One: The One Where Five Years Had Passed

Hongkong…

He was starting to hate the look of the conference room. They had been holed in for close to three hours while the person speaking in front had droned for one. Yet he had no choice but to sit through the entire meeting because they were close to landing the account for the construction of an upscale shopping mall in Seoul. The foreign investors were pretty meticulous. Several business plans had to be presented to convince them they were capable of executing their vision.

If anyone had met him five years ago, they would never believe his life revolved around office work these days. It was a far cry from his carefree years as a teenage Don Juan. The F4 had their future handed to them in a silver platter. They did not have to work for anything.

“Director Song, they’re ready for you.”

He nodded. His was the final presentation for the evening. At twenty five, Song Woo Bin was now the Managing Director of Il Shim Industrial Corporation. He had been given the responsibility straight out of university and it has kept him happily occupied career-wise.

Taking a deep breath, he motioned for his assistant to run the presentation.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” he greeted. “Behind me is the blueprint of MyungDok Plaza’s proposed design as well as the projected expenses we will encounter during its construction.” A simulated structure of the mall then appeared onscreen as the board of investors listened intently.

He was pleased with the interest they showed as he went on with his presentation. Granted that this will end the way he expected to, his long day was finally coming to a fantastic end.

~ o ~

New York City…

Sitting in her dining room, she tapped a pen against her cheek and scribbled on a piece of paper. All afternoon, ever since she had received the email from Jan Di, Ha Jae Kyung had been ecstatic. A flight to Seoul in two days was immediately booked and she had been perusing her bridal magazines for hours.

Although raised as an only child, Jae Kyung wanted nothing to do with the family business. Her parents knew firsthand what a headstrong individual their daughter was and had hoped of finding a suitable son-in-law to take over JK Group’s vast conglomerate. Goo Jun Pyo would have been the perfect candidate, but theirs was a union frowned upon by the gods.

She knew all too well that his heart belonged to someone else yet she desperately grasped for straws. When she finally came through, the realization sank in that it was nothing but mere infatuation. The wedding walkout was a decision she never regretted. It gave her the freedom she wanted and saved her friendship with the most important people in her life.

~ o ~

“SHINHWA HEIR TO MARRY MEDICAL INTERN”

Korean media feasted on the headlines like there was no tomorrow. Within minutes, it was all over the news that Goo Jun Pyo will marry Geum Jan Di in a lavish ceremony within a month.

“Goo Jun Pyo!” Jan Di yelled frantically as she entered the F4 lounge. She had purposely avoided going to the clinic knowing the paparazzi had set up camp within its vicinity. Geum Jan Di hated the spotlight, and it didn’t help that she saw her face plastered all over the major dailies when she woke up that morning.

“You called?” Jun Pyo greeted her chirpily. Beside him, an amused So Yi Jeong looked at Jan Di like a woman going amok. Jun Pyo approached her for a hug but was immediately brushed off.

“I thought we agreed to keep it low key?” she asked, pointing to the front page of the Seoul Times.

“Don’t you think the Shinhwa heir deserves to have the wedding of the year?”

“You’re impossible –”

“It’s the life you’ll be marrying into, sweetheart.”

“Is this a wrong time then to say congratulations?” a female voice asked, startling those in the room. Min Seo Hyun glided with ease as she came forward to meet the bride-to-be. Behind her, a visibly contented Yoon Ji Hoo smiled upon seeing his friends.

“Seo Hyun unni!” Jan Di greeted her with a hug. “It’s been a long time.”

Ji Hoo chuckled. “We wouldn’t miss this wedding for anything in the world.” He was now shuttling between Korea and Europe while overseeing the activities of the foundation. Seo Hyun, on the other hand, was a successful lawyer who recently started her own practice in Paris.

“You look lovely, Jan Di.” Seo Hyun complimented. She seemed to notice though that someone was missing. “Woo Bin isn’t here?”

Yi Jeong explained that Woo Bin had gone to the airport to pick up someone but he’ll be back in time to join them. Jun Pyo immediately suggested having lunch at the Goo manor while waiting for their friend to return.

~ o ~

Incheon International Airport…

Ha Jae Kyung was amused.

When they boarded at JFK, she was seated next to a lovely madam who regaled her with stories of her three lovely children throughout the entire flight. She found it fascinating because her own parents were never that affectionate talking about her in front of their friends. The woman introduced herself as Jeong Yeon Hwa and had taken an instant liking to Jae Kyung the moment she saw her.

“I insist that you visit me one of these days while you’re still in Seoul,” Madam Jeong suggested as she gave Jae Kyung her business card. ‘JYH Interior Designs’, it read.

“That’s very generous of you, Mrs. Jeong.” she replied. “But I wouldn’t want to impose.”

Yeon Hwa had that mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “Don’t be silly, child. I know my daughters will love you. Who knows? I might even introduce you to my son,” she winked. “Well, only on the very rare instances that he’s home.”

Jae Kyung smiled in hesitation while walking towards the arrival area. What is it with mothers setting her up with their sons? Well at least this one had proper warning. She never even knew she was involved in an arranged marriage until that day her bodyguards whisked her off to attend Jun Pyo’s birthday party.

They parted just as they reached the arrival area and Madam Jeong politely excused herself to collect her luggage. Alone, Jae Kyung scanned the crowd for a familiar face.

“Unni!”

“Ga Eul!” she waved, motioning for her friend to come over. “You made it.”

“I had to be very sneaky –”

“They suspected something?”

“Almost,” Ga Eul replied. “Yi Jeong was starting to keep tabs of my whereabouts.”

“Wow, he’s turning out to be just like his friend –”

“And which friend would that be?” A male voice interrupted their conversation.

Jae Kyung stopped in her tracks. She glanced over her shoulders to see whose voice it belonged to and came face to face with a person they least expected to meet.

“Just great,” she muttered under her breath.

The surprise of her arrival was now ruined.

~ o ~

Ga Eul looked like she had seen a ghost.

“Sunbae?”

“Hello, Ga Eul,” Woo Bin greeted. He stood so close his six foot frame dwarfed Jae Kyung’s. “Princess Ha –”

“The name’s Ha Jae Kyung –” she replied cheerfully. “Song Woo Bin, right?” He merely nodded.

She felt sad when he acted dismissive of her presence. One thing Jae Kyung regretted during the months she had been Jun Pyo’s fiancée was that she never got to know his friends better. Her world had revolved around Jun Pyo, Jan Di and the doomed marriage from hell.

“What brings you back from New York?” he asked.

Jae Kyung was relieved when he actually talked to her. “Jun Pyo and Jan Di’s wedding.”

“Oh, right.” He was still keenly observing her. “No bodyguards?”

“Ditched them when I went abroad.”

“We’d better go ahead,” Ga Eul cut through mid-conversation saying their ride will be coming shortly. “Jan Di’s expecting us.”

“Now, wait!” he called. “You’re not thinking of –” He was looking at Jae Kyung intently.

“Save the malicious thought, mafia boy. That was five years ago,” she retorted playfully, as if she knew what’s on his mind.

“Hey, I never said anything!”

Before he even had the chance to explain, the ladies were quickly out of sight and all he got was a quick wave from Jae Kyung before they boarded the car that came up the driveway. He wondered why he was left smiling to himself after seeing her again.

“There you are!”

“Ommuni,” he stood up as soon as he saw who was approaching. “Had a nice flight?”

“Oh definitely,” she replied, then arm-hooked her son as they walked towards the car. “So how’s your dad? Did he miss me while I was away?”

Woo Bin rolled his eyes in disbelief. Trust his mom to ask him the most awkward questions. She was pretty territorial when it came to his father. Not that she needed to. Jeong Yeon Hwa was barely out of her teens when she married Song Woo Taek. Three kids and twenty seven years later, he continues to adore and treat her like a queen even if work takes up most of his time.

“Dad’s fine,” he said, opening the car door for her. “Hye Rin and Hye Jin will be happy to know you’re back.”

He proceeded to update her on how he landed the account for MyungDok Plaza and the preparations for Jun Pyo’s wedding. He knew how much she loved weddings. She can talk nonstop about her own for hours.

“Are you bringing someone?”

“I’m sorry?” He couldn’t quite get her point.

“To the wedding… as a date,” Yeon Hwa elaborated.

“Ommuni, you can stop the matchmaking attempt,” he cut her off. “I’m not interested.”

“But there’s this one girl I met –”

“Mom, please?”

Jeong Yeon Hwa never pushed the issue again on the drive back home.

~ o ~

He made it back to the Goo manor in half an hour. Surprisingly, Jae Kyung and Ga Eul were nowhere to be found when the butler led him to the garden where his friends were gathered. His attention was diverted as Seo Hyun fussed over why he wasn’t dating anyone until now while Ji Hoo wanted to talk about having the Institute remodeled by their company.

“JanDi, is there anyone else we’re expecting for the wedding?” Yi Jeong suddenly brought up the topic.

She merely smiled. Just then, the butler announced that Miss Chu Ga Eul and Miss Ha Jae Kyung have arrived.

“Anyeonghaseyo!” Jae Kyung greeted everyone as they burst through the garden.

Woo Bin loved the look on his friends’ faces. They bore the same expression as he did an hour ago. It took a while before the news sunk in for Yi Jeong. “Ha Jae Kyung?” he said, unable to believe she was back in Seoul.

“Hello,” Seo Hyun got to her feet and happily extended her hand. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”

Jae Kyung looked all too happy to gain a new friend. Within minutes, the ladies were engaged in a little chitchat of their own which Jan Di and Ga Eul happily joined.

“You don’t look surprised to see her,” Yi Jeong interrupted his train of thought.

“I already saw them earlier at Incheon,” he explained. “You should’ve seen the look on Ga Eul’s face when she realized I busted their secret.” Yi Jeong merely laughed and patted his friend’s shoulder.

“Looks like you finally have yourself a date for the wedding,” he quipped.

Song Woo Bin almost spat out the soda he was drinking. There was a look of defiance on his face and the F3 took it as an answer to their suggestion. Yi Jeong was amused, primarily because he remembered what he and Woo Bin went through when they took Jae Kyung for a “faux date” years ago. The lady was pretty and all but she was just too much to handle.

“No thanks, guys.” He replied casually. “I can find a date myself.”

“Maybe you’re just afraid,” Ji Hoo commented nonchalantly.

Yy-yya! Cut to the chase, Ji Hoo!” Jun Pyo said. He knew he was up to something with that psycho-babble of his.

“The woman’s not my type,” Woo Bin reasoned out. “End of discussion.”

“Not your type?” Ji Hoo was egging him on. “Hyung, you might be surprised.”

Jun Pyo appeared to enjoy the discussion. “Maybe monkey girl’s destined to end up with an F4 after all.”

An idea came to mind as Woo Bin’s lips curved into a mischievous smile. The F4 were pretty lousy matchmakers. But he was willing to play their game. Now if he could just rope Jae Kyung along for the ride and prove them wrong with that assumption.

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One Response to “One: The One Where Five Years Had Passed”

  1. lesly13 January 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM #

    nice fic,,
    i love reading it..

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