Author: Kirsty Moseley Ashton called me just after suppertime, asking about how it went with the lawyer, and what he’d said. I’d made light of it, not giving him the full story because I knew that he would just get angry if he knew that Carter’s side had me on their witness list too. I’d tried to remain emotionless, but Ashton just seemed to bring something out in me that I couldn’t control. In the end, I’d sat there, silently crying while he’d whispered soothing words down the phone, telling me that everything was fine and that I wouldn’t even get called up. When I finally got a hold of my emotions, I sniffed loudly, wiping my nose on the back of my hand. “So tell me about your day, was it fun?” I asked, needing to hear something positive for a change. “Fun doesn’t even cover it,” he answered. “The tour was great, and the cars… my God, I wish I’d trained as a driver when I was younger instead of SWAT. They clocked me at 143mph on the straight,” he boasted. My heart leapt into my throat and I immediately berated myself for buying him something so dangerous as a gift. “Damn it, Ashton! Were you supposed to go that fast? You could have been killed!” He chuckled wickedly. “I knew that would be your reaction when I told you that. You worry about me too much too, you know,” he teased. “Anyway, thank you so much for arranging this.” “You’re very welcome,” I replied, chewing on my lip. “So, are your boys having fun too?” “Heck yeah. Nate and Seth are talking about having me killed so they can have you to themselves.” “Those boys don’t interest me,” I answered honestly. Nothing and no one would ever steal my heart from Ashton. “Good girl.” I could practically hear the smile in his voice. “So, what are you doing tonight? Getting drunk I hope.” He laughed. “You’re always trying to get me drunk,” he teased. “I might have a couple, I won’t be getting smashed. You think I could call you when I get back and talk to you again before you go to sleep?” My lips twitched with a smile. “If you want to. But how do you know you won’t have some girl in your room?” It was half a joke, half serious. I knew there was a very good chance he would be sleeping with some random girl tonight. I couldn’t stop the jealousy that was coursing through my veins. Deep down, I knew I had no right to be jealous, we were just friends who pretended to be more – but that didn’t stop the ache in my heart when I thought about it. He sighed. “I won’t, Baby Girl.” I laughed incredulously, remembering something he’d told me once before. “Right, I forgot, you’ll be in her room so you don’t have to spend the night.” “Anna, seriously, will you stop? I don’t want another girl! Christ!” he snapped. I recoiled, shocked that he’d shouted at me. “I was just teasing,” I muttered. I hadn’t been, we both knew it, but suddenly I felt guilty for doubting him. “Look, just stop thinking like that, alright? I really hate it. I don’t want you thinking that I’m gonna be sleeping around just because I’m not there with you. I won’t.” His voice was sincere, and my guilt flared up again. “Okay. Sorry,” I frowned down at my bitten nails, chewing on my lip. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s change the subject, alright?” he suggested. I smiled and closed my eyes, grateful that the awkwardness could be brushed under the carpet. Our phone call lasted almost an hour, but it felt like merely minutes. At the end, he’d promised to call me later on, as soon as he was back in his hotel room. Once I put down the phone to him, I decided I would forgo sleep once again that night. I couldn’t take another nightmare on top of everything else, and I certainly couldn’t risk having another dream of Ashton, all broken and bruised. I busied myself sketching while Dean watched TV. From the corner of my eye, I could see him yawning but trying to cover it up. I closed my book and stood. “I’m going to bed, Dean. Goodnight,” I lied. He stood too, stretching. “Yeah, I think I will too. I’ll see you in the morning.” To keep up the act, I headed to my bedroom and changed into a pair of loungewear pyjamas before quietly listening to my iPod for an hour. When I figured that Dean would be asleep, I hesitantly crept back out into the kitchen, making coffee before sneaking back into the lounge to watch TV. At just after midnight, I got a text from Ashton. ‘Hey, Baby Girl. I’m sorry this is so late. If you’re still awake, call me. If I’m too late, then I’ll call you in the morning. Missing you like crazy x’ A goofy smile stretched onto my face as I dialled his number as quickly as I could. He answered immediately. “Hey! I didn’t wake you did I? I’m sorry it’s so late. Seth wanted to stay for another one, which then turned into two,” he grumbled. The sound of his voice made my sour mood lighten. “I told you that I didn’t care if you woke me up. You should have just stayed out and got smashed, made the most of your time. You haven’t had a drink for over four months.” He sighed deeply. “I didn’t want to stay out. It’s not the same without you there. I really missed you tonight.” “You did?” I snuggled down on the sofa, unable to curb my ecstatic smile. “Yeah. It was weird tonight. Usually when we go out, I have you to laugh and dance with but, towards the end of the evening, all the guys went their separate directions and I was left on my own talking to the barman,” he chuckled awkwardly. I frowned. “They left you? What for?” “They all went out on the hunt,” he replied casually. The hunt? Oh, like hunting girls! “Right, and you didn’t want to?” I asked quietly. “No, I didn’t,” he answered, just as quietly. I smiled as happiness built inside me because of his answer. We chatted easily for about an hour, about nothing in particular, he was just so easy to talk to. “I guess I should let you get back to sleep,” he said, just after half past one in the morning. I sighed. I hated lying to him but I was doing it for the right reasons. “Yeah. I miss you. Can’t wait for you to get back tomorrow.” That was the truth. Eight o’clock Sunday night couldn’t come soon enough in my opinion. I closed my eyes and imagined his handsome face as he walked through the front door. “Shall I bring us in some takeout?” he asked excitedly. I laughed wickedly. “You’re so excited about food!” “I’m not excited about the food, Anna; I’m excited to see you.” My insides fluttered. “Ashton, seriously, sometimes you are just too damn sweet.” “It’s true. Right then, I’ll call you tomorrow when we get to the airport,” he said, sounding like he genuinely didn’t want to hang up. “Okay, sleep well.” “I’ll try. Goodnight, Baby Girl,” he sighed. I disconnected the call and went into my bedroom, grabbing my vanity bag, deciding to paint my toe and finger nails, just so I would have something to do. I managed to keep myself awake all night, but I was really suffering by the morning. My eyes were stinging, my body was aching, and I’d already had about eight cups of coffee. Ashton texted me in the morning, hoping that I’d slept okay and telling me he missed me. I text him back, lying that I had slept fine. Dean looked at me a little concerned when he got up. “You sleep okay, Annabelle? You look like crap,” he commented at breakfast. I laughed weakly. “Thanks, that’s what every girl likes to hear. You should know I slept fine last night, I didn’t wake you up, did I?” I retorted sarcastically. He shook his head but continued to look at me strangely. Clearly he knew something was up. That day I did everything and anything in a bid not to sit down. I went to the gym and then I cleaned the whole apartment, scrubbing out the stove and even washing the windows, just for something to do. Ashton called briefly at four pm, but we barely spoke for five minutes because they called his plane. The time seemed to take forever to pass. Finally, at 8:17pm exactly, I heard the key twist in the lock and I got so excited that I thought I would die. Chapter Thirty-Nine ~ Ashton ~ As soon as I was off the plane and out into the warm Arizona air, I hailed a cab and headed straight for Anna’s favourite Chinese restaurant. Thankfully, we came here a lot, so I didn’t even need to place an order, just request our usual with the guy behind the counter. While I was waiting for my order, I sent a text to Peter and Dean, telling them I was back and that I’d be along in about ten minutes and that business was to be as usual once I arrived. I struggled not to tell Dean to get the hell out of my apartment so I could spend some alone time with Anna. I sat there watching the minute hand on the clock tick around. I was so excited to see Anna again that I could barely breathe properly. Finally, after forever and a day, the food was done and stacked into two bags. By the time I got back to our apartment building, Peter was standing in the lobby where he was supposed to be. A grin stretched across his face when he saw me. “Hey, have a good time?” I nodded. Of course I’d had a fantastic time, how could I not, but at the same time I’d missed Anna so much it was as if I’d left a piece of me behind. I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her and worrying about her. A thousand scenarios had rushed through my brain every hour of every day – every single one of them bad. I hadn’t been able to relax the whole time. “It was fantastic, nice to be back though,” I answered. “I got Chinese food. Why don’t you go up and eat with the other two then come back down again once you’re done?” I suggested, holding out the far guards’ bag of food to him. His eyes lit up. “Yeah? Great, thanks!” “Call Dean. Tell him that the food’s here and to get the hell out of my place,” I instructed, only half joking as we stepped into the elevator. I didn’t want to have to share Anna with Dean.