Chapter 105: Chapter 105
About fifteen days after Ani & Funny was founded, it began to establish its place in the field. Above all, the financial support of the city of Ansan was crucial. The city government paid half the salary of the talent donation teachers but also purchased the used computers and programs from the bankruptcy sale of Imagingpia with subsidies.
Even those working for Hyunwoo’s animation company were also actively involved. In particular, Jungah offered more help than Hyunwoo expected. When he came down to Ansan from Seoul over the weekend, she stopped by the House of Happiness to exchange views with the kids about their animation work. Thanks to her help, they were already creating the theme of their stories as well as the characters.
Hyunwoo was just happy to see that. He just felt happy without any particular reason whenever he thought of Ani & Funny, and he focused on his start-up company as soon as he left the office.
The Anifan kids were largely dependent on Hyunwoo. Whenever they came upon good ideas, they sent him text messages on and off to ask for his opinion. He just smiled before he knew it after confirming their messages, which his colleagues at Aurum could never know.
“What are you so happy about, Assistant Manager Jang?” asked one of his colleagues.
“You bet. Do you have a new girlfriend?” asked another.
Embarrassed a bit, Hyunwoo spoke vaguely, just scratching his head, “Oh, nothing particular.”
Then, he sent a text message to Hyunsuk, the senior of the cooking club of the House of Happiness, I think I can stop by around 8 pm, so get some food for me, okay?
She replied, Yes, yes, yes!
After confirming her cute reply, Hyunwoo raised his head with a smile again.
At that moment Suji Min who sat across from his desk was looking at him.
When her eyes met his, she avoided his eyes awkwardly as if she was caught sneaking a peek.
Hyunwoo tilted his head at her behavior.
Her attitude toward him was awkward these days. She seemed to keep a watch on him secretly and her glassy stare seemed to show she was upset about him.
Why is she acting like that? Did I do something wrong to her?
He tried to find out why and when she changed her attitude toward him.
In hindsight, it coincided with the time when her mother joined the senior group he took on mountain outings. Since then she began to give him the cold shoulder, and all the more so recently. Despite all of that, he didn’t do anything discourteous or annoying to her. As he took her mother to outings and the alternative school, he did something good, not bad, for her and her mother.
Then, suddenly one thing came to his mind.
Is it because of her mother’s teaching at the alternative school?
Hyunwoo’s parents spent only one day at the school for teaching. But Suji’s mother, Mrs. Kong was very energetic. Even though she could not move freely, she was teaching the kids twice a week. She sometimes took a taxi, but usually, she took a bus.
She might have other reasons, of course, he thought. It was possible she found a new boyfriend suddenly or had a quarrel with her boyfriend.
Still, Hyunwoo couldn’t figure out why she was acting cold because she didn’t say anything to him.
While Hyunwoo was wondering why, his colleagues left the office one by one.
Before leaving the office, Sangho Oh initiated a conversation with her in an affectionate and kind tone, “Suji, shall we have dinner together? I’ve found a famous pasta restaurant. You’ll be surprised if you taste the food there.”
It looked like Sangho and Suji got pretty close these days. In particular, Sangho treated her affectionately as if she was his girlfriend or sister. Every time she left the office for the day, he tried to treat her to dinner or give her a ride to her house. Suji didn’t refuse his efforts coldly. Sometimes, she left the office with him and smiled brightly even when she had to refuse his request. Today, she refused his request.
“Sorry, I think I have to work a bit longer this evening and eat at home today. Thanks anyway.”
“Do you have lots of work to do? Can I help you?”
“No thanks. I can finish it in two or three hours.”
“Okay, then. Let me give you a call later.”
When Sangho left, only Hyunwoo and Suji were left alone in the whole office.
Hyunwoo looked at her to ask why she changed her attitude toward him, but she was busy with work, her head down and paid no attention to him at all.
The atmosphere between them was cold.
Hyunwoo stood up and went to the water purifier. He made jasmine tea, her favorite, and came to her desk with it.
Only then did Suji cast a glance at him, “Thank you.”
But that’s it. She focused again on work as if she put a post-it memo on her forehead that read ‘Don’t speak to me as I’m busy!’.
Hyunwoo could not bring up what he wanted to speak to her about in such an atmosphere. For almost two hours they just focused on work like that without saying even one word to each other.
Finally, Hyunwoo sorted out the files after he was done, and broke the silence by saying, “Are you still not finished? Can I help you?”
“No thanks. I’m done, too.”
Suddenly she asked, “Do you have an appointment this evening?”
Hyunwoo opened his eyes wide. It looked like he found a chance to ask her about her icy attitude toward him.
“Not really. I don’t have any particular appointment,” said Hyunwoo quickly.
“Seriously? Are you sure?” demanded Suji.
Hyunwoo felt something suspicious. It was as if she was asking him, knowing already she knew his appointment.
Hyunwoo had no appointment, and if any, it was his dinner at the House of Happiness.
Narrowing her eyes, she asked all of a sudden, “Can you buy me dinner then?”
At the moment, Hyunwoo was startled. By now Hyunsuk, the senior of the cooking class at the House of Happiness would have prepared dinner for him, and that with her all sincerity. And the Anifan kids would be waiting for him. Though they must be hungry, they would be waiting for him to dine together. If he canceled the appointment suddenly, how disappointed they would be.
When Hyunwoo was hesitant to reply, Suji stared at him coldly.
Sangho was right.
Suji was half in doubt about what Sangho had said about Hyunwoo’s close relationship with Minhye Park, the president’s daughter. It was true that Minhye was getting pretty affectionate to Hyunwoo during the recent picnic, but he didn’t show any interest in her.
Sometimes Hyunwoo was caught exchanging text messages with someone, and he looked happy on such occasions, with a satisfactory look on his face.
Suji thought she knew about men, so she felt Hyunwoo was in love with some woman. She was confident that the woman was Minhye. While looking for a chance to ask him, only now did she ask Hyunoo about it.
Suji stood up, with a sulky look on her face, “I’m disappointed. I didn’t know you’re such a guy.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you think I’ll blame you if I know you’ve been dating Minhye? I can understand you’re dating her for some reason, but why are you hiding it from me like this? You’re even lying to me on this.”
Hyunwoo’s eyes opened wide, “What the heck are you talking about? Am I dating who? Lying?”
“You have an appointment this evening after work, right? Isn’t it Minhye you exchanged text messages in the office a while ago? You can’t lie it to me, can you?”
Hyunwoo scratched his head and quickly took out his cell phone to show her the text message. Though he couldn’t figure out why she had such a misunderstanding of him, he wanted to clear it up as soon as possible.
“Actually I requested someone at the House of Happiness to make dinner for me. If you can’t trust me, take a look at this message. Confirm it if I’m lying to you.”
She narrowed her eyes again and took a quick look at the message.
She couldn’t see any message on his request, except for a short reply “Yes, yes, yes” from someone by the name of Hyunsuk.
Suji showed a sneering smile, “I think you must have saved Minhye’s name as Hyunsuk on your cell phone, right? How cunning you are!”
“Okay, then. Why don’t we have dinner together at the House of Happiness? Hyunsuk must have prepared it already.”
Still, Suji could not believe it, not completely persuaded.
“Sure. Let’s go together then.”
She got in Hyunwoo’s van and they headed to the House of Happiness. She wondered if Hyunwoo could really go there while in the van, but Hyunwoo drove to the House of Happiness.
Finally, they arrived there, and Hyunwoo turned off the engine.
“Let’s get out. Hyunsuk must have been waiting for me very long.”
“Are you sure there is a woman called Hyunsuk here?”
“Do you think Minye has come here to prepare dinner for me then? I’m hungry. Just follow me.”
Hyunwoo walked ahead, with Suji following him with a perplexed look on her face. As Hyunwoo said, the dinner was prepared for him in the dining hall.
Seeing Suji along with him, Hyunsuk opened her wide, “Oh, two of you, not you alone, brother Hyunwoo!”
“Sorry, she joined me suddenly. If you don’t have enough boiled rice, just boil ramen noodles.”
“No, we have some more boiled rice. Please have a seat.”
Suji took a seat hesitantly, “Sorry, Hyunsuk. I think I bother you too often like this.”
“No, no, not at all. Let me bring brother Jihun and other kids. They are so hungry at the moment,” said Hyunsuk and then left to bring the kids.
Left alone with Hyunwoo, Suji asked furtively, “Do you have dinner here often?”
“Several times per week. By the way, you look weird these days. Did I do something disappointing to you?”
“Oh, no, not at all.”
“Then, why are you acting like that to me?”
“Acting like what?” said she, as if she couldn’t figure out. Of course, she knew but didn’t want to bring it up to him. Hyunwoo didn’t want to question closely. All he wanted was for her to stop acting coldly towards him.
Scratching his head, Hyunwoo replied, “I’m glad to hear that, Suji.”
A little later the kids came into the dining hall, all feeling hungry.
“Wow, how beautiful she is! How do you do, sister?”
The kids were so happy to see Suji, and she smiled a bright smile at them.
“How is your learning these days? Try to learn as much as possible from the talent donation teachers while they’re available.”
They just smiled, “Well, they’re not donating talent, to be honest with you. They’re getting paid for their teaching, right? Then, this is a private lesson for us.”
It was true.
Looking at them, Hyunwoo grinned, “There is something you don’t know. This is not a private lesson but a talent donation. So, try to learn from them in gratitude all the time, okay?”