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Page 112

Author: Kirsty Moseley

If I didn’t love him so much, I would never have been able to cope with what I’d just done. In time, he would get over me and be back to his old self, his friends would help him through it, he would have his dream job, and in a couple of weeks he’d be right as rain. I, on the other hand, would feel this pain forever – but this was nothing compared to living with the knowledge that Ashton had been hurt or killed.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. I stiffened. I couldn’t let him see me like this. I wiped my face and took a deep breath. “What?” I huffed, trying to sound annoyed.

“Annabelle, can we talk?” Dean asked through the door. I pushed myself up and opened the door to see his sympathetic face. “Why did you do that if it’s upsetting you this much?” he asked, clearly confused as his eyes raked over my face.

I shrugged, trying to pretend that I wasn’t dying inside. “It needed to be done. I’m going to miss him, but I can’t give him what he wants. He’s in love with me, and I can’t love him back. It’s better if he’s away from me so he can move on,” I explained, lying through my teeth.

His eyes narrowed, clearly assessing me to see if there was some other hidden reason. “That’s why you sent him away?”

I nodded. “I can’t love him back; it wasn’t fair to keep leading him on. I asked for him to be transferred so he could get on with his life instead of staying here with an emotionless wreck,” I lied, swallowing my grief. “He complicates things with his feelings, and I can’t be dealing with any more complications now.”

He nodded slowly. “I can understand that, but you need him here to protect you, he’s the best one for this job. What with all of this Carter stuff, we need him here to lead,” he said, trying to convince me.

Wow, if only he knew that is the real reason I made him leave. “Dean, I’m sure you’ll cope. Ashton’s not the only guard in the world. I’ve requested you as my new near guard, I hope that’s okay with you,” I croaked, changing the subject.

“Yeah I was told, it’s fine. But, Annabelle, you really should think about this,” he pleaded, shaking his head in disapproval.

“Dean, it’s done, he needs this. You must see how he feels about me, he needs a clean break. I’m sure he’ll call you to try and get you to convince me to take him back, but that just won’t happen, so just stay out of it and let him get over me. I don’t want him to keep hurting and pining for me. I don’t want him to know that I’m missing him or upset. He needs a clean break.” I looked at him warningly, hoping that I made it clear and that he would help me by not interfering. I just prayed he wouldn’t tell Ashton I was crying.

He frowned. “Okay, I understand, Annabelle,” he admitted, nodding and looking at me fiercely.

“Great. Well, thanks. I’m gonna do some drawing.” I stepped back and closed the bedroom door in his face, ending the conversation.

I went over to the bed and flopped down on my back, staring at the ceiling, focussing on my breathing to stay calm. I grabbed a photo of me and Ashton from the bedside unit and looked at his handsome, smiling face. This was harder than I thought. I knew it would hurt, but the thought of never seeing him again felt like someone was killing me slowly. I pushed up off the bed and grabbed a suitcase from the closet and started to pack up his stuff, crying silently the whole time.

When I was done, I called my father again. There was something else that would afford Ashton some more protection. “Dad, I think we need to put out the truth about Ashton being my guard and that we weren’t actually together. It’ll be better in the long run if people know the truth, rather than thinking we’ve just broken up,” I suggested, grimacing. I knew it would hurt Ashton more, but at least it would keep him safer if Carter thought it was just an act. If Carter thought we were really together, he would hunt him down.

My dad’s defeated sigh blew down the line. “Okay, Annabelle, whatever you think. I’ll have someone draft a statement and have it released,” he agreed quietly.

“Thanks for doing this for me,” I mumbled gratefully.

“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me what this is about?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t. But thank you for trusting me,” I replied, willing myself not to cry anymore.

“Anytime, Annabelle,” he answered, ending the call.

The next few days were awful. We were splashed all over the papers and magazines; everyone knew we weren’t ever together and that Ashton was, in fact, a SWAT agent assigned to guard me. There were photos of him in the paper looking sad, his eyes cold and hurt, but he refused to comment on anything. Every day he tried to call me. I received about five texts a day, begging me to talk to him, telling me he loved me and that he always would. I didn’t respond. Whenever he would call I would reject it or turn my phone off.

School was extremely difficult. The three day guards I now had followed me around closely, drawing more attention to me every second of the day. Rosie and the guys asked about Ashton and couldn’t believe that he was a guard and nothing more. I changed back into the girl that didn’t allow anyone to get close to her. I barely spoke to anyone and shied away from all contact with people, just like I used to. Every night I would read through the texts that Ashton had sent me, looking at the photo of him, and then cry myself to sleep. I’d never felt so lonely in my life.

Chapter Forty-Five

~ Ashton ~

By the time I got home from the airport, my head was pounding. I was so stressed and worried that I could barely walk in a straight line. All I could think about was if she was okay. What if Carter had come for her while I wasn’t there?

I grabbed a cab and headed back to mine and Nate’s apartment. When I stepped through the door, Nate twisted in his seat and a confused frown slipped onto his face. “Hey, Taylor! What the hell are you doing here?”

I sighed, not having the words to explain that my life felt like it was circling the drain at the moment.

“Good to see you, buddy!” he chirped as I flopped down onto the sofa next to him. “You bring that hot little girl of yours with you again?” He eyed the door, as if waiting for Anna to make an appearance.

I closed my eyes and rested my head back on the sofa. “It’s over. She made me leave,” I mumbled.

He seemed to choke on air. “What the actual fuck? You two broke up?” he gasped.

I shook my head. I could probably tell him the truth now. It was official that I was no longer her guard, I’d seen the transfer document, there was no staying undercover after this. “We were never really together. I was assigned to protect her; they wanted me undercover as her boyfriend. We were never a real couple,” I admitted sadly.

He made a scoffing sound in the back of his throat. “Not together. What the hell are you talking about? I saw you two, you were all over each other. What do you mean you were undercover? I don’t get it.”

I rubbed my aching eyes with my fists, willing my headache to subside. “Officially, I was assigned as her near guard, her undercover boyfriend, but we got close. I fell in love with her. I thought she loved me too, but she just had me transferred away from her.” Tiredness was trying to consume me, my words all seemed to jumble into one, but somehow he understood me.

“Transferred?”

I nodded in confirmation. “Yeah, I’m back in LA now.” My voice sounded depressed even to my own ears.

“Why did she have you transferred? You do something wrong? Tell me you didn’t cheat on her. If you did, I’m gonna have to kick your ass for being a f**king moron,” he raised one eyebrow in question.

“I didn’t cheat,” I confirmed. “Everything was great, but then…” I swallowed, not wanting to divulge all of the Carter stuff. Actually, I didn’t even think I had the mental strength to explain it all to him properly. “I’m going to bed. I can’t talk about this now. I’ll see you in the morning.” I didn’t wait for an answer as I pushed myself up and stalked towards my bedroom, slamming the door behind me.

I flopped down on my bed and pulled my phone out of my pocket, staring at it in frustration when I saw no missed calls or messages from her sitting there. She was killing me; the pain was unbearable. Suddenly an idea occurred to me and my thumb swished through my contacts quickly.

Maddy answered on the second ring. I closed my eyes. “Hi, ma’am, this is Agent Taylor. May I please speak to the President?” I asked hopefully.

She sighed. “Hi. Yes, absolutely. He’s been expecting a call from you,” she replied.

I groaned. He knew I’d call, which meant that he wasn’t going to change his mind.

I was on hold for a few seconds before he spoke. “Agent Taylor, I know what you’re going to say. I’m sorry, but this is what Annabelle has asked for, I can’t go against her wishes,” he stated, without even saying hello.

My lungs constricted. “I understand that, sir, but what with Carter being out now and the letters… Sir, he’ll come after her, we both know it. It’s not a matter of what she wants, it’s a matter of keeping her safe,” I countered, trying to reason with his protective parental instincts.

“I know, I know. I’m not happy with this either, but she specifically asked me for this, she said she needed it to happen. I don’t suppose you can shed any light on the situation for me? Annabelle refused to give me a reason,” he requested hopefully.

I sighed. I didn’t even understand the reason myself, but I couldn’t tell him about our relationship and that I ‘complicated things’ according to her with my love sick puppy act. I refused to make things harder for her on purpose. She wouldn’t want her parents to know how close we had gotten, she was an extremely private person, and I respected that about her.

“Not if she doesn’t want me to, sir, I’m sorry. But please reconsider. I’m the best one to protect her. Please let me keep her safe,” I begged.

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