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Page 128

Author: Kirsty Moseley

“I love it,” I whispered. And I did. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen, classy, not overstated, just perfect and something I would have chosen for myself. It was white gold, with three diamonds set into it – one bigger one in the centre and a smaller one either side.

“You do, honestly?”

I nodded, chewing on my lip, grinning down at him as I offered my shaky left hand to him. “It’s perfect. I’d love to wear it. Thank you.”

He grinned as he plucked the ring from the box before sliding it onto my finger. As he got to his feet again, he took my face in his hands and brushed my tears away with his thumbs. “Thank you, Baby Girl. I promise that I’ll do everything in my power to make you happy every day of your life,” he whispered against my lips just before he kissed me, stealing my breath and making my heart speed up uncontrollably.

I gulped. I just couldn’t speak. So much happiness was swelling inside me that I could barely cope with it all. It was too much. “I love you, Ashton Taylor,” I whispered, looking into his beautiful green eyes.

“And I love you, Annabelle Spencer.” He pulled me closer so that my body was pressed against his gently, as he ran his hands down my back with his forehead still pressed to mine. “I can’t believe you couldn’t wait though,” he said suddenly, shaking his head and laughing.

A blush heated my cheeks as I smiled apologetically. “You looked nervous; I thought it was something bad.”

He sighed. “Don’t assume the worst all the time. The worst is over. There are only good times for us now,” he said tenderly.

I smiled at his beautiful words. “Get that from a how to propose to a girl book?” I teased.

He nodded, smiling. “Yeah, you know I like those how to books,” he joked.

He pulled away and sat down, spreading his legs and patting the ground for me to sit between them. I sat obediently, leaning against him carefully because he was still covered in bruises. When his lips touched the back of my neck, I felt a little shiver of desire tickle down my spine.

I sighed contentedly and looked down at the ring that was now mine, tracing my thumb over the stones. “This ring is so beautiful,” I gushed. I’d never owned anything so special.

His arms wrapped around me so gently, it was as if he thought I was made of glass. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather me buy you something new? I have money saved,” he stated.

I shook my head adamantly and twisted so I could see him. “It means so much to me that you’ve given me your mom’s ring. Honestly, I feel so special.”

He grinned and kissed the tip of my nose. “You are special.” I chuckled and sat back down, reaching for two plates before scooping up a few M&Ms. “You do know that I won’t ever be able to give you everything you want, and I’ll never have the kind of money that your parents have, but I promise I’ll give you everything I can. I just hope it’s enough to make you happy,” he said quietly, sounding a little sad about it.

I turned to look at him and frowned. “You really think I care how much money you earn, or where we live, or what car we drive?” I asked. I was a little disappointed that he would think that of me.

“No, Baby Girl, I know you don’t. I just wish I could give you everything in the world,” he explained, his voice apologetic.

Now he was just being silly. “Ashton, all that stuff is nothing without this.” I pointed to his heart. “I don’t want anything else from you, apart from you to love me and be happy. I would live in a cardboard box with you, blissfully happy. It’d be a bit of a pain in the butt when it rained, but I’d do it,” I joked, trying to lighten his mood. It worked, he laughed.

“Right, I guess soggy cardboard walls wouldn’t be too good.”

I smiled, leaning in closer to him. “But I’d love that box if you came home to me safely every night. That’s the only thing I need from you,” I said honestly.

“Well then, that I can do,” he replied, smiling now.

I nodded, satisfied that he was happy, and then turned my attention back to the food that was laid out before me. “So, I guess I’ll be needing to find a new school soon,” I said casually, as I popped a couple of grapes into my mouth.

“A new school? Why’s that?” he asked, sounding confused.

“Well, I’m not staying at ASU if you’re in LA.” I frowned, horrified at the thought.

“LA? Where did that come from?”

“Well, you’ll go back to LA once your sick leave finishes. I figured you’d ask me to come…” I swallowed awkwardly as panic gripped my chest at the thought of being without him. Was he expecting us to have a long distance relationship until my schooling was finished? I couldn’t do that. “Oh God, you do want me to come, right?”

He scoffed and stroked the side of my face soothingly. “Anna, calm down! Jeez, I can almost hear your heart speeding up,” he scolded. “I’m not going to LA; I’ve asked your father to find me a position that’s closer to you. He’s found me a great placement in Arizona so I’ll still get to live with you while you’re at school, just like I always planned.”

He was staying with me? But what about his friends? His dream job? “Ashton, no! I’ll come to LA with you. Your friends are there, you’ve been living your dream job; I can’t take that away from you. I can’t ask you to give up your life for me,” I argued desperately.

He smiled. “You’re my life, Baby Girl, and there’s no way I’m giving you up,” he smiled at me wickedly.

My heart melted into a puddle. He truly was incredible. “But I have nothing tying me to ASU,” I countered, trying not to think of the friends I’d made, or the year I was almost through this time, or the way that people treated me like I was a normal person even though my father was the President. I didn’t care about any of that; I just wanted him to be happy.

“Anna, it’s done. I want to stay with you and I want you to finish your course with people that have been good friends with you since before your father’s election,” he said seriously.

“You really are the sweetest, most thoughtful, romantic, special boy in the world.” I looked at him in awe. I had never met anyone like him in my life, and I was honestly the luckiest girl alive to have him love me like he did.

He laughed. “Boy? Baby, I’m all man,” he corrected, faking hurt.

Jeez, don’t I know it! Damn badass! “Oh no, you’ll always be my Pretty Boy,” I teased.

“Oh yeah? Even when I’m old, wrinkly and grey?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh yeah. You’ll always be pretty to me,” I promised, stroking his bruised face lovingly, tracing the lines and bruises carefully before pressing my lips against his. He kissed me back with so much love and passion that if I had been standing, it would have knocked me clean off my feet. I closed my eyes, and all I could think about was how this boy was mine, how he wanted to be with me forever and how he was my perfect other half.

For ages, we just lay on the blanket that was sprinkled with rose petals, looking at the stars, holding hands. Nothing needed to be said. Everything was perfect and incredible, and I knew that with Ashton at my side, it always would be.


~ Ashton ~

Anna had been named sole beneficiary of Carter Thomas’ will. He left everything to her – his cars, houses, money, and shares. Of course, the police knew that it was all obtained through illegal means, so they petitioned the courts to impound it. However, to be able to confiscate the money, they had to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the money had been obtained by breaking the law. The trouble was that Carter was incredibly proficient at covering his tracks.

It took over three years for them to build their case and prove the money had been made through illegal businesses. Just over a half of it was confiscated by the state; the rest had been laundered again and again to make it appear clean even though everyone knew that it wasn’t. Anna was, therefore, issued just over twenty-nine million dollars of Carter’s money.

Anna being Anna, hadn’t wanted anything to do with him, even after death. So she gave two million dollars to each of the agents’ families that died whilst guarding her, and two million to Jack’s family. Then she gave just over ten million dollars to AWC, a charity called Abused Women and Children that helped victims of domestic violence. Her final icing on the cake? She gave five million dollars to a cat charity because Carter had a real hatred for cats. She said he would be turning in his grave, and had actually laughed when she signed the bank transfer order.

Lots of other changes had happened in the five years since Carter’s death. The biggest change: we were now married. Just like I had promised her, I’d taken her back to the Maldives. Our wedding had been held in secret, on the beach, with just very close family and friends in attendance. That was the proudest day of my life, the day I got to change the only thing that I didn’t love about her – her surname.

Some things remained the same though. The press still loved us. Annaton fever still gripped the nation but, knowing there was nothing we could do about it, we just got on with our lives and tried not to focus on it too much. President Spencer remained in office; he’d been re-elected and had another three years left to serve his country.

Anna had finished school, so we moved to Los Angeles. For the last two and a half years, she’d been working for a large graphic design company, and she loved her job. My career had also taken a slightly different path. I was now heading up a brand new specialist department that was kind of a first base for terrorist attacks. Testing potential locations for weak points and running through possible attack strategies was a small part of my new job. That was what I’d been doing nearly all day today – scouting a couple of locations for a presidential seminar that was due to take place in a few months.

I was in desperate need of a coffee as I climbed the stairs and walked into my outer office. Immediately, Raine, my secretary, jumped out of her seat and ran towards me, looking slightly panicked.

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