The End of Gods (A Welcome to the Underworld Novel, Book 4), Page 2Con Template
“‘The best are never distracted,’” Soo Jin answered distractedly, her eyes glued on the cutie.
Ju Won smiled, his eyes settling on Soo Jin’s father. The King of Scorpions stood in the center of the ballroom, laughing boisterously while interacting with his allies from Japan’s Underworld. “Your father is like a younger brother to me. He’s one of the best Kings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Learn from him, learn from me, and this world will fall to its knees for you.”
Soo Jin was no longer listening to Ju Won. She was too preoccupied with admiring her newfound crush. As her response to Ju Won, she merely nodded distractedly, finding it hard to keep that dazed-like smile from forming on her lips when the boy started to laugh, his smile and laughter warming her heart.
Finally catching on to her distracted state, Ju Won chuckled and attempted to follow her line of sight. “What has gotten the Princess of Scorpions so smitten?” he teased. “Did a boy catch your eyes?”
“No!” Soo Jin answered immediately. She snapped out of her staring state. Her face was bright red. “I—I was just staring at a pretty dress.”
Ju Won nodded, not pushing the matter any further. Soft sprinkles began to descend from the sky, reminding him that he had a party to get back to.
“I think I’ve taken up too much of your time, Soo Jin,” he said, straightening his black suit after he stood up. “What we spoke about . . . we’ll finish all of that later. For now, go run around and have lots of fun. Enjoy the rest of your night.”
“Thank you, uncle,” Soo Jin bid happily, beaming while she hugged him. Though she enjoyed being around him, she didn’t enjoy being confused. More importantly, she wanted to distract herself with someone else who made her heart race faster than a runaway train. “Bye!”
With the determination of a hungry little mouse, an eager Soo Jin disappeared into the crowded ballroom, scampering through the sea of beautifully dressed people in hopes of being closer to the boy who had stolen her heart. She was beyond excited. She had no idea what she wanted to do. All she knew was that she wanted to keep staring at him. Perhaps she would even talk to him if she were brave enough!
Soo Jin was on the verge of getting close to him when someone grabbed her wrist.
“Lil sis, where have you been? I’ve been looking for you.”
Her older brother, An Young Jae, who wore a black tuxedo and had his dark hair slicked back, was all smiles as he appeared before her and pulled Soo Jin with him. He steered her in the opposite direction of where she wanted to venture off to find her crush.
“Why are you looking for me?” she squeaked out under the ballroom music, upset that her brother had foiled her chances of hanging out with her crush.
“I want to practice dancing, and you’re going to practice with me.”
“Me?” she cried, outraged by this impromptu development. She groaned and shook her head. She wouldn’t have any of it. “But I don’t want to! I want to dance with someone else!”
“You don’t want to dance with me?” he asked, feigning hurt. “Well, too bad! You’re going to!”
“Oppa!” she screamed as her older brother, who gave no concern to what she wanted, tugged at her arm and dragged her through the regal crowd that moved like waves in the ocean. “Oppa! No, no, no!” she repeatedly shouted. “I don’t want to dance with you! You’re so weird! I want to dance with that cute boy I saw!”
Soo Jin looked around vividly, searching for the cute boy. Her heart fluttered when she spotted him in the corner with a teacup in hand. He was so handsome. She wanted to run after him and talk to him, but her stupid big brother wouldn’t stop dragging her away from the cutie.
“Come on, you dumb-dumb!” Young Jae shouted. He continued to tug her into the middle of the dancing crowd. “I need to practice so I can dance with my future wifey! After that, you can go find your future husband and dance with him.”
“Why me?” Soo Jin whined petulantly. “Why do I have to dance with you?”
“Because you’re my baby sister. That’s what siblings do for each other!”
“Have each other’s back!” Young Jae preached like a shepherd on a mission. “I got yours and you got mine!” He laughed, pinching his baby sister’s nose who, despite her own bitterness, would do this stupid favor and dance with him. He was, after all, her brother and she loved him. “You got my back right, lil sis?”
Soo Jin groaned, wanting to face-palm herself as they started to move cohesively with the music. “Okay, but only for a little bit. Then I’m going to go hang out with someone else.”
Her brother laughed, not even bothering to tease his baby sister about her newfound crush. “Deal.”
Though anyone else would have been relieved that her older brother wasn’t teasing her about her crush, Soo Jin didn’t feel that same relief. There was something off about her brother tonight. She gazed at him warily, her eyes forming into suspicious slits. In that instant, another thought came to her mind.
“Why am I really dancing with you?” she questioned at once.
“Because I have a question for you. I want to ask it without looking suspicious,” Young Jae admitted, confirming her suspicions that her older brother had something more up his sleeve than simply wanting to practice dancing with his baby sister.
Anxious to expedite this “dance session” so that she could go hang out with the cutie, Soo Jin immediately asked, “What is it?”
He pointed over her shoulder. “You see that guy over there?”
Soo Jin followed his inconspicuous cue and attempted to trail after his gaze.
“Who?” she asked when she wasn’t able to pinpoint who he was pointing out.
“That kid standing over there. He’s talking with those Advisors in the corner,” he said again, jerking his head to the right to cue her in the direction he wanted her to stare at. “Doesn’t he sort of look like me?”
Soo Jin carelessly looked in the direction he pointed and spotted the kid her older brother was talking about. He wore a black tuxedo and had a buzz-cut. It was hard to miss him because in a crowd of formidable looking Advisors, he was the only kid in the area.
Soo Jin attempted to squint her eyes to make out his facial features in the distance. She failed horribly as the dimness of the ballroom did not aid in her endeavors. It also did not help that the boy was too far away. Moreover, she was too distracted with wanting to do other things. She didn’t really care enough to see if the guy looked like her brother or not.
She couldn’t see him too clearly, but Soo Jin was clever enough to deduce that if her brother came to ask her if she saw a resemblance, then it obviously meant that her older brother saw some similarities. Fully aware that being agreeable would be her ticket out of there, Soo Jin feigned concurrence.
“Yeah, a little bit.”
Young Jae nodded approvingly, relieved that someone else acknowledged the resemblance. An expression of uneasiness enveloped his face when something unsettling came to mind.
“I asked dad, and he says that the kid doesn’t look like me at all. He seemed annoyed that I was asking, but it’s true, isn’t it? The kid does look a bit like me.” He shook his head, not comprehending his father’s bizarre behavior. “Why would dad get annoyed with me for asking?”
“Daddy is looking for you, by the way,” Soo Jin interrupted his thoughts, not even bothering to listen to whatever her older brother was rambling about. She recalled her father asking her to help find Young Jae before she became distracted with Uncle Ju Won.
Maybe this will get him to leave me alone, she thought naughtily, staring at Young Jae as his expression changed.
Her words caught her brother’s attention. “Why?”
“Uncle Hayashi and Uncle Fukuji are here.”
His eyes bloomed in exhilaration. “My Advisors are here?”
Young Jae laughed, putting thoughts about his lookalike aside. He loved his Advisors from Japan. Young Jae would never miss a chance to
greet them if they were in the same vicinity.
“I have to go see them,” he said expectantly, pulling himself away from her when the prospect of hanging out with his favorite uncles came to mind. “Thanks for the dance, little one. Later!”
Finally! Soo Jin exclaimed in her mind, pleased with herself that she had gotten rid of her brother.
Anxious to continue her pursuit before she was interrupted again, the determined little girl fought her way through the crowd and commenced the search for her hunk. To her dismay, this particular search was becoming more arduous. The lights had dimmed substantially, and there were a greater number of people on the dance floor now. Everywhere she turned, she was pushed from side to side, making it difficult for her to spot him. He was no longer in the place where she first saw him and with the happy chattering, lively music, and affluent people in masks everywhere, Soo Jin was disoriented with the pandemonium. Where was he?
A dejected Soo Jin was ready to give up on her quest when she reached the other side of the ballroom and felt her world pause in enthrallment.
Standing at the further end in a more secluded part of the ballroom, there her crush was, pouring another cup of tea while the world around her began to fade into the background.
Finally, Soo Jin thought in relief. She debated on whether or not she should run to the corner and hide so that she could stare at him from afar. However, a smaller and braver part of her urged her to go talk to him. You don’t meet someone like him every night, that squeaky ten-year-old voice encouraged, giving Soo Jin the bravery she needed to disregard her shyness and approach him.
After fixing her dress so that she wouldn’t appear unkempt, Soo Jin did her best to fight through her nervousness. She took one step forward, finally drawing closer to the one who had gotten her so smitten all night.
Here goes nothing . . .
“Hi . . .” Soo Jin timidly greeted, stepping close to the table where the boy was standing, drinking from his teacup.
At the call of her soft greeting, the boy turned. His captivating brown eyes settled on her with inquisitiveness, and Soo Jin felt her breath hitch. She took in his perfectly sculpted face, his short dark hair, his smooth skin, and the charisma that emanated effortlessly from him. He was even more handsome up close.
His curious eyes scanned her up and down, his gaze taking inventory of the pink dress she wore, her pink shoes, her curled black hair, and then her face. There was an air of guardedness to him. He was looking at her with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion—curiosity as to her identity and suspicion as to her motives for talking to him.
At the sight of this guardedness, Soo Jin offered him a sheepish smile, wordlessly telling him that she came in peace and that she wanted to be friends.
As if that sheepish smile from Soo Jin had melted the caginess he had, the once serious expression on his striking face thawed. He parted his lips and tentatively returned the greeting. “Hi.”
So far so good, Soo Jin thought optimistically. Her face brightened with hope. Their relationship was already making progress. Unable to control her nervousness of being around someone as good-looking as him, Soo Jin unknowingly found herself swaying from side to side, her legs kicking air while she continued to talk to the boy.
“What are you drinking?” she initiated, attempting to appear super shy as she moved closer to him.
“Tea,” he answered, his eyes inspecting her with interest, “but it’s disgusting.” His voice maintained its dry neutrality. He was still trying to figure out her motives for approaching him.
“Oh, okay.” Soo Jin nodded and hoped that he would continue the conversation. She was disappointed when an awkward silence befell them. He still said nothing; he simply stared at her with his unreadable expression. It was as though he expected her to entertain him because she approached him first.
“So . . .” she initiated again, uncomfortable with the silence deluging over them. She was determined to get to know this cutie. It did not matter how hard he was making it for her. She had to persevere and steal his heart! They might well be on the road to being boyfriend and girlfriend if it all worked out, and she refused to give up. Hopeful with the prospect of that blossoming relationship, her mood perked up. She knew what to ask to move their relationship to a more friendly level. “What’s your name?”
He didn’t say anything. He merely took another moment to tilt his head and silently observe her like she was a new species of zoo animal he had come across. He was quiet for another lingering second before Soo Jin urged him to answer her with another one of her sheepish smiles.
Peering at her with calculating and sly eyes, he cleared his throat and casually said, “Boss.”
“What?” Soo Jin’s composure disintegrated at the oddball answer from the cutie. She stopped swaying from side to side and stopped kicking air. She gaped at him in shock. Soo Jin knew it was complete bullshit. No one in their right mind, especially in the Underworld, would call their kid that name.
“What?” he asked, unperturbed by her outraged response. Though his voice was untroubled, his expression changed. There was now a poorly hidden expression of amusement on his face. It was evident he was proud of himself for breaking through the “I’m-a-nice-shy-and-soft-spoken-girl” act that Soo Jin was fostering. It was obvious that he found entertainment in seeing her for the sassy girl that she was. He hid a smile while he continued his efforts to provoke Soo Jin to show her true colors. “My dad’s bodyguards call him ‘Boss’ and I want to be called that too, so I’m telling you my name is Boss.”
Soo Jin gaped at him like he was the strangest person she had ever met. Then, she began to shake her head judgmentally. She was utterly disappointed. It would make sense that the beautiful boy she was crushing on would wind up to be dumb and strange. Why couldn’t he be a gorgeous genius?
“Well,” she replied, unable to conceal the meanness in her judgmental voice. “My daddy calls me ‘Princess’, but you don’t see me introducing myself as ‘Princess’, do you?”
“Yeah,” the hunky one agreed, inspecting her up and down. “You look more like a maid anyway—like someone’s assistant or something.”
Two pink circles formed on Soo Jin’s cheeks. “An assistant?”
She was beside herself. And to think she thought this mean boy was cute!
Biting her lips to keep from cursing at him, Soo Jin felt her eyes twitch in anger. She was feigning niceness when she first met him because she wanted to impress him. However, everything had shot to hell because he brought the worst out of her. And unfortunately for him, the worst out of Soo Jin was a spoiled little brat who wasn’t polite to anyone who made fun of her.
Unable to resist some form of retaliation, her small hand raised up and with much resentment, she bestowed him with the middle finger that did all the cursing for her.
The hunky one frowned. “Wow, you’re a little brat, aren’t you?”
“You were the one being a snob first,” she retorted, bringing her hand down. Her face was molded into a scowl. So much for finding her future hubby in this guy. He was such a jerk! No longer keen on being around the disappointment that was her failed relationship (or could-have-been relationship), Soo Jin let out a scoff and turned away from him. She didn’t have time for this. If he didn’t plan on being nice, then she would return the favor. “Whatever. Peace out, jerk-face.”
“Okay, no, I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding!” he swiftly amended, wrapping his hand over her wrist when he saw that she was leaving. The hunk had seemingly found himself interested in little Soo Jin. He wasn’t about to let his newfound distraction get away. “I wasn’t serious about you being someone’s maid. You look too cute to be someone’s maid.”
Soo Jin wasn’t having any of it. She knew he was lying about her being cute. This made her angrier. “No! Let me go, you liar!”
“Okay, okay,” he appeased, irritated and overwhelmed by her. His demeanor showed that he wasn’t the type of boy who compromised with anyone to
o easily. Despite this, he was willing to negotiate with her. “How about this, how about this,” he proposed quickly, trying to calm her overdramatic tantrum. “I’ll call you Princess, and you can call me Boss. Can we do that?”
This caught Soo Jin’s attention. She had always wanted to be called Princess by someone other than her dad, and being called Princess by this cute boy would fulfill that desire. She glanced at him, her mind churning with what she should do.
He was quiet, staring at her expectantly.
Despite the arrogance streaming out of him, it did look like he was genuinely apologetic. It wouldn’t hurt to forgive him, right? She regarded him with sneaky eyes. Her face lit up when she deduced that he was willing to do anything to make her stay. That thought in mind, it wouldn’t hurt if she—
“Say Princess is better than Boss,” she ordered suddenly, wanting to punish him for upsetting her.
Mystification stole his visage. “What?”
He was confounded. She knew the guy was prideful and snobby. He’d rather pound his head against the wall than admit someone was better than him. This was why she insisted on him saying that. She wasn’t going to let him get away with calling her an assistant. She planned on making him eat his words.
“Say it,” Soo Jin commanded firmly, her voice unbending. When he refused, she proceeded to shove him as an added threat that she would leave if he didn’t. “Say it!”
“Okay!” he conceded, exasperation marked all over his face. “Princess is better than Boss! Are you happy now, you little brat?”
Soo Jin nodded happily, pleased that he was letting her win. Though she was annoyed with him and his crass personality, she had to admit that there was a certain charm about him that she really liked. He was cute and despite his jerkiness, she still wanted to hang out with him. There was something about his personality that completely complemented hers.
“Lift your dress up,” he ordered, snapping her out of her reverie.