Chapter 189

The customer walked right inside, as though he already had a predecided destination, right from the beginning. For some strange reason, it bothered Ilya. He noticed that the customer was looking at the area where the scribbles used to be that day. Furthermore, the book he had chosen was Confession of White

Ilya, and even the customer, had troubled looks on their faces. Judging by the look on his face, it was evident that the customer didn’t really want to read it. Confession of White was an acquired taste, so many people either hated it or had given up reading it. Thus, the customer’s reaction was quite common. 

Ilya mocked the customer when he said he was going to read the book there before leaving, but he came back a few days later. On his second visit to the bookstore, he bought a book because he felt bad for reading the book at the store without buying anything, but as luck would have it, the customer happened to pick Ilya’s third novel. It was the last of Ilya’s official book releases that Lansky had read. Even though the customer wasn’t aware of it, he most definitely triggered Ilya’s memories of Lansky. 

Looking at the clock, it was almost time for the customer to be done with the book. The customer said he would be going back to his home country tomorrow, and since he gave him chocolates as a gift, Ilya wanted to give something back in return. Ilya got up from his chair and thought he should gift the customer the copy of Confession of White he had been reading.

The copy of Confession of White he placed in that spot had no special meaning, apart from the fact that it was the first edition. Even then, he still had several other copies of the first edition left. The only important thing was that Confession of White was placed in that spot. Nothing else mattered. Ilya wanted to do something nice for someone on a day like this, even though the other party might not know the author of Confession of White had personally given him the book. 

Just as he expected, the customer was left with the book's last chapter. Ilya quietly leaned his back against the bookshelf across from the customer and carefully observed him. The customer’s everchanging facial expressions were telling of how he felt about the book. 

After reading the last chapter, the customer had a vacant look on his face, as though he was in shock. As an author, Ilya felt a strange sense of satisfaction witnessing that. However, the feelings of encouragement soon turned into shock. 

{I am not L. But nobody even calls me by that name.} 

The customer muttered as he stared intently at the spot where L scribbled those words 50 years ago. Right now, the only person in this world who knew those exact words was Ilya himself. Naturally, the people in Fiancé back then would have read those words, but judging by their age, they would most likely be dead by now. They weren’t famous words worthy of being passed down to their descendants, and they were probably nothing but meaningless scribbles to these people. There was no reason for them to pass on these words to a young person like that customer. 

More importantly, the customer’s gaze was fixated on the exact location of the scribbles, as though he knew where they were. 

{Who…are you?}

Ilya asked as he stared at the customer, who lifted his head after sensing his presence. He immediately wanted to grab him by the collar and ask, ‘Who exactly told you about the past that only ‘we’ knew?’

However, he realized that people couldn’t do anything when they were too flustered. As agitated as Ilya was, the customer was equally baffled — he looked back at him with a startled look. At first, he didn’t seem to understand why Ilya had such an intense reaction. The customer’s eyes were full of doubt; he carefully studied Ilya’s face, and suddenly, there was a rush of emotions. 

There was a mixture of confusion and embarrassment on the customer’s face; he looked like he was struggling with some intense emotions, but he quickly calmed himself down. He looked as though he didn’t know what was going on and tilted his head to the side before responding to him with another question. 

{When you asked me who I was, were you asking for my name?}

{The words you uttered a while ago –– how did you know about it?} 

{What did I say?}

With an innocent look on his face, the customer blinked. He acted as though he didn’t understand what Ilya was saying. He looked so convincing that Ilya thought he could become an actor right away if he was acting dumb. 

{Didn’t you say, ‘I am not L. But nobody even calls me by that name.’?}

{Really? Did I really say that?}

The customer got up to his feet and made a fuss. He asserted that he genuinely didn’t know anything and covered his face with his hands as he trembled. 

{I don’t think I was being possessed by a ghost again, was I? Did this place used to be an old cemetery by any chance?}

Because the customer kept yelling and kicking up a fuss, Ilya was beside himself as well. Right now, fear was written all over the customer’s face; he wrapped his arms around himself and looked around, saying he was getting goosebumps. And he kept muttering under his breath like he was talking to himself. 

{You’re probably not going to believe me, but I’ve been like this since a long time ago. There were times when I spoke gibberish without my knowledge, as though I was possessed by something. Nevertheless, it didn’t happen ever since I came to America, so I felt relieved to know that I wasn’t a good fit for American ghosts, but that wasn’t the case! Did I really say something strange?}

{I heard it clearly with my own ears.}

{Damn it! It happened again!}

Ilya took a couple of steps back while the customer ripped his hair out in distress. The customer seemed to be telling the truth, judging by how desperate and agitated he was. When he was collecting data and materials for his novels, Ilya had heard stories of people possessed by ghosts. It was a fascinating topic, so he had even taken time out of his schedule to investigate the causes and symptoms of this phenomenon separately. Thus, what Ilya was hearing from the customer was nothing new to him. 

{I can’t stay any longer because I’m scared. Thank you so much for letting me read the book here. You seem to be doing well, so it makes me very relieved.}

The customer didn’t give Ilya a chance to interrupt or stop him; he grabbed Ilya’s hand and shook it as he rambled on. And then he looked at Ilya for a moment with a smile that felt familiar for some reason before saying goodbye for the last time. 

{I won’t be able to come here again. Please always be healthy and happy. And happy birthday.} 

Ilya hesitated for a moment after hearing the sincere well wishes. And by the time he came to his senses, the customer was already leaving the bookstore. Ilya remembered he was going to give the book to the customer in the first place, so he was about to stop him from leaving, but he paused. 

{Birthday?}

He clearly wished Ilya a happy birthday. Even Ilya Turner’s fans didn’t know his birthday was February 9th. He had never officially revealed when his birthday was, so nobody knew the exact date unless they were personally acquainted with him. The customer might or might not have known that the owner of the bookstore and Ilya Turner were the same person, but at the very least, he knew it was his birthday, and he even wished him. 

This time around, Ilya was creeped out. Was that customer really possessed? If so, whose spirit was it? 

{Colin!}

{Yes!}

{Follow the young man who just left and find out who he is.}

Ilya called out to the secretary, who was always hovering around him on standby. He didn’t like him, but Selena insisted on giving him a secretary. He was usually in the inner part of the bookstore and was barely noticeable, so Ilya would also forget about his existence from time to time. Ilya often wondered why he had to keep someone of no help around, but the day when he could put him to good use had finally come.

***

Woo-Jin ran out of the bookstore; he didn’t know what brought him back to the hotel. After seeing all the sweat on his forehead, Kang Ho-soo was shocked and asked if he was okay, but he waved him off, saying he was fine. 

“It’s been thirty years, so it’s only normal that I can’t recognize….”

Woo-Jin never thought the owner of the bookstore would be Ilya. Only after he saw those gray eyes staring at him did he recall how the younger version of him looked 30 years ago, albeit barely. After imagining him without his gray hair and removing each and every wrinkle from his face, Woo-Jin saw the face of Ilya Turner that he knew. 

“He should just live comfortably as an author and write. Why is he even running a bookstore there?” 

Ilya Turner, the novelist Lanksy loved so much and was confident was the greatest achievement of his life, was running a used bookstore. And it was at Fiancé’s old location at that. Be it questionable taste or that he had overcome the past and was currently enjoying the old memories, there was no way of finding out as Woo-Jin was not Ilya himself. 

“Looks like I brought this with me.” 

Woo-Jin looked down at the book he had been holding tightly since he was at the bookstore. He was at a loss for what to do. The moment he recognized Ilya, he was so focused on acting that he didn’t realize he was holding the book. 

Woo-Jin sat on his bed and stared intently at Confession of White. Perhaps, Ilya had personally placed the book there. 

“L. Dimitri….”

L’s mother was of Slavic descent; when Lansky was picking out a name for him, he was somewhat torn between Ilya and Dimitri. In the end, Lansky left the decision to L himself, and he picked Ilya. Woo-Jin didn’t expect the name that didn’t get picked at that time would be used as a last name in this manner. It was a perfect fit. 

There was too much raw emotion in Ilya’s early style. After reading a rough draft he had written, Lansky pointed it out and told him a couple of times to fix it. He said that if the author showed too much emotion, the reader would feel tired and wouldn’t have time to think because they would be too busy trying to keep up with what he had written. 

Ilya’s writing gradually became cleaner and more refined, so Lansky was pleased, making him feel proud. Even though he didn’t get to see Ilya at his peak as a writer, he was proud of him. That was how confident Lansky was of Ilya’s success as a writer. He completely trusted and supported him without the slightest doubt or unease.

Thus, he had forgotten about it, but the writing style in Confession of White was similar to that in his early days. Just that it was more sophisticated and different in the sense that he acquired the ability to touch the hearts of the readers by injecting his own feelings into the protagonist. But it was evidently Ilya’s writing without a doubt. 

Confession of White captured the same feelings Lansky felt when he saw L’s scribbles back in the day. Confession of White was the world viewed through the eyes of the lonely and confused boy, who was filled with anger. 

“I didn’t know back then, but he must have struggled a lot.” 

Ever since Ilya met Lansky, he had always been smiling, so Lansky assumed he was doing well, regardless of his past. He concluded that Ilya had no reason to be dissatisfied because he led a comfortable life and lived in an environment where he could study to his heart’s content. 

The only things Woo-Jin knew about Ilya were what he had felt and seen via Lansky. Ilya Turner was so mysterious that there was no way of knowing anything about him outside of Lansky’s memories of him. Hence, Woo-Jin was surprised to see Ilya had written a novel like Confession of White, but on the other hand, he understood his reasons for writing it as well. 

The Lansky back then would never have understood, but the present Woo-Jin could sympathize with the loneliness Ilya must have felt. An 11-year-old would have needed affection more than money and a good environment. From what Lansky remembered, Ilya’s eyes were always full of anticipation and affection for him. Ilya always wanted Lansky to pay attention to him; his affection was different from the kind of affection Lansky had for him in the beginning — Lansky had only thought of him as a good student and a ward he was proud to be a guardian of. 

“What should I do with this book?”

Woo-Jin didn’t have the courage to revisit the bookstore. He held Confession of White tightly with both hands and pondered for a long time. I could return it via mail, but he wanted the book for some reason. He couldn’t easily let go of this novel, which was potentially a letter and confession to Lansky from Ilya. In this sense, it was very troublesome. 

Woo-Jin had very little affection for people in his previous life, so he was very good at severing ties and making connections with ease. However, Woo-Jin had started to love his family and understand people more, so he couldn’t bring himself to be as heartless as Lanksy was. Because he knew the other party’s feelings, he wanted to return those feelings. Even though he was no longer Lansky, he wanted to understand him to the best of his abilities and embrace him.

Selena best represented Woo-Jin’s current feelings. If the actual Lansky had been alive, it was doubtful that he would have the same family love for his great-granddaughter the way Woo-Jin felt about Selena right now. Perhaps, she was a little more special because she was his great-granddaughter — the first child of his beloved grandson, but he was sure that was all there was to it. As such, Lansky and Woo-Jin were completely different. 

Nevertheless, with the memories of his past life as Lansky, and his current personality and feelings, he was embracing his family in his past life. It was different from the rest of his other past lives, after all, considering that it was the life before his current one, so the people related to him were still alive. Since he ran into them like this, it was hard for him to block out all emotions. 

Interestingly, the affection he felt for Selena was absent when it came to his half-sister, Chae Woo-Ra. The simple reason was that Selena was Giorgio's child, the grandson he loved so much. 

“Who the parent of the child is matters so much, huh.” 

As of now, his feelings for Giorgio couldn’t be compared to how he felt about his biological father. That was the same with Ilya, who was always on his mind. 

Woo-Jin slipped Confession of White into his suitcase. He subconsciously muttered an excuse to himself about sending Ilya money for the book instead of returning it.

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