HEART LIES

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WHISKY DIAL

Sa-rang’s expression harbored a hint of disappointment that Ji-Seong didn’t miss.

Did she want him to kiss her?

“Are you hungry?”

The woman didn’t know whether her stomach’s churning sounds were due to hunger or the momentary tension Ji-Seong created while holding her face.

“Eh, Iㅡ.”

“Let’s go and eat,” he said and grabbed her hand and striding out of the projection room, making his date tag along.

Unlike the first time, Ji-Seong didn’t show her a set of orders, and Yoona was formal about the fact she only gave instructions concerning the first date. The woman couldn’t guess if the man’s behavior were him following instructions or if he was freestyling.

“Eh, Ji Seong.”

“Yes,” he replied as they entered the lift.

“Is this part of your orders,” she said, looking at her hand, making him follow up a stare.

“Why does it matter?”

“It’s justㅡ.”

The lift doors opened, and Sa-rang violently yanked her hand away in a reflex reaction. People’s eyes and reading their facial expressions, they would have if they saw the young man holding her hand scared her. What frightened her more was running into an acquaintance.

How would she justify this?

Ji-Seong could tell what was bothering her. Finding her embarrassment amusing, he hesitated to grab her hand again as they made their way to the entrance.

No, it was enough for the moment. The driver opened the door and drove them away from the bling-bling area of Apjujeong to a more local area. He opened the door close to Jogno sam-ga, known for its diverse pujungmacha [outdoor restaurants]

The new location left Sa-rang confused. The difference in ambiance between the first and the second rendezvous was like night and day.

Sa-Rang leaned over and whispered as she sat down, “my friend should have a discount for this. I mean 10million to eat at a pujangmacha.”

Ji-Seong chuckled. “It’s not the locations that cost that much, it’s me? Why Don’t you think I’m worth it? You seem to have a problem with today’s rendezvous.”

“No, it’s just the firstㅡ.”

“The settings and activities are chosen according to the questionnaire. You are supposed to experience things you don’t usually do. Your profile shows you don’t have other activities than work; you don’t socialize or do anything other people do daily, and from what I observe, you don’t even eat out with colleagues for a waeshik.“[ after work, almost mandatory].

“So, your services decided to offer me a daily life rendezvous.”

“Exactly,” Ji-Seong said, giving her a wink, which made Sa-rang want to poke his eyes out.

The waitress came, giving them an odd eye, “what will it be?”

“Sa-rang?”

“Eh, I’ll haveㅡ.”

Sa-rang was stuck; the professor wasn’t used to this, even a student. The woman avoided street food, always being precautious about her health.

“We’ll have bulgogi, pap, tteopokki, a Somaek [Soju Korean alcohol and maekju Korean beer] for me.

“I’ll have a somaek too,” Sa-rang added.

The waitress looked at Sa-rang again, her eyes showing their disapproval before walking away.

“Are you okay, Sa-rang?”

“Doesn’t bother you?”

The question haunted her from the beginning. She needed to know Ji-Seong’s thoughts on the matter. Sa-rang looked around; apart from them, there was a small group of already men and two women in their late 20′s having a vivid conversation about their소개팅 [sogaeting=blind date] experiences.

“What?”

“I mean people.”

“It’s none of their business; we could be colleagues; I can’t be your son; you are far too young. Are you stressing? It’s weird how one ego can diminish in a given situation.”

“Are you mocking me?”

Ji-Seong sucked in a little air in a whistle,” I wouldn’t dare,” he replied, eyes and lips smiling in amusement.

The waitress returned, posing the food on Ji-Seong’s side and slamming it down in front of Sa-rang, who was one step away from violently retaliating. But Ji-Seong spoke first to her,” immo is there a problem?” The woman turned and looked at Sa-rang, her traits showing fatigue, she was probably in her late 40, but one could tell life had not been tenderly making her look much older.

“Ani,” [No nothing] the woman said. She walked away only to start muttering something to the other woman cooking, who lifted her head to look at the couple.

Sa-rang looked at the dishes; popcorn still filled her stomach, thus she wasn’t hungry. The lack of appetite was more frequent due to her medication, but the smell pushed her to taste.

There were only chopsticks on the table; this was one of the world’s mysterious Sa-rang was the Queen of scalpels, but chopsticks and she had star-crossed destinies. The woman got ready to tackle the meal with the wooden batons when her eyes met a bulgogi portion held in front of her mouth.

“How about giving these immonim deul [aunts] a little show for their eyes.”

Sa-rang turned to look at the two women. The cook gazed with envy, whereas the waitress still harbored a glare of indignation.

Sa-rang leaned forward and took the portion Ji-Seong had prepared. As she swallowed, imaging the red of her face, she noticed she wasn’t the only one red with emotion. Ji-Seong’s cheeks too flushed, and he hadn’t even touched his somaek.

The cook sighed and tapped her cheeks as she checked the Pajeon [Korean omelet] on the fire while the waitress huffed and puffed.

“Ji-Seong, thanks, but I can feed myself,” Sa-rang said. She sat up on her chair and tried to look dignified while attempting to capture a little rice. Sa-rang sighed, giving up, “let’ talk?”

“What do you want to talk about, what do you want to know? I have no secrets,” Ji-Seong said, taking three gulps of his Somaek.

“Why do you do this? I mean, you don’t have financial problems. There’s really no reason for yoㅡ.”

“Would you believe it if I say it’s for fun?”

“I’d say you are sick and that you should consult Dr. Moore.”

Ji-Seong chuckled.

“What if I say I love women?”

“Are you a nymphomaniac?”

“Oh, gosh, Lee Sa-rang, you are ever so fascinating outside of the hospital. Okay, how about this? I’m a lonely man looking for something or someone to fill the void in my heart, and since I don’t know how profound it is, all that goes there disappears into oblivion. In the end, I always alone and lonely.”

“I’ll ask Dr. Moore to give you a discount. You need a full psychoanalyze; there must be some hidden trauma somewhere,” Sa-rang said before Sipping on her Somaek face scrunching in an awkward expression at the beer’s bitterness, which made Ji Seong laugh.

“Sorry, Madame, unfortunately, our Pujang doesn’t serve Vodka Martini or what other beverages, and how about you?”

“What about me?”

“I didn’t think you would come to a second date.”

“Yoona’s money is on the line.”

“Is that all?”

“I have to prove myself.”

Ji-Seong looked at her with an inquisitive stare, he wanted to ask more, but he was afraid to bring the small chit chat to a dead end.

As expected, Sa-rang changed the direction of the conversation, ” do you know the reasons women hire you?”

“A man hires a woman for sex and other things, and a woman hires a man for other things, and if the sex happens, it happens.”

“Don’t you feel-.”

“Cheap, you feel cheap if you see your body as a shrine holy and pure. I’m none of that, so I’ve never cared.”

Sa-rang believed him, Ji-Seong’s expression was void as he spoke.

“Why did you accept the job though you knew it was me?”

“I received your profile on the day in which you had the generosity to ask us to accomplish the nurse’s duties, which happened to be diaper and urine pouches change after having made us spend the night at the morgue. I have to admit I was ready for a kill, and imagining the surprise and shock on your face seemed like a good compensation.”

“What if I sold you out?”

“You wouldn’t, and you will not?”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because you’re Lee Sa-rang, a woman who values her academical reputation above all,” Ji-Seong said with a playful smile.

Everyone left; they were alone with the owners, who looked at their table as if they were staring at a screen.

“So tell me something which isn’t on your profile and that nobody knows.”

“Why should I tell you such a thing?”

“Because I’m cheaper than Dr. Moore.”

“I bet a lot of women do that, spill their life out as if you were an agony aunt.”

Ji-Seong gave her a flat stare.

“Oh, you’re good. I could almost believe Yoona coached you.”

Ji-Seong remained silent with his gaze fixing her.

“Okay,” Sa-rang said.

The woman slid her hair behind both ears. She put her elbows on the table to fold an arm on the other. Sa-rang stared straight at Ji-Seong, and in the most serious and solemn of tones, she said, “I’m dying.”

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