The light of my future

Бесплатный фрагмент - The light of my future

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«Where are you?» A demanding rough voice of a man was heard, and the young girl who was standing in the old, shabby telephone booth unconsciously shuddered with fear and disgust. The memories of the man who was on the other end of the line returned to her.

Now that she had learned the horrifying truth about the cases he was actually involved in, she had no choice but to run. And she was going to take advantage of the chance given to her.

«I took Alina away. We won’t be back. Please don’t look for us,» she pleaded in a trembling voice, continuing to shake all over, fearing that she was being followed.

«Valya, you know that I will find you wherever you go,» the man answered in a menacingly calm voice, «I will do everything so that my daughter is with me.»

The woman pressed closer to herself the bundle with a little girl who, at three months old, looked at her mother as if she understood what was happening.

«Goodbye, Andrey,» the woman ended the call and hung up on the payphone, then got out and headed for the taxi, which sped her along with her little daughter to the airport.

The woman knew that she must leave the country and protect her child from the fate that was prepared by the monster, so skillfully hidden behind the mask of nobility, kindness and reliability. Her love for him dissolved into lies and fear.

But now she had only one goal — to protect her child at all costs…


Cutting through the noisy streets of Seoul, which were buried in smog and bright summer sun, I added gas and rushed forward. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins, and the loud music on my headphones couldn’t stop the roar of my brand new sports bike’s engine.

I stop abruptly at a traffic light and notice a «tail» in the rear-view mirror. Looks like my father sent his minions after me again. The green light of the traffic light turned on and I moved from my place, hoping to break away from the chase. But turning into one of the alleys, I tried to avoid passers-by, when I suddenly noticed a powerful bike that blocked my path. I had no choice but to stop. Removing the helmet from my head, I sighed heavily, straightening my long hair, which was tousled.

The man blocking my path on his sportbike, which was about one and a half more expensive than mine, took off his helmet and pierced me with black eyes that shone with pleasure and adrenaline.

«Who are you?» I called out to him.

«I am the one who guards your father’s peace!» he replied with a wry haughty grin as he slid down from his «iron horse», «he is waiting for you at home. And I am instructed to see you off,» he announced and took a few steps towards me.

«What makes you think that I will obey you?» I asked mockingly, and when I wanted to put on a protective helmet again, I felt that someone had enclosed my hands on both sides in their tenacious grip.

«Your father asked us to bring you to him,» an emotionless male voice called from above me, «we are allowed to bring you by force.»

I turned around and found two guards from my father’s armory. Assessing the opportunity to practice one of my new fighting moves on them, I knew that I would be the loser, despite the fact that the third (the one on the bike) had a rather frail physique and looked like he had been drinking only water for several weeks.

His dark blond hair fell over his forehead and was obviously dyed, and the skin on his face was perfectly even and fair, which emphasized light makeup and the rays of the bright sun.

«Do you think if you put on a leather jacket and leather gloves — you can do whatever you want?» a young man asked me with a haughty air, who did not even try to hide the fact that it gives him pleasure to have at least a small, but advantage over me.

«Who are you anyway, huh?» Losing my patience, I asked the question again.

«Miss Kim…,» one of the guards called out to me, tightening his grip on my arm.

«All right! All right!» I exhaled irritably and gestured that I had given up and was going to get off my motorcycle, after which I followed them into the car, throwing one last wistful glance at the motorcycle, which I had to give into the hands of strangers.

An hour later, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ two-story penthouse and looking at our family photo, located on the wall above the large fireplace. Mom in an evening chiffon dress with a blooming and rested look after her next trip for a portion of inspiration for a new book and dad, who was standing nearby in a strict expensive suit, hugged us and was just happy that we were there.

My father (my Korean father) married my mother when I was three. From day one, he took care of me like I was his own daughter. He did not have his own children. And he keeps saying he doesn’t plan on having children in the future. Therefore, all his paternal instinct (and there is quite a lot of it) still pours out on me. And not infrequently, in his attempts to protect me from the outside world, he does what he did today.

I looked around at the spacious bright living room and glanced at the dining room and kitchen, which were combined and separated from the living room by a small transparent partition. The entire second floor was intended for living rooms. One bedroom was for my parents and the other was mine. Two more bedrooms were guest. Now the apartment seemed empty and uncomfortable, since I was completely alone on the territory of two hundred square meters.

«Usually children greet their parents standing up and bow their respect,» my father’s taunting voice echoed, and I chuckled as I looked up from our family photo.

«Well, let me greet you Mr. Kim Jae-hwa!» I responded, rising to my feet to bow to him with exaggerated reverence, «what made you show your precious attention to my humble person?» I asked as I returned to my seat.

«You haven’t been home for a long time. And, unfortunately, the only way to contact you is to send messengers. Gone are the days when you could be lured home with candy,» he chuckled and sat down in a chair that was to my left, «you been away for two days, and today I got this,» he took a white paper envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket and handed it to me, «you almost doubled the speed limit. Do you want my mother and I to go crazy with excitement?» he addressed me in a calm but demanding tone.

«I was just having fun,» I shrugged indifferently, «and it’s not the first time. You know.»

«To be honest, we tried to make you a princess, not a bandit,» he frowned and took a slow, deep breath.

«Looks like something went wrong at some point,» I laughed as I unfastened the rivets on my leather gloves. These were my favorites from my large collection — black leather with small holes and no fingers.

«Well, let’s move on to what I called you here for,» my father leaned forward slightly, and only now I noticed that there was a folder next to him, which he handed me, «you received invitations from the top five universities in Korea. And you didn’t apply to any of them. Didn’t you plan to go all out after getting your bachelor’s degree to get a master’s degree in management? You know that sooner or later you will have to take my place at MW Corporation.»

«I only got a bachelor’s degree in business administration because you insisted on it. I don’t think I need to explain to you that I’m not going to take your place in a music agency,» I breathed out and we didn’t say anything for a while to each other, «Dad, I know that you have plans for me, but… I don’t want this at all,» I breathed conciliatoryly, «I told you that I was collecting documents for admission to an American university. And yes, I know that neither you nor my mother will give me one won to pay for a foreign university, especially one in which I will study directing, so I intend to get a scholarship.»

«The problem is not that the university you have chosen will be located outside our country, although this will cause us certain concerns for you. It is all about which direction you have chosen,» my father explained his dissatisfaction with the direction I had chosen in life.

«What’s Wrong with Film Directing?» I asked irritably, «I want to shoot action movies. I want to show real action!»

«That’s commendable, but…» He took a slow, deep breath and shook his head indignantly.

«Please, dad, just tell me what you want to say,» I pleaded, leaning slightly towards the side where my father was sitting.

«Well, you’re right. I won’t wait any longer. I’m offering you a deal. You are a stubborn girl with us. And you always get your way. And I believe that everything can work out for you without our help. But still I will offer you something,» Father looked into my eyes and, with genuine love in his eyes, smiled. Can a person love another person like that with paternal love that has no boundaries, while knowing that this child is not your own? «It will take you at least a year to put together your scholarship documents and build your portfolio, assuming you do everything on your own. And for this year, I want to make a deal with you.»

«What deal?» I asked warily.

«Our agency’s lead artist is Min Sung Joon. You know that we’ve been working with him for nine years,» he felt the need to clarify, to which I nodded my head indifferently, «he doesn’t intend to renew his contract next year. And this is a big blow for our agency. Moreover, Sung Joon refuses to remain with our agency as a producer, mentor, or any other position.»

«Does your most profitable artist want to retire at the height of his fame?» squinting suspiciously, I asked, «maybe he decided to change the agency?» I made a very logical guess.

«I doubt it, although I thought about it,» the father sighed heavily for the umpteenth time.

«Maybe he’s just tired,» I said thoughtfully, reflecting on the unenviable life of an idol. Love of admirers and hatred of envious people; big money and lack of freedom of action; beauty created by cosmetics, plastics and fashionable clothes; and loneliness… all this is destined for those who embarked on this thorny path.

«Min Hee, I want you to be his assistant this year and try to convince him to stay with us. Ideally as an artist, but I agree if he stays at least as a producer,» his father announced after a short pause.

«What makes you think that I’m capable of this? That is, why do you think that I can convince him? As far as I know from your staff, none of his assistants lasted two weeks. It’s terrible to imagine how many people have changed among his work environment,» I chuckled, vaguely imagining how I would work with someone like Sung Joon.

«You are not an ordinary person. I am sure that you will succeed if you set a goal for yourself,» the father continued to insist on his own.

«Why do I need such a goal?» I chuckled, narrowing my eyes suspiciously at my father, as I suspected that he had already thought everything through.

«If you fulfill my request, I will pay for your education at any university you wish. I will provide housing, and everything that will be necessary to gain knowledge and skills. In other words, I will provide you with a peaceful existence anywhere in the world for the entire period training,» the father enumerated in a seductive tone the benefits of working with him.

«Hmm…» I chuckled thoughtfully, appreciating the offer, which was hard to refuse, «perhaps I will agree, but on one condition,» I slightly leaned forward and gave my father a sly look, «for the duration of our agreement, I will live separately, and in doing so, you will cease to follow my every action.»

«I’ll take down surveillance on the condition that you answer my calls,» he replied after some thought, «for some reason, in a country that has provided millions of people with telephones, I can’t get through to my own daughter.

«Great! Agreed?» I held out my hand to him. And at the moment when he was already ready to seal our agreement with a handshake, the father returned his hand to his knee and slyly grinned.

«About separate accommodation. Here’s what I propose. If you last a month as an assistant, I’ll give you separate accommodation. Is this offer suitable?» he asked while his eyes glowed with smugness.

«It suits me!» After a short pause, I slapped him on the newly outstretched palm, feeling my parents’ trap slam shut.


«Al, are you sure you can handle this weirdo?» my best friend’s tense voice came over the phone, «I’ve read a few articles about him on fan sites and I’m scared for you. He likes to sleep. He hates to be disturbed over nothing and easily breaks off any relationship. In general, despite the fact that his fans try their best to idealize him, he does not come across as a good, kind guy. Although his former assistants did not say a single bad word about him.»

«Alex. You don’t need to worry. I’m not a sweet Valentine’s gift for him either. I have motivation. Father always knows what needs to be done to make me obey. He thinks he outsmarted me, but I won’t be indebted either in front of him,» I voiced my thoughts to him regarding what was happening in my life right now.

«Well, good luck!» he said through a laugh. Obviously, he was amused by the situation I was in, «But I hope this does not affect your appearance at my exhibition?»

«I will definitely be. Tell me when you decide on the time and place.»

«I’ll send you an invitation. Don’t get lost and know that you can count on me. If you need help, contact me,» Alex said goodbye and hung up.

I looked longingly at my phone and realized that I miss my friend, whom I have known for over twenty years. His parents live in America, that’s where we met when my mother stayed with them after she moved from Russia. Since then, we have kept in touch with him every day. And once a year he came to visit me. In the past ten years, I have never crossed the border of Korea because of my workload, first at school and then at the university.

I felt proud walking through the building of my father’s music agency. It took him fifteen years to climb this Olympus. And now it was important for him to stay on it.

I used my pass and went up to the thirtieth floor of the building, which was wholly owned by MW Corporation, and greeted Eun Ji, one of my father’s secretaries. A young woman with short dark hair in a navy blue pantsuit.

«Min Hee,» she turned to me and rose to her feet with a smile, «you haven’t been here for a long time. I hope you didn’t do something that would make him worry?» she asked, looking at me point-blank.

«Min Hee,» she turned to me and rose to her feet with a smile, «you haven’t been here for a long time. I hope you didn’t do something that would make your father worry?» she asked, looking at me point blank.

«Ever since I got into a fight with a classmate six months ago, I try not to get into trouble. I decided not to protect the weak and the underprivileged anymore. At least as long as my father is my guardian,» I smiled and tried to push away the memories, which marred my graduation from the university.

«Then I hope this lasts at least until you get married!» she laughed and was distracted by the internal phone signal, after which she informed me that I could enter my father’s office.

«Well, no goodbye. Now I’ll be a frequent visitor here,» I winked at her, after which I hurried into the CEO’s spacious office and greeted my father with a smile. But when I realized that he was not alone, I stopped in place and felt joy slipping from my face.

«Song Joon, here comes your new personal assistant, Min Hee,» Father joyfully introduced me to his ward, and I felt an unusual panic.

I knew who Sung Joon was. I do not think that in this country someone did not know about him. But I was not ready to meet him in person. His face, shining in the daylight with a straight, perfectly even chin, tired, languid dark brown eyes, and black-dyed hair, gave the impression of reliability, sincerity and an aura of divinity.

He was surrounded by universal love and attention, but the emotions reflected in his eyes made my cold heart turn on the heating system, which first threw me into a fever, and then the skin was covered with a small shiver. I was excited and did not understand what exactly made me experience a whole range of emotions, while this young man was absolutely calm and with a bored look, first looked at me appraisingly, and then turned his gaze to my father.

«I already said that I don’t need an assistant. I have Min Hyuk and Jin Young. Or do you just want to use me as a babysitter for your daughter, Principal Kim?» Sung Joon addressed my father with a grin.

«That’s far from it,» my father chuckled in response and shifted his gaze to me as he sat down at his desk, «Treat Min Hee like an ordinary assistant. She’s an employee here, not my daughter.»

«Well, let’s see how it goes,» the singer got to his feet, then moved towards me, «I’m going to the dance practice room,» he announced, but I did not know if this was done for me or for my father, after which he left the office.

«Come in, Min Hee,» my father invited me to the seat that his top star had vacated a moment ago.

«Thought he’d make a fuss,» I chuckled as I sank into the leather chair.

«I’m sure you can get along with him,» my father smiled and handed me a folder, which I hurried to open immediately, «your employment contract and Sung Joon’s schedule for this week. As well as house rules, a non-disclosure agreement and instructions. You are responsible for the life support of our star, controlling food intake, organizing trips to the doctors, organizing cleaning of his house, communicating with the driver and other minor duties.

«In other words, I’m your top star mom,» I didn’t miss the opportunity to omit the scathing comment.

«Talk to him politely and try to understand the importance of Sung Joon staying with our agency,» the father continued in the stern tone of a mentor.

«Ok, I understand everything!»

«Well!» my father gave me a radiant smile, «then you can start work from tomorrow. Right after you get acquainted with the documents. Do not under any circumstances reveal the address of Sung Joon’s residence and any other personal information that becomes available to you.»

«It’s not a problem,» I snorted indifferently, rising to my feet, «I’ll sign the contract and bring it to the personnel department myself.»

«Good luck!» father continued to smile.

«I thought of something…» I addressed him and paused, «can we make a clause in our contract that our employment contract will be terminated immediately after Sung Joon renews the agreement or enters into a new one?»

«I think it will be fair,» the father replied with a smile, «If there are any questions, you can contact Song Joon’s general manager, Lee Min Hyuk. You will receive all instructions and information from him.»

«I understood everything.» I answered and walked towards the exit of the office.

Everything worked out for the best for me. The need to collect documents disappeared, and the side job found me by itself. And at the same time, if I fulfill all the conditions, my life will become much easier, and I will be able to devote all my strength to finding a person who left only questions in my life.


«So, Min Hee, your work day starts at 5 am, unless Sung Joon’s schedule says otherwise. The work day ends with Sung Joon. You have one day off a week. Again, it depends on Sung Joon «Your main task is to take care of Sung Joon. About his mental and physical condition. Everything else is under my control,» Min Hyuk instructed me, sitting in his work chair, behind which was a wall with shelves lined with Song Joon’s awards.

«Can I ask a question?» I asked, realizing how difficult this job would make my life.

«Ask,» he replied, and prepared to listen carefully to me.

«Why does Sung Joon change assistants so often?» my question caused the general manager to chuckle, after which he thought for a moment.

«Song Joon doesn’t accept anyone’s help. You could say that he doesn’t accept anyone’s care,» Min Hyuk smiled weakly, adjusting his rectangular glasses, which were hiding tired brown eyes. His short brown hair was styled in mousse and, together with a business-like navy suit and black shirt, gave him a stiff look.

I nodded my head to show that I understood him.

«I can go?» I asked, looking at my wristwatch, and realizing that Sung Joon would soon finish his dance practice, which had already lasted three hours.

«Yes. Just one more thing,» he turned to me after some thought, «you have access to Sung Joon’s social media and his apartment. Be careful. Journalists or fans may find out that you are working with Sung Joon. Your association with the CEO may cause a fuss. No one should doubt that you and Sung Joon only have a working relationship.»

«I get it,» I bowed slightly as I rose to my feet from one of the two leather two-seat sofas that sat opposite each other, imagining myself to be a dutiful girl.

«Then here’s your work phone and you can go to Sung Joon.»

I took the latest model smartphone that was handed to me and experienced a slight bewilderment from the fact that in my hands, in the literal sense, there was the personal life of another person with whom I barely knew.

My next stop was Sung Joon’s dance studio located on the fourteenth floor, but before I visited, I went down to the cafeteria on the first floor and bought coffee for myself and cool water for Sung Joon.

«Greetings to all!» I loudly greeted Sung Joon, his dancers and their choreographer, who were sitting exhausted in the center of the dance practice hall, and were discussing something enthusiastically.

The answer was a general greeting and a displeased look from Sung Joon.

«I brought some water,» I handed him the bottle, which he gave him a scornful look, after which he dexterously rose to his feet, at first glance, without making any effort to do so.

«You don’t have to. Don’t make these clumsy attempts. If you want to do your job well, then remember,» he leaned forward slightly and looked directly into my eyes, which made me seriously nervous. His charm, charisma and radiant aura were impossible to resist, but I felt his negative attitude towards me, «I am all these people who work with me. Therefore, if you want to perform your duties well, then show care and precious attention to all these people, don’t touch me!» he said with a haughty grin and turned to his team with whom he had been working for the past few hours, «Thanks for the work!» he thanked them and bowed, and then turned and gave me another indifferent look, after which he left the hall.

I took a slow, deep breath and tried to distract myself with thoughts of what I should do next. The next item on his schedule was to host a live broadcast, during which Sung Joon had to communicate with his fans, after which he was waiting for work in the studio and recording an interview for a local TV channel. So right now he needed to eat.

«Min Hee, don’t worry. You’re lucky that Sung Joon didn’t throw away that bottle,» the young man said to me.

«Yeah, looks like I’m very lucky,» I laughed nervously and bowed to everyone present before walking away.

On the way to the room where Sung Joon was planning to broadcast from, I took another look at the notes I had made specifically for myself about the preferences and routine of my artist’s day.

After ordering European food from the best restaurant in Seoul, I went to one of the rooms to prepare it for the broadcast according to the instructions I received earlier from the general manager. When the food arrived, I left a container of vegetable salad and sliced fruit for Sung Joon, as well as a bottle of water, and attached a sticker that said, «This is your lunch. Please eat it completely. You have a busy day ahead of you» on the table.

I looked around the office and left just as an employee from the technical department entered. Right behind him was Sung Joon.

«Take things from my house for the evening shoot. The code is 170328,» he told me, looking ahead.

«What exactly should I bring?» after a short pause, I asked, to which he only snorted contemptuously.

«You’ll be given everything you need,» he replied lazily and walked forward, smiling affably at the young man who was setting up the camera for the upcoming broadcast, «well, how are you?» I heard his voice, in which for the first time since our acquaintance with him flashed a polite attitude.

How did the assistants deserve his distrust? I would even say hatred. I think I have to find the answer to this question if I want to remain his assistant and reap my own benefits.

On Sung Joon’s minibus, which from today was at my disposal (as well as its driver Jin Young), I went to the elite district of Seoul — Gangnam, to find Song Joon’s apartment in one of the skyscrapers. Once in the right place, I was horrified to find that Sung Joon’s apartment was in the same building as ours. Except our apartment was on the fiftieth floor, and Sung Joon’s was on the thirty-ninth.

The high-rise building with a large and cozy courtyard has been owned by my father for ten years. That’s how much I lived here with my parents. And I could not think that Sung Joon lives very close. I went to school early in the morning and returned home late at night. I knew that celebrities lived in this house and even ran into actors in the elevator several times, but I never met my ward.

When I got to the right apartment, I dialed the code and found myself in a spacious hallway with light walls, a large mirror, a three-tiered shoe rack and a hanger, on which, apart from a huge number of various hats, there was nothing else.

«Oh! I didn’t think you’d get to work so soon!» Suddenly, a male voice burst into my scattered thoughts.

I looked up at the person who had appeared in front of me a second earlier and realization slowly filled my mind.

«You! The guy who blocked my way!» I sighed in shock after I could see the young guy who had been chasing me on a motorcycle a few days ago.

«I’m flattered that you recognized me so quickly. I’m Cho Hee. Let’s get to know each other!» He greeted me solemnly and bowed slightly.

«Who are you? And what are you doing in Sung Joon’s apartment?» suspiciously screwing up my eyes on him, I asked, looking around warily.

«You can think of me as the local Kasin. Here are the things your top star needs,» he handed me some hangers clad in thick fabric cases and a few bags of shoe boxes, «I’d love to chat with you, but I know you need to go because Mr. Sung Joon doesn’t like to wait,» he gestured to the door for me, and without saying a word, I turned around and obediently left the apartment, «Although, you know what…? I need to go too to the agency. Will you give me a lift?» With a charming smile, he asked, calling after me, which made me stop and turn around so that I could look at him, «I’m quick!» The young man promised and disappeared behind the door.

I went down to the minibus, after which I carefully hung things in a specially equipped place in the trunk, and then took the passenger seat.

«Can we go to the agency?» Jin-young addressed me while looking at me in the rearview mirror.

«Let’s wait a couple of minutes,» I called back, contemplating whether or not to trust the guy who called himself Cho Hee, «Perhaps another person will join us,» I said vaguely, looking at the exit from the apartment complex.

«Hmm?» Our driver looked at me in surprise, but I did not have time to answer, as the door of the minibus opened, and Cho Hee flopped into one of the empty seats.

«Hey Jin-young!» He greeted the driver as if he had known him for many years.

«Hello, Mr. Cho Hee,» the driver called and started the engine of the car, after which we drove to our agency.

«Do you know each other?» I couldn’t hide my indignation.

«Who doesn’t know Mr. Cho Hee?» Jin Young chuckled.

«Obviously, I…» I breathed out tiredly and shifted my gaze to the window, beyond which the cityscape flickered.

«If you’re that interested, I can promise that I’ll answer all your questions at our next meeting,» Cho Hee addressed me, continuing to have fun.

I didn’t answer anything, and after a short moment of silence, the car was filled with a pleasant voice that belonged to Sung Joon, and I did not immediately understand where exactly the sound was coming from. It took me a few seconds to realize that Cho Hee was watching Sung Joon’s broadcast.

«…I don’t know if I should talk about it, but… before the end of the year I plan to release an album. I’m currently working on a new song that I’m looking forward to sharing with you! Very soon we will delight you with new content. I wish you all a good day! Take care of yourself, take care of your health, both physical and psychological. I hope to see you soon and… love you! «He turned to his fans with genuine sincerity, which made me surprised and at some point admire him the ability to separate and differentiate the tone for communicating with people from different categories. It looks like he was a good actor.


Cho Hee went to the agency without any problems, and I delivered things for Sung Joon to the studio where he will be interviewed, after which I went to the office from which he broadcast, noting that my ward did not touch the food that I brought him.

My working day ended at ten in the evening (which by local standards was not too late) and I went down to the first floor at the moment when my father called me.

«Congratulations on finishing your first day at work. Waiting for you in the parking lot. We’ll drive home together,» he said into the phone in a tired voice and hung up.

I breathed a sigh of relief, glad that I didn’t have to think about anything other than the fact that I would soon be in my comfortable bed. I felt boundless fatigue, but not from work, but from the fact that I did not know what to do with myself. Sung Joon was invincible. He defiantly did not accept my help, especially in everything related to food.

«How was your day?» my father asked right after I got into his car next to him.

«Long and not entirely clear,» I breathed out.

«You’ll get used to it soon. Have some patience,» he patted my arm encouragingly, «when your schedule isn’t very busy?»

«This Friday. Sung Joon only has a photo session in the morning,» I answered automatically without thinking too much, because due to lack of work, I spent the whole day studying Sung Joon’s schedule.

«Great. Don’t plan anything for Friday night. I’ll cook dinner. It’s been a long time since we spent time together. There’s something to talk about,» my father said as he pulled out of the parking lot below the agency.

«Mom didn’t call?» I asked after a short silence.

«No. She said she’d be writing a book for a couple of days.»

«Well, nothing new,» I chuckled sadly, feeling ready to pass out in the car.

My next two working days were no different from the first. Sung Joon continued to pretend that I did not exist, did not accept any of my help and ignored the food that I offered him. In addition, I accompanied him to a photo shoot that took place on Friday morning, not really understanding why my presence was necessary, because Sung Joon ignored me.

Immediately after the photo shoot ended, I went with Sung Joon to his apartment to check if the cleaning was done, waited for the bottled water to be delivered, which I unloaded into the refrigerator and made sure that my help was no longer needed, after which I climbed onto my floor, feeling relieved and happy that I can rest for at least a couple of hours.

And to relieve tension, I decided to go down to the fitness room located on the first floor of our residential complex and do a full workout.

«Are you boxing again?» Alex’s voice came through the earpiece.

«Uh-huh. I was able to get into the gym for the first time in a week,» I answered pantingly, continuing to methodically hit the bag, which was almost twice as tall and wider than me, «Ji Han opened the gym for me and grumbled because I skip workouts.»

«Judging by the tone of your voice, you are not very pleased with your new job. Starry Olympus is not as bright as it seems from afar?» he asked mockingly, and I began to think over his question, stopping in place. The punching bag pushed me back, and I staggered, then laughed because of my sluggishness.

«What are you doing?» my best friend asked in surprise.

«I… seems to have received an answer from someone I didn’t expect at all,» I answered, still laughing, and patted the pear with exaggerated care.

«So what’s up with your job?» he impatiently reminded me of something he’d asked before.

«They ignore me, but for some reason, this does not anger, but only causes a feeling of pity.»

«Well, I’m sure there’s something to be sorry for idols. I hope you haven’t changed your mind about going through with this deal?»

«No way!» I replied, continuing to box, «I’ll find a way with him. It would be too boring if he gave up without a fight.»

«Well, good luck to you. I have to go. I’ll call you later,» he said goodbye and hung up the call.

I felt a surge of energy and, at the same time, a pleasant fatigue throughout my body. Having collected my things from the locker, I decided that I would take a shower at home, so I went up to the apartment and froze on the threshold from the delicious smell of food burning my mucous membrane. Something hissed appetizingly and I, leaving my shoes in the hallway, walked into the kitchen.

Dad, in home clothes and an apron, skillfully prepared dinner, quickly moving from the surface of the kitchen island to the stove and back.

«Min Hee?» he smiled happily as his gaze lingered on me for a moment, «You’re on time. Get dressed and I’ll be waiting for you for dinner. We’ll have guests, but it’s a house party. So there’s no need for formal wear.»

«I didn’t plan on wearing anything formal,» I chuckled and trudged into my bedroom, which had its own bathroom.

When we moved into this penthouse, I chose the smallest room for myself, which now contained only a large bed, a closet with my clothes and a work desk where I spent my nights.

Under a stream of warm water in the shower, I felt empty that in the last five days I had not once made time for the business that I had been dreaming about for the past few years. My father taught me to dream and to believe that nothing is impossible for me. And it’s not because he and mom had enough power and money. On the contrary, he taught me discipline, dismissing momentary desires and thoughtfulness in everything that concerned my own life. And for that I was grateful to him. The only thing that he could not overcome in any way in me was my passion for fast driving and for everything that caused an adrenaline rush and an emotional outburst in my mind.

I had a plan, and I was not going to let one single person (albeit a very influential one) deprive me of the opportunity to achieve my goal.

I dressed in casual pants and a wide cotton sweater and dried my hair with a hair dryer, finally feeling at home. In peace, comfort and peace of mind.

«You have no idea how much I want to eat!» I exclaimed and entered the kitchen, after which I stopped abruptly and looked at my father in confusion.

«I said we’d have guests,» he excused himself with a shrug, then turned his gaze to Cho Hee, who was looking at me with a smug smile on a bar stool behind the kitchen island. He filled his glass with water and pulled it towards him.

«Hello!» The young man waved his hand at me in greeting.

«What is he doing here?» I asked my father.

«You’re not a very hospitable hostess,» dad laughed and made an inviting gesture towards a place located next to Cho Hee, who handed me a glass filled with red wine.

«Are you still mad at me about that incident in Itaewon?» With a sweet smile on his face, a young man who looked dazzling even in a simple tracksuit addressed me, «Let’s clear our past misunderstandings. And officially introduce ourselves. I am Min Cho Hee, Min Sung Joon’s younger brother. His assistant, loyal friend and singer for MW Corporation. You don’t have to introduce yourself. I already know everything about you,» he smiled, extending his hand for a handshake.

I put my hand in his well-groomed hand and shook it weakly in response, hardly conscious of what he told me.

«So guys, dinner will be ready in five minutes. You can have a little chat,» the father suggested, enthusiastically stirring the fried rice in the pan.

«How do you like working with my older brother? Did he torture you a lot?» Cho Hee continued to have fun.

«No. He didn’t torment me at all. Although no, not like that. He tormented me with his indifference. As the person who knows him best, tell me, does he ever eat at all?» I could not resist asking a question related to my immediate duties.

Cho Hee grinned and took a leisurely sip of water, and then looked at me point-blank, and his grin suddenly changed into a sad smile.

«Honestly, I thought you’d give up on the first day, but… slipping food on him won’t get you anywhere,» he spread his hands out to the side.

«Why? Does he have a special diet?» I was not going to miss the opportunity to unravel Sung Joon’s strange behavior by my standards.

«No. Sung Joon doesn’t eat food that he doesn’t know anything about or gets it from someone he doesn’t trust. I mean, from no one,» he lowered his voice to me, «so you better stop trying to feed him. He and does not drink water if the bottle somehow looks suspicious.

«Don’t you two think it’s not very polite to talk about a person when they’re not here?» Father turned to us and looked at the clock located on the door of our refrigerator. And a moment later, the doorbell rang, «Min Hee, open the door,» the father ordered, arranging the food on plates.

I got up from my seat and walked into the hallway, wondering who it could be. But to my great dismay, it was Sung Joon who entered our apartment without a word, took off his flip flops and went to the kitchen. And from his behavior, I realized that this was far from the first time he visited our apartment.

«Song Joonie, come in. Cho Hee, pour him some wine. Min Hee, daughter, where are you?» My father called me. And I was able to get out of the stupor by closing the front door, after which I trudged to the kitchen and returned to my place. Now between me and Sung Joon was only his little brother, «ok guys, the food is ready,» my father announced in a solemn tone and put plates of fried rice and japchae in front of us, as well as spicy chicken legs that he had just finished cooking.

I felt my stomach constrict in a hungry spasm, and, paying no attention to anyone present, I began to eat, enjoying every portion that I ate.

«Have you not been fed for a week?» Cho Hee asked me through laughter, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Sung Joon poking his little brother in the side with his elbow.

«Why are you speaking informally? Min Hee is older than you,» he grumbled.

«It’s okay. We’re already, you might say, friends,» I tried to defuse the situation, hastily chewing everything that managed to put in my mouth.

«When did you two become friends?» Sung Joon asked indignantly and, for the first time today, looked at me point-blank.

I was slightly taken aback by surprise and could not immediately find an answer, with difficulty swallowing what I had already chewed.

«We have common interests, and we have already met three times in the last week in the most unexpected places. What is this, if not fate?» With a dreamy look, Cho Hee answered instead of me, after which there was an awkward pause.

My father was watching us with interest all this time. It seems that he was pleased with everything that happened in his house.

«Have you been to training?» Dad asked me when the silence dragged on.

«Uh-huh. First time in a week I went to the gym,» I replied and smiled with satisfaction.

«What sport do you do?» unexpectedly for all present, Sung Joon asked me.

«Boxing. Since the age of five,» I answered too quickly.

«Why Boxing?» he voiced his next question.

«Mom says that I should be able to stand up for myself in any situation. It was the choice of her and dad, which I willingly accepted. Now this sport is an integral part of my life,» I said thoughtfully and drank the rest of the wine in my glass, while I got a notification on my phone, «sorry, I have to look. This might be important.»

I looked apologetically at everyone present and picked up my smartphone, which received a message from Alex:

«I congratulate you! The customer is delighted! Your work is a real masterpiece. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for my exhibition!»

I quickly type out a reply thanking my best friend for the words of encouragement. And I note with satisfaction that a couple of thousand dollars have replenished my bank account.

«Did something good happen?» Cho Hee asked, carefully watching my face.

«I’m one step closer to my dream and have successfully completed the work I’ve been working on for the last few weeks,» I proudly replied.

«Are you moonlighting somewhere else? It’s forbidden in the company!» The young man looked at me in fear, «although… your father is the owner, so…»

«…so it doesn’t change anything,» my father announced and looked straight at me. And I saw determination in his eyes.

«It’s not really a job. It’s my hobby,» I said defensively.

«Min Hee, you must abide by the terms of the standard contract,» the father stated peremptorily.

«So you’re suggesting that I give up my favorite thing?» I asked indignantly, ignoring the guests present in our house.

«If you care about your future, you must sacrifice something in the present,» the father replied with a sage air.

«Dad!» I exclaimed, not finding worthy arguments in my defense.

«Any work or training you have must be consistent with the company. You had to read the contract. In fact, you do not belong to yourself. All your actions, decisions, thoughts and feelings are directly dependent on the company. Your movements, even on weekends, cannot be extended to the territory beyond outside of Seoul, unless your immediate duties require it.»

«In other words, you found a way to keep me on a short leash!» I blurted out angrily.

«Think about it how you want,» the father calmly replied with a look of Buddha, «adult life is full of hardships, humiliations and partings. As with people, so with things.»

«Will you give me back my ’horse’?» I demanded, raising my chin proudly.

«No, your mom and I have decided not to return it to you just yet. Consider yourself on probation,» he replied in a reasonable tone.

«It belongs entirely to me! I bought it with hard earned money,» I protested stubbornly.

«That still needs to be checked. Whether they were honestly earned,» my father continued to reason, testing my patience.

«Is that so? Is that what you really think of me?» breathing heavily with indignation, I asked in a voice breaking from an overabundance of emotions.

«No need to make a scene in front of guests,» Dad tried to shame me, but I was not going to calm down, because my life’s work was at stake.

«I won’t say anything else. As for the job… you might have asked me earlier how I’ve been making my living all this time!» Barely holding back tears, I opened a program in which I was working on various commercials, music videos and other videos for customers, after which I placed the phone in front of my father and hurried to hide in my room, not paying attention to the fact that there were strangers in the house, and my behavior could not be called the behavior of an accomplished adult.

But I was angry, offended and did not understand why everything in my life turned upside down in an instant. Overnight, I lost my freedom and took on obligations that did not concern me directly. I have to deal with Sung Joon’s contract quickly, otherwise my future will not be as bright as I imagined it to be.


If you think that a rich person has no worries or troubles, then you are mistaken. The more money you have, the more opportunities you have, the more opportunities, the less free time. The less free time, the less you take care of yourself, which in turn is fraught with irritability, nervousness, problems and the development of phobias. In addition, you have fewer real friends and those you love. After all, it will seem to you that everyone sees in you only a wallet that can solve any problem.

In addition to my parents’ money, everyone saw me as a Russian girl who, quite unexpectedly, acquired a Korean passport, a name, and a not very rich but promising father who was able to build his own empire.

I certainly stood out from the rest of the students at the school. Someone perceived me as something special, while someone, on the contrary, considered me an outcast. I changed several schools and, finally, in the last school I realized that I am an individual, and not because I differ from the main mass of students, but because, regardless of the opinions of others, I was able to make decisions and fight for my place. So I finished school among the best students with the highest scores in mathematics and English. Now I was going to follow my dream, only on the way to it I ran into a wall called Sung Joon, and I could not conquer it.

On Saturday morning, I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed at four in the morning. I cleaned myself up, in accordance with the agency’s rules for assistants. My body was supposed to be free of unnecessarily exposed areas (so I opted for simple denim pants and a hoodie), shoes should be comfortable, and make-up should be moderate. I put my long blond hair in a bun, and put on only sunscreen on my face, noting in the mirror how faded my eyes look, which today have taken on a gray-blue tint. I had fair skin, which often caused the envy of others, but right now my appearance was far from enviable.

After a short preparation, I went down to the parking lot of the house, where the driver was waiting for Sung Joon and me. Our «star» was late, and I felt like I was ready to fall asleep, because all last night I tried to come up with a plan by which I could get Sung Joon to eat, drink and not interfere with my work, but also persuade him to stay at the agency.

«We can go,» the voice of my charge rang out next to me, and I realized that I was starting to fall asleep, so I straightened up in my seat, noting that Sung Joon sat across from me today. He usually took a seat in the very corner of the minibus, «what do we have today according to the plan?» he turned to me and at the same time looked at point-blank range as if he was waiting for me to burst into tears.

«Now we’re going to the agency, there will be shooting for your show. Then dance practice for your new song. After — recording a song for the new album and at the end of the day shooting for the concept of a new song,» I replied without even looking at his schedule, so as I knew him by heart, «about last night…» I broke off and chewed my lips nervously, not looking at him.

«Your relationship with your father and what is connected with your personal life and free time do not concern me. Obviously, your father decided to curb your free soul, and you willingly obeyed. I wonder how he lured you? Money? Fame? Opportunities?» he asked with sincere interest.

«He promised to help me with my studies in America,» I replied, a little embarrassed.

Sung Joon chuckled and shifted his gaze to the window, behind which the sun was rising.

«He always does that. He paints beautifully what he can give you, but he always asks for something in return. Let me guess, you have to make me stay at the agency?» He asked and looked into my eyes. Now there was no makeup on his face, and I could see his black bottomless eyes full of sadness and fatigue, «I thought so,» he chuckled, watching my reaction, «you can not try, I will not stay.»

«It’s your choice, Mr. Sung Joon. One way or another, I still won’t be able to influence him if you don’t want to,» I replied with exaggerated respect, realizing that I could not immediately break his stubbornness.

«Why are you suddenly talking to me formally?» He grinned with the left corner of his mouth and began to look even more charming.

«I’m more concerned about why you started talking to me all of a sudden, Mr. Sung Joon,» I replied, looking straight at him.

«I need something from you,» he said without a hint of embarrassment, continuing to scrutinize me carefully.

«What is it?» I chuckled.

«I want you to show me some moves. I mean boxing,» he clarified after I gave him a puzzled look.

«Ask the general manager for that. He’ll hire a professional trainer for you and schedule your workouts,» I shrugged indifferently, but he didn’t like that answer.

«I need someone who will be patient and not interfere with my personal space in any way,» he tried to explain his request to me.

«Why do you think I’m that kind of person?» I asked through a nervous laugh.

«You have a goal that you want to achieve with my help. And you did not come here to work because of me, which means that you are not interested in me at all,» now it was his turn to shrug.

«Well, that’s a perfectly logical reasoning. It’s not a problem for me. I’ll teach you everything I know myself. Find some free time,» I agreed, but instead of answering, Sung Joon just laughed soundlessly.

«You are very strange,» he remarked as if he found his discovery charming, «at the beginning of the dialogue you speak to me formally, and at the end as if we were friends,»

It’s time to decide who we can be for each other. I think if we work and act together, we can achieve great results,» I concluded in a conciliatory tone.

«Then let’s talk to each other informally. We’re neighbors,» he said on an exhalation and got out of the car, «We’ll train in our free time.»

«Who decided that?» I retorted indignantly as I followed him, «I’m not allowed to have side jobs. You heard that yourself yesterday.»

«Yesterday obviously wasn’t your day. But… I won’t pay you, so… technically, it wouldn’t count as a part-time job. Let me repay you with some help of mine, okay?» He asked, but his question was more like a statement, so I left it unanswered.

We entered the agency building and slowly moved to one of the elevators. I loved spending those early hours in the empty agency building. During the day, vanity will dominate here in every corner.

We went up to the floor where the studio was located, in which the entire film crew gathered for the show in which Sung Joon had been filming for three years. In each episode, he answered questions he received from his fans.

Sometimes he went to places that fans couldn’t afford to visit, and he talked about his experiences in detail and, as a bonus, he always sent an invitation to the same place to the fan who requested Sung Joon to visit such a place. At the same time, the episodes were released much later than the fan visited this place, so there were no spoilers for him.

Today, Sung Joon answered questions and had to prepare a healthy breakfast for himself.

«We need to decide something about the food meant for you,» I announced to Sung Joon as we walked towards the gym where he had a dance practice scheduled right after filming.

«Don’t think about it,» he said grimly.

«It’s part of my job,» I said stubbornly after him, striding right behind him (following yet another agency rule that an assistant shouldn’t walk at the same level as his charge).

«There’s no need to waste food. I won’t eat anyway,» he replied in a reasonable tone.

«Is this a protest?» I asked through nervous laughter, feeling like never before I was close to finding out the reason Sung Joon was refusing to eat.

«Consider that it is,» he chuckled and entered the dance hall.

«You just ate what you cooked…» I objected, but he left my comment unanswered.

I greeted the dancers and choreographers before turning around and heading towards Min Hyuk for our daily meeting. And suddenly I realized that my personal phone number was gone. And I don’t know where he is. I hope my father will return it to me as soon as possible. Now I was not ready to initiate our communication with him.

I ordered lunch at one of the nearby restaurants, after which, on behalf of stylist Sung Joon, I went on my own to get the costumes that local brands provided for him. In them, he will participate in the upcoming filming to promote the new song, which is scheduled for release in two weeks. I took the outfits, after which I drove into the restaurant and proceeded to implement my plan.

«It’s good that your practice is over! I’ve brought water and lunch. Dismantle the containers and bottles,» I announced as I entered the dance practice room.

«Oh, Min Hee, it looks like you took Mr. Sung Joon’s words seriously,» one of the dancers called out to me, a young, thin guy named Lee Hyun, who could light a fire on the dance floor with his energy, «thank you anyway for food!» He bowed in gratitude, and I gave him a polite smile.

I took water for myself and a kimbap wrapped in a transparent wrapper and went to the mirror, where Sung Joon was sitting on the floor with his legs stretched out in front of me and leaning his head against the mirror. As I knelt down next to him, he looked at me in surprise, and then looked suspiciously at the food in my hands.

«What is it?» He twisted his nose contemptuously.

«My lunch,» I answered with a sigh of satisfaction and took a bite, «I’m sorry, I don’t offer you. I know that you will definitely refuse. Therefore, having learned well everything that you told me on my first visit here, I decided to feed all these people that make up you. Let’s consider that you are full when they feel full, «I said, and exhaled in relief, feeling full, after which I unscrewed the cap from the bottle of water and took a greedy sip, and when I wanted to bring the bottle back to lips, Sung Joon snatched it from my hands and drained the rest of the water in an instant.

I raised my eyebrows in surprise, but decided to refrain from commenting, noting how greedily he drinks water. Even at that moment, he looked like he was on the set.

«Get another bottle?» I asked, barely suppressing a smile, secretly glad that he had accepted something from me for the first time ever.

«No. What do we have next on the plan?» Sung Joon asked, wiping his face with a towel that hung on his shoulder.

«Studio work. And filming. Your work day should end at eight o’clock in the evening. Now you have an hour break,» I said, stifling a yawn.

«Then let’s go,» he said, and nimbly got to his feet, after which he strode confidently out of the hall, tossing the empty bottle into the bin along the way.

I hurried to get up and was able to catch up with him only in the middle of the corridor. I didn’t ask any questions as I followed him, as I wasn’t sure he would answer them (silence was his style). Sung Joon ended up taking us to the agency cafeteria, which was located on the third floor. His appearance did not go unnoticed by the other employees, but everyone only greeted him modestly as he walked past them to the distribution.

«Find us a place,» commanded Sung Joon, giving me a quick glance over his shoulder.

I sat down at the first table I came across and began to look around (despite the fact that the room was occupied by a large number of people). The dining room was designed for several hundred people and right now, by my conservative estimate, was ninety percent full. Everywhere there were small tables designed for three, four and five people. Everything was decorated in white and green, which was diluted with fresh flowers and soft bean bags.

Sung Joon placed two trays of the same set of food in front of me and then sat across from me.

«I can’t eat it all by myself,» I glared at him indignantly.

«Only half for you,» he chuckled, and began to watch closely as I proceeded to the chicken soup with rice noodles.

"M...delicious!“ I remarked delightedly and in the next moment my plate was in front of Sung Joon, and to my surprise, he began to eat, „this is the first time I see you eating something. You didn’t even touch the food that my father prepared last night. «This morning doesn’t count. You cooked for yourself,» I chuckled and grabbed a second bowl of soup, hoping it wouldn’t be taken away from me, «but why, I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of?»

«So it is,» he answered in an indifferent tone, not looking at me.

«Even so, I’m still glad I could be of use to you. I don’t understand how you have the strength to do everything,» I shook my head indignantly.

«I don’t focus on myself. I don’t need to think about it. Others do it for me,» he replied again, as if he didn’t care about everything that happened not only around him, but with his direct participation.

«Are you saying that you position yourself in this world as a shell?» I asked in surprise, and only after that I realized what I had said. But it was too late to take back his words.

Sung Joon returned his spoon to the table and lost himself in his thoughts for a moment, obviously thinking about my question.

«I have a soul, but it belongs to your father, and is locked in the walls of this building. My heart belongs to the fans, each of whom sees me the way they want to see. There are millions of Song Joons in the world and the only thing that unites them is my face.»

I swallowed nervously and was horrified at the calmness with which he said everything I heard from him.

«Among all these Sung Joons, there is one. The real Sung Joon,» I tried to cheer him up, «I think your desire to leave the agency is due to the fact that you want to find the one — the real you,» I said with a wistful smile and noticed, how Sung Joon looks at me with undisguised fear on his face and pain in his eyes, «I’m sorry, I think I said something wrong,» I said regretfully, noting that his mood changed so often, so I didn’t know what expect from him in the next moment.

«We need to go,» Sung Joon said instead of answering and got to his feet.

I carried the trays onto the conveyor belt, along which they went to the shop where they washed the dishes, and hurried after my ward.

«Did you seriously talk about training?» I asked as we rode the elevator to the floor where his studio was.

«Yes. We’ll train at night, so come up with something to say to your father,» announced Sung Joon.

«In a month, I will move into my apartment. I will live separately from my parents. Therefore, it will be better if we start training after I move.» I reasoned out loud, to which Sung Joon nodded his head in agreement.

Later that evening I ran into my father again in the kitchen. He was drinking wine and browsing the news on his tablet computer.

«You’re early today,» he stated as I walked to my room without even looking at him, «shall we talk?» he suggested and I stopped where I was, then slowly turned my head in his direction.

«About what?» I asked, getting ready to defend myself.

«Sit down, Min Hee,» he motioned me to an empty seat separated from him by a kitchen island. I walked over to the high bar stool, but sat down not on the seat my father offered me, but on the one next to him, which made my father chuckle, «you never do what you’re told.»

«No one said I’d be easy,» I breathed back tiredly.

«I did not hope for it. Otherwise it would not be you. You do not have my blood, but there is a lot of everything that you adopted from me. Persistence. Purposefulness. Judgment,» father stated proudly.

«So you only wanted to talk about that?» I asked impatiently, not sharing his philosophical attitude.

«Decided to give you back your phone,» he replied and took my smartphone out of the inside pocket of his jacket, «Alex has been trying to reach you all day. I said you left the phone with me. He asked me to call him. Are you dating him?» he suddenly asked, while carefully watching my reaction to his question.

«No,» I chuckled and shook my head, «this is the son of my mother’s friend. You know yourself. He lives in America.»

«Distance is not a problem. It dissolves under the influence of feelings. Are you sure that there is nothing between you? Perhaps you want to move to America because of him?» His father asked in a calm but suspicious tone.

«The only person I want to go for is myself. There is no need to look for any catch. I just want to follow my dream. Like you once followed your dream. Like my mother, who still tries find your own «I.»

«A dream,» his father chuckled sadly, «is such an abstract concept that it is not in our minds, but the thought of it makes us move forward, forgetting about what everything was started for from the very beginning. You have a goal. This is commendable. But consider if it’s worth it. And if this is really your dream,» he smiled and reached across the table to pat my hand, «Mom said hello to you. She promised to be back soon.»

«Uh-huh,» I said indifferently and got to my feet, then went to the refrigerator and took out a bottle of cold coffee, which I didn’t really like.

«Today I heard interesting rumors,» his father said with a heavy sigh, «for the first time since Sung Joon has been working at our agency, he appeared in the dining room with his assistant. And the most interesting thing was that he shared his lunch with her.»

«That came as a surprise to me too,» I replied as if I was trying to justify my indecent behavior, «Song Joon refused to eat all the time, and today he decided to go there himself.

«Well, it’s commendable that you’ve become friends, but don’t let it get out of hand. Take control of yourself, your feelings, emotions, and Sung Joon’s mind. You might make a good team after all.»

«Thanks for the advice and guidance. I have to go. Tomorrow morning, we have a shoot for a youth clothing brand,» I breathed tiredly, drained the contents of the bottle and trudged to my room, where after forty minutes of explaining and retelling the events of my life to Alex, I was able to fall into a deep sleep.


«The key to your motorcycle, and the key to your apartment. You will only pay for utilities. Do not break furniture, do not throw parties at night. Be a good girl. Eat on time, and… do not forget about us,» my father instructed me.

«You sound like I’m leaving for the other side of town. I’ll be living just a few floors below,» I laughed, looking at the code numbers for my new apartment, written in my father’s even handwriting on a small piece of paper, «thank you for keeping your promise! "I kissed him on the cheek, took the key to my «horse» from the table and hurried to the parking lot, «I’ll transfer my things to a new apartment in the evening!» I called out before leaving my parents’ apartment.

For the first time in several endless working weeks, I felt the currents of the wind with my skin and how speed is subject to me. My father said that my «iron horse» had passed technical care and now he thanked for it with his smooth roar of the engine and smooth movement on busy city roads.

When I pulled into the agency’s underground parking lot, I occupied a vacant spot, and while taking off my helmet, I noticed Sung Joon rapidly approaching me, just after leaving his minibus.

«What it is?» He asked furiously, kicking the front wheel of my vehicle.

«This is my iron horse,» I answered without hiding my pride.

«You do realize it’s dangerous, don’t you?» he asked, shocked by his discovery.

«I try not to think about it. And I don’t advise you. It’s also dangerous to breathe nowadays, so my hobby is no different from your daily habits. In general, you don’t need to worry. If something happens to me, without an assistant they won’t leave you,» I smiled, sliding off my iron friend.

«How can you talk about it so easily?» He asked indignantly.

«Relax you!» I laughed as I headed for the elevator, «just a month ago you didn’t even want to look at me, and now you’re worried about my safety. Besides, isn’t it me who tastes food for you?» I continued to laugh, «and never complained about it. I almost forgot! We can start training. Today I’m moving into a separate apartment,» I announced smugly, feeling that I was on the threshold of my new life.

«I hope you don’t stop coming to work on time now. What area are you moving to?» As if casually, he asked.

«My new neighborhood is closer than you think,» I chuckled, «I’ll live a floor lower than you live.»

Sung Joon raised his eyebrows in surprise and thought for a moment.

«Then you don’t have to ride that motorcycle and put your life in danger?» He asked hopefully.

«You should be so worried about your little one, not about me. He drives even faster than me,» I chuckled.

«He rode a motorcycle? Where did you see him?» He shook his head in annoyance, and I realized that I created a problem for Cho Hee in the face of his older brother, «I have a job in the studio right now. I need to finish the song, so you can hang around the office for a couple of hours. If I need anything, then I’ll let you know,» he suddenly changed the subject, arriving in thought.

«Okay,» I agreed and exited the elevator on the floor where Sung Joon’s manager’s office was. Even though it was early morning now, I’m sure he was already here.

«Oh, Min Hee! Come on in. I was just compiling a list of addresses that Sung Joon received gifts from last month,» Min Hyuk smiled as if he was sincerely glad to see me.

I looked around and found hundreds of boxes, letters and gift bags that filled his office.

«Wow! Is this all from fans?» I asked admiringly as I sat down on the sofa, where I could barely find an empty seat.

«These are just the ones that have come down to us. In general, we try to accept everything and respond to fan letters fairly quickly. Feedback is important. Both for us and for the people who send all these gifts,» Min Hyuk breathed out and threw on me a sympathetic look. «Today, Sung Joon will be at the agency all day, so your job for the day will be sorting out the letters and sorting out the presents. You need to do it in two days at most, as Sung Joon has to sign letters that will then be sent to his fans. But this will be taken care of by the deportation of public relations. In addition, select ten letters that Sung Joon will personally answer. Arrange the letters by topic: thanks, requests, wishes, and so on.»

«Okay,» I replied and tried to smile, not imagining how I could deal with this on my own. I would rather be running errands for Sung Joon.

For a month of working with Sung Joon, we were able to find a common language and coexist peacefully without violating each other’s personal space. Sung Joon is a complex, I would say closed person who has certain characteristics. For all the time we did not discuss anything other than work, but the more I was in his environment, the more I was imbued with sympathy for him and understood why he was stingy with the manifestation of emotions. With his pace of life, it’s hard to remain polite and courteous, but he somehow manages to do not only this, but also maintain energy and generate ideas.

I decided to start with the most difficult, so I started with paper letters, of which there were hundreds. Written by both girls and boys of all ages. They mostly wrote about how they love and admire Sung Joon. They ask him not to stop there. In the initial stages, I came across a couple of letters in which the fans threatened to hurt themselves if they found out that Sung Joon was in a relationship, and wrote that he was their life and they would not let him love anyone other than them. The tone of the letters was so persuasive that it took me a moment to digest what I read. I pushed them aside to show Min Hyuk. I’m sure the agency should respond to this in some way.

I grabbed a bottle of water and a biscuit dessert from the vending machine, then went up to the roof of the building, feeling a little tired from having plunged into Sung Joon’s life. He was responsible for all the people who called themselves his fans. And I could hardly imagine how much strength he needed for this.

Watching the noisy city from above, I thought about the fact that success is an unbearable burden for a person, and they need to share with others so as not to go crazy and drown in the madness that is happening around. I felt really sorry for Sung Joon and hoped that he could find a source of energy because I would have to force him to stay at the agency.

Back in the manager’s office, I continued sorting the letters. At some point, someone sat down on the sofa next to me and, looking up, I found Sung Joon in front of me.

«Hey!» He waved his hand at me and smiled tiredly. «I hope you haven’t been here all day. Looks like you did. Aren’t you going home?» He chuckled, leaning forward slightly to look at the contents of one of the stacks of letters, while I tried to discreetly push the stack of threatening letters under the table.

«No. I want to finish today with at least these letters from fans.» I smiled tiredly and glanced around the office, as if showing that I still have a lot of work to do. «What are you doing with all these gifts?»

«I know that toys are sent to shelters, hospitals and other institutions. Something goes to the museum, which is located on the first floor of the agency, and something is sorted out by the employees themselves.»

«You don’t take anything for yourself?» I asked surprised.

«No,» he answered quickly, and pretended that all his attention was focused on the letter in his hands. «I look at the list of gifts and thank the fans on social media, noting the most interesting and unusual ones.»

«Interesting system,» I breathed out, feeling dryness in my eyes.

«I don’t have any system. I just don’t like gifts,» he stated.

«It’s usually the other way around. People love gifts.»

«Who said I’m an ordinary person?» Through weak laughter he asked.

«I didn’t even think about it,» I laughed, but then I looked at him, deciding that I should share my thoughts with him. «On the contrary, every day I get more and more confused about who you are, what you are, and most importantly, until today I could not understand why you work so hard.»

«And what prompted you to think like that?» He asked, looking at me point-blank with genuine interest in his eyes.

«In all these letters…» I glanced at the piles of sorted envelopes, "...sincere words of gratitude and love for you and an expression of admiration. You give hope, heal souls and help people overcome difficulties, surviving in endless problems. Your departure from agencies will be a personal tragedy for many. But at the same time, I realized how hard it is for you. You bear the burden of responsibility for all these people.»

«If that’s how you tried to convince me to renew the contract, then it turned out exactly the opposite for you,» he laughed, leaning back against the arm of the chair. «Why did they make you do this? Normally, the PR department handles sorting.»

«I’m not complaining. It was an interesting experience. Only my back was a little stiff,» I answered, unable to suppress a yawn, and straightened my back, hoping that my fatigue would go away.

«Leave everything and let’s go home,» Sung Joon commanded. «Looks like you were going to move into a new apartment today.»

«I have to finish so I don’t have to come back here tomorrow. Minhyuk gave me two days for everything.»

«He went on a business trip with your father. They won’t be back until Wednesday evening. Tomorrow I have a free afternoon, so I can help you,» Sung Joon promised and covered his mouth with his hand to cover his yawning.

«Why are you so friendly?» I asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

«I never touched on this part of the work. Therefore, I will help you with pleasure, but… on the condition that you go home with us, and not on your own, so to speak, transport.» Curving his face in a grimace of disgust, he put forward his condition, to which I rose to my feet and stretched blissfully.

«I don’t see any reason to refuse,» I smiled weakly and followed Sung Joon to the door, and then remembered that I had left my things on one of the nightstands, so I returned and suddenly heard something falling, and when I turned around in fright, found Sung Joon lying unconscious on the floor.

«Song Joon!» Frightened, I ran towards him. «Song Joon!» I called, but he did not react at all and at the same time looked so pale that I doubted whether he was alive.

I called our agency’s duty doctor and tried my best to bring Sung Joon back to his senses. At the moment when the male doctor rushed into the office, I was sitting on the floor and begged Sung Joon to regain consciousness.

The doctor, using some liquid from a small bottle, brought Sung Joon back to consciousness, and I breathed a sigh of relief, feeling tears flow down my cheeks.

«The car is already waiting. Can you get there? Are you strong enough?» The doctor addressed him.

«Uh-huh…» Sung Joon breathed out as he struggled to his feet.

I held him by the elbow and helped him finally get into a stable position, after which I led him to the elevator, which took us down to the underground parking.

«Hold on to me,» I suggested, still holding on to his elbow. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and I could feel how weak he was right now.

Not without difficulty, we got to the car, where the door of the minibus was already open for us. I helped Sung Joon into the seat and, despite his feeble attempts to protest, buckled him in with my seat belt, then took my usual seat, keeping my charge in sight.

«Stop staring at me. Burn a hole in me.» He spoke to me in a weak voice.

«Do you want water?» I asked and fussily began to search in my bag for a bottle of water that had been started. I opened the bottle and handed it to Sung Joon. He accepted the bottle and inspected its contents warily, and I could tell from his expression that he was dissatisfied with the fact that they had already drunk from it. «Seriously? Even in this situation, are you squeamish?»

«Only you drank it?» He asked warily.

«Yes, just me. I opened it in the evening and took a couple of sips. I bought it from the machine. Jin-young, do you have any disposable cups?» I turned to the driver, frantically trying to find a way out of this situation.

«Yes, I’ll give it to you now,» the young man began to rustle and after a moment handed me several glasses, while we stopped at a traffic light.

I thanked him, then poured water into glasses, one of which I handed to Sung Joon, and the other I kept for myself and hurried to drain it. Sung Joon waited until I had a drink, after which he himself began to drink water in careful sips.

«How do you feel?» After a long silence, I asked.

«It’s better. You have nothing to worry about. It’s normal.» He exhaled wearily.

«We arrived.» Jin-young announced as he braked smoothly in front of the hospital building.

I got to my feet, after which I helped Sung Joon get out of the car and realized that we had stopped not at the main entrance, but at the service one, where they were already waiting for us. The doctors acted so harmoniously, as if this was not the first time, in addition, Sung Joon was absolutely calm.

Me and Jin-young were left waiting in the room reserved for Sung Joon while he himself was being examined.

«We need to tell the manager,» I reasoned out loud, looking out the window at the city shining with various lights, after which I took my work phone and started typing a message to Min Hyuk, when suddenly someone snatched my smartphone from me.

«No need to tell anyone!» Sung Joon told me, after which he went to the hospital bed and carefully lay down on it.

«I have to report that…»

«Min Hee, just go home. Jin-young, take her home.» Sung Joon spoke indistinctly as if he had no strength left at all.

«No. I’m not going. I’ll stay with you,» I protested and left the room to talk to the doctor, who was just on his way to Sung Joon’s. After greeting him, I asked him to give me a short conclusion regarding Sung Joon’s condition.

I listened attentively to the doctor and felt how with every word he said I was getting more and more angry, and when I received all the information, the doctor and I entered Sung Joon’s room, who was lying with his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

«Mr. Sung Joon,» the doctor addressed him and my ward carefully sat down, «now you will be put on a drip.» After these words, a nurse suddenly appeared, hiding her eyes from our superstar, as if on automatic mode, stuck a needle into a vein on his arm and hurried away. «As soon as the solution is over, you can go home.»

«Thank you,» Sung Joon thanked, after which he returned his head to the small pillow.

I saw the doctor off and went back to the room to sit in the leather chair from which I could look at Sung Joon.

He lifted his head slightly, obviously noticing my gaze.

«Something you want to say?» He exhaled wearily.

«I’m struggling to contain my anger and rage, realizing that now there will be no sense from the fact that I will tell you everything I think.» I answered, nervously tapping my foot on the floor surface.

«And what do you think?» He asked, looking at me point-blank with a look full of sincere interest.

«I’m angry. You lied to me. Yesterday you had a busy day, and you didn’t eat anything at lunch, but only looked at me and said that you were fed on the set. Today you lied when you said that you had lunch. So you Haven’t eaten anything for two days? I summed it up in amazement.

He took a deep, slow breath and nodded his head, confirming my suspicions.

«It’s not the first time, so don’t worry about it. And don’t think that you’re in any way to blame.» He answered in a muffled and still weak voice.

«At a moment like this, you still think about me,» I chuckled sadly, feeling tired and regretting that Sung Joon had to go through this.

Our eyes met again, and I suddenly realized that I felt sympathy for this amazing young man who is trying his best to hide his good heart behind a wounded soul. The sadness in his eyes made my heart clench painfully. And it seems that right now I’m starting to get to know the real Sung Joon. And I was afraid that he was hiding his wounds, the depth of which, it seemed, could not be measured.

I knew I should look away, but I couldn’t control myself until I got a text from Alex on my phone. I blinked in confusion and took out my personal smartphone from the pocket of my denim jacket. A friend wrote that he was preparing a surprise for me, and very soon I will hear from him about this. I couldn’t help but smile and quickly typed out a reply saying that I was looking forward to hearing from him about it.

«Did something good happen?» Sung Joon suggested in a suspicious tone.

«Nothing special. Best friend made himself known,» I replied, returning the phone to its place.

«Are you close to him?» He asked, covering his eyes.

«We have been friends for almost twenty years. My mother and I lived in his parents’ house in America when I was three.»

«And the father?» Sung Joon continued his interrogation, lying with his eyes closed.

«I don’t remember him. And I know absolutely nothing about him,» I replied, looking at my fingernails, which were about to be repainted and shaped. Due to work, I abandoned myself a little and did not care about my appearance.

«There was no desire to find him?» Sung Joon asked with sincere interest.

«There was a desire. And there is. But I can’t do it. My mother told me as a child that this topic is forbidden. There are no photographs or records about him. I don’t even know his name. Only my Russian name is Alina,» I shared my thoughts with him, and when I came to my senses, I noticed that Sung Joon was looking at me sympathetically. «I’ll call Jin-young. I’ll ask him to come back,» I said to hide my awkwardness, and then got to my feet and went to the table that was located next to Sung Joon to take my work phone from it. But Sung Joon gently grabbed my hand halfway to the smartphone.

«Don’t call him. I’m not going home today.» Sung Joon smiled weakly.

«Do you want to stay in the hospital?» I asked in surprise, stepping back a step, carefully disengaging myself from his soft grip.

«No. I just want to be somewhere, but not at home, at work or here.»

«I can’t leave you. You understand?» I asked, continuing to stare at him.

«So you’ll have to spend the night with me,» he replied in a tone that brought a blush to my cheeks.

«These are the inconveniences caused by fair skin,» Sung Joon laughed, «your embarrassment showed on your face right away. I’ll help you with the move. Let’s not disrupt plans because of a small misunderstanding,» he explained his words about this we will spend the night together.

«Because of a little misunderstanding?» I asked indignantly, «You passed out from exhaustion!»

«Just forget it. The drip is over. We can go,» he stated as he removed the needle from his vein, then got to his feet, bending his arm at the elbow.

I got my things and followed him to the reception desk.

«Do you have your bank card with you?» Sung Joon turned to me, and I blinked in confusion, after which I began to look for a wallet in my bag. And after finding a map in it, I handed it to Sung Joon. A moment later, I received a notification about the withdrawal of funds.

«What? Two and a half million won?» I asked shocked.

«I’ll get everything back. I don’t want the company card to glow here. Because Min Hyuk will get a notification right away.»

«We must inform him of what happened…»

«We don’t owe anything to anyone,» Sung Joon interrupted me irritably in the middle of a sentence, adjusting the medical mask on his face. «Let’s go. We need to get to your new house,» he announced and handed me the map, put on the hood of his sweatshirt and led us towards the service exit, where, surprisingly, Jin-young was waiting for us.

«Song Joon!» He yelled out happily as he left the driver’s seat to open the door for us. «I didn’t leave because I found out they were going to let you go home.»

«Good. You did well,» Sung Joon praised him and, on the way to his seat, patted his assistant on the shoulder, «Let’s go home,» Sung Joon announced to Jin-young, but at the same time he was staring at me point-blank.

This never-ending day will not soon come to an end, but concern for Sung Joon overcame my fatigue and anger.


«Thought you’d have more stuff,» Sung Joon chuckled as he placed one of the two boxes of my stuff on the small coffee table in the living room of my bright and airy two-room studio.

«Didn’t think you were thinking stereotyped,» I replied as I walked out of the bedroom, where I had finished hanging my things in the dressing room a minute earlier.

«None of these templates work exactly for you,» he grinned, leaning his shoulder against the wall and looking at me point-blank with an exhausted look.

«You should go home. And please eat something,» I pleaded with Sung Joon.

«Only if you keep me company,» he replied in a playful tone, and pushing off the wall took a few steps in my direction. Now we were separated by only a few steps.

He was taller than me and that gave him an advantage. I looked at him from the bottom up and for the umpteenth time this evening felt awkward. Sung Joon took a cautious step towards me and reached out to touch my eyelashes with his fingers. From such an unexpected gesture, I froze in place and could not take my eyes off his exhausted, but still beautiful face, which radiated sincere interest.

He ran his fingers down my cheeks and took another cautious step towards me, closing the distance between us to a minimum. I knew that our closeness was dangerous, but I wished that he would not stop, but instead gave me a forbidden kiss.

«Song Joon, you have to stop,» I barely audibly called to him in a broken voice and took a step back, hiding my eyes from him.

«I don’t want to stop. For the first time in my life, I don’t want to do this,» he said in a languid voice, stepping on me until I was back against the wall. He continued to hover over me, «but… I’ll only do this because I can’t take responsibility right now,» he stated regretfully, and after a heavy pause, he turned around to head to the living room.

«Nothing like this should ever happen again!» I screamed after him, feeling the tension caused by Sung Joon’s closeness slowly leave my body, leaving weakness and disappointment in its wake.

«I will be back in ten minutes!» He shouted to me from the hallway, after which the door closed behind him.

I was so angry at myself for not being able to resist his pressure. And with horror I realized that my sympathy for Sung Joon was growing into something more.

Realizing that my strength was not enough to sort out the remains of things, I lay down on a small double sofa, looking ahead of me with an unseeing look. In just a couple of hours, all my thoughts got confused, the landmarks went astray, and my peace of mind collapsed.

The door squeaked to announce that Sung Joon had returned, and I got up to find two paper bags in his hands.

«I’ve brought groceries. Now let’s cook dinner together,» he announced as he made his way to the kitchen.

«Why don’t you go home? Cho Hee is waiting for you.»

«He has a meeting with friends,» Sung Joon replied as he explored one kitchen cabinet after another, «hmm, your father even prepared dishes for you. But that’s not enough,» remarked my guest who didn’t seem to be leaving.

«Min Hee, would you like to help me? This will go faster,» Sung Joon called from the kitchen, after which I leisurely walked over to the countertop, where one of the two bar stools was located to sit on it. Sung Joon washed the vegetables and then handed them to me along with a cutting board and a knife, «Let’s make fried rice with vegetables, do you mind?» He turned to me, looking at me over his shoulder.

«I’ll eat whatever you cook,» I shrugged nonchalantly and started slicing carrots, «should have just ordered delivery.»

«I don’t eat food that I don’t know the origin of,» he repeated what he had once told me.

«Why?» I asked, but he left my question unanswered, and I decided not to focus on this, surrendering to the simple process of cutting vegetables.

«My obsession… because of my mother,» he replied after a long silence, «I don’t trust food that I don’t know anything about, for fear that it might be poisoned,» he said without looking at me, while continuing to fill rice cooker with raw rice, and then filled it with water.

«Are you saying that…?» With horror, I began to put forward my assumption.

«Yes, my mother fed me poisoned food,» he said quickly, hiding his grim expression from me.

«Song Joon, this is…» I couldn’t finish the sentence as there were no words that could ease his suffering.

«You don’t need to say anything. I just explained my strange actions to you.»

«I never thought that your actions were strange. Well, okay, at first, maybe I thought, but then I realized that you must have some good reason for this.» I reasoned as if I was alone in the apartment, which made Sung Joon smile weakly.

«I know that food is not dangerous for me, but I can not overcome my fear. Especially if I get this food from people I do not trust,» he continued to decipher the code, the key to which I had been trying to figure out for so long.

«Wait a minute!» I blinked in confusion and swallowed nervously, frantically searching for words, «The fact that I’m tasting food for you. Should I take that as…?»

«I trust you,» he finished the sentence for me and turned so that he could look into my eyes, «consider this my official admission that I like you. And if you think it’s impossible, then it’s bad. First of all, for you,» he confidently stated, to which I raised my eyebrows in surprise, «because I will try my best to fix it.»

«Then you’ll get yourself in a lot of trouble and break millions of hearts,» I stated with a heavy sigh.

«For the first time in my life, I care about my own heart and feelings. And I want to be selfish. I want to be with you because you make me better.»

«Perhaps you actually feel my attention that I give you as part of the work, so you feel that we are close?» I suggested, trying to contain the excitement and palpitations caused by his words.

«Do you think I can’t sort out my own feelings?» He smiled sadly, frying vegetables in a frying pan, which I successfully finished chopping, «before you, I had thirty-five assistants, each of whom entertained the hope of getting my attention, but… this whole illusion dissipated on the very first day. None of them succeeded and still can’t fill my thoughts and feelings the way you did, didn’t make any effort.»

«I can’t believe we’re talking about such serious things like this sitting in the kitchen,» I laughed nervously.

«I’m just stating the facts,» he shrugged nonchalantly.

«And what am I supposed to do with these facts now? You do understand that we can’t work together. One of the conditions was that I must not, under any circumstances, start a relationship with you.»

«Only with me?» He asked, raising his eyebrows in surprise, but trying unsuccessfully to suppress a smile. «What a pity! It looks like your father will suffer losses when the truth comes out,» he laughed, but I didn’t appreciate his sarcasm, «let’s not quarrel before meals. Better look for glasses for the mineral water that is in your refrigerator.»

I obediently carried out his order, pouring water into glasses while Sung Joon placed a plate of fried rice, a plate of vegetable cuts, and pickled radish kimchi in front of me.

«Thanks for the food!» I sincerely thanked, trying to ignore the fact that Sung Joon was sitting next to me, but at the same time I glanced at him from time to time to make sure that he was really eating.

«You can relax. Today I’m going to enjoy my meal with you,» he chuckled as he caught another quick glance at me.

«You should have let me have lunch with you,» I told him regretfully, realizing that we could have avoided our trip to the hospital.

«We’re having dinner instead,» he remarked gleefully, popping a spoon full of rice into his mouth, «so take it easy. Tomorrow we’ll have a long day.»

«I’m not taking you with me,» I announced decisively and shook my head. «You will go to work according to your schedule. The doctor said that you need to get a good rest.»

«I rest when I am near you,» he said without a hint of embarrassment.

«Song Joon,» I called out to him, putting the spoon aside, «why do I get the feeling that you see me as a lifeline?»

«To a certain extent it is. You save me from loneliness. I think when you understand what makes your heart flutter, you can admit your feelings for me,» he shrugged and continued to eat.

«Hmm, how presumptuous!! I snorted contemptuously and took a sip from my glass of water to hide my awkwardness.

«Well, I think it’s time for me to go home. Are you sure you won’t be afraid to stay here alone tonight?» He asked, peering intently into my already glowing face.

«I’m often alone. My parents are on business trips most of the time. So just go home,» I pleaded, getting to my feet to walk him to the door.

The ease with which he spoke about his feelings unsettled me, and I did not quite understand how I should react to this, but I knew that I could not afford to succumb to Sung Joon’s love provocations in any way.


The next morning, I found Sung Joon’s housekeeper Ms. Jung Eun in my kitchen, arranging new dishes in my kitchen cabinets.

«Miss Min Hee, I’m sorry for barging in like that without warning, but Mr. Sung Joon insisted that I deliver everything to you immediately,» a middle-aged woman with a sweet smile and dark hair tied in a high, tight bun apologized to me. There was not an ounce of makeup on her face. At the same time, her skin was perfectly even and had a bronze tint. Her miniature figure now and then flickered with various items of utensils in her hands, placing them in their places in the cabinets even at the moment when she spoke to me.

«I understand. Thank you,» I smiled wanly, feeling tired despite having slept for almost six hours.

«Miss Min Hee!» Ms. Jung Eun called me and I stopped half way back to my bedroom, «Mr. Sung Joon sent you food,» she pointed towards the refrigerator.

I slowly walked over to the refrigerator to look inside and found several containers of various sizes filled with edible contents.

«Thank you,» I replied in shock, feeling slightly dizzy at what was happening.

It looks like Sung Joon has seriously decided to violate my personal boundaries. I need to change the code for the apartment.

I got to work on the subway and walked into Sung Joon’s manager’s office, unable to contain the flow of thoughts that brought me back to the events of the previous evening. Sung Joon’s hunger swoon is not something I could understand and accept so easily. His eating disorder was due to trauma, and it was terrible. It was utterly unfair to him. And I sincerely wanted to help him overcome his painful memories, but will he allow me to do this? And will it solve the problem with his contract? And what will I do if his feelings, about which he spoke to me yesterday, are not an empty phrase?

«What are you thinking about?» I shuddered at the piercing, velvety voice of Sung Joon, who carefully sat down on a nearby chair, handing me a glass of warm tea. «I know that you are not a coffee drinker.»

«Thank you,» I replied, trying not to look at my charge any longer than necessary, as his presence embarrassed me.

«Did you have breakfast?» He asked in a businesslike tone, continuing to stare at me inquisitively.

«What about you?» I answered a question with a question and plucked up the courage to look at him in response. Sung Joon nodded his head in the affirmative and drank from his glass, it seems, coffee. «You shouldn’t have bothered Miss Jung Eun.»

«I asked her for a favor. It was the first time. And she seemed to be delighted,» he smiled and winked playfully at me.

«Thanks. But that’s not necessary anymore. I don’t need your tutelage,» I said, but it actually sounded like I was trying to convince myself of this, not him.

«I just decided to thank you in this way for yesterday. Besides, I understood well that you drew a line in our relationship, so I’m not going to cross it, so as not to put you in an awkward position,» he said conciliatoryly, and I felt ashamed that I admitted that his words caused me disappointment. «Let’s get to work? I have to go to the studio in three hours,» he smiled, peering into the first box he saw.

We looked at all the gifts together and even took a photo to share with fans of Sung Joon carefully examining the gifts received, after which we went down to the dining room for lunch, and then Sung Joon went to work in the studio, and I returned to the letters. When the task was almost completely completed, Min Hyuk entered the office.

«Min Hee, you did great! To be honest, I wasn’t sure if you’d make it on time. You’re doing well. And Sung Joon is pleased with his assistant for the first time. What can be compared to a real miracle,» he continued to praise me on the way to the work chair, and I rose to my feet and looked at him guiltily.

«It’s not like that,» I answered stifledly, and swallowed nervously. «Mr. Min Hyuk, I have something to tell you,» I swallowed the lump in my throat, feeling extremely embarrassed and guilty. It all happened because of my negligence.

«What’s wrong, Min Hee?» He was instantly alert.

«It’s about Sung Joon,» I replied in a barely audible voice, «he was admitted to the hospital last night.»

«What are you saying?» He exclaimed angrily and frowned, scorching me with his brown eyes.

I plucked up the courage to tell him everything that had happened yesterday, knowing that I was doing the right thing no matter what.

«You should have reported this to us right away! If anyone saw you, Sung Joon would get into a scandal! Do you realize how imprudent you were?» I nodded my head guiltily, hiding my eyes, but at the same time I fought with myself, as I was outraged that the possibility of Sung Joon appearing on the news worried the general manager more than the health of the agency’s leading artist. «You think that your father is the owner of the agency, so you can be negligent in your duties?»

«Do you think I’m waiting for your indulgence?» I could not contain the fit of rage, «if I did not feel guilty, I would not tell you anything. So please do as you always do in such cases. I will accept any punishment that is provided for in our contract. I followed all your instructions regarding fan gifts and wrote everything on the sheet. The same list is available electronically in your mail. With your permission…» I bowed to him and hurried to leave the office, holding back tears with all my might, although I understood that this whole situation was not worth my worries.

I did not expect that everything would take such a turn. Feeling offended (which was not typical of me) and tears coming to my eyes, I hurried to a cozy balcony, the exit to which was only accessible through the meeting room located on the fifteenth floor, hiding my burning face behind my hair and trying not to look at someone who might get in my way.

Tiredly plopping down on a small sofa located under a glass canopy, I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands, feeling the events and people around me press on me. I did not think that this work would touch my feelings and affect my emotional component so much.

«You rushed past me so fast that I didn’t immediately realize it was you,» Cho Hee’s mocking voice rang out, and I turned to look at him. He walked over to the couch with a smile and, at a safe distance from me, gracefully sat down beside me, «it’s hard, isn’t it?»

«What exactly?» I asked, continuing to look at him. Despite being tired, Cho Hee looked quite happy.

«Working with my brother is hard?» He clarified and looked at me with a sad smile in response.

«No. I wouldn’t say that,» I shook my head, wrapping my arms around my shoulders, «it’s hard to watch him deliberately deprive himself of health and happiness.»

«Song Joon was against it when he found out that I want to debut in a group as an idol. We even had a fight. And the more I’m here, the more I understand why exactly. He worked hard to give me what he doesn’t have He took care of me since he was eighteen. He replaced my mom and dad. Cooked breakfasts, attended meetings, picked out school uniforms and supplies. And all so that I was happy and did not feel lonely. But I know that all this time he himself was alone. And he truly deserves everything he has. Especially the love of the fans. But… this love is so ghostly and elusive that it is not so easy to feel it. Besides, if they knew the real Sung Joon, they wouldn’t have squealed like that when they saw him,» he chuckled, obviously remembering some events in his life with his older brother, «but after you appeared, he began to change.» After these words, Cho Hee’s smile became wider, «No matter what you are thinking now, no matter how much you hate everything that happens to Sung Joon, do not leave him if you care about him. Because you also began to change after you bonded with my brother. And now you two have a real chance for mutual love.»

«For your age, you’re too advanced,» I laughed, and was distracted by my buzzing phone. «Sorry, I have to answer,» I said and got to my feet to answer Sung Joon.

«The work day is over. Are you going home?» Without further ado, he addressed me from the phone.

«Later. I still have business here,» I answered, but when I wanted to end the call, Sung Joon continued to speak.

«Where are you? If you’re still not finished with the letters, I’ll help.»

«No. I’ve finished everything. Just… stay here for now,» I answered vaguely. Cho Hee waved goodbye to me and hurried off, «Good evening. See you tomorrow,» I said goodbye to Sung Joon and ended the call, looking down through the glass railing at the schoolgirls who were chanting my charge’s name.

How sincere is their interest in Sung Joon? What makes them go crazy with love, knowing that he is not available to them?

«Is this your urgent job?» Sung Joon’s mocking voice rang out next to me, and I turned around sharply at the sound of his voice, «Did something happen to you? Usually people come here to think about something. Have you thought about me?»

«I hate to disappoint you, but I was thinking about myself,» I replied and smiled weakly.

«I’m not sorry. On the contrary, I’m glad that you care about your feelings,» he announced with a smile and stopped just a few steps away from me.

«Did you change the color of your hair?» I asked in surprise and before I knew it, I reached out my hand to touch his soft ash-blonde hair, «I like it,» I hurried to share my emotions, and when I wanted to remove my hand, he suddenly grabbed it and pulled me to him, to hug.

«Song Joon…» I protested and tried to free myself from his grasp.

«Don’t say anything. Just stay with me like that for a couple of minutes,» he pleaded, bending down so that his chin rested on my shoulder.

«If anyone sees us…»

«That won’t happen. Don’t worry,» he told me, pulling away slightly, but only to run his fingers over my face, «if you’re worried about things like that, we can wait until my contract ends. There’s only about nine months left.».»

«It’s not just about your contract,» I replied regretfully and looked away, «I’m going to leave Korea.»

«I can ride with you,» he announced in a rather serious tone.

«No. You can’t. You have to renew your agreement with the agency.»

«I don’t owe anything to anyone,» he said in a calm but firm tone, stepping back a few steps from me, «are we going home?»

«I’ll come home on my own,» I tried to politely refuse him, to which he shook his head negatively and, taking my hand, pulled me towards the exit, «don’t pull me, Sung Joon. I’m ready to go with you.»

Sung Joon stopped, and before releasing my hand, looked into my eyes and smiled with satisfaction. At that moment, he seemed to receive the whole world as a gift. But even without that, he belonged to him. Just like my heart and the heart of any person that he would only want.

When we went down to the parking lot, I looked longingly at my «horse» and only after that I got into the minibus. When we got home, Sung Joon, to my surprise, followed me to my apartment.

«Aren’t you going home?» I asked in surprise, but in response he only shook his head and, bypassing me, went inside, where Cho Hi was waiting for us.

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