Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With One Foot In: Chapters 2,3,4 and 5

Chapter 2
"Are you really not coming?" my mother asked from my bedroom doorway.

I shook my head and looked down at my new toe pinching shoes. My grandfather's company was celebrating a record year and I'd actually been looking forward to attending the party because I was finally going to meet Han Bi's new girlfriend. With my new life at a new school, it was always great to see a familiar face.

My mother moved closer and tugged at my shirt. "Come on, let's go. You can talk to him tomorrow." She'd recently learned that yelling and screaming didn't do much to me these days so I guess she'd decided to be more understanding.

I shook my head. I'd already not talked to him for about four days and I really wanted to speak to him but the time difference was really pissing me off. Since he was trying to juggle college and his new job and I was at school half the time, it was really hard to talk to him because he was asleep when I was awake and vice versa. Why the did he have to move to the other side of the world?

"Umma, go without me. I'll wait for his call."

My mother shook her head then sat next to me. "Hee Soo yah, I know how much you care about him but he's already moved to the US. Why can't you forget him? If we could, we would but we can't send you over to see him so you're probably never going to see him again."

I moped. I understood that perfectly. If I had to change schools so that they could afford the new baby, there was no way they could send me over there. Besides, I didn't want to move to some country where I'd have to live 14 hours in the past. So I knew that there was no way I was going to see him there. "Maybe he'll come back?"

My mother put her arm around me and pulled me to her. "He's not coming back. Do you know how expensive a ticket it?"

I couldn't pretend I didn't. Even if I started saving every penny I got my hands on, it would take me at least a few years to save over 3 million Won.

"So why don't you come with us? School can't be the only reason you leave the house and I really don't like seeing you mope around. Come out with us."

I shook my head. "In his email, he specifically said that I should wait for his call today. If I leave now, he might get mad that I didn't wait for him. Then when next will I hear from him?"

My mother sighed and got up. "I really shouldn't have let this happen," she said regrettably.


I jumped on the Westbound 'El' train and headed back to my apartment. Since we were trying to save money to move to our own place, it had been hard convincing my mother to let me live away from home. Luckily, my cousin had found someone looking for a roommate so the low rent and proximity to campus helped change her mind.

Even though it was quite a dump and for the first time in my life, I had to deal with living with mice, I did enjoy getting home and resting my head after a hard day of work. But lately, getting home hadn't been completely stress-free.

I did sometimes regret not breaking things off with Hee Soo when I was still in Seoul. Maybe things would have been different if I'd overcome my selfishness and not let things carry on even though I knew I'd be leaving. Or maybe I hadn't realized how much deeper our relationship had become with each passing day.

It certainly is a new day when you realize that the person you fell for and the one you're with aren't one and the same. I'd rarely seen a tear on her face for the few months we were together but now that we were apart, a week couldn't pass without hearing her choked up voice at the other end of the line. It wasn't that I wanted her to be aloof but not only did it make me feel helpless because I couldn't make her feel better, it also hurt to hear how much she was hurting. She always went on about how she was missing me and how much she hated her new school and even how her mother's pregnancy was changing things. Hearing that, I often wondered if she was clinging so hard to me because I was one of the few things she had left from her old life.

I was also getting tired of lying and telling her that everything would be fine because I knew it wouldn't. I couldn't foresee going back to Korea any time soon and she seemed determined to hold on to that fantasy. I often wondered what I'd honestly thought would happen with us once I left. Maybe I'd thought that things would fade and we'd just become friends. Had I really been that naïve?

Whenever she started crying and begging me to come back, I sometimes wanted to shake her and tell her to snap out of it. But how do you do that to someone who's hurting because they care so much about you?

About 30 minutes later, I logged on to my computer and clicked on the skype icon then dialed her number. I braced myself for what I was sure would ensue.

"Oppa?" she said the second she answered the call.

"Hi, Hee Soo. I'm sorry I'm calling late – my group meeting lasted longer than usual."

"You should have left early. Do you know how long I've been waiting for you? We won't even be able to talk for long because Umma will soon come into my room and scream at me. She's really pissed that I didn't go out with them."


"Some company party. Forget about it. She was just angry that I didn't go because I was waiting for your call and when they got back, you still hadn't called. So she's mad because I could have gone and it wouldn't have made a difference. But don't worry – she'll soon get over it."

I groaned. Why did she always have to put everything on hold for me?

"So have you thought about what I said about letting your Dad buy your ticket so you can come over next summer?"

"Hee Soo, I thought we were done with this."

"But I don't get why you won't. So because your parents are broken up, he no longer has any responsibilities to you?"

"That's not the point."

"Then what is it? Why don't you want to come and see him? You don't love him anymore? Maybe you should listen to his side of the story. Maybe he's not really a monster," she said, talking at rapid pace.

I didn't want to mention it but my father was already paying my tuition. "I never said he was a monster."

"Then why don't you want to come and visit him?" When I didn't say anything she said, "Is it about me? You're trying to avoid me? That's why you don't want to come back to Seoul."

"We both know that's absurd." But the truth was, it wasn't. If I came back, things would only get worse because I'd have to leave again. And would seeing her again turn me into some clingy person too? Our relationship was already unhealthy enough as it was.

"Look, Oppa. Just come and visit during your holidays. It's not like you'll be doing anything over there. Just say you'll come, okay? I really need something good to look forward to."

I sighed. "I'll try, Hee Soo."

"Don't try. Do it."

"Okay, I'll see what I can do."

Since she didn't say anything, I knew that she didn't believe me. But could I blame her? I was lying through my teeth.

"Hee Soo, I have to get ready for work and I know that it's really late over there so I'll hang up now. I'll talk to you later."

As I hung up the phone I hoped that someday she'd realize that we couldn't have kept going on like that and any decisions I made, regardless of how cruel they might have seemed, were for both our sakes.

Chapter 3

8 years later

"So how about this weekend?" a voice asked from the other end of the line.

It was one of those things. I was certainly not getting any younger and even though I didn't really want to admit it, I sometimes fantasized about meeting the love of my life and spending an afternoon in my overalls painting our picket fences with him. Since high school, I'd had my share of relationships and obviously, none had ended well otherwise, I'd have been staring at a huge rock on my finger instead of the far too long hairs scattered near my knuckles.

"Hee Soo ssi, are you still there?"

I laughed. "Of course I am. Where would I go?"

"So answer me. Can you fit me in?"

Sang Woo was one of those far too perfect men that you just knew had at least one severe issue. When I'd first met him on the plane, I was certain that he was gay because straight guys never came out so good-looking. It was like God created them just to piss women off. Almost like rubbing a carrot through manure then dangling it in front of a hungry rabbit. How in the world was that fair?

"Hmm…." I said. He'd been a little persistent about hanging out with me so I figured he wasn't gay unless I had an Adam's apple I wasn't aware of. "Maybe Saturday? I'd have to look in my--"

"Come on," he interrupted jovially, "you don't have to look anywhere. Just say yes now and I'll come and pick you up around 8."

I laughed. Harmless flirting never killed anyone, right? So what was the harm? Besides, his name was Sang Woo. How freaking awesome was that? I was about to say something that I hoped was cute when I noticed someone staring at me. I looked up and found myself looking into a pair of eyes. And not just any eyes, those eyes.


"Hey, something's come up so I'll call you back," I said right before I hung up the phone.

Unless I was dreaming or I was suddenly in need of contacts, I was staring right into the eyes of….

"Oppa?" I said as I moved closer to him. What the was I saying? That wasn't him, was it? Did Park Ji Tae even have enough testosterone to grow a moustache? Okay, what the hell was I saying? Like my high school memories didn't prove to me that he did. But what was with the body? The Park Ji Tae I knew didn't look like Kwon Sang Woo under his shirt. And what the hell was wrong with me? Why was I suddenly reverting to my teen years and thinking about Kwon Sang Woo again?

But no, it couldn't be him, could it? "Park Ji Tae?" I said with trepidation.

I half expected the guy standing there in loose jeans and a t-shirt to look at me like I was crazy but I knew I was in trouble when he smiled at me and called my name.


"Look!" Yun Ah yelled, pointing behind me.

She looked like she'd seen a ghost and frankly speaking, since it was already nighttime, I really didn't want to go to bed with such an image in my head but I turned around anyway and lo and behold, there he was, smiling back at us. She was right – he was a ghost. A ghost from my part. It was oh-so-corny and 100% true.

So what was the deal? I hadn't seen him in 8 years but somehow he thought he could just waltz back into my life? Was that the new trend in America? He couldn't return my calls for almost 8 years but somehow he felt that he could meet me in a mall and suddenly we'll be cool again? He'd been in the country for over a year and he hadn't even bothered to look me up but after a chance meeting, he thought he could just come back to me? He smiled at me and I immediately put my hand on my belly to keep it from bursting. What the was wrong with me?

He exchanged pleasantries with Yun Ah and her date then pulled a chair and sat down at our table. What was the bastard doing?

"Didn't your friends show?" I asked. During our chance meeting, he'd told me that he'd be meeting with his friends later on. And after we'd exchanged numbers and he'd left, I decided that it was just one of those things that meant nothing. It wasn't a big deal to meet someone from your childhood, even if he was your first love. First love, twelfth love, whatever. A guy was just a guy and it was no big deal, right? But why was he back? "I thought you were going to celebrate signing your contract," I accused.

He nodded and smiled. As in, looked at me piercingly and smiled.

Stop smiling at me, you fu.cker! I looked away from him. I was a mature career woman and mature career women didn't turn into mush because some ass.hole from their past batted their long-lashed eyes at them.

He glanced at Yun Ah then back at me. "They showed up but I rescheduled." He shrugged. "We can celebrate tomorrow. Tomorrow is a good a day as any, don't you think?" He reached across and picked up my menu. "What looks good?" he asked, skimming it.

Yun Ah gave me an inquisitive look and I explained about our chance meeting with him chipping in from time to time. When I was done with my explanation, she just looked at us and shook her head.

I placed my head on the table. What had possessed me to go to the mall?

Chapter 4

"Hey," Yun Ah said, pushing my door open. "What are you still doing up?" She stepped into my bedroom and shut the door behind her.

After my mother had begun to nag me about working too much and not having a boyfriend, I'd moved out of the house and into Yun Ah's spare bedroom. We'd been rooming together even before I went to Australia.

I shrugged. "I guess I can't sleep." And if I wanted to sleep, I'd have to clear away all the photographs that were strewn all over my bed.

She sat at the end of my bed and picked one of the photos up and smiled. I looked over to see which one it was. It was one I'd taken with Ji Tae at some restaurant shortly before he left for America. In it, I was laughing and pulling his cheeks while he rolled his eyes and stuck his tongue out. I bet we'd thought we were being cute or something. How nauseating!

"You guys really looked good together," she commented. She looked up at me and sighed. "So what are you going to do now?"

"About what?" I asked, shrugging. I reached across and started picking the pictures up. "I don't even know why I held on to these for so long. I should have thrown them out a long time ago."

She put her hand on mine and held it in place. "Throwing them out isn't going to stop what's going on in your head."

I rolled my eyes. "Nothing's going on. I only remembered them because I saw him today. As you can see," I said pointing at the empty box, "I haven't touched it in a while. Can't you see how dusty it is?" I looked around my room. "I have so much junk. I need to start getting rid of stuff that's doing nothing but taking up space and I was just starting with these."

She hissed and from the expression on her face, I could tell that she didn't believe me. "I'm no expert but from the way he was looking at you at dinner, I think he really missed you. And he was acting so cute. I don't remember him talking so much."

Yes, he'd been nice but that didn't mean When you run into someone you haven't seen in a long time, you're usually extremely friendly. "Look, he must have been bored or lonely or something. He was probably just trying to get away from his boring friends. And he doesn't miss me. He dumped me, remember? And I don't care, anyway. It was so long ago!"

She rolled her eyes. "He didn't dump you. He just stopped calling. Maybe he lost your number."

I scowled. "Bi.tch, please."

She laughed. "But seriously, I know it's been a long time but I think you still feel something for him otherwise you wouldn't be looking at these pictures."

"And where did you get your Ph.D, Dr. Know Nothing? They are just memories. They don't mean"

"They do mean a lot because you never got closure. Don't forget I was there when it all fell apart so I know how it affected you."


She rubbed her hand on mine reassuringly. "I really think he might call you and if he does, don't be your usual self. Just talk to him and try to find out if you still have feelings for him. Then you can move on with your life."

I scoffed. "I've already moved on. And I don't feel anything for him – it's been such a long time. Wouldn't I be a complete loser to still think about him? And even if I did, it would be my 17 year old self thinking about his 18 year old self and not really me thinking about him. Besides, aren't you jumping the gun here? We just had dinner – it doesn't mean that he's interested in me."


"You may go in," the secretary said, leading me into the CEO's office. My firm had been hired to design a new state-of-the-art office building for one of the top companies in Seoul. I'd been assigned to a team of architects but shortly after the project commenced, our lead architect got scouted by one of your competitors and for some reason, I'd been appointed as the new head. It was both scary and exciting because I never really liked the direction we'd been taking the project but on the other hand, my career was now riding pretty heavily on what I did.

I walked into the office and shook the old man's hand. It was my very first one-on-one meeting with him and I was trying my best to shake the nerves off. He'd suddenly scheduled the meeting and because we were no longer going with my predecessor's ideas thus recreating the first drafts, I was a little nervous about showing them to him in the absence of the rest of our teams. We still had a week left on our deadline but because I was meeting with him, I'd spent the last two nights working on the rough schematics so that I could at least have something reasonable to present.

"Why don't you sit down, Miss Kim?" he requested.

"Thank you, sir. I hope all is well with you," I said as soon as I sat down.

He nodded and after the usual pleasantries, he said, "I called this meeting because I wanted you to know that I was the one that recommended that you lead this project."

I tried my best not to raise my brow and appear as straight faced as I could. Why would he do that?

"I spoke to some people at your Australian office," he continued, "and was told that you showed great promise. Also, some of my colleagues have been pleased with your contributions at the planning meetings."

"Thank you sir," I said. The corporate world was a funny one and I wondered if he was saying all this just to make sure I kissed his ass. If he was, I wished I could tell him not to bother because as the person with my career in his hands, I'd planned on kissing his ass anyway.

"I also had another reason for recommending you."

"I see." I braced myself and prayed that he wasn't going to compliment my looks. It's not that I would ever consider sleeping my way to the top but geriatrics were definitely out of the question.

"Do you know that I was close to your grandfather?" he said out of nowhere.

"Which one?" I blurted before realizing how unprofessional I sounded.

He smiled. "Both of them, actually. I played golf with your maternal grandfather and when he told me he was looking for a new supplier, I introduced him to your paternal grandfather who I'd attended university with." He leaned forward and in a conspiratory tone said, "This was when your grandfather's company was still expanding so I like to think I played an important role in the success of his company," he finished.

"Thank you, sir," was the only response I could come up with.

"I always regretted not getting involved when they fell out of terms with one another and my regret only deepened since their deaths. So if you don't mind, I'll like to make that up through you."

Through me? I wasn't sure that I wanted to know what he had in mind so I quickly said, "Thank you, but there's no need, sir. I am very excited about this project and any work I do will be up to my company's standards and reputation."

He nodded. "That goes without saying and I expect no less. But if you ever need anything, don't hesitate to ask. In fact, I insist that you do. What I am saying is that I am here for you. "


I looked at the photos I'd taken from the yet to be demolished building on the site of the new building. Then I looked at the sketches I'd made. Something just didn't feel right. I was already chewing on my nails when my cell phone rang.

Everyone with half a brain knew not to call me on my cell phone during work hours so when it rang, I knew it had to be important. So without looking at the caller-id, I answered it. "Hello?"

"Hee Soo?"

I took my eraser and rubbed off one of the walls on the diagram. "Who is this?"

"It's Ji Tae."

I slowly tore my eyes off my sketch and sat up. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't expected a call from him. "Hi."

"Hello," was all he said.

Wow. After all that time, that was all we could say to each other? I listened to him breathe and waited for his next words.

"It's been a long time since we've spoken on the phone, hasn't it?"


After some more silence he said, "You're not saying anything. I'm not sure that's what I expected."

"Expected? What are you talking about?"

"I don't know. Forget it."

"Dude, what the hell are you talking about?" We did a bit more of the whole silence thing and I was beginning to get frustrated. "Why did you call?"

"Hey, chill. I just wanted to catch up. We hadn't spoken for a while when we ran into one another. It only makes sense that we talk. So let's talk. How have you been?"

The conversation was obviously going nowhere. "Look, I don't have time for this. What's your email address? We can catch up that way. Tell me your email address and I can give you a summary of what I've been doing for the last 8 years." Then you can bake a cake and celebrate.

He burst out laughing. "You want to email me?" He laughed a bit more. "You actually want to email me? Wow, you really haven't changed."

I frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. Let's meet up sometime. I don't have many friends here so it'll be great to see a familiar face. "

"You've been in town for over a year and you haven't made any friends?"

"I spent the entire time locked up in a room with two guys trying to get my company off the ground. So, yes."

And what about his old high school friends? Had he dropped them too? "I see," I said, looking at my watch. He really was taking up far too much of my time.

"So let's hang out and catch up. Maybe go out for a meal or something."

Why would I want to eat with him? "Sorry but that'll be impossible. I'm just so busy."

"I'm busy too but I'm sure we can squeeze out a few hours. There must be a reason we ran into each other, don't you think?"

Yes, the reason was that we were at the mall at the same time. What was so special about that?

"Maybe sometime during the weekend?" he suggested.

"Park Ji Tae, I work weekends too but I'm spending the few hours I have with this guy I'm seeing." Okay, so why did I feel the need to say that?

"You're seeing someone?"

His tone really pissed me off. Why did he say it like it was completely unexpected? There was no way I was that ugly. "Of course. Shouldn't I be?"

He chuckled. "Yes you should. But we should still catch up sometime."

"Sure." I gave him my email address. "It was great running into you. Write me when you're free."


I sat across Sang Woo and watched him eat his salmon. We were at a seafood restaurant and I was a little pissed that I'd ordered the Thai Bouillabaisse that sounded and looked so good on the menu but when I got it, I saw that it was just full of water and vegetables. What happened to the meat… or fish or whatever? Every spoonful made me feel like a goat. The restaurant was so damn lucky I wasn't going to be paying for my dinner otherwise they'd have had to take me out in handcuffs. What the Which kind of sea food restaurant was so stingy with the damn seafood?

"You don't like your food?" he said, looking at my barely touched dinner.

I shook my head. "Not really."

"And mine is so good. Why don't you order something else?"

I shrugged. "It's okay. I'm not that hungry anyway."

"Alright," he said before taking a sip of wine. "The food here is normally great. I'm surprised you don't like yours. Are you sure you don't want a taste of my salmon? The cilantro in the sauce really enhances the taste."

I nodded like I gave two farts about cilantro and salmon. One sign you were having a bad date was when your entire conversation surrounded the dinner you were having. Another was when your eyes kept darting at the door.

It wasn't that I was staring at the door because I wanted to leave. No. I mean, leaving wouldn't have been the worst option but that wasn't the main reason. It was that for some reason, I was expecting Ji Tae to walk through it.

Of course, it made no sense for him to show up at my restaurant but if we were characters in a soap opera, he definitely would have. It was just that I wanted him to walk in and after our eyes met from across the room, I'd smile lovingly at my date and he'd see that he had no right to think that he could just start calling me all willy-nilly eight years after dumping me.

But of course, he didn't and when the bill came and Sang Woo and I walked out of the restaurant, I was so upset at myself that I'd spent an entire date smiling at one man while thinking about another. What kind of woman was I?

Chapter 5

"Miss Kim speaking," I answered into my office phone.

"Hey, Hee Soo ssi," Michelle our receptionist said. "You have a visitor."

I was in the process of looking over my team's work and I really didn't want anything disrupting my flow. It was hard enough as it was ignoring my rumbling stomach just so I could keep at it.

"Who is it?" Because of the magnitude of the project, most of my usual client work was being taken care off by some of my colleagues.

"He didn't want to say. He says it's a surprise."

"Surprise?" What da…? "Michelle ssi, you know better." It would have been a different thing if we were working at a haunted house because even getting fired never came as a surprise at my firm.

"Yeah, I do. But I think it's personal," she said, lowering her voice. "He's kinda cute. He's not wearing a suit so I doubt he's a client and he's got two huge bags I suspect are filled with food." She paused. "So should I send him in?"

I thought about it. I'd only spoken to Sang Woo once since our last date so I doubted he'd try to surprise me or anything. So unless my father suddenly got bored at work, I knew it could only be one person and I really wasn't in the mood to see Park Ji Tae.

"Tell him I'm not in."

She laughed. "He can already see me talking to you."

I looked at my watch – it was shortly after noon. Wasn't it a little early for Why were people always trying to drive me to drink in the afternoons? "Okay, put him on the phone."

"I already suggested that but he refused."

I groaned. "I don't have time for this. Tell him that I'm really busy so if he doesn't tell you who he is, I can't make time for him."

"Okay," she said before putting me on hold. A few seconds later, she was back on the line. "He says his name is Yong Ki Won."

Huh? "Are you sure?" Ki Won's work dress code was business-casual so it could have been him but I wasn't quite convinced. "Describe him."

"Tall, cute, holding food."

I rolled my eyes. "How about something a bit more specific?"

"Like what?"

"Like does he have any facial hair?"

She was quiet for a few moments. "Hmm… not that I can see."

I chuckled. Ki Won was such an idiot. It had been a while since I'd seen that bugger but it wasn't the first time he'd dropped in unexpectedly on me. He worked at the other side of town but sometimes, when he was at my end, he dropped in to say hello.

"He's probably forgotten how to get to my office. Give him directions and send him in. Thanks, girl."


"Come in," I said, after hearing the knock at the door. I swiveled my chair around and faced the door.

"Hi," Ji Tae said, walking into my office.

The minute my eyes fell on his face, my smile faded. Instead of looking at the still handsome former Kingka, I was looking at him. "What the hell?"

"Nice to see you too," he said dryly.

"Wow, you must really think you're a comedian or something. Your name is Yong Ki Won?"

He laughed. "I thought it was a brilliant idea."

I shook my head in disgust. "What happened to your face?" I asked.

He patted his face, searching for the problem. "What's wrong with it?"

I ran my finger over my top lip. "What happened there?"

He smiled. "You noticed?" he asked, tapping his non-existent moustache.

I rolled my eyes. How wouldn't I notice a missing line from his face? He looked more like his old self which didn't sit quite well with me. "Grow it back."

He narrowed his eyes. "Huh?"

"What do you want?"

He shrugged. "Nothing," he said, walking over to my desk which was across from my worktable where I was sitting. "I was hungry and thought that you might be too so I brought lunch," he said, placing the bags on the table.

"I'm really busy."

He looked at me and nodded. "I figured. But you still need to eat."

I folded my arms across my chest. "You really should have called first."

"I thought about that but I didn't think you'd take it. Plus I already did as you requested and emailed you but you never replied except for that one forward I received about some monkey virus that had recently been detected in humans."

I hid a smile.

He tilted his head and looked at me pointedly. "I'm still trying to figure out why you sent that one."

"It's not a big deal – I sent it to everyone on my email list. I just thought it was an interesting story."

"I really don't believe that. Anyway, let's eat," he said, taking the containers of food out of the bags. "So I have noodles in here, and I also got some barbequed beef…." Then he proceeded to mention practically every single thing I liked to eat. He ended with an amused look on his face.

I glared at him in disgust. "You really are a bastard," I said, looking at the spread.

He chuckled. "So does that mean you'll eat something?"

I looked at all that food and tried my best not to lick my lips. So I could either give in and eat to my heart's content and let him win or not touch the food just like I wouldn't have if he hadn't managed to scam his way into my office. I decided that my dignity was worth more than a bowl of noodles.

I wiped all emotion off my face. "Ji Tae, I'm really not that hungry."

He laughed. "Okay. Since I've already brought everything out, would you mind if I ate here?"

I shrugged. "Do whatever you like," I said, turning back to my work. It would have been nice to say that I immediately got back to work but it's not easy to concentrate when a bastard is sitting not too far away, munching away like a Neanderthal.


Even though I was no longer living at home and Mi Soo was living in the dorms, we were required to make biweekly visits home. This quality time usually began with us sitting at the table for lunch and ended with us in the living room watching crap. The one great thing I loved about it was that I got to spend time with my little brother, Jin Soo. Because I was pretty much an adult by the time he was born, we'd never really grown up together. So I took the visits home and the occasional babysitting assignments as a way of bonding with him.

We were all sitting in the living room watching a really asinine game show and not for the first time in the last few years, I wondered what the hell I'd seen in Xman. Or had the show just gone down the drain? I was ignoring the television and sitting with Jin Soo and looking over his homework when I decided to just tell everyone that Ji Tae was back in town.

"I see," was all my father said.

I looked at my mother but just as I expected, she didn't really react. For a while, she was actually angrier at Ji Tae than I was. I guess she just didn't like to see me in pain.

Mi Soo watched my parents for a few seconds then turned to me. "Oppa is back?" she asked, frowning. "How come he didn't call me?

"Why are you asking me?" What kind of stupid question was that? "He didn't call me either. But you're now old enough to date him so why don't you look him up in the phonebook and call him up?"

She laughed. "Someone's getting testy," she teased. "What's with the anger? Don't worry, I won't call him up. It's not like I was really ever your competition."

I opened my mouth then shut it right back. What a It was too bad that she was now a grown woman so if I punched her in the face, there was a good chance that she'd punch me right back. I snarled at her. "You know what? Just shut up."

"I hope that his return doesn't change anything," my mother suddenly said.

"Change what?" I asked.

"Do you remember how you stopped eating? You lost so much weight," Mi Soo decided to volunteer. "You know what?" she said, looking me over, "you could stand to lose a few pounds. So maybe--"

"Shut up!" I yelled. How could someone be so evil? Plus I hadn't even gained a pound in the last few years. "Gosh, I hate you."

She laughed. "I hate you so much right now! AHHHH!" she sang. It was a line from a Kelis song.

I laughed. What a stupid child.

"Hee Soo yah," my mother started, "I'm just saying that you know how that boy affected you before. I don't want you to go through that again. Just stay away from him."

"Jeez, Umma. Don't start imagining things. Did I say anything about being with him? I just said he's back in town. Why is your wife always jumping into conclusions?" I asked my father jovially.

"See this child," my mother said, getting up from the couch and slapping me on my head.

"Ouch," I said, ducking from her next blow. "I'm going to call child services on you."

"Umma, don't beat Noona," my lovely Jin Soo said, jumping between us to protect me.

"Did you hear that, Umma?" I said, hugging him. "Don't hit Noona!"

She laughed then sat down in an exaggerated huff. "Because you're now making money, you think you can talk to me anyhow? Honey," she said, turning to my father, "you see what you caused? Because you let her move out, she's lost her home training. We should make you come back and learn how to respect your elders. Instead of trying to find a husband, you are talking back to me. Speaking of which, one of my clients was telling me about her son who's just opened his own medical practice. I saw his picture and he's really good looking. I told her that you'll meet him. When are you free?"

I groaned. Not again.

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