Chapter 16 - Please Take Care Of Do Ook
Act 3 – Contract Marriage
Chairman Choi quietly passed away at the break of dawn.
Though he had kept up the appearance of good health lately, he was still a late-stage cancer patient. He had lived three years after being told he wouldn’t last one by his doctor. Cheong Yang Daek sobbed as she said that he must have had no regrets in passing away now.
The funeral was solemn but it progressed calmly. Starting from the early morning, a long line of celebrities gave their condolences to Do Ook and Sun Ha, giving neither of them a moment to rest.
However, even if she’d had a moment of respite, Sun Ha still didn’t feel she would have been able to sleep. Her face grew shadowed as she thought about the last words Chairman Choi had said to her.
“Child, please take care of Do Ook.” Before he finally passed away, he sent everyone except her out of the room, and he used all his effort to barely speak those words to her.
Hearing the last, earnest wish of the old man on his deathbed, Sun Ha could only nod, completely choked up.
Sun Ha couldn’t tell him the truth in the end. Guilt weighed heavily on her mind since she knew that Chairman Choi still thought she and Do Ook were a normal married couple.
However, she simply couldn’t bring herself to relieve her burden onto someone that was going to pass on. She could only repeatedly apologize to him in between sobs. She knew, though, that apologizing to the old man wouldn’t absolve her in any way after lying to him for the entirety of her marriage.
It seemed Chairman Choi had lost the ability to speak, but he used his waning strength to lift his hand and tap the back of her hand as softly as a feather. It was as if he was trying to tell her everything was fine with that one touch, though it could be that she simply thought that due to how much she wanted relief from her guilty conscience.
Sun Ha would never know for sure what he meant though, as he passed on soon after that. Now, the funeral procession was underway.
“You’re hurt?” Do Ook asked, suddenly, looking down at Sun Ha and pulling her arm close.
“Well…” Sun Ha trailed off.
The haphazardly placed Band-Aids that covered her finger and palm looked unsightly. As she tried to hide her hand behind her, Do Ook put strength in his grip and pulled her hand, ripping off the thoughtlessly placed Band-Aids. Since Sun Ha hadn’t bandaged the wound well or disinfected it, it had not begun to heal properly and still gaped open.
“Ah.” Stinging pain swept up her arm and through her body as the Band-Aids were ripped off, and Sun Ha wrinkled her nose involuntarily.
“Go and have it treated,” Do Ook said.
“It’s fine, it’s nothing seri…” Sun Ha couldn’t complete her sentence as she felt Do Ook’s cold gaze on her and just closed her mouth. No one in the whole world could out stubborn him when he had such a vicious expression on his face, so Sun Ha gave up. “All right. I’ll go right away.”
Dressed in mourner’s black, she politely excused herself. She had only taken a few strides when she glanced back to see Do Ook staring at her worriedly. After that, she continued on with heavy steps.
As she stepped out into the hallway, the heavy sounds of winter reached her. Violent winds powerful enough to strip the leaves from trees wailed against the windows. It had been around this time of the season when she had met Do Ook for the third time.
Yes, she had always ended up meeting him again just as she was about to forget about him.
Summer, fall, then winter. It was fascinating how she’d met him with each passing season. It was so pathetic she could laugh, but at the time it had felt like fate and made her heart race.
The warmth of his hand on hers still lingering, Sun Ha had a melancholic smile on her face as she recalled her third meeting with him.
The winter sun was waning as it drenched the tall buildings with golden light, flooding the streets.
Sun Ha hated the cold that was numbing the tip of her nose. Wearing a clean old muffler, she quickly scurried out of the university campus. She tried her best to straighten her back and keep a bright expression on her face but she couldn’t chase away all of the feelings of depression that had invaded deep within her heart.
“Sun Ha, I’m going to get married next year.” Kyung Min called her suddenly from an unknown number. It was the first time he’d called in two years, and he was completely drunk. Perhaps that was why he couldn’t tell what he should say from what he shouldn’t.
Sun Ha’s mood, until then perfectly calm, shattered to pieces.
With slurred, hard-to-understand words, he kept bringing up memories of them together. It was already a mess, to begin with, and when Sun Ha had decided to coldly ignore him, it got worse.
He went so far as to spill a sordid truth, “I think I was more reluctant to give you up than any of the other girls I dated because I didn’t go all the way with you.”
She was so dumbfounded that she couldn’t even pretend to laugh. Had she been completely blind back then? How could she have loved a man like that?
As Kyung Min made sure that she got rid of even the minute amount of feelings that she had left for him, instead of feeling angry, Sun Ha just pitied her past self for ever falling for him.
She gave Kyung Min as much of a cold shoulder as she could, but he asked her to meet him for the first and last time before he got married, promising he wouldn’t ever contact her like this again.
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