Doppio Senso – Chapter 2.2


Fresh out of a long bath, EunHa’s face was flushed as she stepped out of the bathroom. She went over to her bed and laid down. She noticed then that she had two missed calls. Two calls within 20 minutes. EunHa quickly called the number back. Shortly, the voice that had been bothering her all night answered the call.

– Shin KyungHyun speaking.

“This is Lee Eun…”

She was about to say her real name by accident but bit her lips before she could finish her sentence.

“This is Lee HaEun. Did you call?”

She’d never made a mistake like this before, so her heart was racing. KyungHyun drawled his answer.

– I just wanted to make sure that you got home okay.

“You dropped me off in front of my apartment.”

“But I didn’t see you close your door.”

“Then you should just walk me to my door next time.”

She faintly heard KyungHyun’s breaths. She could imagine him laughing silently on the other end.

“Why are you laughing?”

– I don’t have the confidence to take you to your door and return to my car without doing anything, Lee HaEun-ssi.

“… What am I supposed to say at times like this?”

– You can say whatever you want. Isn’t that your specialty?

KyungHyun’s voice was low. She didn’t hear anything else in the background. Suddenly, she heard a faint clanking noise. It sounded like he was drinking liquor, and the ice was bumping against the glass. It was one in the morning right now.

Even though she was the one who called him, she didn’t hate the fact that they were talking this late at night. One’s hidden desires always revealed themselves in the dark of night. Even if she was seeing a different side of him at night, there was no need to be scared. EunHa’s voice softened and sounded bewitching.

“Do you always act like this to all the secretaries, Director?”

– Act like what?

“Calling a mere secretary to ask if she made it home okay.”

– It’s inevitable for those around me to have tiring days. Some of them may even come across some danger.

“Aah.”

EunHa was going to sweetly whisper her thanks, but KyungHyun spoke up before she had the chance.

– For example, someone might approach you at your apartment and try to get to me through you.

EunHa’s lips were open as she was about to reply. Her big eyes blinked. Even though it was impossible, it almost felt like he knew that YongJoon had come to her apartment that night. Her body suddenly tensed up and her heart began to race.

– But this is the first time I’ve ever called someone personally. I usually send someone to make sure my employees are doing well.

“……”

– So in regards to your question on whether I treat all the secretaries like this, my answer is ‘no.’

EunHa bit her cheek and took a deep, silent breath. Even though KyungHyun’s voice sounded as if he was seducing her, he was calm. Almost as if he were testing her. He was definitely not high on drugs.

– Why didn’t you answer my calls?

“… I was taking a shower.”

– You must be the type that takes long showers. I called you twice in 20 minutes.

“Yes, sir. And after I finish my shower, I’m the type that comfortably goes to bed without putting on any clothes.”

EunHa wanted to change the subject. Her attempt wasn’t made in vain. KyungHyun laughed softly. She heard the sound of the ice clanking against his glass. He was taking a sip of his drink.

– Even now?

“Of course.”

– I’d like to see that.

His low voice drawled into her ear. EunHa swallowed, her mouth dry. She put her cellphone in her other hand. The hand that had been holding her phone was now damp with sweat.

“If you were only calling to check on my safety, can we hang up now?”

– Go ahead.

The call didn’t end. It was as if they were both daring the other to hang up first. The silence lingered. EunHa could have ended the call first, but she didn’t. This was because she felt that he was hesitating about something as he remained silent. She was counting to five to keep her mind off the awkward silence when KyungHyun spoke up.

– I apologize for underestimating you, Secretary Lee. To be honest, that’s why I called.

“Just because someone has a pretty face doesn’t mean they can’t do a good job.”

KyungHyun didn’t say anything back. EunHa chuckled softly.

“I was only joking. If you don’t say anything, it makes things awkward.”

– It was the truth, so I had nothing to say.

“… That’s a compliment, right?”

– Why do you ask?

“I was wondering if you were going to fire me for being pretty.”

KyungHyun laughed slowly.

– I was wondering whether I should fire you or not just now. Was I caught?

“If you’re really planning on firing me, you wouldn’t be wondering about it.”

– I can’t think of anything to say to that. My head hurts.

His languid voice sounded as if he were talking to himself. Before this conversation got any longer and before Shin KyungHyun had another chance to veer the conversation into unwanted territory, EunHa politely spoke.

“… I’ll bring a variety of pain relievers when I come in tomorrow. I’ll see you at the office, sir.”

EunHa quickly ended the call. She turned off the lights and got into bed. Then she pulled the covers up and covered her head. The remedy for a restless mind was sleep. Just thinking about all the things she had left to do made her feel muddled. As Shin KyungHyun continued to test her, she could feel herself waver. If she wanted to properly accomplish her goal, she couldn’t dwell on all the restless thoughts going through her mind.

EunHa tossed and turned before her breaths finally softened and she fell asleep. The car that was parked in front of EunHa’s apartment this whole time finally turned its engine on and disappeared into the night.

“Haaa…”

Inside a desolate, large hotel room, KyungHyun was sitting on a wide couch, completely naked. His hand was moving. His cock was sticking straight up like a rod as the blood rushed to it. He felt a tingling sensation travel down his penis and reach the base of his scrotum.

He was incredibly tired after today and was planning on shutting his eyes as soon as he reached his hotel room. However, the image of Lee Eunha didn’t leave his foggy mind. It had been a long time since he felt such a strong surge of desire.

“I wasn’t able to fuck Shin KyungHyun today, so I’m very wet right now. If I close my eyes, I won’t have to see your ugly face. I think it’ll work if I just imagine it’s him.”

He had heard her venomous voice through the bug he had hidden inside her fire alarm. When he heard her words, he almost burst out of the car and headed straight to her apartment. If she really planned on having sex with someone else and he had to hear it, he wouldn’t have been able to stand it.

“Save me…”

Trying to keep her breaths silent, a young girl whispered as tears dripped from her eyes. That young girl was no longer there. EunHa was now an adult. She was like a flower that was now freely giving off its fragrance. She made people want to go easy on her, but she was a flower that was hiding its sharp thorns of poison underneath its beauty.

Lee EunHa had grown up so perfectly that it almost made one forget the trembling young girl she used to be. It wasn’t a surprise that he couldn’t recognize her when he first met her. KyungHyun laughed at himself for not realizing it.

The movement of his hands became rough, and the noises coming from the couch were getting louder. The head of his penis repeatedly appeared and disappeared into his hand. Sticky fluids spurt out from the tip and drenched his hand before dripping onto the floor.

– And after I finish my shower, I’m the type that comfortably goes to bed without putting on any clothes.

The moment he pictured her sleeping on top of her sheets naked, his suppressed desire lurched and burst out of him. After ejaculating on top of his discarded clothing a few times, he sucked in a deep breath. His trembling body calmed, and he laughed bitterly to himself.

‘… Just what is she up to?’

One week ago, he noticed that somebody was following him. He thought this was strange, but he didn’t think anything of it. He was always being followed.

The same went for when he met her at the squash courts. Her bare face seemed strangely familiar to him, but he couldn’t quite remember who she was. She was just too different.

However, when he met her at the office, he knew for sure. Something strange was going on. When he saw that her parents had passed away in an accident, the old memories slammed into his head like a hammer.

Lee HaEun.

Lee EunHa.

The obvious evidence had slipped right past his nose. After the incident 10 years ago, Lee EunHa was sent to a relative’s house in the suburbs of Seoul. Not long after that, while she was on her way home from school, she went missing. That was the last he heard of her. He believed that Lee EunHa was dead.

“You’re the one who told me not to act like a whore in front of him because he’s a difficult man, Ahjussi.”

He was glad he had installed the bug inside her empty home. Thanks to that, he was able to find out that she had been raised as member of Serim by SungHo. This was a piece of information he hadn’t known until now.

Click.

KyungHyun took a cigarette out of its box and took a long drag. The thoughts inside his head were too heavy to be called a simple musing. Should he have paid more attention back then? These regrets were useless now. These events happened long in the past. KyungHyun leaned his head back as he stretched out on the sofa. Suddenly, the hotel phone on the table rang. KyungHyun stretched out his hand and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“You’ve received a call from the Chicolson Company. Would you like me to connect you to them?”

The hotel employee from the front desk spoke in a polite tone.

“Please do.”

He heard the phone ring for a few moments before the call was connected.

– It’s me.

“I was planning on calling you soon, sir.”

– Instead of waiting for a call from a busy man, it’s better for the man with more time to call.

“Is there something you’d like to discuss with me?”

– Not really. Thanks to your hard work, Director Shin, things are looking very good on my end.

At the other end, a rough, thin voice rang through the phone.

– You work too hard, Director Shin. Sometimes I really feel like I’m actually talking to a man at YongSung. I get confused at times. This is all because of how amazing you are. Isn’t that right, KyungHyun?

The trace scent of grass permeated from the cigarette as he took another drag. In one breath, a third of the cigarette turned into gray ash. While his body was becoming more relaxed with each puff, his mind was still as alert as ever.

“Then please let me return as soon as possible, sir.”

– You want to come back?

SungHo’s voice was full of meaning as he tried to get a feel for what KyungHyun was thinking.

“Of course I do.”

– Your speech has gotten a lot cockier lately, dear Director Shin.

“It’s because with each passing year, I’m always wondering whether I’ll be able to return or whether I’ll continue to be stuck over here. I think I’m getting old, sir.”

– You shouldn’t say things like that when you still have so much work to do.

SungHo lightly clicked his tongue and laughed.

– Everything doesn’t always go as planned. There are too many variables in life.

KyungHyun silently took another drag of his cigarette. He heard the sound of a lighter clicking on the other end. SungHo had an old habit of clicking the lighter on and off while he was smoking.

– Once this project is finished, you can come back with a light heart. This is truly the last one.

KyungHyun’s sculpted lips tilted into a fierce smile. His eyes narrowed sharply.

– Why aren’t you saying anything?

“Are you being serious, sir?”

– Yeah. Your position in Serim has been prepared, so just finish things up well.

KyungHyun furrowed his brow. His cigarette had burnt up to the filter. His mind got heavier, but his body felt lighter.

“I will do my best, sir. I want to quickly return to my rightful place. I can barely stand it.”

– Alright. I trust you.

Despite his words, SungHo’s voice sounded suspicious.

“I will also continue to trust in you, Boss.”

SungHo probably interpreted his voice in the same way.

– Nothing else is new, right? Are there any rat bastards hanging around you?

KyungHyun crushed his cigarette onto the ashtray as he responded.

“There aren’t any rat bastards, but…”

Seeing that SungHo remained silent, KyungHyun slowly spoke.

“There’s something strange.”

– What is it?

“I might just be mistaken. I’ll keep my eye on it a while longer before telling you, sir. I don’t want you to worry over nothing.”

SungHo carefully chose his words before speaking.

– Alright. I know how careful you are, Director Shin.

“Yes, sir. Please rest. It’s not good if the conversation stretches out any longer.”

After telling SungHo that he’d call him back later, SungHo ended the call. A silence settled over the hotel room once again. KyungHyun rested his elbow on the back of the sofa and began to massage his temple. KyungHyun focused his dazed eyes and twitched his finger.

It had been 8 years since he entered YongSung while keeping his true identity hidden. This wasn’t the first time SungHo had sent someone to keep an eye on him. Every time he did, KyungHyun tricked them perfectly. He acted as if he didn’t know when he actually did. Every time a member of Serim came to dig up any weakness he may have, he made sure never to show them a chink in his armor.

SungHo was a cunning and nasty man. He was constantly suspicious of KyungHyun, and KyungHyun worked hard to try and placate that suspicion.

– Once this project is finished, you can come back with a light heart. This is truly the last one.

KyungHyun’s face turned cold. SungHo’s words, ‘the last one,’ pounded inside his head.

– Your speech has gotten a lot cockier lately, dear Director Shin.

That was Kang SungHo’s truth. KyungHyun wasn’t stupid. He understood the meaning behind SungHo’s joking words. SungHo’s distrust in KyungHyun had finally reached its limit.

KyungHyun got up from his seat and slowly walked towards the bathroom. He turned the sink faucet and watched the stream of water fall for a long while. Then he splashed some water on his face. Because he had carelessly rubbed one out, his clothes were now ruined. Therefore, he didn’t put his clothes back on and was still in the nude. The cold water trickled down his body.

After washing his face with water a few more times, he looked up at his reflection in the mirror. The twisted face of an unfamiliar man glared back at him.

After Serim’s boss passed away, SungHo took over. The first thing he did as the new boss was start the business in order to stabilize the organization. However, there was a limit to his influence if he only dealt in prostitution, real estate fraud, and drug trafficking. On top of that, the new drug enforcement organization in China had sniffed them out multiple times, causing him to lose a lot of business.

All the trustworthy members of the organization were arrested, and SungHo was backed into a corner. Therefore, he made the difficult decision of sending a young but intelligent rookie as a spy to YongSung. This rookie was KyungHyun. This was because there was no other person SungHo could send other than KyungHyun, the new member who was working hard to earn the organization’s trust.

At the time, YongSung had entered the political circles and was manipulating its stocks that way. It was on a whole different level than Serim. KyungHyun entered YongSung and fulfilled his assignment perfectly. Having done well in the field, he even caught the eye of YongSung’s boss, HyungChul, within the span of 2 years.

As he continued to lurk within YongSung, KyungHyun found out about HyungChul’s right-hand man’s schemes. This was the finishing blow. It wasn’t difficult to spot the corruption within YongSung since he had already witnessed similar corruption in Serim. On behalf of HyungChul, KyungHyun stabbed a knife into the right-hand man’s back and, in doing so, obtained the confidence of the boss.

KyungHyun siphoned off some of the funds and sent it to Serim. As the sum of money grew, SungHo was very happy with him for a few years. The problem arose when Yongsung began to give KyungHyun more and more responsibilities. The newly established company of KeumOh piggybacked the organization of YongSung. Thanks to KyungHyun’s hard work, the company grew at an incredibly fast pace. This was the only way KyungHyun was able to gain the solid faith of his new boss without being caught.

The number of men working under KyungHyun increased each day. SungHo began to have him followed 4 years ago. Even though SungHo was beginning to dread the amount of influence KyungHyun held within YongSung, he couldn’t order him to come back to Serim. But after 8 years had passed, SungHo was suddenly telling him to return.

KyungHyun frowned. Even though SungHo ordered for his return, he sent Lee EunHa to follow him. Up until now, SungHo sent people to watch his every move. Even though Lee EunHa wouldn’t be any different, there was something strange about it this time.

Was SungHo trying to have him killed?

It wasn’t totally impossible. If the person endangering you didn’t die, then you’d die. He recalled the unwritten rule of these organizations. SungHo was afraid of KyungHyun, and he was trying to have him killed.

However, why did he send Lee EunHa of all people? Just from one look, KyungHyun could tell that she was young and inexperienced. Wouldn’t it have been more effective to send an experienced assassin and plan a sudden attack?

“Save me… Please… Please…”

He remembered the young Lee EunHa clutching the hem of his shirt as she whispered in tears, trembling in fear. The people SungHo had sent to investigate him didn’t know that he was actually a spy from Serim.

After these people returned to Serim without any results, they all disappeared quietly or were killed in a dangerous mission. This was probably all SungHo’s doing in order cover his tracks.

If KyungHyun ever recognized these people in the future, it would put SungHo in a difficult position.

But what about Lee EunHa? How much did she know about him and Kang SungHo? The brief phone call… Because he had only heard her end of the conversation, he wasn’t able to fully understand her relationship with Kang SungHo. Even though she addressed him intimately, KyungHyun could hear the skillfully hidden chill and condescension in her voice.

A bitter laugh escaped his lips. He felt that things had become a lot more complicated than expected.

Click.

KyungHyun grabbed the bathroom cabinet and pulled the whole thing with ease. The sturdy cabinet let out a faint, metallic noise and opened. Instead of the marbled wall, a small space the size of the cabinet appeared.

After touching the screen to input his fingerprints, KyungHyun swept back his hair. In contrast to this slow movement, his voice was sharp as he spoke languidly.

“…This is Shin KyungHyun.”

The dark monitor turned on as words quickly moved across its screen.

EunHa tossed and turned in the dark. She was having a nightmare. Suddenly, her eyes burst open. It was a little past 4 AM. Her pillow and the bedsheets were completely soaked with sweat. It felt incredibly uncomfortable.

“……”

It was only a dream. Whenever she felt that the old memories from 10 years ago were fading away, they would return as nightmares. They were clearly burnt into her mind as if they had happened just yesterday.

She opened the refrigerator door and took out a bottle of water. She downed the whole bottle in one go. Click, her hands trembled as she lit a cigarette.

“Whew…”

She opened the window and leaned out so that half her body was outside. She breathed out the smoke with a long sigh. A light sheen of water covered her face due to the drizzling rain spraying down from the sky.

Even though it was cold, it made her feel better. The weather was disgustingly sticky all afternoon, but it seemed that it was only because of the coming rain this morning.

“Huh? Mom, look! A rainbow.”

Her mother had been tending the flowers when she turned around at EunHa’s call.

“If you spray water like that against the sunlight, a rainbow will form. Isn’t that cool?”

“Yeah! I wanna try too.”

Pssh, pssh. A clear rainbow appeared amidst the water particles.

“If you spray that much, you head will get wet.”

“You’re so pretty, Mom.”

“In my eyes, my daughter is the prettiest.”

The setting changed, and she was no longer outside the house. Her smiling mother now had blood running down her face. Collapsed on the floor, she didn’t make a sound and merely mouthed the words.

“Go…Run… EunHa, run…”

Her white nightgown was drenched in blood. Her mother had fallen down the stairs. Her breaths stopped, her eyes still open. EunHa remembered her mother’s face so clearly as if this had all happened yesterday.

The rain dripped onto her trembling hands, and the cigarette light went out as it became damp. EunHa brought the damp ciagarette up to her lips and bit down.

“There should be a kid on the 2nd floor.”

“It’s summer break, so she should still be in the house. She might have hid after hearing all the noise.”

She was about to go on a camping trip with all her friends from school in the United States. The quarterback she had a crush on from her school football team was also going to be there.

However, her parents forbade her from going, saying that it was too dangerous. She was extremely upset with them. She was already sixteen years old, and all her friends had already gone on their first dates. The fact that she was stuck at home and treated like a child was embarrassing.

So she left home in the middle of the night, holding nothing but her cellphone, and went out to complain and vent to her friend in the United States. She told her how annoyed she was, how she wished her parents just disappeared.

The last words she had said to her parents were her angry shouts as she screamed at them to leave her alone. If she knew that those would be her last words to them, would it have changed anything?

EunHa looked up at the cloudy night sky and laughed. Her wish was granted. Her parents died, and now she could live her life the way she wanted to.

The tiny rain droplets became bigger. The raindrops splashed onto her cheeks and trickled down to her chin. It was still going to be a long time before the sun came up. The sky remained dark.

No star could be seen in the Seoul night sky. She occasionally saw the orange taillights of the cars crossing the Han River Bridge. In this city that never slept, nobody knew who she really was.

Sixteen. Lee EunHa basically died at that age, and she was what was left in this cloudy, dark city. If she suddenly disappeared, nobody would be sad. If she killed someone, she would be blamed and reproached. But she didn’t care.

An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. She was only living her life according to Hammurabi’s code.


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