(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Toy – “바램” (barem) . Old-school in that distinctive, classic kpop-ballad style. [ zShare download ]
CHAPTER 14: “Cafe Latte, Soft and Warm”
Eun Chan arrives at the party with Han Sung, amazed at her transformation but slightly encumbered by her new feminine accoutrements. She feels the hem of her dress swishing around her legs, soft and cool. It’s the first time she’s ever worn anything so thin, soft, and clinging. She’s been made up, given a wig with long flowing hair, and dressed in an expensive dress with high-heeled shoes.
But some things never change, and that’s her uncanny ability to forget all else in the presence of food. Han Sung loses her to the hors d’oeuvres table.
“So this is where you’ve been.”
Eun Chan wasn’t in a position to respond. Not only was her mouth stuffed with food, but both hands were also full, holding a canape in one hand and a piece of bread with anchovies in the other. Han Sung furrowed his brow at her attempt to murmur through her full mouth. With a small, embarrassed smile, she held out one hand and offered its contents.
As you may have guessed, the novel version of Han Sung isn’t quite as soft and sensitive as the drama version. (Honestly, I think the book is great with Eun Chan and Han Gyul, but didn’t really bother developing Han Sung or Yu Ju that well. In that respect, the drama has given those two much more breadth of character. Plus, the instant you put a face to a character, they suddenly spring to life, and feel real — so it’s only natural that I like the characters better in the drama.)
He’s brought Eun Chan for a reason, to stick it to Yu Ju. The first step is greeting Yu Ju’s parents, the national assemblyman and his wife. He’s not completely without compunction — he’s just beyond it:
Han Sung thought it was possible that he might regret this later. But he wanted to face the assemblyman squarely this once, even if you called it a futile willfulness, or immature pride. He felt he had to, to finally end this.
Yu Ju’s parents feel the sting but cover it up with civility. Han Sung walks away with Eun Chan without sparing a glance at Yu Ju, who watches from across the room. Eun Chan feels Yu Ju’s gaze boring into her back, and nearly collides with Han Gyul. She’s alarmed to run into him, but Han Sung whispers that he’ll handle everything — all she has to do is stay calm and not speak, since her voice will give her away. Flustered, Eun Chan tries to remain composed:
Seeing Han Gyul looking at her, Eun Chan quickly lowered her gaze. She felt if she met his eyes, she’d unknowingly send him a signal announcing, “It’s me, it’s me!”
Eun Chan is introduced merely as Han Sung’s friend. Yu Ju joins them, and Han Gyul tells her appreciatively:
“Wow, you’re dazzling, Han Yu Ju. Makes me wanna snatch you away.”
The moment he said that, Eun Chan felt heat rush into her face. Her mood suddenly soured and she inexplicably grew ill-tempered.
Eun Chan looks at Yu Ju surreptitiously, noting her elegant, beautiful appearance, and suddenly wants to run away, her feelings turning gloomy. Seeing the way Yu Ju smiles, Eun Chan decides she’ll have to go home and work on her own smile.
Eun Chan watches Yu Ju and Han Gyul comment over the artwork, and notices how close they seem:
Eun Chan watched how the two looked at each other with familiarity. They chattered on, and her insides felt like they’d been set ablaze. Without realizing it, she blew her bangs out of her eyes. At that moment, Han Gyul looked straight at her. Her eyes grew round at the same time that suspicion flashed through Han Gyul’s. His sharp look seemed to pierce right through her.
Thankfully, Han Sung notices and quickly makes an excuse for them to leave. Unused to her heels, Eun Chan’s ankle twists and she stumbles — and both men each grab one arm. Shaking off both arms, she walks away, with a limp:
But suddenly, her body rose up into the air. Han Sung had lifted her up. Unexpectedly finding herself in his arms, Eun Chan was so flustered, she didn’t know what to do. Just then, she looked behind Han Sung to see Yu Ju’s expression. Her face betrayed her shock.
Poor Eun Chan — although Han Sung is doing this mostly for show, she’s embarrassed to see his temples beaded with sweat over the exertion of carrying her. But outside, away from the others, Eun Chan bursts out in anger, mad at Han Sung for a few reasons. For one, it’s cold-hearted of him to manipulate people like that — she didn’t come to be used just so Han Sung could show up his ex-girlfriend. Also, she’s upset at seeing Han Gyul with Yu Ju.
Yanking her wig and taking off the cumbersome heels, she swears and grumbles while telling Han Sung she’ll be returning everything to the salon. At one such curse (she calls him garbage and a bastard), he warns, “Don’t talk so carelessly.” She retorts: “So what if I talk carelessly? It’s a hundred times better than treating people carelessly.”
Han Sung tells her he’ll take her home, but she doesn’t want to go with him, and storms off. Or, she tries to — because at that moment, she stops short. Yu Ju stands there, looking at Eun Chan without her wig, taking in the sight.
Son of a bitch! How long has she been standing there? How much did she hear? More and more people are finding out the truth. Dammit to hell, the problem just keeps growing!
The next morning, Eun Chan goes into work with trepidation, unsure if Han Gyul recognized her the day before. She’s conflicted, uneasy that he’s figured out the truth, but disappointed at the thought that he didn’t. “If he confronted her with his suspicion, she thought she might just spill out the whole truth……”
Han Gyul arrives while she’s doing the morning cleaning, and treats her as normal. He doesn’t understand why Eun Chan seems upset about something, sweeping the ground as though she’d dig a hole through it with the broom. He asks about her mother and makes small talk, and Eun Chan answers curtly, thinking of Yu Ju and unable to hold back her resentment.
The funny thing is, although Han Gyul doesn’t know what’s got her in such a bad mood, he does know how to get rid of it — he cuts in and changes the subject abruptly. Completely caught off guard, Eun Chan has no idea why he’s bringing up coffee, but answers his questions. In her confusion, her anger fades.
Han Gyul tries a new strategy to open early to service all the morning foot traffic as people go to work. The idea’s a hit, and they’re swamped in the morning rush.
Ha Rim notices that of all the Coffee Princes, Han Gyul seems to be the most popular with the ladies. Eun Chan pricks up her ears curiously when Ha Rim mentions a particular woman who’d asked about Han Gyul, and she’s secretly pleased to hear his cold answer that the woman could use some plastic surgery. “It was okay for him to be rude in these instances.”
Feeling optimistic due to their first busy morning in, well, ever, Eun Chan volunteers to make everyone sandwiches for lunch. (This next part had me laughing out loud.)
She was busy making tuna sandwiches when the phone rang. Mechanically, Eun Chan reached out to grab the phone and answered.
“Yes, this is the delicious Coffee Prince.”
At that moment, all of the employees, scattered around the cafe doing various tasks, stood up at the same time. They all stared at Eun Chan, spooked as though they’d seen a ghost. What was with them? Not knowing the reason, Eun Chan looked at Ha Rim as she repeated:
Strangely, the phone kept ringing. But still, nobody made a move to answer it.
“Aren’t you gonna answer the phone?”
Mr. Hong turned around, and shouted:
She couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. Frustrated, she started to ask again.
“Don’t say a word and stay still!”
Han Gyul shouted to prevent her from doing anything. Seriously, what was going on?
Eun Chan could see the tense mood, and the strange expressions on everyone’s faces as they looked at her, and her heart started racing. They all stood still, feeling the tension in the air. Their reactions were so odd and anxious, it unnerved her. She felt like shouting out loud, but being prevented from doing anything made her even more uneasy.
“Don’t turn your head…”
Han Gyul was approaching slowly, carefully, and suddenly snatched away the phone in her hand.
At that, everyone let out a sigh of relief.
“Hey… Go Eun Chan, you…”
“Seriously, this hyung is gonna drive me mad!”
Mr. Hong collapsed into a chair, Ha Rim shouted in anger, Nak Gyun was about to tear out his hair. Seeing the unflappable Sun Ki shaking his head made her think something huge must’ve just happened. And it had something to do with her. But what the heck was it?!
Han Gyul hit her upside the head, causing her to cry out in indignation.
“Why’d you hit me?!”
“You, come out from there.”
“That’s right, Go Eun Chan, you’re barred from the kitchen. You’ll just break cups anyway, so don’t even bother entering.”
Han Gyul held up a sturdy-looking kitchen knife in front of her eyes.
“Is this a phone, you idiot?! Don’t answer the phone from now on either! Got it?!”
There were beads of cold sweat on the sides of Han Gyul’s nose. Only then did Eun Chan realize that she’d picked that knife up from the cutting board and answered into it, “Hello?”
In a lull during the day, a middle-aged woman arrives alone, and everyone looks in surprise when Ha Rim exclaims, “Mom!” The other Princes leave them to talk, and Eun Chan brings her some coffee:
Eun Chan served her a cup of warm, soft cafe latte. If there was any bad blood here, she hoped it could be solved softly and warmly, like this cafe latte.
Everyone eavesdrops as Ha Rim’s mother pleads with him to return home. She promises to talk to his father, but Ha Rim’s heard this before and doesn’t want to go back. He knows that even if he went back, his father would be unyielding, and Ha Rim would just end up leaving again. Everyone’s shocked (except Eun Chan) to find out Ha Rim’s a runaway.
Surprising everyone, Han Gyul strides out to Ha Rim and his mother to say: “Jin Ha Rim. Pack your things immediately and leave.” Eun Chan rushes out to intervene, but Han Gyul is firm:
“Fix things with your father and then come back. Before you reach a compromise, don’t step foot inside my cafe.”
/end Chapter 14.Tags: books, Coffee Prince the novel