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Starless Night

Chapter Text

Hers was not a beautiful face and she knew that, but she got a succubus of a body which lured all the pathetic men out of their so called protected shells.

And it was what she needed at that moment. All she wanted. Everything that would be enough for things to work out.

Beyond the glass, a dark shade of grey was painting the sky. The city was looking so dull with its high buildings and their gloomy appearances. She heard lots of things about Seoul; the boys, the girls, the night clubs… So far, the truth didn’t meet her expectations. Maybe it was because she had been there only for a week. And there was a never-ending storm outside, her mother reminded her every time her blue eyes watched the scenery with a dreary expression. She assured the girl once the sun comes out, she would be in love with the city.

Louis hadn’t commented back then, not because she didn’t believe however she didn’t care at all. She wasn’t here for a vacation but for a job assigned by her mother. Moreover, she wanted to make her happy after being the very reason of her big depression for all these years.

She had to amend to her mistakes, every trouble she caused, and this could be her beginning.

After all, her life became something where nothing, but her mother mattered.

On the cozy, emerald green lounge her body lied, this pose making Louis look like a somewhat mermaid, with her soft breasts, slim figure and curvy thighs. Ocean-like eyes focused on her mother’s gestures very carefully. She was swallowing every word that came out of that pinky, wet lips; every mark, every dot and every comma.

Never been a time she gave this much attention to her. What a shame.

But Louis was going to make it up for it, already full of promises to herself.

Pursue that snob guy, marry him one way or another, and live a happy life as a family forever.

Et cetera, et cetera…

“That’s so ridiculous.”

“Son, she is different than every other woman I have met so far.”

That’s what you always say when you meet a new female homo sapien, Jumin thought but never voiced it. His father’s habits, or as media says “womanizer” side was going out of control again. Although, he should have accepted that this woman was looking quite the opposite of his old taste. She was probably in her mid-forties, from a race that does not belong to Asia for the first time, not in shape and had wrinkles all over her face. Now that’s what he would call a… Mother, if only he was younger.

Like really younger, almost as 4 years old.

This wasn’t the last of his problems, however. Oh no, this wasn’t even the tip of the damned iceberg.

“Father, I respect your decisions.” Maybe not the decisions regarding women but hey, he was quite good at ignoring them.

“However,” he continued with a grim expression, “I strongly wish you would not involve me in your love life.” Having a dinner, having a lunch with these women were things he got used to after all these years. Though this time his father came up with something new, probably if he allows, this was going to haunt his dreams for the next century.

“Give them a chance, son!” The man was looking so bright thanks to his brilliant, or should Jumin say horrific, idea.

“That’s too much.” Han Jumin replied with a plain tone, yet there was a storm ongoing beneath the stoic mask on his face.

“You’re just being stubborn!”

Chairman Han was the one who came up with a plan of an arranged marriage for him and again, he claimed himself as a victim. Jumin felt the unfamiliar tingling of despair.

“I don’t even know her name.”

“Then this is the perfect time to get to know her-”

“Isn’t it weird when you think about it? You marry the mother and I marry the child. We are both father and son as well.”

“What about it? We don’t have any blood relations.” He pressed his fingertips to the sides of his nose bridge.

“I am not talking about it. I am just sharing the future statements of the media.”

Chairman Han made a dramatic turn in the meeting room. “People always talk! Even if you are a saint who made Jesus seem like he didn’t try hard enough they will find something and talk.”

Jumin silently wondered how someone as wise as his father could be a child’s toy for such foul women.

He was not even going to talk about the effect of these marvelous relationships he tried to justify determinedly in company’s presence.

If he was talking to someone else, the words I think you are not on your right mind had already been dropped of his lips. Again, the sentence went through the great filter of a businessman before it left the owner.

“Father… You should really think about this.” Jumin crossed his arms. “Do not involve me in it and I will have no criticism for the woman.” At least for a while.

“Son… You’re already passing your age to be a father, to be a dad.” Chairman Han got close to him, there seemed to be the crumbles of a worry on his face. “When will our company have another heir?”

So now was the time to care about the future of their company, while his father was trying his best to ruin the reputation they had.

“At this point, I am afraid that you will try to marry this cat of yours.”

Jumin’s eyes went wide. “Don’t bring Elizabeth the 3rd up to-”

“See? You’re talking like if she’s a real person!”

Under the raven black bangs, eyes shut tight. While Jumin thought his father was the only one who could understand his loneliness it also seemed like he was the one who was the most foreign to his ways to overcome it. Why? Why was it so unbelievable that he did not want to be with a woman who was just after his bank account?

“I… I…” He muttered, so unlike him. The level of Chairman Han’s stubbornness could pull some threads around his neck and it was suffocating.

And finally, the boy gave up.

What was there to lose anyways? Instead he could play the game and gain some control. And flip this bullshit of an idea later on.

“Okay, I’ll go. But a lunch. Not a dinner.” The man’s face brightened up, much to Jumin’s dislike. “And father… Promise me you will not bring up this marriage thing on the table. I will check the girl just for you however shall I find her inappropriate, there will be no such thing like marriage.”

Oh, how kindly he put that into words, in the meantime some of his braincells were reading a manifesto named “Why Women Other Than Elizabeth the 3rd Shouldn’t Be Trusted and Never Be Wed” out loud.

“Excellent! I will inform them at once. You will like Mercedes a lot son, trust me.”

Yes, yes, yes, he sure liked those cars.

Chapter Text

The golden fingers of the sun were caressing her skin.

The reserved hall was almost empty but for three people and the maids. They were both serving various foods for brunch to them, and carrying very expensive linen around as gifts from a very special company owner.

Louis Hampton, or with her new name Mercedes White chose to spend that afternoon as being a third wheel for her mother and Chairman Han. Much to her surprise, the two were already getting along so well; with their smiles, giggles and naughty whispers it was hard not to imagine the elderly couple as some old school teenagers.

This is weird, she thought. Louis had heard so many things about Chairman Han before coming here, after the announcement of her mother of course –otherwise she never had a single interest in big companies and their posh owners. The media was calling him a womanizer, and with the young girls swinging from his arm one could not think of him highly.

He reminded her of some unpleasant memories which she tried to bury so deep, yet never voiced this concern, in order to not startle her mother. Louis knew that, if she ever said it out loud they would be gone from Korea in just a couple of hours.

No, no right could be given to her involving her mother’s sadness. She promised, she was going to help her to build a happy family.

Like the one she ruined, destroyed, and burnt to ashes before.

“See?” relished Cynthia Hampton, or with her other legal name Clara White, “I told you the city would look all better when the sun is up.”

“This is nothing,” Chairman Han said, munching on the canapé her mother gave, “I should take you two to Busan.”

“Oh dear, you shall not burden yourself for it! Please, I would be very sad if you neglect your company due to our relationship, when it needed you most!”

Mister Han chuckled. despite his age, there was still a handsome face lightened up with those kind of gestures. “You would be worth it, Clara.”

Louis would never get use to that name. Nor to Mercedes.

It was hard, especially at first. Being all ears to hear those three syllables, responding before it was too late and getting people suspicious… At least she always called Cynthia as “mother”. Oh, Louis definitely would fuck it up if she ever had to call her Clara.

And god forbid if Chairman Han ever asks her “Where’s Clara?” because she would simply answer “…Who’s Clara?”

Your damned mother, you dumb ass whore.

On that day, there was a loose, grey, super-short and almost too shiny to put-sun-to-shame kind of dress on her. People around looked at Louis like she just lost all of her mind to wear such clothes at the mid-day of our Lord’s. If she got to be honest, no single fuck was given. She wanted to wear that and she wore that. End of the story.

Too bad the rich, smart and infamously heartbreaker Jumin guy was nowhere to be seen. Shame, all this sexy look was going right through the trash can.

“So… Where’s Jumin?” Louis disrupted the flirting of the couple. Now they both looked satisfied with her while she tried to get that fake smile stood glued to her face.

“Well, he is kind of busy today.” Chairman Han replied with an apologetic tone. “But he promised to share lunch with two beautiful ladies next week. I wonder who they are…” He joked and her mother almost collapsed from laughing. Yucks.

So the boy was either not that excited to meet them, or on the contrary was trying to play the uninterested despite being highly interested. Louis got her vote for the former.

“I am really looking forward to meet him.” Actually it wasn’t a lie, with all these rumours and handsome shots going around magazines anyone would wonder about him.

“So is he dear, so is he.” Hope you’re not lying old man.

 

 

“So, what are you planning to do? You just gonna give up?” One would know the situation is very dire if it even can get Zen to worry about Jumin. His fingers danced on the phone’s screen as he wrote a reply.

“No, I am not the type to.”

Yoosung: But Jumin, didn’t you agree to meet her?

It was true what Yoosung said, however that never meant he gave up just like that; threw away his life, his comfort just to please his father’s selfish desires.

Jumin Han: I did yes, but who says I’ll marry her?

Saeran: Just…

Saeran: How did this happen again?

Jumin sighed at the question. Well, truth to be told he never gave the details to his most dearest ones but it was not because he wanted to play the mysterious, depressed kind. Everything was also so new for him which didn’t even let him to react rationally yet to tell other people.

So he started to explain the whole story for once and for all: How his father found a new woman, how he arranged a marriage between her daughter and him without Jumin’s knowledge… And god, all of this masquerade just happened in one week.

ZEN: I’m trying to get

ZEN: Why did you accept?

Jumin Han: Because a discord with my father was inevitable if I kept being persistent about it.

Jumin Han: Instead, I am planning to play his game, satisfy him, then take my leave.

Yoosung: …and how will you do that exactly?

Jumin Han: That’s where I need you, Saeyoung.

707: I am already on it

It was always good to have a super-genius ex-agent to trace the possible sinister people around you. And that White family was totally at it.

He stroked the head of the cat which was next to him. She was purring, playfully running around his hand and hungrily seeking every attention coming from her owner.

In truth, since they exposed Mint Eye Jumin couldn’t get himself to give the love Elizabeth the 3rd used to receive, not that he neglected her. However because the bitter memories swung in his head when Jumin looked at the cat, it was sometimes hard to be around her.

Especially at the times when she reminded her of a certain, blonde person.

The next messages of Saeyoung caught his attention back:

707: Jumin

707: It’s not that I’m at the end of my researches

707: But lol

707: These people might be the most normal people on earth…

Under the furrowed brows, fingers raced to type a reply: “That can’t be true.”

707: I know

707: I know what you think

707: But unlike the most of the women your father met

707: Hung out

707: Dated

707: Married

Jumin Han: That’s enough

707: This Clara woman is the most average one

707: Even more average than Yoosung

Yoosung:

Yoosung: Now why are we talking about me?

707: There is nothing that meets the eye

707: Like

707: A well-known university

707: A successful business plan

707: A company worthy of note

707: An achievement to respect

707: There is nothing

707: Both mother and daughter are like that

707: They are almost like the average new-grad students

This couldn’t be true, he knew. And again, he regretfully realized just because of his stubbornness he never asked his father how he met that woman, where and when. It was high time for him to start his own research in order to assist the ginger friend of him.

Saeran: Maybe you’re getting rusty

The message of the younger twin brought a smile to Jumin’s face.

Saeran: Maybe I should be the one to look into their past

707: Hey hey hey

707: You know what the doctor said

707: No more computers kiddo

Saeran: Who are you calling kiddo

Saeran: I’d be fine

Saeran: I’m already better

ZEN: Isn’t Saeran more skilled on these matters tho?

707: >.<

Saeran: :)

Saeran: He found a picture of her

707: Would you like to see Jumin’s future wife?

Words were hard to swallow, and they had a bitter taste. Jumin would never let that title become the reality.

Jumin Han: No need to. She will be all over the magazines soon.

Jumin Han: And do not call her like that.

707: Roger that

ZEN: Is she cute?

Yoosung: Yesss I want to see the pic

Even though Jumin objected, Saeran had already sent one.

The frame was almost blurry since it got snapped in a rush. There, Saeyoung’s red hooded arm and the flame-like hair strands could be seen. Beyond that, on the screen of his computer there was a selfie of a girl, a girl who was very persistent to be his bride.

Like every other woman around him.

Even though he said he didn’t want to see, he found himself zooming in the picture. However, he did this rather for analysis, instead of being solely curious.

Miss White had a sun burnt skin, matching with ash-black hair. She got a small, pointy nose and thin, rose coloured lips. But none of it mattered, not her triangular chin, well-shaped dark brows, nor her big cheekbones. It was her eyes that caught attention; her big, blue eyes, almost like hypnotizing, almost like radiating her own light…

“Woah,” typed Yoosung, snapping Jumin back from his tranquility. “Her eyes are so weird.”

707: lolololol i know rite

ZEN: Almost like alienish

707: I KNOW RITE

707: Jumin

707: If you wont marry her

707: Can i get her to the space station?

Jumin Han: She can be all yours

Jumin Han: But be wary around women like that.

Jumin Han: Now, excuse me.

With that, Jumin left the chatroom.

The sun was sneaking through his velvet blue, expensive curtains. While looking at the city, he couldn’t help but to wonder where his father was, what he was doing at this very moment.

The events of the last year made him a more silent, a more stoic man than he ever was. It was true that he got frustrated upon hearing his father’s relations, however compared to past he found himself less panicked and bothered.

Yet thanks to last year’s scandal, now he was distanced to women more than ever, since the only one he trusted came out as such a terrible monster he had never seen in his whole life.

The only one he felt something for at all…

Maybe he should have visited his company to clear his mind.

Even though it was Sunday.

And he would be all alone.

Chapter Text

The inevitable day had finally come, much to Jumin’s dislike.

Or should he be relieved, since this meant he wouldn’t have to see those gold-diggers for a while?

As the man tied his red cravat, he watched his father going from this edge of the room to that edge, racing against time in order to look presentable in front of a woman who probably wouldn’t care even if he looked like he had just come out of a trash can.

Jumin sighed. “Why do you even put so much effort for a woman you met a hundred times?”

His father stopped in the middle of the room, holding a very expensive perfume. “Well, she always looks at her finest in our meetings. Wouldn’t it be disrespectful if I didn’t try enough?”

He got a point.

Jumin shot another question while putting his blazer on: “You never told me how you two met.”

“Because you have never asked till now.” Why would he? “In a furniture expo.”

“The one back in California?”

“Exactly that.”

The guilt rose in his chest, he was the one who supposed to go that expo but couldn’t due to some cat business he rolled into. Maybe if he did, then he would be having his lunch next to Elizabeth the 3rd right now.

Chairman Han didn’t look as he needed a confirmation to tell more, since the story started to untangle once there was no going back: “She was a visitor. Just like me. We bumped into each other as we were looking at a kitchen set.”

“So… Does she have her own furniture company?”

“No!” he chuckled, “I asked the same thing to her but no, she was just there to see the furniture. She started to talk about her dream; one, big, happy family. How she wanted to build a house for herself and daughter. I was… Touched so I asked her out. That’s how it started.” And then you probably went and saw her every day till you came back. Marvellous.

That was one charming story, true. However, Jumin thought that woman was there to look at the rich men, not to look at the furniture. Fairs were great places to meet the people from high places and hunt them, anyways.

If only he had gone instead of letting him…

“So long story short, you are granting her wish.”

“Is there something wrong about it?” His father caught the bitter tone even though he tried to hide it.

“No, nothing…” He lied, “But I sincerely hope this ‘one big family’ thing doesn’t mean that you’re expecting me to move in to your house.”

Chairman Han barked a laugh. “You are way too old for that.”

Jumin Han was a man who could look like a statue even when he didn’t try hard enough. And that day was no exception. He wore his most basic black suit, thinking that would not catch unwanted attention, or at least make the women whom he was going to meet think he didn’t care at all. Regardless, he was so wrong. The man radiated his own light no matter what.

A black limousine was waiting for them right before the company. Jumin voiced his concerns while getting into it: “I hope this lunch wouldn’t take much time. I have meetings to attend.”

“Relax son, we will make it back in time.”

One could understand Chairman Han was a little bit bothered by Jumin’s attitude but so was Jumin, thanks to the nonsense going around.

The restaurant his father chose was one they took their clients to. Did he really need to show off to that woman this much, he wondered. Again, it was his father. He liked showering these people with his money, then got disappointed by the same ones.

“Are we going to take them as well?”

“No, they are staying at the other side of the city.” 

That was good, which meant less time to spend with them.

“I am surprised at the fact that she is not staying with you.” He crossed his arms on his chest, as well as his legs.

“We wanted to take things slow. First marriage, then moving out to the same house.”

I shouldn’t be shocked. I shouldn’t be shocked. He shouldn’t have been shocked but he was. He was a man tried to marry every women he met, what was this ridiculous act? His mind screamed why as he tried to collect himself secretly.

Of course they were going to marry, just as he gave signals beforehand. And what the hell was he planning, getting him marry the daughter on the very same day?

Good thing he was sitting, because his head already started to spin like a god damned wheel with all these thoughts.

“You seem like you have objections.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Don’t you wonder about Mercedes?”

No, I don’t. “I’ll see her soon.”

“She is a very well-mannered lady who will fit my son at her finest.” He smiled encouragingly.

I’m not buying it. “I guess so.”

“But of course, you don’t trust my decisions again. Instead you have to see with your own eyes.” his father sighed.

“Father,” started Jumin, grey eyes turned to face him. “I respect and value your thoughts on many things. When I was growing, everything flowed to me through you. However I shall declare that we do not see eye to eye when it comes to women.”

“That’s true. You prefer women who build secret cults in the middle of nowhere and commit acts of terrorism.”

The words hurt. Jumin pouted, and his heart started to beat faster with anxiety, which had become unintentionally a familiar thing after Mint Eye got exposed and V got stabbed. “I wish you do not attack my personal ongoings like that, and even after your point I still think your taste in women is not better than mine. Also, what I felt for… Rika was nothing like love. Sure there was affection, but nothing more.”

Chairman Han didn’t reply, instead he retreated to his own lands of dreams it seemed. Yet the thing he said was reluctant to leave Jumin alone.

After the big scandal of last year, Jihyun was everywhere in the media, and so was he. It had taken a very big effort to shut the mouths of the magazines and news. Moreover, since he had to deal with that, and a hurt V, an even more hurt lost twin, a so very mad the other twin, a depressive certain young fake blond, and an old friend new enemy type real blonde he hadn’t had time to attend anything for his own mental health. And after all, Jumin was nothing more than a mere human. He learnt it the hard way.

Finally a year later, he was alone with himself yet thought he got too late to cure some pieces of his soul. Almost seemed like beyond repair, and feelings were leaking through the cracks made by the damage.

He never admitted to himself he loved Rika. There were several reasons: First, he didn’t want to seem like he was after his best friend’s lover. Second, he didn’t want to be flashed the looks which were flashed at V whenever Rika was mentioned –though it was happening anyways-. And lastly, probably the only little thread kept him away from a mental breakdown was this lie.

Though, not everyone was tricked. Sometimes, you could have bad relationship with your parents. Sometimes, you could be away from them for a long time. However most of them –at least the ones who were decent human beings- could understand the emotions of their kids easily. Jumin’s father was no exception.

When he realized was a mystery to him, he could have figured it out when he saw the painful expression his only, dear son wore while watching Rika get cuffed by the police. A few times Jumin had been questioned by his father, only to be denied every time.

Then there was Jihyun. The realization must hit him when Jumin tried to give Elizabeth the Third back, but because of his soft nature no comment fell from the blue haired boy’s mouth. One could be thankful for it however not Jumin. He had needed to be yelled, fought, and solve the problems quickly since his friend departed from the country for a while, leaving the awkward tension around them like that. And Jumin had no idea when he would come back.

Last year was a mess and it looked like it was about to get messier.

Yet when they were getting out the car, his father touched his shoulder and apologized at his earnest.

The restaurant was not too crowded. It was a place best known for its dinner, not the dim light menus. Regardless, with its posh, red chairs and well decorated tables it brought joy to one’s eye.

And there they were.

The first person caught Jumin’s attention was Miss Clara White. As a medium sized dress wrapped her body, the linen in a colour living up to her surname and revealing the cleavage generously, no wonder why the eyes of the men in the saloon were following her slender figure while she approached Chairman Han.

This Clara woman had a genuine smile on her face. The light fair hair fell down to her shoulders in waves and bangs with worst kind of cut were lingering above the chocolate-like eyes with a green shade on the center.

On the other hand…

The girl who was waiting next to the table seemed more distanced and guarded against the situation. Her face was almost identical to her mother, except the darker colour of her skin and the blue eyes. And she was wearing a pink bell skirt and a white shirt sure to cover her cleavage in a conservative way, unlike Mother White. After all these must be experienced gold diggers who knew how to pose to their hunts.

When their eyes met, Jumin thought he saw an awkward grin playing on her mouth for a second.

After he shook hands with Miss White they took their place around the table. Before sitting though, the so called young bride reached out for him.

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person,” she said. Jumin first looked at her face, then lowered his gaze to the hand that had been extended to him. He slowly raised his, then shut tight around her slender fingers. In the meanwhile, he locked his eyes to her, looking so sharply as it can almost give physical damage, and never even once blinked till she grasped out of his touch. It was his kind of message for her to back out before things began.

None of the parties realized that this had marked the first contact of a very uneven relationship.

Then they saw themselves for the chairs, of course, Jumin took the one between Mother White and his father.

“So,” Clara started the conversation. “How was the day?”

“The day started new my dear,” replied Chairman Han. “You know, I would have given you a call and make small talk, however I did not want to lessen the excitement of this meeting.”

If Mercedes didn’t snort Jumin would silently sigh after this comment. He raised his head and looked at the girl who probably had no idea of manners but was convinced to act otherwise by her mother.

“Do you often talk company business together?” Jumin asked, tried to hide the venom on his tongue very carefully. However all he got in response was a confused expression by Clara White.

He turned his head to look at his father in shock: “Don’t they know Korean?”

“No. But we both know English so this shouldn’t be a problem should it?” he answered very calmly. “Pardon us ladies, my son did not know you weren’t able to speak our tongue.”

There was a relief on Clara White’s face, she giggled a bit: “But we are learning, aren’t we Mercedes? She is taking classes!”

The girl looked completely in shock as she didn’t wait to be involved in the conversation: “Aaa… Umm… Yes.” was her only answer while she tried to pour some water to her glass clumsily.

Her frustration gave Jumin some sadistic joy and it was the time for him to poke it with a stick. “Oh really? I would like to hear you talk.”

She muttered a weird Korean greeting as she started to drink water and shake her leg crazily. “Ah… Haha…” were the later words came out of that mouth while her mother looked at her with widened eyes.

Well, looks like this meeting was going to be fun after all!

“Okay, okay, Jumin don’t be harsh on her. She probably started her courses just recently.” Mercedes feverishly nodded and finally put the poor glass back on its place on table.

“I was not being harsh, I simply wanted to hear her skills. I shall let you know; I am a man who seeks his comfort at home. I would not like to talk any other language besides mine since it will be effortless.”

“Of course, Jumin-” Clara started only to be interrupted by the man she was talking to:

“Please do not address me by my first name till we get to that level of our relationship.”

Both women looked mortified, checking him with open mouths. Oh how he loved the sight before him!

“Very well then, Mr. Han if that’s how you like-”

“Oh, please Clara! Jumin, she will soon be your mother. Could you not tolerate her more, please?” His father pleaded. Jumin took a sip from his just-poured water.

“I will consider it again when you get married.” In the meantime, a waiter arrived and saved him from the man’s scolding.

Orders had been made, and the impatient waiting of the empty stomachs started. Although, we shall note that the Mercedes girl spent a fair time while choosing her dish. At this point, Jumin started to question if she had ever been to a luxury restaurant.

“So,” he began the conversation again, eyeing his prey with joy. “I see you got your education in a community college like your mother.”

“And I see that you had your investigation done very well, Mr. Han.” Answered Clara White instead of her.

“Why, that was a very ordinary matter if she were to marry me.”

“She is a very capable young lady with lots of talents-”

“Is that why her mother is speaking in her name right now? Can she not defend herself?”

“I mean-” Mercedes started but her mother raised a hand to shut her up. Jumin quirked a brow.

“Why don’t you let her speak?”

“Yeah, why don’t you let me speak?” She looked at her mother for a split second then turned by Jumin’s side. “It’s not that she doesn’t let me speak but we would be telling the same things sir. So what if it’s a community college? Like- I mean my mom’s been in a community college and she’s with Chairman Han, could it be that bad? And where are our dishes actually? I am very hungry.”

Jumin frowned at her lack knowledge of words, vulgar speech and stupidity. “If someone didn’t spend so much time on deciding what she was going to eat we would be having our lunch.”

“Oh really? Is it my fault now?” For a moment, she seemed to add something as well but shut her open mouth after wavering a bit.

“Now, now, let’s not fight.” Chairman Han said.

Well, Jumin was not fighting, not yet.

Clara talked: “Teens are totally weird nowadays, guess it’s their way of talk.” she finished the sentence nodding. “For a moment- excuse me, but I thought- again, excuse me, Jumin was being rude.” Ah, she addressed him with his first name again. One might think she did it by mistake however Jumin understood it was totally on purpose and Miss White was trying to show her dominance. “Yet seeing my daughter talk like this, I have come to realize it’s just their way, really.”

Hah, smart woman.

Mercedes seemed to protest for a moment, but then somehow decided to keep her silence. So her mother scolded her for not to talk before coming here, Jumin got sure.

The rest was idle talk till their meal got served: Politics in Korea, politics in USA, restaurants in Italy, lots of praises about Venice, trying to find a place Chairman Han had never been et cetera, et cetera… All this time the Mercedes girl was awfully silent.

Good, at least she’s not very bright and her mother is the only aspect I should worry about.

It was time his father excused himself to bathroom, he opened his phone to check if there was any message from VFA. He really tried not to check his phone on these kinds of occasions with his father, but he was feeling no scraps of respect to the women before him. Why would he care?

Apparently Jaehee, Saeyoung, Zen and Yoosung were in a chat, and even though they acted shocked for a few seconds, it turned out his appearance was expected.

“So, how is it going?” Saeyoung typed.

ZEN: Nvm it, isn’t your dad with you?!

ZEN: It’s rude to check your phone next to him.

Jumin Han: At this moment he is not here.

707: Can’t deal with the other two can you

707: Head must be empty as a balloon I guess

Jumin Han: They can’t even talk Korean.

Yoosung: OMG

“Are you going to ignore us, Jumin?” Clara White’s voice interrupted his idle chat.

Jumin answered without meeting her gaze: “I thought I requested for you to not to call me by my first name, as I don’t call yours. Besides I am not ignoring you, try to start a conversation.” Though he wouldn’t have preferred to talk at that moment.

“Jumin,” He tried his hardest to not to roll his eyes, just for the sake of the health of them. “Soon we are going to be a family, that’s inevitable. We already planned the whole marriage.” She tilted her head to meet his eyes. Involuntarily, he did so as well. “I am not trying to ignore your wishes young man, just trying to improve our relation. Be a little more closer, like good friends. Oh- I will not try to coo you like a mom that’s for sure. You’ve already passed that age and I’m well aware of that.”

It was incredible how many red flags spilled from the woman’s mouth just in a few seconds. He took a deep breath before answering them coldly: “First of all, I do not desire to initiate a friendly relationship with you. What you will have with my father will stay between him and you, I’ll make sure of that. Secondly, even if you wanted it, you could not be anywhere close to a mother, since I’m guessing you’re only planning to stay for –I don’t know, a few months? That’s what women like you did in his past. And I think you are just trying to be on good terms with me in order to get your girl to be a parasite on my back. And again, I’ll make sure that it will never happen.” The woman was frowning so hard he could barely see her pupils. On the other hand, her daughter looked so relaxed, enjoying her meal at her finest.

“I am just here to please my father. He may not see your ill wishes but don’t take me for a fool. Do you always go to fairs with hopes to hunt rich men?”

“How dare you-”

“Yeah, how dare you?” A much calmer voice interrupted the stormy one. “I mean isn’t she like- at your mother’s age? Shouldn’t you be more respectful? I don’t get it.” She said, mouth full of salmon. The sight got totally disgusting when she started to wipe off the cream on her lips with her fingertips, then sucking on them –which was even worse.

“Actually, if you calculated right, you would see that she would make more of a big sister than a mother, but I see you are not good with math just like everything else.”

“Ouch, that hurt man.” So she was dropping the act, going full street language. Nice. “What mom? Don’t look at me like that. Let the man fuck cultists if he is into it that much.”

Things she said created a huge shock on the table, they didn’t even realize Chairman Han got back there. Words fell from him without greeting his father back: “What did you say?”

“I said what you did hear. Talk shit get hit.” Now Chairman Han was also in a frozen state.

Who… Who told her? He knew people were still talking about the Mint Eye but who told her about his interest on Rika? Could it be his father? “Where did you learn it?”

“No one needed to dig that shit hard! You may shut the mouths of the media, the net but people still talk of this first whenever I mention your name. No worries though, I am not a person to kink-shame.” She raised her hands like she was surrendering.

Nonsense. The media had never written about this, people didn’t talk either.

“Unbelievable.” He narrowed his eyes almost too much with rage he wasn’t even able to see her anymore.

“No one can disrespect my son like that.” His father scolded her. Then, it was Clara’s turn as well:

“I am so sorry in her name.”

“Well I’m not.” The audacity! The way she talked with such confidence was really surprising. “I’m sorry ma, but I’m not. I will not sit in silence when he treats you like a common whore.”

“Jumin, is that true?” His father gazed back to him.

“Whose side are you on?” He spat with anger, words coming out like venom.

“No one’s. Trying to be objective.”

Jumin gritted his teeth. Who the hell that girl thought she was? Trying to call him out, call Rika out? What the hell she thought she knew? Absolutely nothing!

“I am pleased to see you are enjoying their company,” he said in his mother tongue, wiping his mouth with a tissue at his fastest, “But I will endure it no longer. This meeting was a mistake from the beginning. Have a great meal father, I’ll see myself out.”

With that he rushed out of the hall, not looking back, trying not to hear that barbaric woman’s yells raising from their table. When he met with the fresh air, his anger started to fade away a bit.

He was fidgeting with his phone while waiting for the limo to arrive.

707: Wow

707: Didn’t think the meeting would be over so soon.

Jumin Han: Couldn’t be a part of that masquerade any longer.

 

 

“That’s terrible. Your eye bags look so intimidating. Didn’t I tell you not to game whole night?”

“Sorry, mom.”

“Louis sometimes you are such a child that I can’t believe you are almost 25 years old.”

“Sorry, mom.”

“Come,” she patted both sides of her arms, “Raise them.” And she did so.

The sun was up in the sky. Unlike most of the days, they were alone in their apart –generally her mother liked the maids running around, of course, thanks to Chairman Han’s checks.

It was a penthouse in the middle of the city they stayed. She remembered Jumin also had a penthouse –something she both heard from Cynthia and her soon-to-be groom. But he preferred it outside of the city. No wonder, she thought. Rich people and their weird habits.

Louis always liked seeing the lights of the city beneath her. Somehow it made her feel less lonely. There used to be times she was right between those lights, being watched and envied from afar by sober people. Now she was one of them, observing the youngsters’ laughing, drinking recklessly and worrying about nothing. Not that she missed, however… Whatever feeling it was, sure left a bitter taste every time in her mouth.

“Now you look beautiful.” Her mother said as she stepped back and checked her reflection on the mirror.

“I look like a big ass gift box.” Sure, the black ribbon that had just been tied around her waist gave it away.

“Try cursing less.” Cynthia added with a pout. “Please don’t do that in front of him.”

“I will not.” Of course she was not! Yeah… She might act like a thug but gods not that much. “I don’t get it!” She yelled, bringing the topic back to her lame outfit. “You said Koreans were okay with showing their legs off, why is this skirt so long?” What were they calling it? A flared skirt?

“It’s better for you to wear more lady-like things than ‘I club and drink whole night’ dresses on the first date.”

“Okay but this is not a date, and even though I had worn that kind of dress I don’t club, nor drink. Just gaming. Gaming with a mini dress. That’s what I call a night.”

“For once don’t be a smart mouth, I beg you.” Her mother murmured while she tied her hair into a tight tail. When she was sure Louis shut her mouth up, continued to speak:

“Chairman Han told me he was a very smart boy who held his culture, ethics, family above anything else.”

“A conservative shortly.” added Louis. There was a small nod in her back.

“You should not say anything inappropriate, flash smiles and never eat your meal like you do it at home.” Why was everyone criticizing her eating habits? Did she really look like she give a single fuck about the table manners?

“Yes we have talked about it countless times.”

“Louis! Promise me!” Cynthia spun her around herself in order to face her. Blue met hazel ones, and it left Louis with a loud sigh.

“I promise.” It was not like she wanted to upset her mother any more anyways. When her mother smiled sincerely back her, she was determined to zip her mouth during the whole meeting.

She watched the woman go back to her bedroom, probably getting some cosmetic products for her terrible eye bags. In the meanwhile she started to walk down the living room, the magazines she looked at countless times caught her eye again.

There he was - the boy she decided to marry out of blue. With his raven hair, ashen eyes and sharp features. A faint smile was dancing upon his thin lips. Oh, no wonder why he was so popular around the ladies.

Why would he marry her, she asked her a countless times. She never got the reason her mother had her hopes so high after seeing this angelic face. Though it was probably Chairman Han’s assuring that made her this hyped.

“Quite the man, hm?” Cynthia mumbled when she came back. Now the woman was checking the cover of the magazine over her shoulder.

“He is nice.”

“Are you feeling nervous?”

“I am just nervous about ruining things for you. What if he doesn’t want it? I see no singular reason for him, of all men to accept this marriage. He should have lots of beautiful ladies around him.”

“Now now,” said Cynthia, while taking the magazine from her hands and putting it on a nearby end table. “You are as beautiful as them.”

“That alone shouldn’t be enough. I… Didn’t even finish high school.”

“Who cares?” Cynthia protested. “Men like women who act dumb. So be yourself.”

“Hah!” Louis snorted. “Thanks mom.” Cynthia was also giggling along with her.

“But other than that… You know this… Whole Rika situation.” Oh yeah, that wreckage everyone was talking about. “I think Jumin… Was actually in love with this woman.”

“Really? Wasn’t she fiancé of his friend?” When she approved, Louis dramatically gagged. “That sucks.”

“And he was rejecting all the women around him, probably because of her.” Well, maybe yes and maybe not, Louis thought. The man wasn’t even involved in any love scandals in his younger days –except for the ones which were obviously just for the business, so there must have been something more than Rika. And yes, she was well educated on his nonexistent love life. “Which makes him even more fragile and more distanced from women nowadays. Who strikes first on this time wins. It’s easy.”

Louis tried hard to not to frown while her mother was covering her face with a concealer. “I think there is a huge flaw in what you say.”

“Huh?”

“It sounds like he is traumatized. Why would he accept someone on this part of his life?”

“Because darling,” Cynthia pushed her chin to meet her once again, “He lost his belief in love. And he needs an heir for his company, the media is looking for it.” That… Was a really risky gamble. But if her mother wanted to play, who was she to say no?

That meant they were striking on a poor guy with lots of scars. Yeah, there weren’t any morals left in her anyways, she was far past the line to worry about it.

“Mr. Han also told me Jumin was looking forward to this meeting with all of his eagerness.” Since it had been told to her countless times last week, maybe it was better to be not pessimistic for once.

It was decided. She was going to sit like a lady, eat like a lady and shut the fuck up like a lady, then.

I mean, would it be so terrible to fall for him eventually? He’s hot, smart and rich. What else can a girl wish for?

And on top of that, the? mother and daughter wouldn’t be separated.

And also, let’s not forget she could pay her debts this way.

Crap.

After Mother Hampton finished covering her with concealer and putting on her a pink lipstick, she stepped back. Since she always wore more makeup, it brought a little shock that Cynthia didn’t do her the eye shadow thingy.

“Um… Didn’t you forget something? Oh maybe I should use the palette-”

“Not in a billion years, you are far too clumsy on that.” The woman jumped out and got the makeup bag out of her reach. “What’s more, Koreans don’t like women who put on too much makeup.”

“But we are not Korean.”

“You are competing with Korean women.”

“But you always exaggerate your makeup around Chairman Han.”

“He likes it that way. Him and his son are very different kind of people.”

Pfft, that was it? Was she going to be like this till her death? Wearing boring clothes and all for this guy? Louis huffed loudly, just to be ignored by the very person that reaction was for. In the meantime she was thinking maybe she could get away with this dress code day by day.

Though it was early to go to the meeting place, Cynthia Hampton was no woman to be late. She scolded Louis for trying to be out at the last minute. Louis didn’t get the sentiment about them being businessmen and shouldn’t be kept waiting, but still got in her white heels and saw herself the door.

Before having plans on coming to Korea, she hadn’t even worn this kind of shoes once. After they made their mind up, her mother gave her constant lessons all day all night. Now she was not that bad with it, however still yearned to take them out very quickly. Would anyone really care if she wore Converses under that skirt? It could even look as a modern style.

There was a limo waiting for them outside of the hotel. While they were getting in, some of the folks checked them with curiosity. Cynthia commented about it when they got in the car:

“This is nothing.” she said. “Once they see you with the men, there will be paparazzi all over around you.”

Louis furrowed her brows. “I’m not sure if I’d like it.” 

“But I’m sure you’d be alright! Aren’t you a little asocial?” her mother said in a humorous way, clearly not aware of the impact of the words on her daughter.

Louis didn’t choose to be like that, life forced her.

In desperate need of changing the subject, she chose one without the realization that it can hurt Cynthia in return: “Was it like this with Adam? Paparazzi everywhere?”

“Oh… No… I- Well. Yes. Sometimes. Just… Sometimes.” The happy expression started to be cleaned off of her features. There was a melancholy in the way she breathed her next words: “You would like him if you met. He could be a very fatherly figure.” And just like she couldn’t meet him, she was the sole reason why her mother couldn’t meet him as well.

An awkward silence almost materialized in the car till they got to the place.

It was a restaurant placed at the top of a skyscraper, with a Renaissance kind of way painted cope. The pastel clouds gave an ambiance like residents were sitting right under the sky, with no walls to block their way.

“A European restaurant. I thought it would be better since you are bad with chopsticks.” Another topic she sucked at. If they were in a traditional one it would only end with her crying to have a fork, and thank god her mother was well aware of that.

The table they reserved was next to a huge window, framed with a golden cadre. Most of the details in the hall had golden here and there; like the chiffon ribbons holding white napkins together, or the clamps attached to the tablecloth adorned with French laces.

They got to the table, and started their endless wait. When Louis checked her phone, she saw they were almost forty minutes early.

“We arrived in the middle of the morning.” she grunted.

Cynthia ignored. “I came here for the first time with Mr. Han. Do you remember?”

“Yeah, left me at the hotel by myself on the first day of our arrival.” An unpleasant memory it was. She unpacked the suitcases herself, and her mother had lots of them.

They didn’t talk that much, she was not feeling that talkative with the growing anxiety and excitement, at all. Would he like her? Would they succeed? Would he criticize them? All of this hurricane of thoughts found the calm when her mother suddenly stood up.

She first checked her; there was a big, goofy smile on Cynthia’s face and her hazel eyes were watching something by the door intensely. No need to turn head to understand what that was, Cynthia took a deep breath to face her possible life mate.

Oh wow.

Turned out photographs did no justice to him at all. Look at that beauty.

Stumbled a bit by standing up so fast, but couldn’t be seen by Jumin thank the god. He was busy viewing her mother, but then the grey eyes made a turn by her side.

Okay, it was her time to shine.

But what the fuck was she going to do? Stay by the chair or go near them? Smile? Yes, maybe. But would it look like so flirtatious? Okay, act like a Jane Austen character bitch.

Hmm…

Shall I fall down dramatically?

However, before she could make up her mind, the man was next to the table, towering her with all his might.

How she would pound him hard-

Oh no, the guy was getting ready to sit without shaking hands with her. Really? At her fastest she reached out to him.

“It is a pleasure to meet you in person.” Luckily, her voice didn’t betray the girl as the very heart of hers. The man looked at her very cautiously, then his hand raised up in very slow motions to meet hers.

First, the gest was intimate. Then those damned hand of his started to hold tighter, and tighter, almost to the degree to crush her fingers inside but never getting to that point. The eyes she admired got dark and never blinked once, ringing danger bells in her mind.

She was right at her thesis, and her mother’s plan was flawed.

Suddenly the guy promoted from being the hot man to the scary man. Damn, she knew how someone looked at her like when they wanted her dead.

Finally she broke free of his touch, thinking this match was already a loss. Determined to make the most out of it, having herself a fine ass meal, she almost collapsed down the chair, soon snorted to a cheesy thing said by Mr. Han, but then turned her attention to his son.

In the daylight his hair was not that black, instead it was dancing on a dark brown shade. Face looking as the god came down to earth to carve himself. Tiny pink lips, getting wet almost in an erotic way by the tongue tracing around them. The most gorgeous shade of the grey lightened under the light when he tilted his head to look at her.

Wait what?

They were talking to her, wasn’t she supposed to shut up at the whole session?

“…Mercedes? She is taking classes!” Something about Korean… She only picked up the last few words but they were probably talking about her Korean classes.

Which she played with her phone during the whole time.

“Aaa…” She said nervously, trying to reach the glass bottle to pour herself some water. “Umm… Yes.”

“Oh really? I would like to hear you talk.” The joy in his voice almost materialized while he talked. The man saw her frustration and knew she didn’t know shit! All her education was going right out of the window, by saying “Annyeonghi gaseyo, bitch!”

When every couple of eyes turned by her side, the girl understood it was a dead end she was in. So Louis mumbled some shit by mixing every syllable she heard in Korean, looking like she was casting spells and jinxing her enemies by high chance.

This meeting was going to be a disaster.

Thankfully Chairman Han ran to her help: “Okay, okay, Jumin don’t be harsh on her. She probably started her courses just recently.”

Well, while nodding Louis was torn between being grateful or not. Because it was his fault she was here, he told them Jumin was eager to meet them! How the fuck would she know he only wanted to mock them mercilessly? And after a low ass excuse and a clash with her mother, Jumin even demanded Cynthia to call him by his surname. What a sassy brat he was.

For a second she pitied her mother, even though this would be the last time she saw Jumin, Cynthia would high likely see him for a long time since the woman was planning to marry Chairman Han.

Couldn’t they go back to USA? Like… Right now?

No, because you fucked up every single thing. So endure it, idiot.

When the waiter arrived, Louis’ mood lightened up a bit. They didn’t have breakfast that morning –because her belly was popping every time after meals, her mother said.

Since this was a very high end restaurant, everything on the menu had been written in alienish, which meant she would spend a very long time figuring out what was what, causing some grunts to raise from Jumin’s side.

“So, I see you got your education in a community college like your mother.” Was he talking to her?

“And I see that you had your investigation done very well, Mr. Han.” Her mother tried to play the saviour. Yes, take that Mr. Han.

“Why, that was a very ordinary matter if she were to marry me.”

“She is a very capable young lady with lots of talents-” That was called scamming. Could he sue them when he found out she was a girl with no culture and no education?

Oh but she knew how to pee standing.

Excellent.

“Is that why her mother is speaking in her name right now? Can she not defend herself?”

Okay, enough of that disrespect. Her mother could be used to them but she was not. “I mean-” she started, however Cynthia stopped her by raising her hand.

“Why don’t you let her speak?”

The guy was right. “Yeah, why don’t you let me speak?” She eyed her mother, after seeing her disapproving eyes, changed her words a bit: “It’s not that she doesn’t let me speak but we would be telling the same things sir. So what if it’s a community college? Like- I mean my mom’s been a community college and she’s with Chairman Han, could it be that bad? And where are our dishes actually? I am very hungry.”

“If someone didn’t spend so much time on deciding what she was going to eat we would be having our lunch.” Look how sour he was!

“Oh really? Now is it my fault?” She stopped before saying more aggressive things and putting the table on fire.

“Now, now, let’s not fight.” His father was now calling for peace. It’s easy to say grandpa, have you ever checked the shadiness of your son?

“Teens are totally weird nowadays, guess it’s their way of talk.” Cynthia started to speak. “For a moment- excuse me, but I thought- again, excuse me, Jumin was being rude.” But… He was rude? “Yet seeing my daughter talk like this, I have come to realize it’s just their way, really.” Now why are you coming at me, mama?!

Finally for a split second Jumin dude decided to be not salty, not edgy. Therefore the three of them began to talk about their unnecessarily rich lives. Even though if Louis were allowed to speak, she couldn’t. She had never been in another country –well, Mexico for once but that was illegal. And she didn’t have interest in politics, -okay let’s not say disinterest, however she hadn’t wanted to do anything serious in the past years of her life. For a brief moment she really felt glad her mother was there. And that happiness started to grow, became a flower when their meal got served.

When Chairman Han excused himself for the bathroom, his son got his phone out and began to message his friends like they were not there, which meant Louis could check the man before her.

It was obvious he understood the main reason Cynthia was so eager to marry his father. And probably that sickened him. He was hating them and didn’t even try to hide it, even the kind way of his speech was giving it away. He disrespected them a lot in a very short time, striking at every possible corner.

Could she be angry? Well, she had the right. Whatever their reason was, he did not have the right to act like this to them. Her mother was way older than him, wasn’t it common in Korea to respect the elders? Louis was feeling bad for her.

He thought he was so important –and that was unfortunately true. And with this motive he treated the women around him like shit, at least Louis made an inference like that. What else could it be?

But then there was this Rika woman… What made her this special, she started to wonder.

 “Are you going to ignore us, Jumin?” So her mother decided to burn all of the white flags. She wanted to sigh, why are you poking the bee hive?

 “I thought I requested for you to not to call me by my first name, as I don’t call yours. Besides I am not ignoring you, try to start a conversation.” Despite how calmly they were uttered his words were almost venomous.

“Jumin, soon we are going to be a family, that’s inevitable. We already planned the whole marriage. I am not trying to ignore your wishes young man, just trying to improve our relation. Be a little more closer, like good friends. Oh- I will not try to coo you like a mom that’s for sure. You’ve already passed that age and I’m well aware of that.”

Louis made her mind up, she was going to flee away from the quarrel this time.

Only to be tested by the man, again:

“First of all, I do not desire to initiate a friendly relationship with you. What you will have with my father will stay between him and you, I’ll make sure of that. Secondly, even if you wanted it though you could not be nowhere close to a mother, since I’m guessing you’re only planning to stay for –I don’t know, a few months? That’s what women like you did in his past.” Oh… That sure hurt her mom, her hand moves started to get slower as she thought if she should intervene.  “And I think you are just trying to be good terms with me in order to get your girl be a parasite on my back. And again, I’ll make sure that it will never happen.” And much to her mother’s disappointment, he finally declared it. Good, there was nothing left to hold her now.

“I am just here to please my father. He may not see your ill wishes but don’t take me for a fool. Do you always go to fairs with hopes to hunt rich men?” Now that… That was a fucking war call. She didn’t come all this way to see her mother to be treated like a monkey.

“How dare you-” Cynthia started, but it was Louis’ turn to interrupt.

“Yeah, how dare you?” She said, while having another bite of her meal. “I mean isn’t she like- at your mother’s age? Shouldn’t you be more respectful? I don’t get it.” Since the cream on her lips got in the way of her back talking skills, she wiped them off with her fingers, while being scolded by her mother’s eyes silently.

“Actually if you calculated right you would that see she would make more of a big sister than a mother, but I see you are not good with math just like everything else.”

Ugh, how he acted like a smart ass disgusted her. All this angelic look of him faded away as she finally began to see the person under the pelt.

“Ouch, that hurt man.” she said in a bitter way, making the Cynthia startle. So what? They were fighting were they not? “What mom? Don’t look at me like that. Let the man fuck cultists if he is into it that much.”

She didn’t realize she was crossing a huge line till the words fell out of her mouth. Jumin looked totally shaken, eyes widened with rage, almost as that the famous paint of Lucifer crying.

He spat the next words: “What did you say?”

There was no going back now, and if she apologized that would even degrade her more. “I said what you did hear. Talk shit get hit.” His father, who had come back from the restroom just a while ago, looked at her with open mouth too.

 “Where did you learn it?” …Was that a secret? Did she trouble her mother?

“No one needed to dig that shit hard!” she lied, trying to put a straight face. “You may shut the mouths of the media, the net but people still talk of this first whenever I mention your name. No worries though, I am not a person to kink-shame.” Her hands raised by her side like she was surrendering.

“Unbelievable.” No matter how cold his voice was, she could swear something was trembling with rage under that.

“No one can disrespect my son like that.” Chairman Han drew the attention to himself.

“I am so sorry in her name.” Her mother tried to fix the situation however, to hell with that.

“Well I’m not. I’m sorry ma, but I’m not. I will not sit in silence when he treats you like a common whore.”

“Jumin, is that true?”

“Whose side are you on?” That sounded angrier then he tried to hold back probably.

“No one’s. Trying to be objective.”

After that, the guy mumbled something in Korean –at the end she should have listened to her teachers- and left the table at his fastest. She yelled how he acted cowardly, making a few gazes turn by them, and disappointing both her mother and Chairman Han. And it was no wonder how Chairman Han left the table soon too, not even saying good bye, just nodded at them.

Sorry mom. Probably the worst thing that happened to you was giving birth to me.

She ate the rest of her plate, without showing any clues that she lost her appetite.

Did that boomer pay for our meals?

 

Chapter Text

ZEN: Sounds like she dig her own grave…

707: Saved me from tons of work

707: lol

707: Thank you, sweet Mercy!

Jumin Han: If she is anything it is not Mercy, I assure you.

A couple of days had passed since that frightful meeting. Even though the results were pretty satisfying, he got to admit the rendezvous itself haunted him for a while.

It didn’t take Chairman Han long to apologize to his son about the disastrous events. It was not a surprise how he forgave Clara soon after, but he also promised Jumin to never push the idea of a marriage with the very scandalous daughter again –nonetheless no assurance was given to Jumin by his father on not playing the match maker again. Even so he got to accept his victory, and put that matter on the shelf.

“But Jumin,” their youngest member said, “Will there still be a wedding with your father?”

Jumin Han: The woman herself was calm and collected during the whole meeting.

Jumin Han: It was only her daughter who lacked mannerism.

Yoosung: So it’s a yes

Jumin Han: Exactly.

ZEN: Tho that means youre going to see her again

That was a topic he considered very carefully, even though couldn’t see it as a threat. The girl had spat too much rage in their last meeting for him to even consider she wanted to marry him. Not to mention Clara was not in his favour as well. Things were going back to normal once again.

Jumin Han: I have no worries about the situation

Jumin Han: Both the mother and daughter disliked me

Jumin Han: I’m just lucky that I got to see their true colours so quickly

Jaehee Kang: I am not sure if they showed their colours by their own will or not…

The events happened due to his provocations, however the outrage of the girl was not in the plan. No, Jumin just wanted to spend that nightmare of a time at his finest, and to discover some cracks, something fishy to give Saeyoung to look into. Now none of it mattered, thanks to the so-ladylike daughter who sabotaged her own self.

But at least she was not like her mother, Jumin thought. Though he certainly despised her, it was nice to see the girl stand for herself and her mother, putting things aside like money for the sake of her own pride. Unlike Clara White, who looked like, having no problems with being thrown insults at, which was highly likely due to the woman being already used to.

ZEN: Even magazines are talking about her tantrum

ZEN: Shame really

ZEN: She looked pretty

Jumin Han: Please do not send any magazines photos here.

Jumin Han: I don’t want to see any of them.

Jaehee Kang: Should I contact the media to take those images down?

He stood motionless just for a second, then quickly typed:

“No, they shall stay.”

They’ll stay and show the world what kind of people they were.

It was almost noon when he left the chat with a rumbling stomach. The twitchy feeling was a proof of this, after all, Jumin was a man who planned his entire day beforehand minute by minute. Meals were just as part of his schedule as anything else.

Evaluating if he should go to downstairs restaurant to have a vegetable-based meal, the man rose up from the chair. Before going out he filled Elizabeth the Third’s bowl, so no staff nor maid would have a reason to touch his darling.

Jumin never liked staying in the house too much, but nowadays thanks to his father and his habit of cancelling all plans for the woman he was high on heels for, the heir got to spend his weekends at the suite. This meant more time with his precious princess. However after both Chairman Han and that foul woman mentioned Rika for more than a lifetime, he again started to feel a little bit of anxious around Elizabeth. Maybe he should have started a new cat business again… That would have kept him busy yes, I should plan a meeting with Assistant Kang for it after enjoying my meal.

He settled in the large but desolate restaurant, unaware of the call he was going to receive that day. Ordered his food, leafed through the newspaper on the table, fidgeted on his phone to check this and that from the workers, then started to watch the greyish sky with a glass of wine. Looked like soon, the rain would be all over of Seoul again.

There had been a time when he and Jihyun had got themselves soaked to the bone in one of those rains. Both of their nannies had got mad at them for being that reckless, and to no one’s surprise they had ended up catching cold. Though even the illness couldn’t separate the children. They had spent their indoors days side by side, playing stupid games and giggling at stupid things the whole time.

Those were the good days; those had been easy days. Now everything was so complicated. There were lots of problems waiting to be solved between them, a gap to be closed. Lord knew when the odd haired guy would’ve come back, Jumin felt their memories fading day by day and was afraid that things would never get back to their old ways between the two.

At that moment, a yellow petal fell down from the rose that sat on his table. He remembered, Saeran once mentioned that the yellow ones meant asking forgiveness from a friend.

And after that, his phone started to ring.

An unknown number… Who could it be? The area code must be Iceland’s.

He answered it, unsure of using which language. Could it be a business partner, or just a random person trying to pull a prank? Through his hesitation, the man on the other line of the call started to talk:

“Well, well, if this isn’t soon-to-be-groom Jumin Han?” There was a tingling amusement in the voice, which was clear as a bright day. Eyes widened, and heart fluttered with joy after a long, long time. There was no misunderstanding, it was him.

“Would you look at that coincidence, I was just thinking about you.” He said while taking the sun coloured petal in his hand with a smile.

“Were you going to offer me the honour of being the groomsman of C&R Heir Jumin Han?”

“Stop that.”

With the gentle breeze coming in through the windows, yellow petals floated in the room.

Louis Hampton was holding a bouquet of delicate roses. Hands were sweating, eyes trying to focus on something to bring peace to the mind.

The main mansion of Chairman Han, which was her mother was destined to stay in the future, was on a place one can almost call as “forgotten”. Unlike his son, whom said to have a penthouse watching over the whole city, the old man built his little palace in the middle of nowhere. Some may reason it by his age, and some may call him a nature lover.

Louis didn’t care; didn’t care the biblical details on the window frames, didn’t give a damn about the how the grey clouds reflected perfectly on the white, ceramic floor, nor she minded the hot ass bodyguard right in front of her. At that time, only one thing mattered and that was getting ready to face the humiliation.

For her, it was not hard to say sorry. However just as for most people, apologizing in a situation where you were right were one of the most unpleasant things in the world. 

Soon, the words “Miss White, you can come in.” rang out of a footman, who just opened the huge, double winged wooden door. She took a deep breath and followed him into the depths of an enormous room.

There her mother and the infamous boss were, right next to a bar table, probably enjoying some White Russian, Cynthia made.

In the middle of the day.

Well, her ma was a smart woman as always, and she knew if the man was a bit drunk the whole apologizing process would turn out better.

“So, here comes the trouble-maker.” said the subject when she was coming near them with a forced smile. Good. The man was joking, and that meant things were better than she had expected.

“Mr. Han,” The level they were standing was higher than the other side of the room, so before them, she climbed the two-steps stair, bowed down graciously and started to talk in that position: “I have acted inappropriate, please bestow your forgiveness.” Did that sound like a Shakespeare play? Eh, the more dramatic, the better it seemed.

The man took the bouquet from her hands with a deep chuckle, and shoved them to the other side of the table without a second glare. She should had known he was not a man of culture, probably had no time to waste on something so mundane as flower language.

“I am not the one you should be apologizing to. It’s my son.”

I will do it, but he won’t reciprocate and you won’t expect him to do so. “I will see into it.” The words were said through gritted teeth.

“Good, good. Jumin is a very nice boy. He would forgive a heart-felt apology at once.” The last time he assured them about that devil things turned out as a disaster. “And even though you two are not going to be wife and the husband, you still will be siblings.” The statement made her feel uncomfortable, as though it indicated their previous relation as incest.

“I am planning to do it at your wedding.” She had just planned it maybe, but who cares. Was it planned? Yes, yes it was. That was the point.

“Let me pour some cocktail for you, darling.” Cynthia was going to take a glass from the nearby drawers, however Louis stopped her to do so.

“No need.”

The rest of their meeting went dull for the girl. There was chit chat, exchange of ideas for the ceremony, complaints about the design of invitation cards and so on. Chairman Han looked like he was trying to ignore her existence, even though it was implicated there being no such problems by himself several times. Louis didn’t care for the matter as well, since she was not going to marry that jerk, there was no reason for her to try to win the man’s heart.

The meeting lasted till 5 p.m. When the grandfather clock rang its bells to indicate just that, Cynthia jumped off the chair in most refined manner. Mother and daughter excused themselves right after the old couple set a new date in order to not to miss each other before the wedding so much.

It was not that dark at the time they got out from the mansion. No wonder though, throughout all spring the daytime get longer and longer. The breeze of the earlier hours changed currents with a strong wind, which was the very reason of rough pollens flying wildly around.

A driver working under Chairman Han opened a black Mercedes’ –hah- door for them, however Cynthia raised her hand.

“Let’s walk a bit, Mercy.” That awful nickname! At least it was better than “Sadie”, which was what her mother came with after two weeks of renaming. The woman then, before waiting Louis’ answer turned by the driver: “Would it be okay if we walked a little bit first? Then I will call you and you will take us up off the road.” The question was answered by the nod of the middle aged man.

The path lead one to Chairman Han’s mansion was sloped, arid and dusty in contrast to the natural landscape arose from the house’s side. The little rocks on the road made walking with heels difficult, yet Louis accepted the offer. Probably there was an urgent matter Cynthia wanted to talk with her.

Together they left the main gate adorned with iron latches.

The weather that day was not so cold that it would make one’s teeth clatter, however it was still chill enough to make them try to get warm desperately. Louis’ hands were rubbing on the naked skin where her baby blue blouse couldn’t cover meanwhile wishing whatever matter that was going to be discussed would end quickly so that she could get in a cosy car.

“Louis,” Her mother stopped abruptly to make sure no one could hear nor see them. She also looked like she just made her mind up on something. “I will not marry him.”

With an initial shock, Louis’ brows raise enough to meet the sky. With the second wave, her legs couldn’t seem to function and her jaw dropped almost enough to fit a bird right into her mouth. “What?” was the only question she could breathe.

“You heard me, there will be no marriage.” By closing the distance, her mother was by her side once again. “C’mon now, let’s walk. I will explain on our way-”

Louis hastily broke free from her grasp where Cynthia tried to pull her down the road. “But why?” There was only one possibility in her mind, and the thought started to race in her head with a hysteric pace.

“I… Louis listen. Please, I beg you. Let’s walk. Let’s walk, darling.” Even though she wanted to protest, even though she wanted to make things clear in the fastest way, even though she desperately needed to hear it was not her fault… Louis linked her arm with Cynthia and started to walk unwillingly. Her mother caressed her hand in a way to assure things were alright. At the same time, Louis’ nostrils went wider despite it, and she felt her breathing getting more laboured by minute.

“It’s not that I love him.” Cynthia Hampton started her sentence very carefully. “And if the plan does not meet our expectations, then we can simply drop it, yeah?” There was a smile that did not meet the eyes on her face which could not trick Louis at all.

“But… You accomplished your goal. Why care?”

“Louis my goal was getting you married from the beginning. Not me. I was planning to get you a rich husband who would take care of both of us, and I would take care of my grandkids happily. I only accepted this man’s hand in marriage for getting you and that snob together.”

Alarms couldn’t stop ringing in hear ears: It was her fault. It was because of her. “But he is very rich, mom! I can take care of myself after you marry. The society around him would accept me once he is my stepfather-”

“The society will see you as the concubine’s daughter and will not accept you. High end people are like that.”

“Okay but I can get into a job in C&R, I can get into an internship-”

“Do you think I didn’t think of these options? First of all, young lady you have not been outside of your room for almost 7 years –and know that I don’t blame you-” She squeezed her hand, “But we both know you won’t do good in a well-known company after not even finishing your high school education. I know that this hurts to hear it but Louis, please come to your senses.” Cynthia got fierier in every word she spoke. “And let’s assume in a miraculous way you did good, then what? Do you know how many government agents check anything and everything about you when you get into a job? And having a job in the most famous company of Korea makes it even worse. People will understand that you’re not who you claim to be. Jumin will light that fire, I can see it. Then what happens? Will you lock yourself in that room again for the next decade? When I finally got you out? When you finally overcame your agoraphobia?”

It hurt when she bit down her dry lips. “I… I would take care of myself. One way or another, you know it.”

“No, I know nothing as such. Think about your condition Louis, you’re still so fragile, I can’t throw you over the wolves again.”

Louis shut her eyes. The wind had bothered her before now felt like a blessing over her heated veins. “You can’t worry about me forever. Go live your own life. Besides we can pay my debts this way.”

“Louis I came all the way from USA just because you needed a change of scenery in your life, I don’t care if I marry or not with that man. I don’t want to just pay your debts and close this case like so. No. I want to see you build your own life, a stable one while we are at it, far from your past.”

Her past… Damned past.

Without waiting for her answer, Cynthia kept talking: “What will happen to you when I’m not here? Who will help you?”

“Stop talking gibberish. You are too young to die.” Louis replied in a shock. Now was not the time to talk about such grim matters, while they were discussing about another as well.

The woman giggled. “Who said I was talking about death? I’m basically asking what will happen to you when I’m on a vacation in Bahamas with a young, handsome guy? I certainly can’t fly back wherever you are whenever you want it.” The poorly attempted joke accomplished its goal when Louis burst a laugh. Even though it was cruel fun, what Cynthia said, she was telling the truth behind those coated words. She couldn’t babysit her the whole time. “I don’t want to dwell here any longer. We should go back at once and find more suitable catches for you.”

“Mother… I’m sorry for Jumin.”

Cynthia looked at her in shock. “Don’t be! There was no way we could’ve changed his mind. The man was so prejudiced already. And you wouldn’t be happy in a marriage like that. You need a man who-”

“…Worships you like a goddess. Yeah, I know.” Louis completed her sentence. “Like Chairman Han.”

“Yes, just like him.” Cynthia said, trying to getting her phone out from her purse.

Though it was clear that an objection would be held against her words, Louis had to be sure: “Are you sure you don’t like him?”

Her mother sighed in an exhausted way. “Darling even if I did, after all these magazines I was sure he would dump me in one way or another. I was only going to endure it for you.”

But what if… “What if he was not the one that broke up but the women in his relationships? I mean he really looks like he loves you.”

“Do not fall for his tricks.” Before calling the driver, her finger on the screen stopped. Louis was watching her, her distracted hazel eyes right under the fair coloured bangs; her wrinkles in the once very beautiful face, lit up by the light of the device.

“Louis, and I want you to know that,” she started again, voicing her thoughts and sincerity: “Even though you don’t wish it, I want to look after you. I want to be with you till death do us apart and it’s my biggest wish, right in the centre of my life. You like it or not, I will not change.”

Was she feeling guilt or did this desire came right through her heart?

Whichever was the answer, while hugging Cynthia, Louis didn’t care at that moment.

She knew what the woman felt, both of them were beating their own selves in order to make the other happy, and this urge derived from nothing but guilt. From the scars they gave to each other.

An odd couple they were, acting like total strangers for years. Till a phone call Cynthia received 7 years ago, in the middle of October. A girl was singing on the other side of the line, a girl was singing…

For help.

Louis knew how she felt, but she should have known how Louis was feeling about it as well. Though her speech was given in a careless, reckless manner, she sniffed the scent of worry around Cynthia.

If she had succeeded to steal the heart of that guy… If he hadn’t been that stubborn since the beginning…

No, she was going to attend her mother’s marriage with Chairman Han, she was going to see her settled and happy. Not letting her scatter like a leaf from here to there.

When the car they have been waiting for finally showed up on the other side of the road, she decided to play the last card in her hand to pursue that jack-ass.

Blackmailing.

Chapter Text

Hahah…

Heheheh…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA-

“Why the hell are you creepily smirking at that computer of yours?”

Cynthia was looking through the pages of the newspaper. Though they were hidden under her fair bangs, the girl realized one of her mother’s brows rose in suspicion as her hazel eyes sparkled. Louis said nothing but flashed a devilish smile.

“I hope you are not up to something.”

“No,” the girl in question said with a little much enthusiasm, “Everything is perfectly fine. I was just thinking that today had been a very nice day.”

Cynthia mumbled while turning the page, “You were crying in your room just yesterday.”

That was unexpected. “Have you heard that?” asked Louis, without even denying.

“You’re sobbing too loud for a girl who tries to sneakily get depressed.” Since her mom saw her in much more worse situations, the girl couldn’t get herself to be embarrassed. “Anyways, I am happy something has changed your mood, whatever that is. I’ll soon arrange our plane tickets back to California and announce it to Chairman Han.”

None of it will be needed if I succeed today. “Are they expensive at this moment?”

“Yeah, that’s why it’s taking this much time. When you reserve them at the last minute, even you go to the neighborhood city they ask for hella cash of money.”

“No worries, take your time.” Louis said in a very calm manner, raising her mother’s suspicion once more, which skyrocketed when she started to smile awkwardly.

“You’re acting weird Louis. I really wish to assume that it has nothing to do with Jumin’s phone number.”

Oh, that little detail.

As a stubborn girl who could put every ancestor in their family line to shame, Louis never slept that night. Never once she batted an eye, never once yawned. Full of racing thoughts her mind kneaded every little detail very carefully, mindfully calculated all of the possibilities.

And came up with this shitty plan.

But it wouldn’t have hurt to try.

Though her mother didn’t know and probably was not going to know for a long, long, long, long, long, long time. Maybe before she dies, she would write a letter about the sinful scheme which was going to take place that day, and arrange it to be read out loud at her funeral. Then Cynthia would gasp in shock, and try to scold her cold body by yelling insults.

By interrupting her very joyful thoughts, her mother stood up from the couch and threw the newspaper to the table.

“I am having breakfast and later will shop a little. Will you join?”

“No, you have fun.” She was going to meet with a very famous corporate heir after all.

Cynthia sighed very loudly. “Whatever you’re doing there, try not to starve yourself to death.”

“Understood.” Without even smiling faintly nor saying goodbye, the woman left the flat in a sour manner.

Damn, she has some powerful sixth sense there. And why am I so clueless about the world? Genes, do your work!

Even her mother’s excellent intuition caused some anxiety, it was all the way better that she was left alone now. When the slamming of the outer door could be heard, Louis got her earphone jack out and suddenly the room was filled with moans coming out of her laptop.

The hysterical laughter once again started to ring in her mind. The whole plan was so crazy that it made perfect sense. Would have a man like him take the bait? The opponent in this fight had very high stats which made her think about every little detail over and over.

Now the whole montaging process was done, and God a movie studio really should just take her in, only things which were left were arranging the contract and texting to that impudent man.

Let’s see, let’s see… How to not write a contract like an idiot?

The Internet Era was a thing she cherished a lot.

The workload was intense as always, but that was what Jumin Han preferred.

With the new projects handed over his compartment, he was busier than ever. While viewing some proforma invoices about their new imports, the door of his office opened after a faint knock.

It was Secretary Kang. She came into his room, closing the door behind her without saying a word, and moved next to his table.

Even though she placed the new documents on the wooden surface, the woman didn’t retreat, which caused him to lift his chin to meet her eyes with curiosity.

“I have informed VFA about V’s upcoming arrival.” Since there were so many things to do in the company, he hadn’t found the time to enter the chatroom.

“Good,” the man said in an emotionless tone. “How are the reactions?” There was especially one member he was asking about, and Jaehee Kang was a very smart woman that can catch.

“If even the news wavered Yoosung’s mood, he didn’t show it. They were perfectly calm and even mostly cherished the situation.”

“Exactly as it should be. They should have forgiven him long ago. In fact, when he comes back, Saeyoung and Yoosung should apologize to him personally.” After all, during the time V tried to rescue his twin brother by himself and himself only, Saeyoung caused lots of ruckuses and for a while complicated things for everyone. And one shouldn’t have forgotten the constant blaming of Yoosung.

Though when Jihyun was leaving the country for good, all of them bided their farewells sincerely since most of the problems were taken care of.

“I don’t think Saeyoung would protest, but the bitter expression of Yoosung’s face almost materialized before my eyes.” murmured Assistant Kang. However that didn’t cause any reactions from Jumin. He knew the boy would protest, though his decision was stern. All of them were going to make up and the old days would be back.

“May I ask, did he tell you his arrival time?” Jaehee asked, eying him behind her glasses.

“One week prior to my father’s wedding.” Jumin answered, hiding the despise under the words perfectly.

“Oh, so he is attending as well.”

“Of course, since he and his father are also family friends.” Jumin couldn’t think about a big event about the Han family without the Kim family in it. Though he was sure about Jihyun’s sincere feelings, his father was mostly a materialist man that didn’t miss any opportunities.

“I see. Then, I take my leave.”

He raised his fingers to meet his nape, while looking behind Jaehee, forming his request into words: “Assistant Kang.”

“Yes, Mister Han?” The woman turned back by him, eyes were betraying the perfect poker face by begging to be not assigned to more works.

“See Jihyun’s cliff home to be cleared. And while the cleaners are there, let them also take down every photo Rika in it.”

His secretary sighed quietly. “What shall they do with the photos?”

Jumin’s eyes fell back to the documents in front of him, clearly looked bothered by the mention of that woman. “Just…” he paused for a brief moment, unlike him, “Just put them somewhere, where no one could see.”

“Understood.” she said, then left the room.

After the soft click sound, he clenched his fist and rested his forehead on it. A weak pose like this didn’t suit him after all.

That house had lots of memories of the infamous trio. Whether drinking, singing, playing cards, or any other idle things. Whenever Jumin visited Jihyun and Rika at there, he had felt at… ease. He felt normal, intoxicated. Though perhaps- no, it was Rika’s effect. And in the walls of that used to be a hideout of his, many photos of them together hung as well. How unfair it was that the captured frames stayed forever just like back in the moment, with bright smiles, warm gazes and all. Now there was nothing, but sorrow.

As he was just getting lost in a miserable melancholy, his phone vibrated. Jumin shuddered for a second, then checked the screen. A message was delivered to him by an unknown number.

“Hey Jumin, it’s me, Mercedes.”

His eyes narrowed at those words. Who gave his phone number to that woman? What was she after?

Though before he typed a reply, there was a new message which was written hastily with a few typos. It almost seemed like she didn’t want him to answer, just read: “Meet me in the place I’ll send soon today, at 1 p.m. There will be big consequences affecting your company’s future if you don’t show up. Also if you tell anyone about this, you just would be toggling with the bomb and I would know it. Just meet me, I’ll share the details.”

What… In the hell was this girl talking about? What was going in that dirty mind of hers? The irritation which had started with the thoughts of Rika now was crawling under his skin. It was not because her words gave him discomfort, but instead, the thought of dealing with her again made him annoyed. I thought I closed that case, how stubborn can you be?

“Who gave you my phone number?” he texted back, ignoring all of her words.

But instead of a decent answer, he only got the location of someplace.

With an irritated, loud sigh, he went back to his home page in order to dial his father’s phone and ask him what all of this was about. Though while he almost called him, her message came before his eyes again:

If you tell anyone about this, you just would be toggling with the bomb and I would know it.

The young heir leaned back in his chair with an exhausted face, crossing his legs to give himself a little comfort and to analyse the situation.

What could she mean? Maybe he should call her, ask directly and mention that he had no time for meetings. But doubted she would answer her phone when she wanted to meet face to face so eagerly to threaten a person like him. Could he call his father and ask, telling him to keep the call as a secret? What if… She was an agent, a hacker just like Saeyoung was?

Yes… He leaned his chin on his hand. That would explain the lack of information about her and her mother when Saeyoung tried to gather intel about them, however… She looked too stupid for that kind of skill. Perhaps she was acting on in order not to be found out.

Or she was not, and her mother pulled a trick on them by getting company secrets from his father and using her daughter as a pawn for the sake of her own goals again. This was far more likely, now to think about how his father slipped Rika out of his mouth, considering even Mercedes heard about it.

He took a deep breath and checked the location she sent. It was not looking like a shabby place, so he would be safe if they were planning to risk his health in some way. Then, he reached out for his office phone and called Assistant Kang.

“Yes, Mister Han?”

“Jaehee, I will be out for a while this afternoon. Postpone the plans that had been made and get me a car.”

There was a pause at the other side of the line. “Alright Mister Han, may I ask why?”

“You would hear about it soon.” he answered in a calm voice, then hung up.

He could have sent one of his lawyers to the rendezvous point however, he didn’t want these women to do something scandalous because he was not there in the meantime. It was best of him to go there, see her, ask her who did she think she was threatening.

And put an end to this ridiculous, endless case.

The time had come to rehearsal the plan for one last time.

There was no reason to be stressed- okay, there were lots of reasons to be stressed, first of all, if the guy could see through her plan she was fucked. However, hadn’t she watched… Him… doing this for countless times? Barging into the bars, hurling, harming, threatening people in order to get what they wanted like goddamned barbarians, and hadn’t she helped… Him… sometimes?

It was okay, it was not going to be violent as the past anyways. The plan included things like blackmailing, slandering and acting like a bitch till everything got sorted out.

Though how horrible those sounded, it was much better than her old ways.

God, I really was a disgusting, evil child. But now I need nothing more than her.

In the last six years, Louis had changed… A lot. Due to her never-ending depression.

She used to be a smart-ass, reckless, rebel girl who had no fears, no worries, and no mercy towards others. After the events of a certain October night, she became the biggest baby her mother had ever seen. She got herself some groundless phobias, which had a habit of crawling under her skin at most of the nights. She saw herself into a shelter, with anti-depressions and a computer, and did nothing but playing games and sleeping for years. All these things made her a weaker, introvert girl, who had a constant fear of the outside and people in her thorn heart.

I need to be my old self, just for a few hours, even though it feels disgusting. Just for a few hours.

No one knew why the hell Louis arranged this important meeting in a bakery, even herself. Perhaps the reason was the cuteness of the decorations across the room for the customers, which soothed her anxiety a little. Though while she was reaching out for one of the little, pretty, brown tables in the middle of the hall, some heads turned by her side. Not that they recognized her no, but her elegant white suit didn’t match that place and she was aware of it.

What could she do? She had a possible wedding today. If she had one she would even have worn a motherfucking gown to there.

Soon after Louis settled in, a waiter had her order and left the soon-to-be antagonist of the story to study her plan.

It was easy on the paper. Bluff, bluff, and bluff more, when he calls your bluff show him the video. Then lie, lie and lie with a straight face, till he gets so angry to lose his reason, then approach him and be persuasive.

She knew he was so smart. Hell, the man got an education and experience she could never dare to imagine. Jumin probably had dealt with the girls like her for more than a lifetime, and most likely was coming here with an arrogant aura, already with the conclusion he got by underestimating her thanks to their last meet, and that was precisely where she was going to strike.

It was hard to understand this robot-like person. Yet thanks to all the magazines she read and all the information she got from Cynthia, she knew a great deal about him which helped her to come up with this plan. According to her studies, there were just a few things the infamous heir cared: that fund-raising organization of his, especially the V boy, his stupid feline and…

His father, which she aimed for.

Even though they didn’t show it much to outsiders, the father and the son shared a very special bond. So as Cynthia said, they were carrying the great burden of being successful businessmen in this world, which meant being alone. And in this huge desert where vultures were flying through their heads, they sought comfort in each other, in the only person who can understand.

Tsk. Rich people really had their fucking dramatics.

A few minutes later the waiter brought the cappuccino she ordered, and at the same time, the door of the bakery swung open. Here he was, with all his might, Jumin Han.

At first, he checked the bakery, probably raising his eyebrow at how its mood was contradicting compared to her messages. Then their eyes met, and she saw the clouds gathering in those grey orbs.

Good, the faster you lose yourself to your emotions, the better.

When he sat down the chair next to her, she was busy getting her white hat and sunglasses out.

Here we go.

“It’s nice to see you here.” she started, with a fake smile. Though the man looked so fed up with this bullshit. Me too darling, me too. “Shall we order a coffee for you as well?”

Before she raised her hand, Jumin stopped Louis: “No need. Get to the point, I don’t have time to play around.”

A deep sigh escaped the slightly open mouth of hers, blue eyes lost all of its warm and her expression turned into ice at once: “Today, we are either playing by my rules, or we are not playing at all. Then you can regret a stupid thing like not ordering a coffee by tomorrow morning, with all the scandals going around.” Thank god she spent her teenage years as a punk who would never have had a problem crashing down the windows of the malls, clubs and bars she had been in with the cheap baseball stick she had. Or she could never put up an act like this. After all, under that determined mask, she was trembling with the fear of messing everything up.

Interestingly, it was not irritation in the heir’s eyes, but curiosity. Almost as if he was trying to solve a mystery, they glowed. To her relief, the man then ordered a cappuccino as well.

Good, the plan is still on its track. Although they were just starting.

“So, what’s your game?” Jumin asked; after waiter, who realized who Jumin was, got his coffee in some supernatural speed. Bastard, he got mine in ten fucking minutes!

“My game Jumin… Is your father.” she mumbled in a soft voice. It didn’t seem to cause any reaction in him. Instead, he was looking like a person who was watching a murder-mystery movie, sipping from his beverage with delight. Clearly, she was being underestimated, and Jumin was assuming that whatever Louis had planned, he could solve it easily. I’m really sorry dude, but I’ll be ruining your mood.

“Yes? What is your mother scheming right now?”

So he thought Cynthia sent her. “Nothing. I was just thinking about spreading this pornography of her with your father in it.”

The way Jumin hit the saucer with his porcelain cup almost got her to flinch and she tried her damn hardest not to move an inch. He narrowed his beautiful eyes: “What?” The question got out of his pink lips like a whisp of a snarl.

“I got it, from a hotel they stayed in.” It was her turn to sip from her coffee, not breaking her confident facade, even if she was trying to take a damn break from this stressful play herself.

Jumin frowned, calculating her words: “No hotel would turn my father in. You’re lying.”

“Do I?” asked Louis, getting her phone out of her bag. Now what she should do was not only getting the phone too close to his face but also holding it in such an angle that the people on the video would look like their parents. Ugh, do you know how many hotel porns I had to watch last night in order to find one that had people look like them? You better fall for this!

She found the thing she was looking for in her gallery and eyed it for a second before playing it. Though the people in the porn resembled their parents, it was of course not enough. And she had gone through a serious montage process last night, including putting fake dates and all.

Louis raised the device and touched the play button in the middle. A throaty voice escaped from her phone, merged perfectly with Chairman Han’s voice; chanting her mother’s fake name. When Jumin realized who the figures were, his eyes went wide and in an instant he reached out for it, not to grab it but to close the screen with his hands. The message was gotten by her, and the scandalous video stopped while Jumin looked around to make sure no one else noticed the commodity. He then gazed at her, in a way that would freeze out most of the people.

Well, that didn’t include her.

“Whatever you are trying to gain from it, I don’t care. I’ll see you at the court tomorrow.” Before her target could flee though, she grabbed his wrist in a way just as harsh as his words were. He broke free of her grasp in a very repulsed way.

“The moment you leave this place without hearing me will be the moment you doom your father, I recommend you to sit and listen.”

“Do you know who I am?” Jumin got closer to her face, in case she forgot.

“I do. But do you know who I am?” Yeah Jumin, do you know who I am? I am a total no one and a loser at her finest. “Do you think you and your family are the only ones who have powerful acquaintances? Let me tell you something, Jumin Han. If you leave this place they will be aware of it as they are watching us right now. So please, stay still and don’t cause any infamy.” The way he checked the grounds to see someone almost made her laugh out loud. Poor guy really ate this shit up, this whole blackmail thing probably happened to them periodically.

“Who are they?”

“None of your business.” Because they don’t exist. In order to take advantage of his alerted mood, she kept talking: “Of course you can walk out of this place in one piece, but then your father would hit the news. And even with all this money, one can’t delete a thing from the internet definitely. Do you know why it is called as ‘net’?” She sipped from the cappuccino again, before delivering the punch-line: “Because once you get in, there’s no way to get out.”

Okay, first of all, these were not her own words, but stolen from a game called “Life is Strange”. Regardless, what mattered at that moment was this man never touched any video game in his life, and the quote was a really good one. “You can’t make people forget. They will look at your father, and the first thing they remember will be this video. Your father is a smart man, he will be aware of it too. Who knows? Maybe this betrayal would be too hard on his heart, and he would drop dead.”

You went too far. You went too far, Louis.

One didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to understand Jumin hated her at this moment. All of his facial features got shrouded with disgust, his grey eyes had storm clouds with lightning racing in them. She knew she said the horrible thing she could throw at him with a straight face- no, she had been doing nothing but saying awful things from the beginning. Of course, he hated her. However Louis didn’t care, it didn’t matter what he thought. These were all lies, terrible ones maybe but she was not a saint either. Even if he wouldn’t forgive her after she exposes herself, it would still be fine. She didn’t need forgiveness from this man, the only thing in her mind was pleasing her mother, making her benefit from something for once in her whole good for nothing life.

“Your mother is in the video too.” Jumin said, trying to regain his senses.

Louis giggled in a very mocking way as a response. “Bold of you to assume I give a damn about Clara. She’s on her own.” If Cynthia heard that, she would have snorted so loud. Brave words for a girl who chants “Mama,” while crying. “I don’t care about her.”

“You should care, that’s your mother.” Hah, so you are going back to your “free from emotions” game. “If you did, you would at least succeed at being a decent human.”

Would it? For a second, the mask she wore disappeared into thin air, her blue eyes deepened, and what he said made her think: Would it have made a difference if she had liked her mother in her teenage years? Where would she be then? What would she be doing?

Even though he didn’t mean it this way, Jumin was right. If she held any parental love in her heart like 10 years ago, then they wouldn’t be sitting in that bakery on that day. They would have lives of their own and rest in their graves peacefully without knowing of the other. A little smile played on Louis’ face however, all of these expressions were missed by the man who indulged in his coffee as a refreshment.

After that brief pause, she sighed and started to talk again: “You tell me this but you don’t care about your father as it seems.”

“Where did you get that idea?” Jumin asked.

“You are still not asking what I want. Instead, you are calculating if you can walk free from here, even though it will damage him.” That was not exactly like that, Louis knew. The guy was of course a negotiator from birth. Nonetheless, she had to manipulate him into accepting the agreement.

“What do you want?” He leaned back and crossed his legs.

“We will marry.” An immediate frown found its place between Jumin’s eyebrows.

“Why? What will you accomplish by it?”

“Does it matter?”

He coldly eyed her. “It does since it involves me too.”

Before she gave details about her request, she reached out for her white bag and got the document she spent at least an hour on it out and put it on the table. You better like this jerk, I spent lots of time on it. Jumin snapped the paper from her fingers at once with a loud sigh and started to study it.

After the longest silence, the man asked: “Are they threatening you?” There was a genuine concern on his face, which made her feel bad for a second –but just a second. “If yes, then tell me. I will guarantee your safety, and we will find a solution together. Just spare me the details.” He was almost motionless, and there was no change other than his now calmed eyes –probably was being careful in case of being monitored. “I have very talented hackers in my-”

Louis cut his bullshit by snorting. “No.” she said plainly, then when he raised his brows she continued: “I’m not being threatened, no. I am the threat, Jumin. I am with them. I am above them, can’t you see?”

He narrowed his eyes, there was a little spark in them, almost looking like a kid who just solved a puzzle: “Are you an agent?”

“Took you long enough,” she said with her most stupid smile. She thought this guy was underestimating her but in truth, he was actually overestimating her. Yeah, welcome to my non-existent spy network baby. We have cheap coffee and tea here, and the monthly pay is 1 dollar. What would I name my spy network if I ever had one? No. Focus Louis.

“Why marry?” Jumin asked once again. “Why not taking what you want and leave?”

“It will benefit me in a way in which I can’t disclose.” There was no way she could come up with a solid lie for this.

“I should know what I am getting myself into.” So you are thinking about it, good.

Louis took a deep breath then answered: “I know what you think, you are thinking if I will ever damage your company more than this video itself. The answer is negative, you can see it in the contract yourself. I just need the title. I need someone as powerful as the C&R heir to guarantee myself.”

He grunted. “So you are looking for insurance. How shall it make me feel?”

They were going through this in the snail’s pace, it was time to initiate the emotional speech. “Jumin, I mean no harm to your company, no harm to you, and your father. All I want is the title, a guarantee, an insurance of my own to benefit the goal I am trying to reach. As you can see,” Louis pointed out the contract, “It will last just for a year.” One year was enough to shut her mother’s mouth up, make her settle and not let her dwell on her business any longer. “All I need is one year. Whether you believe it or not, it is on you. But I know what will happen if you take the rebellious way Jumin, I am going to do what you force me to do. I am sorry but this is how the world works, isn’t it?” She was leaning to him from the table.

“Also would it be bad? Your father wants you to marry, at least give it a try. It will calm him, and one year is enough to make him shut up. Then we divorce and you could blame it all on me. You would say it didn’t work out and your father wouldn’t force you into some shit like this again. Would it be bad? Would it be bad to pay him back after all he has done for you? After picking up you and your friends’ trash when your Mint Eye scandal happened? And you can’t even save his ass from me because you are too stubborn about your principles.” The very word of the organization was enough to startle him, it was clearly because of a trauma. I’ve been there, and I’m still there as well.

“Think about it,” she kept talking when he didn’t respond. “This is the only thing he is asking from you and you can’t even deliver it because of your own stubbornness. Where’s the obedient son that you always claim to be? That you always are proud of?” She reached out to her bag again and took out a pen for him to sign the paper with. When blue eyes met the grey ones, she saw something in there she had never seen before. It was soft, warm and a little bit melancholic in its own way.

“Please Jumin,” the girl said while trying to make him hold the pen. “Please. Don’t make me hurt an old man. Help him.”

Hesitantly, Jumin took the pen. In order to push him a little bit, she kept talking: “You have a big house. We would never see each other. We would never do anything together. We would-”

Before she finished her sentence though, the man already signed it. There was a childish excitement that was building up in her abdomen, and she hardly refrained from screaming. The cold glare of his hit her harder than the pen he threw at her. With a big, goofy smile she tried to take the document back however, he set his hands on it at the last second.

“I am signing this contract with the expectation of one day, maybe you could be a use for me.”

What the hell? Oh, yeah! My spy network! “Consider it done!” She tried to take the contract once again, but he didn’t let her.

“Also, I want a copy of this.”

“Sure, sure!”

“And you will dispose of my father’s… video.”

“Yes, it is in the contract anyway.”

“Won’t you sign it too, Miss Agent?”

“If you give it to me, then yes!”

“You seem a little bit excited about this.”

“Just give it to me!” she said, breaking it free from his grasp. Oh god, was he playing around with her now?!

She just put her sign next to Jumin’s as well, when he asked another question: “In the contract, it says you will be provided 5 million dollars at the end of the marriage. Why?”

“For disappearing process of course.” After folding the document, Louis got up from her chair. “Come on!”

The man looked confused: “What? Where?”

“To marry, of course. I have already delivered my documents for it this morning. Clearly, they can make it faster since it’s you, can’t they?” Louis grabbed the wrist of the man who was wearing a face of weariness.

“I can’t believe you planned all this.” He mumbled after they paid for the coffee.

“Of course I did, who do you take me for?” I have to do it before you change your mind! “You have a car, right?” She asked while dialing her mother’s number. Jumin pointed the BMW at the end of the street in a very grumpy way.

“Yes, darling?” Cynthia asked when she answered, in a very calm tone.

“Mama, come here at once. I am getting married.”

The pause at the other side of the line was almost too long to make her think she hung up.“…What?”

Chapter Text

Jaehee Kang has entered the chatroom.

Saeran: Hello Jaehee.

707: OvO

Jaehee Kang: Where’s everyone?

Jaehee Kang: There is

Jaehee Kang: A big problem ‘._.

Saeran: What problem?

ZEN has entered the chatroom.

Jaehee Kang: Chairman Han has just left the building

ZEN: What’s wrong Jaehee?

Jaehee Kang: With the biggest flower arrangement I have ever seen in my life…

ZEN: I’ve come to check out as soon as I got your message.

707: For Miss Pretty White? :>

Jaehee Kang: If you are talking about Mercedes, then you are probably right…

ZEN: What?

707: Why? O.o

Saeran: I am cooking right now, so see you.

Saeran has left the chatroom.

707: Yes I will update him lol

Jaehee Kang: So I thought they were for Miss Clara however after he left…

Jaehee Kang: My co-workers started talking…

Jaehee Kang: They said the flowers for his daughter-in-law…………..

707: WHAT?!

ZEN: FOR WHOM?

Saeran has entered the chatroom.

Saeran: Whqt th hll?

707: His hands are oily don't mind him

707: But I second this

707: WHAT THE HELL?

Jaehee Kang: They said Mr. Han was getting married and now the whole office is on fire………………

ZEN has left the chatroom.

Jaehee Kang: I have tried to call him several times but he doesn’t respond…

707: uh

707 has left the chatroom.

ZEN has entered the chatroom.

ZEN: Oi Saeyoung

ZEN: Are you trying to call him too?!

707 has entered the chatroom.

707: Yes

707: Apparently we are blocking each other

ZEN: :@

ZEN: Knock it off

707: I’m not joking around

707: Jaehee can he be in danger?

707: Did they tell the bride’s name?

Jaehee Kang: No…

Jaehee Kang: And I don’t know

Jaehee Kang: All he told me was to postpone everything in the afternoon

Jaehee Kang: That I would soon learn what’s going on.

Jaehee Kang: I didn’t know he meant getting married…

ZEN: This is soooo not jerk-in-line…

707: Exactly

707: Something is going on

707: Saeran and I will look into this

707: Take care!

ZEN: Call V, please

707: Will try

707 has left the chatroom.

When he was younger, Han Jumin had dreamt of a woman; with tender touches and soft eyes, with a warm smile and a kind heart.

Just like her.

But she was off the bounds; the forbidden one, the poisonous fruit he shall never bite yet couldn’t get out of his mind.

She was Jihyun’s girl. She was the one that would be so close to him, at the same time the farthest away.

So he had no idea why in the world there was a thug next to him claiming to be his wife right now. There was nothing tender, nor soft, nor warm, nor kind about this 21st-century hipster.

It all happened so fast that his mind stopped progressing it after a while. Waves of shock consumed him while the girl started rapping about her life and all: First, he learned his father had… That kind of video… With a foreign woman. He really should talk to him at once this ceremonial nonsense ended; what was he thinking? A love hotel? He had thousands and thousands of houses all across the world and a love hotel? Like a boy who just hit his adolescence?

How disgraceful.

Second, he learned that this girl was an actual spy. Well, he guessed however never expected it to be true. Maybe there would be a time he could compare her hacking skills to Saeyoung. If he was to marry then he should benefit from it, just like the girl planned to do.

Third, the woman he thought as the main villainess of this story turned out to be an innocent victim: Clara White. Did the poor woman know what kind of an evil child she gave birth to? Did she know her precious daughter was ready to throw her under a bus for her own sake? Maybe it was Mercedes that dragged Clara here all along.

Though none of this was the main reason that made him sign that paper. It was her last speech that pushed him off the cliff.

I wonder if she knows what kind of rhetoric she has.

Of course, she did. The woman claimed herself to be a spy after all. And this was not her first time having a big effect on him. When they met in the lunch, there had been a shaky moment she mentioned Rika.

Jumin tightened his fingers around Mercedes’ hand in frustration. At first, holding hands was hard due to their height difference, nonetheless, after an hour of walking like chained to each other, he got used to it.

In the beginning, he thought he would evade this charade without giving any concessions, however, after understood he could not leave that bakery both as a single and “My father is perfectly happy, thank you.” man. He was going to play along, then put this matter on the table with Saeran, Saeyoung, and of course, his father, and after that, he was going to find an escape route before sinking deeper in this masquerade.

“Well, that was surprising.” Clara said, there was an absolute shock on her features which she tried to hide behind a smile pitifully. And his father did not look different too.

“It indeed was.” There was a suspicious glint in those familiar grey eyes.

His father might have had wrong choices when it had come to women in the past, but that didn’t mean Chairman Han was a dense person. The old man already understood something was off, regardless gave the huge bouquet to the fresh bride.

“Wow, this is so big.” Mercedes said, finally letting Jumin’s hand go.

“Of course it is, who do you think I am?” asked his father in a joking way. “If I knew beforehand you would have much bigger presents than this. Maybe in your wedding party-”

Jumin interrupted his words in haste: “We won’t have a wedding party.”

Now both hazel and cloud-like eyes were gazing his way: “Why?” the old couple breathed at the same time.

“I don’t like the attention.” Louis mumbled in an apologetic way, hiding her fake-shy face behind the red roses. Now that he knew what kind of girl she was, her acting skills did nothing but horrifying him.

Mother White answered after a pause: “Alright, but at least make sure to have a grand dinner for celebration.”

“Ah, yes. Why don’t you introduce her to VFA, Jumin? Isn’t Jihyun coming home as well?”

He would never introduce this woman to the people he valued the most. While not declining to suppress the suspicions though, the smile emerged on his beautiful face was ice-cold.

“O-oh, are you talking about the photographer V?” Mercedes questioned coyly. Like you didn’t do your research well.

Chairman Han smiled innocently with warm eyes. “Yes, his real name is Jihyun. Jihyun Kim, Mr. Kim or Mr. Jihyun for you, Mercedes, don’t forget that you are in Korea.” With that, he reached out and bopped her nose like she was a little child.

“So… What’re you going to do now?” Clara gathered the attention on her.

“Ah, I think we shall have lunch together, as a new family.” Her lover responded with enthusiasm.

When Clara started to talk again, there was a bitter tone in her voice: “It’s a little late for lunch. Besides, I think we shall delay the unionizing ceremony for now, since I should help Sadie pack her things up.” Sadie? Is this her second name? “She didn’t tell me a word, which I’m a little bit mad at.”

“Well, it’s not like I knew.” His father was trying to cheer her up, however, Jumin could see how puzzled he was as well regardless of the happy attitude.

“Anyways, Mercedes, let’s go.” Mother White was holding her hand out for the spoiled daughter, but before leaving the building she turned and called him out: “Jumin, I’ll make sure she will come by tonight. Don’t worry.”

What was she implying?! The man was already having lots of goosebumps, and the woman did nothing but adding one more.

“Come on Jumin, no need to be shy.” His father teased him in a playful tone. I am not being shy! “Let me treat you with lunch before tonight then.” The way he winked at him made Jumin really want to throw up right there, right then.

Her mother should have been happy. Yet she was not.

Why?  

“Mom, wait!”

Louis was chasing Cynthia, clearly not quite catching her thanks to the enormous size of the bouquet she was holding. Gosh, why did it have to be so big? Chairman Han was not a nouveau-riche, yet he had a huge interest in showing off with that money of his. The girl fought every cell in her hands to as not to pass the flowers to a trash can.

…Good thing there are just a few trash cans in Seoul.

A part of her mind kind of understood why Cynthia was mad: Because she didn’t share anything about this betrothal. It was a surprise, almost a blow to her side but c’mon, she got what her mother wanted! So what was the reason for the ugly pout adorned her face? Also, no words had been spoken between them since they left the Han family’s side.

She accomplished her die for-task, there surely was no reason to be this upset!

“Mom, please! Could you wait? I am having a hard time.” Oh, how she wanted to take off these damned heels of her feet. There was a stinging pain her soles and her big baby side wishing to cry in the middle of the street. “Mom, can we talk please!”

Finally, words reached Cynthia and she turned by Louis. There was an expression on her face that the girl could not read: “We will talk. But not here, come on.” she said with a stern voice.

With that, the woman entered the skyscraper which its penthouse reserved for them, since the first day of their shaky journey to Korea.

The building was as crowded as always since a few businesses took place in it; say from restaurants to company offices. Normally the workers who were part of such organisms ignored them on a daily basis, had their head turned by the red roses with arched eyebrows. How the purse-proud Han family were…

Just like the rest of their trip, the mother and the daughter held no conversations in the elevator. It was easy to mistake Cynthia’s expression to an angry one, though if one looked close they could see the steam coming off from her ears due to some heavy calculation process happening right in her mind.

Louis was not sure what to expect to hear from her: Some scolding, and then what? She wouldn’t suggest calling off the engagement, would she?

After what it seemed like 10 hours of her life, they arrived in their suit. A few maids and some footmen were running from here to there, as they were not just serving the Hampton family but the whole building. Some of them bowed courteously before the mother and the girl disappeared behind a steel door.

Louis was expecting Cynthia to turn and shout right after it was sure that they wouldn’t be eavesdropped. Though it didn’t happen, instead, with a brief hesitation Louis started talking with a crackling voice, body full of growing anxiety from head to toe: “I- I didn’t want to do it without telling you first, okay!” She threw the bouquet of roses to the floor, and started moving next to her mother who was across the room now, still not facing her: “Please talk to me, you said you would talk to me- Mom!”

Before Louis’ widened eyes, Cynthia gripped her laptop and began to crash it by hitting it to the table. Some of the steel parts of it were flying through the air whenever she replayed the gesture: “Mom, what the hell are you doing?! Are you okay?!” Louis tried to reach however Cynthia shoved her and kept doing the motion. She couldn’t understand why. Was that because she figured out this was tied to her computer?

After everyone was sure the poor laptop would never ever breathe again, Louis called for her again but now with a slightly scared tone: “Mom…”

“Shut the hell up Louis, and give me your damn phone.” She thrust her palm right into the girl’s face, but Louis looked her in an askance: “Why though? What is your prob-”

“Just give it to me, damn it!” Before she could react, Cynthia already reached her handbag to take out the soon to be in heaven device.

Goodbye phone, it was nice to know you.

Even though the girl tried to humor herself, her body was trembling endlessly with the thoughts that stormed in her mind. With every heavy thud of steel, she was sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. Her vision was shutting off, and a silent crisis had taken place on every inch of her body. Is she angry with me? What did I do that was so wrong? Wasn’t that the thing she wanted? Would she hit me like the old times? Maybe I should go and hide in my room.

Breathing was hard and the world started to spin. She wanted to escape but her feet were betraying her. Would she abandon her? What if she left her here penniless? What was she going to do?

“…Louis? Louis?” Before Louis could drown in the sea of her mind stemming from stress, a soft voice called for her. A gentle voice, contrasting the shriek she expected to hear.

The woman that made her scared to death now grabbed her two shoulders, shaking her lightly with a face full of concern.

“Are you here? Are you with me?”

Louis’ voice was no louder than a whisper, and her vision was getting blurry: “Why? Why did you do that?”

“I know you are scared, but you should understand it. Come, sit down.” Till her thighs meet with the peach-colored sofa Cynthia pushed her through, and then crouched right before her.

“Louis when I was planning all of these, I also planned to take things slow. I knew that Chairman Han was a person that can fall for the tricks of women easily. But I wanted to take my time with Jumin. Take my time to cover you before a possible marriage. This means that even if my plans succeed, I would make you two come together not before this summer, and it was the worst possibility.” She reached to cup her cheeks in a very caring ministration.

“But now, this is all happening too fast! Did you know that this guy had not just one but two of the best hackers around the world with him?” No, Louis didn’t know this. “I have just learned, but dismissed it from my mind since we were about to leave soon. I don’t know what you did to him today, however, I am sure he didn’t agree to marry you because you successfully woo him, no.” It was true, even though if she sucked his dick the guy wouldn’t get erected probably. “So whatever you did today, he will send those two tiny hackers right after you because of it, Louis. And what would happen if he learns the truth? Maybe they already made their way through your phone and laptop, who knows?”

So that was the reason for the ruckus she caused earlier. Cynthia slowly bent her head till the wide, fair brow met the tiny, dark-skinned legs. Her arms made their way around them, hugging while sighing.

“You should be extra careful. Extra…” The fingers of the young woman who just broke off of her anxiety, tangled with light brown hair strands, combing them gently. “I know you’re doing this for me. I can’t let you put yourself in danger for me, yet I can’t order you around like you are five.”

No words were formed in Louis’ mind after that. Instead, she preferred listening to what the old woman came up with, for now. She knew it, her mother’s mind always and always worked without oxidizing, always chasing something, always planning to get it.

“You should never let your real name out in that house even for once. Never type it on the devices you use, never write it down, hell, never even whisper it you should.” She raised her chin to hold the daughter’s gaze. “Never use your personal accounts. Everything shall be new, do you understand? You should start building your virtual life from zero.” Of course, Cynthia was especially talking about the internet, knowing Louis spent most of her time being a total computer freak. “You can never talk to me about our life from the past in that house, whether it be on the phone or face to face.”

“What if there is a problem?” Louis said, mouth dry as a desert. Oh boy, she was not only hiding her real identity now but also had to keep the newest fake spy-master one.

Haha, let’s not think about it now.

Mother would freak out so hard if she knew this.

“I will give you a burner.” Cynthia said after giving it a little bit of thought. “And I will buy one for myself- though not today, I shall do it in discreet. Also never call me or text me in that house with that, I’ll be giving it to you for outsides. If you ever would be in an emergency in that house just text me things like ‘I want to meet.’, and be a little stubborn about it and I would understand. Do you get it?”

Louis nodded slowly. She didn’t feel panicked as her mother did. Moreover, now knowing that Cynthia was not angry but worried instead, the girl felt the relief rushing over her.

The Jumin guy probably was at something in the meanwhile, trying to dig and get rid of her. Honestly, she didn’t care. Of course, the idea of someone who had two good hackers with them was a little bit scary, but she got to trust the hackers on their side for protecting her data. After all, she hadn’t got in debt that much for nothing.

“Okay. Let’s clean this mess, and then go shopping together.”

“Oh, electronic shopping?! That’s my favorite. Can I choose whatever I want?”

“Of course, I am going to make that old man buy all of them. I also need a new phone too, thanks to you.”

It had always been hard to catch the irony in Cynthia’s voice, but if one knew her enough they could sense the hidden bitterness in her tone. Just as Louis did on that day.

“Well, it was very sudden.”

“We are in love.” The words were almost spat from the mouth of him, and that made Chairman Han arch a brow.

“Okay… Why didn’t you share anything?”

Oh, how he wanted to yell, yet at the same time was so afraid in his name. Since the afternoon Jumin got more paranoiac and more paranoiac, he was trying to catch a time he would be alone with his father, however now was worrying about the phone in his pocket! What if that woman was listening to their conversation? Would his father make it to the headlines without him finding a proper solution?

“I was ashamed.” This was the best lie he could have come up with. “After storming out that restaurant, I found it hard to accept even to myself.” Thank the heavens he had been taught how to control his voice, expressions, and emotions since he was a kid. Otherwise, he would be bumping his head into the wall while telling a cheesy story like that. About that woman.

Though his father didn’t seem to be convinced at all. “Alright…”

If it was before their first lunch, Chairman Han would have believed that without a single concern in his mind, because he tended to believe the women in his life a lot. But now he saw the girl with his own eyes, the man stopped putting her on the same level as the mother, which had made Jumin relieved some time ago, yet getting him in trouble now. It would be best in their interest if they could avoid talking about such topics while there was a high chance of being eavesdropped.

“So,” his father started again, fixing his collar on the other hand. “Were you serious when you declared you didn’t want a marriage ceremony?”

“Yes.” was his only answer, aware of the fact that there was no need to complicate things further with giving too many details.

Grey eyes traveled on his face, even though he did not meet them, they made their presence known by the heavy atmosphere in the limousine. “Honestly, I always expected you to not give a ceremony, but not even a dinner? That’s odd, son.”

If he ever married upon the company interests, then he would hold the most pompous wedding ceremony in Korea, much for taking the attention of media. If it was someone he loved… Well, he had never thought of it. Would he have liked to keep that person to himself as his father suggested?

While he was buried in those possibilities, Chairman Han smiled: “Something is off.”

Alarm bells rang in Jumin’s mind, he should not let those spies hear his father doubting things: “Nothing is off.”

“I don’t know, Jumin. It’s hard to believe when I saw your face wrinkled with disgust whenever you hear the name ‘Mercedes’.” Gods damn him for not hiding his emotions for once in his life.

Think about all the cliché soap operas you’ve watched. “The hate was so intense it transformed into love after we began to talk.”

The old man frowned. “Really? But when did it start?” Now the suspicion was cleared from his eyes, although not disappeared totally, Chairman’s grey orbs were shining with a new emotion called “curiosity”. “Who texted first?”

God, he demanded him to write a romance novel right there, right then! “Her.” he said in a grumpy way, not quite controlling his voice. Anyways, it was true to some degree.

“What did she say?” Now his father looked like a child listening to his favorite story. How could a woman woo his cold-hearted son in such a short time span?

“She was being her bothersome self as always.” Jumin murmured, making his father chuckle. Then the man leaned over him, asked in a whisper:

“What made you fall in love?”

He didn’t know if he could manage to make up something with a loving expression, yet even with a stern face! “Well…” There was nothing to be buttered up about her; whenever he painted the features of the young woman in his mind, every inch of his face itched to frown.

“Her eyes…” he said, which was a good start because it was the most distinct part of Mercedes. The adam apple bobbed under the milk-colored skin, a few sweat droplets appeared right above his brow, contrasting with the blank expression worn like a mask. This was not going to do, so Jumin tried to imagine a woman he’d like to praise.

There Elizabeth the 3rd was, right in front of his eyes. How elegant she looked with the new fuchsia collar he bought, adorned with diamonds. A smile played on man’s face. “Her hair,” he began, now the compliments were flowing through him. “It’s so soft, I love tangle my hands within.”

A very confused expression appeared on Chairman Han’s face, clearly asking “When?”, but disregarded by Jumin. “I love the way she smells. And her delicate hands,” The passionate pet owner checked his palms with yearning eyes, “They are so tiny, so fragile. I can hold them as long as she wants.”

And she listened to him, she understood him. Just like the person who brought her to him.

No, don’t think about that.

Green eyes, calm like meadows…

Stop.

Golden hair, softer than any silk he touched…

Anything but her, please…

Lingering touches here and there, always asking for something forbidden… Something they were both ashamed of but wanted desperately.

Or he thought so.

The ringing tone of his phone saved him from the cruelest torture of his mind. He took a deep breath and checked who it was.

Saeyoung.

How many times did he call him this afternoon? 20? 30? Jumin stopped counting after the tenth. Somehow they had learned the tragic news and kept the device ringing and ringing since he got in the car.

Probably Jaehee was the first one to hear.

“Why are you not muting it if you will not answer?” his father asked, finally going back to the newspaper he was holding.

“There can be an emergency in the company.”

The man laughed it away. “So? Today is your wedding day! You should be excited to have the delicate hands of your wife all over you, not to be buried in business.”

HAHAHAHAHA WHAT?

God he almost forgot the “wedding night” jokes for a second. At least that foul woman would not touch him since the despising was mutual.

…She wouldn’t, would she?

What if she put off a trick from the sinister sleeves of her?

Fortunately, Driver Kim came to his rescue and opened the car door for him to get out at that moment.

It would be in my best interest if I keep the door locked and fastened tonight, yes. Oh, maybe change it with a steel one.

The place they arrived, The Red Fish, was a famous, traditional Michelin restaurant. Jumin loved going there, as same as Chairman Han. The activity itself had always been a mood lifter, yet the disgraced corporate heir felt nothing sort like it at that time.

It was named after their famous red, velvet wallpapers. The separate dining rooms had Asian type wooden floor tables in them, with black cushions. Han family had used to have the same chambers whenever they had come, but after a scandal of eavesdropping involving several famous families in another restaurant, they had thought it was better off to change places every now and then as a caution.

Now Jumin was suffering by a similar problem and even he was aware of the fact, he couldn’t overcome it someway. Maybe he could have given his phone to the waiter, and ask him to keep it safe, however, it could be too suspicious if there was someone at the other side of the line. Would they spread the video if they understood he was having a secret conversation with his father, away from the phone?

No, he should carry it and not shut it off. Instead, maybe Jumin could waltz around the subject, and after Chairman Han got the point the son wanted, he could try to communicate by writing on a paper, or a tissue.

That was why he got a pen from the reception while passing, an apologizing smile on his face for the workers eying him. If Jumin wanted, probably they would have brought him boxes of the item, however, he was not a man to simply take things away because his status let him do so.

With the lead of a waitress, they settled in a large room, always reserved for the important people. For a while, they spoke about the idle things, and Jumin tried to refrain from the marriage subject in case the waitstaff would get the word out faster than one of Saeyoung’s cars. Though a part of him already suspected that the news spread.

His father brought the topic back while getting his chopsticks: “Maybe we should combine our weddings. I bet it wouldn’t be too much of a burden for the event holders.”

Absolutely not. “No need for that, but thank you, father.” No matter how kindly he pronounced those words, Jumin was horrified at the thought.

“I guess I will not be able to change your idea on this.”

“No, you won’t. I would like to keep things more domestic, and intimate.” The old man giggled.

“Very well. Keep things your way, but please bless me with a grandkid as soon as possible!”

Oh, could you stop bringing that up! “Well…” He said, trying not to be flustered as much as he could, “We will try.” It looked like Chairman Han was quite amused with his struggle. Though it was Jumin’s turn to put him on gunpoint. “Say, father, how’s everything going with you and Miss White?”

“Quite alright.” The old man answered after he stuffed a shrimp into his mouth.

The time had come to initiate the dreadful conversation, and Jumin’s heart tightened for his father since he was about to be disappointed once again. “You must’ve been to hotels together I guess-”

“No, we haven’t.”

“While I appreciate the thought of you two spend your quality time together, it’s a must that you should refrain from the things that can cause scandalous…” His voice dropped slowly, as his father gave him a confused look. It was almost like his brain stopped working for a second, and reset itself. “Excuse me, I couldn’t quite catch. You said what?” Oh, a part of him already heard it, processed it, and started to laugh hysterically, but he needed to confirm that first, maybe by making him repeat a thousand times.

“I said we haven’t.” The man said again with a shrug. “Why would we, I have the best houses around the country.”

The blood was draining from his face very slowly through the realization. “You… You didn’t even take her to the hotel for…” Jumin gulped down the last bit of pride left, “For…” And his hands were moving so fast, trying to say the things he was too embarrassed to tell out loud, “Intimate moments?”

“For the lord, Jumin!” said Chairman Han, after the words sank. “Do you think I am a high schooler who’s trying to bed their newfound lover secretly?” He looked way too offended for the accusation. “Of course we didn’t. Regardless, we haven’t even touched each other yet. We are keeping it traditional, as I mentioned before.”

Of… Of course. At some point, he  told him they were keeping things in the traditional way. And it really missed his stupid head because he was too concerned for his own future with Mercedes!

Which meant that she… Her…

Hahahahahahaha….

“What is that weird look on your face, son?” Chairman Han was eying him with an arched eyebrow.

“Nothing father.” He said, with an awkward smile looking way too artificial on his face, “I have just come to realize I have done some grave mistakes during the work today! Now if you excuse me, I got to call someone.”

She had two big ass suitcases, a gods damned camping bag, and a standalone case which reserved for her computer and computer only.

Louis had just moved for two steps out of the car but already felt so exhausted carrying this and that around. Every part of her, especially her lungs and arms, was cursing her that she went and became the confined princess who could spell “fitness” no longer in the last 6 years. I am really surprised that my ass hasn’t flattened after all the hard-core sitting sessions.

“Are you okay?” Cynthia asked, popping her head out of the window of the vehicle.

“I had better days. Why doesn’t he help me?!” She was pointing the driver with her head.

“Because he’s not your personal maid, and you can’t order him around. He works for other people too.” Cynthia said, quickly fending off the unnecessary topic. “If only you let them send the computer tomorrow to this address you wouldn’t struggle this much. Why must you be so difficult?” She chided her bitterly. Louis rejected to answer that, she knew she acted like a brat on the tech store that afternoon, but hell, she didn’t care. This computer was needed for her mental health, to survive.

A deep sigh escaped from Cynthia’s nostrils before going on: “I really don’t want to let you go however you will do as you please anyways. Still, know this: If you feel uncomfortable,” She leaned in to be sure no one would hear, “If you feel like you are having an attack and the medicine is not enough, come back to me. I don’t care about the consequences, okay? What is important is you.”

And to me, what is important is you too. “Thanks, mother.”

“Then…” She said, her hand going back to the switch button of the window. Before closing off though, Cynthia said these words: “Be sure to call me before sleeping.”

“I am not a kid mom.” Louis said, grinning in a very foxy mannered way; even though she knew it was going to be a restless night, full of anxiety, with the storms of “What am I going to do?”s circling her way.

“If you don’t call me before you sleep I will call the police and I am mad serious about it.”

“Oh, sure you are. Good night mom.” Louis said, shooing her politely. Before Cynthia left her viewpoint, she saw the uneasy look on her mother’s face.

The idea of her staying somewhere without Cynthia was refreshing, though since it was the lion’s den we were talking about, the positive thoughts were getting neutralized by the negative ones. Here we go Louis, here we go. Maybe if she never left her room till next year, Jumin would come to ignore her eventually.

What if… What if he asks me to do something for his company with my imaginary agents?

However, this thought of course went right to the back burner since she was more of a “carpe diem” person.

The famous skyscraper she heard a lot about, was right before her. She knew that at some point Chairman Han bought the whole building, then gifted the penthouse to his son. Ugh, I hope he wouldn’t wait for this kind of gift on his birthday from me.

The place was indeed out of the center, yet still had a beautiful view of the city. It reminded her of those medieval castles that were located in the farthest corners of the counties, however, every angle of them had perfect perspectives of what’s going around there. They were isolated in those peaks, above anyone else, critical eyes on the townsfolk, and radiating an aura that indicated how untouchable by the mere humans they were.

Rich bastards and their disgusting power display. Although Louis wasn’t sure if Jumin ever realized this resemblance. Probably he didn’t care enough to think about it. Yet it did not change the fact that Jumin was one of the little, elite groups who didn’t favor of the ways of common people a lot.

Upon her entrance to the building, a short fair-haired maid ran right beside her. The age difference shouldn’t be much between them Louis thought while examining the young girl’s face.

“Oh, could you be,” she started with a very strong Korean accent, “Miss White?” Then her eyes widened, and she bowed in a very apologetic manner. “I am sorry! I have meant Miss Han!”

“Relax,” Louis mumbled, now relieved to see someone stressing as much as her. “You can call me whatever you want, Han or White.” It doesn’t matter. None of them is my real surname anyways.

“Alright then, Miss Mercedes Han.” Ugh, she was going to hate that name! “My name is Cheonmi, Cheonmi Seol.” Louis tried her hardest to not say any shitty things like “Harry, Harry Potter.” and ruin Jumin’s reputation as fast as possible. “But you can call me Cheonmi!”

“Right, Cheonmi… Now then…” Louis tried to pass her and get to the elevator by herself, however, the young maid yelped and blocked her path in a very annoying way. “Miss Han! You can’t do that! I would be fired! Please give your luggage to me.” Even though Louis and her mother were surrounded by maids since their first day in Korea, she would never get used to them till her death it seemed.

“Cheonmi, no offense but you look like ready to drop dead if I ever load these suitcases on you. Go fetch someone else if you really want to help.” Louis tried to move, but once again she was blocked by the girl.

“I can’t! It’s my duty.” After a brief argument, Louis had to give up and give the very enthusiastic girl everything she carried around. Unfortunately, the girl was very short and soon was lost behind the pile of bags and luggage.

Together they got into the lift. It could have been a silent trip unless Cheonmi had lots of things in her mind. “I… I got this job two years ago by Chairman Han!”

“What a wonderful thing to happen.” Louis said sarcastically.

“Yes! But the thing is I am no ordinary maid. I… I have been tasked to help Mister Han’s wife.”

Louis frowned. “Chairman Han’s wife?”

“Oh no! Umm… Young master’s wife.”

“Do you mean Jumin?!” Did he have a wife?! What a scandal that was.

The girl tried to correct the mistake in a very worried manner, obvious that she was afraid of getting fired: “No, no, no! You got me wrong. I have been given this job for taking care of his future bride.”

Now that was boring. But also quite amusing. “You mean Chairman Han got someone for Jumin’s nonexisting wife?”

“Yes, umm… I think he desired the young master’s marriage a lot.” And you were given this job to pressure him with your existence, Louis completed the sentence silently. “But now I can stress my job with you!”

Well, Louis didn’t want to disappoint her, but sure she was going to be the most boring mistress the world had ever seen. “Wait a minute. Do you say you were doing nothing but still got paid for two years?”

“Ah, well… Yes.” It seemed she was quite embarrassed about it. This man and his unnecessary expenses… “I haven’t been in this building more than five times, but now, with you, I’ll be here every day!” I don’t think you will do any more work under my patronage too.

And finally, they arrived at the penthouse.

Isn’t it time to divorce yet? God, this was going to be exhausting.

They walked into the place, now the annoying speech of Cheonmi was calming her mind: “The young master asked me to prepare the room upstairs for you. But I guess you won’t use it that much.”

“No, it’s fine.” Louis said, eying the staircase ahead. “I value my personal space.”

“And I value mine too.” Oh, that voice…

Involuntarily, Louis turned her head to face the owner of the voice. There he was, Han Jumin, with his slightly untied cravat and unbuttoned-through-his-neck white shirt, with a whiskey glass in his hand, watching her while leaning to the doorframe of a bigger room. Arms crossed, a blank expression was on his face, and of course as handsome as always.

After a dramatic second, he broke their eye contact and directed it to Cheonmi. “You may leave now.”

The maid gave a quick bow and went back to the door after handing her belongings to her. Louis watched the girl’s cute ass for a while, then met his gaze again.

“Hello, Jumin. Bye Jumin.” she said awkwardly, then moved to the staircases, hoping he would let her go.

Though when she was just a few steps ahead of her goal, the man detonated the bomb. “I know you lied to me today.”

Shit. Which lie was he talking about again? Louis stopped immediately to meet his gaze once more. And now he popped his head to her way too, eyes waiting for some kind of explanation. Though when he couldn’t get an answer he repeated himself: “Don’t play the dumb. I know you are not an agent.”

Relief washed over Louis. So I’m still Mercedes and that card is still safe.

When she heard her mother mentioning hackers, Louis waited for her scheme to fall in matters of days. But not this soon, no. Or maybe he went and asked his father in a very direct approach, though she dearly hoped Chairman Han didn’t know about that.

Since waltzing around it wasn’t needed anymore because it was a burden, Louis claimed the accusation: “Damn, I didn’t wait to be found out this soon.” Words were mumbled, with a Cheshire cat grin.

However, Jumin didn’t look that amused at the idea. “I can’t believe you went out your way and did something very idiotic, expected to be not found out.” Even that his words were harsh, they had been said in a very tranquil tone.

Louis pouted. “I didn’t say I didn’t wait to be found out, just not this soon. And call it idiotic however you want, but you fell for it. Guess what it makes you.”

Now he was squinting at her: “What are you going to do if I divorce you first thing in the morning? How are you going to face your mother doing a thing like that, after I tell her? Do you want to marry me that bad that you step on her pride? Or was she your partner in crime?”

Oh, thank god. This meant Chairman Han didn’t know a thing about this, at least yet. Keep talking Louis, keep talking: “Quite be scandalous if we were to divorce after a day, wouldn’t it?” There was a hysteric smile on her face, which couldn’t match Jumin’s sour expression.

“Believe or not I will call this marriage off soon.” He replied in a determined way.

“Oh, please do it.” Louis’ tone was getting bitter too. “It must be hard for you to believe but I did this for my mother, without her knowledge. While you do nothing for your father.” Was she going to play that card again? Yes, she was going to play that card again.

“Nonsense, I would never dare to prepare such a clip of my father for my own interests.” He still didn’t believe how this scheme would help Cynthia, so maybe it was time to be more honest.

Louis sighed deeply before talking. “Jumin do you know why mama is marrying your father? Because of me.” she said, making him confused over the confession. “She’s marrying him for me, in the hopes of building a good future for her good-for-nothing daughter before deceasing. And do you know why is he marrying her after all the beautiful women he has been together? Because for you.” There was an expression on Jumin’s face, clearly saying “Don’t talk in my father’s name.” however she pushed, and not because she had to convince him but it was the truth. “He is trying to settle in with a more mother-like figure after all the things you’ve been through. And of course, just like Clara, he wants to see you married, and happy. They are old people Jumin.”

Jumin sighed too, processing what she was saying: “Then how would it make any good if we divorced after a year?”

“At least they knew we had tried.” Louis answered, holding her luggage tighter with frustration. “Look, I know there’s no way we would get along. No need to kick the dead horse. I just… Let’s let them know we tried, okay? We tried but couldn’t succeed. Then they would leave us alone, not trying to get our way with any more of this arranged marriage thing. I too am tired from this bullshit Jumin but I understand mother as well. And if we won’t marry, ma is going to call off her marriage as well.” Today, whenever she spoke Jumin fell awfully silent, unlike their first meeting. He did so now even though the shock upon hearing her words. And Louis couldn’t be sure if she should feel comfortable or uncomfortable about it, however, she kept talking:  “Think about it like… Like we are roommates! For a year. That would do it. And who knows maybe we would come to like each other’s company.”

Jumin closed his eyes for a few seconds, then started talking: “I highly doubt it. And you think of marriage like it’s some kind of a game. But it’s not for me.”

“Oh yeah?” Louis asked, looking irritated. “Why, was there someone you were going to court? I highly doubt so.” she finished with mocking his voice, yet couldn’t get a reaction from the man.

After gazing at each other with totally blank expressions, Louis yielded by saying, “Don’t be stubborn Jumin, just once in your life. Wouldn’t hurt you so bad.” After that, the girl kept climbing the stairs, and before opening the door of her new room she once again turned by her husband. “Good night, Jumin.”

A smile was playing on her face. The one she kept for her closest people; gentle, sincere…

And simply breath-taking.

Chapter Text

Dear Morina,

Yesterday I got married.

With someone other than you.

How are you feeling right now, I wonder. Have you gotten the news? Maybe, simply you didn’t care as I don’t hold a place in the heart of yours anymore.

Regardless, even when this letter flies across the ocean to find your hands, know that I will think of you still.

And cherish you, no matter what.

 

L.

 

 

It was Friday.

Which meant the snob guy would be home the next day.

Louis secretly hoped for him to be an overworker, however, two thoughts in her heads were clashing with the very idea: One, it seemed to be an important case for him to taking good care of his health; two, even though if he worked on Saturdays, he would surely stay in that particular Saturday to have a chance to interrogate her.

Whatever. Passing Saturday did not mean anything as Sunday was still there too.

Louis eyed her room, taking a deep breath. The room’s frontage was a full glass wall, while the sidelines were covering only the half. The rest of the place was completed with light grey ones, adorned with white wallpapers, shaped in floral decors.

She had placed her computer and the desk right in front of the glazing, in order to have a good view of the scenery. Though she got to accept, the view from Jumin’s bedroom was even better.

How did she know? Well, Louis had done her tours on her first day. There had not been much to see, and since the guy placed CCTVs to every corner of the flat she didn’t want to take so much time doing so. Nothing particular had caught her attention, but there was a furball flying around named… Marie Antoinette? Anne Boleyn? Elizabeth Olsen? Something like that. The cat had a ridiculously big portrayal at the south entrance of the house, putting all the medieval nobles to shame.

Louis literally locked herself into the room. At least it was spacious, so she didn’t lose her sanity. The girl used to do it in her old room too, however, at least she had her mother to check on her from time to time, and chat. Now she was isolated from any social activities besides that as well.

Louis didn’t want to interact with the animal, no. Not because cats were red flags in her dictionary, but because of a possible clash with her owner if she did so. Somewhere along the lines, Cynthia had mentioned that he cared a great deal for that creature.

Also calling for Cheonmi was out of the question, in order to keep the secrecy of their relationship with her betrothed. If Louis allowed the young maid to come to the flat at every dawn, she would be suspicious to see the so-called wife never interacting with her husband. And what if she blurted out something? No, the only person she should be relying on was her mother.

If the girl could, she would even get disposed of the other maids. Every morning, right after His Highness Han Jumin left the house Louis rushed down to the downstairs and put her pillows on the man’s bed, trying to make it seem like they had spent the night together. Honestly, the guy should have been grateful because she did this as much for him as for herself. Not because she was so fond of him or grew closer to him, but if something made its way off this house to the media there would be a possible divorcement in the horizons for her –as that pompous bastard needed a reason.

Her eyes made their way to the mini-fridge placed at the corner of the room. Stuffed with very questionable, unhealthy foods, the girl was sure she would survive the weekend without stepping out of her sacred haven.

Louis sighed in a drained way while sipping from her water she murmured to the glass: “Here we go Louis, to the beginning of many more lonely weekends.”

“Such a confined princess,” Saeyoung’s voice rang through Jumin’s one earphone. They were testing out the Messenger’s new group call feature, installed by the very red-haired hacker. “I am so in love with her determination.”

“How the hell did she lock herself into her room for two days?” Hyun sounded very shocked.

Jumin took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I can’t understand what’s going on in her little mind, it pains me to admit but it is the truth.”

The sun had already risen through the clouds, shining lovingly above her kids. It was a Monday, adults had gone to their jobs; teenagers were in their desks in the schools, looking for new mischiefs or revelations.

In the middle of this weekly routine, one man who people expected to be in office before anyone else was at home, cooking pancakes for his newly… Wed.

“Could she be dead?” Zen’s new question elicited a snort from Saeran, and a burst of loud laughter from Saeyoung while Jumin seriously hoped that was not the case. Even though he wanted to talk to her, couldn’t get himself to go and knock her door. What a big scandal it would be if it turned out he didn’t realize there was a dead person under his roof for two long days.

However, there wasn’t any smell that gotten through his noise. “I don’t think that is the case.”

Saeyoung ignored Jumin’s statement as he took him for joking: “She is extraordinary, you got to admit that too!”

“Definitely.” Saeran agreed, “Is she downstairs yet?”

“No, apparently she is still sleeping.”

“Or gaming.” The other twin added.

“Wow, to be honest, I didn’t think there would be a bigger hermit on this world than Yoosung.” Hyun brutally criticized their youngest member, however, the mentioned blond wasn’t there to hear it and grimace, as he was attending the classes.

The plan was to catch the girl like prey. He knew she diligently went to his room every day and put her pillows there. First, nor Saeyoung or Jumin understood what in the world her aim was. Simply, the fact that Mercedes wished to help him on anything came out as surprising. He had been sure if he was dying of thirst, the girl wouldn’t even spare her spit for him.

Proved him wrong. Still, one could get suspicious of her motives.

“Ah,” Hyun took the attention on himself once again, “I have arrived at the studio guys. That’s the end of this call for me. See you all!” After one cheery, two dull good-byes the actor left the call.

“Say Saeran, when will you come back home?” Saeyoung asked, interrupting the brief lull Zen’s depart caused.

The twin in question answered after a pause like he got bored from the older one’s never-ending affection: “Soon, I guess.”

The boy was hunting estates for his future flower shop. Even though Saeyoung’s protests, Jumin arranged all of the budgets as this was all he could do for the unfortunate kid after everything happened, yet it didn’t feel enough. Actually, the idea belonged to V, however, the young heir wanted to see his friends full of concerns about others no more.

“Tell me if you need anything further.” Jumin said in a flat tone.

“Nope, everything is fine. Thank you a lot, Jumin.”

Saeyoung acknowledged the jest as well: “Yes, thank you.”

The kitchen was silent besides the constant chatting coming through his earphone, and sizzle from the pan. He was not sure if Mercedes had a big appetite or not, still made more than enough. They needed this for the long conversation that’s been awaiting them.

“Mr. Han?” Assistant Kang’s voice rang in the device.

“Hello, Jaehee.” Saeran mimicked his salute afterward.

And Saeyoung greeted her too: “Hey Jaehee. Hyun has just left.”

“Oh, I am not here for him. Though it’s unfortunate.” A little bit of disappointment lingered in her voice. “Mr. Han, when will you come to the company?”

“Hmm, I’ll be there in the afternoon I guess.” He hoped the Mercedes girl would be awake till then. Or he was going to bang her door to its collapse.

The exhaustion dripped from assistant’s next words: “While I have no complaints about your personal affairs, please refrain from sudden rescheduling Mr. Han.”

“I am not pleased with the current situation either.” He disregarded her complaints quickly. “It’s a desire of mine that this wouldn’t become a repeating occasion.”

Though his assistant didn’t seem to be silenced that easily: “With your sudden departments you leave the company to the hands of chaos. We are having so many problems right here. Please-”

“Jaehee, I will be there in the afternoon.” Jumin interrupted, not in the mood for the woman’s scolding.

“Very well, good day to you.” she said, afraid of pulling the strings of her boss’ nerves. “See you later Saeyoung, Saeran.” The twins bade her farewell too.

After that, Jumin kept himself busy preparing a strawberry glazing. Soon later, the cracking of a door came to his ears, and the sound of the door was followed by faint footsteps.

Here she comes.

Jumin leaned on the marble kitchen table, waiting for her. The mentioned woman entered the room soon after the sounds, with bed hair and pajamas, clung to the pillow in her arms like it’s a life and death situation. Her head turned by him for a second then faced the bed and then turned by him again with a flinch which blossomed a grin on his face.

“Good morning.”

 “G…Good morning.” The girl looked like she had just seen a ghost, much to Jumin’s amusement. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean? This is my house and you are the guest. Mind the manners.” He replied, then walked to his laptop on the counter to check his work.

“O-oh, so the princess is awake.” Saeyoung said, it looked like he enjoyed the situation.

Jumin ignored him. “I hoped you would have breakfast with me. Of course, after you complete this strange ritual of yours.” His finger was pointing the pillow now.

“Did you know?” asked Mercedes while messing with his bed. “I can take things further if you like.”

The heir’s handsome features frowned at the suggestion. “How so?”

“Just watch me.” she answered before climbing on the bed. To his horror, Mercedes started to jump and creak the bed enough to let people outside… To have ideas. To have thoughts… Of them.

Saeyoung burst into laugh and thanks to that Jumin was saved from his frozen state. Quickly he grabbed the earphone out of his ear and hung up the phone. “It is not going to work.” the man said, before burying himself to the pancakes once again. “We have very solid sound insulation here.”

“That’s boring.” After falling unceremoniously to the king-sized bed, she came near him to share the meal. He started to prepare the plates while feeling her hypnotizing blue eyes at his back. “I didn’t know you could cook.”

“I am a man of many talents.” That was a lie. He didn’t know that many recipes, however, Jumin was sure he could handle it if he wanted to.

Since he was giving too much information about himself, it wouldn’t hurt to ask her some questions Jumin thought as he placed their plates and utensils. “So, do you like cooking too?”

“No, I hate that.” Mercedes answered in all her honesty. His brows were knitted. Despise, and disliking was one thing but “hate” was a strong word. However, that could wait for another time, as he had more important matters at hand and limited time.

He hummed before speaking: “Do you also despise eating too? Since you haven’t left your room two days straight.”

Her shoulders were shrugged in soft movements. “I am an introvert, what do you expect?”

No, you’re a closed book. Even Saeyoung might have come to terms with the notion that this girl was just an ordinary person with a cunning mind, Jumin still felt that something was off. Something very dire…

“You can come out of your room, you know.” he said, while putting glazing on the dough.

“I wouldn’t dare to bother His Majesty.” The answer came out with a snort, only to be ignored by Jumin.

“I wouldn’t care as long as you don’t touch Elizabeth the 3rd.”

The hints of confusion could be traced to Mercedes’ face. “Who?” she asked, but before Jumin could have replied the answer came to her: “O-oh.” was her reaction, upon understanding. “You mean your cat. Hey, why would I want to touch that thing? There are lots of stray cats down there waiting for attention.”

Jumin frowned. “Where? I made sure each one of them in this neighborhood to be adopted.” For a second Mercedes looked astonished. “You know what, never mind. That is not my concern right now.” After stuffing one bite to his mouth, he went and took the document stood right next to his laptop. “Let’s talk about this.”

The paper was eyed by Mercedes, and when the girl in question recognized what it was her expression got sour. Upon seeing how her mood dropped, a sadistic joy started to light up Jumin’s heart.

“Miss White, I hope you didn’t think I would forget about this.” he said while grabbing a pen.

“How could I?” Mercedes responded bitterly.

There, the contract she made him sign on their wedding day was between his fingers. A smug grin adorned the man’s face, while the girl in front of him was simply menacing.

“I would like to clear things between us, and I would like you to be honest about the questions I am going to ask-”

“What? Is this an interrogation? I can simply go back to my room-”

“Which would not be in your interest because marriage is a thing that done by both partners, so if you want me to be your pretend husband it would be best for you to cooperate.” Jumin sighed. “Are we clear?”

A reluctant nod was his answer, but even though the lack of enthusiasm of the other partner things could be managed. He had been handling business relationships since he was a little kid, this might have stood like a child’s play compared to them.

“This is the first time you have prepared such a document I assume.”

“Yes.”

“Even though your lack of experience, it was prepared very neatly. Well done.” Compliments could lighten up the mood a bit, and his words were not straight lies. “Shame that the position you have asked for was ‘wife’, instead of the all the beautiful job titles we have been looking for. We could make us of you better than… This. And there would be more benefits.”

“No, thanks.” The way she disregarded that so quickly… Surely she had been thinking about this possibility before. Strange.

“Especially when I take consideration of your video editing skills.”

“Oh,” An apologetic grin slowly took its place on Mercedes’ face. “That…”

“I hope you have got ridden of that fool’s errand.”

“Of course I did!” Mercedes said, looking a bit frustrated before stuffing pancake in her mouth. “Though it was not that successful. I didn’t let you take a closer look, and you have only seen it for a few seconds. I’m sure that you could call the trick if you studied it more.”

“You are a smart girl.” Jumin answered simply. He would have lied if he said he was not impressed with her planning skills. “All right, back to the contents of the contract.”

“Oh yes, spare me the bullshit.”

He sent a glare behind the paper he was holding: “Mind the manners.” he said once more. “If you’re that into the idea of fake marriage then at least you should learn when to shut that pretty mouth of yours.” Jumin couldn’t see it since he focused on the contract again, but he could swear that she rolled her eyes.

“So as you can guess, this contract is no more valid. But I would like to take consideration of your demands. The first thing that catches my attention is… The one-year thing.”

Mercedes avoided eye contact. “What about it?”

“Basically, handling this charade for a whole year is out of the question for me. However, I can promise I will manage as long as it takes us.” Now Miss White had a new expression on her face: Disappointment. “You said it was for your mother and my father right? Then let’s see how much time they need to settle in and after being sure let’s get divorced. Unless you have other motives.” Jumin sighed at her lack of response. “Mercedes, I am not saying I don’t care about my father. However, he had lots of women in his life and every time he managed to recover. He would recover from Clara as well. I am doing this for you too since you look so desperate, as well as I am doing for him. Even though the bad man you are taking me for.”

She had no choice but to accept his terms, some points were scored by him at last. “And the other thing is the 5 million dollar question… I don’t understand why a clever girl like you would request the money after a year’s pass. It was sure that your ploy wouldn’t last that long.” Others might’ve thought she had some calculation problems went right there, however, Jumin knew the girl. There had to be a nasty scheme in her head.

“Umm…” A sigh came off her tiny, rosy lips. “Do you see the bank address I have given there? It is in the name of your company.”

“Yes, I have realized that.”

“So… In the contract the goal seemed to be the money would not stay in my bank, neither in yours for a year, for security reasons.” And when the time came, he was supposed to do some fake business arrangements through it, making his father obvious to the situation. “This way I would be sure that you would hand the money, and you would be sure that I am not running off with it. The thing is…” Now her tongue was wetting the soft, pink flesh, readying him for whatever the bomb she was going to drop. “Your father handed this account to my mother, as some of her credit cards didn’t work here-”

“My father did… What?” Jumin felt like he was going to faint. The room was spinning so well.

“I think your father is trusting strangers too much.” Mercedes said, almost in a whisper. “But anyways, I was planning to get the money just in case, without alarming my mother.”

“And then… You were going to do what?” He put a hand on his eyes. “Run of with money? That is a fraud. Illegal.”

“Actually not!” Mercedes warbled. “Your father willingly handed the account to my mother, for her own usage. I would figure out some way if you kicked us out.” That hysteric laughter he felt burning his stomach whenever he was around this woman, well it was surfacing again.

“What in the world were you going to do with that amount of money anyway? That is too much for one person. Are you… Planning to run some business?”

“Excuse me? I think the needs of your house every month cost more than 5 million dollars.”

He grimaced. “You are not a person of luxuries.”

“But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life worrying about money ever again!”

Ah, this girl. Why is she as almost difficult as a five years old child? “Okay, you know what? I will simply give you monthly payments for whatever you would like to buy, and if you can save up, then that money is yours. But do not wait for me to pay a penny more.”

The girl looked like she had some more protests, but Jumin didn’t want to hear any of it. These were going to be his conditions, and if Mercedes didn’t want to accept he could call the marriage as soon as possible. He was not going to be bent by some over-spoiled girl.

“Fine.” she said, deep breathing.

Jumin rose off from the chair. “That settles a deal for us.” Even though the girl looked upset, his mood was off the charts. After seeing him putting his blazer on Mercedes got up from the table either.

“I see you haven’t eaten much. Didn’t you like it?” he asked while getting ready in a hurry.

“I don’t have the appetite.” she responded grumpily.

“Take care of yourself.” Now he was heading out for the door, but before going out he remembered something and turned by her: “Cheonmi will visit you today, go and get yourself some suitable dress.”

“For what?” Mercedes spat.

Jumin was shocked by how obvious she was. “For our parents’ marriage of course. Don’t tell me you were planning to spend it by locking yourself in your room.”

“Of course not.”

“I also arranged a Korean teacher for you, will send you the schedule today. Please do not scare him off.”

“But-”

“And I arranged another teacher for your table manners.”

“What!? Do you think this is the 18th century!?” With every word poured from his mouth, she was getting angrier and angrier. Amazing.

“No, but for a person just came out from her cave it is needed.”

“You-!”

“And she will teach you how to dance too.”

Her eyes widened. “Now that is very unnecessary Jumin! Everyone dances like they are floating nowadays, be it common folk or stupid ass rich people!”

Jumin ignored her complaints with a very amused aura. “I am looking forward to your improvement.” With that, he left her there, with a grin so big that it caused a pleasant pain upon his face muscles.

Yes, he wanted to see what Mercedes wanted to see, but if she was planning to play with him during the session, he could as well as play with her too.