Author: Jennifer
Originally posted in AAEV
Translated with the author's consent by: Jamie and Nho










CHAPTER 10. 19

CHAPTER 11. 21

CHAPTER 12. 25

CHAPTER 13. 26

CHAPTER 14. 29

CHAPTER 15. 32

CHAPTER 16. 34

CHAPTER 17. 38

CHAPTER 18. 40

CHAPTER 19. 42

CHAPTER 20. 45

CHAPTER 21. 48

CHAPTER 22. 50

CHAPTER 23. 54

CHAPTER 24. 57

CHAPTER 25. 60

CHAPTER 26. 64

CHAPTER 27. 68

CHAPTER 28. 72

CHAPTER 29. 76

CHAPTER 30. 78

CHAPTER 31. 80

CHAPTER 32. 83

CHAPTER 33. 86

CHAPTER 34. 88

CHAPTER 35. 93

CHAPTER 36. 98





"Are you still busy?

Lee Qing Wen's voice came from behind, Sun Mi bent her head to glance at her watch, it's already after nine at night, time has passed her by so quickly.

"It's okay for you to leave, I am afraid I will take a while more, do not wait for me."

Lee Qing Wen had been hovering at the background for sometime, he probably did not feel comfortable leaving her behind the office alone.

"But how can I? It's your first day at work and I am abandoning you here to work like a slave, if HC gets to know about this, it will be a wonder if I do not get the sack."

Lee Qing Wen threw her an exaggerated look as he spoke. Sun Mi could not help but chuckled.

"HC? Who is HC?

"Don't tell me you are not aware who HC Yin is? He is responsible for the Bankers' Investment Plans for Northern Asia Region, our Executive Director Mr. Yun Hyun Chul."

Lee Qing Wen is speaking about his boss, Yun Hyun Chul. Of course she had heard of his name, apart from Japan, the bank investment activities for the other Asia regions were under his supervision and control. In his early thirties, he had already climbed up the corporate ladder and secured the position as an executive director. He was the youngest executive director in the history of the company. Besides being highly efficient and shrewd, he was also good looking and talented. The female colleagues in Tokyo who had made his acquaintance wore smitten looks on their faces whenever they mentioned the name of Yun Hyun Chul. Sun Mi herself hadn't met him.

Interest rates had hit the lowest record in 40 years. Shrewd investors sensed a golden opportunity, taking advantage of the low interest rates, issuing overseas bond to raise funds, the Northern Asia region was rapidly emerging as the hottest area for these activities. Two employees had left the Seoul office, causing a temporary shortage in manpower. Each individual had two to three projects in hand and there was no room for further maneuver. In the case at Ta Rong, Yun Hyun Chul was determined to close the account, hence enlisting the assistance of their Japan office to fight for the right to be the main event organizer for a potentially big customer overseas operational distribution. She had been transferred from New York to Tokyo more than a year ago and had been solely responsible for Japanese clients. This was her first time working in Seoul.

"I heard Executive Director (ED) Yun had a reputation of being extremely stern and strict?"

She asked conversationally with a smile. She had heard some gossips about Yun Hyun Chul.

"Well it is more accurate to say he has high expectations on job performance."

"Oh!" Sun Mi smiled. She was not really interested to understand the person who would be her superior for the next one to two months. Since she stepped into the office this afternoon, she and Yun Hyun Chul had not been acquainted. Her colleagues informed her that he had traveled overseas to Singapore and would be back in the evening.

"Your wife has called several times, please go home, and don't make me feel bad." She said.

"It's not very nice to…” Lee Qing Wen hesitated.

"It's really okay."

In Tokyo, she was always one of the last few to leave the office.

"Alright, I will make a move first."

"See you tomorrow!" She waved at Lee Qing Wen.

"Oh yes," Lee Qing Wen halted his steps at the door.

"Do not forget the meeting for tomorrow morning is scheduled at ten passed seven…”

"I know, be punctual, right?" She said with a smile, Zhang Guo Shen, the assistant general manager warned her too before he left.

After seeing Lee Qing Wen off, she continued to bury herself in her work. She had to complete a proposal in less than a day. It is not something easily accomplished even for someone with two to three years working experience, not to mention her, who had not yet familiarized herself with the business environment in Korea. She had spend the whole afternoon compiling background information. In Tokyo, she had two subordinates who could assist her in obtaining and compiling the required information. In this case, time was limited and without her assistants, she had to depend entirely on herself.

She read the proposal she had prepared thoroughly and decided to strengthen the layout by adding a deeper dimension to the content on the management of funds and comparison between Ta Rong and other similar businesses' financial portfolio. When that was done, she restructured the list of content, rephrase certain paragraphs; and after several rounds of editing, it was nearly midnight when she was finally satisfied with the result.

The huge office space was empty; the research center opposite was also in total darkness. Only the sound of the central air-conditioning and the flicking sounds of her papers can be heard. She was too engrossed in her work earlier to be afraid. Now she felt goose bumps on her hand. She was not a coward, but to linger in a strange environment so late at night brought a sense of uneasiness. She packed her briefcase hurriedly, following the instructions given by her colleagues, switched on the security system before quickening her steps, heading towards the direction of the lift.

She had just taken two steps before she heard the sound of a ring. She lifted her head stealing a glance and realized that the lift door on her right had opened. She ran towards the lift without further hesitation, if she missed it, she would have to wait for the next one. She had no desire to remain in the empty corridor for another second. The clicking sound of her high heel shoes echoed along the corridor.

Thank God! She managed to catch the lift, the response of the lift seem to be half a beat slow, otherwise she was certain she would not have been able to make it. She panted slightly when she reached the lift, only then did she realize she was not alone. Someone was already inside the lift

"I am holding on to the open button, do not rush, take your time."

A relax, magnetic voice transmitted itself across her ear. He sounded like a young man. So it was neither due to the aging condition of the lift; nor her short run, but the assistance of a good Samaritan.
"Thank you!" She lowered her lashes as she thanked him. She got a glimpse of a lean tall figure out of the corner of her eyes.

"You are welcome."The man replied politely.

She stood at the other corner of the lift, both eyes staring straight at the lift panel. For some unknown reasons, she felt most uncomfortable when she was caught in a situation like this, where only two persons were inside a lift.

Strangely, the lift halted after every few levels. It took ages for the lift to descend from level 32 to level 20. It'd be quicker to use the stairs judging from the speed it was going. Sun Mi mumbled inside her heart.

"Only one lift operates after 9pm, coincidentally this is the time the security guards perform their security checks in each floor. They have most likely pressed the down switch during their rounds."

The man commented demurely. Was her face marked with a big visible question mark? How had he guessed what she had in her mind.

"Do you think the lift will come to a halt again?" There was a trace of laughter in his voice.

She compressed her lips, turning involuntarily to face the stranger. A young and handsome face filled her vision. He wore a helpless smile on a tired looking face. His steel grey colored jacket hanging neatly over his right shoulder, and he was carrying a briefcase with his left hand. He appeared to have just left the office. She shook her head.

"Are you working overtime?"

The man asked again. She nodded.

"I have not seen you previously, have you just started working here?"

He sounded friendly, she nodded her head carelessly.

It's not necessary to give him every detail, she thought. There are many companies in the building. He did not look as if he was one of her fellow colleagues.

"It's difficult for anyone in their first job, it'll grow better once you are settled to the environment."

Did he think she was a fresh graduate? He was certainly treating her like one, she thought in amusement.

"I know, thank you."

She kept her head lowered, staring down at the floor. She did not plan to continue chatting with this stranger. Fortunately, he too had shut his mouth. The lift descended to the ground floor with both remaining silent.

She looked enquiringly at the man. "I am going to the parking area at B2." He smiled.

She bait him goodbye with a slight nod and walked out of the lift.

It was already late into the night, the streets were empty, this was the disadvantage of being located in a financial zone. Still silence greeted the whole area. It was very unlike their Japan office, which was located right in the middle of a busy residential area. Streams of cars drove by at anytime of the day, she could even go shopping at the nearby 24 hours shopping mall after working late nights.

On this February night, the temperature was still amazingly low. She shivered as the chilling wind slashed her head on. She had not expected to stay so late in the office. The material of the windbreaker was too thin to effectively shield her from the cold weather. She went grumpy as she recalled the events of the day. She was given last minute notice to take a flight to Seoul this morning. She went home in a mad rush to pack her luggage, her father only got to know of the trip after the plane landed. She was not the first choice for the job, her colleague had an emergency and she was selected to be the last minute replacement.

From the moment she stepped into Seoul office, she hadn't ceased preparing the proposal needed for the client the following afternoon. She had butter and bread for dinner, but the nightmare was when the airline misplaced her luggage, flying them to Paris instead by mistake. Her luggage would only arrive tomorrow morning. Her winter coat and clothing were all inside the luggage. Besides suffering through the chill night, she had to wear the same clothes she traveled and battled in throughout the day tomorrow. The more she thought about it, the more revulsive she felt.

She stood at the street, looking from left to right, and not a single vehicle passed by. At this hour, the train and public transport had already ceased operation. There was no other available option but to get a cab. She really shouldn't have rejected the offer of the attendant at the counter to call her a cab. She felt shamed face to return asking for a favor. She decided to try her luck in front of the junction.

She walked along the quiet pathway. Apart from the occasional cars speeding by, her own long shadow under the orange street light and wind blown silvery oak trees were her only companions.

"Pak! Pak!" A horn sounded from behind, interrupting the quietness of the night. She did not take notice, continuing to walk forward.

"Pak! Pak!" Again, the persistent sound of a horn, seeking attention. She swang round, a black BMW had stopped two to three meters behind. The car window was wind down halfway. She tightened her hold on her bag, took a few quick steps towards the edge of the pathway, distancing herself from the vehicle. Her heart pounded fiercely with fear.

"Where are you going, I shall give you a lift!"

His head probing out of the car. That voice sounded familiar, she took a closer look, and realized that he was the same guy at the lift with her a moment ago.

"It's not necessary, thank you." She responded nervously, rubbing a hand against her chest. He seemed to perceive her discomfiture, smiling apologetically,

"I am sorry I scare you, it's late, and difficult for you to get a cab, I'll drive you further ahead."

She shook her head stubbornly. They had just met inside the lift by chance, how could she simply get into his car.

"It's okay since I am on the way."

He did not appear to have any intention of leaving. Sun Mi was both angry and frighten, why wouldn't he leave when she had already turned down his offer. She forced a calmness she did not feel, putting on a grim face, she told him frostily,

"I have said I do not need a lift, please leave immediately."

In this circumstance, she had no alternative but be stern. He was taken aback, saying in embarrassment, "Okay, be careful then."

The car disappeared into the dark night. Sun Mi sighed with relief, realizing the center of her palm was covered in cold sweat, she had been scared to death……



Sun Mi was woken up by the morning call at 6.00am. Her eyelids were still heavy with sleep. On her way back to the hotel, she had dropped by Nothern Gates Shopping Mall, buying some clothes to change for the night. By the time she returned to the hotel and finished taking her shower, it was already 1.30am. If it was not for the fact that she had to rush into the office to present her proposal, she had thought to laze in her bed for a few more minutes.

She arrived at the office at 6.45am.

Apart from the morning shift attendant at the lobby, there was only one cleaner mobbing the floor. When she reached the lift lobby, she discovered somebody else was a step earlier than her. Sun Mi followed behind as he entered the lift. She raised her hand to press level 32’s indicator, and saw that the indicator light at level 35 was on.

The company had rented the 30th to 36th floor in this building. He must be a colleague of hers. She had just reported to work, it would be courteous to greet him. No one would criticize a person for being polite.

“Good morning!” Sun Mi greeted politely.

“Good morning!” responded that person.

Her heart sank as she recognized that voice. She turned her head. Oh no! It’s really him. She shouldn’t have been so stiff with him the night before.

“Er….last night….” Sun Mi forced out a word, “…thank you.”

“Thank you?” the corner of his lips quirked in a slight smile, and he said,

“It seems like I wasn’t given the opportunity to assist you in any way.”

She was deeply embarrassed, and could not think of anything further to say. The lift arrived at level 32 in silence.

She breathed a sign of relief after she got out of the lift. Fortunately, he wasn’t someone from the same department. Sun Mi shook her head, trying to shake off the embarrassing incident and put it behind her. She was due to present her proposal to Yun Hyun Chul in a short while. He had a reputation for his professionalism and no nonsense attitude. It would not do to act like an idiot.

She went into the conference room 10 minutes earlier, she had to ensure that the laptop and LCD projector were in proper working condition. As she strode into the conference room, Sun Mi was shocked to see him seated at the chairperson’s seat. Heavens, he was not Yun Hyun Chul, was he? Sun Mi’s heartbeats were jumping irregularly.

“Good morning!”

She forced out a greeting; he was reading the newspaper. He lifted his eyes to look at her, surprise flashing across his face.

“Good morning!” He responded, his expression inscrutable. (can’t think of an appropriate word, he look as if he was smiling and yet not smiling)

Sun Mi took a deep breath, placing a copy of the proposal she had prepared neatly in front of him, not daring to look at him.

“Thank you.” He acknowledged with a nod, and started reading through the content of the proposal. Sun Mi swallowed nervously.

At 7.10am, everyone else was seated.

“Executive Director, let me introduce you to Miss Jin Sun Mi from Tokyo. She arrived yesterday afternoon.” The assistant general manager, Zhang Guo Sheng addressed him, who was sitting at the chairperson’s seat. Sun Mi stood up immediately.

“Sun Mi, this is our ED Yun Hyun Chul.”

“How do you do?” Sun Mi bowed at Yun Hyun Chul, realizing that her face was burning hotly.

“Welcome, Miss Jin. We need your valuable contribution in this project. I assure you we will be have work happily together in Seoul. Our people here are all very ‘friendly’.”

Yun Hyun Chul commented. He emphasized on the word ‘friendly’ as he spoke.

“Yes.” Sun Mi nodded, gazing at Yun Hyun Chul. He had bent his head to sip his coffee. She discreetly stuck out her tongue, catching his laughing eyes by chance, a mocking smile appearing at the side of his mouth. Sun Mi blushed furiously in embarrassment.

”Miss Jin Sun Mi, let us begin!” Yun Hyun Chul withdrew his smile, his expression becoming serious. Sun Mi pulled herself together, presenting the distribution planning directions, market conditions and proposed actions for the client. Yun Hyun Chul questioned her on a few critical points. She knew he was giving her a preliminary rehearsal for the client’s meeting in the afternoon. The customer in question was one of Korea’s top listed Corporate Group, and had a reputation for being difficult. If they were unable to get the client’s recognition from the first instance, it was equivalent to saying goodbye to the bid. She responded in all seriousness to the questions Yun Hyun Chul’s raised. Took his views into account and amended the content of the proposal. Yun Hyun Chul’s familiarity of the market and professionalism left a deep impression on her. Generally, managers shouldering the heavy responsibility of the overall performance of a company would not have such an extensive knowledge on technical details. It was obvious he had work hard and that probably accounted for his success.

“ED Yun, your appointment with Kim Organisation is at nine thirty.” His secretary intercom to remind him of his appointment.

“Let’s leave it at that. We shall leave at two. Miss Jin, you are to go together in my car.” Yun Hyun Chul threw out his last instruction before hastening to his next appointment.

The airline called around noon to notify Sun Mi her baggage was ready for collection. Estimating she had sufficient time, she planned to collect back her baggage during lunch, and changed into a clean set of clothing. The clothes she was wearing was totally creased after two days of combat.

“Going out for lunch?” The familiar voice came from behind as she reached the main entrance. Sun Mi frowned, wondering to herself why she kept bumping into him day and night. She swirled round and nodded to him.

“No,” Sun Mi explained, “I am going to collect my baggage from the airlines. There was a mixed up on my baggage yesterday. My baggage just arrived today.”

“I have informed AGM Zhang.” Sun Mi added, she didn’t want Yun Hyun Chul to misconstrue she was seizing the time to go shopping.

Yun Hyun Chul glanced at his watch and said, “The traffic in Seoul is horrendous around noon, the jam is bad….”

“I can take the underground train. I am just going to Japan Airlines’ counter in the city, I shall definitely be back before two.” Hyun Chul thought for a moment and said,

“I will drive you there!” How was she going to pack herself in the train with her baggage? This little miss had no idea of Seoul’s traffic.

“Ah! That’s not necessary…”Sun Mi shook her hand quickly to refuse. As she was trying to reject his offer, his driver had brought the car.

Hyun Chul dismissed the driver and moved into the driver seat. “Why, do you still think I am those gigolo type who simply pick up girls?” Hyun Chul laughingly looked at Sun Mi who was still standing motionless at the same spot.

Sun Mi climbed into the car red faced. Hyun Chul smilingly glanced at Sun Mi,

“This is the first time I have been treated like a gigolo.” To think of her frosty face the night before, Hyun Chul was both offended and amused. This was the first he had a taste of being so mercilessly rejected, he really felt…insulted.

“I apologize about last night, but….I do not feel there is anything wrong about it.” Sun Mi said honestly. “Oh?” Hyun Chul threw her a gaze.

“If you were put into the same shoes, you would do the same, unless….”She hesitated, not sure if she should proceed with the rest of her sentence.

“Unless what?” Hyun Chul waited for her to continue.

“Unless, you are someone without virtue.” Sun Mi replied.

Someone without virtue? Hyun Chul couldn’t resist laughing, he nodded his head in agreement after a while remarking,

“Okay, I was too hasty. At that time, my only thought was you were a co-worker in our company. It was very late for a single lady to be alone, I was worried over your safety.”

“How can you be so sure that I am one of your co-workers?” Sun Mi pursed her lips, her face clearly expressing her doubts.

“Of course! Didn’t you enter the lift from the 32nd floor? If you were not from the corporate finance department, then you must be from the research center. Furthermore, it’s near midnight, who would be staying so late except for the company’s employee?”

She was struck dumb by his speech. She felt totally frustrated. Seeing the slight pout of her lips, Hyun Chul smiled. The lady looked….very cute…in her frustration. He was honestly shocked when he saw her in the morning. She was so young, added to that was the little interlude they had the night before. He was worried she could not rise to the occasion. He never thought she could speak so logically and convincingly in business, and acted like a real professional. She was quick in responding to his questions, effectively removing his earlier doubts about her capabilities.

The traffic was curiously smooth today. It was only 12.45pm when Hyun Chul and Sun Mi returned to her hotel, after picking up the baggage from Japan airlines.

“Let’s have lunch together here! The western cuisine is quite good.” Hyun Chul suggested.

“I thought you have some matters you need to attend to just now?” Hearing her comment, Hyun Chul laughed, “I was going out for lunch.”

Sun Mi felt terrible to have delayed his lunch.

“Let me give you a hand.” Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi’s baggage.

“It’s not necessary, I can carry it myself.” He had expected her refusal, from the night before till now, she had said three, no, four times “It’s not necessary.”

Hyun Chul smilingly said, “I will wait for you in the restaurant. What would you like to have? I shall order the food first to save some time.”

Sun Mi gave it some thought, “I would like to have Ceasar’s salad. ED Yun, please proceed to eat when the food arrives, don’t wait for me.”

Sun Mi arrived at the restaurant twenty minutes later, discovering that Hyun Chul had not touched his food.

“I told you not to wait for me.” She said in an exasperated tone of voice.

He pursed his lips, and replied with a smile, “Miss, I have my set of principles in dealing with matters too…” To wait for a lady at the table before beginning a meal was basic manners. Hyun Chul passed the basket filled with buns to Sun Mi.

“I have taken the liberty to order you seafood soup, I hope you don’t mind.” Hyun Chul remarked.

“Thank you.”

“I thought you are going to tell me ‘It’s not necessary’ again!” She bit her lips, grinning. Her eyes curved like the shape of a half moon as she smiled. She had such a beautiful smile…..something moved deep within the heart of Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul finished his steak in no time. He crossed both his arms, gazing with amused interest at Jin Sun Mi who was eating her vegetable salad. She was now wearing a cream suit, and had restyled her long hair, sweeping them back into a chignon. In just a few minutes, and she was presenting him with another totally different image. Was the beautifully alluring woman in front of him one and same as the frightened and ultra sensitive schoolgirl last night? It was truly amusing.

She raised her eyes and caught the laugher in his eyes.

“What are you laughing at?” She asked. “Am I?” The corner of his lip lifted slightly.

“Of course you are.” Sun Mi pouted.

“Do you speak to Peter in this manner in Tokyo?” Peter was Sun Mi’s immediate superior in Tokyo.

“It depends.”

“Depends on what?” asked Hyun Chul.

“It depends on whether we are talking about business or personal matters. Your question a moment ago is a hundred percent not business.” Sun Mi lifted a piece of lettuce with her fork, bringing it into her mouth.

Hyun Chul raised his brows and smiled. He recalled her comical wide eye tongue-tied expression in the conference room this morning.

“My other suit was creased, it wouldn’t be nice to wear it to meet the client.” Said Sun Mi.

A woman was after all still a woman. She assumed he was tickled over her change of clothing. His smile deepened. The presentation of the proposal in the afternoon went very smoothly. The client’s response was enthusiastic. The discussion between both parties took more than two hours.

The good relations between Yun Hyun Chul and the client were visible. You could almost describe they got along like a house on fire. Occasionally, the client would post some sharp and sensitive questions. He was able to give an open and honest reply disregard if those questions were positive or negative comments. This was the first time she encountered a manager from top management who did not act like a typical businessman. Perhaps it was for this reason that the client had a high degree of trust in him, that both client and vendor were able to avoid conversing in casual politeness and openly exchange their views.

Although they were working as a team for the first time, their camaraderie with each other was unquestionable. Whenever the client posted questions regarding details of the distribution strategy, he would look to her for a reply, and add on to what she had related. She understood he was trying to endorse her capabilities in front of the client, to increase their confidence in her; it was a fact that Korea was still a society predominantly dominated by men.

“Simon, don’t worry, Miss Jin is transferred from Tokyo at our special request. Although she is young, her professionalism and experience is first class. Miss Jin was responsible for organizing the overseas fund raising project for Japan Electronics Mail last month. Relax, I assure you we will do an exemplary job.” claimed Yun Hyun Chul.

“Of course I have no doubts about Miss Jin’s capabilities.” Simon smilingly threw both of them a meaningful look, saying jokingly, “Hyun Chul, your company possessed such a superb worker like you, together with a beautifully capable lady like Miss Jin, I am sure you will be able to conquer the world without any worthy opponents!”

Those present rumbled with laughter. “Are you saying we have already got this project in our hands?” Hyun Chul said with a smile.

“Hyun Chul, the planning and coordination strategies you have presented sounded very attractive and convincing. Although the fees charge is not the cheapest, and we understand and have confidence in your firm’s undisputed reputation and quality. But the fact remains I have to persuade and justify to the board of directors. You understand very well there are plenty of profitability talks behind the directors.” Simon was diplomatic in his reply.

“I understand, if it is possible, I hope you can assist to arrange a time for us to further discuss the proposal with your board of directors. As for our professional fees, I will try to get the company’s consensus for a better deal. We will not place you in a difficult position.”

“I have no problems then, let me arrange for the meeting.” Simon agreed immediately. Both parties fixed the appointment with Ta Rong's Board of Directors the week after.

”Do you feel we have a good chance?” As soon as she entered the car, Sun Mi asked Hyun Chul impatiently.

She had not encountered a group like Ta Rong, whose base clients come from various business sectors and spread across a few countries. If they were able to win the project, it would be a job full of challenges. Hyun Chul smilingly took a look at Sun Mi, exclaiming slowly,

“Someone already mentioned, didn’t he, that with a beautiful woman at hand, it’s guaranteed we would have no worthy opponents in the whole world?” Sun Mi glared at him, silently chiding him for being absurd. He loved to tease people, he was nothing like what rumors claimed him to be.

“Looks like you have conceived some negative opinions about me?” Hyun Chul’s tone of voice was thick with laughter.

“I wouldn’t dare, you are my boss.” Sun Mi retaliated.
“Wow, you are so austere….” He grinned as he was speaking.
“I do not know you very well.” Hyun Chul was taken aback. She was right, they had known each other for only a day, he couldn’t put a finger to it, but he just couldn’t resist teasing her.
“Sorry.” He apologized.

For a long period on the road, Hyun Chul did not speak. He was not annoyed was he? Sun Mi felt disturbed.
“I am 90% confident of getting Ta Rong’s distribution project….” Hyun Chul finally spoke.
Hyun Chul’s nod was filled with confidence. His eyes sparkled with vibrancy.
“Are you confident?”
“Yes.” Sun Mi nodded her head vigorously. Hyun Chul’s confidence was contagious. It transmitted itself to her.
“Right, a confident Yun Hyun Chul and a confident Jin Sun Mi, it’s guaranteed we will take on the whole world without a worthy opponent.” She chuckled out loud at his words. Sun Mi stopped laughing, turning to gaze at Hyun Chul, struggling in her decision whether to speak out her mind.
“What’s the matter?” asked Hyun Chul.
“You are a bit different from what I have heard.”
“Oh, what did others say I am like?” Hyun Chul asked with curiosity.
“Err…” She shook her head, smiling, “I don’t know you very well.” She was afraid she would say something wrong. Moreover, she really wasn’t very well acquainted with him. Hyun Chul smiled. He did not further pursue the matter.

“Your performance today was not bad.” He praised her.

When they were rehearsing in the conference room this morning, he had only noticed she had an impressive showmanship, coupled with clear precision in her speech. When she presented her proposal to the client a while ago. Her mannerism was friendly and approachable; she portrayed none of the detached, experienced and efficient executive behavior so commonly displayed in her line of profession, yet it did not damage the image she gave of being confident and professional.

“I have to thank you for it. The practice we had in the morning was a great help.” She said.
“It’s nothing. I deal with each project in similar manner. But the way you fluently presented in Korean language our distribution strategy, that alone has probably earned us a few plus points.”

She needed to thank her father for being so strict with her. Although she had been overseas the last few years, as soon as she entered her home, she had to abide by the rule to speak in her mother tongue.

“Peter has always complimented your efficiency.” Hyun Chul gave Sun Mi a quick glance.
“He exaggerates.” Sun Mi laughed shyly. But was very happy deep within. After all, the person complimenting her was the reputably famous Yun Hyun Chul.



Because of the presentation that they have to give their major clients next week, Xiang Ze called for a meeting.

“ Miss Zhen, I need you to write this case report again in Korean and please also try your best to make sure that you explain the details in Korean too.” Xiang Ze said

To write the case-report all over again in Korean! Shan Mei gave him a big wide stare.
The memory of the torture and suffering she had to go through when she was made to write a case-report in Japanese was still fresh in her mind. Although she has the help of her Japanese colleagues, she herself couldn’t bear to read the work she’s done, it was awkward.

Looking at Shan Mei’s reaction, Xiang Ze smiled and said “ Miss Zhen Shan Mei, it isn’t such a frightening thought is it….?”

Shan Mei smiled embarrassedly.
Xiang Ze collected his composure and said seriously “ I know it’s a little tough on you but please understand that some of the directors in our client’s company aren’t that good with English. If we can give them a write up of the job in Korean, it’ll be able to show these Directors our sincerity and the importance our company view this chance to work with and service them…. besides, the people we’re going to meet won’t be those guys we met this afternoon; who’ve been exposed to the international business culture, so the report has to be concise, minus all the technical jargons that’ll confuse the layman, but we must not be sloppy with the report as well for the people we’re going to meet next are all businessman who’ve got lots of experience. So if you want to compare skills and knowledge, they’re way above us and wouldn’t be convince by some simple and sloppy report.”

Xiang Ze paused and observed Shan Mei
Shan Mei nodded her head in agreement as to what her boss has just said.

Xiang Ze continued “ It’s a difficult chance to come by to have Simon to give us such strong support and recommend our company, we have to grab the opportunity…….. Base on the issues I’ve highlighted, please go through the case report again and make the necessary changes. Do not hesitate to come to me, or Guo Juan if you have any problems. I would like to see a draft by Monday morning; I believe that it should be sufficient time for you. Zhen Shan Mei, the company will count on you to do a good job for this. Oh yeah, you don’t have to worry, if we clinch the deal, I’ll get two more assistants to help you out”

Shan Mei admired the fact that Xiang Ze bothered to give her detailed explanation and took responsibility over the case. She made up her mind to do her best to help him clinch the deal.

When she returned to the hotel that night, Sun Mi began her preparations to amend the proposal. Frankly speaking, it was a difficult task to entirely translate into Korean the content of the proposal using a writing style, which was simple and easy to understand; in particular where all those corporate terms were concerned. She cracked her head, but still found it hard to express them in an appropriate and accurate manner. She completed only 1/5 of the proposal after working relentlessly late into the night.

She was able to get the proposal written fluently after consulting with her colleagues in the office the following day. Although she was fluent in the Korean language, she had stayed overseas for many years and she’d feel more confident in her translation after consulting with her colleagues, in particular over the phrasing of technical terms. After a day’s toil, almost half of the proposal was successfully translated. She was confident to pass up the papers by Monday.

Taking a glance at her watch, she noted it was 5pm. Sun Mi tidied up her desk slightly, and was ready to proceed to the conference room located at level 33 for an internal meeting. Corporate Finance scheduled a weekly meeting every Friday. Each individual concern would present their project progress reports. A representative from market investment would give an update on market trends as a guideline. Although they had not receive a letter of intent for Ta Rong’s Distribution project, Yun Hyun Chul had reminded her to attend the meeting to familiarize herself with Seoul’s style of working and at the same time take the opportunity to get acquainted herself with other colleagues. Sun Mi had walked to the door entrance when a colleague stopped her. “Your call, Ms. Jin.” Who would be giving her a call, she was disturbed. Her colleague turned to remind her,
“Don’t take too long, you’d get the slash if you were late.” Sun Mi nodded, “I will be there immediately.”
“Jin Sun Mi speaking, who’s on the line please?” Sun Mi picked up the receiver.
“Sun Mi, I am aunty…”

The atmosphere inside the conference room was tensed. It’s ten past five, and Jin Sun Mi had yet to make an appearance. Hyun Chul had the habit of waiting for everyone to be present before beginning a meeting and no one had the courage to be late.

Everybody’s eyes fell in unison to the empty seat near the door.
“Have you not informed Jin Sun Mi?” Hyun Chul started to speak. His impatience was apparent to everyone.
“It just happened a phone call came in for Jin Sun Mi.” Someone hurriedly volunteered the piece of information.
Hyun Chul frowned, “We will not wait any further, Qing Wen, please begin!”

Sun Mi pushed the door open, walking into the conference room. She immediately felt a dozen pair of eyes staring at her.
“I am sorry, I was detained last minute.” Sun Mi bowed to apologize.
Yun Hyun Chul looked at her coldly, signaled for Lee Qing Wen to continue. Sun Mi stood at the side of the door, deeply embarrassed. Zhang Guo Sheng indicated to her with his hand to take the empty seat nearest to the door.

Her colleagues took turns to present their progress reports, but Sun Mi did not hear a single word, loss in her own thoughts. Aunty told her over the phone her father had fainted in the school this morning and was taken to the hospital in an emergency.

He was treated in the emergency ward and had just regain consciousness. His hands and feet were not very mobile. The doctors were worried he might have a blood clot in his brains or there might be some other sickness, and had forced her father to stay in the hospital for a thorough check-up. Her father was okay when they spoke over the phone this morning, how could there be such a turn of events? She had been so busy lately that she had forgotten to monitor her father’s annual health screening. Ai, she had been too careless, hopefully nothing should happen to her father….

“Jin Sun Mi!” Someone pulled her sleeve to jolt her out of her reverie. She looked at the colleague beside her uncomprehendingly.

“ED Yun is addressing you!” He pointed towards the front.

Sun Mi looked towards the direction of Yun Hyun Chul, he was looking at her frowningly.
“Will you be able to complete your proposal on Monday?”
“Should be able to.” Sun Mi replied softly, avoiding Hyun Chul’s gaze.

“We will adjourn our meeting…” Hyun Chul gazed around the room.
“I hope we will be punctual in the future, we should know how to differentiate between business and personal matters.”
His tone was calm, delivering the message without haste. He did not need to specify a name. Sun Mi knew whom he was referring to.

Sun Mi was already sadden, coupled with Hyun Chul’s comment, she felt wronged. Her eyes brim with tears. She quickly lowered her head, wiping her tears away with her fingers. She did not want to be embarrassed in front of her colleagues. Her distraction a while ago must have been viewed as a joke.

Sun Mi was at Hyun Chul’s office at half past six. After some thoughts, she decided to give him an explanation. She didn’t want him to mistake her as a person who could not separate her personal and working lives. She was late because she needed the time to control her raging emotions.

She tapped lightly on the door twice, but there was no response. There was no one at the waiting room; the secretary must have left the office. The desk was tidily cleaned. The door for the inner office was not shut completely, and Hyun Chul’s voice could be heard distinctly.

He appeared to be engaged on the phone with someone. Sun Mi felt uncomfortable and was about to retreat her steps outside the door; and see him later when she heard Hyun Chul mentioning her name. She halted her steps involuntarily.

“Ai, Why does Jin Sun Mi behave like a schoolgirl who has just step into society. Her eyes redden just because I chided her a little. It really shocked me….What, am I bullying your staff…”

SM’s pride was hurt listening to XZ’s criticism. She swirled round to walk out of the office. She had loss her desire to explain further to him.

The needle of her bedside alarm clock pointed to “two”. It was late into the night. She had been sitting in front of the hotel desk for a few hours, but there wasn’t any progress on the report she was working on. It still remained at the same few pages. She could not concentrate with the thought of her father in the hospital. She had a telephone conversation with aunty earlier in the evening. Aunty had reassured her that her father’s condition was not serious and told her not to worry. She still felt something was amiss. NO! She needed to make a trip home to witness that herself.

She booked the first flight available to Tokyo. Dashing to Kimpu Airport first thing in the morning. She send out an e-mail before she left.

XZ tossed and turned in his bed the whole night. He didn’t sleep well. The image of SM’s reddened eyes and her move to silently wipe away her tears kept playing like video clips before his mind.

Generally speaking, only one out of a thousand was selected into their profession. Besides undergoing an educational test, they would need to go through character and IQ screening to ascertain their level of tolerance in withstanding pressure. How could a person cry as she did before everyone? Had he really been that harsh? Peter’s earlier comments troubled XZ.

He had returned to his office after concluding the afternoon’s meeting. Coincidentally, Peter had called. When he heard what had transpired with Jin Sun Mi, he began questioning XZ.

“What, SM cried? Brother XZ, you must have been too fierce! What have you said?”
“Please, it’s not like that…”XZ was quick to defend himself, repeating every single word he had uttered to SM in the meeting.

“Mmm…there must be some misunderstanding somewhere. SM has always had high self-expectation. It’s not possible she’d delay joining the meeting because of a phone call. Maybe someone had given her the wrong time…She is very proud and probably felt ashamed, being chastised before so many others. Talk to her when you have time. If Ta Rong’s project were awarded, you’d be colleagues for long period of time. XZ, …you should show more politeness when you are speaking to a lady. Hey, I warn you, do not bully my staff!”

Peter was acting like an old man, grumbling away, reminding him of this and that. XZ became increasingly amused as he listened.

“Hey, have you a special relationship with Jin Sun Mi? You are so protective towards her.” XZ asked.
“Special relationship? You are quite right! I interviewed Sun Mi when she came for an interview in New York. She impressed me then and we met again in New York. This must be what you called ‘fated’ in the East! Laying this aside, the few projects she was involved in the past one and a half years since she was transferred to Japan were very well received. The clients were well satisfied and specifically asked for her in subsequent projects. I should definitely take good care of such a brilliant staff, don’t you think so?”

“Ha, I see you are the one who had spoilt her. It explains why she does not show me much respect when we speak.”
“Respect? Hey, Yun Hyun Chul, I didn’t think you were the type who bothered about rankings.”
Peter commented. Hyun Chul stopped laughing, “I was only joking!”
“Sun Mi sometimes speak too frankly, but she’d be referring to the matter at hand, not the person. Later when you are accustomed to each other, I am sure you will get along happily. She is someone with a strong sense of responsibility and also a team player. She’ll offer a helping hand even when she is very busy, and does not bother if that placed her at a disadvantage. It’s not often you meet someone like her in our profession. Hyun Chul, be assured that Sun Mi would do her best to satisfactorily complete the task for you.” Peter reminded Hyun Chul repeatedly before hanging up.

He’d phone her tomorrow, thought Hyun Chul. He’d not be apologizing. Quoting what she had said herself; he didn’t feel there was anything wrong with the way he dealt with the matter. Team had team rules to abide by. He too had to follow the principles set for a leader, allowing no exceptions to anyone. But she was alone in a foreign land; he should show some concern and treat that as the kind of friendship between colleagues!

“What? Ms Jin Sun Mi has returned to Tokyo?” Hyun Chul could not believe his own ears.
“Are you mistaken?” Hyun Chul double confirmed with the hotel reception.
“Yes, Ms. Jin Sun Mi left early in the morning. She advised she’d be back tomorrow night.”

Hyun Chul sighed heavily. Although Jin Sun Mi was an impressive performer, but perhaps she was still young which explained her lack of consideration when handling such matters. Although they had not gotten the Ta Rong contract, and the deadline set for her was not due; and he had no authority over her movements, but this was a critical stage in their bid for the project and a need might arise to contact her anytime. Even if she had some last minute emergency and needed to leave, she should have let him know because they were working as a team.

Ai, the lady was too obstinate. She should not have left without informing him even though she was unhappy with what had occurred yesterday afternoon. Her method of dealing with matters would sooner or later place her at a disadvantage in a foreign business firm. He truly had to find the opportunity to communicate with her nicely….



Shan Mei left very early in the morning. She got off the train one station before her stop, and walked to work in the peak hour crowd.

She had arrived back in Seoul the previous night on the late night flight from Tokyo, and spent most of the night working on her summary report. It felt as if she hadn’t even had the chance to shut her eyes the whole night. She had managed to complete her work by burning the midnight candle over the past 3 nights. Thankfully, she was normally quite fit and healthy, so she was able to keep the pace up. During her weekend in Tokyo, she spent the day at the hospital with her father, and could only start her work late at night. As a result, it was difficult to keep things to schedule.

The report on her father’s tests was due out today, and he was expected to be discharged, as long as nothing unexpected showed up in the results. Lately, her father had been busy preparing for a seminar, and had neglected his own health. He passed out at work from a sudden rise in blood pressure due to the stress he was under. He was now under doctor’s orders to rest and recuperate at home for a few days before returning to work.

Shan Mei really wanted to stay in Tokyo in order to stay in close touch with her father and take care of him. She knew that all she needed to do to achieve this was to talk to Peter, and he would send someone to replace her. She decided that she would wait until they had completed the presentation to the Board of Directors of Da Rong, and clinched the deal with them. Once the deal was done, it would be easy to hand the rest of the project to another colleague from Tokyo. Even Yin Xiang Zhe would not have any objections then. She had already put substantial effort into this project, and was unwilling to leave it half complete. Because of her own professionalism, she treasured each project as an opportunity and an experience. She really wanted to take this opportunity to take the project to the completion of its first stage.

She suddenly realised how quiet and peaceful Seoul was, perhaps because she was feeling more relaxed now. As she walked, the air was brisk with the promise of a fine day. A few crows flew past; there was the faint fragrance of flowers, and the almond blossoms in the trees were dancing in a soft breeze. It was a beautiful scene. However, she still felt that the almond blossom boulevard in Ching Shan (???yama in Tokyo??) was more alluring and romantic by far.

Once she arrived at the office, she quickly made a few copies of the report she had completed. Yin Xiang Zhe had specified that he wanted to review this report today.

When Shan Mei arrived at Xiang Zhe’s office, she found it empty. Even the secretary had not arrived yet. Well, just sit here and wait, I guess! He should be arriving soon. Shan Mei reached and out casually looked through the pages of the Asian Wall Street Journal that was on the table.

A few minutes later, Xiang Zhe stepped into the office.
“Good Morning!” Shan Mei hurriedly got to her feet.
Xiang Zhe glanced at her and nodded.
“I’ve completed my report,” she waved the document at him.
“Come on in…”
Shan Mei followed Xiang Zhe into his office and was dazzled by the morning light.

Through the full length windows, she could see the dazzling Han River and Guang River as well as the six or seven bridges spanning them. Under the clear blue sky, the view was just picture-perfect.
“You’ve got a fabulous view,” Shan Mei said with admiration in her voice.

Turning back, she saw that Xiang Zhe had already sat down at his desk, and had started reading her report. She quickly sat down nervously. Xiang Zhe remained silent as he intently went through the material, leaving Shan Mei feeling even more nervous than before.

“At first glance, it looks alright, but I’ll go through it again in detail later,” Xiang Zhe finally spat out the words dispassionately.
“In that case, I’ll go back to my office then,” Shen Mei started to stand up.
“Please sit down. I have something else I want to say.”
Xiang Zhe stopped her, the expression in his face making her extremely uneasy.
“Wh…What is it?” Shan Mei asked.
Xiang Zhe crossed his arms in front of his chest and surveyed her intently.
“Zhen Shan Mei, I cannot dispute the fact that you are very competent and excellent at your work ….. However, there are a few things about your performance that I would like to discuss…”
“What things?” Shan Mei asked, puzzled.
“When you work with this team … ” Xiang Zhe searched for the right words. Peter always had to remind him to use a milder tone of voice, especially when dealing with the ladies. “….team work and co-operation are important. You never know when you will need the assistance of your teammates. During the course of a project, it is important to make yourself available to your teammates at all times. You should get into the habit of leaving your contact details…The next time you decide to go to Tokyo, I hope you will at least let us know…”
“I….” Shan Mei started, then stopped.
“If you don’t feel comfortable telling me, you should at least tell another teammate.” Xiang Zhe kept his tone friendly and empathetic.
“This should be mild enough!” he thought. God! It was even more difficult than watching his words when with the clients! And she was his colleague, not even his girlfriend!

Shan Mei swallowed the words that were on the edge of her lips. “Yes, I’ll take note in the future.” She nodded her head, but was feeling very hard done by. Obviously, Yin Xiang Zhe hadn’t received her email. She just couldn’t be bothered to explain herself any more.

On returning to her own office, and logging onto the computer, she realised that her email had been undelivered. On closer examination, she could have kicked herself. She had misspelt his name! Darn it! How unlucky could she be? First, she gets hauled up for dealing with her private affairs on company time, then to be accused of going “AWOL”. What must Yin Xiang Zhe think of her! Never mind. They were probably born under conflicting star signs or something.

In retrospect, she really couldn’t lay any blame on Yin Xiang Zhe. It was true, she WAS late to the meeting, AND she didn’t inform him of her trip to Tokyo over the weekend. Although she knew she had good reason for both events, she had to admit to herself that she hadn’t handled the situation very well – no, she actually handled the situation very badly. It was no wonder that Yin Xiang Zhe lost his cool. Taking all things into consideration, his tone of voice earlier was already very mild.

Xiang Zhe arrived at Shan Mei’s office on the 32nd level close to noon, hoping to discuss a few points in her report, but found that she wasn’t at her desk.

“Jing Wen, where is Zhen Shan Mei?”
“She’s gone downstairs to the library to research something, and should be back shortly. Would you like me to get her?”
“No, there no need.”

Xiang Zhe sat down in Shan Mei’s office. Her desk was littered with market reports, and Xiang Zhe couldn’t help but smile. This lady is pretty serious. As his glance swept through the material, his attention was caught by a printed document addressed to Hyong Chal.Yun. A message for him? It looked like a printout of an email. The “a” in the “Chal” of the addressee’s name was circled in red with a “u” written as a correction. On the clear border of the document, five words were written in large, bold writing: “SHAN MEI IS VERY STUPID!”. Xiang Zhe finally realised it was meant for him.

What’s Shan Mei writing me emails for? His curiousity got the better of him, and he went on to read it in detail. Surely he wasn’t invading her privacy! After all, the email WAS addressed to him.

She had written:
Director Yin,
Please accept my apologies. Some urgent family matters have cropped up, and I need to take a trip to Tokyo. My contact number there is 913 28 756. Will return to Seoul late Sunday night.”

The email had been sent at 5 am on Saturday morning.

So she had actually tried to inform him, but had misspelt his name in the email. Why didn’t she tell him before? Surely it couldn’t be because she was still upset at him from last Friday’s events?

The telephone rang, and Xiang Zhe picked it up.
“Miss Zhen Shan Mei is not at her desk. I’m her colleague. Can I be of any help?”
“Oh…Shan Mei is not there? Sir, I’m her Auntie. Could you please let her know that the results of the tests on her father are all clear, and he will be discharged from the hospital this afternoon. Please tell her not to worry.”

Xiang Zhe left a note on Xhang Mei’s desk, and returned to his own office.

He was feeling bad for having told her off. Why didn’t she just explain the situation to him? Was he really being so difficult that she did not feel comfortable enough to do that? Why was she so willing to take the blame, without even trying to defend herself? Looks like this is one stubborn lady.

On Tuesday, they got together and went to Da Rong to attend the Board Meeting. Xiang Zhe did not do any hard sell at all. He spent the time going through his past experiences, and discussing potential strategies for Da Rong.
“This is the first time that Da Rong is looking for investors on the international market. The objective of this exercise is not just to raise some low-cost capital. It is important to get the basics right, and publicise the company in such a way as to attract the best investors because we believe that, based on your current growth projections, you will probably go to market more than once. We are not talking here about some little one to two million small-scale placement. You are looking at some serious money, and will therefore need to make sure your prospectus and business plans are watertight, so that, no matter who you eventually go with, you are looking at long term investors who will stand by you.”

Xiang Zhe’s calm and collected attitude, together with his concise and honest analysis struck a chord with his audience. The cool and serious demeanor of the senior executives melted into a warm, open attitude. They then started firing questions, thick and fast. This was a good sign, as it meant that they were at least considering Xiang Zhe’s strategy. Xiang Zhe started to smile, and answered each question unhurriedly and in detail. The meeting warmed up and generated considerable excitement after that.

Just as the meeting was about to come to a close, Xiang Zhe finally started his sell. “During the very difficult times we had in second half of last year, our company still managed to place 8 contracts for more than 5 million US dollars on the market. During the first quarter of this year, have already completed 5 similar placements….”

When they got into the car, Xiang Zhe smiled broadly and said, “I’m pretty sure we’ve got the deal as the main player in this…”

The next day, Da Rong did really award them the undertaking. Everyone in the office was delighted. With this placement of almost 10 million US dollars, the company had far exceeded its competitors and was now the leading placement firm in the world.

That night, Xiang Zhe invited Xhang Mei and the rest of the team to dinner at a French restaurant. After dinner, a few colleagues persuaded Xiang Zhe to show them his new home.

Shan Mei was very tired because she hadn’t slept well for the past few nights. She really wasn’t in the mood for the festivities, but felt that she could not refuse.

Yin Xiang Zhe’s home was in a luxurious area of Dian Cao. It was elegantly fitted out with minimalist furniture and dark colours with a warm wooden floor. The owner’s attention to detail and high standards were obvious.

Shan Mei’s gaze fell onto the display cabinet and the items in it. She could not help but smile. It was filled with cute memorabilia and photographs, as well as many teaspoons, little figurines and other knick-knacks that he had brought home from around the world. A macho man like him would actually collect this stuff? Maybe it’s his girlfriend who bought them, she thought to herself.

“That’s me when I was in university.” Xiang Zhe pointed to one of the photographs where he was in sports gear and holding a trophy, and handed her a glass of red wine.
“Cheers!” The two long-stemmed glasses clinked in mid-air.
“Were you part of the rowing team at Cambridge?”
“How did you know that?” Xiang Zhe look at her in surprise.
“Hey….Who doesn’t know of the annual Ox-Cam rowing competition? Moreover, your team uniform is covered with the Cambridge logos.”
“So…which team do you support, then?” Xiang Zhe asked with a smile.
Shan Mei smiles and did not reply.
“I’m actually fishing for compliments,” Xiang Zhe commented, wagging his eyebrows.
Shan Mei chuckled in surprise, and sai, “Is it really that important?”
“I’m very loyal to my college.”
“Typical Cambridge graduate – full of ego!”
“Please don’t tell me you’re from Oxford!”
“Don’t worry, I’m not.” Shan Mei smiled sweetly, her lips curled up elegantly.
What a brilliant and intense smile!
Xiang Zhe could not pull his gaze away from that beautiful smile on her face.
“What is it? Is that something on my face..?” Shan Mei rubbed her cheek.
Her smile gave him was so familiar. Just where had he seen that smile before?

The crowd milled around until past 10pm before dispersing. No matter how Shan Mei refused him, Xiang Zhe still insisted on taking her back to her hotel.
“I don’t feel comfortable letting you go back in a taxi in this state,” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei’s flushed cheeks with concern. She only had one drink, and turned completely red.
Shan Mei maintained a smile on her face and replied, “Don’t worry, I turn red at the sniff of alcohol. I’m really not drunk.”
However, she could not sway Xiang Zhe, and finally let him drive her back.

Shan Mei stood at his car and hesitated for a moment before pulling open the back door.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Xiang Zhe was amused by how she was going to sit in the back.
“I’ll sit in the back,” She replied.
“Why?” Xiang Zhe asked curiously.
“I…I don’t want your girlfriend to misunderstand.” She replied without guile.
Once, when she took a lift home with a colleague, they were spotted by his girlfriend, and a terrible misunderstanding ensued. After that event, she was always afraid to be seen in a car next to a male colleague.
Xiang Zhe laughed when he heard, “Don’t worry, no one is going to misunderstand. Besides, if you sit in the back, I’ll feel like a taxi-driver!”
“I didn’t mean it that way…” Shan Mei hurriedly replied.
Oh! She was a bit dim. In her haste to avoid any misunderstandings, she didn’t stop to consider his feelings.
“Get in, Miss Zhen Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe opened the front door with a smile.

Once in the car, the two of them suddenly could not think of anything to say, even though they had been bantering with each other just before.

“You should have told me about your father being hospitalised,” Xiang Zhe finally broke the silence.
Shan Mei look towards him in surprise.
“I found out by accident. When I went to look you up on Monday, I happened to answer your phone when it rang,” Xiang Zhe explained.
So it was HE who had left that note on her desk.
“It’s my private affair. I didn’t see the need to inform you,” she replied.
“You would even reject any concern I may have as a friend?” he asked.
“Well, I have trouble keeping my private affairs out of the workplace, so I don’t know if I should treat you as a colleague or as a friend. Wasn’t this also one of your criticisms of me?” Shan Mei replied a little self-consciously.
Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows. This lady was still holding last Friday’s events against him. “I apologise for what happened at last Friday’s meeting. I…” he started.
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” she cut in stubbornly. Seeing her resolve, Xiang Zhe didn’t know whether or not to continue. In the end, he just sighed and remained silent, concentrating his attention on the road.

You could cut the atmosphere in the car with a knife.

Shan Mei realised that it was her own doing, and felt a little remorseful. “I really meant what I said,” she looked at Xiang Zhe and said gently.

Xiang Zhe glanced over at her and smiled.
“Zhen Shan Mei, do you really have to put everything in black and white? Can’t we… can’t we both be colleagues as well as friends?”

Shan Mei turned around and looked at Xiang Zhe. The sincerity in his eyes moved her.
“I’ll consider it and let you know,” she said.
“Thank you. At least now I won’t feel quite so guilty…… for having made you cry that day…”
“Don’t you go around spreading rumours! When did I ever cry?” Shan Mei defended stoutly.
“OK, alright. Just consider that I made a mistake,” he had again forgotten just how hard-headed she was.

Shan Mei wound down the window and let the night air blow past her face. It felt really good, and she leaned back against the seat.
“Are you tired?”
“A little.”
“In that case, why don’t you have a little rest?”
Saying that, Xiang Zhe turned on the CD player, and romantic instrumental music softly wafted through the car.

She was really tired, and it was no time before she fell into a deep sleep. Seeing Shan Mei’s deep and peaceful slumber, Xiang Zhe could not bear to wake her.

Instead, he drove to a park near her hotel and stopped there. He got out of the car, sat down on a stone bench nearby, and lit a cigarette.

When Shan Mei opened her eyes, she was surprised to discover that she was alone in a car. After a while, she finally remembered that it was Xiang Zhe who was taking her back to the hotel. Just where was he? Shan Mei looked around. When she spotted him out there playing with his mobile phone, she pushed the car door.

“Are you awake?”
Xiang Zhe immediately made his way back to the car on hearing the car door.
Shan Mei looked at her watch and realised that it was already past midnight.
“Aiyo! How could you just watch me sleep like that? Why didn’t you wake me?” Shan Mei complained as she coyly tried to fix her hair.

Xiang Zhe got into the car and started to tease her, “What’s the big deal? Don’t tell me you never fell asleep on your books in the library when you were a student? It was pretty normal then to have everyone looking at you while you were sleeping. This is the twenty-first century – surely you no longer have to maintain that level of decorum.”
“You!” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him, resisting the urge to punch him.
The way he said that; that better-than-thou attitude he displayed was typical of the high-and-mighty director-god he was in the office.

Shan Mei glared at him and spat out, “You haven’t said anything rational so far – how do you expect people to respect you as their superior?”
“From what you’ve said to me so far, I don’t think you’ve ever considered me your superior anyway, so why bother?”
“I’ll try to be more respectful in future.”
“There’s no need for that. I’m already used to it.”
“Oi! It’s only been a week, what do you mean ‘already used to it’?” Shan Mei countered.
“Well, I’m a very flexible person, and I adapt very quickly to new situations. How else do you think I could have survived so long in this business?” Xiang Zhe said jokingly.

Xiang Zhe drove back to the hotel entrance and saw Shan Mei into the lobby.
“See you tomorrow,” Shan Mei waved at Xiang Zhe.
“Oh! Have you decided whether I can be your friend yet?”
Shan Mei flashed him a brilliant smile, “I’ve just had a glass of red wine, so my brain is still a little fuzzy. I’m afraid I might make a decision I’ll regret for the rest of my life. Better wait until I’m more sober before I give you an answer.”
“What do you mean “regret for the rest of your life”? You’re taking this way too seriously!”
“Of course! Friends are for life, aren’t they? Good night, Mr General Manager, Your Honour.”
Shan Mei flashed that smile again, and waved Xiang Zhe on.

On the way home, the image of Shan Mei’s unforgettable smile flashed through his mind repeatedly. He could not help having the feeling that they had met somewhere before.



In the end, Shan Mei decided to remain in Seoul.

After having discussed her father’s condition with his doctors and determined that he would be alright, she decided to remain in Seoul to complete the placement for Da Rong company. The difficulty of this project challenged Shan Mei. Moreover, she really wanted to prove to Yin Xiang Zhe that she was really competent, in spite of what he might think. After overhearing the conversation that Yin Xiang Zhe had with Peter about how he questioned her competence, she just could not let the matter rest.

Although Shan Mei was already mentally prepared for the challenge, the actual work turned out to be much more difficult than she ever anticipated.

In the last two months, the economy had been performing better than what the analysts expected. As a result, IPO activity was expected to increase as market sentiments and expectations started to support greater investments. In order to ensure that their placement got the best support and price, Yin Xiang Zhe directed that the whole process must be completed within the month.

Based on past experience, completing a listing exercise within a month was not impossible, just a little tight. However, Da Rong was not well known in the international arena, and had seven subsidiaries operating in different business areas. This significantly increased the stakes and the work to be performed.

Shan Mei brought two Korean-based assistants with her to be based at Da Rong, so that they could work more closely with the lawyers when performing due diligence on the seven subsidiary operations. Over the course of 10 long days, they worked long and hard. At one point, one of the teams decided to just sleep in the office in order to save time on the commute to and from work.

Because she spent all her time at Da Rong interviewing the staff about the nature of the business, there was no opportunity to even see Yin Xiang Zhe in passing. However, he would telephone them every few days to check on their progress. According to their colleagues, Yin Xiang Zhe had been very busy himself flying between Beijing, Taipei and Seoul drumming up new business. He didn’t even turn up at the previous week’s Friday staff meeting, and it was chaired by Zhang Guo Sheng instead. Apparently, he was in Taipei that day vying for the placement of a large electronics company.

Before she knew it, it was Friday again. That morning, Shand Mei and her two assistants were in Ren Zhou wokring on the financial statement of Da Rong Shipbuilding. They only finished their work at about 12:30pm, and had to rush back to the office for the 2 o’clock meeting without even taking time out for lunch. Unfortunately, the traffice was terrible that day, and Shan Mei was like a cat on a hot tin roof all the way back to Seoul. She got out of the car a few blocks away from the office, and hot-footed it the rest of the way.

By the time she got to the meeting room, she was huffing and puffing. The meeting room was already full, and she could see Yin Xiang Zhe sitting in his chair, completely at ease and relaxed. She quickly had a look at her watch. 1:58! Thank goodness she wasn’t late!

“Zhen Shan Mei, why don’t you start?” Zhang Guo Sheng opened the meeting.
“Alright…” she took a deep breath, had a quick drink of water and tried to keep from puffing.
“Just let her have some time to compose herself,” Yin Xiang Zhe said with a smile, “Can’t you see she’s just run the 100 metre sprint? I don’t want her collapsing on us….”
Xiang Zhe’s words brought a ripple of laughter through the meeting.

In the end, she was the last to report.
“Zhen Shan Mei, your progress seems to be a little slow. Are you sure you can still meet the Tuesday deadline for submissions to the credit rating agency?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“The draft submission was already completed yesterday and given to each to the seven divisions for their feedback. I have arranged to meet each of them on Monday to finalise the draft. We whould be able to meet the Tuesday deadline.”
Xiang Zhe nodded in satisfaction, “What about the status of the prospectus?”
“I have already arranged for the presentation to majority shareholders be held next Thursday. The CEO of Da Rong will be there to chair the meeting personally.”
“Have you completed the summary prospectus?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Yes… The final draft should be ready by this weekend. Next Wednesday, Brian will fly over from Hong Kong to help them fine-tune their presentation and conduct a dry run.”

In order to get the best credit rating for their clients and therefore obtain the best price from investors, the company would help their clients prepare their summary prospectus as well as script their presentations, and conduct rehearsals for client management. Brian was an ex-international rating agency executive who was head-hunted by their company to assist their clients’ liaison with credit rating agencies.

“Very good. I will attend the rehearsal on Wednesday.”
“That’s great!” Shan Mei replied happily. With Xiang Zhe’s intimate knowledge of Da Rong’s business and his strong rapport with their management, he would definitely add value to their work. There were some issues that she had not felt comfortable discussing directly with Da Rong for fear of offending them. With Xiang Zhe as the front man, it would definitely be easier to put their point across.

Xiang Zhe detained Shan Mei after the meeting ended.
“Zhen Shan Mei, if you have any difficulties, please feel free to get in touch with me or Guo Sheng. Don’t try to do this all on your own. I know the deadline is very tight, and you’ve had to work very hard on this. Thanks for your excellent effort,” Xiang Zhe said.
Her voice was a little nasal during the meeting due to a stuffy nose, and she had developed a slight cough. It looked like she was about to come down with something.
“Thank you,” Shan Mei replied gratefully. She was warmed by his concern.

She could tell that Yin Xiang Zhe himself was rather tired and under pressure. What could you expect? He was juggling several projects each with their own deadlines. In spite of all this, he still did not put any pressure on his assistants, and tried hard to encourage them instead. She resolved to step up the pace of the work, so that they would not fall behind schedule. That would take a little pressure off everyone for a little while.

Shan Mei was back in the office by 6 am on Saturday morning.

After not having had a good nights’ sleep for numerous days, she was feeling a little under the weather when she woke up. She had spent the previous night mulling over Da Rong’s 5-year cashflow projections. Da Rong had been growing rapidly, and had ambitious re-investment strategies in place. Their projected cashflow was insufficient to meet their needs, and this would adversely affect the rating of their placement. She was analyzing the financial position of Da Rong, trying to find a way out of the bind, and did not go to bed until past 2:30am.

Looking at the project schedule, Shan Mei could not help but heave a heavy sigh. She was going to have to pull up her socks and make serious tracks if they were going to meet it. It was going to be another long day.

Although her two assistants had completed the draft of the summary prospectus for the credit rating agencies, she still had to review the work and make sure that the numbers made sense and were watertight. In addition, the solicitor’s report also contained some financials which she had to vet and cross check. At the same time, she would make detailed notes on the material to prepare for any questions that might be raised at Da Rong’s meeting the next week. In fact, she had even requested some material on Da Rong from the research department the day before in order to assist with her preparations.

She couldn’t figure out why, but everything seemed to take longer than normal to get done on this day. Her mind was a bit fuzzy and she had difficulty concentrating and analyzing the material in hand. It took her a whole morning of intense effort to only review the summary prospectus. Perhaps it was because she had been caught in the rain the last few days, but Shan Mei was feeling the cold, even with her coat wrapped tightly around her. A cold sweat broke out on her brow. As she lifted her left hand to support her heavy head, her right hand accidently swept the material off the table onto the floor. She was just about to bend down and pick up the papers when a wave of blackness overcame her, and she fell into a well of darkness…….

When Shan Mei came to, she found herself lying in a hospital bed with a drip in her arm. Turning around, she was shocked to see Xiang Zhe.

When he saw that she was awake, Xiang Zhe put down the documents in his hand and moved over to sit down beside her bed.
“You gave me a real fright, collapsing like that in the office. If the security guards hadn’t told me that you were in the office, and I didn’t decide to come over to say hello, who knows what could have happened?”
“Come on, it’s really not that bad!” Shan Mei smiled and tried to sit up, but a wave of dizziness overcame her again, and Xiang Zhe had to help her down again.
“The doctor says you’re in this state because you’ve caught a bad cold and overworked yourself. He’s just given you a dose of fever medication.”
Xiang Zhe reached out and lightly touched Shan Mei’s forehead. “Hmmm, at least the fever’s now gone.”
“How long have I been like this?”
“About three hours, I guess.”
“And you were the one who brought me here?”
Xiang Zhe nodded.
“Thank you, but I’m really alright. I know you’re busy. You can go now.” She was really not used to playing damsel in distress in front of some strange man.
“That’s OK,” Xiang Zhe replied.

By the time the drip was finished, it was already past 4pm. Xiang Zhe drove her back to her hotel.
When they were half way there, Shan Mei finally opened her mouth and requested, “Can you please take me back to the office?”
“Back to the office?”
“I haven’t finished what I was meant to do today, and I have to tidy up my desk.”
Xiang Zhe knitted his brows and said gravely, “Miss Zhen Shan Mei, I forbid you to step back into the office today. Please go and have a good rest. We can talk about work tomorrow.” Xiang Zhe paused for a moment before going on, “This is an order! Listen carefully! If you cannot comply, I will be forced to take this project away from you and re-assign it.”
What? Take the project and give it to someone else? He must be joking!
“But Mr Yin……..” Shan Mei tried to explain the situation.
Xiang Zhe merely waved his hand at her and did not let her speak.
It really looks like he’s serious about this. Shan Mei finally realized that he meant what he said, and… looked like there was no room for negotiation.
“I just wanted to make sure we didn’t fall behind schedule,” she said earnestly.
“It’s only one night! I’ll get someone in to help you out.” Xiang Zhe said.

They had arrived at the hotel.
“Have a good rest, and see you tomorrow.”
Xiang Zhe drove off without even waiting for her response.

That night, Xiang Zhe had someone send a light, nutritious meal to her room. Shan Mei was moved to tears by his thoughtfulness. As she was feeling rather fragile as a result of her illness, she was even more easily touched and her tears flowed even more freely than normal. And her father didn’t nick-name her cry-baby for nothing.

She finished every last morsel of the meal he sent and put herself to bed very early that night. It was the first time in many nights that she was able to stop thinking about work and have a good sleep. It was more because of exhaustion than due to any intent on her part to forget about work.

After a good nights’ sleep, she was up early the next morning. She instructed her two assistants to stay at home on stand-by, telling them that she would call them if she needed them. They had worked long and hard with her recently, and deserved a day off.

Shan Mei arrived at the office at 8:30am and found herself the only person in the office. The deadly slience in the office reminded her of her first night in Seoul.

She had assumed that Xiang Zhe had only said it in passing, and was surprised to see him turn up just after noon. He was in casual wear, looking much younger and less severe, and a lot more approachable. Shan Mei was used to seeing him in suits and just could not get used to this new image of his. His face was a little flushed, as if he had just finished a round of sporting activity. The usually confident and smug Xiang Zhe seemed to carry an air of fatigue with him on this day.

“I just knew I would find you here! How are you feeling today?” Xiang Zhe noted the colour was back in Shan Mei’s face.
“Hmmm, I’m alright. Thank you for that lovely dinner.” Shan Mei said with a smile.
“Where are Jian Lang and Ming Shi?” Xiang Zhe asked, looking around the office with raised eyebrows.
“They’ve really been overworked lately, and I’ve given them the day off,” Shan Mei hurriedly explained.
Jian Lang and Ming Shi were the Korean office staff who had been assigned by Xiang Zhe to assist Shan Mei. Even though they were supposedly her assistants, they were actually about Shan Mei’s age, except that they did not have as much experience as she did.
“Overworked? I think you’re the one who’s been overworked!” Xiang Zhe shook his head at her with a smile, “What’s with those two bludgers? The boss is sick and they are the ones having the day off?”
“Who says I’m their boss?” Shan Mei pouted at him, “Anyway, I was the one who told them to have the day off….. don’t you give them a hard time over it!”
Xiang Zhe could only shake his head in exasperation.
“Here, this is for you,” he handed a paper bag to her.
“What is it?” Shen Mei looked into the bag and saw a few bottles of “Tai Ji Tonic”. She unconsciously knitted her brows. Her mother used to force the stuff into her when she was young….

“It’s supposed to beef up your immune system, and….. your complexion,” Xiang Zhe explained.
He took one look at her shaking her head and frowning, and added, “And don’t you go watering the pot plants with it!”
Shan Mei chuckled merrily, “Darn it! How did you guess?”

“Here, why don’t you go through this,” Xiang Zhe took a manila folder from his briefcase and handed it over to her.
And just what is this? Shan Mei looked suspiciously at Xiang Zhe, and Xiang Zhe smiled in return.
Shan Mei looked in the folder and found a draft of the Da Rong prospectus in it. Flicking through the pages, she found that someone had already gone through the draft and made corrections.
“Have a look at it, and we can discuss,” Xiang Zhe said.
“Who reviewed this?” Shan Mei stared at him questioningly.
“Didn’t I say I would get someone to help you out?”

Shan Mei went through the document, and found that the person who did the corrections was definitely and expert in the field, who well-versed in both Da Rong’s business as well as the requirements of a prospectus. With the the corrections, the draft had become a persuasive, convincing document that would stand up to the closest scrutiny.

“With someone so good working for you, you didn’t have to seek help from the Tokyo office!” Shan Mei said.
“You really think it’s pretty good?” Xiang Zhe smiled broadly, and a thought flashed through Shan Mei’s mind.
“Hey, don’t tell me you were the one who reviewed this?” She looked suspiciously at Xiang Zhe.
“Why, is it so unbelievable? Don’t forget, I used to do your job, and was in that position for many years. I don’t think I’m any less competent than you at it.”

It would have taken him quite a few hours to finish reviewing the 200-page document. Looking at the fatigue in his face, she wondered if he had been at it all night.

Shan Mei looked intently at Xiang Zhe, and felt a wave of emotion wash through her. “Did you stay up all night doing this?” she was having trouble hiding her emotions.
Xiang Zhe was a little startled by the husky emotion in Shan Mei’s voice. Looking closely, he could see the tears welling in her eyes.
“What’s all this about?” Xiang Zhe didn’t know what to do.
Shan Mei shook her head and wiped her eyes, “A little dust got into my eyes, that’s all.”
“You really didn’t have to do this for me. I would have finished it on my own within the deadline,” she continued.

“I know you would have. Don’t forget, though, we on the same side, and we need to support each other. I’m your direct superior, at least while you’re in Seoul, and I have a responsibility to help you out when you need it. At the end of the day, it’s my ass on the line. I’m not just doing this for you. I’m doing this for all of us, so please don’t feel guilty or ashamed about this.”

Shan Mei was touched by Xiang Zhe’s words. She knew that he said what he said mostly so that she would feel better about herself.
“No matter what you say, I must still thank you for doing this.”
For the first time, she felt a little tongue-tied, and could only find this standard reply for him.

“If it makes you feel any better, I accept your thanks, “Xiang Zhe said with a smile. “OK, now that you’re feeling much better, let’s discuss what we’re going to do with this prospectus.”

The two of them debated the issues, and Shan Mei took on many of Xiang Zhe’s suggestions. By the time they finished, it was already dark outside.

“Oh my goodness! It’s already 8 o’clock.”
The two of them had been working for a full six hours.
“Shall we call it a day?” Xiang Zhe asked. Shan Mei nodded in agreement.
“Why don’t we have dinner together?” he continued.
“Sounds good, but tonight, it will be my treat. You decide where we go,” Shan Mei replied with a smile.
She was still feeling bad about making him work. Buying him dinner to thank him was the least she could do.
“You’re on!” Xiang Zhe accepted breezily.

He drove them to Yang Hua pier. The lights on the pier shone brightly in the darkness. The riverside and the bridge were decorated with the warm glow of golden lanterns, as the headlight of the passing traffic flashed past. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Although she was born in Seoul and grew up here, Shan Mei had never felt any affinity with the city. The Seoul in her memory was very different from the Seoul she now saw in reality. Since she went overseas during senior high with her father, they had not really returned to Seoul. The few times when they returned to Korea were spent in the Qing Zhou visiting relatives. Although she had been in Seoul 3 weeks now, she had been arriving at the office early, and working late into the night. She had only seen Seoul through windows of a car, as she rushed about her business. This was the first time she had the opportunity to appreciate the night lights of Seoul.

The restaurant on the pier was still full, even though it was already late. Xiang Zhe requested to be seated at a quiet table in the left corner.
he view is better from here,he explained.
ou come here often?
sometimes come with friends.
his is the first time Ie had the opportunity to take in the night sights of Han River
s that so?Xiang Zhe looked at her in surprise.
haven been in Seoul for ten years now. It changed quite a bit.
It was only then that Xiang Zhe remembered Peter telling him that she had been living overseas with her father for many years.
ell, in that case, I might have to show you a little more hospitality,Xiang Zhe replied.
Shan Mei quickly waved away the suggestion. hen the work is finished, I will take some time out to have a good look around.
Xiang Zhe said with a chuckle, hen Shan Mei, ever since wee met, you seem to have been trying very hard to avoid me. Am I really that repulsive?
f course not!...Shan Mei said quickly. o matter what, youe still my boss. It wouldn be right for me to trouble you.
oss? Hey, I disappointed! I thought we would be friends by now. Don tell me youe still afraid of making a decision that you might regret the rest of your life? Xiang Zhe put a sad look on his face and sighed.
Shan Mei laughed at this funny, gentle man before her. He was completely different from that serious person she had been discussing business with earlier today. Once away from serious business, he was really a nice man: kind, funny, caring not at all like what he was rumoured to be. Surely he wasn revealing this side to himself because Peter had asked him to look after her?

his place is really busy for this time of night,Shan Mei commented as she looked around the room.
hey have a pianist and a singer performing here at night. Because of that, many young people like to hang out here. The crowd doesn usually disperse until about eleven or twelve.
Xiang Zhe ordered to steak dinners. Both of them were hungry, and did justice to their meal.

As the piano started up, Shan Mei suddenly remembered something.
s that Steinway yours?she asked.
Xiang Zhe smiled and nodded.
nd youe been playing for a long time now?
en years or so, give or take. I had lessons right up until I left for England when I was in senior high.
hat a long time! Was it because you wanted to be a concert pianist?
o,Xiang Zhe smiled again. was forced to go for lessons by my mother when I was younger. I would cry at every lesson when I first started, but I gradually developed an interest, and ended up having ten yearsworth of lessons. However, Ie been really busy lately, and haven had the time to play…… It sounds like youe also had piano lessons yourself, haven you?
Shan Mei stuck her tongue out at him playfully. mart man! No wonder youe made it to General Manager at such a young age. I have had some lessons, but I definitely not as accomplished as you.
sn it strange that you and I have so much in common? Don you think it worth a toast? Xiang Zhe raised his glass.
hat do we have in common?Shan Mei looked at him doubtfully.
ots! For one, we both play the piano; two, wee both been educated overseas; three, wee in the same business; four, wee both pretty stubborn; five,
Shan Mei glared at him and cut in, xcuse me! Exactly what do you mean when you say I stubborn?
m I wrong?Xiang Zhe rubbed his forehead and laughed.
Shan Mei hesitated. He really wasn wrong about that. She pouted at him and refused to admit it, f course! However, I will raise my glass unwillingly, based on your first three convoluted reasons…”
She really didn want him to go on analyzing her. Who knows what the smart-alec would come up with next!
Xiang Zhe was delighted to see that Shan Mei had finally conceded defeat. He actually didn have anything else left to add to his list. He didn know why he was teasing her like this. He didn normally behave like this. He didn know what it was, but he had this irresistible urge to tease her every time they were together. Perhaps it was because she had completely rejected his advances that first night they met and his ego was trying to get back at her; or maybe it was because he kept having that familiar feeling that they had met somewhere before.

The two of them talked as they ate, and became more and more comfortable with each other as the night wore on. She had been in Seoul for some time now, but the only conversations she had were about business. It was the first time in a long time that she had someone to talk nonsense with. Underneath Xiang Zhe serious, professional demeanor, she found that he was actually a very funny, interesting and attractive person. He regaled her with stories about his times at Cambridge and all the silly things he did as a new recruit in the business, and she laughed till she cried.

t time to go,Shan Mei pointed at her watch. It was already late.
t only ten. Let stay a while more,Xiang Zhe cajoled.
The piano suddenly stopped.
re they closing?Shan Mei asked.
o, they usually have an interval, and invite customers up on stage to perform during that time.
As he said it, someone came up on stage and offered the stage to everyone present.
Xiang Zhe suddenly said, et go up and give it a try!
hat?Before Shan Mei could even react, Xiang Zhe had already gone ahead.
Just what was he up to this time?
want to perform with my friend, but she too shy to come up. Could everyone please give her some encouragement?
All eyes were now focused on her. With the applause ringing loudly in her ears, Shan Mei reluctantly steeled herself and got on stage.
She shyly sat by his side and whispered, ust what do you think youe doing?
just wanted someone here to give me the courage!Xiang Zhe smiled at her playfully.
utI haven touched the piano for a long time now.
y dear lady, since youe already up here, you might as well give it a try. If not, help me turn the pages, then.
Shan Mei glared at him as fiercely as she could.

Xiang Zhe flashed her a broad smile, and his fingers moved familiarly over the keyboard. Beautiful music flowing from under his fingers. He was playing the theme from the movie omewhere in Time
Shan Mei listened to it for a moment, then joined him and played a background to his melody.
Xiang Zhe caught sight of her smile from the corner of his eye, and smiled happily to himself.
usic is something that will always make people happy,Xiang Zhe whispered in her ear.
Shan Mei bit her lip and did not reply. Xiang Zhe skill far surpassed her own.
When they finished, the audience called out for more.
ince wee here, let play another tune. This time, it your turn to pick.
Shan Mei thought for a moment, then started to play a quick and easy e Gather Together Xiang Zhe accompanied her melody with a smile on his face, helping her finish the tune.

hank you for bring me here. I really had a good time tonight.Shan Mei raised her glass, and dazzled Xiang Zhe with one of her best smiles.
oes that include the bit when I pulled you on stage?
h-huh,Shan Mei chuckled. don hold grudges.
hat great. Hey, why don we come back here again when we have some time to have dinner and play the piano?[translator note: there a bit of a pun here the words lay the pianosound the same as the words for ourting I not sure if Jennifer meant it as a pun.]
Shan Mei considered Xiang Zhe for a minute.
serious! Youe really good company.Xiang Zhe said earnestly.
She really played that last melody pretty well.
lright,Shan Mei recklessly agreed. He was a very busy man. Who knows when it would be before they had the time? No harm in accepting something that wasn likely to happen.
n that case, it a deal then?Xiang Zhe held out his right hand.
Shan Mei hesitated a moment before extending her right and hand shaking on it.
Xiang Zhe smiled at her and aske, oes this mean wee now friends?
on jump to conclusions!Shan Mei pouted at him and laughed.

hen Shan Mei, have we met somewhere before?Xiang Zhe finally asked. He had played the theme from omewhere in Timefor a reason.
Shan Mei burst out laughing, s this your standard pick-up line?
o, I serious.
Shan Mei stopped laughing on seeing that he really meant what he said, and replied in all honesty, o, I haven met you before.

She really hadn.



After more than three weeks of long hours and hard work, they finally completed all the preliminaries related to the bond issue for Da Rong company. Although it had been very difficult, Shan Mei found that she had gained a lot from the work. Even though the actual placement of the US$100 million worth of bonds had not yet taken place, she was of the opinion that it turn out to be a complete success. She had confidence in Yin Xiang Zhe’s ability to accomplish this.

In addition to making sure that the prospectus was completed and distributed to the various international instituitional investors, Yin Xiang Zhe also arranged for a global roadshow to present the placement and address any other issues the investors might have regarding the placement. They were to cover Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and London in the short space of a week. As Shan Mei was the person in charge of putting the prospectus together, she was naturally included in the team for the roadshow.

Their first stop was Hong Kong. Shan Mei get there a few days early to check that all last minute preparations for the presentations were complete.

Hong Kong is an essential destination for any such activity. As such, Shan Mei had been there several times before, and was familiar with the place. After checking out the conference facilities, she spent some time browsing the shops in Central, then decided to go to the airport to help her Hong Kong colleagues greet the large team of people whom Da Rong had assigned to attend the presentations.

Xiang Zhe spotted her from a distance, and suddenly felt happiness well up inside him. He just couldn’t understand why.

Shan Mei helped make sure that their guests were all securely assigned to their limousines, then turned around to Xiang Zhe and said laughingly, “Do you think we look enough like tour guides?”
Xiang Zhe could not help but smile at the comment. “So you’ve finished what you were supposed to do? You’ve got the time to come here to join the crowd?”
“I came specially to receive you, Your Honour!” Shan Mei pretended to grovel.
Xiang Zhe gave a quick pat to her head, “You’re still very young – where did you learn how to grovel like that?”
Just as Shan Mei was about to talk back, their colleagues called out to them. She could only pull a face at Xiang Zhe before getting into the front seat of the car.

In the car, Shan Mei handed over the guest list for the next day’s presentation to Xiang Zhe. As he scrutinized the list, he started dialing the phone, and contacting the more important ones on the list. By the end of the hour, he had already arranged a few meetings for the evening. It looked as though he was on familiar terms with many of the guests. Their chauffeur, Paul, gave her the “thumbs up”, and indicated that the guy in the back was the best. Shan Mei could only nod her head in agreement. Even though she put up a strong front and often told him off when she disagreed, she really admired him for his cool under pressure, his shrewdness, his steadfastness, and his strong sense of responsibility. He was a great leader, and set a strong example for all. It was no wonder that he was still able to grow the business even in the face of adverse economic conditions the previous year. Over the past month, Shan Mei had learned a lot from him, and was glad of this opportunity. She was a little unwilling to return to her work in Tokyo after the placement. Working with him was just so much more interesting.

Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York. They finally arrived at their last stop, London.

Having circumnavigated the globe over the period of a few days, they were naturally tired. Thankfully, the presentations had been very well received, and the instituitions were very interested in Da Rong’s bonds. The application list was growing by the day, and they were already oversubscribed. Even if they did not present in London, the placement would not doubt have been a resounding success. The hard work they put in had indeed paid off well – Xiang Zhe was grateful that it was a win-win result for both their company and for Da Rong.

Hey? Where was she? Xiang Zhe searched for that lovely, brilliant smile in the crowd as he arrived at the airport. At each destination during the roadshow, she had been at the airport to greet him with her lovely smile, much to his delight.

“Brother Xiang Zhe!” a voice called out to him.
Xiang Zhe turned around and saw a young woman standing close behind him.
“Hui Zhu, what are you doing here?” Xiang Zhe asked in surprise.
She was Jin Hui Zhu, a young woman his mother was very fond of. She visited their home often, and was treated as one of the family.

“I’m here for a fashion show. I just arrived yesterday.” Jin Hui Zhu’s family had helped her set up a fashion boutique, and she was running it well.
As she talked, she pulled on Xiang Zhe’s arm, “I was at your home a few days ago, and Auntie said you would be in London these two days. I wanted to surprise you… I’m here. Aren’t you happy about it?”

Xiang Zhe frowned lightly. The little girl! She was always so enthusiastic and overt with her reactions! It really wasn’t appropriate in the circumstances.
Hui Zhu noticed his reaction, and she started to pout, “I came all this way just to see you, and you’re not even the least grateful! When I get home, I’m going to complain to Auntie…”
“I have a lot to do….” Xiang Zhe was running short of patience.
“I don’t care! I’ll wait for you in the car park….” Saying this, Hui Zhu disappeared into the crowd.

Hmm! He really couldn’t stand the little lady’s temper tantrums and could not understand why his mother was so fond of her. She was always trying to pull the two of them together. He was going to have to deal with his mother’s disapproval when he got back to Seoul…..

Xiang Zhe made his way to the tourist pick-up area and saw Shan Mei helping their guests into the transport provided.
“Why didn’t I see you inside?” he asked her.
Shan Mei smiled at him and didn’t reply.

“GM Yin, time to get in the car,” the chauffeur said.
“Wait a moment. I have to talk to someone first.”
After a while, Xiang Zhe came back with a wide grin on his face. Shan Mei took one look at him, and chuckled merrily.
“What is it?”
Shan Mei said, “How can you brush off such a pretty lady? Aren’t you afraid that she might get angry at you?”
Xiang Zhe put on an stern face and replied, “So! You were in there earlier!”
“I’m very discreet!”
“Thanks, but no thanks! I would have been a lot more grateful if you had come to rescue me!”
“Rescue you?”
“I could have just told her you were my girlfriend. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.”

Saved HIM a lot of trouble? This guy was really good at pretending! Shan Mei glared at him and said, “How dare you! You want to use me as a shield?”
“A friend in need is a friend indeed. I was in trouble!”
“A friend in need? Indeed! Why should I put myself in danger for you?”
And so the two of them went on a spar of wits, and ended up in a heap of laughter. The foreigners sitting in the front could not help but turn around and stare at the two of them, wondering what the issue was all about. Luckily, neither of them understood Korean, so they were safe.

“That lady was really quite pretty. Is she your girlfriend?” Shan Mei couldn’t help herself.
“I don’t believe you.” Shan Mei pouted at him.
That lady was obviously holding his hand in a familiar fashion.
“I…..Oh! Forget it! I can’t reason with you…” Xiang Zhe sighed. He knew anybody looking at them would have misunderstood the situation.
“Can’t reason with me? Are you saying I’m not a reasonable person?” Shan Mei was a little huffed at the implication.
“What do you think?” Xiang Zhe said with a smile.
“You…!” She couldn’t deny that there was a thread of truth in the statement, but stubbornly went on, “Obviously, attacking me is your best form of defense!”
Xiang Zhe secretly found the situation very funny.

“OK, Miss Zhen Shan Mei, where’s the stuff?” Xiang Zhe put on his serious face.
“What stuff?” Shan Mei asked, startled.
“The guest list for the presentation!”
Oh no! She was so engrossed with their humour, she had completely forgotten about work. Shan Mei stuck out her tongue guiltily and handed it over.

The placement price for Da Rong’s bonds were fixed the afternoon after the presentation in London. It was only a matter of hours before the placement was completely allotted. According to the papers, it was the first ever Asian company to completely allocate its bonds on placement.

“Allen, I’ll take you out for Shabu-shabu the next time you’re in Tokyo,” Shan Mei happily told Allen, the market manager.
Allen had originally disagreed with the pricing of the bonds, and was at loggerheads with the client. Xiang Zhe was quite unhappy with him, but could not express his discontent too openly in front of the clients, and in light of his position. Thankfully, Shan Mei was familiar with Allen, having spent some time taking him around when he was last in Tokyo. She talked to him, and finally managed to persuade him to relent, allowing allocation to finally proceed without a hitch. Shan Mei was so happy with the result, she jumped up and down and cheered at the top of her voice in the middle of the dealing room, not caring that her colleagues were laughing at the scene. Shan Mei couldn’t care less! All that hard work had finally paid off in spades, and she was feeling the top of the world. Although Xiang Zhe maintained his usual composure, Shan Mei could see in his eyes that he was just as delighted with the result.

After sending off their guests at the airport the next day, the two of them remained in London for a meeting with head office management, and were only scheduled to leave a day later. Unfortunately, due to industrial disputes, a strike was called and all flights in and out of London were suspended. They were stranded in London for a while.

Shan Mei was feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof, itching to get back to Tokyo in order to take over the project on Ri Xing Electronics.
“Don’t stress out. I’ve already got in touch with Peter, and he says he’ll get someone to stand in for you on the project. In the meantime, you are to take things easy and have a couple of days off work……Hey! Don’t you think your boss is really nice to you?” Xiang Zhe said jokingly.
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe. He was telling her to relax, yet he had just been on the phone incessantly, talking business and delegating all his work left, right and centre.
“I’ve been through these situations a number of times now. I’m pretty sure they’ll come to some sort of arrangement within the next three days.” There was certainty in Xiang Zhe’s voice.
“Since we can’t go anywhere, why don’t we have a look around? The weather’s so nice today – London doesn’t have many beautiful days like this – how about taking a trip out to my alma mater with me?”

“You mean Cambridge? Alright!” Shan Mei’s lips curled up in her characteristic smile. Her brilliant smile shot a ray of sunshine into his heart and warmed it.

After all these years, the charm of Cambridge had not changed. Xiang Zhe had never forgotten, never ceased to miss this fount of knowledge where he had spent his care-free, reckless youth.

Xiang Zhe rented bicycles from Unitversity cycle.
“You’ve been here, haven’t you?” Xiang Zhe asked with a smile. When the people from work went to his home, she had mentioned the university’s souvenirs.
Shan Mei glanced at him “Actually…..”
She hesitated, and Xiang Zhe persisted, “What is it?”
Shan Mei smiled and shook her head.
“In that case, I’ll be your guide for the day, and show you the sights of Cambridge!”

Xiang Zhe started at the Saint Maria Cathedral in the city centre. Together, they climbed the 123 steps up to the roof for a bird’s eye view. Then they went on to King’s College, and enjoyed the sunlight on the ?? quadrangle.
“King’s College was set up under his patronage during the sixth century,” Xiang Zhe pointed at the bronze statue in the middle of the field.
In the King’s Cathedral, Xiang Zhe explained each architectural feature in detail, from the arched ceilings, to the twenty five stained glass windows depicting the stories of the New Testament, and the angels on the pipes of the pipe organ that segregated the main cathedral from the choir stalls.

“Wow! You really know your stuff!” Shan Mei said to him in surprised admiration.
She had only been here three or four times, each time with relatives or friends who were sightseeing.
“It’s nothing, really. It’s just that I have a special interest in this.”
He had originally wanted to study architecture, and was eventually persuaded by his father to take up business administration instead. He had borrowed a large sum of money from his father in order to study in England, and managed to pay off the debt within two years of starting work. He remembered his father’s surprise at this. His father had often joked that he was the black sheep of the family, always doing his own thing his own way, not wanting any help from the family. If he really had been a black sheep, he would not have even returned to Korea. He spent his happiest moments in England as an anonymous person, never attracting the slightest attention.

“Hey, a penny for your thoughts?” Shan Mei saw the distant look in Xiang Zhe’s eyes.
“Oh! Nothing much…” Xiang Zhe sobered up, “I rarely have the opportunity to come here. I should rent a camera so we can take some photos for you.”
“Don’t bother. I’ve already got photos of this place.”

Xiang Zhe turned left on leaving King’s College.
“GM Yin! I’d like to take a look at Queen’s College,” Shan Mei pointed him to the right.
Xiang Zhe smiled at her, “You’re a lot more familiar with this place than your average tourist!”
Shan Mei put her hand over her mouth and laughed.
“Zhen Shan Mei, would you please do me a favour? I have a name, and this is not the office, so could you please refrain from calling me “GM Yin”?”
Shan Mei smiled and shook her head.
“Why not?”
“You’re my direct boss. If I slip up at work one day and call you something else, I’ll be in deep trouble!”
In the Seoul office, everyone called him GM Yin, and she naturally did the same.
“Hey, we’re both in the same position – how come you can address Peter by his name, but not me?” Xiang Zhe retorted.
Shan Mei laughed at this. “We’re used to addressing everyone by their name, not like in Seoul. Besides, Peter’s not the General Manager!”
“In the end, it’s starting to sound like it’s my fault…. Can’t you just forget for one day that I’m the General Manager?” Xiang Zhe asked sheepishly.
She looked at his sheepish expression and laughed. To be honest, he had been really good to her during her time in Seoul. In many cases he had gone beyond his duties as superior, and treated her more like a friend.

“Look at you! You look so childish, nothing like a high and mighty General Manager.” Shan Mei remarked.
“Me? Childish? Then how would you describe your behaviour in the dealing room yesterday, when you were jumping about and cheering at the top of your voice? I’d say THAT was childish!” Xiang Zhe started laughing heartily.
Shan Mei turned red – he noticed her outburst from the day before, and had not forgotten….

Shan Mei took him down a little lane behind Queen’s College like an old hand, and lead him to a little courtyard at the back of the College. Lavender bushes backed onto red brick walls full of climbing ivy, the quiet serenity had Xiang Zhe wondering why he had never noticed the beauty of the place before.
“How come you’re so familiar with this place?”
“I fell in love with this place the first time I set my eyes on it,” Shan Mei replied.

The two of them visited Trinity Colleges and cathedral. Xiang Zhe took great care detailing the history, and pointing out the architectural significance of each, even pointing out where the carvings on the main gate of Trinity College had been vandalized by some students during the eighth century. Telling her the story of the incident, he had Shan Mei bent double in fits of laughter.

At about one o’clock, the two of them cycled to a café with a Latin theme for lunch. Passionate Flamenco music filled the air, and the place was still full of students deep in conversation and laughter. They chose to sit at an outdoor table, where it was a little quieter, and they could enjoy basking in the warm sunshine.

“La Mimosa – a beautiful lady and a flower.” Shan Mei looked at the sign on the café and smiled.
“Hey, how did you know that?” Xiang Zhe look at her in surprise. La Mimosa was a combination of the Italian and Spanish languages.
“Uh….” Shan Mei started to feel a little apologetic, “Actually….Actually, I’ve been here a couple of times,” she finally said.
Forget it, she thought. Better not tell him now. In the beginning, she didn’t tell him that she also studied at Cambridge because she was afraid he’d read too much into it. Now, she found it difficult to say so without him thinking that she had been making a fool of him and leading him on. She really hadn’t meant to mislead him in any way.

“No wonder I kept having the feeling that you weren’t completely unfamiliar with Cambridge. Why didn’t you say so earlier? I could have saved myself some effort!”
All during the day, she had this appreciative expression in her eyes, even though she must be familiar with it all.
”You lived here five or six years – how could I be as familiar with the place as you?” Shan Mei hurriedly placated.

He said that one would regret it for life if one did visited Cambridge and did not take in its sights from the river Cam. And he was right – one of the things she had really missed was being able to take a leisurely boat ride down the river.

Xiang Zhe rented a punt with a boatman who would take them down the river.
“During my student days, I would have done the punting myself,” Xiang Zhe said.
Shan Mei smiled, “With your girlfriend, of course?”
Xiang Zhe wagged his eyebrows, and smiled charmingly.
“Where’s she now?”
“She’s married. She’s a Korean émigré. After I returned to Korea and started work, we had few opportunities to meet, so ended up parting ways. Long distance love affairs are difficult to maintain.”
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe, and said, “You must have been too lazy, and didn’t make the effort to keep in regular contact…. If you truly loved each other, the distance and the time you spent apart would not have changed your feelings for each other.”
Xiang Zhe only smiled in reply.
“Anway…. You’re such an eligible bachelor, I’m sure there’s a busload of women just waiting for you to pick one of them!”
“What…?” Xiang Zhe was taken aback by Shen Mei’s comment and gave a hollow laugh, “Was that a compliment or an insult?”

Before they knew it, the bridge of sighs connecting the two banks of Saint John’s College came into view, signaling the start of the most beautiful stretch of Cam River. The left bank held the historic buildings around the college quadrangle, and right bank held the beautiful green of Cambridge’s rear gardens. The wooden bridge, the white swans and the beautiful scenery made a romantic and stunning portrait.

She really missed everything about the place.

When they stepped into Cambridge, it felt as though they were stepping back into a fantasy. It was just like when she first set foot in Cambridge many years ago. Everything was a blur – the buildings, the gardens, the bridges, the waterways – everything was novel, and felt natural. If one were to paint Cambridge in a picture, everything in that picture would have to be beautiful.

They caught the last train back into London, only because they wanted another look at Cambridge at night. On the return journey, Xiang Zhe didn’t say much, perhaps afraid to disturb Shan Mei, who was rather tired from the day’s activities.

Shan Mei observed Xiang Zhe’s reflection in the train window from beneath her eyelashes. He was looking out the window, and she had a clear view of his face.
He was an outstanding person. No matter where he went, eyes would be drawn to his presence. He had been laughing all day today. It was rare to see him so relaxed, and she felt happy for him. He had wanted her to take this opportunity to rest and relax, but he was actually the one who needed it most. He really worked himself very hard.

From the fleeting expressions on his face, she knew that his time in Cambridge must have carried many unforgettable memories for him. He must be, like her, taking this time to savour and re-live those beautiful memories. After all, they had both spent the best years of their youth there.

Even though she often exchanged words with him, they had gotten along very well these past few weeks, and she had long considered him a friend. That night when they shook hands after dinner on the pier in Seoul, she had already considered him a friend, even though she had verbally rejected his request for friendship. This last trip around the world seemed to pull them even closer than before.

This night, she and Xiang Zhe strolled back to their hotel together under the starlight……



The airport workers were still on strike the next day. The two of them were back in the Cannon Street office early, unable to leave the work for too long.

Shan Mei quickly made a few telephone calls regarding the project on Ri Sing Electronics before the Tokyo office closed for the day. Afterwards, she went to the bond dealing room to monitor the progress of their bond issue the previous day. Before long, she found herself at a loose end, unable to offer much help to the staff in the London office. By 10:30 am, she graciously bid farewell to the office, and made her retreat.

Before leaving, she dropped in on Xiang Zhe, who was stationed on the eleventh floor, and found him deep in conversation with the Seoul office. It didn’t look as though he was anywhere near finishing up, and Shan Mei could only smile to herself. She knew that he had only been paying lip service when he told her to relax and take things easy – it was imperative in this business to make sure you were in touch with the latest developments on all projects.

A sudden though occurred to Shan Mei. She made her way to the coffee shop around the corner, ordered an espresso, pulled out some note paper, and scrawled a few things on it. Then, she went back to the office and put them on Xiang Zhe’s desk. Seeing that he was still busy with his telephone calls, she gave him a smile and a “thumbs up”, then quickly departed without disturbing him.

She took the tube over to Oxford Circus, and started towards Regent Street. The junction of Oxford Street and Bond Street was London’s shopper’s paradise. She had always enjoyed shopping in this district. Even if she had nothing to buy, it was a pleasure to admire the tasteful displays of fashion, accessories, gifts, homeware, etc. as she window-shopped. Although she had been to London a few times over the past two or three years, her schedule was always packed to the brim, and she hadn’t had the opportunity to indulge in this pleasure for a long time. The district hadn’t really changed much over the years – being the prime shopping area that it was, any fly-by-night operators would have found it difficult to even get a foot in. Most of the shops were well established brand names who were in for the long haul.

Shan Mei went into Laura Ashley and bought a dress in their signature fine flowery print. Her father had bought her a Laura Ashley dress for the twentieth birthday, and she had been reluctant to discard it even after wearing it out over the last six or seven years. Then, she went to the Paddington Bear boutique and bought a set of Paddington Bear figurines and some bear stationery, and dropped in on Whittard’s for some gift packed tea. By the time she got back to the hotel bearing her various parcels, it was already 1pm. It was then she realized she had forgotten to get a pair of Doc Martens for her father. They were his favourite brand of shoes, and were almost 30% cheaper here than in Tokyo.

After lunch, she changed into casual gear, and made her way to Covent Gardens, where there was a large Doc Martens specialty store. The four-level shopping centre was busy with locals and tourists. She headed straight for the men’s shoe department, and suddenly found herself the only lone woman in there. There were a few couples and some men on their own, but it was rare for a men’s shoe department to have a woman shopping there on her own. She had been with her father during all her previous visits here, and had never noticed that before. She hesitated at the threshold for a while, before hearing someone call out to her. Looking around, she spotted Yin Xiang Zhe sitting at the fitting area, trying out some shoes.

Xiang Zhe smiled and waved to her.
She really looked attractive in her boat-necked, three-quarter sleeved shell top in pastel green and a tailored skirt in camel, that showed off her shapely figure to the fullest. When she appeared in the department, all eyes had been attracted to her, not just his.

Shan Mei approached Xiang Zhe with a broad smile.
“You look… beautiful today,” he said with a smile, while admiring her with his eyes. Every time he set eyes on her, an unexplained wave of happiness seemed to envelope him.
“Thank you…” Shan Mei smiled a little uncomfortably. Xiang Zhe’s admiring gaze disconcerted her a little.
“You’re here to buy shoes too?” she asked.
He nodded and smiled, “Why don’t you hang around for a while?” He patted the seat next to him, indicating that she should take it.
Shan Mei hesitated only for a moment before sitting down next to Xiang Zhe.
“You’ve finished everything you needed to do at work?” Shan Mei cocked her head at Xiang Zhe while toying distractedly with the hem of her top. What was the matter with her? Why was she feeling so skittish in front of him today – perhaps it was because of what she was wearing. Suddenly, her clothes felt a little too tight…..

“I have to let them get a little sleep!” Xiang Zhe pointed at his watch. It would have been past midnight in Seoul by now.
“Are you…. shopping for your boyfriend?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“No!.. I’m here to buy something for my dad. He loves the shoes here,” She hurriedly explained.

“And what styles would madam like to have a look at?” the sales assistant came up to help Shan Mei.
Shan Mei was caught short – she wasn’t familiar with men’s shoe styles. Other than her father’s shoe size, she had no idea what would be suitable. She looked over to Xiang Zhe for help.
Xiang Zhe smiled and said, “This pair that I’m trying on is pretty comfortable. Would you like to have a look at them?”
She ended up buying the same style of shoes for her father as Xiang Zhe did for himself.

While waiting for their purchases to be wrapped, Xiang Zhe turned around to Shan Mei and looked at her.
“Wha….What are you looking at?” Heat came into her face as she asked in irritation.

Xiang Zhe laughed. “You seem to blush very easily…. But in front of clients, you project a very professional, confident and competent image. On stage and off stage you’re very different, aren’t you?”
“I’m just me! What is this on-stage and off-stage nonsense you are spouting?” Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe, secretly cursing his powers of observation in realizing that she did indeed tend to blush very easily.

They made their way to Covent Garden Piazza after leaving the shoe shop. The Piazza was full of open air cafés, rustic restaurants and specialty shops, giving it a laid back atmosphere in spite of the bustle. Shan Mei found a Turkish jade bangle in the antiques section. It was probably a fake, but the colour and workmanship really attracted her. She spent some time and effort bargaining with the stall holder, and ended up buying it for less than 30% of the initial asking price. Xiang Zhe was flabbergasted.

“When you want to buy things here, you can’t be too polite about getting the price you want!” She told him sagely. Xiang Zhe could only laugh in reply.

It was the first time that Xiang Zhe walked through markets such as these, and he discovered knick-knacks of all kinds that he never even knew existed. Shan Mei was really in her element here, flitting from one stall to another, stopping and starting. After two hours, they had only covered about two thirds of the first level.

“How about taking a short break?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“I’m not tired…” Shan Mei answered as she headed towards the southern end distractedly, almost knocking down a lady carrying various parcels in the process. As she quickly apologized, a thought occurred to her.

She looked at Xiang Zhe in embarrassment, and pointed to the parcels in his hand. “I should really carry my own.” He had been carrying the shoes that she bought since receiving them from the shop assistant, and she had been so busy shopping that she had forgotten about it.

He was really chivalrous about it, and flatly refused to let her take it off him.

Oh dear! She kept forgetting that he was her boss. How could she let him carry her parcels, and drag him through these little stalls full of rubbish? What was she thinking?

“In that case… we should really go back now,” She said.
“Didn’t you just say you wanted to go to the Peter Rabbit and Friends shop?”
“It’s alright..” Shan Mei waved her hand at him.
Looking at her face, Xiang Zhe laughed and said, “Look, I’m now Yin Xiang Zhe, not GM Yin….. You really don’t have to stand on ceremony with me.”
Saying that, he stretched out his hand and dragged her off through the crowd towards the shop.

He really didn’t think she would be such a fan of Peter Rabbit.
“Look at Flopsy. Isn’t she cute?” Shan Mei pointed at a figurine in the window excitedly. She caught the puzzled expression in Xiang Zhe’s face, and realized that, as a grown man, he probably had no idea what she was talking about. “You’ve lived in England for so many years, and you don’t even know this…It’s Beatrix Potter’s story of four rabbits: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter Rabbit…” she explained with a brilliant smile, full of guile.

He had known about Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit, but never realized that there were also other characters involved. Hmmm! She was really like a child in a candy store. He felt a wave of warm gentleness wash over him as he looked at her.

There was everything you could think of in the shop – toys, stationery, books, crockery, clothing, calendars, etc. Xiang Zhe ended up buying a few books and tapes for his nieces and nephews. Heading down the stairs, he found Shan Mei still empty-handed. She had fallen in love with a porcelain rendition of “Four Little Rabbits”, but it was out of stock.
“Do you want to check out some other store for it?”
“There’s no need. It’s not as if I absolutely have to have it.” Shan Mei said with disappointment in her heart.
“Are you sure you won’t regret this? We will be leaving London tomorrow…” Xiang Zhe asked.
“May told me that the strike has been called off, and she has already rescheduled our flights. Didn’t she inform you?”
May was the secretary in charge in London.

They left Covent Garden Piazza and headed down Great Queen Street. Covent Garden was developed by Professor Bedford in the 15th century as a luxury residential district. There are still many beautiful, historical townhouses standing. Walking through the district evokes images of a romantic, elegant past.
“Hmmmm….” Xiang Zhe sighed in appreciation.
Shan Mei glanced over at Xiang Zhe and asked with a smile, “You seem to have a really soft spot for England?”
He had been wearing a nostalgic smile over the last two days, often deep in thought.
Xiang Zhe chuckled, “Yes, I love this place. Who knows…. In a couple of years, I may find myself a little place in the country and retire there…”
“Retire?...You must be joking. A successful, ambitious, career-oriented young man like you cannot be thinking of retirement!” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in disbelief.
Xiang Zhe merely smiled in return.
As she said, his successful career did give him great satisfaction and pride, but sometimes in the quiet of the night when he was alone, he also felt deep loneliness and a lack of purpose in his life. He always believed that he would be happier if he had someone to share his life with.

“Have you been to the Lakes District? People say that’s the most beautiful part of England,” Xiang Zhe asked.
“Ummm…” Shan Mei smiled in reply, “Of course! That’s the home of Peter Rabbit and his friends!”
Xiang Zhe tapped his head, “That’s right! I forgot that Beatrix Potter created Peter Rabbit there.”
“I still remember the little road in the village lined with little white houses, and that lush green field… it’s really beautiful!” Shan Mei said dreamily.

After walking a little distance, Shan Mei turned to Xiang Zhe and said with a smile, “Hey! If you really mean to retire, you should consider more than England as your destination. The weather here isn’t very good. There are lots of other places that would be better for early retirement!”
“Oh?...” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei in interest.
“Somewhere like Provence would be pretty good too.”
She thought of “A Year in Provence”, the book by British writer Peter Mayle, who left his career to move to Provence with his wife.
“Mmm… The people there are friendly, the countryside is beautiful, and there’s really good honeymelon, truffles, goats’ cheese, goose liver pate, fresh oysters, crayfish…..” She became more and more enthusiastic as she went on, her eyes widened with pleasure.
“Sounds to me like you’re planning to go there for a really big meal….” Xiang Zhe couldn’t help teasing her.

Shan Mei just made a face and laughed.

“Hey, Little Miss Greedy, when are you going to take me out to Shabu Shabu?”
Xiang Zhe had an unpleasant feeling each time he thought about her offer to take Allen Craig out to Shabu Shabu. Surely his company couldn’t be any less pleasant than Allen’s?
“That’s not a problem! The next time you’re in Tokyo, I’ll definitely take you out…”
“Is that a promise?”
“Mmm!” Shan Mei smiled as she nodded.

They talked as they strolled down to the bookstores on Charing Cross Road. They were a little tired after the afternoon’s activities, and found a bookshop with good music, magazines and coffee, and settled themselves there.

“Thank you for the coffee and the note this morning. However….do I really look that bad? “ Xiang Zhe asked Shan Mei, who was drinking orange juice.

Shan Mei burst out laughing. On the note paper this morning, she had drawn a quick cartoon of him sweating under plies of work at the office.

“Cartoons are just funny doodles. What makes them funny is the way they exaggerate things and are all out of proportion to reality. Surely you understand that?”
“You made me look really ugly. How can I be happy with that? However, since you also bought me a coffee, I won’t hold it against you. How did you know I like espresso?” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei and asked with a smile.

“Er…lucky guess.” Shan Mei replied in a small voice. She really wasn’t a good liar. She had no idea how, but she did notice that he always only ordered espresso.

Xiang Zhe looked at the colour in Shan Mei’s face and smiled. “That was a really lucky guess, then. Thank you!”
He didn’t want to put her in a difficult position, but that blush in her face entranced him no end. Thinking about this, his smile widened even more.

The two of them browsed through the bookshop for a while, and each bought a few books. After that, they took the tube to Notting Hill. He said he wanted to take her somewhere special for dinner.

The famous restaurant, Portobello Gold, was situated in the middle of the bustling tourist area of Portobello. Shan Mei was fascinated by everything about it, from the little stalls lining the street in front of the restaurant to the interior, which was decorated like a tropical jungle, full of lush greenery and vibrant flowers. Its rustic furniture and colourful ceiling lamps gave the place a romantic, mesmerizing atmosphere.

Xiang Zhe spent some time sweet-talking the owner of the restaurant, and trying to secure the “tree house” for them. Shan Mei only saw him pointing towards her every now and then, while talking a dime to a dozen. After some time, the owner finally consented. It really wasn’t a tree house but a table that sat on a mezzanine level. However, it was elevated above the rest of the restaurant, and was private and cozy.

“Do you know the owner?”
“No I don’t” Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“Then how on earth did you manage to get his table?”
The place was packed, and they didn’t even have a reservation.
Xiang Zhe’s face held a strange expression, “Uh….I used a little trickery…” he said.
“What sort of trickery? Teach me, maybe I can use it myself one day.”
Use it herself? Xiang Zhe grinned, “I’m afraid it won’t work for you.”
“Why?” Shan Mei looked at him, puzzled.
“Alright…I’ll tell you, but you’re not allowed to tell me off for it,” Xiang Zhe said.
“OK, OK… out with it!”
“Alright then,” Xiang Zhe slowly said, as he observed her reaction carefully, “You’re my girlfriend who’s come all the way from Korea to visit me. I begged him to let me have this table so I could pr…”
Shan Mei’s face turned bright pink, “You, you……!” she couldn’t even get the words out of her mouth.
“Hey, you said you wouldn’t tell me off for it…” Xiang Zhe countered without even a trace of guilt.
“How could you…!” she glared at him and muttered under her breath “The one who is completely different on stage and off stage is you!”
“What did you say?” he leaned up close against her and asked.
“Nothing!” she turned away and tried to ignore him.

In the office he was always so stern and serious, it scared people. In private, he was always playing the fool, making fun of her. She wondered if he was trying to pull a fast one.

Xiang Zhe ordered the day’s specials of fresh oysters and grilled cod, then ordered two mixed drinks. The drinks tasted much like lemonade, but had a hint of alcohol. Shan Mei had never tasted it before, but found it rather pleasant and drank half her glass before she knew it.
“Miss One-Drink Wonder, you’re holding your alcohol pretty well tonight,” Xiang Zhe teased.
“What drink is this? It’s really quite special,” Shan Mei asked.
“It’s Smirnoff Ice – a mix of lemonade and vodka. It’s got a kick to it, so drink slowly.”

He was right. Before she knew it, the alcohol started to take effect, and she started feeling light headed. Xiang Zhe walked Shan Mei down Portobello Road in the gentle breeze, and it was a while before Shan Mei finally felt better.

They found themselves at Westmead pier and took the last tourist ferry of the night to view night sights from the Thames. The early Spring breeze chilled Shan Mei, and she sneezed a few times. When she left the hotel that afternoon, she had no intention of staying out so late, so had only a light cardigan on her.
“Hey, stand here and block the wind for me,” she stood hid behind his large frame, which was blocking the breeze nicely.
“You can’t see any of the scenery if you stand there,” Xiang Zhe laughed.
“It’s alright. I’ll freeze to death otherwise….. Besides, I can always use my imagination…” she said as she shut her eyes.
In the next moment, she could feel her shoulders being covered by his warm, heavy jacket.
“Here, take this! We’ve still got a way to go. I don’t want you going home unwell, otherwise Peter will never forgive me…”
“Thank you..”
It was the first time she did not reject him, and Xiang Zhe felt an inexplicable pleasure.

The ferry made its way under the bridge after bridge. Although the lights on the banks of the Thames were not so brilliant and did not have skyscrapers like some other cities, they had their own brand of tranquil beauty. Shan Mei stood beside Xiang Zhe and took in the beauty of the architecture as he pointed them out to her.

“There are many cities in the world that are built around rivers. The combination of river and city allows development of culture, economy, government and trade. In the past, rivers were the lifeblood of the cities. Today rivers are no longer important to the cities, but their beauty invariably still has a place in the hearts of the people. The Siene gives Paris its romance, the Thames gives London its regality…” Xiang Zhe explained earnestly.

Shan Mei smiled as she listened to his dissertation.

Xiang Zhe glanced at her in puzzlement.
“I never thought you would be the sort of person who could spout something so romantic…” Shan Mei teased.

“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows. “My dear Miss Zhen Shan Mei, could you please tell me, exactly what kind of person do you think I am?”

Shan Mei covered her mouth and laughed, “Well….” She assessed him playfully, then started to draw something in the air, not saying a word.
“What is it?” Xiang Zhe frowned.
“This is a factual as well as conceptual question. You have to use your intelligence and a little imagination to figure that one out!” Shan Mei said sagely.

Xiang Zhe gave up and just smiled. Sometimes, he really didn’t know what to do with her.

The ferry approached its final destination as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey came into view.
“That was quick…” Shan Mei said.
Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei on the shoulder and said, “We’ll do this again next time!”
She looked over at him and smiled as their eyes met. There was a funny feeling inside her.

It was half past ten when they arrived back at the hotel.
After washing up, Shan Mei was listening to some music as she packed her luggage.

After all that shopping, her luggage was full to the brim. Shan Mei caught sight of a brown paper bag on the table, then glanced at her watch. He should still be awake. She should have given it to him earlier, but completely forgot about it. She smiled as she stood up and left the room.

Xiang Zhe’s room was on level 8. Shan Mei turned right as she left the lift and followed the corridor. It was a while before she realized she had taken the wrong turn, and had taken a full circle around the floor. As she finally approached the wing where Xiang Zhe’s room was, she saw something that made her stop and quickly hide in a corner until Xiang Zhe had disappeared into the lift.

The woman with him was the same one whom she saw at the airport. Surely she was more than a friend if she could look him up in his hotel room at this time of the night…. She didn’t know why she did it, but she had hidden herself each time she saw them together – at the airport, and now in the hotel. It was probably because she didn’t want to disturb them, she explained to herself.

She didn’t have a good night’s sleep. Visions of Xiang Zhe and the woman kept dancing in her head…. They looked really good together.

The next day, Xiang Zhe almost overslept. Jin Hui Zhu had come to see him the previous night, keeping him in the bar downstairs, chatting away. After that, he felt obliged to take her home because it was already so late, and only got back after 2am.
Shan Mei left a note with the reception saying that she had some matters to take care of, and she would see him at noon, at the airport. They had originally agreed to have breakfast together. Why did she suddenly change her mind? Surely she didn’t go shopping again….

Xiang Zhe checked out and headed for the office. There were some tasks he had delegated the previous day that he had to follow up on.

The airport was full of travellers trying to get out of London after the strike, and every flight was completely full. On the flight, he was in Business Class, and she was in Economy. There was absolutely no way they could have had any meaningful conversation. It wasn’t until they were in transit at Bangkok that they were able to find a little coffee shop to sit and talk.

“You look tired. Didn’t you sleep well last night?” Xiang Zhe asked with concern.
“I was too excited after all the activity last night and couldn’t get to sleep.” Shan Mei said lightly.
“I really can’t bear to say goodbye,” Xiang Zhe said.
After this, he would be catching the flight to Seoul, while she would be on the plane to Tokyo.

Can’t bear to say goodbye..? Shan Mei was happy, yet sad to hear those words.
“That can’t be… you should really be happy that there won’t be anyone left who would tell you off all the time, AND no one would even DARE to draw such an ugly cartoon of you…” She joked to hide the tug on her heartstrings.

She should really say goodbye and try to tame her errant heart, Shan Mei thought to herself. However, she just couldn’t stop her heart from feeling so reluctant. From Seoul to Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London and now Bangkok, they had trotted across the globe as fellow travelers, destined to be together. However, there was destiny, and there was destiny… surely they were like two ships passing in the night, destined to find each other, but not destined to stay together for long?

“I really have to thank you. If not for all your effort, we would not have been able to pull this off.” Xiang Zhe smiled.
Shan Mei shook her head and replied, “You’re wrong. Didn’t you always say the success of each project really depends on the combined effort of the whole team?”
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Peter was right though, you really ARE the best….”
“Thank you. I’m just happy that I’m no longer a cry-baby in your eyes…” Shan Mei smiled as she teased him.
Xiang Zhe’s face registered surprise and embarrassment, “Uh…When did you start listening in on my conversations with Peter?”
“Don’t say things behind someone’s back if you don’t want them to know about it…Surely you know this?” Shan Mei winked at him.
“Will you consider a transfer to Seoul?” Xiang Zhe stopped smiling, and said earnestly.
Shan Mei was startled, but shook her head.
“Is that because you really love Tokyo so much….or because there’s someone you love in so much in Tokyo?”
Shan Mei just smiled and shook her head. “No comment, “she said.

They were calling for passengers to board the Tokyo flight.
“I really have to go,” Shan Mei stood up. “Here….it’s a present for you.”
She put a brown paper bag in Xiang Zhe’s hand.
“Wha…What’s this for?”
“It’s to thank you for taking care of me these past weeks,” she smiled at him, gave him a slight bow, then turned and headed towards her boarding gate.

As she walked, her steps started to slow. She suddenly had this urge to have one last look at him. Who knows when they would ever meet again? She stopped and turned around, and their eyes met. Had he been watching her all the time as she was walking away?

“Yin Xiang Zhe! Don’t work too hard!” she said loudly to him, working hard to keep the smile on her face.

Xiang Zhe smiled happily. Finally, she had called him by his name. “You too! Make sure you don’t pass out at work again…” he said with a laugh.

Shan Mei smiled and waved at him. He nodded at her, then gave her a salute.

Xiang Zhe’s eyes followed Shan Mei until her image disappeared into the boarding gate. Then, he opened the paper bagin his hand. In it was a copy of Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence”.



“I’ve got to go.” Xiang Zhe said.
In return, two pairs of accusing eyes looked back at him. One is form his mother and the other from Kim Hui Zhu.
“I’ve got a meeting at 1.30pm” Xiang Zhe pointed at his watch and said.

Today, he had met up with his mother for lunch but coincidently; Kim Hui Zhu happened to be around the area and had dropped by. Xiang Zhe had expected it. It must have been his mother’s neat arrangement, trying to match-make him again.

The economy has been bullish these past few months. In order to secure more deals/projects for his company, he’s been travelling quite a bit. From China to Taiwan to South-East Asia, in a week, he is hardly ever in Korea for more than 2 days. Even if he’s in Korea, he’ll either be busy working in the office or out entertaining the clients, seldom going home to visit his parents. If he were to find time to return home, it would also just be a touch and go; dropping in to say hello and then he’ll be off again. His mother has been complaining that he hasn’t had meals with her for a long time.

Actually, he hasn’t been really that busy to not be able to find time, it’s just that whenever he returns home, his mother would nag at him. He’s terrified of her naggings, whenever possible, he would try to escape/hide. At least his ears would be able to have some peace.

Just take the lunch date for example! Before he could even have two bites of food, his mother started her crusade to get him to settle down.
“I haven’t planned to settle down yet!” Xiang Zhe said, straight to the point.
“You’re already 33!….” His mother starred at him and continued “ Your father…”
“Your father at your age has already got 2 kids…..” Xiang Zhe completed his mother’s key speech.
Lee Su Yin looked at her son and sigh “You…this kid….”

Xiang Zhe gave his mother a wry smile; he feels a little apologetic towards his mother.
Since young, he’s been his mother’s favourite son. Remembering when he was small, his elder brother would always protest that his mother is bias, favouring her younger son over him. Ignoring all objections from his family, he had chose to go over to England to pursue his tertiary education after completing his high school. After that, he worked overseas for two years before returning home to Korea. For many years, he was not able to be by his mother’s side and he knows that for the few years he was away, his mother had a hard time.

“Mom knows that you find me long-winded….. I’m just reminding you because looking at you being so stressed up with work all the time, it’s good to have a woman around to take care of you…………..”

“Ma……….you can’t rush such things…..” Xiang Zhe didn’t want to sound too harsh/impatient with his mother’s well meaning intentions. Gentling his stance, he continued “ Besides, I’m so busy with work, where am I to find the mood or the time to get a girlfriend? Wait a little longer and I’ll see how!”
“Wait a little longer? Didn’t you also said the same thing last time?….” Lee Su Yin couldn’t help but started her marriage campaign again “ There’s a good girl right beside you and yet you ignore her…. I really don’t know what you’re thinking about?”
Xiang Zhe knows that his mother is implying Kim Hui Zhu.
“I just treat her like a younger sister….” Xiang Zhe said.
“Ma, you cannot force such things….”
“Relationships can be slowly cultivated, didn’t your father and I got married just after a few meetings”

His mother was from a family of politicians. Her match with his father’s family had been the society’s talking point at that time.
“Ma, you know very well your son’s character, don’t you?”
Lee Su Yin looked at her son
Both are her sons and yet this younger son of hers, has got a mind of his own. Everything must be done in his own way; on his own terms. From where to further his studies, to his occupation and his marriage, no one is allowed make the decisions for him except himself.
“If you don’t like Hui Zhu, then tell ma…. What type of girls do you like, I’ll keep a look out for you…” Lee Su Yin will not give up her quest.
Xiang Zhe smiled and told his mother “I do not have any particular preference, just as long as she makes me feel comfortable…….”
“What kind of answer is that!” Lee Su Yin gave her son a confounded look.

“Auntie…. Brother Xiang Zhe……” Kim Hui Zhu’s appearance cut off the mother and son conversation.

Just a little after 1pm, Xiang Zhe left the restaurant. Alone.
His meeting will actually only start at 3.00pm. It’s just that he didn’t want to be left alone with Kim Hui Zhu. He knows that his mother would think up some excuse later so that she’ll have to leave earlier and make him entertain Hui Zhu alone.

Observing that the weather’s pretty good, Xiang Zhe steered his car round and headed for the expressway, driving along Jiang Yuan Road, enjoying the sights around him.

After his 30th birthday, his mother has been pestering him to settle down. She’ll start to hard sell her campaign whenever she finds the chance to. He’s been playing along with his mother, buying his time for the past 3 years. Luckily for him, his elder brother has added onto to the family line earlier on, filling it with grandchildren, if not; his ear wouldn’t have been able to have any peace at all.

After his break up with Xiu Zhen 5 years ago, he hasn’t placed much thoughts or efforts on the girls. It’s not as if he’s still holding a torch for his ex-girlfriend or that there were any deep feelings that he’s still unable to forget. He couldn’t even remember how he got together with Xiu Zhen in the beginning; in their group, it just so happened that both of he and Xiu Zhen are Koreans. Since they were both from the same country, they naturally got along well and could relate to each other and so often did things together and hang out. Their schoolmates linked one to two and assumed that they were a couple. After a while, they just got together comfortably.

If you were to ask him how much effort he has invested into the relationship, he wouldn’t be able to give you a clear answer for he isn’t too sure himself. When Xiu Zhen wrote to ask him for a break up, all he did was to go to the pub and drowned himself with beer the night through. After that, the skies were all clear again. Is that supposed to have been his experience with a failed relationship? He do not understand why his friends behaved as if the world has come to an end too, whenever they fail in their relationships. Perhaps he has never really fallen in love. Him being with Xiu Zhen at that time; could have just been a sort of companionship in times of loneliness. These past years, his family and friends have been introducing him to a number of girls and due to his work, he too got to know a few potential females but he has never gave much serious thought about going into a relationship with any of them. He has placed all his energies on his career.

The ‘black sheep’ who had left the safety cocoon of home right after high school to pursue his tertiary education in England has made many promises to his father. He had told his father that he would make good on his own and become a successful person. All his hard work had not gone to waste. Last year, at 32; he got promoted to be the company’s Managing Director for Financial Investments in Asia, in-charge of all Corporate Investments in Asia outside of Japan. He goes into the company’s record book as the youngest ever person to be made Managing Director.

Remembering the week after his promotion was announced; he had returned home for dinner and had accidentally chanced upon a newspaper cutting of his promotion in his father’s study. Although his father did not make any comments regarding his promotion, the amount of happiness and satisfaction he felt from the discovery was beyond words/description.

2 o’clock. Xiang Zhe returned to the office.
He took the elevator to the 32nd floor. As long as he is in Seoul, he would make time to come down to have a look, monitoring the progress of his fellow co-workers and to give them some moral support as well. Most of the people working under him are all older than he is. He recalled that a few years ago, when he was first posted here to head the office, everyone wasn’t too happy with the arrangement. He had a hard time. Whenever he gave out instructions, everyone who think up some excuse to give him and not co-operate. But, he is after all a person with high calibre and had put the management lessons he had learnt in school to good use. After 3 to 4 months of working together, he had won all of them over with his abilities and leadership. Now they respected him.

Stepping into the office, Xiang Zhe unconsciously turn to look that the empty workstation close to the window, situated on the left of the room. That was Zhen Shan Mei’s seat the last time she was in Seoul, handling the project from Da Rong. It was set up at the last minute and till now, it’s still there.

Ah! Zhen Shan Mei, the girl with that enchanting smile, how has she been lately?
Funny though, just now when his mother had asked him the type of girls he would have liked and he had suddenly thought of her.

Last month, he was in Tokyo for a meeting. Coincidentally, she was away on a business trip so they were unable to met up. When she returned, he had given her a call but as if with the Sea of Japan separating them, there seem to be a great distance between them as well. She was quiet and their conversation was business like and formal. He found it difficult to carry on the conversation with her. In all, he has a feeling that she’s distancing herself from him on purpose. After that, he did call her again, twice. But on both occasion, she was away on business and was unable to answer. Due to the fact that he was busy as well, they had lost contact.

Xiang Zhe returned to his own office.
Looking up, he saw the book sitting atop a pile of documents. Again, he recalled the look of happiness on her smiling face when she had described the food she would want to eat in Provence.

He suddenly had a longing to hear her voice.

Xiang Zhe picked up the phone and dialled her number in Tokyo without thinking twice.
“You mean Shan Mei?…..She’s not around, May I know who’s that on the line?”
Her Japanese colleague had answered the call with heavily accented English.
“I’m her……friend.”
“She’s busy preparing for the wedding ceremony, I don’t think she’ll be coming back into the office today…..”
Still holding onto the phone, he was shocked…..

When he had collected his thoughts, the line had already gone dead.
Busy preparing for the wedding ceremony, is she getting married?

He didn’t know why but the news of her imminent marriage had brought about a big reaction from him.

It shouldn’t have been such surprising news, isn’t it? The last time he had tried to ask if she would be interested to work for him in Seoul, she had rejected his offer without hesitation. Didn’t her “Top Secret” reason already indicate that there is someone waiting for her back in Tokyo?
For that whole afternoon, Xiang Zhe couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss and depress. He had no idea why he would feel this way. Destiny had made their paths cross but when the time is up, they would have to part and return to the beginning, leading their own individual life again. At best, they could be considered as ordinary friends, no, maybe in her eyes, they weren’t even friends for after all, she did not give him her consent to be his friend.
With her shy deposition, it is quite normal/ expected that she did not inform him of her marriage; for they were just colleagues who had happened to be placed on the same team to work on a project.

Xiang Zhe instructed his sectary to call the florist and send her a bouquet of flowers. No matter what, they are acquainted. He should still send her his regards and well wishes.

Shan Mei has been at the lawyers’, arranging and going through some legal documents for a case that she’s in charged of. It was after 4 O’clock when she returned to the office. All eyes were on her the moment she had stepped into the office. She wondered why.

“Shan Mei, is it your birthday today?” He colleague Michiko asked with envy and wonder.
“No. Why?”
Michiko pointed to her workstation.
Her eyes shone with surprise. A large bouquet of violet roses is placed against the wall on her desk.
“Shan Mei, a gift from your boyfriend?…”” You kept it under wraps rather well eh…” Her colleagues started to tease her.

Red face Shan Mei walked back to her desk, murmuring under her breath. Who could it be this time? Hopefully it’s not that persistent engineer upstairs again. She had already rejected him outright.

Taking the card out to have a look,…her eyes quickly scanned the bottom of the card where the sender’s name was…..

H. C. Yun. The big fonts of that few letters appeared before her eyes.

Shan Mei’s heart skipped a beat.
The flowers are from Yin Xiang Zhe! Why did he send her flowers?

The outside of the card is printed with the word “Congratulations”

What is he congratulating her for?
She head is full of question marks.

“Hey, which admirer sent them to you?” Michiko leaned over, trying to catch a glimpse of what was written on the card.
Shan Mei hastily put the card into her bag. Michiko is the office serial gossip queen. If she were to see Yin Xiang Zhe’s initials, Shan Mei wouldn’t want to know the outcome of that thought. She still wants to live her life in peace.
“A classmate!” Shan Mei replied absent-mindedly
“Classmate! Come off it…. This guy sent you one of the most romantic flowers of all-violet roses! Do you know? Violet roses symbolise the feelings of longing, missing you…unwillingness to part…”

She can’t stand it anymore. Michiko is going to start her lecture on flower theorem again. Whenever anyone receives flowers in the office, she could go on forever explaining to them what the flowers means and why.

That afternoon, anyone who went in and out of the office would make a detour to her desk to appreciate the beautiful flowers and of course take the opportunity to tease her as well. Even Peter came over to join in the fun, making her lose all her concentration at work and embarrassed. That day, she left for home early so that she can get some cover from all the teasing. Upon entering the house, even her father made fun of her about the flowers. Normally, when she receive flowers in the office, she would give them away to her colleagues that very day, never bringing it home. She didn’t like the attention she gets from the passer-bys along the way, when she carries the flowers home. The other reason was that she wants to keep as far away as possible from those pesky suitors, taking their flowers home is therefore out of the question. It saves her the trouble and lessens her frustrations.

Shan Mei found a large vase and brought it up to her room.
The flowers are really beautiful. This is the first time she had received violet roses.
She smiled as she examine and admire the blooming roses before her.

They haven’t keep in contact for a long while now and she found it hard to believe that Yin Xiang Zhe would want to send her flowers. What is even more unbelievable was that this is the very first time she had actually carried the flowers all the way home.

How is he? He must be doing great. Lately, he had closed many important cases.

When she had first returned to Tokyo, he had called her a couple of times from Seoul. She didn’t know why but perhaps due to speaking thru the phone, they seem to be very distant. Their conversation was short and abrupt. Considering the fact that she was in the office and office rumours catches on fast and will spread like wild fire, she either replied him with some empty, passing remarks or talked about work. His questions never got more than a monosyllabic reply from her. The awkward silence filled more space then their conversations. It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago, they had actually spent the entire day together, shopping and sightseeing in London.

After that, perhaps he was too busy; he hadn’t called her since.

She did thought about taking the initiative to give him a call but besides asking about his well-being; she really didn’t know what else to talk to him about. After reconsidering, she canned the idea. Although they’ve lost contact, she still listens out for news about him in the office. She would always hear about his accomplishments and success from her impressed colleagues who would discuss about him. They didn’t understand that it is due to his sheer hard work and endurance, good knowledge/leadership and a great deal of foresight added on with the trust and respect that he had earned from his clients that made him who and where he is today. It was only thru having worked with him that made her realised that.

What was he trying to pull? Why did he send her flowers?
Shan Mei wanted to call to find out why but hesitated. It’s been a long time since they’ve contacted, besides saying a word of thanks, what else can she talk to him about? After having procrastinated for half a day and realising that it was already past 10pm, she picked up the phone impulsively and dialled his mobile phone number.

The phone rang for five or six times but no one picked it up. She was about to hang up when his familiar voice sounded over the phone.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, Who’s that on the line?….”
“That’s….I’m……” Hearing Xiang Zhe’s voice, Shan Mei suddenly became a little nervous.
“Zhen Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe answered Shan Mei with laughter in his voice but in his heart, he felt a tinge of bitterness.

She had finally called. He had been expecting her call.
When she received the flowers, she should at least give him a call to thank him, he had thought. He was looking forward to hearing her sweet and lovely voice again.

“How have you been lately?” Xiang Zhe asked, putting out the cigarette in his hand. Looking at the ashtray filled to the brim with cigarette butts, Xiang Zhe had to crossed his eyebrows; unknowingly, he had smoked so many cigarettes. He felt as if he had asked a stupid question, she is about to be a bride, why would she not be good/happy?

“Very well, how about you? Must have been flying around and putting in late hours in the office every other day, right?” Shan Mei’s laughter drifted into his ears. She definitely sounds like she’s very happy. As for himself, he has a feeling of emptiness.

“Yes, the same old me, No improvement at all.” Xiang Zhe replied self-mockingly. For the past two days, he has been thinking and questioning himself. In his pursuit of success, had he lost some things that is more important/dear to him?

“No improvement? All of us here in Tokyo often hear news that our Managing director Yin Xiang Zhe has stolen the business of Merrill Lynch; every other day he closes yet another big deal. Peter had a difficult time answering to the big bosses in London and all of us here had to suffer the same fate too….”

Xiang Zhe laughed out loud and replied “It’s all your fault, why did you draw me as someone buried in a pile of work. Since I’m back from London, I haven’t seen a good day!”
“Really? Then you should thank me even more!”
“Thank you for what?”
“Thank me for giving you such good business! Next time you get promoted, don’t forget to give me a treat!” She laughter had never once stopped.

“Hey, I ask you, why did you send me flowers? And write ‘Congratulations’ on the card?” Her interrogating tone made Xiang Zhe laugh out loud. Nobody who receives flowers should still dare to reprimand.
“Wow, so fierce! I have yet to ask you in return, why didn’t you inform me that you’re getting married. This is not what friends are for….”
“Getting Married? Who told you I was getting married?” Shan Mei replied, trying to hold back her laughter.

Xiang Zhe was caught off guard for a moment, the heavy feeling of lost had suddenly lighten and he asked quickly “ But…..I…. called you yesterday, your colleague said that…you’re busy preparing for the wedding ceremony?”
“What!……” she burst out laughing over the phone, “….Aiyo, you’ve mistaken….”
Actually, she was busy preparing for her little aunt’s wedding ceremony. Her little aunt is getting married next week.

“Then I think I’ve mistaken…..” Xiang Zhe laugh out loud with merriment. He has a feeling that the storm has cleared; the skies are blue again.
“Really, don’t you think you’re too imaginative?” Shan Mei asked with laughter
“My imaginative skills cannot be compared to someone else’s, it’s almost 3 months but I still cannot infer what the person was trying to tell me with all her actions on Thames River!…..”
“Haha! This is what we call the party involved will never know/confused”
Confused? Xiang Zhe thought in wonder.

“Hey, do you like it?” Xiang Zhe asked
“What?” Shan Mei didn’t know what he was trying to imply
“I mean the flowers, do you like it?”
“Hmph…the flowers….they’re very beautiful roses….although the receiver is a little un-deserving…but thank you anyhow!”
Shan Mei started to blush over the phone; luckily, Yin Xiang Zhe is not asking his question in front of her.

“Where are you now?” Xiang Zhe asked
“At home.”
“No wonder…”
“No wonder what?” Shan Mei asked in a laughing tone
“No wonder you started speaking without respect for the elders…..”
“What is that suppose to mean?”
“Previously, when I called you at the office, you always sound so detached and business like which made me sweat with fear. I’m more used to the Zhan Shan Mei who likes to bicker with me….”
“Are you nuts……” Shan Mei couldn’t help herself but burst out laughing.

They continued chatting, no one remembered who hang up the phone first.

That night, Xiang Zhe had dreamt that he was in Cambridge, rowing the punt along River Cam. He could clearly see his passenger sitting in one end of the punt with him….she was Zhen Shan Mei.



Sun Mi had just sat down when Michiko came crashing in front of her like a comet crashing into earth.
“Miss! You have finally returned …”
Sun Mi quickly puts down her glass and asks: “Is something wrong?”
She had just returned from Client Services, and since business competition is stiff, she often goes to Client Services.
“The boss is looking for you, … starting from three-thirty till now, he already had someone call over here twice …, Oh! Where have you been? Didn’t you say you would return at three thirty?”
Sun Mi smiled weakly and said: “Miss Michiko, like you are not familiar with our country’s traffic congestion, today is a Friday …”
Every Friday, Tokyo’s streets would be clogged with cars not moving at all, she was delayed for half an hour before being able to return to the office.

Sun Mi rushed to Peter’s office, almost running into Yumiko who was just exiting from it.
Yumiko is Peter’s secretary.
“Go on in, they have been waiting for you.” Yumiko said.
“Who’s inside?” Sun Mi curiously asked.
“A first-class handsome man!” Yumiko answered with a euphoric smile.
“Really? … Is it Brad Pitt? Or is it Beckam?” Sun Mi humorously inquired.
The whole company knows Brad and Beckam are the only two people with enough qualifications in Yumiko’s eyes to be considered as handsome.
“Now I have to add another person to my list!” Yumiko smiled as she pointed to the office.

Sun Mi pushed the door open and walked in, beside Peter, there was another man.
That person sat with his back to the door, at a glance, his backside looked slightly familiar.
“Sun Mi, there is someone here who came especially to see you!” Peter grinned as he waved at her.
That person stood up from the sofa.
Oh my god! It’s Yun Hyun Chul!
“How are you? Zhen Sun Mi …” He smiled teasingly as he greeted her.
Sun Mi was flabbergasted at that moment, she never ever thought she would see Yun Hyun Chul here.
“Director … Yun!” She fumbled as she tried to greet him.
She thought she must have looked like a big dummy at that moment.
Hyun Chul teased Sun Mi, “Haven’t seen you three months and you look even more beautiful …”
Sun Mi blush bright red, and stole a quick glance at Peter.
Why does this person have to say these kinds of things in front of Peter.

“Brother, what are you talking about? She is already beautiful, let me tell you …, in this building alone, there are numerous people who want to date her! This year’s Valentine, she alone received three or four bouquets of flowers, yet this lady here didn’t give a care about it, instead, she gave them all away to her colleagues. Oh yes! Just last Thursday, someone had sent a big bouquet of roses to the office for her to receive…” Peter was getting more ecstatic as he kept talking.
Last Thursday?
Hyun Chul caught a quick glimpse of Sun Mi.

Hyun Chul came to Tokyo for a vacation.
Peter wanted to take Hyun Chul out to dinner, but he said he was meeting with his senior for dinner.

Sun Mi walked Hyun Chul to the downstairs lobby.
“How long are you staying?”
“Leaving Sunday night…”
“You came all the way and only staying for two days, what kind of a vacation is that?” Sun Mi asked amusingly.
“If I said I came all this way to see you, would you believe?”
Hyun Chul stared intently at Sun Mi’s face.
The moment he saw her this afternoon, he finally understood just how much he wanted to see her.

Sun Mi felt her heart skip a beat, besides the business conversations in the office, she has never seen him this serious before.
“Oh…if that’s the case, I am … surprisingly honored.” Sun Mi patted her hair and answered nonchalantly.

He finally stopped staring at her.

“I came to visit my professor that I haven’t seen in a long time, only recently was I able to make contact….,” He thought for a second, “You…, are you free tomorrow? I was thinking I might need a tour guide.”
“Darn…” Sun Mi knitted her brows and apologetically said: “Coincidentally, I already have a date this weekend.”
A quick flash of disappointment appeared on Hyun Chul’s face.
“Couldn’t be a date with your boyfriend, right?” Hyun Chul said.
Sun Mi grinned and said: “Why are so asking so many questions?”
“**Sigh! I really envy that lucky guy …” Hyun Chul sourly replied.
“Yes! He is really lucky … “
The look of Sun Mi’s sweet smiling face gave Hyun Chul an unsettling feeling.
“How about this…. tonight, I will treat you to dinner? I will treat you to ….. Shabu Shabu …. “
Sun Mi said cheekily.
She felt bad, he really took good care of her when she was alone in Seoul, and since he came all the way to Tokyo, the least she could do was be a good host!

“Really?” Hyun Chul’s expression revealed a trace of astonishment on his face.
Sun Mi mockingly said: “What, you are doubting my sincerity? Hyun Chul laughed as he heard this.
“Now, why would I doubt your sincerity, I am …..surprisingly honored.”
Her dinner invitation caused him to be surprise and thrilled at the same time.
“But I have a dinner engagement tonight already …..” Hyun Chul answered ruefully, “Can I take a rain check?”
Oh! How could she forget so quickly that he had a dinner engagement that night.
“Anymore questions? If …. that’s it, I hope you have a fun holiday. The next time you visit Tokyo, remember to notify me first, I will definitely show you around.” Sun Mi said.
“That’s a deal!” Hyun Chul answered cheerfully.
“Okay.” Sun Mi smiles nodding her head.
As she watched his departing back, she thought, it would be nice if she didn’t have to go on the trip tomorrow, he had a look of disappointment on his face…

As soon as it was time to go home, Sun Mi left the office.
After sending Hyun Chul off, her mind feels perplexed, she couldn’t concentrate on her work, she thinks it’s most likely because of tomorrow’s trip to Ginza with her father that is causing the excitement.

Not even six thirty, Sun Mi had reached the University of Tokyo’s lecturer’s housing accommodations. Her father is a professor at the University, they have lived there close to three years.

As she entered the foyer, the whole place was filled with the smell of good food.
“Dad, I’m home …. “
Not hearing a reply from her dad, Sun Mi headed to the kitchen, and sees Chen Su Auntie busy cooking, it looks like they will be entertaining a guest tonight.
“Smells good … “ Sun Mi moved to Chen Su’s side, “Auntie, is a guest coming tonight?”
Chen Su is a Japanese Korean who has lived there for three generations and she’s an excellent cook. Whenever Gui Cheng entertained at home, he would always have her help out. Her family and Chen Su’s family are so close that the two families will usually get together for the holidays. The last time her dad was sick when she was in Seoul, Chen Su’s family was there to help!

“Your dad has invited a guest to dinner tonight.” Chen Su said.

“Child, Why are you home early today?” her dad’s voice came from behind her.
“Of course …. “ She walks to her father’s side, hooks her arm around his and laughingly said: “there’s good food to eat, of course I have to come home early or I might end up just washing the dishes …”
“What a child!”
Chen Su was moving things here and there in the refrigerator, looking for something.
“Auntie, what are you looking for?”
“I remember there is still a bottle of pa’te ….. “
“Hmmm … Our next door neighbor, Professor Robertson’s wife had an emergency two days ago, so I lent it to her.” said Sun Mi.
Gui Cheng looks at his watch, “It’s still early, I will go buy another one.”
“Dad, I will go instead! Your guest will be here soon and I don’t know the person … Auntie, I will leave as soon as I change my clothes.”

Sun Mi rushed upstairs, changed her clothes, and took off in the little scooter.
At the supermarket, she bought the pa’te and some fruits, by the time she got home, it was seven o’clock.
As she entered the foyer, she saw a pair of Dr. Marten’s shoes that didn’t belong to her dad.

When she entered, she heard her dad’s cheerful laughter.
Sun Mi quietly entered into the kitchen to give the items to Chen Su.
“The guest is here?”
“Just got here … seems to be one of your father’s old student.”
“Student? Huh! Who is this exalted student that dad has to invite to dinner?
“I don’t know if this student is exalted or not, but this young man is very good-looking …” Chen Su’s expression rendered a look of admiration.
“Is that right? What do you think, compare to your two favorite actors Clark Gable and Bao Tian Ming?” Sun Mi asked Chen Su in a self-possessed manner.
Just listening, he did sound like a good-looking chap, Sun Mi laughed as she thought she had already seen a gorgeous looking man today, can this person …. be as handsome as him?
“About the same.” Chen Su said.
“Believe whatever you want! Come and help me, you can take the pot of tea in and see for yourself!” Chen Su smiled as she handed the tea tray to Sun Mi.

Sun Mi cast her eyes downward as she walked into the living room; Dad is always saying that when a girl meets a stranger for the first time, she has to act reserve and modest. If that’s the way to meet with clients, no business will be done, but at home, she will listen to her dad, if not, he will tease her about having no manners.
“This is my daughter ….” Gui Cheng started to introduce her to the guest.
Sun Mi kept her head down and gave a little bow. From the corner of her eye, she could feel two beams staring intently on her, she didn’t like it one bit, how can this person have such bad manners.

Just as she was thinking about saying something, a very familiar voice floated into her ear.
“Zhen Sun Mi, we meet again … “

She quickly looks up and sees a pair of amused eyes, it’s really him.
She had a happy beyond words feeling.

“What? You two know each other!” Gui Cheng stared surprisingly at the two of them.
“We are … colleagues.” Hyun Chul quickly explained.
He had just arrived and didn’t have a chance to have a heart to heart talk with his old professor.
“Dad, the last time I went to Seoul, I worked under Director Yun.”
“Is that true! … Hyun Chul, then professor is going to have to harass you …. “
Gui Cheng started to smile, “When Sun Mi first returned, she had lost weight …, what have you done to my daughter?”
“Professor ….” Hyun Chul said with embarrassment.
“Oh, Daddy, what are you talking about!” Sun Mi pulled at her dad’s hand quickly, “he took very good care of me.”
“Really?” Gui Cheng couldn’t help but laugh as he saw his daughter’s agitated state.
Then it dawned on Sun Mi that her father was teasing her.

“Dad, you …. really have nothing better say! It’s your fault if I get fired from work one of these days.” Sun Mi pouted.
“Fired? Who dares fire my daughter? Hyun Chul, you can’t fire my little girl!” Gui Cheng rolled his eyes at Hyun Chul, he loved to tease his precious daughter.
“Yes, I … won’t.” Hyun Chul answered in a solemn tone.
“Daddy!” Sun Mi was so exasperated by the two of them teasing her that she gave her dad a light smack.
“You see, I have spoiled my daughter to the point where she has no manners, even in front of a guest, she dares to hit her own father.” Gui Cheng said jokingly.
“Oh, you said so yourself, that daughters should be spoiled!” Sun Mi cheekily rebutted her dad.

For dinner, they had French cuisine, Hyun Chul had brought a bottle of sauvignon blanc which was open right away to drink with dinner.
“Hyun Chul, you still remember that I like to drink that wine!”
“How can I forget, you brought a few of us graduating students to the winery and we drank quite a few bottles … “
“Time flies by quick, it has already been seven or eight years already!” Gui Cheng said with reminiscence.
“Oh yes, come to think of it, Sun Mi should be your junior! She was entering into Cambridge the year that you were graduating.”
“Is that right?” Hyun Chul lifted his head to look at Sun Mi, his smiling gaze carried a sense of helplessness.
This lady really knows how to tease people, like that day at Cambridge when he took it upon himself to be her tour guide, it’s like selling written works in front of Confucius!
Sun Mi smiled with awkwardness, like people said, paper can’t contain fire, which is so true.

Gui Cheng was in high spirits and drank three or four glasses in a row, Sun Mi swiftly reminded, “Dad, you have to drive tomorrow!”
“Oh yeah! I almost forget when I’m happy … “ Gui Cheng glanced at Hyun Chul,
“Hyun Chul, What do you have planned tomorrow? Sun Mi and I are going to Karuizawa
for the weekend, want to come along?
She is actually going on a trip with the professor, he had thought too much into it that afternoon.
“Would it … “ Hyun Chul stole a glance at Sun Mi, “Would it be inconvenient?
“Inconvenient? How could that be,” Gui Cheng turns his head to Sun Mi and said: “Kid, when I go find Tin Jung Uncle for chess playing, Hyun Chul can keep you company, right?”
Sun Mi lowered her head to drink her soup without saying a word.

After dinner, Gui Cheng and Hyun Chul moved into the living room to continue their conversation, Sun Mi made a new pot of tea and walked in just as they were talking about her work performance.
“A girl in this line of work, it’s so tough …” Gui Cheng glanced at his daughter and let out a sigh: “Not counting the times that she works late into the night, she’s goes on a business trip like every three days, she’s so busy that she doesn’t even have time to have a boyfriend … “
Hyun Chul chuckled and said: “Professor, you must be joking, Sun Mi is beautiful and hard-working, a lot of people must be trying to date her, I hear she receives flowers quite often at the office!”
Sun Mi! He called her Sun Mi, who gave him the right to call her Sun Mi.
“Sending flowers to this kid? When? I haven’t even seen it once …. Oh! The only time was last Thursday when she brought home a big bouquet of roses from the office!”

“Really?” a smile appeared at the corners of Hyun Chul’s mouth, she brought home his flowers.

From his pant’s pocket, Gui Cheng took out a cigarette, but was quickly taken away by Sun Mi.
Gui Cheng smiled as he got ready to negotiate with his daughter, “kid, just let this go for once!”
“No, we agreed that you can only have two cigarette per day, you have passed your limit today.”
Gui Cheng looked helplessly at Hyun Chul: “You see, my daughter is so strict with me, I even have a quota for smoking …, I think I better get her married off quick.”
Sun Mi pouted and said: “I’m only thinking about your health, what’s good about smoking? I don’t understand why you men like to smoke?”
The two men looked at each other and smiled for she had just badgered both of them right on the spot.

By Gui Cheng’s incessant delay, Hyun Chul was finally able to leave at nine thirty, as he was leaving, a picture on the living room wall caught his attention.

The three of them were at the front door, just as someone was coming to visit, Gui Cheng insisted Sun Mi walk with Hyun Chul a way, Hyun Chul attempted to decline but finally obeyed his professor’s wish.
Hyun Chul greeted the visitor, that person’s age was similar to his, Sun Mi spoke a few words to the visitor in japanese.
Hyun Chul nodded his head to the visitor with good manners, the visitor gauged him with a glance that didn’t seem sincere.

The two of them walked down the road, the road trip to the train station takes about twenty minutes.
The sky was cloudy and Sun Mi wished she had brought an umbrella with her.
Hyun Chul walked with his hands in his pockets taking in the surrounding sights and not speaking.
Sun Mi couldn’t wait any longer, “Are you mad at me?” she asked.
“Huh ….. “ Hyun Chul smiled mutely, “What should I be mad at you about?”
Sun Mi sheepishly said: “It’s about the … school incident.”
Hyun Chul restrained his smile, “Hmphf … , I was a little mad, why did you not tell me?”
Sun Mi bit her lower lip, “In the beginning, pride got in the way, I didn’t want to have anything to do with you, after that …. I felt bad so I didn’t say anything afterwards … “
Hyun Chul shook his head, smiling, “What a stubborn lady, … “
Sun Mi grinned and softly apologized: “Sorry.”
“Okay, I won’t count it against little women.”
“Little woman?” She stared wide-eye, not understanding the meaning.
Hyun Chul laughed without answering and kept walking.
“Oh ….. “ Sun Mi followed.

“Is it safe to walk on this road?” Hyun Chul asked.
”It’s okay! Once you exit the train station, it’s about a twenty minute walk; sometimes dad will come pick me up.”

Suddenly, rain started to fall, both glanced at each other and hurried their footsteps. At this moment, there seemed to be no other choice than to keep going forward. The sky wasn’t cooperating, it kept raining bean size rain drops, even if the two of them hurried their footsteps, there was no way to beat the rain drops, only a few second and their clothes started to get wet.
Hyun Chul took off his suit jacket and gave it to Sun Mi to deflect the rain.
Sun Mi took a quick look at Hyun Chul, she knew he would definitely start his talk about gentlemen etiquette and would not take the jacket back.
“Let’s use it together!” Sun Mi grinned.
In the end, both used the jacket to cover their heads, each held a sleeve and ran to the train station.
“Oh my, how did you get that soaked?” Sun Mi shouted as she saw that almost half of Hyun Chul body was soaked.
She was in a hurry to keep moving forward that she didn’t even notice at what time Hyun Chul had let go and had given up the jacket for her to use while he got soaked.
“When I get back to the hotel, first take a hot shower and it should be okay.” Hyun Chul said nonchalantly.
“If you catch a cold, I want to see how you can come to Karuizawa
with us? Sun Mi retorted.
Hyun Chul smiled a little, “I thought you didn’t want to me to go when you voiced your objection with silence just now!”
Sun Mi glared at Hyun Chul, “Are you the kind of person who needs people to invite you with open arms and say I am twelve thousand times blessed to have you come along to be satisfied?”
“ ….. “
Hyun Chul smiled faintly without answering, he did not want to argue her.
He thanked the sky to let him see her again tonight.

As Hyun Chul thought about buying an umbrella for Sun Mi to carry with her, a pair of mother and son smiled and waved them over.
Sun Mi began talking to the mother and son, Hyun Chul’s japanese may not be good but he understood a few words and caught the basic understanding of the conversation. Hyun Chul was very curious after hearing the pair address Sun Mi as “teacher”, when did she become someone’s teacher?

Sun Mi turned her head to Hyun Chul and said: “They invited us for a cup of tea plus you can dry your hair.”

Actually, the mother and son lived across from the train station.
“Why did they address you as teacher?” Hyun Chul couldn’t suppress his curiosity to ask Sun Mi.
“Ah, it is because…. I taught the boy to ice-skate.”
“Is that right? I didn’t know you can skate.”
“I have an instructor’s license.” Sun Mi cheekily answered.

As soon as they entered, someone handed them a dry towel, Sun Mi quickly ordered Hyun Chul to dry his hair, while she helped remove his wet clothes.
The lady watched a while and then humorously asked Sun Mi a question, only to see Sun Mi blush bright red and vigorously shaking her head.
“You dry it yourself!” she placed the towel into Hyun Chul’s hands and stepped away.
Seeing Sun Mi’s embarrassed look, Hyun Chul could guess what their conversation was about.

They stayed at the student’s house a little before leaving, as they walked out, the rain had stopped. Summer rain always come and go really quickly.

“You better hurry and leave.” Sun Mi rushed Hyun Chul to the station.
Hyun Chul looked around, it was late and not many people around, he didn’t feel safe leaving her.
“I’ll walk you home!”
Sun Mi shook her head, “I can walk home by myself.”
“I can’t let a lady walk home alone at this late at night.” Hyun Chul answered.
Sun Mi glanced at Hyun Chul and a smile appeared on her face.
She remembered that night when she first reached Seoul where he insisted on driving her home.

In the end, both walked back the same route to her house.
“Goodnight.” said Sun Mi.
Hyun Chul watched until Sun Mi had entered the house before leaving.

That night, Hyun Chul felt so extremely happy that he couldn’t sleep, his mind kept playing the scene of her waving him goodbye with that sweet smile on her face.
It was that smile! That smile that he could not forget …

Tonight, he finally figured out what had been bothering him all this time, the reason was he had really wanted to see her, and had seen a picture of her before.
It was at his professor’s old house in Cambridge that he had seen the same picture, which now hangs on the wall in the Zhen’s living room. In the picture, she was fifteen or sixteen years old with two ponytails and a dazzling warm smile …

It seems that one thing held their destiny together.
Back then, he must have imprinted her smile into his memory and after all this time, they would meet up again. This must be what they called fate….




Xiang Zhe received a call from Shan Mei just after seven.
“Wei, are you out of bed yet?”

To hear her sweet voice first thing in the morning! A thick smile appeared at the corner of Xiang Zhe’s lips.

“Anything the matter?” Xiang Zhe asked. They had agreed to meet up in Tokyo Station at eight the night before.

“Come down quickly! I’ll wait for you right in front of the restaurant opposite, …. Remember to bring along you baggages.” Shan Mei urged.

Ten minutes later, Xiang Zhe appeared before the entrance of the restaurant with his baggage. He saw Shan Mei riding on a motorbike from a distance. She was wearing a sleeveless white blouse, matched with kaki green long pants, waving smilingly at him.

Xiang Zhe quickened his pace towards her.

“Didn’t we agree to meet at the station around eight?”
“I went to get something from the marketplace and passed by this area, picking you up on the way will save us the journey of coming round the city again.”

Shan Mei pointed at the basket in front of her motorbike. Contained in it were some fruits and food for tea. She was relieved to see him looking fresh and relax. She was worried he would catch a cold after being caught in the rain the night before.

“Yee, where are your baggages?” Shan Mei stared pointedly at the simple racksack Xiang Zhe was carrying in his hand.

“It’s all here …” Xiang Zhe coolly lifted the travelling bag in his hand.

Shan Mei said laughingly. “That simple?”

Her father had always lamented that it felt as if she was shifting house every single time she traveled. Of course It’s more cumbersome when ladies traveled-mah!

“Come on!” Shan Mei handed Xiang Zhe the safety helmet, turning around to climb over the front seat of the motorbike.

For a long time, no movements could be heard from the back seat. Shan Mei turned her head, Xiang Zhe was still standing at the original spot.

“What’s wrong with you?” She asked.

Xiang Zhe stroked the back of his scalp, remarking with a smile, “I think… I’d make my own way there on a cab.”

A girl had never chauffeured him before since he was born… moreover… this 50 cc type of little vehicle….

Understanding dawned on Shan Me when she saw the reluctance on Xiang Zhe’s face. She scrutinized Xiang Zhe thoroughly, he must be at least 1.8m tall, and there wouldn’t be room for him to stretch his legs riding from the back. She felt that way riding on Michiko’s bike, not to mention his body was a whole length longer than hers.

“Alright, take the front seat then!” Shan Mei came off the bike.
“Wei, do you have a rider’s license?” she enquired with concern.
“Want to check?” Xiang Zhe put on the safety helmet, and ignited the engine. The license he had was for a superbike.

In the day of June, a touch of chill can still be felt in the morning air. Shan Mei sneezed suddenly.

“Are you cold?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“It’s still bearable…” she was overcome with another ‘hachiu’ just as she finished her sentence. She shouldn’t have left home wearing only a sleeveless top, thought Shan Mei. Xiang Zhe parked the bike at the side of the road, removing his jacket.
“Wear this!” he urged.
“It’s not necessary…” Shan Mei refused with a shake of her head. It was only a windbreaker; she couldn’t understand why she was being so fastidious.

Seeing Shan Mei’s stubborn refusal to take the jacket from him, Xiang Zhe laughingly remarked.

“You are wearing so little, I’d like to see how you can enjoy yourself in Karuizawa if you catch the flu.”

Shan Mei’s lips compressed with a smile when she heard him. She had uttered similar words to him the previous night.

“Wear it!” Xiang Zhe placed the jacket firmly on her shoulders.
“Thank you.” Shan Mei thanked him, an embarrassed smile on her face.

The vehicle moved following the direction of the road, and Shan Mei navigated from behind.
“Aye, seems to me that since the moment we met, you have constantly kept my good intentions at a distance..” Xiang Zhe lamented.
“When have I done such a thing …”
“When haven’t you? The first time I offered you a lift, you took me for a rake attempting to pick up girls; the second time I offered you a lift to pick up your luggages, you refuted for half a day; and the third time at the celebration gathering in my house, I offered to take you home, you refused in the beginning too…” Xiang Zhe said without hesitation. Shan Mei broke him off with a chuckle.

“You, a VIP General Manager, and you can remember so vividly such petty little matters, do you possess such good memory all the time…, I wouldn’t dare to even breathe in front of you in the future …”

“It’s not due to my brilliant memory, it’s because…” Xiang Zhe paused for a moment, wondering if he should continue with his explanation.

“Because of what?” Shan Mei urged.
“Because … you are very special…”

She was indeed very special. From the moment she rejected his lift with her terse righteous replies, she had unwittingly attracted him. He couldn’t forget her keen intelligence, couldn’t forget her ease in understanding people’s needs; couldn’t forget her waywardness; he couldn’t forget her shyly embarrassed look, and he couldn’t forget the vibrant smile on her face. He had met plenty of beautiful and gentle women, but she was the only one he couldn’t forget. He loved the easy, comfortable and natural feeling they shared when they were together. What’s so special about her? It couldn’t be…

“Wei! You are not about to suggest.. that I am like a little schoolgirl again are you?”
Shan Mei knocked on his back. Xiang Zhe could imagine the way she pouted her lips right at that moment.

“So smart!” Xiang Zhe retorted. He couldn’t resist teasing her.

Xiang Zhe immediately realized his unforgivable mistake. She seemed to be offended and did not communicate with him further the rest of the journey. She responded with simple answers like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to all his questions.

“Thanks for your windbreaker.”
She returned the jacket to him before entering the house.
“Zhen Shan Mei…” Xiang Zhe called out to halt her.
“Are you annoyed with me?” Xiang Zhe asked.
”Why should I be annoyed?”

Shan Mei concealed a smile. She felt a wee sense of satisfaction within her heart. She had been slightly irritated with him for repeatedly comparing her to a little schoolgirl, but not to the point of being angry. She just wanted him to feel a little anxiety. Poking fun at people was not Yin Xiang Zhe’s exclusive prerogative.

“Zhen Shan Mei, I take back my words just now…”
Xiang Zhe was about to apologize when Gui Cheng’s voice transmitted itself down from above the stairs.
“Shan Mei, has Xiang Zhe arrived? Call him to find out…”
Xiang Zhe was a little surprised; he had thought initially that Gui Cheng had instructed Shan Mei to fetch him. Xiang Zhe swirled his head round to look at Shan Mei, but she had turned her back on him.

”Papa, he… is already here!” Shan Mei responded to her father in a loud voice.
“You take a seat, I am going upstairs to see what’s happening.” Shan Mei left Xiang Zhe alone in the living room, running ‘dong dong’ up the stairs.

The entire journey from Tokyo to Karuizawa took approximately more than 3 hours by road. Gui Cheng drove the first half of the journey, handing the driving over to Xiang Zhe for the remaining journey. Gui Cheng and Xiang Zhe, both teacher and student seemed to have unending topics to talk about. They spoke about school and politics, and from economy to sports. Shan Mei didn’t have the opportunity to chip into their conversation. She sat at the back seat quietly admiring the picturesque scenery and reading some magazines.

“Little maid, why are you so quiet today?” Gui Cheng asked.
“Papa… now you remember I am seated at the back …”Shan Mei purred petulantly.
“What, are you blaming your old dad for neglecting you?” Gui Cheng said with a chuckle.
“We have Xiang Zhe to assist in driving today, it’s just as well; you are able to take a break.”
“Does Shan Mei drive on normal days?” Xiang Zhe addressed the question to Gui Cheng.
Shan Mei didn’t wait for Gui Cheng to reply, hugging her father’s neck, she responded coyly.

“Don’t even mention… my father acted so anxious whenever I drive, contributing to the demise of my cells; Huh! A typical male chauvinist pig…”

She turned her head to look at Xiang Zhe, commenting, “Wei, don’t tell me you share the same problem as my papa!”

The weight of stone Xiang Zhe carried within his heart fell on the ground at her sweet enchanting smile. He had been worried she would still be angry over the incident in the morning and had been stealing occasional glances at her from the rear mirror.

Gui Cheng turned his head around to reprimand Shan Mei.

“Little maid, Xiang Zhe is your boss, don’t keep addressing him ‘Wei Wei’, it’s very rude…”
Shan Mei threw Xiang Zhe a glance, a shadow of a smile gathering at the corner of her lips.

“It doesn’t matter…” Xiang Zhe said with a grin.
“Then how should I address your distinguished student? He had told me specifically that I should not address him as GM Yin out of the office …” Shan Mei said with pouting lips.

“This, err…” Gui Cheng looked at Xiang Zhe, then at his daughter.
“Call me Ying Xiang Zhe, or address me as Xue Zhang.” Xiang Zhe said.
“That’s settled then! Little maid, do you hear?” Gui Cheng gazed at his daughter.
“I _ know_already.” Shan Mei replied, sustaining her voice. Xiang Zhe looked at her cheekily playful expression, and grinned involuntarily.

When they stopped at the rest area of the highway, Gui Cheng commented in surprise.
“Eh, Xiang Zhe, we are wearing the same pair of shoes…”

Xiang Zhe looked down at his feet, Gui Cheng was wearing a similar pair of Dr. Marten designed shoes. Xiang Zhe smiled at Shan Mei. That was the pair of shoes he helped her to select when they were together in London. Shan Mei avoided his gaze, telling her father with a smile.

“Both of you, student and teacher sure have ‘Great minds and think alike’!”
“Shan Mei bought this pair of shoes for me when she was in London previously…” Pride and consolation was reflected in Gui Cheng’s face.

“Where did you buy it from? Xiang Zhe …”
“I bought it at London too, if Sir likes it, I’d purchase a few more pairs for you when I next travel to London on business. Sir, are you wearing size 7?”
“How do you know I am wearing size 7?” Gui Cheng asked in curious amazement.
“Err…” Xiang Zhe was momentarily taken aback, but immediately replied in a natural tone.
“I am just guessing…”

Shan Mei gave Xiang Zhe a radiant smile, her eyes expressing the message that he was a teachable student. Xiang Zhe shook his head with a smile, she was reluctant to disclose their time in London, and the only option opened to him was to follow her cue.

They arrived at Karuizawa before noon. After the trio had their lunch at the shopping area in the city center, Gui Cheng proceeded to play chest with an old friend, father and daughter agreed to meet up at five o’clock in the evening. They were staying the night at Shiotsubo’s hot spring hotel.

“Shan Mei, I am leaving Xiang Zhe to your care, show him your hospitality huh.” said Gui Cheng.
“Why, aren’t you accompanying Sir?” Xiang Zhe enquired.
“Uncle Tian Zong is papa’s colleague at the University of Tokyo, he shifted here after his retirement last year. Papa loved to play chess with him. He visits him every few months… I know nothing about the game of chess. All I could do was to scout round the area riding a bicycle. It’s fortunate the place has beautiful landscape, and the art galleries and museums are worth visiting…”

“This place has a very European feel… the planning of the forestry and architectural designs are heavily influenced by the scenic in Europe.”
“Ummm… this is the place where foreign missionaries developed into a summer retreat during the era of Emperor Meiji. In the past, Japan’s feudal lords and intellectual aristocrats liked spending their holidays here; it’s also the place where Kawabata Yasunari based the story of his book ‘Sound of the Mountain’. The place is not only equipped with tennis courts, ski grounds and golf course, it’s also covered with fashionably crowded shopping centers. It has transformed into a place attracting international tourism.”

Shan Mei brought Xiang Zhe to Old Mikasa Hotel, Tawaki Art Museum, the Catholic Society and St. Paul Church.

“Apart from the birches and larches, St. Paul Church is treated as the epitome of Karuizawa.” said Shan Mei.
“That’s right, it is a piece of work by the master of modern architecture Anthony Raymond. He got an award designing this church building.”

At three thirty, they arrived at Karuizawa Taliesin recreational park, located in front of the station. They found a place to rest under the shady green trees.

“Wah! It’s very comfortable here!” Shan Mei leaned back on the trunk of the tree.
“Tired?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“It’s still okay.”
“I forgot, you are an expert in shopping.”

In London, they had shopped from Covent Piazza to Notthing Hill, plus the night cruise at Thames River, she hadn’t once complained of being exhausted.

Xiang Zhe lay on the grass. The sunlight shone through the gaps left uncovered by the tree leaves and its rays fell on the grass surface, Xiang Zhe raised his hand to shield the blinding rays of the sun.

“Lend you this…” Shan Mei smilingly handed him a straw hat to shade the sun. A soft pleasant scent flowed to his nostrils.

“Zhen Shan Mei…” Xiang Zhe’s voice transmitted through the straw hat.
“In what circumstances would a girl give away flowers received from a guy?”
Shan Mei giggled as soon as she heard the question.
“Why do you ask?”
“Just curious...”
“This err… most probably they do not have much of a friendship or feelings towards the person sending them the flowers…”
“Is that so?”

Xiang Zhe sat up swiftly.

“Then I should be so honored … because … you did not give away the flowers I send you…”
“How do you know I didn’t?’ Shan Mei’s face reddened slightly. Her eyes were filled with laughter, both cheeks a ruddy red. Xiang Zhe felt as if he had been mesmerized.

“Didn’t your father say you brought home a bouquet of flowers last week…” He glared at her, a tiny smile hanging at the corner of his lips.

He seemed to be able to read her mind, Shan Mei lowered her head, avoiding Xiang Zhe’s heated gaze.

“It’s because… nobody wants it! I have no choice but to bring it home. Aiyuh… it’s so hot, give me back my hat.” She snatched the hat from Xiang Zhe’s hand, fanning vigorously.

Nobody wants it? That wasn’t what she said over the phone the other night, she said the flowers were beautiful. Xiang Zhe curbed his laughter. The little miss has a perky temperament, and didn’t like to admit defeat, he had a bitter taste of that in the morning and didn’t dare to antagonize her any further.

”I say you, how could you simply send flowers before checking the meaning behind what each color of roses contain, when you send flowers to people in the future, remember to check it out…”

In Shan Mei’s desperation, she lectured Xiang Zhe with the flower theory related by Michiko.

“Since when do we have such great philosophy?” Xiang Zhe remarked.

His secretary had arranged the flowers on his behalf, he didn’t have a clue what colored flowers he had send, he would make a point to find out when he returned.

“I am taking a rest.”

It’s Shan Mei’s turn to lie down, shading her face with the hat.

“This is like sunbathing.” Shan Mei commented.
“Sunbathing?…” Xiang Zhe retorted with a smile, “then you should remember to turn your body around…, to avoid tanning only half a side…”

Shan Mei grasped the edge of her hat, laughing breathlessly, and managed to contain her laughter only after a long while.

”Don’t disturb me again.” She warned seriously.
“Don’t worry, I will be your guardian angel.”

At that moment, she felt the joy of being spoilt. She shut her eyes with a smile, in the warmth of the sunlight and the windy breeze, exhaustion overcome her.

A surge of wind blew the straw hat away from Shan Mei and it landed on the ground, Xiang Zhe picked it up quickly. Shan Mei remained soundly asleep. Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei, his gaze on her was filled with tenderness. This would be the first time he was gazing at her without any reservations.

He didn’t sleep well the previous night. He would not have guessed they would meet at his lecturer’s house. To top it all, was his indescribable excitement at the discovery that she was the same girl whose enchantingly sweet smiling face had so deeply imprinted itself into his mind. It seemed destiny had somehow linked them together. Though he made the trip to Tokyo with the intention of meeting up with the lecturer he had lost contact for years, in truth his main purpose was to see her.

He had claimed in jest that he was reluctant to part with her at Bangkok Airport, and had fallen prey to his own words for he constantly thought of her. He had assumed he was treating her with an ordinary heart, in similar manner towards other girls. He thought the way he had missed her was common among the relationship between friends, but when the news of her impending marriage brought him such distress and desolation, he was deeply confused. Why did she possess such power to move his heartstring? A thank you phone call from her had unveiled the brooding clouds, he was so jubilated he couldn’t sleep the whole night.

He never had such special feelings towards another girl. He couldn’t explain why he had never treated her like a subordinate from the start. At first it might be due to Peter’s request, or his guilt over his unintentional misunderstanding, or more likely it was due to the familiarity of her beautiful smile, that he had voluntarily extended her a hand of friendship. From thence on, the masks he normally wore were unwitting removed when he was with her. Before her, he was more than happy to leave behind the competence and aggressive mannerism of a General Manager; he just wanted to be her friend.

From the night he received her call, he had decided to make a journey to Tokyo no matter what, he wanted to know what was within his heart. When he saw her at Peter’s office yesterday, though his mannerism appeared to be casual, his heart had raged with waves of emotions. He knew he had fallen for her at that instant. His heart felt inexpressibly disappointed when she said she couldn’t be his tour guide in Tokyo. However, God had deigned that they meet again a few hours later.

Shan Mei slowly opened her eyes, appearing before her sight was the moving blue sky, with several white clouds strolling casually in the sky. Her straw hat hung on the tree branch, swaying with the movement of the wind. She sat up, spotting Xiang Zhe lying next to her.

Hugging her knees with both hands, Shan Mei gazed at Xiang Zhe… He was indeed a very handsome guy, with thick eyebrows, huge glittering eyes, straight high nose and full lips. Coupled with his lean tall frame, he attracted attention wherever he went. Being young, handsome and successful in his career, he was definitely every girl’s Prince Charming. Many of the female colleagues commented that he was the most eligible bachelor in their organization behind their backs.

She remembered the embarrassed smile he sometimes unconsciously displayed, the involuntary smile that appeared at the corner of his lips; he was most dashing during those moments.

She hadn’t paid much attention to his physical looks when they first met. It was the concentration he projected at work, and the cool confidence radiating from his demeanor that had left a deep impression on her. Later, when they got to know one another, she discovered the tender, caring side of his character. Though they fight constantly, they got along like a house on fire. The night in London, when she found him going out with the girl so late at night, she was astonished into the realization that she might have fallen for him. Her heart was in turmoil; she avoided him the whole morning and managed to somehow control her thoughts. She thought she would be able to forget him separated by the mountain and the sea. Who would have guessed that when she saw him again, her heart still fluttered with emotions.

He had come especially for her, was… that true? No, he had always loved teasing her. Shan Mei shook her head with a smile, feeling it was wistful thinking. Shan Mei was so engrossed in her own thoughts she didn’t notice the pair of laughing eyes beside her, until Xiang Zhe called her did Shan Mei jolt out of her reverie.

“Are you awake?” Xiang Zhe enquired with a smile.
She said petulantly.
“Somebody claimed to be a guardian angel, how could you fall asleep?”
“Who said I was asleep? Someone sat foolishly here a moment ago, frowning in one instance, smiling in another, and did not hear me calling her several times… what were you thinking of?”
Xiang Zhe leaned forward, staring straight at Shan Mei’s face.

Shan Mei’s face reddened, and she avoided Xiang Zhe’s gaze. Pouting her lips to protest with a cry.
“Alright, how dare you spy on me.”
“Spy on you?” Xiang Zhe thundered with laughter, “I thought you were watching me…”
“Who was watching you?”
Shan Mei was so annoyed she clenched her fist, aiming a punch at Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe didn’t bother to hide or avoid, her punch fell neatly on his chest.
“Aiyuh! It hurts.” Xiang Zhe touched his chest, a guiless expression on his face.
“You are so hateful!” Shan Mei glared at him.
“I am hateful? Didn’t you tell your father I took good care of you yesterday?”
“That’s because I have Buddha’s heart, and feared that my father would throw you out of the door.”
“Is that so? …” Xiang Zhe stood up with a chuckle, “Lady Buddha, it’s five o’clock now, don’t let Sir wait for us…”

He extended his hand to her. Shan Mei hesitated for a moment, and gave him her right hand shyly. Xiang Zhe held on to Shan Mei with his big wide palm, pulling her lightly up her feet from the grassy ground.

The moment the center of their palms touched, she faintly felt her face burning, though it was just for a short while.

Hopefully, he wouldn’t notice it ……



They spend the night at a hotspring hotel in Shiotsubo.

There weren’t many guests frequenting the hotspring spa in the month of June. Gui Cheng waited till both Xiang Zhe and him to finish their hotspring spa, before he instructed the waitress to bring their dinner into the room.

“Ee, didn’t you go for a spa?”
Xiang Zhe asked Shan Mei. She was still wearing the clothes she had on this afternoon.

“Why do you care so much?” Shan Mei compressed her lips.
“Maid, what is the matter with you?” Gui Cheng looked at his daughter with a smile.
“I pulled Shan Mei’s leg with a joke just now. She is probably annoyed with me.”
Xiang Zhe hurried to explain.
“So sensitive!” Gui Cheng shook his head.
“Papa, why are you not siding your very own?” Shan Mei protested to her father with a laugh.

Apart from its hotspring facilities, the hotel was renowned for its deliciously fresh tepanyaki. The waitress controlled the progress of their meal, taking her time bringing out the dishes. Those cuisines they are supposed to eat cold were served with a crystal dish topped with bamboo leaves, blended and dry ice. The cuisines they were supposed to take hot were served together with charcoal. They were very particular with the presentation, an indication of the owner’s thoughtful efforts. When all three finished dinner, it was well passed nine o’clock. Shan Mei went for a hotspring spa after chit chatting with her father and his company (Xiang Zhe) for a while. Leaving behind Gui Cheng and his former student to continue with their conversation and drink in the room.

At 10.30pm, Shan Mei still hadn’t made an appearance.
“Sir, would you like me to go take a look?” Asked Xiang Zhe. Gui Cheng glanced at his watch.

Xiang Zhe made his way across the formosan sweet scum forest and arrived at the spa area. He didn’t meet Shan Mei along the way. He waited at the cooling shelter near the man-made lake. Everyone going towards or returning from the spa area would have to go through this route, he wouldn’t miss her waiting at the shelter. Approximately 15 minutes later, he saw Shan Mei’s alluring figure walking demurely out of the spa center. Shan Mei noticed Xiang Zhe after she entered the shelter.

“Ee, what are you doing here?” She asked in amazed curiosity.
“Sir is worried about you, and asked me to seek you out…”
“Have you waited very long?”
“Not too long.”
“You could have asked them to alert me …” Shan Mei felt a little bad.
“I am not in a hurry…”

Xiang Zhe smiled. His gaze rested on Shan Mei, surveying her appearance thoroughly. Shan Mei pulled her bathrobe closer across the Y area of her chest uncomfortably.

“What are you laughing at?”
Xiang Zhe stared at Shan Mei, and retorted with a grin.
“You look very different from normal days.”
She was wearing a bathrobe, its length flowed right down to her feet. Her long hair had been casually swept back into a chignon and held in place by a hairclip. Her wooden sandal gracefully worn, added another dimension to her overall demeanour.

Shan Mei smiled with a gleam of mischief, scrutinizing Xiang Zhe and said.
“Hmm…you look very different too…”
His appearance reminded her of the Samurai Jack shown on the cartoon network.

Xiang Zhe gurgled with laughter. He had forgotten that he was also wearing a bathrobe. The two of them strolled under the moonlight, the pavers guiding their steps back to the direction of the hotel.

“I like it most when autumn approaches, and when the Formosan leaves turned red during autumn season, if you gaze out from the windows of the hotel room, it’s like having a few thousands and millions of fiery red pastel flowers clued to the window, its beauty is simply breathtaking.” Shan Mei remarked with a brilliant smile on her face.

Her smile moved a chord in his memory.
Shan Mei watched Xiang Zhe as he hesitated in his speech.
“What’s it?” she asked.
“Do you know? …. Actually, I have seen you a long time ago.”
The smile at the corner of his lips was touched with a trace of tenderness.
“You are doing it again!”

As soon as Shan Mei heard that, she chuckled out loud. It wasn’t the first time he had uttered such words. Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei with a smile on his face, and continued.

“The photograph with you in a braid on top of the mantelpiece in your house’ living room, I have seen it at teacher’s research room in Cambridge…”

Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in astonishment.
“That must be many years back …”
Xiang Zhe nodded his head.
“When I met you in Seoul, I always had this feeling in my heart that I knew you, but you persisted in thinking that I am joking with you.”

It’s been eight years, a lot of things have gone by like moving clouds and smoke, but her smile remained deeply buried within his heart, there wasn’t a way he could erase it.
“That’s why, you took special care of me?”
“Ah…, at least you do possess some conscience, realizing that I took special care of you …” remarked Xiang Zhe.
“…….” The duo joked lightheartedly as they made their way back to the hotel.

“I would like to sit over here before going in, you go ahead to rest!”
Shan Mei sat on the long pew at the front corridor of the hotel.
“I have said I am your guardian angel.”
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe smilingly, “It’s up to you.” She said.
Once again, she felt the happiness of being indulged/spoilt. He alone could make her sense this particular brand of special feeling when they were together.

A surge of night wind gently blew in, the air was scented with a pleasant aroma.
“What flower is it which gives such a pleasant smell…” Xiang Zhe asked.
“That’s jasmine…, when I was little, we plant jasmine at the backyard of our house, whenever the flowers bloomed, I would always pluck a stalk or two with its leaves intact and placed it on a glass. I loved the pleasant smell of jasmine accompanying me to sleep … as if I would be able to sleep sounder this way…, I tried planting jasmine at our backyard last year, but was too busy to take care of them, they withered and died.”

“Ah… I really missed my childhood days … “ Shan Mei lamented.
Xiang Zhe sighed deliberately.
“Ai, I am really envious of you, my only childhood memories were being constantly reprimanded … “
She was aware that he was teasing, glaring at him in good measure.
“I thought you were a distinguished student with impeccable behavioural patterns since you were a child …. “

“I am the type of person whose talents developed later in life.”
She was tickled into laughter by his teasing.

“Do you always wear wooden sandals in the past?”
“What do you mean by that?” Xiang Zhe couldn’t comprehend the meaning behind Shan Mei’s word.
“You seem accustomed to wearing these things…” Shan Mei lowered her head to look at the wooden sandal on her feet.
“I am not used to this type of shoes, always felt as if I am going to trip.”
“Is that so? I couldn’t agree, not even a wee bit, the graceful sway you walked just now looked very attractive.”

“Nonsense.” Shan Mei covered her mouth with her hand as she smiled.
“Ai, on the subject of shoes … why didn’t you want teacher to know we purchased the shoes in London together?”
Shan Mei wrinkled her nose, removing her hairclip. Her wavy long black hair fell gracefully onto her shoulders.
“Aiyuh… my father loves to make a big thing out of nothing, if he gets to know you accompanied me scouting half of London, he will surely drill information out of me from the beginning to the end and irritates me to death! …. Wei, you are not allowed to utter a word ooh!”
She reminded Xiang Zhe seriously.
“Sir was concerned over your welfare …” Xiang Zhe chuckled, “Sir claimed there was a handsome hunk from Cambridge punters team who chased you from London to New York … “
“He told you this too … “ Shan Mei bloated her gills, she had left them alone for a mere instant and papa had confided to him a whole load of things.

“What else did papa tell you?” Shan Mei asked with compressed lips.
“He said you honour and care for him, has never been a cause for worry, and is a wonderful daughter who could not be found even if he was carrying a lighted lantern.”
His lecturer had mentioned she was a crybaby when she was a child too. He didn’t dare to breathe a word to her about that.
“That’s something.” Shan Mei nodded her head with satisfaction.

“Yesterday… the guy at the entrance of your house, is he … your admirer?” Shan Mei’s large eyes rounded.
“Who said so? Ouch, it’s my father again right?…” Shan Mei rolled her eyes heavenward.
Xiang Zhe shook his head with a grin. “Sir doesn’t need to tell me…, the expression in his eyes when he watched me, it’s like … I have snatched away his much loved possessions.”
Shan Mei retorted with bad tempered urgency
“Yin Xiang Zhe, don’t try to be smart by jumping into conclusions, he is my father’s colleague…”
She couldn’t understand why she was so quick to clarify the matter.
“Wei, if you persist with this senseless topic, I am going to ignore you … “

It appeared she was intent on avoiding that particular subject. It shouldn’t be due to the fact that she had already given her heart away to someone? Xiang Zhe was slightly disturbed.
“Ai, if only I had got in touched with teacher sooner, I would get to know you sooner…”
Xiang Zhe remarked. Shan Mei smiled.
“What difference does it make whether we meet earlier or later?”
“I fear it might be too late now…” Xiang Zhe turned his head round to look at Shan Mei.
Shan Mei turned her head sideways, her eyes coinciding with Xiang Zhe’s deep set gaze. Her heart skipped a beat.
“What is late? I don’t understand what you mean…” Shan Mei countered, pretending as if nothing had happened, but couldn’t quite conceal the uneasiness on her face.
That fell directly into Xiang Zhe’s gaze, and the unsettling feeling he carried within his heart earlier dispersed immediately without a trace. He believed they hadn’t met too late.

“Is your present job too tough for you?”
Xiang Zhe changed the subject with deft shrewdness, he desired to retain her a while longer.

Mergers and Acquisition works were complicated and tough going. It was commonality to stay overnight on a job. Very few ladies could remain in this field of work long term. The few well-known ladies in their field were either single or failed in their marriages. Gui Chen confided to him his deep anxiety earlier.

“It’s a bit tough, but very challenging. I love my job, I will stay on another two years before reviewing the situation.”

Departing from the subject of relationships, the two of them chatted from the southern sky to the northern land, it was midnight when they eventually parted company.

“Goodnight, Xue Zhang.” Shan Mei gave him a gracious smile.
Xiang Zhe smiled, his heart overflowing with immense joy.
She had willingly addressed him “Xue Zhang”, could it come with the implication that their relationship had moved a step closer?

“Zhen Shan Mei!”
Xiang Zhe called out, halting Shan Mei who was about to enter her room.
“What’s the matter?”
“Wait for me a while, just a little while will do.” Xiang Zhe swirled round and descended down the stairs.
A moment later, Xiang Zhe returned with a leafy stalk of jasmine.
“Happy Birhtday…., and sweet dreams.” He thrust the stalk of jasmine into her hands.

The corner of Shan Mei’s lips blossomed into a smile.
“How do you know?”
“I accidentally saw the information at the registration counter just now, I am sorry, I didn’t prepare any presents for you…”
“You have already given me a present…” Shan Mei waved the flower in her hand.

She leaned at the door, unable to calm the emotional turmoil within her heart.

Many things he said tonight seem to have a deeper implication. He remarked he had feared it might be too late meeting her now… He had actually seen her years ago. She was beginning to believe he had made this trip to Tokyo with the sole intention of visiting her.

Shan Mei bent her head to lightly suck at the jasmine in her hands, the fragrance of the flower was so sweet, and her heart felt similarly sweet…

When Shan Mei arrived at the restaurant downstairs the next morning, Xiang Zhe was waiting for her. Gui Cheng had gone for a stroll after finishing his breakfast.

“Good morning, did you sleep well last night?” Xiang Zhe asked with a smile.
She was wearing a cowboy suit (maybe dungarees?), her face radiating light. Shan Mei nodded her head.
“What do you want to eat? I’ll get the food for you.”
“I can help myself.”
Shen Mei replied with her head lowered. She felt shy thinking of the flowers he presented to her the night before.

After breakfast, Gui Chen drove back to Karuizawa. The trio drove in foggy conditions, following the narrow roads in between the forest made up of birches and larches. Rays of sunlight sieved through the autumn leaves, falling on the ground and illuminating it with patches of gold. The chirpy sound of the birds could be heard from the woods from time to time. The tranquility and peaceful surrounding felt like heaven on earth.

“Papa! Xue Zhang! Come here quick…” Shan Mei who was walking in front of them called out to her father and Xiang Zhe.
“Xue Zhang?”
Gui Cheng glanced at Xiang Zhe with a mocking smile. Xiang Zhe returned the smile with embarrassment.
“Er… Sir, I shall go and take a look…”

Xiang Zhe quickened his pace towards Shan Mei’s direction. He felt cornered by Gui Cheng’s look and dashed to a speedy escape. On normal days, he could handle a huge group of professionals without blinking an eye. However, his skin felt so thin today, he was humoured by his own thoughts.

“Miss… have you discovered a piece of new land?” He reached her side.
“Shh…” She placed her forefinger on her lips, pointing towards the top of the tree. She had discovered the squirrels’ tracks.

The trio continued their journey until they reached Shiraito Falls before returning on the same route.

Gui Cheng brought Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei up the observation platform, the panoramic views immediately came into their visions, not only were they able to see the vast expanse of Karuizawa Heights, the grandeur of the North Alps and Mt. Asama were also magnificently and clearly displayed.

“Xue Zheng, come up quickly, the view here is simply fantastic!” Shan Mei stood on top of a huge rock, waving at Xiang Zhe with a vibrant smile. She had been addressing him as Xue Zhang Xue Zhang the whole morning, the words flowing out of her mouth naturally.

“Shan Mei-ah, you kept conspiring with your boss, neglecting your papa at the side…” Gui Cheng teased his daughter laughingly.
“Papa …” Shan Mei’s face turned bright red.

They proceeded to the volcano ruins of Mt. Asama, Karuizawa Taliesin and Kumobanoike Pond. Shan Mei was revisiting these places. Gui Chen had cancelled the golf game he had originally planned. It was quite obvious he looked highly upon and treasured Xiang Zhe’s company.

Near noon, the trio arrived at Shinshu’s handmade Noodle (Osoba) Centre. Gui Cheng flashed his Tokyo University’s lecturer pass, and when the owner of the shop realized they had VIP guests, they warmly welcome their visit and showed them the manufacturing process of Osoba (Japanese noodles). Shan Mei thought the process was interesting and fun.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, shall we try our hand on making noodles?”

Shan Mei got carried away with the enthusiasm to try. She wanted the fun experience of making noodles first hand. When she attended home economics class during high school, the schoolteacher had taught them how to make pork dumpling, they had not attempted noodles before.

“You play alone!” Xiang Zhe politely declined, shaking his head.
“Aiyuh, it’s no fun doing it alone…., papa, join me!”
Shan Mei turned towards her father, clingingly pleaded.
Gui Cheng shook his hands, grinning at Xiang Zhe and said.
“I am enlisting the service of my disciple, Xiang Zhe, help your teacher. Please partner this maid!”
Shan Mei blinked her eyes at Xiang Zhe’s direction, a helpless expression hanging on his face.

“I will be an assistant standing beside you, this should do, shouldn’t it?”
Xiang Zhe put on the apron reluctantly, and insisted on being just an observer.
“How dare you disobey my father’s commands?”
She glared at him. Shan Mei started with sieving the flour. Her face was smudged with patches of white flour after a short while.
“Wah, you look like a little pussycat.” Xiang Zhe couldn’t resist commenting.
Shan Mei’s huge eyes rounded into a stare, grabbing a handful of buckwheat flour and wiped it on Xiang Zhe’s face. Xiang Zhe wasn’t fast enough to avoid her sudden move, and his face was liberally painted white on the spot.
“General Manager Yin, you look like a gigantic pussycat.” Shan Mei retorted mockingly.

After Shan Mei finished sieving the flour, she followed the instructions of the workers and started to knead the flour. Her wrists strength were too puny she panted for breath after a few attempts at kneading the dough, but she was proud and didn’t want to appear weak before Xiang Zhe, and forced herself to continue with her efforts with gritting teeth. Witnessing her struggles, Xiang Zhe was sympathetic.

“Come, allow me!”
Xiang Zhe laughingly took over the job of kneading the dough. The trio enjoyed the osoba they made at noontime. Gui Cheng was singing endless praises at their skill.

“Zhen Shan Mei, the shape of the noodles I made seems to be of higher standard than yours!”
Xiang Zhe showed off smugly.
“Alright, I know you are the modern good guy!” Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe.

The owner of the shop watched the two argued, and remarked with a smile.
“Lecturer Zhen, your daughter and son-in-law are very amusing!”
Their faces turned red, and they exchanged an embarrassed glance. Shan Mei pulled at her father’s sleeves, enlisting his help to clarify the matter.

Gui Cheng smiled ruefully, in his mind Xiang Zhe was firm and disciplined, it wouldn’t have occurred to him that he would join force with Shan Mei the maid in her mischievous etiquettes.

“Alright, the two of you, finish off your noodles quickly! Don’t just focus on arguing.” Gui Cheng said.
Shan Mei glared at Xiang Zhe, squealing with pouting lips, “It’s all your fault-lah…”

Both lecturer and student took turns to drive on their return journey. They stopped from time to time to admire the scenery on the way so that it was almost five o’clock when they arrived at Tokyo. Xiang Zhe’s flight was scheduled at seven o’clock. Gui Cheng had planned to fetch Xiang Zhe to Narita International Airport but Xiang Zhe was adamant in his refusal.

“I have already troubled sir the whole day, I will take the tube/electric train, it’s very convenient.”
“Alright, visit us again when you are free. Let’s enjoy a good drink.”
“Most definitely.” Xiang Zhe replied.

When the car arrived at Tokyo city center. “What is that bridge?” Xiang Zhe pointed at the white coloured bridge with brilliant lights on his right, asking.

“That’s Rainbow Bridge (Minato)! Ee, don’t you travel to Tokyo for meetings frequently?”
Shan Mei enquired with a smile.

“I travelled on business, coming and going in a rush, in Tokyo, the places I am most familiar with are the office and hotel…”

He would pack his bag back home straight after business matters were concluded every time.

“There are a number of interesting places within the proximity of Tokyo, allow Shan Mei to take you round the next time you are here.” Gui Cheng said.

“I am afraid I will only have the time to visit after the middle of July.” Xiang Zhe’s gaze fell on Shan Mei with suggestive intention. In the following one and a half month, his everyday schedule was jammed packed, weekends and public holidays were no exceptions.

“Papa, you’re treating me as if I am very free! I have been so busy for the last few months, it was exceptionally difficult to get two days’ break this weekend.” Shan Mei hurriedly voiced out her objections to her father.

Gui Cheng and Xiang Zhe exchanged a glance with a smile.

“Tokyo’s grand fireworks festival at Sumida is end of next month. Come for the visual experience if you have the time.” Shan Mei said.

The car was driven to the front of Tokyo train station. Gui Cheng couldn’t find a parking lot, he urged Shan Mei to show Xiang Zhe off on his behalf.

She accompanied him to the ticket checkpoint
“Okay, I have to leave, so delighted to see you…., these two days, thank you.” Xiang Zhe extended his right hand with a smile. Shan Mei bit on her lips, and stretched out her hand. This time, she didn’t hesitate nor delay.

“Zhen Shan Mei, hope to see you often in the future.”
Shan Mei produced an embarrassed smile.
“Goodbye!” Xiang Zhe remarked.
Shan Mei nodded her head.

Xiang Zhe had taken two steps before he swirled back.

“Zhen Shan Mei, don’t you ever say goodbye to anyone?” He watched her. In his memory, she had never bidden him farewell before.

Shan Mei smiled mildly, “Saying goodbye… makes me sad. I dislike bidding farewell to my friends.”

She disliked bidding farewell to her friends….
The corner of Xiang Zhe’s mouth curved upwards slightly.

“Does that mean we are now friends?” He asked her.

Shan Mei smiled without speaking.

“See you again (goodbye), Zhen Shan Mei, we …. shall meet again very soon, I guarantee it.” Xiang Zhe waved his hands coolly.

Her eyes followed his figure across the ticket checkpoint, disappearing into the corner of the platform.

The car moved forward in the congested streets, the multi-coloured streets scenes disappeared in reverse order clips by clips….

“Maid, what are you thinking of?” Gui Cheng patted on Shan Mei’s shoulders lightly.

Shan Mei wasn’t paying attention, he had spoken to her for half a day and she appeared not to have heard a single word.

“Oh…, Papa, what did you say just now?” Shan Mei came out of her reverie.

“I am asking you …., how do you feel about my student?”

“What do you mean how?” Shan Mei glanced at her father with guilt in her heart.

“His character, his knowledge-ah!”

“Oh…., very good-ah!”

“Does he have designs on you?” Gui Cheng gave his daughter a searching look.

Shan Mei’s heart skipped a beat, “Papa, don’t utter nonsense.”

“The two of you chatted till the wee hours in the morning, what did you talk about?”

“Who chatted with him till the wee hours in the morning?” Shan Mei’s face burned. Fortunately the lights were not on inside the car.

“Xiang Zhe shared a room with me, he said he was going to seek you out last night, and only came back after twelve midnight.”

He had claimed it was papa who had asked him to search for her, in actual fact ….

“We were speaking about business related matters, I sought his guidance … enterprising skills, that’s all…”
Shan Mei glided through the subject with a few short words.

Gui Cheng changed the radio channel to the music network. Johann Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ flowed inside the car. Amidst the soothingly beautiful tune of violin, Shan Mei continued to dwell in her own thoughts.

From the start, she had never bothered or taken notice of the caring and loving glances surrounding her. With regards to other people’s intentions and designs, she either dismissed them lightly or avoided them with eyes that couldn’t see, but the way she felt about him was so different …

When did all these happened? For absurd/unfathomable reasons he had detained her late in the night; he had glimpsed the distraught tears she shed for an undeserved recrimination inside the conference room; when she fell ill and fainted, he was the first person she saw when she woke up; he had journeyed with her in completing Da Rong’s few hundred pages thick announcement prospectus. In Portobello Gold, the two of them had enjoyed the special mix of vodka plus lemonade carbonated drink ‘Smirnoff Ice’ together in a tree house ….

Every single thing they did together was clearly imprinted in her mind, not one was forgotten. When did she begin to lose her heart?

Memory was a very strange thing. The things you try hard to remember you just couldn’t recall, and those that you would like to forget you just couldn’t forget. Till now, she could still remember the smell of the jacket he placed on her shoulder at Thames River that night.

He said, they would soon meet again. Was that a date?

On Monday, she opened up her mailbox, and immediately saw the mail he had send her! The time he sent out the mail was at midnight yesterday. She suppressed the turbulence it caused in her heart and retrieved the mail.

It’s written on top,

Shan Mei,

Pen and ink couldn’t describe the immense joy within my heart at the chance of seeing you again.

Thank you and teacher for the gracious invitation to join both of you father and daughter in your holiday at Karuizawa. It’s been ages since I’ve been so casually relax. Have forgotten to thank you for the gift of ‘A Year In Provence’. I kept it on my working desk, whenever I am frustrated, I’ll pick up the book to flick through, and think of what you have said about those mouth watering delicacy in my mind, and my mood lightens (I am definitely not possessed with a glutton personality, in truth it’s due to your greedy look when you related in detail those delicious food which was the cause of my inability to resist!). If there is an opportunity, will you be willing to accompany me to Provence for an eating holiday?

You said, to say goodbye makes you sad; in my dictionary, to say goodbye is to look forward to the next meeting. I am looking forward to our next meeting. You have agreed to bring me for a good scout in Tokyo.

Sweet dreams! (Perhaps I should be wishing you good morning?)

Yin Xiang Zhe

When she finished reading the mail, Shan Mei smiled very sweetly. She moved the cursor to the reply icon and clicked lightly on it …

Xue Zhang

I shall remember my promise.

P.S. You have described me as a greedy ghost, I strongly object.

Shan Mei

“Shan Mei… Zhan Shan Mei…”

Shan Mei jolted out of her reverie. Michiko watched her face closely.

“Ah, what’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter? I am about to ask you? Why are you directing a silly smile at the PC? … You couldn’t be reading a love letter?” Michiko moved her head forward as she spoke.

“Don’t overexert your imagination so early in the morning!” Shan Mei patted on Michiko’s shoulders lightly, minimizing the window.

“Wei, I brought you Shinshu’s osoba!”

“How sweet of you!” Michiko said happily.

Fortunately Michiko did not pursue the matter further. Otherwise when the rest of their colleagues proceed to arrive, they would follow her lead and cause further uproar.

Xiang Zhe smiled to himself in front of the PC screen. He couldn’t recall this was number what times he was reading the mail. As soon as he entered the office in the morning, he couldn’t wait to check his mailbox. As expected, her name appeared before his eyes. Its two sentences short cute impish reply had been the reason for his excellent mood the whole day.

Zhan Shan Mei, we are going to see each other again soon, you most definitely must keep to your promise, I will not allow you to employ any excuses, slipping away.

Xiang Zhe opened up his working calendar, and smilingly noted the day 26th July. Sumida Fireworks Festival was on that day.



It was Saturday again. In this business, most Saturdays were like any other working day. However, the atmosphere in the office was full of excitement and anticipation because it was the fireworks festival at Sumida. On this day, the whole of Tokyo seemed to be throbbing with excitement. Many people had been discussing the fireworks of the festival for several days now, and even aijin(foreigners) could not help feeling some excitement as well, even though many of them would not even attend the fireworks. Many just took the day as an opportunity to take a break instead.

The phone rang.
Hello,Shan Mei picked it up.
It me,Xiang Zhe voice came back clearly in reply.
Shan Mei was a little surprised as the seldom rang her at work.
What is it?Shan Mei lowered her voice. The office really wasn a place she could easily have a private telephone conversation in. Most people would take their private calls on their mobiles and walk outside to talk.
Will you meet me in the ground floor lobby of the office at six olock?He asked.
Where are you?Shan Mei was startled.
I at Narita airportIe just got off the plane., lets go to the fireworks festival at Sumida together tonight.
Tonight Shan Mei glanced at Michiko. She had already agreed to go to the movies with her.
Xiang Zhe heard the hesitation in her voice. hen Shan Mei, I’ve come all this way at your invitation. Surely you aren’t thinking of backing out!
My invitation? When did I ever do that?
On the night of the eighth of June, a lady told me that there was a fabulous fireworks festival in Sumida at the end of July, and suggested that I should try to find an opportunity to go to Japan to attend it. I thought you were extending an invitation; obviously I was wrong.

Shan Mei was taken aback. How can you take things so literally?
No wonder he had rung her twice during the week, asking her about her work schedule. He must have already had the intention to come over to Tokyo then.

He knew she couldn’t refuse.
l see you soon, Xiang Zhe hung up the phone happily.

Although they were separated by the miles, the sea and the mountains, he could not help thinking about her constantly. He wondered if she felt the same way.

After spending the time with her in Tokyo, he had, for the first time in his life, a longing to start a serious relationship. Regardless of whether she already had someone in her heart, he intended to give it his best shot because he was already falling in love with her, and could see no other way.

He started writing to her. No matter how busy his work was, no matter how far away he was, he did not stop his writing. In the face of her demureness and shyness, he could not find the courage to express his feelings outright for fear of scaring her away. Every word and every sentence in his letters were carefully chosen and considered. Even though his letters were usually full of drivel about where he had been and what he had done, he felt she would be able to understand the depth of feeling behind his words.

Shan Mei had to lie her way out of the engagement with Michiko, and made her way to the square in Kasumigaseki, in front of the Diet building. The normally bustling Kasumigaseki was quiet, probably because most people had gone off to watch the fireworks. From a distance, she could already see Xiang Zhe standing in front of the bronze statue.

When he returned to Korea, he had sent a telegram thanking her father and herself for their kind hospitality and thanking her for the book Year in Provence Since then, he had written her a letter every week. The first letter he sent from Taipei threw her. She was touched by his neat, careful writing and the foreign postmark on the envelope. Then a second letter arrived, and a third……. Even though their contents were mostly about every day affairs or about places he had visited, she looked forward to receiving them, carefully read their contents and earnestly replied to each. She could picture in her mind the expression on his face as he received them, each reply filling him with hope and joy. Before she knew it, his letters became part of her life. That feeling of anticipation and longing became a constant in her heart.

Shan Mei put her hand on her heart and took a deep breath. She had been at the peak of excitement ever since receiving his phone call. All along the way, she trotted along as quickly as she could.

Xiang Zhe smiled at her from a distance as she approached. That sweet smile on her face and her gait mesmerised him. All the longing he felt melted away the instant he saw her.

Even though she always joked with him and teased in her letters and their telephone conversations; even though he had been racking his brain about what to say when he saw her, he was tongue-tied the moment he saw her.

You’re here!Xiang Zhe was the first to find his wits.
You never give me any advance notice each time you come!Shan Mei complained.
I wanted to surprised you,Xiang Zhe smiled never taking his eyes off her.
Shan Mei blushed. It sounded like he really meant it. She avoided his gaze, and was saved by a young boy who asked her for directions.
I hope I haven taken you away from anything important,Xiang Zhe said matter-of-factly.
Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him and said with a slight pout, hen did you become so considerate?
He was insistent and brooked no refusal a while ago on the phone.
Well, I afraid of getting a dressing down.
I not that fierce!Shan Mei objected.
Xiang Zhe chuckled and shook his head.
And just what are you laughing at? I the one who got the dressing down from GM Yin that left me in tears.she pouted even more.
Oh no! She had started to hold grudges!
Yah! You’re still holding a grudge over something that happened so long ago?
Of course! Ie never in my life been told off in straight in the face for not being able to keep my private life out of my work. It was completely unreasonableShan Mei put on a tortured look.
Xiang Zhe couldn help laughing, n that case. how can I ever make it up to you?
Shan Mei eyes suddenly lit up, and she smugly said, ow about putting a word in the ear of the Big Man in London and getting me a promotion or a raise?
Xiang Zhe laughed even more, hat not a problem, providedI transfer you over to the Seoul office first…”
Whatever for?
You don report to me, so how can I put a good word in for you? Surely you don expect me to say that it because I owe you one!
Shan Mei laughed merrily, ook at you! You almost look as though you were serious!
I am!Xiang Zhe said seriously. hat do you think? Would you consider taking a transfer to Seoul?
She shook her head.
Because I like working here, because My dad is here.
Xiang Zhe sighed, lright then. For a moment there, I thought it was because you were upset at me.
Shan Mei burst out laughing again, ou really think too highly of yourself!

The fireworks were scheduled to begin at seven thirty, and the roads surrounding the area were to be closed to traffic from six thirty. They were lucky enough to flag down a taxi that took them into the area just before the roads were closed. After alighting, they strolled towards Sumida Park which was on the banks of the river, and was the best view point for the fireworks.

The park was packed with people cheek to jowl. Many had been there earlier with mats to stake out the best viewing spots.
really didn think it would be so crowded.
his is the 250th anniversary of the fireworks festival at Sumida, and it is one of the major events in Tokyo. This year, the fireworks are meant to be even more spectacular to commemorate this. Newspaper reports were saying that a few hundred thousand were expected to attend.
It feels a little like the New Year festivities in Korea…”
Yes. You can see many young people have put on their kimonos for the occasion, just like during New Year…” She pointed towars a throng of colourfully-clad, smiling young women.

Shan Mei telephone rang.
Dad…” it was Gui Cheng on the line.
at Sumida watching the fireworksyes Il be back late tonight Umm…” she glanced at Xiang Zhe, then lowered her voice and said, withsome people from work…”
Xiang Zhe pretended not to hear, and had to stifle a chuckle.

At seven thirty, the first firework lit the sky over the appreciative mumurs of the crowd. And so the festival began. One after another, spectacular fireworks lit up the sky in brilliant colours and beautiful formations, leaving a wonderous smile on all faces in the crowd.

It started!Shan Mei cried in excitement.

The jostling crowd was pushing this way and that. The policmen on duty were constantly blowing their whistles, trying to control the crowd, but they were fighting a losing battle. Suddenly, a group from the back pushed forward into the crowd with some force. Xiang Zhe lost his footing a little. By the time he regained his balance, Shan Mei was nowhere in sight. Xiang Zhe craned his neck, looking in all directions. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. He completely lost interest in the fireworks, and made his way through the crowd searching for her in vain. Just as he was at his witsend, he remembered that he had his telephone with him. Luckily he had rented a Japanese mobile at the airport. He dialled her number hastily
ue Zhang, Xue it you?She sounded distressed and worried, as if she, too, had been looking for him.
here are you?
near the river bank…”
Shan Mei looked around her, and could not find any significant landmarks. With this crowd, even if he made his way in her direction, it was almost impossible to spot each other. Moreover, he was not familiar with the territory She thought for a moment, then suggested, o you remember the swings we passed when we came into the park? Let meet at the left of the swings!

It took her more than five minutes to fight her way back through the crowd, but she spotted Xiang Zhe immediately.
ue Zhang, Xue Zhang…” Shan Mei shouted at Xiang Zhe as she waved wildly in his direction. Xiang Zhe was too engrossed in looking through the crowd to hear her.

She looked at his worried, anxious expression and remembered how he had arranged dinner to be delivered to her room that night when she was ill.

Xiang Zhe only relaxed when she finally came up and gently tugged on his sleeve.
re you alright?He held her by the shoulders and asked with deep concern. His eyes held the same look she saw as she regained consciousness at the hospital.

She was deeply moved, and had the urge to wipe his brow of sweat.
I alright. Here, take this..she shyly handed him her hankerchief. Xiang Zhe was stunned, his deep, dark eyes looking intentely at her face.
She started to feel uncomfortable, iyo! Can you please hurry up?
The spell was broken. Xiang Zhe came to and smiled at her as he took her hankerchief.

By now, the fireworks were already half way through. The only impression both of them had of the festival consisted only of the first two minutes’ worth.

Shan Mei looked at her watch and said, “There’s still another half an hour to go. Why don’t we head back for the rest of the fireworks? After all, we’ve already come all this way.”

The two of them headed back into the crowd, one behind the other. Xiang Zhe constantly glanced back at Shan Mei, afraid that they might lose each other again.
Seeing Xiang Zhe’s anxiety, Shan Mei smiled, “I think I should be the one doing the worrying here…After all, you’re the guest!”
Xiang Zhe laughed. He had forgotten that this was her territory. “The issue is not whether one is the host or the guest. I’m the man. I have a duty and a responsibility to take care of the lady.”
As he spoke, he used his body to shield her against a young man who was wildly tackling his way past.

Suddenly, a wave of activity pushed against them, and Xiang Zhe quickly grabbed hold of Shan Mei’s hand.
Shan Mei looked at her hand in Xiang Zhe’s, and blushed.

Xiang Zhe smiled and looked around at the crowd, then casually said, “Zhen Shan Mei, let’s just agree on this: you bear with me for the moment so we won’t lose each other again, and end up only looking at the crowd.”

What he said made so much sense, she could not reject him without appearing unreasonable.
So she let him hold her until the fireworks ended.

During the fireworks, the crowd was cheek to jowl. Afterwards, the situation didn’t improve. The Asakusa subway station was a sea of black heads. Even Xiang Zhe was flabbergasted by the crowd, and the two of them headed instead towards the Senjoji temple to wait for the crowd to disperse.

Senjoji temple’s doors were locked, but the temple precinct was bustling as ever. The streets leading to the temple were lined on both sides with stalls selling snacks and craftwork. Tourists swarmed the area, and it was impossible to get through.

“Mmmm! That sure smells good!” Shan Mei started to follow her nose.
Xiang Zhe scratched his head guiltily, “We’re on our first date, and all I do is starve you!”
Shan Mei pricked up her ears.
“Our first date?” she rolled her eyes at Xiang Zhe, “It’s our first date, and you come empty-handed?” She said with a mischievous smile.
“Of course not…” Xiang Zhe cut in quickly.
“Well!” Shan Mei put out her right hand, “Where’s my present, then?”
“It’s back at the hotel. I was afraid it would be difficult to carry it in the crowd,” he explained.
“Are you sure about that? Don’t you go back and quickly buy me something just to keep me happy…”
“Don’t you worry about that,” he said with sincerity.
Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe’s earnestness, and could not help laughing.

Xiang Zhe had a quick look around and said, “You stay here and don’t move. I’ll go get us something to stave off your hunger…”

Xiang Zhe came back with a box of yaki onigiri in hand. Shan Mei was all smiles when she saw him.
“What is it?” Xiang Zhe asked with a smile.
“How did you know it’s my favourite….?”
“Looking at how you were drooling over the smell of it earlier, anyone would have guessed!”
It was actually sheer coincidence.

In the end, she ate five of the six little balls of yaki onigiri in the box, and they went on to buy some okonomiyaki, yakimono, and nikuman, eating as they browsed. Before long, they were both full.

The two of them returned to Asakusa station after 10pm. The platform was still full of people.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, my feet are killing me! Let’s go home!” she put on a puppy-dog look.
By the look of it, the crowd would still take some time to disperse. She had been up late the previous night trying to finish a report, and it was starting to take its toll.
“And I thought you were a superwoman who would never let fatigue stop you from doing anything…” He looked at her and said gently, “Let’s just get to the main road over there and hail a taxi.” She was really looking tired now, and it pained him.
“Forget it! It’s almost impossible to hail a taxi in situations like this.”

They managed to get onto the fourth train that arrived on the platform. The two of them then switched to the Oedo Line at Kuramae station. Tokyo University was on the Oedo Line at Hongosanchome station. The train carriage was bursting at the seams, and they were packed in like sardines. They finally managed to find a refuge near the door. The train rattled and bumped its way along. A passenger lost his footing and lurched towards Shan Mei. She unconsciously pressed closer into Xiang Zhe’s embrace, then quickly pressed her hands against his chest, trying to maintain some distance, but the crowd behind them made it impossible.

She kept her head lowered, her face on fire, and regretted rushing to get on the train.

Just as she was fretting over the situation, Xiang Zhe’s arms pressed gently against her shoulders and managed to give her an inch of breathing space. He had used his large body to force some space behind him in order to maintain relief her of the contact. Even though it was only a meagre few millimetres of space, it made a huge difference to her level of comfort.
“Thank you,” She whispered to him.
“We’re almost there now. You just bear with it for a little while more,” Xiang Zhe’s gentle voice soothed, his warm breath wafted past her ear.
She nodded, her head just under his chin.

“Xue Zhang…”
“I’ll make my own way home after this. Remember to switch to the Yamanote line when you get to Shinjuku….”
“It’s already late. I should see you to your doorstep!”
“No way!” she stubbornly shook her head.
He saw the anxiety in her face, and secretly found the situation funny. Was it because she was afraid her father would see her with the “work colleagues”?
“I want to say hello to Professor!” he suppressed a laugh as he said.
He really wanted to see the expression on her face. Would it by shyness or irritation?

Shan Mei’s head was shaking like there was no tomorrow, “It’s already very late. My dad would be asleep. Besides, you’ve just come from a flight, and spent the evening walking the streets. You must be very tired. Better go back early and have a good rest!”

She tried to make it all sound so reasonable and logical, but knew she was lying through her teeth. Thankfully, he could not see her face.

“I’m not tired at all!” Xiang Zhe was all out to tease her.
“Yin Xiang Zhe! If you keep going on like this, I’m not going to take you around Tokyo tomorrow!” Shan Mei said firmly.
“Wah! You’re pretty fierce when you get angry!”
“OK, OK, I’m scared.”

Xiang Zhe had no choice but to let her have her way. There was no way in the world he was going to miss out on seeing her tomorrow.

She waited on the platform until the train had left before turning and going her way. Thank goodness he did not get off with her. Things were starting to become difficult just then on the train…..



When she woke up in the morning, papa had already gone out. The last Sunday of the month was the day papa played ball games with his friends. Shan Mei left a note on the table. She had mentioned to her father the night before that she would be taking a colleague from Seoul on a tour in Tokyo. She just couldn’t get the words out her mouth that the person was Xiang Zhe.

She and Xiang Zhe agreed to meet up at the entrance of Asakusa Station at 9.00am. She planned to bring him on a water bus cruise along Sumida River to view the panoramic scenery along the river bank. She was ten minutes earlier when she arrived at the appointed location, and surprisingly he was earlier than her.

Xiang Zhe waved his hand at her in greeting from afar. Shan Mei smilingly acknowledged, nodding her head, retrieving the sunglasses inside her bag to put it on.

“So early?” She asked Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe smiled without answering. He was eager to see her earlier and had been standing there waiting for her before 8.30am.

The first boat to depart on a Sunday was scheduled at 9.40am, noting that they were early and had some time to kill, Shan Mei lead Xiang Zhe towards the direction of Sensoji Temple. He scrutinized her face as he walked.

“What are you looking at?” She pursed her lips to ask.
“Nothing … your pair of sunglasses is very pretty.” Xiang Zhe remarked with a smile.
The sunglasses covered half her face.
“Thank you.” Shan Mei adjusted the frame of her glasses self-consciously.

The scene at the electric train last night was still fresh in her mind, she feared she would feel uncomfortable when she see him again. She had deliberately brought the sunglasses out with her. Shan Mei waited till they reached Sensoji Temple before removing the sunglasses.

Sensoji Temple appeared slightly deserted on a Sunday morning. Visitors were few and far between, forming a sharp contrast between the crowds of thousands moving heads last night. Groups of pigeons were spread all over the sky and the ground at the entrance of the temple, their chirpy squeaky sound adding life to the majestically solemn atmosphere of the temple.

“Didn’t we visit here yesterday?”
“It was too late last night, the temple door was already closed ….”

Shan Mei lead Xiang Zhe through Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), making their way straight towards the shrine of the Goddess of Mercy,

“The Goddess of Mercy here is acclaimed to be very powerful/effective. You always travel abroad, why don’t you pray for a talisman/lucky charm?” Shan Mei said.

“Ah!” Xiang Zhe scratched the back of his skull, he never really believed in such things.
“Wei, why are you in a daze?” Shan Mei urged beside him.
“Will the Goddess of Mercy and Buddha here take care of foreigners?” Xiang Zhe queried.
Shan Mei said with a grin.
“The meaning of God-mah, is naturally to protect all our lives, how will they differentiate whether we are foreigners or locals?”
It was obvious she was well satisfied with her knowledgeable analysis.
Xiang Zhe glanced at the visitor beside him who was murmuring a string of words, a pious look on his face, and asked softly.

“What should I say?”
“You just say ….”
She ‘jiliguloo’ taught him how to recite a long string of prayers. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn’t remember it whole.
 “Ai… physically, you appeared to be quite intelligent and bright, why are you so dumb?”
Shan Mei breathed out a helpless sigh.
 “Miss, you should see Buddha off all the way to the western sky, why don’t …. you help me to pray for a talisman/lucky charm?” He suggested slimily.

Shan Mei headed towards the room on the west side of the temple, adding in a love offering (money) for the scented oil, and retrieved a piece of Goddess of Mercy talisman/lucky charm, then returned to the main shrine. She clasped both her palms and ten fingers flat together with the talisman/lucky charm held at the centre of her palms, and recited the prayers before the Goddess of Mercy with great piety.

She instructed Xiang Zhe to recite the prayers with her, but Xiang Zhe’s heart was distracted, tilting his face sideways to observe her.
The pious concentration revealed on her face stirred a delightful feeling in his heart, because he knew that at this time and moment, her heart was thinking of him alone.

“Na, it’s done.”
Shan Mei placed the talisman/lucky charm into Xiang Zhe’s hand, her mouth uttering a reminder.
“Keep it safely with you ….”
This was her thoughtful gesture, he would definitely keep it safely with him. His gaze rested on her face, a wave of tenderness stirred within his heart.
Shan Mei felt shy at Xiang Zhe’s steady gaze.
 “Wei, what are you doing?”
Xiang Zhe smiled, and said.
“The year I went to study in London, my mother also went to the temple to ask for a talisman/lucky charm for me ….”
His only thought then was to quickly leave his father and the suffocating holocaust of Yin Group, he didn’t empathize/understand his mother’s loving intention.
“Your mother must love you a lot…” Shan Mei remarked enviously.

Xiang Zhe said laughingly, “Are you saying your mother doesn’t love you?”
 “Of course my mother loved me…” The rim of Shan Mei’s eyes redden, “it’s just that … just that, her love was too short-lived…”
Xiang Zhe wanted to bite off his tongue, how could he have forgotten that his lecturer’s wife had passed away long ago.
“She got sick and died when I was little…” Shan Mei turned her head away.
“I am sorry…” Xiang Zhe said apologetically.
“I don’t blame you …” Shan Mei shook her head, her eyes shimmering with tears.
Xiang Zhe consoled Shan Mei in a gentle tone. He didn’t expect to increase her heartache and silently chided himself. The more he tried to assist, the more he aggravated the situation. Shan Mei couldn’t repress her sorrow and tears fell off her cheeks.

“Sometimes I miss her so much …” Shan Mei said in a tearful voice.
“Don’t cry anymore…” Xiang Zhe patted Shan Mei’s shoulders lightly.
“Okay…” He took out a handkerchief for her to wipe away her tears.
“Don’t be sad anymore, your mother won’t wish to see you like this.” Shan Mei tearfully nodded her head.

“You have teacher who loves you so much…, you are already very blessed, don’t ever forget that.”
Xiang Zhe remarked tenderly. She looked outwardly strong, but her inner heart was fragile, she had already cried in front of him twice.
“Emm…” Shan Mei wiped away her tears as she nodded her head.

Xiang Zhe gazed at Shan Mei, lightly exhaling a breath.
“What’s the matter?” She lifted her head to glance at him.
Xiang Zhe said in frustration, “I seem to make you cry very often oh?”
Shan Mei replied hurriedly, “It’s got nothing to do with you.”

Shan Mei stared at the handkerchief in her hand which was half soaked by her tears.
“I will return to you after washing it clean.” She said.
“It doesn’t matter, I will take care of it myself.” Xiang Zhe kept the handkerchief inside the pocket of his overcoat.

Xiang Zhe leaned forward suddenly and murmured softly into Shan Mei’s ears.
“Let’s leave this place quickly, otherwise I might get beaten up…”
“Ah…” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe uncomprehendingly.

Xiang Zhe remarked, his face covered in embarrassment.
“It’s all because of you. You cried so sorrowfully just now, people are probably wondering how I have bullied you?”
Shan Mei raised her head to take a look. It was true, she saw quite a number of people pointing their fingers at the two of them. The pair quickened their steps as they left Sensoji Temple.

“There are quite a number of places in Tokyo where we can go sightseeing, where do you want to visit?” Shan Mei asked.
“As long as it’s not shopping, anywhere is fine.”
Shan Mei bloated her gills, “Your mannerism, your girlfriend will runaway in anger.”
“Most girls love to go shopping, and you are the type who feel it’s troublesome to shop…”

Xiang Zhe’s twin gaze rested on Shan Mei’s face, watching her with a smile that didn’t appear as a smile.
 “If I meet a girl I like, I will definitely accompany her to do the things she likes to do.” Xiang Zhe claimed.
“Oh!” Her pair of clearly defined, liquid huge eyes met his…, the bright and warm gleam within his eyes caused her face to blush.
“Ai, if you’d like to shop around… I shall happily go along with you.” Xiang Zhe retorted,
“Stop fooling around…” Shan Mei left Xiang Zhe behind, moving hurriedly forward.

In the short space of a day, there weren’t many places they could go in reality. Shan Mei decided to bring Xiang Zhe sightseeing around the proximity of Tokyo Bay. They hopped on the water bus, cruising downwards along Sumida River. The river played an important role in the lives of Tokyo citizens from the Edo era, passing through the baptism of time, it had not lost the appeal on people who still recalled its magnificent days. In the forty minutes cruise, the boat brought them across twelve unique bridges, each holding its own characteristics. Xiang Zhe snapped quite a number of shots along the way, only then did Shan Mei realize he had researched into photography.

They got off the boat at Hinode Pier. Hamarikyu Garden, Rikugien Garden, Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden and Koishikawa Korakuen garden were among the top four famous gardens in Odaiba, though they did not possess the spectacular crafty landscape of the Imperial Palace East Garden. The attractively alluring colours of purple and brilliant red Bougainvillea gave the garden a multicolored eye-catching décor, giving it a lively ambience. The century old oak inside the garden, traditionally simple, evoked memories and sentiments of ancient times.

“Zhen Shan Mei, give a hand and act as my model!”
Xiang Zhe didn’t give up persuading Shan Mei, in the boat a moment ago, she wouldn’t allow him to snap her pictures no matter what he said. It was not easy to catch her absorbed in admiring the panoramic view and he managed to steal a shot of her side profile when she focused her gaze at Kiyosu Bridge.
Shan Mei shook her head vigorously.
“Snap the scenery will do! Didn’t you mention you have always snap picturesque shots only?”
“You are so uncooperative!” Xiang Zhe wore a helpless look on his face.
“It’s not because I am uncooperative, it’s for your own good…., I do not want your girlfriend to misunderstand and question you relentlessly.”

Xiang Zhe smiled, perplexed.
“Wah! You girls are so narrow minded, getting jealous over such matters?”
“Of course, what type of girls would like to see her boyfriend enthusiastically taking pictures of another girl ?”
“Rest assured, your anxiety is unfounded, I don’t have a girlfriend currently….”

Shan Mei compressed her lips, glaring at Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe quirked his brows, “Don’t you believe me?”
Shan Mei shook her head with a smile.

“It’s the truth.” Xiang Zhe lifted his right hand, in a swearing gesture.
Her thoughts were conflicting, deep within her heart she believed him, but she couldn’t help remembering the pretty lady who clung intimately onto his arm in London Airport.

Unable to refuse Xiang Zhe’s torturous tactics, Shan Mei eventually let Xiang Zhe snapped a photograph of her in front of a teahouse in Odaiba.
 “You are only allowed to take one shot. No further exceptions.” She remarked.
 “Wei, would you like to have a spa?” Shan Mei asked.
Spa? The nearest hot spring from here would take at least two hours.
“Do we have sufficient time?”
“Follow me.” Shan Mei smiled prettily. She led Xiang Zhe with a grin and they hopped onto Yurikamome Line, getting off at Telecom Centre Station. After more than a minutes walk, the signboard “Oedo Onsen Monogatari” hanging on an Edo styled building appeared before his vision. This was a newly completed Hot Spring Theme Park.

Shan Mei chose a ‘Thunder God’ designed yukata (cotton kimono without lining) for Xiang Zhe, and selected an ancient lady court attendant designed peach red yukata for herself. The pair of them laughingly made fun of one another for a while. Shan Mei thought the yukata was too old fashioned, and refused to let Xiang Zhe snap a picture of her wearing the yukata. Both wore wooden sandals on their feet and flipping paper fan in their hands. Scouting in the temple streets for quite some time.

The hot spring onsen area was separated into baths for men and women. The only hot spring area opened to both sexes was the outdoor opened air area for a ‘footbath’. Visitors donned on their yukata, bathing their feet and played inside the hot spring pond water. The scenic of Japan’s Tokaido was used as the main design theme for the ‘footbath’, with Japan Bridge as the starting point, passing through Odawara, rounding across Hakoune and finally arriving at Kyoto’s Lake Biwa as the finished point. Shan Mei put one foot inside the spring water enthusiastically. Xiang Zhe placed both arms across his chest and observed idly at the side, this way of taking a spa was childish in his opinion.

“Are you truly not coming?’
Xiang Zhe shook his head.
“Then I am going sightseeing at Hakoune and Lake Biwa-loh!”
She waved towards Xiang Zhe mischievously, and told him loudly.
“Bon Voyage.” Xiang Zhe shook his hand, the playfulness in him too begin to emerge after meeting her.

He watched as she pulled up the hem of her yukata, moving with graceful steps in the hot spring water, and swaying her curvaceous figure; alluringly attractive was the only two words he could use to describe. Xiang Zhe seized the golden opportunity, picking up the camera to snap furiously. Shan Mei lifted her head and discovered his antics. She hurriedly hopped out of the pond, catching up with Xiang Zhe and aimed a few punches at him.

”Donning this is so old fashion looking, quit snapping!” She exclaimed in annoyance.
“Old fashion? You must be joking, the way you pulled up the hem of your skirt just now was so sexy! I guarantee you are able to attract a whole cart of people.”

He was speaking in perfect sincerity. Unfortunately Shan Mei wouldn’t hear of it and forced Xiang Zhe to pull up the hem of his yukata and step inside the footbath for her to snap a few shots before she was pacified.

They fooled around laughingly for a short while and when they became hungry, the duo arrived at a place named ‘Silver Guards’ which specialized in selling seafood, Tokyo Bay’s sea product. They remained there until after 2.00pm before leaving the hot spring area.

Odaiba Seaside Park was the last stop in Shan Mei’s planned itinerary. The blue sky and turquoise sea coupled with the clean white beach was cheerfully pleasing to the sight.

Xiang Zhe pointed towards the big white coloured bridge at the far distant and asked,
 “Is that the Rainbow Bridge we have seen previously?”
She nodded smilingly.
“It feels very different viewing it at night right? During the night, the 444 lamps on the bridge are all lighted up, the whole bridge illuminated like a crystal palace, romantically eye-catching; whereas during the day…”
“During the day it is like a demure lady of the genteel…” Xiang Zhe continued from her cue. She nodded her head in agreement.
They found a chair to sit on. Pigeons in groups of three and five flew above their heads from time to time. Numerous people were playing in the water at the forefront of the beach, and some were pushing their sailing boats out into the sea.
“The first day I arrived in Tokyo, I came here alone in a worshipping kind of mood …”
Shan Mei gazed ahead, a smile deep inside her eyes.

She turned her head round to look at Xiang Zhe, remarking with a laugh.
 “Yes, worship, from the time I applied for a job transfer to Tokyo with the company, I borrowed a lot of videotapes and started learning Japanese. The first videotape I borrowed was “Love Generation” played by Takuya Kimura and Takako Matsu. This bridge was in the background for a number of scenes in the movie. That was how I came to fall in love with this bridge. I find it difficult to forget this beautiful white bridge …., even now, I still come here very often, I am here when I am in a good mood, and when I am in a bad mood, the happy things I share with the blue sky and the white clouds; and trouble the enormous sea to take the sad and sorrowful things away with it…, that’s all…”

She picked up a pebble from the ground, throwing it hard towards the centre of the sea.
She stood on the beach, with her long hair flying, and her white skirt dancing with the wind; light, swaying and graceful, like a stalk of orchid budding out from the valley. Xiang Zhe pressed at the shutter button quietly….
They strolled companionably along the beach until they reached the Statue of Liberty.
“I am going to buy something to eat.” Xiang Zhe walked away.
After a while, she saw him walking towards her from the other end holding an ice cream on each hand. Shan Mei licked a mouthful of ice cream, and retorted with a grin.
“Hmm, haven’t eaten this for a long time, Xue Zhang, you are really fabulous, this is a famous item here!”
“Famous item?”
“It means special product-lah!”
“That greedy look on you face is no different from that of a child.” He ridiculed her.
“If your subordinates see you like this, it’ll be a wonder if they were not shocked!”
“You weren’t shocked by me.” She wasn’t really bothered about it.
“That’s because when we first met, you gave me the impression of a school girl…, putting on a stern face to reject a kind hearted man’s good intention, creating a distance of a thousand miles…”
Xiang Zhe stroked at his forehead with a grin.

“Who ask you to appear suddenly at midnight to frighten people!” Shan Mei pursed her lips.
“Frighten people? I was trying to help people…” Xiang Zhe said piteously.
“Ai, the feeling of being so thoroughly rejected, was really… memorable and every tiny detail is still fresh in my heart. Aye, that was the first time ever I got rejected by a girl in my entire life…”
Xiang Zhe lamented.

“Really? Then I am truly honoured.” Shan Mei chuckled and made a face at Xiang Zhe.
“You, the great General Manager likes to carry a grudge, and keeps bringing up subjects which happened eight hundred years back, I have already apologized! … However, this is a lesson for you, next time, don’t simply attempt to pick up strange girls in the streets.”
“Picking up strange girls?” Xiang Zhe protested, “I have never picked up strange girls…”
“Is that so? What about me?” She pointed at herself with a smile.
“Wei, we have met and spoken at the lift, it can’t be counted as a stranger.”
“You took that into account? You are too loose in your measurements.”
“Alright, alright, I can’t win you in this battle of speech!” Xiang Zhe surrendered.

Shan Mei smiled smugly.

“Actually, that was the first time I offered a lift to someone I am unfamiliar with. Watching you walking alone in the street so late into the night that day, and wearing so little, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, stopping the car recklessly to call you, I never thought my nose would be covered with a speck of dust as a reward…., Ay, what do you say, will you consider that as ‘not getting to know each other without a fight’?”
Shan Mei rolled her eyes at Xiang Zhe.

“Who is fighting with you?”
Xiang Zhe smiled tenderly, not offering a reply. Xiang Zhe swirled his head round to gaze towards the boundless ocean ahead, and asked thoughtfully.
“If we didn’t go through that encounter that night, I don’t know if we’d still be standing here together today?”
She jolted slightly, and smiled without responding.
The coming and going, togetherness and separation in one’s life, was traceable as if it was destined to be so. If she hadn’t replaced a colleague and gone to Seoul in the beginning, perhaps they would not have met; if it wasn’t because of the little unhappy episode on that fateful night, perhaps what now existed between both of them would only be two parallel lines, and the curious friendship they now enjoy… perhaps … might not exist.

“Zhen Shan Mei…”
“That…” Xiang Zhe hesitated.
“What’s the matter?”
“Umm… nothing.”
Xianh Zhe was frustrated with himself, why was he so unsettled today? As if afraid of losing something he had gained. Shan Mei threw Xiang Zhe a glance, he had wanted to speak and halted halfway, it was obvious there was something in his heart. He didn’t want to say it, and she didn’t feel nice asking. Both of them leaned on the railing, and admired the sea view in silence, enjoying the sea wind, and reveling in Tokyo Bay’s warm summer sunlight, until the last ray of the setting sun disappeared at the other end of the coastline…

“Xue Zhang, it’s time to leave, or you might miss your flight.”

The last flight back to Seoul departs at 7.30pm, they arrived at Tokyo Station at 5.30pm. The ride on an electric train from there to Narita Airport would take approximately an hour.

“Alright, I have escorted you the VIP guest back here safely…., how about it, would you consider me a competent tour guide?”
Shan Mei smiled and placed the ticket she had bought unto Xiang Zhe’s hand.
Xiang Zhe said with a frown.
“How can I let you purchase the ticket too?”
She had insisted on paying the bill for lunch as well. Shan Mei merely smiled.
“Are you really treating me as a guest? Ai, so formal.”
He deliberately pretended to be disappointed, sighing heavily. Shan Mei rounded her huge eyes.
“Wah, it’s so difficult to please you, I used all my intellectual resources, and tried with all my might to show you General Manager Yin the best hospitality, as a result you complained that I am too hospitable…”
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe leaned his body closer and asked with a laugh.
“Have you really used all your intellectual resources and tried with all your might to show me the best hospitality?”
Shan Mei ignored him, swirling round to walk towards the waiting room. The train would only be arriving in another 15 minutes.

Xiang Zhe took out a pastel pink coloured little box from his baggage, its top was secured with a beautiful butterfly bow.
“This mah… is the present for our first date.”
Shan Mei blushed, “I… was just joking with you ….”
He gazed at her with a smile, a heart stopping tenderness in his eyes.
Shan Mei lowered her head, murmuring in an undertone, “I don’t want …”
Xiang Zhe smiled slightly, “Really, am I not allowed to joke a little…”
He placed the gift box unto her hand and said.
“This is your belated birthday present, it is not something valuable…”
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe in embarrassment.
“Open it up and see…, I hope you’ll like it…”
He gazed at her longingly, he had always imagine in his mind her expression when she saw the present.
Shan Mei untied the ribbon, opening the box.

“When did you buy this?” when she saw the gift inside the box, the delighted smile was visible even to her brows and eyes. Xiang Zhe felt very happy.

“I bought it when I went to London for a meeting last week …, do you like it?”
“Hmm…, I like it, thank you.”
She gazed at him, touched by his thoughtfulness. She never dreamed he would remember the porcelain rendition of the 4 little rabbits she didn’t get to buy in London.
 “You still remember yeah?”
Xiang Zhe didn’t reply, merely gazed at her intently without blinking his eyes. He couldn’t forget a single thing about her.
His gaze made her bent her head down with embarrassment. He glanced at the slight colour at both her cheeks and the shyness in her eyes, a thick smile spreading across the corner of his lips.
The two of them proceeded towards the entrance of the platform.
“Zhen Shan Mei, can I visit here often …. to see you?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei was totally unprepared for Xiang Zhe’s direct approach and froze in surprise. She stared at Xiang Zhe open mouthed. What had he said yah
Shan Mei smiled to conceal her uneasiness.

“The master accepts you into his faculty, but working towards perfecting the art is up to the individual. The next time you are in Tokyo, you’d have to self-serve. I already can’t complete the work in hand, where do you think I’d find the time to entertain you …. I thought General Manager Yin Xiang Zhe is so busy he needs to be at two places in one time, didn’t know you can still find the time to scout the streets of Tokyo every two to three days.” Shan Mei’s speech resembled a strand of firecrackers; ‘pilipala’ she babbled a long string of words.

Xiang Zhe remarked with a slight smile, “Zhen Shan Mei, you are so calculative.”
Shan Mei bit on her lips and smiled.

“The places we have visited today, occupies how many percent of the total area in Tokyo?”
Xiang Zhe asked.
“Not more than 4% I think. Why do you ask?”
In actual fact, Shan Mei didn’t have much of an idea, she just anyhow estimated and blurted it out.
”I am just calculating how many times more I’d need to be in Tokyo, if I can’t find a good reason, I fear you’d hustle me back.”
Shan Mei was tickled into laughter, “The way you describe me is as if I am very unfriendly.”
“You have never taken the initiative to invite me to Tokyo,… you are so much more warmer towards Allen Craig!” Xiang Zhe remarked jealously.
“Is that so?” Shan Mei hid a smile, he appeared to carry a grudge over her previous invitation to Allen Craig for a meal of Shabu Shabu. This was the second time he had complained to her about that.
“Hmm…” she threw him a glance, “I thought someone claimed righteously over the phone yesterday that he came to Tokyo because of my invitation ….”

“Oh?” Xiang Zhe grinned widely.
“Then you are admitting… you have really invited me to watch the fireworks festival at Sumida the last time?”
“……” Shan Mei blushed instantly.

There was an announcement on the platform that the train to Narita Airport would be arriving in the station soon.
“Go in quickly!” She pushed at him.
Xiang Zhe nodded his head.
“I am leaving.” Xiang Zhe gave Shan Mei a searching look.
“I will be visiting my clients in South East Asia next week, I won’t be in Seoul the whole week.”
A trace of embarrassment was reflected on Xiang Zhe’s face. It was his wish that she be aware of his whereabouts.
“Hmm.” Shan Mei bit on her lip and nodded.
“I shall call you?”
Shan Mei’s face turned hot, “Don’t disturb me at work.” She said.
“I shall write to you?”
“I am not free to read.” She deliberately poured cold water over him.

Gazing at his figure gradually walking further away, a surge of indefinable emotion, that of a reluctance to part with him, stirred within her heart. This was an emotion similar to the one she felt in Bangkok Airport.
“Xue Zhang…” Shan Mei shouted and halted Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe turned his body around abruptly, gazing at her with deep yearning.

She waved her hand at him, a shy smile on her lips. Xiang Zhe smiled with delight. She was bidding him goodbye, did she bid him goodbye in order to meet with him again the next time? It must definitely be so…

“I am coming to see you again.” Xiang Zhe exclaimed loudly.
Shan Mei nodded her head.
“You have agreed?”
She responded with a vibrant smile on her entire face.
They gazed at one another, some kind of inevitable force seemed to hang between them.



“I will see you again.” Xiang Zhe said loudly.
Shan Mei nodded her head.
She answered him with a brilliant smile.

It’s hard to have everyone in the office at the same time, but starting tomorrow, Peter will be taking a two weeks vacation to visit his relatives in the US which is why there is a special departmental meeting today to brief everyone on their impending tasks. As a result, no one dare miss the meeting.

Each year, around July and August are the times when most investment consultants will take time off, it is considered slow season for the investment firms since there are not many business deals, which is why they will schedule their vacations at that time. Shan Mei, who has been busy from the beginning of the year till now is unaccustomed to having the fast pace schedule reduce so suddenly.

After the meeting, Shan Mei sat at her desk, vaguely leafing through some documents. Today, her mind seemed to be else where and had trouble concentrating on her work, like just now at the meeting, she only heard seventy or eighty percent of Peter’s instructions.

She didn’t sleep well last night, and it was all because of that horrid Yun Hyun Chul.
Just before she went to bed last night, the news reported a breaking headline about a plane en-route to Bangkok that skidded off the runway and collided into another plane that was on the tarmac as it was landing in the stormy weather. The front part of the plane burst into flames and looked like some passengers were hurt badly. Worried that Hyun Chul might be on the plane, she sat in front of the television waiting for the airline to announce the names of the injured passengers. It was not until midnight when she was finally sure he was not on the list did she go to sleep in peace.

She only knew he would be on a business trip to East Asia that week, with no knowledge of his schedule or the countries he was visiting. Yesterday and the day before, she had received two separate postcards that he had sent via a courier, the first one was sent from Taipei, the second one came from Singapore. Neither postcard had anything written on it except for a drawing of a smiley face and the letter “Y” depicting the “Yun” name. The previous smiley face wore a pair of sunglasses; the latter one carried an umbrella which she guessed it meant, it was sunny in Taipei and raining in Singapore.

Shan Mei stared at the postcards not knowing whether to laugh or be angry. He couldn’t be doing this because she told him not to disturb her at work and or have time to read his letters causing him to send postcards to her instead!

Shan Mei had actually wished Hyun Chul would give her a call to notify that he was safe but was disappointed after a whole day of hoping with no call.
“Wasting money on couriering un-important things like postcards and can’t even make a phone call to inform on vital information ….” Shan Mei grumbled in her mind and thought, she’s not anyone special to him; he definitely does not have the responsibility to report his whereabouts to her.

Shan Mei’s heart felt very confused.
She was very perplexed that a man whom she had no special ties to could affect her so deeply. Those words, “I will come see you again”, could have been uttered as a joke but instead, she cherished every single word in her heart.

She made a definite decision never to think of that person again.
Night time, a senior, Kim Won Hung from another investment bank asked her out to dinner. Since her dad had a class that night and with no one at home, she agreed.
Arriving at the restaurant, she found Kim Won Hung had also invited another person name Lau Zheng Ming, and only then, did she figure out Kim Won Hung was actually trying to introduce a boyfriend to her.

Haven’t even conversed two sentences before her cell phone rang, she looked and an unknown phone number appeared.
“Hello, this is Zhen Shan Mei.”
“It’s me…”
Her heart skipped a beat, it’s that person that she misses and angry at the same time!
She actually planned to kick him out of her heart but here he comes bothering her again.

After addressing the two people at the table, Shan Mei got up and walked to the restaurant’s lobby.
“Sorry, can I ask who you are?” She pretended not to recognize his voice.
Hyun Chul was stunned for a second, “I am Yun Hyun Chul.” He answered.
“Ah, Executive Director Yun …. , sorry, couldn’t recognize your voice for a second.” She purposely answered in a cold manner.
She called him Executive Director Yun! Hyun Chul unconsciously wrinkled his brows.

“Miss, what’s wrong? Reprimanded by the boss?”
“Is that right? You don’t sound too happy.”
“You don’t need to act smart over there.” Shan Mei answered exasperatedly.
“Can you speak freely?”
“Uh…” She wanted to end the call but instead answered: “I’m off work now.”
Off work, that means she has time to chat, a smile floated up the corners of Hyun Chul’s mouth. When he called her during office hours, she would answer in two or three words and quickly end the call.
“These past few days …. how have you been?” Hyun Chul asked.
“Very well…” Shan Mei lied.
In actuality, she didn’t feel good at all.

“How about you? Had fun meeting with clients!” She asked
Hyun Chul had mentioned before that not only does he keep in constant phone contacts with clients, each quarter; he would also schedule some time to visit each client to maintain good client relations.
“Visited three countries in four days, met with ten to twenty or so clients, had six business related dinners, participated in two golf games, you tell me if that’s good or not?”
For the past few days, he has gotten up early in the morning to join his clients in golf games, have breakfast, then it’s off to meet with clients one after another; treat clients for lunch, continue his visiting schedule in the afternoon and even have dinners scheduled for business. After all that, it’s a rush to board the last plane to fly to his next stop, everyday was the same with no one knowing how exhausting it can be. He wanted to call her in the early mornings but worried he might disturb her beauty sleep, and during the day, she told him not to bother her at work, and when it was late at night, he was concerned about disturbing her sleep, so he could only send her postcards to inform her of his whereabouts. It was so hard to have nothing scheduled for the evening so he could chat with her.

“Eat drink and have fun, sound entertaining!” said Shan Mei.
Hyun Chul could hear the annoyance right away.
“Oh, I detect gunpowder residue, you wouldn’t happen to be angry with me right?”
“Keep dreaming …” Shan Mei laughed, this person has very keen senses! “What are you doing right now?”
“A colleague brought me to this place for a thai-style massage …”
So he’s definitely in Bangkok, wonder if he was on board on that flight from last night; she didn’t want to ask in case he sees through her heart.
“Must be very soothing!”
The last time Michiko was in Thailand for a vacation and had a thai-style massage, she couldn’t stop praising how good it was when she returned.
“Very relaxing.”
“Are there beautiful women around to answer your beck and call?” Shan Mei had asked nonchalantly.
Hyun Chul glanced at the masseuse beside him, ”I wouldn’t say she’s a beautiful lady, but …”
“But what?”
“The body is definitely ichi-ban …” Hyun Chul answered happily.
An image of a voluptuous woman giving Hyun Chul a massage appeared in Shan Mei’s mind, causing a moment of infuriation.
“Then… I don’t want to disturb your relaxation.” She cut the line.
She was worried sick about him last night and here he is enjoying a massage from a gorgeous woman.

She didn’t get two steps away before Hyun Chul called again.
“Why did you end my call so quickly?” Hyun Chul sounded full of delight.
“When did I hastily end your call? She denied.
“You really didn’t?”
“Definitely not.”
“That’s good, I thought you were …. jealous.”
“ … “
It’s only a massage, no big deal, she was certainly too emotional just now, *sigh, that is one weakness she hasn’t been able to change.
“Zhen Shan Mei … “
“My masseuse is actually a man … “
“ … “
If Yun Hyun Chul were next to her right now, she would give him a good smacking.

“What are you doing?”
Now it was his turn to interrogate her.
“Having dinner at Roppongi with friends.”
“Are they … male or female friends?”
Shan Mei glanced at the two people at the table, “they are male friends.” She answered cheekily, besides she wasn’t deceiving him.
On the other end of the phone, Hyun Chul didn’t utter a sound.
Shan Mei was perturbed by Hyun Chul’s silence.

“Where’s the next stop?” Shan Mei asked tenderly to break the silence.
Her tenderness brought happiness back to Hyun Chul’s heart.
“I will be boarding a plane to Hong Kong in about ten minutes.”
“When will you return to Seoul?”
“Maybe Friday or Saturday, … it’s not set yet.”
She must be thinking of him? A faint smile tugged at Hyun Chul’s lips.

“Senior, I have to go now.”
Kim Won Hung had waved at her several times already.
“Okay, don’t stay out too late and be careful.” Hyun Chul couldn’t help reminding Shan Mei.
“You are just like my dad, so long winded.” Shan Mei giggled, “Don’t worry, if it gets late, someone will escort me home.”
“Uh, you …. are really having dinner with some male friends?
“Yup! You have a problem with that?” Shan Mei cheekily questioned back.
“Since when do I have the right to voice my opinion, I’m not even your boyfriend.” Hyun Chul answered enviously.
“That is correct.”
Hearing Hyun Chul’s jealousy, Shan Mei felt a sudden surge of happiness.

“I really have to go now.” said Shan Mei
“Hold on a second … ” Hyun Chul stopped Shan Mei, “Are you free this weekend?”
“I … want to see you.”
Hyun Chul’s directness took Shan Mei by surprise, she blushed bright red and her heart started beating furiously.
“Shan Mei, … Shan Mei” not hearing a response concerned Hyun Chul that his straightforwardness had scared her.
“Are you there?”
Shan Mei mumbled an acknowledgement: “uh …”
“I have fallen for you….”
“ ... “
“Last time at Odaiba Seaside Park, I wanted to express my feelings to you but couldn’t gather enough courage.”
“ … “
“Shan Mei, …. “
“ … “
“Zhen Shan Mei, … couldn’t you at least say something!”
The fact that he couldn’t see her face or hear a response from her made him anxious to death.
“You scared me to the point where my heart almost stopped, ... “ she replied.
She wasn’t prepared for his sudden frank candor.
“If you don’t say something, it will be my turn for my heart to stop … “
“You didn’t say it last time, but today …… why decide to tell me now?” Shan Mei asked in a small voice.
“I worry that if I don’t say it today, I might regret it forever … “ For no apparent reason, Hyun Chul felt a sudden surge of jealousy at the guy who could accompany Shan Mei home.
“ …… “
“You still haven’t told me if you are free on Saturday?”
“No, I am …. busy that day.”
“Can’t you reschedule?”
“No, this was scheduled way in advance.”
“Oh, you are really that popular?” Hyun Chul sullenly asked.
“Now you know, if you want to meet me, you need to arrange it three months in advance … “
“Hmmm … what about Sunday?” Hyun Chul persisted.
“Senior … wouldn’t it be better if you stayed in Seoul to rest a few days? …. Besides, you need to give me time to really consider … “
“Afraid to make a decision that you will regret for the rest of your life?” Hyun Chul’s laughter transmitted through the earpiece.
Shan Mei chuckled, her heart felt very sweet for he remembered her very words.
“Yes.” Shan Mei answered.
“How long will it take you to consider?”
“Don’t know … !”
“Okay then! I will wait for you.” said Hyun Chul in a powerless manner.

Time passed through the silence.
 “Sigh**, I wish the person accompanying you home tonight would be me …” Hyun Chul sighed loudly.
“You’re crazy!” Shan Mei giggled, “I have to go, my friends are waiting for me to have dinner.”
Shan Mei carried a faint smile on her lips as she ended the call.

He is a man that can flutter the heart, she can’t deny her feelings for him but for him to be so frank about his feelings, she had a problem absorbing that, and besides she’s a girl! Hmpf! She will just have to make him wait ten days to half a month before giving her answer.
That night, Shan Mei declined Lau Zheng Ming’s offer to escort her home because she knew in her heart that it could not embrace anyone else.

Saturday, the sun shining brightly.
The kids at the community center had signed up to be in a rally race and Shan Mei had agreed early on to cheer for them.
“What time in the afternoon will the race end?”
Gui Cheng asked Shan Mei over lunch.
“The award ceremony should be around 4pm, Dad, something up?”
Gui Cheng nodded his head, “Miss Zhen Shan Mei, can old dad have the pleasure of having dinner with you tonight? I’m afraid the two of us haven’t gone out in a while and had a good dinner together.
“Okay!” Shan Mei replied delightfully.
“We will have french cuisine at Kumo in Ginza.” said Gui Cheng
“Kumo?” Shan Mei stuck out her tongue.
Kumo is the most high-class french restaurant in Tokyo, she has only been there twice and it was for business dinners with clients.
“Dad, you don’t need to spend so much!”
“You just need to show up, no need to worry, you don’t need to foot the bill.”
Shan Mei looked at her dad suspiciously.
“Dad, …. you better not be introducing potential boyfriends to me again? I won’t go ….”
Gui Cheng almost double over in laughter when he heard this.
“I guarantee it’s not.”

“Dress nicely tonight!” Gui Cheng reminded his daughter as she left the house.
“I know, I know, don’t worry, I won’t wear this outfit.”
Shan Mei pointed to her denim jeans.

After the race ended, Shan Mei went to the salon to get her hair done and returned home to change her clothes, before taking a taxi to Ginza. She and her dad had agreed to meet at seven, since Gui Cheng had a conference to attend that day and would meet her at the restaurant afterwards.

There was traffic on the road, Shan Mei finally reached the restaurant at a quarter after seven.
Entering the restaurant, Shan Mei was about to ask the hostess about the table reservation when she spotted a familiar body.

Shan Mei cocked her head and was taken aback.
“You … you… what are you doing here?” She was tongue tied.
In front of her eyes was not just anyone, it was that Yun Hyun Chul who should be in Seoul.
 “You came…” Hyun Chul stared at Shan Mei with a big smile on his face.
She wore a beige sleeveless dress with a matching cardigan and looked wonderfully cute.

Shan Mei blushed bright red from Hyun Chul’s stare, tugged at his sleeve and asked: “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting to have dinner with you!” Hyun Chul laughed.
Looking at Hyun Chul’s sneaky expression, Shan Mei understood that her dad had join hands with him to deceive her.
“Didn’t I tell you not to come to Tokyo? Why did you get my dad into this?” Shan Mei questioned in a piqued manner.
“Don’t get mad,” Hyun Chul smiled, “Let’s go in first, Professor is waiting inside! If you are angry with me, I will take full responsibility for my actions, I guarantee it.”
Shan Mei twitch her lips and followed Hyun Chul into the restaurant.
“Little one, you are here….”
“Dad … “ Shan Mei whispered into her dad’s ear, “what is he doing here?” She stared at Hyun Chul as she asked.
Hyun Chul smiled with embarrassment.
Gui Cheng patted his daughter’s hand and said: “Hyun Chul called me yesterday and mentioned he would be in Tokyo for business, and wished to have dinner with us, to thank you for helping him in Seoul, he was afraid you wouldn’t agree, so he asked me, this old professor to arrange it.”
Business in Tokyo? It’s a miracle he could make that up.
“Senior is really too polite!” She pretended to be nice, he’s not the only one who can act.

Shan Mei’s anger dissipated in five minutes, in her heart, she couldn’t deny she was really happy to see him.
Hyun Chul was glowing as he was smiling and joking with her dad, he didn’t look like he had just returned from a long trip.
The dinner probably made a big dent in Hyun Chul’s billet because he ordered all the nice dishes, Shan Mei tried to stop him and finally relented to let him go for it.
Hyun Chul ordered a bottle of 1952 Bordeaux, Gui Cheng was in high spirits and promptly had two glasses.
“Dad, don’t drink so much!” Shan Mei reproached her father.
Earlier in the year, Gui Cheng had fainted on campus, the doctor ordered him to control his wine intake.
“Good girl, please spare me tonight … Hyun Chul, this child of mine is always on my case from day to night, the person who will marry her for a wife is definitely going to be sorry.” Gui Cheng openly teased his daughter.
“It does look really bad!” Hyun Chul smiled as he collaborated with Gui Cheng.
“You don’t have to worry about that.” Shan Mei winked at Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul was delighted to tell about his recent trip to Southeast Asia. Gui Cheng and Hyun Chul were happy to swapped opinions about their thoughts especially with such good wine, the whole dinner was very enjoyable, almost like a family gathering, the only thing that made Shan Mei uncomfortable was Hyun Chul’s intentional or unintentional stares at her which made her stare at her food half the time.

“Hyun Chul, you have picked the right restaurant tonight, …. Shan Mei loves to eat french food.” said Gui Cheng.
“Really? I have a friend who likes to have french food too, like truffles, foe-gras, live oysters, lobsters … “ Hyun Chul look intently at Shan Mei with special meaning behind his words.
Shan Mei tried to cover her smile as she stole a glance at Hyun Chul and when their eyes met, two red clouds floated onto her face.
Hyun Chul’s heart constricted a second while with the knife and fork in hand paused in mid-air, as he stared dumbly at Shan Mei.

Gui Cheng stared quietly at the two of them.
The dinner ended a little after nine, Hyun Chul called a taxi to send both father and daughter home, he actually wanted to personally escort them back but Gui Cheng declined knowing it would take more than an hour for the whole trip.
“Why don’t you go back and rest!” said Gui Cheng.

Gui Cheng gaped at Shan Mei once they boarded the taxi.
“Dad, what’s wrong with you?” Shan Mei mumbled.
“Me? Shouldn’t I be asking you this?”
“What are you hiding from your old dad?
“Me, … nothing?” Shan Mei answered apprehensively.
“Hyun Chul …. is he trying to woo you?”
Shan Mei couldn’t help blushing bright red and hastily replied: “You … don’t speak nonsense.”
“I’m talking nonsense? It’s not like old dad here has never fallen in love, the way that kid looks at you, it’s just like when I was trying to court your mother.”
“Oyi, it’s couldn’t be …” Shan Mei bowed her head, staring intently at her purse strap.
Gui Cheng glanced at his daughter and said: “This kid, Hyun Chul is a fine boy, mature, also ambitious, and the hardest thing to believe is, he doesn’t have an ounce of that rich people attitude.”
That night, she found out Hyun Chul’s father, Yun Zheng Hao is the CEO of Wen Rong Corporation.



From afar, Shan Mei could see Hyun Chul standing at the entrance. He really was there …. , a smile floated up to the corners of Shan Mei’s mouth. She glanced at her watch and an embarrassed look appeared on her face, she was an hour late.

Last night, before getting into the taxi, Hyun Chul had given her a note, the writing looked squiggly, it appeared to be written in a hastily manner, he asked to meet her at Shinjuku Gyoen.

Written in the note was:
Tomorrow morning at nine o’clock, I will be waiting for you at Shinjuku; I’m not leaving until I see you.

When she saw the note, she didn’t know whether to be angry or happy. Not leave until she appears? It looks like she absolutely has to show up, this person is certainly possessive. She had specifically told him not to come to Tokyo, and he suddenly appears in front of her, like the last time with the fireworks at Sumida, and again this time…., he better not think she is that amicable, she will not go see him tomorrow, … why not let him wait till the sun goes down, see if that will make him return to Seoul!

Shan Mei chuckled and stuck the note in her diary.
Late that night, Shan Mei tossed and turned, not able to sleep.
What’s wrong, she thought to herself that she has fallen in love with him.
That night at the restaurant when she saw him, she was mad at him at first but it was not long before an undeniable happiness welled up in her heart.
At what time did she fall for him, she herself did not know. She only knew she has not known him long but was attracted to his hidden, yet distinctive aura and his cool self-confidence.

The last time when she ran into him with that beautiful young lady for a late night outing in London, she felt scared and ashamed at the sudden surge of jealousy in her heart. She secretly celebrated when their business trip came to an end, from there, they could go their separate ways and everything would go back to their status-quo, he would become a memory of an acquaintance that she encountered on her trip.

After returning to Tokyo, he called several times, she purposely gave him the cold shoulder to protect her fluttering heart and only after a long period of time did her heart calm down. But she could not stop herself from noticing all the news that related to him, she told herself that they were friends. She finally worked up enough courage to call him after she received the flowers that he sent. The other night, they chatted away and she felt very happy to be able to face her own feelings honesty about him, she wanted to preserve their platonic relationship. She could never have imagined that Hyun Chul was her dad’s student, and never thought the trip to Karuizawa could change the two’s relationship. His smile, his tenderness once again fluttered her heart. That night, faced with that piece of white napkin made it hard to sleep, that unfathomable tenderness in his eyes caused turbulence in her heart.
Zhen Shan Mei, that doesn’t mean a thing, it was just his way of expressing his considerate thoughtfulness, stop this crazy thinking as she told herself. But she had always felt his eyes were forever following her, she felt ecstatic in her heart and a little fearful at the same time.

From the day he traveled from Seoul to Tokyo to see the Sumida Fireworks Festival, from Tokyo to her living room, the attraction of seeing him there had made her feelings on edge. The night before when he gave her a call from far away Bangkok, and told her he had fallen for her, she practically smiled all the way home, her dad even teased her, asking what good news she had encountered.

She still could not figure out, an extraordinary person like him, a bright shining star in the business world, and born from a well-known family, would fall for the likes of her? She had never thought of herself as possessing any unique qualities. Sure, she graduated from a well-known school, grew up in a decent environment, but the people around him that possess these same qualities were numerous. Why would he indulge her when she had treated him so badly the first time they met and always bickered with him? A few times, he had mentioned that she was very fierce! Remembering that, Shan Mei couldn’t help but laugh.

He …. said he liked her, was that real? Tomorrow, should she go see him?
She couldn’t sleep, twisting and turning the whole night. She remained undecided in the morning, and the seconds ticked by in her hesitation.
Shan Mei eventually arrived at Hyun Chul’s meeting place, she didn’t have the heart to let him just wait, she couldn’t deny her heart’s feelings, she wanted to see him.
Instead of three steps, Hyun Chul took two steps to quickly meet Shan Mei.

“Morning.” Hyun Chul’s face wore a big sunshine smile.
“Sorry. I overslept.”
That was a really bad excuse as Shan Mei thought to herself, the faint smile at the corners of her mouth quick disappeared into embarrassment.
“Oh, must have slept well last night?” Hyun Chul laughingly inquired.
“Oyi.” Shan Mei nodded her head self-consciously.
“Today’s weather is pretty nice.” Hyun Chul spoke about the weather but his attention was focused on Shan Mei’s face.
“Ayi.” Shan Mei slanted her eyes downward.

The two followed a pathway planted with ancient sky high trees while Shan Mei followed quietly behind Hyun Chul.
Hyun Chul was a little unnerved by Shan Mei’s silence.
Several times, Hyun Chul had slowed his pace to let Shan Mei catch up so she could walk beside him but instead, she kept a three-step distance behind him.

Hyun Chul finally couldn’t stand it; he stopped and turned to face Shan Mei.
Shan Mei lifted her head and looked at him.
“Are you still mad at me for last night’s incident?” Hyun Chul inquired.
He seemed to really care what she thought …; maybe she shouldn’t have made him wait a whole hour.
“ … “
She had already pushed last night’s incident to the back of her mind, but upon seeing Hyun Chul’s solemn expression, she couldn’t help thinking of teasing him for a while.
 “Didn’t I tell you not to come this week?” Shan Mei asked.

Does this answer mean she was still mad at him? Hyun Chul looked intently at Shan Mei to gauge her mood; her tone was neither angry nor friendly which really confused Hyun Chul.

“I … wanted to see you, I ….couldn’t wait a moment longer….” Hyun Chul whispered ever so softly.
He knew she might be furious about his frankness but he couldn’t hold back his feelings he had for her any more.

Shan Mei’s lips twitched slightly at the thought that her heart had understood Hyun Chul’s feeling long ago, but as to how to deal with his straightforwardness has perplexed her, she just stood there blushing profusely.
“I...”, Hyun Chul scratched his head with a serious expression on his face.
This was his first time saying these kinds of words to a girl.

Shan Mei bowed her head staring at her own shoes.
“Did you … not finish considering?” Hyun Chul asked.
Shan Mei pressed her lips together and shook her head but also nodded her head.
Staring at Shan Mei’s blush, Hyun Chul’s heart settled a little.
Yun Hyun Chul, you are such a fool! Hyun Chul scolded himself.
In his haste, he forgot she was a person who embarrass easily, he was stupid enough to ask in front of her face give him a reply coming from her own mouth. Suddenly, Hyun Chul thought up a scheme but did not have full confidence in it and only hoped that she would not be furious with him later.

“Does this put you in a bad position?” Hyun Chul frowned as he inquired.
Shan Mei only bowed her head not saying a word
Hyun Chul let out a heavy sigh and said: “Then, let’s have God help make the decision for us!”
Shan Mei raised her head looking at Hyun Chul; she didn’t understand the meaning of his words.
From his pant pocket, Hyun Chul took out a silver coin, “This coin, one side has an image of a dragon, the other side has a number, if I guess right, that means you agree, if I guess wrong, I will not bother you, okay?” said Hyun Chul.
Before Shan Mei could answer, Hyun Chul had already tossed the coin into the air and caught it in his right hand.
“I will leave destiny to God …” Hyun Chul glanced at Shan Mei and said: “I guess this side is … the dragon image …” he opened his palm after making his guess.

Hyun Chul took one look at the coin in his palm and directed his gaze at Shan Mei, after a second, he stuffed his hands into his long pant pockets without saying a word.

“Walk with me.” Hyun Chul said.
Without waiting for Shan Mei to reply, he started walking ahead by himself.
All of a sudden, Shan Mei’s heart felt cold.
Hyun Chul was walking further away.
Seeing his backside, Shan Mei was so upset to the point that tears were about to fall, how can this person use a coin to gamble the fate of the relationship?
With redness in her eyes, she ran up to Hyun Chul.
“Yun Hyun Chul, destiny is controlled in the palm of oneself, not … not by a coin to decide …” she reproached.
Without fully understanding the situation, Hyun Chul had already captured Shan Mei’s right hand tightly in his big hand.
Stunned for a second, she raised her eyes to look at Hyun Chul, he had a big warm loving smile on his lips.
At that moment, she finally understood that he had just pulled a fast one on her.
Shan Mei was so furious that she wanted to fling off Hyun Chul’s hand but was in vain.
“Yun Hyun Chul, you are so …. horrid.” she spoke with such infuriation that her face was bright red.

Hyun Chul smiled seeing that his plan had worked, “If I didn’t do that, I could have waited till the sun set and you still wouldn’t have given me an answer, …” Hyun Chul laughed heartily.
Hyun Chul released Shan Mei and looked at her with deep tenderness, “You wouldn’t let me go, right?”
“Who said so?”
Shan Mei turned away.
“Then why did you chase up to me?”
“I .. I wanted to see you ..” Shan Mei blurted without thinking, still fuming, she smacked Hyun Chul.
The two of them came to a fish pond in the garden and sat down on a concert bench, Hyun Chul bought a bag of fish feed for Shan Mei to feed the fish.
“Senior …”
“Ayi …?”
“That coin … what did you get? It was … the dragon, right?” She stared intently at him.
“Didn’t you just say that destiny shouldn’t be decided by a coin?”
“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded her head.
“You …want to see?”
“No … no need.” Shan Mei shook her head.
Hyun Chul looked at Shan Mei.
“Why did you cry just now?” he asked.
Shan Mei stared at the pond and softly said: “I felt awful …, I was angry at you for using a coin to decide the fate of a relationship …”
This was the first time that she admitted her own weakness in front of him.
“You … think I am that kind of a person?”
Shan Mei shook her head furiously.
She knew that he wasn’t but was afraid he was muddled for a second.
Hyun Chul smile a little.
“Come, take a look.” Hyun Chul removed the silver coin from his pant pocket.

The silver dragon image shone brightly in the sunlight.
Hyun Chul smiled faintly and turned the coin over.
“What!” Shan Mei stared wide eye.
Actually, the other side of the coin was also an image of a dragon, only the pattern was a little different; it was not the regular coin, it was a Year 2000 remembrance coin.
He had actually lied to her and let her get worked up over nothing which was unforgivable.
Her mood turned serious and she quickly turned around to leave.
Hyun Chul smiled and asked: “Mad?”
“YES!” Shan Mei fumed.
Hyun Chul brought his face just inches away from Shan Mei’s face to the point where she thought couldn’t breathe and she blushed bright as an apple.
“How annoying…” Shan Mei bent her head to avoid Hyun Chul’s penetrating gaze.
“Zhen Shan Mei, has anyone told you that you look really cute when you are mad.”
Shan Mei raised her left hand to hit Hyun Chul, he didn’t move to avoid her and her fist landed on his left chest.
Hyun Chul smiled helplessly at Shan Mei, his eyes reflected such deep tenderness that she couldn’t stay mad at him.

“Still mad at me?”
Shan Mei nodded her head and then shook her head.
Hyun Chul scratched his head and said with confusion: “This is hard to understand, nodding the head means, you are still mad and shaking your head means you are not mad, sigh**, so is Miss Zhen still upset or not!”
“I thought you were smart…”
“I don’t think I am after I met you.”
“You can’t even guess the simple thing, and you are trying to pursue me? Shan Mei’s mouth twitched faintly.
“Haven’t I succeeded in courting you already?” Hyun Chul beamed.
“You … it’s still early to say!” Shan Mei winked at Hyun Chul, “Sigh**, I don’t understand how dad taught you to be like this.”
“Really? What did professor say about me?” Hyun Chul asked with laughter.
“He said ….” Shan Mei said the words very slowly.
Dad said, he’s a fine boy, mature, ambitious, and he doesn’t have an ounce of the rich people attitude.
“Never mind, the two of you, professor and student are the same, what was said could not be considered as the truth.”
Shan Mei punched Hyun Chul and didn’t continue her sentence.
Hyun Chul gave Shan Mei a pat on the head and chuckled: “You sure know how to tease people.”
Shan Mei laughed.

The Cherry Blossoms had already wilted in Shinjuku’s August days, but the leaves haven’t yet turned red which still gave the garden a deep grassy feel, the two followed a shady path to the center of the park.
Along the way, nothing could wipe the smile off Hyun Chul’s face.
“Why are you so happy?” Shan Mei asked.
“Guess?” Hyun Chul looked joyfully at Shan Mei.
Shan Mei covered her mouth in laughter.

The morning had slipped away in a blink of an eye.
 “Hungry? Let’s go eat.”
Hyun Chul looked at his watch; it was already twelve o’clock.
“What would you like to eat?”
“Hmmm…. I want … spaghetti.”
Hyun Chul displayed a comical expression, “okay, we’ll have spaghetti.”
“Hey, what’s so funny about having spaghetti?”
“I’m laughing … laughing because you are like a foreigner.”
“Foreigner? Which part of me am I like a foreigner?” Shan Mei asked.
“The several times that we have eaten together, I have never once heard you say you would like to have Korean cuisine.”
Shan Mei laughed as she heard this, because of living abroad for so long, she didn’t even notice that her taste palates had changed.
“Then … why don’t we have Korean cuisine today!”
He must be missing home cooking after being on a business trip in Asia for the past week.
“Really?” Hyun Chul laughed with amusement.
Her thoughtfulness brought sweetness to his heart.
“Yes.” She nodded.
“No need, we’ll just go have Italian.”
The only thing he wanted was for her to be happy.

Once aboard the taxi, Hyun Chul used his limited japanese to tell the driver to head in the direction of Gaienmae to Restaurant SELAN, Restaurant SELAN is a well known Italian restaurant in Tokyo.
“You seem to know Tokyo really well!”
“I did my homework, a lady once said, she will not have time for me and I will have to entertain myself if I came to Tokyo again …” Hyun Chul chuckled as he took out his PDA.
As Shan Mei peeked at the PDA, she couldn’t help laughing for she saw tons of restaurant names with addresses and tourist attractions written in it.
“When did you have time to do that?”
“Found it on the internet last night.”
“Crazy … “ Shan Mei giggled.
“Not like I could sleep …”
Was he not able to sleep like herself?

“What caused the insomnia?” she asked.
“Scared you might reject me and I would have to return to Seoul brokenhearted …”
“Really?” Shan Mei stared at Hyun Chul and said: “I heard Executive Director Yun Hyun Chul is a strong-minded person …”
“However strong-minded that person maybe, his heart will be hurt when rejected by the woman he loves….”
Hyun Chul pursed his lips and nodded his head.
“What would happen if I had rejected you today?”
“I would … come back again next week and keep persisting!”
“What ….” Shan Mei exasperated.
“I am not a person that will give up easily; I believe I will persevere if I persist to the end.” said Hyun Chul in a serious tone.

In the end, Shan Mei brought Hyun Chul to another restaurant in Little Italy, she revealed that this restaurant may not be as famous as SELAN but had a big selection on food choices plus the food is excellent. The restaurant was a little two stories wooden building with tile roof that was specifically built facing the river, the patio was covered with green tiles and furnished with mahogany furniture which gave the whole place a very European feel.

Hyun Chul ordered a pumpkin fettuccini, Shan Mei ordered from the chef’s special, spaghetti with peaches.
Shan Mei seemed to know the chef really well.
“Do you come here often?”
“The Italian food here is light, and the chef changes the menu constantly so each visit offers a different surprise.”
Seeing her enjoying her food so much, Hyun Chul laughingly said: “You should eat more, you are too skinny, and felt so light when being lifted.”
Shan Mei’s eyes widened, “What do you mean so light when being lifted?”
Hyun Chul scolded himself for the accidental slip.
“Don’t tell me you have carried me before …” Shan Mei gaped at Hyun Chul.
Caught by his own words, Hyun Chul admitted, “That’s right, I did carry you …”
“WHAT?” Shan Mei almost dropped the fork that was in her hand.
“When … when did that happen?” She asked hastily for she was fuming.
Hyun Chul gave a faint smile and slowly explained: “It was the last time when you fainted in the office …”
Shan Mei’s face reddens and said: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was afraid you might be embarrassed.” Hyun Chul said in a matter-of-fact tone.

After lunch, the two of them went to the shopping hot spot, there were so many people that they were bumping into each other on the narrow streets, the two almost got knocked over several times which ruined Shan Mei’s mood for shopping.
Hyun Chul flagged a taxi and headed towards the direction of Meijijingu Palace, the map guide mentioned that near the Palace was a beautiful romantic walkway called Ginkgo Biloba pathway.
Shan Mei had let Hyun Chul decide, after all, she was the one who told him to entertain himself if he visited Tokyo again.
They got off the taxi at Sakuin.
Ginkgo Biloba pathway was directly across from the museum’s exit, lined on both sides of the pathway were tall ginkgo trees, their golden leaves shone brightly in the sun as if they were giving off bright lights creating a stunning picturesque scenery.
“This place must be a very popular meeting spot!” said Hyun Chul.
From the looks of it, pretty much everyone there was couples.
Shan Mei giggled with two red clouds appearing on her cheeks.
“This is a really popular spot for filming Japanese TV series … “
after finishing her statement, Shan Mei stepped away and started walking ahead.
Hyun Chul gazed at her back and a smile appeared unconsciously at the fact that she can be embarrassed easily!
Hyun Chul quickly walked to Shan Mei’s side and took hold of her hand, this time, she didn’t resist.

He held her hand as they walked the path, which was about 300m long.
This was the first time that he felt three hundred meters was a very short distance.
Shan Mei smilingly said: “This is beautiful, isn’t it?”
Hyun Chul nodded his head.
“In another two or three week, this place will be even more beautiful, the leaves will have all turned into a golden color … “
“Why don’t we come back here for another walk when that happens?”
Shan Mei couldn’t help but laugh and her face flushed brightly.

He held her hand the whole afternoon as they walked the return trip on the Ginkgo Biloba pathway, how he wished time would stop at that moment so he could feel the joy forever.

Around dusk time, Hyun Chul talked about escorting Shan Mei home.
“I can go home by myself.” Shan Mei kept repeating because she knew he still had to rush to the airport to catch his flight back to Seoul.
Hyun Chul only smiled and said: “It is bad if a man does not escort his girlfriend home.”
“Who’s your girlfriend?” She reproached him.
Hyun Chul delightfully held up the little hand that he held in his.
“Zhen Shan Mei, only you can be my girlfriend in this world.” said Hyun Chul with absolute assertion.

After getting out of the taxi, Hyun Chul bought a single rose to give to Shan Mei.
Shan Mei looked at the single rose in her hand feeling sweetness in her heart for a single rose stood for “the one and only love”.
“Only one rose?” She deliberately asked him.
“Yes, only one.” Hyun Chul gazed at her with loving tenderness in his eyes.
Shan Mei bent her head to smell the rose as she blushed brightly.
“Not going to say I sent the wrong flowers again, right?” said Hyun Chul.
“Huh?” Shan Mei didn’t understand Hyun Chul’s implication.
Hyun Chul scratched his head and laughed: “Last time, you said I didn’t check what the color of the roses meant before I sent them …”
Shan Mei smiled faintly, “Do you know what kind of roses you sent me last time? she asked.
“Yes, … purple roses, I checked with the florist afterwards.”
He not only went to the florist, he even learned the meaning of sending proper flowers for different occasions.
“Thinking back … your reprimand was a little unfair …”
Hyun Chul smiled as he nodded his head and said: “Even though the florist had picked the flowers, it was a destine coincidence since that it undeniably expressed my feelings … “ Hyun Chul glanced tenderly at Shan Mei, “Purple roses represent first love, actually, you have always been in my heart, only I was too focused on work and didn’t realize my feelings until … “ Hyun Chul stammered. She looked at him with anticipation.
“Until … , I heard the news that you were getting married, only then did I recognize that you had taken hold of my heart and there was no way to forget you, I was total in turmoil. That day, I couldn’t focus on work, and finally decided to send you a bouquet of flowers to wish you happiness after much contemplation in the office.
“ … “
“Luckily, you called the next night and I felt revived with hope. It was then that I decided to make the trip to Tokyo to see you no matter what it took  “
“You mean that time, you didn’t deliberately come to see my dad?
Hyun Chul shook his head, “No .. , I made the trip to purposely come see you … , meeting Professor was a coincidence, two days before I came to Tokyo, I saw an article in the newspaper about the economic conference, and in it mentioned about Professor teaching at the University of Tokyo, it was then that I contacted Professor … “
Hyun Chul laughed as he looked at Shan Mei, “That day, I had barely open my mouth, you had already thrown a cup of cold water at me by saying you were already busy with an appointment, my heart turned cold at that moment … “
Shan Mei giggled, “Didn’t you see me that very night?”
“Yes, you don’t know how happy I was to see you, actually, when I saw your picture, I felt there was an unexplainable connection between us … “
A blissful smile floated to the corners of Hyun Chul’s lips.
“Hmmm…. Did you know you are my dream girl?”
“What … “ Shan Mei laughed shaking her head not believing Hyun Chul far-fetched speech.
His deep-devoted eyes stared intently at her.
“I had actually seen that picture before in Professor’s office, there was no way to forget the bright smiling girl’s face, and later when I found out you were the girl in the picture, I was so ecstatic that I couldn’t sleep the whole night … “

She stared at him with teary eyes.
“Oh, why are you crying?”
Hyun Chul quickly pulled out a handkerchief.
“It’s all your fault … “
She admonished him while wiping her tears.
“No wonder Professor said you are a crybaby, you love to cry.”
“My dad even told you that?” she snorted her nose.
“Of course, I am his finest student!”

She said her good-byes to him at the platform.
“Remember not to overwork.” she said.
“Okay.” Hyun Chul nodded his head.
“When you have time … “ she hesitated.
“What?” he purposely acted perplexed.
She bowed her head and timidly said: “Remember to give me a call when you have time.”
“I will not forget.”
Hyun Chul smiled tenderly and kissed her on her forehead.
That day, she finally understood the bitter sweet sorrow of parting but also the wonderful joy of anticipating his return.



As Shan Mei looked at her bruised and swollen foot, her heart was full of pain. Luckily, there was no need for her to go into the office today.

When she woke up and put her foot on the floor, she instantly felt tears well in her eyes. She did not expect the situation to deteriorate so drastically in the space of one night.

Last night, on her way home, she bumped into the group of children from the neighbourhood who asked her to go in-line skating with them. She breezily accepted. She was, after all, their teacher in a way! Last year, when the economy had not been doing well, and her portfolio of clients was not large, she would often take the neighbourhood children in-line skating. This year, as the work piled up, she found it difficult to make the time, and had only joined them two or three times. They had even formed a team and entered into some local competitions. Although they did not win a medal, they made it into the finals, and promised themselves that they would win a flag the following year.

Shan Mei was with the children at their training ground until after 9pm. She really had a good time with them, and even managed to pick up a few new tricks. It was amazing how she had gone from teacher to student in such a short period of time. On the way home, everyone was jostling and joking. Accidentally, she had tripped over a large stone on the road, and twisted her ankle. At first, she didn’t think anything of it. However, it got worse as she walked, but she gritted her teeth and limped her way through the ten minute walk home. Under the lights, she could see her ankle starting to bruise.

There was no one home as her father had gone to Hokkaido with a few colleagues on their autumn break, and would not be home until Tuesday. She used a hot compress on her foot, and put some medicated patches on it. After having meddled with it for quite a while, she thought a good nights’ sleep would heal it. How was she to know that it would end up being so bad? It was probably because she hadn’t give enough attention to the strain immediately after the injury.

With one foot so sore and painful, it was difficult even to get to a doctor. Shan Mei decided to stay put and continue self-medication instead.

At noon, she hastily made herself some sandwiches, and then lay down on the couch by the window, too tired to move. She had always had a low threshold for pain, and the initial pain she felt this morning when she awoke had shocked her enough. She had spent the day hopping about on her other foot, and was tired out by effort.

It was a beautiful, fine day. The sky outside was a brilliant blue, with no could in sight. The sun shone through the glass windows, giving a lovely warmth.
On such a beautiful day, it would have been so romantic to sit at the café under the Ginko trees in Meijijingu having a lazy afternoon tea. When she passed through there yesterday, she found that the leaves on the trees had all turned a beautiful shade of gold.
She missed Xiang Zhe a little….no, not a little…. She missed him a lot.
He had made a date with her to stroll through there when the Ginko trees turned to gold. Surely he could not have forgotten!
Xiang Zhe had to entertain this weekend, and could not make it to Tokyo.

“I really can’t make it to Tokyo next weekend to see you,” he had told her last week.
She even managed to be casual as she replied, “That’s alright! I’ve been wondering how you could leave your clients alone and not worry about it. Aren’t you afraid that they might be taken by another company?”

Over the last two months, Xiang Zhe had tried his utmost to free up his weekends and holidays in order to fly over to Tokyo to see her. Even though she was very happy about this, she still worried over how he might be neglecting his clients. In this line of work, personal relationships and networking were very important, especially in Asia, where clients were particular about face-to-face contact and courtesies. Her boss Peter always used holidays to “network by games”, and appeared in the office every Monday morning with a sunburn to prove it.

Xiang Zhe had avoided sporting activities with his clients as much as he could now. Even his secretary was complaining that she was running out of excuses to use when rejecting invitations. This weekend, he was going to play golf with his clients, and back-to-back appointments lined up.

“Because….. I have someone even more important than my clients whom I have to meet…” he teased lightly, as he tweaked her nose. “Someone once told me that you can’t be lazy in love, especially when it’s a long distance relationship….”
His words filled her heart with sweetness.

Before she fell in love with him, she always said that if two people were really in love, time and distance really would not make any difference to a relationship. After falling in love, she finally realised that loving someone meant you wanted to be with them all the time. She was envious each time she saw her female colleagues who were able to meet their boyfriends after work and have a meal or go shopping or go to the movies together.
Oh! It was much easier said than done! With the distance between them, that feeling of lonely anticipation followed by the sweetness was something she could not share with anyone.
She wondered how his game was going. Shan Mei put down the magazine in her hand, her head filled with images of Xiang Zhe......

The telephone rang. Shan Mei, who was lying on the sofa, stretched out her hand and answered it.
“Wei, who is it?”
“It’s me....”
Shan Mei smiled happily. It was Xiang Zhe.
“Where did you manage to find the time to call me?”
“Eh! Surely you’re not still lazing in bed?” Xiang Zhe could hear the huskiness in her voice which was not quite like her.
“Oh! I was lying on the sofa while talking to you.” She sat up.
“How luxurious! And here I am, out in the wind and the sun.”
“How is it going? Are you winning?” Shan Mei chuckled as she asked.
“Hey! When you’re playing with a client, you must always give a little, otherwise you may end up offending someone.”
“Don’t think so highly of yourself!”
“Ai! You think too lowly of your boyfriend..... that Peter from your office couldn’t beat me even when I gave him an extra 10 shots!” Xiang Zhe laughed smugly.
“One day, when you have the time, I’ll teach you...”
“No thanks! I haven’t got the talent, other than to be a caddy.”
She really couldn’t understand how a group of people could spend half a day walking around, swinging clubs. What entertainment value did that have?
“Alright then, next time I play, you can be my caddy....”
“You’d better think carefully about that! By the time you pay for all my beauty treatments for the sun damage that causes, you could be bankrupt!”
Xiang Zhe lauged out loud, “You don’t have to worry about that! I’m sure I should be able to bear those expenses without too much trouble. Why didn’t you go out today?”
“I....” Shan Mei looked at her poor foot, and secretly sighed.
“I just wanted to stay home and rest, and read magazines,” she said.
“Have you had lunch?”
“I rang your mobile earlier, but no one answered.....”
“Oh! I.....didn’t hear it.”
She did hear her mobile ring, but could not make her way upstairs to answer it.
“Are you playing again tomorrow?”
“Yes. I might just as well play all the games that I owe at once. It just makes things so much easier.”
He didn’t say it, but she knew he was trying to make more time to be with her.
“Actually,...... you really don’t have to come over every week....”
It was the biggest lie.
Xiang Zhe’s laughter floated across the telephone line, “Honestly?”
“Yes....” She tried to sound casual about it.
“You really wouldn’t mind?”
“I really won’t mind.” Shan Mei kept at it with gusto.
“Alright then!...... I won’t make the trip next week.”
“That’s good!” Shan Mei replied sulkily, suddenly feeling frustrated.
Xiang Zhe knew her well, and could hear the unhappiness in his girlfriend’s voice.
“Zhen Shan Mei....”
“Mmmm?” Shan Mei sighed listlessly.
“I’ll go right now instead. Is that alright?”
“You’re mad!” Shan Mei’s sighs turned into laughter.
“I was afraid you were mad at me...” Xiang Zhe’s voice was teasing.
“Oh! You’re only doing that because you don’t want me to be mad?”
Shan Mei could not help bickering with him.

The doorbell rang.
“Wait a minute, I’ve got to answer the door.”
“Remember not to open the door to strangers!”
“Yes, yes I know. Stop nagging!”
Xiang Zhe’s laughter floated up from the phone.

Shan Mei put down the receiver and hopped to the door.
It was Auntie Ying Shun.
“Shan Mei....What happened to your foot? How did it get so badly swollen?” Ying Shun asked loudly.
“Shhhh....” Shan Mei hurriedly put her finger to her lips, signalling to Ying Shun to lower her voice while nodding towards the telephone.
“Auntie, not so loud....”
“What’s the matter?” Ying Shun asked in puzzlement.
“My friend is on the phone and I don’t want other people to know I’ve twisted my foot.” Shan Mei whispered.
 “Be careful that you don’t end up hurting the other foot as well...” Ying Shun said as she helped Shan Mei back to her seat.
 “Mmm” Shan Mei lowered her voice, “Auntie Ying Shun is here. I’m going to hang up.”
“You’re going to get rid of me just like that? How uncaring!” Xiang Zhe protested mildly.
“’re so troublesome!”
“Me? Troublesome?” Xiang Zhe asked with irritation.
“My dear GM Yin, why don’t you just relax.....I’ll call you later.” Shan Mei lowered her voice and tried to soothe him while Auntie Ying Shun stood by smiling knowingly, making her feel rather embarrassed.
“What did you just call me?” Xiang Zhe asked with delight.
Shan Mei blushed profusely, “GM Yin, what else?” she said.
“No... I meant the words just before that....”
“Oh You.....!”

After hanging up the phone, Shan Mei casually asked, “Auntie, what brings you here today?”
“I made some Hiyashi Ramen, and remembered that you were alone at home, so I brought some for your dinner...”
“Thank you Auntie!”
“I haven’t seen you for a’ve grown prettier.” Ying Shun searched Shan Mei’s face.
Ying Shun had recently started a restaurant nearby, and had been too busy to even drop in for a visit.
“I’ve been really busy lately!” Shan Mei fiddled with a corner of her blouse.
“Was that your boyfriend on the phone?”
“Auntie...!” Shan Mei blushed in admission.
“Look at how shy you are! Who’s the one?”
“He’s.... he’s a colleague from work.”
“That’s good. How long have you known each other? Why haven’t I heard anything about this from your father?”
“Uh......I haven’t told papa yet...”
Her father had probably already guessed that she and Xiang Zhe were seeing each other! If he picked up the phone when Xiang Zhe rang, Xiang Zhe would always chat with him before finding an excuse to speak to her. Although her father hadn’t said anything, she knew that he probably could put two and two together.
“What sort of person is he?”
“He...He’s very caring, and very capable at work...” Shan Mei rested rested her chin in her hand, her face filled with sweetness.
“Look at how dreamy you are....” Ying Shun teased, “Is he handsome?”
“Mmm,” Shen Mei nodded her head shyly. “He’s so handsome’s a worry.”
Ying Shun laughed when she heard that, “Worry?”
“You know, he’s the sort that has a whole pile of women constantly looking at him with intent.” Shan Mei said with her hand over her mouth.
“In that case, you’d better keep a good watch over him!”
“That’s a little difficult..” Shan Mei scratched her head.
“ abilities are limited to a reasonable distance.”
“Limited to a reasonable distance?” Ying Shun could not understand what Shan Mei was getting at.
Shan Mei smiled widely, “Auntie, I’m just teasing!”
“Next time, you just make sure he sees a whole pile of men looking at YOU with intent. I’ll guarantee that he’ll stay by your side after that....”
Shan Mei burst into laughter and held Ying Shun’s hand, “Auntie, when did you become an expert in the dating game?”
Ying Shun chatted with Shan Mei until after 4pm.

At five thirty, Shan Mei figured that Xiang Zhe should have finished his game, so she rang him, but could not get through.
She tried again an hour later, and still he did not answer.
That man! He just accused her of being uncaring when she hung up the phone, and now he was uncontactable.
At about 8pm, Xiang Zhe still hadn’t called, but her father did, telling her that he was spending the night at an Onsen. Shan Mei didn’t tell him about her foot as she did not want him to worry.

“Silly girl, with no one at home, are you feeling bored?” Gui Chen teased.
“I don’t need anyone to entertain me!” Shan Mei said in a huff.
“What is it? Who has made you angry now? The next time he comes, I’ll teach him a lesson....”
“Is that a promise? Don’t you go back on your word!” Shan Mei laughed.

She was a little angry, and a little worried. Xiang Zhe wasn’t normally like that.
Shan Mei sat in the lounge and watched TV distractedly, constantly changing channels, unable to find anything that would hold her interest. Finally she decided to go to bed, hoping to put unpleasant thoughts out of her mind.
Just as she managed to get up two steps, the doorbell rang.
Who could it be? It was already after 10pm.
She struggled her way to the door in a sweat. She had to put some weight on her twisted foot on the way down the stairs and it took a lot of effort to work through the pain. She decided that she would go to the doctor the next day if the situation did not improve.
“Who is it?” She asked through the door.
“It’s me.”
Shan Mei’s heart skipped a beat.
She opened the door with lightning speed. The object of her worries was really there.
She stared at him in stunned silence, not believing that he had flown the miles to be there.
“How did you get yourself into this mess?” he asked with pain in his voice.
She standing with bare feet, her right foot red and swollen, her brow beaded with sweat, looking like she was in great pain.
Before Shan Mei could react, Xiang Zhe’s strong arms had scooped her up.

She was dizzy by the time he put her on the sofa.
“Eh, why are you in such a stupor?” Xiang Zhe gently touched her face, “Is it because you’re so happy to see me?”
“You.....why are you here?” Shan Mei’s eyes disappeared behind her smile.
He was on a plane. That’s why she couldn’t get through.
“I’m worried about you.” He said.
“Don’t patronise me.” She pouted, but her smile still broke through.
“Didn’t you know I am able to see everything?”
Shan Mei punched him in the shoulder.
“When you answered the door to Auntie Ying Shun, I heard this strange shuffling, and was rather puzzled. After that, when she started asking about your foot, I guessed the rest, and rushed through my eighteen holes, then found an excuse to disappear...... I really must write a protest letter to the airlines for having so few flights between Seoul and Tokyo. After 2pm, I had to wait until 5:30pm before there was another flight. I almost driven mad by the waiting.”
“When did you hurt it? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you go and see a doctor! Look at you! A grown woman, and you still can’t take care of yourself...”
Xiang Zhe chided.

On a normal day, she would not have let him get away with it. Today, she was happy to sit there and accept his chiding without feeling a trace of unhappiness.
“Are you finished with your scolding? Have you managed to calm down now?” Shan Mei asked unhappily.
“I....” Xiang Zhe took Shan Mei’s hand in his, “Ay, it hurts me to see you like this.”
“I know!” She nodded.
“Eh, just how did you manage to get yourself in this state?”
Shan Mei said, gesticulating wildly, “I used a hot compress, and put some medicated patches on it!”
Xiang Zhe tapped her lightly on her head and said, “Little Miss! You’re supposed to ice your foot when you’ve twisted it, not apply heat! You’ve got it all wrong!”
Shan Mei stuck out her tongue, suddenly remembering.
People at work had always assumed that she was highly capable, based on her results at work. However, when it came to life skills such as looking after herself, she was definitely muddled.

“Is there any ice in the house?”
“In the freezer.”
Xiang Zhe took a towel and filled it with ice, then applied it to her injured foot.
“I can do that.” Shan Mei took the towel from Xiang Zhe and gingerly touched her swollen foot with it, her face filled with pain.

“Ai, you still haven’t told me how you injured it.”
“It was last night when I went in-line skating”
“In-line skating?” Xiang Zhe interrupted, “please don’t tell me you twisted your foot while in-line skating...”
“No I didn’t. I accidentally tripped over a rock while walking .....”
“Tripped over a rock? Eh......Surely it wasn’t because you were busy admiring some handsome man?...... Be careful! I’m easily jealous!”
Shan Mei punched him again with her free hand.

“Alright, we’ll just have to ice it a few more times, and the swelling should subside....... Do you have any liniment in the house? The sort that you would use for muscle injuries?”

Xiang Zhe followed Shan Mei’s instructions, and found an unopened bottle of medicated liniment that Ying Shun had bought on her trip to Singapore.
As he opened the bottle, he said to Shan Mei, “Put your foot flat down on the floor...”
“What for?” Shan Mei asked worriedly.
“I’ll massage it for you. It will feel a lot better afterwards....”
“I don’t want....” Shan Mei blushed.
“Little Miss! Please believe me, it will heal much quicker this way. Whenever I twist anything in sport, this is the way I treat it.”
“I’ll do it myself....” Shan Mei said stubbornly.
Xiang Zhe couldn’t budge her.
Xiang Zhe could not help laughing at the way Shan Mei gingerly stroked her swollen foot. She looked more like a model in a TV ad trying to sell the an ointment. The way she was doing it, she wouldn’t get any results, even if she went at it all night. He really couldn’t take it any more.

Xiang Zhe squatted down and poured some liniment in his hand and started to rub her foot with his right hand while his left hand held it steady.
Shan Mei’s foot jumped .
She must be in pain, he thought.
“It will hurt a little, but bear with it. I’ll do my best to be gentle....” he consoled.

Shan Mei clenched her fists but still could not help a wave of shyness washing over her, making her cheeks blush bright red. As Xiang Zhe’s hands held on to her foot, his gaze was caught by her beautiful feet, with their oval-shaped toenails which were manicured and painted pale pink. The paleness of her skin contrasted with the colour.... As his gaze followed the line of her legs upwards, he discovered her long, shapely legs which were clad in a pair of shorts, looking so lovely.......suddenly, Xiang Zhe’s heart started to pound, his breathing quickened, and he felt a wave of heat rush to his head.....
 “Ai Yo!”
Xiang Zhe had lost concentration for a moment, and unconsciously increased the strength of his grip, causing Shan Mei to cry out in pain.
He was flushed as he quickly apologized, not noticing that Shan Mei had also blushed a bright red.

By the time Xiang Zhe completed his “treatment”, it was already eleven o’clock.
He looked up at the stairs leading to the second floor, and casually said, “I.... I’ll carry you upstairs. You won’t be able to walk anyway!”
“ can just help me up.” Shan Mei refused flatly, her face red.
She half-lay herself on him as he helped her up. It was really no different to if he had been carrying her.

He helped her to her bedroom door.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Xiang Zhe pointed towards her bedroom with intent.
Shan Mei quickly blocked his path, and shyly shook her head, “Not this time!”
Xiang Zhe flashed his teeth at her. “Look at how nervous you are! Surely it’s not because you didn’t make your bed this morning when you got up, and you would be too embarrassed if I found out?”
“Of course not!” Shan Mei pouted at him.
She was too shy to let him into her bedroom.

“Alright then! You have a good nights’ sleep, and I guarantee you’ll feel much better in the morning.”
“ have to return to Seoul first thing tomorrow?”
Shan Mei remembered he had games lined up with his clients.
“Mmmm, I’m on the first flight out.”
“Have you made any reservations for accommodation tonight?”
“No.....I saw a little ryokan near the train station. I’ll just stay there tonight. I’ll come back tomorrow morning. Can you let me use your little scooter?”
Shan Mei laughed when she heard. “Didn’t you say you were too big and tall to ride my little scooter?”
“Well, it’s late and it’s dark. I’m sure no one would notice.” Xiang Zhe said slyly.
“The keys are in the wooden box on top of the TV.”
“In that case,....I’m off. Good night.” His gentle gaze swept across her face for a moment, then he turned and walked doen the stairs. For a moment there, he suddenly had this incredible urge to kiss her, but he finally managed to resist.

“Xue Zhang!” Shan Mei’s voice floated down from the top of the stairs, stopping him just as he got to the front door.
“What is it?”
“It’s late. You....Would you like to stay here for the night?” Shan Mei said, as she started to blush yet again, “You can use Papa’s room.”
“Well....” Xiang Zhe hesitated for a moment. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“It’s alright! Papa often lets guests sleep in his room.”
“In that case, I won’t refuse. Thank you for your hospitality, Xiang Zhe said with a smile. He just couldn’t bring himself to reject good intentions.
 “You go to bed. I’ll come up a little later.”
Shan Mei nodded, “In that case, good night, then.”

Shan Mei lay on her bed, listening intently for any movement in the room next to hers. For a long time, she did not hear anything, and thought that Xiang Zhe must have been watching TV. After a while, she dozed off, tired after a day’s hopping.

She awoke at 2am, suddenly realising that she did not tell Xiang Zhe where to find the blankets. On a cool autumn night such as this, he could easily catch a cold without one. Shan Mei limped her way to her father’s bedroom, and saw that the door was ajar. Pushing it open, she discovered that the bed was empty. She then made her way to the stairs, and craned her neck to look. Under the night light, she saw Xiang Zhe fully dressed, asleep on the sofa in the living room. The throw that he used as a cover had long slipped its way onto the floor beside him.
“Oh, that man!” Shan Mei was exasperated, “If I had known you were going to do that, I would have let you go to the ryokan instead.”
She should have known that he would not have felt comfortable making use of her father’s bedroom. She was such a silly egg!

She took a deep breath, then went to the bedroom to fetch a blanket, gritted her teeth against the pain as she slowly made her way down the stairs. She didn’t dare hop down in case the noise awakened Xiang Zhe.

Funnily enough, the pain seemed to ease as she started walking on her foot. It seemed pain was a psychological condition, as much as anything else. The more you were afraid of it, the worse it seemed. When you faced it squarely and with courage, it seemed not to be as bad.

She silently made her way to his side, and up the blanket on him. She sat in the armchair next to him, looking at him. He was sleeping soundly, his chest rising and falling with each breath. He must be tired out. After playing eighteen holes, he had rushed over here to take care of her. Even Superman would have been tired by the effort.

She gazed at him lovingly, then leaned forward and brushed a lock of hair from his forehead, a wave of gentleness washing through her. She could feel herself blushing, afraid that he might suddenly awaken and find her staring at him in this way. However, she just could not take her eyes off him. As she took in the symmetry in the shape of his face, his well-defined eyebrows, the rise of his nose and his full lips, her heart filled with longing. Xiang Zhe suddenly turned over in his sleep, and Shan Mei pulled her hand back, startled. His lips merely curved up in a gentle smile as he slept on.

She was filled with contentment as she watched him sleep.

Someone once said that love was like a taxi. You never knew when it would turn up. When did it all start? Was it when they were in London? Or was it earlier, in Seoul? She didn’t really want to think too much about it. She knew that she deeply loved this man in front of her, who had dropped everything in order to fly out to see her. And......he hadn’t even kissed her yet! For a fleeting moment when they were outside her bedroom door, she had thought he was going to kiss her, but he didn’t. He must have been fearful that she would reject him. The last time when they were strolling in the park, he had tried to kiss her, but she managed to avoid it.

It had been a starry, starry night, heavy with the fragrance of flowers in the air.

“We’ve only known each other for two months......” she shyly lowered her head, avoiding that deep, intense gaze of his. His warm lips could only plant themselves on her forehead.
“I think we’ve known each other for much longer than that,” Xiang Zhe replied in earnest.
Every time he thought about it, he was convinced that it was love at first sight.
She knew he was a little disappointed, but she was insistent, “Those days don’t count.”
She believed that it had started from the day of the Sumida Fireworks festival. After all, even he had said that was their first date.
Surely he would remember those words! Although he was a forceful man, there were times when he would meekly acede to her. She was sure it wasn’t at all because she was being fierce to him! Shan Mei smiled sweetly as she thought about it.

She hand swept across the table, and came into contact with a box. She took a look at it, and realised it was a box of chocolates – a box of her favourite strawberry cream truffles. The corners of her lips lifted in a smile. Even in his rush to come over, he had made the time and effort to buy her a box of her favourite chocolate. After she had fallen in love with him, she had also fallen in love with strawberry cream truffles. The sweetness of the chocolate, with a slight hint of sour – she was sure that was what love tasted like.

Xiang Zhe awoke at the break of dawn, and was startled at the sight before his eyes. Shan Mei was curled up, asleep in the armchair next to him. When he saw the blanket covering him, he realised what had happened.
Just as he was about to cover her with the blanket, she suddenly opened her eyes.

“Yin Xiang Zhe, you are a naughty, naughty man....” Shan Mei told him off.
Xiang Zhe merely scratched his head and smiled. He really didn’t feel comfortable taking the professor’s bed. As he raised his head, he caught sight of the half-eaten box of chocolates, and quietly laughed.
“ sneaked downstairs in the middle of the night to steal some chocolate?” he teased.
“That’s right! I could smell the sweet smell from upstairs, and couldn’t resist,” she returned smoothly.
He gave up! There was no way he could out talk her!

“Why didn’t you go upstairs to bed?” he asked as he sat on the arm of her chair.
“It was going hurt even on the way back up!” she griped.
“How childish is that? You’re afraid of even the slightest pain!” he put his arms around her shoulders.
“Well, I’ve always had a low threshold for pain, ever since I was a child.”
“It must have been hard on you last night,” his voice was apologetic.
“With the chocolate as consolation, I didn’t feel put out at all,” she smiled as she leaned into his chest.

Shan Mei glanced at the clock on the wall, “Go wash up, and then let’s go out for breakfast!”
It was only 6am. He still had an hour to spare.
“Go out for breakfast? Doesn’t your foot hurt any more?” Xiang Zhe asked as he ruffled her hair.
“It was already much better when I was making my way down the stairs last night......there’s a new shop near the station that sells some great breakfast. Let’s go! It’s my treat! We can drive there.”

Xiang Zhe parked the car outside the gate, and smiled as he made his way to her. Without so much as a by-the-by, he swept her up in his arms.

Shan Mei shrieked in surprise, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Didn’t you say you had a low threshold for pain?” he whispered in her ear.
“Put me down at once! I’m going to be the joke of the neighbourhood if anyone sees me like this!”
“It’s way too early for anyone to be up and about.... but if you keep screaming like that... I can’t guarantee it will stay that way....”
Shan Mei quickly shut her mouth as she struggled to get out of his arms.
“If anyone catches sight of me like this, no one is going to come courting me any more.....” Shan Mei said through gritted teeth.
Even though he knew she was joking, Xiang Zhe still felt a tinge of apprehension at her words.
“Zhen Shan Mei, just who were you hoping would come courting you?” Xiang Zhe said in mock anger.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, will you please put me down!” Shan Mei’s ears were burning with embarrassment.
“No way! I’m going to make sure no one comes courting you any more.”

He held her in his arms and strode purposefully towards the gate. He had no intention of letting her go. Not now, not ever. If she was willing, he would have carried her to the ends of the earth...........



Shan Mei was in high spirits as the plane approached Incheon International Airport in the setting sun. She was finally here.
The last time she was in Seoul was for the distribution project, which was about eight months ago. There were a few times when she wanted to fly to Seoul to see Hyun Chul, but he had flatly refused.
“It’s the same if I come over.” That was how he always answered.
She sweetly accepted his thoughtfulness for she knew he couldn’t bear to have her on strenuous travels.

She was finally here even though it was to accompany the clients to an economic symposium. Since the following Monday was a government holiday, she intended to take advantage of the holiday to stay an extra three days in Seoul after the conference ended.

Would Hyun Chul be at the airport? She had thought it was not necessary so she told him not to come.
“What do you mean “not necessary”? It’s not like I am coming just to pick you up.” Hyun Chul had teased her.
This time, Peter and her other colleagues made the trip with her.

The company was holding a two-day economic symposium in Seoul, inviting high power executives and investors from Japan and other East Asian countries. The initial response was tremendous, close to two hundred people has registered and three of her clients alone had already signed up. Korea seemed to have become a hot spot for companies to hold conferences ever since the World Cup competition. It seemed that everyone wanted to witness the miracle of how fast this country had recovered from the Asian Currency Crisis in such a short time.

To house everyone, the company had reserved the JW Marriott Hotel located in Kangnam for the conference location and the clients’ accommodations.

Exiting the gate, she saw Hyun Chul and a few colleagues from the investment department waiting for the clients’ arrival. He smiled faintly as the group waved their hands. He wore a steel gray suite with a white shirt and a yellow stripe necktie, Shan Mei was delighted as she recognized in an instant it was the necktie that she had bought Hyun Chul. She covered her mouth to laugh for she couldn’t suppress the happiness in her heart.

Peter introduced every client to Hyun Chun, both of them finally relaxed after the clients had left in their escorted cars.
 “Hyun Chul, we are old friends, you don’t need to be so hospitable in coming to pick us up at the airport … “ said Peter.
“Because we are old friends which is why I must come and pick you up.”
While Hyun Chul was talking, his attention was focused on the cute lady behind Peter.
“Zhen Shan Mei, why are you hiding in the back?” He looked intently at her.
“I wasn’t hiding.” Shan Mei’s face reddens and she quickly took a step forward to stand beside Peter as the crowd laughed.
Horrible! He did it to purposely tease her! There were quite a few people behind Peter and he had to single her out.
“Haven’t seen you a long time!” His eyes were filled with tender affection as he fixed his gaze on her.
He hasn’t seen her for two whole weeks already and even though they talk on the phone everyday, something still seemed to be missing.
“Yes.” Shan Mei blushed and quickly nodded her head for she was worried that her colleagues might sense something.
Why can’t this person be a little bit more serious?
“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, do I have the honor of assisting you? He winked at her.
Before Shan Mei could respond, Hyun Chul had already picked up her luggage and walked briskly toward the exit.
“Executive Yun …. “ Shan Mei followed behind with embarrassment.
“What did you call me?” Hyun Chul smiled as he eyed Shan Mei.
“Hey .., give me back my bag…” said Shan Mei softly.
Hyun Chul only smiled and acted as if he didn’t hear Shan Mei. He started to walk even faster; Shan Mei almost had to do a little jog to catch up to him, Hyun Chul had purposely created some space to distance themselves and the group.

“Senior … “ Shan Mei pouted and said: “I can carry my own luggage … , it’s embarrassing for me if you keep this up since there are other female colleagues here.”
Hyun Chul turned his head for a glance, smiling faintly he said: “Hmm… Those coworkers of yours seem more like career-oriented women …”
Shan Mei smirked: “If they look like career-oriented women, what about me?”
As his eyes swept over her sweet beautiful face, he smugly said:
“You … you are my girlfriend whom I deeply love!”

Shan Mei received a call from Hyun Chul the moment she stepped into her hotel room.
“Satisfy with the room?” Hyun Chul inquired.
“Why?” Shan Mei was a little confused.
“I deliberately reserved the room with the best view for you.”
It was then that Shan Mei noticed her room faced in the direction of Hangang.
Shan Mei giggled: “You are abusing your position!”
“This is the little perk that I have for being the organizer!” Hyun Chul’s happy laughter transmitted through the phone.
“You … look like you have lost some weight.” Shan Mei’s voice revealed an unspeakable feeling of concern.
Since Hyun Chul was the conference organizer, he had been busy preparing for the symposium, from choosing the list of exclusive participants, to the invitations of government officials, to the scheduling of the programs, to the welcoming of the guests, to providing comfortable accommodations and all the minuet details surrounding this conference that she had not seen him for almost half a month.

“I have?” Hyun Chul rubbed his face and said lovingly: “It must definitely be from thinking of you … “
“Stop it…”
Her sweet laughter floated into his ear.
He could just imagine her cute shy expression, even though they have been together for sometime, she still blushes easily over the simplest things.
“No matter how busy you get, remember to take care of your health …” She couldn’t help but remind him.
“Oyi, when did you turn into such a nag?” Hyun Chul complained but took her words to heart.
“Didn’t you notice I am actually very long-wind? Why did you call me?” Shan Mei looked at her watch, it was close to seven, Hyun Chul was suppose to take Peter and a few directors to dinner that night, with drinks at the pub afterwards, these people are known to play hard and they will probably not leave until after midnight.
“Can’t I just call you? You were really cool to me…” Hyun Chul protested.
She intentionally kept her distance from him, even not riding in the same car with him.
“What … don’t you think you gave me enough trouble already at the airport just now!” Shan Mei said with exasperation.
“Trouble? What kind of trouble did I give you?” Hyun Chul decried.
“My co-workers kept asking why you treated me in such a friendly manner.” Shan Mei voiced her objection.
Hyun Chul laughed out loud, “Is that right? How did you answer them?”
“Of course I told them about the time I came to Seoul to work on the project with you and a friendship developed from there.”
“Isn’t that good … , right, I rented a cell phone for you, it’s at the front desk, remember to go pick it up …”
The cell phones in Japan were unusable in Korea, so there would be no way to contact her.
“Oh … that number is my exclusive use only!” said Hyun Chul.
“I know! Executive Director Yun.” Shan Mei felt so sweet.
“You finally listened to me … what are you doing tonight?”
“My colleagues want me to bring them to Myong Dong, what is there good to eat and places to have fun? I actually don’t know that place that well ….”
In the end, Hyun Chul sent Kin Lung to be their tour guide, the group hung out till midnight before returning to the hotel.

The programs for the two-day symposium were scheduled tightly but even though more than twenty face to face meetings could be scheduled for the same time slots, everything ran smoothly. With detailed planning, everyone who accompanied a client to the symposium had a set of scheduled guides to follow in order to make the conference run efficiently and for better client satisfaction.
Since Hyun Chul was the organizer, he was unimaginably busy but he gave the impression of being full of energy and having everything under control as he mingled through the crowd. She watched him through the crowd and was surprised when his pair of loving eyes caught hers; and whenever he passed by, he would give her a gentle squeeze with his warm assuring hands. Of course, every night before he went to bed, he would call to say good-night to her.

The two-day symposium finally ended on Friday afternoon. Shan Mei saw her clients and colleagues off to the airport, it was almost eight o’clock before she returned to the hotel; she was so tired she didn’t eat dinner and just laid in bed. Hyun Chul had to work that night to clear all the urgent document on his desk since he had been so busy with the symposium for the last two days.

Shan Mei was in dreamland when the ringing phone woke her up. She was still groggy as she picked up the phone.
“Hello ..”
“Already asleep?”
She woke up as she heard Hyun Chul’s voice.
“I’m so … tired!” She unconsciously pouted.
“Did you have anything to eat tonight?”
“I ate …” She was afraid he would nag her so she told a little white lie.
“Where are you?”
“Still at the office.”
“How long do you have to stay?”
“Hmmm… probably a while.”
“Do you want to come out later for a walk?”
He really missed her since he had not been able to spend time alone with her for the past two days.

Shan Mei looked at the clock on the wall, it was 9 o’clock.
“Where do you want to go?”
“How about I bring you to see the stars?”
“See stars?” Shan Mei pulled opened the curtains above her headboard and looked outside to see the night sky filled with stars.
“How about next time! I’m too lazy to move …” She replied to Hyun Chul with disinterest, but actually, she had another idea in mind.
“You really don’t want to come out?”
He wanted to bring her to the 63rd floor Sky View to see the night light.
“No” Shan Mei was still not motivated.
“Then you go rest and I will come pick you up tomorrow.” Hyun Chul disappointedly hung up the phone.

“Ahh!” Hyun Chul did a stretch as he finally finished going through the documents and feeling a weight lifted from his shoulders. Looking at the time, it was already 10 o’clock, which was close to the time he had planned to finish his work.
With the conference and entertaining clients, there was no time to come into the office to do work. There were some urgent documents that had to be taken care of since he was taking Monday off to spend time with Shan Mei.

The cell phone rang.
Hyun Chul was on cloud nine when he saw the telephone number, it was his exclusive “hotline” number.
“Changed your mind?” He asked her.
“Says who? I am checking to see if you are still working.”
Shan Mei was laughing away.
“I didn’t know you moonlighted as a spy, so what do you think, did I pass?”
“Hmm … hardworking, undeniably a good model for your subordinates, definitely deserves a reward.”
“OH! You have decided to give me a reward?” Hyun Chul threw his head back laughing.
“I will treat you … a midnight snack.”
“Really? I am shocked with happiness.”
The more he thought about it, the happier he felt since she really wanted to see him and used the midnight snack as an excuse.
“BUT ... my midnight snack is not that easy to eat.”
“What does that mean?” Hyun Chul laughingly inquired.
What kind of obstacle did she come up with now.
“I want to play a mind game with you.”
“A mind game?”
“Don’t worry, it’s not that hard.”
“I’m ready for anything!” Hyun Chul answered confidently.
“Okay, listen carefully …” Shan Mei said: “I will be waiting for you on the road, I will give you thirty minutes time to find me, if you find me within the allowable time, I will treat you to a cup of hot Espresso and a Mascarpone, if you are late, then you don’t get anything.”
“Waiting for me on the road?” Hyun Chul frowned, “Can I have some hints?”
Shan Mei smiled, “I won’t take advantage of you … , I will give you three hints, first, ginko trees are planted on the two sides of this road ...”
“There are many roads in Seoul with ginko trees planted.” Hyun Chul cut in.
Shan Mei took no notice of Hyun Chul’s protest and smilingly continued: “The second hint, this road has special sentiment to me …, third hint, a chilly night of February 15th of this year. Yun Hyun Chul, you have ten minutes to pack you bag, the game starts in ten minutes, don’t let me wait too long or I will be heartbroken!”
She laughed as she hung up the phone.

Shan waited at the side of the road, wishing and watching.
The coffee’s heat passed through the cup and the bag into her hands, she hoped he would get here in time to drink this freshly brewed coffee.
He will remember what happened on the night of February 15th, right? He unexpectedly stopped at the side of the road and insisted on giving her a ride home …
A sugary smile materialized on Shan Mei’s face.
A taxi pulled up beside her and out came the person that she was waiting for, he had only let her waited for 10minutes.
He grinned as he approached her, he took a taxi to the meeting spot in order to see her as soon as possible.
“You are here!” Her eyes sparkled of joyful happiness.
“Miss, where are you going? Can I offer you a ride?” He laughingly inquired.
Shan Mei covered her mouth as she laughed, “I am waiting for a friend.”
“Really? Is he going to be here soon?”
“Oh, I don’t think he will let me wait that long.”
Both looked at each other and started laughing.
“The coffee is still hot.” She said.
“Because your boyfriend is ultra smart.”
“I can see that.”
“Do you want to go to Sky View to see the stars?”
“We can see the stars from here too.”
This road has special meaning to her for it was where they met on that unforgettable night.
“Okay, we’ll see it from here.”

She gazed at him with deep affection as she let herself step into his warm embrace.
On this same road, she used to walk alone but now, a pair of strong arms keeps her safe. She believed their encounter was not by chance and that he had been waiting for her long ago.

On the second day, Shan Mei got ready to meet Hyun Chul in front of the hotel at eight thirty who was already there waiting for her.
He said he was taking her to Chuncheon City.

Shan Mei grinned as she got into the front seat of the car, and spied the talisman that she had prayed for him from Sensoji Temple hanging on the mirror, she lightly touched the talisman, feeling happy as she smiled to Hyun Chul.
“Feel assured now?”
Hyun Chul attentively helped her buckle her seat belt.

All of a sudden, a voice sounded from behind: “Auntie!”

Shan Mei was scared for a second and turned around to see a little boy around eight or nine years old in the backseat.
Shan Mei looked at Hyun Chul with questioning eyes.
Hyun Chul smiled weakly and said: “This is my brother’s child.”
“Yun Ming Lung, … This is Zhen Auntie.”
“Zhen Auntie!” The little boy greeted Shan Mei and looked at her with a pair of big round eyes.
“How are you!” Shan Mei smiled faintly.
“My sister in-law had something to do at the last minute, this little guy wouldn’t stay at home by himself or go to his grandparents’ house, and begged to come with me … “ Hyun Chul explained.
“Auntie …” Yun Ming Lung cut into their conversation.
“Yun Ming Lung, when adults are talking, children shouldn’t interrupt …” Hyun Chul spoke to his nephew.
“Never mind … what did you want to say?” Shan Mei smiled.
“Auntie, do you mind if I came along?” Yun Ming Lung spoke in a very adult manner.
Shan Mei covered her mouth to laugh, “Now why would I mind …”
Yun Ming Lung’s face quickly expressed a comical look, and spoke to Hyun Chul: “Uncle, from the looks of it, it is you who do not want me here …”
Hyun Chul said: “Of course! You are such a troublesome little imp, I finally get a day off and your mother doesn’t even notify me before dropping you over …” Hyun Chul shook his head with exasperation.
Hyun Chul might be chiding Yun Ming Lung but Shan Mei could see that he was actually very fond of the little tyke.
“Oh, if you are to follow me, you better be on your best behavior!”
“I guarantee, I won’t be any trouble for both of you … “ Yun Ming Lung said in a well-behaved tone.
After speaking, Yun Ming Lung bowed his head to play his electronic game.
Hyun Chul and Shan Mei both exchanged smiles.

“Today’s weather is nice, it’s perfect to go to the pond …” said Hyun Chul.
Chuncheon Si is also known as “city by the pond side”, the scenery is well known around the country, Chuncheon dam is Korea’s biggest man-made dam.
“Uncle, where are we going?” Yun Ming Lung suddenly looked up to asked.
“Ahh –“ Yun Ming Lung uttered a sound of disappointment.
“What is it?” Hyun Chul glanced quickly at his nephew.
“Nothing …” Ming Lung stammered.
“Yun Ming Lung … if you have something to say, say it.”
“My school was there just last week.”
“That’s good, you can be our tour guide today.” said Hyun Chul.
Shan Mei couldn’t help feeling terrible seeing Ming Lung’s face filled with disappointment.
“Senior, why don’t we go somewhere else!”
“Yes! Yes! Uncle, let’s go somewhere else!” Yun Ming Lung was jumping happily in the backseat.
“Go to a different place?” Hyun Chul laughed: “Okay, where do you want to go?”
“Yeah, let’s go to Lotte World!”
“Lotte World? … No!” Hyun Chul shook his head.
“Uncle, … pleaaassseee! I haven’t been there in a long time.” Yun Ming Lung begged at Hyun Chul.
“NO!” Hyun Chul firmly declined, this little imp had already ruined his date with Shan Mei and he wasn’t about to spend the day running after him at the amusement park.
“Uncle, you are so jealous.” Yun Ming Lung pouted.
Shan Mei giggle as she looked at both uncle and nephew, “Senior, let’s just go to Lotte World.”
“WHAT?” Hyun Chul looked at Shan Mei with wide eyes.
“Ayi…” Shan Mei nodded slightly at Hyun Chul, “Going to an amusement park is not bad either!”
Hyun Chul glanced back at the now smiling widely Yun Ming Lung as he sighed: “Okay!”
“Yippy!” Yun Ming Lung thundered.
Hyun Chul turned the car around and headed in the direction of Kangnam.
The impish Yun Ming Lung could see that Hyun Chul seems to listen to Shan Mei a lot and was trying to brown-nose Shan Mei.
“Auntie …”
“What is it?”
Yun Ming Lung childish features suddenly flashed a sneaky smile.
“Are you my uncle’s girlfriend?”
“Huh ...” Shan Mei was stunned for a second and blushing brightly peeked at Hyun Chul who was trying his hardest not to laugh.
Shan Mei blinked at Hyun Chul.
“Uh … I am friends with your uncle.” Shan Mei tried to act nonchalant.
But the next sentence from Yun Ming Lung almost made Shan Mei choke on the water she was drinking.

“Then, has Uncle ever kissed you? I am talking about like those kind of kisses in the movies and television … I heard if a man and woman never kiss like that, then they are not really considered boyfriend and girlfriend …”
“Yun Ming Lung, children shouldn’t be talking that kind of nonsense …” Hyun Chul was trying to stop Ming Lung from continuing for Shan Mei’s cute face was blushing to the point of looking like a cooked lobster.
“Really, how does your mother teach you, so young and talking full of nonsense, I should let your mother discipline you …” Hyun Chul tried to scare his nephew since this little imp was not scared of anything except for his mother.
The tactic worked, Yun Ming Lung quickly wiped the smirk off his face, “I heard it when my mother was talking to small Auntie on the phone!”
“If children don’t understand, then don’t say it, do you understand?”
“I understand.” Yun Ming Lung nodded his head obediently.

Hyun Chul never imagined his girlfriend would turn in a child when he stepped into the amusement park.

The usually mild manner Shan Mei turned into a daredevil, the scarier the ride the happier she became. Pirate ship, roller coasters were nothing to her, all those rides that terrified other people were warm-ups for her. Like the sky dive, the Spanish pirate ship or the Ardelen adventure were some of the rides she wouldn’t dare miss, even the 360 degrees spinning space shuttle that Yun Ming Lung wouldn’t dare get on, she dragged Hyun Chul to go with her.
By mid-day, Yun Ming Lung was worshipping Shan Mei after all of the screaming and laughing to the point of loosing the voice.

“Can’t believe you are so daring, aren’t you afraid men … might get scared off?” Hyun Chul teased Shan Mei.
“If they run, … that’s fine, I don’t want a man who is not courageous!” Shan Mei shrugged her shoulders as if she didn’t care.
“Wow, sounds very confident … oyi, you don’t happen to know judo, boxing or other things, right?”
“That … I can’t say, why, you scared?” Shan Mei looked at Hyun Chul with some degrees of challenge in her eyes.
“Are you joking, I’m not scared of anything.”
“Is that right?” Shan Mei chuckled.
Hyun Chul held Shan Mei’s hand tightly as she did his. In front of Ming Lung, Shan Mei wouldn’t allow Hyun Chul to hold her hand, but at this moment, they could finally be alone while Yun Ming Lung played with the bumper cars.

After lunch, the three took a boat ride in the reservoir even though it was a little heavy on the man-made ambiance, the scenery was still picturesque, Hyun Chul jokingly said this ride can make-up for missing the ride at the Chuncheon Dam.

After the ride, the three of them arrived at the ice-rink.
Ming Lung kept a close watch at the people who could move freely in the rink.
“Ming Lung, do you know how to ice-skate?” Shan Mei asked.
Ming Lung smiled weakly and mumbled: “I don’t know!”
Hyun Chul glance at his nephew, Ming Lung was afraid of falling which was why he still hasn’t learned how to skate.
“Do you want to learn? Auntie can teach you? Auntie has some good moves!”
“I’m … afraid of falling.” Ming Lung blushed.
“Who has learned to skate without falling, don’t be afraid, you only need to learn to balance and you won’t fall, … Auntie will be by your side to help you.”

Shan Mei concentrated on teaching Ming Lung the basics of ice-skating: going forward, stopping, skating backwards and turning … , Hyun Chul also stood on one side to help. After two hours, Ming Lung skated happily by himself as he was able to go forward and stop.

“Uncle, Zhen Auntie is way cooler than Hui Chu Auntie …” Ming Lung spoke directly to Hyun Chul.
“What are you talking about …” Hyun Chul gave a smack on Ming Lung’s bottom and looked embarrassingly at Shan Mei.
“Hui Chu Auntie? … Yun Hyun Chul, who is Hui Chu Auntie?” Shan Mei stared at Hyun Chul in a odd way.
“She is my mother’s god-daughter.” Hyun Chul quickly explained.
“Is that right?” Shan Mei had a look disbelieve on her face.
“Ugh …, don’t misunderstand, there is nothing between her and me …” Hyun Chul almost fell in his haste to explain.
“I … don’t believe you!” Shan Mei smirked and nonchalantly gave Hyun Chul a push who fell on the ice from not paying attention.

Shan Mei burst out laughing, and turned around to do a 360 degrees Salchow before skating off in a hurry.

“Okay, you dare to ambush me! I’ll get you for this …” Hyun Chul stood up, rubbing his hands together to chase after Shan Mei. Shan Mei laughed as she tried to avoid being caught, and soon the two of them were acting like kids racing against each other, neither willing to loose.

He grinned as he saw her huffing away.
“What are you laughing at? She couldn’t help laughing.
“You know something?”
“You are really hard to chase!” He said frankly with some implications .

Shan Mei smiled faintly without answering, her eyes were filled with happiness.
He should know, her heart has never really left him, even during the times when she had tried to forget the memories of him for he had already occupied himself in a deep corner of her heart …



It was a little after 5 o’clock when Hyun Chul sent Sun Mi back to the hotel.

“Dress a little bit more elegant tonight!” He whispered in her ear.
He was coming later to pick her up for dinner.
“Are you saying … I look bad?” Sun Mi glared at Hyun Chul.
Hyun Chul chewed his lip as he assessed Sun Mi from head to toe, “You were like a wild woman today …” said Hyun Chul.
Her performance today was positively an eye opening experience for him!
Sun Mi’s eyes flashed deviously, “Didn’t it occur to you … that this could be my real façade?”
He leaned forward with a look of amusement.
From the first day he met her, he has been constantly surprised by her wittiness, her cheerfulness, her forthrightness, her zest for life and her considerate nature.
“There is a high probability!” Sun Mi nods her head.
“Hmmm… if it’s like that ….” Hyun Chul rubbed his chin with his right hand, focusing his attention on Sun Mi’s face.
“I was thinking … if I have to reconsider our relationship …”
Sun Mi smiled mischievously, rubbing her chin as Hyun Chul did, “Hmmmm… good idea, I was just thinking about that because ….”
“Because of what?” Hyun Chul smilingly inquired.
“Because … you were like a riotous kid today.”
“Riotous kid?” Hyun Chul’s eyes widened.
“Yupe! Riotous kid.” Sun Mi tried not to laugh, while nodding her head, she was rather proud of herself for coming up with such a creative name.
He said she was like a wild woman! Wasn’t he just as wild as she was, up the mountain, down into the sea, which one did he not try? At the ice-rink, wasn’t he the one laughing the loudest, and he dared to come back to tease her. If her co-workers who were used to seeing a calm and cool Executive Director Yun could see the childishness in him, they would definitely be scared out of their minds.

“Zhen Sun Mi…” Hyun Chul wanted to protest.
She laughed as she pushed him out the door, “Good-bye! Executive Director Yun.” She said. She had a wonderful time at Lotto World today.

After showering, Sun Mi sat in front of the dresser to get ready.
A faint smile appeared on her lips as she saw her reflection in the mirror,
He actually said she was like a wild woman! Hmpfh, how dare he look down on her, she will just have to make him fall head over heels for her.

Sun Mi tried to copy the pose like the cover model from the magazine, but only to cause herself to fall into fits of laughter from looking at the reflection in the mirror. There was no way she could make herself emulate that kind of sexiness.
She put on a Laura Ashley flower print dress that she bought when she went to London on a business trip; this was the only thing that suited the occasion since she only brought business artier for the conference and some casual clothes.

Chen Su Auntie had commented how nice the dress looked the last time she tried on this outfit at home. During her third year in the university, her dad had given her a Laura Ashley dress to wear to a dance party, that caused a minor riot and she danced until her legs were about to fall off that night.
Sun Mi looked left and right into the mirror, finally deciding to comb up her hair, she blew dry her hair and curled it into a princess style. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help observing how beautiful she looked, a nice fitting bare back dress with curled hair, elegant but with a tint of sexiness.

At seven o’ clock sharp, Hyun Chul arrived with a bouquet of Diana roses.
He wore a dark suit looking dashingly handsome.
Hyun Chul just stood there staring at Sun Mi, his eyes shining with a fiery glow.
He has never seen her dressed like that.
“You … look exceptionally beautiful.” He leaned close to her to whisper the praise in her ear. His low mesmerizing voice made her heart race; from his body, she could faintly smell his cologne which made her heart ready to jump out of her mouth at any second.

“We should leave now! I’m … hungry!” With a hand over her heart, Sun Mi tried to calm her heart as she headed towards the door.
“Wait!” Hyun Chul wrapped his hands around Sun Mi’s waist, holding her tightly in his embrace.
“What … are you doing?” Her face turned red as she asked Hyun Chul in a barely audible voice.
The heat in his eyes was making her light headed.
“Yun Ming Lung was totally correct in what he said today…” Hyun Chul smiled and watched Sun Mi with deep passion in his eyes.
“What did he say?” Sun Mi lowered her head as she asked.
“He said … if a man and woman never kiss like in the movies and television, then they are not really considered boyfriend and girlfriend …”
Today, he was not going to let her get escape; he had waited for a very long time for this day.

Sun Mi didn’t make a sound; she understood his meaning as she leaned her forehead onto Hyun Chul’s chest.
Hyun Chul touched Sun Mi’s face, seeing her flushed face made his heart move.
Sun Mi looked into Hyun Chul’s eyes and understood his warmth, she closed her eyes in embarrassment… her heart, her body was in his complete control and there was no escaping. Hyun Chul’s lips pulled up in a smile as he leaned forwarded to kiss Sun Mi’s lips.

He held her shoulders as he kissed her lips. Her slight shoulder movement made him aware of her nervousness. He used his gentleness to calm her until she completely melted in his tenderness, until she started to respond to him did he become more passionate.
He held her lips, slowly tasting her sweetness and tenderness, swallowing her soft moans, finally, all his passion burst out like an exploding volcano that couldn’t be stopped, unable to control himself, he put his tongue in her mouth to explore and touched the tip of her tongue.

Sun Mi moved slightly, both hands balled into a fist and gave Hyun Chul a push in the chest to separate a distance between the closeness of their bodies.
“You can’t kiss me like that …” Sun Mi weakly protested.
The first time, he kissed her so deeply that she lost control and didn’t know what to do.

Hyun Chul’s lips were still inches away, his forehead was still lightly touching hers, and she could feel him furiously suppressing his passion.
“Senior…” Sun Mi moved her lips slightly.
Hyun Chul moved his gentle lips over Sun Mi’s lips.
“I have a name...”
He likes when she calls him Hyun Chul, it makes him feel like they are more of a couple.
“Yun Hyun Chul, you can’t …”
Her words were swallowed up by his kiss, this time; he didn’t dare kiss her with such passion for he didn’t want to scare her away.
Once he had suppressed his passion, he gently released her, but one hand still held her firmly around the waist and still looking at her with heated passion in his eyes. Sun Mi nestled her head against his neck to avoid his passionate gaze, letting Hyun Chul continue lightly kissing her hair.

As Hyun Chul drove, he would turn his head to look at Sun Mi; his face wore that mesmerizing smile.
“Can you please concentrate on driving? Don’t look else where.” Sun Mi blushed as she said it.
“Okay.” Hyun Chul smiled to answer her; his gaze flashed a gentleness that made the heart race.
To make Sun Mi not worry, Hyun Chul could only be quiet while driving; she had nothing to worry about since his driving abilities were exceptional.

She could see from the corner of her eye Hyun Chul’s concentrated driving look, Sun Mi faintly beamed a sweet smile.
She turned her head to steal a look at him, as the happenings in the room suddenly floated up in her heart, a blissful smile floated up Sun Mi’s lips.
“What are you thinking about?”
Hyun Chul inquired a few times before Sun Mi answered.
“Nothing.” She shook her head, a look of embarrassment appeared on her face.
“Really?” Hyun Chul’s lips slightly twitched, his gaze filled with amusement like he saw through her heart.
“Nothing... really!” Sun Mi bowed her head.
Her embarrassed look mesmerized him that Hyun Chul stopped the car by the side of the road.
“What?” Sun Mi looked up in time to meet Hyun Chul’s pair of eyes filled with amused tenderness.
“I cannot concentrate on driving right now.” Hyun Chul replied in a joking but not really joking manner.
Sun Mi blushed, poutingly said: “Then … I will get out of the car.”
After saying that, she pulled open the door, and was about to hop out of the car.
Hyun Chul quickly pulled her back in, “Oyi, you really want to leave!”
Sun Mi covered her mouth to laugh.
Only then did he figure out she was joking with him.

She looked up at him; a mischievous smile appeared on her lips.
“What is it now?”
Sun Mi bit her lip, shaking her head.
“Don’t let me stop you from speaking. “ He put his face in front of her eyes, she tried to avoid him by moving left and right.
“Aye…, you can’t laugh at me if I tell you.” She looked at him, her eyes filled with amusement.
“I just remembered the last time I was here in Seoul for the Ta Rong case when I walked into the conference room to find you were Yun Hyun Chul..”
“Oh, it was funny and scary at the same time, it couldn’t be real that the night before that irritating person was ….”
Hyun Chul chuckled as he continued her sentence.
She smiled as she smacked him lightly, “what do you mean funny and scary, once I saw it was you, I thought this was going to be bad since I infuriate my big boss, and didn’t know what you were going to do with me! I was so unsettled until I finished the report and only then did I breathe a sigh of relieve.”
“Miss, what kind of person do you take me to be? The kind to use my position to take revenge? Hyun Chul laughed.
“Ayai, definitely not!” Sun Mi laughed, “It was because I heard from others how strict Executive Director Yun Hyun Chul could be and couldn’t help be nervous beforehand.”
“Oh,” Hyun Chul arched his brows, “in the end, you found out I am friendly and very considerate, right?”
Sun Mi chuckled, “This…” she glared at him, “I thought this person might be forgiving, but who knew two days later because of showing up late to the meeting, you scolded me to the point that I wanted to cry on the spot.”
“Oh, when was I that strict with my words!”
“You said people who can’t separate work and pleasure, wasn’t that stern enough? I have never been scolded like that before…”
“Oh my god, you must have hated me to the bone?”
“Yupe! I was so mad I cried the whole night when I returned to the hotel.”
“You couldn’t blame me.” Hyun Chul looked helplessly.
“You were so mad that you wrote my name wrong.”
Remembering the past incident made them laugh.

“Let me ask you something.”
“Do you remember the night before we left London at the Thames River, on the boat, I asked you, what kind of a person I was in your eyes? You drew something with your hands, said it was an IQ and imaginative question, in the end, you didn’t say anything, can you now tell me the answer?”
“Do you really need to know?”
If he asked the same question today, her answer would still be the same as before, only then couldn’t say, more like she could tell him what was in her heart.
“I really want to know.” Hyun Chul said.
“Ayi…” Sun Mi smiled as she glanced at Hyun Chul, trying to avoid his gaze, she really couldn’t tell him to his face what she really thought, “I feel you are humorous, a very articulate person…”
“Only like that?” Hyun Chul was a little disappointed.
“And what?”
“And gentle..”
“And what else?”
“And considerate…”
“What else besides that?”
In the end, he kept on asking to the point where she didn’t know how to deflect the question.
“And very pestering.”
She started to joke with him.
“Yes, pestering. Selfish, and very egotistic, and…”
Before anymore words could come out, Hyun Chul had enclosed her lips with his.
She hastily pushed him away. Oh my god, this was the street for crying out loud.

“Don’t you want to listen anymore?” She asked him.
Hyun Chul didn’t respond, only smiling blissfully.
“What are you smiling at? She glanced at him.
“I was thinking … did you secretly fall in love with me!”
She looked very blissful just now when she was talking.
“You … , you just don’t try to be smart over there.” Sun Mi smacked him with her fist.
Hyun Chul chuckled as he caught Sun Mi’s fist, “Well, too bad, I like being egotistic. Besides, didn’t you just say that’s what I am?”
“I’m not talking to you.” She turned her head away, there was no way on earth she was going to admit to that.
“Where are taking me for dinner?”
Hyun Chul flashed a smile and said: “Where do you want to go?”
She looked outside the window, with the stars were shining in the sky, she said to Hyun Chul, “Why don’t we, each write down the place we want to go and decide from there?”
Hyun Chul took out two pieces of paper from the glove box, and both wrote the names of the restaurants.

“Let me see yours…”
Sun Mi took the paper from Hyun Chul’s hand, the moment she saw the paper, a sweet smile appeared on her face.
“Where’s yours?”
Sun Mi smiled and put her piece of paper into Hyun Chul’s palm, he took one look and smiled.
Both were telepathic since both picked the restaurant at Naru Ferry Pier.

“I have made reservation already, my name is Yun.” Hyun Chul spoke to the hostess.
Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul with amazement.
She tightly held onto Hyun Chul’s hand, feeling very moved and heavenly because he didn’t forget their promise to each other either.
They sat at the same table by the left hand corner like the last time.
 “What do you want to eat?” Hyun Chul asked.
“Same as last time…”
Hyun Chul crossed his hands across his chest and laughingly said: “What? Are you trying to test me?”
Her brows arched as she looked at him with laughter.
“That day, you had an eighty percent cooked filet mignon.” said Hyun Chul.

Sun Mi stared deeply at Hyun Chul as she held her chin in her hand.
“Why do still remember those things?” She asked him.
There were so many others important things that he had to remember.
“I don’t know why but these things just naturally come into my brain, every time I come here, I would remember the day we had dinner, the piano playing incident and the promise we made…”
He thought, maybe back then he had already fallen for her but just didn’t realize it.

Sun Mi giggled as she looked at Hyun Chul.
“That day, you had a T-bone steak cooked to seventy percent well done.” She said.
Hyun Chul reached out across the table and held Sun Mi.
“And why do you also remember these things?”
Sun Mi laughed without saying a word.
She can never forget all the things they have done together.

“Oh! I couldn’t have fallen for you when you played that song, “Somewhere in Time”, right?
“Really?” Hyun Chul’s face light up with happiness.
“I was sick at that time, whoever brought me lunch, helped me write up the report, brought me out to dinner, and played that intensely moving song, “Somewhere In Time, I would have fallen in love with him….”
After half the day, he finally figured out that she was teasing him.
“You are such a rotten egg…”
“A rotten egg wouldn’t have remembered after eight months that you had a T-bone steak that day… , to say who’s bad, it should be you!”
“And just when did I bother you?”
Sun Mi blushed red as she lightly touched her red swollen lips, he had kissed her till her lips had swollen and now they were hurting.
“Never mind, I’m not talking to you!”
“A rotten egg wouldn’t have remembered after eight months that you had a filet mignon cooked to eighty percent well done on that day…” He touched her nose.

After dinner, the two left the restaurant, for couples in love, the restaurant was too noisy and they only wanted to find a quiet place.
Both of them rushed to the Yoido Wharf to catch the last boat ride.
There were not that many people on the ship, most were couples. Each couple headed to their own corner as to not intrude on other couples.
They chose a space at the back end of the ship, when the wind picked up, Hyun Chul took off his jacket to put it on Sun Mi. Her teeth were still chattering from the cold so Hyun Chul decided to wrap himself around her instead.

“The last time we visited the Thames River, you also took off your jacket for me to wear.” Sun Mi spoke sweetly.
“That was ages ago, you still remember it?”
“Yeah,” Sun Mi nodded her head, “Did you forget?”
“I remembered you hid behind my back and had me block the wind that day.”
“You said, you won’t be able to see the night scene that way.”
“You said, you were freezing…, you could close your eyes and use your imagination to see the night lights….”
“Those words were spoken ages ago but you still remember so clearly.”
“I never forget anything that has to do with you.”
Sun Mi felt so moved as she lightly put her head on Hyun Chul’s shoulder.

“Is that the Mapodaegyo Bridge?
Her face was just inches away from his as she looked up to ask Hyun Chul.
“I thought you had fallen asleep.”
He thought she was just tired since she didn’t move in his embrace and didn’t think she would ask him about the history of the bridge.
“I want to know everything about your city.”
“My city?” Hyun Chul smiled as he said: “You make it sound like you are a foreigner.”
“I don’t feel like I have any feelings for Seoul.”
“Do you still feel like a stranger since I’m here?”
“Better than before.”
“I hope one day, Seoul will become OUR city…” said Hyun Chul in a wishful tone.
“Yes.” It will definitely happen, she thought to herself.

She suddenly reached out and quickly kissed him.
Hyun Chul touched his lips as he smiled, “I thought you would never kiss me on your own…”
Sun Mi smiled and gave Hyun Chul a shove.
Love makes people do mysterious things, like just now when she suddenly kissed him. She had originally wanted to kiss him on the forehead but didn’t know what made her kissed him on the lips instead.

“Yun Hyun Chul! You… how many girls have you kissed like that?” She suddenly asked Hyun Chul as she stayed in his warm embrace.
“What?” He didn’t understand what she was asking so he pretended not to hear.
Sun Mi got out of Hyun Chul’s arms and stared at him, “I was asking you…, how many girls have you kissed like that?”
He knew how to kiss, not like her who’s inexperienced.
“Like how?” Hyun Chul pretended to be confused.
“Like, like…. like tonight!” Sun Mi covered her face with both hands in embarrassment.
Hyun Chul crossed his brows, thinking how he was supposed to answer Sun Mi because he didn’t want to lie to her.
“Is it important?” Hyun Chul asked.

His face reflected a troubled look, which made her think she asked a dumb question, for she had no feelings of jealously or wanted to know his pass loves, she only did it at the spur of the moment to hide her embarrassment.
She leaned against him and said childishly: “I was only fooling with you.”

He looked at her, speaking truthfully: “You are the second girl I have kissed in this life but the only one that I have loved with all my heart.”
Her vision blurred as Sun Mi reached out to touch the face that was so close to hers.
She nested closer into his warm embrace, feeling blissful.
“I have never noticed Seoul’s nightlights were this beautiful.” said Hyun Chul.
“Yes.” Her head didn’t want to leave his side.
As long as he was there, any place was beautiful to her.



On the morning of the second day, they took a flight to Jeju. After being seated, a flight attendant smilingly walked up to them.

“Mr.Yun, what a coincidence to meet you again.”
Sun Mi noticed the flight attendant gazing at Hyun Chul from the moment they stepped onto the plane.
“Hi, you changed your flight route to domestic?” Hyun Chul politely inquired.
“Yes, I only started last month.”
The two chatted until it was time for the plane to takeoff before the flight attendant returned to her seat.

“Do you know her well?” Sun Mi nonchalantly asked.
“We met when I took an Asiana flight to Taipei.”
Hyun Chul answered Sun Mi as he flipped through the newspaper.
“Only like that?” Sun Mi couldn’t help asking.
Hyun Chul could hear the jealousy in Sun Mi’s words.
He turned his head to Sun Mi, smilingly inquired: “How else do you want it to be?”
“Sheesh, even just flying on a flight, you have to be so chummy with the people.” Sun Mi grumbled.
“Oh, you are not jealous, are you?” Hyun Chul’s eyes were shinning with amusement.
She glared at him and turned her head away to ignore him.
Hyun Chul smiled feeling extremely pleased to see her so green with envy.

Not much time had passed when that flight attendant was pushing the meal cart towards them.
Sun Mi got a bottle of carbonated water; Hyun Chul shook his head.
“Mr Yun, we also have wine and coffee.” That flight attendant prompted Hyun Chul once again.
Hyun Chul only waved his hand politely to decline as he kept his attention at the newspaper. The flight attendant left with embarrassment.
“Yun Hyun Chul, why were you so frosty to her?” She asked him.
“I was afraid someone might get jealous!”
Sun Mi got up and got a bottle of carbonated water for Hyun Chul.

The flight from Seoul to the Jeju Island takes about an hour.
As they were getting off the plane, Hyun Chul informed that particular flight attendant, “This is my girlfriend.”

As they exited the airport, Sun Mi instantly felt the fresh breeze and immediately opened up her arms to take a deep breath, which caused Hyun Chul to laugh at her childlike manner.

The hotel they had reserved was located on the southern end of the island near the chinese tourist district, which was about an hour away from the airport. Hyun Chul instructed the driver to take the western part of the coastal highway, this took more time but the beautiful scenic route was worth seeing. The driver struck up a conversation with them the moment the two got into the car. The driver was about fifty years old with a very warm friendly attitude.
“The two of you must be on your honeymoon!” the driver observed.
Both glanced at each other and blushed with embarrassment.

“I guessed correctly! I can see mister is ultra considerate to this miss, both of you has the husband and wife look…” the driver spoke with amusement.
Hyun Chul smiled as he looked at Sun Mi while holding tightly to her small hand.
From the moment they got into the car till now, the palms of their hands has not separated but held tightly against one another.

The west side of Jeju Island is surrounded by water, there are mountains, forests and there is even a volcano. Besides having clear blue water and unending vastness of beaches, there are also beautiful golden fields and mysterious rock formations that can be seen everywhere mixed in with different color roof tops like blue, red and green to give the island a sense of dynamism.

The driver was very chatty, he told them about the local customs, and stopped at every well-known scenic spot to let them view the scenery. Since it was Sun Mi’s first time to Jeju, she asked the driver a whole lot of things since everything was new and fascinating to her.

With all that stopping, it was close to eleven by the time they reach the Shilla Hotel.

“Have a happy honeymoon. Right … if the two of you do see the Seondol, don’t forget to rub his nose, I guarantee you will have an unimaginable surprise…” The driver spoke with mysterious undertone as he left.
“What was that about?” Sun Mi asked Hyun Chul in puzzlement.
“I have no idea!” Hyun Chul covered his mouth as he tried not to laugh.

Hyun Chul said the Shilla Hotel had the best scenic views compared to all the other hotels on Jeju Island, which of course means the prices are also the highest. Sun Mi couldn’t help but chide Hyun Chul about wasting money since he already spends so much each month in plane tickets flying to and fore Tokyo.
“Like the way you spend money, how are you going to be able to save any?”
“Starting to take charge of me now? Hyun Chul chuckled as he looked at Sun Mi.
Sun Mi blushed, “I don’t have that kind of power!”
“It’s important we enjoy ourselves and have lots of fun since we don’t come here often.”
When no one was looking, Hyun Chul gave a quick peck on Sun Mi’s hand.

He brought her down the hill to a bench at the edge of the hotel’s garden.
“It’s so beautiful!” Sun Mi exclaimed.
In front of their eyes was a magnificent white sandy beach with high cliffs to form the coastline. The scene was marvelously breath taking. Sun Mi sat there not wanting to leave.

After lunch, they went to Yeomiji Arboretum and Teddy Bear Museum Exhibit where they spent the whole afternoon. Sun Mi had so much fun at the Teddy Bear Museum Exhibit that she didn’t want to leave; Hyun Chul bought her a hand-made teddy bear for her.
They strolled towards the beach as dusk approached.
The beach was covered with black, white and grey colored pebbles; the darkening clouds above the cliffs made it look like it was a direct reflection of the beach.
With the sunset shinning on the water, the ocean looked like it was wearing a golden veil.

“It’s been a long time since I have seen such a beautiful beach.” Sun Mi spoke with a sigh.
The man made beaches can’t compare to nature’s beauty or on those vacation days when the beaches are filled with people.

Sun Mi took off her shoes to pick up pebbles from the beach.
Hyun Chul paid close attention to Sun Mi.
Her deep concentration made him laugh. She had the same concentrated look that she used when working on a job as she looked for the pebbles now. He knew she must use the same kind of concentration to love him. Hyun Chul remembered what the driver had said earlier that afternoon about them looking like husband and wife; he rubbed his face as a blissful smile appeared.

“Yun Hyun Chul, you are so lazy…, and you are not helping me.”
Sun Mi used a handkchief to carry a few stones back.
She put the little stones into Hyun Chul’s pant pocket and said: “This is for you.”
“For me? Aren’t you bringing them home?”
She labored half the day over the stones and it was to give them to him.
“I am giving them to you…” after telling him, Sun Mi laughed as she ran away.
She wanted him to have something that she gave him, something that can’t be found or bought with money.

Hyun Chul’s heart was moved as he touched the stones in his pocket. He took out two pebbles and saw one gray and one beige, they were smooth and oval shaped, looking similarly like a heart. He could tell Sun Mi had paid close attention when selecting the pebbles. Hyun Chul took out the rest of the stones and put them all together, all five pebbles looked very alike.

Hyun Chul walked to Sun Mi and hugged her from behind.
“Zhen Sun Mi, you gave me your whole heart, will you be able to find the way home?” He asked her in a low voice.
Sun Mi turned around and pursed her lips to say: “Who said I gave you my heart?”
“Five pebbles, each stone represent a heart and you gave me five.”
Sun Mi’s mouth twitched a little, he could always figure out what she was thinking.
“This life and next life, your heart will only belong to me.” said Hyun Chul.
Sun Mi giggled and said: “This life and next life? Yun Hyun Chul, aren’t you being a little greedy?”
“I’m being greedy? I thought it was just your way of making a promise to me.” He lightly kissed her hair.
“A self-absorbed person…” a smile appeared on Sun Mi’s face.
“Those five stones, the real meaning is actually to be indecisive.”
“Is that true…”
Hyun Chul found Sun Mi’s lips and started kissing her…

On the second day, Hyun Chul arrived in front of Sun Mi’s room at five in the morning.
Sun Mi was still half asleep as she answered the door.
“Why are you here so early…” Sun Mi leaned her head against Hyun Chul’s chest.
“Didn’t you say you wanted to see the sunrise?”
Sun Mi shook her head furiously in Hyun Chul’s embrace and mumbled: “No…I am so tired from last night, now my hips are aching and my back hurts…”
Hyun Chul laughed as he heard it.
Last night, she had the sudden urge to learn to play golf and dragged him to the range.
Hold the putter, the stance, the up swing, the turn, the down swing, making contact with the ball and the release, his mouth was dry and tongue tied from telling her the seven movements. She practiced till her forehead was sweaty but still no signs of improvement. It seemed that she really didn’t have a talent for golf.
“I don’t know what to say…” Hyun Chul shook his head as he chuckled.
“That’s not good!” Sun Mi bit her lip.

Seeing Sun Mi’s dejected expression, Hyun Chul could only console her with sweet words, “You can’t rush at learning to hit the ball, we’ll find some time and I will teach you slowly again, I will definitely make you presentable at the tee off for I have some professional skills…” He was not boasting, for an eighteen hole course, he can hit under seventy-five strokes was no easy task.
“Never mind, you don’t have to console me, I suppose I will be stuck being a caddy for the rest of my life…” Sun Mi spoke with a sigh.
She wanted to learn to golf so one day, she could play along side him.

“What time is sunrise?” Sun Mi’s eyes started to droop downward.
“The concierge said it should be around five twenty to five thirty…”
“Let me sleep another ten minutes…” Sun Mi climbed into bed.
“Sun Mi…”
Ten minutes later, he quietly called her.
She answered with a quiet moan and turned her head away. Hyun Chul smiled faintly, as he saw that she would not be able to get up.

He sat on the bed and bent his body to look at her. Her brows were like the curves of the moon, thick dark lashes, brilliantly bright eyes, gracefully little nose, sweet sensuous lips, everything about her held him entranced to her.

He reached out to lightly caress her face, she opened her eyes slightly and smiled at him and closed her eyes again. Hyun Chul stared lovingly at the face which looked like a beautiful spring flower, a tender smile appeared on his face, did she know how much he loved her smile? Her smile made him fall for her at the first sight.

Piercing sun rays woke Sun Mi, she opened her eyes to see that the sun was up.
She turned her body to see Hyun Chul sitting on one side of the sofa with his arms folded across his chest, looking at her with a smile.
“Sorry that I fell asleep.” She apologized.
“No problem.” Hyun Chul said with a smile.
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
“I did but you didn’t wake up.”
“Did you go see the sunrise?”
“Nope.” Hyun Chul smiled shaking his head.

Sunrise can be seen anywhere but her cute sleeping face can not be seen that easily, so this was an easy decision to make.

Hyun Chul requested breakfast to be brought up, both enjoyed the meal in Sun Mi’s room.
“It’s showing some news about your family…” Sun Mi lightly poked Hyun Chul with her elbow.
Hyun Chul nodded his head, concentrating his attention on the television screen.
The news was broadcasting Won Reng Corporation’s future forecast plans, Won Reng’s spokesperson Keung Jing Lai was being interviewed by a reporter.
“Your family decided to expand the credit card business?”
“I heard my father mention it.” Hyun Chul replied nonchalantly for he usually did not ask about the family business, only when his father asked for his opinion would he tell him what his thoughts were. Ever since the Asian Economic Crisis, governments have been trying to stimulate consumer spending to revive the economy and have prompted people to spend; all corporations had seen a sudden surge in their credit card business. Now that the market has been saturated, expansion of the business increases the risk. Without proper management, another economic crisis could happen again, which was why he did not agree it was a good time to expand the credit card business.
“You dad…. he doesn’t really support you working for someone else, right?”
She noticed that Hyun Chul has not done any business with Won Reng Corporation.
Hyun Chul shrugged his shoulders and said: “I suppose not.”
“Wouldn’t you get some pressure?”
Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi in puzzlement, “What do you mean?”
“I meant to say, wouldn’t upper management put pressure on you for not doing any business with Won Reng Corporation?”
Won Reng is one of Korea’s big top three corporations.
“From Korea’s top five corporations, I have already done business with three of them, so they can’t complain, … I don’t want to do business based on my family’s connections.” He looked at Sun Mi, “Do you understand?”
Sun Mi nodded her head, he has chosen a difficult road to travel but he becomes stronger when he encounters a strong foe.
“Oyi, has your family considered changing the spokesperson?” Sun Mi smiled as she changed the subject.
“This Mr. Keung is so uptight with no smiles, a spokesperson should be professional but also has to be friendly and approachable in order to form a harmonious relationship with the media and investors! You see, a good example is from Three Star Corporation’s investor relations liaison, Chu Jau Zik.
Hyun Chul focused on Sun Mi as a smile appeared on his face.
“Oh, so you actually do listen to ….”
“Your family’s news, I have always…” Sun Mi quickly stopped herself when she noticed her slip.
A faint smile appeared on Hyun Chul; she loved him so much that she even paid attention to his family’s news.
“Thank-you for your valued opinion, I will suggest it to my father…”
“What, don’t go speaking nonsense, I only mentioned it as a casual conversation!”
“Casual conversation? Do you know, maybe if we switched the spokesperson, Won Reng’s stock might increase one or two percent, … Miss, are you interested in changing jobs to become Won Reng’s spokesperson? I will go speak with my dad…”
Sun Mi lightly smacked Hyun Chul and said: “What kind of joke are you playing? Wait until everyone sees a kid and they will pull out all their investments…”
“You underestimate yourself.”

After an early lunch, they headed westward to a Gum Guat Farm. The guidebook mentioned each year, from the October through November is the harvest time for these gum guats. The owner told them Jeju Island is the only place in Korea that produces these gum guats, from long ago, these gum guats has been seen as a valuable commodity and were exported to the North for the royals to enjoy, the gum guats produced on this farm was extremely delicious and sweet. Both bought tickets to see the farm and have some fun harvesting the fruits.

Sun Mi saw Hyun Chul handling the cutter with ease and it didn’t take long before half the bag was filled, laughing as she told him: “Yun Hyun Chul, you can come here to become a farmer, spend the day working and rest at night, it shouldn’t be too bad, why don’t you consider it?”
Hyun Chul smiled as he glanced at Sun Mi and said: “There are no tasty squashes here, or wild mushrooms, truffles, foie grais, lamb chops and fresh oysters or lobsters and other kinds of things, I’m afraid someone will not be interested…”
Sun Mi blushed, and said with a pout: “We were talking about you retiring here, what does that have to do with me?”

They left the farm, the two headed towards another scenic spot, Cheonjeyeon Waterfall.
At the waterfall, there were two stone statues on either side of the entrance. The places that they have seen in the pass two days had a lot of stones that took on human form but this is the first time to see one at such close distance. Sun Mi remembered what the driver had said the other day, feeling curious, she took a few more looks. That human looking stone looked odd with eyes, a long nose, long ears but especially the nose which was extremely long.
This place was nice but a little heavy on the man made flare, other than the three part waterfall that was spectacular, everything else was just ordinary. The two of them walked around once and came out. At the exit, they encountered a tour guide who was using english to explain to a group of foreigners about the place, Sun Mi quickly ran to the front to listen.

The tour guide was saying: “..touch the head of the stone statue will bring you luck, touch the shoulder will bring wealth…”
According to local folklore, touch the statue’s head will bring luck, but what will happened if one rubs the nose? She missed the front part of the tale.
“Excuse me, what happens if the nose is touched? Sorry, I missed the beginning…” Sun Mi used Korean to ask the tour guide.
That person took one look at her, smiling faintly said to her: “If you rubbed the nose, you will have lots of children…”
Sun Mi heard that and realized why the driver had spoken with such a strange expression on his face.
That person glanced at her and Hyun Chul and spoke with amusement: “Would Miss like to try it? It’s very accurate…”
Sun Mi blushed bright red.
“That person is already old but still playing that kind of joke!” Sun Mi pouted.
She turned around to see Hyun Chul laughing with amusement and realized what happened, “So you knew about it already? What a bad person, why didn’t you tell me about it earlier…” She raised her right fist, and gave Hyun Chul a good punch in the arm. Hyun Chul rubbed his arm with exasperation and said: “There’s no way to escape this punch no matter what time I tell you, so why not delay it till later…”
She didn’t know whether she should be mad or amuse with him.

The next stop was the Sanbanggulsa Temple.
The Sanbanggulsa Temple was built in one of the caves on the southeastern side of a cliff, which worshipped several Buddha statues. Looking at the coastline from the inside of the cave, one can see Marado Island and the Dragon Head Coast.
“Hmmmm! What is so special about the water that is dripping in this cave?” Sun Mi asked Hyun Chul.
She saw many people scooping a handful to drink.

“There is a legend…”
Legend has it that there was a goddess who wanted to see human love and gave up her immortal life to live on earth. The beautiful goddess and a young man from the village fell in love and made a pledge to be together forever. But an oppressive tyrant also fell for the goddess’s beauty and thought up a plan to have her fiancé fight at the front lines of a war. The two had to endure the split up and only then did the goddess realize the reality of love to which she made a pledge to forever protect the love of true lovers.

“According to legend… the water in the cave is actually the goddess’s tears and those couples who drink it will be protected by the goddess.”

Sun Mi whispered softly: “Why do women have to suffer so much in love? This goddess is silly to give up her immortal life to come to earth to suffer…”

Hyun Chul smiled as he reached for Sun Mi’s hand, “Maybe not…, without tasting love, how can one understand life’s beauty? I believe the goddess would not regret her decision…”
Her appearance opened a new chapter in his life: she was like a star that lit up his life.

Sun Mi looked up at Hyun Chul, his eyes reflected a deep passion.

Sun Mi smiled at Hyun Chul as she scooped a handful of water from the spring to drink.
She made a wish that the goddess would also protect their love.

It was afternoon when they reached the number one scenic site, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak at Namjeju-gun.
The two climbed several hundred flights of stairs to reach the mouth of the volcano where the area was surrounded by ninety-nine stones creating a magnificent site.
“This is the best place to see the sunrise, when you see the red rays come up from the smooth quiet sea, it gives one a new sense of hope.”
“You’ve been here before?”
Hyun Chul nodded head, “Every January first of the year, there is a “Seongsan Ilchulbong Festival”, around five in the morning, people would gather at the grassy area to set of fireworks and beating drums to invite the coming of a new year. I have visited here to see the sunrise last year and the year before.”
“Next time, I want to come too…” Sun Mi spoke with a longing expression.
“You…” Hyun Chul took one look at Sun Mi and shook his head with a smile.
“I guarantee I wouldn’t oversleep again…” Sun Mi smiled with embarrassment.

Walking down the stairs, the two arrived at the southeastern side of the cliff to see the coastal scenery and quickly hurried to the airport. They were taking the four o’clock flight back to Seoul for Sun Mi to catch the six forty five flight back to Tokyo.

They arrived at Incheon International Airport at six o’clock.
Usually it was her that would see him off, but this time, it was his turn to see her leave, the feeling was quite weird.

“Executive Director Yun, sorry to trouble you for the past two days, I had lots of fun, thank-you…” Sun Mi spoken with politely and gave Hyun Chul a handshake, feeling heavy hearted.

“I wish you were here to bother me everyday.” He held her.
He wished so much that she would return to Seoul so he could see her everyday. Logic prevented him from opening his mouth for he didn’t want to pressure her.
Sun Mi’s forehead was against Hyun Chul’s chest, “Yun Hyun Chul, What am I to do? I am already counting the days when I will see you again...”
“That bad?”
She sniffled, “How I wish there were two of me, one in Tokyo and one here in Seoul.”

“Why can’t all partings be happy?” She childishly asked Hyun Chul.
Hyun Chul didn’t answer but strokes her back lightly.

Every time she sees his silhouette leaving, indescribable emotions would well up the sadness of parting, the anticipation of reuniting; she loves him deeply that the separation is getting harder to bear.

She always thought the person leaving would not feel as bad because he is not watching the person walking away step by step. Only now does she understand that the person staying and the person leaving feels the same sadness of separation.

Sun Mi stopped as she got to the gate, with tears in her eyes, she turned around to see Hyun Chul still standing there looking back at her.

She ran through the crowd right into Hyun Chul’s embrace.

She held him tightly; she wanted to remember his warm body, his breath, his smell, his tenderness, and his smiles for she wanted to bring every single thing about him back to Tokyo with her till they meet again.



She had made arrangements with Michiko to have lunch at a new Thai restaurant near the office. As they entered, they spotted a crowd of familiar ladies from their department, and decided to join them.

Being a group of hot-blooded women, the conversation naturally turned to gossip about several new male colleagues who had just joined the company.

“Ai, during my last trip to Seoul, I heard a rumour....” Yumi from the script department started. Yumi had just gone to Seoul the previous week.
“What is it?” Michiko couldn’t wait to hear.
“Its’ about GM Yin.....”
Upon hearing Xiang Zhe’s name mentioned, Shan Mei’s heart started to pound, and she looked at Yumi apprehensively.
“What about GM Yin? Quick! Tell all!” The ladies around chorused in unison.
“I heard....he’s been visiting Tokyo on a regular basis these past few months. Apparently, he’s got a girlfriend here...”
Shan Mei smiled secretly. It was only this – she had been apprehensive for no good reason after all.
“Is that true?” “Aiyo! There’s no more hope for me, then....!”
A wave of disappointment and dejection swept through the group.

Previously, when Shan Mei got together with this group and heard news about Xiang Zhe, it was only with passing interest, even though the name was familiar. Now, the mere mention of his name sent her senses reeling, because he meant so much to her.... because she loved him.

“It may only be a rumour.....” the glum Chijo suddenly burst out.
“Why? Don’t tell me you’ve heard something else?” Michiko asked.
Shan Mei was filled with curiosity. She was interested in hearing what else was being said about this.
“My cousin works in the Seoul branch, and has regular dealings with GM Yin. Last Saturday was her birthday, and her husband took her out for a meal, when they met Yin Xiang Zhe. He even took the time out to talk to them, and said he was attending a family gathering....”
Shan Mei knew it was Xiang Zhe’s mother’s birthday the previous Saturday, and he had remained in Seoul to attend her birthday celebrations.
“What’s so unusual about a family gathering?” Yumi asked.
Chijo looked at everyone meaningfully and said, “The interesting bit is yet to come....... my cousin said the family gathering seemed to include TWO families. A lady with long hair sat next to Yin Xiang Zhe and fussed over him in a familiar way throughout. My cousin said it looked like the two families had got together to discuss their betrothal.....”
“The lady was fussing over Yin Xiang Zhe? But how was Yin Xiang Zhe’s reaction to her?...” the group started to discuss the issue.
“My cousin said she could only see Yin Xiang Zhe’s back, so could not gauge his reaction...... However, the two of them left together in his car.........My cousin said the two of them looked like a good match, like they were made for each other....”

A good match? The two of them were made for each other?
Shan Mei’s heart contracted, and left a sour taste in her mouth.
He had only told her that he was attending his mother’s birthday celebrations. He didn’t mention any long-haired lady who would be seated at his side.....

It was after ten when Xiang Zhe rang her
“What are you doing?” He sounded really happy.
Shan Mei’s jealousy rose as she heard his casual tone.
“Sulking.” Shan Mei replied shortly.
“Sulking? Who dares trifle with my girlfriend and make her angry? I’ll find a way to get him fired....”
Shan Mei couldn’t help laughing when she heard him. She just couldn’t stay angry at him.
“That’s right! Why don’t you find someone to fire you?” Shan Mei retorted.
“Huh?” Xiang Zhe was taken aback. What did he do to anger her? She was perfectly fine this morning when he spoke to her.
“I’m the one to made you angry? Can you tell me why?” Xiang Zhe asked gingerly.
“En!...Tonight you..... were ten minutes late in ringing me” Shan Mei found an excuse to avoid the issue. She didn’t want Xiang Zhe to tease her about being jealous.
“I didn’t know you missed me that much!”
“Who’s missing you? I just didn’t want to have to climb out from my warm bed just to answer your call!”
“Actually, it’s me who’s missing you a lot....” Xiang Zhe said.
“That’s way too lovey-dovey!”
“Lovey-dovey! Wait until you hear what else I have to say.....Zhen Shan Mei, I love you, I miss you, I.....”
“Yin Xiang Zhe!.....” She laughed as she tried to stop him.
“Little Miss! I’m planning to come over this Friday”
“Friday?” He always made the trip on a Saturday.
“I’ve just told you all the reasons!” He was really missing her since he couldn’t visit the previous weekend because of his mother’s birthday celebrations.
“Did you?” Shan Mei decided to play dumb.
“You’re really forgetful!”
“I’ve always only had a memory for the things that are important to me....”
“Sometimes, you can be really cruel.”
“It’s still not too late to back out...”
“I’ve already fallen too far. There’s no way out for me..... I’ll be on the five o’clock Japan Airlines flight, arriving Narita at 8pm.”
“I’ll...I’ll meet you there at the airport.”
Xiang Zhe laughed at her as he asked, “Is it because you’re missing me so much?”
“None of your business!”
“It’s too far – why don’t we just meet at the usual place.”
She usually met him at Tokyo station.

On Friday, Xiang Zhe spotted her as soon as he came out of the arrival gate. Under the watchful eyes of the crowd, the happy Xiang Zhe gave his girlfriend a huge hug. He hadn’t seen her for twelve days.
“You’re a naughty Little Miss!” he whispered in her ear.

This time, they went to Nikko for the weekend. It was the time when Nikko was covered in autumn leaves, and the two of them spent the time enjoying the scenery, visiting the historical sites, and bathing at onsen. It was a leisurely and pleasurable two days.

On Sunday afternoon, Shan Mei and Xiang Zhe arrived at the airport. It was the first time Xiang Zhe let Shan Mei accompany him there. He had always been mindful of the two hour journey to Narita, and did not let her go all the way with him. This time, he really wanted to spend more time with her, so finally let her have her way.

They were early, so they found a coffee shop in which to while away the time.
“Eh! How many girlfriends do you have?”
The question caught Xiang Zhe unawares, and startled him.
“What?” Xiang Zhe looked at her in puzzlement.
“Do you.... have a girlfriend in every port? One in Seoul, one in Tokyo, one in Taipei.....” Shan Mei started counting on her fingers as she went through the geography of the region.
Xiang Zhe frowned at her and retorted, “Yes, and you should add one more in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai, one in Singapore.....Oh! and don’t forget Thailand and Malaysia, too!”
Shan Mei felt Xiang Zhe’s irritation, and said with a smile, “I’m only teasing you!”
“You...!” Xiang Zhe sighed as he shook his head at her, “It’s not as if we only met yesterday!”
“I’m sorry,” Shan Mei lowered her head dejectedly.
Ever since she unwittingly heard the news about the long-haired lady, she had been feeling unreasonable and insecure. She really hated feeling this way.
Shan Mei sat there silently, and drank her orange juice in one big slurp.
“Is something bothering you?” He asked.
Shan Mei looked up at Xiang Zhe. Why was it that he seemed to always be able to read her mind?
“When you’re not with me, I sometimes think stupid thoughts....My colleagues said they saw you with a pretty, long-haired lady having a meal with your family last Saturday. You even left together with her. I know there would have been nothing between the two of you, but I keep feeling uncomfortable about it.....I really don’t know why I’ve become so petty...” Shan Mei said unhappily.
“Was that the day that you were angry at me when I rang you?” Xiang Zhe smiled as he held her hand.
Shan Mei nodded.
“She’s my mother’s god-daughter”
“Is she that Jin Hui Zhu?”
“How did you know?”
“When we were ice-skating at Lotte World, your nephew told me about her.”
“I forgot. And you actually remember that so clearly!”
“It’s called knowing thy enemy”
“Oh! How can you be jealous over something so trivial?”
“Jealousy does not need a reason”
Xiang Zhe stroked her cheek affectionately, and said, “You just remember this: In this world, Yin Xiang Zhe only has eyes for Zhen Shan Mei.”
“Alright, I’ll try to remember that always” Shan Mei nodded.

“It’s been a long time since I last heard this song!”
The cafe was playing “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees.
Xiang Zhe’s face was filled with nostalgia.
“Does this song have a special meaning for you?”
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Don’t let your imagination run away with you! Across the road from my home, there is a bistro that makes very good espresso. My mother likes to have her meals there, so I went with her a few times. I noticed that the owner of the bistro would play this song every day at noon, and again at 4pm. My curiosity got the better of me, and I finally asked him about it. He told me it was the song that he and his girlfriend dedicated to each other. On top of all that, he had named the bistro My Memories.”
“Really? I would like to meet this love-struck person one day.” Shan Mei replied.

That night, Shan Mei waited up until past eleven, but Xiang Zhe did not ring her. Each time he left, he would ring her from Seoul to let her know he had arrived safely. She thought he was probably tired out. After all, he had rushed over to Tokyo immediately after completing a three day conference. She resisted the urge to ring him instead.

The next day, Xiang Zhe still did not call. She tried his mobile and his home, but did not get an answer. She started to worry then, and spent the afternoon on tenderhooks.
“Hello, Is GM Yin there, please?” She finally found the courage to ring his office. His secretary answered the phone.
“Mr Yin is not in the office today”
“Could you please tell me the reason for his absence?”
“I’m sorry, who’s speaking, please?”
“I’m his....friend.”
“Is it urgent that you contact him?”
“In that case, would you like to leave a message for him?”
“My name is Zhen, and I’m calling from Tokyo.”
“Alright, Miss Zhen. I’ll let him know you called.”

That afternoon, she and her team members were called to Peter’s office to discuss a project.
Just as they sat down, Peter’s secretary put a call through to him.
“I’ve got GM Yin’s secretary, Miss Li, on the line,” Yumiko told Peter.
On hearing this, Shan Mei held her breath in suspense.
“Jenny, is your boss all right?” Peter asked worriedly, and Shan Mei’s heart almost jumped out of her mouth.
What had happened to Xiang Zhe?
“ Mmm.......Mmmm.....mmmmm......”
“OK, I see.”
Peter hung up.
Shan Mei tried desperately to read Peter’s face, but failed miserably. She was ready to weep by then.

“GM Yin....what happened to him?” Shan Mei calmly asked.
“He was involved in a car accident on the freeway last night....”
Shan Mei felt as though a bomb had exploded in her head, leaving her completely in pieces.
“How is he now?” She heard someone beside her ask.
“We’re not too sure. Jenny said she didn’t manage to speak to Xiang Zhe. It was his family who rang the office with the news and to let them know he would not be in.”
Shan Mei rushed out of Peter’s office without even hearing what Peter had to say about the project.

“Shan Mei, are you alright? You don’t look too well.” Her colleagues asked. She could only shake her head in response.

She sought refuge in the ladies room as her tears flowed. She felt responsible for this, and would never be able to forgive herself if anything happened to him. If he hadn’t visited her in Tokyo, he probably wouldn’t have been involved in that accident. His love for her was a big mistake.

After crying for a while, the fog in her brain finally lifted.
She looked at her watch and realised it was already 6pm – too late to catch the last flight to Seoul. She decided to catch the first flight out the next day.

It was noon by the time she arrived in Seoul.
She found her way to his apartment using the address she had. As expected, no one answered the door, and the security guard told her that he had not been home for two days. She rang Li Jian Lang, whom she worked with during her time in Seoul. However, he had no information for her. It seemed he didn’t even know of Xiang Zhe’s connection with the Wen Rong conglomerate.

She started making enquiries of all the hospitals, and finally found out that Xiang Zhe had been admitted to Wen Rong Hospital two nights ago. However, the hospital said he had been discharged at noon, but refused to divulge any further information about his condition. At least she now knew he had gone home to recuperate. That meant his injuries couldn’t have been too serious. Her anxiety levels finally dropped below panic level.

She really wanted to see him, even if only from a distance. She guessed that he must have gone back to his parents’ home. But where was that? She suddenly realised how little she really knew of his life. All she had cared about was him, and had not bothered about anything else around him. His father was Yin Zheng Qi, a well-known person. She naively thought she would probably be able to find out his address by just asking around.

That night, in the hotel, she went through the phone book with a fine-toothed comb and finally realised that famous people were usually not listed. She leaned against the window in despair. The sign from the cafe across the road flashed at her and bathed her in its multi-coloured light. She suddenly realised what is was – the red light flashed “Latte”, the blue light flashed “Cappuccino” and the yellow light flashed “Espresso”. Espresso! Xiang Zhe’s favourite!

From the depths of her consciousness, a thought suddenly came to Shan Mei. She bolted out of bed and grabbed the phone book again. This time she searched for My Memories.......
That bistro that played “How Deep Is Your Love” twice a day – that was the one across the road from his home.

She found two listings for My Memories, one south of the river, and one north. Xiang Zhe’s family lived south of the river.

Early the next morning, Shan Mei arrived at My Memories bistro. It was a very elegant western bistro, filled with people in suits, having breakfast. Such an elegant bistro in a wealthy residential area as this was not unusual.

It wasn’t long before Shan Mei managed to locate a mansion nearby that had a sign saying “Yin Residence” at its gate. An imposing green gate separated the residence from any intruders.

She hesitated over ringing the doorbell for a long time. How was she going to introduce herself? Could she really just barge in and announce that she was Yin Xiang Zhe’s friend? What would his family think?

In the end, she could not find the courage to ring, and silently crept away. The whole morning, she simply sat next to the window at My Memories, hoping against hope that he would suddenly appear.

“Miss! Are you waiting for someone?” a middle-aged man came up and asked.
Was this the love-struck owner of My Memories that Xiang Zhe had told her about?
Shan Mei nodded. “I hope you don’t mind? ..... I don’t even know if he will turn up.”
“That’s alright.”
“Thank you!”

She craned her neck, keeping watch over that imposing green gate. He had told her to remember that she was his only love. At this moment that thought was the only thing that kept her going. The previous night, she had tried to ring his mobile again, only to get his voicemail each time.

The minutes turned into hours, and soon it was almost noon.
“Excuse me, could I please borrow your telephone?”
She wanted to try her luck one more time. Perhaps the saints would take pity on her after her long wait....
She silently prayed as she dialed Xiang Zhe’s mobile number. The phone rang for a long time. Just as she was about to give up, a male voice answered.
“Hello? May I help you?” The voice was unfamiliar.
“I...uh...I was looking for GM Yin....” she stuttered in confusion.
“Whom may I say is calling?”
“I’m his colleague from work...”
“Please wait a moment”

She heart pounded. After a long time, she finally heard that voice – the voice she had been thinking of day and night over the past two days.
“Hello, this is Yin Xiang Zhe,” he sounded a little dopey, like he had just woken up.
“Xiang Zhe!” She exclaimed, tears filling her eyes.
“Shan Mei....” Xiang Zhe’s fuzzy brain immediately cleared.
He had been under medication the last two days, and had difficulty thinking clearly.
“Shan Mei, where are you?”
“I..... my friend is ill, so I’m visiting him....” she lied.
“How are you?” she could not help longing for him.
He could hear the emotion in her voice, and it startled him.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I’ve been worried sick because you haven’t rung me.”
“I’m sorry. I...... I’ve had to take care of some things at home these past two days....” he didn’t want her to know about his accident.
On Sunday night, a small van sped straight at him on the highway, too quick for him to avoid. It had been a head-on collision, shattering glass and leaving him with a head wound and cuts to his left arm. He had been hospitalised for two days, and had more than ten stitches in his arm. The doctors had said he would be alright as long as he had the dressings changed regularly, but his mother would not let him return to his apartment. He had had no choice but to go home with her to recuperate.

She knew he was hiding the truth from her so she would not worry. It touched her so much, she started sniffling again.
Xiang Zhe had never seen her that way, and could not let it pass, “Shan Mei..... what’s happened?”
Shan Mei held back her tears, and replied, “Nothing. It’s just that....just that I suddenly miss you so very much.”
“Is that all? You’re not hiding anything from me, are you?”
It was HE who was hiding things from her!
“I wouldn’t hide anything from you!” she said as she dried her tears. He needed to rest, not to worry. She really didn’t want to cause him any anxiety.

Xiang Zhe finally laughed, “You really miss me don’t you? It’s only been two days, and look at the state of you!”
She had been scared out of her wits, and here he was teasing her!
“Alright then, I’ll make sure I never ever shed another tear over you again.” Shan Mei challenged.
“Waaah! How can you be so cold-hearted? Now it’s my turn for tears,” he teased.
“What....what are you doing now” she asked.
“Me? I’m.......” Xiang Zhe glanced at the vitamins, syringes and medication around him and chuckled, “I’m writing a report....”
Shan Mei sighed.
“Hey, what’s that sigh about?”
“I......” Shan Mei was just about to reply when “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees came across the sound system. Shan Mei looked down at her watch, and realised it was noon.
“Oh, are you listening to some music?”
“I didn’t know you also liked this song.”
“I only remembered I had it after you mentioned it the last time.”
She thought she heard a female voice calling out to him at the other end.
“What is it? You better res...” she caught herself just in time. “You’re busy....I’ll ring you again a little later.”
“Are you at home?”
“I’m just about to go out......I’ll call you.” She hung up.
She wasn’t about to go anywhere. She intended to stay right here, with him, near him. She wanted to speak to him before she had to return to Tokyo.

While waiting, she took, out a notebook from her bag and started doodling. She drew him coming out from behind those imposing gates with a smile on his face. She carefully drew that gentle look of love in his eyes, and that unmistakable smile of his.

“That’s a good drawing! Is he the one you’ve been waiting for?” the owner was suddenly standing behind her.
“Yes,” Shan Mei smiled.

“Can you give this to me as a momento? I’ll buy you a cup of coffee in return....”
She thought about it for a minute, then nodded. She was willing to let him have her drawing.

It was almost 4pm when Shan Mei made her second phone call to Xiang Zhe. It would be time for her to leave after this.
This time, Xiang Zhe picked up the minute the call was connected. He must have been waiting for her call.
“Have you been resting?”
Xiang Zhe thought that was a strange question for her to be asking.
After he received her first call, he had been filled with energy, and had spent the time on the phone with the office, catching up with his work.
“Did you ring the office looking for me?”
His secretary had told him that a Miss Zhen from Tokyo had rung a few days ago.
“MMmmm. You didn’t call like you usually did, and I was worried.”
“Shan Mei, don’t worry. I’m fine.” Xiang Zhe said.
“I know. It really wasn’t anything important. I just wanted to hear your voice.....”
She clutched the phone, not knowing what else to say to him. She really wanted to tell him to rest, to let him know not to worry about her, to ask whether his wounds hurt, but could not say a single word. At the same time, she really didn’t want to put down the phone either, so just listened to his breathing instead......

How Deep is Your Love came over the sound system again, exactly at 4pm, just as Xiang Zhe told her.

“I have to go.”
“Shan Mei....” he didn’t manage to stop her before she hung up.

How Deep is Your Love kept running around in Xiang Zhe’s head..... He had this feeling there was something he was missing. Shan Mei’s words, the music........

Xiang Zhe suddenly bolted out of bed. He did not heed his mother’s calls, and left the house.

Xiang Zhe ran over to My Memories, but Shan Mei wasn’t there.

“Excuse me...” Xiang Zhe asked breathlessly, “Was there a pretty young lady with long hair here earlier?”
The owner looked at Xiang Zhe, and suddenly recognised him, “You’re the one she was waiting for!”
He pulled out Shan Mei’s drawing for Xiang Zhe to see, “She had been waiting since early this morning.”
“Where is she now?” Xiang Zhe asked anxiously.
“She just left for the airport....”

Xiang Zhe rushed out in a huff.... The road to the airport was jammed with traffic as usual. Xiang Zhe anxiously checked his watch again. She had a twenty minute headstart. He was afraid he was going to miss her.

“I’m in a rush. Could you please try to go a little faster?” Xiang Zhe asked the driver. The taxi driver kept his calm, almost as though he hadn’t heard.
“I have to get to my girlfriend before she leaves....”Xiang Zhe pleaded as he reined in his temper.
The young man was suddenly energised. “Why didn’t you say so earlier, mate?”
He stepped on the accelerator, and started weaving his way through the traffic.

It was 5:45pm by the time he reached the airport. Xiang Zhe made enquiries at the check-in and found out that Shan Mei had already collected her boarding pass. His heart sank. Surely she couldn’t have already gone to through the departure gate! Xiang Zhe wasn’t one to give up easily, and had no intention of giving up.

Shan Mei was in the waiting area of the main hall, trying to decide whether or not to make a last phone call to Xiang Zhe. She had forgotten to tell him not to call her tonight. Her flight was arriving at 10pm, and her father was away. She was afraid he would be worried if he could not get hold of her. After the last two days, she knew firsthand the anguish such a worry could cause.

“Will Miss Zhen Shan Mei on Korean Airlines flight to Seoul please report to the service desk. Calling Miss Zhen Shan Mei on Korean Airlines.....”
After the third call, Shan Mei finally heard it.
She made her way towards the service desk........
When she saw Xiang Zhe, tears of happiness started to flow.
She threw herself into his arms, and held on to him tightly, speechless.

“You’re here....” Shan Mei brushed away her tears as she spoke. “I can’t keep anything from you....”
“Just as I can’t keep anything from you!” Xiang Zhe sighed.
He didn’t want her to worry, but ended up causing her to make a trip to Seoul.
“Does it hurt?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in concern. There was a bandage over his right temple. “Where else?”
“My left arm was cut by broken glass and had a few stiches in.”
Shan Mei quickly released the hold she had on his left arm.
“Why didn’t you say so earlier...” she felt his pain.
She was the one who was hurting him. No wonder he had that frown on his face.
“Why didn’t you stay in hospital for a few more days? When I rang the hospital, they told me you had already been discharged.”
Xiang Zhe stroked her cheek gently and smiled, “How come you now sound just like my mother? My injuries are not serious, and there’s still a lot to do in the office. The hospital’s too restrictive, and my mother wouldn’t stop worrying, so I went home with her....”
Shan Mei nodded, “That was the right thing to do. At least there’s someone to look after you there.”
“You were at My Memories all day?” he looked at her with concern in his eyes.
Shan Mei smiled and nodded, “Thank goodness you told me about My Memories that day, otherwise I would never have managed to find your home.”
“Why didn’t you ask my secretary?”
“Ask her? She’s even more secretive than the CIA! I couldn’t get a thing out of her....”
“When I get back to the office, I’ll instruct her that she must answer every single question that my girlfriend asks, to the best of her ability...”
Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him as a smile lit up her face “Waah! Does that mean anyone ringing up claiming to be your girlfriend will get answers from her? Better be careful what you tell her!”
Xiang Zhe shot out his right arm and pulled Shan Mei into his embrace. “Are you now in a mood to tease me again? You should have seen yourself earlier – all tears and sniffles....”
The airport started to broadcast announcements for passengers bound for Seoul on the 6:20pm flight. It seemed as if Shan Mei hadn’t heard anything as she remained in Xiang Zhe’s arms.
“What now? Don’t you want to go home?” he asked as he planted a kiss on her forehead.
“I’ll go in a little while.”
She couldn’t bear to leave him.

Xiang Zhe’s mobile rang. It was his mother.
“The dressings? I’ll go to the hospital a little later to get them changed.....I’m alright.....Mom! Please stop being so paranoid....” Xiang Zhe said as he cast a meaningful look in Shan Mei’s direction. “Go home now? No way...I’m in the middle of something very important....”

Xiang Zhe hung up. “That was my mom,” he said.
“Don’t complain. You’re lucky to have a mom to fuss over you. You have no idea how much I envy you....” Shan Mei smiled.
“Alright, Mr Yin!.....I’ll take you to the hospital to get your dressings changed!” Shan Mei said as she stood up.
Taking him to the hospital? Xiang Zhe couldn’t believe his ears.
“You’re taking me to the hospital?” Xiang Zhe’s eyes were popping out of his head as he echoed her words.
“Yep!...... to get your dressings changed.” Shan Mei chuckled as she looked at him.
“You aren’t going home today?” Xiang Zhe asked in delight.
“There are some things in this world that cannot wait. One must do what one must do!” Shan Mei said as she pulled him to his feet.

At that moment, all she wanted was to stay by his side. All the other things in the world didn’t matter one single bit........



“Yin Xiang Zhe! You get out of here this minute!” Shan Mei said as she shooed Xiang Zhe out of the kitchen.

“She threw you out again, didn’t she?” Gui Chen asked Xiang Zhe with a chuckle.
Xiang Zhe looked at him helplessly. This was the second time that he had tried to go into the kitchen.

Shan Mei was cooking dinner tonight.
After watching a movie with him that afternoon, she had rushed home, and buried herself in the kitchen. She had been busy cutting and chopping for more than two hours now. Xiang Zhe really wanted to help, but she had refused him entry into the kitchen.

“No.... no way! You’ll only make yourself a nuisance in here!” Shan Mei told him.
“A nuisance?” Xiang Zhe knitted his brows, a dissatisfied look on his face. “How do you think I survived all those years on my own in England?.....My culinary skills are actually legendary amongst my classmates!”
Shan Mei couldn’t be moved, and stood resolutely, blocking the entrance to the kitchen.

“Ai! Just what gourmet delights are you preparing for our dinner? Why all the secrecy?”
“You’ll find out in good time....”
Try as he might, Xiang Zhe could not get past her into the kitchen.

“Shan Mei seems especially happy today,” Xiang Zhe commented to Gui Cheng. She had been full of laughter all the way home.

“She’s been like that since she got home last night,” Gui Cheng told him. “Then she went to the market early this morning, and came home with a whole bunch of stuff.”

Finally, at 6:30pm Xiang Zhe got what he had been looking forward to all afternoon. She served up sukiyaki, Unagi rice balls and prawn tempura.

“Daughter, how come I never knew you could make all these....” Gui Chen glanced meaningfully at Xiang Zhe. “I’m pretty sure I would never have got the chance to taste this stuff if not for you...”
Shan Mei blushed as she tried to defend herself, “I’ve only just learnt how to do this from the cook book, lah!”

After dinner, Xiang Zhe and Gui Cheng were chatting away in the living room.
“Pa, what are the two of you talking about?” Shan Mei asked casually as she entered after washing up.
“I was just saying that my daughter is not only capable at work, she can also cook pretty well, too. I must find her a husband who is just as capable – who has brains as well as brawn.”
“Brains AND brawn?” Shan Mei laughed. “Pa, why don’t you just run a competition for the man with those qualities?”
Gui Cheng laughed as he shook his head, “There’s no need for a competition, but I must make sure that my future son-in-law is an all-rounder.”
“What do you mean by an all-rounder?” Shan Mei asked.
“Well.....” Gui Cheng looked over at Xiang Zhe with laughter in his eyes. Xiang Zhe was suddenly nervous, wondering what his old professor was trying to get at.

Gui Cheng tried to bait Xiang Zhe further by calmly picking up his cup of tea, and having a slow sip.
“Well....” Gui Cheng cleared his throat. “To start with, his academic record must at least match my daughter’s..... Shan Mei, didn’t you manage to win a book grant every year during your studies? My future son-in-law must not have done any worse.”

On hearing Gui Cheng’s words, Shan Mei secretly laughed. Her father was obviously trying to tease Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe had been one of her father’s top students during his days at Cambridge. He had told her so many times.

Looking at how uncomfortable Xiang Zhe was, Shan Mei’s sense of fun rose to the occasion. “Mmmm, yes you’re right. We must first have a look at their report cards.” Shan Mei agreed with Gui Cheng as she glanced over at Xiang Zhe. “I think..... we should examine all their report cards, starting from kindergarten.......”

Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei helplessly as she took her father’s side in teasing him.
“Pa, what brawn? Maybe we should look at sporting achievements? Shouldn’t he be a martial arts expert or something like that?”
“Oh, there’s no need for that! As long as he’s been part of the Cambridge rowing team....”
Shan Mei blushed. After all that, her father had managed to pull her leg as well.

“So, my dear girl, what do you think about the conditions your ol’ papa has set?”
Shan Mei was too embarrassed to say anything more.

“They’ve put up a huge Christmas tree in the university quadrangle front of the clock tower. Shan Mei, why don’t you take Xiang Zhe there to have a look at it?”
Xiang Zhe realised that Gui Cheng was trying to let them have some time to themselves.

Hand in hand, the arrived at the quadrangle. Xiang Zhe was now familiar with this place, as they often strolled through the university together late into the night, unwilling to part.

“Aren’t you tired after all that cooking this afternoon?” Xiang Zhe asked gently.
Shan Mei smiled, “It was only a little washing and chopping – nothing really!”
“Did you enjoy your dinner?” Shan Mei asked apprehensively.
Although she often cooked a casual meal for herself, she really had no confidence in preparing a full banquet for guests.
“It was pretty good!”
“I hope you’re not just saying that to please me.”
“Just to please you? Didn’t you notice that the professor and I were scraping the bottom of the pot?”
Shan Mei was extremely satisfied with Xiang Zhe’s answer, and smiled so widely her eyes were hidden behind her cheeks.
“I didn’t know you were so good with Japanese cuisine.”
Over dinner, the professor had told Xiang Zhe about all the Japanese dishes she was good at preparing.
“Don’t be fooled by my father’s exaggeration.” She was only good at those few easy-to-prepare dishes.

Xiang Zhe suddenly stopped and frowned at her, “Don’t tell me you are preparing for marriage to a Japanese man!”
“What rubbish!” Shan Mei pulled away from Xiang Zhe.
Xiang Zhe reached out and pulled her back into his arms.
”You angry at me?” he whispered in her ear.
“Only because you say such silly things! I’m not going to cook anything for you any more!” she sulked.
“Oh dear! What’s going to happen to me then? I’m counting on you to feed me for the rest of my life!” Xiang Zhe said with a straight face.
“You...!” Shan Mei blushed profusely. “What has the rest of your life got to do with me? It’s none of my business!”
“If it’s not your business, then it’s no one’s business!”
“Well, it’s really up to you to decide who can have a say in it.”
“There’s no one else in this world who can have a say in my life except you” he stated baldly.
“That’s what YOU say ....” Shan Mei retorted as she gave him a shove.

“Oi, you seem to be in a really good mood today.”
“Mmm,” Shan Mei smiled as she nodded.
“Can you tell me why?”
“Well...” She had been holding it in all day – it seemed he really didn’t know about it.
“Peter rang me yesterday...”
“What did he say?”
“He said.... I’m being promoted this year.”
“That’s wonderful!” Xiang Zhe was full of happiness.
It normally took three years to make the grade from manager to vice-president. She made it in two.
“No wonder you’re so happy. Haven’t you told the professor yet?”
“Not yet. It hasn’t been officially announced yet!”
“I haven’t had the time to look at the latest HR report yet.”
He had flown directly to Tokyo from Taipei.
“It shows you really can’t tell a book by its cover...”
“What?” Shan Mei didn’t quite understand what he was getting at.
“No matter how I look at it. You don’t look like an investment banker to me,” Xiang Zhe smiled.
“What are investment bankers supposed to look like?” Shan Mei asked.
“Well..... all the investment bankers I know have this ruthless, aggressive look, like they’re ready to eat up their clients any minute.”
Shan Mei doubled up in laughter, “You’re exaggerating!”
“I’m not!.... You’re different.”
“How so?”
“Um.... you’re demure, have a gentle voice and you love to smile. The first time I saw you when you were supposed to assist me, I was really worried that you wouldn’t be able to handle the work.....”
“And now?”
“And now, I’m completely mesmerised by you,” he said as his arms circled her waist.
“You’re so good at making me feel good...” she said sweetly.
“That’s because I love you so much....” Xiang Zhe said his lips met hers.
If they had not been interrupted by a passerby, he would have kissed her till he had his fill.

They found a quiet corner and sat down. The Christmas tree was decorated to multi-coloured flashing lights that brought a warm atmosphere to the chilly night.
Shan Mei leaned against Xiang Zhe and said, “Xue Zhang, I feel that I’m so lucky.....”
Xiang Zhe laughd, “You deserve it after all the hard work you’ve put in. It’s got nothing to do with luck.”
He had witnessed first-hand the dedication she put into her work.
Shan Mei giggled and looked up at Xiang Zhe, “I wasn’t talking about work....”
“I feel so lucky to have met you....” Shan Mei’s face was filled with happy contentment.
“It is I who is lucky...” Xiang Zhe whispered as he kissed her passionately.

The next day they went shopping. Although it was still three weeks to Christmas, the shopping centres were decorated to the hilt, and a festive atmosphere hung in the air.

By now, Xiang Zhe was familiar with Tokyo, and Shan Mei generally let him decide where to go when they were together. It didn’t matter whether they went to the movies, or to a cafe, or went shopping, or even just wandered around. All she wanted was to hold his hand as they made their way about, and savour that feeling of happy contentment.

“Zhen Shan Mei, you’re shopping here too!”
Shan Mei turned around. It was Kobayashi Keiko from the office. Keiko was the quintessential career woman, a year her senior. Under her smiling exterior, her words were often full of double meanings and innuendoes. When Shan Mei was first transferred to the Tokyo office, she had often been the target of her sharp tongue and hidden criticisms. As a result, she always tried to keep away from Keiko as much as possible. Of all the people to bump into! Suddenly, Shan Mei completely regretted coming here to window shop.

“GM Yin!” Keiko was flabbergasted to see Xiang Zhe standing next to her. “Are you..... shopping here together?” Even though Keiko’s words were cordial, her expression remained cold and unfriendly.
“Kobayashi-san! What a coincidence that you’re here too...” Xiang Zhe replied unhurriedly. “We were just having a look around.”
“GM Yin, you memory is really good. I’ve only been to Seoul once, and you actually remember my name.” Keiko smiled.

Xiang Zhe continued to hold Shan Mei’s hand. Shan Mei did not make any attempt to let go either. He was really delighted that she was willing to stand up to the scrutiny of her colleagues. Although they hadn’t planned to disclose their relationship, it was only a matter of time before people found out.

Shan Mei quietly stood behind him as Xiang Zhe and Keiko made small talk. Xiang Zhe was troubled by Shan Mei’s silence.

Turning around, he saw her biting her lip, discomfort and shyness written all over her face.

“We really have to get going,” Xiang Zhe made his escape. Shan Mei merely nodded in Keiko’s direction.

The two of them turned around and made tracks, leaving Keiko far behind.
“Yin Xiang Zhe, I won’t dare to show my face at the office tomorrow....” Shan Mei said with a mournful look on her face.
She was sure there would be lots of stares and whispers when she turned up for work.
“Stop acting like it’s the end of the world,” Xiang Zhe laughed as he shook his head at her.
“You can laugh! It’s all your fault for heading where the crowds congregate,” she started to complain.
Xiang Zhe could only smile in reply. It had been her idea to come here in the first place.
“Things will get easier after tomorrow. You can’t expect to hide me away for the rest of you life.”
“But you know how easily embarrassed I am!” Shan Mei pouted.
“That’s true, but what can I do?” Xiang Zhe said as he pretended to be in deep thought. “I tell you what. Why don’t you just resign, and come live with me in Seoul.....”
Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him, “And what kind of perverted suggestion is that?”
“Oh, forget it!” Shan Mei sighed, “What’s done is done. I’ll just have to grow a thick skin for tomorrow.”

“When your colleague called out to you just now, I thought you would instantly let go of my hand. I certainly didn’t expect you to calmly leave your hand in mine...” Xiang Zhe said smugly.
Shan Mei merely smiled in reply.
She had originally wanted to pull her hand back, but decided not to. They hadn’t done anything to be guilty about, and pulling back would only emphasise the evidence.

“Don’t worry too much about it. Just use the announcement of your promotion tomorrow as an excuse to bribe your way out of this. It will blow over in no time.” Xiang Zhe suggested to Shan Mei before he departed.

“I know what to do.”
“Xiang Zhe...” Shan Mei called after him, “Please don’t ring me in the office tomorrow....”
Xiang Zhe nodded, “OK, I’ll ring you tomorrow night at home, then.”
“Little Miss! How about a smile? It pains me to see you looking like this....”
Shan Mei finally smiled.
“That’s more like it!” Xiang Zhe said as he stroked her cheek.

The next day, it was just as she expected. Speculative glances followed her as she made her way into the office. Obviously, the matter had already made its way around, first thing that morning. Thankfully, she had an early meeting at the stock exchange, and was able to avoid most of it.

“Congratulations, Shan Mei!”
“Shan Mei, we’ve heard all about it. You’re pretty good at keeping secrets aren’t you!”
“Shan Mei, when did you start seeing GM Yin....”
Her colleagues’ interest in the relationship between her and Yin Xiang Zhe completely outweighed their interest in the news of her promotion.
Shan Mei only smiled in reply.

“Flowers for Miss Shan Mei...” the delivery man from the flower shop was holding a bouquet.

Keiko remarked acidly, “And the boyfriend sends flowers as soon as the news is announced...” as she snatched up the card sitting in it. “Let’s just see what he has to say...” Keiko was determined to make things difficult.
Shan Mei frowned as her heart started to pound. How could he! She told him not to ring her, and he sends flowers instead! She was ready to wring his neck.

Keiko opened the card, and her face changed as she handed it back to Shan Mei. Shan Mei looked down at the card, and realised that it was her father who had sent the flowers.

That evening, Shan Mei took the department out to a restaurant in Roppongi for dinner and karaoke, as a celebration of her promotion. Other than Keiko, everyone turned up.

Michiko took Shan Mei aside for a confidential word.
“This morning while you were away, Keiko was saying some terrible things...” Michiko said righteously.
‘What...what did she say?” Shan Mei asked apprehensively.
“She said..... you are less competent than her, and that if not for your relationship with GM Yin, you would never have been promoted before her.”
“You mean.......Keiko had been left out in this round of promotions?” Shan Mei was startled.
“That’s right. She didn’t get promoted.”
No wonder Keiko was so sour about the whole episode.
“So.... what did the others say?” Shan Mei was worried.
“What could they say? You managed to pull through 5 projects last year, and six this year. Keiko didn’t manage to do anything near as much. We all have eyes. Who’s going to bother with her ranting and raving? They were much more interested to hear about your relationship with GM Yin....”
Shan Mei felt a sense of relief.

“Hey woman! You are really something else. You’ve even kept me in the dark about your relationship with Yin Xiang Zhe. When did all this happen? You’d better start letting me in on it....”

The party kept going until well past 10 o’clock, and it was already eleven by the time she got home.

“Why did you stay out so late?” Xiang Zhe reprimanded.
He had been worried, and had already made four or five calls to her home.
Shan Mei could hear the displeasure in his voice.
“Are you angry at me? Sorry, lah!” Shan Mei cajoled.
On hearing his girlfriend’s tone of voice and apology, Xiang Zhe couldn’t even pretend to be angry any more.
“I’ve been worrying about you all day.”
“I did as you told me, and bribed my colleagues by taking them out to dinner!”
“And so?”
“And so......I blew a whole month’s salary in one night!”
“Sounds like it worked.”
“What makes you think so?”
“You don’t sound too unhappy to me...”
“You’re right. I’ve finally found peace. I didn’t sleep a wink last night worrying about this...”
“And that Kobayashi-san?”
“Why did you specifically ask about her?” Shan Mei was surprised.
Surely what she had said couldn’t have already reached his ears?
“She looks like the sort who is really hard to please.”
“Hmmm!” Shan Mei sighed. “You can’t please everybody all of the time.”
“I’m glad you realise that.”
“Mmmm, Xue Zhang.... thank you!”
“What for?”
“Thank you for your brilliant suggestion!”
“In that case, how exactly are you going to thank me?”
“Ummmm.... I take you out to dinner.”
“Out to dinner? That’s too expensive.”
“In that case, I’ll cook you dinner.”
“That means I’ll be exiled from the kitchen and have to entertain myself for half a day. That’s not good enough!”
“I’ll take you out to a movie...?”
“There’s really nothing interesting showing at the moment.”
“Aiyo! Then what do you want me to do?”
She was tired of guessing.
“I want a present. I want you to give me a present.”
“What kind of a present? I hope you don’t intend to ask for the moon....”
“Don’t worry, the present I want won’t cost you a you know the story about the prince, his princess and roses?”
The story about the prince, his princess and roses? She couldn’t for the life of her remember what it was all about.

“You just take your time...... by the way, have you seen the flowers I sent?”
“Flowers? Hang on a minute, Dad’s calling me.”
Gui Cheng walked into Shan Mei’s bedroom and saw her on the phone, “Is that Xiang Zhe?”
Shan Mei nodded.
“He’s been trying to get hold of you all night. And he’s sent you some flowers. They’re on the dining table.”

Shan Mei took her mobile with her to the dining room, and could not miss the huge bouquet of red, long-stemmed roses.
“Have you gone mad? Do you have any idea how big this bunch of roses is?” Shan Mei teased Xiang Zhe.
“My girlfriend’s been promoted. I have to do something special!”
“It’s only a small promotion, and you send me such a huge bouquet. When I get promoted to general manager, you’ll probably have to buy out the flower shop....!”

“So! You have your eye on the general manager’s position, do you?” Xiang Zhe asked as he laughed out loud.
“Of course! And I intend to get there before I turn thirty-two.” Shan Mei teased.
Xiang Zhe was made General Manager when he was thirty-two.
“In that case, we will have two general managers in our family.”
“What family are you talking about? Who’s part of your family?”
“If you’re not part of my family, then who is?”
“Yin Xiang Zhe, if you don’t stop this nonsense, I’m going to hang up....”
“Waaah! You’re so fierce! Looks like you have the right attitude to become general manager.”
Shan Mei burst out laughing. “Are you finished?.... I’m going to bed. I’ve had dinner with my colleagues, and sang a few songs with them – I’m tired already.”
“You sang? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you sing before.”
“Actually, I’ve got lots of talent you don’t know about. It will take me three days and three nights just to list them all out....”
“Is that so?” The sound of Xiang Zhe’s laughter reverberated through the phone. “I must really set aside three days and three nights so you can tell me all about it.”
“You’ll have to make an appointment first.”
“Alright, alright, my talented lady. I won’t keep you up. Rest well.”
“Good night,” Shan Mei said sweetly.
“Good night. Oh! And try to remember that story of the prince, his princess and the roses.”

Shan Mei lay in bed trying to remember that story about the prince, his princess and the roses......
“Aaaaah!...” Shan Mei suddenly sat up.
She finally remembered.
It was a story about a prince who grew beautiful roses, and demanded a kiss from his princess for each rose. In the end, the princess had to give the prince a hundred kisses for the hundred roses that he gave to her.

So the present that he wanted from her was..... her kisses! That son of a gun!

That night, Shan Mei forced herself to keep her eyes open in order to count the number of roses in the bouquet. There were one hundred and one of them........



“Why are you here? Didn’t you say you had to attend a meeting?” Sun Mi never guessed Hyun Chul would be meeting her at the airport. She was so happy that she was hanging all over him. She had asked for leave and was going to spend Christmas with Hyun Chul in Seoul.

“See how happy you are. You are missing me that much?” Hyun Chul was hugging her.

“Hmm ...” Sun Mi happily nodded her head. She buried her face in Hyun Chul’s warm broad chest – she really missed him so much.

Hyun Chul was caressing Sun Mi’s soft silky hair “Why are you wearing so little? It is snowing outside.” She was wearing a light beige woollen pullover with a grey small checked long pant.

“I left my overcoat in my suitcase. The temperature was up to 17-18 degrees in Kyushu today.”

She was visiting clients in Kyushu in the morning. As the sun was out there, she just didn’t want to carry her coat and put it straight into her suitcase. As soon as they got into the car, Hyun Chul started kissing her.

“How I miss you!” He whispered in her ear. She could neither sustain his kisses nor ward off his passion ... A car honking at the back made Sun Mi hurriedly push away from Hyun Chul. Fortunately that car was not honking at them, if not Sun Mi would be dying of shame.

“It’s all your fault!” Sun Mi’s pretty face was flushing deep red. Hyun Chul was grinning craftily; he loved her shy look most.

“Don’t you have to hold a business report meeting this afternoon?” she asked.

“Yes, I have to.”

“Then what are you doing here?” She looked askance at Hyun Chul. “Don’t tell me you are playing truant?”

“Playing truant? You must be joking! I am always my staff’s model of behaviour.”


“Of course .... Haven’t you seen how I put business before personal affairs and desert my beloved girlfriend on the side?”

Sun Mi rested her chin on her left hand and said mischievously “From my viewpoint ..., sooner or later you won’t be able to hold on to your girlfriend.”

Hyun Chul glanced at Sun Mi, smilingly said: “Never.”

“Never? You are that confident?” Sun Mi pouted.
“You can ask the koala bear-like person who was hanging all over me at the airport a moment ago. She would never willingly leave me, right?” Hyun Chul winked with satisfaction.

“Koala bear! Who do you say the koala bear is?” Sun Mi stared at Hyun Chul with disdain.

Actually Hyun Chul had moved the meeting time to 4:00 p.m.

“You are abusing authority!”

“Abusing authority?” Hyun Chul replied with perfect assurance: “I am just readjusting my working schedules with flexibility. That is the only advantage of being the boss.”

“That’s not fair.” Sun Mi said defiantly.

“Da Rong’s dinner commences at 7:00 p.m. tonight.” Hyun Chul said.

“Da Rong’s dinner? What dinner?” Sun Mi queried uncomprehendingly.

“Miss, don’t tell me you have forgotten?” Hyun Chul replied with knitted brows.

Sun Mi bit her finger and replied with embarrassment: “Darn, I have completely forgotten about it.”

Last week, Hyun Chul phoned Sun Mi letting her know that General Manager Park invited her to their annual dinner. Sun Mi was so busy with work in hand that she absentmindedly agreed to go but never put the matter to heart.

“Do I really have to go?” Sun Mi pouted.

“GM Park’s secretary phoned this morning to confirm your attendance and I told her you will be there ... OK, if you don’t want to go, I will find an excuse for you.” He just didn’t want to force her against her will.

Looking at Hyun Chul’s distressed face, Sun Mi’s heart softened. As Da Rong was one of Hyun Chul’s important clients, she didn’t want to make life difficult for him.

“I better go, it’s not as if I have anything important to do tonight.”

Hyun Chul touched Sun Mi’s hand with gratitude.

“Who from the firm is going too?”

“That’s you, me and Guk Seung.”

“Just the three of us? Why are they inviting me?” Sun Mi curiously asked.

“Maybe your performance last time was too excellent. They are missing you.”

Hyun Chul was actually wondering himself. In past years Da Rong only invited the manager and the assistant manager, but this time they specifically asked for Sun Mi’s attendance.

“Don’t joke.” Sum Mi laughed. “Xue Zhang...”

“Hmm?” Hyun Chul turned to look at Sun Mi.

“Huh ... Nothing.” Sun Mi smilingly shook her head.

“Really nothing?” The way Sun Mi stopped what she was about to say made Hyun Chul worry a little.

“If you really don’t want to go, please don’t force yourself.”

“No, it’s not what you think!”

Just now she realized that she had nothing suitable to wear but that was a small problem she could fix herself.

Entering the city area, Hyun Chul’s car was going towards the direction of Seocho. Sun Mi asked, “Which hotel have you booked me into?”

Hyun Chul glanced at Sun Mi and smilingly said “Haven’t we agreed that you are to stay in the Yun’s Hotel?”

Face flushing, Sun Mi said with a pout “Who has agreed with you ...”

“I thought you have agreed.”

“I will take charge of your food and dwelling, including first class room service and a piano concert before bedtime ...” Hyun Chul said gleefully.

Hyun Chul saw that Sun Mi was still hesitating, said jokingly: “Hey! Why are you so scared? I won’t eat you!”

“Aiyo!” Sun Mi angrily hit him with one fist.

Hyun Chul smilingly shook his head: “Let’s go back to my place to drop your luggage. If you really want to check in a hotel, I will take you there tonight?” He was familiar with her temperament and he could only go along with her will, placating her.

After putting Sun Mi’s luggage in the guestroom, Hyun Chul had to return to the office in a hurry.

“Call me if you have problems?” Hyun Chul said.

“Can I look around?” Sun Mi smilingly replied.

“You are most welcomed.”

He kissed her on the cheek and left with satisfaction.

In the guest room, all bedroom supplies were provided with nothing amiss. Hyun Chul’s thoughtfulness and attention made Sun Mi’s heart burst with sweetness.

That was the second time she came to Hyun Chul’s residence; the first time was about ten months ago when they celebrated after obtaining Da Rong’s letter of appointment and several of their colleagues persuaded Hyun Chul to continue the celebration there. That time Sun Mi came here as a guest with Hyun Chul being the boss, so apart from the living room, she was too embarrassed to have a good look at the rest of the place.

There was a new set of audio/visual hi-fi system in the sitting room and the rest of the layout remained unchanged. Sun Mi’s vision was attracted by a radiant crystal vase inside the display cabinet, holding five beautiful lustrous pebbles which Sun Mi gifted to him ... a big smile crept up on Sun Mi’s beautiful face.

Sun Mi wandered in and out of the place once. Apart from being too embarrassed to look into Hyun Chul’s bedroom with closed door, she checked to look into the study, dining room and balcony, not missing one place. Her heart was filled with blessings as here was where her beloved lived and which was filled with his spirit.

The cell phone was ringing. Hyun Chul bent his head and saw the dialler’s ID and smirked as it was she who called. Hyun Chul excused himself, got up and went outside the boardroom.

He was having a meeting with the managers responsible for the PRC region business and they were discussing the placement of the Chinese Development Bank in the US stock market. He had been cultivating this case for a period of two years ever since he took over the Asia regional business and it would be blossoming and bearing fruit in the first half of coming year. The PRC regional head came to Seoul to report on progress and as there was definite plan and strategy for this case, the meeting atmosphere was very relaxing and they focussed more on the development aspects in Beijing rather than on the business side of things.

“What can I do for you? Miss Jin Sun Mi.” Hyun Chul happily asked.

It had only been about one hour and she couldn’t wait to call him.

“I want to borrow your computer to search something in the internet...”

She called in order to ask for his login name and password.

“Aye, you are just asking me for this and I thought you were missing me already ...” Hyun Chul feigned disappointment in his voice.

“Don’t be too smug ...”

Sun Mi’s laughter drifted into Hyun Chul’s ear, how he loved to hear her sweet clear voice!

“Hey, how do you come into possession the sketch which I gave to the owner of My Memories?”

Sun Mi saw the pencilled sketch underneath the glass on the desktop and asked with a crooked grin.

“Oh, that ... I dallied with the owner for a few days and he was so touched by my sincerity that he reluctantly gave way.”

“He had the audacity to give that sketch to you without asking my permission, rotten man!”

“Have you forgotten the owner is a man with sentiments? But for that sketch, I was fiercely reprimanded by him ...”


“He said ... How could I let you waited for a whole day before appearing ... he also said .. that girl was so love-struck that I should never fail her.”

Sun Mi broke into laughter “Yun Hyun Chul, you are exaggerating ...”

“Exaggerating? If you don’t believe me, tomorrow I will take you there and you can ask him face to face.”

“You are annoying! Don’t ramble, I am asking you serious matters.”

“Miss, it seems you are the one who was interrogating me?”

Sun Mi laughed with embarrassment.

“The user ID .. should be your name ...” Sun Mi was keying in Hyun Chul’s name while speaking.

“You are so clever, aiyo, please don’t misspell my name again! Chul spells with an “u” instead of an “a”.” Hyun Chul mockingly said.

“What are you saying? Only an idiot would ...” Sun Mi stopped her words, remembering herself being the full scale idiot, misspelling his name the first time she emailed him and had the email returned undelivered.

“OK, Yun Hyun Chul, I haven’t asked you why did you peep into my mail?” She turned the table and accused him.

“Please, I was reading the mail you sent to me! That was not peeping?” Hyun Chul retorted.

“You lousy man!” Sun Mi pouted smilingly. “You will pay for it tonight.”

Hyun Chul’s face bore a satisfied smile; if she were there with him, he would have taken a sweet punch from her.

“Wow! You are so fierce.”

“Hey, your password?” Sun Mi asked in an unfriendly tone.

“Oh, the password ...” Hyun Chul’s tone became gentle, “the password is my most beloved’s birthdate ... 0607.”

There was silence at both ends of the phone as no words needed to be spoken. At this hour and moment, they were overwhelmed with tides of happiness.

“See you tonight.” Sun Mi smilingly hung up.

Hyun Chul returned home after 6:00 p.m.

“You’re back?” Sun Mi came out from her room.

Hyun Chul was bewitched, his eyes gazing at Sun Mi. Attired in a black dress with high waistline, her whole body emitting a whiff of romantic and serene elegance. The perfectly tailored dress exhibiting her beautiful figure in great detail; her fair white skin contrasted with the black velvet appeared extraordinarily enticing; her beauty and femininity seducing his optical nerve and his body cell. She let him palpitating with excitement and made him prostrated with love.

“Your dress is newly bought?” He asked her.

“It’s rented.”

She also bought a pair of narrow high-heeled shoes to match the dress.

“I didn’t bring with me any suitable clothes to wear, and as I don’t want to waste money buying something I don’t normally wear, the only way is to rent something. I was quite lucky and found a shop on the internet which sells European couture and never thought that they have so many styles to choose from.”

No wonder she wanted to surf the internet.

“Do I look alright?” She shyly asked Hyun Chul.

“Hmm ... very pretty, very alluring ...” Hyun Chul replied with his heart on the sleeve.

She shyly moved to Hyun Chul’s behind as his gaze made her heart flutter.

“Aiyo,” Sun Mi pouted: “What are you doing? It looks as if you haven’t seen me before ...”

“I have never seen you so sexy and alluring!” Hyun Chul pulled her into his arm.

“It’s just that the dress is a bit shorter, why are you so surprised, everyone is dressing up like this outside!” Sun Mi pouted, already regretting the choice of this dress.

They arrived at the dining place punctually. The dinner took place in the dining hall of Hyatt Regency Hotel and the whole place was rented by Da Rong. Da Rong’s Chairman and General Manager were greeting the guests at the door. Sun Mi met with GM Park a few times when she was doing the Da Rong case.

“Chairman Lee, how are you?” Hyun Chul bowed to greet Chairman Lee Min Doc. Sun Mi met with Chairman Lee once when she went with Hyun Chul to Da Rong last time to report on progress.

“GM Yun, thank you for coming.”

While Chairman Lee was greeting Hyun Chul, his eyes were glancing at Sun Mi.

“Chairman, this is Miss Jin Sun Mi.” Park Sang Hyun made the introduction.

“Miss Jin, long time no see! You are getting more beautiful. Isn’t she, Sang Hyun?” Lee Min Doc laughingly said.

“Chairman, you are teasing me.” Sun Mi smiled with embarrassment. She had only met with Lee Min Doc once. During that meeting, she hadn’t even uttered one word, so Lee Min Doc wouldn’t have any impression of her. In the business world, she was used to people paying routine compliments.

“Oh, Chairman Lee seems to have a deep impression of you.” Hyun Chul said.

Sun Mi broke into laughter: “That’s just polite talk and you believe it’s true!”

Hyun Chul shook his head saying: “Chairman Lee seldom jokes.”

“Maybe he concluded a successful deal today and is in a special good mood.” Sun Mi mischievously replied.

“Jin Sun Mi!” Someone was calling her from behind.

Sun Mi turned around and saw Jang Guk Seung, Hyun Chul’s assistant.

“How are you, Assistant Manager!” Sun Mi smilingly greeted Jang Guk Seung.

Jang Guk Seung teasingly glanced at each of them. He had heard much about the relationship between Hyun Chul and Sun Mi.

“When did you arrive Seoul?” Jang Guk Seung asked.

“At about midday.”

“Oh!” Jang Guk Seung laughingly said: “No wonder when I invited GM Yun to lunch today, he declined my invitation. Hyun Chul, you certainly value feminine charms more.”

Jang Guk Seung seized the chance to taunt Hyun Chul. Although they had been working together for years as principal and subordinate, privately they were good friends. As soon as Jang Guk Seung had spoken, Sun Mi’s face flushed with embarrassment. Jang Guk Seung chatted with Sun Mi for a while before he was called away by a friend but before he left he told Sun Mi meaningfully “There are lots of places to see in Seoul, let Hyun Chul show you around!”

When they were led to their seating places, Hyun Chul couldn’t help feeling perplexed. He and Sun Mi were both arranged to sit at the main table with both couples of Lee Min Doc and Park Sang Hyun, together with Lee Min Doc’s eldest son, Lee Jae Hyung who was Da Rong Industry’s general manager, and members from three important clients who had frequent dealings with Da Rong. It did not seem strange to Hyun Chul as he sat with Lee and Park at the same table during the last few years when he attended Da Rong’s year-end dinner, but it was most uncommon that Sun Mi was arranged to sit with them. Sun Mi saw her own seating arrangement and flabbergasted on the spot, but as she was unable to decline, she had to sit down with unease.

She was arranged to sit between Mrs. Lee Min Doc and Lee Jae Hyung. Mrs. Lee not only took care of Sun Mi enthusiastically, but also asked her information about her family, her schooling and her career. Sun Mi was puzzled but still answered the elder’s questions politely and with respect.

Hyun Chul felt things were getting a little bit shady, and while idly making conversations with other male guests in the same table, couldn’t help paying attention to Sun Mi’s situation.

“Miss Jin is really distinguished, not only are you pretty, but also capable!” Mrs. Chairman was repeatedly praising Sun Mi.

“Jae Hyung, please take good care of Miss Jin! You are not to neglect your hospitality.” Mrs. Lee was winking at her son.

“True, Jae Hyung, it’s rarely that Miss Jin comes to visit from Tokyo, you have to take good care of Miss Jin.” Even Park Sang Hyun egged him on the side.

Hyun Chul suddenly realized that Park Sang Hyun was matchmaking for Lee Jae Hyung; no wonder he repeatedly arranged through Hyun Chul for Sun Mi to attend tonight’s dinner.

Hyun Chul seeing that Sun Mi was still chatting with mother and son with a charming smile, silently sighed that this girl shouldn’t be so dim-witted that she was not made aware of what was going on!

Under his mother’s reminder, Lee Jae Hyung was very attentive to Sun Mi, constantly getting the food and drinks for her.

“Happy New Year to you, Miss Jin.” Lee Jae Hyung raised his glass inviting Sun Mi to drink together.

“Thank you GM Lee, I can’t drink, not even one drop.” Sun Mi tactfully declined.

What a nice girl! Hyun Chul’s mouth was twitching upwards.

“I’ll ask someone to get you a fruit juice, Miss Jin. What would you like?”

“Eh ..., grapefruit juice would be fine.”

Sun Mi muttered to herself, good heaven, what was happening? She was not that dumb, she understood most of the situation. She looked at Hyun Chul seeking for help, but never thought that Hyun Chul looked unconcerned and even grinned at her.

Out of spite, she raised her glass of juice with a radiant smile, “GM Lee, Happy New Year!” and then cast Hyun Chul a challenging look.

Hyun Chul smilingly touched his forehead and looked at Sun Mi with doleful eyes begging for forgiveness. "Please don’t get angry with me! My dearest Sun Mi."

Sun Mi pouted her lips, meaning to say “It’s all your fault!”

Mrs. Lee began to speak again, “Miss Jin, how long are you going to stay in Seoul this time?”

“Hmm ... I will be going back after Christmas.”

Sun Mi neither wanted to answer nor did she want to lie.

“If you don’t mind, please let Jae Hyung show you around!”

“Oh ....” Sun Mi could neither refuse nor accept, she stayed stunned and speechless with embarrassment.

“Mrs. Chairman, you are not trying to matchmake for Jae Hyung!” Hyun Chul could not restrain himself from saying.

Hyun Chul’s words drew the attention of the guests in the same table.

Sun Mi’s face flushed deep red, staring at Hyun Chul tensely, worrying that he would utter something inappropriate.

“No wonder Min Doc always praises GM Yun for being shrewd and capable, nothing can escape your eyes.” Mrs. Lee smilingly replied.

“As to being shrewd and capable, no one in these presence can hold a candle to Chairman Lee ...” Hyun Chul saluted with his hands. “Madam, you are too late, Miss Jin is already attached to someone.”

Both Mrs. Lee and Lee Jae Hyung simultaneously reviewed their disappointment on their faces.

“Is it true, Miss Jin?”

Sun Mi nodded with a blush on her face.

“Oh! What a pity!” Mrs. Lee regrettably asked. “Don’t know who is the lucky guy who won Miss Jin’s favour?”

“Hmm ... he’s my ...” Sun Mi could not get the words out.

“He is Miss Jin’s senior.” said Hyun Chul.

All this time until after Hyun Chul rescued her, Sun Mi’s tight nerve could then relax, finally in a better state of mind to eat. The whole evening it was as if she was sitting on a pin-cushion, she ate but not tasting anything, but unfortunately, the dinner was at its end.

After dinner, Hyun Chul gave Jang Guk Seung a lift home. Sitting at the back of the car, Jang Guk Seung rubbed his tummy with satisfaction “Tonight’s foods were not bad and the wine very good too.”

On hearing these, Sun Mi made a grimace at Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul broadened his smile.

After Jang Guk Seung alighted from the car, Sun Mi pouted prettily at Hyun Chul, “Can I request you not to ask me to attend this kind of function any more.”

“How do I know they were harbouring bad intention?”

“You clearly were one of the conspirators and you had the audacity to sit there looking on with folded arms.” Sun Mi pouted her lips.

“I’m one of the conspirators? Hey .... I was the one who came to your rescue. You are a heartless wretch!” said Hyun Chul helplessly.

“You said I am heartless, can’t you think if it was not for the fact that you had your clients to reckon with, I wouldn’t attend this kind of dinner function!” Sun Mi protruded her lips.

“OK, OK, it was all my fault. Will that do! Now, I’ll let you punish me anyway you want ...” Hyun Chul shamelessly pressed near to Sun Mi’s side.

Sun Mi nervously cried out loud “Yun Hyun Chul, I urge you to concentrate on your driving, please!”

“Yun Hyun Chul, let’s go to have a night snack!”

“Night snack? Haven’t we just eaten a big meal?” Hyun Chul opened his eyes wide.

“Aiyo, how could I eat a thing when I had to sit there!”

Watching Sun Mi’s injured look, Hyun Chul could not help smiling.

“Seeing that you are looking so pathetic ... what do you want to eat?”

“Let’s go to a roadside booth to try the spicy rice cakes, please?” Sun Mi enthusiastically said.

“Oh ...” Hyun Chul scratched his head, “OK, let’s go and eat spicy rice cakes!”

On a night of heavy snow, she imperturbably wanted to eat the spicy rice cakes from a roadside booth! Well, let it be! She just needed to issue the order and hell or high water, he would keep her company till the very end.

When their car reached home, it was already 10 o’clock.

“I am dead tired!” Sun Mi leaned on the sofa.

Hyun Chul fetched her a glass of water. After eating the spicy rice cakes, she complained of being thirsty all the way home.

“Thank you.” She thanked him with a smile.

“Don’t mention it.”

Hyun Chul circled Sun Mi’s shoulder with his arm. “Have you decided yet?”

“Decided what?” Sun Mi asked uncomprehendingly.

Perhaps she had completely forgotten!

Hyun Chul smilingly asked, “Miss, you are acting dumb?”

“What?” Sun Mi replied with an expression of doubt.

“I am asking whether I have the honour of your staying here in my humble home?”

“Says who?” Sun Mi opened wide her eyes, cheerfully took away Hyun Chul’s arm and turned to enter the guest room.

Hyun Chul could do nothing except to wait for her at the sitting room. After a long while, there was still no sight of her.

Hyun Chul stood before the guest room and lightly knocked on the door.

“What is the matter?” asked Sun Mi from inside the door.
 “Don’t you want to stay in a hotel? The snow is falling heavier, let’s go now!”
There was no response from Sun Mi.
“Sun Mi! Sun ...”
The door opened with a swish and Sun Mi, in casual wear and with a face devoid of makeup, stood before Hyun Chul.
“You are getting more and more mischievous ...” said Hyun Chul.
After taking a bath, Hyun Chul heard noises inside the guest room and knowing that Sun Mi was still awake, he knocked on the door and entered the room. Sun Mi was watching TV by the bedside.

“Didn’t you say you were tired?”
Sun Mi was feeling shy with Hyun Chul wearing just a bath robe.
“Hmm ... yes I am tired, but when I close my eyes I couldn’t sleep.”
“Do you want some red wine? It may make you sleep better.”
Hyun Chul poured her a glass of red wine and Sun Mi’s face flushed red after just a couple of mouthfuls.
Watching Sun Mi’s flushing face, Hyun Chul’s heart started to enkindle.
“Isn’t it enough that you have looked at me for the whole evening?” Sun Mi drew the quilt over her face.
“I’m afraid it won’t be enough even for a lifetime.”
Hyun Chul lifted up the quilt and suddenly crawled inside.
Sun Mi squealed, and not preparing for Hyun Chul’s action, allowed him to envelop her in his bosom.
“Yun Hyun Chul... you let go of me!” Sun Mi struggled, but Hyun Chul was holding her close, with no intention of releasing her. While they were pulling and dragging, Hyun Chul’s robe loosened, exposing his strong and muscular chest, Sun Mi was blushing to the ears.
“Please go!” She was pushing him away.
“What, you are scared that I will eat you?” Hyun Chul’s words were provocative.
“No one is scared!” Sun Mi was unwilling to show her weakness.
“Really not scared?” Hyun Chul looked interestingly at Sun Mi’s show of overweening confidence.
“Who? Scared? No way!” Sun Mi replied with disdain.
Her bashful look made him love her to the bottom of his heart.
“Then, please be a good girl and let me hold you for a moment?” Hyun Chul, with chin in hand, grinned at Sun Mi.
She avoided Hyun Chul’s gaze as the smouldering passion in his eyes made her panting for breath.
“No.” She buried her face in his chest, her heart palpitating and she could not distinguish whose heart it was beating.
Hyun Chul holding her tight, murmured “How could I love you so much!” He softly rubbed her young and tender cheeks with his chin.
“Sun Mi ...”
“Do you love me?”
“What a stupid question?” Sun Mi raised her brows and lifted up her chin arrogantly.
“You can say I am asking a stupid question ..., but you have never told me you love me.” Hyun Chul was acting stubbornly like a child.
“You know the answer already.”
“I want you to tell it to my face.” He said in an overbearing way.
“Do you love me?” He was holding her face and not allowing her to escape.
“I love you ...” She willingly submitted to his possessiveness.
“You love me to what degree?” He stared deeply into her eyes.
“I love you ... love you ... to a dangerous degree ...” Sun Mi murmured, watching Hyun Chul’s handsome and affectionate face with misty eyes.
“Really?” Hyun Chul huskily asked, his breath warmly caressing her face.
Sun Mi nodded, shyly closing her eyes.
His covered her soft lips with his, ardently, delicately and passionately kissing her; he was trying his utmost to suppress the burning desire in his body.
He also loved her to a dangerous degree and he was really afraid that some day he would not able to restrain himself ...



When Sun Mi woke up, it was already 7:00 a.m.

Last night, she snuggled close to Hyun Chul, talking to him until she felt asleep in his arms. What time he left her, she never knew. Recalling how she said those words in a grip of passion that almost led to the situation getting out of control, her face flushed with heat. It was all his fault, it was his pair of fascinating eyes which threw her into confusion.

The door to Hyun Chul’s bedroom was half open. He told her last night that she didn’t have to get out of bed, she needed only to call out and he would be at her beck and call. Sun Mi slightly pushed open the door, Hyun Chul was not inside the bedroom. She called out a few times and there was no response. It was snowing outside and the temperature was severely cold, where had he gone so early in the morning?

She changed her clothes and went back to Hyun Chul’s room. She wanted to tidy up the room for him. Inside everything was in good order except the rumpled beddings. He often bragged about himself being a first class nice man in this era and it seemed to be the truth.

Sun Mi drew the curtains and the snowy white mountain top from afar materialized before her eyes. Even now she could not differentiate the mountains that were around Seoul and Hyun Chul often teased her and called her a foreigner. She bent her body to tidy up the bedding. Hyun Chul’s body heat still embedded inside the quilt and was warm to the touch. She held the quilt in her arms and she could vaguely feel his body warmth and smell of his breaths. She felt so blessed. It seemed as though she was embracing the whole world. Sun Mi tidied the bed, folded neatly the quilt and pulled even the four corners of the pillow. She looked at the work she performed with devotion and grinned happily. In fact, when ordinary and trivial matters and love were put together, it would become a form of unsurpassed happiness.

Sun Mi’s vision was attracted by the photo frame placed on the top of the bedside table. Her lips curled into a smile. Inside the photo frame were two pictures, one was with her wearing the peach red yukata at Oedo Onsen Monogatan when Sun Mi was bathing her feet in the hot spring pond water and the other was hers taken in front of a teahouse in Odaiba. Both pictures were taken when Hyun Chul came to Tokyo for the fireworks festival at Sumida and Sun Mi showed him around Odaiba. She was at odds with him secretly snapping pictures of her wearing the yukata with hem pulled up her knees.

He loved to say that that was officially their first date and it was she who invited him to Tokyo. Every time she would retort that he was thick-skinned and came without an invitation. Sometime she couldn’t help thinking that when she carelessly mentioned the firework festival at Sumida, was she hoping that she could see him again?

Sun Mi held the pictures and all the sweet memories swelled up in her heart.
 “Oh …”
Unexpectedly, Hyun Chul’s arms circled her waist from behind and it startled Sun Mi.
“What thoughts are you thinking that make you so occupied?”
Sun Mi smilingly waved the pictures in her hand.
“Yun Hyun Chul, haven’t you promised me that you would delete this picture?” Sun Mi pointed to the picture with her wearing the yukata and interrogated him.
“This is my masterpiece. How am I willing to part with it.”
“You are shameless.”
“What shameless! I am also keeping those pictures you snapped of me that day. I am a just and fair person.” His lips were nuzzling her neck.
“Hey, I have a few private collection, want a look?”
Sun Mi smilingly nodded.
Hyun Chul let go of Sun Mi and bent down to retrieve a photo album from the lower drawer. Sun Mi then noticed that he was attired in sportswear and wearing a towel around his neck.
“Where have you been just now? It is freezing outside, you will catch a cold again if you are not careful.”

Last time when they went to view the Christmas tree at Tokyo University at night, Hyun Chul was wearing so little that he caught a cold and was sick for a few days after he returned to Seoul. She worried about him so much that she phoned him three times a day to inquire about his conditions and reminded him to take the prescription.

Hyun Chul smiled “Rest assured, I only went to the gym upstairs for a workout. Haven’t I vouched to you that I will definitely take care of myself and never let you worry again.” He rested his forehead against hers and spoke with extreme tenderness.

“You must not forget your words!” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul.
When he was hurt in the car accident, she was frightened out of her wits; when he caught a cold, she was deeply concerned; wasn’t he aware of her worries?
“Agreed.” Hyun Chul solemnly replied.

As soon as Sun Mi looked over the first page of the album, she could not help breaking into laughter, “Where did you snap this one, how come I didn’t know anything about it?” She asked him.

That picture was taken when she stood gazing at the Kiyosu Bridge.
“I took that surreptitiously.” He confessed honestly.
“Oh! … How about this one? Also taken surreptitiously?” Sun Mi glanced at Hyun Chul.
In the picture, she was standing on Odaiba beach with her dress fluttering in the wind.
The next few pictures were also taken by Hyun Chul without her knowledge.
Every time after each outing, Hyun Chul would process the pictures they had taken and brought them to Tokyo for her but the ones before Sun Mi were ones she had never seen before.
“These are my private collection.” Hyun Chul proudly said.
“Yun Hyun Chu, you are infringing my portrait rights. I am going to confiscate these pictures.”
“Confiscate?” Hyun Chul laughed. “That is unfair.” He protested.
“How is it unfair?” Sun Mi thought otherwise.
Hyun Chul smilingly answered, “Miss, these also contain my intellectual property rights!”
“Where do your intellectual property rights come from?”
“How can there not be? For example, there are the rights for the scene picking and the picture composition etc. You can’t refute that?” Hyun Chul replied plausibly.
Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul suspiciously with a pair of big round eyes, half believing and half doubting him. She looked extremely adorable.
Hyun Chul tried to contain his laughter; he was not really fooling her as the property right of photography works belonged to the photographer; it was only that a portrait work of course needed to be taken with the model’s consent.
Seeing that Hyun Chul treating those pictures like a priceless treasure, Sun Mi’s heart swelled with sweetness.
“Ok, let’s treat them as our common property and I will let you keep them for the time being.”
Sun Mi turned to the next page and broke into peals of laughter.
Hyun Chul leaned forward to take a look, it was the picture of him wearing the “Thunder God” designed yukata and wooden sandals.
“Is that so funny?” Hyun Chul smacked his lips and asked.
Sun Mi laughed even harder at Hyun Chul’s response, “See how reluctant you look!”

In the picture, Hyun Chul looked awkward and helpless.
“At that moment I was persecuted by a girl bully.”
“Huh, who asked you to surreptitiously take my picture? I was just paying you back for what you had done to me.” Sun Mi cast a look at Hyun Chul while looking at the pictures, “Hey, to speak the truth, you looked so charming in the picture …”
“Really?” Hyun Chul pressed his body near and leaned his head against hers.
“Yes,” Sun Mi slightly lifted the corner of her mouth watching the man in the picture, “Your eyes looked so tender.”
Hyun Chul interrupted Sun Mi and said smilingly, “That was because I was falling in love at that moment …”
Oh, here he was doing it again!
Sun Mi pouted her lips and said, “Falling in love? Who did you fall in love with?”
“With you of course.”
“Who fell in love with you? At that time I did not even have a liking for you!”
“Really?” Hyun Chul showed a face of disappointment.
“Really!” Sun Mi avoided Hyun Chul’s glance.
“Well then, may I ask Miss Jin when did you have a liking for you?”
“Well …” Sun Mi gave a charming and feminine smile, “Secret.”
“Correct.” Sun Mi said mischievously.
Hyun Chun gathered Sun Mi into his arms and pressed her on the bed, she resisted and bellowed out loud, “Hey! Don’t go messing up the bed again; I have just tidied it up …”
“I can make it up again.” He simply didn’t pay her any attention.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
She could not move an inch in his arms.
“You certainly know what I want.”
Hyun Chul lowered his head and kissed Sun Mi’s lips.
After a long long time, she slowly woke up from a state of drunken ecstasy.
“You are so overbearing each time.” Sun Mi lightly punched Hyun Chul once on the chest.
“You are saying that I need your permission before I kiss you?” He lightly touched her cute nose.
“That is for sure.” Sun Mi smilingly turned her back.
He pulled her body over, allowing him to see her face to face.
Hyun Chul didn’t say a word, he just looked at Sun Mi with a smile.
“What are you smiling for?” Sun Mi touched her face subconsciously.
“Nothing. I just love looking at you this way.”
“Really?” Sun Mi revealed a face of shyness.
His eyes shone with great tenderness.
“Really.” He smilingly nodded at her direction.

In truth, it was not the case, but he would not dare to utter a single word, because he was two hundred percentage sure that if he was telling the truth, she would be dying of embarrassment. Sun Mi treated personal affection with reserve and shyness. There were some things that he would prefer to keep them unspoken rather than put her in an embarrassed situation. Maybe even Sun Mi herself had not noticed this gradual change! She had changed recently – she was getting more affectionate and she no longer remained the one passively accepting Hyun Chul’s kisses and caresses. She would take an active part and sometime even responded passionately. When he discovered this change, undoubtedly he was very pleased.

“Well, don’t laze in bed. I will take you out for breakfast.” Hyun Chul smilingly dragged Sun Mi out of bed.
 “Let me make up the bed first.”
“I will do it myself after breakfast.”
“It won’t take me a moment!” She shook her head, entirely without the intention of leaving.
“Let me help you!”
“No, I want to do it myself … I have done it so well just now and it’s all your fault!” Sun Mi pouted.
“It was not me alone who messed up the bed.”
As soon as his words were out, one pillow was sent flying at him. Hyun Chul smilingly caught the pillow.
“Jin Sun Mi …”
“What?” Sun Mi asked with ill-humour.
“My future wife does not need to know how to make up the bed …”
A hushing sound followed by another pillow sent flying at Hyun Chul.
“Hey, you want to train me as an acrobat?”
Sun Mi was out of breath laughing hard that she had to crouch down by the edge of the bed.
He drove her against the snow blizzard making a long detour to have soy milk, baked wheat cake and fried fritters of twisted dough for breakfast.

“When I went to Taiwan for a business trip, a colleague there took me to a shop called “Yong He” to have breakfast. The owner mentioned that a distant relative of his was also operating a business here. I came here twice and found the food quite good. What do you think? Does it agree with your appetite?” Hyun Chul excitedly said.
“The food is good, but you don’t have to drive such a long way around half of Seoul to have breakfast here.”
They had to drive for half an hour to be there and they almost involved in a car accident.
“Don’t you like soy milk, baked wheat cake and fried fritters of twisted dough? This shop sells the best baked wheat cake and fried twisted dough in the whole of Seoul.”
Although she nagged at him, she was in fact terribly touched by his thoughtfulness.

Soon after they reached home after breakfast, Hyun Chul received a phone call from Jang Guk Seung, saying that the manager in Singapore was calling for a telephone conference and asking him whether he would like to participate. Hyun Chul guessed that it must be in relation to the Singapore Telecom Initial Public Offering issue, in which case it was required to finalize the price list after the New Year and there were details that needed to be discussed and negotiated with the Singapore Government. Hyun Chul had asked for leave and Jang Guk Seung was acting for him. In actual fact he didn’t need to participate in the telephone conference. He could ask Jang Guk Seung to report the outcome of the conference to him and he could then make decision.

“Since Assistant GM Jang phoned you, I think he must have wanted you to participate, you better go!”
 “I don’t want to leave you alone at home.”
“I am alright.” She already had a plan.
“Then I would go to have a look and will be back before noon.”

Hyun Chul was feeling somewhat ashamed; just yesterday he solemnly pledged that he would definitely devote all his time to her in the next few days and would ignore his business duties. Now he had to eat his words after less than one day.
“Wait a minute.” Sun Mi called to Hyun Chul.
Sun Mi took a paper packet from her bedroom.
“This is my present for Yun Min Yong. Please give it to him for me.”
“A present for Yun Min Yong? What about mine?” Hyun Chul asked with a slobbered face.
“You are disgusting!”
“What is inside?”
“A set of Go-chess.”
She heard from Hyun Chul that Min Yong recently got hooked on playing Go-chess, so she specially requested Papa to get a good set.
“Why don’t I simply take you to my brother’s place and you can hand it to him when you see him!”
Knowing quite well that she was shy, Hyun Chul teased her on purpose.
“No, I don’t want to.” Indeed as expected Sun Mi rejected outright.
“Aye, what are you afraid of? You have managed so many cases and met with so many VIPs, why even a mention of my family will make you so frightened?”

“That is different.”
“What is the difference? They all have one nose and two eyes.”
“Hey, what is the time? Why are you still dallying here? If you don’t go soon, you will be late!”
“I’m the boss, they will wait for me.”
Even though he said those words, it didn’t take him more than a moment to get ready and leave; he was always punctual.
“Hey, give me a kiss!” Hyun Chul pointed at his right cheek and laughingly said.
“What for?”
“In the movie, the wife always gives her husband a sweet kiss when he is leaving for work.”
“I am not your wife.”
“You are mean.”
Hyun Chul smilingly turned and opened the front door.
“Xue Zhang …”
Hyun Chul turned around.
“You haven’t fixed up your tie.” She pointed to the front of his chest.
She went forward and adjusted the tie knot, “Mm … this is much better.” She looked at him with satisfaction and grinned.
At that moment, he really hoped he did not have to go and attend to his business.
“I am leaving?” He said.
“Hmm.” Sun Mi smilingly nodded her head, “Hey …” She suddenly stood on tiptoes, gripped his shoulders and kissed him swiftly on his lips.
Hyun Chul happily laughed; he asked for a candy yet she gave him a barrel of honey …

Hyun Chul arrived home and was startled by the scene in front of him. A 6 feet tall Christmas tree stood inside the sitting room and Sun Mi was busily putting up multi-coloured decorations on the tree. The Christmas tree had already been decorated magnificently, with gift boxes piled up at the bottom and several layers of colourful light bulbs circled around the tree trunk with the lights flickering on and off; it looked as though she had been busy for a long while.

“You are back?”
Hyun Chul smiled shamefacedly; he had gone for four to five hours and now was already nearly 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
“How did you think of getting a Christmas tree?”
“It is the Christmas spirit … I made the order yesterday. Oh! You don’t have to worry, they will come back to pick up the tree after Christmas.”
“Need my help?”
“Not now … You have finished your business?” She put up the last gold colour ball.
Hyun Chul nodded, “Oh yes! Min Yong thanked you for your present. He is terribly happy.”
“I am glad he likes it.”
“How is this? Beautiful?”
Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul expectantly.
“Very beautiful!” Hyun Chul looked at the Christmas tree and praised.
He embraced her shoulders, tenderly looking at her, “Don’t tell me you skip lunch to take care of this?”
“Aiyo, I wanted to hurry up and finish decorating the tree and just forgot to eat.” Sun Mi was trying to sweet talk (sa qiao) him.
“Forgot to eat?” Hyun Chul helplessly sighed, “Haven’t you promised me to have lunch when I called at noon?”
“How did I know it would take so long to decorate a Christmas tree!” Sun Mi pouted her lips.
“Aye! You are one disobedient girl.”
“There are some apples in the fridge, I will go and eat.” Sun Mi smilingly escaped to the kitchen.
On Christmas Eve, Hyun Chul made reservation at some restaurant to eat Christmas dinner.
“Can’t we eat at home?”
She bought a Swiss chocolate pot and wanted to cook for him.
“On Christmas Eve, two people busy working like an idiot in the kitchen will spoilt the mood of the festival. We can always eat your chocolate pot another day!”
“But …, I have nothing to wear!”
Hyun Chul made a reservation at Fouquet’s which was the top class French restaurant in Seoul.
“You look beautiful whatever you wear.”
She did not want to go out with him just wearing anything.
“How about the dress you wore when you attended the dinner last night?”
Sun Mi thought for a moment and her heart began to waiver.
“Then you are not allowed to watch me with evil intention like you did last night!”
She remembered the way he looked at her and could not help blushing.
“OK.” Hyun Chul naturally nodded his head in assent as when Sun Mi was in a stubborn mood, it would not be easy to pacify her.

Of course, when a charming and fascinating Sun Mi appeared before him wearing that alluring black dress, he could not help himself and stared at her with his “evil intention” eyes; even if Sun Mi were to rain punches at him, he would bear them willingly.
“Wait …” Hyun Chul held Sun Mi’s hand and led her to the Christmas tree.
“Merry Christmas!” Hyun Chul took out a pink box from his pocket.
“Thank you.” Sun Mi looked at him happily.
“Don’t you want to open it?”
“I want us to open the presents together …” Sun Mi picked up a gift box wrapped with gold paper from the floor. “Merry Christmas.” She said.
“Just now I thought this might be your present for me.” Hyun Chul smilingly said.
“This gift box was packed in an especially exquisite way!”
“General Manager Yun, you are really a man of intelligence.”
“Hyun Chul …,” Sun Mi unwrapped the box and revealed a smiling face of pleasant surprise.

What he gifted her was the “powder compact” cell phone which had just been launched to the market earlier that month. She read an article from a magazine about the launching of this new round shape cell phone and immediately fell in love with its unique design and dazzling colours. She mentioned once to Hyun Chul casually and never thought he would remember.
“You like it.”
“Yes, very much, thank you!” Sun Mi smiled happily in such way that her big round eyes curved like two crescent moons.
“It’s now your turn to look at my present.” Sun Mi said impatiently.
“It looks as if you are more anxious than I am.” Hyun Chul jokingly said.

Actually he could understand her feeling, as every time whenever he gifted her something, he always expected to see her face wearing an expression of joy and satisfaction; wasn’t he doing the same a moment ago?

She gave him a water-blue V-neck woollen sweater.
“You like it?” She looked at him expectantly.
This was her first proper present to him. When they first met, it was already past Valentine Day and she was not aware of his birthday until he let her know when it was past gone. Although she later bought him a belated birthday present, that kind of feeling was however very different.
“Yes, I like it …”
“How about the colour? The style?”
“I like both.”
“How much do you like it?” Sun Mi asked him childishly.
Sun Mi beamed happily. “Cashmere is soft and keeps you warm. The shop owner assured me that you won’t catch a cold when you wear it …. In future when you are away from home in winter, you have to remember to wear enough clothing and not to be lazy.”
In fact, she was still remembering the last time he had a cold.
“Very warm, isn’t it right?” Sun Mi took Hyun Chul’s hand and placed it inside the sleeve of the sweater.
“Huh.” Hyun Chul nodded. His hand was warm but his heart was burning hot.
Before they left, Hyun Chul attached the new cell phone to the strap of Sun Mi’s handbag.
“You are pampering me.” Sun Mi said.
“Girlfriend is for pampering.”
“Who said that?” Sun Mi laughingly asked.
She remembered Papa always said that wise remark about “daughters are for pampering”.
“I said so.”
“Hyun Chul …” She raised her head to look at him, her eyes shone with brilliant light.
“Thank you ..” She stood on tiptoes and kissed him on his cheek.
Hyun Chul smilingly touched his check, “Is this a Christmas free gift?”
“Sort of!” She coyly leaned on his chest.
“Can I buy one and get ten?” He asked her.
“In economics, marginal utility diminishes and too many free gifts lose their rarity.”

Even though it was snowing, it didn’t spoil any of the Christmas festival spirit. With the shops on both sides of the streets decorated with splendour, the street lamps wearing multi-coloured lights, the blooming poinsettia parading from the beginning to the end of the streets; the sound of Christmas carols audible everywhere and the jostling crowds in the streets, everyone was involved in the happy atmosphere of this seasonal festival.

Hyun Chul often entertained his clients at Fouquet’s and was one of the frequent guests there, The restaurant specially reserved a table for him with the best window view. Not only could they survey the faraway neon lighting decorations across Han River, they could also enjoy the dazzling and magnificent display of firework in the night space.

Hyun Chul ordered four to five dishes all at once.
 “The two of us won’t be able to finish them all!” She whispered.
Hyun Chul smiled, “You didn’t have lunch, you can just eat more!”
“You think I have a monstrous appetite?” Sun Mi smilingly pouted.
“Hey, what do the food here remind you of?” He looked at her indulgently.
“Shouldn’t it be …. do you mean if I don’t guess right, I can’t eat dinner?” Sun Mi said mischievously.
Hyun Chul beamed, “I didn’t say that.”
Sun Mi picked up the menu and began to study the food Hyun Chul ordered. A moment ago she was busy watching the fireworks and paid no attention to the dishes ordered. Foie gras, fried eggs with truffles, sesame lobsters; mandarin perch with asparagus and goat cheese desserts; while reading the names, Sun Mi’s face revealed a smile of understanding.

“Any reward if I guess the right answer?” She asked confidently.
“Two returned air tickets with your choice of destination.” He said.
“I only need one.”
“That won’t do! I can’t help worrying if you are on your own.”
“What is there to worry about?” She gave him a cold stare.
“I worry that you will meet some undesirable character.”
“Come on! What is the answer?”
“It’s … Provence, am I right?” She sweetly replied.
Hyun Chul crossed his arms in front of his chest, gazing at Sun Mi with a smile.
“You remember what I casually babbled that day?”
She chatted with him in the street of London about all the delicacies mentioned in Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence”.
“Of all the words you have spoken, I haven’t forgotten even one word.” Hyun Chul tenderly looked at her.
“Xue Zhang …” Looking at his eyes shining with gentleness and tenderness, she was nearly moved to tears.
Sun Mi urged Hyun Chun to rush home before midnight.
“What is the hurry?”
“I will tell you when we reach home.” She said mysteriously.
They reached home at 11:45 p.m.
“Thank goodness we are on time.” Sun Mi drew a deep breath in relief.
“Miss, now you can at last tell me what’s up!” He was confused and puzzled by her action.
“I have to hang the star on top of the Christmas tree.”
“What?” Hyun Chul was dumbfounded by Sun Mi’s reply.
She was rushing home in such a hurry in order to hang the star on top of the Christmas tree!
“Why didn’t you hang it up before we went out?”
“My mama said …, if we hang a star on top of the Christmas tree the moment before the dawn of Christmas, our wish will come true.”
He was visibly touched by the expression of sincerity she wore on her face.
“Come on! Get ready to hang up the star.”
He handed her the star.
“I can’t reach the top.” She looked at the height of the tree top. “Do you have a stepping stool?”
“You don’t need a stepping stool …” Hyun Chun laughingly held her up.
“Can you do it this way?”
“Hmm, I can just reach the top.”
“How long before it is 12 midnight?”
Hyun Chul looked at his watch, “10 seconds.”
“Good, I am going to hang it up …”

Hyun Chul looked up, watching her putting up the silver star on top of the tree, “I wish Yun Hyun Chul to be forever happy and in good health.” Sun Mi spoke aloud the wishes from her heart.
Hyun Chul was stunned, his eyes glistened with unshedded tears.
“What are you gawking at? Please put me down quick.” She yelled at him.
He put her down.
Sun Mi was as excited as if she had just performed an incomparable sacred assignment.
“What is the matter?” She looked at him, his expression was somewhat strange.
“Nothing important.” Hyun Chul smilingly shook his head.
Sun Mi apparently did not believe him.
“Yun Hyun Chul, tell me the truth!” She pulled his necktie and said with a threatening tone.
“What if I don’t want to tell?” He watched her with keen interest.
His gentle and loveable girlfriend had in an instant turned into a tigress.
“Don’t think you will be allowed to go to bed if you don’t tell.”
“Are you making a mistake? This is my home!” Hyun Chul didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Right! This was his home, how could she have forgotten, Sun Mi smiled with embarrassment.

“If you don’t tell, I won’t be able to sleep with something on my mind. You cannot ill-treat me this way!” Sun Mi pouted her mouth.
As it could not do by force, Sun Mi tried reasoning with him.
Seeing that she tried both the force and reasoning tactics, Hyun Chul found it funny and wanted to bait her.
“If I tell you, you must not get angry?” Hyun Chul said.
“Alright.” Sun Mi nodded obediently.
“Have you put on weight? I almost could not carry you just now. My shoulders are now stiff and sore …”
While talking, Hyun Chul crossed his hands to rub each of his shoulders.
“Really?” Sun Mi wrinkled her eyebrows. She had not measured her body weight for a long time. She must have eaten too much this evening, she mused. It was all his fault for ordering so much mouth-watering food.

“Of course … NOT.” Hyun Chul burst out laughing.
“Yun Hyun Chul …” She was so angry that she raised her fists to punch him.
Hyun Chul was well prepared; he made a bolt for his bedroom, leaving Sun Mi alone in the sitting room stamping her feet in anger.
She locked her door and ignored him.
Hyun Chul tried to coax her at her bedroom door and had been fooling around for more than half an hour before Sun Mi leisurely opened the door.
“You are making too much noise!” Sun Mi languidly said.
“If you ignore me, I won’t be able to sleep.” Hyun Chul sounded very pitiful.
“It’s none of my business.” Sun Mi tried to hold back her laughter, looking unconcerned.
“I definitely remember a moment ago someone wishing me to be forever happy and in good health. Aye! I can’t even sleep well, how can I be happy and in good health …”
Sun Mi could no longer help herself and broke into fits of laughter. Actually just now when she was listening to Hyun Chul playing fool outside her bedroom, she had already laughed herself to tears.
“In future you are not allowed to provoke me again.” She warned him.
He held up her face and said happily, “Have you ever seen anyone who can laugh so much if she is angry?”
“It’s none of your business.”
He bade her goodnight at the bedroom door.
“Thank you for the blessing wishes you made for me when you hung up the star a moment ago, but I would prefer that you made the wishes for yourself. I wish you to be happy and in good health.”
She smilingly said: “Yun Hyun Chul, if you are happy and in good health, then I will also be happy and in good health anywhere …”
“Is it really like this?”
He pulled her tightly in his arms. In real life, one had to learn to let go a lot of things, but one had to hold on tightly to lot of things too. He thanked heaven to let them meet each other, he would treasure and protect her in this lifetime.
Hyun Chul made this promise to himself on Christmas Eve.



The next day, they got up early and set off for Yong Pyeong Resorts. Hyun Chul had arranged for a 3-day 2-night skiing trip.
Sun Mi had never skied before and she was so excited that she could not sleep the night before.
"Would it be very difficult?" "Would it hurt when I trip and fall?"
Sun Mi was behaving like a child, kept asking questions on the road.
"Don't worry, there is an excellent instructor on the skiing ground who can guarantee you learn how to ski within half an hour."
"Really?" Sun Mi was still wearing a worrying look.
For a grown-up person to trip and fall on the snow in a hideous mess would surely be extremely laughable to the onlookers. She was really worrying she would be losing face shamefully.
"Absolutely." Hyun Chul patted Sun Mi's head.
They reached Yong Pyeong Resorts after more than 3 hours' journey.
"Wow! It's so beautiful." Sun Mi joyfully exclaimed.

The European style hotel standing erect in the midst of a white world of snow, together with the colourfully adorned Christmas tree, the dazzlingly white hilltop, the snow covered streets, trees, houses and small bridge and men and women wearing thick scarves and holding hot coffee in their hands, all reminded her of how they spent Christmas abroad.

They were staying in the apartment style hotel nearest to the ski runs, with each unit equipped with kitchen facilities to allow the guests to cook their own meals. On seeing that, Sun Mi declared that she would find time to cook a meal.

After lunch, the two of them went to rent the skiing gears from the hotel shop. Hyun Chul bade Sun Mi to take off her woollen pullover, to wear only the T shirt and the sportswear inside and put the skiing jacket on top.

"You are planning to freeze me to death!" Sun Mi was trembling with cold, jumping on both feet.
"Wait a while and you will know." Hyun Chul spoke from experience.
Sun Mi glanced at Hyun Chul with doubt, not quite believing him. The outside temperature was only minus 5C! After Sun Mi finished putting on her skiing pant, Hyun Chul began teaching her how to put on and take off the skiing boots.
"You are really a worthy student and a quick learner." Hyun Chul praised her.
"My shoes seem a bit too tight." Sun Mi complained.
"You have to wear your skiing boots tighter, so it would not make you trip and fall easily. It is the same way as wearing your skating boots."
"Oh!" Sun Mi nodded her head accepting his reasoning. She was a beginner at skiing and she would do what Hyun Chul told her to do.
"Can we start now?" Sun Mi was anxious to begin.
"Have you put on the sun screen lotion and lip gloss?"
"Not yet." Sun Mi smilingly took out the sun screen lotion and lip gloss from her pocket.
"The sun's reflection on the snow can be as high as 85%. If you don't want to have a sun burn, please hurry up and put them on."
"It just skips my mind." Sun Mi innocently replied.
"I don't know you have such a bad memory." Hyun Chul could not help grumbling.
"Who said that? Indeed I've never forgotten a single thing about you." Sun Mi showed a face of dissent.
Hyun Chul smirked "Really? Tell me just one incident."
"No I won't."

Hyun Chul watching her lovely embarrassed look, could not help dropping a kiss on her lips.
The look from people around embarrassed Sun Mi.
"You are annoying!"
"Why should you be so wrought up? Who can recognize you when you are looking like this?" Hyun Chul replied fearlessly.
On hearing this, Sun Mi could not help laughing.
Hyun Chul, dressed in the full set of skiing gears, made Sun Mi think of the Japanese animated cartoon hero, Ultraman Cosmos; and as for herself, wearing a pair of large snow goggles on her face, looked like a big head fly, even Papa would surely not be able to recognize her face to face.
"Ok, wear this and we can make a start." Hyun Chul handed over a pair of gloves.
"Where do the gloves come from?" She didn't see him renting the gloves.
"I bought them."
"They fit perfectly!" Sun Mi happily said.
"Of course, how could it be possible that I don't know about the size of my girlfriend's hands."
"That will not necessarily be the truth."
Michiko's boyfriend gifted her a pair of leather gloves and Sun Mi accompanied her to the shop to exchange for the correct size.
"Are you praising me?"
"Huh, a mark of reward for you."
"What is the award?"
Sun Mi stood on her toes and planted a kiss on Hyun Chul's cheek. Hyun Chul cracked open his mouth and smiled. "Aye, you are very daring! You have the audacity to carry out such a restricted action in a public place?" He tried to tease her.
Sun Mi mischievously said: "No one will recognize Ultraman Cosmos and Big Head Fly."
"Ultraman Cosmos and Big Head Fly? ..."
Hyun Chul led Sun Mi to the yellow snow run.
"There are in total 31 snow runs, divided into beginner, intermediate, advance and expert levels; the yellow run is broader with even slope and is more suitable for beginners." Hyun Chul said.
"Yun Hyun Chul, where is the instructor?" Sun Mi looked around.
"The instructor is right in front of you!" Hyun Chul tapped his chest in a self-confidently way.
Sun Mi then suddenly realized, "Such a mystery! OK, Mr. Super Instructor, let me see how skilful you are."

Hyun Chul patiently taught Sun Mi all the basic skiing techniques such as how to get on the snowboard, how to fall down, how to stand up, how to stop midway and how to change direction. After all Sun Mi had good foundation of skating skill, her sense of balance was excellent and Hyun Chul's instructions were meticulous; in a short while Sun Mi managed to get to the grid of the techniques.

Hyun Chul took Sun Mi to the top of the yellow snow run.
"You go and try to ski a short distance."
"Hmm." Sun Mi eagerly nodded her head. She couldn't wait to experience the excitement deriving from accelerating down from the top of the slope. How could anyone knew that as soon as she made a turn, her body lost control, slipped and fell down in a heap; it was much better in her second attempt.
"Don't be impatient. Practize a few times to get familarized with the basic techniques, then you can slide freely."

Hyun Chul was a strict instructor; he wanted Sun Mi to slide to a designated spot and climb back to the starting point, then prepare to slide down again. Sun Mi, wearing the thick and heavy skiing gears, practised this action repeatedly, grinding her teeth and climbed back (like a crab) to the starting point again and again, until she grasped for breath and perspired all over.
Seeing Sun Mi's state, Hyun Chul was feeling compassionate, "Take a rest if you are tired."
"I am fine." Sun Mi stubbornly replied.
Her sliding speed was getting faster each time, the sliding distance gradually lengthened and the falls and trips getting fewer. Her sense of achievement and elation was beyond description.
"Not bad! Good progress." Hyun Chul patted Sun Mi's head with satisfaction.
"It's the instructor who taught me well." She was bowed over with admiration.
"At first I was hesitating whether I should teach you myself." Hyun Chul smilingly said.
"I was afraid you could not endure the hardship and fall out with me!"
"Why should I fall out with you?" She did not understand his reasoning.
"When a friend of mine taught his girlfriend to ski, he was so strict that her girlfriend was mad at his lack of tenderness that they finally broke up."
On hearing this, Sun Mi giggled, "You need patience when you teach and you have to teach according to the student's ability."
He pinched her cheek, "Exactly, I am very lucky to have a girlfriend of high intelligence and resilience."
"Now you know!" Sun Mi was overjoyed.
Sun Mi swiped off the sweat from her forehead and told Hyun Chul smilingly, "You will only be dying of heat rather than freezing to death in the skiing ground!" Fortunately she listened to Hyun Chul and took off her heavier clothings, or else she would be in an uncomfortable and uneasy state being enveloped in skiing jackets stinking with perspiration.

"Where did you learn to ski?"
"Me? When I was studying in England, I went skiing with my classmates in France and Switzerland during winter vacation."
"If I knew it beforehand, I would have learned to ski in my school day." Sun Mi was overwhelmed with admiration. "Hey, what skiing level are you up to?"
"I'm at the advanced level."
"Really? Wow, how I envy you?"
"Envious? Well then, if you will butter me up well, I can guarantee I will teach you all my tricks."
As soon as Hyun Chul finished speaking, his left shoulder received a blow from Sun Mi's fist.
"Hey, how can a student beat his teacher ."
Afraid that Hyun Chul would get bored, Sun Mi asked him to go skiing himself.
"You really don't need me to keep you company?"
"No, I can practise by myself."

She stood on the resting area, watching from afar his athletic figure plunging down the "Golden Valley" snow run, until his shadow disappeared in the midst of the dazzlingly white snow.  She returned to the snow run and continued to ski. Seeing that she was on her own and a novice, very often there were friendly people coming over offering different opinion on skiing techniques. Soon thereafter, flurries of snow fell from the sky. The white snowflakes gave a sense of purity and radiance which would make one forget all the worries and unpleasantness in the material world. Sun Mi laid down on the snow, looked up at the sky and let the snow flutter on her face and fall on her body.

"Are you being lazy?"
Hyun Chul's voice sounded next to her ear.
"You are coming back so soon?" Sun Mi smilingly said.
She knew he could not help worrying about her and had to come back early.
Hyun Chul laid down on Sun Mi's side.
"It's so beautiful, isn't it?" She asked him.
"Take off your goggles, it will be more beautiful to see without it." Hyun Chul said.
The dark tinted lens would make the sky look gloomy.
"No!" She quickly stopped him.
"I'm afraid the Snow Queen will be up above."
Hyun Chul laughed, "It's just a movie."
In the movie, the Snow Queen cast a spell and lodged an evil snowflake into the eye of the young man, causing him to turn from an innocent and affectionate boy into one who forgot and abandoned his beloved.
"Anyway you are not allowed to take down your goggles." Sun Mi said childishly.
He was the most important person in her life, even if he made fun of her, she rather believed it to be true than not.
"Aye, do you want to try what it is like rolling in the snow?" Hyun Chul asked.
"Good "
He held her in his arm, turned his body and two of them rolled down the slope like a snow ball; they held each other tight and laughed with all their might. At this moment, they only had each other in their eyes.
The next morning, Sun Mi didn't wake up until past 9 o'clock.
"Why didn't you wake me up?" Sun Mi grumbled to Hyun Chul.
"As we are here on vacation, we should wake up naturally." Hyun Chul watching TV in the sitting room, told Sun Mi calmly.

They took the cable car to the top of Mt. Odaesan which was 1438m above sea-level. The weather was very nice up there. The turquoise West Mountain and the surrounding mountain ranges were unfolded before one's view. The scenery was very beautiful and Hyun Chul took many pictures with his camera. The two of them lingered on the summit for over an hour; they walked along the mountain path down to the restaurant to have something to eat. The restaurant though acquired a very oriental name "Dragon Peak", was constructed in a Swiss style. They stayed in the coffee shop and admired the mountain scenery while taking lunch. The restaurant waiter proudly told them that Mt. Odaesan had the most beautiful snow scenery among all of the skiing resorts in Korea.

In the afternoon, they put on their skiing gears and went to the skiing ground once more.
"You are making me nervous if you stay here watching me." Sun Mi found an excuse to make Hyun Chul go. She didn't want him wasting his time on a greenhorn like her. Yesterday she saw him speeding down the runway like a fish in the water, she could imagine how much joy he was feeling in his heart at that very moment.
"You see!" Sun Mi was doing her best to ski a short distance on the ski run and fortunately, managed not to lose face. Last night, she even dreamed she was skiing in her sleep.
Seeing that she was doing fine - she skied a distance of 500m and glided down to the bottom of the ski run with only one slip, Hyun Chul ceased to worry and went his way.
They went back to the hotel to take a rest at about 4:00 p.m. Then Sun Mi happily dragged Hyun Chul to the bowling centre to bowl until they ended up with rumbling stomachs.

Sun Mi said she wanted to make seafood tofu pot that evening. They went shopping for ingredients at the supermarket annexed to the resort, then busily started preparation, with Hyun Chul washing, cleaning and cooking the rice and Sun Mi attending to the ingredients preparation. Both of them, cooped up in the small and narrow kitchen, kept bumping into each other that made Sun Mi doubled up in fits of laughter.

"When we checked out tomorrow, we should let the management know that they should have built the kitchen more spacious The hotel owner certainly is not a thoughtful and considerate husband " Sun Mi commented while chopping the vegetables.

Hyun Chul laughed involuntarily, "What is the connection between the size of the kitchen and whether the owner is considerate towards his wife?"
"How can there be no connection? Auntie Young Sun said that if a good husband is considerate towards his wife, he would build her a large and spacious kitchen, as kitchen is a housewife's principal area of activity."
"Really? That's good, I have the foresight the kitchen in my place is not small " Hyun Chul said proudly.
"Alright! Your kitchen would only be used for boiling water!"
He either went out early in the morning and returned home late at night or would be staying away from home for days, how could he find time to cook? All the pots and pans and other utensils in the kitchen were still brand-new and shining.
"Boiling water?" Hyun Chul smilingly glanced at Sun Mi. "You are not to say that later on I could only drink the water you boil for me?" He misinterpreted her meaning on purpose.

Sun Mi stared at Hyun Chul with disdain. "It's none of my business either you want to drink boiled water or soup "
"You are a cruel woman " Hyun Chul sucked his lips in reply.
"I am not your housekeeper! "
The two of them were bickering with other in the kitchen.
"Mr. Yun, someone is looking for you." Sun Mi pointed her finger to the sitting room.
Hyun Chul focussed his attention and listened. Indeed, his cell phone was ringing hard.
"Miss Jin, let's cease fire for the moment. I haven't finished with you yet!" Hyun Chul winked at Sun Mi.
Hyun Chul read from the caller ID that it was a call from home.

"Hyun Chul speaking "
It was his mother who called, asking where he was.
"I am with my friend at the Yong Pyeong Skiing Resorts. Mum, what's up?"
"Hyun Chul, your sister-in-law said .."
Hyun Chul's face wore an expression of embarrassment.

Apparently Yun Min Yong took the set of Go-chess Sun Mi gifted to him and showed it off to everyone. Hyun Chul's sister in law was very observant and after several attempts, managed to trick Min Yong into confessing about Uncle's friend, Jin Auntie and so she hurriedly reported the fact to Hyun Chul's mother.

"Eh ,,,"
Hyun Chul watching Sun Mi's back with a troubled look on his face.
His mother wanted him to bring Sun Mi home for lunch on Saturday.
"I have to check with her first "

His mother grumbled on for a long while and Hyun Chul was compelled to perfunctorily agree. As matter took an unexpected turn, he really had no confidence that Sun Mi would agree to go. Last time when he was hurt in the car accident and Sun Mi came to see him in Seoul, he initially wanted to take her home to see his parents, but Sun Mi was too shy to go.

"How is that? Does it taste OK?" Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul expectantly. This was the first time she ever cooked Korean cuisine for Hyun Chul and this time she came fully prepared; she took special lesson from Young Sun to learn how to make seafood tofu pot.
"Hmm, yummy." Hyun Chul took one mouthful, nodded his head and praised.
"Really? It is not because you are hungry?"
"It is really very delicious and the soup tastes good."
As there was not enough time to simmer the seafood stock, Auntie Young Sun taught Sun Mi an alternative way and it really worked.
"If only I can simmer the seafood stock, it will taste much better." Sun Mi happily said.
"I think it is fine this way." Hyun Chul talked while taking another big mouthful. He looked so cute with a piece of rice sticking to the corner of his mouth that Sun Mi did not want to tell him. She looked on with satisfaction the way Hyun Chul was eating and felt so blessed.

After taking a bath, both of them put on the night light, sat before the floor length window and watched the night scenery. Their room was at the top floor with a panoramic view. Their eyes took in myriad of lights from the buildings in the valley together with the sparkling tree shadows fluttering in the wind. It seemed the world was under their feet with the last quarter moon hanging high in the sky and the stars twinkling in the night space. The blinking multi-coloured light bulbs on the pine tree in front of the hotel looked as though they had a "eye winking" competition with the stars up in the sky. This time and place let her envisioned herself living in a dreamland.

Music was drifting from indoor. Suddenly the sound of "How Deep is Your Love" was flowing from the record player. She and Hyun Chul nodded to each other with a smile of understanding and the great tenderness between them was too deep to segregate.

"Let's order some wine!"
"Oh!" Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi with surprise. It was always he who coaxed her to drink a little and this was the first time she took the initiative to suggest drinking wine.
"Miss One-Drink Wonder, what do you want to drink?"
"Hmm " Sun Mi smiled mischievously, "Do you think they have Smirnoff Ice?"
"Smirnoff Ice? Aren't you afraid of getting drunk again?"
Sun Mi pursed her lip and smiled.
When they were in London, she drank this concoction mixed with Vodka and lemon soda water and ended up in a dizzy spell. Hyun Chul had to take her for a long walk in Portobello before she was feeling a little bit better.
Indeed as expected, Smirnoff Ice was not the kind of drink one could have anywhere. Hyun Chul ordered instead a bottle of champagne. Sun Mi was in a good mood and finished a whole glass of champagne within a short while. She was bewitching beyond words with her feminine cheeks blooming red and her fluid glance wearing a smile. Hyun Chul inclined his face, rest his chin in his left hand and looked at Sun Mi with a besotted look. Watching him wearing a face of infatuation, Sun Mi was filled with sweetness and found it funny at the same time. There then she copied the way of how he rest his chin.

"Why are you looking at me this way?" She asked him.
"Looking at you is giving me a sense of blessedness "
"Really?" Sun Mi twitched her lips.
"There has never been anyone who makes me feel this way before."
"Are you sure you now have a clear mind?" She stared deeply into his crystal clear pupil.
"Why did you ask?"
"I'm afraid you are making fun of me and I am a gullible fool."
"Heaven can be my witness." Hyun Chul said.
Sun Mi smiled, "Well what happens if you can't see me?"
"I'll think of you here." Hyun Chul pointed to his heart.

The expression in her eyes changed from lucid smile to deep profound love. When he was not by her side, she would think of him in this way too. She thought of everything about him. She thought of his thick eyebrows; she thought of the pair of his impenetrable and fascinating eyes, she thought of his straight nose; she thought of the feeling of how his hot lips pressing warmly to her; she thought of the contentment and warmth when he held her in his strong arms; she thought of the gentle and overbearing way when he kissed her. Thinking of all these made her cheeks flushed with two bright spots and her heart filled with shyness and sweetness at the same time.

Seeing her pupils overflowed with love, her cheeks flushed red with drink and her lips enticingly sensuous, all these stirred his mind.
"Don't look at me this way." Sun Mi lowered her eyes and murmured.
Hyun Chul's eyes burning with reckless uninhibited and unhidden passion, made her heart palpitating with excitement.

"Has anyone ever told you that your lips are very enticing, very sensuous " He was gently caressing her lips with his thumb. His incitement frightened her and she had no confidence she could sustain his passion.
"Yun Hyun Chul, saying these words freely to a girl will constitute an act of sexual harassment!" She tried to speak to him sternly, but because of her shyness, the words that should mean as a warning came out as if she was cajoling (sa qiao) him.
"Miss Jin, I am your boy friend and so I have exemption privilege."
As usual, Hyun Chul was the one in charge of the situation.
"Who said that?" Sun Mi replied weakly It seemed as though her vision was attracted by a magnet and she could not even slightly pull away from the handsome face right in front of her.
"I said that."
Hyun Chul cupped her face with his hands, his face was slowly drawing closer, until the tip of his nose was touching hers.
"Jin Sun Mi, I want to kiss you "
The flame of passion was dancing in his eyes, in the same way as it did three nights ago.
"No." She responded faintly.
"Why?" Hyun Chul would not tolerate any resistance; he said he wanted to kiss her, it was an advice, not a request.
"Then you have to be on your best behaviour." Sun Mi blushed, dragging the words out.
His twin pupils flashed with irresistible passion; she was also longing for his tender kiss and cuddle.

Hyun Chul seized her lips. He was not going to let her have a chance to speak. He pushed her on the sofa, passionately kissing her. He was kissing her lips; he was kissing her neck, he was kissing her until she was losing her soul. The slight tremor of her body, the sound of her rapid breathing and the faint scent of her fragrance all increasingly aroused his heightened desire.

He could not help but pushed open the buttons of her dress, gently caressing her tender skin, his scorching lips followed her fair alluring neck, slowing moving downward she was weakly lying in his arm, her heart in a daze and allowed him to tease her ardently with his lips.
She thought she was going to faint into oblivion
When Hyun Chul was on the verge of stepping out of line, he retreated from the boundary which should not be trespassed.
He really loved her to a dangerous degree; lately whenever he had intimate contact with her, he had to struggle between sanity and desire, but he had never forgotten his promise, that was because he loved her, treasured her and respected her.

Burying her head in Hyun Chul's chest, gasping for breath and with Hyun Chul's lips nuzzling her neck, what happened moment ago still caused Sun Mi's heart to vibrate.
"Yun Hyun Chul, let us agree not to order and drink wine the next time." She solemnly declared.

Hyun Chul lifted the corner of his mouth with a smile, she was the one who suggested drinking wine tonight.
"Alright." Hyun Chul complied while his lips were kissing her ear lobes and the passion in his heart had not diminished.
"Yun Hyun Chul " Sun Mi tried to dodge and evade in Hyun Chul's arms, his passion was about to suffocate her.
"Huh?" He was holding her tightly.
"I want " The burning heat in her body made her feel ashamed and frightened.
"You what do you want to say?" He caressed her back with his hands.
"I want to make a snowman." Her heart was beating hard.
"You want to go now?" He asked with a smile.
"Huh." Face flushing, Sun Mi nodded, she knew he could surely read through her mind.
"Hmm I too should go and make a snowman " Hyun Chul smiled.

With two hearts and bodies burning hot and in the middle of a wintry night, they stayed outside and spent over half an hour to pile up a snowman of half a human size.
As soon as Sun Mi laid down on her bed, Hyun Chul knocked and entered.
She was languidly curling inside the warm quilts.
"Er " He stammered.
"What's the matter?" Sun Mi was leaning on the bedside.
Hyun Chul rubbed his head and smiled in a strange way.
"Er , my mother would like to invite you to lunch at our place on Saturday."

He bottled up those words for the whole evening.
"What?" Sun Mi threw up her quilts and sat up.
"Your mother your mother, how come aiyo, what did you tell your mother " Sun Mi holding on to the quilts and said incoherently.
"In the name of heaven, it was definitely not me who mentioned to my mother." Hyun Chul immediately clarified.
"Not you, then who was it?"

"It was Yun Min Yong. He showed off the set of Go chess you gifted him to everyone and let my sister in law tricked him into talking . The call tonight was from my mother."
"Aiyo what shall I do!" Sun Mi said anxiously. She looked as if it was the end of the world and Hyun Chul could no longer contain his laughter.
"What's to worry? My mother won't eat you."
"You find it amusing?" Sun Mi glowered at Hyun Chul.
Hyun Chul restrained his smile, "Alright, I will tell my mother you have a prior engagement "
That night, Sun Mi spent a sleepless night staring at the ceiling until dawn.


Written by: Jennifer
Translated by: TS~*
Story from AAE Village

Xiang Zhe drove towards his parent’s home; Shan Mei has agreed to accompany him to meet his parents.
Shan Mei hardly spoke a word all thru the journey, lowering her head only to play with her handkerchief, turning and twisting it into knots.
Xiang Zhe is a little worried. From the day Shan Mei found out that his mother wanted to see her, she has been listless. When they got back from the ski resort, Xiang Zhe has tried to distract her by bringing her out for shopping and to watch movie, tiring her out just so that she will not have the time and energy to fret about the upcoming visit.

“Don’t be so uptight, just treat it as if you’re paying your friend’s family a visit” Xiang Zhe tapped gently on Shan Mei’s shoulders, consoling her.
“You sound so carefree…” Shan Mei sighed and thinned her lips. “This is scarier than going for a presentation/debate.”
“That bad?” Xiang Zhe couldn’t help but laughed
“Half of my brain cells have died.”
She didn’t know why but she is very afraid of meeting Xiang Zhe’s mother. Lee Su Lan, Xiang Zhe’s mother is a famous socialite. She hasn’t met her before but had come across several write-ups about her in the news. Shan Mei feared that Xiang Zhe’s mother will not like her.

“You sound as if I’m sending you into the lion’s den….” Xiang Zhe tried to tease her.
“Director Yin, Sir, can I apply for leave?”
“Application not approved!”

Xiang Zhe made a left turn; she knows that they’re fast approaching their destination. The last time Xiang Zhe met with an accident, she has loitered around this area for the entire day.
“Oh my god!” Shan Mei exclaimed and continued anxiously “Yin Xiang Zhe, stop the car quick!”
Xiang Zhe hurriedly stopped his car by the side of the road.
“What happened?” Xiang Zhe asked worriedly
“Your shirt…Aiyo!” Shan Mei said, with exasperation written all over her face
“What’s wrong with my shirt?” Xiang Zhe took a look at his shirt and asked, not understanding what Shan Mei was trying to tell him. He is wearing the Christmas present that Shan Mei has given him
“I don’t care!” Shan Mei covered her face in dismay
Sigh! Since morning, she has been worrying about the upcoming visit to his parents and has neglected to take note of what Xiang Zhe was wearing.
“Tell me what’s wrong!” Xiang Zhe persuaded
Shan Mei unbuttoned her trench coat and revealed the dark blue woolen sweater she was wearing inside.
“Very pretty” Xiang Zhe commented
‘Hey, are you sure you really don’t get it or are you just playing ignorant?” Shan Mei was at the brink of getting really mad at him
“What do you mean?” Xiang Zhe asked seriously
“We’re…..we’re wearing the same colored sweater.”
Xiang Zhe lowered his head to take a look at his shirt and burst out laughing.
“And you can still laugh! I’m not going to your house anymore!” Shan Mei rained punches on his chest
“What is the big deal about wearing the same colored sweater to meet my parents?” Xiang Zhen shrugged and said nonchalantly
“No way!” Shan Mei insisted
“Why not?”
“People will laugh at us!”
“Laugh about what?”
“Laugh that we’re wearing a couple’s attire.”
Xiang Zhe shook his head and laughed in resignation “This is such a big issue that you won’t go meet my parents?”
“Unless there’s a big hole in your house.” Shan Mei said. If anyone in his family made fun of what they’re wearing, she would definitely hide herself in a hole, too embarrassed to meet them.

Xiang Zhe smiled as he looked at the girl he has fallen deeply in love with before him. At work, she can coolly and rationally analyze and solve any challenges set before her but that this very moment, because of the color of sweater he is wearing, she is fretting and worried. It makes him all the more in love with her.

“Don’t worry; Tarzan here has got a solution” Xiang Zhe hit his chest and boasted
“Right, you’d better help me dig a big hole.” Shan Mei said
“It doesn’t have to take up so much effort….”
While Xiang Zhe was saying that, he started to take off his sweater
“Yin Xiang Zhe….. What are you doing?”
Shan Mei starred blankly at Xiang Zhe who was only wearing a thin cotton long-sleeved shirt.
“Hasn’t this already solved your problem?” Xiang Zhe tapped on Shan Mei’s head.
“How can you possibly call this a brilliant idea? You’ll catch a cold in this outfit!” Shan Mei did not know to cry or laugh. The temperature outside is very low, she didn’t want him to fall sick!
“Catch a cold?” Xiang Zhe smiled. “That would be good. IF I fall sick, you’ll have to stay back in Seoul for another 2 more days to look after me!”
“You’re nuts!” Shan Mei starred at Xiang Zhe
“Forget it! You’d better put the sweater back on!”
“Why? You’re not afraid of others teasing you?
“Let them tease me all they want, it beats getting you sick!”
He looked at her happily. He knew that in her heart, he is more important than anything else.
“You’re such a nag.”
“You care a lot about me right?’ Xiang Zhe said happily
“I just wanted to keep my conscience clear.”
He must know, her love for him will never be lesser that that of his.

“The car and the house will be warm, I’ll just have to bear with it for a while and we’ll be inside again”
“Don’t try to act the tough guy!”
“I’m meant what I say” As Xaing Zhe was saying, he took out a tie from he glove compartment.
“If you really pity me, be nice and help me put on this tie” Xiang Zhe smiled happily as he said.

While Shan Mei put on the tie for him, Xiang Zhe took his chance and wrapped his arms round her waist.
“Don’t you try to do anything funny, beware; I might strangle you to death.”
She warned him. Xiang Zhe always likes to harass her whenever they’re together.
“You will?” He kissed her cheeks
Shan Mei smiled and twitched her lips
“Done!” She straightened the tie and then smoothen the edges of his collar.
“So soon?” Xiang Zhe implied with regret
Shan Mei’s skill in wearing a tie for him has improved at an amazing speed. He recalled how clumsy she was the first time he had asked her to help him put it on. Now, she is an expert. He didn’t even have enough time to take ‘advantage’ and she has already completed her task.

He likes to find excuses for Shan Mei to help him put on his tie. Looking at Shan Mei’s gentleness and the concentration she puts into the job, she resembles the devoted little wife. He would circle her round his arms and smell her wonderful fragrance. For that very moment, he is the happiest man on earth.

“You always take advantage of me, bad person!!” Shan Mei’s eyes sparkled with laughter and happiness
“Take advantage? I’ve just help you solve a very urgent and difficult….. Ah-Choo!” Xiang Zhe sneezed
“Are you cold?” Shan Mei knitted her brows. “I know you won’t like it but be good and put on your coat.” Shan Mei reached over to the backseat of the car and got Xiang Zhe his coat. Xiang Zhe always felt restrained wearing a coat while driving; he would take it off whenever he gets into the car.
“Quickly, put it on!”
Xiang Zhe took a sidelong glance at Shan Mei and said coyly “Why don’t you help me”
Shan Mei looked at him helplessly and did as told, mumbling “Aren’t you a little shy, acting just like a kid, I’m not your mother!”
He lightly tapped on her smart nose and said “You love to haggle”
“You’d continue and I’ll…..”
Her words were swallowed up by his lips before she could complete her sentence

“Hateful man!” She took her handkerchief to wiped away the lipstick on his face
“Shan Mei….”
“My heart is very warm!”
He caught hold of her hand and placed it on his chest.
She can clearly feel his heartbeat thumping fiercely….

The green gate opened slowly. Previously, she had looked in from the outside, pinning for the man behind that door. This time round, she has finally entered that door and is walking into the world that belongs to him.

Before her is an open and vast courtyard landscaped with tall trees and carefully placed bonsai. It was a picturesque sight that gives people the feeling of grandeur. The Christmas reds blazing brightly like fire lace the path that leads to the entrance of the house, making the cold winter warm and pretty.

“It’s such a beautiful courtyard!” Shan Mei said as she surveyed her surroundings
“My mom has always been very interested in gardening”

“Second Mister, You’re home.” Someone who looked like a steward come forward and greeted Xiang Zhe

“Uncle Fu, This is Miss Zhen Shan Mei.”
“Hello Miss Zhen” The old man smiled happily at Shan Mei and bowed
“Nice to meet you.” Shan Mei nodded her head in return quickly

Shan Mei followed behind Xiang Zhe, walking through a corridor and into the house.
“Relax” He said softly into her ear
Shan Mei nodded her head gently. Actually, after she has entered the gate, she was no longer nervous. Shan Mei has had a strange quirk since childhood. Every time when she has to face an important situation, like sitting for an examination or taking part in a competition, she would always not be able to eat or sleep, nervous and awake in anticipation before the day arrives but the moment she steps into the examination hall, she would remain calm and able to handle the situation.

“Dad! Mom! I’ve brought my friend.” Xiang Zhe announced
“You’re home!” A women’s voice drifted into their ears.
A ruddy faced and thin middle aged man appeared before them, smiling broadly. Following behind was an elegant and beautiful middle aged lady. They must be Xiang Zhe’s parents.
“Shan Mei, This is my father and mother”
“Hello Uncle and Auntie” Shan Mei bowed and greeted Xiang Zhe’s parents politely.
Xiang Zhe’s parents eyed each other and smiled. It is hard to find young people who are so courteous and kind nowadays.
“Good, Good” Xiang Zhe’s father laughed loudly and said
“Dad, Mom, she’s my……colleague, Zhen Shan Mei”
Xiang Zhe put his hands on his ‘colleague’s” shoulders, unfazed/unabashed. Shan Mei blushed with embarrassment and Xiang Zhe is determined not to notice it. The whole family knows that she is his girlfriend but she had insisted that he introduce her as his colleague. Xiang Zhe didn’t know to cry or laugh.

“Miss Zhen, Welcome, Welcome”
“Uncle and auntie, this is a little gift for you” Shan Mei presented her gift to Xiang Zhe’s parents.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have. Don’t stand on ceremony, please make yourself feel at home…. Xiang Zhe, you should have stopped Shan Mei” Lee Su Lan told her son.
Xiang Zhe smiled and said nothing.
“I insisted” Shan Mei said hastily.
“Su Lan, This is your favorite Kobe Oshu Koro (Kobe Baked Cookies).” Yin Zhen Zi smiled and informed his wife.
“Oh yes it is!” Lee Su Lan said, surprised. “Xiang Zhe, you didn’t happen to tell Miss Zhen about it did you?”
“How would I know the type of biscuits you’d like to eat?” Xiang Zhe linked his arms round his mom’s shoulders and smiled
Lee Su Lan smiled. This son of hers is a workaholic. She’d be glad if he could remember her birthday so she wouldn’t expect him to notice what she’d like to eat; it’s really such a coincidence that the Zhen girl have brought along Yuhaimu Oshu Koro which was her favorite.

Shan Mei was really happy, she had initially brought along the cookies for Xiang Zhe to eat. When she realized that she needed to pay Xiang Zhe’s parents a visit and couldn’t think of what to get them, she had decided to present them with the box of cookies instead and luckily for her, it is Xiang Zhe’s mom’s favorite.

“Auntie, if you like it, I’ll bring back some more for you the next time I com over to Seoul”
“Why?” Lee Su Lan asked, surprised. “Miss Zhen does not stay in Seoul?”
“Shan Mei works in Tokyo”

“No wonder….You’ve been flying over to Tokyo every other day and I thought you’re busy with work!” Lee Su Lan smiled and whispered into her son’s ears.
Shan Mei blushed when she overheard.

“Come, come, let’s sit down and talk”
“Thank You”
Xiang Zhe helped Shan Mei hang up her coat and took off his own.
“Xiang Zhe, why are you wearing like that?” Lee Su Lan noticed that her son was wearing just a thin layer of clothing and started to nag.
“Oh, I wasn’t feeling cold” Xiang Zhe replied and cast a glance at Shan Mei, winking at her.
Shan Mei sticks out her tongue guiltily

Ai Xiang Sui
Chapter 25
Written by: Jennifer
Translated by: TS~*
Story from AAE Village

Shan Mei went into the living room and started to chat with Xiang Zhe’s parents.
Undeniably, Xiang Zhe’s parents have been round the social scene, not only are they gracious hosts, their friendliness and hospitability had put her nervousness at ease. On the outside, Xiang Zhe’s father looks strict but when he speaks, he is actually very kind; Xiang Zhe’s mother is elegant and graceful, one look and you will know she was from a well to do family.

“Miss Zhen has been studying overseas for so many years, to still be able to retain your Asian values and be feminine and graceful; it is really hard to come by”
Yin Zheng Hao said in appreciation after finding out about Shan Mei’s studying experiences.
“Xiang Zhe, how did you two meet?” Lee Su Lan asked
“We…..” Xiang Zhe took a look at Shan Mei and smiled, “We got to know each other after having to work together on a project.”
“We are…destined to meet and no distance will keep us apart.” Xiang Zhe held his look onto Shan Mei’s face.
Xiang Zhe’s statement made Shan Mei blush with embarrassment. This man, she had cautioned him beforehand not to utter nonsense but in the end, he started making trouble for her as soon as he entered the door...
Lee Su Lan smiled as she looked at the kind expression on her son, a stone seemed to have dropped from her heart. She hasn’t seen her son with that kind of expression before, looks like this time round, her youngest boy has fallen deeply in love. This girl with her radiant smile, although she doesn’t attracts the attention of people around her like Hui Zhu, she has an indescribable charm about her that draws everyone to like her with sincerity.

“Miss Zhen, have you ever considered coming back to Seoul to work?” Lee Su Lan asked.
“Shan Mei’s father is a lecturer at Tokyo University; it would not be possible for her to come back to Seoul within a short period of time and besides, she is also a great manager at our company’s Tokyo subsidiary, her boss will never let her get transferred so easily.” Xiang Zhe spoke out for Shan Mei.
“Miss Zhen appear to be gentle and quiet, you don’t look anything like you’re working for an Investment Bank…..” Yin Zheng Hao smiled and said.
“Dad, you think that way too?” Xiang Zhe laughed out loud and said, “When she meet up with the clients and talk business, she is really very convincing, the first time when I saw her doing a presentation, she really gave me a shock of my life!”
“Really? It is difficult to imagine! Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Xiang Zhe gave Shan Mei a complacent look and continued “Dad, once, Shan Mei saw Jiang Zhen Li on TV giving the media some updates” Xiang Zhe turned to Shan Mei and explained “Jiang Zhen Li is the spokes person for Wen Rong Corporation, the one you saw on TV the last time.”
Upon hearing that, Shan Mei threw a meaningful glance at Xiang Zhe, trying to stop him from continuing further but to her horror, Xiang Zhe paid no heed to it and continued “She had expressed many views on that matter! Dad, if you have the time, you should ask Shan Mei to tell you about it.”
“Then I must definitely hear about it!” Yin Zheng Hao looked enthusiastically at Shan Mei.
“Uncle, you mustn’t listen to the nonsense that Xiang Zhe is telling you.” Shan Mei said shyly.

Between chatting, a child’s laughter drifted in from the entrance.
“Grand-papa! Grand-mama!”
A little boy rushed into the living room, Shan Mei turned to look and it was Yin Ming Lun. Following behind Yin Ming Lun was a couple in their early 30’s; the lady was carrying a 7-8 months old baby in her arms.

“My elder brother and sister-in-law” Xiang Zhe said.
Shan Mei stood up quickly
“Auntie Zhen….” Yin Ming Lun took a step forward and stood in front of Shan Mei.
“Ming Lun, seems like you’ve grown taller!” Shan Mei traced Ming Lun’s head.
“Auntie, let me tell you…. I’m representing my class to take part in an ice-skating competition!” Ming Lun said excitedly.
“That’s very good! You must have been practicing very diligently huh?”
It has been only slightly more then two months; she never thought Ming Lun would progress so fast.
“It’s because Auntie is a great teacher who’s got a good disciple la” Ming Lun smiled cheekily and said.
Upon hearing that, Shan Mei burst out laughing.
“Yin Ming Lun, you’re just a little kid and you’re already so good at flattering” Xiang Zhe have his little nephew’s head a tap.
‘Uncle…..” Ming Lun joked with Xiang Zhe

“So it was Miss Zhen who had taught Ming Lun to ice-skate. Previously, I’ve tried asking him about it but he wouldn’t tell me clearly” Xiang Zhe’s sister-in-law smiled and said, eyeing Shan Mei, observing her from head to toe.
Shan Mei smiled awkwardly, she had made a pack with Yin Ming Lun, that is, he is not to tell anyone about her and Xiang Zhe.
“My elder brother, Yin Wen Chun and sister-in-law, Li Yi Zhen.”
“Hello elder brother and sister-in-law, nice to meet you!” Shan Mei greeted Xiang Zhe’s elder brother and sister-in-law.
“Xiang Zhe, you’ve got good judgement eh!” Yin Wen Chun patted his younger brother’s back and said.
Xiang Zhe grinned happily.

During lunch time, Ming Lun insisted on sitting beside Shan Mei so in the end, she had Xiang Zhe sitting on her right and Yin Ming Lun sitting on her left at the dinning table.
"Miss Zhen, looks like the two handsome men in the Yin family are very fond of you and likes to stick to you eh!" Yin Wen Jun teased Shan Mei and commented.
She is not sure why but it seems to her that Yin Wen Jun is not looking very healthy.

Lunch was a traditional Korean meal of grilled/barbecued meat on hot copper plate.
Looking at the array of different side dishes on the table, Shan Mei didn’t know where to start.
"This is delicious." Xiang Zhe picked a piece of kimchi and dropped it onto Shan Mei’s plate.
"This dish is grand-mama’s secret recipe" Yin Ming Lun whispered into Shan Mei’s ears.
Shan Mei was caught surprised; Xiang Zhe’s mother came from an aristocratic family, with her comfortable family background, she did not expect her to have to learn to make this traditional Korean dish.

Shan Mei took a bite and indeed it was very tasty and delicious. It is different from those that were served in the restaurants outside.
“I hope you’re used to the taste!” Xiang Zhe’s mother asked
“Yes, it is very delicious, Auntie’s cooking skills is really very good.”
“Does Miss Zhen know how to make Kimchi?”
“Oh…. No I don’t know how to!” Shan Mei replied, a little ashamed
“The women of our generation have to know how to make Kimchi. If they don’t, their mother-in-laws will be displeased and will nag incessantly. I’m sure your mom has mentioned it to you before!”
“My mother….” Shan Mei was about to begin explaining but her throat seemed to be caught on something and she choked on her words
Xiang Zhe pulled on his mother’s sleeve and told her softly “Shan Mei’s mother is not around for a long time already.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Lee Su Lan said awkwardly
“It’s alright.”
“Come, Shan Mei, eat more.” Lee Su Lan picked a piece of cold preserved beancurd and put it into Shan Mei’s plate.

Shan Mei actually had a tiring time eating through this meal. It has been her habit to eat in small bites and chew slowly to savor her food but since the meal being served today was barbecued meat on copper plate, everyone would wrap rice and meat with a lettuce and stuff the whole piece of food into their mouth. She was afraid that she would be laughed at and so reluctantly followed Xiang Zhe and the rest by opening her mouth wide and stuffing the entire wrapped bundle into her mouth. The jaw is sore from the chewing and it took her a lot of work to finish eating her lunch.

After lunch, Xiang Zhe and his elder brother followed Yin Zhen Hao into the study to discuss some business matters, Lee Su Lan showed Shan Mei around her garden while Yin Ming Lun tagged along to join in the fun.
“Ming Lun, why, you’re like a chewing gum!” Lee Su Lan said to her grandson.
“I like Auntie Zhen!”
A child’s attention span is very short, after a while he returned to the house to play with his computer games complaining that it was very boring.

Xiang Zhe’s mother is very fond and knowledgeable of the flowers and plants, she use to major in botany when she was studying in the university and had originally planned to work as a horticulturist. But after marrying Xiang Zhe’s father, besides having to serve her husband and look after her children, she had to take on the responsibility of organizing different social activities. In addition, given the conservative mentality of her mother-in-law where the belief was that a wife’s place was at home and not at the workplace or exhibiting her face in public; Lee Su Lan had to settle for the open spaces in her home to do her gardening, in order to satisfy her childhood dream and interest.

“Although my mother-in-law no longer bothers about such things, age has caught up on me. Now I can do the things I want to do when I was young, but though the heart is willing, the body lacked the ability to do so and I’m also afraid that people will think I’m trying to be a cultured person.” Lee Su Lan sighed and said.

“How can that be! You can still go and try it. As long as it is a dream, no matter the odds, you’ll have to give it a try. If you never tried it out and give up before that, it will be very regrettable!” Shan Mei said spiritedly
“Really?” Lee Su Lan smiled and look that the girl with that radiant smile.
“Definitely” Shan Mei nodded her head, a little embarrassed. She wondered what Xiang Zhe’s mother will think of her for being so dissolute.

“Wait till our Xiang Zhe marry a wife and bring me a daughter-in-law and then I’ll earnestly consider what you’ve told me earlier. I hope Xiang Zhe won’t make me wait too long…you’ll help me urge him won’t you?”
Shan Mei blushed bright red.

“There are no girls in the family and both my two sons are sloppy. They don’t know how to sympathize with others and are not very good at sweet talking; you’ll have to bear with it…” Xiang Zhe’s mother continued

Sweetness filled Shan Mei’s heart, she hasn’t met anyone who is comparable to Xiang Zhe in terms of understanding and sympathizing with others and he is even better at sweet talking his way through things.


Coming into the house after taking a stroll in the garden, Xiang Zhe found Shan Mei and dragged her along into Yin Zheng Hao’s study.
“What are you doing?” Shan Mei tried to stop Xiang Zhe
“My father wants to hear your opinion about establishing an Investors Relation department in the company.”
Just now, father and sons were discussing ways to strengthen the relationship between the company and the investors.
“Better not!” Shan Mei hesitated.
That day, she had only mentioned it on a slight thought and Xiang Zhe had to boast about it in front of his father.
“It really doesn’t matter!” Without further thought, Xiang Zhe pulled her into the study.

So, at the end, she stayed on in Xiang Zhe father’s study for more than half an hour. Yin Zheng Hao asked very earnestly about her views on how Wen Rong could strengthen the interaction between their organization and the invertors. Shan Mei could not decline comment and told him about the recent reforms that the Japanese Corporations had undertaken and gave him some of her personal ideas. Yin Zheng Hao nodded repeatedly in agreement on what she has said. Actually, Xiang Zhe had previously discuss the matter with him but since it was his son’s opinions, as a father, he feels that he would surely know more and had assumed that he lacked the life experience. In addition, the father and son usually likes to disagree on ideas and whatever Xiang Zhe said, Yin Zheng Hao did not take it into consideration; after listening to what Shan Mei told him, explaining to him analytically and rationally, he is a little convinced.

It was already evening when they left the Yin’s. Everyone in the family came to the door to see her off. Yin Zheng Hao and Lee Su Lan even invited her to visit them again.

When the car left the front gate of the Yin’s family home, Shan Mei heft a sigh of relief.
Looking at how Shan Mei sighed in relief, Xiang Zhe could not help but smile. He is very happy; everyone in his family (the young and the old) seems to like her.

“Hey, have you ever thought about changing jobs?”
“What do you mean?” She did not understand his question completely
“Will you be interested in working for Wen Rong and be in charged of the Investor Relations department? I father seems to think very highly of you!”
“Stop kidding me lah!”
“I’m serious” Xiang Zhe smiled and said
“So am I…. “ Hey, quick you on your sweater!” She is worried that he would catch a cold.
“Yes Madam”

“Hmm, you’re not bad eh, a box of Kobe Oshu Koro and you’ve bought over my mom” Xiang Zhe teased as he put on his sweater
His mother kept praising Shan Mei for being very well-mannered and graceful.
“You seriously didn’t know that you mother likes the Kobe Oshu Koro?” Shan Mei eyed Xiang Zhe questioningly.
Bringing the box of biscuits was actually Xiang Zhe’s idea. She had actually wanted to go out to shop of a present


“How would I know…. Miss, I noticed that you ate very little this afternoon, was it because you’re not used to the taste?”
Shan Mei smiled and shook her head “It’s not that I’m not used to it, more like I couldn’t keep up with eating…”
“Couldn’t keep up?”
“Everyone in your family, they’re all really good,

Xiang Zhe laughed till he almost tears “It is that miserable!”
“You mother is really capable, as the mistress of the house, she still had to learn how to make kimchi”
”My grandmamma use to say, ladies who doesn’t know how to make kimchi, can forget about being daughter-in-laws of the Yin family.”
“Really?” Shan Mei asked, flabbergasted
“Yes! Look at my elder sister-in-law; don’t be deceived by her fashionable dressing, she too had to specially learn how to make kimchi”
“Oh” Shan Mei suddenly gave a sad sigh
“What’s wrong?”

Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe in distress “Yin Xiang Zhe, I think there’s still time, you’d better go find yourself a lady who knows how to make kimchi!”
Xiang Zhe tried to keep and straight face and said seriously “Right too”
“You dare!” Shan Mei gave him a stare
“I thought that was what you’ve just said” Xiang Zhe laughed out loud.
“Why do you girls always like to say things that are hypocritical?” Xiang Zhe asked
“Who said so?”
“Didn’t you just did?”
“That depends on the situation”
“Can you give some example” Xiang Zhe smiled knowingly
“Think about it on your own. Aren’t you supposed to be very smart?”

Shan Mei sat up, alert. Every time when he gives her that smile of his, most times, he would find some opportunity to tease her.
“Little petty girl!” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei lovingly.
She did not expect him to continue to drive on silently. Looks like due to her narrow-mindedness, she has jumped to the wrong conclusions and accused an innocent man.

“Zhen Shan Mei….”
“Can I kiss you now?”
She caught a glimpse of playfulness in his smile
Seems like she has fallen into his trap again

He said that girls like to say things that are hypocritical.
She replied that it depends on the situation.
So what kind of situation is are they in now?
She cannot simply answer a “Yes” That would be too easy on him; but again she cannot say “No” as he would surely call her a hypocrite.

Looks like no matter what her reply; based on his intelligence and craftiness, she would definitely lose out.
Oh! That hateful Yin Xiang Zhe…..




AXS – Chapter 26
Written by Jennifer
Source: AAEV
Translated by nho

When Sun Mi woke up, Hyun Chul was not at home, perhaps he had gone to the gym. From her trip to Seoul this time, she just learned of Hyun Chul’s habit to go to the gym everyday, not only to workout but also for stress releasing. Hyun Chul had never mentioned this matter to her, perhaps accordingly to him, it was a very trivial matter that did not worth mentioning, nevertheless she wanted to know everything concerning him.

For nearly a week, she and Hyun Chul spent mornings and nights together and she had never been so close to his life before. She learned of the brand of toothpaste he used; she knew that in order to save trouble, he bought the same brand of shirts in different colours; she learned that he would drink a small glass of red wine every night before going to bed; she knew which laundry he sent his clothes; she knew that when he did not have any social functions, he would eat his dinner at roadside booths; everything that concerned him, even though they were minute matters, was new and a surprise to her.

This was her last day in Seoul. Tomorrow she would be returning to Tokyo and the day after tomorrow he would not be able to have breakfast with her. When she thought of this, she was feeling desolate.

Sun Mi shook her head, trying to cast away the gloomy thoughts; she wanted to spend this day happily and joyously with Hyun Chul. She decided to make breakfast. During the past few days, they had all their meals outside and it would seem that she really could only use Hyun Chul’s kitchen to boil water.

Sun Mi made ham and cheese french toast and brewed coffee.

“If I know sooner that you are such a good cook, I would have let you cook for me everyday.”

Hyun Chul was busily repeating his praises; Sun Mi fried the toast which was soaked in egg juice until it turned into golden colour and the sight of it whetted his appetite.

“Hmm, the coffee was brewed just right …” Hyun Chun smacked his lips and said: “Right now, I really don’t want to let you go.”

Sun Mi laughingly said: “Aren’t you afraid that I could only do so much and if I were to let you eat this everyday, it won’t be a surprise if you want to kick me out!”

“As long as you prepare it for me, even if it were just plain boiling water, I would love to drink it.”

“What nonsense.” Sun Mi happily laughed.

“Hey, you wouldn’t have especially learned to make this french toast from Aunt Young Sun!”

Sun Mi told him about learning to make the seafood tofu pot from Young Sun.

“You need not try to belittle me?” Sun Mi pouted her mouth, “I learned this from a cooking recipe.”

“Did you learn this … especially for me?” Hyun Chul pressed his face near to Sun Mi.

Sun Mi gave Hyun Chul a push, “Don’t act smart! I knew how to do it since when I was in senior high.”

She was not certain whether she could prepare a banquet, but speaking of breakfast, she was full of confidence. Since when she attended senior high in England, she had taken charge of preparing the breakfast and practice made perfect, there was never a person who did not praise her after having eaten the breakfast she prepared.

“If it is not for the fact that your fridge is empty, I would have prepared something so delicious that you would be eating until you collapse on the chair.”


“Of course!” Sun Mi tilted her chin, wearing a proud expression.

“How I envy Professor … I think I should simply request a transfer to Tokyo.”

“What for?”

“So that I can come to have breakfast at your place!”

Sun Mi doubled up in fits of laughter.

The two of them bantered words with each other merrily until Hyun Chul’s cell phone rang.

“Hello! Who’s speaking please?” Hyun Chul picked up the phone.

“What’s up?” Hyun Chul’s words were full of indulgence.


“You are asking for trouble again …” Hyun Chun knitted his brows, “No way!”

The call was from Min Yong. He wanted to show off his skating skill to Sun Mi as well as to ask for Sun Mi’s instructions and pointers. As today was Sun Mi’s last day in Seoul, Hyun Chul did not want to be disturbed.

“Uncle, I am begging you please!” Min Yong still refused to give up.

“No way.” Hyun Chul did not allow room for negotiation.

“Uncle, you are so mean.” Min Yong sulkily retorted.

“I remember that was not what you told me when you got my Christmas present.”

“Uncle …”

Worn out by Min Yong’s pestering, Hyun Chul who doted on his nephew, finally conceded. He knew that even Sun Mi would not be able to refuse Min Yong.

The Seoul sun was shining brightly and the temperature had risen up to 7/8 degree. Lots of people seized the chance of this lovely weather to exercise in the park.

Sun Mi rented skating boots and skated with Min Yong.

He sat on the stony stair, watching her lissom figure twisting and turning and listening to her sweet and soft laughter, with love and affection flowing in his heart.

He blessedly watched her smile.

Her smile was really very beautiful; he could not think of anything in this world which could move him so much. The first time when he had dinner with her in the restaurant, he was electrified by her brilliant smile. Since then, he unwittingly fell in love with her and until he became aware of the fact, he was already thrown into the tumultuous sea of love and unable to extricate himself. He had never expected his calm and superior self actually let a girl passing by tugging his heartstrings. When she spent a month or more time in Seoul, the time they actually spent together did not add up to more than 3 days in total. He often thought about the two days they were accidentally forced to stay in London when they were abroad to participate in Da Rong’s investor conference, were gracious gifts from heaven. If they were not given that accidental and beautiful interlude, he and Sun Mi perhaps would just be ordinary friends only!

During the past six months, although he travelled between Seoul and Tokyo, he never felt any hardship. Because he always brought back home with him her abundance of love and her sweet smile; she lighted up his life; she gave him motivation to move forward and apart from the achievement and satisfaction he got from work, he found something more significant – he learned to love and he met with blessed happiness.

“Uncle, Jin Auntie asks whether you want to come down and skate with us?” Min Yong called out to Hyun Chul loudly.

Hyun Chul smilingly shook his head. On the skating ground, apart from Sun Mi, all other present were either youth or children. Sun Mi’s skilful technique naturally became the focal point; people would often come up to ask for advice and Sun Mi would welcome them and generously gave out advice.

“Uncle, Jin Auntie says you are a lazy bone.” Min Yong made wry face at Hyun Chul.

Sun Mi gently tapped Min Yong on his bottom; this child was so naughty.

“Uncle, I am hungry.”

Finishing skating, Min Yong flopped down and leaned on Hyun Chul.

“What do you want to eat? Let Auntie go and buy it for you.”

“You better let this lazy bone to serve you! Come tell, what do you want to eat?” Hyun Chul said.

“Anything, but it has to be sweet and liquid.”

“Coke or fruit juice?”


Hyun Chul mumbled: “You are trying to make my life difficult!”

Every time when he was buying food for this little guy, it was often like guessing riddles.

Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul wearing a troublesome look on his face and smiled until her eyes were like crescent moon.

“How about milk tea pudding?” Sun Mi said.

“Good!” Min Yong said with enthusiasm.

“Where can I get it?” Hyun Chul knitted his brows and asked; he had never even heard of the name before.

“Let me go and get it! I am absolutely sure you won’t be able to find it.”

She had somehow worked in the Youido area for a month and as she loved to try all kinds of novel and special foods, she knew clearly the whereabouts of every snack booths.

“Please don’t get lost!” Hyun Chul was a little bit worried.

“You must be joking! I am more familiar with the streets and alleys in this area than you.”

Sun Mi went to get the snacks and Hyun Chul and his nephew sat down on the stony stair making idle conversations.

"You have a satisfactory day today, haven't you? You have monopolized Jin Auntie for the whole morning." Hyun Chul said.

"Thank you Uncle! When I win a position in the skating competition, I will treat you to a meal." Min Yong replied, acting as if in real earnest.

"You treat me to a meal?" Hyun Chul couldn't help but laughed.


"You treat and I pay, right?"

"I am a child, it is the thought that counts!"

"You little fellow!"

"Uncle, you love Jin Auntie very much, don't you?" Min Yong spoke like a young adult.

"It is no business of a child ..."

"Why is it not my business? You are the uncle I love most, and of course I have to care what my future auntie looks like ... Uncle, I see you better marry Jin Auntie so that she can become my real auntie!"

Hyun Chul cracked open his mouth and smiled. This young fellow finally said something pleasant to his ears.

"What, so that she can give you skating lessons everyday?"

"I am not the only person who said it, even Grandma and Mummy spoke highly of Jin Auntie!"

Hyun Chul's eyes immediately shone bright when he heard these words.

"What did Grandma say?" Hyun Chul questioned closely.

"Didn't you just say that it had nothing to do with a child?" Min Yong tried to keep Hyun Chul in suspense.


Hyun Chun got frustrated; he really could not understand how a child of 10 years processed so much intelligence.

“Forget it if you don’t want to tell! Next time when you are in trouble, just don’t come to me.” Hyun Chul wore a sullen look.

Indeed as expected, this achieved the desired effect; Min Yong dared not be corky again, as he often relied on Hyun Chul to help him out in many matters!

“OK, OK … Grandma said: Jin Auntie is pretty, her voice is melodious when she speaks; she also said that she behaves naturally with good manner and also something about her being the model of … femininity, aiyoo, I can’t remember clearly, anyway they were all praises! They were all talking about you and Jin Auntie during dinner last night!’

“Grandpa … did he say anything?”

“Grandpa said, … This girl is pretty good.”



Hyun Chul grinned broadly.

He was very glad that his family accepted Sun Mi. Although no matter how his parents looked upon Sun Mi, it would not change his love towards her. Still, he wholeheartedly wished his parents could love and cherish Sun Mi too.

“My mom was so funny!”

“What about your mom?”

“My mom said,” Min Yong imitated his mother’s tone of voice, “This Hyun Chul, he looks as though he has lost his soul, he couldn’t take his eyes off from Miss Jin for even a second.”

Hyun Chul revealed an expression of embarrassment on his handsome face, he was never aware of his own “inappropriate behaviour”.

After lunch, Hyun Chul drove Min Yong home as this was the gentlemen’s agreement between uncle and nephew.

Hyun Chul wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather to take Sun Mi to Wolmido Island, but Sun Mi did not want to go so far away, so they went to spend a little while at Namsan Park.

“Let’s go home!” Sun Mi said.

“Going home?”

Hearing her say these words, the feeling of blessed happiness rose from the bottom of his heart.

On the way home, Sun Mi dragged Hyun Chul to a supermarket to shop.

“Your fridge is empty.” Sun Mi said.

She helped him buy some daily necessities, and bought french bread and pocky. Then they went to the fruit department and bought apples, kiwis, banana, pear and strawberries. He thought she must have eaten too much meat yesterday and wanted some vegetables and fruits, only to find out after they went home that she wanted to prepare the Swiss chocolate pot.

“I am leaving tomorrow and we have to finish this off before I go.” Sun Mi said.

She did not allow Hyun Chul to lay his hands in preparation and spent her time on her own in the kitchen peeling fruits, cutting toast and baking bread, until the task was completed at nearly 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

She carried the fruit platter to the dining room, only to find that Hyun Chul had set up the table. He also lighted up the pair of angel candles they bought yesterday.

“It looks pretty good!” Sun Mi commented with a big smile.

“I am competent in doing a lot of things!”

“These words sound familiar.” Sun Mi said.

Those were what she often told him to his face.

Sun Mi went back to her room and bathed, changing into a fine yellow turtleneck woollen sweater and a long black skirt and put on light makeup. She wanted to dress up prettily and have a romantic dinner with Hyun Chul.

She went to the dining room, but could not find Hyun Chul there. Hearing some noise from the kitchen, she went in and found Hyun Chul cutting red peppers in front of the countertop.

“What are you doing?” She strolled up and stood beside Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul raised his head, wearing a wee smile in his face and said: “I am preparing two portions of fish steak …, we just can’t have desserts as our main course!”

He noticed that Sun Mi had changed into a suit of beautiful clothing and whistled.

Sun Mi laughingly gave his arm a light tap.

“Need any help?”

“You just wait and eat the goodies.” Hyun Chul said.

She stepped back a couple of steps and stood behind his back.

Smoke began to rise out from the frying pan making sizzling sound. Hyun Chul skilfully took out two pieces of cod battered with potato starch and coated with egg juice, lifted up the pan cover and put them flat on the pan, and after just a short of period of time, the fish steaks were fried so nicely that the aroma spread in all directions. She looked at his gentle back and had a sudden urge to step up to give him a hug.

Hyun Chul made pan-fried cod fish with special sauce and also prepared a pot of seafood clam chowder.

“I never thought that you really have real skill.” Sun Mi rested her chin in her hands and smilingly looked at Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul always said he had good skill, but she always thought he was teasing.

“I also just came to the knowledge that you make good breakfast.”

“Making breakfast is easy.”

“Cooking is not difficult either. When I was studying in London, I always cooked myself, plus the fact that I was taught the know-how and after some practices, I managed to master the key to the special techniques.”

Sun Mi jealously said: “So you had expert advice.”

She recalled that Hyun Chul had a girlfriend when he was studying in London.

Hyun Chul lowered his head to try to unscrew the wine bottle and did not notice the jealousy in Sun Mi’s tone of voice.

“My lady landlord was a really nice person and her cooking skill was first class.”

Sun Mi was immediately ashamed of her own pettiness.

Bang! The wine bottle was opened.

“Ice wine couples with chocolate, a perfect match for dessert.”

“Wow!” Sun Mi smilingly said: “Good wine, delicious food, romantic candle light, how blessed we are!”

“You have missed something.”


“Beautiful woman!”

“Yun Hyun Chul, someone said that a man who can cook will easily win a girl’s heart.”

Hyun Chul gently smile, “I’m afraid that is a kind of statement made by a woman who wants to coax a man to cook for her!”

However, she was not trying to coax him; he looked so dashing when he was frying the fish just now.

“Our Great Chef, can we start eating now?”

As she had climbed the slopes this afternoon and spent half a day in the kitchen, her stomach already rumbled with hunger.

“Hmm …, it smells so good!” Sun Mi’s gluttonous look appeared just like a child.

The fish steak was fried just right, it was crispy on the outside and the meat was tender and fresh and the sauce was great too; Sun Mi ate with great gusto.

“Darn, the chocolate sauce needs to be stirred, or else the bottom layer will get burned.” Sun Mi then finally remembered her chocolate pot.

“Let me do it! You carry on with your dinner!” He spoke to her in an indulgent tone of voice.

All the while Sun Mi was eating, she gazed at Hyun Chul.

He lowered his head, concentrating on taking care of her Swiss chocolate pot, his mouth corner wearing the same smile which always captivated her heart.

His mother said he was rough around the edge and was not thoughtful to others, yet since the moment she got to know him, he was ever so gentle, ever so considerate.

She gazed at him, thinking that she had to go back to Tokyo tomorrow and her heart started to ache.

She was reluctant to leave him.

“Don’t worry, I won’t burn your baby.”

Hyun Chul seeing that she kept looking at his direction, thought that she was worried about the chocolate pot would get burned.

“I know you won’t,”

Sun Mi averted her eyes, not letting Hyun Chul notice her tear-filled eyes.

She had been looking forward to this moment.

In a wintry night and under the romantic candle lights, sat down with him around a small pot with tiny fire and enjoyed that share of cosiness and sweetness, but somehow under this very moment, she just could not summon any feeling of joy.

Aye, if only she had a pair of wings, she could just close her eyes and be at his side, wouldn’t it be wonderful, Sun Mi thought.

"Come, take a bite!" Hyun Chul pitched one strawberry coated with chocolate and put it in Sun Mi's mouth.


She gave him a sweet smile, but couldn't stop the feeling of misery in her heart.

At this moment, she felt like the chocolate coated strawberry, both sweet and sour.

In the middle of the night, Sun Mi could not sleep; it was like this since last night. She threw on the dressing gown, wanting to go to watch the moon from the sitting room. Today was the 15th day of the lunar calendar and the layers of cloud were thin, she could certainly see the big round moon; Hyun Chul's sitting room had a panoramic view.

Under the night lamp, there sat a shadow on the sofa before the floor length window; it was Hyun Chul and he sat there smoking.

Was he also suffering from insomnia because of the same reason?

Hyun Chul looked like he was deep in thought, he was not aware of her presence during the whole time. She stood behind him for a good while before she called out to him.

Hyun Chul turned his head in surprise, "Why do you get up in the middle of the night?" Hyun Chul extinguished the cigarette in his hand.

She was wearing his dressing gown, her slender body enveloped inside the big and loose gown did not look too coordinated.

Sun Mi swung the two big long sleeves and replied miserably, “I couldn't sleep."

"Do you need help?"

"Have you ever learned hypnotism?"

"No ..." He pulled her hand, signalling her to lean on his shoulder.

Sun Mi curled her body and huddled in Hyun Chul's arm.


"Hmm ..."

His wide and solid shoulder gave her a sense of warmth and stability.

"It's a perfect angle to watch the moon from here." Sun Mi said.

“It seems as though I have become the viewing terrace.”

Sun Mi gently smiled, “Right, the most super and comfortable viewing terrace …,” She raised her eyes to look at Hyun Chul, “You … what were you thinking of just now?”

“I was thinking … about the firm’s business.” He gently caressed her cheek.

He was thinking, was it the time to ask her to return to Seoul; he wanted to be able to see her anytime. Initially he planned to take the opportunity of her trip to Seoul this time to raise this issue with her. However, the announcement of the firm’s new personnel affairs stipulations a couple of days ago disrupted his plan. Under the firm’s new stipulations, family members could not work under the same department. Sun Mi and he were not related at present, but with things between them, plus the fact that he was the leading man in charge of Korean investment banking, in order to avoid suspicion, all he could do was to place her in some place like the research department or trade department etc. which did not have any direct relationship with the business he oversaw. He really was not so hardhearted as to ask her to give up the job she loved in order to satisfy his own selfish motive. Sun Mi loved her present job and every time when she mentioned her job, her eyes would beam with high spirit.

“Have you ever thought of changing your job?” He asked her.

Sun Mi shook her head, “No, I have only been in this job for three years!”

Hyun Chul stayed silent.

“Sun Mi …”


“Have you ever thought … maybe some day we will be working for different companies?”

This may be a bad move, but this way she could still be doing the work she loved, Hyun Chul thought.

“What? Someone wants to head-hunt you?” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul with surprise.

Hyun Chul smiled, “I was just making a supposition, perhaps you may be the one who will be head-hunted! If … another company wants to lure you to come to Seoul to take charge of finance and merger work, will you consider doing it?”

“No!” Sun Mi replied resolutely.


“I don’t want to get into hot temper with you when we have to scramble for each other’s businesses.”

“That is of no consequence. This kind of situation often happens in our profession.”

In their field of business, the situation of man and wife and brothers and sisters rendering services to different companies happened all the time.

“I certainly don’t want that …” Sun Mi curled her lips, “Someday if I were to successfully snatch away the business of Samsung, your boss would misunderstand and think you deliberately concede it to me. I simply won’t want you to be wrongly accused.”

Hyun Chul found Sun Mi’s reply irritating and funny at the same time and he abandoned all the worries that weighed on his mind for the time being.

For a long while, Sun Mi nestled close in Hyun Chul’s arm and remained motionless and he thought she had gone to sleep. To his surprise, she suddenly gave a deep sigh: “Aye, I still couldn’t go to sleep, can you please talk to me!”

“You couldn’t sleep …, huh …, do you want to dance?” Hyun Chul asked.

“Dance? Now?” Sun Mi stared wide open.

“Correct, right now.”

Hyun Chul put on a CD of lyrical dance music.

Hyun Chul elegantly and gracefully bowed to Sun Mi which made Sun Mi breaking into laughter.

“It looks very strange for two people to dance wearing their pyjamas.”

“I won’t raise any objection if you want to go to your room and change into an evening dress.” He circled her waist.

Sun Mi cast a look at Hyun Chul and puckered in smile.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought you didn’t dance.”

She had never danced with him before.


“I have read an article saying that you father hated dancing.”

“Since I was young, I always acted contrary to my father’s expectation. The more he objected, the more I would do it. I learned to dance when I was in year 1 of senior high.”

“Hmm …” She stared at him mockingly, “I can see it, you are a born rebel.”

“Aye, I have not danced for five to six years. If I were to step on your toes, please don’t get mad at me.”

Hyun Chul tightened his arms, gathering Sun Mi closely in his embrace; the two of them gracefully danced to the romantic and beautiful melody.

Sun Mi discovered that Hyun Chul really danced well.

Hyun Chul was kissing Sun Mi while dancing.

He kissed her hair, he kissed her ear, he kissed her brows, he kissed her nose, he kissed her lips.

She lost concentration and stepped on his feet a few times.

“When you dance with others, do you always misbehave this way?”

“That is because my dancing partner is too bewitching.”

“What is so bewitching when I am dressed in this way?” Sun Mi gave a pouting smile.

She did not put on any makeup and was even wearing her pyjamas.

“In my eyes, you are the most bewitching every hour and moment of the day…” He lightly pecked at her lips, “When I see you, I would be held spell-bound; my sister-in-law said yesterday that it looked as if I had lost my soul and my visions nearly never left your body for a second.”

She was hugging close to him and finished dancing to the whole piece of the CD music.

The music stopped, Sun Mi buried her head in Hyun Chul’s chest and remained silent for a long long while.

“Hey, you haven’t got to sleep, have you? Hyun Chul teasingly asked.

Sun Mi slowly raised her head.

“Hyun Chul …” The sombre look on her face startled Hyun Chul.

“What happens? You are not feeling well?”

“No,” Sun Mi tried to force a smile, “Tomorrow, please don’t go to the airport to see me off.”


“I’m afraid you will shed tears in the airport.” Sun Mi said.

Hyun Chul patted her head and said, “Don’t worry, I am very strong.”

“No …,” Sun Mi’s eyes reddened.

Hyun Chul drew her deeply into his arms, he understood that she was loathed to leave him.

“Let’s board the plane and go to Jeju to watch the sunrise?” He wanted her to stay for two more days.

She mentioned she would go to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak with him to watch the sunrise in the New year.

Sun Mi forced a smile and shook her head, “On January 3, I have to attend a committee meeting for a case with the people in London and I have to go back to make preparation.”

Hyun Chul melancholy said: “It looks as though I am not as important as your work.”

“It’s not like that …, “ Sun Mi was so desperately anxious that she was near to tears, “In my heart, you are more important than any work, but …”

“But what?” Hyun Chul looked at her anxiously.

“I still have Papa.”

Seeing Sun Mi’s tearful face, Hyun Chul could not help reproaching himself for saying something so emotional.

“I’m just joking, I didn’t mean it.”

“Hyun Chul …” She hugged him close.

She knew he was trying to make her feel better.

“Yun Hyun Chul …, do you want to consider getting a new girlfriend, maybe, maybe … it is still not too late?”

Just now when Hyun Chul made oblique references about her changing her job, she pretended not to understand the hidden meaning, but she was feeling terrible; she was really unfair to him.

Hyun Chul gazed at Sun Mi with profound love, “Do you know? Since the moment when I held your hand in Ginkgo Biloba pathway, I have resolved to guard and protect you till the end of time.”

She was speechless and tears gushing forth from her eyes.

The next day, indeed he wouldn’t do what he was asked to and took her to the airport.

She resolutely made up her mind that she would not shed even one tear before him this time.

Sun Mi delayed until the last minute before getting up; she smilingly waved Hyun Chul goodbye and after passing through the passport check point, her tears flowed out in abundance.

At some moment, how she wished Hyun Chul would ask her to stay; yet she was afraid, what would her answer be if he really asked her. She loved him, she wanted to stay by his side, but she could not abandon his father. When parental love and romantic love were put on two ends of the scales at the same time, she really could not make the choice and she was experiencing extreme conflicts in her heart.




AXS – Chapter 27
Written by Jennifer
Source: AAEV
Translated by nho (Can)

Taking advantage of her meeting break, Sun Mi went back to her office to check her emails. The lawyer promised to email her a copy of the clients’ prospectus in the afternoon. Since the beginning of the year, she had been busy with this project.

“Sun Mi!” Michiko called out to her, “You have a visitor.”

“Visitor?” Sun Mi wore a surprise expression as she could not remember making any appointment to see anyone today.

“It’s a very beautiful lady. She has been waiting in the reception room for over half an hour, maybe … she is your rival in love!” Michiko jokingly said.

Sun Mi went into the reception room, wondering.

When she saw that incomparable exquisite face, there was a roaring sound in her brain.

It was her! She was the one who was with Hyun Chul in London.

“Miss Jin?” That woman elegantly stood up, her eyes haughtily looked at Sun Mi up and down.

“I am Jin Sun Mi.” Sun Mi with bated breath, looked at the woman before her.

When she saw her from a distance, she only thought she was good looking, but today when they were standing close, she was really marvelled at her beauty.

“I am Kim Hye Ju and I am a friend of Hyun Chul.” Kim Hye Ju magnanimously held out her hand. Her voice was pleasing to the ears, very sweet and girlish.

So she was Kim Hye Ju! This name appeared repeatedly in her ears, but she had never made any connection with the beauty she saw in London, she was really slow-witted.

“How do you do.” Sun Mi slightly calmed the chaotic feelings in her heart, put on a smile and shook hands with Kim Hye Ju, although she was displeased at the way Kim Hye Ju was looking at her.

“Do you want to see me for something?” As Kim Hye Ju was Hyun Chul’s friend, she behaved in a friendly manner.

Kim Hye Ju threw a quick glance around, “It’s nothing important. I heard Auntie saying that you work in Tokyo and I just want to get to know a little about you.” “Auntie?”

“Oh, it’s Hyun Chul’s mother.” Kim Hye Ju explained.

She then remembered Hyun Chul mentioning about Kim Hye Ju being his mother’s god-daughter.

“We can go out and find some place to talk, can we?” Kim Hye Ju said.

Sun Mi’s heart shivered with fear; what … did she want to talk about? Her appearance did not give an impression of a least bit of friendliness.

“Eh …” Sun Mi looked at her watch, “I have to go back to the meeting right away …” She did not in the least want to have any dealings with her.

“It doesn’t matter. I can wait for you.” Kim Hye Ju gave Sun Mi a glance, “I will wait for you in the coffee shop of Tokyo City Hall at 5:30 p.m.”

Kim Hye Ju sounded as if she was giving out an order and this made Sun Mi feel very uncomfortable.

The appearance of Kim Hye Ju seriously disrupted her state of mind. She could vaguely feel that Kim Hye Ju came with ill intentions and furthermore it was to do with Hyun Chul. Sun Mi sat in the boardroom absent-mindedly, her brain flashed with all kinds of laughable thoughts. Luckily the second half of the review meeting did not have any direct connection with the projects she was handling.

She left some instructions to her colleagues and as agreed, at 5:30 p.m. she came to the coffee shop situated on the 47th floor of the Tokyo City Hall. She had to return later to continue discussing the documents and materials with her colleagues.

This place was not the least unfamiliar to her. Very often when she and Hyun Chul got tired after window shopping, they would come to the top floor of these super skycrapers in West Gate to have afternoon tea, or enjoy a candle light dinner here. Coincidentally, the seats Kim Hye Chu picked were the ones she and Hyun Chul usually picked.

Sun Mi ordered a cup of caramel macchiatto and added in some more sugar. She particularly liked to eat sweet stuff when she was feeling fidgety.

“You take so much sugar and can still maintain a good figure. It’s really remarkable.” Kim Hye Ju lifted the corner of her mouth.

She then noticed that Kim Hye Ju was drinking black coffee.

“You must certainly be surprised at why I came to see you!”

Kim Hye Ju gathered her hair together with her hands while she was speaking; her bodily movement was exceedingly fascinating and charming. If she were a man, she would become infatuated with her at first glance and only if her eyes could look softer and gentler, perhaps she would be more likeable.

Perhaps, her unfriendliness was only aimed at her only, she thought.

"Probably ..., you have already guessed that I come here to see you because of Hyun Chul."

Sun Mi's heart gave a lurch. As expected, her premonition was correct.

"I only learned about your existence when Hyun Chul Oppa took that little black evening dress you rented from my boutique and returned it." So the dress she rented to attend Da Rong's dinner actually came from Kim Hye Ju's boutique. No wonder when Hyun Chul heard of the name of the boutique, he wore a strange expression on his face.

"Do you know? He bought that dress for you." Kim Hye Ju's tone of voice revealed extreme jealousy.

"Really?" Sun Mi's mouth twitched upwards.

He openly bought that dress for her in front of Kim Hye Ju, thus making her heart suddenly become light and clear. No matter whatever kind of relationship was between Hyun Chul and Kim Hye Ju before, it was now all in the past.

"You are running a very tasteful boutique." Sun Mi said.

"I went to make enquiry from Auntie and got a clear idea about you."

It looked as though Kim Hye Ju never heard Sun Mi's words, she carried on speaking.

"Why do you have to come between me and Hyun Chul Oppa? If it is not for you, we probably would have come together."

Sun Mi startled; somehow she did not know how to reply to this sudden and unjustifiable question.

"What kind of devious means did you use to get him?"

Kim Hye Ju's overbearing tone of voice made Sun Mi a little angry. She tried her best to control her own emotion.

"Love is the matching of two hearts, and it does not need any devious means." Sun Mi calmly said.

"I don't believe you ...," Kim Hye Ju angrily looked at Sun Mi, "Granted, you are not bad looking, but you are only the daughter of a teacher, on what basis did you manage to win Hyun Chul Oppa's favour. Speaking of look and family background, you can't even compare to mine ... I heard that girls in your profession would resort to extreme measures in order to scramble for businesses and for promotion ..."

"Miss Kim, please show some respect in your words!"

Sun Mi flushed red in the face and cut off Kim Hye Ju's words, she could not listen anymore.

Kim Hye Ju sneered, "I heard that your have broken the firm's rule this year and got promoted. I think maybe Hyun Chul Oppa must have taken some trouble!"

Heaven! She was simply driven mad with anger by the nonsense uttered by the woman sitting before her. She wanted to yell and scream at her, but, she still suppressed her anger.

“What do you really want?” She did not want to tangle with her anymore.

“I want you to give back Hyun Chul Oppa to me, I want you to let go.” Kim Hye Ju coldly said.

Sun Mi looked at Kim Hye Ju, she suddenly felt admiration for this woman; she admired her for being able to speak frankly and without reservation, as she herself would never be able to act in this manner.

“I will give up.” Sun Mi said.

Kim Hye Ju’s face revealed astonishment; Sun Mi’s reply shocked her.

Sun Mi’s eyes shone with a hint of a smile, “If one day when Hyun Chul finds there is some other woman who would suit him better, I will definitely let go and wish him luck, but before that happens, I will work hard to safeguard the love that belongs to me.”

Kim Hye Ju was taken aback; she looked at the woman before her who outwardly appeared to be slender and gentle, but beyond her expectation, behaved calmly and unwaveringly. She did not retreat timidly by her fierce and imposing manner; she did not get enraged by her sarcasm; she just faced her with perfect calm and it seemed as though she was a totally irrelevant person.

Kim Hye Ju looked straight at Sun Mi, and could only utter a sentence after quite a while, “You are tougher than I imagined.” She clearly knew that the gentle woman before her would not accept defeat and give way easily and under her delicate appearance, there was a heart full of perseverance and determination.

“I always thought,” Kim Hye Ju’s eyes remained on Sun Mi’s face, “a man like Hyun Chul Oppa who is so career-minded, would need a woman who could stay by his side devoting all her time taking care of his daily life, just like his father and brother. I never imagined he would fall in love with you who lives so far away. I won’t concede defeat. Do you know? I have lived to this age and until now, what I want, I never let slip.”

She found it difficult to accept the fact that she lived conveniently close to Hyun Chul and unexpectedly lost to Sun Mi who lived far away in Japan.

Sun Mi looked at Kim Hye Ju and swallowed the words she wanted to say.

Personal affection was between two individuals, one could not clap with one hand only!

The cell phone rang and Sun Mi answered the phone.

“Hello! Jin Sun Mi speaking …”

It was Sam calling her from the solicitors office.

“I’m sorry, but I have to attend some urgent business in the office.” Sun Mi stood up.

“Jin Sun Mi, I won’t give up and I will get Hyun Chul Oppa back from you. I will live up to my words.” Kim Hye Ju gravely declared.

Sun Mi bade Kim Hye Ju goodbye and before she left the café, she paid for her own share of the bill as she didn’t want to be indebted to Kim Hye Ju and similarly, she knew Kim Hye Ju also did not want to be indebted to her, not even for a cup of coffee.

When Sun Mi left the office, it was near to 11:00 p.m. The air was filled with humidity, damp and depressive, she looked at the sky and was too lazy to go back for her umbrella. The weather did not forecast any rainfall today.

She drew a long breath, it had been a long day and she had just finished attending a lengthy telephone conference.

The urgent phone call this afternoon was from Sam who informed her that the Luxembourg Stock Exchange was planning to revise the rules and regulations pertaining to the disclosure of financial information by listing companies. Accordingly to plan, the project she had in hand were to submit the application to the Luxembourg Stock Exchange for the listing of the company for stock trading tomorrow, but now being faced with the imminent change of the rules and regulations, various operational details were affected. In order not to delay the issuance timeframe, she had to spend all night contacting clients, lawyers and accountants to debate whether or not to change the location of listing and to revise all relevant contract details.

In the dead of the night, the train compartment was relatively empty. She picked a seat by the window and sat down. All night passengers stayed in their respective corner as if in tacit understanding, and were deep in their own thoughts; perhaps after a weary and tired day, they all needed some privacy to settle their state of mind.

Watching the scenery going in reverse direction outside the window, she suddenly recollected that time after the Fireworks how she and Hyun Chul jostled in the jam-packed compartment when they were on their way home …, smile crept up on the corners of her mouth. Since that time, it seemed like they had not been in a crowded train again.

What was he doing at this moment?

Sun Mi looked at her watch. It was now 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon in London. Hyun Chul only boarded the plane at 1:00 p.m., it would take him another three hours before the plane would land. Due to his excellent performance, Hyun Chul earned appreciation and recognition from the top management in London and was elected to the board of directors. Starting from this year, he had to make a trip to London once a month and thus lessened the time they could spend together.

After she had alighted from the train and had only walked a short distance, rain suddenly drizzled from the sky. Sun Mi quickened her steps and hurried to the direction of home. The rain was falling heavier and Sun Mi was dripping wet when she reached home.

“Why didn’t you call me to go and get you!”

Gui Cheng could not help chastening her when he saw that her daughter got drenched.

“I was only a few steps away from home.” Sun Mi said cheerfully.

“Really! What if you catch a cold!”

She went to bed but could not sleep no matter how hard she tried.

Sun Mi turned over and crouched down on her pillows. She lifted her head and looked at the sky out of the window. It had stopped raining and the moon showed up half of its face. Three more hours to go before the sun would set in London.

She extended her hand to get hold of the photo sitting on the bedside table, stared at it for a long moment before tucking it in her bosom.

Today she particularly missed him; was it because of Kim Hye Ju’s appearance?

Relaxing her strained emotion, the thing which was driven to the back of her mind by her preoccupation in work, had unconsciously detoured back to the forefront of her mind. Kim Hye Ju said Hyun Chul needed someone who could be staying by his side and devoting all her time taking care of his daily life, was it really the case? All the taunts and jeers Kim Hye Ju uttered, she did not take heed, only these words alone could touch her to the heart. She was flustered, feeling she was letting him down.

Suddenly she wanted to hear his voice, she wanted to seek tender consolation from the gentleness in his voice in order to soothe that uneasy restlessness in her heart.

She waited and waited, dawdling until it was 3:30 a.m., ascertaining that he may have arrived at the hotel and directed a call to him. The hotel receptionist transferred the call for her.

“Hello.” Hyun Chul’s voice transmitted through the phone line.

“It’s me.” She happily said.

“Sun Mi …” Hyun Chul was startled. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

It was now 3:30 a.m. in Seoul.

“I … am missing you!” She candidly answered.

“Really?” Hyun Chul’s heart swelled with sweetness.

She could feel the laughter in Hyun Chul’s voice and she could imagine the smile he was now wearing.

“Then what shall we do?” Hyun Chul asked her playfully.

“Aye, I too don’t know what to do!” Sun Mi gently sighed.

Across the phone, listening to Sun Mi’s heaving and sighing, his mind at once surfaced with her frowning and pouting look, Hyun Chul could not help laughing.

“So miserable!” Hyun Chul fondly said: “Take a look at one of my pictures, perhaps it might help.”

He said half-jokingly.

Sun Mi looked at that dashing and handsome face in her bosom and replied with a grimace:

“I tried, but it didn’t work.”

“How about counting sheeps?”

“I am not good at maths.”

Hyun Chul could not help laughing involuntarily, this moment she was throwing tantrums like a little girl.

“Miss, don’t tell me you don’t have to go to work tomorrow?”

“Who said? … Ha Choo! ” Sun Mi sneezed.

“Hey, what’s up? Are you wearing too little? Be careful not to catch a cold.”

“It’s OK!” Sun Mi could not care less, but her brain was getting heavier.

“Go to bed quickly, or else you won’t be able to get up in the morning.”

“Why do you keep pressing me to go to bed? I have waited for the whole night in order to talk to you …” She lost her temper with him on purpose.

Hyun Chul was at a loss whether to cry or laugh, so he just had to patiently coax his girlfriend who was throwing her temper because she was missing him.

Sun Mi hid inside the duvet, wearing a crafty and self-satisfied smile. This time she succeeded in fooling him.

She loved that feeling of infinite love and indulgence and the taste of blessed happiness when he coaxed her.

She drifted off to dreamland in the midst of his low and tender talk.

Sun Mi dreamed happily, but in the morning she woke up with a pounding headache. When she measured her body temperature, she unexpectedly had a fever, which was most probably resulting from last night’s drenching . She had no choice but had to ask for half day’s sick leave to rest at home. Fortunately, last night’s business had already been taken care of, or else she had to go to the office no matter how ill she was feeling. She gave instructions to her colleague to contact her at home if something urgent popped up.

Papa instructed her to take her prescription and rest more. She worried that she would miss any call from her colleague, so she did not dare to sleep but just hugged her knees and leaned against the bed board to rest.

The sun was shining brilliantly outside, making one’s heart warm and cozy.

Suddenly, there came a child’s crying noise from outside of the window. Sun Mi popped out her head and looked, there she saw a little girl crying because the balloon got blown away from her hand. The red balloon was fluttering in the wind and in a short while was flying high in the sky and the girl’s mother was trying to comfort her daughter on one side.

Sun Mi could not help smiling.

She remembered once in her childhood day she had also felt sorry and cried loudly when her hand slipped and let the balloon blown away. At that time, her mother had comforted her by saying that the balloon wanted to fly away itself, because the sky was so spacious that it could freely roam anywhere. She nodded with tears in her eyes, but in actual fact she could not understand a bit, all she knew was she had lost something she loved and she was unwilling to let it go.

Sun Mi watched the balloon disappearing in the clouds, her heart seemed to have been touched emotionally …

She wanted to keep the things she loved at her side; was he also wishing from the bottom of his heart for a gentle dependent girl who could stay at his side?

He was really good to her, throughout he had been so considerate of her feeling; at the beginning when he started courting her, he always jokingly requested her to return to work in Seoul, but later, he never mentioned the matter again. However from the look in his eyes, or from some unintentional conversations, she knew how he wished he would be able to see her any time, the same way as how she wished she had a pair of wings to allow her to fly to his side. Yet he selflessly gave her the whole sky, letting her roam freely, letting her enjoy his infinite generous love.

Thinking of this made her heart ache and the scenery before her eyes seemed to be covered with a thin layer of gauze, her visions became blurry …

The ringing of the telephone woke up the absentminded Sun Mi.


“Sun Mi …” A voice of full of worries came from the other side of the phone, “Are you sick?”

It was Hyun Chun.

Sun Mi did not even have time to respond before Hyun Chul continued: “I called you in the office and they told me you are on sick leave.”

“It’s just minor flu. Why are you making a fuss?” She lightly replied.

“Minor flu? You stay at home on sick leave because of minor flu? Come, tell me the truth at once.” Hyun Chul sounded a little bit angry.

“I was drenched yesterday and now have a little fever! … Really just a little fever, I am telling the truth. Besides I have taken some prescription and the fever has gone.”


“I swear, I haven’t lie to you; if you don’t believe, you can ask Papa.”

He could hear that she spoke with energy and spirit and this set his mind at rest.

“Hey, why aren’t you sleeping in the middle of the night instead of calling the office to check attendance?”

It was 1:00 a.m. midnight in London.

“I worried that you didn’t have enough sleep last night and didn’t have energy to go to work.”

“It is your first time to attend the board of directors’ meeting and you must not doze off and get sacked.”

“That is what I wish for earnestly. This way, I can go to London one trip less each month.”

“It can’t be done! We all rely on you to fight for our welfare.”

He was the first Asian to join the board of directors and everyone was expecting him to fight for distribution of more resources in the Asian region.

“Wow, what extreme pressure!”

“It’s as well that you are aware of the fact! Therefore, for the sake of the hundreds of employees in the Asian region, I urge you to go to bed early!”

She mischievously put a big label on him.

"I cannot control the affairs of hundreds of employees, but ... if you say that it is for the sake of my health and ask me to behave and go to bed, I will immediately do as I'm told."

Last night, it was she who fooled around and now it was his turn to make trouble and refused to hang up.

"Hey, don't you know you talked in your dream last night!"

He told her she went to sleep when they were talking. Later, he heard her mumble in her sleep.



"What did I say?'

"You said something about snatching something and about letting go and not letting go."
Sun Mi's heart fluttered.

"Hey, are you working under too much pressure and think of scrambling for business even in your dream?" Hyun Chul teased.

"What did I also say?" Sun Mi anxiously asked.

She did not want Hyun Chul to know of Kim Hye Ju's visit, after all the Yuns and Kims had long standing friendships and she did not want Hyun Chul to bear a grudge against Kim Hye Ju because of her.

"Do you mean something like unmentionable secrets?"

"Huh ... something like that."

"Well," Hyun Chul purposely tried to create suspense and after quite a while before unhurriedly answered: "It didn't seem so!"

"Really no?"

"See how anxious you are. Hey, you are not hiding something from me, aren't you?"

"I can't hide anything from you. I even let you hear my dream talk, what more do you want?"

"You are right." Hyun Chul smiled, "OK, I won't interrupt your rest ..., should I say good morning, or goodnight?"

"Good night, Director Yun." Her heart had already flown to London and stayed with him.

"Good morning, Miss Jin Sun Mi." Hyun Chul smilingly responded.

"Hyun Chul ..." She stopped him.


"Am I a very lousy girlfriend?"

Hyun Chul's mouth revealed a smile, why did she always ask such silly questions.

"You are a perfect girlfriend in my heart."

"Really?" She asked him, totally lacking in confidence.

He was a 100 full marks lover, and she herself could barely qualify!

"What? Did anyone say anything to you?"

It looked as though Hyun Chul could sense her despondence.

"No ... no, I want to ask you this question myself. Every time when I thought of your car accident last time, I feel awful and blame myself. If you didn't come to Tokyo, you would not have that accident."

"Silly girl," Hyun Chul smilingly said: "That was an accident, no matter where you are, accidents can always happen."

His comfort and thoughtfulness only made her feel more ashamed in her heart.

"Hey, I urge you not to entertain more foolish ideas." Hyun Chul sounded worried.

Aye, she should not let him worried sick.

Sun Mi gave a sigh and tried to brace up herself.

"Go to bed quickly! Or else you won't be able to get up tomorrow!" She said to him.

"You let me see your smile first!"

Sun Mi laughed at his words, "How can you see me when we are separated by the phone?"

"I can feel it, we have mental rapport."

After hanging up the phone, Sun Mi came before her desk and took out from the drawer the newspapers she especially kept it there a couple of days ago. She turned to the classified employment section ....



AXS – Chapter 28
Written by Jennifer
Source: AAEV
Translated by nho

Sun Mi rested her chin in her hands, staring enrapturously at Hyun Chul who was chatting with Papa. She loved to look at him, not because he was so dashing that he could charm a carload of female; she loved to look at him because he was always full of vitality and always bore a look of confidence; she loved to look at him because when he was speaking, his mouth always slightly lifted at the corners and his eyes shone with brilliant radiance.

“What is the smell?” Gui Cheng asked Sun Mi with a frown.

“Alas! My apple pie …” Sun Mi jumped from her seat.

She paid too much attention to their conversation and completely forgot the pie that was baking in the oven.

Sun Mi remorsefully brought the burned apple pie to the table.

“It is not too bad … very crispy.”

Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul and only half believed him.

“It is true.” Hyun Chul took another big mouthful.

“It really tastes good.”

Gui Cheng also echoed what Hyun Chul said and smile then began to light up Sun Mi’s face.

“Hyun Chul, thanks to you that I have a lot of good food lately.”

Recently, so long as Hyun Chul was in Tokyo, Sun Mi would do the cooking and every time she would be trying a new dish.

Sun Mi’s face flushed red on hearing Papa’s words.

“I am only using you two as guinea-pigs.” Sun Mi retorted defiantly.

“Guinea-pigs? Well then I better go and get insurance cover.” Gui Cheng laughingly said.

“Papa …”

Both father and daughter ended up in heaps of laughter.

“Hyun Chul, do you know what Japanese TV programs Sun Mi likes best?”

Gui Cheng gave his daughter a side glance.

Hyun Chul shook his head, looking at Sun Mi, was it idol drama? She had mentioned to him about viewing Japanese dramas.

“It is a program on gourmet cooking. Every time when this program is on air, she will stare intently at the TV screen and won’t even bother taking phone calls. If she has to work overtime, she would ask me to tape the program for her …”

“Papa, don’t you think that the food shown there makes your mouth water just by looking at them?” Sun Mi was defending herself.

Hyun Chul ridiculed Sun Mi with his finger, making fun of her gluttony for food.

Sun Mi retaliated by making a face at Hyun Chun.

Gui Cheng blissfully said, “Before it was pure appreciation for this girl, but now it is even better, she will put theory to practice, ha ha …” Gui Cheng was winking at Sun Mi while speaking, but Sun Mi pretended not to see.

“My girl! You learned so much Japanese cuisine, what if your future husband doesn’t like Japanese food?”

Sun Mi protruded her lips, “I am learning Japanese cuisine for myself and if somebody doesn’t like it, it’s just too bad!”

“Wow! So domineering!” Gui Cheng smilingly gave Hyun Chul a glance, “It looks as though the person who courts you must rely on himself.”

Hyun Chul gave a bashful smile.

The three of them happily ate the dessert prepared by Sun Mi.

“Right, girl …” Gui Cheng suddenly thought of something.

“Papa, what’s the matter?”

“Haven’t you prepared some Korean kimji, let Hyun Chul try some!”

Sun Mi’s face flushed red, silently mumbling that Papa talked too much. She absolutely didn’t want Hyun Chul to know about her learning to make kimji.

“No!” Sun Mi vigorously shook her head.

“Sun Mi knows how to make kimji, how come she has never let me know?” Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi with keen interest; she told him clearly that she did not know how to make kimji.

Hyun Chul wore a faint smile and it made Sun Mi all the more uncomfortable.

“When this girl came back from Seoul after Christmas, she praised about how tasty kimji was and pestered Young Shun into teaching her how to make kimji.”

“I see!” Hyun Chul suppressed his smile but was silently laughingly non-stop. The last time when they were in Seoul, the only time they had kimji was at his parents’ place eating the kimji prepared by his mother.

“If I am aware that you love kimji, I would have got two pots for you to take home.”

When Gui Cheng was not paying attention, Hyun Chul mischievously winked at Sun Mi.

Sun Mi humourlessly glowered at Hyun Chul in return.

Under Gui Cheng and Hyun Chul joint commotion, Sun Mi could only bring out the kimji she made.

“Try some, I think it’s quite good.” Gui Cheng said.

Hyun Chul picked up some and put them into his mouth.

“How’s that?” Gui Cheng asked.

Sun Mi stealthily stole a look at Hyun Chul’s response

“Hmm … very good, it tastes like Mom’s!” Hyun Chul replied and at the same time imitated the exaggerated act of those gourmet judges on the TV cooking shows.

Sun Mi broke into laughter and punched Hyun Chul with a fist.

“Sun Mi, can you pack some for me to take back to Seoul?”

Gui Cheng quickly consented without waiting for Sun Mi’s reply.

Hyun Chul followed Sun Mi into the kitchen to pack the kimji.

“Only that little? … it is not enough.” Hyun Chul looked at the pot of kimji and could not help grumbling,

“You are not home that often, why do you need that much?”

“I plan to give some to my mother.”

“What?” Sun Mi glared with her big eyes and snatched the pot of kimji from Hyun Chul’s hands.

Looking at Sun Mi’s expression of anxiety, Hyun Chul almost doubled up in fits of laughter.

After dinner, the three of them idly chatted at the sitting room; someone was pressing the door bell and Gui Cheng got up and answered the door. The caller was someone familiar and they could hear Gui Cheng talking to that person in a friendly way.

“Sun Mi, Hiroyoshi is looking for you.”


Hiroyoshi? Hyun Chul was curious, so he popped his head out and looked, it was the young Japanese guy he had met face to face before and Sun Mi told him that he was Gui Cheng’s colleague.

Sun Mi stood at the door and spoke to Hiroyoshi for a little while before she went back in.

“What is up?” Gui Cheng asked Sun Mi.

Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul and said awkwardly: “Nothing important!”

The kettle was boiling with the whistling sound; Sun Mi got up and went to the kitchen to make tea. Gui Cheng and Hyun Chul stayed in the sitting room chatting about the imminent danger of the credit card financial crisis in Korea. The credit card subsidiary company of the LG Group wanted to gain an upper hand in market share, so during the last few years they extended their credit business on a grand scale and as a result they were now in an embarrassing situation of having to face bankruptcy restructuring.

The phone was ringing. Gui Cheng picked up the phone. It was a distant call and it seemed the other party was inviting Gui Cheng to New York.

“Professor, you are going to New York for a conference?”

Hyun Chul curiously asked Gui Cheng.

“No, I am going there to check the environment.”

“To check the environment?”

“My 3-year term will soon expire here and I want a change of environment. The school over in New York is inviting me to go there to have a talk.”

Hyun Chul’s face slightly changed colour.

“Sun Mi … does she know of Professor’s plan?” Hyun Chul asked haltingly.

“Huh, I mentioned it to her.”

Why had Sun Mi never mentioned this to him? Hyun Chul was feeling uneasy.

Sun Mi had stayed with Professor for the last few years, would she want to follow Professor to New York? Thinking of this made Hyun Chul’s mood sink deep and low.

On their way to the subway station, Sun Mi happily mentioned to Hyun Chul about “Les Miserables” playing in Japan.

“Les Miserables” had just concluded its last performance in New York and commenced its world tour for its farewell performance. Next month it would be staging in Tokyo. Sun Mi had watched “Les Miserables” with a friend in New York and as she was deeply touched by its overwhelming plot and the excellent performance of its casting, all this time she looked forward to watching this play again in person. She mentioned to Hyun Chul about finding time to watch this play and after a long while, she discovered that Hyun Chul was not listening to a word she said.

“Hey! What’s wrong with you? Where have your mind wandered to?”

She was shaking his arm.

He was all the time pondering the fact that Gui Cheng was going to New York.

“Let it be.” Sun Mi pouted her lips.

“Oh.” Hyun Chul responded with a sound but did not follow with a question, but just put his hands in his pockets and continued to walk ahead.

Sun Mi watched his back frowning and wondered what was wrong with him?

When they reached the subway station, Hyun Chul unexpectedly told Sun Mi not to accompany him.

“Don’t come with me, I can take the subway to the Tokyo station myself.” Hyun Chul said.

Sun Mi was stunned; usually even if Hyun Chul did not want Sun Mi to accompany him to the Narita Airport, he would let her go with him to the Tokyo Express station and there the two of them would find it too difficult to tear apart and were anxious to spend every minute of their time together. She had waited for a whole week to see him and he offhandedly wanted to get rid of her in a hurry; Sun Mi was vexed.

“I am going with you!” Sun Mi petulantly replied.

Hyun Chul was shocked by Sun Mi’s tone of voice.

“What’s up?”

“You should be one to answer this question? Why do you want to drive me away in a hurry?”

Sun Mi said with a heart full of grievances as he was cool and indifferent towards her all the way.

“I … I drive you away?” Hyun Chul did not know whether to laugh or cry: “You spent the whole day slaving in the kitchen and you have a business trip tomorrow. I don’t want you to tire yourself, that’s why I am asking you not to accompany me.”

Hyun Chul got hold of Sun Mi’s hand and Sun Mi wanted to resentfully fling away from him, but could not escape from the stronghold of his hand.

Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi’s angry face, silently berating himself for neglecting her.

He smilingly told her: “How I anxiously wish that I could put you in a bag and take you home … do you know where I can buy that kind of elastic bag …” Hyun Chul mischievously drew his face near to Sun Mi’s.

“You are annoying!”

This was then Sun Mi turned from sulks to smile.

After they boarded the train, Hyun Chul was chatting happily with her, but Sun Mi had a general feeling that there was something not right, it seemed as though there was something in Hyun Chul’s mind. Should it be something disagreeable taking place in the office? She had never seen him like that, or was it because just then …”

“Is there something wrong at the office?” She carefully examined his facial expression.

Aye! She could read his mind?

Hyun Chul lifted his eyebrow and smilingly said: “Why did you ask?”

“Because you are wearing a “superior” face.”

“”Superior” face?” Hyun Chul laughed involuntarily, “Can I ask what is a “superior” face?”

She glanced at him, smouldered with laughter: “That means a face of inscrutableness!”

He was always wearing such an inscrutable face when he was chairing a meeting and it always made people in awe of him. She considered him to be a born-leader material.

Hyun Chul broke into laughter, “It seems someone is acting clever.” He dotingly caressed her face.

“Really?” She looked at him suspiciously, pouted her lips and shook her head.

“Yun Hyun Chul. you are not …” Sun Mi wanted to say something but stopped on second thought.

“Huh?” Hyun Chul looked at her.

“Er … were you not pleased that I talked to Sanada Hiroyoshi?” She worried that he might be jealous.

Hyun Chul gave a soft smile, “Do you think I am a man without style of character?”

“He came to see me about the showing of “Les Miserables” in Tokyo and asked whether I want to go with him to see the musical …”

“You often go out with him?” He glanced at her.

“I have only gone with him to a concert once and with Papa to keep us company.”

No matter whether he cared for not, she would like to make the matter clear.

Looking at Sun Mi’s face of anxiety, Hyun Chul couldn’t help laughing: “See how anxious you look? Do I look like a jealous man? Actually … you can still go with him to the play.”

“No, I don’t want to. I only want to go with you …” Sun Mi firmly said.

“What if I can’t spare time to go with you?”

“Then I will go on my own.”

“Hyun Chul, are you hiding something from me?” She suddenly asked him.

You were the one who were hiding something from me! Hyun Chul silently sighed.

“No!” Hyun Chul replied.

“But …, I am feeling that you are acting in a strange way.” She looked at him with worry.

“Me acting in a strange way? In what way am I strange?”

“I can’t really tell.”

“Then you should not let you mind entertaining foolish ideas. It may be that lately I have been terribly busy and I am feeling tired …”

“Am I disturbing you?”

Sun Mi said with a guilty conscience, she was gabbling all the way and even threw tantrums at Hyun Chul.

“If you are tired, then don’t force yourself to come to see me in Tokyo …” Sun Mi was saying something she didn’t mean it in her heart.

Hyun Chul caressed Sun Mi’s cheeks, tenderly said: “I hate not coming to see.”

Sun Mi curved her mouth and smiled.

“Take a rest! I won’t disturb you.”

Sun Mi took a pocket size book from her handbag and quietly began to read it.

Bending her head reading, Sun Mi suddenly gave a soft sigh.

“What is the matter?”

“This poem was so beautifully written!” Sun Mi was wearing a dreamy look.

“What’s this book about?”

“Chinese poetry.”

She waived the book before Hyun Chul’s eyes.

That was a Japanese translation of the “Chinese Poetry in Different Dynasties”.

“The Tokyo University once invited a Chinese professor to lecture on Chinese poetry. He explained a Han Dynasty yuefu [a Bureau of Music] ballad called “A Pledge” and I was enchanted on the spot. I have gone to Jumbocho antiquarian bookshop district a few times searching for this poem and thank heaven I finally managed to locate this book just a couple of days ago.”

“Oh, what’s in this poem that enchanted you so much?”

“It’s a love poem.”

“Love poem?”

“You want to listen to the words?”


“I will read you a few verses …

“Till the mountain crumble,
Streams run dry,
Thunder rumbles in winter,
Snow falls in summer,
And the earth mingles with the sky
Not till then will I cease to love you!”

Hyun Chul smiled, “I don’t know you love something so literary in style.”

“Do you understand the meaning of the poem?” Sun Mi smilingly asked.

“I can understand 70-80%, it should be about lovers pledging to spend their lifetime together!”

All the lovers in the world would like to spend their lifetime together and not to separate and at this moment in time wasn’t he wishing the same thing too?

They changed train at Tokyo station for the Narita Express to go to the airport. The train was not crowded and there were only a few passengers in the assigned seat section of the train. Sun Mi chatted with Hyun Chul a little while before she put her head on Hyun Chul’s shoulder.

“Can I borrow your shoulder to lean on?”


“A little bit.”

“Then why didn’t you listen to me and stay home to rest.”

“It’s none of your business!”

Hyun Chul laughingly embraced Sun Mi but he was aching inside.

He had made promises to himself that as long as she was happy, he was willing to respect all her decisions. So many times he wanted to ask her to return to Seoul but when he thought of the affection between father and daughter, he would feel ashamed of his own selfishness and could not utter a word.

She mentioned before that when two people were deeply in love, they would not let time or space affect their relationship. Even though it was true, it was easier said than done! He could not imagine how he would endure the longing and heartache if Sun Mi were to go New York. Seoul was only a thousand of miles away from Tokyo and he was already craving for her day and night, not to say the distance between Seoul and New York was more than ten thousands of miles!

“Sun Mi …” He whispered her name softly.

“Hmm …” Sun Mi made a small sound and shifted slightly in his arms; Hyun Chul lowered his head and found her asleep.

Her mouth lifted slightly upwards, “Hyun Chul, let’s go to watch the play!” She murmured.

He watched her face full of happiness and contentment and his heavy heart suddenly lifted. She really loved him, she did not forget him even in her dreams and she would not abandon him.

On Tuesday, after a business trip from Hokkaido, Sun Mi sneaked into her bedroom delving into the information for a meeting the next day. She had a case that needed to report to the IPO Committee for examination. It was now a house rule that every IPO case must be examined and approved by the committee before it could be processed. A new member had just joined the committee and he was a difficult man to deal with; several of her colleagues had got the slash from him and were almost put on the spot.

Papa came to see Sun Mi in the bedroom.

“There is an assignment for tomorrow?” Gui Cheng looked at the desk full of financial reports.


“You haven’t changed your habit one bit.”

Sun Mi looked at Papa with an uncomprehending glance.

“In your school days, whenever there was an exam, your desk was always filled with books and reference materials like now.”

Sun Mi smiled and said, “Papa, you were saying as if I always worked at the last moment.”

Gui Cheng smilingly replied: “I won’t dare to say that to someone who was on the honour roll every year.”

“That’s more like it.” Sun Mi proudly said.

“Papa, you want me for something?”

Sun Mi put down the work in hand and sat down with Gui Cheng side by side..

“You are looking for a new job?”

Gui Cheng pointed to the letter marked “Application for Employment” on the desk; he saw this letter when he brought in a magazine for Sun Mi that morning.


Sun Mi glanced at Papa with embarrassment. That was an application letter she wrote a few days ago but she was still hesitant about mailing it.

“You have got a nice job, why do you suddenly want to change job?”

Gui Cheng knew that Sun Mi loved the present job.

“I … I …” She was choking at her throat and could not speak out, she feared she might hurt her father.

“I want to find a job in Seoul.” she slowly said.

Gui Cheng was stunned but managed to say: “Is it Hyun Chul’s idea?”

“No, he doesn’t know.” Sun Mi shook her head. She did not want Papa to misunderstand Hyun Chun.

Gui Cheng patted Sun Mi’s shoulder, “Actually, Papa is not against your returning to Seoul, it won’t do if you and Hyun Chul are separated by a vast ocean.”

He could see that the love between his daughter and Hyun Chul was deep and intense and he would not have to worry if Sun Mi could entrust her life to a man like Hyun Chul.


Sun Mi held on to her father’s arm.

“Papa, why don’t you consider returning to Seoul?”

She stayed by her father’s side since senior high and always wondered why her father preferred staying overseas than returning home to Seoul. During the past few years, few schools in Korea got in touch with him several times inviting him to teach in Korea, but every time Papa declined.

“I …” Gui Cheng sighed and said, “I will think of your mother and remember how much I owe her if I return to Seoul.

Sun Mi speechlessly stared at her father.

She never thought that her father was still harbouring such guilty feeling after so many years. Her father was so engrossed in cultural studies in his younger days that he often went overseas to investigate and research. Even though when he was back in the country, he would always be elsewhere and in her memory she seldom saw her father. When she was in high school, her father accepted an appointment to teach in the Cambridge University, leaving behind her mother to take care of grandmother and Sun Mi. Sun Mi’s mother was diagnosed with final stage of breast cancer in a medical check-up and not long thereafter abandoned Sun Mi and died. She had never forgotten how her father wept with profound grief at her mother’s death bed.

Her mother never blamed her father in her presence, all she had was respect and admiration and understanding for her father. It may be for this reason that Sun Mi never blamed her father, because her mother told her that her father was a man with character and a man with ideal and ambition. Every time when someone asked after her father, she would always lift her head and said: “My father is devoted to education work overseas.”

“Papa, Mama never blamed you …”

Gui Cheng looked at Sun Mi with reddened eyes.

“It is true. She wanted me to take you as an honour and also to take honour as your daughter. You have fulfilled Mama’s wish to devote your time raising me, educating me, and Mama in heaven would be happy to see that …”

Sun Mi tearfully embraced her father who was also weeping unashamedly.

“Papa …” Sun Mi swallowed the words she was going to say.

She really wanted to ask her father to return with her to the place where her mother’s body was lying, but she did not want to be cruel to force him; maybe some day when her father’s heart was at peace, he would naturally want to return. To some extent she could understand her father’s feeling, there were certain knots that needed to be untied by the party involved.

“I never thought that I had to be consoled by my own daughter.” Gui Cheng patted Sun Mi on her back.

“Don’t always think of me as a little girl that can never grow up.” Sun Mi wiped off her tears and replied.

“Yes, my girl has grown up and now wants to abandon her old dad and seek shelter in other man’s bosom!”


“If you want to look for a job in Seoul, you better discuss with Hyun Chul first! He has many contacts and is so knowledgeable; in one way or another he would be able to offer you some advice.”

“Wait until I have established something will I then talk to him. Papa, you are not allowed to disclose anything to him.”

Sun Mi instructed her father.

Hyun Chul always teased her as having a child’s disposition. She made up her mind not to let him know of her decision; she wanted to give him a big surprise.

A smile crept up on Sun Mi’s face when she was thinking of this ….




Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

It was Valentine’s Day today. She had never hated Valentine’s Day so much before. It was the first Valentine’s Day she and Xiang Zhe shared, but they were in the midst of a cold war over his smoking.

When Xiang Zhe was in Tokyo the previous week, he was barely over a bout of the ‘flu. He had lost a bit of weight and was looking rather pale. It pained her to see him this way. They didn’t go out anywhere over the two days he was in town, only taking the occasional walk in the grounds of Todai University. She had insisted that he rest as much as possible, and took great pains to prepare nourishing herbal concoctions for him each day, delivering his meals to him personally at his hotel. After two days of careful ministering, he looked much better, and only had the occasional cough. She could finally heave a sigh of relief.

Xiang Zhe visited Gui Cheng on Sunday afternoon. Xiang Zhe would always find spend some time with Gui Cheng when he visited Tokyo. Shan Mei went off to the herbalist for some lemon kumquat tea, which Ying Shun told her was good for coughs. She had only been away from the house for a little while, but when she returned, she saw that the ashtray was already filled with cigarette butts. Of course, it could only have been Xiang Zhe and her father’s work. She was angry at him for not taking better care of himself, and for letting her efforts go to waste. As soon as they were out of the house, she picked on him.

“I have to be sociable every now and then. Why don’t you humour me?” Xiang Zhe explained.
”But you promised me!” Shan Mei replied angrily. He had promised he would cut down on his smoking.
“You can’t quit just like that, it takes time!” Xiang Zhe was getting rather irritated.
“If that’s the case, you just go ahead and smoke all you like!” Shan Mei had enough.
“Why don’t you be reasonable about this?”
“That’s right! I was born unreasonable!...” Shan Mei exclaimed with tears in her eyes. She had gone out of her way to care for him, but instead of being grateful, he accused her of being unreasonable….!

She more she thought about it, the more agitated she became. In the end, she just turned and walked away. Xiang Zhe did not come after her.

After that incident, she had refused to take any of Xiang Zhe’s calls for two days. Even Gui Cheng tried to pacify her.
“With a temper like that, you’ll scare him away. Why make a mountain out of a molehill? Men are always like that, using cigarettes as an outlet for their stress. It’s perfectly normal.”
Shan Mei didn’t reply, but kept her head down and continued having her breakfast.

She hadn’t felt much better herself. She had no appetite, couldn’t sleep, and finally realized that love was more than just sweetness and light. She felt terrible about making such a fuss over such a small matter, but her pride would not let her go to him with an apology. She didn’t know what got into her that day. Even though she knew that he had been under pressure at work, with the head office stipulating a 20% increase in their sales budget, she still could not accept what he did. Ever since he became the head of the Asia Pacific regional office, the sales budget had been increased by leaps and bounds. Xiang Zhe was ambitious and always strived to exceed expectations, putting himself under pump constantly. Actually, he had already tried very hard to change – he never smoked in her presence.

The telephone rang. Gui Cheng looked at Shan Mei. “You answer it.” It was usually Xiang Zhe who rang at this hour.
“Hello…” Shan Mei picked up the receiver.
“…..” Xiang Zhe was so delighted to finally hear Shan Mei’s voice, he didn’t know what to say.
“Who would you like to speak with?”
“It’s me….” Xiang Zhe interrupted, afraid she would hang up on him.
“What is it?”
“Umm…. I’m in Shanghai right now. I have meetings here over the next two days.”
Xiang Zhe swallowed all the sweet nothings at the tip of his tongue when he heard the coldness in her voice.
“Are you still angry with me?”
“….” Shan Mei remained silent.
“Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe was worried when she refused to answer.
“I have to go to work.” Shan Mei hung up.

The atmosphere in the office was unusually romantic, with many desks adorned with bouquets of roses. Everyone who was attached was showing off their flowers, chocolates and other little presents, happily discussing their plans for the evening, while greetings of “Happy Valentine’s Day” filled the air.

Shan Mei’s feelings were dropping to rock bottom in the midst of all this. She regretted hanging up the phone on Xiang Zhe, especially since he had tried so to ring her so many times without success. If only she had let him sweet-talk her out of this, she would not be in this state right now. She had brought this all on herself! For all she knew, Xiang Zhe might decide not to put any more effort at a reconciliation.

That afternoon, Shan Mei cancelled a restaurant reservation she made over a month ago. Since Xiang Zhe said he had to stay in Shanghai for a few days, it was unlikely that he would be able to make it to Tokyo for today’s Valentine’s day celebrations.

“Zhen Xhan Mei! Can you please help me re-do this bow?” Makiko was anxious to show off the box of chocolates she had bought for her boyfriend. Shan Mei helped Makiko re-tie the bow.
“Wow….you’re so good with your hands.” Makiko said, admiring her work.
“Uh, where’s your chocolate?” She asked Shan Mei.
“At home.” Shan Mei replied glumly.
Over three nights the week before, she had dragged Makiko with her to help make Valentine’s day chocolates. She had planned to give the hand-made chocolate to Xiang Zhe, and specially made twin hearts. She even went so far as to fashion a biscuit arrow to pierce the two hearts and join them together. Even the instructor had been impressed. Now, all that loving effort had gone completely to waste, and added to her pain.

“Huh? Why didn’t you bring it along?”
“What business is it of yours?” Shan Mei answered shortly.
“Oh, don’t tell me you’ve had an argument with Yin Xiang Zhe?” Shan Mei’s eyes glazed over with tears as she lowered her head.

“Alright, alright! Please don’t cry..” Makiko consoled as she handed over a tissue from the tissue box.
With Makiko’s sympathy, Shan Mei’s tears started to fall, and she rushed off to the rooftop to dry her tears. Makiko followed.
“I’ve had plenty of experience with lover’s tiffs, and I’ll guarantee you that Yin Xiang Zhe will come looking for you in a few days.”
“Are you sure?” Shan Mei asked, trying to hold back her tears.
Makiko laughed. “What’s the matter with you! You’re normally so full of confidence. How did you turn into a fickle-minded hag so suddenly?”’
“I was really fierce to him, and rather unreasonable as well…” Shan Mei sobbed.
“Fierce? Unreasonable? Well….” Makiko asked thoughfully.
“Well …what?” Shan Mei asked anxiously.
Makiko chuckled, “That’s great! Good work! Men love women who are fierce and unreasonable. Put them in their place, and they will realize how much they mean to you.”
Makiko’s half-logical analysis made Shan Mei feel a lot better, even though she had the feeling it was all made up on the spur of the moment to placate her.

When Shan Mei got back into the office, she was finally able to get on with her work.

“Shan Mei, you have a visitor waiting outside for you.” The receptionist rang her.
Shan Mei peeped out and saw a delivery man with a little blue paper bag in his hand.
“Are you Miss Zhen Shan Mei?” Shan Mei nodded.
“I’m here to deliver a present to you.”
Shan Mei scanned the receiving documentation, but it did not have the name of the sender on it. She didn’t want to take delivery of a package from an unknown source.
“Can I have you return it?”
The man shook his head uncomfortably. “I really can’t do that.”
Shan Mei reluctantly accepted the package.
“The contents are ceramic. Would you like to first examine it for any defects?”
Shan Mei looked askance at the delivery man. She had never come across one who would actually request the recipient to open the package in his presence in order to examine for defects. He was a strange one indeed! As she opened the package, a smile lit up her face.

It was a ceramic couple. The male was dressed in a tuxedo with his arms crossed and lips pursed, obviously angry. The female was dressed in a white evening gown, trying to kiss the male in a teasing manner.
“It’s called ‘Let’s make up’”.
“Let’s make up?” Shan Mei asked as she felt warmth steal into her heart.
“Was this sent by a Mr Yin?”
The man hesitated a moment before nodding.
“Thank you.” Shan Mei beamed at him.
The man looked at her for a moment, then smiled. “Miss, you look really pretty when you smile.”
“Happy Valentine’s day!” he said as he left.

Shan Mei hugged the little box and wore a smile as she returned to her desk. Makiko saw the change in her and commented, “Look at you! Mr Yin must have sent a little present you way. Can I have a look at it?”
Shan Mei hugged the present a little closer and replied happily, “It’s a secret.”

“Miho, have we received the financials from Guanxi Electronics yet?” Shan Mei asked her assistant as she wrote her report.
When she didn’t get a reply after a while, she asked again, “Miho! Have we received the financial from Guanxi Electronics?”
A pile of financial statements landed on her desk just as she had completed her sentence.
“Thank you.” Shan Mei said as she continued without a blink, when she heard soft giggles. She looked up and could not believe her eyes.

Standing in front of her was the Yin Xiang Zhe who should have still been in Shanghai. He was the one who had place the financial statements on her desk earlier, and was now calmly standing at her desk.

“How did you get here?” She asked softly, embarrassed. The mixture of happiness and embarrassment on her face made Xiang Zhe smile.
“I played truant.”
“You…played…truant?” she looked at him in disbelief.
“That’s right, I slipped away. I couldn’t bear to spend our first Valentine’s Day apart.” Xiang Zhe bent slightly as he spoke in low tones.
He was halfway through his morning meeting when he left to catch the plane to Tokyo, leaving his assistant to hold the fort.
“What if you were needed?” Shan Mei asked.
“My assistant should be able to handle it.” He left word with his assistant that he was uncontactable until the next day.

Xiang Zhe’s appearance at the office caused a stir.
“GM Yin, now that you’ve landed the office beauty, how about a treat for us all?” Makiko took advantage of her close friendship with Shan Mei and lead the chant for “a treat!”. Xiang Zhe had no choice but to concede.

“GM Yin, if you hadn’t turned up, my box of tissues would have been completely used up by our cry-baby over here…”
Shan Mei glared at Makiko.
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe examined Shan Mei closely and realized she had, indeed, been crying.
“You’ve been crying?” he asked gently, bringing fresh tears to her eyes.
“Don’t believe everything you hear. It was a speck of dust that got in my eye…”
“Is it better now? Would you like me to help blow it out?” Xiang Zhe said as he bent down to do so.
Shan Mei hurriedly pushed him away.

“I thought our relationship was already old new. This office is really something else.” Xiang Zhe commented as he dragged a chair over to her desk and sat down.
“Don’t you know that you are the man of their dreams for all the females in this office?” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him.
“But I’m no longer available!” Xiang Zhe gloated.
“Is that right? When did this happen? Why didn’t anybody tell me….?” Shan Mei teased.
“You should know better than anybody just when it happened.”
“I think only you know the exact moment when it happened.”
“Ah…so you’re not angry at me any more?’ Xiang Zhe leaned closer as he asked.
“It wasn’t all your fault, I have to take some of the blame.” She answered.
“I only dared to turn up here after I found out from the delivery man that you smiled…”
“So… you bribed him to spy on me!” The delivery man kept observing her so closely, she had felt rather uncomfortable in his presence.
“Did you like you present? I’ve come to make up.”
“You’ve come to make up?’ Shan Mei pouted, “It looks more like the girl is trying to make up with the boy to me…!”
Xiang Zhe was flabbergasted and could only shake his head in response.

“Are you really busy today?” he asked, looking at all the documentation spread out on her desk.
“Not too bad.”
“Hey, how did this little one get on your desk?” Xiang Zhe pointed to the doll of the Little Prince on her desk. She had bought it the last time they went out shopping together.

“You’ve got something against that?”
“I’m jealous of him because he is able to be with you every day.”
“What nonsense! Shan Mei laughed.
“It’s true! I’m not joking!”
“He’s only a child.”
“Well, I wish I could swap places with him.”
“Are you sure about that? He and I are only friends, and not even close friends at that!”
“In that case, forget it then.”
“Why don’t you put my present there instead of him?” Xiang Zhe pointed at the couple in the paper bag.
“No way!” Shan Mei shook her head.
“Why not?”
“That would be too embarrassing.” Shan Mei said uncomfortably.
“Then where do you intend to place my present?”
“Ummm…. on my bed head. How about that?”
“That’s better.” Xiang Zhe smiled smugly. He was rather proud of his selection.
“You’re too much! If you like it so much, why don’t YOU just take it back to Seoul with you?”

“How did you know I would be in the office this afternoon?”
She originally had an appointment with a client that afternoon, but it was cancelled at the last minute.
“I have a spy.”

After Xiang Zhe appeared in the office, Shan Mei felt like they were the office exhibit. Under the scrutiny of everyone else in the office, Shan Mei was unable to concentrate on her work.
“You’re such a nuisance! There’s no way I can get any work done with you here.” Shan Mei was looking for excuses to get rid of him.
Xiang Zhe looked around and discovered the many pairs of eyes watching each and every move of theirs.
“I didn’t know you had eyes on the back of your head.” He teased.

“In that case, I’ll look my friend up for a bit of a chat.”
“Friend? Who’s that?” She never head Xiang Zhe mention anything about having friends in Tokyo.
“Your boss, of course!” Xiang Zhe ruffled her hair.
The sound of muffled laughter reached her ears, and Shan Mei’s face reddened.
“Go on then!” Shan Mei hurried him off.
“Let me just get hold of Peter and see if it’s convenient for him.”

“Peter…This is Yin Xiang Zhe….” Xiang Zhe told Peter that he was at Shan Mei’s desk.
“Thanks…” Xiang Zhe replied happily.
“Is that so?”
She didn’t know what Peter was saying to him, but he kept looking her way and smiling as he listened.

“Hey, what were the two of you saying about me?” Shan Mei asked Xiang Zhe the minute he hung up.
“You boss said you are the most obedient, most compliant lady in the whole office, and that you will never say NO to anyone.”
Shan Mei’s tilted her head in thought, then said, “I guess he’s right.”
Xiang Zhe looked askance at Shan Mei, and asked dejectedly, “Why are you always saying NO to me, then?”
“When have I ever done that?”
“Don’t you remember? The first night we met, you said NO to me; after that, I tried to ask you out for a meal and you said NO; when I offered to take you home, you said NO; when I tried to kiss you, you said NO, and further more….”
Shan Mei interrupted him. “Hey! Did you come over here today so you could dig up all my past sins?” she laughed.”
On hearing this, Xiang Zhe also dissolved in laughter.

“I’ll wait for you at the place we first met, at 6 o’clock tonight.”
“And where did we first meet?” Shan Mei hid a smile, pretending.
Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows and ruffled her hair again, “Don’t’ tell me you’ve already forgotten where that is?”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to think about it.” Shan Mei deadpanned.
“If you’re on time, I’ll buy you a nice hot Espresso and a Mascarpone; it you’re late, there’ll be nothing.”
Shan Mei smiled sweetly at those familiar words.
“Can’t you give a few minutes’ leeway, just in case?” Shan Mei bargained.
“Absolutely not.” Xiang Zhe said firmly.
“You’re so strict! Last time, I gave you thirty minutes to get there!”
“This is not a test of your knowledge.”
“If it’s not a test of knowledge, then what is it?”
“Well my darling, it’s a test of love.”

As she watched his receding figure, she couldn’t wait until 6 o’clock.




Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

Xiang Zhe stood waiting in the plaza, roses in hand, trying hard not to curb his feelings of embarrassment. The passing crowd looked at him knowingly, and he had never in his life had to wait around for a woman before. As he looked at the flowers in his hand, his heart pounded with excitement and anticipation.

On that dot at 6 o’clock, Shan Mei arrived at Tomei Plaza to ease Xiang Zhe’s discomfort. When she saw him standing in front of the statue, there was a feeling of déjà vu, almost as if they were back at the time when they first met. She quickened her steps toward him.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Xiang Zhe said. It was something he should have said the minute he saw her in the office.
“Wow! These are beautiful!” Shan Mei’s eyes lit up as she received the large bouquet of Diana roses.

As Xiang Zhe watched her mesmerizing smile that hid her eyes, memories of all the beautiful times they shared flashed through his mind, and he could not help smiling as well…. It was precisely this enchanting smile of hers that so attracted him when they first shared a meal together… the day, he had ordered a seafood soup for her: the first time she did not reject his offer.

“What are you smiling at?” Shan Mei asked shyly.
“You outshine the flowers by far.” he replied in admiration. Her dazzling smile did, indeed, eclipse the beauty of the flowers.

She sat next to him on a bench, sharing the espresso and marscapone.

“This is where we met on our first date.” Xiang Zhe smiled at Shan Mei.
“Actually, it’s more like the place where your forced me to go on a date with you.”
“Forced?” Xiang Zhe was stunned, “You were full of smiles when you arrived that day!” He could still remember that smile of hers when she arrived.
“That’s not true!” Shan Mei protested. It was true, though, she HAD been full of smiles when she arrived that day.

Shan Mei could still remember that feeling of happiness and anticipation on her way here that day. How could she have rejected his advances? His every word, every movement was so attractive, so charming, she must have already fallen in love with him by then.

“Tomorrow is the 15th of February,” she said.
“That right,” Xiang Zhe nodded, “Is there anything unusual about that?”
“Nothing, “She shook her head. He must not have remembered, then.

“There’s something not quite right, though,” Xiang Zhe said.
“What is it?”
“I couldn’t get a reservation for dinner anywhere. There’s nothing available before 9pm tonight.”
Shan Mei had already cancelled their previous reservation, so he had to try for new ones. Unfortunately, any venue that was suitable for a romantic meal had long been booked out for Valentine’s Day dinner.
“We’ve already had our Valentine’s Day dinner,” Shan Mei waved the paper bag at him.
“An espresso and a marscapone can’t be enough!”
“Whoever said that Valentine’s Day dinners should be at romantic, candle-lit affairs?”
“That’s just not on!”
“Why not?”
“If the people in the office ever found out that we merely sat out in the cold sharing a miserable marscapone on the street, I’d be killed.”
“It’s fine if I say it is. You’re my boyfriend, not anyone else’s!” Shan Mei smiled sweetly at him. She really didn’t care where they were, as long as he was with her.
“I would be sorry for you if we didn’t have a candlelight dinner.”
“If you really feel that way, we can go for a candlelight supper later, then.” Shan Mei said with a smile.

There was an open-air orchestral performance at Tomei plaza tonight. To suit the occasion, the performance comprised mostly of familiar love songs, attracting a large crowd of couples who even sang along. The two of them joined the crowd and it was then Shan Mei found out that Xiang Zhe had a good voice as well.
“I never knew you could sing so well. You’re a man of many talents.” He could play the piano well, but she didn’t realize he could also sing well.
“I would love to hear YOU sing,” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei. Although he knew Shan Mei often went to the Karaoke bar with her colleagues after work, he had never heard her sing before.
Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe and smiled, “I would never dare sing in front of you.”
“Surely it can’t be that bad?”
“It is! Worse than you could imagine! If I tried to sing, you would probably run away and never come back.” Shan Mei replied.
“Is that so?” Xiang Zhe moved behind her hugged arms around her waist. “I promised I won’t run.”
“I will hold you to your words forever…” Shan Mei laughed has she leaned her head against his wide, comfortable chest. She loved being with him like this.
As the night fell, the winter breeze cooled. Shan Mei, who had forgotten to bring gloves along, put her hands in Xiang Zhe’s pockets to keep them warm.
“I envy you men – you always have large, deep pockets so you never have to carry a handbag when you go out.” As she spoke, her right hand came across a poker-pack sized box of cigarettes. Without comment, she quietly took her hand out. She had decided she wasn’t ever going to nag at him over his smoking again.

“I know the conductor of the orchestra,” Shan Mei said.
“I organized a music soiree for the company once, and had been in contact with him several times.”

During the interval, Shan Mei disappeared into the front. “I’ll be back shortly,” she said.
He could see her walk up to the conductor, shyly exchanging words with him whilst the people around them smiled and nodded.

Shan mei was all smiles when she returned to Xiang Zhe.
“What did you say to him?” Xiang Zhe was curious.
“Nothing,” she said as she held his hand.

As her words faded, a familiar tune started……

The master of ceremonies picked up the microphone and said, “This is a request from a lovely lady whom I could not reject. She asked for us to play this tune and dedicate it to her boyfriend on this very special evening. I give you “Somewhere in Time”….”

“Shan Mei…” Xiang Zhe was touched as he gazed into her eyes.
“Shhhh….” Shan Mei put her finger to her lips.
Xiang Zhe’s heart was filled with love as he looked at her. It was strange how life turned out. They had gone from rivals to lovers….
Shan Mei moved over and hugged Xiang Zhe as she whispered, “I think…I fell in love with you when I heard you play this tune.”
“I know.” Xiang Zhe gently placed his lips on her forehead. Shan Mei’s eyes glistened with tears of happiness.

He took her hand an led her away from the crowd while the music played on.

Xiang Zhe managed to make a reservations at the Rainbow Lounge on the 17th floor of the Imperial Hotel. Their seats were next to the window and had a view of Tokyo Bay in the distance. The city lights were dazzling in the distance, giving a feeling of warmth and security.

“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Xiang Zhe’s eyes were dark with emotion.
She looked at him steadily. He had expressed exactly what was in her heart.
“But we’ve just had an argument.” She said.
“Even our arguments are unforgettable.”
Shan Mei’s lips curled in happiness.

It was past eleven by the time Xiang Zhe took her back home.
“I hope Professor is not waiting up.” The lights in the living room were still ablaze.
Shan Mei smiled, “Dad knows I’m with you.” Her father always left the light on for her if she was home late.
“Wait here a minute,” Shan Mei slipped into the house and returned quickly with a large bag in her hand.
“It’s still not too late….” Shan Mei smiled as she took out a box wrapped in light blue paper and handed it to Xiang Zhe. It was the chocolate she made.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!” She said.
Xiang Zhe looked that the twin cupids and was filled with sweetness.
“Did you make this?”
“Yes…” Shan Mei blushed. Did he understand that she was giving her heart to him completely?

They kissed passionately under the starry sky, until they were disturbed by a passerby.

“She’s one of my dad’s colleagues at the university,” Shan Mei said, embarrassed.
“It’s Valentine’s Day today.” Xiang Zhe replied as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

At midnight, the university clock chimed. It was the 15th of February now! Shan Mei’s heart was filled with smiles. This past year had been the best year in her life.

“I have something else for you,” Shan Mei said.
“Something else? Is it another Valentine’s day present?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“You could say so….” Shan Mei smiled. It was actually their first anniversary present.
“What treasure is this? It’s so heavy!”
Shan Mei merely smiled in response.
In the bad was a packaged shaped like a book, about 40cm long and 30cm wide, wrapped in thick brown paper.
“It is a painting?” Xiang Zhe asked in surprise.
He had once mentioned wanting to buy a painting for his study. Shan Mei nodded, smiling. Xiang Zhe unwrapped the package, and was speechless when he saw what it was.
It was a portrait of him in oil, sitting in his office in Seoul. In the colourful painting, he was wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and yellow time, smiling confidently.
“Did you paint this?’”
Ziang Zhe looked unwaveringly at Shan Mei, full of appreciation for her thoughtfulness and effort.
“How did you find the time to do this?” Xiang Zhe’s voice was hoarse with emotion.
“I painted it bit by bit whenever I had some time. It took me more than a month to finish it.” Shan Mei wrinkled her nose at him, “It’s been a long time since I painted anything, so it’s not very good…”
“I look really handsome.”
“Is that so?” Shan Mei laughed. She loved how he was always so confident of himself.
“It must have taken a lot out of you.” He sqeezed her hand. He knew she had been really snowed under at work lately.
“Not really,” Shan Mei shook her head. It didn’t take much effort for her because she was happy to do it. Every night as she painted, she felt so happy. When she painted his eyes, she felt as if his eyes were on her; when she painted that lovely dimple in his left cheek, she couldn’t resist planting a kiss on it, the way she did whenever she teased him; when she painted the smile on his lips, her heart smiled with him; it was as if he was with her as she painted, so she left all her worries and tiredness behind.

“Do you like it?” Shan Mei asked.
Of course he liked it. He absolutely LOVED it!

He couldn’t resist teasing her when he saw the undertainty on Shan Mei’s face.
“Well…I sort of like it….but…..” Xiang Zhe stopped in deep thought.
“But what?”
“But you only painted me, and I’d be lonely by myself.”
Shan Mei laughed when she realized he had been stringing her long.
“Next time, could draw one with the both of us?”
“Alright,” Shan Mei could not stop laughing.

“I’ve got something for you too.”
“I’ve already received two Valentine’s Day gifts from you, Yin Xiang Zhe. Be careful, you might spoil me.” He had given her the ceramic couple and a bouquet of roses.
“I could spoil you for life if you let me…”

Xiang Zhe took a jewel box out of his suit pocket and calmly opened it. Sitting in the box was a ring with a heart-shaped diamond.
Shan Mei was stunned……
He…..Surely her wasn’t proposing? Shan Mei’s heart was pounding away. She wasn’t prepared for this….

When Xiang Zhe saw the nervousness in her, he could not help laughing. “Don’t worry, I’m not about to propose.” He assured her.
On hearing his words, Shan Mei turned bright red in embarrassment.
“Then…..” Shan Mei raised her eyes to look at Xiang Zhe, suddenly feeling inexplicably disappointed.
“It’s the 15th of February today.” Xiang Zhe explained.
“Yin Xiang Zhe…..” Shan Mei grabbed Xiang Zhe by the throat and laughed out loud. He hadn’t forgotten their anniversary!
“Silly Billy! How could I ever forget that this is the anniversary of the day we first met?” He hugged her tightly.

“I’ve chosen this “love heart” as our anniversary present. Will you wear it for me?” Xiang Zhe asked lovingly. Shan Mei let him put the ring on her left hand.

“The next time I take a ring out of my pocket, you must not look so shocked.” Xiang Zhe said.
“I….” Before Shan Mei could explain, Xiang Zhe’s lips were on hers….

Shan Mei darling, the next time I bring a ring out, I will be asking you to marry me, Xiang Zhe promised in his heart.

The next day, Shan Mei took half a day off after settling all the urgent matters she had on hand. Xiang Zhe was on the 6 o’clock flight out of Tokyo, and she wanted to spend some time with him. Peter approved her leave form without a word, and then smiled at her and said, “Make sure you have a good time!”, embarrassing her to no end.

Shan Mei was packing her things up at her desk when Makiko grabbed her from behind.
“Aiyo! What are you doing?” Shan Mei pulled away.
“Are you rushing off to meet your lover-boy?”
Shan Mei’s face reddened in response. She and Xiang Zhe had arranged to meet for lunch.
“Hey, so how did it go last night?” Makiko asked meaningfully.
“What do you mean?” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at Makiko.
Makiko leaned over and whispered in her ear, “At about 9 o’clock last night, I saw you enter the Imperial Hotel with Yin Xiang Zhe….you can’t deny that!”
“And so what if we did…?”
“How was Yin Xiang Zhe’s……performance?”
“What are you trying to get at?’ Shan Mei’s face was turned bright red as she took a swipe at Makiko.
“Zhen Shan Mei, what is wrong with you? Ouch! That hurts!” Makiko rubbed her arm.
“You deserve it! Just what did you think we were doing?”
“Are you trying to tell me nothing happened between the two of you last night?”
Shan Mei glared at Makiko.
“I don’t believe it!” Makiko scrutinized Shan Mei carefully, trying to measure her up.
“Believe what you like.”
“Oh! Are you a bit too prudish?” Suddenly something caught Makiko’s eye, “Ooooh! And what is this?” Makiko pointed at the ring on Shan Mei’s finger like she had made an earth-shattering discovery.

Shan Mei made her escape from Makiko’s inquisition.

Shan Mei arrived at the restaurant at the agreed time.
“Mr Yin is at the table on the right, by the window over there.”
“I’ll find my own way.” Shan Mei thanked the maitre’d and made her way in the direction.

As she rounded the corner, she could see Xiang Zhe. Just as she quickened her pace, she saw a young lady sitting across the table from him. He was leaning towards her, listening intently. He looked very happy.

A strange feeling caught in Shan Mei’s heart. She had never seen Xiang Zhe wearing that expression when he was with another woman before. Just what was she to him?

Shan Mei faltered, not knowing whether or not to approach.
“Shan Mei!” Xiang Zhe caught sight of her, waving her over.
Shan Mei made her way uncertainly.
“This is Miss Li Xiu Zhen. She was my classmate in Cambridge.” Xiang Zhe introduced her. “We bumped into each other in the lobby earlier.”
“Hello.” Shan Mei smiled and greeted her.
Li Xiu Zhen had long hair, delicate features and an air of refinement about her.
“Zhen Shan Mei, my girlfriend.” Xiang Zhe shot out and arm and grabbed Shan Mei. He was happy to see that she was still wearing the ring he gave her. “Shan Mei is also from Cambridge, but our junior.” Xiang Zhe said, smiling at Li Xiu Zhen.
“Is that so? What a coincidence!” Li Xiu Zhen’s smile faltered.
Shan Mei could tell from Li Xiu Zhen’s speculative and envious glance that she and Xiang Zhe had been more than just friends.
“Did Miss Zhen and Xiang Zhe get to know each other while you were still in Cambridge?” Li Xiu Zhen asked.
Xiang Zhe glanced at Li Xiu Zhen and knitted his brows.
“We knew each other from work.” Shan Mei was uncomfortable.
“Is that so?” Li Xiu Zhen smiled

Xiang Zhe asked Li Xiu Zhen to join them for lunch. She had come to Tokyo because her husband was there for some meetings. He was working for a paper based in London.
Shan Mei listened as Xiang Zhe and Li Xiu Zhen discuss their various friends from school. Although she had nothing to contribute, she enjoyed listening to their conversation.
“Pu Ming Tai is now my business rival.” Xiang Zhe mentioned a classmate who was working with a rival agency.
“Your rival?” Li Xiu Zhen laughed, “You’re already a General Manager, how can you consider Ming Taia rival?”
“I work on average 17 to 18 hours a day,” Xiang Zhe said.
“17 to 18 hours?” Li Xiu Zhen interrupted, “Miss Zhen, I admire your patience. How can you stand him burying himself in work like that?”
Shan Mei smiled.

The waitress served dessert and coffee.
“Don’t you have to get back to work?” Xiang Zhe looked at his watch. It was already half past one.
Shan Mei leaned over and whispered in his ear, “I’ve taken a leaf out of your book and played truant.”
“Oh no, I’m in trouble now. Peter’s going to have something to say to me about this.” He took her lead and whispered back.
The two of them continued whispering, completely leaving Li Xiu Zhen out.

Shan Mei’s mobile phone rang. It was her assistant on the line.
“I’m sorry, I have to take this call.”
She had completely forgotten about the telephone conference she had scheduled with the lawyers, and had to re-scheduled it to after 6 o’clock that evening.

When Shan Mei returned to the table, Xiang Zhe was nowhere to be seen.
“Xiang Zhe got a call from Shanghai. He’ll be back soon.” Li Xiu Zhen told her.
“I See!”
The two of them sat quietly drinking their coffee. Without Xiang Zhe’s presence, the atmosphere was a little uncomfortable.
“How long have Miss Zhen and Xiang Zhe known each other?” Li Xiu Zhen asked.
“I met Xiang Zhe a year ago when I was in Seoul on business.”
“I see…” Li Xiu Zhen thought for a minute, “I…. Xiang Zhe and I used to date.”
Shan Mei’s heart pounded.
“Actually…. I already guessed that when I first saw you talking with him.” Shan Mei looked down. She must have been the one whom Xiang Zhe used to go punting with on the River Cam.
“Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean any mischief.” Li Xiu Zhen waved her hand, “Xiang Zhe and I were…. just dating.” Li Xiu Zhen was searching carefully for the right words. She liked this woman, and did not want her to misunderstand the situation.
“I’m not sure I know what you mean….” Shan Mei was suspicious. She didn’t think there were different degrees of love.
Li Xiu Zhen laughed, “Xiang Zhe was completely different with me than he is with you. I’m not embarrassed to say, I really envy you…. He and I dated for three years, but he never ever looked at me the way he looks at you. If only he had, I would have waited for him.” Shan Mei looked at Li Xiu Zhen and wondered how it would feel to make the decision to leave Xiang Zhe.

“We communicated less and less after Xiang Zhe went back to Seoul to work. My present husband happened to appear at this time, and pursued me relentlessly. In the end, I wrote Xiang Zhe a letter asking to break up…. Xiang Zhe wrote back and wished me happiness.” Li Xiu Zhen looked at Shan Mei and said honestly, “Now, when I look back at it, I think we ever loved truly each other. That’s why our relationship could not overcome the distance, and we could walk away from it so easily.”
“I can tell you’re very important to Xiang Zhe. He was so happy when he saw you just now; After you arrived, all his attention was focused on you alone; his eyes are filled with passion whenever he looks at you; the minute you walk away, he starts to get distracted….” Li Xiu Zhen sighed. “I’m so jealous!”
“You…” Shan Mei didn’t know what to say.
“Don’t worry. My husband and I have a strong marriage, and I don’t regret having let go of my relationship with Xiang Zhe. It’s just that I wondered what it would be like after meeting you and Xiang Zhe and seeing the way he treats you…. You know what they say about the grass being greener…. Every now and then you will think about your past loves and wonder, especially when one if them is a man like Xiang Zhe….”

When they bade farewell, Li Xiu Zhen shook her hand warmly. Shan Mei was very happy to have gotten a new friend like her.
“You must watch out for Xiang Zhe!” Li Xiu Zhen whispered to Shan Mei.

“What did the two of you talk about?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“I hope you’re note exchanging notes on my past sins.”
“yin Xiang Zhe,” She looked at him playfully, “Do you have any past sins that you don’t want me to know about?”
“What do you think?” Xiang Zhe ruffled her hair.

“Is she… the first woman you ever kissed?” Shan Mei looked up at Xiang Zhe.
“Yes…” Xiang Zhe nodded his head honestly, uncertain of her reaction. What did Li Xiu Zhen say to her? He frowned and looked at her worriedly.

Shan Mei smiled and hugged him. Her smile and hug reassured him immensely.
“What’s this for?” he asked her.
“To thank you,” she replied.
“Thank me for what?”
“Thank you for waiting for me,” Shan Mei said simply.

She always had the feeling that he had been waiting ror her for a long time.

Xiang Zhe had no idea what she was talking about, but he could read the love in her eyes, and that alone was enough for him.





Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

The traffic was heavy on the way into the city, starting and stopping.

Xiang Zhe looked at his watch. It was already 2:45pm. It was fortunate that he was still on time for the meeting he had with his client. Early that morning, Guo Qing rang him and told him that an issue had cropped up with the proposed listing of Tai Li Bank on the international bond market, and requested him to intercede. He had no choice but to cancel his other commitments in Taipei and rush back to Seoul. Tai Li Bank was a Korean bank, and the first Asian bank to attempt a listing on the international market after the recent Asia crisis. From the beginning, the project was fraught with difficulties in obtaining both domestic and international approval to proceed. All in, they had already invested more than six months and an immense amount of time and resources to the project. He was determined to see the project through. His appointment with the Tai Li was at 3pm.

“I really can’t understand why the roads are full of cars and people, no matter what time of day it is!” Lao Jin, the driver, grumbled.
“That’s good! Crowded streets full of people are a sign of a booming economy.” Xiang Zhe replied with a smile.

The lights changed, and they had to stop for the pedestrians crossing. Xiang Zhe turned to look out the window at the new high rises in the area. They were in the new financial hub of the city, and he had intentions to move the office here. As he looked around, his attention was caught by the sight of a lady clad in a khaki suit. Her stature and the graceful the way she moved was so much like Shan Mei, he couldn’t help having a second look. Just at that moment, she turned her head, and Xiang Zhe’s heart skipped a beat.

Lao Jin knew they were trying to make a 3pm meeting, and put his foot down on the accelerator.

“Lao Jin, can you please pull over for a moment,” Xiang Zhe quickly stopped him. By the time Xiang Zhe made it back to the spot where he spotted her, she was already long gone.

Was it really Shan Mei? Everyone has a twin in this world, and his imagination must have run away with him. Shan Mei was in Kyushu on business. How could that have been her in Seoul? He must be losing his mind over her. If she ever found out about this, she would probably tell him off for having his eyes on pretty ladies in the street.

That night, he was half an hour late for his dinner appointment with his brother. “I’m really sorry I’m late, Brother. There was something I had to take care of at the last minute.”
“That’s alright. It’s a real treat to for me to just sit here and admire the pretty ladies,” Yin Wen Xiang joked. “Mom said you were in Taipei?”
Xiang Zhe nodded, “I only got back at noon today.”
Yin Wen Xiang looked at Xiang Zhe compassionately, “I used to think I had a hard life as general manager of Wen Rong, having to work long hours. By the looks of things, you’re worse off than me!”
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Don’t expect any sympathy from me! Didn’t you and sis-in-law just come back from a holiday in Europe?”
Yin Wen Xiang scratched his head and chuckled, “You’re right! I’d almost forgotten about that....”
“You’re looking a little under the weather lately. Try not to overwork yourself!” Xiang Zhe said.

Yin Wen Xiang wanted to pick Xiang Zhe’s brain in relation to the family’s semiconductor business. Xiang Zhe had a good network, and extensive business experience. Although he never said as much, he had a healthy respect for this little brother of his. There were times when he felt that the business would probably flourish under Xiang Zhe’s leadership, if given the chance.

Xiang Zhe was optimistic that growth prospects for the semiconductor industry were good. Although competition in the industry was fierce, the players were mostly small and using antiquated production methods. Most semiconductor plants were producing 4th or 5th generation technology at best. To build a factory capable of seventh generation technology and quality would take some serious capital investment that the current players have no access to. If they were to put in the investment for a 7th generation production line, they could easily become market leader. On hearing Xiang Zhe’s analysis, Yin Wen Xiang was reassured.

“Why don’t you come back to Wen Rong, Xiang Zhe? I’d be happy to let you have my general manager’s position,” Yin Wen Xiang asked.
Xiang Zhe smiled and shook his head, “Wen Rong is doing fine with you and Dad handling it.
“Xiang Zhe....” Yin Wen Xiang sighed. He just couldn’t figure out why this little brother of his stubbornly refused to work for the family. Although their father never mentioned it outright, many major decisions of the company were only made after informal discussions with Xiang Zhe. He knew their father really wanted Xiang Zhe to be involved in the family business.
“Surely you’re not still holding a grudge against Dad from those days, are you?” Yin Wen Xiang asked.

In youthful rebellion, Xiang Zhe had gone overseas for his studies, against his father’s wishes. Those were tumultuous years when Xiang Zhe and their father just could not see eye to eye on anything. Xiang Zhe had sworn that he would find his own way in the world without his father’s help. Although the two of them had since buried the hatchet and now got along fine, Xiang Zhe still refused to make his living from the family business.

“Brother, you know both Dad and I very well. We’re both stubborn and headstrong. It will be very difficult for us to work in the same company.” Xiang Zhe explained his rationale.

Their father, as Chairman, knew the business inside out, and kept control over the decision making process. Wen Xiang, as general manager of the conglomerate, was often only involved in the implementation of those decisions. He had a consultative style, and would often bend to their father’s authoritarian ways. This had always been the case. Since they were very young, Wen Xiang would obediently accede, whereas Xiang Zhe would go head to head against his father, and end up in a stalemate.
“Brother, don’t worry about the plywood factory. You should really be worrying about the credit card business. Be careful that you don’t end up the same way as LG did.” Xiang Zhe warned.
“Is it really that bad?” Yin Wen Xiang’s face paled. Wen Rong’s credit card business had always been his responsibility.
“Just look that level of bad debts on the books,” Xiang Zhe shook his head.
Business aside, Yin Wen Xiang started to talk about his recent travels to Europe. Xiang Zhe was responsive in the beginning, and soon lost interest in the conversation.

The issue with Tai Li Bank was a worry. That afternoon, when he met with their project leader, he found out that they intended to reserve a certain portion of the scrip for their cronies. Although the letter of the law did not forbid such transactions, it was a grey area, and reeked of insider trading. Tai Li Bank expected him to toe their line and turn a blind eye to the transactions. If he refused, they intended to take their business elsewhere. Having put in so much time and effort into the project, Xiang Zhe was unwilling to let go of it. On their part Tai Li Bank had indicated that they would be extremely discreet and take care to make sure it would pass scrutiny. All he had to do was to not notice the anomaly. On the other hand, he was not prepared to be part of any transaction that was not completely above board. It was a risk he would not take. If word ever got out, their company would find it hard to recover the trust needed to continue in this business.

Yin Wen Xiang could see how distracted Xiang Zhe was.

“Hey little brother! How can you put a woman before your family like this?” He complained as he patted Xiang Zhe on the shoulder.
“Woman before family? What are you talking about?” Xiang Zhe replied, puzzled.
“I’m only asking for your time to share a meal and some conversation, and here you are, thinking about your girlfriend. Why didn’t you just bring her along? It would save you a lot of heartache....or is she too shy to come? Hmm, that Shan Mei is quite something. Pretty, eloquent, demure, and that smile of hers.... Mom just can’t stop saying good things about her!” Yin Wen Xiang teased.
“What are you talking about? Shan Mei isn’t even in Seoul at the moment!”
“Not in Seoul?” Yin Wen Xiang laughed out loud, “Stop pulling my leg. I was at the Grand Hyatt having lunch this afternoon, and saw her there. She was with that Jackson something-or-other from the Moody’s Credit Rating Agency. I know him too. Actually, I almost went up to say hello, but decided not to because they seemed to be having a pretty serious conversation.”

Xiang Zhe paled. Maybe it that lady he saw this afternoon WAS Shan Mei......

The minute Xiang Zhe got home, he rang Shan Mei’s mobile again. It was not turned on, just like this afternoon when he tried.

His brother was so certain it was Shan Mei that he saw this afternoon. When he saw that lady, and stopped the car to look for her, he was certain that it was Shan Mei too. Perhaps she has some urgent business that suddenly brought her to Seoul? She knew he was supposed to be in Taiwan that day, and so did not tell him about her trip, he tried to console himself.

It was after 10pm by the time the phone rang. Xiang Zhe picked it up immediately.
“Shan Mei?”
“You’re back already? I was worried that you might still be on the road. How did it all go?” She sounded quite concerned.
“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all night.” Xiang Zhe could not keep the irritation out of his voice.
“I....I went for a walk in town and forgot to take my phone with me. I’m sorry if I worried you.” Shan Mei’s words were hesitant. Xiang Zhe frowned unconsciously.
“As long as you’re alright....did your work proceed smoothly?”
She had taken the day off to go to Seoul today, and would have to work doubly hard tomorrow in order to catch up.
“When I was passing West Buyong Road this afternoon, I say a person who looked exactly like you, and chased after her....”
“What happened then?” Shan Mei’s heart started to pound.
“I didn’t manage to catch her...” Xiang Zhe paused for a moment, and then said teasingly, “Ai! That person couldn’t have been you, could it?”
“Don’t be silly! What would I be doing in Seoul?”
Thank goodness he didn’t catch me! Shan Mei breathed a sigh of relief.

“Who knows? Maybe you missed me too much.... or maybe you finally decided you wanted to buy that dress at Galleria..... Don’t forget, you once secretly came to Seoul to check up on me.”
“Yin Xiang Zhe! If one day I were to show up at your side and refuse to go, you may end up complaining that I’m too long-winded and troublesome!”
“I would be so lucky!”
“Really?” Shan Mei laughed happily.
“Xiang Zhe, I......” She hesitated.
“What is it?” he asked in anticipation.
“uuuuhh.... it’s nothing, actually,” She replied. Shan Mei swallowed the words that had been on the tip of her tongue.

Xiang Zhe wanted to ask Shan Mei if she had been in Seoul that day, but couldn’t bring himself to say the words. His instinct told him that the lady he saw WAS her. It was not unusual for her to make a trip to Seoul as part of her job, but why did she have to keep it a secret from him? Was there some problem that she didn’t want him to know about? Xiang Zhe was full of questions when he hung up the phone.

Shan Mei breathed a sigh of relief. She was really not a good liar. Thank goodness Xiang Zhe didn’t decide to pursue the matter; otherwise she would not have been able to hold out. Strange! Wasn’t Xiang Zhe supposed to be Taipei today? Who would have expected him to have spotted her in Seoul? That was a close shave!

She had a really good meeting with Jackson from Moody’s, who had made arrangements for her to interview with the head of credit ratings in New York next week. She really couldn’t wait to tell Xiang Zhe the news, but decided to keep it to herself because she really hadn’t yet landed the job yet. She didn’t want to raise his expectations. If she didn’t manage to get the job......

Moody’s was not yet a player in the Asian region, and only had a representative office in Seoul. However, they were planning to increase their presence here, and intended to turn the representative office into a subsidiary. They were now looking for potential candidates to man the operations. She wanted to put herself forward as a potential for a position based on Seoul. The credit rating work was very similar to her current job. Actually, she really liked her current job, but she could not hold her current position in Seoul with Xiang Zhe being the general manager there. A career change seemed to be the best choice. She knew Xiang Zhe believed that it would be alright for her to work in the Seoul office as long as she didn’t directly report to him, but she didn’t feel it was appropriate. She didn’t want to work for a competitor in the same industry either, as she did not want to be in a situation where she had to compete with him for the same work. After much deliberation, she finally decided to interview with Moody’s. The company was sending her to New York next week for a conference, and she could drop in at Moody’s New York headquarters for the interview while she was there.

After the conference in New York, Shan Mei didn’t return to Tokyo. Instead, she flew directly to Seoul, bursting with news that she just couldn’t wait to tell Xiang Zhe.

Xiang Zhe was not answering his mobile. When she rang his office, his secretary said he would be busy in meetings all day, and would not be able to take any calls. She left a message with his secretary, and then made her way to his apartment. Xiang Zhe had given her the keys to his apartment, but she never thought that she would have the occasion to use them.

Shan Mei was wrapped up in a woolen scarf that covered most of her face. It was snowing, and the temperature in Seoul was not very different from the winter chill in New York. As she approached the revolving doors leading to the lobby of his apartment, she saw brushed past a lady in a camel coat. A waft of perfume drifted past her nose, and immediately caught Shan Mei’s attention. It was Dior’s Addict – Michiko’s favourite. Shan Mei couldn’t help look back at the lady, and suddenly recognised her as Kim Hye Ju. Kim Hye Ju swaggered her way into a red Porche. “There must be dozens of families living in this building. Kim Hye Ju must be here to see a friend,” Shan Mei thought to herself.

As Shan Mei opened the door to the apartment, a strong smell of perfume hit her. Her heart tightened. The smell of that perfume was unmistakable!

What was Kim Hye Ju doing here? Why did she also have the keys to Xiang Zhe’s apartment?

On the dining table, there was a pot that was still hot to touch. Opening the pot, the delicious aroma of Ginseng chicken floated past. Did Kim Hye Ju make this soup for Xiang Zhe?

The telephone rang, and Shan Mei almost jumped out of her skin.
“What made you come here?”
Although Shan Mei could hear the pleasure in Xiang Zhe’s voice, it wasn’t quite as delighted as she thought he would be.
“I’ll bet you never expected it!”
On hearing Xiang Zhe’s voice, Shan Mei got excited all over again, forgetting the unease and suspicion in the mind a few moments ago.
“That’s right. I got a bit of a shock.” Xiang Zhe replied.
Was she being a bit sensitive, or was Xiang Zhe’s tone of voice a little glum?
“Are you really busy?”
Shan Mei asked treading carefully.
In the past, each time she rang him at work, he would tease her and ask if she was missing him.
“Ummmm...” Xiang Zhe replied casually.
Poor guy! I wonder what it is that’s making him so troubled?
“There’s something I wasted to tell you....” She said as a smile returned to her face. If she told him her news now, he might lighten up a little, Shan Mei thought.
“Sounds pretty important.”
“Yes, it’s important, and very serious,” Shan Mei baited him.
“.....” The other end of the line suddenly went silent.
“Xiang Zhe...”
Xiang Zhe interrupted her, “Oh....I’m in the middle of a meeting right now. Why don’t we discuss this when I get home?”
She felt completely deflated.
“OK, then.”
He must be really busy, she thought to herself.

Xiang Zhe got home before six. His hugs, his tenderness and concern were just as before, but his smile seemed to be a little different, but she could not put her finger on what exactly was different about it.
“You’re really early today?” She asked.
Xiang Zhe shrugged his shoulders, but remained silent.
He must be missing me, so decided to make an effort to get home early, Shan Mei thought.
“Did you go out today?” Xiang Zhe asked.
Shan Mei shook her head. After such a long haul flight, she was a bit tired, and didn’t feel like going anywhere. Instead, she spent her time tidying up the apartment.
“Yin Xiang Zhe! You’ve changed!” Shan Mei pouted at him.
“Changed? How so?” Xiang Zhe could not fathom where that question was coming from.
“You’ve become lazy.”
Shan Mei smiled as she pointed towards the coffee table. His shaver wasn’t working, and his shirts had lost a few buttons.
Xiang Zhe smiled briefly, “I have been too busy lately to even bother about that.”

“Are you hungry? I’ll cook some spaghetti.”
Xiang Zhe shook his head, “I’m not hungry yet.”
“You look really tired. Do you want to have a bit of a rest first?” she looked at him with concern.
Xiang Zhe had an air of fatigue about him. She had never seen him like this before.

While Xiang Zhe was having his shower, Shan Mei went out to get some fruit. His fridge always only had apples in it. Just like her father! Whenever she went away, she would only find that the apples in the fridge had been eaten. Men were all the same! If it required peeling or cutting, it was likely to be left alone. She bought some pears and peaches. She had just learnt to make spaghetti with peaches, and wanted to make some for Xiang Zhe.

Melons were on special at the shops, and Shan Mei decided to buy one, and then she also bought some grapes. A recent cooking show on TV had talked about melon and grape juice. When she made some, even Auntie Ying Shun was all praise for it. It was even supposed to be very good for restoring energy levels, so she wanted to make some for Xiang Zhe as well.

She could hear Xiang Zhe on the phone with someone the minute she stepped into the apartment.
“......thank you so much for making the trip out.” Xiang Zhe’s voice was very gentle.
The minute he saw her come in, the expression on his face changed to that of discomfort. “Alright....” he glanced at her for a moment, and then spoke quickly on the phone “Talk later.”
She could tell that it was a woman on the other end of the line. No man would talk to a colleague or a male friend in that tone of voice.

Shan Mei stood there as if nailed to the floor, not knowing how to react.
Xiang Zhe approached her to help with the shopping bags, and she unconsciously took a step back.
“It’s OK. I can handle it myself.”

As she headed for the kitchen, she could see that the pot of ginseng chicken soup had been re-heated, and had bowls and chopsticks sitting next to it. Xiang Zhe had assumed that they were having it for dinner.

“Let’s dig in while it’s still hot,” he urged.
“I’m not hungry – I had a little something while I was out,” she hurriedly replied. She had no intention of touching that pot of soup.
Didn’t he just say he wasn’t hungry yet?
By the looks of it, Kim Hye Ju’s ginseng chicken soup won the day over her spaghetti.

“Xiang Zhe...” She sat down in front of him.
He glanced up at her, then quickly looked down, concentrating on his meal. It felt like he was trying to avoid her.
“Didn’t you say you had something to tell me this afternoon?” he asked in a soft, low voice.
“It really isn’t so important.”
Shan Mei shook her head, feeling rather irritated with him.
She really didn’t want to tell him her news while he was having the soup that SHE made.
“You said this afternoon that it was important and serious,” he looked at her intently.
“I was only joking.”
“Ahhh....” Xiang Zhe gloomily went back to his soup.

Xiang Zhe’s mobile rang.
“I’m Yin Xiang Zhe.....”
Xiang Zhe’s expression turned grave as he walked out to the study with his phone.

Ten minutes later, Xiang Zhe walked back into the kitchen fully dressed, as she was putting away the food that she bought.
“I have need get back to the office for a conference call with London.”

After Xiang Zhe left, Shan Mei was at a loose end, and decided to ring Michiko, who had asked her to buy a heap of stuff for her from New York. Michiko was always at the forefront of fashion trends, and Shan Mei took her hat off to her for her diligence in keeping up with fashion.
“Hey! Has anything happened in the office while I was away?” Shan Mei asked.
“What? Are you serious? Don’t you know about the latest and greatest?” Michiko sounded absolutely flabbergasted.
“Just what exactly has happened?”
“Your Yin Xiang Zhe lost a huge contract. Rumours are that head office is not too pleased about that....”
“Which contract?” Shan Mei asked anxiously.
“I think it was some Tai Li Bank or something...”
“When was this?”
”Yesterday – it made the headlines yesterday.”

The contract with Tai Li was under Xiang Zhe’s negotiation for a very long time now. How could he have suddenly lost the business? The past week while she was in New York, Xiang Zhe had phoned her regularly, full of warmth and tenderness. He had never even hinted that anything was amiss. He must have wanted to keep her free from any worry, and hid the facts from her intentionally. That conference call with London at this time of day must have something to do with this.

After hanging up, Shan Mei surfed the web for news about the event. All this had happened while she was in the plane on her way to Seoul, and she had absolutely no idea about it. After much effort, all she could glean from the news was that Tai Li was not satisfied with the conditions attached to their listing, and had decided to change underwriters. It also said that it was Yin Xiang Zhe’s greatest defeat of his career.

The company’s listing department is well known for being sensitive to market environment. Shan Mei found it difficult to believe that they could have lost the case due any difficulties with listing conditions. She was determined to get to the real story when Xiang Zhe came back home.

Shan Mei waited up for him. It was past midnight, and Xiang Zhe was still not home. She didn’t dare to ring him in the office in case he was still on the conference call. From 8 pm until past midnight! A four hour telephone conference with those heavies in London would not have been an easy task. She was really worried for him now.

She turned off the lights and sat at the window. The window of the guest room faced the main road, and she could easily see the passing traffic from there.

At about 1am, a red Porsche pulled up and stopped in front of the building. Shan Mei’s heart suddenly started to pound. Two people alighted from the car. One was Xiang Zhe and the other........Kim Hye Ju.

Shan Mei scrambled behind the curtains, forgetting that she had already turned off the lights, so that people outside could not see her.

After a very long time, she finally heard the door open, and Xiang Zhe come into the apartment. She heard his footsteps in front of her door, and could see his shadow from the sliver of light beneath her door. He was standing in front of her door.

She had waited for him all night, and he knew she had been waiting. And yet... in the middle of the night, he finally appeared, but in the company of another woman. Shan Mei really didn’t know what to think. How was she going to face him.....?




Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

Shan Mei was in the kitchen, head down, preparing some fruit. Xiang Zhe looked at her slim figure and started to feel rather guilty. He had been in a bad mood last night, and let Guo Sheng drag him off to a drinking session. By the time he got home, Shan Mei had already fallen asleep.

His mood over the past two days was at rock bottom. Guo Sheng thought that it was due to the loss of the Tai Li business. In reality, he had already known when he chose to reject Tai Li’s listing conditions that he would most likely lose the business. What really bothered him was the issue with Shan Mei.

On Tuesday night, he had dinner with Richard, the regional head of Moody’s credit rating agency in Asia. Richard inadvertently disclosed that a Korean lady from his Tokyo branch had applied r work with them. He knew right away who Richard was talking about – there was only one Korean lady working in his Tokyo branch.

“What sort of work was she looking for?” Xiang Zhe asked casually.
“It seems New York is looking for a division head who is familiar with the business in Asia.

His heart dropped. Shan Mei was planning to move to New York! Was she moving there because of her father’s posting? How could she do this without even discussing it with him first? Did he not have a place in her heart too?

When she told him last night that she had something to tell him, he guessed it was to do with this.

He had intentionally stayed out so late last night because he did not want to face the fact. What a joke! He was actually afraid to face up to his own lover! After a distressing night tossing and turning, he had come to a decision. If she really wanted to do this, he would support her in her decision because he loved her and her happiness was the most important thing to him. The only problem was: he had no idea how he was going to live through the period of time while they were apart. He didn’t know how he could live when they were separated by thousands of miles.

“I’m sorry I came home so late last night. I was drinking with friends and got carried away,” Xiang Zhe said.
“Is that so? I fell asleep quite early last night….” Shan Mei replied listlessly.
“Breakfast is already on the table. Eat up.”
“Why don’t we have it together?”
“I’ve already eaten.” Shan Mei kept her back to him. She had not slept a wink last night.

She could not understand why she had this feeling of dread; why she was so hurt by what she saw of Xiang Zhe and Kim Hye Ju. The Yins and the Kims were family friends from way back, and Kim Hye Ju was also the god-daughter of Xiang Zhe’s mother. Having her take him home and talking with him was nothing out of the ordinary. Wouldn’t one have done the same with good friends or colleagues? Perhaps she was jealous because she loved him? After all, who wouldn’t feel uncomfortable if they knew their lover was in the company of a lovely lady, especially one of such outstanding caliber as Kim Hye Ju?

She had made Xiang Zhe’s favourite French toast and coffee.
“Xiang Zhe…” Shan Mei called out.
Was she going to tell him now? Well….what will be, will be, Xiang Zhe thought with a sigh.
“What is it?” Xiang Zhe responded calmly.
“I…” Shan Mei faltered.
Xiang Zhe’s heart constricted.
“I want to ask you about the incident with Tai Li…”
Was the business with Tai Li all she wanted to talk about? Xiang Zhe was feeling apprehensive.
“I lost the business, just like that. Anyway, that’s all in the past. There’s really nothing to talk about.” Xiang Zhe said, annoyed.

Over the past two days, every man and his dog had been asking him to explain the situation with Tai Li. There were interviews, telephone calls and unanswered messages that he had to deal with regarding that. He was sick and tired of it all, and was in no mood to discuss it any further.

Shan Mei was shocked. Xiang Zhe had never before spoken to her in such a tone.
“I’m just….”
Xiang Zhe interrupted even before Shan Mei could say another word, “Don’t speculate about the rhyme or reasons. I’m really not bothered by it.”
“….” Shan Mei paled.
“I’m sorry, Shan Mei. I really don’t want to talk about it any more.” Xiang Zhe tried to lighten his tone. It really wasn’t fair of him to vent his frustration on her.

Shan Mei withdrew into herself. She felt dejected. All she had wanted to do was to give him some support – to lighten his burden by letting him talk about his frustrations. Instead, he didn’t even want to discuss it with her. The image of last night’s episode between Xiang Zhe and Kim Hye Ju flashed before her eyes and pierced her heart.

“Ouch!” Shan Mei had been distracted for a moment, and cut her finger with the knife she had been using. Bright red blood spurted out. She calmly watched the blood spurting out from her finger, feeling nothing.

Xiang Zhe brought his dishes into the kitchen and was shocked at the wound on her finger.
“What’s wrong with you!”
“I cut my finger accidentally,” Shan Mei replied vaguely.
Xiang Zhe grabbed her and pulled her into the lounge in haste, pulling out the first aid kit to clean and dress the wound.
“You need to be more careful!” Xiang Zhe admonished. Shan Mei felt even more victimized at his tone of voice. Her tears flowed. She felt completely useless. Not only was she unable to ease his burden, she couldn’t even prepare some fruit without hurting herself and adding to his worries.

“What’s wrong? Is it really painful?” Xiang Zhe worried when he saw her tears.
Shan Mei only nodded. She couldn’t tell if it was her finger or her heart that was hurting so much.

“Xiang Zhe!” Shan Mei called out to him as he was leaving.
“Shall we… have lunch together today at noon?” Shan Mei looked at Xiang Zhe expectantly.
She was feeling sorry for doubting him after seeing the way he was worried and fussed over her when she hurt her finger.
“I have a meeting at eleven today. Goodness only knows when that will end…”
“In that case, don’t worry. I know you’re busy.” Shan Mei tried to pretend it didn’t matter.
“I’ll try to see if I can end it early.” he couldn’t bear to see the disappointment in her face.
“In that case… I’ll wait for you at the restaurant.” Shan Mei smiled broadly, “There’s a little Japanese hotpot restaurant in Myeongdong called Nabeyoshi. Do you know it?”
“Yes, I do,” he patted her cheek and smiled. “Are you finally treating me to a meal of Shabu-shabu?”
“You guessed it! It will save me from your constant harping about it.” Shan Mei’s mood lightened considerably when she saw Xiang Zhe smile.

She suddenly threw herself into his arms.
“What’s this?” He was startled.
“I won’t see you again until noon. I just wanted to hug you.” She wanted to show him how much she loved him with this hug. She hoped her hug would encourage him. She loved to see him full of confidence and energy.
“If that’s the case, how did you ever manage to live without me when you were in New York last week?” he asked.
“Without you, every day seemed a lifetime.” She replied simply.
“….” The sparkle in her eyes caused a tightness in his chest. He had to stop himself from saying, “If that’s the case, please don’t leave me, Shan Mei!”

She was waiting at Nabeyoshi. At twelve-thirty, Xiang Zhe rang her. He was still in the meeting.
“That’s all right. You just come over when it’s finished.” Shan Mei understood completely.
Xiang Zhe still hadn’t turned up at half past one. Shan Mei deduced that he probably would not turn up after all. She knew he had to meet a client at two o’clock. She texted him a message saying she had already eaten so he wouldn’t be distracted from the business on hand.

Shan Mei swapped her table for a seat at the bar, and ate alone. She had originally wanted to take this opportunity to announce to Xiang Zhe that Moody’s had appointed her to their Seoul agency, which was yet to be set up. It wasn’t going to be long before she would move to Seoul, and they could be together. She had been so looking forward to see the Xiang Zhe’s expression, but, somehow, the opportunity for the announcement never seemed to arise. If only she hadn’t thrown a tantrum at that pot of Ginseng Chicken soup last night….

It was almost 2pm. The only customers left were a few straggling couples who were obviously dating. She felt even more lonely.
“Excuse me! Do you mind if I take this seat?” a lady was standing next to her.
“Huh?” Shen Mei glanced at the lady in the black knit top.
“I…. I’m not used to eating alone in a place like this. I notice you are alone, too.” The lady said hesitantly.
“That’s alright.” Shan Mei replied.
“So sorry to disturb you.”
Shan Mei smiled and nodded at her.
They sat next to each other eating their Shabu-shabu wordlessly. Shan Mei didn’t taste any of the delicious food; her happiness this morning had evaporated.
“Have you….. have you ever felt that sort of insecurity where you can’t seem to fathom what your loved one is feeling…?” the lady asked uncomfortably.
“…..” Shan Mei’s heart flipped. She turned and looked closely at the lady, and saw the same dejection in her eyes. In that instant, a bond of understanding was forged between them as their misery found some company.

Suddenly, Shan Mei realized what exactly had been bothering her all this time. It was….Xiang Zhe!
Xiang Zhe was the cause of all this uncertainty she felt. Instinctively, she could feel that he was avoiding her. She’d had that feeling from the moment he got home. He had been avoiding her eyes, hesitant in his speech, and had accepted her invitation to lunch only under duress. Was there something other than Tai Li that was bothering him?

Shan Mei started to feel suspicious again as the image of Kim Hye Ju floated across her memory. Kim Hye Ju had twice featured in Xiang Zhe’s life last night. Did this have anything to do with her?

Then, she remembered Kim Hye Ju’s words to her when they met in Tokyo: “Zhen Shan Mei, I will never give up. I fully intend to snatch Xiang Zhe Oppa back from you. You mark my words!”

Xiang Zhe was unable to get hold of Shan Mei. By the time her got home at 5 o’clock, Shan Mei had already left. He was sure she said she was only leaving the next day… On the one hand, he worried that she might have left in a huff because he had treated her so coldly; on the other, he felt a sense of relief because she hadn’t yet told him about the deal with Moody’s. He didn’t intend to bring up the subject if she didn’t. God, he was pitiful!

Shan Mei left a few notes in his bedroom:

One said, “I’ve gone home. I don’t want to distract you from your work.”
One said, “Your shaver has been fixed, it’s in the bathroom; the buttons on your shirt have been sewn back, don’t throw away any loose buttons next time.”
One said, “I’ve made two bottles of wildberry juice. It’s good for you. Don’t forget to have a glass every morning and evening.

Xiang Zhe smiled as he read each of them, until he got to the last one.

The last note said, “I’ve been defeated by the Ginseng Chicken Soup. I’m very sad.” Next to it, she had drawn a crying baby.

Ginseng Chicken soup? Ginseng looked at the pot of Ginseng Chicken soup on his table, perplexed.

Xiang Zhe immediately put a call through to Incheon Airport. There was no way he would be able to catch her, even if he left now. He begged the airport service desk to page for her, hoping to talk to her before she left. The five-thirty flight had already taken off. There was no way he could contact her.

Shan Mei felt torn as she boarded the plane. She had heard the announcement paging her, but did not answer the page, knowing it would be Xiang Zhe. She had no idea what to say to him.

After she left the hot pot restaurant that afternoon, she had gone to the office building and stood there, looking at his office with a nameless dread in her heart. Here she was, standing in Seoul, so close to him. All she had to do was make her way upstairs, and she would be able to see him. However, she felt as though he was a world away. For the first time, she could put her head on his chest, but could not even guess at what was in his heart.

She returned to Xiang Zhe’s apartment, expecting that he would have left her a message or something. Her mobile could not be used in Seoul. The only message on the answering machine was from Kim Hye Ju. Her tinkling voice said, “Xiang Zhe Oppa, I’ve made the reservations for Sunday…” It was right at this moment when she felt her world collapse around her. She could not breathe; the air around her reeked of Kim Hye Ju’s perfume; there was no way she could remain here.

She regretted having left that last note about the Ginseng Chicken. How was she going to explain it if Xiang Zhe ever asked? God, why did she always end up doing things the hard way? She hated herself for it! She was absolutely certain that she loved him unconditionally. Why, then, did she let her suspicions rule, and let that Ginseng Chicken and that Kim Hye Ju dominate her thoughts?

It was raining heavily when she arrived in Tokyo, and she was completely drenched by the time she got home. The house was empty. Her dad wasn’t due to be home for another two days, and there wasn’t even a hot drink in the house.

She heard the telephone ringing incessantly as soon as she stepped out of the shower. She sat next to the phone in a daze, thinking about the man she loved. In the end, she relented and picked up the phone.

Xiang Zhe asked why she left without saying goodbye.
“Are you angry at me for not turning up to lunch?”
As she listened, her eyes filled with tears. She had not idea why she was feeling so fragile.
“That’s not true. I left you a note,” she replied.
“I rang the airport and paged for you.”
“In that case, I must be famous by now.”
“That’s right. I’m sure everyone in the airport now knows there’s someone by the name of Zhen Shan Mei.”
“In that case, I don’t dare to show up in Seoul any more.”
“Can I ask you something?” Xiang Zhe said.
Her heart skipped a beat.
“As long as it doesn’t have anything to do with Ginseng Chicken soup.” She decided to meet it head on. She had no idea what to say about that, and did not want Xiang Zhe to tease her about being narrow-minded.
Xiang Zhe laughed, “Alright, I won’t ask then.”
“Xiang Zhe…” she really wanted to ask him about Tai Li.
“Uh, … nothing.”
Forget it. She really didn’t want to force the issue. In public, he was always the strong one. Even in private, he obviously didn’t want her to see his softer side. It looks like she had to work a bit more on their relationship.
“Didn’t you want to ask me about Tai Li?” Shan Mei was surprised that he actually brought up the topic.
“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,’ Shan Mei said.
“Ask away!” Xiang Zhe sighed.
“I’m sure the real reason you lost the Tai Li business is not at all what they are saying in the papers.”
“And what if it were?” Xiang Zhe asked.
“It’s impossible! You’re not like that!” Shan Mei replied with conviction.
Xiang Zhe felt vindicated. She understood him well.
He gave a small chuckle, “Tai Li requested that we bend some stock exchange rules. I considered it, and then rejected their request.”
“Did you tell headquarters about this?”
“This sort of thing can ruin the reputation of a company. The less said, the better.”
“I understand.” He would rather take the rap for this than ruin the reputation of a client.
“Do you think I made the wrong decision?”
“You’ve done what you feel is right. I feel for you because you’re the one taking the rap for it all.”

It was only after she hung up that Shan Mei realized she had once again forgotten to mention Moody’s.

Even though her head was aching, Shan Mei was happy because Xiang Zhe had finally confided in her. She fell into a deep sleep blissfully. It felt as though she had been sleep a long time. Her dreams featured the sound of a constantly ringing telephone. Even though she willed herself to wakefulness, her body was weak and would not budge……

When Gui Chang arrived home aon Sunday afternoon, he found Shan Mei comatose with a high fever, and quickly took her to the hospital. Shan Mei was diagnosed with a severe respiratory infection that had turned into pneumonia and had to be admitted for treatment.

Shan Mei only regained consciousness two days later.
“Dad, don’t tell Xiang Zhe I’ve been admitted to the hospital.” Shan Mei pleaded with her father the minute she awoke, even though sh missed him terribly.
Gui Cheng looked at his pale daughter and smiled, “You worry about another man the minute you open your eyes… Don’t you care about your dad any more?”
“Dad!” Shan Mei smiled weakly.
“Xiang Zhe has already rung twice.”
“What did you say to him?” Shan Mei asked anxiously.
“When Xiang Zhe was unable to contact you, he rang the office and was told you were on sick leave. He immediately rang the university looking for me. I told him not to worry; that you had the ‘flu and needed to rest for a few days.”
Shan Mei nodded. Her dad knew her well.

“Has Xiang Zhe been very busy lately?” Gui Cheng asked.
“When he was on the phone with me, we were interrupted several times.”
Surely the business with Tai Li had been settled by now? Shan Mei started to worry again.

That night, Shan Mei rang Seoul.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were ill? You had me worried! Are you feeling better now?” Xiang Zhe’s worried voice floated across the phone.
Shan Mei’s heart tightened. She had already been ill while she was in Seoul, but he hadn’t noticed it then.
“It’s only a cold and a fever. Don’t worry yourself over it.”
The weather in New York had been rather chilly, and she had caught the cold on her second day there, and it had lingered through her time in Seoul. It was only because she had been drenched the day she returned that it had taken a turn for the worse.
“What did the doctor say?” he asked with concern when he heard her coughing.
“He wants me to get more rest.”
“Are you sure you’re all right? Recently, you seem to be catching a cold frequently.” Gui Cheng has glossed over Shan Mei’s condition, and Xiang Zhe was not convinced.
“I’m all right, really!”
“Hmmm, sometimes, you really make me worry.”
“Well, that’s how I make sure you don’t forget me!”
Xiang Zhe’s laughter rang through the phone, “And just where did you learn this little trick from?”
“I invented it myself.”
“It’s really effective.”
“Is that so?”
“You’ve got me running around in circles here – don’t you think that’s really something?” He had been out of his mind at not being able to contact her over the last two days.
“Hang on a minute. I have someone on the other line.”
She waited almost five minutes before he was back on the line again.
“Shan Mei, I have something urgent to take care of. I’ll ring you tomorrow. Hey.. make sure you rest well and get better soon.” Xiang Zhe’s tone was rushed.
“Is something wrong?” Shan Mei asked anxiously.
“It’s nothing, really. Just get some rest, and don’t worry.”
“Alright,” Shan Mei replied breezily, “Are…uh… Will you be coming over this weekend?” she asked.
Xiang Zhe was silent for a moment, “I’m afraid I’ve got something on this weekend, and won’t be able to make it over.”
“That’s alright.”
Xiang Zhe hung up in a hurry, without even saying goodnight.

He had never been this way before. Shan Mei stood there in a daze, holding the receiver in her hand, until Gui Cheng called out to her.

The next evening, Michiko visited her. She had made a special trip to the Chinese Herbal shop to get some seafood congee for her.
“Wow! You’re the best!” Shan Mei exclaimed when she smelled the delicious aroma of the steaming congee. She had not been too excited over the food in the hospital.
“Since you always help me buy stuff whenever you travel, I had to come over and maintain keep up the goodwill….Hey, I’ve never seen a patient so stubborn as you.”
Shan Mei happily dug into the congee, ignoring Michiko’s teasing comments.
“Young lady, I thought you had merely caught the ‘flu. I had no idea it was so severe.”
“I guess I’ve been too busy lately, and with the lack of exercise, my immune system must also be a little weak.” Shan Mei replied in between mouthfuls of congee.
“Oh! And who is this Sanada Yutaka?” Michiko asked pointing at a bouquet of roses next to the window.
“He’s my father colleague!”
“Your father’s colleague? And just how old is this person?”
“In his early thirties, I guess.”
“Early thirties, eh? Are you sure he’s not a secret admirer?”
“Don’t you start spreading unfounded rumours!”
“Rumours? When I was ill, my father’s colleagues didn’t go around sending me flowers! Be careful, that Yin Xiang Zhe might get jealous!”
“He’s my father’s colleague! Surely you don’t expect me to throw out the flowers he sent?”
“Huh? Why is it I don’t see any flowers from Yin Xiang Zhe?”
“He’s been really busy lately.” Shan Mei defended.
“Just look at how defensive you are over him…. Hey, guess what I brought you?” Michiko asked gleefully.
“What is it?”
Michiko slowly took a magazine out of her bag.
Shan Mei took it and had a look. It was yesterday’s edition of the Korean magazine “Seoul People”.
“Since when did you start reading Korean?” Shan Mei laughed.
“You mean those funny, round squiggles?” Michiko laughed out loud, “How in the hell do you expect ME to be able to read them?”
“Then why did you pick this Korean magazine?”
“I bought it to help ease your longing.”
“What are you talking about!”
“Have a look at page twenty five.”
Shan Mei obediently turned over to page 25, and broke out in smiles. It was an article about Xiang Zhe titled “The Young Midas of Merchant Banking – Yin Xiang Zhe”. Along with the article was a photograph of him. It was a company photo of him with a severe expression on his face.

“I went shopping with Noburio yesterday and discovered that the Korean wave has taken Tokyo by storm. The magazine racks were full of Korean material. I picked one up and started flipping it and coincidentally saw this photograph of Yin Xiang Zhe in it. I can’t read Korean, but recognized a few words about “solid gold bachelor”. I though you’d probably like to read all about it.”
“Wah! How can there be such a cool and handsome dude in this world? I would love to have a boyfriend like that.” Michiko sat next to Shan Mei drooling at the photograph. Shan Mei sighed, “Hey, you’ve got someone who takes you to work and picks you up each evening, come wind or rain – I’m the one who should be envious!”
“You can have the same thing, you know! If I were you, I would have long gone over to Seoul, to make sure I hang on to that Yin Xiang Zhe tightly. Who knows how many other women are out there just waiting for the opportunity to grab him!”
“Hey, what does it say?”
“I’ll tell you if you stop interrupting me.” Shan Mei replied without taking her eyes off the magazine.
“You forget your friends in the face of love” Michiko complained.
Shan Mei was capitivated by the first line. It said: “The man who saved MSDW from disaster.” As she read, her face lit up in smiles. Since she had been ill, she had not kept up with what was in the news and had no idea so much had happened.

According to the article, a dissatisfied investor had reported Tai Li’s unlawful practices and taken them to the supreme court for insider trading. Now, both Tai Li and the bank that underwrote their listing faced investigations and were suspended from trading. It praised Xiang Zhe’s judgment in making a shrewd decision to walk away from the Tai Li listing, thus saving MSDW from potential lawsuits and damages. At the same time, he had grown the reputation of MSDW and elevated it to greater heights. Xiang Zhe was vindicated. She felt as it a load has been lifted from her heart. Xiang Zhe must be very satisfied. She intended to ring him a little later to congratulate him. Oh! And she also hadn’t yet told him about Moody’s. She mustn’t forget to tell him – he would definitely be delighted.

Even knowing how sensationalized the magazine’s reporting tended to be, Shan Mei still enjoyed reading the article. Xiang Zhe was normally very low-key in his business dealings, and seldom granted interviews with the press. The reporter wrote about how Xiang Zhe rose through the ranks to lead the Asian region, and about his more recent business successes, praising him to no end. Shan Mei was all smiles over it.

Following that, it talked about Xiang Zhe’s strategy in relation to expansion of business, and his consistently intelligent and unique approach became obvious. Every time Shan Mei happened to come across any articles on Xiang Zhe in the corporate relations department, she would read each one several times, reveling in his competence and abilities.

Just as she turned the page, Michiko got excited.
“This photograph is absolutely gorgeous!”
Shan Mei looked and saw a photograph of Xiang Zhe on the golf course. The caption indicated that he had been in a private golf event with friends the previous week and got a hold-in-one, winning 3.5 million won in prize money.
“What does it say?” Michiko asked.
“It says he got a hole-in-one, and won 3.5 million won in prize money.” Shan Mei replied delightedly, as if it was SHE who achieved the hole-in-one.
“My goodness! A hole-in-one! I’m going to demand a good meal out of him the next time I see him….and YOU are not to stop me!”
“Alright, alright!” Shan Mei agreed pleasantly.
Shan Mei was in New York that week – why didn’t Xiang Zhe even mention it to her when they spoke?
Shan Mei couldn’t help having another look at the photograph. Xiang Zhe was wearing a cream polo shirt and khaki pants, looking extremely suave. Shan Mei eyed him dreamily. He WAS really handsome beyond words.
“Zhen Shan Mei! I think you’d better be careful!” Michiko suddenly smacked Shan Mei on the shoulder, startling her.
“Ouch!” Shan Mei rubbed her shoulder, “What’s wrong with you?”
“Just look at that lovely lady standing behind Yin Xiang Zhe…..”
Shan Mei had a good look, and her smile disappeared completely.
Standing behind Xiang Zhe was Kim Hye Ju.

“Hey! What’s wrong with you?” Michiko poked Shan Mei with her finger, “Oooh! You’re not jealous, are you?”
Shan Mei recovered her composure, “What nonsense!”
Zhen Shan Mei, just what is wrong with you? It’s perfectly normal for Xiang Zhe to be playing gold in a private match. Moreover, Kim Hye Ju is his friend. There’s nothing untoward with the two of them showing up at the same golf game!

As Shan Mei clamped down on her feelings, she was completely unprepared for what was written in the next paragraph. She read on in haste.

“Has his heart been given away?”
“Yin Xiang Zhe the golden bachelor is still awaiting his Miss Right.”

“According to those in the know, this very private, young executive has recently fallen in love. Although he has never admitted to it, the handsome man is smiling much more lately, and his expressions and actions indicate that he is one who is very much in love. In the early hours of last Thursday night, this reporter chanced upon Yin Xiang Zhe in the company of a lovely lade in red at a bar in Gangnam. It wasn’t long before the two of them left together. Is this lady Yin Xiang Zhe’s Miss Right? Only time will tell.”

Shan Mei’s face paled. Last Thursday night, as she watched him coming home from her window, and Kim Hye Ju was dressed in red. Xiang Zhe must have been with her that night.



Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

Xiang Zhe pressed the doorbell, and Ying Shun answered the door.
“Mr Yin!” Ying Shun’s face was full of smiles.
“Come in, come in!” Ying Shun waved Xiang Zhe in warmly.
Xiang Zhe hesitated for a moment. He had only met Ying Shun once or twice.
“Isn’t Professor home?”
“He’s gone mountain climbing with friends…. Shan Mei didn’t mention that you would be here today?”
“I only just decided to drop in.”

He had accompanied the head of a Taiwanese electronic company on a visit to a few large conferences in America and Europe in preparation for their project kick off the next month, and had only returned to Seoul the previous evening. He decided that morning that he would make a trip to Tokyo to surprise Shan Mei.

“Professor said you hadn’t come over for quite a while now. You’ve been busy?”
Xiang Zhe smiled thinly. He HAD been really busy, and hadn’t managed to get to Tokyo for over a month now. The last time Shan Mei was ill, Wen Rong’s credit card company was in trouble, and he had been unable to make the time to visit her.

The first quarter of the year was traditionally a busy time for the industry. Those familiar with the business environment knew that the stockmarket tended to surge at this time due to the release of annual financial statements by listed companies, and were anxious to make sure their listings got off the ground at this time. This year was no exception. The market had been hot over the months of January and February, and his company alone had done seven projects. He had originally expected the pressure to let up as they approached the second quarter, but some comments made by Greenspan caused the marketing to continue its bull run. On top of his Korean business, there were another four or five listings in Singapore and Taiwan that were in progess. In addition, the billion dollar listing of the Development Bank of China was up for grabs. Even though MSDW already had pretty good relations with the bank, he flew over to Beijing to meet with the government officials involved, just to make sure they were in the running for that one. When added to his regular visits to existing clients and contacts, his schedule was bursting at the seams.

Unfortunately, Wen Rong also faced some issues at the same time. Because of the collapse of the LG credit card business, the whole industry was under scrutiny, and there was a credit squeeze. The Wen Rong group had also been expanding aggressively into oil refineries in China, in addition to other activities. Their cashflow had to be carefully monitored and managed, otherwise the whole group might be at risk as well. He had to help his brother prepare analyses and strategies to try and convince their current creditors of their viability, and to ensure continued access to their existing credit arrangements. Thankfully, they managed to get through the exercise unscathed, otherwise his father would have been extremely upset at the loss of face.

Just as they managed to settle one issue, another raised its head. His brother’s health took a turn for the worse and had been hospitalized after being diagnosed with hepatitis. He needed complete rest, and was unable to work. Without his brother at the helm, Xiang Zhe’s father had to hold the position alone, and Xiang Zhe could not bear to stay on the sidelines. Whenever he was in Seoul, he would make an effort to help his father out. With all this on his plate, Xiang Zhe wished he could clone himself, or have forty-eight hours a day, so he could cope. He did not want Shan Mei to worry over him, so did not even allow her to come over for a visit.

“Yes, I’ve been quite busy lately.” Xiang Zhe said, looking around. “Shan Mei…. Is she home?”
He’d been in the house some time, but did not catch any sight of her.
Ying Shun smiled, “She’s gone for a movie at the cinema near the train station. Professor’s colleague had given him two tickets to the cinema. I didn’t want Shan Mei to be cooped up at home, so told her to go instead.” Ying Shun looked at her watch, “I’m afraid it’s going to be another hour before the movie finishes.”
“I know where that cinema is. I’ll go there to meet her in a little while.” Xiang Zhe replied. He had been to that cinema with Shan Mei before.

“Is this the Professor’s painting?” Xiang Zhe pointed to a half-finished watercolour on an easel by the window.
Ying Shun shook her head smilingly, “No, it’s Shan Mei’s. Didn’t you know she painted?”

Xiang Zhe examined the painting and frowned unconsciously. The strokes and colours used on the painting were strong and dark, giving it a gloomy and claustrophobic feel.

“Has Shan Mei been really busy as well?” Xiang Zhe asked. He had heared Peter say that Shan Mei took over some of her colleague’s projects and had to work through weekends and holidays. He worried about her, and tried to tell her off for her long hours, but she countered, “You’re doing the same aren’t you?”

Ying Shun looked at Xiang Zhe and smiled, “You should know better than anyone else what Shan Mei has been up to.”
Xiang Zhe smiled uncomfortably. He felt Shan Mei had been listless during their telephone calls recently. Previously, she would always try to prolong their conversations, talking about everything and nothing, asking about the details of his day, concerned about whether he ate his meals regularly; it was often late at night before she was willing to hang up. Recently, though, she talked a lot less, and he found himself the one trying to make conversation instead. In addition, she often cut him off, telling him to get more rest, and ending their conversations. At the time, he had been too busy to think about it, and assuming that she was genuinely concerned for his health. It was not until recently that he started to feel that something was not right.

“Mr Yin….” Ying Shun started, then hesitated.
“Auntie, please feel free to say what’s on your mind.”
“Please excuse my nosiness, but….have you and Shan Mei fallen out?” Ying Shun asked.
“Xiang Zhe was stunned. He shook his head and replied, “No, why do you ask, Auntie?”

Ying Shun sighed, “Ever since Shan Mei’s illness, she would often sit by the window silently moping. I really don’t know what the matter is.”
“Shan Mei often tries to hide her unhappiness, not wanting her father to worry about her. Since you haven’t been here lately, her father and I have been worried that it was because the two of you may have quarreled. Hmm This girl likes to make life difficult for herself sometimes, and will throw a tantrum every now and then. You need to be patient with her. The poor girl! Her mother passed away when she was so young, she doesn’t really have someone she can confide in. Even though her father loves her, there are still some things that are difficult for her to discuss with him. He is, afer all, a man. Although I try my best, I’m not so close to her, and can’t really pry too much. It really worries me to see her in such a state.”

“Auntie, please don’t worry… we’re fine.” Xiang Zhe said. So… there really WAS something up with Shan Mei. His suspicions had just been confirmed by Ying Shun.

“Oh yes, I heard the professor say Shan Mei discussed the change in her job with you when she was last in Seoul. What happened there? Every time I ask her, she would say she was still thinking about it. What is there to think about? I really can’t figure the two of you out!”
Xiang Zhe was silent. Just as he suspected, Shan Mei HAD intended to discuss her job with Moody’s when she was last in Seoul. He thought the job offer didn’t materialize in the end.
“Mr Yin?”
Xiang Zhe turned his attention back to Ying Shun, “Are you talking about Shan Mei wanting to move to New York?”
“New York?” Ying Shung started laughing.
“Auntie?” Xiang Zhe looked at her smiling face, puzzled.
“Shan Mei is going to work in New York? Since when? And where did you hear this from?” Ying Shung asked.
“From a friend.”
“I’m afraid you friend is very much mistaken. I heard Professor say Shan Mei had applied to help this company out at their Seoul branch. When Professor heard it, he was torn….”

Xiang Zhe made his way to the cinema, happily. He had bought a grilled chicken sandwich – the sort that Shan Mei loved. “Whale Rider” was showing at the cinema. Xiang Zhe remembered that he had previously agreed to watch this movie with Shan Mei, but had subsequently forgotten all about it. He was feeling rather guilty at that now.

The show ended at 1pm and the slient crowd poured from the cinema doors. Xiang Zhe searched through the sea of faces intently, fearing that he might miss Shan Mei.

He was anxious to see the one he had missed so dearly. Shan Mei finally appeared, her eyes red with tears. Xiang Zhe couldn’t help smiling. Ah! She must have cried a sea of tears in the cinema, as usual. He could not figure out now she could store so many tears inside her small body! Just as Xiang Zhe was about to approach, he realized she was not alone. It was that colleague of her father’s Yutaka Sanada. Xiang Zhe faltered for a minute before approaching them.

“Shan Mei!”
Shan Mei’s heart skipped a beat when she turned and saw Xiang Zhe, and her eyes misted with tears. Thankfully, he was still a distance away. Yutaka Sanada greeted Xiang Zhe, then made his excuses and departed.

The two of them made their way down the road towards Todai University in silence.

Xiang Zhe did not say anything. Shan Mei thought he might have been unhappy at finding her in the company of Yutaka.

After a long time, Xiang Zhe finally spoke.
“Did the two of you go to the movie together?”
The thought of Shan Mei watching the movie in the company of another man was distasteful to him.
“We met in the cinema.” It was only after she arrived at the cinema that she discovered Yutaka in the seat next to hers. The ticket had originally been for her father. Oh why was she so anxious to explain the situation to Xiang Zhe? After all, she no longer cared what he thought…….

“Are you upset at me?” Xiang Zhe asked.
She had glared at him accusingly when he saw her at the cinema, and he felt unnerved by it.

Shan Mei glanced at Xiang Zhe. She thought the one who was upset was HIM.
“Why would I be upset at you?”
“Because I haven’t been over to see you for quite a while.”
“I know you’ve been really busy.” She knew he was busy with both his own work AND with his family’s business.
“Why did you suddenly decide to come to Tokyo?”
Wasn’t he supposed to be heading for London on Monday?
Shan Mei spoke to him in casual tones, as if talking to an acquaintance. It made him extremely uncomfortable.
Xiang Zhe took Shan Mei’s hand, “I really missed you. I wanted to see you….” He said simply.
Shan Mei smiled fleetingly. Oh, how she missed having him hold her hand and speak so lovingly. It made her feel warm and comforted. However, she doubted that this feeling would be hers for much longer. Her heart constricted at the thought.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were thinking of working in Seoul?” Xiang Zhe asked.
She looked up at him, “Did my father tell you this?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Xiang Zhe avoided her question.
“I haven’t really decided yet,” Shan Mei looked away.
“Wasn’t this the reason you came over to Seoul?”
“I … changed my mind.”
“There were other things I had to consider,” Shan Mei said, clamping down on her pain.
He had single-handedly caused her hurt, and she was unwilling to re-visit what happened in Seoul.

Xiang Zhe couldn’t stand it any more. He grabbed her tightly, “Just what is wrong with you? Why are you speaking to me so strangely?”
“I’ve always been this way,” Shan Mei said smoothly, avoiding Xiang Zhe’s gaze. She was afraid she would cry if she did.
“That’s not the Shan Mei I know.” Xiang Zhe searched her face, trying to decipher the reason, but in vain. “Did something happen? Or…. Did I do something that upset you?”
Shan Mei merely shook her head.
“Are you angry at me for ignoring you and not coming over to see you these past weeks?” He looked at her intently.
“No,….” Shan Mei shook her head as her tears fell. She wasn’t angry at him, she was angry at herself. She missed him, but he didn’t allow her to go over to Seoul. She knew this was because he didn’t want her worrying over him. He was used to fighting his battles alone, and did not want her next to him. She felt useless and uneeded. From the beginning, Xiang Zhe had treated her like a precious object, treating her with care. He never allowed her to play a part if he was ever in need. Every time she heard the fatigue and frustration in his voice, she was sad and disheartened. She felt that he really shouldn’t have fallen in love with her – all she could give him was more trouble and burden.

Xiang Zhe pulled Shan Mei into his arms. “I’m sorry,” he said gently.
The familiar warmth, his familiar smell, moved her so, she almost changed her mind. She knew very well her heart could not bear to leave him.

They sat next to each other on the university lawn.
It was a spring day. The grass was green, the flowers were blooming and the sun was warm on their bodies. Shan Mei remembered the previous year when she and Xiang Zhe were lying at Karuizawa Taleisin park sunning themselves. That had been an unforgettable afternoon.

Shan Mei tore her sandwich in half, and shared it with Xiang Zhe.
“Is it good?”
Shan Mei nodded. She loved anything that he bought her.
“You’ve lost some weight,” he said.
Shan Mei patted her chest and replied, “It’s not so bad, is it?”
She turned around to look at him, a soft smile on her lips.
“I know what you’re going to say.”
He had also lost a bit of weight himself.
“What have you been so busy with?” Shan Mei asked him.
“Work, of course! Aren’t you also snowed under here?” Xiang Zhe glossed over it.
“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded. She knew all of this. Even if he hadn’t said it, she could read about it all in the papers.
“Anything else?” Shan Mei pressed on. She really wanted to know if the situation with his family’s business had been resolved. One of her journalist friends in Seoul had kept her up to date with the happenings and rumours of Wen Rong group. She was sure Xiang Zhe would have been working on it as well.
“That’s all.” Xiang Zhe’s reply was exactly what she expected him to say, but the answer disappointed her deeply.

She never doubted for a minute that Xiang Zhe truly loved her. However, she was also certain there was someone out there who was a better match for him: someone whom he could confide in; someone who could stand next to him and help him fight his battles so he would not have to face them alone. She felt that he deserved to have that kind of happiness and support.

That afternoon, Shan Mei made apricot pasta for Xiang Zhe. It was something she had meant to cook for him for a long time.
“How is it?” she asked.
“It’s great.”
Shan Mei smiled sweetly.
“You must make sure you remember the flavour of this meal.” Shan Mei said.
“Why?” Xiang Zhe looked at her puzzled.
“Well…” Shan Mei smiled, “What I mean is, the first taste of many things is often the best…”
She hoped that he would remember this meal forever.

That night, she insisted on taking Xiang Zhe all the way to the airport. Xiang Zhe was delighted, thinking that she must be unwilling to part with him. After all, it had been more than a month since they last met.

“Hurry up and discuss that job in Seoul with Moody’s on Monday.” Xiang Zhe cajoled, “If there’s any problems, let me know. I know a few of their head honchos up in New York.” He was going crazy with anticipation over the thought that she would be moving over to Seoul, even though it would probably be another three or four weeks before that could happen.

Shan Mei remained glum. She had long given up that opportunity. Time, tide and opportunity never wait for anybody.

“Take good care of yourself. Don’t just think about work.” She told him.
“I’ll try my best.” He ruffled her hair.
“Can you please hug me for a minute?” She asked.
“Right now?” Xiang Zhe was surprised. She was normally rather reserved in public.
“Yes, right now.”
“You’re getting very good at twising me around your little finger….” Xiang Zhe whispered in her ear.
I won’t ever do it again, Xiang Zhe! Her heart was bleeding.

“I’m thirsty. Can you get me a drink?” Shan Mei said.
When Xiang Zhe was not around, she took the opportunity to slip a letter into his briefcase. She had written it more than a week ago. It was a farewell letter that she had written after thinking long and hard about the matter.

“You’d better go in.” She said to him.
Shan Mei looked forlorn.
Xiang Zhe curled his arm around her waist and pulled her in tightly. “I’ll be back next week.” He promised.
“Mmm.” Shan Mei nodded vaguely, “Go on in.” she pushed.
“I want to watch you leave first.” Xiang Zhe said.
“Alright then….. I’ll go now.” Shan Mei turned around and hurried towards the exit.
She had thought she would have been strong enough to see him off, hoping to be able to take a picture of his image with her eyes and keep it in her heart. However, she felt so fragile at this moment, she was unable to even face him.

Shan Mei hurried through the crowd, tears in her eyes, and didn’t stop until she had changed trains and arrived the bayside park. There, she could no longer hold her emotions in, and wept into her hands. She remembered once telling Kim Hye Ju firmly that she would willingly let go of him if Xiang Zhe ever found himself a more suitable partner. She had since discovered that it was easy to say, but extremely difficult to do. Her heart was hurt and bleeding; she could not bear to let go of the relationship; she could not bear to let him go.

Over the last few weeks, she had often found herself here with tears in her eyes, reminiscing about the times she shared with Xiang Zhe, getting herself tied up in knots. This time, even the sea could not ease the pain and distress that was in her heart. The Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s story loved to watch the sunset whenever he was feeling sad. Once, he sat and watched forty-three sunsets in a row. Did she also have to watch forty-three sunsets before this pain would start to ease?

As her tears flowed, she was too distressed to even notice the curious looks of passersby.

Her mobile phone rang. It was a call from home.
“Dad.” She dried her tears and tried valiantly to take the sadness out of her voice.
“Shan Mei, where are you?”
“I’m out shopping.”
“Xiang Zhe just rang looking for you. Don’t stay out too late. You still have to work tomorrow!”
“I know, Dad.”

She knew her father was worried for her, but she was not in a state to go home and face him yet. Right at this moment, she did not want be anywhere else. This was a place that featured in many of her memories with Xiang Zhe. Xiang Zhe knew she loved coming here, and they often came together.

She thought about the time they spent together, about their love for each other, about the things they did together. Right from the beginning, he had always given in to her, and spoilt her, never allowing her to feel sad. She always enjoyed being cosseted by him. The times they spent together were always filled sweetness and contentment. With one look, they knew what the other was thinking; she naturally assumed that they were perfect for each other, until Michiko brought her that article. It was then she realized there was someone else who was probably much better for him than she was: someone who was able to access the depths of his heart.

Someone once said: “the person whom comes to mind when you’re in the deepest despair is the one you have been searching for all your life.” No matter how much trouble she was in, no matter how much she felt unable to cope, she would feel better the minute he was around. She knew he was the one for her. However, when he was in the deepest despair, the one her turned to was not her, but someone else; therefore that someone else was probably the right one for him. The first time she saw the two of them together in London, didn’t her first impression say the same?

Perhaps the miles that separated them affected their rationale. They were so desperate to treasure their time together that they always tried to make sure it was happy. As such, they never discussed any of their resentments or spent time to analyse their true feelings. She felt she needed to give him a little space; to spend a little time apart in order that he would be able to clear his head and come to a definite conclusion about who was more suitable for him. She felt she needed to be fair to him and give him some time to calmly consider his options. She had said as much in her letter to him.

She thought that she would have an easier time when she made her decision, after spending the long the tortous weeks considering her options. She didn’t expect that her heart would be completely shattered the moment she said farewell to him.

She regretted what she had done; she was angry at herself for being such a matyr, pushing the one she loved towards another woman. God! She must be the most stupid woman in the world! He was her soulmate! All she had to do was to hang on to him and and she would be happy. Why, oh why, then, was she stupidly trying to enlighten him? Well… she loved him, and his happiness was paramount to her. Surely it would not be love if it was so selfish?

Her wept yet again.

After leaving the park, Shan Mei turned towards the hustle and bustle of the city, wandering aimlessly, when it started to drizzle. She stopped at the giant TV screen in the middle of the square which normally captured her attention with the latest MTV video clips. Tonight, she stood there numbly, feeling completely drained and empty.

Suddenly, a familiar female voice started to sing the lyrics that tugged at her heart:

I’m a big girl
In a big big world
It’s not a big big thing if you leave me
But I do do feel that
I too too will miss you much
Miss you much…..

I can see the first leaf falling
It’s all yellow and nice
It’s so very cold outside
Like the way I’m feeling inside…

Outside it’s now raining
And tears are falling from my eyes
Why did it have to happen
Why did it all have to end….

I have your arms around me oooh like fire
But when I open my eyes you’re gone….

In the cold drizzle of the night, Shan Mei’s heart was frozen; her face wet with both the rain and her tears. When she awokes tomorrow, would Xiang Zhe be completely out of her life forever?

Shan Mei stood on the street corner listening to the song while her heart was broke…..



Written by Jennifer
Source: AAEV
Translated by nho(CA)

The plane took off. Hyun Chul looked out of the window and his heart filled with unease. Sun Mi left with hands covering her face and he tried to chase after her but she disappeared without a trace. He could not help worrying. He tried to call her on her cell phone but she didn’t take the call; he phoned her at home and Professor said she had not returned home yet. It looked as though he had to wait until he reached London before he could get in touch with her. In the past whenever they parted company, she often couldn’t help being on the verge of tears, but he had never seen her looking this heartbroken before, as if she was experiencing a life and death separation.

Hyun Chul took out his brief case. He still had not had a chance to read the material for tomorrow’s board meeting. There was a blue envelope inside his brief case. Hyun Chul knitted his brows as he could not remember seeing anything like this in his brief case before.

Hyun Chul turned over the envelope to read and got a shock. On the envelope, Sun Mi’s beautiful handwriting wrote: “To Hyun Chul”. Why did she write to him? Hyun Chul’s mind emerged with the sight of Sun Mi’s heartbroken look when she was leaving and a sense of foreboding enveloped him.

He tore open the letter and after reading just a couple of lines, Hyun Chul was stunned. He could not believe his own eyes.

She was saying goodbye to him …, she asked for his forgiveness for her wilful act.

She wrote: In a lifetime, one would look for two companions and she would so wish she could become one, as both his soul mate and his living companion, but she was not perfect, she could only be his living companion. She said she had treated him unfairly all the way and she should repay him justice and fairness. She wanted him to think carefully: was there someone who would suit him better, who could bring him more happiness and who could share his inner thoughts, maybe that person would be the anchor of his true feeling. She wished he could achieve real happiness and that was what she fervently pledged for, even though his decision might result in her deep sorrow.

“You don’t have to worry that I will be hurt, I also have a durable heart …” What Sun Mi wrote thereafter, Hyun Chul was not in a mood to read on. His mind was confused, staring at the two-page letter paper dumbfounded.

No wonder she wanted him to remember the taste of the peach pasta, no wonder she wanted him to hug her in the airport, that was because she wanted to end their relationship.

For a long time thereafter, when Hyun Chul’s brain and nerve system started to function again, he began to readjust his line of thinking.

He recalled his conversation with Young Shun earlier that day, from beginning to end and in great detail. He conjured up everything that had happened between him and Sun Mi during the last month from back to front. He was sure something must have happened or someone must have said something to her that let her think there was some other person in his heart, made her change her plan to return to Seoul to work and allowed her to make such a heart-wrenching decision. What really transpired? He unexpectedly had no inkling of what actually happened! He had really neglected her lately.

Hyun Chul held his head in his hands and thought hard. Right! It definitely should be the time when Sun Mi went to New York for the seminar and came to see him in Seoul en route. Didn’t Young Shun say something about Sun Mi wanting to discuss with him the matter of returning to Seoul to work? That time he thought she wanted to work in New York and he tried to avoid confrontation with her and did not go home until after midnight. The next day he was so caught up in meetings that he failed to turn up at their lunch date. Sun Mi returned to Tokyo that day without saying goodbye and left a note saying something weird about being defeated by the ginseng sticky rice chicken soup. It was certainly that time! She must have harboured some misunderstanding towards him!

Hyun Chul berated himself and felt helpless.

“I am not good enough, I could not provide the companionship you needed most in time of adversity …”

“I wish you can have real happiness …”

This idiot girl! She did not know how important she ranked in his life! She was his source of strength, and where his happiness tied.

“I hope you can honestly face your own feeling, think clearly, who is the anchor of your real affection and who is the love of your heart …”

Who was the anchor of his affection? Who was the love of his heart?

There was only one person in his heart and she should know it better than anyone else.

“I should return you justice and fairness, although by doing it will make me grieve to the extent of wishing to die, but please don’t worry, I can hold up.” She sounded so courageous and resolute. It seemed as though she wanted to sever all tides of love and connection between them.

Hyun Chul’s heart suffered agony. She thought she was a judge who could determine his feeling? She unilaterally wrote that farewell letter to him, was she reasonable? Was she fair to him? Had she considered his feeling? Her decision made his heart wrench with pain, did she know that?

If she was with him this moment, he would give her a good scolding. She made him so mad.

Hyun Chul massaged his aching forehead. What was he going to do in order to make this stubborn and self-righteous girl change her mind and return to his side?

It was already past 10:00 p.m. London time when Hyun Chul checked into the hotel. He picked up the phone and then put it down again. Now it was after 7:00 a.m. in Seoul and Sun Mi would be leaving for work soon. According to Sun Mi’s temperament and the resolute tone in her letter, he knew he could in no way convince her over the phone, but he could not wait until he went to Tokyo to reason with her, he would be going crazy!

Sun Mi sat dully in front of her office desk. She felt as if her whole body was pulled apart. On the outside she looked none the worse, but her body and soul were torn into pieces. From the moment she put that letter into Hyun Chul’s brief case, she spent the night like a walking corpse. She could neither sleep nor could she eat. She had only herself to blame and had to suffer the consequence of her own action.

By this time Hyun Chul must have already read her letter and he must be raving mad and sad. However, she would rather have him mad at her and blaming her now than for him to have any regrets later.

Even though she was drained physically and mentally, the hive of activities in the office made Sun Mi realize that she had to buck up to face work. She opened her email inbox and started to work, she was waiting for a reply from the legal department in the London office.

In her inbox, apart from the expected letter from the legal department, there were also market analysis from the trade department, the most recent industry report from the research department and numerous other emails totalling more than ten. Sun Mi carelessly browsed over the headline of the emails while deleting those advertising junk emails at the same time …. Suddenly the name “HyunChul.Yun” appeared before her eyes and her whole body cells quavered.

The headline of the email read: “From the course of River Jo, I need only one gourdful of water.” [This phrase was extracted from Chapter 91 of The Dream of Red Chamber about Pao Yi’s sentiments of loving only one girl (Tai-Yi) among so many beautiful girls].

She besottedly looked at the words of profound love with tears falling unhidden down her cheek. She lightly clicked on the mouse with trembling fingers and there were only a few lines in the mail.

“When we first started dating, I bought you one single rose from a florist shop by the train station and at that time you asked me: “Only one rose?” and I answered: “Yes, only one.” All the time, my answer remains unchanged.”

Sun Mi was choking with sobs. She always remembered the moment when he said those words, he gazed at her with loving tenderness in his eyes; she had never forgotten that rose symbolized his one and single love for her.

Sun Mi ran out from the office under the astonished look from her colleagues.

“Is Peter in? I want a word with him!” Sun Mi was panting for breath when she entered Peter’s office.

“He is in …”

His secretary Yumiko had not finished speaking and Sun Mi already dashed into Peter’s office like a whirlwind.

“Jin Sun Mi …” Peter was stunned by Sun Mi’s action.

“I have to attend to some urgent matters and need two days off. Will you grant me permission? If …if not, I will have to tender my resignation.”

Sun Mi took the midday flight to London and she was not carrying any luggage with her.

Dark clouds were all over the sky of London with pouring rain. Sun Mi held open her umbrella and waited for Hyun Chul on the side of the street opposite to the office building. According to the people from the secretarial office, they were holding the directors meeting at the moment. Hyun Chul was staying at the Intercontinental Hotel near Hyde Park and she could wait for him there, but she wanted to see him at the very first instance. He was going to come out from the door opposite at any moment.

As it was after 6:00 p.m. and it was after working hours, people kept streaming out from the office building, but Sun Mi did not catch sight of Hyun Chul. She began to worry, could it be that she had missed him? On second thought, she went to the telephone booth at the street corner and made another call to the secretarial office to make another query, but as soon as she made a move, her two legs buckled and nearly slipped and fell, luckily she held on to the lamp post nearby. She had been standing there for over two hours and her legs were limp and numb, and did not do as her body bade.

“Are you the lady who called earlier?” The woman who picked up the phone recognized her voice.

“Huh … yes.” Sun Mi felt embarrassed.

“The directors’ meeting is still on. There are a lot of businesses to discuss today and it may take a while longer. May I know which director who are looking for, maybe I can give him a message for you?”

“It’s OK. Thank you very much.”

Sun Mi went to the coffee shop on the street corner.

“Can I have an expresso please.” She said to the attendant.

“For here or to go?” The attendant cheerfully asked.

“To go please.”

She asked the attendant to put the coffee in a special thermo cup. She was buying the coffee for Hyun Chul. For her, this coffee shop held a special memory. This was the shop where she bought the coffee for Hyun Chul the first time. That time they were on a business trip in London and she brought him a cup of expresso. Hyun Chul then questioned how did she know he liked expresso and that made her face flush bright red. That time even she could not explain the reason why, it all came natural to her. She only knew it afterwards that she had subconsciously paid attention to his each and every move.

Sun Mi stayed in the coffee shop for a while and returned to the original place to wait for Hyun Chul. The rain was pouring heavily and the wind was blowing gustier. Sun Mi’s umbrella had been turned over a few times by the strong wind and her hair and clothes were soaking wet, but Sun Mi was completely unconcerned as she was there waiting for him with her heart and soul.

After a quarter of an hour, several gentlemen in business suits successively left the office building in cars and she recognized a couple of them were the firm’s directors. She thought the meeting would have ended. After a long while she still could not catch a glimpse of Hyun Chul, didn’t he come to the meeting? Or maybe she had missed him? Sun Mi was feeling uneasy …

Finally, she saw Hyun Chul. He was in a deep frown and was preoccupied with thoughts. His look made her heart ache.

Hyun Chul came out of the building. The Chairman asked him to stay behind in order to ask about the Chinese Development Bank project, which project would in an estimate bring about a revenue of US$50 million agents' service fees and the senior executives of the firm were concerned about the progress of this project. He feigned an excuse of having a prior engagement and declined the Chairman’s invitation to dinner as he wanted to have a quiet time by himself. He could not sleep the whole night.

Had Sun Mi read his email? Did she understand his feeling? Hyun Chul signed deeply. To him, the past 30 hours seemed a century long. He could only go to Tokyo to see her two days later and thinking of Sun Mi’s resolution in her letter, he could not help feeling worry. Aye! Where had his usual self-confidence gone?

Hyun Chul glanced once at the sky. The rain was still falling heavily and it had not stopped since he set his feet in London. London usually did not have nice weather and he got used to it after having spent so many years there, but today the rainy weather was making him feel fretful and restless, and he did not pay enough attention in this afternoon’s meeting.

Hyun Chul opened his umbrella, lowered his head and walked ahead …

Suddenly, it seemed as if someone was calling him and that voice sounded so like Sun Mi’s. Hyun Chul gave a wry smile, he must be going crazy. Hyun Chul shook his head and continued to walk ahead.

“Hyun Chul …”

That voice came again, it sounded so clear and near. Hyun Chul’s heart almost jumped out from his throat. He stopped walking but did not dare to turn around as he was afraid that he was in a hallucination.

“You don’t want to see me?”

That sweet and soft voice made him realized that all was real.

Hyun Chul slowly turned around, in front of him were the pair of tear-filled eyes and the face that made him suffered infinite longing.

“You came?” Hyun Chul asked.

She saw the tears and joy in his eyes.

“Hyun Chul …” She fell into his arms, letting the umbrella fall on the ground.

“I am sorry, I don’t want to leave you.” Sun Mi was weeping copiously. “I won’t let you leave me in this lifetime.”

Hyun Chul embraced Sun Mi tightly, he felt so happy, because she returned to his side.

He brought her back to the hotel and all the way Sun Mi could not stop weeping.

“I hate to leave you.” Sun Mi was choking with sobs.

Hyun Chul was rubbing her wet hair with a towel, “I know, I know it all …”, he tenderly said. He held her in his arms.

“I won’t let her have you.” She looked at him firmly, with tears in her eyes.

Hyun Chul caressed Sun Mi’s hair, gently asked: “To whom did you plan to give me away?”

Even though matter took a sudden turn, he still did not understand the whole story.

“I won’t give you up to Kim Hye Ju.” She said.

“Kim Hye Ju?” Hyun Chul wrinkled his eyebrows. “You wanted to split up with me, all because of Kim Hye Ju?”

Sun Mi nodded her head.

“What has Kim Hye Ju to do with us? You met with her?” He was taken by surprise. “Are you hiding something from me?”

“She had your door keys, she cooked the ginseng sticky rice chicken soup for you …” Sun Mi’s voice was so faint that it could barely be heard.

To bring up the matter made Sun Mi’s heart fill with pain once again.

“Sun Mi …” Hyun Chul shook his head and wanted to explain.

“I saw you getting out from her car in the middle of the night and you talked to each other for a long time …” Sun Mi was verge of tears again.

Hyun Chul dearly gazed at her and after a good while, he sighed: “That’s why you left me without saying goodbye; that’s why you left a note saying “Defeated by the ginseng sticky rice chicken soup, I feel so sad?””

Sun Mi wiped off her tears and nodded.

“I saw from the magazine report that you too were having a heart-to-heart chat in a pub in the middle of the night; I was jealous and I was sad that you were sharing your inner thoughts with another woman. I thought maybe that woman was the right one for you.”

“The right one for me?” Hyun Chul drew a deep breath, “There is only one person in my heart … you know how shocked and how angry when I read your letter?”

“I only knew about the Tae Lee case when I was in Seoul. I wanted to comfort you, wanted to share your worries, but it seemed as though you were avoiding me …”

“Yes, at that time I was really trying to avoid you …” He looked at her steadily. Sun Mi’s eyes flashed with pain.

“Don’t get the wrong idea.” He caressed her cheek. “I avoided you, I was afraid to be alone with you, because I feared that you would tell me that you wanted to go to New York and leave me behind.”

“You feared that I would go to New York with Papa?”

Hyun Chul smiled bitterly, “From the moment I knew that Professor was going to teach in New York, I began to worry that you were going to leave me.”

“But I have never planned to go to New York with Papa.”

“The day before you came to Seoul en route from New York, a friend of mine from Moody’s told me that a Korean girl from our Japan office went for a job interview in their New York office, plus the fact that you concealed from me your trip to Seoul …”

“You know about my trip to Seoul?” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul with shock.

“Huh …” Hyun Chul nodded, “That day I barely caught a glimpse of you. At first I was not too sure that it was you, but that evening when you prevaricated on the phone, I knew in my heart it was you.”

“Why didn’t you ask me about it?”

If he asked about the matter earlier, they would not have to experience this heart wrenching suffering.

Hyun Chul twitched the corner of his mouth and said: “At that time I was acting somewhat out of spite! I was feeling sorry and thought I didn’t have a place in your heart.”

Sun Mi with eyes blurred with tears, said: “I only wanted to wait until everything was finalized and then give you a pleasant surprise.”

Hyun Chul shook his head, “Please do not try to create such a hair-raising surprise the next time, I was nearly tortured to death by you!”

“I’m sorry …” Sun Mi dried her tears.

“Only if I could get hold of you in the airport.”

“You looked for me?”

“I saw that you looked very unhappy and could not help worrying. When I followed you outside, there was already no sight of you.”


“Sun Mi …”


“About what happened that day …”

Sun Mi raised her eyes to look at him, shook her head and said: “That’s alright. It is no longer important.”

“To me, it is very important.”

“If you want to say something, go ahead then!”

“That pot of chicken soup was prepared by my mother.” Hyun Chul glanced at Sun Mi’s face which was filled with astonishment and continued: “That day Hye Ju was doing an errand for my mother to bring me the pot of chicken soup and the set of keys was also from my mother.

Sun Mi looked at him.

“That night, I had the teleconference with London discussing the Tae Lee case until after 11:00 o’clock. Guo Seung saw that I was in a bad mood and took me to the pub and there I ran into Hyu Ju and her friends. I drank quite a lot that night and let Hye Ju drive me home. I and Hye Ju …” Hyun Chul paused for a moment, “I have already made it clear to Hye Ju about us. There is nothing between me and her except brotherly and sisterly friendship. It is always like that since the very beginning. It is true …” He held on to her hands tightly. “That night, I stayed a long time downstairs because she wanted to discuss with me about arranging a reunion meeting with some schoolmates. One of our senior came back from the States and Hye Ju wanted to arrange a get-together meeting. That was all and I never thought …”

“There is no need to carry on, I am narrow-minded and I wrongfully condemn you.” Sun Mi stopped him from continuing.

He kissed her forehead and said: “I was also in the wrong, if I didn’t behave like a coward and tried to avoid you, there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding … let’s call it square, shall we?”

“Why do you always comfort me this way?” She snuggled close to his warm chest.

Hyun Chul smiled, “My mother always say that I am too sketchy and careless, not thoughtful to others and don’t know how to sweet talk.”

She smilingly hit his chest once.

“Sun Mi …”

“Huh?” She raised her head and looked at him.

“Promise me, never never say the word “goodbye” again.” Hyun Chul said.

Sun Mi unbrinkingly met the pair of eyes which were filled with profound love and softly but firmly said: “Till the mountain crumble, streams run dry and the earth mingles with the sky, not till then will I cease to love you!

She would not want to separate from him in this lifetime.

Sum Mi wanted to take the 10:00 p.m. flight back to Tokyo but Hyun Chul would not let her go. He wanted her to take the next day’s afternoon flight with him.

“I promised Peter I would be back soon after I finished my business.”

“Your business has not been finished yet and I have a say in it.”


“I am the victim. I have hardly recovered from the trauma and don’t think you can desert me and run back to Tokyo.” Hyun Chul said.

Hyun Chul dragged Sun Mi to the shopping mall in the hotel to shop. He said she looked like someone running out from a refugee camp. Sun Mi couldn’t help but obeyed him, she knew he was worried that she would get sick wearing her wet clothes.

Hyun Chul wanted to take her to dinner in the restaurant, but Sun Mi refused.

“I am looking awful.” Sun Mi said.

“Who said that?” Hyun Chul surveyed the people shopping in the boutique and smiled happily: “I think none of them here looks more pretty than you are.”

She was wearing a pink suit and looked sweet and lovely like a doll.

“You know full well I didn’t mean that …” Sun Mi pouted her lips; her eyes were swollen as big as a walnut.

Hyun Chul gave a laugh, “Why do you care about what other thinks?”

“Of course it does not bother you, they are looking at me and not at you.” Sun Mi said.

“Who said it does not bother me?” Hyun Chul draw a sigh with exaggeration, “They must be privately thinking, huh! This fellow must have done something bad to make her girlfriend cry in such a way. Aye, I am wrongful accused!” Hyun Chul wore an injured look on his face.

Sun Mi broke into laughter.

Hyun Chul ushered Sun Mi into the restaurant without giving Sun Mi a chance to object, “There is nothing to worry about. I can always get you a pair of sunglasses …”

“Yun Hyun Chul …”

Sun Mi found it both frustrated and hilarious; how erroneous an idea it was, she had never seen anyone wearing a pair of sunglasses to dinner.

They went to have dinner at the French restaurant located in the hotel. They both lost their appetites in the last few meals and now they were back in a happy mood and suddenly felt so hungry that anything edible would seem like ambrosia to them.

Sun Mi mentioned about how she recklessly dashed into Peter’s office and threatened to resign if she was not permitted to take time off.

“When I think about it now, I am feeling bad as if I was threatening Peter.” Sun Mi shamefacedly said.

“Really?” Hyun Chul smilingly looked at Sun Mi with eyes shining with brilliant light.

“Why are you looking at me this way?”

“Do you know? This is the first time I am feeling that I rank the most important place in your heart and this feeling is wonderful.” Hyun Chul smiled blissfully.

“That letter … can you return it to me?” Sun Mi said.

Hyun Chul smilingly shook his head.


“Someday when you commit a blunder again, I would remind you with it.”

“Haven’t I made you a promise in your room just now?”

Hyun Chul again shook his head.

“Then … can I exchange it with a letter of repentance?” Sun Mi asked with a helpless look.

“Letter of repentance?”

“Right, letter of repentance.”

“Well, I have to see what is written in that letter.”

Sun Mi thought for a while with her head lowered. She then asked the waiter for a piece of paper, drew something on it and shyly handed it to Hyun Chul.

Hyun Chul took a look and laughed whole-heartedly.

Sun Mi drew a rose.

“Will that do?” Sun Mi asked with a wee smile.

“It will do.”

She gave him a one and single rose, he was her one and single love.

Hyun Chul took the two-page wrinkled letter out of his pocket, “Here, it’s for you!” Hyun Chul’s smile was as brilliant as the sunlight.

His smile made her feel she was blessed with happiness.

“I have changed my mind, the letter is for you to keep!” Sun Mi said.

Hyun Chul gazed at her smilingly and after a while, he said: “Fine, it will remind me that there was once an idiot girl who was leaving me because she loved me.”

Hyun Chul carefully folded the paper with the rose drawing together with the letter and put them into his pocket.

“Hyun Chul …”

“Huh?” Hyun Chul looked at Sun Mi curiously, she was looking a bit odd.

“Miss Kim …, she …” Sun Mi spoke haltingly: “She is pretty, capable, her family background is the same as yours, and you grew up together, why didn’t … “

Hyun Chul interrupted Sun Mi’s speech: “I am in love with the girl who will speak harshly and bluntly to me when she is angry; who loudly told me in Shinjuku that destiny was controlled in the palm of oneself, not decided by a coin; who tried hard to learn to make kimji for me; who pestered me to teach her how to play golf so that she could accompany me to the game; who left me because she wanted me to find happiness …”

“Hyun Chul …” Sun Mi was visibly touched by those words and was on verge of tears looking at the gentle and affectionate face before her .

Hyun Chul enveloped Sun Mi’s delicate hands tightly in his pairs of thick and warm hands.

“Jin Sun Mi, let’s lay down some rules …” Hyun Chul said.

“Lay down some rules?”

“Right!” Hyun Chul nodded, “I promise you, from now on, I will let you know and discuss all matters with you, regardless of whether they are happy or sad …” He looked at her, “And you are not to bury anything in your heart. If you don’t want to tell me in my face, you can write it down in a piece of paper and stick it to my door, saying “Yun Hyun Chul, I am very angry” etc. wordings to let me know …, OK?”

“OK.” Sun Mi nodded in agreement.

“Remember, this is our lifetime agreement.” Hyun Chul solemnly said.

A lifetime agreement? Sun Mi experienced a special and sweet feeling in her heart.

Hyun Chul accompanied Sun Mi to her room; she was staying one floor above his room.

“I nearly forget … “ Sun Mi took out the thermo cup of expresso.

“What is this?”

“Expresso from the coffee shop around the corner of our London office.”

“It’s for me?”

“Yes …, but the hot coffee must have now turned to warm coffee.”

Hyun Chul’s mouth twitched at the corner, “I am feeling as we were back in that time when we were in London.”

“You remember?” Sun Mi smiled.

“Of course! That day you bought me an expresso, and also drew me a cartoon, but …” Hyun Chul suddenly stopped speaking, but wore a big smile on his face.

“But what?”

“This time is better than last time.”


“Because … today besides hot coffee and a drawing of a rose, I also have you, the one I love best in this world.”

He pulled her into his arms, tenderly and desperately kissing her.

After a night of pouring rain, London was shining with sunlight the next day, such as the love between Hyun Chul and Sun Mi, everything was back to normal.

Hyun Chul arranged to meet with Sun Mi at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 10:00 a.m. He received a phone call from the chairman early in the morning to go and meet him in the office.

Sun Mi strolled around Hyde Park and then went to the Cathedral. She sat at the last row to wait for Hyun Chul. She liked the tranquillity in the church which was laden with a solemn and respectful atmosphere. Sitting there would make one’s heart naturally at peace. Although she had lived in England for a few years, including today, this was only her third visits there.

The time was still early and it was kind of quiet inside the Cathedral as there was only a few priests doing morning prayers, but it would be difficult to say a few moment later. St. Paul’s Cathedral was the second largest cathedral dome in the world and it was where the marriage ceremony between Prince Charles and Princess Diana took place. Although it was now past history, it was still the hottest tourist attraction. Indeed as expected, soon after 9:30 a.m. the cathedral was bombarded with troops of tourists.

Sun Mi followed the steps of the tourists, going upstairs to visit the recognitive Whispering Gallery up in the Dome. She had heard of this place before but had never come to visit. Though it was “upstairs”, one had to climb exactly 259 steps up the spiral staircase to where the Whispering Gallery was located and someone with poor physical condition had to beat a hasty retreat midway. The tourist guide asked the tourists to go to one end of the hall in order to listen to what he said to them. The tourist guide stood at the other end which was some distance away from the tourists, softly spoke to the holes in the wall and the unusual echo effect of the Dome made it possible for everyone standing in front of the holes to hear clearly the words he uttered.

Sun Mi could imagine in the old fashioned and conservative era, the girls wearing veils sitting under the Dome to listen to the words of love from their beloved while the bachelors whispered to the holes in the wall, waiting for the person they adored to respond to their words of love. This Whispering Gallery must have hidden away sweet memories and heartbreaks of the voices of countless lovers.

One could see many lover-like men and women came to each end of the centre of the circle, whispered to the wall to each other messages and words of greetings, with different accent of speech sounding in their ears and each face wearing a smile and Sun Mi unconsciously revealed a smile of understanding.

Suddenly, she could hear that familiar gentle voice.

“Sun Mi …”

She searched for him in all directions but among the influx of people, she could not find him.

“Hyun Chul!” She faced the holes and called out his names

They used their mother tongues to call out to each other, and it was exceptionally clear and recognizable among the sea of foreign languages.

“Hyun Chul, where are you?”

“I …, I am in your heart.” Hyun Chul’s voice was filled with infinite love.

“…” Her heart immediately was flooded with happiness.

“Do you know where I am?” She asked him.


He could see her, she was bending down and speaking to the holes with concentration, and he could see her face flooding with love.

Hyun Chul slowly walked towards Sun Mi.

“I am high on the clouds of happiness.” Sun Mi happily said.

“I love you, Jin Sun Mi.” Hyun Chul said.

“I love you too, Yun Hyun Chul.” Sun Mi responded to her beloved with profound love.

It seemed as though the two of them went past space and time and were back in that old-fashioned and conservative world, dreamingly listened to each other’s sincere and passionate exchange of love vows.

Hyun Chul gracefully walked to Sun Mi’s side.

“Will you come back to Seoul with me?” Hyun Chul asked. He earnestly looked at Sun Mi.

He did not want and could no longer suppress the longing in his heart. He had to act selfish for himself this once.

“Yes.” Sun Mi did not hesitate nor did she waver.

He heard her sweet reply which was like the sounds of nature and he could see the inexpressible love in her eyes.

He was so jubilantly happy that he hugged Sun Mi close ….




Written by Jennifer
Source: AAEV
Translated by nho

The phone was ringing and Sun Mi picked it up without lifting her head.

“Jin Sun Mi speaking.”

“It’s me …”

Sun Mi was surprised to hear Hyun Chul’s voice as he was now in New York and the day and night reversed in both places. During the past few days, he always called her in the morning and now it was 2:00 a.m. Eastern American time.

“You should be sleeping in the middle of the night and not calling me!”

Even though she grumbled to Hyun Chul, she sounded happy.

“I am missing you too much to sleep.” Hyun Chul slightly twitched the corner of his lip, envisaging Sun Mi’s smiling face.

“You are disgusting …”

“Disgusting? Those words are from the bottom of my heart …” Hyun Chul roared with laughter, “Are you busy today?”

“Yes, I think I have to work overtime tonight!”

There was an investor conference tomorrow and she was busy preparing materials the last few days.

“Are you missing me today?”

“Well … I am too busy to have time to miss you.” Sun Mi smilingly said.

Hyun Chul had been out of the country for more than a week and she was feeling that time was passing with extreme slowness.

“Aye, how disappointing!” Hyun Chul listlessly said.

“How can you ask the same question every day …” Sun Mi chided.

“I can’t help it. I just love to hear you say those words.”

Hyun Chul’s candid laughter flew past the telephone line and drifted into Sun Mi’s ear.

“Hey, are you coming back tomorrow?” Sun Mi asked.

“Well …” Hyun Chul tried to put Sun Mi on suspense.

“Yun Hyun Chul, don’t tell me you are postponing your return?” Sun Mi sounded a little bit anxious.

“Why? You are not missing me anyway …”

“You rotten man!” He just loved teasing her.

“Oh, so you are missing me after all.” Hyun Chul smiled with satisfaction, “Hey, if I can fly back to your side today, any rewards for me?”

It was wishful thinking on Hyun Chul’s part and Sun Mi thought it funny for flying from New York to Seoul, even the fastest flight would take at least 16-17 hours!

“Huh, naturally you will have your share of the rewards, but before claiming them, I’m afraid you have to borrow a rocket from NASA.” Sun Mi said.

About four hours later, Hyun Chul carried with him a happy smile and entered the Wen Rong Building in the midst of the heavy moonlight. He could not wait to see Sun Mi’s expression when she saw him.

This was where the headquarters of Wen Rong was situated with its neat and clear gold logo shinning under the moonlight. Since returning to work in Seoul for more than five years, apart from the last time when his brother was hospitalized, his trip to this building could be counted with his fingers, but during the past four months, he had made countless visits here, that was all because Sun Mi was working here.

Yes, his beloved Sun Mi had returned to Seoul and she was working at Wen Rong responsible for investor relations business. She tactfully declined his father’s arrangement for her to head the public affairs department, which he had proposed to his father to set up to be solely responsible to deal with investor relations, the business of which was originally being handled concurrently by the public relations department. Sun Mi considered herself too young and being a fresh face in the Seoul business world to suddenly assume the role of a department head would seem inappropriate. Actually with Sun Mi’s ability and affinity, if she would be given a little time to get familiar with the company’s operation, she would definitely be able to accomplish the task of heading a department with ease.

Hyun Chul came up to the 12th floor. This was where Wen Rong’s administration headquarters were situated and Sun Mi’s public affairs department was also located on this floor. Kang Jung Li was Wen Rong’s spokesman. He was Sun Mi’s immediate boss and he was originally in charge of Wen Rong investors relations. At first Sun Mi worried that her sudden joining the department would offend Kang Jung Li but actually to have someone specifically dealing with those difficult organization investors was what Kang Jung Li wished for. Kang Jung Li started his career in general affairs public relations and he was fine dealing with general media, but liaising with some aggressive and professional analysts would often cause him big headaches. With Sun Mi joining his department would in no doubt solve his headache problems. At the beginning Kang Jung Li on seeing that Sun Mi was so young, was doubtful about her ability and specifically went to have a talk with his father about placing Sun Mi under this department, however, similar to the very first time Hyun Chul was startled by Sun Mi’s performance on her initial presentation, Kang Jung Li was soon bowed over by Sun Mi’s professionalism and earnest manner. After Sun Mi assumed her office for two weeks, Kang Jung Li began to assign to Sun Mi all the duties of dealings with organization investors and also took the initiative to set aside an office for Sun Mi in addition to appointing an assistant to help Sun Mi to deal with general matters. At the beginning Kang Jung Li was not aware of the relationship between Hyun Chul and Sun Mi until one day when Hyun Chul played truant and came to visit Sun Mi and unexpectedly bumped into Kang Jung Li. He told Kang Jung Li that Sun Mi was her junior at school. However with Sun Mi’s shy and embarrassed look, how could they hide from a worldly-wise person like Kang Jung Li. From that time onwards, Sun Mi forbade him to come to visit her during office hour.

Hyun Chul turned to the right corridor. It was after 8:00 p.m. and the offices on the whole floor were in darkness, except the office at the far end was still with the lights on. There was an investor conference tomorrow and Sun Mi would in no doubt continue working late in the night. During the recent three months, although Kang Jung Li would be present at Wen Rong’s regular press conference, it was Sun Mi who was responsible to answer questions raised by investors and the media. Sun Mi’s professionalism, forthrightness and her not beating around the bush manner, plus her youth and prettiness and the fact that she was the only female in South Korean’s holding companies responsible for dealing with investors business, naturally would attract a lot of attention and during the past couple of months Wen Rong’s media exposure rate was many times higher than before and this was in some way due to Sun Mi. However, he suffered as a consequence. In order to be considerate of Sun Mi’s recent arrival to Seoul and not wanting to cause harassment to her work and private life, he was extremely careful not to expose their relationship to the public. During holidays the two of them would either stay at home or drive out of town, unlike the time when they could date so freely in Tokyo.

Hyun Chul entered the reception area and found nobody there. Sun Mi’s assistant most probably was already off work. Hyun Chul shook his head deploringly. Sun Mi was emulative and had a strong sense of obligation. There were at least eight to nine subsidiary companies under Wen Rong and Sun Mi wanted to get familiarized with things as soon as possible that during her first month at Wen Rong, she often stayed late in the office reading materials until near midnight and only reluctantly went home when Hyun Chul got angry with her. Sometimes she would even call him about some queries in the middle of the night. Unable to continue to see her in this state, Hyun Chul wanted her to get another assistant, but Sun Mi said as she was new to the company, she was already very grateful to have one assistant. However, she was considerate to her staff and most of time she would handle most of the work herself. Sometimes, he regretted letting her work at Wen Rong. It was fortunate that now as she got familiarized with the work routine, she could often finish work on time and even took up painting lessons in her spare time.

“… I guarantee that I will send you the material early tomorrow morning …” Sun Mi’s voice came out from the door.

Hyun Chul curved his mouth and smiled, thinking that at this moment she must certainly be pestered by some persistent person. She sometime would complain to him about those hard to get along with analysts.

Hyun Chul gently rapped on the door for a couple of times, opened the door and entered her room.

Sun Mi saw Hyun Chul and stood up with pleasant surprise. From the smile in her eyes, Hyun Chul knew how happy she was to see him.

“How come you are back?” She asked him with lip language. At this moment, Hyun Chul should be in New York.

Hyun Chul stretched out his hand and pulled Sun Mi into his arms.

“That is because I miss you.” Hyun Chul gently whispered into Sun Mi’s ear.

“You rotten man, how dare you deceive me!”

Sun Mi sweetly punched Hyun Chul’s chest once. He must have called him from Narita Airport on transit.

Hyun Chul rubbed his chest and softly said: “Don’t tell me this is the “reward” for my hurried journey to Seoul?”

She winsomely glanced at Hyun Chul and replied with lip language: “You’ve got in correct.”

“But I am not that easy to be dismissed.”

Hyun Chul’s lips lightly slid across Sun Mi’s cheek and ended up on her sweet soft lips.

“Huh …” Sun Mi gave a soft chant and could not help herself but responded to Hyun Chul’s passion and gentleness; his kisses often rendered her in an illusive and drunken state.

In the midst of tenderly loving romance, Sun Mi eased the hold on her hand and let the cell phone drop down to her chair with a crashing sound. Sun Mi then remembered that she was still in a telephone conversation with Kang Lib Jung and immediately struggled to get away from Hyun Chul.

“Wei, Jin Sun Mi … Jin Sun Mi … what is going on?” Kang Lib Jung’s voice was calling her from the other end of the receiver.

“I am sorry … Something suddenly popped up, what were you saying a moment ago?”

Sun Mi with a flushing face, stuck out her tongue at Hyun Chul

Hyun Chul smilingly wrapped his arms around Sun Mi from her behind. He was not satisfied with the interruption and wanted to carry on with the loving act, so he continued to harass Sun Mi. He started kissing her soft white neck and his stubbles prickled her skin and made her feel weak and itchy. Sun Mi on one hand had to deal with the person at the end of the receiver and on other hand, was trying to evade Hyun Chul, making her lose her concentration.

“How is General Manager Yun lately?” Kang Lib Jung asked.

General Manager Yun? She tenderly looked at him and artfully and gracefully replied: “He is fine! He just came back from a business trip to New York.”

“Really?” Kang Lib Jung doubtfully asked: “Isn’t he having a medical check up in the hospital in two days’ time?”

“Oh! …”

Sun Mi tried to get back her composure. Good heaven, she must have lost her mind. Kang Lib Jung was asking after Hyun Chul’s brother, Yun Min Jun and her mind was so full of Hyun Chul that she gave an irrelevant reply. It was so disgraceful.

“Oh … I am so sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you were asking after General Manager Yun at Wen Rong Construction.”

She dodged with a good excuse and Hyun Chul was smiling gleefully on one side.

“Jin Sun Mi …”

“Eh …” Sun Mi glanced at Hyun Chul with a look of reluctance. “No, I have something to do this Satuday.”

“What is the matter?” Hyun Chul gently asked Sun Mi when he saw that Sun Mi was looking in a strange way.

Sun Mi smilingly shook her head. Kang Lib Jung wanted to invite her to dinner this Saturday.

“David, I have a prior engagement. I have to go now. See you at the meeting place tomorrow morning.”

Hanging up the phone, Sun Mi heaved a sigh of relief. Kang Lib Jung had been badgering her for more than half an hour.

“Who was that?” Hyun Chul asked.

“Kang Lib Jung from UBS.”

“Kang Lib Jung? … That handsome guy?”

Hyun Chul had an idea of who he was.

“He is OK!” Sun Mi made a voluntary reply.

Hyun Chul glanced at Sun Mi and jealously asked: “Hey, he shouldn’t want to date you?”

Sun Mi puckered in smile.

“I hear that you are often invited out to lunch?” Hyun Chul sounded very jealous.

Sun Mi smilingly said: “When people come to visit me near lunch hour, it is not very polite to let them go back with an empty stomach, but every time when I offer to pay, I always fail to catch the bill. Hey, you have a very efficient report of news!”

“That is for sure.”

Sun Mi took a glance at Hyun Chul, “You wouldn’t have arranged for a spy here?”

Hyun Chul smiled noncommittally.

“It is Assistant Manger Kang who told you, isn’t it?” Sun Mi suddenly realized. She reported to Kang Jung Li daily on her working schedule and discussion contents.

“I think those guys have some ulterior motive. You better not attend those dinner function unless you have to.”

“I don’t like it myself!” Sun Mi muttered to herself.

“Miss, let’s go? We will go and find something to eat.” There was an empty strawberry yoghurt container on Sun Mi’s desk and he supposed that she was again carelessly treating that as dinner.

“There is an investor conference tomorrow morning and I want to read the material again.”

“Enough is enough. I’m sure you must have memorized them by heart.”

“It’s always better with ample preparation.”

“Why didn’t you let Miss Lee stay behind to help you?”

“She has just got married and still in their honeymoon state. I feel bad to ask her to stay too

“She is newly married and you feel bad to ask her to stay. Then why are you treating me so hardheartedly?” Hyun Chul complained.

Sun Mi broke into laughter, “What have I done wrong?”

“Me!” Hyun Chul said with an injured look: “A brief parting is as sweet as honeymoon but you are so cruel to let me stay here to wait for you painstakingly.”

“OK, OK …” Sun Mi smilingly stood up with eyes clear and lucid.

“I wouldn’t dare to let General Manager Yun wait for me here,” She wrapped Hyun Chul’s neck with her arms and laughingly said: “Little me will beg for your pardon here!” She then tiptoed up to lightly kiss Hyun Chul on his lips.

“That’s all? Such patent lack of sincerity!” Hyun Chun was somewhat dissatisfied, her kiss did not even last for three seconds.

“Then what do you want me to do?” Sun Mi pouted her lips.

“I can freely teach you.” Hyun Chul wickedly said.

“There is no need …” Sun Mi wanted to dodge, but was too late …

Sun Mi wanted to go for some fresh air, so they bought a chicken roll from Starbucks and caught the last boat ride at Yoido Wharf. They would very often come to catch the last ride after work, sitting at the stern to silently enjoy the sweet and loving world that belonged to them alone.

Although it was midsummer in August, with the evening wind from the river caressing the face, it was actually very cool and pleasant.

“I can still remember the first time we caught this ride together.”

“Really?” Sun Mi smiled.

“That day, you took the initiative to kiss me on the boat.”

“Did I?” Sun Mi inclined her head and said.

“Don’t feign ignorance. You shouldn’t have forgotten.” Hyun Chul gently kissed her forehead.

“I have got a bad memory.” Sun Mi smilingly buried her head in Hyun Chul’s bosom.

“Are you happy?” Hyun Chul asked Sun Mi.

“Why are you asking?” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul.

“You left Professor and gave up the job you loved. I feel bad for doing that to you.”

Sun Mi finally got the hang of her job and apart from odd days when she had to work overtime, she was now part of the nine to five working race. However, he was still as busy as ever and very often had to go out of the country on business trips and most of the time Sun Mi would be on her own. Although his parents often invited her home, after all they were not closely related and he knew Sun Mi could not help feeling lonely sometimes.

“Don’t worry for nothing. I am fine, because … I have you in my heart.”

Hyun Chul gratefully patted her hand, he understood that she didn’t want him to carry any burdens in his heart.

“Are you missing your last job?”

With Sun Mi’s professionalism and ability, doing public affairs work at Wen Rong was a job unworthy of her talent.

Sun Mi gave a small smile, “I will be telling lies if I say I don’t miss it. That job although a difficult one, was full of challenge. Every time when a case was concluded, the sense of satisfaction and achievement would often made me feel it was worth all the hard work, and that is the kind of feeling I can’t experience in my present job.”

“If there is a chance, would you consider going back to that job?”

“No, I don’t think I will.”


“I want to leave more time for my beloved.”

“Am I the lucky one?”

Sun Mi smilingly leaned her head back on Hyun Chul’s shoulder. She did not want to have the same regrets as her father. She wanted to treasure the love of her life. She could let go a small regret in her heart as one should not be too greedy.

Hyun Chul’s heart was flushed with warmth; he almost took out something from his pocket but finally managed to curb his impulse.

“Right, I still haven’t congratulated you on the success of the Chinese Development Bank deal.” That morning, various financial media reported on the news of the success of the placement of Chinese Development Bank on the market. Hyun Chul went to New York for this deal.

“Thank you.” Hyun Chul grinned.

“Your accomplishment for this year will surely be among the best and your bonus will be innumerable.”

Hyun Chul smiled; he really did not care how much bonus he was going to get, all he cared about was creating double winning for both the firm and the clients.

“I ran into Richard at Moody’s KMV in New York and he asked after you.”

Richard heard about her working for Wen Rong and mourned for their loss. Richard naturally was not aware of the reason for Sun Mi working for Wen Rong.

“He said he would lure you away to work for their branch office in Seoul. They need someone capable like you.”


Last time she suddenly reneged on her agreement and she was still feeling embarrassed.

“If you are interested, you must seriously consider it. The nature of this job is similar to your interest and your training and the working hours are easier to manage. Although during the last few years, Wen Rong has been gradually changing its enterprise culture, old ideas still embedded deeply and can’t be changed momentarily. I just don’t want you to bury your talent there.”

“You are referring to your grandmother?”

Last time Hyun Chul took her home to see his grandmother. Mrs. Yun Senior on hearing that Sun Mi was working for Wen Rong and responsible for public affairs, berated his father on the spot. She reproached Yun Jung Ho for letting Sun Mi undertake just a job as to expose herself in public, causing an awkward situation and Hyun Chul nearly ended up in arguments with his grandmother.

“I sincerely want you to consider. I don’t want you to give up your ideal and interest for me. Haven’t you said to my mother that everyone has a dream and one should try his best to fulfil it, or else there will be regrets.”

Sun Mi steadily looked at Hyun Chul, his proposal was beyond her expectation.

“Then why did you want me to work for Wen Rong at the start?”

“I thought this job would suit you, and of course …, on the one hand it came from selfish motives, I wanted you to return to Seoul as soon as possible, to return to my side.”

“Then, why do you want me to look for another job elsewhere?”

“I want you to be happy, I love watching the way your eyes shine with radiance when you mention your job.”

“Aren’t you afraid that I may neglect you because of work?”

“No, I know you won’t do that to me.” He placed her hand on his chest.

“Yun Hyun Chul, exactly what kind of man are you?”

She looked at him touchingly; his thoughtfulness and regard made her eyes redden. It was said that love was domineering and selfish, but she could only see impartiality and tolerance in him.

“I am only a man who loves you.” Hyun Chul lowered his head and kissed Sun Mi on her lips. “Promise me to seriously consider the matter. Don’t worry about my father, I will talk to him.”

“OK, I promise you I will seriously consider the matter.”

“Eh, I … There is another matter which I want to discuss with you.”

“You are not asking me to go back to Tokyo?” Sun Mi anxiously asked.

At first, he wanted her to go back to do the things she loved best and now he shouldn’t be asking her to go home!

“What are you thinking?” Hyun Chul smiling hugged her close.

“I am planning to resign from my present job at the end of the year.”

“What?” Sun Mi opened wide her eyes and looked at Hyun Chul with surprise.

“The Chinese Development Bank case was satisfactorily concluded and should be considered as my best contribution to the firm.”

“You have been head-hunted?”

“No …” Hyun Chul shook his head. “I am planning to return to Wen Rong.”

“Really .. is it true?”

“You know about my brother’s health condition. My father is getting old and he needs someone to help him …” Hyun Chul said mildly.

To return to Wen Rong was the route he was reluctant to choose but he was forced to do it under the present circumstances. Since the beginning of the year when his brother fell ill with hepatitis, he had been continually under recuperation and rest and although he was still holding the title of General Manager in Wen Rong, he could not deal with a lot of the business. Hyun Chul could not bear to see his ageing father work hard and worry all day.

“Uncle will be very happy.” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul with gratitude.

Hyun Chul’s father had always wanted Hyun Chul to return to Wen Rong, but after several rejections from Hyun Chul, Yun Jung Ho was too proud to mention the matter again; yet in several occasions, he made subtle hints to Sun Mi to persuade Hyun Chul to return to Wen Rong. As Sun Mi did not want to put Hyun Chul in a difficult situation, she never mentioned the matter to him.

It was nearly 11:00 p.m. when Hyun Chul took Sun Mi home.

The building where Sun Mi was living was about 10 minutes’ drive from Hyun Chul’s place. At first, he found a unit in his building for convenience of taking care of her, but Sun Mi stubbornly refused.

“My salary cannot afford the rent.” Sun Mi said.

“You don’t have to worry about the rent …” He already planned to pay the rent for her.

“No, I don’t want to …, and it is so far away from the metro station.”

He was too excited to remember to take transportation into consideration. He was always out of the country for business trips and would not be able to give her a ride every day and he could not help worrying if she had to take a cab home on her own late in the night. He had to let her rent the place she was now living and as it was on his way, he would drive Sun Mi to work every day when he was in Seoul.

Hyun Chul wanted to follow her upstairs, but was stopped by Sun Mi.

“Please go back to your place!”

“What? Not allow me to go up?” Hyun Chul was not too happy.

“Aiyo, I … I have been cleaning my rooms and it is so messy!”

“I can come up and help.”

“No! You just came back, you must be dead tired.”

“Then … you can come to my place.” Hyun Chul said without hesitation.

He missed her and he had so much to say to her.

Sun Mi blushed and shook her head.

“What, don’t tell me it’s because you are lacking in self-control?” Hyun Chul purposely needled Sun Mi. “I am indeed always on my best behaviour.” Hyun Chul said.

The day when Sun Mi followed him back to Seoul, Gui Cheng sincerely and earnestly said to him at the airport: “Hyun Chul, I am entrusting Sun Mi to you to take care and you will not let me down, won’t you?”

“Professor, I will guarantee with my life and moral character.” Hyun Chul told Gui Cheng.

He dared not forget his promise even for a moment.

“Yun Hyun Chul, what are you saying!” Sun Mi’s flushed red in the face and hit Hyun Chul hard on his arm.

Every time when Hyun Chul returned from a business trip, he always liked to find an excuse to stay the night in her place. He loved to huddle with her on her bed, holding her passionately, kissing her and murmured soft words of how he was missing her; until she fell asleep then would he stealthily went back to the guest room.

“There is an investor conference early tomorrow morning. If I go to your place, I have to hurry back at the crack of dawn to change my clothes. It’s too much trouble.” Sun Mi found an excuse to refuse him.

“It’s like that?” Hyun Chul glanced at Sun Mi with a cunning look, “I thought you also wanted to go to my place.”

“Who said that?” Sun Mi pouted.

“Then why did you sleep on my bed when I was not there?”

“I …” Sun Mi lost for words, pursed her lips and said: “How do you know?”

“I found this on my bed …” Hyun Chul touched Sun Mi’s hair with his hand.

“Oh, I forgot to destroy the evidence.” Sun Mi scratched her head.

Every time when Hyun Chul was on a business trip, she missed him so much that she would make a detour to his place because there was filled with his spirit, letting her feel that he was still by her side.

Yesterday she was so tired that she just flopped down on his bed and took a short nap.

“Let’s go! You can just go up and grab some clothes.”

Hyun Chul refused to give up and he especially wanted to be with her tonight.

“No, I have to bring my cosmetics and so on and it will take ages!”

“Aye, you women are so troublesome! Haven’t I asked you to leave some daily used items at my place and you just refused.” Hyun Chul shook his head in defeat.

“No, I just don’t want to!”


“One day when you have friends coming to visit and find some female items there. How embarrassing!” Sun Mi said with eloquence.

“So what? You are my girlfriend. It is no big deal if you leave some of your stuff there.”

As Hyun Chul could not win the argument over Sun Mi, he had to helplessly let her go.

“Sun Mi …” He stopped her, “Let’s have dinner tomorrow night!” Hyun Chul bade Sun Mi goodnight.

“Oh, tomorrow night …” Sun Mi’s face flashed a mischievous smile and slowly and imperturbably said: “Let me check my diary and I will call you later to let you know.”

“Check your diary?” Hyun Chul frowned. “I don’t care whether you have any appointment, your time is mine tomorrow tonight.” Hyun Chul said with a “not to be argued” tone.

Sun Mi glanced at Hyun Chul, pouted her mouth and said: “Wow, how can you be so domineering!”

“You are a heartless wrench. Don’t you know why much I missed you when I was out of the country?”

“OK, OK, then let me spend a little more time with you. Will that do? Why do you have to be so fierce?” Sun Mi coaxingly swung Hyun Chul’s arm.

“This is more like it.”

The two of them went back to the car.

“Do you want to go for a ride?”

“After spending so many hours on the plane, aren’t you tired?”

“Seeing you makes me forget all my tiredness.”

Sun Mi smiled sweetly and alluringly snuggled into Hyun Chul’s chest.

“Hyun Chul …”

“Huh?” He gently caressed her soft hair.

“You … can you give me a big hug?” Sun Mi showed a shy and embarrassed look.

Over the past week, it was the first time since her return to Seoul that he was away from her for such a long time and she missed him so much.

“Oh!” Instead Hyun Chul released Sin Mi, got hold of her arm and steadily looked at her.

“What happens?” Sun Mi looked at Hyun Chul inexplicably.

“I hate to hear you say those words …”

“Why?” Sun Mi pouted. She only asked him to hug her.

“Last time in the airport you suddenly asked me to hold you and then dropped me that farewell letter …, now when I hear those words I am feeling afraid.”

“You … aiyo, you are disgusting!” Sun Mi punched lightly on Hyun Chul’s shoulder once. His antics made her not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

Hyun Chul smilingly pulled Sun Mi into his arms and hugged her tightly.

“Will this do? Miss Jin?”

“Huh.” Sun Mi nodded her head satisfactorily.

Hyun Chul’s embrace was like a strong harbour where she could be contentedly sheltered from the stormy weather.

“This week was so very long!” Sun Mi said.

“You mean … you were missing me very much?”

“Yes.” She looked deep into his pair of charming eyes.

The next second, they started to passionately kissing each other …

“You like it?” He asked her.

“Huh.” Sun Mi shyly responded.

“If you are willing, I can spend the whole night keeping you company.”

Sun Mi found it difficult to shake her head, “I am an easily satisfied person.”

To defy her true feeling in order to refuse Hyun Chul was not an easy task for her.

“You are not saying what is in your heart …” Hyun Chul smilingly patted Sun Mi’s head, “Oi, you surely are not hiding something in your place?”

Sun Mi smilingly looked at Hyun Chul, “You are really very clever, actually …”

“Actually what?”

“Actually, I don’t want you to see how messy my place is. I don’t want to frighten you away …”

“OK!” Hyun Chul helplessly said. He knew no matter how hard he tried Sun Mi would never allow him entering her place tonight. He did not know what game she was playing.

“Have you booked the plane tickets for this Saturday?” Hyun Chul asked.

“Saturday?” Sun Mi was completely at sea. She was still in an intoxicated trance resulting from their act of loving tenderness

Hyun Chul saw her look and gave an involuntary smile, “Aren’t we going to Tokyo to see Professor?”

Every month he would go with Sun Mi to Tokyo to see Professor.

“Oh!” Sun Mi seemed to have woken up from a dream, “There is no need.”

“No need? Why?”

“Papa said he will come over to Seoul this weekend.”


“Yes.” Sun Mi happily nodded her head. “Papa said he is feeling bad for letting you go to see him even though you are so busy.”


“I see … My papa is quite bias.”


“He favours you more! A while ago I tried until my mouth hurt and he was still unwilling to come and now he unexpectedly wants to come to Seoul so that you won’t have to rush around.”

Hyun Chul gave a smile, “Professor must be missing you, his precious daughter and it is due to you that he is considerate to me.”

“Hyun Chul …, Papa said he will consider returning to Seoul to teach in spring next year.”

“That is wonderful!” Hyun Chul joyfully said.

If Professor could return to Seoul, his guilt towards Sun Mi would be lessened. He knew Sun Mi could not help worrying about her father. She had made a big sacrifice for him.”

“I will come to get you tomorrow morning.”

“What for? You are not coming to cause troubles in the investor conference, are you?” Sun Mi asked anxiously.

Last time, when the company held a reception in Hyatt Regency to introduce Sun Mi to the media and investment banking analysts, Hyun Chul came without notice and joined in with the others to question her. She began to get nervous at his appearance and her tongue was nearly tied into knots like the time when she discovered that he was the man she righteously dismissed the night before in the street. Kang Jung Li who was also present at the reception, laughed his head off during the whole time.

She was so mad that after the reception, she picked up the phone and gave him a severe rebuke.

“I am a representative from the investment banks, who says I cannot attend?” Hyun Chul replied righteously.

“You … you are preposterous!” Sun Mi could not win the argument over him and stamped her feet in anger. Hyun Chu was a VIP in investment banking. Usually he would not be present in these kinds of functions, not to say to raise questions such as “how to improve Wen Rong and investors relations”, thus resulting in the camera flash lights flashing non-stop in the reception and the next morning half of the Seoul newspapers printed the photos of two of them side by side with some deriding remarks about Sun Mi being stunned speechless by a handsome guy. Fortunately, their relationship was not made public.

“See how anxious you are. I am only driving you to the office, so you can stop worrying.”

Sun Mi smilingly got into her apartment. She could not help feeling proud of herself. A moment ago, she was play-acting when Hyun Chun mentioned about having dinner with her tomorrow night and he was nearly fed up with her. This fool of a man, how could she forget what date it was tomorrow? She was all the time worrying he could not get back to Seoul in time!

Sun Mi walked to the easel, curved her lips and watched the painting in front of her and the smile on her face became broader. She hoped Hyun Chul would like this painting. If Hyun Chul did not come back suddenly and allowed her time to hide the painting, how would she be so hard-hearted as not to let him come up with her! She missed his embrace, missed his taste and missed everything about him.

Dearest Hyun Chul, don’t be mad at me. I only want to give you a big surprise tomorrow!




Written by Jennifer
Translated by: Jules
Original posted in AAE Village

Xiang Zhe stopped his car by the side of the road to let Shan Mei have her breakfast.

“Aren’t you having any?” Shan Mei asked when she saw that there was only one portion in the bag.

“I’ve already had something….” Xiang Zhe smiled, “I already ate at home this morning. I spent the night at my father’s….”

“Oh…” She had been searching for something this morning, and ended up having no time for breakfast.
“Yummm…it’s really good. What do you call this?”
Xiang Zhe bought her a breakfast meal from a chain store. It was a pastry with sesame seeds on the outside, filled with fruit salad.

Xiang Zhe was pleased. “It’s called a fruit Danish. I saw it on the menu and thought it sounded alright. The counter staff told me it’s new.”

Shan Mei smiled sweetly at Xiang Zhe, “Try it!”she said as she turned the pastry around and offered an untouched segment to him.
Xiang Zhe looked mischieviously at Shan Mei, then took a bite off the corner which she had just eaten.

Shan Mei blushed and glared at Xiang Zhe, “What are you doing?”

“I like the part that’s got a little extra flavour to it”

“Oh you!” Shan Mei pouted as her heart was filled with sweetness.
Shan Mei complained about the large portion and insisted that Xiang Zhe took a share of it.

“Are you sure it’s not because you also like a little extra flavour, so you want me to take a bite off it?” Xiang Zhe teased, as he braced himself for a smack, or at least a roll of her eyes.

Instead, Shan Mei only smiled, “It’s up to you what you think.”

“My, you’re in a good mood today.” Xiang Zhe said.
On most other days, she would have thrown a tantrum at him for teasing her like this.

“Yes I am.” Shan Mei replied.

The two of them alternated having bites of the pastry and then shared the drink in a similar fashion.

Shan Mei helped Xiang Zhe wipe a few errant sesame seeds off his face, “Just look at you! A grown man, but still eating like a child!” Shan Mei chastised even though she loved how he was willing to let her see the child in him

“What a coincidence! I happen to also see a childish lady here.” Shan Mei hastily tried to wipe her face, but was stopped by Xiang Zhe.
“You have to let me wipe them off for you.” He told her, and proceeded to do so with his lips.
“I missed you last night.” He whispered passionately, making her flush and her heart start to pound.

They arrived at Wen Rong building.
“Alright, Director Yin Xiang Zhe. Thank you so much for the delicious breakfast this morning.”

“It can’t beat the breakfasts that you make, though,” Xiang Zhe replied as he helped her with the seat belt.

“It’s too early in the morning for sweet nothings.”

“Sweet nothings?” Xiang Zhe laughed, “I meant every word I said. Don’t you know how much I’m looking forward to being able to have breakfast made by you every day?”

“I can do that!” Shan Mei acquiesced. It wouldn’t be much trouble preparing an extra portion of breakfast each morning. That way, she would also be able to watch him eat……

“Are you serious?” Xiang Zhe scrutinized her face, not knowing whether to laugh.

Shan Mei finally realized exactly what he was trying to imply. Oh, that man! He was always teasing her!

“I have no problem with preparing your breakfast, but….” Shan Mei replied with a mischievious glint in her eye.

“But what?”

“It all depends on whether your performance deserves a reward!”

“If that’s the case… how am I doing so far?” Xiang Zhe edged closer to her.

Shan Mei smothered a laugh, “Well…it’s still under evaluation! Have a nice day, Director Yin!”

He watched her as she walked away, his heart drowning under wave upon wave of happinees.

At ten, Xiang Zhe couldn’t help going down to the Wen Rong’s investor meeting to have a look. In order to prevent Shan Mei knowing he was there, he slipped into the meeting while the lights were dimmed for a video, and sat at the far end, then hastily beat a retreat before it ended.

He really couldn’t help it. He HAD to go and watch her. He loved watching her vibrant stage personality dealing confidently and assuredly with anything they were able to dish out. Today, she was wearing a white suit with a striped blue scarf around her neck looking so elegant. He was so smitten, he could not take his eyes off her. His friends would never believe that he could ever be in such a state.

Snce Shan Mei was appointed to the position of Investor Relations, Wen Rong’s investor meetings were always well attended, and there always seemed to be a reporter or analyst seeking an interview or meeting. Many of these were mere excuses for attempts to attract the attention of Shan Mei. Kang Jung Li often half-joked with Xiang Zhe to be careful of rivals. He was aware of what was going on. A beautiful, intelligent, warm-hearted woman like Shan Mei would naturally attract many suitors, but he never felt threatened. However, when Shan Mei occasionally worried about these people or rescheduled their dates to accommodate them, it still left a bad taste in his mouth.

After his afternoon meeting, Xiang Zhe placed a call to Shan Mei to remind her of their dinner date, but her mobile phone was not on. Ringing her office, he found out from an assistant that she had taken the afternoon off.

That’s strange, she hadn’t mentioned anything about taking time off.

“Was Miss Zhen ill?” Xiang Zhe questioned the assistant.

“I have no idea.”

There was no answer when he rang Shan Mei’s home either. Xiang Zhe was full of questions.

It wasn’t until 4 pm that Shan Mei finally returned the message he left on her voicemail. She was home.
“Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you all afternoon,” Xiang Zhe grumbled grouchily.

“Can’t I even give myself an afternoon off to go shopping? This is the first time I’ve taken any time off since joining Wen Rong!” Shan Mei was miffed.

She had gone shopping, but left him to worry over her all afternoon!
“Of course you can have some time off. Just please don’t turn off your mobile while you’re at it.”

“Well, I turned it off for that investor relations meeting this morning, and forgot to turn it back on…. Hey! Surely you’re not upset at me for that?” Shan Mei started to pout.

“I’m not upset, only very worried about you.”

“Were you really very, very worried?” Shan Mei asked sensuously; Xiang Zhe’s body reacted to the tone in her voice.

“Yes. I was very, very worried.” Xiang Zhe said without a trace of anger.

“Yin Xiang Zhe…”

“What is it?”

“I love you very, very much.”
How he wished he could be beside her when he heard this.

“Little Miss, how dare you tease me like that when you know very well I can’t do anything about it?” Xiang Zhe growled passionately.

Shan Mei flushed at the tone. Just what had she been thinking!

“Why were you looking for me?” Shan Mei changed the subject.

“I wanted to remind you of our dinner date this evening. I’ve made reservations and will pick you up at seven.” Xiang Zhe said hastily.

“Xiang Zhe… I …” Shan Mei hesitated.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m rather tired. I really don’t feel like going out. Let me just make something and we’ll eat at home?”

“…..!” Xiang Zhe’s plans were just completely dashed.
“Alright” he replied gloomily as he hung up.

Oh dear, I’ve made him unhappy! Nevermind, he’ll just have to bear with it for now. I’ll make it up to him later, Shan Mei smiled.

The doorbell wouldn’t stop ringing.
When Shan Mei opened the door, she discovered Xiang Zhe standing there with a rose in hand.
“It’s you?” Shan Mei hurriedly patted her hair.
Xiang Zhe was an hour early. It was only six o’clock.
Darn it, she hadn’t planned for this. She had intended to be fully dressed when he arrived. She had only just finished all her preparations and was about to step in the shower.

“Who else did you think it was going to be?” Xiang Zhe scowled.
He didn’t want her to tire herself out, so decided to come over early to help out. She didn’t look too pleased with that.

Shan Mei smothered a smile when she saw his expression. Surely he couldn’t still be upset with her!
“Yin xiang Zhe, are you upset with me?” Shan Mei cajoled.

He looked at the teasing look in her eyes and his temper evaporated.
“I’m not upset.”

“Are you sure?”


A tiny smile flashed across Shan Mei’s face as she stood on tip toes, reached her arms around his neck, and planted a kiss firmly on his cheek.
“The birthday boy must always be happy, not upset on his birthday.” Shan Mei dazzled him with her smile.

Xiang Zhe’s heart lifted when he heard this.
“You little scallywag, putting on a show like that! I thought you had completely forgotten.” Xiang Zhe smiled in defeat.

“You’re not the only one who is capable of planning surprises.” Shan Mei replied smugly.

When Xiang Zhe stepped into the house, he found that she had decorated the place with flowers- in the living room, next to the sofa, on the table. She even had some balloons taped to the ceiling.

“Don’t tell me this is what you’ve been doing all afternoon?”

“You’ve guessed it!”
She had had a busy afternoon shopping for materials, decorating the house, and then preparing dinner.
“You’re early. There are still some things I haven’t finished.”

“In that case, I’ll leave and come back later.” Xiang Zhe teased.

”Don’t be daft!”

“Are you hungry yet?”

“Not really.”

“In that case, let me change before we have dinner.”

“What’s wrong with what you’re wearing?” Xiang Zhe asked.
She was wearing a white shirt with blue denim jearns, her hair hastily pulled back with a scrunchy, looking very much like the girl next door. She was picture-perfect, and he loved it.

“What’s right about it? I look like something the cat brought in.” Shan Mei dismissed.

“The cat would not be able to find such a lovely thing to bring!”

Shan Mei smiled when she heard.
“No way. You’re dressed like a prince at a ball, and I look like Cinderella after midnight.”
She wanted him to understand how important his birthday was to her.
“Oh…and don’t you touch the food on the table while I’m gone!” Shan Mei instructed as she made her way into her room.

Shan Mei finally appeared again half an hour later. Wearing the dress that Michiko gave her took a lot of courage. She blushed when she looked at herself in the mirror. She had never worn a dress like this before in her life! She wondered how Xiang Zhe would react to it.

“Ahem!” Shan Mei cleared her throat.
Xiang Zhe had lighted candles throughout the house – the hallway, living room and dining room were lit by candles.

“What do you think? It’s pretty good, eh! A candlelight dinner – your favourite sort!”
Xiang Zhe turned and was completely stunned when he saw her. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He couldn’t even blink. His throat was dry, and his heart started to race.

Shan Mei squirmed under his intense gaze. “Do you like it?”

“I like it, I absolutely love it!” Xiang Zhe murmured.

Shan Mei didn’t know whether to laught or cry at his look of utter stupor. “Yin Xiang Zhe! Haven’t you ever seen me before?” she teased.

Xiang Zhe chuckled, “You’re right. I’ve never seen you before looking like this.” His heated gaze swept through her body. He was unable to take his eyes off her.

“What doyou mean “looking like this”? What’s wrong with this?” Shan Mei asked as she unconsciously started to adjust the straps of her dress.

“Do you really want me to spell it out?”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you know that looking this way can be……dangerous?”
Didn’t she know that wearing such a revealing gown would completely mesmerize him? He felt his own temperature rise as he looked at her delectible body wrapped in pink chiffon that barely concealed her sexy curves.

“You…Didn’t you say you were always the gentleman…..” Shan Mei protested.
The heat of Xiang Zhe’s gaze made her tremble, unable to decide even where to place her hands. She started to regret wearing the dress.

“Even though I’m a gentlemen, I’m still a hot blooded man…...”
Shan Mei turned flushed at the words.

Whenever they embraced and whispered sweet nothings, she was aware of the changes in his body, but he was always in control. She had been also aware of this, and held herself in check, trying not to exacerbate the situation.

“In that case…. I think I should change…” Shan Mei said breathlessly.

Xiang Zhe grabbed her with one hand, “Don’t!”

“No.” Shan Mei shook her head.

He curled his arm around her slender waist, “I enjoy looking at you. It’s my birthday today. Can’t you let me have my way?”

“When have I NOT let you have your way?” Shan Mei started to pout.

“Do you really want me to count them all?”

“Oh you!” Shan Mei laughed softly. She knew he was about to complain again about the times she had rejected him when they first met.

“Where did you get this dress?”
She had just had a shower, and he could smell her subtle scent as his lips wandered down her hair, to her ears.

Shan Mei chuckled, “I have no idea where to find stuff like this! It was my farewell present from the girls at the Tokyo office.”

“I see…” Xiang Zhe’s lips twitched, “They certainly know how to show off your best features.” His gaze wandered around her body again.

“Yin Xiang Zhe!” Shan Mei covered his eyes with her hands.

“Alright, alright! I’ll stop looking…..Really! If you flaunt it, you’ve got to expect people to look…” Xiang Zhe teased.

“Look by all means, but don’t drool!”

“Am I drooling?”
Xiang Zhe pulled her tightly into his arms, his lips searching for hers. Shan Mei laughed as she tried to dodge him, and the two of then landed on the sofa.

He finally had his way……
His gentle, exploratory kiss melted Shan Mei’s bones and sent her into tingles of delight. She lay on the sofa, dazed from the sweetness of it.

“Is this to your satisfaction, Miss Zhen Shan Mei?”

“What?” she had been floating in the sea of gentleness, captured by the love in his eyes.

Xiang Zhe hid a smile as he cleared his throat, “I said…am I being enough of a gentleman?”

“Mmm…” Shan Mei’s mood changed, and she giggled, “Just barely, though!”

Xiang Zhe supported his head with his right hand and looked at Shan Mei with laughter in his eyes.

“What are you laughing at?”

“When I kissed you just now, I remembered the story about the princess and the frog…”

“….” She smiled as he went on.

“The kiss from the princess broke the evil spell that had been cast over the frog; Your appearance in my life has given me so much happiness. I never knew that love could be so beautiful…”

“Even if we didn’t meet, I’m sure there would have been someone out there who would bring you happiness.” Shan Mei looked at him and smiled.
His appearance in her life had similarly changed her world. He had brought vitality and beauty into her life.

He looked at her and said with certainty, “You’re the only one for me.”

“Dinner’s up!” Shan Mei said.

Xiang Zhe looked at the appetizers on the able and asked, “Are we having Spanish tonight?”

“Oooh, GM Yin! You know your cuisne well…” Shan Mei was delighted.
She had spent some time searching for the right ingredients so she could prepare parma ham with cantaloupe for appetizers.

After that, Shan Mei uncovered a cast iron pan.
“Seafood Paella!” Xiang Zhe was surprised.
She had prepared the famous Spanish dish, Paella. When she visited Spain with her father a few years earlier, she had fallen in love with the dish.

She used fresh prawns, crab, clams, fish, red peppers and spices; fried the raw rice in olive oil and then cooked it in fish stock; and finally garnished the dish with spring onion, and garlic. The dish had a golden hue and the crispy rice that stuck to the bottom of the pan made it all the more tasty. Of course, she had not yet mastered the secret of making that bit.

“It looks fabulous.” Xiang Zhe said.

“Well, I’ve tried my best.” Shan Mei said.
She had pratised making the dish twice before deciding she was ready to prepare it for Xiang Zhe’s birthday.

“Wait a minute…” Shan Mei stopped Xiang Zhe

“What is it?”

“Have this first.”
Shan Mei picked up the spoon from the bowl of green soup on his left. There were two bowls of soup on the table, one yellow and one green.

“Seaweed soup?”

“That’s right, it’s seaweed soup. Aren’t you supposed to have this on your birthday?” Shan Mei asked.

When she was young, her mother would always prepare seaweed soup for her. However, over the last ten years, it hadn’t been done, and she had forgotten about it. Last month, at Yin Ming Lun’s birthday, she saw Xiang Zhe’s mother prepare it, and remembered the tradition again.

“Does it taste awful?” Shan Mei asked when she saw the funny look on Xiang Zhe’s face.

“No, it’s perfect.” Xiang Zhe replied.
His mother had already prepared seaweed soup for him this morning. He wanted to spend the evening with Shan Mei, and made some excuses not to go home for dinner. His mother had not been pleased. After complaining for half a day, she finally made him some seaweed soup early in the morning and gave it to him for breakfast.

“If that’s the case, why do you have that funny look on your face?”

“I….I’m thinking about how you’re starting to become more and more Korean nowadays!”
She had learnt to make kimchi, and even remembered to make him seaweed soup for his birthday.

“What are you saying!”

“Yum….it’s delicious!”
Xiang Zhe didn’t stop praising the food, from the appetizer to the vegetable soup, to the paella. Shan Mei was delighted. Her hard work over the last two weeks had finally paid off.

“Oh! I forgot one more thing.” Shan Mei took some red juice from the fridge.

“Tomato juice?” Xiang Zhe raised his eyebrows. He had never liked tomato juice, even as a child.

Shan Mei took one look at the expression on Xiang Zhe’s face and laughed. “It’s a Spanish style fruit punch!”

“You mean Sangria?”

“Yes. You know about it?” Shan Mei admired Xiang Zhe’s knowledge.

“When you entertain as much as I do, you become familiar with the more famous foods and drinks in the world.”

“What made you buy this?”

“I read somewhere that the Spanish like to drink Sangria with their paella, so I searched high and low, and finally found a store that was willing to mix it for me.”

“This stuff is pretty potent…”

Sangria is made with red wine, grapefruit juice, brandy, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and blended with apples, pears and grapefruit. It tastes like refreshing fruit juice, but the alchohol content is actually quite high.

“Surely not… I’ve had a taste. It’s a little sweet, a little sour and very delicious.” Shan Mei looked at him in disbelief.

Xiang Zhe laughed. Sangria would be no less potent than Smirnoff Ice. Memories of that night in London when she got drunk floated into his mind.

After dinner, Shan Mei brought out a birthday cake. She lit some candles on it.
“Happy birthday!” She said to him.

“Thank you.”

“I have a present for you.” Shan Mei smiled excitedly.

“You shouldn’t have! You’ve made me dinner. A present as well would be too much.”

“You might regret saying that. I’ve got you a present that money can’t buy.”

When Xiang Zhe saw what it was, he grinned from ear to ear. It was another of her paintings.
This time, she painted the two of them punting on the River Cam. He was standing with punt in hand, while she looked on dressed in white cotton, laughing with her hand over the month.
“Thank you for making sure I’m no longer lonely.” Xiang Zhe said.
She had fulfilled her promised to him that she would paint the two of them together.

“Actually, you don’t have to thank me…” Shan Mei smiled, “I’ve always wanted to go punting with you.”
Shan Mei pushed Xiang Zhe to make a wish. “You’re allowed three wishes on your birthday.” She said.

“If I only make one wish, would it be more likely to come true?” Xiang Zhe asked.

Shan Mei thought about it for a moment. “I’m not sure.”

Xiang Zhe smiled at Shan Mei, then closed his eyes and made his birthday wish.
“Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me.” Xiang Zhe said. It was the best birthday he had ever had.

“Next year, I would like to celebrate your birthday in Provence.”
They had spent her birthday this year on Cheju island watching the sunrise. Her birthday wish had been for a lifetime to be spent with him. It was the most unforgettable birthday she had.


“Yes, I would like for us to go to Provence together.”
The fields would be covered with blue lavender and golden sunflowers. It would be a most romantic destination. How she wished she could wander through fields of wildflowers with him by her side.

Xiang Zhe smiled at her, “Don’t tell me you’re still thinking about the food. Are you planning to take me out to a big dinner while we are there?”

“Ahem! I’m not the glutton around here! Someone once sent me an email asking me to go with him on a gastronomic tour, but it seems he’s forgotten all about it….” Shan Mei rolled her eyes at him.

Xiang Zhe finally remembered.
“That rogue deserves to be punished, but since it’s his birthday today, can you let him off just this once?”

Shan Mei giggled, “I guess I have no choice.”

“You never know. Maybe we might not have to wait until my next birthday to go to Provence!” Xiang Zhe said.

“Is that so?”

“Yes.” Xiang Zhe’s voice was full of innuendo.

Shan Mei buried herself in Xiang Zhe’s arms as they sat listening to music.
The radio was playing Bette Midler’s “The Wind Beneath My Wings”. It was one of her favourite songs. She loved the lyrics:

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings…..

Having fallen in love with Xiang Zhe, she knew that he was the one standing silently beside her giving her courage and strength. She was so lucky to have him.

“Even though we are in the age of technology, I still love the radio best….” Shan Mei said nostalgically. “I don’t have any siblings, and my mother was busy taking care of my grandmother and the rest of the family, so there was no one to play with me. When I was young, the radio was my companion. I used to fall asleep with the radio in my arms, and would get told off by my mother the next day. How unforgettable those days were. There are many songs that have been my constant companions while I was growing up and hold intimate memories and meanings for me, just like “How Deep Is Your Love” holds meaning for you.” Shan Mei said.

“The next song we bring you is Emilia, singing “Big Big World” The DJ announced.

The song started to play…..

I’m a big big girl
In a big big world
It’s not a big big thing if you leave me
But I do do feel that
I too too will miss you much
Miss you much…..

Shan Mei suddenly hugged Xiang Zhe and buried her face in his chest. He thought she was teasing him and smiled and he held her in his arms.

It took a moment before he felt her body shaking.
“What is it? Are you not well?”

Shan Mei shook her head but did not reply.
He tilted her face up and was startled to see tears in her eyes.
“What’s the matter?” He asked.

Shan Mei wiped her tears away. “This song…. The night I left the farewell letter for you, I heard it on my way home and felt it completely described what had been in my heart. As I listened to it, my heart was shattering, and I was in such pain…..”

He took her hand and held it to his heart. Looking deeply into her eyes, he said, “When your heart was in pain, my heart was hurting too.”

“I’m sorry….” Shan Mei’s tears started again.
Xiang Zhe held her tightly, unwilling to let her go for a long time.

The silvery moonlight shone through the window.
“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, will you please dance with me?”

“Yes.” Shan Mei nodded, “For today, your wish is my command.”
She saw laughter shining in his eyes.
“Hey! You’re not allowed to make things difficult for me, though!” She warned.

Xiang Zhe laughed, “My, you’re picky, arent’ you?”

They held each other close as they moved to the rhythm.
“The first time we danced, we were in our pyjamas.” Shan Mei said.
It was the night before they parted in Seoul that they had their first dance together.

“You look really cute in pyjamas.”

“That night, although I was smiling during our dance, my heart had been filled with sadness.”

“I know. You cried that night.”

“I tried so hard to quell my tears, but I did not succeed in the end.”

“I should have stopped you from leaving, no matter what.”

“Thank you for never making things difficult for me.” She laid a kiss on his lips.

Shan Mei suddenly laughed as she danced.

“What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing.” Shan Mei shook her head mischieviously.

“You’d better let it all out!”

“Well…” Shan Mei was uncomfortable, “they said….”

“They? Who are “they”?”

“The girls from the Tokyo office! They … wanted me to tell them …. What you looked like when you saw me in that dress…”

“Oh..” Xiang Zhe chuckled, amused. “And what you do intend to tell them?”

“Do you think I should tell them you were completely smitten?” She asked.

“I have no objections.” Xiang Zhe said.

“You….!” Shan Mei punched him lightly. There was no way she was going to tell this to anyone else.

“Shan Mei…”


“Can you…will you… please not wear this dress out anywhere…”

“Huh?” Shan Mei looked at him, puzzled.

“I…. I mean…I’d be worried.” Xiang Zhe’s face was full of worry and jealousy.

Shan Mei threw herself into his arms and laughed.

“Hey, you just said that my wish was your command!”

“You chauvinist pig!”
There was no way she was going to wear that dress anywhere, anyway.

She shut her eyes as the music played, as his lips wandered, as he whispered sweet nothings; engulfed in his scent, reveling in the sweetness of the moment. She was so happy, she could cry. How she wished time would stand still so she could enjoy the feeling forever.
“I’ve been really good today, haven’t i?” Shan Mei asked.

“If only you could be so nice to me every day.” Xiang Zhe replied as he kissed the tip of her nose.

“Aren’t you asking for too much?”

“I bought you something when I was in New York.” Xiang Zhe said.

“What is it?”

Xiang Zhe took out a jewellery box from Tiffany’s.

She looked at him expectantly.

“Will you please marry me?” Xiang Zhe asked as he looked deeply into her eyes.

That night, she accepted his proposal in tears of happiness, without hesitation, without any trace of surprise. Xiang Zhe was delighted. His birthday wish had just been granted.

Over the Christmas period, Wen Rong announced that Xiang Zhe would take over the helm of the conglomerate as their CEO, and announced the engagement of Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei at the same time. The next day, Wen Rong held a press conference.

During the conference, there was more interest in their love affair than in Xiang Zhe’s appointment as CEO. Other than a few opening questions about Xiang Zhe’s appointment, almost all other questions were directed around the circumstances of their relationship.

“It seems you’ve all turned into reporters for the society pages today!” Xiang Zhe joked.
Wen Rong’s press conference had been directed at the financial press, but the majority of reporters attending were from the paparazzi.

“With Mr Yin’s track record, we believe Wen Rong will do well with you at the helm” A reporter who was familiary with Xiang Zhe replied.

“Thank you for your confidence, Mr Lee! I hope you will report on Wen Rong favourably in the future.”

“Don’t you worry. Once we wrap up this press conference, I intend to go out and buy a few of your company’s shares as a token of my support!.... Mr Yin, congratulations on your appointment, and on your imminent marriage. I’ve just heard that there’s something else we should be congratulating you on.!”

“Mr Lee, it seems you have very good sources!” Xiang Zhe smiled broadly. He had only just heard the news himself, and had not even told Shan Mei yet.

The room was suddenly abuzz with people trying to learn it. Xiang Zhe had been nominated to the title of Asian Star of the Year by the Financial Business Review. Two other prominent Asian Businessmen were nominated for the title with him.

“I’m really very lucky. The other two nominees are infinitely more worthy.” Xiang Zhe said modestly.

“Mr Yin, you’re too kind. With three awards in the pocket, you must be in a good mood. Why don’t we talk about something less serious?”

Under pressure from the crowd, Xiang Zhe finally invited Shan Mei, who was sitting in the distance, onto the stage.

“Mr Yin, will you hold this conference the way you always do: Answer everything that you know, and hold nothing back?” A reporter from the Seoul Daily asked.

Xiang Zhe was feeling very relaxed and happy. He looked at Shan Mei before replying, “I will answer any question that Miss Zhen does not object to.”

“Mr Yin, can you please tell us what you find most attractive about Miss Zhen?”

“Ummm….. Everything about her is attractive to me.”
The audience laughed.

“In that case, what about her gives you the most trouble? Can you be a little more specific this time?” A lady reporter pursued the matter a little more.

“She…. She knows her own mind and sticks to her principals…”

“Do you mean she’s got you under her thumb?” The lady reporter would not let up. The audience erupted in gales of laughter.

“I didn’t say that!” Xiang Zhe wagged his finger.
“Miss Kim, please don’t get me into trouble with my fiancé!” Xiang Zhe said, laughingly.

“Mr Yin, how long have you known Miss Zhen for?”

“We’ve known each other for a very long time. It was love at first sight for me.” Xiang Zhe said. She had been in his heart ever since he had seen her photograph.

“I heard that Mr Yin had to fly over to Tokyo every weekend when he was courting. Is this true?”

Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei with a twinkle in his eye, “Yes, that’s true! It was hard on me. It took a lot of effort before I could move her…”
Xiang Zhe’s answer had everyone doubled up in laughter.
His press conferences were usually serious affairs, and the public had never seen this casual, humourous side of him before.

“You’re very quiet today, Miss Zhen Shan Mei. Not at all like when you were working with Wen Rong. Why don’t you say something?”
Shan Mei was very shy on stage, and let Xiang Zhe answer all the questions.

“Uhhh….” Shan Mei laughed uncomfortably. She found it very embarrassing to discuss her relationship with Xiang Zhe in public.

“Please don’t give her a hard time.” Xiang Zhe came to her defence, “She’s may be very articulate at investor relations conferences, but she’s actually a very shy person. Even after knowing her for so long, she still blushes at every little thing with me…”

“Mr Yin, you’re over protective. You should let the bride sad something, if only to satisfy our curiousity!”
Xiang Zhe smiled at Shan Mei. She nodded.

“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, what do you admire most about Mr Yin?”

Shan Mei flushed, even before she opened her mouth. “I… I really admire his determination and tenacity.”

“Does this include the determination and tenacity with which he pursued you?”

“…..” Shan Mei blushed in admission.

“Miss Zhen Shan Mei, what is the most memorable incident during your time with Mr Yin?”

“Umm…” Shan Mei thought for a moment before replying, “Once, when I was late for a meeting, he gave me a dressing down in front of everyone, and I was almost in tears……”

“Oh! So Mr Yin did not know how to be gentle with a lady. No wonder he had to work so hard at winning you afterwards…” They were now starting to tease Xiang Zhe.

“Mr Yin, since Mis Zhen just told us about her most memorable incident, why don’t you tell us yours?”

Xiang Zhe flashed his teeth, “I was cold-heartedly rejected in the street…. Hey! Are you guys trying to break us up? You’re making us dig up past sins.” Xiang Zhe grumbled.

“When did you first kiss?”

“Ah!” The eloquent Xiang Zhe was lost for words, his expression uncomfortable.
“Well….” Xiang Zhe gently patted Shan Mei and asked, “Can I answer this question?”
Shan Mei looked down, completely embarrassed.
They were suddenly accosted by flashes from cameras trying to capture the moment.
“I’m sorry everyone, Miss Zhen does not permit me to answer that question.”

“Why is it that Miss Zhen has moved on to work for Moody’s, even as Mr Yin has returned to take the helm of the family company?”

“Could it be because Moody’s pays better?..” Xiang Zhe glanced at Shan Mei and smiled. “Miss Zhen is an outstanding analyst. I’m sure she will be a great asset to the Financial Industry. It would be a waste of her talent to keep her in Wen Rong.”

“Mr Yin is indeed considerate…” the lady reporter said in admiration.

“Thank you for your compliment!”

“People say that behind every successful man is a silently supportive woman. To date, the women in the Yin family have all been in the shadow of their husbands, holding the fort and looking after the family, supporting them. What does your family think of Miss Zhen’s intention to stand at the forefront?”

“My family and I are proud of Shan Mei. I believe that she would be able to handle both career and family well…. Thank you everyone, shall we call it a day?”

“Mr Yin, Mr Yin, have you set a date for the wedding?”

“Not yet, but I’m hoping it wil be sonner rather than later, if my fiancé has no objections.” Xiang Zhe looked at Shan Mei with a twinkle in his eye.

“One last question: Have you planned a destination for your honeymoon?”

“We haven’t yet discussed this.”

“Is there anywhere in particular you would like to go?”

“Provence and London.” Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei replied in unison.

Xiang Zhe took Shan Mei’s hand in delight. Their hearts were in unison. He wanted to take her to Provence to enjoy the flowers and punting on the Rive Cam.

After the press conference, Xiang Zhe drove Shan Mei to inspect the renovations at their new home.

They had a beautiful little garden where Shan Mei could grow her flowers. Xiang Zhe intended to help her grow a beautiful and fragrant garden.

Shan Mei was unusually quiet on the way.
“A penny for your thoughts? Or aren’t you talking to me any more?” Xiang Zhe teased.

“I was thinking about what you said just now. You make me sound so perfect, I’m afraid I might disappoint you….”

“You won’t” Xiang Zhe stopped the car by the side of the road.

“How can you be so confident of that?”

“Of course I can.”


“Because you love me….love can make a lot of things happen, even if they are difficult to achieve.” The love in his eyes moved her.

“That’s right, I love you very, very much.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, “I will try my best never to disappoint you.”
She intended to be a good wife and an asset to the Yin family.

“All you have to do is remember that you are my life companion, my soulmate, my one and only love. And that will be enough for me.”

On the fifteenth of February the following year, they got married. They chose the anniversary of the date they met to start a new chapter in their lives together.

“The flowers in Provence wont’ be blooming, and the River Cam would be very cold.” Xiang Zhe told her. He didn’t want her to be disappointed.

“All I need is you.” She told him.

He remembered the day of the wedding. The press had a field day, but the headline that most took his fancy said, “The Head of Moody’s branch office settles for Wen Rong’s COO”.

“This implies you’re superior to me…” Xiang Zhe smiled.

“Surely you don’t feel insulted by it?” she teased.

“Of course not! It’s true!”

“Are you sure about that?” She asked him.

“Absolutely.” Xiang Zhe hugged his beautiful wife tightly.

In his eyes, she was an angel that was sent from heaven to save him, and bring light to his life. Everything had been arranged right from the beginning. Two years ago, on that night when he tried to pick her up on the street, Cupid had already pierced his heart.

****End of Story****




Note from the author, Jennifer:

Dear sisters of AAE Village,

Ai Xiang Sui bids farewell to you all here…..perhaps you may have already guessed by now!
I am very, very reluctant to do so, and will miss my weekly meeting with you. [Translator’s note: Jennifer posts her stories very Sunday night without fail, and will let everyone know in advance if she has to miss a date] I will also miss my beloved Xiang Zhe and Shan Mei.

While writing this story, the last episode of AAE comes to mind, where Shan Mei hosted her last morning show, then faced Xiang Zhe with an unwilling heart.

When Xiang Zhe took Shan Mei home, he asked, “Are you happy?”
Shan Mei replied, “Yes, And what about you, Xue Zhang? Xue Zhang…. Are you happy?”

Similarly, I say the same thing as Shan Mei “I am very happy! What about all of you? Are you happy?”
I thank you all for sharing this happy segment of my time.

I feel bad that I have only replied a few times to all of your encouragement. Please know that I treasure your every word, and keep them in my memories.

Farewell, and take care.