“My apologies . I just received a request and am unable to focus on the manuscript . When I have some time, I will contact you . OK . Have a good day . ”
His cell phone went off again as soon as he hung up the call .
He was about to share some ramen with Jeongjin . Due to constant phone interruptions, Jaegun was not even able to touch his food .
“Hello? Ah, yes…… Lecture? I am really sorry, but delivering a lecture is very difficult at this time . Also, there is a lot to prepare for it . ”
While Jaegun was on the phone, Jeongjin had finished his ramen and placed the dirty dishes into the sink .
Jaegun’s ramen has become cold and expanded like that of woo-dong noodles .
“Sorry Jeongjin . I can’t believe I am being flooded with all these phone-calls at once . ”
Finally hanging up the phone, Jaegun said with a sigh .
“I really think that I need to change my cell phone number . ”
“Has your number been hacked somehow?”
“That’s the question I’ve been wanting to ask myself . Email is even worse . ”
After the start of mass advertisement campaign for ‘Summer of a 20 year old’, the incoming call volume has increased greatly .
Most of the calls were manuscript requests for short and full-length novels, while many others were requests for lectures from business enterprises or government organizations .
Certainly, it feels great to have many people recognize your abilities by asking to work on their projects .
However, it is impossible to accept so many requests by only just a single person .
Most of all, Jaegun was fatigued .
He had exhausted all his energy to the writing of ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ .
He is still reeling from the pain around the neck and wrist areas along with physical and mental fatigue .
“Try to take on a few good lecturing opportunities, if you can . ”
Jeongjin said, returning to his seat .
“They are offering several thousand dollars for a few hours of lecture, why would you turn it down? If I were you, I would do it in a heartbeat . It is my month’s salary for a day’s work . ”
“I found it challenging to deliver even an orientation lecture to incoming freshmen . My energy is fully depleted after writing ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ . I must take it easy for a while . ”
Jaegun picked up some ramen with chopsticks .
Fully expanded, the noodles broke off and fell back into the bowl before even reaching his mouth .
Jeongjin snatched away the bowl and dumped the entire content into the sink .
“They are still good to eat, why waste them?”
“Don’t be a poor ridiculous man . You can always cook a fresh package of ramen noodles . Actually, the problem isn’t the ramen……”
Before finishing his thoughts, Jeongjin clicked his tongue in disbelief while scanning the small one room studio .
“You have made so much money, yet why do you live in this tiny, one room, rat hole? Please move . ”
“This place is fine for me . ”
“You are one thing, but are you not concerned about how cramped Lika would feel?”
“I don’t have a big chunk of money for that at this time . Money is almost all spent on the single residency in Soowon . I was planning to save up royalties from now on . ”
“So, go tour the lecturing circuit . ”
“Wouldn’t it be better to write again after a hiatus . ”
“Sure . Do as you please . Anyway, I guess you are content being a popular author, who is sharing a bowl of ramen noodles in a tiny studio… . . ! ”
Today is the book signing day to celebrate the publishing of ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ . This was also the reason for Jeongjin’s visit today . Coincidentally, today’s book signing will occur at the main store of Bandy and Lunia, as it was for the signing of ‘Raging Storm’ .
“Hey, just get dressed . ”
Jeongjin said as he placed a pot of water on to the electric range . Unlike Jeongjin’s formal attire, Jaegun was still in his scruffy sweat pants and shirt .
Jaegun said casually, as he looked on Jeongjin, who was unsealing a fresh package of ramen noodles .
“Thanks . ”
“You owe me $100 . 00 for cooking you a ramen . ”
“Besides that, thanks for coming by today . ”
“It was my day off and I had nothing else to do . Stop jiving and get dressed . ”
Jaegun took off his sweats and put on fashionable formal wears that were on the hangers .
They were Jane’s presents . Jaegun wanted to wear jeans and comfortable shirt . But, he couldn’t ignore Jane’s kind gesture .
“That’s not stylish at all . ”
Jeongjin threw a light joke, after watching Jaegun sitting on the floor and attacking his ramen noodles in his formal wears .
Taking a short pause from sucking up the ramen noodles off of the pot cover, Jaegun broke out into a chuckling laughter .
“Chaerin, stop reading and get some shut eyes . ”
“I am fine . I had over 5 hours of sleep yesterday . I’m off until tomorrow for personal reasons, so I’m okay . ”
In a spacious rear seat of a darting van .
Chaerin was in the most relaxed posture of all as she was reading ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ .
After preordering the book, she had already read beyond the half way point .
“Wow, this author’s writing is really entertaining……”
Chaerin murmured with admiration .
Even though she has become the leader of a top three girl group in the country, her love for reading has not been diminished . She loved to read and write to begin with . Majoring in Korean Literature was also her own decision .
“I wonder how much writing one has to do to reach this mastery level of writing . ”
The manager had never had any interests in books . Although he gave an apathetic look over his shoulders, he said nothing .
“O-ppa, when you get a chance, you should try to read this book . This author’s writing is amazing . ”
“I am in the same camp with Dojoon . As soon as I open a book, I get sleepy . It will lead to an accident . ”
“Always excuses . ”
Feeling some stiffness in her wrists, she put down the book and repositioned herself . Then she searched for Jaegun Ha’s name on her cell phone .
She murmured while reading the profile that she had casually scanned over in prior times .
“Graduate of Myung Kyung University of Arts . I wanted to go there in the past . ”
She clicked on the profile, moving over her finger that was well manicured and colored in red .
Up came on Jaegun’s twitter page and filled the screen of her cell phone .
Immediately, Chaerin’s eyes opened wide .
“?O-ppa, we are in Jamsil now, right?”
“Well, there is some traffic, why?”
“Let’s briefly stop by Bandy & Lunia . ”
“Do you need to buy a book? Just order it over the internet . ”
“I want to get it right away . It will take some time to receive it over the internet . ”
“Understood, let me park the car and I’ll run over to get it . ”
“No, I will go by myself . ”
The manager frowned as he looked back .
Chaerin was already prepared to leave .
As if a mask and sunglasses weren’t enough, she had pulled down her hat to cover her face .
“This should help keep me anonymous, right?”
“Chaerin, even with all that, many fans will still recognize you . ”
“I will be very quick . It won’t even take 5 minutes . ”
At last, Chaerin has won the argument .
The manager has stopped the car in a parking lot as Chaerin, scanning the surroundings, carefully stepped out . She even put on a long coat over her to cover up a see through blouse and hot pants that she was wearing for a performance .
‘He he he, I feel like I’ve become a spy . ’
Her face covered with the mask, Chaerin giggled as she hurriedly walked . And shortly, she entered Bandy & Lunia’s main store .
‘Wow, so many people!’
The book signing was being held in the middle of the book store and it was going great .
Chaerin quickly moved to the end of a very long line .
‘It is very fortunate that the signing hasn’t been in progress for that long… . . ’
Chaerin counted the heads of everyone that was standing in the line, ahead of her .
Approximately, 50 people .
She felt nauseated . It seemed that it would take at least 30 minutes . She couldn’t be delayed here for that long .
Then she found a second line, which was formed to her left .
It was a very short line with about 5 to 6 people .
After thinking for a short while, she cautiously asked the man who was in front of her .
“Pardon me, but what is that line for?”
“Oh, that is the line for the people trying to get their ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ book signed . ”
“Ah? Then what is this line for?”
“This line is for those who want to get their books signed by the author going by the pen name Pungcheoneuro . Summer of a 20 year old has the priority, so that line is first, followed by over here . ”
“Oh, okay, okay . Thank you . ”
Chaerin bobbed her head slightly to say thank you and yelling in delight, she moved over to the shorter line .
The man seemed to recognize some familiarity about her, despite the sunglasses and the mask, as he stood there, tilting his head sideways and staring at the girl’s back .
“Yes O-ppa? No, I think just 3 more minutes . Okay, stop rushing me . Really, I will get back in 3 minutes . ”
Chaerin waited nervously after talking to her manager . Fortunately, it didn’t take long for her turn to come .
“Welcome . ”
“Please sign my book . ”
As she handed her ‘Summer of a 20 year old’ book, she had a sweet smile behind her mask . After taking the book from her, Jaegun looked up at her face and spoke to her with a gentle smile .
“Have you caught a cold?”
“Ah, no . Just too much fine dust?”
“Ha ha, yes . What is your name, please?”
After a moment of silence, in a very quiet voice, Chaerin told her birth name .
“Chaerin Lee . ”
Jaegun showed no particular response as he opened the book and signed it .
With nonstop signing, he appeared to be extremely preoccupied .
It didn’t occur to him that it is the Chaerin, the leader of Apple Tea .
‘He looks sharp for an author’
From behind the sunglasses, Chaerin’s eyes were carefully examining Jaegun’s face .
What her boy friend Dojoon said about looking better in person than in pictures seemed to be true .
One feature by feature, as she carefully studied his dark and thin hair, narrow chin and pointed nose, eyes that are dignifying and straight, closely shut lips in order, the signing has soon finished .
“Here, thank you very much for coming . ”
“Thank you very much . I always enjoy reading your book . ”
“Great, thank you again . ”
Chaerin returned to the van, happily carrying the signed book .
The manager set the phone down, short of making another call, as he found Chaerin entering the vehicle .
“It is finally done?”
“Yes O-ppa . All set to go . ”
Soon after the engine started, the van moved as if to be sliding down the parking lot .
Chaerin removed her sunglasses and the mask then placed a call to Dojoon .
“That’s cold, really . What do you mean what as soon as you answer the phone?”
-You know that you are supposed to be at a photo shoot . Where you at?
“I am heading back to the studio . O-ppa, I just had Jaegun Ha to sign my book!”
-Jaegun Ha? Who is that?
“Kidding me? Raging Storm!”
-Oh, oh… . . That author? So what?
“So, I called to brag about it . No one recognized me behind a mask . I got him to sign using my birth name . ”
-Okay, you must find it refreshing to receive someone else sign your book after always signing for others .
“I am almost done with this Summer of a 20 year old? I will give it to you when we get together later this evening, so be sure to read it too, O-ppa . It’s a total treat . ”
-I am not even finished with that Raging Storm or something, yet .
“Read faster . I would love to see you read more books . That way, we’ll have more conversational topics . Also, if you read lots of good books, wouldn’t it help with your acting as well?”
-Okay . Are you done? I need to run .
Dojoon responded bluntly .
Blowing both her cheeks like balloons, Chaerin spoke after aimlessly scanning the outside through the window .
“And like you said, he was good looking… I think he is my type as well . ”
-Okay, so . Be sure to ask him out . Bye .
Trying to make him jealous hasn’t worked as the phone went dead .
Upset, Chaerin threw her cell phone towards the back seat point her closed out pointedly .
The manager was giggling as he drove .
“What’s so funny?”
“Sorry, by the way, are you meeting up with Dojoon today?”
“All of a sudden, I don’t want to see him, so I don’t know . ”
“If you are, let me know in advance . Don’t set up unplanned dates just because you happened to find some time . I get in real trouble with the CEO . ”
“I got it . I got it . ”
Chaerin picked up the phone that she had thrown to the back .
It was clear to her that she had something else that she needed to attend to .
She opened up the page that Jaegun had signed and took a selfie along with it using her cell phone .
This is for the ‘evidential selfie’ .
“Jaegun, the signing event is going very smoothly compared to the past ones . ”
“I think that’s because they have prepared it very thoroughly . ”
Jeongjin and Jaegun were talking during the breaks .
Today’s signing event was shaping out to be very similar to the past ones . Over 70% of the readers were looking to get their books signed by Pungcheoneuro .
“You have to be fully ready for the 2nd half . ”
Jeongjin said after seeing the long line that had formed .
Jaegun gave a narrow smile and massaged both his hands interchangeably under the table . He was signing as fluently as possible without giving applying too much pressure in his hand, but was feeling the strain already .
“Uh? What is this?”
Jeongjin’s countenance changed suddenly upon looking at his cell phone .