~ Paradise ~
Like a terrible war raging inside her broken body and mind, it seemed as though two very different weathers were battling an endless fight – her dry and hoarse throat so painful that letting a moan out emitted sharp pain in her larynx, while her long legs and bruised arms felt so cold that it turned off every physical senses, leaving her numb heart dying with meaningless hot tears streaming slowly down the eyes she wanted to close permanently.
Chest flat on the solid surface, she laid down on the glacial floor with her head turned toward the only small window in the dark room. The single ray of sunshine was the only natural light that barely illuminated the surroundings, preserving her resolve to hold on to dear life. Lowering her eyelids, she pushed the remaining moisture down her cheek as the double door creaked open loudly, announcing an entrance.
Grasping onto her sanity, she asked herself a question that never found an answer no matter how many times she sought for it. Repeating it today simply renewed a weak and endless hope.
Remaining stationary in that position, she tried to silence her rapidly beating heart and bury the fear deep within. Clean and crisp footsteps made by the tapping of expensive shoes against the floor sounded like an addictive rhythm that hypnotized her into a state of nothingness, until the iron chain around her neck clattered as someone gently tilted her chin, directing an unfathomable gaze into hers.
Donning a striped suit while leaving the collar of his white dress shirt unbuttoned, he looked perfectly intimidating as always, the effect having to be credited to that pair of piercing black eyes. If he was an immortal entity, his flawless beauty could not even be compared to Adonis. Yet, like the Devil himself, his presence served as a drug and a temptation, a trapping paradise you can never wish to escape from.
Holding his breath, he turned his head to watch her intensely, the touch on his fingertips so light on her face that it felt like silk, afraid that he might shatter her with just the slightest wrong move. He would be contented just by occupying the same space as her, feeling heartbroken again as he stared into those mesmerizing glassy eyes. Had she been crying a while ago?
Understanding that he caught her red-handed, she commanded the last of her strength to turn her face away, only resulting in another piercing stab she inflicted within her body. This time, the suppressed tears threatened to spill, something she dreaded and tried to avoid. She wished she had an eraser to make all her mistakes disappear, mostly to banish her conflicting and confusing emotions towards him, or any emotion at all.
She was the one who purposely put herself in this tortured situation, when he had offered all of himself - being and soul, to creating paradise with her, with the condition that she exchanged the same terms as him, her freedom to dedicate and be his completely forever. It was such a hard decision to make, she couldn’t be happy without him, but being with him pushed her to the brink of suffocation; she couldn’t bear to give him all of herself, but abandoning him would drain all the colors out of her life.
In the end, there was only one opinion that mattered, he couldn’t live without her.
Lee Howon handled her with delicate care and treat, brushing away her disarrayed hair that framed and obscured the view of the beautiful face he had a guilty obsession with. He threw her a smile securing happiness, his eyes promising her that she would never experience any suffering once she accepted her fate to belong to him. With his built and firm figure hovering on top of her thinly-clad torso, every second was filled with lust and anticipation, with the man lowering his mouth to her earlobe ever so slowly, whispering words of love with a prominent dominance.
He made the first and last offer since he held her captive and resistant, since time lost track of itself.
“You need to live…” Hoya began to breathe huskily, hot air engulfing her shell, sending shivers up her tense nerves. Loud breaths escaped from her heavily heaving and sinking ribcage. At every possible angle, he was always showcasing his sharp jaw line, even when planting excruciating bites and kisses on the neck. She felt her body betray her, giving him her unwavering submission.
This is it, the point of life and death.
“You need to endure it, since it’ll stop soon.”
She shut her eyes tightly, silently screaming that this is a wrongful sin in her mind.
Lightly tracing her blooded cracked lips with his, he mouthed every phrase passionately against hers. His hand unknowingly slid up the bare skin on her waist, coaxing her to take in all of his intentions into her heart to be reborn, to love him more, and to see nothing else but him.
“You need to be here for it to be paradise. This is paradise, where I locked you up against your will.”
He sensed her agression growing stronger, his fear of shattering her already gone. Instead, he took her petite frame into his muscular arms possessively, reenacting out the climax to his finishing plan.
“A sad paradise where you can’t leave even if you wake up. A paradise where we can be together forever.”
She knew that it was time to give him her reply.
Imprinting his full lips onto hers, she instantly felt regenerated and a soothing pleasure, like all of the world’s goodness rained on the both of them. He tasted sweet and never satisfying like chocolate. The heavy chains rattled again as her palm cupped his cheeks voluntarily, shocking but not surprising. Finally breaking his control, boundaries and calmness when he inserted his tongue into her mouth, she responded uncertainly by dancing with his urgent lips.
A smirk unintentionally appeared on his features.
At last, he had managed to trap her in his paradise.
Sunggyu - Confining Paradise
The sleek black limo came to a silent halt in front of an ancient albeit gloomy mansion, where the first butler lined up in straight formations opened the door with his gloved hand, bowing lowly before a handsome suited man wearing a nonchalant expression on his face. The rest of the servants followed behind, bending their upper bodies and placing their hands on their chest as a formality.
A silent nod from their employee was all it took for them to return to their positions. Paying no attention to anything else except for her, he looked down at the sleeping figure cradling against his body, tightening his hold on her waist and thighs as he continued to carry her up the stairs, bridal style. Sunggyu did not care if he earned disapproving looks from the elder maids, or if it was inappropriate for him to carry the young lady into her room without anyone escorting him late in the midnight.
Nobody dared to question him when it breached upon the topic of that mysterious, mature sixteen-year old girl. The only information provided to them was that she is his younger sister he reunited with about two years ago, and that she spoke so rarely they almost believed that she was a mute. Of course initially, there were rumors and gossips circulating around the lower working class, things about how their young master would forbid them to communicate with her like an ordinary person, how he would lock her up in the extravagant room that only he was allowed to enter.
Very soon, they accepted the fact that they would never be able to solve the puzzle shrouding those two ethereal people, returning to mundane normalcy in their everyday assignments and chores to upkeep the mansion’s pristine condition.
Gently placing her on the soft king-sized bed covered by spreads made from black cotton lace, she was transcendent with milky fair skin in contrast with the dark sheets. The picturesque scene of her left him arguing with his inner conscience, since he couldn’t resist tracing a trail of butterfly kisses across the naked skin of her exposed collarbone. The foreign stimulation must have disturbed her peaceful slumber as she turned her head abruptly, a momentary frown carving on her forehead.
Sunggyu sighed and removed the pair of high heels that must have hurt her inexperienced feet during the function. Releasing her hair from little pins of diamond roses, he ran his hand through the cascading long locks, brushing his cold lips on her stressed temples. The difficult part was unzipping her binding dress, having to stop his inner demon from committing his forbidden desire to ravish her there and then.
But he loved her more. He cared for her so much that he would want her to dream comfortably. He spent sleepless nights regretting the actions and sins, only hurting her to strengthen the confinement he possessed over the girl. Once, his controllable temper wounded her during a period when she was unresponsive to him, it made him carry the guilt whenever he saw her until she started to smile at the unimportant things he brought to her in compensation – flowers, books and paintings that represented life to her.
Resting his body next to hers, he caressed her cheek gently while repelling negative thoughts and ideas. She was already his, sharing the same name and wearing his favorite color. She looked at him, because he made sure that he was the only person in her heart. Wanting to reward her, he granted her a limited freedom by bringing her out of her prison tonight. And Sunggyu almost believed that she finally learnt to love him wholly as he did, until he saw her flash her first smile towards a stranger at the ball tonight, and none other than his best friend, Nam Woohyun.
Slowly, her eyes began to flutter open, and the first thing she saw like any other time was Sunggyu’s clean face. Over time, she had learnt to spot the mood in his eyes, saving her the words for understanding him. His palm was still cupping her face, and she placed her own on top of his.
“You fell asleep.” He stated simply, commanding his voice to be as neutral as possible. She frowned at his hostile monotone. Sunggyu had an amazingly gentle and reassuring voice that would make any of her fears or panics disappear.
“I know.” She whispered in a soft voice. “I didn’t get to see the moon with you tonight.”
The twenty-two year old man chuckled deeply. He got up and picked his blazer by the armchair, back facing a dazed and confused her.
“Oppa, are you okay?” She asked worriedly, clutching the sheets wrapped around her naked body. He turned around and pushed her harshly down the bed, even the mattress could not cushion the pain she felt on her shoulders.
“Don’t call me that. I’m not your real brother." he hissed venemously. "You ask if I am okay? No, I am not. In fact, I’m angry.”
He saw the terror in her watery but firm gaze. Mentally cursing himself, he would carry on with this and torture himself later.
“I told you not to speak to anyone. I told you to stay with me, to only smile at me. Instead, you know what I’ve found? You being intimately close with Nam Woohyun.”
Both of them knew that last accusation wasn’t true. The only contact she’d made with the flirtatious man was to greet with a polite smile that did not hold any other motives. This, Sunggyu was blinded enough by doubt and jealousy to not see.
She fell silent, her lips parted halfway as though she lost her voice; her breaths stilled and being unresponsive in the heated session at that second.
He shook her shoulders intensely, boring his eyes into hers, afraid that she might leave him again. He wouldn’t have that. This prison is a paradise he built for her, a paradise that she couldn’t escape from without his permission.
Sunggyu quickly captured her cherry red lips with his, biting her tongue and massaging her bare back sensually just to ignite any spark in her. The kiss was hot and arousing, and his worries were finally gone when an unwanted moan escaped from her throat. He continued to savor her flavor, drowning in that dizzy sweetness that was unique. Her body and soul were abused in a way that she was accustomed to obey his every will. Tugging at his neatly gelled up hair gave her confidence to inflict the same pain on him, to see her stand up for her own.
If only she knew how useless and futile anything was against him.
Panting and gasping for air, he bit and nibbled on her earlobe, determined on getting his way. Her body desperately molded against his that he could feel the warmth radiating off her skin through the clothing.
“You’re mine, my paradise for eternity. So stay here, I’ll keep requesting it,because I can never send you off.”
Tears started to pave a path down her darkly-lined eyes. She tried not to wince in pain as he bruised her neck and arms.
“Love me. I won’t ask you if you do. Because you must in order for this to be paradise.”
She could only give him her already empty heart along with her body and mind, words already losing the meanings she meant to convey.
Sungyeol - Innocent Paradise
The scarce flame threatened to flicker out as the scented candle cried thick tears of wax, ending its long wick since being lit late evening. It was a cold and misty night, where the moon was blocked by heavy clouds that were evenly spread, and droplets of vapor formed a barrier between the glass windows and the forest outside. A sign that rain was about to arrive, the sounds of animals were strangely muted, causing an unnatural silence to take place.
Despite the horrid weather, wood was being fed continuously to the fireplace, trying to save the surrounding temperature from dropping any further. The young girl was glad to have her fingers numb after hours at work with the needle and thread. It made the process of sewing quicker without any clumsiness provided she kept her focus at the repeating routine. Occasionally, she rummaged through the kit for an extra pin or scissors, portraying an image of a seamstress or that of a mother.
However, there was also a certain rascal who felt mischievous, and he blew near her right ear to disrupt her concentration. She cringed and curled up with an irritated smile on her face, feeling ticklish all of a sudden.
“Sungyeol-oppa!” She reprimanded sternly.
“Hey, it’s not my fault!” he shrugged his shoulders childishly. “You’re supposed to be in bed at this hour.”
“I know,” she cut the end of the short white thread and tied it into a simple knot.
“Right on time since I’ve just finished putting your shirt together. Plus, our parents are not even home yet.”
The older boy flipped the clothe back and front to inspect her job. There was hardly a fault in the neat and tidy threadwork. Laying the material on his front, he was sure that the alteration was made to fit him. She closed the sewing box and placed it in the drawer, similar to a child putting away her toys after playing with them.
Lifting her up and swinging her around the kitchen randomly before placing her on the table top, she cut her thoughts about how playful and kiddy he was, going back to her worries and concern.
“I wonder why they’re not back yet.”
Gulping down a glass of water, she flexed her hands and blocked the yawn from her internal alarm clock, wishing the front door would open to reveal a young but loving couple back from their evening stroll. It was getting too late and the path back into their secluded and isolated home would be unrecognizable if it rained. She could already smell the mixture between soil and moisture, it was normal to be worried.
And lately, she had felt a disturbing sensation in her chest, almost as if her heart was burning at an impossibly high degree of heat that it hurt and knocked her unconscious at first. Sometimes, it froze like ice and sent shots of slow pain to her eyes from her heart, prompting her to look back as if she’d sensed that someone was watching her. Sungyeol couldn’t help but notice her being paranoid, and he couldn’t stop questioning her wellbeing for the whole week.
She glanced down at the gemstone around her hung low around her slender neck and gasped, dropping her glass on the solid floor. The small piece of obsidian was flashing light weakly with a dull color, as if warning her about danger that was coming. After all, the significance of that precious volcanic glass was not only for protection and invigoration, but also for clear vision and to see into the future.
Just then, the door finally burst open with Sungyeol taking his battle stance protectively in front the girl. His body relaxed when realization about who it was emerging from the entrance hit him. Their parents were hastily locking the door behind them while catching breaths and grabbing their gear from beside the dying fireplace. Fear and sullenness were recorded all over their young faces as they mumbled a private but incoherent discussions, making the younger ones confused and even more afraid than they were already are.
The middle-aged woman turned her head to their direction, as if their existence was only remembered when they called out with unison voices. A hand reached up to cover her mouth as she caught sight of the glowing pendant on her daughter.
“What’s true?!? What’s happening mo-“
“Stop asking questions, there’s no time to explain!” Their father put an arm around her trembling shoulders to calm her down. She was losing the grip on her prized weapon, a pair of whips that was rarely shown or used. It felt foreign to see a baker holding something as fatal and violent rather than sourdoughs and flours.
“Sungyeol, take your sister upstairs. You know what to do.” He ordered clearly.
She was dragged quickly to his dark bedroom upstairs, where only dim lights were refracted from the cloudy sky into the room that smelled like him. He left her standing dumbfounded in the middle of the space, desperately searching for equipments in the drawer she wasn’t allowed to peek into.
Her brother stripped himself of the long white cotton shirt he was wearing, revealing a thin, fair body and started to unbutton her top. She blushed furiously, feeling embarrassed that his thumb drove a line down the middle of her body. Her hands landed on his, expression obviously disgusted and disapproving.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
He looked at her longingly for more than a second before remembering his status as her older brother. Grudgingly but not complaining, he shoved his shirt into her hands and knelt down on his knees, lifting her left leg to put it through a thigh belt.
She took the order simple enough and started to put her arms through the three-quarter sleeve, trying not to shudder and balance herself as Sungyeol ran his blacksmith hands up her thighs to secure two patterned twin daggers on the belt. His shirt fell loosely around her bosom and hips like an oversized dress, concealing the weapons under the smooth material.
He slung her arms around his neck and carried her bridal style before jumping down the window of two-storey and landing perfectly. His long legs brought them up to speed wind submitted to them, generating no air friction against the two bodies.
“What’s happening, oppa? Why are we running away? What about Mother and Father?”
He turned at a corner and settled her down on the tree stump, caressing her cheeks and taking in air. Curling a strand of messy hair behind her ear, he began to speak softly.
“The Hunter is coming.” He clenched his teeth as the word escaped. “He is always after you since forever. He wants you, to dominate over you and make you his. You must never submit to him, do you understand?”
A nod was all he received.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t accompany you. I need to help our parents hold him off. Until then, you have these two to protect you.” He pressed the metal sheaths against her skin, telling her that she was fully permitted to use the knives.
“Wait here for me until we come back for you okay? And if anything happens, run and don’t look back. And if in circumstances that anything goes wrong…”
He felt an index finger on his lips, preventing him from saying what was probably the inevitable. Gently pushing it away, he knew he would, no; he needed to say it before dying with the biggest regret in his life.
“Just know that…know that I love you. I love you a lot.”
Sungyeol planted his lips on her soft ones, and she almost let the tears of joy run down her face. Her first kiss was given to somebody she known to be gentle and caring. But at the short, heated moment, she witnessed a side of him she had never seen before. A side that was passionate and sweet, as proven when he kissed her with so much tenderness, holding back his addiction and will.
He would pull back, then fight and come back. All for her.
“If only the laws of the world did not restrict us, I would create a paradise just to make you happy. A paradise filled with my love for you, even if you do not necessarily feel the same. ”
He stood up and turned his back towards her after a sad confession, ready to run and a faster pace than before when she buried the obsidian in his fist.
“This…is for your protection. Come back safe, okay?”
He threw her one of his last optimistic smiles before dashing off into darkness..
L frowned as he sniffed through the humid air, her fresh scent of pine already disappearing and washed away by the water particles. Two of them were already eliminated, and if he was not mistaken, there was only one left before he could have her all to himself at last.
Closing his eyes and shutting his ears and mouth, he let the remaining smell infuriate his senses, deciphering the path he should choose to follow. The thought of her again did not seem to distract him, as it only motivated his mind to examine the traces left behind during their great escapade. Whoever who was the last did a pretty good work in concealing his footsteps. Even with his incredibly sharp night vision, the forest was so still it looked like it had not welcome visitors in years.
He snickered to himself, shaking his own head when he thought that he was brilliant and careful enough to hide his identity from everyone else. Working undercover in the village was nice in a sense that it gave him the normalcy he longed to achieved, striving and working hard in order to buy food for his next meals. However, the best part of it was still the opportunity to observe her, even if it was from afar.
As expected, she was as pure and innocent like snow. After living for quite a long lifetime, he concluded that no women could ever outshine her in terms of beauty and personality. L took pride in thinking like that, never exaggerating his views of her. He had evidence and facts to back him up, although scenes where other young men would often gawk at her continuously during their free time irked him a lot. It was funny how she could be so oblivious. Didn’t females have an inbuilt intuition about males in them? Much similar to males, but majority of them did not show their affections openly.
Arrogance is definitely not a part of the Hunter’s characteristics. Sure, he was aware of his good looks and capability, but he never looked down on others or put himself in a very high position. On the contrary, he was rather quiet, silently thinking and analyzing before taking effective measures.
One being to hunt down his paradise that he was separated from far too long.
He stopped in his tracks as a star-shaped blade grazed across his left cheek soundly, drawing a small line in crimson-red color. The pain was like an ant bite, not harmful but irritating and hard to ignore.
Another sun-blaze shaped shuriken flew towards him, but he caught it in time before it pierced through his lucid eyes, straightening his back from his bending posture before carelessly tossing it aside towards the offender, not bothering to check whether or not it landed on his target.
“I’ve got no time for games.”
“What makes you think I do?”
A boy as tall as him jumped down from a high tree branch and landed perfectly on four like a cat. He stood up and revealed his hard but sad eyes, staring right at L while trying to calm his enraged heart, dispelling thoughts and scenes of the minor massacre. Sungyeol’s heart wasn’t brittle; he knew that sacrifices had to be made for her one day. And they too, understood that point well. The least he could do in that situation was to close their glassy eyes, solemnly thanking them for their care and love all these years.
“I should have known that it was you, Yeol.” The younger hunter spoke lowly, still using his affectionate nickname as a calling term. “I wonder what made you trade your combat knifes for these blades.”
Sungyeol’s grip on his large shuriken tightened, anger level already increasing when he still dared to address him by that alias.
“You had no right to, L. Especially since you left the Alliance to join them,” the older snarled poisonously, directing the sharp end towards him in accusation and challenge.
A frown was appearing on his face again, the earlier wound healed without leaving any visible scars. Albeit still speaking rationally, his voice was starting to raise its volume, hoping to knock some sense into the boy who was once his ally and best friend. As a boy with few words, he rearranged his many words and phrases carefully before they escaped from his throat.
“The Alliance has tricked and blinded you. Don’t you see that she belonged with us, where we could have loved her, protected her and live together for eternity? We could have given her anything she wanted. Freedom, hers and ours. All without the brainwashing of the so-called ‘Alliance’ who killed your brother-“
“Don’t you dare bring Daeyeol into this!”
“They knew our feelings for her, yet they still marked you with that curse on becoming her brother!”
The patterned tattoo on his skin singed through his blood system as he listened to L’s every difficult word. He was fighting within himself. Was he about to let L convince him and sway him of the faith he upheld for so long a period of time? Was his statement accurate and true? Sungyeol knew L. As far as his former best friend was quiet and stoic, he wasn’t a liar.
“You were once her brother too…”
“I know. That’s why I rebelled against them. Those people who killed Daeyeol without a hint of regret, those people who want to erase love from our bodies.”
This much he knew, but both still chose the wrong roads. L still chose the Hunters, and Sungyeol still chose the Alliance.
“Every bit a brother as I am to her now.”
The explainer shook his head. There was just too many confusion and misunderstandings that cannot be repaired with just a few simple verbal words. He wasn’t persuasive enough. And the sight of Obsidian hanging around Sungyeol’s neck just fueled the anger he’s been trying to suppress.
His hands reached the hilt of the black rod, weapon of choice already changing his previous tone into a much colder one, charming eyes no longer showing any mercy or tolerance. This was much more like him, a side only belonging to L.
“So be it then. Let’s end this quickly.”
The elder released a few shurikens at once, five of them gliding towards the younger as he jumped with the main one in his right hand. Although the threats came simultaneously, L knew that it was no more than a diversion for the real danger. He swiftly stopped them with his metal rod before turning around to dodge a furious Sungyeol.
The two boys were in serious battle mode as men, no more tricks or scheme up their sleeves. Regulations controlling the order and intensity were only anger, jealousy, love and confusion. The bloodlust was inevitable as one regretful Hunter and one forgotten member of the Alliance tried their utmost best to inflict pain on their respective opponent, two former brothers warring over a girl that was the centre of cause.
With a powerful blow, L crashed his steel rod on the large star weapon perpendicularly; creating a shock and strong vibration that coursed through Sungyeol’s defending hold. A last grunt was barely heard as the stronger delivered one last fatal blow, possibly ending all conflicts at last to return to her with a smile.
Myungsoo - Forgotten Paradise
Her eyes open slowly to another painful drain from her life force; jerking her head up to examine the eerie silence that conquered when she buried her face in her knees. It seemed that even without her protective charm, she was still highly alert on danger radars. Slightly fearful, she clutched on tightly to one of the dagger hidden under her right thigh as a blurry tall figure emerged from the endless dark, walking towards her steadily with anticipating paces.
A smile almost lit on her pretty face.
It wasn’t him. The boy clad in a dark and fitted long sleeved-shirt continued on with the most honest but seductive smile. His hazel-brown eyes were so hypnotizing and intense, drowning you in them that it wasn’t even funny. Referring to his sharply sculptured face as handsome would be as guilty as hurling an insult. This man was regal and attractive. Too dangerously charming.
“Are you the Hunter?” she asked warily.
He was amused by her odd blend of courage and fear. The already prevailing moon shone on her pale skin like fluorescent, highlighting her small face that masked the bravery in her green eyes and those succulent lips she desperately bit down to stop it from trembling. Looking at her up close again, she had managed to grow and mature beautifully over the years, but somehow still retained the same elegance and uniqueness.
“You might as well call me a fugitive that is unfairly blamed.”
Even his deep chuckles and baritone voice sound rich and soothing while continuing to approach her without being eager. Every front step he took, her one feet move back in synchronization. A smirk carved itself unto his curved lips as she pointed the short blade at him. Obsidian that now hung on the capturer’s neck collided with the cross necklace he wore.
“Are you going to fight me?” he tilted his head playfully.
“I am if you’re not going to answer me!” she shouted menacingly.
Of course, she hadn’t really meant that. She didn’t know combat. Her plan was to run.
“How about you remember my name first?”
In a short moment, he ran towards her at a high velocity. Her subconscious threw her body in front as a natural response, arms already swinging with the dagger. L only smiled and dodged her weak attacks, hands in his pockets and swiftly arching his exposed back and bending shoulders. He was so fast and ahead in time that he enjoyed watching her lustrous hair fly and cascade wildly as she skipped, twisted and turned gracefully, although lacking the skill in aiming and playing with weapons.
Adrenaline coursed through her veins as her body didn’t stop commanding her every move and step. She was positive she did not know how to fight. The blade even felt heavy in her thin hands when she first unsheathed it. It could not be the dagger that was controlling the flow. A smile unknowingly formed on her lips, and she didn’t know why.
The duo continued their duet in dance, and L was glad her body still remembered the moves he taught and instilled in her, limbs occasionally getting tangled then untangled. He realized he would have eternity to admire and worship her, and the first step he needed to carry out was to eliminate anything that potentially arouses his jealousy.
His hands easily enclosed themselves on her wrist and pinned her to the tree, her heaving chest pushing against his in an attempt to struggle.
“You still don’t remember me?” he teased, raising her chin for her to meet his eyes.
She blinked when she thought she was hallucinating, seeing golden swirls swimming in his iris and dilated pupils.
“Who are you?” she breathed heavily.
His free hand lifted and roamed her thigh shamelessly, pushing the long shirt up to feel her skin against hers. Her leg wrapped itself around his waist, supporting her weight as he leaned in closer, no visible space between two bodies. He avoided her question in riddles again, lips whispering lowly against her earlobe when his hand caught the other knife still strapped securely in the belt.
“How naughty of you…hiding a dangerous thing down here…” he took the dagger out, pressing his hands on her sides gently.
“And…wearing the shirt of a man who isn’t me…”
His seductive tone sent shivers up her spine, fastening the rate of her racing pulse and heartbeat. Sensing an unmistaken jealousy in his gestures, she dared herself to place a shaking palm on his face. The hot breaths and good-looking features suddenly felt strangely familiar to her.
“Answer my question, won’t you?” she asked softly.
He leaned his cheek against her hand. “I’m L, but that’s not my real name. You know my real name. Youremember the dance I taught you. You have the necklace I gave you. Please, remember.”
She closed her eyes, listening to his voice. Calming her head, she searched the archives of her memories frantically for the presence of a boy named L. There wasn’t any, but why did she feel like she could trust him, like she knew him before?
He pulled back a little, chin already leaving the spot on her shoulder. He waited again for her lips to move for some words to come out. They didn’t. L banished the sad reality of a love that isn’t strong enough to overcome a spell. Gazing into her eyes, he pressed his thumb against her bottom lip, determined to return her their memories.
Biting his tongue, he forcefully pressed his mouth against hers, enveloping her naivety with his hungry lips. She moaned and dug her fingers into his back, trying to resist and push him off. It felt wrong to be kissed so fiercely like this when Sungyeol’s condition was still unclear. Gasping as he gnawed lightly on her abused lips, his tongue took the opportunity to slip into her entrance and mix his metallic blood with hers. He knew he was tarnishing her. The boy would be selfish for once.
She felt something pierce through her head, like a glass breaking. Voices start to engulf her mind as she cringed and screamed in pain. Scenes start to replay like a video tape, too much for her to absorb. L held her and kissed her neck reassuringly, hushing and telling her that it’s alright as she howled in pain, scratching his back and making him bleed.
“Stop disturbing the touch-me-nots, Sungyeol!”
“Only because you wouldn’t play with me!”
“This is Obsidian. It’s a good-luck stone that will protect you. So, always wear it with you okay? I love you. Wait for me. I'll definitely come back for you.”
She finally said his name before passing out from exhaustion and falling onto him. Myungsoo caught her with his strong arms, waiting so long for this day to come. He eventually caught up with his paradise, he thought to himself as the necklace was once again returned to the rightful owner. The pendant glowed brighter than before before settling on a red color. Now, he could stop being L. There was only Myungsoo, her one and only lover.
Sungyeol is gone and she is here, slumbering in his arms where she belonged.
She was his again, in the past, present, future and forever.
Sleeping often invited uncanny and lucid dreams. She wandered through the space where the three walls were made up of crystal-like glass, and she kept wandering. A voice that came from beyond, she heard. A voice that calls her name softly, desperately, weakly.
It didn’t take her long to discover who it was.
Nam Woohyun was not a man who is easily satisfied. His expectations are set extremely high, only allowing sheer perfection to match his charismatic presence. When executing his orders, a hundred percent effort is definitely not sufficient. If your work is not up to par, he will simply flash that million-dollar smile with an undetected hardness in his firm eyes, voicing soft words laced with sarcasm that could fatally wound a person’s pride like a bullet. Blessed with devilish good-looks and an aura radiating sexiness, countless women had swooned under his quixotic charms and ideals, worshiping him at his feet like an idol if not a god. He had a gift with oral and body language – if he is out to make you miserable, then you will suffer until kneeling became an only option; or if fortunately his mood was as good as the weather, then you will find yourself drawn to the addictive sensation of being trapped in his paradise. Of course, the latter was a rare case.
He revered in the people’s attention, fears and praises alike embedding a dazzling confidence in his skin. Putting it in harsher but easier words, the young chairman of Nam Corporations was just plain conceited. He was so attuned to all sorts of accommodation and submission that the surprise that arrived in his leather scented office gave him a mixture of emotions, both positive and negative. He felt disappointed, intrigued, angry and mostly irked.
Keeping a colorless poker face, she stood rooted to the spot where Woohyun’s current secretary, Lee Howon ushered her to. Her face was powdered fair with neck-length black hair neatly tied into a small ponytail, hands on her sides with the left one carrying a laptop bag and a briefcase, the other clutching a black handbag no women Woohyun knew would ever want to be caught possessing.
Lying back against his enormous boss chair, he crossed one knee and casually brought his hand to his chin, the ruby in his ring reflected in his irises as he scanned her figure from head to toe, scrutinizing her professional appearance. Her sight was glued to the name plaque made of glass and displayed on rosewood, registering no sort of visible reaction like a mannequin. She must have noticed his gaze on her, but made no gesture of feeling uncomfortable. She was as static as a mannequin, and no one stands before Nam Woohyun without being cowered by awe or trepidation.
“Speak,” he commanded like a true leader. Howon took off his glasses and sighed, placing a file on his desk. He was Woohyun’s subordinate, but also his best friend, probably the only one who could get an eighty-percent score on guessing whatever the higher rank was thinking.
“She is chosen to be my assistant and apprentice. Her full details are in the papers. Consequently, she will be replacing me once your father finalizes my position in the Japan branch.”
He dreaded the idea of Howon leaving, but never allowed himself to show it. As a friend, he was patient and understanding, a good listener; as a worker, he was dedicated and precise. Woohyun would do whatever in his power to retain Howon, even if it seemed selfish preventing his job advancement. Just a delay, he thought. Primarily, his main aim now is to get rid of the eyesore that stuck like a prick. She would break soon enough, all the women he toyed with did.
“You sure she is as capable as you, in terms of mental and physical strength?” he raised an eyebrow and questioned. Mental was her ability to withstand his slave driving methods, physical was her stamina and agility to shield him from assassination attempts though it was not a necessary requirement since he has security with him 24 hours a day. Of course, Howon’s master degree came alongside with certificates in judo and aikido. And there was Woohyun’s curiosity on wanting to intimidate her.
Howon looked to her and nodded, signaling for her to give a reply.
Her full lips that were painted in crimson red pursed into a small smile, head bending down gracefully for a curt but respecting nod. She made sure he would never forget her low but smooth voice, his eyes slightly widening as she made her guarantee of skill and efficiency.
“I assure you that I am competent, sir.”
The next few weeks passed on like a blur, with her senior flying to Japan to settle affairs and Woohyun utilizing every single sap of energy in her to run errands and complete assignments. He overworked her after office hours, making ridiculous requests of her to accompany him to dinner with clients and handling work from company branches of different countries until the wee hours. Still, she did not utter a word of complaint much less show any sign of exhaustion or exasperation. She knew that one tiny mistake would grant him the opportunity to fire her, and she couldn’t afford that. Nam Corporations offers an equally high pay as her job and responsibilities. She needed the money to pay off the loan she got for her tertiary education.
So she remained calm and indifferent, only thickening the foundation she applied under her eyes to conceal the black rings forming rapidly. It was his way on getting back at her when she did not immediately quit the minute he suggested it the first day she came to his room. Quite frequently, Howon called on her to check progress. On most occasions, she never did answer since she was required to put her phone on silent when she was with Woohyun. This was flexibility he deprived her of, besides overloading her with tons of work and taking up her private time. Howon quickly grasped the situation and only texted her words of encouragement. There was nothing he could do. Any words in defense would only tighten Woohyun’s sadistic hold over her.
In the meantime, the demon took joy in making her life a living hell. He purposely treated her in many ways unlike how he treated his old friend. There was something he enjoyed in watching her resist, pushing boundaries to break that icy mask of hers. She was simply fascinating as she sat in front of her office desk at twelve midnight, fingers typing away while sipping coffee that ran cold. Woohyun noticed she left her pink fingernails short and not manicured, always wearing the same pair of high heels and cheap conservative suits that did not compliment her body. He wasn’t the type of man to be impressed and amused by a woman who didn’t know how to dress, or maybe he’s been playing with too many sluts to admit that she was classy and beautiful in a very raw and exotic manner. She had stunning features, one of the most unique being her light-colored eyes. Another thing was that she never stuttered even in stressful environments. Her voice was as mellow like a cello’s tune, an attribute rare in women.
Kind. She was too kind to people. Too kind to him.
He smirked to himself. Maybe it was time to break the rules and turn the game up another notch.
“I would like to take you out for dinner.”
She looked up at the source of the sudden interruption. The building was already empty, leaving the surroundings eerie with the soft winding noise the laptop’s motor made. Blinking once, her eyes were about to close and drift off to another short sleep. Woohyun was leaning towards her, blazer draped over his shoulder while sitting on the mahogany table, his face dangerously near hers. His eyes landed on her lips and lingered, already hungry for her taste; his ears eager to hear undulating moans escape from her mouth.
Her right leg kicked the carpeted floor instinctively, causing the chair she sat on to roll backwards. With a measurable distance between them, she felt more at ease lowering her head to hide the obvious blush that formed on her cheeks. He was a renowned playboy, and the fact she kept reminding herself that did no effort in helping her regain composure. No, Nam Woohyun was too dangerous for her involvement.
“It’s alright sir, I’m fine,” she answered crisply. Desperately digging for files at her drawer as a façade, she needed to convince him that she still had a lot of work to follow up as a legit reason. In actual truth, she pretty much finished everything. And he hadn’t increased her pile in a long time.
He placed his fingertips on her chin and tilted her head up to meet his eyes. She thought that he was gorgeous with a face sculptured by God himself, a personality as alluring and evil as Satan. The tension in the air grew as he found a glint of fear in her eyes, the very first one since he met her in the beginning of time. The corner of his lips curled up in a smile, feeling the excitement of satisfaction. He spoke with such a low volume that made her toes cringe in anxiety. This was his weapon nobody could ever resist – seduction.
“Just take it as a reward for all your hard work. You’re still coming, because I never take ‘no’ as an answer.”
He drove his BMW to one of the hotels he owned, with her still strapped securely in the passenger seat. None were conversational starters as she was secretly timid inside, and he was planning a scheme to bring her to bed tonight. She looked out the window most of the journey, admiring the city lights and quiet streets. He stole glances of her, seeing buried innocence and a home in the nineteen year old. Woohyun imagined her smiling with him, playing in the meadow he used to love when he was young with their children. It was funny how his brain was altered to function now. He never pictured a future where he would set up his own family with any women he’d been before. His own parents betrayed one another by cheating with ever-changing companions. Their marriage was a political one and as long as scandals were avoided, they were free to do whatever they want with whomever they want, free to be strangers.
Growing up in a cold household like that, one couldn’t possibly expect him to trust women. Or trust himself in return.
They proceeded to dine in a suite. At this hour of the night, all sections including the lounge were closed. The servants bowed as they brought out mouth-watering delicacies, preparing a bottle of alcohol under Woohyun’s order. Eating in silence, they sat opposite each other and soon finished their meal. Grateful, she made sure she thanked him for delicious food she hadn’t had for months. Woohyun smiled back a genuine smile, an automatic reaction from watching the dimples formed on her cheeks. Her eye smile made her look so much younger and prettier than she appeared to be.
He swallowed a gulp of saliva, dismissing the guilt building in the back of his heart as he uncorked the bottle and poured the content into a wine glass. It was nothing strong to him, but he knew she had a weak tolerance for alcohol. That was probably the only defect he could spot in her otherwise flawless resume and profile.
Too late, he already pushed the half filled glass towards her, swirling the maroon liquid in his own.
“A toast, to your excellent performance and my approval of your acceptance into the company.” He announced proudly, convincing her to take a whole shot down her throat. A few milliliters of wine was already enough to make the blood rush to her head, feeling warm and tipsy but still holding on to the brink of consciousness.
He poured for her again and raised the glass, draining it completely into his system. She did the same, not wanting to anger her employee. Drinking seemed to raise her blood temperature a several degrees higher and she cooled the skin on her throat with cold fingers. The sight of her flustered was driving him crazy, and he was sure she was going to pass out at her third until a cold voice stopped him from continuing.
“What is your motive, Nam Woohyun?”
It took her all of her strength to voice these few words out. She couldn’t care less now if she was making a mistake by addressing him informally. He chuckled at her semi-drunken state trying to steady herself on heels to walk towards the entrance. It was inevitable that she would fall and he caught her by the waist. She shoved him away, refusing his help. She had a funny feeling on what was going on now, and she felt stupid for falling into his trap.
Woohyun did nothing to finish his plan. His expression was already pained when she pushed him away. The second time she was about to fell, he caught her wrist in time again, and she dropped her handbag to deliver a weak blow he managed to dodge easily. In a sober state, that punch must have been meant for his protection, not hers. However, she didn’t know that while Howon was skilled in both judo and aikido, Woohyun had an extra taekwando to add to a longer list of martial arts including those.
“Would you stop being so stubborn and let me help you?” He shouted with a worried tone, pinning her body down on the bed, letting his whole weight rest on hers. She glared at him with a heaving chest, still panting with a venomous comment that came out in broken breaths.
“I-I should- have known…you…you…would treat me…like those-“ she mumbled her phrases incoherently while stopping the tears from falling.
“Like those girls…you toyed- and slept with.”
Anger shot through his eyes like an adrenaline, her accusations surprisingly hitting the bull’s eye on his heart with a sharp arrow, a reverse situation on what he was used to inflicting upon others.
“I-I-don’t need a man…a boss like you-“
Her cries were muffled by a desperate and savage kiss, leaving her only a split nanosecond to breathe before her mouth was conquered once again by his dominating lips. Despite her hands constantly beating against his chest, he was too blinded by desire to stop them; already forming a rhythm with the duo’s racing hearts. One of his large hands stilled her face against his, while the other continued to unbutton and undress her skillfully.
She moaned involuntarily when he inserted his tongue in her, struggling to breathe as Woohyun imprinted his burning desire even more prominently by licking and sucking fervently on her neck, labeling her as his. She didn’t have the voice to scream and shout, moans and grunts already emitting from the pleasure he so generously presented. As he planted a second more chaste and slow kiss on her, her body responded on its own by returning the favor. Instantly, she knew she lost the battle against the lust-driven man.
His collared shirt was already unbuttoned the moment they broke apart, revealing a well-toned chest and firm abs. Woohyun placed his hands on her cheek and collarbone, never expecting the night to turnout this way.
“You-“he started to whisper huskily, breaths ragged and uneven.
“I don’t need a woman who couldn’t even protect herself-“
“I tell myself-that I need to dispose of you…because you were becoming a damn threat-“
She watched him cover his forehead in shame, hair wildly tousled with veins pulsing around his bobbing Adam’s apple.
“Fuck. Why did you have to be so perfect and indifferent…why did you had to fucking invade my every thought-“
Frowning at Woohyun’s profanities, she snaked his arms around his neck kissed him softly and gently that he froze. He expected her to toss him, curse him, probably knee him and call him crazy. Instead, here she was doing the unexpected, forgiving the manipulative and torturing bastard he was. He licked her bottom lip before feeling them quiver, feeling her pull away her hands that buried in his hair.
“I know you’re dangerous. And I can’t take the risk with you."
“You’re cruel, you know. Saying this when I already reached the limit of not being able to live without you, when I need you, when I lov-“
He felt a finger pressed against his mouth to silence him.
“Until I know I can trust you, that it is a safe paradise for the both of us. I will wait for that moment, and then I will be ready to listen to you say those three words…”
Woohyun nodded silently, closing his eyes to vision a spring where she sat among the blooming flowers, inhaling the deep scent and calling his name lovingly. It was a happy paradise they both deserved. And it was not far away.
Dongwoo - Blissful Paradise
The sinking sun painted the blue skies a harmonious blend of orange and yellow, relinquishing its twelve-hour throne to welcome the moon. As air start to condense causing the atmospheric temperature to drop a few degrees lower, the snow mimicked by beginning to cool and cover the earth with another thick layer of white ice. For such a divine yet simple phenomena, nobody in the castle seemed free or observant enough to enjoy the change in natural scenery. All were busy applying finishing touches and coordinating errands for the upcoming banquet to be held in approximately three hours. It was sure to be a chaos in the kitchen, where the problems originate not from the level of lavishness for food, but the credibility of fresh blood supply for perhaps hundreds of vampires.
Jang Dongwoo released a short sigh when he saw a lump of snow falling from a tree branch. The man was probably the only one to notice how cold tonight will be. He closed his pair of sharp and intimidating eyes slowly, trying to rest his mind and prepare himself for the event tonight. Crowds and social functions were not his cup of tea, added if they were in honor of something he dreaded. The only factor that convinced him to attend anyway was because it was her birthday party. He groaned further at the thought and rested his forehead against the frosted glass window. Birthday parties mean the attendance of suitors vying for her hand and attention. Deep down, he hated that kind of interaction. But he kept his secret well hidden, and people can barely spot jealousy in Dongwoo even when the most desperate situations happen. It was buried and disguised behind the gummy smiles he flashed quite frequently.
She stepped out of the screen divider made of oak fully dressed in a plain sleeveless white dress that flowed just below her knees. The sheer material defined her poise and grace, enhancing her resplendent look she already possessed. Dongwoo understood that she did not favor extravagant and complicated patterns, always opting for something that was comfortable in her own skin. The clothes didn’t matter to him. Her wearing something monotonous only brought out more radiance and beauty. Lying flat on one side of her king-sized bed, a frown appeared on her face as she motioned for him to join her, looking at the empty plastered ceiling together.
“Is everything alright, Your Highness?” he questioned curiously, trying hard to keep his distance and eyes away from her. He was quite intoxicated with her lavender-rose scent, and the way her eyebrows arch to show her slight irritation. Her voice was always soft and stern, but she never shouted even when she was angry or unhappy.
“I thought I told you to drop the formalities, Dongwoo.”
He switched into a gentler tone, tracing shapes on the bed sheet to distract himself whilst continuing their conversation.
“It’s reality in the form of words. You’re royalty and I’m just a guard appointed to keep you safe.”
“Hmm.” She replied tiredly. “But we’re best friends before that remember?”
Dongwoo didn’t answer her question.
“Happy birthday by the way.”
That short congratulatory greet seemed to stimulate some humor in her serious self. She let out a short laugh that sounded like bells to his ears, quite contrasting to his type of unique laughter.
“You wished me twice already today. I don’t know how many more I can expect to receive.”
“Then the third time’s a charm isn’t it?”
There was a silent pause that took place shortly as she shifted her head nearer to his muscular arms. Although there was no physical contact, she loved the warmth that radiated from his body. It was so soothing she wished she could continue to sleep in his embrace as they did when they were younger. Growing up just created more barriers and restrictions between them, status and gender wise alike.
“So, you’re going to tell me what’s upsetting you?”
“It’s my parents. My intuition tells me that they’re hiding something from me. They’re not revealing it no matter how hard I press them to.”
She snorted and rolled her eyes, sarcasm hinted in her next sentence.
“According to them, it’s a surprise.”
He attempted to mask a high-pitched laugh with a hiccup to no avail. It sounded more like someone was choking. Dongwoo couldn’t believe how childish she made of the king and queen, as if she’s older than them by centuries.
“Hey, that’s not funny!” she poked his arm playfully, making him clutch his stomach to contain his laughter. Silly best friend, she shook her head, always laughing at the easiest things.
“What bad stuff could it be? It’s your birthday right? They probably ordered cake made out of frozen blood in the shape of a blood platelet.”
She winced at his lame suggestion. “That’s disgusting Dongwoo, even for a vampire.”
He was still glad he made that joke. At least it decreased the frown lines on her face earlier, putting his worries away.
“And there’s also this issue about dresses. I hate it when they try to force me into something exposing and tight. I know that it’s pretty and all but-”
“Don’t worry, you’re beautiful.”
She blinked at his comment. This was the first time he complimented on her appearance so bluntly it might have been at the slip of the tongue. Her ears might have heard wrong. Both cleared their throats to dispel the awkwardness.
“You’re always beautiful no matter what you wear is what I meant.”
Turning her body towards the dressing table with her back facing his, she thanked that he couldn’t see her red cheeks. She couldn’t fathom how a single praise from him can affect her to this extent.
“Thanks. You always know what to say.”
Night fell and the party officially started once the maestro started to orchestrate music that filled the halls with celebratory melodies. Skitters of chatter and chats were scattered among the groups of vampires, an underlying tune below the songs played by musicians. The servants were going around the compound offering blood cocktails, which the guests gladly accept before carrying on their topics. Everyone was having a great time except the brooding knight standing in a corner, measuring a distance exactly one feet from the mingling vampire princess. She was a little cold towards strangers, however still generous with her polite smiles when majority of the upper class wished her a delightful birthday.
She felt bad for leaving Dongwoo alone. He reminded her that duties are her priority, and that she must forge good relationships with the others to ensure support during her reign. It was funny sometimes, how he would have the same mentality as a human. Her never-aging parents would most certainly rule for another few centuries before letting go the throne. Time was never constraint, always plentiful for the undead. There was no need to rush for things that will eventually fall to place.
As the people in front of her began to disperse, her eyes desperately searched for him. He must have been super bored, and he hated it when other girls gather to whisper about him. Being under the constant watch of women made him fidget a lot. It was an inbuilt reaction in him she noticed since her parents started throwing balls and parties that require both their presence. She used to tease him about it a lot. When he grew even taller and handsomer every year, she finally realized what the women saw in that fine, chiseled facial feature and broad shoulders.
A tap behind her shoulder was enough to wake her from her train of thoughts. The expectation of finding Dongwoo’s impatient face was replaced by another man as good-looking as him. The statuesque figure had an even taller height than Dongwoo, towering over her petite body protectively. His eyes were subtly lined with black, the dark color that he wore as attire. She kept herself from frowning at the familiar acquaintance and gave a curt nod, the only sign that this person was of the same level as she is. She wasn’t fond of him, even if he was supposedly a kind-hearted vampire like she was.
“Prince Ellison.” She greeted respectfully, taking one cautious step back with her high heel.
He smiled charmingly and returned the favor, taking her reluctantly outstretched hand to his lips. The exact picture was captured by Dongwoo’s careful eyes after being momentarily distracted by the duchess. He clenched his fist tightly to inflict the all negative pressure back towards his own hands. Watching Eli Kim kiss her hand and at the same time becoming the hot topic of surrounding whispers wasn’t fair to his temper. The suitor prince continued his light advance on the princess, smile never leaving his face. Dongwoo could only be an audience and look, walking away after a few seconds.
“Happy birthday,” he repeated with much sincerity the line many people had said before him.
“Thank you, Your Highness.” Her response was stiff and professional that he didn’t take much of it into account. A happy chuckle escaped his lips. He really liked how she incessantly fails at loosening up.
“I told you it’s fine to just call me Eli.”
Countered by her own words, she felt uneasy and embarrassed at the people staring at their every move. From the corner of her eye, she caught the queen making a gesture towards her. Relieved in the chance to escape, the young girl excused herself and walked towards the main table rather hastily, unknowing that the prince trailed a little behind her. Her joyful father raised one hand as soon as she reached what seemed to her like a long runway, ordering all present to remain quiet. Dongwoo leaned towards an exit with his arm crossed, anticipating the king’s speech.
“To all my loyal subjects, friends and family, I am sincerely grateful for your participation in my beloved daughter’s birth anniversary. I am also pleased to announce the engagement between her and Eli, crown prince of our neighboring country. I am sure that their happy union would serve as an inspiration to improving the relation between two great nations.”
The reticence that followed was deafening until cheers and claps lead by the rulers erupted vigorously like a sleeping volcano.
Eli couldn’t stop smiling lovingly at his betrothed, bowing at his future in-laws for approving his marriage proposal. He had fell for her since the first time they met at his castle two years ago, and now she was going to become his wife.
The shock couldn’t register out of her mind, until her right hand had to grip the fabric of her dress softly to stop the trembling. This must be the surprise her parents were planning. This one year of turning older came with a package she didn’t want – a suitor, a fiancé, and Eli Kim no less.
Her eyes quickly scanned through the large area for any trace of him. That dirty-blond mixed brown hair, those fierce eyes, nothing. It was as if he disappeared into thin air.
He didn’t. The boy simply ran to the back garden where it was filled entirely with snow, drowning himself in the numbness. Maybe they could freeze the tears that were going to overflow, or freeze the love he harbored for her since long time ago. He couldn’t expel the image of the royal couple out of his head. Mostly, it was one of the crowd’s remarks that lingered in his head like a warning siren, driving him mad and frustrated.
“They match each other perfectly, don’t you think? Such a beautiful pair.”
He hated to admit it, but nothing could change the fact that it’s reality in the form of words.
The knight need not look up to know who the source of that voice was. He practically lived off her essence until her voice, smell; touch became a part of him. She came out for him without draping a jacket over her fair arms, obviously worried about him more than her parents’ wrath if they found out she wasn’t in her own birthday-turned-engagement party.
“Sure, I just needed some air. It was getting stuffy inside.”
The optimistic tone was too artificial. Anybody would have known that wasn’t a genuine reply.
“You’re such a bad liar, Dongwoo.”
She took off the pair of annoying stilettos and settled her red feet on the ice, shuddering at the abrupt change in heat. He immediately lifted them and rubbed against his own bare hands. Although vampires don’t get frost bites, too cold or too hot wouldn’t be healthy for the body.
“Aren’t you cold?” he asked a little louder than the volume he meant to use. She looked up to his eyes and smiled sheepishly, pulling her knees back to her chest.
“It’s colder inside.” She whispered.
“Who’s the awful liar now?”
He waited for the finger poke that never came. She was still curled up like a snail, rocking herself on the dry stone pavement. It took all of him to muster up a little courage to confront her on that issue. He had to do it. It was the least he could say as an old friend.
“Congratulations…on your engagement.”
The air suddenly turned solemn with her motion turning static. She wasn’t hiding her face anymore, expression completely serious as she gave her opinion on that matter.
“The king and queen decided my marriage without consulting me. I guess it’s unavoidable, being my commitment to my people and country.”
“Hmm.” This much Dongwoo knew. She even used their official title to emphasize her point of view.
“However, my parents are never going to have a say in who I am supposed to love. My heart is mine alone to give to that certain somebody one day.”
She didn’t say anything for a while. He thought he saw her cheeks blush.
“You, Jang Dongwoo. You haven’t given me my birthday present yet!”
His heart could have stopped once again if he interpreted her sentences separately, the first three phrases as an answer to his question. Sighing, he pulled out a small box from his pocket and passed it to her. She untied the ribbon curiously and gave him a look before opening the cover.
It wasn’t a luxurious gift or jewelry. Just a small, red heart-shaped glass vial the right size to be a pendant with a necklace attached to it. There were two wing-like structures jutting out from the side of heart shape until her eyes widened when she noticed the symbol and meaning in his gift.
The crystal heart was infused with his blood, giving it a crimson color. Plus, it wasn’t wings sticking out after all, but an infinity sign encircling the heart itself.
In the old times, vampires used to gift this pendant to their other significant half, pledging their soul and love in a simple form that represented vow and promise. Custom changes over the years, and vampires now adapted the human practice of exchanging silver and gold which are much valuable.
“Like what you said, my heart is solely mine to give too.”
He leaned in to fasten it around the neck slowly, taking an opportunity to kiss her passionately on the lips. They took time molding against each other perfectly, enjoying blissful warmth that surged through their bodies. Both feelings were reciprocated.
“Even if I don’t say it, you know right?”
Music started to play once again, a mellow and romantic tune that was coincidentally their favorite. The piece’s full name was extremely long they decided to derive only one word from it.
“May I have your first dance?”
She looked down grudgingly at those heels again before he lifted her by the waist so that her feet landed on his. He moved to the sound with her legs stepping on his, wrapping her arms around his neck as they kiss again to the first falling snow of winter.
Eli tightened his fingers around her wrist as she started to leave after showing him the direction of the guest room. What should have been the happiest day of his life turned opposite the moment he decided to step out to look for her. He was compassionate and merciful as a vampire prince, but concealing and controlling jealousy may just be the weaknesses that cause his downfall. She was his, declared officially tonight.
“I’m sorry.” She bowed lower than usual. Guilt was building up like a toxin in her throat. He should have gotten the message.
“You’re mine, as I am yours right?”
She bit her lip; her heart had underestimated his degree of love for her. A love that would manifest into an obsession if she didn’t so anything. But what could she do?
“Good night, Prince Eli.”
He let go of her hand, giving her a threatening warning as that very same hand reached for the doorknob.
“If you do, you’ll lose me too.”
She exited the room briskly, never turning back to see the expression on his face.
Sungjong - Sweet Paradise
The blow of breeze playfully tickles the back of her bare neck as she brushed her long wavy hair to rest on one side of her shoulder. It was a windy and beautiful evening with the setting sun painting the sky a surprising blend of orange, blue and purple. Taking sweet time when unbuckling her sandals, her feet stepped onto the cool and soft trimmed grass to experience the moist combination of earth and dew. Closing both eyes with both hands behind her back, she cleared her mind and let the fresh air fill her body with a reenergizing amount of almost pure oxygen. Relaxation was definitely something she needed after a whole week of hectic schedule and work. The smile on her full lips just grew wider as she heard the rustling of grass increasing its volume.
He whispered his greeting into her ear and softly pecked her smooth cheek. Rushing to her from his last college class of the week, strangely, there was no sweat or any obvious hints that he had been running in a high speed to the top of the hill. Still, he had a pair of extra long legs that might have aid him in that movement. She opened her eyes and smiled generously at him as he pulled her down to the ground to settle beside him at the trunk of the willowy oak tree.
Straightening the long flowing cotton skirt that was her fashion trademark, she sat down comfortably with bent legs parallel to each other. Unashamedly, he rested his head on her lap, still wearing his nerdy-glasses and staring right up through it at the cloudless sky, the dancing tree leaves and the serene face of his girlfriend. To him, she was transcendent and incandescent, illuminating his path whenever he meets darkness. The memory from that day was still fresh in his mind, when she saved him from falling into drugs and gangsterism in a back alley. Her fingers were tightly clenching the sides of her school skirt as she defended him from burly and vulgar men, his bruised and bloody body unable to move. His first image of her was the shadow of a girl’s frame under a blinking street light, helping him sit up and wiping dirt off his face with a detergent-scented handkerchief. Luckily for her, even gangsters seem to have a moral code for assaulting women. Before finally fainting, he truly thought an angel had decided to descend and stay by his side.
Awkward with his words, he expressed his feelings to her directly in a clumsy state using blunt words after that fateful incident. Mistaking it as gratefulness, she shook her head embarrassingly and laughed softly when telling him not to worry. Hastily wanting to redeem himself, he started interacting with her every single day without fail, trying to provide protection and be her knight in shining armor against any threat or danger.
Well, judging at this moment now, it looks like their feelings soon blossomed over time. As individuals who enjoyed each other’s presence tremendously, she began to accept his role in her life as more than a best friend.
“You’re tired, Sungjong.”
He chuckled at her concerned expression before shrugging her worries off although he knew it was futile. She was terribly street-wise and alert about even the slightest approximate change. Wearing the glasses no longer blinded her to the dark rings forming under his naturally puffy eyes and the dry tears that threaten to spill over lack of sleep.
“No, I’m not.” He reassured while patting her right hand in a steady rhythm.
Yes, you are. She almost wanted to argue. Instead, she understood him better. He could be a real diva sometimes. Releasing another sigh, she gently stroked his hair and attempted a topic in conversation.
“So, how was class today?”
College syllabus was nothing to him or her, it was the workload piled on them by the lecturers and professors that wears them out. She taught him to plan and enjoy studying instead of labeling them as burdens since she was a more organized person than he is. As two of the few top students in campus, of course there were high expectations set for them.
“It was fun.”He answered simply. “I teased L-hyung about being more of a nerd than I am since he’s always visiting the library.”
“You really are like a child, Jong.”
“That's because I'm still one! But you love that about me, don’t you?”
She smiled for the thousandth time, something about her curving lips that brushes his heart.
“How about you, sweetie?”
“The same. I’m really glad it’s a weekend tomorrow though.”
He raised his right hand weakly to brush off a few silky strands of hair obstructing his view of her. Suddenly, his eyelids felt heavier than usual. Mentally cursing, he commanded his body only to pass out when he reached home later, on his single-sized bed. Blaming natural factors like the cool weather and the underlying dark tone of the sky for making him sleepy did not seem to do him any justice. She was already removing his glasses and placing her cold palms to close his eyes.
“You need to sleep, Sungjong.”
Stubbornly pushing her hand away to intertwine her fingers with his, he shook his head and held her and over his chest. She blushed furiously and tried to peel her hands away from feeling his racing heart.
“I don’t want to sleep. If I can, I never want to sleep. Eighty-six thousand and four hundred seconds a day just isn’t enough for me to be with you. If I can, I would spend every second of the day with you, doing the things that you enjoy and making you laugh and smile. Sleeping robs me away from consciousness, kidnaps me away from thinking about you, and making me regret I did not spend more time to know you better, to know all of you.”
Raising an eyebrow quizzically, she accidentally flashed her row of perfect white teeth as she muffled the laughter that threatened to fill the silence after his cheesy confession. There was disappointment in him, half of it was because he thought that she did not take him seriously, the other half was because he could almost hear her ringing laughter, his favorite sound in the world.
“Since when did Lee Sungjong become a romantic poet?”
He covered his face with his big hands before settling on his expression.
“Hmm, let me think. Was it since my stingy literature professor awarded me the highest rating he’s ever given for that poem I wrote in dedication to you? Or was it since I noticed my girlfriend loves to reread classics and Shakespeare instead of gossip magazines?”
“Okay, okay, I get the picture. Still, I don’t want you to have more white hairs compared to a fifty-year old man!” She blurted out while giggling. Thinking for a few seconds, she came out with a witty reply in response of his earlier outburst.
“But you have to sleep, Jong. Sleeping doesn’t mean that you’ll lose me. It only reunites us in a dimension where only both of us exist, where only both of us matter. If you sleep soundly, we will definitely ward off our nightmares hand in hand, and eventually meet again in a place of sweet dreams.”
“Now, who’s the greasier one?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“I'll save that title for Woohyun. Just shut up and sleep.” She clapped two hands together, pleading hard.
“I will.” He let out a last heavy breath and closed his eyes. “Just sing for me.”
He did not heed her warning or gave any answer. He never heard her sing before, but somehow he knows it will be a lullaby that will give him a sound sleep with sweet dreams of her, even if the song she was about to sing was a sad song. His guesses apparently turned out to be true, as her melodious voice tuned in harmony with the sound of wind and leaves, smell of flowers intoxicating him when she planted a light kiss on his forehead.
Teaser 1: Secret That Lies In Blood (Dongwoo - Blissful Paradise's Sequel/Spin-off)
There isn’t anything more in the universe he wished to see except for those colors. How peaceful the world will be if everyone had shared his perspective, to see that the clouds and snow are simply white, the withered leafless trees a pure pitch black, and the skies a balanced grey of both. No complications in which color represented joy, or which color hinted death. Just the existence of two pigments that complete each other will be sufficient. To live oblivious to life’s complex colors would reduce so much pain and regret. He wanted black to drown out the red sea that flowed around him, and white to cover the scenes he knew he could never forget. They were the blissful shades he definitely hoped to be reborn anew in.
The young boy was brought to one of the stone pavilions located in the castle’s biggest garden. As the ground and statues were covered with water in its solid state, the absence of animals only hinted their early migration or long hibernation. The surroundings were as dead and silent as the child’s non-beating heart. He registered the area’s condition quietly; unable to decide the feelings he had for this place. It was difficult to experience anything, even the thrill of being in a foreign site ever since the day he lost it all. He moved like an object, being ushered around politely by a man probably around his late-twenties with no questions asked. Almost similar to a soulless mute.
A woman approached them hastily with concern while looking behind her shoulder cautiously. She had auburn hair that was styled in an old-fashioned bun, a few strands escaping as she rushed to the duo. The queen bent down and placed wrapped her warm hands around the boy’s cold ones, flashing him a genuine smile albeit the frown that creased her forehead. He accepted her gloves wordlessly and held on to them, although it was her intention for him to wear them to obtain some feeble warmth. A shook of head from the man that brought the boy was all it took to halt her good intentions.
“Is he the last one then?” she whispered under breaths that created mists in the air.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” The man simply bowed, taking another look at the peculiar boy standing a few feet away, staring blankly at the black gloves in his palms.
Her head was a piece of blankness, falling into an abyss of faint insecurity, excitement and uncertainty. She was sure she couldn’t find a part of her that was appealing, be it her body or body language itself. The studio mirror reflected an unabbreviated version of the young girl that was straight and capable in specific fields like academics and domestic housework. Sitting on the smooth floor of a dancer’s practice room made her feel incredibly useless and out of place. Once, the art of dance was a subject that fascinated her inner desire. She fantasized about her emotions being expressed through music and movements, but she had reality to entertain in the form of her practical mother that did not encourage her to pursue that sweet dream that seemed like a hindrance.
There was a time where she longed to hear the echoes of songs bounce back from the walls and generate friction on the even ground with the constant variance in her leg motion. Now, she needs all of this fondness to return and lend a helping hand. If written words were as efficient as verbal flattery, then dance would be also be aggressive like sex in seduction. This was a challenge proposed by the leading group and her other comrades were eager to win the game. The dare was accepted and she was the chosen one to carry it out. To put it in simpler sentences, she was supposed to infiltrate the enemy’s lair during their party and obtain their flag and golden crest.
She looked up at the two boys discussing something intensely with low voices a few feet away from her and suddenly felt guilty. Hoya shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if saying he’s already done his best, which was exactly what he did. Although he was not panting heavily, the sweat that glistened under the light where his black tank top exposed skin was evidence of his effort for the past few hours trying to teach her how to ‘dirty’ dance. Since his roots of origin was hip-hop, that didn’t go quite well. He looked like a polished dance crew member attempting to play it down. The fact that she was still stiff and awkward around him didn’t help speed things up either. Watching videos on the Internet, they found it a little too extreme. After all, they were just high school students with a streak of mischievous competitiveness.
“She needs to loosen up. She’s too uptight. He’ll definitely suspect something if she approaches him like that.” Hoya suggested.
She winced when she heard that even if it was a well-intended criticism. She would try to be an actress. She knows how to, just lacking a little tip and advice to complete her armor before entering the group’s area tonight.
Dongwoo sighed, closing his eyes for a brief second. “Does it really have to be her? Can’t we find a substitute for replacement or something?”
“Unless you’re suggesting to cross-dress and offer yourself for the assignment, there’s no way any girl in our group would be able to handle him. Plus, that Sungjong might be able to sniff you out in a heartbeat; you are a man after all.”
A blush appeared on the elder’s face as he laughed nervously. The other apparently did not share his amusement.
“Besides, Sungyeol’s already appointed her and getting the dress and make-up. And you know how he feels about change of plans.”
“But she can’t do it either if she feels uncomfortable!” Dongwoo protested again. He had offered her a few pointers in learning the basic club dances, but couldn’t do anything about breaking her out of her comfort space. He was kind and wouldn’t want her to do something she disliked.
She took in a deep breath, deciding that she’d heard enough. Victory was also something she wanted to win badly for her teammates. Maybe it was time for her to turn a new shell.
“I’ll definitely do it. And I’ll complete my mission.”
Fortunately, her voice wasn’t wavering, though it was not very convincing. As Dongwoo was speechless and didn’t know what to say, Hoya walked over and stood with his arms still crossed. His dark eyes were watching her from above, scrutinizing he newfound courage and determination skeptically. She met his glare with an equal one.
“What makes you think you can seduce Kim Myungsoo when you couldn’t even dance properly?”
No offence was taken, but her pride was scraped off a little. She stood up intimidating even when his height was obviously towering over hers. Screw Hoya’s poker face and his confidence that she lacked. She only needed to equip herself with the courage to reassemble a dance that will make all men fall on their feet.
She placed her long fingers on his bare shoulders and pressed, feeling the crests and trough of his muscles. Her heart was beating at a higher frequency, pumping blood to her cheeks and neck. She hoped that he didn't notice the slight blush. After all, she was still relatively new to this. Trying to banish all sorts of shyness, she tiptoed to position her lips just inches away from his right ear - near enough to feel her breaths, but not near enough for physical contact. The cap he wore served the purpose of concealing his facial expression from her view, but she didn’t necessarily need to see to practice her stunt on her teacher.
“Just you see,” she whispered with the slightest hint of playful vengeance. “I make drastic improvements when provoked.”
OLDER | NEWER
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Hey there! Welcome to my Purple Love Bloggie Annyeonghaseyo ! My name is Kamaliah Kamal . You can call me Hyunmin , Eomma or other as long as I can accept it Don't be rude here ! Or I will Killed you ..Hehehe~ Just kidding !
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