Chapter 49.2

“Incredible! Is that really you, Yi-soo? How have you been all these years…! Everyone, gather around. Yi-soo is in the house!”

“Oh, Seo Yi-soo! You know what they say, mention a tiger, and it appears. Did you bring this one, Choi Min-seo?”

“Yi-soo, you’ve turned into such a beauty. I almost didn’t recognize you. There’s a seat waiting for you since you’ve been away.”

The scene unfolded at a hof (Korean pub) in Gangnam, the chosen setting for the 8th graduating class of Korea University’s Law School to reunite. The place had either been fully reserved or was swarming with familiar faces. Now and then, a few unfamiliar ones were scattered among the crowd, likely significant others or spouses.

As Yi-soo made her entrance, all eyes in the hof fixated on her. The sudden spotlight made her slightly uncomfortable. She longed for the comfort of her home and some rest.

Reading her expression, Min-seo let out an awkward chuckle and waved her hand.

“Hey, folks, let’s not forget about me. It’s been a while, Jae-hui oppa. How have you been?”

“Just me, grinding away for a paycheck,” Jae-hui replied. “By the way, Yi-soo, what’ll it be? Beer? Soju? We can even whip up some somaek (soju and beer mix) if you’d like. Just say the word.”

Yi-soo declined politely, saying, “Oh, I don’t drink alcohol, so… It’s alright. I’ll just have some snacks.”

The group of friends, now numbering around thirty-five, resumed their conversations while periodically glancing in the direction of Yi-soo and Min-seo. Their discussion seemed to focus on how much Yi-soo had changed during her time away. She felt somewhat uncomfortable being the center of attention instead of the delectable spread of food on the table. However, she was not one to openly reveal her emotions.

Yi-soo put on a professional smile and reached for some basic snacks.

“But honestly, we never thought you’d come. No contact for a whole year, and then suddenly, you show up. What’s the deal, Yi-soo? I heard some gossip lately. Is it true that you’re engaged to Yoon Hyun-seong? Were you two friends from the start? Why didn’t we know?” Jae-hui inquired.

“Ah, oppa, all you ever knew was that Yi-soo’s dad is a prosecutor,” chimed in another friend. “How did you manage to hide it all those years at school? I’m so jealous, Yi-soo. Did your dad pull some strings to get you assigned to the Southern District Prosecutors’ Office too?”

Jo Hee-yeon, a friend from their group, added, “Well, yeah, we all knew Yi-soo was pretty much destined to succeed, almost valedictorian and all. It’s only natural she’d land a gig in Seoul.”

The mention of Hyun-seong’s name made it challenging for Yi-soo to maintain her composure. She hadn’t expected these types of conversations to arise, which was precisely why she had been hesitant to attend the reunion in the first place.

She couldn’t fathom the extent to which the rumors about her had proliferated and spread. Her classmates, who were avid gossips, might have played a role in ensuring these rumors reached even the younger generations.

A deep weariness enveloped her entire being.

I miss him… Yi-soo’s mind suddenly conjured a vivid recollection of the weekends she had spent with Hyun-seong. Merely being in his company, engaged in idle togetherness, had brought her immense comfort.

Just an hour ago, her text messages with him had been fresh in her memory.

[Shall we have dinner together tonight?] 

[Oh, I don’t think today will work. I have a prior commitment.] 

[A prior commitment?] 

[There’s an 8th class reunion today. I didn’t want to go, but Min-seo wanted to attend with me, so I felt obliged. Let’s plan dinner for tomorrow.]

Following Yi-soo’s message, there had been no response. She had traveled all the way to Gangnam in Min-seo’s car, and the rush-hour traffic had left her feeling fatigued even before she reached her destination.

The boisterous chatter of dozens of people in the room grated on her ears.

All Yi-soo truly desired was to unwind in the comfort of her own home. She pondered whether Attorney Kang had taken the cat to the vet. It was the time she’d typically be wrapping up work, and she couldn’t help but wonder what Hyun-seong was up to.

A jumble of thoughts tangled in Yi-soo’s mind like a web of threads. She mechanically reached for a snack, oblivious to the half-filled 500ml beer glass before her.

Her only wish was for the others to stop scrutinizing her. Then, a low voice sounded from behind.

“Seo Yi-soo.”

Simultaneously, the hum of the crowd escalated a notch. Yi-soo pivoted around to identify the individual who had called her.



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