93 That Dreaded Thing Pt.3

    The door to the storage house creaked open and Pho bustled quickly inside while Gyuri trailed a few steps behind. When Pho finally looked in front of her, she was astonished to find two tall figures eyeing her curiously.

    "Oh! You must be a friend of-"

    Pho let out a surprised scream which made the bronze-skinned man jump backwards.

    "Pho!" Gyuri's alarmed voice was heard from the doorway. "Are you okay? What hap-?" Gyuri stopped midway her sentence when she spotted Zeren wide-eyed and Jimin with his brow raised.

    "Why are the imperial guards here?" Pho urgently whispered as she ran to her side. "Are we in some sort of trouble?"

    Zeren sauntered closer to them as he chirruped, "Don't worry, you're not in trouble." He grinned as he explained, "We're actually both friends of Gyuri."

    Pho turned to Gyuri for confirmation.

    "Give or take" she reassured.

    "Actually," Jimin corrected from the back of the storage house. "We are more like acquaintances."

    At the sound of his melodic voice, Pho's ears pricked up and her eyes rounded when they took in Jimin's ethereal appearance. Clad in his turquoise imperial uniform, Jimin took a step forward so that Pho had a better vantage point of his gorgeous features. Under closer inspection, Jimin was a very handsome, young man that stood tall despite his short stature. From his penetrating, brown eyes down to his chiselled jaw, Pho would have fallen head-over-heels for him if it weren't for the scowl that tugged at his lips.

    That scowl alone ruined what could have been her ideal romantic encounter.

    "We are not that close to be considered as 'friends'" Jimin corrected Zeren. He momentarily locked eyes with Gyuri before addressing Zeren again. "So, we should not mislabel things."

    Zeren's smile stayed plastered on his face. "Ignore Chim," he said to Pho, "he's just grouchy." With the same smile, he beamed at Gyuri. "Where's Mayu?" He glanced behind her as if the taciturn lass would magically appear. "Is she not coming today?"

    "She's needed back at the household" Gyuri answered, her lips pursed slightly after hearing Jimin's comment. "Which is why Pho is with us today." She gestured at the doe-eyed maid, who still regarded him with uncertainty.

    Zeren glanced at Pho again but this time, with a mischievous glint in his eye. "Oh, so your name is Pho?"

    The doe-eyed lass watched as Zeren's lips twitched into a smirk. "Yeah, that's right."

    Zeren tucked the bottom of his lip under his teeth to stifle his laughter. With as much composure as he could muster, his voice wobbled, "Like-the, like-the... soup?"

    Pho frowned as she watched Zeren burst into a fit of giggles, clearly entertained by the knowledge of her name.

    "It's not funny" she muttered, pouting at the bronze-skinned guard.

    "Whatever possessed your parents to name you that?" Zeren crassly queried, his arm clutching the side of his stomach. "Were they hungry when you were born?"

    "Okay, Zeren, that's enough," Gyuri remarked. "Leave Pho alone."

    Zeren attempted to suppress his laughter after hearing the lass' name again but to little avail. "I'm sorry" he apologised, his hand muffling his covered mouth. "That was rude of me. I'm sure you're as tasty as your name sounds."

    A sharp hmph escaped Pho's lips as she loured at Zeren before turning to Gyuri. "Should I start unpacking the food?" she asked, determined to ignore Zeren's presence completely.

    Gyuri nodded and Pho got on with unloading the contents of her basket. Once Pho's back was turned, Gyuri elbowed Zeren in the hip and he yelped.


    "Was it really necessary for you to make that joke?" Gyuri hissed at him.

    Zeren rubbed his hip while replying, "I couldn't help it. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity."

    Gyuri tossed him an unimpressed look to which he grinned.

    "But never mind that. We have a problem" he pointed out, his grin slowly slipping off. "How are we supposed to bring Chim and Mayu together if Mayu isn't here?"

    The pair glanced back at Jimin, who was keeping himself busy by helping Pho unload without being asked.

    "We'll have to put our mission on hold" Gyuri answered in a whisper.

    "But Chim still needs help with overcoming his fear" Zeren urged. "If we don't act soon, he won't build up on the confidence he gained from last time."

    A sigh escaped Gyuri's lips as she contemplated Zeren's words.

    Over the last few weeks, Jimin and Mayu had been conversing more and slowly but surely, Jimin had been showing progress in overcoming his fear of women. From the sidelines, Gyuri and Zeren observed the pair inconspicuously and were delighted to discover that the pair were warming up to each other.

    Gyuri thought that Jimin was improving.

    But that sense of achievement was only fleeting for whenever Jimin visited again, it was as if he had not spoken to Mayu three days prior.

    "It's like his confidence with talking to women just regresses back to its base!" Zeren complained. "We have to make sure he gets a lot of female interaction today or else he'll just go back to being a hermit. It's like he has a finite amount of tolerance."

    "Is that why you've been coming almost every day?"

    Zeren gave her a lopsided grin. "Well, that's one of the reasons why. Of course, I came to visit you too~"

    Gyuri cringed at Zeren's flirty advances and shook her head at him. "Let's just focus on what to do with Chim Chim."

    "Alright." Zeren backed away and pondered with his thick brows furrowed. "Well, there's no way he'll strike a conversation with Pho" Zeren mentioned. "It took all he had just to start one with Mayu."

    "Then, what if I ask Pho-?"

    Zeren waved his hand dismissively. "No, don't do that. It will only scare him off. Chim hates women that come on too strong."

    Gyuri followed Zeren's gaze and found herself staring at Jimin from afar. Currently, he was setting out the bowls on the side furthest away from Pho, clearly indicating his discomfort towards the unfamiliar lass.

    Oh, Chim Chim... she groaned internally. Why are you such an awkward potato?

    But while Gyuri was thinking such things, she didn't notice Zeren's gaze shift onto her profile and how a sly smile was creeping up his face.

    "Why don't you go and talk to him?"

    Gyuri snapped her head round to meet eyes with Zeren. "Huh? What? Me?" she fumbled, her voice rising. "Why?"

    "Because he already knows you" Zeren elaborated. "You're a familiar face. He won't be as wary towards you as he would be towards Pho."

    With a reluctant stare, Gyuri nibbled her lip. "But I get the feeling that Chim Chim doesn't like me that much."

    "You already know why" Zeren hinted knowingly and Gyuri eventually understood.

    "Fine" Gyuri consented. "Just leave it to me."
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