The clock showed 05.00 AM already, but the doctor seemed not to be going out soon. The thought of her mother was lying on the operating bed arouse her worry, she kept on praying for her mother knowing who was on critical ages for getting surgery. She was holding her necklace with a star pendant, praying for her mother’s healthiness outside that also relieve her nerve.
Jieun still didn’t get a rest since she got home from work yesterday night. The operation schedule was made in a short time, forcing her to follow the schedule even though she was deadly tired. She ran out of energy, but she couldn’t shut her eyes just for a minute, her mind went somewhere, and worried about what had happened to her mother inside, which took hours without knowing the progression.
The one Jieun hope was she wanted to spend her time with her mother more. She relieved her tears feeling emotional because her mind brought back her memories with her mother. Thinking about her mother which turned to be a single mother at a young age, who raised Jieun by herself, after her father passed away since Jieun was still a kid. The journey was tough but they passed it together. They spent their time together in a small restaurant that sells fried chicken in a traditional market, that they owned since Jieun’s father was alive. Sometimes, her mother was lacking in money and should take a loan to make Jieun’s school fee kept on paid. Sometimes, they didn't have money for a meal. Sometimes, they were protecting each other from the bad words from the people around them. Every time she thought about her mother’s struggle to raise her well, made her tears flowing like a river.
“Ms. Son..” a familiar voice approached her. Nurse Yang and the male doctor, who stood up beside her after coming out from the operation room. Jieun naturally stood up and looked at them in worry.
“How about the operation, Doctor?” she said while shedding the tears she got earlier leaving a red nose and puffy eyes on her face.
“For today, the operation is successful, but we should observe the condition because the cancer metastases to another organ, so we should keep an eye on her and for some time. We will do our best to keep on her.” The doctor explained the condition carefully.
“Thank you, Doctor. “ Jieun bowed respectfully to him.
Jieun stood up in front of the receptionist counter at 09.00 AM after looking at her mother's condition through the glass again.
The mother was laid in one of the Intensive Care Unit’s beds, that she couldn’t approach her, especially after the surgery. She should wait until she was moved to the general ward.
She didn't have time for a rest, her job makes her go as soon as her mother was moved from the operation room. It was a relief, she could breathe after the surgery and make sure that her mother's surgery was successful indeed. She directly went to the restroom to get ready for work.
Her unusual eyes told everyone besides her that she should get some rest, especially Yuna who was standing beside her for the whole day. Her puffy eyes and black panda eyes indicated that she just took a long good sleep. Yuna just kept silent knowing that she was coming straight after her mother's surgery and chose to get some sandwich and orange juice for Jieun's breakfast along her way to the company.
The CEO’s car was parked in front of the main door just in time, which automatically called for workers to get themselves ready to greet the one who led the company especially for Yuna and Jieun who worked in the front office.
The CEO of the company would never go to work late which was positive indeed. He was so upright, charismatic, and responsible for every person around him. The glimpse of a man opened the door car followed by a person coming to CEO hurriedly, was a usual view. The CEO needed someone to park his car in the basement, so it helped him to go to his office faster. The CEO came out from the car opened the passenger car door behind, brought a little girl on his hug, and lifted two big bags which could differ the owner even from afar. The shining black work bag was him and the pink one was his daughter's.
His daughter looked so clingy to him and hug his neck. The CEO didn't bother with his daughter's acts and just put on a huge smile when his daughter started to play with his cheek and laughed constantly. The low sound of babbling daughter called him ‘Daddy’ and pointed at the doll she hugged tightly draw her father’s attention and made him focused on her ignoring the workers around him who were taking a bow. His smiling face couldn’t fade away because of his daughter's presence and they looked like the owner of the world.
“I know,” she said lazily remembering the incidents two days ago.
“How can you know?” Yuna widened her eyes looking at Jieun's flat-tired face.
“Yah..look forward. Don’t you want to greet him?” Jieun whispered to Yuna and turned her flat-tired face into a smile. Yuna stepped aside from her position and smiled right away. They were ready to greet him.
“Mommy!” a little girl's voice shocked Yuna and also the workers in the room. The CEO and the baby walked toward them casually ignoring some shocking faces.
“Aunty Jieun,” the CEO led her to call Jieun as aunty, as calm as he was. Her hands tried to embrace Jieun, but Juwon brought her hand back to hug his neck again not letting Nana disturb Jieun on her work.
“Good Morning, Director!" Jieun and Yuna said in unison and bowed to the CEO and the little girl in his hug.
“Daddy… Mommy...” little girl’s voice kept babbled the words together innocently, which raised awkwardness between them in front of the workers.
“Hello, Nana... Aunty misses you," Jieun tried to break down the ice with her awkward smile. She held Nana’s freehand instead of ignoring the little girl which would make Nana sad. She shook Nana's hand lightly, smiling. Nana giggled and held Jieun’s hand tightly feeling good in the early morning.
“Mommy..” the little girl babbled again.
“Aunty Jieun..” Jieun and Juwon tried to lead Nana to call her correctly at the same time. Nana's hand tried to hold Jieun in full embrace again which already make a silent commotion between the workers, especially Yuna who stood up beside them. Yuna felt that she was left out of the situation.
“Aunty Jieun must work. Let’s go to Daddy’s room! There are dolls inside.” He persuaded Nana softly, knowing he took too much time on greeting his workers. He then bowed slightly to Jieun and Yuna before leaving for his room.
The sight of the CEO, his daughter, and Jieun attracted the people in the room. They whispered and judged Jieun's appearance silently after hearing that small chats between them, it surely made her feel uneasy.
“Yah Sister... How do you know them? I thought you wouldn’t put any interest before. “ Yuna whispered to her. Jieun, who was looking at people around them who started bickering to each other while judging at her, sat on her seat calmly and coughed her throat out. Yuna looked at people around and silently following Jieun to take a seat.
“I don’t know. It just happens," Jieun answered in low voice.
“Yah Sister why did the little girl..."
“ Nana,” Jieun cut her words, sighing.
“Why did Nana call you Mommy? Are You??!??” Yuna covered her mouth, thinking that Jieun might be in a relationship with the CEO before.
“No… it is not like what you are thinking about," Jieun sighed and gave Yuna a sharp glare, feeling bad.
“Tell me something!" Yuna tried to dig in her curiosity.
“Heheey... You two don’t work…”, a man's voice broke their conversation. They automatically stood up and bowed to greet him.
“Good morning, Manager...” they said in unison.
“Jieun-ssi it's good to see you work on time,” Lee Hyeokjae said sarcastically.
“Hmm...I always come on time manager...” Jieun shyly answered with an innocent smile.
“Look now, you are brave enough to talk back to me.” Lee Hyeokjae answer pissed her off, but she remained calm. Her step-mother was playing with her emotions for so long. So, it wasn't a new thing for her, until she was brave enough to reply to his sarcastic words.
“Manager-nim… Is there any possibility If I take a loan for this month?” Jieun asked him cutely remembering her mother's surgery that was done that early morning.
“Woaaahhhh….are you crazy Jieun?” Lee Hyeokjae left them with his finger rolling on his temple signing a crazy person. Not only sarcastic step-mother, but also niggard one.
"I think I can't," she sheepishly smiled after he left them. Jieun and Yuna looked at him with a deep glare before they sat down.
“That son of…” Jieun stopped her words and looked at Yuna furiously.” He wants to play with me... that bast… huuu relax...” Jieun holds her mouth not to slipped bad words on her works and lifts her hands up and down in front of her chest and exhales her breath.
“Be patient, Sister!” Yuna patted Jieun’s shoulder lightly giving reassurance.
“Hello, Nurse Yang. How is my mother’s condition?” she said on the phone in front of the women’s restroom during a break time.
“Your mother is still in a critical state but please keep praying on her.”
“Ahh.. thank you, Nurse Yang," she replied weakly and hang up the phone. “It is still far from fine,” she mumbled and exhaled her breath. Her head turned down while suddenly a red liquid dropped onto her shoes. Naturally, her hand touched her nose and found that she was bleeding. She lifted her head and went to the restroom fast to get it done.
The whole situation was seen by someone far. The view itself led him to go closer to her. He was Juwon, who decided to get some fresh air in case her daughter getting bored in his room. Juwon with his daughter in his embrace, stood away from Jieun not making a sound. His daughter was also being silent other than bubbly out of nowhere. The appearance of her with a nose bleed, made him feel bad for her. He just knew that she should be on the work and being on her mother’s side in the hospital.
'She must be tired’ he thought.
“Mommy... Mommy... Daddy...” Nana’s sudden mumble bringing him back to reality. Her little finger pointed to the restroom indicating that she wanted to go there.
“Still Mommy? Aunty ...” he explained to Nana patiently. He didn't want to make any rumors about Jieun, the front officer, and him in the company.
He chose to wait for Jieun in front of the restroom. After waiting for minutes, Jieun went out of the restroom while dapped her dirty uniform with a tissue.
“Mommy...” Nana’s voice attracted Jieun to see her. Jieun turned her head and saw the little girl smiling at her which also curved her lips into a smile. Nana’s hands sprawled as she longed for a hug from Jieun. “Mommy..” the little girl giggled inviting Jieun to pick her from her father's hug.
“Nana, Aunty Jieun misses you..” naturally Jieun mumbled and got responses from the little girl with giggles.
“eehmm..” Juwon coughed to get their attention.
“Ahh. I am sorry Director," Jieun bowed slightly to him.
“Ehmmm... How about getting lunch together, since it's time for her to get some?” Juwon asked Jieun, which made her blinked in a confusion.
Juwon tried to put on Nana’s bib which seemed difficult to do, which led Jieun naturally taking a charge.
“I am sorry Director.. but it should be put like this...” Jieun explained to him carefully, trying not to make him bad.
“Ohh I see…” Juwon smiled awkwardly. “It’s a new thing for me after her Nanny left her…” he explained to Jieun who sat in front of her with Nana.
“Oh I see Director…I am sorry Director, If it doesn’t bother you, Nana’s mother…??” Jieun carefully burst her curiousness these times.
Juwon gulped his throat, feeling uneasy with the question. Seeing the appearance made Jieun felt bad after asking those kinds of questions.
“I am sorry Director... I am just curious about Nana who called me Mommy..." she added before getting the answer, in case she didn't want her CEO feeling awkward.
“It is okay. Seems like she wants to meet her mother..” he chuckled but it didn't reach his eyes.
“Ahh… I am sorry..." she said uneasily.
They kept the silence in awkwardness, except for Nana who has happily babbled some words to Jieun, until the food they had ordered coming.
Juwon took a bit of his food silently, while Jieun helped Nana to take a good meal. Jieun and Nana’s view silently turned his lips into a slight smile. Sometimes, he took a glance at Jieun while eating and mesmerized her in silence.
“Foodd... Mommy...” Nana’s little finger tried to feed Jieun with the food she had. Jieun took a bit and gave her a smile which made her giggled and clapped her hand happily.
“Thank You!” Jieun said nodding her head to Nana. Nana kept doing the things that gave him a conclusion that Nana loves Jieun. It tickled his heart. ‘How can she easily love a stranger this fast?’ his thought arose his bitterness remembering Nana’s mother. She even didn’t want to meet Nana, since Nana was born.
“What are you doing?” Juwon who was surprised after turned his face to the woman, greeted her coldly.
“How come you be like this? I miss you..” she acted clingy to Juwon which put Jieun in an awkward situation. Jieun tried to keep playing with Nana ignoring the view she had seen.
“Let's go somewhere!" Juwon grabbed the woman's hand to go somewhere else which couldn’t be seen by Jieun and Nana.
“Nana, Is she your mother?” Jieun asked her cutely.
“Nyoo... Nyooo…” Nana’s little finger waved signing a NO and kept slurping the meal in front of her. “Mommy... eat...” Nana took a little meal and feed Jieun once again. Nana giggled and clapped her hand after feeding Jieun which made her feel special.
“I am sorry... I will finish it in no time..” Juwon said as he started munching his almost untouched meal. He took his meal in hurry.
“Take your time Director.. it would make a problem for your stomach..” Jieun said as she felt bad looking at him who didn’t have time to just make himself comfortable. For days when her CEO started to bring his daughter, she often saw him busy with works and Nana. He didn’t even get a rest. His appearance was different since he brought Nana to the company. He looked a little bit messy but still tried to look tidy at least. His hair and his tie sometimes looked disheveled even it turned out like it was being styled.
“Oh..” he startled with her words to take time enjoying the meal. Jieun kept playing with Nana and brought Nanainn her embrace to walk around the restaurant, giving him some time alone so he could munch his meal in peace. It could be heard Nana’s laughed and babbled to every word Jieun had spoken. Nana was indeed a smart kid. No wonder that she was the CEO’s daughter. She tried to copy Jieun’s words and her pronunciation almost clearly for kids around her age. It showed that her father taught her so well. She was lovely and full of laughter. They took a long time together and didn’t even realize that Juwon had done the payment.
“Ehmm...” Juwon cleared his throat to get Jieun’s attention, didn’t know other ways to break the lovey-dovey moment of Jieun and Nana.
“Oh... Director..." she turned her face to Juwon. He smiled at Nana and sprawled his hand to get Nana’s embrace.
“Come to Daddy... Aunty Jieun must be tired..." Juwon said as Nana went to his embrace. “Alright, our pretty daughter..." he caressed Nana’s back lightly "Thank you Jieun-ssi…”
Jieun turned on the lamp in her house. The house she left before her mother got the surgery. That day was the busiest ever day for her. She didn’t even get to sleep after her mother's surgery. She had visited her mother, but the nurse preferred her to get some sleep because she looked tired. Her mother's condition was stable already, but still unconscious that might be caused by age. She put her heels on the shoe rack tiredly.
The house she left for two days was still neat and the same as she left. Her house was tidy and clean for someone busy with her works and also with her hospitalized mother. She went to her dressing table and cleaned up her makeup before she gets a refreshing shower.
After she got a refreshing bath, she took ramen from her kitchen drawer to fill her empty stomach. She turned on the stove and boiled the water. Waiting for the boiling water, she took her phone and scrolled for the picture of her and Nana that day. ‘Nana’s face didn’t resemble her Dad's face, It just a little bit of CEO's facial feature on her.’ She chuckled imagining that Nana's mother had stronger gen that could beat CEOs.
“How lucky her mother is? She doesn’t need to be jealous with her Dad, because Nana just takes a little bit of Director’s feature.” She giggled.
"I mean, where is her mother? How pity Nana is," but she turned sad knowing the fact that Nana might miss her mother so much until she called her ‘Mommy’. She exhaled her breath hard.
She put the ramen on the water after hearing the sound of boiled water moving the pot lid.
Jieun sat on the receptionist seat, typing on her computer for the weekly report that should be done that day, before the weekend.
“Ahhhh finished…” Yuna stretched her arms highly and shouted happily. “I should inform Joon to pick me up..” she was smiling like crazy and focusing on chatting with him.
“Date again? Seems like he is well trained. ” Jieun asked her while her eyes still absorbed into the computer.
“Bingoo Sister…. His latest book became a best seller...so he brings me up for shopping.." Yuna smiled like a fool remembering her most loyal boyfriend.
"Uhmm... I am sorry Sister.." Yuna then realized she had said in some minutes. She shut her lips tightly.
"It's okay... I am really fine here.." she replied casually. Yuna who felt wrong, nudging at her shoulder lightly.
"Ahh...Shouldn’t you have one Sister? So, we can do a double date together,..” Yuna tried to break the ice to divert the latest topic happily, hugging her tightly.
“Forget it, how can I have one?” Jieun replied flatly.
“Yah Sister.. but you are a Mommy now.” Yuna said out of nowhere, teased Jieun after hearing a girl called Jieun as her ‘Mommy’ to distract Jieun from her latest reckless words. Her shoulder shrugged on Jieun’s and made a wink with a deep meaning smile on her.
“I am not! Yuna!!! “ Jieun stopped her activity facing her.
“Yah Sister, don’t you know that our CEO is a single-father?” Yuna brought her seat toward Jieun’s in hurry.
“I know.,” Jieun said casually which surprised Yuna. Hearing those casual words on Jieun’s mouth made Yuna covered her mouth.
“OMG OMG Sister...How can you know?” Yuna added digging her curiosity and brought her upper body near Jieun’s
“Just know..” Jieun shrugged her shoulders a little bit tilting her head aside.
“But, Sister… the mother was still a mystery ..” Yuna said dramatically. Jieun's mind went to the day when the CEO was approached by a woman in a restaurant when she was with him. The woman might be linked to him, which unreachable for Jieun to dig her curiosity on her most mysterious CEO.
“She might be there outside.“
”You know that too???” Yuna widened her eyes in shock. “Don’t tell me that you know why our CEO brings his daughter with him to work lately ?” Yuna asked her. Jieun who was startled by the question started thinking.
“Uhmm…why? I don’t know.,” she replied blinking her eyes.
“The gossip said that because the former nanny and his assistant abused the daughter.,” Yuna whispered to her. Jieun covered his mouth, surprised by the unbelievable fact.
“How pity she is.. that is why I saw some almost healing wound and bruises on her hands and legs,” Jieun remembered the first time she holds her, the little girl wiggled on her hug, feeling uneasy and kept crying. Unconsciously, while she caressed her lightly, she saw some bruises on Nana’s hands which shocked her more.
It was the first time she thought that it might be her CEO who did it, but on other hand, her CEO talk smoothly and lovingly to Nana at that time. She ever thought that the CEO was the most bastard man when suddenly, it turned out that it was someone else who did that. Knowing the fact, she felt bad for Nana.
“And now. How about our CEO’s life?" Jieun carefully asked Yuna and grew her curiosity toward him. She put her body faced Yuna totally, digging her CEO information which interested her more.
“He is looking for trusted Nanny, while he is searching, he brings his daughter with him. He is still being traumatized by Nanny and daycare things. OMG…How good he is as a father??” Yuna put her chin on her hands acted cutely.
“It must be the reason why our CEO’s suit looked a bit untidy," Jieun mumbled sighing.
“If I am a good enough as a woman, I am willingly become his girl,” Yuna imagined with her hand clapped like praying, smiling. Jieun knocked her head lightly.
“Yahh...” Jieun burst into laughter.
“Yah Sister why don’t you be the one? Nana and CEO seem to like you so much.” Yuna asked her randomly.
“Which one? Nanny? Girlfriend?” Jieun blushed red after she burst that bluntly words out, playing with Yuna’s game.
“Both of them...Yaaahh don’t you say that you want to be the one?" Yuna said casually teasing and nudging Yejn’s shoulder.
“Yah…Are you kidding me?” Jieun cleared her throat and turned her facial expression into the flat one. Their conversation suddenly being interrupted by the voice of Jieun’s phone. The unknown number appeared on her phone screen and vibrated on the top of the desk. Jieun took the phone and picked up the call carefully.
“Ms. Jieun, I am Juwon...“ the familiar voice greeted her and it was the CEO.
“Yes, Director!” Jieun sat straight automatically after hearing the voice like she usually did.
“Director...?? Huh??” Yuna mumbled unconsciously, the one who was also surprised to put her ear closer to the phone so that she could hear her CEO’s voice.
“I am sorry for disturbing you but ..." he stopped for a while. "Can you help me for today?” the manly nervous voice could be heard after he cleared his throat.