“Why? I admitted that you look good, but that has nothing to do with any romantic feelings.”
Somehow, a new story was about to begin. With my chin on my palm, I listened carefully to Lee Mina. Catching everyone’s attention, she declared boldly, “There must be something mysterious or enchanting to build chemistry between a man and a woman.”
‘Something mysterious or enchanting…’ I murmured. Meanwhile, Yoon Jung In slightly furrowed his dark eyebrows. He asked bluntly, “Then, I don’t have any mysterious or enchanting ‘something.’ Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“Do I have to repeat that again?” replied Lee Mina.
Yoon Jung In pouted his mouth sulkily. Pointing his chin at the class, he asked, “Hey, honestly, do you think there’s anyone in class you can fantasize on?”
As soon as he flung that question, the kids began to look in the same direction at once. Likewise, I turned my head to that side and understood what they meant.
There sat Shin Suh Hyun reading a book with a purple cover. He told us––especially Yoon Jung In––earlier not to bother him during the break as if he found an interesting book after a while.
Watching him flipping the page cautiously, I turned my head after Lee Mina. Near the window, the Kim twins were having a heated discussion about something academic. As they debated about molecular binding or something like that, it seemed to be what they had learned during the education for the gifted children recently.
While another round of silence swept the space, Yoon Jung In opened his mouth.
“Isn’t it too harsh for me to defeat them with a mysterious or enchanting aura?”
‘Very true,’ while I murmured to myself, Lee Mina rested her chin on her palm and continued her remark apathetically.
“Who said to you to defeat them? I just wanted to let you know the truth.”
Speaking that way, Lee Mina lifted her forefinger.
“The truth that we are likely to get attracted to other guys in the group hangout than you, Mr. Handsome, whom we’ve known for such a long time.”
Yoon Jung In grumbled again, “Gosh, how come you’re using that metaphor?”
“Then why would Donnie join the hangout?”
Eh? The conversation suddenly included me in the topic, so I raised my head in bewilderment.
Once I lifted my head, I found everyone’s eyes bent on me. I seemed to get cold sweats on my neck. Lee Mina’s words kept on.
“Donnie is close to the Four Heavenly Kings. She and those guys have known for years. If we aren’t gonna join the group hangout because Yoon Jung In is handsome, Donnie has no reason to attend this event since she won’t get fluttered to no matter who she meets.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
“Thus, gathering with those who want to build chemistry and those who don’t want to is completely different in the first place.”
‘Hmm, fantasize… something mysterious or enchanting…’
Murmuring those words to myself after the conversation, I startled when Lee Mina diverted her gaze back onto me.
Lowering her head to my side, she dropped a question with a refreshing smile as if she had never blamed Yoon Jung In so savagely just now.
“So my question is, Donnie, you’re in, right? Come on, if there’s any weirdo, we’re leaving right away.”
“Um… I…” Scratching the back of my head in embarrassment, I uttered, “I… can’t join it.”
It was a decision that was quite irrelevant to the conversation just now which went on to persuade me. Lee Mina and other kids looked at me in wonder. Showing her perplexed feelings on her face, Lee Mina asked, “Eh? Why?”
“Um, nothing special, but it’s just that you know I’m very shy than I look. Besides, I’m afraid I would mess up the good vibe because I’m not that funny.”
As I replied that way while rubbing my cheek, Lee Mina squinted her eyes.
“Why are you caring about such a thing?”
Once she responded like that, kids agreed with her, saying, ‘Yeah, don’t mind. Who cares if you’re funny or not?’
Hmm, but… I threw a glance at Yoon Jung In. If someone like Yoon Jung In was joining the event, I wasn’t sure whether or not I could follow the heated atmosphere.
Above all, the problem was I had no thoughts about having a boyfriend. If I attended the hangout while having this state of mind and discouraged the kids, who wanted to go out with a girl, that would be also something I would feel very sorry about.
Smiling awkwardly, I continued, “Just let me know when only you guys are hanging out next time. I want to hang out with you all outside the school.”
“Oh, really? If you can, we would love to.”
As if my participation in the group hangout didn’t really matter, Lee Mina put a swiveling smile again and began to bring in other people on the spot.
‘Who wants to come join then?’
‘Which boys in Nam Gye High School are coming?’
‘The kids from my cram school…”
Listening to their conversations, I suddenly lifted my head and said, “Um, Mina?”
“If you’re okay, would you tell me about your cram school later? I’m looking for a prep class,” I said with a grin.
Although I had studied in the library during the break, the result of my September mock exam didn’t reach my expectations. Maybe because other kids also studied hard while taking prep classes or tutoring sessions during the break. Especially, those who went to cram schools said that they took classes from early in the morning to late at night. I couldn’t study for that amount of time by myself, so I had been thinking lately it might be better to find and take some prep classes.
Opening her eyes wide at my question, Mina soon nodded her head. She then hunched her shoulders and giggled, “You’ll then meet all the boys joining the group hangout because they are all from my cram school.”
“Uh-huh, I’ll introduce them next time.”
If it wasn’t a group blind date or something like that, I was utterly fine. With a nod, I went back to my seat when the bell rang to announce the beginning of the next class.
Taking out the textbook and flipping over to the page that we were learning today, I noticed someone gazing in this direction from a distance. Once I lifted my head, I found that it was Ruda.
He was staring with me with a look of huge satisfaction.
That day, I was with Eun Jiho on my way home.
Ever since Ban Yeo Ryung and I got kidnapped, Eun Jiho tried to give us a ride back home almost every day if he didn’t have any schedule. Jooin was with us sometimes but not always.
While we shared some silly jokes as we usually did, I suddenly uttered, “Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was almost about to join a group hangout today.”
At my words, Ban Yeo Ryung straightened up herself like a spring while asking me, “What? What did you just say?!”
Eun Jiho, who was sitting across us, also looked surprised. He stared at my face with his eyes wide open then suddenly sat straight and said, “Dude, that’s surprising. Don’t they know you’re very shy?”
“They do, but maybe they have no idea that I’m severely shy.”
“Really? How can’t they don’t get that when you can’t speak well and even tremble?”
Speaking that way, Eun Jiho leaned the bottle he just took out and tried to pour water in the cup. At that moment, Ban Yeo Ryung, who was looking at Eun Jiho’s action suspiciously, detached her lips.
“Hmm, hey, Eun Jiho.”
Her voice sounded very cautious. Switching his gaze to her, Eun Jiho asked with a calm look as usual, “Why?”
“Are your pants craving water?”
“What? Oh, shoot!”
Eun Jiho quickly took out some napkins and began to wipe out the water dripped on his pants.
Both Ban Yeo Ryung and I watched his reaction in bewilderment. How could he not notice at all that he was pouring the water on his thigh while having that usual, nonchalant look?
That was when Ban Yeo Ryung leaned herself toward me and asked, “Donnie, so what did you respond? You ain’t going there, right? Are you??”
‘Please don’t join something like that!’ Looking at Ban Yeo Ryung almost begging me not to go while grabbing my hands, I slightly burst into laughter. Sweeping her beautiful, smooth black hair, I uttered, “Why would I go there? I would mess up the good vibe.”
“Oh, come on. Don’t talk that way! But I’m glad that you aren’t going there.”
Yeo Ryung linked her arms to mine and smiled delightfully while leaning on my shoulder.
I stared at her with a grin. Anyway, one of the reasons that I wasn’t joining the hangout was that if I turned out to have a boyfriend, I would have less time to spend with Yeo Ryung and other friends. I wasn’t hanging out with them often these days. Besides, if I began to take prep classes at a cram school, I wouldn’t be getting along with these kids. Thus, having a boyfriend had nothing to do with me.
Now I had come to think of it, something flashed through my head.
I turned my head again and looked at Eun Jiho.