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Page 102

Author: Kirsty Moseley

Peter laughed, immediately pulling out his cell phone and dialling. “Dude, Ashton’s here. He bought Chinese food, and he said to get the hell out of his apartment so that he can seduce his woman,” Peter joked, laughing wickedly.

I smiled down at the floor. He had no idea how close on the money he was there with that statement.

As we stepped out of the elevator on our floor, I tried extremely hard not to speed walk with a huge grin on my face. My heart was slamming in my chest with apprehension. My hands were shaking with excitement as I balanced all of the bags in one hand and slid the key in the lock with the other. As I pushed open the door, Dean was walking towards me, smiling.

“Hey, Ashton, you have a good time?”

“Incredible,” I confirmed. “Any problems?”

He shifted on his feet, flicking his eyes over my shoulder for a split second before shaking his head. “Nope, nothing,” he replied.

I detected his unease, but at the same time, movement behind him caught my attention and my eyes landed on her. My world seemed to stop spinning as she leant against the wall, sinking her teeth into her bottom lip and fiddling with her hands. Air rushed out of my lungs. She was so damn beautiful. It seemed like every time I looked away from her and then saw her again, I fell more in love with her. They did say that absence made the heart grow fonder, but I’d never quite understood that phrase until now.

“Good. Food is next door. We’ll catch up later.” I put my bags down by the door and motioned for him to leave, but I was unable to take my eyes from the most beautiful thing in the world.

“See you later then,” he chuckled to himself as he left, closing the door behind him.

Bending down, I dug around in the top of my weekend bag, finding the single white rose that I’d bought for her at the airport. It was a little squashed and wilted from the trip, but hopefully she’d appreciate the gesture. Her gaze didn’t leave me as I walked towards her deliberately slowly, letting my eyes wander over her, taking her all in again, as if for the first time. She had a dazzling smile on her face. Her eyes shone with love and tenderness; I couldn’t look away from them. I stopped directly in front of her, our bodies merely inches apart. Neither of us spoke; I could feel the love swelling inside me, making my whole body tingle and my stomach tie up in knots.

Raking my eyes over her face, I realised then how tired she looked. Her eyes were slightly pink and shadows resided underneath. She hadn’t slept well at all this weekend, and had lied to me to cover it up. That knowledge almost killed me. The thought of her having a nightmare was tearing me up inside.

She was wearing one of my T-shirts and a pair of leggings, her hair was pulled back into a messy twist. Even sleep deprived, she looked incredible. Before I’d left, I’d memorised every little detail, every curve and line, the exact placement of the five little freckles she’d gotten from the sun on our vacation. But seeing them in the flesh now, I realised that the memory version of her didn’t even come close to doing her justice.

“Hi,” I whispered, knowing my voice wouldn’t work if I tried to speak properly.

Her smile grew even bigger. “Hi.”

I held out the rose. As her hand closed over it, she didn’t even look at it, her eyes never left mine. Unable to stop myself, I bent my head forward and captured her soft lips with mine just for a second, before wrapping my arms around her and hugging her tightly. Her arms looped around my neck, and her body sagged against mine as she pressed her face into the side of my neck and inhaled deeply. I smiled at the reason behind it. She’d once told me that I smelt like safety and home.

Her breath came out in a contented sigh as her arms tightened around me, clamping herself to my chest. “I missed you so much, Ashton,” she mumbled against my neck.

I grinned. “Not half as much as I missed you.”

“Really? Well then, you missed me a lot,” she teased.

I nodded in confirmation. “Hell yeah I did.” I bent my knees and held her tighter as I stood back up, lifting her off her feet. Instantly, her legs wrapped around my waist. I stalked across the lounge to the sofa, laying her down and settling myself on top of her, loving the feel of her under me. I had missed her so much that I couldn’t even put it into words.

With her fingertip, she traced the bridge of my nose, across my cheek and then her hand tangled into the back of my hair. “Did you have fun?” she asked, smiling.

I nodded. “I had a great time, Baby Girl. Thank you.” Lying on top of her was far better, if I was honest.

“I’m glad. So, are you not hungry for a change? You left the food by the front door,” she teased.

I shrugged, pressing down onto her, pinning her underneath me as I brushed her hair away from her face. “Yeah I am, but I’d rather lie here with you.”

Her eyes sparkled. “Wow, you did miss me, huh? Thank you for the rose,” she whispered, finally looking at it.

I laughed quietly, proud that it had taken her this long to actually look at it because she was too concerned with looking at me. “You’re welcome. So, you slept okay then?” I inquired, raising one eyebrow in challenge. I actually wasn’t sure if she would lie right to my face.

She bit her lip and nodded, averting her eyes. “Yeah, fine.”

I sighed and shook my head. “No you didn’t, Anna.”

A frown lined her forehead as her hand tightened in the back of my hair. “No, you’re right, I didn’t. But it doesn’t matter anymore. You’re home now,” she stated, tickling her fingers on the back of my neck.

I decided to let it go, there was nothing I could do about it now and I didn’t want to ruin the reunion by getting angry and lecturing her about something I couldn’t change. Sure, I wished she’d called me and I would have gladly come home to be with her, but I understood why she didn’t. Her selflessness was one of the things I loved the most about her.

“Yeah, I’m home now,” I whispered. I was definitely home, she was my home.

She smiled gratefully, and her shoulder relaxed as she guided my mouth down to hers. I moaned in the back of my throat, kissing her back immediately. The kiss was getting hotter and hotter by the second as our tongues danced in perfect synchronism. My body was on high alert, wanting things to go further. I longed to peel her clothes off and run my hands and mouth over every inch of her, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. My jeans were becoming tight across the groin as I struggled to contain my excitement. The way that Anna managed to wrap me around her little finger with one kiss should surely be illegal.

When I pulled back and broke the kiss a couple of minutes later, my lips were still tingling. Since the vacation, I’d been trying to keep my distance and give her space to miss me, trying to make her see that she wanted to be with me – but, much to my frustration, it hadn’t worked at all. My body was screaming at me, demanding that I lean in, close the distance and kiss her again, carry her to the bedroom and have her moan my name in that sexy way that she does. She was looking at me tenderly, her gaze travelling over my face. I smiled at the love and passion I could see shining in her eyes, the kiss had excited her too. I could practically feel the sexual tension in the air. I brushed a loose hair off her forehead, savouring the feel of her flushed skin under my fingertips. Just as I was about to give in to my body’s urges and kiss her again, her stomach rumbled loudly.

I laughed, grinning down at her. “Come on, let’s eat. I got you chicken chow mein,” I offered, pushing myself off her.

She smiled excitedly and followed me out to the kitchen, wrapping her arms around me from behind as I served up the food. “Next time I buy you something that you have to travel for, I’m coming with you, okay?” she mumbled into my back, slipping her hand up my T-shirt and teasing the small patch of hair beneath my navel.

I smiled at her words. “That’s absolutely fine with me, Baby Girl.”

She sighed contentedly. She was pressed so tightly against me that I could feel her heart beating against my back. I turned and wrapped my arms around her waist, dipping my head and kissing her forehead. Everything fell back into place. The piece of me that had been missing over the weekend had now returned, making me whole again.

Chapter Forty

~ Anna ~

The call for our flight cut through my fuzzy, almost asleep brain. I raised my head off Ashton’s shoulder and looked up at the TV screen that now showed our flight was finally ready to board. We’d been camped out in the airport for the last three hours because it was delayed. My head pounded because I’d just dozed off for ten minutes before the screechy speakers had announced we were ready to board.

Ashton smiled over at me sadly with those beautiful eyes that I would give anything to pass onto my children. “Won’t be long now and then we’ll be at the Lake House, and you can go to bed,” he encouraged, as he stood and held down a hand to help me from my seat.

I hadn’t slept very well again last night. This time it wasn’t due to Ashton not being there though, it was merely because of what day it was tomorrow. Jack’s birthday. That was where we were off to now, the Lake House. I was going to pay my respects and visit his grave on his birthday. Of course, not everyone had wanted me to go there. My father was being sworn into office the day after Jack’s birthday, so I was expected to attend the ceremony. Plans had been made, without my agreement, for me and Ashton to fly into Washington tomorrow so that we could both attend a dinner party the night before my father was inaugurated. No one understood when I refused and said that I had to go and see Jack first. Everyone – even Jack’s parents – had assured me that Jack wouldn’t mind if I didn’t go this year and that I could go the day after, or just think about him without being at his grave. The only one that seemed to listen to me was Ashton. When I’d gone to him, crying, telling him how much it meant to me that I visit Jack, he’d arranged everything, talked my father into it, and even called Maddy to rearrange our flights. He’d been a superstar campaigning for me and what I wanted. As usual, I owed him a lot.

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