Cold Heart

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Leaving Hometown

“I don’t understand… I thought we’re gonna stay here, all I have...is here--” Claire said slowly.

“--M-my father, my job, my friends, I can’t just leave everything--o-or my life here,” Claire stammered, trying to reason with Hunter.

They were sitting at the back seat of Hunter’s Bentley that was parked in front of Claire’s house. After they had completed their civil wedding ceremony, Hunter asked Claire to gather her things and go with him to their new place which was in a different city.

“It’s in the agreement that you’ll live with me. Don’t tell me you signed it without being really aware of what’s written in it.”

“No… I-I was completely aware and remembered, but the agreement didn’t mention your place is somewhere else, so I just assumed that we’re gonna live here, in Qoya city,” Claire explained, her voice slightly shaking.

“Well, it’s not.” Hunter coldly responded. “Why would I want to stay here, in this city?”

Right. He hates everything here because of my father. Claire slightly thought, looking down as her eyes were getting glassy.

Claire shuddered, taking a deep breath. “I-- uh, I need more time... Can I have a little bit more time…?” She said without making eye contact, she didn’t dare to put her hopes high.

Hunter was silent for a second, glancing outside his side of the window as he clenched his jaw. He of all people knew it was never easy to leave everything you know in one day, but it was not his fault if she assumed the wrong thing and didn’t even bother to confirm or ask, he simply thought.

“I’ll pick you up at eight,” He suddenly said.

Claire didn’t say any more words since she knew there’s nothing else she could do or bargain, as she can tell, Hunter was not the person who compromised. She stepped down from the car with a blank mind as she walked toward her house.

Claire used the times she had to arrange everything that she could. Things like finding a full-time caregiver for her father, informing her bosses and colleagues in The Inside Co, and packing.

She intended to tell her friends later when she got enough strength to explain everything. Besides, she was still not sure how to explain or what lies she had to make up.

Not saying, telling her bosses would be easier than telling her friends, she thought. Of course, when she told her chairman that she will be resigning without any notification before, her name would be smudge but she didn’t have any other choice.

Claire took a deep sigh before dialing one of the chairman’s numbers, Mr. Willis Insa, the owner of The Inside. Co.

Fortunately for her, after she told him that she had to resign in such a very sudden notice because of a private family matter, Mr. Willis didn’t force her to explain in detail her reasons. Claire was apologizing so many times since she felt very unprofessional.

She dropped her back on the bed, feeling relief after hanging up the call.

Work, check. One down, two more to go.

**

It was almost 8 in the evening and Claire got everything settled up. She just needed to wait for the caregiver to come. Hopefully before hubby gets here, she said inside.

Claire was wearing a simple nude-color dress and cardigan set with her matching flat shoe. She looked at the clock inside her father’s bedroom before standing beside her father’s bed.

She was about to say something to her father between her glassy eyes when somebody knocked at the door. She quickly dried her eyes and headed toward the door.

It must be the caregiver, she thought.

“Miles?!” Claire said in shock while Miles barged inside.

The last time they spoke, Miles didn’t want to hear anything more of her explanation after she said she wanted to call the wedding off and break up.

“I’m ready to talk now… I can’t--” Miles’s eyes stopped at the suitcases near Claire’s couch. “Where are you going?” He said.

Claire was about to talk when Miles’s eyes went to her fingers. As if she could read his mind, Claire was hiding her hands behind her back.

“Miles…--”

“So that's the reason why you called our wedding off?!” Miles came closer, looking furious.

“I--... Miles, I... It-It’s complicated--”

“How?!” Miles raised his voice, asking for an explanation.

Claire’s eyes were looking around in confusion as it almost dropped a tear.

“I wish I could--” Her voice was shaken.

“Just tell me!!” Miles started to shake her body. “When did this happen, huh?!"

Claire was unable to do or say anything. How could she explain?

"You’ve been cheating behind my back with another man and now you’re married to him?!" Miles was very mad. "All this time you despise your mother for what she’s done...but you just exactly like her!--A cheater!!”

Miles was so angry until he didn’t realize how strong his grips were on Claire.

“Miles, y-you’re hurting me,” Claire whimpered.

She’s never seen that side of Miles for as long as they were together. How did she miss that? Miles was always gentle most of the time. How come one year not long enough to know someone? Her mind wandered in fear.

“Who’s the guy, huh?! Do I know him?!”

Another tear was dropping on Claire’s cheek. Not only was she torn by Miles’s words, but she also couldn’t tell Miles the truth because if Claire broke any of the arrangements she would jeopardize the deal with Hunter and everything could go back to point zero.

“I...I need you to leave…” Claire said between her trembled voice.

Miles was staring at her with his furious eyes, not happy with the unanswered question. But instead of asking again, Miles grabbed Claire’s jaw a bit too harshly.

“You’re a hypocrite bitch! You know that?!” he seethed before forcing his lips onto hers.

Why did he do that, she didn’t know, it’s like she barely knew him at all. Claire was struggling, trying to push Miles away, and terrified in the whole process.

Not to mention the way he forced himself was hurting her but she couldn’t outgrown Miles’s strength.

She was still straining as she was thinking to hit Miles’s groin with her knee when suddenly, somebody just pulled Miles’ body away from her. Between her panting and shivering, Claire could see the man who saved her.

It was Hunter.

“Leave!” It was the only word from Hunter. A sturdy with a threatening look that was enough to make Miles froze for a while.

“Do you know who I am??” Miles stood up.

“I know enough about you,” Hunter said, belittling him. “And I know you’ll regret it if you don’t leave--right now after what you’ve done to her. So, leave. Now. Before I changed my mind.” He said between his clenched jaws.

Claire didn’t know when, or how long Hunter was there because based on Hunter’s words, it seems like he had witnessed and heard their conversation.

Miles scoffed. “Heh, so you're the guy. Your wife and I are supposed to get married in a few months! And now suddenly she just became your wife?!” He shouted.

“Didn’t it bug you at all that she played both of us?! She’s been with me for this past year! She might have looked like an angel but if she managed to fool us, she’s the worst bitch I’ve ever known! She’s a counselor for God’s sake!!” Miles burst out.

Hunter’s hands were in fists all along, strangely hearing Miles named-calling Claire was not easy for him to hear. He was trying to control his willpower to hit Miles’s mouth, as a matter of fact, he was trying not to touch Miles at all.

But without really being aware of when, both of his hands were already grabbed Miles by the shirt collar.

Looking at how things could be worse, Claire quickly walked toward Hunter and Miles, trying to step in hoping they won’t beat each other up. Honestly, she didn’t know what to do if they’re starting to fight since she’s the smallest person in the room.

“Stop!” She spontaneously touched her hand on Hunter’s arm and another hand slightly pressed Miles’s shoulder.

“I admit it, okay?” Claire said to Miles.

“I’m...I’m everything you’ve said…! I guess I messed up real bad… but my--...husband knew everything about you and-, and we’re doing fine…” Her voice was slightly breaking. “So please, Miles… just drop this and go...”

Miles was thinking before about letting his wrath loose, giving Hunter a fight since his pride was humiliated. But he couldn’t lie that he sensed Hunter’s fierce vibes that made him think twice to challenge him since he did not really have a fighting skill.

Besides, Miles didn’t think that Claire was worth the fight after what she’s done to him, he thought. So he stepped back, tidying his crumpled shirt as a back-off sign. He scoffed before speaking.

“What do you know-- all that good girl acts and profession was all bullshit,” Miles said mockingly, staring at Claire. “I guess I’m lucky enough to walk out before marrying you!-- Oh, and congratulations, you just like your mother...!” He emphasized before walking out of Claire’s house.

Claire was just standing there, gazing at Miles’s back with her wet eyes before looking down to the floor and took a quiet deep breath. Never was she feeling so heartbroken like that moment.

“... Are you, ready to go?” Hunter broke the silence, and if Claire didn’t know better she would think the way Hunter spoke was gentle, caring.

Claire slightly glanced from her shoulder, shaking her head. “I’m still waiting for the caregiver,” She weakly responded. “Excuse me,” Claire added as she walked to another room and left him alone.

Hunter thought Claire would be angry and blame everything on him after what happened. But no, she still looked strong despite her obvious sadness.

How can she put up on everything for the father who’s not worthy of her love at all? Though she actually didn’t have any choice, which made him the bad guy, good job. He thought.

Hunter quickly shook his guilty mind away, guilty with a slight of jealousy to recall the way Claire’s ex-fiance kissed her. None of those feelings were good for him to feel. Lucky for him, someone was knocking at the door. Turns out it was the caregiver that Claire’s been waiting for.

For a second there, Hunter was confused about whether to call Claire or just letting the caregiver see her inside herself, but then he decided to lead the way even though he does not really know which room Claire was in.

Hunter followed his hunch based on the way Claire was headed before, and it’s not really that hard considering Claire’s house wasn’t that big. He found a door that was half-opened and found Claire laying her head on her hands that crossed on the side of the bed near her dad.

And there he was, Harrison Neverner. The man he loathed as long as he should live. Hunter’s eyes were softened a bit when he saw Claire who’s apparently still unaware of their presence.

Hunter cleared his throat to make her notice them. Her round and wet eyes were staring at him at once, she was awkwardly stunned as Hunter was there and saw her father.

“The caregiver is here,” Hunter said.

As usual, Claire couldn’t read Hunter’s emotion. She simply nodded. “Thanks,” she softly said.

“I’ll wait in the car,” he briefly said before stepping away from the door, leaving her.

***

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