Coffee Prince Chapter 11: “This Is How Much Our Store Has Changed”
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Vanilla Unity – “Dreamer” [ zShare download ]
Once again, it’s interesting to see how the drama has taken elements so closely from the book, but has used them to such different effect and in such differing context. I think I like that effect; it makes some of the reading familiar, but not repetitive.
There isn’t as much romantic interaction in this chapter, but at least there IS a little — enough to tide me over to the next chapter, at least. These chapters do have a way of leaving you wanting more at the end — just like the drama.
CHAPTER 11: “This Is How Much Our Store Has Changed”
The cafe has its grand opening, after all the renovations have been implemented — painted walls, matching patterned tables and chairs, a computer terminal, a mini-garden. However, although the Coffee Princes give out free coffee to lots of passers-by out in front, they find that not many actually enter the cafe itself.
Eun Chan nearly runs into a newly arrived guest, and apologizes, acting the part of attentive server. When she looks up at him, however, his face registers a flash of recognition, which triggers her own. Instinctively, her face breaks out into a smile, before she remembers how she knows him — it’s that guy!
“Bubble… bubble wrap…”
At that, a faint smile appeared on the man’s face. Eun Chan felt a sense of fear at what his recognition meant. This man knew Go Eun Chan’s true gender. Even if he unthinkingly happened to call her “miss,” it would all be over for her.
Adding to her uneasiness is the realization that the bubble wrap man seems to be on familiar terms with her boss. She fidgets, trying to figure out what to do, when all of a sudden, Han Gyul’s face brightens. Yu Ju has arrived. She’s dressed in stylish, expensive clothing, has long hair, and looks pure and lovely. And she seems familiar, somehow…
Straining to continue observing the scene, Eun Chan talks with Mr. Gu, who’s dropped by for the opening, and uses his presence as a cover to listen in on the odd trio. Although Han Gyul looks happy (now that Yu Ju’s there), bubble wrap man and the woman are awkward with each other: “It seemed they knew each other, but their expressions were lukewarm.”
Yu Ju brings a gift — a wreath made of bean-like berries strung together in the shape of a star. Han Gyul notes that Han Sung also brought a red-colored wreath (in the more traditional flower form): “You two must be on the same wavelength today.”
Eun Chan watches Han Gyul take her present to hang:
He hung the wreath on the glass entry door with a satisfied expression. It hadn’t seemed empty and lacking, but once he hung it there, it looked much nicer; it created a lovely ambiance. But seeing him smile at that woman soured her mood immediately. It would hardly take any effort to put together a little thing like that.
Han Sung makes an early departure, citing a meeting as his reason for leaving. Still nervous at what he might say, Eun Chan reacts late, and runs after Han Sung as he’s approaching his car. As soon as he calls her “miss” — thankfully out of anyone’s earshot — she claps her hands over his mouth and shushes him.
“Please don’t call me miss. I… anyway, I have a reason for it. Right now, I’m supposed to be a man.”
The man wrinkled his brow, then immediately nodded his understanding. He had appeared smart to her, and it looked like he was in fact quick on the uptake.
“It’s pretty amazing you managed to trick Han Gyul. He’s a pretty sharp guy.”
He admits that the first time he saw her (the incident of Yu Ju’s purse-snatching), he thought she was a guy. Even now, knowing she’s female, Eun Chan does appear to be male. She answers, “I hardly ever look like a girl to people…” Han Sung has a nicely worded reply: “Then I’m lucky to have witnessed that rare occurrence.”
Eun Chan pleads with him to please keep her secret, and he teases her by pretending to have to “think it over,” before he offers his quid pro quo — if she doesn’t mention having met him before, he won’t let her secret out either. Thankful for his cooperation, Eun Chan expresses her gratitude:
“Oh! I won’t say anything. I didn’t see a thing. I didn’t see you staggering along because you were drunk, and I didn’t see you throwing up either.”
Eun Chan sees her mother with a expensive, brand-new scarf and immediately scolds her. She doesn’t believe her mother when she says it was a gift from a friend, having heard that too many times before. She can’t believe her mother would be so frivolous, knowing how they’ve got debts, and that every bit of extra money should go to helping Eun Chan repay the debt (that she incurred to help her mother).
After launching into a tirade about being the family’s workhorse, Eun Sae cuts in and tells Eun Chan that she’s jumped to conclusions. It really was a gift — from Mr. Gu. Abashed and feeling sorry for yelling at her mother, Eun Chan apologizes. Still, there’s something strange in the back of her mind — why would Mr. Gu be buying their mother expensive gifts? Was he going to ask a favor of Eun Chan?
With the cafe opening behind them, the Coffee Princes find themselves with an empty cafe and nary a customer. On a warm, languid late-spring day, they’re all are listless and bored; they haven’t served a customer in the last fourteen hours.
Ha Rim suggests to Eun Chan that they hop on over to a nearby basketball court — a game’ll wake them up. Eun Chan hesitates — what if Han Gyul came back to see them gone? — but Ha Rim assures her they can just say they stepped out for a minute to go to the store.
Leaving the others to mind the store, they play some one-on-one. Out of the blue, Eun Chan hears the familiar sound of a motorcyle and sees Min Yub arriving at the court:
How is it that the guy would appear just when you forgot about him?
Not even bothering to entertain his demand for a real, man-to-man (ha) fistfight, Eun Chan instructs Min Yub to play as her substitute against Ha Rim while she rests. Furthermore, he’d better do well, since she’s bet Ha Rim a meal on the game:
“This is man to man, a battle of pride. Take that slick-looking yellow-haired guy over there and crush him. Okay?”
Then, suddenly, she feels a thwack on the back of her head. She turns to see Han Gyul, and thanks her lucky stars she didn’t curse aloud as had been her impulse. Han Gyul accuses her of corrupting the younger Ha Rim in taking him out with her to play hooky, but she convinces him to play a game with them. As incentive, she tells him if she loses, she’ll dance the Jjang-gu dance (a silly butt-shaking dance based on a cartoon character).
Han Gyul accepts, and they play two on two (Eun Chan and Min Yub versus Han Gyul and Ha Rim). Surprisingly, Han Gyul is better than she thought. She loses.
After the game ends and Min Yub takes off (without a word of goodbye), Han Gyul stares after him, and suddenly recalls why he looks so familiar. Eun Chan hopes for dear life that he doesn’t remember the exact circumstances (that Eun Chan went easy on Min Yub when he tried to rob Yu Ju), and prays:
“God, please make him forget. Take Min Yub’s image from his memory and wipe it away.”
As Han Gyul approaches, Eun Chan does the best she can to avoid the topic by shoving her head under the faucet that they’ve been using to wash off. Han Gyul tells her to stop before she gets herself sick, and she realizes, when the water soaks her head and the upper part of her shirt, that she’s made a mistake — the water makes her chest bindings much more noticeable. She prays he doesn’t notice.
Instead of noticing, Han Gyul just admonishes her for being careless, and hands her a small handkerchief to dry her head off with.
The handkerchief was much too thin and small for drying off her head, but still, she was moved by the gesture. Carelessly wiping off her hair with the handkerchief, she got up. Next to her, she heard the sounds of Ha Rim’s laughter.
“Oh, you’re even sexier when you’re wet! We have to add this to the definition of ‘Eun Chan-like’ — to give off a sexiness that charms men even while being a man.”
Han Gyul tells Ha Rim and Eun Chan to come along — he’s got a Jjang-gu dance to watch — but just before, he stops and turns to Eun Chan:
Before he started walking away, his hand reached out toward Eun Chan. It was just for a moment, but his hand brushed her jaw before falling away again. He’d wiped away a drop of water from her chin, but something felt odd about it. Eun Chan stopped in the middle of wiping her hair with the handkerchief.
Why’d he wipe the water away? It’s my chin. But my heart… my heart’s racing. Her heart had held up well over the past twenty-four years, but this was a sound she hadn’t heard before. The sound rang in her eardrums… Thump-thump-thump… thump-thump-thump…
/end Chapter 11.