Author: Kirsty Moseley When I was done, I looked at the page for a long time, confused. It was almost like torture, looking at something that I wouldn’t ever have. My eyes flicked back to the photo of Jack. Why the hell am I obsessing over this little girl? It was just a dream. My heart belonged to Jack and always would, just like we’d always promised each other. A knock to the bedroom door made me jump. “Hey, can I come in?” I quickly closed my pad so Ashton couldn’t see the little girl. “Yeah sure.” He smiled timidly as he opened the door and stepped in. “You okay?” I smiled, covering the confusion and pain I was feeling at the moment. “Yeah, I’m okay,” I lied. “You get your secret stuff that I’m not allowed to know about done?” I asked, rolling my eyes. He laughed and walked over to the bed, sitting on the edge. “You’re so hostile! I don’t tell you how to do your job,” he replied. I snorted at his comment. “Er, actually you kinda do. It’s my job to be guarded, and you tell me what to do all the time,” I countered, raising my eyebrows to make my point. He grinned. “Not all the time,” he repeated sarcastically. His eyes flicked down to the bed and the smile fell from his face as he picked up my photo of Jack. “So you go for blonds, huh? I’ve got no chance then, completely the opposite,” he stated humourlessly, running a hand through his black hair. I laughed awkwardly. “You’re too pretty for me, remember?” He pursed his lips, still studying my photo intently. “You look really happy here.” He finally took his eyes off of it, holding it out to me. “I was. That was before my life got blown to shit,” I shrugged. He sighed and scooted closer to me on the bed. “I upset you again because I kissed you, didn’t I? I’ve made you sad again.” “No. I’m fine,” I lied quietly. I didn’t want to tell him about my personal debate as to whether I could sleep with him one more time or not, I was still undecided on the answer. He sighed deeply and silence filled the room before he spoke again. “So, what are you drawing? Can I see?” he asked, holding out his hand for the sketchpad. I laughed, blushing as I hugged the pad to my chest. “If you’re thinking that it’s some dark and horrible drawing that shows my inner turmoil, you’re wrong.” There was no way I wanted him to know I was obsessing over this little girl, because technically, that meant I was obsessing over him and I didn’t want to scare him away from me. I needed him now; I didn’t want to go back to my life before him – alone and scared. I shuddered at the thought. I suddenly realised that I’d already done what I said I wouldn’t do. I’d let him in. I liked him, cared about him even. Plus, I hadn’t had nightmares for days because of him. What on earth was I going to do in eight months when it came to the end of his assignment and he left me to go make some other girl deliriously happy? The thought alone hurt, and I’d only known him for a few days. What about when I’d known him for eight months? What would I do then? Panic built inside me because I’d unknowingly made myself vulnerable by letting him close to me – but the thing was, I wouldn’t actually change anything. I liked being around him, and I liked the person that he allowed me to be when I was around him. It was a glimpse of the old Anna, the one that was too frightened to make another appearance in case something went terribly wrong again. Ashton was slowly bringing that lonely, frightened girl back to life again. And I hadn’t even realised until just now. I suddenly found myself wishing he would stay forever. I didn’t want him to go and be reassigned somewhere else and get a girlfriend, I wanted him all to myself so I’d always have this contented, comfortable, safe feeling surrounding me. “Anna?” he prompted, touching my foot tenderly. I gulped, swallowing my feelings that didn’t quite make sense to me. “What?” I answered, unsure what he wanted from me. Maybe he’d been talking to me while I was off trying to make sense of my emotions. “I said, are you really okay? You ran off right after we kissed, and now you’re all quiet and distant with me. Are you wishing that didn’t happen?” he questioned, dipping his head so that my eyes had to meet his. Again, I didn’t know the answer. “I’m fine. It’s all just complicated. I can’t explain my feelings to you, I don’t know how I feel,” I admitted. I chewed on my lip nervously. My answer was the truth – how could I explain something that I didn’t even understand myself? He stood and looked down at me worriedly. “Well, if you need to talk to me, I’m here to listen, anytime.” I smiled gratefully at his back as he stalked to the door. “Ashton?” I called, needing to say something else, because it didn’t feel right leaving it like that. He turned at the door, looking at me quizzically. “Thank you.” The words seemed right, and the only ones that I could think of. His answering smile was dazzling, and my tummy fluttered again. “No problem, ma’am,” he replied. I groaned as he shut the door behind him. How on earth can one word be so hot when it comes out of his mouth? How can one word make my insides melt? It just isn’t fair. Chapter Seventeen ~ Ashton ~ For an hour, Dean and I planned out our positioning, ready for the first day of school. We’d gone over pretty much everything three times, but you couldn’t be too prepared in my opinion. I’d also memorised the map of the school so that I knew where all the exits and meeting points were, just in case. Over breakfast, I’d gone through the rules with Anna. She’d agreed to them all, not protesting, and actually looking a little happy with them. I’d insisted on a few changes to her normal routine which she seemed quite happy about. For one thing, no one knew who I was, so while the boyfriend cover worked, we were going to play it to the maximum. Dean would be in plain clothes the whole time, not even acknowledging us unless there was a huge problem that I couldn’t resolve amicably. I had my gun and police credentials with me, but I was praying they wouldn’t ever need to be of use, because that meant that Carter would never find where she is. The school knew of our situation and that I wasn’t actually a college student, so I wasn’t going to be expected to hand in any masterpieces – which was handy considering I couldn’t draw. Anna had agreed, finally, to stay with me at all times – even bathroom breaks where I’d have to stand outside and wait for her. We’d already agreed that I could kiss her a couple of times throughout the day so that the boyfriend story stuck. She’d even consented to trying to meet up with the friends that we’d made over the weekend for lunch so that we could integrate with society better and move easier through the crowd. Of course, Anna had scolded me a few times at how seriously I was taking this whole operation. She’d called it “going overboard.” She’d accused me of acting too much like a SWAT officer rather than secret service, but I’d let it slide. She didn’t know about Carter and his letters; if she did, then she wouldn’t be as hostile about being guarded. She’d promised to be on her best behaviour and let me deal with any issues so that she wouldn’t be kicked out of yet another school. I had high hopes for her at this one, hopefully my arrangements would allow her to finish her course and start to take a hold on her anger and insecurities that she had deep-rooted inside her. While she was getting dressed, I put my hands on my h*ps and did a few stretches. My body was really starting to protest about sleeping on the floor, but thankfully I’d received an email last night saying that the sofa bed would be delivered this afternoon. Peter was going to take delivery of it for me, so at least I’d have something soft to sleep on tonight, which would hopefully make me feel less like an old man. When the door handle of the bedroom moved, my stomach seemed to twist into a knot. I frowned and shook my head at myself. I knew I had it bad now, but this was bordering on ridiculous. I was so excited to see her, yet I’d only seen her over breakfast forty minutes ago. This didn’t bode well for me. As she stepped into the kitchen with a tentative, nervous smile on her face, my heart seemed to stop. She looked so hot that my mouth actually started to water. My eyes slid down her frame, taking it all in slowly as she played with her fingers and chewed on her lip, waiting for my opinion on her outfit. The insecurity about wearing normal clothes was clearly still there. I gulped. The black shorts she wore came to about mid-thigh, showing off her long, gorgeous legs. My hands were itching to trace the line of them and feel the soft skin under my fingers. The tight, black top she had on clung to her flat stomach and pert breasts, showing a sexy, red bra-strap. The loose fit, red chequered shirt over the top completed the outfit and made her look so sexy it was starting to hurt as my jeans constricted across the crotch. Stop, Ashton, focus! She’s looking at you, you need to say something. You look like an idiot! “Er… You look, er…” I stuttered. Come on you stupid prick, think of a word! She raised one eyebrow in question as she looked down at herself and straightened her shirt. Clearly, she had no idea that she looked like a goddess and that all I wanted to do was crush her against me and run my tongue over every inch of her. I mentally groaned. I wanted to beg her for a chance; I wanted to be with her so badly that I could almost taste it. I took a deep breath and tried to stop embarrassing myself. “You look stunning, and you’re going to make this hard for me all day,” I said honestly. There was undeniably a double meaning to those words, she certainly was going to make me hard all day, that was for sure. Her shoulders seemed to relax at my compliment, and she looked at me gratefully. “Hard for you, why?” she asked, turning to get a glass of juice from the fridge. I groaned quietly. From the back you couldn’t see the shorts; it looked like she was just wearing a shirt and ankle boots. Oh man, how the heck am I going to be able to do my job with her looking like that? Maybe I should ask her to change... Can I ask her to change without making myself look like a freaking pervert?