Chapter 07

Chapter 6

“It’s going to happen tomorrow morning.” Woo Bin announced, carefully avoiding Jae  Kyung’s eyes.
Since that kiss, two weeks ago, he was doing his best to stay away from her and although she seemed to respect his wish for now, he could feel her gaze on him everytime.
Yi Jeong stood up, suddenly nervous, looking at his best friend. “So soon? I thought we needed more time.”
“Ji Hoo’s connections worked better than I thought at the beginning,” The Mafia Prince explained, nodding at the blonde knight of their group, “I didn’t expect them to react so quickly. How did you do it, bro?”
“Everybody has their weak points.” Ji Hoo merely smiled. “My grandfather left me lots of dossiers about many politicians and browsing through them was very profitable. I guess I’m not on some people’s favourite list now, but they aren’t on mine either. As long as they keep doing what I tell them to, we’ll get along just fine. And, all considered, they are just doing their job right now.”
“I guess that means that Monkey and I are doing good too with our part.” Jun Pyo asked, squeezing Jan Di’s hand. “But are you sure this is the right time? Don’t you want to give us another week?”
Woo Bin shook his head. “The whole situation could get out of control every moment.  Gong Su Pyo could decide to go back to Busan and I want to hit him while he’s still here. Also, I don’t know how much more the police will be able to ignore what’s going on, even bribery has its limit and I don’t want them to bash into Seventh Heaven and arrest  everybody. Chu Ga Eul or Chu Kyoung Mi could be involved into a gunfight if the Gong men reacts.”
Yi Jeong paled at the very thought and Woo Bin continued. “I know I’m asking you a lot bro, but tonight you must not tell anything to Ga Eul-ssi. What is going to happen tomorrow will scare her, but I need her reaction to be truthful, because it will be reported to Gong Su  Pyo. I want him to believe she didn’t know anything. For her sake.”
“Is she going to be in any danger?”
“No.” The Mafia Prince assured him. “She will be safe and you will be able to meet her at my place.”
“Forget about it. I’ll come with you.”
“You won’t!” Woo Bin refused, shaking his head again, an alarmed look in his eyes.
“I will.” Yi Jeong glared at him. “No way I’m going to leave her alone when she’s scared. I’ll stay in the car and nobody will see me.”
“It’s dangerous. I can’t let you.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it, brother.”
Woo Bin sighed at the stubborness of his friend but he could understand him. After leaving Ga Eul alone six years before, just because he was scared about his feelings, he didn’t want to do it again, in a situation in which she needed him the most. He silently added him to the plan, modifying it accordingly, knowing nothing in this world could keep him away and silence filled the lounge until Jun Pyo looked at Yi Jeong, talking very seriously. “It’s just the beginning, you know that. Are you ready? It won’t be easy at all.”
The potter nodded, clenching his jaw. “I know. I’m ready. Anything for her.”
The F4 faced each other and as a silent communication passed between them, Jae Kyung walked to Woo Bin, pointing at the door. “Come out just a minute.” She asked him, a hint of hesitation in her voice.
“Please?”
Woo Bin froze on the spot. That woman was incredible, she could wipe away his coolness just looking at him. Seeing Jan Di imperiously point to the door, he collected himself and walked out after her, firmly telling his heart to stop beating so loudly, he wasn’t sixteen anymore.
Just outside the lounge, Woo Bin closed the door and Jae Kyung deeply breathed in before turning to face him.
“I promised myself to leave you alone until this was over, so you could fully concentrate on Yi Jeong’s girl.” She said, looking straight into his eyes. “I tried to hold back but I can’t.”
She tried to smile but miserably failed and for the first time since years, Woo Bin saw her eyes bright with tears. “I’m scared. I know you will be there tomorrow. If I thought begging you not to go could convince you, I would do that. But it wouldn’t work. So, I can just ask, will you be careful? For me?”
The Mafia Prince swallowed and merely nodded as the heiress came closer. Someone to come back to. Just what he didn’t want, just the thing he was most afraid of. And yet, Jae Kyung’s tears were making him powerless to resist her. Why now? He had been able to stand before her without ever showing his feelings, but something was changed now and he couldn’t understand what. “Monkey…”
“Shhh.” She silenced him, her fingers pressed on his mouth. “Just do your best and come back to me unharmed.”
And this time, when her lips softly replaced her fingers, Woo Bin closed his eyes, circled her waist and gently kissed her back, before drawing her in his arms in a deep embrace.
“I will come back.” He whispered.
Someone to wait for him. He was so going to regret it.

***

When Ga Eul entered the suite that night, she found a single red rose on the table which she brought to her nose smiling.
“Sunbae?” She sofly called walking in the hotel room and when a strong pair of arms gently enclosed her in their embrace, she closed her eyes and leaned back against him.
“I missed you, love.” Yi Jeong whispered in her ear, feeling her shivering in his arms.
Having her so close and never touch her was a hard challenge for his willpower, but he didn’t want to force things. She hadn’t known anything but physical contact for six years, now she deserved to be properly courted, not to mention the stiffness in her he could feel everytime he was about to give up and ask for something more, be it only a kiss. What  was really killing him was that he wasn’t sure she still loved him. She was grateful because he was buying her every night since three weeks and she didn’t have to endure nameless men anymore, they talked and laughed together and she was relaxed around him to the point that she often slept in his embrace, but was that love? She never told him and he was afraid to ask.
He knew he didn’t have any right to, not after leaving her all alone like that. All that mattered was giving her freedom back. And then, if she didn’t love him, he would have courted her until she fell in love with him again. A sudden feeling of possessiveness filled him as he realised that he wasn’t ever going to give up. Ga Eul belonged with him, and he was going to make her acknowledge it, even if it was going to take years to heal all her wounds.
“Today Su Pyo talked about the possibility of going back to Busan soon.”
Her words pierced him back to reality and he guided her to the couch, after closing the  door from the inside. Her bodyguards were used to it after three weeks and they weren’t going to interfere. He was too rich a customer to risk to annoy him.
“It’s your friends doing, isn’t it? You’re provoking him.” Ga Eul told him matter-of-factly.
Yi Jeong nodded, keeping her close to him and lightly brushing her hair. “I told you they would have helped me. This is just the first step.”
“You’re playing with fire, sunbae.” She was worried and her voice reflected it. “Su Pyo is really angry by now. He can’t understand what’s going on, and he can’t stand not to be in control. When he’s like this, he’s very dangerous.”
“So are we, love.” He replied, kissing her forehead. “Don’t underestimate us.”
Ga Eul disentangled from his arms and looked at him seriously. “This is not a joke, Yi Jeong sunbae. You can be the mighty F4, but you’re talking about a powerful mafia clan, it’s not something you can dismiss so easily.”
“Are you afraid for me?”
“Of course I am! And for my sister too. The moment Su Pyo finds out what’s going on, she’s dead and so am I. And so are you. You really don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
“It will be over soon, don’t worry. You will be safe and so will be Kyoung Mi.” Yi Jeong tried to reassure her, but she was evidently scared.
He gently cupped her face leaning towards her. Again, the stiffness, he silently cursed. She was frozen now, like he was some sort of predator ready to jump on her. Yi Jeong stopped moving and breathed in.
“Trust me, love. It’s going to be allright. Just trust me.”
“You don’t understand.” She whispered, shaking in fear. “Everytime he calls me in his office, I prepare myself to bury my sister, or you. I can’t stand it anymore, it’s too much.”
“A little more, Ga Eul yang.” He hugged her again, wishing with all his heart he could tell her only a few hours were left before she could be free. But he couldn’t, for her own sake. He only hoped she wasn’t going to hate him afterwards. “Be brave just a little more. It will be over soon.”
He had never wanted a night with her to pass so quickly. Each hour was bringing them closer to the end and he couldn’t wait to finally see her smile without fear.
Be fast night. Please. Be fast.

***

The girl was sitting on a bench in the small park, the sun caressing her skin. She was pretty, dressed in a simple white shirt and jeans, her shoulder lenght black hair tied up on a pony tail, but her eyes were sad and looking far away, like she was waiting for someone who wasn’t coming. Finally, she sighed and started reading the newspaper she had brought with her, knowing she didn’t have much time.
That was strange, she thought, turning page after page just to find several articles linked to the one on the front page. Something weird was happening although she wasn’t sure of what exactly: it was two weeks already and the news about a Prosecutor being surprised with a prostitute still wasn’t dying. Right, it was a scandal, especially given the korean laws against prostitution, but usually the hype died in some days, to be replaced by other scoops.
It wasn’t happening.
It was getting worse actually.
The political world was getting involved and rumors of new laws were already on everybody’s mouth as newspapers and televisions were dedicating large reports to the problem day after day.
The direct result was of course people were scared to be caught red-handed and Seventh Heaven’s business was going down. Less and less customers came every night and Kyoung Mi wondered if the same was happening in Seoul too. She was worried for Ga Eul, alone with that beast of Su Pyo, all by herself; she knew by experience what Su Pyo was capable of when he was angry, and this new situation was bound to go from bad to worse if the media weren’t going to stop poking their noses into the prostitution business.
She couldn’t understand. As days went by, the journalists were finding new stories, new people to interview, new women who were willing to share their hellish experience in exchange for protection. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, the Gong family and its  branches always managed to scare everybody to death, so they wouldn’t talk. Now people was suddenly becoming bold and Kyoung Mi couldn’t help but to wonder why.
“Come on.” The man near her abruptly spoke. “It’s time to go back.”
The girl shivered at the mere sound of that voice and quickly folded the newspaper up. In pure Su Pyo’s style, her two jailors were the men who kept beating her up everytime Su Pyo wasn’t satisfied with Ga Eul’s behaviour. Kyoung Mi knew they enjoyed the task. Hearing her bones break up or seeing her blood and her tears seemed to please them immensely, to the point that she never dared to speak in their presence, afraid to give them an excuse to beat her again.
And yet, they wouldn’t let her die, she thought glancing at the white thin lines on her wrists. Apparently they decided it was up to them to kill her, she didn’t have that freedom.
Kyoung Mi fought back the sudden tears and slowly started walking back. Since Ga Eul was gone, she hated sundays. On sundays she didn’t have to go to school and it was a holiday she really didn’t want, because it only meant going back sooner to her cage. Every time she was free, she was used to long strolls with her sister, a habit Ga Eul had made her promise to keep while she was away in Seoul. Too bad that since Ga Eul was gone, she was only allowed to go to the little park just near the Seventh Heaven. It was the first time Kyoung Mi was alone since she was born and she missed her sister dearly, so the sunday walks helped her to remind that somewhere in the Capital, she was doing the same thing, thinking about her.

***

Ga Eul was going to the park for her morning walk, when she told her bodyguards that she was going to phone her sister. Just like that, one of the men took her phone and personally dialed Kyoung Mi’s number, listening until the girl answered on the other side.
“Hello? Unni?”
“Hello Kyoung Mi.” She answered, with a sigh. “I’m just going out, what are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m already going back.” Kyoung Mi’s voice wasn’t all that cheerful, but that was only normal. She hated Seventh Heaven as much as Ga Eul did. “I just stayed in the park near the club and enjoyed the sun. Is it sunny over there?”
Before Ga Eul could answer, she heard a loud screech in the background, like a car just passed near her sister. “What was that?”
“I don’t…” Kyoung Mi started replying but suddenly stopped, to scream. “Oh no. No no no!  Let me go!”
Then the sounds became confused and Ga Eul understood her sister’s phone had been dropped on the ground.
“Kyoung Mi! Kyoung Mi!” She shouted on the phone, when she heard her voice screaming terrified. One of the bodyguards took her phone and listened for some moments while Ga Eul kept trying to take the cell back. “Give it back! Kyoung Mi! Give my phone back!”
“Let’s go back.” The man replied, grabbing her by an arm.
“What happened?” The other one asked, one hand already under his jacket ready to get the gun.
“I heard a gunshot, then a man screaming.”
“A gunshot? What?” Ga Eul tossed and turned while being dragged away, terrified for her sister.
“Be quiet, or I’ll knock you out!”

And then the other man screamed in pain, clenching his shoulder. “Someone’s shooting!”
The one holding Ga Eul turned around but this time she heard the sound of the silenced gun when it hit the target. The man knelt down on the ground, frantically taking out his gun while his blood was pouring out from the leg. Five men came out from the nearby corners, pointing their guns at them and fast approaching. They were all dressed in black and with their faces covered and Ga Eul stared at them in horror. Then she turned and run as fast as she could.
A black car suddenly cut across her path and she screamed when the door opened up and one of the men shoved her inside, closing the door behind her. When the car left, the man turned around, the gun still in his hand and took his mask off, approaching the two bodyguards, surrounded by his companions.
Woo Bin coldly stared at the two men, one wounded on the shoulder and the other one on the leg, recognizing them: they were the same ones who dragged Ga Eul away the night of the bachelor party.
“I want you to call your master on the phone. Now.” He told them and saw the recognition in their eyes as they looked at him. When neither of them answered him, he just pointed the gun at the nearest one’s head. “I can always take the phone from your dead bodies, if you prefer.”
With a low groan, one of them took a phone out of his pockets, handing it to the Mafia Prince.
“Wonderful.” He nodded, while looking for the number he was seeking. Then he just waited.
“I want you to carefully listen, dog.” He spoke, when Gong Su Pyo answered the phone. His voice was as cold as ice. “You came to Seoul, you defied me and my family. Know that Song Woo Bin is not someone to back off from a challenge. If you wanted war, then that’s what you will get. From now on, your Butterfly Queen and her sister are my property. If you don’t want to loose something more precious than two useless girls, go back to your hole in Busan and never come back. Next time you invade my territory again, you’ll regret it.”
Closing the communication, Woo Bin turned around as another car stopped by him. Without a word, the five men got into it, leaving the two wounded bodyguards on the ground.

In his office, Gong Su Pyo was clenching his phone, his nuckles almost white, his eyes flaming in fury.
“Song Woo Bin.” He hissed. “You bastard.”

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