Side Story 31. A Small Miracle

Pushed outside Building 101, the brother and sister duo stood still for a long time. Seol Jihu dropped his head and sighed while Seol Jinhee looked a little taken aback.

He had received unexpected help from his neighbors and planned on making full use of it.

“Are you satisfied now?”

Seol Jihu spoke as he loosened his tie.

“I hope you’re happy. I got on their blacklist thanks to you.”

Seol Jinhee averted her gaze, searching for a hole to crawl into. She had nothing to say.

“Well, don’t worry about it too much.”

Seol Jihu stuffed his tie into his pocket and smirked.

“I was going to barge in there again anyway.”

“....”

“Chief Manager Chun told me to. I don’t care! Get them to agree even if you have to visit them at home! I told him it was rude and difficult, yet…”

“Chief Manager Chun…. You mean the bossy old man that was hard on Oppa yesterday?”

Seol Jinhee asked quietly. She was referring to him as ‘oppa’ again.

“He’s not that old, but yeah. He always tells me to pull off a miracle with the spirit of a businessman. I don’t know which era he came from….”

Seol Jihu retorted appropriately while breathing a sigh of relief inwardly.

It wasn’t as if he was without worries. First, it was now more difficult to enter SY Apartments. With the way he was kicked out, he couldn’t just enter the place as he pleased, as if he lived here. Seol Jinhee might be hiding somewhere and watching him!

Second, he hadn’t regained Seol Jinhee’s trust quite yet. By the looks of it, Seol Jinhee seemed to be shaken. But given her Kim Hannah-like personality, she must be holding onto a sliver of suspicion. But now that she was on the verge of completely trusting him, all he needed was one final push.

It was then.

—Then allow me to help you.

A low, middle-ranged voice rang out in his head. Seol Jihu raised his head in surprise.

‘This voice...!’

Bzzz! At that moment, his phone vibrated. After picking up the phone in a hurry...

—Are you mad!?

Seol Jihu flinched again at the sudden yelling.

—Just what the hell have you been up to? Why am I getting calls from our potential business partners in the middle of the night!!

Kim Hannah yelled angrily. Seol Jihu stammered, not knowing what to say.

—You should have shut up and come back once they said no! Why the hell did you bother them again!?

From the sound of it, Kim Hannah seemed to have found out what happened.

‘How?’

The most likely possibility was that his neighbors contacted Kim Hannah. But it was also hard to believe that they explained the situation in such a short amount of time.

‘But then again, if it’s Miss Goh Yeonju…. No, that’s not what’s important right now.’

Though he had some questions, Seol Jihu decided to play along for now.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that Chief Manager Chun told me to get a deal no matter what….”

—Don’t you know that old man just likes to talk big? Try saying that in front of him! I’m sure he’ll say he never gave such an order!

Seol Jihu glanced at Seol Jinhee in the middle of the call. Seol Jinhee was looking at Seol Jihu with her eyes wide open. She seemed to have heard everything. Of course, Kim Hannah was purposely speaking loudly to make her hear.

—You better brace yourself before coming to work tomorrow. Wash your hands since you’ll be rubbing them together all day to apologize!

“Manager Kim.”

—That’s it. See you tomorrow. Just so you know, don’t think this matter will end with a simple report. I am warning you.

Tk. The call ended abruptly. Then…

—Don’t look too surprised. Your sister is watching you.

A soft voice rang out in his head. It was Kim Soohyun’s voice.

—I will send someone down soon. You will get another call before then. They’ll know what to do, so you just have to play along. As for who that person is going to be….

Seol Jihu tried hard not to look suspicious, but it wasn’t so easy with a voice ringing in his head with nobody else around.

—You will get a call in about 20 seconds. What are you doing? Your sister is staring at you because you’re too quiet. Actually, this is good. Glance toward the apartment building a little regretfully and then turn around and start walking away….

Kim Soohyun gave acting instructions like he had become a movie director, and Seol Jihu followed along. After looking at Building 101 with a look of, ‘I screwed up an important business meeting because of you,’ he heaved out a heavy sigh and turned back.

Glancing to the side, he saw Seol Jinhee, who was biting down on her lower lip. She was fidgety like she had just committed a crime. Her reaction being different from when she barged into the company was clear proof that her suspicion was disappearing.

—Alright, this looks like a good time to tell her not to worry about what happened. Don’t forget to say it with a meek smile.

“I’m okay. Really.”

Seol Jihu gave a meek smile.

—Your voice should be weaker.

“Let’s go…. It’s late….”

Then, after he took a few more steps, his phone vibrated like he was informed earlier.

—Is this you?

A somewhat arrogant voice flowed out. He had never seen the number nor heard the voice before.

—Where are you now?

“I’m still in front of Building 101.”

—Good. Wait right there.

The call ended. Seol Jihu put on his tie again, following Kim Soohyun’s order, and tidied up the hem of his clothes.

After a short wait, a woman wearing a strawberry-print pajama walked out. Her gait and the shape of her eyes gave off an air of eloquence, but her blank expression made her look like a classic klutzy beauty.

“...Eh?”

Seol Jinhee, who was at a loss for what to do, widened her eyes. It couldn’t be helped. Though the woman who walked out was dressed funnily, she was a famous internet celebrity who was well-known among the beauty community.

She was Beauty Vivian’s CEO, Vivian La Clasidus.

“Looks like you were scolded quite a bit.”

Vivian lifted her chin after approaching Seol Jihu with heavy airs.

“You should have thought twice before being so reckless. Did it never cross your mind that going to someone’s house after work hours is rude?”

“I’m sorry. I apologize sincerely.”

Seol Jihu bowed.

“It’s fine. I didn’t come down to hear an apology.”

Vivian spoke with swagger and then threw him a box. Seol Jihu received it unwittingly.

“As you can see, it’s my company's product.”

Vivian continued.

“Of course, it’s not a new product but an old one. It’s actually the first product we made.”

Vivian’s explanation was as follows: People believed all of Beauty Vivian’s products were great hits, but that wasn’t the truth. There was a time when Beauty Vivian had not taken the market preference into account and had trouble.

“It’s not like they didn’t sell at all… but the customers’ reactions were so-so. We were full of expectations, so it came as quite a bit of shock. I guess you can think of it as our sore spot.”

With that, Vivian glanced at Seol Jihu.

“Do you know why I gave you a sample of that?”

“No, not at all.”

“To give you a scolding.”

Seol Jihu blinked.

“I’ve heard about you, Seol Jihu. You’re pretty skilled, are you not?”

Seol Jinhee’s jaw dropped. Someone as famous as Vivian La Clasidus had heard of her older brother’s name?

“I acknowledge your abilities. Your passion and boldness even moved me a bit. But that’s that, and this is this. I have my position to think about, so I can’t just give in so easily.”

Vivian crossed her arms.

“If you really want our product, then try selling this.”

In other words, she was giving him a test. She would reconsider if he managed to turn a failed product into a success.

“Take this with you if you have the confidence. Otherwise, leave.”

Seol Jihu smiled.

“Thank you! Thank you so much!”

Vivian’s eyes widened.

“Oh? You truly want to try?”

“Yes, I do. I will make sure it’s a huge success.”

“It won’t be easy, you know. I don’t know if you know, but I have strict standards.”

“Of course, I know. You’re famous for it.”

“That’s not all. You’ll have to come to see me every morning, afternoon, evening, and even night. As the contract winner, you will have to come whenever I call you. You might even have to show up on my streams. You’re saying you can meet this demand?”

Ah, so this is how she’s setting up a reason for me to come here. Seol Jihu inwardly gasped in astonishment.

“Of course.”

Seol Jihu grinned.

“If I can meet all of your demands and even bring this project to a success above your expectations…”

He tightly held the box containing the product sample and continued.

“Then I’m sure you will entrust us with an even better product next time.”

“Hoh….”

Vivian exclaimed quietly. The corner of her lips twitched as she was clearly holding in her laughter. It wasn’t surprising, given that she must have been forced to play this role out of nowhere.

‘Don’t make it so obvious.’

“Alright.”

Vivian turned around, seemingly having read Seol Jihu’s mind.

“Do what you want.”

“Once again, thank you.”

“Next time, don’t barge in and give me a heads up. I’m sure you’ll be making hundreds of trips here in the future.”

Leaving those words behind, Vivian disappeared into Building 101.

“Whew, I thought it was over.”

Seol Jihu sighed as he wiped the sweat forming on his forehead.

“Thanks. It was all because of you.”

He gave a thumbs-up to Seol Jinhee, who was standing blankly on the side.


*


On the way back, the brother and sister were dead silent. It wasn’t until they went out the main gate that Seol Jinhee took out her phone and broke the silence.

“Yeah, it’s me. Thank you for helping me today. I’m done, so you can bring the car over to the main gate.”

Seol Jihu looked at her with a questioning gaze.

“I told her to wait at the rear gate after seeing Oppa go in.”

“Oh, you mean your friend who left with your clothes?”

“...Yeah, since you could have left through the rear gate….”

Seol Jihu was in complete astonishment at his younger sister’s meticulousness.

Soon, Seol Jinhee’s car came to the front door.

“Hello, Jihu Oppa! Do you remember me by any cha….”

A young woman greeted him while hopping off the car, but Seol Jinhee chased her off, saying that she would call her back soon. Seol Jinhee then got into the driver’s seat and looked back at Seol Jihu.

“Get in.”

“I’m okay.”

“I’m not okay, so get in. I’ll drive you back home.”

Seol Jihu didn’t reject a second time. Once he got inside the car, silence descended again. Neither the brother nor the sister said a single word.

Seol Jihu looked for opportunities before sneaking in a question.

“By the way, don’t you like make-up?”

“?”

“How many do you want? It’s Beauty Vivian’s product.”

“...No…. I’m okay….”’

Seol Jinhee murmured while shaking her hand. Seeing how she glanced at the box, it seemed like she did want it.

“I’ll give you a few samples. Give them a go.”

Seol Jihu opened the box and took out a handful of samples.

“I told you, I’m fine.”

“Don’t say that. Give some to your friends too and give me feedback.”

He stuffed the samples down Seol Jinhee’s pocket. Seol Jinhee was very obviously uncomfortable with Seol Jihu going so far.

“I must look pretty pathetic, right?”

Seol Jinhee raised her eyebrows at Seol Jihu’s sudden question.

“Being dragged around the nose by my boss, bowing my head wherever I go….”

“What’s pathetic about that?”

Seol Jinhee snorted.

“All the unnis and oppas who graduated are doing the same thing. Isn’t that how work is supposed to be?”

“....”

“That’s a thousand times cooler… I mean, better than being addicted to gambling.”

Hearing this, Seol Jihu clenched his fists and internally shouted, ‘Yes!’

“And about today… I’m sorry.”

Seol Jinhee even apologized.

“No, don’t be. I got this deal thanks to you. All’s well that ends well, right?”

“Well, I guess so, but….”

Seol Jihu consoled her. Seol Jinhee suddenly sighed.

“Doesn’t this mean you’ll be working day in and day out every day from now on?”

“That’s just how things are.”

“Are you eating properly?”

“Of cou…”

Coincidentally, Seol Jihu’s stomach growled. Now that he thought about it, he had not had a proper meal since yesterday.

“...Sometimes it’s normal to skip a meal or two.”

Seol Jihu scratched his head with an awkward smile. It was then.

“Then….”

For some reason, a hint of hesitation flashed on Seol Jinhee’s face. She was clearly conflicted as to whether she should say something or not. In a way, she seemed distressed, as if she recalled a painful memory.

“Jinhee?”

Seeing her pale complexion, Seol Jihu called Seol Jinhee’s name. Seol Jinhee suddenly stopped the car and asked with her teeth clenched.

“Are you… hungry?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you… want to stop by a rest stop and eat?”

It came out of nowhere. But Seol Jihu also felt a strange sense of déjà vu from it.

“Roasted potato and grilled squid, right? Okay, okay, I got it. I’ll be back soon, so wait just a few minutes~”

Now that he took a closer look, Seol Jinhee didn’t look so good. Her pupils seemed blank, and her hands were shaking as well.

“Jinhee!”

When he called her, Seol Jinhee suddenly opened the car door and ran out. She raced toward a nearby convenience store at full speed.

“What…?”

Seol Jihu halted just as he was about to chase after her. It was because his phone rang. It was Kim Hannah.

—Assistant Manager Seol, it’s me.

“Yeah, Hannah.”

—...Is your sister gone? Are you sure she’s not around somewhere?

“I’m sure. I’m in Jinhee’s car. She said she would take me home.”

—What? Are you crazy?

“It’s fine. She left to get some food from the convenience store, and everything went well. I think she trusts me now.”

—Search the seats and see if there’s a hidden camera or something! Hurry!

“No, it’s okay. Hold on. Jinhee didn’t look so good just now. I have to go check up on her…. I’ll call you back later, okay?”

Sensing that something serious happened from Seol Jihu’s voice, Kim Hannah agreed and hung up. At that moment, the convenience store door opened, and Seol Jinhee ran out.

“Oppa! Oppaaaa!”

She ran toward the car with a bag full of food in her arms. Then...

“Oppa… Ah, aaack!”

She tripped and fell forward. The food she bought rolled out of the plastic bag.

“Oppa! Don’t go! Oppaaaaa…!”

As her hands and knees were hitting the ground, she still shouted anxiously. Seol Jihu immediately ran out of the car.

“Jinhee! Jinhee!”

He raced toward Seol Jinhee.

“Are you okay?”

When he lifted up her chin, he saw Seol Jinhee welled up in tears. She was panting heavily as if she would burst out crying at any moment. Her faintly trembling lips moved subtly.

“Why…”

“....”

“Back then…”

She couldn’t finish her sentence. Seol Jihu also became speechless. He finally understood why Seol Jinhee was showing such abnormal behavior.

He stared at her fixedly before quietly helping her up. He then spoke after a brief silence.

“...I’m sorry.”

“....”

“I’m truly sorry. I was wrong.”

Seol Jihu embraced Seol Jinhee, who was spaced out. Soon, she began to weep in his arms quietly.


*


Once tears finished rolling out, Seol Jihu finished the food in front of Seol Jinhee. It was because she kept staring at him without starting the car even when he said he would finish it at home.

Seol Jinhee left after dropping Seol Jihu off at his apartment. Seol Jihu didn’t go back in until Seol Jinhee’s car disappeared from view. It seemed that he would have to sleep here today.

‘That night must have been really traumatic for her….’

Seol Jihu never imagined that the trauma would be tormenting Seol Jinhee so much.

‘I can only hope her trauma gets better after today….’

It was at that moment that light burst out from his pocket.

‘Hm? What was that…?’

Seol Jihu rummaged through his pocket. His hand pulled out a necklace. It was the necklace that Ahn Sol gifted him last time as a show of thanks. She said it would bring about a miracle and grant something he dearly wished for.

‘I hope that’s the case.’

Seol Jihu chuckled before stretching his arms and going into his apartment.

Then….


*


Seol Jinhee turned off the engine after arriving home. Before getting out of the car, she stared fixedly at the passenger seat. She then reached underneath the seat, pulling out a small machine. It was a pocket-size recorder.

After looking at the recorder with an expressionless face, Seol Jinhee pressed the play button with a nervous look.


*


The next morning, Seol Jihu had to rush to work as soon as he opened his eyes. It was because he got a call saying that Seol Jinhee came again.

But when he got there, he learned that it wasn’t a big deal. Apparently, Seol Jinhee did not barge in and only visited the security room. She apologized for causing a scene a few days ago and left after giving a gift.

That wasn’t all. The company was in a festive mood, not caring in the slightest about Seol Jinhee’s visit.

“Yes! Hurray! Hurray, Seol Jihu!”

Kim Hannah expressed great joy, throwing documents into the air like confetti. When Seol Jihu asked, she said it was because of Vivian’s business offer.

“That was an act.”

“No, listen, I called them to express my gratitude, and she said we could give it a try if we want. Why would I say no? I agreed right away!”

“She said it was a failure.”

“Are you kidding? Do you think the present is the same as back then? That was when no one knew about Beauty Vivian, and now they’re the titan of the field! With their brand name, selling their product will be as easy as pie!”

Now that she put it like that, that did sound true.

“You cutie! Where did someone like you come from? Come here, you cute bastard!”

“Don’t.”

“C’mere! Let me give you a kiss! Wuuuuu~ Smooch!

“Hey!”

Kim Hannah must have been over the moon as she held Seol Jihu’s face and kissed him deeply. She didn’t stop there and gave him a flurry of kisses. Her lipstick got all over his face!

Seol Jihu wiped off the rouge marks with a look of discontent. To be frank, he did not care much about the company or the business.

“Anyway, nothing’s wrong with Jinhee, right?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. But be careful. You never know.”

Seol Jihu was satisfied that Seol Jinhee no longer doubted him and opened up her heart.

With this, another huge trouble had been overcome.

“Huaaa….”

Though only a few days had passed, Seol Jihu felt like a giant wave had swept past him. He left the company, feeling relieved.

...To be honest.

“...Thank god….”

He felt much more lighthearted than when he killed the Parasite Queen.


*


Same time. Seol Jinhee was meeting with the best friend who helped her out yesterday.

“You still didn’t trust him after all that you did?”

“You know how I am.”

“Jeez…. Is that why you put on an act in the car?”

“That wasn’t an act! It was real!”

When her best friend clicked her tongue, Seol Jinhee rebutted.

“So that’s why you hid a recorder under Jihu Oppa’s seat?”

“Well… I was curious and anxious. I wanted to know what he would say when I wasn’t there.”

“And? What happened?”

Rather than answering her, Seol Jinhee took out the recorder and pressed the play button. Soon, Seol Jihu’s voice rang out along with another woman’s voice.

—Assistant Manager Seol, it’s me.

—Yes, Manager Kim.

—I was a little hard on you just now, so I thought I’d call to apologize. It wasn’t really your fault, after all.

—No, it’s fine. It was my mistake. But thankfully, everything worked out well.

—Hmm? How?

—Beauty Vivian’s representative came down to give us a chance. She gave us a product sample and told us to try selling it.

—What? Really?

—Yes, I’ll tell you the details at work tomorrow.

—No, no, send me an email as soon as you get home. If what you’re saying is true, we have to write up a business plan as soon as possible. You’re dead if you’re lying!

It was a typical work conversation, no matter how one saw it.

“So that seals it.”

The best friend nodded.

“You’re not going to say you doubt him after all this, right?”

“You know me. My intuition has never been wrong.”

“Jinhee, my friend, does the word ‘enough’ not exist in your dictionary?”

“No, well….”

Seol Jinhee gave a bitter smile.

“I think you’re right. I think my intuition is wrong this time.”

“No way!”

The best friend snorted.

“You’re not admitting you’re wrong, but you think you’re wrong? Eii, you crazy bitch, I never thought I’d live to see the day where I feel pity for Jihu Oppa.”

Seol Jinhee shrugged at her best friend’s criticism.

It was a mysterious thing. This certainly wasn’t the conversation Kim Hannah and Seol Jihu had last night, so why had the recording changed?

Saying that it was a ‘miracle’ was probably the only way to answer this.

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