For days, as the authorities examined Hyein’s body, he sat in a daze, unable to understand anything. Even during the funeral, after the examination was over and her body returned, Beohan couldn’t cry. Suppressing his grief, he bit his lips hard when soil covered her grave.
His boss, aware of Beohan’s situation, suggested taking a few days off, but he refused. If he didn’t keep busy with work, his despair threatened to engulf him. He couldn’t sense anything; his senses felt frozen. Arriving at the office with a blank expression, fellow detectives would pat his shoulder and offer words of encouragement as they passed. Those words didn’t register. Everything seemed to bounce off an invisible barrier.
“Hey, Shinbihan. The chief wants to see you.”
While he was tidying his desk without any tasks due to his situation, his colleague informed him. Responding to this, he went to the chief’s office. The chief sat there with a serious face, gesturing for him to come closer.
“Are you… okay?”
The chief seemed uncertain, knowing that asking this was futile. Beohan’s response was a vague nod. He was fine. His breathing and movement indicated he was alive.
“The results of your fiancée’s autopsy are here.”
The chief glanced at Beohan cautiously. Even though he was a detective, facing the death of someone close wasn’t something he could handle with indifference. As expected, Beohan’s gaze turned cold at the mention of his fiancée. The chief let out a sigh.
“I don’t know if you know…”
Beohan interrupted the chief. Since he hadn’t heard, he looked at him intently, silently urging him to explain. The autopsy results had been released the day before, but no one had shared them with Beohan. Considering the approaching funeral and heightened emotions, no one wanted to upset him unnecessarily.
“Take a look at this.”
The chief handed a file to Beohan. The words “Yoo Hyein Murder Case” were written prominently on the folder.
Beohan took the file and flipped through it slowly, his forehead furrowing.
“As it says here, the cause of death was excessive blood loss.”
The image of Hyein’s final moments, her white bedsheet soaked in blood, came to his mind, causing him to clench his teeth. Recalling the chief’s gaze fixed on her lifeless body, Beohan sighed deeply.
“The issue is the wound that caused the excessive bleeding…”
As the chief turned another page, a photo of Hyein’s body appeared. Compared to the excessive bleeding, her body seemed strangely clean. There wasn’t a single normal knife wound. Only two holes, piercing her delicate neck, were evident.
“Almost like bite marks from an animal, wouldn’t you say?”
At the chief’s words, strength surged into Beohan’s hand, gripping the plastic file. Tendons on the back of his hand bulged. The image of that pale, almost pallid skin he couldn’t look away from, and the exquisitely beautiful face, came to his mind. In the police investigation, no one had mentioned him. Hyein’s mother hadn’t seen him. Only Beohan knew he existed.
‘Would you trust my words if I told you this?’
Confidence eluded him. He questioned whether he might have briefly dreamt it. Had the sensation of his cool lips on his cheek didn’t linger vividly, he might have dismissed it as a dream. It vanished, leaving no trace. If he had leaped from Hyein’s second-floor room, he should have been visible in the alley at least. Yet, when he hurried to the window to check, the alley was empty, as though the wind had swept him away.
He was certain the man was connected to Hyein’s death, but lacking evidence, he refrained from hasty words.
He needed to uncover the truth. Once he did, he would undoubtedly expose the link between Hyein’s death and the man.
His fist clenched tightly, and the chief summoned, “Officer Shin.”
“Do you wish to investigate your fiancée’s case personally?”
Beohan narrowed his eyes. He belonged to the Cybercrime Investigation Team. Despite being a detective, he couldn’t handle cases beyond his specialization. That’s why he hadn’t mentioned the man further. His focus was solely on finding that man.
“If I allow you to investigate, what’s your plan?”
“Would you… relocate me to another unit?”
That was the sole avenue for him to probe Hyein’s case. The chief nodded resolutely.
“In fact, there’s a directive from higher-ups to have you reassigned.”
Just then, a knock echoed on the chief’s office door. As he turned, an unfamiliar man entered, neatly dressed in a suit. The chief stood and greeted him courteously.
“Allow me to introduce. This is Chief Kang Taewook from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. He’ll be your direct superior from now on.”
Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Chief? Beohan studied the man’s face, puzzled by his presence at this local police station. Their eyes met, and the man faintly lifted the corners of his lips. The chief nudged Beohan, prompting him to greet the newcomer. Beohan merely nodded, acknowledging the introduction.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Kang Taewook.”
“…I’m Shinbihan. And free to talk.”
“Very well. Let’s sit and discuss.”
Kang Taewook spoke candidly, no hesitations. He seemed to be in his early to mid-thirties, yet already a chief at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency… His sharp demeanor and composed speech marked him as an elite among elites.
“How much did you explain?”
Chief Kang Taewook asked the chief. Instead of responding, the chief gestured towards the documents in Beohan’s hand. Kang Taewook understood and nodded.
Fusing his name and rank, Beohan immediately stood straight and met Kang Taewook’s gaze. The severity had vanished, replaced by an even colder demeanor.
“Who’s this guy?”
He felt nervous. Kang Taewook, the chief who had been watching Beohan’s reactions closely without changing his expression, leaned back and rested against the chair’s backrest.
“I asked first. Seen this guy before?”
Beohan shifted his eyes from the picture and looked up at Kang Taewook’s face. With sharp eyes, he seemed to be trying to read Beohan’s thoughts. Beohan nodded as calmly as he could. He recognized the man in the photo, and he had no reason to hide it if he could be transferred to a unit capable of catching him.
“I saw him in Hyein’s room. He was gone in an instant.”
The chief was surprised, questioning why such a story wasn’t shared at the start of the investigation. However, Kang Taewook had anticipated this reaction and let out a soft sigh.
“Noxferia Vlad Grace. Also known as Nox. Heard of Grace Concherne?”
Beohan shook his head.
“Grace Pharmaceuticals, Grace Hotel. You’d know them, right? Even if not well, you’ve probably heard of them. Besides those, Concherne runs a bunch of big companies globally. Grace, sort of the real head of the Concherne family, the heir after the family head.”
Even if he were a son of a Korean conglomerate, it’d sound like a movie. But as it turns out, he’s part of a massive global multinational corporation. As I frowned slightly at the story, which had nothing to do with me, Kang Taewook smirked and added a bit more.
“…That’s what’s known.”
With an unusual follow-up, Beohan looked at him quizzically.
“If Grace Concherne’s real leader, existed 500 years ago, would you believe it?”
Beohan didn’t answer. It wasn’t a joke, but he couldn’t quite grasp Kang Taewook’s story. Kang Taewook flipped through the documents, finding the part with a photo of Hyein’s body. Then, he pointed out the two holes on Hyein’s neck with his fingers.
“This mark, quite something, huh? Like from a vampire movie.”
“Cause of death: excessive blood loss.”
The chief’s earlier words flashed through Beohan’s mind like a shooting star.
“Weird, right? They say she bled a lot, but the blood under her body was only this much.”
Kang Taewook’s words made Beohan examine the photo closely. The bed and the floor were soaked with Hyein’s blood. However, it certainly wasn’t enough to cause excessive bleeding.
“Where’d the blood that didn’t flow go?”
Kang Taewook’s questioning continued. Beohan looked back and forth between the photo and Chief Kang Taewook, his eyes wide.
Beohan’s gaze shifted to Nox’s face. Just a profile, yet he was strikingly handsome. For some reason, his heart tightened as he gazed at Nox’s profile.
“Are you saying he’s a vampire?”
Unbelievable. Vampires in this era…
He asked in shock, but his voice caught. Still, Kang Taewook lightly smiled as if saying ‘Exactly.’ Despite Beohan’s forced chuckle, Chief Kang Taewook didn’t join in. His unwavering gaze made it clear this wasn’t a joke.
Arranging his bangs and exhaling deeply, Beohan gripped Nox’s photo tightly. The handsome face twisted within his grasp.
“So, what’s your plan to capture him?”
Beohan’s expression grew firm. Kang Taewook, the chief who had locked gazes with Beohan’s determination, reached his hand out to him.
“Welcome to the Special Crime Investigation Team, Officer Shinbihan.”
Glancing down at Kang Taewook’s extended hand briefly, Beohan lifted his right hand to meet it.
“I’ll give it my all.”
‘Hyein… I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you safe. That’s why I’ll be sure to catcch the one responsible for your death, Nox…. I’ll capture them personally.’
Suppressing the heartache that gripped him, he contained it. Mourning could come later, after the perpetrator was caught.
Standing by the window on the top floor of Seoul’s Grace Hotel, gazing over the Han River at night, the scene was genuinely stunning. Nox, who had been absorbed in the sea of lights, turned around as he sensed a presence behind him. A man seated on one knee lowered his head.
At Nox’s call, the man known as Yohan lowered his body even further. Nox chuckled at the gesture.
“It’s not a thousand or even five hundred years ago. Can you adjust your greetings to the current times?”
With a playful remark, Yohan reluctantly stood up.
“Though time has passed, your role as our master remains unchanged.”
A hint of arrogance. He stuck out his tongue, yet not wanting to get into a lengthy conversation, he refrained from speaking.
“Have you investigated?”
Changing the subject, Yohan handed over a document he held. The paper contained various details about Hyein—her photo, name, age, job, and more. His gaze quickly scanned it, stopping at one point. The part that mentioned ‘Shinbihan from the Cybercrime Investigation Team, her fiancé.’
Mumbling, Yohan wondered if he misheard something. Nox waved his hand, dismissing it.
“Did I misunderstand?”
“About a misunderstanding?”
Once again not fully grasping, Yohan smiled wryly.
“Well, it was a close guess, even if it was a misunderstanding.”
“…Are you referring to Kay, sir?”
At the mention of ‘Kay,’ a smile played on Nox’s lips. Even in the brief chill of his presence, Yohan flinched and shrank. His gaze fell on the document in Nox’s hand. Yoo Hyein. If she was the one Nox had been seeking, Yohan could have never imagined Nox would smile at her so tenderly. She wasn’t the one they were after. Thankfully, but the situation had circled back to the start. Nonetheless, Nox appeared oddly content these past few days.
“Perhaps… Have you found her?”
Worried it might be too good to be true, Beohan asked, and Nox’s smile grew stronger. Bingo. With a quick response, Yohan narrowed his eyes. Did he have enough time? Nox’s arrival in Korea coincided with the day Yoo Hyein died. Besides visiting her house that day, he hadn’t gone out separately. But how did he manage to locate her?
“Why not bring her in right away?”
Yohan couldn’t understand why, after waiting 500 years to find her, Nox would let her be like this.
“You can’t just forcefully abduct her, can you?”
A light answer. He sounded like a child enjoying a game. However, Yohan wasn’t as thrilled as Nox. Looking back, it had been the same 500 years ago.
“Don’t waste useless time, and this time—”
Nox’s calm voice interrupted Yohan’s words.
“I want everything about her. I don’t just want an empty vessel.”
His tone became more serious. Yohan refrained from hasty arguments. Carelessly… It looked like he was clenching his fist, but Nox acted as if he didn’t notice. Not only Yohan, but Nox also knew well how all vampires might perceive this matter.
My love… my sole companion. No vampire among them truly understood him, someone who chose to become human for his companion. Nevertheless, it was alright. He didn’t need others to comprehend. Only the fact that the person my heart desired was crucial.
“Oh, there’s one more thing to inform you.”
Recalling something forgotten, Yohan began to speak.
“It appears there’s a request for international cooperation with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency from the International Hunter Association. They’ve established a Special Crime Investigation Team. And the man you saw in the documents earlier, Shinbihan, Yoo Hyein’s fiancé, is part of it. You should be careful not to encounter him… as much as you can.”
Yohan trailed off. Nox’s eyes narrowed as he smiled.
“A Special Crime Investigation Team… intriguing.”
He meant to say this wouldn’t be entertaining, and it wouldn’t become a significant problem. However, Nox already seemed uninterested. His gray eyes briefly glowed crimson.
“Where’s the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency located?”
“What? You’re not actually considering going there, are you?”
To Yohan’s surprise, Nox shrugged, as if to say, “What does it matter?”
“Master! No, Lord Nox!”
“There’s no need to head to the police agency.”
A cheerful smile curved his lips.
“I’ll be back shortly. Oh, just leave that Special Crime Investigation Team alone. If you’re bored, give them a little clue to follow you.”
“They should follow you to make it interesting.”
With a precise clap of his middle and index fingers, the window swung open wide. In an instant, Nox’s irises glowed crimson, and his form dissipated like black mist. With a swish, as he watched the black shape vanish beyond the window, Yohan belatedly clutched his throat.
“What on earth captivated you so much…?”
Mumbling to himself while picking up scattered papers from the floor, his eyes caught the name ‘Shinbihan’. Could it possibly be…? For a brief moment, suspicion crossed his mind, but he quickly dismissed it. He had never been involved with a man before. But if it was a man?
“Push those thoughts away, don’t dwell on them.”
He shook his head vigorously and continued collecting the papers. Either way, he would follow Nox’s lead.
Several days had passed since Beohan joined the Special Crime Investigation Team, yet there hadn’t been any significant breakthroughs. Information about a person named Nox was also notably scarce. The data Chief Kang Taewook provided about Nox was hard to rely on. Among them was a portrait from 500 years ago. The gentle expression he held as he looked at someone hadn’t faded from his memory.
He sometimes wondered if it was merely a similarity, nothing more. Even among those living in the same era, three people shared his likeness. It would have been intriguing if he resembled someone from the past. If they shared the same bloodline, it would be even more interesting. However, concluding that he was a vampire who had lived for 500 years or more based solely on an old portrait might be a rash judgment.
Could it be that Hyein’s killer was a vampire? He didn’t want to believe it, or perhaps his mind rejected the surreal idea. Doubts crept into his thoughts numerous times throughout the day.
“Take a look at these two pictures. Don’t they bear resemblance to the Yoo Hyein case?”
After his transfer to the Special Crime Investigation Team, Chief Kang showed Yohan images of two separate murder scenes. There were slight variations in the bite marks, but apart from the twin sets of fang imprints, the bodies were clean with minimal signs of bleeding. Despite this, the common factor was the excessive bleeding.
Moreover, no clues were left behind after the crimes. Among vampires, only purebloods were known to erase evidence so thoroughly. Although there were a considerable number of vampires operating within the country, narrowing down the suspects to purebloods like Nox was due to this reason.
Hyein’s case wasn’t the first occurrence, and there was no assurance it would be the last. If the possibility of another victim existed, shouldn’t they notify the media to prevent further incidents? When asked, Chief Kang Taewook lowered his head solemnly.
“Revealing a case that modern science can’t explain to the media? Do you think the police and the prosecution have lost their minds? Unless you’re eager to shoulder the blame for falsely attributing it to a nonexistent vampire just to deflect accountability, you better refrain from doing so.”
His words made sense. It was implausible for people to accept the existence of vampires, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be prepared to manage the ensuing chaos.
While it seemed unlikely that the murders were random, they couldn’t find any common characteristics between Hyein and the previous two victims. Why did it have to be Hyein? Why… the inability to find an answer continued to torment him.
Lost in his thoughts, he unexpectedly found himself in front of his house. Out of habit, he glanced up at Hyein’s room.
“Are you coming now? You did well today too.”
It felt as though the window might open any moment, revealing Hyein leaning out. The warmth of her bright smile seemed to linger in his vision.
Don’t let your mind wander. Concentrate more on reality at this moment.
Believing that this was the path for Hyein, he clenched his teeth and turned away. Suddenly, Beohan was startled by a shadow enveloping his view. He couldn’t discern when it had approached. Instinctively, he stepped back, tripped over a stone, and nearly lost his balance. Just as he was about to fall, a robust grip caught his arm and promptly steadied him. Only then did he lift his head to see the face of the person who had rescued him.
As soon as he confirmed the gray eyes gazing down at him, Beohan pulled his hand away abruptly. Nox! It was him. His thoughts instantly became chaotic. Why had he appeared here, of all places? Was it the same logic as the murderer appearing at the crime scene? If so, why feign recognition of me? Was it to eliminate me as a witness from that day? His thoughts connected rapidly.
‘My name’s three syllables flowed distinctly from his lips. He didn’t ask the silly question of how he knew my name. I knew his name too, of course. If I wanted, I could find out whatever I wanted. But another question remained. Why? Not ‘how,’ but ‘why.’ Why did he know my name?’
“Shinbihan… It’s a beautiful name.”
Did this man know Korean? I remembered on the first night we met, he spoke in a language I couldn’t understand…
“Did you kill Hyein?”
With him in front of me, my calmness vanished. Just suppressing my anger was enough to overwhelm me.
Nox knew Hyein’s last name too. He knew about Hyein? How? My bewilderment showed on my face. He gave a mischievous smile and stepped closer. Though I should’ve grabbed him, my body didn’t move. I managed to stand my ground without stepping back or retreating. As he got closer, my gaze followed.
“All I know is she isn’t the one, it’s you, Shinbihan.”
I never knew my name could sound so sweet. It was like he might even kiss me; we were that close. But he pushed me away with a hand on my shoulder.
“I’m Officer Shinbihan from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. I’m asking Noxferia Vlad Grace. Did you murder Yoo Hyein?”
He asked mechanically, showing his badge. I knew it seemed odd. But if I didn’t do it this way, I felt he’d sweep me away.
Even though Beohan’s voice was stern, Nox’s gaze didn’t waver. Strangely, his unwavering eyes, focused solely on me, made me uneasy. There was a familiarity I couldn’t place. It felt like the eyes in the portrait…! The gaze he had as he smiled gently in the portrait was the same.
“If that’s true?”
His gentle voice almost made me miss his words’ meaning. Realizing a moment later, I clenched my fists. Evading the punch I threw was easy for him; he sidestepped smoothly. In a swift motion, he caught my wrist, pulling me closer and making me lose balance.
“If I said I killed my fiancée, would that give you a reason to look at me?”
Quickly, I pushed him away and stepped back. Why… why did this keep happening? Whenever he got close, I felt a pressure in my chest. I should be grabbing him, but I kept stepping back.
The pain in my chest throbbed because he was Hyein’s murderer. I couldn’t fathom any other reason. Wordless and staring, I stood there as his graceful smile spread.
It was the phrase I heard from him before.
“Say it in Korean!”
Knowing he was fluent in Korean, I wasn’t absent minded like last time. When I pressed him, his smile deepened further.
“What I want isn’t Yoo Hyein.”
Nox slightly inclined his head, his face closer to mine. He smiled playfully, his gaze locked onto me. I swallowed hard.
Beohan’s eyes grew wider. The meaning behind his words eluded him. His fingertip gently brushed against his cheek and moved away.
“No need to hurry. With time, you’ll come to know.”
It wasn’t clear if he was talking to himself or addressing me. His hand, lifted slightly, seemed like it might touch Beohan’s hair, but then it hesitated and retreated. Simultaneously, the breath he had been holding was released. As Beohan silently watched him, standing guard, their eyes met, and he offered another smile, a tender one.
“Until we meet again.”
Nox turned his back first. Beohan stared, perplexed.
Should I apprehend him? Under what authority? There was still no proof that he had killed Hyein. So, should I just let him go? But then, should I see him again? Does that imply he will return?
No, prior to that, did he kill Hyein, or didn’t he?
A plethora of question marks floated in his mind. Only after Nox’s figure had vanished entirely did Beohan cover his face with one hand. His desire wasn’t Yoo Hyein, yet the last words, “Shinbihan,” reverberated in his ears. Thump, thump, his heart, which had started pounding with vigor, now ached.
Tap, tap. The sound of Beohan rhythmically tapping the desk continued.
“Ugh, so distracted! What’s going on? Huh? Why do you spend the whole day lost in thought?”
The man sitting across from Beohan abruptly stood up and yelled. His nametag read ‘Yoon Jiwon,’ Special Crime Investigation Team. He, about Beohan’s age, had also been scouted by Chief Kang Taewook to transfer here. Unlike Beohan, a desk expert, he preferred hands-on problem-solving.
Upon their first encounter, Beohan thought he resembled a poodle. His handshake and beaming smile emitted a friendly vibe, and his curly hair looked touchably soft. Despite being my age, he appeared younger. He seemed fitting for the Youth Guidance Department, yet astonishingly, he hailed from the Violent Crimes Division. Moreover, he excelled in athleticism.
With that appearance, he won the Police Agency’s martial arts competition? Truly astounding.
After joining the Special Crime Investigation Team, Jiwon had invited Beohan to a sparring session, concerned about his fitness after a week. Remembering how he was effortlessly thrown by Jiwon when he mindlessly agreed, his tongue still felt numb.
“Shinbihan! I mean your fingers, your fingers!”
Jiwon couldn’t tolerate it any longer and seized Beohan’s tapping fingers.
Only then did he realize his actions and apologized. Jiwon heaved a deep sigh, seemingly relieved.
“Why are you like this today? You seem completely out of it.”
Even while complaining, thumping his chest as though it might burst, Beohan gazed at him, deep in thought.
Due to Jiwon’s endeavor to make him pay attention, grabbing his ears on both sides and tugging at them, Beohan had no option but to face him. Even as he inquired while chuckling, Beohan pondered earnestly.
“Does talking solve anything?”
“Isn’t it better than solitary contemplation?”
They say two heads are better than one, he exclaimed loudly. Beohan regarded him for a moment, as if on the verge of saying something, then turned his head as though deciding to let it go. Perhaps Jiwon interpreted this as him raising his voice, for he grumbled even more.
Unlike Beohan, who carefully considered before speaking, Yoon Jiwon tended to blurt out whatever was on his mind at the moment. It was intriguing how he remained candid even as an adult, and it had an endearing quality as well. As I watched him, it seemed to lift Beohan’s spirits, which had settled, causing his mood to rise once again, almost as if they were synchronized.
“Just a bit… There’s something I can’t grasp, and I don’t know the language.”
If he didn’t get an answer, he appeared like the type to grasp your collar and shake you until you did.
“What are you saying?”
Observing his eyes twinkle with curiosity, Beohan couldn’t help but chuckle again. While Beohan’s strengths lay in honesty and physical coordination, his weaknesses were evident in tasks that demanded thinking. He might not properly understand English, yet he was asking about a foreign word beyond my comprehension. Still, witnessing his eyes sparkle like a dog in front of a treat, he couldn’t find it in himself to give up and look away.
“Dragostea Mea? Meea? I’m not entirely certain.”
Those were Nox’s words. He repeated the same phrase on the night Hyein died and on the day he visited Beohan’s house. On the first occasion, I couldn’t recollect clearly, given it was a language I had never heard. However, now that I had encountered it a second time, I had a vague memory. It wasn’t English, French, or German. To run it through a translation engine, I needed to identify the language, but I was currently stuck replaying Nox’s voice.
Excess thoughts jumbled together, creating noise within my mind. With the memory of him uttering those words close to my nose, and even his breath coming back to life, I felt irrationally heated. Regardless of how much I contemplated, I couldn’t discern his thoughts. Thus, I felt more like I was being pulled toward him, which left me uneasy.
Jiwon, looking smug, pushed Beohan’s chair aside and positioned himself in front of his computer. Curious about his intent, I gazed at him, and he confidently launched an internet browser, accessing a portal site known as the ‘universal knowledge repository.’ It wasn’t as though I hadn’t previously recommended translation engines to Beohan. As he didn’t know the language, he couldn’t even decipher the spelling, ultimately leading him to close it in frustration.
“Dragosta? D, R, A, G, O, S, T, A….”
Due to Jiwon audaciously typing the letters into the search bar, I was taken aback and erupted into laughter. Ignorant but bold, he certainly…
“Oh? Is this it?”
Search engines were genuinely remarkable. When he typed ‘dragosta’ and misspelled it, the system kindly inquired if he meant to search for ‘dragostea.’ With a grin, Jiwon clicked on the revised search outcome. Multiple posts and blog entries emerged containing that word.
“Could it be Romanian?”
After verifying through a post that it was, in fact, Romanian, he opened a web translator. Setting it to Romanian, he properly typed the word. Love. Those two letters appeared vividly in the Korean translation box. Unintentionally, my brow furrowed. Love? Love, he mentioned? Just that word left its meaning unclear. Evidently, Jiwon was in the same predicament, as he queried the subsequent word.
Responding with an almost ‘I can’t believe it’ sentiment, Jiwon confidently typed ‘mea’ after ‘dragostea,’ as it sounded. His audacity amused me so much that I burst into laughter. Ignorant but bold, and he was correct…
“Why does your face look like that? Have you figured it out?”
Beohan stretched his hand casually, mentioning it wasn’t a big issue. Maybe because he was deep in thought, his temples throbbed. He considered heading out to wash his face, and while rising from his seat with that idea, the door to the Special Crime Investigation Team office opened, and Chief Kang Taewook entered.
“There’s a case here. Yoon Jiwon, Shinbihan, follow both of them. We’re going to the scene to confirm.”
In contrast to Jiwon, who appeared excited about going to the scene, Beohan’s expression grew stern. Inquiring about the nature of the scene Chief Kang mentioned wasn’t necessary. Fangs. The instant that word popped into his mind, his heart clenched.
Due to her profession, she lived alone. Apart from being around the same age as Hyein, they didn’t share any common traits. Similarly, just like Hyein’s situation, there were two distinct puncture marks on the victim’s neck. Given the improbable chance of an animal appearing in the heart of Seoul, only one possibility remained.
“I can’t grasp it. Why on earth would they do this all of a sudden?”
Chief Kang, with a grave expression, muttered as he examined the body.
“All of a sudden?”
Raising his head at Jiwon’s query, he looked around the room and noticed Beohan avoiding eye contact. Gesturing for him to come closer, Beohan turned around.
“Did you check the gap between the two puncture marks?”
Beohan nodded. Both in Hyein’s case and the previous one, the gap between the fangs was precisely the same. Even though it might not be immediately apparent, Beohan had measured the precision down to 1 millimeter using computer analysis.
“What about this case?”
“Based on my initial assessment, it’s hard to say. If you take photos, I’ll measure accurately later for comparison.”
“Can’t you tell by looking now? It seems like the work of the same perpetrator, doesn’t it?”
Posing the question in that manner eliminated the need for words. If more than one person was committing these peculiar crimes, it was horrifying in itself.
Of course… Nox, could it be him?
Just the mere thought of him caused Beohan’s heart to race vigorously.
“What should we do with the body?”
When one of the officers approached and inquired, Chief Kang instructed to send it to the forensic lab to ascertain the exact cause of death. Though the visible results were already evident, there remained a small hope that something previously overlooked might be discovered.
“I’ll have a look around.”
The lingering scent of blood in the room made him dizzy. While Jiwon had been more field-oriented, transitioning to crime scene investigation remained challenging for Beohan, who had primarily dealt with cybercrime investigations.
Exiting the victim’s apartment, he climbed the stairs. His aim was to reach the rooftop and catch some fresh air. Upon reaching the top, he noticed a firmly closed iron door. Luckily, it wasn’t locked, so he undid the latch and pushed forcefully.
With a screech, the heavy iron door moved, emitting a loud noise. Simultaneously, as the door opened, the streaming sunlight was blinding, causing him to lift his hand to shield his eyes. Still, the cool breeze made it feel like he could breathe once more. Inhaling deeply, Beohan widened his eyes upon seeing a figure amidst the light, their form clearly visible.
Nox…! He stood against the backdrop of the setting sun.
Why is he here again? Why does he appear every time a case unfolds…?
Suddenly, he realized he stood perfectly under the sun.
Didn’t they call him a vampire? But how could he stand under the sun? Wasn’t he a vampire? No words came out.
The one who found Beohan smiled mischievously. As if he had been waiting, Beohan felt heat rush belatedly.
“Why are you here?”
With a firm step, he approached. Meeting at crime scenes multiple times wasn’t coincidence. This time, he had to catch the perpetrator.
“Shinbihan, why are you here?”
He answered playfully, smiling. Thinking he was teased, Beohan gritted his teeth. Swearing not to be played by Nox anymore, he took out handcuffs. Despite the intense look, Nox didn’t avoid them. As Beohan neared, Nox observed with a smile, leaning in.
“Noxferia Vlad Grace, under arrest as murder suspect. Right to remain silent, consult attorney. Uh!”
As Beohan filled Nox’s left hand with handcuffs and recited Miranda rights, he was taken aback as Nox’s right arm wrapped around his shoulders. No threat or tension. As if embraced, Nox’s lips brushed Beohan’s ear.
“Arrested by you, not bad.”
Ticklish whispered voice made Beohan flinch and hunch.
“But after you arrest me, I feel like you’ll leave my side.”
Grinning mischievously, he let go and stepped back. Beohan’s hand gripping handcuffs remained suspended.
“Also, I’m not the murder suspect.”
Soft smile formed, graceful. He seemed at ease, unaffected by being labeled.
“Then why do you keep showing up at crime scenes?”
Beohan clenched a fist. Vampire who can bewitch.
“It’s foolish to conclude my presence correlates to a crime.”
What an undeniable statement. But if not him, then who else?
“Are you… actually a vampire?”
Why inquire about something so absurd?
Instead, Nox grinned, yet his smile was tinged with sadness, and his narrowed eyes seemed to hold tears. Beohan felt a strange shift in his mood.
Could he be the murderer? Why do I have this feeling?
Lost in thought, Beohan paused. A murderer… ‘might not be’… When did certainty transform into doubt?
Nox’s gentle voice snapped Beohan back. For now, the man in front appeared to be a likely suspect. Focus was necessary.
“What’s visible isn’t always the truth.”
Nox tugged at the handcuffs, causing Beohan’s upper body to lean.
“Just as a vampire like me can stand under the sun.”
Vampire…! As he acknowledged the reality of their existence, his mind raced. When their eyes locked, Beohan’s pupils dilated. Nox’s emerald eyes, once gray, now emitted a crimson glow. Amidst this surreal scene, the weight of the handcuffs on his arm lifted. Startled, he turned around and noticed that the handcuffs he should have been holding were now empty loops, swaying.
How did this happen? Without entertaining any doubt, he instinctively raised his head. Nox, who stood before him just a moment ago, had completely vanished. Beohan’s mouth hung open, and his unblinking eyes stared into thin air.
Experiencing possession by a ghost—or more accurately, a vampire—felt like this.
Only after a long while, he heard Jiwon’s voice from below and collapsed to the floor. Since Nox’s arrival, everything had spiraled into chaos.
His hands were busy manipulating the keyboard and mouse. Even though the monitor’s display changed frequently, Beohan didn’t miss a single character, absorbing all the information. As time passed, his brow furrowed. Jiwon, seated across with arms folded, observed intently, his face showing annoyance.
“What’s the problem today?”
With a frustrated push of his face forward, Beohan asked, but Jiwon seemed too engrossed to pay attention. It was only after knocking on his desk that Jiwon raised his head slightly.
“Shinbihan! Why do you always get lost in thought on your own? We’re partners, you know. You get it, right?”
Despite Beohan’s complaints and puffed cheeks, his gaze remained fixed on the monitor.
“Don’t space out.”
Thunk. A pile of papers swirled and hit Jiwon’s head. Although it wasn’t painful, it caught Beohan off guard. He turned and saw Chief Kang Taewook. Beohan made a subtle bow-like gesture, hardly noticeable by Chief Kang.
“I’ve accessed the requested data. Did you verify it?”
Chief Kang Taewook’s words prompted Beohan to nod. He had just confirmed it.
“It seems that Nox’s arrival date is bothering you.”
Only then did Jiwon widen his eyes, realizing the topic, and leaned closer to inspect the monitor. Beohan pointed to Nox’s entry record for Jiwon’s convenience.
“Here. If you take a look, you’ll see that Nox’s arrival coincides with the date of Yoo Hyein’s death.”
“What’s that about?”
“Is your head just for decoration?”
Chief Kang Taewook playfully grabbed at Jiwon’s head again.
“Ugh! Why do you keep hitting me? If you keep picking on me and my already-problematic head gets worse, it’s your fault!”
“Why would I be responsible for you?”
Chief Kang retorted with a straightforward answer, causing Jiwon to pout.
“If it was something I should be held accountable for, it’d be different.”
Chief Kang mumbled softly. Angrily, Jiwon was about to fire back, but he caught Beohan’s gaze and swallowed his retort, offering a wry smile. Chief Kang shifted his attention to Beohan, stroked his chin, and seemed lost in thought.
“Could vampires also be exempt from spatial limitations?”
Speaking to himself almost as an afterthought, Beohan muttered. Jiwon’s eyes blinked rapidly, and Chief Kang scratched his chin, looking unsure.
“Why’s that on your mind?”
Chief Kang Taewook eyed Jiwon, who was still in the dark, as though he were surprised, then playfully stuck out his tongue.
“You’ve practically turned your brain into a muscle.”
Before his anger escalated, Chief Kang Taewook clicked the mouse and opened the case journal file. He pointed to the date of the murder that had occurred prior to Yoo Hyein’s.
“If you have eyes, use them.”
Jiwon, who had been grumbling about the relevance, finally fell silent.
“Do you get it now?”
“It happened before he even came to the country.”
Almost sighing in disbelief, Beohan managed to catch himself and suppressed the sound. He seriously questioned the wisdom of bringing this guy into the Special Crime Investigation Team.
“Are you trying to make Nox a suspect for events that took place even before he arrived? That’s the heart of the matter!”
Despite his air of certainty, he lowered his head, mirroring Beohan’s posture.
“Even without that, I consulted the Hunter Association, but they were uncertain as well. Besides blood-drinking, special abilities are said to be confined to pure-blooded vampires and those with highly concentrated blood. Even if we consider Nox a pure-blooded vampire, the consensus is that relying solely on the ability to travel from Europe to Korea is implausible. Some even believe that among the pure-blooded, we can’t gauge the full extent of Nox’s abilities.”
“That sounds pretty convenient. Can they just fly around anywhere they want?”
As soon as he heard the explanation, Jiwon’s response slipped out. Chief Kang Taewook couldn’t help but let out a deep sigh this time.
“Is being at ease the priority now? Huh?”
Even Beohan, usually reserved, couldn’t hold back a chuckle. However, his expression turned serious as he returned to the monitor. Regardless of how powerful one’s abilities were, flying from Europe to Korea was simply not feasible. Psychic ability? Even if we likened a vampire’s capabilities to psychic powers, could that truly be possible?
Chief Kang Taewook clarified that a vampire’s ability to move wasn’t comparable to teleportation. Thus, flying directly, in any form, was implausible. Could an occurrence like that, happening twice, genuinely be considered believable? If it were, was Nox’s entry into the country at that time necessary? Furthermore, despite being aware that he was a prime suspect, why did he stay in Korea?
“Something about this just doesn’t sit right…”
Finally, Beohan picked up his jacket and stood up from his seat.
“Where are you headed?”
Without looking back, Beohan attempted to leave, but Jiwon grabbed onto him.
“To see that guy, Nox.”
Both Chief Kang Taewook and Jiwon were taken aback by the casual response.
Jiwon inquired, and Beohan nodded towards the monitor. Information related to the Grace Conchern, which Beohan had researched earlier, was displayed there.
“Still, Grace Group’s subsidiaries are likely scattered throughout Seoul. Where are you planning to go?”
Chief Kang Taewook asked. Beohan shrugged.
“It’s after work hours, so they won’t be at their affiliates. Unless he’s out hunting humans, he would’ve ‘clocked out’.”
Chief Kang Taewook burst into hearty laughter at the logical words. He even added that using his brain was better than Jiwon’s cunning. When Jiwon shot a sharp look at Chief Kang Taewook in response, he simply grinned.
“I’m coming along.”
Jiwon trailed after Beohan. He didn’t necessarily need to accompany, but he believed that if he left alone, he might end up arguing with Chief Kang Taewook, so he stayed.
“Oh, come on. I really don’t get what’s bothering him. Why does he focus on me only?”
Jiwon grumbled incessantly as he followed Beohan. Though Beohan sensed that Jiwon’s frustration wasn’t solely due to his appearance, he didn’t see the need to explain, so he brushed it off.
Upon stepping into the lobby of the Grace Hotel, Jiwon couldn’t help but be taken aback. Beohan had never had a reason to visit such an upscale hotel before, so he shared a similar sentiment. Jiwon’s reaction was so exaggerated that it even brought a smile to Beohan’s face.
“I assumed he might be here, but how should we meet? Should I just ask to see him?”
“Well, let’s give it a shot. If that doesn’t work, we can always consider the option of barging in. That’s why I brought you along.”
Jiwon fixed his gaze on Beohan, who mentioned barging in so casually.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Considering your appearance, you’re surprisingly daring.”
It was intriguing to hear the term “barging in” come from Beohan. For the sake of argument, let’s say you respond that you’re the strongest; then he shifted his attention to the front desk.
“How may I assist you, sir?”
The hotel staff inquired with a charming smile.
“I’m here to meet Noxferia Vlad Grace. Can you please confirm the room he’s staying in?”
The staff appeared to be a lower-level employee and didn’t recognize Nox’s name or identity. Since it involved guest information, they provided a standard response that they couldn’t disclose his room number.
“Do you even know who the hotel owner is? I’m here to meet the person in charge of this place!”
Jiwon intervened from the side. Only then did the staff seem flustered and made a call. After a while, a man in his mid-thirties came down. Beohan was facing Jiwon, who was quietly murmuring about how the higher-ups might not recognize Nox’s face. However, Beohan turned to the manager and displayed his police badge while introducing himself.
“I’m from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. I’d like to meet Noxferia Vlad Grace.”
In contrast to the front desk staff, the manager was well aware of that name, and he couldn’t hide his unease.
“What has prompted the police agency’s personnel to visit our leader?”
“Should I explain that to the manager?”
Confronted with Beohan’s composed response, the manager began to sweat slightly and made a call. After a brief conversation, he nodded a few times and turned to Beohan.
“May I ask for your name, sir?”
He reported as he had been instructed. He ended the call shortly after.
“The Chief would like you to proceed to the room where our leader is staying.”
Jiwon’s eyes widened at the manager’s statement. What? Could it be this simple? His expression seemed to convey exactly that. Beohan internally stifled a sigh. Maybe… he hoped. Reflecting on their interactions, it didn’t seem likely that Nox would dismiss me after I’ve come this far. However, that was still his optimistic speculation. Without a warrant and solid evidence, the chances of the police gaining easy access were slim.
“Top floor. There’s a dedicated elevator on this side.”
Following the manager’s lead, they walked, and Jiwon glanced back at Beohan.
“Sorry, but the other person can’t come.”
“What’s going on now?” Jiwon protested, looking flustered. Beohan swallowed uneasily. Meeting him as some sort of representative, recognized as a vampire, was nerve-wracking. Jiwon seemed to share the concern as he firmly insisted on accompanying them.
Beohan used his hand to stop Jiwon.
“Hey! What’s happening?”
“If it’s significant enough for me, your presence won’t change anything.”
“That’s not true!”
Repeating his stance firmly, Jiwon let out a reluctant sigh. Beohan gave his shoulder a reassuring pat.
“Meanwhile, explore a bit. You never know what might turn up.”
After calming the unwilling Jiwon, Beohan entered the elevator as guided by the manager. The manager swiped a card key, and the elevator automatically ascended to the top floor. The doors closed, leaving only the hum of the machinery.
What do I want to confirm? Is he the culprit? Or not?
Alone without Jiwon, unease briefly set in. He had come for a simple inquiry. Summoning his courage, a ding signaled their arrival on the top floor.
The doors slid open, revealing the living room of the presidential suite. At its center stood Nox, arms crossed, leaning against a sofa, his eyes fixed on Beohan.
As their gazes met, a smirk appeared on Nox’s lips. His relaxed demeanor made Beohan, who had been tense moments earlier, feel somewhat foolish.
“Quite an honor to have you here.”
“I’m here for a witness interview, not for an honor.”
With a curt response, Beohan stepped forward. Nox motioned towards a sofa around a table. Muttering an apology, Beohan headed there and took a seat. Nox, observing Jiwon, sat down opposite.
“I have a few questions.”
He aimed to wrap this up quickly and leave. This man unnerved him. Vampire or not, it wasn’t just that. An indescribable unease gnawed at him.
“Relax a little. I’m in the mood for a playful prank.”
Frustrated, he looked up to see Nox’s smile. Who said a vampire couldn’t make jokes? The contradiction was amusing. He found it odd that he was so engaged in responding.
Taking a slow exhale, he calmed himself. He was here as a detective, not caring whether Nox was human or vampire. To him, Nox was simply a suspect.
“On the day of Yoo Hyein’s murder, did you enter the country?”
Without a word, Nox nodded. Beohan retrieved two photos from his jacket pocket – images of the victims from the previous murders before Hyein’s.
“Have you seen these women before?”
After asking, he closely observed Nox’s face. However, there was no sign of recognition in Nox’s expression. He briefly glanced at the photos and shook his head.
Could the previous cases be unrelated to him? If so, how could the bite marks on Hyein’s neck perfectly match those from the earlier cases?
Could Nox not be the culprit?
A peculiar sense of relief washed over him, but he promptly chastised himself for feeling that way. Nothing had been definitively proven. To clear his mind, he brushed his bangs off his forehead.
“Why were you in Hyein’s room? And why were you on the rooftop of that apartment building yesterday?”
Nox maintained his smile. He met Beohan’s gaze directly and casually answered.
“I would have told you it’s because Shinbihan was there.”
It wasn’t a joke, yet its meaning eluded him. Nox’s eyes held a seriousness that made it difficult to dismiss it as a mere evasion of the question.
Yes, those eyes are imposing.
Despite his playful grin, Nox’s gaze was relentless and almost intimidating whenever their eyes locked. Even though he appeared to smile, his eyes did not. It was unsettling, as if he could peer into his soul…
As thoughts swirled, silence hung in the air. Disliking the awkwardness, he cleared his throat, shifted his gaze away from Nox, and turned slightly aside. No solid evidence pointed to Nox as the culprit. In fact, considering he wasn’t in Korea during the previous cases, the possibility of him not being the culprit was higher. Thus, it was unclear what further inquiries were necessary.
“May I ask some personal questions?”
Nox shrugged, readily agreeing.
“How far can a vampire travel using their abilities?”
Implicitly inquiring about the possibility of traveling overnight from Europe to Korea, he asked openly. Nox understood the intention and smirked.
“It varies, but for me, around 300 kilometers, give or take.”
300 kilometers… that’s barely the straight-line distance from Seoul to Busan. If his words were accurate, traveling from Europe to Korea would be impossible.
“Under ideal conditions, that is.”
His mischievous smile cast doubt on his reliability. He briefly bit his lower lip before releasing it. Since he was already in this situation, he might as well ask all his questions and then depart. Given Nox’s current demeanor, he appeared likely to answer truthfully.
“Aren’t vampires weak against sunlight?”
Yesterday, he stood under the sun. Until then, he had been skeptical about Nox being a vampire. Even though the existence of the International Hunter Association and the information provided by Chief Kang Taewook supported the notion of vampires, accepting it was challenging. However, yesterday, Nox had vanished before his eyes like the wind. The handcuffs he had readied were useless.
Now, he had no doubt that Nox was a vampire. But if that were the case, he was unlike any vampire he knew. The first difference was how casually he moved in sunlight.
“Weak, still. More sensitive to UV radiation than humans. A brief moment in the sun, and your skin could burn.”
“Lies! Yesterday, you…”
“But it’s the 21st century, isn’t it?”
Nox rose and retrieved a capsule pill and a lotion tube from a living room cabinet. Both bore the Grace Pharmaceuticals logo. The lotion was casually labeled ‘Sunscreen.’
“Technological advancements aren’t limited to humans. This is vampire-specific sunscreen. It helps withstand sunlight. It’s not foolproof against intense sunlight, but it’s effective for cloudy days or during sunset. Just use it regularly.”
“What’s this pill for?”
Pointing at the capsule pill, Nox smiled slightly.
“Perhaps an answer for your next question?”
Upon hearing about an answer for a question he hadn’t posed yet, Beohan frowned. He truly disliked that speculative tone, as if Nox knew what he was about to ask.
“How could I possibly know what I’m going to ask?”
With a concise response, Nox opened the capsule, causing white powder to spill onto the table.
“Do vampires truly kill and feed on humans? Isn’t that what you’re curious about?”
He couldn’t ignore it. Vampires and bloodsucking. Weren’t these two concepts closely intertwined? Just as he was about to suppress his thoughts, Nox picked up some powder from the table with his finger and touched it to his own tongue. Observing his tongue flick out to lick the finger felt strangely sensual and embarrassing.
“Vampires feed because their absolute hemoglobin levels are low. This is concentrated hemoglobin in powdered form.”
“Are you implying someone can survive without feeding…?”
“Of course, some vampires still feed. The predatory instinct mixed with blood is akin to animals. But that doesn’t justify murder.”
At that moment, Nox’s expression turned serious. The earlier playfulness vanished, replaced by a chilling atmosphere.
“In our world, we abide by our own rules. It’s wiser to coexist with humans than to eliminate them. Openly and repeatedly violating those rules is out of the question for regular vampires unless they want to attract the attention of authorities. Maybe it’s different for purebloods. That’s likely why your Hunter Association or your team put me at the top of their hit list, right?”
Could this imply that the recent incidents were a form of rebellion among vampires as well?
Beohan widened his eyes, sensing that he had missed something.
“There are pureblood vampires in Korea besides you.”
Nox didn’t answer directly; he merely arched an eyebrow slightly and offered a smile.
Beohan sprang up abruptly. Assuming that only Nox was a pureblood was foolish. He needed to return to the investigation headquarters immediately, report this to Chief Kang Taewook, and uncover who else might be in Korea. However, Beohan found himself paralyzed in his tracks. Nox had a firm hold on his wrist, restraining him.
Seated on the couch, Nox continued to grip his wrist tightly. He wasn’t making eye contact with Beohan.
“If you suspect me of being the culprit, then pursue me until the end.”
What kind of conversation was this again? All the signs of his actions and the unfolding circumstances were pointing toward a different perpetrator. Yet, he was being urged to chase after himself?
Slowly, Nox turned his head. Looking up at Beohan, their gazes locked.
Until the end… Nox…
It felt like those same words were echoing in his ears, creating an odd illusion.
“This is absurd, ugh!”
He attempted to free his captured hand, but Nox grasped it so firmly that he didn’t even flinch.
“Let go of me!”
As Nox rose from his seat, Beohan’s attention was captured. Due to his wrist being held, their proximity became unusually intimate.
“If I haven’t killed your fiancée…”
His soft voice silenced his resistance. In that instant, staring directly into his eyes, Beohan couldn’t even blink.
“Will you be my lover?”
As if reignited, those words returned like a reverie. Beohan pulled his arm, forcefully breaking free from Nox’s grip.
“Don’t mock me! I’m a man. What kind of prank…”
Unable to continue his words, Beohan’s eyes widened. Nox, having clasped the back of Beohan’s head, was kissing him.
The sensation of Nox’s tongue brushing against his lips brought him back to his senses. Beohan vigorously pushed Nox away. Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he glared at him. Unlike Beohan, who grew intense, Nox remained composed.
Mumbling as he wiped his mouth and spat, Nox simply shrugged.
“Attributing my actions to being a man would offend gay people all around the world.”
In response to the unexpected accusation, Beohan tightly clenched his fist. Nox’s gaze fixated on his tightly clenched fist.
“Your reflexes aren’t great. You’re too quick to throw a punch.”
Ha, Nox’s flippant attitude was exasperating, and a hollow laugh escaped Beohan. When their gazes locked, the slightly smirking expression on Nox’s face fueled Beohan’s frustration even more. Not great reflexes? This was purely a defensive reaction. Swiftly, he swung his fist, but Nox shifted his body back, effortlessly evading it.
“Give it a shot.”
With a clicking sound, Nox grabbed Beohan’s wrist as he lunged forward. Involuntarily, Beohan’s body tensed. As Nox’s face drew closer, Beohan retreated. Though he was half expecting another kiss, he braced himself.
“I just wanted to show that I’m serious.”
Beohan’s struggle to free his hand from Nox’s grip halted at his intimate whisper. Beohan’s hand trembled, caught in Nox’s hold. Nox’s face drew nearer, causing Beohan to move his body back. Even though he didn’t want to admit it, he tensed, fearing he might be kissed again.
“If this isn’t a joke, I just want you to know.”
At Nox’s soft whisper, Beohan’s attempt to wriggle his hand free ceased. Beohan’s gaze remained locked onto Nox’s face, their eyes meeting. The playful glint from a moment ago faded, replaced by a serious stare that bore into him. Why was he looking at him with those eyes? Beohan couldn’t fathom it. They had only crossed paths a few times.
“Seeing it will make you understand, whether it’s a man or a woman. To me, it doesn’t matter.”
With those words, Beohan’s pupils quivered. So why? He couldn’t grasp why this man was doing this to him. Did vampires disregard gender? No, even if that’s the case, why me…
Nox’s unwavering gaze grew increasingly burdensome. Thump, thump, his heartbeat raced, almost as if it might burst from his chest. He couldn’t fathom this reaction of his heart. Truly… it felt like he was possessed by a spirit.
“Gender doesn’t matter, whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s all the same. Not because you’re a man, I simply dislike it. Don’t touch me again. I might just end your life.”
Seeing Beohan so infuriated that he trembled, Nox smiled softly. A threat to kill, facing a vampire… And against the leader of the purebloods, even the International Hunter Association wouldn’t dare confront directly. Perhaps because he hadn’t yet fully understood their kind. That’s why he appeared utterly endearing. It had been so long since he had genuinely seen someone angry at him. 500 years… That much time had elapsed.
Seeming uninterested in further interaction, Beohan turned around suddenly. He marched towards the elevator, and Nox didn’t try to stop him. After all, he hadn’t planned to win Beohan’s affections today. He was just a bit happy that Beohan had come to see him.
As Beohan entered the elevator, his gaze shifted to Nox. As the doors closed, he saw Nox waving with a smile. Only when the doors were fully shut did Beohan let out a heavy exhale, sinking down to the floor. To have lived long enough for a man’s kiss… No, a vampire’s kiss… He covered his forehead with his hand and stared at the ceiling. His heart was still racing wildly. He was unsure now. Was his heart racing due to a momentary fear of Nox, or…?
“Don’t be absurd.”
He whispered to himself. Trembling and with his heart pounding, that was surely just a misunderstanding.
‘Will you be my lover?’
‘I just wanted you to know I’m serious…’
‘Whether you’re a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter to me.’
Nox’s voice reverberated in his mind, making Beohan sit up suddenly with a gasp. Though still groggy from lack of sleep, Nox’s face was etched vividly in his memory. However he thought about it, he wasn’t thinking rationally. Since coming back from the Grace Hotel last night, he couldn’t shake off thoughts of Nox.
Could it be anger? Was he frustrated he hadn’t punched Nox properly after the kiss? If so, how should he explain this?
Beohan pressed his hand firmly against his chest. Since yesterday, his racing heart hadn’t calmed down. Now it was pounding near his chest with such intensity.
What was that trivial kiss? It wasn’t his first kiss, and he wasn’t young enough to lose sleep over a single kiss. In reality, the kiss, although somewhat embarrassing, wasn’t all that intense. The problem was that his heart started pounding as if it would burst, as if that kiss had lit a fuse.
This state of his was the most perplexing. He went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. He wiped the foggy mirror with his hand and looked at his reflection. It was his face he saw every day, yet it felt unfamiliar somehow. Nox’s face seemed to overlay his own like an illusion.
Ugh. This is really getting on my nerves.
Beohan roughly grabbed a towel and left the bathroom. It would be best to dismiss the kiss as if it never happened. Nox kept coming to his mind because he was a strong suspect in the ongoing murder case. And because he… was a vampire.
Apart from Nox, there might be other pureblood vampires who had entered the country. Upon receiving this report, the Special Crimes Investigation Team had to adjust their investigation direction. Chief Kang Taewook requested information from the International Hunter Association about other pureblood vampires. Leaning back against his chair, Kang Taewook rubbed his temples with one hand as if in pain.
“With so few purebloods in existence, and now another one here? Could they have some hidden agenda in Korea?”
Jiwon tilted his head slightly. True. He responded casually, but even Beohan couldn’t fully grasp that point. Korea wasn’t originally a hotspot for vampire activity, nor was it a huge country for them to gain significant benefits. Even if a part of Grace Corporation operated domestically, compared to the corporation’s total profits, it was like a small addition.
“They must have a goal. We should think about pureblood vampires moving because they must be searching for something in Korea, right?”
Even Chief Kang, who said this, had a serious face. “I don’t know what that is,” Beohan muttered quietly. A purpose? Saying that someone like that man, who always seemed without purpose, has an objective? It’s true that you shouldn’t judge people only from appearances, but from the way he treated me until now, it was hard to expect anything serious.
“Vampirization all over South Korea, is that happening?”
Jiwon said with a puzzled look. Suddenly and strangely, Chief Kang clenched his fists in frustration.
“Why? Are they creating a front for world control?”
It was a sarcastic remark, and Jiwon responded by thumping his right fist into his left hand, making a sharp noise.
“Oh? Is that so?”
In the end, Chief Kang exclaimed in exasperation.
“Why did you say it if you’re going to be angry at me?”
Despite his stubborn retort, Beohan couldn’t help but laugh at Chief Kang’s irritated reactions. The image of Chief Kang, who initially seemed impenetrable, shattered when he was with Jiwon. I wonder if they realize they don’t look like a simple boss and subordinate? Well, it’s not my concern, so Beohan didn’t pay much attention to it.
As Beohan stood up, Chief Kang asked where he was going.
“National demand. We need to find connections among the victims. We might have missed something.”
“Me too! I want to come too.”
As Jiwon tried to follow, Chief Kang grabbed his collar from behind.
“Don’t wander aimlessly. Keep that in mind.”
When he put a tall stack of papers on Jiwon’s desk, he let out a small shriek.
“Personal information of the vampires sent by the International Hunter Association.”
“Why do I have to memorize this?”
“If you encounter them on the street, you need to apprehend them. Your only skill is physical, so if you can’t recognize their faces, be ready to undress.”
At the serious threat, Jiwon covered his chest with both hands.
“Why do I have to undress someone else?”
Chief Kang let out a long sigh. Trembling, he held Jiwon’s head and spoke sternly.
“Who told you to undress them? I’m telling you to be prepared to undress if you can’t identify them by their faces!”
Realizing a bit late, Jiwon covered his face and lowered his head. Beohan laughed and left the office. Thanks to Jiwon, he could momentarily set aside thoughts of Nox and smile.
Arriving at the police headquarters’ parking lot, Beohan opened the car door with his remote key. Just as he was about to get in and drive, someone grabbed his shoulder from behind. Instinctively, he bent forward and twisted the arm on his shoulder. However, the other person quickly grabbed his arm from the opposite side and twisted it back. Trying to outpower each other, but ultimately being outpowered, Beohan lifted his head with a somewhat annoyed expression. He saw Nox with sunglasses on, giving a cunning smile.
“You have a bad habit with your hands.”
Saying that, Nox released the arm he had held. Even though one arm was held by Nox, Beohan was overpowered with just the other hand, which hurt his pride. He glared at Nox, lips firmly pressed. When their eyes met, Nox’s smile deepened. Honestly, he couldn’t understand his intentions.
To think a murder suspect would be leisurely in the middle of the police headquarters. This was baffling, though intriguing. Could vampires escape whenever they wished?
“I was waiting, and you came out sooner than I thought. If you took longer, I debated whether to go in and find you.”
Sighing, Beohan breathed a sigh of relief. Just reaching the parking lot was impressive, but trying to enter the police headquarters itself… Was this arrogance only possible because he was a vampire?
“You’re supposed to come in, right? If that’s the case, we could have avoided the hassle of obtaining a separate summons.”
With a cold response and an expressionless face, Beohan replied. Nox smiled even wider, unfazed by his words.
“I refrained because I thought it might interrupt your work. But it seems that wasn’t necessary. Next time, I’ll make sure to find you.”
Though he wanted to punch him, Beohan simply turned around. He felt there was nothing to gain by engaging with Nox. As he was about to get into the car, Nox grabbed his shoulder from behind and pulled him back.
“What are you doing?”
When Beohan snapped and yelled, Nox let go and smiled gracefully. Thump, his heart that had just calmed down began to race again. Not wanting Nox to notice his heart’s reaction, Beohan swallowed his dry saliva and stared more stubbornly at Nox’s face.
“Let’s go on a date, Beohan.”
Facing the sun, Nox spoke gently. Thump, thump. His heart was pounding even louder than a moment ago.