Letting out a long breath, he remembered all the training he had put himself through. Money could get you anything you want, it opened doors that were usually closed, or sometimes even non-existent.
After a few calls and using some of his brother’s old connections, he had found the man he was looking for and travelled all the way out to the Sonoran Desert to seek him out.
Hunter was a different man now. He could feel the change, looking back at the person he was only months ago as though he were a stranger.
If his brother could see him now, he thought. He would be proud, he told himself.
Every moment in his life had been moments wasted. Time he could have spent trying to find purpose. Instead, he had been perfectly content spending his life under the umbrella of the Hunter name, in the shadow of his brother’s accomplishments.
All of his life until a few months ago had been a waste. A waste of life.
So many more years could have passed with him living his life exactly the same way he had been. Missing all the kinds of moments that define people.
Undefined with no character and without the ambition to go looking for anything that could change him and shape him into the kind of person he was now.
All because he fell into the street.
That day could have gone completely different for him. He could have fallen, and she could have been somewhere else.
He used to think he welcomed death. There had been nothing for him to live for. No reason for him to care about living or dying.
Until he saw her.
She looked like someone who lived outside of the world everyone else created. No makeup on, making no effort to conform to societies idea of what she should look like with a self-confidence that radiated off her.
Pulling him out of the road just in time to save his life, he waited. Expecting her to recognize him, he had been in a few trashy magazines that wrote he was well on his way to destroying his family’s name. Most women looked at him and saw dollar signs, and the kind of face that made being a gold digger that much easier.
She looked right through him. He had never felt more worthless than when her eyes skimmed over him and she began to walk away without saying anything to him.
It was wonderful. It intrigued him to want to know absolutely everything about her. She made that extremely difficult.
Now that he knew more about who she was, the life she had come from and the life she had lived, he knew why she was so hesitant to invite anyone into her life.
The man who had owned the private plane had given him her bag when he carried her off the plane. She had purposely left it there, all she was inside one bag just in case she didn’t make it out of Refuge alive.
Later, he had gone through her bag.
The woman he had decided to call Athena had little belongings. A few changes of clothes, mostly weapons, and a wooden box. What was inside the box intrigued him just as much as she did.
Nothing but names.
One of the names interested him more than the others.
From what he could make of who she was, he knew that box was full of the names of her victims. Athena had killed his father.
At first, that knowledge had torn through him. He was hit with a rush of emotions, unable to focus on just one. Then, after a long overdue visit to his mother, he learned more about his father’s character. His dear old dad wasn’t the man he always thought he was.
Athena wasn’t the kind of woman who knocked people off without good reason. She was someone who believed in justice, in levelling the playing field between the good and the bad.
His father, seemed to fall on the bad side of the scales.
It took him awhile to wrap his mind around that. His mother had told him that if she had known who he was going to become before she married him, she would have ignored the feelings she had for him and moved on. Her eyes got all glassy, and Hunter wondered just how much his mother had endured during their marriage.
We all endure pains inflicted by people we think love us. Those were the last words his mother said to him when he left her that day.
Steadying himself on the branch he perched on, he brought the scope up to his eye. The smell in the air caused his heart to pound anxiously against his chest. It was daunting, reminding him of the trauma he barely escaped.
A ghost, he marvelled in his newfound abilities.
The windows were all covered over, either by the dirt and grime of these woods or the boards pushed up against them from the inside.
The numbness in his legs was something he could easily ignore. He had already been ignoring it for over an hour.
Athena’s gun felt like it was at home in his hands. Letting out a breath, he resisted the urge to grin when the man he knew only as ‘Twee’ stepped out into the sim sunlight. Without pause, his finger pressed lightly against the trigger.
Twee crumpled to the ground before he could even prepare himself.
If there was one thing he had learned, it was that none of the orphans here at Refuge had been trained with guns, which was probably why Athena seemed so fond of them.
The silencer had hushed the sound of the bullet leaving the barrel. A pop had sounded through the air, it seemed loud to him in the silence, but the birds perched in his tree barely stirred.
All the torture he had endured at the hands of Twee, he was glad to see the world rid of him, but he wasn’t the one he was looking for.
Someone else stepped out, their eyes dropping to their fallen comrade on the floor.
Hunter pressed the trigger, the other body falling on top of Twee.
They would pile up, he would get rid of all of them if he had to.
It was a heartless thought. It was entirely possible there were orphans in there similar to Athena, just trying to escape a life they were merely trying to survive. He would never shoot a child. He just had to pray that no children stepped out into the clearing and made him decide what was more important.
Hours passed, the body count was already at seven before he saw the man he had been waiting for.
He walked out, staring at the pile of bodies for a moment.
“Gotcha.” Hunter whispered. He pulled the trigger.
The bullet flew through the air, sinking into the weak flesh of his knee. The same knee Athena had damaged when she had escaped this place as a child.
His groan echoed through the air as he grabbed onto his leg, all the veins and muscles in his neck exposed as he grit his teeth. Hunter watched him squirm for a moment before his finger caressed the trigger again. The bullet sunk into the opposite leg.
“The pain tolerance in this guy is crazy.” Hunter whispered to himself before letting out a long sigh. “Alright, enough playtime.”
The final shot flew through the air, sinking in the flesh between his eyes.