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Jealousy

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Jealousy

 

“So, for this year banquet, we will hold it at different venue, Ms. Yoon,” the Yoon Foundation committee, which now included newly-minted VP Hong Chang Sik, told her in a briefing session for the Foundation Annual Gathering and Music Festival in Switzerland, “The participants now have reached 30 teams from 25 countries, so the previous hall won’t be able to accommodate us”

Yoon Seri nodded her head, while her mind was somewhere else. She was still stuck with the packaging design of this year’s fall seasonal limited-edition scented candles. Her team strongly suggested the maroon velvet with gold rope, but she was still partial to the purple silk ones. She stared blankly at the huge TV she used as her monitor in her office while her team keep updating her with the plan, until one name caught her attention.

“Wait, wait, who will be the ambassador for this year’s gala?” she asked, not quite believing her hearing.

“Cha Sang U, Ms. Yoon,” the head committee, a young woman name Lee Ho Jung told her. “His management had contacted us a few weeks ago and he agreed to be the face of Yoon Foundation to help with fundraising”

Seri glanced at Hong Chang Sik who had the grace of looking sheepish, “But he is very famous now, could we afford him?” Seri reasoned, “I mean the whole point of having the gala is to collect money for our cause, not spending them on an ambassador”

“But Ms. Yoon, Mr. Cha management had agreed to lower the price to match our budget, that’s why we approve of the plan,” Lee Ho Jung told her, but glanced at Hong Chang Sik, who in turned looked at his knee.

“And why would he do that? He’s very famous now, his latest drama had just received Baeksang Awards and he was even nominated as best actor. He is everywhere on social media and advertising,” Seri insisted, “I’d like to know his rate before approving this”

Lee Hong Jung recited a number which caused Seri to frown. That was barely the price to pay a social media influencer with 2 million followers. Cha Sang U currently had 5 million followers on his Instagram alone and he was continuously covered in major entertainment channel

“How could they accept that offer?” Seri asked her team and silence was ensued. Lee Hong Jung nudged Hong Chang Sik and the still-chubby VP took a glance to his boss.

“He, um, Cha Sang U that is, personally agreed with the rate on one, small, little condition, Ms Yoon,” he told her and Seri was looking at him with such a glare he was surprised his typical Yoon Seri-induced rashes didn’t appear on the spot.

“What condition?” Seri had a solid guess, knowing who Cha Sang U as a person was.

“That you had dinner with him tonight, Ms. Yoon” Hong Chang Sik told him in a very small voice it was a wonder Seri heard him at all.

“He what??!!” she bellowed, and all of her teams were almost jumping from their seat.

~

Yoon Seri pinched the bridge of her nose as she was looking into her cell phone screen. She had just finished throwing everyone from her office and still hadn’t decided on how to deal with the sudden dilemma. At first, she realized that this was a delight in itself that her life’s dilemma was consisting of dealing with a past lover. Because two years ago, her life problems were consisting of high-level politics between two in-cold-war countries and family separation. But still, she hesitated on how to handle this.

On one hand, she was glad that her team managed to get a perfect ambassador to boost their charity cause. Cha Sang U was a very famous celebrity in the South and his involvement was with Arts. He took classical music as his base education, and his works always had connection with music, one way or another. His last drama, that she mentioned, was about a group of medical doctors who played music in a band and was very well received by both critics and viewers. Some of the actor and actress were even nominated in recent Baeksang Awards, Cha Sang U included.

Her charity was also well known in South for gathering musical genius from all over the world, giving them scholarship to prestigious music education and held concert for them to celebrate their talents. Participating in such charity would be a good boost for Cha Sang U’s image. And they even managed to get such a low rate for a celebrity of his calibre. All in all, it was a good deal all around.

What she didn’t anticipate was that she had to contact her husband and telling him that she had to had dinner with her ex-boyfriend, 3 weeks before their ‘official’ wedding.

While she knew Ri Jeong Hyeok was secured in the way that she loved him to moon and back, and would, and to some extent, had given him everything she had; she knew that he was still stingy when it came to his wife’s past love scandals. It was getting less and less mentioned by everyone recently, now that the public was aware that single mother Yoon Seri was in a serious relationship with mysterious Orchestra man Ri Jeong Hyeok, they even lived together with her son. But every now and then media would find a way to create non-existent love triangle between them with one of her past lovers.

At one time, it was with a baseball athlete, Kim Tae Hee whom she briefly dated years ago. The three of them met accidentally in a company function of one of Seri’s business partner and they were engaged in a polite conversation. The next day, the photos of three of them, Seri, Jeong Hyeok and Kim Tae Hee were everywhere on news portal and speculations were running rampant. One of the photos was particularly heavily circulated, the one where Seri was leaning a bit towards Tae Hee to hear him better while Jeong Hyeok tightened his hold on Seri’s waist.

The other time, it was with her old schoolmates in the State, Lee Jun Wan, whom she never technically dated but they were quite close. He just got back to Seoul after decades of working at the States and wanted to meet her to get himself acquainted with his hometown’s business atmosphere. The meeting was purely professional, and they even met at her office. However, after the meeting, Lee Jun Wan insisted to treat her at least to a good coffee and they went to get one at the café near her office. And sure enough, the next day several poses of them drinking the coffee together were circulating the gossip portal and Seri had to call Jeong Hyeok who was out of town for work that time to explain everything.

It was a headache how Jeong Hyeok insisted he was fine with everything, but she caught him shredding the newspaper for several weeks that contained the news about those incidents. Even his mother was concerned and asked Seri if there was something going on between them because she hadn’t seen her son acted like that since he lost a music competition when he was a teenager. It took her weeks of pampering Jeong Hyeok inside and outside the bedroom and not a small effort from her media team to take down the photos before Jeong Hyeok was his usual merry self.

And now, she had to tell him that she was going to have dinner with Cha Sang U; whom she had the longest and steadiest relationship before Ri Jeong Hyeok. This was going to be so much fun.

~

Seri took a last look of her lipstick before exiting her car to the fancy restaurant that Cha Sang U chose for their dinner tonight. She was still so distracted by her conversation with her husband that she almost didn’t register her door being opened by the doorman.

“Good evening, Ms. Yoon” the concierge greeted her. She was a regular in the restaurant as well. “Mr. Cha is waiting for you in your usual table”

Seri nodded and smiled her thank you. Walking inside, she still remembered the conversation she just had with her husband.

 

Jeong Hyeok picked up her call in the second ring, and his voice was evidently very pleased to hear from her.

“Hi honey,” he greeted her, with some music in his background, “How are you?”

“I’m good,” she stalled, “Is it a good time to talk? Or are you in rehearsal?”

“No, it’s okay. We’re just watching the recording of our last rehearsal to see what we can improve,” then the music sounded fainter, indicating Jeong Hyeok exited the room. “What’s wrong? Can you leave office earlier today?”

“Umm, that’s what I want to talk to you about,” she said. Earlier today, unlike usual, Jeong Hyeok asked what time she would come home today and if she could leave a little earlier. She said she could, but Cha Sang U issue suddenly came up.

“I don’t think I can go home early today, honey” she then added the story of how her team basically begging her to close the deal with Cha Sang U in the dinner tonight. She bit her lips as there was silence on Jeong Hyeok’s side.

“What do you think, honey?” she asked him, “I will totally cancel the plan if you’re not comfortable with this, so please let me know”

Another silence. “Honey?”

“It’s okay, honey. You say this will be good for the charity?” he said in slightly-normal tone.

Seri nodded, though he wouldn’t be able to see him. “Yes” she answered simply, “He’s one of the most famous celebrity right now, getting him to be our ambassador for the charity with such low rate is a kind of miracle. With him on board, he could bring our cause to a much broader audience and with more awareness, more donors would come up”

Jeong Hyeok exhaled deeply, “If that is the case, then of course I’m alright, honey,” he then added when Seri didn’t sound convinced, “We owe this cause that much because if not for your foundation, we wouldn’t have the life we have today”

“But are you sure you’re okay?” she probed again, “We could always find another ambassador for the foundation. With or without Cha Sang U, the charity is still gaining wider recognition and with you as our patron, we have all of the credibility that we need”

Jeong Hyeok smiled. He always found it incredible when his wife was trying to convince someone of her proposal.

“It’s alright, really. We’re not teenagers and you are doing it for the cause important to both of us. Of course, I understand,” he then added before Seri had a chance to reply, “Now go, have that dinner, and say hi to Cha Sang U from me. But don’t come home very late, okay? I’ll be waiting”

 

She knew her husband was not a petty person by all means possible, but it was so easy to misjudge his real feeling with this business meeting-slash-dinner-with-your-ex. And this was all on top of the headache regarding the wedding, the rumours regarding Jeong Hyeok once the media got the whiff of her fiancé (to which she scoffed every time she read any article regarding their engagement. They just celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary last week for crying out loud) and the latest development with her second older brother, Se Hyeong.

He had been released from his incarceration during the time of Jeong Hyeok’s defection, and Seri had to admit it had given her more burden. Because though realistically she knew there wasn’t much he could do to endanger her and Min Hyeok due to their father basically cut his financial support except for what was already his and heavy protection around Seri and Min Hyeok, but she was more concerned about emotional danger he would pose to them.

Even Omma, who routinely visited Se Hyeong in jail, had been worried about her youngest son psychological condition. It seemed that his time in jail hadn’t really put the right perspective in him, and only strengthen his revolt towards Seri and his father. Omma and Se Jun had tried numerous times to put some sense into him, but the best they could do was convinced him that if he ever tried to pull something like he did to Seri or anyone in their family, they wouldn’t forgive him and gave him a second chance. And truthfully, that was as much as Seri could expect from him.

Even since they were little, Se Hyeong had always been hostile to her, while Se Jun was more into indifference towards his youngest sister. Se Jun had only agreed to marry Seri with Gu Seung Jung back then because on paper, Seung Jung was a perfect candidate; and he promises to take Seri back to England once they were married. That failed engagement, and some ploy to steal their father’s attention towards him, by elevating his status as the oldest of Yoon were the things Se Jun had to up Seri. So, while they weren’t exactly friendly, they never had untoward intention to each other either; so, restarting their relationship as an adult was much easier than with Se Hyeong.

After his release, their parents arranged for Se Hyeong to live low in Seoul for sometimes. He still had his own house and every source of income attached on his status as a Yoon, but their father made sure he had no more reach into Queens Group resource. They had a family meeting, while thoroughly awkward, but addressed the most important issue regarding Min Hyeok and Jeong Hyeok impending arrival. Se Hyeong didn’t outright apologize to Seri, but he did mention that what he did was wrong and out of line; something he would make sure not to repeat. And what surprised Seri, though Se Hyeong couldn’t care less about Jeong Hyeok, he was surprisingly warm towards the idea of having a baby nephew. This gave her at least a little peace of mind that her brother wouldn’t dare to harm her child.

However, she had made sure to keep him out of her little family and made sure Se Hyeong knew that he wasn’t welcome in her household. Seri knew that Jeong Hyeok was working with her father to arrange the security details for her all of Yoon family, including Se Hyeong. So, it served her purpose too in order to keep her older brother out of her life. Which was sad, especially when she looked at how her relationship with her mom and Se Jun were almost 180 degree from where they used to be.

But Seri knew it too well that some scars were just too deep to be erased and some differences were just too stark to be bridged. At the very least, they lived their own version of happy ending, separately. Seri with her little family, and the last she heard, Se Hyeong had managed to whip up a comfortable resort business in Thailand and even met someone new. She made sure as long as they lived like that, everything would be fine.

Thinking about Jeong Hyeok also gave her a surge wave of pride of her husband. Because while the past 2 years after his defection was no mean easy for her, it was ten times harder on her husband. Not only did he have to adapt to the new way of living in the South and her family wealth, he also had to restart his career from the start. She could only imagine what turmoil he had to go through following that disastrous first rejection from Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and that was on top of the courses he took for pre-Master in SNU.

And the media certainly didn’t make things easier for them too. Once some photos were leaked about them, various gossip portals had started their own ‘investigation’ on who was Yoon Seri’s latest conquest. To think that it was the first guy after Seri having her baby, through controversial method, was only feeding fuel to the flame. Every week they would find photos of themselves, in various setting and degree of photo clarity, on gossip portals which led to wild speculations over their relationship. One definitely hit the core, when one gossip channel pointed out how closely baby Min Hyeok resembled Yoon Seri’s supposedly new flame. Thankfully, the portal was not the biggest one, so the story had come and go without many people noticing.

After sometimes, both Seri and Jeong Hyeok decided to pay less attention to these gossips. Not only they would never stop, but it had eaten parts of their sanity when they should focus on the more important things in their life. Like their son’s well being and Jeong Hyeok and his mother’s adjustment to Seoul life. Thankfully, Seri’s mother helped a lot with his mother.

Seri’s mother took her mother-in-law to various social organization she was involved in, and both Jeong Hyeok and Seri were relieved to see his mother taken a great interest in those philanthropies cause. Because with Jeong Hyeok’s various activities and Seri’s business, they wouldn’t be able to spend a lot of time with her. Seeing both mothers got along very well and even becoming friends-in-arms in charity gave Seri a deep relieve. One less thing to worry about in their life.

The sight of Cha Sang U waving to her broke her from her reverie. She had to admit, he looked very good. Though not as tall and buffed-out like Ri Jeong Hyeok, there was something in his lanky built and sly smile that enticed women to him. He gave her a very tender smile as he stood up and greeted her.

“Yoon Seri,” he started, leaning forward to touch his cheek with hers, “You look as lovely as always”

Seri rolled her eyes in earnest but smiled at him warmly, “You look good too. Oh, and congratulations on the award, that’s so awesome” she told him sincerely as she took her seat and nodded her thank you to him who held her chair for her, “I’m addicted to your latest drama”

“Ah please, it’s because the script was very good and I had good co-cast on the set” he tried to be humble though his eyes looked brighter than usual, “Why didn’t you come to the award? You did get the invitation, right?”

Seri nodded. As one of the biggest advertisers, Queens Group and Seri’s Choice executives always got invitation to attend prestigious events like Baeksang Awards. Though Seri was known to frequent the red carpet before, but after she got Min Hyeok and the whole thing with Jeong Hyeok’s defection, those glamorous event rarely attracted her attention anymore.

“I wanted to,” she lied, “but I couldn’t. My son was not feeling well that night” and by not feeling well, she meant wanting to sleep with both his mom and dad that night.

“Ah yes, your son. Min Hyeok, right?” Sang U asked her, and Seri nodded, “I saw his photo on your Instagram. He is so cute, how old is he now?”

“Thanks, and he just had his third birthday last week”

“Wow, three years already? It seemed only yesterday when I came into your parents’ house to bring him gifts,” he smiled while looking at the menu on his hand, “You sure know how to surprise people, Yoon Seri”

Seri smiled at the memory. Cha Sang U was one of the very few people visited her when she just got back from Switzerland and her father introduced Min Hyeok as her son. Among her old lovers, he was the only one who had good relationship with her parents, and he came to their house to congratulate her and her parents on the new addition. She remembered fondly of their friendly conversation that time because it reminded her a bit of the normal time before her life was all cloak and daggers with the North government. She made sure everyone in the house, including her parents, to neglect telling Jeong Hyeok that he ever visited her and Min Hyeok.

Their conversation was interrupted as a waiter came to ask for their order. Cha Sang U asked for a specific white wine that made Seri raise her eyebrows in surprised. He remembered.

Cha Sang U smiled at her and nodded. “I should know better to order the perfect wine for tonight, it might be the last time I got the chance to have dinner with you. Congratulations on the wedding, by the way”

“Thank you, I hope you have received the invitation?” She had checked with her mom today and thankfully she had sent Sang U his invitation. Otherwise, this dinner would be very awkward.

He nodded. “Yes I have, thank you for that,” he motioned his glass for a cheer and Seri hesitantly clinked her glass and took a little sip. The last thing she wanted was getting inebriated tonight. “I was very surprised when I received the invitation, to be honest”

Seri frowned from her salmon dinner and asked, “What makes you surprised? That I’m a marriage material, after all?”

Cha Sang U raised his eyebrows, “No of course not, I didn’t say that” he then added after thinking for a while, “I thought you gave up on marriage altogether, after having your baby”

Now she understood and smiled inwardly. Another believer of the lie her family spread out for her, that Min Hyeok was the result of in-vitro fertilization in Switzerland. Well, if by in-vitro it meant her marital bed in Switzerland, they technically didn’t lie.

“You know what, at first I thought of that too,” Seri lied through her teeth, then she added, “then I met my fiancé. Everything else is just history after that”

“However, enough talking about me” Seri tried to steer away the conversation from Jeong Hyeok, “Tell me, what are you up to now, Mr. famous?”

Cha Sang U smiled at her obvious attempt to change the conversation and he happily talked about his current projects. Seri always appreciated him for that during their relationship, that he wasn’t pushing and always understanding when she was not in the mood for something. That was why their relationship lasted for almost a year back then, a lifetime record for Seri whose relationship never even got past its first 3 months anniversary before.

Seri listened attentively as he excitedly told her about his latest project, the second season of the musical drama he got the awards for and another movie that he was preparing for shooting the next month. He was very excited especially with the musical drama because it had given him opportunity to exercise his skill in music.

“That’s why I’m interested in your charity, Seri-ah” he told her with a smile, “One of the musicians you’ve supported actually help with the show, do you know that?”

“Really? I don’t know that,” she was genuinely surprised, “I thought most of them were interested in classical music only”

“He does, but he helped in making the composition for the old songs so it’s easier for us non-professional to play them in band,” he told her, “He talked highly of you and the foundation you’re supporting. Thanks to the scholarship, he managed to get a good job and bought his parents proper house and everything”

Seri smiled. Though she set up the charity with the sole purpose of reaching Ri Jeong Hyeok, but after seeing with her own eyes how the scholarship could change other people’s lives, she finally understood why so many people invested in their charity efforts; something she failed to understand before.

“He also mentioned about your fiancé, whom he recalled as one of the delegates from other country” he gave emphasis on the ‘other country’ and this caught Seri’s full attention.

They looked at each other as both of them stop eating. Seri suddenly felt chill to the bone as Cha Sang U looked at her with his intense gaze. His usually smiley face was set in seriousness, that it was almost comical; Seri would laugh if the situation were different.

“Are you okay, Seri-ah?” he asked with a low voice, “I saw you arrived with a driver and another bodyguard who sat in the corner” his eyes were drifting discreetly towards Park Bo Gum, one of Mr. Kim’s team who stood as her guard for tonight.

“Please tell me if there is anything I can do” he asked again, genuine concern in his eyes.  And Seri smiled, suddenly felt warmth all over her body after that sudden chill. Cha Sang U was truly a friend she didn’t deserve.

Slowly and with care, as if afraid of offending her husband if she touched more than an inch of another man’s skin, she touched Cha Sang U hand.

“I’m okay, truly okay,” she then smiled, picked up her fork and took a big piece of her salmon, which almost halfway done. “Better than I’ve ever been. And I’m eating now” she made a good show of chewing her food with smile, “all of my food”

He still looked at her with analysing eyes, making sure that there was no other meaning in her words and behaviours. After sometimes, he exhaled slowly and smiled.

“I’m glad Seri-ah,” he told her as he picked up his steak dinner again, “I’ve been trying to get a contact with you ever since then. But you’ve never been in any events and I’m afraid to text you. This is the only way I thought was safe to be with you, inconspicuously “

“Thank you Sang U-ah, I really appreciate it,” she gave him her rare genuine smile, “But I’m fine, really. But you never told this to anyone right? Or that musician to anyone?”

He shook his head. “No, that was the first thing I asked him to do when he told me. I valued my head, and yours, too much to blab this thing in a bar” he then asked again, “What is the story?”

Seri smiled and shook her head lightly. “I’m sorry Sang U-ah, perhaps this is a story for another time?” she then added, “Not that I don’t trust you or anything, but this is sensitive time and I’m protecting the people that I love. If you can understand”

Cha Sang U nodded and smiled. They ate the rest of their meal in comfortable silence after that. However, Seri noticed that the man in front of her was still in deep thought and was looking at her every now and then with an expression she couldn’t decipher. After taking a big gulp of her white wine and put her fork in the empty plate, she finally asked him.

“So now that the meals and friendly chat are out of the way,” she started, “Can you tell me what really brings you here, Sang U-ah. I’m also wondering why you agreed to the low rates as well”. It was her this time who gave him her trademark glare. He laughed lightly and put down his glass.

“You don’t change, always go straight to the point” he then added, “Well, then I won’t beat around the bush either. I want us to get back together” he looked at her intently.

Seri sighed. She had expected this but didn’t actually thought he would go through with this. Trying to school her expression to show exasperation but a kind one, she said to him.

“Do you really have to do this, Sang U-ah?” she asked, “I thought we are okay”

“We are okay, hence my proposal to get back together” he then added, “I was serious when I said I was so relieved when you were back from that paragliding accident. But after that, you never answer any of my text and calls”

He leaned on the table and almost put his hands on hers. ““I know we didn’t exactly end on the best terms,” he then added, “But I believe we had a good time, and we have enough foundation to build whatever next come our way. Your son included”

Seri looked at him in disbelief and started to question herself. Had she ever given any false lead to Cha Sang U? Aside from his visit to her parents’ house, they barely ever exchanged texts or calls. She remembered she had replied a few texts from him, but those were mostly seasonal greetings (Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, and so on) and very generic. And it wasn’t like Cha Sang U was rooting for her either. The slew numbers of girlfriends had been passed between their breakup and today, and if she wasn’t mistaken, there was even a rumour of engagement between him and one of his more serious girlfriends.

As she kept silent, Cha Sang U thought it was a good time to add more argument. “I’m at the age where I’m ready to be more than just a casual date, Seri-ah. I’m ready to settle down, and I also found your son to be very precious. I promised I would take care of you both”

Feeling things would quickly go out of hand if she didn’t respond soon, Seri told him.

“Sang U-ah, while I’m obviously flattered that you are willing to do those things for me,” she paused then looked at him directly in the eyes, making sure he understood clearly her message, “But I already considered myself a married woman. Our wedding next month is just a formality and I’m really, really don’t see you in that way anymore,” she then added, “Not after our breakup years ago”

She then added when she saw him about to argue, “And more importantly, I love my fiancé, if you want to call him that. He is everything to me and I never dream of replacing him with anyone else. Even you, Sang U-ah,” she smiled sweetly to him, “I’m sorry”

He looked at her intently for a while and didn’t say anything. When his silence was long enough to cause Seri awkwardly sipping her wine, suddenly Cha Sang U smiled and laughed lightly; causing Seri to stare at him again.

“You know what Seri-ah, that worth a shot, right?” he relaxed in his seat and picked up his glass again. Sipping slowly, he smiled at her then elaborated when Seri raised her eyebrow in question.

“I’ve actually saw you with your fiancé, at one of his concerts with the Orchestra,” he paused to remember, “One of the songs, Saudade was it? Man, the feels. It was about you, right?”

“You’ve been to his concert? When? I almost always attend” she looked at him with amazement. She could understand Jeong Hyeok’s pieces more easily because she was there most of the time as his muse. But then again, Sang U always had great understanding about music, due to his background and works around music.

“I saw you, but you were so immersed in his performance you barely noticed anyone else,” he smiled wryly, “Then I saw you two backstage, that’s when I knew it’s game over. For me and every other man”

“Then why did you just?.. you know” Seri asked, again in disbelief.

Cha Sang U smiled and shrugged his shoulder. There was something so charming about the way he did that.

“Because it’s worth a shot,” he then flashed her a very tender smile, “You are worth the shot”

~

“I will have my team send this over to your office, okay?” Seri told him as they exited the restaurant lobby; bodyguard Park Bo Gum closed at their heels. Cha Sang U rolled his eyes at her but smiled in jest.

“Only you, ‘Cow’ Yoon Seri to bring hard copy contracts at dinner date” he told her, while giving his valet ticket to the counter.

“One. Who invented that ‘Cow’ nickname for me? And Two, this is not dinner date,” she looked around and hissed at him, “Stop saying those things out loud”

He smirked. “Why, are you afraid the words will reach your fiancé?” he twisted the word at the tip of his tongue to mock her and she gave him her sharp side glance. Laughing, he added, “And the ‘Cow’? I think I heard it from one of your ex-employees when I was hanging around your office back then. You worked way too hard”

“Well, it pays off” she smiled smugly, gesturing towards her new shiny Maserati SUV that just came to the lobby, causing Cha Sang U to whistle softly. “If I knew you got a new car, I would’ve fought harder in there”

Seri laughed but patted his shoulder lightly. “Please, like all of those dramas didn’t give you enough coins” and she rolled her eyes as his car came along right after hers, a flashy sport car that was just as shiny as hers. “You know, for someone who claimed ready to settle down, you still drive around not-family-friendly super cars”

It was his turn to roll his eyes to her.

“Well’ it’s a very nice date,” he told her, loud enough for the valet driver to hear him, “Please send my regards to your fiancé”

“I will. But we will retract your invitation if you keep saying this is a date, which it’s not” she told him, loud enough for the valet driver to hear him. She then smiled and held her hands to give him a one-side friendly hug. He returned the gesture in kind, and she felt, rather than saw, Cha Sang U smiled towards her driver and bodyguard who were looking at them intently; ready to act to protect their mistress.

“See you at the wedding” he quipped and sent her to her car. The bodyguard closed the door for her, and he nodded shortly towards Cha Sang U. The ex-boyfriend kept looking at Seri’s car as it drove away and smiled.

“You are worth the shot, Yoon Seri”

~

In the car, Seri smiled but sighed as she sunk down into the plush rear passenger seat. In the front, sat her driver and tonight’s bodyguard, as the car moved smoothly. She had to admit, that she had fun at dinner tonight. Cha Sang U was always a fun companion, with his mature yet witty and kind demeanor. But of course, he was nothing compared to her husband.

Who hadn’t replied to any of her text during dinner tonight.

Picking up her phone, she dialed his number (no 1 speed dial, of course) and he picked up at the first ring.

“Honey,” he greeted her first, “How was dinner. Are you done?”

“Yes, I beg desert so I can come home sooner, Jeong Hyeok-ssi” she then checked her watch, “Is Min Hyeok sleeping yet? I can reach home in like, 25 minutes if we hurry” she then nodded to her driver to pick up the speed.

“He’s not sleeping yet” Jeong Hyeok said, “If you hurry you can make it in time”

“Okay, see you later then. I’ll tell you all about the dinner at home” she then added, to compensate after going out with her ex, “I miss you”

“I miss you too. Hurry back?” she heard his smile over the phone, and she replied, “Always” before hanging up. Smiling, she switched to her email application to catch up on some work. After reading and replying some emails, she decided to call it a day and closed the app. Only then she realized that they were not heading home.

“Mr. Park, I think you took the wrong turn?” she spoke to her security team, “We’re supposed to take the highway”

“This way is faster, Mrs. Yoon,” he told her. They were briefed clearly to only call her Mrs when nobody was around. To anybody else, Yoon Seri was still as single as she was before Min Hyeok.

Seri frowned; they definitely weren’t heading towards her residence which was a little outside Seoul. They were heading towards city centre. She looked at both of her driver and bodyguard; both of whom had been working with her family in the past 2 years, and both Mr. Kim and Jeong Hyeok had put total trust to these people to look out for her and Min Hyeok.

“Where are we going? Tell me now or else I will jump from this car, head on” she told them as she prepared to release her safety belt. Both men were startled and quickly turned around to their boss.

“Please ma’am, don’t” Park Bo Gum said, then he looked at the driver and sighed. “Mr. Ri asked us to take you to some place. He said it is a surprise so we cannot tell you” he then put on another pleading stare, “But please, don’t jump out of the car”

“What surprise?” she probed on. Both men looked at each other, then to hers with pleading face.

“Please Mrs. Yoon, we cannot tell you,” Park Bo Gum said, then her driver added, “Mr. Ri told us specifically to not tell you anything. Please ma’am, we cannot break orders”

Seri glared at both men who were showing pleading expression, then she sighed. She knew that even though technically she was the one paying them, but their allegiance is to Jeong Hyeok whom they jokingly called Captain. Jeong Hyeok said it was a good morale to build in their family security team, so they could function as efficient as an armed force. But Seri thought it was his way to reminisce his own military past and that he secretly derived melancholy from the nickname.

Pouting her lips, she sunk back into her seat and both men were taking a relieved deep breath. Seri had a mind to call Jeong Hyeok and asked him to explain himself, but she thought differently because they said it was a surprise? Now this was interesting. With her husband, she never expected much, especially something unplanned and unexpected. Partly because he was from the North, where the concept of ‘surprise’ was rarely synonymic with good things. Secondly, because that just who Ri Jeong Hyeok was. With him, it was always plan plan plan. Not that she didn’t understand it, as a businesswoman, it was her job to make plan for every possible scenario; both good and bad. But sometimes, she felt it would be nice to have some moments of spontaneity.

Soon enough, they arrived at their supposed destination and it raised Seri’s eyebrows. It was one of the nicest hotels in Seoul. It wasn’t the luxuriousness of the hotel that surprise Seri, but rather because Jeong Hyeok had chosen the hotel himself. At one side, she was glad because it meant Jeong Hyeok had warmed up better to her lifestyle and used his new net worth appropriately. Because at first, it was very hard to get him to spend anything. He always brought lunch to work and shied away from expensive establishment. He didn’t say it, but she knew he cringed a bit every time he found out the price of things that they had, or she suggested to buy. He was much comfortable now compared to when he came to Seoul, but still, this hotel would cost him a hefty sum.

“We are here, Mrs. Yoon,” the driver told her, “Please don’t tell Mr.Ri that we told you about this”

Seri sighed and gave them a small smile. It was no use telling them that getting driven unwillingly had always reminded her of unfortunate moments in her life. Because it would definitely be being informed to her husband and would spoil any surprise he planned for her. A doorman opened the door for her, and she was ushered inside the hotel.

After telling them his name, she was escorted to a private elevator that lead to the penthouse suite of the hotel. This also surprised her, what could bring her husband who insisted on cooking his own birthday dinner to spend money on luxury like this. They arrived at the highest floor on the hotel and the hotel staff opened the double door leading her to the reception part of the suite. The soft smell of fresh flower invaded her as she walked in with awe. Though she obviously wasn’t a stranger to luxury, this seemed to be on different level.

But the object of her affection was not yet seen, so it hardly mattered to her.

“Jeong Hyeok-ssi, where are you?” she called him out and the sight that welcome her make her speechless.

In the room where every single thing seemed to be painted with white and fresh flowers, stood her husband dressed in her favourite double-breasted navy suit and he held a bouquet of white Lily, her favourite flower.

“Oh God, what is this?” she told him quietly, while her head started to search if there was something significant happened at this date, and she came up blank.

“Happy 7th Reunited Anniversary” he told her happily, walking to her so they were only an arm distance. “Today, 7 years ago, we reunited for the first time on that hill where you landed and got tangled with your para gliders”

Seri put her hand on her mouth, she totally forgot! Seeing that his wife was surprised, Jeong Hyeok smiled and gathered her into him with one hand while his other hand put the bouquet into her hand.

“7 years ago, I departed from the North without knowing whether I would meet you again or not,” he started, looking at her with his patented wistful eyes, “I went anyway, because every shot is worth it when it comes to you. But as it turned out, I got so much more than I was ready to bargain for. Not only I met the woman I love with all of my being, but I also got a best friend, a best comrade a man could ask for to live the rest of his life, and a mother to my children”

He touched his forehead to hers, “I got you, Yoon Seri”

Seri felt tears clouded her eyes as he closed the distance between their lips and kissed her very tenderly, just like he did on the hill 7 years ago. She could feel Jeong Hyeok tried to pull her body closer to his, but it was impossible given the flowers between them. Laughing, she pulled away slightly, so the bouquet wasn’t squished.

“Let me appreciate the flower first” she told him and proceeded to smell her favourite flower; her eyes closed as she inhaled the subtle olfactory delicacy. Slowly, she put the flowers onto the nearby surface then she gathered Jeong Hyeok into her arms.

“Now I can appreciate the sender” she smiled at him and proceeded to put her gratitude in her kiss. She felt his smile as she deepened the kiss while her hands move onto his hair to rake it, just like he liked it. After sometimes, they reluctantly separated to take some breather.

“And to think I have wasted 2 hours having dinner with Cha Sang U just to close the deal, while I could have you here, alone in this impressive suite,” she told him while caressing his cheeks, “I’m really sorry Jeong Hyeok-ssi. It must’ve taken you a long time to prepare all of this, and I ruined it”

Jeong Hyeok shook his head and caressed her cheeks. “It’s okay, you’re doing a great thing tonight. Who am I to berate you for that?” he looked at her with clear pride in his eyes, “What’s important is I got you here all myself now”

“Now that you said it, we’re staying here tonight?” she asked him, “How about Min Hyeok?”

“Se Joon volunteered to take him for tonight, while my mother stayed at your parents” he told her, still reluctant to let her go from his arms, “We have the whole weekend to ourselves before we have to pick Min Hyeok on Sunday”

Seri bit her lips hearing the suggestive vibe in his tone while her husband was trying his best to strain himself; the night was still young, and he would be damn to finish it just from his wife biting her lips. Smiling brightly, he let go of her and proceeded to show her the dinner he actually had prepared for their celebratory night.

“Please tell me you have at least eat your dinner, honey” she told him in horror as she saw the beautifully arranged steak dinner in front of her. There was even the same vintage wine that they drank on their wedding night perfectly chilled in the nearby cart. She felt like crying when Jeong Hyeok slowly shook his head.

“I’m really not hungry. There was someone sending us a huge order of pizza at the Orchestra and I ate 3 slices for myself,” he tried to console her as Seri clasped her hands on her mouth, “I’m alright, really, please don’t feel bad. I want tonight to be special for both of us, and I can’t if I see you cry”

Seri nodded and tried to hold her sniff in. She looked at her husband with open admiration; how could she be so lucky having this wonderful and understanding man as her companion in life.

“Just so you know,” she tried to bring levity into their banter, “You are going to get S.O. lucky tonight”

He laughed openly and drew her into his arms.

“I hope so” he said cheekily.

~

“He said that?” Jeong Hyeok asked her in disbelief as he ate his diner, while Seri finished her desert (cheesecake with raspberry compote) and told him all about dinner, “Then why did he do that?”

Seri smirked. “It turned out it was something he did to all of his ex’s who was about to get married. He equalized it as throwing the last life-line to the bride-to-be trapped in unwanted marriage,” she then added, “I told him exactly this ‘Seeing that you’re still single after all of that, I see nobody was interested in your life-line after all’”

“Ouch, you’re mean Yoon Seri” he told her while laughing, “Please remind me to never be on your bad side, ever”

“Serves him right, trying to seduce a married woman” she shrugged her shoulder, then she smiled at him, “And don’t worry, you’ll hear a clear alarm even before you think to get on my bad side”

He smiled at her but turned to look serious as he pondered her story.

“So, he figured out that I was from the North” he said slowly, “And he thought you were in danger because of me, that’s why you have driver and a bodyguard” Seri nodded and he looked even deeper in thought.

“Who was the musician whom he said from the foundation?” he asked then proceeded to type in the name into his cell phone as she told him, “I have to have him looked at. Just in case”

Seri nodded but then she said as she picked up her wine, “But Cha Sang U said the musician would never blab this thing to other people. And neither will Sang U, so you don’t have to worry”

“I’m not worry,” Jeong Hyeok told her, “It’s just precaution, especially as we’re getting closer to the wedding”

Seri got an idea to distract Jeong Hyeok from the matter. “Ah, now that you’re talking about wedding,” she stood up from her seat and took her Tab from her purse. After tapping for a while, she gave it to him, “What do you think about this for ‘honeymoon’?”

Jeong Hyeok took the Tab and looked at the website for an incredible tropical resort. He never looked at ocean being so green and blue like that.

“Where is it?” he asked as he scrolled down, “It looks magnificent”

“It’s in Bali” she told him, “One of my friends from State owned it, and she promised to book us one of the finest suites where we can have villa with both private pool and beach. Just think of all the things we could do, just the two of us there”

Jeong Hyeok looked up to her with his intense gaze, “What are you waiting for? Book it now”

Seri laughed and took the Tab from him then put in on the table. Slowly, she put her both of her hands on his shoulder and said in sultry voice.

“Don’t mind that. She owed me too much on our college years, she would kick whomever book the suite before us” then she descended her head so her hair were falling down, forming a curtain on both of their faces, “What’s most important is that we can rehearse tonight what we will do there, because you know, practice makes perfect”

He nodded eagerly and pivot his knees so she could straddle him while still standing, “I like your thinking Yoon Seri” as his hands slowly ascended her legs from her knees until they lost under the hem of the pleats skirt she was wearing.

“I like your clothes today,” he told her as he showed appreciation to her pearly white matching skirt and blazer, made from delicate pleats and sheer deep pink shirt with bow in the front. She chuckled as his hands were getting higher and reached her hips.

“Why, because it’s easier for you to do that than with my usual pencil skirt?” he nodded eagerly and settled his hands on either side of her hips, fingers playing with the delicate panties she was wearing, “You will like my panties too, it’s very,” she whispered in his ear, “shreddable”

Growling, he drew Seri even closer to him, so her legs were splayed wider to accommodate him. With a hard tug, he pulled Seri until she was almost seated on his laps and her skirt was pushed up to her hips. Without waiting, he pulled her lips into his and closed the gaps between their bodies.

Seri gasped as his tongue invaded her and his hands were quick on her back, continuously drawing her even closer to him. His steak dinner was forgotten as he feasted on his wife, who according to him, was ten times more delicious than the marbled wagyu steak he didn’t want to know how much he should pay for. They kissed for several minutes, until Jeong Hyeok decided they have to move to somewhere with steadier legs so he could do things he had been planning to do to his wife.

Without breaking the kiss, he supported Seri on her ass and lifted her as he stood up. She squealed in delight as Jeong Hyeok carried her to the nearby sitting area so he could sit down, and Seri could straddle him properly. With no patience for finesse, Jeong Hyeok peeled her blazer and tugged on her shirt’s bow until her lacy bra was visible to his hungry eyes.

Seri wasn’t idle either. She quickly made work of his jacket and vest, unbuttoning his crisp white shirt so quickly he wondered where she got the dexterity; from her seven years unbuttoning his shirts or from her line of work in fashion. But his thought was quickly distracted as she pushed his shirt from his shoulder, leaving his broad bare chested visible for her to eye-feasted on. Slowly, she raked her nails lightly over his chest and up to his jaws and hair, drawing a loud sigh from him.

With tenderness neither of them had shown tonight, Seri pulled her husband’s head and proceeded to kiss him slowly and thoroughly while her hips were gyrating on top of his still-clothed lap. Both of them emitted sound so loud and lascivious, fully taking advantage of the empty space surrounding them where nobody would hear them. After sometimes, Jeong Hyeok felt the need to peel everything from his wife because he just needed to see her and proceeded to do just that.

Her blouse was the first thing being discarded on the floor, then her bra and soon following his shirt and belt. She fumbled a bit with his trousers so he helped by lifting his hips so she could shimmy his trousers along with his boxer. He looked at her almost naked body, then decided to keep the skirt but pulled her panties hard until it disintegrated into scraps of lace.

“Soon, I will have to start wearing disposable panties seeing the number of my underwear you have shredded so far,” she mockingly admonished him, but her words were lost as soon as his deft fingers came in contact with her most intimate area.

Just as he nimbly tinkled with his piano, he treated Seri as his most intricate instrument. While his hand was busy pleasuring her from below, his mouth was also busy planting kisses all over her upper body. Nothing left untouched, from her lips, jaw, neck until they landed on her breast. Seri moaned loudly as she was assaulted with pleasure all over her body.

She then looked down and saw Jeong Hyeok was looking at her with such hungry gaze, she decided to get to business now; foreplay be damned. Pulling his hand from her nether area, she stood on her knees and with one smooth thrust impaled herself into Jeong Hyeok. His eyes were widened for a second seeing her speedy change of move but closed his eyes as soon as she started to move.

Both of them emanated sounds neither usually made during their love making in their house, for fear of waking the whole house. But they were taking their liberty that night, knowing nobody would hear them even if they shout their pleasure out loud. Soon, Seri felt the familiar tidal wave coursed through her body as she was preparing for her orgasm. Looking at Jeong Hyeok who was in almost similar state, she whispered in his ears.

“Come inside me my love,” she panted, knowing that her words would spur him into release, “Show me how much you want to be inside me” and he moaned hearing her sultry words. With few more hard thrusts, he stiffened as Seri finally reached her peaks. Both were shuddering as they ride down their orgasm.

After a few minutes, they came from their high and Seri caressed his cheeks lovingly.

“Hope that was anniversary enough for you, my love” she told him, smiling from ear to ear. Grinning mischievously, Jeong Hyeok replied.

“Oh, you won’t have any idea, my love”

~

 After a few moments, Seri released herself from him and stood up, releasing her skirt to join the rest of her clothes on the floor. Looking around, she asked her husband.

“Do you bring clothes for me?” then she turned around and looked at him with mischief, “Or are you expecting me to walk around in my birthday suit until Sunday?”

Jeong Hyeok smirked and stood up as well, not at all shy with his nakedness.

“That’s an intriguing idea, but no. I’ve packed your overnight bag in the bedroom” then he reached her hand to guide her into the bedroom, which was another showstopper. The bedroom was all white like the rest of the suite, with massive California king bed, all covered in white fluffy duvet. All around, fresh flowers were arranged in various vases, giving the room a fantastic feast of smell.

“This is so beautiful; how do you know about this suite?” she asked him as she touched several flower arrangements, and when he didn’t answer she turned around to find him sitting on the bed holding a wrapped box and a remote control.

“What’s that?” she was intrigued but he only motioned her to come closer. As she sat on the bed, Jeong Hyeok gave her the box.

“Happy anniversary” he said smiling, his dimples were showing. Seri was touched, not only he prepared everything, the suite, the flowers, but he also gave her a gift.

“Honey, you shouldn’t have” she told her and gasped as she opened the beautiful box. Inside, there were a couple of silk scarves from her favourite luxury brands. “This is so pretty”

But he gave her a very sly smile. “This come as a set” he told her cryptically, and when she raised her eyebrow, Jeong Hyeok punched some codes in the remote control and she heard something moved above them.

With awe, Seri watched as some parts of the ceiling rolled aside and showed a huge mirror overlooking the massive bed. With a smile, he took the scarves from the box and put them around her shoulder.

“Now, we will have our anniversary”

~

In some part of her brain, the small part where she was still capable of logical thought, she wondered how her husband got the idea for all of this. She knew that after his defection, he was kind of obsessed about understanding how the world works around him; something that was out of reach most of his life living as North Korean citizen. She often caught him spending late nights browsing on his laptop after she fell asleep, multiple tabs of website opened showing international news portal or musical institution.

She wouldn’t be surprised if, in hidden tabs, he opened some adult website as well. Which she didn’t mind. She was never a prude, and it would be lying if she told him she never visited those websites as well.

And now whatever ‘exploring’ he had done, had come off greatly for her as she had lost count the number of orgasms she had tonight. After showing her the mirror ceiling, he gave her the overnight bag he had packed for her.

“We have all night to indulge my love, might as well be comfortable,” he caressed her cheeks and touched her swollen lips, with trace of lipstick smeared from his kisses, “I know how much you hate sleeping with makeup on”

It was a true testament of how attentive he was as a husband seeing what he had packed for her. Not only he packed what she really needed for the weekend off, but her toiletries bag also packed with the correct items she was currently using. Almost. He missed a mark by packing her a non-waterproof mascara instead of the waterproof one; but that was hard, so she still scored him perfectly on that.

Like what he did to her body now with that ice cube.

“Oh God,” she moaned loudly and made a mistake by looking at the mirror on the ceiling. The visual of her, hands tied to the bed post with her new silk scarves and Jeong Hyeok half covered her upper body as he traced her one nipple with ice cube while putting the other one on his mouth was almost enough to make her come again.

“Please Jeong Hyeok-ssi” she pleaded with him, although she honestly didn’t know what she pleads for. He looked up from her breast where he had been spending enough time sucking and nipping and grinned at her.

“What my love, you don’t like this?” he made a show to lick her nipple and smiled as she moaned again, “Or do you prefer me to do this instead?” he then brought his hand that hold the cylinder ice cube into her nether area, causing her to lift her hips up over the sensation.

“Oh God,” she moaned again as the chill came into contact with her intimate area. The sensation was like electrical currents towards the over sensitized fold where he also had spent enough time probing and licking. She closed her eyes as she writhed under his ministration and thanking herself from previous life. Because she must had done something majorly good in her previous life to be able to experience things like this with the person she loved the most.

But suddenly she felt the sensation missing and when she opened her eyes, her husband was already hovering on top of her and his eyes held no more humor as he devoured her lips. Without warning, he entered her in one fluid thrust and she held her breath as she looked up again to the mirror.

She didn’t even notice that her hands had been untied, because the picture of her husband’s broad backside, eagerly thrusting into her was erotic enough to make her lose sense on the limbs other than the part where they were joined. He alternated between long leisure pace and short hard thrust into her. But when she felt he was close to release and she was almost in the state of subspace, he put his hands on either side of her face and asked her to look at him.

“Look at me Yoon Seri,” he told her firmly, “I love you like I have never loved anyone before, and I might not know how to properly love someone”

“But just remember this” he stopped his movement which cause Seri to mewl, “It’s alright for you to go out with men, smile at them, having dinner with them. But don’t forget, that it is me you’re going to go home with, it’s my name you’re going to shout in the middle of night and it’s my seed that’s going to fill you with ecstasy”

She gasped as she heard the intensity of his words and while her eyes locked into him, he started to move again, hard thrust in between words.

“Because you’re mine, you’re mine, you’re mine”

And with a thrust so hard she felt her hips lifted off the bed, they reached their release.

It was truly an anniversary to remember.

~

Seri blinked awake and the first thing she saw was her husband’s naked chest underneath her arms. At first, she was confused with all the whites surrounding her, because she just changed her bed sheet at home with her favourite soft teal yesterday. But when she looked up and saw their reflection in the mirror above their bed, everything came back to her in full force. All of the orgasms and seduction included.

Biting her lips, she traced Jeong Hyeok’s sleeping face. His hair looked the same as it did in the North, without any styling product he sometimes used to slick it back to place. His perfect nose was the prominent feature on his handsome face when his dimples weren’t showing, and his jaw was so sharp she often wondered how many woman would kill to have it so they won’t have to deal with contouring.

Slowly, her hand reached lowed into his jaw and chest. At first, she thought equipping their home gym with those expensive body builder set was an overkill, but seeing the by-product displayed proudly in front of her, she thought every penny was very well spent. When she started to get lower, her wrist was captured by a set of strong hand.

“Keep that up and we will never leave this bed again,” he admonished her though when she looked up, his eyes were twinkling with mischief. Drawing her hand into his lips, he kissed the palm of hand and nuzzled his nose there.

“Good morning my love, how was your sleep last night?” he asked her with that sweet smile of his, causing his dimples to show. Seri giggled as he moved her palm and his lips now settle on her wrist, “I hope the scarves didn’t hurt you last night”

Seri shook her head and true, there was no mark of tie or whatsoever on her wrist.

“You barely made a knot with the scarves, Jeong Hyeok-ssi,” she told him, then added, “At the last part, I have to grip the scarves to stop it become undone”

“Oh really, do you want me to tie it up harder, next time?” he challenged her, then he licked her wrist seductively, “Do you like being tied like that, Yoon Seri?”

She swore her uterus skipped a beat when he talked to her with low voice like that and licked her wrist like that. But she was never one to back down from challenge.

Moving with speed that was uncharacteristic of her at early in the morning, she quickly climbed on top of him and held his wrists.

“I do, my love. Last night, was,” she purred and was delighted when she saw her husband adam’s apple bobbed up and down in effect, “perfect. I didn’t know you had that in you to perform something like that”

He smirked as he exerted a little strength and caught her wrist instead.

“We might be together for 7 years or even 25 years Yoon Seri, but I will always have more on my sleeve to surprise you,” then he added, “Besides, I need to keep you on your toes otherwise those other men would slowly crept out on you”

Hearing that Seri frowned and caressed his cheeks.

“So you’re really jealous aren’t you?” she asked him and he had the grace to look sheepish, “I’ve told you that I would cancel the dinner if you feel unease even a little. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because as I’ve said Yoon Seri, I’m not a teenager,” he smiled, then added with more serious tone, “And I trust you. I know that I can’t chase away every man who desire you, but I know that you won’t have eyes on them and that you will always come back to me. So I’m really okay, but” he suddenly rolled them over so he was hovering over her.

“But that doesn’t mean I can’t fuck them out of you”

Hearing the first obscene word she ever heard from Jeong Hyeok caused Seri to widen her eyes and felt jolted all over her body. With a growl, she pulled his head downwards and kissed him so ferociously their teeth clashed. After a while, she let go and looked him right in the eyes.

“I still have some residue from last night dinner with Cha Sang U,” she told him demurely, “Feel free to fuck it out me right now”

“Consider it done” he retorted and showed her that he meant business.

~