Chapter 1 Part 2
In contrast to his black clothes, the tall and lean man had an exceptionally white face.
When Joo Hee’s gaze met with his eyes, she unknowingly opened her mouth in bewilderment.
It felt like her heart dropped from the glimpse, whereas the man in the black clothes looked even more surprised.
It was her second time seeing that person.
The man in black was a grim reaper– one who collects the souls of the dead.
Two years ago, when he came to pick up her grandfather, she vaguely made eye contact with him.
He was the leader of the grim reapers who appeared where death was or next to the imminent death.
Whether she was shocked or not, Joo Hee looked alternately at the grim reaper and Chairman Park.
Humans knew that they would return to a new life after the day of judgment. But still, they could not stop their heartache when they had to leave their loved ones in the mortal world.
The reincarnated Chairman Park will not be the grandfather Park she knew.
“Tsk tsk, you’re still the same. That’s why manager Do acts like that. I was so worried that we would never meet again.”
Chairman Park strode into the bookstore and rebuked her by sitting on the designated sofa for guests.
It was the spot where her grandfather and his friend, Chairman Park, sat down for conversations whenever they met.
“Don’t worry. I’m doing well as always.”
Despite being guilty of being involved with human life and death, Joo Hee has yet to remain aloof from human death while on her time in the mortal world.
“Hey, do you have to bury your youth in this old bookstore?”
“I like this place.”
“What’s so good about this confined space? Tsk, tsk. What a waste of young blood, my lord!”
“That’s why it’s good. For some reason, I feel like this is where time has stopped. Well, sometimes, it comes to my senses that a long time has already passed while I live here. It’s as if I don’t have a life out of this building.” She honestly replied as she recalled her time spent inside the four walls of Lee Family books
Well, there was nothing Joo Hee could do for Chairman Park other than wholeheartedly leading the last conversation she might have with him.
That was all she could do.
“Oh, my, you sound like an old man who had lived out his entire life. I think I should force this place shut and demolish it very soon.”
Chairman Park grumbled as if he was dissatisfied by Joo Hee’s reply, but his eyes sparkled in affection as he looked at her.
He was the only person who regularly visited Lee family books to check in on Joo Hee after her grandfather’s death.
He was worried how a young girl like her could run such an old bookstore alone. But surprisingly, she had done well so far.
“If grandfather Park forcibly demolishes the book store, I’d have no other option but to go to your company and protest.”
Joo Hee answered seriously since she knew that Chairman Park’s words about demolishing the building were never mere jokes.
Two years ago, Chairman Park proposed to Joo Hee to close down the bookstore and join the Hansung Group. However, she politely refused his offer and continued to work at Lee family books.
Seeing him bring this up again now, she thought that Chairman Park might have already realized that he had no time left.
Maybe that’s why he came to look at an issue that has been bothering him,wanting to settle it as soon as possible.
“I think I should really tear it down. I think that’s the only way to get you out of here.”
Chairman Park stated as the original owner of Lee family books and Joo Hee’s fairly spacious house.
Joo Hee and her grandfather were the namesake owners, while the entire building belonged to Chairman Park.
Though the lease contract jokingly states that it is for a lifetime, if Chairman Park decides to demolish the building, he could always tear it down by following legal procedures.
So she chose to answer more carefully.
“I want to run this store as long as I can. You didn’t forget that you renewed the contract with me two years ago, right? If you ignore the contract and demolish it, Grandfather Park will probably have to hear my resentment.”
“Oh, you’re saying the scariest thing I’ve ever heard. I always want to remain a good grandfather to you, Joo Hee.”
Whether Joo Hee understood what he wanted for her or not, Chairman Park made a gesture that showed that he had completely surrendered to the young lady.
“Grandpa, you are a nice person.”
“Oh my, it was a random joke. But hearing your words, I feel like I should never do anything bad in the future.”
At Chairman Park’s sly words, Joo-hee faintly smiled, and the very next moment, her eyes widened when she suddenly remembered something.
“Do you have time to stay for a cup of tea?”
“Tea? Not coffee?”
Whenever Chairman Park stopped by Lee family books, he always ordered coffee. However, when he heard her strange question, he asked again to confirm.
“Yes, I’d like to treat you with a nice cup of tea today.”
“Oh my, I think you are very different from other children these days. What do you mean tea? Even your eating habits are too old-fashioned. But since you are recommending it, I can’t help but drink it.”
As soon as she got Chairman Park’s permission, Joo Hee unknowingly glanced in the direction of the door.
But to her surprise, she found no one.
Just a while ago, she saw a grim reaper staring at them while standing next to the entrance.
“Huh? Is someone outside? You have been looking at the door since earlier.”
When Chairman Park noticed that Joo Hee’s eyes were wandering outside for a long time, he turned his head and followed her gaze towards the door.
“No..no… there is no one. I..I.. just thought I saw someone over there.”
Even though Chairman Park could not see the Grim reaper, Joo Hee got flustered for a moment and stuttered as she tried to explain.
“Really? Was it secretary Cha? I told him to wait in the car because he seemed busy on the phone.”
“No, I guess it was just a passerby.”
Manager Do, who came through the inner door with a box, inquired as soon as he overheard their conversation.
“It’s no one. Manager Do, can you go to the kitchen and get the tea from the top shelf?”
Joo Hee quickly made him run an errand when she remembered that even an ignorant goblin would be able to see the grim reaper lurking around Chairman Park.
“The tea is on the top shelf? Are you talking about that palm-sized box?”
“Woah…That’s the same tea that you have warned me not to touch even by mistake”.
Perplexed by her strange request, manager Do asked again to confirm her errand.
‘This senseless goblin really must be tired of living.’ Joo Hee controlled her urge to shout at him and took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Manager Do, I will prepare the tea. You can LEAVE now.”
Joo Hee emphasized the word ‘leave’ with her grumpy widened eyes, making it clear that what she meant was “Disappear if you are not going to help me ”
“No…I can’t believe that I’m going home when we have guests. No. I’m not going.”
“It’s just tea. Of course, it should be me who is supposed to serve it, not the owner. I’ll boil the water at an optimal temperature, so please wait a moment.”
As soon as Director Do picked up the malicious intent in his owner’s eyes, he quickly placed down the box with a straight face and ran towards the small kitchen situated on the other side of the bookstore.
“Even after the owner permits them to leave work, the employee refuses and stays behind… Woahh…He’s definitely a strange guy.” Chairman Park commented when he saw the manager running at lightning speed to the kitchen.
“The same goes for the manager who used to work here before, and the one before him. Is there a ghost in this house that prevents employees from going home? How come all the employees in this bookstore are all like that?”
Listening to Chairman Park’s remarks about the strange employees, Joo Hee pressed the idea that she should pay more attention to the clueless goblin before he makes another mistake.
“Yes. I do think that this house is a little bit different from others.”
A senseless goblin and a heavenly god who fell into the level of a lowly mortal.
That combination alone was enough to make this place strange.
“What is with that lizard? Don’t tell me you’ve finally realized how lonely you are and decided to have a pet. As expected from you.” Chairman Park asked half-jokingly and shook his head in denial.
“No, I can’t let it slide this time. No matter how much you hate it, I’m going to look for an eligible man for you.”
Chairman Park frowned and used Seok to bring up the topic of something he wanted to ask her.
It was a topic that Chairman Park mentioned several times after her grandfather passed away.
Since Joo Hee refused it every time, he hadn’t brought it up for a while.
However, today Joo Hee silently stared at Grandfather Park instead of refusing to hear his suggestion.
If she hadn’t seen the grim reaper, she would have immediately rejected the idea of marriage.
The worries in Chairman Park’s wrinkled eyes permeated her heart that she couldn’t force herself to refuse him.
“Why? Are you going to force me into a relationship by going on a blind date?”
When he saw a faint smirk on her face, Chairman Park immediately began to explain,
“What do you mean by forced relationship? It is more like a special connection between two fated individuals. Also, it is necessary for people like you who don’t like going around and meeting people. Are you worried that this old man would let you meet with some weird guy?”
She didn’t know why Chairman Park was h*llbound with the idea of looking for an eligible suitor for her.
But for some reason, she didn’t want to disappoint Chairman Park, who was enjoying his right to persuade her.
“No way. I know how accurate my grandfather’s eyes are when it comes to finding the right person.”
“If that is so, then close your eyes and meet the person I suggest.”
Chairman Park, who wondered about her gentle attitude, made a deal immediately without missing the timing.
Joo Hee agreed without any hesitation since she had already made up her mind.
There was no need to offend Chairman Park by saying ‘no’ to a person who barely got any time left on this earth.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. If it is a meeting arranged by you, then I will go.”
In the hope that this arrangement could make Chairman Park stay alive a little longer, she replied like a prayer that she hoped would come true.
“Oh my. I will try to trust you this time. Lately, I’ve been worried about him. How come I didn’t think of you before?”
“There must be someone else whom you adore just like me.”
Unlike his position and authority in the business community, Chairman Park was a person with a lot of compassion and an amiable personality
So it was natural that there was someone who cared about the grandfather as well as her.
“There is. He is the one who bothers me the most. Come to think of it, you two are similar. I’m not saying that you look alike, but your personalities are similar. The more I look, it’s strange that you two resemble each other so much.”
Joo Hee smiled at Chairman Park, who had a serious face when he spoke about her suitor.
“If there is another strange person like me then I’m curious to meet him too.”
“Oh my God, this must be fate. I will try to arrange a meeting as soon as possible. And look, it’s a promise that you made by yourself, so you can’t say anything later.”
“What am I hearing? My master, are you serious about it?”
Manager Do, who came out of the kitchen, forgot to put the tea set on the table and asked with a big fat grin on his face when he heard Joo Hee’s declaration.
“Huh, why does it seem like manager Do is more excited than Joo Hee?”
“Of course! I’m excited because it is good news. My master is not a liar, so she will definitely go on this blind date and might get married too.”
“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Why don’t you go out and meet him?”
Chairman Park, who was unaware of manager Do’s sinister motives behind the good news, chimed in with his laughter.
“Manager Do, when are you going to put it down?”
Joo Hee let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes to stop manager Do, who was enjoying his time.
“Oh, I’m sorry, master. See, I have warmed up the tea water.”
Director Do avoided Joo Hee’s eyes and placed the tea set neatly on the table along with a box covered with light blue wrapping paper.
“By the way, master, what tea is this? I took a look and saw some petals in it.”
“It’s flower tea.”
Joo Hee opened the box and put the light blue petals in a teacup placed before Chairman Park. Then, she picked up the tea kettle and poured hot water onto the petals.
As the hot water touched the petals, a strong scent began to spread in the room, leaving manager Do in surprise.
“Well, I’ve never seen a tea with such a refreshing scent. It seems like a very special tea. Master, can I get a cup, too ?”
“Yes. But right now, my grandpa is the person who needs it the most. Hurry up and drink it before the scent goes away.”
At Joo Hee’s gentle request, Chairman Park did not think twice as he raised his glass as if he was attracted by the scent.
“Well, now I know why you like tea. But not all tea tastes this good, right?
“It’s a special tea.”Joo Hee gave an agreeing smile.
It was indeed a special tea made by the petals of a flower that blooms once every ten years. It was grown in the garden of the Great Jade Emperor and contained the blessings of the heavenly god himself.
If she takes a sip of the tea, it just feels like she was dwelling back on her memories of home.
However, for those dead souls who were on the difficult path to the afterlife, it was something that could ease their burden.
After being banished to earth to live as a human, it was the first-ever gift sent by Joo Hee’s father, the heavenly god himself.
It was a tea that had the effect of purifying the soul just by smelling its scent.
Only because of Manager Do who was standing trembling in the corner of the bookshelf did she refrain herself from touching that tea so far.
“Hmm, drinking such good tea makes me feel more obligated. Give me some time. I will make sure to arrange the meeting and let you know as soon as possible.”
For some reason, Joo-hee smiled at Chairman Park’s resolute tone after drinking the tea.
“You don’t have to rush. I really enjoy my current life.”
“Hey, young lady, don’t tell me that you agreed because of my nagging. No. I no longer believe in verbal promises. What if you change your mind later? Manager Do! Bring me a paper and pen.”
Chairman Park, who stared at her as if he couldn’t trust her, suddenly demanded Manager Do for a pen and paper.
Before Joo Hee could say that she would not break the promise, Director Do immediately brought paper and pen to the Charmain’s desk.
“Here it is, Chairman Park.” Manager Do gladly said without even hiding his joy.
Chairman Park quickly scribbled something on the paper and placed it before Joo Hee.
“Now that I have signed, you can go ahead.”
However, as soon as she saw the paper, Joo-hee unknowingly muttered the content on it.
“Contract for the blind date.”
“Contract for the blind date”.
I, Lee Joo Hee (Party A) promises to go on the blind date that Park Joo Ho (Party B) arranges and pledges to meet the ‘suitor’ three times without any preconceptions.
What do you mean by a contract for a blind date?
It even says that she has to meet her suitor three times.
At the bottom of the paper, there was space left for adding the name and address of the parties, like an official memorandum.
“Why are you hesitating? You are not thinking about going back on your word, are you?”
“No way, Chairman Park. My master is a person who keeps her word no matter what happens. Why are you hesitating, master? Hurry up and sign.”
Chairman Park stared at Joo Hee, who blinked her eyes in embarrassment when Manager Do handed out his pen and urged her to sign.
Though it was embarrassing, Joo Hee pulled herself and signed the contract for now as she lacked any reasons to refute it.
“Haha…Finally, I’m relieved now.”
When Chairman Park received the signed contract, he beamed in satisfaction and even spoke a few words to ease her awkwardness.
“Why do you look so worried? Are you scared that I will introduce you to an ugly and strange guy?”
“Hey, you don’t have to worry. He is a nice guy and I’m sure that you will like him. Well, it’s a flaw that he has a strong personality, but once you get close to him, you will know that he is not so tough. And if you want, I can give you a spoiler in advance- he is indeed very handsome.”
From the Chairman’s smiling face, it was evident how much he cherished and valued that person.
As much as she was glad to see Chairman Park’s brightened face, Joo Hee felt a stinging pain in her chest, but she tried to keep a beaming smile while listening to him.
“By the way, is your dad still on a business trip? Tsk, since he was interested in roaming around, he has no time to stay home with his daughter.”
“It’s okay. I like it when my father is preoccupied with his work.”
“You ignorant little girl. If you say it is okay not to meet you, that brat will think you are really okay living alone. He may be your father, but you should reprimand him when it is necessary. Don’t be so nice to him.”
Well, it was just Chairman Park’s misunderstanding- she was not nice at all,
However, as usual, she had no intention to correct the Old man’s misunderstanding.
“Huh… I had tea and got the contract. I will take my leave now. I think it’s almost time for you to get off work.”
Chairman Park stood up with a satisfied smile as if he got everything he came for.
Joo Hee, who stood after him, instinctively looked out of the door.
This time, there was no grim reaper.
But, Secretary Cha, Chairman Park’s secretary, was the one who stood next to the entrance.
As soon as their eyes met, the secretary greeted her with a slight bow.
“You got a long way ahead, grandpa, go safely.”
Joo Hee greeted Chairman Park as politely as possible as he walked out of the bookstore.
“Okay, take care. I’ll get back to you soon.”
She didn’t answer that she would wait for his call, but instead smiled in agreement.
“Take care, Chairman Park.”
Manager Do also politely added and handed over the box of books he had packed to Secretary Cha.
“You too, manager Do, stay well.”
As Chairman Park walked away, waving his hands at them, his broad back looked very lonely to Joo Hee.
“I hope it is not today…”
Manager Do asked when he heard Joo Hee murmuring something. However, instead of pestering her with his questions, he pretended not to hear as he turned to clean the table.
But as soon as he looked at the table, he almost jumped when he saw Seok’s actions.
“Hey! What are you doing? Don’t eat that!”
Shouting at the lizard, Manager Do rushed in the direction of the table, but of course, Soek was faster than him.
The lizard stuck out its long tongue and ate the remaining petals in the box.
“You foolish lizard! It is flower tea! It’s something strange! Spit it out! Spit it out!”
He grabbed Seok and shook him to make it spit out the petal tea, but the lizard just made a joyful chirping sound.
“Manager Do, please leave him alone.”
“No, master. I felt some weird energy from this tea. I’m damn sure it’s something ominous.”
“He is going to be okay.”
Though its effect was mild on others, It was a tea that would leave some dangerous effect on ghosts and goblins.
“What do you mean? This gluten lizard can’t eat anything as he likes.”
After confirming that Seok was fine, Manager Do’s face was slightly relieved, and he threw away the lizard with a shivering expression as if he had mistakenly done something wrong.
Despite the rough throw, the lizard landed sharply on the floor and shot a displeased look at Manager Do.
However, unlike usual, it did not rush back with anger but looked drowsy as he slowly approached Joo Hee’s legs and rubbed its head against her.
Joo-hee reached out her hand and took the lizard from the floor.
“Don’t hug it… His habits are getting worse every day.”
As if he was bothered by Manager Do’s angry words, the Lizard grumbled before falling asleep in Joo Hee’s arms.
“It’s past the time to close the store. I’ll take Seok inside, Manager Do, please lock the door.”
That’s how the long but ordinary day at Lee Family Books ended.
After three days, the news of the obituary reached the bookstore…
The Obituary news of Chairman Park, who occupied a high position in the business community, caused a huge uproar in the country that was impossible to ignore.
“Chairman Park… wuhu wuhu. Chairman Park……..”
Although Manager Do, who was always famous for being emotional, the news of Chairman Park’s obituary was very shocking for him that kept him crying all day long.
“Aren’t you going to the funeral?
Manager Do spat out several questions that were mixed with the sound of a runny nose.
“I’m not going.”
“How can you be so cold-hearted, master? Chairman Park cared and cherished you so much!”
“I already said bye, four days ago.”
She bid farewell four days ago when Chairman Park was still alive.
She never wanted to bow her head at his soulless body.
It was true that she won’t be able to see Chairman Park again in her life, but she wasn’t worried since she knew that he must have gone to a better place.
The prayers of mourners create a great virtue that no judge in the afterworld could ignore.
“How did you know? Can you see the lifespan of a person?”
Surprised by her words, Manager Do stopped crying and approached the girl to pester her with questions.
“Manager Do, I’m not the one who keeps the list of the dead. Unless you are someone in charge of the list of souls, you won’t know the life expectancy of others.”
“Then how did you know that Chairman Park was going to leave this world in advance?”
“Grim Reaper. The last day when he came to the bookstore, I saw a grim reaper following grandpa Park.”
“Oh, grim reaper… I didn’t see him. But, master, it’s too much. You should have told me if you saw him. I didn’t even have a chance to see Chairman Park off while he was alive. Can’t you go to the funeral with me?”
“There’s no point in going to the funeral. Grandpa Park’s soul will not be there. And you know very well that there will be a lot of lost souls in the funeral hall. Do you want me to get possessed by one of them?”
“That’s true, but Chairman Park! Wuhu Wuhu!”
When she saw Manager Do begin to shed his tears again, she unknowingly let out a heavy sigh.
If Manager Do had seen the grim reaper that day, he would have started wailing like today.
It was a great relief for Chairman Park that manager Do failed to see the grim reaper and his upcoming death.
“I’m sure grandpa knows how you feel. Don’t be too sad. I’m sure he will go somewhere nice.”
“I know that he went to a good place, but I can’t help but feel sad because I will not be able to see him forever.”
It was another depressing and gloomy day for Joo Hee as she lost another cherished relationship forever.