Chapter 46.1

The relentless ebb and flow of the waves continued, their frothy tongues devouring portions of the sandy shore and clashing against the rugged cliffs, unleashing bursts of white foam. It was a scene that could captivate for hours on end. Unbeknownst to her, Hyun-seong drew nearer to Yi-soo, his deft fingers unfastening his suit jacket.

The crisp night breeze infiltrated their shirts and vests, yet the chill seemed to lose its bite in their shared company. Yi-soo closed her eyes, surrendering to the soft susurration of the sea. She felt an unexpected surge of sentimentality, a sensation that seemed oddly out of character for her.

Gradually, she lifted her eyelids and rested her head gently against Hyun-seong’s shoulder. It was a gesture she might not typically dare, but perhaps the magic of the moment and the setting had emboldened her. Right now, she longed to lean on him without the encumbrance of any concerns.

Out of the blue, she posed a question that seemed unrelated to the moment. “Have you ever been to the sea with someone important?”

Hyun-seong pondered her query, a faint furrow appearing on his brow. “Well, I’m not entirely sure about the criteria for important people.”

Yi-soo sought to clarify, “I mean, like family or… someone you love deeply. Someone you couldn’t bear to lose.”

Family wasn’t a pertinent subject for Hyun-seong. He had never held his parents in particularly high regard, and they likely had no interest in setting foot on a beach. They were pragmatic, always weighing the pros and cons. Hyun-seong arched an eyebrow in response.

“As for romantic partners… I don’t think I’ve ever been to the sea with someone like that.”

Yi-soo appeared intrigued, her curiosity unabated. “Why not? Isn’t a trip to the beach a common choice for couples?”

Yi-soo had never experienced a romantic relationship, but the truth was evident just by observing Min-seo, her closest friend. Yi-soo’s mind briefly conjured Min-seo’s hopeful visage.

“This year, my brother and I couldn’t align our schedules for an overseas trip, so we settled for a visit to Gyeongju… But next year, come what may, I’m heading to the sea with my beloved,” Min-seo had excitedly declared.

Returning from her reverie, Yi-soo turned her gaze toward Hyun-seong’s striking countenance. After a thoughtful pause, he let out a subdued chuckle. 

“In hindsight, I’ve never really been on a proper date. At most, we’d meet at someone’s home or dine out,” he confessed.

“Even during your relationships?” Yi-soo inquired.

Hyun-seong nodded. “Indeed.”

“Why’s that a big deal? You’re not exactly someone who’s had just a couple of relationships, are you? Or are you? Perhaps a few?”

Hyun-seong was well aware of his own allure, but it was challenging to quantify how many relationships he’d ventured into thus far. With a visage so captivating that it compelled people to turn and gaze, he must have attracted his fair share of attention.

What sort of woman caught his interest? As Yi-soo speculated about Hyun-seong’s romantic history, a twinge of despondency crept over her. At that very moment, a gust of wind caused a stray strand of Yi-soo’s hair to sway gently.

Whether Hyun-seong was privy to Yi-soo’s inner musings or not, his words flowed in a composed, almost detached tone. He didn’t utter these phrases to offer solace.

“Does the quantity really matter? None of those were relationships of great significance to me, to be honest.”

“Even if they weren’t significant, you still dated them?”

“Well, you could say we both served some purpose in each other’s lives. It’s more precise to state that I’ve never harbored deep emotions for my partners, rather than implying I took dating lightly. Love and obsession weren’t feelings that truly resonated with me.”

In a matter of hours, the sun would ascend above the horizon. The night’s shroud made it nearly impossible to distinguish between the night sky and the water’s surface. It was as though someone had smeared the boundaries with vivid watercolors. Yi-soo, who had been quietly absorbing Hyun-seong’s revelations, responded with a touch of jest.

“You are a worse man than you seem, Mr. Yoon Hyun-seong. Well, or maybe I should say you are as bad as you look. Maybe both parties benefited, but what about the other person who might have had genuine feelings for you?”

“Even if that were the case, it doesn’t really matter. If my heart doesn’t resonate with theirs, does it make any difference if the other person liked me?”

“So, in short… you’ve never brought a lover to the beach, have you?”

Yi-soo shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly. Even though she wasn’t officially Hyun-seong’s lover, sharing this night by the sea had made her feel like someone special. His true feelings remained a riddle.

As the car’s round headlights touched the coarse sand, a solitary droplet of water kissed her cheek.

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