The next morning when Claire was up, she found that Hunter was already gone. After looking at a paper stuck on the fridge, Claire took slowly took it. The message was Hunter’s handwriting telling that he’s on a business trip for a couple of days.
For a second, Claire was thinking that it was for the best, to not seeing each other too often.
Besides, they are not a real couple. But why did she feel lonely all of a sudden?
Well, a new place, new habits, new people to get to know, a new challenging journey to deal with?
That’s why. She consoled herself before cheering for herself to never give up because things won’t always stay the same.
Gevo City, ColtEX Enterprise.
Hunter was about to do an international conference call in his office, waiting for another participant to attend but his mind seemed somewhere else.
He had ordered Jeff to prepare Claire’s needs routinely, like groceries, or to recon and report everything about Claire that Jeff could know just enough to make her comfortable staying there, bottom line, he didn’t want to make Claire be in a worse situation.
But still, ever since he left Claire in Zaxe City which had been only two days, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
What is she doing now? Is she okay? Does she need something? Is she happy?
Those were a few thoughts that kept running in Hunter’s head in the last few days. Sometimes, he even thought to check on her.
And just like every time he did it, he quickly reminded himself to shake his mind off her. Besides, if he ever wanted to think about someone it should have been Valerie, not his fake wife.
So how did Claire keep mess up with his head?
“Sir…? Everyone’s here, should we proceed?” His assistant notified him.
“Yeah,” Hunter replied shortly, focusing his mind directly at the meeting.
One Week Later. Zaxe City.
It was past after dinner time, Claire was in the laundry room, sorting her clothes to be washed in the machine. She put her jeans with some stain on the utility sink which was beside the washing machine.
She still hasn’t got a job in Zaxe City. Apparently there, her experiences were not enough to pass her into a nice workplace or clinic. Not to mention she would be asked about the reason why she resigned from her last work in Qoya City and without any recommendation letter too.
Claire couldn’t lie, she felt like a failure at the moment and what should she do in the future for her career? Her calling?
Fortunately for her, her father’s condition was okay like usual and the caregiver was great. At least by doing everything she’s doing at the moment brought good sides to her father and the company.
Claire exhaled deeply as she started to brush her jeans. Not trusting her own thoughts, she turned the radio from her phone and slid it into the back pocket of her white short pants.
🎵How did you break my heart without even trying?🎵
🎵How are you on my mind? You’re not even talking to me🎵
🎵You were made of matches and you burned me to the ground🎵
🎵You were made of matches and you burned me down🎵
Even though Claire wasn’t familiar with the song which the radio host said to be ‘Matches by Cash Cash’, she found the refrain was relatable.
There she was, keeping the song to divert her thoughts yet the song just made her think about Hunter more.
She stopped brushing her jeans and switched the faucet knob to the sprayer, staring at her big diamond ring with her hollow eyes. A ring that she was sure every woman would want.
What is it about him that made her drawn to him? His looks? His perfect body? His complex, stone-cold behavior? All of that was not exactly a good reason to fall in love with someone, right?
Wait, what? Love?
The guy hates me, for crying out loud!
She slightly thought. She was still in her deep thoughts of him and rebuked herself as she sighed.
Claire was so shocked when she heard someone calling her name because usually, she was all alone there. She turned her back as she flinched with the hose spray still on her hand, pointing at the man who called her, Hunter.
For a second there, Claire was confused between turning the water or the song first. Either way, she was panicking, and instead of turning off the spray, she maximized it. Which made the hose fly around, dancing and splashing all around.
Between Claire’s yelping and searching for knobs, Hunter helped to cut off the water.
“I’m--Im sorry, heh...” Claire said nervously, restraining her laugh as she was looking at Hunter’s wet clothes and face.
“I’m still trying to get a hang at the...knobs & hose,” and the husband.
Claire was slightly looking around to find a clean towel to offer but she was quickly more concerned at her thin tank top. Even though she wore a bra, she still crossed her arms in hope to cover it.
“I, Uhm, didn’t know that you’re back,” Claire said nervously.
Hunter rubbed his face with his palm between clenching his jaws. Not because he was upset, he tried to hide his obvious lust which he felt strongly. Maybe he even needed that, the water, to ease his dirty thought. Hunter said inside.
When he looked at her back from the moment he found her in the laundry room, with her skimpy outfits which made her look more feminine and sexy. And as if it’s not sexy enough, she had to sway her leg lightly, showing how she enjoyed her work.
Somebody’s feeling at home already, Hunter thought at first. He noticed too that the whole place looks cleaner than it used to be which meant Claire took care of the place.
And when he got a closer look at her with her wet white tank top, which exposed her baby pink lace bra. Not to mention the way Claire crossed her arms to cover her thin fabric just made her breasts look more intriguing.
If only the water helps, he slightly thought.
“We’ve got a problem.” Hunter shortly said without looking at Claire and unbuttoning his wet shirt at the same time.
Claire was spontaneously taking a step back, gulping nervously as she looked at Hunter’s upper body. She didn’t want to make it awkward but she’d never been in that kind of situation. Usually, when she got to see a shirtless hunk it was from a movie or a picture, but never in front of her eyes.
Why am I so lame? She slightly thought before trying to be all cool about it.
Am I cool? How can I be cool? He’s very cool and so sexy.
Is that a tattoo? I’ve never seen that.
How can he be so perfect? Stop! Claire!
“Wh-what problem…?” She said between her loud mind, sounded unsure and cautious. She was afraid that she might do something wrong.
Hunter was reaching for a few towels in a cabinet nearby and gave one of them to Claire.
“We need to see my...parents-- and...the whole family,” Hunter said.
“Oh...?” Claire took the towel he gave, simply thanking him before immediately wiped her face and just let the towel hang from her shoulder to the whole chest area. She was confused for a second since Hunter said he didn’t have parents.
“Foster...parents,” Hunter coldly cut in as he dried his arms and chess.
“Apparently, Jeff slipped out the words to my mother about you, and our marriage... So they’ve found out sooner than I expected,”
“Wait… Heh, you’re saying, you didn’t even tell your parents or the rest of your family that you’re married?” Claire said.
“I like to keep some things to be private,” He said emotionlessly. “I don’t have to tell them everything about my life,”
Claire scoffed sarcastically but not enough to make Hunter annoyed.
“Of course… I would understand if they were your friends. But they’re not. They’re your family.” She slightly squinted her round eyes.
“It’s the same thing,” Hunter replied emotionlessly, which made Claire roll her eyes.
“So... Why is this my problem…? And remind me again why we didn’t tell your parents...hubby?” Claire asked with attitude.
An attitude that Hunter found dangerous for her if she kept playing that way.
Especially when she was half wet, indecent clothes, and she was in my territory with no way to run. Hunter simply thought before tightening his jaw and shaking his mind off for a countless time.
“Even though I rarely tell them anything, they know my history with Harrison-- or how much I’ve been dedicating my life to get my vow done...and they’ve never approved it.”
“Oh, you mean your grudges?” Claire said, crossing her hands and lifting her chin up again. “And what do you think they’re gonna do when they find out that I’m…I’m the wife--”
She’s starting to lose her cool as she was starting to stumble. “I mean if they find out that I’m... --THE Harrison’s daughter?”
“Don’t patronize me,” Hunter took a step closer, looking straight down into her eyes.
Claire instantly took a step back, she didn’t need to find how far Hunter could intimidate her since his presence alone was just enough to make her feel intimidated every time.
“It’s no question that they will tell me to back down, divorce you, and forget everything about my vow!” He said before clenching his jaw, making Claire notice a muscle was out on his strong jaw.
“I can live with that. -- But can you? Tell me... Can you let your father slowly die just because you cannot afford his treatment anymore? Not saying that I give a fuck about his life or our marriage.” Hunter didn’t raise his voice at all but his words were just piercing through her heart.
Hunter was waiting for Claire to talk back furiously at him, but she was just staring at him between her round glassy eyes and quivered breath.
On the inside, Hunter was cursing himself for talking to her that way. What came into him? He thought.
But the words were already out there’s nothing he could do than regret. He clenched his jaws until a muscle popped out again as he noticed her eyes got tears. If she cried,--dammit! He thought.
Claire was looking at her feet for a while, biting her lips, processing every choice that she had and how she could act, and after she got slight strength she lifted her head back up.
“... I will...-- go get change, first… Then you can tell me whatever you want me to do…” Claire softly said between her sigh and faint trembled lips. Then she left the room.
Hunter swore inside before running his hair with his hand desperately.
After calming herself down and cleaning herself with a short sleeves baby pink pajamas, she was ready to talk about ‘the problem’ with Hunter.
Maybe Hunter was just tired from the journey back or from his work that day and she just pushed the wrong button. Or he just plain hated her as she already knew.
Maybe it’s better if I just do whatever he wants and not provoke anything from him.
What choice that she had, anyway? She thought, as her eyes were getting glassy again.
Claire couldn’t decide which was breaking her heart more, worrying about her father’s well-being in the future or being hated by Hunter. Whatever it was, she needs to toughen up and not take anything personally from Hunter.
But that, if, she didn’t feel anything toward Hunter.
The question is, why she kept emotionally involved with him?
And why did it feel hurt so much when Hunter mean to her?
Claire took a deep sigh before pulling her door and walking outside.