Cold Heart

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A Truce

Claire slowly opened her eyes when Hunter gently broke their kiss.

Despite how great the kiss was, or how she felt a glimpse of Hunter’s loving vibes, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was only used by him to reach a bigger goal. Knowing that she looked down, feeling less of herself.

“Satisfied?--” Claire said coldly. Her lips were still reddened from the kiss and she was blushing, unintentionally.

Never…? Hunter said inside. He just stood in silence with his cold emotionless face like he always looked, even though on the inside, he was too, adjusting himself. What had he done? How could he fail to hold back? What had gotten into him?

“--Because if I don’t know any better, I’d say that you just fooled me,” Claire said upsetly.

“There’s no one here to convince, and I don’t need to convince you.” Claire slightly pointed her finger on his chest. “In case you forgot, I work as a shrink for a living. --So, basically-- it’s like I’m so good at wearing masks, concealing our feelings--or in my case? Playing the part of being your wife! So, please, give me some credit.” She said, feeling a little bit out of breath from speaking too fast.

Claire’s cheeks were reddening between her cute angry eyes and her fists, Hunter noticed those. He was clenching his jaws. Deep down he couldn’t decide what to say, but he knew his pride was pierced either by her words.

Or rejection? Did she just object to being kissed by him? Hunter thought inside.

“It’s just a kiss,” Hunter said flatly. “And we’re practicing. Why do you have to make a big deal?”

“Really? Why do we even have to practice when we’re alone? And tell me...how far do you...--plan this practice will go?” Claire pressed back.

Yeah, why? How far? She’s right and she’s got you. Hunter thought inside. He was slightly looking away as he ran his hair with his fingers. It was the first time he ever got confused in talking back at her, he even backed down a bit.

“Well…--” He slightly paused. “...if you manage to be cool about this when we’re alone, you’ll manage to be more convincing in front of others.” Nice excuse. He thought.

“Well I said, I got this!” Claire said, squinting her eyes. “I say, let’s just minimize-- all unnecessary PDAs which in my opinion? Might expose us and show that we’re trying too much.” Claire pushed again as she took one step forward, showing Hunter that she too could decide.

“I am not just some girl that you could fool around to kiss-- anytime you want…! And I don’t want to complicate things, o-or confuses my feelings...in this--fake marriage.” Claire continued.

“Besides… Let’s not forget about our little agreement. I mean--” she started to lose her calm again. “A-about any kind of affections or th-that stuff... It’s in the deal too... Right?” Claire crossed her arms and kept her head high.

“That…stuff…? Oh, you mean --Sex?” He scoffed and slightly looked away before getting back at her.

“Tell me, Claire…I’m not saying that I will ever -- try to get under your skirt-- but let’s just say that one day I was drunk or crazy enough to have sex with you. What can you do about it?” He challenged her sarcastically.

Claire was speechless, trying to recall the agreement’s term about sex, her mouth was partly dropping in shock as she took a deep gasp. Is he right? How could I miss that? She thought.

“Right! Because you can’t do anything about it anyway. Hey, don’t blame me, I did tell you to bring your attorney with you.” He said as he stepped forward, showing Claire his authority.

“And what did you say about-- confuse your feelings?” He scoffed again. “What? Like love?... Do me a favor? Don’t flatter yourself, Claire.” Hunter’s face got stone-cold as he was slightly leaning his head closer.

“Listen to me very carefully,--because I’m just gonna say this once!” He emphasized. “I will --never!…fall in love with the daughter of my enemy.” He said between his clenched jaw.

“So, do me a favor. Keep in mind that--whatever affection you thought I’m giving you in the future? It’s an act…! it’s not real. It...will...never, be real!”

Claire was just staring at Hunter for a moment with her steady face and her round eyes, even though on the inside she was devastated.

She didn’t realize that Hunter despised her that much. Luckily, she could hold her tears and her eyes weren’t too glassy. Maybe, on the bright side, she started to get used to Hunter’s mean side and got stronger. She said inside, soothing herself.

“I wouldn’t dare to imagine…that…at all,” Claire said softly with a bit of a cold voice. “What I’m trying to say is...I know that I’m obligated to do whatever that has been written in the deal… but you don’t own me.” Claire steadily said, staring back at Hunter’s eyes.

“There will be no more...unnecessary practices like that kiss,” Claire added before she was taking her Ice cream and left Hunter alone.

Hunter let her go despite the fact that their conversation wasn’t finished. For a moment there, he was just watching her back and blaming himself afterward.

What’s wrong with me?! Fucking idiot! He thought as he ruffled his hair before pouring another round of his whiskey.

Behind the closed door, Claire was sitting on her bed. She tried to focus her mind on her ice cream, but she couldn’t help herself crying.

Claire put her ice cream away before throwing her body on the bed and let herself cried silently. She took a deep breath and told herself that she knew herself. She didn’t need some stranger to define who she was, or to tell her that she was worthy. Particularly, not Hunter.

He doesn’t know me… Just breath, Claire…This is only temporary… This too shall pass… Claire said inside, repeatedly.

But why did it still hurt her so much?

Why did Hunter’s words affect her that much?

And why couldn’t she hate him?

***

The Next Morning, on the way to Mobwit City.

The atmosphere inside the car was intensely silent. Hunter decided to take Claire by car so they could continue to discuss their unfinished business.

An unsettled and crucial matter and since going by plane would only take about forty minutes, he’s sure that it won’t be enough for them to settle things up.

Not to mention Claire was very quiet and refused to look at him at all. She was just gazing outside the window.

“So… Do you have any ideas for our first meeting storyline…?” Hunter finally talked first as he kept his eyes on the road.

I don’t know, you said you know your family. Would my opinion be relevant? Claire grumbled inside.

Those were actually the words she was tempted to say, but then again, she didn’t intend to start another fight with Hunter.

“I think I’m just gonna go with...whatever story you think fits best for you,” She said without taking her eyes from the view.

“Okay... Let’s just go with-- we’ve been in a long-distance relationship for half of the year, and one day, I came to Qoya City and we decided to get married.”

“Noted,” she replied shortly.

Looking at her listlessness, Hunter’s jaw was tightening. Normally, he wouldn’t care at all about what other people feel. Even with Valerie, he would just give her some space until Valerie asks him to help.

Well, he’s not gonna let Claire mess with his head.

He doesn’t care how much everything about Claire was very attractive to him at the moment. Her cute gloomy face, her scent, her gentleness, her body and lips,--Okay, stop. He couldn’t lose control again. Hunter slightly thought.

Hunter was trying to concentrate on the road rather than struggling with his own mind and feelings that kept annoying him, but unfortunately, at some point, he couldn’t resist doing something about their situation.

“You’re not gonna act like this all day, are you...? I mean all quiet and...uh, upset,” Hunter glanced at her.

Claire looked at Hunter for a second, she wasn’t sure how to respond. The way she sees it, those kinds of conversations could make them fought again since every time they tried to talk the tense vibes between them just adding up especially if she took the wrong step.

“I’m...--not upset,” Claire said. “But since we’re having this conversation… How...do you want me to act…?” She said, gently.

Hunter was clenching his jaws as he turned back his eyes on the road. The thought of forcing Claire to be someone other than herself crossed his mind, and he didn’t like it. Why?

“... just... be you,” He said after he sighed. “I don’t want to overcomplicate…our role…”

“However... I must remind you, that my family can’t know your last name, they’ll know right away,” he added, directing the topic.

Claire just listened carefully as she was reminding herself to be extra careful with her true identity. I cannot blow this up…She thought slightly. Claire slightly realized that she didn’t want to disappoint Hunter before judging herself. Clearly, she had lost her mind if she did any of that for Hunter and not for her father’s sake.

“O-okay,” Claire said, slightly looking down. “Um, I’m gonna change all my name accounts on my social media with y-your last name then…? Just to be safe,” she said, softly.

“That’s a great idea,” Hunter said, his eyes still on the road.

Then, Claire took her phone and changed her last name in every ID she had on social media. After she had finished changing every one of them, she glanced at Hunter before hesitantly speaking.

“J-just in case, someone asks my last name before we’re married, just tell them it’s Everly…Claire Everly,”

Hunter was wondering the reason behind why she picked that name but instead of asking, he agreed.

“That’ll do,”

“Um...What else…?” Claire slowly asked, glancing at him again just to find his perfect frame and face. His dark hair, strong jaws, great figure, musclely and-- Not...again, Claire! She looked away, biting her lips, and shook her feelings away.

“I think that’s all,” Hunter said while glancing at her. “Why? Do you feel we should plot more?”

“Uh, heh,... Maybe…? I’m just wondering, what if they ask about --our wedding day? Or...or even about our honeymoon?-- I-I mean where we went or something like that,” Claire stammered a bit.

“And-and our likes and dislikes? Do you think somebody would try to test how well we know each other…?” Claire quickly added.

Honeymoon. The word itself was enough to trigger Hunter’s mind in the gutter. His body spontaneously stretched as his grip on the steering wheel.

“Supposedly...not,--” Hunter cleared his throat. “I guess we can tell the truth that we had our civil wedding and-, um, about the honeymoon… just tell them that we still haven’t had one,” He said with a bit of a stumble, which was very rare to happen, he thought.

“I, uh... Just blame it on me, tell them I’m busy, they’ll believe it, no doubt.” Hunter quickly added.

Claire slightly nodded and looked away. She got the message loud and clear, despite the purpose of getting to know each other Hunter still shut himself.

As she gazed outside the window, she slightly sighed. On the inside, she was just hoping that she could manage to play the role he expects her to be, because if she failed she wouldn’t know what else to do.

***

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