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The RFA café

Chapter Text

A deep sigh marked the end of another day. The drizzling weather had kept customers away for the third day in a row. If it kept up like this, she was going to have to admit defeat and return home to her parents, begging for her childhood room back. A failed venture was embarrassing to say the least.
Ever since ____ was a little girl, she'd dreamed of owning a quaint little café. One that hosted a homely atmosphere, offering the customers a calmer pace of life.

Making her way over to the door, she was about to flip the sign to 'closed' when a rain soaked man barrelled his way in. Maybe she was in shock but she couldn't bring herself to tell him that the café was closed.

Noticing the puddle on the floor she dared to meet the man in the eye and was met by a look of desperation. "Umm... Can I help you?"

"How much for me to put a poster in your window?" He panted.

"Oh..." She looked at the pristine window. In the year that she'd run the café she'd never put anything on the window. A glance down at the man's hand showed that he had dozens of posters in a plastic folder. "I'm sorry but I don't advertise-"

"I said how much?" The man reach into his pocket and retrieved his wallet, pulling out several notes before thrusting them in her direction. "Will this suffice?"

Her eyes widened. There was more money in his hand than she'd made this week. Swallowing the nerves away, she questioned her morals. Taking that money would cover her next bill payment but was it right?

Hesitantly she pulled at the hem of her apron. "What are you wanting to advertise?" Her eyes followed his every movement, noticing the slight tremble of his fingers as he undid the folder and held the poster out for her to see. Immediately she felt her heart break for him as she reached out for the poster. "Your cat's missing? I-I can't charge you for that..." She said. ____ knew the pain of her cat disappearing.

As she rushed around the counter to retrieve some tape, she noted in the corner of her eye that the man had moved to the counter, watching her put the poster in the window before moving back to serve him.

With her best smile ____ asked, "what can I get for you?" The spring in her step returned having a paying customer in the café even if it was after closing time and because of unfortunate circumstances.

"A black coffee. Make it to go." His stern voice replied.

"Coming up!"

Dancing through the motions of brewing her best coffee, she couldn't help but keep stealing glances at the customer. His raven hair was dowsed in rain but he was undeniably cute.

"There you go," she beamed, handing him the styrofoam cup. "That'll be- w-wait!" She called after the man who had dumped more than double the money he'd offered for her to display the poster.

"Keep the change," he said, brushing off her attempt at stopping him as he stepped back out in the rain.

Blinking at the bizarre turn of events she looked down at the money. He'd just brought her one more month to turn the café around before having to grovel to her parents. Whoever he was, he was the kindest person she'd ever met. 

____ couldn't help but wish that the caring man would be reunited with his dear cat.

~

Days passed into week's and ____ had all but given up hope of ever seeing the mysterious man again but still, she couldn't bring herself to take down the poster for the most gorgeous fluffy white cat she'd ever seen. She doubted that the poster alone would reunite them but ____ couldn't give up hope so easily.

It was then that she heard the newly installed bell chime, notifying her that a customer had entered the café. She popped her book on the kitchen counter and walked into the store front. "Good morning! What can I-"

"Good morning. We'll have a black coffee and a latte, please," the woman with cropped hair said in a tone laced with exhaustion.

____ nodded silently, trying to process who was in front of her. The mysterious stranger was back with a woman and they were both in office type clothing. It was clear he'd noticed ____ staring when he folded his arms and tilted his head. There was an intriguing glint in his eye.

He looked far too handsome now that his looks weren't dulled by the rain. 

Rushing to complete their order, ____ couldn't help but overhear their conversation.

"Remind me why we're here."

"Isn't it obvious, Assistant Kang? We're having a meeting."

"Mr Han, why couldn't we have done this at the office? You're meant to be going to lunch with your father. You've already cancelled three times this week."

"Unfortunately cancelling today was unavoidable. My cat projects are in need of attention."

Setting down the coffee and latte, she smiled at them both but that last sentence caught her attention. "Did you find your cat?"

"Elizabeth the 3rd has returned. There's no need for you to keep the poster up." His voice sounded somewhat frustrated, but she tried to not take it personally. By the sounds of it they both had busy jobs. Far from what ____ could say about her own job.

"I'm so glad to hear that!" ____ beamed, relieved by the news. Reunions always made her feel happy. She loves reading articles about them.

Running their order through the till, she went to say the price but several large notes were deposited on the counter before she had the chance to finish. 

"Oh, umm... excuse me, sir? You've given me too much." She bit her lip nervously, looking at the money then at the man.

"Keep it," he responded dismissively. A tone of finality was in his voice. 

Not one to argue, ____ put the money into the till with a sinking feeling of guilt.

She watched as the pair of them took a seat on the sofa's near the back of the café then made her way around the counter and over to the window, preceding to take down the poster. She looked at the photo of the cat. Elizabeth the 3rd, was it? A strange name for a cat, regardless, she was beautiful.

Taking the poster through to the paper recycling basket in her makeshift office, she sighed. If he kept doing this, she was going to be far more in debt to him than she wanted to be. The least she could do was give them both some complimentary desserts.

Heading back to the counter, she carefully picked up two of her best looking cream puffs and put them onto separate plates, alongside serviettes and two individually wrapped wet wipes. Hesitantly she took them over.

"Umm... Excuse me? I've brought you some complimentary desserts," she smiled, placing the tray between them. She noticed the woman's eyes light up, but his remained unmoved by the gesture. Her heart dropped a little. "I hope you enjoy them." She went to turn around, but a voice stopped her.

"Wait. I want your opinion."

"My opinion?" ____ asked, taken aback. "Okay... I'm ready." She looked at him, offering her sweetest smile.

"Good," he began, before focusing his gaze to meet hers. He was a little intimidating. "Assistant Kang doesn't believe wine that cats can drink is a feasible business idea, not that I asked for her input." He narrowed his eyes. "What about you?"

____ swallowed under the pressure. While he was staring with increasing intensity, the woman was giving her a look of desperation to say no. Regardless, you knew where you stood.

She smiled. "That's easy. I think cats deserve to taste the finer things in life. It seems a little unfair keeping the best things reserved for us." ____'s heart skipped a beat when he cracked an ever so slight smile at her before looking coldly back at assistant Kang. 

"There you have it. Put wine that cats can drink on the agenda."

____ was unsure what the consequences would be because of her opinion, but not wanting to overstay her welcome or witness the disappointment of Assistant Kang, she bowed her head and dashed back over to the counter. 

To her surprise, another man in office type clothing came in, with a woman pulling a look of disgust as she looked around the café.

"Well, this is... Interesting. Your son has a keen eye for taking an interest in things that no one else does."

"Come now, Glam. We're only here to speak to him."

Glancing over at the two customers in the corner then back at the couple who had just walked in, it was obvious who the son was that they were looking for. Though there was no way she was old enough to be his mother. 

"Welcome," ____ greeted, trying to keep the unexplainable defensiveness out of her voice. "What can I-" her voice trailed off at sight of the man holding his hand up.

"That won't be necessary. We're not staying."

It couldn't be denied that she was glad to hear that. The last thing she wanted was a family confrontation to take place.

____ kept her distance, busying herself by cleaning the already clean countertops and the coffee machine. Though, now and then she stole a glance at her mysterious stranger. She hastily scurried into the modest kitchen when her eyes met his. 

After a few minutes the bell above the door chimed, causing her to dart back to the counter but much to her delight, it was the 'parents' leaving.

Looking towards the pair of them sitting in the corner, her eyes met his once more. While his posture hadn't changed, his eyes told a different story. In that moment ____ wished that she could take the pain away.

Chapter Text

It had been a few days since Mr Mysterious - as she now liked to call him - had visited the café. Sometimes he'd visit alone and order a black coffee to go or he would visit with assistant Kang for a business meeting. Either way, he'd turned the fate of her quaint little café around in the past few weeks. 
Every lunchtime a crowd of businessmen and women would filter in. It wasn't the demographic she'd expected to frequent her café, but she was thankful beyond words. While it was only a hunch, she had a feeling he was responsible for this turn of events.

With another hectic day over, ____ closed the shop and undertook the laborious task of cleaning all the equipment and tidying the seating area. 

With one final look around the café to confirm that everything was to her standard, ____ closed the door between the café and the kitchen. An act of sealing herself away from the outside world and headed through her makeshift office to the stairs.

Her living space was the upper floor of the café. It was small, but it met her needs and she loved its charm. The biggest bonus was that her travel time to work was nonexistent - a complete turnaround from the two hour commute she had to do for her previous office job.

After an evening of relaxing, ____ made her way into her bedroom and flopped onto the bed. She was exhausted, but it was no surprise. Today she had almost triple the amount of customers than she used to have. Her café even had predictable busy times now; in the morning between 7am - 8am there was a rush of people wanting coffee to go, between 12pm - 2pm lunch with a high demand of sandwiches/desserts and finally from 4pm to 5:30pm people would filter in for tea and coffee.

It had to be because of him; it had to be.

She'd tried to find out his name several times but each time he would divert the conversation or playfully lecture her to earn a huff off her. ____ was sure he was doing it on purpose now. She could tell he cared far more than his stoic persona let on.

As her eyelids grew ever heavier, ____ set a goal. She would find out his name.

~

The next morning she switched her mobile on to check the time and went into panic mode. Her alarm hadn't gone off, and the café was due to open in little under thirty minutes. ____ rushed through her morning routine and dashed down into the kitchen to bake, before setting about taking a morning delivery of ingredients.

Thankfully, no customers arrived for the first half hour but that changed when Mr Mysterious waltzed in, ordering his usual black coffee.

"It's been a few days," ____ said, hoping to get a conversation going.

"It has... I've been away on a business trip," he replied. His gaze fixated on ____. 

"Oh? What kind of business trip?" She asked, wanting to know more about him. 

"To my vineyard. I'm overseeing the wine that cats can drink. Though the process is proving troublesome." He ran his hand through his hair before looking back at you.

She wished he knew how cute he looked doing that or how much of an effect it had on her. 

Reluctantly, ____ set his coffee down on the counter and went to ask for the correct money but as usual, he handed her far more than necessary. With her eyebrows furrowed she looked at him, questioning. "Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?" He asked.

____ looked at him, studying his face for any sign of the truth but when she realised that she wouldn't find her answer, she sighed. "I mean... Why do you throw so much money at my café? It's just, you've got no reason to..."

He cocked an eyebrow, offering her a grin. "No reason to... What an interesting notion." 

"I'm afraid I don't understand?"  ____ responded. He was playing with her again and it left her at his mercy. 

He took a sip of his coffee without breaking eye contact. "How about you call it supporting the local economy?" With that he took his leave.

Once again, ____ was left staring after him. She couldn't fathom why he supported her so much. He felt more like a patron than a customer nowadays.

~

The lunch rush had been and gone, with her home baked bread selling out faster each day. At this rate she would have to hire an assistant because keeping up with demand was becoming ever difficult.

When the bell chimed, ____ was relieved to see it was only two men, though their behaviour was that of adolescents.

"You go first!"

"No. You're the one who 'wanted to swoop in like a knight in shining armour and save her from the evil overlord's clutches'. I'm just here to drive one of my babes," the redheaded one grinned as he pushed the blonde one ahead of him.

"Yeah, but it's different now... We're not in LOLOL. You can't expect me to rescue the princess alone..."

____ blinked in bewilderment as the two young men squabbled. They were rather entertaining. Though as it continued, it became apparent that they wouldn't settle, so she cleared her throat. "Hello...? Can I help either of you?" She asked, feeling nervous as their attention focused on her.

"Wow..." The blonde one gasped. "Jumin's so lucky..."

She felt her cheeks grow warm. "Um... Thank you, I think?" She pulled at the frayed pocket of her apron, then she realized what he said. She looked at him once more. "I think you've got the wrong person. I don't know anyone called Jumin."

She watched as they shared a look before pulling out their mobiles and frantically started to tap their screens. It was some of the oddest behaviour she'd witnessed at the café yet.

"I can't believe he lied to us!"

"I bet he's just trying to keep me away from Elly and keep you off LOLOL."

That rung a bell. "Elly? By any chance, do you mean Elizabeth the 3rd?" 

They both stopped typing and focused on her.

"You know Elly?" The redhead asked, sounding almost jealous.

"Wait. Does this mean Jumin really has a girlfriend?!"

____ felt her heart lurch even though it had no reason to. The two men recognised Elizabeth the 3rd's name which made the logical solution to who Jumin was would be: Mr Mysterious. She bit her lip as she tried to listen in on their discussion but she could only decipher a few words amongst the muttering. 

"Erm... Did you say he has a girlfriend?" She asked, trying to keep her voice level but her heart hammered as she awaited an answer. Their surprised responses caught her off guard, but she put it down to how unusual it was for someone like her to ask questions about customers personal lives.

"You mean your- Ow!" He recoiled as the other one slapped a hand over his mouth.

"I've got it," the older looking one said as he stepped up to the counter with a grin. "You want to know about Jumin's girlfriend?"

They spoke for ages, telling ____ about him and his girlfriend. Apparently, his name was Jumin. Jumin Han or something similar? And they were his friends Yoosung and Luciel.

When Luciel started to tell her about Jumin's girlfriend, she nodded and smiled but his the pain that was building in her chest. Whoever this girl was, Jumin sounded very dedicated to. She was thankful they had no pictures.

The emotions that revealed themselves to her was the biggest surprise. She'd probably only seen him about ten times across the few weeks that they'd known eachother, but each time had felt more meaningful than the last. He'd begun opening up more, playfully teasing her, and she was sure she'd witnessed a few discrete smiles.

He had brought a smile to her face too and during slower times, she'd found her eyes looking out the window, wondering if he would appear that day.

Things would be different now though, now that she knew he was off limits. Forbidden even.

For the remainder of their visit she focused on distracting herself, choosing to learn more about them instead. From what she could gather, Yoosung was a student who gamed too much and Luciel built robots? She wasn't sure if he meant in a game like Yoosung or in real life, but it sounded cool. Something she had no clue about

Before leaving they asked to mark the occasion with a selfie. ____ obliged, but she caved under the weight of their disappointed faces. Luciel said he was going to send the photo to Jumin, but she didn't see why. It was a pretty average selfie - if a little blurry.

If nothing else, ____ learnt that Jumin had some unusual and unexpected friends...

After clearing up the crumbs and rubbish that Yoosung and Luciel had left behind, after volunteering as taste testers for some new desserts, ____ set about reading her latest romance novel. Ever the hopeless romantic.

With less than five minutes until 6pm, the bell chimed. Looking up, she saw a slightly out of breath Mr Mysterious. "Hello Jumin," she said, without thinking as she placed her book with the cover up on the counter. She couldn't help but feel embarrassed when he paid attention to its cover.

He shook his head. "So they really were here." He looked at ____, as if examining her as he strolled closer. "Did they say anything?"

She couldn't help but notice his voice questioning. Timid was the wrong word, but he didn't sound as sure of himself as he normally did. "Quite a few things, actually... We spoke about robots, LOLOL and about putting a ping-pong table in the corner over there," she responded, whilst pointing toward where it would stand. 

She tried to act civilised but she couldn't help feeling disappointed that he was unavailable. All she could do now was be his friend, but she needed tonight to collect her thoughts.

He folded his arms. "That's not what I meant." 

____ tilted her head, forcing a smile to try to seem as normal as possible. "You wanted to know what they told me about you?"

"Something to that effect," Jumin answered.

"Well..." She started as her fingers traced the cover of her current novel, with her eyes downcast. "They told me you love cats?"

"... Did they say anything else?"

She looked at him, studying him. It was as if he was expecting her to call him out on something. "Do you mean your girlfriend...?" 

His eyes went wide for the briefest of time. "My girlfriend?" he responded, almost as if confused before he showed recognition. 

How bad of a person was he if he forgot that he had a girl?

Jumin looked away briefly with a furrowed brow before looking in her direction once more. "Do you believe any of it?" 

With a laugh, ____ stared at him, waiting for the joke. "...of course. Why wouldn't I?" She took a deep breath but smiled at him. "I'm happy for you, Jumin." 

He scratched his cheek before rebuilding his stoic appearance. He looked like he had on one of their first encounters, nothing more than a businessman, showing none of the warmth that she knew he possessed. "I saw no reason paying attention to the matter. I make a point of not wasting my energy on unimportant tasks."

God, he was awful if he thought of his girlfriend as a matter to be discussed. Suddenly she felt lucky to find out now that he was a jerk before she had fallen for him completely.

As soon as he left, she locked up and put her music on loud enough to drown out her crying. She didn't cry often but when she did, she liked to cry unrestrained.

That night she did something even more cliché of a brokenhearted girl, she searched his name online, only to regret it instantly. Jumin Han wasn't just a businessman, he was the heir to C&R, a company that she knew was larger than she could even imagine. But there was something even worse than that.

Just announced, Jumin Han was set to marry a lady called Sarah who was the CEO of Sugar Round. 

A perfect match.

A small independent café owner with average looks could never compete with a corporate beauty in real life...

Chapter Text

Three days had passed since his last visit to the café but Jumin wanted to give ____ as much time to recover as possible. She had kept her demeanor neutral during their last encounter but he could tell something had been on her mind. He was unsure if he was a cause but just in case, he decided to give her space.
He'd forbidden Luciel and Yoosung from visiting without him as an additional measure. While he had no evidence, there was a part of him that suspected they'd played a part in ____'s unusually low mood. However, he was also glad that he'd finally learnt ____'s name because of Luciel and Yoosung's visit. He'd been curious of her name for awhile but the opportunity never arrived to enquire.

It wasn't like him to pay this much attention to another person but there was something enduring about ____. She was different to the women he usually interacted with.

The women his father dated were awful. Before meeting them, he could guarantee they were only in a relationship with him for fame and money. They were women who were nothing better than leeches, but his father remained oblivious. Unfortunately, Glam was no different.

Then the women at work were another matter. If they were all robotic like Jaehee then it would be fine but they were nothing like her. He admired her dedication to her work but many of the female employees at C&R lacked that quality. It's an issue that he paid no attention to but as a man he had noticed female employees treating him differently, no doubt after his affection and ultimately, his money.

____ was different though. He'd noticed on his first visit and it was why he'd felt inclined to pay her more than her menu price. It had become something he'd started to do automatically to ensure the café could remain a place where he could relax away from the demands of his daily duties. Her company was also very welcoming. 

He'd never met someone who had declined his money or brought attention to him paying too much before. 

She was special.

Jumin frowned as he looked out of the penthouse window. Sarah was proving troublesome and if he didn't act soon, his newly awakened feelings for ____ would be impossible to act upon.

He respected his father but this time he'd gone too far.

~

____ blinked. "I'm not sure what you mean?"

"Are you denying that you know Mr Han?" The interviewer pressed once more before revealing a photo to her. "You were seen talking to him on the night of his engagement announcement. Are you still going to deny your involvement in trying to come between his and Sarah's relationship?"

"I-I..." She swallowed. The last thing she'd expected was the press to show up at her café, accusing her of behaviour she would never do. Shaking her head, she looked at the interviewer once more. "It's nothing like that. Mr Han is a customer and I was conversing with him just like I would any other customer."

"Oh?" The interviewer responded as he slipped the photograph away. "Then can you confirm that Mr Han has paid you large sums of money for your services?"

"My services...?" ____ repeated, confused at the reports tone of voice. 

"Take it how you want."

"Okay... Well Mr Han been generous towards me," she answered.

"So he has paid you more than your asking price?"

She didn't like how this was turning out. "I'm not comfortable answering that question." She couldn't help but question in her mind why he was pushing her for an answer. If nothing else, she knew nothing good would come of this. "I want you to leave..." She said, trying to sound confident. The interviewer went to ask her another question but she shook her head. "Please leave."

Once he was out the door, she rushed over and locked up, mentally exhausted. She knew pushy reports like this existed but she never considered that she would ever interact with one.

She had no idea how that reporter would portray her but she could venture a good guess.

She wrapped her favourite blanket around her and tried to focus on her book. 

~

[Jaehee] Mr Han you're here.

[Jaehee] I've been trying to find you but you're not in your office.

[Jumin] Ah, Assistant Kang. 

[Jumim] Something came up. 

[Jumin] Please cancel my schedule for the next week.

[Jaehee] Now's not the time for that.

[Jaehee] Please look online at the news.

[Jumin] Why would I waste my time doing that?

[ZEN] What a jerk

[ZEN] If she's telling you to read something then it's important!

[Jumin] It can wait until tomorrow.

[Jumin] I'm busy packing.

[707 entered the chatroom]

[Jaehee] Mr Han, please reconsider.

[Jaehee] It's about ____.

[ZEN] ____?!

[707] afjljhk

[707] arjotjv

[707] ljkgda

[Jumin left the chatroom]

[707] This isn't good...

[Jaehee] I know.

[Jaehee] I just hope Mr Han takes it seriously.

[ZEN] What's he caused now?

[707] 'Deluded girl trying to break up the happy couple...'

[707] ...

[707] Jaehee...

[Jumin entered the chatroom]

[Jumin] Assistant Kang come to the penthouse now.

[Jumin left the chatroom]

[Jaehee] Already on my way.

[Jaehee] He already left...

[Jaehee] Goodbye.

[Jaehee left the chatroom]

[ZEN] That jerk didn't even let her reply!

[707] ...

[707 left the chatroom]

[ZEN left the chatroom]

Chapter Text

Jumin stood outside the café. He knew ____ opened the door at 6:30am everyday but it had already gone 8am and there were no signs to announce a closure, nor were there any signs that she was inside.
He knew it. The headlines had taken a toll on her. It hadn't stopped with just one either. All the major newspapers had reported on her 'desperate attempts' to break him and Sarah up.

He instinctively knew that Glam and Sarah had something to do with this situation, but he needed to wait for assistant Kang and Seven to find some definitive evidence. If he went public without solid proof, it'd look as though he was trying to avoid the marriage and thus damage C&R's reputation.

Despite knowing this, it didn't help with ____. She hadn't been born into this life, so to be ruthlessly attacked must be difficult to handle.

Accepting that ____ wasn't here, Jumin left. He had to go to work and reluctantly leave the investigation to assistant Kang and Luciel.

~

____ sat on the platform, listening to the various announcements. Trains departed just as frequently as trains arrived, a few even passed straight through. All she wanted was to escape the city but her train kept getting delayed.

"The next train to arrive on platform 4 is the 8:43 to-"

She put her earphones into her ears and set her music to select tracks randomly to drown out the outside world. At this point, anything could play and it would be a welcome distraction from her life.

She couldn't believe the things that those foul human beings had written about her. The majority of articles had twisted the truth but there were a few that had published complete lies. 

She was doing her best to remain rational but the anxiety that she got from time to time was running wild. After reading several interviews with Sarah pitying her for her need to have some attention, she couldn't help but feel hurt. Attention had never been something that she'd wanted. In fact, blending into the crowd was when she felt most comfortable.

The only thing giving her hope was that another story would soon become bigger than Jumin Han's marriage to Sarah and it couldn't arrive soon enough.

~

[Jaehee has entered the chat room]

[707] ...

[707] Is Jumin with you?

[Jaehee] I haven't seen him since before lunch.

[Jaehee] He was meant to meet with the Chairman 

[Jaehee] But when Glam turned up, he messaged me to say he was leaving.

[707] Well...

[707] He won't answer his phone

[Jaehee] Mr Han has been ignoring my calls too.

[707] ...

[707] .......

[707] I gotta talk to him.

[Jaehee] Is it something I can help with?

[707] No

[707] Yes

[707] Maybe...

[707] I found some evidence

[Jaehee] In addition to what I uncovered regarding Sugar Round?

[707] Yeah...

[707] But I don't wanna post here.

[707] Fewer people who know the better.

[Jaehee] Then I will go to Mr Han's house.

[Jaehee] I'll have him contact you.

[707]  Alright

[707] I gotta get back to work

[707] I can hear Ms Vanderwood outside

[707] Bye!

[707 has left the chat room]

[Jaehee] Sometimes I wonder if Ms Vanderwood is really your maid.

[Jaehee has left the chat room]

~

____ kept her head down as she felt her parents eyes focus on her. Her mum had brought into the rumours but her dad looked sympathetic.

"If you want me to leave I'll go," she offered, regretting the decision to return home. She'd expected warm open arms and nonjudgmental eyes but that was far from the reception that she received.

"That won't be necessary," her mother responded. "While I'm not keen on you being here given the unwanted attention that you're currently the centre of, I would rather you here than somewhere else. However," her voice turned stern, "if reporters start turning up here because of your presence, then you will be gone before you can say 'café'."

____ looked at her dad to see him wearing an apologetic smile. 

It hadn't always been like this at home. 

She'd grown up helping her dad in his bakery, learning the skills to take over the family bakery one day. Day in, day out, she would get up and help before school to ensure that the loaf's were on the shelves and the cakes were on display. She loved it.

If she wasn't there, then she was next door. Her mum had been the local florist. While ____ had tried her best to learn the trade, the skills didn't come naturally to her. She wanted to create beautiful wedding bouquets but she could hardly create something worthy of selling.

It was decided early on that she would take over the bakery when she grew up but the floristry would be sold.

Everything changed in a blink of an eye.

One night, someone crashed into the bakery taking out an outer wall. The driver sustained some injuries but managed to escape before the bakery went up in flames. After that, the building had been deemed unsafe.

____ sat on her bed. She felt like a young teenager again. Honestly she wasn't sure what was worse; staying at the café or returning here. Either way, her life felt ruined. 

The café had been a dream come true. She knew no one in the city baked bread as good as she could and it was all because of the ______ family recipes that had been passed down to her.

If only she'd never met him. If only Elizabeth the 3rd hadn't disappeared that day.

She rested her head on the pillow, trying to convince herself that meeting Jumin was one of the worst things to happen to her, but her heart told a different story.

Jumin Han was her mysterious stranger.

She had to return to the café in hopes that he would visit her again. She knew she could never be with him, but for now, being his friend sounded pretty good.

~

Bzzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzzz.

____ opened her eyes. It was the dead of night but she couldn't ignore her vibrating phone any longer.

Reaching over she picked it up and tried to focus on the screen. There were 27 unread messages from something that she didn't recognise. Curiosity took over, so she tapped it, accepting that she'd installed an app and forgot about it.

The messages were being posted so fast that she could barely keep up but oddly, there were names she recognised: Jaehee, Yoosung and Jumin Han. Her heart stopped. This had to be a cruel joke, or at least she thought so until they started welcoming her.

[____] Hello?

[Yoosung] She's here!!

[ZEN] Finally I get to talk to ____.

[ZEN] I've heard a lot about you.

[Jumin] Yes. It's good to hear from you ____.

[Jumin] I noticed that your café was closed today, so I asked Luciel to invite you to join our group.

[____] You came to my café today?

[____] Even after what the news is saying about me?

[Yoosung] We know it's all lies!

[Jaehee] It's not the first time we've dealt with the newspapers.

[Jaehee] Although we do try to avoid scandals.

[Jumin] I'm confident that I know you well enough to judge your character.

[707] Not to spoil the party but Jumin I've got more info

[707] Hey ____

[____] Hi but who are you?

[707 has left the chat room]

[Jumin] Forgive me ____.

[Jumin] I'll be back shortly.

[Jumin has left the chat room]

[Yoosung] I gottta go 2

[Yoosung] B3in called in raiid 

[ZEN] Watch your typos

[Jaehee] Please take more time to read your messages.

[Yoosung] kk

[Yoosung has left the chat room]

[Jaehee] To answer your question

[Jaehee] 707 is Luciel

[Jaehee] The only other people who are part of this chat are ZEN and V.

[____] So this messenger is sort of exclusive?

[Jaehee] Yes.

[Jaehee] More will be explained to you later.

[Jaehee] When our leader V arrives.

[ZEN] *sends selfie*

[ZEN] That's me after my workout earlier

[Jaehee] Another perfect selfie.

[Jaehee] I was watching your DVD after work

[____] DVD?

[ZEN] I'm a musical actor

[Jaehee] ____ do you like musicals?

[____] I do!

[____] I go to the theatre with my dad.

[Jaehee] Then I'm sure you'll be able to appreciate ZEN's musicals

[707 has entered the chat room]

[707] I want to see Elly T.T

[Jumin has entered the chat room]

[____] I want to meet her too!

[____] Jumin how is Elizabeth the 3rd? 

[Jumin] She's curled up beside me.

[Jumin] If you wanted to meet Elizabeth the 3rd you should have said sooner ____.

[Jumin] I can send driver Kim to pick you up and bring you here.

[707] I want to come too

[____] I couldn't possibly do that.

[____] I would feel awkward intruding on you and your fiancée...

[707] .....

[707] ..........

[707]  Dun dun DUN!!

[Jumin] I have no fiancée.

[____] Umm...

[____] What about Sarah?

[ZEN] Sorry to interrupt

[ZEN] Heading off to meet with the director. Wish me luck!

[Jaehee] Good luck!

[ZEN] Thanks.

[____] Goodbye!

[ZEN has left the chat room]

[Jaehee] I'll be off too.

[Jaehee] Bye

[____] Bye Jaehee

[Jaehee has left the chat room]

[____] Think I'll go as well.

[707] Wait!

[707] I'll leave.

[707] Bye!

[707 has left the chat room] 

[____] That was a little weird.

[Jumin] I agree but I assure you that you'll grow accustomed to Luciel, eventually.

[Jumin] I'm aware that you want to leave but first I must ask you something.

[____] Yes?

[Jumin] I need you to tell me if you're safe.

[Jumin] If you're in any doubt about your safety following those news articles then I can send you some security personnel.

[Jumin] They will not invade your privacy but they would be close by.

[____] I can't accept an offer like that!

[____] Save your money. I'm sure I'll be fine.

[____] I'm at my parent house for a day or two anyway.

[Jumin] If you can't accept my offer of security then I wish to invite you to come to me.

[Jumin] I can look after you and make sure no more reporters cause you any further trouble.

[____] Jumin...

[Jumin] You'll need to elaborate for me to understand.

[Jumin] Driver Kim can pick you up.

[____] Let me think. This is all very sudden.

[____] Given that you said Sarah is no longer your fiancée, I don't want to make things worse for you.

[Jumin] That's impossible.

[Jumin] Sarah was never my fiancée.

[____] So it was fake news?!

[Jumin] Yes.

[Jumin] ____, will you consider letting me look after you now?

[____] If I decline, will you keep asking?

[Jumin] Yes.

[____ has left the chat room]

She went back to the home screen, certain that there had been call and text features. To her delight, Jumin was listed as a caller contact. She pressed dial. If the voice she heard was his then she knew her answer.

It didn't even ring twice before he picked up.

"____?"

Beaming ear to ear, she knew where she wanted to be.

Chapter Text

____ followed driver Kim who bid her farewell once a member of Mr Han's security personnel met them by the elevator's.
"Good evening, Miss ______. Please, follow me," a man in a black suit greeted her.

"Evening," she responded, somewhat intimidated by how much the security guard towered over her.

The lobby was grand, like nothing she'd seen before. Not only was there a seating area, the building was staffed. 

She could tell eyes were watching her, but no one approached. Perhaps Jumin didn't get visitors often? Or maybe they were wondering why a girl wearing casual clothes would have reason to visit an 'engaged' man this late into the evening. Either way, it made her nervous.

Jumin's guard escorted her in silence the rest of the way. They rode the elevator up to the penthouse which she noted needed a special key to press the button to bring the elevator to life.

Stepping out led her to into a room with floor to ceiling windows and only Jumin's front door, which stationed a security guard either side. That meant not only did Jumin live in the penthouse, the entire floor was his.

Just how rich could one man be?

The guard that had escorted her until now exchanged a word with the other two and she was cleared for entering the apartment.

"Thank you," she said, with a nervous bow of her head.

She hesitated, but with a deep breath, she dared to step through the door that had been open for her. Noticing a unit full with shoes, she slipped hers off and padded barefoot further into the penthouse.

"Jumin? Umm... I'm here," she announced before dropping her voice to a whisper, "... If you're still awake..." 

A familiar cat came running towards her. Without thought ____ dropped to her knees and stroked her. "Hello Elizabeth," she smiled. "I've been wanting to meet you." Elizabeth meowed as she climbed up onto her lap. "Awww... You're so cute!"

"Good evening," Jumin said, making her jump. He stood with his head tilted to the side yet again, oblivious to how much that affected her. If she wasn't mistaken, he looked amused.

"Meow!"

"Hi Jumin," she smiled up at him as she wrapped her arms around Elizabeth, pulling her into a hug. "She's so friendly."

He let out a low chuckle. "To you, perhaps. She's very selective."

____ raised her eyebrows and looked down at Elizabeth. "Are you a little picky Elizabeth? Has your daddy spoiled you?" She cooed.

"Mrrowow."

She giggled. "Awww, I love her already!"

"That makes me happy to hear. It seems you'll fit in well," Jumin responded, as he leant against the wall with his arms folded. 

____ felt her heartbeat pick up at how Jumin seemed to keep staring at her. It wasn't in a scary way, but it was a little intense.

"Come now, Elizabeth. You're not the only one who wishes to greet ___." 

Knowing her master's voice, Elizabeth jumped down, out of ___'s arms, and purred as she circled around Jumin's feet. 

A glance down at her own clothes confirmed that Jaehee wasn't exaggerating about how much fur Elizabeth left behind.

With her eyes fixed on Elizabeth, ____ missed that Jumin had offered her his hand until he cleared his voice.

"I-I'm so sorry," she rushed to say as she took his surprisingly warm hand with her own and stood up. "Thank you."

There was a moment of silence when their eyes connected, but Jumin was the first to let her hand go and turn to move. 

She already missed his touch.

"Can I get you a drink?" Jumin asked, as he led her through the apartment with Elizabeth following close behind.

"Oh. Um, yes. Yes, please," she responded, forgetting to check what type of drink he was offering.

They walked into the most wonderful kitchen she'd ever been in. Her excitement took over as she looked around. She knew that she must have looked a little silly at wearing such a beaming smile but she couldn't help it. With some music on, she would adore being allowed to bake here.

~

Jumin went to ask which wine ____ would like to drink again, but he turned to check on her first and lost the words from his train of thought. She looked beautiful, majestic even. 

He'd never witnessed such a genuine display of happiness before. 

Instead of causing her smile to fade, Jumin poured his favourite wine into two glasses. As he took a sip from his glass, his eyes never stopped observing her. ____ was the first woman he had ever invited into his personal space and most certainly the only woman who had ever been so captivating without even trying.

He thanked God for blessing him and not listening to his naïve opinion that he didn't need a woman in his life.

Her smile ended all too soon, but he was reward by a blush when she realised a glass of wine had been set before her without her knowledge.

"I'm so sorry!" 

He shook his head. "There's no need to apologise, ____. It's important to me that you like it here." He took another sip of his wine, watching her every movement. It was easy to tell that she was a novice with wine, but it only added to her innocent charm.

"I do like it here," she smiled at him and his eyes followed to where she pointed. "Would I be allowed to use that?" 

His surprise was given away by his eyebrow raising. "____, let me make this clear. While you are here under my protection, I want you to feel comfortable. Please treat everything as if it was yours. Your new home if you like." 

She gasped, and he was certain that he could write an entire report detailing how that tiny sound made him feel.

They finished their glasses of wine far too soon, but he was aware of the pressing need to head to work in the morning. Despite his desire to stay with ____ longer before he retired for the evening, he led her out of the kitchen. 

He leant against the doorframe as she took a few steps into the room that had been prepared for her. "I hope everything is to your liking?" He asked, uncertain from her expression of whether this was adequate. 

Being this nervous about somebody's opinion was a new sensation. "If you would prefer, you can have my room?"

"Your room?" ____ asked, as she turned around with a shocked expression. "But where will you sleep?" 

A good question. "I don't think I can sleep. There are some things I need to think about."

"Oh..."

Jumin couldn't help but notice the disappointment in her voice. "It's nothing for you to worry about." He tried to sound certain of himself but she shook her head and moved closer. Closer than he'd ever usually allow someone.

"But I do worry about you," she uttered, looking at him with worried eyes, they only strengthened his resolve that he wanted ____ to not be involved. She was too sweet to include in his problems.

"There's no need. Come with me. If you stay in my room, I'll be able to relax knowing you're safe," he said and led her to his room. 

With ____ in his room, he bid her a goodnight only to hear footsteps pad towards him in haste. He turned around and looked at her. "____, is something wrong?" 

She hesitated with a bite of her lip. "Umm... I have nothing to wear..." 

He felt the heat rise to his cheeks at such an oversight. It was obvious that she would need a change of clothes, but given his relief at her decision to come here, he hadn't considered her needs.

"Let me see what I have," he said, as he strode over to one of his many closets. He willed his mind to remain pure, but the thought of her wearing his clothes was rather appealing. He selected a dress shirt that should be long enough to protect her modesty. 

As he held out the shirt their hands lightly brushed, but it wasn't enough. He had to remind himself that a gentleman would vacate the room at this point, so reluctantly, he left.

Finally alone, he could reflect on the evening. 

____ was cute, and he'd been unable to stop staring at her. His etiquette as a host had been abysmal, but things felt different seeing ____ in his own home, then at her café. She had a timid personality, and it seemed even more noticeable once she was out of her comfort zone. He had feelings of wanting to protect her, to keep her in the penthouse where he could ensure her safety, but most of all, to keep her close to him.

Despite all the problems surrounding Glam and Sarah, ____ had a way of helping him feel relaxed. The arranged marriage that his too trusting father wanted him to enter into was now the only thing stopping him from declaring his feelings towards ____. 

With assistant Kang and Luciel's research, he had the evidence needed to expose the sisters scheme and once they are dealt with, he would have ____ besides him. 

He could only hope she shared the feelings he'd awakened too.

~

____ tried to settle, but the new environment was making it difficult, not considering the thoughts of Jumin's kindness running through her mind. 

She felt tiny as the cuffs of his sleeves went far beyond her wrist but she liked it. Wrapping her arms around her waist she tried to commit the feeling of wearing Jumin's clothes to memory.

With her legs crossed on top of his quilt, she loaded up the new app to see if Jumin was online, but he wasn't. There was one other thing that came to mind as she backed out of the chat room and into her texts.

[____]
I can't sleep. Are you sure I can't help you?

It took a few minutes but rather than receive a response, she heard a gentle tap on the door.

"Come in," she called, trying to keep the smile off her face. She failed.

As the door opened, she saw Jumin walk in, carrying a book and wearing a gentle smile. He set the book aside and met her eyes, holding her gaze. Her heart pounded away, threatening to give her away.

She shifted her body, wanting to be closer, but she maintained an acceptable distance to not seem too obvious. "Thank you."

As he pulled up a chair from his desk, he offered her a smile. "I've yet to do anything."

She shook her head. "Your presence is enough." Her nerves set in as she noticed his eyes focus on her fingers peeping out of his shirts sleeve's. 

"I'll have someone deliver more suitable clothing for you tomorrow," Jumin said, before reaching across for the book.

____ waved her hands in protest. "No, no, no. You don't need to do that for me. Honestly... I'm happy wearing your shirt..." Her voice trailed off. She hadn't meant to admit that.

"Is that so?" He asked, his voice showed signs of curiosity.

____ nodded, as she bit her lip, avoiding his gaze. Looking at him now would only heighten her embarrassment at the confession.

She missed what he did next, but he soon pulled the quilt back and beckoned for her to slip under the covers. She did as he wanted, trying her best to maintain her modesty. Once comfortable, she looked up at him.

"I thought you'd like me to read to you," he said, as he opened the book to where his bookmark sat and leant close. It was the closest their faces had been to one another.

"Okay," she smiled. Her head rested on the pillow as she closed her eyes to better focus on his soothing voice.

As Jumin began to read aloud, she could feel her body relaxing, but it didn't help her settle to sleep. In fact, Jumin's voice was having the opposite effect because all she wanted to do was listen to his voice. She couldn't get enough of him. 

Days of having thought that she could never be with him had been replaced by thoughts of hope. Hope that Jumin felt the same way she did.

~

After several pages it was clear that ____ wasn't falling asleep, especially since she kept peeking at him. She was undeniably cute. 

When a few strands of her beautiful hair fell onto her face, he reached out and gently tucked them behind her ear, savouring the soft smile she wore at his contact. Every fibre of his body wanted to curl up behind her and wrap his arms around her, to protect her, but even he knew that would be too forward. 

Needing a reason to stay by her side, he searched his mind for the things he wanted to know about her. "____... May I ask you something?"

She peeked at him over the quilt once more. "Only if I can ask you something too," she responded with a cheeky tone.

"Sounds fair," he responded with a smile of his own. "Well then, I'll begin. I was wondering what your reasoning was behind opening your café?" He watched as her expression changed to one he recognised as sentimental.

"It was always a dream of mine..." She began with a fond smile. "My dad was our village's bakery and my mum was the florist. I wanted to combine the two, continuing my family's legacy." Her expression darkened. "But when the bakery caught fire, spreading to the floristry, I realised that if I wanted to achieve my dream, I had to do it somewhere else. 

"Originally, I came to the city to go to university, but it didn't take long for me to realise that I wanted to stay. I loved the city's atmosphere and how it lit up at night... I knew once my studies ended, I had to open my café here."

He watched as her eyes met his.

"And now, I know it was the best decision I've made."

Jumin took a moment to commit to memory how beautiful her eyes were. He hadn't expected such a story. "I'm glad you made that decision too."

She smiled and sat up, resting against the headboard. "Come sit next to me," she said as she patted the bed besides her.

He didn't need to be invited twice, but still, he put effort into not seeming too eager. Once next her, on his usual side of the bed, he looked across at her. "I believe you wished to ask me a question?"

She hummed and turned to face him. "I did," she laughed. It seemed like a cover up for her forgetting. "I wanted to know how you became a Director of C&R when you're so young. I mean, there can't be much of an age gap between us..."

"I'm 27," he answered to satisfy her curiosity and based on the cute look of surprise on her face, ____ hadn't expected that. Thanks to Luciel's research, he already knew there were only _ years between them. "I suggest you don't look at my accomplishments as your failures. Like you, all I'm doing is following in my father's footsteps."

"Your father works in the business sector too?" She asked, her tone full of interest.

"He does," Jumin answered, keeping the current frustration he felt towards him from verbalising. "He's C&R's Chairman." 

Usually when someone learned of his family's wealth their approach towards him changed, in that they tried to worm their way into his life. However, ____'s response was one he'd never seen before, she'd bit her lip with a downcast look. 

"____, what's caused you to look so troubled?" 

She sighed and briefly meeting his eyes before looking down at her hands. "I realised how inadequate I am next to you... I'm just a girl who's café struggles to pay the monthly overheads without your over generous tips and..." Her shoulders dropped. "... I guess I wanted to be someone who could offer you something in return for your kindness but that doesn't seem possible now..."

He took a deep breath as he considered his answer. "____, you already give me far more than you know." His response was concise, but it carried more weight than she knew, and although he hadn't acknowledged the struggles she'd just admitted, it had proven to be very valuable information.

The conversation gradually reduced, ending when ____'s head rested on his shoulder. He stayed still, relishing the feeling of ____ sleeping against him.

Tonight had given him a lot to think about, but it had also confirmed something.

His heart belonged to her.

Chapter Text

The next morning ____ awoke to an empty bed. Though she was under the quilt again which meant Jumin must have tucked her in before slipping away. It felt like a dream.

Sitting up, a beautiful off the shoulder floral print dress caught her eye. Even at a glimpse she could tell it was probably more expensive than the entirety of her own wardrobe combined and that alone made her question if she was meant to wear it. Though closer inspection revealed a note: I hope you like it, Jumin x

Her heart fluttered. Jumin had brought her a gift, not to mention put a kiss at the end of his message. 

She slid out of Jumin's dress shirt and rushed to quickly freshen up in his en-suite. It was easily the most exhilarating shower she'd ever taken. Once dried, she put on the dress and caught sight of herself in the mirror. Before now she'd never really thought much about her looks but the dress did wonders to her confidence.

Full of nervous excitement, she stepped out of Jumin's room with the desire to see him, but to her disappointment, he was nowhere to be found. A small note in the kitchen revealed that he would be home as soon as he'd finished work and that she shouldn't leave. He was overprotective it seemed, but in a caring way. Regardless, this was the last day that she could afford to keep the café closed.

It didn't take long to find Elizabeth the 3rd. She'd made herself comfortable on what ____ suspected was Elizabeth's very own white chaise longue. She felt sympathy for the cleaner who was responsible for cleaning up after Jumin's gorgeous cat.

Taking a seat near her, Elizabeth padded her way over. ____'s hand moved to stroke her. 

"Meow."

____ smiled, inviting Elizabeth onto her lap. "I guess we both miss Jumin..."

~

Assistant Kang's reappearance was a welcome distraction after the meeting he'd attended with his father, who was still determined to marry him off for a business acquisition of a failed company. Only the thought of returning home to ____ made the day bearable.

"Mr Han, I've just received the call to confirm that your offer has been accepted," Jaehee informed him. 

Setting his pen aside, Jumin stood up and moved to look out the window in the direction of his penthouse. "That was quick."

"That it was," Jaehee agreed. "But I doubt that it's every day a landlord receives a request to purchase their property for five times it's asking price."

Jumin offered a thoughtful hum. The offer had been a decision made in haste, but it was worth it. "Tell my lawyer to draft up the necessary documents, assistant Kang. I want to sign as soon as possible." 

"I've already made the necessary arrangements. The deeds will arrive by tomorrow morning," she responded, matter-of-factly.

"Reliable as always," Jumin responded. 

He looked at her briefly before looking back out at the scenery. He was lucky to have such a capable assistant, but there was no doubt in his mind that she was tired and surviving on takeout or a glass of milk. Turning away from the window, he perched on the edge of his desk. "Thank you, assistant Kang." The way her jaw fell was priceless, but he could do one better. "You deserve a holiday."

Jaehee looked at him, in shock. Clearly, she hadn't expected him to show her appreciation for the first time, or allow her to take a holiday. It was a good feeling.

Shortly after she left the office, still visibly dumbstruck and returned to work. Another hour and he should be able to return home to ____.

~

"Welcome home!" ____ beamed at him as he walked into the lounge of his penthouse. The feeling of being greeted by her was even better than he'd imagined.

"You look happy. I trust you found a way to entertain your self while I was gone?" He asked, as his eyes examined her in her new dress. She looked divine. 

As she twirled her long hair around her finger, Jumin caught her nervous glance towards the kitchen. "Did something happen, ____?"

She bit her lip. "Kind of... Can you promise that you won't be mad?"

He folded his arms and tilted his head. She was the last person he thought he'd be able to get mad at, but he'd never been one to issue such a promise lightly. Regardless, he was already experiencing many firsts with her, so what was one more? "I promise..."

"Okay, well, I might have got a little carried away in your kitchen... I know you mentioned once that you only follow a diet that your nutritionist creates, so you don't have to eat anything... But, well... I kind of had several hours alone in the nicest kitchen I've ever been in..." she nervously laughed. "... I'm sorry."

"You got carried away cooking?" He asked with a smirk. How could he be mad at her for treating the penthouse like her own home? Especially when he hoped she could see it that way.

"More like baking..." She answered, sheepishly.

He shook his head, wondering if she knew how cute she was. Walking closer to her he stopped before her. ____'s eyes never left his, despite the red on her cheeks glowing the closer he got. "Consider my chef cancelled this evening." The way surprise took over her expression was adorable. "____, that's your invitation to lead the way. I want to taste everything that you've made."

~

____'s heart pounded at Jumin's proximity, not to mention the way he said that. Maybe he didn't realise, but that sounded almost flirty? 

With a slight tremble as her heart steadied, she lead the way to the kitchen. He might have offered her a smirk at the idea of her getting carried away baking, but somehow, she expected that he didn't understand the magnitude of the situation. 

As they entered the kitchen, plates of scones, cream puffs, apple turnovers and current buns, not to mention the loafs of bread that she'd made to balance out the unhealthy treats. Lastly, Elizabeth was on the floor nibbling healthy baked cat safe treats that ____ had been wanting to try out for some time.

She looked up at him, with her lip between her teeth. He didn't seem mad, but the look on his face was definitely shock. 

"I'm sorry..." She whispered. "I promise I'll replace everything I used-"

"What should I try first?" He asked with his head tilted. His eyes were focused on her rather than the enormity of food.

"Oh, erm, I suggest these," she said, picking up a tray of apple turnovers. They were a speciality that had always been a customer favourite, following the recipe that had been devised by her grandfather.

She held the tray out to Jumin, but he didn't take the offer up. Glancing at the turnovers, there didn't seem anything visually wrong with them. 

In a moment of bravery, she set the tray down and looked up at Jumin. "Would you like me to feed you?"

His smirk returned. "There's an idea."

Her heart fluttered as she moved to select a turnover, holding it in one hand, while her other hand acted as a crumb catcher. As she brought the turnover to his mouth, with her other hand just under his chin. Their eyes locked before she focused on his lips.

He bit into the dessert and briefly his eyes lit up. That was all that she needed. Once again, someone had fallen in love with the ______ family recipe.

"Tasty?" She beamed.

He nodded before wiping the corners of his mouth. "Do you sell these at your café?"

"Sometimes," ____ responded, as she set the turnover down and moved to the sink to wash her hands, but she looked back over her shoulder. "I have to vary the menu at the café each day." 

His eyebrows pulled together. "Why?"

"Because the kitchen is so small. I don't have the facilities to bake everything that I want to every day," she answered as she walked back over to his side. "The majority of my income comes from people buying tea or coffee, also the lunchtime rush for sandwiches. Other than that, there's a few elderly people that visit in the mornings who order my desserts, but there's not many..."

She watched as Jumin stared into the distance, clearly thinking.

It made her nervous.

When his eyes focused on her again, he looked different than she'd ever seen him before. "Come with me." 

She followed behind him, almost at a jog to keep up with his strides as he lead the way to his study. Inside, he sat at his desk, with a seat pulled up for her besides him. 

He went through things that she'd never looked at before such as business plans, forecasts and marketing. It was harsh, but he highlighted the truth; she had the passion and skills, but not the business know how. 

The reason her dream café was failing, was due to her naïve approach of working to survive a month at a time, rather than focusing on long-term security.

All in all, she wasn't built for the business world.

With her head hung, Jumin had thankfully stopped writing notes on the sheets spread across the desk. A gentle hand on her back made her jolt to look back up at him. Jumin looked concerned, but wore his welcoming smile. Without another thought she rested her head on his shoulder and felt his hand skim across her back to pull her closer. She didn't dare look at him, but she felt safe.

"____, I imagine that this is a lot to take in, but try not to fret too much. You have everything you need to succeed. All you need to develop is your business skills and your café will cover itself," Jumin said, in a comforting voice. "Of course, I think there is another option available to you."

"There is?" She asked, lost for what hope could exist.

"Yes. Let me become your silent business partner."

"P-partner?" She stammered, before realising that wasn't what he had said. With warming cheeks, she buried her head further against his chest. "What's a silent partner...?" 

Jumin laughed and even though it was at her, it was sweetest sound she'd ever heard. His hand also started to move in a soothing moment against her back.

"If you wanted to become partner's..." he almost certainly teased her, "... Then as the silent one, I wouldn't have any influence on the day to day running of the café, my involvement would be solely financial. Accepting my offer would mean that you could expand in the future. In several years, the ______ family's recipe's wouldn't only be tasted at one café, they could reach the nation."

"You would do that for me?" She asked, as she lifted her head to look at his face, that was far closer than she'd remembered.

He looked at her in return. "Yes."

"But why?" She whispered, trying to ignore that she could feel his warm breath on her skin. "There's no reason for you to and you won't benefit from the café in any way. I... Don't understand." She watched as his features softened.

"Why do you assume that there's no benefit to me?" He asked, as his eyes darted to her lips before focusing on her eyes.

She went to answer, but hesitated. It was true that she'd assumed he wouldn't gain anything, but even giving it some thought she still drew a blank. ____ bit her lip. "I can't see what you could gain..."

He tilted his head, with a smile, as he held her closer. "____, I would get to see you succeed and that is enough of a reward for me."

The little gasp that escaped her lips was adorable. He just wished that she would stop drawing attention to her lips, especially when she was this close. There was a part of him that wanted to lean forward and feel those beautiful pink lips on his, but the last thing he wanted to do was push himself on to the most precious woman he knew. 

Being the respectful gentleman that he prided himself as, he put some distance between them, though sinfully his fingers trailed across her back as he reluctantly withdrew his arm. 

Somehow he would have to act on his feelings soon and make her his, but for now his focus would be on getting to know her whilst he dealt with the situation that his father had pushed him into.

Despite this, he couldn't help himself thinking, what if ____ became his wife?

Chapter Text

____ stood looking out of the penthouse window down at the city. From up here, the lit up city looked beautiful against the black sky. She'd never seen it like this before, but it was as if she was falling in love with the city all over again.

Knowing that she had to return to the café tomorrow left her with an unexpected emptiness. Jumin had made an impression on her and she would miss seeing the side of him that he had unveiled to her in the past day. He was far sweeter in the privacy of his own home.

She had learned how caring Jumin was, far more than he let on. Though he acted publicly that he didn't have emotions, it was clearly not the case. His concern for her safety reflected  his true character and he had the most charming smiled. 

Her heartbeat picked up just thinking about him. It didn't help that she could hear him walking towards her.

She spun around, unable to hide her smile that his presence caused. ____ knew he had left her alone to go and shower, but she hadn't expected him to return in a loose-fitting bed trousers and a t-shirt with his hair still damp. He looked hot. Her eyes kept wandering over his body, trying to commit the sight to memory. "Hello..." Her fingers found themselves twirling some of her loose hair.

"Good evening, ____," he responded, as he walked in her direction.

She watched his movements. Everything about him was enticing. His personality was slowly unraveling, and he looked even more handsome the more she got to know him. 

"Do you feel better now?" She asked, mesmerized by the way he was looking at her.

"Yes, thank you," he answered as he continued to close the distance between them. "How about you? I hope you weren't lonely?"

Her smile grew wider at his concern as she tucked her hair behind her ear and let her hand relax to her side. "Well..." She drew out as she gathered the courage to finish her sentence, "... I missed you."

"____, I..." He halted on the spot. She couldn't miss the way his eyes briefly widened.

____ felt her cheeks heat under his gaze. She'd messed up. Looking at the floor, she whispered, "I'm sorry... That was too forward." She looked up at him, witnessing a look she hadn't seen before. There was something reaching his eyes, a warmth that no-one had ever looked at her with.

"____, never apologise to me for being honest. I want you to feel comfortable," he said as he moved to close the distance between them. His hand took hers into his own. "The truth is that I can't imagine life-"

Knock. Knock.

The change in Jumin's body was evident instantly as he excused himself and headed to his front door, but before he could reach it, the guest strutted in.

____'s heart fell as a woman came into view; Sarah, Jumin's supposed fiancée.

She didn't know what to do as the pair of them launched into a passive aggression conversation, seemingly not realising that she was also in the room.  She regretted having followed after him. 

Seeing an opportunity, ____ attempted to slip out of the room and into Jumin's bedroom, but it had been the wrong decision.

"What is she doing here?!"

Jumin sighed. "You've no say in who I have in my home."

"No say?" Sarah questioned, with a hand on her hip. "I'm your fiancée. However, I will forgive you this time."

"Who's whose fiance?" Jumin asked, staring at her with a cold glare.

"Jumin, there's no need to be shy. I know everything," Sarah smiled at him before looking at ____ in disgust. "I'm sure she's just a hook up. Soon we'll be married and you'll have no need for someone like her."

"Leave," Jumin ordered, the resentment in his voice unmistakable.

"I'm here because your father suggested we spend more time together before our wedding," Sarah responded, unmoving.

____ wasn't sure what to do. Should she still disappear? This was clearly a conversation not meant for her to be a part of, but as she began to tiptoe away, her answer arrived when Jumin beckoned her to his side.

She stared at him, looking at Sarah before back at him. Getting closer to their dispute wasn't too appealing, but she did so for him. 

"Yes?" She whispered, when she stood beside him, but before Jumin could give her an answer, he pressed his lips to hers. 

"Wh-what, what are you...!!" 

____ gasped. "Ju-Jumin!?" She heard Sarah's voice laced with disgust, but it didn't stop Jumin from initiating another gentle kiss.

"Shh..." Jumin soothed, as he tenderly stroked her cheek between kisses. "You're blushing."

The realisation of the heat in her cheeks made her attempt to hide her face behind her hands in embarrassment, but he kissed her again before she had the chance. As his arms wrapped around her, she rested her arms on his chest.

"You'd better close your eyes," Jumin whispered. "Focus on your senses."

She obeyed despite the unusual situation. His technique had already grown more confident as she followed his lead.

It wasn't how she imagined her first kiss with him would be, but her heart fluttered nonetheless. The way his arms held her left her weak. It was just a shame that this was for show.

When he finally pulled away, letting go of ____, she felt cold where his warmth had left her. The only consolation was that the kiss should help him terminate the one-sided engagement.

"So, she really is a part of your life. I'm going to tell Ms. Choi about this!"

"Tell her what you like," Jumin answered calmly as he straighten his suit. "There's nothing Ms Choi can do about ____ and I." 

____ felt her heart stutter as Jumin's eyes locked with hers. The palm of his hand moulded to her cheek. She closed her eyes to focus better on his touch.

"You're cute, ____" Jumin said. 

She could tell he was smiling by the tone of his voice. 

"How...! I've never been so insulted!" Sarah scoffed. She lingered, probably waiting for a response from Jumin, but she soon stormed out, leaving them alone.

With a sigh of relief, Jumin lowered his hand and pulled ____ against him. "I'm sorry for involving you in that situation..." He rested his head against hers. "To be honest... I wanted to kiss you the first moment that I saw you cuddling Elizabeth."

~

____ let out what could only be described as a cute giggle as she tucked her hair behind her ear, positively beaming up at him. "Honestly... I had thought about it before then... Before I knew your name, I nicknamed you my mysterious stranger," she confessed as her cheeks glowed crimson.

"I was your... Mysterious stranger?" He questioned with a grin. The shy nod ____ offered was adorable.

"I didn't know what else to call you," she answered, but soon bit her lip. "Was that... Really okay to do in front of Sarah? I mean, what if she does something?"

"Shhh... You're worrying about her too much. Let me handle it,' Jumin soothed, as he held her tighter, earning himself another adorable gasp off ____. "Let me protect you..." he whispered. 

Instinctively, he cupped her cheek and tilted her head ever so slightly as he lowered his lips to hers. "Stay here tonight."

"T-tonight?" ____ questioned with a cute expression. She rested her head against his chest. "Okay... But tomorrow I need to return to the café..."

Jumin frowned. "I can't let you return until I know you'll be safe." The thought of anything happening to her now would destroy him. The concept of letting her return to the café eventually was enough of a challenge, but tomorrow?

"I'll be safe Jumin, I promise. It's not like reporters can do anything to me beyond interview me," she said.

____'s words weren't enough to reassure him, but if she really wanted to return then there was something he could do. "Very well, tomorrow you can return to the café, but I'll have driver Kim collect you in the evening and bring you here."

She looked up at him. "Bring me here? I couldn't ask you to do that. I'll be fine at home..."

"____," he smiled, admiring her beautiful eyes. "You didn't ask. I'm doing so because I want to. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be in my study for a little while. There are some things I need to arrange for work tomorrow."

"Okay," ____ said, stepping out of his hold. 

If he wasn't mistaken, she looked somewhat sad at his departure, but it was all for her sake. 

Inside his familiar study, he thrust his hand into his trouser pocket and grabbed his mobile, speed dialing assistant Kang as he lifted it to his ear.

"Good evening, Mr Han."

"Assistant Kang, I need you to arrange security for ____ tomorrow at the café. Please ensure that they are dressed and behave as customers throughout the day," he instructed as he walked around his desk and sat in his office chair. "It is imperative that ____ doesn't know they are security personnel. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, Mr Han. I'll see to it right away."

"Good and remember to inform me immediately when those deeds arrive," he reminded her, despite knowing that she didn't need it.

With little else to say, he moved onto his next phone call, unsure if this recipient would answer, but to his relief, he did. 

"V, there's something I need to ask of you."

Chapter Text

____ looked around her café with her lip nervously gripped between her teeth.

Despite being closed for two days, customers had returned, including some unfamiliar faces of muscle clad men, but they were welcome all the same. If anything, their presence eased her worries, because no one in their right mind would cause trouble with someone like that nearby. At least she hoped.

So much had happened in the past two days and Jumin's request was lingering in her mind. After their kiss, and Jumin's disappearance into his study, he'd returned with instructions for her to load up the RFA application on her mobile.

As they'd sat together on the sofa, each looking at their own screens, the group's leader V had logged on and announced an RFA party. She'd been excited until Jumin had requested her quaint little café to be used for a small gathering, to gradually build up to the parties they used to hold.

With that in mind, she'd spent the entire morning trying to figure out how a café could host such an occasion, but with Jumin's encouragement last night, she couldn't let him down.

Only when the bell chimed to alert her to a customer leaving did she realise that at some point her fingers had absentmindedly found their way to touching her lower lip.

That kiss...

Jumin's lips on hers. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel the way his lips felt against hers. She wanted to ask him if it had meant anything and if there was any way that his feelings matched her's but she'd chickened out.

This morning ____ had woken up to the smell of pancakes prepared by Jumin, who she'd found in the kitchen wearing an apron over his usual pristine suit. Her heart fluttered, and her cheeks had blushed as she had hoped for a good morning kiss, but it hadn't happened.

They'd shared a car to work. Driver Kim had dropped her off, but not before the most atmospheric drive of her life. She and Jumin had sat next to one another, chatting and smiling as their fingers had almost touched. Truthfully, ____ had casually been moving her fingers closer to Jumin's every time that he was distracted by the conversation, and she'd even had to double take one time when she was sure he had mirrored her movement.

The lunch rush passed quickly. A few customers had asked about the closure and mentioned how much they missed ____'s sandwiches. Needless to say, by the end of the afternoon, her cheeks ached from her endless smiling.

Buzz.

___'s head whipped around to look at her phone that lay on the counter. She didn't normally leave it lying around the café, but once closed and the door locked, she relaxed.

She finished wiping the table she was on before, leaving the cloth behind and swaying her way over to the counter as her music played in the background.

The sight of Jumin's name was enough for her heartbeat to pick up.

[Jumin] I've got a surprise for you.

____ blinked. A surprise for her? He'd already done more than enough for her, but not wanting to keep him waiting she texted him back.

[____] I wish I could give you a surprise too.

She let out a sigh. There was nothing she could do for him on such short notice which left her feeling slightly disappointed at the situation. It wasn't every day she received a surprise though. Gazing at her mobile, a response soon came through.

[Jumin] You surprise me every day.

Her heart fluttered, threatening to burst. She hadn't expected such a sweet reply. In the group chat, everyone talks about Jumin being cold-hearted or a jerk, but she'd seen nothing to back that up. He was charming and unbelievably caring. Even his texts show how nice a person he really is.

"Oh, Jumin..." She whispered with her eyes closed, as she clutched the mobile to her chest. "If only you knew what you meant to me..."

~

With the signed documents in his briefcase, he slipped out of his shoes and strode into his study. He had no idea how ____ would react, but he had no regrets. Worrying about rent was far too frivolous a matter for her to be plagued by concern over, when the money involved was nothing more than change for him.

More than anything, he wanted to see her succeed and her business thrive. She had the talent necessary, she just needed a little support.

There was also the party drawing nearer. The café would be an intimate gathering, but as it was their first party since Rika's passing, perhaps it was for the best? A way to reacquaint the RFA with the demands that a party ensured.

Retrieving the deeds, Jumin set his briefcase aside and left his study.
×

The apartment was empty, apart from Elizabeth who he could hear faintly in the distance playing with one of her toys.

Once in the kitchen, he left the document on the countertop and slipped the apron he'd recently acquired over his clothes.

Driver Kim had already been dispatched, so it was only a matter of time until ____ was at his side once more. A comforting thought. Something he needed to make known to her and what better way was there to show how he felt than cook a romantic meal for two, with his chef nowhere in sight?

He'd chosen a simple dish, one he was certain his abilities could impress ____ with.

"Meow..."

"Elizabeth?" Jumin questioned with a quick glance before he looked back at the vegetables and began chopping them. "I'm glad you're here. I want you to help me."

"Meow."

"Yes, I know you want food, but first I have a request," he said, as he placed the chopped vegetables into the pan. "I want you to help me make ____ want to stay here."

"Mwrrrao!"

He sighed. Not only was it hopeless requesting such a thing from Elizabeth, her visit was driven by hunger which didn't help. Besides, ____ had said she already loved Elizabeth which was promising.

It was the best part of half an hour before he heard ____ close the front door and pad barefoot through the penthouse, something he'd noticed she liked to do.

"Jumin...?" Her voice called out from the next room, like music to his ears.

"I'm in the kitchen," he responded, feeling his heart swell. It was such a couple's way to welcome the other home after a day of separation. Despite having lived here several years, it was ____'s presence that finally made the penthouse feel homely.

"Hello," she beamed as she made her way closer to him at the sink. "Have you been cooking?"

"That I have," Jumin agreed, as he glanced over his shoulder at her. With his hands emerged in soapy water and his mouth agape, he couldn't help but be taken aback by ____'s beauty.

Her hair was different, exposing her neck and delicate earrings. The look suited her, but he was certain he would love her no matter how she looked.

He drew a sharp breath and focused on the chopping board he was scrubbing.

Love. Was that the label for how he felt about her?

He looked at her once more, admiring her softened features as she stood beside him and dried the items on the rack without being asking. She really was special. Normally people assisted him because of the money involved or to get on his good side, but with ____, he could tell that she genuinely liked to help.

A content smile formed on his face as he watched her dry the clean items. She even bit her lip as she scrubbed, which was endearing in its own way. He could stand beside her every day for the rest of his life and never grow tired of basking in the warmth she emitted.

Yes, love seemed like the correct word. His feelings of desire had developed. He didn't just want ____ close anymore, he needed her beside him. She completed him in a way he'd always looked at Elizabeth for, but now having experienced how it felt to share his life with another person, he realised a cat could never do that.

~

____ tried to remain calm, but she could feel Jumin's eyes on her. She hesitantly looked up at him before busying herself with the pan in her hands.

Washing up and drying up were soothing repetitive tasks she had never minded doing. Normally, she would have her music playing as her mind wondered about random things, but today was different. Every time her elbow touched his, or their hands brushed, her heartbeat picked up. Being this close to him was both a torturous and a blissful experience.

"How was your day?" She finally asked, summoning the courage to meet his gaze with a smile.

"Productive," Jumin responded. "I acquired a new building."

"A new building?" ____ laughed, not missing the excitement that had been in his voice.

"Yes. A lovely property. It's an old build near C&R, housing my favourite café," Jumin teased, as he emptied the bowl of its water and dried his hands. "Perhaps your already acquainted?"

She pouted a little as she thought. Her café was near C&R but there was no way that was the café he was referring to, right? The old brick exterior had been one of the charms that had drawn her to the property. He couldn't possibly have brought it could he?

____ looked at him, knowing she would be embarrassed if her guess was wrong. "Do you mean my café?" The way he smirked with a tilted head said everything. "Jumin... I-I don't know what to say..." She couldn't believe he would buy a property with no reason to, but one question came to mind. "If you're my new landlord, how does this affect my rent? I was on a rolling contract-"

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

"Dinner's ready," Jumin cut in, as he moved over to the oven. "Take a seat at the dining table and I'll be there in a moment."

____ hesitated, but did as Jumin asked.

Her thoughts raced as she took a seat at the table. Jumin, her crush, had purchased her building, changing their relationship to that of a landlord and tenant. It was unsettling.

When the food arrived, it looked exquisite.

“You've outdone yourself,” she smiled.

“It's nothing special,” Jumin responded modestly as he sat opposite her.

As Jumin tucked into his food, ____ followed his lead, trying to savour the flavours rather than give into the questions racing around her mind. It was only when she felt Jumin's hand reach across the table and rest on top of her own that she realised she had eaten nothing in a few minutes.

“S-sorry,” she apologised returning to her food.

“____?” Jumin asked. His voice full of concern.

“I'm fine,” she responded, forcing a smile in his direction before taking a sip of the wine that Jumin had selected.

“... Perhaps I made an error. I thought the relief of no longer paying rent would make you happy,” Jumin said, quieter than usual.

“No rent…?” ____ questioned, lowering her glass to the table. “Jumin, I can't pay you nothing to use a building that belongs to you.”

“Why? I paid in full which means I have no mortgage to cover and the building is in excellent condition, so rent is rather unnecessary,” Jumin responded, setting his cutlery down.

____ swallowed, unsure how to respond. Jumin's background had skewered his idea of money and how the cycle of paying what's rightly owed worked. “If I don't pay you something I would feel guilty…”

“There's no need to feel that way. I don't wish to receive rent for a building that requires no upgrades. Besides, as a silent partner of your business, it's in both our best interests that there is extra money to work with, or perhaps, you might like to save it? I'm sure there's something you'd like to treat yourself to?” Jumin suggested, tilting his head in his usual manner.

She bit her lip, trying to work out why he had such an effect on her when he looked at her like that. Regardless, she did her best to think about what he'd said. “... I could save?” She whispered, a smile growing the more she thought about it. Until now, it had been a concept lost to her, not because she was bad with money, but because there was never enough spare.

Her eyes lit up when she looked back at Jumin. “I could buy so many books!” She beamed, imagining the smell of new books as she walked through her favourite book store.

“Books?” Jumin asked with a look of surprise.

____ nodded. “I love being surrounded by books.”

“May I suggest a library?” Jumin teased, sipping his wine.

She stuck her tongue out with a playful pout.

“What genre do you like?” Jumin asked, letting his fingers draw shapes on the tables surface as his eyes focused on her.

“Romance…” she blushed, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I love reading about falling in love…” Her eyes flickered up to his, but quickly looked away out of embarrassment.

Jumin hummed. “Falling in love… it sounds familiar,” he said, with a tender voice.

“It does?” ____ breathed, trying to not give away how much her heart hammered in her chest. Either she was about to have her heart broken or be swept off her feet.

“Very,” Jumin responded, taking another sip of his wine. “Tell me, ____, when a couple fall in love, how do they show it?”

Her cheeks flared. Her love of romance was something she never spoke about. “They do little things… they look at each other, accidentally touch… their hearts flutter…”

Jumin brushed the back of her hand with his finger as he hummed in agreement. “And if the lady reciprocates the gentleman's feelings, how will he know?”

She gasped as his fingers entwined with her's. His hands felt wonderful in hers. “He'll know because she'll want to be around him… He'll be able to make her smile and make her heart beat fast…”

His lip quirked into a smile. “Like yours is now?”

“H-how?” She stammered, feeling her heart in her throat. In her panic her hair slid loose, only for Jumin's free hand to lightly cup her cheek and tracing her cheekbone as he tucked it behind her ear once more.

“You're blushing,” he stated.

____’s hands flew up to cover her face. This was not how she'd imagined the conversation would go. “Jumin…” she whispered, unsure how to finish.

She expected him to ask her to lower her hands, but to her surprise, Jumin stood up and walked around the table, kneeling beside her as he gently lifted her hands.

“____, you're too beautiful to hide your face,” Jumin said, bringing a hand back to rest on her cheek, lightly brushing her skin with his thumb. His eyes flickering to her lips.

“Jumin…” she whispered as her breathing grew unsteady. She closed her eyes as she felt his thumb touching her lower lip, desperate for his teasing to become more.

As if her wish had been answered, Jumin's lips pressed lightly against hers, testing if it was okay. She met his pace as he scooped her into his arms. Her hands gripped at the fabric of his shirt.

When Jumin broke the kiss, ____ kept her eyes closed, resting her forehead against his. Her heart raced as her body relaxed and cuddled up against him.

“That was…” her voice trailed off as he placed a sweet kiss on her lips.

“Perfect?” Jumin offered.

____ nodded, pulling back a little to see his face. She wore a smile as she admired his flushed face. “You're wonderful…”

Jumin shook his with a subtle laugh. “Your something else…”

~

She was stunning; her hair ruffled, lips moist and she had beautifully longing eyes.

Rocking his body a little, he pressed her lightly against the table, stealing another kiss. His hands explored her body with more confidence though he was mindful of her modesty.

“____,” he panted and planted kisses down her exposed neck. “I… I don't want you to leave.”

“I have to open the café tomorrow,” she responded equally breathless.

He held her tighter. Of course she had to leave, but it didn't stop him not liking the idea. “Then I want you to live with me. Coming home to you every night… to have you welcome me home, sharing meals… holding you as we fall asleep… ____, I want you to become mine.”

Chapter Text

“I want you to become mine.”

The words continued to run through her mind.

With her head on his chest, as they lay together on the bed, ____ let her fingers rub little circles on the skin he'd accidentally exposed. Jumin was fast asleep, looking peaceful and handsome without trying.

He wanted her as much as she wanted to be his. Jumin's words had caught her off guard, but the sincerely had made her heart swell.

She was irrevocably his now.

Placing a tender kiss a top of the t-shirt he'd worn to bed, she looked up at his face, admiring him, still in disbelief he could return her feelings.

Their evening together had been sweet, full of gentle touches and kisses, learning each other in ways they hadn't been able to before now. They'd laid on the sofa while serene music played in the background. They'd even shared a kiss on the balcony, under the starlit sky. The evening had been like a dream.

Listening to Jumin's heartbeat, she tried to fall asleep once more, but it was next to impossible. She was enamoured with her mysterious stranger. Though they'd only known one another for a short while, being with him felt right. Being in his arms confirmed that this was where she belonged.

As her eyelids grew heavy, ____ held onto Jumin, feeling secure for the first time in her adult life.

~

Jumin stirred as the sunlight through the window shone on his face. He tried to shift out of the sun's rays, but a weight had him firmly in place. Opening his eyes, the sight of ____ wrapped around him made the memories of last night return.

His sweet ____ had agreed to because his, promising that she would join him at the penthouse, making it their home. For lack of a better description, she was now his girlfriend, and he was undeniably in love with her.

Filled with reluctance, he looked at the clock on the wall. Any normal day he would call Assistant Kang and have her conveniently cancel his morning schedule, but today was different. Today he had to hold a meeting with the board discussing his father's recent behaviours and the jeopardy he was placing the company in again by continuing his engagement to Glam Choi whilst insisting Jumin marry Sarah.

With ____ now his, ending ties to Sarah was at the forefront of his mind. There was only one lady he would marry, and she was still asleep in his arms.

He placed a single kiss on her exposed forehead and extracted himself from beneath her.

He showered and dressed as quiet as possible before leaving the room and making his way to the kitchen in need of his morning coffee. On the counter sat today's newspaper together with his breakfast that his chef had freshly prepared. It came as no surprise that Sarah had drawn attention to herself once again, highlighting their ‘engagement’ on the front page.

Not wishing for ____ to witness the false story, Jumin deposited the newspaper into the recycling and headed out the penthouse, ready to oppose his heedless father.

~

The coffee shop was quiet, but it was something ____ was thankful for. She needed time to help her think about everything that had happened.

She'd woken up to a cold bed, though she met Jumin's housekeeper and chef in his absence. It was nice even if speaking with them had made her late in opening the cafe. Driver Kim waiting to take her to work had been a big help.

Wiping the counter, ____ glanced at her phone, wanting to text Jumin, but she didn't want to risk interrupting him during something important.

As a customer entered the café, she straightened her apron and wore her biggest smile. “Welcome. What can I get you-”

“You don't recognise me?” The man said, leaning on the counter with a dazzling smile.

“I'm sorry,” she apologised, trying to recall his face when Jumin's friends came to mind. “... Zen?”

“I knew you wouldn't forget this face,” he responded. “I didn't expect you to be so cute though.”

“C-cute?” She stammered, unsure how to accept such a compliment when it wasn't from Jumin. Her cheeks had flushed. “Thank you…”

“I can see how you caught Jumin's eye,” Zen smiled, running his hand through his hair.

____ bit her lip. She had no idea how to respond or how to react. “Can I get you anything...?”

“What do you recommend?” He asked, looking around at the display.

“Hmmm… it depends on what you like,” she answered and bit her lip as she scanned her sweets collection. “I like the cream puffs best, but I put the same amount of love and attention into everything I make.”

“I guess I'll need to try one of everything then,” Zen said, flicking his hair back over his shoulder. “If they're as sweet as you, I'm sure they'll be delicious.”

“H-huh?” She gasped, staring at him wide eyed. As the heat in her cheeks grew, she reached for a box and prepared his order. “I'm with Jumin now… so please, don't say things like that.”

With one of everything spread between two boxes, she placed them on the counter. Though she tried not to, she looked up at him to find him on the phone.

“Yeah, I tried… What? No. I got turned down… Yeah, Jumin's lucky alright… No, I'm still here… Yeah, I'll tell her… Bye.”

____ tried to ignore the call as she entered Zen's purchase's on the till before quietly reading the amount owed. To her relief, Zen had the exact money and his demeanor had changed as he picked the boxes up.

“Seven says hi,” Zen said as he turned to leave.

“He did?” She blinked. “Oh, he was who you were talking to?”

“Yeah… well done for passing our test,” Zen grinned and disappeared out the door.

Bemused by the strange encounter, she headed into the kitchen and took her loafs out of the oven, ready for the lunch rush that would soon ensue.

What sort of test were Zen and Seven conducting? And how did she pass it?

~

Jaehee waited outside the boardroom. Though she knew what was happening, she could only catch the odd word here and there from Mr Han and his father's heated discussion.

She'd invested all her energy researching into the 'teacher and student, and this was her reward, to be anxiously awaiting to hear how the confrontation went. From tone alone she could tell it hadn't progressed as smoothly as she'd hoped.

While the executive's that had been invited for today's meeting had all quickly fled from the family dispute, a few lingered further down the corridor, wrapped up in their own conversation.

She heard the door handle rattle, which meant either Mr Han or his father had their hand on it, ready to leave. Standing straight, she took a few steps down the corridor to avoid appearing as an eavesdropper, and as the company chairman stepped out the room looking flustered, she was glad of her decision.

She kept her head down as he walked passed and waited for him to disappear before she headed over to the door and knocked, entering the room as soon as Mr Han invited her in.

Mr Han sat perched on the desk, with his arms crossed, wearing a frown. He looked tense, far from his usual visibly relaxed self.

Knowing he was deep in thought Jaehee waited for him to start the conversation as her eyes wandered to the documents that laid scattered across the room, they'd been in a neat pile when she'd vacated earlier.

“Assistant Kang, I'm sure you've already figured out how that went,” Jumin sighed, leaning back on the desk, with his arms supporting him.

“Yes,” she answered, gathering the documents, unable to leave the room like this for the next occupant's. “Would you like me to call driver Kim?”

“No… I think I'll walk home,” Jumin responded.

Jaehee looked over at him, taken aback by his response. In the entire time she had worked for him, never had he opted to walk home. While his penthouse wasn't too far, the journey would take a while by foot.

“Very well. I'll continue my research in the meantime,” she replied, clutching the documents to her chest.

Jumin offered a single nod. “Thank you.”

~

Jumin stood outside the shop window, admiring the items on display. With his hands firmly in his trouser pockets he hadn't meant to stay, but when he tried to leave, he found himself unwilling.

It had never been his intention to shop, only to wander causally toward his penthouse. To the most part he'd been successful, but a shop caught his eye, an item in particular holding his attention.

On display, a ring captivated his attention. The way it glistened in the light was mesmerising. It was perfect, and he knew it would look even more so on ____’s finger.

His fingers traced his wallet inside his pocket. He never carried cash, but he always had a card.

Looking at the ring, he took a deep breath, breathing out slowly as he pondered what he should do.

____ was his world. She completed his life. He knew marriage was something he wanted eventually, but wanting to see this ring on ____’s finger and gaining reassurance she would remain by his side always, he stepped into the shop.  

He knew this was the one for his one and only.

~

“I'm home,” ____ called as she padded further into the penthouse. Elizabeth soon came running up to her. “Hello, sweetie,” she cooed, dropping onto her knees and giving her a fuss. “Is your daddy home?”

“Meow…”

She placed a kiss a top of Elizabeth's head and headed to the kitchen, finding it was empty. Her shoulders fell as she accepted that he was elsewhere, most likely at work.

Missing Jumin's presence, ____ retrieved her mobile from her pocket and opened her messages.

[____] I'm home <3

Heading to Jumin's bedroom, which seemed to have also become her's, she undressed and went into the en-suite. All afternoon she'd been longing to have a shower.

The warm water over her body felt amazing. Still not having many of her own belongings here she used Jumin's shampoo and conditioner, the familiar smell making her hope it wasn't too long until he returned.

Rejuvenated, she stepped out of the shower and toweled down. With the towel wrapped around her body, she re-entered the bedroom, biting her lip. There wasn't many clothes here for her yet. Hoping he wouldn't mind too much, she selected one of Jumin's shirts that looked long enough to cover her, paired with her own matching underwear. Not that she expected anything to happen, but it was good to be prepared.

She checked her phone, delighted to see messages, opening them immediately.

[Jumin] Almost home. See you soon x

[Jumin] I'm in the kitchen when you're finished x

Her heart swelled seeing the kisses at the end of his messages.

With a smile, she excitedly made her way to the kitchen, stopped when Jumin came into her line of sight. He looked handsome, not to mention his ruffled hair added to his allure.

“Hello,” she said, walking into the kitchen and wrapping her arms around him from behind. “I missed you.”

Jumin hummed, leaning into her touch. “I missed you too, my love.”

A smile spread on her face as her heart pounded. She'd never been called a pet name like that before. “I like that.”

“Oh?” Jumin asked, turning in her arms. The food he'd been preparing had ready been forgotten.

She made a sound of agreement as she went onto her tiptoes, placing a chaste kiss on his cheek.

A hand cupped her cheek as Jumin leaned down, kissing her on her lips. He led the kiss, letting his free hand wander up her body. “____…”

“Jumin…” she responded, matching his breathless sigh, as their foreheads pressed together.

“I think we better stop,” Jumin said, kissing her forehead and freeing from her grasp. “If we don't...”

“I understand,” she responded, stepping to the side of him and looking at the food he'd been preparing before her arrival. “You're really taking to the kitchen, aren't you?”

Jumin turned around, looking down at the chopping board. “It's worth cooking when I have someone like you to share meals with.”

~

The look on ____’s face was adorable. Not only did the blush on her cheeks illuminate her beautiful eyes, she also giggled and it was the sweetest sound he'd ever heard.

“I don't think I'm that special,” she said, leaning against his arm.

Jumin shook his head. “How mistaken you are, my love.”

Chapter Text

The days passed quickly as ____ and Jumin fell into a natural routine. Everyday they woke up in eachothers arms, went to work and returned home to share a meal together, before they enjoyed an evening of eachothers company doing whatever they fancied. They laughed, they smiled, embraced and kissed. It was perfect.

____ shook her head, tearing herself out of yet another daydream. She couldn't help it though, Jumin was her everything now.

Looking out from behind the till, the café still needed lots of work before tomorrow's RFA event. With the lunchtime rush over, knowing the afternoon customers would only require a few tables, she'd begun to move the rest into the store cupboard, thankful she'd opted for collapsible tables when she'd opened the café. It also helped that she wasn't alone in doing so.

Yoosung returned from the store room with a bright smile, ready for his next set of instructions. “Are we moving any more tables?”

“Not just yet,” she responded, handing him a freshly made milkshake. “I think we've both earned a break.”

Sipping her own, she watched as Yoosung’s eyes lit up. Relief washed through her. She hadn't admitted it, but milkshakes were new on her menu and Yoosung was her guinea pig.

“This is amazing!”

“R-really?” ____ asked, not expecting this good of a response, but a single nod of his head answered her question.

Having rested and finished their milkshakes, they set about trying to make the café look more glamorous. They started by removing advertisements from the window, a window cleaner was due soon too to help the outward appearance.

Next they removed the shop bought canvases off the walls and replaced them with original artworks that Jumin had purchased for the café. She'd teased him for not being a very silent partner, but she appreciated it. The café looked fantastic.

Lastly, though it was a little difficult and neither of them seemed particularly skilled at D.I.Y, ____ and Yoosung affixed long draping sheets of silky material on the back wall to draw attention to a stage like area.

Standing near the entrance, side by side, they admired their handiwork.

“We did it, ____. It looks great!”

She hummed in agreement. Jumin's influence was scattered throughout the café. “It's perfect.”

~

“Mister Han, have you thought this through? How will ____ feel seeing Sarah?” Jaehee asked, as she tried to keep up with Jumin's long strides.

“____ will understand and she already knows that there is no reason for her to feel threatened. She knows where my heart lies,” Jumin responded as they continued through the C&R building. The moment he'd heard Glam and Sarah had entered the building, he knew they wouldn't leave until they spoke to him, which was the precise reason he was going to lead them on a wild goose chase. Desperate and deceiving women like that didn't deserve a red carpet welcome.

On yet another floor Jaehee shook her head. Jumin's idea of fun was costing her valuable time. “Mister Han, if everything is to be ready for tomorrow I must-” she stopped talking the moment Jumin held his hand out.

“Why do I have to marry the awful one?”

“Have patience. When he's my son things will change.”

Jumin reached out and pressed the elevator button. With it only being one floor away it wouldn't take long. The two women were close, but still a way around the corner. If he just timed this right…

“I can't believe he's cheated on me already.”

“Let it slide. Marry him before you chastise him for his behav- Oh, Jumin, what a lovely-”

Jumin stepped into the elevator, followed by Assistant Kang. He pressed the ground floor button, followed by the button to close the doors.

“Ju-”

He leant against the elevator wall, with his arms folded. “They don't learn, do they?”

“Their shameless if nothing else,” Jaehee agreed. “But I must insist you end this charade. There's still more that needs to be prepared for tomorrow.”

“Which is why I selected the ground floor. Driver Kim is waiting for you outside. You can return for your things once you've finalised plans with ____. Oh, and inform Yoosung I'll compensate him for his troubles,” Jumin said.

When the elevator chimed, he stepped out, glancing up to see the display of the other elevator heading down. He stopped the elevator doors closing with his hand as Assistant Kang left him and fled towards the exit. Selecting the top floor, he checked his reflection in the mirror of the back wall. This time he was going to let them find him. Playing childish games with two spoilt brats could only be fun for so long.

~

____ nodded with enthusiasm as Jaehee explained tomorrow's plan to her. There was a lot to take in. As a host she would be with the RFA throughout the event, but to her relief, she wasn't required to take a leading role that was going to be Jumin's responsibility.

“There is also the matter of displaying V's photographs for the auction. If you leave me the keys I could arrange that this evening once V’s plane has landed,” Jaehee said, scribbling a note, but she stopped with her pen still on the paper and looked up at ____. “That is if you're comfortable doing so?”

“Of course. I trust you Jaehee,” ____ responded. They shared a smile. “Jumin's right, you really are reliable.”

Jaehee’s eyes briefly widened. “Mister Han thinks I'm reliable?”

“Yes,” ____ smiled. “Has he not told you?”

Jaehee shook her head, returning to her notes. “We speak very little of my performance as his assistant. Though I have noticed a change in him since meeting you… You're a good influence on him ____, and I hope you continue as such.”

“You give me too much credit…” ____ blushed, staring at the floor of her almost empty café as her fingers pulled at a loose thread on her dress. “... Jumin's a wonderful person. How much he loves Elizabeth shows that. A-and he's helped me too! I have more confidence now... I don't think I could ever repay the kindness he's shown towards me…”

“Keep being you,” Jaehee responded, as she continued to write her notes with rough sketches to help her this evening.

A crashing sound from the distance brought both their attentions back to the matter at hand.

____ darted out through the kitchen and down the hallway to the storeroom. “Yoosung are you okay?!” She scanned the room looking for bright blonde hair, when she noticed him on the floor under the table cloths and a fallen table. She couldn't help but laugh. “How did you manage that?” She heard Jaehee let out a subtle laugh from behind her.

Yoosungs cheeks were flushed as he looked up at them both. “A little help, please?”

~

With his father, Glam and Sarah all invited to the RFA party tomorrow, Jumin sat at his desk letting out a deep sigh. He had a headache after the day he'd experienced, but dealing with people like that was always frustrating.

He loved his father, he did, but the man's weakness for women was his biggest flaw. It was situations like this that caused Jumin to lose some of the respect he held for the man. Though his father had refused to accept the truth so far, tomorrow he would have no excuse to not accept the evidence. It was just a shame that the media had to be involved for this outcome to become a reality.

Looking at the clock on the wall he knew it wouldn't be long now until ____ returns to the penthouse, to their home as Jumin often reminded himself. It was a fact that never failed to bring him happiness. She was perfect and she was his.

Filled with thoughts of ____, he picked up the phone, dialing a number that he'd pondered calling a few times. There were two rings before they answered. “Hello. I would like to make a reservation for two this evening.”

~

____ stared at Jumin, at the dress, then back to Jumin. “I-I can't accept a gift like this,” she said, still finding her eyes drawn to the beautiful red dress. It looked expensive and that terrified her. If she wore it she would spend the evening scared to move for fear of ruining it.

“You don't like it?” Jumin asked, examining her body language for clue's.

“That's not it at all,” she protested not wanting Jumin to mistake her intentions. “It's just… I'm scared I'll damage it. Besides, I'm not sure I'll be able to pull something so pretty off. I mean, I'm kind of average...”

“How wrong you are, my love,” Jumin responded, placing a hand gently on ____’s back, drawing her attention back to him. “You are the most beautiful woman both in looks and personality. I can't have you doubting that. Now…” he said lowering his voice to a gentle whisper as he cupped her cheek, “... What good is a beautiful dress, if not worn by a beautiful lady?” He pressed his lips to hers in chaste kiss.

When their lips separated, ____ couldn't bring herself to open her eyes. Jumin's kisses were like magic, always making her tummy fill with butterflies. “How can I say no now?” she giggled, wrapping her arms tighter around him. “Jumin…?”

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

He tilted his head, wearing a soft smile. “I love you too.”