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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3. Missing Him

Arriving in Edinburgh my heart had finally begun to slow down, though only after the 25 hour and 18 minute flight (not including airport time). My excitement and nervousness had finally given way to a sickening sense of dread and another emotion I couldn't - at the time - put my finger on. Walking through the departure gate, I hoped to God I wasn't making a mistake. Sure, I had my reasons to suddenly leave the only life I knew, and start all over somewhere else, but there wasn't any guarantee that something wouldn't go wrong along the way.

 

My eyes drifted around the traffic-filled, one-way, narrow lane that served as the pick up and drop off road outside the terminal, before glanced down at the address of the condo that I'd scrawled quite neatly onto a napkin. I'd barely looked up before I felt a tap on my shoulder. Spinning around, I met the bright blue eyes of a handsome stranger with dark skin, and a shaved head who's bright, friendly smile only caused me to blink in confusion before an uneasy feeling came upon me.

"Can I help you?" he asked, speaking so quickly he almost-literally tore the words from my mouth. Frozen for a moment I remembered the napkin.

"Oh, yes. I need to get to Dublin street." I said quickly, my voice rising over the deafening blare of evening airport traffic. He nodded motioning further down the pathway where the curb had began to serve as a taxi stop, the amount of people lining up moving quickly as taxis came, and went.

"This way." he said, quickly taking hold of my elbow, and with a flourish of his white gloved hand began steering me directly through the crowds, towards the line. My free hand instinctively grasped the handle of my suitcase as I was hauled quite mercilessly through the crowd of tourists, and business men and woman - both groups of which I did not belong. I felt more than a few angry shoves as I briskly followed the lead of this stranger. Yet before I knew it, my elbow was being released from his grip, left to fall to my side once more as we came to a stop at the front of the line. Instantly glancing to check if my luggage had taken as much damage as I had, a sigh of relief left my lips as I found my suitcase intact.

"Miss, your cab," the stranger said. Turning I stepped back to see him open up the cab door for me holding out his hand to take my luggage.

"Uhh..." I opened my mouth, unsure as I glanced at the open cab door, and back at the man. He quickly took hold of my suitcase put it in the boot, and before I knew it - I was sliding into the backseat.

"That'll be 5 pounds." he informed me, holding out his hand as he cocked smile. As if suddenly waking up, my eyes took in the crisp white shirt, black suit jacket, and matching pants with gold lining, a badge pinned to the breast pocket. A valet. Unbelievable. Quickly opening my purse I had barely pulled out a note before he snatched it up, giving me a wink as the cab took off. Glancing over my shoulder, I wasn't surprised to see him give a small wave before turning back to survey the crowds probably in search for another helpless victim.

 

I hated that word. Victim. The thought that airline valet had taken advantage of my foggy-headiness angered me, though only for a moment before I was staring outside the open window of the cab watching as lights passed by as the cab pulled out of the airport terminal. It felt strange... Driving on the wrong side of the rode - that is.

"Got the address?" the cabby asked, as I sat back. Glancing down at the napkin once more, I realized how ridiculous I must have looked holding a napkin in the middle of the departure area.

"It's... 68 Dublin Street, Edinburgh." I replied, taking a glance before I folding it quickly, only to stuff it into my purse.

"Vacation or work?" the cabby's voice startled me after a few minutes of silence.

"I've migrated." I replied, a small smile spreading across my lips as his mouth dropped open in a disbelieving 'o'.

"Where are ya' originally from then?" he inquired, raising a curious brow. Smiling, I could feel the tension in my shoulders ease a bit as I sat further back into the leather cushioning of the seat.

"Sydney, Australia." I said, giving an answer for his curiosity.

"A 'straya' then?" he joked chirpily. The sudden laugh that escaped through my lips, caused me to open my eyes wide in shock for a moment realizing it was the first time I'd really laughed with a stranger in a long time.

"So the 'straya' trend has even reacher the UK also... Unbelievable..."  I thought shaking my head as I wiped a tear from the side of my eye.

"Yes, I guess so." I replied, for a moment thinking of the ridiculous t-shirt my nephew Peter (Yvonne's son) had given me for my birthday only a few weeks earlier. That very 'slogan' had been scrawled over the front in permanent marker. A wonderful addition to the plain, white, K-mart shirt that Yvonne had obviously decided she didn't need anymore (though it wasn't as if she'd ever worn the thing, she was too 'high class'.)

"Why Edinburgh?" the driver asked, once more stealing me away from my own thoughts. I thought about it, maybe for a moment, before giving a small helpless shrug.

"It's a long-way away from where I used to live - obviously. But also, because of the much calmer atmosphere I kind of get from here... Sydney is beautiful, but I've found that - for myself - I'm in need of a change in location." I admitted, though not to much. The truth itself was quite an entirely separate conversation itself.

"Oh, okay, that makes sense. Although, if you don't mind me asking: how old are you?" his question caused me to stop for a moment. Heath died in 2010. I was 21 at the time.

"Twenty-four years old." the words left my lips, before it set in.

 

It was usually on the anniversary of Heath's death that I found myself feeling as I did then in the back seat of that taxi. I felt lost. Lost in the fact that I clearly remembered the day I realized I'd lost count of the days since Heath died, lost in the fact that I could still hear his words of love, murmured from his shaking lips as he breathed his last breaths... Lost in the fact that now at the age of 24, I had somehow survived 3 years after losing not only Heath but our unborn child who'd even in the shortest of times bound us tighter together than ever before.

"We're here." his voice said sharply, demanding my attention. Turning in my seat, I looked outside to see dim street lights creating a soft glow over the huge beige condo complex.

"I used to think there were 6 places there, but my daughter told me it was only 4 - she's a girl-scout." he said, as he fiddled with the machine that worked out how much I owed him.

"That'll be 78 euros, thanks." he said, before unbuckling his seat belt, pulling some kind of lever, and then getting out of the car. Pulling my purse over my shoulder as I stepped out also. Caught in a blank stare, I found my eyes glued to the building before the thump my suitcase being set down (straight on my foot, may I add) caused my attention to revert to the driver in an instant. He slammed the boot closed, casting me a crooked grin as I quickly unzipped my purse, and pulled out a 100 euro note. Handing it to him, I quickly took hold of my suitcase's handle before heading up the pathway.

"Your change!" he called out behind me. Looking back over my shoulder, I smiled at the sight of him waving his arms above his head like a lunatic.

"Keep it!" I called back, heading to the entrance.

 

*          *          *          *          *

I probably stared at the glass door and call-box for longer than 15 minutes, before it started sprinkling rain. As if it had somehow awakened me, my hands immediately rushed into my purse, digging around for the key as I glanced up at the sky. Worry furrowed my brow as my cold fingers found the two small golden keys, I tried one, and after a few unsuccessful moments of trying to turn it in the lock, tried the other. A sudden click coming from inside, light illuminating the previously dark hallway caused me to jump in fright. A withered hand reached out, and opened up the door from the other side.

"Locked out, are we deary?" an elderly lady asked, dressed in a pink dressing gown. My mouth opened in shock, before closing itself. My brain had seemed to stop working as after a few moments of silence, I looked down at the keys in my hand, and smiled at the woman.

"Yes, well, no. I've got the keys here see, but they don't seem to be working..." I began slowly glancing at the keys in my hand. Within an instant her nimble hands snatched them out of my grasp, and before I knew it she was holding them up in the light looking at them as if identifying if they were real gold or not. Still frozen in shock at the woman's boldness, I suddenly seemed to snap back to attention as she went to grab my suitcase.

"I can carry that." I cut in, my hand quickly swiping down before hers to snatch up the handle, and lift it through the front door.

"The locks got changed last week, something about the new tenant wanting to update the security." she informed me. Knowing that particular tenant, very well, it took me only a few seconds before deciding I knew exactly who she was talking about: Diana.

"But then again you must be that person. Am I right? I'm Edna, by the way. I live in number four." her smile beamed brighter than the fluorescent lights that lit up the hallway, her hand out-stretched. Taking her hand, I took note of the surprisingly strong handshake she had.

"Yes, I am. though I think the security update was my friend's idea. I'm Ariel." I smiled gently in return.

 

Quickly closing the door behind me, I followed as she began leading me to the elevator moving surprisingly fast also. So much so, that I was speed-walking to catch up.

"I can call the real estate if you'd like to have them give you: your copy of the new key, otherwise, I have a spare I can lend to you till they drop it off." Edna offered, as the elevator doors opened. Humbled by her generosity, I stepped in along side her with a small smile on my face.

"I wouldn't want you to go out of your way to call them. But, if I could borrow that key until I can sort out the time with them for when they can drop it off, that would be amazing." I said. The elevator doors opened, and I stepped out turning to give her a small wave,

"I'll have my grandson leave it with the young lad in number 2, his just across from yours. It'll be good for you to meet your new neighbour." she grinned, a sparkle in her eye.

"I'll be away for a week visiting the other grand children in Ohio, so I'll also leave an emergency number with him just in case you need to call me at any time." she informed me. Unsure how long I could smile without my cheeks hurting as much as they did at the time, I strained one last smile as I opened my lips to say one last 'thank you' before the doors slid closed, and she was gone.

 

Turning around, wheeling the suitcase to the door proved to be more, and more difficult with each step. Not that I was injured or anything but now that Edna had left me to my own devices, I was left to do nothing more than gape at the ridiculously gorgeous design of the hallway. The pictures had looked good online, and I always trusted Diana's judgement, but for a moment I seriously wondered how the hell I'd managed to bag the condo for a little under a million euros. It was the first time I'd spent any of the life insurance money Heath left behind. I'd practically lived off my relatives for the few months after his death, before being able to go back to writing reviews on my blog. It wasn't anything too fancy, but I'd started it at a young age, and after one, sudden media encounter, it was one of the 'hottest blogs of Australia' for three years in a row - before Heath died, that is. But I still had a good enough income through advertising on the site, and a large amount of constant readers that I never really seemed to run out of work.

 

The fact that I'd bought the place without really knowing what it was like, was suddenly becoming clearer to me as I turned the key in the lock of the condo door, and pushed it open. Goodness, graciousness. Stepping onto the hardwood floor, I flipped the light switch beside the door turning on the few medium-glow lamps along the cream walls, the glow of the lamps instantly illuminated the large hallway that opened up, almost immediately, to a huge dining room and living area already pre-furnished as requested. On the left was a state-of-the-arts kitchen, with the double fridge put in along with the other kitchen appliances placed in their selected areas. Closing the door behind me, I locked the door, leaving the suitcase where it was as I started slowly made my through the amazing condo I was now going to call 'home.'

 

Glancing in the guest bathroom on the right, I immediately felt my eyes move instantly to the hallway beside it. Walking down it I forced myself to take the few last steps before I met the breadth of a closed white door. Slowly clasping the handle, I took a deep breath before pushing the door open to reveal the master bedroom. The lights were already turned on, also illuminating the furniture inside. My eyes took in the wardrobe, vanity-dresser, and the king-sized bed - all of which I'd shipped earlier to be put in from Australia. Taking in the sight of the familiar bed-spread, I walked over slowly before turning, and sitting down on the edge, feeling the mattress sink slightly beneath my weight. It had been the same bed Heath, and I had bought before moving into our first house. Our only house. The house I'd sold immediately after he died. I'd felt an idiot at the time to be able to sell the house but not get rid of the bed... But when I remembered Heath, I saw that bed, and it was at times like this I knew no matter how I tried I still wasn't ready to let go just yet.

 

- 4th November 2008 -

"What's wrong?" he asked, his fingers brushed back the hair on my bare shoulder, his skin leaving the kind of tingling feeling that made me want more of him. Turning to lay on my side facing him, I watched his eyes shift lower before I blushed.

"It's nothing..." I said, pulling the sheet up to my chin, his eyes not leaving mine. Slowly looking up, I could feel his stare burn my skin.

"You're so beautiful Ariel." he murmured, his eyes meeting mine as I began to tear up. His hand lifted to caress my cheek. His warm hand. His welcome touch... I closed my eyes, but only for a moment, before turning my cheek into the embrace of his palm, and looking back up into his smouldering eyes.

"Ariel, I love you." he whispered, moving closed to wrap his other arm around my waist beneath the sheets. He pulled me close, resting his chin atop the crown of my head. The tears that welled up in my eyes were soon sliding down my cheeks as I rested my cheek against his hard chest, hearing the steady beat of his heart.

"What's wrong?" he asked again, smoothing a hand over my hair. Always gentle, always kind. Turning my head to the side, I took a shaky breath, my arms wrapping around his waist as I closed my eyes.

"I feel like maybe we're moving to fast... We're so young." I whispered, my voice cracking. I hated that part of me. The weak part. The part that didn't doubt our love, but doubted the other things that came with it.

"We just got engaged Ariel, I hardly think that's moving to fast." his voice was gentle, a hint of amusement causing me to open my eyes, and lean back at little to watch his face. I was silent, for a moment.

"I'm nineteen." I said, suddenly feeling like an idiot. I was an idiot, the words had come out before I could stop them and I felt my heart ache at how I felt it pull us apart.

"I've loved you since you were a baby." he assured me, a small smile crossing his lips making me forget my idiocy.

"You were five." I replied, a small smile crossing my lips as I remembered our childhood. The days we'd spent together growing up.

 

"Ariel, do you want to marry me?" he asked, his voice gentle, and soft though I knew behind his calm face he felt a slight insecurity. I felt him start to doubt my feelings... My heart swelled up as I nodded,

"I do, you know I do." I told him. We didn't move.

"Ariel. Do you know why I want to marry you...?" he asked, his voice drifting off. I didn't say anything, tears welling up in my eyes.

"It's because I want to spend forever with you," he whispered, his voice choking up, though only for a moment as he leaned his forehead against mine taking in a deep breath. He did that a lot.

"I want to spend my forever with you, Ariel. Right here... Okay, maybe not in my apartment, but in a house of our own. Do you know, why, when my dad asked what we'd like as an early wedding gift I requested a bed?" he asked gently. I shook my head, my eyes glued to his.

"Because when we find a house of our own one day, we might not have a lot of furniture, okay...?" he asked, I nodded.

"We might not even have enough food to eat maybe for a few weeks because of the house deposit, and such..." I nodded for him to continue. Sitting up he pulled me to sit up beside him, my hands dropping to lie between my folded legs, and his hands gently stroking my arms as he took a deep breath, his eyes never leaving mine.

"Our future is uncertain, I understand why your worried but I want you to know one thing..." he said. Blinking, I felt my eyes well up once more, and knew the next words he spoke would dissipate any doubts I had. They spilled down my cheeks, and I closed my eyes for a moment as his hands cupped my face, his thumbs sliding to brush the spilled tears from my cheeks as he rested his forehead against mine.

"When we get married, no matter how rich or poor we are, no matter if we have food or no food, no matter if we spent the day getting along or fighting, I want you to know: I will go to sleep every night with you - in this bed - and I'll be by your side there for the rest of your life, watching as you sleep, holding you as you cry, laughing with you as you laugh... Because I love you, Ariel, and if there's something you need to feel afraid of, it's the fact that I will never stop loving you..." his words broke my heart, yet healed it at the same time. An overwhelming sense of relief, and love enveloped my whole being, as did his arms as I cried freely, kissing him gently on the lips as he held me in his strong embrace.

"I'll love you forever, Ariel." his words seemed to carry throughout both my thoughts and being, as we lay side by side our hands entwined, his chest level with my head, his other arm moving around me protectively as he turned towards me, moving closer. Instinctively I turned towards him also resting my ear beside his heart, my body relaxing at it's constant beat beneath his hard chest. My eyes grew heavy, and as I felt my mind slip towards a dream-filled night, I whispered the only reply possible,

"I'll love you more."

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