Yohan glanced up at the man who whispered out his name. The two men stared at each other for a brief second until the woman in front of Yohan slammed her palm onto the table. Andrew flinched, as he quickly looked away, his heart hammering furiously in his chest as his ears turned a deep red. He felt jittery just from seeing Caden again. All he could feel in his fluttering chest was excitement. Was this what it was like to meet your first love again? He wasn’t too sure as it was a new experience for him.
Andrew peeked one last glance at Yohan whose attention was now focused on the woman across from him. Andrew bit back a smile as he felt his heart pounding in his chest with fervor. It was fine if Caden didn’t recognize him—after all, who gets another chance to see and work together with their first love like this?!
“… Is this some sick joke? Why would you say that?” the woman asked, her beady eyes narrowing at the handsome man before her.
“It’s the truth. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take my leave first.” Yohan said curtly, not bothering to provide a detailed explanation behind his words.
The woman stared after him, feeling embarrassed and appalled by his behavior. Did he seriously reject her with that stupid excuse?! She angrily dug through her things as Andrew came back and sat behind her in the nearby booth, wanting to know the “tea” between her and Yohan.
“… Hello? Hi, this is Michelle… No, he just left after telling me that he’ll eventually murder me! What the hell is wrong with your brother?!”
Andrew almost spat out his coffee as he listened closely. So, he hadn’t heard it wrong. He frowned; why did Caden say something like that? The editor continued to eavesdrop on the woman’s complaint. He couldn’t help but smile in relief. During his long flight to Los Angeles, all he could think about was, what if Caden was already married or even had a significant other? The thought hadn’t crossed his mind until he had boarded the plane. Now that Andrew knew that this meeting was a blind date, it meant that Caden was definitely single.
Andrew’s heart strummed in rhythm to the quiet, jazz song that was playing in the background as he finished his meal, finally feeling relaxed and hopeful.
Yohan sauntered near the entrance of the hotel when his sister and sister-in-law pounced on him, preventing him from running away. Caught in a trap, the writer reluctantly followed his relatives to the quieter part of the hotel’s lobby. They sat him down on the ivory chaise lounge sofa, towering over the novelist. He felt small compared to the two petite women before him as they stared daggers at the author, waiting for an explanation for his early departure. Yohan kept his mouth shut, not wanting to tell them anything. Couldn’t they just give up already?
“… Yohan. Why are you being like this? I’m so tired of you doing this every time!”
“I told you; I don’t want to date! How many times do I have to tell you? Why can’t you just leave me alone?!”
“Because you’re my baby brother! I want you to find someone who will cherish and love you when I’m gone! What if something were to happen to me or Sharon one day? Who would be by your side? You kicked away most of your friends and acquaintances and now we’re the only ones who could support you!”
“… I’m fine on my own! I never asked you to support me! It’s not like I’ll starve to death—”
“It’s not about you starving to death that I’m worried about! We’re human beings! We need human interaction! Ha… Don’t you remember how eomma* died?! She just left this world so abruptly! What if the same were to happen to me? You really think you’ll be okay? Because I know, I wouldn’t be if you were to leave like mom did!” May cried out, tears running down her cheeks, her chin quivering with indescribable grief and sadness.
Why was he acting like a child? Was this his way of acting out over their mother’s death?
“… Why? Why wouldn’t you be okay?! We all fucking die one day!”
“What…? Are you serious? So, you don’t care if you end up being all alone? With no one to talk to?” May asked, her heart felt like it was shredded into a million pieces. How could her only sibling say something like that to her?
“I’ll just be living my life like I am now. What’s the fucking difference?” he scowled, rubbing his hand on his face, getting increasingly irritated with this conversation. He just wanted to go home.
Yohan knew his sister meant well—how could he not? She had been there for him when their mother died, when they broke contact with their father, and when… He clenched his teeth, not wanting to think about the third time his sister had been there for him. It still made his heart wrench in pain.
“…Are you like this because of Eliza? It’s been three years—”
“Don’t fucking talk about Eliza. I don’t care if you’re my sister…! Don’t mention her!”
“Caden!” his sister-in-law reprimanded, shocked at his cold demeanor.
Yohan looked up with his soulless, icy, hazel eyes as he clenched his teeth harder, biting back even more hurtful words…
Finishing his scrumptious brunch, Andrew stretched his arms, feeling stuffed. He was coming out of the restaurant when he heard a slight commotion in the far-end area of the lobby. He glanced over and saw Caden being towered over by two women. He scrunched his eyebrows as he slowly made his way over, getting a clearer view of Caden’s exhausted state.
The editor widened his eyes at Caden’s cold glare at the two women; it was frightening to witness. He had never imagined that his first love could make such an expression! The Caden he remembered had been bright, like a joyful ball of sunshine, happy and energetic. Now… he was just as frosty as the God of the Underworld; his piercing, soulless eyes seemed to penetrate through the souls of the women before him. Andrew shivered at Caden’s gaze on the two women. He did not want to get involved…
Andrew was about to ignore them and head up to his room— after all, he was feeling quite jetlagged from the 11-hour flight. As he was waiting for the elevators to arrive, Andrew couldn’t help but overhear their muffled, heated argument, which was growing a bit louder.
Unable to ignore the group’s angry whispers any longer, Andrew peeked over again, watching Yohan’s shoulder’s droop with the insistent nagging from… the editor-in-chief? What was she doing here? Did she come here to reprimand Caden for slacking off on his work?
He chuckled at the thought; Andrew had many experiences of dragging runaway authors back to their studios to finish up their projects. However, looking at Yohan’s frustrated expression, it was clear that being pushy and demanding wasn’t going to change the situation.
Clearing his throat, Andrew put on a pleasant smile as he walked up to the trio. Whatever was going on, it seemed like Yohan needed help.
“Oh? Ms. Kim! I didn’t expect to see you here!” he said warmly, forcing himself to not look at Caden.
“Ah… Andrew! I knew you were coming in today and I didn’t even bother to contact you! I’m so happy that you’re here, thank you for coming! Let me introduce you guys.” Sharon said, relieved to have Andrew there to break the tension among them.
“This is my wife, May, and my brother-in-law and your new author, Yohan! Everyone, this is Andrew Nam, the best editor of the Korean branch of SONAMU, who has graciously come over to help us out!”
“Nice to meet you all, especially you, Mr. Yoo.” Andrew extended his hand out for a handshake.
Yohan stared at Andrew’s hand and looked him up and down, frowning slightly. Andrew glanced down at himself, wondering why Yohan was checking him out. With a sigh, Yohan stood up from his seat and started to walk away from the group, ignoring his new editor’s hand. Andrew awkwardly put his hand down as he stared at his feet, his heart panging with disappointment and sadness. Well, that was not awkward…
“I ain’t working with him.”
*Eomma: Korean word for mom
**NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.**