Cold Heart

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Not Falling

The whole family spent the moment watching the sunset, and it turned out Hunter’s parents had arranged a dinner plan together in one of the restaurants there.

A very romantic-fine dining restaurant called The Bay. Even so, it was like a private place for them since there’s no one else other than them there which made Claire wonder if they had booked the whole place for them only.

They took a large table that fit all the family members which was placed near the pier with the night sky, stars, crashing waves sounds, and music from the band for dancing.

It was a great dining experience for Claire, looking at Hunter’s family-- except for his cousin Serena of course, observing them just made her heart melt. She was watching Hunter’s parents dancing between their laughter and conversation.

How come Hunter can be so different from them? He grew up with them.

Hunter’s family is warm, nice, and lovely, almost every single time...

But Hunter? He’s so cold, emotionless, and difficult all the time.

Especially with me.

Claire looked down on her lap as she felt a bit sad to realize that fact. She was gently sighing before taking a glance at the rest of Hunter’s family on the dance floor. Hunter, Nate, Serena, and herself were still finishing their meal.

“So, Claire-- isn’t it?” Serena said from her seat across Claire, waving her hair. “I was just wondering… you know, seeing you here now… What is it that you --have that made Hunter choose you?

“Can we just eat in peace, Serena?” Hunter chimed in with his annoyed voice, stabbing his piece of steaks.

“Heh, what? I just want to know… Because, she’s not looking like your...usual type,-- I mean I’ve known you for years,” Serena said, she was awkwardly overacting for a second.

Nate who was sitting beside Serena, exchanging looks with Hunter, and Nate rolled his eyes.

“Hm, I think someone’s interest could change... heh, and it’s normal for every man to have a type…” Claire said calmly, giving Serena her sweetest smile.

“Yeah, but Hunter’s type? I’d say --no offense...but pretty much very far from...you, heh” Said Serena with a bit of an underestimating look.

“I don’t think it’s your right to speak for me, Serena,” Hunter said coldly between Nate’s scoff.

“Could you for once, be nice Serena?” Nate said. He was leaning closer to Serena and whispered. “Just move on, okay? They’re married, it’s game over for you!” Nate leaned back in his chair. “Besides... I can tell that she’s Hunter’s type... and did you forgot that I flirted with her this morning?--″

Nervously guilty, Nate quickly glanced at Hunter, soothing him down with his grimaced face.

“I mean not on purpose, heh, my bad… The point is, according to everybody here, she’s pretty…!”

Hunter slightly clenched his jaws and drank his wine, he was trying not to be affected by any of the conversations on the outside. But on the inside, he was torn by his own emotions.

Some part of him wanted to defend Claire from Serena and the other part was his pride that wasn’t ready to show Claire that he cared. Not to mention he was really annoyed by the fact that Nate really did flirt with his wife.

Sensing that the conversation got heated fast, Claire let out a soft chuckle. “Heh, hey...it’s...fine, thanks, Nate, that’s very kind…” Claire said humbly.

“But to be honest I didn’t even realize that you were, Uhm, flirting with me at all… I thought you’re just being kind, I take it as a common-kind gesture, heh,... Besides...lucky for you, Hunter here is not a jealous type,” Claire said, smiling with her professional smile that she used all the time when she was at work.

Hunter stared at Claire for a while with his emotionless look as usual. Deep down he knew that Claire was defending his cousin and she couldn’t be more right when she said he doesn’t easily get jealous.

So why did he start to change? How come he got easily jealous and overprotective recently? Hunter thought.

When Serena was watching how Hunter was looking at Claire, out of nowhere, she got crazy jealous inside and really couldn’t hold her back.

“Maybe you should be the one who answers the question, Hunter, why did you pick her…? I mean, clearly, she’s not as pretty as Valeri--”

“That’s enough, Serena!” Hunter cut in angrily and at the same time, Nate was talking too.

“What is your problem??” Nate burst out.

Surprised by the situation, Claire spontaneously held her breath between her parted lips. She really didn’t know what’s going on with Serena, but she could see that Serena was scared to see how Hunter got so mad.

Is it because she mentioned --Valerie? Whoever that is… Claire said inside

“Um, I --uh… excuse me for a second,” Claire gently got up from her chair, putting her napkin on the table.

Claire thought if she leaves the table she’d be doing everybody a favor. Or maybe she’s doing herself a favor so she won’t hear another word that belittled her.

“Excuse me too,” Hunter said to Serena while throwing his napkin and caught Claire’s arm. “I think it’s time for us to dance, babe.”

He made sure everyone there hear him and he didn’t wait for Claire to respond, he gently grabbed Claire’s arm and took her heading toward the pier. There’s no way that he’s gonna let Serena win by making his wife left the table. Claire followed his steps between the light chill through her spines she felt from the word ‘babe’ and nervousness.

“A-are you sure dancing is the best idea right now?” Claire said, trying to keep up with his steps.

“Better than responding to Serena,” He said lightly.

The moment they reached the dance floor, Hunter let out his right hand for Claire to accept, making Claire noticed his tattoos near the wrist. Not only that, she noticed how Hunter’s shirt framed his muscles perfectly. Big hands, big chest, and all that.

When Claire gave her hand, Hunter brought his other hand to Claire’s waist and started to lead the slow dance. For a second there Claire was gasping secretly as she felt Hunter’s presence, his strong hand on her waist, and the touch of his skin in her hand.

Could the night be any more romantic and tempting? Tempting me to see how great and perfect he is? Claire thought.

Her mind was wandering as her round eyes gazed at the night skies, stars, moon, and the perfect face of her husband.

God, I do love to be kissed by him. Claire spontaneously said inside as her eyes were on the same level as his sexy lips, thanks to her heels. Then she sighed.

I’m starting to get delusional. What…are...you doing, Claire? Stop being a girl that easily swept off from her feet!

You cannot,-- you are NOT falling in love with him!

Claire looked away immediately. She was feeling lucky that Hunter never met her eyes from the beginning when they hit the dance floor, otherwise, maybe Hunter would see her puppy eyes.

Hunter, on the other hand, hadn’t looked straight into her eyes for once, but it’s not because he didn’t know that she was looking at him.

The fact that her eyes always rattled his clarity, made him realize that he had to steer clear of how she made him feel.

Every...single...time. He said inside, clenching his jaw. He refused to put down his guard even a bit.

I will NOT start to care about her! Or fall for her!

She’s the daughter of Harrison, damn it! --Hunter said inside as he slightly kept looking anywhere except her eyes.

But after a while dancing in awkward silence, not to mention every time he looked at his parents or the rest of his family who’s already there before them, were teasing him with big grins and playful eyebrows, Hunter decided to begin a conversation.

“So… Did my mother ask you something? Maybe about our wedding day, or how we met? Anything?” Hunter said after clearing his throat.

Finally, he looked at Claire, and since Claire was still not used to looking into his piercing eyes she’s slightly startled to see his eyes as she batted her eyes.

“...No…” Claire shook her head and looked away. “She just congratulated me, that’s all…”

“No?”

“Yes… I-I mean, we just talked about dresses and my size of clothes when I rented the swimsuit…” Claire explained.

Hunter looked at her eyes at once with his confused look all over his face.

“Why would you rent it instead of buying it?”

Claire slightly chuckled nervously between her parted lips. It was her turn to stare with confused eyes, but it seemed like Hunter was not joking around. He was waiting for the answer.

“Uhm, before you accuse me again-- heh, --No, I didn’t do it to impress your mom,” Claire quickly said.

Even though she sounded defensive, she made sure her voice was just enough for Hunter only and not everybody else to hear.

“It-it’s too pricey for a swimsuit th-that I might only wear once… I just...not used to spend that much money--...On-on things that were not a priority,--”

Especially when using the money that’s not mine.

“--It-it doesn’t feel right...” she slightly stammered.

Hunter was just staring at her and as usual, Claire couldn’t read him at all. Which was strange since she was supposed to be good at reading people’s reactions, she thought.

“T-though, I did show and used the card you gave me in front of your mom…heh, anyway... Um, we were talking about how I wasn’t being questioned,--” Claire said, trying to change the subject. “--I mean, um, that’s a good thing right..?” She added nervously before gulping.

Hunter’s piercing eyes turned her knees to jelly, in addition to that he just stared without saying anything.

“Yes…” Hunter said, slightly sighing and looked away which made Claire relieved for a second before his eyes back to her. “but…strange,”

Very strange. Hunter thought between their locked eyes. For a second there, they were just swaying in silence, staring at each other.

Hunter found everything about Claire was drawing him to lose his sanity, he felt the need to break their gaze before he got carried away for sure.

He glanced at his parents hoping to divert his mind, but instead, he found them and everyone standing there were holding their glass and they started to make the clinking sounds with their glasses and spoons as a sign for Hunter and Claire to kiss.

Fuck. Hunter swore inside.

Then he looked at Claire who just noticed the clinking sounds with her innocent face.

Her innocent, beautiful face, under the moonlight.

It’s like the soft lighting there just made every frame of her more beautiful, Hunter couldn’t help but slightly notice inside.

Hunter was tightening his jaws before staring into Claire’s round eyes, hoping that she’s ready for what comes next.

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