Just a couple of feet away there is a man on a horse, like a prince out of a fairytale, only the horse is a dull brown and the man doesn’t look very prince-like. He looks like he might be in pain as he moves slowly. His broad back bulges under a tight T-shirt and his legs look like steel in the leather pants.
He hasn’t realized I’m here yet, and I don’t really feel like talking to people today, so I retreat back into the clearing.
A stick snaps under my heel and both horse and rider turn to me abruptly. It takes me not even a second before I recognize the rider. Hunter. He may not be Prince Charming, but he definitely is a Prince of Darkness. There are bruises on his face and I now also see them on his arms. He looks… broken. I freeze in my spot, not daring to move, too scared to set him off. If he looks like that, I don’t want to end up on the other side of his fists.
Hunter slowly gets off his horse, letting out a hiss as he lowers himself to the ground. Only when he is standing right in front of me does he say something. “Lizzy.” His voice is rough, quiet, then he reaches up, almost touching me.
That finally breaks me out of my trance and I step back, shaking my head.
A smile tugs at his lips, but then he looks me over and I see the clouds gather in his stormy eyes. Fuck. “What are you doing here?” he asks.
What? Out of everything, that is what he wants to know? “It’s the weekend, there is a lovely sun out. What else am I supposed to be doing?”
The question seems to surprise him. He shrugs and lets out a sigh. “No clue.”
We both fall quiet. I can’t help but stare at the bruises. They look so dark, and so painful.
Hunter reaches out, takes my hand, and puts it on his jaw. I want to pull back, but he holds it there. “I’m not scary, or dangerous.” His low voice is pitched even lower and something stirs inside me.
He is though—he is scary, and apparently quite dangerous to someone, if the bruises are anything to go by. But I know that isn’t what he means. He means that he is no danger to me. And I don’t know how I feel about that… “And yet you are.” I quickly close my mouth and look away. He finally lets go of my hand as he lets out a laugh.
“I just make stupid choices sometimes, usually when I’ve had a bit to drink.” He steps back and reaches out to the horse, who pushes against him slightly.