Apple of My EyebyArtForm©
NB: Hi everyone! This is my Valentine's Day Contest entry for this year. I'm very excited about this submission because it's my first time and I absolutely loved writing this story out.
Many thanks to my ever efficient editor wildheartedangel for her efforts and contributions.
If you enjoyed reading, don't forget to vote!
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."