The female customer cutely whined.
“Instead of coffee, can ’t I take more pictures of you?”

Kang Jin-Ho resolutely replied, ”…Out of the question. ”

“Don ’t be like that.”

“Miss, why do you need so many photos of me, anyway?” Kang Jin-Ho sighed and asked her.

“Because I ’m a fan?”

“…I ’m not a celebrity, miss.”

“And that ’s why I need lots of photos.”

“I don ’t follow?”

The female customer grinned brightly.
She rummaged through her bag, pulled out her wallet, then fished out her business card.
This is my job, you see?”

Kang Jin-Ho received the card and quietly read the words ’Lee Jae-In, an Illustrator ’ imprinted on its surface.
He tilted his head a little.

Specifically, it ’s my job to illustrate whatever pays the bills.
And my current assignments have me illustrating webnovel cover arts.”

What an unusual and novel job that was, at least from Kang Jin-Ho ’s perspective.
“I see.
However, what does that have to do with taking my photos?”

“Would you like to have a look?” Lee Jae-In placed her notebook PC on the table, then opened her image file.

“…!” Kang Jin-Ho stared in stupefaction at the drawing on the screen.
It depicted a man standing under the rainfall, his expression full of melancholy.
However, no matter how he blinked, that man ’s face was an exact facsimile of Kang Jin-Ho ’s face! “P-portrait rights…!”

“W-wait! I buy lots of coffee from here, you know! Three cups a day! And that ’s fifteen thousand won per day, you know! In a month, that ’s forty-five thousand! In a year, you ’re looking at five hundred and forty million won! That is a lot of money to borrow the likeness of a regular person, you know!”

“…Father! Cancel that free coffee!”

“It ’s already too late, you dummy!” Kang Yu-Hwan grinned brightly while placing the free cup of coffee on Lee Jae-In ’s table.
“Now that you mention it, that is a lot of money to spend in a year, isn ’t it?”

“Mister owner! Can ’t you make a coupon for me or something? Like, one out of ten cups is free?”

“I ’ll have to think about that, miss!”

Lee Jae-In smiled back at Kang Jin-Ho.
“Thanks to you, I now have a steady income to pay for all the coffee here.”

“…Thanks to me?” Kang Jin-Ho pointed at himself.

The thing is, drawing a cool-looking male character on the cover art is half the battle won, you see? My specialty is the romance genre, and…
Well, people liked my drawings but always complained about my male characters being a bit too forgettable and stuff.
After I began using your likeness, though? Even if I play hard to get and ask for a lot more money, they still agree to use my art.
Of course, I have also run into a new problem along the way.”

problem, you say?”

Lee Jae-In pouted while logging into a webnovel site, then accessed a comment section of a novel.

= Wow, look at that cover art! Lord Midas Hands has done it again!

= Look at the quality of the male lead! I ’m gonna be a real fan at this rate! I never thought I ’d go gaga over some cover art, you know!

= But, uh, this gent is also making his appearance here?

= Is this the birth of history ’s biggest playboy? He ’s appearing in all top three romance webnovels, you know?

= He might keel over from overwork at this rate.

Lee Jae-In pointed at the comment section.
“They all say the male characters look the same!”

“Well…” Kang Jin-Ho clamped his mouth while thinking that it was all because the male characters were indeed the same.

Lee Jae-In waited for Kang Jin-Ho to finish reading the comments, then continued to explain her situation, “That ’s why I need your photos, you see? So I can see your face from various different angles.
But, when I tried to take your photos through a DSLR camera, you vehemently opposed it, didn ’t you? That ’s why I resorted to using my phone camera.”[1]

“So that ’s what it was,” said Kang Yu-Hwan while nodding away.
He had already taken a seat opposite Lee Jae-In to listen to her explanation.
“However, in my opinion…
These people complaining about the male character looking the same are talking about the facial expression being too samey, and not picking fault with the way you drew him.”

Search for the original.

That can ’t be helped, you know?” Lee Jae-In pouted even more while taking out her phone to access its photo gallery.
She tapped on the folder icon marked ’Our dear model! ’ to reveal all the selfies she had taken with Kang Jin-Ho.
And as she flipped through the photos, Kang Yu-Hwan ’s expression began to harden.

“W-wait, are these composite photos?”

Lee Jae-In ’s clothes and poses changed from photo to photo, yet Kang Jin-Ho, he…! As if his image was cropped into each photo, Kang Jin-Ho maintained the exact same facial expression and posture.
Even worse, he was also wearing the cafe ’s uniform, so it was as if every photo was a copy-and-paste job!

Kang Yu-Hwan gasped.
“T-then, the reason why you took all those selfies was…!”

“Yes, exactly!” Lee Jae-In jumped up to her feet, then began rebuking Kang Jin-Ho.
“You are the reason why people are criticizing me for drawing the exact same faces, Mister Jin-Ho!”

Kang Yu-Hwan quickly chimed in.
“Yes, she ’s right, son! Don ’t you think this is too much?!”

“N-no, hang on a minute…” Kang Jin-Ho felt quite aggrieved by this dual assault and tried to defend himself.
“I simply humored you when you asked for selfies, so why…”

“Oh, my god! How can a person be so expressionless like you!”

“She ’s right, son! I might be your father, but you sometimes creep me out with how deadpan you are!”


Lee Jae-In seized this opportunity and shouted at him, “Please apologize!”

“I, I ’m sorry.” Kang Jin-Ho blurted out an apology in the heat of the moment.

Lee Jae-In smirked and assured him.
“I was only joking! Thanks to you, I ’m now putting lots of nice bread on my table.
So, I should be thanking you a hundred times over, you know?”

“Eiii, that can ’t be true,” said Kang Yu-Hwan while resolutely shaking his head.
Lee Jae-In was expecting some empty flattery like “Your drawing ability is responsible for your success, miss” from him, but she had underestimated the Kang patriarch a little too much.
“Let ’s be honest here, miss.
What did that kid ever do to deserve his face? It ’s all thanks to my genes, miss.”

“…I agree, mister owner.” Lee Jae-In bowed her head in Kang Yu-Hwan ’s direction as a sign of her gratitude.

Kang Yu-Hwan grinned brightly, then stared at his son and spoke in a firm voice, “Listen, Jin-Ho!”


“This lady here is our cafe ’s VIP! A true repeat customer!”

“…I ’m sorry?”

Kang Yu-Hwan ’s expression remained resolute.
“If she has no choice but to draw the exact same face and then receives criticism for it, her income will decrease!”

Lee Jae-In chimed in.
“Yes, so true!”

“Which means, her allowance to buy coffee will disappear!”

“Yes, so true!”

“Then, our cafe ’s revenue will fall! And I cannot bear to see that happen!”

“Your words are wise, mister cafe owner, sir!”

“And so, I urge you, my son…
Go over there and get into various poses while making different facial expressions!”

“And I ’ll snap lots of nice pictures!”

“…What on earth is going on here?” Kang Jin-Ho groaned unhappily, but he had no say in this matter.


Kang Jin-Ho plopped down on a chair with a gaunt face.
Kang Yu-Hwan grinned while pouring a refreshingly cold carbonated drink into a cup, then pushed it toward his son.
“Nice work, son.”

“…I think I know why models get paid so much for just one commercial, Father.”

Who knew that making poses and changing facial expressions could be so hard? Lee Jae-In was making a face of a sated cat while looking into her DSLR ’s screen.
She had finally acquired a cache of photos of Kang Jin-Ho making various facial expressions.
This was a treasure trove no one else on this Earth possessed!

She could barely suppress her grin.
“T-this is like a treasure among the illustrators drawing webnovel cover pages.
I, I should be paying you the modeling fees…”

“You buying our coffee is more than enough, miss.” Kang Yu-Hwan coolly nodded.

Why does it feel like you ’re claiming all my hard work for yourself? Am I…
just imagining things? Is that it?’

“I ’m really, truly grateful!” Lee Jae-In quickly trotted over to Kang Jin-Ho and tightly held his hands.
“Once I get paid for the next commission, I ’m gonna thank you properly!”

“No, it ’s fine.” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.

“No, it ’s not.
A person should know when to repay the favor, you know?” Lee Jae-In clenched her fist in determination.

Watching her response made Kang Jin-Ho chuckle inadvertently.
He could sense her passion for her work—her craft.
It was pure and wonderful to behold.
And it seemed to be rubbing off on him as well, as he also felt a little more energized than before.

“Oh, no! Look at the time! I wanted to go home after finishing up today ’s work, but it ’s already so late! Looks like I ’ll only get home in the middle of the night…” Lee Jae-In hurriedly packed her belongings.
Something about her movement seemed a bit scatterbrained, but it was heartwarming to watch nonetheless.

She shoved her DSLR camera and the notebook PC inside her bag with enough force to nearly break them.
After slinging the bag over her shoulder, she deeply bowed her head to say goodbye.
She kind of reminded Kang Jin-Ho of an elementary school kid carrying a huge schoolbag that was way too big for her little frame.
“I ’m really grateful.
I promise, the next illustration of you will be amazing!”

“No problem.”

“Well, then! See you later!” Lee Jae-In happily trotted away and exited the cafe.

Kang Yu-Hwan smiled gently as she disappeared from view.
“…It ’s nice to see someone like that, isn ’t it?”

“Yes, I agree.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded along.

“I ’d love to have a daughter like that, son.”

“Mm? What about Eun-Yeong, Father?”

“Well, she is my daughter, but…
Hmm, she ’s not exactly adorable…”

“Father, I ’m going to tell Eun-Yeong later.”

“Would you like some cake, son? How about some fried chicken?”

The power of fried chicken was the truth, no matter the occasion.


“Son, I ’m going to stop by my friend ’s place for a bit, so go on and head home first.
You didn ’t come in your car, right? I do want to drive you home, but, uh…
I’m kinda running late, you see.” Kang Yu-Hwan looked troubled as he spoke.

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“It ’s okay, Father.
It ’s practically around the corner, anyway.
I can walk home from here.”

“Didn ’t you hear about the homicide? Grab a taxi, son!”

“But, Father.
Do you really believe the murderer will target me?”


‘Obviously not.
Unless the murderer wants a royal beating, that is,’ Kang Yu-Hwan muttered inwardly

Kang Jin-Ho joining the cafe resulted in an extreme decrease in the number of rude customers.
Women behaved all nice and prim to make sure that Kang Jin-Ho wouldn’t get a bad impression of them, while male customers saw their anger management issues forcibly addressed.

“Still, no one knows what will happen, son.”

“I ’ll be careful.”

“Okay, I got it.
I ’ll be going now, son.” Kang Yu-Hwan finished closing up the cafe, then turned the ignition on his car.

Kang Jin-Ho leaned into the driver ’s door.
“Please don ’t drink and drive, Father.
If cops stop you for DUI, we ’re going to sell this car.”

“…I didn ’t know I had a policeman for a son?” Kang Yu-Hwan chuckled good-naturedly, then drove away while waving his hand at his son.

Kang Jin-Ho watched his father ’s car in the distance, then turned around to leave.

’Homicide, huh… ’

Indeed, he had noticed fewer people walking about on the street.
Back when he was a resident in Zhongyuan, people dying wasn ’t something shocking.
Unless it was some kind of serial killing, the level of panic a murder raised was no greater than a house break-in.
That was how cheap human life was back then.
But in this era, people were not jaded about murder.

From Kang Jin-Ho ’s perspective, the modern-era people were the weird ones, but…
But, even he knew that the one in the wrong was him, not everyone else.
Kang Jin-Ho should be matching their sensibilities, not the other way around.

He entered a garden trail located between apartment buildings, then looked around.
Wasn ’t there a smoking area before the entrance of the…

That was when his movements came to a sudden stop.

’Smell of blood…? ’

It was really faint, but he could definitely smell it.
The stench of blood was coming from somewhere in the trail.
Kang Jin-Ho shoved the cigarette packet back into his pocket and began running deeper into the garden.

’Is it this way? ’

The presence of blood didn ’t necessarily mean there was trouble.
However, the fact that he could smell blood despite the distance could only mean that the bleeding had to be serious.

Kang Jin-Ho jumped across the bushes without hesitation.
The stench of blood was coming from there.
He arrived at the rest stop built within the garden, but he couldn ’t see anything.
Not initially, at least.
He glared at the spotless garden giving off the impression that nothing had happened here, then slowly raised his head.
He quietly bit down on his lower lip, hard.

Even his body began shuddering slightly.
Was it because he was scared? Terrified? It was neither.

There was a pair of eyes.
Those eyes were staring back at him—eyes with no focus left in them.
And those eyes…

Those eyes used to contain so much life and passion toward her work not too long ago.
But now, they couldn ’t contain anything else, simply staring into the distance, lifeless.
As for the DSLR camera, it hung loosely from her neck.

Kang Jin-Ho reached out and switched on the camera in a daze.
The screen on its back revealed the photo of a man making an awkward face and a pose.
He recognized who that was.
How could he not? That was him, after all.

Kang Jin-Ho could guess what she had to have been doing before this happened to her.
It had to be enjoyable.
She would have been checking out the photos again and again while thinking about hurrying back home to illustrate new drawings.
The almost-depleted battery was proof of that.

But now…

She was hanging upside down on the garden ’s pavilion, her face cold and pale.
Her hands hanging loose from the edges were so cold, so lifeless.
He couldn ’t sense any warmth from her.

She was Lee Jae-In.
Lee Jae-In—who had been taking his pictures and was having a good time in the cafe not too long ago—had become a pale corpse hanging upside down in the middle of nowhere.

“Once I get paid for the next commission, I ’m gonna thank you properly!”

“Eugh…!” Kang Jin-Ho ’s quivering intensified until he was powerfully shaking like a lone leaf against stormy winds.

And like an enraged beast, he began clawing at his chest and roared into the night.


“DSLR” is an abbreviation of Digital Single-Lens Reflex, which is a type of digital camera.

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