Less Than a Hundred Days of Summer

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Chapter 18

Giselle was watching Caribbean sunset from the comfortable chair, where she usually lounged in the afternoons. She was sipping her normative drink of a successful writer – freshly brewed coffee - a stimulating concoction to keep her mind conditioned and ready to produce another marvelous creation to vow the public and critics alike.

Her dark hair was falling in soft waves below her shoulders, brushing at the raised chest. She absentmindedly ran her fingers through a particularly annoying lock which obstructed her vision, pushing it back. She hated when she could not see well. Her phone chimed with a text message; she lazily requested, "Read," and a perky women's voice with a stylish accent announced. "Your flight is booked."

"Alejandra," she called loudly. "Pack my bags, we are flying to LA."

"Yes, senora," a docile voice of her maid responded from another room.

Lee Tae Soo was donned in all black: Black suit with a form fitting silhouette, black shirt and a black tie. His shoes were shiny and black, of course. He moved lightly as usual, his steps easy and unassuming, long legs striding like on a catwalk. He glanced at his wristwatch and tsked. "I won't have time to properly freshen up. I hate these long flights."

His ambition finally fulfilled, he just needed to overcome one more hurdle. He was invited for a reading by none other than Mr. Gangitano – a famous and well-respected Hollywood producer. Anybody who starred in his movie was guaranteed to become an instant sensation overnight.

Tae Soo was not ashamed of his boasting pride. He worked his ass off and damn it, he deserved it! The role was a bit cliché, but had a torturous dark side to the character, which Tae Soo could do to perfection. He was supposed to play a South Korean spy, working in the US undercover, posing as support personnel at a CIA branch in Los Angeles. It was a controversial topic, since the two countries in reality enjoyed friendship and cooperation. But that's why Gangitano was the person to pull it off. His creative genius delivered Oscars and prizes at numerous international festivals. His movies were fresh and unconventional, always with a twist, but ultimately just very well produced sure to collect at the box-office Hollywood blockbusters.

"Mr. Lee," a young Korean woman with a smile waved at him. "Over here." She quickly introduced herself and with efficiency of a personal assistant began to go over the details of his stay. The limousine was waiting outside to take him to the hotel. The meeting was to be held in his room for privacy and his comfort. He mentally noted that it was very thoughtful and even too thoughtful, making him a bit concerned. Did they expect something from him? "I will be your interpreter," she announced.

"I speak English."

"I know, but just in case."

"I can handle myself," he insisted more assertively. Able to speak and understand English was something that he considered a pretty big personal accomplishment. Despite his accent, he could communicate fluently and was complimented on many an occasion.

"I apologize," she retreated, lowering her eyes.

He stopped and took a deep breath, realizing that he was finally here. He was just a step away from the door. The walk from the customs to the international terminal exit was barely a minute.

He heard whispers and giggles, and the sounds of camera shutters and phone clicks. There was a small circle of admirers, mostly Korean nationals that recognized him. He cordially smiled and nodded, allowing them to take pictures.

Another wave of passengers came out speaking loudly in Spanish. They passed by him and something melancholic awakened in his heart. A tall woman brushed past him, not looking, her curvy shape draped by jeans and a blue t-shirt; hair moving freely below shoulders when she turned back as if forgetting something and looked in his direction. Somebody pushed her, blocking his view. Longingly he stared at her back while she disappeared behind the open door to be swallowed by the hot Los Angeles air and the loud sounds of automobile horns.

He followed behind, searching for her in the crowd and caught a sight of her as she was crossing the street and talking on the phone, while she maneuvered her luggage over the curb. She stopped at the bench for a rental car shuttle. Tae Soo strained to see her face, but his guide softly touched his forearm, "Your car, Lee Tae Soo-shi, we don't have much time. Traffic is always heavy in LA." She slid on the seat next to him, handing him a tablet with the schedule. He glanced absentmindedly at it, continuing to think about that Spanish-speaking passenger. Was she still waiting for a shuttle?

"Can you review this again, please?"

The woman was persistent. He looked out the window and was surprised that they had already left the airport. Tall, sky-hugging palms dotted the street and a sea of cars moved slowly along a wide boulevard. The traffic was on a crawl and there was not much of a scenery to take in. He nodded, taking over the tablet and focused.

Giselle was used to traveling. This was not her first visit to Los Angeles. This time around she added an extra week to her schedule for an actual vacation. She never had a chance to do all the touristy things and really wanted to go to Disney Land and Universal Studios.

Her secret wish was to rent a car and drive down Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at various beaches to go sunbathing, swimming and watching sexy surfers. She needed a break. This publishing deal took a lot of her energy. The book was selling well and she had a few signings arranged. But the main attraction was a possible offer to convert her story to a script. Apparently, there was an Indie movie producer, who got really interested in the whole concept of exposing the underbelly of Korean movie industry, doing an expose on Hallyu wave, deglamorising it and its stars.

It was not the point of her story. It was a story about a man and his internal struggles. He just happened to be a Korean drama star. But to her credit, she has done a lot of research and the book came out quite realistically depicting how difficult it was to always maintain a public image pleasing to the fans, while striving for normalcy or its semblance in private life.

The book was cathartic for her in many ways. She was finally able to put behind the last remnants of her summer with Lee Tae Soo, her beautiful once in a lifetime romance that haunted her in her dreams up till now.

She was married briefly, very briefly - a few short and smoldering months of pure lust and constant fighting. She quickly ended it and never looked back, if only to wonder what was wrong with her to even conceive of the idea that she could be married to a guy whose only redeeming quality was his considerable stamina and skills in bed. Afterwards, she dated on and off, but mainly, writing was her partner in life. She did not feel that she was missing out on something terribly by not having a family or a boyfriend by her side. Since she never wished for children, she was not listening to her biological clock. She was in no rush to bind herself to a man or a relationship. She enjoyed the freedom to do what she wanted, when she wanted.

Giselle went on to get her Master's in literature. First, she got a job as an editor and then started writing, managing to publish short stories. Finally, her novel was picked up by a big publishing company and she could afford to leave her day job and to focus on writing full time.

Lately, she stopped following Tae Soo's career, letting go of a foolish fantasy to bump into him on the street and have their love rekindled with renewed strength. On the street of which city: Seoul? Paris? Los Angeles?

At the airport today, there was some Korean crowd, and for a second, her heart jumped at the sight of a tall man, as she walked next to him. As she turned, another passenger obstructed the view and she took it as sign not to feed her delusions. Even if it was Tae Soo, which was very unlikely, she did not want to see him. That's what she realized today, feeling pain shooting in her heart as she kept feeling his eyes on her back. Why was she so crazy? Imagining such ridiculous things?

She was finally in a good place emotionally and she did not want to be shaken.

"Lee Tae Soo, I presume," the man shook the actor's hand and his sharp eyes tried to pierce through the friendly neutrality on Tae Soo's face.

"Nice to finally meet you in person," bowed his head respectfully Tae Soo.

The food was delivered to the suite and the conversation was professional and going well. The director asked Tae Soo about his acting style, what kind of things he expected from directing, his work ethics, basically, it was an informal interview-audition. Tae Soo doled out his charming smiles and presented a humble, but confident side of him that he was so famous for. He never wanted to be known as a spoiled and demanding star.

"Do I get the part, then?"

"Yes, you do. You already had it before we started the conversation. I like your look and your acting is good; I've seen your latest movie. This was just a formality and to see if we can work well together."

"Thank you, thank you very much," Tae Soo shook the man's hand with excitement and smiled. "I won't disappoint you, I will work hard."

"I know you will. By the way, have you seen Los Angeles yet?"

"No, I just arrived. Where do you suggest I go first?"

"If you want to see Los Angeles, you need to hang out with Angelinos, not go where the tourists go. I'm meeting with a friend later, he is going to a book signing of the author he wants to convince to do a script for him. We were planning to have dinner afterwards and you are welcomed to join us."

"Is it what Angelinos do?"

"Well, a nice restaurant for lunch in Hollywood hills, dinner in Beverly Hills and a drive down to Malibu for cocktails will be a good introduction. Have you seen the ocean yet?"

"No..." his voice trailed off and he disappeared somewhere in his mind for a moment. "It is the most mysterious at night, is not it?"

"Oh, a romantic?"

"Me? Not anymore. More of a pragmatic. Where shall we meet?"

"Why are you doing this? Why?" She was screaming. Her face red with anger, her voice getting at that high pitch that cut ears.

"I don't owe you anything," he answered cringing from the scream. The girl was annoying. Her charm was in her personality and he did not go out with her to endure her demands and hysterics.

"We agreed to be exclusive, we promised!" She continued with tears in her eyes. "How could you do this to me? Now everybody is laughing behind my back, pointing fingers!"

"Sorry. My image has suffered also."

"You selfish bastard!"

"That I am. Did I ever pretend with you to be otherwise?"

"No, but I thought…" she sniffled. "Because we were dating in secret that it meant something."

"It did. It meant that we are dating in secret to avoid exactly this," he made a vague gesture with his hand. "I like you as a person. You are easy and fun. But it just happened. We never wanted it to be serious, right?"

"Right," she wiped off her eyes. "I mean, I was serious about dating you. For now."

"Well, like I said, I did not plan on this happening. I was not sure about this other girl, because we were just hooking up. We worked late and ran into each other a few times in the gym, you know how she is. We clicked. I did not know it would become a regular thing."

"Yes, I get it. So if I start hooking up with somebody, you would not mind either."

"No, it is your choice. We don't sleep that often together lately. I've been feeling like it's dying out."

"Dying out? You don't find me attractive anymore?"

"I think you are cute and sweet. And you have beautiful legs, you know I always get turned on… But I've been tired and I travel a lot. We don't see much of each other. And when we do… Don't you feel like we are just like strangers who used to be infatuated with each other for a while?"

"I sure feel like you are a stranger," her voice started rising again, the whiny quality of her usually cheerful tone was disturbing. He did not bother to pretend that he was willing to tolerate her outburst or continue the interrogation. It seemed like they were breaking up tonight.

"Should I say I'm sorry, or you would rather we part and agree to let it go, so that we can be civil at least in public?"

"Are you going to manage the rumor?"

"I will have to. I guess since I stirred the trouble, it should be my side."

"Well, then. Go, fuck yourself, pretty boy." She yelled getting very close to his face, even with heels on, she could not be at his eye level.

He only looked down, serious, a coldness in his eyes, which did not suit him. It felt foreign coming from him. And she regretted that the last memory of them together would be that.

It was quiet for a moment before the sound of the book closing reverberated in the room. The crowd gathered at the bookstore murmured with the words of approval and broke out into well-deserved applause. The writer thanked them, getting up from her seat and asked if there were any questions.

A young woman timidly raised her hand. A microphone was handed to her and she clasped it, speaking very softly. "There is this moment in the story, when the actor is asked to recite a poem that he relates to. He is always a bit cold and removed, although polite with others. He can be friendly at work, but as you illustrated in this excerpt, his romantic relationships are no more than matters of convenience. There is such a duality to him, since here and there you demonstrate his warmth and passion, which he otherwise hides skillfully." The young woman coughed embarrassed by the sound of her own voice and the attention she commanded. "I am rambling... Going back to the poem. It seems very personal. Like he had lived through something and now it has been affecting all the aspects of his life."

"And your question?"

"Why did you show us that aspect of him? It is not something that is addressed in depth anywhere in the book."

"Because he is a human being. Like all of us. That is the main point of the book. Because that poem is as much as he has ever shown to the outside world what is really going on inside of him. I believe he is a very sensitive man, which makes him an excellent actor. And his acting is informed by his ability to listen to his heart."

Encouraged by her positive reception, the woman requested, blushing very deeply, "Do you mind reading that poem? It really touched me."

"Of course." The author flipped through the pages, but then put the book aside and fixing her gaze somewhere into a far distance began:

"I remember you in my silence, in the silence of my heart.

I never stopped and I never will.

Lying in bed, my dreams are invaded by you.

And during the day my mind wonders

And escapes my grip silently searching for you.

Where are you now?

What are you doing?

Are you thinking about me?

Do you ever think about me?

What is hiding in the silence of your heart?

Is there a place for me there?

You are in the gentle colors of sunrises and the burned out sunsets,



never to disappear,

always and forever.

Sometimes, I'm amazed at your never fading presence;

You come and go as you please, tugging at the soft chords of my heart,

making me feel as if I'm about to cry from the swelling in my chest,

filling me with tears of longing and ecstasy of suffering that will never seize

as long as you are silently occupying my heart.

At the last sentence her voice trembled with concealed tears. The author smiled awkwardly and announced that if there were no more questions, she would be offering to sign the copies of the book.

"Did you base the main character in the story on a real person?"

She would recognize this soft and velvety voice with a very particular accent anywhere. This most desirable sound that caressed her very soul and made her chest rise in rapid successions had the same effect on her as an unstoppable tropical storm. A violent tempest was beating the waves on the surface of the sea into wild messy curls, slapping and tearing into each other for dominance and rushing toward the shore to cause inevitable damage. She was the Island under attack of merciless nature, the hurricane was coming and it was about to release overwhelming anxiety onto the peaceful land. She was no longer protected and all she could feel was all consuming fear to see the owner of this most spectacular and singular voice that could cause this tsunami of emotions in the calm waters of Giselle's inner world.

She could not lift her head, heavy with tears that collected themselves behind her eyelids. She had to close her eyes and tell herself to calm down. This was not possible. "Would you like an autograph?" she extended her hand toward the book without looking.

"Yes, please make it to Lee... Tae... Soo."

She stalled, stuck in this impossibly long second between the beginning and the end of the moment when she would meet his eyes and get lost in them all over again and then how would she find the way back? Who would give her a hand and pull her out back into reality? How long could she survive without dying thousand deaths inside those bottomless almond eyes the color of melted chocolate?

"Sure," she murmured, her hand refusing the words, pen shaking in her hand uncontrollably until she finally managed to have it touch the page and scribble 'To Lee Tae Soo'.

"Here you go," she said somewhere to the side, making sure her eyes stayed down. She wanted to save herself while she had a chance. If she would be able not to look at him, she could continue living.

"Congratulations on your book." The voice was very sad and understanding. He retreated, giving her that chance she was hoping for, the chance to live without him, like she has been doing for the last ten years.

"Don't look up, don't look up, don't look up," she begged herself and pleaded with the part of her that held onto a silly notion that she could still pretend as if this serendipitous meeting had not occurred. And then something much stronger than her took over her mind, a signal was sent to the muscles, her neck bended, head tilted and her eyes were forced to see in front of her – there was no tall Korean waiting. There was a line of people politely waiting their turn, mostly women. Her eyes searched still involuntary, grasping desperately at every male shape in the room, but the one man, she could not help but wish to see, was not around.

Storm raged and she could hear the laughter of the dark skies as it picked up her heart that was losing the battle and threw it hard and callously, a shipwrecked little thing, to wither under the crying heavens because the Island named Giselle was no longer a safe refuge.

She sat through the rest of the signing in a daze, her mind was a blur, her feelings were a mess, and she was a stupid and scared girl, who did herself wrong on her own accord. Therefore, she deserved this. He approached her first and she refused to even see his face. What did she expect? That he would grab her, lift away and carry her out under the encouraging screams of the excited crowd, while they would kiss like in a happy ending of a clichéd Hollywood romance?

"Miss, your appointment is here." A young salesgirl pointed toward a shifty little man, very unpleasantly hairy, but with very smart and quick eyes.

"Hello. It seems that your book signing was quite successful. You did not forget we had dinner plans?"

"Mr. Shklovsky?" She squinted up at him remembering the reason she came to LA in the first place. She wanted to say: "Yes, I actually did. Do you mind if we cancel? I need to go kill myself slowly and painfully for the next 50 years of my miserable lonely life." But instead she politely smiled. "I'm very excited about this opportunity. Let me get ready."

Her purse did not have much makeup, just enough to give life to her unusually pale face. Her eyes looked like she just survived a plane crash and was still in shock at the fact she was in one piece, walking and talking. Her lips lost their usually cherry hue and she heavily smothered lipstick over them. She applied mascara to her lashes and some blush on her dull cheeks. She gave herself a very annoying and uninspiring pep talk, scoffing at the lack of verbal skill for a published writer. "I wish Lena was here to use her convincing powers."

Only now she noticed that she was not alone in the bathroom. A young Asian woman came over to the counter, gave her a stranger-in-the-bathroom acknowledgement smile and also pulled out a make up kit for a touch up of her already perfect without a blemish face.

Giselle paused, thinking that this was the kind of woman who would probably be the one seating across the table from Tae Soo, drinking ten dollar coffee at his expense and enjoying his smiles. Was she Korean or Chinese? She never learned to quite tell the difference, although Tae Soo used to try and explain it to her. Back then, she only needed to recognize one face that mattered and nobody was like him thousands of miles around to provide valuable comparison.

She looked at herself in the mirror again and gasped at what she had done to her face. The lips were too much and the blush was crazily bright. She grabbed a napkin and dipping it in the water, began to rub the stark colors off.

"Excuse me," the woman called for her attention. "I have this make up remover, it is very gentle on the skin." And she pulled out a small package with very familiar and painfully recognizable letters in Korean. Giselle nodded and whispered, "thank you".

The moistened sheet was refreshing and lightly scented, very refined, just like its owner. Giselle sighed about her impossible dreams and remembered now very clearly why her and Tae Soo could never work. This sobering thought was the most helpful thing she could do for herself. She took out lip gloss, settling on a more natural look. The color has started to return to her cheeks and her eyes no longer looked like she was dead for a week and was brought back to life by a magical spell, still leaving her look like a corpse on the outside.

"I like your hair," complimented overly friendly woman. "What do you do to keep it straight?"

"Somebody used to ask me that. I don't know. It just looks like that."

"I can't live without a hairdryer," the girl continued. "I even have a portable one whenever I travel."

"So there is someone else like that..." Giselle chuckled. Maybe, it was a Korean thing. There was still so much she did not know about that culture.

The phone rang, saying "Pick me up" in Korean. How on earth Giselle knew that, she was not sure, but she giggled, covering her mouth.

"Tae Soo-shi, I'll be right out."

And then Giselle's heart stopped.

The woman quickly collected her belongings, said "goodbye" and fluttered out on her five-inch heels as if they were comfy sneakers.

Giselle was left standing in front of the mirror, staring at her own shocked reflection, confused by this day of too many coincidences. Her little joke about this woman being Tae Soo's girlfriend did not seem so far fetched any more.

And then she realized that the only sentiment she felt toward the love of her life was... loathing. She hated his guts. She detested the whole idea of him. She despised his selfish and tactless interference in her perfectly arranged life. How dare he shows up at HER book signing to stir up some ancient feelings, the deep need for him that was long forgotten, the desperation to see his beautiful face and to bathe herself in his eyes one more time! How dare he ruins her life!

It was supposed to be the happiest day of her career. She was supposed to celebrate and be merry. She should be out drinking and flirting with some hot guys, instead of standing in the bathroom of a bookstore and staring at herself helplessly in a mirror.

How dare he parades his young and flawless Korean girlfriend in front of her! Hateful, cruel, heartless, horrible man!

The lunch was lovely and tasty, fresh Californian fare in a tiny place hidden amongst the canyon up in Hollywood Hills.

The next stop was the book sighing. A poster with the book title was displayed at the entrance. G. Rodriquez, he noted in passing.

He was prepared to be bored out of his mind, but a familiar voice caught his attention. He strained his hearing, stopping, and his chest tightened, squeezing his heart painfully.

It was ten years since he last heard that voice. Before he looked to where it was coming from, he had to start breathing, but taking a breath proven to be an arduous task. As he turned his head, the image in front of him went out of focus and the room started to spin slowly, like he was on a carousel. He could see just a shape and dark hair, he could hear the words reaching him, but for the life of him, he could not catch her face. Breathe, Tae Soo, breathe, you stupid bastard.

It was truly a miracle or rather providence - to glimpse at the woman whom he voluntarily let go, but never stopped thinking about, because not forgetting her was the only thing he could do for her. If I care – I will never look back, he decided then and stayed away at all costs, his own happiness falling victim first.Giselle...

His life turned out to be no better than a typical Korean drama.

Giselle. Tae Soo experienced the kind of happiness he has not felt since long ago, since the careless time of the sun kissed romance on the shores of the Caribbean - his beautiful summer of untarnished love. He stood by a column out of sight, his back pressed against the coolness of the stone, and his eyes closed, focused on the sound of her voice - the voice of brightness and sunshine, the voice that gave him so much joy. However, the poem had her voice breaking, breaking his heart along with it. He mouthed "in the silence of my heart" after her, feeling as if each word was meant to be spoken by him.

It was still painful to breathe. But his vision came in focus and when she finished the last sentence, he dared to study her. Her smile has not changed. And her hair was as long and silky as he remembered it. If he could steal time, borrow extra minutes, or pay for them in advance, he would spend a fortune to be able to watch her from afar. Before he was in love with her, he had already been drawn to her, when he spent his evenings at the chicken joint for the only reason to look at Giselle. If he had not met her then by chance... he would not be scared now.

Tae Soo contemplated whether to show himself. Would she be angry or happy, or maybe, worse – indifferent? He did not want to find out. They parted with the understanding that they would not seek each other out purposely. He kept his promise through the years, while his eyes followed every woman who looked similar and his feet led him toward anybody who reminded him of Giselle.

After he returned from his impromptu vacation in Puerto Rico, Tae Soo worked hard to the point of exhaustion. His mother and sister set him up on blind dates and he dutifully attended most of them. As time passed, he allowed himself to consider dating, but his career came first and with his popularly, it was difficult to find a woman who would be willing to endure the finicky affections of his fans.

He was married for five years. Out of that marriage came a large alimony payment, an ex wife who was distant, but civil, and a son, whom he did not get to see much after his ex quickly remarried and had immigrated to New Zealand. With his high profile, a messy divorce would have been a smudge on his almost perfect record, so he did not fight for his child as much as he should have. His wife was right to leave him. No money in the world could make a cold marriage feel warmer.

"Tae Soo-shi, why did you guys park so far? Are you hiding from someone?"

"Please get in," He answered without looking.

"By the way, that book, it was pretty interesting. I ran into the author in the bathroom. She is a bit clumsy with makeup."

"She is, she always was." He smiled gently, looking into the distance.


"I am sorry, but I did not catch your name, since we are going to be working closely."

"Angie Song."

"American name. Do you have a Korean name?"

"Song Yoon Ah."

"I think it is pretty. Do you mind if I call you Yoon Ah-shi?" He chuckled. Those American born Koreans always trying to fit in, yet they never forget to give their babies a Korean name, just in case.

"Sure, Mr. Lee."

The producer was talking about something, but Tae Soo's mind was elsewhere. If Giselle hated even the sight of him, did he even have the right to appear in front of her? He was embarrassed by his naiveté. After all these years, Giselle still had this effect on him: turning him into a man full of sincere and pure emotions, a hopeful fool, who now felt rejected in the harshest way possible and absolutely unable to face her one more time. He would only be rejected again, unless... he was confused by her like many times before, since he obviously, was not thinking with his head, but with his heart, and Tae Soo knew well where that might lead him.

"I think I might pass on the dinner. I'm getting a headache."

"But I thought you wanted to see LA," Gangitano mentioned from the front seat without turning.

"I've seen more than I can handle for tonight. Jet lag is catching up to me," feigned a sleepy haze on his face Tae Soo.

"Damn, I will be late. It is the height of traffic, if I have to go back home for the car..." complained the producer.

"Don't worry. We will drop you off. After all, it is completely my fault," reassured him Tae Soo.

Angie was glancing at him with curiosity. She did not get this job because of her looks, although the looks did not hurt. Ever since she was a little girl, her dream was to work with actors, in the midst of the mysterious Hollywood glow that unreachable for the general population stars cast on those around them. Her niche was very specific, but it worked well, since she spoke Korean fluently and received the necessary degrees in media relations, communication, Korean, English and, of course, as a certified interpreter. She had an agent, who connected her with some of the major Korean entertainment houses, and after landing a summer internship she never looked back, permanently securing herself a spot as one of the most well educated, polite and efficient assistants. Her boyfriend would be thrilled to find out about her latest client, Mr. Lee Tae Soo, who has been his idol for a while.

In her experience, none of these stars were who they really appeared to be on the surface. This man was perfectly fine, even friendly a minute ago, and now he was blowing off an important networking opportunity with the producer, who personally invited him to have dinner with him. Something was off.

"Tae Soo-shi," she tapped him politely on the shoulder.

When he turned, she noticed a worry wrinkle split his forehead in two, looking preoccupied with something quite deeply and her disturbance unwelcomed. "What is it?"

She leaned closer to his ear, making him pull away instinctually at first, but then near again to hear her whisper.

"You seem upset all of a sudden. I think you are pretending and as your assistant on your trip, it is my job to ensure that you are comfortable. Please, don't hesitate to tell me if you need anything," she stated politely.

He threw a surprised look at her, a bit taken aback by her forwardness. It was nice to know that she was willing to help, but if she could read him so easily, he was losing his touch. "Thank you, Miss Song," he responded in a formal tone. "I will call on you in the future. For now, I just want to return to the hotel."

The traffic was stop and go. The comfortable limousine was too big to maneuver in this bumper to bumper river of slow cars, and the time stretched painfully.

When they finally arrived at the restaurant, the producer was avidly texting back and forth with somebody and Angie was preoccupied with her tablet, doing whatever busy assistants do.

From behind the tinted window of the car, Tae Soo could see a curvy female figure next to a short male. He had an option to get out of the car and walk over or have the vehicle turned around and drive home. He imagined awkward introductions and the chilly distance between them. And when he would politely excuse himself from the dinner due to health reasons, Giselle would relax and smile, finally. "Ani, ani," he muttered, pressing his eyes closed with a thumb and a point finger. He rubbed his eyelids, messing his long lashes and shook his head animatedly.

"Mr. Gangitano, I want to apologize for inconvenience, I will make it up to you, I promise," he addressed his companion.

"What? Oh, no problem," the man turned, "maybe, still join us for drinks later?"

"Who will be there?"

"Just me and Shklovsky. Unless his protégé will come along."

"I will call you. Yoon Ah-shi, get the directions just in case."

"Yes, sir." The woman nodded.

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