I walked out of the room as the program ended. Today had been eventful and I was ready to go to bed, but first, I had to call Hae Rin. I’d only had yesterday night to spend with her, and it felt like I hadn’t come back at all.
“It’s me,” I said as soon as the call was connected.
“I saw you on Sound Bites,” she said.
“Did I look okay?” I asked her.
“Is that all you think about?” she giggled.
“Kinda,” I laughed.
“Tired?” she asked me.
“A little,” I said. “I’ll head back to my room after this.”
“Where are you now?”
“We’re all in nuna’s room, watching TV.”
“I see,” she said and was silent for a moment. “You know…” she started. “Seeing you just for that few hours yesterday… it feels as if you never came back from Taiwan,” she laughed softly.
“Arayo…” I said. “I miss you too.”
“Skye…” she said. “There’s something else I wanted to ask you about.”
“Have you seen the tabloids today?”
“No I haven’t. I was traveling and performing all day. What’s wrong? Is it something about nuna again?”
“No… it’s you. There’s this photo of you walking out of the arrival hall, with a girl hanging on your arm.”
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Who is she, Skye?”
“I really didn’t think they’d put that in the tabloids.”
“Well they did, so who is she?” she said, and I could sense she was getting impatient.
“That’s Yuk Hee,” I said.
“So you know her?”
“She’s a childhood friend of mine. I met her in Taiwan and we decided to fly back together.”
“Looking at the photo, you guys looked more like a couple just returning from their honeymoon.”
“Don’t say that, Hae Rin. You know it’s not true. I’d never betray you like that.”
“I’m just saying… that’s how it looked to me.”
“So what would you have me do? Do you want me to send our photos to the tabloids so that they know it’s you I love? Are you willing to put your career on the line just to quell your jealousy?”
“Mian… I was a little…”
“It’s alright,” I said. “Just have a little more faith in me, in us. Okay?”
“Araso…” she sighed. “So does she know you have a girlfriend?”
“I told her about you. She knows I’m very serious about you.”
“How was your day?”
“Same old… they’re working on a new song for me, and I have to dance in the new MV.”
“That should be fun… since you’ve been singing mostly ballads for so long.”
“I guess…” she said. “You know… you should go to bed. It’s almost 12am.”
“Yea… I’ll wash up and go to bed. I’ll call you tomorrow night?”
“Ne,” she said, and there was another moment of silence on both sides.
“Hae Rin-ah…” I said.
“O…” she replied.
“Saranghae,” I said.
“Saranghae,” she replied, and I could hear a hint of happiness in her voice.
I opened the glass door that closed off the balcony and the room, and walked in. Hee Chul hyung and Shoei had gone back to their room.
“They went to bed?” I asked nuna.
“Yea,” she answered. She was already in her pajamas and toweling-dry her hair, which meant they had left sometime ago. “You look troubled. What’s up?”
“Hae Rin saw a photo of me and Yuk Hee in the tabloids today.”
“You and Yuk Hee? Was it taken at the airport?”
“Yep,” I said as I flopped onto her bed. “She sounds upset.”
“Well… she was kinda hanging on you. Even we were a little agog when we saw the both of you together.”
“I could hardly shove her off me, right?”
“Hmm… does Yuk Hee know you’re dating Hae Rin?”
“She knows. I told her on the plane.”
“Do you think Yuk Hee likes you?”
“Come on, nuna! We’re just childhood friends. It’s platonic.”
“What if she doesn’t think so?” she said as she hung up her towel on the rack in the bathroom.
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“You know… since you both had such a bond when you were younger, she might want to rekindle the relationship and make it something more.”
“That’s crazy!” I exclaimed.
“That could be what she was thinking. You should know what Hae Rin was like back when she was obsessed with Jae Joong. Why would Yuk Hee be different?”
“I just don’t think it’s possible.”
“Skye… you’re no longer Skye Jang Kyu Jin from Kwangju. You’re Skye of S-Cube now… you shouldn’t be surprised if girls throw themselves at you; even those who used to laugh at you or ignored you when you were a kid,” she explained.
“Keundae… ottoke!” I yelled in frustration as I covered my face with a pillow.
“Stay away from Yuk Hee. That’s the safest route. Don’t allow her to even imagine she has a shot at you.”
“You seem to be speaking from a very personal point of view,” I laughed.
“Does this have anything to do with what Hae Rin did in the past?”
“It does. But I know Hae Rin is true to you now. You’d better be true to her too.”
“I am!” I protested. “What makes you think I’m not?”
“Don’t blame me… people would generally see you as a playboy, even if we don’t.”
“Nuna…” I whined. “How can you say that about me?”
“Just telling you the truth.”
If that was what nuna thought the world thinks of me, I wonder how warped Yuk Hee’s perception of me would be. Do I really need to sever ties with her? Have I really been giving her the wrong signals?
[Hae Rin’s POV]
I hung up the phone and tossed it aside. It’s been another taxing day at work, coupled with me seeing that stupid photo in the tabloids. I’d been holding it in the whole day, waiting for Skye to call before I could ask him about it since he didn’t have the time to call me or answer my calls for the whole day.
I used to think that I could only love 1 person, and that was Jae Joong oppa, but Skye changed everything. I could feel my feelings for him grow deeper and deeper as the days go by, even though we hardly had time to see each other. Still, that would be only part of whole picture of our problems. The main issue wasn’t really our schedule, but the fact that we had to keep our relationship a secret, for me. Skye’s career will not suffer much if he has a girlfriend, but for me, since I was a newcomer, and still building my fan base, I couldn’t afford to reveal my personal relationship with Skye to the world. That, and the fact that my manager, Ryu Ji Tae, will kill me for that.
I owe Ji Tae oppa the world. He was the one who saw the star in me and worked hard to make sure I graduated from SM Academy and secured me a contract with SM. If it wasn’t for his faith in me, I’d still be a trainee, or someone’s backup dancer. I never listened to anyone’s instructions other than his, but this time, I had another instruction to follow… my heart’s.
It’s still unexpected how Skye won over me with his sincerity, and now that I feel that this Yuk Hee girl is threatening our relationship, I finally know how Sierra onni felt when I had designs on Jae Joong oppa. Even if you’re pretty confident that this girl has nothing on you, it’s still hard to sit back and just let it play out or go away. You’d want to do something to stake your claim. How do I do that?
I sat up and slid to the edge of my bed, then I opened my bedside drawer and took out a box, in it was a locket. Skye had given the locket to me on our 100th day.
“Igot mwoya?” I asked him when he thrust the package at me.
He’d asked me to meet him on the rooftop of the studios’ building.
“What do you think? Seunmul, of course,” he laughed. “It’s for you.”
“Yea… what’s inside?” I asked him.
“Aigoo… just open it,” he said. “Like this,” he added as he reached out and ripped open a corner of the package for me.
“Araso… araso…” I laughed and I continued where he’d left off.
The first layer of paper was off, and beneath it was… another layer of wrapper.
“What the…” I said and he laughed.
“It’s to add to the suspense,” he said.
“This is so not environmentally friendly, and a waste of time,” I complained.
“Yaa… where’s your sense of adventure?”
I ripped the next wrapper open to find another layer waiting. The package, at this moment, was the size of a brick. I wondered just how many more layers did I have to go?
“Jang Kyu Jin!” I yelled at him and tossed the package at him. “You can unwrap it, or I’m not accepting it.”
“Hae Rin-ah… how can you do this? It’s our 100th day! Must you spoil the romantic purpose of the gift?”
“You spoilt it by wrapping the gift with a hundred layers of wrapping paper!” I protested. “Shiro… I’m not gonna unwrap it myself,” I said with a stomp, for effect.
“Araso… araso…” he grumbled and started unwrapping the gift himself.
After, literally, a hundred layers of wrapping paper ripped off and strewn all over the floor, he finally handed me a velvet box; the gift itself.
“Komawo,” I smiled sweetly as I accepted it, and I kissed him on the cheek.
“Is that all I get?”
“You were close to getting nothing with that stunt you’d just pulled,” I said as I stuck out my tongue.
I opened the box and inside was a locket. A triangular locket engraved with our names on it, in Hangeul; 규진(Kyu Jin) and 해린(Hae Rin). The idea was a little cheesy, but I loved the locket anyway. Inside was a black and white photo of the two of us that we’d taken sometime back. He was kissing my cheek, his eyes looking at the camera, and I was laughing, my mouth wide open and eyes scrunched closed because he was actually tickling me when the photo was taken.
“I love it,” I said as I turned to him. “Komapda,” I said as I leaned towards him and kissed him on the lips.
I was sitting on a railing and he was standing beside me when I kissed him, and he wrapped his arms around my waist to pull me closer so that I leant on him. I’ll never forget that kiss, even if it wasn’t the first. It was one of the most romantic occasions we’d ever experience.
I lay back on the bed and swung the pendant on its chain like a pendulum, willing it to hypnotize me into forgetting about today, about how much it hurt to imagine Skye would leave me for another girl. She was pretty, and tall… not that I’m not pretty. I know that I’m pretty, but something about her screams uljjang. She could easily get popular if she had the right connections and opportunity. She could easily work her charm on Skye if his love for me isn’t as strong as I thought it was.
I slowly drifted to sleep, a dreamless slumber… the next morning, I woke up feeling more tired than ever, but I had to toughen up and face the day. There’s no room for self-pity when you’re a kasu. You either move on, or get left behind.
[Yuk Hee’s POV]
I roamed the stores alone today, and shopped like crazy to cure my boredom. As I walked past a music store, I saw S-Cube’s new MV playing on the huge LCD screens at the display window. Skye looked hot as usual, and I couldn’t help but wish I could see him again at that moment. He’ll be gone for the week, and by the end of this week, he’d be heading back to Taipei. Maybe I’ll go back with him, and work from there.