Camera flashes went off every few seconds as a slim woman with natural black hair assumed several different poses.
“Good, that’s good.”
A wide grin didn’t want to leave the face of the photographer as he snapped away with his camera.
The final click of the shutter rang out and the photographer raised his head.
“This is great. Nicely done.”
Cousin/older sister of Yu Jin-Ho, as well as his best friend, Yu Soo-Hyun, smiled brightly and bowed her head to the director.
“Thank you for your hard work!”
“You too, Miss Soo-Hyun.”
All thanks to Yu Soo-Hyun’s rather affable personality, the photo shoots she participated in were always filled with jovial laughter.
It was to such an extent that, even those photographers previously unwilling to work with her because of her image as the daughter of a chaebol family, would actively seek her out for more photo shoots after working with her just once.
“Thanks for your work today.”
With a bright expression, Yu Soo-Hyun thanked the photographer and other staff members of the shoot, before trotting over to her coordinator who also happened to be her manager as well.
“Unni, did Jin-Hui call me back?” (TL: Unni = honorific to denote older female by another female, usually younger)
The coordinator shook her head, her expression one of worry.
Yu Soo-Hyun had tried to call her cousin four times already. She could only pout unhappily at the fact that her diligence hadn’t been rewarded with a reply so far.
‘She’s supposed to be back in the country since yesterday, so how come I can’t get in touch with her?’
Yu Soo-Hyun heard the news of her cousin, studying abroad, briefly making a trip home around yesterday morning.
She had been involved in a photo shoot that lasted the whole night and was fast asleep when her cousin’s call came through. Who’d have thought that missing one phone call would lead to such a hassle?
There was utterly not a peep from her cousin since then.
‘Did something happen to her?’
No, that couldn’t be. Yu Soo-Hyun shook her head.
That girl was none other than Yu Jin-Hui, the eldest daughter of Yu Myung-Han – the owner of the biggest corporation in South Korea. The odds of something bad happening to her was about the same as a rank S Hunter entering a dungeon only to meet with a grisly end.
“Unni, gimme my phone back for a sec, please.”
Yu Soo-Hyun took the phone back, thinking that she’d try her luck again. But then, her phone suddenly began vibrating and a bright expression immediately formed on her face.
‘Is this from Jin-Hui?’
However, she began pouting again after confirming who the caller was.
Yu Soo-Hyun tapped on the ‘Answer’ icon and spoke in an annoyed voice.
– “Noona!” (TL: honorific to denote older female by a younger male)
It was from Yu Jin-Ho, regrettably.
Yu Soo-Hyun was well aware of the fact that this kid would only call her ‘noona’ if he wanted something from her. She spat out a grand sigh in her heart and asked him.
“Do you know by any chance where Jin-Hui is right now?”
– “Noona? What about my noona? Wait, is she in Korea??”
Now that she thought about it for a sec, didn’t this kid get chased out of his own home after rejecting his father’s order of becoming the Yujin Guild’s Master? Indeed, this cousin of hers proved to be of no help whatsoever, even now.
“No, never mind. Okay, so what did you call me for?”
Surely, he wouldn’t be calling her for another drinking binge like the last time. It was then, Yu Jin-Ho’s rather exhilarated voice came out of the phone.
– “Noona, don’t you want to join our Guild?”
What on earth was he on about, out of the blue?
A thin frown formed for a second there on Yu Soo-Hyun’s fine, smooth forehead.
She was so dumbfounded that she simply had to ask again.
– “Instead of getting dragged to my father’s Guild and acting like its public relations mouthpiece, don’t you think it’ll be a lot better for you to leave your name on our Guild’s employee list and do whatever you want?”
….And this was the rather remarkable reply she got in return.
Yu Soo-Hyun’s voice became quite low as she got more and more suspicious.
“And why do you need my name in the first place?”
– “We’re still short of one last Guild founding member, you see.”
“Wait, are you telling me to join a Guild that’s not even a real thing yet??”
Yu Jin-Ho answered back oh-so-innocently.
Yu Soo-Hyun felt her head slowly develop a pulsing migraine simply from wondering just what this kid believed in to become such an optimistic human being.
‘No, besides all that…. Just who could be the other person, then?’
Rather than the ‘idiot’ asking her to put her name down as one of the Guild’s founding members, she was getting a lot more suspicious of the other person’s reasoning for wanting to make a Guild with this ‘idiot’, instead.
“You, you aren’t acting like this ‘cuz some shady character sweet-talked you into it, right?”
Who’d want to create a Guild with a rank D Hunter possessing a negligible amount of hunting experience other than swindlers? However, Yu Jin-Ho’s response was rather different from her expectations.
From the other side of the phone line, the sound of a chuckle formed when the corner of one’s lips arched up came out, followed soon after by a relaxed voice.
– “You’ll be shocked if you find out who that ‘shady character’ is, you know?”
“Okay, who is it?”
“I’m hanging up.”
– “Ah! Hold on, waiiiit!”
Her hand moving towards the ‘End Call’ icon stopped as that desperately pleading voice came out of the speaker. Yu Soo-Hyun smirked and placed the phone back against her ear.
“I’m giving you three seconds to tell me. Three, two….”
– “Seong Jin-Woo!!”
Yu Soo-Hyun’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets after hearing that rather unexpected name.
“You mean, that Hunter Seong Jin-Woo??”
“You mean, that rank S Hunter who single-handedly smashed apart Rhee Min-Seong’s press conference before suddenly disappearing from everyone’s view?”
– “…..I think you’re being surprised by the wrong thing here, though?”
“Are you really telling me that it’s him?”
Regardless of what Yu Jin-Ho’s retort was like, Seong Jin-Woo would forever be the rank S Hunter who stepped on the pride of that arrogant jerk-off Rhee Min-Seong in Yu Soo-Hyun’s eyes.
Just how refreshed did she feel back then? A lot.
If what Yu Jin-Ho said was true, then it was not that difficult to understand that bottomless, sky-high confidence of his.
‘Well, Jin-Ho might like to put on airs sometimes, but he’s not the type to lie, so…’
Yu Soo-Hyun pondered for a second or two, before asking her cousin again.
“Can we meet up and talk?”
– “Of course! Why don’t you come to our office? Hyung-nim said he’d be stopping by later, too.”
“What’s the address?”
Yu Soo-Hyun took a post-it note from nearby and quickly jotted down the address. She did her best to calm her bubbling excitement down and made her reply.
“I’m on my way right now.”
– “See you later, noona!”
That’s where the conversation came to its end. The coordinator, ‘accidentally’ overhearing the contents of the call, sent out a probing question.
“Do you need to go somewhere? Are you even planning to drop out of the afterparty?”
Yu Soo-Hyun rapidly swapped out of her modelling clothes and packed her belongings as if she didn’t even have the time to explain herself.
“There’s someone I wanted to meet, you see.”
“I’ll explain later.”
Yu Soo-Hyun tried to brush it aside and was about to leave the shoot location, but the coordinator hurriedly called out and stopped her.
“Please tell me who it is! I need to know who it is so I can report back to the Chairman!”
Yu Soo-Hyun’s father was the Chairman of the XX Pharmaceuticals. When his daughter told him that she wanted to work in the entertainment industry, he came up with a single condition. And that would be her being accompanied around by a chaperone all the time.
Naturally, the coordinator was hired by Yu Soo-Hyun’s father. Meaning, she was Yu Soo-Hyun’s coordinator, her manager, as well as her monitor.
Yu Soo-Hyun belatedly remembered that her coordinator unni would get scolded by her father if she left without saying a single word like this. So, she turned around and grinned refreshingly before making her reply.
“It’s Mister Seong Jin-Woo!”
Yu Soo-Hyun quickly ran off after that. The coordinator’s expression was slowly filling up with worry as she watched the distancing back of her charge.
“The Chairman will throw a fit when he learns of his daughter meeting a man without permission….”
The coordinator tutted for a little while, before she began recalling what Yu Soo-Hyun had said.
‘Wait….. Who did she say she was meeting again?’
Didn’t the coordinator hear that person’s name before somewhere?
She carefully combed through her memories only for her brows to shoot up in surprise. She quickly swivelled her head towards the exit Yu Soo-Hyun used only a moment ago.
“Who did you say it was again?!”
‘It’s not here… not here, either….’
Yu Jin-Ho stared daggers at the computer screen while chewing on his fingernails.
‘Not here…. It’s not here, too…..’
From a certain point in time, all thread forums and posts slagging his dear hyung-nim off had vanished from the view. But, then again, such a thing wasn’t that hard to understand why.
His hyung-nim rescued rank S Hunters from Jeju Island. He then closed a rank B Gate in double time and cleared up the heavy traffic. And yesterday, he saved the lives of a whole bunch of high school students as well.
So, it’d be far stranger to find someone trying to badmouth hyung-nim now.
Those persistently annoying anti-hyung-nim idiots had been mostly driven away into oblivion, all due to Yu Jin-Ho’s own concerted efforts as well as everything hyung-nim had done so far.
Even those rarer-than-rare negative comments that cropped up on articles concerning hyung-nim couldn’t endure against the concentrated cross-fire of other commenters, and would eventually get deleted.
This was excellent news. Indeed, it was a great development.
‘But, why am I….?’
Why was he feeling so empty right now?
It felt like the things he could do was decreasing one by one, what with things going like this.
Yu Jin-Ho formed a saddened expression and operated his mouse. In the meantime, the office’s door quietly opened up. Jin-Woo was entering the premise.
Yu Jin-Ho’s complexion brightened up after confirming Jin-Woo’s face, and he quickly stood up to bow his head.
“You came, hyung-nim?”
Jin-Woo looked quite fatigued. But, that was rather understandable, really. He had been staying next to Jin-Ah’s side from last night till this morning. He briefly stopped by his home to get a quick wash-up before showing up here.
In case a rank A Gate suddenly popped up in the hospital, he even left Beru in her shadow to deal with all the threats coming from there.
Yu Jin-Ho asked in an anxious voice.
“Hyung-nim, is your sister doing okay?”
Jin-Woo kept his answer short. He was trying hard to show that everything was fine, but then, he was still her older brother and couldn’t stop worrying about her.
Even the doctor in charge recommended that she needed to be in close observation for the time being, as the mental shock she suffered would have been quite serious.
‘I hope she can quickly overcome this….’
After all, she was a bright, energetic kid to begin with. All Jin-Woo could do now was to cheer her on in his heart.
It was then.
“Oh my gosh!! You were telling the truth!”
The surprised voice of a woman came from Jin-Woo’s side. He turned around to find Yu Soo-Hyun exiting from the conference suite with a pair of very large eyes staring back at him.
Jin-Woo shifted his gaze over to Yu Jin-Ho and silently asked him.
‘And she is?’
Yu Jin-Ho replied with a pair of tense eyes.
‘It’s her, hyung-nim.’
Before arriving here, Jin-Woo had already heard the gist of the situation from Yu Jin-Ho.
[“There is this one person that perfectly fits your criteria, hyung-nim! How about meeting her, at least once?”]
Someone who carried around a Hunter licence but couldn’t be bothered about the matters of the Guild, yet worthy of their trust.
‘And, she’s even a rank A Hunter, too….’
Her rank wasn’t all that important, though.
In any case, the first impression she gave off was not bad at all, perhaps owing to her clear eyes and her bright smile. They shared quick and simple introductions.
Before they could sign the contract, Jin-Woo decided to ask her about something he was curious about.
“If you do this, your relationship with your uncle might get a lot more tricky. Will that be fine with you?”
“That’s still better than getting mixed up with Yu Jin-Seong, you know.”
Jin-Woo looked back to Yu Jin-Ho, and the latter embarrassedly scratched the back of his head.
“He’s my older brother, hyung-nim.”
‘Ahh, that bad-personality older brother he talked about. Right, Yu Jin-Seong was supposed to take over the Guild if Yu Jin-Ho failed to cut the mustard, wasn’t it?’
Jin-Woo quietly nodded his head.
This wouldn’t have happened if Yu Jin-Ho did as he was told and took over the Yujin Guild. In a way, Yu Soo-Hyun was another victim of the choice Yu Jin-Ho made.
‘Because of this kid, many people are being greatly inconvenienced, aren’t they….?’
Jin-Woo shifted his slightly narrowed eyes over to Yu Jin-Ho. The latter formed a happy smile, not knowing what was in the former’s mind.
While Jin-Woo was groaning inwardly, Yu Soo-Hyun cautiously walked up to him.
“Uhm, excuse me….”
She was blushing just a little bit. It seemed like she had something important to say to him, judging from how her eyes were quietly trembling like that. Jin-Woo also formed a serious expression.
“Is there something you’d like to ask me?”
Yu Soo-Hyun hesitated slightly but after hearing his words, she worked up enough courage to ask him. Her eyes even began sparkling.
“Can we take a selfie together? I wish to upload it to my SNS profile.”
The Chairman’s office of the XX Pharmaceuticals.
The younger brother of Yu Myung-Han, Yu Seok-Ho’s expression was far more grave and serious than ever before.
“Are you telling me the truth?”
The coordinator nodded her head. She looked quite scared at the moment.
“My little girl is meeting up with Hunter Seong Jin-Woo?”
“That’s correct, Mister Chairman.”
“Can it be another man with the same name?”
“I was also feeling unsure about that, but this….”
The coordinator rummaged through her pockets and cautiously pulled out her phone. Yu Soo-Hyun’s SNS profile was displayed on the phone’s screen.
Yu Seok-Ho’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets after he saw the last uploaded image. Wasn’t that really the face of the Hunter that kept showing up in the news lately?!
‘This, this is…..!’
Yu Seok-Ho glared daggers until he could almost bore a hole through the photo, but eventually, he began massaging his forehead and spat out a soft groan.
“A-are you alright, sir?”
“….Please leave me alone for a while.”
“Uh-huh! Didn’t I say to leave me alone?”
Yu Seok-Ho returned the phone back to the coordinator and almost literally chased her out of his office. And then, having made sure she was gone for good, he quickly switched on his computer to read every article concerning Jin-Woo online.
⸢[Hunter Seong Jin-Woo, what could be his true worth?]⸥
⸢[Propositions flooding in from every country in the world! What will Hunter Seong Jin-Woo choose to do next?]
⸢[Chairman Park Jong-Su of the Knight Order Guild: “Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s abilities are impossible to evaluate.”]⸥
⸢[Hunter Seong Jin-Woo: Did the Americans contact him in secret already?]⸥
⸢[Experts describe Hunter Seong Jin-Woo as the walking, talking large corporation….]⸥
Public’s interest in that Hunter had gone through the roof ever since the raid on Jeju Island. The clear indication of that was all these articles found online.
As Chairman Yu Seok-Ho continued to read the articles one at the time, the look of admiration formed on his face.
Two hours passed by like that.
He leaned back against his chair as his fatigued eyes ached rhythmically. He had been concentrating so hard that his forehead was soaked completely in sweat.
He dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief and put a cigarette between his lips. But, before he could light it up, he remembered something. He put the cigarette down and picked up his phone instead.
– “Is it you, dear?”
A voice of a middle-aged woman came from the phone.
– “It’s rare for you to call me at this time of the day. What’s the matter?”
“Huhuh, dear. Do you happen to know who our little girl is getting acquainted with lately?”
– “Excuse me?”
“I’m telling you, my dear. I sure have raised our girl properly, haven’t I?”
– “What are you even talking about all of a sudden?”
Chairman Yu Seok-Ho was utterly sure of it.
Just who was his little girl, Soo-Hyun? Wasn’t she his daughter who did not lack for anything when it came to her looks, her background, and even her academic achievements?
Even if he supposed that these two young people were nothing more than just acquaintances now, it was only a matter of time before they developed a far more intimate relationship.
– “What’s gotten into you, dear?”
The voice of his wife coming out of the phone’s speaker sounded puzzled now.
– “You hated the idea of a boy sitting next to our Soo-Hyun, so didn’t you go and speak to her school’s administrators every single year until her graduation to make sure she’d be paired up with only girls….?”
“Huhuhuh. Did I really do that?”
– “Just who is she seeing that you’re behaving this way? Stop building up the suspense and please tell me already.”
Yu Seok-Ho suddenly guffawed loudly enough to almost shake the chairman’s office.
“You’d be just as surprised as me when you find out, ahahahahaha!”
< Chapter 146 > Fin.