And we finally get to know the name of one of our male leads’ in this chapter. But, when these three people — whose destinies are written such that when they overlap, destruction will arise — come together, what does it mean to the ones who are controlling their fates from behind the scenes?
Chapter 2: I Knew You Before You knew Me.
Kim Joo-won was watching the live CCTV footages from the Security Control Room of the Airport. He was watching his son do his work with perfection. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw the girl fall. She was clumsy and small. It had been so long since he had last seen her.
You’ve grown up well, Jia, he thought.
“Sir, we have traced the car in which Miss Lee had arrived in the Airport. It belongs to Lee Jina, her mother. She teaches Computer Science to Engineering Students at University of Singapore for part-time. Other activities include accounting and handling servers for small-time e-retailers,” said Daniel, his secretary.
He nodded, distracted by a man wearing a gray coat and reading Financial Times. Something seemed off about him.
“Find out which flight that man’s headed to,” he ordered Daniel, pointing to the man reading the newspaper on the monitor, “And if he’s in the same plane as Jia, then find out which seat he is in.”
He took the report on the car, which Daniel had left on the desk. The people in the room seemed to be nervous (hell! They are nervous) that the NIS’s Director is prowling in their space.
This is a Joint Operation by the NIS and the Intelligence Agency of Singapore.
He ignored the nervous looks directed at him, and read the report. The car was a Mercedes C-Class. He stared intently at the black-and-white photograph of Lee Jina. He only had to close his eyes to remember how she was fourteen years ago.
“Sir!” called a man, “The flight, which you asked us to put on observation, has called it’s passengers for boarding.”
Joo-won put aside the report to walk over to the man’s monitor. He watched Jia shuffle towards the Boarding Gate. He watched his son follow her smoothly.
In fact, if he was not aware that his son was following her, he wouldn’t even be able to guess that the girl is being followed by someone. Truly, his son did his work with élan.
Joo-won turned to see Daniel standing behind him. “Did you find anything?” he asked him.
“Sir, the man’s in the same flight as Miss Lee. Miss Lee is occupying the Seat 5A in the Executive Class, a window-side seat, which was pre-booked by her mother in her name. We have managed to pre-book the seat beside her in the name of our Agent. The other man is of Seat 6A, right behind Miss Lee.”
Joo-won nodded thoughtfully. “What about his particulars? Did you find anything else about him?”
“No, sir. But if you want me to, I will.”
“No, there’s no need. Everything seems to be alright.”
Daniel nodded and stepped back. But Joo-won hesitated and turned back to take a last look at the huge wall of monitors.
At the last minute, Joo-won reluctantly said, “Daniel, inform Agent Park that Operation Phoenix has begun again. Tell him to be prepared.”
“Sir, are you sure you want to involve…”
“Do what I told you to, Daniel.”
Then Joo-won’s eyes landed on the report on the car, which he had kept aside on the desk. He picked it up to run through it once again.
Lee Jina, he thought, his eyes lingering on her face, it’s time for us to meet once again.
“Have a Good day, sir!” the flight attendant said, smiling politely.
The man with the tinted glasses nodded crisply. He walked down the aisle. It turned out that he didn’t have to go very far.
His seat was 5B. Not a window-side seat. But beside the Target.
He sighed, remembering the way she fell. Completely ham-fisted and definitely not a bit like her mother.
He came to a stop when he saw his row number. And then he saw her. His mouth fell open. He was completely flummoxed.
Her ear-phones were plugged in, and she was dancing in her seat like crazy. His eyes widened as she did her gig. The dark tinted glasses were the only thing that kept his eyes from falling off.
Her own eyes were closed as she acted as though she was a singer—complete with a fist mike and all. Then she started softly humming a song hilariously, completely oblivious to his presence.
He cleared his throat, hoping that she’ll realize that he’s there. Nope. “Um, excuse me?” he said, hesitatingly. No response again.
Irritated, he threw his backpack in his seat. That seemed to bring her back to Plant Earth. Her eyes widened and she blushed.
“I’m so…so sorry!” she stammered, taking her ear-phones out of her ears and jamming them in her wallet.
Doesn’t she even own a purse? he thought. As he gave her a one-over, he noticed that everything she wore was rugged and definitely not something which girls usually like to wear. Maybe, he thought, she’s a tomboy.
He settled down in his seat. He tried to act nonchalant as he scanned her backpack with his glasses and took note of her hunting boots. He discreetly pulled out his ear-piece and dumped it in his pocket.
He turned, surprised. She looked straight into his eyes. He glanced back, wondering whether she was addressing somebody else. But, no. Other seats were relatively empty in the Executive Class, save for the one right behind her.
He put on a quizzical expression as he pointed towards himself, as if asking, ‘Me?’
She nodded, looking amused. “Yes, you. Who else?” she asked.
He nodded back at her, giving her a faint smile. Then he turned and picked out a random magazine from the seat-pocket. It turned out to be the airline’s safety guidelines. He pretended to read it.
Suddenly, he felt her leaning in to read his booklet. He turned to face her. She shrank back. He raised a single eyebrow.
“Are you actually reading all this stuff?” she asked him, with plain curiosity in her voice.
He frowned as he nodded. Then he turned back to his pretense of reading.
“Are you dumb?”
He stilled. His eyes widened, but he immediately regained composure. Her voice still had that child-like curiosity. He turned to face her again. He took off his glasses and put them in his chest-pocket.
His voice was calm, but internally he was amused, as he asked, “What made you think so?”
She looked back into his eyes, unabashed, as she said, “Well, you didn’t talk until now. So I guessed that you must be aurally challenged. I didn’t mean any offence.”
“None taken,” he assured her.
She gave a goofy grin as she extended her hand to him. “I am Lee Jia. You can call me Jia.”
“Jia?” he tested her name, as he took her proffered arm. That name sounded as though it was something to be worshiped, when it came out of his lips.
“What’s your name?” she asked him, and that curiosity returned to her voice and face again.
He looked at their intertwined hands before looking back at her face. The last time he had held these hands, they were so small! He gave her a ghost of a smile.
“I am Kim Joon. You can call me Joon.”
Aaaannnnd… we finally know one of our male lead’s names. This meeting seems more to be like the calm before a storm. And we all can already guess that. I’ll be out with the synopsis soon. So, you’ll understand the basic gist of what the story’s about.
The Title of the chapter says a lot to us. Mainly it’s that Joon knew Jia much before she knew him. She only has vague memories, but we don’t get to know that until much later into the book.
From now on, I won’t be giving anymore spoilers. Rather, I’ll comment as though this is the first time I read this chapter.
Joon is an interesting study. But so is his father. I find myself hating Joo-won a bit. But I hope that there’s a bigger motive behind whatever he’s doing. I have this feeling that he’s using Jia as a chess piece, but I pray that it’s not true because Jia is such a wonderful character.
It’s rare to find a novel heroine who doesn’t feel awkward about what she does and is open and frank and a nerd.
I wouldn’t call Jia beautiful. And I’m extremely thankful to the author for that. Because I’m sorta tired with the She-doesn’t-know-she’s-beautiful trope. Beauty is something that should come from within, not from looks. And Jia is precisely that kind of a beauty—her courage is what makes her beautiful.
It’s pretty clear that everybody knows what’s going on except for her. It’s as though everyone’s scared that she can’t handle what’s in store for her. But I’m pretty sure that she’s a much stronger person than what she is portrayed to be.
After all, aren’t we all stronger than what everyone thinks we are?