Chapter 9:

And This Is Why My Father Rules!

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

My eyes widened in disbelief, but perhaps I should’ve been less surprised than I was. Rin managed to break up with that asshole of a guy.

“I’m terribly sorry…” I muttered while placing a hand on the side of my neck.

“Don’t be,” she replied. “No regrets at all, and to be honest, I should’ve dumped him sooner. He played me like a fiddle.”

The two of us reached an intersection, where the entrance to the mall was just up ahead. I closed my eyes briefly. There was just something I had to do.

“Hey, want to go grab some bubble tea?”

Rin looked at me in surprise, and rapidly blinked to process my words. “U-Um, sure.”

“Sorry I should’ve asked first, but do you like bubble tea?”

“I-I don’t mind.”

I drew an eye back at her while pretending to look forward. Her raised eyebrows screamed confusion, but I was ready to explain. Taking a deep breath, I could feel my body trembling while preparing my next line:

“I know we don’t know each other too well, but I’d love to listen more about what you’re going through if it makes you feel any better.”

Wow, I actually said it.

“Don’t worry about it.”


I spun my head at her in surprise. “Y-You sure?”

“You’re just trying to sound cool, aren’t you, Mr. Barista,” Rin replied with a smirk.

Chuckling to break the tension, I scratched my face out of habit. What was I rushing into things for? We barely even knew each other.

“By the way,” Rin glanced away while we approached the bubble tea shop around the corner. Another few seconds passed by until she continued: “I wanted to say I was sorry for slapping you that very first day we met, and calling you an idiot and stuff.”

I stared at her, surprised by the topic. “N-No worries, you don’t need to apologize for something like-”

“There’s more,” she interrupted; her light, gentle voice turned hard and serious. “I’m also sorry for the scene I caused the other week between Elias and I at your café. I acted stupid in front of you. It’s quite embarrassing, to say the least.”

My mouth dropped open. Her bringing this all up was not on my radar. “You don’t have to apologize!” I insisted. “I would’ve been angry too at that guy if I were in your shoes.”

“If you say so. I appreciate you forgiving me easily.”

I opened the door to the tea shop, and every cell on my body breathed a sigh of relief when a jingling sound didn’t ring into my ears. After Rin and I ordered our drinks, we found an open table at the end, and just when I sat down -

“Hey, you up for this?”


I glanced up at her, confused about what she was talking about. She began to dig in her black and white purse, appearing somewhat frustrated. The crackling and mashing that jumped out was baffling - just what type of things does she have in there?

Finally, after what felt like a minute, she pulled out a small gaming console.

“Y-You’re going to play?” I asked, watching while sucking my straw.

“No,” she grinned. “We’re going to play.”


Placing the console on the table, she hoisted the screen up with a small kickstand, and took out two small controllers while handing one to me.

“What, you don’t want to?” she asked while sporting a straight poker face.

“Nah, let’s do it, since I got time to kill.”

This woman… I thought, staring at her. She’s quite unpredictable.

Rin chuckled confidently and sat down next to me at the table. The scent of her perfume danced on the tip of my nose, and I couldn’t help but look down in nervousness. It’s like I was surrounded by lavender.

“Wait,” I glanced at her console screen. “We’re playing…”

“Hehe, that’s right,” she replied with a beaming smile. “It’s a soccer game! Do you know how to play?”

“Nah, but I learn quickly. Let’s play.”

For the next hour, Rin and I played her game while chatting at the same time. I don’t think a single conversation deviated away from things about her own soccer team.

The space between us barely there, so I found myself awkwardly gazing at her figure closely as she babbled away. Whenever we took a break from playing, the straw of my cup never left my mouth; I was just frozen still, hearing about her hobbies.

“Hey, are you listening?”

“Y-Yes!” I replied desperately. Just how long was I out of it for?

“So that’s why I really want the league to investigate if there was any tampering with the referees…” Rin continued while stirring the pearls in her bubble tea. “I just don’t think it was fair at all.”

Ah, that’s right.

Rin was the victim of my father’s sports tampering, and this chat between us had all but confirmed it. The mere thought made my stomach turn. Just how many other lives did my old man ruin?

“Us losing that final match…it not only cost us the title, but our coach and half my team gave up on playing. We basically imploded.”

Rin paused the game for a second, and I noticed her arms starting to tremble. I’ve never seen a worse face than hers while she looked down in sadness.

“Rin, listen…” I found myself clutching my cup harder, bending the plastic. “You see, I…”

Just why can’t I say it?!

My eyes stared down at the trembling hands on my lap. A drop of sweat slid down my face. But just when I managed to continue -

“Oh shoot! Kai, doesn’t your shift start soon?!” Rin stood up, her eyes hovering over the time displayed on her phone.

“Ah, yeah,” I sighed in relief and stood up as well. The pounding in my chest decelerated. I’m such a wimp.

Checking my own phone, I frowned but didn’t panic. Usually, I would throw a tantrum and dart out like a cheetah to make it on time for my shift, but today, for some reason, my energy was that of a potato, and I lost all care in the world.

“Kai?” Rin tilted her head to the side, visibly confused. “You have like ten minutes, right? Shouldn’t you get going?”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll explain to my manager. Thanks for spending some time telling me about your soccer team, I’ll be sure to download the schedule and catch your first league game on TV.”

“Y-You don’t have to go that far…” A small blush emerged on Rin’s cheeks, and she looked away while playing with her hair.

“I used to follow the league a lot, actually,” I smiled. “I’m a big fan of your team.”

It was Rin’s turn to twinkle with a beaming face. “T-That means a lot to me!”

“Goodluck captain!” I replied. “And if you don’t mind, let’s meet up again sometime, I still wanted to talk to you about something else!”

I waved back at Rin while departing the shop. A light drizzle began splashing around me, but since I had no umbrella, I had to dash like my life depended on it.

I clutched my head with both hands.

“Dammit, I forgot to ask for her contact info!”

Muller’s Blend was only a bus ride away, but if I ran as if my life depended on it, I would get there faster.

Because of the long shifts I had at the café, I barely had time for anything else, including exercise. By the time I reached the five minute mark of my run, I was panting so hard that I thought I was breathing fire in the cold air. “Ugh…” I grasped my knees in exhaustion. “And there’s still a few more blocks to go…”

It was fifteen minutes past my shift start time when I finally arrived. Greeting me were the flaming eyes of Lily, who, together with Lora and Julian, stared at me as if waiting to hear my excuse.

“Well, aren’t you a bit laaate,” Lily scoffed. “And where is that new laptop of yours?”

“Well…” I placed a hand on the side of my beck, unable to think of a good answer for her except the truth. “You see, I bumped into Rin on the bus, so we decided to catch up instead.”

Lily closed her eyes, crossed her arms, and pivoted away. “Good for you then.”

“Ahaha…” I chuckled weakly, unsure of how to make it less awkward. I pretty much just hung out with the woman that Lily’s love interest became disloyal to.

After apologizing a hundred times to Julian and Lora, I threw on my apron and got to work as always. While getting to know Rin more should’ve brought a smile to my face, I couldn’t help but feel distracted: I picked out the wrong cup size a few times, poured regular milk into a few drinks instead of the usual half & half, but worst of all…

Buzz buzz!

“Ahhhh!” Lora screamed. “Who forgot to take the tinfoil out of the microwave?!”

Ah shit.

“Sorry, that was me,” I admitted with my hand raised.

“Kai, you’ve gotta be more careful! You’re making mistakes left and right today. Is there something distracting you?!”

Both Lily and Julian peered at me with curious eyes while they worked their own stations.

“N-No… sorry, I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

But just when my scolding concluded -


A familiar face entered the café. Wearing the same black leather jacket (which Lily would probably fangirl over) and brown fedora which hid half his face, a tall man approached the counter and greeted me the same way he did before:

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

It’s the guy who talked to me before when I was homeless!

The offer he mentioned during our last encounter had always lingered in my head:

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

But then, I remembered that condition he set:

“On one 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.”

Loud thumps erupted in my chest, but I took a quick deep breath, and smiled as if he was just another customer.

“U-Um,” I held my hands together in front of me. “Sorry, I don’t remember your name, but m-may I take your order?”

“Mr. Darak, you look like a fine young man in that outfit,” the man smiled while unzipping his coat, and I could already feel my fists clenching. “I cannot believe you chose this over the offer I proposed to you.”

Dally took a step closer, and I backed away the same distance. “Listen, I already told you, I don’t want to marry into your-”

“Ah, Lily Meyer!” Dally’s voice was glittering in excitement once he caught sight of her walking out from the storage room. “I can’t believe it’s actually you!”

“Huh?” Lily sharpened her glare back at the man. “Who even are you?”

“Ah, my deepest apologies,” the man exclaimed. “You see, I used to be quite good friends with your parents.”

“B-But they’ve never talked about someone like y-”

“Your parents’ company was completely destroyed by this man’s father, correct?”

Dally pointed at me, and his voice reached everyone in the kitchen. I froze in utter shock, along with Lora and Julian.


“L-Lily, is that true?!” Lora questioned.

Everyone directed their gazes at Lily and I, but my mouth trembled without managing to speak a word. Lily glanced away without an immediate answer either.