“Thanks for lunch.”
“Thank you,” Jae returned, “eh, can I pick you up tonight?”
“Don’t you have assignments?”
“They’re done, and you know, at our level, we don’t have many compulsory courses,” Jae said, putting his hands in his pocket.
Sonmi shook her head from one side to another as if to say fair enough, “I see, but I have tons of work maybe next time.”
“I can help you.”
Sonmi laughed, “Jae, it’s medical. You want to spend your night looking at enzymes and pathways?”
Jae thought about it a second before replying, “yes,” with the widest grins he had in stock, “your place or mine? He added before she could answer.
“I share, remember,” Sonmi said and sighed as she understood Jae had no intention of giving up.
“Then my place, we have a study room which neither Myeong nor I use. And if you are worried Eun Young will be there, your roommate practically lives with us.”
“I know it’s because of Haㅡ.”
Sonmi stopped, she and Hana were not on good terms, but she would not bad mouth her.
“Ha, you mean Hana, don’t worry, Eun Young goes on enough about her, you’re not ratting on your friend, I assure you,” Jae hoped what he said reassured her.
“Hana is a nice girl,” Sonmi said, attempting to smooth out the situation.
“She’s a sweet girl who’s jealous of her roommates. Listen, Sonmi, I don’t fight girls, but if she does anything, I mean, if she does out of line, promise me you’ll tell me. And if you’re not comfortable in your apartment, do like Eun Young, squat our place, we have a 3rd room.
“How big is your place? Sonmi asked.
“Come tonight, and I’ll give you a visit,” Jae said with a smile.
“Okay, okay, see you later,” Sonmi said in a hurry. She was almost late.
Jae watched her walk away; he knew everything about how Hana made her life miserable from Eun Young. Being a guy, Jae couldn’t intervene, but he knew someone who could put a stop to it.
“Annyeong, Sonmi,” Myeong said as she entered their apartment later that day.
“You’re going out?” Sonmi said in a panic.
“Eun Young wants to eat out; she’s already waiting for me at Vatos in Itaewon.”
“I see,” Sonmi said as she realized she would be alone with Jae, who was already in his slippers.
“Good night, Sonmi. I might see you later,” Myeong said, passing the door.
Sonmi turned to glare at Jae.
The man lifted his hands to protest, “I swear, I promise I didn’t know they’d be out. Please, Sonmi, don’t be mad. Come on; I’ll show you the apartment.”
Jae was right; it was huge. Apart from the living room, they had another one just as big: a game room with a pool table and another large tv screen.
There was another bedroom that was smaller and perfect for sleepovers. Sonmi wondered why it wasn’t in that room she was sent the first time she came.
Then she remembered automatically going to Jae’s room when Myeong told her. Also, she recalled what she thought in the haze of her drunken state.
How would it be to spend a night with him?
The thought crossed her mind, and when he kissed her, Sonmi was happy to know there was a least one man who desired her. The idea was the truth that taunted her daily.
“So I’ll leave you to study,” Jae said.
She posed her back on the desk and looked around the study. There were bookshelves with books on almost every subject other than the ones they studied.
Sonmi had a hard time imagining the musketeers studying. She took out her books and started taking notes on the sticky post-it, which she stuck on the desk when there was a knock on the door.
“Here’s the power food.”
“You said you’d die if you don’t eat,” Jae said while posing the tray filled with green tea, multigrain flatbread cracker snacks, almonds, blueberry yogurt, and granola, amongst other things.
“You made this?”
“Who else is here? I even tapped into Myeong’s stock. Why the look? We’re students, too, remember.”
“What? Oh, we are spoilt rich kids, so we don’t know how to make a tray of food. Is that what you are implying?”
“ㅡI’m surprised,” Sonmi said while she turned her head to blush, embarrassed by her cliché thoughts.
“Hey, Sonmi, I’m joking, so how is it going?”
“There’s too much to memorize.”
“Let me help you; I’ll do blind tests.”
Sonmi watched him as he took her post-it and began to prepare, “go on and eat while I do this,” Jae said.
Was this how it was to have a boyfriend?
Were all men like this?
If Sonmi took her father and Jae, for example, her conclusion would be yes. Like In-Sung, Jae took care of her, they spent a lot of time together, but he never tried a misplaced move.
Jae’s morning and goodnight messages gave her butterflies. He picked her up and dropped her off everywhere. Even though Jae was older, he didn’t wave the Oppa flag at her every second like most guys did.
She was comfortable with him.
“Yes,” she said as she tucked her hair between her ears.
Jae did not lie; he helped her study and didn’t ask her to spend the night; he drove her back before midnight.
“Thank you, Jae,” Sonmi said.
They stood not far from her entrance.
“It was nothing if I can’t help you when you need it. What’s the point?”
“Don’t you want more?”
“It’s not me who decides, you know it, Sonmi. I’d be with you 24/7 if you let me,” Jae said as he reached out to hold her left hand while intertwining her fingers with his. Sonmi didn’t budge or react to the sudden skinship.
“24/7,” Sonmi repeated.
“Yes, night and day, I’ll be at your service.”
It was one of those moments, you know is right; they stared into each other’s eyes. Jae hesitated and made sure it was a true greenlight he saw before leaning and giving Sonmi a small kiss.
A kiss which Sonmi returned, Jae pulled her close and slid his hand on her back as he locked her in his embrace.
The moment wasn’t the only right thing, Sonmi thought as he kissed her under the moonlight.