🕊WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊
The minute I locked Alibri’s door that night, I saw Chaise
standing in front of his pickup. He usually drove his Porsche
to school, but I didn’t really have to ask what happened to
that car. He must have sent it to the garage. I could only
imagine the sharp dent my attacker left on it with his army
We didn’t speak on the way home, like I didn’t know
what to say to him. When he stopped in front of my house, I
thanked him and he smiled at me. He didn’t leave until he
was sure I was safely inside.
The next day, he sat with me and Denise in the
cafeteria. Denise looked at him as if he grew an extra head.
“Seriously, leave so we can talk about you,” Denise said
I glared at her.
Chaise turned to me with a smug smile. “So… you talk
about me?” he asked.
“No!” I replied a little too defensively. That was true.
Denise talked about him. I was an unwilling participant in
“Like, really? Why are you here?” Denise asked him.
He shrugged. “Alice is my friend too, Miss…” he trailed
off. “What’s your name again?”
Denise glared at him.
“Anyway…” Chaise continued. “I want to sit and have
lunch with my friend. Even if it included other less nice
people within her circle.”
Denise was about to retort back with something but I
stopped her. “Guys! Do you want me to leave? You can do this all day by yourselves. I think you got it covered. You
don’t need me here.”
They stopped talking at once. We ate in silence for the
first five minutes. Then Chaise asked, “How’s your Lit paper
“Practically writing itself,” I replied.
Denise groaned. “I haven’t even started mine.”
Our teacher asked us to write a review of the bestsellers
tackling the controversies in religion. I already picked out
The Da Vinci Code. I have read that book about a thousand
times. Chaise and Denise both said they were lost. They
hadn’t even chosen a book to review yet.
“Why don’t I go to the bookshop with you today?” he
asked me. “I can read there while you work and do your
That did sound like a good idea. I had a feeling he would
insist on picking me up again anyway.
So why don’t I do him a favor and help him write his
“Can I come too? I still don’t know what to write about,”
I smiled at her excitedly. “That would be a great idea!”
“It was a great idea until five seconds ago,” Chaise
“I heard that,” Denise said glaring at him. She turned to
me. “I’m okay to go, right?”
“No,” Chaise said.
“Says who?” Denise asked.
“Says the nephew of the owner of the bookshop,”
Chaise replied evenly.
“She’s okay to go,” I said. I turned to Chaise. “Says the
night manager of the bookshop.”
“Fine,” Chaise said in defeat.
Denise smiled triumphantly. Then she gathered her tray.
“I have to go to my next class early. I haven’t done my homework yet.”
“Last minute?” I asked her in disbelief.
“Yeah,” she replied. “I couldn’t concentrate in the
house. My menace of a cousin brought some trouble home
again. But nothing interesting. I’ll catch you later.”
I turned back to Chaise. “Mr. Anderson… you promised
you will be my friend. And that means you should befriend
whoever I am friends with.”
“Seriously? Her?” he asked.
I raised a brow at him. He sighed. “Fine. I thought I could
get some alone time with you, so you could get to know
I bit my lower lip. “Chaise…” I started. “Why are you
doing this? I mean… look around you. Plenty of girls are
glaring at me right now because you’re sitting here having
lunch with me. You can have your pick. Why are you
insisting on my company?”
He shrugged. “Is it not obvious?” he asked.
“I’m… naïve. Stupid even,” I replied dryly.
He smiled at me sheepishly. “I… like you.”
I stared at him like he lost his mind. “Have you… seen
me? My scars? And how horrible they looked?”
“I’m naïve. Blind even,” he said with a grin. “You look
night. My hand involuntarily went to my pendant and I
clutched it tightly in my hand.
I see you… and you… look unbelievably beautiful to me.
I looked down on my tray, tried my best not to let the
tears well up my eyes.
Chaise reached forward and tilted my chin up. I pulled
away from his touch.
“Did I say something wrong?” he asked.
I shook my head and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” I
said, keeping my voice steady. “But seriously, Chaise…don’t get your hopes up. I am not looking for a boyfriend.
But I mean it… I would like you to be my friend.”
he nodded. “Okay. No pressure. I will be your friend. But
don’t question me every time I call you or want to hang out
with you. Or if I want to pick you up at nights from work, so I
can make sure you’re home safely. Friends do that, you
I smiled at him. As long as he was okay with being
friends, that would be fine. Because the thought of going
out with him on a real date actually made me feel like
something was wrong… like I was cheating.
That evening at the bookshop, I worked on my novel
while Chaise and Denise raided the shelves for a book they
could read. For the first time in many months, I felt relaxed,
and happy. For the first time since Hunter left, I didn’t feel
alone. I could smile for real. Even the constant bickering of
Denise and Chaise made me laugh genuinely.
I may be an orphan, I may be poor and scarred and my
quasi-boyfriend may never come back, but I guess for now…
I could live one day at a time… with Meredith, who patiently
loved me all these years… with Denise, who gave up a
glamorous high school life to be my friend… and now with
Chaise, who may have wanted more from me, but was
willing to accept my friendship instead.
Instead of working on my essay, I took my diary from
I would give anything just so you would be with me…
here… tonight. In the company of my friends. You will like
them. Well… maybe not Chaise so much.
You see… Chaise was the guy who saved me the other
night. He had been following me home… making sure I was
safe each night after I go to work. Then when my luck ran
out, he was there to rescue me… like a guardian angel God sent to make sure I won’t have new nightmares to escape
He told me he liked me. But hey! Look up! I already told
him we could only be friends. I still can’t date anybody.
I sort of told this perfect guy I would wait for him. And
I’m still waiting. I still believe that one day… I would see him
again… touch him… kiss him… hear him say the words he
should have said to me before he left… so I could say them
back to him.
Come back to me, Hunter. It’s still you. It will always be
I finished my letter just as Denise went up to the
counter. I immediately closed it and hid it from her view. But
too late, she already saw it.
“Writing in your diary again?” she asked.
I just shrugged. “Just docvmenting my life.”
“Take care of that. Somebody might get hold of it and
take it to a Hollywood producer. Your life… is epic.” She
smiled at me. And I know she didn’t mean that in a bad way.
“So have you chosen your book?”
She nodded. “Chaise is battling me for it, though.”
“Toss a coin.” I grinned at her.
“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “He can choose the same.
I’m sure I would write a better review than him anyway.”
I closed up at ten. We all headed to Chaise’s pickup.
“Where’s your Porsche?” Denise asked as she slipped
into the backseat.
“Ahh… garage,” Chaise replied. His voice told me he
didn’t want to talk about it. And I knew why. I didn’t want to
talk about that night too.
I smiled at him, my eyes telling him how thankful I was
for the sacrifice he made.
“I’m starving,” Chaise said. “Can we all grab a bite
before we go?”
“Best thing you ever said all night,” Denise agreed.
We went to Burger Inn. As the waitress served our
orders, I thought about the times I spent in this place being
made fun of by the kids at school. I could say that it was
only a couple of weeks since the day Don Winston poured
ketchup all over me, but my life was undeniably better now.
I not only had a better job, I also gained a new friend.
We dropped Denise off her house. It was the first time I
saw where she lived.
Damn! She was rich!
Her house was at least three floors high with a huge
garden in front.
“Goodnight, guys,” she said chirpily. Then she turned to
Chaise. “If you ever lay a finger on her, I swear I will call a
hit on you and your body will be found lifeless in the
“I might do that just to call your bluff, you know,” Chaise
said in a challenging tone.
“If I’m bluffing, that is,” she said. Then she turned to
me. “Call me as soon as you’re home.”
Chaise and I drove in silence for a couple of minutes.
Then he asked, “You okay?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Thank you for doing driver duties.”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied.
“I never asked you where you came from before you
Chaise told me that he was born and raised in Germany.
His father took a job in town, thus they all had to relocate.
“I didn’t know if I was going to fit in,” he said. “I told my
mother I’ll give it a year. If I don’t like it, I’ll go back to
Germany. How about you? Any college plans?”
I nodded. “I was hoping to get a scholarship in a
“Why do you have to work after school, if you don’t
mind me asking?”
“I don’t have parents who would work for me,” I replied
“Who do you stay with?”
“My aunt,” I replied. “But I can’t really make her work
for everything. She has her own life too. Like me… she was
also forced into this… setup.”
He fell silent for a moment. “I’m sorry. I heard about
what happened to you.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m sure the kids in school didn’t
waste time before filling you in with the gory details of my
“I’m glad they did, though.”
I stared at him and raised a brow.
“Well… when I first saw you, I thought you were pretty.
And you have this mystery that envelops you. Kids may
make fun of you or insult you every minute they get, but I
saw how you never let that bother you. You looked tough
and I admired your spirit. I heard about what happened to
you and I thought I’ve never known anyone stronger than
you are.” He paused for a while and then he added, “One
day, I went to Strung with my uncle to pick up a gift for my
sister. I saw you there. You were playing the guitar like a
rock star and you sang too. I thought… damn! What a girl!”
“That was why you were calling me ‘Rock Princess’?” I
asked. “You heard me play before?”
He nodded. “I liked you from that day. And I like you
even more whenever I see you stand up for yourself and
never let the kids at school get to you.”
“People at school can be so mean sometimes. They
make me their target because they know I could not
retaliate. Or I would not have the means to fight back.”
“The guys were just jerks,” he said. “The girls were just
“Jealous?” I echoed.
He stared at me for a moment. “I’m not the only one
charmed by you, you know.”
That struck me as a joke, I actually laughed.
Chaise shook his head. “Your scars are not that bad,
Alice. When boys talk about you in the locker rooms, they
don’t mention your scars at all. And this is inside
information. Believe me.”
“Even if I believe you… I don’t care, Chaise,” I said. “I
just want to be out of this place. Go to a university in a city
where no one has read the headlines about me.”
“You have less than a year left, and it will all turn
positive for you.” He smiled at me reassuringly.
“I hope you’re right.”
Chaise dropped me off in front of my house. I got down
from the car and waved goodbye to him.
“Thanks for the lift,” I said.
“I’ll be doing the same tomorrow.”
I shook my head. “Nope. Tomorrow, I get off at six. It’s a
“Then I’ll pick you up at five-fifty-nine,” he said, flashing
me a charming smile.
“Okay, whatever gives you the kick.” I laughed.
A week later on a Monday, I walked the corridors to my
locker. I felt like something was different. I didn’t feel like
anybody’s attention was on me at all. Like something else
captured their fancy and I was old news. I was able to put a
smile on my face for a change. I felt invisible.
When I reached my locker, I saw Denise. She had a
frown on her face.
“What’s wrong with you today?” I asked her.
“Everything!” she said in a frustrated tone.
“Okay, can you at least name one?”
She sighed. “My cousin.”
Over the last few months, she kept mentioning about a
troublesome cousin, but she never really wanted to discuss it. Now, I wonder what happened that gave her a foul mood
on my first good Monday morning.
I felt an arm around my shoulder and I didn’t have to
guess who it belonged to.
“Good morning, ladies,” Chaise greeted us in his usual
cheerful attitude. For almost two weeks now, the three of us
looked like a threesome. Wherever Denise and I were,
Chaise would follow. He never missed an opportunity to try
to charm me. But nothing had changed. I still liked him as a
friend and I told him that every day. But I had grown
comfortable with him. I had started trusting him. I found
that we operated on the same wavelength most of the time.
He could make me laugh and I realized nobody dared insult
me when he was around. If somebody did, he would not
hesitate to scowl at them and his murderous stares alone
were enough to send anyone running the opposite direction.
Some kids in our school regarded him as some sort of
royalty. “How are my girls today?” he asked both of us.
“I’m happy,” I said smiling up at him. “For the first time
in what seemed like years, I’m not the talk of the town. I’m
a fly on the wall. Nobody cares about me. And that’s the
way I want it.”
Chaise and I both stared at Denise. She sighed and said,
“Yeah. That’s because there’s a new talk of the town.”
I raised a brow at her.
“My cousin decided to live among the lesser mortals
again,” she said.
I stared at her blankly. Chaise also didn’t look like he
knew what Denise was talking about.
“If gods live among us, he would be one of them. And he
knows it. Unfortunately, so do my parents and everyone
else around me.”
“Sorry, sweetheart,” Chaise said. “We still don’t get
Denise sighed. “Prepare to be dethroned, Chaise
Anderson. Somebody just checked in to the campus who’s a bigger king than you are.”
Chaise rolled his eyes. “As if I care,” he said. Then he
turned to me. “As long as I’m the king in your world, I don’t
I faked a cough. “Nothing’s changed, Anderson,” I said
“Better luck next time.” I laughed and took Denise’s arm.
“Come, we’ll be late for our class. I’m feeling positive today.
Remind me to thank your cousin later.”
All throughout the day I had been hearing about a new
guy’s arrival in our school. Apparently, he was swoon-
worthy, mysterious, snob, really rich and totally hot.
I didn’t understand why Denise wasn’t happy or proud
about that. I never had any cousins. I’d always wanted one.
I wondered why she thought he was a curse to her.
Denise was nowhere to be found during lunch, so I
shared our table only with Chaise.
He sat on the chair beside me. We were both facing the
window, our backs facing the rest of Leighton High’s
population. I preferred it that way. I didn’t want to see any of
my schoolmate’s face when I ate.
I ate my lunch in silence. I didn’t mind Chaise beside
me. His arm was slung at the back of my seat. He was
comfortable to be with and he learned how to sync with me.
He knew there were times that I enjoyed my thoughts to
“Freaking hooootttt!” some girl behind us said. The
other girls with her agreed and they all sounded like they
Yep. High school drama. Soap opera every day!
Chaise rolled his eyes.
“I don’t think they were talking about you, you know,” I
He chuckled. “I know. It’s the new guy.”
“I hope your ego’s not hurt, though.” I hadn’t seen
Denise’s cousin yet. But I’d been hearing a lot about him.
Many of the girls who had seen him already fancied
themselves in love with him.
Chaise put an arm around my shoulders again and gave
me a gentle squeeze. “Of course not! The prettiest girl in
school is still sitting here beside me. He should actually be
jealous of me.”
I gave him a gentle push. I know he was teasing. But
words like that actually helped build a little confidence in
me. For a few seconds, even with my scars, I didn’t feel like
there was something horrendous about me at all.
Before I went to class, I decided to make a stop by my
locker. I was hoping to see Denise and ask why she wasn’t
able to join us for lunch. Chaise decided not to walk me to
class today, which was fine by me. I was positive no one
would harass me along the way. Even if somebody did… I’d
perfected the skill of ignoring them. This was high school. I
was just passing through.
But apparently, some people just couldn’t resist. I know
these kids hated me and they liked to make fun of me. And
seeing me unprotected by either Chaise or Denise was just
too good for them to resist.
As I walked down the hall, a few meters from my locker,
somebody deliberately put their leg on the way, causing me
to trip. Sometimes, I forget that I was clumsy.
Shit! I knew I was going to fall face first on the floor. I
braced myself for the pain that would follow. But just as I
was about to lose my balance, I felt something wrap around
me, catching me, preventing my fall.
I caught a whiff of sweet, masculine perfume as strong
arms held me tightly, securing my balance. The hall seemed
to have frozen, and I was sure that all eyes were on me and
the person who caught me.
The first thing I saw was a red jacket on broad
shoulders. It was a guy who caught me. He kept his arms
around me, and they felt so warm… so safe… and in a weird
way… so familiar.
I dared myself to look up his face and what I saw made
my heart stop beating at once. My breath caught in my
throat and I fought the urge to faint right then and there.
He was looking down at me with those beautiful blue
eyes that felt like they could see through my soul.
An eternity seemed to have passed us by. Everything
stopped moving. I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t see
anything. Only his handsome face.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I couldn’t find the courage to speak. I fought the tears
that threatened to well up in my eyes.
He settled me on my feet. The moment he released me
and stepped away from me, I was taken back to reality. I
stared at his familiar face, which now has a frown on it.
Somehow, something was wrong. He looked… annoyed. At
I stared back at him with a confused expression on my
“Take it easy, okay?” he said in a cold voice. And with
that, he walked away, stealing a sideway glance at the girl
who tripped me deliberately.
I didn’t understand what just happened. He looked right
at me, but somehow, I felt like he looked right through me. I
stared at his back as he walked down the halls, oblivious of
the sighs of the girls around him, careless of the way they
were staring at him with hopeful eyes. He was walking a
perfect straight line with absolute precision and confidence.
No… Hunter Vaughn was not blind anymore. But
somehow… he made feel like he could not see me at all.