Suyeon knocked on the door of the makeup room with a bottle of aloe juice.
“Who is it?”
A woman’s head poked out from the room, she was probably one of the actors that Junmin talked about.
“Hello, I’m Kim Suyeon.”
She smiled and handed the woman a drink for now. First gifts should always be small. Something that one could easily get rid of if they didn’t like it. An expensive first gift would only garner suspicion from others.
The woman took the juice, confused. Success. Suyeon smiled, looking inside the dressing room through the open door. There was a sandwich inside, indicating the people inside must’ve been talking while eating.
“Oh, what nice timing. We can talk while you eat.”
She stepped in very casually. Doors were amazing things. They managed to split one space from the other both literally and figuratively. That’s why she always needed to pay attention when she was crossing doorways. If she just stepped in right away, they would be wary for sure. So instead, she’d step inside after a little bit of a positive greeting, thus they would welcome her. Her beautiful face helped with this, no doubt.
“Who are you?”
A man stood up from his seat to look at her.
“Hello, I’m Kim Suyeon.”
It doesn’t matter even if he didn’t know her. What’s important was telling the person his name. If she was able to use something to instill a good impression to her name, it would also make their conversation much easier.
“I heard from Mr. Junmin that there were very amazing actors in the makeup room. I just dropped by to say hello.”
Just mentioning Junmin’s name managed to change the expressions of the four people. This was why names were important.
“Are you talking about Director Lee Junmin?”
“Yes. Ah, I should introduce myself again. I’m Kim Suyeon, a hardworking actor. I’m working under Mr. Junmin.”
One of the men exclaimed lightly in recognition.
“Oh, the one from the TV miniseries...”
“Wow, you recognize me? Thank you! It’s my first time.”
This would be good enough for greetings. She had to be careful to not downplay herself, she couldn’t afford to let herself get looked down on by others. She needed to be humble, but not overly so.
“I’ve been enjoying your drama very much.”
When one person recognized her, the others started approaching her with a smile. This was why first impressions were so important. The gift she brought was very small, but it was also indicative that she prepared to meet the other party. Suyeon knew very well that this was very important in starting a good relationship.
“Thank you. Wow, I had no idea other actors were watching as well. It’s kind of embarrassing.”
People often feel charm not from a person’s good parts, but rather a person’s bad parts. The phrase “be humble” was honestly enough to describe everything about all human relationships. As long as she compliments the other side somewhat and leaves some room for herself to be complimented as well…
“Embarrassed? No way. You did very well.”
Suyeon smiled shyly one more time. She was already pretty much inside the room, but she didn’t make any motion to get further inside.
“Please, sit here.”
That was the cue she was waiting for. She didn’t think of sitting, of course. She knew very well that regardless of the situation, a surprise guest would only make people uncomfortable.
“No no, it’s fine, please keep talking. We can talk some other time when you’re not so busy. I’d definitely want some acting advice from seniors like you.”
“Haha, we’re not that skilled ourselves.”
Suyeon stepped backwards and bowed. These people were all in their mid-twenties and thirties. Despite that, she still bowed to all of them politely, even to the women. She actually needed to pay more attention to women, since they had a very good eye for judging each other. If she needed to put in 20% of her effort impressing the men, the other 80% of her effort would go to impressing the women.
“Ah, that bracelet looks great on you.”
She mentioned it on the way out, pretending as if she thought of it just now. The actress showed her bracelet with a shy smile, it was a bracelet made out of little dark stones. Honestly speaking, it didn’t fit the woman. Women with cat-like eyes, like her, were better accompanied with flashy accessories, such as gems. Of course, that was only something Suyeon thought to herself while making the compliment.
“Yeah, bracelets like that really don’t fit a person unless they have a thin wrist like you do. I tried it in the past, and oh dear, I could only sigh.”
“Why? I think it would look good on you, Ms. Suyeon.”
“No, not at all. I have a darker skin tone, so darker bracelets like that just don’t fit me.”
Suyeon stared at the bracelet for a bit before stepping back in surprise.
“I’m sorry, I must’ve wasted a lot of your free time.”
“Not at all.”
The men sat down as they bid their farewells and the actress that Suyeon complimented even walked her to the door.
“I’ll see you next time. With some alcohol, between us girls. How about it?”
Suyeon said her goodbyes multiple times after hearing the actress’ name. They were of the same age, so they should be able to get along nicely if they meet next time.
Suyeon turned around and sighed. Junmin probably told her to meet them for a reason. After all, that man always had a good reason for making her do things. That was one thing she really liked about him, he was efficient. Of course, what she felt was merely admiration without an ounce of romance. After all, he was one of the few people she decided to take up as a mentor. After meeting the actors, she headed downstairs. On the way, she ran into the director of the entire stage. He seemed to have a man around her age next to him.
“Oh, you’re leaving, sir?”
“Of course. By the way, actress Kim. You’re only getting prettier by day, aren’t you?”
“This is Mintae, my student. Treat him well if you ever end up working with him.”
After shaking hands with the man introduced to her as Yoon Mintae, she walked over to find Junmin. Junmin was looking at his notebook with a very concerned face.
“Why don’t you buy a laptop at this point? The recent ones are pretty light and slim.”
“If my thought wanders off before the laptop even loads, what am I supposed to do?”
“Isn’t it uncomfortable, just writing away like that?”
“Are you uncomfortable with breathing?”
“Gosh, I don’t know what to say if you’re coming at me like that.”
Suyeon handed Junmin a new notebook as she spoke. It was an expensive brand, made by an artisan in Italy. It was expensive, but Junmin was very deserving of a gift like this. The man gave it a glance before taking it from her hands with a smile. He looked at it here and there before putting it in his pocket with a nod. He must like it.
“It’s good, isn’t it?”
“Why wouldn’t it be good? You gave it to me after all.”
“Oh my, that’s a compliment, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is. Only that it was directed at the notebook, not you.”
Suyeon sat on Junmin’s other side, being with this man brought her peace. She didn’t need to put on a mask. That is, she didn’t need to act fake or be needlessly nice in front of him.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Just thinking of the old times. Wondering why you took in someone like me, and whatnot.”
“You should know that better than me.”
“You’re good at charming people. That’s an amazing skill. Charm is usually cultivated, but some people are born with it. I recognized that you were one such person, so I took you in.”
“Don’t you regret it? I heard some people have bad opinions of you because of this.”
“You’re talking about the men who feel like they lost because they got tricked by a woman? Why would I need to feel regret about that? If not by you, someone else would’ve come along and done the same thing anyways.”
Junmin closed his notebook and took off his glasses. Those glasses dangling on his neck couldn’t look sexier to Suyeon right now. Middle-aged men always had a certain charm to them.
“Just be careful not to break the law. There’s nothing wrong with a woman trying to take advantage of her gender. Whether you try to look like a slut or simply a beautiful woman is all up to you.”
“You’ve never thought of me as disgusting, teacher?”
“Did you ever think that way about yourself?”
“No, not at all. I’m just very good at manipulating people.”
“That’s enough, then. If men are creatures who use their strength to take women, then women are the ones who actually control the men. Men are drawn to beauty, the same way that women are drawn to power. It’s a natural thing. We were born this way and we’ll die this way.”
“Is that so?”
“Do what you want. But always make sure you can take care of it. If you cause too much trouble, I’ll cut you away immediately. Just like you have a talent for charm, I have a talent for severing relationships.”
“How cruel. If that’s the case, why do you raise so many dogs?”
“Because dogs love you back just as much as you love them. Humans, on the other hand, start rebelling against you if you show them love. If you treat them well, they treat you like an idiot. If you get mad at them, you’re a bastard. I’d rather be a bastard than an idiot. At least that way I can get some food on my table.”
“You’re way too cynical for someone who deals with people for a living, do you know that?”
“Of course I do. That’s why I have you around, because you’re useful.”
“Really? Just because I’m useful? Nothing else?”
“If I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t be telling you this to begin with. As long as you’re with me, I’m going to be kind to you.”
“Ew, sounds so cheesy.”
Suyeon laughed to herself loudly. This was why she couldn’t leave Junmin. This person gave her confidence, confidence that she would be able to thrive even if she were to throw her mask away.
“I’m going to ask you this one more time. Do you want to have dinner with me tonight? I know a great hotel.”
“I don’t eat anything too expensive. Go find someone else.”
“Wow, aren’t you picky.”
Suyeon stood up with a wink.
“Ah, by the way, the boy that’s under Ganghwan. Is that someone under you, too, Teacher?”
Junmin smiled even brighter than when he got the notebook when he said the name.
“Wow, he must be something else if you’re smiling that widely.”
“He definitely is, I still don’t know what he is. I’m even more excited by the fact that I can’t tell just how far he can go.”
“Hmm, is that so?”
“Are you thinking of playing around with him?”
“If you allow it.”
“It probably won’t work that easily.”
“He’s… a bit of a strange one.”
Junmin put on a mysterious look as he spoke.
“Mm, now you’re scaring me a little. I’m gonna give up.”
“You should meet him, though. It’ll be pretty fun.”
Junmin looked down at his notebook, indicating that the conversation was over. Suyeon bowed. She watched Junmin wave back before leaving the theater.
“Ah, Ms. Suyeon.”
It was the actress from before. Suyeon put on her mask again, approaching the actress with a smile on her face.
“What a coincidence. Would you like to go for a drink? Ah, do you drink?”
“A little bit.”
“What happened to the men from before?”
“We were all a bit busy, so we split up.”
“Ah, are you busy?”
“No, I’m free.”
“Good to hear. Let’s go!”
Suyeon locked her arms with the woman’s. She needed to be good at skinships if she wanted to be social. Judging from the actress’ reaction, the woman didn’t seem to hate it. In fact, she seemed to be welcoming of Suyeon’s friendliness.
“We’re the same age, aren’t we?”
“Should we drop formalities, then?”
And with this, a new connection was formed. Suyeon thought carefully about what she could get through this relationship as they walked down the street.
* * *
“Yes. You too.”
Maru started moving after seeing the car take off. Thanks to Ganghwan, he managed to get home with ease. The man told Maru that he was going to teach Maru a lot of things, but they ended up talking about girls instead because of Suyeon. Since men were always into pretty women, Maru just went along with the conversation all the way till now.
“Oh, you came back early today.”
His sister greeted him when he entered, she’s been treating him nicer recently. Did she get mature, or did she just give in after all the money he gave her?
“Ah, I gave Dowook that ginseng drink.”
“Heck yeah, he deserved it.”
“Hey, what’s with your language? I thought it was a gift.”
“But he didn’t take it. He must’ve drank it without even wanting to, so he totally deserves it.”
“You should try to be nicer.”
“I’m nice enough already.”
Bada grinned happily. How did such a bright girl get divorced? Maru realized once again how uncaring he was towards his family. He smiled bitterly, once again realizing that his parents weren’t all there was to it.
“I ate already.”
“I bought that already since I thought you haven’t eaten yet.”
His sister was pointing at a cup noodle on the table. Maru could only smile.
“I’ll eat it.”
He’d probably get scolded by her if he didn’t actually eat it. Plus, he did still feel a little bit hungry after the burger. As he stood around in the kitchen waiting for the water to boil, he got a message. It was from her.
[You didn’t feel lonely or anything without me, did you?]
Maru thought about sending a teasing message before changing his mind.
No response. But just thinking of her being happy at his message made him feel happy as well.
“Bro! The water’s boiling!”
But before anything, he should eat before his sister becomes cranky.Previous Chapter Next Chapter