The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 26

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

The following day, after wrapping up his work, Kang Tae-han strolled along the street, reviewing the KakaoTalk messages from Yoo Se-ah once more.

[That should be enough time, all good! hahaha]

[Do you have any food preferences or dislikes?]

[I frequent a certain place, shall we go there?]

[Sure, I’ll make a reservation!]

Directly beneath was an emoticon of a rounded, similar character to the one before. A link with the address of a restaurant was posted below the emoticon.

Whether by coincidence or design, the location of the restaurant wasn’t far off from the jjimjilbang (Korean spa), within walking distance. Kang Tae-han ruminated over the possibility of such intention without knowing his whereabouts. But if she had chosen the place with the accident site in mind, it certainly seemed feasible.

‘If that was the case, she’s really quite considerate.’

Before he knew it, he had arrived in front of the restaurant. There was a sudden open space amidst closely attached buildings, with a shallow wall about waist-high encircling a courtyard. Inside stood an impressive hanok (traditional Korean house) restaurant.

‘I didn’t know there was a place like this around here…’

Walking toward the front gate, Kang Tae-han checked the time. He was about ten minutes early for the appointment – he had purposely timed it this way, thinking it better to arrive a bit early when being invited somewhere.

“Over here!”

Just as he was considering to look around, a woman with sunglasses waved at him from the entrance of the restaurant. She looked different from what she had worn the previous day, but it was indeed Yoo Se-ah.

“You’re early, Tae-han? It’s not quite time for our meeting yet.”

Yoo Se-ah’s face beamed with pleasure as she spoke.

“Well, you’re the early one, Se-ah. How long have you been waiting?”

“Erm, me?”

A hint of panic flashed across her face. She couldn’t confess that she had gotten the meeting time mixed up and arrived 30 minutes early. Even more so to admit that she had rushed here thinking she was late.

“I just got here. Didn’t you see me coming from that way?”

“Is that so.”

Kang Tae-han gave a light smile. It was a clear fib, but perhaps this too was a form of courtesy. It seemed best to play along in such circumstances.

“Shall we go in then?”

Yoo Se-ah led the way inside the restaurant.

Perhaps because she’d been thinking about it since the day before, the moment Kang Tae-han smiled, Yoo Se-ah inadvertently avoided his gaze.

* * *

“This is a nice place.”

Settled into his seat, Kang Tae-han expressed his impressions lightly.

The spacious courtyard and striking hanok could be appreciated even from a distance, but the interior design was also elaborately modern, a contemporary interpretation of traditional Korean architecture. Each table was separated into individual rooms, a sumptuous restaurant design signaling consideration for the guests.

“Isn’t it? I come here often.”

Yoo Se-ah responded with an easy smile as she poured water into Kang Tae-han’s cup – only she almost overfilled it because the server had already filled it just prior.

“Just in case you were thirsty, I thought to give you plenty.”

“I see.”

Though Kang Tae-han alternated his gaze perplexedly between his cup and Yoo Se-ah, she retorted with a calm voice as if nothing was amiss.

‘Of course, they would serve water here! Ugh!’

Externally, she maintained an air of nonchalance, but in reality, Yoo Se-ah was someone who seldom spent over thirty thousand won on a meal. Even that barrier had lowered only since last year. While she did have more financial wiggle room nowadays, her ingrained frugality from her years of obscurity hadn’t faded. The one previous time she’d been here was because an acquaintance had brought her, and that was it.

But for some reason, she wanted to show a more polished side to this person before her.

“Should I also grill the meat for you?”

“No, we’ll do it ourselves.”

Perhaps that’s why, when the server came with the meat and asked, Yoo Se-ah crisply declined the offer like one accustomed to such establishments.

‘…Should I start grilling now?’

Yoo Se-ah found herself in a fluster once more. While supremely confident in her ability to grill pork belly, beef was another matter entirely, given her lack of experience. And this beef had marbling that looked almost too good to be true, the sort of expensive cut that a novice would hesitate to touch.

‘They say the grilling is important for beef…’

She wondered if she should have just let them grill it. After all, the last time she visited with her sister, she had simply waited for the staff to do the grilling. Should she ask them to grill it even now? While pondering this, Kang Tae-han spoke up.

“May I do the grilling?”

“…What?”

“I enjoy grilling meat.”

Kang Tae-han sat across from her, smiling gently while taking the tongs she hesitated to grab and naturally placing the meat on the grill.

‘The charcoal is just right.’

The scent of the embers permeated the air, lifting the spirits of the one grilling. When grilling beef, two things were crucial: First, ensure that the marbling inside the meat thoroughly melted, and second, grill it just right to avoid the meat becoming tough. The fat had to melt and permeate the meat, yet one must prevent the meat’s juices from drying out, resulting in toughness. For average cooks, grilling several cuts of meat to such perfection is almost an expert’s task. Naturally, some form of compromise is expected.

But this man was Kang Tae-han. If he so chose, he could use his heightened senses to monitor each piece’s internal state. Naturally, he didn’t need to go that far, as his skill sufficed.

Although his movements seemed leisurely at a glance, the pieces of meat on the grill flipped at the perfect timing.

“Please, try this.”

“Ah, yes… thank you.”

Yoo Se-ah, who had been starving due to the delayed dinner, had been fixedly watching Kang Tae-han grill the meat. She carefully picked up the piece of beef he had dipped in the sauce.

“…Oh.”

The initial chew was resilient, but what followed was an unexpected tenderness that made it seem like the meat was melting in her mouth. A rich burst of juices flooded her palate as the marbling that had melted over the charcoal fully infused the flesh, mingling with the juices to spread a deep savory taste and aroma.

‘Was it this delicious before…?’

It had tasted good the last time she ate it – the best beef she had ever had. That’s why she purposely chose this place for their meeting.

I had decided.

But now, the record for the most delicious beef in my life had been updated once again.

Despite being from the same restaurant, the taste and flavor were incomparably better than what I had eaten before.

‘I guess this is why they say grilling is so important!’

That blissful first bite.

The lingering taste, slowly fading in my mouth, was so regrettable.

Without realizing, Yoo Se-ah opened her eyes which she had closed.

Then, a tender piece of beef that had just been on the grill appeared before her once again.

Followed by another slice.

The timing was as if it had predicted the pace of her dining.

Moreover, each piece of meat was perfect.

As if to say that the ecstasy of the first bite was no coincidence, every single mouthful was impressively delicious.

“…Tae-han-ssi.”

“Yes.”

“Do you work at a place like Hanwoo omakase?”

At this point, it was a reasonable suspicion.

However, Gang Tae-han simply tilted his head slightly.

“My father does run a Chinese restaurant, though.”

“But why are you so good at grilling meat?”

“I just found it frustrating when others grill, so I decided I might as well do it myself.”

He had lived like this for sixty years.

Grilling on stone plates, skewering on branches, over campfires, and in straw flames…

Having lived that way, he was confident he could grill even elephant meat in a well-equipped indoor environment with charcoal and a grill grate.

“There must be a lot of people who want to eat meat with you.”

“Not many, but they do enjoy it when I go out for meat.”

Gang Tae-han smiled slightly, putting a piece of meat in his mouth.

While grilling the meat, eating, and conversing, his movements were never rushed—a truly artisanal skill in meat grilling.

“So, what do you do, Tae-han-ssi?”

As the meal was coming to a close, the focus naturally shifted from dining to talking.

Gang Tae-han set down his water cup and began to speak.

“I’m still a student, but I’m working as a massage therapist.”

“A university student? How old are you?”

“Twenty-six.”

“Oh… that’s unexpected.”

By his looks, he appeared to be in his early twenties, but somehow the vibe he gave off made one think he was a good-looking mid-thirties individual.

Twenty-six years old—just one year older than herself.

“What’s so unexpected?”

“No, I mean… well, a massage therapist?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

A brilliant idea popped into Yoo Se-ah’s mind.

Something to naturally lighten the mood, talk… and maybe even involve a little physical contact.

“You must know a lot about acupressure points, right?”

“That’s right, isn’t it?”

“Then, could I try getting an acupressure treatment from you?”

“Here?”

Gang Tae-han looked around, considering the surroundings.

It wasn’t impossible, but it was obviously not the appropriate place.

Yoo Se-ah then grinned and reached out her hand.

“No, just the palm of my hand. I heard there are a lot of pressure points here, right?”

“Ah, that is true.”

The hand is often referred to as a microcosm of the meridian channels, densely packed with a multitude of vital points, including the Hegu point among other significant ones.

“That much I can do.”

Gang Tae-han reached out and took Yoo Se-ah’s right hand.

She had expected him to be a bit startled…

But it was so natural that instead, it was Yoo Se-ah who felt embarrassed.

Meanwhile, Gang Tae-han lightly felt her pulse to check her condition.

The hand, a microcosm of the body’s various meridians.

Apart from anything else, when it comes to assessing the physical state, hardly any place is as suitable as the hand.

‘She has a congenital heart issue.’

That’s why the energy near the Zhongchong point was weak.

Being an actress, she might manage her health meticulously, but congenital issues couldn’t be helped.

Though it wasn’t enough to cause illnesses, it must have caused her physical discomfort.

Having completed the diagnosis, it was time to take action.

The first knuckle connecting the palm to the middle finger.

This location was connected to a heart-related acupoint.

After loosening the entire palm, he pressed down firmly on that spot.

“Kyah!”

At that moment, Yoo Se-ah retracted her palm with a delicate shriek.

An involuntary cry of surprise.

“Did it hurt?”

“No! It’s not that…”

Right when he pressed, a current-like sensation shot through her chest.

And why was her heart beating faster than usual?

“Let’s stop the acupressure.”

The stimulation was too intense.

Having reached that conclusion, Yoo Se-ah, now with a sweaty palm, wiped it with a tissue and decided to change the subject.

* * *

“Hey, where did you go for dinner last night?”

“Last night? I went out to eat, why?”

“I have a feeling that something’s up…”

Gang Tae-han responded indifferently to Choi Seong-hyun’s suspicions.

There was a vague, sweet vibe of fresh gossip.

“Then, who did you dine with?”

“With someone I know. Focus on what’s in front of us now.”

Choi Seong-hyun had an unusually good intuition since high school.

As a distraction, Gang Tae-han turned his gaze away.

“You asked for this. Watch carefully.”

Gang Tae-han pressed on the shoulder of Director Hwang, sitting in front of him. It was a spot where the deltoid and other key muscles converged. As he applied pressure…

“Ugh.”

A short groan escaped from Director Hwang’s mouth.

It was a mix of slight panic and pleasure.

“Stimulating this place can relax the muscles around here. It’s good to give it a light press before starting in earnest.”

While explaining, he also pointed out the general location again.

Lately, Gang Tae-han had been teaching Choi Seong-hyun some massage techniques and useful tips.

This was because Choi Seong-hyun himself had asked Gang Tae-han to teach him.

“Hmm… here?”

“Seong-hyun, that hurts.”

As Director Hwang tried what he had learned, a deep voice erupted.

A tone quite different from the previous whimper.

“Are you just being melodramatic?”

“It’s not melodrama, it feels different. I might not know if I just received your treatment, but after having Tae-han’s, I can tell something’s off.”

“Hm. I see what you mean. So here? Maybe?”

“That’s not it, here. If you can’t find it, trace the muscle fibers until they converge into one spot. Then…”

The tutorial continued through lunchtime.

Amidst it all, Director Hwang felt somewhat like a teaching aid…

‘Even if I’m a teaching aid, it’s not such a bad feeling.’

The refreshing sensation that came with every demonstration from Gang Tae-han.

Leaving aside Choi Seong-hyun’s turns, the occasional refreshing touches gave a delightful anticipation.



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