🕊WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊
My life for the following months had been pure bliss. Iwas not exactly invisible to the people in school becauseHunter was always beside me. And he was definitely notinvisible—especially to the girls. I knew they still couldn’tbelieve that I could score a guy like Hunter. I didn’t carewhat they thought. As long as they kept their thoughts especially their limbs—to themselves and leave us the hellalone.
Hunter never missed picking me up in the morning anddriving me back from school every night. He was a waybetter guardian angel than Chaise ever was.It took a good twenty-four hours for Denise to recoverfrom her shock when Hunter and I showed up in their house,
holding hands. We finally explained to her how we first metat CRC when Hunter was still blind and how we fell in love.
“She was the reason why I agreed for a transplant. I loveher. And I wanted to be the boyfriend that she deserved. Aboyfriend who would live for her, die for her, protect heruntil his very last breath,” Hunter said.
Denise blinked back at him and said, “You have to befreaking kidding me! Who are you?”
“Give it up, cuz. I am sweet and romantic. But onlyAllison can bring it out.”
“Yeah, otherwise, you’re a heartless douchebag!”
“Be careful, Denise. That’s my boyfriend you’re referringto,” I teased her.
She groaned. “How could this happen to me? My bestfriend and my cousin! Ewww!”
“Oh, grow up. I met her first,” Hunter quipped. “Besides,we’re not too thrilled about your relationship either.”
Her eyes widened at him. Then she turned to me. “Youtold him?”
I shook my head. “I would never.”
“She didn’t tell me,” Hunter was quick to say in mydefense. “Just remember, Denise. Just because you thinknobody’s looking, doesn’t mean no one is. You’re on myradar. Always.”
“It’s none of my business,” he told her. “But I hope youget out of that infatuation quickly. Buckley is bad news.”Denise glared at him and for a while I thought they weregoing to fight. Then Denise sat back onthe couch. “Youdidn’t have to tell me. We’re done.”
“Oh my God, Denise. Are you okay?” I asked, sittingbeside her, putting a comforting arm around her shoulder.
“I’m okay. It kinda felt good that I didn’t have to hideanymore. Arthur’s no fun. He doesn’t get me.”
“What do you expect? He’s a generation older thanyou,” Hunter muttered.
I widened my eyes at him, warning him not to make itany worse.
“He’s only a couple of years older,” Denise argued. “Butanyway, we’re through.”
“Are you okay? I mean… are you upset about it?”
She shrugged. “I’m actually surprised I wasn’t as upsetas I thought I would be. I’m… okay.”
“Good. But… I’m here, if you ever want to talk.” I gaveher shoulders a reassuring squeeze.
“I know. But really, I’m okay.” She smiled back at me.
“Wait, tell me more about Chaise.”
I stared back at Hunter. He sighed and then he toldDenise everything that Chaise did.
“Holy crap!” Denise cursed. “I can’t believe he did that.”
“Me too,” I said.
“Would you ever forgive him?”
I shook my head. “I really don’t know.”
“The things we do for love, huh,” Denise breathed,looking thoughtfully into space.
I looked at Hunter and he smiled back at me.
“Yeah,” he said in a gentle tone. “The things we doindeed.” He gave me a wink.
“Except that I don’t think I was in love with Arthur in the first place,” Denise said thoughtfully.
It is true. Love happens when you least expect it to. Ithappens in the most wonderful ways and to the least likelypeople. Even when Hunter was blind, and he thought hewould be a burden to the person he was with, I still fell inlove with him. Even when I thought my scars made me lookugly and monstrous and no one would even like me, Huntersaw the real me and thought I was beautiful enough to like,
protect and love.Graduation was just around the corner and I was
anxious to receive acceptance letters from the universities I
applied to.Soon after that, I received one of the best news of my
life. I got in to MIT and also received financial aid. Meredithwas quite relieved and happy. She really wanted the best forme because she thought I was brilliant and deserved goodthings in life, but she was afraid she could not afford to sendme to a good university.
Before I got the news of my acceptance at MIT, Hunterand I were having arguments about my university options.He offered to lend me money to pay for my tuition, but Irefused to let him help me financially. He was already takingcare of me in many ways. But I cannot receive any financialfavors from him. I made it clear to him that I wanted to besuccessful in life because I worked hard for it. Not because Ihad a rich boyfriend, who was always looking out for me.
Hunter also chose to go to MIT, while Denise chose to goto Harvard. We all planned to share a three-bedroomapartment in Cambridge. I intended to find a job to pay formy share of the rent. I knew Hunter already had some ideasin his head but there was no way I would allow him to makeme live in that apartment rent-free.
Soon enough, high school was over. I exited LeightonHigh with flying colors. I stood in front of hundreds ofLeighton High senior students with my chin up as I deliveredmy valedictory speech. When I finished, everybody stood upand cheered—including Chelsea Braxton and Don Winston.
Today, a week before Hunter, Denise and I set off toCambridge, Hunter asked me to spend the weekend with him in his lake house. Meredith didn’t object. But before Iwent out of the house, she called, “Have fun. And be safe.”
I know what she meant. But she didn’t sound tooconcerned because she knew that Hunter and I were bothadults now, and we were both responsible. And during ourmany dinners with her, Hunter always dropped hints that heintended to marry at a very young age. I also showed hermy gorgeous promise ring and told her what that ring meantto Hunter and me.
I was sitting on the passenger seat of Hunter’s Escaladeas we drove to his lake house. He reached out for my handand brought it to his lips.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
He gave my hand a gentle squeeze. He must havesensed that I was uneasy, but he didn’t say anything.The truth is, I was nervous as hell, I was on the brink ofasking him to turn back the car. True, we’ve been left alonebefore in the lake house, and Hunter had spent many nights
on the couch of our house whenever Meredith had anovernight shift. But still, this weekend at the lake house feltdifferent. For this trip, I didn’t know what to expect. But God knows I’m ready. And I do not want to share myself withanyone else but Hunter.
We parked in front of the beautiful white house. I couldsee that the lights inside were on.
“Does somebody stay here?”
Hunter rounded the car to open the door for me. “No,”he replied. “But I have help coming here to keep it tidy.Today, I asked them to prepare the house.” He pulled me forchaste kiss on the lips. “I have an important guest coming.”
I couldn’t help the butterflies in my stomach from goingwild. I turned away from Hunter to take deep breathswithout him noticing.
He took our bags from the backseat of his Escalade.Then he took my hand in his and pulled me towards thehouse. Although the house was lit, it was empty. I realizedthat we were completely alone.
“Your house is beautiful,” I breathed as I looked at theinterior. It has changed a lot since the last time I was here. Itseemed Hunter spent some time decorating it.
“Well, the last time, I didn’t get it fixed yet. I didn’t feellike fixing anything. My heart was a whack. Decoratingdidn’t come at the top of my priorities then.”
But now, I noticed that he had a new chandelier. Therewere paintings on the wall, and his couch and coffee tablealso looked brand new.
“Come. I’ll show you the rooms,” he said.He took my hand in his and pulled me up towards theglass stairs. Hunter led me to the room at the end of thecorridor. I remember before, Denise said she’d seen all therooms in the house except for one—Hunter’s bedroom.Hunter opened the door that led to a massive bedroom.The main furniture there was a king size four-poster canopybed with white curtains around it. It has a fireplace in thecenter, with a white rug in front of it.
Above the fireplace was a painting of a girl. She haddark hair tied in a fishtail braid. Her face was turned sideways, showing a faint scar on her cheek. I had to blinkback because the girl in the painting looked like me.I turned back to Hunter, raising a brow at him, but mytongue felt frozen.
He smiled at me sheepishly. He pulled me to him,snaking his arm around my waist, then spinning me aroundso we were both facing the painting.
“I painted that after my first day at Leighton High,” heexplained. “Do you like it?”
“Hunter… this is beautiful. I mean, your painting isbeautiful. You have some skill.”
“I’m okay,” he said. “It’s a hobby.”
“Are you kidding me? You could make a living out ofthis.” I turned around to face him. “I mean… if you’re notalready super rich and multi-talented.”
“Well, I’ll keep that for future reference,” he leanedforward and kissed me. I could feel a lot of emotions in thatkiss. He pulled me closer to him as he deepened the kiss.My heart was beating loudly inside my ribcage.Hunter and I have been kissing for a couple of monthsnow but every time his lips were on mine, my mind stillwent blank and I felt lost without any hope of being foundbut I didn’t care at all. I loved being in Hunter’s arms, whereI didn’t have to care where I was in the universe or in time. Ifelt safe… protected… loved.He leaned his forehead against mine. “I love you,angel,” he whispered.
“I love you, too.”
He kissed my forehead and then he pulled away. Hepointed towards the left corner of the room. “Thebathroom’s there, if you want to change clothes. I’ll bedownstairs, preparing our dinner.”
“I’m… I’m staying here?”
He raised a brow at me, like I spoke a differentlanguage. Then he replied, “We’re staying here.”
I opened my mouth to speak but no words came out.
Hunter took a step forward and pulled me into his arms. Hestudied my face for a moment. I was afraid that my cheekswere crimson red, and he could see right through me.
“Angel…” he whispered. “Are you okay?”
He titled my chin up so I could look at him. “Hey, this isme. You can tell me anything.”
“I know,” I sighed. I smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
I gently pulled away from him and then walked towardsthe bathroom.
“Angel,” he called out and I turned back to him. “If itbothers you, I can sleep in the next room.”
I shook my head. “No. It’s fine.”
He walked towards me, giving me a reassuring smile. Hewrapped his arms around my waist, looked into my eyes andsaid, “I don’t want you to feel any pressure, angel. I didn’tbring you here so I could seduce you.”
My heart stopped beating altogether.
“I just want us to have some alone time before we headoff to college,” he continued. He pushed a lock of hair awayfrom my face. “I want to sleep in the same bed as youbecause… well, I want to watch you sleep and wake up nextto you. But that’s it. We don’t have to do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with. You know I will wait as long asit takes.”
I smiled and then I hugged him. “I love you, Hunter.”
“I love you more, angel. Now, go change quickly. I’mchallenging you to a game of chess.”
“Seriously?” I pulled away from him.
“What? Did you really think I brought you here so youwould sleep with me? Of course not. Out of all the people Iknew, you were the only one who ever gave me a challengein a game of chess.”
I gave him a slight push. “Oh, really? Wait for medownstairs, I just might beat you this time!”
“Game on!” He gave me a wink. Then he turned towardsthe door. “I’ll be in the garden.”
I felt relieved that we talked. He was right. There wasnothing to be pressured about. s£x did not define ourrelationship. I knew we would eventually do it. When thetime was right. It was always better to go with the flow, feelin the moment, rather than plan or expect. It would be a lotbetter that way.
When I came down to the garden, I was dressed in apair of white shorts, a yellow sleeveless blouse and theyellow slippers that Hunter gave me.He was standing in the garden, in the center of a giant
chessboard with huge chess pieces reaching almost up tohis waistline.
“Oh my God, Hunter. This is so cool!” I couldn’t helplaughing.
He stood by the black pieces. “Your move, angel.”I must admit, carrying the chess pieces around theboard was fun but kind of distracting. Thus, it became muchmore difficult to strategize. But I did well. Before Hunterannounced ‘Checkmate’ he only had three pieces left on thegiant board.
“Damn it! Someday, I would beat you in this game!” Imuttered.
He laughed, giving me a hug. “You have all the time inthe world to try beating me. Come on, you must bestarving.”
“By the way, I still owe you for these slippers,” I said,pointing at my feet.
“What are you talking about? I gave them to you. I toldyou I didn’t want you to pay me back.”
“Why would you just give it to me?”
“Because you’re my girlfriend. I’m allowed to give yougifts once in a while, right?”
“Right. But you already agreed to accept payment inkind for this, remember?” I reminded him. “I don’t like owinganybody.”
He sighed and then without warning, he pressed his lipsagainst mine and gave me a thorough kiss on the lips thatalmost rendered me mindless afterwards. He smiled whenhe saw the violent blush on my face. “There. Your debt hasbeen paid. Now, can you just let it go? It looked good on youand I felt good showering you with presents. Let’s just eat.I’m starving.”
I sighed and decided to let it go. He was right. Maybe itwas normal for a guy to give his girlfriend presents. Maybe Iwas just not used to receiving any gift from anybody. I couldtell it made him really happy.
Barbecue had been prepared for us beside the massivebarbeque gas grill. He had hotdogs, corn, potatoes, burgersand steak. We ate dinner under the stars again.
After dinner, Hunter put a mat and blanket out on thelawn and prepared some bonfire where we roasted hotdogsand marshmallows. He played the guitar and we sang. Hetaught me chords to new songs. The evening felt so relaxed,so comfortable, like we were in a world of our own.
Then suddenly, Hunter’s wristwatch alarmed.
“Time to sleep?” I asked.
“Almost,” he replied. He put his guitar aside and stoodup from the mats. “Come. Let’s go up.”
“Are we just gonna leave our stuff here?”
“Yeah, we’ll fix them tomorrow. There’s no one else
here. We’re totally alone and the gates are locked. We’reperfectly safe. No one will bother us or invade our privacy.Don’t worry.”
He led me up the stairs. “You take the shower in themaster’s bedroom. I’ll take the other bathroom.”
I took my time in the shower, making sure I got rid ofthe smell of barbecue in my hair and skin. Then I dried my hair and dressed in a pair of pink pajamas and matchinglong-sleeved shirt.
When I stepped out of the bathroom, I found Huntersitting on the bed. He played chill out music in the room.
“You said you weren’t going to seduce me,” I said in ateasing tone. “What’s with the music?”
“I don’t think I need music to achieve seduction, angel. Ican manage that all on my own,” he said smugly.
I laughed. “You and your big, inflated head.”
He reached out for my hand and then he pulled metowards the glass doors. He opened them and led me to ahuge terrace.
“Oh my,” I breathed. “This is surreal.”
There was a daybed lounger with a pulled-back suncanopy in the middle. There were lamps around the terraceand the lounger was covered in pristine sheets, with duvetand pillows on top of it.
“What are you planning?”
“You’ll see,” he said, lying down on the daybed andpulling me with him. I rested my head on his shoulder as hepulled the duvet over us, keeping us both warm.A lover’s moon illuminated the clear night sky. It was fullof stars and I could see some constellations. The big full
moon illuminated the sky along with the stars.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. It reminded me of our date underthe meteor shower and I made a wish. I still remember thatwish.
“What did you wish for the last time we watched ameteor shower?” he asked, gently rubbing my forearm withhis hand.
I took a deep breath. “I wished you would be able to seeagain.”
He lay still. I thought he stopped breathing, I looked upat him.
“Hunter, are you okay?” I asked.
“Out of all the things you could wish for, you wished forthat?”
He kissed the top of my head. “Thank you.” He turnedback to the sky. “Now, you can make another wish or adozen of them, if you want.”
“Look up, angel.”
When I looked back into the sky, I saw a flash of light,followed by another, and then another.
“Oh my God, Hunter…” I breathed. There was anothermeteor shower. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched theamazing display of falling stars above us.I felt his arms around me tighten as he inhaled throughmy hair and then kissed my forehead. Tears welled up in my
eyes as I watched the meteor shower above us.I propped up on my elbow so I could look into his eyes.
“I love you,” he breathed.
“I love you too.”
Slowly, I bent towards him for a kiss. I felt his hand onthe back of my head as he pulled me to him and deepenedour kiss. His arm [email protected] around my waist, trying to get meas close to him as possible.I could feel heat emanating from his skin to mine. Hegently pushed me towards the bed, without breaking ourkiss. My heart pounded inside my ribcage, but I didn’t feelnervous at all. Instead, I felt a sense of thrill and excitementthat I could hardly control. I was lost again. I was hopelessto be found but I didn’t give a damn.
Then I just know… that moment felt right.Hunter pulled back and looked at me. His eyes were adarker shade of blue, and he looked consumed by his ownraging emotions. I knew we were both thinking the samething.
His hand went to the edge of my shirt until it touchedthe bare skin underneath. He gave me a wistful smile and then he whispered, “I have to stop. But God knows, I want tokeep kissing you.”
I giggled, “Me too.”
I pulled him to me so I could kiss his lips. He kissed memore aggressively. I gave him all the permission he needed.When he pulled back at me again, he, too, wasbreathless.
“Are you… are you sure?” he asked gently.
I nodded. “Just… go slow. It’s… it’s my first time.”
He smiled at me. “It’s mine too,”
I blinked back at him. “Are you serious? I thought dozensof girls were pining for your attention, Hunter Vaughn.”
“I was waiting for the right girl, angel. I was waiting foryou all along.”
He leaned forward and pressed his lips against mineagain. I could feel the loud sound of his heartbeat. He tookhis sweet time showering me with kisses, caressing myskin… discovering me….drowning me to oblivion. When henipped at my earlobe and nuzzled my neck, I slowly openedmy eyes, just in time to see endless streaks of meteorshower in the sky above us.
At that final moment, he looked me in the eye, ensuringthat I was sure about what we were doing. In his eyes, I sawdesire. I saw love. I saw his entire soul bared to me. He wasgiving me everything he had, leaving nothing to himself.
Finally, when that inevitable pain ripped through mybody, he held me in his arms to comfort me, until I couldfeel no more pain, only pleasure. And just when I was fullydrowned in our passion and fell over the edge of sanity, hecaught me, held me, whispered my name and told me overand over how much he loved me. And in that final moment,before he allowed bliss to fully consume him, he whispered
against my ear, “I am yours forever, angel.”It took us both a moment to catch our breaths and comeback down to reality.Another first.
And it couldn’t have been more perfect than this. Withthis boy. At this place. In this moment.I realized now, more than ever, how lucky I was. My firstwas with the guy I loved with all my heart. A guy who
promised to cherish, love and protect me for the rest of hislife. I was enveloped in love and cloaked in passion. I wasalso drunk with desire, when I didn’t even know what it was.When I thought my heart swelled with love for Hunter,the guy I was sure I would want to spend the rest of my lifewith, I didn’t know our relationship could reach an entirelydifferent level. The thrill that I felt right now, the electricitythat brought my nerves to life when he touched me, and theway he left me breathless each time his lips touched minetook our love to new heights.
From the moment I met him, Hunter was the only onewho could make sense of everything in my life… I didn’tknow he was also the only one who could take sense awayfrom me, until I couldn’t think of anything, didn’t knowanything, wouldn’t see anything… just him—only him!He held me in his arms as my head rested comfortablyagainst his shoulder. I felt warm and secure in his embrace.The lazy kisses he gave me made me feel treasured andloved.
The peak of the meteor shower was over now, but I knew that Hunter and I had never been closer, ourrelationship had never been deeper,and our love had neverbeen stronger.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I’m sorry if I caused you pain,”
I giggled. “Only for a moment. The rest of it was…ethereal.”
“I know. I felt it too. It was out-of-this-world amazing,”he agreed.
“Do you think it always feels like that?”
“I think it only happens when you have a deep
emotional connection with the person you’re with. I don’tthink we’ll have a problem connecting that way again.” Heleaned forward and gave me a kiss on the lips. Then hestared back at me. “Sleep now. We have an early starttomorrow.”
“What do you plan to do?”
He pushed a lock of stray hair away from my face.
“There was something I wished I could have done for youbefore, but couldn’t because I was blind,” he replied. “I’mnot blind anymore. So I could do it now.”
I drew my brows together and asked. “What’s that?”
He smiled at me gently. “I will teach you how to swim.”
I stared back at him, remembering our first date whenhe first found out I couldn’t swim to save my life. I saw paincross his face when he said he wished he met me before hisaccident because he would have loved to give meswimming lessons. Back then, I didn’t know it was stillpossible for him to see but I didn’t care at all. But being with
him now, in this little piece of heaven, where nothing washindering him from seeing me, protecting me, taking care ofme, I was quite thankful that we were given a chance likethis. We were given a chance to make our love story evenmore amazing than it was before.
“Do you know who your donor was?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I don’t think I’m allowed to know.
Most transplant organs are donated anonymously. Butwhoever he was… I would be forever thankful that he madea decision that saved my future.”
I smiled, tears welling up my eyes. Hunter’s donor mayhave passed, but his or her corneas still lived to give Hunterthe most precious gift of life… the gift of seeing howbeautiful the world around him was.
I thought about those people who passed away butsome parts of them continue to live on because they chosenot to be selfish. Their lives may have ended but because they cared enough… were selfless enough… they were ableto save the lives of others.
Suddenly a thought occurred to me. Nobody everwanted to confront issues like these because they wereafraid… because they thought that not thinking or talkingabout death would make it evitable. But it isn’t. And rightnow… I’m making a decision that if ever something
happened to me and I could not move on in this life… then Iwould give whatever I could to make sure that the others,who needed that part of myself, could still have a chance ofsurviving… of living longer so they could still be with theirloved ones.
Just like Hunter’s donor. If he didn’t choose to give awayhis corneas when he passed away, then Hunter would notbe here with me. Because of him, Hunter would have thebest memories in the world… the most beautiful images ofme and the life we would live together. Because of thatselfless choice, Hunter and I were given a chance to
continue our extraordinary love story.
“I’m thankful for him too,” I whispered. “Because hegave me a chance to show you how beautiful our love was,and how wonderful our life together was going to be.”
Hunter stared at me for a long moment and then heshifted so that I was lying on my back and he was on top ofme.
“I will always thank my donor because he gave me a chance to take care of you and protect you with my life.”
He leaned forward and gave me a thorough kiss on thelips. After the kiss, I looked into his eyes lovingly.
“You are my guardian angel in human form, Hunter. Youmay be wingless… but you’re just as magnificent, just asbeautiful as an angel would be. I love you.”
“I love you more.” he said gently kissing my lips again.
I raised a brow at him. “Really? How could you be sosure that you love me more?”
He gave me a playful grin. Then in a serious voice, hesaid, “Because I traded my wings just to be with you,beautiful.”
As we kissed again under the stars and the lovers’moon, I vowed to prove him wrong. I have the rest of ourlives to show him that I love him… exactly as much as heloves me.