“Let’s try this on.”
“Can you try this on too?”
“Put this on top.”
“That’s nice, too.”
“Ba Da-ssi. No matter how I look at it, aren’t we buying too much?”
Kim Ha Neul could not hide his embarrassment when he saw a department store employee following behind him. It was because both of his hands were full of shopping bags.
Even though the staff had already been replaced once because it had overflowed, Kang Ba Da shook her head firmly.
“We haven’t even gone halfway yet.”
At first, she asked Kim Ha Neul to choose on his own, but he chose the same black T-shirt and jeans that he wore today. So, Kang Ba Da went out by herself.
From then on, Kang Ba Da had been asking him to try on all the clothes that caught her eyes. In stores that were quite sensible, she simply bought everything the mannequins were wearing.
“I think we’ve bought all the clothes I can wear for the rest of my life.”
“Even though what we bought today are only seasonal clothes?”
Kim Ha Neul’s expression seemed genuinely embarrassed. Just by looking at him, the clothes she had bought felt worth the price.
As her lips kept wriggling wildly, Kang Ba Da quickly turned her back.
‘…But really, I’m in trouble.’
Kang Ba Da clearly knew what kind of thing she was doing. Nevertheless, she couldn’t stop.
The eyes of Kang Ba Da swept through Kim Ha Neul. He shuddered at that gaze, but her eyes remained unfazed.
‘…Everything looks good on him!’
This was the problem.
Kim Ha Neul could pull off any style, including casual, street, modern, classic, dandy, and minimalist. She was going crazy wondering how far he could take it.
‘These are all his clothes, but how can he tell me not to buy them!?’
She wondered if this was the blinded-by-love situation that people often refer to, but when she tried to exclude such feelings as much as possible, his overall body proportion was quite good.
Once he put something on, it was too bad to take it off, so she dragged him to the next store like that.
‘…I’m gonna look like a crazy shopper, right?’
In fact, she usually only buys one or two pieces when she comes to the department store and rarely buys in bulk like this.
Of course, she had her own justification. Even at a glance, Kim Ha Neul didn’t seem to have much to wear.
‘I’m sure there are only a lot of those black shirts in his closet.’
Such doubts were inevitable because Kim Ha Neul was wearing the same clothes as the last time she saw him. Besides, he had also picked out similar clothes at the department store.
‘Even if I look disgraceful, I shouldn’t stop.’
If she bought enough clothes to wear for each day of the week, he would dress up next time just to show his sincerity. She was buying everything with that in mind.
‘I didn’t have a boyfriend, not money.’
She had been scolded by people around her for living too frugally. They said she had to spend as much as she earned so that the economy could move.
By the way, she had a boyfriend now. It’s much better to use money like this than to buy a lot of clothes that she wouldn’t use and leave them in the closet.
‘Still, I bought them quite frugally.’
She considered Kim Ha Neul’s character as much as possible. She only chose clothes that could be easily mixed and matched and that could be worn for a long time.
“At least let me pay…”
“It is a necessary expense. Ha Neul-ssi, you can wear anything when you’re alone, but you can’t do that now that you’re my husband. Otherwise, our group will be criticized.”
“Still, it’s a bit too much.”
“Not at all. It is rather not enough.”
She knew it was a ridiculous excuse even if God thought about it. However, even the coat Kim Ha Neul was currently wearing cost 1.5 million won.
Although she selected quite popular brands1Popular brands tend to be cheaper than exclusive luxury brands that only the high class know and use. because Kim Ha Neul seemed to be burdened, the price would be considerable by his standards.
‘I don’t want to cut his pride for nothing.’
She bought it for him to dress nicely, but she didn’t want to see Kim Ha Neul become timid because of it.
“Then just buy this much. There’s no place in the closet anymore.”
“Didn’t you hear what Chief Park said earlier? It’s a long-awaited holiday, but since they came out for us, we’ll have to take care of that much, so…”
Suddenly, Kim Ha Neul grabbed Kang Ba Da by the shoulder. Surprised by this, she raised her head and immediately made eye contact with Kim Ha Neul.
‘Th, this distance is dangerous!?’
The scent of the perfume she had sprayed earlier was mixed with Kim Ha Neul’s body scent, showing off its presence like crazy.
A sweet yet dangerous scent permeated Kang Ba Da’s nostrils, soon spreading through her veins and throughout her whole body.
“This is enough. Got it?”
“O, okay. So, this, please…”
As if it was not an intentional action, Kim Ha Neul quickly widened the distance. Kang Ba Da was very embarrassed that she felt fortunate yet also had a sense of regret at the same time.
The dizzying smell of perfume continued to linger on the tip of her nose, disturbing her mind.
‘Wasn’t he a bit too cool just now?’
This was enough.
The way he spoke resolutely felt anew. Wass this what people call the reverse charm, ‘Lose in the morning, win at night’2낮져밤이. Abbreviation of 낮에는 지고 밤에는 이긴다. I put a literal translation. I think you can guess the meaning of it, hohoho. A kind man at day, but a real man at night. Although Ba Da used this term referring to the reversal charm element, it’s also a sexual joke, so it can be offensive. that she had only heard about?
‘…Is it okay like this?’
She had heard that men get bored quickly if women seem too easy. If you looked at novels, wasn’t it time to play hard to get at this point? Kang Ba Da’s mind became more and more complicated.
* * *
After many twists and turns, the shopping was finally over. As I returned home, a sigh of relief escaped my lips. I nearly collapsed into my seat, feeling the tension in my body dissipate.
‘Just how much did we buy?’
Those didn’t even fit in the trunk, so she even arranged the remaining clothes to be sent by courier after selecting some clothes to wear right away.
I’m not an idiot.
Despite Kang Ba Da picking them out as if she were casually shopping at a grocery store, I was well aware of the value of these clothes.
‘Even just what I’m wearing right now…’
It would cost twice as much as all the clothes I had ever worn in my entire life. If I were to sell them on the secondhand market, I wouldn’t have to worry about living expenses for a while.
If she hadn’t mentioned that the employees received bonuses for every purchase we made, I would have reduced the number of shopping bags by at least half.
‘Although spending a lot of money could be mutually beneficial.’
People like Kang Ba Da should spend money. After all, the amount we spent today would probably find its way into her bank account while she slept.
As a human being, it felt good to wear luxury items I had never dreamt of wearing in my life. However, there should be a limit to it as well.
I took a deep breath and calmed my racing feelings. After folding the clothes neatly and organizing them, I took a shower to clear my head.
As the water poured over me, I pondered over the events of the past two days and contemplated the future direction.
‘First of all, Ba Da-ssi is…’
That’s what I thought when I saw her in front of the subway station. The sweet scent tickled my nose, and the soft feeling when we crossed our arms…
‘No, this isn’t it!’
I quickly shook my head to dismiss those thoughts. I almost had a very embarrassing physical reaction.
It’s a normal thought and reaction for a man in his mid to late 20s, but I had witnessed people being consumed by their instincts and ruining themselves.
In a world where even non-existent evidence can be fabricated, I couldn’t afford to let everything go wrong because of a single mistake. I had too much on my shoulders for that.
‘Didn’t she also move Father’s hospital room already?’
She was a woman with a really impressive execution power.
The urgent voices of my parents, who were desperately looking for me, still echoed in my ears.
– My gosh, Ha Neul. What the hell is this? Suddenly, a man in a suit comes and moves Father’s hospital room to a magnificent place!
– …Oh yeah?
– Because it is! I heard that you won the prize by writing our story, but you can’t just believe it in this world these days. You’re not doing anything dangerous, right?
At the time, I was in the middle of shopping with Kang Ba Da. When I turned my head slightly, she overheard the call and smiled brightly.
It was very scary because it was like a smile that meant ‘Your family is already in my hands’, but I couldn’t bring myself to express it openly.
– It’s not like that, so don’t worry. You can just stay comfortably. They said they will cover the hospital bill until Dad is discharged from the hospital.
– Oh yeah? Really?
– My gosh, that’s a relief. You’re a filial son. A filial son! You should have told us in advance if there’s such a thing.
It was only then that Mother’s voice brightened again. My anxiety wasn’t completely gone either, but if I showed my anxiety, my parents would be even more worried. I forced myself to speak in a more confident tone.
At that time, Kang Ba Da, who had been eavesdropping on the call, suddenly touched my hand. When I glanced back, she formed a word with her lips.
…I almost screamed back then.
The memory of somehow ending the call by swallowing those words passed through my head.
The stream of water wet my body. At that moment, I had an urge to also soak my hair, but I couldn’t bear to do it because I was afraid the perm would come off.
How long had I been like that? I slowly woke up from my thoughts. In the meantime, I had clearly grasped the situation I was in.
‘Yeah, I’ve already stepped into the abyss.’
Like the “Princess Maker” game that was popular in the past, I became the main character inside Kang Ba Da’s game.
But it was truly horrendous that it happened in reality and even on a larger scale. Anyway, it’s definitely the path I had chosen.
Death was the only way out of this game.
But if I persevered, everyone would be happy.
‘Kim Ha Neul. You jerk. You’ve got really lucky.’
When I went to a hillside slum and an orphanage to research materials for a web novel, I came back empty-handed after going with a big heart.
It was because I thought that I would not be able to digest their fierce lives as mere entertainment.
There were many people in the world who never come across an ‘opportunity’ in their lifetime. My fear of this situation right now was like a child whining about side dishes.
‘Yes, as long as my family is happy.’
That was enough.
What more reason was needed.
I turned off the shower and stepped out. After changing clothes, I immediately sat down in front of my desk and switched on the computer.
As I habitually visited the web novel serialization site, I was slightly taken aback. Because the notifications had piled up.
Of course, there were at most 20 notifications. For an unknown writer like me, being blessed with even two or three notifications a day was enough to make my heart race.
‘…Did it attract wannies?’
Wannabe writers often refer to themselves as “wannies” in an ambiguous way. Many of them turned evil after failing to monetize their work multiple times.
These evil wannies would relieve their stress by leaving malicious comments on other writers’ works. I had experienced it a few times before, so just the thought of it made my heart pound already.
“Whoa. But I still have to check.”
No matter how strong one’s mentality was, it was really rare to find a writer completely unaffected by malicious comments. Sometimes, it hurts more to have one’s child cursed than to be cursed at oneself.
That’s why many writers chose not to read the comments at all. However, I tended to accept them humbly, considering them as feedback.
Taking a deep breath, I checked the notifications with determination. As I read through the comments, I froze for a moment.
[All the best.]
[Please write well.]
[Why is there no next chapter???]
What’s this hot reaction?
All comments were favorable. Even ‘Wind God Warrior’, who was called one of the guardian spirits of the web novel site, left a comment.
“…And did I even get sponsorship?”
[Title: Imperial Princess Sent a Donation~]
: Imperial Princess sent the Writer a donation with a warm heart. If you cheer up and write good content, I think Imperial Princess will like it.
Of course, this was not the first time I had received it. However, the limit for common sponsorship was 500 to 1,000 won. But this person sent a whopping ‘ten thousand won’.
‘Is this the happiness of 10,000 won that I’ve only heard about?’
It was an amount that couldn’t be settled right away, and even if it could, it would disappear in one meal. However, that happiness simply couldn’t be expressed in money.
It was really thrilling to feel that my baby was recognized by others.
“I have to write right aw… Hm.”
I was trying to type on the keyboard in excitement, but my gaze suddenly landed on my phone. Naturally, Kang Ba Da came to mind, and her words were replayed.
– Take good care of your health.
– Make sure to come out in full condition tomorrow. I’ll let you drive yourself then.
Maybe it’s because I took a shower for too long.
When I looked at the clock, it was already past 10 p.m.
After thinking for a while facing the monitor, I eventually turned off the computer and picked up my phone. Shortly after, I clicked on the chat room that was pinned on the top.
: Ba Da-ssi, did you get home safely?
I sent a message carefully, but the number ‘1’, which means that the message was read, did not disappear.
‘Is she sleeping?’
She must be tired after walking around for a long time. Whatever the reason, she had worked so hard for me, so it’s right to say thank you.
: Thank you for today.
: I will wear the clothes well around.
When I actually sent it, I thought it felt too rigid. After much thought, I decided to make a bold investment.
: [Sticker of a man throwing a thumbs up]
As a picture went in, it definitely became less stiff. The sticker was purchased with a huge discount, so the cost-effectiveness was doubled.
‘This should be enough.’
I lay on the bed with a satisfied smile. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to sleep even if I died, but I felt like I could fall asleep today somehow.
* * *
“Huhuhu… I knew you’d be like that.”
Checking all Kim Ha Neul’s messages from the notifications, Kang Ba Da’s lips ascended to heaven.
‘If I check them right away, it’ll look like I’ve been waiting, right?’
But that shouldn’t be the case.
After all, dating was about playing hard to get.
Kang Ba Da, who decided to honestly admit her love for Kim Ha Neul, completely changed her approach.
– Ba Da, you’re a member of Daehan Group. Even if you develop feelings for someone in the future, you should never give them the upper hand.
The second Unnie’s teachings that she heard one day echoed in her mind. Kang Ba Da believed those words made enough sense.
In a relationship, the one who liked the other person inevitably ended up losing more from the start. However, if you let yourself be constantly dragged along, the other person would quickly grow tired of you.
‘That should never happen.’
Love was nothing but the action of hormones. Biologically, eternal love couldn’t exist in this world.
However, there were some aspects that could be controlled. If you understood the principle of love, you would be able to have a happy married life with each other.
‘This Noona will seduce you!’
Still, it was the first romantic relationship in name and would be the last one with a high probability. So, she wanted to get a confession from Kim Ha Neul at least once.
Thanks to this, she desperately suppressed her desire to answer quickly and turned on the ‘airplane mode’. Even if she went into the chat room in this way, the ‘1’ wouldn’t disappear from the other person’s screen.
“…What did this mean?”
The content of the message was okay.
The problem was the emoticon sent after a while. A man raised his thumb and slashed his neck. A gesture similar to a murder notice
‘Di, did I get caught!?’
Did Kim Ha Neul draw a line after noticing her heart? Did he notice that I was playing hard to get? Or did he notice that I’m ‘Imperial Princess’?
‘Could it be that the sponsorship amount is too small!?’
There were too many corners that she felt guilty about.
Having a complicated mind, she eventually couldn’t stand it and turned off airplane mode. Her hand became urgent as she tapped the phone.
: Ha Neul-ssi?
: What does this mean?
: Excuse me?
However, the ‘1’ did not disappear no matter how long she waited. She didn’t think he would be sleeping at this time because of his insomnia. But, why was there no reply?
Tak tak tak!
Biting her nails, Kang Ba Da ended up staying up all night that day.