Chapter 209

Jimin had worn a bikini, which revealed her slim figure, and paired it up with a cardigan. She walked past Sungyoon to reach Shinhae.

“The fish was over there?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s just look at the fish so that we don’t startle it. If we surprise it, the fish may become mad.”

“Yes!”

Shinhae firmly gripped Jimin’s hand, and they swam a bit forward to have a clear view. However, they stopped at an appropriate distance from the fish and submerged their heads into the water.

Whenever the fish changed their direction or speed, Shinhae would make an exclamation and laugh. On the other hand, Sungyoon looked a bit dejected, and he kept scratching his head.

“She stole Shinhae from you.”

A voice came from behind Sungyoon, and he turned around to see Jiyoon. Jiyoon had accompanied them on the trip at Jimin’s insistence. She had worn a very modest one-piece swimming suit today.

“Yes. She was stolen from me.”

“Their relationship really is like the relationship between a mother and daughter.”

‘Mother and daughter?’

For a brief moment, Miyun appeared in Sungyoon's thoughts. However, he quickly erased all traces of that thought.

However, the situation wasn't far from Jiyoon's words.

“I owe a lot to the President. This includes everything she has done for Shinhae. It isn’t an exaggeration to say the President is like another mother to Shinhae. There are no other ways to view it.”

“Is that so?”

Jiyoon discreetly stole a glance at Sungyoon’s face.

“Mr. Sungyoon, you look like a boy whose mother was stolen away from him.”

Sungyoon let out a bashful smile. Seeing that, Jiyoon also laughed.

After saying goodbye to the fish that traveled deeper into the ocean, Jimin and Shinhae looked around for more fish. However, they became surprised by the scene between Sungyoon and Jiyoon.

***

As the three adults and Shinhae played in the ocean, Emily, Grace, and Chelsea lay down next to each other and tanned their bodies. Chelsea had untied her bikini top, and she let the warm sun bathe her back. 

She pulled down her sunglasses and looked toward the ocean.

“He really doesn’t leave Shinhae even for a moment.”

A pout appeared on Chelsea's face. The two women beside her also looked toward the ocean.

“His daughter is everything to him.”

“Still, he should at least make an attempt to get along with others.”

Chelsea normally wore a stained lab coat and old-fashioned thick glasses. Today, she had gone out of her way to wear a bikini, yet Sungyoon was only focused on playing with Shinhae. 

Grace didn't know what else to say, so she just laughed. Unlike the other two, Emily's gaze toward the ocean contained a bit of envy.

“Those two really look like a married couple.”

Sungyoon had returned to Shinhae’s side. The little girl was now happily laughing and playing with Sungyoon and Jimin. Emily was gazing at this wholesome sight.

“They have a lot of history together.”

“Now that I think about it, Ms. Chelsea, you have been friends with the President for a while, right.”

“That’s right. And she was the one who introduced me to Mr. Sungyoon after he entered Jungbum.”

Chelsea's mind took her back to those days.

Sungyoon had been handsome, but a dark and dreary atmosphere used to surround him back then. A conversation with him would always be uncomfortable. Before him, all the Connectors who had joined Jungbum had screwed Jimin over. So Chelsea had seen him in an even more negative light at the start.

But the Sungyoon she was seeing right now had completely changed.

Unlike Emily and Grace, Chelsea's vision was ordinary, so she was unable to see Sungyon’s expression. However, she could tell that the dreary atmosphere that used to hang around him had lessened a lot over time.

‘Of course, he's still too brusque.’

In the end, Chelsea pouted once again.

“How was Mr. Sungyoon in the past?”

The shy Emily mustered her courage and asked. Grace looked interested in the topic too.

“I’m not sure. I don’t know too much about his past self. Even though I had met him early on in his career, he was a Connector who raided the labyrinth every day, and I was a researcher who was stuck in my lab all day. I’m pretty sure, Ms. Emily, you know more about him than me. You're with him in the labyrinth almost every day.”

Chelsea flipped the question on Emily, and Emily became flustered.

“A-after Mr. Sungyoon helped me, I just followed him around. There isn’t much to it.”

“Oh my! You don’t have to be so humble. You're our precious member who supports and heals us. We can enter the labyrinth without any fear because we have you, Ms. Emily.”

Emily’s face turned red at Grace's compliment. However, a small smile had appeared on her lips too.

“Anyway, are you sure it was ok to leave behind Mr. Tim?”

As Grace had said, Tim was nowhere to be seen.

Although the number of people going on the trip had increased, it was originally supposed to be a vacation for Sungyoon’s party. So Tim's absence was odd.

“He said he’d go somewhere else with his girlfriends. He's even thinking about marrying them. We had spent quite a while on the Moon this time, so he hadn't seen them for a long time. He probably wants to spend the vacation with them. It's understandable.”

“Is that so?”

Emily had spoken about it as if it were no big deal. Chelsea didn’t know much about Tim, so she just took Emily’s words at face value.

However, Grace thought differently. She was Tim's comrade, so she knew Emily’s explanation sounded a bit off. Tim almost worshipped Sungyoon, so there was no way he would turn down an opportunity to go on vacation with Sungyoon. 

However, Tim knew Sungyoon almost never spent time around women in his personal time. Sungyoon had no lovers, which made people think he swung for the other side.

‘He probably didn’t come here because of Ms. Emily and us.’

It turned out that everyone going on this trip had been a woman aside from Sungyoon and Tim. Moreover, all of them were interested in Sungyoon. Of course, this put Tim in an awkward spot. So he had decided to skip this trip with the expectation that something would develop between Sungyoon and the women.

“It's too bad that he couldn’t come with us. However, he's having fun, so we should too. Should we continue gossiping about our leader?”

The other two women were a bit dumbfounded by Grace’s words, but that expression only lasted for a moment, and they had a very fun conversation about Sungyoon.

***

“Ah~ Ahng~! Nyam!”

Shinhae ate the big piece of meat skewered on a stick.

The meat was grilled just now, so the juice ran down Shinhae’s mouth. While eating, Shinhae grabbed the cola bottle and drank its contents. The drink tickled her throat.

“So good!”

The little girl shook her head and laughed.

The sun had completed its job for the day, so it was setting behind the mountain. The Moon had appeared to take its place. The sky looked like black velvet studded with diamonds. And underneath this very beautiful night sky, Sungyoon’s party was having a barbeque.

The skewers had scrumptious meat and vegetable, and their delicious fragrance hit everyone's nose. Sausages and corn were also being cooked on the sides.

“Gulp! Gulp! Koo-ooh~!”

It had been a while since Chelsea could drink beer without worrying about the price, so she didn't hold back. She was already on her third beer.

Shinhae sat next to her. Her left hand held a skewer, and the right a coke bottle. She looked up at Chelsea with eyes full of excitement.

Soon, she started copying Chelsea and downed the coke.

“Koo-ooh~!”

When the coke was finished, she even made a sound similar to what Chelsea did. This made Chelsea uproariously laugh.

“Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! That was pretty good, Shinhae.”

Chelsea hugged Shinhae, and the little girl burst out laughing.

“… Ms. Jimin?”

“Why, I oughta!”

Chelsea’s behavior was a negative influence on the child’s education. So before Sungyoon could finish his sentence, Jimin moved toward Chelsea in a threatening manner. First, she put Shinhae in the care of Jiyoon, who was eating her food on the other side of Shinhae. Then, she glared at Chelsea.

Seeing her friend's sharp eyes fixed on her, Chelsea let out an awkward laugh and made up excuses.

Jiyoon didn’t like what she was seeing, so she made sure Shinhae couldn't see it as well. She cut off the little girl's line of sight to the two women and gave her a new plate of food.

“The President is really scary.”

Usually, Jimin was cold and calm; she was never flustered, no matter the situation. Whatever task was thrown at her, she silently finished all of them. She was the ideal career woman. So this version of Jimin surprised Emily.

“The President and Ms. Chelsea are old friends. They are on very familiar terms with each other.”

Sungyoon spoke as he flipped the skewers before the meat could burn. Then, Grace, who had been cooking the sausages by his side, took the opportunity to ask a question.

“I heard you're visiting someone tomorrow?”

“Yes. I purposefully scheduled the vacation here because I wanted to meet him. If it were only me here, I would've met him much sooner. However, I had to play with Shinhae, so I delayed it.”

In two days, the vacation would already be over.

“Who are you meeting?”

Emily was interested.

“He's a 1st Gen Connector like me, and a powerful one qualified to enter the Great Labyrinth.”

“Is this about the heartbeat you can hear?”

“Yes.”

Sungyoon subconsciously rubbed his heart. Emily and Grace looked worried. Sungyoon had been helped by an unknown power, and as of now, this power had only been beneficial. However, this could change in the future. It was the source of their worry.

Fear always came alongside the unknown.

“I hope you can find a clue this time around.”

“I really hope so too.”

As he responded to Emily’s words, Sungyoon looked at the sky full of twinkling stars.

***

A new morning arrived.

Sungyoon left Shinhae in the care of Jimin and Jiyoon and went to look for the 1st Gen Connector. Shinhae was a bit down when she learned that she would have to be separated from her father for a short time. However, she got over it soon since she was too busy having fun.

Of course, Sungyoon was both half-disappointed and half-relieved by Shinhae’s reaction. With those complicated emotions, he left for the road. Since Grace and Emily were Connectors, they decided to accompany Sungyoon. 

Soon, they arrived at a house with a front yard filled with palm trees. The house had been made with white bricks, and it looked to be straight out of a fairytale. Moreover, the ocean was not far from the house and could be seen clearly from here.

“This is a great location.”

“It really is. London is dreary all year round. I’m really envious of places like this.”

Emily and Grace kept looking at the picturesque house and scenery, while Sungyoon pressed the doorbell next to the front gate.

“Who is it?”

“I contacted you before. My name is Sungyoon Woo. Are you Adam Lee?”

“Ah. Please wait a moment." 

The gate soon opened, and Sungyoon’s party entered the front yard.

Click!

As they walked inside, someone opened the front door and exited the house.

“Welcome, Knight. I never expected to really meet you in person like this.”

A man with black hair and brown eyes welcomed Sungyoon.

“Ah. You came here with the Princess and your other party member. Please come in.”

On the outside, Adam Lee looked to be in his mid-twenties, and his voice sounded young too. However, the way he spoke and acted gave away the fact that he was old. From what Sungyoon knew, Adam Lee was over seventy years old.

The party followed the man into his house. There wasn’t much furniture inside the house, and it was only limited to the essentials. However, the furniture was placed in a strategic manner so that the house didn’t look empty.

Lee asked Sungyoon’s party to sit in the living room and went to bring coffee and biscuits.

“I’m sorry, Princess. I don’t have any black tea.”

“It’s fine. I like coffee too.”

Grace replied while displaying a small smile. She smelled the fragrance of the coffee.

The four of them exchanged small talk for a short amount of time. Sungyoon and his party members complimented Lee on his house and view, and Lee also showed a lot of interest in the man called the Knight.

After they got to know each other, Sungyoon brought up the topic he wanted to know most about.

“I came here today because I have a question I would like to ask you, Mr. Lee.”

“Yes, I know. You want to know about the heartbeat that we can hear?”

Lee's face, which had a pleasant expression until now, hardened in an instant.

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