As of November 9, 2010, this fic is complete. YIPPIE!

Chapter 1

"Okay, I'm ready," Ji Won said, taking off her robe. A few months earlier, she'd have been shy about walking around in her bra and panties but after three months of intense dieting and exercising, she wouldn't admit it publicly, but she wished she had more opportunities to show off her abs.

"I never get why brides always get their make-up done before wearing their gowns," her best friend, Eun Hee, wondered as she took out the hanger from the ivory satin spaghetti strapped gown. It had an asymmetrical beaded bodice that fell onto a full chiffon skirt and according to the dressmaker, was a one-of-a-kind. "Shouldn't they wear their dress before the make-up?"

"No," the mother of the bride said. "Because you don't want to mistakenly stain the dress. Which bride wants to walk down the aisle with a huge glob of foundation on her chest?"

"Plus wearing the gown has to be the last thing. How will you ooh and aah soon after the bride wears the dress if her face still looks like crap?" the bride's sister asked. "You need the full effect," she said dramatically.

"I'm still ready," Ji Won reminded them. She was just dying to wear her dress. "And Eun Hee has a point. What if my dress gets stained by all this make-up?" She pointed at her face. The artist had done a great job and she didn't want to undo it by mistakenly wiping her face with her dress.

Her mother sighed audibly. "Am I the only person with a brain here? Lightly place this towel," she said, handing over one of the hotel's hand towels, "on your face, stretch your hands out and we'll try to get this on you as quickly as possible."

After a few minutes of very careful tugging and stretching, Ji Won stood still as her mother zipped her up.

"Aww," the chorus began. She wasn't the first girl in their gang to get married but every bride was Miss Universe on her big day. "You look so beautiful!"

She laughed when she saw the tears in her mother's eyes then turned around and looked at her reflection in the mirror. At 5'8, she was quite tall by her family's standards and even though she argued that her figure fit frame, she was also normally a bit large in comparison to her sister and her mother. But not anymore, she thought, twirling around and laughing as the huge shirt created a breeze around her. She'd managed to drop one size to become a size 2/4 and was loving every bit of it.

"You're going to get dizzy!" her mother warned, grabbing her shoulder to stop her. She dragged her and put her in her dressing chair. "Let M-m…," she stammered, glancing at the make-up artist as she tried to remember her name. It wasn't that she didn't care to learn it but her brain was already brimming with the emotions created from seeing her first daughter getting ready to leave her. "Let her touch up your make-up so that we can head out to the church. We don't want to keep the groom waiting."


As the hairstylist teased her curls, Ji Won stared at herself in the mirror. After 4 years of dating and 1 year of wedding planning, she was about to get married to the man of her dreams.

She looked at her huge square cut diamond ring and smirked. Man of her dreams? More like the man of every woman's dreams. And she wasn't just saying that, after all, he'd been named one of Seoul's eligible bachelors by a publication. Granted, it was her college alumni's newsletter but it still counted. At 6'1, lean, handsome and generous, he was pretty much the type of guy romance novels were written about – and he knew it too. When they fought, she found his arrogance annoying but other times, she was proud of his self-confidence. He was smart, thorough and unyielding about his needs, which was why he was one of the rising stars at his investment bank and why Ji Won had worn her hair in curls for almost five years now.

"Ouch," she yelped as the tip of the curling iron touched her scalp. "I thought you were already done with my hair!"

"I'm just doing the finishing touches," the unsympathetic hairstylist said. The client's hair was much longer than she's expected so it had taken an unusually long time to do.

Ji Won turned her attention back to her reflection. She'd always been regarded as pretty and now that she'd lost some weight, her cheekbones had become more pronounced. She was a balanced combination of her parents – taking her mother's bright brown eyes and pert nose and her father's very distinct heart shaped but thin lips. Before meeting Joon Young, she'd always tried to create the illusion of fuller lips with her lip liner and lipstick but she stopped after he insisted that he loved her just the way she'd been created. How cute was that?

She readjusted her butt on the chair and sighed dreamily. He wasn't the man she'd have picked out for herself but apparently, God had much greater plans.

Their initial meeting had been one of those magical moments. She'd only just started working as a copy editor at her company, had stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and been delayed by the long line. As she ran down the street in an attempt to get to work before her demanding boss, she'd bumped into him and spilled her tall caramel macchiato down his crisp, white shirt.

Being the gentleman that he was, instead of becoming irate, he'd given her his card and been very gracious about letting her pay for his dry cleaning. The next day, when she'd dropped by his office to pick up his stained shirt, he'd insisted on taking her out to lunch and the rest, as they said, was history.

Her mother bent over and placed her head over her daughter's shoulder. "Ready?" she asked her daughter's reflection.

She nodded. "Yes, I'm ready."

As her mother stood up, Ji Won reflected on what she'd just said. After all the stress and aggravation that had come with planning the wedding, she'd found the perfect dress, perfect hall, perfect cake, perfect centerpieces, perfect flowers and they'd all complemented the perfect man.

She suddenly jumped off her chair. Hell yeah, she was ready. "I'M GETTING MARRIED!" she yelled before all the women in the room gathered around and hugged her.


"You're so beautiful," Kyung Ho said, covering his mouth with his hands as he started at her in awe. She'd just walked out of the hotel and was about to get into the waiting limo.

She reached over and hugged him. "Thank you, boo." She shook her head and laughed when she noticed the tears developing in his eyes. She'd always thought of him as her gay best friend even though he only dated women. Aside from that minor detail, he cried at movies, loved to go shopping, was always the first with the latest gossip, advised her on men, always agreed to pretend to be cultured at museums and art galleries and was always there to lend his shoulder when she needed it. Some people liked to call him a girl with a penis but Ji Won didn't quite agree with that description. Nonetheless, she knew that his assistance with planning the wedding had been invaluable and regretted that she couldn't have made him a bridesmaid - not that he would have agreed.

"Ready to take the deepest plunge of your life?" he teased.

She took a deep breath. "Ready as I'll ever be."

He took her hand and with the help of Eun Hee, got her and her yards and yards of chiffon inside the car. He shut the door and waved. "See you at the church!"


"What time is it?" Kyung Ho asked.

"Add five minutes to what I said last time," Ji Won's sister snapped.

It had been two hours since she'd arrived at the church and Ji Won's make-up had already begun to bleed. She looked at the cell phone Joon Young had given her a few months earlier and wondered if she should pick it up. She'd already called him at least fifteen times in the last hour and wasn't ready to hear his voicemail yet again. His parents were also bewildered by his absence and the groomsmen said that everything had been fine when they left him earlier in the day. So why weren't he or his best man answering their phones?

Ji Won drummed her fingers on the table as she tried to rack her brain for an explanation. She'd initially chuckled at the idea that he'd picked the worst time to prove to the rest of the world that he too could be tardy. But two hours? That was just plain ridiculous. Had they gotten into an accident? She'd suggested calling all the local hospitals but everyone had told her to wait a little longer. But if nothing was wrong, why wasn't he calling her?

The door creaked open and Ji Won's mother stuck her head in. She gave her daughter the thumbs up. "Hang in there, Honey," she encouraged, her shaky voice betraying her true feelings. "With the rain, the traffic must be hell now."

Ji Won nodded. "I'm sure you're right, Umma." It had rained shortly after she arrived at the church but it hadn't lasted for more than fifteen minutes.

"Of course I'm right." Her mother grinned. "Be patient. I'll just go out there and keep Joon Young's parents company."

As soon as she shut the door, the room once again fell into silence.

"What time is it?" Kyung Ho asked about two minutes later.

What time was it? Ji Won glanced at her watch. It was getting closer and closer to the time dread would begin to set in.

Chapter 2

About two and a half hours into waiting for the groom, there was a knock on the door. Ji Won glanced at the rest of the room's occupants then told the person to enter.

The door slowly opened as Michael, Joon Young's best man and best friend since college walked into the room. Ji Won had never liked him much and had been cordial to him simply because of his relationship with her fiancé but at that moment, she'd never been so glad to see anyone.

She jumped out of her chair and ran to him, holding onto her gown to keep from tripping over the train. "What's going on?

He took a deep breath and tried to avoid her eyes. He'd just come back from trying to convince Joon Young to go through with the wedding and he knew he didn't have the energy to watch Ji Won's heart break. He just couldn't understand why his friend had to wait till the worst possible time to decide he wasn't ready. Michael couldn't help but blame himself for his friend's change of heart – maybe he shouldn't have gone drinking with him the previous night and teased him about losing his freedom. Maybe if he had shut his mouth about all the girls Joon Young would never get to sleep with and how he no longer was in complete control of his life, they'd have been at the reception by now. But instead, he was trying to keep himself from shaking like a leaf in a tornado so that he could articulately relay the awful news to her.

"So where is he?" she asked anxiously. "Is he okay? Why haven't you been answering your phones? What's going on?" she asked, shaking him, trying to get him to speak. "Why didn't he come with you? Is he sick? What's going on?!!?"

As she shook and badgered him, watching his eyes dart around as his lips quivered, realization finally set in. Why else would Michael look at her with embarrassed eyes as he struggled to come up with words?


"No, I'll do it," Kyung Ho said, blocking her path. "Why should you go in there and say this? How does that make sense?" he yelled. "Let me do it!"

It wasn't the time for him to finally get all macho on her and Ji Won just wasn't having it. She pushed him away and walked through the door. Hello, it wasn't like it was any bride's dream to go in front of a church in her full regalia and tell all her friends and family, those who'd flown in from far and wide, some she'd never even met, that she'd been jilted at the altar.



As in abandoned. Discarded. Thrown out. Ditched. Dissed. No, not just dissed but diss-missed.

In a million years she wouldn't have imagined this. Kang Ji Won? The girl who'd never been dumped by a guy? The one who still received letters from her second boyfriend?

But why? What had she done? Joon Young had been as interested in the wedding as she was, always suggesting things, nixing ideas, making sure that everything was up to his standards, not worrying about the monetary burden because it was supposed to be their day. Their special day. The most important and happiest day of their lives. But he'd fu.cked it all up.

Her mother tried to stop her from walking into the church but she ignored her. Was she going to be less embarrassed if someone else relayed the news? Told them that they'd wasted their time getting dressed that morning? That they shouldn't have bothered RSVPing? That they shouldn't have thought about their gifts? Gifts. Sh.it. Now she'd have to return all their cash and gifts. Fu.ck.

She pushed open the double doors and as she walked in, the organist started playing Here Comes The Bride.

Okay, was he retarded? What kind of bride walked down the aisle alone? She wanted to scream at the old man for playing that disgusting song but instead, she raised her hand and hoped he understood the message.

And luckily he did.

The bored and tired audience suddenly awoke as she walked down the aisle towards a bare altar. It wasn't exactly a surprise to most of them and they'd only remained in their seats out of courtesy. Of course the wedding wasn't on. Most had long since been hungry as they'd skipped lunch in anticipation of the reception. Word had gotten around that Ji Won's family had hired one of Seoul's premiere chefs and they were all hoping that he lived up to the hype. But now they'd have to make do with drive-thru fastfood.

Ji Won picked up the microphone. Yes, she could do it. It wasn't impossible - it could be done. And had been done by other women before her. She'd just have to dig deep and find her inner strength. She inhaled then turned around to face the crowd. She planted a smile of her face and waved at them. "Hello everyone," she began in what she hoped was a very steady voice. "Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy lives to celebrate my wedding today. Unfortunately, the groom can't be here so the wedding is canceled. I really apologize for the inconvenience but hey, I look great, don't you think?" she asked, twirling around to showcase the gown. Her heart was beating like mad but she ignored it.

The crowd responded by clapping.

"Since there won't be a wedding, how about a celebration of life? My life, your life, everyone's life?"

The crowd cheered again. They could see she was trying to make the best of the situation and they just wanted to make her feel better. Most felt nothing but pity for her and suddenly all their little troubles seemed to pale in comparison. At least, they hadn't been abandoned at the altar.

"Chef Lee is going to be so upset if all his food goes to waste so why don't we just go to the reception and have a big party? After spending so long planning this thing, I need you all to see my decorations and taste the raspberry cake my mother chose. Let's all head there now. The address is on your programs."


"I'm so sorry," Kyung Ho said as he hugged her. His girlfriend did the same then they both stood in front of her, alternating their weight from foot to foot, both reluctant to leave. On a different day, Ji Won would have laughed at them because if they were underwater, they'd have looked like synchronized swimmers.

"You guys can go. I'll be okay."

"But I don't want to leave you in this hotel room all by yourself. Why don't you just go home?" he begged.

"We already paid for the room so why should it go to waste?" Besides, she needed some peace and quiet. She'd spent the whole day being fawned over and now she just needed them to leave. She was bone tired and needed to sleep.

She gently shoved him towards the door. "You guys should go. I'm really okay so don't worry. I honestly believe it's for the best." She paused and looked at the bed. "Or do you want to help me get rid of them?" she half-joked, pointing at her sister, Mi Na, and best friend, Eun Hee.

The guests had been great and almost all had shown up for the reception. They'd eaten and danced and tried their best to put her hearts and souls into the so-called celebration of life. And Ji Won might had succeeded if soon after Mina and Eun Hee had helped hand out the cake and goodie bags, they hadn't come up to her room and let out all their frustration.

The crying had been going on for over ten minutes and Ji Won was sure that they'd managed to give themselves headaches.

"You guys need to go. Now," she pressed.

Mina and Eun Hee got off the bed and hugged her, not caring that their tear stained faces were wetting her cheeks.

"What a fu.cking bastard!" Eun Hee muttered. "He'd better not show up or I'll kill him."

Mina disentangled herself from the hug. "As soon as I leave here, I'm going to stake his apartment. If he dares show up, he's dead!" she said with determination her sister had never seen.

Ji Won sighed. "If we weren't meant to be, isn't it better that we didn't get married? If he's not sure that he wants to marry me, then it's better this way."

"But how can't he be sure? You're awesome!" Eun Hee cried before letting out a fresh batch of tears.

After some more coaxing, they finally left Ji Won to her solitude.

She locked the door then walked into the bathroom and washed her face. She stared at her reflection and now that she was all alone, she no longer had to pretend to be unaffected. She stared at her brown eyes. Was that really the face of a rejected woman?

She walked back into the room and jumped on the soft king size bed then turned on the television. She kept flicking channels till the actor, Lee Dong Wook's face appeared on screen. She'd always liked him since 'My Girl' so she checked the details of the movie.


Was she honestly about to watch a movie called 'Best Couple'?

Frustrated, she threw the remote control at the television, but unluckily, missed it by an inch. But come on. Best Couple? She and Joon Young were supposed to be the best couple. It had been Ji Won and Joon Young for so many years. They'd been the couple all their friends admired and envied. They were the couple everyone else aspired to be. They laughed and played together, supported each other. Loved each other. But there she was on her wedding night, wearing last night's clothes and watching some screechy-voiced woman stab Dong Wook with a stick.



Had he really ditched her?

Without a word?

Not even a phone call?

He'd disappeared. Just like that. Couldn't even care less about informing her of his change of plans.


Into thin air.


She picked up her pillow and threw it against the wall. But she still felt like shi.t. And he was still an as.s. He'd even made her mother cry. She reached down for her shoe and threw it at the bathroom door. He'd embarrassed her entire family. She grabbed the hotel brochure and threw it on the floor. Then she kept throwing every single thing she could get her hands on. Till there was nothing left. Then she stopped and the tears flowed. And flowed. All night long.

Chapter 3

Thank you," Mrs. Kang told the concierge as he opened the door. After knocking at the door and calling for Ji Won continuously for ten minutes with no response, she'd gone down to the front desk to ask them to let her in. Initially, they had refused, citing guest privacy, but after hearing about what had happened the previous day, they'd agreed.

She hadn't been pleased with Ji Won's decision to stay at the hotel so as soon as she got up after a sleepless night, she made sure she prepared her daughter's favorite dishes to help cheer her up. Then she was bringing her home with her. Enough was enough. She'd already promised herself that she wouldn't let Ji Won go back to her apartment and spend her nights reliving the times they spent together. Regardless of how much she insisted she could handle it, it wasn't the time for her daughter to be alone. She was coming back home and that was that.

But five minutes into knocking the door and calling her cell phone, the older woman had begun to panic. Ji Won wasn't the type to do anything drastic but then again, these weren't normal circumstances.

Pushing the door open, she absentmindedly handed the concierge a bill from her purse, not even bothering to see what it was then tentatively stepped into the room.

Her heart settled and she let out a sigh of relief when she saw her daughter's gently heaving chest lying across the bed then looked around the room.

She tried her best to stop the tears as she looked at the mess. Her poor daughter. From time to time, she wondered what kind of job she'd done training her daughters and if she'd done the right thing but not providing a father figure for them.

She'd been thirty-two with two young children when her husband had died and even though over the years, there'd been other men who'd shown an interest in her, she'd refused to date. It wasn't that she believed that widowed women shouldn't date but just that her husband, Hee Chul, had been it for her. He'd been the love of her life for ten years and she'd chosen to cherish those years instead of marring them by introducing another man to their lives.

She bent down and picked up the mini bottles of vodka and other alcoholic drinks. A tear dropped down her cheek as she imagined the pain her daughter must have experienced the night before and hoped that what looked like the entire contents of the mini bar had at least helped dull the pain a little. Maybe it was her fault, she thought as she threw the bottles in the trash and went about cleaning up the room. Maybe if they'd had a man around, Joon Young wouldn't have been able to charm him with his looks and smarts and he'd have been able to see him for the snake he really was.


"Wake up, Honey. Wake up."

Ji Won was awoken by the gentle shakes of her mother. As it had been a few years since she'd lived at home, she was about to ask her what she was doing in her room till her headache hit and all the memories flooded her.

"Umma, what do you want?" she asked before she turned around to back her. The previous night had been bad enough and the last thing she wanted to do was spend the day watching everyone giving her sympathetic looks and using sickening clichés to make her feel better. She just wanted to lie in bed, order room service and pretend that nothing had happened.

She'd spent the past few weeks packing for the move to the house she and Ji Won had rented and she wasn't in the mood to go back and start unpacking. A few days in denial were all she needed, she thought as she pulled the comforter over her head.

"Ji Won ah, get up. If you go and take a shower, I'll give you what I brought," her mother said in the baby voice she hadn't used with her since she was five years old.

"Umma, just leave me alone," she said, her voice muffled by the pillow.

Her mother shook her gently again. After cleaning up the room, she'd sat and watched her sleeping daughter and tried to find the courage to put up a brave front but every time she thought she was ready, a few tears had escaped her eyes so it had taken her about thirty minutes to get to her current state.

"Ji Won ah…."

"Please leave me alone. I just need to sleep a little."

"It's already past 3 o'clock," her mother pointed out.

"I slept late last night. Please leave me alone," she begged.

Her mother reached across to brush her hair with her fingers but Ji Won pushed her hand off. Didn't her mother realize that sympathizing with her only made her feel worse? Didn't she understand that she would only feel worse from seeing her mother pretend to be optimistic?"

"You should at least eat something."

"I will."

"Is there a microwave oven in here? Maybe I can ask the hotel employees to warm some food up for you."

"Don't worry about it. Leave the food here and I'll do it myself."

"Will you at least take a shower?"

"I will, Umma."


"Umma!" she said, suddenly turning over and sitting up. "Umma, I'll do everything."

On seeing her face for the first time, her mother tried her best to keep her cool but she couldn't stop herself after seeing her daughter's bloodshot and puffy eyes. What had that young man done to her? "I'll leave as soon as you take a shower, okay? I won't make you come home with me but please get out of bed for a while. Just take a shower, eat something and let me leave here knowing that you're okay. Please."


The phone rang as Ji Won walked out of the room. She groaned and put on her robe. She loved that everyone wanted to reach out to her and offer their support but wished they understood that she wasn't ready.

Her mother turned to her. "Are you expecting a call?"

"No," she started to say before she got an idea. "Umma, can you do me a favor?" she whispered.

"What?" her mother asked curiously, automatically lowering the pitch of her voice to match hers.

"Can you find out who that is and tell them I'm not here?"

Her mother looked at her sadly. "Ji Won ah, they're only calling because they love you—"

"I know," she interrupted, "but I am not in the mood to talk to anyone. So please tell whoever it is that I'll call them later."

Her mother gave her once last look then reached for the phone. "Hello?" After a moment, she put her hand over the mouthpiece and looked up at Ji Won. "Did you order a taxi?"

She shook her head. "No."

Her mother shrugged. "Maybe it's a mistake." She took her hand off and spoke into the phone. "Hello, I think you might—"

"Wait!" Ji Won interrupted, suddenly noticing the neatly packed pair of suitcases filled with brand new clothes next to the air conditioner. "It's my cab to the airport."

Her mother's face colored for a moment before she moved the phone closer to her mouth. "Can you please apologize to the cabdriver? Our plans have changed and we won't be needing their services any longer," she said before hanging up.

Her mother stared at her for a few moments before planting her fake smile on her face. It was sad because she remembered going shopping with Ji Won for her vacation clothes and how much she'd looked forward to visiting Aruba.

Her mother watched Ji Won as a barrage of emotions shot through her face till just she suddenly jumped across and picked up the phone. She dialed 0 and waited for the line to be answered. "Hello? This is room 1245. I think you just called me. Yes. Yes. Please tell the cab driver to wait for me. I'll be down there in about ten minutes. Thanks!"

A/N: Thanks for reading, as previously mentioned, it'll be difficult for me to update till the 24th (I had to squeeze this in). I know there are probably some typos so please forgive me. Take care!

Chapter 4

Ji Won handed her passport to the airline employee behind the check-in counter. "It's an electronic ticket," she informed the heavily lipsticked lady.

The lady took it from her then typed the information in as Ji Won placed her luggage on the scale to be weighed. The lady read the information on the screen and looked up at her. "It looks like you've already chosen your seats. Is that your companion?" she asked, pointing at the next person in line.

She turned to look before she realized who her supposed companion was. She took a deep breath in and said, "No."

"Na Joon Young. Will he be checking in shortly?" the lady asked, oblivious of the expression on her customer's face.

"No. I'm traveling alone."

"Oh, I see," the lady said, before typing some more on her computer. "I see you bought a flexible ticket. Do you want to change the other ticket's date so you don't lose the first half of it? We can only refund tickets if you make changes before the confirmed flight date. Let me see," she said, hitting the keys with zeal. She'd always been very careful with money and loved helping passengers use the system to avoid getting taken advantage of by her greedy employer. "I can just switch it to another day. Let me—"

Was this woman kidding her? she wondered as she balled her hand into a fist. Couldn't she take a damn hint? "It's fine. Just check me—"

"Yes!" the lady exclaimed with pride. "I can move it to next weekend but you have to be sure to call the airline before then to switch it to your preferred date. I'll print—"

"Miss!" Ji Won yelled. "Just check me in, okay?" She pointed at herself. "I already told you that I am traveling alone so just check me in so I can go to the gate and not miss my flight!"

"Yes, Ma'am." The lady maintained a smile on her face even though she was boiling on the inside. So much for kindness. A childhood friend had hooked her up with the job, telling her that working there would be a piece of cake but day after day, she had to deal with irate passengers. What was so wrong with what she had done? She picked up the baggage tag from the printer and placed it on the bag then hit the button for the conveyor belt. "Fu.ck this place," she said under her breath. Maybe it was time to get back to waitressing.


"Enjoy your meal," the air stewardess said after handing Ji Won a tray of food. Since she was flying business class, she got to use real silverware and drink from a real glass so as she looked at her plate of lasagna, she hoped it tasted half as good as the salmon looked sitting on the plate a few seats from her. She turned back to look at the browned cheese on her plate and promised herself to take a better look at the menu on her return flight.

She'd planned on enjoying her flight but it had been quite bumpy so far and the 'fasten seat belt' sign was permanently on. Plus it certainly didn't help that the empty seat next to hers was a constant reminder that she really was all alone in the world. Like really.

The trip had been a wedding present from his family and Joon Young had taken charge of planning it. He'd found a honeymoon package that he'd promised would be the most romantic trip of their lives.

She picked up her fork and grazed the top of her dinner. Maybe she should have listened to her mother and not come on the trip, she thought. She'd left the pleading woman to clean up the mess she'd left behind which included sending Joon Young's bag back to him and getting rid of the wedding gifts that had managed to find their way there. And for what? To spend six days by herself in a foreign country? But what the hell? she thought as she forked a piece of lasagna into her mouth. She deserved the break after all the months of planning that had gone into the wedding. Plus she'd already taken the week off so what else could she do? Walk into work on Monday and pretend that nothing had happened?

"Hmm." The lasagna was better than she expected. Business class passengers really did get better service. For the second time since she'd gotten on the plane, she felt guilty about not giving Joon Young's parents the chance to get a refund on their gift. His father, especially, had always been good to her so she bore no ill will towards him, after all, it wasn't his fault that his son was a jackass. But if she and her family had to lose the money they'd spent on the wedding, so did his, she decided as she cut a huge chunk off her lasagna.


"Does it taste good?" the man sitting about two seats away, asked. He was a handsome man in his thirties and from his crisp white shirt and pants, Ji Won decided that he was a business traveler. They were seated on the same row although Ji Won was on the right side by the window while the gentleman was in the middle section. They'd exchanged a few words since the flight had taken off but nothing of real significance.

He was talking to her because he was bored and so was she, so there was no harm in talking to a stranger, she mused. She smiled at him to confirm that she was welcome to some conversation then glanced at her plate and nodded. She covered her mouth as she quickly chewed the food left then took a sip of white wine to clean her teeth. She coughed and beat her chest. "Yes, it's not bad."

"Are you okay?" he asked, stretching his hand out in aid.

She nodded then pointed at her plate. "It's pretty good."

"Good. I had it the last time I took this flight so I wanted to try something different today."

"And was that a good decision?" she asked, glancing at his half-eaten fish.

He nodded. "Yeah. And next time, you can also try the chicken -it's good too." He cut off a piece and held it out to her. "Why don't you taste it?"

Was the guy crazy? She'd seen people offer strangers food in American movies but did it actually happen in real life? He wanted to feed her off his fork? She certainly didn't know where that mouth had been! She laughed. "No, thanks. You said you've been on this flight before – do you travel to Aruba often?" she asked, changing the subject so as to prevent him from insisting on sharing his food.

He shrugged. "Here and there. Is this your first time?"

She nodded enthusiastically. "I hear it's a beautiful place."

"It is. But are you visiting by yourself?"

She nodded again but this time with much less enthusiasm. And once again, she wondered if she'd made a mistake about the trip. Would she have to spend the entire time fielding questions about her solo vacation?

"Do you know anyone there?" he asked with raised eyebrows.

She shook her head. "Not really. But the package we- er… I got is pretty great. I think we get to snorkel, do some horseback riding, gamble and a whole bunch of other things."

"Well, there's nothing to worry about anyway," he said cheerfully. "And now you know someone." He pointed to himself and laughed and for some reason, she laughed too.


"You were right," the man said, taking his headphones off. "This movie is boring."

He'd since switched seats and was sitting next to Ji Won. She laughed in response and tilted her screen towards him. "You should try this one – it's much better."

As the man searched for the movie, she studied him closely. It had been such a long time since she'd flirted with a man. Joon Young was incredibly jealous so she'd been banned from engaging in harmless flirtations with any members of the other sex. Heck, if Joon Young was around, she couldn't even smile too broadly at another man without him blowing up. Kyung Ho was the only exception because Joon Young really was convinced that he was gay.

But there she was on a plane to Aruba with a handsome, charming man sitting in Joon Young's seat and having a great time. Not the throw-your-bra-at-the-stage kind of fun, but it was pleasant and the first time she'd really laughed in the past two days. She enjoyed listening to his funny anecdotes of his different travels and it helped her forget her troubles from time to time.

She and Joon Young were over – that was a given. She was not insane and she was determined not to be the type of girl who pined away for a man who didn't deserve her.

Although she still loved him. Yes, she definitely still loved the bast.ard. Hating him didn't make it easier to forget how she felt at their happiest moments. Or how it felt to feel his lips graze her neck. Or the things his fingers could do to her. And it annoyed her to no end that love wasn't the kind of emotion you could switch off in a split second. Her head had accepted that she could never be with him again but all she had to do was wait for her heart to get its act together. But in the mean time, maybe this dashing guy sitting in her ex-fiance's seat could help her ease the pain; help her forget about him. It had been a while since she'd even thought of being attracted to another man but she could see it happening with him even though the two men looked nothing alike.

She shut her eyes and let her mind wander to the most fabulous holiday she could ever envision. She saw herself in a sundress and straw hat, sitting in the passenger side of drop-top as they rode along the sides of some tall hills. He'd smile and his pearly white teeth would gleam in the sun and mesmerized by the sparkle, she wouldn't realize that her scarf had unwound from her neck till it was floating in the air. But because it was new one he'd only just bought at the Fendi store across the street from the hotel, they'd stop to chase after it.

Then they'd run and run against the wind, chasing the red, silk scarf till they were spent then he'd turn her around and kiss her so thoroughly she'd forget how to spell Joon Young's name.


Ji Won dragged her luggage as she walked alongside the man from the plane. They'd just gone through Customs and were heading towards the arrivals pick up area.

"We've spent so many hours together and I still don't know your name," he said, smiling and titling his head in such a way that she could still see the profile of his nose.

If the myth about men and their noses was true, Ji Won could already guess what he'd look like with his pants off. It wasn't her style to zero in on guys just to seduce them but weren't people expected to have sex on their honeymoons? And after what she'd been through, she needed a fling. No, she deserved one.

Sex with Joon Young had been great on their good days but now she was determined to have the best sex of her life. In fact, she'd already planned on getting online the first chance she had so could get ideas then try the most ridiculous positions with this gentleman standing next to her.

Then when she eventually returned to Seoul, she'd be a different Kang Ji Won and Joon Young wouldn't be the last person she'd slept with. The best way to get over an ex-man was to get a new one and the man standing next to her looked like he was willing and able.

"My name's Alex," she said seductively. As they walked, she began to formulate her story. She was Alex from Seoul. Her mother was Korean but her father was American. She was a top chef and the trip was a gift from the other employees at her restaurant.

She was about to ask him what his name was when she heard someone yell, "Daddy."

The man ran over and scooped the little girl up and twirled her around. Ji Won's chest tightened as she saw a beautiful local woman laughing as she stood back and waited for her turn to hug the man that was most probably her husband.

Ji Won's eyes moistened as she watched the scene she and Joon Young had planned to re-enact a few years later. They would be the J&J team and whenever he went on a business trip, she'd wait for him with their son or daughter and when he showed up, they'd hug and kiss like their time apart couldn't have been more painful.

She shook her head in disgust and looked away. Instead of starting her own family, there she was, pathetic and alone on her honeymoon, fantasizing about another woman's husband. What an idiot.

Chapter 5

Ji Won looked at her reflection in the mirror and looked away in disgust - she looked like mini cooper. The left side of her hair was plastered against head while the other side was scattered in every direction. One strap of her silk night gown had snapped off and was hanging down her chest but luckily, the 12 hour slumber she’d just awoken from had kept the eye bags at bay. Disappointed in herself, with her nightwear still on, she walked into the shower and turn on the tap.

The previous day, shortly after reviving from the shock of seeing her airplane fantasy man in the arms of another woman, she'd decided to act her age and shake it off. Why should a woman who’d just survived from getting jilted by the love of her life lose faith because she lost a man that was never hers? How dumb was that? Besides, she was sure that the island was crawling with numerous single men who would take great pleasure in making her stay memorable. And as if to prove her point, she noticed a male passerby sending her appreciative glances. With the new spring in her step, she’d left the airport and boarded the hotel courtesy bus along with other guests.

She sat next to the window and as they drove past the green palm trees and odd-looking architecture, she assessed every man she saw, trying to figure out if they had the right look and possibly the right package to be the one and only fling of her life. By the time they arrived at the hotel, she was feeling pretty good because by her count, there were at least 30 men, include the hotel bus driver, who just might be The One.

She was still pleased as she checked in, walked into the elevator and tipped the bell man. But the minute she opened the door to the huge hotel suite and saw red rose petals strewn across the bed with champagne chilling nearby in an ice bucket, she dropped her purse, fell to her knees and lost it. Joon Young must have secretly arranged the surprise but apparently, he didn’t care enough to see it through.

She moved her head forward so that the water from the shower could cover it completely. Last night, after shaking the still soft petals off the plush king-sized bed and drinking all of the champagne, she opened her suitcase to unpack. That in and of itself was a bad move because half of the clothes she’d brought had been new lingerie she knew Joon Young would enjoy peeling off her. Thirty minutes later, after releasing her frustration on the room, she’d sat at the balcony watching the sunbathing guests till she felt sleepy and want to bed.

Ji Won pulled off her soaking nightgown and stood up straight. What the hell was wrong with her? The plan was to come to Aruba and have the time of her life. How did sitting in her room feeling for herself fit? She bet Joon Young was having the time of his life. As the cool water dripped down her body, she decided that third time was a charm. She’d already wasted one day she didn't have any more to waste. Twenty minutes later, she put on some clothes and went down for breakfast.


Shin looked at the pretty, long haired girl sitting alone and picking at her croissant. From what he gathered from the whispers from another table, she’d checked in alone into one of the honeymoon suites and this was the first time anyone had seen her since then. He watched as she poured milk into her coffee and stirred it.

Because of his job, he couldn’t help but study people so even though she was trying to act cool, he could still read the sadness on her face. It was almost like she wished she were somewhere else but at that particular time of the year, they were exactly where everyone else wished they could be. Intrigued, he wondered if he could find out more about her.

As the thought shot throw his mind, he shuddered. What the hell was wrong with him? Even if she had sad eyes and a somber aura, under normal circumstances, it still wasn’t enough to inspire him to reach out to a stranger. It wasn’t that he was a selfish guy but one thing he’d learned in his 30-odd years on the planet was he couldn’t depend on anyone but himself. And that reaching out to people only gave them the opportunity to take advantage of you. Yet, instead of just studying her like he did everyone else, he wanted to talk to her. He wanted to know more and perhaps help in any way he could. What was wrong with him? He looked at his half-empty mug of coffee and wondered if it was high time he did as his doctor suggested and gave up caffeine because apparently, it had begun to play games with his mind.


“I’m fine,” Ji Won said into the room phone.

“What have you done so far?” her mother asked from the other end.

“Done, as in…?” she kicked off her slippers and lay on her bed. The hotel had done a good job with breakfast – laying out the usual continental breakfast along with eggs, sausages and some local dishes. She wasn’t quite sure if it was a good or bad thing that she still hadn’t regained her appetite and had been unable to really sample any of the good stuff.

“Have you gone out yet? Seen the sights? You know, that kind of thing,” her mother asked worriedly.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve seen the sights.”

“Really? Where?” she replied skeptically.

Ji Won sat up in the bed. ”Umma, why are you grilling me?”

“I’m not grilling you. I just hope you’re not holed up in the room doing nothing. I didn’t want you to go there alone but since you did, try to make the best of it. Please, go out. Please.”

She looked down and played with the phone cord. It sometimes scared her how well her mother knew her. Ji Won hardly thought of herself as predictable but oftentimes, her mother knew what she would do even before she knew it herself. “Umma, I’ll try.”

There was a long pause at the other end before her mother spoke up. “I wasn’t sure if I should tell you or not but… Joon Young came by yesterday. He said that he’s been looking everywhere for you. He’s been calling your phone and he claims that he spent most of yesterday waiting for you at your apartment and when he didn’t see you, came here.”

Ji Won was ashamed at how high her ears had perked up on hearing that name. “What did he want?”

“He didn’t say but I think he wanted to apologize. And explain things to you. But I can’t be too sure. I wasn’t too impressed myself because if he really wanted our forgiveness, he would have brought his parents and made a formal apology.”

Ji Won was about to ask something else when she decided to ask about it. If she found out more, she'd only end up fixating on it and she wasn’t going to let her stay get ruined by wasting precious time wondering about that man. “Forget about him.”

Her mother coughed before saying, “I still wish he’d told me what he wanted. Anyway, he wasn’t happy to hear you’d gone to Aruba alone. I think he was worried. Ji Won, I think he still loves you.”

No. She didn’t want to listen to any more of this. “That’s his problem. Umma, stop talking about this.”

“Ji Won ah, I don’t even know what to say. I am not the best person to advice you on this because I’ve only been able to love one man in my life and if I could do anything to have him back, I would.”


“Let me finish. But on the other hand, I can’t advice you to take Joon Young back because he’s behaved so badly. I don’t know what I would have done if your father had done this to me.”

”Umma, why are you still talking about this? Don’t worry about it.”

“How can I not? Some things are forgivable but is this one of them? I trust you so I know you will do what’s best for yourself. I won’t pressure you, Sweetie. Whatever you choose, just know that your sister and I will support you.”

“Thank you.”

“But try to have some fun, okay? Don’t think about anything and just have a great time because I want to see lots of pictures. And always be careful, Sweetie.”


Ji Won showed the hotel employee the receipt she received at check-in. “Is there a group going water skiing today?” she asked in Korean. It was a long shot but who knew? Maybe the lady would understand her.

The manager looked at her uncertainly. Since she was already fluent in English and French, she’d only been required to learn conversational French, Japanese and Chinese for the job. If the guest had been speaking in a language like German or Russian, another staff member who would have communicated with her. But what was she to do in this case? She pasted a bright smile on her face and in Dutch said, “How may I help you?”

Ji Won looked away from her. She certainly didn’t understand Dutch or the other local language so she tried another approach. “Ski. Water,” she said in English. She pointed at a group of people waiting in the lobby. “Them. Are going water ski? Or no?”

The woman smiled. Broken English would do just fine. “Yes, they are waiting for the bus. Are you signed up for that package? What’s your name?”

Ji Won handed over her receipt and waited for her to look it over and confirm it on her computer.

“I see you’re signed up for the all inclusive honeymoon package.” She’d been in the business long enough to not flinch at a supposed honeymooner vacationing alone. She printed a ticket out and handed it to her. “You will need to show this to the driver.”

Ji Won took it from her and put it in her purse. “Thank you. What after water ski?”

“There will be water skiing, jet skiing and hand gliding. We usually only go to one location a day then you can spend the rest of the day doing whatever you please. Most people like to go into town and sightsee but some others prefer to spend their time at the pool. So depending on what you want, the bus can either drop you off in town or back at the hotel. But if you choose to go into town, when you’re done, just call us and someone will pick you up.”

Ji Won had tried her best to follow what the lady was saying but she’d only been able to pick out a few words. “Sorry. Please say again?”

“She says that there’ll also be hand gliding and if you want, you can go into town afterwards,” a voice said from behind in Korean.

Both grateful and intrigued by the interruption, she spun around to face the owner of that deep, gruff voice.

“Thank you,” she said, bowing slightly to him.

“It was nothing. And I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. I was just waiting to speak to the manager.”

“There’s no need to apologize. Thanks for your assistance.” She pointed at the waiting group. “I’d better go ahead and join them.”

About a minute later, Ji Won felt the presence of someone standing behind her. She readjusted her weight on the couch’s arm and looked back.

“I’ll be going with you guys,” the Korean-speaking stranger said, smiling with a smirk she could already tell was permanent. She looked at her reflection in the glare of his sunglasses then turned around and observed the rest of their group. Other than the both of them, the rest of the waiting people were coupled off.

She turned back to him. “You’re coming alone?” It would have been the coincidences to end all coincidences if he too had been left at the altar but from the length of his hair and creases in his clothes, he didn’t look like someone who even had a steady girlfriend.

He nodded. “Why?”

“No reason,” she said, quickly looking away. Why did that answer suddenly make him look so much more attractive? She hid a smile then stole another glance from him. They were on vacation so he had an excuse for the flip flops, khaki shorts and t-shirt. But what was up with the long hair and earring in his ear? Did he think he was a pirate? Even if she hadn’t been with Joon Young for so long, he wouldn’t have been the kind of man she’d have looked at once. He did appear to have some good height on him and even though she couldn’t see much else, his legs looked long and lithe. But on the other hand, he looked like the sort of man who would be satisfied with living in a shack if it meant he got to spend all day on the beach picking sea shells when he wasn’t surfing. The kind of man with no real ambition. The kind of man who wouldn’t know the difference between a Manet and a Monet. He was just kind of man that was so very wrong for her. But exactly the kind of man she needed.

She looked over at his hands to make sure he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and when she was satisfied with what she saw, she stood up straight and stretched her hand out to him. “Hi, I’m Alex.” The girl you will be sleeping with tonight.

Chapter 6

"So have you been here before?" the better looking half of one of the American couples asked.

They'd been on the bus for about five minutes and according to the driver, it was a fifteen minute ride. There were about 7 couples on the minibus so although it was quite full, there was still enough space for Shin and Ji Won to sit separately.

Noticing that the girl was waiting for a response, Ji Won smiled and nodded. She hadn't quite understood what the lady had said in her strong New Yorkern accent so nodding was a safe bet. She quickly looked away so as not to encourage her to continue the conversation but the chubby, curly haired girl didn't take the hint. It was her first time outside of New York and she was so excited to talk to anyone who'd listen.

"Oh really?" she tapped her husband's knee. "Honey, she's been here before!"

"Really?" he asked, suddenly interested in the conversation. In the years they'd been married, he'd learned to tune his wife out whenever she went poking her nose where it didn't belong. But this time, it looked like it had actually done some good. "Where do you recommend we go? After today, we want to quit the tourist bullsh.it and live like the real locals. We want to see what the real Aruba is like. I tried talking to the concierge but he wasn't much help. Do you know any bars that are only frequented by locals? We want to eat their food, drink their homegrown brews and listen to their music. So where can we go for that?"

When Shin saw Ji Won nod again, he laughed. Poor thing. With all that nodding, he hoped she didn't end up selling herself to someone.

"Alex ssi, have you been to Aruba before?" he yelled in Korean.

She turned back to look at him sitting two rows back. "No. Why?"

He pointed at the couple she'd been talking to. "You just told them that you've been here before and now they are asking you to recommend places to them."

"Oh," she said, turning back to look at the expectant couple. Her face had already begun to turn crimson and she wished she could just shrink into the seat. "Sorry." She waved, incorporating sign language. "First time here," she said, pointing downwards. "Sorry."

"Oh, it's your first time? Where do you live? And what are you doing here? Is that your husband?" the wife asked, pointing at Shin.

Ji Won sighed. What was wrong with the dumb girl? Couldn't she tell that she barely understood a word she was speaking? Before she could nod one more time, Shin jumped out of his seat and sat next to her.

"Why don't I interpret?" He turned to the woman. "I'm Shin and she's Alex and no, we aren't married. You?"

"I'm Nancy and he's Tim," she said, holding her husband's hand before proceeding to tell their story. Apparently, they got married three years ago in Vegas and after Tim had gotten a great bonus the previous year, they could finally afford to go on their honeymoon. "What about you? What's your story?"

Ji Won shared her story about being a chef, substituting the American father with a Chinese one and changing her location from Seoul to Shanghai. When she was done, Shin shared his.

He looked away and sighed dramatically. "My long term girlfriend and I had planned this vacation for months but two weeks ago, she called me from her parents' house to tell me that she didn't love me anymore and that she was getting married the next day. To my cousin! To cut a long story short, I tried to get a refund but I couldn't. So here I am," he said sadly.

Tim's and Nancy's mouths fell open and when they finally recovered from what they'd just heard, they offered cliché words of comfort. From them, Shin learned that his ex was no good and that the right one would come along shortly.

When the couple turned around to face forward, Ji Won asked him what he'd told them. After Shin recounted the story, her face froze. "I'm so sorry," was all she could come up with.

He laughed. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen eyes grow so big. Gosh, why were people so gullible? Did they think his life was a silly MBC drama? "You can relax your face– I made it all up."

"What?" she asked, still in a trance.

"I didn't get dumped by my ex. It's not a true story."

As soon as that sunk in, Ji Won heaved a sigh of relief. "So what's the real story?" Now, she really wanted to know why he was vacationing alone.

"Trust me, you don't want to know," he said dismissively. "It'll only put you to sleep."


"Interpreter," she yelled, calling Shin to her side. "What is he saying?"

Three couples had already gone hang gliding and it was finally her turn. She'd been a little scared at first but after the looks of elation on the others' faces shortly after landing, she knew she just had to get up there.

Shin repeated the safety instructions in Korean.

"Ask him what I should do if I feel like I'm falling."

He shook his head as he watched the guide clasp the life jacket around her. "You're completely safe – this is not even real hang gliding. Heck, it's not even paragliding."


"Meaning, you're completely safe. Look," he said, taking hold of the straps connecting her to the speed boat. "This is what will really propel you into the air and bring you down. They are in complete control the whole time so you don't have to worry about a thing."

Ji Won frowned and looked away from him. Why was she already getting the friend vibe from this guy? If he was supposed to be her fling, he had to long for her and think of her in sexual terms. She'd yet to catch him staring at her boobs. What could she do?

He tapped her in encouragement. "You'll do fine," he said, stepping away.

"Wait!" She suddenly got an idea. She held onto his arm and tried to look as scared as possible. "What if I fall?" Yes, it was time to play the damsel in distress. To get his loins roaring, she had to make him feel like he could protect her. After all, how many men were attracted to female body builders who could kick their asses?

Shin raised his brow. Was this woman bipolar? Just a few minutes earlier, she'd begged the French couple to give up their space on the queue so that she could go next but suddenly, she was scared.

"You won't fall."

"But what if I do?" she whispered, grabbing his shirt tighter. Shin looked down and saw that she was holding onto him so tightly that the veins on her hands were threatening to pop.

"You'll be fine," he said as he attempted to pry her hands away. But whenever he managed to get one hand off, she held on tighter with the other one.

"Shin ssi, please will you come up with me? I'll feel so much safer with you. I need a strong man like you to make me feel safe." Ji Won blinked rapidly and swallowed hard to keep the bile from rushing up her throat. Had she really said that?

The guide looked at him with pleading eyes, begging him to concede to her. Even though the young man didn't understand a word they were speaking, anyone within a ½ mile radius could probably correctly assess what was going on.

"Okay, put the life jacket on me too," Shin told him. They were holding things up and he could already tell that the others were anxious to get up there as well.

He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her body. As they took off, Ji Won moved her hands up and laid them on his. They felt strong and solid and as they glided in the air, with the wind blowing through her hair, she imagined what those arms would feel like as both of their bodies passionately rocked together.


"Who knew hang gliding could be so scary?" she commented as they walked towards one of the benches occupied by other members of their group. "Now I can't wait to go jet skiing. My adrenaline is pumping!"

He laughed. He barely knew her but had already begun to notice little things about her. Like the way the edges of her eyes crinkled when she was thrilled. When they were in the air, he'd been worried by her screaming till he realized that she was loving every single minute of it. "And to think you were so scared a minute ago. What would you have done if you were facing real death?"

"I'd have held on to you tighter," she said, leering at him.

Shin looked away, pretending he hadn't seen it. "It reminds me of the third time I went hang gliding. And I mean the real one – so I wasn't attached to a boat like this one. It was just me, my glider and the wind."

"Wow!" Men loved their egos stroked so Ji Won made sure she looked very impressed. "I don't think I can do that. I wouldn't even go if there was an expert glider with me. I'd be too scared!"

He nodded in agreement. "And if I had been as smart as you, I wouldn't have nearly died."


He leaned towards her. "Yes, I almost died. The ride went on longer than I'd planned and since the winds were really strong that day, even though I was trying to navigate myself down, I just kept gliding and gliding. So I decided to give up and just roll with it. I figured that I'd eventually get down."

"Impressive. I would have died of a panic attack."

"Well, I got so comfortable that I actually fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself quickly heading towards a large rock," he said dramatically.

"Oh my god!"

"So I started hitting the hand navigator," he said animatedly, mimicking the actions, "trying my best to swerve away from the huge, brown rock but it didn't seem to be working. I pressed it and pressed it and pressed it and…"


"Boom," he said, slamming his hand on the table for effect. "For a second, I thought I was dead but when I opened my eyes, I noticed that I was falling. I don't even remember pulling my parachute cord but according to the doctors, that's what saved me."

"Wow. You were lucky."

"Very lucky. This is the only thing I have to show for it," he said, showing her a small scar on his knee. "And the funny thing is that the doctors said that I actually died for a few seconds."

"Really?" she asked in disbelief. If he only got that baby scar, how bad could it really have been?

"Yes, I remember it. Even when you're unconscious, you still have some level of consciousness and I think that at the moment I died, everything went very still. And silent. Dark. Still. Silent. It was surreal."

"Dark and silent?" she hissed. "Is that what we all have to look forward to? I need something more dramatic. It needs to end with a bang. At least a bright light or something. Or maybe you didn't see it because you were going to hell," she teased.

He laughed. "And to think that I didn't want to mention the bright light because I was trying to avoid cliché."

"Cliché? What do you mean cliché?" She eyed him suspiciously. "Did you just make the whole thing up?"

He nodded. "I sure did."


Ji Won had always loved seafood so she was already anticipating enjoying her meal at the restaurant the bellman had suggested. After returning from the beach, they decided to have dinner together.

"Alex, have you decided yet?" Shin asked as he watched her peruse the menu.

She shook her head. She was debating between the Shrimps Creole, which was Shrimps with some kind of Creole sauce or the grilled shark. Or maybe she could try the pan-friend barracuda. The restaurant was packed and lively and if she happened to die from barracuda poison she was sure that one of the numerous tourists was a doctor. So would it be barracuda or shark?

Since she could easily find shark in Korea, deciding on barracuda, she was about to shut the menu when Shin said, "If you're having difficulty deciding on what to eat, you can try the 'Keshi Yena.' I had it at another restaurant and it was really good."

Ji Won looked down to read the dish's description: a soupy brew that combines Gouda cheese, spices, and the meat of your choice in a thick brown sauce.

Great, she thought sardonically. It was something she could probably whip up herself.

She shut the menu and handed it back to the waitress. "Keshi Yena." Damn. Stupid men and their egos. She really didn't want to eat any damn thick sauce but since she needed them to end the night on nothing but pleasant terms, it was a sacrifice she was going to have to make.

After the waitress left, he said, "So what's your favorite dish to make?"

She looked up at him. Huh? She caught his eye and remembered her supposed profession. "Yeah, I love to make lasagna," she said quickly.

"Oh. Is it an Italian restaurant?"

"Yeah." She focused all her attention on the wine menu. "I'm think—"

"Which one?" he interrupted. "Maybe I've been there before."

"I doubt it," she said, still keeping her head down. "Have you been to Shanghai before?"

"Yes, whenever I have to meet my p--," he started to say till he caught himself. "Yeah, I've been there a few times."

"Really? That's great, but I don't really want to talk about work right now. I'm on vacation to forget it all. Let's change the subject," she said, smiling. "What do you want to do tomorrow?"

"I don't know yet," he replied, agreeing to let it go. Besides, from what he could see, she probably needed a lot more time to work on her lies.


Shin switched his computer on and waited for Windows to load. For the first time in a long time, he'd spent a day without logging on and was surprisingly okay with it. He was shocked that he hadn't begun to get jittery like a heroine addict looking for a fix. Instead, he was calm and even refreshed. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope for him after all. Not that he'd ever admit it to his agent, Jin Mo, because if he did, he'd most likely have to deal with at least a full year of gloating.

He sat at the desk and waited for his computer to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi. Just as the icon popped up to inform him that his wait was over, he heard two loud knocks at his door.

According to his table clock, it was 10:23pm and he certainly wasn't expecting anyone. Curious, he walked over to the door and opened it.

Ji Won smiled and didn't let the look of shock on his face discourage her. She'd taken a shower to make sure she was clean in all the right places and had applied a fresh coat of make up to make sure she looked just right. All she'd done with her hair was towel dry it because if the media was to be believed, there was nothing sexier than water dripping down a woman.

She held out the bottle of white wine to him. "I felt like a drink but didn't want to have it alone. I hope you don't mind. Have you got some glasses?" she asked, walking into his room thereby making it impossible for him to reject her.

Even though she was still wearing the t-shirt and jeans she'd been wearing earlier in the day, Shin caught a whiff of lavender shower gel as she walked past him. Plus her hair was wet. So it was either that she'd planned on going to bed before deciding to drink or something was up. He watched her as she sat at his desk and placed the bottle on table.

"Let's drink this now – I don't want it to get too warm. It's the cheap stuff so you know it's better chilled." She unscrewed the top of the bottle. "See? It doesn't even need a corkscrew. Can you get some glasses?"

He raised his brow. What was the rush? His air conditioner was on full blast so it wasn't like the wine was in danger of boiling.

He turned around and walked towards the mini bar. There really was something off about this woman. During the day, she'd been detached but friendly – saying a lot without really revealing much about herself but suddenly, at night, she was sitting in his room with a bottle of alcohol in her hand. But on the other hand, if he really thought about it, there'd been some moments he wondered if she'd been flirting with him. He knew when a woman was interested in him but this one was just weird. She was giving far too many conflicting signals.

The sudden sound of the chair scraping against the floor interrupted his thoughts and when he reacted by turning around, he caught her standing up and taking off her blouse.

His eyes widened in surprise. Okay, that was one hell of a clear signal.

He was still in shock, his feet rooted to the ground when she threw her top on the plush, brown carpet and walked towards him. Then she reached behind and unhooked her bra. As the black lace fell to the floor, revealing her breasts, she said, "Let's have sex."