Yunjae woke up to the sound of someone sobbing. With a frown, her lids fluttered open, her eyes focusing in the room as she tried to see where the sound came from. And she did…
Next to her bed, was a recliner. In it sat Jinho with a sleeping Yuan in his arms. Light reflected on her lover's cheeks, and she could see tears there. Jinho was crying!
Surprised, not only because he was there, but because her lover was there with their son, she sat up on the bed, her eyes searching her lover's face.
"He got exhausted. I played with him while you slept," Jinho informed her softly as he shifted Yuan in his arms so he could lean forward and move closer to Yunjae. "How are you feeling?" he asked as his soft almond eyes moved from her face down to her stomach where they settled longer, and she felt like crying again.
Why was Jinho still here? "I…I thought you already left," she said in choked whisper, and Jinho shook his head. "How could I? How could I leave my family again?" her lover asked in a voice as broken as hers, just as Yuan moved and stretched his tiny body in his father's arms.
"You can put him here," Yunjae said as she moved to the side so there would be space for Yuan on the bed, but Jinho declined. "No, he can sleep in my arms. I want to hold him. I want to hold my son," he said as he stood up and sat on the space Jae vacated instead.
Silence hung between them with Jinho focusing on the child in his arms, smiling at the expressions Yuan made in slumber while Yunjae studied Jinho, not knowing what to say. She wanted to ask what Yuan was doing here but she remained silent.
"Why didn't you tell me about what happened back then? Why didn't you tell me about our child?" Jinho then asked out of the blue and she swallowed hard.
She guessed there was no point in hiding the truth. Yuan's presence in the room and Jinho's words gave her the idea that her lover already knew what happened, and she had an idea that it was thanks to her brother. Jinho asking her now about it was just because he wanted to confirm things from her. She was right.
No more secrets.
"Because I was scared," she admitted. "Swimming was your life. I didn't want to destroy your dreams. But I did. I still destroyed you..." Her eyes glistened with tears, she remembered the horrifying moment when she watched Jinho fly as the truck hit him.
"Because of me, you had that accident. I'm sorry. I wanted to tell you that when I saw you again two months ago, but I know it's no use. Sorry can't take back what I took from you. I was so ashamed and scared to tell you knowing how much you would have hated me all those years…" she confessed, her hands balling into fists onto the sheets and Jinho sighed.
"I think, there's something you don't understand about me," Jinho told her as he shifted Yuan into one arm so his other hand was free to touch Jae's which he did. "But I guess it's my fault too since I took it for granted that you'd understand how I feel immediately without me having to tell you," he continued as he glanced sideways at Jae's bowed head. The hand which held hers tightened as if he wanted to convey his feelings towards her as he spoke.
"You know, I love swimming but it's not my life. You were – are my life," Jinho told her which made her turn to him with disbelieving eyes, and he nodded. "The accident didn't destroy me Jae. I didn't care about the games as much as I cared about you. Well, I was upset over it but I could live without it. What destroyed me was losing you…"
"But you were so angry – "Jae protested and Jinho shook his head. "I wasn't angry at you because of the championship. I was furious because you left. Until today when I invited you to the hotel, I was still broken because I thought you were married. Even though I take your body over and over again, punishing you and myself by forcing you to commit adultery, the thought that it was only temporary – that I couldn't really have all of you was eating me up inside, destroying what was left of my heart which broke when you vanished two years ago," he admitted as tears filled his eyes once more.
In Jinho's mind was the memory of waking up at the hospital unable to move and finding out that Jae had disappeared. He thought he had been abandoned for another man. "I hated myself and I hated you for loving someone else when I gave you my all. But as it turned out…" he paused as he laughed at his stupidity.
"As it turned out, there wasn't really anyone else is there? I saw Yihan a while ago. He told me everything. I met his wife, Hana too," he said. "As soon as I found out I had a son, I begged him to bring Yuan over, and his wife did." He then frowned at his lover remembering something. "Do you realize how I want to strangle you now for letting me go on thinking you had a husband and a child? I've been insanely jealous not knowing Yuan was mine."
"I'm sorry," she whispered in shame and Jinho lifted her chin so they could see eye to eye. "Sorry won't work this time. You broke me into pieces. It's your responsibility to make me whole again," he stated, and the almond eyes which had looked at Jae coldly for the past two months now simmered with warmth and tenderness.
The man in front of Yunjae, baring his soul, was the semblance of the sweet lover she had years ago. "Don't leave me again. Stay. Swim…with me…" Jinho said with the gentlest of smiles, repeating the same request he had back at the poolside when she announced she'd quit swimming years ago.
This time however, she knew that swimming meant not in the water but along the tides of life. The only difference was that this time around, without the foolishness of youth, she could keep that promise. Slowly, she reached out and touched Jinho's face, and the latter caught her hand and placed it against his cheek, holding it tight.
"Jae, will you marry me?" Jinho asked, his almond orbs pleading, and she knew there wasn't any other answer she could give him. "I will… I will …" Yunjae responded with a smile.
Thanks for reading! Do drop by my other books when you have time. ALINEA
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