“Well, I’ll be damned...”

( ( Chapter 2 ) )


Hyori turned about to find Jiwon’s sister twirling around in her dress. “Yes, darling?”

“Look!” the girl cried, still dancing. “Look at how pretty my dress is!”

“Yes, it’s very beautiful.”

“What is this?” Jiwon asked, sneaking up behind the two.

“Jiwon!” Hyori gasped, startled to see the handsome man beside her.

“Oppa!” Jeejee squealed.

“Another one of Hyori’s many surprises?” He looked at Hyori. “You’re teaching dance?”

“No!” Color bathing Hyori’s face. “You know I don’t dance.”

“Sir!” Jaejin, one of the men on Jiwon’s ship, interrupted. “The men are ready,” he announced, his skin gleaming with sweat.

Jeejee stopped dancing. “Oppa, you’re attacking again?”

“Hyori, bring her in. Keep her out of trouble. I’ll be gone for a while,” Jiwon informed, leaving with Jaejin.

“Be careful!” Hyori shouted, tugging Jeejee along.

Jiwon waved and descended to the lower level of his ship. He had planned on raiding a grand vessel. It was a bad one. He heard of a scam and was glad he caught it just in time. He jumped down into a smaller boat and stood at the end as his men rowed away, casting out in the vast ocean waters.

He raised a hand over his eyes to provide a shade for them from the glaring sun. It would take a while before they reach their destination. Jiwon took a seat and let the bright, radiant light fry him good and crispy.

( ( ~°~°~°~°~°~ ) )

Min carefully wrapped the bandage around the chest, cautious of leaving any hints. She neatly tightened it with every bound and tucked in the end piece delicately.

She recovered herself and readjusted the collar of her shirt, straightening her back so she would appear to be a boy. Her father’s faith and pride was all on and in her. She had to be careful if she wanted to help her father regain his freedom and power.

She ran her fingers through the short, choppy, messy hair and sighed. Why couldn’t she be a real boy? It was just too dangerous being a girl and disclose her false self by becoming a boy to ward off troubles. She looked at her hands and frowned. No matter how much time she spends under the sun, her skin still looks pale and milky. Sometimes olive and ivory. Whichever didn’t matter. She was still in danger. When she was growing up, those features of a girl would be ignored or neglected. The high-pitched, cracking voices, squeals and shrieks, the paleness and childish boy silliness...it all came in the children’s package. But as of now, being seventeen, she started growing. In the hot summer, she had to confine herself in long sleeve, but cool shirts to hide her bosoms and the soft whiteness of her arms. To make it even embarrassing! She doesn’t have what it takes to be a man!

She had seen cabinboys at the age of fourteen and she saw nasty facial hair sprouting all over them. Hairs under arms and on the arms and legs...she was doomed for. She was sure she would be discovered soon. Good thing her father kept her beside him every second, every minute, or else...somebody would have found out already.

She patted the soft leather boots and eyed the left one in particular. Her father’s knife was hidden there and she gave it a last observing stare before going to the door. She jerked the door open and to her terror, her father’s betrayer and tormentor stood at the other end, waiting for her royal appearance.

A short, stumpy man, he was. Dirty and dark. Nothing about him was good, she didn’t know what her father saw in this guck. Now she was sure he regretted everything he had confided in with this traitor.

“How ya doin’, Min?” he drawled.

“Better than you,” she spat.

“Really? How can you when your father’s locked up and I have power?” he sneered.

“Easy. Number one, I’m Kwon Min. I’m better than you and you know it. Number two, don’t forget that my father bought you off that slave ship. Number three, Yoonshi’s not dead yet. And number four...” her voice trailed off. She drew to a stop to add suspense to her fourth and final point.

“What?” he growled impatiently.

“Kwon Min’s not dead and watch. I will vow vengeance!”

Kyungchi doubled over with laughter. The cackling sounded annoyingly painful to her ears and she stormed away, anxious to get away from him. But he was quicker. He stretched out a leg and tripped the irritated boy.

Min quickly scrambled to her feet and realized her mistake. Kyungchi grabbed her arms and flung her to the other end of the hallway. She landed on her side with a loud thud, back to the front of her door.

“Think you’re smart? You’re nothing with your shithead father!” Kyungchi snarled, bearing his yellow teeth.

Min shrank back. Halitosis punched her nose as Kyungchi continued to breathe in her face. She tried to pushing him away, but it was useless. He cornered her.

“Bitch, it’s time to teach you to be good.” Kyungchi slammed her against the wall as he pinned her arms over her head with one strong hand.

Min struggled against him as a mixture of hatred and fury, terror and fear course through her. She felt herself grow cold as wild thoughts raced through her mind.

“Think I didn’t know? Think I’m stupid? You’re too pretty to be a boy, stupid whore. It’s time to tame you like you were supposed to when your mama first gave birth to ya! Yoonshi was retarded to think Chaeli gave him a son and not a girl.”

How did he know? How did he know? How did he find out? Was it obvious? Did I do something? If he knows then that means...

But her train of thoughts were cut short when Kyungchi rubbed his erection against her. He stamped his body into hers and moved his free hand over her stiff breast. He patted them as if to loosen the bondage and cursed to see Min not registering any reaction.

“Bitch, you’re never gonna have a man ever in your lifetime. Not after your retarded dad turned you into a boy. Might as well pray that I won’t stop,” Kyungchi rasped as he ripped off his shirt.

Min spat in his face and kicked with all her might. Above them, chaos broke out as Jiwon and his men attacked. Kyungchi was getting ready to strike Min when a sudden sting shocked his raised arm. Min raised a leg and kicked him, sending him reeling backwards. She ran away to the opposite end and bumped into Jiwon, who was hidden in the shadows. She gasped.

“What are you two doing?” the stranger asked quietly.

“Him! He was getting ready to beat me up!” Min lied, pointing at Kyungchi.

“Stupid bitch! You - AWWWWW!” Kyungchi groaned as the sudden impact of Min’s blow course through his whole body.

“It’s not my fault! He was the one that wanted to kill him first!”

“Why do you want to beat up on a poor cabinboy?” Jiwon questioned, not understanding Min's accusations.

“I - ” Min started to correct Jiwon by telling him she was Yoonshi’s son, but stopped. She wanted to see how Kyungchi would deal with him. In the dark, she could see he was a handsome man. Very handsome. Dark and deadly, his eyes...and mouth...the mouth was something she had never seen before on any man. It was gorgeous.

“Who the hell are you?! This is my ship! I’ll do whatever I want!”

“Well, mister. Not anymore. This ship will be under inspection in a matter of a few hours. You, the head, will be executed if you do not cooperate.”

“WHAT?!” Kyungchi screamed. “What is this?! Why am I executed?!”

“He’s not the head! He locked up Yoonshi!” Min exploded. “He’s the traitor!”

“Who are you?” Jiwon was now completely lost. The boy next to him didn’t look like a cabinboy of any kind. He was ferocious and seemed to know more in depth businesses ordinary cabinboys shouldn’t know.

“He locked up my father!”

“Who’s your father?”

“Kwon Yoonshi.”

Jiwon nearly collapsed upon hearing the name. “Then you’re the son?”

Min nodded. “Please save him! He’s been framed! This stupid moron locked him up! Please help him! He’s dying!”

“He’s locked up because he’s a man of corruption! We all know.”

“Liar! You put him in there because he’s better than all of you and you know it! You’re just a jealous bum with no life!”

“Alright,” Jiwon thundered. “I’ll see what I can do about your father. In the meantime, carry out my orders to have my men stop fighting. They’re upstairs, I’ll come with the results.”

Min snorted at the command. “I listen to the orders given to me from my father. Not you.”

“Do you want me to help?”

“If you can guarantee him safety and freedom.”

“Safety, I can guarantee. Not the freedom.”

“Then forget it. Get off my ship! I’ll save him on my own! Go!” Min shouted, pushing Jiwon away. “Get off!”

Jiwon used the chance and wrapped his hand around one of Min’s thin wrists. “Then you’re coming with me!”

Min was caught completely off guard by Jiwon’s reaction. “WHAT?!”

“You heard me. Come.” Jiwon dragged her with him onto the deck. Min stumbled after him, surprised by the feelings rushing through her. Kyungchi came after them, screaming and yelling. Jiwon pulled out his gun and fired into the sun, stopping the riot. Min jumped at the loud pop and stood still beside Jiwon. With his hand still around her wrist, she kicked him to remind him about her. Jiwon looked at her and immediately released her. “STOP!”

Min edged away as Kyungchi came closer. She ran to the other corner and sat on the ledge where she was sure the handsome stranger would see her.

“WHERE IS YOONSHI??!” Jiwon bellowed to no one in particular.

Min immediately rose to her feet, volunteering to show him the way to her father. But the man kept his gaze over the men beneath him. Finally Kyungchi spoke up.

“I’ll take you to him.”

“I wanna go, too!” Min shrieked.

“No,” Jiwon said. “You wait here.”

Min was content either way as long as Kyungchi was out of sight.

“Master, what is going on?” one of Yoonshi’s men asked.

“I would like to know myself. But I do know you’re gonna die! Instead of helping Yoonshi, you backstabbed him like everybody else! You’re gonna diiieeeeeee!” Min said harshly.

“I didn’t!”

“Shut up! You did, you did, you did! Everyone of you did! Not only did you backstab him, you assisted that pigheaded fool!”

“But Master!”

“We’ll see the verdict. Just wait. If that man won’t kill you, I’ll kill you myself.”

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