Episode 1. I Want to Kiss
The loud music was thumping, pounding her heart.
Although she was normally quiet and calm, preferring quiet places, she did not refuse Seunghee’s suggestion to go to the club today.
Perhaps after daily life surrounded by the blank white walls of the hospital, she wanted to feel a sense of liberation for at least a day.
From tomorrow, her hellish life as a resident would begin.
She could think of the next four years as having no freedom.
So it seemed like she needed to run out of the hospital today and fully enjoy her last bit of freedom to gather the strength to endure the next four years.
“You’ve already rejected three times in one hour. You’re going to set a record today.”
Seunghee shook her head as she watched the man walk after refusing her proposal to join their table.
Nayoung kept drinking without caring.
Today, she just wanted to enjoy her drink.
She had no intentions of meeting a man.
What’s the point of trying a new relationship here when starting tomorrow, the resident’s schedule would not even allow time to sleep, let alone date?
She was also not the sociable type who could easily converse with strangers.
“We’re already twenty-seven. When the residency ends, we’ll be over thirty. Maybe today is your last chance to meet a decent man in your twenties. Are you really not interested?”
“So, are you sure a club is the place to meet a decent man?”
“In my eyes, handsome men, fun-loving men, rich men, they’re all here. If I were as pretty as you, I would go straight to the man I like and ask him to dance.”
Seunghee, whose only hobby was reading romance novels, probably came to the club today dreaming of a romantic encounter, so Nayoung just listened to her talk with a smile.
While Seunghee was checking out the men around her, she noticed someone and quickly tapped Nayoung’s shoulder with her hand.
“Oh my, oh my, what’s happening!”
Her hand was quite harsh, so Nayoung squinted one eye and looked at Seunghee.
“I know that man. He’s the film director Cha Hyun! Oh my God. The women next to him are so beautiful too. Could they be actresses?”
If it’s film director Cha Hyun, Nayoung also heard his name through the media.
He was a young film director who was rising rapidly, being called a genius director with just two films.
Nayoung looked in the direction Seunghee was pointing to.
There was a room with glass walls set in a high place that required climbing stairs.
Everyone gathered in the room looked sophisticated and fashionable.
But the person who caught her eye was not the film director Cha Hyun, but the man next to him.
From her seat, she could only see his back, but that very sight brought back a long-forgotten memory.
The back of a male student sweating after taking off his tiger mask.
The frustration of trying to call him but not being able to voice out.
It had already been 17 years.
This was the first time she had remembered that moment just by seeing someone’s back, and Nayoung couldn’t take her eyes off the man’s back.
Thump, thump, thump.
Her heart, pounding to the beat of the music, sent another vibration through her body.
The moment the man she had been watching turned his head, she sprang up from her seat, turned around, and quickly said to Seunghee,
“I’m going to the bathroom.”
“Shall I go with you?”
Nayoung hurriedly left the spot, and Seunghee was engrossed in posting on SNS that she had seen film director Cha Hyun.
Taehyuk turned his head and looked down.
It had been three years since he returned to Korea.
The jet lag hadn’t settled yet, so night felt like day, and day felt like night.
If it weren’t for his 20-year-old friend Cha Hyun calling him out to celebrate his return, he would have been sleeping at home.
He was already tired, and now he had been brought to this noisy club.
Through his complaining gaze, he spotted the back of a woman walking through the crowd.
The woman in the plain white blouse and jeans stood out more than the women in flashy outfits, under the club’s bright lights.
Her long, slender neck under her tied-up hair was elegant like a ballerina’s, and her delicate, curvy body maintained a dignified posture even amidst the loud music.
Judging by how the men around her couldn’t take their eyes off her as she passed, she must have been pretty.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of her face if she turned her head, Taehyuk continued to stare.
He wasn’t expecting much, but he couldn’t easily look away.
“What are you looking at?”
Cha Hyun poked his arm, noticing his attention elsewhere.
He had specially arranged this gathering for Taehyuk, who had returned to Korea after a long time.
It was the hottest club these days, and the women he had invited were celebrities with both beauty and fame.
He had created a perfect atmosphere for Taehyuk to enjoy and have fun, but Taehyuk, the main character of the day, was looking bored, leaving Cha-hyun dissatisfied.
“Is the director’s friend of a reticent nature?”
Since Taehyuk wasn’t talking, the women asked about him through Cha Hyun.
This was already a failure, Cha Hyun thought, looking at Taehyuk with displeasure.
Was it so hard to just have fun at the club?
“I’m going to the bathroom.”
As Taehyuk was about to get up and leave his seat, Cha Hyun admonished him.
“Come back within 10 minutes.”
Cha Hyun anxiously watched Taehyuk, who left without answering.
He wouldn’t run away, would he?
If it wasn’t for the other guests he had invited, Cha Hyun would have followed Taehyuk all the way to the bathroom.
When her mother called while she was at the club, Nayoung was greatly flustered.
Since she had the image of a model eldest daughter at home, her parents would never even think of her going to a club.
Especially if her father found out, it would be a big problem.
Nayoung boldly pressed the end button. Because it seemed like not answering the call was the right thing to do at that moment.
She let out a short sigh and was raising her head when she noticed a man walking towards her and stopped in her tracks.
“We meet again.”
He was the man whose table she refused to join.
It was annoying because it didn’t seem like a coincidence but rather like he intentionally followed her.
“You keep refusing to join and you don’t dance. What’s the point of coming to the club then?”
Nayoung tried to walk past the man without answering, but he grabbed her arm.
Her face immediately turned cold as she refused, but the man did not let go, smiling instead.
“You keep doing that and I’ll get angry. I’m just trying to have a conversation. Why are you so sensitive?”
She tried to shake off the man’s hand with force, but it didn’t come off as if glued.
“Don’t look down on people just because you think you’re pretty. Girls like you always need to be pushed to listen.”
Nayoung felt nauseated by the man’s uncivilized behavior, which had crossed a line.
She regretted following her friend Seunghee to the club.
“Guys like you need to be pushed to listen too.”
Another man’s voice interrupted, firmly gripping the wrist of the man who had been holding her.
Only then did the hand that was holding her arm let go.
The man grimaced in pain and angrily shouted at Taehyuk.
However, when Taehyuk applied more force, the man whimpered and begged.
“Ah! I’m, I’m sorry. Please let me go!”
Nayoung looked in surprise at Taehyuk, who had suddenly appeared.
The dark blue suit he was wearing was certainly the one worn by the man who had been with film director Cha Hyun just a while ago.
The man whose back she had been looking at was even more handsome from the front.
His long, clear eyes were elegant beneath his smooth eyebrows, and the brown pupils set within them shone like gems.
His prominent nose and sleek jawline harmonized perfectly, exuding masculinity from his face.
He was an unusually handsome man.
However, her heart was not fluttering as it had been when she saw his back.
His face was just stranger to her.
As soon as Taehyuk let go, the man cursed under his breath and ran away.
When Taehyuk, who had been watching the fleeing man, turned his head and looked at her, Nayoung didn’t avoid his gaze.
Taehyuk’s mouth twitched into a brief smile.
The woman, who he had only seen from the back, was indeed beautiful.
Her fair skin glowed like porcelain, and her black pupils were refreshing and clear.
Her straight nose and round face held the elegant charm of an oriental beauty.
Taehyuk, who had a personality that made it hard to get close to anyone, felt quite an odd sensation when he saw her face.
It was familiarity.
When had he seen her before?
“That guy might come back with his friends.”
Nayoung, thinking of the fleeing man’s friends, warned Taehyuk.
“I have friends too.”
“But if a celebrity gets into a fight in a place like this……”
Nayoung, who knew that his companion was film director Cha Hyun, suddenly closed her mouth mid-sentence, realizing she had inadvertently let slip that she had been secretly watching him.
Taehyuk also noticed that she already knew about his group, and his eyes narrowed.
Unlike him, Cha Hyun had a sociable personality and was popular with girls since childhood.
He had never been jealous of that, but suddenly, he was irritated by it.
“I need to check on my friend, so I should go.”
Nayoung hurriedly moved to avoid him and walked down the hallway.
But she felt like someone was following her and when she looked to the side, he was walking right behind her.
“You go first.”
She thought he was going to his group.
“No, I’m going with you.”
Nayoung’s eyes widened in surprise.
The man’s calm gaze met hers, as if she was startled over nothing.
“I think it’s right to take responsibility since I got involved in someone else’s business.”
Is this man saying he’s going to take responsibility for me?
A statement from a man she met less than 5 minutes ago threw Nayoung into confusion.
Taehyuk looked around for the man who had been pestering Nayoung earlier.
He intended to be by her side in case that man reappeared and bothered her again, at least until they left the club.
When she returned to their seats, Seunghee was nowhere to be seen.
Nayoung hurriedly looked around for Seunghee and spotted her dancing on the main stage.
Nayoung decided to wait until Seunghee finished dancing, as she seemed to be having fun dancing with strangers.
When Nayoung turned her head, she was startled to find a man sitting in Seunghee’s place.
He was sitting on the sofa as if it was his spot from the beginning, looking at her.
Nayoung turned her gaze to the room where he had been originally, and she heard his voice.
“Cha Hyun won’t be coming.”
Nayoung, who didn’t understand why he was saying that, looked at him again.
Taehyuk teased her with a smirk.
“You look disappointed.”
Without a word, Nayoung filled his glass with beer.
“I’ll repay you for helping me earlier with this drink.”
“If that’s the case, a beer won’t be enough.”
At his words, Nayoung looked troubled.
“I haven’t received my paycheck yet, so I don’t have much money.”
“Don’t worry. I have a friend who has a lot of money.”
After saying this, he called the waiter and ordered a really expensive bottle of liquor.
glug glug glug
Staring at the amber-colored liquor filling into her glass, Nayoung swallowed hard.
She had come here to drink tonight, but never expected to drink such luxurious liquor.
Taehyuk pushed the glass of alcohol towards her.
Nayoung alternated her gaze between the liquor and his face.
When she hesitated to drink, Taehyuk picked up his own glass and drank first.
“There’s nothing in the drink.”
She didn’t know who he was, but he didn’t seem like someone who would harm her.
Could it be because his figure from behind reminded her of that Oppa from 17 years ago?
She didn’t feel a repulsion from his gaze, and she felt a sense of comfort from his voice.
The prickly thorns she always held up were gradually softening.
Nayoung lifted the glass with both hands..
Just before drinking, she looked into his eyes.
The smooth curve of the man’s smile caused a tickle in her heart.
Then, the alcohol that flowed into her body warmed her.
Only then could she truly feel a sense of liberation.
She had 12 hours left until her freedom ended.
Getting drunk was not as unpleasant as she thought, but rather, the tension in her body and mind disappeared.
And the man in front of her didn’t feel like a stranger anymore.
It was absurd but not unpleasant that she had more conversations with him, who she met for the first time today, than the colleagues she had seen for several years.
She didn’t even know his name.
Since they would never meet again after today, she deliberately didn’t ask, and likewise, didn’t tell him her name.
As long as the alcohol they were drinking together at the moment was satisfying, that was enough.
Now, she had 10 hours left of her free time.
“What would you do now if the end of the world was coming in 10 hours?”
At her apocalyptic question, the man smirked.
“Is my question childish?”
“No, it’s cute.”
Since Nayoung thought he was teasing, she ignored him and picked up her glass of alcohol.
She asked because she didn’t want to just say goodbye and part ways.
Yeah, let’s keep it moderate.
Wishing too much from a person she met and will part with on the same day was not right.
“I want to kiss.”
Nayoung, who was about to put the glass of alcohol to her lips, moved only her eyeballs to look at the man sitting in front of her.
He was looking straight at her, resting his chin.
“With a woman whose name I don’t even know.”
At first curiosity, then a protective instinct, then a sense of familiarity, and instinctively, desire.
The various emotions caused by her shook Taehyuk’s numb heart.
She was like a spark recklessly thrown into his heart.
Hi Everyone 👋, It’s my first time translating a novel so please let me know if you find any mistakes or issues with my translations. I plan to release 3 chapters each week for this novel, or maybe more depending on my free time.