🕊WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊
If before, Chaise was pestering me, pretending to be cute
and teasing me around school, he was now staying away. I
could still see him watching me during lunch or on the
grounds when he was hanging out with some friends and I
happened to pass by. I couldn’t make out the expression on
his face. He looked genuinely hurt… or pissed.
“Did you do something to Chaise?” Denise asked me
one time during lunch. I was sitting with her at the far
corner of the cafeteria. Chaise was in the center table with
all the other popular boys and girls.
When I looked at Chaise, he was staring at me. He was
wearing a red jacket over his hooded sweater.
I stared at Denise for a while and then I shrugged.
“You know… ever since he came to school, he was
always watching you. He looked really interested.”
“Seriously?” I asked Denise. “Have you looked at my
Denise rolled her eyes. “Yes! And I say you’re pretty!
Prettier than most girls in this school. Prettier than Chelsea
and her gang. And they didn’t have the scars you have.”
“Exactly! I have ugly scars.”
Denise sighed. “You’re beautiful, Alice. And when you
cover your scars with your hair like that… no one would
actually guess you weren’t flawless,” she said. “Chaise must
have seen what I am seeing. Don’t you want to give him a
chance? Wasn’t he nice enough to help you out with your
job at his aunt’s shop? Maybe he really does like you.”
I shook my head.
“It’s still that guy, isn’t it?” Denise asked, looking at my
I looked down at my pendant and remembered Hunter.
Yes. It will always be Hunter.
“You don’t know what happened to him,” Denise said.
“Maybe he’s not coming back. Has he even called you since
he left? Emailed or snail-mailed you? If he’s serious about
making you wait, he would have at least given you hope
that you are waiting for something.”
I bit my lip. I hate to admit it, but Denise had a point.
Where was Hunter? If he had a treatment, or a transplant, it
would have healed by now. If it was unsuccessful, then he
would have returned to the center. And if he’s back, he
would have called me, right? After all, Meredith’s contact
numbers were still there. He had a way of reaching me. But I
had no way of reaching him.
Has he given up on me? On us?
“Maybe it’s time you give some other guy a chance,”
Denise said. “What if Chaise was serious about you? What if
he was sincere? He knows about your scars… and he’s still
making an effort to reach out to you. Don’t you think that’s
reason enough to give him… a chance? Just get to know him
“I don’t think so, Denise,” I said. “I don’t think I’d be
“You won’t,” Denise said sadly. “Because you weren’t
even trying. Because your boyfriend… who may never come
back… still lives in you. You’re not even giving another guy
a chance. I hope you think about this. Before it’s too late.”
That night, I closed Alibri thirty minutes later than usual
because of last minute customers. Good thing, Meredith
wasn’t in town tonight. She wouldn’t like me getting home
later than ten-fifteen.
As I double-locked the doors, I turned to look at the
corner street and something caught my eye. There was a
guy standing behind the post in the corner. He was wearing
a dark gray hooded jacket. He looked like he was waiting for
Dismissing him, I began to hike. After I walked a block, I
turned to look behind me, like I always did. I saw the hooded
guy walking about thirty meters away. He walked a normal
pace… his strides didn’t look suspicious at all.
I turned the corner again. After a few steps, he turned
up the same corner and walked on the same direction. This
time, I kept a faster pace to increase the distance between
us. He didn’t make an effort to walk faster. I turned the last
corner leading to my house. I ran to the porch and inserted
my key. I quickly got inside and double-locked the doors. I
went to the window and took a peek. The guy walked past
my house, looked at it for a couple of seconds and then
walked away. I didn’t catch a glimpse of his face. But his
form looked like he was just a teenager.
I know it isn’t possible, but suddenly, I had a strong
feeling that it was Chaise.
I couldn’t help remembering that the last time I spoke to
him, I gave him a power slap on the face.
What if… he was following me and finding the right time
to attack? What if he couldn’t accept the fact that I rejected
him and he was thinking of avenging his ego?
The next day in school, Chaise was still the same. He
never made an attempt to talk to me anymore. But boy, if
looks could kill, I would be dead already. He kept his eyes on
me. Watching me. Sometimes, even glaring at me.
That night, I saw that guy again. He was standing in the
same corner as last night. And when I started walking, he
started walking too. My heart pounded in my chest and I
could feel all the hairs in my body rise.
I took a few short breaths and reached out for my bag to
grip my pepper spray. I took a different route tonight. Just to
see if he would still follow.
After walking a few blocks, I looked behind me and to
my dismay, the guy was also there. But he kept his distance. Sometimes, he walked much slower, making no
attempt to close the distance between us.
Was it still a coincidence? Or was he really following
When I reached my porch, I turned around to look
behind me again. I saw the boy standing at the corner street
about thirty meters away from me. He just stood there and
watched me go inside the house. Once I was safely in, I
peeked through the window. I saw him turn around and walk
Now, that was really creepy!
The next night, I saw him again. I walked slower this
time, still keeping my pepper spray within reach. I held my
breath and looked behind me. There was no one there. I
sighed in relief. He didn’t follow this time. Maybe the last
two nights were just coincidences. Maybe I was just being
paranoid. After all, what could he want from me?
I kept looking behind me. I didn’t see him. I was alone,
walking the deserted streets towards my house. For the first
time in days, I felt myself relax.
I went inside my house and locked the door behind me. I
felt relieved. No one was stalking me. I had nothing to worry
But just as if it had become a habit, I couldn’t resist
peeking through the window, just to check. My heart
dropped to my toes, I forgot to breathe and all the hairs in
my body rose to attention when I saw the familiar hooded
guy walking on the sidewalk. He turned to look at my house,
slowed his pace down for a little bit… and then jogged away.
I leaned against the wall and took a couple of deep
breaths, trying to calm my hammering pulse.
When I wrote to my diary that night, I told Hunter how
scared I was because I suspected that the boy was stalking
me. I told him it could be Chaise, the same guy who stole a
kiss from me.
It took me a moment to realize that I was rambling in
what I was writing. But I thought that if something
happened to me, Meredith would find my diary and read it.
So, I had to make sure I leave enough clues about my
suspicions. If it wasn’t Chaise, he’d be able to prove his
I paused from writing. Maybe I was just being paranoid.
Yes, I’m crazy for thinking that Chaise Anderson was
I sighed and looked at the diary before me. Maybe I was
even crazier for thinking that Hunter would get to read this
I touched his necklace. He said he loved me. But why
hasn’t he come back for me yet?
Is there still hope for Hunter and me?
The next day was the same as any other day. The
corridors still went abuzz about me when I walked to my
locker, girls still slipped in snide remarks intended to insult
me when I walked past them during lunchtime. Denise and I
still sat at the far corner looking like a bunch of outcasts.
“Chaise didn’t go to school today,” Denise said.
I gave her a weird look and then a teasing grin. “Okay…
that’s bordering obsession.”
“No, silly!” She giggled. “I kinda miss watching him
watch you. It’s really entertaining.”
I rolled my eyes. “For the last time, Denise, he’s not
interested in me. If he is… then it would be for scary
reasons.” I almost shivered at the thought of the boy, who I
suspected was following me every night. He had the same
height and built as Chaise. If he was Chaise… then I should
really be scared of his intentions… especially since I bruised
That night, I closed up quite late again. I wouldn’t
usually mind the last minute shoppers. They were good for
business. But then they were making my walk home a little bit more dangerous. By nine in the evening the streets to
my house would still be well-populated. In other words, safe.
However, past ten, it was almost deserted, to the point that
you should actually beware of the people who walked
around you… especially those that regularly followed you,
pretending to keep their distance, waiting for the right
moment to attack.
I looked around the streets before I started my journey.
No one was around. A car or two passed by, but I didn’t see
the hooded boy lurking in the shadows.
I walked two blocks in safety. However, when I turned
the corner, I saw two guys leaning by the light post. They
were wearing shabby clothes and it looked like they were
smoking pot. My heart pounded in my chest. There was no
way to avoid them, unless I turned around and walked back.
They were blocking the sidewalk. I calmly stepped out of
their way and walked past them, not making a sound, not
even breathing, praying that they wouldn’t notice me.
I managed to walk two or three steps away when I heard
somebody ask, “What’s a pretty miss doing here at this time
of the night?”
I heard their footsteps behind me. I increased my pace,
trying to keep my cool, quietly reaching out for my pepper
“Hey! We’re talking to you!” I felt somebody grab my
arm and pull me back.
“Please!” I managed to say. “I’m just passing through. I
need to get home.”
I saw their faces. They looked older than me and they
stank of pot.
“Come on. Sure you can spare a few hours of fun.”
I shook my head. “Sorry. I have to go.”
I yanked my arm away and tried to escape. But soon the
other guy grabbed my arm again.
“Not too fast!” he said. They both blocked my way and
stared at my face.
“Wow! This one’s a looker,” one guy said.
“Aren’t we lucky?” the other guy grinned maliciously.
“Please! I don’t want trouble,” I pleaded. “I need to get
home. Let me go.”
“Why would we do that? Seeing as you are hot and…
alone,” the guy said, stepping closer to me and pulling me
I reacted on instinct. I raised my hand, the one holding a
pepper spray, and started spraying on his face. He released
me, giving me time to push him away, finding that little
space I needed to escape.
I prayed to God that I would make it home in one piece.
I prayed that they weren’t runners. For the second time in
my life, I wished I had a guardian angel who will protect me
and save me from a certain doom.
“You, bitch!” I heard one of the guys shout. “You will pay
I heard their footsteps as they ran after me.
Unfortunately, their strides were longer than mine, and they
were able to close the distance on me within seconds. I felt
somebody grab my jacket and then my arms.
“Help!” I shouted as loud as I could. I struggled to get
away from them, but there were two of them and one of me.
And they were a lot stronger and taller. I flung my arms in
every direction, tried to spray on them again, but one of
them got hold of my hand and the pepper spray. My only
defense now was to shout.
“Help!” I didn’t give up shouting. They pulled me to
them, getting hold of my arms. I sat on the ground, making
it a little difficult to pull me.
Suddenly, I saw a blinding light, and then I heard a
screeching of tires. A car stopped by near us.
“Help!” I shouted once again.
One of my attackers was pulled behind by a strong
force, and the next thing I saw was his body falling to the ground. As he struggled to stand back up, the other guy
released me and went for their attacker.
I was free. That’s when I saw the guy who came to my
aid. He had his back on me. His head was hidden under a
gray hood. But I couldn’t have mistaken it. I know it was
him. That boy who followed me. The one I called my stalker.
He was driving a black Porsche this time. He fought off my
attackers almost effortlessly.
I turned to grab my bag and started to run. I heard a
sharp scratching sound. I stopped to look behind me and
saw that one of the guys was down on the ground now. But
the other one had a knife with him and he purposefully
scratched the hood of the car of my rescuer.
“Fuck!” I heard somebody curse. It could be my rescuer
when he saw what the guy did to his Porsche. Panic was still
gripping my senses. I did the only sensible thing I could
think of at that moment. I ran.
I ran without turning back. I ran without checking if the
boy who helped me made it through the fight scathe-free. I
didn’t even stop until he finished the fight, so I could thank
him. I was so scared. I didn’t have time to think logically. I
only did what I thought would save my life… or my virtue, or
Only when I was safely inside my house did I realize that
I hadn’t been breathing properly. I double-locked the doors.
Then I turned on the lights and checked if all the windows
were also locked. When I peeked through the front window, I
saw a black Porsche pass by. It slowed down in front of my
house and then it sped off.
I breathed in relief knowing that he made it out of the
fight alive and well enough to drive away.
I lay on the couch and hugged myself. I was thankful
that Meredith still wasn’t home. If she knew about this, she
would panic, or worse blame herself.
I allowed myself a moment of weakness. As I wrapped
my arms around myself, I let all the tears out.
When the tears subsided, I replayed the moments in my
head again. I remembered the first night I saw that car. I
walked past it, and I knew the engine was on and somebody
was inside. Then as I walked the streets, that car was there
until I safely got home. Then the following days, the hooded
boy was following me, keeping his distance, but now… I
couldn’t help thinking that he was watching me… making
sure I would get home safely, knowing I would be walking
the streets alone.
I’m sure it was him. Same height, same built… same
black Porsche he drove to school.
He was protecting me even though I made it clear that I
didn’t want him, didn’t need him. Even though I believed I
didn’t need somebody to protect me or come to my rescue
when I meet danger face to face.
Tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized that I owed him
more than an apology for treating him the way I did. Now, I
owed him my life. And I would always be thankful that he
was there… he protected me… he saved me… he risked his
own life for mine.
I felt both guilty and grateful that he had been there for
me this night and every night before. I underestimated the
danger around me. I thought nothing worse could happen to
me after that night I lost my parents. I thought I didn’t need
a protector. But God knew I did! And even though I didn’t
know it, I realized that I did have a guardian angel after all.
And because of him, I’m still alive… whole… scathe-free and
The next day in school, I was pretty quiet. Denise was
rambling about not being able to get a good night’s sleep
because of some chaos in her house. Something about her
father and some relative staying over. I wasn’t listening to her. I was still pretty shaken up about what happened to me
the night before.
I wanted to tell her. But I didn’t have the courage. And I
didn’t want to burden her or scare her. But I wanted to talk
to somebody… somebody who would understand what I
I was on the lookout for Chaise all day. I sure hope he
was alright. I hope he didn’t sustain any injury at all.
I was sitting under a tree with Denise. Our last period
was literature. Our teacher wanted us to write an essay. He
thought it would inspire us to be outdoors.
I worked on my essay fast. Writing was effortless for me.
I practiced every day writing to Hunter. I took my diary with
me to school today and decided to write on it again. I told
him everything… from the way the guys attacked me, and
how that boy from school came to my rescue.
I knew Hunter would want to know every little detail
about this event. And even if he didn’t get to read it at all, I
wanted to remember everything that happened so I could
read about it in the future, and know that during the times
my life was an utter misfortune, God always sent a guardian
angel my way.
I heard Denise cough beside me. She nudged my arm
with her elbow. I turned to her. With her head, she motioned
for me to look up.
I looked over at my left side and saw a guy looking down
at me. I shut my diary and hid it in my bag. Then I stood up
and faced Chaise. He was wearing a gray hooded jacket
again, much like the one he wore the night before.
He looked down at me quizzically through narrowed
eyes, as if he was studying my expression, searching my
face for answers to questions he didn’t even ask.
Finally, his expression softened. “Are… are you okay?”
he asked in the gentlest tone he could manage.
Immediately, we both knew we were talking about the
same thing. I felt my knees tremble and the brave façade I wore all day began to crumble.
I nodded. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Chaise reached
up and wiped them with his fingers.
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “You’re safe now.”
I tried to laugh in spite of my tears. I was so thankful to
him for saving me… protecting me. And I knew I would
never be able to repay him for what he had done, so
instead, I leaned forward and hugged him. I buried my face
against the lean muscles of his chest. I felt him enclose me
in his arms.
“Thank you,” I said in between my tears. “Thank you. If
you weren’t there… I don’t know what would have
happened to me. Thank you for saving me.”
It took him a whole minute to answer. He took a deep
breath and he whispered against my ear. “You’re welcome,”
he said in a weak voice. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”
I nodded against his chest. “Because you were there to
save me, nothing happened to me.” I pulled away from him.
He stared down at me and looked like he was reading
my thoughts… trying to decipher the words I couldn’t say
out loud. And then he smiled. “I told you. I’m not such a bad
guy, if you only gave me a chance.”
I smiled at him. “Thank you.”
“So does this mean you’ll be nicer to me from now on?”
he asked, grinning.
I gave him a short laugh. “I am not making promises.
But I sure will try.”
He nodded. “Well, maybe that’s good enough for now.”
I stared up his handsome face and his genuine smile. If
in the previous days, he looked gloomy, now, the
playfulness returned to his face. Maybe Denise was right.
Maybe he really only had good intentions for me.
I stepped away from him and I realized that almost half
of the kids around us had stopped whatever they were
doing to watch us. A blush crept to my face, as I remembered that I hugged Chaise and he hugged me
back… in front of all these people.
I took another step back again and nodded at Chaise.
“I’ll see you around.”
Chaise raised a brow at me. “What? I thought we’re
I nodded. “We are. We’re okay enough for me not to…
be mean to you anymore.”
He shook his head. “Oh no. I just risked my pretty face
to save you, princess. You at least owe me a date this time.”
My eyes widened in disbelief.
A date? Is he serious?
I shook my head. “I’m grateful. And I probably will owe
you for the rest of my life. But I’m not for sale, not even in
exchange for my life.”
He frowned but then he nodded slightly. “Would you at
least consider a friendly date? No pressure. You can even
bring your friend if you want.”
I looked at him skeptically. First, he helped me out with
my job. Then he stole a kiss from me. Then he stalked me
and scared me half to death. And then… he saved me from
sure tragedy and maybe even a possibility of death. And
now, he wanted to go on a date with me.
“What do you want from me, Chaise?”
He shrugged and smiled at me sheepishly. “You really
have no idea, rock princess?”
I shook my head.
Instead of answering, he said, “Okay. Friends.” Then he
smiled and added, “Now, can I get your phone number?”
He shrugged. “Friends call each other, you know. And
you said I could be your friend.”
He got me there. Reluctantly, I gave him my number. He
fished his phone and pressed the buttons on it. After a few
seconds, my phone beeped. Chaise grinned at me and then
he turned to leave.
I sat beside Denise again. She was giving me a weird
look. So were the other kids around us. Some girls were
even glaring at me, including Candy and Chelsea, who were
sitting on a bench nearby.
“Okay, care to tell me what that was about?” Denise
asked. I could see the excitement on her face.
“Don’t get your hopes up. You heard what I said. We
could be friends. Nothing more.”
“Okay. But why? Why the change of heart? You said you
don’t want anything to do with him.”
I nodded. “I did. But that was after…” I sighed.
I guess I really have to tell Denise even a little about
“Well… I owe him. Last night, I sort of ran into some
weirdoes. He… happened to be in the area…” Stalking me
maybe, I added in my head. “And he sort of saved me from
Her eyes widened. “Allison Elise Harley! That’s serious!
You realize that you will walk those streets home almost
every day until you quit your job, right?”
I sighed. “I know. I was hoping that was a one-off deal.” I
wasn’t hoping. I was desperately begging God to make last
night the last scare of my life.
“And you’re still showing up to work tonight?”
I nodded. “I need this job, Denise.”
“But how are you going to get home… safely?!”
I shrugged and then I flipped my phone open
remembering Chaise’s unread message.
Chaise: Pick you up after work tonight… friend. 😉
Relief washed over me. I guess I will be safe for one
🕊WINGLESS AND BEAUTIFUL🕊
The minute I locked Alibri’s door that night, I saw Chaise
standing in front of his pickup. He usually drove his Porsche
to school, but I didn’t really have to ask what happened to
that car. He must have sent it to the garage. I could only
imagine the sharp dent my attacker left on it with his army
We didn’t speak on the way home, like I didn’t know
what to say to him. When he stopped in front of my house, I
thanked him and he smiled at me. He didn’t leave until he
was sure I was safely inside.
The next day, he sat with me and Denise in the
cafeteria. Denise looked at him as if he grew an extra head.
“Seriously, leave so we can talk about you,” Denise said
I glared at her.
Chaise turned to me with a smug smile. “So… you talk
about me?” he asked.
“No!” I replied a little too defensively. That was true.
Denise talked about him. I was an unwilling participant in
“Like, really? Why are you here?” Denise asked him.
He shrugged. “Alice is my friend too, Miss…” he trailed
off. “What’s your name again?”
Denise glared at him.
“Anyway…” Chaise continued. “I want to sit and have
lunch with my friend. Even if it included other less nice
people within her circle.”
Denise was about to retort back with something but I
stopped her. “Guys! Do you want me to leave? You can do this all day by yourselves. I think you got it covered. You
don’t need me here.”
They stopped talking at once. We ate in silence for the
first five minutes. Then Chaise asked, “How’s your Lit paper
“Practically writing itself,” I replied.
Denise groaned. “I haven’t even started mine.”
Our teacher asked us to write a review of the bestsellers
tackling the controversies in religion. I already picked out
The Da Vinci Code. I have read that book about a thousand
times. Chaise and Denise both said they were lost. They
hadn’t even chosen a book to review yet.
“Why don’t I go to the bookshop with you today?” he
asked me. “I can read there while you work and do your
That did sound like a good idea. I had a feeling he would
insist on picking me up again anyway.
So why don’t I do him a favor and help him write his
“Can I come too? I still don’t know what to write about,”
I smiled at her excitedly. “That would be a great idea!”
“It was a great idea until five seconds ago,” Chaise
“I heard that,” Denise said glaring at him. She turned to
me. “I’m okay to go, right?”
“No,” Chaise said.
“Says who?” Denise asked.
“Says the nephew of the owner of the bookshop,”
Chaise replied evenly.
“She’s okay to go,” I said. I turned to Chaise. “Says the
night manager of the bookshop.”
“Fine,” Chaise said in defeat.
Denise smiled triumphantly. Then she gathered her tray.
“I have to go to my next class early. I haven’t done my homework yet.”
“Last minute?” I asked her in disbelief.
“Yeah,” she replied. “I couldn’t concentrate in the
house. My menace of a cousin brought some trouble home
again. But nothing interesting. I’ll catch you later.”
I turned back to Chaise. “Mr. Anderson… you promised
you will be my friend. And that means you should befriend
whoever I am friends with.”
“Seriously? Her?” he asked.
I raised a brow at him. He sighed. “Fine. I thought I could
get some alone time with you, so you could get to know
I bit my lower lip. “Chaise…” I started. “Why are you
doing this? I mean… look around you. Plenty of girls are
glaring at me right now because you’re sitting here having
lunch with me. You can have your pick. Why are you
insisting on my company?”
He shrugged. “Is it not obvious?” he asked.
“I’m… naïve. Stupid even,” I replied dryly.
He smiled at me sheepishly. “I… like you.”
I stared at him like he lost his mind. “Have you… seen
me? My scars? And how horrible they looked?”
“I’m naïve. Blind even,” he said with a grin. “You look
The familiarity of his words struck me like a thief in the
night. My hand involuntarily went to my pendant and I
clutched it tightly in my hand.
I see you… and you… look unbelievably beautiful to me.
I looked down on my tray, tried my best not to let the
tears well up my eyes.
Chaise reached forward and tilted my chin up. I pulled
away from his touch.
“Did I say something wrong?” he asked.
I shook my head and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” I
said, keeping my voice steady. “But seriously, Chaise…don’t get your hopes up. I am not looking for a boyfriend.
But I mean it… I would like you to be my friend.”
He stared at me, trying to read my thoughts and then
he nodded. “Okay. No pressure. I will be your friend. But
don’t question me every time I call you or want to hang out
with you. Or if I want to pick you up at nights from work, so I
can make sure you’re home safely. Friends do that, you
I smiled at him. As long as he was okay with being
friends, that would be fine. Because the thought of going
out with him on a real date actually made me feel like
something was wrong… like I was cheating.
That evening at the bookshop, I worked on my novel
while Chaise and Denise raided the shelves for a book they
could read. For the first time in many months, I felt relaxed,
and happy. For the first time since Hunter left, I didn’t feel
alone. I could smile for real. Even the constant bickering of
Denise and Chaise made me laugh genuinely.
I may be an orphan, I may be poor and scarred and my
quasi-boyfriend may never come back, but I guess for now…
I could live one day at a time… with Meredith, who patiently
loved me all these years… with Denise, who gave up a
glamorous high school life to be my friend… and now with
Chaise, who may have wanted more from me, but was
willing to accept my friendship instead.
Instead of working on my essay, I took my diary from
I would give anything just so you would be with me…
here… tonight. In the company of my friends. You will like
them. Well… maybe not Chaise so much.
You see… Chaise was the guy who saved me the other
night. He had been following me home… making sure I was
safe each night after I go to work. Then when my luck ran
out, he was there to rescue me… like a guardian angel God sent to make sure I won’t have new nightmares to escape
He told me he liked me. But hey! Look up! I already told
him we could only be friends. I still can’t date anybody.
I sort of told this perfect guy I would wait for him. And
I’m still waiting. I still believe that one day… I would see him
again… touch him… kiss him… hear him say the words he
should have said to me before he left… so I could say them
back to him.
Come back to me, Hunter. It’s still you. It will always be
I finished my letter just as Denise went up to the
counter. I immediately closed it and hid it from her view. But
too late, she already saw it.
“Writing in your diary again?” she asked.
I just shrugged. “Just documenting my life.”
“Take care of that. Somebody might get hold of it and
take it to a Hollywood producer. Your life… is epic.” She
smiled at me. And I know she didn’t mean that in a bad way.
“So have you chosen your book?”
She nodded. “Chaise is battling me for it, though.”
“Toss a coin.” I grinned at her.
“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “He can choose the same.
I’m sure I would write a better review than him anyway.”
I closed up at ten. We all headed to Chaise’s pickup.
“Where’s your Porsche?” Denise asked as she slipped
into the backseat.
“Ahh… garage,” Chaise replied. His voice told me he
didn’t want to talk about it. And I knew why. I didn’t want to
talk about that night too.
I smiled at him, my eyes telling him how thankful I was
for the sacrifice he made.
“I’m starving,” Chaise said. “Can we all grab a bite
before we go?”
“Best thing you ever said all night,” Denise agreed.
We went to Burger Inn. As the waitress served our
orders, I thought about the times I spent in this place being
made fun of by the kids at school. I could say that it was
only a couple of weeks since the day Don Winston poured
ketchup all over me, but my life was undeniably better now.
I not only had a better job, I also gained a new friend.
We dropped Denise off her house. It was the first time I
saw where she lived.
Damn! She was rich!
Her house was at least three floors high with a huge
garden in front.
“Goodnight, guys,” she said chirpily. Then she turned to
Chaise. “If you ever lay a finger on her, I swear I will call a
hit on you and your body will be found lifeless in the
“I might do that just to call your bluff, you know,” Chaise
said in a challenging tone.
“If I’m bluffing, that is,” she said. Then she turned to
me. “Call me as soon as you’re home.”
Chaise and I drove in silence for a couple of minutes.
Then he asked, “You okay?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Thank you for doing driver duties.”
“Don’t mention it,” he replied.
“I never asked you where you came from before you
Chaise told me that he was born and raised in Germany.
His father took a job in town, thus they all had to relocate.
“I didn’t know if I was going to fit in,” he said. “I told my
mother I’ll give it a year. If I don’t like it, I’ll go back to
Germany. How about you? Any college plans?”
I nodded. “I was hoping to get a scholarship in a
“Why do you have to work after school, if you don’t
mind me asking?”
“I don’t have parents who would work for me,” I replied
“Who do you stay with?”
“My aunt,” I replied. “But I can’t really make her work
for everything. She has her own life too. Like me… she was
also forced into this… setup.”
He fell silent for a moment. “I’m sorry. I heard about
what happened to you.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m sure the kids in school didn’t
waste time before filling you in with the gory details of my
“I’m glad they did, though.”
I stared at him and raised a brow.
“Well… when I first saw you, I thought you were pretty.
And you have this mystery that envelops you. Kids may
make fun of you or insult you every minute they get, but I
saw how you never let that bother you. You looked tough
and I admired your spirit. I heard about what happened to
you and I thought I’ve never known anyone stronger than
you are.” He paused for a while and then he added, “One
day, I went to Strung with my uncle to pick up a gift for my
sister. I saw you there. You were playing the guitar like a
rock star and you sang too. I thought… damn! What a girl!”
“That was why you were calling me ‘Rock Princess’?” I
asked. “You heard me play before?”
He nodded. “I liked you from that day. And I like you
even more whenever I see you stand up for yourself and
never let the kids at school get to you.”
“People at school can be so mean sometimes. They
make me their target because they know I could not
retaliate. Or I would not have the means to fight back.”
“The guys were just jerks,” he said. “The girls were just
“Jealous?” I echoed.
He stared at me for a moment. “I’m not the only one
charmed by you, you know.”
That struck me as a joke, I actually laughed.
Chaise shook his head. “Your scars are not that bad,
Alice. When boys talk about you in the locker rooms, they
don’t mention your scars at all. And this is inside
information. Believe me.”
“Even if I believe you… I don’t care, Chaise,” I said. “I
just want to be out of this place. Go to a university in a city
where no one has read the headlines about me.”
“You have less than a year left, and it will all turn
positive for you.” He smiled at me reassuringly.
“I hope you’re right.”
Chaise dropped me off in front of my house. I got down
from the car and waved goodbye to him.
“Thanks for the lift,” I said.
“I’ll be doing the same tomorrow.”
I shook my head. “Nope. Tomorrow, I get off at six. It’s a
“Then I’ll pick you up at five-fifty-nine,” he said, flashing
me a charming smile.
“Okay, whatever gives you the kick.” I laughed.
A week later on a Monday, I walked the corridors to my
locker. I felt like something was different. I didn’t feel like
anybody’s attention was on me at all. Like something else
captured their fancy and I was old news. I was able to put a
smile on my face for a change. I felt invisible.
When I reached my locker, I saw Denise. She had a
frown on her face.
“What’s wrong with you today?” I asked her.
“Everything!” she said in a frustrated tone.
“Okay, can you at least name one?”
She sighed. “My cousin.”
Over the last few months, she kept mentioning about a
troublesome cousin, but she never really wanted to discuss it. Now, I wonder what happened that gave her a foul mood
on my first good Monday morning.
I felt an arm around my shoulder and I didn’t have to
guess who it belonged to.
“Good morning, ladies,” Chaise greeted us in his usual
cheerful attitude. For almost two weeks now, the three of us
looked like a threesome. Wherever Denise and I were,
Chaise would follow. He never missed an opportunity to try
to charm me. But nothing had changed. I still liked him as a
friend and I told him that every day. But I had ~grown
comfortable with him. I had started trusting him. I found
that we operated on the same wavelength most of the time.
He could make me laugh and I realized nobody dared insult
me when he was around. If somebod~ y did, he would not
hesitate to scowl at them and his murderous stares alone
were enough to send anyone running the opposite direction.
Some kids in our school regarded him as some sort of
royalty. “How are my girls today?” he asked both of us.
“I’m happy,” I said smiling up at him. “For the first time
in what seemed like years, I’m not the talk of the town. I’m
a fly on the wall. Nobody cares about me. And that’s the
way I want it.”
Chaise and I both stared at Denise. She sighed and said,
“Yeah. That’s because there’s a new talk of the town.”
I raised a brow at her.
“My cousin decided to live among the lesser mortals
again,” she said.
I stared at her blankly. Chaise also didn’t look like he
knew what Denise was talking about.
“If gods live among us, he would be one of them. And he
knows it. Unfortunately, so do my parents and everyone
else around me.”
“Sorry, sweetheart,” Chaise said. “We still don’t get
Denise sighed. “Prepare to be dethroned, Chaise
Anderson. Somebody just checked in to the campus who’s a bigger king than you are.”
Chaise rolled his eyes. “As if I care,” he said. Then he
turned to me. “As long as I’m the king in your world, I don’t
I faked a cough. “Nothing’s changed, Anderson,” I said
“Better luck next time.” I laughed and took Denise’s arm.
“Come, we’ll be late for our class. I’m feeling positive today.
Remind me to thank your cousin later.”
All throughout the day I had been hearing about a new
guy’s arrival in our school. Apparently, he was swoon-
worthy, mysterious, snob, really rich and totally hot.
I didn’t understand why Denise wasn’t happy or proud
about that. I never had any cousins. I’d always wanted one.
I wondered why she thought he was a curse to her.
Denise was nowhere to be found during lunch, so I
shared our table only with Chaise.
He sat on the chair beside me. We were both facing the
window, our backs facing the rest of Leighton High’s
population. I preferred it that way. I didn’t want to see any of
my schoolmate’s face when I ate.
I ate my lunch in silence. I didn’t mind Chaise beside
me. His arm was slung at the back of my seat. He was
comfortable to be with and he learned how to sync with me.
He knew there were times that I enjoyed my thoughts to
“Freaking hooootttt!” some girl behind us said. The
other girls with her agreed and they all sounded like they
Yep. High school drama. Soap opera every day!
Chaise rolled his eyes.
“I don’t think they were talking about you, you know,” I
He chuckled. “I know. It’s the new guy.”
“I hope your ego’s not hurt, though.” I hadn’t seen
Denise’s cousin yet. But I’d been hearing a lot about him.
Many of the girls who had seen him already fancied
themselves in love with him.
Chaise put an arm around my shoulders again and gave
me a gentle squeeze. “Of course not! The prettiest girl in
school is still sitting here beside me. He should actually be
jealous of me.”
I gave him a gentle push. I know he was teasing. But
words like that actually helped build a little confidence in
me. For a few seconds, even with my scars, I didn’t feel like
there was something horrendous about me at all.
Before I went to class, I decided to make a stop by my
locker. I was hoping to see Denise and ask why she wasn’t
able to join us for lunch. Chaise decided not to walk me to
class today, which was fine by me. I was positive no one
would harass me along the way. Even if somebody did… I’d
perfected the skill of ignoring them. This was high school. I
was just passing through.
But apparently, some people just couldn’t resist. I know
these kids hated me and they liked to make fun of me. And
seeing me unprotected by either Chaise or Denise was just
too good for them to resist.
As I walked down the hall, a few meters from my locker,
somebody deliberately put their leg on the way, causing me
to trip. Sometimes, I forget that I was clumsy.
Shit! I knew I was going to fall face first on the floor. I
braced myself for the pain that would follow. But just as I
was about to lose my balance, I felt something wrap around
me, catching me, preventing my fall.
I caught a whiff of sweet, masculine perfume as strong
arms held me tightly, securing my balance. The hall seemed
to have frozen, and I was sure that all eyes were on me and
the person who caught me.
The first thing I saw was a red jacket on broad
shoulders. It was a guy who caught me. He kept his arms
around me, and they felt so warm… so safe… and in a weird
way… so familiar.
I dared myself to look up his face and what I saw made
my heart stop beating at once. My breath caught in my
throat and I fought the urge to faint right then and there.
He was looking down at me with those beautiful blue
eyes that felt like they could see through my soul.
An eternity seemed to have passed us by. Everything
stopped moving. I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t see
anything. Only his handsome face.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I couldn’t find the courage to speak. I fought the tears
that threatened to well up in my eyes.
He settled me on my feet. The moment he released me
and stepped away from me, I was taken back to reality. I
stared at his familiar face, which now has a frown on it.
Somehow, something was wrong. He looked… annoyed. At
I stared back at him with a confused expression on my
“Take it easy, okay?” he said in a cold voice. And with
that, he walked away, stealing a sideway glance at the girl
who tripped me deliberately.
I didn’t understand what just happened. He looked right
at me, but somehow, I felt like he looked right through me. I
stared at his back as he walked down the halls, oblivious of
the sighs of the girls around him, careless of the way they
were staring at him with hopeful eyes. He was walking a
perfect straight line with absolute precision and confidence.
No… Hunter Vaughn was not blind anymore. But
somehow… he made feel like he could not see me at all.