I controlled the urge to roll my eyes as I walked past a horde of girls giggling over the article that accompanied the list. No doubt the photos in the paper would be plastered to several walls this evening.
“Are you listening to me, Yo Jeong?”
I nodded once, at the girl speaking, forcing a small smile. “I am, Ji Won. I apologize if it didn’t seem like it.”
“You’re always off in la la land. Are you thinking about your boyyyyyfriend?” She joked and my forced smile faltered for a moment.
I recovered quickly, laughing lightly as I gave her a gentle shove. This is how girls were supposed to react when they were embarrassed, right?
“Oh my God! She is thinking about him…” Another girl, Ye Ji, laughed.
As if a divine message from God himself, my phone rang in my pocket. I made a face as I looked around frantically. We weren’t actually supposed to have our phones on during school hours.
Ji Won scanned the cafeteria and pointed to a table in the corner, before heading in that direction.I paid little attention to who we were sitting with, although I should have known. While “BTS” was the top-seven guys, me and my friends were the top seven girls. It was kind of expected that we sit together, although I never understood why.
I sat down quickly and lowered my head to the table, before placing my phone to my ear. “Da?”
The table filled with casual conversation, to hide my private phone call. I smiled into my arm, where my head now rested, silently thanking them for covering me, as usual.
“Da.” I replied to the question before sighing softly. “Ya budu.”
Hanging up, I sat up with a warm smile. “Sorry about that.”
“Is everything okay?” Jungkook asked and I nodded. He smiled in reply before pulling out his own phone.
Ji Won and Ye Ji returned to their teasing, as if we had been uninterrupted. Ji Won leaned over, several of the guys struggling not to make it obvious that they were staring at her size Ds stacked on the table. “That was him, right? The boyfriend? What is he like? Is he hot? I bet he’s hot.”
I smiled and shook my head. “It really wasn’t my boyfriend…” I dropped my head slightly before mumbling “I don’t have a boyfriend. I never have.”
Ye Ji rolled her eyes. “Girl, no one at this table believes that you…” She eyed me over, as if to make a point. “…don’t have a boyfriend, let alone that you have never had one…”
The voice that spoke up, to her remark, surprised me. The number one, Park Ji Min chimed in his gorgeous, sing-song voice, “I believe you, Yo Jeong.”
I glanced up and immediately regretted my decision, looking back towards my bare knees. There was a reason that Park Ji Min was number one and, while he wasn’t my type, his beauty stunned even me.
He smiled and I heard the girls around me coo. I stood and bowed to the table before leaving without another word. Jung Ho Seok laughed loudly. “She’s too cute. Acting all shy because you girls teased her about her boyfriend.”
Ji Won leaned forward and whispered for everyone at the table to hear, “She really does have a boyfriend. I heard he is in college and picks her up a couple times a week.”
Min Yoon Gi smirked. “Who wants to find out if the rumors are true?”
Ye Ji and Ji Won nodded quickly. “Are you thinking of staking out the gate after school? See if he picks her up?“
He nodded in reply and the group all casually agreed with the three’s mischievous plot, curiosity getting the better of them.
With their intentions unknown to me, I finished out my remaining classes and, as the final bell chimed, I touched up my lipstick and rushed to the front gate. As I approached the street, finally free from the confines of the school’s walls, I felt a wave of dizziness wash over me. Hands locked around me, before I even knew I was falling.
“Oppa…” I started before meeting the piercing gaze of Jeon Jeong-guk. “Jungkook-oppa…” I muttered in surprise. It had been a long time since I felt his arms around me and I turned crimson beneath his touch.
“Have you been eating?” He asked and I could hear concern staining every word.
“A bit…” I replied softly, not making any attempt to push away.
“When I can…” My voice grew weaker by the second, as if his mere presence was stealing my soul.
“Akaia…” The voice broke through the barrier surrounding our own little world and I quickly pushed away from Jungkook. “Thank you, Jeon Jeong-guk.”
I glanced back up, seeing my friends approaching with the rest of BTS. “I have to go.” I turned and rushed over to the man who called me, stopping in front of him as he reached out to brush my hair back.
“Is that her boyfriend?” Ji Won gasped and Mina quickly chimed in, “He is cuteeeeeeeeeee.”
Ye Ji joined the conversation, quickly asking, “Why did he call her Akaia, though?”
Jeon Jeong-guk replied automatically, without thinking. “Her birth name is Nastasia Akaia Vanestov.”
Kim Tae Hyung asked curiously, “Is that THE Kaia? As in, your first love?”
Tae Hyung spoke once more, only partially remembering Jeong-guk’s story. “Doesn’t she have a drama-esque story going on?”
Jeong-guk looked up, hurt turning his eyes the color of despair. “I’m leaving first.”
Tae Hyung looked at the group in confusion. “Was it something I said?”
Ye Ji eyed me as I got into the red sports car, parked illegally in front of our school. “Something is going on here… and I want to know what…”
Min Yoon Gi smirked excitedly. “I’m in for a bit of detective work.”
The remaining members of the group started planning out their investigation, minus Park Ji Min, who now stared at the red car, still sitting in front of our school.
I eyed Hongjoong, whose anger was palpable. “Joongie…:” I muttered softly while reaching over to lightly place a hand on his arm.
“Why were you with Jeong-guk?”
“I wasn’t with him…” I struggled to find the words. “He just happened to be nearby… I felt dizzy and he caught me…”
“The deal was you stay away from Jeong-guk and I forgive you for my brother, right?”
I nodded, his words tearing at my heart. “Woo…” I mumbled, picturing his still body on the bed.
“Never forget, you promised your life to me.”
I nodded, knowing full well the promise I had made. “Can we head home, oppa?” I asked and he started the car without another word. As we started to drive away, my eyes slowly scanned over my friends, their expressions carefree and light. How I wished I could be so free. My eyes finally rested on Park Ji Min. He was staring in my direction and, although he shouldn’t be able to see into the car through Hongjoong’s tinted windows, I could swear that we made direct eye contact. It was as if he was glancing into the deepest parts of my soul. The thought unsettled me and I quickly looked away, not wanting anyone to find the secrets buried beneath.