"……Stop saying such cheesy things. It's embarrassing."
"You're wearing a mask and sunglasses anyways. You don't even need to care about people's gazes."
"But they already know it is me."
"How would they know?"
"Is there anybody else you would be holding hands with other than me?"
There wasn't anybody else. Jo Minjoon just gazed at Kaya. At that moment, Kaya was extremely thankful for her sunglasses and mask. If she was not hiding behind them, she was not confident that she could casually respond to that gaze. Maybe it was because of the cold, but the hand that Jo Minjoon was holding onto felt like it was boiling. Minjoon started to speak.
"Why did you stop contacting me?"
"Is it because of that thing you mentioned last time? That there was something that came up?"
Kaya did not respond to Minjoon's question. He really didn't even need to ask. The only reason Kaya would avoid his attempts to contact her would be because of that. Kaya quickly put her right hand that Minjoon was not holding onto, inside her hoodie. Jo Minjoon asked in a worried tone.
"You're cold right? Should we go somewhere warm?"
"……Hey. Today's highest temperature is 27 degrees." (TL: That would be 80 degrees Fahrenheit)
Jo Minjoon responded with a silly look on his face.
Regardless of the gazes and the smartphones faced towards them, the two of them casually walked as if there was nobody else. It was only after leaving the airport that they realized that they didn't really have anywhere to go. Jo Minjoon asked with a perplexed expression.
"Where should we go?"
"What? You came here without even figuring out where to go?"
"I didn't realize I would get to spend time with you like this. But are you feeling okay? Fever……. you seem to have a slight fever."
Jo Minjoon put his hand on her forehead and neck before asking in a worried tone. Kaya responded like she couldn't believe him.
"I understand the forehead, but aren't you being too forward by touching my neck?"
"I don't know. I remember that someone kissed my neck last time."
"What? Which bitch …… oh, it was me."
Kaya had a frown for a moment before remembering what happened in Florence and started to mumble in a silly voice.
Jo Minjoon laughed as he started to speak.
"So, what do you want to do? Do you want to rest? Or do you want to go sightseeing?"
"I'm hungry. I want to eat."
"Oh, there is a place that comes to mind. Kaya, do you like a fun place or a fancy place?"
Kaya took off her sunglasses. Her eyes that had thick smoky makeup were glaring at him.
"If you keep making fun of me, don't blame me for hitting you."
"And the place you bring me to is a hot dog place?"
"You said you were hungry. Plus, you'll be surprised when you try it. It is a well-known store in LA."
The place Minjoon took Kaya to was a single story store located downtown (TL: That they magically traveled to without a car or anything…). In addition to the hot dog, they were famous for their Belgian French fries and Belgian beer……but the most unique was the hot dog. Topping, sauce, sausage. You could pick from a variety of those three items, but their greatest weapon in this store was the sausage. Kaya was mumbling in an angry voice.
"Jalapeno sausage, Italian Vegetarian sausage, apple sausage, mango sausage, ……snake meat sausage? What the heck is this place?"
"Isn't it fun? I don't think I can stop coming here until I try every one of their different sausages."
"……You were planning on bringing me here regardless of whether I said a fun place or a fancy place, weren't you?"
Jo Minjoon turned his head away in guilt. After ordering, he grabbed Kaya's hand and headed towards the end of the bar. It was the place that would get the least attention from other people. He couldn't continue to hold her hand after sitting down so he slowly let go. Seeing him let go of her hand, Kaya started to speak.
"You see quite used to doing this. Did you have a lot of prior experience?"
"No. I've never done this before."
'You've never dated before?"
Jo Minjoon thought about it for a second. The thirty year old Jo Minjoon did have experience. But the current Jo Minjoon did not. He didn't know what the correct answer should be. However, the fact that he could not answer right away made Kaya's eyes turn sharp.
"So you DO have experience. Was she pretty?"
"……No, I don't have experience."
"Now you're even lying to me. I thought you said you wouldn't lie to me?"
"Really. I don't have any. …… In the first place, why do I have to defend myself about this?"
"You really don't know why?"
"Yes. I'm asking because I don't know."
At Jo Minjoon's genuine response, Kaya stared at him with a doubting look. It was at that moment. A bald white man covered in tattoos, with arms the size of a woman's thigh, approached them with a plate of hot dogs, French fries, and sauce. He looked towards Jo Minjoon and started to speak. Compared to his rough appearance, his voice was quite high pitched.
"You came again. Minjoon. I saw the video after you came by last time. Absolute taste. Now that I think about it, you could probably correctly guess the ingredients in these toppings and sauces."
"Should I not eat it?"
"Of course not. What kind of person would take a dish away from a customer because they have a sensitive tongue? I'll be happy if you enjoy the food. Ah, the same for your girlfriend. Please enjoy your time here."
He didn't seem to recognize Kaya. He might actually not know who she was. Unless you enjoyed watching TV, even if it was not Kaya and it was some famous Hollywood actor, you still wouldn't recognize them. The only reason he learned that Minjoon had absolute taste was after listening to the other customers and their stories.
"……He doesn't recognize me."
"Are you disappointed?"
"No, it's actually pretty nice. He's treating me just like a regular customer. These days, no matter where i go, people know that I'm Kaya Lotus ……it's quite tiring. Plus, they're looking for the Kaya Lotus they saw on the broadcast, and not the real Kaya Lotus."
Kaya lowered her mask and took a bite of her hot dog. She had ordered an Apple Chicken sausage, which was made with chicken that was marinated in apple sauce. On top of the sausage was a sauce made of cinnamon and apple jam, with bacon bits and onion on top of that. (TL: Sounds like a weird apple pie hot dog.)
Jo Minjoon's was made with lamb meat and chipotle chili peppers, with diced bell pepper grilled with truffle oil. The moment Minjoon was about to take a bite, Kaya's eyes lit up as if she suddenly remembered.
"Anyways, let's continue what we were talking about. You said you were asking because you don't know?"
Instead of responding, Minjoon took a big bite of the hot dog. Kaya, who was staring at him, suddenly leaned forward, before taking a bite from the other side of Minjoon's hot dog.
The crispy bread starting to fold, and the white teeth that were visible through her thin lips. Watching those teeth break the casing of the sausage seemed to move in slow motion. Every time her tongue that was wet with saliva became visible, he felt guilty, as if he was stealing a look at something erotic.
He couldn't determine whether she was really eating slowly or it just felt that way because he was nervous. Kaya looked at him and started to speak.
"Hmph. I'll let you off since the hot dog is good."
"You'll get me sick."
"If you were afraid of that, you shouldn't have held my hand."
"You can wash your hands."
"……Oh so you calculated all of that beforehand, I see."
Kaya answered in a sassy voice. Jo Minjoon let out a sigh before leaning his head in to the hot dog in Kaya's hand and took a bite. He ate from the same spot she had eaten from. Of course, no messages popped up to let him know something like 'Kaya's saliva is an ingredient!" (TL: As the Koreans would call it, an indirect kiss.)
Jo Minjoon looked at Kaya. Kaya looked back with a slightly nervous expression. He started to speak.
"There. Now I'll catch a cold. Thanks to a certain someone."
"……You said it'll be fine if I took care of you."
"What about you? Will you take care of me?"
"If you want me to."
Kaya started to smile at Minjoon's response. For a moment, the two of them continued to eat in silence. As they were almost done eating their hot dogs, Kaya slowly started to speak.
"What if. Hypothetically speaking. What if I end up doing something really wrong to you ……then what will you do?"
"I don't understand what you mean by what will you do?"
"Will you see me again? Could you forgive me?"
He couldn't figure out why she was asking such a question. There shouldn't be anything that she should be guilty of doing to him. Jo Minjoon quietly gazed at Kaya for a bit. The makeup on her eyes were clear, but her eyes themselves were cloudy with a worry he couldn't figure out. Jo Minjoon looked directly into her eyes as he answered.
"Based on what happened, I may or may not be able to forgive you. But I'm sure I would see you again."
"I don't think I need to even answer that."
"……Yes, that's true."
With that, Kaya stopped talking again. Jo Minjoon picked up a French fry the size of a finger and dipped it in whole grain mustard before putting it in his mouth. It was surprisingly spicy. He dipped another French fry in the sauce before holding it out to Kaya. Kaya looked at the French fry for a moment before opening her mouth like a baby bird.
The conversation started back up once she finished chewing and swallowing the fry. Kaya just made it sound like it was nothing.
"I was contacted by my dad."
Jo Minjoon's face became stiff for a moment. He knew a bit about Kaya's dad. He was quite a violent person. He ran away after getting Jemma pregnant. Maybe she was able to tell what he was thinking based on his expression, but Kaya quickly continued.
"Not that dad. My …… biological father."
"Yes. He contacted me. Said he wanted to see me."
Jo Minjoon could not determine what he should say. There was nothing Minjoon knew about her biological father. Maybe they never met in real life in his previous life, or it was never covered as a story. It could even be that he just never saw the news article……
'It's not the time to think like this.'
"What else did he say?"
The important thing was the present. Kaya did not want to hear from the weird person from the future, but from the Jo Minjoon she knew. Kaya hesitated before answering.
"He said he didn't want anything …… like money. All he wanted from me was a bit of time to meet and chat."
Jo Minjoon quietly looked towards Kaya. He thought he could tell why she was avoiding him for so long. She wanted to overcome it on her own, without relying on him. However, she was not telling him this because she gave up doing it on her own. Rather, it was probably because she felt like she overcame it in some way. If she didn't find a way to overcome it, she would probably never tell him this story. She would just end up taking it to her grave.
He cautiousness grabbed onto Kaya's hand. Kaya made eye contact with a burnt french fry before talking.
"At first, I didn't want to meet with him. I waited almost twenty years, but he thinks he could just meet with me that easily? Thinking like that made me angry."
"……But you still want to meet him."
Kaya started to frown. That frown was full of sorrow and nostalgia, it was a heart wavering with happiness, and an all out attempt to at least hold on to her pride.
"I really really hate him. How could I not? To call someone who left his daughter and disappeared my father …..there is no way I would want to see him. After everything my mom went through to raise me. To come back after all this time and say he wants to see me because we share some blood……it makes the whole situation seem too light. It's too weird."
"It's not weird."
"In the end no matter how much you want to reject it ……you are your father's daughter. Of course I also understand where you are coming from. The final decision is yours to make alone. However, Kaya. I just hope that you don't end up regretting your decision."
Those words seem to have reached deep into her heart. She looked like she was contemplating for a bit before she picked up her smartphone as if she had made up her mind. She then immediately made a call to her agent.
"Yes, it's me. Do I have any plans tomorrow? Great. I must meet my father. Tell him to come to LA by tomorrow. No, don't give him a plane ticket. If he really wants to see me, I'm sure he'll find a way to get here. Yes. Thank you."
"……Can you just make an impulse decision like that?"
Seeing Kaya say a bunch of things before hanging up, Jo Minjoon asked with a worried expression. He was worried that she was overdoing it. Kaya slowly shook her head as she bit her lips. She looked towards Minjoon with teary eyes.
"If I don't decide now, I will just continue to push it back. Yes. I might even swear at him when I meet him. I'm confident that I could spit out all types of terrible things that exist in the world. I'm not confident at all that I would be able to understand him. Because of my mom, I have never even missed my dad. The one responsible for that is completely him. The pain from being responsible for that, I have no confidence that I could forgive him. But I must meet him."
"You don't need to forgive him. You don't need to understand him either. Swearing? Swear all you want. If you want, I'll be right there with you."
Jo Minjoon whispered to her with a voice full of pity. Seeing Minjoon like that, Kaya had a sad smile on her face.
"……Okay. You said so earlier too. That you'll take care of me."
Jo Minjoon just silently smiled. Kaya could see the burn mark left on Minjoon's neck. Gazing at that burn mark, Kaya slowly started to speak.
"I am being completely innocent and pure as I'm saying this. So take it as a little boy would."
"……What is it?"
"Your promise to take care of me, please keep it. I have a cold right now."
"Sure. But what does this have to do with innocent and pure?"
"I want someone to be with me until the moment I meet my dad. No, I want you to be by my side."
Kaya continued to speak.
"……Tonight, will you stay with me?"
This whole innuendo filled chapter with that ending! OMG!
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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