The following day, Hyun-seong extended an invitation to Yi-soo for dinner at a posh restaurant in Cheongdam-dong. It felt more like a summons than a casual suggestion. The place was known for its exquisite course meals and had an impressive interior, not overly extravagant but subtly luxurious. The floor, adorned with white marble, spoke volumes about the abundance of money invested.
As they settled into the meal, Yi-soo savored the appetizer—a delightful green salad adorned with cream cheese and mascarpone. The blend of lettuce, chicory, and arugula, adorned with cherry tomatoes and dried cranberries, looked elegant on the plate. Though the serving wasn’t large, it was enough to whet her appetite. The balsamic sauce and kiwi puree infused the salad with a pleasant aroma that lingered in her mouth.
As she relished her meal, Yi-soo couldn’t help but comment, “You have an exquisite taste, Attorney Yoon. Is this the kind of place you frequent often?”
Hyun-seong chuckled in response, “It’s a taste that has developed over time. You’ll get used to it too, Seo Yi-soo.”
Yi-soo shook her head. “I’m not sure if I fit in with this kind of luxury.”
The next dish to arrive was lobster carpaccio adorned generously with caviar. Yi-soo attentively listened to the waiter’s description and politely offered a smile. When the waiter departed, Hyun-seong asked, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask.”
As Yi-soo savored the lobster meat, its tender and smooth texture delighted her palate. Each bite brought forth a delightful blend of tangy and sweet flavors.
Having finished the carpaccio, Yi-soo nodded, giving Hyun-seong the signal to ask his question. He dabbed his mouth with a napkin before speaking, “Did Park In-seong come to you by chance for the adoption?”
Yi-soo considered his question, then replied, “Do you really want to know?”
“It’s not just idle curiosity. Shouldn’t I know at least that much about my fiancé?” Hyun-seong responded.
Yi-soo didn’t feel the need to hide the fact that she came from an orphanage; it was something she had already shared with Hyun-seong and his mother, In-hwa. After taking a sip of water, she continued, feeling his intense gaze upon her.
“My sister was adopted by another family, leaving me alone in the welfare facility. The Seoul Chief Prosecutor used to send money regularly as a sponsor. Then, one day, he decided to visit in person. He wanted to see how the kids were growing up.”
Hyun-seong asked, “So, he visited the orphanage?”
“When I was fourteen, I think.”
Yi-soo recollected the memories of that day, which had occurred nearly 15 years ago, opening the drawer of her mind. In-seong, too, had mentioned that he came from an orphanage. Perhaps he wanted to protect the place that had become a refuge for children who lost their parents at birth. That’s why he ended up sponsoring that specific welfare facility among countless others in the world.
Their first encounter with the Seoul Chief Prosecutor left a lasting impression on Yi-soo. He had a cold demeanor at the time, and as the years passed, he only seemed more imposing. Yet, even in his forties, there was a strong and resolute aura surrounding him, likely a reflection of his past career as a detective before transitioning to become a prosecutor.
Yi-soo recalled the day when the Chief Prosecutor took all the kids from the orphanage for a special lecture. It had been an unusual and challenging experience for them. He aimed to inspire them by showcasing that with unwavering dedication and diligence, they too could succeed in life. Though most of the kids were uninterested or couldn’t grasp the lecture, Yi-soo found it fascinating. To her, the Chief Prosecutor seemed remarkably cool and captivating as he spoke about the prosecutor’s role in delivering just punishment to the guilty and striving for a fairer world.
Hyun-seong inquired, “Did that moment influence you to become a prosecutor?”
Yi-soo took the last cherry tomato with her fork and savored it before answering. “I looked straight into the Seoul Chief Prosecutor’s eyes and asked him directly how I could become a prosecutor like him. Looking back now, it’s quite astonishing. The Seo Yi-soo back then was a timid girl who could barely express herself. I don’t know where I found the courage.”
A small laugh escaped Yi-soo as she reminisced about her 14-year-old self, wearing hand-me-down school uniforms that didn’t quite fit. How had she mustered the bravery to meet the Chief Prosecutor’s gaze so confidently? Perhaps, in hindsight, becoming a prosecutor was destined for her.