Moving On

Ariel Miller lost both the love of her life and their child in a horrific crash in 2010. 3 years have passed since then, and she moves from her one room apartment in Sydney - the city that holds too many memories - to a condo on Dublin Street, Edinburgh. Now at 24 years old, she finds herself falling deeper and deeper into the pain of remembering those she lost that day... She also finds herself having a dangerous attraction to the handsome man that lives across the hall.

At 28 years old Hugh Evans (AKA Hunter) finds himself tired of dating women who only want his money. He soon finds himself enchanted by the polite graces of the new woman across the hall. He is astounded by her beauty and modesty, but also her ability to ignore his advances towards her. Always up for the challenge he decides to break down the barriers she has set up and really try to get to know her.

A story of healing, forgiving and learning how to love again...

Warning: Mature Audiences (Ages 16+)

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4. Hunter

The shrill cry of an alarm caused me to stir from my sleep. Groaning I turned beneath the sheets, the familiar smell of laundry powder, and eucalyptus teasing my senses as I reached out beside me.

"Heath..." I murmured, into my pillow - nearly suffocating as I did so - before I turned my face towards my left. A pounding ache in my head came about as my hands reached for where my mind had imprinted him... by my side. Tears welled up in my eyes, my hands meeting the cool, bare sheets of the bed, my fingers clasping the linen as I drew the covers close to my chest, curling into a small ball as I cried myself awake.

 

After a sound night of sad dreams, I wasn't prepared to face the dawn of my first official day in Edinburgh. Opening my eyes slowly, the throbbing in my head became only more vivid as I sat up slowly. Wiping my swollen eyes, the alarm hadn't even stopped ringing as I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, my hand slapping the top of the digital block that had pulled me from my slumber, and awoken me to a nightmare. Getting up, I walked to the kitchen turning on the tile-heating as I opened the fridge, only to frown at the sight of no food. I'd prepared my furniture to be in place before I came, but had done nothing about the issue of food. My stomach grumbled uncomfortably, and turning to grab the my new house keys, and wallet from the table beside the door a yelp escaped my lips as a thundering knock startled me.

 

Frozen for a moment, my eyes then snapped to the eye-hole in the door of which I put my eye to, to see nothing but the bare ground of the hallway. Biting my lower lip, I unlocked the door pulled it open before sticking my head out, looking to the left, and then looking to the...

"Sh...!" I cursed, leaping back my hand flying to cover the skin above my heart. A man in an incredibly nice suit spun around instantly, and - almost like in the movies - our eyes clashed instantly. My eyes instantly began to sink in the dark pools of his brown, nearly black, eyes - those of which were staring directly into my own. Blinking, I stood up straighter, breaking the momentary connection.

"Can I help you?" I asked, my eyes lifting back up to meet his, instead of trailing down his body to take in the wide shoulders, muscular torso, and trim looking waist.

"Hi, I'm Hunter... From across the hall." he said, his eyes doing a slow, shameless stare up, down, and back up again without a hint of shame. Holding out his hand, I thanked God I was wearing a floor-length, flannel nighty with long fitted sleeves.

"Ariel." I said, reaching out, and taking hold of his hand, I realized how small my own was compared to his large hand that enveloped mine as he clasped it, giving my hand a firm shake before letting my hand linger in his for a moment before letting go.

"Mrs Whitcock gave me the spare key to the glass door for you." he said, reaching into his pants pocket, and handing me the key which was surprisingly warm. Looking down at it for a moment, my brow furrowed slightly at the name,

"You mean Edna... Right?" I asked slowly, my hand wrapping around the key as my eyes lifted back to his face.

"Oh, yes," he said, blinking in surprise. Smiling briefly, it instantly disappeared when replace by a grimace at the sound of a grumble emerging from my stomach.

"No food, huh?" he crooked a sly smile, pretty amused. My eyes watching the tilt of his lips, I fought the urge to reach out, and touch them. They didn't even look like Heath's what was I getting all edgy about? I glanced inside the open door, scolding myself for feeling the need to react that way towards this perfect stranger.

"Something like that." I admitted, my voice a gentle murmur before I turned to catch him still staring at me with a small smile on his lips, his expression unreadable.

"Hey, if you want I have some muffins, fruit and other things, I wasn't sure I was going to even eat them, but I guess with you next door I won't have to worry." he grinned. A laugh escaped my lips, and the beaming smile that spread across my face undoubtedly radiated thankfulness.

"That'd be wonderful, if you don't mind."

 

A few moments after he'd quickly disappeared back into his place, I walked back into my own place, leaving the door open for him to come in. Entering the lounge room I stared at the two sets of french-doors that led to the balcony, and then to a small courtyard leading to the backyard that I hadn't checked out. The space between them was a wide column of bare wall and I felt a tug on my conscious, telling me something was missing.

"Maybe a flat-screen?" Hunters voice shocked me. Turning around I watched the movement of his arms, his muscles hidden but shaped beneath the crisp fabric of his suit jacket as he placed what looked to be a food hamper on the island-bench. Glancing down I noticed the huge cardboard box between his legs, and the side of the bench. I smiled, slightly bewildered.

"I thought something was missing." I said, walking back up to the kitchen, watching his face as he looked around clearly impressed.

"Was it like this when you bought it?" he asked. I looked around, barely fazed at the look of it; reminiscent of my own stunned reaction I'd had the night before when I'd first seen what I'd just moved in to.

"I'm actually not sure, there were images on the internet but my friend came and checked it out for me, before helping me hire the necessary people to move all my stuff here in preparation for my arrival." I confessed. Turning back to him, I watched as he stared at me, curiosity and something else - that I couldn't put my finger on - causing his eyes to light up with a sparkle of mischief.

"Are you single, Ariel?" he asked. I gave a small faint smile, hating that question. Single. I'd never even figured out if that word applied to me.

"Kind of." I said cryptically. Heath had died, but the memories of him I carried were forever embedded in both my mind, and heart. It was hard being in love with a man who was 3 years dead.

"Is that a puzzle, I want to sort out?" he asked, slyly. Meeting his gaze firmly, I pushed down the notion that he was hitting on me. Now that, would be ridiculous.

"I wouldn't think so." I said.

 

Turning my attention to the basket, I tore through the cellophane and taking an apple in my grasp brought it to my open lips, pausing as they brushed the skin of the apple. Looking at Hunter, I met his stare with my own gaze.

"Why did you have a hamper full of food?" I asked all to curiously, bringing the apple away from my lips as I rubbed the skin against the fabric of my dress. Walking to the sink, I turned the tap and began to run it under cold water when he answered,

"It was a 'condolences' gift from my sister-in... Well, ex-sister-in-law." he admitted not moving his gaze from mine. Turning off the tap, I swiveled around to lean my back against the edge of the sink taking a bite of the apple. I didn't ask any further questions, but they mingled in the midst of the conversation which was probably why he felt the need to give me some kind of explanation.

"I'm recently divorced," he said, before taking a muffin from the hamper, and taking a big bite. Watching him chew then swallow, I gave a small polite smile.

"I'm sorry. That must have been hard." I said, totally sounding scripted but not exactly caring. I felt sorry for him. I didn't know what was worse. Losing someone you love because of uncontrollable circumstances, or because they decide they didn't love you anymore.

 

Lowering his head for a moment, I sensed there was more even as he took another bite of the muffin. Feeling the awkward atmosphere, I stepped away from the counter, and pulled open a drawer. The tense feeling in my shoulders slowly began to ease as the noise of my hands shuffling through the things broke the pregnant silence. Turning to glance at the clock on the kitchen wall, I stopped suddenly.

"Oh, no...!" I breathed, dropping the apple and running back to the bedroom only to return with my laptop in hand as I booted it up, setting it on the island-bench.

"Anything wrong?" Hunters voice broke my concentration for a moment, as I pulled up a stool, and took a seat quickly running a hand through my tousled hair.

"Uh... It's a tele-conference, for work. I totally forgot about it, it's about to start in 5 minutes and they might think it's unusual for me not to be online at least 10 minutes earlier." I informed him. A small inquisitive smile sneaked across his lips as his eyes began to gleam with curiosity.

"Your work?" he asked, most likely fascinated by the fact a working woman could get away with doing a tele-conference in her sleepwear.

"Yeah I have a site..." I said, not really paying attention as I began typing rapidly into the keyboard.

"So you don't just stand there and look beautiful... That's incredible." Hunters deep voice, was suddenly so close, when I looked up self-consciously I blushed immediately at the fact his fact was inches from mine as he leaned towards me from the other side of the table.

"Yes, well... Looking good doesn't do much to get food on the table" I murmured, looking down and keeping my eyes trained on the laptop screen.

 

"Dinner. Tomorrow night." he said, his voice clear as day. I looked up in surprise.

"Sorry?"

"Don't apologize, just say 'yes'. It'll be nice for you to go out and experience the town, and I, Ariel, am a very good tour guide." Hunter assured me, his eyes meeting mine in amusement before they darkened slightly.

"Dinner with the new neighbour... That isn't so bad, right?" I asked myself. After one deep breath, and a small furrowing of my brow, I was thinking a little further...

"Is it really a good idea...? I'm just so busy with work... His probably got a girlfriend now his divorce - how could he not? His handsome, charming, has a pretty expensive condo..." I assured myself,

"I don't know... It's just I'm not sure how I'm going to react to all the jet lag, and I have a feeling when it does I'll be down like a ton of bricks. Maybe another time?" I offered, looking up into his eyes. Stepping away from the bench, a small, tight smile pulled at his lips. A small sense of guilt twinged my senses, but only for a moment before I remembered the reasons why I wasn't going to go out to dinner with him.

"Of course, and if you find yourself needing anything..." he said.

"He really was just being kind..." I thought, as the guilt seemed to increase. Pushing it out of my mind, I forced a small smile, and looking up once more nodded.

"Thanks for the offer, and if I can help you in anyway you can let me know also." I replied, my eyes meeting his stare.

"I really mean it, if you need 'anything'..." he said, his voice dropping a bit lower. I could hear Dee's voice screaming in the forefront of my mine, but chose to push that crazy bestie of mine aside. Biting my lower lip, I nodded again feeling like some crazy puppet with strings I couldn't control. What was happening to me!?

"Okay, then... I'm off, but I'll see you later." he said, giving me a wink as sudden chatter emerged from the laptop.

 

My eyes immediately snapped down to the screen where Riley (my friend who I hired to help sort out the advertising with), and Colin's (the guy who helped build the site) faces had popped up on the screen their arguing classic for the couple.

"So, Princess, hows Edinburgh?" Riley teased. Glancing up I barely caught sight of Hunter as he cocked me a smile and a small wave before leaving closing the door shut behind him.

"It's... Interesting..." I said, turning my attention to the laptop screen still in a daze.

"Got any hot guys, yet?" Riley piped up,

"Riley!" Colin growled a warning, I watched as she raised her eyebrows raising her hands innocently. My silence seemed to be the worst answer they could've gotten...

"Ariel!" Colin exclaimed, his mouth agape in shock. Riley laughed,

"Oh, details, details girly... Fill me in before you fill in Diana on this one honey..." Riley smirked satisfied,

"This is meant to be a business conference." Collin growled, Riley cast me a small mischievous wink.

"Careful Collin, don't push my buttons...!" she warned in a sing-song voice,

"Does he have a brother?" she asked.

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