(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Humming Urban Stereo – “Rainbow” [ zShare download ]
Of all the people who originally think Eun Chan is a boy, the first person to find out the truth of her gender is……!
CHAPTER 13: “Happy To Be a Woman”
Eun Chan hurriedly changes her clothes in the bathroom to get ready to go to Nak Gyun’s stall for the night. She gets her hair caught on a shirt button — and while she’s stuck trying to get her hair free, Ha Rim walks in. In her hurry, she’d forgotten to lock the door, and Ha Rim gapes at her in shock, seeing her in only her undershirt, which doesn’t completely hide her curves even with the wrappings flattening her chest.
Shocked speechless, Ha Rim doesn’t know what to do, what to say, where to look. Eun Chan tells him he’s dead if he says a word, trying to act calm, but inside she curses her luck:
Why’d it have to be Ha Rim? Of all the guys, it had to be the one who talked most carelessly.
Ha Rim panics, not knowing how to react, and Eun Chan forces herself to be calm and assuring. She asks him nicely to please, please not tell anybody about it. Ha Rim makes a big deal, partly because he’s really shocked, and partly to exaggerate and make fun of her. He babbles on in agitation:
“I thought something was weird. Is that why you wear your uniform a size larger? And I thought you were going for some kind of hip fashion. Now I get it. I’d just figured that was ’cause you were such a small guy to begin with. But man, I couldn’t tell at all.”
Ugh, hold back. Resist. If I want to keep this talkative guy’s mouth shut, I’ve gotta hold back. Why couldn’t it have been Sun Ki instead?
Han Sung arrives at the cafe, but when Eun Chan informs him that Han Gyul’s out, he surprises her by saying he came to see her. He offers her a ride to wherever she’s heading, while she tries figure out what he wants from her.
Han Sung: “Remember how last time, you asked me to keep your secret?” Instantly, Eun Chan grows disgruntled, assuming he’s going to hold that over her head to extract a favor. She doesn’t bother hiding her dissatisfaction as she shoots him a look, but he just continues:
“Set aside some time for me one day — no, one evening.”
“What? Why? You aren’t going to make me do your housekeeping, are you? I can’t do anything like that.”
Eun Chan shook her head vigorously as she explained.
“I may be a female by gender, but I don’t know how to do any of those things that women do. I can’t cook, I can’t do the dishes, I can’t do laundry, and if I clean, I end up breaking things. You saw yourself how I got fired on my second day at the bar. I had to be pretty bad for that to happen.”
“It’s nothing like that, so don’t worry. Just think of it as going on a date with me.”
Eun Chan is so flummoxed that her reaction in turn surprises Han Sung, who has to laugh. He sets the date for the day after tomorrow at 3pm. When he asks for her phone number so he can contact her, she casts him a suspicious look, not sure of his motives.
Eun Chan felt like she was entering a trap, but without knowing what else to do, she punched her number into his phone. She didn’t consider the idea that he might like her, or that might be feeling friendly toward her.
Arriving at Nak Gyun’s food stall, Eun Chan’s attention is diverted when four roughneck hoodlums burst on the scene, yelling at Nak Gyun and his father (still injured) that this is their turf. She springs into action:
Eun Chan flew into the air with a brilliant side kick, running lightly, and whirling into a spinning kick.
This kind of occasion may have been the reason she started learning Taekwondo in the first place. So she wouldn’t have to watch good, upright people victimized at the hands of others. But this was only violence in the name of stopping more violence. And so, her intention was to end this fight quickly by attacking decisively.
Interestingly, Han Sung rises to the occasion — as does his sense of chivalry — as he launches into the fray, pushing Eun Chan aside. He tells her to step aside since he’s the guy and he should be doing the defending — and is actually a pretty good fighter. (It’s kind of gallant, and a wee bit chauvinistic — but Eun Chan doesn’t have a problem with it, and she admires his skill.)
Just then, she sees Nak Gyun fighting and runs to help him — just as another angry voice enters the mix.
Han Gyul, who’d rushed out early from having drinks with Yu Ju, has arrived on the scene. He immediately joins the fight, getting punched in the face in the process, and the thugs finally disperse at the sounds of a police siren. Eun Chan turns to help Nak Gyun and his father regain order, while Han Sung deals with the police report. Meanwhile, Han Gyul hot-headedly dashes off in pursuit of the punks.
Han Gyul comes back soon enough, out of breath and exhausted. He’s got a bloodied lip and a slight limp, and sits down tiredly. After asking if he’s all right, Eun Chan turns to Han Sung, and asks if he’s okay.
Feeling grateful, Eun Chan spoke to Han Sung in a gentle voice. She wet a tissue and wiped the back of his hand.
“Hyung, what are you doing here?”
Han Gyul’s angry voice cut in suddenly. With an infuriated look at Eun Chan’s hand holding Han Sung’s, Han Gyul grabbed her arm.
Eun Chan cries out, as he’s grabbed her where she’s formed a dark bruise. Han Sung sees it and asks her if she’s okay, approaching to take a closer look, and Han Gyul immediately grabs her by the shoulder to pull her away. He insists on taking her to a hospital. Han Sung offers to drive her, and he curtly says, “It’s fine. We’ll take a taxi.”
He drags her away as she shouts back her thanks to Han Sung, and Han Gyul grumbles over why Han Sung’s there in the first place. Eun Chan doesn’t know why he takes her to a hospital further away when there’s one in the neighborhood, and instead of going to the ward for minor injuries, he drags her to get nicer, more attentive treatment. When his injuries are treated, Eun Chan’s surprised at how swollen his hurt ankle is. He, however, takes the treatment stoically, with no hint of pain.
At work, Ha Rim starts butting in to take over certain tasks, telling Eun Chan, “A guy should be doing this.” She finds his behavior annoying, but can’t do much about it, and is reminded of a phrase in a commercial that goes: “I’m happy to be a woman.”
Nak Gyun’s food stall had been trashed, requiring him to find work elsewhere, such as in construction, so everyone’s surprised when he comes back to Coffee Prince. He explains, “The boss had the food stall fixed for me.”
Eun Chan wonders about the thugs — won’t they cause more trouble? Nak Gyun: “They’ve all been caught.” (In astonishment, Eun Chan’s eyes open round, and Nak Gyun laughs: “Hyung, do you know when you make that face, you look just like a girl?”)
Eun Chan asks how the troublemakers were caught, and Nak Gyun answers that they all turned themselves in. He couldn’t believe it either, but they apparently all surrendered themselves under the condition that they wouldn’t be further charged. And on top of that, they’ve agreed to help out at his father’s food stall.
Han Gyul interrupts to bark at them to get back to work.
Like a ghost, he’d appeared suddenly. He hadn’t come to work the day before, saying he was busy, and she’d assumed he couldn’t come because of his ankle injury. But it looked like he’d been busy after all, getting those thugs to turn themselves in……
Because it’s the day of her date with Han Sung, Eun Chan asks to leave early. Han Gyul first says no, so she explains that her mother is sick. He gives her the afternoon off, to her excitement, and she thanks him with a wide smile.
When Han Sung picks her up, Eun Chan is finishing up a phone call with someone, telling him not to worry about her mother. Han Sung recognizes Han Gyul’s voice: “Eun Chan bubbled with laughter at whatever was being said on the other end. Shockingly, he could also hear Han Gyul laughing. He’d never heard Choi Han Gyul conversing so comfortably with anyone on the phone before.”
Eun Chan finishes her call, and explains that she’d lied about her mother being sick: “But now he’s telling me to take her to the hospital. He says he’ll even call them for me — isn’t that really overreacting?” Han Sung notes that it seems she and Han Gyul are getting pretty chummy, and she answers:
“Friendly? We fight all the time and yell. These days, things are pretty rough between us. We must be a bad fit. You know how everyone has chi energy? Ours must not get along well.”
As they drive on in a conversation lull, Han Sung thinks to himself:
After meeting Eun Chan at the bar, he’d thought about her occasionally. It was probably because she was so cheerful and lively. Seeing Yu Ju that night had upset him, and although he’d thought to vent his frustration with some liquor, it only made him feel sick in both body and pride. But then, talking with this girl had lifted his spirits considerably, and strangely, made him feel much more at ease. She was so fascinating, popping her bubble wrap as she laughed……
Han Sung asks Eun Chan how business is going, and Eun Chan says unfortunately it’s not going well at all. She feels bad for Han Gyul, who’d invested so much into the place. Han Sung, however, knows of Han Gyul’s arrangement with their grandmother, and suspects his grandmother is forcing Han Gyul to do this work to get him to realize he’s got a skill for it…
Han Sung wonders how long she’s going to keep acting as a male; she can’t hide it forever.
“Phew, I don’t know either. Sometimes, I want to just tell him straight out, but whenever that happens, we always get into a fight. I even wish that he’d figure it out on his own, but I’m also afraid of being caught. My mind goes back and forth.”
“He’s not a dumb guy, it’s strange that he doesn’t know.”
Eun Chan tells him it’s quite normal for people to mistake her as a guy. If Han Sung hadn’t first met her at the bar, he would’ve taken her for a male, too. Han Sung sees her point: “Sure enough, he could see her as an impish young guy, so it made enough sense that Han Gyul would be mistaken.”
Just then, they arrive at their destination — a beauty shop, where Han Sung entrusts Eun Chan to the stylist he’d called in advance. While waiting, he muses on Han Gyul’s behavior, which runs contrary to what he knows about his cousin.
Being generally disinterested in others’ affairs and behaving coolly was a family trademark. But it was truly surprising that Han Gyul would go so far as to pay attention to the health of an employee’s mother. For someone who wasn’t merely dismissive of normal civilities but downright arrogant, to engage in someone else’s business — and for that person to be Han Gyul — was a truly big deal.
Han Sung thinks, “How interesting. Things are bound to get even more interesting once we’re at the party.”
Having finished with her hair and makeup, it’s about time for Eun Chan to be picking out her clothing, and Han Sung gets up to see her progress……
/end Chapter 13.Tags: books, Coffee Prince the novel