Moon’s Labyrinth - Chapter 70
‘Why couldn’t I turn them down?’
After Jiyoon finished reading a picture book, Shinhae had gone into her room to pick another. In the meanwhile, Jiyoon pondered over her thoughts.
Even if she couldn’t turn down Shinhae’s doe-like eyes and Sungyoon’s desperate expression, she really had stepped over the line by following them home. She was a single woman of marriageable age, and yet, she was having dinner with a divorcee and his daughter. It was something people might gossip about. If the person who had asked her was anyone else, she would have been firm in her refusal.
Despite all of these facts, Jiyoon was currently inside Sungyoon’s house.
She once again asked the question.
No, she already kinda knew the answer.
She discreetly looked towards Sungyoon, who was cooking. He was using a wooden spatula to stir meat in the frying pan. However, a burnt smell was emanating from the meat, so something must have gone wrong.
When he took care of Shinhae, he had a relaxed expression on his face. When he was away from Shinhae, the expression would go blank, and he would turn into a gloomy person. That kind of person was sweating bullets while cooking a dish. He looked as if he was fighting a life or death battle. A laugh naturally escaped her mouth, and at the same time, she felt her heartbeat speed up a little bit.
‘Is this for real?’
Even if she didn’t have any experience in love, she had seen enough examples around her. She knew over 10 couples in college. It was enough for Jiyoon to be able to identify her own feelings.
‘He is much older than me, and he is a divorcee with a child. Am I ok with that?’
She had already thought about this earlier in the orphanage. These two factors weren’t a negative. At the very least, they weren’t a negative to Jiyoon.
Of course, this wasn’t a love that might appear in a romance novel. It wasn’t a passionate love that she would give up her life for. She had merely found someone that she was interested in. However, this was a first for Jiyoon, so it was enough to fluster her.
Jiyoon once again looked towards Sungyoon.
‘We are like a married couple.’
The husband was cooking, and the wife was entertaining the child by reading a book. It really was an ideal picture of a family. Soon, Jiyoon’s face turned red.
‘Jeez! What the hell am I thinking about!’
Her cheeks turned hot. Her eyes remained restless as she fanned herself.
At that moment, Jiyoon’s eyes picked up something, and her eyebrows shot upwards.
There was a hanger located at the corner of a room, and the cloth hanging there clearly belonged to a woman. It wasn’t a jacket or normal everyday wear. It was a gown that one wore to sleep. Jiyoon was surprised, and a strong sense of displeasure ambushed her.
“Unni, this is the next one!”
At that moment, Shinhae brought back another picture book.
When Jiyoon didn’t respond, Shinhae shook her shoulder, and she called out to her unni once again.
“Please read this to me.”
Jiyoon finally registered the presence of the picture book which was being held up towards her.
“Ah! Yes! I’ll read it to you.”
Jiyoon took the book. Shinhae once again sat atop her legs, so she could be hugged by her unni.
Jiyoon placed the book in front of Shinhae and opened it. As expected, it was a children’s book with large pictures. She flipped past the cover and the table of content. She opened the page where the story began.
However, she couldn’t concentrate. Her eyes kept drifting towards the hanger with the women’s clothing hanging on it.
‘Is he dating someone?’
It was a possibility. Even if he was an old divorcee with a child, there was one big factor that could wipe out all the negatives. He was a Connector. Moreover, it was well known that Connectors practiced polygamy.
Normally, Sungyoon looked disinterested in women. It would shock Jiyoon if he was truly going out with a woman.
However, she shook her head from side to side.
‘No. There might be another explanation.’
If felt like she was becoming one of those women that couldn’t accept things at face value. Despite knowing this, Jiyoon decided to take on this situation head-on.
Of course, she wasn’t bold enough to ask the question to Sungyoon.
Jiyoon had finished reading the book, and before the little girl could leave to get another book, Jiyoon carefully threw out a question towards her.
“Whose cloth is that?”
Jiyoon tried to sound nonchalant, without expressing any emotion, as if she was only asking because it had caught her eyes. She almost spoke with a higher pitch, desperately pressing down on her voice.
Shinhae looked towards the clothes.
“Ah! That’s Jimin unni’s clothes.”
She was sure she had overheard that name before.
“What kind of person is that unni?”
“Mmm! She is the president of dad’s company. Also, she stays with me when dad is gone.”
Shinhae gave a vague answer, a simplistic answer typical of a child. But the answer complicated the thoughts inside Jiyoon’s head.
‘President? Is she the president of a Connector Company?’
If so, there was a good chance that she didn’t have any romantic relationship with Sungyoon. However, one part bothered her. Shinhae had said that the woman stayed with her.
‘Does she live here when Shinhae’s father goes to the Moon?’
It was odd for a president to show so much interest in an employee’s affairs. Moreover, Shinhae had called her unni. It meant that the president wasn’t that old. She wanted to ask more questions, but it worried her that her behavior may look too odd. That was why she had shied away from directly pursuing that topic. She wondered how she should approach this topic so that Shinhae would not think of it as being weird. Suddenly, she remembered Sungyoon’s earlier words.
That woman was trash…
She was sure Sungyoon had used this phrase to describe his ex-wife.
“Mmm! Hey, Shinhae!”
Jiyoon didn’t put much thought into it, as she asked the question to the little girl.
“What kind of person is your mother?”
Shinhae’s mother was someone that had married the man Jiyoon was interested in. Of course, she was curious about such a woman. However, it was also true that she was being rash and careless in asking this question.
The wooden spatula hit the frypan. Sungyoon, who had been stir-frying dried anchovies, came to a halt. However, Jiyoon didn’t notice this, as she was focused on Shinhae.
Until now, Shinhae had been energetic and happy. Suddenly, her expression turned very sad. It became like the first time when Jiyoon had seen her in the orphanage.
Jiyoon sensed something was very wrong with Shinhae.
“I… I don’t have a mom.”
Shinhae mumbled her words in a small voice.
“That person isn’t my mom.”
It was shocking to hear such words from a five-year-old child. She knew the situation had become very serious. Jiyoon became restless. She didn’t know what to do.
Sungyoon’s kind voice could be heard from the kitchen.
“Let’s eat. Please place the dishes and utensils on the table.”
Shinhae shot up from Jiyoon’s knees and ran towards the kitchen. It looked like she was running away from something she didn’t want to see.
As if he was switching places with his daughter, Sungyoon exited the kitchen. He started unfolding a new table. The dining table in the living room could seat only two people. This was why they needed another table if they wanted to eat dinner with Jiyoon.
“I… I’ll help too.”
Jiyoon quickly got up. Sungyoon didn’t turn down her offer. While Jiyoon was busy setting up the table, Sungyoon brought a dish towel out from the kitchen and wiped the top of the table.
“Please do not talk about her mom in front of Shinhae.”
Jiyoon, who had been looking for more tasks to do, heard a sound that struck her like a thunderclap.
“Y… you heard that?”
“Yes. Connectors have great hearing.”
Her face turned pale.
Jiyoon bowed her head deeply towards Sungyoon.
“As I’ve said before, my ex-wife is human trash. Of course, she didn’t treat her child well. It created a big wound within Shinhae.”
“I’m so sorry! I should’ve given it more thought!”
Sungyoon let out a sigh.
“It’s fine. You didn’t know about it. However, please do not speak about Shinhae’s mom from now on.”
“I’ll bear that in mind.”
If he had presented her with a contract at that time, she wouldn’t have hesitated to sign it. Jiyoon nodded.
“Also, Ms. Jimin is the president of my company, and she personally adores Shinhae. So when I’m absent, she takes care of her. She acts as Shinhae’s guardian when I’m gone. Also, she had gone back to her own house when I returned to Earth and forgot to take that item with her. When I called her about it, she told me to keep it here, since she’ll be back when I return to the Moon.”
‘He heard that too.’
If Jiyoon could crawl into a mouse hole, she would hide in it right now. She wanted to stick her head in a haystack like a dumb chicken. She didn’t care if it looked foolish. She wanted to do it.
“I… I’m really sorry.”
“No, it is nothing. You were curious. Ms. Jimin lives under this roof sometimes to take care of Shinhae.”
Sungyoon was unperturbed as he told Jiyoon that everything was fine. However, Jiyoon was still anxious.
“What’s wrong, unni?”
The little girl had brought the small dishes and utensils. When she saw the anxious look on her unni, she became puzzled.
Jiyoon was embarrassed. She didn’t know what to do with herself, so Sungyoon helped her.
“Unni just wants to help Shinhae.”
Shinhae put the dishes and utensils on top of the desk, and she grabbed Jiyoon’s hand.
“Then unni can scoop the rice.”
Shinhae pointed towards the kitchen. To be precise, she pointed towards the pressure cooker.
Jiyoon was pulled along by the small hand as she walked towards the kitchen.
The rice had just finished cooking, and white steam rose from within the rice cooker. She carefully scooped rice into the rice bowls, while Shinhae filled the cups with water and placed them atop the table. Sungyoon brought out the side dishes.
Soon, the dinner was placed on the table.
There was the white rice alongside the sweet & sour pork. He had made the stir-fried salty anchovies and the spicy bean sprout side dishes. Then there was the savory bean sprout soup. Of course, he also had kimchi and beans cooked in soy sauce.
There was nothing missing on this dinner table.
“Thank you for the food!”
Shinhae yelled out loud and started digging into the food. She looked like a hamster as she stuffed rice into each cheek. Then, she used her training chopsticks to pick up side dishes. Sungyoon looked pleased as he watched.
Jiyoon also picked up her spoon. Sungyoon’s cooking looked ok, and she carefully put a spoonful of food in her mouth.
The taste was average. He had made some mistakes in making the sweet & sour pork. Some parts had been burnt. It wasn’t inedible, but it wasn’t delicious either. If she had to make an assessment, she would describe it as the cooking of a man that had just started cooking. That was Sungyoon’s level.
Jiyoon’s opinion ended there. Since she didn’t want Sungyoon and Shinhae to notice, she didn’t try to make any further assessment.
The dinner quickly ended. Shinhae was the last one to finish. She patted her stomach as she laid down on the floor. The sadness from before was gone, and she laughed while playing with Sungyoon on the floor.
After humoring Shinhae’s playfulness for a while, Sungyoon stood up to clear the table.
“Ah! I’ll do it.”
Since she was treated to dinner, she wanted to wash the dishes. Jiyoon stood up. However, Sungyoon shook his head from side to side.
“It isn’t something I should let a guest do.”
“Still, I would like to work a bit to pay back for your hospitality.”
She really wanted to help, because she had caused a lot of trouble that day. Sungyoon stared at her for a brief moment.
“Let’s do it together. You said you had questions for me?”
Sungyoon turned to look at Shinhae.
“Unni and I have to clean up. Do you mind playing by yourself for a short time?”
“May I go watch TV?”
Shinhae abruptly stood up. Sungyoon looked a bit disagreeable as he looked at the clock. He had placed a restriction. Shinhae wasn’t supposed to watch TV this late in the day. However, Sungyoon nodded this time.
“This is an exception only for today.”
Shinhae was happy. She raised both hands into the air and crawled across the floor to pick up the remote on the floor. Soon, the screen turned on, and a children’s cartoon appeared on the screen. The girl was caught up in watching the TV show.
The two adults started to clean up. They put the leftover side dishes in the refrigerator and the empty dishes in the sink. After wiping the table clean with a dishrag, Sungyoon put the table away. Then, the two of them stood side by side as they did the dishes.
“I really want to apologize once again.”
She still felt sorry, so as soon as Jiyoon stood next to Sungyoon she apologized once again.
“It’s fine. Do as you are doing right now. Please keep a good relationship with Shinhae. That’s all I ask.”
“Thank you very much.”
Sungyoon really wasn’t showing any signs of displeasure towards her, so she relaxed.
Of course, it wasn’t as if Sungyoon wasn’t angry. If he hadn’t owed a lot to her, he wouldn’t have dismissed this issue so easily.
“Didn’t you say you had questions you wanted to ask me?”
“Ah! I do.”
Jiyoon was barely able to regain her complexion, and she slowly started to ask questions that she had wanted to ask him.
After they were done with dishes, Sungyoon brewed some coffee. They took their conversation over to the dining table. The conversation continued for a while.