The cold weather outside forced her to sober up. With the courtesan house on the horizon, she lifted her head and looked at the sky. Even if the sunlight hurt her eyes, she couldn’t stop herself from gazing upwards.
The sky was full of clouds that resembled cotton candy. During the spring, the trees that surrounded the courtesan house, would have branches covered in cherry blossoms, but due to the cold, the trees were now dormant.
When spring arrives, will she be able to leave this place with her sister?
“Welcome back, young master.”
The guards of the courtesan house saluted Shi Hoon. They were the ones who oversaw the security of this place. Their job included things like kicking out rude patrons or capturing runaway courtesans. Eun Ha clearly hated these people.
“Is mother inside?”
“Yes, she is. But…”
“Then ask her to open the door. I want to check on how she’s doing, and then I’ll go back.”
The guards only cared about young master Yoon. So, she took the opportunity and ran inside.
The garden of the courtesan house was illuminated with a gentle light. Here, there was an unusually high amount of camellia flowers. Because of that, most people who stepped inside, often said it had a dreamlike ambience. However, for Eun Ha, since she had spent ten years inside this place, it didn’t feel special at all.
It was a beautiful place indeed. But it was often frequented by drunk men who came here to play with women. Each time she saw her sister forcefully smiling, her hatred towards this place grew.
Eun Ha walked towards the room, in front of where was a white camellia tree. After looking around, she carefully opened the door.
It was her older sister, Lee Young, calling her with an angry expression. She had finished her make-up and was wearing a beautiful skirt in a jade color.
“What’s wrong with you? Tiger hunting? You should already know how dangerous that is!”
“S… Sister… Why you still here?”
Eun Ha had never seen her sister so angry.
“How could I work after you ran off to go tiger hunting without telling me?!”
Lee Young looked at the dirt-covered Eun Ha and summoned a servant to the room.
“Seo Hee, please fill the bathtub with hot water. I need to wash this walking pile of dirt.”
Seo Hee stopped combing Lee Young’s hair and left the room. Lee Young quickly thought of excuses she could use.
“You really thought that I’d put myself in danger? I was following the hunters around while checking out if there was something that I could sell for a profit.”
“And why did you need money, huh?”
“I wanted to buy this book. Also, today the weather was warmer than yesterday. So, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to find the tiger. That’s the only reason why I participated in today’s hunt.”
It’d be nice if she just let it go, but today, Lee Young wasn’t having it.
“How can you be so shameless? Today, I’m not letting you off easily. Anyway, go take a bath. I’ll catch you up there soon.”
Eun Ha put her books down and quickly walked away from the room.
Lee Young recalled the pale hands and cheeks of her little sister. She’d tried to give her everything she could. That’s why it hurt her to see Eun Ha putting her life in danger like that.
“Lee Young, please don’t blame her too much. After all, I was with her.”
Lee Young lifted her head, after hearing Shi Hoon’s voice, her chest was tingling.
“I’m sorry my little sister bothered you, Young Master.”
“She didn’t bother me. I went with her because I wanted to.”
“She’s bothering you because young master should be focusing on his studies. That’s why if you see her hunting again, please scold her. She’s at the age of marriage. If she keeps up with that behavior, no one will want her.”
She gazed into Shi Hoon’s eyes, and for a second, she could feel her face blushing. His shapely lips and curved eyes made him especially handsome.
But these feelings of hers were forbidden. Even if Shi Hoon was born from an affair, he was still the son of a minister. A commoner like her had no chance with someone like him.
“How could I scold someone as cute and precious as her?”
“Your mother has strictly forbidden you from coming to this place. Why are you pretending to be ignorant of the reason behind that?”
“Of course, I’m not, but there is a face that I want to see.”
Shi Hoon glanced at the books Eun Ha had left behind.
Seeing the kindness in his eyes made her chest hurt. Was she jealous?
Even these types of feelings were forbidden to her. If the minister discovered how Shi Hoon felt towards Eun Ha, there would be trouble.
“Young master needs to learn how to control himself. Now that everyone knows that you’re here, your mother will be here at any moment.”
“Even you are trying to kick me out of here. Okay, fine I will go back.”
Shi Hoon stared at Lee Young after she had said goodbye and turned away.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
This was a place where you could find flowers during every season of the year. And the person who was in charge of this place was his mother, Sim Deok.
“I’ve told you many times that you shouldn’t come to this place. Why is it that you never listen?”
Upon hearing a friendly voice from behind, he turned around. There he saw his mother accompanied by two servants approaching him. Shi Hoon smiled and closed the distance between them. The stars were reflecting along the surface of the frozen pond, illuminating their surroundings.
“Mother, I need to see you regularly in order to feel calm. It’s obvious why I come to this place, so who’s going to dare point their fingers at me?”
“You need to take better care of your image. When your father hears that you’ve come here again, he’ll get angry with you.”
“He’s always angry, so don’t worry about that. I’m just fulfilling my duty as a son. Now that I’ve seen that mother is doing fine, I’ll go back.”
Sim Deok called the guards and asked them to accompany Shi Hoon. She constantly told him not to visit her. Not only that, but she had also forbidden him to call her mother. But he never listened. And she was secretly happy about that.
He was her pride and joy.
Once he was gone, Sim Deok went back inside and headed towards Lee Young’s room. There she saw the books that Eun Ha had brought. She looked at her servants and asked him.
“Hold old is Eun Ha this year?”
“She will be eighteen soon.”
“She’s already eighteen?”
“Lee Young always treats her like a kid. So, we were surprised by that as well.”
“She’s already at working age, huh?”
Chun He, a servant, was horrified at Sim Deok”s words. Sim Deok knew that Lee Young wanted to prevent her sister from experiencing a lifestyle like this, yet she was trying to make her a courtesan as well.
“Tell Lee Young to come to my room tonight.”
Sim Deok walked away, crushing camelia flowers that were on top of the snow under ger. feet.
* * * * * * *
Eun Ha immersed herself in the bath while trying to escape the gaze of her sister.
Lee Young asked the servant to wash Eun Ha. Every time the hot water touched her body, Eun Ha’s skin began to resemble a pearl. Her unusually dark eyes shimmered like jewels. She was always dressed like a boy. But beneath those men’s clothes hid a body with beautiful curves. If she dressed appropriately, men would go crazy about her.
Lee Young wanted to free Eun Ha from this place before Sim Deok discovered her sister’s hidden beauty.
Eun Ha could see that Lee Young wasn’t angry anymore, so she lifted her head and smiled brightly at her sister. In Lee Young’s eyes, Eun Ha was still the same little kid that was holding her hands the day she first entered this place. And that filled her with sadness.
“I’m going to start looking for a marriage partner for you.”
Thank you for reading!