Chapter 3 - All for 40,000 Won
In any case, Heerak needed to end this conversation. He could no longer continue when his head was pounding and he felt miserable.
“Doseon, if there’s anything you want from me, feel free to tell me.”
“Anything I want from you?”
“Yes, cash is fine. A car or a house is fine too. There must be something I could do for you.”
Anything was fine.
As long as the request wasn’t so ridiculous that he would yell “Are you kidding me?!” Heerak had a mind to grant whatever it was that the other man wanted. And whatever that may be, as long as he could exchange it for a single document affirming that Doseon would never bother him about what happened that night, this issue would be solved. Although since he could not erase memories, he would have no choice but to smile bitterly whenever the memory resurfaced.
After some thought, Doseon said in a determined voice.
“I already got what I wanted.”
“You got what you want?”
Did Seokchan take care of it already?
A faint smile spread on Heerak’s lips. Seokchan was quick to do his job, but he didn’t think he would be this fast. He did not think that Seokchan would have already sat down with the other party and went ahead with negotiations before Heerak had the chance to speak with him.
“Did you make a deal with my secretary? Before I came?”
“No, that’s not what happened.”
The serious and stoic face softened just a bit. It was when Heerak was observing the hesitant, downcast eyes that Doseon opened his mouth again.
“To be honest, I have never slept with anyone before. You were my first, Director.”
Heerak bolted up from his seat.
He was so shocked that he stood up unconsciously. Doseon looked up at him with dull eyes. Heerak sat back down. The best he could do right now was to try and keep his face straight.
‘He was a virgin? This is driving me crazy, f*cking hell!’
If Doseon said something old-fashioned like telling him to take responsibility for his first time, Heerak was sure that the calm façade he was barely managing would break down.
“When you grabbed my hand that night, one thought crossed my mind. I thought, when else would I get the chance to sleep with someone like you in my lifetime? I felt extremely fortunate that I could have my first experience with someone like you.”
Before, he was speechless because of the absurdity of the situation. However, now, he had no idea why he couldn’t say a thing. He could only continue to listen with his mouth gaping.
“You might consider that night an unfortunate accident. I am truly sorry about that. But to me, I was left with a good memory of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m very grateful for that.”
At the end of his speech, Doseon bowed slightly.
Heerak stared at the man in front of him with a dumbfounded face. Doseon looked like he was waiting for Heerak to tell him to go back to work as usual.
“It was a good memory for you. That’s it? The end?”
Heerak finally said. Although he could manage his facial expressions, he could not hide the astonishment in the tone of his voice.
“Should I need something more than that?”
“I think I would feel better if there was something material involved.”
‘Because it would become extremely annoying and bothersome to deal with if you changed your mind later.’
Heerak pushed down the additional comments that were on the tip of his tongue and instead spat out a bunch of sighs. That was all he could do. But no matter how many times he sighed, he could not get his discomfort to go away.
“You want to pretend this never happened, right?”
He was wondering what Doseon would say, but he was taken aback again. At this point, Heerak thought Doseon was amazing. How could he ask this without so much of a blink of an eye?
Heerak hesitated for a moment.
His hesitation was brief, but that made Heerak annoyed at himself to no end. He angrily rubbed at the furrows in his forehead.
Doseon nodded as if he expected that answer.
“Then let’s do that.”
At the questioning look from Heerak, he added, “Nothing happened that night. You don’t need to do anything for me.”
Doseon’s eyes seemed to ask, ‘That’s all, right? Is this over?’
Heerak turned his head away from those eyes.
‘What’s this now?’
What a rollercoaster of unexpected emotions.
He felt like his pride was hurt because he seemed to have lost the upper hand of the conversation. Also, he felt like he was the only one feeling stunned by this situation, which drove him up the wall. What he disliked the most was that it felt like he was the one desperately jumping around and the other offered to compromise and do as he wanted, to calm Heerak down.
“How can you expect me to believe you? You could say one thing today and another tomorrow, no? Just receive something, anything from me. Let me feel better.”
Heerak said in desperation. Doseon seemed to think hard about it.
“Then I’ll receive 40,0001Approximately $36.36 USD (December 2020). won from you.”
What was this random number? Heerak asked back, feeling dumbfounded, but Doseon nodded seriously.
“Yes. The motel fee that night was 80,000 won.”
The last thread of Heerak’s sanity snapped.
He leaned forward, head in his hands.
Laughter came out. To be exact, nothing but laughter could come out.
It was strange that someone like Heerak, who only ate up omegas, slept with a beta. But this man was even stranger. This beta kept saying unpredictable things.
Even when he was tasting the bitter things in life, he never once thought that he wanted to turn back time. He was always optimistic and considered all experiences to have an immaterial value.
Today was different.
Today, all he really wanted was to go back in time. It would be so nice if he could go back to that night before anything happened.
Nothing came to mind in the situation he was in right now. He also felt like he needed some time to think by himself.
Heerak decided to finally tell Doseon what he wanted to hear for a while now. He said in a weak voice.
“You can go back to work…”
“Yes, sir. I will take my leave then.”
He heard the other man leave without hesitation.
Heerak finally managed to lift his head to watch the other man as he left. It was hard to see this man, dressed in a white dress shirt and black pants, as the same person as the naked man he devoured that night. Plus, his voice and attitude were composed from start to finish. He could hardly believe that this man was the same person from that night.
Where did that cute person, whose neck turned red from interlocking hands, go?
Heerak clicked his tongue and let out a deep sigh.
He felt sorry for Seokchan, but he was determined that from now on, he would call his secretary when he became drunk, even if it was the weekend.
He did not want to have this strange experience again.
* * *
Heerak Cho, 32 years old.
The fourth child of Heetak Cho, HW Group’s chairman, and a superdominant alpha.
He expressed his disinterest in succession for the company as soon as he graduated from university. He wanted to immediately step away from his siblings’ unimaginably bloody feud for the top spot. His father adored his clever youngest son, who was not too overwhelmingly intelligent but not too lacking. He sincerely wished that his youngest son would participate in the battle for the rights of company succession as an excellent marplot. Obviously, he was against Heerak breaking away and tried to dissuade him.
Deviating away from the succession battle wasn’t on impulse. This was the conclusion Heerak came to after the shrewd calculation.
He could, of course, become the final winner. However, he would need to rely on luck. In addition, he would have to pour great effort into obtaining good results while showing off something unique to both parents and the board of directors regularly. This was on top of the handicap of having a late start compared to his brothers and sister who already started to stack up achievements.
Heerak thought hard.
Just as he could become the ultimate winner, it was equally likely that he could become the ultimate loser. He would have to live a suffocating life, ruin his relationship with his older siblings, and if his luck did not permit, he could end up being labeled a failure and forced to make do with subsidiary companies. That could be his future.
He did not want that.
No matter how he thought about it, that kind of lifestyle was just no fun.
Wasn’t it fine to leave out at least one child and not make him a pawn in the grand scheme of things? He tried to persuade his father with sugar-coated sincerity, but his father wasn’t convinced easily. Heerak changed tactics. The only person who had his father in the palm of his hands was his male-omega, superdominant mother.
It was a wise decision to win over his mother. His mother was supportive and all Heerak could ask for. His father could control his children, but he was a devoted husband who lost to his wife. Heerak did not know how his father was coaxed into it, but he was eventually allowed to break away.
His siblings wanted their youngest, who successfully broke away, to be on their side. He and his elder sister, who he got along with best, had a meal with each other at least once a week. He maintained his relationship with his older brothers by going golfing and accompanying them to other events. Everything was going according to Heerak’s blueprint.
Being born with a silver spoon in his mouth let him live comfortably.
And now, he got to live a life that others could only envy.
As if to tell him that life wouldn’t be fun if everything went smoothly, there were times where his plans came to a halt. The café franchise that he started with his mother’s help ended in great failure. It wasn’t that he wasn’t making any profits. But Heerak considered this venture to be a failure. No matter what he did, he could not overcome the number-one brand, the one which made people line up from the early morning just to grab a limited-edition tumbler. No matter how aggressive the marketing was and how hard he grilled the PR team, he could not get first place. If he could not get first place, walking away from the succession battle was meaningless. Heerak quickly sold his shares and turned his sights on his next-best plan.
He set his eyes on the food industry. Heerak launched “Sartago,” a family restaurant with a salad bar as its main feature. His parents and siblings were doubtful of its success and called it a red ocean2A business term referring to the “known market space,” where companies are highly competitive. Opposite of “blue ocean,” both coined by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in their book Blue Ocean Strategy., but Heerak pushed through with it. Once a month, he would choose one place in the world and have a special salad bar with that region’s specialty foods. If one month was Busan’s milmyeon3Thin, wheat flour based noodles, similar to naengmyun. It is eaten in a cold broth with vegetable and egg toppings. It’s a signature dish from Busan, Korea., the next month could be Chicago and feature Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. He also determined that the decline in family diners was due to the high price, so he drastically lowered the cost.
It was a wild success. He got to taste the victory that he had been waiting for all this time.
He struck while the iron was hot and expanded his restaurant extensively. Now, he could see the signboard for this restaurant in every corner of Korea. His siblings, who invested with no real expectation, could all smile proudly and say that they knew he could do it. Now that Sartago was always at the top of all the articles about family restaurants, Heerak could finally smile in satisfaction.