“Omigod, onni!” Hae Rin exclaimed as soon as we were out of the room after the press conference had ended. “I’d read about Yun Ho oppa popping up like that at your press conference in Japan, but I never thought Jae Joong oppa would do something like that too.”
“I didn’t think he would either,” I laughed. “But it’s different with him. We’re already public, so it only generates more interest for the single, instead of hurting the sales.”
“I know… but it felt so… surreal. Don’t you feel touched that he came?”
“Sure I do. I’ve not seen him for almost 2 weeks. Of course I feel touched that he came.”
“2 weeks? How does Skye find the time to come see me?”
“You and Skye have just begun. It’s only natural. When you’re together for as long as Jae Joong and I have been, you wouldn’t be so crazy and needy.”
“Still… I can’t help feeling that your relationship with Jae Joong oppa’s like stuff you read in books and watch in dramas. It always seems so beautiful, and they are right when they call you both the power couple,” she giggled.
“Aigoo… what power couple? We’re just a couple of kasu who are dating each other. What’s with this power couple tag?”
“It suits you both,” she smiled. “Maybe Skye and I can be the other power couple some day.”
“I’m sure you both will,” I said. “You’re both young and you have long careers ahead. Eventually, you will be.”
“You sound as if you’re retiring next year.”
“You’ll never know. I could be put out to pasture the next month. Once I’ve lost my value, they’ll get rid of me.”
After our 2nd album, S-Cube signed a 5 year contract with SM. So at least for the next 5 years, we belong to SM. But if we don’t do well, they can choose to stop releasing our albums, and we’d still be tied to SM, but not doing anything until our contract expire.
As we turned the corner, we found Jae Joong there, waiting for me.
“Oppa!” Hae Rin waved. “See you later onni,” she said as she walked past him.
Jae Joong gave me a puzzled expression as Hae Rin walked off.
“What’s with the face?” I asked him.
“Is she alright?” he asked me. “She seems extra perky.”
“I guess she’s relieved that the single’s launch is over.”
“And what about all those stuff you said about her being hung up on me?”
“She seems to be over you,” I laughed.
“Just like that?” he said.
“Yea… I guess you’re not all that big a deal after all,” I teased.
“Not big a deal? So I guess I don’t need to be here today?” he said and he turned around, threatening to walk off.
“Ya… hajima,” I laughed as I clung onto his arm.
He turned around and pulled me into his arms for a hug. We stood there for awhile, just holding each other. It felt like as if we were trying to absorb each other into our bodies, wanting to just stay connected. Whatever I said to Hae Rin about not having the need to see and touch each other all the time went out the window. When I didn’t see him, I made do without him, but when he was there, I felt the need to be a part of him overwhelm me.
Sometime later, he pulled away and kissed my forehead.
“Annyeong,” he smiled.
“Annyeong,” I replied. “Oraemanida,” I giggled.
“Nae…” he sighed as he pulled me close again. “Oraemanida…”
“I think we should go somewhere else,” I said. “Someone’s gonna walk down this corridor pretty soon.”
“Who cares?” he said. “We need to help fill up the tabloid pages anyway. We’ll do them a favor and let someone catch us here.”
“Michoso,” I laughed and pulled away. “Let’s go.”
We walked down the corridor with our arms around each other. It’s been 2 weeks since I saw him. I was surprised that he found the time to come, and to stick around after.
“Don’t you have recording today?”
“I’ll get in after lunch,” he said. “I need to go on a date.”
“My mistress of course,” he smiled.
“Ya… who’s your mistress? You’ve got someone on the side?”
“I thought you were my mistress.”
“I thought I was the wife?”
“You’re the wife and the mistress. Mistress in the sense that you’re in charge,” he laughed.
“I am?” I grinned.
“Nae,” he smiled and he gave me a quick kiss on the lips.
We went to a quiet café for a quick lunch. It wasn’t that quick actually, since we had time for dessert and coffee.
“You look beautiful today,” he said as his thumb absently caressed my wrist.
I was still dressed in the outfit for the press conference, which thankfully, wasn’t too dressy, or I’d have looked out of place beside him. He was wearing his usual cap, t-shirt, jacket and jeans ensemble.
On our way out of the building where the conference was held, we were mobbed by reporters since they’d anticipated that we would leave together. Jae Joong put his arm around me protectively as we walked out. We didn’t shield our faces from the cameras, but we didn’t exactly stop to smile and chat either. We just nodded politely and walked to his car as quickly as possible.
“I felt so old next to Hae Rin,” I smiled.
“You never look old,” he said. “You’re only 25. You have still a long way to go.”
“Thank god you don’t look that young,” I said cheekily.
“I know I look mature,” he smirked at me. “It’s to your benefit anyway.”
“I can’t believe I’m already 23,” he sighed.
We celebrated his birthday recently, sometime after we came back from Prague. He’d asked for a small dinner party instead of the huge ones we usually have at the club.
“I feel too old to party,” he said.
“You’re only 23,” I laughed. “And you’re already acting like an old man.”
“I just don’t feel like it,” he said. “Can we just go to a restaurant, have dinner and then go home?”
“Well, it’s up to you,” I said. “You’re the birthday boy.”
“Boy… Am I still a boy?” he grinned.
“Yes, you big baby,” I laughed.
We went to a simple restaurant we frequented. We’d decided not to go to a posh one so that the guys could go nuts and be rowdy if they wanted to. We ate, drank, and the guys dared each other to do the craziest things. They made Kang In go up to the ajumma who owned the restaurant and ask for her daughter’s number. Luckily, she knew it was done in fun, or Kang In would’ve been chased out with a broom.
“So hyung, when’s the wedding?” Dong Hae asked after a round of toasts.
“Wedding?” Jae Joong exclaimed.
“When are you and Sierra getting married? We keep waiting and the tabloids and papers are waiting.”
“You want to send me to an early grave?” I asked Dong Hae.
“Why do you say that?”
“How do you think his fans will react if he married at 23?”
“He’s going to get married eventually,” Dong Hae shrugged.
“Eventually,” Yun Ho said. “Now’s not the time.”
I looked at Yun Ho and smiled gratefully. At least he understood the repercussions of Jae Joong and me getting married.
“Yep,” Jae Joong said as he downed a glass of soju. “Now’s not the time. I need to keep my options open too. I’m still young and eligible,” he laughed.
“Yah!” I half-yelled and pinched his arm, hard.
“That’s gonna leave a mark,” Hee Chul laughed, and the rest of the guys laughed as Jae Joong rubbed his arm.
“Great birthday present,” Sung Min added.
I looked across the table at him now. I looked beautiful? I always thought that he looked better than me, that I paled in comparison when I stood beside him. I didn’t blame the people who say that I don’t deserve him, and that he could do better. Sure he was already 23, but he didn’t look a day older from the day we met. He’d matured, but he never looked better to me.
“Appreciate it when you’re still 23. I can still remember when I was 23. I felt so desperate. I kept thinking it would be too late for me to make it in this industry, then my lucky break came.”
“Lucky? You weren’t lucky. You earned it.”
“No,” I said as I shook my head. “Getting your foot in the door has a lot to do with luck. Once you have that, then it’s time to prove to those who’d chosen you that you were the right choice.”
“And you’ve done it over and over again,” he smiled.
“I hope so,” I smiled back.
“At least for me, you have,” he said.
“You’ve proven to me that I’ve made the right choice,” he said.
“Of course,” I huffed, and I laughed at my own mock confidence.
“Tsk, tsk,” he smiled indulgently, “such modesty.”
“I’m Sierra, aren’t I? You can never go wrong with me,” I giggled.
“Nae, majayo…” he said, and he leaned over to pinch my cheek.
“Ya…” I exclaimed and rubbed my cheek.
We left the restaurant sometime later and went straight to the studios where we both had our own recording sessions to get to. In the elevator, Jae Joong pulled me close, and he kissed me.
“I’ve been waiting for that the entire day,” I smiled as he pulled away.
“Why didn’t you say so?” he laughed softly.
“It’s not ladylike for a girl to do the asking,” I said with the straightest face I could muster, and then I winked.
“Don’t wink at me, you hussy,” he said.
The elevator arrived at my floor and I walked out as he held the door open.
“Nyeh!” I said, as I turned around to stick out my tongue and wink at the same time.
“You just love reminding me what I can’t do, don’t you?” he said as he planted his hands on his hips.
“Don’t do that,” I said and I walked back towards him to pull his hands off. “You’ll become an ajumma like Chang Min.”
“Ajumma?” he exclaimed, then he laughed his 3-beat laugh. “Wait till he hears this.”
“He always does that during performances, when you guys are interacting with the audience.”
“Yea… he does.”
“Ajumma,” I said, and I giggled.
“I’ll see you later,” he said.
“Again? Are you sure you have time?”
“I’m missing you a bit more than usual today. I’ll pop over during my break.”
“How romantic,” I said.
“As usual,” he said, and he attempted to wink, but ended up blinking instead.
I laughed hysterically as the elevator doors closed, and he rolled his eyes at me, then smiled.
I opened the studio door, and found that the room was empty. Where did they all go? Didn’t we have a recording session at 2pm? I walked in and sat down at my usual spot, and started sifting through my file. There are lots to do, but so little time. I have a few other promotional activities lined up with Hae Rin, and early next month, when we release S-Cube’s 3rd album, there will be another string of promotional activities to follow.
I was flipping through my schedule, when the lights suddenly went out. I turned around to see the door slamming shut.
“Yah!” I exclaimed at the person, but I didn’t get to see who it was. I walked up towards the door and found that it was locked.
“Yah! Let me out,” I yelled, but received no reply.
I turned around and looked around the pitch dark room. I was reminded of the time I was stuck in the studio with Brian and Hwan Hee, and it wasn’t an experience I wanted to relive, but here I am again, this time alone. Why would someone do this to me?