Jinwoo shed his jacket, tossed it into a nearby garbage can.
“They’re still on your tail,” Sanha said.
Jinwoo didn’t dare look back and risk that the two massive thugs would notice him. He had to try to blend in and move as naturally as possible.
A moment later his earpiece crackled again and Sanha said, “Take the next left. It’s crowded. Could be collateral damage, but it’ll make them pause at least.”
Jinwoo took a deep breath, rounded the corner and onto a busy street.
It was crowded indeed.
He plunged into the crowd.
Sanha swore. “They didn’t slow down even a bit. I’m dispatching Myungjun.”
Myungjun, who was tiny and sweet-faced, with delicate hands stained with more blood than Jinwoo could comprehend.
“No,” Jinwoo said. “I’ll find a way out of this. Give me thirty.”
“Roger that,” Sanha said, and then, “twenty-nine.”
The little gremlin was counting down.
He was a good handler for a reason, though. He kept his agents in line.
Jinwoo scanned the crowd. They were all oriented in the same direction. Why? The center of their attention had a specific focus. There. Tall figure. Male. Well-dressed. Handsome. Jinwoo searched his memory. He knew that face. Bus ads. Subway ads. Magazine ads.
Actor in half a dozen dramas.
Korea’s It Boy.
Jinwoo veered toward him, cut past his staff with unerring confidence. He reached into his jacket for his ID and angled it so only a startled Cha Eunwoo could see.
“Pardon me, citizen, but I promise that this is absolutely necessary for national security and I would never otherwise presume to intrude upon your personal space,” Jinwoo murmured.
“Who -?” Eunwoo asked.
“Please forgive me,” Jinwoo said, leaned up, and kissed him.
He made it good, wrapped an arm around Eunwoo’s waist, the other around his neck, and dipped him.
To Jinwoo’s vast surprise, Eunwoo kissed him back. His lips were soft and his mouth was sweet and where the hell had he learned to do that with his tongue?
Cameras were going off in a storm of clicking and flashbulbs, and there was a low din of whispers and murmurs.
“Three, two, one,” Sanha said.
Jinwoo straightened up and steadied Eunwoo. “A thousand apologies,” he said, and bowed.
“It’s fine,” Eunwoo said, dazedly. “I mean, you’re a really good kisser. I mean -”
His managers and staff surrounded him, shouting, and in the chaos that followed, Jinwoo vanished into the crowd. He plucked a jacket off one boy, a hat off another, and Sanha reported that his tail had broken off and retreated.
“Just so you know, you’re hosed,” Sanha said, when Jinwoo reported to HQ in person three days later.
“Why?” Jinwoo tossed the flash drive onto Sanha’s desk, the one he’d risked his life to retrieve.
“Because Cha Eunwoo, real name Lee Dongmin, remembers Park Jinwoo-sunbaenim, who was one year ahead of him in high school,” Sanha said.
Jinwoo searched his memory. “W-what?”
Sanha said, “Conference room three. Director Kang wants to kill you, but not before she gets Eunwoo’s autograph.”
Jinwoo, dazed, headed down the hall toward the conference rooms.
On the way, Myungjun patted him on the shoulder and said, “Nice catch,” and it felt a bit like a death sentence and a dream come true at the same time.