Hey, Michelle," I called as I walked past the receptionist desk. "How are things?"
"Great, considering I am heading home in...," she said, looking at the clock, "in like 12 minutes."
"I'm so jealous," I replied. I'd just come back from inspecting the construction site and even though the building was coming along nicely, I still had some notes to go through.
"So what have you got planned for tonight?" she asked as she arranged her desk.
I shrugged. "Nothing really. I'll probably be working for another thirty minutes or so then I guess I'll go home and sleep," I joked.
She shook her head and tsked. "Someone your age should have plans on a Friday night. Go out and find a life, you know, have some fun," she said, moving her hands up and down enthusiastically.
She was right. I wasn't as busy as I'd been in the previous months and now that Yun Ah was getting more involved with Han Bi, I spent more and more of my free time alone. Maybe it was time to go searching for some semblance of a life.
I walked into the club and scanned it for Eun Jung Unnie. Years after Drama Club, she was still a social butterfly and she constantly sent me e-vites for parties she was either organizing or attending so earlier in the evening, when I went through my emails, I wasn't surprised to find details for a party being held at a club that night. I walked around the room searching for her and when my eyes finally found her, I waved vehemently to catch her attention. Less than a minute later, she waved back.
With a huge grin, she walked across the room and hugged me. The years since high school had been good to her and she was definitely looking great. She still wasn't skinny but she'd now acquired a slim physique. When she released me, she folded her arms and frowned at me.
"What?" I asked, smiling back at her with an arched brow.
"You've finally shown up to a party. It's about time."
I laughed then straightened my face and shrugged. "I had nothing better to do so you were the first person I thought of."
"Wow," she said, shaking her head. "That really makes me feel special." She pulled me into another hug. "It's so good to see you." She let go of me and suddenly started searching the room.
"What are you looking for?"
Instead of replying, she scanned the room further then suddenly grabbed my wrist. "Come, there's someone I want to you meet."
I pulled my hand away. "You want me to meet someone? I never asked for that."
"So what? I think you're perfect for each other." She took my hand again. "I just hope he didn't bring a date today," she said to herself.
"You're trying to fix me up with a guy with a girlfriend?"
"Of course not. He doesn't have a girlfriend – he just dates a lot. But that's because he hasn't met you yet."
"Aww, how sweet," I said sarcastically. Was she really trying to set me up with a serial dater? I grimaced at her and wondered where she'd found her free drugs. I pulled her fingers off my wrist but in a matter of seconds, her hand was grasping it again.
"Unnie, leave my hand alone!" I demanded, as I dug my heels into the floor so that she couldn't pull me along.
But apparently, my strength couldn't match hers because she still managed to drag me half-way across the room till she stopped right next to a guy nursing a bottle of beer in his hand.
"Kim Hee Soo, I'll like you to meet Shim Hyun Su. Oppa, this is the girl I've been telling you about. She's finally come out of her little hole."
I sent her an evil look then turned my attention back to the guy standing in front for me. He was tall. Okay, not quite tall but taller than me. Surely, that had to count for something? His hair wasn't cropped short but it wasn't long either – kind of spiky on top but lower on the sides. He had eyes, his nose was proportional to his face and his lips weren't too thin. The striking thing about his face was his very distinct jaw – like someone had taken some sandpaper and shaped it in place. Okay, so he was no Sang Woo – either of them – but he was cute enough and maybe just what the doctor had ordered.
"Nice to meet you," he said, stretching his hand out to me.
I put my hand in his and shook it. He had a firm grip, and I noticed that his hand was quite large. I took the opportunity to check the rest of him out. He looked like he'd just gotten off work and was wearing a nice shirt and slacks plus his shoes looked pretty expensive. All in all, Eun Jung could have done worse.
Eun Jung went on to volunteer our occupations and it turned out that he was an investment banker with one of the top firms in Seoul.
"Oh, and Oppa, Hee Soo is 25 years old."
My head snapped around so fast that it almost fell off my neck. "Unnie, what the hell? Why don't you grab a mic and announce my age to the entire room?"
"Oh, should I?" she teased.
Hyun Su laughed before I could respond to her. "25 is a nice age," he said.
I rolled my eyes. "I didn't say it was bad but there was no reason for her to tell you." I smiled at him. "You have an unfair advantage now. So how old are you?"
Not bad. A slightly older guy with a great job who didn't look too bad. I raised my brow. "I guess we're both old," I said.
"Well, it looks like my job here is done," Eun Jung said. "I'll leave you two alone."
Hyun Su spotted an emptying table so we went over and sat down
"So how come I haven't seen you at one of these things?" he asked.
"Busy." I told him about the office building that I'd been working on.
"Cool. So I guess that explains why you're still single."
I chuckled at his segue. He certainly wasn't as smooth as he thought he was but I was okay with it. "Why I'm still single? I guess that could explain it. But I'm a little less busy now so I've decided to have a little bit of fun."
He nodded. "Yeah, it's important to find a good balance."
"Yeah, all work and no play…." Dang. Did I really just say that? He didn't react to my lameness so I continued. "Since you seem to have found the balance, why are you still single?"
"Well, I just got out of a relationship."
I had to stop myself from groaning. Eun Jung wanted to make me the rebound girl? What the hell? "But Eun Jung said that you don't have relationships and just date."
He shook his head in annoyance. "Gosh, her mouth is too big. I broke up with my girlfriend about 5 or 6 months ago and haven't had anything serious since."
"How long were you guys together?"
"7 years and you're already dating? Haven't you ever heard of a grieving period?"
"Well, I didn't see anyone for about 3 months, so I guess that was my grieving period."
I shook my head. "Haven't you heard that the grieving period should be half as long as the relationship? So in your case, that's three and a half years," I joked.
He bellowed with laughter. "So a couple that's been married for 32 years can't date other people till 16 years later?"
I chuckled. "Hey, I don't make the rules," I said innocently.
After about twenty minutes of casual conversation, he said, "We need to hang out sometime."
I broadened my smile. The annoying thing about flirting was that sometimes you felt that your cheek muscles were going to give way. "Is this your way of asking for my number?"
"Well," I said, looking at my watch, "I haven't even known you for 30 minutes so I need more time to make sure you're not a serial killer."
"Well, if I were a serial killer, I'm sure I wouldn't even need to get your number from you. I could easily google you and I bet I'd at least get your work number," he said matter-of-factly.
"What are you trying to say?"
"I'm saying that there's really no need to be so protective. Because with the way the internet is, you can pretty much get a lot of information on most people in a matter of minutes. If your landline isn't unlisted, I can probably get that from yellowpages.com. So that's both home and work numbers."
I nodded. "If your plan is to creep me out, it's definitely working."
He chuckled and narrowed his eyes. "In that case, mission accomplished?"
I stared at him from the corner of my eye and hoped that he was only teasing because the last thing I needed was some psycho on my tail. I got off my chair. "I need to get something to drink – I'll be right back."
"Did I scare you?" he asked seriously.
I laughed. "No. I just need another drink."
"Don't worry, I'll get it," he said, getting up.
"No, I'm fine – my legs are still working." I demonstrated it by tapping my laps.
"Oh, you're one of those feminist types?"
I burst out laughing. "So a woman needs to be a feminist to want to get herself a drink? Maybe I haven't yet decided what I want so I'm going to figure it out when I get to the bar. Did you think about that?"
He sat back down. "Okay, okay. Sorry. Can you get me another beer while you're there?"
"What looks good?" I asked the bartender. I leaned over the bar and looked at the numerous bottles of alcohol. "What do you recommend?"
He shrugged. "It depends on what you like," he said with an expression that showed that his mind was a million miles away.
"Okay, how about some Malibu and orange? And one Heineken. Thanks!"
After I got my drinks and was heading back to my seat, as bad luck would have it, I spotted someone that looked like Ji Tae leaning against a wall. I tried to look away but I couldn't help but take a closer look and lo and freaking behold, it was him. He was pretty much dressed identically to Hyun Su which was slightly surprising because he wasn't wearing his usual jeans. I smirked and was about to continue on my journey back to the lovely man waiting for me when a lady suddenly slinked to him and kissed him on the cheek. He smiled in response and took her hand.
When she turned her face, I could tell that she was actually pretty till she smiled and revealed her teeth. I mean, come on, what the hell? Her teeth were so big that I could almost count them from across the room.
As if she could tell what I was thinking, she suddenly frowned and moved closer to him and in response, he caressed her arm in a comforting fashion. The entire scene turned my stomach and I almost threw up in my drink.
But seriously, what was going on? Unless she was his long lost sister and she and Ji Tae had embarked on an incestuous relationship, Ms. Roger Rabbit was his new girlfriend. Three months after telling me he still had feelings for me, he had a new girlfriend? What the hell? Why couldn't guys just respect the goddamn grieving period?