“No more idols,” Jun-young murmured to himself while climbing the stairs to his apartment, well past midnight. He unlocked the door and entered before putting down his suitcase and taking off his shoes. “Never again.” He turned on the heating and waited until he felt the floor getting warm under his feet, then took off his coat.
Assassins and terrorists he could handle, but he just wasn’t built for dealing with masses of hysterical fourteen-year-olds. All that crying and yelling when there was no real danger meddled with his instincts.
But nothing mattered now because he was home, and he’d never again have to listen to another stupid love song or keep teenagers from suffocating in overly crowded stadiums. Jun-young was twenty-eight, but dealing with teenagers and their antics made him feel ancient.
Yawning, Jun-young convinced himself to change into sweatpants and a T-shirt, then fell face-first onto his bed.
Jun-young woke up at eight thirty to find a text message from Yu-jin.
“Min-hyun really wants to see you,” Yu-jin had written. “Could you drop by at around ten?” Jun-young doubted that Min-hyun had actually said that—she was only eight months old—but he went to shower and dress.
“Look who’s here,” said Yu-jin in a baby voice as she opened the door, holding Min-hyun. “It’s your Uncle Jun-young. He’s been away for a really long time!”
“Hi,” said Jun-young.
“How are you?” Yu-jin asked.
“Fine. It was a long, noisy tour.”
Yu-jin led him to the kitchen. “Sit down and hold her for a moment,” she ordered. “I need to get my iPad.”
Jun-young held Min-hyun, supporting her head the way Yu-jin had taught him when Min-hyun had been less than one day old. She smiled at him, and he couldn’t help but smile back.
Yu-jin returned. “Your new client,” she said, passing him the iPad, “Kyo Seung-hyun.”
“No,” Jun-young said after one look at the photo. “Not another idol. Teenagers are loud.”
“He’s not an idol!” Yu-jin protested. “He’s the new chairman of the Kyo Group, which makes him my father-in-law’s new boss. Min-soo went to high school with him.”
That was odd, thought Jun-young, because he would have remembered Min-soo being friends with the chairman—or heir—of such a huge chaebol.
“Min-soo never mentioned him,” Jun-young said.
“That’s because they haven’t met in ten years. He studied and worked in the US. But five weeks ago, his father suddenly died of a heart attack, and we went to the funeral. After that, we mentioned him to Mom, and she insisted we invite him to dinner. He’s an only son, plus his mother died when he was young, and you know how Mom is with strays.”
Jun-young was living proof of Ms. Jung’s affinity for strays, though he thought her treating the Kyo Group’s chairman as one was pushing the definition of the word.
Yu-jin went on, “He was here for dinner twice, and she likes him. She told him he should hire you, and he told her he’d think of that. I guess he did because he called me four days ago and asked when you’ll be available. We already negotiated your terms.”
Jun-young knew he was doomed. Between Yu-jin and Ms. Jung, he was stuck with the Kyo Seung-hyun gig until further notice.
Still, he wasn’t going down without a fight. “Do you really want me to take the job because he was friends with Min-soo in high school? That was ten years ago.”
Yu-jin laughed. “Oh, they weren’t friends. Seung-hyun stole two of his girlfriends in a row.”
“He sounds like a brat.”
“Min-soo says he was, but so was Min-soo, and look at him now. Min-soo actually says we owe him a favor: if he weren’t single at the right time, he would have never asked me out.”
“You owe him a favor because he stole Min-soo’s girlfriends.” He hoped Yu-jin would see how absurd that was.
“I’m calling you a taxi.” Yu-jin had obviously missed the absurdity. “You’re meeting him in an hour. I sent everything you need to know about him to your email.”
Jun-young accepted the inevitable. “Okay,” he said. “Fine, I’ll meet with him.” Even though he was feeling less than cheerful, he smiled again at Min-hyun before handing her back to her mother. It wasn’t the baby’s fault that her mother and grandmother had scared him into submission.
“Dinner today at seven, don’t forget!” Yu-jin called after him. “Mom really missed you. We all did.”
“I’ll be there,” Jun-young promised before he closed the door.