Ella’s eyes were full of betrayal. Jo Minjoon, who had been eavesdropping on the conversation from the side let out an awkward laugh while looking at Ella. Ella turned red as if she was about to cry, and after trying hard not to cry, just silently started to hug Lisa. As if saying ‘I can’t do anything about this child,’ Lisa smiled brightly as she pinched Ella’s cheek.
“Don’t worry. That mister is a different fairy, Tinkerbell is someone else.”
A mother is truly different with her child. The expression she had been showing them was completely different than the one she showed Ella. They thought she was a stiff and difficult person, but her expression as she consoled Ella was gentle and warm.
The atmosphere between the two of them lessened the tension in the room. Rachel whispered in a quiet voice.
“Jack. At least you still have a family to make you feel warm inside.”
“It’s the last treasure I have left.”
“Should we start our conversation?”
Jack did not answer. Rachel accepted that as his silent approval and slowly started to head towards Lisa. Lisa slowly started to speak.
“I can predict what you are going to say to me.”
“……I assume I will say exactly what you are thinking. But first, I want to start with an apology. Could you accept my apology?”
“You have no reason to apologize to me. The person you treated cruelly was my father, not me. Of course, it would be a lie to say there is no hatred in my mind about you; what kind of daughter could look kindly towards someone who was cruel to her father?”
It was a calm and composed voice, however, the emotions that needed to come out were all present. Rachel lowered her gaze as if she had nothing to say, and ended up making eye contact with Ella. Ella stared at Rachel with a confused expression before starting to smile. Ella’s smile comforted Rachel and even gave her a bit of courage, along with some shamelessness.
Rachel started to speak.
“Yes, I’m sure you cannot look kindly. Then I guess it’ll be difficult for you to listen to my proposal that I’m about to share with you kindly either.”
“Yes. I don’t want to work in your kitchen. However, that is not because of my personal feelings, Rachel. How could I trust you? You’ve already given up on a kitchen once. I am a mother. I don’t want to pour any of my time to someone who may disappear at any point.”
Each and every one of Lisa’s words could not be refuted. Standing in front of Rachel who could not respond, Lisa looked towards Jo Minjoon.
“Earlier, you talked about sincerity. My father was sincere just like you. How can you be confident that she won’t throw you away just like she did to my father?”
“……I trust my teacher.”
“I’m sure you do. You haven’t been hurt yet. However, I’m not sure. I have a hard time believing.”
Lisa wasn’t just speaking based on her emotions. She was just talking about the past and present. This was the reason Rachel could not say anything about it. How could she, when she had already betrayed them once.
That is why, from the beginning, there could only be one person to convince Lisa. Jack started to speak. The man who had been waiting for ten years started to speak.
“Lisa. Once…..how about you give her one chance?”
“……Dad. Do you know what you are saying right now? It’s been ten years. You want to trust s
omeone after one day when they have been betraying that trust for ten years?”
“I’m not saying I will trust her. It’s just giving her a chance. A chance to clean her regret away. For Rachel, as well as for myself.”
For myself. Even Lisa could not help but get weak at those words. Jack let out a sigh.
“Of course, if you say no, there’s nothing to be done. It’s just that I am getting greedy as a father. It’s not that I’m expecting you to fulfill the dream that I could not achieve. I know you are running this store very well. However, I hope that you could live more peacefully and more abundantly. And if Rachel, this terrible person, does not run away with her tail between her legs again……this will end up being a great opportunity for you.”
“It’ll be a great opportunity for all of us, Lisa. We ate some of the bread you had out there. You are as talented as your father.”
Lisa bit her lower lip as she looked down at Ella. She started to rub Ella’s chin as she started to speak.
“I cannot close this store. The customers will be disappointed, but more importantly, the thing that is most important to me is having a stable life.”
“……Yes. Of course. I understand.”
Rachel nodded her head with a disappointed expression. At that point, Lisa was hesitating before she continued.
“At dawn, I need to bake bread. Once it becomes breakfast time, it should become easier to handle. If it is only lunch and dinner, I should be able to go there. You won’t be open in the morning right?”
Rachel started to smile with a face that looked like it was about to cry.
“Of course not.”
Anderson left with the car to take Amelia to the restaurant, leaving Rachel and Jo Minjoon at the bread store. Rachel looked like she still had a lot to talk about, but Jo Minjoon could not easily leave. The reason was simple.
“Our Ella is really drawn to Mr. fairy.”
Jack smiled gently as he looked at Ella. Ella started to smile widely while nodding her head. It was like any other good grandfather-granddaughter relationship. If there was one issue, it would be where Ella was sitting. She was not sitting on a chair. She was sitting on someone’s legs. It wasn’t Lisa’s legs nor Jack’s legs but Jo Minjoon’s legs.
Maybe her childish mind really believed Jo Minjoon to be a fairy, but Ella did not seem to think about leaving Jo Minjoon’s side. At the same time, she didn’t seem to have the courage to talk to him and just sat there playing with the large lemon pound cake in her hands. (TL: Poor Amelia could have eaten that pound cake.)
‘……To be okay sitting on his legs but yet having a hard time striking up a conversation.’
Children’s minds were always complicated in weird places. Ella tore off a bit of the pound cake and put it in front of Jo Minjoon’s mouth. Jo Minjoon smiled on reflex and looked at Ella.
“Are you giving it to me to eat?”
Ella nodded her head and waved the cake in her hand. Jo Minjoon received that cake like a baby bird and started to eat it. Ella laughed shyly before turning her head and looking at Lisa. Jo Minjoon swallowed the cake before asking.
“Is Ella usually this shy?”
“It’s normal for her to be shy. You are the fairy-nim of legends.”
“Ella. Do I seem like a fairy?”
Ella twisted her body before vigorously nodding her head. Her hair fluttering around tickled his arm. That was the beginning. Ella started to slowly ask questions. What does Peter Pan look like? Have you met Cinderella? Where is the mirror that tells you who the prettiest person in the world is? Every time she asked a question, Jo Minjoon had to become a fairy tale author and come up with a story.
Rachel looked at the two of them before whispering to Jack.
“I envy you. You have such a wonderful family.”
“Seems like you plan on treating that young man like a family member.”
Rachel calmly looked at Jo Minjoon after listening to Jack’s words. Family. It was a word she had not spoken in a long time. Rachel calmly answered.
“I’m thankful. He’s someone who can achieve my dream, no, our dream.”
“I thought that there were no dreams that someone else could achieve for you, but now it is difficult to say that since in some aspect, Lisa is fulfilling my dream.”
“Isn’t that the life of old folks like us? Putting our hopes in the next generation.”
Jack had a disgruntled expression and tried to speak, but could not retort.
Ella and Jo Minjoon’s discussion had at some point moved to Santa Claus. Jo Minjoon asked Ella.
“So Ella, are you confident that you’ll be receiving a present this Christmas?”
“Yes. Uh, ah……but, uh……does Santa Claus really not give you a present if you cry?”
“Hmm. If you throw a tantrum and cry, you’ll be a bad girl, so he won’t give you a present. However, if you cry for a different reason, wouldn’t it be okay? Like if you were to cry because you got hurt, for example.”
“Uh……last time, our neighbor Matilda was showing off that she went on a trip with her dad. I cried because I wanted to see my dad. Am I a bad girl?”
Jo Minjoon looked towards Lisa, whose face had become stoic. Jo Minjoon consoled Ella with a gentle voice.
“You are not a bad girl. So don’t worry. Santa Claus will definitely give you a present.”
“Of course. That’s why you need to listen to your mommy and be a good girl.”
“If I do that, can Santa Claus bring daddy here?”
Ella blinked her large, teary eyes as she asked. To have to mix in some lies in front of those innocent eyes, it hurt Jo Minjoon’s heart. Jo Minjoon removed the crumbs on Ella’s cheek as he answered.
“I’m not so sure about about. But instead, this mister can be Ella’s uncle.”
“What is an uncle?”
“Umm……just think of it as a mister who you are close to. The type of mister who gives Ella whatever she asks for and listens to Ella’s worries.”
“……Ella. Stop bothering the mister and come over here. Mommy will warm up some milk for you.”
Ella followed Lisa into the house. Jack let out a sigh before clenching his fist.”
“I don’t know what kind of punk her dad is, but the day he ends up in my hands will be the day he dies.”
The conversation continued for a little longer before Anderson returned and picked them up. Rachel seemed to have a lot to think about as she did not say anything, and Jo Minjoon was the same way. Ella was pure and cute, but it was because she was that way that he was feeling sad.
Kaya had grown up in a similar situation to Ella. Realistically, she grew up in a worse situation. Ella’s family did not have any financial issues, while Kaya had to help her mom at the market and interact with rough adults while taking care of her sick younger sister.
Maybe that was why his heart was hurting so much looking at Ella. Kaya must have had some similar pains during her childhood. Jo Minjoon looked at his smartphone. The messages he sent to Kaya a few days ago still had not been read.
‘Will Kaya end up meeting her dad again?’
He did not know. Whether it didn’t happen, or it did happen but there were no articles about it, or maybe he just did not see any information about it. At least in his memory, there was nothing relating to Kaya’s dad. Jo Minjoon had an expression on his face as if he was trying to solve a difficult math problem and leaned his head on the headrest. Anderson peeked at him before speaking.
“Why do you have such a dark expression. You said it went well.”
“It did go well. We ended up with a pâtissier.”
“It’s just so sad. Ella’s situation. Lisa’s as well. It even made me feel bitter for them. It also made me think of Kaya.”
Anderson nodded his head as if he understood. Jo Minjoon turned his gaze outside the window. Coincidentally, a married couple who were taking a walk while pushing a stroller caught his eyes. Looking at them, Jo Minjoon started to mutter in a quiet voice.
“If I had a cute daughter like Ella, I would definitely not leave her.”
“Seems like you really liked that little girl.”
“Rather than liking her……she just keeps remaining on my mind.”
“Don’t think too much about other people’s situations. Do you know how many single parent families are in California? Actually, just in Venice? If you worry about everything, it’ll just make your life difficult.”
“They are not just strangers anymore. They are part of our kitchen family.”
“I got nothing to say when you put it that way.”
With that, the noise of the engine was the only thing that could be heard once again. The first person to start talking again over that noise was Rachel.
“Our family will continue to grow. Minjoon. Anderson. As demi chefs, you must take good care of the new people we bring in. Of course, you also have to listen well to the sous chefs we will hire as well.”
“We will keep that in mind.”
Rachel, who was about to say something else, closed her mouth. The car soon arrived in front of Rose Island. This also meant that they were visible once more to the crowd gathered in front of the restaurant.
Their eyes were shining brightly across the dark tinted windows. Anderson lifted a pair of thick sunglasses that might belong to a secret service agent and asked.
“Do you need a pair?”
“No. I guess it’s about time we give them the scoop they’ve been waiting for.”
Once she finished speaking, Rachel opened her car door. As Jo Minjoon and Anderson abruptly started to follow after her, Rachel started to slowly head towards the crowd. Flashes started to go off, and a multitude of questions, as well as fanfare and the sound of clapping started to spread around them.
All the noise quieted down once Rachel started to speak. Jo Minjoon and Anderson who were watching her were in awe. Maybe it was because she was used to this type of situation. Even though she was in front of a lot of people, Rachel’s voice was strong and did not shake. It was loud enough to reach every person’s ear.
“I’m sure each of you may have a different reason for being here. Some of you just came to see the main store of Rose Island with your own eyes, and some of you want to be a part of my kitchen. And I’m sure some of you are here to get an interview with me.”
“When will Rose Island reopen?”
“Please take me as a chef! I will work hard even as a station chef!”
“Right now, I will be sharing two confirmed facts with all of you. First.”
Rachel stopped breathing for a second and looked behind her. She was looking at Rose Island. The faintness in her eyes turned into fiery passion in a split second. A booming voice started to come out.
“I plan on reopening Rose Island’s main store. The date is set for November 20th, and it will not be changing. Second. To get the best chefs in our kitchen, there will be a public audition. The available positions are demi chef, and prep cook, as well as apprentice. The audition will be on August 20th, exactly 3 months before the opening date. This public audition will be harsher than any other auditions. For that, the judges for the audition will include……”
Rachel slightly turned her head. The moment her eyes were about to reach Jo Minjoon, she started to speak loudly again.
“My disciples, Minjoon and Anderson.”
< Proclamation (1) > End