Chapter 1 : Innocence
My hair is a rat's nest.
I do not have a low-self esteem that's causing me to stand in front of my mirror and complain about my flaws (the baby fat on my thighs, oily skin, and ugly fingernails).
My hair is literally a rat's nest. The tangled strands are matted and tied together thanks to the fact that I sleep like a tornado. Lucky me, it looks like I'm getting a pimple amongst the billions of freckles that just won't go away. I groan and force myself to look away.
Despite my disheveled state, the first day of the rest of my life started off refreshing. I'm so glad that I can finally say that. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. It's exhilarating.
The first thing I take notice of are my parents Despite the fact that they are currently in the middle of a divorce, they aren't arguing at the top of their lungs this morning as I head downstairs for breakfast. This is a major rarity and most welcome.
Senior year is ending for me and all of the studying resulted in perfect grades. I've got a high GPA and I've been accepted to a top university in Seoul.
"Which means my precious baby will be leaving us and heading to Korea! Are you sure we can't come with you? I need my sweet daughter."
"Mom!" I try to squirm out of her grip she's got around my shoulders.
"Let the girl go, Hana!" My father exclaims from the kitchen. I hear the sizzling of his cooking from the dining room.
I'll be on my own at eighteen years old, and they couldn't possibly be handling it any worse.
I definitely won't miss high school formalities.
The dress code is formal and bland with no room for self-expression. There are blouses and skirts for the girls, ties and slacks for the guys. I was actually excited for it when I transferred. My mother droned day in and day out about how school's in Korea require dress codes. The excitement faded soon though, upon seeing public school students with no restrictions to speak of.
There's another aspect that I could never hope for.
I spent days staring through the window of homeroom watching the early morning football practice go on. That fairytale high school romance was all I wanted. It slipped straight through my fingers though.
Although, I try not to be so heartbroken about it. Love is intangible enough. I won't make it worse by trying to figure it out before I'm ready.
There's plenty of time for that in college.
The bus (yes, school bus at the age of eighteen) stops in usual space twenty feet away from the school's entrance. I take one last deep breath before I have to labor through my last day here.
A van slowly pulls up next to me and honks the horn and my stranger-danger instincts kick in. The driver seems to get annoyed because I ignore him and try to walk into the school instead of acknowledging his presence. I take one look at him and let my resting bitch face meet his. His sly smirk and sneaky eyes force a blush onto my cheeks and I can't help but fall under the spell that is this sex god of a stranger.
This man is giving me his undivided attention. Why me? I still don't know. I'm just a random high school kid.
As I explained clearly before, I've had a lack of romance in my life. So when this attractive older guy started paying clear attraction to me I got weak. The flutter in my heart was foreign and I wanted more.
I got greedy.
"I have to go to class." God forbid I miss my last day of school.
"Isn't it the last day? Why don't you skip it?" He says this so cooly that it makes me feel like a huge dork.
I can't bring up my perfect attendance that I've held since I was eight. If that's not boy repellent then I don't know what is.
I take a small breath and glance somewhere else. When I look back at this handsome stranger he gives me a 'come on, it'll be fun' look.
"Okay," If I only I didn't just say this so shyly. My meek voice doesn't sound like I'm convinced in the slightest that this is a good idea.
"Where would we go?" Finally feeling nervous about being with a sketchy stranger in a van.
A black van should set off an immediate warning, but there's something about his gummy smile that eases my suspicion.
"Somewhere public." Finally I say something that reflects on my smarts.
"Of course, but don't worry. You're safe around me." He shoots me another smile but it fades soon.
"What's your name, beautiful?" I laugh.
"Yerin." I blush again and look down. "What's your name?"
"Min Sangwoo," He answers plainly.
"Sangwoo?" I echo.
"Sure," He waves me off. "Now get in."
Of course I oblige and do as he asks. My parents won't be too mad since I'm basically an adult anyway. It's the last day.
Last chance to have some of what I've missed out during these four years. I'll be fine, even if he's older.
He rolls the windows down just enough so the rapid wind can get caught in my brown hair. Turning the radio up loud enough so that he could, goofily, sing along to Don't Call Me Angel; just to make me laugh.
I already like Sangwoo. "So where to, Yeri-ah?" He asks with a cheerful smile, "Your choice since I saved you from hell- I mean school but make it fun." He puts his eyes back on the road and never breaks his grin.
"Well, I don't know." I never do anything fun in this town. I mean, I know it's Ontario, but with all of my studies and hard work, I've never actually gone sightseeing. I just see what's around as I'm hurrying off.
"How about the park? The one with the big fountain?" The only place I ever hang out at, for the tranquility.
"Alrighty," With one right turn I can see that we're already on our way to the place of my choosing.
"So tell me about yourself."
"Only if you do the same." I instinctively tug on my seat belt strap.
"Of course I will," He resumes that bright perfect smile.
"Well what's to know about me? Hm... now that I think about it I'm a pretty boring person."
"Let's start with your favorites then."
I look at his eyes. They shine with a deep hazel that compliments his jet black hair.
"Favorites, well, my favorite color would have to be blue. It's a really light blue."
"Pastel blue." He urges.
"Yes! That's exactly it."
"That's mine too." He smiles fondly again. "Look at us! We already have things in common."
"My mother makes the sweetest soft honey cookies. She actually works at a bee sanctuary so there's always honey somewhere in my house." I try not to bore him with my droning but my heart beats so fast that my mouth instinctively attempts to keep up with it's pace. "What about you?"
"Well I'm originally from Korea, and I've always loved our traditional foods." I gasp at his words.
"Really? You're from Korea? I'm moving there in four days to attend Kyung Hee University." I beam, feeling my face light up in excitement. Just looking at his features, I knew that Sangwoo was of Korean descent, not to mention that his name is of Korean origin. I do my best to not profile people though so I've kept my mouth shut about it up until now.
"I'm heading back tomorrow night. Wow, this is like... destiny." He grins at me.
"Really? Tomorrow night seems sudden." We're almost there.
"Not really. I've been planning for a few weeks now. I just wanted to hang out with a beautiful girl before I headed back."
"Then how did you end up with me?" I joke.
"Because you exceeded my standards." The smile creeps back again and this time I smile in return.
•| intermission |•
A quiet hard-working student, who had achieved everything she'd worked hard for, met a boy. He didn't seem to have any aspirations, or any achievements to speak of. But she thought she could fix him.
Or maybe they could fix each other.
•| intermission |•
As we arrive at the fountain I sit on the rim of it. He looks uneasy as I drone on about how my parents are putting me though medical school and I can't help but feel as though it should be me, inching away from the stranger who basically kidnapped me. He can sense my awkwardness. I know it. "I'm moving away to become a rapper, y'know? I've been in love with music for my entire life."
"How do you plan on creating an entire rapping career without any reasonable plans?"
"Don't worry about that. I've got connections." He smirks mysteriously.
"Connections? Sangwoo, no offense, but that sounds sketchy."
"That's not how I meant it, honestly." He chuckles at me. I just mean that I know a lot of guys in the music industry that can help me get where I want to be. It's all underground."
"That sounds amazing. I've never known anyone famous before."
"And I've never known a damn doctor before! That's like the ultimate success in Korea. Your parents must be proud."
"Oh, they're proud. They've been trying to convince me to let them come live with me. I don't know how to tell my mother no without-"
"Rejecting her?" He cuts in with a knowing smile.
"Yeah..." How does he do it? How can he read my mind?
I love how someone I just met already knows me so well from just the hour we've spent together.
A cloud in the sky shifts and the sun shines brightly in my face, causing me to squint my eyes. Sangwoo's hand rests on my knee but with my oh-so-special instincts I freak out and splash!
I'm such a klutz that I fall backwards into the fountain.
I immediately see Sangwoo's hand emerge towards me helping me out of the fountain of water, pulling me out.
I stand there in the fountain, with my school uniform clinging to my wet skin and my tie wrapped around my neck. I try to untangle it and struggle, which must look like a cry for help to Sangwoo because he starts to assist, leaning dangerously close over the water.
As a spur of the moment, completely spontaneous, with his arms still near my neck I tug on them just hard enough for Sangwoo to come flying into the water landing on top of me.
The water is freezing all over my body and there's a constant spout right above our heads that's spraying water directly onto us. His already baggy clothes hang soaking off of his body.
The line of his v-neck hugs damply onto his chest, defining his abs.
"You're insane!" His heavenly laughter begins to light up again. "Now look at us, doctor." He's leaning over me even closer than earlier and I can feel him coming closer to my body with his.
Before I really know what's happening, Sangwoo's deep brown eyes are starring into mine fondly, as if we've known each other our whole lives and not just two hours. His large hand finds its place beneath my chin, drops of water rolling down my face and his.
He's leaning inwards... as if he's aiming his lips for mine.
That's when it snaps. I don't know this man.
I lean away from him. "We should probably get out of these clothes!" My outburst only seems to make him smirk. "I didn't mean it like... that."
"I know what you meant. Should I drop you off at home?"
"Ah... I can't. My parents would freak out if I came home early from school." I motion down my wet body. "Especially looking like this."
"I... I mean you can hang out at my place until school's over. I've got extra clothes unpacked." I think he gets nervous of his words because he tries to cover them up quickly. "I don't mean like... I'm not some creep trying to lure you into my house or anything-"
"I get it." I laugh.
"I trust you."