Kang Jin-Ho eventually reached the national highway only to find himself in a spot of bother.

’…Where exactly am I? ’

Everything was fine while he was driving here like a madman, all thanks to the wonders of GPS navigation.
Now that he didn ’t have the benefit of the latest mapping technology? He had no clue where he was.

If Kang Jin-Ho still had his phone with him, this might have been a good chance to utilize the map app he had learned about not too long ago.
Unfortunately, Kang Eun-Yeong ’s manager was in possession of his phone.

“Which way should I go?” Kang Jin-Ho groaned.
The realization of being lost even made him think about going back and asking Lee Hyeon-Ju to give him a ride back to Seoul.

However, Kang Jin-Ho knew the concept of embarrassment, which was a problem.
He glanced around at his surroundings, but the kidnappers had selected such an excellent spot he couldn ’t spot a single residential building nearby.

He stood there, wondering what he should do next, when someone appeared before him to solve his dilemma.


A sedan flashing its high beams came to a stop in front of Kang Jin-Ho.
Its driver winded the window down and peeked his head outside.
“Is everything over, Mister Jin-Ho?”

“When did you arrive here, Mister Gyu-Min?”

“I was hoping to match the timing, so I drove here as soon as possible.
Thankfully, it seems that I ’m not late.” Jo Gyu-Min smirked triumphantly.

Kang Jin-Ho chuckled back at him.
When he thought about it, the person who had always been helping him out in moments of crisis was Jo Gyu-Min.

Jo Gyu-Min pointed to the passenger seat.
“Please, get in.”

“No, wait.
Before that…” Kang Jin-Ho suddenly bowed deeply at Jo Gyu-Min.

“W-what are you doing, Mister Jin-Ho?” Jo Gyu-Min was flustered and hurriedly waved his hands.

“It was all thanks to you that I managed to save Eun-Yeong without too much trouble.
I would have never found her somewhere as remote and vacant as this place without your help.”

To be more precise, Kang Eun-Yeong ’s kidnappers would have eventually called Kang Jin-Ho, but she could have been subjected to a terrible ordeal in the meantime.
At worst, she could have lost her life.
Just thinking about that possibility sent a chill down Kang Jin-Ho ’s spine.

“For now, please get in.
The night air can get pretty cold these days.”

Even if this were the middle of a Siberian tundra, Kang Jin-Ho wouldn ’t feel cold at all, but even he didn ’t see the need to interpret every offered goodwill gesture at face value.
Kang Jin-Ho nodded briefly before climbing into the passenger seat.

Jo Gyu-Min produced a cigarette and placed it in Kang Jin-Ho ’s mouth.


Once Jo Gyu-Min finished lighting the cigarette up for him, Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly sucked in the unhealthy smoke before leisurely releasing it back into the air.
It felt like the stench of blood staining his body had been masked a little by the cigarette smell.

Jo Gyu-Min got the vehicle moving again.
“You worked hard, Mister Jin-Ho.”


Maybe he had already guessed what happened inside the factory, but Jo Gyu-Min didn ’t ask for the details and concentrated on driving.

Kang Jin-Ho spoke, “What about Eun-Yeong?”

“I called for a car and a driver to take her back to Seoul.
She insisted on waiting for you, but I figured sending her somewhere… more secure would be the correct thing to do.”

“Yes, you made the right call.”

“I suggested she should see a doctor, but she was adamant with her refusal.
I couldn ’t change her mind.
I ’m sorry.”

“I see.
Couldn ’t be helped, then.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded in acceptance.
He had already confirmed her condition back in the factory, anyway.
She wasn ’t injured enough to require a visit to a hospital.

Although it was unknown whether Jo Gyu-Min did check Kang Eun-Yeong ’s condition directly or not, the former was still worried about her health.
As such, Kang Jin-Ho was grateful for that.

“By the way, did you call Miss Lee Hyeon-Ju?” Kang Jin-Ho asked another question.

“My apologies for not getting your consent first.
However, Jaegyeong is a corporation.
We have no experience in handling extralegal matters like this, not to mention the lack of know-how.
I thought the best way to deal with this kind of a situation was to call her people.”

“I see…”

“Chairman Hwang agreed with that assessment, as well.”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded without saying anything.
It wasn ’t as if he were upset by this development.
If this were the most efficient way, then they should obviously go with it.
Besides, Jaegyeong ’s people didn ’t need his consent on every single matter, nor should they ask for his consent every time.

Jo Gyu-Min cautiously piped up, “And this is just my opinion, but…”


“…Mister Jin-Ho, this won ’t be the end, yes?”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded silently once more.
Jo Gyu-Min groaned as if his assumptions were proven right.

’Well, it ’s rather obvious, isn ’t it? ’

To Kang Jin-Ho, his family was absolutely untouchable.
They were beings well beyond off-limits, so to speak.
As such, Kang Jin-Ho would never let anyone who dared to harm his family go unscathed.

“Mister Jin-Ho, you…
won ’t hear me out even if I try to stop you, yes?”


“In that case, there is a need for us to maintain a friendly relationship with this Martial Assembly.”

“Friendly relationship, you say?” Kang Jin-Ho retorted.
His voice was surprisingly cold and low.
He wasn ’t even trying to express his emotion, but anyone could tell that he didn ’t feel happy about this.

“Please don ’t misunderstand me, Mister Jin-Ho.
I ’m not saying that you have to join hands with them, you see.”


“From what I heard…
The ones who targeted you this time were numerous in numbers.
And the group they belong to boasts the largest scale in South Korea, too.”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded again, thinking that Jo Gyu-Min seemed to have acquired quite a lot of information in the brief window of time.

“When you ’re confronting such a group, it is inevitable that your existence will be exposed to the wider world.
Even if the martial artists are desperately trying to hide their existences, remember the era we ’re living in, Mister Jin-Ho.
Wouldn ’t it be weird if your battle against such a large group was never witnessed or revealed to others?”

Kang Jin-Ho sucked in the cigarette smoke in silence before exhaling it.
The gray smoke circulated in the car ’s interior before rapidly getting sucked outside through the open sunroof.
Kang Jin-Ho watched that before breaking his silence.
“One of the rules of this world is…”


“There are no freebies…”

Jo Gyu-Min nodded in agreement.
However, I believe this matter is grave enough to take the plunge, Mister Jin-Ho.”

Kang Jin-Ho stared at the road ahead, which was cloaked in the night ’s darkness.
Getting tangled up with the Martial Assembly wasn ’t something to be happy about.
However, since Jo Gyu-Min had offered his honest opinion in this manner, maybe joining hands with the Martial Assembly was more beneficial to Kang Jin-Ho when viewed objectively.

Jo Gyu-Min was making a modest suggestion, but the hidden meaning was far-too-clear to see.

Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “I ’ll think about it, Mister Gyu-Min.”

“Thank you.
That ’s good enough for me.” Jo Gyu-Min smiled brightly again.

This was why he liked Kang Jin-Ho.
This young man sometimes could be rather stubborn, but he fundamentally knew how to listen to other people ’s advice.
Considering how an individual occupying a position of power could easily ignore other people ’s suggestions, someone like Kang Jin-Ho respecting Jo Gyu-Min ’s advice was to be applauded unreservedly.

Even if the young man himself had no awareness of his own tendencies.

Jo Gyu-Min glanced at his passenger.
“For now, I ’ll drive you to your home.”

“Please.” Kang Jin-Ho leaned back and closed his eyes.

’I’m tired… ’

Fatigue suddenly rushed in.
He should be planning his next course of action, but for now, Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t want to think about anything.



One of the things Kang Jin-Ho learned from a phone call he got after nearing Seoul was that Kang Eun-Yeong didn ’t directly head home but was resting at his pizzeria.
So, he also went there.

Kang Jin-Ho waited as his little sister jumped into his arms, then gently patted her on the back.
“You should ’ve gone home, you know.”

“My cheek, though.
It ’s too swollen, so…” Kang Eun-Yeong pouted and replied.

Kang Jin-Ho frowned slightly.
Kang Eun-Yeong ’s reasoning was on the money, though.
If she went home looking like this only to run into her parents, then well…
They would have been very worried about her.
Kang Jin-Ho was proud of his sister for thinking that far ahead in a situation like this.
On the other hand, though, he felt that her worries were misplaced.

“How about stopping by at a hospital?”

Kang Eun-Yeong shook her head.
“It ’s not that bad.”

“Still, we should get that checked regardless.”

“No, it ’s really okay, oppa.
I ’m fine.”

Kang Jin-Ho gently held his sister ’s arm and injected a little bit of his qi just to make sure there was nothing wrong with her.
Thankfully, there didn ’t seem any issues with her brain.
He sighed in relief.
“Were you scared?”

“No, I wasn ’t.
But I was worried when you didn ’t come with us.”

“What do you mean, you weren ’t?” Kang Jin-Ho sighed again, then gently patted his sister ’s head.

Kang Eun-Yeong looked up at him.
“What happened to those people?”

“…I ’ve taught them a lesson and sent them packing.”

“Why didn ’t you want the police involved?”

Kang Jin-Ho was momentarily lost, not knowing what to say.

Thankfully, Jo Gyu-Min quickly came to his rescue.
“It seemed they kidnapped you for ransom, Miss Eun-Yeong.
However, simply getting involved in a matter like this could prove fatal for a celebrity ’s image.
A young female idol like yourself getting kidnapped by an armed gang will get tongues wagging, you see.
People pretend that they would not do such uncouth things, but unfortunately, we all enjoy shocking, stimulating topics, not to mention talking behind others ’ backs.”

“Oh…” Kang Eun-Yeong nodded as if she were convinced.
However, she was thinking about something else entirely.

’Those bastards definitely said they wanted my oppa, not me… ’

She didn ’t want to reveal that she already knew the truth.
After all, that might saddle Kang Jin-Ho with more worry.
Besides, it felt like these two were trying to hide something from her, as well.

Kang Eun-Yeong decided to bury this matter deep in her heart for later, then changed the topic.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“No, I ’m not hurt.
It ’s you we should be worried about.”

“No, I ’m fine, oppa.
I really am.”

Kang Jin-Ho sighed again.
“I see.
For now, go to the agency ’s lodging and get some rest there.”

“Mm, can ’t I stay here tonight? I ’m kinda…

A quick look at tinyurl.com/2p9emv8w will leave you more fulfilled.

“Then, let ’s go home.”

“But my cheek…”

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“It ’s fine now.”

“Ng?” Kang Eun-Yeong blinked her eyes before using a smartphone ’s selfie mode to take a look at her face.
Her head tilted in confusion almost right away.
“Huh? But it was so swollen just now? When did it go down?”

Kang Jin-Ho gently patted his sister ’s shoulder.
“See? You can go home now.”

“What about you, oppa?”

“I still have some things to take care of.
Don ’t worry; I ’ll be home as soon as I ’m done here.”

“…Can ’t I stay here with you until then? We can go home together, right?”

“Don ’t worry, I ’ll be done soon, so wait for me at home.”

Promise me that you ’ll be home soon, okay? Honestly, I ’m…
a bit scared.”

“I know.
Don ’t worry.
I ’ll be done here soon.” Kang Jin-Ho soothed his sister, then shifted his attention to Jeong Seok-Su, her manager, still guarding her.
“I know it ’s been a long day, but…
Can you take my sister home, please?”

“Of course.
That ’s my job.”

“Then, I ’ll leave it to you.”

Jeong Seok-Su quickly got up to his feet.
“Se-Ah? Shall we?”

“Okay.” Kang Eun-Yeong nodded.
She left the pizzeria while looking at Kang Jin-Ho.
It seemed she was still worried.

Kang Jin-Ho smiled back at her but sighed deeply once Kang Eun-Yeong was outside his store.
“Mister Gyu-Min…
Chief Jo, please cancel all of her schedules from tomorrow onward.
And book a competent trauma counselor as well.”

Jo Gyu-Min gravely nodded.
“Arranging counseling sessions won ’t be difficult, but her schedule…”

“Chief Jo.
Eun-Yeong might pretend to be strong on the outside, but we shouldn ’t forget that she ’s still only twenty years old.
She has to be in shock after going through an event like this.”

I ’ll clear out her schedule.” Jo Gyu-Min nodded in acceptance.
Indeed, Kang Jin-Ho was right.
Kang Eun-Yeong wasn ’t some product for sale, so looking after her health was the right thing to do right now.

’Still, it ’s gonna get pretty tough… ’

Trying to cancel the scheduled meetings and commitments without providing a solid reason would be no easy feat, even for Jo Gyu-Min.
Especially if he wanted to avoid creating bad blood with everyone involved.

Jo Gyu-Min cautiously raised his voice.
“Mister Jin-Ho…”


“Canceling everything else is doable, but it won ’t be with Miss Eun-Yeong ’s TV series commitments.
Filming TV dramas isn ’t a one-time thing, which makes canceling it practically impossible without repercussions.
And I ’d wager that Miss Eun-Yeong would never want to exit the production, as well.”


“Even worse, if she does exit the production, she might as well give up on her acting career, too.
This isn ’t a matter of the people involved behind the camera, but the fans watching the completed drama series, Mister Jin-Ho.
They will no doubt turn their backs on your sister.
Since the series hasn ’t aired yet, it should be possible to deal with most of the consequences somehow, but…
Preventing the spread of unsavory rumors will be difficult.”

Kang Jin-Ho groaned loudly.
“In that case, we need to buy a few days.”

“That ’s not going to be easy, Mister Jin-Ho.
If Miss Eun-Yeong ’s filming schedule gets shuffled around, the schedules for other actors will become rather tight as a result.”

“I ’ll deal with that, Chief Jo.”

“I ’m sorry?” Jo Gyu-Min looked weirdly at Kang Jin-Ho.
how was he going to deal with that?

Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t bother to explain himself.
“Let me worry about that, so please, just cancel all of Eun-Yeong ’s other commitments for now.”

I ’ll get right on it.”

Kang Jin-Ho turned his head and stared outside the pizzeria ’s windows with his withdrawn and cold eyes.

Yet another long night was passing by…

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