Story -

The Secret

The Secret

Chapter 1

Maggie

3.....2.....1....

Ring!

Finally.

I close my eyes and smile to myself as the alarm signalling the end of the day fills the silence of the quiet and quaint classroom. I listen quietly as my classmates quickly pack up their belongings and rush to the exit while they celebrate excitedly that university has finally finished for the holidays.
These last few weeks have been painstakingly long and exhausting. Every night, I've spent hours trying to finish stacks of never ending homework to make sure that they would be completed by today, and somehow I've managed to succeed in finishing it all. If it wasn't for all the energy drinks I had consumed and the all nighters I had done during the week, I probably wouldn't have finished any piece of work on time. Even so, I only have myself to blame because I left everything until the very last moment which surprisingly isn't a first for me. It's something I've always done, even as a child. I had even told myself at the beginning of the year that I would be a grade A student that would complete any homework as soon as I received it, but I guess old habits never die. It's actually a sort of habit of mine to keep things until the very last minute. It's not my fault that I like my work to be accurate and precise, but I will admit that I take a little too long to finish one piece of work. But if there's anything I've learnt while being in university is that I should never stress over things I can't control. Do that and you're well and truly fucked.

You haven't changed at all, Maggie.

I release a sigh of relief when it registers in my head that for six weeks, I'll be able to spend the summer holidays doing anything I want, but what? I think to myself how I'm going to spend each day but come up empty handed. There's nothing I really want to do other than watch Netflix, maybe play on my PlayStation or just spend time with my mother, but I know if I hang out with her then there's no doubt she'll want to take me to the shopping mall along the pier or something more tedious than that. Shopping is not how I imagined spending the holidays and not really something I want to do with my beloved mother. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother to pieces and would do absolutely anything for her, but sometimes she can be a little too much. You see, my mother wishes I was more of a girly girl who'd talk with her about fashion and make up and other shit like that, but stuff like that bores  me to death. I can't think of anything worse than talking about what ridiculous outfit celebrities are wearing these days or what Kim Kardashian is advertising – I couldn't give a damn, but for my mother that's all she cares about and it drives me insane.
She refuses to accept the fact that I'm a tomboy who likes to wear band t-shirts, jeans, hoodies and a pair of converses. She won't even look me straight in the eyes when it comes to the clothes I wear. I like to wear clothes that make me feel comfortable, not clothes that have a fancy label on them or that's currently the recent trend in certain countries. I mean, who would want to buy lavish clothes just because they can? I know one person who does because that's all that brings a smile to her face.
My mother's the type of person who buys stuff from countries all over the world. She'll buy me extravagant dresses, shoes, lingerie and even accessories for me, but none of the items have been worn. It's not that I'm an ungrateful daughter because I'm actually very thankful with the items she buys for me. It's just that none of the items she's bought for me would be something I'd wear personally. I don't have the heart to tell her that because shopping is the only thing that makes my mother happy these days. It used to be my father, but with him living a million miles away and busy doing what he does best – taking down very bad men, we can't see him or even speak to him. The only time we ever hear from him is when we receive a letter and a pay-check at the beginning of every month. That's it. It breaks my heart every time my mother reads one of his letters because she cries until there's no more tears to shed. What's worse is that no words will make her smile and it's heartbreaking for me to watch.
He's been gone for at least ten years, and not once in those drawn out years he's called. I'd rather have my father around than the money he sends. I know the reason why he's gone is because he wants to provide for us and he wants us to be happy, but what's money going to do?
The worst thing is that my mother doesn't spend any of the money on herself, she instead spends every single penny on me which I wish she'd stop doing. I wish she'd spend the money and buy herself something – a new outfit, new furniture for the house, a car or even a new pet that'll keep her company when I'm away, but she'll never buy any of those things, especially a pet. She'd hate it if any of her luxurious purchases were destroyed, but at least she'd have company and something to make her happy again.
If there's one thing that'll make my mother happy is her seeing her husband.

Maybe we could visit...

'Maggie!'

My eyes spring open at the sound of my name being called and as I turn my head to the side, I groan under my breath when I see who it is, 'Natalie, how are you?'

Whatever her answer is, I honestly couldn't give a fuck.

She comes to a stop at the edge of my table and smiles down at me, 'How am I? Much better now that the lecture's over! I mean, how boring was that?'
Now, if there was one girl in the whole world who would be the perfect daughter for my mother, it would be Natalie. The reason for that? Because she's the perfect definition of a girly girl. Every single day, she'll come to a lecture wearing at least something pink - whether it's a headband, shoes, lipstick, the colour of her nails or even the colour of her eyeshadow. It has to be pink. Once during break time, I even saw her squirt perfume on her neck and it was from a bright pink bottle. It makes me shake my head at how pathetic she is.
Natalie's also one of those students who'd sleep with the lecturer if it meant getting her an A grade. And guess what? She has.

Looking back, I've actually caught Natalie and Mr. Connors in the act. I had forgotten something in the classroom and as I went in, Natalie came out buttoning up her shirt and her hair was all ruffled.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.
When I found out, shocked was not the answer. It was pity. Pity for his wife and children who are to this day still oblivious to the whole thing. People like Natalie irritate me the most, but more specifically the reason why I dislike her is because she's everything my mother wants.
I peer up at Natalie and sigh. I do it not because I agree with her but because she's still standing here, 'Very.'
'I thought it was never going to end!'
 widen my eyes and mimic her enthusiasm, 'Me too!'
Please fuck off.
But she doesn't move.
Natalie runs her pink polished fingers through her bleached blonde hair as she yawns, 'No kidding, I was about to fall asleep.'
I rise myself out of my chair and place it neatly behind the table, 'But at least it's the holidays, right?'
'Thank God,' she arches one of her perfectly groomed eyebrows at me, 'Speaking of which, what are your plans for the holidays?'
Nosy much?
The only thing I'm considering doing is going to visit my father, but I wouldn't have a clue on where to find him.
It would make my mother so happy if she could see him just once.
'I actually haven't decided yet.'
Natalie frowns, 'What? You haven't decided what you're doing? How is that even possible?'
I tilt my head to the side and give her a false smile, 'Well, we all can't be organised like you now can we, Natalie?'
She rolls her eyes, ignoring my sarcasm and agrees with me, 'I guess not, but how could you not know what to do for six weeks!? I've been planning this for months.'
Good for you.
'I mean, I'm going to have shitloads of parties because my parents are going on vacation. So, you know what that means, right?'
I nod unenthusiastic, 'Tons of booze and a lot of hormonal students?'
'Yep! And you're totally welcome to come if you want.'
I'd rather choke on my own vomit.
I politely decline, 'No thanks, but thank you for the invitation.'
Natalie wiggles her brows, 'Boys will be there. Lots of them.'
'And?'
She shrugs, 'Well, isn't it time you found yourself a boyfriend?'
I give her a questioning look.
How dare she!
'A boyfriend?'
Natalie shrugs, 'Yeah. I mean, you're always alone and I just thought inviting you to my party would be a great opportunity to meet someone.'
Since the start of the year, I've always been somewhat of a loner and I prefer it that way. While being here, I never made the effort to make friends because I like to be alone. I've never wanted or needed anybody and because of my family and with how I was raised, it was difficult to have a normal life. I was raised strong enough to handle things all by myself.
So, for Natalie to speak to me like this, just makes me think she's being inappropriate by getting involved in my personal life.
We've never been friends, she's just assumed that we were because one day she'd forgotten to bring a pen to a lecture. Since then, she hasn't left me alone.
I scoff at her, 'Girls like me don't have time for boys.'
She looks at me as though I've said something purely horrifying, 'Then, what do you have time for?'
Not partying.
I smile as I grab my books from the table and shake my head, 'Have a nice six weeks.'
Just as I turn to exit the classroom and leave everything behind, I feel a hand grab my elbow and for the second time, I groan under my breath when I see it's Natalie.
'Wait, before you leave, I actually came over here to ask you something.
Great. Get to the point so you can leave me the hell alone.
'What is it?'
She bites her lip and smiles shyly, 'What do you know about the Jinyoung brothers?'
What? She can't be serious? One man isn't enough for her?
I stop myself from laughing out loud from her mindless question. No doubt if she were a guy, I know she'd be thinking with her head and not the one on her shoulders.
I shrug, 'Not much.'
She crosses her arms over her chest and squints her eyes at me, 'Not much? But aren't they your neighbours?'
With my other hand, I gently release her hold on me, 'Just because they're my neighbours doesn't mean I know them personally.'
'But what do you know about them?'
All I know is that they recently moved from China and that they're three bothers – Chen, Kang and Yuta.
It's true that they're my neighbours but not once have I spoken to any of them.
'Probably just as much as you. I rarely see them, Natalie.'
And that's the truth. The only time I see them is when they come back from university. Even on the weekends, there's no sign of them. I guess, they're kind of like our family, they keep to themselves.
Her eyes saddens as she pouts, 'That's too bad. I was going to ask them if they wanted to come to my party, especially Yuta.'
Out of the three brothers, Yuta is the oldest. Then it's Chen and finally Kang. They have  a reputation on the campus of being what you'd call bad boys. They love to break the rules and they don't give a shit about anyone or anything. That's one of the reasons why I avoid them.
'You like Yuta, huh?'
Immediately she starts blushing. Pathetic.
'I think he's just the hottest guy on campus. Every time I look at him, I just get butterflies,' Natalie groans, 'The things I would do to Yuta.'
Greedy bitch.
I run my eyes over her and clear my throat, 'I thought you were seeing someone?'
She shakes her head, 'Nope.'
Liar.
'Really?' I lean forward and lower my voice, 'What about Mr. Connors? Will he be okay with you seeing someone else?'
Her smile soon vanishes off her face and she starts to pale, 'What?'
When panic sets in on her face, my whole body fills with adrenaline. That look on her face was priceless. She had no idea I knew her little secret.
Knowing I have the power in my hands makes me feel untouchable.
And I love it.
I straighten my back and wait.
She scoffs and looks away, 'I don't understand what you're trying to say, Maggie.'
I frown, 'No?'
'Whatever it is you're implying, you're wrong.'
I look at her as though she's the lowest scum on the Earth, 'Don't give me that bullshit, Natalie. We both know you've been fucking Mr. Connors since the beginning of the year, so don't lie to me. It all started when I got curious that you were getting better grades than me, and I specifically remember you telling me that you've never studied for any test in your whole life. I thought how could someone like you be getting straight A's, and that's when I saw the two of you with my own eyes. Seriously, how desperate are you? I'd say you're really desperate, but I guess without sucking his cock, you wouldn't even be scraping a D you fucking whore.'
I shoulder pass her and suddenly stop.
My final blow will no doubt make her cry. That is if she believes the lie I'm about to tell her.
Do I give a damn?
Nope.
I turn around and see her almost in tears, 'Oh, and about Yuta? One thing I know about him is that he's never come home with a blonde before. So, I'd take that as a sign that blondes might not be his type. Maybe you should try Kang? He fucks everything with a pulse and considering you do too, you'll be perfect for each other.'
As soon as I turn to leave, she's already bawling her eyes out.
And it's music to my ears.

You may have realised up to now that I'm somewhat kind of a bitch, and before you ask no, it wasn't a choice I made or something stupid like that. It's just that when you've had an upbringing such as mine - where you've had to learn to become somewhat tough and not take any shit from anyone to avoid being a pushover, you slowly become a nasty piece of work. That's what it was like growing up as a child. Working hard and training all the time.
When I was little, I didn't even get to play with dolls but looking back, I didn't even have toys as a young girl. Not even a teddy bear to cuddle up to at bedtime. Sad, right? But that's how my father wanted to raise me.
Try living a life where you've always got trainers pushing you to the limit. Pushing you so hard, you end up passing out because of how much work you put into training. I give my all because I know that's what my father would want.
And besides, I'd rather be a bitch than a doormat.

------------------------

All of the corridors are vacant of any students. They've all probably rushed to leave to start their holidays, and I don't blame them. Another week in this place would definitely drive anyone crazy. This is a much needed break any person deserves.
I walk with haste towards the doors leading out of the university, but abruptly stop in the middle of the corridor when my phone starts to ring inside the pocket of my jeans.
That's probably my mother.
I place my books in the crook of one arm and reach for my phone, but just as I manage to retrieve it, someone unexpectedly crashes into me from behind – my books and phone thud onto the ground.
Seriously?
I sigh while shaking my head in annoyance, and without looking behind me, I kneel down on the ground and reach for my things.
I expect the person to help me grab my stuff because it's their fault, but they don't. Already, I hate this person and I don't even know who it is.
With my things back in my arms, I stand up and as I turn around and confront the person who rudely crashed into me, my jaw drops at who I see.
Standing tall before me are the Jinyoung brothers themselves - each are evenly the same height reaching about six foot.
I look to my left and look at the youngest brother. Kang should've been a model. The lush, mother lode- black hair he grooms so carefully has a rippling quality, a sign of his true wealth. The angular nose he sports compliments his prominent cheekbones. Handsome in an understated way. His basalt jaw and broad shoulders speak of strength. Girls constantly remark that his best feature is his piercing blue eyes which are narrow and thinly shaped. They could shine as bright as the sky.
I never believed that his eyes would be that entrancing.
Until now.
Slowly, I flicker my eyes and look over to the right and stare at the second oldest brother, Chen. Just like his younger brother, he could definitely pass as a male model. He's adored for his shaggy wild, chestnut brown hair. His crescent shaped eyebrows are perfectly groomed to accentuate his imperious nose, and his bony cheekbones that carve down towards his flinty jaw. Unusually for a model, he has a manly physique. His big eyes, dark brown like two chocolate buttons. They're soft and gentle.
Girls rarely spoke of Chen because out of the three, he's the reserved one.
Finally, I drag my eyes slowly away from Chen and look at the oldest brother, Yuta. My gaze pass over long legs that I could immediately tell were muscular even through his black trousers. His face is held forward in a steady gaze, and has an air of authority that's palpable.
He has an oval shaped face with a defined, slightly pointed chin and a sturdy jaw. His eyes, black thin and hooded are spaced evenly apart and sit below perfectly trim eyebrows that seem to curve as a natural extension of his broad, rounded nose. He styles his jet black hair neatly with the front slicked upwards - showcasing his flawless skin. He keeps his mouth closed in a thin, straight line. Yuta possesses a latent, leonine power and he always walks with purpose and authority.
It's his eyes that draw me in. They're like two pristine stones of onyx. It's like looking inside a depth of never-ending darkness, and it starts to make me feel uncomfortable.
Without uttering a word, I take a step back, turn around and start walking away until a voice makes me jerk and brings me to a stop.
'Stop.'
It's Kang's gravelly voice that halt my movements.
This is the first time I've ever had an encounter with the brothers, and not once did I imagine it would be like this.
From the tone of his voice, I can tell that this won't be a friendly meet and greet between two neighbours. It sounds a lot like the opposite. Now, I was taught to never back down from a confrontation, but I know better than to not mess with these three. Especially Yuta.
'Turn around.'
Without complaining, I swivel my whole body around and stare coldly at the youngest brother, 'Yeah?'
From the reaction on his face, I can tell he wasn't expecting that to come out of my mouth.
Kang swings his head to the side and looks at his older brothers individually. Neither Yuta or Chen say a word – they just stare numbly at Kang. But after a few seconds, Kang starts to laugh. It surprises me and unsettles me at the same time.
Why is he laughing at me? Did I say a joke?
I stare at him questioningly while at the same time trying to come up with a reasonable explanation on why I've been stopped.
Finally, Kang composes himself and smirks at me, 'I'm still waiting.'
Huh?
I look at Chen and Yuta for them to elaborate on what their younger brother wants, but they remain silent.
I look back at Kang and sigh because I'm beyond pissed that I'm still here and not at home where I sure as hell want to be right now, 'Waiting for what?'
He leans forward, his eyes level with mine, 'An apology.'
A what?
My eyes widen, 'Why? I haven't done anything wrong.'
'Wrong,' Kang taunts, 'Did you forget the part of almost making me fall over?'
A part of me does want to apologise because I know better than to aggravate the brothers, but the other part of me wants to fight back.
'Then maybe you should've watched where you were going.'
Straight away, I can tell that wasn't what he wanted to hear, and just as Kang prepares to step forward, Yuta stops him by putting a hand on his chest, 'No. Not here.'
'But brother...'

Yuta looks over at his brother and says in a deep, masculine voice, 'I said no.'
Kang shakes his head in frustration and it doesn't go unnoticed by his older brother.
Yuta puts a hand on Kang's shoulder – bringing his face closer to his and speaks in a different language. I can only make out some of the words.
'Zhè bùshì shí jiàn huò dìdiǎn, Kāng. Nǐ dǒng de.' (This is not the time or place, Kang. You know that)
'Tā méiyǒu dàoqiàn. Wèi cǐ, wǒ bìxū jiào tā  yītáng kè,'' Kang grits his teeth as he answers Yuta. -(She did not apologize. And for that reason, I must teach her a lesson.)
'Nǐ huì de, xiōngdì. Zhǐshì bùshì jīntiān,' Yuta gives his a shoulder a hard squeeze then lets go. (And you will, brother. Just not today.)
I try my hardest to listen in on what they're saying to each other, but it's too difficult.
I listen as the language rolls off their tongues so effortlessly - it's almost impossible to understand anything.
My eyes meet Kang and watch as a smirk slowly crawls onto his face. He leaves Yuta's side and takes a few steps towards me. Not once does he break eye contact, and when he comes to a stop, he gazes down at me with his mesmerizing bright blue eyes.
'You're lucky today, girl. Very.'
With his index finger, he runs it gently down the side of my face and leans down to my ear, 'But next time, you're mine to do with as I please.'
I stick out my chin and glare. Just because of who he is, I won't be intimidated.
'There won't be a next time,' I murmur.
'Shì de, huì yǒu de,' Kang walks away with a broad smile on his face. (Yes, there will be.)

With one brother gone, I look over at the oldest two. Chen's leaning on the school lockers, while Yuta stands with his hands in his pockets.
He hasn't moved or spoken to me.
My eyes flick from one brother to the other, 'Why did your brother want an apology from me when I did nothing wrong?'
My eyes land on Yuta and for the first time during this gathering, our eyes connect. I gasp at how dark and soulless they appear to be.
As he walks towards me, I eye him while trying to figure out what's running through his mind. He stops right in front of me, scans his eyes up and down my body, sneers and shoulders past me, 'Move.'
Ow!
An ache shoots up to my shoulder, causing me to hold it to try and ease some of the pain. I watch Yuta as he passes me and frown. I wonder to myself why he's done that when I know I haven't done anything wrong. I'm not the one at fault here.
I watch him as he follows Kang out of the campus' entrance and mutter under my breath, 'What's his problem?'
'Ignore my brother, he doesn't have a way with words or manners.'
I scoff as I look back to Chen, 'He's rude is what he is.'
Chen chuckles, 'I'll tell him you said that. He'll find that amusing.'
I highly doubt that.
Chen reaches inside his black leather jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, 'You're our neighbour, yes?'
I nod, 'I'm Maggie.'
'Maggie,' Chen lights a cigarette, takes a puff and exhales, 'I'm....'
I cut him off, 'I know who you are.'
And I don't care.
His face becomes stoic as he raises a brow, 'You do?'
I shrug, 'Well yeah. I mean, who doesn't? That's all everyone in this university talks about is how good looking you three are.'
His shoulders slump at my words – making me believe that what I've said has left him feeling relieved.
He takes another puff , 'I didn't know we were famous.'
I roll my eyes, 'Famous among the girls, yes.' 'And you?' Chen smirks.
'I honestly couldn't give a fuck who you are.'
'Fair enough,' Chen chuckles, 'My brother's will be happy to hear that they're famous among the women, especially Kang.'
'About him. What was your brother saying?'
Growing up, I had attended many private lessons at a young age learning all kinds of different skills. These lessons differed from learning Karate to how to speak Japanese.
It's my father's wish to learn as much life lessons as possible. But for what reason?
Chen waves me off, 'Nothing of your concern. My brother overreacts sometimes.'
No shit.
He peers up at me as he leans away from the locker and comes towards me, 'But if Yuta had not stopped him, god knows what he would have done to you.'
'Is that worry, I hear?'
Chen shrugs as he passes me, 'Whatever my brother gets up to, that's his business,' he turns around and walks backwards, 'But next time, just apologise. It'll make your life a lot easier.'
What's the supposed to mean?
Without another word, Chen turns around and exits through the same doors his brother's had.
What the fuck just happened?