After placing the newly acquired divinities inside the temple storage, Seol Jihu returned to Earth.
His room, which he hadn’t seen in a long time, had been cleaned very thoroughly, he assumed, either by Kim Hannah or Yoo Seonhwa.
Seol Jihu smiled bitterly, recalling how he threw and kicked everything he could lay his hands on when he first woke up from his death in Paradise.
‘I should thank Mister Hao Win.’
If Hao Win hadn’t taken him to the hospital, Seol Jihu might really have jumped out the window that day.
Vowing to repay him later, Seol Jihu picked up his cell phone from the desk.
The time was around 6 p.m.
Only a few days had passed in Earth time since his discharge from the hospital, and he felt fortunate that time passed differently in the two worlds.
There were no missed calls from his family, just two text messages from his mother and brother asking how he was doing.
It seemed that Yoo Seonhwa’s explanation had worked well enough to settle their concerns.
And then there was the text from Yoo Seonhwa.
It was the explanation she gave everyone that Seol Jihu had regained some of his memories and was traveling with her to the place in his memory for further recuperation.
Yoo Seonhwa had already talked to the hospital, and she needed him to tell the same story. The text ended with her urging him to delete this message after he was done reading it.
His family wouldn’t have allowed his friends or coworkers, whom they didn’t know very well, to take their son and brother, but Yoo Seonhwa was like their family.
They trusted her and were comfortable with the idea of her accompanying Seol Jihu.
The only surprising thing about the text was that it came from Yoo Seonhwa.
Had she still wanted to hide her identity, she would have told him that she’d heard it all from his ‘acquaintance’ and only did as she was told to do, hoping he would get better.
‘I knew it.’
As he had expected, she no longer seemed interested in keeping her identity secret.
‘Anyway, so this is what’s been happening on Earth.’
Seol Jihu started right away.
First, he called Yoo Seonhwa and decided to meet up with her.
After joining her, he called his mother.
His mother answered the phone even before the first ring ended.
“Yes, Mother, it’s me. Yes, yes, I’m fine now. No, I’m not lying. I’m with Seonhwa right now.”
Seol Jihu walked toward his parents’ house, trying his best to sound cheerful.
His mother was waiting for him in an alley near her house.
Tears welled up in her eyes as soon as she saw Seol Jihu walking up in her direction with Yoo Seonhwa by his side.
Seol Jihu licked his lips when his mother took him in her arms, crying. He had seen too many tears lately.
‘It’s all my fault.’
He knew she had been worried about him, and of course, he was grateful for her concern, but he couldn’t help feeling down.
He wanted to see his loved ones smile rather than cry.
To make his wish come true, he could not afford to make the same mistake again.
Seol Jihu consoled his mother, and they headed inside the house.
His brother and Yoo Seunghae were waiting for him inside.
Surprisingly, his father was there, too.
He sat in the chair at the head of the dining table with his arms folded across his chest and a solemn look on his face.
Seol Jinhee had yet to return from school.
“Are you okay?”
“How do you feel? Are you really fine now?”
As soon as Seol Jihu sat down, he was bombarded with questions.
With a smile, he began to answer them one by one.
“Yes, I’m fine. In fact, even while I was in the hospital, I could feel some of my memories slowly coming back….”
He was able to answer them fluently because not only were these questions well within his range of expectations, but he had also already answered them a dozen times during Valhalla’s welcome party.
But of course, he couldn’t be 100% honest. Also, because it sounded too unrealistic that all his memories suddenly returned after one trip, Seol Jihu decided to improvise with a better story.
He checked his father’s reactions from time to time as he spoke. Fortunately, his father listened quietly without objecting.
“Wait, so your memory hasn’t come back completely?”
“Yeah, but that’s how the brain works in the first place. Even you can’t remember what you had for lunch last month, Hyung.”
“Me? I probably had a bowl of rice with some soup and side dishes. I always have the same thing for lunch.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Seol Jihu glowered, and Seol Wooseok chuckled.
“I’m just kidding. I get it.”
“There’s still some stuff I can’t remember about Sinyoung… but I think that might be for the best.”
“Yes, I think that’s better for you. You might get stressed out again if you remember….”
His mother agreed, and Seol Wooseok seemed convinced as well.
Seol Jihu thought the rooftop incident would surely come up in their conversation, but it didn’t.
While his family might be avoiding the topic on purpose, he thought it was more plausible that Yoo Seonhwa made sure that Seol Jinhee kept her mouth shut.
“Jeez, what am I doing? Jihu, you’re hungry, right?”
As their conversation neared its end, his mother headed for the kitchen.
Seol Jihu could see that she was about to prepare a meal as she had always done when he visited home, and hurriedly got to his feet.
“We don’t have to eat at home. We should go out to eat.”
Seol Jihu led his hesitant mother outside, saying they should go out to celebrate his recovery.
From the start, he had planned to treat his family to a nice dinner as an apology for making them worry so much and also as a token of gratitude for taking care of him.
Seol Jihu took his family to their favorite restaurant and ordered a plate full of pork ribs. He also emptied two bowls of cold noodles on top of that.
Just as the dinner was ending, Seol Jihu’s father began to speak.
“What are you going to do? Are you going to stay?”
Seol Jihu straightened his posture at the low voice.
“No, I’m going to resign.”
“…Is that so?”
He thought his father sounded a little relieved, but he could be mistaken.
“Yes…. With everything that’s happened recently, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to keep going to work.”
“Right. Sinyoung is all over the news these days.”
Why wouldn’t it be? Sinyoung’s executives, whom Yun Seora had personally executed, were probably all showing symptoms by now.
And then there was the suicide incident….
It still angered him that Yun Seohui almost tricked him.
How could she still be like that, when neither she nor Seol Jihu had any memories of the past?
“First it’s their eldest daughter, and then their former chairman, too…. What is wrong with that family?”
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.
It just so happened that the TV on the restaurant’s wall was broadcasting news about Sinyoung. He saw Yun Seora on the screen.
But Seol Jihu’s mother quickly grabbed the remote and changed the channel.
“Do you have to talk about that? It’s not exactly a laughing matter.”
His mother snapped, and his father coughed in slight embarrassment.
“I already told them I wanted to quit. The company didn’t stop me. In fact, they said they’d make up for the accident as much as possible.”
“Of course. They've already got so much on their plate; they don’t want a new problem…. But you still have to be careful.”
He knew what his father meant, but there was nothing to worry about.
Sinyoung would never again have as much influence in Paradise as it did in the past.
As long as Yun Seora was the representative, Sinyoung would form an alliance with Valhalla or even come under Valhalla.
“What are you going to do after you quit your job?”
“I was going to take a break. I have to go to the hospital for some follow-up appointments, and… I’m going to be traveling.”
“Yeah, just quit it. I haven’t liked them ever since you told me you work overtime every day to pay off your debts…. As Mother said, you shouldn’t be putting yourself under that kind of stress.”
Seol Wooseok chimed in.
His father returned to being silent. He began stuffing his face with pork ribs and cold noodles, which he had barely touched until then.
Nothing noteworthy happened after that.
The Seol family returned home. They had some fruit for dessert and chatted some more.
Seol Jihu thought it was time for him to leave.
He worried that the pleasant atmosphere would be ruined when Seol Jinhee arrived home.
But once he saw his mother roll out a futon, he couldn’t bring himself to say goodbye.
“Just stay. Jinhee’s busy with school, so we hardly see her these days.”
“Wooseok Oppa’s right. And even if she comes home, what can she do? I’m sure Seonhwa Unni will take care of her.”
Seol Wooseok and Yoo Seunghae made it harder for him to leave.
Seol Jihu slept in his parent’s house for the first time in a long time.
The futon was warm throughout the night.
The next day’s morning dawned.
Seol Wooseok stopped Seol Jihu, who was about to depart after a hearty breakfast.
“Come with me for a moment. It’ll only take a second.”
Seol Wooseok grabbed Seol Jihu and dragged him up the stairs.
“Remember that laptop you brought a while ago? The one that Jinhee threw.”
“Oh, that? That wasn't a laptop, that was an ultrabook."
“Yes, well, that’s expensive, right?”
Seol Jihu nodded. He remembered that it cost about 3 million won.
“The truth is I’ve been using it all along.”
“Jinhee said she didn’t need it, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.”
Seol Wooseok stopped in front of Seol Jinhee’s room.
“So I’ve been using it, but recently it disappeared without a trace.”
Seol Wooseok whispered quietly, then smirked.
He told Seol Jihu to wait and swung the door open to Seol Jinhee’s room.
Through the crack in the door, Seol Jihu saw his sister sprawled across the bed, sound asleep.
“Hey, wake up.”
“…What? What do you want….”
Seol Jinhee opened her eyes only slightly and mumbled in a sleepy voice.
“The trip seemed to have done him some good. He left after breakfast, and it looked like he was doing well.”
“I just thought you should know.”
Seol Wooseok said, and Seol Jinhee furrowed her brows.
“Okay…. Get out of my room now…. I came home late last night, and I’m so tired….”
“Alright, go back to sleep. Ah, that’s right.”
Seol Wooseok grabbed the ultrabook from Seol Jinhee’s bag before leaving.
“I’m taking this with me.”
“Mm? What do you…. What the?”
Seol Jinhee’s voice shot up a notch.
“Why are you taking that?”
“Because it’s mine. I should ask you the same question. Why did you take my laptop?”
“Are you insane? How is that yours? Jihu Oppa gave it to me, so what are you talking about?”
“But you said—”
“Give it back!”
Thud! Seol Jihu heard the sound of a scuffle.
“You said you didn’t want it!”
“Get out! Did you come here just to annoy me so early in the morning?”
Seol Jinhee snatched the ultrabook from Seol Wooseok’s hand and proceeded to kick her brother out of the room.
The door slammed shut.
The kick made Seol Wooseok stumble, but he was clearly holding back his laughter.
He turned his gaze to Seol Jihu, who was standing near the wall, and then eyed the door. ‘Did you see that?’ He seemed to be asking.
Seol Jihu smiled bitterly.
“When you come over next time, get her a little gift or something. I wonder how she’ll react.”
Seol Wooseok said with a playful cackle and walked down the stairs.
Seol Jihu and Yoo Seonhwa left the Seol residence after exchanging goodbyes.
Seol Jihu originally planned to take Yoo Seonhwa to a nearby coffee shop for a talk.
But he stopped as soon as he stepped outside.
His father was waiting for him next to the car.
“Are you heading home?”
“Pardon? Ah, yes.”
“That’s okay. I’ll just take a taxi….”
But his father had already shut the door and was now starting the car.
Yoo Seonhwa giggled softly and pointed at the passenger seat before she climbed into the back seat.
The car started with a loud roar.
Seol Jihu was tense with worry, but the silence didn’t last long.
His father began to speak as the car moved forward onto the road.
“Even when you lost your memory, you didn’t gamble.”
Seol Jihu flinched in surprise, and then glanced at the back seat.
Yoo Seonhwa shrugged, pouting her lips cutely.
“Jinhee told me.”
“Anyway, your decision is wise.”
His father continued as he turned the steering wheel.
“Wooseok is right. You’re always bound to get stressed at work, but once it starts affecting your health, it becomes a completely different story.”
Seol Jihu got the feeling that his father wanted to praise him for quitting gambling but changed the subject at the last minute because he was just too shy.
“You should always prioritize health. I mean, you’ve already paid off your debts.”
Seol Jihu nodded quietly.
“Also, about Jinhee.”
Seol Jihu’s head stopped moving.
“You should pay more attention to her.”
“She was the last person in our family to trust you. Naturally, her sense of betrayal is greater than ours.”
Seol Jihu clamped his mouth shut.
“You know well that Jinhee pretends to be tough, but she really isn’t.”
“It will take more than one or two apologies. But you should reach out to her until she decides to forgive you.”
‘If what you told us before is really true.’
His father added quietly.
“…In order to do that.”
He threw a quick glance at the passenger seat and continued.
“You’ll have to come home more often.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes shot wide open.
Doubting his ears, he turned his gaze to the driver’s seat with a dazed look.
“Well… I don’t think it will take a lifetime.”
His father was looking at the side-view mirror, even though he didn’t have to.
“But for now, focus on your treatment, go on a trip, and cool your head. I’m sure Jinhee will understand that much.”
Seol Jihu scratched his head.
But soon, he answered brightly, with a small smile on his face.
A faint smile spread across his father’s lips too.
The car moved swiftly across the road like a boat sailing before the wind.Previous Chapter Next Chapter