Chapter 4 Part 2
It was a strangely busy day at Lee family books ever since Joo Hee had taken over.
“Oh my goodness!!!! I’ve been visiting this bookstore during your grandfather’s time, but I’ve never seen a crowd quite like this. Are you having an event or something?”
Professor Jang, who came to collect his pre-ordered books, asked in a surprised voice when he saw the crowd in the bookstore.
“No. We don’t have an event, but strangely, we have lots of customers today. I’m sorry Professor, I can’t serve you a cup of tea.”
“Heh heh, that’s not a problem at all. I got to see these fascinating sights, that’s enough. Lately, I’ve been worried that business has gone downhill since your grandfather left this world, but now that I look at it, I don’t think I need to worry about it. Look, even the grumpy Manager is grinning like a kid.”
Watching the crowded store and Joo Hee’s gentle smile, Professor Jang appeared delighted as if it were his own business,
“It’s nice to see you smile like this after so long.” While picking up a heavy delivery box, he looked at the kid who was waiting behind with a comic book for his turn to pay.
“I think I’m wasting your time, I should leave.”
“Oh, I’ll put this in the car.” Joo Hee suggested as she reached to hold the box.
“Hey, don’t treat me like an old man who can’t even lift a box.” Professor Jang dotingly chided her, “By the way, how’s your father? Is he coming home any time soon?
“I talked to him on the phone a few days ago and he said his schedule will still be a little longer.”
Since Professor Jang taught Joo Hee’s father at college, whenever he visited the Lee family books, he never forgot to convey his regards for his old student.
“Yeah, he did say that it would take some time.”
“You don’t have to worry, I’m sure he is fine over there. Professor, give me that. It’s been a while since you came, and I feel terrible if I don’t see you off.”
Hearing her words, Professor Jang looked slightly disappointed, but Joo Hee, on the other hand, failed to notice it as she took the box from the old man.
“Manager Do, take care of the counter for a second, let me see Professor Jang off.” She instructed Manager Do before leaving the counter and walked towards the entrance.
“I’ll get back to you as soon as I get the rest of the books on your list. Drive safely, professor.”
“Okay, see you later.”
Joo Hee, who happily sent him off, could not take her eyes off until Professor Jang’s car disappeared beyond the corner.
After standing there for a long time, Joo Hee realised that the sunlight had already disappeared behind the concrete jungle, painting the skies in hues of dark blue.
When did the time go by so quickly?
The appointment was at 6pm. It was a meeting she had to attend no matter what happens since it put the Lee family book’s survival at stake.
Unknowingly, she lowered her eyes and looked at what she was wearing.
To be honest, she was planning to change in the afternoon. However, she became so busy that she had no time to change the jeans and sweaters she wore since the morning.
Even though it was not a formal meeting, it’s too rude to wear it to a meeting place.
“I will reconsider the contract only if you show up.”
Since she came out of the store to send off Professor Jang only for a while, Joo Hee didn’t wear a coat, but the chilly wind pierced into her clothes. She felt as cold as the cold words that popped out of Park Shin Woo’s mouth.
“What should I do?”
When Joo Hee remembered Park Shin Woo’s cold eyes, she hesitated about what to do while looking at the house for a while.
Suddenly, the temperature seemed to drop sharply and a black figure appeared in front of her without notice.
Joo Hee was so shocked that she had to bite her lips and clench her fist upon realising what it was.
“When are you going to find out?”
The Grim Reaper, who shrouded in black, popped out before her and asked.
“Reaper, when you appear in front of me in the future, please give me a signal before you show up. Humans are weaker than you think, if you suddenly pop up and startle me like this, I might get a heart attack and won’t be able to help you.”
Even though she didn’t like it, since Joo Hee had made up her mind to find out about the missing soul, she had no other option but to meet him often like this in the future.
With the thought of having such a shocking encounter in the future, Joo Hee didn’t hesitate to put forward her demand to the Grim Reaper.
“Are you threatening me now? I’m sure you haven’t even tried to find the missing soul.”
“It’s not a threat, it’s a request.” Joo Hee tried to reason, “Of course, I will help you, Reaper. I’m just telling you that I can’t leave my work and search for missing souls.”
“You’re so bold. Aren’t you scared?”
“You told me that my time hasn’t come yet, then why should I be scared?”
The temperature around the Grim Reaper, who was distorting his face as if he was displeased with her bold words, fell further, but still, Joo Hee did not stop talking.
“Aren’t you supposed to watch the missing child’s mother rather than visiting me like this?”
He might not find the cause of death, but at least, he could safely take the child’s soul if he stuck around with the mother.
“Do you think I’m having fun? I haven’t been able to do anything today because of this missing soul.”
“So…you also didn’t find anything?”
“So I came looking for you.”
The moment Joo Hee heard the Grim reaper’s concern, she couldn’t help but think of the child wandering around her mother in front of the mart.
“No way.” Joo Hee suddenly tilted her head when she finally understood the reason why the ghost didn’t appear when she searched for it last night.
“Have you been waiting for me?”
Suddenly, Joo Hee was jolted awake from her thoughts by the familiar voice, and she slowly turned around,
Right before her eyes, Park Shin Woo stood with a strange expression on his handsome face.
“Mr Park.” Joo Hee, who was startled to see Shin Woo standing with his back against the evening sun, blankly muttered his name.
“I just heard you saying something is not here. Did you miss something”?
Only when she heard Shin Woo asking a question while looking at the empty air, did Joo Hee remember that the Grim Reaper was still standing beside them.
Even though he was not visible to the human eye, she felt embarrassed and scared for a second.
Joo Hee immediately made a winking gesture at the Grim Reaper and asked him to disappear, but he just stood there, squinting at Shinwoo.
Feeling her heart dropping at the sight, Joo Hee briefly forgot that Shin Woo was there and issued a cold warning to the Grim Reaper.
“Stop it. If you keep disturbing me, I won’t help you.”
Hearing her warning, Grim Reaper shot a murderous glare at her for a moment and quickly disappeared as if someone had blown out a candle.
“Did you just say that to me?”
Just by listening to Shin Woo’s heavy voice, Joo Hee could tell what kind of expression he would be making right now.
“Oh, not at all. I’m just talking to myself. Sometimes I talk to myself.”
Joo Hee slowly turned around and smiled awkwardly.
She knew that the excuse sounded the same as the word “I’m crazy,” but unfortunately, she couldn’t think of anything else.
“Actually, the store was a bit busy today, so I haven’t gotten ready yet.”
When Joo Hee glanced at her clothes covered with dust from the books, Shin Woo’s hardened face seemed to loosen a bit.
“I will wait.”
“Thank you. I’ll be right back, so please wait at the bookstore.”
Joo Hee hurried her steps toward home, not to the bookstore, wondering whether she had any proper clothes to wear.
Even after she disappeared, Shin Woo stood staring at the old gates for a long time.
“Are you a goblin?”
Shin Woo monotonously muttered in a voice as emotionless as his face.
Since there was no parking space near the bookstore, he stopped the car somewhere far and walked up, only to see Joo Hee standing alone on the side of the road.
Unexpectedly, he tried to call her, but when he saw her saying something to the air, he felt something amiss.
Except Joo Hee he saw nothing.
Rather than assuming that Joo Hee was talking to herself because she was out of her mind, the assumption that she was talking to a ghost was more convincing since he already doubted that she was a goblin.
Recalling the moment when she shouted harshly at the air, Joo Hee was even more likely to be a goblin.
It didn’t matter if Lee Joo Hee was a goblin, a human being, or a god, as long as she meant no harm to him.
It was just an interest and curiosity for someone who signed a cute contract with his grandfather.
“I think my grandfather cared about you a lot…”
As he mumbled casually, something suddenly came to Shin Woo’s mind that made him frown deeply.
Not only did his grandfather maintain the contract under ridiculous rental conditions, but also, bought a lot of old books and piled them up in the warehouse whenever he had time.
His affection went beyond the position of an acquaintance’s granddaughter. He ended up giving a spot in his heart for Lee Joo Hee.
However, if she was a goblin, not a human, whom his grandfather loved with all his heart, it would probably have been of no help to his grandfather, who has already left this world.
“It would be better if you were a human, not a goblin.”
Recalling the soul of his grandfather, who had passed away a long time ago, Shinwoo hoped that Lee Joo Hee would be just a bright-eyed human.
As soon as Shin Woo got out of the car and awkwardly extended his hand for the lady, they heard a camera shutter and a flash go off somewhere nearby.
Joo Hee, who froze at the spot without knowing what just happened, looked at Shin Woo, who stood there with no change on his face.
“Please go in, I’ll follow you up soon.”
Eungsan, who stood behind Shin Woo, suggested while looking at the paparazzi who started to run away,
Shin Woo walked toward the hotel lobby without even looking at Eungsan, who was already striding towards the paparazzi.
Only a bewildered Joo Hee took turns looking at the back of Eungsan, the bodyguard, and Shin Woo’s back as she followed him into the lobby.
As soon as Park Shin Woo became the young chairman of Hansung Group, he became the hottest topic everywhere.
Such a high profile man showing up in a hotel with a young woman- no doubt it would become wild gossip beyond anyone’s imagination.
“Hey…If you are worried that your picture will go online, you don’t have to worry. My bodyguard is quite good at negotiating. But, if you want your face to be known…….”
At her strong denial, he stopped walking and looked back with a smile as if it was fun teasing her.
Well, it was Joo Hee’s life goal to live quietly as long as she was in the human world.
However, if she became a subject of gossip with the young chairman of Hansung Group, even if the contract remained the same, she would not be able to live in the neighbourhood.
Just imagining something terrible as it was, Joo Hee’s face was unknowingly distorted.
“I feel like changing my mind since it seems like you don’t like this setup for some reason.”
“I don’t want to hear that, even as a joke.” As a response to Shin Woo’s joke, Joo Hee’s widened eyes failed to enjoy the magnificent lobby of the Paradise Hotel.
“I know that my reputation is not that bad, but it seems like Lee Joo hee’s ideal type must be different.”
“I simply want to live as quietly as possible for the rest of my life.”
It had been a long time since they had arrived in front of the elevator, but when Joo Hee saw that Shin Woo had no intention to press the button, she pressed the ‘up’ button and asked.
“Which floor is it?”
“You have the mindset of an old man who has lived a long life.”
Instead of answering her question, Shin Woo made the same joke that Chairman Park often used to make.
Joo Hee always thought that Chairman Park and Park Shin Woo had nothing in common to resemble each other, but when she unexpectedly found a similar side, her lips curled into a faint smile without even realizing it.
At that time, the elevator stopped and the door opened in front of them.
There was a grumpy looking middle-aged man in the elevator, and it was evident that he was hesitating to leave when he saw the couple before him.
The cold gaze of the middle-aged man solely turned to Shin Woo, with no delay.
“CEO… No, the inauguration ceremony is over, so you’re the chairman. What are you doing here? Out of all places, you are here with a young lady? I hope she is not a student..”
The middle-aged man, who twisted his lips up, had a voice as cold as his face.
“Since I’m not a ghost, I sometimes go out to eat. Director Kim, what brings you here? If I recall properly, you have a meeting with H&Y today. I don’t think this is where you were supposed to be.”
Seeing Shin Woo calmly responding to Director Kim’s sharp words, Joo Hee thought that not everyone could become a chairman.
It was surprising to realize that Shin Woo’s appearance now resembled Chairman Park, who was a born entrepreneur, unlike before.
Somehow, Joo Hee’s gaze at Park Shin Woo turned amusing and proud, as she continued to look at him.
“Something personal happened. I’m on my way to attend the meeting, sir.”
Director Kim admitted his fault, biting his lips as if his pride got hurt.
“I don’t want to know what’s going on, but it would become difficult for you if Hansung is missing from the H&Y meeting. So, please go ahead.”
Shin Woo took a leisurely step into the elevator, along with Joo Hee, while saying something as if he caught Director Kim wandering around.
The elevator was automatically closing and all of a sudden, it stopped.
“Wait! I forgot to ask you one thing. The investment support for the cultural property research institute, I heard it didn’t pass your review. What happened? Is there a problem?”
Holding onto the closing elevator door, Director Kim frowned and asked as if he was picking a fight.
“I’m looking into it. As Director Kim knows, I’ve been quite busy dealing with small quarrels recently.”
“It was something that the deceased chairman had never skipped until now.”
“We are considering it.”
“I don’t understand. It seems like you’re delaying it on purpose for me.”
Even though Joo Hee didn’t see Shin Woo’s face, she could feel that his voice was turning agitated as the other person kept talking.
However, Director Kim kept talking in an annoying voice as if he failed to see the change in Shin Woo’s tone or it was something that needed to be done urgently.
“Director Kim Kyojin.”
Shin Woo, who cut director Kim’s words in the middle, had completely changed in a glimpse of a moment.
It wasn’t loud, but still, Director Kim flinched upon hearing being called out by the chairman.
“Why would I delay it on purpose to target Director Kim? You always do your best for our Hansung Group. However, since you’re asking for twice the amount you’ve invested so far, I can’t simply agree as we have done until now unless I’m a figurehead chairman as the rumours say. Please wait. I’ll review it again and give you an answer by the day after tomorrow.”
The moment Shin Woo mentioned, “Figurehead Chairman,” Director Kim’s eyes shook in fear and agreed without any protest.
By guessing the flow of the conversation so far, it was enough for Joo Hee to figure out that the relationship between the two was not so great.
“How long are you going to hold the door? I’m very hungry right now.”
When Shin Woo spoke coldly with a very straightforward expression of annoyance, Director Kim let go of the door that he was holding, reflectively muttering his apology.
In the elevator that gradually went up towards the sky lounge, Joo Hee tilted her head and looked at Shin Woo, without even batting her eyelids.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Until just now, I thought you were very much like Grandfather Park, but now that I see it, I don’t think that’s the only thing. How should I say this? It’s hard to put it into words.… Strangely, you seem very familiar. Hm, have we met before?”
It was strange.
The more she looked at him, the more she felt a sense of familiarity.
Since their meetings were always so sudden, making her heart pop out in fear and be startled, she didn’t notice it until she took a closer look at Shin Woo.
It felt nostalgic…as if she had known him for a long time.
“Hmm, is this your pick up line?”
Joo Hee idly blinked and asked back, wondering whether he understood what she meant.
“Really? You’re saying that you’ve seen someone like me somewhere and you don’t remember him. Do you want me to believe it? Do I look that ordinary? At least you should look at the person before you use pick up lines on them.”
“No, that’s not what I meant…”
Of course, Park Shin Woo’s appearance was indeed a visual that she could never forget, even after a thousand years.
Thinking like that, the blind words she said earlier sounded like clumsy pickup lines, so she couldn’t think of any other excuses anymore.
“Pfft. Please don’t go anywhere and say such obvious comments, Lee Joo hee.”
Joo Hee wanted to refute when she realised that Shin Woo had already started teasing her as if it were fun. She just pursed her mouth upon the fear that any words from her would sound like an excuse.
But contrary to the puzzling words, the more she became conscious of him, the more she felt familiar with him,and she was genuinely embarrassed.
It was a strange feeling that she had never felt before.
“We’re almost there.”
As soon as they got off the elevator, Joo Hee quietly followed him, feeling warmer as they walked towards the sky lounge restaurant.
“Welcome, Chairman. Let me take you to your seats.”
Guided by the polite staff, both of them crossed the hall,
When Joo Hee thought she heard the voice of another employee, someone quickly passed by her and slightly bumped into her shoulder.
It wasn’t painful, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the person who was disappearing quickly as she felt that he was familiar.
He was a normal-looking man who could be seen everywhere on the street.
As he stared at Joo Hee, her eyes fell on the badge attached to the coat-collar of the man she just bumped.
Today he didn’t wear any faded safari jumpers or dirty sneakers, but still, she could recognize the unique badge on his collar.
It was the man she saw in front of the mart yesterday.
“Where are you looking?”
Perhaps because she was still standing in his way, Joo Hee heard a very dissatisfied sound.
Unlike Park Shin Woo, Joo Hee, who clearly remembered where she saw the man, turned with joy.
All of a sudden, her body was momentarily frozen when she felt something just pass right through her without a trace.
It was a child.
It was the same missing child whom the Grim Reaper had been searching for.
Joo Hee, who was surprised by the child’s sudden appearance, immediately turned around and chased the child who had already left the restaurant.
She wasn’t thinking about the promise with the Grim Reaper, but the child’s stiff expression looked unusual, so her body instinctively moved.
Joo Hee ran out of the restaurant without paying any attention to how hard Park Shin Woo’s face had turned by her clueless actions.
No matter how much she looked around the lounge, she couldn’t find the child.
The child disappeared in that short time.
“It was definitely that kid.”’
Her bewildered gaze rolled around and blankly stared at the number plate of the elevator, which was continuing to count down.
“I don’t know how to deal with this behaviour. Does this mean that we shouldn’t continue this date?”
Only when Joo Hee heard a dangerously cold voice right above her head, did she understand how absurdly she acted just now.
It seems like the new contract is going to fly away.
It felt like her legs were heavy as she turned around, but Joo Hee couldn’t hesitate to apologise as she feared losing the contract because of her stupidity
“I’m sorry. I thought I saw someone I know…….”
She quickly picked an excuse and shut her mouth in even more embarrassment.
No matter how much she explained, it was evident that she was appealing very openly that she was crazy.
Although she chased the child, Shin Woo did not see it, since ghosts were invisible to human beings.
“Someone you know?”
Shin Woo stared at the tightly closed elevator door and harshly asked back.
“Oh, it’s nothing. We should go ahead to the blind date… I mean the date..dinner…”
It seemed as if she was blabbering on her own, but Joo Hee quickly regained her bearings and shut her mouth while focusing on the new contract in her head.
“Is your preference that unique? Or do you have some problems with your eyesight?”
Shin Woo didn’t mean to say it out loud, but unknowingly he blurted it out when his existence had been treated like a feather.
“What are you talking about?”
“Just by looking at him, anyone can tell that he is a married man. I’m asking if you prefer having an illicit affair or something.”
“No, that’s not it!”
It was only then that she realised the meaning of his words and shouted no, but unfortunately, her actions so far have said it all.
To the point where running out from here sounded better than anything else.
He was a short and insignificant middle-aged man and Shin Woo couldn’t believe that she would chase that person.
His presence had never felt so faint.
If the other elevator hadn’t just stopped before them, even Shin Woo didn’t imagine what else he would have said.
“Why haven’t you gone inside yet?”
“I was discussing with this lady here, to have her choose between her sexual preference and her desperate need for a date.”
As soon as he heard Eungsan’s question, Shin Woo, who was already in a bad mood, muttered vaguely.
“Date. And why do you keep strangely talking about my taste? I also have eyes. If possible, I prefer a handsome person with a great body.”
Joo-hee took a deep breath and clearly conveyed her intentions as if she didn’t want to hear any of his strange words that kept stirring the wrong things.
“Okay. I will be fooled this time. But if this happens again in the place where we are meeting, I won’t hesitate to break the lease contract and pretend that our contract doesn’t exist.”
“That’s not going to happen. Next time, I’ll do whatever you want, so don’t worry.”
Her sweet words and gaze were enough to relieve Shin Woo’s mood.
He doesn’t know if everything she said was real or fake, but the feeling of being tangled up in a mess has slowly diminished, and his self-esteem which had fallen to the floor, gradually recovered.
“Let’s go in.”