Despite the running joke about prosecutors constantly feeling tired, today had been an exceptionally exhausting day for Yi-soo. Stepping into the elevator at KD Department Store, she absentmindedly touched her forehead with her hand. The display showed the 7th floor, but she lacked the energy to confirm it. Leaning wearily against the chilly wall, she released a deep sigh, her weariness permeating her very soul.
“I could just collapse right here,” she muttered.
Reviewing countless documents in the morning had merely been the beginning; her afternoon was packed to the brim. A personal visit to the local police station for investigation cooperation awaited her, not to mention the challenging task of interrogating the suspect. This particular individual happened to be a former Vice Minister of Education or some such position. Despite being charged with bribery, he put up a defiant front, adamantly claiming his innocence.
“Do you even know who I am? A novice prosecutor like you could be fired at any moment!”
“Yes, Mr. Jung Ki-chul. You held the esteemed position of Vice Minister of Education and currently serve as the Superintendent of Education in Gyeonggi Province. All your personal information is documented here. Kindly compose yourself until we bring someone in.”
“Where is your superior? Bring the chief prosecutor! I have never accepted any bribes!”
“The chief prosecutor is occupied. I am the prosecutor in charge, Mr. Jung Ki-chul. If you wish to add the charge of obstructing official duties, you are welcome to continue shouting in that manner.”
Perhaps it was the age difference that bothered the suspect, as the young-looking prosecutor in her late twenties took charge. He grumbled and snorted for a while before finally settling down under her firm tone. The whole ordeal drained Yi-soo, especially considering she had other new cases to handle, leaving her feeling scattered mentally.
Hyun-seong’s text message, urging her to stay until 8 PM, prevented her from volunteering for overtime. So, she decided to leave the remaining work for Monday and exited the prosecutor’s office. Puzzled by the location choice for their meeting, she muttered, “Why does he want to meet at a department store… I don’t get it.”
As the elevator reached the 7th floor with a gentle chime, Yi-soo felt a sudden tension and stepped out. It was Friday night, yet the department store seemed surprisingly deserted. Observing her surroundings, she noticed that this floor mainly housed women’s clothing stores. Did he have a specific reason for choosing the 7th floor? Wondering about this, she pressed the call button on her phone to reach Hyun-seong.
Just then, her phone started vibrating, almost as if it were observing her like a surveillance camera.
The screen came to life with a soft ring, displaying an eleven-digit number, left unsaved at its center. Yi-soo, momentarily startled, blinked in bewilderment and cautiously swiped the answer button.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Come to the Lotte Lec store located on the left side of the elevator,” a commanding voice ordered on the other end.
Yi-soo’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Who is this guy, ordering me around? Before she could inquire further, the call abruptly ended with a definitive click.
Her expression tightened with a mix of irritation and intrigue. “Who does he think he is?” Yi-soo muttered under her breath. Despite her reluctance, she decided to head towards the Lotte Lec store to confront Hyun-seong.
The Gothic letters ‘Lotte Lec’ greeted her eyes as she arrived at the store. Hyun-seong stood there, flanked by another man. He noticed Yi-soo and glanced at the watch on his left wrist with an air of indifference.
His hair, once neatly combed, was now slicked back with pomade, giving him a more arrogant and imposing aura. The slightly open suit jacket revealed a glimpse of a navy vest, and a lawyer’s badge adorned his lapel. True to his nature, Hyun-seong always maintained a perfect dress code, even since law school.
“You’re late, Prosecutor Seo,” Hyun-seong remarked with a hint of annoyance.
Yi-soo glanced at the clock and replied, “It’s 8:03, though?”
“Weren’t we supposed to meet at 8? I don’t think I got it wrong,” Hyun-seong insisted, a faint smile playing on his lips.
Yi-soo sighed lightly, finally conceding, “Yeah, I’m late. I’m sorry. But Attorney Yoon informed me of the appointment time without consulting me first. I had a lot of work to do today.”
Hyun-seong shrugged, saying, “Whether you’re a lawyer or a prosecutor, everyone’s busy. Just like I never make my clients wait, I hope you can show some respect to me, your contracting partner.”
“Oh, yes… I’ll try my best,” Yi-soo replied, slightly flustered by his stern demeanor.
She couldn’t help but wonder why he was being so strict, maintaining a composed face throughout their conversation. Her attention then turned to the man standing with Hyun-seong, who seemed a bit perplexed and unsure of the situation, wearing round glasses that added to his confused appearance.
“By the way… who’s this?” Yi-soo asked, gesturing towards the man accompanying Hyun-seong.
“Call him Secretary Kang. He insisted on coming along, even though I told him I would come alone,” Hyun-seong explained.
Tae-jun raised an eyebrow, feeling a bit puzzled. “Well, you suddenly said you were going to meet your fiancée… But, this isn’t Miss Choi Min-seo.”
“I told you, I’m going to be engaged to Prosecutor Yi-soo. It’s already a matter agreed upon between us,” Hyun-seong stated matter-of-factly, bound by a contract.
Tae-jun still seemed skeptical, struggling to process the information. Instead of diving into the details of their engagement contract with someone she had just met, he remained silent.
“By the way… This isn’t exactly the best place to sign a contract. Why did you ask me to come to this store?” Yi-soo intervened, trying to make sense of the situation.