Chapter 17: The End of the Party: The Hidden Devil Confronts the Femme Fatale and the Mom Suffers
It was close to the end of the party, where more than half of the guests had already left. Changmin had been wrathfully observing Naomi, but it wasn’t his fault that he was angry. Of all the women in the world, Junsu had picked her as his girlfriend. Naomi’s behaviour towards Changmin was already questionable; that sort of communication was unacceptable for someone who had a boyfriend. It was wrong, despicably wrong. For once, Changmin wanted to interfere with someone else’s life, and so, he approached Naomi, who was finally alone at the buffet table.
“What do you want?” Changmin roared from behind.

Naomi whispered, “I don’t think you should be standing so close to me. You forgot that Junsu’s here?” She clasped the tongs to select two pieces of sashimi, and even asked, “Want one?”
Changmin pulled his plate away from her, scoffing, “Just answer my question. What do you want?”
“What are you talking about Mr. Shim?” She shuffled along, examining the next set of dishes.
Changmin loathed the alluring tone in her voice. He even felt a vein pop on his forehead as he ordered, “What do you want from Junsu?”
“He’s my boyfriend.”
She pivoted in Changmin’s direction and revealed a smug grin, which exacerbated his rage. As she was about to step forward, Changmin gripped onto her shoulder and roared, “Then, why are you hitting on me?”
Her face squinted in pain, yet she still detachedly addressed, “You’re thinking too much, Shim sensei. Chill, okay?”
Her shoulder rolled backwards, shrugging his hand off. She then moved again to the right to look at her options for food. Changmin, who was already at the brink of impatience, accepted, “Okay, I’ll ‘chill’ on your terms. You just have to tell me why you picked Junsu.”
She set her plate down at the edge of the table and reported, “I like Junsu’s innocence. He won’t hurt me.”
 “You better not do anything to Junsu.”
 “So, you value Junsu that much?”
 “He’s one of my friends.”
“Then, let me be your girlfriend.”
 “Is this what you wanted?” He felt his resentment surging again as he glared at her.
Unexpectedly, she threatened, “If you won’t agree, I will be sure to break his heart.”
Changmin knew that her calm demeanor could only have been derived from artifice and careful calculation. He had been too rash, too blatantly ignorant. He was already several steps behind in this web of love. Moreover, he had no idea what Naomi was planning to do. Acceptance, he thought, was the first step to winning. Obedience was most likely not expected from him; the most unexpected behaviour was the best counterattack. All he had to do was to calmly wait for his chance to rebel.
Sporting a conniving grin, Changmin remarked, “Sure, two can play this game.” He suavely moved a few steps to be inches away from her and leaned his head close to her lips. He stayed motionless until her eyes closed in anticipation. Tauntingly licking his lower lip, he whispered in her ear, “This . . . is what a good boyfriend would do, right?”
Naomi pushed him away and scurried to Junsu’s direction. Upon seeing Changmin, Junsu waved. Changmin with one hand in his pocket lethargically returned the gesture and then sighed. He shared a deep revulsion for complication. Women and their drama, he scoffed to himself.
Rhett, who saw Changmin’s expression, walked towards Changmin and gave him a pat, “Changmin, what’s up with the face?”
Changmin gave a condescending look. “My face is fine. Ha, maybe it is my face that bitches dig so much that is causing so much shit.”
“I thought we all agreed not to call women like that,” Rhett scolded.
“Well, hyung, you’ve clearly never met a bitch.”
Jaejoong had to have been the busiest man this night. He was visiting each circle of guests, greeting them one by one and making small talk here and there. He was so busy that he hadn’t even noticed Ami’s arrival until he saw a staggering woman chaining her arms around another man’s neck. She was clearly laughing, flirting all that she could with that male model.
“Ami,” Jaejoong called out while approaching her. “Ami, cut it out. You’re not even drunk.”
“He’s just jealous!” She giggled further. “You’re just jealous that I’m not with you.” Jaejoong heaved a sigh and then apologized to his guest before dragging her to the side. “Ow! What are you doing?”
“I’m making sure you don’t make a fool out of yourself,” Jaejoong scolded.
“You mean, I’m not embarrassing you . . . like always,” she scowled.
“Why are you acting out again?”
“What do you mean I’m acting out? I thought we agreed that we wouldn’t—“
Jaejoong stuffed his hands in his pockets, unable to believe what he was sensing. He was sensing her anger, yet there was no reason for her to be angry. “It’s just because I asked about a girl . . . so you’re trying to make me jealous. You know that I don’t really care.”
“I know . . . too well . . . that you’ll never care.” There was that withering sound in her throat, almost gagging her. “This is just how I deal with you not caring.”
“Don’t be immature, okay?” He patted the top of her head and turned to leave.
She had, however, clung onto him from behind. “You can say that I’m childish or foolish, but . . . do you even know why I said we were free to date anyone?” He just stayed still and listened to her answer, “Because that’s the only way you’d stay, but . . . people get greedy, don’t they? Staying isn’t enough. I want you to lo—“
“Enough, Ami.”
 Jaejoong placed his hands over hers to free himself.
“I think you’re too tired. I’ll send you home soon.”
He didn’t need to turn around to know that she was crying. He had known her for so long that he could predict her every reaction, and she too should have known what he would say.
“I’m tired, Jaejoong,” she murmured. “I’m tired of waiting for you to love me . . . when you can’t even love yourself or your—“
“Shut your mouth!” he roared.
“You have to deal with them some time, Jaejoong.” She took a breath and sniveled. “You can’t let them haunt you forever.”
“Don’t act like you know everything about me,” he threatened, “when you know nothing.”
She gulped before stating, “I know . . . that you like tea without sugar. I know that you can’t sleep if it’s too quiet, so you always have to play some classical music. I know that you’d do anything for your best friends just to make them happy. I know that you’d never lie, but you’ll always lie about your feelings for your biological parents. I know that . . .”
“I’m sorry,” Jaejoong quietly whispered.
“I know, Jaejoong.”
Again, she placed her arms around him, hoping that his stone heart would relive.
“I know you’re sorry. You’ve been saying that to me all this time, and I forgive, and I forgive because somehow, I think you’ll choose me in the end. I know . . . that will probably happen, but . . . I don’t want to be chosen. I want to be loved.”
Jaejoong knew to what she was alluding. He knew too well about departures.
“You’re leaving me, aren’t you?”
 “No,” she muffled her voice and tightened her tug on his shirt. “I’m not leaving you. I want you to leave me. I want you to stop being so gentle to me. I want you to break my heart completely so I can hate you properly.”
How could he leave her? That thought had never crossed his mind. Could he imagine living without her? Sadly, yes. Could he ever reject her? Probably not. He already had trouble rejecting any favour that his friends had asked him to do. Somehow, yes would flee from his lips. Yes, he would do that. Yes, he listened. Yes, he would date her. Yes, he would stay with her, but now . . .
“What I’m saying is the truth. You mean a lot to me, but some things . . . can’t be forced. As much as I want to say sorry, I-I can’t,” he declared.
I don’t deserve to apologize.
“And I never wanted you to apologize. Can I ask you a question?”
“Go ahead.”
“Will you invite me to your wedding when you have one?”
He laughed and lightly punched her arm. He then added, “I’m not getting married any time soon. I don’t plan on—“
“Jaejoong, I think you will. I think one day, you will find someone you’ll love and . . . when that time comes, don’t let her go, okay? Don’t be stupid and agree to everything she says!”
She returned a punch to his arm and even waved back to him with a gentle smile. Seven years and within seven minutes, everything was over. He wanted to laugh. Instead, he cried. He let a few tears drop to palms while sneering at himself. He certainly had a way of ruining things, like when he met his mother, when he insisted on living with the guys just to obliterate the guilt of living with his adoptive parents, who had treated him too well. He didn’t deserve anything, yet he had everything. Why then . . . was he still unsatisfied?
He could have married Ami, led a nice family life, and then retired. After their retirement, they could have travelled around the world as they had planned. Why didn’t he then? Why couldn’t he do what was right for once? But he had done something right. He had let her go.
I’m sorry, but I never got a chance to say thank you. Thank you for being in my life at one point, Ami. Thank you for not leaving me.

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