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    “Anyway, I was right. He’s my lost brother. Did we make a bet back then?”

    Ji-an spoke playfully on purpose.



    After Woo-seok’s indifferent response, Ji-an ended the call. Woo-seok, who was not good at comforting words, joked that they should have a drink, then realized “Oh right, you can’t drink!” and chuckled. Ji-an just listened to Woo-seok’s vent and ended the conversation by thanking him.

    Woo-seok’s way of comforting Ji-an was to get angry on his behalf. Ji-an squatted down, staring at his toenails for a long time before standing up. He was thirsty.

    He went downstairs to the living room with feeble steps and happened to run into Kang Boon-nam. They say enemies meet even on a narrow bridge. Ji-an squinted his eyes as he passed his grandmother and opened the refrigerator.

    “The sun is high in the sky. Are you just getting up? You’re just as lazy as your good-for-nothing mother.”

    Not wanting to respond, he just ignored her and gulped down some juice. But suddenly, it was as if a puzzle was coming together in his mind.

    In Kang Boon-nam’s relentless torment of Yoon Ok-hee, Ji-an saw something akin to the remnants of emotions. He used to think of her simply as a mean mother-in-law, but now it felt different. Was she worried that her daughter-in-law would get arrogant and go on a rampage if she even treated her well out of guilt?

    What Ji-an couldn’t stand was why Yoon Ok-hee… his mother, who must have known everything, never showed any sign of it. How could his mother in the original world know all this and still raise Seo Ji-hyuk with love?

    Why was she so cold to Ji-an?

    Why…? It was difficult to understand at all.

    Did his older brother know everything and write this story? To mock Ji-an for not knowing anything, the character was presented as a psychopath who abandoned his older brother when he was young.

    Did he want Ji-an to abandon him?

    In other words, was this his way of venting by making fun of this whole weird family with a trashy makjang family drama?

    Perhaps thevoice warned him because it knew that things would turn out this way. Ji-an couldn’t even think of calling the voice. Every time he desperately needed it, he tried to call it but was always refused. It was time for him to stop psychologically depending on an unknown entity.

    “Whatever the doctor says, shouldn’t you know by now?”

    Kang Boon-nam poked Ji-an’s side as he was lost in thought. Not knowing what she was asking, he just rolled his eyes, so she clicked her tongue and elaborated on her question.

    “Is it a boy or a girl?”

    “Ah, that… I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”

    To be precise, he had said he didn’t want to know. Kang Boon-nam furrowed her brows deeply.

    “Not even properly taking care of something like that, wandering around like a half-wit!  How can someone who’s having a kid not know!”


    “You’re so lacking you can’t even get married like others, and you’re parading around pregnant as if that’s something to brag about. Yet you can’t take care of anything, what’s so proud about that, huh!”

    Anger surged within him. His vision seemed to turn red. Normally, Ji-an would have let such abuse go in one ear and out the other, but today was different. His grandmother, Kang Boon-nam, suddenly looked like a demon. A demon that preys on people disguised as family.

    Ji-an lifted the cup he had finished drinking. His arm trembled uncontrollably. His last shred of sanity was straining to hold back. Outside, thunderclaps boomed and rumbled as the dim interior occasionally flashed bright white. Ji-an’s pale pupils also flickered with the flashes of light.

    “This bastard…what are you trying to throw? Go ahead, throw it! You punk, throw it!”

    When the shouting escalated, Butler Ahn came running from somewhere. Despite Butler Ahn’s attempts to stop her, Kang Boon-nam continued to scream, and Ji-an eventually threw the cup into the sink. Clank- The glass broke and shards flew out. Looking down at the stinging sensation, he saw a red line drawn on his white hand.

    “Ha… damn it. This crazy messed-up family.”

    Oddly, the person who came to mind at that moment was Jeong Hee-seo. If he sees this, his hyung-nim will get angry.

    And just like that, his reddened vision cleared right up. The boiling chaos in his head cooled down, leaving him feeling shockingly calm. Ji-an relaxed his tense shoulders.

    Even after being dragged into the room, Kang Boon-nam’s curses didn’t stop. A servant came and cleaned up the shattered glass Ji-an had broken. Among them furtively glancing around, Ji-an felt a headache coming on.

    Boom, another thunderclap roared as the interior flashed with white light. Ji-an slowly walked over and stood in front of the window.

    Rain was pouring down beyond the floor-to-ceiling window that filled one side of the living room. The water was rising faster than it was draining, causing flooding in the yard. The saturated water rippled like a pond over the deep green lawn. Ji-an’s emotions were also overflowing, teetering on the edge of a breakdown.

    Suddenly, he desperately needed Jeong Hee-seo.

    * * *

    Jeong Hee-seo turned his head in the direction where the light was fading. Strangely, his eyes were drawn to the weather phenomenon he normally wouldn’t have paid attention to. Jeong Hee-young, who was sitting next to him, also looked in the same direction.

    “What’s the matter? Are you suddenly scared of lightning at your age?”

    Jeong Hee-seo just shook his head without answering. Something kept bothering him, making him feel uneasy. He lifted his teacup and took a sip, trying to calm himself with the fragrant flower tea.

    On the small plate before him were some traditional Korean sweets made by Myeong Hyun-sook. Jeong Hee-seo gently pushed the plate toward Jeong Hee-young.

    “Have some, Noona.”

    Jeong Hee-young pushed the plate back and chukled.

    “How much effort does Grandma put into making these for you, and you never eat them? Just have some.”

    Even if it didn’t suit his taste, he should at least make an effort to try it when offered. At times like these, Jeong Hee-young worried if her younger brother lacked social skills.

    “How can you never eat even once and avoid it forever? Geez, you’re so stubbornly picky… Grow up a little.”

    Jeong Hee-seo didn’t even blink at Jeong Hee-young’s scolding. His lowered lashes didn’t even flutter, which only irritated Jeong Hee-young more.

    “Ugh, you little brat…”

    “That’s enough.”

    Myeong Hyun-sook, who was coming in just then, raised her hand and stopped her granddaughter. It wasn’t often that the family gathered together, and it wasn’t Myeong Hyun-sook’s taste for quarrels to break out. However, she also raised her eyebrows when she noticed that Jeong Hee-seo’s plate was the same as before.

    “Why is our Hee-seo so out of sorts today?”

    Myeong Hyun-sook took a bite of the rice cake with an “mmm” sound. Nodding, she seemed pleased that they turned out well despite making them herself.

    “But you used to at least pretend to eat them to humor your grandmother… I even got praised as a master by that famous teacher Shin for these. You make me sad, Hee-seo.”

    Jeong Hee-seo reluctantly picked up the smallest piece of the Korean sweets in front of him and slowly put it in his mouth. The sweet and sticky texture filled his mouth. He forced himself to chew and swallow despite his teeth sticking together, noticing Jeong Hee-young’s eyes crinkle as she stifled a laugh.

    “…Is Han-joo here yet?”

    Jeong Hee-seo asked the person standing behind Myeong Hyun-sook with a darkened expression. Despite being caught off guard by the question, he calmly replied,

    “He has just arrived. I was informed he is on his way up with his companion.”

    “How exciting.”

    Myeog Hyun-sook’s eyes sparkled as she rested her chin on her palms.

    This meeting had been requested by Jeong Han-joo, asking Myeong Hyun-sook to make time for it. Jeong Hee-seo had made it clear from the start that he wouldn’t attend, but when told that meant they’d have to call his parents back from Europe, he reluctantly got dragged along.

    Since the one who requested the meeting was late, Jeong Hee-seo couldn’t help but be in a foul mood. From the first minute of waiting for Jeong Han-joo and his companion, Hee-seo’s mind was occupied with one thought.

    ‘If I’d known this would happen, I should’ve stopped by and had breakfast with Ji-an.’

    How many hours had passed since handing over the handkerchief in front of Ji-an’s house last night? He couldn’t help but regret saying they might not be able to meet today. Jeong Hee-seo thought he should take this chance to let go of his punctuality complex and re-prioritize.

    The tightly closed sliding doors opened to either side and finally, Jeong Han-joo appeared. Beside him was the guest Myeong Hyun-sook had been eagerly anticipating.

    “Hello. I’m Seo Ji-hyuk.”

    A slender, smiling omega with fair skin crossed the threshold and bowed politely.

    Jeong Hee-seo, who was rinsing his mouth with tea, looked up in slight surprise. The person Han-joo had brought as his prospective spouse was someone he recognized. The man belonged to a team he rarely interacted with, but he had definitely seen him before.

    The surprising part wasn’t that, but rather the fact that Jeong Han-joo’s choice was just an ordinary employee. No matter how much Myeong Hyun-sook told Jeong Han-joo to date freely, the younger brother Jeong Hee-seo had always been ambitious. Jeong Hee-seo expected him to choose someone with more advantageous conditions, so this meeting piqued his interest for the first time.

    “Pleased to meet you. I’m Jeong Hee-seo.”

    After Jeong Hee-seo, the greetings went around from Jeong Hee-young to Myeong Hyun-sook. Having to travel the long path from the entrance all the way here, in front of the 99-room traditional Korean mansion reminiscent of an aristocrat’s home during the Joseon Dynasty, one would expect Seo Ji-hyuk to be intimidated. But he calmly introduced himself and took the guided seat.

    After a calm greeting, Jeong Han-joo opened the conversation with an excuse that he was late because his companion was feeling unwell due to morning sickness. The first to react was Jeong Hee-young.

    “Oh really? Congratulations! Did Grandmother know?”

    “Yes, I heard beforehand. That’s why I had everyone gather.”

    “Wow, you should have given me a hint too! Can I ask how many months along?”

    Jeong Hee-seo frowned and drank tea again. Myeong Hyun-sook was also holding a teacup, but she clearly seemed to be concentrating on the conversation.

    “Uh… it’s still early. I’m really sorry for being late today.”

    Seo Ji-hyuk trailed off as if he was a little embarrassed.

    “Oh no, I know how tough it is from my own experience. It’s so hard just getting up in the morning. So were you able to eat breakfast?”

    “Yes, I could eat a little after Han-joo came.”

    “That’s right. If you have pheromones, you can manage to eat. Han-joo, as an Alpha you should do your part well. You really have to take good care of him now. There’s nothing more sad than not being able to eat what you want when you’re pregnant.”

    Jeong Hee-seo raised his eyebrows. He slowly turned to Jeong Hee-young and asked.

    “You were sad?”

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