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That Dog, Young Jae
 

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That Dog, Young Jae
That Dog, Young Jae

  By

  Suilan Lee

  That Dog, Young Jae

  Copyright © 2012 by Suilan Lee

  Edited November 2014

  Cover Art by Liang Woo

  Chapter One

  Jun Min Ho ran along the street weaving through a thick pedestrian crowd. He jumped over a suitcase and grinned when the owner yelled at him but he didn’t stop. Behind him, three men in black suits ran after him. Min marveled at the extremes he had to go through to enjoy a couple of hours with his friends as he crossed a traffic-ridden street.

  When he got across, Min adjusted the straps of the bag at his back. He pulled off the reading glasses he was wearing and threw them into a trashcan. Hair swept into his eyes, and he pushed it back with impatient fingers. He risked a glance behind him and was glad when he couldn’t see the suits anymore. A quick glance at his watch told him he was late. His cell phone buzzed and he answered it.

  “Jihu, I’m a block away.”

  “Why did you choose this place? We’re stuck in traffic.”

  “I just crossed the scramble.” Min looked at the cars on the street hoping to see a familiar car. “Which car are you using?”

  “Don’t move. I see you,” Jihu said.

  A customized blue Mazda swung into the curb and he smiled. The driver’s side window came down and he grinned at the sight of Jihu’s scowling face.

  “Get in. I have to fight my way back into this awful mess,” Jihu ordered clearly frustrated with traffic.

  The back passenger door swung open, and Kaori, his childhood friend grinned at him.

  “Hurry up, Min,” she said.

  Min slid into the backseat beside Kaori and shut the door just as traffic surged into motion.

  Jihu managed to maneuver into the line of traffic.

  Min pulled off the bag from his back and dumped it on the floor with a relieved sigh.

  “What are you wearing?” Jihu teased, looking at him through the rearview mirror, his tone sympathetic. “Are we pulling you out of a board meeting?”

  “A gallery opening,” Min complained.

  Min pulled off his bowtie and unbuttoned the first three buttons of his pristine white shirt. He took off the suit jacket and dumped it on his lap. Kaori touched his shoulder and held out a handkerchief. He took it with a smile and used it to wipe his sweaty forehead.

  “Hi gal, you look hot.”

  “You’re late.” Kaori accused without heat, her cat eyes smiling at him. “I thought you were going to miss the party of the month again.”

  She reached for the bag at his feet and opened it. “You need to change. They won’t let you into the club wearing that suit. Why were you at a gallery opening so early?”

  “It’s because he’s a puppet,” Shin Haewon said moodily from the front passenger seat.

  Min glanced up to meet angry dark chocolate eyes in the rear view mirror.

  “Shouldn’t you learn to make your own decisions, Min?” Shin asked with a raised brow.

  Min looked away and started unbuttoning the rest of his shirt.

  Shin didn’t need an explanation. They’d been over this a million times. Min couldn’t cast off the responsibilities that came with his birthright easily. He’d tried and failed. His father had instead employed a set of bodyguards to monitor his every move. He couldn’t even go to the bathroom without them knowing.

  His father, Kang Jun, was a successful businessman and a politician. Being Kang’s only son and heir, Min’s life was decided the moment he took his first breath. His destiny was to head Hanje Group and he could do nothing to change that.

  Min sighed, his shoulders slumping.

  “I’m sorry I brought it up.” Shin’s apologetic tone made him look up to find those dark eyes watching him.

  “I don’t care what you think, Shin,” Min said.

  Why couldn’t Shin ever understand his life?

  Maybe it was because their families were so different. At twenty- five, Shin lived in his own apartment and ran an IT company funded by his father. Shin was pursuing what he wanted to do, his dream. They’d dated a few years ago, but Min’s strict life had pulled them apart. Shin couldn’t understand why Min had to live with full daily schedules.

  Frustrated by Shin’s attitude, Min pulled off his shirt and smiled in satisfaction when Shin’s gaze fell on his washboard abs. At least that never changed between them. Shin always wanted him.

  “You’re staring.” Min pointed out with a smirk.

  “Who’s looking?” Shin counted, his gaze slid away to stare out the window.

  Min didn’t miss the small smile playing on Shin’s lips.

  Jihu shook his head at their conversation as he geared the car.

  Min pulled on a black slim-fit shirt. Kaori folded his white dress shirt and the suit jacket. She handed him the black jeans she’d pulled out of the bag. Once he dressed, Min put his cell phone and the clothes he’d removed into the bag. His father’s security team loved to put tracking chips in his clothes. He made Jihu stop by a trashcan to dump the bag.

  “The suits will be looking for me.” Min explained when Shin looked at him with concern.

  “Those cell phone companies should thank you. You’re helping their business along by yourself.”

  “What’s with you today? I’ve already had enough getting away from those stupid goons my father insists I need.”

  “Can we have the lover’s spat later?” Jihu said turning the car toward Yonsei University. “Shin, will you tell him what those seniors said yesterday.”

  “We have to stop at Yonsei main campus. My friend will give us the location details about the rave,” Shin said.

  “You mean we don’t even know where we’re going?” Min asked rolling his eyes. “I don’t know why you are mad at me, Shin. Is it because I couldn’t get away sooner? You know I’m not as free as you are. Just getting out the door is such a big deal.”

  “That’s not the problem. Why do you insist on doing it alone?” Shin turned in his seat to face Min, his dark wavy hair falling over his forehead.

  “You would have gotten hurt getting involved with those men.” Min said, remembering the last time he’d let Shin help him. His bodyguards had treated Shin like a terrorist. Shin hadn’t been able to hold back his anger and he’d ended up fighting with them.

  “Shin, don’t yell anymore otherwise my efforts will have been wasted if we’re all angry,” Min begged.

  “Shin,” Jihu said moving his right hand from the steering wheel to touch Shin’s shoulder. “Settle down, I’m getting nervous trying to drive while you two bicker.”

  Shin sighed and with one last glance at Min, he turned around to stare out the window.

  Min cleared his throat and tried for a lighter mood. He turned to Kaori with a smile. “I haven’t seen you guys in three weeks. What have you been up to?”

  Kaori grabbed on to the change of topic. “Yesterday, we went for a fashion show at my mother’s gallery. You should have seen these two going crazy over the models. Seriously, men are all the same.”

  Jihu accelerated the car. “What was I supposed to do when they were throwing themselves at me?”

  Min laughed. Jihu was a ladies’ man all the way. They’d known each other since kindergarten and it never changed. Jihu was the mood setter in their group, always ready to take action no matter the situation. He was the reliable friend always waiting with the getaway car.

  Min found his gaze straying back to Shin as Kaori continued to talk about the fashion show the night before. Shin loved casual clothing. He didn’t allow many people close, the shaggy hair and the perpetual cold expression warned people away. Despite the cold att
itude, Shin had a soft heart hidden behind all the hardness. Where Jihu was the mood setter, Shin was the problem solver. Shin could take on everything if allowed.

  “Is your dad out of town?” Kaori asked Min. “We need to be careful if he isn’t. I’m sure that henchman who is always following him will come to fetch you.”

  “Dad left yesterday morning,” Min assured her.

  Kaori was the daughter of a fashion designer mother and an artist father. Her bright personality appealed her to everyone she met. He thought of her as a sister since they were the same age. They shopped, discussed boys, and fought over them. He smiled at that thought. Kaori had been the first person to find out he was gay. She’d gotten him through his coming out phase. It was unimaginable how much he depended on Kaori’s free spirited nature.

  “Can I sleep over your house tonight?” he asked.

  “Well,” Kaori said, her gaze dropping to her lap.

  “Do you have a date?” Min asked in excitement. “Who is he? Do I know him?”

  “No, it’s—,” Kaori started then stopped.

  “We’re all sleeping over at Shin’s tonight,” Jihu said. “My parents are home, and Kaori’s parents have weeklong visitors. We figured Shin’s house is more convenient.”

  Min glanced at Shin puzzled by the answer. He couldn’t help wondering why everyone seemed so anxious. Kaori’s nervous glance made him think something was wrong. He hadn’t seen them in three weeks. He hated feeling as if he was an outsider when he loved them all so much.

  ***

  “Sir, we lost him.”

  A solemn faced man with short dark hair and average height informed Young Jae. The bodyguard kept his head bowed as he addressed him.

  “I’m sorry, sir. We did the best we could.”

  “By saying him, I assume you’re talking about Jun Min Ho.”

  Young Jae spoke in a flat tone, not bothering to stop typing away on his laptop.

  It had been an especially long day. Mr. Kang was due back home in the morning. Young Jae needed to finish the three proposals he was working on before the man returned. Their schedule was tight because Mr. Kang had insisted on making time for his son later in the day.

  A son that was now missing in action, Young Jae sighed.

  If Min Ho was still missing in the morning, the explanations were going to be very difficult. Just thinking about that brat made his temper rise. What was Min thinking running around the darned city like this?

  “What time did he go missing?” Young Jae asked.

  “It was around three o’clock this afternoon, sir.”

  Young Jae glanced at his watch casually. He got to his feet when he saw the time. It was already ten o’clock at night.

  “Why didn’t anyone say anything? Do you even have a clue as to where he is?”

  “The last time we saw him, he was running down Rodeo Street. We lost him in the crowd and haven’t been able to figure out where he went.”

  “He could be anywhere by now.” Young Jae closed his laptop and moved around his desk to stare at the bodyguard standing there with his head bowed. “What are you doing out there?”

  “We’re still looking, sir.” The bodyguard bowed lower. “I waited to tell you because I thought we’d catch up to him before the incident would need reporting. Unfortunately, Master Min has turned into a professional when it comes to escaping. We found his cell phone in a trashcan at the sports complex.”

  “Did you call his friends?” Young Jae asked, shuddering at the thought of Min’s three friends. No doubt, Shin Haewon was to blame for this. “There is no doubt on my mind that they are all together. Contact their various homes and find out where they are.”

  “We have, sir. Their parents don’t know where they are. Shin lives independently.”

  Of course, their independence only makes my life that much harder.

  Young Jae shook his head in disgust at the thought of Min laughing at him with his friends. Min was going to get it when he got home. His work was going to have to wait until they found Min, which meant he had no hope of sleep tonight.

  I’m really going to kill him.

  Young Jae wished Min would think of others before he went gallivanting to places unknown. He took his cell phone from the desk.

  “I’ll go check Jihu’s apartment at the university. His friends might know where they went. Why don’t you have the security team check Shin’s house and Kaori’s home?”

  Young Jae picked up his suit coat as the bodyguard left his office. He removed his tie and stuck it into his pocket. Rubbing the five o’clock shadow at his jaw, he wished for a bed. As he strode out of his office, he muttered curses against Min until he reached the elevator.

  Here he was, fighting off exhaustion, while Min’s job was to make things worse by the minute.

  Getting back at that brat was going to be sweet victory, he thought as the elevator doors opened.

  ***

  “Wow,” Kaori exclaimed jumping off her stool as the music started to play. “This place is off the scale. I’m so happy we were able to come. Thanks, Shin.”

  Min laughed while Shin shrugged, an elegant flex of muscles that had Min staring.

  Kaori reached for Jihu’s hand dragging him to the crowded dance floor as the band on stage struck the first chord. She danced to the music as they joined the frenzied crowd.

  They’d made it into the Tower Building in Seoul on time. The organizers of the rave had turned the building’s underground parking lot into an exclusive rave for the infamous Underground Band Wars (Jibaje). Musicians from all over Seoul would meet this one night to rock out. Drinks were on the house provided by the sponsors of the rave.

  Entrance into the rave was exclusive. Money didn’t get you in, Min thought. To get into Jibaje, they had needed serious street connections. Shin was a miracle worker with these kinds of things.

  Min suddenly realized that none of it mattered. His gaze finding Shin’s again, he stared as the handsome man sipped at his beer. All he cared about was that he was getting to spend time with his friends. His life got lonely, too many people wanting to meet him, none of them trustworthy.

  “What are you thinking about?” Shin interrupted his thoughts. “Although, I wonder what that brain of yours could hold considering the level of your intellect.”

  “Are you going to pick on me all night?” Min reached for his drink a bit too quickly and hit the bottle making it spill on the table.

  “Seriously, Min, how do you survive?” Shin reached for napkins from the bar counter, dropping them on the mess on the table. Min tried to help, but Shin slapped his hands away for his effort. “How did you manage to get away on your own?”

  “None of your business,” Min replied glaring at him. Shin was acting like an idiot and he’d had enough. “Why are you so pissed off? If you didn’t want me to come you should have said so.”

  “Did I say I didn’t want you here?” Shin asked leaving the messed up napkins on the edge of the table, he reached for his own beer.

  Shin sat in his stool, those dark chocolate eyes staring at him as if they could read everything.

  Min hated it when Shin looked at him that way. He’d been so desperate to get away earlier, to come see him, why was Shin acting like such an ass.

  Min slid out of his stool. “I can leave.”

  Shin reached out and caught Min’s right hand, his long fingers circling his wrist to stop him.

  “I’m sorry,” Shin said. “I’m just mad at myself. I wanted to help and you wouldn’t let us.”

  Aware that Shin was looking at him, Min kept his gaze away because he could feel the threat of tears swimming in his eyes. Shin had the unique ability to make him feel like a wimpy teenager in high school. He didn’t want to cry, not now, not in front of Shin. He couldn’t let Shin know how lonely he got without him.

  Shin tugged on his wrist until Min sat, his head bowed down as he tried to forc
e the tears away. He closed his eyes, and the tears slid down his cheeks betraying him.

  Seeing them, Shin cursed under his breath. “Don’t cry, Min.”

  “Who’s crying?” Min asked brushing the offensive tears away from his cheeks quickly. “I don’t cry.”

  Shin chuckled. “Of course not, I’m just imagining things. You know if it gets that bad, you can always use your cell phone to call me. You know that right. I don’t recall getting a phone call from you.”

  Min shrugged and looked at Shin, his eyelashes clamped together from his tears. “I just got a cell phone last week. Young Jae has been controlling my calls through my assistant.”

  “Why do you let that man control you like this?” Shin asked disgust for Young Jae quite clear on his face. “Young Jae is a bastard. He’s only twenty-six, what will happen when he gets older? Min, you have to stand up to him. You’re only two years his junior, but you have the status to stop him. Fight him, there is no reason he should treat you this way.”

  Young Jae was most definitely directing Hanje security teams in a search for Min. The moment they found him, Young Jae would put him under lockdown again.

  Min shuddered at that thought and decided he didn’t have time to waste. He was going to spend the precious hours of freedom he had with his trio of friends and have fun.

  “Can we not talk about my life? Shin, don’t you want to dance with me?”

  Min got up suddenly feeling energetic as the music changed into a fast techno beat.

  “Come on let’s dance, I feel like a little sweat.”

  ***

  Shin sipped his beer and got up following Min as they headed to the dance floor.

  Min navigated his way through the crowd easily, making his way to the center of the crowd where the energy was wild and stimulating. Min’s shirt was unbuttoned down to his stomach because of the heat. He swayed to the music, his hips moving enticingly.

  Shin smiled as Min’s inhibitions floated away, his Min finally emerging.

  Despite the elegance, the first class breeding, hidden inside the uptight Min was a wild unrestrained personality that only came out when Min was comfortable.

  To solidify Shin’s thoughts, Min started dancing, his movements wild and unrestrained, eyes closed, the pulsing music his muse. Shin wanted to feel that energy, touch it. He wondered every day what it would feel like to caress that sculpted chest. Run his hands over those gyrating hips; feel them move in search of ecstasy…

 
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