Swallow One’s Breath – Chapter 2

The first time he met her was at an acquaintance’s birthday party.

Originally, Do-won didn’t enjoy such parties. This was because he didn’t like the atmosphere of how the birthday was just an excuse for his acquaintance to rent a club to drink and get drunk.

However, the guy who was celebrating his birthday found out that he was the son of a family that was related ​​to his in-laws. It was a tiring relationship where rumors would circulate if he ignored it.

So, he went to the club where the birthday party was held, thinking he would show his face for a while and leave. He was aiming to spend just enough time so that someone could testify that he attended.

It was after greeting the familiar faces and having a drink with the birthday boy that a woman, who was staggering out of the bathroom, sprained her foot and bumped into him.

“Oh, I’m sorry!”

It was obvious that she was drunk out of her mind but was trying to come to her senses. She looked as if she had splashed her face in cold water, her makeup was completely removed, and her hair was also wet.

Her outfit was very different from the other girls in the club. A simple white blouse, paired with a neat knee-length skirt, and low-heeled shoes. An innocent face that suited the neat attire. He was used to only seeing women who revealed their bodies to emphasize their sexiness, he thought that it was a pity to see her dressed in this way.

If she went back to her seat drunk like this, she would have been a target for bad guys. It was obvious what would happen next, and he became indecisive about what to do next.

Do-won sighed as he looked at the woman’s stern face. It was annoying, but it seemed like she couldn’t be left alone. He spoke and was surprised at the fact that a conscience still remained in his heart.

“Who are you here with?” He asked while grabbing her arm.

When he asked, grabbing her arm, the woman blinked her eyes as if she didn’t understand immediately, and then murmured.

“Uh, Hyuna asked me to come with her, but I drank too much….”

He didn’t know who Hyun-ah was, but it was clear they weren’t close friends.

“I think I should go home now”

“Yes….”

If she had been a woman who knew even the slightest bit about him, she would have hung on him and asked him to take her away. But she stumbled alone again and went to the entrance to find her bag.

The club employee, who was guarding the entrance, saw the drunk woman and instead of giving her the bag away immediately, he played a prank. However, the moment he found Do-won standing behind her, he quivered and immediately held out her bag.

“Oh, my head.”

Having retrieved her bag, the woman staggered again, took a few steps, and grabbed her head.

‘You’re doing all sorts of things.’

Do-won sighed in annoyance and took the woman’s arm again. If he left her alone now, there would be no problem, he had no idea why he was so concerned.

“Be careful.”

“Huh?”

The woman widened her eyes, as if she had forgotten his existence for a moment.

“The person from earlier! You caught me again! Thank you!”

“Since it’s time to say goodbye, why don’t you try walking properly?”

“Uh, I want to. Ugh, the ground keeps coming up.”

Even in the midst of stumbling, he had nothing left to say. Anyway, as soon as the woman went out, she beckoned to a passing taxi and tried to push him blindly into the car.

“Thank you! Be careful!”

He was used to being bothered by women, but it was the first time he would let it go this way. It was kind of annoying. He expressed how he felt by picking her up and putting her in the taxi.

As he sat next to her and closed the car door, the taxi driver, who had been watching the two of them quarrel, turned around and asked.

“Where are you going?”

“Where is your house?”

“My home is Ahyeon-dong.”

“Please go to Ahyeon-dong.”

A few minutes after the taxi departed, the woman’s body was tilted. As she slept leaning against him, her body did not feel much weight. It was clear that she was drunk, but her sweet scent, not the scent of the alcohol, tickled the tip of his nose.

Do-won, who had unintentionally bowed his head towards her, straightened his body, wondering what he was doing. He must have gone crazy because this was something he had never done before.

But that awkward feeling didn’t last long. They arrived near Ahyeon-dong and he tried to nudge her awake, but she didn’t open her eyes at all.

No matter how much he shook her body, she didn’t move. He didn’t know her name, so he couldn’t call her by her name. Do-won felt his irritation rise again, and he wondered if he could hit her just once. If the taxi driver hadn’t intervened, he really might have.

“You don’t know where her house is? Damn, is there something wrong?”

The taxi driver’s eyes were filled with a sinister look as he grinned. He suddenly felt dirty. Do-won came all the way here, he knew he couldn’t leave the sleeping woman behind.

“Let’s just go to Cheongdam-dong,” he said coldly.

The taxi driver turned the car around with a stern expression on his face.

Now that he thought about it, it was a pretty bizarre meeting. The only thing that bothered him was the fact that he took care of a woman he didn’t know like that, which made no sense. Nevertheless, that day, Do-won took her and put the sleeping woman to sleep in his officetel.

When the woman woke up the next morning, she couldn’t even lift her red-hot face, but only apologized over and over again. Do-won, who had lost his annoyance to some extent at the sight, showed his generosity by giving out a southern shirt to wear over her crumpled blouse. She said that she would return her clothes as a matter of course and took his phone number.

And his relationship with Jeong Se-eun began like that.

While waiting for Se-eun, a faint smile appeared on Do-won’s face as he recalled their first meeting.

Se-eun was unlike any woman he knew. She was naive and not greedy. She must have noticed that he was quite wealthy, but she was never greedy or demanding of anything. Rather, if he gave her a small present or took her to a nice restaurant, she purely admired and was delighted.

Maybe that’s why he met her for a year or so. Honestly, he always felt comfortable and happy when he was with her. The sexual chemistry was also better than any other woman he’s been with.

So, even after 5 years of separation, he had not completely forgotten Se-eun.

“So, let’s make sure we finish this time, Se-eun Jeong,” Dowon murmured as she entered her restaurant just in time.

He watched as she approached, guided by the staff. He hated not being able to finish anything neatly. He didn’t even know that meeting Se-eun again would be an opportunity to clean up his lingering feelings.

She approached silently and sat down opposite of him. She had subtle and sophisticated makeup, neatly combed brown hair, and neat and luxurious attire. He felt an unfamiliar displeasure as she looked completely different from the Se-eun he knew five years ago. Her face, which had always been lively and expressive, had turned cold and expressionless.

In an instant, the thought of Se-eun with Kim Jaehee and Se-eun with Charles Jung flashed in Do-won’s head one after another. The displeasure he felt was revealed in his tone.

“You’ve changed a lot. If I hadn’t looked closely, I wouldn’t have even recognized you.”

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t recognize me.”

Se-eun’s reaction was much harsher than expected. Do-won’s lips twisted into a smile.

“It’s been a long time since we met, but you don’t seem to be happy.”

“We’re not in a relationship where we greet each other, are we?”

Despite Se-eun’s sharp reaction, his smile deepened.

“Why? I’m glad to see you. I think you’ve been doing well.”

“Tell me what you’re planning to do.” Even her voice was cold.

At that moment, the restaurant staff came and set down the menu. When Do-won ordered course A, Se-eun didn’t give the menu a single glance.

“Give me the same.”

Then, as soon as the employee walked away, she asked him again.

“Why did you want to see me?”

“Because I’m glad to see you.”

“Is there anything other than that?”

“I really wanted to see you. I’m also curious to know how you’ve lived for the past 5 years and how you’ve changed like this.”

At those words, Se-eun smiled coldly.

“Five years is not a short time.”

“Was it long enough for the innocent Jeong Se-eun to learn how to balance two men?”

“It was more than enough time,” she said without any hesitation.

Do-won unconsciously clenched his teeth. He didn’t know how she could say that without reacting to his words.

“Are you saying you’re no longer the Jeong Se-eun you used to be?”

“The former Jeong Se-eun and the current Jeong Se-eun are all me. You’re speaking about things you know nothing about. I don’t know why you suddenly called me out for this, but if that’s all you need…”

He spoke coldly as he watched Se-eun get up from her seat.

“He said that you were an early member of JnC, but you’re not acting like the relationship with the Shinhwa Department Store is very important.”

She gave him a frosty glare and sat down again.

“What does this have to do with JnC?”

” JnC’s representative and Shinhwa Department Store’s representative met, so it has a lot to do with it.”

“I’m not surprised at all to see that this is how you run your business.”

Do-won laughed at the blatant sarcastic remark.

“Businessmen are originally people who will use anyone around them. Didn’t you know that? Didn’t President Kim Jaehee teach you?”

When she bit her lip in response, Do-won was soaked in a childish sense of victory.

In the past, Se-eun said it with her own words that was unconditionally good. Even when he was late for their appointment, abruptly changed the time, or took her to the hotel immediately, she never told him no.

But now, every time he said a word, Se-eun put up a wall and responded coldly. It was so refreshing that it was not unpleasant.

‘This is very entertaining.’

The two did not speak a word during the meal. There were only occasional sounds of rattling and clattering of dishes.

She was only poking at her food with empty chopsticks as if she had no appetite. When he saw the food that remained on Se-eun’s plate after he had finished eating, Do-won’s good mood quickly cooled.

“It doesn’t suit your taste?”

“I had a late lunch,” she replied as she raised a glass of water to her lips.

The moment he saw her pink lips open and clear water flowing into them, Do-won’s gaze fell on her lips.

He remembered how sweet those lips were, how they welcomed him. And he clearly remembered how soft and moist the body hidden in the neat blouse was.

‘Yeah, that’s better.’

He smiled coldly and lifted the glass of water in front of him.

The breakup with Se-eun five years ago was too sudden. Do-won never imagined that she would cut him off so easily. He thought she would call him in a day or two saying, ‘Let’s think about it again.’

However, contrary to his expectations, Se-eun cut him off in an instant and even changed her phone number. As if him having her contact info was terrible, then appeared in such a completely changed form after 5 years.

‘If you want to end it, you shouldn’t have any lingering feelings.’

Do-won made up his mind as he watched her now turn her head to look out the window.

‘Let’s get rid of all the regrets that remain like dregs in my heart and shake off Jeong Se-eun as well.’ 

It won’t take much time to cool off the desires that have been simmering since the moment he meets her again. A few nights were enough.

“Stop trying to leave.”

As he stood up and held out his hand, Se-eun ignored him and grabbed her handbag. It was the same when his car arrived.

“Get in.”

When he opened the passenger seat door, Se-eun shook her head with an expressionless face.

“I’ll just go.”

“If you want to have a fight here, I won’t stop you.”

She glared at Do-won with angry eyes. But she soon sat down in the passenger seat without saying a word, apparently realizing that it wasn’t a good idea to fight with the president of the Shinhwa Department Store in front of the entrance of a luxury hotel.

“Where should I take you?”

“Sinsa-dong.”

It was not far from the hotel. It was also close to the JnC office building. Even closer to President Kim Jaehee’s apartment.

When he stopped the car in front of the studio building, Se-eun opened the door as if waiting for that moment. Do-won quickly got out of the car and approached her.

“I’ll call you on the weekend.”

Se-eun slowly looked back with an expression full of absurdity.

“Do you still have work left to do?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” Se-eun asked with a voice full of irritation.

“What the hell do you want from me?”

Dowon moved closer to her. Until the body of the two of them were nearly touching.

“Are you asking because you don’t know?”

“Yes, I don’t know.”

He smiled and wrapped his arms around Se-eun’s waist and pulled her closer.

“It’s about maintaining a friendly relationship with a client for the stable development of the company. It’s not that difficult.”

Se-eun’s eyes filled with anger before he could even finish speaking. But Do-won easily grabbed the hand she had raised.

“Why? If you are close with the president and the chief designer, shouldn’t you maintain a good relationship with the client as well?”

 

* * * * * * 

 

When Se-eun got up from her seat after the meal and Do-won held out his hand, her heart jumped in a funny way.

In order to conceal her inner feelings, she deliberately showed a colder reaction, but he paid no mind as he took her to his car. As she sat in the passenger seat, his presence felt much closer.

He had a sharper jawline than before, broader shoulders, and unchangingly large and rough hands.  After unintentionally gazing at Do-won, Se-eun came to her senses and turned to look out the window.

She didn’t know why she came to see him, but it was clear that he had no intention of apologizing for what happened five years ago. Far from apologizing, he misunderstood her relationship with Jaehee and Charles.

‘You can’t let him see how he’s affecting you.’

Se-eun kept repeating those words until she arrived home. She didn’t know why she had such a reaction to a man who treated her terribly five years ago.

‘Did my heart go crazy?’ 

However, as soon as Do-won arrived in front of her house she could see he had no intention of ending things peacefully, and it made a deeper wound in her heart.

“It’s about maintaining a friendly relationship with a client for the stable development of the company. It’s not that difficult.”

Hearing those words, Se-eun unconsciously raised her hand. But he didn’t stop there but grabbed her wrist and dug at her wounds once more.

“Why? If you are close with the president and the chief designer, shouldn’t you maintain a good relationship with the client as well?”

Recognizing that it was desire that filled her Do-won’s eyes, she lifted one of her feet this time. When she stomped on his shoe mercilessly, Do-won was startled and let go of her hand.

Se-eun did not miss the opportunity and once again swung her hand.

Slap.

When she saw that she had properly slapped Do-won she swung her hand again.

Slap.

He clenched his teeth and stared at her, but she wasn’t afraid at all. In this moment, only anger filled Se-eun’s heart. It was the first time she felt so hateful about Do-won.

“Do not appear in front of me again.”

As soon as she entered the house and closed the front door, the tears she had been holding back began to flow from eyes. She sat down right in front of the door and wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

She didn’t want to cry.

He wasn’t even worth shedding tears over. Her relationship with him had long since ended, and he was still a bad man as before. Even though she knew it all, her tears continued to fall.

She hated him for hurting her as soon as they met again. When her heart raced after seeing him again, she began to hate herself. How can Do-won still hurt her so much after 5 years?

Se-eun cried all night until her tears dried up. Until her head and heart were both empty. Five years ago, she loved Kang Do-won so much that she hated it and hated herself.

The next day when she went to work, she worried about how people would react to her puffy face. Charles was particularly concerned.

“You should have taken a leave of absence or sick leave! How can you come to work in that state!”

“It’s okay, it’s not that bad.”

“It’s not okay for the people watching. Don’t make Jaehee Seem like the evil boss and go home right away!”

“But the company is so busy…”

“Even if team leader Jeong missed a day, the company won’t go bankrupt. Get home now!”

So, she took a leave of absence and returned home. Her body felt more dazed than sick, but she still felt comfortable in her bed.

“I’ll catch up on some sleep,” Se-eun muttered as she covered herself with a blanket.

‘I’ll sleep well, wake up, have a good dinner, and go to work in a clean state tomorrow. I will no longer think about Do-won.’

She didn’t want to cause Charles or Jaehee to worry about this.

It was evening when she opened her eyes. Perhaps because it was winter, it was dark outside the window, but it wasn’t even 6 o’clock yet.

Se-eun was sitting on the bed, contemplating what to eat. She finally decided to have tteokbokki for dinner and stood up. Her mouth was already watering at the thought of the spicy tteokbokki and hot fish cake soup.

 

* * * * * *

 

From the next day, Se-eun returned to her quiet and busy daily life. It was so peaceful that she wondered if meeting Do-won had been a dream.

Preparations for entering Shinhwa Department Store also proceeded without any setbacks.

When the D-day finally arrived, JnC began a grand opening ceremony both online and offline, and during those four days, all employees were put into the event regardless of department.

Se-eun was no exception. She helped the sales staff at the store on the first floor of the JnC office building. It was a lot harder than when she sat in the office and worked, but it was fun in its own way.

It was also appealing to be able to wear JnC’s new products as desired for promotion during the event.

However, on the third day of the event, Charles, who had recently returned from the Shinhwa Department Store, looked at her intently and said:

“Team leader.”

“Yes.”

“Did you lose more weight?”

“I don’t think so?” Se-eun replied as she lowered her head.

It had been a while since she last weighed herself, but she didn’t feel like she had lost weight. But Charles spoke in a voice that showed his displeasure.

“But the clothes fit so comfortably?”

Then, all eyes were on the clothes Se-eun was wearing. Se-eun’s outfit today was a black dress with lace from her shoulders to wrists.

The design itself was tight-fitting, so it could only be worn by someone with a slim body. Se-eun also struggled for two days, but she lost to her curiosity and tried it on.

After wearing it, she felt the need to straighten her posture and suck in her stomach.

“I don’t think it fits well…”

“What do you mean?” Charles asked with a slight frown.

“How many dresses did you wear today?”

“Four sets.”

“Four sets, not bad.”

He was right. The dresses were made of lace material and had to be worn more carefully than other clothes and were quite expensive. He thought again and then spoke.

“Then let’s have Team Leader Jeong go to the department store from now on.”

“What?”

Se-eun flinched and stepped back, but Charles nodded his head as if he had already made up his mind.

“That outfit suits you well. Wear it and get us some publicity.”

She really didn’t want to go, but she wasn’t in a position to turn down Charles. He was JnC’s chief designer and co-investor, the lover of her boss, and also her benefactor.

With reluctant steps, she went to the Shinhwa Department Store, where an employee, who was waiting for her shift, greeted her.

“Team leader, that dress really suits you! Fighting!”

“Thank you. Good job, Sena.”

After that, time passed without a hitch. Department stores on Saturday afternoons were usually crowded, but since JnC was holding a new store opening event, there was literally no time to rest.

Fortunately, the dress she was wearing was selling well in the department store.

When Se-eun, who was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of putting on a cheery face, returned to the company, Charles patted her on the shoulder and said:

“Please go to the department store tomorrow as well.”

“No, Charles, that’s…”

“Wear this until 4pm, and then wear this one after that.”

He smiled as he held out his pre-selected clothes.

“You remember that this month’s sales are directly related to bonuses? I know it’s hard, but I hope you work hard tomorrow, Team Leader Jeong.”

As soon as the word “bonus” came out of Charles’s mouth, the eyes of the remaining employees were all on Se-eun. If she refused any more, she would become a public enemy. She swallowed her protests and bitterly accepted her fate.

“Yes…”

Among the clothes that Charles had chosen for tomorrow, her morning attire was a modest checkered dress. But what she had to wear in the afternoon was a white angora sweater and leather shorts.

It’s as striking as the dress she wore today. Se-eun has never been shy about wearing bold styles since working at JnC, but leather hot pants were a burden no matter how you look at it.

However, Charles immediately refused her request to change her pants.

“Today is the last day of the event. It’s not your first time wearing shorts, so what’s so difficult? Try it on, and you’ll get a much prettier fit than with other pants.”

She didn’t doubt what he said about the pretty fit. Charles’ designs have always been perfect. The only problem was that the pants were too short, but Charles didn’t think so at all.

After going home and pondering for a while, she pulled out her knee-high boots, which had been buried deep in her shoe closet.

When paired with the knee-high boots, the short length of the pants seemed a little less burdensome.

Se-eun lay on her bed, grateful for the existence of the boots she had impulsively bought last year.

She was so busy the next day that she didn’t even care about her attire. It was the last day of the event, so it was crowded all day long compared to other stores.

It was hard, but the accumulating number of pre-orders made all JnC employees happy.

Tonight, was the dinner party!

Next month was the special bonus!

The longer the line in front of the checkout counter grew, the wider the smiles on the staffs’ lips grew. Finally, it was time to close the department store.

Charles unexpectedly appeared while the staff were having fun cleaning up.

“Everyone worked hard today! I reserved a place for dinner, so let’s go!”

The dinner venue was also a ‘One Korean beef please’ place. She went to the parking lot with the excited staff, and the moment she saw Charles, who had come down first, talking with someone, she stopped.

The man standing opposite Charles was Do-won. While the staff next to her were making a fuss, saying that the boss of the Shinhwa department store was always cool, Se-eun slowly took a step back.

It has already been a month since the day she slapped him on the cheek. Nevertheless, the moment she saw him, there was a throbbing pain in one side of her chest.

I didn’t want to come to the department store because I was afraid this would happen,’ she thought bitterly as she hid herself behind people. Charles and Dowon’s conversation didn’t take long. However, after greeting Do-won, Charles got into the car and looked at Se-eun with a curious gaze.

Could you possibly have noticed that situation?

Or did you hear something from the boss?

As she thought about it, she clearly ignored Charles’ gaze. But as soon as Charles had finished eating, he grabbed her by the arm.

“Let’s have a drink after the meal.”

“Why.”

Charles readily ignored her blunt expression.

“What’s your relationship with President Kang Do-won?”

“No relationship….”

“Stop acting like there’s nothing going on. Tell me why President Kang Do-won couldn’t take his eyes off of you while talking to me.”

He couldn’t believe he was staring at her. She was standing behind the other staff the whole time Charles was talking to Do-won.

For reference, the employee in front of Se-eun was over 180cm tall. (TL: 5.9 feet)

She couldn’t be seen well from Do-won’s position.

“No way.”

She shook her head with a nonchalant look, but Charles didn’t listen.

“Then do you want to go to the store all next week?”

“The event is over, so why me?”

“It’s up to me. I’ll talk to Jaehee…”

“No!”

Then Charles narrowed his eyes at her.

“Hmm, so Jaehee already knows something?”

Oh, this is why sharp people are scary. When Se-eun closed her mouth, Charles smiled and raised his hand.

“Here, give me a bottle of tequila!”

A sigh escaped from her mouth. Eventually she told Charles what happened five years ago after she drank three shots of tequila.

“Then the reason you were so broken was because of President Kang Do-won?”

Looking at Charles with his mouth wide open, she smiled bitterly.

“Wow, President Kang Do-won reminds me of Kim Jaehee.”

He looked like a bad guy at first glance, but he was a really bad guy, right?

“Shall I ask Jaehee to withdraw the store?” Se-eun laughed at the indignant Charles’ words.

“Didn’t you try so hard to get into the Shinhwa Department Store?”

“But you’re still suffering!”

“It’s all in the past. He’s no longer related to me.”

“I don’t care about him, but do you hate going to the department store that much?”

“It’s uncomfortable if we run into each other.”

Charles opened his mouth with a sly grin.

“Then shall I try to seduce him?”

“What?”

Se-eun looked around her in surprise. Even after confirming that Jaehee was sitting at a table far away, she lowered her voice a lot.

“What are you saying! If the boss hears you, you’ll be in trouble!”

But Charles continued speaking as if it was nothing.

“Well, these days, there are times when he needs to be a little nervous, and in fact, President Kang Do-won is also my type…”

“Charles!”

She looked around nervously and frowned.

After experiencing several love fights between Charles and Jaehee, she wanted to avoid any trouble between the two. It was really hard to handle when both of them were angry.

“No, absolutely not, Charles! If you say that one more time…”

“Why? Do you feel bad for me?” Charles asked with a strange smile

“No, it’s not like that…”

“But why do you jump so much when you hear I’m interested? I’m not going to do anything right now.”

For a moment, her mouth shut tight. Charles continued to speak in a mischievous voice, as if he was trying to get a reaction out of Se-eun.

“Do you really not care? Do you remember? Because I still haven’t forgotten.”

“I’m sure I forgot everything .”

“But you haven’t dated another man in the past 5 years?”

“… . … ”

“Anyway, if you’re really not interested, you won’t mind if I poke him.”

“What are you poking?”

Just then, Jaehee’s voice came from behind. Surprised, Se-eun turned around to see if Jaehee had heard everything, but Charles’ expression was calm.

“A man,” Charles replied with a smirk.

Jaehee, who was sitting down next to Charles, narrowed his eyes and asked.

“What kind of man?”

“The man Se-eun can’t forget.”

“President Kang Do-won?”

And this time Charles’ eyes narrowed.

“As expected, I knew it. The two of you had a secret that I didn’t know about?”

“Was it a secret?” Jaehee said lightly.

“Wasn’t it found out too easily to be considered a secret?”

“Love and sneezing are things you can’t hide.”

Jaehee snorted at Charles’ triumphant reply.

“Stop harassing Se-eun and give the other employees a drink. Drink quickly and go in.”

At that, Charles stood up reluctantly. Of course, he didn’t forget to say a word to Se-eun.

“You know we’re not done talking, right? We’ll continue this later.”

Se-eun smiled with a sigh as she watched the two walk away.

 

 

❤️ Note❤️ :  We have a Discord channel now! Click HERE to get an invite! Come chat and also receive the most up-to-date news and  notifications for releases!

Thank you for reading!

If you would like to support our efforts❤️  [kofi]

ShyGurls TLS