Chapter 2:

Welcome to Muller’s Blend!

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

A chilly breeze brushed against the back of my neck, causing my arms and legs to squeeze tighter against my body. The thin red scarf which wrapped around my collar bone floated like a kite every time the wind returned from behind. It wasn’t nearly enough to block the cold.

I trotted down the main street of Febai City through a nearby park with the same name. Wearing a navy trench coat that went down to my thighs while sporting some casual trousers and boots, I certainly didn’t look like I was homeless. A patterned flat cap covered my head to further bury my face. Reaching into my coat pocket, I sighed in relief once I felt the remaining food stamps against my palm.

“God, why is it so cold already…”

It had been a week already since I was miraculously let out of jail. After being framed by my own father and being left with half of his debt, the police handed me a week’s worth of food stamps while I dragged my broke ass onto the streets.

The sound of chirps from nearby pigeons fluttered behind the blasts of wind. It was exactly this same time last week when Nancy, the office lady who revealed everything about my father, struck that ridiculous deal with me.

“Even with a lawyer, you’re pinned to the ground. If you don’t win, you’ll be in even more debt… perhaps the other half of what your father owes may fall onto you as well.”

I sat back down in the chair across from Nancy’s desk and crossed my legs. My breathing was inconsistent, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest, and every hair on my body shot up like a rocket. I could no longer keep my eyes up at her, and stared down at my lap instead, fighting back tears from my eyes.

Nancy’s deep glare slowly faded into a subtle smile. She had me cornered, and this witch knew exactly what she was doing.

“That’s why, I’m proposing this,” she continued while closing her laptop screen. “You will have three years to pay back the thirty million don debt to the government, and I will be the officer that tracks your progress. Our office will provide you some food stamps for the upcoming week, but…”

I looked back up with eyes of fire. Three years?! Sure, it may not have been three days…but how was one supposed to bring back thirty million don such a short period of time?

I tilted my head back up with my dazed eyes as if I was daydreaming. My eyes were still watery, but at least my goosebumps disappeared.

“...your father had all his property taken away from him. All his investments and money are gone, and his reputation will be ruined once the news reaches the public.”

Her hands linked together, and she rested her chin on top of them while she sat. I digested her words slowly, with new sweat drops forming by the second.

“W-Wait, you don’t mean…”

“Yes. You’ll be left with nothing. You’ll have to start over in life.”

Tall birch trees decorated in shades of yellow and orange cluttered around the edges of the park I walked through. All around me, autumn leaves danced around both the branches and in the surrounding air as they fell off the tree branches, covering the path in front of me in a mosaic of colors. Piles of them had already formed on the grass, and the laughter of children as they jumped into the piles wandered into my ears.

October in Febai was quite pretty, yet I never took notice since I was always busy in my mansion. It wasn’t just the twirling colors which gave the park its array of beauty; trees and bushes scattered around the middle, bringing life to the whole area. The scent of fresh pines and the aftermath of rain was all that reached my nose. Finally, the floating leaves on top of the puddles of rainwater from the previous evening looked almost like lilies.

My eyes landed on a group of parents sitting at a nearby bench in the same park, watching their children dart around and immerse themselves in the autumn colors without a single worry on their shoulders. Even a nearby food stall managed to attract a line of hungry visitors despite the cold winds.

“Fuck…” I muttered. This was day seven of living in a tent at the corner of this exact park, and I hated my life. “Why did my old man have to be such a fuckin’ braindead idiot…”

Ever since the news of my dad’s arrest became public, it’s become the main storyline among most residents within the city - that just shows how famous he was. Everywhere I marched for the past week, endless chit chat regarding the reveal of my father’s shady acts was all I ever heard. Thus, I did my best to hide my face with my red scarf and beanie whenever I headed to the food bank or the public baths. After all, there was no way someone wouldn’t recognize his son, drifting about with food stamps in his pocket like a total loser.

“Hey, you.”

I froze on the spot with shoulders shrugged up to my ear, startled by the voice behind me. I spun around but stepped back in doing so.

“Mr. Darak, it’s nice to see you again.”

My eyes almost jumped out of their sockets as I caught sight of him. It was the same tall old man who had visited me in my jail cell a week ago. His face was partly hidden under his large fedora, and his black leather jacket boasted a collar that reached as high as his ears. It did well to hide his neck and cheeks.

“It’s been a short while, hasn’t it?” He greeted me without stepping any closer.

“Y-You… sorry, but what do you want?”

“Listen, I have a proposal for you.”

His brown eyes sank under the shadow of his hat, but his frown suddenly shifted into a widening grin. I gulped as I thought back to the words he spoke back in my cell:

“I have requested for your bail. The police will have a chat with you later today. Be a good kid.”

Just what did he mean when he said he “requested my bail”? Was he the one who got me out of jail but now with a shitload of debt? Those thoughts were all that clogged my head as the man gave me the details:

“Become part of our family and our business, and we’ll take care of your thirty million don debt.”

My mind went blank, and my hands fell out of my pockets in shock, completely ignoring the cold.

“S-Say what now?”

I choked on my own spit and coughed while digesting his absurdity. It felt like everything around me had frozen still, including time itself. Who out of their damn mind would suggest such an easy way out for me? Unless…

“On one condition…” He sharpened his gaze without loosening his grin. “You must marry my daughter and announce on live television that you are renouncing your family name, and that your father was nothing but a fraudulent fool who tried to deceive the public.”

I stared blankly at him. My mind was too stunned to process a single word. My body almost subconsciously took a step back out of fright.


“I uh, um…”

I could no longer feel the cold breeze touching my skin, nor the sounds of children shouting, parents’ laughter, and nearby honking. The only sound I could make out was the loud thumping within my own chest. The proposal was abysmal: I get my whopping thirty million debt paid off, and I can marry into a rich, wealthy, and well-known family to regain my reputation.


“Sorry, I’ll decline.”

I forced a smile between my cheeks, knowing I had to say no before my mind gave in. It was too hard for me to meet his gaze; his towering presence alone petrified me.

“I see. Well, can’t say I’m not surprised. I’m impressed, quite frankly. Anyways, here’s my card if you change your mind.”

The man reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out a glossy business card. Everything - including his name, number, email, and photo - was on it. The card itself felt like it was worth a million don.

Extending his arm out to hand me the card, I couldn’t help but feel mortified. I reached out for the card and quickly shoved it into the back pocket of my trousers. For someone who used to be the “Prince of the Darak Organization,” it sure took a couple of deep breaths to assert my pride and decline his ridiculous offer.

Besides... what’s the point of marrying that man’s daughter if she’s not even hot?!

- was the only thought I forced myself to think of for the sake of comfort.

“Well then, I’ll be on my way. Be safe out there, Mr. Darak…”

As I watched the man turn around and make haste before his own identity was revealed to the public, a sudden drop of rain splashed on my nape. Tilting my head up toward the sky, it didn’t take long to feel rain sprinkle all over my cheeks and forehead. Forget the food bank…it was time to dash to a nearby corner of the street next to the park to take shelter for now.

“Marriage…huh…” I mumbled to myself. After what happened back in high school, I told myself I wasn’t ever going to fall in love anymore. The depressing thought, however, dissipated quickly as I caught a glimpse of where I ran.

The streets surrounding Febai Park complemented the latter remarkably: the street signs gleamed in the sunlight thanks to the rain, and the red and brown low-rise buildings around the area fit perfectly with the autumn colors. The abundance of crossroads made the district pedestrian-friendly; only the roads stuck out the most, as they were old, full of potholes, and buried by the onslaught of honking vehicles.

A coffee shop?

Around the corner, I saw a small white triangular sign hanging right on top of an old and cracked black door. It looked as if it would tumble at any kick.

“Muller’s Blend?” I whispered to myself while reading the sign on the window. Who would name a coffee shop like this? Intrigued, I took off my flat cap, preparing to go inside.

I guess this is where I’ll stay until the rain – wow…. My thoughts stopped abruptly as I admired the inside. Never have my eyes wandered around the room so quickly to take in the scenery in front. The shop was small, but incredibly cozy. Beautiful and lush house plants brought the windowsills to life against the walls, and bright, hanging Christmas lights sparkled in every corner of the room.

On top of that, the smell of roasted beans filled the air instantly, and the friendly conversations between the folks who sat in the limited number of chairs and tables complemented the vibe with a joyful ambience.

A few steps in front of me stood a large marble counter, covered in various espresso machines, cups, sugar containers, and milk jugs. It didn’t take me long to notice the two running the show from behind the cashier.

“Ah, another visitor!”

The lady behind the counter was beautiful from top-to-bottom. Her blonde hair was curled, and the ends faded into a light pink. Her sparkling emerald eyes which welcomed me into her shop made me gulp in hesitation, and her patterned apron wasn’t enough to hide the alluring curves around her body. She was exactly how I’ve always imagined what my future wife would look like. I couldn’t help but stare and blush.

“Forget it, he’s just here to enjoy some coffee.”

My moment of hope was crushed when I saw a tall, handsome blonde man walk up next to her. He wore the same apron as the woman, and the wooden frames of his glasses made him look like a professor. His hair, tied back in the form of a man bun, was never anything like I’ve seen before - was he an actor?

“Oh, c’mon Julian… I’m too lazy to make a poster about it,” the lady said as she looked back at her partner. Her voice was that of an angel.

I threw both hands back into my trench coat in disappointment. Of course, even if she was single, why would she date a homeless man like me? Besides, they both looked foreign.

“We can’t just bother customers like that though…” the man replied. After a brief sigh, he continued. “Fine, last chance, and then we gotta put a poster up.”

What are they going on about?

The lady turned back and gazed at me, causing me to blush once more. Her cheeks were somewhat red in excitement, and her hands were held together against her chest as if being hopeful.

“Hey, mister! We have a proposal for you!”

Ah, shit, it’s going to be one of those sales pitches, isn’t it…… I thought, from the moment the word “proposal” hit my brain. Just how many “proposals” does a guy like me gotta go through in a day?

All the “Buy one, get one x% off!” deals I kept running into in the other shops were useless - I had no money anyways. I’ve been bludgeoned by salesmen all week as I walked down various streets around Febai Park; if another sales pitch were to invade my ears, they for sure were going to blow.

“Listen, I don’t want your fuckin’ stupid-”

“Would you like to work here?!”

“Wait, huh?”