The fifth-floor library of the courthouse wasn’t a bustling spot. While occasional figures could be spotted hauling away stacks of books, creating mini-mountains of literature, most of them were clerks, dutifully fulfilling the judges’ requisitions. As Hyun-seong casually leaned against a wall, his gaze sweeping across the room’s occupants, a woman came into his field of view.
It was Yi-soo, draped in a prosecutor’s uniform adorned with a crimson ribbon tracing the length of her gown. Even beyond the formality of the attire, it imbued her with an air of elegance, amplifying her innate gracefulness.
Unlike their usual encounters, Yi-soo had swept her long hair into a tidy knot. Though he’d grown accustomed to glimpsing her countenance as of late, there was a novel allure to it now, akin to encountering a distinct persona.
As Yi-soo discerned Hyun-seong’s presence, she approached, her wide, pretty eyes locking onto him.
“What brings you here, Lawyer Yoon?” Yi-soo asked. “You mentioned meeting before the trial.”
“Just because,” Hyun-seong repeated. “I wanted to see your face, that’s all. Do I need a specific reason?”
Despite his matter-of-fact delivery, the rationale was far from mundane. The abrupt statement elicited a blink from Yi-soo, her lengthy lashes fluttering in response.
Yi-soo believed that there had to be a specific rationale behind Hyun-seong’s request for a pre-trial meeting. She was well-acquainted with the Hyun-seong who meticulously pursued efficiency to its limits and wasn’t one to squander time on trivialities. Anxious curiosity spurred her to arrive swiftly, speculating whether he had stumbled upon fresh evidence or something similarly significant.
Initially taken aback, Yi-soo eventually compressed her lips, catching onto the implications contained in his desire to see her face.
“…You could have waited to see my face in court 30 minutes from now,” muttered Yi-soo. “Isn’t it a bit unusual for the lead prosecutor and defense attorney to engage in a private conversation while everyone else looks on?”
“Since when have you become concerned with others’ perceptions?” Hyun-seong asked.
“Can we not retain a modicum of professionalism, at the very least?”
Hyun-seong couldn’t suppress a faint smile at Yi-soo’s retort. Her point wasn’t entirely baseless, making vehement contention unpalatable. Pausing for a contemplative beat, he posed a question.
“How is the victim doing?”
“Well, I haven’t been in recent contact. However, I’ve heard that his recovery is progressing rapidly,” Yi-soo replied.
“That’s reassuring. We can’t allow him to be taken down by a mere thug.”
“That ‘thug’… isn’t he the individual you’re defending?”
Yi-soo’s response carried a wry edge. Nonetheless, she seemed to apprehend the essence of Hyun-seong’s inquiry regarding Gi Dong-yeong’s condition. His query likely emanated from authentic concern. Evidently, he might not be entirely aligned with the defendant’s actions in his heart.
Nevertheless, Seo Jae-young was a client of Yoon & Kang, and once the firm undertook a case, it was their obligation to furnish the most robust defense possible. While defending the assailant didn’t equate to endorsing their deeds, the glistening gold lawyer’s badge affixed to Hyun-seong’s suit lapel bore testament to his commitment.
“Dealing with naive rich kids,” Hyun-seong interjected out of the blue. “It’s a stark reminder of how unjust the world can be.”
At his unexpected remark, Yi-soo lifted her gaze to meet his. His words mirrored the very thoughts that had recently occupied her mind.
“It might come across as ironic, given my own circumstances, doesn’t it?”
“Well… You also hail from a similar background, Lawyer Yoon.”
Life had unfolded in such a way that Hyun-seong’s father had risen to prominence within a notable law firm. Yet, unlike other second or third-generation chaebol heirs, Hyun-seong had chosen not to flaunt this detail. Rumor had it that he had funded his law school tuition and living expenses through part-time tutoring gigs. This was information Yi-soo had gleaned from a classmate who nursed a crush on him.
As this thought coursed through her mind, Hyun-seong’s hand drifted into her field of vision. His lengthy fingers reached out, brushing beneath her eye. The unexpected physical contact stirred her, causing her eyes to widen.
“Just a moment.”
With his left hand, Hyun-seong gently encircled her shoulder, bowing his head. In an instant, the gap between them diminished, his scent subtly permeating her senses. As he drew nearer, she found herself at a loss, uncertain where to direct her gaze.
Despite her will, Yi-soo’s heartbeat quickened. She had seen his countenance enough times to be well-acquainted with it, yet this proximity engendered a sense of novelty.
His eyes, deep-set and penetrating, his straight and defined nose, and even his masculine yet tender jawline. Shifting her gaze seemed awkward, compelling her to study each feature individually.
Hyun-seong’s index finger and thumb brushed her fair skin. An unintended dryness afflicted her mouth, a response she found herself succumbing to beneath the veneer of his ostensibly disinterested yet focused touch. Gradually, he withdrew his hand, lifting his head.
“You had an eyelash on your cheek,” he muttered.
“We have a trial in 20 minutes. I need to accompany Seo Jae-young inside, Prosecutor Seo.”
Even after his departure, her heart rate stubbornly refused to subside. A flush colored her cheeks and ears.
Thump. It was as though a palpable pulse of nervousness reverberated through her. The impulse to vocalize this sensation tugged at her. Yi-soo spared a fleeting glance in Hyun-seong’s direction. He appeared engrossed in his phone, evincing no overt reaction.
“See you shortly.”
Before their rendezvous in 20 minutes, she needed to bury this inexplicable emotion. Inhaling deeply, Yi-soo all but fled from her position, as if evading some unseen specter. Her ears burned with a fervent heat.