I tiptoed down the stairs, down the hall and towards the Chosun room. Then I carefully opened the door, walked through it then shut the door behind me. With Ji Tae watching me curiously, I walked over to the bed, jumped underneath the covers and laid my head on the pillow.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
He was sitting up and watching television.
"I was bored all alone in my room. And don't worry – I'm wearing my chastity belt so I'm not trying to defile Halmoni's house. So you can relax. My room just feels cold." And different. In the past, I'd always shared it with Mi Soo but being all alone in that room, without the usual noise of my family made me feel alone.
"Well, I'm watching the news," he informed me before focusing his attention back to the screen.
"Well, watch it. Did I tell you to stop?"
After leaving my mom's gravesite, we'd done the whole tourist thing which meant that we'd pretty much visited all sights of interest by 5pm. Then we returned to my grandma's house, relaxed then had dinner with her.
A few minutes later, when my eyes had begun to feel heavy, I heard Ji Tae call me.
"What?" I asked without looking up.
"Today at the gravesite, you told your mom that you love me," he said in a monotone.
"I'm talking to you. Open your eyes."
Gosh. Why couldn't a girl get some sleep in somebody else's room? I opened my eyes and looked at him. "Happy now?"
"You told Umonim but never told me. Why?" He switched the television off, put the remote control on the nightstand then laid down next to me. Then he reached across and ran his fingers through my hair. Why the fu.ck was this guy so obsessed with my hair? But for some reason, I liked it when he did it and even when he went as far as scratching my scalp. But then again, I'd even liked it when my mother did it to me as a kid… till she found lice.
He looked me directly in the eyes. "Hee Soo yah, why haven't you told me?"
I sighed. "I guess I'm not sure what this feeling is. I used the word 'love' to describe it to my mom but is that what it really is? Yeah, you learn from experiences. I know joy because I've felt it. I know hunger because I've felt it. I know anger because I've felt it…"
"But you don't know love because you've never felt it?"
I chuckled. "I know this feeling that I've only had twice in my life and both times, it's been because of you. I know that seeing you makes me smile." I paused. It was funny how long I'd struggled with these feelings but now that I'd accepted them, my world didn't end. If anything, it had had the opposite effect. "I know that kissing you makes me happy, I know that seeing you hurt makes me sad, I know that pissing you off sometimes tickles the hell out of me, I know that being near you calms me. I know…"
"Sounds like love to me," he interrupted. He smiled and pulled me closer till our bodies were touching. "It's exactly how I feel. If it's love, it's love," he murmured before kissing my forehead. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close.
"Hmm," I said to his collarbone, "but that word doesn't quite seem to fit. How about I just call it something else?"
"How about David Park?"
He moved his head back and looked at me with a lifted brow. "What?"
I chuckled. "Don't you think it's appropriate since this feeling is unique to you?"
"So you David Park me?" he asked incredulously.
I shook my head. "Of course not. I simply David Park. Oppa, I David Park," I said earnestly. Yep, right there, hearing him breathe against my ear, feeling his skin next to mine, I simply David Park-ed.
"What the hell? You David Park? You're telling me that you me? Doesn't that sound silly to you?"
I shook my head. No, it sounded right.
"Why don't you just say that it's love and call it a day? You can define love anyway you want."
I sighed. He just didn't get it. "Okay."
We talked a bit more about nothing much and just as I was once again feeling that heaviness in my eyes, I said, "Park Ji Tae...."
"It means I love you, you dummy." Didn't he say he'd been to France? "Oppa, I love you."
I walked into Ji Tae's office just as Min Gi was leaving. "Hey, is that for us?" he asked, pointing at my bag of take-out.
"Did you give me any money?" I countered. It was apparent that Ji Tae's friends somehow expected me to always bring food for them whenever I dropped by but hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, they'd realize that I am just not that person.
About a minute later, Min Gi and Chan Ho left Ji Tae and me alone in the office.
"So how are you?" I asked, pushing Min Gi's chair to his and sitting in it. "I brought Chinese."
"Thanks. Hopefully, things will die down soon and I won't have to work so late anymore."
I shrugged. "It's not a big deal. I work late almost everyday."
"Well," he said, raising his eyebrows impishly and reaching into his desk drawer, "I have something for you." He pulled out a gift wrapped box and handed it to me. "Happy Valentine's Day," he said.
I stretched my neck over and kissed him on the cheek then turned my attention back to the box and shook it. "Is this some kind of book?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. You're going to have to open it to find out."
I reached into my bag, picked up his gift and handed it to him. "Here's yours."
I unwrapped my gift and saw that it was an album. When I flipped it open and looked at the table of contents, I saw that it was an album filled with photographs and he'd separated them according to our relationship timeline. 'Before Us' had photos of us as kids, 'Our First Time' had photos of us together nine years earlier and 'The Lost Years' had the photos of us taken after then. I flipped over to the section simply labeled, 'Us' and found it empty. I flipped back to 'The Lost Years.'
"Where did you get all these photos from?" I asked. He'd somehow managed to get almost all of my photos taken on important days like my graduation from college and high school and even our Christmas photo from when I came home from Australia. He'd also placed them together so that my college graduation picture was next to his college graduation picture. It was my first time of seeing it and boy did he look so cute. I felt a little twinge of sadness for missing it.
He shrugged. "It wasn't a big deal. I only asked Yun Ah and your father."
I smiled at him. "This is so sweet," I said, running my fingers on the cover, "all I got you was a watch," I said, suddenly feeling really awful. How come I couldn't have been more thoughtful and creative with mine?
"I need a new one anyway," he said, taking the one on his wrist off. "Well, something interesting happened today. Even though they only stocked our game yesterday, I went to the store today, just to see if anyone had noticed but guess what they told me?"
I felt a lump jump into my throat. Oh sh.it. "What?" I asked slowly.
"That a young lady this tall," he said, raising his hand up, "and this fat—"
"They did not use the word 'fat'," I interjected.
He chuckled. "You are right. But basically, they said you'd bought all 30 copies this morning."
I looked down to hide my face. Darn. I didn't even get to keep the secret for a full day. And I'd planned on acting like I knew nothing about it when he received a call from the store asking him for a new shipment. I just wanted to put smile on his face and make him feel even more optimistic about his company.
He placed his finger under my chin and raised my face up to his. "You didn't have to do that."
I shrugged. "I was only saving money on Christmas presents. They were dirt cheap so it would have been stupid to not take this opportunity to buy such a great gift at that price. It's hardly a big deal."
"You can be so cute," he said before kissing me softly on the lips. Then he inched back and looked in my eyes. "Thank you."
I smiled when I remembered something. "Oppa, do you know that this is the 9th year anniversary of our first kiss?"
Yep. Me, him, library, necklace, kiss under the moonlight. I nodded then kissed him to jog his memory.
We'd spent a few minutes looking at the album together when I got an idea. I picked up my phone and flipped it open. Then I moved my head next to his and told him to smile and say 'kimchi.'"
As I clicked the button, I knew that this would be the first of many photographs to fill the 'Us' section of our album. And if all went as we both hoped, in no time, we'd probably have to buy another one.
Over a year later…
"Phew! I can't believe they finally got married," I said to Ji Tae as we walked out of Ki Won's reception. We stepped onto the parking lot and headed towards his car. "Who would have guessed that her career would explode so quickly that it would be so hard to find a day to get married? I guess that's what he gets for being with a successful woman."
"Good thing I have you, then."
"What the fu.ck?" I said, turning to Ji Tae and hitting him.
He clamped onto my hand and wouldn't let go. Then he pulled me to him. "So are you going to marry me or what?" he suddenly asked, looking down at me
What the hell did I just hear? I smirked back at him. "What did you just say?"
"I said we should get married."
I pushed him off me and kept on walking. "You are NOT proposing to me in a parking lot. Remember when we were in Paris walking down the Champs-Élysées and looking at the Arc de Triomphe? Or both of us together in that beautiful restaurant in the Eiffel Tower where the waiters—"
"You know we've never actually been to Paris, right?" he interrupted. He'd caught up with me and was walking beside me.
I nodded. "Yes. But I've mentioned it so many times that in my mind, I've already been there a thousand times! Okay, forget Paris. What about a nice little restaurant, or even your apartment—"
He shook his head. "Nope. I've have this ring for a while now," he said, pulling out a small, black ring box from his pocket, "and I've been trying to find the best time to say what I have to say but you know what? There's no time like the present."
"Well, I'm not listening to it," I said before covering my ears and humming to block out all sounds.
He was struggling to pull my hands off my ears when an older lady stopped a few feet in front of us to make sure that I was okay. She'd already pulled out her phone and from what I could see, was ready to call the police.
Laughing, I quickly took my hands off my ears and said, "Everything is fine, Ajumma. He's just proposing."
She shook her head, mentioned something about the youth of today and walked away.
Ji Tae took my hand and turned me to him. "So you know that I'm proposing?"
I nodded. "Duh! But here?"
"Does it matter where I say it? I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. How does where I say it change anything?"
I pouted. "Don't scold me while proposing marriage!"
He chuckled then shook his head. "I'm not scolding you." He got down on one knee. "Is this better?"
What the fu.ck? Now he was going to make a spectacle out of the whole thing? There were people around! "Oppa, get up," I said, pulling him but he didn't budge.
He opened the ring box and revealed a sparkling three stone platinum diamond ring.
"Oppa…." I was pretty damn speechless. We had spoken about marriage a bit so I did expect a proposal at some point but I hadn't realized that he'd have bought such a beautiful and extravagant ring. "How can you even afford this?"
He shrugged. "My trust fund."
I shook my head and struggled with the tears that had begun to threaten my eyes. I fell down to my knees so that we were almost at eye level. He lowered this hand so that the ring was also at the same level.
"Idiot, you really didn't have to spend so much. I would have been satisfied with anything as far as it wasn't alexandrite."
He pushed his head back and laughed enthusiastically. Then he looked back at me. "Does that mean that you're going to say yes?"
I pursed my lips. "It depends. Ask me again."
He smacked his lips together and took a deep breath in. "Okay." He dropped his other knee then scooted closer to me. "I Kim Hee Soo," he said.
"What?" Then it dawned on me. I burst out laughing. "You are crazy. I can't believe you still remember that crap."
He laughed too then told me to stop so that he could continue what he was saying. "I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Do you feel the same about me?"
I grinned and nodded.
"I regret that we spent so much time apart and—"
"Whose fault was that?"
He hissed. "May I continue?"
"I regret that we spent so much time apart but I want to make it up to us by spending the rest of my life making you happy."
"I see." Even though I was trying to hide it and stay calm, my heart was doing flip flops. He was actually proposing! To me!
"I want to share all our pains together, all our joys, all our—"
Argh! I stopped his long ass speech with a kiss. "Park Ji Tae, the answer is yes."