Lee Shin sat in an over-decorated chair drinking his tenth glass of champagne. He gulped it down finding the decorations of the banquet hall disgusting. The banquet hall was decorated in pink, red and lavender from the chairs to the walls to the large, extravagant diamond chandelier centrepiece. The chairs had a white fluffy cloth covering and a pink ribbon tied into a large bow at the back. The table in front of him was decorated in the same white fluff but red roses were pinned on the side of the table cloth. These colours, fluff and roses were perfect for a wedding which this was. It was his half brother’s wedding –Aiden Han. Aiden was the perfect son, perfect brother, perfect groom and now the perfect husband. Everyone who knew him described him as courteous, dutiful, responsible, ethical and... everything that Lee was not.
“Damn 40.5 percent Aiden,” muttered Lee under his breath, finding another full champagne glass on the table as he recalled the reason why he labelled his half-brother as 40.5 percent Aiden. It was the day he had witnessed the overpowering love of the newlywed couple. It was the day he realised the girl he loved – Aiden’s wife – was wrapped in 40.5 percent of Aiden and he was barely even 10 percent in her eyesight.
He sipped the bubbly champagne, peering at all the males in the room. They all wore the grey tuxedos requested by his step-mom for the wedding. They were instructed to wear grey to blend in with the wedding decorations and complement Aiden’s white tuxedo but Lee had decided to wear a rebellious black tuxedo instead – contradicting his step-mother’s instruction. He might get scolded by his step-mother but he did not care, he wanted to appear better than his half-brother, he wanted the girl he loved to notice him but she did not care nor did she even glance his way the entire night.
Lee miserably drained all the contents of the glass, his pathetic eyes somehow finding his half-brother dancing with his new wife. They looked happy twirling in each other’s arms, swaying close together. He assessed them, noticing that Aiden’s white tuxedo was an eyesore and began comparing his half-brother’s outfit to his own. He concluded that his black tuxedo was superior, it had more style and made him look handsomer. He was obvious the better looking brother.
Aiden had dull black hair that was always neatly parted but it was dull, more than dull. If one had to keep parting their hair in the same fixed position, they would turn into a dull being which his half-brother was. Lee had no clue why his beautiful sister-in-law had chosen to marry Aiden. He found another glass of champagne on the table and lifted it to his lips while he watched his dull haired brother smile like he was a groom at a wedding which he was, Lee reminded himself. Of course, Aiden should smile and be happy – he had the perfect girl.
He glanced over to his new sister-in-law, even though her hair was neatly pinned up in pearls, some of her brown tresses fell on her face. Her white gown had crystal and beaded embroidery on top then flowed into elegant ruffles, he could not see her feet but he did not need to because he was focused on her smile and laughter. He caught himself suddenly smiling, wondering if he could ever make her laugh that way. But then his mind told him to stop but his eyes lingered on her and then he realised how pretty she was when she smiled and giggled. She was happy. She was radiant. She was delightful. She was beautiful and most importantly she was not his.
Yes, he thought. She was not his. She was married to his brother. Rei Mary Sloane, now Rei Mary Han. They had been married for three months already – previously had a small surprising dinner wedding but now they needed to have a proper grand scale wedding – this was all his step-mother’s military influence, no one could ever disobey her. She always loved planning for big events, especially weddings and was slightly disappointed at the small wedding her first son had, so to make up for her slight disappointment she ensured that their second wedding would be a grand event wrapped in colours of love and happiness, she wanted to publicly demonstrate that the Hans had no shame and were perfectly happy.
And all the Hans were happy, but Lee was not really a Han and his stupid heart beat unhappily. He drained all the champagne from his glass, finding another glass and drained the contents from that one too. He needed to get his brain in order. Although he was not a Han on paper, he was a Han through blood and his father and step-mother did treat him as their own son. And Aiden had begun to treat him as a younger brother – even though he had only recently found out about Lee being his long lost sibling. Aiden had accepted him, he was sceptical at first but anyone would be. Spending more time with Aiden, Lee realised that Aiden was someone he could not hate, he was a likeable person and was a decent older brother.
And he could not lust after his brother’s wife. It was immoral to lust over a friend’s girlfriend, it must be beyond immoral to lust after your brothers’ wife. There were strict rules even though he was not one for a moral code, there was a natural type of morality that a person stuck to especially to family members. Was there? He began to question. Was there really a code that stated in some fine print clause that one could not love ones’ brother’s wife? Was it somewhere hidden in the bible amongst the Ten Commandments that Moses or was it Noah shattered into pieces?
He was not the religious type but there was a reason for the shattering of the Ten Commandments. Maybe one of the reasons why he found his brother’s wife so lovable was the way she fumbled with her fingers when she was nervous, the way she puffed out her cheeks when angry and the way she genuinely cared about him.
“Dammit,” he muttered. He could not keep this up. He could not continue to find more reasons to like his brother’s wife. He had to find reasons to dislike her, he had to tug his heart away from her and find a way not to smile when she smiled. But as he sincerely thought on ways to dislike her, his body moved from the over-decorated chair and found its way to interrupt the newly wedded couple.
“You two looked so happy, I had to interrupt,” said Lee, honestly.
“It’s a good thing you did,” Aiden responded with a secret married smile, staring lovingly at his wife. “We wanted to ask you something.”
“Why are you wearing a black tuxedo at a grey event?” Rei finished off her husband’s question.
Lee glanced at both of them, first he noticed that Aiden had used, ‘we’ like he and Rei were some sort of mashed potato. Then he noticed how she finished off his sentence, like she could read his mind. “Don’t you guys get along well,” he muttered.
“What did mother say?” asked Aiden.
“Did she kiss you on the cheek, then threaten you in a whisper?” prodded Rei.
“She must have glared at you,” smirked Aiden.
“Probably lifted her eyebrow,” Rei mimicked the motion, “and used that tone.”
“Oh, yes that motherly tone,” Aiden paused and used the tone. “What have you done? Why didn’t you listen? Just what were you thinking?”
“Are you kids?” asked Lee, irritated that they were playing a childish tennis word game with him as a net. But he was more irritated that even though he was a net, he was invisible to their sight.
“She must have said something to you. She did plan this entire wedding,” said Rei. “She must have been slightly offended, you wore black instead of grey. The rest of us wore what she instructed.”
“She did not say anything,” Lee responded.
“That’s an obvious lie,” said Aiden. “Or if you are telling us the truth, she is planning something.”
“I wonder what she’ll do to you,” Rei said, playfully.
“What do you think she could do to me for wearing this expensive black tuxedo?” asked Lee. “It probably cost the same amount as the entire chandelier centrepiece.”
“Who knows how mother thinks,” replied Aiden. “But it must be something that would likely make you feel guilty until your insides rot.”
“Insides rot?” Lee snorted. “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I’d go further,” said Rei with a mischievous smile. “Even after your insides rot, she’ll still make you suffer.”
Lee glanced at Rei’s smile, even though she described his step-mother as some sort of monster who was going to rip him into shreds, he smiled.
“She made me go to thirty shops and try on ten dresses in each of the shops. I think I must have tried on 300 dresses,” complained Rei. “She’s not human, even my own mother gave up on the second shop.”
“Too bad I couldn’t tag along,” said Aiden, grinning.
“I think you might have gotten tired.”
“Not at all I would have carried you then run off with my mother watching,” said Aiden, smiling wickedly at her. “Then of course we would have to do find something better to do besides trying on dresses maybe taking them off –”
“I think your flirting needs to end here,” Lee interrupted, surprised how red Rei’s cheeks were. “Aren’t you embarrassed for your wife?”
“Shouldn’t you be the one embarrassed?” asked Mrs Han – Aiden’s mother, Lee’s step-mother and now Rei’s mother-in-law entering the conversation with her husband entwined in her arm. “You think I did not notice since everyone is enjoying the wedding party?” she said, lifting a stern eyebrow at Lee.
Aiden and Rei tried to hold back their laughter as they watched Mrs Han scold Lee exactly the way Rei had mimicked.
“I told you he belongs in the circus, the way he juggles important books without opening them,” said Mr Han, nodding his head politely to his new daughter-in-law and ignoring his sons.
Aiden laughed at his father’s comment and asked Lee, “What book did you juggle that upset father so much?”
“I can’t remember. I think the author was Benjamin Great or Graham,” replied Lee. “And everyone knows juggling is good exercise.”
Mr Han sighed, not impressed whilst Mrs Han continued scolding using a motherly tone. “Why are you wearing black? I told you the dress code before everyone else. But you still show up in black instead of grey!”
“Grey is for the plain,” explained Lee. “And apparently I look better in black, so I hear.”
He attempted to grin wickedly at Rei but she stared at him blankly. She did not blush like she did when Aiden smiled at her nor did she turn pink, like the average girls he was used to.
But of course she should not blush, she was not an average girl, she was his sister-in-law. She was married and in love with his brother – she should just stare at him oddly like she was doing but as she stared at him, his eyes locked with hers and he gulped.
His heart started to beat a bit faster because it was the first time she really noticed him. She stared directly at him instead of Aiden. Her eyes were black with some hint of blue. Did Aiden know that? But of course he did, he gazed into her eyes all the time. But as his heart rate escalated he realised, she did not really notice him, she did not notice he wore black for her, she did not notice that he smiled when she smiled. She was far away from him. She did not know his feelings and even if she knew, it would not make a difference, she was in love and she was happy with his brother. It was impossible to reach her, he knew from the moment he saw Aiden run after her in the family garden that these feelings he had for her were ridiculous and impracticable but he still had them.
Four months ago he had them, realised them and now they wouldn’t leave. Damn 40.5 percent Aiden, he cursed in his head. Aiden was married to her. Lee needed to get this into his brain and heart, they were married and she was not his. He broke his gaze away from hers.
“You wear black because grey is plain? That is the exact reason why you should be wearing grey, you were meant to look plain like the rest. It isn’t your wedding,” scolded Mrs Han.
If only it could be. The thought bounced around Lee’s head.
“You can’t wear black because you want to stand out,” she said then paused, looking directly at her step-son’s dark brown eyes. “Just who are you trying to impress here?”
Lee swallowed uncomfortably, trying to divert his eyes from his step-mother but she would not let him. The reason for him wearing black was because he was trying to impress someone, someone who was not the slightest bit interested or impressed by him. How was he going to tell his step-mother that he was trying to impress his brother’s wife, just thinking about it made it idiotically sinful.
“Have you found someone of interest?” asked Rei excitedly. “Mother is right, you are wearing black for a reason. So it is a girl! You told her you would be the one wearing a black tuxedo that costs the amount of a chandelier centrepiece, so she could easily identify you!”
This was horrid, Lee sighed internally. She probably thought the worst of him, that he was using his expensive looks and money to buy someone’s affection, that he was some sort of superficial, frivolous being but he was not. The only reason why he had bought this expensive chandelier centrepiece tuxedo was because he was in love with her. And in retrospect that was below superficial and frivolous, especially wearing a black chandelier tuxedo to impress his sister-in-law on her wedding day.
“But wouldn’t everyone know who he is?” asked Aiden. “Everyone invited knows us all.”
Mrs Han frowned, “so it is someone who doesn’t know this family?” She watched her step-son try to redirect his gaze to something besides her. “Just who is invited that does not know the Hans or the Sloanes?”
“Someone who is far away from the construction business, maybe she is in the entertainment industry. The circus,” Mr Han responded sarcastically.
Aiden laughed, “he must be tired of juggling books, he wants to juggle the real circus props, fire sticks or clubs or maybe bears or elephants.”
“It’s true,” Lee admitted, he wanted to stop the speculation, the only way to actually stop it was to agree. “I am trying to impress someone and you are correct. She is not from the construction industry,” Lee lied. “She’s someone neither of you know.” He wondered how much he could make up about a fictitious character to his family. He should make her the opposite of Rei. He could say that she had short brown hair, maybe plain brown eyes or maybe he should make them green. But he was sure they would ask him about her occupation, maybe he should go with entertainment but then his family were smart people especially his step-mother, she could smell something fishy even without a nose.
“What is her name?” Mrs Han asked.
That was one question he was not anticipating. “Her name?” Lee coughed in a question, “I can’t...” he trailed off, trying to think of a decent name but Rei’s name kept popping into his head. Rei Mary Sloane and his head corrected him, Rei Mary Han. Han. Mrs Rei Han married to Aiden Han. “Her name is...” As Lee was going to say her name, he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“You look so stressed that you’re about to explode,” said Rei, touching him lightly on the shoulder. “I think we should stop interrogating him. We are bound to find out in due time.”
He felt a tingle on his shoulder and was certain he should not feel anything for this woman. She was married to his brother. He needed a drink, he needed to numb his mind and heart. She was kind-hearted but he wished that she would be mean. It would be easier to dislike someone who was ruthless but she wasn’t. She was nice, she was perfect and once again his mind reminded him, she was not his.
“Aiden! Rei!” Tara Han – Aiden’s cousin barged into their family circle. “Everyone is waiting! All the guests have lined up to send you off.”
“It’s finally here,” said Aiden, and thanked Tara for journeying all the way to find them. “I think it’s time we left, the honey moon bells are ringing for us to leave.”
“Already? We barely had anything to eat,” said Rei.
“The bride and groom are not really meant to eat. They need to say their vows, cut the cake and throw the bouquet,” Mrs Han gleamed. “Both of you should leave, everyone is waiting at the door eager to throw the rice and confetti.”
Rei nodded at Mrs Han and then affectionately hugged her, “I will miss you.”
“Such a liar,” said Mrs Han, hugging her daughter-in-law back. “You should not miss someone who forced you to try 400 wedding dresses.”
“I swear I thought they were only 300,” Rei said.
“300 or 400, they were all worth it,” said Aiden, winking at his mother.
“Won’t you guys be gone for a week?” asked Lee. “I think it is impossible to miss anyone if it is just a week.”
“That’s where you are wrong,” said Aiden. “We will be gone for a month, courtesy of father. And believe me, you can miss someone just for a measly week.”
Lee did not say anything, he just idly placed his hands in his pockets as he thought about missing someone for a week. It was impossible. Even if he loved Rei, he would not miss her if she was gone for a week even a month but possibly if it was a year then he would begin to miss her but then his mind reminded him that she was not his to miss. The only affection he could really show was a brotherly one.
Rei proceeded to hug Mr Han who was slightly uncomfortable by the embrace but accepted it. “Thank you, both. It was wonderful,” she said then smiled at Lee and Tara.
“We will see you in a month,” Aiden said as he entwined his hand in his wife’s. They walked towards the exit of the banquet hall, Tara and Mr and Mrs Han behind them and Lee paused for a minute, watching them leave. He felt like he was losing something, something inside him was departing, he did not know if it was a piece of him but as he began to slowly trail behind Rei and Aiden’s hand holding, he wondered why this wedding felt like a funeral.
“I need a drink,” said Lee, sitting on the barstool, his arms rested on the table while he stared aimlessly at his empty glass in front of him. “I need a drink,” he repeated, looking up at the bartender. He finally noticed that the bartender was a woman.
“Where’s Phil?” he asked her as he tried to make out her features. Her hair was cut in a short brown blob but she had an overgrown fringe that covered her eyes. He began to wonder if she could see through the pile of hair.
“He left three hours ago,” Mira Ahn – the bartender replied then pointed at the clock. “It’s already 3 AM and you are the one and only guest left in the empty banquet hall.”
In the midst of leaving her pizza delivery job, Phil – her long-time friend had asked her to take over his night shift. It was meant to be an easy, quick job that would give her a few extra bucks and was supposed to be from 10PM to midnight but unfortunately it was dragging on until sunrise. It dragged on because of this drunk guest in front of her, she waited for him to say his final goodbyes but his goodbye speech kept including another order of a double whiskey. She had been watching him for the last three hours. At times he would frown at his drink, sometimes he would poke the liquid with his finger and on an odd occasion he would smile sheepishly but now he glanced in her direction. She needed to use this opportunity to subtly suggest he should leave even though it was obvious he had no intention of moving.
“Don’t you think you should leave?” she asked quietly, wiping a glass, “the cleaning staff have already taken down all the wedding decorations and all went home. There isn’t anything to celebrate anymore. All the normal guests left at midnight.”
“I am not a normal guest,” Lee explained to her, trying to make out the colour of her eyes because her fringe covered them, “I am the groom’s brother.”
“The groom has left,” she plainly stated, “don’t you think it would be best if you follow suit.”
Lee laughed loudly, he lost track of what he was trying to discover about her, “and where would I go? I don’t have a month honeymoon to venture off to.”
She poured a double shot of whiskey into his empty glass even though she should really not. She should be at home sewing buttons on pyjamas – this was one of her part time jobs. But she thought it was best to pour him a drink, she needed the money and if he was the groom’s brother it meant he was somewhat rich and that meant her tip would more than ten percent maybe even more than sewing the buttons on the pyjamas.
“A month? Isn’t that too long for a honeymoon?” she asked acting interested in his story.
“Exactly,” Lee bellowed then sighed. “A month is ridiculous. Only a guy who has lost his mind goes on a month honeymoon.”
“So true. Who in their right mind would do that?” she agreed blandly, thinking about her morning schedule. It was already quarter past three, she was meant to sew all those buttons before 4 AM, sleep for thirty minutes, deliver milk at 4:30 AM then rush to her job as a medical resident at 6AM – she specialised and studied haematology, the study and treatment of diseases related to blood. The job lasted until 5 PM then she needed to take the bus to her part time job as a private mathematician tutor for a high school student, this usually ended at 6:30 PM. Then she needed to hurry to her part time job as a cleaner at a convenience store then at the café nearby but as she thought about her daily schedule, she realised she needed to calculate her monthly budget. She had received her father’s treatment cost for the month and that was the most important expense.
Her father had a disease known as Acquired Haemophilia. It was a rare disease that resulted in sporadic bleeding and internal haemorrhaging within the body, there was no fixed cause or known reason why and how the disease began. The only found medical knowledge was that there was a spontaneous, uncontrolled bleeding that occurred and this could lead to death.
Mira’s sole reason for studying and specialising in haematology was her father. He was the reason why she had found a way to qualify for a scholarship and did so many odd jobs – she needed to ensure that he had the best treatment to continue living. But she knew the treatment would be expensive even with the discount she received for being a scholarship student and registering her father as a patient to test out the newly founded drugs.
And then there was her mother –a difficult burden. When Mira was 6 months old, her mother had dropped her into the arms of her father and left. Her mother only returned home to them when she needed comfort or money but for the past few years the only correspondence from her mother were debt collectors that knocked on Mira’s door. And even though Mira knew her mother was a charismatic and shameless soul, she still took responsibility for paying off all the debts because of her father. Her father loved her mother and no matter how many times Mira told him to give up on her, he said he couldn’t because her mother had given him a priceless gift, a daughter.
And although they were not biological father and daughter, he loved her as if she was. And she loved him as if he was her real father which in her heart he was. He was the one who took care of her from birth, no one else but him. He was a priceless gift to her.
“A good question,” responded Lee, lifting his glass to his lips. “Shall I tell you?” He sipped his whiskey.
Her mouth turned into an annoyed line, she couldn’t just idly stand and pour this drunk guest drinks for the rest of the morning, he was invading on her time. And time was money. Maybe if she listened to his sad story and subtly rushed him, he would leave sooner but then she looked at him. He stared at the liquid within his glass while he swirled it round and round then gulped the whiskey down. She realised it would be pointless to have any kind of hope.
“Go ahead, I’m all ears,” she said, accepting her fate as she tried to suppress her yawn, wondering how long she needed to act to be interested in this drunk guest’s story before he left.
“I need another drink before I can tell you,” he said sluggishly and then sighed deeply. “Another drink.” He swirled the empty glass in the air.
She should refuse but she thought on the large tip he would give her and how much she needed the money. She could not afford to lose a penny especially since she had to pay for her father’s medical bill and pay off loans. Well, she thought, if he was not planning to leave, she would need to stay and plan her time in the bar. She needed to compile her budget and calculate expenses and costs. She poured him another drink then reached for her bag, removing the medical bill.
“A man who goes on a full month honeymoon is a man in love with his wife,” Lee finally told her the answer.
“Isn’t that obvious?” she said barely thinking about what he was saying. She opened the medical bill and the amount was more than she expected, it was 100 000. A hundred thousand, last month it had been sixty thousand. It rose forty percent.
“But you don’t understand,” Lee slurred his words as he explained, “a man in love with his wife is good. It’s great, it’s wonderful, especially if that man is horribly talented, skilled and charming.”
“Horribly?” Mira echoed the word, not understanding his drunk babble. She tied her fringe into an upright ponytail and found a pen and a napkin on the bar counter. She began to calculate her expenses. Her goal – a hundred thousand, a hundred thousand was the monthly cost. She began to list her current income amounts from her various odd jobs on the white napkin.
“Doing right must have flaws. You can’t be perfect at everything, it’s the way you get hated,” said Lee with drunk reason as he sipped his whiskey.
“Perfect,” said Mira, summing her entire income estimation amount, it added up to nine thousand. Then she began listing her expenses on the left hand side of the napkin.
“Maybe if I was perfect, she would have chosen me,” Lee said thoughtfully.
“This is troubling,” murmured Mira, tapping the pen on the bar counter. She had discovered she was short by four thousand, excluding the loans. She had to go through the amounts again to analyse where she could cut off in order to meet her financial goal.
“Troubling? It’s me that’s the trouble,” responded Lee, thinking she was talking to him.
Mira found a red pen, she was going to make corrections based on what was a necessity expense. She stared intently at the expense descriptions and amounts, she drummed the red pen on the bar counter thinking what she could eliminate. Maybe she could eliminate textbooks, she needed them but she did not have to buy them. She could borrow them from a fellow student or the library. She crossed out the textbooks amount and then continued to tap the red pen against the bar counter.
“I can’t be in love with her. I am the sickening trouble,” Lee said. “I want to be the groom. I want to be Aiden but that is disgusting.”
“What else can one do?” Mira murmured, lost in her world of credits and debits, wondering what else could be eliminated to increase the income amount. Maybe the rent for the apartment, she was hardly ever there and there was not anything in the apartment worth keeping and it was only a matter of time before her mother’s debt collectors would find her and knock on her door. She could easily live out of the backpack she carried and if she did need shelter, she could buy a tent.
“I dunno what to do. But I might feel better if I could punch him. If I could beat him at something,” Lee responded to the bartender’s question.
“A tent…” Her thought escaped from her mouth. She happened to pass a tent shop last week while rushing to her cleaning job. It costed around 12 bucks. If she had bought this tent earlier, she could have saved so much money and avoided those debt collectors’ threats.
“They might be honeymooning in a tent,” Lee replied, trying to make sense of what the bartender meant. “For a month you could do a number of things. Camping is one of them and it is warm and cosy in a tent especially when it gets dark.”
Mira blinked twice, her ears actually paid attention to what this guest said. It was surprisingly helpful. When night time came around and it was dark in her tent she would need a lamp. She needed a light source, one that lasted long and did not have to be replaced. The idea bumped against her head, a solar lamp! The cost of a solar lamp was 20 bucks.
“This is brilliant!” she exclaimed, crossing out the rental cost for the apartment with her red pen and replaced it with the new amount of the tent and solar lamp on her napkin.
“Yeah. Honeymoons are brilliant,” Lee said sarcastically. He tasted more of his whiskey.
Mira’s ears failed to listen, she was too focused on her calculations. She stared at the remaining items tapping the pen against the counter as she thought on more items she could eliminate to save on costs. The food costs could be limited even though they would provide the basic nutrients she could just keep the tuna but the overall cost should be 10 bucks. The items that remained unchanged were her father’s clothes and the bus fee. She had enough sanitary items for the month. She began calculating on the napkin with the new expense amounts.
But even though she had deducted so much she still needed two thousand and four hundred and this was excluding the loans she owed. “Arghh,” she groaned in frustration. “What to do? What to do?” she asked herself but Lee heard and thought she was talking to him.
“There is only one way to solve this. I need to be better than him. I won’t get that love but I’m sure I’ll get our fathers’ favour. The construction business and a father’s love is gained by whoever works the hardest.”
Mira finally pulled herself from the napkin filled with calculations hearing the word construction business. She glanced at the drunk guest, “Who are you again?”
Lee smiled tasting the last drop of whiskey on his tongue, “Lee Shin, the lost son of D&R Construction.”
“D&R Construction? One of the biggest construction companies in the country,” she asked, starring so long at his face that his pores began to emit foreign currency in her eyes.
“That’s right. Now we’ve expanded. This wedding was an official public agreement that we are a part of the Sloanes. And the beautiful Sloanes are a part of us,” Lee said, thinking how beautiful his sister-in-law was.
“So your brother is the groom?” Mira asked, testing the financial opportunity waters. Her eyes glinted, they actually began to sparkle with ideas on how to use the drunk man in front of him. She tried to recall what he was talking about before she got wrapped up in her budget calculations. He had said he wanted to be the groom, he admired his brother.
Lee laughed. “Of course he is the groom, who else could it be? It could not possibly be me.” He lifted up his empty glass, silently requesting another double shot of whiskey.
“If you find the right lady, you’ll be a groom soon enough,” she said optimistically, eying him, trying to figure an angle to shake him to drop a coin like a piggy bank she never had. Did he want to be a groom that badly? It wasn’t as if he was bad looking and he was an heir of a big construction company, he could have easily found a wife anywhere.
“Hah!” he snorted. “The right girl? The right girl is married!”
“It isn’t as though marriage lasts long,” she advised, pouring whiskey into his glass, “people change their minds all the time.” She had witnessed this in her own life, her mother was the exact type, she came home when she loved her husband and left him when she found something she loved more and then she returned when she felt like she loved him again. Maybe this drunk Lee Shin, heir of D&R Construction needed a push in the right or even wrong hands.
“Maybe,” Lee said staring into the glass of whiskey, “but even if I could change her mind, I’d probably be disowned.”
“Do families still do that in this day and age?” she asked incredulously, “if you want anything in this life you have to take it.” She needed to find his weaknesses, she needed to prod and pick.
“Take what you believe is yours?” Lee drank some of his whiskey. “But that would be stealing. Stealing from a friend is fine but family. Isn’t that against some natural moral law?” This is what he had been contemplating earlier.
“Family become strangers,” Mira said truthfully. Her own biological mother was a stranger to her. “And strangers become family, even closer than family,” she continued. Her father was not her biological father but he was not a stranger, he was closer than a real father could ever be.
Lee laughed, “You say some interesting things.” It reminded him of the first time he had met Rei, she told him friends were strangers you never knew. “Perhaps you are right. What is family if you are unhappy?”
Lee smirked. “Do you want to help me?”
“With another drink?”
His smirk broadened as if he had found the secret to a dark revelation. “Nope.” He raised his glass indicating it was still filled with whiskey. “Do you want to help me steal my brother’s wife?” he asked.
“Do you want to help me?” he repeated, realising he did not know this bartender’s name. He paused and asked her. “What is your name?” His eyes squinted at her face, her fringe no more covered her eyes, it was perched from her forehead. He could tell that her eyes were a silver grey, they reminded him of a wolf.
“Mira Ahn,” she replied, unsure if she heard his preposition correctly.
“Mira Ahn, will you assist me in stealing my brother’s wife?” he proposed, “you seem to know a lot on family and thievery. If it’s someone like you, I’m sure I’d be able to win her over.”
She laughed in disbelief still unsure if she was hearing correctly. “Are you serious?”
“Yes. I liked her. I’m pretty sure I love her. I want her to be my wife,” he affirmed. “So will you, Mira Ahn help me steal my brother’s wife?” He stared into her wolfish eyes.
“It will cost you,” said Mira, grinning. She found this proposal intriguing. This drunk guest did not admire his brother, he was soppy and drunk because he was in love with his brother’s wife and wanted to marry her himself. “Is a hundred thousand worthy of stealing her?”
Lee smiled, this bartender named Mira Ahn definitely resembled a sly grey wolf. “Yes. A hundred thousand is worthy of her love,” he replied, drunk but very happy.
Mira quickly scribbled something on the other side of her calculation napkin then she wrote the exact same thing on the new napkin and signed both napkins.
“Here is the contract,” she said, pushing the napkins towards his side of the bar counter, “Sign on the dotted napkin and we have a deal.”
He did not bother to read the contents and happily signed his name on both napkins. “Looks like we have a deal,” he said, shoving one of the signed napkins in his front chest pocket.
She held out her hand and he shook her hand in agreement.
“I think this is a start of a new friendship,” she said, grinning slyly. Mischievous ideas bobbed in her head. Her father taught her ethics, her father taught her right and wrong but her father never taught her what she needed to do when he got ill and there were medical bills to be paid. One hundred thousand to break up a marriage was worthy of her father’s medical treatment. And even though it was wrong on all accounts and her father would disapprove of this preposition, he would thank her when he was cured. She was personally going to be the judge that divorces the groom and bride and her plan would start on their wedding day.