Ji Hoo’s POV
“Good morning, son.”
“Good morning, haraboji.” I had risen early this morning to talk to my grandfather. Although he hadn’t said a word last night about what he saw between Jan Di and me, I knew he might feel differently after sleeping on it, and I wanted to give him a chance to react.
For several minutes, he made conversation about business matters and the office while Mrs. Min put breakfast before us. Normally, it was Jan Di who made us breakfast, but she had anticipated a late night with our friends, so she had asked Mrs. Min for her help today. Mrs. Min didn’t mind at all, of course. In fact, she often teased Jan Di that she should stop trying to take away her job.
Everyone who worked in the house loved Jan Di.
“Now that you and Jan Di are going out…” I braced myself for the sermon I suspected was coming. “I know that you’ll want to spend more time together and, well… you’re both young adults and in the middle of your careers. You’ll soon begin your externship. You don’t want anything to interfere with, well… I’m just trying to say… uh… it would be best if you take care in certain aspects of… of…”
Okay, time to intervene.
“Haraboji, please, say no more. I would like to save us both the embarrassment of discussing this subject. I am sorry for what you saw yesterday. Believe me, it was not our intention to be careless. I know what you are trying to say, and you can put your worries to rest. You know me. I would never force Jan Di to do something she didn’t want to, and if—when—our relationship moves… forward, I will always be a gentleman toward her.” I winced inwardly at the awkwardness of this whole conversation. All my ‘sex talks’ had come from the F4, or from teachers.
I hope that would satisfy grandfather. The last thing I wanted or needed was for him to start lecturing me about contraceptives—or worse.
“Alright, then. It’s good that you know you’re both in a critical stage in your lives and you shouldn’t let yourself be overwhelmed by… um… heated situations…”
“All right, all right. I’m done.”
This really wasn’t going as I’d planned. Soon, though, Jan Di joined us at breakfast, and the uncomfortable atmosphere vanished. I prayed that Grandfather wouldn’t feel the need to have the same conversation with Jan Di.
We had finished our exams two days prior, and I was looking forward to a break. Jan Di and I were facing a whole month of vacations because neither of us was going to advance in any courses like we had on previous occasions. In the past, we’d only had five days of rest between semesters before the frenzy of classes and studying began again, but from the fifth semester onwards it was no longer necessary. Last semester, I had been bored out of my mind when she wasn’t at home to share all of my free time. But now it was different, and having so much freedom stretching out before us made me feel excited.
“Very well, I’m off to the clinic,” Grandfather said after wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“Haraboji, wait for us, we can go help you out.” Jan Di told him.
“I have more than enough help, child. How do you think I get along when you’re in classes? You put in a lot of effort these past months, and you deserve a time off. Just… don’t get carried away with all the excitement,” he muttered.
“Haraboji!” I cut him off. I winced at what he was trying to imply. Luckily, Jan Di didn’t seem to have noticed.
“I’m just saying that either way I’ll need you both back in the office in a week and a half. What did you think I meant, Ji Hoo?” He raised an eyebrow. Leave it to my grandfather to make me look like a flustered child.
He bid us goodbye, and Jan Di finished her breakfast in silence.
“It seems so weird,” she said after eating the hearty meal. “Normally we wouldn’t have a minute to breathe.”
“We won’t have one once we start classes again. Well, once you start classes. I have the externship. You’ll have yours next semester.”
“Don’t say it, don’t say it!” Jan Di covered her ears. She feared the externship so much, though I couldn’t understand why. She was well on her way to being a great OBGYN.
“Fine,” I told her with a smile, reaching out to pull her hands down, “I won’t. Besides, I want to seize all the time we have together. I want to do so much with you…” She blushed. “Jan Di, about yesterday… I’m sorry. I know I was about to cross the line, and I didn’t realize it. I want you to know that yes, I love you and, obviously, I want to be with you in every way, but we won’t go there until you want to. All right?”
She looked embarrassed and adorable. I didn’t want to frighten her with my more base impulses if I could help it.
“It’s okay.” She took my hands in hers. “About yesterday, it-it was partly my fault, so…”
I grinned. “Partly? I was seduced, cornered against a wall by a devious temptress. Who would’ve thought Jan Di-ssi had it in her to act in such a manner?” My goal was to tease her and make her forget her embarrassment. It worked.
“Yah! What did you say!?”
And that was my cue to run for my life.
A crimson-faced Jan Di chased me all over the house. I didn’t know if she was just joking or really angry, but either way, she was a woman on a mission, and I was her prey. We sprinted around so heedlessly that Mrs. Shin and Mrs. Min started to put obstacles in my way just so Jan Di could catch me.
I never thought I could be as happy as I was to feel her finally pounce on me with the weight of her small body and tickle me mercilessly into submission.
“I see you’re having fun,” an amused voice interrupted.
“Secretary Park!” Jan Di quickly stood up and finally let me breathe a little.
“Se… Secre… Secretary Park,” I was positively wheezing.
“You better catch your breath, young master.” Oh, he was definitely enjoying the show.
“Just wait… Jan Di…” I managed to gasp out, still lying flat on the floor. She just stuck her tongue out like a toddler. Secretary Park finally burst out laughing.
Jan Di helped me get up, and I hugged her a little bit too tightly to me, enough to make her squeal a little. I truly enjoyed these small gestures of intimacy and confidence we shared together, and she didn’t seem to mind the PDA.
“Young master, all is ready as you requested. The tickets are in the glove box, the basket is in the back seat, and the interior designer will come at noon. According to her estimation, her team should be able to finish the work tonight if they begin right away.”
“Perfect! Thank you. Then we’ll get out of the way. Let’s get going, Jan Di.”
“Where are we going?”
“On a date, of course,” I smiled.
Peeling away from my side, she went straight to her room and was ready in moments. We said goodbye to the family, for that’s what they were to us now. It was strange and wonderful how Grandfather, I, Jan Di and the staff had all been bound together by strong cords of trust and affection, thanks to my Wonder Woman.
“Why is an interior designer coming?” Jan Di asked on our way to the amusement park.
“To put some real doors on my room,” I said simply.
We both blushed this time.
Ga Eul’s POV
It had been four days since I had seen Jan Di, so I was glad we had plans together on Thursday afternoon. Glad, too, that it would be just the two of us; we certainly needed some girl time. I stretched like a cat in the wide bed of the ridiculously expensive room Woo Bin had booked.
We had gone out clubbing –his words, not mine– and one drink led to one dance, which led to a kiss, which led to a caress, until finally we ended up in a hotel.
“You’re awake.” His voice wrapped around me, adding to my warmth. He had just emerged from the bathroom with a towel hanging low on his hips, another thrown around his shoulders to dry his hair with. If that “V” on his hips didn’t turned a nun into a sinner, I didn’t know what could.
“I have to get up,” I managed to answer him. “But if it were up to me, I’d curl into a little ball and stay under the sheets all day long.”
“You’ll curl into a little ball?” he asked, amused.
“Yes. Can’t I?”
“I’d actually like to see that, although I’ve already thoroughly tested your flexibility.”
“Yeah, you said it like that yesterday, too…”
Beyond mortified, I started hitting him with a pillow; but if I was honest, it was more of a game than a beating. In truth, last night had been magnificent; we had made love several times since the first time, but last night had been different somehow. After we were done, Woo Bin teased me between gasps that he would have to always give me some wine before doing it because of how uninhibited I had been. I knew I had left him exhausted, which was something I took great pride in; after all, he was the Don Juan of the F4.
And yet, it was that very title that sometimes unnerved me, like in that exact moment, as we were sharing pillows, laughter, and kisses, when his cellphone rang.
“Yeah? Jennifer? When did you arrive?”
It happened often. We’d be together and suddenly his phone would ring with a call or a text, usually from a girl. Today it was Jennifer, and I didn’t have the right to complain. After all, Woo Bin and I were not in a relationship. We were what the Americans call ‘friends with benefits’, and I thought I was going to be able to control my feelings, but… what can you do when you fall in love with someone like that?
“Yeah ok. I’ll see you this afternoon, then. Bye. I’m sorry Ga Eul. That was a friend from America I haven’t seen in years.”
“No problem,” I lied. “I’d better go bathe now.” I even managed a smile.
“Sure.” He kissed me and let me go.
I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to live like this. ‘Until that special person comes along’ I had told him, but I didn’t know if that would be sooner or later. Did it really matter? Either way, I’d end up hurt. If it was sooner, I’d feel as if I hadn’t seized all I could have out of our agreement, and if it was later, I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain the charade and the false smile for much longer.
Yes, our bodies fit together perfectly, and the pleasure he gave me spread through my whole being and lingered in my mind for hours on end. But what did Woo Bin think about us? I didn’t know, and I didn’t have the courage to ask. Who would’ve thought we would end up like this someday? I had to come up with a plan, something that would protect me from the tremendous wound I was inflicting on myself.
I hid my cowardly tears beneath the spray of hot water.
Jae Kyung’s POV
“Excuse me, mother.”
“Oh, Jae Kyung. Please, come on in.”
I sat down in the chair in front of her big desk.
“I came to leave you the final specifications for the Art School project.”
“Yes, of course. You have put in a lot of effort. I’m grateful. Your work has been impeccable. Now, thanks to you, I’m able to leave this in the hand of other experts so I can see my vision come true.”
“I thank you for your words.”
“Tell me something,” she asked while skimming through the pages of the folder I gave her. “Did you use the Yoon Group plans as a base for this?”
“At the beginning I thought that would be a good idea, but after watching their movements I noticed that their philosophy and approach are different from ours, so we weren’t able to implement their ideas on a large scale. Nevertheless, we should discard the possibility of future conversations with them in case we plan to open a branch in Korea at some point. I doubt they would be a direct competitor considering the difference in our market focus.”
“You’re absolutely right. We can expect the best to turn out the best.” She smiled at me and sighed. “My son should thank God every day to have someone like you beside him.”
“Thank you, mother.”
After a few more minutes of conversation, I left my mother-in-law’s office. Jun Pyo wasn’t coming home until late because of a board meeting, so I had some free time to spend however I wanted. A movie and ice cream sounded wonderful.
After a hot shower, I put on some comfortable clothes and pulled the ice cream out of the freezer. As I waited for it to soften a little so I could scoop it, I opened my computer to see what would be good to watch according to the cinema listings. Before I could even begin my search, I saw I had a new email from Jan Di.
We still wrote emails to each other once in a while. In the last one, she’d told me how hectic her schedule was preparing for final exams. I had dashed off a quick replay and hadn’t heard from her since.
I opened the mail.
How are you? I’d like to announce that Geum Jan Di passed all her fourth semester courses, and with excellent grades! How about that? It was really difficult. You can’t imagine all the things that were happening during exams week.
First of all, Ga Eul was kidnapped. DON’T panic; she’s already safe. Woo Bin and Ji Hoo rescued her the same day she was taken, but you can imagine how worried we all were. We even had a protection detail from the Song family tailing us for several weeks just to be sure the danger was really over. Thank God everything ended up okay. I pray nothing like that happens ever again. It seems crazy that there are people out there who would hurt others just because of their last name.
Are you alright, unnie? You never go out alone at night, right? Do you always have your faithful bodyguard with you to protect you? Don’t expose yourself to any danger, okay, unnie? Ga Eul and I worry about you.
And just when that crisis was over, I was involved in a car accident like something out of a movie! I came out unscathed because I wasn’t directly in the crash, but I had to perform an emergency mini-procedure – and in the rain! Can you picture yourself having to cut into someone else’s body? I tremble when I remember…”
As I read, I felt myself trembling, too. How had my two friends gotten involved in such dangerous situations? Jan Di related in detail everything she did to save two people, and I felt proud of her. Jun Pyo had told me that Jan Di had wanted to be a professional swimmer, but wasn’t able to because of an accident. I was glad her new dream of being a doctor was going so well, just like Ga Eul’s ambition to become a teacher.
“And, finally, I want to tell you this because I consider us to be good friends after all the time we’ve spent talking and writing with each other. You have always supported me at every turn, unnie, and I always want you to know what’s going on in my life.
Ji Hoo and I are a couple. Can you believe it?!…”
The news made my head spin. Could I believe it? Of course I could! I knew Ji Hoo had been in love with Jan Di since day one. Now, after two long years, the two of them had finally found their way to each other. It was clear from the rest of the note how happy Jan Di was feeling. I laughed at her recounting of a huge misunderstanding with one of her teachers and a friend.
I was happy for them, truly, but now my main concern was whether Ji Hoo would share the news with Jun Pyo when they talked.
True, they rarely called each other, mainly for birthdays or important dates; Jun Pyo communication with the F4 had tapered off a lot since moving to Macao. But still… what would Jun Pyo think when he got the news? How would he feel?
I wrote Jan Di back that same night, responding to all of her news with enthusiasm and congratulating her on her relationship. After the initial discomfort of my wedding to Jun Pyo had passed, our friendship had settled into a comfortable rapport. We could talk about almost anything, so her writing about her love life wasn’t weird; it was just new.
I finished the mail without mentioning my mother-in-law’s project. Knowing her animosity towards Jan Di, it didn’t seem prudent.
That night, the ice cream and the movie were forgotten. Instead, I found myself wallowing in guilt and fishing a certain moon and star pendant out of my jewelry box. On the back, one could still read the indelible inscription: “J&J”.
Jan Di’s POV
On our first week of vacation, Ji Hoo and I embarked on something of a dating marathon. He took me to the amusement park, to the movies, in and out of museums, and for simple walks. It was as if we were somehow making up for lost time. Though we had been to many of these places before, now that we were together, each experience felt new and different.
Unfortunately, our physical relationship had taken a step backwards, and chaste handholding was the extent of our contact all week. Since that night when grandfather caught us, Ji Hoo had been too careful about kisses and caresses, whether inside the house or elsewhere. In a way it was sweet, because I knew he was trying to make me feel treasured, but on the other hand, I couldn’t stop thinking about my last conversation with Ga Eul…
“But did he touch you?”
“No. He was really close, but I already told you – grandfather interrupted…”
“Aish, grandfather! Arriving at the juiciest part of the story.”
“Ga Eul!” I laughed and she laughed with me.
“But it’s true! I was anticipating hearing all the sordid details, only to be thwarted by that sweet old man. Whatever. Just tell me… how was it?”
“How was what?”
“Well…your first time, of course!”
I turned so red I actually felt hot.
“Wait. Geum Jan Di, are you telling me that you and Ji Hoo sunbae haven’t… you know… yet?”
“Well… no… not exactly.”
“Explain to me how that is possible. Please do.”
“Why would you assume we already did it?”
“Are you serious? Jan Di, even before you were a couple, you were the most physically compatible two people I have ever met, to say the least. You hugged each other freely, you slept together, you held hands, he rested with his head on your lap…” She counted off each example on her fingers. “You’re so in sync with each other that you can talk without needing words. You freaking live together! What are you waiting for? A gold lettered invitation?”
“It’s not that.”
“Because if you’re telling me that you don’t want to do it with Yoon Ji Hoo, the man with the angelic smile and the perfect Greek profile, we have a major problem here.”
“Is not that I don’t want to, uh, do it. It’s just –”
“Well, for one thing, it would be my first time. Even though Ji Hoo and I share a lot and trust each other, I can’t help but feel nervous about it.”
“Are you scared?”
“It’s not fear. I know Ji Hoo wouldn’t hurt me, and I can only imagine how special he would make it…”
“So you have thought about it. You hussy!” Ga Eul cackled and threw a pillow at me.
“Chu Ga Eul! What has happened to you?” I asked between gasps of laughter. “You’ve never been so open minded about all of this. Usually you’re the one blushing and changing the subject!”
“Well, we’ve grown, right? Besides, in college things are different. Lots of people don’t wait…”
“Have you done it!?”
“What? N-No, but… I know girls that have, and, well, they talk and you hear their experiences… you know…”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that kind of talk before. But the truth is, I want to move slowly. I mean, there have been times we just let ourselves go, and I would love to experience that again, to know what to expect for the moment when it actually happens. I really want to try… uh, things. Gosh, do I sound like a pervert?”
“No, you sound like a woman in love. It’s normal to want to confirm your feelings with your body. And Jan Di, he doesn’t always have to be the initiator. Remember the saying: ‘A man goes as far as a woman will let him.’ I don’t think he would mind if you gave him a little push. You lose nothing by trying.”
*-*-End of Flashback-*-*
“What are you thinking about so intently?”
I was so startled by Ji Hoo’s voice that I almost fell off the couch.
“Uh, nothing! I guess I just went blank for a bit.”
He chuckled. “Well, would you like to watch something? I rented some movies so we could stay in today. I thought we could take advantage of the fact that we’re alone.”
We were alone?
It was Sunday so that meant no staff. Secretary Park had Sundays off and grandfather had gone on a fishing trip with a friend from the clinic; he wouldn’t be back until tomorrow.
We were alone.
Sitting next to him in the couch I couldn’t stop my thoughts. I tried to concentrate on the movie, but the conversation with Ga Eul had resurfaced and was playing on a loop in my head.
Should I do it? Should I try to start something? It wasn’t my intention to go ‘all the way’. What if he thought it was, and then felt disappointed when I stopped?
“I can hear the gears of your brain turning, little otter. Tell me, what are you thinking about? Can I help you with something?”
“I want to kiss you,” the words left my lips before I could process what I was going to say.
His eyes widened a bit in surprise at my request, but he leaned in and gave me a short kiss. As he drew back, I threw my arms around his neck and pulled him in close for another.
I tried to turn up the intensity a bit by grazing his bottom lip with the tip of my tongue. His response was immediate and enthusiastic. His lips parted slightly and he allowed me to explore before turning the tables and moving in for some exploration of his own. It was exquisite. Ji Hoo had a taste I couldn’t explain; it was like his essence. Whatever it was, it made me want to move my lips against his for hours on end.
His hands moved from around my waist and stroked up my back, his strong arms drawing me in, until my chest pressed tightly against his. A small whimper escaped my throat as my hands tangled in his hair.
That was when, with a determined sigh, Ji Hoo pushed me away.
He seemed to be struggling to say what he was thinking, but I already knew what it was: he didn’t want to rush me, to make me feel pressured. It was like him, but right then the only thing I wanted was to be closer to him. Pushing aside my modesty, I straddled him and rekindled our kisses. With my hands on his shoulders, I pressed him against the couch, holding him in place with the weight of my body on his thighs.
Ga Eul’s advice to push him a little seemed to be paying off. My renewed advances met no resistance. When I noticed him hesitating to put his hands somewhere, I took them and placed them firmly where he wanted them.
If it was him, there was no problem; if it was him, he could touch me; if it was him and he accepted me, I would be his…
Ji Hoo’s POV
Where had Jan Di found this new confidence? I didn’t know, but I was definitely enjoying it. Even though we’d acknowledged our feelings and started dating, I had continued to hold back my physical desire for her. I didn’t ever want to pressure her or lead her into something she didn’t want. I had already experienced the pleasure of sex and I longed to share it with Jan Di, but I knew she didn’t have any experience. She was a virgin in every sense of the word, and that terrified me and excited me in equal measures.
When she sat astride me, I threw prudence aside and prepared myself to do whatever she told me to. It’s impossible to describe the sensation I felt as she guided my hands over her body. I soon found out her back was extremely sensitive: when I slowly caressed the skin with my fingertips, grazing it with my nails, I could feel the tightening of her stomach muscles. Her breath turned to soft moans and sighs.
After long, delicious minutes of kisses and caresses, I wanted to take off her blouse. When I tried to lift it a bit to test the waters, Jan Di surprised me again by raising her arms to help me with my task. When it was off, I gently rested my hands on her waist and took a moment to just admire her. A sky-blue bra with black lace covered her breasts and her belly was smooth and taut under the fabric of the skirt she wore. I raised my gaze to her face and found that her eyes were filled with the same desire I could feel blazing from mine. Whatever she wanted from me, I was more than willing to give.
Her hands moved to my shirt and started to unbutton it. Her breathing was somewhat shaky, so I tried to help her by distracting her with soft kisses on her neck, her shoulder, her ear lobe… Soon we found ourselves lost once more in a sea of kisses, but now they were exploratory. Feeling Jan Di’s lips on my shoulders, my chest – her teeth biting with perfect pressure near my clavicle – it was way more than my body could take. She encountered my rather obvious physical response when, shifting into a more comfortable position, she ended up lying across my pelvis.
She froze suddenly, an almost comical look of surprise on her face.
“I’m sorry,” I said sheepishly. “This is my body’s natural response to you. I’m not complaining, but if it bothers you or makes you uncomfortable, we can stop.”
There was a moment of stillness, and then her answer: a mischievous smile and her hips moving against my own, which forced a guttural and primitive sound from my lips.
If that’s how she wanted to play, we would play.
I angled my mouth across hers and kissed her hard. My fingers found the clasp of her bra and unfastened it, slowly sliding the straps down her arms before removing it altogether and holding her close to me. We both exhaled between kisses at the feel of skin against skin. She kept playing with my hair while still moving rhythmically, experimentally over me.
Her breasts were something near glory and I couldn’t believe I was the lucky one enjoying them. My hands moved to discover the size, shape, weight, texture… the latter changed constantly under my touch. What was soft before, now had hardened and grown more sensitive; I could tell by how Jan Di’s eyes closed and her head rolled back when I touched them.
I couldn’t restrain myself anymore and put my mouth on one of them, taking the small pinkish nipple and kissing it, passing my tongue over it, tasting and enjoying. Jan Di mimicked my actions on my chest with her hands and then with her mouth and soon we were both on the edge of something big…
Her hips weren’t alone in their movements now. Because of her skirt the touch was so delectable and at the same time so cruel for not being direct; I wanted to move with her, make her feel what she provoked in me, the power of my desire for her, only her…
It wasn’t long before my body was screaming for completion and I fought to control it. As much as I wanted her, I couldn’t let her first time happen this way.
“Jan Di…wait a second…”
But she seemed unable to hear me. Instead, she clutched me tighter, moved against me more insistently, with more cadence, her hands touching every part of my skin they were able to reach. A few seconds later I felt a shiver go through her, her muscles clenching against me, followed by a breathy moan in my ear that told me everything I needed to know.
Feeling her release her orgasm, I couldn’t maintain control any longer. All the sensations of her body passed to mine, ripping free the release that I’d been holding back for so long…
I clasped her against me in awe.
That’s how the night found us: embracing, half naked, Jan Di above me wearing a contented smile and me in shock at how fast everything had happened.
“Is this what you were thinking about a while ago?” I managed to ask when I regained my breath.
“Mmm… not exactly.” Jan Di told me in a voice that sounded new to my ears. It was warm and sensual at the same time. “But it was something like that.”
“Let me know whenever you start thinking again; I would like to be present at all times.”
That made her laugh. What I most enjoyed about the moment was how natural it all seemed. There was no need for explanations or apologies, no shame or modesty. I felt it still wasn’t time for us to take the next step, but if this was the way Jan Di wanted to get used to exploring this aspect of our relationship, I was more than fine with it.
“Do you know I love you?” we both said at the same time. It made me think of Macao, and I knew she was thinking of it, too. We laughed and lay comfortably tangled together a while longer, sharing deep, slow kisses along with the warmth of our bodies and our hearts.
And it was perfect.