He carefully takes his seat in the same carriage as she is while keeping enough distance from her, following her quietly behind the way he’s been doing in the past three months. He knew he should’ve came sooner for her, he should’ve look for her harder—he should have never left her in the first place.
Her words earlier ware short but packed with agonizing message that struck him to his weakest point. Kyuhyun has been replaying her words in his mind several times this evening during the train ride, “You always have this insecurity of being less of a man than he was towards me, you’re right Kyuhyun-ssi. At least when he left me, he didn’t have any other choice.”
Kyuhyun never tried to defense himself for what he did and he will never try to, his act of abandonment to her was beyond cruel and Eungi didn’t deserve any of that. But at the same time he wants her to know what happened. He only wants her to understand that what he did that day had nothing to do with her at all, that everything was completely his lack of ability to cope with sudden responsibility that dropped on his shoulders.
He observes for her from afar, Cha Eungi is now nodding off a little bit to the big train window on her right, bumping her head a few times until she tries to find another comfortable position before she continues closing her eyes. Deep inside, he wants to move his seat next to her and lend his shoulder for her to lean on, he wants to wrap his arm around her and takes her close in his embrace then never let her go. But he’s aware on how unforgivable his deed was and he didn’t even dare to ask for her forgiveness—he knew he doesn’t deserve that form of kindness from that woman.
Kyuhyun looks away from Eungi and stares into the darkness that pass by from the window beside him. His day dream takes him back to the night when their love was tested to its limit, the night when a simple walk to a restaurant turned into a night the changed his life.
He came down from his rented apartment to the main lobby of the apartment, he doesn’t mind to do chores for her as long as Eungi feels safe and Kyuhyun knows the safest place for her at the moment is in their room—so he gladly did his job on being her delivery man every now and then. He was just about to bust out the main door when a lady called his name. He turned around to look for the source of the voice and spotted his step mother sitting on the waiting area prepared in the lobby. He never liked the way she treated him or the way she dressed at all—she’s trying too hard to put all of their wealth onto her body—but tonight her attire was surprisingly subtle and the only off thing from her appearance is the shades she was wearing in the dark night time, which was ridiculous for anyone with a dab of fashion sense.
“What are you doing here, oemoni?” He hid his surprise by acted cold towards her.
“I’m the one that should ask you that question.” She pointed to the chair in front of her, demanded her step son to sit.
He obeyed and took his seat, “What honor do I have? You flew a thousand miles to see me, is appa here too?”
“Your father had a stroke two days ago.” She took off her shades and for once Kyuhyun understood why she’s wearing that thing, her eyes are swollen and she used the shades to cover her teary eyes.
“Ne? Why you didn’t tell me sooner?” He’s taken aback by the bad news. Although he grew up in a broken family, his father is still the one he looks up to and the only blood related family that he still has.
“You never answered my call!” She snapped at him. “So I figured, I’ll just go to your apartment to drag you to see him but it’s empty. Your credit card bills told me that you’re in Paris, in this place, so in the haze of my anxiety I just bought a plane ticket here to pick you up.”
“Will he be okay?” He’s more worried about his father than about how she found him here. “Shall I return home?”
“He survived, but it began this chaos in the university.” The madam wiped her tears before she continued, “You know how many people are actually trying to roll him down from his throne, this incident seemed to be the perfect time to do that and some of the shareholders are pulling out of their assets from us.”
Kyuhyun chuckles and smirk cynically, “Wow, you’re really not trying to chitchat for a little bit, do you? So you’re here to tell me to fix that?”
“You’re the only one who can do it.”
“HOW?!” He slammed the table, “Those people have been waiting all their life for this moment and in case you haven’t notice, none of them actually took me into account. I’m this owner son that’s always excel at failing in my studies, what do you expect from me oemoni?”
“GROW UP!” She shrieked at him. “I EXPECT YOU TO GROW UP KYUHYUN-A!” Another tears fell from her eyes.
Kyuhyun formed a fist on the table, trying so hard not to snap back at his step mother. “I’m busy taking care of other thing at the moment.”
She scoffed and stared him down with the most sarcastic look she had, “You’re busy doing your own professor here and you chose her over your own family?”
“Shut up! She’s more of a family than you ever were.”
“Go ahead then, get busy with her and I’d like to see what good that’ll bring you in the future.”
“Shut up oemoni.”
“You’ve been messing around all your life and this is actually the most bizarre one since you dared to sleep with your own lecture. Oh lord Kyuhyun-a, how great do you think you are? You have nothing compare to her—and I looked for her archives, wow what a lady you have there.”
Kyuhyun usually will find some words to counter his step mother’s words, but this time he was speechless.
“If your father doesn’t survive his recovery, all we have now will be gone Kyuhyun-a. You will no longer able to take her around in your fancy car, take her out for a holiday in Europe like this and I doubt you’ll be able to buy her a decent dinner. You’re here because of your father’s hard work and you owe him that! because you-have-nothing.”
He was in a bad mood all day, but her words have been a wakeup call for him. It’s true what she said, if it weren’t for his father’s money, Kyuhyun would be penniless and broke. He has no job and has no skill that’s able to help him earn some money, he continuously failing his studies and nobody took him seriously—nobody but Cha Eungi.
“I looked up for that professor you’re sleeping with.” She added to throw in more fuel into his already lit emotion, “her achievements are great and I bet if you continue on dating her while ignoring your own family to the point we lost our assets, she’ll be the one that’s supporting your life. Ha! That’s expected from you though, I mean what can you do to top her anyway? The fact that she wants to go out with you already puzzled me but come on!”
“DON’T YOU THINK I’M AWARE OF IT?!!” He got up from his seat to slammed the table between them.
He knew, he completely aware of his lack of competence over his great girlfriend. He was already very insecure about that fact and the last thing he needs right now is to picture how their future would be like if he continues on lacking. He wanted to be her man—the one that supports her emotionally, passionately and financially, he wanted Eungi to look at him proudly, he wanted to beat all of her men before him and showed her that he’s the best one for her in the whole universe. But how could he be all that if he couldn’t even believe in himself?
“So why don’t you grow up and take over? Show those people that our family still have one heir to hold on to the family business, prove them that you’re not just a lazy son that busy messing up with girls. Show that noona that you’re worth something more than just being a spoiled brat that knows how to spend his father’s money.”
He clenched his jaw to suppress his anger, “And what would I do if I return, huh? Takeover you said?” He laughs cynically, “None of them believe me, why would they let me take over?”
“Because we hold 70 percent of the stock so we can dominate more. If I can do it myself without you, I would Kyuhyun-a. why would I waste my time to pick you up in Paris instead of waiting for my dear husband in his sick bed. if I can turn things around with my power, I would, but I’m just a mere second wife and I don’t have any power in the campus board—but you do. I just ask you not to let your father’s hard work vanish only because you refuse to fight for him.”
“I don’t refuse to fight for him, oemoni.” He replies calmly, “But I don’t have any power to do the battle. And Eungi—the woman you revered to has a name oemoni—she needs me. She needs me to help her to finish her hardship here and I can’t force her to return to Seoul if she’s not done with her business.”
“Then let her stay here, you come home with me to see your father and talk to the boards and after you’re done you can come and pick her up.”
“It’s not that simple and there’s no way I’d leave her alone here. If I come home, she needs to come with me.”
“Fine, ask her then. If she’s cares about you at all she’d understand and she’ll come home with you to support you. I’ll take the earliest flight to Incheon next morning at 10 A.M, I prepared a ticket for you,” She took something out of her purse and slides the ticket across the table. “Take her with you if you must, and if you want me to beg you to come home, I will Kyuhyun-a. I will swallow my pride to save your father.” Another tears fell from her eyes.
His step mother left him to ponder on their discussion. Kyuhyun’s head was already full of doubtful speculation over his experience that day with Eungi, he’s been feeling like crap the whole day and the last thing he needed was the bad news about his father. To top it, not just his father’s life that’s being threaten at that moment but also his assets and his hard work that he built from ground zero. He hated it when his step mother was right, he couldn’t just let it all goes down the drain—not before he fights for it.
Kyuhyun remembered his main reason to get out from their apartment that night, so he continued to think while walking towards the restaurant. Would it be too much to ask Eungi to end her misery here and take her to Seoul with him? He promised to give her all the time she needed and he’s afraid Eungi would feel rushed if he asks them to go home. In the other hand, Kyuhyun believed that his woman would completely understand his reason and she’ll support him the way he supported her. So with that thought in mind, he went back to their apartment to kindly asked her to go home with him.
She was seating on the couch with her head leaned back to the backrest while her fingers were still placed on top of her laptop, seemed like she nodded off while working on something. He smiled bitterly before he removed the laptop away from her to carried her to the bed. Eungi mumbles in her sleep a little bit and her cute frowning face cheered his troubled heart a little bit. He put her on the bed then covered her with the blanket and softly landed a kiss on her lips to bid his woman goodnight. He figured he’d skip the earliest flight with his mother tomorrow because he’d need to explain to Eungi first in the morning. If she’s okay with his idea, they could take the afternoon flight on the same day anyway.
He walked back to the couch to turned off her laptop but the last window she opened displayed in front of him, he took a quick glance over it and realized that it’s actually her draft for her book. Kyuhyun bargained in his mind on how rude it would be for him to read what she prepared, he knew it’s an invasion of privacy but at the same time his curiosity won over his conscious mind.
He would forever regret that decision he made when he scrolled up to begin reading her first draft.
“This is not a love story to begin with, but it involves the greatest man I ever loved besides my own father. This story is meant to be a reminder to myself on how much I was loved and how easy it was back then to fell in love with the man that had sacrificed so much for me.
Our story began when we met each other in a conference, at the time I was one of the speaker and he was a curator to some of the arts involved in the conference. I was having a problem with my missing slide and he came towards me to help decoded the locked file so I didn’t have to re-write my whole presentation anymore. My speech went well and he greeted me again after I went down from the stage, he said my speech was moving and he didn’t think his hobby contributed so much to the matter I care the most in the world which is sustainability.
I thanked him for his praise and also thanked him for his previous help to saved my file and he charmingly asked me to go for a dinner with him in return. I was charmed by his politeness, by his manner but mostly by his beautiful smile, how could I say ‘no’ to such an amazing person that already helped me earlier.
We talked so much during out first dinner, we chatted as if it wasn’t our first meeting since we hit it off in the first try, then we stayed to be the last guest in the restaurant, but then our talks haven’t finished yet since we both still had a lot to talk to. That night we decided to hang out in a park until the sun rises before he took me back safely to my hotel.
Since then, he never left my side no matter how busy our schedules were, we were living separately back then because i was just finished my Doctoral in Copenhagen while ran his gallery in Milan. We tried to compromised with each other by giving up any career that demanded us to be tied down to one place and took opportunities from any kind of conference and exhibition instead. It was like a daring adventure that I had with him, we would move from one city to another with our suitcases in his trunk, he’d help me with my research and I’d help him reviewed the arts he needed to curate to. It didn’t matter for us the fact that we never stayed long enough in one place since our motto back then was: my home is where my suitcase is, as long as you’re here with me, I know I’m home.
Just like any normal couple, we would fight and hurt each other along the way but because we only have each other by our side, we made peace quite fast compare to most couple. I just had to cook him his favorite meal if I was the one that was at fault and he only needed to take me out for ice cream then embrace me in his arm when it’s his turn to make a mess.
We knew each other’s flaw but we chose to look upon the things that made us fell in love in the first place.
I love him for the way he gently treated me no matter what kind of tantrum I throw at him, I love him for being able to support me during some hard times I had to face when we were together, I love him for his tender touch that translates his kindness, I love him for his presence, I love him for his beauty, but most of all I love him for his heart.
I like the fact that he could be silly and act childlike whenever we’re not talking about our professional matter. He’s the kind of man that looked perfect in professional suit but looked so adorable with his t-shirt and jeans. There’s one thing that we always talked about with each other, that one day we settle down in one place for real. We dreamt of how our great our house would look like since I’m the one that’ll design it and he said he’ll stack our home with beautiful arts so that our home would be feature in international magazines. To perfect the ambience in our imaginary future home, we always thought of adopting two dogs since we have a similar interest upon two particular breeds, so we planned to name our dogs Sherlock and Watson if we got them one day.
People around us would say that we’re the power couple because I hold a great reputation in environmental studies while he’s also one of the well-known curator across Europe and one of the people that hold a great degree in his field. Because of that reason, most people would think that our relationship was full of heavy discussions and research while in fact we spent most of our free time to be couch potatoes watching our favorite show on back-to-back rerun.
In our free time, we liked to do some adventure across Europe—where we were staying at the time—with his car. He knew how much I cared about the environment but he said “this is the only thing I couldn’t give up for you” when he revered to his Audi. I learned to love his hobby also when he first took me for a drag across the French Alps and soon enough those V8 engines became my guilty pleasure towards my own fight for environmental purpose. But I didn’t care, as long as I could see his delighted expression when he’s behind the wheel as he proudly grinning towards me, enjoying my staggered expression from the speed.
From the first time I met him, I knew he’s the kind of person that would do anything in his power to help anyone in need. He was the gentleman that would throw himself into the fire just to safe some kitten and I knew he will feel restless if her thinks he didn’t do enough to help others. Back then I was so enchanted by this value that he had, I never thought it’d backfire one day in the most horrible way.
So in one of our days travelling Europe in his car, we decided to took a rest in the nearest city which was happened to be Paris. He and I both shared same interest in the Art Nouveau movement that can be seen throughout the city so we stayed longer in order to explore it all on foot like a real traveler.
I didn’t have any idea that he actually planned to stop by in the city to proceed with his grand plan to surprise me.
On November 13th 2015, he took me on a romantic picnic across the river Seine and ended our tour by sitting in front of the famous Eiffel Tower. We talked and talked, oh boy I don’t know how much we’ve talked to each other but seemed like the topics never run out of our minds. It was effortless and comforting to have a special someone that allowed you to be yourself and accepted you for who you are, and he was that person for me. Once again he charmed me with his knowledge of the city and its condition during the World War, he enchanted me with his talk about the buildings that surround us, and when I least expected it he asked me to marry him.
I thought he’d be the kind of man that’d go down on his knees when he proposes, I thought he would prepare all speech about how important I am in his life as a prolog before he reveal the ring, but her surprised me one more time. He didn’t do any of those classic gesture when he asked the important question, in fact we were sitting on the grass with wine in our hands and he didn’t even try to make any speech at all.
I remember every detail in that moment; the color of his shirt, the wine that we had, the sun’s position when he nonchalantly said “Eungi-ya, don’t you think it’s about time for us to really build our dream home? Remember that sustainable home you plan to build that I would fill with gorgeous arts inside? Complete with our two dogs—Sherlock and Watson?”
I didn’t really understand what he meant by then but I smiled because I wanted our dream to become reality. He’s the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and without any doubt, I would follow this man wherever he’d take me.
“If you’re okay with it, I’d like to take you to our next journey. But this time we’re no longer living out of our suitcases, I want to build that home with you and if you allow me to, I’d like to be the man that stays by your side for the rest of our life in the dream home we built.” He paused for a little bit, gathering his remaining courage to say the most important question, “Cha Eungi, will you marry me and make me that man whom you could grow old with?”
I remembered how joyful I was that time. I am a girl that grew up alone without a support of a family, so the idea of building a new family with the man that I love was beyond exiting for me. It took less than a second for me to give him my answer—yes.
Of course I would say ‘yes’. He’s the man of my dream and moreover he’s the first man I ever loved. I fell helplessly in his charm since the first day I met him and he never bore me once during our dating time. He was the kind of person that I could cooperate to make a grand plan with but at the same time impulsive enough to made our life more interesting. The moment he asked the question was the moment I was certain that my life would never be lonely anymore and that I didn’t have to worry about feeling bored or restless because I got the right man to spend the rest of my life with.
I remember he slipped the ring into my finger with his shaky hands, he acted so cool about it but I saw through the nervousness in his eyes and it only made him looked more adorable in my eyes. He gave me one of the sweetest kiss any girl could ever receive, a kiss that translates his fluttering heart, a kiss that meant to be remember for a life time.
Heaven took him away from me hours later.
In one day, I had the best day of my life and the worst one compiled as one. I don’t know how many times I cursed to the sky and questioning my own fate that seemed to be too cruel for me to handle, and this is my way to cope with my grief.
This book is not a love story but I wrote it to honor to the man that I love so dearly. The man that deserved more recognition besides being the fallen victim of the selfish propaganda, the man that never cease to amaze me to his last moment, the man that fought for me to his last dying breath, and the man that managed to give me his sweetest smile before he bid his farewell for the last time.
This is for Choi Siwon.”
Kyuhyun’s heart was torn apart just by reading the introduction part of her draft and he slammed the laptop shut with tears on his eyes. He knew that man was special for her but he never though he had that great figure to compete with. The way Eungi wrote about Siwon told Kyuhyun how much she’s still having a hard time to let go and how special their relationship actually was.
He was this useless man that can’t even provide himself with proper food without the luxury he got from his father—which now recovering from his stroke, and Siwon in the other hand was the exact opposite of him. Siwon was accomplished, he was smart and kind, and he didn’t need much effort to steal her heart.
At first he had doubt but now his wrath has taken over, he no longer could think clearly and the only thought he had in his head was “She wouldn’t miss me if I leave since I never made that much impact in her life anyway.”
He wiped the tears on his face but no matter how hard he tried to pretend that he was fine, his tears kept on falling. He didn’t know that having his heart broken innocently by the woman that he loves would be this excruciating. Kyuhyun tried his best to catch his breath and keep quiet so he wouldn’t wake her from her peaceful sleep, this was too much for him to bear in one day. He had to witness the love of his life broken down earlier today from her own memory over her lover, he had to get a bad news about his father and had that degrading talk with his step mother that somehow was right when she said how incompetence he was compare to Eungi, it only took him one last blow to break him down and it came in the form of her written memories of her great man.
Kyuhyun’s mind went blank at once and he was like a person that has no control over his own body when he gets to the cupboard to take all of his travel documents, in his mind, he could just leave her for a while and he could return the next day without thinking of the time and distance it’d took him to do all those. He did his best effort to calm himself down to give her another goodnight kiss before he left and he promised he’ll call her the next morning to tell her about his sudden plan.
He was too neurotic to remember that he lost his phone and all of her contact numbers are in it, he forgotten the fact that he could write on a note, and he couldn’t wake her up because he didn’t want her to see him in his chaotic stage.
So Kyuhyun left that night, he got himself to the airport pretty soon and his step mother were already waiting for him to brought him back home. He followed all immigration procedure and just came along with his step mother into the plane. Only then he regained his senses, he remembered he couldn’t contact her without his phone and that he didn’t leave any notes for her or bid any farewell to Eungi. Kyuhyun imagined how worry she’d get if she woke up and couldn’t find him and he suddenly got a clear picture how torn apart she’d be once she realized he’s gone without a message.
The stewardess was about to close the door when he created a ruckus, he frantically begged to be let out of the plane while he kept saying “I forgot something so I need to get out.” He was finally let out of the plane but had to face intense interrogation with the airport police for his odd behavior right before the plane was ready for taxi.
He was finally released after the police didn’t find anything wrong with his document and because he didn’t carry anything with him. Kyuhyun quickly got his way back to their apartment and arrived there past noon.
The moment he entered their room is the moment he knew that Cha Eungi has left. The place was too quiet and the untouched take out on the table told him that Eungi didn’t had her breakfast nor lunch and the lack of her luggage from the cupboard told him that she left. But what broke his heart the most is the condition of his stuff that was all outside his luggage, Cha Eungi must have spent some time to searched for his important document before she concluded about his leaving.
Kyuhyun is still starring into the darkness from his window while paying attention to Eungi from distance still. This is what he’s been doing lately, being her shadow without she even realizing it. When she left, Kyuhun did all he could to find her while he was still busy holding on into the family business back in Seoul. Kyuhyun first tried to track her down from her passport but Eungi never left EU so there was no record in immigration about her leaving the country. He hired a detective to track her down using whatever cause possible and the detective he hired gave up after he couldn’t find her trace even after he track down her credit card usage—apparently Eungi avoided using all sort of payment that could be track down.
The early three months were the time when Kyuhyun felt like he needed 48 hours in a day, he had to divide his time to finish his study in order to graduate within a year, therefore he can begin to take over his father’s business and he can keep his words to Eungi.
Kyuhyun was relieved when the detective he hired told him that Eungi got out of the EU from Vienna airport and got her passport stamped in Edinburgh. The fact that his woman is still breathing was already a blessing for him but it wasn’t enough, he needed to see her for himself so he got into a plane a flew to Edinburgh to find her—but until his last days there, Kyuhyun hasn’t manage to spot Eungi for once.
His hope on finding her retuned when the detective told him that Cha Eungi has return to Seoul and she’s back to her home in Mapo-gu. He was busy with his research on Japanese traditional houses back then and only managed to return to Seoul a week after, when he rang her bell Cha Eungi was no longer in there.
He refused to give up and he got a little hope when one day he randomly typed in her name into the search engine and found it listed under the 2017 post-doctoral in Delft University in the Nederland. Kyuhyun cheered for her in the inside for succeeding to accomplished her dream of continuing a post-grad and he begin to set a new goal for himself—to get a master degree where she’s studying.
So here he is now, following her in the past three month without even having a courage to stop her and talk to her. He would hide whenever he spotted Eungi in their campus because he didn’t know what to say to her, he’s not sure if he deserved a chance to even talk to her.
However, today is a different case. He knows from the news that Eungi will do her book reading in Paris today. He cursed to himself for her bad luck with the city and he braced himself to go after her and follow to the city she terrified the most. He has to be there for her just in case she’d broken down, he knows she didn’t need him but he stayed on stand-by in case anything bad happen, and he wanted to be there for her for moral support.
Their story is never over for him, although he knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance from the woman that he loves, he still tries to complete his broken vow he once declared to her—to stay by her side no matter what.