Our Secret Melody

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Lyric: Seventy-Two

Melrose POV:

*1 year later*

“Oh my god, Mel! I owe you so much for covering my appointments this afternoon, I forgot to fill my car with gas last night! Still can’t believe my car stopped running... so embarrassing.”

With Lizzy embracing me in a thankful hug, she snuggled herself close to me as I finished cleaning my station.

“It’s no problem, you really don’t owe me anything. You’ve done more than enough for me already, I’m forever grateful with how you were able to help me get a job here in this salon-”

“Don’t say that, I would have hired you anyway.”

My words were cut short once I heard my boss speaking to me, looking in his direction, I saw that he was approaching us! Once he did, he began to ruffle the hair of her cousin’s head in a child-like matter, she then instantly released me as she gave our boss an annoying reaction before walking towards the main front door and switching the front sign to ‘closed’.

“Well, it’s getting late and I’ma head out now, goodnight guys. Oh! And don’t worry about cleaning tomorrow. Sorry that I can’t help tonight but I have a huge essay that I need to finish on. It’s due tomorrow and-”

“It’s completely fine, I understand. I’ll see you tomorrow and good luck on your essay,” I responded while waving her goodbye.

“It’s hard to believe that she’s already in college, I feel like it was only a few days ago that I was dropping her off in high school when she was still a freshman...time really goes by quickly.” My boss suddenly said in a bittersweet smile as he started to help me clean.

“Oh! You don’t have to help me, I can do it-”

“Rose, you need to start getting used to others helping you. In these last 8 months that I’ve been watching you, I’ve caught notice that you never take the help of what your coworkers offer. However, you're always willing to help others even when you’re exhausted. You have a very kind heart and I think that’s why I’ve come to respect you a lot ever since I hired you. But please don’t be offended when I say this to you...”

Before he could finish what he was wanting to say, he placed his hand on my shoulder while gently tucking a strand of my hair behind my ear.

“When was the last time you got a haircut?” He asked in a curious stare.

“Huh?!”

I was so flustered by his praise and compliment that I wasn’t expecting him to ask such a question!

Quickly running my hand through my long thick hair, I parted it to the side and saw just how long it has actually gotten. These past months, I haven’t really been putting myself first when it comes to self-care since I’ve been busy putting my family and co-workers as a priority. I guess I’ve been avoiding the scars that still linger deep inside me. I’m not ready to face the sorrows that I’ve locked away in my heart. I will only fall in agony if I do...

“I...guess I haven’t really thought about it-”

“In that case, have a seat, my lady.”

My boss said before he had me take a seat on one of the stools! He then quickly placed a quilt around my body as he ran his fingers through my hair!

“If a lady feels tired, she will look tired. If a lady feels beautiful, she will look beautiful and when a lady feels loved, she will look loved. Rose, each inch of your hair...carries a weight. Whether it be from your past self or the present, your hair remains a part of you and sometimes, a change of somthing new is not always bad.”

He explained as he showed the full length of my hair in front of the mirror. And what he said almost made me want to cry for some reason...I know he’s only talking about hair. But...why does it hold so much meaning to me?

“Somthing new...I guess I should try a different appearance on myself then? I’ll leave my hair for you to decide...”

I said in a weak-like smile as he slightly nodded. Watching him grab the scissors, I watched him cut away the strands of hair that...'he' once touched.

“You know, I was surprised back then when my cousin came up to me, asking if I can give you a job here. With you having graduated from beauty school, I would have hired you immediately if you came to me in person. I’m still surprised that my cousin is best friends with your little sister...which by the way. How is she doing? I don’t really ask Liz since she’s been busy with exams coming up.”

He said as I heard the snipping of his scissors...

It’s such a small world, how Lizzy’s older cousin who’s almost 28 and is my boss, owns a business. It must be nice being an owner. Someday, I hope I can achieve that goal. But for now, I need to put that dream on hold. Since I’ve been helping my parents with the bills and for my sister’s therapy sessions. there hasn’t been any time to put my money in a saving account since I end up spending it for my family’s well-being. I’ve even had to limit the days when Jin could call me from Korea...

Long-distance calls are not cheap and although Jin has offered many times to help me with money troubles. I would always end up refusing, I don’t want Jin to spend his hard work money. Even if he does get upset, I always end up scowling at him. It’s funny...but even though we’re far away from each other, he still acts like a child on the phone. Always having to explain how his day went, how he’s feeling, and just wanting to hear my voice...

“Uh, she’s still the same...more or less, she still says a few words to me. Sam has no interest in going to college and I don’t think any job will hire her in the mental state that she’s in. I had no idea that my sister could hold such a grudge. Even when I apologize, she doesn’t care to hear it...so I’m just letting her go at her pace. I’ve argued enough with her in the past and I just want things to go back to how they once were before I ever left America.”

I said to him before I felt him pulling the quilt off of me!

“It takes time for things to heal...and although things might not go back to how they used to be. You can try and work on settling for a bright future ahead of you...”

He cheerfully explained as he looked at the reflection of the mirror. The image of what I was seeing, took my words out of my mouth as I stared in awe at the girl looking in the mirror...

“I...didn’t think short hair would ever look good on me. Thank you...Ray.”

I responded in a heartwarming smile as I ran my fingers through my shoulder-length hair.

“Of course... cutting hair is what I do. So don’t ever hesitate in asking me for- oh! That’s my phone! Give me a minute...”

Watching Ray answer his call, he walked away to another room as I decide to clean up my old hair that was on the ground. Though once I finished doing that, I was suddenly bombarded by Ray’s pout of frustration!

“Rose! I’m so upset right now...my boyfriend just called and said that he’s working overtime. So he had to cancel our dinner date...”

He said in a saddened frown as he placed his phone back in his pocket...

“Oh, I’m sorry Ray. Hopefully next time you both can go out-”

“Nope, I’m going out tonight. It’s been a long day for me- oh! Rose, come with me again! It was fun when we last went out together, but don’t worry. You don’t have to drink, I know full well that you can’t hold your liquor down... especially after you-”

“Okay! No more talking! I’ll go with you if you promise to never speak of that incident again.”

I immediately said to him as I felt my cheeks grow red in embarrassment!

The memory is still implanted in my brain! When Ray offered to take me out to a bar, I became nervous since I thought he was asking me out on a date. And since he was my boss, I couldn’t bring myself to say no since I feared he would fire me. Though I completely failed to realize the type of bar Ray brought me to. I was just too nervous that I ended up drinking too much and spoke about being in Korea for almost half a year. Thank God I didn’t go into much detail about what I’ve gone through...but what was most embarrassing was how I reacted when Ray told me he was gay. I ended up asking him questions that a well-behaved lady should never ask-

“Does it hurt when it goes in the butt-”

“Shut up! Oh my god! Please...can we just go.”

I responded to his mocking laughter as we both finally left...

With Ray driving us to his favorite bar, we arrived at the location and seated ourselves in a booth. Strictly drinking water, Ray limited himself to only one glass of brandy before we both eased our stress with joyful chatter within the night. However, the sounds of 3 familiar voices could be heard coming from the TV stand near the main bar! And within seconds of the song being played, many people around the stalls cheered and sang along with the boys. Some even asked to have the volume be turned up!

“Oh! I love this song! This is from one of their new albums! Oh...just look at Zack. He’s too adorable, I can’t stand it. I just wanna hug him! Ahh! Jin looks so hot in that outfit, what I would give to have that man just- oh my god, Ray. Keep it together, you’re in a relationship, don’t be a whore. Sorry Rose, you’re seeing the dirty fanboy inside me overreact. But honestly, you are so lucky. You understand what they’re saying. I love hearing their voices even though I have no clue what they are singing about.”

Ray said in amusement as he went ahead to finish his drink...

It’s been entirely impossible to avoid seeing or even hearing about ExEx Idol. Within this year that has gone by, the group has gained popularity from almost everywhere around the countries. It’s practically ridiculous to not know who they are at this point, radio stations, news stations, magazines, tv shows, stores, and of course, social media advertise ExEx Idol, like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m glad...the boys are working so hard to make themselves known. And I couldn’t be any more proud of them, it’s no wonder Jin would sometimes fall asleep on the phone when I’m talking to him. He must be awfully tired...I hope their taking care of themselves, especially-

“Kai! Holy shit! How is that man fucking perfect!?”

“There’s no way those are his real eye color?!”

“I will marry that man, I don’t know how...but I will find a way!”

Hearing what people had to say about Kai, only triggered my discomfort more as I did my best to zone out any memories that tried to resurface. I downed my cup of water as I decided to keep myself distracted by playing games on my phone. Ray catching notice of my actions, couldn’t help but ask me a random question which caught me off guard!

“Rose, are you not a fan of K-pop?”

“What? What made you bring that up?” I asked of him...

“Well, it’s just that. You don’t seem like you’re interested in the music. But I could understand why you wouldn’t like it, I mean...Lizzy would always be playing ExEx Idols music in my car. So at first, it would be annoying since I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but after a while, I grew interested in what they were signing. And before I knew it, I became a fan... though I had no idea just how popular they were. I know the group has been together for a while now, but it’s insane how their popularity blew up this year. They won a lot of awards already and I think they’re about to break records on the billboards- oh! I’m sorry, I’m rambling again about them.”

He said with excitement, but honestly, hearing him talk about the boys with such joy made me smile. But at the same time...it’s still bittersweet.

No one will ever understand what the boys go through on a day-to-day basis. People might say it’s a lot of physical work. But that’s honesty just the thin surface of what they actually go through. A majority of what they face is the mental strain and hardship they try to overcome. And it’s not like I haven’t heard of what the boys have been up to. Usually, Jin is always keeping me up to date on how everyone is doing. Zack is still being his dorky self, Jin is still trying his best to smile and Kai...just thinking about him made me automatically look over at the TV screen. The sight of Kai singing so intensely caught my attention as I grabbed onto the necklaces around my neck.

“Oh...wait a minute. I thought I’ve seen that necklace of yours somewhere before. Hold on! Let me see if I still have it saved on my phone- yes! Here look! You both have matching necklaces! Rose, are you secretly a fan? If so, please don’t hide it from me. Let’s be fangirls together-”

“I don’t really consider myself a fan...and Kai, he no longer wears this necklace,” I explained to him as the song came to an end.

“Yeah I did hear about that, apparently all of last year, Kai would only wear that heart locket. And from what I heard, there were so many people trying to see where he got it from. Some even made copies of it so they could match with him, it’s crazy how far fans would go-”

“You have no idea...” I whispered beanthe my breath.

“What?”

“Oh, nothing. Hey umm, I think I’ma call it a night. It’s getting kinda late. Thanks again for bringing me out, it was fun. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I quickly responded to him as I began to stand up.

“Aww, okay then. Did you want me to drop you off?”

He asked as he prepared to pull his car keys out of his pocket.

“No it’s okay, you live 20 minutes away from my house. I wouldn’t want you to drive so much, just be safe when you’re on the road. I’ll just have a cab pick me up-”

“Wait! Before you leave, I need to know something...who would be your biased?”

He asked with determination in his voice as he leaned himself towards the table.

“Biased? What do you mean-”

“Out of these three, who would you pick?”

Ray asked, only this time he showed me a picture of Zack, Jin, and Kai on his phone. Letting out a sigh, I hid my sadness with a playful smirk...

“Who do you think I would choose?”

I asked him, he then took a short pause before finally pointing his finger at the individual on his phone. I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle as I waved him goodbye...

“Yeah, I guess...Kai would be my bias.” I said to myself as I stepped outside.

Waiting only a few minutes before my cab came, I entered the car and rested my head against the glass door. Rubbing my tired-like eyes, I looked at the clock on my phone and saw that it was only a matter of time before Jin would call me. So once the taxi pulled over to my designated area. I hurried in getting into the house, but once I entered, I was welcomed by my mother’s voice!

“Oh my goodness! Melissa, your hair...you look so much younger. It suits you well, but what made you want to cut your hair?”

She asked while making her way towards me. Patting my head lightly, she showed me a smile before heading back to the kitchen.

“Thanks...I just wanted to try something new for a change I guess. Is dad still working?”

I asked my mother while making my way down the hall.

“Yeah, he’ll be back soon. Go wash up, dinner will be ready in a bit.”

She explained, though the moment I opened the door to my room. I saw that Sam was still laying in the same position on her bed when I left for work this morning.

Can’t believe she can be on her phone all day and not get tired of looking at the screen. Entering inside, I felt her eyes looking at me as I began to change into my comfortable clothing. My eyes wandered as I looked around the room to see posters of ExEx Idol hanging on the walls. Specifically, a majority of the scrolls she had were of Kai. Even though my bed is in the room, I’m just not comfortable sleeping in here anymore. I’ve already grown used to sleeping on the living room couch-

“Your hair...it looks nice.” I heard Sam suddenly compliment me!

“Thank you, though it was Ray’s idea to give me a haircut...”

I awkwardly responded as I made my way out the door. However, before I could take my leave she called out to me...

“Are you still gonna avoid me?”

She asked sounding intimidating. Gripping the doorknob tightly, I grew tense.

“Only if you keep asking me about why I went to Korea, I already told you that it was for work and to fill out the last of my paperwork-”

“And I’m telling you that’s all bullshit.” She strictly responded in a sharp tongue.

Before I came back from taking care of Jin, Dad ended up telling Sam that I left for Korea. Though father quickly regretted telling her the very instant I came back home. Since she refuses to believe anything I have to say to her, I’ve come to just ignore her when it came to anything that has to do with the boys. But it’s not that simple when my sister is constantly telling me stuff about them.

“I don’t care what you have to say, it’s been almost a year since I’ve been back in America. Just let it go, nothing happened when I was in Korea. I worked and that was all-”

“Really? You expect me to trust you after you lied to me about being Jin’s makeup artist. You even told mom to not tell me that you were leaving for Korea. You’re obviously trying to hide somthing from me, I’m not stupid Mel! Is it just a coincidence that the moment you find your heart necklace, Kai stops wearing his necklace that looks so identical to yours? Or how scandalous Kai looked when he was recorded running around the airport, the same day you were coming back home. I really don’t trust you at all...”

Samantha began to raise her voice as she got off her bed to approach me!

Since she was slightly taller than me, I became overwhelmed. My sister isn’t in the right headspace, from what her therapist had told my parents. Samantha was diagnosed with paranoia and severe anxiety disorder. Though my parents refuse to have her be medicated since she’s still very young. I really hope she gets better... however, I feel like I’m at fault for what happened to her. Her anxiety grew because I had her worried, always having her overthink about what I was doing in Korea. Even though what I do with my life shouldn’t be affecting her this badly. She’s just not well...

“I’m sorry... Sam....but I have nothing to say to you.”

I responded as I made my way out the door...

Leaving her alone in the room, I thought back to what she said. Kai was indeed trending for a few days after I left Korea. Apparently, he was at the same airport I was at when I left and I could only assume that Jin told him about my whereabouts. I still can’t believe how Kai looked when he was at the airport. His messy hair, being barefoot, and exposed chest...he’s insane. Wait! What am I doing?! I shouldn’t be thinking about him, he’s long gone from my life now...and, I need to move on...just like he did-

The ringing of my phone going off caught my attention, looking over at the caller I.D, I was able to smile and push away any stress that was straining my heart. Answering the phone in high delight, I sat on the living room couch and began to chat with Jin. Hearing his voice makes me feel better, knowing that he still cares for me. I honestly don’t deserve his kindness...

“I’m glad that you’re doing well... you’ve been working so hard this past year. And it shows, the group has grown so popular, oh! My boss mentioned something about you guys breaking records on the billboards! Congratulations on that! I don’t know how much more amazing you guys can get. Everyone practically loves all of you at this point and your music...and, I’m so very proud of you. And I know with all my heart that your mother would be to...”

I said to him as I rested my head along with the cushion of the sofa.

“Thank you... Melrose. It’s been a tiring journey... being able to talk to you like this, has brought me so much ease. It’s made things less stressful, I just wish I could help you with your troubles-”

“Don’t worry so much, Jin. Things over here have been the same as usual...my relationship with my little sister still isn’t the best. But she’s getting the help she needs with her personal issues. I don’t want her to think that she’s a burden. But things would be easier on my parents if Sam would just get better in handling her emotions...but I know it’s not that simple...”

I explained in a tired-like matter...

“Just give it time...I’m sure things will get better. I also want you to keep strong and keep smiling like you always do...you are an amazing daughter and sister to your family... you are also a very dear special person to me. And I want you to always remember that...never forget, okay...”

Jin said in a serious tone, it’s strange but...why is he saying this all of a sudden?

“Thanks for that...but, why do you sound so serious? If you’re tired then you should rest-”

“I guess I am a little tired, I could finally rest...after all these years. I have no regrets about what I created with ExEx Idol...what I and the guys were able to achieve. I can finally say...that my dreams came to a reality. But now, I need to figure out what’s next for my life? MelRose... tomorrow, I want you to watch ExEx Idol perform...and just listen. Know that I’ve missed you...along with Zack. He’s always asking me about your well-being...but the one person who you always avoid speaking about...he’s still the same person he once was. However, he’s become more confident in what he wants in his life. But let me tell you...he hasn’t asked me about you. But I think it’s because he’s afraid...afraid of knowing if your heart still beats the same as his or not. I won’t ask if you still love him, it’s not my place to interfere. But I will say this...if you wish to know where Kai’s heart stands... you’ll get the answer tomorrow. MelRose, promise me that...even if your feelings have changed for him. Promise me that you’ll always be there for him...for us...I’m sorry if I’m being selfish for asking such a thing-”

“No...no of course not. It’s not selfish at all, thank you. And I promise I will always be by your side...Zack and...Kai as well. Jin, take care of yourself and I’ll definitely watch you guys tomorrow. Just don’t make me cry when I see you guys on the stage...I’m still a huge cry baby...”

I said to him as I felt my eyes going teary-eyed. Hearing him speak of Zack and Kai made my heart feel heavy. I’ve grown used to speaking with Jin almost every day. But it’s been so long since I heard Zacks laughter and Kai’s beautiful voice. Since I’ve been avoiding seeing them perform, I just know it’s going to eat away at me when I see them on the screen tomorrow. But why is it so important that I watch them? Just what does Jin want to show me?

“I’m sorry if I make you cry, MelRose...but don’t worry... because I’ll most likely cry tomorrow as well.”

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