Today is the day before my birthday celebration.
The helpers are running around the house decorating under the instruction of the head butler, Sebastian. They are changing the curtains of the house, deep cleaning every corner of every room and changing the interior decoration to suit a more festive vibe.
Waking up to see everyone rushing about makes me feel bad because they needed to work hard these past few days. All of these efforts are for me.
I make my way through the crowds of helpers rushing around and continue straight to find Do-Hyun in the yard. He’s warming up as usual and I greet him softly. He greets me back and tells me to warm up before we do our daily run.
My warm-ups usually take up to ten minutes and immediately after, the two of us run while circulating the house about five rounds before we stop. Do-Hyun guides me to several postures to increase my body flexibility since we have improved my stamina a lot. It will be good to have nimble body movement for my own safety in case anything happens.
We do five sets of exercises to which Do-Hyun praises me as he can see an improvement. I can now keep up with him without feeling too exhausted after finishing the sets.
I thank Do-Hyun and head to my bedroom in order to take a shower. After that, I go straight to the dining room to eat breakfast with my parents.
These days, neither of my parents goes outside as much and I believe it's because of my birthday celebration.
“Have you invited everyone?” My mother asks while taking a sip of her drink.
I nod and respond positively, “I’ve invited everyone that I wanted to come.”
My mother appears happy hearing that and continues saying, “That’s good. It’s your day so you should enjoy yourself. As for our relatives that come by, you don’t have to worry about interacting with them. They’ve been looking for an excuse to gather in one place so don’t mind them.”
My father glances at my mother but doesn’t say anything. She notices it and sends a glare back.
“It’s not as if I haven’t invited your side of the family. Most of them are often too busy to come for any family function I host.”
“That’s because your family is too boisterous,” my father grumbles.
“What did you just say?” My mother dares him to repeat himself.
“It’s nothing, dear,” my father says weakly.
“Good.” My mother appears to be satisfied with his answer and happily continues to eat.
I do my best to hide my amusement from watching these two bickers lovingly.
Lunch is over within a blink. My mother walks with me around the ballroom. I come to realise that the house is huge upon seeing this big empty room is now filled with tables and chairs on one side and open space in the middle.
“This is where we will officially host the party but the guests are free to walk around. Of course, the upper level will be off-limits to them,” she explains patiently.
“Thank you. Everything looks great,” I compliment the decorations and in turn compliments her as well for having good taste.
She beams happily and says, “I do my best. This is why I’m everyone’s favourite hostess. However, tomorrow is your night so you can request anything you want.”
I shake my head and tell her, “No. You’ve done a lot and I think this will be my favourite birthday ever.” This is true because this will be my first ever birthday celebration.
Leon says he and I should have the same birthday so that means tomorrow truly is my birthday. I never knew this because I didn’t grow up with a family. It’s bittersweet if I think about it.
The past is the past though. I can’t change it even if I want to so I will have to make the best use of the time I still have to spend with my family. I do wish that Abby could make it because I want to spend my birthday with my best friend but sadly she had already said she couldn’t make it.
My mother notices that I’m down and asks, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing. I was just thinking about how Abby can’t make it tomorrow,” I say softly.
She pats my back to console me. “Don’t worry. I’m sure she has something special planned for you.”
I smile as I nod because I know that it’s possible that Abby will make it up to me with a grand gesture.
We leave the ballroom and start walking to other places. My mother slowly explains to me the way she chooses each of the decorations. She appears cheerful so I listen to her and respond appropriately.
“Tomorrow since the party starts at 2 PM, some guests should arrive around noon but you don’t have to worry about greeting them early.”
“Wouldn’t it be rude if I do so?” I ask her.
She immediately shakes her head, “Those that come two hours early are just my family members wanting to gossip and chat before the rest of the guests arrive. I do have a room for them to hang around in case they want some privacy so you can ignore them. I’ll be with them. Just greet your friends, okay?” She explains.
I let out a chuckle before agreeing with her.
She lets me go back to my room after making sure that I have seen everything for tomorrow.
I dive headfirst onto my bed and bury myself in it. The house is too big and it’s tiring enough to circle the exterior of the house but the interior is much tiring because of the many stops.
My eyes open only to realise tomorrow has arrived. I head downstairs to do my morning exercise with Do-Hyun and realise the helpers are rushing around more frantically today than yesterday. I believe it's because there are still many tasks for them to do and I don’t want to get in the way so I quickly slither my way out of the door.
Do-Hyun greets me as usual and makes me do the same set of exercises after our jog.
“Happy Birthday,” Do-Hyun tells me as I’m about to leave to have breakfast.
I thank him but recall that I dream of someone wishing me a happy birthday last night. I’m not too sure if it’s a dream so the first thing I do when I reach my bedroom is to check my phone. Sure enough, the history shows that someone actually calls me right around midnight.
I don’t receiveremember if we had a proper conversation or not. I decide to call back but the tone turns busy. I don’t think it’s important cause I will see them later. I toss my phone back to my bed to shower.
Someone knocks on my door the moment I put on my shirt. I peek outside to see my mother smiling happily at me with her temporary assistant holding clothes hidden behind the cover.
“The tailor managed to finish it in time,” My mother says as she walks in.
The assistant hangs the clothes at the spot my mother points at which is at the hook that’s on the bedpost. I don’t even know it’s there so it’s a surprise to me when I see the assistant easily hangs it there.
My mother nods at the assistant after seeing that my attention is on the covered clothes. The assistant knows my mother’s intention and slowly unzips the cover. She then pulls it away to reveal the suit underneath it.
It’s a dark forest green which catches me off guard when I realise I like it.
“What do you think?” My mother asks.
“It looks great,” I tell her.
She smiles before urging me to quickly try it on. I take it to the bathroom and quickly put it on. I look at my messy hair in the mirror and decide to style it a little. When I’m satisfied with my appearance, I walk out of the bathroom as I adjust my cuff.
I hear my mother exclaim in happiness and see her smiling brightly.
“My little leprechaun has all grown up,” She teases.
“Maybe I’ll guide you to the pot of gold,” I say while smiling sheepishly.
She approaches me as she helps style my hair and says, “You’re the only gold I need in life.”
I blush and turn away. She chuckles before continuing, “You can go have breakfast wearing this. Don’t worry about wearing this the whole day. I have another set you can change into in the evening.”
“Another?” I ask in surprise.
She laughs, “It’s less constricting than this one so doesn’t worry. Plus by evening, it’ll be just us so it wouldn’t matter if you dress less formal.”
She adjusts the lapel of my suit before patting them. “Let’s have some breakfast before our guests arrive.”
We both arrive at the dining room and I find my father already seated. I notice there is another set of dinnerware placed neatly next to mine.
I curiously ask, “Do we already have guests?”
My mother appears confused, “No. There’s no guest yet.”
Odd. I take a glance at it and wonder if the helpers must be so busy to the point that they end up adding an extra set next to mine.
I hear soft footsteps walking behind me and seeing that the other helpers are also closing in on my parents to place their dishes, it makes me wait in anticipation for my food.
A slender hand places my food and suddenly reaches to cover my eyes.
“What’s going on?” I panic but then I hear my parents laughing.
I try to peel it off but the hand won’t budge. “Who’s this…?”
No one answers me but I can feel a light brush of something tickling my cheeks. Something clicks in my mind and I stop struggling. I hear them snickering but I finally sigh out loud.
“Abby,” I call out her name and she releases her hand before sticking her head out in front of me to flash a wide grin.
“Did you miss me?” She makes a kissy face which I push away without adding any strength.
She doesn’t try to resist either and moves quickly to take a seat next to me. A helper swiftly places her food in front of her.
“When did you come back?” I ask as I cut into the egg.
“Yesterday. I held back from coming over right away. It’s so hard to do that because I was so excited for today. I almost overslept too!” Abby explains herself.
“I thought you said you couldn’t come.”
“If I said that I would come, it would be too predictable. BUT if I say I can’t come and surprises you by coming anyway, it makes it special, no?” She grins.
“Yes. Thank you for coming,” I say helplessly.
I walk around the house with Abby after breakfast and not long after that, the first set of guests arrives. As my mother suspected correctly, they are my relatives from my mother’s side. The majority of them are girls and they go straight into gossip mode.
Abby casually joins in and starts gossiping with them. From them, she learns that someone from an influential family broke his political engagement just so he can marry some random girl from who knows what origins. He rather marries for love than power.
Abby appears to be immersed in the story to the point when the next wave of guests arrives, she lets me leave without even looking at me. She continuously stuffs her face with cookies as she listens to the drama. I shake my head before leaving to greet the newly arrived guests.
My first guest, to arrive is Ean whose first word is to ask, “Where’s Abigail?”
I explain to him that she is with my relatives. He nods with understanding before wishing me a happy birthday and passing his present to Sebastian who puts it on the designated table.
Sam arrives not long after Ean. I greet him and he naturally turns to pass the birthday present to Sebastian.
“You didn’t have to give me anything. I feel like I’m the one who should be giving you one as a thank you for teaching me,” I say to him as I watch Sebastian politely taking away the wrapped gift.
“It’s your 18th birthday. A birthday gift is a must.” He smiles.
I can’t respond to it as another wave of guests arrives.
This time, Adam walks out with a beautifully dressed Myra. She has her hair adorned and styled with braids that are wrapped into a bun. The car gets driven away by the valet and another car replaces theirs. Eric walks out of it and starts talking to the second valet on duty.
“Happy birthday!” Myra reaches in for a hug and I awkwardly receives it.
Adam gives her an unamused look after passing their gifts to Sebastian.
“What?” Myra exclaims in the most unladylike way possible.
Eric finally reaches the area where the four of us are standing.
“Hello. It seems everyone is earlier than me.” Eric remarks after glancing at the two of them.
“Who else is here?” Adam asks.
“Sam and Ean are already inside,” I respond to him.
“Oh cool. How did you know that they’re here?” Adam turns to Eric to ask.
Eric raises a brow at him as he flashes his phone at Adam. This makes Adam nods in understanding.
“Richard isn’t here yet though.”
The moment Adam says that a car pulls up the driveway. Rick walks out in an almost arrogant CEO manner as if he hears us talking about him earlier. He seems to feel our gaze on him so he lifts his head towards us and flashes a friendly smile.
“Speak of the Devil,” Myra says as her eyes follow Rick as he approaches us.
Adam immediately places his hand in front of Myra’s face. She frowns and grabs his hand trying to push it away while complaining he will mess up her makeup.
“Stop trying to look at him. You might fall for him,” Adam says as he struggles with Myra.
“Shut up. I think you’re the one that fell for him. You know he’s not my type but he’s definitely yours!” Myra accuses him.
Adam puts up his hand with a confused look and says, “What? No, he’s not! Why would he be?”
Myra crosses her arms and looks at him one side of her lips turning upward. “You thought he’s handsome today so you tried to cover my eyes, didn’t you?”
“Well that means you find him attractive,” Myra says in a matter of fact tone.
Adam’s eyes grow wide.
“What’s going on?” Rick asks when he sees Adam’s face after reaching close to us.
“The usual.” Eric answers before turning to me and saying, “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you,” I reply while Rick shakes his head with a look of disappointment at Adam. Adam mouths the word ‘What?’ with disbelief written on his face.
“Happy birthday,” Rick says to me to which I thank him as well.
Rick and Eric leave the two behind while Myra is still facing the speechless Adam.
“You both should head inside as well. There’s food and drinks,” I say to them to break this funny yet odd confrontation between these two lovebirds.
Another car arrives and I see Elaine walking out before talking to the driver who doesn’t bother getting off the car. Myra notices her as well and shoos away her partner.
“Go see your boyfriend,” She says to Adam while waving her hand.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Adam mumbles but he still walks away.
Elaine walks closer as her gown sways with each step she takes. Seeing how beautiful Elaine looks and her efforts to put on light makeup today showing that she makes a huge effort for me today, I compliment her happily. She shyly thanks me but Myra chimes in with a barrage of compliments.
Elaine smiles at her.
“My name is Myra.” Myra puts out her hand to Elaine.
I glance at her because I assume she knows Elaine when she shooed away her boyfriend just to join me in greeting Elaine.
Elaine is about to introduce herself but Myra continues saying, “I know who you are. Elaine, right?”
Elaine nods so I turn to Myra to ask, “How do you know Elaine?”
“Why wouldn’t I know her? You, Abby and her are often top 3 in your year. It’s good for my scholarship if I befriended smart people right?” She winks.
Elaine laughs at that and says, “I suppose so. How do you two know each other?”
“Fate,” Myra smirks.
I don’t even know how to respond to that so I just give an awkward smile. Elaine stares at Myra for a moment before turning to me with a soft smile.
She then reaches out to pass me a gift and says, “It’s not much but I hope you would like it. Happy birthday.”
I take the gift happily and reply to her, “Thank you. I think I would love anything you give me.”
“Such a smooth talker,” Myra adds.
The three of us laugh until another car arrives. At this point, Myra invites Elaine to go to the ballroom with her. Elaine gratefully accepts. I watch them leave.
The moment I turn to look at my newly arrived guest, I see the familiar golden hair as his long legs steps out of the car. He tosses the key to the valet boy before turning around to the passenger’s seat.
I can’t help myself to approach closer as Ryan brings his almost carbon copy out of the car wearing the same brown colour suit as him but in a lighter shade.
Aiden notices me and chirps my name, “Yuke!!!” as his tiny legs pitter-patter towards me.
I reach out to receive him in my embrace and swoop him up. He giggles as he hugs my neck and buries his face at the nook of my neck. This tickles me and makes me laugh as well.
Ryan approaches me with slick back hair and a charming white smile.
“It seems we’re a matching family,” He says.
“How so?” I ask seeing as these two is wearing brown but I’m wearing green.
“You’re the leaf, Aiden’s the branch and I’m the trunk…” His voice becomes low and husky as if suggesting something.
I give him an eye roll before turning around to head inside.