Chapter 1

The Idea

"No, Mother, what part of no don't you understand? I am not going to marry Pricilla!"

"How about Mandy? She seems like a nice girl."

"...Or Mandy, Candy, Lulu, Pickles. or any of those girls that you want me to marry!" Eric shouted in exasperation. He loved his mother, but sometimes…

"Now listen here, EricIm Jun Hyuk." Eric winced as his mother used his full name, it could only mean trouble. Anita Im was known and admired far and wide as the backbone behind his father in the business world, but if you were her son, she was just too stubborn for anyone's good. "Listen here, it's about time that you settled, and gave me some grandchildren. It's not like you're young anymore."

Eric held his face in despair, "For goodness's sake, Mother, I am onlytwenty-three,how am I not 'young anymore'? Last time I checked, I have just started my 'adult' years. Besides mother, I am so busy with work, and school, and if I did marry, I want to choose my own bride."

"Humph. That's what you said last month when we had this conversation. You are like a television screen, just flick-flick-flick- a different girlfriend all the time. Where is the daughter-in-law that you promised me? "

Eric sighed. "Mother, need I remind you that you are the one that keeps scaring them way. It's almost like a ritual: I become close to a girl, we have dinner with you, and we break-up. It's not like I'm flattered to be named playboy of the year or the most eligible bachelor by the tabloids."

"Humph. Those girlfriends of yours are rubbish. They are like snakes... waiting to devour you whole along with your money. You don't know what's good for you. Choose your own bride? Ridiculous! I don't care, in three months time there will be an engagement party, whether you like it or not."

Eric's temper was beginning to rise. He was never good with others controlling his life; his life, as it was, already left so little of his freedom in his hands. "Fine, but if I find a girl that you approve of, I want to push the date of the engagement party until I'm at least thirty."

Anita, being the businesswoman and entrepreneur that she was, couldn't resist a challenge. "Fine, I will cancel the engagement with Pricilla altogether if you manage to find me this non-existent girl of yours. But I doubt you'll find one that not already on my list of eligible bachelorettes. There's nowhere else to find such talented and beautiful girls. You'll just be wasting your time, dear."

"Fine. Good day Mother," Eric ended the conversation. He closed the door the to his mother's study with a studied and dangerous calm. "I'll show her. I'll find someone entirely unexpected, I'll-"

Eric suddenly found himself wet from head to toe in water that smelled faintly of old leather, and lemon scented detergent. "I'm so sorry Sir," a maid apologized as she proceeded to pat his black Armani suit with a towel."

"Get away from me, can't you see that towel is dirty. What is wrong with you, why are you just standing there, and standing? Go get a clean towel!" Eric watched as the maid scurried away, and reappeared with a clean fluffy hand towel. The maid, once again, started to pat his suit with the towel. Eric grunted, and slapped her hand away. He grabbed at the towel roughly, and dried his hair. "I'll do it myself."

"I already said I'm sorry!"

Eric stopped in mid movement, and looked up in surprise. None of the servants had ever dared raise their voices at him before. He looked closed at the maid's wide, angry eyes, and realized that she looked unfamiliar. Maybe he was a little harsh on her; it was unlike him, probably a result of the shouting match with his mother. "Are you new here? What's your name?"

The maid looked at him suspiciously, "Yes, and my name is Ji Ah, Kim Ji Ah." Suddenly she looked worried, "You aren't going to re..." Ji Ah stopped when she saw Eric's raised hand.

"No, I am not going to report you, so don't worry. I'm sorry I overreacted," Eric smiled.

"No, no, I'm sorry I spilt the mop water on your suit," Ji Ah winced. "I shouldn't have raised my voice and shout at you. If you'll excuse me, I'll get this cleaned up."

Eric watched her retreating back, and an idea popped into his head. "Wait, Miss Kim!" Ji Ah stopped mid-step and waited for him to catch up, "Miss Kim, I have a business proposition for you. No, don't look scared, I live here. If you are interested, meet me tomorrow morning at 8am sharp in my study." With that he left her holding his business card in confusion.

Ji Ah flipped the plain black business card over. In simple white print was "Eric Im," and his contact information. Ji Ah smacked her forehead, she had just dumped a litre of mop water on her boss's head, and she didn't even know it.