“Miss Park!” I heard my Sunbae shout as I lifted my hands to shield my ears from that horrible, ear splitting scream. I meekly reached for him as terror struck my heart, only to feel someone seize me in the darkness, pulling me against a firm chest as my body continued to tremble in fear. It had all happened so suddenly. The piano playing on it’s on, the power going out and then that horrifying scream that sent chills cascading down my spine. I was completely disoriented in the darkness and wholly thankful for whoever steadied me against them. I could hear the police scattering as they attempted to regain control, the entire apartment erupting into chaos around us.
“Someone get a light on in here!” Officer Kwon yelled and suddenly a pin light was clicked on and aimed directly in my face. I squinted up at Jung Keun as he held me tightly, his arms wrapped protectively around my shaking frame. Junho stood inches away from us, the frown on his face erupting into a reassuring smile that made the pit of my stomach jerk in shock. Why was he being so nice to me all of a sudden? Wasn’t he the same bastard who’d blackmailed me not two weeks ago?
“You alright?” He asked and I nodded numbly, my eyes tracking Officer Kwon and an unnamed officer as they moved to find the circuit breaker box.
“She’s fine.” Jung Keun grunted and Junho frowned before rolling his eyes. My Sunbae kept a tight grip on me until the breaker had been flipped and light flooded the apartment. But I wasn’t out of his arms for long when a collective gasp rang out around us. My eyes searched the apartment for the cause of their sudden fear and I froze against him. Dear God what had happened?! It was like a scene from a horror movie unfolding before our very eyes.
“W-What happened here?!” Kwon shouted as the crowd parted to reveal Mr. Kim Myung Saeng slumped against the wall, gasping for breath around what looked to be a tuning fork lodged in his abdomen. Blood covered everything, his clothes, face and hands, the carpet, even the wall behind him was splattered with the sticky read substance. He looked as if he’d been stabbed several times, his skin turning a sick shade of green and his entire body convulsing as his brown eyes started to dim. My stomach turned and I buried my face in my hands. That poor man. Who could have done this to him?!
“He’s going to die if we don’t do something.” I heard Junho say and without a word my Sunbae left me, pulling off his coat as he dropped to his knees next to Myung Saeng. I watched through my fingers as he shifted the man into a laying position and began applying pressure to the wound. Junho wasted no time in helping him while officer Kwon began speaking rapidly into his radio as he phoned for paramedics.
“That won’t do any good sir,” Another officer opened the front door to reveal a pitch black foyer, “The power’s still out in the rest of the building. The elevator won’t budge.”
“You mean to tell me there isn’t an emergency exit out of this apartment?” Jung Keun growled. They’d successfully removed the fork and were bandaging the mans stomach with strips of his coat to keep him from loosing any more blood.
“It’s the way Mrs. Kim liked it. When she bought the place we told her it was a fire hazard because there isn’t an exit stairwell from this floor. But she didn’t care, she had to have this apartment.” One of the unnamed bunch stepped forward to say. He was a security guard by the looks of his dark blue uniform and the fake badge that had been printed on his shirt. His hair was cropped short around his ears and he was sporting a mustache. Next to him stood a woman in a red skirt suit and another man who instantly drew my attention. He was dressed from head to toe in black. Black long sleeved shirt, black slacks and black boots. At his waist was a utility belt of some kind that held several little tools I couldn’t identify. He was unmistakably handsome with his slightly curling black hair and full lips. What intrigued me the most about him though, was his silence. Since we’d been in the apartment I couldn’t recall him saying a single word. Even now as everyone else erupted into nervous chatter he still hadn’t opened his mouth to say anything. Then, almost as if he could feel my eyes on him he lifted his head to stare over at me. His sudden movement shocked me to the point that I couldn’t help but gasp, and for the briefest of seconds, I could have sworn I was staring right into the eyes of the deceased Mrs. Kim.
“Yeun Seuk.” I heard my Sunbae call and I snapped to attention, quickly moving to his side.
“Sunbae?” I asked as I knelt next to him, watching him pull a small memo pad and an ink pen from the inner folds of the jacket he’d worn beneath his coat.
“I want you to obtain a testimony from everyone not wearing a badge. I don’t care if you have to beat it out of them; get it.” He growled and I nodded quickly, accepting the note pad and climbing to my feet. “Let’s move him to the bedroom.” He told Junho who nodded and climbed to his feet. His brow was drenched in sweat, his lips pressed into a grim line as he and Jung Keun carefully lifted Myung Saeng and carried him down a short hallway towards what had to be the master bedroom. Part of me felt exhilarated that they were entrusting such a big job to me, but I couldn’t help but worry that I’d mess something up. I turned on my heels, fully intent on making a beeline for Mr. Mysterious in the corner when the woman in the red skirt stepped into view. I watched him once again fade into the crowd as if he’d never been there at all. Miss Red Skirt didn’t look too happy as she cleared her throat to gain my attention.
“Who the hell are you supposed to be?” She asked with a cock of her head, brown curls spilling over her shoulders. She was pretty in that rehearsed way in which you could tell she’d spent several hours in front of a mirror to make herself look the way she did. She looked like one of those girls I knew back in high school, you know, the pretty ones with the attitude and low grade point average.
“My name is Park Yeun Seuk, I’m with the Ministry of Justice.” I said politely and she cocked a manicured brow.
“What does that make you some sort of cop?” Low grade point average indeed.
“No, I’m a paralegal. I work for a prosecutors office.” I tried once again to be polite but she just gave me an aggravated sigh that really ticked me off. “If you don’t mind, can I do my damn job now?” I asked and she gave me a slightly offended look.
“Fine. Do what you have to do.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and I mentally sighed.
“Thank you.” I smiled at her, reveling in the ‘damn American’ look she threw me. “Let’s start with your name?”
“Kim Aei Soon.” She told me and I hesitated before writing that down. I knew the last name Kim was a very common one in Korea so it was probably just a coincidence, but I couldn’t help but find it a little out of the ordinary that there were two in the apartment of a dead woman with the same name.
“Right. And if you don’t mind me asking, why exactly are you here?” I asked and she rolled her eyes again. I watched the muscles around her eyes tighten as her face went stiff, a tale tell sign that she was about to start lying.
“I came up with the police to offer my assistance. I’ve known Mrs. Kim for several years; she was like a mother to me. When I heard the awful news I came to pay my respects.” She told me and I quickly scribbled down her testimony.
“So you came to offer your assistance?”
“That’s what I just said isn’t it?”
“But you also came to pay your respects?”
“Y-Yes.” She hesitated.
“Well, which is it Miss Kim?” I asked and she gnashed her teeth.
“Why can’t it be both?!”
“Aei Soon!” The security guard called out her name the moment she began falling apart. Why liars had to be so damn volatile I’d never know. He stormed over to stand next to her, his face dark as he glared down at me. “Are you trying to accuse her of something? Aei is a good woman!” He declared and my opinion of her went even further south.
“Right, and you are?” I asked, honey dripping from my voice as I attempted to remain calm and sweet. I was beyond fed up with people’s poor attempt at lying. I mean, if you’re going to lie, why not give it your best and make it believable?!
“My name is Kim Jae Chun.” He was kidding, right?
“So, your family name is Kim as well?”
“Is there something wrong with that?”
“No, not at all. I was just wondering why you both, as well as Mr. Myung Saeng, have the same last name. Could you somehow be related to Mrs. Kim?” I asked and they hesitated. What was wrong with these people? You’d think they were all guilty of murder.
“N-No we’re not related. It’s just a common last name, but I guess as an American you wouldn’t know that.” He sneered and I frowned, “Do you have anymore questions for us or can we leave?”
“I have more questions. And you can’t leave because the elevator is down remember?” The security guard flinched as if I’d struck him, a fine sheen of sweat forming on his forehead as he shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Right. Just ask your damn questions woman.” He grumbled and I smirked.
“Alright, tell me, who are you and why are you here? Is that question simple enough for you?” I asked cattily, bearing my teeth at him in what I hoped was a polite smile. He just rolled his eyes before answering.
“I’m the security guard, it’s my job to show guests to and from her front door. Well, it’s not really my job but it was something Mrs. Kim would pay me to do. It wasn’t much but every little bit counts you know? I showed the Piano Tuner to the apartment and when we got here Mrs. Kim was already dead and Myung had called the police.” He told me and something dawned on me as I was picking apart his testimony in my head.
“The piano tuner?” I asked and he motioned to the dark-haired guy who stood with his back to us. His back tenses slightly as if he could tell we were talking about him.
“Are you done?” He asked crossly and I shook my head.
“No. So Miss Kim, you arrived with the police after Mr. Kim, the piano tuner, and Myung Saeng already discovered the body correct?” I asked and she frowned, folding her arms over her chest and worrying her bottom lip as if she had to try and remember what she’d told me.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Well then why didn’t you mention the piano tuner in your testimony?”
“It’s because she didn’t see the guy okay? Stop being so mean to her it’s not like you’re the police or something.” Jae Chun interrupted her and her mouth snapped shut with an audible click. Yeah like I needed to be reminded of that by a Rent-A-Cop. I just sighed outwardly. I wouldn’t get anywhere with this guy around.
“Fine. If you’re going to be difficult.” I snapped the notepad shut and once again moved towards whom I could now identify as the piano tuner. I was two steps away from him when Junho appeared out of nowhere to block my path, an evil smirk darkening his face as he stared me down.
“Come with me.” He reached out and grabbed my wrist, not giving me a chance to deny him as he tugged me towards the front door of the suite.
“What is with you?!” I struggled but he refused to release me. Before I could make a big enough protest I was standing in the foyer with my back against the wall and a disgruntled Junho pressed firmly against me.
“What the hell did you tell Jung Keun?” He growled against the side of my face and I trembled.
“N-Nothing!” I planted my palms flat against his chest and pushed only to have him grab them and force them above my head, successfully squelching any escape attempt. Damn him I was trapped.
“Well isn’t that funny, because he’s been interrogating me all night. What did you do to Miss Park? What have you said to offend her? It’s getting pretty obvious that someone’s forgotten just how much they have to loose if they don’t hold their tongue.” His chest rumbled against mine as he spoke and as if to prove his point he gently ran his tongue over my earlobe. I couldn’t help but shudder against him, cursing the way my body reacted to his. The worst part was that he knew what he did to me; he knew that as much as I hated him I couldn’t stop my body from craving his. “Allow me to remind you.” Junho’s lips sought mine and for a full second I resisted before I allowed him to kiss me. My body melted against his, my curves caressing the hard length of him as he swallowed a moan that would have alerted the entire apartment to what we were doing. One of his hands dropped to my waist and pushed my sweatshirt up to reveal the quivering flesh underneath; his hand felt so large against me and his fingertips spread flames across my skin. His lips soon left mine to trail a blaze of kisses down my throat, his teeth nipping my skin just hard enough to leave a mark.
“We can’t do this.” I groaned in an attempt to break myself out of my stupor but I couldn’t keep my hips from pressing against his, successfully drawing a moan from his lips. But instead of releasing me like the responsible adult I wish he was he lifted my leg to wrap around his slender hips and I came apart in his arms. Just when he reached to tug my shorts down my legs someone cleared their throat. My head lifted to see the piano tuner standing just outside the door and I snapped back to my senses, shoving at Junho to get him off of me. He ambled backwards, his face dark as he glared the man down. I had to hang onto the wall until the feeling returned to my knees just so I wouldn’t end up on my butt.
“Can I help you?” Junho asked and the man gave him a slight smirk.
“Not at all. I was actually looking for the young woman you’re molesting.” He said and my eyes widened. Was he rescuing me from Junho?
“Excuse me?” Junho took a menacing step towards him and I ran to catch his arm before he did anything stupid.
“He’s right, I’m supposed to interview him.” I said quickly and he turned those deadly eyes of his on me, staring me down for a full ten seconds before smirking. I didn’t miss the glance he tossed the piano tuner before he wrapped an arm around my waist and placed a kiss against my forehead. I blinked, watching him move past me and back into the apartment, leaving the piano tuner and I alone. An awkward silence fell between us and I looked around for my pad and pen, which had ended up on the floor in my attempt to get away from Junho.
“I’m sorry if I was intruding. You just didn’t look as if you were having very much fun.” He spoke softly, his deep voice lilting slightly in a way that indicated he was from the southern provinces of Korea. His eyes flickered from mine to the floor and back again, as if he were almost ashamed to look at me. And I couldn’t blame him. After what he’d witnessed I don’t think I’d be looking at myself in the mirror for another week or so.
“I…Mr. Lee’s just like that. He’s very…”
“Domineering?” He asked and I frowned before nodding.
“Is he your boyfriend?”
“N-No!” I flushed and he smirked.
“I’m sorry for being so intrusive I just couldn’t help but ask.” He said and I moved closer to him, flipping my notepad open as I went.
“It’s alright I guess. Would you mind if I asked you a couple questions?”
“Be my guest.” He said quietly and I nodded.
“Right. Let’s start with your name.”
“Ki—Lee Hyun Bae.” He said and I repressed the frown that attempted to surface. If I wasn’t mistaken he’d almost given his last name as Kim. Why had he changed it?
“O-Okay. And from the security guard’s testimony it seems you came up and ended up discovering Myung Saeng with the body of Mrs. Kim. May I ask your relation to the deceased and why you’re here?” I asked and he lowered his head once again to stare at the floor, his hands in the pockets of his slacks.
“I’ve known Mrs. Kim pretty much all my life. From the time that I was ten years old. I’ve always been rather proficient with a piano. Tuning it, cleaning it, even playing it. But I was pretty poor growing up so the only access I had to one was the beautiful Steinway Concert Grand her husband had given her before he died. I guess she saw something special in me because she paid me to take care of it even though I’ve never had any professional training and I was just some poor orphan she’d met on the streets of Jeju Island.” He stared past me, his eyes distant. “Usually she contacts me directly when it’s time for a tuning but this time was different. Her representative called me, some guy I’d never met, and scheduled the tuning appointment for tonight. When I showed up the security guard showed me up. And there she was, laying dead on the floor with Myung Saeng standing over her.” He said and I finished scribbling down his testimony. His was the first I’d gotten that I hadn’t immediately questioned. Excluding the fact that he lied to me about his last name I absolutely believed every word he’d said. I just didn’t understand, or even comprehend why or how everyone involved in this murder shared the same last name as the deceased. It was just too much of a coincidence to be believable, even in Korea. Then it dawned on me. Perhaps somehow they were related? I looked up at Hyun Bae then and he smiled softly at me. His eyes…they were so familiar.
“You said you were an orphan correct?”
“Yes. I grew up in an orphanage on Jeju. I never knew my real parents.” He admitted and I frowned.
“And your last name is Kim right?”
“N-No, it’s Lee.” He said defensively and I shook my head.
“Please don’t lie to me. Your last name is Kim.” I told him and he gave me a shocked look. “Could it be that you’re…related to…”
“Miss Park.” The door to the apartment suddenly slammed open, startling us both half to death. My Sunbae and two police officers stormed into the foyer and seized Hyun Bae, slamming him against the wall and slapping a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. Jung Keun came immediately to my side.
“What’s going on?”
“The weapon lodged in Myung Saeng’s stomach was a tuning fork. And after speaking to the security guard it was revealed that this man is the piano tuner. I’m arresting him for attempted murder.” Officer Kwon said and Hyun Bae shook his head.
“But I’m innocent. I didn’t hurt anyone.”
“I don’t want to hear it.” Kwon pulled him away from the wall and shoved him towards the apartment.
“But—!” I tried but he turned back to glare at me.
“No buts! I’m sick of you prosecutors flouncing around here like you’re doing our job. I spent four years in a technical college so I could enter this career at the level I wanted. I busted my ass for this job and you two waltz in here and attempt to screw up my investigation!” He glared down at me and I shrunk against my Sunbae. “As soon as that elevator’s working again I want you both out of here.” He said, turning and all but throwing Hyun Bae into the apartment. The poor man tossed a sorrowful glance back at us and I felt my heart clench.
“But…he’s innocent.” I said and Jung Keun stared down at me.
“How do you figure that?”
“He’s the only one who told the truth!” I turned and grabbed the front of his jacket, “Sunbae you have to do something!” He gave me a saddened look before taking my hands and gently pushing them away.
“There’s nothing I can do Miss Park. Except file the charges against him.” He said and my eyes widened in horror. I took a step away from him and he reached for me. “Miss Park…” He started before giving me a sigh and shoving his hands into his pockets. “Listen to me. Very carefully,” His tone deepened, his voice lowering as if he didn’t want anyone inside the apartment to overhear him, “We can both see the truth of the matter. This is an obvious attempt at a cover up but as of right now we don’t have the evidence to make a conviction of the parties responsible for the death of Mrs. Kim.” He said and I frowned before giving him a slight nod. I understood what he was trying to tell me, I could see it in his eyes.
“Right. How long do I have?” He lifted his arm to stare at the Rolex on his wrist.
“About an hour before the rescue team arrives and gets the elevator running again. Can you do it?” He asked and I clutched at the notepad in my hand.
“You can count on me.”