“Tae! What a pleasant surprise. Come in.”
“I didn’t think you would still be up.”
“It isn’t that late. It’s only eleven-thirty.”
“What about Dad? Is he still up?”
“No. He’s sleeping. You’re all dressed up. Where have you been?”
“To a party.”
“Why the long face?”
“Wen and I broke up.” That wasn’t the real reason for his demeanor but it would suffice.
“You’re not sorry, are you, Mother?”
“No, I’m not sorry that you broke up with her.”
He didn’t bother to tell her that it was Wen who broke up with him because she would only ask why. “I know you didn’t like Wen because she’s Chinese.”
“I have nothing against the girl, but I just think that Koreans should be with Koreans, Chinese with Chinese, Blacks with Blacks, Whites with Whites, etc.”
“I don’t understand why people are so opposed to interracial, interfaith or intercultural relationships. As long as the two people involved are happy together, what’s the big deal?”
“Life is a lot simpler and better when people stick to their own. Now, I’m sure that you can find yourself a nice Korean girl to date. What about Yeona? She’s a nice girl and it’s obvious that she likes you.”
“I don’t see her in that way.”
“Fine. What about Hiah? She’s single too and you’ve known each other since university.”
“We’re just friends. Stop trying to push me into another relationship. I just broke up with Wen.”
“All right. Have it your way. Are you hungry?”
He shook his head.
“Yesterday, I made some meaty muffins but they’re all finished, thanks to your father. If I had known that you were coming here tonight I would have saved some for you.”
He smiled. “I remember how you used to have to set aside some for me.”
“Yes. If I didn’t do that your father would have eaten those too. Are you sure you aren’t hungry? I made your favorite.”
“Yes. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some?”
“I don’t usually eat this late but I’ll have a little.”
“Good. I’ll pop it in the microwave.” She led the way to the kitchen. “Take off your jacket and sit down. How is work?”
He watched her as she shared out a generous portion and then put it in the microwave. “Work’s fine. I got a promotion.”
“What kind of promotion.”
“I’m Manager now.”
“Congratulations.” She went over to him and kissed him on the forehead.
“Your father will be very pleased,” she remarked as she set the plate of steaming hot food in front of him.
It smelled really good. He looked at it, his mouth watering.
“Dig in,” she said. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Sure, thanks. Any juice would be fine.”
“Your father always said that you would make manager one of these days. He’s so proud of you.”
“How is he?”
She talked about his Dad while he ate.
It was almost one in the morning when he glanced at his watch. He finished the juice, wiped his mouth and stood up. She got up and cleared the table. “I’m glad you stopped by.”
“Me too.” As she scraped the plate and quickly washed up, he leaned against the wall beside the doors which led into the living-room, his expression troubled.
“I know you’re upset about Wen but you’ll get over it.”
He wondered what she would say if he told her that he wasn’t even thinking about Wen. Clare was on his mind. He couldn’t stop thinking about her and wondering if she was still at the party with Barry or if they had left and were alone somewhere–maybe at her place. He closed his eyes as red, hot jealousy ripped through him.
“Are you all right?” his mother asked, reaching up and touching his forehead, making him jump.
“I’m tired, that’s all. Thanks for the Bulgogi.”
“You’re welcome. You do look tired. I hope you’re getting enough rest. Drive safely home and call your father in the morning. He would love to hear from you.”
“I will,” he promised. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek when they were standing in the foyer.
She smiled and opened the door. “Goodnight, Tae.”