Chapter 46: The Hidden Devil Is Threatened and the Leader and the Queen of Spontaneity Shop
Changmin never expected to be blackmailed over email. He had accidentally clicked on an email of what he believed to be spam, and luckily, it wasn’t. Unfortunately, it was an anonymous, menacing note.
I know what you did that night and I have pictures.
If you don’t want anyone to know about them, come to the roof top today after school.

He had no idea why someone would be so bored to threaten him. Was he really worth that person’s time? Moreover, was he that despicable? He came to the conclusion that he or she was stupid and had too much time on his or her hands. Still, he obeyed the perpetrator’s orders; he wanted to see this pathetic criminal. Opening the doors to the roof top, Changmin saw someone already waiting for him. He noticed that it was a lady who folded her arms together and even crossed her legs as she stood.
“What are you doing here?” he interrogated.
“Who’d you expect?” she laughed unreservedly.
Changmin returned her laughter. “Well, you were always a bitch so I guess bitches do what they got to do, Naomi.”
“Here’s the thing,” she uttered. “I have some scandalous photos of you and a particular student. I think I don’t need to go into details. I’m sure you know what you did. Now, if you want the memory card, you’ll have to continue our relationship.”
“Crazy bitch.”
 “You should be begging on your knees instead of calling me names,” Naomi instructed.
That was not Changmin’s method. It might have some desperate girl’s way, but it certainly wasn’t his. To plead was only to demonstrate one’s distress, but then he had to follow his original plan, which was to use the element of surprise. Subsequently, he fell to his knees, and slowly bent his head downwards. “I . . .I’ll listen to you,” he conceded
“It’s a wonder that you’re so compliant.”
 “I just have one humble request though,” he begged.
 “What is your request?”
He looked upwards to reveal his sincerity, saying, “Tell me why you’re doing this.”
She knelt down to his height and cupped his face with her hands. “Because I love you.”
 Shrugging her off, he argued, “You already have Junsu, who is probably one of the best guys I know out there.”
“But I’ve always loved you.”
Changmin now stood up and distanced himself from her. “Always?” he hollered. “So you’ve known me for a while now? Who the fuck are you?”
She cackled like a spoiled princess. “I’m your lover, who else am I?”
He wanted to correct her. She was his stalker, not his lover. “So, what do you want me to do?” he verified. “Fuck you?”
Pursing her lips, she bewitchingly answered, “No, sweetie. I want you to date me, show your affection towards me, make love to me, and most importantly, to be there for me.”
Changmin quivered as he felt the intensity of her proclamation. The truth was hard to stomach and there was not much time to think and to plan. He thought of himself first. He had to save himself before he could save others. If he were to lose, then how could he help others? This meant that he would have to continue with his original plan, which was to listen to her every command. Actually, this time he would be slightly different. He would take initiative, in a positive way from her point of view. That initiative needed to, in turn, crush her. He knew exactly what to do.
Thus, he suggested, “Let’s have a date this weekend. I’ll tell you where we’ll meet over the phone.”       
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A long time ago, Rhett had promised to take Kannei shopping. He finally remembered after she constantly messaged him online to tell him about her shopping desire. She didn’t even need to use hints or subliminal messages. She just stated her wish several times, “I want to go shopping.” He granted her wish to fulfill his promise and she became elated. He also thought this was the chance to ask her about her feelings for him.
During their shopping excursion, Rhett used the excuse that he had to purchase Junsu’s birthday gift. As they headed to an athletic-wear store, Kannei bumped into a stranger and Rhett just laughed at her silliness.
“Sorry,” Kannei muttered and proceeded to walk away.
“Ah, Kannei!”
The tall, lean woman with her arms wide open chased Kannei from behind for a hug. Rhett noticed that Kannei, although reluctant to hug, still accepted the lady’s embrace. Just by her hair, he could tell that it was Hana. What were the odds?
            “Wow, Hana! What a coincidence,” Kannei uttered. “What are you doing here?”
            “I should be the one asking you that. You’re also with . . .” Hana’s voice broke off after making eye contact with Rhett.
            “You don’t remember? This is—“
            “I know who he is,” Hana interrupted rather hastily. “I’m just surprised to see him with you. Is he your . . .”
Rhett almost shuddered at her question. He did not know whether or not to affirm or to deny her assumption, so he looked towards Kannei for reassurance. Kannei knew he was being indecisive. Moreover, she had noted his sudden change in behaviour, his quietness and his discomfiture. This led her to conclude that he was attracted to this woman.
Although Kannei felt more than a pinch of soreness, she now understood her status to him. She was simply a close friend, who coincidently played the role of his girlfriend. Hence, everything was an act and she reminded herself that she was merely an actress. Their friendship was genuine, yet their love was fraudulent. Sure, they had kissed, but did that mean that he loved her? He was only in love with that moment, whereas she was already in love with him. She was certain of how she felt now, especially after seeing his expression towards Hana. She longed for him to look at her that way.
She was sure that soon, Rhett would truly love her colleague. What was not to love about that woman? What was to love about herself? Friends could have noticeable flaws, while lovers could only possess noticeable qualities. This woman had those qualities for which Rhett yearned. She was quite possibly his ideal woman. Unable to sabotage Rhett’s opportunity in obtaining his ideal lover, Kannei weakly smiled as she shook her head.
“No, we’re not a couple. We’re . . . just f-friends.” She bravely pulled Rhett closer to the woman and formally introduced him, “He’s Jung Yunho. Yunho, remember her? This is Hana. We’re from the same university, but she’s a grade higher than me.”
Rhett hesitantly held his hand out, acting as if they were truly strangers. “Hi, nice to meet you, Hana,” he greeted. “You can call me Rhett.”
Hana shook his hand and welcomed him with a stunning smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you again, Rhett.”
Kannei, aware of the potential awkwardness that could develop, blurted, “I-I’m sorry, Hana, but he and I have to go now. He’s aha . . . supposed to help me find something here.”
“Oh!” Hana remarked. “I’m so sorry if I caused any delays for you two. I’ll see you some time then, Kannei! See you later too . . . Rhett!”
            Rhett . . .
The way Hana had pronounced his name was bizarre, like she was mad at him. He thought they had subconsciously agreed to be strangers, yet he felt that she was displeased. Before he could analyze further though, Kannei teased, “Gosh Yunho, I’ve never seen you act this way! You’ve never been such a shy guy before.”
“Shut up.”
“Come on!” Kannei prodded his ribs and proclaimed, “Admit that you like her or that you at least find her very, very attractive.”
He didn’t want to confess, but neither did he want to lie. There was no sense in lying to Kannei, so he told her what he had thought of Hana the first time he actually saw her.  “Okay, okay,” he admitted. “I confess that she is pretty.”
“So you like her?”
Like her? In what way?
He hadn’t thought so much about that question, but now, he felt that this was the time to ask what Kannei thought of him.
“Kannei . . . I want to ask you something,” Rhett declared.
She chuckled, and said, “I’ll answer you if you answer me.”
“It’s something I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time,” Rhett argued, not wanting to enrage himself.
Luckily, she agreed, “Okay, fine, you can go first.”
Taking a deep breath, he asked, “Kannei . . . would you choose work over love or love over work?”
“What kind of question is that?” She stared at him as if he were a perpetrator being cross-examined on the stand.
“Just answer me,” Rhett demanded.
Replying without any hesitation, she chuckled. “Okay then, work.”
“But, what if that guy suits you and if you don’t choose him, then you’d lose him for sure?”
“Then, he should be able to understand that work comes first.”
“But what if choosing work means choosing another person?”
“Are you talking about the sex trade?”
Kannei had trouble controlling her muffled laughs, and when she started to walk faster than him, he tugged on her wrist. “No! I’m being very serious here.”
“Sure, with a hypothetical question. Anyhow, to answer your question, I think I’d choose whatever I couldn’t afford to lose. If I’ll have fewer regrets with choosing work, then I’d pick that.”
Then, she flung her arm away from him, breaking free. Free . . . was that the answer she was handing him? She was perfectly fine without him in his life? She had said that she would choose work over love, so if he were to follow his uncle’s suggestions, then she would support him. Did that mean that she didn’t feel anything with him? Everything that had happened was nothing to her?
She was walking so far away from him. With her smaller strides, she was too far ahead of him. Don’t go, he wanted to urge. Stay here please. Tell me that you need me to be by your side, and that if I’m not, then you can’t bear to live anymore. Please.
Suddenly, he felt a set of small hand tugging on his shirt.
“Yunho? Yunho? What’s wrong? Are you getting a stomach ache again?” Kannei wondered.
Placing his hand over hers, he mumbled, “Kannei . . . if I chose work, then what would you do?”
She gazed at him, bedazzled by what he was asking. After a long pause, she murmured, “It’s your choice. I can’t make your choices for you.”
She discontinued her words, too inflicted by her feelings of poignancy and forlornness. For once, she had to think and to question her thoughts before spewing them out. If her words were constructed through contemplation, then they would surely be full of prudence. Truth would potentially be lost, yet it was inaccurate to claim that lies would surface. It was a marriage of truth and untruth. What was said would thus be not what she wanted, but would be about what he wanted.
Afraid to show her vulnerability, she took a gulp of air before advocating, “Just tell me what you choose in the end. N-n-no matter what, I’ll always be your friend, supporting you to the end.”
“But . . . what if I don’t know what to do?”
Again, she wiggled her hand away from him, and revealed a weak smile. “You’re Rhett. You always do what’s right,” she stated. “I would too. We’re both like that, remember?”
Kannei yearned to end this, this unrequited love. This was the only way for her to stop loving him. If she saw him happily with someone else, then she could stop her love for him. Opportunities promoted idyllic dreams that could torment her and all those words associated with chances could remind her of her throbbing chest, the pain afflicted by him.
What she would be doing would seem like a sacrifice, but to her, it was a long-term investment. It was like someone buying a house. Sometimes, one could buy his or her home at a higher price, but if one waited, the price of the house would most likely increase. Once someone sold the house, he or she would not have any access to the house again. She would not have access to him anymore.
As for Rhett, he couldn’t have been this distraught. From Kannei’s words though, it was as if she was already hinting him what to do. She could tell what he would have to complete in the end, and what he couldn’t possibly object. If this . . . if this was what was meant to be, then he would do whatever his fate dictated. Inevitable . . . this was the final embrace.
He cradled her in his arms, not caring if she was resisting or cursing at him to let go. He felt his eyes seal together, and slowly, droplets of water flowed down from his lashes to his cheeks, and then to the top of her head. He didn’t dare open his eyes. He didn’t want to face her visage. He could only chant to himself a sort of incantation, the type he would say to himself whenever encountering a convoluted task.
It would be okay. Nothing mattered. There would be a shot of nothing pounding against his heart. Nonchalance. Just one shot, and everything would be fine, yet Kannei had to ask, “Are you all right? You’re . . . crying.”
“Just don’t say anything, and stay there,” he begged in a croaky voice.
She listened, and didn’t even move a muscle. If she acted before he did, then she didn’t know what would happen next. If she did, then she would be shackled to him forever. Rhett, on the other hand, wanted to savour the moment until he had the courage to let go. When he realized that there were no more tears to shed, he pulled away from her. He gave his best smile, the most genuine sort he could concoct, and uttered, “I’m okay. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. This isn’t your problem. It’s just me. I was being stupid, but now, I’m . . . okay.” He held out his hand, palm upwards. “So my lady, where would you like to go next?”
She had the urge to grasp his hand and perhaps even clench it, but she knew that if she did, she would never let go. Thus, she forcefully squeezed his hand and teased, “That’s for being a donkey!”
Then, she ran forward a few steps and turned to smile at him. This smile was her mask, the only way to disguise her travail and her sorrow. A smile stopped her from crying, yet she understood that any moment now, she could crumble to tears. Then, she would be seeking for a shoulder, his shoulder to lean on. Rhett just smiled back, thinking that she was always going to be like this, too charming to hate, but too mischievous to love. What he saw was the truth. What he forgot was what hid behind the truth, their truth.
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