“You… You… Ugh!”
Kaya tried to say something as she pointed at Minjoon, but her eyes watered up again from the second impact . Minjoon grinned and wiped the tears off of her eyes . Kaya smacked his hand away before quickly putting her hand over her nose again .
“Oh, is snot coming out? Do you need a tissue?”
“…I’ll kill you . ”
“It’s nothing compared to the habanero in the morning, you know? I thought my tongue was going to go . ”
“But you started it…!”
“Who takes revenge on other people with food, though? That’s cheating . ”
“Would you rather I use my fists?”
“Can’t hurt as much as the habanero . ”
Kaya glared at Minjoon . She muttered under her breath .
“Don’t think this is over yet . ”
“You sound like a third rate villain . ”
“You’re the villain here, you know? Let go, I’m not gonna stay with you anymore . ”
Kaya walked over to Chloe . Ella, who had been next to Chloe all this time, made a frightened face . Kaya looked at Ella with an annoyed look .
“Why do you always look like that when I come by?”
“Miss Chloe! That evil witch is trying to scare me!”
“Ella, you can’t call people things like that . ”
Chloe kneeled down to Ella’s height and waved her finger . Ella looked down at the floor guiltily in her red Christmas dress .
“Not to me, to Kaya . ”
Ella paused for a second and turned to Kaya . She looked like she really didn’t want to say sorry . Kaya sighed, and put her hand on Chloe’s shoulder .
“Chloe, it’s fine . ”
“No, Kaya . Ella’s going to apologize . Right Ella? You’re kind, after all . ”
Ella hesitated for a second, but eventually came to hug Kaya’s waist .
“…Sorry . ”
Kaya looked down at the girl . She couldn’t see Ella’s face since the girl had buried her face, but just that head of hers was almost unbearably adorable . Kaya sighed and started petting Ella’s head .
“It’s fine . ”
The people around them clapped . Kaya blushed, making Chloe smile .
“Hey Kaya, can you hug Ella back?”
“…Why are you trying to make this bigger than it already is?”
“Iunno, there should at least be one nice thing going on for Christmas, no?”
Why did Chloe’s smile look so evil today? Ella separated from Kaya to reluctantly open her arms .
“You can hug me . Just today . ”
“…Thanks so much . Really . ”
Kaya ended up hugging the girl in the end, though . After all, she did actually want to hug the little princess at some point . Kaya made a shocked face as she lifted the girl .
“You’re lighter than you look . ”
“Who said you weren’t? Anyway, time to get down . I don’t have the stamina . ”
Ella let go of her arms from Kaya’s neck with an annoyed face . As Minjoon watched all of this with a smile on his face, Jemma walked up next to him .
“Mingjyun, thanks . For inviting . ”
“It’s a party for everyone . Of course I would invite you guys . ”
“It’s my first time seeing big sis, be happy . It’s all thanks to Mingjyun . ”
“She’s been even happier after you and Grace came . So it’s not all thanks to me at all . ”
“…No . We, no, I… was only a weight on big sis’ shoulders, but Mingjyun… saved her . ”
The girl sounded ashamed and grateful at the same time . Minjoon shook his head with a smile .
“You mean a wall . A wall that she could lean on . I was just next to the door she opened on that wall . I was just lucky . ”
If he had gone back several years, or several months off the mark– and missed entering Grand Chef with Kaya… Would they still have had a relationship like this one? No, they wouldn’t even have met .
Thinking about that made Minjoon a little bit terrified . Jemma looked at him a little worriedly as he shivered to himself .
“Nah, just felt a chill run down my back . ”
“Be careful . Ara was worried . ”
“You still keep in touch with Ara?”
“Yeah . When I asked if she was playing too much, she said she was studying English well . ”
“Hah, that’s a nice excuse . ”
“I think so too . ”
Jemma smiled . The left side of her face was twitching a little, struggling to maintain the expression . In fact, the girl’s entire left side of the body was a little paralyzed . Her leg, arm, face, everything . The girl’s left side of the body always felt a little stiff . Minjoon had to hide his worry as he kept talking .
“How’s your current place?”
“Gud . It has a yard, and I have a bed . Like a dream . Really . ”
The girl’s sentences were a little stiff . Listening to it made Minjoon tear up a little inside . Most people would feel sorry for the girl even if they didn’t really know her, and Minjoon…
“Just tell me if you need help, alright? I can always…”
“Yo, Jemma, don’t talk him Minjoon . He’s a baddie . ”
Kaya grabbed Jemma’s arms out of nowhere and started pulling . Jemma smiled awkwardly .
“Big sis, you should take the love quarrel elsewhere…”
“Love quarrel my ass, that guy… Ouch!”
Kaya screamed and looked back . Grace, who had slapped the girl’s back as hard as she could, was glaring .
“I told you to behave, didn’t I? I thought I told you not to show him your bad side . ”
“But I already did, so it’s not like I can do anything about it now, you know . ”
“Did you even try, though?”
“Of course! I used to always brush my teeth and put on makeup when I met him . I still do, too . ”
“Fine . That’s an improvement for sure . Anyway, be nice to him . If there’s a fight, it’s almost always guaranteed to be your fault . ”
“…Are you sure you’re my mom?”
“Of course I am, that’s how I know you so well . I know Minjoon’s nice, so I know he would never start anything . Unlike someone I know…”
Kaya looked at Grace disappointedly, but Grace promptly ignored it .
“I’m sorry for making you deal with my daughter . You’re doing well?”
“Of course . Kaya’s really nice . She even made me a spicy burrito this morning so that I wouldn’t miss that Korean spice . ”
“So that’s why you’ve decided to attack back . ”
“Of course . I’m glad you understand me so well . ”
Kaya made an absolutely terrifying face behind the two, but unfortunately for her, no one really cared .
‘I’m going to get my revenge…’
[Chocolate with banana cream] Freshness: 89%
Source: (Hidden due to the number of ingredients)
[Chocolate with unripe durian] Freshness: 83%
Source: (Hidden due to the number of ingredients)
‘Getting creative, huh?’
Minjoon looked down at the box of chocolates with a suppressed smile . His girlfriend had been constantly trying to get back at him since Christmas .
It was obvious just looking at this box of chocolates . Most of them were alright, but one of them had an unripe durian just stuck in there . But Minjoon haven’t fallen for it even once so far .
After all, the system was on his side, and he was using it to its full potential .
“Kaya, you didn’t mess with this again, did you?”
“Of course not . You’ve been dodging all of them so far anyway . ”
“Are you still mad?”
Kaya paused . But she immediately put on a big smile and hugged Minjoon .
“Do you think I’d be able to hug you if I was?”
Minjoon could only feel a little fear from her seeing this . To think she’d be able to act so naturally… Minjoon moved his hand over the box . Kaya looked at him expectantly . Minjoon put a piece in his mouth and started chewing .
“How is it?”
“It’s good . Did you use fried bananas? The banana flavor is pretty strong for a cream . ”
“Yeah, I did . Good thing that you like it . ”
Kaya smiled . Right . Keep lowering your guard just like that, and then that one piece will . . Hehe, just thinking about it made her want to smile . Right then, Minjoon thrust a piece of chocolate to her mouth .
“Here, try some yourself . It’s really good . ”
“…I’m on a diet though?”
“Just one . That should be good enough . ”
Kaya paused for a second nervously before taking it . There was no way she’d get the bomb out of the 30 pieces in the box anyway… But her face stiffened the moment it went in her mouth .
Minjoon looked at her curiously .
“… . It’s nothing . It’s good . ”
Kaya quickly swallowed before trying to reach out for another piece . She needed to wash the durian out one way or the other . But Minjoon took the box away from her grasp .
“You said you were on a diet . You need to restrain yourself . ”
“No . You’re just going to keep telling me that as you jump more and more pieces in your mouth . ”
It wasn’t like Kaya could confess about what she just ate at this point . Kaya stood up from her spot with a pale face .
“My stomach hurts . Be right back . ”
“Sure, sure . ”
Minjoon smiled as the girl left the room . He could hear her gag a little from the bathroom . She must’ve been shocked pretty badly, especially with that tongue of hers .
‘Should’ve at least tried to be nicer…’
At least she didn’t do it to actually get him hurt . Kaya came back a moment later with a sigh . Minjoon smiled .
“Are you feeling better?”
“A little . Here, take this . ”
Kaya threw something at him with an annoyed voice . It was a small box . Minjoon looked confused .
“Your birthday present . I missed it because I had to go to Italy, remember?”
“…Ah . ”
December 30th . Yesterday was his birthday . Minjoon looked at the gift for a moment before starting to unwrap . He could only smile when he looked inside .
“A business card?”
The silver card had the logo of Rose Island with a bunch of little facts written on it . Most of them looked something like this:
– Got third place at Grand Chef Season 3 (Lost to Kaya Lotus)
– Got the best tongue in the world .
– Works as a demi chef at the main store of Rose Island .
– Kaya Lotus’ property!
“…The heck is this?”
“Business card . Obviously .
“Do I really have to give this to other people?”
“Of course you do . That’s what it’s made for . What, you don’t like it?”
“No, I do . It’s just…”
“Shush . Hug me if you like it . I gotta go now . ”
Kaya opened her arms towards him saying this . Minjoon sighed . After hugging her tightly in his arms, he spoke up with a heavy voice .
“Why do you have so many places calling you at the end of the year, too?”
“I’m a half celebrity at this point, after all . I’m free when others are busy, and busy when others are free . ”
“Well… I don’t think I’ve ever seen you free, though . ”
“Gee, thanks for noticing . ”
“It isn’t hard?”
Kaya kissed Minjoon instead of responding .
“I’ll get going now . ”
“Alright . See ya . Ah, also…”
Minjoon’s lips struggled to part . Why was this one phrase so much harder to say compared to everything else? Kaya grinned and kissed him again . She ended up saying the phrase for him .
“Love ya . ”
The door closed before Minjoon could say anything . Minjoon lay down on the sofa tiredly .
“It’s… a lot different compared to before . ”
He was thinking of the year when he was around 30 . He was peeling garlic at the restaurant by himself back then . Of course, he was alone right now too, but at least Kaya was there to comfort him for a bit . It was different compared to before .
In any case, there was too little for him to do . Rachel had let all the staff go to do their own stuff . For two days, too . He was free till January first . Pretty much a three day vacation, really .
‘What do I do for three days?’
Anderson asked him to come to the party at his parents’ restaurant, but Minjoon honestly wasn’t a big fan of Western parties . He was a fan of quieter parties if anything .
That’s why he ended up just going to Rose Island . There was bound to be no one there about now . He should be able to use the kitchen by himself today . But that wasn’t actually the case, unfortunately . Someone had gotten there before him .
“Ah, Minjoon . ”
Javier looked at Minjoon surprisedly . He seemed to be prepping something . There were pieces of paper with notes everywhere, and the blenders had a bunch of different sauces inside it .
“The hell are you doing here?”
“Ah . Well… I said I was going to make my own recipe, so… I decided to keep experimenting . ”
Javier’s voice was clearly down . It made sense . He only had like what, a little more than ten days before the due date? And considering that Minjoon, Anderson, and Janet made the dish in four days…
It was strange . By themselves, it took them over a month to make a single dish . But as soon as they got together, ideas started bouncing around everywhere, and they were able to make an alright dish in four days .
But now Javier had to think about a dish that would fit theirs . That probably put immense pressure on him . He couldn’t afford to hurt the other chefs because of himself, after all . If he couldn’t make anything here…
“Sorry . I’m thinking . I don’t think I can talk much . ”
Minjoon didn’t say anything in response . Javier was probably feeling really conflicted about his decision right now . And it wasn’t like Minjoon could just go up and help the man . But…
“M-Minjoon! What the hell are you doing?”
Javier shouted in surprise . Minjoon had just tasted a bit of sauce that was in the sink . Minjoon started talking immediately .
“The avocado puree would go well with turkey . But it tastes too common . It tastes like something from a sandwich shop down the street . And this ponzu sauce… Orange, huh? But it’s lacking in aroma . You’ll have to get the smell of the orange to pop a little more . ”
“What are you…”
“I can’t advise you on what to do on your dish, but at the very least, I can try tasting it . Everyone else made their dishes this way . So don’t you even think about stopping me . ”
Javier seemed to try to say something, but he bit his lips instead . Minjoon waited for the man to speak .
“I’m being too selfish, aren’t I?”
“Some people just have to be selfish at times . I’m on your side . Don’t feel too guilty, alright? I know you’re feeling a lot of pressure, but there’s really no need . I’ll help you . ”
“We’re friends, aren’t we?”
There was no hesitation in Minjoon’s answer .
“When friends are in need, you should always help them . ”