Author: nicotine

“…Ah, yes.”

“Have a good night.” As I responded like that and watched his retreating figure without turning back, I stood frozen for a while as if nailed to the spot. I couldn’t understand why he suddenly reacted that way. I was very curious about what he wanted to say. Even amidst this, I couldn’t uproot the budding hope and anticipation in my heart.

Despite knowing I shouldn’t speculate or predict Jung Yiyeon’s actions, his hesitation only added to my confusion.

Suppressing the urge to hold onto him was incredibly difficult. Even a slight relaxation might have prompted me to call out to him. And it seemed like an explosion of declarations of love would burst forth.

To avoid begging for love and clinging to him, I had to grit my teeth.

I needed some time alone, but I knew that being by myself wouldn’t help me overcome the emotions; instead, I might sink deeper into depression. Concerned that I might go crazy thinking repeatedly about Jung Yiyeon alone, I decided to join the group of guys who were making noise in the group chat. It was an excuse to avoid Jung Yiyeon, but a commitment to meet was still a commitment.

They were guys I used to hang out with during my college days, along with Jaeoh. After Jaeoh moved to Busan, we rarely met, so seeing their faces was a reunion for me. There were five of us in total. We used to hang out well during our college days and lived our own lives responsibly, except for the guy working as a teaching assistant in graduate school. We all had different universities, but the commonality was being part of the LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t know from the beginning, but as I got close to Jaeoh, I revealed my identity, and we occasionally hung out together. We had known each other for quite a while, and we became friends, watching each other go through ups and downs.

“Hey, Lee Nan!”

“Are you already drunk?”

“It’s been so long, man. Jaeoh, who lives in Busan, has to gather us once in a while, right? How come.”

“We’re busy, what can we do?”

Being with these noisy guys made my heavy heart feel a bit lighter. I hoped to momentarily forget my troubled mind in the midst of their commotion.

Even though it was time for dinner, those who had already opened the drinking session before my arrival had faces reddened by a few rounds. It was Wednesday evening, and there were still two more days before the next workday. Despite this, Jaeoh was laughing heartily with a flushed face.

“Aren’t you all going to work tomorrow? Why are you drinking so much?”

When I made a sarcastic comment, they burst into laughter. The guy sitting next to Jaeoh, Taehoon, looked at me with a cheerful face.

“I contacted Jaeoh, and here you are. Hey, did something good happen?”

“What’s that?”

“Well, now that Nan’s here, let’s talk openly.”

My mood was already in the dumps today, but why did it suddenly feel like my luck was going down the drain? Well, I thought it was better than feeling depressed, so I looked at Taehoon with an attitude of watching the cheeky bastard.

However, suddenly, Taehoon got up from his seat and grabbed the champagne that was sitting quietly on the table. He started shaking it as if he’d gone crazy. Bang! The sound accompanied the popping of the cork, and white foam splashed out like a fountain.

“Congratulations! Seo Jaeoh finally got hitched!”

“Whoa, did he confess to Lee Nan? Finally? And got hitched?”

…Ah. I can’t believe I walked into this lunatic gathering.

I came here because my heart felt tangled due to Jung Yiyeon, thinking I shouldn’t be alone, but it seems I’ve just played into their hands. It’s a meeting that’s sure to become an act of treachery because of Jaeoh.

But making serious matters laughable in front of the involved parties was quite a talent. Jaeoh was pretending to cry dramatically, which astonished me even more. Watching these lunatics, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I have someone I like.”


Looking at their shocked faces, it was even more bewildering. I have no idea why it’s such a shocking thing. If they hear that I’m suffering because of an unrequited crush, they might faint. It’s as if they know I’ve developed this crazy possessiveness.

“Who is it? Who could possibly be liked by Lee Nan?”

“Is this guy making excuses?”

“Jaeoh, do you know who it is?”

“How would Jaeoh know?”

They were making noise and chatting without realizing how painful and frustrating this situation was for me.

But strangely, watching these fools made me feel oddly relieved. Since everyone was joking and moving on, it almost felt like it was nothing. While being alone would have made me dwell on painful thoughts and overthink, exposing it felt like a relief.

“Laugh, laugh. Especially since it’s an unrequited love.”

“What did you say?!”

As expected, they all screamed in surprise.

They all knew I didn’t engage deeply in romantic relationships. I had never even mentioned liking someone. Even when rejecting others, I’d casually say I liked someone else as an easy excuse, but I had never lied like that. Instead, when asked if I rejected them because I had feelings for someone else, I’d bluntly say I got bored of them.

I had never even experienced having a crush on someone, let alone unrequited love. I didn’t know I’d be oscillating between heaven and hell several times a day because of the person I like, doing explicit things at the office because that person seemed upset, and despairing over the fact that they don’t like me back. Even now, my heart is genuinely throbbing. I feel like I could die to have Jung Yiyeon.

So, the guys who watched my foolish behavior from a third-party perspective would surely be astonished. Their reactions were as if they’d seen a ghost.

To these reactors who react well, maybe if I tell them about my situation, whether it’s for comfort or ridicule, wouldn’t it make me feel a bit relieved afterward? Perhaps getting advice could help me figure out how to proceed.

I’ve never sought advice about love from anyone before, but realizing I might need that now suggests my state of mind isn’t great. However, I wanted to ask others about Jung Yiyeon’s actions, which were utterly inexplicable to me.

Why does Jung Yiyeon treat me like a lover? Why does he show such affection when he doesn’t even like me? If that’s just a feigned affection, then why send a gift to Min Seowon? A birthday present for a friend’s little sister?

Yet, he clearly found Min Seowon, who showed affection towards him, annoying. I distinctly remembered him being annoyed and coldly cutting her off. I even felt a bit of smug superiority. And then, I dared to have some faint sympathy for Min Seowon, thinking that could soon be my situation.

But now… Jung Yiyeon, why? Why Min Seowon?

The fact that I wasn’t the owner of that bracelet was now irrelevant. It was just my misconception heating me up a bit. Thinking that he doesn’t love me was heartbreaking, but looking at Jung Yiyeon’s gaze and actions towards me, I could deny that there might not be no affection.

But why Min Seowon? What’s there to be thankful for? Or what’s there to apologize for? Anger was now directed towards Min Seowon, and the accurate name for that emotion was jealousy. Actually, there hadn’t been anything other than jealousy from the beginning.

Maybe it’d be better to just ask straightforwardly and confess my feelings. But I was afraid that doing so might even ruin this purely physical relationship. Tired of having the same dilemma and unable to find an answer, I wanted advice.

“If it’s an unrequited love, so what? Tell me more.”

“If I tell you, what then?”

But it was hard to just open up because even speaking about it hurt too much and hurt my pride. I knew too well that what I was doing was foolish…

“I kind of know who it is.”

However, when Seo Jaeoh uttered those words, I couldn’t help but stiffen.

“Wow, Jaeoh, do you even know?”

While others responded with intrigue, I was taken aback. I thought I misheard.

The person I like doesn’t even know I like them, yet Seo Jaeoh seems to know? I found it hard to believe.

Seeing my surprised face, Jaeoh smirked. “It can only be unrequited love. You’ve fallen for a straight guy, that’s why.”

“What… nonsense. What do you know?” First off, Jung Yiyeon is 100% gay, not straight…

“That person you like, Jung Yiyeon, right?”

My tongue stiffened from the shock. I couldn’t manage my expression. While others chuckled and chattered, Jaeoh continued.

“I can tell at a glance. The way you look at that person is different.”


For others to notice to such an extent that I’m looking at Jung Yiyeon with a special gaze. That wasn’t true. I pride myself on hiding and enduring it well. I’ve packaged everything as being because of my role as his secretary, managing even my expressions.

Also, who is Jung Yiyeon? He was clearly someone who said not to like him, who drew the line from the start, ruling out any thoughts of a relationship. If he knew I liked him to the extent of being unsure of what to do, he’d have completely cut me off to ensure I didn’t hold any lingering feelings. He wouldn’t have behaved like someone training another person.

What I was certain of was that I had observed Min Seowon by his side. I saw how cold and ruthless he could be. Sure, the gift of the bracelet was unexpected, but it was clear his expression wasn’t pleasant when leaving the office with Min Seowon for a meal.

…That couldn’t possibly be just fishing for attention, right? My heart skipped a beat at the plausible speculation. Sometimes, I still wondered if Jung Yiyeon overheard what Hyung said about us that morning. Was he pretending not to know despite hearing and knowing everything?

“…? Yes, Secretary Lee. Do you have something to say?”

“Ah… No, it’s nothing.”

Suddenly, he furrowed his eyebrows and asked me, and I quickly raised my head. He stumbled over his words. Lost in my thoughts when I was alone, I found myself lost in my own world, facing his face. It was too distressing.

“Drink moderately. It shouldn’t affect your work.”

“…I’m sorry.”

I hardly drank. Jaeoh’s unexpected comment left me bewildered, so I curtly dismissed the topic, then swiftly left. Although Jaeoh’s bombshell left me feeling dizzy, I was perfectly fine.

However, today’s Jung Yiyeon was oddly abrasive. He displayed a slightly furrowed face and a strange sense of annoyance, which surprised me. Could something have happened while I was out drinking with Jaeoh? No, it was the same behavior he had been showing since yesterday.

Unable to manage my overwhelming feelings after Jung Yiyeon gave a bracelet to Min Seowon, I couldn’t help but scrutinize Jung Yiyeon’s expressions, despite staggering under Jaeoh’s bombshell. I couldn’t help it. My affection for him wouldn’t stop.

I’d rather straightforwardly ask everything. Why did he seem upset? What was he doing with Min Seowon yesterday? How he viewed me… However, I couldn’t utter a word. I couldn’t make rash judgments now. I knew that any thoughts, even hope, were futile. Knowing I’d only hurt myself by nurturing hope…

I had to flee from that place as if running away.

Jung Yiyeon had a lunch appointment with the bank manager, so he left the office. I tried to accompany him, but he refused. Left behind, I had lunch with the secretaries. Since we didn’t usually work together much, there was an explosion of interest directed at me.

I joined them because I didn’t want to be alone, but I regretted not eating alone after going for coffee after the meal. Especially when Park, a secretary, didn’t seem tired and brought up the topic of blind dates.

Secretary Park hadn’t done anything wrong to me, but I found her awkward. Whenever I looked at her, I kept imagining her delivering the bracelet to Min Seowon. Someone like her casually talking about blind dates didn’t sit well with me.

Despite my feelings, I had to spend the entire lunch hour with them. Everyone lamented the short lunchtime, but I was relieved when it ended.

On my way back, I spotted Jaeoh smoking in the smoking area. It was uncomfortable running into him, but our eyes met, and I couldn’t avoid it. I wanted to quickly separate from the people in the secretary’s office. Moreover, I felt like having a cigarette myself.

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