Chapter 24: The Leader Suggests to the Queen of Spontaneity his Perfect Date and the Free Spirit Plays Detective
How long had Rhett been waiting for the perfect date? He had conjured a list of locations for a date along with a set of activities. After carefully going through each place and even timing the events, he finally concocted a schedule that he had memorized precisely. The night before, he had even rehearsed aloud what they would do. This would happen, and then that, and then this, and then a bit of that . . .
Who would have thought that the first task had already been wrong? This was all thanks to Kannei. “Are you kidding me?” Kannei barked at him in the car. She had a look of fear mixed with anxiety, the complete opposite of what he had anticipated. Now, what had Rhett said to cause such a reaction?
Rhett repeated, “We’re going on a hike.”
“No way!” She tugged at the sides of her outfit to prove her point. “Do you see what I’m wearing? A dress, a maxi dress!”
“W-well,” he argued, “you could . . . still hike in that.”
Kannei rolled her eyes and puffed her left cheek. “I’m not doing it.”
“But, we tried your date.”
“And that was indoors,” she shot back. “I, Kannei, hate . . . no, let me rephrase that. I, Jamie Kannei Lee, bloody hate extreme outdoor activities, especially when I’m unprepared for them.”
“W-well, it’s not that . . . extreme, and I seemed to have f-f—“
“Forgotten?” she butted in. “Forgotten to inform me of the dress code?”
He uneasily bit his lips. He had thought of everything, yet he had missed that point, that one detail that already ruined his plans. Glimpsing out the window to clear his mind, he realized that he could improvise. They were close to an ideal location for her garment: the beach. He could just test his luck, and her tolerance level. If both were compatible, then his modified dream date, could work. This would be called, Ideal Date Version 1.1, instead of his original scripted Ideal Date 1.0. Now, that would be still be perfect.
“You know we could go to the beach,” he suggested. “I mean, your clothing works and you even have . . . ugh . . . sandals on.”
“Gladiators, you mean,” she corrected before posing a series of questions. “But, I’m still unprepared. Where’s my sun screen? Where’s my large hat? Where are my beach towels?”
He scratched his chin while attempting to answer all of her questions, “I have sun screen in my car. Hat . . . you can borrow the cap I’m wearing. Beach towels . . . do you have to sit?”
“Oh! What do you expect me to do then? Frolic on the sand all day while we play tag . . . no, ‘catch me if you can’?” she bombarded with great ferocity.
Unfortunately, those were precisely what Rhett had in mind for a beach date. He wanted to relive romantic comedies. Wasn’t life supposed to imitate art or was it art supposed to imitate life? If the latter were true, how come he had never seen this scene occur in movies? His date was supposed to work with him, not against him. Then, he pondered about what he had just claimed. Never mind. She wasn’t even rebelling. She was . . . just being herself, Kannei, again. So, he just remained silent, completely mortified that his ideas were being probed and criticized.
Kannei noticed his apple-red cheeks that were flaming to his ears. Feeling culpable of her harshness, she reluctantly agreed, “Okay . . . let’s go . . . to the beach, but I won’t play cat and mouse, and I must have your hat at all times.”
“Sweet!” He showed her his right hand for a high-five. She, however, ignored him and still kept her arms crossed. Seeing her cold reaction, he lugged her arm towards him and pressed his palm to hers. “Now, that’s a high-five,” he stated.
“Just focus on your driving,” she snapped with her eyes still glued to the window.
She despised how she agreed to his idea even when she was opposed to it. Where were her principles? Why wasn’t she listening to her intuition? She just knew that this date wasn’t going to be fine. Nothing was ever fine for her when it was related to the wilderness. She was a city girl, after all.  
Was what one saw always true? Yoochun couldn’t help wondering after he went home that night, after he saw and met her there. There, was nowhere close to home. It was where parents would ban their kids from entering or even reading its sign. The gentlemen’s club, a euphemism for strip club.
Where to begin then, Yoochun thought. He had to piece the bits of clues to solve this puzzle. There had to be a reason for every action and for her, it must have been out of desperation, her desperateness to survive. Then, he sighed; this time not for himself, but for her. Pity.
Yoochun first noticed her walking down the street, ahead of him. He had left the bar earlier to wake up for tomorrow’s meeting. Usually, he parked at the bar’s parking lot, but this time, it was full. Thus, he was forced to park three blocks away, placing him closer to the infamous street of adult entertainment. That street housed most men’s weakness: beautiful women.
Although he had never visited any of those stores, he had heard of his co-workers’ stories. Some enjoyed visiting the hostess’ club or the gentlemen’s club for stress relief. He, on the other hand, still believed in alcohol, specifically wine. It was, therefore, merely a coincidence that he met her.
At first, he recognized her back, yet he did not greet her. He was still a bit unsure, especially since it was unlikely of her to be walking down that street. Trusting his instincts, he still followed her. He needed to confirm, or else he would always wonder. As he trailed behind her, he noticed what she wore. She was dressed in a short, sequined black dress that clung onto her body to highlight her hourglass figure and black high heels. He felt a bit guilty, examining her like that. He was, however, mostly astonished by her style. This was definitely not what she used to wear. From what he remembered, she always wore pants, an over-sized shirt, and sneakers.   
When she disappeared into a store, Yoochun almost walked too quickly and passed by the corner. Thankfully, he noticed the ends of her long hair vanishing into a suspicious place. Looking up to see the large sign towering the store, he gulped.
Already a bad sign.
Pushing the door open, Yoochun was greeted by a male host at the reception table. “Welcome to The Gentlemen’s Muses. Table for one?” the slender, polite man asked.
“Yes.” Yoochun scratched his chin, afraid to look at the man directly.
“Follow me then.” The man swiftly escorted Yoochun to a dimly lit room. In the centre of the room was a round-shaped platform with a metal pole extending from the wall to the ground. Once Yoochun took a seat in the U-shaped couch, the host handed him a menu and asked, “So, which lady would you like to request?”
Opening the menu, he instantly recognized her photo, even with the heavy make-up and the blonde wig. “Her,” he positioned his finger under her pseudonym, Siren.   
“Ah, Siren.” The man bowed before departing. “Excellent choice, sir. She’s very popular, one of our top muses.”
The wait for Yoochun was almost unbearable. His speculation had been confirmed, and now, he had to confront her. Frankly, confrontation wasn’t his form of communication. However, this time, he felt that he had to expose the truth. He deserved to know. He lent her his money without a reason and he deserved one good reason for doing so.
Abruptly, the door ushered in a woman wearing the same sequined dress greeted him with a bow. “Hello, I’m Siren.” When she lifted her head, Yoochun could see the bewilderment in her eyes, yet moments later, she returned to her composed attitude, “What would you like me to do for you, sir?” 
“Just answer my question,” he demanded. “Why are you working here, Junghwa?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but my name is Siren,” she calmly replied. “I also don’t answer personal questions. My job is to solely entertain you.”
“What if I want answers?”
Siren shook her head and apologized, “I’m afraid I can’t give you any.”
He stared at her with pity and frustration. “Why are you being like this? I just want to help.”
“Then, don’t come here anymore and forget about tonight.”
Realizing that she would never tell him the answer, he searched his pockets for his wallet and then emptied his wallet of cash. “Here you go,” he walked to her and handed her the waft of cash. “Here’s your tip, but know that I will get to the bottom of this. This . . . isn’t right.”
“Tell me then, what is right?” she asked after placing the bills in her pocket.
He shook his head in dismay, “Just don’t earn money like this. It’s disrespectful for your family.”
He couldn’t understand why she picked this profession. She could have been a hostess, a waitress, or a sales lady. From what he remembered, Junghwa was one of the top students at her high school, and even in university. She had been studying Biology and even worked in a laboratory specialized in genetics. She didn’t need to be here. It didn’t make sense at all to him, but before he could even think further, she hollered, “You don’t know anything about me or my family! Good-bye sir. Your time is up.”

Reactions: