The spoon was stuck in the soup without moving. Jo Minjoon's hands and eyes were shaking. He looked at Kaya while still shaking. Kaya avoided his gaze for a bit before developing the courage to look him in the eye. Kaya started to speak.
"I told you. When we meet again, there is something I want to tell you."
"……I didn't expect it to be so sudden."
"I hope you aren't thinking something like the man is supposed to be the one to confess. If you plan on saying something out of style and old-fashioned like that, don't. Or I will kick you in the shins."
Kaya said that while starting to play footsie with him underneath the dining table. It was the moment her foot, which was surrounded by her high heels, slided by his shin. Kaya started to frown.
"Your leg hair feels weird."
"I don't think you should be saying such a thing in the current atmosphere. And me too……"
At Jo Minjoon's serious face, Kaya stretched her finger forward to stop him from talking. Kaya started to speak after pulling and then letting go of his lips.
"If what you are trying to say right now is a response to what I just said, you will need to think hard about it. It is a moment that will remain forever in my life. If the content is just average, I won't forgive you."
"……You expect me to come up with something marvelous right now?"
"Yes. It is your homework. Since you said it, figure it out. However, your time limit is today. If you don't before the end of the day ……"
Kaya's foot once again touched Jo Minjoon's shin. Kaya had a seductive smile on her face as she continued.
"I will punish you." (TL: We all knew Kaya was an S)
"Don't I look weird?"
"I told you, you look pretty."
"I don't want to look pretty. I want to look confident and cool. Not like a kid, not shabby, and somewhat smart."
Kaya spoke as she looked into the mirror. She was wearing a suit she would not normally wear. Black pants with a thin white dress shirt, and on top of that, a black jacket. Kaya looked towards the coordinator next to her with a worried expression.
"Is this too much? Is the one piece from earlier better?"
"Kaya, like I said. No matter what you wear, your dad will look at you fondly. In the first place, why does the clothes matter? The fact that you are going to meet him is what matters."
"Doesn't seem like something the coordinator should be saying."
"I don't know. Even a coordinator might say such a thing after you change your outfit ten times."
The coordinator, Marilyn, sighed as she spoke. Jo Minjoon looked towards her with an apologetic expression.
"I'm sorry for calling you for a personal issue……"
Kaya's personal life is work to me. You don't need to worry about it. Let Kaya worry by herself for a bit. Let's take care of you first, Minjoon-ssi. You can't go wearing that outfit."
(TL: Yes, come in to the dressing room with me Minjoon. I will show you things Kaya has never shown you before…)
Jo Minjoon was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Although he wasn't heading to a matchmaker or anything like that, it was not appropriate attire to go meet Kaya's biological father. Marilyn handed a white t-shirt with a casual beige sport coat and nodded her head.
"Rather than looking too stiff, this semi-formal outfit should be better. I'm sure he is very nervous as well."
"Thank you. But you even have men's clothing."
"I stole Kaya's agent's clothes. Thankfully, the two of you are the same size."
It was hard to determine whether she was joking or not. Jo Minjoon smiled awkwardly before taking the clothes and heading into the room. When he came out after changing, Kaya must have decided to go with the formal outfit in the end. Her curly hair that was let down was flowing against her shoulders and back, and her makeup was clean and neat. Her smokey makeup that she was extremely stubborn about was not there today. She was wearing a mask, but it fit her really well, as if she was wearing it for fashion. Jo Minjoon smiled brightly as he spoke. (TL: The type of mask that goes over your mouth.)
"You look pretty."
Kaya answered as if that was obvious and started to exit the room. He was worried since they didn't have a car, but it was a useless worry. Before they could head out of the hotel, a van gently stopped in front of them.
"Get in. Kaya, Minjoon. I will take you there."
"What's going on? You're acting very nice."
"I am always nice."
"……I won't say anything today. Just talking makes me lose energy."
She must be very nervous about the approaching meeting. On their way to the arranged meeting location, Kaya held on tightly to Minjoon's hand without letting go. Kaya asked in a nervous voice.
"What was I planning on saying first? Who do you think you are? No, that was the second line. Don't think I came here because I wanted to see you. That was it. ……But I think that is a bit weird. Doesn't it sound like I am actually saying I came here because I wanted to see him?"
"Just say whatever you want, Kaya."
"I'm not much a talker. I already told you. If I just say whatever is on my mind, I will end up stumbling on my words. I don't want to show him that I can't even speak correctly."
"You're pretty even if you stumble on your words. I'm sure you'll seem that way in your dad's eyes too."
As soon as Jo Minjoon finished talking, they heard a weird coughing noise from the driver's seat. Agent Jang could not stop coughing for a while, as if he had spit in his nose. Kaya glared at him before asking.
"What. What is the problem?"
"Nothing. Martin told me the two of you were extremely cheesy, but I didn't know it would be this much."
"Don't make fun of my potential boyfriend. I'll get angry."
"Potential boyfriend? What kind of ambiguous relationship is that? Potential husband maybe."
"Since Minjoon has yet to respond to my confession, I can't call him my boyfriend just yet. And potential husband isn't bad either. Since I plan on marrying Minjoon."
Hearing that, it was Minjoon who coughed this time. It was louder and longer than Jang's cough. At the end of his cough, Kaya glared at him as she asked.
"Why are you so surprised?"
"……You, it's because you keep saying unexpected things."
"Why is it unexpected? You are dating me without thinking about marriage?"
"That's not what I'm saying ……"
"I will marry you. I told you. Korea is dangerous. I even posted a question online. Many people think it is safe in korea, but the reality is that it is really dangerous. Just live in the US with me."
Jo Minjoon's face turned red as he just opened and closed his mouth. Just thinking about what Jang's face would be like in the driver's seat made him feel really hot. At that moment, the car stopped. Jang looked back and started to speak.
"Time to get out. We are here."
"Jang, you're not coming too, are you?"
"Why would I go there? Have fun."
As Jo Minjoon got out of the car, he started to speak.
"Jang seems like a nice person."
"Nice person my ass. He does whatever he can to make me work even a little more. Terrible….."
Kaya stopped talking. Her two eyes headed towards the side of the street and stopped moving. It was almost as if time had stopped. Jo Minjoon followed after Kaya's gaze. Kaya was looking at a large luxury sedan down the street.
Seeing the white man open the door and get out, Jo Minjoon realized it. He was Kaya's father. He had the same black hair and blue eyes. The thing that made him the most nervous was ……
'Just the atmosphere around him feels …… luxurious.'
It wasn't just the car or the clothes he was wearing. He himself seemed to be giving off a fancy vibe. It seemed normal for Kaya to be nervous. Orange County. Hearing that he was living in that fancy neighborhood, she knew he didn't have a difficult life …… but she didn't expect he would appear as such a fancy looking individual.
That was also not the only reason Kaya was anxious. She expected that she would meet her father once she went inside the cafe. She never even thought about coincidentally meeting outside like this.
Kaya's father, Bruce Croft, was also anxious. He hesitated for a bit before heading towards Kaya and opening up his arms. Kaya stepped backwards before fiercely opening her eyes.
"Don't come here."
"Don't even pretend to be sorry. Let's go in. I have no thoughts of giving you a hug. I didn't come here for such a thing."
She was pretending to be tough as she talked, but Jo Minjoon could feel the shaking in the hand he was holding. Was it because she was angry, or because she was scared? All he could do for her right now was to tightly hold her hand.
Even after entering the cafe, the two could not easily start talking. Jo Minjoon debated for a bit whether he should start the conversation. But if he tried to make it less awkward when they haven't even unraveled the old score they had, it might make Kaya's mind more of a mess.
In the end, the first to talk was Bruce. He slowly started to speak.
"You look similar to your younger sister."
"……That is what you have to say after meeting your daughter for the first time after 20, no 18 years? You look like your younger sister? Are you trying to emphasize the fact that I am related to you by blood?"
"I'm sorry. I understand your anger as well. I practiced what to say to you many times ……but actually seeing you like this, I only seem to be able to say stupid stuff.
It definitely didn't feel fake. Each and every one of his words seemed to be full of sorrow that even Jo Minjoon, who he was not directing the words to, was starting to feel sad. Of course Kaya also felt that way. But she hated it. She wanted him to be someone terrible. Since he left her alone for the last 18 years, she wanted him to be someone she wouldn't feel bad about pouring out all of the grudges she had in her heart……
Would she really be happy if that was the case?
She could not answer that question. As she placed that frustration into her voice, her voice naturally started to get louder.
"Why did you disappear? Why were you not by our side? I really thought you would not be much of a person. But I was wrong. The person in front of me would seem like a successful CEO no matter who is looking at him."
"Do you know how our family lived without you? Everyday, mom was sad because her health was getting worse, and I had to spend every day watching my mom be that way. When my friends were holding hands with their dads and having fun, I lived while picking out spoiled fruit."
"How could you do that? Your daughter. Your family. How could you throw them away?"
Maybe it was a good thing that she had a cold. If not, she might have been screaming at the top of her lungs. The thing that made her the most angry though……
"At that time, I was being chased by my debts. Rather than protecting you and your mother, I would only have hurt you more. I hope you don't take this as an excuse. I know I am a terrible father. It was because I was lacking that I made you grow up without a dad. I know nothing can defend that decision."
"But I never threw you away. I always thought about and missed you. I promised myself that I would go look for you once I was successful, and worked hard like my life depended on it. However……looking back at it now, I guess that was also a selfish thought process."
The thing that made her the most angry was that all of Bruce's answered seemed very mature …… and that each of his situations had reasons you had to accept.
She hated it. She wanted to shout more. She wanted to be more angry. However, Bruce was a much better person than she imagined for her to do that.
"How hard your mom must have worked, I can understand by meeting you. You grew up really well. That makes me feel even more sorry. I'm sorry I could not be by your side. I'm sorry for making you live without knowing who your dad is."
But Kaya's gaze did not get any softer. She could not let it become gentle. For 18 years, she lived while longing for her dad she never got to meet. She thought about him, and she loved the dad in her mind. Maybe that was why she was feeling more hurt and more upset. At that moment, Kaya was really thankful for the mask on her face. The mask will help hide her terrible facial expression.
Kaya's baptism of questions did not end there. She repeated the same questions at times, and also brought up the sorrow she had for not being able to take part in parent-children activities that she couldn't even remember. As for Bruce, he only had responses for everything that made you think he was a good person.
Bruce was a good person. Better than she thought he would be. Jo Minjoon hugged Kaya's shoulder as he started to speak.
"Kaya. Calm your heart and see the person in front of you. At least in my eyes, your dad is a good person. Even better than I hoped for."
"……Whose side are you really on?"
"Of course I'm on your side. RIght now, I'm saying this as someone on your side. It is hard to hate someone. Your father……let's understand where he is coming from."
Truthfully speaking, by the time Jo Minjoon said that, Kaya had already accepted him. Although Bruce was not a good dad, he wasn't a bad person. And she understood his situation.
Kaya lowered the mask from her mouth. To Bruce, that action made it seem like Kaya was lowering the wall that was between the two of them.
"……Fine. I'll accept it. I'll try to understand where you are coming from. I'm not saying I can completely forgive you ……but I won't blame you anymore. However, I have a request."
"Tell me whatever it is. If it is something I can do, I will do anything. What is it?"
"There's something ……that I've always been envious of. The people going to restaurants. No, families going to restaurants. Mom and my younger sister will come to LA soon. At that time, have dinner with us. With my family …… I want to have a meal with my family."
"……Okay. Let's do that. I will make sure to be there. Call me whenever."
To be with Kaya's mom should be quite a burdensome request for him, but he did not reject it. Kaya stood up from her seat as she spoke.
"Hmm? Ah, I'm sorry. I took too much of your time."
"No, that's not it. Stand up."
Bruce stood up with a confused expression on his face. Kaya bit her lips for a second before slowly approaching him and giving him a hug. As Bruce stood there frozen in shock, Kaya whispered in a quiet voice.
"……Now I think I can give you a hug, dad."
After sending Bruce back, Kaya and Jo Minjoon just quietly sat in the cafe where they shared a conversation with him. They didn't need any special type of conversation. Every so often, Kaya would randomly start laughing, then her nose would turn red and she would start to sniffle, and at times she would cry a bunch as well. Every time that happened, Jo Minjoon patted her shoulder and held her hand. After a long while, Kaya opened her mouth.
"……Thank you. For being here."
"I'm your boyfriend."
"You haven't completed my homework yet. You are just a potential. Potential."
"That homework. If it is right now, I think I can take care of it."
At those words, Kaya looked towards Jo Minjoon. Her red eyes and nose. It was a face that you just wanted to hug. She sniffled before asking.
"Are you confident? You need to prepare a marvelous response."
"The foundation for a speech is the heart."
"Then try me. If the quality is good, I'll remove the potential tag."
Jo Minjoon smiled before focusing on Kaya. At his gaze, Kaya rolled her eyes as if she was nervous, but she quickly looked back at Minjoon with a stubborn gaze, as if she did not want to avoid his gaze.
It was at that moment. Jo Minjoon slowly leaned his head in. Kaya nervously lifted up the mask from underneath her lips and shook her head.
"No. I think I know what you are about to do, but no. You'll catch the ……"
Kaya did not say anything else. Jo Minjoon had stealthily placed his lips on top of the mask. Their hot breaths revolved around the thin piece of fabric. That piece of fabric was between them, but that soft feeling of each other's lips actually felt really clear.
Kaya's eyes turned extremely round and were shaking like those of a shocked rabbit. Jo Minjoon lifted up his hand and caressed Kaya's face. Her mask was lowered, and their breaths warmed each other's lips. Jo Minjoon started to speak.
"I've already caught the cold."
Their shadows ……came together and overlapped."
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
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