Lee family books
It was an old place where the randomly scribbled typeface on the wooden board carried the traces of many years, as if it seemed to tell the long history of the bookstore.
It had an old door that looked like it would make a mysterious creaking sound with just a slight push.
One might also consider it as a space where an elderly grandfather would raise his thick magnifying glasses to greet guests with ‘Welcome’ at any moment.
The interior of Lee family books was no different from other old bookstores as it was surrounded by books. It even has walls covered with tall shelves that can only be reached by a high ladder.
However, adding to one’s disappointment, there wasn’t a grandfather with a magnifying glass, who looked mysterious in the bookstore.
Instead, there was only one ordinary, short man who occupied the center seat.
The man seemed to be in his late thirties and appeared focused on his work as he quickly repeated the same hand movements.
“Sasasak sasak sasak sasak!”
Manager Do, who was in charge of Lee’s family books overall work, concentrated all his attention on grinding the edges of the book as he rubbed it with sandpaper.
“Sassaaksasak” He repeated the same hand gesture several times.
Finally, when he finished, he blew away the scraps that he gnawed off with a long breath, revealing the white part as shiny as a new book.
Manager Do unknowingly curled his thick lips with deep joy and satisfaction
However, his joy lasted only for a moment when a sudden coughing sound startled the manager.
“Oh, master! Are you okay?” The manager worriedly asked as if he was going to die.
How could he possibly forget that the owner was sitting opposite him and dare to throw garbage at her?
Lee Joo Hee. 25 years old.
She is his current master and the granddaughter of the man who used to be the owner of Lee’s family books until two years ago.
While the Old man was alive, Manager Do took care of Lee family books on behalf of his son, who never cared about the bookstore.
Though he continued to live as the head of the bookstore, in reality, Manager Do was a goblin disguised as a human.
He was a goblin who used to be on the verge of extinction when his contract with humans turned invalid due to the death of the previous owner of Lee family books. Fortunately, the owner’s granddaughter, Joo Hee, signed the contract, and he was able to continue to live amongst humans.
It was considered a stroke of exceptional luck among goblins to sign a contract with a human.
If a goblin failed to make a contract, he would end up becoming a wandering ghost.
However, Manager Do was lucky when Joo Hee, a very unusual owner, signed a contract even though she knew he was a goblin.
“Achoo! I’ve told you several times to throw the waste properly so that it won’t fly around.”
Joo Hee, who was constantly sneezing, glared at him,
“Sorry, master. I was so focused on working that I forgot that master was in front of me.”
Contrary to his blunt appearance, Manager Do was a timid goblin who often trembled even from a mere change in Joo Hee’s eyes.
“Manager Do, it seems that your forgetfulness is getting worse. Yesterday too, you handed over a book that was reserved to another customer.”
Even though her tone of words had no hint of blame, somehow the seat the manager sat on gradually became a thorny cushion because of her sharp gaze.
‘Did she notice that?’
Every time Joo Hee started to silently stare at him, Manager Do’s heart would sink in fear.
However, unless Joo Hee directly confronted him about it, the manager would have no intention to confess his mistake in the first place. For him, the contract made with a human was a big deal and he could never appreciate it if his master got rid of it due to his silly mistakes.
Manager Do, activated his survival instinct to the maximum and carefully studied Joo Hee’s reaction. Luckily it didn’t seem like that was the case.
“Phew.” A deep breath of relief spontaneously flowed out from him.
Now that his mind was free from worry, Manager Do, decided to come clean about the unfortunate incident from yesterday.
“As I mentioned earlier, the reservation label wasn’t attached to that book. It really didn’t have any.” He repeated the excuse from yesterday with wide eyes.
“Then the label must have been wrongly placed on the goblin’s robe. Otherwise, how can something that was stuck until yesterday morning disappear by itself?
“You know that I don’t lie. Yes, I sold the book at a bargain price without knowing it was a rare and expensive book, but I clearly checked it before selling it. But I swear, there was no label.” Manager Do sighed and responded angrily to Joo Hee’s words, only to dig his own grave with his explanation.
“A rare book, so expensive… at a bargain price.”
Joo Hee carefully picked and repeated specific words that crawled back to Manager Do on its own, making his big eyes roll in fear.
He is a goblin. Although he is a miscellaneous god, people love him due to his ability to bring fortune to humans.
The ability to handle gold is what a goblin should possess, but unfortunately, he lost it.
Maybe that’s why, since the Old man’s demise, Lee’s family books has always been empty, and as a result, the family’s financial conditions have never gotten better.
What was the worst part? If Joo Hee finds out about this, Manager Do might get kicked out of Lee’s family books right away.
Instead of adding to their poor household income, he was doing things that were detrimental to them. So there was nothing left for him to say but apologise for his incapabilities.
“I’m sorry, master. I really didn’t know it was that expensive. Next time, I’ll be careful. I will make sure to check the label before selling it.”
Manager Do reluctantly put the words of an apology in his mouth, but no matter how much he pretended to be okay, his facial muscles remained stiff due to the unfair treatment.
“Manager Do, your expressions and words are contradicting itself.”
Gasp! For a minute, he forgot the fact that goblins suck at making excuses and lies.
As expected, Joo Hee quickly picked up his lie and glared at him, like a snake in front of a frog.
Joo Hee, who suddenly became contemplative, sighed and diverted his attention to something else that needed immediate action.
“Just pack the books you just trimmed. It’s a special book that Professor Jang asked for, so don’t miss anything.”
“Of course. That’s my forte. I’ll wrap it neatly. Hehe!”
Manager Do, who looked like he was about to die a moment ago, quickly began to organize the books with a big smile as if he had done nothing wrong.
“But I haven’t seen Seok since this morning.”
Joo Hee looked around the bookstore and curiously asked about the newest member of her family.
No matter how much she searched amongst the empty seats or the darkest corners between the bookshelves where Seok usually bustled around, she couldn’t find him.
“Seok..is…haa…Jun came to buy a comic book earlier in the afternoon and took Seok with him.”
Manager Do, casually answered while stacking the books that he had trimmed.
Manager Do, who was busy arranging the books, replied to Joo Hee’s questions without any hesitations since there was nothing unusual about the context of the conversation.
“Three days ago, Jun got interested in Seok. He said that he would take Seok home and return before the store closes.”
“Did Seok… give his permission as well?”
“Why does Soek need to give permission? Jun made up his mind and even brought a glass box. How can I overlook Jun’s persistence on the subject of lizards?”
Manager Do looked very scared as he spoke in a timid voice because of his fear of his short-tempered master.
“Did you even try a little?”
“How can I do that? Jun is the only regular customer of Seorim. Isn’t it obvious which side to prioritize if I had to choose between a regular customer and a Lizard? Hmph, Seok! If he had that much conscience, he should start paying for his meals.”
Manager Do, undoubtedly took the side of Jun and discarded Seok, the voracious lizard with a huge appetite.
“He is still not recovered yet. “
“What do you mean by not recovered yet?” Manager Do almost choked upon Joo Hee’s words when he remembered that she doesn’t know how much Seok eats in a day.
“If Seok doesn’t get well any time soon, this house will probably go bankrupt by feeding that gluten Seok.”
Joo Hee brought up the topic of Seok to mediate the two enemies, but when she heard Do’s resentful words, she had to stop and think for a while.
Well, it was her who brought Seok back.
The Lizard was lying in front of the gate of Lee family books on a rainy day, and that pitiful sight reminded Joo Hee of a boy whom she met a long time ago.
During that time, she was a heavenly god who descended to the earth for the first time. However, on that day, she broke heavenly rules and saved a child from death.
As a result, she was banished to the mortal world to live as a human being to repent for her mistake.
From that day on, whether it was a human or not, Joo Hee vowed not to be involved with the topic of ‘life and mortality’ again. But when she saw Seok suffering in front of her, she couldn’t let it go.
Not to mention,Seok resembled ‘Mong’, who took care of her in heaven.
Perhaps that’s why she was strangely interested in the lizard and took him home.
However, the relationship between Seok and Manager Do worsened as much as her interest.
“Anyways, it all happened because of you, master. Why did you pick such -”
“I don’t think I’m interested in discussing that topic again.”
Joo Hee cut off his words with a tone lower than usual. She was getting irritated by Manager Do’s continuous grumbling.
Once he heard her stern refusal, the manager’s rants immediately stopped.
“Ahhh…I think….I might…need to bring a box to wrap the book.”
Joo Hee sighed in regret when she saw Manager Do trying to hide his awkwardness due to her blunt words.
She never meant to blame or make the manager uncomfortable, it just happened on a whim.
When Joo Hee understood her mistake, she decided to apologise first. However, as soon as she opened her mouth to say sorry, the bell on the entrance door made a clear sound, interrupting her.
As soon as Manager Do heard the bell, he flashed a wide grin and quickly ran to greet the customer.
However, the first thing that he noticed was a glass box that came through the door instead of the person who carried it to the bookstore.
“Oh my god!”
The angry sound of a lizard in the glass box and Manager’s Do’s shriek echoed in the silent book store almost at the same time.
“Hello, Manager Do, I’ve brought Seok.”
“No, officer Kim, why did you…”
Manager Do disappointedly looked at the man in police uniform and tried to calm his startled heart.
“Jun’s mother suddenly had an emergency.” The policeman politely notified while holding the glass box.
“I was on patrol when I met her, and she looked so worried that she would be late for work, so I brought him instead.”
Manager Do replied indifferently.
When officer Kim caught Seok hitting the glass wall of the box with his tail, he broadly smiled in content.
“Haha, isn’t Seok so cute? Now I know why Jun wants to keep it.”
“How can he be cute? No matter how much I search on the Internet, I can’t find a species uglier than him.”
Manager Do, sarcastically commented on the lizard’s appearance as if he forgot the conversation with Joo Hee, a moment ago.
“Really? But he is so adorable and pretty.”
“It’s not pretty at all. Jun and Officer Kim are the only ones who say that Soek is pretty since you have seen it only for a few days. By the way, is it okay for a rookie officer to do something else during work hours?”
“Well, it’s also a police’s job to help citizens who are going through trouble, and I didn’t come alone. My colleague is waiting outside.” Officer Kim sheepishly explained and quickly shifted his attention to the young lady of the bookstore, “How have you been, Joo Hee?
While Officer Kim was talking to manager Do, he was constantly glancing at Joo Hee and when he finally spoke to her, he gave the girl an awkward greeting as his cheeks blushed red.
“Yes. Welcome, Officer Kim, and Thank you for bringing Seok home.”
“Oh, no wories. Here you go.”
Although Manager Do had no intention of receiving the glass box carrying Soek, he reached out his hand. However, instead of giving it to the manager, officer Kim directly approached Joo Hee, who stood further away and handed the glass box to the owner.
Manager Do, who witnessed the scene with prying eyes, alternately glanced at his master and officer Kim as he stood there watching their interactions with folded arms.
“Officer Kim, do you perhaps like our owner?” Manager Do abruptly announced his long time suspicion, “Come to think of it, you used to buy coffee from time to time and even bought books that you never needed while preparing for your police officer test.”
“What?” The police officer almost choked with embarrassment and tried to make excuses when he got caught red-handed. “No, no. It’s not like that. It’s just that we live in the same neighbourhood…we’re of similar age, and we like books…”
Manager Do’s meaningful gaze deepened as officer Kim stuttered with his face blushing red like a tomato as he explained further.
Unable to hide his awkwardness, officer Kim turned his eyes away and looked around the bookshelves for a long time until he stopped at the shelf where civil service reference books were arranged.
All of a sudden, he recalled something and tilted his head to face Manager Do.
“How do you know that I used to be a regular customer before I became a police officer? Manager Do, you weren’t here while I was preparing for my exams.” He pointed out as his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“As far as I know, it’s been only two years since you started working here, and we met each other for the first time after I cleared the police test.”
Officer Kim looked straight ahead and asked Manager Do, who stood with a horrified look on his face.
However, the reason for his horror was not the question by the police officer but Joo Hee, who stood behind him.
She had a scary look on her face as if she would tear the goblin’s pretty eyes apart and kick him out of the bookstore right away.
“That, that, of course, I heard it from the previous employee that Officer Kim was a regular here and also, he was the one who told me about the coffee.”
Since manager Do was a goblin, he changed his appearance every five years. He feared that people in the neighbourhood would probably notice if a man remained unchanged and worked in one place for a long time.
How could he possibly admit that he used to work here as a man with a different face and appearance? That would be considered strange.
“Oh, I see.” Officer Kim let out a chuckle and continued,
“No wonder it seemed a little weird. But on a closer look, you look quite similar to Manager Shin, who used to work here before.”
When he heard officer Kim’s words, Manager Do let out a sigh of relief.
He was glad that Officer Kim was naive, but if it were another persistent guy, he would have gotten himself in big trouble.
However, Joo Hee was in no mood to just let it go as she assessed the situation where Manager Do almost split the truth.
“Really!? Well, the images of a person working at a bookstore are all the same. They’re only different in age and height, but strangely resemble each other. So, were you familiar with the previous manager? Manager Do made some random excuse and tried to divert the young man’s attention from the topic.
The sound of the police walkie-talkie was heard in the room.
“Please report to A.C.E. Apartment building 109. We have an emergency, someone got hurt.”
“Oh, I should get going”.
When he heard the dispatch notice from the walkie-talkie, officer Kim was left puzzled for a moment and quickly regained his composure as he hurriedly bid farewell to Joo Hee.
“Is it an accident?”
“Yes, there was no loss of life reported yet, but it seems strange. Recently we keep receiving reports like this from the same apartment. Anyways, I’ll get going.”
“Goodbye. I hope things go well.”
Despite the urgent situation, officer Kim’s cheeks turned slightly red again because of Joo Hee’s unexpectedly friendly greeting.
“I’ll come back next time.” He slightly bowed and walked out of the bookstore in hurried steps.
Manager Do, who confirmed that Officer Kim had left the bookstore, sighed as he touched his chest in great relief.
“Whew, that was close. Though officer Kim looks negligent, sometimes he catches me off guard with his quick wit.”
However, manager Do’s relief only lasted for a moment when he suddenly sensed a terrifying aura from behind, once again.
As expected, Joo Hee was not a person to just let it go.
“Please excuse me, master. I’m really sorry. I’ll definitely watch my mouth from now on. I’ll do whatever you ask me to do, so please don’t kick me out. Please.”
Manager Do closed his eyes and rubbed his hands like a fly, begging for forgiveness.
“Okay. I’ll overlook it one last time, as you’ve said. But in return, please get along well with Seok.”
Hearing her odd request, Manager Do’s expression turned ugly, but he didn’t dare protest.
As soon as Joo Hee’s words left her mouth, she opened the glass, and like a stone shot from a catapult, the lizard jumped over the manager’s head and began to slap him with its long tail.
What kind of goblin suffers such humiliation like this?
Manager Do grabbed Seok’s cheeky tail and removed the crazy lizard from his head within the short time when Joo Hee’s attention diverted from him.
To be honest, he hated the lizard since it seemed to understand human words. It made his stomach twist in revulsion.
“About police officer Kim, don’t you think he really likes you?” He inquired as he struggled with the lizard and dared to choose a topic his master hated to discuss.
However, Joo Hee’s reaction was lukewarm.
“I don’t know what silly thing you’re saying. If you know Officer Kim well, you might know there are nine out of ten chances for it to be true.” She tried to brush it off with a vague answer which made Manager Do become more confused.
What? Does that mean police officer Kim got feelings for his master, and she was aware of that?
“What? Then why are you pretending not to care? Hurry up and marry Officer Kim and have an adorable baby. That’s how I can get a new master……. Hiccup!”
Manager Do excitedly suggested it when he remembered his master’s cute childhood stored in his little goblin head. He unknowingly revealed his big dream in the flow of things.
But even before he could finish, a hiccup broke his words and he got shot by Joo Hee’s sharp arrow-like, cold glare.
“Does it mean that I should marry someone and give birth to a child in order to get you a new owner?”
Unlike the cold air that immediately shrouded the room and drastically dropped the temperature, Joo Hee pointed out in a very calm voice that made the goblin forget what it was like when his master was genuinely angry.
What misery! An unwitted goblin’s life was about to end very soon.
“Someone? No. There are not many people who are explicitly clear-minded and pure-hearted like Officer Kim.” He explained as he finally managed to hold the lizard, who struggled to get out of his tight grip.
But that was when manager Do got a hint of anger fuming inside his master.
Oh my god!
In a glimpse, his face turned white in fear.
“I didn’t know you liked Officer Kim so much, then why don’t you sign your goblin contract with him? Wait, let me terminate it as soon as possible.” Joo Hee casually retaliated and pretended to search for the contract in her drawer, “Oh, where did I keep it?”
As soon as Manager Do heard her icy words, the spirit of the goblin fled out his body.
How difficult was it to sign a contract with a human being and she is terminating his hard-earned contract?
“Master! Master! I made a grave mistake…I’m sorry.”
Manager Do dashed like lightning and held Joo Hee’s pants and wailed.
“Let go of me. I don’t want to marry, let alone give birth to another master for you, so go to officer Kim, who likes you so much.”
“No…I must have gone crazy for a moment. Please forgive me, master.”
Only after hearing it through Joo Hee’s mouth did Manager Do realize the real gravity of his casual remarks.
What did he mean by a new owner? It sounded like he was asking Joo Hee to die sooner.
“Wuhu, Wuhu…Master, please forgive me one more time. I won’t talk about marriage again. I’ll die with you when you die. Please. Wuhuhuu…”
“That’s even scarier. I can’t believe I have to stay with a goblin even after I die. Hurry up and bring the contract.”
Manager Do’s wailing shook the old bookstore until it got replaced by a melodious ringing of the doorbell.
The surprised Joo Hee and manager Do, who were standing in a pose that anyone would misunderstand, headed straight to the door at the same time.
Before they got the gist of the situation, an old gentleman with shiny white hair entered the store. His expensive tailored suit elevated his persona of an elite as he steadily walked in.
Indeed, he was an important guest of Lee family books.
“Welcome, Chairman Park!”
When manager Do found the golden opportunity to get out of his crisis, he almost flew towards the old man and bent forward to greet the customer.
“Tsk tsk. Manager Do, what did you do wrong this time? Why are you holding on to Joo Hee’s pants like a bodhisattva?”
As if it was a familiar scene that he had seen more than once, the old gentleman clicked his tongue and looked at the Manager in pity.
“Well, well, hehehehe. I made some mistakes……. By the way, it’s been a while since you’ve been here. The book you asked for came a long time ago, I’ll bring it right away.”
Manager Do quickly made some random excuses and ran away without offering a cup of tea to his regular customer.
“Oh my, every time I see that guy, he makes my head go crazy. Anyways, why is it so empty here? Young lady, you can’t possibly live like this.”
As soon as manager Do disappeared through the inner door of the bookstore, the old gentleman dotingly greeted Joo Hee as the fine wrinkles on his kind face curled into a soft smile.
“Chairman, why are you here?”
Though Joo Hee greeted him with a smile, her voice slightly shook with worry.
All of a sudden, she felt a surprisingly strange gaze, and her eyes naturally shifted towards the door behind Chairman Park,
In the dark corridor among the bookshelves, someone was staring at them.