Something Borrowed, Something Blue
I slipped out into a separate room and opened up my phone’s call function. I had no idea how Jumin was going to take this, but I’d rather tell him sooner than later.
“Yes? Is everything alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks…for stopping by. I think. Why were you there?” I leaned against a wall.
“It occurred to me that Luciel might not take my gift the way I intended it, and my driver had already left for the evening. So I took it upon myself to ensure that nothing untoward happened. I see that I did not prevent it, but I hope that all has worked out.”
I breathed out a laugh. “Knew I had you pegged.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Nothing. I figured that’s why you were there. As for everything turning out, uh…” I coughed, still unable to bite back the smile as I looked down at my left hand, seeing the claddagh there for the first time in my life that it wasn’t just a stage joke. “We’re going to get married.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
I blinked, then shook my head. “No, I mean… I mean we’ve actually gotten engaged, Jumin. I…well, neither of us really proposed to the other, I guess, but…we made that decision.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line, and I looked to check and make sure my connection hadn’t dropped. “Jumin?”
“Yes. I’m here.”
“I…” I looked at the floor. “You didn’t say anything.”
“I’m not sure I have anything to say. Did Luciel show you what I left him?”
“No, actually. He just said you were being you, and that you were being nice. What did you say?”
He coughed. “I can’t recall the precise words, but I said that I trusted he knew how lucky he was to have won your love, and saying that while I hoped it went without saying, but that I also trusted that he would cherish you for as long as you two lived. And that he deserved the happiness you’ve given him, and I wished you both the best.”
If I had known Jumin even a fraction less than I did, I wouldn’t have caught the strain in his voice. But I’d gotten way too good at hearing it, and it caught me like a spike to the chest. “Jumin…”
“I would not change anything that I said.” Another long pause. “You are a remarkable person, Rion. I have seen how truly happy Luciel makes you, and you him. Anyone would be foolish to come between the two of you. As I said, I would not be surprised to find you had married him.” He cleared his throat. “I wish the two of you the utmost happiness, and I extend a hand of generosity to anything you might require, though I doubt you will want for much with him.”
“Jumin.” I slid to sit on the floor, my left hand toying with the necklace Jumin had only given me hours prior, the odd feeling of Jumin’s charms clicking against the ring signifying my dedication to Luciel not lost on me. “I’m not dumb. I can hear what you’re feeling.”
“I never claimed that you were dumb. And I am feeling a great many things right now.” A distant sound of a passing car told me he was out on his balcony. “I will not play dumb and pretend that I am unaware of what you are expecting me to say, and you are not entirely wrong. Yes, I am jealous. I envy the ease of your relationship with him, and the totality of the love that surrounds the both of you when you are together. I envy that there could possibly be more to what I feel for you, and that Luciel is the holder of those emotions. But I am equally aware that there is more than what I feel, and that you are in a committed relationship with Luciel. And I would not be the fool to tear you apart. I feared I already had today.”
I closed my eyes. “We talked about why…why we weren’t going to try. We agreed.”
“And I still agree with what we said. I do not think a romantic relationship between the two of us would be wise, on either side.” A pause. “But that does not mean that I do not envy it.”
I could hear the edge of what Jumin really wanted to say, and didn’t know what to do to get the words out of him. “Just tell me what you’re thinking, hon. Please.” Direct usually worked, but not often with emotions. I was taking a gamble.
There was a long pause, before I heard him move back inside and close the door to the balcony. Guessing from the sounds, he’d gone back into his room and laid on the bed. When he spoke, I could barely hear him. “I lost one of my closest friends, and may be losing another. I thought I might lose the one true relationship I had, be it imaginary or not. …I don’t know that I can stand to lose you as well.”
My heart clenched, and I pressed my eyes shut even more. “You’re not going to lose me, Jumin. Luciel’s not going to lock me up somewhere and not let me have any friends. Nothing is going to change between us.”
“V changed, when he met Rika.”
“I’m not Rika. Or V. And neither is Luciel. You are not going to lose me.” I had to press the point. If Jumin had one real fear, it was losing the few people he’d ever grown close to. Interpersonal relationships weren’t his forte, not after the mess his father had made of his early childhood. When the whole Sarah incident had happened, and he’d been afraid for Elizabeth’s safety… This was the core of it. He’d finally made one more connection, one more person to see through all the mess he’d become, and now another man had come along to sweep me off my feet.
“I wish I could keep myself from doubting you.”
“Of all the people I know, you are absolutely the one who could do that. Don’t doubt me. I’m still wearing your necklace.” The key kept finding its way between my fingers. The topaz was beautiful, but I knew it was the key that had truly been the message. “I’m not going to take off the necklace. It’ll be my something blue for the wedding.”
A breath of a laugh, and the vice on my chest eased at least a little. “Are you planning that already? I can’t imagine it will be traditional.”
“Between Luciel and I? Seems unlikely.”
“Do you plan to wear a dress?”
“I don’t know. Normally I would have said no, but…I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about it.” There was a silence, but this time, I let him break it.
“You’ll be beautiful. No matter the choice.”
“I’m a handsome devil,” was my immediate response–and what I usually said to something like that.
He breathed out another laugh. “Indeed you are.” There was a sound in the background, and I heard him get up and move again. “Mm.”
“What is it?”
“Not sure.” Some clicking–he’d sat down at his computer. “Ah. I should have expected, after the message earlier. I’ve received Assistant Kang’s two week notice.”
“Oh, Jumin.” Everything was happening to him at once. I should have waited to tell him. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. “I’m sorry.”
“There is nothing for you to apologize for.” He’d found his usual clipped tone again, but I could still hear the struggle to keep it even. “I will find a new chief assistant, and I wish you and Luciel…and Zen and Jaehee the best. And Chrissy and Yoosung, for that matter.” I could hear the soft meow that meant Elizabeth had hopped up somewhere nearby, ever aware of her owner’s mood.
“I should have told you in person.”
“I prefer that you did it this way.” That didn’t reassure me in the least. “It is almost time for Elizabeth to be fed. I should let you go.”
“Jumin, you know I…” My voice faltered, and I couldn’t find a new set of words.
Luckily, as he so often did, he knew what I wasn’t saying. “Yes. And I you. Don’t worry about me, Rion. Please, if you believe nothing else I’ve said to you, believe me when I say this. I want nothing more than for you to be happy.”
“I know you do.” My voice was a rasp, cracking because I couldn’t force it to be normal.
“Then go be with your fiancé, as opposed to being on the phone with another man.”
I covered my eyes with a hand, pushing my glasses up onto my forehead. “I’m still going to send you my resumé.”
“I’ll take it into consideration.” Then, softer: “Good night, my dear.”
I couldn’t reply. He didn’t wait for an answer.