Author: Kirsty Moseley It was like she’d reached into my chest, ripped out my heart and showed it to me. My blood ran cold. Her hard, resigned eyes never wavered as she spoke. “You’re lying. I don’t know why, but you are. You love me, I know you do!” I couldn’t let her do this; I’d show her that she loved me. Before she had a chance to answer or react, I stepped forward, pressed my body to hers and kissed her. It took me a couple of seconds to realise that she wasn’t kissing me back. I pulled back. Her eyes were still hard, her jaw tight. “Finished?” she snapped angrily. My mouth fell open in shock as she shoved me away from her. “Anna, don’t,” I whispered, now terrified because she looked so serious and resigned. She really did want me to leave. “We’ll work this out. If you’re not ready for a relationship, then I’ll wait. We can go back to just being friends. Just please don’t send me away with Carter on the loose,” I begged. “This is what I’m talking about! You’re not listening to me,” she spat, waving her hand at me in example. “I have to do what’s best for me now, and that’s coping with all this shit the only way I know how. I don’t need to be dealing with some emotionally draining love sick puppy too!” I didn’t believe her. Her words were harsh, hurtful and full of acid as she said them, but deep down, I knew that she loved me. This was about something else, something that I didn’t understand and that she didn’t want to explain to me. I decided to try another tactic. “What about what’s best for me? Have you considered me in any of this?” I shot back. Anger crossed her face as she slapped me hard in the middle of my chest. “Considered you? Of course I f**king have, you stupid,” she slapped my chest again, “annoying,” slap, “frustrating,” another slap, “son of a bitch!” With both hands she shoved me towards the door. “Just get the hell out. Go back to LA. Live your life, sleep with some girls, move on and forget the screwed up, little, rich girl that you f**ked a few times!” She yanked open the front door while I stared at her, dumbstruck. My tactic had apparently blown up in my face and had just succeeded in making her angry on top of resigned. “Anna...” I whispered, fighting for something I could say or do to make her reconsider. She needed me here. She shook her head as she looked up at the four new agents and Dean, who were standing outside the door, probably hearing every word of what had just gone on. “Make sure he gets on his plane,” she stated, pushing open the door before turning back to me. “I’ll pack up your stuff and forward it on in a couple of days. Goodbye, Agent Taylor. Take care of yourself.” She then proceeded to walk calmly into the bedroom, closing the door behind her, leaving me in the hallway with my heart in my throat. My mouth hung open in shock. I hadn’t even seen this coming. Everything was perfect before the news about Carter, and now she was trying to fool me into believing that she didn’t love me and that I meant nothing to her. It hurt like hell. Every muscle in my body was screaming for me to run after her and hold her. I couldn’t leave her, not now. Carter would come for her eventually and she needed me to protect her. A hand clamped on my arm, I looked down to see it belonged to one of the new agents. “Agent Taylor, my orders are to remove you by force if necessary. I’d much rather it not come to that,” he warned. I looked over at Dean, shocked. “What the hell just happened?” I asked, still confused at the turn of events. It didn’t feel real. It felt like a nightmare was unfolding in front of me. Maybe it is actually a nightmare, maybe I’m still sleeping… Dean shook his head. “I don’t really know, Ashton. The President called me and said that Annabelle had requested a transfer and that I’m taking your position. I was told I wasn’t allowed to tell you until the four guards arrived,” he replied, looking just as baffled as me. “But they can’t transfer me, you need me here! She needs me here!” I cried desperately. “Ashton, I said that to the President, but he said it was already done and that was the end of the discussion,” Dean explained, shaking his head sadly. “Damn it,” I growled. “Anna!” I shouted, turning to go back into the apartment again. Another guard grabbed my other arm. I looked at him warningly. “You’d better take your f**king hands off me if you still want to be able to use them,” I spat angrily. No one would keep me from my girl. Dean stepped forward quickly. “Ashton, just go to LA, call her later once she’s had time to think this all through. I’ll talk to her, but for now you need to go along with your orders. If you go against a Presidential order, then you won’t even get to come back here when she changes her mind again,” he suggested, looking at me pleadingly. I squeezed my eyes shut. “Just go. I’ll talk to her. You just do as you’ve been ordered,” Dean persuaded. I nodded, knowing he was right. LA was only an hour flight away from here, by the time I landed in LA, she would have cooled down and I’d fly back. It would be fine. A small part of me knew that it wouldn’t, but all I had left was hope. Anna was my life. I couldn’t be away from her, she was everything to me and she needed me to protect her. I turned to Dean. “Take care of her until I get back then,” I pleaded. “You know how important this girl is to me.” He nodded, smiling sadly as he patted my shoulder sympathetically. “Yeah, I do. Don’t worry. I’ll go talk to her right now. She may even change her mind before you get on the damn plane. You know what women are like, temperamental beasts, and Anna is the worst of them all, feisty little sucker her,” he joked. I didn’t have the words to answer so I just stalked to the elevator, pressing the button. Two of the four new guards took my flanks, watching me cautiously as if waiting for me to sneak an attack on them or something. Neither of them would talk to me on the way to the airport. Every time I asked anything, they just said they didn’t know. Eventually, I stopped asking questions and rested my head on the window, feeling my heart break a little more with every mile they put between us. When we got to the airport, they booked me onto my plane. The timing was perfect; I only had to wait thirty minutes before boarding. I sat on my own with my head in my hands, praying that Dean was right and that he could talk some sense into her before I even boarded. Out of sheer desperation, I grabbed my phone and called her, it rang a couple of times before she rejected it. I squeezed my eyes shut and called her again. Please answer, Baby Girl! Again, she rejected my call within a couple of rings. The third time it was turned off. Growling in frustration, I shoved my cell phone back into my pocket. My hurt was now turning into anger. She knew that I loved her; she knew that it would probably kill me being away from her and not knowing if she was safe or not, she would know that she was hurting me by doing this, but it was like she didn’t care. She’d spitefully told me that she didn’t love me, when we both knew that it wasn’t true. The only thing I couldn’t work out was why she was doing this. When the speaker announced that my plane was ready to board, I called Dean. “Hey, what’s going on? Did you talk to her? Has she changed her mind?” I asked as soon as he answered. He sighed. “No, Ashton. I’m sorry, she doesn’t want you here. I don’t think she’s going to change her mind today. She asked me to ask you to stop calling her,” he said quietly. I gripped my hand into my hair roughly. “Okay, thanks for trying. I’ll give her a day to cool off and then maybe she’ll talk to me. Watch her for me, don’t let anything happen to her,” I begged, trying not to imagine all the horrible things that could happen to her while I wasn’t there to protect her. “I will, Ashton. Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. Just give her some time to miss you, that’s all it’ll take,” he reassured me. I nodded knowing that, for the moment at least, it was hopeless. “Thanks.” When I disconnected the call, the two agents escorted me directly to my seat and even waited outside the door until it was closed and the plane had taxied out onto the runway. I closed my eyes, resting my head back against the seat as I prayed that Dean was right. I just needed to give her time to miss me; she would miss me, eventually. I’d just have to hope that the time apart from her wouldn’t kill me before she changed her mind. ~ Anna ~ I couldn’t look at him again; I couldn’t watch him leave, it was too painful. Each step away from him actually hurt more than the one before. Eventually, my weary legs carried me into the bedroom. I’d barely managed to get the door closed behind me before my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. My legs finally gave out and I slumped to the floor, crying silently. I felt sick; my whole body was shaking as I sobbed and sobbed. I knew I’d done the right thing; this really was the only way to keep him safe. But I just couldn’t get the image of his pain out of my head. The way his face looked so sad, so rejected, I knew I’d never be able to erase that look from my memory. I’d never seen Ashton look scared before, and I never wanted to see that look there again for as long as I lived. I heard my cruel lie repeating over and over in my head. “I care about you a lot, I really do, but it’s not love.” I kept picturing the exact moment that I broke his heart. How his eye twitched, his face dropped and his whole body seemed to slump when I said those words. All I had wanted to do was wrap my arms around him and hold him, explain to him that I loved him more than life itself, that I was doing this for his own good so he wouldn’t get hurt. But I hadn’t done any of those things; instead, I’d pretended Carter was standing there in front of me, remembering how much I hated him, just so I could convince Ashton that this was over. I needed him to believe me so that he’d be able to move on, be happy, and live his life. I sobbed even harder when I thought about the fierce expression that crossed his face just before he kissed me, almost like he thought that one kiss would make everything better, or would change my mind. My lips still tingled from the intensity of it. Staying in control and not kissing him back was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do, but somehow I had managed to hold onto the memory of the dream that I had a few weeks ago. I pictured his broken face and his groan of pain, and that was the only thing that got me through what had just happened.