The way his smile vanished made my heart sink. I had a feeling that he was trying to be strong and appear like everything was under control but the confirmation was just unbearable. I wanted to cry. In fact, I would’ve already been crying if not for Kyungsoo who seemed to have already noticed my behavior.
I took a deep breath, looked out the window to shake the sadness away. Of course, it wouldn’t work but I had to at least try.
“He talks a lot about you.” It was Kyungsoo’s deep voice that broke my train of thoughts.
I looked back at him straightaway as he glanced at me. He smiled, the one that was very comforting and honestly, it made me want to cry even more. Gosh, this separation anxiety was something I couldn’t handle. The truth was, I hadn’t really been good at it, ever.
“I remembered the first time he called me and told me about the girl he met up in the mountain.” He paused to let out of a chuckle. “He talked about you for days and wanting to see you again.”
I thought of Baekhyun telling me that he went back to the hiking place two weeks after we met hoping he could see me again. I almost blushed at the thought.
“And when he finally did, he asked me if it was weird to tell you that he likes you that soon…I said yes.” He paused to make way for another smile. “So I guess he kept it to himself for a while. Did he?” Kyungsoo asked momentarily tearing his attention from the road to turn to me.
I nodded. I recalled the day he got jealous of Eun Chan and ended up telling me that he wanted to be my boyfriend. Just thinking about it gave me the exact feeling I felt that moment.
“He’s crazy about you.” His statement was accompanied by a reassuring smile on his face. “I asked him if he was sure about what he was getting into. I reminded him it’ll be complicated because of his celebrity status. You know what he told me?”
I didn’t say anything but just stared at him obviously waiting for his next words.
“He said only a fool would let you go.”
I blushed, flustered at the thought of Baekhyun talking about me to his friend like that. Damn, it was even overwhelming to just think of him talking about me to anyone.
I tilted my head down to look at my hands on my lap. My lips curved into a smile. Not because I was happy. Honestly, I felt sorry for Baekhyun having to go through what he would have to go through because of me.
“He’s strong. You should know that. He’s one of the bravest person I’ve ever met. So, I am pretty sure that he’ll fight for you and what you two have.”
I swallowed the lump that I could already feel in my throat.
Gosh, Park Hae Won please don’t embarrass yourself.
“I guess you are too.”
I immediately looked at him, confused of what he just said.
“Well, it takes a lot of courage to love a Byun Baekhyun.” He said in a matter of fact tone. “Aside from the fact that he’s crazy famous, he’s also a kid trapped inside a grown man’s body.”
He glanced at me and for some reason we both laughed at the same time.
“That, alone is bravery.” He added as he went to back to fix his attention to driving again. “I guess what I’m really trying to say is, I hope you stay with him Hae Won. As long as you can.”
I could feel his sincerity and concern while he said those words.
“Damn, Baekhyun should pay me for being this cheesy.”
I saw how his eyebrows furrowed, looking disgusted. I let out of a soft laugh feeling a bit better somehow. I knew I just met Kyungsoo but for some reason I knew exactly why he’s best friends with Baekhyun. It was relieving to know that Baekhyun had a friend like him.
It took us about an hour and forty-minute drive to reach the hotel where Liz and I were staying. I unfastened the seat belt after I thanked him for driving me here.
My heart was racing as I entered the huge glass doors of the hotel. Images of Liz yelling and nagging about what happened last night flooded my thoughts as I absent minded walked towards the elevator. Once I was inside, I debated whether to tell her everything or come up with another lame excuse. The latter one actually seemed impossible given the chaos going on inside my head right now. When I reached our floor, the first thing I did was to take off the padded jacket Baekhyun made me wear.
I contemplated for a few moments before I knocked on the door. I immediately heard her rushing to the door and in just a matter of seconds, she and I were already faced to face.
“Oh my god Hailey!” She exclaimed as she pulled me into a very tight hug.
“I’m sorry Liz.” I muttered just before she let go of me.
She initially glared at me but her expression softened after a few seconds. “You have a lot of explaining to do Hailey Park so you’d better be ready.” She blurted as she dragged me inside the room.
“You didn’t call the police, right?” I asked her, wanting to make sure that the situation hadn’t gotten that worse.
Well, not that wasn’t already.
“I was going to if you didn’t appear just now.” She reasoned out, her hands crossed over her chest. She pouted before her attention fell to what I was wearing. “Why are you dressed like that? What happened to your clothes?”
I was about to open my mouth to tell her about it but she raised a hand towards me, apparently signaling me to stop. I did.
“Never mind, that is not the most important thing right now.” She stated as she sat on the bed and tapped the space right next to her.
I went to sit on her designated place for me. We both stared at each other for a brief second before I looked away. I was nervous. It was the first time I would be talking about Baekhyun. In fact my relationship with Baekhyun.
“Hey.” I felt Liz’s hand on my knee.
Turning to her, I saw that the expression on her face softened. She might have understood my hesitance.
“I promise. I will not overreact nor judge you.” She said sounding so reassuring. “As long as he’s not married, I’m okay with it.” She added and it was obvious that she was trying to make me feel comfortable.
I took a deep breath before I grabbed my purse to fish for my phone. Unlocking it, I went to a portal site and typed in Baekhyun’s name. As expected, the first entry about him was about us. There were articles with the same pictures I had seen this morning. My heart started to race as I handed the phone to Liz.
Her eyebrows furrowed as she took it from me. And in just a matter of seconds, I saw how her facial expression shifted from confused to shock.
“This is you and the guy I saw you were with last night.” She said, recognizing the photos straightaway.
She tore her attention from my phone to glance at me, probably asking for confirmation. I nodded.
“Byun Baekhyun.” I muttered. “His name is Baekhyun.”
She suddenly went speechless. She made a few taps on the screen and appeared to be reading something. She must have clicked on one of the articles.
“They’re saying that you might be his girlfriend!”
I didn’t make any sound, unable to find my words.
“Is that true?” Liz asked me, her eyes were probing. That one look that she tends to give me when she’s suspicious.
I nodded once more.
She didn’t gasp or something but brought her free hand to her mouth and just looked at me then back to my phone again. She did it a few times before she decided to check on Baekhyun more.
I saw her scrolling on his images and I couldn’t help but feel antsy while she did it. She had been doing it for a few minutes when she finally made a sound.
“Oh. My. Freaking. Gosh.” She said, exaggeratedly syllabicating the words. “This guy is freaking hot and cute at the same time Hailey Park!” She added as she showed me a particular image of Baekhyun.
It was a concert picture. Black haired Baekhyun, white t-shirt with sleeves rolled up to his shoulders leaving his toned arms exposed. He had mic on his hand which was inches away from his mouth. He was sweating probably due to his performance leaving his hair damp. There was also a fierce look on his face and his eyes weir piercing.
“This is your boyfriend?!” Lizzie asked with evident firmness in her voice.
“Yes.” I answered.
“You…” She pointed at me only to stop what she’s about to say as she continued to scan my phone. “I was worried about you falling for boring guys but… THIS!” She exclaimed, emphasizing her last word. “This is so unexpected. So unimaginable. So….controversial.”
I couldn’t really tell whether she was supporting or scolding me. She would look thrilled one moment but then her forehead would also crease in disagreement.
“Now I get why you tried so hard to hide this from me.” She stated catching my attention once more. “I thought this thing only happens in the movies.”
I could only look at her. I didn’t really know how to react to her statements.
“I wouldn’t ask if you love him because you obviously wouldn’t jump into this risky situation if you didn’t love him but…” She paused as she moved closer to me until our shoulders were already touching. “Do you think it’s worth it?”
I knew exactly what she’s trying to point out.
“Honestly…” I uttered before I filled my lungs with air. “I don’t exactly know how things are going to turn out Liz. I am scared…” I paused to stop the tears that were already starting to form in my eyes by briefly tilting my head up.
“I am not used to any of this. When I found out about the photos this morning, I was terrified. I got so scared, I didn’t know what to do…and I still don’t.” I turned to face her and found that her face was painted by worry. “I don’t know what to do Liz.”
She reached out to hold my hand. She didn’t say anything but it was already comforting.
“But…” I bit my lip as I took another deep breath. “He’s worth it.” I said just before a tear rolled down my cheek. “It’s scary but…I love him.”
“Oh Hailey.” She sounded and looked like she’s about to cry when she pulled me into a gentle hug. “I understand. For one second I thought of yelling at you to make you realize how crazy this is but I know you. You’re brave.” She was stroking my back gently with her hand. “And I couldn’t really blame you though, he’s hot.”
I almost choked because of what she said so I ended up slapping her arm as we both let out of a soft laugh.
“Does anybody else know about this?” I heard her ask the moment we were facing each other again.
“His friend knows and probably his cousin too. As for me, you’re the only one who knows about this.” I said hoping that she’d get the message to keep this a secret. “You won’t tell anyone right?” I asked wanting to make sure.
“Of course, I wouldn’t get you in trouble.” She swore, bringing her hand to her chest.
“I already am.” I replied unable to stop myself from thinking out loud.
“As much as I want to tell you that everything will be fine, I won’t do that.” She sounded serious. “You know I am not the one to comfort you with easy words. It’s going to be tough but I’ll support you.” She added with a tight lipped smile on her face. “And if you happen to decide to walk away from all of these, I’m with you too.”
I forced myself to have my lips curved into a smile as well. Liz has always been the realistic type. She’s straightforward and doesn’t sugarcoat things. So, I totally get why she’s telling me these stuff.
“I just hope you don’t end up hurting yourself too much in the process.”
I felt a tug in my heart right at that very moment but I didn’t have enough time to entertain the feeling when she asked me to tell her how Baekhyun and I met. And so I did, I told her how we both met at the old hiking place. Then our conversation led to me explaining to her how I discovered Baekhyun’s celebrity status, how he confessed and how we finally got together.
Liz had a huge smile on her face while I tell her stuff that I thought were okay to share to her. For a moment there, I felt relieved being able to talk to someone about my feelings for him. And I realized how much I missed talking to her about stuff like this. For the past months, I had suppressed and kept my feelings all to myself. It was hard not having someone to talk to.
I didn’t receive any message from Baekhyun the whole afternoon and I was too hesitant to text him first thinking that he might be busy because of the whole issue. I knew he was my boyfriend and I shouldn’t feel this way but having Baekhyun as a boyfriend was a totally different story.
The night fell. I didn’t go out of the hotel. In fact, Liz asked me to eat dinner outside with her but I was scared to go to public places thinking that someone might recognize me so I refused. She was okay with staying in the hotel at first but she received a message from one of her cousins who also lived in Seoul to meet her. She asked if it was okay for her to leave for a while and I said okay.
However, it was about past nine in the evening she also sent a message telling me that her cousin asked her for a sleepover.
Sorry Hail, I couldn’t say no to her. She told me her kids wanted to see me so much and asked me to stay with them for a night. I promise I’ll come home early in the morning tomorrow.
It’s okay Liz. Please don’t mind me. I’ll be fine.
Yes. I’ll see you in the morning. J
Okay. Thanks Hail. Good Night.
When I realized that I would have the room to myself for tonight, I immediately decided to take a warm bath. It took me about an hour and all I could think was Baekhyun.
Why do I miss him this much already?
“God, I’m so in love with you. It’s crazy.” I kept rewinding this scene in my head. I remembered how he exactly said it after we broke the kiss in the closet. I knew full well that I shouldn’t be reminiscing this given the situation that we’re in but these thoughts were involuntary.
I was already half lying on the bed. I turned on the television to distract myself from anything related to my celebrity boyfriend because I felt like going insane for not being able to talk to him. And the fact that I didn’t have any idea as to when I’d be seeing him again made me feel worse.
The TV was on but my attention was elsewhere. I didn’t even know what channel was on or what program was being aired at the moment. Then something flashed on the TV screen that immediately caught my attention. It was a news report and I suddenly froze when I saw what it was about. The pictures I saw at Baekhyun’s house were flashed right before my eyes. My heartbeat raced as the female reporter talked about Baekhyun being seen right outside the bar last night with an unknown girl.
“A lot of Baekhyun’s fans speculated that the girl he was with is probably someone he’s dating. The famous singer had always been very careful with his private life especially with his past relationships so these pictures have obviously shocked his fans all over the world. It’s too early to jump into conclusions but his supporters are already asking for his clarification. As of now, we haven’t received any words both from Baekhyun and his agency…”
I didn’t let her finish and changed channels right away. My hands were slightly trembling as I kept pressing the remote control but found it pointless so I turned the TV off instead.
I unconsciously bent my legs up to my chest, my arms circling around them. And before I knew it I was already nibbling the tip of my right thumb. I spent the next few minutes overthinking and it only lead me wanting to cry. I wish I knew what to do at times like this. I just saw myself on TV with Baekhyun.
Without having second thoughts, I grabbed my phone because I felt like calling my sister, my mom or Aunt Sunny but of course, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Then I decided to send Baekhyun a message because apparently he’s the only one who could and would understand. No, actually he’s the one I needed right now.
With slightly trembling fingers, I typed in my message but ended up deleting all the characters because I couldn’t come up with anything because honestly, I didn’t know what to tell him. So, I resorted to putting my phone back on the bedside table and ended up covering myself with the blanket as I forced myself to sleep by shutting my eyes. I didn’t know how long I fought with all the crazy thoughts in my head until sleep finally kicked in.
I woke up to my phone ringing. I stretched an arm to reach for my phone before I brought it next to my face to check who was calling me.
I blinked twice or may four times to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t, he was really calling me. Why was he calling me this late? Did something happen? I was already slightly panicking. I sat up on the bed while I tapped on the answer button.
“Baek…” I muttered with a voice that had obviously just woken up.
“Hey Baby, sorry to wake you up.” He said in his usual gentle tone.
“It’s okay.” My answer came really quick as I bit my lower lip. “I’m glad you called.” I told him honestly.
I heard him laughed softly. “I missed you too.”
I smiled instantly because of how assuming he sounded but then he was right. I do miss him.
“Is something wrong?” I asked him out of curiosity. “I mean I knew something is already wrong but did something happen ag-”
“I called because I can’t sleep…” He intercepted. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
I fell silent, my face heating in the process too. I also felt the urge to feel the warmth of his embrace right at the very moment. I wanted to see him so much it made me sad.
“Last night.” He uttered. “When you were soundly sleeping right next to me, I couldn’t help but stare at you. Actually, I did it until I fell asleep.”
I was loss for words.
“I wish I could do that right now too. I wish you’re here beside me.” He stated with a wistful tone. “If things were easier for us, I’d drive to where you are right now.” He added before he sighed probably because of frustration.
I knew I had to say something but all I could do was listen to his voice. My heart was melting because of his words and the fact that we both felt the same way made me anxious because we also both knew that we couldn’t do anything.
“Can we switch on to Video?” He asked all of sudden leaving me rattled.
I was about to open my mouth to say something but was cut when I realized that he already switched on his video. He was on his bed. He was wearing a plain white shirt, disheveled hair, bare faced with the still visible bruises.
I was shy but that would be a very lame excuse. Just to make sure my hair wasn’t all over the place, I brushed it with my fingers. I was already in my pajamas so I straightened out my top before I turned my video on. It was a little dark since I only had the dim lights lamp on.
We both didn’t say anything for a few moments and it was surprisingly comfortable instead of being awkward. He was just looking at me and I did the same thing. His facial expression was so soft while he bore his eyes into mine.
“You’re the most beautiful like this.” He wasn’t smiling but he said it with a note of affection.
I held my breath for a second as I felt my face heating.
“Are you saying that to make me blush because it’s working.” I replied with a nervous laugh trying to ease the tension building inside me.
“Will you stop blushing?” He asked with a lingering smile on his lips. “Don’t make me kiss my phone because that would be so awkward.”
We both laughed at his remarks. This man really knew how to make me laugh. He just knew when and what words to say. No wonder, he’s so in demand.
Then my thoughts inevitably wandered to the news I watched a while ago.
“You okay baby?” His, now slightly raspy, voice caused me to snap out of my thoughts.
“I…I was watching TV earlier tonight and I saw the news about you…I saw the pictures…” I trailed off when I saw him looked away, a pained expression written all over his face.
He was guilty. I made him feel guilty again.
“I’m sorry you had to see that.” He apologized as he looked at me again. “When I told you that I would do everything to get you out of this, I mean it. I really do-”
“Baek.” I interjected to get his attention. “I believe you.”
Relief swept through me when I saw him smiled softly. Then he mouthed something I wasn’t able to hear clearly. Was that an I love you?
He then shifted his position. He went from half lying to completely lying down. He also rolled to one side of the bed, placing his phone adjacent to his face.
“Did you tell your friend about us?” His voice came out sleepy this time.
“Yeah.” I answered as I also changed my position into a comfortable one.
“What did she say?”
“Well she was so surprised. I was pretty sure she thought I was crazy but I was thankful she understood.” I answered as I watched his sleepy eyes blink in slow motion.
My lips formed into a curve. He looked so cute I needed to bite my lower lip to stop myself from giggling like a crazy fangirl.
“She also said you’re hot.” I stated to tease him because I was curious to see his reaction.
“Well, she’s not lying.” He said smirking while he fought the urge to sleep. “Just make sure to tell her I’m already yours.” He added with his eyes closed and it was obvious that he was trying to stifle a laugh.
I let out of a small laugh as I was showered by how adorable he looked right now.
“M’kay.” I uttered.
He smiled but his eyes never opened again. I knew he already fell asleep but I stayed for a few more minutes just watching him. I could hear his breathing and it sounded so beautiful in my ears. My heart was beating so loud and it’s crazy because I was just watching him sleep.
He looked so peaceful right now and it somehow hurts to think that he would be dealing with a lot of things in the coming days. I was sure he’d end up being scolded by a lot of people just like how his publicist yelled at him earlier today.
“He’s strong. You should know that. He’s one of the bravest person I’ve ever met. So, I am pretty sure that he’ll fight for you and what you two have.” Kyungsoo’s words filled my thoughts.
I had to be brave just like what he was trying to do amidst all of these controversies.
He gently shifted his position. He was now lying on his back, his chest subtly moving up and down as he breathe. Then he got me so surprised when he talked all of a sudden.
I suddenly felt that familiar warmth in my heart.
God, I’m so in love with this man. It’s crazy.
The very next day, I woke up at around nine thirty in the morning and the first thing I noticed was Liz’s things on her bed. She must’ve arrived already. I could also hear the shower so she must be taking it right now. I stretched to grab my phone and was welcomed by Baekhyun’s messages.
I had a feeling I fell asleep last night. Sorry baby. But then you had a chance to stare at my handsome face, you’re lucky. I hope you did that because I’d be frustrated if you didn’t. Good morning. J
I smiled but my forehead creased with the realization that he was up too early.
Sort of. ^^ Good morning.
I got up and found that there was food available on the table. Based on the packaging, it must have been from Liz’s sister. I was hungry but I decided to wait for Liz to finish showering.
My phone beeped and I was already smiling without having to check the sender of the message yet. It was also the exact moment Liz came out of the shower. She was wearing a robe with a towel on her head and instantly shot me with as questioning stare. I guess the smile on my face was to be blamed.
“You have a crazy look on your face Hail. I guess your famous boyfriend is texting you, huh?” She said teasing me.
I just let out of a small laugh.
“What time did you arrive?” I asked her instead of answering her question.
“An hour ago.” She replied as she went to the closet for her clothes.
I took the opportunity to check the message I just received. I was all smiles thinking that it would be Baekhyun’s reply but it wasn’t. The smile on my face disappeared straightaway when an unregistered number appeared on my inbox. I tapped on it so and read it.
010 **** ****:
Hi Hae Won. It’s Eun Chan. Do you think we could meet this weekend?
“Why did he text me all of a sudden?” I asked, totally unaware that I was verbalizing my thoughts.
“Eun Chan?” Liz said, popping her head from the closet. “As in your first love Eun Chan?”
“Y-yeah.” I answered realizing that it was too late for me to hide it from her. “He actually came to visit me at my Aunt’s house last time.”
“Hmmm interesting,” She commented before going resuming to scan for her clothes. “What did he say?”
“He’s asking if we could meet this weekend.”
“So, you’re going to meet him?” She asked casually once more.
“I don’t know. I guess, not?” My answer sounded so skeptical.
“Because I already have a boyfriend Liz.”
“You’re just meeting an old friend Hailey, what’s wrong with that?” She said in a matter of fact tone as she appeared in front of me, her clothes on her hands. “Unless you still like him.”
“Of course I don’t like him anymore Liz.” I hastily replied.
“Well then there wouldn’t be any issue if you meet him.” She prodded while she put her clothes on her bed.
“Baekhyun wouldn’t like it.” I murmured not sure if I wanted her to hear that.
“He doesn’t have to know.” She insisted since she obviously heard what I said.
I sighed exasperatedly as I sat on my bed in front of her. I somehow got annoyed because she was apparently pushing me to meet Eun Chan. And I don’t get why. Or maybe I do.
“I don’t want to do anything that’ll make my relationship with Baekhyun more complicated than it already is Liz.” I told her and I wasn’t able to hide how irritated I was.
“Okay fine. My god Hailey, chill.” She replied defiantly, raising an eyebrow.
I got so triggered so I stood in front of her.
“You know what, I think I know what you’re trying to do here Liz. You wanted me to meet Eun Chan so hoping I would get interested again and when that happens, I’ll forget about Baekhyun right?” I told her with a sigh of irritation.
“Well…” She trailed off. Her face turned red. I evidently caught her off guard.
“I thought you’re going to support me on this Liz.” I told her sounding hurt.
She sighed momentarily looking away from me.
“Okay, I’m sorry.” She apologized, meeting my eyes. “You’re right. Somehow, I was still hoping that you’d change your mind Hail. I just don’t want you to get hurt. And let’s admit it, this whole situation with Baekhyun is going to hurt you in one way or another.”
She might be right.
“I know you’re worried about me Liz and I would feel the same way if you were in my situation but I already told you that I’m not leaving him. And I am not going to choose someone over Baekhyun.” I reasoned out making sure that she’d feel the firmness in my words.
“Okay, okay. As I’ve said, I’m sorry. I promise I’m not gonna try to convince you to do something you don’t want to.” She sounded sincere this time as she went closer to me and gave me hug.
I softened as my anger died down. We had been at each other’s throats a lot of times in the past and once one of us admits her mistake, we’d end up saying sorry by hugging the other person. And that’s what she was exactly doing right now.
“The truth is…” She paused to lean slightly lean her body away from mine so she could face and talk to me. “I think this whole stuff you have with Baekhyun is so romantic. I kind of had the feeling that he really liked you by the way you talked about him. And believe me, I wanted things to work out for the two of you it’s just that…okay, I was being an overprotective friend.”
She nodded. “And I told you, he’s hot.”
“Yes, I know.” I said confidently and as our eyes met once more, we couldn’t help but to burst out laughing.
“Since you’re not meeting Eun Chan, can we please go out? Can we please go somewhere? I’m going back to Australia tomorrow and I wanna see the rest of Seoul.” She pleaded. “You were not clearly seen in the pictures right? So, you only have about two percent out of ten being recognized.”
I was still worried but Liz was right, she’s going back to Australia tomorrow and I’d go back to my mom’s hometown as well. It’s our last day in Seoul.
“Okay.” I nodded in agreement. “But can we please eat that?” I said pointing at the food on the table. “I’m starving.”
She laughed. “Of course.” She dragged me towards the table. “My cousin gave it to me. Her husband’s a chef so we’re so lucky.” She informed as we both got ready to eat.
I laughed at the thought of us bickering moments ago but enjoying the same food now.
The first place we visited was Namsan Tower. We had both heard about this place a lot and since we spent most of our lives in Australia, we had never been there once. We were aware that the place was always crowded by tourists but since it was a weekday, it wasn’t really the case. There were people but not that much. At first I was a little bit uncomfortable with a lot of people but Liz was right. The chances of me being recognized because of the blurred pictures were low. So, I decided to forget about it and focus on the place.
We were both delighted when we saw the love chains in person. We also enjoyed the view from the tower where we could see the whole Seoul City. Liz liked taking pictures a lot so as expected, we both took a lot of instagrammable photos.
Next, we went to Gangnam which was known to be a good hang out place. There were also a lot of shopping places. I was dragged by Liz to almost all of the shops. We, of course, did not leave empty handed.
It was about eight in the evening when we finally decided to look for a good restaurant for dinner. When we found one, we both ate some of our favorite Korean food such as Samyetang, Bulgogi and of course Kimchi.
We also went to a café called Sun and Moon. And we were fascinated by the theme and the interior of the place. It was cozy and magical inside. They’re just so stylistic and pretty.
Liz was at the counter ordering while I sat on the spot we chose which was next to the tempered wall. I had always loved Cafés in Korea.
I checked my phone and found an unread message. The message was sent about 30 minutes ago. I secretly hoped it was from Baekhyun and when I found out that it was indeed from him, the corner of my lips involuntarily turned upwards.
I’ll drive you home tomorrow.
Are you sure?
I was surprised when he replied right away.
Yeah. I’ll come pick you up.
My forehead creased upon reading his reply. I was pretty sure his manager told him to keep a low profile for now. Why was he suddenly so eager to come pick me up and drive me home?
How is that keeping a low profile Baek?
I don’t care. I want to see you.
I instantly sensed something was wrong. He sounded mad. The tone of his message was rebellious in a sense. I got worried. I was about to type in my reply to ask him about it but Liz showed up in front of me. I decided to keep my phone instead.
Our orders were served after a couple of minutes. We started to talk about some of the places in Korea we haven’t visited yet and promised to check them out next time. Liz also told me to take her to the old hiking place since she was really curious where I met Baekhyun. We were both laughing when Liz suddenly stopped.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
She pointed somewhere and when I followed the direction she was referring to, I saw the huge, wall-mounted TV of the Café where Baekhyun was currently shown. I instantly held my breath as I gazed at him. We couldn’t hear anything because the music inside the café filled the entire place but it didn’t matter.
I saw Baekhyun getting out of his car with a hat, sunglasses, and mask on. He was right outside his company building and was making his way inside. There were fans and press outside who were busy taking his pictures.
So, he went to his company today. Was that why he sounded mad a while ago? My heart started to beat wildly upon the confirmation. What could’ve happened?
I almost forgot Liz was right in front of me because for some reasons she wasn’t able to talk too. She also had this annoyed expression on her face which made me wonder. I cleared my thoughts so I could ask her. When I finally did, I opened my mouth to speak but I heard the customers right behind us talking about Baekhyun. I ended up closing my mouth to listen.
“Do you really think he was dating the girl he was with?” It was a woman’s voice.
“I don’t know, she doesn’t look beautiful.” Another woman commented.
“How could you say that? Her face was blurred out on the photos.” The first woman replied.
“It doesn’t matter, it was so obvious that she’s not pretty. And maybe she’s just someone Baekhyun met at the Bar. You know, one of those girls. She looked like one anyway.” The other woman reasoned out.
I felt the familiar pang in my heart. I wasn’t mad. I was hurt. It hurt to hear people judging me like this. Then I was startled when Liz stood as if she was ready to fight the women talking.
“Liz… don’t. Please.” I told her in a low voice because causing a scene here will definitely make the situation worse.
She thankfully listened and went back to sit again.
We both continued to listen since it was so hard to ignore them.
“Baekhyun used to like cute women right? Do you remember the time when he was rumored to have a relationship with Kim Ara two years ago?”
“Yeah. I liked Kim Ara. She was pretty and Baekhyun seemed to like her very much.”
“Exactly. I mean look at the girl he was with, she’s tall and definitely not Baekhyun’s type.”
I swallowed hard. Tears already pooling my eyes. Kim Ara?
“Anyway, I hope Baekhyun clears everything as soon as possible so we could just all live in peace.” The woman who had been badmouthing me added.
“Poor Baekhyun, he’s suffering because of that girl.” The other one stated. “She should just get lost really-”
I wasn’t able to hear her next words because I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood and instantly left my seat to storm out of café but just as I was about to reach the exit, I overheard Liz. I glanced back and saw how she accidentally spilled her drink on their table.
My heart was too heavy to even call her so I quickly pushed the door open. I inhaled as much air as I could when I was finally outside. I didn’t even bother stopping in front of the café. I walked away making sure to put as much distance between me and those girls.
It hurt. It really hurt.
“Hail, stop! Wait for me.” Liz called and that was the only time I stopped walking.
She stood in front of me when she was finally able to catch up.
“They were a bunch of useless bitches.” She told me. “They’re also very ugly so please don’t mind them.”
I wiped the tears from my cheeks.
“They don’t know anything about you.” Liz added, placing both of her hands on her waist. “Gosh, I hoped they didn’t blur your face on the picture so they would see how beautiful you are.” She huffed, her bangs moving with the air coming from her mouth.
“You shouldn’t have stopped me a while ago really, I would’ve punch their mouths so bad.” She scolded, her voice filled with annoyance.
I just looked at her trying my best not to cry again.
I took a deep breath.
“I’ll be fine Liz.” I forced myself to smile. “I guess there will always be a first time to everything.” I added making an effort to sound as reassuring as I could.
Liz gave me a comforting smile as she reached for my arm.
“I hate them for making me spill my drink, I liked the flavor so much.” She whined. “But it was satisfying.” Liz added as she grinned.
I was about to comment on her war freak attitude when my phone rang inside the pocket of my overcoat.
It was Baekhyun.
Liz saw the name on my screen so she stepped away from me to give me space.
“Baek…” I said as soon as I answered his call.
“Are you outside?” He asked, his tone wasn’t as gentle like the other times he talked to me on the phone.
“Yeah. I’m with Liz. We went around since it’s our last day in Seoul.” I said trying my best not to sound like I went through what I just experienced.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yeah. We’re on our way home now.”
Our voices sounded dry.
I heard him took a deep breath but didn’t say anything.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Baek.” I told him because I knew the last thing he needed was a rejection from me. “I’ll wait for you to pick me up… I’ll wait for you.” This time, I made sure he would sense the affection in my voice because I didn’t like talking to him like we were fighting.
“Okay baby.” He replied and I was relieved to finally hear the gentleness in his voice. “Will you text me once you get home?”
I smiled. “Of course Baek.”
“Okay, take care on your way home. Bye Baby.”
Liz and I were both standing at the bus stop since we both agreed to try something we had never done before so we’re taking the bus in Seoul for the first time.
“Hail?” She called.
“Why didn’t you tell Baekhyun about what happened a while ago?”
I thought about her question because the truth was, I never really had the intention of telling him about the incident in the café. He’s also dealing with a lot right now. He’s got his whole agency, his publicist, his manager, his fans, the press and the public to appease.
“He has his own battles too.” I said as I took a deep breath.
Liz only looked at me and I knew she felt sorry for me. Maybe for Baekhyun too.
“And they’re way bigger than mine.”
Brave. I needed to be brave.