Chapter 10 – Heart of Apollo
A large jaunty figure of a man was making its way down the hallway. He hummed along his gleeful strides but stopped as soon as he met a slight distraction. Jae-won, who was heading to the head office of Daejin Department Store, ran into a woman on his way.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” was his quick apology.
He took a step to the right, making way for the woman. Oh, but the woman also stepped to the right. He then moved to the left, oops, those delicate feet mirrored his movement.
What a ridiculous situation! Straight out of a movie! Jae-won smiled awkwardly and raised his head to look at the woman. She was looking back at him.
He felt dazed for a moment. The woman whose eyes met his was a great beauty. Jae-won stepped back without realizing it, feeling himself sinking into the depths of her eyes, which twinkled as bright as the stars.
“Thank you.” The woman gratefully said before bowing her head.
Even with her departure, Jae-won’s feet were nailed to its place; his gaze followed the woman walking away further in the distance.
Who is she? Does she work here? I’m sure I saw her leave the General Manager’s office.
“Director Lee? What are you doing here?”
It was Ji-soo Kim, secretary to Si-yeon, who snapped Jae-won out of his reverie.
This lovely woman was also the nanny who had been taking care of Si-yeon since she was a child. Once her ward had grown up and donned the professional hat, she was promoted to the position of secretary. For this, Jae-won knew her very well, too.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Kim. It’s been a long time since I saw you at the engagement party. Is Si-yeon inside?”
“Yes, sir. What brings you here?”
“I came here to deliver a gift,” Jae-won said humorously.
“Oh, the gift from the Seo family.”
After seeing the present that Jae-won was holding, Secretary Kim hurriedly opened the office door which revealed the Si-yeon sitting at her desk staring at something.
Noticing her friend’s presence, she looked up. “What’s up?”
Jae-won lifted the piece of artwork he’d brought along and showed it to her. “Here’s your engagement gift.”
Delighted, Si-yeon rose from her seat with a glow on her face. She came over to him, hitting the floor rhythmically with her stiletto heels.
“Is that Delacroix? Seo family’s personal collection?” Si-yeon received the painting from Jae-won and carefully unwrapped it.
“By the way, how long will Tae-jun stay in that boss’ position? Is he trying to make it to 10 years? He’s already engaged, so he should change a little now.”
“Well, that’s up to him. To be honest, the title doesn’t matter. He is the next chairman anyway and already has all the power to make practical decisions. Now, he seems to be putting pressure on the executives. Like I’m watching you guys.” Jae-won imitated Tae-Jun’s cold, dark gaze.
“He’s amazing anyway.” Si-yeon shrugged her shoulders.
Letting his gaze wander, Jae-won noticed scattered pictures on the desk. He picked one.
“What’s this? It looks like a sculpture.”
“That is a sculpture I recently bought for the VIP lounge.”
“Did you buy it again?”
“What do you mean again?”
Si-yeon, the heiress of Daejin Group, was interested in art, even though she took up management lessons. It had started as a rebellious streak to make use of her father’s fortune to the fullest but then, by the time she took charge of the department store, she began to graft her interests with business.
And her exquisite artistic sense made a big hit. She had a flair for this. Creating a gallery inside a department store, selling the works of famous artists in the lobby and sponsoring new artists were all projects undertaken by her.
Above all, she was a materialistic woman. She spared no expense in collecting paintings and sculptures she deemed as decent pieces of works.
“You bought another one which was a billion-dollar picture a few months ago. How much is it this time?”
Si-yeon took a moment to answer Jae-won’s question. “12 million.”
“12 million won? That’s good. You know, your usual spending is…”
“12 million dollars. You better wait until I finish my sentences.”
Jae-won was lost for words. Since childhood, he was influenced by his mother, the gallery director and took art lessons in vain. In the world of art, he was a hopeless case. Delacroix’s work, which Si-yeon had longed for, didn’t impress him at all. What he saw in the picture now was not something marvelous either. The sculpture was a half-body of a woman, her feminine parts obscured by leaves. He was shocked at its price.
“Are you crazy?”
“My VIPs spend hundreds of millions of won a year, and only luxurious, high-quality artworks in the lounge can satisfy them. That is the most famous one in America right now, after Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst’s works.”
“No matter how famous it is, this unfinished looking artwork is worth $12 million?”
She put her hands on her waist and grumbled. “It’s not incomplete. It’s perfect! It’s called ‘The Heart of Apollo.’ Look at the subtitle below.”
Small letters were inscribed on the statue’s base which read “Apollo’s Broken Heart.”
Those words rang a bell and Jae-won recalled one of the tragic myths he happened to read during his school days.
Apollo, one of the twelve gods of Olympus, was the god of music, poetry, art, the sun, reason and a great warrior. Also a patron of archery, he’d mock the god of love Eros* for his use of bow and arrow.
Upset by the constant ridicule, Eros decided to avenge himself. He prepared two arrows: a gold and a lead. There, he shot Apollo with the gold arrow, making him fall madly in love with Daphne, a nymph of the forest and here, he shot Daphne the lead arrow making her hate Apollo endlessly.
[T/N: Eros is the Greek god of love and sex. His Roman counterpart was Cupid “desire”. Here we’re talking about the very cherub with that symbolic bow and arrow in hand, making people fall in love.]
With that began, literally, the love-hate saga. Daphne’s deep-seated hatred for Apollo drove her farther and farther away from him, but the god never ceased chasing her. And at the moment she was finally caught by Apollo, Daphne pleaded her father to turn into a laurel tree to escape him. His love ended up destroying her.
Broken heart of Apollo….
Jae-won mumbled to himself, studying the painting.
“Then, is this half-woman Daphne?”
The statue that looked sad in some ways, reminded Jae-won of the woman with impressive eyes he had just encountered.
Immediately, a boyish grin emerged on his lips. “So, I just bumped into someone while I was coming here.”
“Oh, Miss Yuri Han?” Strangely, her name matches well with her appearance, he thought. She looked as exquisite as an expensive crystal. [T/N: Yu-ri (유리) means glass/crystal in Korean.]
“What does she do? Is she your employee?”
“No, not our staff. I told you before, right? She is Roy Jean’s assistant.”
“What was Roy Jean’s assistant doing here?”
“She is going to take care of ‘Heart of Apollo’, which originated in the United States until it is installed in the lobby of the Daejin Department Store. Today, she stopped by for actual inspection.”
“Don’t you think Roy Jean should be here when that amazing work costs around $12 million? What kind of assistant takes this big event?”
“He has a restoration job in Japan, and I couldn’t wait for him to be finally free and do his work here. Anyway, Yuri is an assistant recommended by Roy Jean. She also participated in the ‘Heart of Apollo’ work.”
Si-yeon stopped talking as she realized something.
“Oh, you’re interested in Yuri, aren’t you?”
Jae-won flinched at her guess but immediately cleared his throat and avoided her searching gaze.
“I only saw her once just now.”
“You always fall in love at first sight. Come to think of it, Yuri is your type.”
“Long, skinny, white girls. You used to have the nickname ‘model sucker’, didn’t you? You only like fair and thin women.”
“That was a long time ago.” He frowned, “This is exactly the reason why having an old friend who knows your past is not good.”
Si-yeon giggled, seeing the red hue adorning Jae-won’s cheeks.
“Unfortunately, you’d better give up on her.”
“Why, is she married?”
“Not that point, but there’s a rumor that Roy Jean and her are having a quite special relationship. Assistants in this field usually are expected to be lovers of the artists they work for. It is too obvious. They actually travel together.”
Jae-won was a little disappointed because as his old friend had just pointed, she was indeed his type.
Even so, he didn’t mean to meddle in other people’s love affairs. He didn’t want to attract troubles. When it comes to life, work and love, he always preferred smooth sailing. That’s why he moved into his mother’s family side to avoid his father’s company, where he had to compete fiercely with his brother.
As a matter of fact, his dating life had always been ‘successful’. Of course, there were times that he met turbulence along the way, but the break-ups never caused him any problem.
He never chose a complicated woman. Hence, the beautiful woman who caught his attention not too long ago was just a passing wish. Jae-won smirked and got rid of the image of the woman in his head.
T/N: You can support Apollo’s Heart here. Want to read more? Be a patron and get access to several advance chapters immediately:
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Chapter 11 – Bizarre Obsession (1)
Chapter 12 – Bizarre Obsession (2)
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Chapter 13 – Lost Memories (1)
Chapter 14 – Traces of Her
Chapter 15 – Mistake (1)
Chapter 16 – Mistake (2)
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Chapter 17 – The Substitute (1)
Chapter 18 – The Substitute (2)
Chapter 19 – Disillusioned Love (1)
Chapter 20 – Disillusioned Love (2)
Chapter 21 – The Witness
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Chapter 22 – Choices