Chapter 45.2

He had no intention of allowing someone who was simply a stepmother to belittle her for that reason alone. He slammed his coffee cup onto the table. His gaze, as icy and unforgiving as midwinter’s chill, bore into In-hwa’s countenance.

“She doesn’t deserve such treatment from you. It’s high time you ceased meddling in others’ lives and passing judgments. How long do you think people will remain deceived by you?”

“…Yoon Hyun-seong. How dare you speak to your parent in this manner!”

“To be frank, it’s rather repulsive.” Hyun-seong slowly furrowed his brow. In-hwa, who had always exuded elegance, now appeared distinctly disheveled. She scanned her surroundings, barely suppressing her mounting anger while chewing on the inside of her lip.

He had always been a son easily influenced, kept on a tight leash. While it was natural for him to form his own opinions, he had little experience in asserting himself.

Seemingly uninterested in In-hwa’s thoughts, Hyun-seong rose from his seat and fastened his suit jacket.

“And… it’s time for me to gradually distance myself from work. The next owner of Yoon & Kang won’t be you, Mother. In fact, since you’re an outsider now, it’s best if you refrain from getting involved any further. I’ll communicate through Secretary Kang.”

In due course, In-hwa clenched her fist, her not-so-short nails digging into her palm. She struggled to maintain her composure, but her voice quivered uncontrollably.

“Don’t be so presumptuous, Yoon Hyun-seong. Just because those around you pamper you, do you think you’ve become someone extraordinary? How much have you benefited from basking in the glow of being our child? If you don’t want to sever the parent-child relationship, sit down.”

Hyun-seong, who had been gazing down at his mother with a cold, unwavering stare, let out a low, incredulous chuckle. He retrieved the briefcase that had been placed on the chair.

“Mother, of all people, should not harbor such delusions. I want to sever that tie right now. Since when have you been a parent?” Hyun-seong inquired, his words dripping with icy disdain.

There was nothing left to be said. Hyun-seong turned away from the table and left. In-hwa, now alone, tightly closed her lips and shut her eyes, her eyelids quivering from a sense of betrayal.

The man who had been seated at the piano began to play a Debussy piece. It was a gentle and sweet melody that contrasted with the tense atmosphere. The conversations of the guests, enjoying a leisurely weekend afternoon, melded softly with the music.


Friday night, the moment all the office workers had been eagerly awaiting. Despite the delay caused by Hyun-seong’s overtime work, their plan to visit the seaside remained unchanged.

After concluding an urgent meeting with a client, he had a late dinner with Yi-soo. The night stretched ahead of them, and unlike many other things in life, the sea remained steadfast, waiting.

During the two-hour drive to Incheon’s shoreline, Yi-soo contained her excitement. She felt like a child eagerly anticipating Christmas morning. She wondered if all the stress she had accumulated over the years would dissipate when she faced the vast, open sea.

As she cracked open the passenger-side window, the cool night air seeped in, brisk but gentle.

“Wow…” Yi-soo muttered in admiration.

Upon finally arriving at the beach and parking the car, Yi-soo stepped out first. The distinct scent of salt filled her senses. It was nearly 1 AM, and this wasn’t a well-known beach, so not a soul graced the sandy shore. With summer having passed, the nighttime sea felt refreshingly cool.

Yi-soo buttoned up her beige cardigan as she made her way toward the water.

Swoosh, swoosh. The rhythmic waves serenaded her ears, their soothing cadence bringing an immediate sense of calm and profound tranquility. Her low-heeled shoes left delicate imprints on the fine sand as she strolled along.

“This is beautiful…”

The scene before her closely resembled the painting she had admired in Hyun-seong’s apartment. The surroundings were bathed in darkness, but the distant lighthouse prevented it from being pitch-black. And unlike the painting, the night sky above was adorned with dozens of stars, a sight rarely witnessed in the bustling city of Seoul.

In the midst of this natural spectacle, a crescent moon gently shimmered on the sea’s surface. Even the cool breeze that caressed her cheek felt oddly warm and comforting.

Yi-soo couldn’t help but burst into heartfelt laughter. Her heart swelled with the realization that they were the only two souls on this expansive beach.

She turned to Hyun-seong with a radiant smile, bright enough to pierce through the darkness. Her thick, wavy hair danced in the night air, creating a moment that could have been plucked from a beautiful painting.

“Yoon Hyun-seong!”

Yi-soo’s eyes formed round crescents, radiating the purity and innocence of a child beholding the sea for the first time. It was a sincerity devoid of any pretense, and Hyun-seong’s gaze toward her deepened.

Approaching Yi-soo with a faint smile, a tenderness rarely seen in him now graced his countenance.



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