- Chapter One -

"Mai! Where are you?" her best friend, Ha Neul's voice screamed over the phone, nearly killing her eardrums. Mai was in the car, on her way to meet Ha Neul at noraebang (karaoke), late as always and left with no other choice than to listen to her friend's ranting and complaints.

"Hold your camels, I'm on my way!" Mai shouted back in an equally disrespectful tone, annoyance already beginning to perk up within her body. It was the type of effect that the two had on each other. To anyone else, they were the nicest people and the quietest of them all, yet to each other; they acted like immature, stuck up brats who thought of none but themselves.

Ha Neul breathed an exasperated sigh, "Mai, how many times have we gone through this? It's horses, not camels!" Mai winced at the shrill tones of her best friend's voice ringing endlessly throughout her ears.

"Well sorry for not being so undeniably perfect like you," she responded bitterly, her voice dripping in sarcasm.

"Oh Mai, my dear dongsang! Thank you! I never knew that you thought of me as perfect!" Ha Neul's voice sounded as if it was coated with sugar and dipped in honey.

"Dumbass," Mai murmured, "I'm older than you. I don't even know why I agreed to come when you treat me like that."

"You came for the hot guys, remember?" Ha Neul's tone let off a vibe as if to state that the answer had been the most obvious in the world and she couldn't believe Mai even considered asking.

Mai rolled her eyes, "Yeah right! It's more like you dragged me just so that you could check out the hot guys. I already have my Chil Hyunn." She closed her eyes and smiled blissfully at the sweet thoughts of her long-term boyfriend, Ahn Chil Hyun. In fact, they were already nearing their one-thousandth day.

"Damn," Ha Neul muttered, "How'd you know?"

At this, Mai couldn't help but to feel a playful grin spreading across her face, "Don't think that I don't have my ways…"

"Whatever," Ha Neul countered, "Did you tell Chil Hyun to come?" she asked, switching the subject.

Mai frowned at the mention of her boyfriend joining them. Just earlier she had called Chil Hyun to ask if he wanted to join them, only to find his cell phone turned off. However, she never dared to call his house, , as Chil Hyun's parents had never taking a profound liking to her.

"I don't know," she informed Ha Neul, "It just went straight to his voice mail…"

"Call him again!" Ha Neul urged her, always having had a knack of persistency.

"But won't you be lonely if Chil Hyun comes along?" she pointed out.

"Yep," Ha Neul agreed cheerfully, resulting in Mai frowning from her friend's illogical response, "But it's okay because I know that you want to spend some time with Chil Hyun as well."

Mai's insides were squirmed with happiness as she realized just what a great friend she had. "Okay," she agreed, "If you really don't mind, I'll give him a call."

"Yeah," she replied, slightly more irritable this time, "And while you're at it, tell your oppa to hurry his ass up; you're already thirty minutes late! I don't know how you can possibly take any longer!"

Ha Neul's voice loud enough so that the message carried itself to Mai's older brother, SungHyun, rather than Mai even having to bother to play messenger. A frown appeared upon his face and in response, he stepped down hard on the accelerator, causing the car to shoot forward, while at the same time cursing Ha Neul under his breath. Mai laughed to herself as she hung up and dialed Chil Hyun's number.

"Yobosaeyo?" Chil Hyun's deep and enchanting voice sounded through her phone. A peaceful and serene smile lifted at the corners of Mai's mouth at the harmonic tone, marveling at the way her heart skipped to beat just hearing it.

"Hyun-ee oppa, it's me," she told him in a sweet voice, causing Sung Hyun to roll his eyes, now with the knowledge of who was on the other end. He always seemed to become irritated whenever Mai talked to Chil Hyun on the phone. Just the mere thought of having to listen to his sister converse for hours' lengths time in a babyish voice was sickening enough to make him gag.

"Hey Mai! How are you?" Chil Hyun greeted her in a joyful tone, excitement suddenly noticeable in his voice.

Mai grinned into her phone, not caring that Chil Hyun wouldn't be able to see, "Alright. I'm going to noraebang with Ha Neul, do you want to come?"

There was a slight pause before Chil Hyun replied, "Mian hae, Mai. I can't come today. My appa's insisting that I study for mid-terms, which are next week." Disappointment and guilt was evident in his voice, which was the reason as to why Mai decided that it would be okay, even if he didn't come. She knew that he wasn't just blowing her off for something stupid, as forcing Chil Hyun to stay home and study was something that Mai could just imagine his father doing.

"Okay," she said, frowning slightly, her voice suddenly dull and void of life, "Then I guess I'll talk to you later."

"Yeah," he agreed, "Tell your brother to stop by on the way back; I'm sure I can squeeze in some time for my loving chunsa."

Once again, Mai found herself falling once again into Chil Hyun's sweet talk as her cheeks tinted red from how he had addressed her. There was something about Chil Hyun in which each time they talked, Mai couldn't help but to smile. Though they had known each other for so long and talked an infinite number of times, Mai felt as if she could never tire of him, "Alright, I'll call you later, oppa. Have fun studying!"

"Yeah. Have fun at noraebang without me," he said in a teasing manner. Then, as an afterthought, he added, "Just remember, no guys!"

Mai giggled, a warm feeling taking over her heart, "Of course not, oppa. You're the only guy for me."

Chil Hyun was the jealous type, yet it was only because he couldn't bare the thought of having to lose Mai from his side. She would always understand and accept his feelings, as she felt the same way. To be honest, Mai just couldn't imagine her life with Ahn Chil Hyun.

"Yah! You're finally here!" Ha Neul exclaimed once she spotted Mai walking towards her, an hour later than they had planned to meet. Peering over Mai's shoulder, she raised her eyebrows and frowned, "Where's your lover boy? Didn't I tell you that I don't mind if you invite him?"

Mai smiled broadly at her friend, "I decided that I love you more than Hyun-ee oppa so I didn't call him, hoping to share some bonding time together with you."

Ha Neul smiled sweetly back, "Aww! That's so sweet of you!" she gushed, but then dropped her smile just as fast as it had appeared, " But that is total bullsh-t."

Mai gasped in mask shock, an innocent expression still plastered on her face, "What are you talking about? I'm telling the truth. When have I ever lied to you?"

"All the time," Ha Neul said with a smirk upon her face, "He's probably stuck at home studying for exams."

"How did you know?!" Mai demanded, "Have you been talking to him behind my back? Did he call you?"

Ha Neul rolled her eyes and laughed, "Relax Mai, Chil Hyun never calls me. I think the only two people that he actually takes the time to call are you and Tae Bin. I just figured he had finals because everyone else does."

"Oh, okay," Mai said, her spirits springing upwards once again, "Let's go inside. We can't spend all day here because I promised Hyun-ee that I'd drop by his house afterwards."

"Spoiled ass," Ha Neul muttered under her breath, but loud enough for Mai to hear, "You get to spend time with your boyfriend even when he's supposed to be studying for finals. Plus, there's a really muhshesuh (hot) guy over there who can't seem to peal his eyes away from you."

Mai smiled at the first comment yet glared at the second, "You're already checking out guys?! We just entered noraebang and the first thing that you do is scan the place for hot guys!"

"I'm not checking him out!" Ha Neul protested in a loud voice, causing a few people passing by to turn and stare. Noticing this, Ha Neul blushed slightly and lowered her voice, "I'm just saying that he's checking you out."

Mai chose to ignore her friend's last comment, disinterested in any guys who appeared to be eyeing her, "If you weren't checking him out then how would you know that he's muhshesuh?" she pointed out, trying her best to avoid the topic of the guy taking an interest in her.

"I was checking him out for you," Ha Neul explained with a straight face, her mind quickly searching for and blurting out the most reasonable answer.

Mai couldn't help but to laugh at her friend's last comment, already knowing that it was just an excuse, "Sure you were. I'm going to tell your precious Tae Bin that you were checking out other guys when he wasn't around!"

"Tae Bin's not my boyfriend, why would he care?" Ha Neul pointed out, glancing at Mai with a frown upon her face.

But Mai only smiled knowingly in response, galling Ha Neul's nerves. All the same, she managed to keep her temper in and change the subject as she began to look at the different prices posted, "Do you want a private room or should we just use the booths?"

Mai just shrugged her shoulders, "It doesn't matter; whatever's fine with me." When Ha Neul had turned away and began to order a room for them, Mai's curiosity got the better of herself. Making sure that Ha Neul wasn't watching, Mai angled her body slightly to see whom this muhshesuh guy was that couldn't peal his eyes away from them. She spotted a group of girls and guys outside the place, chatting and laughing zestfully together. Assuming that they had been the ones Ha Neul mentioned, Mai allowed herself a closer look, inspecting each person there. However, one boy in particular seemed to stand out amongst the rest.

He had hair of a cooper-brown that was parted in the middle, his front bangs brushing his eyes occasionally as he talked. Just then, he looked her way and caught Mai's eyes, causing her to immediately turn away as a crimson color spread across her cheeks.

Chil Hyun.

Mai quickly scolded herself and cast a sideways glance at her friend, unsure of Ha Neul had caught what had just happened. Thankfully, she hadn't, as she had busied herself with comparing the prices and engaging the employee in an attempt to bargain.

"We'll just go in one of those booths, it's so much cheaper!" Ha Neul finally decided, while at the same time snapping Mai back to her senses.

Mai only nodded in response, trailing after Ha Neul while still cursing herself for checking out and blushing because of another guy.

"I swear, if that boy looks over here one more time, I'm going to go over there and poke his eyes out!" Ha Neul shouted in frustration as she spotted the same guy from before looking over at the two of them for the umpteenth time.

"Calm down," Mai said, a hint of laughter sparkling within her voice, which only succeeded in angering Ha Neul more, "He's actually kind of cute, now that I think about it."

Mai wasn't lying and both of them knew it. There was no way to deny it; the guy certainly had looks to cause even the most faithful girlfriend to look twice. Mai was a prime example.

Even so, Ha Neul looked at her friend in a disbelieving manner, "HE HAS A FREAKING GIRLFRIEND! ON TOP OF THAT, HE KEEPS F-CKING LOOKING AT YOU! Not only are YOU taken, but he's checking out OTHER GIRLS right in front of HIS OWN girlfriend!" She was shouting so loud that everyone turned to look at the pair of them, including the whole group that Ha Neul had been referring to.

As she noticed this, Mai's face flushed, "Jeez, next time I want to attract someone's attention, I'll be sure to give you a call," she muttered as people slowly started to turn away with disinterest after seeing that Ha Neul's short-lasting wrath was now over, "Anyways, how do you know that he has a girlfriend?"

"Why?" Ha Neul asked, whipping her head around and shooting Mai a suspicious glare, "Are you interested?"

"NO!" Mai responded, her eyes widening in genuine shock, "Of course not! I have Chil Hyun oppa, remember? I was just wondering how you always know all these kinds of things."

Ha Neul adverted her gaze from Mai and watched the group of friends from afar, her eyes shining in pure delight.

"Just look at the way that girl's clinging onto him," she pointed out to Mai, who obediently followed her friend's gaze to see a very attractive girl who Mai had failed to acknowledge from before following the boy around, her arm linked tightly in his while they looked as if they were attached at the hip.

Ha Neul watched carefully as Mai observed the guy and his newly discovered girlfriend. "Jealous?" she asked, grinning from ear to ear at Mai's reaction of her observation.

Mai's face paled slightly as she quickly switched her gaze from the couple, "No," she said in a grave tone, "but what's he doing with such an ugly girl? Surely he can do better…"

And it was then that both Mai and Ha Neul realized that Mai had been swooped up into the land of jealousy and lies, as the boy's girlfriend was nowhere near ugly. She had straight, long hair that was dyed auburn along with a set of perfectly shaped almond eyes and a cute face that probably attracted her much attention. Despite the endless layers of makeup applied, his girlfriend was far from ugly.

Ha Neul smirked at her best friend, "I sense some bitterness in the air." She looked at Mai with her eyebrows raised suggestively, "What ever happened to 'I love you, Chil Hyun-ee oppa! You're the jjang! I can't find anyone in this world better than you!' I guess that all went away once you laid eyes on someone hotter than him."

"What are you talking about?" Mai exclaimed in disbelief, "I do love Chil Hyun! I only love him. I would never even think about being with another guy because he's all that I need," Mai declared firmly, a serious expression taking over her face.

Despite the confidence and sincerity within Mai's voice, Ha Neul looked at her friend with amusement dancing throughout her eyes. Not being able to keep her laughter in much longer, she let it out, only to receive a menacing glare from Mai.

"Sorry, it was just so funny how you got all defensive! You don't really need to defend your love for Chil Hyun; I'm not dumb. I know it's there. I'm just teasing you."

Mai's frown deepened as she turned away, crossing her arms over her chest in a grudge-like way. Once again, she found herself facing the mysterious boy once again. Realizing this with a rapid blink of her eyes, Mai quickly shifted her body so that it was directed elsewhere.

"Come on," Ha Neul said, tugging at Mai's jacket sleeve, "We should get going. Aren't you supposed to meet Chil Hyun soon?" she reminded her.

"Yeah…" Mai responded, heading for the door, yet only to be stopped by an ear-piercing, high-pitched scream.

"KURAKI MAI! JUST WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?!" Mai winced and ceased her walking, not even having to turn around to know that Ha Neul standing with her hands on her hips and her lips formed into a firm, tight frown. As always, Ha Neul seemed to be completely oblivious to the shocked and curious stares she was receiving.

Shit. She had almost escaped.

Ridding of her wincing face and disappointed expression, Mai plastered an innocent expression upon her face and turned back around, "Eung?"

Ha Neul only glared, not faltering one second from Mai's act, "Don't give me that face as if you haven't done anything wrong. Get your ass back here right now. It's your turn to pay! I've been paying our fees for the last ten times."

Mai whimpered and pouted, "Fine," she agreed reluctantly, stalking back over to her friend.

As Mai took her place in line, her eyes widened visibly in recognition of exactly who was waiting ahead of them.

Already having known this, Ha Neul smirked and whispered into Mai's ear, "Talk to him. He looks so lonely without that b-tch clinging to his side," and then walked out, leaving Mai alone to fend for herself.

Mai glared at Ha Neul's retreating back, then in a desperate attempt, called out to her, "Yah! Babo yah! I already told you that I have Chil Hyun-ee oppa!" But Ha Neul paid no attention and waved her off.

The guy turned around slightly to see who had just shouted, yet as soon as he locked eyes with Mai, he shot her a quick smile and immediately turned back around. And even though her mind didn't want to admit it, Mai felt her heart starting to pound slightly faster at the simple gesture.

When the guy had paid and left, Mai quickly produced five thousand won from her purse and handed it to the employee. Not even waiting for a receipt or a response, Mai quickly spun around of her heel and walked out to join Ha Neul.

Yet as she walked, her thoughts couldn't help but wander back to the guy from before. If truth were to be told, he scared her. She didn't know who he was but whenever she was around him, she got this feeling in her stomach that she couldn't seem to describe. It wasn't the same way or as strong as she felt whenever she was with Chil Hyun but even so, it was strong enough to make her feel uneasy. A feeling of guilt began to creep up and eat inside of her as her thoughts landed back on Chil Hyun.

"Hyun-ee oppa," she murmured softly while swaying her hands back and forth, paying no attention to where she walked, "Mian hae, oppa. I haven't been terribly disloyal to you today. Don't worry though, I would never leave you… never…"

"Talking to yourself again?"

Mai's head snapped up to see Ha Neul lounging on the brick wall just a few steps behind her.

"Did you hear me talking?" she asked in a panicked tone, fearing that Ha Neul had overheard.

Seeing this, Ha Neul smiled reassuringly, "Don't worry, all I heard were a few mumbled phrases, none of which I could make out." Then, realizing that Mai was hiding something, she peered curiously at Mai, trying her best to read her friend's expression, "Why? Is there something going on that I should know about?"

Releasing a relieved smile, Mai shook her head negative, "Of course not. Have I ever been able to keep something from you?"

Ha Neul returned her smile and pretended to think, "Hmm… not that I can remember." she replied, then added as an afterthought, joined with a teasing smile, "Except if you're having thoughts of a guy other than Chil Hyun."

She winked at Mai, and instantly, she understood that Ha Neul knew exactly what was going on.