Author: Kirsty Moseley “Taylor?” he prompted, looking back Ashton. I looked at my new guard pleadingly, silently begging him not to say anything. Once the guards knew I went there when I snuck out, I’d never get peace there again. Ashton sighed. “Look, Anna would rather I not say,” he answered, sidestepping Dean and wrapping his hand around my upper arm. “We’re back now. I apologise, she apologises, let’s leave it at that. It won’t happen again,” he said sternly, giving me a gentle push in the direction of the house. As soon as we were inside the house, I pulled my arm out of his grasp. “I didn’t apologise,” I stated sarcastically. He laughed and nodded. “I noticed,” he replied, smiling. “So, considering as I just took one for you and kept your secret, how about you show me this lake?” I rolled my eyes. “You haven’t seen the lake yet?” He shook his head in response. “Come with me.” I turned and stalked towards my bedroom, listening to him trudge along behind me. When I got to my room I gestured towards my window and the beautiful view of the lake that I had. “There it is, Pretty Boy.” He laughed and rolled his eyes. “Right, well thanks, but I was thinking we could get a boat or something, maybe go for a swim? We need to get to know each other ready for next week. I know nothing about you other than what I’ve read in your file.” My heart sank. A file? I have a file? “What kind of file?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer. His face fell, and he shifted on his feet uncomfortably. “Er, well, you have a file that gave me all the information I need for my job. You know, like your schools, your routine. A brief overview of your character. It had some stuff about Jackson.” I stiffened. “Jack. He liked Jack, not Jackson. He hated being called Jackson.” I frowned down at my feet. “Right, okay. There wasn’t really that much in there about you and what you like and don’t like. If I’m gonna pretend to be your boyfriend, I figure I should at least know some stuff about you.” He bent his head, trying to catch my eye. I gulped. He hadn’t said anything about Carter, did he know about Carter? “Did it say anything about Carter in my file?” I asked, my voice breaking when I said his name. Bile rose in my throat. I hated to talk about him, my therapist made me talk about him which wasn’t good for my whole staying emotionless plan. He nodded. “Yeah it did,” was all he said. The frustrated anger came out of nowhere. “Right, of course it did. I should have known, I forgot that I’m not entitled to privacy anymore,” I snapped. A tear fell down my cheek, so I swiped it away angrily. I hated the fact that everyone knew; it was no one else’s business. “I’m sorry, Anna, I needed the information to help keep you safe.” Ashton took hold of my hand, squeezing it gently. I snorted, wrenching my hand out of grasp. “How the hell would knowing that stuff keep me safe? That’s private stuff, no one should know about it! I don’t want anyone to know!” I shouted, making him flinch. My blood felt like it was boiling in my veins. Everyone always thought they knew what was best for me, but in reality, they all just made it ten times worse. I didn’t need their pity. “It didn’t go into details. Just an overview,” he countered, frowning, looking a little concerned I was going to break or something. “Oh, it didn’t go into details? You want the details, Ashton? You want me to tell you why I wake up screaming every night? Want me to tell you how I tried to kill myself by slitting my wrists and the f**ker saved me just so he could live in some little, sick fantasy where we played house? You want to know that apparently he was in love with me, love at first sight he said? That’s why he killed Jack right in front of me, because he wanted me to himself! He had Jack beaten so badly that I can still hear the sounds of his bones snapping, I can still see the terrified look in his eyes just before they threw him over the fire escape,” I ranted, taking a shaky breath. Ashton had gone pale. “You want to know that exactly a week after my sixteenth birthday, he raped me and took my virginity? And then he raped me every day after that? You want to know that he got me pregnant and was so angry about it that he threw me down the stairs and then kicked me in the stomach repeatedly until I had a miscarriage? Huh, you want to know that? Shall I carry on?” I shouted. He flinched and shook his head; his eyes alight with both concern and horror. I couldn’t stop, it was pouring out of me now. “Did it say in my file that I didn’t leave his house the whole time I was there? That I wasn’t allowed to eat every day, that if I said something he didn’t like or didn’t do as I was asked, that he would beat me until I blacked out?” My chin wobbled at the memories. “Did it say in the file that he tried to be the perfect boyfriend? Or that he gave me everything a girl could ask for – designer clothes, shoes, purses, flowers, chocolates? I had laptops that couldn’t go on the internet. I had the latest cell phone that could only dial his number. He even got me a puppy which he let me keep just long enough for me to fall in love with it before he drowned it in the pool for peeing on the carpet. Every night in my dreams I see him kill Jack. He was murdered because of me. Did it say any of that in my file?” I asked venomously. “Do you want to know what hurts me the most everyday? The fact that I would have gone with him willingly if he would have just let Jack go. I would go through that for the rest of my life if it meant Jack could have lived. He didn’t deserve to die, especially not because of me,” I whispered, unable to keep the tears away any longer. “Anna, I’m so sorry,” Ashton croaked, stepping forward and wrapping his arms around me. I sobbed uncontrollably against his chest as his arms tightened around me. I’d never told anyone that; I’d refused to give the police any details, just the basic facts. I didn’t want to press charges against him because I couldn’t talk about it; I couldn’t tell anyone what he’d done to me. And that was the first time I’d ever mentioned the fact that I’d had a miscarriage. When I finally managed to calm myself, he pulled away and looked at me tenderly; his eyes were soft and warm and filled with compassion. “I’m sorry this happened to you, but I promise he won’t ever hurt you again,” he said fiercely, his jaw becoming tight. I shook my head at his words. “Don’t worry, Ashton, he can’t hurt me anymore, no one can. I have nothing left to lose,” I said honestly. This seemed to upset him, and a pained look crossed his face. “Don’t say that, I can’t hear that,” he whispered, looking at me pleadingly. I pushed him away and stalked to the bathroom, locking myself in and taking another shower to try and rid myself of the dirty feeling that always crept over me when I thought about Carter. Chapter Five When I got out of the shower, I felt much better. It actually felt good to have said all of that out loud, for someone to finally know some of what I went through. I never thought it would, but saying the words out loud took some of the anger away that was always boiling just under the surface. I sat on my bed wrapped in my towel. So far, Ashton had been nothing but nice to me, and I’d repaid him by blurting out all of that horrible stuff and being a bitch to him. My gaze fell on my drawer that housed my swimwear. I chewed on my lip. I somehow felt like I owed him something – and he wanted to see the lake. Maybe, just for today, I could cut him some slack. It would be nice to take in some sunshine, and I loved the lake too. I sighed as I made up my mind. Gripping my hair, I scraped it back into a messy bun before heading over to my drawers and pulling out my black, all in one swimsuit. After slipping it on, I covered it with a pair of baggy jeans and a long tee. When I knocked on Ashton’s bedroom door I heard bedsprings creak from inside before he opened it, seeming surprised to see me. I smiled awkwardly. “Hi.” “Hi,” he replied softly. He still looked upset. I took a deep breath. “So, I’m sorry I went off on one at you. I shouldn’t have said all those things to you, that wasn’t fair of me, so I apologise.” He smiled weakly. “You don’t have to apologise, Anna. I want you to be able to tell me things and trust me with it. I promise I won’t say anything to anyone if you don’t want me to.” I nodded. “Thanks. Well, I was wondering if you still wanted to go for that swim.” I winced, waiting for him to tell me to take a hike or something for being such a bitch to him. Instead, he grinned and his whole face lit up. “Yeah, I do,” he said cheerfully. “Okay, well I’ve asked Sarah to take you,” I teased, laughing. “Ha ha, you’re hilarious,” he muttered sarcastically, reaching for my hand and giving me a tug into his bedroom. I glanced at the bed; the pillows were propped up against the headboard, and my book was face down on the middle of the bed. I grinned and pointed to it. “So, where you up to?” “Edward and Bella have just arrived at the baseball field,” he replied, going to his drawers and grabbing a pair of black shorts. “I’m just gonna go put these on. You need to get a swimsuit on or something?” he asked, heading towards his bathroom. “No, I’ve already got mine on,” I answered, shrugging. “Oh yeah? What would have happened if I’d said I didn’t want to go?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. I shrugged easily. “I would’ve taken Dean. He was obviously feeling left out earlier. He wouldn’t turn me down,” I joked, smiling at him. He laughed and shook his head. “I wouldn’t turn you down either.” He smiled and then disappeared into the bathroom. I sat on his bed and grabbed the book just for something to do. He had his page marked so I flicked it open and a photo fell out that he was using as a bookmark. I turned it over to look at it. It was of him and four other guys. He had his arm around a blond guy next to him; they were all grinning and laughing, but that wasn’t the reason why I couldn’t look away from it.