As soon as Hunter’s smirk faded from his face, we saw
bright lights streak the skies, followed by the loud, booming
sounds of thunder. A few seconds later, heaven let out its
wrath and large drops of water soaked our skin.
I turned on my heel and headed back to the house. I
tried to run. Unfortunately, the rain made the dock floor
slippery and my slippers were not slip-proof. I took one step
too quick and lost my balance. I shrieked, knowing well
enough that I would fall flat on my ass in three, two…
But I felt arms wrap around me immediately, breaking
my fall, catching me. I looked up above me and saw Hunter
looking down at me with an amused expression on his face,
his arms wrapped all around me.
He pulled me up and before I could settle both my feet
on the ground to secure my balance, I felt his arms under
my legs and the floor disappeared below me. I let out
another shriek. Hunter had scooped up on his arms and
started walking towards the house.
“Put me down,” I protested.
He shook his head. “No way. You’re clumsy, Allison.”
I bit my lip. My heart pounded inside my chest again. I
couldn’t breathe and I was pretty sure my face was turning
violet from my blush.
Allison… we make a dangerous pair. I’m blind and
I remember him saying those words to me like he just
said them yesterday.
Does he remember saying them? Does he remember
me? Does he want to remember me at all? Or was I just part of the nightmares he chose to leave behind?
We reached the house and he settled me down on my
feet. We were both drenched from the rain. I refused to look
at him and went into the bathroom to grab a towel for
myself and another one for Hunter. I went back to the living
room and handed it to him. He took it without a word, also
refusing to look me in the eye.
I wrapped the towel around my shoulders to keep me
warm. Hunter took off his drenched shirt and went to the
fireplace. I watched him lit the fire. My thoughts were
running wild and my nerves were going on a haywire.
What was I going to do here alone with Hunter? The
house was not exactly huge for us to play hide and seek
while we tried to avoid each other. It was almost impossible
not to talk or even look at each other.
When he turned around, his perfect abs were exposed
to my view once again. I quickly turned away from him. I
would not be caught drooling over his body twice!
Without a word, he went to the bedroom. When he
returned, he was already wearing a fresh white shirt.
“Are you not gonna change?” he asked. “You’re going to
“I only brought one shirt from the main house,” I replied
in a quiet voice.
He went back into the bedroom and, when he returned,
he handed me a gray shirt.
“Borrow mine. Go change before you catch a cold.”
I didn’t argue with him. I took the shirt, murmuring my
thanks before I headed to the bathroom. When I went back
to the living room, Hunter was standing by the glass doors,
watching the rain. Thunder continued to bellow and it didn’t
look like the storm had any plans of stopping any minute.
I went in front of the fireplace to keep myself warm.
There was a beautiful wood coffee table beside me. The
sides were engraved with flowers and vines. The varnished table top had checkered patterns in the center. It took me a
moment to realize that the patterns made up a chessboard.
I smiled. It was cleverly done. It was very well-fitting for
the owner of the house who happened to be a chess master.
“You wanna play?” Hunter asked behind me. I turned
around to look at him. He’d been watching me look at his
chessboard coffee table.
“I don’t know,” was all I could say. And it was the only
answer I had. I didn’t know if I wanted to play against the
genius chess master in front of me. I didn’t know if I wanted
to remember our first date. I didn’t know if I could sit in front
of him for hours and pretend that we didn’t have a bomb
hanging over our heads, ready to drop and blow everything
out of proportion. I didn’t know if I could endure Hunter’s
snide remarks and insulting glares. I didn’t know if I could be
a hypocrite and pretend I could take any more of his refusal
to acknowledge me… and our past.
He walked towards the coffee table, opened the drawer
and took out the chess pieces. He quietly set the board up
and then he sat on one of the couches. He raised a brow at
me and waited for me to sit in front of him. When I didn’t
budge, he frowned. “It’s not like you’re going anywhere,” he
said dryly. “At this rate of the storm, it looks like we’ll be
stuck here for an hour, maybe more.”
I sighed and sat on the chair opposite him. Playing
chess would keep my head preoccupied with other things. It
would be a challenge to beat him in this game, but it sure
would be easier than trying to figure out what I had to do
about him in real life.
I moved my pawn. He moved his. I moved my knight. He
moved his bishop. I put my pawn as bait, he refused to take
it. Instead, he took another move that took me on a
crossroad. Take him down or take the higher road.
In a way, in real life, Hunter and I were playing chess. It
was all mind games. Each of us trying to read the other,
anticipating the other’s moves, strategizing how to save our pieces, refusing to give in to the other and trying our best to
walk away broken but victorious.
Finally, I was down to my two pieces. Hunter with four. I
reached for my bishop and hesitated. When I looked up,
Hunter was looking me intensely. He was studying me. I
couldn’t read the emotions on his face. In his eyes, I saw
disbelief and admiration that I lasted this long. But we both
knew the inevitable. Only one of us could win this game.
Only one would walk away scathe-free.
And sadly, it wouldn’t be me.
I sighed and moved my piece. The only possible move I
could make. Hunter never took his eyes away from me. He
didn’t have to look where I put my piece. He reached
forward and moved his queen. And in a soft whisper, he
I flicked my king gently in frustration. I leaned back on
my seat and stared at the chessboard. I sat there for a
whole minute, just staring at my fallen king. Realization
crept through me like a treacherous friend waiting to stab
me in the back. I would not win this.
When I raised my eyes to Hunter, I found that he was
staring at me as intensely as I was staring at my fallen
chess piece. His eyes were boring holes through my soul.
His expression was a mixture of frustration, anger and
He won. But why was he staring at me like it wasn’t
enough? Like he wasn’t done yet?
“Don’t you ever get tired of winning?” I asked in a weak
He didn’t answer at first. Then in a sober voice, he
replied, “Who said I ever win at all?” I thought there was
anger in his voice again, but he was trying to control it.
Before I could open my mouth to say something, a
booming sound interrupted us. Hunter finally took his eyes
off me and stared at the glass doors outside where the rain
was stronger than ever.
“I never said thank you,” I said. “You know… this
afternoon. You saved me. What you did was dangerous for
you… for your…” I trailed off.
It is true. He shouldn’t have jumped into the lake water
without protection on his eyes. It was dangerous for his
When I looked up, I found that Hunter was studying my
face again, as if he was trying to read the emotions behind
my words. Then he sighed and said, “It doesn’t matter.” He
paused for a while and added, “I don’t care anymore.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked, trying to control my
voice. I remembered what he said when he left. He wanted
to do the transplant so he could protect me.
He shook his head. “We do things for a reason. I did the
transplant for a reason. But that reason is… gone.”
I couldn’t bear the weight of his stare. It made me feel
sad, guilty and more broken than I already was.
“I guess we’re not going to be rescued soon,” I
murmured, standing up from my seat and turning to the
glass windows behind me, staring at the dark sky which was
being illuminated by lightning at least every ten seconds.
“We could be stuck here for hours,” he said behind me.
“I’m sure Anderson won’t be happy about that.” The tone in
his voice sounded like a combination of amusement, disgust
and mockery. I turned to look at his face. He added,
“Although if I were him, I wouldn’t have left without you in
the first place.”
His eyes were burning through my entire being. Then he
looked down my chest and my hands automatically went to
the chain around my neck, clutching the pendant in my
“Do you have something to say to me?” I asked, raising
a brow at him.
I saw him smirk again and then he shook his head. It
looked like he wanted to say something but chose not to. He looked like he was about to let hell break lose, but at the
last moment, he was able to get a grip of his emotions.
I couldn’t understand him. It seemed that he was
harboring very ill feelings for me. Since he came back, he’d
done all he could to ignore me, avoid me. And whenever we
were in the same room, he looked at me like it was me who
did something terrible to him.
If there was one person who had a right to be mad, it
was me! I waited for him for more than a year, hoping he
would make good of his promises before he left. But when
he came back, he acted like I was nothing to him… that he
couldn’t care less about me.
And then Tania came. There was a girl in his past that he
forgot to tell me about. And now that he wasn’t blind
anymore, she was the perfect girl for him again.
I glared at him angrily. I could feel fury flaring inside me
in magnitudes I could barely control.
I’m done taking crap from him! He had ignored me far
too much. He knew me. He remembered me. But he was
ashamed to let people know of that!
No one’s here with us now. It’s the perfect time to finally
Whatever he’s thinking, he can say it in my face.
Whatever I felt, it was time to tell him, and then we can
finally go on our separate ways and forget about each other
“What did I ever do to you, Hunter?” I asked in a weak
voice. I took a deep breath to gather more courage. “Why
does it seem like you’re always mad at me? Like the mere
presence of me disgusts you!”
Tears rolled down my cheeks but I refused to back down.
I started this already. I found the courage to finally confront
him. Even if it hurt! I need to know the truth, so I could
move on with my life. I needed closure.
“Tell me, Hunter Vaughn! Why do you hate me so much?
What did I ever do to you?”
He stared back at me with a shocked expression on his
face, like he wasn’t expecting my sudden outrage. He was
not prepared to answer the questions I was asking him.
He shook his head. “Allison…”
I stood there, tears streaming down my cheeks. In
broken sobs, I asked, “Why do you look at me like I was a…
a plague? Don’t you ever get tired of glaring at me? Ignoring
me? Aren’t you tired of playing these games?”
Finally, he stood up from his seat and slowly walked
towards me. He stood too close, we were almost touching
from the knees up. I stared up at him and tried to make out
the expression on his face.
He sucked in a deep breath. “You’re wrong.” He shook
his head. Surprisingly, his voice was calm… gentle even. “I
don’t hate you. And I’m most definitely not disgusted by
you. You read me all wrong.”
I stared up at him squarely. I didn’t say anything, but I
was letting him know that I’m not going to back down.
As his eyes searched mine, I could see the frustration on
his face. He raised his hand and pushed a lock of hair away
from my face. He tucked it behind my ear, exposing my scar
to his view. Then he whispered, “But you’re right.” His
expression was broken, his voice was hoarse. “I am tired.”
He took another heavy breath and then he added, “I’m tired
of fighting this.”
And suddenly, his arms snaked around my waist as he
pulled me to him. Then he leaned forward and covered my
lips with his. Before I could even blink, Hunter was kissing
me… thoroughly… passionately.
He kissed me like he found an opportune moment to
steal a little piece of heaven. He kissed me like he couldn’t
find the right things to say and, instead, he was pouring out
all his emotions, all his anger in those kisses. He kissed me like… he’d been wanting to kiss me but thought this
moment would never happen anymore.
I didn’t think… couldn’t think even if I wanted to. My
own arms came to life and they wrapped themselves around
Hunter’s neck. I kissed him back. I kissed him like I wanted
to pour out all my bottled emotions in that kiss. I kissed him
like I have been wanting to kiss him since the day he left
Hunter lifted me off my feet and carried me towards the
bedroom like I weighed nothing. His lips never left mine, his
arms were like iron chains around my waist.
He gently laid me on the mattress of his bed. I moaned
as intense emotions spiraled through me with a force I could
His palm touched my cheek and I felt him caress my
scar. His touch was familiar against my damaged skin. He
kissed my jaw, my neck and then finally, he kissed my
scars… the way he used to kiss them before he left.
Then he rested his forehead against my chin and
breathed in the scent of me. Sobs were escaping my lips,
tears were flowing endlessly from my eyes.
He raised his head so he could look at me. When I found
the courage to look back at him, I saw that tears were
rolling down his cheeks too. He was looking down at me with
a broken expression on his face and then he wiped my tears
with his fingers.
He took a deep breath and asked, “Does it look like I’m
appalled by you at all, Allison?”
I bit my lip but didn’t answer.
He nodded slowly. “But you’re right. I was trying my
damn best to stay away from you. But not because of the
reasons you thought.” He sucked in another deep breath.
“Every time I looked at you, Allison, I’m resisting the urge to
pull you into my arms… and kiss you like I just did.”
He gently pulled away from me and sat up from the bed.
“What are you saying, Hunter?” I sat up on the bed
beside him, lifting my knees to my chest to hug them.
He looked at me with a wistful expression on his face.
Then he said, “I’m saying I want you, Allison. And it kills me
every single day that we cannot be together.”
We cannot be together?
I wiped the tears on my cheeks.
“You want me but you’re mad at me. You want me but
we cannot be together. Because I wasn’t perfect. Because
you deserved better,” I muttered.
I stared at him evenly.
“What did you say?” he asked again.
I shook my head. “What was I thinking, right? Did I really
make myself believe that the great Hunter Vaughn would
really want to be with a broken girl like me?”
“How could you say that?” he asked. His voice was low,
sober, as he tried to control his emotions.
“How could I not say that? Since you arrived in school,
you always looked like you’re mad at me, like I did
something so grave to you. It’s not fair because I have no
idea what it was.”
He stood up from the bed and walked towards the
window. I watched his handsome face illuminated by the
streaks of lightning from the sky outside.
“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe it’s because I am
“What did I ever do to you?”
He sighed. “It’s what you didn’t do for me.” Slowly, he
turned around to face me. His eyes were brimmed with
tears. He blinked them back and then he stared back at me
with a sullen expression on his face. Then he said, “You
didn’t wait for me. And you broke my heart… Angel.”
I didn’t even dare breathe. I looked into his eyes, trying
to absorb what he said.
I realized that all this time he was breaking my heart, he
was doing it because his heart was broken too. Because he
thought I gave up on him… I gave up on us.
He looked into my eyes and for the first time I saw his
pain. I saw the tears he wanted to shed, the heartache he
was trying to conceal with anger and arrogance.
For once, he was not hiding his emotions from me. I saw
the boy I fell in love with during our brief moments in our
garden. I also saw a broken boy… pained, heartbroken and
frustrated. He looked like a guy who tried so hard and did
everything he could… only to find out that his fight was not
worth it… that he was too late.
I looked up at him. A tear rolled down his cheek.
“Hunter…” I whispered.
He took a deep breath.
“I need some air,” he said in a low, soft voice. He walked
towards the door and closed the door behind him.
I threw myself in the bed. I hugged a pillow, buried my
face on it and cried my heart out.
All this time, Hunter was shielding the pain he hid
inside. When I thought he was being a prick, he was actually
I lay on the bed, motionless, listening to the uneven
beats of the rain on the rooftop, feeling the rhythmic
thumping of my heart inside my chest.
I was sure my eyes would be swollen in the morning. But
I knew that no matter how many more tears I shed tonight,
it wasn’t going to make things better. Hunter and I lost a lot
of time being apart. And until now, I couldn’t see a hope for
Maybe we were never meant to be together in the first
place. Or maybe we were meant to be torn apart by bad
timing and a series of unfortunate misunderstandings.
Fatigue and heartache got the better of me. I closed my
eyes and fell asleep, hoping that the nightmares would not
come chasing me again, hoping that when I wake up,Hunter wouldn’t be hurting because of me. And I wouldn’t
be hurting because of him.
I didn’t know how long I’d slept. But when I opened my
eyes again, I found myself staring into Hunter’s beautiful
blue eyes. He was lying on his side beside me. He didn’t
look like he had slept at all. He was watching me with tired,
He raised a hand to push a lock of hair away from my
cheeks, exposing my scars to his view. He gently touched
them with his cool fingers.
“You didn’t eat,” he whispered softly.
“I wasn’t hungry.”
“You didn’t have anything all day.” I could hear the
concern in his voice.
“Did you eat?”
He shook his head. “I wasn’t hungry.”
“What time is it?”
“Six in the morning.”
“Did you sleep?”
He shook his head again. “I couldn’t sleep either.”
“Are you still mad at me?”
He sighed. “I don’t think I can ever stay mad at you,
The way he said the word ‘angel’ made me want to cry
again. It sounded so soft, so gentle against his lips.
“You didn’t tell me you had a girlfriend when you left
He blinked back at me. He drew his brows together and
said, “I would have told you if I was aware that I had a
girlfriend in Jacksonville. Seriously, I was blinded. I didn’t
“Come on, Hunter. Tania?”
“Tania?” he echoed. “Seriously?”
“No, I’m kidding.” I replied sarcastically.
He shook his head. “Tania and I were childhood friends.
Our parents were best friends. We’ve known each other since first grade,” he explained. “Maybe our parents wanted
us to end up together. I guess she’s in on the plan too. But I
wasn’t. Never was.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Yes. Because I’m telling the truth,” he replied.
“She came here and she was all over you,” I argued.
“Did you see me all over her?” he asked evenly.
“I can’t really say. You spent all your time hating the
“You would too if you went through a corneal transplant
only to live each day watching your girlfriend with another
“Anderson,” he replied.
“Chaise is just my friend.”
“You might want to recheck that because the rest of the
world didn’t get the memo—including Anderson himself!”
“I made it clear to him that I couldn’t offer him more
than friendship. But he was… persistent.”
“Then you should have told him to fuck off!”
I shook my head. “I couldn’t hurt Chaise’s feelings. He’s
become a dear friend. I owe him a lot. More than anything, I
owe him my life.”
Hunter raised a brow. “Your life?”
I nodded. “My life hadn’t been a walk in the park,
Hunter. I battled and survived all sorts of obstacles, pains
and dangers. From stupid, mean high school kids to
potheads who dared take advantage of me.”
I nodded. “I was walking home one night. I was in the
wrong place at the wrong time. I almost got… assaulted or
molested. And Chaise happened to be there. He followed me
home and thank God he did. He saved me.”
I still shiver at the memory of that night. If it weren’t for
Chaise, I wouldn’t be here anymore. Hunter wouldn’t even
be able to see me at all.
“He… he saved you?” Hunter asked. The tone of his
voice told me he couldn’t believe Chaise was capable of
doing that at all. He shifted in the bed to lie on his back,
staring at the ceiling above us.
“I have always been telling Chaise to stay away from
me. But I was thankful that he didn’t listen. Because if he
did, then something really bad would have happened to me.
I was just really grateful to him for saving me.”
Hunter continued boring holes at the ceiling. I wish he
would understand why Chaise meant a lot to me now. And I
couldn’t bear to hurt his feelings too.
I looked up and saw the frown on Hunter’s face. He
looked angry again. And I knew it was because of what I
said about Chaise. But I couldn’t help that. I wasn’t in love
with Chaise but that did not mean I didn’t care if his heart
I let out a sad sigh when I thought about the people who
would be unhappy or heartbroken if Hunter and I got
But on the other hand… it was me. It was Hunter. It was
a case of us versus them.
I lay on my back too, looking straight towards the
ceiling, lost in my own thoughts.
“I feel like there are many forces in the world that
wouldn’t allow us to be together,” I murmured.
Hunter didn’t say anything for a while. Then I felt him
move closer to me, propping up on an elbow so he could
look into my eyes. He searched my face for a moment. Then
he reached forward and gently caressed my scar with the
back of his fingers.
I raised my hand to his face and touched his cheek. He
turned sideways and kissed my palm. Then he turned to look at me in the eyes again.
“We’d be hurting a lot of people.”
“Well, I don’t really give a damn about what they feel,”
he said in a serious voice. “Especially Anderson. He can go
eat his heart out for all I care! You were mine first. You’re
Then he leaned forward and captured my lips in his. He
kissed me gently at first. And then his kisses became even
I savored the feel of his velvet lips on mine. He moved
so he was on top of me now. He left a trail of kisses from my
lips to my scars. He kissed them gently and then he nuzzled
my neck. I moaned involuntarily as I felt him suck gently on
“Angel…” he whispered.
He pulled away so he could look into my eyes. The look
on his face was gentle and rough, triumphant and dark all
the same time, like he was having an inner battle within
himself. He kissed me again with fevered passion, but I
could feel he was controlling his emotions, trying his best to
take it slow for fear of scaring me off.
I wasn’t sure where this was going but I sure as hell
didn’t want it to stop.
We had hurt each other in the past. And before this, I
couldn’t even picture us kissing like this.
I felt his hand on my thigh as he pulled my leg up. He
caressed my skin as he nuzzled my neck, giving me
goosebumps, making me moan.
“Hunter…” I whispered his name.
“I have always loved the sound of my name on your lips,
angel,” he whispered as he nipped at my earlobe. “Say it
I took a deep breath. “Hunter.”
I felt his hands on the edge of the shirt I was wearing.
Then his fingers gently slid under it, touching my bare skin.
I didn’t really know where this was headed, but I knew
that it felt good. It felt wonderful because it was with
Hunter. It didn’t feel awkward or unsettling like the way I felt
whenever Chaise put an arm around me or hugged me.
Hunter’s embrace felt like home… his kisses felt like
If we were going too fast, I didn’t feel it. If this was
wrong, I simply didn’t care. I was a virgin, but I knew… I’d
always known since our first date… my first time would be
I felt his hand moving up higher and my heart couldn’t
stop pounding loudly inside my ribcage. I wrapped my arms
around his neck, pulling him to me, giving him permission.
We were startled at the sound of Denise’s voice outside
the house. We immediately stopped kissing, and blinked
back at each other like we were pulled back from the state
of trance we were in.
We pulled away from each other. I sat up and Hunter
stood up on the opposite end of the bed.
He looked at me apologetically. He opened his mouth to
say something but the door barged open before a word
could escape his lips.
“Alice!” Denise said walking towards me. “Are you
I did not even know what I looked like. My hair was
definitely disheveled. My lips were probably bruised from
Hunter’s kisses and I knew my face was a whole new shade
“I’m fine, Denise,” I said, combing my hair with my
fingers, trying my best to look nonchalant.
She hugged me. It was only then that I saw Chaise
standing behind her. He was staring at Hunter, who was
leaning against the wall.
Hunter had a grave look on his face directed towards
Chaise. He looked like he wanted to punch the living
daylights out of Chaise, but he was trying his damn best not
to make a scene. He didn’t want to fight him. Not here. Not
now. Not in front of me.
I held my breath. I could feel blood pulsing through my
Oh God! Please don’t let them fight!
Chaise tore his gaze from Hunter and walked towards
me. He reached out his hand to cup my cheek with his palm.
Then he pulled me towards him and gave me a hug, much
to my surprise. I didn’t hug him back.
I reluctantly looked at Hunter. He was watching us
carefully. The expression on his face was stoic, but I knew
him better. Beneath that ice cold façade, he was fuming
with anger. I quickly tore myself away from Chaise’s
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern written all over his
face. There were dark circles beneath his eyes. It seemed he
too, didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I nodded, slightly pulling away from him. “I’m okay.”
“I was so worried about you,” Chaise said. “We wanted
to come back for you but we couldn’t because of the very
“He almost came back for you,” Denise said. “I almost
tied him up to make sure he doesn’t get on the boat to
“You didn’t have to worry. We were perfectly safe here,”
I assured him.
“I told him Hunter would make sure nothing will happen
Chaise’s face hardened at the mention of Hunter’s
name. I stole a glance at Hunter. He shook his head and
walked out of the room.
I wanted to run after him, but decided not to. If ever
Hunter and I would be together, I needed to do this right. I had to set things straight. And I just might break Chaise’s
heart in the process.
As soon as Hunter’s smirk faded from his face, we saw