"On your mark," their coach called and Jinho stopped moving, his eyes focused on the other end of the pool. "Get set," the coach continued, and Yunjae was privy to how those muscles rippled as the athlete bent his body, ready to dive into the water.
As a swimmer, Yunjae had practiced hard day after day in order to achieve the body condition needed in this sport. She was naturally slender in built and she never tanned regardless that she spent most of her days dipped into the pool than on land. Still, she never achieved the body she wanted which made it difficult for her to perform her favorite swimming stroke: the butterfly.
Jinho, on the other hand, had a very beautiful body fit for the sport. His overall built made the difficult stroke seemed so easy. In fact, whenever she saw him do the butterfly, she couldn't help but become fascinated every time.
"Go!" the coach yelled and he dove into the clear blue water in record speed, and Yunjae unconsciously stood up to take a better look. Within the glassy surface, Jinho's strong arms flapped magnificently like wings of a butterfly. Beautiful, graceful, glorious in each stroke, his tanned broad back rippled in every move as crystal clear beads cascaded down his bronzed skin.
Seeing Jinho swim would always make her heart constrict in her chest. But this wasn't purely because of envy. No… it was also about something else.
"Are you still mad at me?" Jinho asked as he tweaked Yunjae's nose, and the latter leaned back in irritation. He was kneeling in front of her, but she wouldn't give him the time of day.
"Don't start with me Kang Jinho. I haven't forgiven you yet," she said grumpily making the other pout cutely and she had to turn away for she knew she'd smile.
It was already late and their coach had long since left with instruction for Jinho to help Yunjae with her speed. Half an hour after however, she remained seated on the bench, refusing to cooperate with her voluntary instructor. After all, it was somehow Jinho's fault that she was very slow today.
"I already said I was sorry," he cajoled but she still refused to look at him. "I promise I won't do it again," he added and she turned to him with her brow raised. "You won't?" she challenged making the other look like he would take back what he said. Almost.
The 'it' they were referring to was Jinho's overly eager lovemaking the night before which made it difficult for Jae to swim with painful hips and thighs.
Yes, the two of them were lovers – had been since they met at the poolside in their first year at the university.
"Well no, at least not when we have a competition to attend," Jinho answered with a pout, his almond eyes which had been filled with fire of a conqueror just earlier were now focused on her, wide, pleading, brimming with sweetness. He was like a lost pup that she felt like giving in but she wouldn't.
Well, not really.
"I don't need your sorry," Yunjae asserted as she pushed at Jinho's chest with a finger. "Just how many times have I been yelled at because of you? I lost count already. I think it's better if I quit."
"No!" Jinho protested as he stood up, his endearing pout becoming longer, and she almost laughed as an array of expressions crossed her lover's face. She was sure he was thinking of many reasons why she shouldn't quit.
In the end, the latter chose the most selfish reason, and yet it was what Yunjae mostly wanted to hear. "I don't want you to leave. Stay. Swim…with me," Jinho whispered as he caught her hands in his and all thoughts of leaving left her mind along with her sulking.
"Okay," she answered, finally with a smile and the next thing they knew, the two of them were rushing into the pool like children, laughing with a carefree innocence of their love, playing in the water and then kissing as soon as they submerged into the clear liquid.
With wide smiles on their faces, with love shining in their eyes, they held hands underneath, twirling as they glided along the pool's length. "I love you," Jinho mouthed in the water, and Yunjae smiled as she did the same.
Yes, this was the reason her heart constricted with such emotions whenever she watched him swim. It wasn't envy. It was love…and pride.
Yunjae was proud that the magnificent butterfly in the water was hers.
The telephone rang and Yunjae sat up straight with a start. Glancing at the clock told her that it was already five in the afternoon, and she mentally kicked herself for spacing out too long. It was a good thing her boss didn't come out while she was daydreaming else she'd have been shouted at again.
The phone rang once more and Jae fished the receiver immediately, her hands snatching the notepad and pen nearby in preparation. "Hello, good afternoon. President Kang Jinho's Office, how may I help you?" she answered in practiced politeness, and she jotted down notes, instructions on a piece of paper.
The call ended and she stood up and marched towards her superior's inner office. Swallowing hard, she tried to fix her clothing, and then raised her hand to knock.
At the president's assent, she opened the door and saw Jinho busy at work with several documents on his table – the very same documents that she should have been working on, and the secretary felt guilty for her ineptness again.
"Yes?" Kang Jinho inquired as he watched her cross the room with the note on hand. "What's that?"
"Ehrm…Mr. Park of Avia Corporation called. He said he had an emergency and couldn't come for your dinner meeting today," she informed him as she reached out to place the note on his table, and almost jumped back when her boss's hand suddenly grabbed her wrist and used the other to take and inspect the note without letting her go.
Yunjae bit her lip as she watched him look at the paper, noting his serious and unsmiling face. Her heart, like years ago constricted in her chest, but this time, not with tenderness but with pain. Seeing Jinho now like this hurt a lot.
"I see," the president commented as he placed the note haphazardly on the table and turned his cold eyes on her. Their gazes locked for a few seconds until she couldn't bear it anymore, she turned away. "M-my hand…" she murmured, and she was surprised when the other easily let go.
"Here," her boss commanded, and when she looked, her boss was handing her a keycard. "What's this?" she asked as she took it in her hands, though she already had an idea what it meant.
Ignoring her question, Jinho eyed her cruelly, and Yunjae flinched as he spoke. "Tell your husband you wouldn't be coming home tonight. You have some work to do," Jinho commanded with a sneer. "Go," he ordered and she clenched her hand hard, the key digging into the skin of her palm before placing it in her pocket as she walked out of her boss' office.
Back on her table, Yunjae had taken the receiver with trembling hands just as Jinho came out of his office, ready to leave. The secretary clumsily dialed her home phone number and she swallowed hard before she spoke.
"Hi. I can't go home today," she said breathily and she paused to listen to the other end. "I'm sorry about this. It was sudden," she continued as she glanced at her boss who watched her with a disgusted look on his face, making her nervous. "Y-yes, I'm sorry. I-I'll come home as soon as I c-can," she promised, her voice cracking, almost in tears.
Jinho might have found the scene really revolting as he turned away and left without a backward glance.
With him gone, Jae let the tears in her eyes fall freely, her nose turning red as she controlled her sobs regardless that she felt like weeping out loud. "Are you okay?" the voice asked on the other end, and she nodded in spite the other not seeing her.
"Y-yeah…" she answered in false lightheartedness which made her feel all the more like crying. "I'm okay. Just tired. I had so many things to do," she continued and she listened to the other end for a while. "Yes, yes, please give it to him," she agreed, and in a few seconds, she heard the voice of the one she loved with all her might.
Hearing his voice, it didn't matter anymore to Yunjae that she had been hurting just a while ago. The person talking to her in his soothing tone was enough to put a balm over the wounds in her heart. "I'm going now Yuan. I love you," she whispered as she ended the call.
Wiping her tears, Yunjae gathered her belongings and marched towards the parking lot. Getting into her car, she took the key her boss gave her from her pocket and held it in front of her.
With a silent prayer, she started the engine and pressed on the gas, maneuvering her way out onto the streets. She knew just where she was asked to go and she went without procrastination.
In a few minutes, she drove into a five star hotel, handed her car keys to the waiting valet and marched towards the elevators. With the key in her hand, Yunjae trudged down the hall on the fortieth floor towards the room indicated on the piece of metal in her hand.
Soon, she reached the huge suite bearing the same number as the key. Using the latter, she opened the room and stepped inside with all the grace of a condemned woman.
"I'm here," she called softly as she marched directly towards the shower where she knew she'd find him.
"Come in," was the curt reply, and Jae didn't think anymore as she pushed open the door.
"I'm here," she called again as soon as she stepped in, her eyes widening upon the sight that welcomed her.
Kang Jinho, in all his naked glory had his back on Yunjae. His sinewy arms spread wide, his hands pushing against the tiled wall as he leaned over with his head bowed. The warm spray of water from the silvery shower cascaded down his broad back and she was reminded again of the magnificent butterfly in the pool years ago.
The only difference was that this butterfly had a huge scar across his vertebra – a huge scar that she knew had long since healed physically, and yet the emotional wound it represented still remained, hovering over them like a huge reminder of her sin.
Yes, she, Kim Yunjae was the one who had caused the scar. She was the one who destroyed the wings of the very same magnificent butterfly she loved and admired. Because of this, she, Yunjae would continue to pay for her sins even though it meant she would have to keep on sinning.