“What do you mean? I don’t think I’ve seen a kid this cute since Jimin.”
“… I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a cute child.”
Jimin tried to prevent a blush from forming on her face as she weakly tried to protest. However, her mothers had started thinking about the past, and her protests were very powerless against them.
“What do you mean? You were so cute when you were little. When I saw you for the first time, I had thought that you were a little angel. Compared to my boring son...”
Hweeyoung conjured up memories of someone. She propped her chin up in her hand, as she spat out her grievance.
“You are blessed. He is reliable, so why are you complaining? It is better than being a playboy that stirs up trouble each time the wind blows.”
“What do you mean? I’d rather my son have a lively personality. He always says he has things to do, remains stiff, and never relaxes his eyes.”
A small spark passed between the gazes of the two women, and Jimin let out a bitter laugh again. She carefully moved away a little bit since she didn’t want to get pulled into their verbal sparring. However, there was a factor that got in the way of their argument.
“Thank you for the meal!”
While Jimin, Hweeyoung, and Aiin conversed with each other, Shinhae had continued to silently stuff pasta into her mouth. When she finished her meal, she put down her fork. The plate had some sauce at the bottom, but all the pasta was gone.
Shinhae extended her hands as she struggled to reach over the table. Her target was the napkin dispenser placed in the middle of the table.
Hweeyoung quickly moved the napkin dispenser in front of Shinhae. The little girl peered at Hweeyoung. Even though Jimin had vouched for Hweeyoung, there was still a slight wariness in Shinhae’s eyes. However, she did as she was taught, and bowed her head,
“Thank you, unni.”
Hweeyoung’s lips twitched each time she heard unni. It was as if the corners of her mouth were dancing.
After taking out a napkin from the dispenser, Shinhae wiped all the sauce around her mouth. Hweeyoung was about to ask if she needed anything more, when it happened.
Shinhae lightly jumped off from her chair.
“May I go play?”
Shinhae moved to Jimin’s side, and her eyes twinkled. Her eyes kept moving from Jimin to a different location. Hweeyoung and Aiin naturally looked towards where Shinhae was looking.
They caught sight of a children's indoor playground placed at the corner of the food court. There was a small plastic slide and several other rides. Children were already playing there.
“You shouldn’t run. Also, you have to be careful while you play. Ok?”
“Come back after you have some fun.”
“I’ll be back!”
After saying those words, Shinhae headed towards the playroom. She looked to be in a hurry, but she didn’t ignore Jimin’s words. She never ran and was careful to check her surroundings as she walked.
Hweeyoung and Aiin looked a bit surprised as they looked at Shinhae.
“She really reminds me of you when you were young.”
Aiin thought about the past as she spoke. Her son had caused all kinds of trouble when he had been Shinhae’s age, but Jimin, she had been like this little girl. She would listen to their words and did not cause any trouble.
“Are you sure she isn’t your daughter?”
A bit of suspicion could be heard within Hweeyoung’s question. She knew it was impossible, but this child's actions were very similar to the young Jimin.
“She really isn’t.”
Jimin was firm in her denial, so the suspicion in Hweeyoung’s eyes faded away. In the first place, she didn’t believe Shinhae was Jimin’s daughter. But just in case, she had to ask.
“Ok. Still, even if you make an accident, you should tell us. We will always be on your side.”
“How can you call it an accident! You always pick the worst words!”
“You never know what might happen in a person’s life!”
Jimin decided to think they were referring to speeding with a car when they referred to an accident. She replied quietly as the two women started verbally sparring once again.
“Yes. I understand.”
When Hweeyoung said she would always be on her side, Jimin could see the truth in Hweeyoung’s eyes. Neither of them was her birth mother, yet their love for her didn’t differ from the love given by a birth mother. Jimin decided to receive their words with a happy heart.
“So why are you at a department store? You don’t like coming to places like this.”
Hweeyoung looked up and down at Jimin’s entire body. As always, she was wearing a black suit. A bitterness appeared in Hweeyoung’s eyes when she saw this.
It was direct proof that Jimin wasn’t over Jungbum’s death yet.
Jimin wore a suit every day, but it really wasn’t her taste in fashion. Before Jungbum’s death, she never used to wear drab and colorless suits. In fact, her taste in fashion was closer to Hweeyoung’s taste. She used to wear bright and cheerful clothes. But ever since her father died, the black suit had always surrounded her body.
She was wearing funeral black. She couldn’t forget her father’s death, and she had descended to a cold and dark place in her heart. The black suit reflected the state of her heart. Hweeyoung and Aiin wanted Jimin to lose the black suit as soon as possible. However, her heart remained trapped in her funeral black.
“I wanted to buy Shinhae some clothes.”
Jimin spoke as she watched Shinhae play in the indoor playroom. The girl was coming down the slide, when she met eyes with Jimin. Shinhae gave a big wave, and Jimin responded with a small wave. A light smile appeared on Jimin’s lips.
It wouldn’t be strange to say she looked like a mother looking at her child.
“You said her name is Shinhae? What kind of relationship do you have with her? Even if you value an employee, it is a bit weird for you to take his kid around like this.”
Hweeyoung asked a series of questions.
“She is similar to me.”
“Yes. I would say our home environment is similar.”
“… I see.”
The light in Hweeyoung and Aiin’s eyes changed. Until now, they had only looked at Shinhae as a cute child. However, after Jimin's words, their eyes became full of empathy and sympathy. She came from a similar home environment as Jimin. Of course, it meant Shinhae hadn’t lived an easy life.
Hweeyoung and Aiin had the same thought.
“It felt as if it was part of my affairs when it came to her. So, I decided to take care of her while her father is on the Moon.”
“What about her mother? You said she comes from a similar home environment, so I’m guessing the problem is with the mother?”
Jimin nodded. Aiin, who had asked the question, grabbed her head in pain.
“Please take care of her. She is so young. How awful!”
Aiin once again looked towards Shinhae, who was playing in the playroom with a bright smile on her face. Suddenly, she spoke up.
“Come to think of it, did that woman pester you again?”
It was a vague word, but all three of them knew who she was referring to. Those ambiguous words were enough. Hweeyoung openly expressed her disgust.
“Why did you have to bring up that bitch? You are going to bring us bad luck.”
“I didn’t intend to bring it up. However, you know her personality. It is about that time when she starts approaching Jimin. Even if she did see that woman, Jimin wouldn’t say anything, because she doesn’t want us to worry.”
“You have a point.”
Aiin was pretty persuasive. Hweeyoung looked towards Jimin for an answer.
She wondered if they already knew about what her mother was up to. Jimin let out a sigh.
“I met her not too long ago.”
“I knew it.”
Aiin spat out her words as if she was displeased.
“You didn’t go looking for her, right?”
“Of course not. She came to my office.”
If Ahjung was here, Hweeyoung would have pulled her hair and would have knee kicked Ahjung in the face. Hweeyoung raged. Aiin looked calm, but there was a fire burning in her eyes. One should not mistake her for being calm.
“What did she say?”
Aiin’s voice sounded like the cold northerly winds when she asked the question.
“She said she’ll introduce me to a man. She said I should marry him.”
Jimin was a bit surprised. It was very rare for a cuss word to come out of Aiin’s mouth.
“She is trying to pull off some bullshit plan again.”
This was a familiar sight. Hweeyoung had a lively and capricious personality. She was someone that used quite a lot of cuss words.
“If that bitch does anything that inconveniences you, you shouldn’t hesitate to tell us. Understood? This time I will pull out all her hair.”
Hweeyoung showed a fiery spirit. It seemed she really wanted to make her words into reality.
Whenever the topic of her birth mother came up, Jimin always got a headache. However, she was able to let out a light smile this time. She was once again feeling how much her step mothers treasured her.
As much as she felt their love, she was also sad at the fact that they weren’t her real mothers.
“I forgot to ask you something important.”
Hweeyoung, who had been bad-mouthing Ahjung for a while, asked Jimin a question.
“What about your new employee? What kind of person is Shinhae’s father?”
They should have asked Jimin about her employee earlier. They only knew he had a daughter. Their conversation got sidetracked, so they weren’t able to ask more about the man. They knew about Jimin’s past employees, that they had been trash. This was why this question had to be asked.
When asked the question, Jimin thought about Sungyoon.
He was blunt and gloomy. At first glance, he wasn’t someone one wanted to get close to. But despite his flaws, he worked hard to keep promises, and above all else, he really loved his daughter. However, her mothers weren’t asking for these answers. They would probably never meet him, so she gave a single sentence answer.
“He is a good person.”
That was enough. Any more explanation would be a distraction.
Hweeyoung and Aiin observed Jimin for a moment. They simultaneously smiled at the same time.
“That’s a relief.”
At Aiin’s words, Jimin let out a small smile as she nodded.
* * *
After taking a deep breath, he tensed his body. He planted his body in front of the large shield, looking like a sturdy mountain.
The horn of the charging monster impacted Tim’s shield.
Tim let out a small grunt, and his body was pushed back a little bit. This was evidence of the enormous power behind the monster’s charge. However, Tim’s defense didn’t break.
Sungyoon popped out from behind Tim, and he took a big swing with his mace. His attack was buffed through reinforcement magic. His mace hit the large rhinoceros-looking monster with red skin on its back.
One could tell just by the sound that it was a serious blow. The concave spine of the Bloody Rhino broke, and it cratered inwards.
It thrashed its head in all directions. Sungyoon hurriedly took a step back. He didn’t want to get entangled. Tim also took a step back as he observed the monster’s movements.
It slowly stopped thrashing. It was used to the pain now, and it wanted revenge against those that gave him the pain.
However, the party had been waiting for this moment.
When the Bloody Rhino calmed down a little bit, Tim ran in again. He bashed its head with his large shield.
A deafening roar rang out. The Bloody Rhino had just calmed down, yet it started to thrash once again. It seemed to be losing consciousness as its movements weakened.
This time Tim swung his ax as he kept his shield up. The ax embedded itself in the Bloody Rhino's head, and blood sprayed into the air.
The monster thrashed again in pain. However, once again, Tim had retreated. The Bloody Rhino had blood running down its head as it glared at Tim. Its frightening red eyes were filled with hate. However, Tim wasn’t scared. In fact, he had been waiting for this moment, the moment when the monster’s attention would solely be on him. At this time, Sungyoon once again closed the distance.
He gripped his mace with both hands and swung it with all his might towards its head.
The Bloody Rhino’s head cratered, and both its eyes popped out of its sockets.
The enormous body lost all its strength as it fell to the floor. Its tongue protruded from its open mouth as it drowned within its own blood. The Bloody Rhino had died a gruesome death, and one couldn’t feel its life energy anymore.Previous Chapter Next Chapter