Chapter 10 – The First Woman (2)
… … …
“Where do you want to get a job?”
“Me? I’ll work for Grasshopper Boilers.”
“Oh, that’s unusual. Why there?”
“I keep track of its earnings and its prospects are bright. Everyone looks down on it as a company that makes boilers, but it owns 47% of the market. Last year it was 44%, but it grew by 3%.”
“Wow. You know all the details.”
Minho, who was listening to the conversation, tried to hold back his chuckle.
“And what about Minho?”
Never in his life had he thought about employment. He initially wanted to say that he would work for an affiliated company of Eunseong Group, but instead he said,
“I want to be a civil servant.”
“Ah! So you want something stable. Civil servants are great though.”
“And what about you, Ju-eun?”
“I want to work for the Eunseong Group.”
Dongsik laughed and looked towards Minho.
“Talk to Minho about that then.”
Minho glared at him, but Dongsik evaded it.
“Minho’s father is in the Eunseong Group. He’s very high up.”
“How high up is he? Director? Can you tell me?”
“Around the level of director?”
Dongsik glanced at Minho.
“Wow, Minho, you must eat from gold spoon.”
“The spoon is used for eating rice,”
Minho joked and took a drink. He glanced at the bright, bob-haired Ju-eun from time to time, but his eyes were always drawn back to Jiyeon.
She had a dark expression. What was her problem? Did she get dumped?
Jiyeon, who had been drinking silently without joining the conversation, was shaking slightly.
She looked pretty wasted.
Minho spoke to Jiyeon while the other two continued their excited chatter.
“You should stop drinking.”
Jiyeon looked up to focus at Minho. Her wet eyes seemed to contain the night sky. That was the most beautiful, unforgettable image of that summer night nine years ago. Jiyeon exploded at him angrily.
“Who are you to tell me not to drink? My boyfriend, huh?”
Her irate expression and tone of voice was new and intense to him.
Minho could handle this.
“Do you want me to be your boyfriend?”
He said smoothly. He was in his mid-20s and already had many girlfriends by then. Without exception, the women were the ones to rush to throw themselves at him. This was the first time Minho made the first move on a girl. Which, by the way.
Ahhhh…was he being rejected? Jiyeon downed the rest of her glass. She tilted her head at at him.
He saw the Milky Way in her eyes.
“Do you believe in love?”
The question was like a sharp dagger in his chest. This woman who was asked out… This woman who was asked out but refused… This woman who asked him about love… It was all his first.
This was his first time hanging out with a young woman who wasn’t a celebrity or part of a conglomerate family.
Minho thought he was too young to talk about love, yet here was a girl who was only five years younger than him who asked him if he believed in it. He didn’t know what to say. Why would she ask him that?
Jiyeon got up from her sitting position.
She left the group and staggered away.
“Hey! Jiyeon! Cha Jiyeon! Where are you going?”
Ju-eun broke off her conversation with Dongsik to stand up and follow her.
Although Dongsik called out to her, she didn’t even look back.
“So close. It was fun while it lasted,”
“Oh well. Hanging out with common girls is fun too.”
Dongsik’s choice of words irritated Minho’s eardrums.
“Common? So you’re nobility now, boiler house son?”
Dongsik was stunned into silence by Minho’s serious look.
Minho and Dongsik were drunk and couldn’t find their way back to the yacht, and there was no response from their friends and the models who were partying there. Minho and Dongsik slept at a nearby hotel instead.
Dongsik wanted to go out for another round of drinks but Minho declined, instead showering and the drinking whiskey alone in the hotel suite.
The night view of Busan’s coastal waters and the Gawngan Bridge was as spectacular as any international city, but his thoughts kept turning back to the girl he met at the beach.
He could not forget that face that boldly turned down his invitation. He felt foolish, then angry, and then all that emotion changed into curiosity.
Who on earth was she?
The next day he asked Dongsik for Ju-eun’s number, but Dongsik hadn’t had the chance to get it. Minho roamed the crowds of the beach, filled with thousands of people, looking for her.
He did not give up. Twenty years old. The name Cha Jiyeon.
He found her with those two pieces of information.
With all the resources of Eunseong Group’s intelligence department behind him, all pictures of “Cha Jiyeon, 20 years old” from across the country were retrieved. Twenty-one photos in all. Among them was her.
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