🕊 ~WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊~
🍁 ~PROLOGUE 🍁~
“Please stop!” I screamed. I felt the trickle of liquid along
the side of my face. Once I got over the shock, I felt the
unbearable pain as it ripped through my skin, forever
“You son of a bitch! Stop! Oh God, let her go!” I heard
my mother scream. “Let her go! Please, I beg you! Stop it!”
“No! She’s a spawn of the Devil! Can you not see it?” he
asked in a hoarse voice. “Maybe you can’t! Her beautiful,
angelic face conceals all the darkness within her! I will show
you! Once her beauty is gone… you will see her for what
she really is!”
He pulled my hair so I could face him. I willed myself to
be brave as I stared at the man who once meant the whole
world to me. He was staring back at me with bloodshot eyes
rimmed with dark circles. They were blazing with anger, like
he truly believed I was a demon he needed to kill.
He lifted the glass bottle over my face once again. I
closed my eyes, accepting my fate.
“No!” I heard my mother scream as she launched at
him. He fell back, released me and I fell to the floor.
I can feel the liquid eating through my skin, making its
way to my flesh. My whole body felt numb and I couldn’t
move even if I wanted to.
“You cannot stop me!” he roared as his hand landed on
my mother’s face and she, too, fell to the floor.
I was exhausted but I willed myself to get up, not just to
save myself, but to help my mother. I struggled to look up
and saw the familiar man with big brown eyes come after
me again. I knew that face. It used to be a face of comfort
for me. I remembered the first time I met him. I was barely five years old then. He was the only father I ever knew… the
only father I ever loved. He took care of me like I was his
own flesh and blood.
Now… I could barely recognize his face. Substance
abuse changed not only his physical attributes, but also the
way he saw things. In his eyes, I was probably a little
monster that he had to kill. The hallucinations were
completely taking over him, making it difficult to separate
fiction from fact… nightmares from reality.
I couldn’t give a fight when I saw him swing the bat. I
could only close my eyes. “Monster!” he growled as he
prepared to hit me in the face.
I braced myself for the unbearable pain that would
probably be the death of me. I was praying for a miracle,
hoping to God that it was not yet my time… wishing I had a
guardian angel who would magically appear on my side to
shield me, save me and fight for me.
I took a deep breath, which could well be my last… and
then I heard a gunshot.
The sound was deafening, almost impairing my sense of
hearing. But the silence that followed was even worse.
The mixed scent of gunpowder, burning skin and blood
filled the room. I could only hear the wild beating of my
heart, the silent whimpers that I didn’t know belonged to me
and the fast intakes of last breaths that belonged to the
man I once called Dad.
I stared into space, not really looking at anything in
particular as I tried to distract myself from the harsh reality
that I knew would slap me in the face and probably cripple
me for life.
It was over… months of torture and physical abuse,
days of struggling to heal from the wounds. Now… I could
only feel my heart breaking, because for the last ten years
of my life, I truly loved him. And I know, he truly loved us.
He had always been there to take care of me and my
mother. He used to chase my nightmares away. And now…
I’m sure most of my nightmares will be of him, chasing me,
pouring acid over my face.
Then finally, I heard the sirens, telling me that help was
here. They would come to make it all right, wouldn’t they?
They would take me away to a place far enough… where
nobody could hurt me again. They would fix my wounds…
make sure I could function again… I could live normally
Everything was going to be okay.
But I know… no matter what happens… nothing can
erase the scars he left in my heart… and most importantly,
my soul. No matter what they do, they couldn’t take away
the pain and they couldn’t chase the nightmares that are to
haunt my sleepless nights.
🕊 ~WINGLESS AND BEUTIFU~ L🕊
“Come on, wake up, sleepyhead!” I heard my aunt’s
voice as she snatched the headphones away from my head.
I struggled to open my eyes. I looked at my wristwatch.
It was one in the afternoon. I slept in again and I knew
Meredith hated that. But sometimes, I couldn’t help it. It was
hard for me to sleep at nights. In the dark, the nightmares
got worse. I couldn’t sleep with the lights out now. But even
with the lights on, I still found myself waking up in the
middle of the night, screaming as the memories of the pain I
had experienced during that night come back to me, making
me retreat, and curl up in fear and misery.
Meredith stared at the dark circles under my eyes and
smiled apologetically. “I told you… some counseling can
help you, sweetheart. Really. I can afford a few sessions.”
I shook my head. Meredith is my mother’s younger
sister. She just graduated from college when she got the call
that changed her life forever. She found out that instead of
looking for a job and exploring the world like she originally
planned, she had to move to a strange town to take care of
I felt guilty for what happened to her, too. She was just
a kid out of school, and now she had to grow up faster than
she first intended to so she could make ends meet and take
care of a troubled teenager like me.
“That’s not necessary, Meredith,” I said. She didn’t want
to be called aunt. She said it would make her feel old.
“We’re already struggling to get by each day. I don’t want
you to waste your hard-earned money to pay somebody who will only eat donuts and drink coffee while I lie on the
couch and talk about things I would rather forget.”
She came to sit beside me. “At least… that person can
prescribe pills that can help you… fall asleep.”
“I already have something for that,” I said, with a wide
smile on my face. “Your manuscripts!”
She glared at me. “How dare you go through my
things?” She hit me with a pillow.
“I’m kidding!” I said, laughing.
Meredith was an aspiring writer. One day, when I had
nothing to do in the house, I went to her room and decided
to be useful for once and cleaned up. I found some of her
manuscripts and read them. She was actually pretty good
but I thought none of the stuff she wrote was PG-15.
“I’m going out,” she said. “I have to be in CRC in an
“Alright. I’ll just be here,” I said to her. As always, I
added in my head.
She looked at me apologetically. She stared at my face
for a while.
Two guesses which part of my face she was staring at.
It was my scar. The one on the right side of my face,
between my cheekbone and my ear, and ran down all the
way to my jaw. I immediately felt self-conscious. The skin
was damaged and the scar was horrendous. I was told that I
was lucky my stepdad only let the chemical trickle on the
side of my cheek, and it didn’t go further on the other parts
of my face. I was luckier it didn’t hit my eye.
Even before that tragic night, we didn’t really live a
charmed life, so there was no way I could afford plastic
I combed my hair to the side to hide the scar from
Meredith’s view. That way, nobody would know how
damaged I really was.
Meredith sighed and asked, “Why don’t you come with
I stared back at her. “Why?”
She shrugged. “The kids at the center could use a little
I smirked. “From me? Seriously? Have you met me
“I don’t know how you do this, Alice. I would have
been…” She trailed off then she said, “You always look and
sound positive, nobody will be able to guess what happened
to you that night.”
“By that you mean, I still look charming, nobody will
really be able to guess that I was Scarface in real life?”
“No, silly!” she replied. “Not that. I meant… you still
laugh a lot, joke a lot. Nobody would guess what really
happened to you. I would have been… devastated. Some
kids from the center would be able to learn a lot from you.”
“Really?” I was quite uncertain about what she was
She nodded. “Some of them didn’t even go through half
the stuff you’ve been through and yet, they lost the will to
“I don’t know, Mer. This may very well backfire.”
She shrugged. “Well, in any case, you could use a
change of scenery. The institution has beautiful landscaped
grounds, a library, a game room and best of all… a music
I stared up at her. “Music room, huh?”
Meredith looked like she really wanted me to come. Not
just because she thought I would be able to help the other
people there. But because she thought it would help me to
see those who stayed in the center… the ones who were as
broken as I was.
I stood up from my bed. “I’ll just shower,” I said.
She beamed at me. “You will like it there, Al.”
Forty minutes later, Meredith was parking her beaten-up
Volkswagen in one of the open parking spaces in CRC.
CRC actually stands for Campbell Rehabilitation Center.
It was a huge estate in our town, with a big, white façade
and a number of different gardens and smaller structures
around it. CRC is a place for the less-than-perfect residents
of our town. Some stay there for a couple of weeks for little
problems such as broken bones that require physical
rehabilitation. And yet, some stay for months, maybe even
years because they require more intensive rehab… such as
those who are terminal, or have head trauma that caused
amnesia, or victims of violence… like me.
I did not expect CRC to look like a big park or
playground. There were a lot of people in the front garden,
chatting and playing. It looked more like a campus than a
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Meredith asked as we walked
towards the lobby.
“The board that manages this wanted the people who
come here to feel normal. They wanted this to be a refuge
for all those who needed help. The environment is relaxed.
There’s an open-door policy for most visitors. There are a lot
of recreational activities, and treatments are coupled with
sports and play.”
“And you brought me here because you thought I
needed to be around these people? So I won’t feel bad
about myself?” I asked her bluntly.
Meredith thought carefully before she answered, “No
one should have to go through what you went through and
be… okay.” She didn’t disguise the weary in her tone.
“I knew it!” I whispered under my breath. I shook my
head. “I’m not going to be a burden to you or anybody,
Meredith. I know I’m only sixteen. That dreadful day was
more than a year ago. Can’t you just trust me when I say
that… I’m okay? I don’t need a damn shrink!” I was trying to
keep my emotions under control. “I’m fine!”
“I’m sorry.” Tears were starting to well up in her eyes.
“Oh geez, Mer. Don’t cry!” I said, squeezing my temples
with my fingers. I haven’t cried in a long time. After that
night, I haven’t cried at all. I don’t like seeing people sad,
especially not because of me. I meant what I said to her. Life
goes on. We just need to keep moving forward. That’s what I
keep telling myself each night—in spite of the nightmares. I
need to keep moving forward.
Meredith wiped the tears on her cheeks with her fingers.
“I’m sorry, Alice. I just… want to do more for you.”
I smiled at her ruefully. “And you are. You don’t have to
worry so much.”
She took a deep breath. “I hear you at nights, Alice. You
scream in your sleep,” she said in a broken voice. “You do it
almost every night. I’m getting worried.”
I sighed. She wasn’t supposed to know that. I never told
her that it was hard for me to sleep at nights and when I do
manage to drift off, the nightmares never fail to chase me.
“You need to talk to somebody about this, Alice.”
I nodded slightly. “Yeah. But not a shrink,” I said. “I’m
not screwed up in the head, Mer.”
“Not all people who see a shrink are screwed up.”
“Well, because most of the time, those who go to one
are rich. And if you’re rich, you aren’t called crazy; you’re
Meredith sighed. “You could talk to me, you know.”
“I do talk to you,” I argued. “Just not about…” I trailed
off, not wanting to continue… well, not really wanting to
remember. Some memories are better left forgotten.
“School is starting in a couple of months,” she said.
“They extended your scholarship.”
“Yeah. I’ll bet Leighton High wouldn’t miss the
opportunity to use that for publicity. You know… for their
social responsibility initiatives. I’m a walking charity case,” I
Meredith shook her head. “No. They didn’t do that for
charity. They extended your scholarship because they know you’re brilliant.” She smiled at me encouragingly. “And
maybe it’s time for you to be around kids your age. You
should be out having fun with friends.”
“I don’t really have friends.” That was true. We moved
to this city a few months before my stepfather went…
cuckoo. I got a scholarship at Leighton High, the town’s
most prestigious institution, where the most privileged kids
in town study.
My stepdad was earning a decent living then. But he
lost some money to gambling. Then he went into drug
abuse. And everything was history… yeah, like literally
history. We were featured on the town paper for weeks!
My brighter days weren’t enough time and opportunity
to make friends. I had a few acquaintances but they all
either moved to another city or they just didn’t feel like
being friends with the scar-faced girl, who had a drug addict
for a stepdad and a… murderer for a mom.
“Then hang around here once in a while,” she said.
“There are kids here the same age as you. And like you…
they’re looking for friends too. You didn’t want to speak to a
shrink. Okay. Maybe you should make friends. Speak to
them. It will help, I’m sure.”
I nodded. I didn’t really believe her. But I just didn’t want
to make her feel worse than she already did. Meredith was
trying hard enough for both of us. The least that I could do
was make her feel that I was cooperating with her when she
was struggling to keep it together.
“Okay,” I agreed. “Now, do you really want me to hang
around with you? Or can I just… take a stroll around this
She nodded. “Go ahead. I’ll meet you here after three
“Cool,” I murmured and then I turned around to walk
I didn’t really know where I was going. But I figured, I
hadn’t been out of the house much in the last couple of months, I should just explore freely. I was in solitude, just
staying in, doing school stuff. The teachers were kind
enough to allow me to do my schoolwork without
necessarily being in the school. Meredith picked up my
modules and I studied at home. When I was required to take
a test in the classroom, I showed up for a couple of hours…
aced my exams and then I went back home.
I strolled in one of the gardens. The shrubs were well-
trimmed and the flowers were in full bloom. As I inhaled the
fresh air, I thought to myself… maybe I could take my
‘solitude’ outdoors this time around.
I strolled further into the back of the huge estate. I
found a path that led to an orchard hidden behind the
building. I didn’t know where it would take me, but I didn’t
really care. For the first time, I was enjoying the rays of the
sun against my skin and the refreshing breath of nature. I
could hear the birds chirping somewhere from a distance.
The orchard was surrounded by very tall trees and the path
was covered by dried leaves and flowers.
I looked at the sky. It was light blue… clear and serene.
And I felt a sense of peace within me. Here… it felt safe.
Like nothing could touch me… or hurt me. Not even my
I continued walking, admiring the scenery around me.
Then all of a sudden, I collided into something solid. I
shrieked. I was afraid that the impact was going to cause
me to fall flat on my butt. But for some reason, I felt
something envelop me, keeping me warm, and preventing
I stared up at what I collided into, which was still holding
I found myself staring at a pair of sunglasses. It took me
a moment to realize that it was a boy. His skin was light and
flawless. His jaw was strong and his nose was perfect. Only
when he raised a brow and gave me a look of annoyance
that I realized I had been staring.
“Geez,” he said. “The last time I checked, I was the one
who’s blind.” I heard the trace of anger and frustration in his
He settled me on my feet and I pulled away from him.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I wasn’t… looking.”
“Neither was I,” he muttered. “But unlike you… I didn’t
really have a choice.”
“What…” I started asking. Then I remembered him
saying something about being blind. “Oh. You’re… blind?” I
He raised a brow again. “And you’re deaf?”
Okay. He’s arrogant too!
But as he went down on his knees to feel the ground for
the walking stick that he dropped when he collided into me,
I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. I immediately bent
down and reached for the stick to help him.
“Don’t!” he said in a sharp voice.
I stopped and stared at him. He looked like he was
staring back at me under those sleek sports sunglasses of
his. But I know he couldn’t really see me.
“I was just… trying… to help,” I stammered.
“I don’t need your help,” he said in the cockiest tone I
had ever heard in months.
He was the first person to ever snap at me in almost a
year. After that tragic night, everybody spoke to me gently,
sympathetically, I could almost always hear the pity tears in
I had this sudden urge to cripple this guy, but then I
stopped myself. Losing your sight is one of the worst things
that can happen to anyone.
He touched the ground again and finally he felt the stick
in his hand. He stood up and started walking slowly. He
walked past me, dismissing me.
I watched him. He looked sure of what he was doing, like
he had the path memorized at the back of his mind. I saw him take a turn towards the right and I got curious. I kept
my distance as I followed him.
The trees on the new path were much closer to each
other and the branches almost closed over the sky. Only a
couple of rays of sunlight were able to make it through the
grounds. And then, I saw that the path led to a beautiful
The place was magnificent and quiet. It was like an
entirely different world out there. I couldn’t help feeling at
peace. The place was so serene; it felt almost ethereal.
I continued walking, enjoying the sight around me.
Suddenly, I collided into a solid surface again. I realized that
the boy had stopped walking, and I closed the distance
between us because I was no longer watching where I was
“Well, hello, clumsy!” he muttered.
“So-sorry,” I murmured.
He turned around to face me. “Why are you even
“I wasn’t,” I said defensively.
“Okay… I was curious,” I admitted. “I mean… why would
somebody like you stray so far from the center?”
“Somebody like me?” he echoed, and his voice sounded
like he really found that offensive. Then he replied, “So I
would not be bothered by somebody like you.”
I sighed. This guy sounded like he hated it if somebody
pointed out or even mentioned his condition. But he
couldn’t deny that. He was blind. How could he be brave
enough to go as far as this place without somebody looking
out for him?
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” I said. “But… well,
shouldn’t somebody be looking out for you? You could get
lost or you could trip over something.”
He didn’t speak for a while. But when he spoke, his
voice sounded serious. “I don’t need anybody. I’ll be just…fine.” There was emphasis on the last word.
“Alright,” I said. Then I turned to the line of trees in front
of us. A few feet away, I saw a bench and a wooden table. It
was right there in the center of the woods, in the middle of
the trees, facing the lake. I walked past the guy and went to
the bench. I heard a groan behind me.
“Can you… go back to where you came from?” he
“Nope,” I replied. “Why? It’s beautiful out here.”
“And now you’ve ruined it!” he muttered.
I turned back to him and started glaring. I knew he
couldn’t see me anyway so I could make faces all I wanted.
Just then, I saw his lips curve into a small grin. “You’re
glaring, aren’t you?” he asked.
My eyes widened. I had to wave my hand in front of me
to check if he really couldn’t see. But his head didn’t move
at all. He just stood there, smirking.
“And now you’re waving your hand in front of me to
check if I couldn’t really see,” he said. He sighed, “Well, I
“How in the—”
“I just know,” he replied, not letting me finish my
question. He walked slowly towards the bench. Then he sat
down slowly, placing his walking stick in front of him. I sat
down beside him and stared at the swans swimming in front
of us. I’ve always thought that swans were regal creatures—
beautiful and magnificent.
“You’re not going to leave, are you?” he asked.
The place was too peaceful and it provided the comfort I
didn’t even know I was looking for. And also… suddenly, I
didn’t feel like leaving him behind. What if something
happened to him and no one found him?
“Nope,” I replied.
He let out a sigh of frustration.
I groaned. “Come on! You can just ignore me. I won’t
talk. It’s not like you can see me, anyway!”
The second that left my mouth I regretted it.
Nice shot, Alice! That was really sensitive! And not
mean at all!
“I’m… I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” he said, to my surprise. “It’s not like it isn’t
true, you know. And it’s not your fault I am like this.”
I bit my lower lip. I kept quiet this time. I directed my
attention to the swans in front of us.
“How many are they?” he asked.
I counted the swans in my head. I could feel my heart
slightly breaking for him. He came here—in this little piece
of heaven—and he didn’t even see the magnificent view
before him, and the wonderful creatures that played in front
“Six,” I replied.
He nodded slightly.
“Did you know what they are?”
He nodded again. “I’ve always admired them. I grew up
in my family’s lake house and we always had swans. Back
then, I didn’t care how beautiful they were. Had I known my
time to admire their beauty was limited, I would have
stopped at least one minute every day just to look at them.”
When I heard him say that, I felt like he was not just
talking about the swans anymore; he was talking about life
in general. And I have to say I feel exactly the same.
I thought I had a lot of time too. I thought that life was
going to be as perfect as it always had been. I thought I
would always have the things that I didn’t worry about
losing before. Now… they were just mere memories. And no
matter how much I tried… how hard I prayed… I could never
get them back.
“So what’s wrong with you?” he asked, interrupting my
“What?” I asked back.
“Okay, I think I know what,” he said, smirking.
It took me a moment to realize that he was actually
joking. I looked at his face and it was the first time that I
realized how handsome he was. His skin was smooth,
flawless. His hair, the darkest shade of blond, it actually
looked light brown. He has these aristocratic features that
made him look angelic and devilish at the same time.
“I’m not deaf,” I finally said to him. “And I’m not from
“So what brought you to the world of the freaks if
nothing’s wrong with you?”
My lips curved into a smile. He was not the only one
with a sense of humor so I said, “I actually escaped from an
institution that houses dangerously insane individuals. I
haven’t slaughtered anyone in a long time and I’m just…
dying for a kill right now. I thought CRC is a good place to
look for a prey.”
He turned towards my direction. I expected him to run
away or wave his walking stick towards me as a means to
defend himself. But, instead, he raised his hands in the air
and said, “Go ahead. Knock yourself out.”
He was either calling my bluff or he just didn’t care
about his life anymore.
“I was kidding, you know,” I said.
“I know. You don’t strike me as dangerous. Mental,
maybe. But harmless, nonetheless,” he said. “But then
again… if you weren’t kidding, I’m not stopping you either.”
“Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” I asked.
He sighed. “If you’ve lost as much as I did… there’s
nothing much going on for you.”
I sighed. Who was he to talk about losing a lot in life? I
lost everything and yet… the only thing I did was cave in…
keep it all inside me, because that was the only way I knew
how to survive. Repress the memories. Run away from the
nightmare and the pain. But I never thought about giving up
the fight. It never even crossed my mind.
“You’re not the only one who lost a lot in life,” I argued,
misery enveloping my voice. I don’t know if he noticed.
“But at least you could still see the things you have
left,” he argued back.
I took a deep breath. “Seeing them is not always a gift,”
I murmured. “Because it also reminds you of the things that
you can never see anymore. It will always remind you of the
things that you used to have… the people who used to be
with you and were… not there anymore.”
For a long while he fell silent, absorbing the words I just
said. Then he asked, “What’s your name?”
“Allison. Allison Harley,” I replied. “What’s yours?”
“Hunter Vaughn.” He extended his hand to me.
I reached forward and shook it. “Nice to meet you,
After a while, we were both quiet again. I was staring at
the view in front of us… Hunter was listening to every sound
I couldn’t help feeling safe here… in this place. It looked
like a different world for me. And it gave me the real peace
that I had been craving for, for more than a year.
I didn’t mind that I was not alone. Hunter was lost in his
thoughts, too. And he never interrupted mine.
I felt comfortable that way. No one was looking at me
and whispering behind my back. No one around me was
curious about the scars I was hiding and the horrific story
behind them. I was not being judged or pitied on. I was not
being pressured to open up about the things I bottled up
No one was telling me that it was okay for me to cry…
saying that they felt sorry for me and they understood
exactly how I felt… because hell! They didn’t! They did not
go through the things I went through. They didn’t go
through all the pain and the abuse. They weren’t rescued
from that nightmare only to wake up and find out that
another one was just beginning.
No one was telling me that everything was going to be
just fine… because how could it be? The two people I loved
the most in the world were gone. Things will never be the
same. Things were most certainly not going to be okay!
My phone suddenly rang, interrupting my thoughts. It
“Alice, where are you? It’s time to go home. I have to
finish some reports.”
“Okay. Meet you in the parking lot in a few minutes,” I
I turned to Hunter. Although he was not looking at me
directly, his face was inclined to my direction, indicating
that he was listening.
“That was my aunt,” I said. “I have to go.”
He stood up from the bench and gathered his walking
stick. “I’ll walk you back.”
I found his statement both endearing and surprising. For
a guy in his state to offer chivalry was indeed… rare.
“Really… it’s okay,” I said. “I can make it back.”
“Nonsense. You might get lost,” he insisted, and this
time, I heard amusement in his voice.
We walked side by side in silence. With all fairness to
Hunter, he didn’t look like he needed a walking stick at all;
he looked agile and it seemed like he memorized every step
of the path.
“How often do you come here?” I asked.
“At least two times a day… for the last two hundred
days,” he replied.
“No wonder you’ve memorized the way. How did you
even discover it?”
“Did you hear anybody say that when you lose one
sense, your other senses try to make up for it? I didn’t know
it was true until I got to experience it.”
“If… if you don’t mind me asking… how long have you
been…” I trailed off.
“Almost a year,” he replied. I didn’t miss the bitterness
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I couldn’t help reaching out for his hand and squeezing
it. “I’m sorry,” I said very gently.
He squeezed my hand back. “I am too.”
I released his hand and we walked in silence again. We
finally reached the grounds of the center.
“It was nice meeting you, Hunter Vaughn.”
“It was nice meeting you too, Allison Harley.” He paused
for a while and asked, “You said, you weren’t from here. So
what were you doing here? Were you visiting someone?”
“No,” I replied. “My aunt volunteers here at least twice a
week. Today, she pestered me to come with her. She was
afraid that if I don’t talk to anybody soon, I would… lose it.”
“They don’t understand that if they force you to lose the
lid on the emotions you bottle up inside… you actually will
end up losing it,” he said, but I knew he was speaking about
his own emotions… not mine.
I realized that Hunter and I… we’re not so different. We
were both angry. And staying away from the world of people
with perfect lives was the only way we knew how to cope up
with the pain. Repressing misery and keeping it at bay were
the only way we could get hold of the rage that we felt
“Will you come back tomorrow, Allison?” he asked.
I nodded even though I know he couldn’t see me.
For some reason, he knew what my answer was. I saw a
faint smile cross his face. “Then you know where to find
me,” he said before he turned to walk back inside the