Chapter 4 - Third Time’s a Charm
It didn’t end there.
Heerak dyed his hair.
At first, he dyed it an ivory color. It lasted less than two weeks. His hair looked almost white under the light—this amused his father, but his mother had a problem with it. The terse message from his mom that said “Son, I like that you look awesome doing anything. But I think you would be more awesome if you knew some restraint,” sent shivers down Heerak’s spine and he quickly compromised.
While photos of his siblings in stiff suits appeared on economy magazines, Heerak’s shiny, bright brown hair swept away various media outlets. It wasn’t long until Heerak became the center of attention.
He was 188 cm tall and had well-maintained, fair, and clear skin. He had a bright impression and good looks, and could even be considered beautiful. Swathed in high-end designer clothes and accessories, Heerak looked ready for the runway and attracted everyone’s attention.
His unprecedented path stretched on.
Heerak used social media proactively. Every first day of the month, Heerak would have the first taste at his family restaurant’s salad bar, as its executive director. He posted the obvious “I like this month’s theme. Amazing,” but he also posted comments like “I think there will be a split in preferences for this month’s menu,” or “Not really to my tastes. People who like spicy food might agree with me.” That wasn’t all. Heerak also exposed his private life on social media. They included pictures of him drinking beer in his penthouse terrace past midnight, or him shaking in joy when the supercar that he was waiting for finally arrived.
The masses showed a very positive reaction to his side of Heerak.
Heerak’s lifestyle was on such a different dimension that people felt a sense of detachment. Instead of feeling inferior, more people were curious about Heerak’s lifestyle. The lives of the children of leading conglomerate families and famous businesspeople were always so secretive. The masses thought that they would continue to live in secrecy. Heerak shattered that perception.
Heerak wrote things like “I’m kind of hungry, so I came to the convenience store. What’s good? There are too many things that look good,” and people would comment with their favorite packaged meals and sandwich recommendations. Heerak listened to some of those recommendations and uploaded a photo of his purchase, along with his review of it.
He accepted all the interviews that came in for him. In exchange, he sent a letter to all the news outlets that he would accept interviews on the condition that they exclude all headlines and text that illustrated him as an “heir,” “third-generation chaebol1South Korean “wealth cliques” or “rich family.” They have family-owned conglomerates with subsidiary companies across several industries.,” or “successor” as the last son of the chairman of HW Group. He did that for his siblings’ peace of mind and for his future going forward. The media faithfully obliged.
The economy and entertainment magazines attached keywords like “young legend,” “a new wave,” and “unrivaled presence” to Heerak. To take it further, he did not hesitate to make TV appearances. On cooking variety shows, he would say things like “I think pouring the sauce over tangsuyuk2This is a Korean-Chinese dish with deep-fried, crispy pork or beef. It comes with a sweet and sour sauce. There is a big debate over whether the “best” way to enjoy the sauce is pouring it over the dish completely, or by dipping the meat in the sauce as you eat. is inhuman,” or “I’m on team tteokbokki3A spicy, stir-fried rice cake dish, one of the most popular street foods.. Soondae4A blood sausage, stuffed with glass noodles and glutinous rice, sometimes with vegetables. This is also a popular street food. is always number two when there’s tteokbokki,” which made people laugh and marvel at him.
Everyone loved this easygoing and amicable “young and beautiful executive director.” Eventually, he was able to have his name on the top of most lists about favorite businesspeople, most influential figures, and so on.
As time slipped by, he reached the final destination of his blueprint.
Heerak was able to open his own shopping mall, his life goal, earlier than expected. He originally planned to open one in his mid-thirties, but he was able to achieve this dream in his early thirties.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening of his mall had a long queue of media outlets and onlookers who wanted a glimpse of the handsome director. Heerak expressed his gratitude to those people. From beginning to end, smile without falter, he was generous with his handshakes and hugs and accepted all requests to take photos as long as time allowed.
Everything ran smoothly. Of course, when he recalled the café, he swelled up in anger, but it was now to the point where he could ignore it. He simply thought this was one of the hardships he had no control over.
But this time.
This time, for once.
“I slept with a beta. Can you believe that?”
Heerak muttered, and Seokchan broke out into a smile and retorted, “How many more times are you going to say that before you’re satisfied?”
“I mean, I just can’t understand it at all.”
Like most people, Heerak liked delicious things. To him, delicious things included “omegas.”
Due to his long-term plans, he had sex but never dated anyone. If he wanted to, he could easily sleep with anyone, but problems could crop up just as easily. Heerak made a few partners just so he could regularly have sex with no strings attached. All of them were dominant omegas with strong pheromones. They were fragrant and by embracing them, he could immerse himself in their sweet scent. In bed, these omegas released pheromones that were more delicious and enticing than anything else.
It was fine even if there was no exchange of emotions. With leisurely sex, Heerak and those omegas could always intoxicate themselves in each others’ dominant pheromones and spend a satisfying night.
Sharing a bed with a beta itself was not the problem. It was not as if he did not know any alphas who had sex with betas before. However, to those alphas, that was just another special delicacy and far from a sincere exchange.
Heerak did not have a special one-time fling with a sober mind—what shocked him was that he unexpectedly asked a beta to bed, in a drunken stupor.
He couldn’t use the “I was seduced by your pheromones” excuse for that night’s debacle. There must have been some reason or something he reacted to. There must be something that explained why he randomly hit on a beta while inebriated, but he just couldn’t figure out what it was, and that bothered him to no end.
That wasn’t the only thing that bothered him. To put it badly, the omegas he spent the night with all were in his class. Someone might ask if class mattered if it involved a simple hookup, but Heerak would say they didn’t know what they’re saying. He believed that it was a safe bet for birds of a feather to flock together in order to leave no seeds for future trouble.
This time was different.
That beta had nothing to lose even if the events from that night leaked, but Heerak’s position was different. If someone were to spread rumors that he devoured an employee after drinking to oblivion, he was sure that the good reputation he worked hard to build would crack.
Seokchan, who was quiet for a while, suddenly threw a question.
“Speaking of which, how did the conversation go?”
“He said he wanted 40,000 won.”
Heerak made a forced laugh. Seokchan tilted his head and pressed on.
“Sorry? 40,000 won?”
“Yeah. Isn’t that a riot? He said he’s fine, so if anything, he wanted us to split the motel fee.”
Seokchan faltered and glanced at Heerak.
“That’s pretty amazing of him.”
Heerak briefly recalled the face of the man who demanded 40,000 won from him. He burst out in laughter.
“I think so too.”
“In addition to what Manager Moon said about him when I spoke with him briefly, I got the feeling that he was a decent person. I don’t believe that he would be someone who would go around blabbing about that night.”
“What are you saying? Do you really want me to just give him 40,000 and leave it at that? Are you kidding me?”
Seokchan grinned bitterly and answered.
“I meant that I don’t think there will be any further troubles, so you don’t need to put in more effort to keep him quiet.”
“On what basis? I can’t trust him. I’m going to give Mr. Doseon Yoon something in the end, no matter what.”
“Tsk,” Heerak clicked his tongue.
This left a bad aftertaste. He wanted to tie up the loose ends quickly.
* * *
He walked in silence.
With every step forward, he couldn’t stop the laughter from coming out. Heerak massaged his temples and pursed his lips. It was no use. He couldn’t help but make a wry smile.
His secretary’s brief echoed in his head loudly.
‘His answer is the same today. Doseon Yoon refuses to meet with you.’
Heerak was in the middle of having lunch with his sister. It was an excellent choice to take the call outside, in the hallway. He just could not control the emotions from showing on his face.
He couldn’t appreciate his steak at all. Heerak rushed to finish his meal, and as soon as he was done, he told his sister that he had to attend to something urgent and left. He hustled to Hodie.
At Hodie, there was the manager and the employees, plus customers who came and went. There were too many watchful eyes, and he could not underestimate the power of gossip, so it wasn’t the ideal meeting place. He needed a place that was segregated from the eyes and attention of others to carry on with the negotiation.
From the information he gathered, Doseon’s day off was Thursday. Heerak ordered Seokchan to arrange a meeting on a Thursday at all costs. Heerak was being considerate in his own way. And of course, he didn’t think that he could carry out a proper discussion by grabbing someone who just got out of work at one in the morning.
Heerak also pushed back his entire Thursday schedule. He wasn’t sure what time would work best for Doseon, so he freed his day so he could work with Doseon’s schedule.
On his first attempt, Seokchan said “It didn’t go well.” That was quite a shock. He didn’t think he would be refused. He was rendered speechless for a fleeting moment. He couldn’t give up there. Heerak instructed Seokchan to keep contacting Doseon until he said yes.
Flash forward to today, Wednesday.
It was the third time that Seokchan brought news of failure.
Heerak couldn’t stand it any longer.
‘You ignore my invitation three times? Hah!’
It was amazing that he even had the patience to be rejected three times. He also thought he was being considerate enough. Now, Heerak was beyond enraged. He felt like the slightest agitation would set him off.
Heerak thought it was a good thing when Seokchan said he was with Doseon at Hodie. He ordered Seokchan to book the VIP room that was pretty much exclusive to Heerak. He gave additional instructions to tell Manager Moon and the other employees to not even step a foot near that room. Seokchan could carry out these instructions easily, but he would not be able to stop the other employees from thinking that something was off.
None of that mattered to Heerak right now. Just until a few days ago, things like his reputation were very important to him, but now, he couldn’t care less about what people thought. He felt like if he did not sit Doseon down to have a few words with him, he would not be able to soothe his rage.
Heerak yelled as he burst into the VIP room at the end of the eighth-floor hallway.
“Yes, Executive Director.”
Doseon, who was sitting on the couch, stood up and bowed politely, greeting him. Heerak huffed, catching his breath as the door behind him slammed shut. Although he caught his breath, his anger did not subside. Rather, seeing the other man straighten his back to meet his eyes with an expressionless face made his rage boil over.