Cold Heart

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Boundaries

“Just so you know, I didn’t know there’d be a strip show,”

Hunter stared at both his mother and Claire before throwing a light glance at Nate that says ′come on, man, you make us look guiltier’.

“But… despite all the reasons why I threw my first fist,-- Nate was just helping me, anyway-- … I know how much you hate it when I get into a fight... I’m sorry… I-- just lost control,” Hunter said in his usual way, emotionless.

Mrs. Wright was just staring at her son. There’s nothing new about Hunter being distant, closed, and cold, she knew all about that. But to see Hunter explain something and say sorry after admitting his wrongs? That’s new.

Hunter never apologized for getting into a fight in the past, not when he’s innocent or guilty. And the last time he got into a fight was before he almost finished college. Back then, raising Hunter was quite challenging.

Now, knowing her son, he must have had a very good reason to get into a fight, not to mention, she knew exactly what Bobby Creed had done to Hunter.

And Nate had told her earlier about why Hunter got mad. Because the guy kept mentioning his inappropriate fantasy with Claire, Nate just hadn’t told her who the guy was.

Mrs. Wright stepped toward her son and touched his cheek. Her eyes were starting to tear.

“Just don’t let this happen again, Hunter… My heart can’t bear to see you guys wounded like this, I’m too old for this kind of thing now,” Mrs. Wright said gently.

“We’re fine, mom,” Hunter said shortly.

“Yeah, Aunt Liz… You should see the other guys,” Nate blurted out, chuckling. “Though who knew Bobby got so many friends there--,” Nate stopped talking right away after Hunter glared at him.

Mrs. Wright let out a deep sigh before walking toward Claire and hugging her.

“Good night, sweetie. Please treat his wounds?” She said softly in her ear.

Claire softly nodded and replied. “Good night…”

“Sit down on the sofa so Claire can treat you,” said his mother before she went outside and slightly grabbed Nate’s ear between her steps.

Hunter sat down on the couch like a guilty boy even though his mother was no longer there.

Claire was hesitant to sit beside him since there’s not much space for her to keep her distance, but she quickly examined what she had to do first.

She took warm water and a small towel to clean a few smut and blood on Hunter’s face. She did everything gently, unwilling to harm him even more.

Claire slightly grimaced, thinking that Hunter’s bruises and cut must be hurt. But she didn’t make a sound at all.

Hunter couldn’t lie, Claire’s sweet, soft, and fresh scents were drawing his mind to the gutter. Not to mention, being that close just made him realize her beauty and charm even more.

Her lips, her hair, her gentleness. Even without wearing a nightgown and only with a simple pajama was enough to provoke his lust.

This is not good, he thought while looking away and clenching his jaws.

After lightly fixing his sitting, Hunter realized that he sat down on something, a book.

"Sweet Temptation,” he read the title as he brought the book to his face and flipped it once. “Chicks still digging this kind of stuff…?”

“You mean romance? I don’t know… Are men still into… guy things?” Claire said while glancing at Hunter and gently took the book from his hand before continuing treating him. She was thinking about saying the word ‘sex’ as a guy thing, but she decide not to.

Touche. Hunter took a deep breath as he tried not to focus on her lips, running his hair with his fingers. Little that he knows there’s something stingy under his right palm.

“What?” Claire asked when she saw Hunter examine his palm thoroughly.

“Something is stinging inside,”

“Let me take a look,” Claire said, taking his right palm. “It’s a shard,” she said shortly.

Claire searched for a tweezer in the kid but the shard had no point to pull, luckily she found a needle for sewing. She dipped the needle in the alcohol from the kit and tended to bring out the shard.

“Uh, what are you doing?” Hunter asked.

“I’m gonna break the first layer of your skin--gently, of course, to get to the shard with this needle,” She lightly said. “It’s the way how it’s done,”

“Do you know how to do it?”

“Yes... Are you afraid of needles? Because if you are, you should think twice before getting into a fight,” Claire said with a hint of gentleness and sarcasm.

“No... But why do I get the feeling that you’re excited to do this... You could just ask me why I fight if you’re upset about it, rather than--maybe torturing me with that needle,” Hunter said.

Claire softly chuckled between her round eyes on the shard. Yeah, right. She pulled Hunter’s palm and slowly reached the shard, giving it a gentle push until it popped up its edge.

Soon after the edge was seen, Claire took the tweezer and pulled the shard out.

“Torture? I’m barely touching you with it. Besides, would you answer if I ask...?” Claire replied as she glanced coldly at Hunter.

She’s right. Hunter thought inside. All this time he never wanted to explain anything to her. And why should he start now? Hunter clenched his jaws, thinking inside that it was for the best.

It’s best not to get any emotions involved with Harrison’s daughter. Not now, not ever.

“I think you’re good now,” Claire said while putting everything back in the box.

“Thanks,” Hunter said shortly before taking a few clothes and towel, he intended to take a bath.

But then he saw Claire taking a pillow and light blanket, it seemed like she’s setting the sofa for her bed.

“You sleep on the bed, I’m gonna take the carpet,” he said sturdily.

“No, I--,”

“This is not a discussion,” Hunter cut in with a sturdier voice and a look that went right through Claire’s gut.

Claire clenched her mouth and gulped before grabbing all the stuff from the couch and bringing them back to bed.

Claire lay down on the right side of the bed which was farther from Hunter’s spot on the carpet. She closed her eyes, trying to sleep. It’s been a long day, all the wife acts were draining her energy. She felt sleepy but then the sound of water running and the fact that Hunter was taking a bath just made her imagination run wild.

Not to mention she still got the clear image of Hunter’s perfect body, well, it was no surprise since Hunter got his own fitness studio in his place. Of course, muscles like that need to be maintained. She thought while biting her lips.

Claire took a deep sigh before deciding to check her phone and used her earphones to hear songs that would distract her from her mind. And not long after, Claire found herself to be very comfortable and fell asleep.

When Hunter came out from the bathroom, he found the room was partly dark. He quickly assumed that Claire had fallen asleep, so he quietly prepared himself to sleep too.

He walked toward the bed and stopped. He noticed that Claire was sleeping with a tangled wire of her purple earphones on her chess, and her phone near her hand.

Hunter tried not to feel anything to see how peaceful and intriguing watching Claire sleep. He gently pulled the wire until both buds fell out from her earlobes before taking the phone which he intended to put on the bedside table.

That’s when Claire’s phone started to vibrate. The screen was on and Hunter could see the messages from the pop-up notification.

He was anything but nosy, but some guy just texted his fake wife so many texts.

-----------------

Craig client: Claire, I need to see you

Craig client: Pls don’t ignore me

Craig client: Tell me where are you now

Craig client: I can go there

Craig client: You said you’ll give me a chance

Craig client: Text me, or call me

------------------

Who is this guy? A client? Texting and calling at this late hour? He thought slightly.

Hunter’s jaws were tightening until its muscles popped out. It’s strange that all of a sudden he just wanted to crush Claire’s phone with his hand, especially when the man kept calling her.

He ruffled his wet hair before gently putting down Claire’s stuff on the bedside table, sighing before taking the free pillow on the bed and tossing it to the carpet floor.

**

It was 2 a.m. on the clock when Claire awakened because she heard voices. Turned out, it came from Hunter. The rapid breathing voice and light grunts as if he was in trouble or pain.

Claire crawled and peeked from the edge of the bed. She found Hunter was sweating and flinched a few times in his sleep between his rapid breathing.

Nightmares.

Claire was pondering what to do for a second, not really sure how to help him, but then she decided to wake him up gently.

“Hunter…?” She called, still in her crawling position on the bed, relying on her knees and one hand.

When Hunter didn’t seem to respond to her voices and touch, Claire started to shake his shoulder. Just before she tried to shake harder, suddenly, Hunter just caught her hand and pulled her.

“Aah!” Claire squealed in shock since she fell from the bed right to on top of Hunter because of the pulling.

Claire could feel Hunter’s heartbeat and short breathing as her left hand was on his chess, it was as fast as her heart pacing. She didn’t know when Hunter had opened his eyes.

“Did I hurt you?” Hunter said as he was staring down at Claire. His voice was a bit husky.

Claire slowly climbed down from his body, even though Hunter’s hand was still on her wrist.

“N-no… I’m...okay,” Claire stammered as she was sitting beside Hunter. If there’s someone hurt, it should be him since she’s the one who fell onto him, not to mention it’d been a while since her last diet. Claire slightly thought.

Hunter put his head back and exhaled, closing his eyes and rubbing his face.

“D-does this --happen often…?” Claire asked carefully.

“Like a clockwork,” Hunter said coldly while standing up and walking away from Claire.

He opened up his sweaty shirt and took a fresh shirt from the closet. Claire was gulping as she looked at Hunter’s shirtless body, --his abs again before looking down at the carpet and exhaling quietly.

Should she ask if it had to do with her father?

But knowing Hunter, that would be a bad move, she shouldn’t intrude fiercely on his boundaries especially when he just had trouble sleeping. She thought.

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