I’d been trying to avoid the issue the entire day and here came Brian, trying to pry it out of me.
“Aisshiii…” he exclaimed as he got up and came to sit beside me. “Uljima,” he said as he put an arm around me.
“I told you not to ask,” I said softly, as a tear slid down my cheek.
“I didn’t know it was that depressing. Mian. I’ll shut up now,” he said as he covered his mouth with both hands.
“Pabo,” I said as I pulled his hands away from his face. “I’m fine. Let’s just talk about other stuff.”
“And you promise to tell me about it once it blows over?”
“When it does, what is there to talk about?”
“I’m just curious,” he said.
“Fine, fine… ajumma… you’re so nosy. KPC!” I said.
“It’s a Chinese thing… an abbreviation of a Malaysian Chinese word.”
“Yea… tell me,” he urged.
“The full word is ‘kay poh chi’, which sort of means nosy woman.”
“Weird…” he laughed.
“It’s something like me calling you ajumma for being such a nosy nag.”
“Yea… okay. I get it. Enough with the elaborations,” he said.
“You asked, didn’t you?” I said.
“Whatever,” he said as he sipped his coffee.
“Yah! You…” I exclaimed, and just then, my phone rang.
I looked at the screen to see Yun Ho’s photo flashing on it.
“Lover boy?” Brian asked.
“No,” I said, and I flipped my phone open. “Yun Ho?”
“Where are you?” he asked me.
“At a coffee house, with Brian,” I replied.
“Yes. We bumped into him during dinner, and we, he and I, decided to have coffee.”
“Can you come over now?” he asked me.
“Jae Joong’s home. Let’s see if we can get him to talk to you.”
“If he wants to talk to me, he’ll come find me. I don’t need to make the first move.”
“Why are the both of you so stubborn?” he sighed.
“I’m not being stubborn. I came over last night, and that was already an effort on my part. It’s up to him now.”
“He’s holed himself up in the workroom. He refuses to talk to me.”
“Is it because you called him on my behalf? Mian,” I said.
“Aniya… He’s just upset that I was trying to be nosy. He’ll cool off soon enough.”
“Then by the time he’s cooled off, he’ll talk to me,” I said.
“Wouldn’t it end quicker if you came?”
“I can come over, then what would I say to him? ‘Sorry for allowing Darren to kiss me.’?”
“What?!!!” Brian exclaimed, and cursed. “That’s what happened?”
“I’ll talk to you later, Yun Ho,” I said. “I just unwittingly revealed to this busybody what had happened,” I laughed.
“Araso… take care. Call me when you get home,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied and hung up.
“Darren? Darren from Helix kissed you?” Brian said incredulously.
“Yes… don’t tell me you think I kissed him.”
“I’m wondering the same thing myself.”
“How did he happen? Spill it. Now!”
“He just grabbed me out of the blue and kissed me. Then Jae Joong saw him do it. End of story.”
“Sick guy…” he said, and he noticed me glaring at him. “Okay, not so sick, since you’re obviously hot,” he laughed.
“I just don’t get that guy. He just kissed me and left.”
“Did you like it?” he asked me, and I smacked him. “Okay, bad question.”
“Yea… bad question,” I said. “I just want this nightmare to end. Jae Joong has not spoken to me since last night.”
“He’s just hurt,” Brian said.
“I’m hurt too,” I said. “How could he think that I would betray him?”
“Cos you’re obviously hot?” Brian smiled.
“Very funny, Brian,” I rolled my eyes.
“Hey… just trying to lighten things up. It’ll blow over. Jae Joong will come around.”
“I hope so,” I sighed. “I’ve been hearing nothing but words of comfort all day. Can I have some insults now?” I laughed.
“Ajumma,” Brian said, and smiled.
“Is that the best you can come up with, haraboji?” I laughed.
“I was trying to be gentler with my insults,” he said.
“Don’t,” I said. “I like it when we fight.”
“Now why does that statement sound a little sick and twisted to me,” he grinned.
I got home at about 11pm, and the apartment was already silent. I tiptoed to my room flipped on the switch.
“Omo!” I exclaimed in shock when I saw Jae Joong sitting on my bed. “Can you stop doing that?”
“Where were you?” he asked me.
“Out with Brian. I thought you were at home.”
“I got sick of Yun Ho bugging me to make up with you, so I came here. Looks like you don’t need me,” he said as he started to get up.
“Don’t say that,” I said and I pushed him back onto the bed. “How dare you say that to me?”
“Why not? I’m not the one who cheated.”
“You know damn well I didn't cheat on you. He came onto me!”
“Now you’re being unreasonable,” I said. “I went out with Brian because I needed to keep my mind occupied. If I’d come home just now, I’d have just spent the rest of the night crying.”
“What’d gotten into you, Jae Joong?” I yelled at him. “Are you even the Jae Joong I know? Why are you treating me like this?”
“I just realized how it felt… the possibility of you discarding me for another.”
“When have I ever discarded you for another? You’re really not making sense.”
“I’ve seen all those guys who hang around you; those who are your friends. They’re your age group.”
“And your point is? What do you mean my age group? We’re all in our twenties.”
“Somehow I feel that you share a connection with them that you will never share with me,” he said.
“So this is what it’s about? The fact that I’m older? So you knew that I didn’t have anything to do with Darren?” I said as I looked at him, waiting for an answer.
“I don’t know, Sierra. I really don’t know,” he said sadly.
“If I really cared about age, I wouldn’t have started anything with you after Yun Ho left.”
“You needed someone, and I was too happy to be there.”
“How can you say that?” I said.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks now. I have never felt so mistrusted. It was as if I’d been framed by the person I loved most. He looked up at me, and his eyes were watery too. Why, Jae Joong? If it hurts you as much, why treat me like that? He stood up and walked towards me, and I moved back as he approached until my back was against the door.
“Uljima,” he whispered, and he kissed me.
I closed my eyes and kissed him back. Was this his way of saying he’d forgiven whatever has happened? Did this mean we were putting this behind us now? He pulled away seconds later, and stood there, just looking at me.
“I gotta go,” he said.
He pushed me aside gently, and opened the door to walk out.
“Jae Joong!” I shouted after him.
I was angry and frustrated now. Why do all men behave the same way? First Yun Ho, now Jae Joong. Do they have a book that teaches them how to piss women off?
“Nuna?” Shoei said sleepily as he walked out of his room. “What’s wrong?”
“Kim Jae Joong…” I said softly, but my voice was filled with anger, “We’re so over,” and I went into my room and slammed the door.
I dug through my bag for my mobile phone, and dialed Yun Ho’s number as soon as I found it.
“Yun Ho,” I choked into the phone as soon as he picked up.
“Sierra, kwaench'ana? Did Jae Joong come by?”
“Yea, he did,” I said, as angry tears started to stream down my cheeks.
“What happened? Didn’t he patch things up with you?”
“If he did, do you think I’d be calling you now?” I bit out.
“Gawd… what is he doing?” Yun Ho cursed.
“What’s wrong with him?” I cried. “Why is he doing this? He came in and started ranting about our age difference and all. Did something happen recently? Did I do something wrong? I don’t remember doing anything wrong.”
“I don’t know what’s gotten into him. Maybe it’s from the stress and from not being able to see you often enough.”
“That’s no reason to treat me like that,” I continued to cry.
“Sierra,” Yun Ho sighed. “Uljima.”
“I’ve seriously had it… I can’t just swallow what he threw at me.”
“No one’s asking you to.”
“Then it is over,” I said.
“Are you sure? Are you sure it’s really over? I’m sure it’s just temporary insanity. Give him some time.”
“He’s been insane for long enough. I can’t take it. If you heard the things he said to me; about me wanting to discard him for someone else and all that rubbish.”
“He said that?”
“Yea,” I sniffed.
“Aishii…” he exclaimed. “He’s really gone nuts this time.”
“Has he come home?” I asked Yun Ho.
“No. Not yet,” he replied. “Do you need me to come over?”
“No, I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure? You don’t sound fine to me.”
“I’ll be fine. I need to get through this alone this time. Or I might be accused of being needy again.”
“He said that too, huh,” Yun Ho groaned.
“He said a lot of stuff, and I plan to forget them all.”
“Don’t sound like that. You know you still love him.”
“What’s love without trust… without understanding?” I exclaimed. “I thought we had both of that, but I was wrong. We have none of it left now. I’m beginning to think our relationship was an empty shell.”
“It’s been so long, you can’t mean that. If you’re saying your relationship with Jae Joong is an empty shell, then what about yours and mine?”
I had nothing to reply to Yun Ho when he said that. What had we been? What had Yun Ho meant to me back then? We’d been through a lot together, and yet we ended up being apart. And now, after sharing so much with Jae Joong, I still end up getting hurt. What do all these relationships mean?