Author: Kirsty Moseley My gaze locked on my fifteen-year-old carefree face in the photo; I was smiling so happily with Jack. I hadn’t ever expected to feel happy again after what happened, but I just couldn’t help it lately. There was just something about Ashton. He was slowly fixing me, I could feel it. The trouble was though that I actually felt guilty for letting him. My head was telling me that I should stay the broken girl that walked through life alone, that I shouldn’t be allowed to be happy after what had happened to Jack and that he’d died because of me. But my heart was telling me that I was being irrational and that just because he was gone, didn’t mean that my life had to be over. I just didn’t know the answer anymore. Everything that I knew and was absolutely sure about before I met Ashton was now a little fuzzy and confusing. Behind me, the bedroom door opened, and he walked in with a smile on his face that made my heart stutter – which, in turn, made me feel even guiltier because I just didn’t have any control over my body at all anymore. I hated that. Control was something that Carter had taken away from me, and I’d fought with everything I had in me to regain it. But Ashton took it with just one of his smiles. He smiled and started stripping off his clothes while I just stood there watching him unashamedly. Why is every move he makes so freaking sexy? My eyes took in every inch of him. His body was amazing; I’d never seen anything like it. Jack’s body had been nice because he'd been captain of the football team, but it was nothing like Ashton’s. Ashton was just flawless, not too much muscle but clearly defined, and wasn’t too bumpy to lie on comfortably. When he started unbuttoning his jeans, I had to look away, because my body was starting to long for things that I shouldn’t and couldn’t have. When he picked up the spare blanket and started walking towards the sofa bed, the words tumbled from my mouth before I could stop them. “Will you sleep with me again tonight?” I winced, turning and climbing into the bed as my face flamed with heat. I hated the fact that I wanted his presence around me all the time. “You want me to?” I nodded in response, flopping down onto my front and burying my face into the pillow. Moments later, the bed dipped next to me. I turned to the side and smiled gratefully as I scooted closer to him, melting against him and pressing my face into the side of his neck as his arms circled around me. I loved him touching me, everywhere he touched, my body would tingle. His attention made me feel special and needed. At times like this, with his arms looped around me tightly, I pretended that he really was my boyfriend instead of just doing his job. I pretended that he really did want me and that he saw past the broken, dirty and used girl, to see the real me inside. The girl that I didn’t let anyone else see. “Ashton?” I mumbled against his skin, half asleep already. “Mmm?” “That was the best date I’ve ever had,” I admitted. His arms tightened around me, pulling me impossibly closer. “Good.” Chapter Nineteen Six weeks passed in a blur of school, drawing, laughing and flirting. The days and weeks passed so fast that I could barely keep up; somehow, Ashton made every day seem better than the last. He was always sweet and kind and considerate, always had something to talk about, or some way to make me laugh. He would kiss me occasionally, making me yearn for him so badly at times that I swore it would kill me soon. Every time it would be him that broke off the kiss first and not the other way around. Another thing that had changed in the last six weeks: I no longer slept alone. I gave up fighting the fact that I liked his hugs way too much, and in the end just suggested that we forgo the sofa bed in favour of sharing. So far it had worked out perfectly and I revelled waking each morning being wrapped up tightly in his arms. Of course, Ashton was doing his job perfectly. I no longer had problems with guys hitting on me because he was the perfect, little, possessive boyfriend when someone got too close to me. Our ‘relationship’ was blossoming too. Every Friday we would go out for date night, going to different places like the movies, dinners or walks in the park. It was lovely. Another thing that was in our routine now was the shooting range and with each passing session it seemed to affect me less and less. I still hadn’t gotten a better shot though, much to his amusement. We were hanging out with our group of friends a lot too. Usually every Saturday, we would go to a bar or a party or something. Rosie was my favourite; she was adorable and funny and our personalities seemed to click instantly. I was even getting more comfortable with the guys of the group too, so much so that when Tim put his hand on my shoulder whilst laughing one night, I didn’t even freak out and want to break it. I owed everything to Ashton, if he wasn’t here I would still be an aggressive, quivering wreck. I thought of Jack less often – which did make me feel guilty. Sometimes it seemed like the guilt would crush me. Whenever I was feeling down though, Ashton would always cheer me up with a joke or a hug, or a little gift. He was terribly romantic at times, downloading songs he thought I would like, or writing me little messages in the mirror so I would see them when I had a shower. He’d honestly make the perfect boyfriend for someone one day. Today I was repaying him a little for his kindness that he’d shown me over the last few weeks. It was his birthday in a couple of weeks, and although I’d already arranged most of his gift by phone, I still had a little bit of shopping to do for it. The only problem was how I was getting away from him so I could surprise him. Of course, I’d debated sneaking out when he was in the shower, but I had a strong feeling he would freak out and worry himself to death about me. So instead I’d opted for a little white lie that Dean and Peter were helping me with. “Hey, Pretty Boy, I’m going out with Dean today,” I said casually as I made my way up the hallway on Sunday afternoon. I’d left it until now to spring it on him; otherwise he would use the advance warning to come up with some way to ensure he came with me. He was obsessive about not leaving my side even for a minute. “What? Why? Where?” he asked, walking up behind me and taking my hand, stopping my escape. “I have an appointment,” I lied, shrugging and looking longingly at the door. He frowned; his body tensing. “Your legs don’t look that hairy to me,” he joked, looking me over in my cropped jeans. I laughed weakly. “Well, maybe I’m not having my legs done.” I smirked at him, tapping his nose with my finger. He groaned, turning to grab his car keys. “I’ll come with you.” I shook my head sternly. “No way! You’ll look like an obsessive stalker boyfriend that can’t let his girl go to get waxed without him being there! You said I could have some privacy for this,” I whined, pouting. I’d become pretty adept at getting what I wanted from him. He didn’t seem to be able to tell me no very easily, unless it was something about my safety and then he would refuse point blank and not budge an inch. “Well, you can’t go with one guard so…” he trailed off, shrugging as if it was decided. I rolled my eyes. “Peter’s coming too.” I pushed him away from the door gently and took the keys from his hand, tossing them back onto the side. “I’ll see you later.” I grinned, knowing I’d won. As I turned to make my exit, his hand closed over my arm, holding me in place as he put his cell phone to his ear. “Hey, Dean, are you taking Anna for her appointment? Yeah, Peter’s going too though, right? Okay, well I should have been told. I don’t know why I wasn’t informed earlier. Look, just stay with her. I want you inside the store. No, inside! Peter can be outside. Right, I know. Yeah fine. Call me when you leave there,” he growled into the phone sounding a little grouchy and extremely authoritative. There was no doubt that Ashton was in charge out of the three of them; even though he was only twenty-one, the other two really respected him. He disconnected the call and looked at me sternly. “Anna, you do not leave Dean’s side. You do as you’re told, and you call me and let me know you’re okay when you get there and as you’re leaving,” he ordered, his face stern and warning. I giggled. I love the sexy SWAT agent mode he switched into sometimes. “Yes, sir,” I purred, pursing my lips. I could see the smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I’m serious, Anna,” he stated, looking me straight in the eyes. I sighed. “I know you’re serious. You only call me Anna when you’re serious. I promise I will stay with Dean at all times, and I’ll call you when I get there,” I reassured him, smiling. He frowned, still looking annoyed. “And when you leave,” he added. I nodded, grinning. “And when I leave,” I agreed. “If you’re really worried, you could always call me.” I stepped forward and kissed his cheek softly. When he hugged me I could feel how tense he was all over, his muscles all bunched up and tight. “Be safe, please?” he begged. “I will,” I promised. “Make sure you do something fun while I’m not here. Sleep with some girls, walk around naked, call Nate, I don’t know,” I suggested, waving my hand in an example of the various things he could do while he was free. “Sleep with some girls? You know you’re the only girl I sleep with.” “Sorry, bad choice of words. Go get laid, Ashton, and chill out,” I replied grinning. “Maybe I will, what will you say then?” he teased. My heart suddenly stopped, and I got so jealous that I could feel the anger bubbling up inside me, bursting to come out. Holy crap, he’s not yours, Anna! The man has needs, stop being an idiot; you don’t want to be with him. However, my mental scolding didn’t stop the jealousy from brewing inside me. “I would say, use protection and don’t make my bed smell like sex,” I lied, frowning, trying to sound blasé about it. He sighed deeply and frowned; I got the distinct impression that wasn’t the answer he wanted. “Right. Well, be safe,” he muttered, pulling open the front door.