On a warm, sunny day, Seo Yuhui stopped by a cafe near a college campus early in the morning. Though she did not have any plans of going out today, something had suddenly come up.
She would have refused and enjoyed a fun time with Seol Jihu, but she couldn’t reject the meeting request due to the special identity of the person calling her. After all, she thought it was something she had to do eventually.
Yoo Seonhwa, who was cleaning a table, greeted her with a bright smile.
“Take a seat. Can you wait just a moment?”
Seo Yuhui greeted back with a nod before sitting down at a table. Perhaps because it was early in the morning, the cafe was relatively empty.
Soon, an employee brought out warm tea, and Seo Yuhui looked around the cafe while drinking it.
‘So this is the new place she opened up….’
The decor was spotless and trendy as if it were a direct reflection of Yoo Seonhwa’s personality.
—But if you get mad~
A pop song was playing inside the cafe.
—You will scratch and hurt others~
‘Isn’t this a really old song?’
Seo Yuhui chuckled and subconsciously sang the song in her head.
At that moment…
—Nero, Nero, Nero~
Yoo Seonhwa walked past the table Seo Yuhui was sitting at.
Seo Yuhui became flustered. Not black cat, but what? Thieving cat?
—Nero, Nero, Nero~
She had not misheard. Yoo Seonhwa repeated it a second time.
Seeing the cheerfully humming Yoo Seonhwa, Seo Yuhui’s eyes narrowed. She wasn’t the type to take a one-sided beating. She immediately got up and walked over to the employee.
“Can I request a song?”
“Please. There’s a song that I want her… I mean, there’s a song that I want to hear.”
Pressured by Seo Yuhui, the employee nodded her head. Soon, a new song began to play in the cafe.
—You threw him away~
Yoo Seonhwa halted while cleaning a table.
—I comforted him~
When she slowly turned her head, she saw Seo Yuhui sitting in her seat and enjoying the song.
—That’s how I met him and fell in love with him~
Yoo Seonhwa’s head tilted. The smile on her face became thicker. For a moment, a spark of electricity crackled between them.
Tak. Yoo Seonhwa put down the rag, stomped over, and sat down on the opposite side. Seo Yuhui gave a bright smile.
“I thought you were busy.”
“No, I’m almost done.”
Yoo Seonhwa continued to smile as if losing it would mean admitting her loss.
“Also, I figured it would be better to get it over with before customers start flocking in.”
The way she said, get it over with, sounded somewhat menacing. Seo Yuhui shrugged as if she didn’t care.
“My Jihu’s quite cute, isn’t he?”
Yoo Seonhwa asked out of the blue.
“Yes, he’s adorable.”
Seo Yuhui retorted without a change in her expression.
“He’s been looking for me all the time and tries to stay with me always. It’s a worry, really.”
“I know what you mean. It must be affecting your daily lives.”
Yoo Seonhwa replied as if she had experienced it before.
“You just have to make him fall asleep. That’s what I usually did. It will be easy if you feed him until he’s full.”
The corner of Seo Yuhui’s lips curled up.
“I’ve tried feeding him and making him fall asleep, but he still sticks to me…. And whines if I try to move even a meter away.”
Meaning—that was how much Seol Jihu loved her.
Yoo Seonhwa did not bat an eye.
“You must not know.”
In fact, she struck back as if she was waiting for this very moment.
“That means he’s not fast asleep. He’s only sleeping lightly.”
“When it’s like this, it’s best to cover his eyes with your hand. That will help him fall asleep. Ever since he was young, Jihu’s had a habit of sleeping with his hand covering his eyes. And no, you can’t use an eye mask. It has to be a hand.”
Seo Yuhui sat dazedly at a loss for words.
“He’ll sometimes slap your hand off his eyes. When he does that, it’s best to leave him be for 30 minutes. It means he’s feeling super comfortable and would like to enjoy the feeling for a little longer.”
“If he doesn’t hit your hand off, he will most likely move his right leg, sweeping the floor like how a dog wags his tail. That’s when you can be relieved. It means, Ah~ I’m so drowsy~ I’m going to fall asleep like this~”
Seo Yuhui looked half-believing, half-distrusting, and also a bit speechless.
Sip. Yoo Seonhwa leisurely drank the tea that her employee brought over. After a brief moment of silence, she spoke up.
“Why don’t you tone it down a little?”
Yoo Seonhwa spoke after putting down the teacup.
“Haven’t you had enough fun?”
“No, not at all.”
Seo Yuhui snorted as if she was saying something absurd.
“I haven’t had enough. In fact, I’m still craving for more. Maybe I’ll be satisfied a hundred years later.”
Meaning—she had no intention of stopping for a century.
“It seems you have a huge misunderstanding about the relationship between Jihu and me….”
Yoo Seonhwa clicked her tongue.
“I’ve never thrown Jihu away.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“Breaking up? Yes, I’ve done that. Dozens of times, in fact. But the important thing is that Jihu always came back to me and that I always accepted him back.”
Yoo Seonhwa then added, “I’m sure it will be no different this time.”
“If you’re that confident…”
Seo Yuhui did not back down either.
“Shouldn’t you be talking to Jihu and not me?”
“Talking to Jihu won’t solve this problem.”
Yoo Seonhwa shook her head.
“I’m just worried that you will get hurt. Do you remember the conversation we had at the hospital?”
Seo Yuhui did remember.
[No one knows Jihu better than me. Jihu might not listen to his parents, but he listens to me.]
[Of course, it’s the same for me. The only man I listen to and the only man who knows me well is Jihu. We’ve grown accustomed to each other with how long we’ve been together.]
[The way we wanted each other to be.]
The corner of Yoo Seonhwa’s mouth curled up. Seeing this smile, Seo Yuhui felt an unknown sense of danger creep over. She felt like Seol Jihu would get stolen if Yoo Seonhwa really tried to have him.
“That’s all. I said what I wanted to say.”
Yoo Seonhwa got up.
“I’ll see you soon.”
‘Seol Jihu Ramen?’ was just as loud as always. Several people were lamenting the restaurant’s closed state while Seol Jihu was lying on Seo Yuhui’s lap with the attitude of, You guys bark. I’ll sleep.
Seo Yuhui stared fixedly at Seol Jihu as he wiggled around on her lap. Then, she stealthily put her hand over his eyes.
A comfortable moan escaped Seol Jihu’s mouth. His right leg went back and forth like a dog’s tail, sweeping the floor. Soon, when Seol Jihu began to breathe deeply, Seo Yuhui’s eyelids trembled faintly.
His reaction had been precisely how Yoo Seonhwa described it.
It was at that moment that Baek Haeju entered the restaurant. When she appeared, the women that were busy criticizing Seol Jihu all turned silent.
Kim Hannah also gazed at Baek Haeju with a look of nervousness. If even Baek Haeju could not solve this problem… then there was nothing else she could do.
Baek Haeju walked lightly and quickly, acting like she came to take what was rightfully hers.
Seo Yuhui embraced Seol Jihu tightly in defiance. Regardless, Baek Haeju stopped in front of the soundly sleeping Seol Jihu.
She folded her hands on her belly, bent down a little, and smiled.
“My Jihu, are you sleeping?”
When her gentle voice rang out, Seol Jihu flinched.
“You can’t sleep here. Open your eyes. You’re a good boy, right?”
She was soothing and comforting him. Seol Jihu’s eyelids trembled.
“Open your eyes and come here. Come with me.”
Soon, something mystical happened. Seol Jihu, who refused to budge no matter how many people talked around him, opened his eyes narrowly. As if guided by Baek Haeju’s voice, he slowly raised his head.
“Good. Good boy.”
Seo Yuhui hurriedly turned Seol Jihu’s head back.
“Stay here. You’ll be with me, right?”
A look of confusion spread across Seol Jihu’s face. With drowsy eyes, he looked back and forth between Seo Yuhui and Baek Haeju.
Baek Haeju snorted.
“My Jihu, you must be hungry.”
Baek Haeju changed her strategy.
“Do you want to go eat with me?”
“I know a place that has excellent pork galbi and naengmyeon~”
At that moment, Seol Jihu’s eyes shot open. His pupils sparkled as if Baek Haeju had just chanted a magic spell. It was so sudden that even Seo Yuhui was startled.
“Pork galbi and… naengmyeon…?”
“Yep, yep. You know the place too. We haven’t been there for a while.”
Seol Jihu gulped and showed signs of getting up.
Seo Yuhui became flustered. She did not know Seol Jihu was so into pork galbi and naengmyeon.
“I, I know a good place too.”
When Seo Yuhui quickly cut in, Seol Jihu’s ears perked up in interest.
Oho! Baek Haeju sneered.
“It won’t be as fun with just the two of us. Why don’t we invite your parents too? It’s been a while since we all went out for a meal.”
Baek Haeju immediately took out a new card.
“I want to see your parents, Jihu. Why don’t I take this opportunity to introduce myself?”
Seo Yuhui also chimed in.
Baek Haeju chuckled. She lowered her voice and whispered.
“You keep copying what I say…. How unsightly, Miss Yuhui.”
“I’m sure it’s not as unsightly as an ex that can’t forget about the guy she dumped.”
Seo Yuhui also struck back.
Baek Haeju’s eyebrows twitched.
It was then.
Along with a silvery shout, rose-gold-colored hair cut in between the two women.
“What are you two doing?”
The woman who separated Baek Haeju and Seo Yuhui was none other than Teresa.
“We should be asking what brings you here.”
Phi Sora picked at the reason for her presence.
“Me? I came to visit since I had business in Eva.”
“A meeting between Father and Charlotte Aria. It was boring, so I sneaked away~”
Teresa stared at the two women and licked her lips. She had a mischievous expression like a child who found an interesting new toy.
“What kind of a love fight is this? Are you writing a romantic comedy?”
After lightheartedly needling the two, Teresa put her hands on her hips.
“This is perfect. I’ll act as the mediator.”
“What do you mean?”
Phi Sora asked with a look of suspicion.
“There’s a saying—When in Paradise, do as the Paradisians do.”
“So, what are you implying?”
“Simple. Isn’t this a ramen shop?”
Teresa pointed at the floor.
“Jihu is the head chef, and the two of them are sous-chefs who help the head chef.”
“So the two of them should have a cooking competition!”
“And with a noodle dish too. The loser can back down. How about it?”
Phi Sora doubted her ears and blinked rapidly. Just as she was about to ask what nonsense she was on about…
“Miss Phi Sora, do you love Jihu?”
Teresa suddenly threw a hook.
“What are you talking about? Have you gone insane during the time you’ve been gone?”
“Then, the reason you’re mad is that you can’t eat Jihu’s ramen, right?”
“Y-Yes! That’s exactly it!”
“Then stop complaining and support me.”
Phi Sora was taken aback.
“...Why should I do that?”
“Think about it. Jihu has currently lost his passion for ramen.”
“But if he sees someone cooking it with all their heart and effort… maybe he will be able to regain his past passion.”
Phi Sora furrowed her brows. She wanted to say something in rebuttal but could not think of anything. Though stupid, it kind of made sense.
“...Argh, fine, do what you want.”
In the end, she gave up and stepped back.
“Good. Do the two of you have any problems with it?”
Teresa looked back at the two women and asked.
Seo Yuhui did not have any plans of accepting the duel, but when Baek Haeju gave her a sidelong glance, she immediately changed her mind. For some reason, Baek Haeju was extremely flustered.
“A, a noodle dish competition?”
On top of that, she showed a strong aversion to the words noodle dish.
Feeling confident, Seo Yuhui raised her hand in agreement.
“It’s almost time for lunch anyway. I’ll do it.”
Baek Haeju went, “Ah.”
“You can withdraw if you’re not confident, Miss Baek Haeju.”
Hearing this, she gritted her teeth. She was clearly frustrated.
Teresa grinned, almost like everything was going as planned.
“I want to join in.”
That was until Eun Yuri suddenly raised her hand.
“I want to join the competition too.”
“You didn’t say I couldn’t, right? And I can’t leave Oppa like this either.”
Eun Yuri announced gallantly.
“If I win, I will be taking Oppa away. He will have to make achievements with me. New achievements between a Warrior and a Magician that will surpass the contributions he made with a certain Priest.”
When Eun Yuri revealed her aspiration, Teresa showed signs of being in a tough spot.
“...I guess it can’t be helped. Hold on.”
She left the ramen shop and then brought a new guest in.
It was Haramark’s king, Prihi Hussey.
“Why did you bring him here?”
“Shh. I have a reason.”
Teresa hushed the questioner.
“I’d like to know as well.”
Prihi chimed in.
“She only told me I should grab lunch here while I was in Eva….”
After looking around the shop, he smacked his lips in discontent.
“It feels like I’ve been brought into a silent battlefield full of bullets and cannonballs.”
As expected of a king, Prihi was very quick-witted.
“Hoho, you’re hilarious, father. Come, take a seat. Hurry.”
Prihi tilted his head and sat down at a table next to Seol Jihu.
And so, a cooking competition administered by Teresa was held. The participants were Baek Haeju, Seo Yuhui, and Eun Yuri. The judges were Seol Jihu and Prihi Hussey.
The three women moved skillfully and focused on cooking. Given that they were making noodles, it didn’t take all that long for the dishes to be done.
Eun Yuri was the first to finish.
“Here. It’s done.”
Teresa took the bowl and flinched. After glancing at Seol Jihu, who was eagerly waiting, she walked over toward Prihi.
“Please have a taste and give your honest opinion.”
If you can, that is. Teresa murmured under her breath.
“My, my, I didn’t expect this from you.”
Prihi chuckled in happiness.
“To think you would take care of your father before your husb….”
However, he could not finish his sentence. It was because he saw the strange creature sitting on the bowl. Dozens of tentacles were stretching out of a sticky, black lump, wiggling left and right. It was like he was looking at a miniature Nest.
Prihi looked up at Teresa.
Teresa was tying Prihi with a rope.
“My dear daughter, what is the meaning of this?”
“I’m in the process of succeeding the throne, father.”
After successfully restraining Prihi, Teresa dug a fork into the lump and brought it up to his mouth.
“You ingrate! I knew I shouldn’t have raised a pink-haired vixen!”
Prihi struggled. However, it proved futile as Teresa shoved the fork into his mouth.
Prihi jumped into the air. Without exaggerating, he went up two full meters while still tied to the chair.
After dropping to the ground, Prihi convulsed without a sound. He jolted and twitched like a fish that was just hooked up from the ocean.
Eventually, his body went limp. Unless mistaken, a white, soul-like thing could be seen leaving his agape mouth.
[Eeeh? No! Don’t go!]
Flone had to hold him back from ascending to heaven.
“Whew, thank god.”
Teresa was satisfied to know she protected Seol Jihu.
“So, that was your reason….”
Phi Sora shuddered at Teresa’s wickedness. Who would have thought she would even sacrifice her own father?
“Sorry for the interruption, everyone.”
Teresa apologized earnestly before urging the competition to restart. The two remaining women went back to cooking.
The second person to get done was Baek Haeju. Finally, a proper dish came out.
“Oh, this is Hamheung-style naengmyeon?”
Seol Jihu couldn’t hide his awe after seeing the bowl Teresa brought.
“It’s hard to find places that can make proper Hamheung-style naengmyeon…. It’s been a while since I’ve last tried your dish, Haeju.”
Slurp, slurp. Seol Jihu slurped up the noodles once with his chopsticks.
Tak. It was exactly once.
He chewed on the noodles, savoring the flavor, and then put the chopsticks down. He nodded with an expressionless face. He did not make any comments. For some reason, Baek Haeju seemed extremely, extreeeemely relieved.
Finally, Seo Yuhui came in with her dish.
“This is Jinju-style naengmyeon. It’s my pride.”
“Jinju-style naengmyeon is…. No, I’ll give it a try first.”
Seo Yuhui looked as if she had already won. Seol Jihu had not touched Baek Haeju’s dish much. However, she was fully confident that he would eat her dish deliciously, just like always.
Of course, this thought was shattered into pieces exactly 10 seconds later.
Just like before, Seol Jihu put down his chopsticks after taking one slurp.
“Thank you for the meal.”
He even gave the finishing words to end the competition.
“So, who’s the winner?”
Teresa put her finger in front of Seol Jihu’s mouth like it was a microphone.
As everyone’s anticipation was reaching a new high…!
“They both tried hard.”
A disappointing reply came back. He spoke as if he didn’t put much meaning or expectation into this competition in the first place.
“Dear, you can’t be like this.”
Phi Sora stepped up again.
“This is a competition. You have to decide on the winner clearly.”
“Pardon? Paaaardon? Are you enjoying this situation right now?”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Then hurry up and do it properly. Can’t you see those two? They put so much effort into making their dish. Shouldn’t you at least give them a proper ans...wer?”
The tail end of Phi Sora’s speech went up. It was because she finally discovered Baek Haeju giving intense signals from behind Seol Jihu.
Baek Haeju was shaking her head crazily and waving her hands left and right. She looked too desperate for her to simply think, ‘What’s wrong with her?’
It was then.
Seol Jihu’s voice suddenly sank.
“They put a lot of effort into making these dishes. I should give them a proper answer. That is only right since I am the judge.”
Phi Sora blinked. The atmosphere around Seol Jihu had suddenly changed. He was self-reflecting with a serious face.
“Thank you for reminding me of that. I almost made a mistake.”
Seol Jihu lowered his head.
Phi Sora did a double-take. Now that she thought about it, she had seen Seol Jihu like this a few times before. For example, the first night they arrived in Eva….
“I will judge them again.”
Seol Jihu’s voice rang out. He leaned back on his seat and locked his fingers together. Putting on a heavy air, he even crossed his legs.
Staring at the two naengmyeon dishes, his eyes glinted fiercely.
The man sitting in that seat was no longer Seol Jihu.
It was the world-renowned celebrity and the first-rate chef with countless Michelin stars… Seoldon Ramsey.
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