মুখ্য Third Vampire Shadows

Third Vampire Shadows

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এই বইটি আপনার কতটা পছন্দ?
ফাইলের মান কিরকম?
মান নির্ণয়ের জন্য বইটি ডাউনলোড করুন
ডাউনলোড করা ফাইলগুলির মান কিরকম?
সাল:
2014
প্রকাশক:
KONG Publishing House
ভাষা:
english
বইয়ের সিরিজ:
An Urban Paranormal Romance Novel
ফাইল:
EPUB, 319 KB
ডাউনলোড (epub, 319 KB)
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আপনি একটি বুক রিভিউ লিখতে পারেন এবং আপনার অভিজ্ঞতা শেয়ার করতে পারেন. অন্যান্য পাঠকরা আপনার পড়া বইগুলির বিষয়ে আপনার মতামত সম্পর্কে সর্বদা আগ্রহী হবে. বইটি আপনার পছন্দ হোক বা না হোক, আপনি যদি নিজের সৎ ও বিস্তারিত চিন্তাভাবনা ব্যক্ত করেন তাহলে অন্যরা তাদের জন্য উপযুক্ত নতুন বইগুলি খুঁজে পাবে.
1

Third Vampire Shadows

সাল:
2014
ভাষা:
english
ফাইল:
MOBI , 602 KB
0 / 0
2

The Works of Zane Grey

সাল:
2014
ভাষা:
english
ফাইল:
EPUB, 10.55 MB
0 / 0
THIRD VAMPIRE SHADOWS





ZHU HSIA





Copyright © 2014 KONG Publishing House

License Notes

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright laws and Treaties. Any authorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. Thank you for respecting the hard word of this author.

This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real or dead people, places, or events are not intentional and are the result of coincidence. The characters, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the author/publisher.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Ver: 2014.01.01





« CONTENTS »



« CHAPTER 1 »

« CHAPTER 2 »

« CHAPTER 3 »

« CHAPTER 4 »

« CHAPTER 5 »

« CHAPTER 6 »

« CHAPTER 7 »

« CHAPTER 8 »

« CHAPTER 9 »

« CHAPTER 10 »

« CHAPTER 11 »

« EPILOGUE »





« CHAPTER 1 »




Warm. Sticky. Sweet. That was how the first few drops of blood always tasted for Mun Oh. He had been drinking blood for over a decade, but he still enjoyed it as though every sip was his first taste.

Belonging to the new generation of bloodsuckers and being the youngest member of the most prominent clan had its fair share of advantages and disadvantages especially. For one thing, Mun Oh was raised to be straight-laced, phlegmatic and adamant. So naturally, like any other "prominent" family member in the world, he needed to behave himself in such a way as to avoid besmirching their well-respected clan. However, he was used to getting things his way a; nd he often disobeyed the rules just to satisfy his ego. He was very inconsiderate and never listened to anyone at all. Despite all this, he was still seen as being so much better than Ji Sun—his only sister, who was called "somewhat rebellious" by their own parents.

It was not as if they were being held by the neck; it was just that Ji Sun was never really proud of being a bloodsucker to begin with. She did not necessarily abhor it, nor was she ashamed of it in any way, she just wished, more than anything else, to be an ordinary human. Despite the fact that their parents were totally against it, she exposed herself to the human world at a very young age and constantly researched them and eventually mingled with them. At first, she was merely fascinated by the difference between their kind and her kind. But then her fascination turned into obsession, and soon, she was more human than anyone in their clan.

Although there were really no rules restricting bloodsuckers from mingling with humans, mainly because they were living in the human world, bloodsuckers were still required to distance themselves from humans. It had long been proven how cruel and barbaric humans could be whenever they discovered anything or anyone that deviated from the norms of their society and what they viewed as "reality."

A bloodsucker is like the distant cousin of a vampire. While the latter had been portrayed by humans in a thousand different ways, bloodsuckers were a rare kind that never wished to share the limelight with so-called vampires, or even be identified as one of them. The similarity between them ended in their constant need to suck a human's blood. There are only five things you need to know about bloodsuckers.

First, they possess the ability to obliterate the memory of the human whose blood they have sucked. The moment they finished sucking even a measly amount of blood from a human, his or her recollections of everything about the bloodsucker is instantaneously replaced with a substitute memory, therefore making the bloodsucker absolutely invisible to his victim.

Second, they are to continue their bloodline either by marrying another bloodsucker or by transforming a human into a bloodsucker through the "Ritual of Sacrifice." The latter can only be done if the elders in the clan give their approval based on the test of loyalty that the human must undergo. However, the human is deemed only a "Kala Haffi," meaning that he or she does not possess the pure blood and qualities of a bloodsucker.

Third, they follow the Rule of Thirds, which is a rule shrouded in mystery and passed from generation to generation only by word of mouth. It is so secret that only the heir to the clan is allowed to hear it directly from the elders in his family.

Fourth, a bloodsucker can only abstain from consuming blood for two months before reaching his limit. Similarly, he can only consume as much as one glass of blood per day regardless of the number of his victims; exceeding that will also lead him to reach his limit. If he reaches his limit, he will unwillingly submit to a long stupor that will last for a maximum of ten decades.

The last, and arguably the most important, fact about bloodsuckers: they MUST NOT, under any circumstances, bite a human to whom they have or have had special feelings for, no matter how serious it is or was. Willpower must be properly exercised in this situation, for these "special" feelings can significantly trigger a bloodsucker's instinct and desire to bite. One single bite can be seriously harmful to the human.

Five long years had elapsed since Ji Sun took her rebellion to the edge by running away from home to live in another country and taking the remaining step to becoming an ordinary human. She was immediately disowned by the Lee Clan; this gave her former position of heir to the clan to the immature Mun Oh. He who refused to be inferior to anyone, and who had made quite a name for himself as the most fearsome bloodsucker of today was now the heir to the famous Lee Clan. The only problem is that the code of the bloodsuckers clearly states that Mun Oh cannot become the rightful heir unless Ji Sun renounced her position along with her rejection of living as a bloodsucker.

The Ritual of Renunciation will shorten the lifespan of the bloodsucker and mark him or her with a stigma.

"I can't do that to her..." Mun Oh mumbled to himself as he stepped outside the crowded airport and flagged down a cab.

Even though he and his sister never really hung out or bonded as siblings, he did not have any feelings of contempt toward her. She was still his sister. He got in the cab, shoving his luggage in before giving the address of his destination to the plump cab driver. As the cab made its way onto the busy road ahead, Mun Oh sighed heavily, desperately wishing for a less complicated scenario. Of course he wanted to be the heir apparent to the Lee Clan, but not this way.

The cab managed to squeeze its way out of the mild traffic easily, and before Mun Oh knew it, he was only a couple of blocks away from where his sister lived. It was his first time visiting her here, since she had constantly moved from one place to another over the years. However, bloodsuckers can easily feel if one of their kind is nearby. He’d learned from her letter sent three weeks ago that she was now happily married. Not really taught how to express his emotions properly, Mun Oh had chosen not to reply, thinking it would be better that way. Besides, he never cared much about such inconsequential matters. He couldn't share his destiny as a bloodsucker with anyone else.

His thoughts were momentarily cut off by the nasal voice of the driver, announcing their arrival. Mun Oh slowly looked to his left and saw a bungalow, big enough for four people, with a well-kept lawn and a green picket fence. Other than that, there was nothing spectacular about the house, which made him more vexed than he already was. He could not believe that one of his kind, particularly his own sister, lived here.

He paid the driver and threw his bags out onto the sidewalk before gracefully exiting the tiny cab. Ignoring his scattered bags, he skipped over the low fence and walked to the front porch in three long strides.

He banged on the huge oak door and was ready to bang on it again when he heard footsteps leisurely approaching. He smiled to himself as he recognized the unmistakable smell of freshly picked grapes that was obviously his sister’s. A bloodsucker's sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing is a great deal superior to an average human's.

To a bloodsucker, everyone has a distinctive scent.

Mun Oh straightened in anticipation as the doorknob turned and the door opened, revealing a stunning woman with a mane of long, silky, waist-length black hair, deep-set eyes and a bewitching smile. A crease materialized in her forehead as she looked at Mun Oh from head to foot, clearly not recognizing her younger brother.

"May I help you?" Ji Sun asked tentatively.

Mun Oh grinned. "It's really been a while, eh?" he asked, amused. “Sister…” he added, rather seriously.

Ji Sun's deep-set eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets in shock as his identity dawned on her. She studied him again from head to foot, about ten times, before finally feeling convinced that it was indeed her brother.

She hastily stepped onto the porch and closed the door behind her. "What…? Why are you...? What are you doing here?" she asked quietly.

Mun Oh was a bit offended at her lack of hospitality. He smirked at her, arrogantly enjoying the effect of his mere presence, before saying, "I came for you. I need something from you, to be exact."

Ji Sun was still lost. "What do you mean?"

Mun Oh hesitated, but then ignored his second thoughts. "The Ritual of Renunciation.”





« CHAPTER 2 »




"How long do you intend to keep me waiting?" Hyeon Jin demanded of her latest victim, a trembling bespectacled girl in her first year.

"I... umm... because... I lost it..." she mumbled incoherently, shaking from head to foot. She was a couple of feet shorter than Hyeon Jin, with long, wild hair and a strawberry nose that was getting redder by the minute due to the cold wind.

"YOU WHAT?" Hyeon Jin bellowed, the vein in her forehead throbbing madly.

The bespectacled freshman jumped back a couple of steps in terror, tripped on a rock, and fell flat on her butt. Before she could get to her feet though, Hyeon Jin was already pulling her up by the collar of her school uniform.

"Are you telling me that you're actually dumb enough to lose something considerably bigger than your brain?!" she asked, shaking her off with incredible force.

Although Hyeon Jin was a mere 16-year-old, her posture and physique epitomized dominance and she had an aura of exceptional arrogance. Her toned body was the product of weekend workouts at the gym and almost ten years of Taekwondo lessons. She kept her dark hair short and layered, and the layers flew in all directions.

“I specifically told you to fill up my special cup with cold bubbling water from that drinking fountain in the corner of the seventh floor lobby of the economics building,” she said through gritted teeth, her voice filled with fury and her eyes narrowing dangerously.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to… to lose it. I just… The line was so long and someone pushed me, so I dropped it… and… and it was broken in half,” she explained. "I was so afraid to go back and tell you about it, so I tried to fix it for you, but..." she finished, backing away some more.

"You told me you lost it, and now you're saying you broke it?" Hyeon Jin asked. "You know how much I hate liars?" She advanced towards her.

"I wasn't lying. I was just... scared of you!"

"Scared of ME? What am I, a MONSTER?”

The girl was now backing away faster as Hyeon Jin took huge, slow steps towards her.

"Yes, you are..." a third voice said.

Both Hyeon Jin and the terrified girl halted at once. The latter frantically scanned her surroundings, while the former merely turned her head. The park across from their school was dark and almost empty except for the two of them; the only source of light was coming from the tall street lamps. They heard slow footsteps as a face came into view.

"I see you still have a knack for terrorizing weaklings," the third speaker said quietly, placing himself in the middle of the two girls.

"What're you doing here?" Hyeon Jin asked with a hint of boredom. She quickly recognized the guy's light brown spiky hair and the mischievous glint permanently plastered in his dark, slit-like eyes.

"Your dad's looking for you," he said. The mischievous look in his eyes was completely contradicted by the innocently thin smile that gave life to his facial features.

"And why would he assume I'm with you, huh?" Hyeon Jin said, crossing her arms haughtily. For some reason, she now appeared smaller in stature compared to the newcomer.

"Beats me," the guy replied with a shrug. He was only a few inches taller than Jin, but his stance made it apparent that he was a year or so older than her. The fact that he was still wearing his school uniform over his house slippers suggested that he had already gone home when he had received the call, and he hadn't had a chance to change before searching for her.

"Maybe somebody told him we're still together," the guy said nonchalantly.

For a moment, Hyeon Jin was unable to say anything, but her expression implied that she was having difficulty warding off a certain emotion bursting to explode.

"You!" she yelled at the cowering girl hiding behind the guy. "Get out of here. I don't wanna see your stupid face sticking out of the crowd in school, understand?"

The bespectacled girl had stopped trembling, but still looked as terrified as before. She peeked at Hyeon Jin from behind the guy and nodded vigorously before scurrying away like a scared mouse.

"What an eyesore..." Hyeon Jin said, turning to go.

"I was supposed to bring you home. Jump on," the guy said, gesturing to his bicycle.

"No thanks. You're not responsible for me anymore."

"Do you actually think I came here for nothing?" the guy countered, getting on his bike.

Hyeon Jin abandoned all attempts to argue, which was saying something, and got on the back of the bike unceremoniously. She wrapped her arms around the guy's waist, but immediately let go, as though she had received an electric shock.

The guy smirked as he stepped on the pedal and headed for the street. The ride home was short, cold, and quiet. Barely 20 minutes had elapsed when the facade of a bungalow with a green picket fence came into view.

Hyeon Jin hastily got off even before the bike had come to a complete stop. By the time the guy got off and parked his bike by the fence, she was already at the door.

She knocked loudly and urgently, loosening her necktie. The guy joined her after a few seconds, deliberately standing close behind so that his face was only an inch away from the back of Hyeon Jin's head.

Feeling his breath on her nape, Hyeon Jin turned to face him. However, she spun around so fast that she collided with him and they both toppled down, with Hyeon Jin landing on top of him. As if that humiliation wasn't enough, Hyeon Jin's father chose that very moment to open the door.

Kim Junjin was a short, gracious man in his late thirties. He had the appearance of someone who spent his entire life working and then stressing over his work once he finally took a break. Although he retained vestiges of a chiseled body and a handsome face, aging and everything that comes with it, combined with his heavy workload, had taken its toll on him. His dark, wavy hair was now streaked with a few gray strands here and there; the pretty eyes that Hyeon Jin had inherited were now dull and lined with dark circles, expressing nothing but exhaustion.

At first he didn't notice a flabbergasted Hyeon Jin frozen on top of the confused, but amused, guy. When he spotted them, he cursed aloud and jumped back in surprise. Instead of ranting on about ‘what the hell are they doing’ like any normal parent would, Junjin hurriedly closed the door, seemingly more embarrassed than them.

"I'm sorry... Did I disturb you or something? I can forget about what I saw…" he called out to them from the other side of the door.

Utterly humiliated and increasingly annoyed, Hyeon Jin pulled herself up to her feet and banged on the door.

"Ha-ha. Very funny, Dad. Open up!" Hyeon Jin demanded.

Kim Junjin opened the door slowly just as the guy got to his feet, shaking his head.

"Oh! Glad to see you again, Park Juno!" Kim Junjin exclaimed, dragging the guy inside as though he hadn't seen both of them a few seconds ago. "Come inside; I just made tea."

Hyeon Jin blocked the doorway, obviously vexed, and faced Park Juno. "No. You can leave now," she ordered firmly.

"But I made tea!" Kim Junjin argued, sounding like a three-year-old arguing about which came first: the chicken or the egg.

Hyeon Jin turned to stare daggers at her father before facing Park Juno again. "What are you waiting for? Money? The sunrise? I said you may go."

Kim Junjin gasped. Though he may have looked haggard and worn out, he managed to remain jovial and vibrant, especially around his only daughter. He cracked jokes every now and then and even got away with teasing Hyeon Jin about her love life.

Park Juno shrugged indifferently, bowed his head slightly as a sign of respect to Kim Junjin, and then walked away without another word.

"What… Ugh. Forget it,” Hyeon Jin hissed, apparently caught off guard by his reaction. She was hoping he'd argue or at least say something. She immediately turned around and stomped inside, not bothering to watch Park Juno pedal away on his bike. Her father continued to stare after the guy, clearly amused.

As soon as she was inside, she headed past the kitchen, where her stepmother was busy making tea, and straight to her room in the left wing of the house. Just as she was about to close the door behind her and turn on the light, she sensed a presence inside. She balled her fist and tiptoed toward the center of the room, carefully avoiding the dirty clothes scattered all over her carpeted floor. She saw that there was someone lying on her bed quite comfortably. Without further ado, she jumped on the bed and started kicking and punching the intruder, screaming at the top of her lungs. The intruder fell off the bed and onto the floor, entangled in the blankets and pillows, where Hyeon Jin continued to kick him hard. But the intruder was no ordinary guy. It was the bloodsucker Mun Oh.

Apparently having had enough, he grabbed Hyeon Jin's foot just as she was about to give him a kick to the face and yanked it with such great strength that she did a full backflip before hitting the floor loud and hard. By the time Mun Oh got to his feet, Hyeon Jin was already screaming for help.

"Shut up! Who the hell are you?" Mun Oh asked, massaging his left arm.

Hyeon Jin stopped screaming at once and stared up at him in bewilderment. "What? That's my line!" she yelled, slowly getting up. "Oww..." she groaned, massaging her lower back.

"Who are you and what're you doing here?" Mun Oh repeated, assessing her from head to foot.

"Okay, you have got to stop stealing my lines, you know!" Hyeon Jin replied, taking one step toward him. "This is MY room. I live here, so you don't have any right at all to question my presence!"

Just then, the door opened and Kim Junjin ran inside, followed by Ji Sun, who was still holding a teacup in her right hand. Kim Junjin looked around frantically, ignoring the two people in the middle of the room. After making sure "nothing" was wrong, he faced an irate Mun Oh and a perplexed Hyeon Jin.

"What did you scream for?" he asked his daughter calmly.

"DUH! Intruder—in MY room—in my BED! Hello?!" Hyeon Jin exclaimed irritably, pointing a finger at Mun Oh, who merely rolled his eyes.

Instead of explaining, Kim Junjin decided it was a good time to snicker, but immediately stopped when his daughter flashed him her "shut up" look. Ji Sun stepped in to explain.

"I'm sorry. I thought your dad already told you about him," she said nervously. "Hyeon Jin, this is Mun Oh, my younger brother. Mun Oh, this is Hyeon Jin… my stepdaughter."

"You have a brother?!" blurted out Hyeon Jin. At the same time, Mun Oh said, "You have a stepdaughter?!"

Kim Junjin nodded, while Ji Sun offered a nervous smile.

"Dad... can we talk outside for a bit?" Hyeon Jin said, striding to the door even before Kim Junjin could give a reply.

The moment they were alone inside, Mun Oh grabbed his sister's arm and dragged her to the corner of the room.

"We need to talk," he said. "How come you never told me about that brat?"

"Well... I was trying to find the right time to tell you," Ji Sun said.

"Yeah, right. Now is the right time to explain," Mun Oh said sarcastically. "You did not just marry a man ten years older than you... you also adopted his insane daughter!"

"Shusshhh! Be quiet. She's not insane, okay? She's just..." She paused to think for a second, and then said, "Well, she's something else. But she's a nice girl once you get to know her."

Mun Oh rolled his eyes dramatically. "I highly doubt it. Besides, I do not have any intentions whatsoever of getting to know her."

•••

"Okay. Lemme get this straight," Hyeon Jin said after hearing her father's brief explanation. "You've been together for almost three years now and she never even once mentioned something about having a brother to you. But now, you actually believed that he IS indeed her brother?" she asked, suspicious.

Kim Junjin raised an eyebrow. "What are you implying?"

"I'm saying that you don't just give your trust to anyone right away! Especially nowadays! Are you going insane?" Hyeon Jin said.

"Listen here, young lady,” he said. "Ji Sun is not just anyone—she's your stepmother. And for the last three years that we've been together, she has never lied to me, not even once. You, however, have lied to me more times than anyone I've ever known."

Hyeon Jin's expression showed that her father had clearly struck a nerve.

"You told me you'd stop bullying other people if I bought you a cell phone," Kim Junjin continued, sounding disappointed. "But you didn't stop and I don't even know if you have any intentions of ever stopping that pathetic habit of yours… ever."

I did stop… Jin thought bitterly. I stopped bullying five losers a day. Now I only bully one or two losers in a day…

"You assured me that your grades would go up once I bought you that laptop, but your grades are still dismal. And you always sleep in class, your teacher told me."

Hyeon Jin looked away innocently. Well, you didn't buy me the laptop that I wanted, she thought, still bitter. You bought me a cheap, second-hand laptop that was slower than a freaking turtle!

Although her mind was reeling with thoughts and counter arguments, she knew it was unwise to voice them during a moment like this.

"I like sleeping when I'm bored," she finally said defensively. "You of all people know that."

"That's not the point. The point is—" Kim Junjin started to say. "I almost forgot: you never told me that Park Juno already dumped you!"

Hyeon Jin's jaw dropped and Kim Junjin shook his head; it was hard to tell whether he was shaking it in a disapproving or teasing manner.

"I wasn't— He didn't dump me, okay?" she stammered. "It was a mutual decision, you know, to cool things off for a while... so I could focus on other stuff like my studies."

"Hmm..." Kim Junjin said, nodding, but he was clearly unconvinced.

Hyeon Jin swore under her breath. "I'm so gonna kill that dork."

"He never told me about it, either," he informed her.

"Huh?"

"Shin Erin told me."

Another curse escaped her mouth and she pouted. Shin Erin was her best friend. Or at least she was supposed to be her best friend. Why would Shin Erin tell her father about this?

"We're getting off the subject here," Kim Junjin said. "The point is that Ji Sun was just as surprised as you and I regarding this matter. So the least we could do is to make her feel at ease."

"Which means...?" Hyeon Jin asked.

"Mun Oh will be staying here with us. At least, until he and Ji Sun have settled everything," he stated in a business-like tone. "I think they have some personal issues and I don't really wanna meddle," he added in reply to Jin's questioning look.

"So... how long will it take for them to 'settle' whatever it is they need to settle?"

He shrugged. "Dunno. Two weeks... a month or so..."

Her eyes widened. "What?! Couldn't you just step in and settle it for them? Or at least tell them to resolve it quickly?"

“Why are you in such a hurry? I think having him around here would be good for you. He's the same age as you, and I personally think he's a well-mannered young lad."

"What, is he your son? You never talk about me that way." Hyeon Jin muttered grudgingly. "Honestly, I don't like him."

"There you go again with your 'quick judging,'" he said. Hyeon Jin rolled her eyes. "I bet you two will get along just fine in a matter of days," he assured her.

"Impossible."

"You know, he's a smart and friendly guy—your exact opposite, and they say opposites attract, right?" he said. Hyeon Jin stared at him in disbelief. "Trust me; I'm an excellent judge of character."

Hyeon Jin didn't say a word, but kept rolling her eyes in vexation.

"Oh, and he could even tutor you in all your failing subjects—especially English! You know, he's been studying in different countries all around the world ever since he was a kid! And he told me that he can speak eight different languages!" Kim Junjin went on excitedly, like a proud parent talking about his own child's achievements. "Eight languages! You can't even speak our language well!"

"OKAY! ENOUGH!" Hyeon Jin snapped. "You can do whatever you want with him as long as he stays out of my way."

"Great!" he said. "Oh, and there's one more thing. He's gonna be using your room."

"Wait—what?"

"You know, same as always... You share your room with our visitors."

•••

Inside Hyeon Jin's room, Mun Oh yelled, "WHAT!" at his sister.

"See, we don't have a guest room, so... you're gonna have to share this room with her. It's always been like that when we have visitors," Ji Sun explained. "And Hyeon Jin's ok with it," she added upon seeing Mun Oh's confused expression.

"No... No, no, no..." Mun Oh repeated over and over again, shaking his head. "There is no WAY that I'm gonna share a room with that— that lunatic!"

"You don't have a choice," Ji Sun declared firmly. "If you want to stay here, you're gonna have to play by the rules. Unless you want to stay outside—in the living room."

Irked, Mun Oh clicked his tongue. "Who says I want to stay here longer than I already have? I would’ve gone now if you had just—" he stopped and lowered his voice to a whisper. "If you had just done the ritual right there and then, I wouldn't even be caught up in the middle of all this."

Ji Sun appeared to be highly offended, and Mun Oh suddenly knew why.

He looked away. "Sorry. I just have to do this," he said. "I wasn't given a choice. If you think I'm doing this because I like it, then you're wrong."

There was a moment of awkward silence, during which Mun Oh stared at his feet intently, as though they were the most interesting things he'd ever seen, while Ji Sun stroked the teacup still in her hand.

"I know you weren't given a choice," Ji Sun mumbled. "But please don't put me in that same position.”

Just then, the door opened and the father and daughter came walking in; the former beaming from ear to ear while the latter looked as though she had swallowed a tube of toothpaste.

"So! Everything's all right now," Kim Junjin proclaimed in a booming voice. Ji Sun walked over to his side, forcing a smile. Mun Oh and Hyeon Jin were deliberately trying to avoid each other's eyes.

"Mun Oh will sleep on the mattress here. You can have the bed to yourself, Hyeon Jin," Ji Sun said.

Mun Oh glared at his sister while Hyeon Jin smirked. "Of course. It's my room so I should have the bed to myself," she said.

"I think we should eat. It's getting late," Kim Junjin said, and he led the way out of the room. Ji Sun followed him shortly afterward, and Mun Oh did, too, sneering at Hyeon Jin as he passed by her.

The first few minutes of dinner went smoothly. Everyone was preoccupied with the sumptuous meal that Ji Sun prepared, and it seemed like they had all momentarily forgot everything that transpired within the last hour. It would've gone on peacefully if Hyeon Jin hadn't opened her mouth to speak.

"So..." she began in a loud voice, causing the three other people at the table to look up from their plates.

“So... if you are Ji Sun’s brother... then that makes you—" she looked directly at Mun Oh, "my uncle?"

An awkward moment of silence ensued. Kim Junjin and Ji Sun exchanged questioning looks, Mun Oh's expression was unfathomable, while Hyeon Jin cheerfully went back to her food.

"How old are you again?" Hyeon Jin continued after swallowing a piece of egg roll.

"Fifteen... and a half," Mun Oh replied flatly.

Hyeon Jin chuckled. "You're younger than me and you're supposed to be my uncle."

Mun Oh raised an eyebrow.

"He's turning 16 this coming month," Ji Sun said.

Mun Oh threw her a look but she avoided it.

"Oh, really? When?" Hyeon Jin asked.

Ji Sun opened her mouth, glanced at Mun Oh, and then closed it again.

"Hmm..." Hyeon Jin said, nodding slowly, her expression victorious.

Kim Junjin finally realized that it was time for him to say something.

"We can celebrate his birthday—" he started to say in a jovial tone, but then he caught a glimpse of Ji Sun's reproving expression. "...Err... if you want," he ended in a small and somewhat embarrassed voice.

Hyeon Jin sipped from her glass of kiwi juice. "What country did you say you were from?" she asked, acting as though her father had never spoken.

Ji Sun was now as red as the slices of tomato on her plate.

Mun Oh finished chewing a small piece of steak before replying, in a highly amused manner, "Ouagadougou."

Hyeon Jin was about to nod but then, as the word sank in, she blinked.

The young bloodsucker grinned from ear to ear; his grin redolent with sweet retaliation. He silently counted to three, basking in his looming victory, before continuing.

"Oh... I forgot!" he exclaimed dramatically, carefully establishing eye contact with Hyeon Jin. "Your father told me that you're not that good in geography. You probably have no idea where Ouagadougou is..." he said, shaking his head ruefully.

“Tsk, tsk," he said. “What a shame. It's a wonderful place, you know," he said in a feigned sympathetic tone.

Being a gentleman, Mun Oh waited for her to recuperate, gather her thoughts and come up with a witty reply. He had anticipated the blank look on her face. What he hadn't expected, however, was the frog-like smile slowly spreading on her face right before she spoke.

“How would I know where that damned place is?” She smirked. “I bet you’re the only one at this table who knows about it. It’s not even worth knowing about.”

She looked at her father, hoping to get some hints of assent. But Kim Junjin bit his lip, signaling an “uh-oh” moment for her. Ji Sun quickly concentrated on her food, apparently not wanting to join in the disastrous conversation.

Kim Junjin scratched his head. “Actually, I… I kinda know about Ouagadougou.”

“What?” Hyeon Jin snapped.

“Errmm… it’s the capital of Burkina Faso, in the central part,” he explained nervously. He glanced at a grinning Mun Oh. “Right?”

Mun Oh slowly nodded. “Right you are… Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso.”

“And Burkina Faso was called the Republic of Upper Volta when it gained independence from France in 1960!” Kim Junjin added excitedly.

Mun Oh’s grin was like that of a Cheshire cat. “It is actually the country's largest city, with a population of 960,116, I think, as of 2000.”

Hyeon Jin was now positively livid, but it wasn’t enough for the relentless Mun Oh. He gazed at his sister, who was observing the exchange of ideas like a tennis game.

“Umm… I like it how they often shorten its name to Ouaga,” she commented shyly.

Mun Oh returned his gaze to Hyeon Jin, who swallowed a large chunk of pineapple, annoyed.

“Hmm… Seems like you’re the only one in this table who doesn’t know where Ouagadougou is, huh?”

Hyeon Jin dropped her fork with a loud clatter. “Did you know that your name means OCTOPUS in Korean?!” she blurted out, the vein in her forehead throbbing madly. “Ha! What kind of name is that? Maybe your parents think you look like one!” She laughed aloud maniacally.

An embarrassing silence ensued. Nobody joined in her laughter.

Ji Sun cleared her throat loudly, catching Kim Junjin’s attention. The latter blinked twice and then cleared his throat, too.

“You know what? I think you should tutor my daughter. I mean, you’re such a smart boy. I’m quite impressed! Maybe you could help her with a few of her subjects—” he said to Mun Oh, carefully glancing at Hyeon Jin before adding “especially English.”

“What?” Jin snapped at her father, who jumped in his seat, startled. “Why do I need a tutor all of a sudden?”

“Well… It’s not really ‘all of a sudden,’” Kim Junjin pointed out. “You already needed a tutor badly, even before Mun Oh came here.”

“I can accept anyone but him.”

“I can tutor her for free,” Mun Oh offered earnestly.

“Really?”

“What?” Hyeon Jin snapped again, this time at Mun Oh.

“That’s great!” Kim Junjin remarked cheerfully, ignoring Hyeon Jin’s piercing glare. “It’s all settled, then! You can tutor her in English, geography, history, math, science…” he paused to think. “Well, I think you need to cover almost everything… Is that okay with you?”

“What?!” Hyeon Jin exclaimed, her eyes widening in shock upon hearing her own father bash her in front of this total stranger.

Mun Oh shrugged and sipped some water. “It’s totally fine with me.”

“I’m not cool with it—”

“Okay, then! Let’s all take a rest for now and have a good start tomorrow!” Kim Junjin said, drowning out Jin’s objections.

“Hey! I’m talking here! I said—” Hyeon Jin started to say, but everyone seemed to be in such a hurry to leave the table that no one paid her any heed.

Kim Junjin helped Ji Sun clean the table and wash the dishes while Mun Oh strode over to Hyeon Jin’s room, humming to himself.

“You little jerk!” Hyeon Jin hissed, getting up from the table and beating Mun Oh to her room.

“HEY! Where do you think you’re going?” she yelled at him.

Mun Oh yawned widely. “I’m going to take a rest now… I’m kinda tired from the trip. Ouagadougou’s a long way from here, you know.”

Jin gritted her teeth. “Ouadogaogou, my ass! Do you think I’m just gonna let you sleep in MY room after what you did you— you little SUCK UP!”

“It’s Oua-ga-dou-gou,” he corrected slowly. “And I can’t remember doing anything to piss you off.”

“Ha! You—”

“You guys, turn off the lights in the hallway before you go to sleep, okay?” Kim Junjin called out as he passed them, overlooking the fact that the two were clearly not yet finished getting on each other’s nerves. Ji Sun came after him without a single word.

Mun Oh stretched his arms upward. “Could you move out of the way? I’m kinda sleepy now.”

Hyeon Jin opened the door and quickly locked it behind her before Mun Oh could react. The latter started banging on the door.

“Open up, you twit! I don’t have time to play an immature game with you!”

“Sleep on the couch,” Hyeon Jin called out. “I bet there are no beds in Ouadoogadoug…”

“IT’S OUAGADOUGOU, freak!” Mun Oh shouted. “IF YOU DON’T OPEN THIS UP IN THE NEXT FIVE SECONDS, I’M GONNA—” He stopped himself, realizing what he was about to say.

He was just about to tell her that if she didn’t open up, he would suck her dry. Good thing he was able to control himself.

“You’re gonna WHAT? Call your little Ouagoogoodou friends and lecture me about geography?” Hyeon Jin mocked. “Good night!”

He heard her walk away from the door and settle on the bed. Admitting defeat, he strode back past the kitchen and into the small room where two wooden chairs and one long, old-looking couch were set up in front of the flat-screen TV. He eyed the long couch anxiously.

“Unbelievable,” he muttered, shaking his head. He could not believe that that mere human girl had had the last laugh.

But as he lay down on the couch, curling up because it was too small for him, he thought that this was just the beginning. He was not just an ordinary bloodsucker—he was LEE MUN OH. A future legend. And legends did not go down in history as someone who lost in a “last laugh war” with a mere human.

Especially a GIRL, he thought furiously. I’m gonna make your life so miserable, you’d beg me to just bite you.





« CHAPTER 3 »




Hyeon Jin woke with a start, as though something unseen had shaken her. She turned her half-opened eyes toward the pig-shaped alarm clock on her bedside table.

Seven o'clock...

"Seven o'clock!!!" Hyeon Jin yelled, jolting out of her bed. "I'm so LATE!" She cursed under her breath, then took a two-minute shower and got dressed as quickly as she could.

She grabbed her school bag, some books, and her shoes, and then dashed out of her messy room and into the kitchen.

There were three people sitting at the dining table as she passed it, sprinting toward the refrigerator to grab a carton of milk. She was gulping down the milk when she realized something. Confused, she took a couple of steps backward, peeked at the dining table and started counting.

Her father was there, already dressed for work, perusing his daily dose of news. Ji Sun was eating a piece of toast while typing a message on her cell phone... And the third person was just sitting there, his arms crossed smugly, dressed in formal clothes and enjoying a cup of tea.

Hyeon Jin cursed, her hand quickly slapping her forehead. How could she forget? It was that wretched Mun Oh. The Brother from Hell.

She finished the milk, tossed it in the nearby trashcan and stomped toward the table. Nobody seemed to take notice of her, not even Mun Oh. So she reached out for a piece of toast, but before she could even touch one, her father's hand flew from across the table and swatted her hand away. She stared at him, surprised.

"No breakfast for you today, young lady," he simply said, getting back to his newspaper.

"WHAT? Why?" Hyeon Jin demanded.

"Kim Junjin… Don't be too harsh. It's not a big deal if she left Mun Oh to sleep outside. He's really used to sleeping on couches," Ji Sun explained.

"No, I'm not! I got bitten by those tiny insects and it was so cold and my neck and back hurts and… and… I didn't have a pillow!" Mun Oh whined.

Hyeon Jin crossed her arms. "So that's how it is? You let your daughter starve to death just because I left this— PEST here to sleep on the couch...?”

“That’s not what it is,” Kim Junjin replied without looking at her. “You should learn to be more hospitable.”

“Maybe she doesn’t know what the word means,” Mun Oh suggested.

“Shut up, you pest!” Hyeon Jin snapped at him. “I’m late. Just give me my allowance.” She held out her hand to Kim Junjin.

"I already gave you this month's allowance."

Hyeon Jin's outstretched hand went up to scratch her head tensely.

"Well... I... I bought a couple of things for school... so…" she stuttered.

Kim Junjin eyed her curiously. "Hmmm. For school, eh? Well, I guess you could show it to me, then, along with the receipt."

"Oh, come on, Dad! I'm LATE!"

"You should've woken up early," Mun Oh said nonchalantly.

"One more word and I swear I'm gonna—"

"Hyeon Jin!" Kim Junjin said in a dangerous tone. "If you don't have anything to show me, then just leave. Stop being rude to our visitor."

Hyeon Jin pouted, stomped out of the kitchen, and headed toward the front door.

She then started the twenty-minute walk to her school. Normally, she would have ridden her bike or on the back of Park Juno’s bike, but since she had neither anymore, she now had to endure the five-block walk every school day.

She was a block away from her school when she decided to stop walking and scream her lungs out in fury. A few passersby stared at her anxiously.

"What are you looking at?!" she yelled at a couple of elementary students, who immediately broke into a sprint, clearly terrified.

She continued walking, now cursing and muttering under her breath.

"Sucking up to my dad... What was he thinking? That he could win him over just like that? And why is he here anyways? Such a pain in the—"

"Since when did you start talking to yourself?" A voice behind her said.

She quickly spun around and found herself face to face with a spiky-haired guy wearing a familiar, innocent smile.

Park Juno...

Park Juno was her ex-boyfriend. They had been together for almost 70 days. Sadly, Hyeon Jin never really showed interest in their relationship. They never even reached their 100th day as a couple.

As usual, Park Juno's eyes were glinting with mischief. He parked his bike as Hyeon Jin looked around. She didn't realize that she was already inside the school gates while she was so busy mumbling to herself.

As she felt Park Juno's presence behind her again, she closed her eyes tightly, her face flushing. If there was one thing more embarrassing than talking to yourself, it was being caught by your ex-boyfriend while doing it.

She waited for him to say something. Thirty seconds went by. One minute. Another 30 seconds. She could only hear the chattering of the students as they passed her by. When two minutes had passed, she slowly looked over her shoulder.

Park Juno was not there. He had already gone inside the building.

"Really," Hyeon Jin muttered. She started stomping toward the school building, continuing her mutterings under her breath. "Why did I even wait for him to say something? What was I thinking? Damn. I'm such an—" She stopped in mid-mutter, spotting someone. "HEY! Shin Erin!"

A slender girl with wavy golden hair and dark blue eyes waved for Hyeon Jin to come over. She was standing opposite the line of lockers in the hallway, fumbling with her things.

Hyeon Jin halted in front of her, putting her hands on her waist to appear annoyed.

"Have you seen my iPod?" she asked Hyeon Jin without looking at her.

"You lent it to me the other day, twit," Hyeon Jin replied crossly.

"Oh, really? I forgot." She closed her bag and flashed Hyeon Jin a grin.

You would never, not even once, think that they had been best friends since childhood. With just one glance, you'd assume that they belonged in two completely different cliques.

Their common denominator? Bullying.

Shin Erin was quite a remarkable flirt, as Hyeon Jin always pointed out. The evidence? She dated five different guys from the same class, every year, without them knowing.

Hyeon Jin couldn't really tell if they were plain dumb or just playing dumb. After all, it was quite a privilege for them to date the hottest girl in town, even for just a week.

Shin Erin got her gorgeous features from her mother, a former beauty queen. Being half-Italian, Shin Erin had a rather perfect combination of genes, and she had never failed to make someone's head turn—whether it was a boy or a girl. She had been offered a bunch of acting roles since the early age of six.

Hyeon Jin didn’t really mind all the attention that her best friend was getting. There were only two things that she cared about: liberating herself from this pathetic high school as soon as possible and bullying all the weaklings in the world until they developed a backbone. Well, Hyeon Jin wasn't really ugly. It was just that next to Shin Erin, who wore makeup every day and took care to look pretty, Hyeon Jin was nothing more than a plain-looking girl who didn't even use a comb every day.

"I need it back," Shin Erin said in her overly sweet voice.

"'I need it back,' my ass!" Hyeon Jin said. "Why did you tell my dad about Park Juno?!"

Shin Erin curled her brows. "What about him?"

Hyeon Jin scoffed. She didn't really want to say it out loud because she believed that doing so made it official.

"Oh..." Shin Erin said. "Well, he asked me where you were last night. I couldn't really tell him you were off bullying a bunch of geeks, so I just told him a lie." She thought for a while. "Well, half a lie, actually."

"Whatever. I'd still appreciate it if you didn't tell him..." Hyeon Jin mumbled darkly, starting to walk toward the end of the hall where their classroom was.

Shin Erin followed her, finger-combing her hair gracefully, making a group of seniors drool stupidly as they passed by.

"So what happened last night?"

"Don't ask," Hyeon Jin replied shortly.

"Okay," Shin Erin said, nodding but looking unconvinced. "So... what happened?" she asked.

Jin pushed open the door to their classroom just as the bell rang throughout the building. Students immediately went to their respective seats and classrooms. Hyeon Jin studied her best friend, staring into her comically anxious face, which somewhat resembled that of a tabloid reporter waiting for some juicy gossip. She sighed, thinking it would be best if she let out some of the anger and frustration she'd been harboring since last night.

“Get inside, twit. I’ll tell you about it.”

“Ah-ha!” Shin Erin cheered loudly as she entered the room and settled into her seat at the back, with Hyeon Jin in her wake.

•••

Mun Oh yawned widely as he clicked the remote control, surfing the TV channels for a decent program. He was alone in the house. Kim Junjin had already left for work. Mun Oh found out that he was working at a public relations agency. By the looks of it, he could tell that Kim Junjin was not yet the "top" employee in their company. But being the eccentric man that he was, Kim Junjin appeared to be indifferent about it. For him, it was enough that he could bring food to their table three times a day.

Mun Oh was hoping to finish the conversation with his sister as soon as possible. He didn’t want to spend another night in this wretched house. His plans had been thwarted by the fact that Ji Sun also had had to leave for work. She worked as an assistant manager at one of the fast food chicken restaurants in the area. Although Mun Oh argued that he couldn’t see the point of having an “assistant” manager when there was already a manager, Ji Sun heard none of it and told him that their conversation would have to wait until she got back.

Since he didn’t really like the idea of being held up inside the house, much more a human house, he stood up from the couch, turned off the TV, and dragged himself outside, not bothering to change into casual clothes.

Right after jumping over the green picket fence, however, he remembered his sister's admonition just before she had left.

"Whatever happens, don't—and I mean DON'T—leave the house. Especially if you're off to look for a catch," Ji Sun had hurriedly whispered to him that morning while Kim Junjin had gone to get his tie from the bedroom.

Mun Oh made a face but Ji Sun had chosen to ignore it. "Listen here... if you get 'thirsty,' there are two cartons of blood in the refrigerator, disguised as tomato juice," she said, pointing in the direction of the kitchen. "That should be enough for you for the whole day, at least until I come back."

He wanted badly to argue that he did not drink just anyone's blood, he preferred the blood of a particular type of human. He liked to get to know his catch first before sucking its blood; that way, he could be assured of the quality of the blood and the satisfaction that he would get from it.

Unfortunately for him, by the time he had opened his mouth to speak, Kim Junjin was already sprinting toward them, ending their conversation right then and there.

A light blue sedan passed by and turned around the corner just as Mun Oh cast one thoughtful glance at the bungalow beyond the green picket fence.

It's not like I'm gonna go look for a catch... at least, not this early... he thought. I'll just have a little tour around this neighborhood.

With a shrug, Mun Oh started strolling down the lane, taking in every bit of his surroundings like a five-year-old on his first visit to the amusement park. As much as he hated to admit it, he was feeling a bit liberated. It wasn't like his parents or the norms of their ‘society’ had ever succeeded in holding him back from doing something he wanted to do, it was just that, for the first time in his life, he was actually doing something as worthless as strolling through an all-human neighborhood without having someone tell him off for doing so. More to the point, it was a bit relaxing, particularly after the rough night he had had.

Using his keen senses, he familiarized himself with the various kinds of humans living in each house—listening to their voices... sniffing out their fears... feeling their joys. He was quite surprised to find out that the neighborhood was actually small. He went around it twice in less than thirty minutes. Or maybe he was just too fast. Another advantage of being a bloodsucker was his speed and agility. Bloodsuckers could walk and run ten times faster than the average human.

Aside from that, he also discovered that the neighborhood was decent and more peaceful than what he had expected. People seemed to prefer staying inside their houses instead of wandering around or gossiping with their next-door neighbors.

He rounded another corner and saw the wide-open gates leading to the main street outside. Without thinking twice, he followed that path. Within five minutes, he was standing in the middle of a road that separated an empty park from a spacious school.

Could this be... that pesky girl’s school? he thought, a nasty smile spreading across his face.

With a smug look on his face, Mun Oh entered the school gates, passing by the snoozing, pot-bellied guard, and then made his way to the flesh-colored building on the right. He lingered by the enormous oak doors with square glass windows and closed his eyes to "feel out" the place. He could hear the various voices of teachers ranting on and on about random, mundane lessons. Mun Oh concentrated hard and picked out one particular voice, eliminating all the other voices at once. It was the voice of a man, probably in his late thirties, saying something about the early history of Korea involving Japan. His voice exuded dominance, suggesting that he was a well-built man with good posture.

Mun Oh shifted his attention to another voice. This time, it was a 40-year-old-sounding woman talking in a crisp tone about global warming. The third voice, another woman in her early 30’s, was talking lengthily about subject-verb agreement.

He was about to listen to another when he heard a distinctly familiar voice whispering in that English class. He listened intently and soon he was able to make out what the voice was saying. Loud and clear.

"... not even handsome. So don't even bother asking what he looks like. He is what I said he is: a PEST."

Mun Oh gritted his teeth angrily after confirming that it was Hyeon Jin's voice. And she was talking trash about him.

The nerve of that damn human girl!

Another voice whispered back—a sweeter voice.

"I was just curious. I mean, if he is Ji Sun’s younger brother, he can't be that bad looking. His sister's very pretty."

She was quite right. Ji Sun may not be a former beauty queen, but she was beautiful in her own right. With her luscious curves, thick hair, heart-shaped face and mesmerizing eyes, she could easily be mistaken for a celebrity.

"Duh. You've never heard of siblings who don’t look anything alike?" Hyeon Jin countered. "If Ji Sun is Beauty, then that pest is the BEAST."

Mun Oh's eyes popped open in a mixture of surprise and infuriation.

BEAST? Me? A BEAST?!

The other voice giggled. "You're so mean."

"It's true. He has scruffy and smelly hair, disgustingly pockmarked skin, yellow crooked teeth, and his eyes are red. Really. Scary, huh?" Hyeon Jin continued, no longer whispering.

Unable to take it anymore, he kicked the door open and stomped inside, his arms arrogantly folded across his chest. Just then, the four o'clock bell blared throughout the building, followed by the trample of students' feet pounding out of the rooms and pouring into the halls. Mun Oh decided to stop right in the middle of the locker-lined lobby, ignoring the confused and smitten stares thrown his way by passing students. The guys gave him the usual "what-the-hell-is-he-wearing" look of incredulity, while the girls either drooled as they stopped to stare or did a stunned double take.

He hated all the fuss and attention, thinking how pathetic humans actually were. The lobby where he stood was now crammed with students. Some of them were busy with their lockers, but most of them were girls encircling him as they cooed over him and whispered excitedly to each other.

The air was redolent of jealousy, fervent admiration, and confusion as more and more students passed Mun Oh. Some guys clutched their girlfriends tighter and closer upon seeing the magnificent chick magnet that was Mun Oh.

“Oh, my gosh. Who is that gorgeous guy?” a chubby girl in braces exclaimed weakly.

“Look at his eyes, so dark and mysterious!” one petite sophomore yelled excitedly.

“Oh, and check out those thin, kissable lips!” said another.

“Underneath that tux, I bet he’s got a hot body that would put Channing Tatum’s to shame!” a senior said in her sexy voice, winking at a now perplexed Mun Oh.

The young bloodsucker had no idea what these girls were gushing about. Although it sounded like heartwarming compliments, he still did not like the idea of being fawned upon, especially by humans.

Hyeon Jin and Shin Erin were just getting out of their classroom, after bullying one of their classmates to “lend” Hyeon Jin half of his allowance, when they spotted the commotion at the far end of the lobby.

“Wonder what’s happening there…” Shin Erin mumbled, applying some lip gloss.

Hyeon Jin simply rolled her eyes and busied herself with her cell phone.

They were ten steps away from the crowd that had gathered around Mun Oh when he finally saw them. He grinned, causing a few girls right in front of him to shriek, and tried to move toward Hyeon Jin. However, he realized that the girls weren’t just gonna let him go anywhere that easy. Hyeon Jin and Shin Erin were now making their way through the crowd by shoving and nudging anyone who blocked their way, not caring to even glance over at where Mun Oh was—right in the middle of the circle of fan girls.

“Did you see him smile at me? It was so much like Brad Pitt!” one girl up front screamed.

Unable to think of any other way to get out of that damn circle of girls, Mun Oh took in a deep breath and called out to Hyeon Jin.

“Hey, you! Hey!” he hollered at Hyeon Jin. Some of the girls frantically looked behind them, searching for whomever Mun Oh was referring to. Hyeon Jin didn’t seem to hear him, for she and Shin Erin were now almost at the entrance.

His patience running out, the foolish girls around him finally getting on his nerves, he let out a deep and earth-shattering yell.

“HYEON JIN!”

Everyone within the vicinity was left stunned, not moving an inch or even breathing, as though a high-intensity earthquake was felt all throughout the building.

Hyeon Jin slowly turned around, Shin Erin following her lead as Mun Oh took tentative steps toward them. The crowd promptly parted to give way to an irritated Mun Oh, the smiles and smitten looks on the girls’ faces now turned into terrified and dumbstruck expressions. Hyeon Jin almost cursed aloud in surprise as Shin Erin quickly put a hand up to her mouth in shock.

“Are you deaf? I was calling you, you idiot,” Mun Oh yelled at her. Every step he took echoed in the stunned silence.

Luckily, she was able to recover from her astonishment quickly. “What did you say, pest?”

"What seems to be the problem here?" A man's voice said from behind Mun Oh. It was the muscular history teacher from earlier. Mun Oh had been right about him; he was a strong, tough guy. He emerged from the nearest door to their left; the one with the "STAFF ROOM" sign posted on it.

He eyed every single one of them before resting his gaze on a fuming Hyeon Jin.

"Are you wreaking havoc again, Ms. Hyeon Jin?" he asked in a booming voice.

Mun Oh smirked as the crowd exchanged meaningful looks. Hyeon Jin glared at Mun Oh before staring straight into Mr. Muscle's eyes.

"No sir. We were just having fun here," she replied through gritted teeth. She looked around at the gathered crowd. "Right, everyone?" she added in a threatening tone.

Almost everyone, even the guys, fervently nodded at once. Seemingly convinced, Mr. Muscle quietly went back inside.

Shin Erin glared at the crowd. "What are you all waiting for? Get lost! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS, losers!"

There was a collective muttering and the trampling sound of footsteps returned, as if there was an invisible remote control turning up the volume. Most of them carefully avoided the terrifying duo near the huge doors as they made their way out of the building.

The lobby was almost empty, except for the three of them.

"So this is your school, huh?" Mun Oh said, breaking the ice. He looked around with a hint of disgust on his face. "Kinda small and dingy for a school."

"What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be gone by now, pest?" Hyeon Jin snapped, smoke practically coming out of her nose.

Mun Oh stared at her, but then he noticed Shin Erin, who was checking herself out in a small pink mirror, and he diverted his attention to her.

"Hi there, pretty girl," he said suavely.

Shin Erin hastily pocketed the mirror and flashed him her cutest smile.

"Hi!" she answered sweetly.

Hyeon Jin nudged her best friend hard. "Don't 'Hi' him! He's that PEST that I was telling you about!"

Instead of following her best friend's wishes, Shin Erin raised an eyebrow at her. "You told me he was a beast!" she said, her tone accusing. "Well, he is one hell of a sexy beast..." she finished, winking at Mun Oh.

He simply grinned at her and rolled his eyes at Hyeon Jin. He approached them and offered his hand to a blushing Shin Erin.

"Lee Mun Oh," he said in a cavalier tone, looking like one of those 16th century Englishmen as he bent into an elegant half-bow, waiting for Shin Erin's hand.

Shin Erin blushed some more and shyly offered her hand, which Mun Oh carefully received in his before planting a gentle, spine-tingling kiss on it.

The blushing Shin Erin let out a suppressed shriek, while Hyeon Jin did a humorous impression of vomiting.

“Oh! I’m Shin Erin… Nice to meet you,” she said, excitedly caressing the hand that Mun Oh kissed.

“I didn’t realize someone as beautiful as you would be studying in this dingy school,” Mun Oh remarked.

Hyeon Jin stepped in between them, sensing where their conversation was going.

“YOU! You slimy pest! Stay away from my best friend.”

Mun Oh acted surprised, swiftly moving Hyeon Jin’s face out of the way to get a glimpse of a giggling Shin Erin before speaking to her.

“You’re actually best of friends with this… ugly, big footed girl?” he asked incredulously.

They shared a hearty laugh as Hyeon Jin got more and more infuriated by the minute.

“Pest,” she muttered angrily. Without any warning, she stomped hard on Mun Oh’s left foot.

Instead of retaliating, Mun Oh simply snaked his way out of her sight and placed himself in front of Shin Erin. There was something happening inside of him. A familiar tingling sensation that could only mean one thing.

He had found his ideal catch.

His insides churning madly, his blood rising, and his heart pounding in his ears, he leaned closer to an amused Shin Erin. Mun Oh was about to whisper something in her ear when he felt a hand grabbing his hair from behind and pulling him away with incredible force.

“Oww!” he groaned aloud, looking over his shoulder. “What the heck is your problem?”

“You were just about to kiss her, weren’t you, you pervert?”

“Hyeon Jin! Stop it.” This time it was Shin Erin who spoke. She looked annoyed now. She turned to Mun Oh and said, “You have to forgive her. She has no concept of hospitality whatsoever.” She giggled nervously as he played with her hair.

Hyeon Jin mouthed wordlessly as Mun Oh arrogantly placed his arm around Shin Erin’s shoulders and led her out of the building.

“HEY! Where do you think you’re going?” Hyeon Jin yelled after them as she followed them outside.

Mun Oh simply smirked at her. “I’m taking this beautiful lady on a date.”

Hyeon Jin ran after them and blocked their way.

“What? You want to come?” Mun Oh asked irately.

Shin Erin seemed to be entirely hypnotized by the young bloodsucker’s charms, for she appeared to be dazed and not herself as she chuckled sweetly.

“Where are you taking Shin Erin?” she demanded.

“None of your freaking’ business, big foot.”

“But—”

“Move out of the way, Hyeon Jin! We’re going on a date, okay?” Shin Erin said. “Just go home and do something fun by yourself.”

Hyeon Jin bit her lip, admitting defeat. “What the hell? Fine! If that pest does something bad to you, don’t come running to me.” With that, she stormed out the school gates and went her way home.

“So…” Mun Oh said, turning to Shin Erin. “Know of a good place to eat?”

Shin Erin grinned. “Of course! I know a place somewhere private.”

The bloodsucker inside of him was fighting to come out. Mun Oh gulped air to control himself.

Not yet… It’s not yet time… I need her to warm up to me first… Otherwise, it’d be disastrous.

Not long after that, they were walking down a narrow alleyway five blocks from school, toward Hyeon Jin and Shin Erin’s favorite eatery.

•••

A fuming Hyeon Jin was already in front of their house when she admitted to herself that she couldn’t just leave her best friend with that slimy pest. Besides, Kim Junjin and Ji Sun would definitely interrogate her regarding Mun Oh’s whereabouts, so she might as well know what to tell them. Lying would do her no good in this situation.

Leaving her bag and books by the doorstep, she trudged down the street again, trying to think fast of a place where Shin Erin would take that pest. She was just passing the village gates when a particular place flashed before her. She broke into a sprint, 99% sure that Shin Erin and the pest would definitely be in That Place by now. She knew her best friend better than anyone else, and the eatery called "That Place" was their favorite hangout because there was good food and it had a quiet, private atmosphere.

She couldn’t understand why she was doing this, running all the way over there just to fetch that pest. She suddenly thought that perhaps she was indeed worried about him, or both of them, for that matter.

No way! she thought. I’m just gonna let him know that he needs to be home by seven, coz that is Dad’s rule. And I need to make sure Shin Erin is okay.

She was covered in sweat, her hair disheveled, and she was almost out of breath when she finally arrived at the eatery thirty minutes later. That Place was a small el-fresco eatery with a few plastic tables and chairs surrounding the long service table where the all the food was displayed. The great thing about it was that it was well hidden beside an abandoned park that now resembled a mini forest. So you could just take a walk right after eating and discover the beauty of nature right in the middle of a busy district. The owner of That Place never bothered trimming the grass or cutting the trees around their eatery after deciding that it would be a refreshing view for their customers.

Hyeon Jin scanned the eatery, looking for Shin Eric and Mun Oh. Only two tables were occupied; one by a couple in their twenties and the other by three noisy students sharing a plate of rice cakes. She headed toward the far end of the eatery, where a gap big enough to accommodate two people separated two wide oak trees. After squeezing her way in, she hastily searched for Shin Erin and Mun Oh. As she walked a little to her left, past the tree with the tire swing, she heard some strange sounds. Soon enough, she caught sight of the clearing where she and Shin Erin liked to lie down and sleep after a delicious meal at That Place. She could barely hear the sound now, so she stepped closer to the clearing, curious to see if anybody was in there. The sky was now getting darker, so it was difficult for her to see clearly.

She hid herself behind a tree, just in case, and craned her neck to scan the clearing. Somebody moaned. A girl. Hyeon Jin listened intently. It was coming from the right side. She edged closer to it and saw the silhouette of two people, their bodies pressed against each other.

Hyeon Jin felt herself blush. Although it wasn’t the first time she had witnessed some couple doing “something” behind the dark recesses of this park-turned-forest, it was still embarrassing for her to see something like this.

She was just about to turn away and go look for Shin Erin and Mun Oh on the other side when she noticed something. There, on the girl’s right wrist, glistening in the dark was a very familiar silver chain bracelet with a dolphin and star pendant. She inched closer as quietly as she could, her heart pounding loudly as a horrible thought overwhelmed her.

Could this girl be…? she thought, appalled as a follow-up question filled her mind. If it is her… then the guy is… Oh. My. God!

She was now only a couple of feet away from them when she noticed another thing. The girl seemed to be unconscious. And they weren’t kissing at all. Mun Oh seemed to be kissing her…

Neck? she thought, perplexed. But why would he kiss her there?

She waited for another minute or so, letting them finish up, but he was still glued to her neck.

Hyeon Jin averted her eyes, obviously revolted.

Is that how they kiss in Ougaagadougoo? She wondered with a disgusted shiver. Come on… wrap it up… It’s not the end of the world… You could go kiss her neck all you want tomorrow—

She halted in the middle of that thought, sensing that something wasn’t right. There was an otherworldly feel to this scenario. Even though she could only see the side of Mun Oh’s face, she still felt a different aura emanating from him.

Just when she was about to deduce something, Mun Oh finally pulled his head away from Shin Erin’s neck. At that very moment, a split second before he closed his mouth, Jin saw something she should never have seen.

Fangs. Long, sharp, pointed fangs. A pair of them.

A chill swept over Hyeon Jin as her suspicions heightened. She didn’t realize that she was slowly backing away from the clearing, her mouth opened as widely her eyes, appalled.

She made sure that she was out of hearing distance from the clearing before taking in a sharp breath.

“He’s a… He’s a… Mun Oh… The Pest… He’s a…” she muttered under her breath like a crazy girl. “VAMPIRE!” she said excitedly, her eyes gleaming with malice and amazement.





« CHAPTER 4 »




Hyeon Jin walked home, her mind still reeling with images of Mun Oh and his pointy fangs.

She was so preoccupied with these thoughts that she almost collided with their front door. She scratched her head, wondering how the hell she had gotten there. With a shrug, she knocked twice and waited, staring blankly at the door.

During those few crucial seconds, Shin Erin's face suddenly flashed right in front of her eyes, as a sinking thought occurred to her.

"If he's a vampire... and he bit her... then..." She took in a sharp breath as a horrible thought overwhelmed her.

She was... Shin Erin was... DEAD?! She thought frantically, but then scratched her head as another idea came to light.

Or maybe... she turned into a vampire, too!

Feeling an odd mixture of worry and excitement, she turned on her heel. She was just about to run back to check on Shin Erin when someone opened the door.

"You're late. It's past seven," a familiar voice called out.

Hyeon Jin froze on the spot.

That voice...

She spun around and came face-to-face with a bored-looking Mun Oh, who was still wearing his tux.

"YOU!" Hyeon Jin screamed, unable to control herself. She pointed a finger so close to his face that Mun Oh had to jerk his head back. "What did you do to Shin Erin?!"

Mun Oh studied her curiously. "We went on a date. It was fun. Mainly because you didn't come along to spoil it," he answered automatically.

"HA!" Hyeon Jin scoffed at him. "You think I don't know?"

It was Mun Oh's turn to freeze on the spot. A sweat broke on his forehead as he stared at her with mingled astonishment and trepidation.

"I know your secret, pest." Hyeon Jin sneered at him.

Mun Oh tried to contain his astonishment. "I have no idea what you mean by that," he said with a shrug.

"Oh, really?" Hyeon Jin said. "How about biting me... right here?" she said, pointing at her neck.

Mun Oh's jaw dropped, his eyeballs almost popping out of their sockets. For some reason, Hyeon Jin seemed to be taken aback by his reaction. They stared at each other for what seemed like forever until a voice broke the silence.

"Mun Oh? What's taking you so long? Is that Hyeon Jin?" Kim Junjin called out.

In one swift move, Mun Oh grabbed Hyeon Jin by the wrist; within five seconds, they were already three houses away.

"How the hell did you do that?" Hyeon Jin screamed at him, apparently more terrified than surprised.

Mun Oh simply stared at her, unable to think of what to say or do. One thing was for sure, she was NOT lying. She already knew.

But how... how did she find out about it? He thought anxiously. If she saw me biting Shin Erin then I would’ve sensed her presence! Or at least smell her—WAIT! That’s it! She must be bluffing coz I didn’t smell anyone at that time…

He studied her closely. The bloodsucker in him was quite a good lie detector.

Dang. She's not bluffing. Why wasn't I able to smell her earlier? He wondered. Hang on…

He closed his eyes and concentrated.

Nothing…? Why can't I smell this human girl? He thought madly, trying again and again, but to no avail.

Just when he was about to sniff her out again, he felt a hand forcing his mouth open. He opened his eyes, not moving an inch, to find Hyeon Jin examining his mouth with utmost curiosity.

"Whaddayoodooin...?"

"I wanna see your vampire fangs again," Hyeon Jin replied in a curious tone.

Mun Oh slapped her hand away. "What did you say?!"

Hyeon Jin folded her arms across her chest. "You're a vampire, right? So I wanna see your vampire fangs. I've never seen one up close, you know," she explained.

Mun Oh's dark eyes seemed to turn red with fury as he glared at her. "How dare you call me a vampire, you dirty little scumbag!"

Hyeon Jin’s right hand flew right up to his face, delivering a hard smack.

“I’m five months older than you so don’t speak to me that way, you pest,” she said.

Mun Oh appeared to have swallowed his tongue.

“So…” Hyeon Jin went on, rather cheerfully. “Is Shin Erin gonna be all right? Or is she gonna turn into a vampire like you?” She stroked her chin thoughtfully. “She’s not really dead, right? I mean, you might be a pest, but I don't think you're that stupid to kill her when you know she's my best friend. And I don’t really think all that stuff about vampires sucking their victims dry is true at all. So I guess Shin Erin might become one of you, eh?” she babbled on.

Mun Oh stared at her in total disbelief. He had never met anyone who found something like this highly amusing and exciting. She was supposed to at least be terrified, like a normal human. Now Mun Oh was really having doubts about whether she was even normal.

“Oh! If you’re a vampire… then that means Ji Sun is…?” She left her words hanging, observing his reaction.

“I SAID STOP CALLING ME A VAMPIRE! I’M NOT A VAMPIRE!” Mun Oh bellowed, his fist clenched tightly.

“Then WHAT ARE YOU?” Hyeon Jin yelled back.

“I’m a bloodsucker, dammit!”

The words instantly flew out of his mouth.

Hyeon Jin raised an eyebrow.

“A mosquito?”

“Wha—?”

“You said you’re a bloodsucker. Mosquitoes are bloodsuckers,” she explained casually.

“You’re driving me crazy!” Mun Oh said. He sat on the sidewalk and buried his face in his hands—a gesture that he would’ve never done within sight of his fellow bloodsuckers, for it would definitely suggest weakness, or worse, that he was giving up.

Hyeon Jin sat beside him.

“What the heck is a bloodsucker?” she asked. “Are you like a human mosquito?” She giggled.

“This is not a laughing matter! This is serious!” Mun Oh said.

His words made Hyeon Jin double up in laughter some more.

Mun Oh closed his eyes tightly, silently praying for more patience.

This is hopeless. Of all the people who could’ve found out my secret, why must it be this retard? he thought desperately. He had never been THIS desperate before. And I’ve got bigger problems than this! I still need Ji Sun to do the ritual before I can leave this place forever!

“Wait. I was wondering,” Hyeon Jin said after finally containing her laughter. “If Ji Sun is also a bloodsucker, then why didn’t Dad and I notice it before? Hmm… Maybe she’s better at hiding it than you—”

Mun Oh suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders so tightly that she couldn’t move an inch. A fleeting look of terror materialized on her face, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared.

“What? You’re gonna bite me?”

“I’m not gonna bite you. That’s disgusting,” Mun Oh replied flatly. “Besides, I have my taste,” he added with conviction, then tried to establish eye contact with her. “I’m only gonna say this once,” he started in a grave tone. “You can do whatever you want—tease me about it for as long as you like. I don’t care.”

Hyeon Jin raised an eyebrow.

“I know I couldn’t ask you to keep quiet about this, seeing what a blabbermouth you are. Just… my sister, she’s technically not a bloodsucker anymore… so for the sake of your relationship with her…” He took a moment before saying the last few words. “Leave her out of this.”

Mun Oh stared into her eyes some more, hoping to let her see the sincerity in his words.

“Is that it?” Hyeon Jin asked after a while.

Mun Oh stared at her. “What do you mean, 'is that it'?! I actually talked to you seriously for a minute when I don’t even like you! And all you have to say is 'IS THAT IT'?!"

“Could you let go now? You’re kinda crushing my shoulder blades,” Hyeon Jin replied calmly.

Mun Oh blinked and slowly released her. He then stood up.

“I do hope we’re clear about that,” he said.

Hyeon Jin stood up, too.

“About what?” she asked innocently.

Mun Oh hit his face with his palm. “I said, I hope that tiny little thing inside your head that you call a brain was able to process all the information I just told you, dimwit.”

Hyeon Jin gave him a wry smile. She just loved teasing this guy. He wasn’t so cold after all, and he sure had a sentimental and soft side, too.

“Sure,” she said with a shrug.

Mun Oh started to walk back to the house.

“I’ll be gone in a matter of days and Shin Erin’s gonna be fine, so no one really needs to know about this, understand?”

Hyeon Jin caught up to him. “But Shin Erin also knows—”

“No, she doesn’t,” Mun Oh instantly replied. “We have the ability to modify the memory of our catch.”

“Then why don’t you just bite me?”

Mun Oh stopped walking and stared at her in mixed incredulity and disgust.

“I thought I just told you that I have a certain TASTE. You actually think I just go off biting anyone I meet?! You think I’ll just bite a big-footed retard like you or some random bum on the street? You’re crazy.”

Hyeon Jin stepped right in front of him. “Okay, you know what? You really need to do something about your attitude.”

“What?”

“You see, you are in no position at all to order me around and act like the arrogant pest that you are, since you’re the one who is making a deal with me.”

Mun Oh appeared confused. “A deal?”

“Deal—you know, when two people settle something—”

“Hey, I know what it means!” Mun Oh snapped.

“Good. Well then, I have three conditions before I agree to this deal.”

“Three?”

“Yeah, you know, the number right after two and before—”

“FINE! Just say them already,” Mun Oh roared at her.

Hyeon Jin smiled sheepishly. “First,” she said, holding up her index finger, “no more name-calling whatsoever, and you watch your mouth whenever you talk to me, okay?”

“You gotta be kidding—”

“SECOND,” Hyeon Jin continued loudly, ignoring his reaction. “You can’t say NO to me. Just do whatever I want you to do and your secret is 100% safe with me. And THIRD… try to stay as FAR away from me as possible. I can’t stand being around you all the time,” she finished, slightly irritated.

Mun Oh burst out laughing. “First of all, there is no way I could stop with the name calling. Can’t you tell I’m having fun doing that? Second, I’m NOT gonna be your slave. You can kill me before that happens. And third, WHO THE HELL TOLD YOU THAT THIS IS A DEAL? I was merely telling you not to expose my sister, that’s all.”

“If this is not a deal, then it’s NOTHING,” Hyeon Jin threatened, starting to walk away.

“Wait.”

Hyeon Jin glanced at him over her shoulder. “Yes…?”

A heated debate was taking place inside his head, driving him nuts. Should he take this deal or not? He never made deals with humans. Actually, he never made deals with ANYONE at all, even with his fellow bloodsuckers.

Hyeon Jin looked like a five-year-old who just got her first taste of ice cream. She was truly enjoying this moment.

I won’t acquiesce to the demands of a measly human… Mun Oh thought grudgingly. That would make me less of a bloodsucker… NO FREAKING WAY.

He was just about to open his mouth to say NO when he realized something.

But if I let her roam around freely with her big mouth and her big feet, she will definitely get Ji Sun in trouble, too. I’m in enough trouble as it is by not biting her immediately to modify her memory.

Hyeon Jin was now giggling uncontrollably, as if Mun Oh’s indecisiveness was the funniest thing in the world.

Mun Oh stared blankly at her.

What an idiot… he thought, shaking his head. I’m not gonna make a deal with this retard. To hell with that secret; no one would believe her anyway.

He started to walk past her, quite arrogantly.

“HEY! Where are you going? What about our—” Hyeon Jin hollered in surprise.

“I ain’t dealing with you. No way. Do whatever you want with that secret. Just remember that it’s not only MY secret… it’s also Ji Sun’s secret. It’s on your conscience,” he replied without looking at her, making sure to emphasize the last few words.

Hyeon Jin had nothing to say to that, but in the deepest and darkest recesses of her mind, an evil plan was slowly unfolding.

•••

Mun Oh opened his eyes. The sunlight coming in from the wide-open windows was burning his forehead as he lay stiffly on the couch.

He sat up and looked around, confused as to why the windows all around the living room were wide open. Then he saw her. Standing there, with a curious look on her face, at the left side of the living room and near the biggest window, was Hyeon Jin. She was gazing at him as though he was some kind of science specimen inside a glass cage. Mun Oh composed himself before getting to his feet.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked her.

Hyeon Jin shrugged and started walking toward him. “I was just testing whether you’d get scorched by the sun. Vampires often do. But there’s this one vampire, his name is Blade; well, he’s a vampire and a vampire hunter at the same time. They call him day-walker or something like that, coz he’s the only one who can withstand the sun, and—”

Without warning, Mun Oh threw the first thing that he touched toward her: the remote control. She probably played dodgeball, for she swiftly moved out of the way to avoid the surprise attack, watching the remote control soar past the open window and land outside.

“Vampire reflexes, huh?” she said, continuing to badger him. The tone she was using was infuriatingly flat and matter-of-fact, as if she was explaining some kind of mathematical equation.

“Why, you—!”

“Morning… you two are up early,” Ji Sun said, coming out from their room, still in her pajamas.

“We were just… umm… I mean, I was just…” Mun Oh stuttered.

“We were playing catch, using the remote control,” Hyeon Jin explained, still using that annoying tone.

Ji Sun studied them.

“I’ll cook breakfast!" said Hyeon enthusiastically. "How about garlic rice? Or toasted bread with lots of garlic in it? Ooohhh… I love garlic! And some onion rings perhaps?”

“What’s with the garlic mania? I thought you don’t like garlic and onions,” Ji Sun inquired, raising an eyebrow.

Drops of sweat were forming on Mun Oh’s forehead as he gritted his teeth.

“Well, it’s never too late to like something that might be useful to you someday. I mean, garlic is known to be—”

“I’LL COOK IT!” Mun Oh blurted out, raising his hand and grabbing Hyeon Jin by the elbow. “You help me cook, all right?” he said through gritted teeth, dragging her to the kitchen.

Kim Junjin found a confused Ji Sun observing Mun Oh and Hyeon Jin as they moved about in the kitchen. He placed his arm around her.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“There’s something really weird about those two,” she explained without taking her eyes off them.

“Weird? How so?”

“Last night, they were so freaking quiet all throughout dinner. They never said a word to each other. And they didn’t bicker regarding the bedroom-sharing thing; it’s like they had this silent agreement or something. And now, they’re cooking breakfast together.” She made a face as the smell of garlic filled the kitchen. “And it’s full of garlic.”

“You like garlic,” Kim Junjin said nonchalantly, savoring the smell.

“That’s not the point,” Ji Sun replied, irritated. “I know my brother. He couldn’t have befriended Hyeon Jin even if you paid him. That’s what makes them so similar. If they don’t like someone from the start, it stays that way unless a miracle happens.”

“Maybe they don’t want to worry us anymore with their bickering. Don’t worry; I know my daughter, too, and she seemed happy to have Mun Oh around. She just doesn’t really know how to express her feelings properly,” Kim Junjin assured her.

After almost ten minutes, the four of them were already sitting at the dining table, staring at the food the young ones had prepared.

Kim Junjin decided to make the first move. He reached for the omelet with garlic, tomatoes and onions inside, placed some on his plate, and then put a piece in his mouth.

“I didn’t know you could cook!” he said to Mun Oh.

“I learned it from my sister. It’s our favorite dish,” he replied, glancing at Hyeon Jin.

Hyeon Jin rolled her eyes and stood up. She didn't really eat garlic and onions; she was just trying to expose Mun Oh. Sadly, her clever plan failed. Now she had to think of another way to make him come out of the closet, or coffin, rather.

“What’s up?” Kim Junjin asked her.

“I just remembered that I have to meet up with Shin Erin today. We need to study for the finals,” she said, inching away from the table.

“How about having breakfast first?” Ji Sun offered, taking a sip of her coffee.

Hyeon Jin smiled. “You know what they say: when you cook something, you lost your appetite for it.”

“You mean LOSE, not LOST,” Mun Oh corrected, quite loudly.

“Shut up, mosquito,” she snapped.

“Be sure to be here before 7 PM, okay? It’s Saturday,” Kim Junjin reminded her, going back to his second helping of garlic toast.

“Yeah, sure.” She headed outside, cooking up another devious plan to pester the ‘mosquito.’

•••

An hour and a half later, she was leaving a video-and-book rental shop just around the corner from That Place, with a bag full of borrowed DVDs in one hand and another bag of pocket books and novels in the other hand. Since this was her last stop, she decided to linger for a while and drop by That Place. Ten minutes ago, she was relieved when Shin Erin replied to her message saying she was okay. Maybe Mun Oh had modified her memory, Hyeon Jin thought.

She arrived at That Place and ordered the usual: a platter of sweet and spicy rice cakes and some soda. She got so damn hungry after refusing to eat that horrible garlic-themed breakfast. After devouring her late breakfast, she went on her way home.

Back at home, Mun Oh was finding the right time to talk to his sister without Kim Junjin in the picture, but it almost seemed impossible. The two were inseparable! They did the dishes together, showered together and even took the garbage out together. Now, they sat in front of the television set in the living room, snuggling close to each other.

Mun Oh irritably looked at them. They were laughing aloud like there was no tomorrow as they watched X-Men. He had no idea how they could find something as crappy as that hilarious. Although he was feeling irritated and disappointed at seeing his sister transform into a fully-fledged human, he couldn’t help feeling a bit happy for her. He had never seen her so happy before.

“Wait! Pause right there. I need to take a little detour,” Kim Junjin suddenly said, standing up from the couch and running to the bathroom.

Mun Oh took the chance to sit beside his sister and talk to her about the ritual.

“Ji Sun, we need to continue our talk,” he began to say.

Ji Sun glanced at her. “Talk?”

“What’s with this family and memory gap?” Mun Oh grumbled. “The Ritual of Renunciation! I need you to do it now. I can’t stand being here another second!”

Ji Sun nodded slowly. “Oh, that…”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘Oh, that’? I’m going crazy here and that’s all you have to say?!”

He stood up and crossed his arms furiously. Ji Sun was about to say something when the door opened with a bang and a jovial-looking Hyeon Jin came in, humming to herself.

“Ugh. Nice timing,” Mun Oh muttered under his breath. Kim Junjin returned from the bathroom and sat beside Ji Sun again.

“You’re back early,” Kim Junjin remarked.

“I have something here,” she said excitedly, placing all the stuff she had borrowed on top of the coffee table.

One by one, she took out the DVDs and books and then carefully displayed them on the table. Kim Junjin scratched his head, and Ji Sun raised an eyebrow while Mun Oh slightly bent his body to get a closer look.

“What are all these for?” Kim Junjin inquired, still scratching his head.

“Just take a look for yourself,” Hyeon Jin replied with a wink.

The three of them, except for Hyeon Jin, moved closer to the table, kneeling in front of it. They all grabbed different things at once and studied them.

Kim Junjin was holding a DVD of the old movie “Interview with the Vampire” in his right hand and the "Queen of the Damned” movie in his other hand. He still had no idea what it was about.

Ji Sun stared at the book “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike along with Anne Rice’s best-selling novel, “The Vampire Lestat.” Her face was unfathomable, as if she was trying to ward off a scary thought.

Mun Oh’s hands were shaking as he held a DVD collection of all the “Blade” movies.

Hyeon Jin joined them, savoring the moment of confusion and tension. “You like it? I call it our little 'vampire marathon,'” she said animatedly.

“Huh?” Kim Junjin and Ji Sun blurted out at the same time.

Hyeon Jin turned to face a shaking Mun Oh. His expression was dark and sinister as he dropped the DVD with a clatter.

“What do you think, Mun Oh?” Hyeon Jin asked sweetly.

Mun Oh glanced at his sister, who looked horrified as she suddenly realized what was going on, and then cast a death glare at Hyeon Jin. He was bursting with fury, disgust, and extreme hatred for this girl, but he knew that opening his mouth might make him say things he would regret later.

And so it appeared that Hyeon Jin had won this round.





« CHAPTER 5 »




The next few days had been nothing but a blur of endless jeers, teases and relentless attacks by Hyeon Jin. She never let a second pass without mocking or pestering Mun Oh with her “vampire jokes,” and even going so far as calling Mun Oh a vampire in front of everyone while they were having dinner.

Mun Oh, on the other hand, was reaching his limit, as he carefully avoided a deadly confrontation with his sister. Inside his head, a heated debate was seriously going on. One side said: just bite her and get it over with, while the other, which was powered by his ego, strongly advised him against it. He had never been in a tight spot like this before; everything usually worked out fine for him. It was as if some invisible hand had dumped a bucketful of shitty misfortune over his head ever since he had arrived.

Unable to endure her curiosity anymore, Ji Sun cornered her younger brother minutes before she left for work with Kim Junjin. She took the opportunity after getting Kim Junjin to change his tie, which would take about five minutes.

“What?” Mun Oh snapped at her as he lazily sat in the couch.

“Don’t ‘what’ me, you twerp!” she snapped back, placing her hands on her waist. “When did she find out? HOW did she find out?”

Mun Oh sat up straight. He knew his sister wasn’t that stupid. But he didn’t really wanna admit that he had been caught in the act, especially by that retard Hyeon Jin.

“I don’t know how she found out. I was just as surprised as you were,” he said. It wasn’t a complete lie. He really had been surprised that she found out about it.

“You know the rules, right? You know you couldn’t just let her run around freely with our—your secret…”

“Are you telling me to bite her? That’s ridiculous. I don’t even like her,” Mun Oh replied with revulsion.

“Since when did it become a rule that you have to like someone to bite them?”

“That’s MY rule. Besides, I wouldn’t want to have even a drop of her blood inside my system,” he added with a shudder.

“You’re right. I couldn’t just let you bite her. It’s not right. I mean, it IS the right thing to do in our world. But here… it just doesn’t seem right. She’s as good as my daughter now. I couldn’t betray her.”

Ji Sun covered her face with her hands in confusion and exasperation. Mun Oh felt sort of sorry that she had to be dragged into this. What should’ve been a peaceful and uneventful reunion between him and his sister had turned out to be a disaster, thanks to that big-footed girl.

“I’ll fix this up in no time. Don’t worry,” Mun Oh assured her, standing up.

“No. I don’t want you to do anything to her. Just… let me handle this,” Ji Sun said frantically. “I’ll talk to her and explain everything.”

“I already did that. Why do you think she never told her father? She might despise me and everything, but she still respects you.”

Ji Sun gave him a wan smile. “But,” she said as she stared at him with those round eyes, “you still have to bite her eventually. You are aware of that.”

Mun Oh sighed. “Yeah. I guess so… Look, I’m sorry for causing you all this trouble—”

“What trouble?” a third voice interrupted. The two of them spun around and found a confused Kim Junjin straightening his shirt.

“Oh! You’re here! That was before… We were talking about our past—you know how troublesome he was when we were younger… and… oh! We’re gonna be late! Let’s go,” Ji Sun said, hurriedly dragging Kim Junjin out of the house before he could utter another word.

She gave Mun Oh a meaningful glare before closing the door, which probably meant behave yourself, don’t do anything stupid and we’ll talk later.

But Mun Oh was already thinking of a wily plan, something to get back at Hyeon Jin for all the humiliation she had caused him.

He had learned from his father that when you wanted a sure victory, you had to find out your opponent’s weakness and attack it relentlessly. Without changing into normal human clothes, he went out of the house with a devious smile on his face.

•••

On Shin Erin's neck were two tiny, almost inconspicuous holes, which could've been nothing but moles. But Hyeon Jin knew better. She was well aware that those weren't just moles on her best friend's neck. Those were bite marks from that vampire, Mun Oh.

She had tried to squeeze information from Shin Erin regarding that night. To her dismay and surprise, Mun Oh wasn't lying about the whole memory modification thing. It seemed like he’d pressed an invisible delete button inside her head, removing every single memory Shin Erin had of him. When Hyeon Jin attempted to refresh her memory and convince her that she'd been bitten, she called her a lunatic. End of story.

The bell rang, finally ending another miserable and boring history class. Hyeon Jin quickly placed her empty history notebook back in her bag and followed Shin Erin out of the room.

"Are you sure you don't remember anything at all?" she asked, catching up to her.

"What is wrong with you? Are you on crack or something? For the hundredth time: I have no idea what you're talking about!" Shin Erin said, stopping in front of her locker.

"Maybe you have to see him. Come with me to the house! Once you see him again, you'll definitely remember everything," Hyeon Jin said breathlessly, like a crazy fan girl talking about her obsession.

Shin Erin shook her head and sighed heavily. It was so unusual, even for someone like her, to see Hyeon Jin like this. It was as if she had totally lost it or something. Since she really had nothing much to do that afternoon, she decided to give in to Hyeon Jin's demand.

They heard loud noises when they arrived at Hyeon Jin’s house. There seemed to be a commotion inside.

"Is there a party or something?" Shin Erin asked, hesitating at the door. Hyeon Jin gave her a slight shrug as she pushed the door open.

"Of course!" Kim Junjin screamed, followed by a chorus of laughter from the other three people in the living room.

"You snore louder than me!" Kim Junjin went on merrily. Nobody seemed to have noticed the two girls' arrival.

"Of—" Ji Sun started to say, but thought better of it. She then stared daggers at a chuckling Kim Junjin. "Excuse me! I do not snore louder than you!"

Another round of boisterous laughter as Ji Sun tried to explain herself.

Shin Erin glanced sideways at a stupefied Hyeon Jin. Following her stare, Shin Erin instantly realized why she looked as though she was being forced to eat something nasty. Aside from Kim Junjin and Ji Sun, two other guys were in the scenario. One was laughing his head off while the other was simply smirking handsomely. Shin Erin recognized the one laughing as Park Juno. Hyeon Jin's ex-boyfriend. The other one, though, was completely unfamiliar to her.

Unable to stand her curiosity anymore, she cleared her throat quite loudly. The noise ceased at once. All eyes were on her. A bit shy, she slowly pointed a finger at Hyeon Jin, who was right next to her.

"Oh, you're home!" Kim Junjin said, breaking the silence. "And this pretty young lady is... Er..." he paused. "Shin Erica?"

"It's Shin Erin," she corrected with a giggle.

"I knew that," Kim Junjin replied, quite embarrassed. "Come and join us. We're having an 'Of Course' game here."

"Tch," Hyeon Jin scoffed, kicking her shoes off. Neither Park Juno nor Mun Oh had taken their gaze off her.

"Don't 'tch' me, young lady. You're next. Let me just finish off Ji Sun."

Ji Sun made a face before saying she was out, declaring Kim Junjin as the winner. Kim Junjin eyed a humiliated Hyeon Jin and motioned for her to join him in the middle of the room.

"Dad, I'm not playing this stupid game anymore... especially with these people around," Hyeon Jin stated, quite irritated. "And why the hell is he in here?" she added, glancing at Park Juno, who was still looking at her.

"Mun Oh invited him over. I don't see anything wrong with that," Kim Junjin said nonchalantly.

WHAT? Since when did they become friends? Is this a joke? Hyeon Jin thought angrily.

Hyeon Jin gave her father a death glare, but he was too busy rolling with laughter to notice. She motioned for Shin Erin to come with her as she walked away from the living room. But before she could totally escape, Mun Oh spoke in his deep and suave voice.

"Maybe she's afraid that I'll beat her ass this game; that's why she's running away."

Okay, he did not just say that, Hyeon Jin thought, turning to look at him. The ‘Of Course’ game was a game of wits, popularized by a variety show on TV. It involved insults, sarcasm and lies. Whoever got sour and pissed off first lost.

Mun Oh simply shrugged and flashed a teasing smile.

"Listen, you pest. I'm the QUEEN of this game. No one beats me here. So you better take back what you said," Hyeon Jin threatened.

Mun Oh stood up. "I ain't taking back anything, big feet."

Hyeon Jin strolled back to the middle of the room and halted, inches away from a smug Mun Oh. Shin Erin went to sit on one of the couches, looking excited, along with Park Juno and Kim Junjin. The only one who looked somewhat concerned was Ji Sun.

"You ready, big feet?" Mun Oh said.

"Whatever, bloodsucker," Hyeon Jin mumbled before she could stop herself. Ji Sun choked but Mun Oh simply smirked.

"Hyeon Jin, no swearing in my house," Kim Junjin said after a while.

Hyeon Jin turned to look at him. "I wasn't swearing, I said bloods—"

"Stop. I said no swearing."

"Fine!”

"Let's get this over with," Mun Oh interrupted. "I'll start." He moved his head left and right, quite smugly before continuing. "I heard that this guy right here," he glanced at Park Juno, "dumped you."

Shin Erin chuckled but was instantly quelled by one death glare from Hyeon Jin. Kim Junjin and Ji Sun looked as if they were deliberating whether it was advisable to laugh. Park Juno simply gave a wan smile.

What the—! Hyeon Jin thought angrily. She was on the verge of exploding. Who the hell told him about that? Goddammit. Okay, get a grip. It's only a game. Just beat him and get it over with.

"Of course," she said in an exaggerated loud voice. "Pfsssh. It's only a game, anyway."

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that," Mun Oh jeered. "You know the reason why he dumped you?"

Could you lay off the whole dumping thing? HE DID NOT DUMP ME, OKAY? It was a mutual decision! Hyeon Jin wanted to scream in his face.

"O-Of course..." she said in weaker tone now. Actually, she had no idea why.

"Coz you're a mean bully and you're such a bad kisser."

Kim Junjin and Shin Erin burst out laughing. Ji Sun chuckled lightly. Park Juno shook his head, smiling widely.

Hyeon Jin was livid with fury, but she couldn't just give up yet. Not after getting humiliated in front of Park Juno.

"Of course," she said in a deadly tone. The whole room went silent at once. Everyone thought she was gonna forfeit already. No freaking way. She flashed a foreboding smile at Mun Oh.

"Whenever you wake up late, you don't take a shower before going to school," Mun Oh continued.

"What?" Park Juno blurted out, chuckling.

"Of course!" Hyeon Jin screamed. It was true.

"Really?" Shin Erin piped in.

"Shut up," Hyeon Jin snapped at her. "You don't eat garlic coz you're a vampire, a bloodsucker vampire!" she said to Mun Oh, quite madly.

"Tch. Of course. I could eat garlic in front of you right now, if it makes you happy," Mun Oh replied nonchalantly. "You'd do anything just to get back together with Park Juno coz you're still madly in love with him."

Silence. Awkward silence.

"And that's a FACT," Mun Oh added with a smirk.

It's only a game... It's only a game... Shit! How the hell could he know something like that? Hyeon Jin thought desperately. What is he, a mind-reader?

She managed to smile nervously. "It's... it's only a game, right? I mean..." She looked around. All eyes were on her. They all looked dead serious. "I mean, whatever I say... it's just... you know... it's a freaking game! Haha... umm, right..." she stuttered stupidly.

"5... 4... 3..." Junjin started counting quietly.

"Wait... Don't count..."

"2... 2 and a half..."

"Argh! Of… course!” she muttered furiously.

"Oh..." Kim Junjin, Shin Erin and Ji Sun said at the same time.

"What do you mean by 'oh?!'" Hyeon Jin snapped at them, crossing her arms.

There was collective laughter. Even Park Juno laughed.

Damn. This is stupid. Hyeon Jin thought.

"Okay, that's enough for now. Mun Oh won this round. Let's eat! I think the baked macaroni's ready," Kim Junjin said, walking to the kitchen. Ji Sun quickly followed him.

Hyeon Jin collapsed on the nearest couch, but immediately jumped up, tripped on her own foot and landed flat on her face on the carpet. Park Juno was still sitting on the same couch, fumbling with his cell phone.

"What are you doing there?" Park Juno asked indifferently, not looking at her.

"Nothing..." Hyeon Jin breathed out, struggling to get to her feet. Dammit! That was so embarrassing! She could feel her face flush. "What..." She cleared her throat. “What are YOU doing here? I mean, how come you know that pest— Mun Oh?"

"He was looking for you in school."

"And…?"

Park Juno glanced at her, getting to his feet as well. "He said he was your cousin or something... So I brought him here. Well, I think he invited me here. Something like that." He started to walk towards the kitchen.

"I... what I said in the game..." Hyeon Jin suddenly said, making Park Juno stop in his tracks.

She sighed but never continued. "I know..." Park Juno said over his shoulder and went on his way, leaving a confused Hyeon Jin in the living room.

He knows? What the hell does he know? She thought, staring at his back. She recalled their short-lived relationship, thinking about how different she was when they were together. She was a better person. Still a bully, but a better person. Park Juno was the only one who truly understood her. He was the only one who accepted her and made her feel happy. That’s why he was the only one who knew the reason behind her bullying.





« CHAPTER 6 »




"Our 100th day anniversary is coming... you have any plans?" Park Juno asked from out of the blue.

"Oh, really? Well, yeah... sure..." Hyeon Jin replied, doodling on a tissue absentmindedly.

"You mind telling me?"

Hyeon Jin looked up. "Huh?"

Park Juno shifted in his seat. "Perhaps you'd like to have dinner in the mountains at midnigh