Note: This is the first story in a series of four.
His ears perked up at the sound of soft steps on the gravel stones outside the cabin. Bruce jumped up, moving around the dark room quietly, which is surprising for his big stature. Knowing the place like the palm of his hand, it took him no effort to locate the gun in the room’s dark corner.
He now heard the steps on the wooden porch, and they hesitated briefly at the window. Bruce saw the silhouette of the person outside, where he stood with his back pressed against the wall next to the only door of the cabin. Someone peered in, or tried. Everything inside was dark, except for the fire burning out of the line of sight of the intruder.
Who was here? Was his past catching up with him? Could it even? He had covered his tracks carefully in the past five years since… it… happened.
His fingers briefly brushed the scars on his face as he remembered that fateful day in his senior year at university. The day of the party. They all had too much to drink and fooled around with spray cans and lighters. It wasn’t the first time they did that, and they all knew it was dangerous. They were outside, which gave them a false sense of security, and the booze made them feel invincible.
Everything changed that day. Shards of memories shot through his mind. The fire. Him on the ground, coming to after having passed out from too much beer. Or was it shock?
And… the pain.
The right side of his face was on fire, as were his neck and shoulder. He even remembered the blissful feeling when the pain disappeared and he drifted back into blissful oblivion.
When he came to days later, she was there, hissing how much she hated him for having killed his mate, her fiance. How she hoped he burned in hell for ruining her life.
She called him a beast, and when he saw himself in the mirror, it was all he saw: a beast.
He had checked himself out of hospital when no one looked, and disappeared after withdrawing all funds from his savings account, and ended up in this cabin.
The door knob turning brought him back to the present. He flattened himself against the wall even more. A face appeared in a crack as the door slowly swung open. Only the long hair and slender hand resting against the door revealed it to be a woman, but her face was in the shadows with daylight coming from behind her.
She opened the door fully and set one foot inside. That’s when he barked: “Get out!”
A shriek escaped her mouth as her face turned towards him. He saw more of her face now. She was a beauty.
“Please help me,” she said, her eyes narrowing, straining to see him in the dark.
“I can’t help you. Get out!”
She mumbled something about her car breaking down and her being lost as she tried taking a shortcut through the woods to reach the next town. He snorted, not believing her, and once more told her to leave, but she stepped closer to him.
He lunched forward, grabbed her wrists, turned her around and trapped her between his body and the wall.
The fragrance of her hair stirred something in him. A longing. Though fighting him, she couldn’t loosen herself from his grip.
Bruce breathed in deep. He ran his free hand down the side of her body, taking in every curve.
“Let me go, you fucking beast!”
It was that one word that shook him from his reverie.
He let go of her wrists, grabbed her shoulders, and shoved her to the floor. She stumbled through the door and fell on her knees on the porch. Scrambling away, she cried out as she turned around: “What the f…?”
The words died on her lips. She stared. Not at the gun pointing at her, but at his face.
His scarred face.
Her eyes softened.
The anger he could handle.
That soft expression?
That threw him. Whether it was out of pity or understanding, he didn’t know, but whatever it was, he lost it.
Bruce scowled down at her, and spat: “When you look like a beast, you become one. Get up and get inside. Now!”
Note: This story first appeared on Medium, written for a prompt.