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Page 43

Author: Kirsty Moseley

He looked up then and his eyes met mine. A small smile crossed his lips, and I forced myself to turn away and stop looking. I really needed to get a grip of myself and this lust that seemed to come out of nowhere and consume me, leaving me a quivering mess. It just wasn’t right that he could make me feel like this, I hated it.

Shoving my iPod headphones into my ears, I took a deep breath and put my hand on the speed dial, slowly cranking it up until I was running as fast as my legs would carry me. I ran away from my problems and everything that was bad in my life, focussing only on the music and putting one leg in front of the other. I ran until I couldn’t even think about Ashton’s gorgeous body anymore – which took a surprising amount of time.

Having no idea of time, I could have been running for either five minutes or five hours. All I knew was that my hands started to tingle and sweat was trickling down my back, making my T-shirt stick to me. As per my usual routine, I sped up for about another minute before slowing right down, barely able to breathe.

Once I’d stopped, I slumped to the floor with my heart crashing in my ears. Knowing I was close to passing out, I put my head between my knees and took deep breaths through my nose as I squeezed my eyes shut. When my fingers finally stopped tingling and the acidic taste in my mouth started to subside, I flopped down onto my back and groaned.

When I opened my eyes again, I noticed all three of my guards were staring down at me. Both Dean and Peter wore shocked expressions, but Ashton looked incredibly angry.

I frowned, turning off my iPod as I pushed myself up to my feet, ignoring how my legs shook from the effort of supporting my weight.

“You feel better now?” Ashton snapped.

I snorted, frowning at him. “For goodness’ sake, this is why I wanted to come on my own! Don’t start giving me lectures on what’s good for my body,” I retorted, walking past him to the punch bag that was hanging in the corner of the room.

“Anna, you can’t keep doing this! That was f**king ridiculous. You were running like that for almost thirty minutes, I’m surprised you’re not dead!” Ashton shouted.

The anger in his voice made me slightly nervous, but I tried to ignore it as I slipped on some training gloves and started hitting the bag. I let out all of my frustration and annoyance. Each hit made my muscles in my arms ache. Just as I was about to throw another punch, a hand closed over my arm, pulling sharply so that I had to spin around. My eyes flicked up to Ashton’s face. He looked so angry that the frightened, little girl that I tried so hard to bury inside me surfaced immediately. I flinched, cowering away as I closed my eyes and waited for him to hit me.

His hold on me ceased immediately, and nothing happened. Tentatively opening my eyes, I looked up at him, seeing a horrified, devastated expression on his face as he stepped away from me and shook his head in disbelief. “You actually think I would hit you?” he asked weakly.

I winced, knowing that I’d offended him. “I… I… No, I just…” I looked at the floor, not wanting to admit that yes, just for a second, I thought he would hit me.

“I would never do that, ever.” He stepped back again, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I can’t watch this anymore.”

My mouth popped open in shock as he turned on his heel and walked out, leaving me with Dean and Peter. As the door slammed behind him, I jumped as a huge lump seemed to form in my throat. He left me. He promised he wouldn’t leave me… My heart immediately hurt in my chest as my stomach tightened. Deep down, I’d known it was only a matter of time before he left because everyone did eventually, I just hadn’t realised that it would happen so soon or so suddenly. I wasn’t even close to being prepared for it.

I stared at the door, willing him to walk back in and shout at me some more, to tell me that I’d upset him but that he’d been hasty in deciding to leave. He didn’t come back though. My whole body seemed to go cold as my heart sank. My vision became a little blurry and I realised that I was about to cry. I swallowed my sobs and raised my chin as I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. I refused to cry over another man.

Knowing that Dean and Peter were still watching me and waiting for some sort of reaction, I forced the devastated feelings aside and turned back to the punch bag and hit and kicked it until I hurt all over from the effort. By the time I finished, my legs were wobbly and my fingers were numb.

Dean and Peter were sitting on the chairs, waiting for me in silence. “I’m done,” I muttered, walking past them and not waiting for them to catch me up.

The ominous silence continued as they walked me to my apartment. When I stepped through the front door, Dean followed me in and headed into the lounge while I went straight to the bathroom for a shower. He would be the one that would move in and take over as near guard until they found a replacement for Ashton. I couldn’t even bring myself to care about the fact that I didn’t want him here.

The hot water of the shower did nothing to help the crushing feelings I had inside. I felt terrible, the loss of him was painful, and all I could see was his devastated face when he said that he would never hurt me. My insides were hurting, my head was throbbing, and my whole body was aching.

When I got out of the shower, I pulled my hair into a ponytail and found one of his T-shirts that he’d left behind. I pressed it against my face, inhaling deeply. A little whimper left my lips because it still smelt like him. Needing the comfort, I slipped it on over my head and climbed into the bed, hugging myself tightly. Feeling cold and lonely, I cried for him until I fell asleep.

“Come on, Princess, it’s fun, you’ll like it. I’ve played lots of times. Take the gun, take a deep breath and then pull the trigger,” Carter insists, waving the gun towards me again.

My whole body is shaking as I wring my hands, ignoring the pain in my wrists caused by the deep cuts I’d made there the week before. I feel nauseous.

Carter raises one eyebrow. “Come on, we’ll make a deal. You wanted to die last week; if you die, then you’ll be getting what you wanted. If I die, you then can go free, and if neither of us dies, then you’ll stay here with me. Forever,” he suggests, grinning wildly.

Silent tears fall down my face as I look at the shiny, little silver gun balanced on the palm of his outstretched hand. “That’s not a deal! I don’t have a choice!” I cry.

“You have a two in six chance of not being here with me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” he retorts sarcastically.

“Please don’t make me do this, Carter. Please?” I beg. He sighs and moves the gun; using two fingers, he spins the cartridge.

As I realise that this is my only way out, I silently pray that either I die or he does, because the alternative, staying here with him, doesn’t bear thinking about. Fear runs through my veins, causing my hands to shake violently. I watch as he pulls some kind of straw out of his pocket, bends towards the table and the line of white powder that I’d watched him make, and snorts it all before grinning at me wildly.

Because I’ve not moved, he rolls his eyes and points the gun at his own temple. “I’ll go first,” he states, as if this is an everyday occurrence.

I hold my breath. He smiles and winks at me as he pulls the trigger. Vomit rises in my throat, but nothing happens, the gun doesn’t go off. Overwhelmed, I turn to the side and am violently sick over the expensive-looking rug.

He smiles at me tenderly, clearly planning on ignoring the fact that I’m still retching. “Well then, I guess the best you can hope for is that you die, Princess,” he states, shaking his head sadly. He holds the gun out to me again, nodding encouragingly. I raise a shaky hand, and whimper as my fingers close around the cool metal of the gun. Carter’s hand closes over mine as he guides the gun up under my chin. I swallow, feeling the hard metal pressed against my skin. “You can do it, Princess.” The tone of his voice is kind and loving; it doesn’t match the fact that he is making me pull a gun under my chin. I take a deep breath and pray for death. I don’t want to stay here. “Count to three,” he whispers.

“One… Two…” My voice is shaking as I count slowly. My heart stops just before the last word comes out as a broken whisper. “Three.” I pull the trigger.

CLICK.

“I guess you’re mine to keep now, Princess,” Carter gloats. His eyes are dancing with delight as a large, lopsided, drug-induced smile creeps onto his face.

I sat bolt upright as my piercing scream tore through the air. Ashton’s T-shirt was stuck to me where I was sweating. My lungs were tight so I couldn’t breathe properly. I just couldn’t get enough air in, so it felt like I was suffocating.

Seconds later, the door burst open, slamming against the wall loudly. “Anna! Shit, it’s okay, Baby Girl, it’s okay. I’m so sorry, I fell asleep on the sofa, I’m so sorry,” Ashton cooed. My eyes widened in shock as I looked up at him, still struggling to breathe. He sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around me, rocking me gently. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall asleep out there, I’m sorry,” he whispered, stroking my hair.

I couldn’t focus on anything other than my dream and the crushing horror that was eating me up inside. Carter. Carter’s face. His voice. His wicked smirk. His excited eyes. All of it swam before me, taunting me, hurting me, killing me.

Vomit rose in my throat, so I clamped one hand over my mouth and shoved myself out of his arms. I staggered out of the bed and ran for the bathroom, barely managing to make it before I emptied my stomach into the toilet. While I was being sick, Ashton rubbed my back and whispered soothing words. I pushed on his legs, pointing to the door, signalling for him to leave.

“I’m not leaving you like this,” he stated, getting a washcloth and wetting it, before placing it across the back of my neck as I retched and retched.

I squeezed my eyes shut, gasping for breath. Why that one? Why did it have to be that dream? Other than seeing Jack die on that fire escape, this one was the worst dream that usually haunted me – because right after the incident with the gun, Carter had pinned me to the floor next to the pile of my own vomit and had taken my virginity.

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