1 Year later
Without knocking, his mother swung wide his home office door and marched in. By her battle ready expression Jae-Sun knew he wasn’t going to like whatever she had to say. He inwardly sighed and laid his pen down with a click, folded his arms and leaned back in his chair. His mother was the queen of debates, and warily he watched her as she sat in front of him.
“Son,” she started. He shifted in his chair, he already didn’t like this. “I just got a call from your aunt, she was diagnosed with cancer.”
Alarmed he sat up. “Is she going to be okay?”
His mother waved him back down. “Yes, they think so. The doctors caught it early so the prognosis is good, but I need to go back to Seoul to help take care of her.”
Jae-Sun nodded, relieved that his aunt should be okay. Then the realization hit, and he glanced back at his mom. If his mother was gone who would take care of Valentina? His mother had been watching him, patiently waiting for him to catch up to the real problem. “How long will you be gone?” he asked her.
She shook her head at him. “I won’t be coming back here to live.”
“What?” he asked, louder than he intended.
She raised a brow at him, and he settled back down. “I’ve enjoyed being with you and my granddaughter, but it’s now time for me to return home.”
Jae-Sun’s mind whirled. He picked up and twirled his pen while he thought. “I guess I could ask our housekeeper Elena to take care of Valentina full time, and then hire someone else to take her place. Valentina adores Elena so at least it wouldn’t be too much of a shock.”
“No,” his mother said firmly. “You will not have an employee raising your daughter. It’s time you married, and gave her a mother.”
Jae-Sun jumped up from his chair. He couldn’t believe she’d even suggested that.
“You can’t let that woman ruin the rest of your life,” she told him.
The anger and hurt that he thought he’d buried so well, scratched at the surface. He paced behind his desk, not making eye contact with her. “I’m never going to marry again.”
“Don’t be selfish,” his mother snapped, and he whirled around to stare at her in furious shock. “You’re only thinking about yourself, but what about Valentina? She’s only two years old; she deserves and needs a mother. Are you going to deprive her of that for her entire life?”
He stared at her, pain at her accusation spearing him. No, the pain came from the truth of it.
Ruthlessly she continued. “Even though you’ve moved your office into the house, you’re always in here. She rarely sees you. Shouldn’t she at least have one parent that spends time with her?”
Tears stung his eyes.
“You must do what’s right for your daughter.”
Jae-Sun collapsed in his chair; he couldn’t think of any words to defend himself. Without saying anything else his mother left.
Eun-Soo quietly closed the door behind her, and leaned against it. She bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. Her resolve had almost broken at her son’s obvious pain, but she refused to let him be imprisoned by it.
In the following days Jae-Sun advised her of the unlikeliness of finding him a wife. “Who would want to leave their family and friends, their job? How would they get about without knowing the language? Who would want to marry a man with a child? If they were used to the city life of Seoul how would they adapt to the country life of the winery?” All these questions and more, he would taunt her with. Luckily for him she knew the perfect woman, and by having them marry, they would be set back on the course that had been meant for them. There was only one woman for Jae-Sun, only one that could possibly heal his heart, and teach him to trust again. She just hoped Jae-Sun would give Hana a chance.
Hana inwardly groaned, but on the outside she smiled and nodded politely as the man across from her droned on about himself. She’d had to bite the inside of her mouth painfully a couple of times in the last hour just to stay awake. It was amazing that he’d even shown up for their blind date considering he was in a deeply passionate relationship with himself.