The Lee’s Family House
That morning, the Lee family sat for breakfast at the dinning table. Joo won and his mother, Mi sook couldn’t help but notice the annoying presence of Min jae, who didn’t bother to acknowledge the obvious fact that her stepbrother and stepmother were feeling uncomfortable. Despite the fact that she spent three years with them before going to the states, they were not fond of each other. They only acted all nice and close in front of Lee Sung chul, but once alone, they acted cold and distant.
“Wow!” Min jae exclaimed. “It’s really nice to be eating home made meal after a very long time.” She turned to Mi sook and smiled. “Omeonim, I missed your cooking. It tastes nice just the way I remember it.”
Mi sook gave her an approving nod knowing she was being sarcastic as she never really liked her cooking and complained a lot before she left.
“No wonder Joo won Oppa is looking fresh.” She commented looking at Joo won still smiling.
Joo won tensed at the name she called him as he was not used to her referring to him like that.
“I think I’ll start taking cooking lessons from you, Omeonim. What do you think?” she asked. Getting no reply, she sighed as she was starting to get frustrated. “Is this how you all eat in silence? This is really boring. Talking while eating, they say, is not good, but keeping quiet throughout an entire meal is not really nice either. It kills mood.” She explained before turning to face her father. “Appa, after seeing me and welcoming me back, you haven’t said anything. Omeonim, Oppa, why aren’t you saying anything? If this is how you guys are, I’ll be forced to run back and never come back!”
Mi sook gave her an ‘only if you could do that’ look.
“What of your brother?” her father asked.
Hitting her cutlery repeatedly on the plate, she sighed. “I don’t know.”
“You didn’t come together?” he asked again.
“ If we did, would I tell you I don’t know where he is? We didn’t come together.”
“Have you tried calling him?” Mi sook asked her.
Finally frustrated, she slammed the cutlery on the table. “What exactly is this?! Ever since I came back, you’ve all been asking of Sung jae Oppa when it’s so obvious that we didn’t come together. Would I be the only one here if we came together?! If you’re worried that much, why don’t you try calling him yourself. Abeoji, you’ve changed a lot….” She paused looking at Mi sook and Joo won. “…..just within how many years of living together.”
Standing up, she shot Mi sook a very hot gaze. “You’ve not improved any bit! The meal is too soggy!” She blurted out before walking away angrily.
Mi sook kept quiet while Sung chul gave Joo won a sign to go talk to Min jae. Sighing, he stood up and went after Min jae who was already at the balcony. Folding his arms, he stood beside her without facing her.
“I know you’ve been angry ever since you returned, but you didn’t have to take your anger on father.”
“Then should I have taken it on you?” she asked not looking at him either.
“That would have been better. If you still have more left, you can take it on me now.” He replied as he turned to look at her. “You might not get the chance to do so later.”
Min jae gave him a brief look before turning her face away. “Whenever I thought of coming home when I was still over there, the thought that everything and everyone I know changing makes me change my mind about coming back. But now that I finally decided to come back, it’s actually true.”
Sighing, he released his folded arms as he held the iron rails. “Ani. Nothing changed. We didn’t change and neither did you. it’s just your fears that is overcoming you. Stop living in your thoughts and fears and face reality.”
She sneered. “Reality? You’re uncomfortable with me here, aren’t you?”
“Obviously, I am, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything I can do about it. The truth is your presence here poses as a threat to me but I can’t let that overcome me. That’s me facing reality. Try to do the same too.”
Min jae scoffed. “You really didn’t change at all. Blunt as always.” She commented folding her arms. “I planned to get an apartment of my own.”
“I can help you with that if you want.”
“I changed my mind already.” She replied turning to face him as he also turned to face her. “Living here would be fun than I imagined, don’t you think? For me, I don’t think I’m interested in missing out anything. What do you think about that?”
“What are you going to do staying at home? I could help you with a post at the company.”
“That should be dad’s line and not yours, besides, I’ll start working as a fellow from tomorrow.”
“How can a brother not know what his sister studied in school? Don’t worry. Things like running a company or holding official positions do not interest me. You can set your mind at rest with me on that. However, be careful. They say a close friend might be one’s enemy and they also say one’s enemy can be among one’s family. Don’t focus on just one person thinking that person is your enemy is all I’m saying. You might get attacked from the back if you don’t check others too.” She advised.
Before turning to leave, she paused briefly. “If you still think my presence here is a threat, you can go on to start thinking of how to get rid of me, but in that case, I’ll prefer you go with a better option.” She paused as she met his curious gaze. “Let’s get along well, you might need me later,…..Oppa.” she added before finally walking away.
Sooni Hawai Kitchen
With everyone preparing the ingredients for the night course, Ji ha had a difficult time trying to work with her junior who turned out to be Harry. Since he came in with Seung ho, she had voiced out her opinion that she didn’t want Harry to be her junior judging from the times she had met with him, but Seung ho told her she didn’t have a choice since she was the one that requested for a junior to work with. Harry had also asked for someone else to work under but everyone told him they had a partner, even Sae na who would have loved to drop Seung ho as her partner and Ye jun who would have done the same. However, the stern look on Ji ha’s face gave them a message. Whatever reasons Ji ha must be rejecting Harry for, they weren’t ready to interfere. Out of curiosity, they both asked them if they knew each other but the two of them denied flatly. Ji ha had later decided to work with him stating that it was because she had no choice. Others had encouraged Harry to learn from her since she was the best chef in their section. Harry sighed as he was left with no other option. Walking up to Ji ha, he asked her to treat him well. Ji ha had taken offence when he didn’t bow telling him she was his senior. She warned him not to act up in front of her and that she would let it slide since it was his first time in the kitchen. She had then proceeded in outlining what he would do for her, but then she realized she had a lot of work to do when it turned out to be that he couldn’t get one thing right. The whole chefs continued their work in silence as Ji ha struggled with Harry who kept on disorganizing her work.
Sighing in defeat, Ji ha turned to look at Harry with a look that clearly explained how fed up she was. “You! I’ve been wanting to ask you this. Why are you doing this to me?”
“What?” he asked feigning ignorance.
“No matter how hard I think about it, I still don’t understand. Why exactly are you doing this, uhn?”
“What are you talking about?” he asked folding his arms.
Ji ha slammed the knife she was holding on the table. “What do you mean by that? Do you really not know what I’m talking about? Ya! I’ve got a lot of things to do and I can’t do them alone! I need someone that knows what to do, not someone like you!” Calming down, she moved closer to him. “Do you really not know how to do anything?”
Clearing his throat, he released his folded hands. “I can do a few stuffs.”
“Why didn’t they place you at section A instead! That’s not our specialty here!” she snapped.
“Light a gas?”
“Is section C that full already! That’s not what we do here either!” she snapped again.
“Prepare the pots and utensils?”
“We don’t do that too!” she snapped the third time, but this time with anger. “Just what exactly do you know how to do? Preparing ingredients! That’s what we do! Washing, cutting, squeezing, slicing, dicing, mincing and mixing of ingredients! That’s basically what we do here! The rest of the cooking is being taken care of by the other chefs in other sections! Do you really not know how to do anything related to that?”
“I told you what I can do.”
“Then you shouldn’t be here! I’m really done for.”
Sae na and Ye jun watched Ji ha pitifully while they worked.
“Tsk! I almost agreed to work with him.” Ye jun pointed out. “Its a huge relief. Working with Do shik is much better than that.”
“Same here.” Sae na agreed. “I’ll stick to Sunbae who doesn’t work than spend another extra time trying to teach someone that doesn’t even know how to slice cucumber.”
“My poor Ji ha. What has she done to deserve that? It’s a pity she has no choice. If it’s like this on his first day, how will it be as days pass?”
“Ji ha is a good chef. He’ll learn in a short while.”
“I doubt she’ll be able to keep up with him. That girl is my friend but she has no patience! Curiosity kills her!”
Overhearing them, Ji ha picked up her knife. “I can hear you!” she raised her voice in her angry state.
Shaking his head, Do shik faced them. “Why don’t you do your work and stop talking. Ji hyun and Eun soo are there minding their business, Ji ha and the new guy are minding their business too, why don’t you also mind your business.
“Are you talking to me?” Sae na asked confused.
Ye jun shot a hot and stern gaze at Do shik angrily. “Why don’t you mind your business too!” she shouted as she dropped her knife and removed her hand gloves. “You can finish this while you’re at it!” she added before storming out angrily.
“He was talking to her.” Sae na muttered to herself.
“Ya! Ye jun! Go Ye jun!” Do shik shouted after her. “You can’t leave just like that! We agreed to do the work equally!” he turned back to face Sae na who was immediately startled. “And I was talking to you! You’re the only one with an absent partner! Go find something to do!”
“What? Me?” she asked taken aback.
Ji ha continued slicing the cucumber in front of her frustrated and irritated with the fact that Harry was just standing in front of her doing nothing.
“I really don’t know what to do with you!” she muttered.
“Keep working.” He told her as he grabbed a chair and sat down.
Standing upright, she stared at him surprised at his action. “You, what are you doing?”
“Keep working,” he replied folding his arms on the table. “I’m learning.”
Ji ha scoffed while Ji hyun gave them a brief glance. “Seriously! Which junior sits while his sunbae works?”
“Me.” he replied nonchalantly.
“You? Ya! Harry! Is this how you act where you’re coming from? I can guess you spent most of your younger days out of this country. But things are different here, so you had better drop your rude act!”
“Nice guess, but how did you know my name?”
“Does it matters? You don’t look too surprised as to how I know your name.”
“The fact that you know it only explains one thing.” Pausing, he stared at her closely while she paused, also staring back at him, curious to know what it was. “Are you by any chance Han Ji han?”
“I guess you actually know how to do something well. So you now remember. You weren’t even totally drunk.”
“Hyung told me. Is that a confirmation that you’re Ji han?”
“It’s not Ji han, its Ji ha, without the ‘n’.”
“Ah! I’m sorry, Ji han sshi.”
“Ya! I said its Ji ha! Han Ji ha!”
“Yes,” he nodded. “Han Ji han sshi.”
“Do you have a death wish?!”
“Ani.” He replied glancing at the clock before standing up. “It’s past eight. I was told we are to close by eight. If you don’t mind, I’ll leave first.”
“Where are you going?”
“Where else? Home of course.”
“You didn’t even do anything and you’re leaving first?”
“I’m leaving first because there’s nothing for me to do.” He replied walking away.
“Ya!” she shouted as she went after him while Ji hyun gave a brief smile before packing up the boards. “Come back here! As your senior, you leave when I leave! Ya!”
When everyone left, Ji hyun stayed back to help Ji ha make sure everything was set and Ji ha couldn’t help but notice his presence. As happy has she was with the fact that he was with her, she was also uncomfortable. Ji hyun was the closest guy she had apart from her brother, Ji soo.
“Why haven’t you gone?” she asked trying not to move close to him.
“I thought you might need help.” He replied stuffing the remaining ingredients in the fridge as he went back and forth to get the rest.
Biting her lips, she tried to avoid moving closer to him as he walked from the table to the fridge repeatedly. “You don’t have to help me.”
“Why?” he asked stopping in front of her.
In a bid to avoid him, she collected what he was holding making them awfully close. They shared a brief moment of silent in the awkward position before Ji ha cleared her throat, finally breaking the silence.
“Do you want to go for drink later?” she asked.
Without giving it a thought, he picked up his bag and walked towards the door. “I have things to do. See you later.” Opening the door, he walked out.
Ji ha sighed dejectedly. “What am I not doing right? He has never agreed to drink with me.” She muttered to herself as she stuffed the last set of remaining ingredients in the fridge. “Neither has he given me a ‘no’ answer before.”
After a long working day, Joo won called Eun ju, his secretary to ask about what he asked her to find out. Bracing herself up, Eun ju walked into his office to give the information she had. Finding out information about the names he gave her wasn’t an easy thing to do especially with the fact that they both returned back to the country recently, however, she knew she had to report back to Joo won. Not only because she was trying to get on his good sides but because she also had feelings for him and she was still at the verge of verifying if he felt the same way for her.
“What have you found out?”
“I’m still on it.” She replied. “Lee Min jae is currently in the country and she is a licensed doctor. She’ll start as a fellow from tomorrow.”
Joo won scoffed. “She’s still a fellow. Which hospital?”
“Guk Il Medicals”
“Not that close to this place. Sung jae? What about him?”
“I haven’t been able to get any leads on Lee Sung jae. His whereabouts, whether he’s in the country or not, I have no idea, but I’m currently looking into it, he must have probably arrived with a different name.”
“It’s easy for me to keep an eye on a close enemy than an invisible one.” He muttered to himself before facing her. “Is that so? Don’t bother about Min jae for now, concentrate more on Sung jae. Report to me on anything you find out.”
“Yes, President.” She turned to leave but hesitated as she turned back to face him. “Are they by any chance your step-siblings?”
Joo won stopped what he was doing and looked up at her.
“Lee Sung jae and Lee Min jae, are they your step siblings?”
Ignoring her, he stood up and walked towards the door, ready to leave.
“I never knew you had step siblings. Of course, it’s not surprising that you’re not the only child of Chairman Lee Sung chul. However, it’s surprising that they both had to return now, when you’re only steps away from claiming Haewon as yours after all these years.”
“Don’t utter nonsense and get back to your work.” He snapped.
“Did you notice I was by your side all these while? But why? Why do you act like I’m invisible? Why do you keep acting up? When do you plan to admit the truth? I know how you feel, but why don’t you speak up for yourself? Just until when are you going to keep on acting like a coward?”
Keeping a straight face, he turned the door knob without looking at her. “If you’re done for today, you can go home.” He told her before walking out.
Watching him leave, she fell on her knees and broke down into tears. “Lee Joo won, you thoughtless jerk!”
Sooni Hawaii Kitchen
After making sure everything was set, Ji ha removed her apron, carried her bag and took a last glance at their section of the kitchen. “You did well today.” She told herself as she walked out of the kitchen. Just then, Ye jun’s call came in. While greeting the other seniors who were yet to close for the day in the other sections, she talked with Ye jun on her way out of the Kitchen.
“Are you sure you’re home already?” Ji ha asked her.
“How many times do I want to tell you I’m home.”
“You had better be.”
“How about you? Where are you going to tonight? I’m sure you’ve not settled with your mum and I doubt if Ji soo Oppa is going to let you stay tonight again.”
“I’m going to my apartment.”
“Uhn.” She smiled. “My landlord called to tell me I have a new neighbor.”
“Whoa! That’s a huge relief. You’re lucky. I was about thinking of asking you to come over. Ji ha, lets talk later, I think my sister is here.”
“Okay then. I’ll call you later.” she disconnected the line only to notice that Harry had been waiting outside. Surprised, she walked up to him.
“What are still doing here? I thought you left already. Or were you waiting for me?”
“Tsk! Why would I wait for you?”
“Who are you waiting for then?”
“I was asked by the chief chef to wait for my senior and I’ve been waiting since then. I wasn’t waiting for you, I was waiting for my Sunbae. Ji han Sunbae.”
“Ya! Do you really want to die?! How many times do I have to tell you its not…..”
She was interrupted when she noticed he wasn’t listening to her, and to show he wasn’t interested, he walked out on her while she was still talking.
“Ya!” she shouted running after him. “Wait up!”
They both walked down together when she caught up with him. After fifteen minutes of walking together, Ji ha noticed they were going in the same direction and she decided to use the opportunity to question him.
“Are you half-Korean?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, you look like a Korean, but your name doesn’t sound like one and neither do you act like one. I guess you’re half-Korean.”
‘I’m not.” He replied snugly.
“Really? Then what’s up with the name?” she asked.
Before she could get his answer, she recalled the incident that happened the previous night and she jumped in front of him all of a sudden, startling him. “Don’t you think you should thank me?”
“For what?” he asked still startled.
“For last night of course!”
“Shouldn’t you be the one thanking me?” he objected.
“Why should I? Why should I be the one thanking you?”
‘For getting you delivery fee with ease. Wasn’t that why you called him?”
“Ah!” she exclaimed clearing her throat. “Fine! Let’s agree we’re equal now. But, I’ve been meaning to ask, are you by any chance following me? Why haven’t you turned towards other direction? Did Seung ho Sunbae asked you to follow me home? If it’s because he knows my neighbor moved out, call him and tell him I’ll be fine. My landlord called me earlier today that I have a new neighbor already, so you don’t have to go with me, uhn? I’ll be fine on my own.’
Looking at her closely, he paused. “Why would I follow you to your house? Do I look like someone who would follow you to where you stay?”
“Even if chief chef asked you to do it? Just like the way he asked you to wait for me?”
“Why would I? and I told you I wasn’t waiting for you.”
“Are you always this blunt? Why are you following me then?”
“I’m not following you, I just happen to live on this street too.”
“Why haven’t I been seeing you around then?”
“I just moved in.”
“You just moved in? How am I supposed to….” She was interrupted by a phone call from Ji hyun. Opening her eyes wide in disbelief, she picked it up quickly making Harry shake his head at her quick response. “Uhn, Ji hyun-ah.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m almost at home. Why?”
“Your apartment? Or your parents house?”
“My apartment.” She replied and paused to hear his reply while he hesitated to talk. “Ji hyun-ah, are you okay?” she asked worriedly.
“Would you like to drink with me?”
“Eh?” Ji ha paused for a brief moment. “Why all of a sudden?”
“Just because. I’ll be waiting for you at the last place we talked.” He told her before disconnecting the line.
She was happy she was finally getting to drink with Ji hyun, but somehow, something else seemed to weigh her thoughts as she looked at Harry who had been staring at her the whole time while she was on her call.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“It’s nothing for you to worry about.” She replied quickly. “You said you just moved in to this street right? I guess we’ll get to see often then.”
“But I don’t wish to see you often.” He told her sincerely.
Sighing at his blunt but sincere reply, she kept her phone in her pocket. “Neither do I.” she replied sarcastically. “Seeing you at work is enough punishment for me. Seeing you often on the same street wouldn’t be nice either, so, Harry-sshi, let’s do well by not bumping into each other.”
“Even if we do, Ji han-sshi, we’re strangers, arasso?”
Biting her lips, she held her bag tightly. “Get home safe and don’t you dare come late to work tomorrow!” she warned in between clenched teeth before walking away.
“Interesting.” He muttered to himself as he watched her leave until a very urgent call from Woo jin came in.
To be continued