🕊WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊
I couldn’t find my voice. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Icouldn’t understand why or how it all happened. But thetruth was right before my eyes.Hunter slowly approached me. The expression on his
face was soft and gentle. Gone was the look of disgust oranger that he usually wore whenever he saw me.
“Hunter? You? You were the guy who always followed mehome? You were the one who saved me from thosepotheads?”
He reached out to wipe my tears with his fingers. Thenhe nodded gently.
He took a deep breath. “When I came back, the firstthing that I did was look for you. But you moved and didn’tleave a forwarding address. I didn’t have your number. Ihave a faint idea how you look like. But other than that, Ihad no clue how to really find you.
“When Denise mentioned that she has a friend namedAlice and that she has a scar on her face, I knew she wastalking about you. When she said that you were working atAlibri, I wasted no time to go there so I could see you.”There was sadness in his voice when he added, “But when Iwent into the bookshop, I saw this beautiful girl with a scaron her cheek in between the shelves. She was with a boy,
she didn’t notice my presence. And then I saw him kiss her.”He sucked in a deep breath. “I thought you moved on withyour life… without me. I thought you didn’t wait for me.”
I scanned my brain for that incident. It was the nightwhen Chaise went to the bookshop and kissed me againstmy will. I did hear the bell chimes on the door. Once,signaling that somebody came inside the shop. But myhands were trapped in Chaise’s arms I couldn’t get away.The chimes rang again after Chaise kissed me, signifyingthat whoever came in, immediately went out.God! The person who came out as fast as he came inand saw me with Chaise was Hunter.
“But I didn’t kiss him.” I shook my head. “He stole a kissfrom me.”
Hunter nodded. “I know that now. I read your diary.” Hesmiled at me ruefully. “That night after I walked out of theshop, I stayed in my car. I waited for you. I wanted to besure it was you. Then I saw the guy leave without you and Ithought your boyfriend was such a jerk. How could he leaveyou to walk home on your own?
“Even when I thought you were already with Anderson, Icouldn’t help worrying about you. So, I went to thebookshop every night, during closing time. I… walkedbehind you, watched you… made sure you got home safely.I told you I would get my eyesight back so I could protectyou, remember?”
My heart sang and broke at the same time. I couldn’thelp crying as I listened to him.He reached up and wiped the tears on my cheeks again.Then he continued, “I figured if your douchebag boyfriend
couldn’t make sure you got home safely at nights… then Iwould. Even if I meant nothing to you anymore.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. I wanted to tellhim that he meant the world to me then… he still means theworld to me now.
“I must be freaking you out. But I was hoping after acouple of nights, you’d figure out that I meant you no harm.Sometimes, I followed you while I was in the car, stoppingby corners so you wouldn’t notice me. Then one night…when I followed you in my car, I stopped by a corner andwaited for you to turn up. You didn’t. I panicked and retraced
my route. I found you in that street with two guys attackingyou. I saw… red. I know I would not be able to forgivemyself if something bad happened to you. I would die firstbefore I let them touch you.”
“Hunter…” I whimpered. “What you did was dangerousfor you. Those guys could have hit you in the head and thatwould damage your eyes again,” I said in between tears,unable to believe he really would risk everything for me.
“I didn’t care. You were the reason why I opted for atransplant. You were the reason why I wanted to see again.What was the point of seeing the world if you were gone?
Your safety… your life was more important to me thatnight.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I did,” he said. “I was glad I did. If I get to save you inexchange for my eyesight… in exchange for my life… thenthat would be enough.”
But I would never forgive myself if something happenedto Hunter too. During those times, I was desperately waitingfor him to come back to me. If he died saving my life… then what good was that life?
“Why didn’t you show yourself to me?” I asked.
“When those wackos ran off, I turned and found that youwere gone,” he replied. “I drove to the direction of yourhouse, hoping I would find you in the streets, but youweren’t there anymore. I was only able to breathe properlywhen I saw the lights inside your house, and I knew youwere safe.”
“Chaise asked me the next day if I was okay. That’swhen I thought for sure that he was the one who rescuedme. Because… how else could he know about that night?”
Hunter took a deep breath and then he asked, “Did youspeak to him? Did he tell you the truth?”
I nodded. “He set it all up. He must have been justsitting there watching you rescue me. And then the nextday, he took credit for all your work!”“I don’t care if he took credit for what I did. What I could
not forgive was how he put your life on the line just to scorepoints with you.”
“When I thanked him for saving my life, he didn’t denyit. I assumed… how else could he know about that night ifhe weren’t there? The only other person with me apart fromthose lunatics was the boy who saved me.”
“Lucky for him and too bad for me, huh,” Hunter saidand I didn’t miss the tang in his voice.
“I’m sorry, Hunter,” I sobbed. “I was ignoring Chaise fora long time. I only opened up to him because I thought hesaved my life. Because I thought he was my guardian angel.And even then, I made it clear that I could only be hisfriend.”
“But at least I’m glad that he protected you when Icouldn’t be there,” Hunter said. “I’m not glad though, thathe took advantage of the situation just to get to you. If hewasn’t in the way… then I could have been with you.”
“All the while, I thought you hated me,” I whispered. “Ordidn’t even remember me.”
He shook his head. “I could never hate you. As if I couldever forget you. Your voice is a melody I replay in my headevery night before I go to bed. Your scent is engraved in mysoul, I couldn’t escape it even if I wanted to.”
“That day somebody tripped me in the hall and youcaught me, you knew who I was? You were so cold, I thoughtyou saw right through me.”
He sighed and smiled ruefully. “I had to be cold.Because if I weren’t, I would not be able to resist huggingand kissing you senseless—right there, in the middle of thecorridor.” He gave me a wistful glance. “All the time, I wasalways fighting the urge to pull you into my arms and kissyou… beg you to choose me… ask you to leave Andersonand come back to me.”
I looked down my feet and took a moment to absorbwhat he said. All the while, his anger, his frustration, hisjealousy… he didn’t know they were for nothing. He washurting when in my heart, it had always been him.I looked up and gave him a shy smile. “There’s nothing
stopping you now, is there?”
Hunter looked into my eyes for a moment and then hegave me a crooked smile. “That,” he said. “That smile. Iwent through hell and back just to see that smile.”
Tears welled up in my eyes again and I let out a smalllaugh. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks and Hunter reachedforward and wiped them with his fingers.
“I didn’t tell you how I really feel about you yet,although you already know it,” he said in a voice envelopedwith so many affections I couldn’t even begin to name.“Now, I can say those words to you and see your face, yourreaction.”I bit my lip and waited for him to say what I longed tohear since the day he left for his operation.
“I love you, Allison Harley,” he said. “Before you came, Inever even believed that love like this could exist. Love thatcould change you, make you do things… make you hope fora miracle, risk everything… make you forget who you are…make you believe that in spite of all the pains you havebeen through and everything you lost, life is still worth livingfor, still worth smiling about, still worth fighting for. When Ithought I was thrown to hell… you made me hold on to alittle piece of heaven… and gave me a reason to stand up…breathe again, live again… and be happy again.”
I was smiling and crying at the same time as I took inthe words he said to me. I wanted to freeze that moment foreternity. I wanted to memorize each word, each line andrepeat them before I slept every night.I struggled to find my voice. I took a deep breath andthen I said, “My life seemed like… a series of tragedies… afull season of horror series and scary movies. Apart fromMeredith, my parents left me with nightmares that made mescream at nights… avoid sleep whenever I could. I wasSmiling through all the gossips and looks of sympathy. I wastrying to stay calm, grounded and sane… I was trying tolook okay, to appear strong in front of people who say they
understood but really didn’t.“Then you came… you didn’t try to make me feel okay.You didn’t tell me to be strong and tough. Instead, you mademe feel that it was okay to be weak. Because I wasn’t
alone… I wasn’t the only one in pain. I wasn’t the only onestruggling to live one day at a time.“When I met you, I felt what it was like to be myselfagain. And because of that, I found a way to mend my
broken soul… I found a way to accept what happened to meand then live my life again.”
I looked up into Hunter’s eyes. I smiled at him gently.“You were the only one who chased my nightmares away.Even when you couldn’t see… I felt that you were the onlyone who really saw me… the me that I keep beneath the tough shell and fake smiles. When I thought I was stuck inthat little corner in hell, you pulled me out, rescued me and
made me believe that angels walk the earth… wingless andbeautiful in their human form.” I took a deep breath. I couldhear my heart pounding loudly inside my ribcage. “I loveyou too, Hunter Vaughn. I will thank God every day forgiving you to me… my guardian angel.”
Hunter’s eyes were teary too. He reached forward andwiped my tears again. And then he cupped my facebetween his palms and gently pulled me to him. He leanedforward and slowly closed the distance between us. Beforehis lips touched mine, he whispered, “I love you, angel.”And then he kissed me… with all the words he couldn’t say
and with all the love he felt in his heart. I kissed him back,with all the love I could give him in return.After the kiss, he pulled me into his arms and enclosedme in a tight embrace.
“I love you,” he whispered again.
I giggled in spite of my tears, “I love you, too.”
Hunter bent down and lifted me off my feet. He took afew steps towards the bench and sat on it with me on hislap. I rested my head against his shoulder. I felt him inhalethrough my hair, like the way he did before he left.We stayed there for a while, watching the fireflies
illuminate the garden around us, basking in that perfectmoment when we finally found our way back to each other’sarms, knowing this time, nothing could keep us apart andour love was stronger than it was before.
“When you were blind, you touched my face often soyou could imagine what I looked like. When you finally sawme… saw my scars… what were your first thoughts of me?”
He tightened his arms around me and kissed the top ofmy head. “I realized that my imagination wasn’t nearly asgood as I thought it was. Because you were far more beautiful than I ever imagined you would be. No wonderAnderson did whatever he could to steal you away fromme.” He reached forward and touched my scar again. “They
weren’t as bad as you made me imagine they were,” hewhispered. “You lied when you said you looked horrendous.You are nothing short of beautiful, angel. I’m glad I decidedto go through my procedure. This face is worth seeing,worth looking at…” He leaned forward and kissed my lipsgently. “Worth remembering.”
I sighed contentedly as I leaned my head against hisshoulder again. “All throughout this time, I thought you wereabhorred by the fact that you fell in love with me when youcouldn’t see what I really looked like. I thought you hatedme.”
“I hated the fact that it wasn’t me walking beside you,making you smile, hearing you laugh… protecting you andtaking care of you. And I wanted to cripple Anderson.”
He sighed. “Because if he didn’t steal a kiss from you,then I would have been the only guy who got to kiss you.”
I giggled. “Chaise stole a kiss from me. I didn’t give itaway willingly. There’s a difference. So let’s just say, you’restill the only guy I ever allowed to kiss me.”
When I looked up at Hunter, he had a gleam in his eyesand a smug grin on his face. “Good. Let’s keep it that way,shall we?” He leaned forward and kissed me again…lovingly… thoroughly.
After the kiss, I leaned against his shoulder, caressinghis hand with my fingers. I could feel his knuckles. Theywere rough, like they were covered with cuts and scratches.
“What happened to you?” I asked.
“This is nothing,” he replied.
I gently pulled away from him, looking at him sternly.“Hunter.”
He sighed. He took my hand in his and brought it up tohis lips, giving it a gentle kiss.
“Let’s just say, I gave somebody, some well-deservedlesson.”
I raised a brow at him. I remembered that Chaise’s facelooked pretty badly beaten up. I connected the dots. “Youmean to say, you beat the hell out of Chaise for what he didto us?”
He leaned forward and kissed my shoulder. “Don’t bemad,” he whispered.
“Well, I can’t say he didn’t deserve that.”
“He was gonna board the plane, leaving the diary herefor you to find, not even tell you what he did.”
“You made him tell me in person.”
“You deserved nothing less.”
Hunter leaned forward and kissed me gently. Suddenly,my phone rang, interrupting our moment. It was Denise.
“Hey!” she greeted. “Did you hear? Chaise went back toGermany. And it sounded like he will finish school there.He’s not coming back.”
I sighed. “Yeah, I guess.”
There was a pause on the other line. “You’re okay?”
“Yes. We talked. He confessed something. I don’t know ifI could ever forgive him.”
“What is it?”
“I’ll tell you everything later. Right now, I’m justenjoying my date.”
“Date? What date? And with whom?”
I saw Hunter’s lips curve into a smile.Shit!
Denise was another person I needed to come clean to. Iwould do that soon.
“My ex-boyfriend,” I replied.
There was silence on the other line. Hunter raised abrow at me,clearly saying that he wasn’t happy about thetitle I just gave him.
“I mean… well… I think he is my boyfriend again,” Isaid, correcting myself.
Hunter finally grinned again. He leaned forward and Ifelt his lips on my scars, leaving a trail of kisses down to myneck and I fought for breath as I felt all my nerves comeback to life.
“H?” Denise asked.
“Yes,” I replied weakly when I felt Hunter’s nose at thebase of neck.
“He’s back in town?”
“Yes. For a while now.” I struggled to push Hunter away.
With the things he was doing to me, I found it quite hard tobreathe, let alone think straight.
“So what took him so long to go after you?” There wasaccusation in her voice.
I sighed. “Chaise.”
“Oh. You mean, he thought you and Chaise were morethan friendly so he kept his distance?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Oh, well. I hope I get to meet him soon. I’m dying tomeet the guy who made the great Allison Harley fall headover heels in love, she could not open up her heart toanother guy, even if it was somebody as hot as Chaise.”
I saw Hunter grin at that. Denise’s voice was so loudHunter could hear her every word. I couldn’t help the blushon my face and I was quite thankful that it was dark in ourgarden.
“Actually, Denise… you already met him,” I said.
“What?” She sounded really confused. “Met him?Where?”
I took a deep breath and asked, “How many guys do youknow whose names begin with an H?”
There was silence on the other line and it seemed likeshe was thinking. Then she said, “Actually, I can’t think of aguy I know whose name starts with an H, that you couldhave…” She paused and then she wailed, “Nooo!!!”
With that, Hunter took the phone from me and said,“Stop interrupting my date, cuz. Tell your mom I would behome late. Talk to you later.” And he hung up on her.I groaned. “She is so going to kill me!”
He laughed. “She’s been trying to do that to me for thelast seventeen years but so far she hasn’t succeeded yet.Don’t worry. She’s not very good with assassination plots.”
I laughed and then I rested my head on his shoulderagain. After a minute, my phone beeped.It was Denise: Seriously, Alice? Hunter?
I smiled. Hunter took my phone from me and typed amessage: Seriously, Cuz. Me. – H
Denise: You two have some serious explaining to do. Iwanna kill both of you!Hunter chuckled.
“You’re not going to reply for me?”
He shook his head. “You’re on your own now.” Hewinked.
I pinched him on the side and he let out a yelp. Then he tightened his arms around me and kissed my cheek.I typed something on my phone for Denise: Okay, I willexplain everything later. Don’t call on a hit just yet. – Alice
I stared up at Hunter. He leaned down to kiss my lips.
“Hunter, you had a fight with Don Winston once. You justpunched him. Why?”
His face turned sober. Then he took a deep breath andkissed my forehead. “I was not in a good mood. You werelooking cozy with Anderson. I sat with Winston and hisfriends because they asked me to. I overheard them talkingabout you and how Winston poured ketchup all over you,which made you lose your job. He bragged about sayingsomething… scandalous to you, that’s why you lost your
calm and slapped him on the face. But he was able to turn
that against you and you got the wrong end of the dealinstead. I couldn’t help it. He deserved more than one punchif you ask me.”
“You… did that for me?”
“No one could hurt you and get away with it,” he said.
“Not under my watch.”
I was touched with his revelation. I didn’t know, thateven when he thought I was with somebody else, he stillprotected me and defended me from those who wanted tohurt me.
“I’m a magnet for trouble, Hunter,” I said wearily. “Youcan’t get into a fight every time because of me.”
“What’s the point of having a boyfriend, if he can’tprotect you? Avenge your honor?” he asked with a grin.
“But having a helpless girlfriend is toxic for you. Youcan’t always take that risk for me.”
“Why not?” he asked evenly. “And you’re not helpless. Ibet your power slap left an impression on Winston’s cheek.”
“But that’s not enough. I hope I could do somethingmore.”
“Okay. If you really want to learn to kick some ass, I canteach you.”
“That’s a great idea,” I said. “I have to learn how todefend myself. At the end of the day, words and pranks arenothing. Sticks and stones won’t break me. But losing youwould. So slow down on always risking your head for me.”
He smiled at me and kissed my forehead again. “I’m notas fragile as you think I am, angel.”
“I know.” I shook my head. “But please… stop temptingfate just because of me. You can pick me up and drive mehome every day, but please… no more fights. Now that youcould see again… let’s not push your luck, okay?”
He looked at me for a moment and then reluctantly, henodded. I smiled and then I reached up to kiss his lips. ThenI leaned my head on his shoulder and we both watched thefireflies dancing around us.
“Hunter, what’s the deal with Tania?” I asked. “I saw youfighting that night of the concert.”
“Tania is not our problem anymore. That night, I told herfrankly to stop hoping there will ever be a future for us. Itold her about you.”
“She must be pissed, huh.”
“Yeah, she was. She left town and went straight to myfather.”
My eyes widened as I stared back at him, in panic. Thelast thing I wanted was to cause problems between Hunterand his father.
Hunter gave me a reassuring smile. He reached forwardand pinched my nose lightly. “Don’t worry about that. Myfather and I are starting to mend our broken relationship.And he felt indebted to you.”
He nodded. “Because of you, I found the will to gothrough with the transplant. My father was thankful forthat.”
I smiled back at him. “That’s why you should take iteasy okay?”
“I’ll try,” he promised.
“Try really hard,” I said. “If not for you, then for me.”He nodded then he pulled me towards him, placing akiss on my forehead again.
“Okay. For you.”
“Did you hear me at the concert?” I asked.
His arms tightened around me. “Of course, I did,” hereplied. “I was so proud. You played that song really well.”
“I played for you, you know. I was tired of gettingignored by you. I thought when you heard me, you wouldremember me from a time in your past.”
He inhaled through my hair again. I felt him heave asigh. “I never forgot. I punched a tree after I left the concertgrounds.”
“Anderson. It should have been me walking beside you.It should have been me giving you a rose on that stage. I should have been there beside you.”
“I don’t know if I could ever forgive him,” I whispered.
“I don’t think I ever will,” he muttered. “Not for
endangering you like that.”
I leaned back against Hunter’s chest. The more I
savored the feeling of my body molding against his in a
comfortable cuddle, the angrier I got with Chaise, thinking,
Hunter and I could have been doing this all along.