Both entered the café almost simultaneously. They chose the most secluded table and sat opposite each other. After ordering a cup of coffee each, and upon its arrival, Yoon Hee initiated the conversation:


Thank you for coming – she began – I, too, wanted to have a calm discussion with you.

Ji An merely looked at her with her once familiar, melancholy gaze, as if pondering where to start.

I know you worked quite a while in Busan, but now you’ve returned to Seoul, right? – she asked, aiming to ease Ji An into what appeared to be a difficult conversation for her.

Yes. President Jang arranged a good job for me with one of his friends, along with a company apartment – she spoke without emotion – I was warmly welcomed there and treated well – she continued, with Yoon Hee listening intently – In March, I was transferred to the Seoul headquarters.

Ah, so I gather you must have made quite the impression, since they need you here – Yoon Hee complimented her sincerely.

Ahjumma – Ji An changed her tone – I don’t want ahjussi to be alone for long, so let’s get to the point – she looked at Yoon Hee now with a probing gaze.

Alright. I’m listening – Yoon Hee felt a bit flustered but quickly regained her composure.

Our relationship is very strange – Ji An started – and I won’t say it’s comfortable for me. You are the official wife of the man who is the most important and closest person in the world to me. You have a son together and many years of life shared – she spoke more quickly, as if eager to unburden herself – You betrayed him, but Ahjussi still remains with you in a formal relationship and – she paused for a moment, looking closely at her interlocutor – and… I don’t know if he will stay with you forever. Why then – she paused again – why then did you not only allow me to visit him but also help me to be with him as long as possible? – she finally voiced the crucial question.

The directness and honesty of this girl had from the beginning both shocked and fascinated Yoon Hee. And this time too, she was pushed into a corner by it, where she could only give honest answers, without sugar-coating.

You see, Ji An, though we’ve managed to keep the secret of my betrayal from my mother-in-law and son, when it comes to our relationship… – she trailed off, visibly moved – our relationship is beyond repair… Though we don’t speak of it, we both know it well. Dong Hoon is, of course, gentle and polite to me, but there’s no longer talk of a deeper affection… – tears appeared in her eyes as Ji An observed – and it’s true that just as you were once jealous of Dong Hoon because of me, I can now say the same about myself… – she stopped and looked at Ji An.

Ji An, as usual, managed to maintain a stoic expression, though the words she heard struck straight to her heart. She responded to Yoon Hee’s gaze calmly and without a hint of triumph, almost with compassion, but said nothing.

So, I’ll be as honest as you and say that… – she paused momentarily – that I am certain Dong Hoon holds deep affection for you… – she couldn’t hold back a tear that trailed down her cheek – He hasn’t forgotten about you during this time and I know he has missed you deeply. I know because I have lived by his side for many years – now she had to pull out a handkerchief to wipe away her tears – I lived beside him for so long, yet I never understood him as well as you do, nor appreciated him as much as you – she bravely continued her promised honesty – I don’t know why I couldn’t accept him for who he is, with all his family and friends from Hoogye – she said these last words with a hint of anger – After what I did, it’s too late to mend things, but you taught me that one should care for the happiness of loved ones even at one’s own expense. – she wiped her tears again – So, when Jeong Hui told me you were in Seoul, I decided, if you still have feelings for Dong Hoon, to do what I can to give you both a chance… That’s the whole explanation of my behavior towards you – she concluded, sipping the last drops of her coffee.

Ji An was moved by her confession. For two reasons. It was the first time she saw her so open and honest, and secondly, what she said and how she said it disarmed her heart. She confirmed Ji An’s own observations from meeting Dong Hoon and explained that what connects them now is merely formality, and she does not count on regaining her husband’s affection. This last piece of information was very important to Ji An, as she had been harboring doubts about whether it was right to re-enter such a deep relationship with ahjussi without his knowledge of it.

I’m sorry to ask this – Ji An took up the baton of honesty – but what do you both plan to do about the formal aspect of your marriage?

Well, I promised Dong Hoon a long time ago that I would remain formally with him as long as he wants. I think he’s waiting for our son, Ji Seok, to mature enough to understand everything and for it not to negatively impact his psyche. Since our son is already at such an age where this seems quite possible, I suppose that decision will soon be made – Yoon Hee concluded in a subdued voice.

Ji An did not comment, remaining outwardly cool though internally everything was tumultuous.

If you have no further questions, let’s go to Dong Hoon – Yoon Hee stood up. I’ll just check with you to make sure no one has looked in on him during this time, and you can take over the night shift with him – she smiled very sadly.

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