The owner of the voice as thin as a sigh was surprisingly Gaon. Her fierce eyes and stern voice, which made even the people next to her feel intimidated, were just mild and quiet out of nowhere. It was hard to believe that she was the same person who threatened a dead man by putting a sword to the neck.
Her appearance was also markedly different from her usual appearance, which was sharp. With her loose hair and a generous cardigan loosely hugging her thin frame, she looked just like a college student in her early 20s. Was her face supposed to look this young? If we met on the street, would I have missed it?
Ji-Won, who greeted politely, carefully watched Gaon, who replied in a low voice and swept up her hair, which was not yet dry. As soon as the sleeves were raised and the wrist was slightly revealed, Ji-Won’s neat eyebrows wiggled. He knew she was skinny, but her white wrist with blue veins was too thin and slender. As if he could break it if he made up his mind and gave it a little strength.
‘That sword… it looked heavy, how does she even swing it with that wrist? Unexpectedly, could it be that her bones are strong?’
“I heard you were on a vacation.”
“That’s all right. I happened to have something to do in London myself, so I was going to leave the country this evening.”
“Yes. I heard that there will be a vase of Émile Gallé* in Sotheby’s*. It’s a work that fits the autumn exhibition concept I’m planning, but it’s not a business of a penny or two, so I have to see it in person before I buy it.”
[T/N: Émile Gallé (8 May 1846 in Nancy – 23 September 1904 in Nancy) was a French artist and designer who worked in glass, and is considered to be one of the major innovators in the French Art Nouveau movement. He was noted for his designs of Art Nouveau glass art and Art Nouveau furniture, and was a founder of the École de Nancy or Nancy School, a movement of design in the city of Nancy, France.]
[T/N: Sotheby’s (/ˈsʌðəˌbiːz/) is a British-founded American multinational corporation with headquarters in New York City. It is one of the world’s largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewellery, and collectibles. It has 80 locations in 40 countries, and maintains a significant presence in the UK.]
Gaon smiled very faintly at Ji-Won’s answer. She looked as if she were looking at a commendable child who was obedient. ‘That’s great.’ Ji-Won felt very complicated and strange ambivalence at the whisper.
The CEO remembers what I do? But I don’t necessarily work harder on the gallery because of what she said. What do you mean that’s great? I’m not a preschooler, but… Why do I like it so much? Ji-Won suddenly felt like a child at the compliment even at the age of thirty.
“If it’s important. I can go by myself, so Director Cha can go do his own business.”
“No, the auction is next week, so I only have to go before that.”
No. If I really go to do my business, I don’t think you will create any problem, but the Kwon siblings wouldn’t leave me alone. As expected, Hee-Joo’s face changed at once and she shook her head firmly as if there was no way.
“It doesn’t make sense for the CEO to go around alone on a business trip. Moreover, you’re going to a foreign country…. If you’re really going to do that, I’ll follow you.”
“How can a person who can’t even go up to the attic because of her acrophobia get on a plane?”
“Then why are you chasing him away?”
“I was sorry to call someone on vacation. Jayden will come out when I get to London anyway.”
Excuse me, Sir. If you think that’s true, I wouldn’t have been called here in the first place, right? Ji-Won, who was watching the war of words between the two, took the makeup pouch without saying anything and put it in the bag. At first glance, Gaon’s claim did not seem to work.
“CEO, are you really going to do this? Even in Hong Kong at that time….”
“How long are you going to keep talking about it?”
“I’ll do it until I die, and I’ll write it down on my will and hand it over to the next generation. So promise me you’ll never go around alone, please.”
“Haa, all right. I’ll stick next to Director Cha.”
“Don’t forget that there’s a way to check everything later.”
Hee-Joo, who was constantly nagging even while Ji-Won loaded the trunk, closed her mouth only after Gaon, who was silently nodding, patted her shoulder a couple of times. Even so, Ji-Won’s heart was so anxious seeing how worried her (Hee-Joo) eyes were.
It’s only a five-day business trip, including going back and forth, but is it such a big deal? Is there a huge risk I don’t know about this business trip? Ji-Won glanced at the side mirror just before he started driving the car to the main road, and saw Hee-Joo, who was still standing in front of the gate, was looking at the car. Even though the car already passed a long way, her silhouette was visible. The impatience and concern on her face were felt intact.
What is the relationship between the two of them? It is more than affectionate to be considered a simple employment relationship, but it is too polite to be related by blood. What else happened in Hong Kong?
Wait a minute. Why am I so curious about a person’s private life? Ji-Won, who suddenly came to his senses, cut off the questions that kept biting his tail. Then he focused on driving with only eyes on the front. He was slightly curious about the situation in the back seat, but he didn’t bother to turn his head to check.
Gaon, who called in the crew to set up the bedding at the same time as the seat belt sign was turned off, lowered all the window covers as soon as the mattress was installed. Seeing her lie down in her pajamas in a hurry, she seemed to be determined to sleep.
“CEO, don’t you have to eat?”
“Later. I’ll get some sleep first.”
“It’ll be evening when you get to London. If you sleep now, I think you’ll have a hard time adjusting to the time difference.”
“I know…, I couldn’t sleep last night. I was in Jungcheon until 7 o’clock in the morning.”
Ji-Won, who was secretly annoyed by the need to take care of all these basic things, opened his eyes a little wide.
“7 o’clock this morning?”
Ji-Won was briefly speechless due to Gaon’s indifferent reply. Come to think of it, he also thought she didn’t look good from the first time he saw her today. It was his first time meeting her in a bright place, so he thought her skin tone looked relatively pale…. A long-distance business trip after staying up all night. Surprised by the much higher intensity of work than expected, Ji-Won could no longer stop Gaon from pulling up the blanket.
“If you need anything, call me right away.”
“Do you not wear eye patches? Do you want me to close the door?”
“No. No need.”
Gaon, who answered in a whisper, closed her eyes softly. Although she didn’t seem to fall asleep right away, Ji-Won carefully organized the lights and curtains and returned to his place. Even though he finally felt a little at ease, he was nervous inside even if he didn’t want to.
Ah…, it was a really turbulent day. The trap is that the day isn’t over yet. Even by London standards, there are 17 hours left in the day, aren’t there? Ji-Won, who buried himself deeply in the coach and made a groan with his eyes closed tightly, opened his eyes slowly after feeling a sudden rush of hunger.
He had a poor breakfast because he was facing his aunt’s suspicious gaze, and it had already been a long time since lunch. It was not very comfortable to leave a sleeping person and eat alone, but it is not possible to starve together either. Ji-Won, who glanced at Gaon, who was tossing and turning, immediately called the flight attendant.
“I would like to have a meal. I’d like a steak, medium cooked, for the main dish. Don’t drag the cart, and please put the salad in moderation. No dressing is required. Only baguette for bread. And for the dessert, I would like each kind of fruit, please.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll get your meal ready right away.”
“Don’t disturb the person sitting next to me. I’ll tell you when I need anything.”
Ji-Won, who looked at the seat next to him throughout the meal, frowned reflexively whenever Gaon flinched. To have a sleep disorder like this. She said she stayed up all night, but she couldn’t sleep well right now either. Wouldn’t it be better to take medicine and sleep well? No, then she won’t be able to sleep in London again. Then it will continue to be a vicious circle. Sigh…. Let’s get rid of it. I can’t do anything about it. How would it help her if I just keep glancing at her?
Ji-Won, who consciously averted his eyes, relaxedly drank coffee and chose a movie. He couldn’t drink alcohol and stretch from the standpoint of performing as an assistant of his boss, so he had to do something to endure boredom in his sober mind. He played a movie that had a great plot among the ones he had watched before because he didn’t find anything to dislike in particular. But the movie that was interesting every time he watched it was strangely boring today. Is it because the screen is too small? He wasn’t impressed.
Ji-Won, who yawned countless times while watching the movie, took out a draft for the exhibition and began to rummage. Normally, he could concentrate for two or three hours, but strangely enough, this didn’t catch his eye either. Why can’t I concentrate today? Am I tired?
Ji-Won, who shook his head from side to side while rubbing his shoulders, stopped moving when he saw Gaon’s neat face lying down to his side. It looks like she’s finally sleeping. She has been tossing and turning for over two hours. But her face is so small. Her face line is the same even though she was lying on her side. He didn’t notice before because she always had a hard expression, but Gaon surprisingly has very delicate features. It’s a face that could draw people’s attention. Ji-Won wants to draw her face at least once. But I can’t draw people’s faces….
For some reason, his hands were itching so hard that he had to clench his fist in a disappointing mood. Suddenly, the aircraft met the unstable airflow and fluctuated greatly. Then Gaon, who was sleeping with an even breath, opened her eyes like a ghost. Oh, of all things, the plane had to shake now. He wanted to let her sleep for a couple more hours. Ji-Won quietly kicked his tongue inside as he saw Gaon raising her body with a face that had completely disappeared from sleep.
“…What time is it now?”
“It’s a little past 7 o’clock in Korean time. If you’re not going to sleep anymore, let’s eat first. Mrs. Kwon told me to make sure to give you two meals a day.”
“Well, I should eat.”
“The main dish is steak and grilled perch, what should I order?”
It was an answer that put Ji-Won in a dilemma of whether both were okay or not. They did say she’s a person who eats whatever is served. Is it better to eat fish that digest well because it’s less flavoured? Ji-Won, who thought for a while, suggested a third option while staring at Gaon, who drank a cup of cold water, as if her mouth was dry.
“CEO, would you like some ramen?”
“Do you like it? If you don’t have an appetite, I think you’d better eat something spicy. ”
“Well, I’ve never tried it before.”
You’ve never tried ramen? Never? How can a modern civilized person do that? When Ji-Won, who always seemed calm, couldn’t hide his shock at the unexpected answer, Gaon looked slightly awkward. No matter how dark Gaon was about the world, she knew that ramen is a very popular food.
“Don’t let Mrs. Kwon know that I ate instant noodles.”
Oh… It seems like I know the reason now. Mrs. Kwon must have only carefully selected organic ingredients for every meal and set up a royal dinner for her. Ji-Won, who nodded right away, recommended the menu again, but to her surprise, Gaon chose an adventure.
“Then let’s have the perch.”
“This ramen…. I’d like to try it.”
After a while, Gaon, who received a steaming ramen bowl, seemed slightly embarrassed at first by the more stimulating smell than expected. However, as soon as she tasted it carefully, her expression changed. Looking at Gaon, whose eyes were wide open, Ji-Won understood for the first time the feeling of a mother feeding her child baby food for the first time. He couldn’t be more proud that someone ate the food he recommended deliciously.
“Do you like it?”
“This is so good.”
“That’s a relief. Anyway, it’s a secret from Mrs. Kwon.”
“Yes. I’ll keep it.”
Gaon, who nodded determinedly with chopsticks, was so cute that Ji-Won laughed in a small voice without realizing it. Then, he began to appreciate Gaon eating ramen with his chin resting on his palm. He had no idea the look of fascination on his face the whole time. Gaon was also unaware that he had never turned his eyes to other places because she was busy emptying the bowl of ramen.
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