I mean I'm so in love with it myself that I wished I had written a bit more! But I was tired [I took 7 days to write like 51 pages; on top of school and everything!] I consider it one of my best writing so far. Yes; I have surpassed myself this time.
Anyway, I hope that the readers like it and that I get enough votes for the contest. But for most parts, I am very happy to have shared that story with others. So I'm going to share it here as well:
APPLE OF MY EYE
Her feet were moving but she was lifeless. Every step marked a foot closer to her end. She tried not to think about what she was about to do. Thinking about it would make her doubt herself won’t it? Besides, it might even be painless…
With a sigh, she dumped her bag on the grass and took a breath of the sea. The slight tang of salt invaded her nose and the chill prickled her skin but she refused to give in to her shudder for warmth.
“This is it,” she whispered to herself as she shuffled her feet closer to the edge of the cliff. She dared herself to take a peek down below and sucked in a deep breath when she saw the great waves crashing against sharp rocks.
“I’m going to do it! You hear me, you son of a bitch?!” she shouted into the open space although she knew she was alone. Still, it roused her with something like Dutch courage, to jump.
She stood there, shivering just a little and counted slowly to ten; promising herself that she would jump on the last count.
One. She took a deep breath and prolonged it…
Two. She closed her eyes and pictured herself about to fall on soft pillows…
Three. What the hell was she thinking?
Four. What the hell was he thinking? The guy was married for godsake!
Five. Oh god, oh god…
Six. Breathe in… and out…
Seven… What’s that?
Her eyes flared open suddenly at the sound of a low growl behind her. Someone… no, something was behind her.
“Great! Trust me to screw up my own death!” she murmured. Obviously when she picked a secluded spot, she hadn’t considered there’d be wild animals around. But would death by being ravaged by a wild beast be a possible option? “Fuck that,” she hissed and turned slowly around to come face to face with a giant, teeth-baring gray wolf.
She froze for a moment, feeling all the blood drain from her face. She tried to back away, slowly; step by step and…
“Aaa!!! Oh my god! Oh my god! Help me! Help me!” she shrieked, holding on to the edge of the cliff. “I don’t want to die… oh god, I don’t want to die!” She could feel her grip slipping; she could not hold on any longer…
The last thing she saw was a bronzed hand reaching out for her before all became dark and quiet…
When she opened her eyes, she was staring at a white ceiling. A surge of panic went through her body as she sat upright to inspect her surroundings.
Is this heaven? She thought to herself. Surely not… Heaven surely did not smell like salty breeze.
“Oh fuck!” Now she remembered. “Shit, I have to get out of here!”
She pulled the blankets away from her and found herself naked.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me!” she snapped as she got up to search for her clothes. She was so bent on looking for them that she didn’t notice the door open.
“Can I help you with whatever it is you’re looking for?” She felt herself stiffen at the sound of the gentle deep voice of a man. Her hand quickly snatched the blanket to cover herself before she turned to look at the man.
“Stay back and don’t look at me you pervert! Where am I? What have you done to me?” she demanded, backing away towards the wall.
“Oh please… I’m not going to look at you. If you’re looking for your clothes, they got ripped and soiled as I was pulling you up from that cliff. Now, why don’t you sit down and have a spot of tea while I fetch you a robe?” The man smiled as he placed a tray carefully on the table near the door.
She narrowed her eyes at him. He was a suspicious character. Who wears sunglasses in their own home? Still, she was wary and did not move from her spot until he returned into the room.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
“Ah mademoiselle, the question is who are you?” he replied with a smile as his hands touched the wall. She was about to retort when she saw that he was trying to find something with his hands.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to find the chair. It used to be here beside this table.”
“Its right there!” she snapped with irritation and pointed to the chair on the opposite side of the table. “What are you blind?”
“Touché,” he replied with a laugh. “My name is Wade. And you are?”
She didn’t reply him but inched closer to him and waved her hand in front of his shaded eyes.
“I can still feel the wind vibrations from your hands and the heat from your body, you know,” he replied, causing her to jump a step back.
“Oh my god… you’re really blind. I’m sorry. I was just… ah fuck that. My name’s Amara,” she said stiffly.
“Miss Amara, I assure you that I am not a pervert and to honour my word, you may take this robe to make yourself decent,” he said, passing her a white robe before he got up and turned away from her.
Even though she knew he was blind, she couldn’t help giving him side glances now and then as she slipped into the robe. To her surprise, the robe was soft and she saw on the label that it was made of cashmere. How the hell could a common man afford such expensive materials? Amara looked around her. The house was cozy and lived in and the room had decent amenities but it was definitely not a rich man’s house. Narrowing her suspicious eyes, she straightened up and gave a cough.
“Well then, I will see if I can get you something to wear then you can be on your way. Your bag and your soiled clothes should be by the bed. I’m sure you’d rather be anywhere else but here.”
“I have some clothes in my bag… Please don’t bother too much. I’ll be out of your house in awhile. I just need to calm myself down,” she said with a sigh. “I… Thank you for saving me. I… I really don’t wish to intrude on you like this… but thank you.”
“It is nothing really…”
Amara kept her eyes downcast for a moment before raising them to look at his face. He was handsome and did not look older than 35 years old. It was a pity that a man in his prime would be blind… and yet, still standing tall.
“Mr. Wade? Can I ask you something?” He smiled and nodded in the direction of her voice.
“Being blind… and living in this old, worn down place… must make you feel sad and pathetic at times right? But… but have you ever thought about ending your life to end the misery of living?”
He raised his eyebrows, clearly amused. This woman had no tact at all but he could sense a deep sadness about her so he shook his head and smiled.
“I guess, I’m always living with the hope that someday I might be able to see again. And that, my dear, is worth living for.”
The man called Wade gave one last small smile and walked towards the door, using his hands on the wall as a guide. He carefully closed the door and counted the steps towards the living room.
“Master Wade, is she better? Poor woman.”
“Abigail, thank you so much for letting her stay here. Your house is definitely closer than the main house and I couldn’t carry her too far.”
“Oh please, Sir. You should have called out to me sooner,” she fussed, adjusting the shirt he was wearing.
“You’re truly a gem, Abigail… Oh, and thank your husband for lending me his clothes. I wasn’t exactly hoping to shift back until I got home but well, circumstances change.”
Abigail gave a small laugh as she helped Wade to the door. He reached for his walking stick pressed against the wall and prepared himself for the walk back home.
“Oh, Abigail, the woman’s name is Amara and she’s under the impression that I live here so just oblige her for now. Say I’m your son or nephew or something.”
“What? You, a servant boy?” she protested but Wade was walking away, fading into the dark even before she could finish what she wanted to say.
Amara leaned impatiently against the counter as she waited for the clerk to acknowledge her checkout from the hotel. She didn’t know what was taking so long but she needed to be on the move soon. If she haggled too long in one place, he might find her. Her brows knitted at the thought of her ex. That son of a bitch had hunted her down to every motel in New York that she went to; begging for forgiveness and swearing that she was making a mistake of leaving him. He’d sweet talk his way, convincing her that he was remorseful and that he had changed. Oh… that bastard has sugar coated all over his tongue alright. If she even gave him a second to talk to her, she’d lap up the lies and swallow down the truth. Fuck him!
Amara must have been scowling for the clerk gave a fearful look when she returned with her receipt. Amara snatched it as evidence of her annoyance and strode out of the dodgy hotel. She had learnt her lesson from her hideout-hopping back home: Use only cash for all transactions so that her locations cannot be traced, never stay in a place for more than two days, take public transport and most importantly, alternate, but irregularly, between higher end hotels and cheap, filthy, hooker-infested motels.
Even as her mind carefully planned her next destination, her senses were set on alert. Beneath her sunglasses, she scanned her surroundings as discreetly as she could. It was shy of nine in the morning but the sun was still not fully out yet. It would be easy for anyone to lurk in the shadows unnoticed.
Keeping her hat tilted down, she walked fast towards the nearest London Underground station. Although she had been in London for less than a week, Amara had meticulously studied the Tube map and learnt all there was to know about the city’s public transport system. She had gotten herself an Oyster card for easy travel; just tap and go. It was best to fit in and meld into the crowd instead of acting like a tourist, buying tickets ever so often and wanting to see the sights and sounds.
“There would be another time for that,” she sighed to herself as she walked towards the gates of the station. As she was about to tap her card on the fare reader, she heard a soft whisper of her name.
Amara’s hands jerked suddenly to stop herself from tapping her card. Swinging herself around, she tried to recognize the faces around her.
“Come on lady!” snapped the man behind her. Amara’s eyes immediately flew to his and felt an ounce of relief when she didn’t recognize him. She tried to shake off the incident and got onboard the first train heading towards King’s Cross.
The train was slightly crowded so Amara had to lean against the clear panels near the doors as there were no seats left. As she heaved her bag pack from her shoulders to the floor, she heard that voice again.
This time, she didn’t hesitate to turn and found herself face to face with the man from her nightmares; Jason Merrick.
“Hello Mara. Miss me?” he sniggered and traced a finger against her cheek. “I didn’t think you would be so cruel as to leave me behind in New York.”
“What are you doing here Merrick? I told you that we’re over!” she snarled between gritted teeth. Amara was cursing herself at the moment for choosing to stand on the side of the tube where the doors did not open. It meant that she’d be boxed in by the crowd and stuck with her nemesis whether she liked it or not.
“I’m hurt by those harsh words Mara… I really am. We needn’t be so formal with each other. Besides, you know why I’m here. Please listen to me Mara. You have to! I’ve divorced her, really I have! I knew the moment you left that it was you whom I wanted to be with, not that pompous bitch. Please believe me Mara… I wouldn’t follow you like this if I’m not desperate to let you know the truth.”
Amara tried to tune herself out from his voice. She didn’t want to hear it; wouldn’t… couldn’t. He was doing it again, trying to trick her into believing him.
“You’re lying, you’re lying,” she whispered to herself over and over again, clamping her eyes shut to pretend he was not inches away from her. Oh… but she could still smell him; sandalwood from his cologne, the hint of mint ointment that he liked to use on his hands and that overpowering musky scent of sex that just seems to radiate from him. It was impossible to simply not breathe even if she could block out her other senses from him.
As the train made a sharp turn, Amara felt Jason leaning closer to her. It took all of her self control to stay alert for she knew that King’s Cross was the next station and she needed to get ready to flee once the doors opened.
“Jason, I’m sorry,” she whispered as she pressed her lips onto his. His eyes widened slightly in shock before they softened and closed. It wasn’t a gesture of relief but a way of expressing the unsaid ‘I win’. She could feel his arrogant smirk on his lips and it was then that she kneed him hard on his groin and dashed away towards the doors.
She managed a backward glance and saw that he was writhing in pain, much to her delight.
“Urgh. Disgusting,” she muttered as she tried to wipe her lips vigorously at her coat sleeve. She was about to cross over to another train line when she decided to ditch the plan and exit the London Underground to reach for a cab. She didn’t want to risk being caught again if she stayed waiting for another train.
The moment she got into a taxi, she just told the driver to drive on while she thought of her destination. She had planned to take the tube all the way to Morden but Jason might be waiting for her there so she had to scrape that plan. After a long while, she rattled off an address from the piece of paper that the housekeeper, Abigail had given her.
She had a plan.
“I need to see Wade, now,” she demanded as the middle-aged woman appeared at the door.
“Oh, I’m sorry Miss Amara, but he’s not home at the moment… perhaps you’d like to come back another day?”
“No, you don’t understand. I have to see him now. It is important.”
Abigail looked at Amara with vague interest; one eyebrow raised as she inspected the woman before her. She was tall and not too skinny like the many girls that Abigail had seen around town. Her hair was dusted with gold streaks over brown and she wore it short with signs that it had been recently shorn off carelessly. Whoever this Yankee woman was, she definitely was trouble and Abigail wasn’t sure if she should oblige her request to see Wade.
“So, can I see him or not?” she asked impatiently, folding her arms across her chest. Abigail narrowed her eyes slightly then invited her in.
“I’ll get him. He’s in the vineyard. Sit here please.” With a huff, she left without looking back. Such a rude girl!
Eventually she found him smelling a bunch of grapes still on its vines. Abigail gave a sad sigh. Sometimes she wished he could see for himself, the beauty of the vineyard that he had started ten years ago.
“Why, hello Abigail? Is… something wrong?”
Abigail didn’t bother to ask how he knew she was behind him for he’d always tell her he could scent her out a mile away.
“In fact, yes Sir. That lady, Miss Amara or what’s her name is here looking for you. She says it’s important.”
Wade let go of the grapes he was holding and straightened his back.
“Do you know that if you pluck even one grape from the vine, the whole plant will die? Interesting isn’t it?” he continued walking down the path, as though he had not heard her. Abigail frowned and followed behind him.
“Did you not hear me Sir?” she asked impatiently.
“Oh, I heard you fine Abigail and I also know that you don’t want me to see her.” Wade gave a laugh before her turned to face her. A warm hand came up to her shoulder and gave it a pat. “Please bring her to me. That’d be all.” With a smile, he turned once more and continued walking down the path. As Abigail trudged away from him, he called out to her, “Don’t pout Abby. It’ll make you old faster.”
Abigail ignored him and broke into a trot towards Amara.
“He’s in the vineyard. He’d like to see you,” she said grimly.
Amara gave a nod and walked out of the house towards the direction Abigail was pointing to. When she finally made it over the steep uphill, she saw, to her amazement, the most beautiful plantation that she had ever seen. From her vantage point, she could scent out the full bursting ripeness and flavor of the fruit.
Amara squinted her eyes slightly to try and spot Wade. He was literally in the middle of the plantation, poking at the soil and doing whatever it was that gardeners were supposed to do. She jogged slightly towards him but didn’t break a sweat nor experienced a shortness of breath.
“So, you’re a gardener huh?” she said as she came up to him. “Good, clean honest work.”
“Very astute judgement, Miss Amara.”
“Don’t patronize me,” she said automatically before she could stop herself. “Oh shit. I’m sorry. It’s just a habit you know… this retorting thing.”
Wade grinned and Amara caught sight of a dimple forming on his left cheek. “You don’t have to be kind to me just because I’m blind. You’re self-assertive to the point of brashness; cocky even and just a tad arrogant to the common man. And, as you’ve pointed out to me before, I am the epitome of the common man aren’t I?”
“Well I…” she stammered, obviously at a loss for a response.
“Ah, Miss Amara, you’re disappointing me. You’re usually very big with words… so tell me, what is it you came here to talk to me about? It sounds very life and death to me.”
Amara stuck her tongue out at him. Somehow she was beginning to regret coming here.
“Are you regretting that you came here?” he asked without looking at her.
“What? You can read minds now?”
Wade gave a laugh and tapped the earth with his walking stick. “Ah, no my dear Watson, your hesitation to come clean with whatever it is you’ve been practicing to say to me, tells me that you’re having second thoughts. I can’t read minds.”
Wade began walking slowly down the path again, ignoring her. It was at times like this that he wished he could see her face; the minute expressions that she would make in anger. He bet she would still look beautiful even if she was scowling at him, which he was sure she was at the moment. But he didn’t need to see her face to know she was beautiful.
“So, what is it?”
Amara gave out a long, slow breath.
“Wade, will you marry me?”
Her question made him stop in his tracks. He was not prepared for this. He thought she was going to plead with him to let her stay at Abigail’s house or something; but marriage?
“I… I know we’ve just met and all but I’m serious. I… I promise I’ll take care of you for my whole life. I mean, I know you’re poor and I really don’t mind that at all. You can live with me if you want or I can live here with you, whichever makes you comfortable. I’m a plastic surgeon but I have friends from the Ophthalmology field. They can help you… you know, restore your eyesight if you’d like.”
Wade blinked a few times at her words. She was genuinely sincere about helping him regain his eyesight and he didn’t sense any traces of dishonesty in her desire to marry him. What he did sense was a deep genuine fear; not of him… but of someone else. Wade stood rigidly, letting the silence hang between them.
After a long while, he cleared his throat, “I am very touched that a woman wants to marry a poor, blind man. Not every woman is willing to make that sacrifice. But, I want to know, what’s your motive really for wanting this unholy matrimony?”
She hesitated for awhile before answering, “I… I have done so many bad things in my life… and I hope this is a way for me to redeem myself; the one good thing that I can do for another human being.”
Wade listened to her voice carefully as he considered their worth.
“They’re going to want to prove that this is a legitimate relationship before they let us marry you know. Plus you’re American so that’s going to be really complicated. Lots of waiting time, various permit applications and so on. For all it’s worth, it’s a lot of time, money and resources wasted for such a sham. Go back home, Amara… find a good man and fall in love with him before you get married. I… I’ve been blind for many years. A few more years or a lifetime won’t hurt.” Wade lifted his hand and reached out to touch her hand, slowly moving his palm up till he reached her face. He grazed her cheeks slightly, feeling her soft skin and whispered, “Most importantly, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
He walked away from her, leaving her astounded. She simply stood there, silently until he had disappeared from her sight before she squatted down to cry.
Abigail had nagged at him against his decision to look for Amara. Her exact words were- “You’re a barmy arse for chasing after that dishy woman.” He had retaliated by saying he couldn’t actually see how dishy she was and gave her his million dollar grin.
However at that moment, Wade Spencer wasn’t so sure about his hunt for the dishy woman. New York in September plastered his shirt on his back within minutes of leaving the airport. The sudden loud noises of the traffic and the bustling crowd alone were interfering with his sense of direction. He was thankful that Abigail and her husband Craig were with him. He curled a hand slowly around Abigail’s arm, more for comfort than support.
“This sure is very different from our quiet existence,” she commented. “Such a jarring contrast. I wish you could see it Wade.”
“I wish I could too.”
A while later, the three of them huddled into a cab and Wade instructed the driver to take them to the Ritz Carlton. He had heard that they had the best accommodations and service in the city and figured they’d be more helpful to a blind man and his two ageing companions than other hotels.
It hadn’t taken him long to track down Amara’s city of residence. He simply typed Amara and plastic surgeon and got multiple hits on the internet. Of course Craig had helped him to do the actual search and read all the headlines. He didn’t like those screen readers much with their drone-like voices. It was creepy.
Nevertheless, he pushed on and finally managed to find the address and phone number for the private clinic she was working at. To his surprise, he successfully made an appointment to see Dr. Amara Winters in September. That meant that she had returned home after their brief episode in the vineyards a month ago.
He wasn’t sure why she returned back to New York; back to where it was hurting her. Just for a brief second, he had considered that maybe she had made up with a lover and was overcome by a strange bout of jealousy that was uncalled for. He didn’t even know this woman. She was simply a stranger who came to his door twice and then proposed to him. It wasn’t everyday that a man gets proposed to and Wade figured that it gave him some right to feel jealous.
“Wade? Are you alright? We’ve reached the Ritz. Do you need me to help you out?” asked Abigail, shaking him out of his daze.
“Ah, no I’m fine. Thank you,” he replied as he held on to the door for support and got himself out of the cab. He heard the distinct sounds of wheels behind them as they walked towards the check in counter as well as voices of concerned or perhaps curious guests whispering and looking at his direction. Wade couldn’t help but chuckle. People are the same wherever they are. Gawking at the unusual was a human instinct.
After making payment for a five day stay at the hotel, he was ushered or rather ‘manhandled’ by an over-zealous hotel staff into the elevator. It was another side-effect of being blind. People tend to think he was incapable of doing even the basic things. He was about to laugh to himself when it suddenly occurred to him that perhaps he was being ‘manhandled’ to avoid crashing into expensive vases and various artifacts that he assumed were placed strategically around the hotel. Surely they were not going to charge him for crashing into something he couldn’t see would they? From that moment, Wade made every effort to appear clumsy and sauntered like a drunken man just to test his theory. It amused him to feel the staff beside him tensing up ever so often and jerking his hand to try and pull Wade away from an impending disaster.
When they finally made it to their room on the tenth floor, Abigail gave him a sharp tap on his arm.
“Bad boy! Don’t think I don’t know what you were doing! Now tell me Wade, are you sure you booked this room? It looks more like a house.”
“It looks fine to me Abby. Really beautiful,” he replied with a laugh.
“Oh, you’re such a fine rascal aren’t you?”
“Just direct me to my room. That would be the one with the single bed. I don’t need the queen bed so you and Craig can take it.”
“This is really too much for us, Sir. We really didn’t mind living anywhere. You didn’t have to bring us to such a grand place like this,” said Craig, as he tipped the bellboy.
“Just take it as my gift for your fortieth anniversary. I know it’s coming up,” he replied kindly, reaching out for Craig’s wrinkled hands.
The next morning, Wade had insisted that Craig and Abigail stay at the hotel and enjoy the amenities and privileges that came with their suite booking. He appeased their worries by letting them watch him enter a cab safely and he even let Abigail give the cab driver a run down of proper driving etiquette before giving the destination address. He wanted to them to be relaxed while they enjoyed themselves for the day.
Meanwhile, New York was fascinating even if he couldn’t see anything. He could still feel the heat of September penetrating through the cab’s thin metal body and hear the distinct sounds of car honks as opposed to a bus honk or the sound of tyres screeching over tar. He also learnt some interesting swear words from his ever friendly cab driver who’d hurl various choice curses at other drivers as he swerved and meandered through traffic.
Finally when they’ve reached his destination, Wade took in a deep breath. There was something about medical facilities and hospitals and their putrid, sterile, anti-bacterial wash smell that soothed him.
The clerk at the front desk had been friendly and even helpful but Wade could hear the doubt in her voice.
“I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking, why would someone who couldn’t see how he looked like care about how he looked? And to that, lovely lady is why those surgeons earn the big bucks,” he said teasingly. He could hear a slight chuckle from the clerk as she walked with him to Dr. Winters’s consultation room.
She wasn’t expecting to see him although the name Wade did pull a string at her but she reasoned with herself that there were so many Wades in the world that it would be absurd to think it could be him.
Her first question proved her point.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
Wade felt around for the chair opposite her and settled himself in before answering.
“Is that how you talk to your clients, Dr. Winters?”
Amara leaned back against her chair and scowled at him. After a moment, she leaned forward and narrowed her eyes to observe him closely.
“Tangerine body wash suits you very well. I admit the cheap soaps in the dodgy motels are such a turn off but I’m sure you know that. You’re a very well groomed woman; a necessity for the trade. You’re a walking advertisement of the services you provide here aren’t you?”
“Mr. Spencer, I am the one who’s supposed to do the observation and analysis. You’re the client. Unfortunately, Mr. Spencer, I do not believe in deforming my god-given looks no matter how enticing it is. So what you see is what you get which of course, you don’t get at all.”
Her play on words amused and intrigued him at the same time.
“So tell me, Doctor, what can you tell me about my face then?”
Amara cocked an eyebrow and gave an exaggerated pondering sound.
“Let’s see… your nose bridge is way too high, it gives you that parrot look and your eyes, oh my god… they’re just too wide apart that it’s aesthetically disturbing beyond speculation. And don’t even get me started on those ears. Now, you’ve got really nice lips, professionally speaking of course but it’s just a mismatch with all the flaws on your face. So in a nutshell, you’re screwed big time Mr.Spencer.”
“Now you’re just being mean,” he replied, roaring with laughter. “So, if you’re going to rearrange my face and make me a greek god look-alike does that mean you’re staying in New York for good?”
His question startled her for she was in such a jovial mood from their banter.
“I… Well, yes. Isn’t that what you told me to do? Go home Amara and find a good man to fall in love with or something fancy like that.”
Wade turned his head in the direction of her voice. “I’m really sorry.”
Amara shook her head slightly then gave a casual shrug. “It’s okay.” To her surprise, Wade reached out for her hand and gave it a squeeze. “My answer is yes.”
At that moment, Wade wished he could have seen the look on her face; the way her eyes widened to express her shock, relief, confusion and tenderness all meshed into one. But Wade settled for her sharp intake of breath and the feel of an escalating pulse at her wrist which was currently in his hand.
“I will settle the papers once I get back. You’re going to have to enter the UK under a fiancée visa and then we can get married within six months, if that’s okay with you. I don’t know how to make it any sooner.”
“Ah… actually, Wade, it’s better if we get married here. I’ve asked around and apparently it’s much faster if I apply for a Settlement visa for a spouse and sponsor you throughout your stay here until the green card’s approved. I mean… it must have cost you a bomb just to fly here didn’t it. I’m so sorry Wade. I’ll pay you back for the flight, don’t you worry.”
Her reply pleased him because it meant that she had not made up with her lover as he had assumed. However, Wade leaned back, unsure if he should be insulted or amused. How could she think of marrying a man whom she thinks is a gardener when she doesn’t even know the truth about him? And yet, her desire to marry within the shortest possible time was simply weird.
“Are you planning to use me for some weird surgery experiment and thus you’d want us married asap? That way I’ll be legally yours right? Bugger that.”
She laughed hysterically and slapped his hand. “Don’t plant ideas into me.”
Wade smiled at her and knew that she was smiling back.
“Do you have a place to stay for the mean time?” she asked.
“I’ll manage. It’s you I’m worried about. I don’t know what he did to you but I know you’re hurting.”
“How did you… ah never mind.”
“You’ll tell me when you’re ready. Secrets are bad for marriage,” he said in a sing-song voice.
“Consultation time’s up. I’ll see you out,” she laughed. “My number’s in your jacket pocket.”
She was relieved when he called her the next day to schedule a meet up. She was starting to have doubts about him chickening-out with the plan. Whatever it was, she was going to take the plunge today and tell him the truth. Come what may. If he chooses to walk out of her life forever then she’ll accept it and find another solution to her problem.
“What am I, nuts? Of course the guy’s not here for purely romantic reasons! It’s a business transaction for god’s sake. I get a husband and he gets his surgery. It’s that simple. Or is it?” she mumbled to herself as she started to brush angrily at her unruly hair. She should not have hacked at it blindly with a scissors but it had been a matter of urgency to disguise herself back then. But now it was just annoying; having bits of hair sticking out at awkward angles! She slapped a glob of hair cream to tame them and gave up after awhile.
“Who gets jitters from a date with a blind man? He can’t see you for god’s sake!” Her laughter bordered on hysteria. Eventually she crammed a wide brimmed hat over her head and twirled herself in front of the mirror.
“Looking good Amara Winters. You’ll be a knockout… except your date won’t appreciate it.” She rolled her eyes, cursed at herself for trying too hard to impress a blind man and got out of her apartment.
Amara didn’t bother with driving today. No one drives in New York if they could help it although with the current heat, she wouldn’t mind the instant comfort of the air-condition instead of waiting at the curb for a cab.
Eventually she reached the restaurant and spotted Wade already seated and waiting for her. Surprisingly he was well dressed in tailored pants with a vest over a pressed shirt and his hair… that mass of pretty brown curls simply caught her breath. He smiled at her as she arrived as if he sensed her presence coming towards him.
“I would say you’re beautiful but I won’t,” he said getting up slowly and reaching out a hand to search for her.
“I’d say you’re gorgeous but I won’t,” she replied with a laugh and sat down.
“You think I’m gorgeous? I thought you said my face was a goner even surgery couldn’t fix?” he teased.
“I did not say that! And anyway, I’m not in my professional medical capacity at the moment so my judgment of beauty is as flawed as any human’s can be.”
“Very good save, Doctor,” he agreed and tried to study his menu. “So what shall we have for dinner…”
“I’ll read it out for you,” she said, taking the menu away from him. Amara couldn’t help smiling just a little. Wade really made her laugh with his repartee and for once, she felt that she could relax because the person in front of her wasn’t interested in her for her looks. That was if he was interested in her at all.
She rattled on the menu for him, describing in as much detail as possible what the picture beside the name looked like. Finally he settled for some pasta and she had grilled fish.
“Thank you,” he said after the waiter was gone.
“Not about the menu reading. I mean, thank you for taking me out tonight. It’s been… a long time since I stepped out of home.”
Amara wasn’t sure what to make of that so she kept quiet and sipped her wine gently.
“So…” he began.
Amara bit her lips nervously before succumbing to her emotions. “Wade… I’m really sorry about all this. I… I still haven’t thanked you properly for saving my life,” she whispered with a half sob. “But I’m really big on this karma thing and I feel it kinda means I owe you a life in return.”
Wade leaned back in his seat with his wine glass between his fingers.
“Ah… but that’s just the icing of the cake isn’t it?”
“I… Well, the truth is… I’m hoping that if I get married, he will stop.” Wade didn’t say anything but kept quiet, allowing her to continue at her own pace. “That’s what he said to me- ‘I’m not going to stop chasing you till you’re at that altar’”
“And you believe him?” asked Wade casually. “You do know that altar doesn’t have to mean marriage right Amara? He could mean till you’re dead. The biggest sacrifice on the altar.”
“I… oh. No. He’s not capable of that.”
“Maybe, but it still doesn’t rule out that possibility. Plus, a poor blind man can’t really protect you much.”
“I don’t know what else to do Wade. I’ve tried running away but he keeps finding me each and every time. He’s a lawyer. He has good connections. There’s just no escape! And that’s just him. I haven’t even gotten to his wife yet.”
“Ah, the case of the jealous spouse,” he mused.
“I’m serious! She’s crazy I tell you. She left a pig’s head outside my apartment once with a knife through one of its eyeballs. I’ve since moved out.”
“How’d you know it’s her?”
“There was a note attached to the knife that said: Keep your filthy whore hands away from my husband if you don’t want to end up like this.”
“Did you go to the police?”
“Of course I did! But I told you he’s some big shot A/P right so he managed to have the case dissolved. Argh! I hate that bastard!” Amara slammed her fist onto the table, much to the surprise of the waiter who arrived with their food.
“Such a fiery temper,” he commented as he felt for the fork and spoon on his table. After taking in a forkful of pasta, he pondered for awhile before speaking, “Well then Amara, I’ll be in New York for another three days. Is that enough time for you to arrange all the necessary papers?”
Amara almost choked on her fish. “What? Three days? I need at least a week!” she swallowed her food and took a deep breath. “Tell you what. Why don’t you stay with me at my apartment while we sort this out?”
“I don’t know about that… I mean, there’s still the vineyard to look after.”
“I’ll call your employer and explain to him for you. You don’t worry about that.” Wade tried to conceal his smile behind his wine glass. He was going to hold out the truth from her just a little longer. He was musing with himself when he suddenly sensed a dark presence within their vicinity. Wade frowned to try and sought out its location but it disappeared as quickly as it came.
“Wade? Is something wrong?”
“Uh. No, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” he said reassuringly.
Later on after they’ve had coffee and dessert, Wade insisted that she got into the cab first while he waited for the next one. He was glad that she didn’t protest much and even gave him a kiss on his cheek before she got into the cab. As the sounds of the cab’s engine faded away, Wade stood still and waited.
Then he felt it again only this time whoever it was, was coming towards him. Wade lifted his walking stick to keep the person at bay. “What do you want from me?” he asked. Wade didn’t need to wait for the person to speak to know it was a man. He had heard the heavy footsteps made from the distinct sound of male loafers and scented stale smoke over a hint of aftershave.
“Stay away from her or else,” said the man before walking away. Instead of feeling threatened, Wade lowered his walking stick and stood calmly by the curb, flagging for a cab.
“You what?” exploded Abigail in an uncontrolled manner. “You’re getting married? Good Lord, Wade! You’ve really gone off your trolley now!”
“Oh, don’t be silly Abby. He hasn’t gone mad. There, there, sit down here,” said Craig with a grim look on his face. Once he was satisfied that Abigail had calmed down, he turned to Wade patiently.
“I apologize for her outburst. It is really unexpected for us, Sir. Are… are you sure about this? Do we need to inform the Al…”
“No!” said Wade firmly, stopping Craig mid sentence. “My decision is my responsibility alone and yes, I am sure about this.”
Craig looked down at his wife and patted a hand on her shoulder. She was beginning to weep.
“You silly, silly boy! What do you know about her? She’s in it for the money, I’m sure. Don’t fall for it Sir!” she cried.
“I told you before that she thinks I’m just a poor gardener or a servant boy. She really has no clue about anything. Besides she doesn’t need more money. She’s a plastic surgeon. They earn enough to support a whole town!”
“Oh Sir! I just cannot imagine it! You with that… that girl?” she protested.
“What is it about her that you do not like, Abby?” asked Wade gently.
“She’s… rude! And untethered. It’s like she has no moral grounding in her life. She tried to kill herself for god’s sake!”
“Hush Abby! Don’t speak like that!” warned Craig as he gave her a little shake.
“Let her be Craig. She’s entitled to her worries as any mother would to her child,” replied Wade with a gentle smile. “But, I have made my decision.”
“And Sir? Have you told her about your…” whispered Craig. He did not want to mention the word ‘wolf’ loudly.
“It might not be necessary to even mention it but we’ll see,” he replied, leaning back onto the chair and closing his eyes. “As for now, I want the two of you to have a good stay in New York. Go and see all the tourist sights and have fun. There’s an envelope on your bed. You’ll find what you need inside. I’m afraid I’ll have to stay a little longer here but both of you have to return home at the end of the week to tend the vineyards in my absence. It is harvest in a fortnight.”
At the end of the week, Wade, Abigail and Craig said their goodbyes at the lobby of the hotel. It took him almost an hour to persuade Abigail that he would be fine and that the staff would tend to him should he need anything.
As he leaned back against the plush sofas at the hotel lobby, he wondered about his real motive for getting married to Amara. Truth was he didn’t need to get married. If he had wanted a corneal transplant, he could have gotten one years ago but he had chosen to live his life with his blindness. It reminded him of the essence of life itself. At times, when your life seems perfect, you often overlook certain things or even close an eye over the flaws in others. The gift of sight doesn’t really mean that you see things for what they are. Ironically, being blind has made him open his eyes to see things more clearly.
Marriage was simply a binding contract between two individuals. Soulmates and the likes are just an over-emphasized and advertised hoax to get people to spend lavishly on each other in the name of love. Just think about it: birthdays, valentines’ day, Christmas… Even the wolf pack custom of mating was just another disguise for an evolutionary theory. Animals in the natural world seek out a mate that they consider the best choice to continue their legacy, not because they’re soulmates or whatever. They choose the fittest and strongest mate because they wish their young to be able to survive in the harsh wild conditions. Why do you think males have that extravagant display of their prowess and sexuality in front of females in heat during the mating season? It all boils down to instinct and that’s it. As for him, he has no interest whatsoever in mating with this woman. It was instinctive not to want to pass down a disability to the next generation regardless of whether it’s hereditary or not.
He was so lost in his own thoughts that he did not realize that Amara had been standing next to him until she tapped his shoulder lightly. To his surprise, she curled her arm under one of his as though to help him up and guide him as he walked. He heard the sound of wheels from behind him and guessed that she was pulling his luggage along. It wasn’t that he wasn’t used to being fussed by a woman, seeing how Abigail takes care of him, but knowing a woman who made no fuss about not being treated like a lady intrigued him.
Him being blind was not a reason for her not to expect such a treatment. In fact, he could tell that she didn’t care if a man holds the door for her or pulls out a chair for her in the restaurant. However, she had a certain control streak about her, by the way she held his arm; not an “I’m here for you type” like Abigail but “Come on walk or else”. Wade found that it amused him as much as it annoyed him. What should he make of that?
When they arrived at her apartment, she left him at the entrance as she hauled his bag inside. By the way she moved around, he could tell that her apartment had only one bedroom and he had a hunch that she was going to be camping on the couch for the next few days. Do married couples behave that way? Wade shrugged to himself and stood rooted at the front door.
She had left the balcony door open. There was no way a mere window could let in that much breeze in sweltering September.
“Amara?” he called out. “Does your cooling system happen to be broken down or something?”
She yelled back something that sounded like a ‘yes’.
“Figures. One must be pretty desperate to cool an apartment that way,” muttered Wade to himself as he stepped out of his shoes and felt the warm wooden floor against his socked feet. She had probably painted the house in some sort of pale pink or orange colour with wooden cornices to match the floor. He’d check with her on that but he was sure that she would try as much as possible to make her home an exact contrast to the still and sterile conditions of her office.
When she finally came out of her room to shut her front door, he heard her move to keep his shoes on the right side of the door. She mustn’t have many shoes if she had space for his. But he could be wrong. Women always seemed to have more shoes than their feet could wear.
“Have a seat. The sofa’s straight ahead but watch out for the glass coffee table. I’m going to make some tea.”
While she was gone, Wade made his way to the sofa. This was why he hated leaving home. New environments scared him and he was always told to watch out for this or that.
When she came back, he heard her settle two cups on top of two saucers and placed a plate of something between them.
“Here’s your tea,” she said patiently, guiding his fingers to the cup. “Be careful, it’s hot. I’ll put the cookie plate on the right side of the table okay?”
“You don’t strike me as the baking type,” he replied, biting into a cookie and reveling in its taste. “But you’re good at it. Maybe you should open a bakery and dump the whole doctor gig.”
“I bake a lot… when I’m stressed. How do you know that?”
“It’s the cooling system’s fault really. It doesn’t vent the butter and sugar smell out of the apartment that well. But it’s nice… it’s homely.”
“Right. And secondly, what you don’t like doctors?”
“Nah… they always think they know everything. Always want to be in control of the situation, always thinking they’re the smartest person in the room.” He gave a noncommittal shrug and grinned. “But obviously they’re wrong, especially if they’re sitting in a room with me.”
She choked back a laughter, “Yeah right. Smart mouth.”
They kept silent for awhile, each not knowing what else to say to the other. It suddenly dawned upon Amara that she was about to get married to this stranger in front of her and she didn’t know anything more about him except that he’s a gardener from England.
“I…” she stammered, not knowing where to begin. What do you tell a person you’ve just met whom you’re getting married to? This must be how couples who have arranged marriage must feel: Awkward.
“I’ll start first,” he said simply, sensing her hesitance. “I’m the eldest of five siblings. I have three sisters and my only brother, is the youngest. My family has been in the wine and brew business for many years, although my parents are semi-retired now. However, I live alone with my caretakers, Abigail and Craig Fletcher. Oh and I’ve been blind since I was 27years old. My records will show that I am now 37 but age is just a number. I feel way older than that.” Wade grinned and pointed to her.
“I know how you feel. I mean, I hate telling people my age because I don’t look like my age and they’ll start asking all these weird questions and asking if I’ve ever had surgery… sorry, digressing. I’m actually 30. I’ve just earned my medical license two years ago. I did my residency in Kaiser Permanente Northern California… yes I know it’s on the other side of the coast but hey, everybody comes to New York at one point or another. For me, it doesn’t really matter where I work ‘coz I don’t have any family. I was in foster care for a few years and the moment I was legal I got the hell out of the system. I worked my ass off for the top grades in class so I could get scholarships to be a doctor.”
“But why plastic surgeon?”
“Because it’s where the big bucks are. I knew what it was like to be poor and not have the money to buy what I wanted and I hated it. So I know how you must feel. Anyway, I heard from some kid back when I was young that you either be a politician, a lawyer or a doctor if you want to be rich. Either that or you gamble big time or hook yourself to a rich bastard.”
“Being a pretty accessory doesn’t suit you?”
“Nah. Ironically, beauty is now my business and I see so many young women going under the knife willingly to become one of those pretty accessories.”
“Ah well. One has to sacrifice to survive.”
Amara smiled and lifted her cup. “I’ll second that. Salut!”
Wade imitated her gesture and leaned back. “Tell me, Amara… why do you insist on sleeping on the couch tonight?”
“I haven’t insisted on anything yet!”
“Ah but you were planning to when you tell me to take your bed tonight.”
Amara kept quiet. She wished he could see her glaring at him right now. Why does he have to be smart assed about everything?
“You take the couch then,” she scoffed and got up
“That’d be so mean of you. I’m the guest remember?” he teased as he heard her walking away. “You’re always welcome to share the bed with me!” he shouted out and heard her grumble away, much to his amusement.
However, to his dismay, he found himself curled on her uncomfortable couch for the night. His only glimmer of hope was that she had left her bedroom door ajar, possibly with the intention of being within an earshot of his cries.
Wade couldn’t help himself. He was a man locked in the same house with a real breathing woman. How many years had it been since he was with one? Ten, fifteen years? It was an animal’s instinct to react to the opposite sex. And he was an animal, in more ways than one. Wade chuckled at his own joke before curling up and trying to shut his eyes. He’ll make love to her someday… but not tonight.
It was the first day of the month. It had taken Amara longer than she expected to get the paperwork processed. Although Wade had provided her with all the necessary documentations, it was still a complicated process. They were scheduled for an interview at a later date to ascertain the validity of their petition to marry. When she told him, Wade simply leaned back on his couch lazily and covered his face with a pillow.
“You could just get married to an American you know. Saves us both the time.”
“I don’t like to do things halfway. I mean you’re already here so that means you do have some interest in this marriage thing right?”
“That would be very intuitive of you. But I have no interest whatsoever in this marriage.”
“What?” Amara almost broke her heel as she spun around to face him. “What do you mean?”
“It’s just a contract to me. I believe the marriage will help lay off that scary boyfriend of yours and I get a chance to get my eyesight back right? Then you can do a quickie divorce, whatever. Isn’t that the plan?”
Amara threw a mini cushion at Wade. Technically he was right but why was she feeling so angry at his words? Knowing that she was angry at him for saying the truth made her angrier with herself. Throwing her hands up in the air, she stormed into her room and slammed the door.
After awhile, she felt calmer and slightly guilty for walking out on him in the middle of a conversation. She opened her door slightly and took a peek to see where he was. Apparently Wade was still sprawled on the couch. She didn’t blame him. It was nearly 11pm.
“Wade? Are you still up?” she whispered.
“Mmm? What? Are you going to have another bout of temper? I don’t think our neighbours are going to like it much,” he replied; his voice muffled by the pillow on his face.
She opened her door wide and leaned against the door frame.
“We’ve still got to pass that interview you know. They’ll ask every possible question that you could think of and random ones at that. Like what’s my favorite color, do I like my coffee black or with milk or even what type of underwear I prefer.”
Wade took the pillow off his face but didn’t open his eyes.
“I can just tell the officer I can’t see you know. He’ll take pity.”
“A relationship isn’t based only on what you see Wade,” she replied in an annoyed voice.
“I know that. Like for example, I know that you’re annoyed at me because I’m almost always right and you like to shift your weight on one leg when you get impatient. I also know that your favourite colour is pink or orange or some warm pastel colour. Also, you prefer tea to coffee although I do suppose you drink coffee… with a little milk but lots of sugar just like how you take your tea. Am I right?” When she didn’t answer, he grinned. “And I can know that you wear either silk or satin underwear all the time, even at home.”
Amara raised an eyebrow. “Have you been groping me in my sleep, Wade?”
“Oh come on. I’m a gentleman. But I can tell by the way your skirt or pants material slide smoothly when you walk. There’s no scratchy sounds characteristic of cotton on nylon and so on. However, I can usually tell when you’re not wearing matching lingerie because it’s rare to not hear your blouse scratching all over your…”
“Shut up. That’s enough description or else you’re sleeping outside in the balcony.” Even as she threatened him, Amara couldn’t help a smile. It was hard to stay angry at him even when he was being annoying. Shaking her head, she turned to go back to her bed.
“Amara?” he called softly. When he sensed that she was looking at him, he continued, “My favourite colour is purple… or magenta really, like the colour of ripe grapes and wine. I don’t really like tea much but I’m too kind to tell you that. I drink my coffee with half the cup full of milk and I prefer briefs to boxers as I feel more secure.”
Amara smiled and walked towards him. “Thanks Wade.” With a smile, she pulled his blanket up to his chin and bent down to press a kiss on his forehead. Even in the darkness she could make out his features and noticed the sexy curve of his lips which she always found alluring. She debated with herself about kissing him and stood in that bent position for some time before she felt one of his hands moving up from her arm to her neck to pull her gently close.
The touch of his lips on hers was casual and meant not to last for more than a second. However, something seemed to sizzle and they remained lip locked for a while longer, each unsure of the next move.
However, being on top gave Amara the upper hand so she pulled away and stared at Wade. His eyes were open and staring up; unable to focus on anything. At that moment, Amara wished that he could see her and see for himself how desperately she wanted to kiss him again.
Wade began to smile and searched for her face, tapping his hands upwards from her shoulders to her cheek. He caressed her cheek softly and whispered, “I want to kiss you too, if you’d let me.”
His kiss was gentle and curious at the same time, coaxing her lips open to draw out her tongue. Amara’s heart was pounding slightly as she dared herself to deepen the kiss. She slanted her lips over his, seeking more, demanding more.
“Wade…” she murmured against him. She rested one knee between his thighs on the couch, her hands at either side of his head and leaned her weight slightly on top of him as they continued their kiss. She could feel him getting slightly hard beneath her but he made no attempt to move his hands from her neck. She was about to move his hand down towards her breast when she felt him tense up without warning.
“Shh,” he said, placing his fingers on her lips and using his other arm to gently push her away. “There’s someone outside your door.”
All thoughts about the kiss went out the window as she felt cold sweat prickling at her neck. Her hand reached slowly for Wade’s walking stick and unfolded it as quietly as she could. Instead of giving it to him, she held it up like a baseball bat, ready to swing it into action.
Wade rolled onto the floor silently and got on his hands and knees. He could scent Amara’s fear and knew that she was too scared to say or do anything to stop him. He moved across the wooden floor soundlessly, using his hands on the floor as a guide, sensing the vibrations of whoever’s outside the door. It was a man; the same man with the wide soled loafers who approached him previously but he had stopped pacing.
Wade stayed grounded, ready to pounce should the man attempt to enter. He would shift if necessary; damn the consequences. He perked his senses and waited with the patience of a predator that was going for the kill.
The floorboards creaked slightly….
Wade heard something scraping underneath the door.
Then the man was gone; the sound of his footsteps walking away from the door. Wade stayed in position a while longer to make sure that the man was really gone before he got up.
“Come here. He pushed something underneath the door. What is it?”
He heard Amara shuffle slightly but she didn’t come towards him.
“Is… is he really gone?” she asked instead.
“Yes,” he replied with as much reassurance as he could muster.
“Okay,” she squeaked and tiptoed towards him. He heard her squat to pick up something before she gave a gasp and took a step back. “Oh god… oh my god…”
Wade remained silent for awhile before he asked what’s wrong.
“You belong only to me and no one else,” she read, trembling slightly. “If… if you continue your blatant act of defiance, there will be consequences.” Amara gave out a long breath.
“Is that all?” asked Wade gently.
“No… He uh…” she stammered. Wade moved forward and reached out to hold her close. “There’s a… a picture of a decapitated stick man drawing.” She whispered the last few words and buried her face at the crook of his shoulders. “We have to get out of here tomorrow… we have to go. I… I should pack.”
Wade didn’t reply but held her closer. He thought this man was just your average jilted lover turned stalker but the situation does seem slightly more severe than that. This man was capable of violence or abuse… at least not physically but he had hurt her, emotionally and psychologically. Just the thought of her cowering in fear made him want to rip the man’s head off with his teeth.
When he felt her shudder in his arms, Wade shook himself out of his thoughts and patted her back slowly. “I would carry you back to bed if I could but I can’t. However, I can sleep with you tonight if you want some company. I promise I will not do anything that you do not want me to. I will never hurt you,” he whispered softly to her ear.
He felt her nod as her hand clasped around his and lead him into her room. Even in her distraught state, she carefully led him to the bed and pulled the comforters over him before getting into bed herself. Wade let her curl up against him and waited until she had drifted off to sleep before he allowed himself to follow suit.
He awoke suddenly in the middle of the night, shocked for a moment to find himself in bed with a woman. He almost called her “Cassie” before his half-asleep mind jerked into full consciousness and he stopped himself.
“Bloody hell,” he cursed, slowly trying to sit up. Why the hell was he thinking of her for? It must be all that drama about the ex-lover earlier that made him think of her. Perhaps at the subconscious level, he still missed her. It had been over a year since he had any dreams of her.
“Wade?” whispered Amara groggily. “Is something wrong? Is he back?” Wade felt her tensing. Drawing her close, he let her head rest idly on his chest.
“No, everything’s fine… I’m here,” he replied, patting her arm softly, trying to put her to sleep. Amara felt comfortable and peaceful leaning against him even though she didn’t feel sleepy anymore. Up close, she noticed that he did not use any cologne and smelled only of soap. Even then, she found it alluring. Her fingers carelessly played with his pajama buttons, twirling it between her fingers.
Wade simply smiled but didn’t attempt to make any moves. Pride would have him say it was gentleman conduct that made him resists her but the truth was, he wasn’t sure if he still remembered how to seduce a woman. The last time he was with a woman he could see and appreciate her but now his lack of sight made him feel inadequate.
“Yes?” she asked longingly, looking at him expectantly. Wade caressed her cheek lightly with his knuckles.
“I cannot tell you that you’re beautiful or that your skin is flawless… I can’t tell you that I love how your hair looks or that I adore the colour of your eyes. And most importantly, I can’t see the look on your face when I make you cum and honestly, I don’t think you’d appreciate that.”
His bluntness shocked her but it didn’t deter her. She simply laughed and shook her head.
“I’m not perfect Wade,” she replied, taking his hands and placing them on her head. “Feel how I’ve shorn my hair haphazardly? It’s currently also an ugly shade of brown.” From there she brought his hands down to her arms. “And feel this. That’s a flabby underarm due to lack of triceps toning.” She then moved his hands and placed them at each side of her cheek such that he was cupping her. “They say blind people can recognize a person by touching their face. I want you to know me, Wade,” she said encouragingly.
Wade could believe that she was finally letting him touch her- not just the usual touch of support or comfort but really touch her: her eyes, her lips, the bridge of her nose…
Wade had never been so nervous with a woman before and yet here he was, heart thumping like a virgin.
She was whispering his name… Wade… Wade…
She had said it many times; in happiness, in surprise, in anger, in that nagging tone of hers… but never like this- so needy and deliciously lustful to his ears.
He gave a growl of appreciation as he felt her lips over his; soft and plump. He reveled in the taste, both hers and his and he sought more… He wanted to know her mouth.
He pushed his tongue into her mouth slowly, drawing out her tongue, hoping to wrestle somewhat lovingly with it. She passionately responded to every move he made. Wade trailed a finger over the side of their joint lips and down to the sexy cleft on her chin. He was surprised that he had not noticed it before and he pulled away, just for a second, to plant a kiss on her chin.
As he trailed his lips up along the side of her jaw, he felt her jaw muscles tense slightly. He could hear her take a sharp deep breath and he couldn’t help but smile as his lips moved further down her neck; taking in the sweet floral scent of her bath scrub on her skin. Her hands moved impatiently over his pajama buttons once again and he obliged, leaning back and feeling her eager fingers press onto his taut chest.
“Nice,” she murmured, planting a kiss on his chest before trailing them down his abdomen. Her fingers expertly began to pull the waistband of his pajama pants down, exposing more of his skin to the cool night air. When she was satisfied that he was naked except for his briefs, she straddled him. Wade tried to imagine how she would look; constructing her face using what he remembered from touching her face earlier. He could hear her taking off her t-shirt and heard it land careless on the floor.
“Touch me Wade,” she urged. His fingers moved gingerly from her stomach to her breasts which were still confined by cotton bra.
“I knew they didn’t match,” he said teasingly as his fingers reached out behind her to unclasp her bra. She removed it and threw it on the floor along with their other articles of clothes. Wade tried to imagine once again how they looked by the feel of her breast in his hands. They were of a good size, fitting perfectly in his hands. He squeezed them slightly, feeling its natural softness. Instinctively, he moved closer to press his face between her breasts, inhaling the sweet scent of her body. His lips moved towards a nipple, feeling it harden between his lips. He gave a soft suck and heard her gasp. Feeling encouraged, he sucked harder, alternating between her two nipples, hearing the delicious sounds of her moans urging him on.
Wade could feel her hips gyrating on top of his hard cock which was still confined beneath his briefs. He was about to move his hands to push it down when he felt her move. She was standing and for a moment, Wade was unsure what was going to happen. Then suddenly, he felt her moving closer towards him, her hands guiding his to her firm butt.
“You know what to do,” she whispered silkily. Wade was about to protest when her scent hit him hard. He tilted his head up to seek the source of the scent and was rewarded with her warm, moist pussy directly above his face. Experimentally, Wade gave it a lick and heard her moan and felt her move her hips closer to his lips.
“Am I doing it right?” he asked. Amara didn’t reply but simply pressed her pussy onto his face, demanding that he licked her to an orgasm. Wade obliged, licking the folds of her pussy and sucking hungrily on her clit like a hungered man. His fingers curiously moved from her butt cheeks down to her pussy, tracing the lips in an attempt to construct them in his mind. Her skin was soft and slick with her juices, making it easy for his finger to slip into her pussy.
“Oh god, you’re going to make me cum…” she screamed, moving her hips uncontrollably as her orgasm wrecked her body, much to his pleasure.
When she finally calmed down, she sank to her knees and leaned her head on his chest.
“That was pretty amazing,” he said, rubbing her hips gently. “But now it’s your turn to please me.”
“My pleasure,” she replied and slid her fingers underneath the waistband of his briefs. Wade took the slightest intake of breath as her warm hand descended on his throbbing cock. He felt her shuffling around and a second later let out a loud groan as he felt her pussy clamping deliciously on top of his cock.
“Oh god, Amara…” he moaned. His hands tried to hold her hips down but she was bouncing herself on top of him, squeezing his cock with every stroke she made. He wished he could see her; see their bodies merging at that one point for the sensations were simply too out of this world for him to describe or imagine.
When she leaned forward to kiss him, Wade took his chance to hold her close and rolled her on her back. Gently, he eased her thighs up and hooked them over his shoulders before he pressed himself down, pushing his cock deeper inside her. He began to thrust in and out, slowly at first before picking up speed. Amara moaned with every stroke he made, losing herself to the sensation of his cock plummeting inside of her.
“Fuck me Wade… harder,” she managed to say before she felt him plunge deep inside of her, robbing her of her breath. He was letting go of her legs now, leaning towards her with his cock all the way in to the hilt. He gave a quick thrust and felt her pussy muscles clench around him. Wade smiled as he felt her body shivering from her orgasm. He didn’t give her time to recover from it though and continued pounding into her, racing towards his own release.
“Baby, where do you want me to cum,” he said between breaths.
“Oh god… anywhere… just don’t stop!” she screamed. Wade held on to her tight and gave a few more thrusts. When he was at his limit, he almost pulled out but stopped when he heard a loud whine in his head. It shocked him to hear his wolf whine and howl its protest.
I’m sorry buddy. I can’t. I’ll get her pregnant! Wait… you want her to get what?
Wade didn’t manage to finish his internal conflict for Amara had begun to move her hips up and down in a passionate frenzy, urging him to fuck her more. Bracing himself, Wade thrust his hips forward, feeling the same tightness in her pussy that signaled that she was cumming. As he felt her body begin to tense, Wade gave a final thrust and came in thick hot jets inside of her.
Wade’s eyelids fluttered uncontrollably as the force of his cum robbed him of his breath. He could feel his body literally emptying itself inside her. It left him weak and he collapsed right on top of her. It had been too long since he had such a release and for the first time he had to fight with his wolf over the possession of his lover.
Wade thought that was strange as he rolled over to one side to catch his breath and calm down. So his wolf approves of this woman. That’s a first. Wade smiled and opened his eyes, only to see the most amazing pair of brown eyes staring into his. He blinked back in shock and then it was all dark again.
When he woke up the next morning, he heard a lot of clanging coming from the kitchen and figured that Amara was making breakfast or attempting to make some. He carefully made his way to her bathroom to freshen up before heading out to the living room couch, guided by the sound of the tv airing the morning news.
He had barely made it to the couch when he heard her curse loudly.
“Damn those sons of bitches!”
Wade shook his head as he leaned back against the sofa and tried to listen to what was being said on tv. He heard her talking and guessed that she was on the phone. Every ten minutes or so, she’d pace about and swear at the top of her voice. Therefore it did not surprise him when he heard her throw and break something in the sink. It sounded like a plate.
Not wanting to share the same fate as the plate, he remained quiet as she came into the living room.
“I fucking hate bureaucracy!” she snapped. Wade could hear her pacing about, barefooted. “Two weeks my ass! It’s in fucking December for godsake. And why do they keep calling it a petition? I’m not a fucking politician!”
“Honey, you’re making me horny with all those fornication thoughts. In a sadistic and twisted way, your crude language turns me on.” Wade gave a soft chuckle and shook his head in amusement.
“Oh bite me! I’ve been on hold for ten minutes now and I’m not feeling like I could ‘please hold’ it any longer,” she retorted, mimicking the sing-song tone of the operator. Finally she gave up and slammed the phone onto its receiver. “They will only approve of our petition after we go for an interview. But the interview’s early in December.”
“Then relax,” said Wade calmly as he slapped his hand on the empty space beside him. “You can go back to England with me. That way you can get away from here… and from him for the time being.” Wade reached for her thigh and patted it gently. “It’ll also give us more time to learn about each other.”
Resigned, she gave a sigh and sat next to him. “Yes, you’re right,” she admitted. “So how do like your eggs?”
“That depends on what I’m in the mood for. I’m not a very picky eater, if you must know.”
“That’s good coz I’ve already scrambled them.”
“Would you have them redone if I said I didn’t like scrambled eggs?”
Amara gave him a murderous look, only to regret that he couldn’t see it. “Nah. I’d say either do it yourself or starve.”
“Just my luck to have such a vicious wife then,” he chuckled as he got up. Amara didn’t reply him. She was just a little shocked to hear him call her his wife. It seemed odd to her… and yet, so right.
“It’s harvest time right now so the vineyard’s going to be really busy. We usually start picking the grapes in late October, just before the weather gets frosty. You could help if you’d like.”
Wade was smiling as he stepped out of the hired ride back to his home. The scent of the grapes still lingered in the air even though he knew that half of them were probably in the storage room at the moment.
“Do I have to like stomp on the grapes or something? I mean that sounds really yuckie. I have warts on my toes.”
“Fortunately, I do not require your wart-infested toes for extracting the grape juices,” he replied with a broad grin. “So do you prefer white wine or red?”
“White I suppose. Do you really use green grapes to make white wine and red grapes to make red wine?”
Wade stopped in his track and tapped his walking stick on the ground.
“My darling, you’ll be shot and left for dead if you ever ask such a ridiculous question in these fields.”
Amara was about to retort when she realized that they were walking away from the house she had woken up in when they first met. Instead, he was leading her up a gentle slope to another house that was much nearer to the vineyards.
“Where are we going?” she demanded. Wade considered his answer carefully before speaking.
“We’re heading towards the owner’s house. He uh, let’s me stay there because of my condition. It’s nearer to the fields.”
Amara gave him a skeptical look but didn’t argue. The house was slightly bigger but it had that weathered look that made it warm and comfortable as the other house she was familiar with. For a moment, she felt at peace with herself and the world as she stared across the rows of plantation in front of the porch. She didn’t mind living here for the rest of her life. She was about to ask Wade if the owner would hire her but found that he had already entered the house without her.
Lugging their suitcases in, she took a curious look at the house’s interior. It was well-kept. She loved the white-washed walls and full length windows; it reflected light into the house and gave its occupant an undisturbed view of the beautiful vineyard. As she turned around, she saw that the walls had various pictures of grapes, wine barrels and the likes. Some were paintings while some were beautifully cross-stitched pieces in frames. She was about to touch one of them when she heard Wade’s footsteps behind her.
“Would you like to sleep on the couch or in my bed?” he asked. Amara was distracted by the cross-stitched piece that she didn’t catch the joke in his sentence at first. “I’ll take the… wait a minute. Is that a trick question?”
Even though she was laughing as she followed him to his room, she pondered over their bedroom issue. It was only natural for husband and wife to sleep in the same room right? Sure the sex was great but what they had would be a purely contractual relationship or was it? She wasn’t sure anymore.
“So, where’s this owner that has so graciously let you stay in this room?” she asked when they entered a spacious room with a king sized bed in the middle. “He or she is sure generous to provide you with such a big room.”
Wade smiled as he sat on his bed. “Isn’t he? He’s really charming and witty too. Oh and did I mention handsome?”
Amara raised an eyebrow. “You can’t be gay right? Don’t tell me I’m marrying a bisexual man.”
Wade gave a loud laugh and lay back on the bed, stretching out. “What do you think Darling? I didn’t hear you complaining the other night.”
“Complaining about what… oh,” she replied, realizing what he meant. Trying to cover up for her sudden blush, she slumped herself on the bed beside him and gave a long sigh. “I doubt I’ll be jealous of another man. Plus, we could share him.”
Wade who had his eyes closed suddenly flared them open. He knew that she was joking but he was suddenly consumed by an uncontrolled bout of jealousy. How ridiculous! He rolled over and got on top of her, much to the surprise of both of them.
“I want only you,” he growled fiercely before his lips pressed possessively over hers. The intensity of his kiss melted any protest that she was having at the moment. She wrapped her hands around his neck and felt her body respond to the heat of his body. It shocked her as to how much she desired him too.
When he finally pulled away from her, both of them were left gasping for air for a few seconds before their lips sought each other’s again. As they deepened their kiss, her fingers impatiently began to unbutton his shirt, literally tearing the material away from his body. Wade pulled her up to a sitting position and helped her out of her blouse before reaching to unbuckle her bra. Their hands hungrily explored each other’s bodies; hers fanning over his lean, taut body and his hands fondling her breasts.
“God, Wade… you make me so hot,” she purred as his lips moved towards her neck, nipping her skin between his teeth gently.
A good hour later, Amara curled herself into Wade’s embrace as they tried to catch their breath. She loved the way he smelled; no cologne could replicate the scent of a satiated man’s pheromones. Correction: no cologne could replicate the scent of Wade’s pheromones. His scent made her squirm with lustful thoughts. She smiled to herself as she trailed her fingers carelessly over his chest.
“Give me a minute to catch my breath,” he commented with a laugh. “You’re insatiable.”
Amara grinned and looked up to examine his face. Without her realizing, his face had become one that she was becoming accustomed to seeing every day. He was starting to have a slight five o’clock shadow which she found really sexy, especially since it framed his lips perfectly.
“Wade, open your eyes please,” she said.
“I want to look at them.”
“Because I can’t see you,” he protested.
“But I can see you and that’s enough for me, for now,” she replied, caressing his cheek gently, coaxing him to open his eyes. When his eyelids fluttered open, Amara found herself staring at the most intense pair of brown eyes she had ever seen. The rim of his iris was a deep brown but it lightened to a light hazel hue as it neared his pupil. To her, his eyes seemed perfectly normal.
“How badly impaired is your vision Wade?” she asked gently, caressing the undersides of his eye with her thumb. Wade smiled.
“I can sense light and I see various hues that light emits from people but other than that, I can’t see anything. It’s not a corneal problem but an injury on my optic nerve you see, so I can’t capture an image well enough for the brain to process.”
“I’m sorry Wade… It must have been hard for you,” she whispered before planting a soft kiss on both his eyes. “But as I’ve promised, I’ll get you the best doctors there are to help you see again.”
Wade didn’t say anything but simply closed his eyes to stop the tears that were threatening to escape his tear ducts.
“And when I can see again then what, Amara? Once the payment is done, does that mean this whole marriage thing can end?”
Amara pulled back in surprise.
“No! Of course not. Why do you say that?”
“This is our agreement isn’t it? I lend you my last name to get that creep off your back and you provide me the resources to get my sight back. Once these two deeds are accomplished, we can go our separate ways right?”
Amara opened her mouth in shock. She couldn’t believe this man. Did all the love-making and passionate kissing mean nothing to him? She narrowed her eyes angrily at him and entangled herself from his embrace. Throwing back the covers, she stormed furiously towards the adjoining bathroom.
Wade turned his face in the direction of her footsteps and slowly opened his eyes. For a moment, he caught sight of a sexy pair of buns sashaying, albeit angrily, away from him. He blinked a few times to assure himself that he wasn’t imagining things but before he could take another look, the sound of his bathroom door slamming jolted his vision back into blurriness.
The next morning, Wade found Abigail setting up breakfast for him in dining room.
“I was surprised that you didn’t call to let us know you’re home, Sir,” she said stiffly as she laid a plate of French toast in front of him. Wade knew that his sudden arrival home was not the problem. It was having Amara around that seemed to upset Abigail.
“You should make her some breakfast too Abigail. She’s our guest… and she will soon be my wife,” he said gently but with just enough authority to stop her from protesting.
Abigail didn’t reply him but moved around a little more, plunking plates and glasses on the table before excusing herself to tend to the harvested grapes. Wade shook his head and bit into the toast. He knew Abigail well enough to know that she disapproved of Amara because she was well… not Cassie.
Wade didn’t like to think of Cassie much these few days. It made him feel like he was cheating on Amara and they weren’t even married yet. He didn’t want to compare them both and knew that it was an insult to Cassie’s memory to try and replace her.
Did he love Cassie? Maybe; he wasn’t sure anymore. Guilt, more than anything demanded that he should at least love her. Even though their marriage was meant to solidify the business partnership that their families had, Wade cared for her. He used to think that it should have been him who died instead of her in that car accident. All that youth and vitality wasted; where she had dreams, he had only bitter resentment towards his father for forcing him into the marriage and the running of the business.
Wade felt guilty to be alive and during the first years of his blindness following the accident, he had thought of nothing but death. He had stood over that cliff many times as Amara had, contemplating death but his wolf kept him alive; pushing him forward day after day.
And he was thankful for that; otherwise he wouldn’t have met Amara. He smiled when he heard her footsteps walking towards him, her wet hair smelling of her usual tangerine shampoo.
“You brought your own toiletries?” he asked.
“Yes I did. It’s better for me to use my own things so I will not disturb yours. I might place your shampoo or toothbrush wrongly and it would screw up your whole bathing routine.”
Wade raised his eyebrow in appreciation and gestured for her to take a seat.
“Have some breakfast,” he offered. Amara frowned as she looked at the table.
“You don’t mean your scraps of toast do you? It’s okay. I’ll manage. So where is this cute owner? Your boss, I mean.”
Wade almost choked on his tea. “Why?”
“I was wondering if he’d like to hire an extra pair of hands to work in his winery.”
“You have no experience whatsoever.”
“I’m a fast learner,” she insisted. Wade could hear her heating oil in a pan. He had to get out of this sticky situation fast.
“You could always open up a private practice here,” he suggested. “This whole wine business will make those beautiful hands of yours coarse and ugly.”
He heard her give a long sigh before she replied. “I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t want to scratch you with my hands. I mean you should see my body right now. It has a million scratches from your coarse and ugly hands.”
Wade knew that he was trapped now. His hands were smooth as a baby because he never worked the fields. He merely supervised the day to day operations.
“I’ll talk to the owner for you once we’re married. How about that?” he suggested instead. “Why don’t you sit down here for now and tell me all about this Jason fellow.”
Immediately he knew his plan had worked when he heard the clank of metal inside the sink.
“That jerk?” she asked as she settled in the chair beside him. “What do you want to know about him?”
“Maybe you can start by explaining why you still went after a married man.”
The moment she started talking, Wade knew that she had kept all the anger, pain and sadness welled inside for much too long. She needed the release and at the moment, everything seemed to pour out of her like a broken dam.
“You make it sound like it was my fault… But I guess in a way it was. I saw the signs you know? The sudden important call he had to take outside; taking only his private, screen-tinted cars and booking flights and hotels under my name. At first I didn’t mind… I was in love… or I thought I was and I forgave him. I believed all his excuses and all his lies. He’s an A/P so I understand the whole discretion thing. It was only when I found that pig head outside my apartment did I know about the wife.” She took a swallow of her eggs before continuing. “He told me they were getting a divorce and that she was obsessed with him and that’s why she wouldn’t let him go. Those were all lies of course. She’s the daughter of one of the senators and his career was literally tied to hers. When I found out that he dissolved my police report against his wife, I understood then that his career stood before our relationship or me for that matter.”
“Then why the whole wild goose chase?”
“Jason is the kind of man who doesn’t like to lose. He was a hardcore prosecutor and he won many cases; put many people in jail. In a nutshell, he was the better liar, the better bullshitter in court. I suppose he didn’t like having his woman walk out on him like that. It was him who had the right to decide when his flings would end, not the other way round.”
“He hurt you…” said Wade under his breath but she heard him.
“He never laid a hand on me if that’s what you mean,” she replied. “But he was very possessive. He’d call me many times a day to make sure I was where I said I was. He’d check my phone on a daily basis and even went through my emails and such. He was paranoid that I was cheating on him. The biggest irony ever huh?” she asked with a laugh. “I don’t know why I stayed on… maybe I thought it was a sign that he loved me. I don’t know… I was always an advocate of working on problems and finding solutions. Relationships take a lot of effort and since he always found some flaw in me, I worked even harder to mend myself for our sake.”
Wade could feel his temper rising but he kept calm as he sought for her knee and laid a hand gently on it. He considered himself someone protective but possessive? No. But at that moment he was sure he would snap that man’s neck if he was right in front of him.
On the other hand, Amara was oblivious to Wade’s change in mood and continued talking.
“It occurred to me that I never had any friends because he never approved of them. So I guess you’re like my first real friend since I’ve gotten my life back. I’m grateful for that.”
Wade was stunned for a moment. He hadn’t heard that word for a very long time. He had left his friends and family behind; years ago when he decided to strike out on his own and heal on his own. He almost forgot what it was like to have a friend. Was what they had right now a friendship? Wade coaxed a smile. Friends sounded like a better status than business partners or contract lovers.
“Amara, whatever it is… I will never hurt you. Even if you drive me insane with your temper and foul mouth, I will never raise a hand at you or belittle you or hold you emotionally captive.”
Amara raised her eyes to look at him and smiled. “As strange and insulting as that sounds, it is reassuring to me.” She got up and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Mmm, it’s kind of early for you to have a stubble already isn’t it?” She turned his head left and right and mumbled to herself. “Sure it looks sexy as hell but I swear you were clean shaven when I came in the kitchen just now.”
Wade tensed. It must be his wolf’s natural reaction to the dropping temperatures. He wasn’t just going to grow a lot of hair but he was going to get fat too. It’s okay for a wolf but the excess blubber will literally boil him. He needed to go for a run right now.
“Will it be okay if you head down to Abigail’s place and ask her to show you around the winery? I’ve got to uh do some uh exercise.”
“I was about to say ‘what exercise’ when I realize you couldn’t possible have that kind of body if you don’t work out. Okay. Go do your manly things. I trust that you can take care of yourself because this is your home ground,” she said cheerfully but Wade heard the hint of concern in her voice. He smiled secretly to himself before walking out the door.
The moment he shifted, his body felt wondrous. To be able to stretch and run and claw at various things on the ground made his wolf yelp with happiness. Suddenly Wade stopped moving. It just occurred to him that for the longest time, he was the dominant consciousness in their conjoined body. Was it possible that those sudden flashes of sight was due to his wolf trying to take over? Technically it was Wade in his human form who got blind… but his wolf…
You wanted to see her didn’t you? Why? You never wanted anything before… Or were you trying to help me? She has a cute butt? That’s what you wanted to see? You… you want me to let you take over for awhile? Umm… okay. I guess you deserve it since you let me see her cute butt too.
Wade felt himself letting go. He emptied his mind of all his worries, letting his wolf instinct take over to guide him through the woods. All of a sudden he felt like he was sitting inside a car, looking out from the glass window. His wolf had open its eyes, letting him see for the first time in ten years.
The coniferous trees were no longer green but Wade found their bare frame beautiful and magnificent in the warm glow of the morning sun. He didn’t care anymore for the smell of the coming winter air or for the sounds of the birds chirping in the distance. He was hungry for more things to see and his wolf obliged.
It was only after a long run; hopping over rocks and puddles that he realized where they were.
She was simply god-sent; an angel in disguise. Her tall body was graced by a svelte figure that flared slightly at the hips. And her choppy hair that she thought was ugly suited her perfectly. He just wished that she would turn so he could see her face.
Unconsciously, he felt his body moving forward towards her.
No! What are you doing? She’ll get scared!
A while later, Wade felt his bottom resting on the ground and he felt himself looking up at her, wagging his tail like a domesticated dog. To his surprise, she didn’t recoil but looked down at the wolf curiously.
“Are you a wolf or are you a dog?” she asked. After pondering for awhile, she laughed, “You must be a husky. Such a good boy,” she cooed, fluffing his fur. Wade heard his wolf give a satisfied whine. She was squatting down now, staring straight at him, rubbing her nose at his snout. Was this woman for real? Who kisses strange animals?
Suddenly the door flung open and Abigail came out, only to give a scream while pointing at Wade.
“What is that thing doing here!” Wade knew that she was directing the question at him.
“Oh, he’s not yours?” asked Amara. “He must be a lost dog then. I don’t suppose anyone’s been looking for their Alaskan husky around here have they?”
Wade rolled his eyes. For a doctor, she really didn’t know a lot of things.
“That is a wolf not a dog! Get away from her now!” said Abigail sternly but Wade felt his body still rooted stubbornly. In fact his wolf was growling at Abigail. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“It’s okay Abigail. He doesn’t mean any harm. Maybe he’s injured. I’ll take him back to the main house if that’s alright with you?” Wade watched Abigail’s face turn from a scowl to a look of pure shock before a smile sneaked at the corners of her lips.
“If she’s not afraid of you then you should follow her,” she whispered softly before closing her door.
Wade wanted to follow Amara but his wolf had other plans for it began walking away from her towards the woods once again. Wade protested and insisted but his wolf continued to ignore him until they reached the spot where he kept his clothes.
So that’s it? I have to go back to being blind again? That’s so unfair. What do you mean I should mate with her? Are you mental? She’s not my mate… and definitely not yours.
Over the next few nights, Wade would make sure Amara was sound asleep before he shifted beside her just to see if his wolf would lend him its eyesight. However the mean spirited creature was stubborn and only gave him few seconds of viewing pleasure if he made love to Amara.
“Stop moving around so much Wade,” said Amara sleepily as she turned to cuddle close to Wade. They had just had a round of fantastic sex and she was feeling rather loose-limbed and in the mood for cuddling. “You really ought to shave…” she said as she grabbed a handful of fur and tensed. Her eyes suddenly flared open and she backed away with a sharp scream.
“Oh my God… Wade! Wade!” she shrieked and jumped off the bed to search for Wade’s body on the floor. When she didn’t find him, she headed towards the door. Wade could scent her fear… but it wasn’t for herself. She was fearful for him.
With a heavy heart, he shifted back into his human self and called out to her. Amara’s eyes were as wide as saucers as she stared at Wade. Just a moment ago there was a wolf on her bed and now there’s a man… there’s a Wade. She didn’t move from her position but backed herself until she felt the door behind her.
“So now you know…” said Wade, pulling his blankets up to his chin. Amara could hear the hurt in his voice. Letting part of her fear go, she tiptoed back to the bed and peered at him. “I know you’re looking at me. Don’t look at me like that!”
“It… it was you…” she muttered, climbing onto the bed.
“Yeah… it was me that day in front of Abigail’s house.”
Amara came closer and did an unexpected thing; she hugged him close, pressing his head against her chest. “No… I mean it was you who stopped me from jumping. I... Thank you,” she whispered and kissed his forehead. Wade curled closer to her.
“You’re not afraid?”
“No I’m not. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“So Mr. Spencer, are you intending to get married to Miss Winters to get a green card?” asked the officer.
Wade gave a laugh. “I have no intention of living here when I have my own property in England.”
“I understand that you suffer from blindness due to an optic nerve injury. Were you intending to marry Miss Winters to benefit from her connections with the medical community?”
“Please, officer. That’s just plain insulting. As you can see from my financial records I could have undergone a surgery any time I wanted but I didn’t. Whether or not I choose to use her connections has nothing to do with me wanting to get married to her. We could just be friends and I’d still have those connections.”
The officer nodded, scribbled something on his forms and then leaned back in his chair.
“Miss Winters must really love you to be willing to live with a blind man for the rest of her life.”
Wade smiled. “I love her enough not to be a burden to her for the rest of her life. Is that all?”
“Yes. It seems all the papers are in order. Just wait here a moment.”
Wade heard the officer get up from his chair and leave the room. Wade leaned back in his chair and shook his head. He couldn’t believe that he just admitted that he loved Amara. It was the first time he had ever said it out loud…
Meanwhile, Amara was having a bit more trouble with her interviewing officer.
“Did you offer Mr. Spencer any forms of inducements to persuade him to marry you?”
“I… I wouldn’t use the word inducements but I have told him that I know good doctors who can help him regain his eyesight.”
“And do you think that’s the reason why he’s marrying you?”
“No! Of course not!” Amara heard the desperate tone in her voice and prayed that the officer would overlook it.
“Does he love you?”
Amara tried not to look away from the officer’s gaze. God! She wished she was the blind one right now. Wade had never said he loved her… what if he said no to the other officer? She couldn’t just lie right?
“I think it is enough that I love him… yes, even if he’s blind. He is so much better than all the perfect men put together because he sees the world differently and with more compassion and attention than anyone else.”
The officer didn’t say anything but nod her head and pout her lips as she made some notations on her forms. After a long while, she looked up and smiled.
“Ok, Miss Winters. You may proceed to the marriage licensing counter.”
Amara tottered out of the interview room and automatically searched for Wade. Unlike her, he was surprisingly calm. “You don’t sound too good,” he commented when she plopped next to him.
“She was a real Nazi I tell you. Grilled me like a squid.”
Wade gave a chuckle and reached out to find her hand and linked it in his. “Now you’ve made me crave for seafood marinara.” When she didn’t reply, he gave her hand a squeeze. “You did great Darling. We’re going to get married in a little while. You should be cheerful. You’re the beautiful bride here.”
Amara gave his hand a squeeze back and waited until their names were called.
The registrar read to them the meaning of marriage and told them to exchange their wedding vows and rings if they so wish before signing their marriage certificates. Amara picked a random wedding vow template from the list that the registrar handed her and began to read it. After a few lines she frowned.
“Wade, do you have any vows you want to say to me?” she asked instead.
“Ah, as a matter of fact I do.”
“Crap. Then I’ll just read this shit.” The registrar cleared his throat and Amara mouthed a ‘sorry’ to him. “So blablabla… I promise to cherish and love you for as long as I live… blabla… promise to do my wifely duties to the best of my abilities blabla. Seriously… this is ridiculous,” she said and shuffled the list back to the registrar. Turning to Wade, she held both his hands in hers.
“I want to say thank you Wade for being my first true friend and more to me. I will always be grateful to you and I’ll take care of you as I’ve promised; even if I throw my temper around and annoy the hell out of you along the way. I promise to do my wifely duties every night for as many times as you want… Oops, sorry Sir. Didn’t mean for you to hear that. Oh what? You mean he has to go first? Shit.”
Wade was cackling with laughter. Only Amara could turn such a formal and serious affair into something so hilarious. Despite her rather unorthodox choice of words, he found them very reassuring and also very sincere. That was enough for him.
When the registrar told him it was his turn, Wade reached inside his pocket for the ring he had been waiting to give Amara and searched for her left hand. He could tell she was shocked for her hand tried to resist as he slipped the ring into her fourth finger.
“With this ring, I pledge my life to always protect and treasure you to the best of my abilities. Even without my sight, I know that you are beautiful inside and out. Your beauty captured my heart from the moment I met you and I know that you will continue to mesmerize me every day. Most importantly, you’ve never treated this poor, blind gardener with disdain nor pity and never once made me feel helpless. To that, I owe you my greatest gratitude. To me, you’re the best thing that ever came into my life.”
Amara was crying. She was touched by his words and felt awful for making a mess out of her own vows. Plus she was wearing a ring! She hadn’t even thought of getting him one. Oh god, she was such an ass. As she wiped her tears, she was thankful that Wade couldn’t see her horrible face at the moment. She was sure that she looked all red and blotchy.
They didn’t say anything to each other as they signed their certificates and it was only when they got into a cab that she spoke.
“You shouldn’t have gotten me a ring Wade...”
“It must have cost you a bomb! I mean it. We’re going to sell it back tomorrow. I refuse to accept anything from you.”
Wade put his arm around her and pulled her close to him. “You should afford your husband these few little pleasures. That ring symbolizes that you’re my wife and I want you to have it with all my sincerity.”
“But Wade…” she protested and felt his fingers brushing gently over her lips to stop her.
“Don’t worry about it. My financial statements are in the folder in your bag. You’ll see that buying the ring would not make me a pauper.”
She didn’t respond this time but leaned her head on his chest. She was suddenly tired and feeling too emotional to argue with him. She’ll just look over his papers later on. It wasn’t important now.
Amara looked at the ring on her finger and felt her heart perform a double flip. She was still getting used to the fact that she was a married woman. Whatever her philosophy on marriage was, she was still a woman who used to have dreams of her wedding since she was a little girl. Even though she knew that their marriage was not based on love; at least for him, for she found herself falling more in love with him day after day, she wanted to make it work and make it last.
That was why she was in her office on New Year’s Day to clear out her things. It didn’t make her sad to leave the practice. She was happy. She was going to move to England to be where it was most comfortable for her husband.
With the last of her things packed into boxes, she took the opportunity to stretch on the sofa in the reception area. To her surprise, she saw that someone was already sitting there waiting for her.
“What the fuck are you doing here? You’re trespassing. I’m calling the cops,” she said, trying to keep her breathing level.
“Lovely Mara… please. Is this how you greet your lover? I’m sure the cops will understand this as a… household dispute and leave with no charges.” He looked at her intensely before getting up. “Besides, I am the attorney who handles all your complaints and allegations from your clients. I have a key.”
“Whatever,” she hissed and turned back to her office. Apprehensive of the argument that was about to ensue, she slipped her finger into her pocket and turned on the recording feature on her phone. She heard Jason following her and tried to slam the door at his face but he was too quick for her. The moment he entered her office, he frowned.
“Where are you going?”
“None of your fucking business, Merrick. You have no right over me anymore. It’s over between us. Over!”
Jason moved closer and grabbed her by the arm.
“Please Mara… you have to believe me. I’m really getting a divorce. I’ll show you the papers. I want you back in my life Mara. How can you be so cruel to me?”
“For godsake! Leave me alone!” she screamed and dashed out of her office. She lunged herself out the main door and found a woman staring at her with the most vicious look in her eyes.
“You bitch!!” the woman screamed and began pulling at Amara’s hair. “I’ll tear off your hair and kill you!” Seconds later, she gave another shrill cry when Jason came out of the door. “You! You lying bastard. I’ve caught you this time. You and this whore you’re fucking behind my back! I’m going to kill you!” she screamed, pushing Amara to one side and rushing towards her husband.
The force of her push caused Amara’s head to bump slightly against the wall and she fell in a daze. She could still hear them arguing but she could not pay much attention.
“Need to get away…” she mumbled under her breath and tried to crawl but she felt a woman’s hands pulling at her hair again.
“Now tell me Jason! Tell me what you were doing with this whore?” she screamed. Amara wished she could just shut the hell up. She’d have punch her if she wasn’t in such a daze.
“I… it’s not what it looks like Darling… really! I swear on my mother’s grave!” he stammered. “It was her! She lured me to her office! I thought it was all business but she wants me back! I swear Baby… I swear! She wants me to run away with her. See her office for yourself! She’s packed!”
The enormity of his lie made Amara’s blood curl. She forced herself to stand up and jabbed her elbow against the woman’s stomach. The woman gave a loud cry and let her go. The moment she was free, Amara ran over to Jason and punched him in the middle of his face and kicked him, once again in the groin.
“Fuck you both!” she said with a spat.
“You bitch! You attacked me!” screamed the wife, crouching on the floor in pain.
“Oh please. The security tapes will prove that you attacked me first and I was acting on self-defense.”
“I’ll sue you for assault on my husband then,” she screamed back.
“Sure. Security’s going to be up in another minute or so. But first I want you to hear this for yourself. Your husband is a lying bastard.” Amara took out her phone and replayed what he had said to her in her office.
“You bitch!” he shouted, trying to grab her phone but his wife had gotten up to stop him.
“Is that true what you said to her Jason?” she asked, pulling at his tie.
“No! She’s lying! That’s a fake recording!” he insisted.
“Oh please stop it you fucking retard. She’s not stupid. She saw the timing and date of the recording. In fact she knows that with this recording and our security cameras up there, I can charge both of you with assault and intended bodily damage.”
Jason glared at her and felt his wife’s sharp slap on his cheek. Then she turned and looked at Amara fiercely.
“If I find out that that recording is a fake, I won’t hesitate to make your life a living hell. You hear me?” she threatened.
Amara nodded and lifted her hand to show her the ring.
“See here? I really am not interested in your husband. Not one bit. I’m already married and I love my husband very much. I know you’ll check it up so I’m telling you, please do. And please, keep your husband away from me or I will press charges. I’ll even file a restraining order. Please.”
Jason’s wife stood dumbstruck for a moment before she nodded. Amara saw in her eyes the relief and humiliation of having to strike a bargain with her husband’s former mistress.
At that moment, security exited the lifts and approached the three of them.
“Dr. Winters, is there a problem here? We saw the fight. You two! You’re trespassing! We will need to escort you out.”
“I’ll walk by myself,” said Jason’s wife in her haughty upper class tone. One of the security guards followed behind her as she entered the lift.
“Come on,” said the other guard, taking hold of Jason’s hands.
“You’re a stupid bitch Mara. You think you’re so happy with that blind man? He’s lying to you,” said Jason, laughing hysterically. “You’re attracted to lying, controlling men Mara. That’s just your curse.”
“That’s enough now. Sorry Dr. Winters. We’re leaving,” said the guard, pushing Jason towards the lift. Jason was still laughing as he entered the lift.
“He’s married Mara! His wife is called Cassie. Married married married!” he shouted as the lift door closed.
Amara sank to her knees and began to cry. Her head was still throbbing from the crash against the wall. She curled herself into a ball and tried to push everything out of her mind. When she calmed down, she went back inside her office. This time, she locked the main door and secured the bolts to ensure no one would come in without her authorization.
She sat on the floor of her office and reached for her folder bag. She found the papers that Wade had passed her for their marriage registration and began to look through them carefully. She hadn’t even peeked at them before they got married because she trusted him and felt that a poor, blind man wouldn’t have anything to hide from her.
How wrong she was.