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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9. Telling Hunter

"Sit," Edna had said gently.

"Tell me everything." she'd said. And I had. But sitting across from Hunter at dinner a few nights later, I felt like maybe I'd made a mistake. Telling Edna, agreeing to go for dinner with Hunter, I was even re-thinking over my decision to move to Edinburgh. Again.

"You don't seem hungry. Is there something wrong with the food?" Hunter's question, immediately causing my attention to stray from my own internal battle over my recent, and past decisions, those of which I was now quite unsure were the correct ones. Looking down at the perfectly cooked beef curry, I was wondering myself why I wasn't shoveling down the food. Though I only weighed 108 pounds, I was a proud foodie. Never before had I ever caught myself not eating a perfectly good meal. Even after Heath had died.

"It's not the food, the food is beautiful." I said, a sigh escaping my lips as I pushed my fork through the curry, mixing the rice with it. Blinking, my brow furrowed as I asked myself:

"What is going on with me?"  Which was funny since I didn't seem to have an answer for it myself.

 

"Then tell me what's on your mind." Hunter urged me gently. Looking up I was slightly startled at his sudden interest, the hardened look of his eyes didn't hide the worry that was etched in his perfect, handsome face. Taking a shaky breath, I knew I owed it him to tell him the truth. He'd asked me out for dinner, had taken me to a wonderful, up-town restaurant. The prices were a whole lot more higher than Giovanni's, and though I had my debit card on me, something told me he'd planned to pay all along.

"I-It's personal, and I don't tell many people about it. Heck, I'd only told Edna the other day..." my voice, a bare whisper, shook slightly as I tried to grasp the fact, I was - once more - about to do something I'd probably regret later.

"It's okay, I understand if you don't want to tell me. I hardly know you..." Hunter's harsh, resigned tone, urged my eyes to snap back up to his. He'd drawn his chair back, his hands on either side of the table, as if to get up.

"No, I didn't mean: I wouldn't tell you...!" I said, reaching out, and grasping his hand gently. Watching as he slowly sat back down, his eyes glued to mine, I cast him a faint smile.

"I'm just not good with first date's, so I don't know if this will ruin it." I admitted gently, my lashes lowering as a soft blush coloured my cheeks.

"So this is a 'date'?" he chuckled gently, turning my hand over so he cradled my hand in his, his thumb stroking the smooth skin of my bare hand. I bit my lower lip, watching as his thumb ran rhythmically ran over my skin leaving shingles in it's wake.

"I'm not sure. I'm not even sure, I've been on one before... I haven't done a dinner like this in a while either." I admitted, my eyes meeting his.

"So tell me then, Ariel. When was the last time you went out for dinner?" he asked, gently. The small smile on his lips unreadable.

"A-About 3 years ago. When my husband was alive..." I said, stumbling over my words for a second. Then, I began to tell him my story...

 

- 5th January 2010 -

"You look amazing." Heath murmured, his lips trailing over my forehead in the briefest of kisses. His hands held my arms, as he stepped back to take a good look. The floor-length red dress had set my ivory skin off like a homing beacon.

"It's a tad over-the-top, though, don't you think?" I asked, nerves getting the better of me. My brother's fiance: Rebecca - after months of hating me - had taken me shopping for the day, only to finally admit her reasons for hating me, and to buy me a ridiculously expensive dress for the engagement dinner which was to be held the same night.

"You're stunning. Rebecca has good taste." Heath assured me, eyes glued to the high-neckline. The throat-choking neckline, did little to hide the shape of my body. The halter-neck, backless dress hugged my body like a glove. With inbuilt support, and rubber strips to hold the dress against my chest, and stomach it hugged my waist, and all the way past my butt down to the knees before it fanned out.

"I don't like it." I announced. To say I was being modest was an understatement. I was proud to say my middle name was 'conservative'... Well, not really. But I wished it was. His hands smoothed down my arms, leaving goosebumps on my skin. Cupping my elbows, he pulled me near, kissing my lips gently.

"Trust me?" he asked, pulling away only to stare into my eyes. I bit my lip, nodding twice.

"Yep." I replied, earning another kiss, this one a little more ravenous, before a sudden knock at the door caused us to part.

 

Turning to see our future sister-in-law, Rebecca looking at us. I instantly took notice of the gleam in her eyes. The look, I'd somehow been able to convince myself wasn't there for the 2 years she'd been dating my elder brother Alexander. But it was... There, that is, and watching as her eyes seemed to burn a hole above my shoulder, I knew I could never forgive myself if I ever let that woman ruin my brother's life.

"The guests will be arriving soon, this changing room will be a little busy soon with all the cousins..." she breezed, her light, cheery tone only making her smouldering gaze even more hot. She turned to gaze around the room, her tiny, up-turned nose lifting even higher with a tilt of her chin, as she looked around in disdain.

"Hurry on now." she smirked, her eyes meeting mine in silent challenge. Heath's hand squeezed my arm, and I was momentarily distracted as he slipped his hand down my bare back, to rest on the small of my back before he began to edge me towards the door.

"Maybe we could continue 'that one' in one of the toilets." he growled, behind my ear with a small kiss. The suggestion loud enough for Rebecca's face to turn a bright red, as we slipped past her, and starting heading towards the dining room.

 

Her equally snotty mother stood at the head table snapping away at a poor, helpless waiter who'd probably set the wrong arrangement of flowers on the table, judging by the aimless flailing of her arms.

"A troublesome one she is. I always knew this one would bring trouble." a familiar voice chuckled behind us. Turning I met the solemn, blue-eyed gaze of Harold Fleck. My father. Standing at a short 5'7", had aged a lot since my mother's death when I was 15 years old, my elder brothers 18 at the time. However, as of recently his health had picked up, especially since the diagnosis that I possibly carried the same cancer gene that killed my mother. He'd found enough fight in him to build back up his immune system, and find strength to go back to attending the local church he'd been a member of since he was a kid. He'd stopped going after my mother had died, but since then had come a long way.

"You never really liked Daphne either, huh?" Heath chuckled, clearly amused at openness we had towards family conflict. Heath's family were legendary arguers... But were always behind doors.

"Her and that spawn-of-the-devil daughter, I do." dad declared loud enough for the best-man to hear.

 

Fredrick was handsome as always. Tousled blonde hair, and wearing a crisp suit with a red tie, his piercing blue eyes shot out from his signature expression of which was usually the extreme of his twin's.

"How are you guys?" he asked, standing beside dad. We all smiled back. You may think it's weird that my brother was happy as ever, when his twin, Alexander, was marrying the devil. But that was Fredrick for you. Always positive, and there to support you. He was one of the reason's I'd agreed to come to the engagement party (even though, I probably would've ended up coming anyway.)

"We're good" I smiled up at Fredrick, his eyes turning to me, before meeting Heath's (who was probably casting him a re-assuring smile.) It was the way things went. With both brothers. They never trusted any boy, guy or man with me. Except Heath. Which was pretty funny, considering Heath's dad was a family enemy... But that was another story.

"Your brother let the hell-hounds loose lately." dad announced, just as Rebecca came thundering into the dining room.

"Alexander Fleck! You come here now, or I'll...!" she was thundering, before she caught sight of us all standing there. Pausing, momentarily, she turned towards us. Putting on her best smile, she swiftly smoothed her hands over her cream, floor-length gown. Something told me by the way she glared at me for a moment, that I, standing in the fire-engine outfit (colour-wise, that is) would probably be painted as the baddie in this one.

"Oh Rie...!" she exclaimed, her voice suddenly softer, and some-what gentle as she gave an exaggerated sigh.

"I thought, I told you to get everyone spaced out for the guests. They'll be coming in any second!" she said, her light tone belying her accusation. Fighting back a frown, I plastered on a sweet smile.

"Oh, my bad Car. I thought you said: 'tell everyone to spaced aliens', not that is made much sense..." I faked a light laugh, easily out-doing her own act.

"But it was just so hard to understand when you mouth was full off that stuff they had prepared for... dessert, was it?" I was saying, before she went tight-lipped. Deciding to let my sentence drift off, as if suddenly in thought, I glanced at the others giving them a smile.

"Do something!" I pleaded silently, hoping I was sending some sort of signal.

"Morgan, nice to see you here," Heath picked up instantly, as the first of the guests arrived. Taking hold of my elbow, he steered me clear of the 'situation'. Safe. For now.

"Heath. Ariel, a pleasure as always." Morgan, the first of many relatives, drawled.

 

The night had continued on positively from there. After all 300 guests had arrived they'd settled down nicely, and my nerves had begun to ease by the 3rd course of the 6 course meal.

"This isn't going as bad as I thought," Heath whispered, setting off the nerves again. Though unintentional, he did seem to do that a bit. Not that he noticed.

"Don't speak so soon, the speeches are coming up soon along with that darned presentation the mother set up..."  I reminded him, leaning towards Heath. My voice had been lowered to a harsh, whisper as I felt the searing of one's glare at the back of my head. Sitting straighter, I swiveled in my seat, turning to see Rebecca glaring beside me.

"Try not to ruin my engagement party 'sister'." she hissed, faking a smile at the unsuspecting guests as she forced another bite of her lasagne into her mouth, before chewing slowly.

"I understand. Must be so hard, when your too busy checking out my husband." I snapped back, unable to control myself. Not having to turn to know Rebecca's face had probably gone as pale as the china-white porcelain, I picked up my napkin, and dabbed at my lips.

"If you'll excuse..." I murmured, moving to stand up. Pushing my chair back, I stood up just as the projector came on. Momentarily blinded for a moment, my hand went to my eyes covering them. Blinking, and moving out of the way, when my hand left my eyes all I could see were the shell-shocked faces of the stunned guests.

"What's going on?" I asked, looking straight down at my dress. There was nothing wrong in that department. Relief flooded through me, before those at the head table turned around. I hadn't noticed anything else astray until I heard Alex mutter something about God. He wasn't religious.

"What is this, Rebecca?" Daphne screeched from the other side of the table. Turning around, my hand flew to my mouth seeing a picture of Rebecca smiling as she took a photo of herself next to a sleeping Heath. Next slide. A sleeping me.

"Oh my god..." I murmured, suddenly feeling sick. My stomach was beginning to turn, and the thought that not only had my brother been about to marry an unfaithful-liar, but also an obviously psycho-weirdo-person was beyond me.

"Ariel..." Heath's voice came out to me. Turning I hadn't realized I'd become deaf to the chaos around me. Daphne, and Rebecca screaming at one another as Alex stalked away from the table, and out of the room. Dad was finishing off his lasagne, whilst Fredrick began to shout a toast to the early end of a failed future.

 

"Honestly, Ariel. I don't like you, because your a sob case. All you do is feel sorry for yourself. Cry, cry, and cry. That's all you do. I don't know anyone cares so much. I mean, you obviously get more attention than you deserve. So what you may have cancer? You're going to die anyway. Might as well enjoy life while you have one..." Rebecca's words rang through my ears. Now, I knew why she made me wear the red dress. It had been her own sick way of making me the center of attention, somehow to make people pity me.

"To see me 'enjoy' life when I'm going to die...?" my voice broke my thoughts. Heath's hands grasped my arms, bringing me close.

"Ariel," he seemed to say. Blinking, my brow furrowed.

"How had she gotten into the house, anyway?" I wondered, suddenly feeling really dizzy.

"Ariel!" Heath's voice was louder now, more insistent. Looking up into his eyes, I felt a wave of nausea take over me as my eyes slid shut, and I slumped forward into Heath's awaiting arms.

"Ariel! Ariel! Somebody help...!" Heath's voice was fading. Wondering what I was going to do with myself, I shushed him my breathing haggard as I slapped a heavy hand over Heath's mouth, missing half of it in the process.

"Shh... I think I know what happened." I said, my voice slurred, before I fell into oblivion.

 

*          *          *          *          *

"So you were married to a childhood, best-friend... I would never have guessed," Hunter murmured thoughtfully. I wasn't sure if I'd ruined my chances or not with him, but something told me I'd found a good listener. I hadn't ended up telling him everything. Just some things. How we'd grown up together, when I realized my love wasn't only one-sided...

"Did you ever have..." he said, before trailing off. I lowered my lashes, momentarily flashing back to the disastrous night not only my brother's plans had come undone, but our lives had changed forever.

"I was pregnant when he died. We lost the baby too." I whispered, tears filling up my eyes as I blinked them back slowly. Not wanting to bother with a tissue, I ran my hands over my eyes, knowing full-well that my mascara would probably get smudged all over my face. Glancing up, I felt the tears come on again when I right before my eyes I saw something that had me momentarily stunned, wondering how I could have found such a person as this guy. He'd been holding out a tissue the whole time.

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