“Have you ever been in love, Attorney?” CEO Jang Hanmi, a VIP client and owner of the largest fast-food franchise in South Korea, looked into my eye with contempt. He's the notorious Casanova in all of Seoul, who has gotten away from his promiscuity because of his affluence.
The kind of man I hated the most. But I don't have a choice but to deal with him. For he happened to be a VVIP client worth millions of dollars in profit for our firm.
Most of his cases were petty fights with the 'girl of the month.' So resolving has been easy. But this time, it's different. It’s a crime of passion.
A case too personal that the CEO personally showed up in their office after years of working with the firm.
CEO Hanmi looked at me with queer eyes and insisted that loving someone was never a crime, no matter the result.
“Have you loved someone so deep that you lost your mind? All of a sudden you have the power to do anything and everything in the name of love? If you have, then you’ll understand me,” he continued.
I stared at him.
He was a mess with blood-shot eyes, shaggy beard, disheveled hair hiding behind an Ermenegildo Zegna Bespoke tailored suit. Nowhere close to the classy heartthrob Casanova he was known for.
His question hit me to my core. In my 8 years as a lawyer, no one dares to challenge my competency at the expense of personal status.
Yet, here I am sitting with these imposing figures, CEO of K & P law firm Il Wook Song and CEO Hanmi.
Outside, the weather was freezing. Inside, the heat was at full blast. Not from the heater in the room, but the raging emotions building up between CEO Jang and I. Cold sweat building up on my forehead.
Clad in a Giorgio Armani black suit, crisp white dress shirt, and red necktie, I tried to dress up to the nines to keep up with Mr. Casanova. But I guess I’m nowhere close.
He was a nuisance!My body is aflame, burning anyone who dared to lay their hands on me. An intense desire that revived after thirty years of my existence on Earth.
I have always been living in the present without bothering about the past. Yet at thirty-four, I wondered if people in my age range face the same unrest state, questioning what has been and scared of what’s coming.
“Are you even listening to what I’m saying?” CEO Jang roared like a lion.
“I am certain he is,” President Il Wook replied with a matter-of-fact tone. He winked at me, furrowing his eyebrows.
With the way he stared, I already knew what he was up to.
Turning to CEO Jang, he proceeded, “Not to worry, CEO Jang, we’ll figure this out for you.”
“I have complete trust in Atty. Suho Lee here,” reaching out, tapping my knees, “you just have the finest lawyer in the city.”
“Of course,” I responded, forcing a smile. “We got this. We’ll call you once we have resolved everything.”
The air in the room was dense. Loosening my tie-down, I struggled to grasp for some air.
The two noblemen were engrossed in their conversation and found it the best time to slip away from the intense deliberation.
I walked towards my office where Yuna Kim, my secretary for almost half a decade, greeted me.
She peered at me behind her spectacles, analyzing my temperament.
The three-hour grueling conversation drained all the blood from every nerve in my body like a vampire sucking every ounce of me.
Inside my office, I drew down the shutters and slipped into the fancy wooden office chair, offering a momentary refuge. It was a sight not unusual for the rest of my colleagues.
My colleagues know what a closed door means. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Behind the closed door was a dragon. The sleeping dragon often turns out to be more precarious than a roaring lion in his cavern. Only K & P CEO Il Wook can permeate.
I was the untouchable dragon lurking in the corner ready to pounce at any foe, which was the reason the CEO, no less, entrusted me with all the controversial and high-profile trials in the company.
The only catch was people had a hard time working with me because of my unorthodox practices. As bizarre as my tactics are, they win cases every single time.
I was a force to reckon with. Nothing can lure me down.
That’s what people assume.
My personal life? It has been a roller coaster ride with twists and turns that even go under the water. I’ve always lived a life with diversity with no boring moments.
“Live and let live” is what I live by.
I lived for the moment and seized every moment that came my way.
All except one.
An unfinished business and the only failure in my life. The weakness only a handful knew and vowed with their lives, not to mention the name ever again.My friends called me a hopeless romantic while others say I’m hopeless in romance.
In reality, I am a little of both.
For the longest time, I’ve always been looking for THE ONE, delving into every chance with every charming woman I meet.
But none of them measured up to her. She was a ghost that lingered every time, haunting me even in my dreams.
I wondered what my reaction would be if I saw her for the first time after 8 years of no-contact.
Would I still feel the same way?
An open case I realized I had failed a long time ago.
As much as I hate to accept it, she primarily influenced my life’s decisions. There’s no reason to complain cause given a chance, I would not have it any other way.
Time has been my greatest nemesis with love.
To be honest, I don’t have a grasp of time because I don’t work with timetables, always leaning to spontaneous moments.
Sadly, the time has thrown rocks to my direction, blocking the chance to complete the life I dreamed of.
I tried to endure everything. Only to discover two years ago that I was racing against time.
Outside, the world was different. My worries don’t even matter.
But for me, that’s everything.
Misty rain cascaded down at the start of fall, a rare sight. Autumn rain always came with a surprise, that’s what she always says.
Everywhere I look, a white mist engulfed the city as if some mystery is about to unfold.
A gentle tap on the wooden door disturbed my thoughts. “Come in.”
Yuna entered the office in her black blazer and pencil skirt suit, exuding grace and grit. She knew precisely what I needed without even asking. A trait that’s imperative to put up with my weird antics.
She was holding a box of face masks she bought each spring and fall season.
After my military enlistment, I quickly developed allergic rhinitis during spring and fall. Things have never been the same since then.
Yuna placed the carton and cappuccino on the massive maple wood desk and swiftly turned away without a sound.
I sat back in silence, turned on the moon lamp next to me, inhaled the smell of lavender from the diffuser, my sister, Naeun bought.
I reveled in my surroundings, listening attentively to the music Yuna was playing from her station.
Closing my eyes, I chimed into the harmony of the ticking of the clock and the tapping on the keyboard — all making me lethargic.
For a dragon-like me, having those quick escapades keeps me grounded and invigorated.
But am I doomed to live a lonely life? I have everything I wanted but not what I needed. Something was missing
Ring. The phone rang, invading my reverie. I reach out to reject the call but a gnawing voice hissed in my ear urging me to answer the phone.
“Hello,” I answered in a low, intimidating tone. It was more than what I meant.
“Hello,” a woman’s voice reverberates through the other end of the line. Her voice was utterly familiar, it gave me chills.
In an instant, a wind zapped me through a deep tunnel, the speed of lightning.
I leaned forward, unconsciously gripping the wooden arm of my chair, my knuckles turning crimson.
I banished to a place where black clouds appeared on the horizon and fog blurs everything in sight. My mind whirling as I bite my lips.
“Suho,” her sweet voice echoing through the dense mist. “Are you still there?” she asked.
“Hana,” pausing in between, breathing after each word, “Hana Kim? “
“Yes! It’s me,” she replied.
Slowly the heavy cloud vanished, and a shadow walked towards me in the stillness of the day.
I bit my tongue, struggling to find the right words to say.
What can you say to someone you have waited for so long and catch you at the most unsuitable time? Angry to reply, but anxious to lose her?
Because here I am chatting with the person loving her so much that I despised her. But just one hello is all it takes to melt all those pains away.
And after eight years, her voice fills up the desert in my heart.
But then, a gnawing thought was rumbling in my ear, Is she here to stay or was just passing by?
1995Daegu, South KoreaSuho Lee's monolid eyes squinted, creating creases in between his brows, as the morning sun flooded inside his room. He smelled the scent of hot chocolate and cinnamon whiffing in the air in the morning. The smell itself told him it was morning making him relaxed and calm. Trying to make out the time, he peeked at the clock with one eye shut, sighing, and decided 6 am was too early to stand up. The chilly breeze swayed the hanging planes in his ceiling, his eyes swerving to the pictures of basketball icons, from Michael Jordan to Haneul Lee, Suho’s dad. Winter air whispered to him, sinking further into his comforter, lulling him to sleep. Haneul Lee, Suho’s father, born and raised in Seoul. Little did Haneul Lee know that his once escapade to Daegu with his friends would lead him to meet the love of his life. And his longing for the girl led him to transfer to Daegu in senior high, as a basketball varsity player for Daegu National High School. He was a
In June of 1990, great news arrived early morning when Mrs. Lee announced a new addition to the family. "It's so surreal," Mrs. Lee said. Suho, at 11, promised that he would be the best brother to his younger sibling. During those times, the family was already settled with Suho in middle school and his college financially secured. They have a business that’s thriving on the first floor of their house. Haneul Lee was busy with his schedule and often stayed in Seoul. Everything was going perfect until, in September of 1990, the news shocked the entire family. Mrs. Lee was in her second term with their baby, still working and trying to balance being a mom, a spouse, and a businesswoman. Haneul’s manager called her out of the blue asking her to go to Seoul immediately. Mrs. Lee wasn’t the type who would abandon everything all of a sudden. The next thing Suho knew was his aunt, Mrs. Lee’s younger sister, moved to their house and his mom packed a few clothes to Seoul. He
At the height of winter, January 1991 turned out to be the coldest month in Daegu with as little sunshine to brighten up the day. It was a perfect excuse for Suho to crop up inside their house, watching his father’s video day and night nonstop. On some occasions, he would play the cassette tape his father would send him on his international trips. Listening to his father’s voice made Suho believe that he was on a trip somewhere taking his time to come home. Mrs. Lee on the other hand had no choice but to pick herself up again. Not known to Suho, she had collapsed on multiple occasions at the hospital due to stress and fatigue, putting the baby at risk. Her husband begged her to take care of herself and the baby as it would be his final gift for her. And she doesn’t have the heart to break that promise despite how challenging things were without her spouse. She couldn’t dissuade Suho either from playing cassette tape or videos even if it tore her heart apart because she kn
January of 1996 Daegu, South Korea It had been almost a year since Joo Ho left. Kwanghee was the only left to ensure that Suho kept his part of the bargain. For that one entire year, Suho worked double to finally make his dream come true. With his friend Kwanghee' 's coaxing, he can finally fulfill his promise to his dad on his grave. Taking that route meant working day in and out to develop his muscles, flexibility, and stamina. Transforming from the slinky kid to a well-built soon-to-be athlete. Suho ever thought it would require so much hard work that he often went home dead tired. Thud. The door and walls shook, pictures and paintings tilted with every bang as if a giant was passing by. "Suho, wake up, it's already noon," her mother Ji Hyo Kwang, better known as Mrs. Lee, called out, pounding against his door. "You are going to be late again!" Suho can see his mother in his mind with her curly hair and grumpy face. Wearing her usual ensemble -- gray blouse a
It was the first day of January 1996, the sky was brighter, and the nights were longer. The cloud loomed over the clear sky, and the sun was shining behind the clouds. Suho's feeling a different surge of energy he couldn't explain. Almost as if a dream is about to come true. He cycled, resembling a raging bull through the crowd of students, turning away from the deserted streets to the busy road. Cycling alone makes you a perfect target for onlookers waiting to beat the hell out of you. Finally, when the coast was clear, he slowed down. His bicycle screeched to a halt at the sight of a large moving van parked outside the house. Boxes were scattered on the road blocking any vehicle from passing through the one-way street. The men in the moving van's uniform carried the containers to the vacant house once occupied by Suho's friend, Joo ho. And he wondered if he could befriend the new occupants too. "Oppa, Oppa," a cute voice from a little girl cut through the stillnes
March 1996 Daegu, South Korea "Where's your brother?" Mrs. Lee fixed her gaze on Naeun, who was seated across the table. She shrugged her shoulders in response, concentrating on her favorite pancake in her hand. Mrs. Lee surveyed the second floor, from the kitchen to the living room in one sweep, with her brown almond-shaped eyes, looking for the suspect. Marching in full force, her brown skirt trailing behind her, she unbolted the door to Suho's room, which was surprisingly empty and clean. No trace of a human being existed. "Where could he be?" crossing her arms, brows wrinkled. Suho, Mrs. Lee noticed, had been acting weird for the last few weeks. "Is he possessed? Should I bring him to a shaman?" Sprinting towards the antic cabinet in the living room looking for a pamphlet. "No. Maybe the gods have heard my plea." Mrs. Lee looked up, spread her arms to the heavens, clasping her hands in sincere gratitude. Heaven knows how long she'd prayed for her son to snap out
Unlike Suho and the other students, Hana would sit in silence and try to get the best seat in the house -- middle, in front of the teacher -- which kids avoid. During breaks, when students chatter, play or escape to a convenience store, the new girl buried herself in the books. Her voice is precious as a diamond, a rare commodity. Her effort to distance herself from others was futile. As boys would hover around her like bees trying to score nectar from the most beautiful flower in the garden. At night when the classes were over, she'd often walk the streets from the center to her house. Suho would pedal his bicycle tortoise-like, matching her pace. Sometimes she'd take the bus, and he'd follow the bus until the next bus stop. Days passed into weeks. The excitement and agitation crept through every vein in Suho's body. Downcasted at the thought of not seeing Hana every day to melodramatic anticipation of the new school year's promise. Suho wasn't after the academic com
"I am not fine. I know I said I was, but I'm not." Suho stared at the glass windowpane next to his study table. On his windowsill was an array of potted ornamental plants from his mom's garden. From Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Lavender, and English Ivy, which Mrs. Lee explained how they cleansed the air he breathed. But none of those were creating any difference for him at that moment. All framed with a lace curtain, no one will guess the room was his. And no one could tell what he's going through either. That wasn't cool at all. Of all the people who could see me that day, why has it to be her? Cursing in between breaths. Across the street, he has a clear view of his neighbor's window, covered with a cerulean curtain. At night, the bright light in the room gave a silhouette of the enigmatic figure, dancing under the moonlight in the soothing song of The Swan Lake. In the morning, the curtains were drawn, and the owner grooved to the hit music of the 90s. Ace of Spade, MJ,