Author: Kirsty Moseley He clicked his tongue in disapproval and shook his head. “I didn’t even realise I was doing that until your mom came in.” I smiled weakly, heading out of the room and into the kitchen. “Don’t whine, it doesn’t become you. Besides, I’m sure I’ll get plenty scared over the next eight months,” I replied sarcastically, as I put our empty glasses and bowl into the sink. He stepped up close behind me, his chest practically touching my back. His breath blew down my neck as he spoke, “You’re finally convinced I’m not gonna quit then?” he asked. A little shiver ran down my spine at how sexy he sounded. Gulping, I mentally chastised myself for still letting him affect me. I pushed my elbow back into his stomach, forcing him to step back and give me some personal space. “I believe you won’t quit,” I admitted. “Your problem will be if I have to get you transferred,” I warned. He sighed and stepped back, so I chanced turning and looking up at him. He forced a smile. “You won’t have to get me transferred, I promise.” I smiled gratefully, and a large yawn escaped before I even had time to cover my mouth. He grinned and nodded over his shoulder. “Bedtime, Miss Spencer.” As we walked through the house, he was asking me what type of movies I preferred because I admitted that I didn’t like horror or paranormal ones. By the time we got to my bedroom door, he frowned and kicked at the floor with his toe. “So, er, can I sleep in your room?” I gulped, recoiling slightly but nodded in agreement. “I guess, yeah.” Not waiting for him, I marched into my room and grabbed some pyjamas before heading into the bathroom to change. I took my time, calming my nerves, mentally steeling myself against being in bed with him again. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea after what had happened between us that morning. When I’d finally worked up the courage, I left the bathroom, expecting to see him lying in my bed, half naked. But he wasn’t. Instead, he’d taken one set of my pillows and the throw that covered the bottom of my bed and had made a little bed for himself on the floor next to my own. My heart stuttered at the sweet move because I’d just assumed that he would expect to share my bed. He was lying on his back, his chest bare, one arm folded behind his head, and his other stretched across his stomach. He smiled as I stepped out of the room. “I thought you’d fallen in or something,” he joked, mocking the amount of time I’d been in the bathroom. I laughed awkwardly and walked to my bed, climbing in but rolling so I was at the edge of the bed and could look down to see him stretched out on the floor. “You gonna be okay down there?” He nodded quickly. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” he vowed. “Goodnight.” “Night, Pretty Boy.” My eyes wandered to his chest as my body longed to move down onto the floor with him, to press against his side and let his warmth flood into my system. My scalp prickled as I imagined how soft his skin would feel under my hand if I just stretched out and touched him, or how his tongue would taste against mine. I longed for these things, but I refused to allow them to happen. Instead, I reached up and flicked off the light, submerging us into darkness. Chapter Twelve I cracked my eyes open, wincing as the light from the window made my eyes sting. I squeezed them closed again and rolled over, almost falling out of the bed as I was so close to the edge. Groaning quietly, I suddenly realised that Ashton wasn’t snoring, or even breathing heavily. Frowning, I peeked over the edge of the bed, only to find that the place that he’d slept was now empty, his pillow and makeshift blanket folded and placed on my dresser chair. My eyes flicked to the alarm clock, it was only just after seven thirty. I groaned in frustration. I would have definitely preferred to sleep in longer than this! A small folded piece of paper on the side next to my alarm clock caught my attention. My name was scribbled on the front in typical boy’s messy handwriting. I reached for it, opening it eagerly, already wondering why he’d gotten up so early. Anna, I went for a run in the gym to build up my stamina. Ashton A small chuckle escaped my lips at the stamina comment. I flopped back against the pillows and stared up at the ceiling. Today was my last day here because tomorrow was the scheduled trip to Arizona, ready to start my new school on Monday. There was nothing I wanted to do today, so I nibbled on my lip thinking of how I could whittle away the hours rather than having to spend time with my parents. If I kept myself busy then I wouldn’t have to see them behave awkwardly around me all day while they tried to pretend like they understood how I was feeling. I hated that. The only thing I could think of was something that Ashton had said yesterday. Shooting practice. Maybe if I was there with him and he was teaching me how to use a gun in a safe way, I would finally get over some of my fear of them. I wasn’t stupid enough to believe that it would ever go away, I just wondered if him teaching me the basics of shooting might stop the complete blood-curdling terror from taking over whenever I came into contact with one. There was only one way to find out. I sighed and pushed myself out of bed, needing to get this over with early if I was actually going to be able to go through with it. My nerve would deteriorate the longer I left it, so I needed to set the wheels in motion before it fizzled out altogether. Stepping into my en-suite bathroom, my gaze landed on the mirror. The girl that looked back at me was unfamiliar and so incredibly different to what I’d been used to seeing for the last three years. My eyes had lost the tired look that they always had, probably because since Ashton came here, I’d slept better than the last three years put together. My skin looked like it had more colour, my posture wasn’t as tight and defensive as usual. I smiled, perplexed that one person, and of course, some sleep, could make me feel and look so different. I decided to try out how it felt to wear normal clothes. At least if I tried it out here and couldn’t cope, then I could pack my usual stuff before we left. Not bothering to wash my hair again, I straightened it using the straightening irons that my mother had bought me two years ago that hadn’t even been removed from their box. Afterwards, I looked through my closet for a solid five minutes before choosing a pair of cropped, fitted jeans, a fitted red shirt and a pair of red open-toed heels. When I looked in the mirror again, I looked even less like the girl that I had come to associate myself as. I wasn’t sure I liked it. Knowing I needed to take the plunge before we left, I pulled back my shoulders and raised my chin, trying to fake confidence as I left my room and headed downstairs. I didn’t pull it off. As I passed the entrance to the gym, I could hear the sounds of feet thumping on the treadmill. I smiled and slipped inside, seeing Ashton running with his back to me. He was jogging steadily in just a pair of black shorts. Sweat ran down his back and wet the hair at the nape of his neck. I gulped as I watched the muscles in his legs and back tighten with each stride. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was just slowing down, so I waited until he’d come to a stop before I spoke. “Hi,” I chirped, smiling and trying not to blush and let on to the fact that I’d just been watching him with lust-filled eyes for the last couple of minutes. He spun around as if I’d made him jump. The shock was evident on his face as he stared at me with his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide. “I didn’t think I was supposed to be able to creep up on you. I thought you were supposed to be some badass SWAT guy. Maybe I put too much faith in your ability to protect me,” I teased, leaning on the doorframe, crossing one leg over the other. “I… I…” he stuttered weakly as his eyes raked over my body slowly. Oh, he likes my new clothes! “You… You… what?” I asked, grinning. He blew out a big breath and shook his head. “Shit, Anna, you look beautiful.” I blushed at the compliment. “Um, thanks.” “I’m not kidding. Damn. I think I’m gonna need to buy another gun,” he shrugged, finally dragging his eyes up to mine. “Another gun?” He nodded, grinning at me wickedly. “Yeah, looks like I’ll need the extra bullets to keep all the guys away from you next week.” “Well, thank goodness I have a badass boyfriend then,” I joked, picking up the towel and throwing at him. “You have any plans for today? I’ve thought of something for us to do, if you’re not busy.” A sceptical, worried expression crossed his face as he winced. “Please tell me it doesn’t involve walking around any more clothes stores,” he whined. I couldn’t help but laugh at his begging voice. “No more clothes stores,” I confirmed. I swallowed around the lump that was rapidly forming in my throat. “I was actually thinking that you could teach me how to shoot, like you’d said. There’s a shooting range that my dad goes to sometimes. It’s about an hour away, I think. We could go as soon as you’re ready.” His eyes widened as he walked over to me, reaching out and setting his hand on my waist as he bent and looked straight into my eyes. I could feel the heat from his hand seeping into my skin through my clothes. I gulped at the intimacy of this small touch. “I thought you didn’t want to do that,” he whispered, eyeing me worriedly. “And I thought you said you wanted me to learn,” I countered. I didn’t want him to talk me out of it now. I’d been psyching myself up to it for the last half an hour. “It’ll be fine. If it gives me nightmares then my big, bad bodyguard can protect me,” I teased, grinning. He smiled at me cockily. “I may have to pay Dean overtime, but I’m sure he’ll be up for it,” I added quickly. He snorted and rolled his eyes playfully. “You’re gonna let Dean in your bed? Can’t see that happening,” he replied, grinning mischievously as he tickled my waist. I wriggled and twisted out of his grasp, laughing uncontrollably. I had a very ticklish spot on my ribs, and it appeared that he’d just found it.