Published at 22nd of November 2020 12:45:26 PM
“No, not really . Actually, you should know it, but it’s hard for me to tell…”
Justin looked at Min-joon with an agonized expression then sighed again .
Min-joon opened his mouth calmly, “Don’t think about it too seriously . I can understand whatever you say . What’s wrong with you?”
Despite Min-joon’s persuasion, Justin still didn’t say anything . Min-joon stood next to him without saying anything, just patiently waiting for him to speak again . At last, his patience paid off when Justin quietly opened his mouth .
“Chef, what if…”
“Just tell me . It’s okay . ”
“What if it’s me who is responsible for the fire…?”
Min-joon’s face wobbled .
Without even seeing his face, Justin continued to ask, “What should I do if I am responsible for the fire?”
Min-joon never expected his confession . Watching his face stiffening, Justin lowered his head as if he couldn’t face him . Min-joon looked around, grabbed Justin’s arm, and headed to the corner . He said, looking seriously at Justin .
“What do you mean? Tell me honestly . ”
“Well, I’m not sure, either . On that day, I left the restaurant last, but I am still not sure if I properly turned off the stove at that time . So…”
Justin made an agonized expression as if he was about to cry anytime . Biting his lips, Min-joon looked at him for a while . He couldn’t think straight at the moment . Was it because of that?
He asked simply, “So, you are not sure, right?”
“Then, don’t talk,” Min-joon said in a firm voice .
But Justin looked at him as if he couldn’t understand .
But Min-joon clearly said in a dry voice, folding his arms, “What are you going to do by confusing people with something you’re not sure about? You are not sure if you are responsible for the fire accident or not, so just don’t talk . Otherwise, you’ll make a mess of everything . ”
“Do you really think it’s okay for me to stay quiet?”
“When you talk about it, it will only make our heads spin like a top . So, just stop if you don’t want our staff to suspect you . ”
That was the right answer . If Justin wasn’t sure about it, nobody could blame him or get angry with him . Of course, they could suspect him, but what if it was confirmed later that he was not responsible for the fire?
“Then, what am I supposed to do now?”
“Don’t feel guilty . Do you think you might be responsible when you are not sure if you turned off the stove or not? That’s nonsense unless the investigation of the fire accident concludes that the fire started from the stove . Right now, we don’t know the cause of the fire . Why should you feel guilty about it? It’s good you come forward honestly like this, but it’s not good that you begin to reproach yourself like this . ”
Despite Min-joon’s reassurances, Justin seemed to be consumed by anxiety .
Of course, Min-joon knew he would feel relieved by his comforting words . Min-joon sighed . It was important to know whether Justin was responsible for the fire accident, but what was more important was Rachel’s condition .
He couldn’t even imagine how much sadness and suffering she must have hidden behind her resolute and confident attitude . So, he didn’t want to make things worse by revealing Justin’s confession to her .
So, Min-joon once again said in a sincere voice, “Don’t act thoughtlessly . ”
“So, how was your trip to Korea?” Rachel asked in a calm voice with a smile .
Min-joon replied, trying to smile as casually as possible .
“It was good . In some cases, I thought I knew the genuine taste of the dishes, but I was wrong . I also came to discover lots of new dishes that I didn’t know before . ”
“I asked about your vacation, but you are talking about cooking . ”
“Well, enjoying food is the most pleasant vacation for me . ”
“Heavens! I earnestly asked you to take a good rest, but you’ve been thinking about cooking day and night! That’s just like you to spend your vacation like that . I’m not sure if I should be angry with you as you didn’t respect my request . ”
“You don’t even have the energy to get angry . ”
“Energy to get angry? Oh, yeah, that’s right . ”
Rachel smiled, but loneliness could be felt in that smile of hers . Min-joon carefully grabbed her hands . Her wrinkled and small hands were much colder than he thought . She smiled, feeling sorry for him .
“I wanted you to take a good rest, but it seems you’ve come back with worries . ”
“I’m fine . It would be nice if I could learn something new on this occasion . ”
“Are you in good condition?”
“Yeah, I’m fine . I’m exercising regularly . ”
“Good . Nice job . By the way, Kaya won’t like it, right?”
“You bet . I’m a bit frustrated about it, too . I just don’t know how to explain to her,” he said with a sigh .
She opened her mouth in an empathetic tone, “Well, if she wasn’t bound by the Grand Chef contract, I could have taken her with you, too . ”
“Really? Do you want to take Kaya? Is it because she is my girlfriend?”
“Not because she is your girlfriend . As a matter of fact, I like to have her join my team . ”
He looked surprised at her remarks then nodded as if he understood . Honestly, it was Kaya, not him, that fitted the type of chef that she had been looking for . Kaya was more suitable as a chef with a perfect palate, and she was better at cooking than him in some respects . Of course, he was ahead of her at the moment as far as developing new recipes was concerned .
‘If Kaya joins Rachel’s kitchen, what can she show?’
Honestly, just thinking about it made his heart pound with thrill . Although Kaya could not work in the kitchen right now, her cooking skills were getting better . At least, he could feel it when he enjoyed the meal she served at home every day . She could bring out an artistic balance and harmony even in the simplicity of the dishes she made . For example, she could make a sandwich like that on the menu of a high-end restaurant . He felt he couldn’t even imitate the way she made such a sandwich .
“I thought a lot about how nice it would be for Kaya to join our kitchen staff . Do you want to offer a job to her?”
“Well, I have to look at the situation, but if she wants to join, I want to have her even by creating a position here . Do you think she wants to join?”
“Well, I haven’t discussed it yet with her . ”
“The Grand Chef Competition is also starting a new season . They’re opening it soon, right?”
“By the time we renovate our head office, Kaya’s contract will probably be over . ”
Neither Min-joon nor Rachel tried to talk about the recent fire accident . In particular, Min-joon was very careful not to because he didn’t want to throw salt on her wounds . However, it seemed that she already noticed it .
She smiled gently and opened her mouth .
“It seems that I really make you worried a lot . ”
“It’s so obvious that you don’t want to talk about the fire accident . You don’t have to . I wouldn’t say I’m not weak . But I have a reason to stand up again, and I can walk forever if I have that reason . So, you don’t have to worry about anything . ”
“But you must be heartbroken because of that . ”
“There are worries everywhere in this world . Well, it’s funny when you think about it . I started cooking because I wanted to be happy, but sometimes, I feel I can’t be happy because of it . ”
She looked out the window, not him, for a moment . What did she see out there?
Even before he got the answer, she opened her mouth .
“Min-joon, what do you think? Do you think the path you are on now is full of happiness or woes?”
“I’m happy . ”
“I see . ” She nodded calmly .
Min-joon continued with a little cheerful voice, “And I owe it to you, master . Since you are around me, I can move on confidently without worrying about the path I’m on . ”
“Thank you . ”
“I met someone in Korea during my trip . I told you about him last time . Chef Hong . ”
“Oh, yes, You told me about him . ”
“He had similar worries like you . He was not sure if it was his dream or desire that made him start cooking, and he is now seriously worried about his lost direction . It was really hard for me to see him consumed by such worries because he reminded me of you . ”
She didn’t respond . It was hard for her to respond .
So, he continued, giving her reassurance that she did not have to respond .
“So I made up my mind . I can’t walk in front of you, Chef Rachel, but I’ll walk right behind you and push your back . So, please wait a little bit . I’ll definitely go there . ”
He made something like an ardent confession as if he was whispering to his girlfriend .
She looked at him with a mysterious expression then hugged him tightly .
She whispered, “I’m sorry . Can I hold you for a minute?”
He replied in a low voice, “You can hold me all your life . ”
“She’s touring all the branches of Rose Island?” Kaya asked incredulously .
Min-joon shook his head and replied, “No, not all of them . She is planning to first visit those branches that she thinks have some problems . If she can, she wants to visit all the branches, but for now, she wants to focus on some branches that don’t do business well . ”
“No, that’s not the issue right now . I can’t see you for several months, right?”
“Well, that’s not true . We can have a video call . ”
“That means I can’t touch you . ”
She made various facial expressions, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes crying, and sometimes frowning, before putting her hand on his face .
He took it off gently and said, “I know you ate cookies and sucked your fingers a little while ago . ”
“So, are you complaining my hands are dirty now?”
“Is it okay if I suck my fingers and touch my face?”
“You’re so mean . You won’t see me for the next few months . ”
Kaya pouted with a sad expression . But he pinched his lips and shook his head .
“I’m not going with her right now . I’m planning to leave after taking care of my stuff here . So, I think I can leave in about 15 days at the earliest . ”
“You’re leaving anyway . Oh, man, what am I going to do alone at home?”
“Cleaning, laundry, and cooking . ”
“Are you kidding? You wanna be killed?”
Her eyes became ferocious like a wild cat . He looked around the house sneakily . The electric stove on the wall and the carpet on the floor were just familiar to him as if he had lived with them all his life .
“Yeah, I guess you might be lonely for several months . ”
“If you know it, call me often . ”
“Of course, I will . Even when we were on a gourmet tour, we sent text messages whenever possible . ”
“That’s right, but… . ”
“Your contract with Grand Chef will end soon, right?”
In fact, she felt time was passing quickly, watching the trailers of the new Grand Chef Competition series on TV these days .
She sighed with a nod and said, “Well, a lot of restaurant owners want to hire me, but I don’t know which one I should choose . I wish I could stay in Los Angeles, but I don’t know . By the way, are you going to rebuild the new restaurant in the same place where it was burnt?”
“Well, I don’t think so . Some say that she will build a new restaurant in a different place . Others say she will buy an existing restaurant . If she can’t find the solution, she might build a new one . In fact, it wasn’t a good place anyway . That neighborhood is pretty during the day, but there were homeless guys on drugs overflowing there during the night . ”
Kaya sighed with a nod and said, “So, do you think she can leave Los Angeles?”
“I don’t think so because Lisa is here with her bakery, as you know . Given that, she might be leaving for the downtown of Los Angeles or Santa Monica . ”
“Then, I’ll have to think more deeply about the job offers . We can’t be separated like this . ”
She frowned as if she was being agonized .
Watching her lost in thought, he gently asked, “How about applying to Rose Island?”