“You’re reading this because you’re lonely, aren’t you?”
I looked up at the guy who wasted his time coming over to my desk. I’d been in the middle of reading a romance comic. I tend to read them during breaks between classes so I can cool off, but with this guy here, I was getting heated up instead.
It wasn’t the first time Sora’s tried to provoke me during class. He’s a sadist that loves nothing more than seeing me get angry. He hated me, and the feeling was mutual.
Unfortunately for me, I took his bait every time.
“I thought douches were supposed to be used and thrown away.”
The blonde dickhead smirked, unphased by my comment. “You would know, wouldn’t you?”
I put my phone down and stood up, getting in his face. Just the sight of this guy was enough to piss me off. Damn, and I thought I’d get to read this in peace today. Several classmates noticed the commotion in the room.
“Yuri and Sora are about to start something!”
“Two of the Three Kings are about to fight!”
“They’re both so hot!”
The brazen asshole with the blue eyes in front of me was none other than Kim Sora.
His father founded the biggest tech company in the country, and he as the oldest child was set to take over the company after his father retired. All that time in the public eye must’ve poisoned him to the point where he grew a second face.
And yet, he only shows that hidden snake-like face to me.
My family’s nothing special, but I’m grateful for what I’ve got. There’s nothing I hate more than a guy like him using his status to make people insecure. Unlike me, Sora has a bad habit of trying to make the people he dislikes feel smaller by being a show-off at every chance. He’s praised constantly by the other students and makes a show of enjoying the attention while faking modesty.
We get it. You won the genetic lottery and you’ve got money. He was the perfect guy to help fuel the romantic power fantasies the girls here have. Half of them read the same school and office romance comics I read.
What about it? They’re still cute stories! Have you seen the suits those dudes wear?
Well, as if I’m one to talk. Those same girls come up to me too, even if I can’t be a sugar daddy like that other guy.
I don’t understand my appeal, but I’d be lying if I said I disliked the attention. Sure, the girls look at me like we live in some kind of zoo, and girls I’m not into randomly walk up to me to give me letters, but you get used to it.
Thank god they see me as the stoic type. If I had to put on a fake smile every time someone came up to me the way Sora does, I don’t think I’d last three days.
We’ve been at this school for over a year, and because of him, everyone has our faces and names memorized. The guy with countless academic awards, and the guy everyone knows hates him.
We couldn’t be any more different.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were the rat and orange cat from that one manga. The orange cat guy was better anyway.
Anyway, this guy caught me in the middle of reading a popular romance webcomic. My friend, Haru, showed me what these comics were like, and I’d been hooked ever since, even though a lot of them are written for girls.
Romance written for guys was alright, but the combination of fanservice and the art written for academic purposes gets in the way of the story for me. That, and it’s so satisfying watching someone who thought they were unloved or normal find love.
Unfortunately, my guard was down today, and the last guy I wanted to see walked over during the confession scene of all scenes.
I’d waited weeks for this!
Even if some main characters are dense and the author likely does it to keep their readers hooked for the next chapter, the relief you feel when your favorite characters end up together is the closest we humans get to heaven itself!
And yet, this guy comes over, pours red pepper sauce all over my cake, and expects me to eat it?
I’m sorry, Principal.
You’ll be seeing me later this afternoon.
Before my fist could connect with his jaw, my savior walked into the classroom.
“Hey Sora! A certain pink-haired someone’s been looking for you, you know?” A grade below us, Haru was the third unlucky member of the Three Kings. Where’d that name even come from? For a short guy, having plum-colored hair fit him. Despite that, his green eyes reminded me of a snake any time he thought of something devious.
Luckily, Haru’s comment drained the color from Sora’s face. “Where is she.” He didn’t phrase it like a question. Seeing Haru’s words knock the wind out of him was all I needed to calm down.
Haru chuckled. “This is her classroom too. I heard you left pretty fast when the lesson was over, but it looks like it’s almost time for your next one.” I could see the snake-like glint appearing. “I’d give you…ten seconds before she’s at the door!” He slyly winked at me. Sora looked between Haru and I with visible frustration on his face. I could tell that he was weighing his options.
Knowing his relationship with the pink-haired girl in question, we knew what he’d do next. Without another word towards us, Sora left the classroom in a hurry.
The way he ran, you would’ve thought he was an angry mom getting ready to chew out some store’s poor manager. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did that as a hobby.
Karen Kim. It fits him.
“Thanks bro.” Laughing at my own joke, I dapped him up while sitting at my desk, leaning back in my chair. Haru stole the desk in front of me, sitting with his chest laying against the back of the chair. He gave me time to finish the chapter before we discussed the big scene from today.
“I knew you’d love this series!” Haru smiled while scrolling through the screenshots of the chapter he had in his phone.
“I thought it’d be another typical romance, but I wasn’t ready for when he hopped dimensions and saw those monsters.” The comic we were reading was a popular one about an idol and a guy who shared the same apartment because of some weird dimensional thing.
“I know! The cat was my favorite…” His sentence trailed away as he got distracted by a text. He rolled his eyes and started texting someone back. “My bad, but I’ve gotta go now. Lunch is almost over and Ahyoung’s been waiting for me.”
“Ahyoung? I thought you were dating that glasses chick.”
“Yubin? I dumped her for Jessie a few weeks back.”
“The foreigner? When did you—never mind. Your dating life’s too much for my smooth brain.”
The snake-like glint in his eyes shined as he said “If you’ve got an advantage, why not flaunt it?” He looked around to make sure no one could hear us. “You’re the weird one with how you don’t take advantage of the girls trying to throw themselves at you. I get that you’re a hopeless romantic and all, but the perfect girl won’t just transfer in out of nowhere. You’ve gotta be proactive in life to get what you want.”
Lunch break ended, and Haru went back to his first year class. Several people came back to the classroom, from the blonde bastard himself to the rose-haired girl he was actively avoiding. I tried paying attention to the lesson our teacher was giving, but there’s only so much you can explain when it comes to annotating old books. I’d rather go back to reading H*cking Romance.
I won’t pretend like I haven’t fallen in love before.
In middle school, there was one girl I really liked. But before I could tell her, she had to change schools. I wasn’t close enough to her to know the real reason behind her leaving, but the regret I felt from not being able to say anything stayed with me even after graduating.
High school changed everything.
The month before it started, I’d gotten my hair done by my cousin who was studying to be a hairstylist. I didn’t wanna do it at first, but I’m secretly weak to the word “please.”
“Come on!” My cousin had been looking me like an art project. “If I just take a little off the top, fix those bangs and even up the sides, you’ll look like a brand new guy!”
I wasn’t sure at the time. “I don’t think I can pull off the look you’re trying to make.”
Minji used her hands to move my bangs to the side. “You got a nice face from my uncle. It’d be better if the world could see it, don’t you think?” At the mention of my dad, I stiffened up. “Please let me do it? Trust me, you’ll look great!”
I decided to silently nod at her suggestion. “Thanks! Just don’t tell my mom that I did your hair. She’ll kill me if she finds out I used her stuff without a license.”
I looked in the mirror after she was done and was surprised by the face looking back at me. I’d gotten so used to hiding my face behind my bangs that I’d forgotten about the face behind it.
I saw what my cousin meant. People did find my dad attractive, and I guess some of that rubbed off on me. I didn’t care too much about my appearance, so the sloppy way I dressed and wore my hair probably canceled any of that out.
That is, until that day.
On top of my new look, puberty decided to kick into second gear at 15.
I noticed when my feet were suddenly hanging off the edge of my bed. I thought I’d moved in my sleep or something, but bumping my head on my headboard helped reality hit me. Reality hurts.
While wishing I could get revenge on life, I had to go to the mall and spend hours buying new pairs of pants and shoes. Growing over twelve centimeters in less than three months was such a pain.
Thanks biology! It’s not like I wanted to keep wearing my shirt from the Wish Orb movie, or my exclusive Orphan Ninja sneakers!
It may not have looked like a big deal to some people, but retiring my favorite clothes broke my heart worse than seeing my favorite characters die. It’s okay, M*ka! You’re in a better place now!
I expected high school to be simple like middle school. I’d make a few friends, forget about some assignments until the last second, and maybe copy homework from a friend in emergencies.
But God said—
“Woah, who’s that? He’s kinda hot!” What?
“Stop it! He’s looking over here!” Is there someone behind me or something?
I turned around, but no one was standing there. Instead, I saw eyes staring at me, filled with various emotions. Curiosity, envy, and maybe even…lust?
Their words filled my head again.
I wasn’t so insecure to think that I was ugly or anything. If I had to rate myself at this point, I’d say I was a little above average, but not on the level of those superstar idols or those models you see in magazines. At best, I had enough confidence to go day-to-day without feeling insecure about myself.
Sure, I was wearing a few accessories that barely scratched the uniform code, and I’d spent a few extra minutes doing my hair this morning to do justice for my cousin’s hard work, but if that was enough to warrant these expectant looks, then I had to call her tonight and thank her.
At that moment, I was too excited for words. This is it! This is what I’ve been waiting for! That excitement died the moment I heard even more fangirl screams behind me.
Back then, I didn’t know what kind of person he was. I didn’t know that he was the type to want things more when he saw that others wanted them too. I didn’t know that the face I’d occasionally see on TV and in videos was a fake one. I didn’t know that my reputation this year would twist and change because of this guy.
I didn’t know any of that.
Worst of all, I, Yuri Heo, didn’t know that in a little over a year, Kim Sora, heir to SK Entertainment, along with my best friend Jin Haru, would go after the first girl I’d fall in love with.