“Well, I’ll be damned...”


( ( Chapter 3 ) )


“Hyori unni,” Jeejee sang.

“Yes, sweety?”

“How come my oppa doesn’t have a yuja chingu?”

“I dunno, love.”

“Hmm?”

“I dunno.”

“How come you don’t have a namja chingu?”

Hyori was silent.

“Unni uhm?”

“Go do your lessons,” Hyori commanded, pulling Jeejee to her desk.

“Hyori ah! Why do you always avoid my questions? Why won’t you answer them?” Jeejee pouted.

“Miss...” a quiet voice interrupted them.

“Uh?” Hyori turned to find Jiyong, one of Jiwon’s guards, at the door. “Yes?”

“The Master’s back. Thought you would like to know,” Jiyong informed before disappearing.

“Yay! Oppa’s back! He’ll answer my questions! Oppa!” Jeejee shouted gleefully, running after Jiyong.

“Jeejee!” Hyori yelled, lifting her dress to run after Jeejee. “Jeejee!”

“Oppa, oppa! You’re back! You dunno - ” Jeejee halted upon seeing her brother and a new guest. It was a tall boy, not taller than Jiwon, but almost there. Skinny and thin, pale skin. His hair was shaggy and he seemed pretty clean for a cabinboy. “Oppa!”

Min looked up at the girl that bounced to her. She looked back to Jiwon, assuming it was probably his sister. Another girl, probaby his other sister, came running after her. The other looked much older, could be his girlfriend or his fiancée. She was a small petite, small, puny eyes, long hair, something Min could never be. A lady.

“Jiwon!” the older girl cried.

“Oppa!” said the younger one.

“Ah, how are the women doing?” Jiwon chuckled.

“Oppa...” Jeejee whimpered, hiding behind Jiwon. “Who’s that?” she whispered, pointing at Min.

Hyori observed Min, unable to hide her disgusted expression. “Who is he?”

“That’s our guest, Kwon Min.”

“That-That’s - ”

Jiwon nodded, laughing at Hyori’s mocked surprise. “That’s him.”

“Who?” Jeejee hooted, jerking on Jiwon’s shirt.

“Kwon Min. You know...Kwon Yoonshi’s son.”

“Oh! The bad guy?”

Min chewed on her lip to keep from exploding. She was sure they were aware that they’ve gotten to her. Despite the efforts she had put in in obeying her father, she can’t help but loathe the arrogant man. Eun Jiwon’s a bastard. She heard of her men talk about him. A lost soul. Stupid, too. She snorted and glared at the girl crouching behind the guy.

“Jaeduk, show him his room. We’ll see how you adjust. If you’re good, I’ll have you serve as my own cabinboy.”

“Say what?!” she shrieked. “I’m a pirate! Not a servant!”

“Come, Jeejee,” Hyori said softly.

Jeejee ran to Hyori, her round eyes fixed on Min. Min scowled at her and she dodged away, hiding her face in Hyori’s dress.

“You will do as I say. Your father asked me to take you as a cabinboy and he even told you. Now you are to listen to him and stay on this ship,” Jiwon said casually.

“Like you got the balls to make me stay,” Min muttered.

“Say what?”

“Nuthin,” she said loudly. “Where am I sleeping? I’m tired.”

“Show him,” Jiwon said to Jaeduk.

Min followed a boy not much older than she is and sighed. She didn’t understand her father at times, but it was for the best of her. The final decision and discussion of transporting her to the realm of Eun Jiwon’s world...sickened her. Jaeduk left her to herself and she tried bolting the door. She wasn’t amazed to find no lock on the door, surprised to find such accommodations on a small boat like his.

She dreaded the idea of being a cabinboy. She never done such chores. Although back when she was on her own ship, her father had her do both their laundry and cook and clean. But what if Jiwon had some other thing in mind and make her wash everybody’s clothes? Make her everybody’s cabinboy? The two girls don’t look anything like maids. One looked more like a teacher. A tutor and the little girl looked like an airhead.

Her father was a strange man. She heard of crazy things people do when they’re desperate to break out of jail, but her father was the most outrageous.

“Take Min...Take him...Take him to be your cabinboy,” Yoonshi rasped.

“WHAT?!” By that time, Min had snuck downstairs without anyone noticing.

Jiwon and Kyungchi whirled around.

“I will NOT go with him, Appa!”

“You must...For your own safety...”

“What about you?! You’re the one in trouble, not me! I can take care of myself!”

“Just listen to me and be a good boy. Appa will get a chance. Just please, go with Jiwon. He’s here to help.”

“Yeah, by taking me away from you? No, Appa! I won’t go!”

“Kwon Min!” the angry man bellowed. “As your father, you will do what I say!”

Min swallowed the tears that worked their way up her throat. “Yes, Appa.”

“Please take him. Use him. He’s a good boy. He will be a great usage to you, Eun. He’s a good boy. Keep him by your side. A cabinboy...”

Min grinded her teeth to keep her anger down. She was seething with despise. One, she would have to murder Kyungchi and two, Eun Jiwon for agreeing. Three, her father for making the dumbest decisions. “Appa...”

“Go, Min. Now. Before I change my mind.”

Min hoped he would change his mind. She would rather die than leave her father. He was all that was left in the world that belonged to her. She nodded and let Jiwon lead her away. She followed him with her head low and sniffled the tears away.

“Min...”

She halted. “Yes?”

“Can I see that ray of sunlight one last time?”

The dam broke. Tears streamed down her face and she didn’t care anymore. She let it flow like the Nile River, tasting the salt as it entered her mouth. She felt her lips twitch and stretch into a fake, tight smile. The rubber feeling of her mouth opening automatically into an impish grin so much like her mother’s. She scrubbed the tears away with the sleeves of her shirt and brightened the smile. Her father’s eyes seemed to dance at the sight and she turned to leave, smiling.

“Chaeli...”

“Bye, Appa.”

She left without looking back and followed Jiwon to his boat, rowing away to “paradise.”

She blinked at the flashback, realizing someone was watching her. She cleared her mind and scrunched her brows when her eyes were fixed at the door. Eun Jiwon. Why won’t he ever stop nagging her? She truly hated him. Everything about him. Her father was right. Looks can be deceiving. And Eun Jiwon looked like a fakey that wanted to be so much like her father. Yeah...right.

“Thinking about your father?”

“Can’t say I’m lying. Yoonshi is the last thing in the world that belongs to me.”

“Don’t worry. They’ll investigate him. He’ll be free. I’ve hidden him before Kyungchi and the rest finds him.”

“You’ve stolen Yoonshi?” Min gasped.

“Is that the way how you refer to your elders? By their name?”

“How would you like to be referred to as? Ajoshi?” Min retorted.

Jiwon flushed at the come back. “Jiwon’s fine.”

“Yes, I would agree. What were you saying?”

“If Yoonshi’s really innocent then he goes free. If he’s not...”

“Like who would believe it?! Even that little airhead thinks he’s bad and she doesn’t even know him!” Min shouted.

“Who?”

“That little bubble that calls you ‘oppa.’ ”

“That’s my sister.”

“Whomever! I don’t care! She doesn’t know him and she has already reached her verdict!”

“I don’t appreciate how you treat these people. They’re my family and you should treat them with respect.”

“Like hell! Where’s the respect for Yoonshi? You sure do set a good example.”

“I’m warning you...”

“And I’m warning you! Don’t come to me thinking you can teach me manners and respect. My father taught me well and I do know how and when to use it. For ignorants like you, huh! You can crawl back in your little hermit hole and be a smartass all you want! How about teaching that little ‘dongseng’ of yours some manners, huh? Or even better! How about your little wife or fiancée or whatever that girl is supposed to be of yours? Your mistress? She looks of someone with poor breeding and education. Can she read? Can she write? Oh! I forgot! Women don’t read and write! I’m sorry. My deepest regret.”

“Are you finished?” Jiwon asked with an even tone.

“Now that you ask. No, I am not. But I will not bore you with my counseling. I do charge by the hour.”

Jiwon sighed. “I hope you know I am not your enemy.”

“Oh! Did I say you were? I don’t think I ever mentioned it.”

“Min...listen. Your father asked me to take you into refuge so you won’t get hurt. He doesn’t want Kyungchi to harm you, so he asked me to take care of you. Do you understand?”

“That, I understand. But what I don’t understand is...Why did you promise him?”

“Unlike you said...I very much have respect for Yoonshi ajoshi. Really, I do. He’s a great man of many powers and I very much look up to him. I mean...I never thought he would want anything from me. A small kid who doesn’t even have anything to compare and to accept his offer and have me help him...It was just too much to ask. I was honored and so I accepted. I then realize it was a small favor, to take you in and watch out for you. While all this is getting sorted out, I guess he just wants you out of it.”

Min nodded. “How did you know of Yoonshi?”

“When I was a kid, I heard of him. I remember how way back I used to wish that I was his son.” He smiles with a faraway look. “It was funny, I was only five and it was like a dream...To meet the man. I heard about him and his doings, but I never give it much thought until I turned fifteen and started maturing.”

Min couldn’t help but laugh. “Fifteen? Mature? I still think you’re growing!”

“That’s quite a line from a what? You’re sixteen? Seventeen?”

“Seventeen. Have no idea when I turn eighteen. Yoonshi always reminds me...I think it’s in the beginning of January.”

“Then you’re still a baby.”

“I wouldn’t be talking! How old are you?!”

“Twenty-one.”

Min let out a low whistle. “Already?”

“Already.”

“Do you shave? I don’t even see hair on you!”

“I’m clean. Heh...Okay, so I’m a little slow on puberty.”

Min chuckled to herself, happy she wasn’t the only one facing such dilemma. “I gotcha.”

“You? Are you sick or sumthin? Why are you so pale?”

“Uh...I have...uh...I dunno...Yoonshi never told me. I have wear long sleeves to protect my arms,” Min stammered, desperately groping for words. “I never knew why. I just can’t fry...no matter how long I stay in the sun.”

“Heh...you’re the opposite from Jeejee. If my mom was still here, she would come after you and make you trade skins with Jeejee.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Nuthin. She thinks girls should be small and skinny with light skin and big round eyes. You seem to qualify,” Jiwon commented, peering into Min’s face.

“What?! No! I...I’m too manly,” she stammered again, looking away.

“There’s nuthin to be ashamed of. Jiyong looks like a girl, too.”

“Who!?”

“This boy that works here. He’s tall, quite girly.”

“Attractive?”

“How else would I describe him?”

“Never mind. Lemme sleep. I’m tired.”

“Fine. But you better attend to your jobs tomorrow.”

Min nodded, tuning him out. She kicked off the boots and jumped on the bed, the spring squeaking.

“Is this the way how you go to sleep?”

“I’m Yoonshi’s little wangja don’t you forget. I did everything I wanted to and never got in trouble.”

“That’s Yoonshi, I’m Jiwon,” he sighed. “You’re gonna be even harder to tame.”



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