Published at 14th of November 2020 11:30:06 AM
It was Jemma who went to the kitchen to do the dishes after dinner . Grace was about to follow her when Ara quickly stood up and stopped her .
“Let me do it . Please take a break, Ms . Grace . ”
“Oh, no, I’ve been invited as a guest, so let me do it . ”
“If I let you do it when you are tired after several hours of flight from Los Angeles, they are going to blame me . So, please allow me to do it . ”
Since Ara insisted like that, Grace could not persuade her out of it anymore . Ara got close to Jemma and smiled at her .
“Well, I couldn’t speak to you a little while ago because the atmosphere was rather awkward . How have you been doing, Jemma?”
“Well, I’ve been studying something . ”
“What are you studying?”
“Just this and that,” said Jemma, smiling awkwardly .
Glancing at Kaya and Min-joon sitting at the table, Ara said in a quiet voice, “Isn’t it interesting?
Just a year ago, we were living in a place almost on the other side of the world without knowing each other’s faces, but we’re now back together like a family . ”
“Ming-joon is a good person . I’m glad my sister has met him . ”
“You don’t have to praise my brother in front of me . In fact, there are so many people who want to praise him in front of me . ”
Ara shook her head as if she was sick and tired of hearing their praise of her brother . She was serious . Whenever her acquaintances met her, they would say, ‘Oh, yesterday, I saw your brother on the internet . ’ ‘I read an article about your brother in the newspaper . ’ ‘My dream is to be a chef . Can I meet you later?’ Because of complimentary greetings, she sometimes felt like she was living as Min-joon’s younger sister .
Of course, it didn’t mean she hated it . It was rather ambiguous of her to say that she felt good to hear such compliments about her brother because people’s growing attention was proof that he was successful in the cuisine world .
“I feel frustrated sometimes . Even if I can’t surpass my brother, I would like to be as successful as him . But I think he has gone too far for that . ”
Even Kaya achieved great success at that age . Thinking that Jemma might feel the same way, Ara looked into her expression carefully . But she was surprised to realize that there were so many mixed feelings on her face that Ara could not even imagine . So much so that it would take her forever to understand her complicated feelings one by one .
“I…” Jemma murmured . She became silent again without speaking out properly .
Ara could not even guess what kind of agony occupied her mind . She didn’t know how Jemma was getting by, handicapped, as Kaya’s younger sister or whether she felt like the odd man out because Kaya’s biological father came back .
Jemma could read Ara’s embarrassment then showed warm consideration for her by smiling . But her face was trembling when she smiled, which was far from a typical smile that seemed beautiful .
“I’m not going to be jealous or greedy,” Jemma said .
“You bet, Jemma . If we try to be greedy, we will only ruin ourselves, right?”
Ara hastily agreed with her, but the darkness behind Jemma’s hazy smile did not disappear easily . It had nothing to do with what Ara just said . In fact, that dark smile of hers implied a big burden that she had to carry on her back for the rest of her life, hanging over her future . So, she could not help it if her smile implied it . Jemma’s awkward voice and Ara’s artificial bright voice made dissonance, of course, which knocked the wind out of them .
And there was another person who was making an awkward expression like them . He was none other than Bruce . As if he was so nervous about being here in Min-joon’s house that he didn’t know what to do, he responded in a stiff and anxious voice whenever Soo-yop spoke to him in clumsy English, “Yes, I am engaged in a distribution business . ”
“I understand it’s very difficult for a late starter to make success in the distribution industry, but you have made it . Awesome!”
“No, please don’t say that . I was just so lucky as to have come up this far . In fact, those guys who became a leader in the field by proving their own talents and capabilities deserve the credit . Of course, you are included in that group since you have raised your family so successfully, Soo-yop . ”
Obviously, Bruce tried not to rub him the wrong way, but it was clear that he was sincere in his conversation with Min-joon’s father . Was it because of that? Their conversation got more and more serious after they broke the ice, and this time, they even touched on a heavy topic .
Soo-yop asked, “Do you know if they have any plans to get married?”
Suddenly Min-joon cut in .
“Dad, why are you asking Bruce about that? You can ask us directly . ”
“If I ask you, I’m afraid you won’t answer right away . ”
“Well, we have no plans to marry yet . ”
Min-joon answered with a calm voice . He expected that his parents would ask him lots of questions about this . In fact, his parents were very old-fashioned in their thinking, but when they didn’t oppose his living together with Kaya without getting married, he was quite surprised by their attitude change .
However, Min-joon was not embarrassed . Grace and Bruce were here . When Kaya’s parents were here for the first time, it would not be easy for his parents to give him a lecture about his marriage with Kaya because it involved not only him but also Kaya .
That was why he was startled by his father bringing up the topic of him getting married .
Soo-yop asked Bruce, “How about having an engagement ceremony for Min-joon and Kaya?”
It seemed that Soo-yop practiced that particular phrase in English so many times that his English accent when he said that phrase was totally different from his clumsy English pronunciation a little while ago .
Since neither Min-joon nor Kaya didn’t expect at all that he would ask that, they just kept silent, looking at him blankly .
As if he felt he was not qualified to intervene, Bruce refrained from speaking, and Hye-sun couldn’t express her opinion in English . After all, Grace was the only one who could answer that question .
“Of course, we can’t decide . It’s up to Min-joon and Kaya to decide it . And I respect both Kaya and Min-joon . But they are still young . Young blood always causes unexpected trouble . So I’d like to make something like a seat belt to fix the two . ”
“Well, Kaya and I can decide it by ourselves, Dad . ”
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t make a decision . I’m just making an offer . Think about it seriously . Of course, you don’t have to make a judgment right now . You have a lot of time,” said Soo-yop .
As soon as Soo-yop finished talking, his wife Hye-sun asked in a small voice, “So, did you speak out?” He nodded in satisfaction with a proud expression .
But Min-joon was troubled by his father’s sudden suggestion . Actually, he guessed a bit that his father would bring up the topic about his marriage at this family gathering . But he didn’t expect at all that his father would suggest to arrange an engagement ceremony . Fortunately, his father didn’t push him to answer quickly . Min-joon looked at Kaya awkwardly . Touching her head with an awkward gesture, she did not make eye contact with him .
Hye-sun Lee whispered to Min-joon in Korean, “Kaya is pretty . ”
“I know . ”
“That’s why you need some arrangement to make her your wife . Otherwise, she might leave you . ”
“If I don’t, do you think she won’t stay with me?”
“You have to do something to make her your wife . ”
Hye-sun Lee replied with a sullen voice . But Min-joon sighed and turned his eyes from her .
At that moment, his smartphone rang . Checking out the number on the screen, it was an unfamiliar number . Normally, he would just have pushed the decline button, but this time, he needed some excuse to get out of this place right now .
“Wait a minute . Let me get out to pick up this call . ”
Kaya momentarily looked at Min-joon with resentful glances because he left alone, but he avoided her glance with an effort and stepped into another room .
Then he put his smartphone to his ear and said, “Hello?”
“Hi, Min-joon . This is Min-sok Kim . ”
“Oh, yes, hello . ”
“Sorry to contact you suddenly . I wanted to contact you to thank you for posting your comment on Starbook . ”
“You’re welcome . I just said that I enjoyed the noodles at your restaurant . So, you don’t have to thank me for that, and I don’t deserve it . ”
As if he was moved by Min-joon’s warm response, Min-sok didn’t say anything for a moment, but Min-joon was patient enough . After all, Min-sok opened his mouth with a slightly wet voice .
“I know it’s really absurd to say this in this situation, but shall we have a drink?”
Min-joon did not say anything for a moment . He knew Min-sok must have been very lonely and agonized, given he asked a middle school alumni he met in a few years out for a drink . Min-joon couldn’t turn down his offer .
“I’m sorry but I can’t . ”
“Oh, I thought so . I’m sorry,” Min-sok replied with a dejected voice .
Min-joon looked at the living room for a moment . His parents and Kaya’s parents gathered in one place after a long time, but he didn’t feel like leaving his lonely friend neglected . It wasn’t because Min-sok was his alumni .
Above all, Min-sok was a chef like him . So, Min-joon wanted to hear the story of his friend who didn’t receive due recognition even though he made great Pyongyang cold noodles . He was not sure if he could solve his problem or not, but he wanted to hold his friend’s hand tightly when his mind was wandering like now .
So, Min-joon opened his mouth, “I don’t drink . How about coffee . Do you know any good cafe nearby?”
He hung up the phone after agreeing to see Min-sok at a nearby cafe .
Min-sok smiled lightly, waving his hand at him . Adjusting his clothes, Min-joon entered the cafe . Several people were looking at him curiously as if they seemed to recognize his face .
As if Min-sok noticed such an atmosphere, he whispered, “I’m sorry . I forgot that you are a famous chef even here . ”
“It’s okay . Anyway, if they know me, they will recognize me anyway . By the way, haven’t we promised to talk to each other informally when we meet next time?”