Jinyoung glanced down at his pristine white shirt and grimaced at coffee quickly being soaked up by the linen. “Mark, let me call you back after the interview. I just spilled a little coffee on my shirt, so I need to clean it up before I embarrass myself,” he scowled into the phone.
Mark's sharp features tilted into an exasperated look. “Okay, but you need to call me back as soon as you leave. I want all the details.”
“You should've just applied for it, if you wanted to know what he looks like.”
“Where's the fun in that?” Mark asked smirked into the camera. “Anyways, you had more chances of passing the first round of applicants than I did. I stand no chance against you.”
His scowl deepened. Much like himself, Mark had been a school teacher, but found working with children one on one more rewarding, so they had switched to becoming nannies working in the same agency and sharing an apartment. Since he'd helped that one child on 2nd begin to talk again, the entire agency had dubbed him the child whisperer. “Don't you dare start with that too,” he growled.
“Oh, Nyoungie, but you gotta admit there hasn't been a child you've come across who's defeated you.”
He huffed a quickly laugh, waving into the camera. “I'm hanging up,” he said in a singing voice.
Mark giggled. “Bye. Remember, call me back as soon as possible.”
“I heard he's ho-…”
He hung up before another word crossed his friend's lips, rolling his eyes. He stood, gathering his stuff off the table and made his way towards the restroom in the restaurant he was biding his time in. As he passed the receptacle bins, he threw his cup of Americano in. The thing hadn't been something to rave about, but it had awaken him enough to function. He glanced down at his wristwatch and decided he had about ten minutes before he needed to leave.
He walked into the restroom and found it empty. He sighed in relief that he didn't need to wait for mirror space. He pulled a towel out of the dispenser hanging on the wall and dampened it before he began to dab at the stain. When it proved stubborn, he groaned and searched his bag for something to perhaps cover it with. He pulled out his cashmere sweater and cursed its color. Normally, he wouldn't think twice about mixing grey with black slacks and a tie, but for an interview? And an interview with L.A.’s notorious real estate tycoon? No way in hell.
Right now though, he didn't really have a choice. He took off his glasses and placed it on the counter as he sighed heavily. He pulled the sweater over his head, hoping to all that was holy that the thing wouldn't mess his hair too. As soon as his head poked through the collar, he quickly checked himself in the mirror. Thank God! His jet black hair seemed to be the only cooperative thing in his life right now.
He tugged the sweater the rest of the way down and neatly tucked the ends into his pants, adjusting around as he went. When he got to the cuffs, he tugged the sleeves up and glanced at his watch, realizing belatedly he had somehow overran his ten minutes.
He quickly shoved everything in his bag again and dashed out. In no time, he stood before a set of tall wrought iron gates intricately adorned on either side by a tigers sitting atop stone pillars. Through the thick bars he could see a neatly trimmed lawn, a perfectly paved driveway, and the beginnings of a house, but nothing else. No front door, no groundskeepers… just nothing.
He walked over to the right side of the gates, but before he could press the intercom button, a voice with an accent almost Korean instructed him to go through the smaller side gate. Nodding shakily, he moved back to the smaller gate on the left side and the thing popped open as he got closer. He walked through and the gate locked behind him causing him to jump. The tiny hairs on the nape of his neck stood and he shuddered as he remembered his conversation with Mark the night he passed the first round of applicants.
“I passed,” he announced as he plopped himself down on their living room sofa beside the elder.
“Of course you did. You're-...”
“Don't you dare say it!”
“The child whisperer.”
He groaned. “Hyung!”
Mark turned to him then. “But seriously, Nyoungie. I knew you would. Not because you're ‘the child whisperer,’ but because you're a professional and highly recommended in our field.”
He smiled. “Thanks, Hyung. That’s the nicest thing you've ever said to me.”
“Yeah, right! But, Nyoungie, just be careful, okay?”
He frowned. “Is there something I don't know?”
Mark’s face scrunched up. “Well, I don't know how much of it is true, but word has it that Im Jaebum has connections with the Korean Geondals.”
“Word mouth or word of that online gossip magazine you're always reading?” he smirked.
“Hah! Very funny,” Mark guffawed. “Just be careful. I know you, Jinyoungie. You never could leave without the last say. The last thing I need is for you to go missing. I'll never be able to sleep if something were to happen to you at a job I applied you to for selfish reasons.”
“Don't worry. I did my homework on Im Jaebum - married young, wife passed away, two kids under seven years old. It's a classic single, rich dad with no time for his brats. I'll have them whipped up in no time at all.”
Mark arched a brow at him. “Did you read the articles about the charges his in-laws dropped on him?”
He frowned, cocking his head in Mark's direction. “Charges?”
He softened. “He was acquitted,” he said, waving a hand dismissively. “If he was guilty, I doubt he would have custody of his own children now.”
“People get away with murder everyday, Jinyoungie. Just be careful.”
Now, as he looked up at the imposing house, he couldn't help but shiver.
Actually, house couldn't begin to describe the place. It's way too huge. Manor? Castle?
The place was massive. At least three floors high, white with an blue A-frame roof, the place was completed with an attached three parking garage and a well-kempt lawn. The paved road leading up to the house couldn't even be called a driveway. It was just as wide as 14th.
As he walked up the driver, a side door swung open and a bulky Korean man with awkward red hair and a black suit much too tight for his large frame walked out and gestured at him. He looked around him even as he pointed to himself. “나?” he asked awkwardly when he found no one else.
The man nodded curtly, beckoning him to follow.
He did as instructed, practically rushing to catch up. They entered the manor from the side entrance and the linoleum white floors were the first thing he noticed. He fidgeted, thinking about how someone had done their job so intently. The floor was so shiny he was afraid the man was about to see up his pants leg.
“I'm Park Jinyoung.”
“I've come for the job interview. I have an appointment with Mr. Im.”
“I know,” the man repeated.
“What's your name?” It was basic human interaction and it was only natural to know a potential fellow employee's name… right?
He clamped his mouth shut. Cookie? That's hardly a name to describe you, sir… but somehow, it fit him perfectly. He isn't bad looking, but he does look like a tough cookie.
They entered the house and walked down the hall, into a reception room. Immediately, he met the eyes of his only competition in the entirety of New York City - Park Ji Soo, from Tiny Treasures. Smiling confidently, he sat beside her and nodded slightly in greeting.
“Why are you here?” she scoffed, rolling her eyes.
“I imagine the same thing you're here for,” he said smiling sweetly.
“Little Britches hasn't been shut down yet?” she fired back.
“Mannies are a lot more reliable, and less threatening than nannies. No one wants to house the mistress these days.”
The doors he had just entered clicked opened before Ji Soo could say another word and a middle aged Chinese woman walked in. Her cold indifferent expression commanded their attention and she locked gazed with Ji Soo. “Park Ji Soo?” she said softly, but clearly.
“Yes” Ji Soo said, standing.
“Follow me,” the woman said sweeping back out the door as regally as she had swept in.
He frowned. Is everyone here cold and antisocial? he thought to himself as he opened his bag and pulled out his resume. He scanned the document, but before he could go over his credentials, the same woman walked back in.
“Yes,” he said standing. Is Ji Soo done already? She must've not passed. Feeling a little more confident, he followed the old woman when she instructed him to follow her. Lisa Lu, as she introduced herself as, led him down a series of corridors, he noticed they were decorated lavishly with end tables topped with beautiful fresh flowers in vases or statuettes, and intricate paintings covered the walls that could've bought his entire apartment complex.
As they walked further into the house, he thought back to the brief research he had done on the master of the house. Im Jaebum had been married once upon a time. Pictures of him and his beautiful wife, Im Nayeon, on their wedding day had been one of the first pictures he had seen of the man. In a black tuxedo and his hair slicked back, he had looked dashing as he looked down at his wife like she had discovered the miracle of fire. Their wedding and the arrival of both their sons had been the subject of many tabloids as well as his wife's suspicious passing.
There had been one particular picture that had caught his eye. It had been a pictorial written of Im Jaebum, business tycoon. Something about the cold, hard stones of his eyes had made him stop clicking through the numerous pictures. Here was a man who got what he wanted. A man who would stop at nothing until he got what he set out to take. An impeccable man. An implacable man. A man who made the impossible, possible. A man you do not antagonize. A man you should never cross.
A man you allowed to take you...
He frowned. 어머, where did that come from? he thought as he crushed the thought. If I get this job, I would be monitoring his sons’ learning progress and reporting it to him directly. Since I'm exceptional at my job, I don't foresee needing to take shit from him. I am a professional. I would never risk my good name for a man. No matter how hot he is. Anyways, he's straight. He would never give another man like me a second glance. He's probably got women lining up to be his second wife. The last thing I need is to get my hopes up only to have it and my heart crushed.
They came to a stop at a door and he straightened his back. The door opened and the wind was knocked out of him. The devil himself sat behind a desk because only the devil looked that darkly handsome with stars twinkling in his eyes and perfectly placed moles above his eyes against pale perfect skin.