ll sleep with him. You may have to drug him, though, he wasn’t that willing.”
“Don’t play smart on me, Ga Eul. You are in this business since six years now, you perfectly know how to lure a man to your bed, even if he isn’t willing to.”
When the girl didn’t reply, Su Pyo smiled ironically. “Oh I see. You weren’t in the mood tonight. Still playing the Little Virgin Princess? Do you need to be reminded you’re a full grown up woman, you aren’t a princess and most of all you aren’t virgin anymore? Accept it Ga Eul, once and for all.”
Her hands closed in fists, but she didn’t say anything, just fighting back the tears. Su Pyo forbade crying in his presence.
“And what about the Charming Princes?”
“What about them?” She replied, trying to keep her face neutral and thanking the heavens he never found out about her relationship with Yi Jeong. “They just helped me when they heard me cry. I guess they didn’t want to witness a group rape.”
“And none other than two of the F4. You actually managed to be saved by my direct rival, Song Woo Bin. I think I’m jealous.”
Su Pyo gathered her in his arms, his fingers slowly caressing the golden skin of her bare back. “You’re my favourite, Ga Eul, but sometime I think you forget what your place is.”
A slow trail of kisses on her neck emphasized his words and when he suddenly let her go and turned up again the music from the stereo system on the wall, Ga Eul softly bit her lip, knowing what would come next.
“You know what would happen if you annoy me, right? You know you have to stay the best here if you don’t want to face the consequences? You remember that? Answer me, Ga Eul.”
“I do.” she whispered, but that wasn’t enough.
“Louder, my dear, and look at me.”
Fighting the lump in her throat she raised her gaze and found her owner’s eyes, full of lust.
“I do remember.” she said again, a cold shiver down her spine.
“Good.” Su Pyo sat down on the comfortable couch and crossed his legs, licking his lips in anticipation.
“Now dance for me, sweetheart. Show me you’re still Seventh Heaven best shot. Show me I have no reason to doubt you.”
Ga Eul closed her eyes and a lonely tear rolled down her cheek. Quickly drying it up with her hand, she forced her body to move, like she did every night.
And, like she expected, no more than two minutes later Su Pyo pinned her on the couch, hungrily crashing his mouth on hers.
It was late that night when Ga Eul was finally allowed to go to her room to rest. Her pink dress was now torn beyond repair and she threw it in the trash can without even looking at it. Absent mindedly she took a shower, listening to the quiet sound of the water splashing down her body, not daring to scrub herself too much. She had learnt that lesson at the beginning, no amount of showers could erase Su Pyo’s stench from her skin. Or the smell of any of her customers, for what mattered. And Su Pyo hated to see any mark on her skin, another lesson she had learnt in the most painful way possible.
After drying up her hair, she switched on her phone and found three missed calls from her sister. She switched it off again with a sigh, it was too late to call her now, Kyoung Mi was probably already asleep.
Laid on the bed, she slowly curled up finally letting go all the tears she wasn’t allowed to shed with Su Pyo. Deep, harrowing sobs escaped her throat and Ga Eul hid her face in her hands, crying her heart out.
After six years she should be used to her life, she knew it. But that night the past had come back and she wasn’t ready to face it.
So Yi Jeong. Her sweet summer fling, the memory she treasured deep in her heart.
The one man she ever loved.
Ga Eul cried harder, stifling her moans on her pillow and her heart shattered again, the way it did the day she called him to tell him she was getting married.
His shocked expression when he lifted her mask earlier that night was forever impressed in her mind as well as her inability to stop him. She had been frozen, unable to even lift a finger, secretely longing to look at his handsome face again and remember the happy days they had spent together when she had been innocent and pure.
Deep in her heart she already knew that was the last time she was going to see him. A last gift from her lost love.
Because she lied to him and now he knew it. Now he knew what kind of woman she had become.
Now he hated her for sure.
It was the most expensive hotel of Seoul, she knew it for sure. After all it wasn’t the first time she visited it since Seventh Heaven had opened up. All her customers were part of the social elite and when they bought her for the night, this was the place she was asked to reach since the expensive, almost prohibitive price of the suites ensured the privacy of the customers. She didn’t know anything about the man who bought her that night. All she knew was her price had skyrocketed during her performance, and that he had paid cash using another person to deliver the money. Even the suite was booked under a fake name.
That wasn’t so unusual, many of her customers were rich men who didn’t want their wives to discover about their little hobbies, so she almost never knew who she was going to face when she entered the hotel room.
Deeply breathing in, Ga Eul prepared her best smile, trying to mask the deep hole she felt in her heart and to stop the shivering of her hands. Seeing Yi Jeong again the night before had opened a wound she had tried to ignore for the past six years and now she was feeling like a novice again, like the girl she had been when she first crossed a door like that.
Sensing her hesitation, one of the bodyguards opened the door for her and roughly pushed her inside, closing it behind her. She knew they would have stayed there the whole time, waiting for her to come out and ready to beat the crap out of the man if he had left a mark on her. Those two guys had saved her from crazy customers more than once, but she couldn’t feel any gratitude towards them because she knew she was just a job in their eyes, a walking bag of money, a slave to protect because she was useful. And she had to keep being useful, she couldn’t do otherwise.
The suite was luxurious as always, a little apartment that she had crossed more than once. The entrance was empty as was the living room and that was leaving only the bedroom: her customer was there for sure.
Slowly walking, her heels sinking in the soft carpet, she approached the bedroom and found the door already open and the lights on.
“May I?” she asked stepping in, finally seeing the man she was supposed to sleep with.
He was looking out of the window and when he turned around she felt her knees go limp and her mouth dry up. The world started spinning around her, the sounds shut down, his frame suddenly deformed in her eyes and she finally fainted, falling on the floor without a sound.
The next thing she knew was a soft bed under her body, a warm hand caressing her cheek and a worried voice calling her.
She slowly opened her eyes again focusing on the face above her, that black hair she missed so much messing with, the pointy nose she always teased, those full lips she loved kissing and those charcoal eyes, mirroring his every feeling.
“Yi Jeong sunbae…” She whispered, still not fully awake. “If this is a dream, please never wake me up…”
“It’s not a dream.” She heard him answer, his voice thick with emotion. “And I’ll never leave you alone again, Ga Eul yang.”
Her eyes filled with tears and she felt his hands lifting her up until she was in his embrace, breathing in his scent, her mind screaming she was awake and he wasn’t going to fade in thin air.
“Are you ok now? Are you feeling dizzy again?” he asked after a lifetime of holding her. He couldn’t believe she was finally in his arms again. His heart was threatening to stop beating at any moment, his mind completely lost and barely able to keep his body going.
Ga Eul shook her head and found enough voice to ask for a glass of water which he immediately supplied, supporting her while she was drinking. His hand never left hers and he tenderly dried her tears with his thumb, lightly caressing her cheeks before drawing her in his arms again.
“I missed you so much.” Yi Jeong whispered in her hair, firmly pressing her against him. “Why did you disappear? Why did you lie to me? Didn’t you trust me?”
Ga Eul closed her eyes, barely able to breath and just longing to raise her arms to hold him too. But she didn’t dare. She didn’t have any right to.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, sunbae.” She finally managed to answer, crying again. It took a while to stop and even then it was only the knowledge she couldn’t come out of that room with puffy eyes, to make her stop weeping. She couldn’t risk her bodyguards coming in and discover who Yi Jeong was. Most of all, he was in danger. If Su Pyo ever knew about him… no, she couldn’t risk that.
“Tell me what happened Ga Eul yang. Tell me how can I help you.”
“You can’t.” She disentangled from his embrace and looked at him, drowning in his deep eyes. “You shouldn’t have done this. Never try to contact me again, sunbae. Please.”
“No way!” He shouted and Ga Eul looked at the door with a terrified look.
“Don’t shout! My bodyguards are outside, they must not find out who you are!”
“I won’t leave you, Ga Eul yang. Forget it.” He stated pulling her in his arms again. “Now that I found you, there’s no way I can just leave you there.”
“But you must.” She whispered against his shoulder, her heart shattering. “I can’t leave Seventh Heaven. And you have to forget I ever existed. You’re in danger, sunbae.”
He just shook his head and then he released her, his hands cupping her face, looking in her eyes.
“Are they threatening you? Is this why you can’t leave? I know you Ga Eul yang, you would never live like this willingly.”
She didn’t answer and his eyes burst in flame. “Tell me! What did they do to you? Why must you stay?”
Ga Eul softly bit her lip and averted her gaze, feeling new tears stinging her eyes.
“Because if I try to run away, they will hurt Kyoung Mi.” She finally confessed looking down. “They will kill my sister. And if they find out about you, they will threaten to kill you too.”