Joo Hee couldn’t remember how the luxurious meal at Paradise Hotel Sky Lounge ended.
As she struggled to avoid Shin Woo’s stinging gaze that pierced her throughout the meal and the wandering ghost, she couldn’t remember any of the luxurious steak course dishes.
Thinking of only the contract in her head, she had emptied the appetizer before she knew it.
Since both of them had no idea how a date worked, they just headed home straight after dinner.
“Are you going home right away?”
It was only when Lee family books came in sight that Shin Woo broke the silence and asked.
“I think I should stop by the store first.”
Joo Hee replied when she saw that the lights in the store were still lit, even after the closing time.
The car stopped silently, and before the bodyguard got off and opened the door, Shin Woo got off first to lend a hand to her.
When Joo Hee got out of the car with an awkward thank-you, the book store’s door opened, and the Manager rushed towards the car as if he was running a marathon.
“What? Is there any problem?”
Manager Do quickly snatched her hand, which had been on Shin Woo’s hand until then, which she actually forgot because of Manager Do’s urgent voice.
Watching the manager’s rowdy actions, Shin Woo’s thick eyebrows wriggled in frustration.
“Work. I was worried that Master would come too late. Hurry up and go in, Master. You must have been very tired since you had to go on a date after having a busy day dealing with people.”
Manager Do said this and fiercely shot a glance at Eungsan, who quietly stood behind them.
It was the same as the first meeting at Hyeonwawon and it was still the same now.
Director Do was anxious that he would not be able to eat whenever he encountered a person named Jeon Eungsan.
“There must be a story,” Joo Hee thought to herself when she noticed the weird tension between Manager Do and Eungsan.
But since she had her own share of trouble, Joo Hee refrained herself from asking about the goblin’s story.
“It’s okay. Manager Do, you must be tired, so go home first.”
Joo Hee said, shaking off manager Do’s hand that was trying to drag her in before she could properly bid goodbye.
Then she politely turned to greet Shin Woo, whose expression appeared too hard for her to read because of the darkness.
“Thanks for dinner, please go home safely.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a cup of tea. Will it be okay?”
“Tea at this hour? What are you doing holding onto tired people?”
Joo Hee slightly frowned when Manager Do responded bluntly even before she could say something.
She didn’t know why Manager Do was acting like this. Earlier, he was forcing her to go on a date and now that she had gone on a date, he was spitting out thorns at the end of every word.
“Tired? I’m sorry. I was thinking about discussing the next date while drinking tea. Then I’ll contact you next time. But I’m not sure when will be the next time…”
“I’m not tired, not at all. Please come in.”
Joo Hee immediately replied with sparkling eyes as soon as she heard Shin Woo mention their next date. She quickly grabbed his arm in case he would change his mind.
There were only two dates left now.
The sooner the promise is fulfilled, the sooner her life enters a stable zone.
“Do you have anything else other than coffee? Perhaps, tea?”
Shin Woo’s gaze, who pretended not to care, was drawn to Joo Hee’s hand. Then, the gaze of Manager Do, who was fluttering in displeasure, met his for a moment, and sparks flew out in the air for no reason.
“I like to drink green tea. Will it be okay?”
Recalling his blunt words about the coffee she gave him yesterday, Joo Hee looked at his side and asked anxiously.
“As long as it’s not the coffee yesterday, I’m okay with anything.”
They often serve coffee to customers, but no one had ever reacted like Shin Woo.
Joo Hee wondered whether she made some mistake in the amount of coffee powder since she was so anxious yesterday.
“No, it can’t be.” She tilted her head and pushed open the door into the store.
Seok, who was sleeping all day, gently raised his head for a while at the sound of the door, checked around and slept again.
Joo Hee instinctively lowered the sound of her footsteps and quietly moved inside.
“I don’t think it’s common for people to keep lizards as pets. What made you raise a lizard?”
“There’s no reason. I just met Seokwan by chance. Please sit down for a moment. I’ll get some tea.”
Hearing Joo Hee’s vague excuse, Shin Woo shrugged and stared at her back as she went to the kitchen.
To be honest, he didn’t care about her answer. But looking at her tired self, he couldn’t help but pay attention.
He would not have insisted on drinking tea if Manager Do hadn’t provoked him in the first place.
He thought he was unintentionally bothering her, but when he entered inside the bookstore, he felt that it was a good decision.
Shin Woo moved and sat gently on the sofa where he sat yesterday.
It was just an old sofa at an old bookstore that can be found anywhere, but for some reason, it provided comfort as if it was made for him.
As Shin Woo enjoyed the comfort of the sofa, his eyes headed straight to the kitchen.
A woman who was hidden under a veil of secrets.
She was the only woman in the human world who stimulated his curiosity.
It’s okay if the veil didn’t come off, after all, it is fun to keep his curiosity as long as possible.
However, it didn’t take long for him to be immersed in the sense of comfort or more precisely, drowsiness.
“Oh, it’s okay. Hurry up and go in, Officer Kim! Master hasn’t left work yet either.”
With a voice that poured cold water over Shin Woo, Manager Do pushed someone inside the store.
“But it’s past closing time, so you have to go home… Oh! There are customers.”
A strange guy came in.
Seeing that he was wearing a police uniform, Shin Woo understood that the stranger was a policeman. However, from his appearance, it was evident that with his silly and soft smile, he could never be a police officer.
“That’s true. Please sit down. Master went to make tea, I’ll tell her to bring tea for you, too.”
When Shin Woo saw Manager Do, who greeted the customer 180 degrees differently from him, disappear into the kitchen, his eyes narrowed and deliberately turned in the direction of the police officer.
“Hello! Are you here to buy a book? Since it’s my first time meeting you here, I guess you don’t live in this neighbourhood. Isn’t this place wonderful? Strangely, I feel comfortable whenever I come here. I think this is my special place. Do you know this store has been here for a long time and I’ve been around since I was young.”
He seemed to have a talent for talking alone.
A very special talent for constantly asking and answering questions to strangers who do not respond at all.
Shin Woo stared at him, wondering whether this talkative guy had gone crazy or what.
But suddenly, seeing his face change to that of a puppy looking at his owner, Shin Woo’s brows furrowed slightly.
“Officer Kim, is that you?”
The friendly tone that suddenly flew in deepened the wrinkles in Shin Woo’s forehead for some reason.
“I had a favour to ask of you. It’s good that you are already here.”
Shin Woo thought she was going to make instant green tea from a teabag. However, Joo Hee brought out a tea set, lifted the pot and poured hot tea into the tea bowl as if she was familiar with the entire process.
“Favour? Anything, Joo Hee.”
Shin Woo almost laughed in vain at Officer Kim’s blatantly honest face, which looked as if he was grateful for her request, but he did not laugh out loud.
“We will talk about it later. Have a cup of tea, first.”
Officer Kim’s face gradually became brighter as he heard Joo Hee’s reply while pouring tea water into his teacup. On the contrary, Shin Woo’s face gradually became expressionless.
“I hope it’s better than coffee.” Shin Woo commented to gather Joo Hee’s attention.
She finally looked at him, but her gaze appeared different from the way she looked at Officer Kim.
“The tea made by Joo Hee is definitely different. It’s sweeter and tastier than any tea house.”
Police Officer Kim’s excited words, as if he was a tea ambassador of this place which was not a tea house, somehow irritated Shin Woo.
“You must have drank it often, but it’s not technically correct to say it’s sweet after drinking green tea.”
“That’s not what I meant…. I’m saying it’s really good.….”
Police Officer Kim, who blushed with embarrassment at his words, made an excuse and looked at Joo Hee.
Officer Kim’s embarrassment did not affect him at all, so Shin Woo slowly picked up the teacup.
The transparent light green colour seemed to convey a clear and refreshing energy just by looking at it.
Shin Woo, who took the cup of warm tea towards his mouth, slowly had the first sip of the fragrant tea.
The moment he took in the tender taste and aroma of the tea, he felt an unknown feeling blooming inside him.
It tasted similar to the tea he enjoyed at home, the taste of spring.
“Is it Ujeon tea?”
The moment those words fell from Shin Woo, everyone stared at his face in astonishment.
“Wow, there’s an old man here, too. I thought our master was the only one who can guess it right with the first sip, but it seems like I’m wrong.”
When Manager Do came out of the kitchen hearing those words, he grumbled as if he was dissatisfied.
“It’s definitely better than coffee.”
Shin Woo, who drank another sip of tea while ignoring Manager Do’s words, gave an agreeing nod at Joo Hee.
“That’s a relief.”
It was good to see a soft smile on her pretty face.
Shin Woo, who was surprised by her smile, almost spat out the tea that suddenly tasted sweet just like her.
He somehow swallowed the tea in hurry, but his expression remained as aloof as his usual arrogant expression.
“It’s too good. I don’t know how to express the taste, but, Joo Hee, it’s really good.”
At the words of Police Officer Kim, who talked with a gentle expression as soft as a boiled pumpkin, Joo Hee showed the same smile as the one she gave to Shin Woo.
Officer Kim’s teacup was filled again and the tea he drank again did not taste the same.
“Is it something different? I don’t recognize the taste of the leaves used to brew the water.”
“It’s Buckwheat tea made by Manager Do.”
“I can’t believe Police Officer Kim gives such generous points for everything that comes out of here.”
“But it’s the truth. Manager Do’s kalguksu is the best.”
“I agree. I’m confident in kalguksu. Officer Kim, you have a good sense of taste.”
Shin Woo, who drank his tea in silence while listening to the exchange-style praise relay between Manager Do and Police Officer Kim, finally placed down his teacup.
“I will take my leave, then.”
Even Joo Hee didn’t know why she looked embarrassed after making such a remark.
“I think next Saturday would be good for our next meeting. 12 o’clock, will that be okay? Or… “
“It’s okay. I’ll make time.”
Before Shin Woo could say anything else, Joo Hee urgently agreed.
“Meeting? You two are working together on something?”
Police Officer Kim asked with a strange look while looking alternately at Shin Woo and Joo Hee, who were facing each other and discussing their schedule.
Well, there was no need to answer, but Shin Woo replied as if he had been waiting for a long time.
“It’s not for work, it’s a date.”
“Date?” Officer Kim opened his eyes wide and shouted in surprise.
“That’s right. We are going on a date.” Shin Woo proudly emphasised and Officer Kim’s gaze gradually turned to Joo Hee standing there embarrassed to death.
“Then, I will take my leave.”
Shin Woo didn’t even give a proper farewell, since he had no plan to meet Officer Kim again in the future.
He slightly nodded and immediately left the store, with Joo Hee who naturally followed to see him off.
“Hey, don’t worry, it’s not the kind of relationship that you are thinking of.”
Through the cracks in the closing door, Manager Kim’s voice was heard from behind, but Shin Woo did not bother to probe more.
Shin Woo took a step toward his car parked on the other side of the main road while breathing cold air, as the sound of Joo Hee’s footsteps followed him.
As they came towards the main road, the wind felt colder, perhaps because the cars were passing by.
When he recalled that she came out without a coat, he immediately stopped and looked at her.
Sure enough, it was cold.
“It’s windy, so go inside.”
He said with a frown, but strangely Joo Hee wasn’t looking at Shin Woo.
Following her gaze, he figured that she was staring blankly at the back of an old SUV that was already moving away from them.
Then, as if she had suddenly regained consciousness, Joo Hee made a surprised expression on her face, passed him, and moved closer to the main road.
Just as she leaned forward to see a car that had become invisible now, a strange noise fell in her ears.
A truck roared with a crazy noise, rushing in her direction.
Surprisingly, gentle energy hit the top of her head and her body instinctively pulled away from the spot.
Shin Woo quickly grabbed the girl who was frozen by the sound and tightly hugged her.
The angry wind sound and the sound of the passing truck quickly disappeared.
The warmth around her body told Joo Hee that nothing had happened, but even then, those arms which hugged her did not loosen.
Hearing her shrill voice and gesture to break away from his grasp, Shin Woo’s frozen mind slowly returned to normal.
He loosened his tight arms and held her thin shoulder up.
His gaze on her was colder than ever.
“Once humans die, it’s over. You can’t come back to life. Even if you get reincarnated, you won’t be the same person.”
Shin Woo was so angry that he didn’t even realise that he had dropped honorifics, and his tone which had always been polite so far had disappeared out of the blue.
If she had taken one more step on the road by mistake, she might have died before his eyes.
It’s enough for him to think that it was just an ordinary human being removed from the earth, but for some reason, it didn’t work like that.
The memories and feelings of this one little human absurdly overlapped with his grandfather who was no longer alive.
It felt like summoning the emotions of the days he spent staring at the darkness of silence, enduring the heartbreaking pain as if an ice dagger was being inserted into his chest.
Fortunately, thanks to Eungsan, Shin Woo no longer had to be swayed by crazy emotions.
Shin Woo forcibly shook off the emotions that had been tangled up in his mind.
Joo Hee, who was left alone on the road, stared at the high-end sedan that slipped silently away from her.
She muttered like a fool.
She knew the truck dangerously passed by without hurting her, but she couldn’t understand why he was so angry.
“If humans die once, it’s over?”’
Shin Woo didn’t scream and get angry, but his gaze, while tightly holding her shoulders, was scary enough to make her heart shrink.
However, when she thought about what he said, some parts overlapped with her usual thoughts.
Just as she began to reflect on his words that left a strange lingering feeling on her heart, “Who is that guy?”
Joo Hee’s heart almost popped out of her mouth at the sudden chill and voice.
“Reaper, I told you to give me a heads up before appearing in front of me.”
Since Joo Hee was so surprised, a nervous sound popped out on its own, even before she could realise if it was the Grim Reaper or not.
However, the Grim Reaper didn’t seem to care about her nerves as he overlooked her words.
“How does a Grim Reaper give a signal before showing up? Anyway, who is that guy? I thought he was just a strange guy when I saw him earlier, but why do I feel a different energy from him than other humans?”
The Grim Reaper asked as he couldn’t take his eyes off the direction where Shin Woo had disappeared.
What do you mean by different energy?
“Why? Do you think he’s a ghost, too? Then you can take him away.”
Joo Hee pathetically looked at the Grim Reaper, who was saying something more bizarre than the lower-class goblin at her home.
Only then did he pay attention to Joo Hee, rather than the road where Shin-woo disappeared.
“If it was a ghost, of course, I would have taken it. It’s strange because he doesn’t have ghost energy. Since I haven’t seen a Heavenly God, I can’t guarantee that, either. But no matter how much I think about it, it seems like the energy of heaven. Oh, of course, humans like you won’t feel it.”
What the h*ll is this rookie Grim Reaper saying? Heavenly energy? What a joke?
“Reaper, how long have you been working in this career?”
Joo Hee wondered if he said it because of his lack of knowledge. Otherwise, how would it make sense to say a heavenly god failed to see a single ghost, let alone a Grim Reaper.
“Why are you looking at me like that? Do you want to say that my eyes are wrong, too?”
“Or what? Do you want to say that you pretended that you didn’t know him when you met him earlier?”
“What do you mean? That’s weird.”
Joo Hee looked at Grim Reaper as if she was hearing something absurd.
“Then what is it?”
Joo Hee no longer responded to the Grim Reaper, who was frowning and tilting his head, proving that he was just a rookie.
Joo Hee ignored him and walked past him while thinking that it would be better to go inside and ask Officer Kim about the man who drove the SUV.
When she thought about it carefully, it was the same man who appeared in the same space as Sojeong, the child ghost.
Those who often overlap with ghosts were more likely to be with bad luck.
Perhaps the man was related to death.
“Go, let’s go together!”