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Page 5

Author: Kirsty Moseley

I cleared my throat and put out my hand in greeting. “Hello, ma’am. Ashton Taylor, it’s nice to meet you.”

Her eyes widened as her gaze flicked over me before placing her hand in mine. “It’s nice to meet you too. My name’s Maddy Richards and I’m Senator Spencer’s Personal Assistant. I’ll just let him know you’re here, he’d like to speak to you,” she said in a business-like tone. She picked up the phone and spoke briefly. “Okay he’s free right now, you can go in.” She nodded towards a door on my right.

A wave of nerves suddenly hit me as I realised that I was about to meet the probable next President of the United States. I swallowed my nerves and went in as instructed. He was sat behind a large, wooden desk, and there was a lady sitting on the couch, drinking tea. She was very pretty and had dark brown hair, which she had pulled into a bun, and brown eyes. She looked somewhat familiar; maybe I’d seen her on TV or something.

Senator Spencer stood up, smiling at me, and walked over, holding out his hand. He was a very imposing man on television, but it was even more apparent in person. He oozed confidence and ability, and had an air about him that certainly explained why he was tipped to win the upcoming election.

I shook his hand confidently. “It’s very nice to meet you, sir.”

“You too, Agent Taylor. This is my wife, Melissa.” He gestured to the lady on the couch. I turned and smiled as it clicked into place why she’d looked so familiar when I stepped into the room. She looked like Annabelle, but Annabelle had a radiant beauty that far surpassed her mother’s.

“It’s nice to meet you, ma’am,” I nodded.

“You too. Hopefully you’ll last longer than the other near guards; Annabelle needs some stability,” she said sadly.

Senator Spencer cleared his throat. “So, Agent Taylor, I’ve read your file, and I must say it’s mighty impressive. Your reputation is incredible at the agency. They have exceptionally high hopes for you.” He gestured to the couch for me to sit. “You’ve read your brief, I assume?” I nodded in confirmation and sat as instructed. “Do you have any questions before you meet Annabelle?”

I nodded. “Only one, sir. I was wondering why you don’t just tell Miss Spencer about the threats so that she would be more cooperative with her guards. It would be a lot easier to protect her, and ultimately make her safer, if she were more accommodating.”

Mrs Spencer gasped and the Senator shook his head fiercely. “Annabelle is very fragile. She doesn’t like to show it, but she’s still grieving for Jack, and what that animal did to her.” His hand clenched into a fist before he took a deep breath and composed himself. I liked this guy already. “She can’t be told. She barely copes as it is, she doesn’t need anything else to worry about on top.” He stood up and walked to his desk, picking up his phone. “Maddy, could you have Annabelle come in here now, please?”

His face still looked sad with deep pain across it. This man had worries about his daughter that no father should ever have to go through. I hadn’t thought about them when I read her file. Thinking about it now though, I realised that they had been through hell too. Their sixteen year old daughter goes missing, presumed dead, then months later she’s found broken, abused, and totally a changed person. They had to watch her sink into depression and attempt suicide and turn into a cold, heartless person, and now they couldn’t even hug her or hold her hand.

The phone on the desk buzzed, and Maddy’s voice came through the intercom. “Senator, Annabelle’s here,” she announced.

“Okay, Maddy, send her in,” the Senator answered, glancing at me, his expression almost apologetic.

A few seconds later she walked into the room. As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew I was in trouble. She looked so incredibly vulnerable. Her eyes were cold and distant and held a pain that I couldn’t bear to think about. She had seen things that no one should ever see. Carter had broken not only her body, but her spirit too.

Her eyes only flicked to me for a split second and held no reaction whatsoever before she turned to her father. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach tied in a knot. I wanted to run to her, wrap my arms around her, and tell her everything would be okay. I wanted to make her smile and hear her laugh.

Oh f**k it; I really am in deep shit!

Chapter Three

~ Anna ~

When my cell phone vibrated on the side, I was laying on my bed with my arm covering my eyes, trying to block out the midmorning sun that was streaming through my window. I groaned and rolled to the side, stretching my arm out to reach for it. Every single one of my muscles protested from the slight movement. My whole body hurt from the run that I’d taken earlier in the morning. I’d pushed it too far today. After speaking to my father first thing and learning that I was going to be getting a new near guard today, and the bombshell that he’d dropped on me about the guy posing as my boyfriend, I’d taken my frustrations out in the gym, running on the treadmill until I’d vomited and almost passed out.

Finally catching my phone with my fingertips, I pressed it to my ear and stared up at the ceiling. “Yeah, what?” I muttered into the phone, already knowing what this would be about. My father had told me that I’d get a call when the new guard arrived, and I would have to show him around the house and get to know him ready for next week when we both went to the new school.

Maddy’s overly cheerful voice greeted me. “Hi, Annabelle. Could you come down to your father’s office, please? Agent Taylor is here, and he’d like to meet you.”

I sighed and closed my eyes in defeat. “Fine, I’ll be there in a minute.” I disconnected the call before she could answer, and then headed out of my room on my wobbly legs. As I trudged through the house, I kept my eyes on the ground so that no one would try to speak to me. Not that they tried often anymore; I’d made it clear to people that I didn’t want to interact.

As I let myself into Maddy’s office, she looked up and smiled, but it was tight and wary. It seemed as if everyone had a problem with how to behave around me now. “You’ll like this one, Annabelle, he’s so handsome!” she gushed, raising one eyebrow excitedly.

I frowned and folded my arms across my chest as I made a distasteful, scoffing sound in the back of my throat. Her comment was both inappropriate and unwelcome. It didn’t matter what he looked like, all that mattered was the fact that I didn’t want another guard. All they ever did was come in, disrupt my life, and then leave me after a couple of months when they realised that I wasn’t even worth protecting.

When she waved her hand at my father’s office door, signalling for me to go in, I shoved it open and stepped inside. The room went quiet instantly, and my gaze flicked to the stranger standing in the middle of the room.

I felt my eyes widen from shock. Maddy was right, he certainly was handsome. His black hair was shorter around the sides, but fell across his forehead messily, and he had the most beautiful dark green eyes that I had ever seen. His face was perfect, just like an angel’s. His body would be incredible too – I could see that even though it was covered by a plain, white T-shirt and ripped jeans. He actually looked like he’d just stepped out of a magazine shoot and was easily the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen.

I took all this in within a second before my eyes went back to his. His gaze was raking over me slowly, his mouth slightly open as he took in every inch of me, making me want to squirm on the spot or run away as fast as my legs would carry me. Lust was written plain across his angelic features, and it made my stomach ache.

I kept my expression neutral and quickly looked away to my father, who was watching me with tight eyes. Clearly he was uncomfortable after our little spat that had taken place in my bedroom this morning when he’d told me about this new guarding arrangement.

“So, this is him then? The new near guard boyfriend,” I asked, saying the last word angrily.

He nodded. “Yes, Annabelle. This is Agent Taylor. Agent Taylor, this is my daughter, Annabelle Spencer,” my dad answered, looking between the two of us warily.

The beautiful stranger extended his right hand towards me. “Hi, Miss Spencer, I’m Ashton. It’s nice to meet you.”

I recoiled slightly, but tried not to show my nerves. I didn’t like to show people that I was afraid. My eyes flicked down to his extended hand and my heart started to race at the thought of him touching me. Physical attention, especially from men I didn’t know, made my lungs constrict and my body go cold. It had done ever since Carter. I glanced back up at the agent’s face. He was smiling at me; his eyes warm and friendly. I swallowed the fear away and raised my hand to his, trying to be confident, but I could see that I was shaking as I shook his hand briefly. His eyes never left mine, making me feel slightly relaxed, despite the fact that a man I didn’t know was touching me. As I dropped his hand, I stepped back and folded my arms over my chest; my mother was watching me with wide eyes as if waiting to see what I would do.

I raised my chin as I faked a confident smile, dragging my eyes over him from his head down to his toes. “Well, Ashton, you don’t look like the normal guys I get assigned. I’m gonna be generous and say that you’ll last a week, maybe even ten days, before you request a reassignment,” I teased cockily.

One side of his full lips pulled up as he shook his head. “Actually, Miss Spencer, I’m here for eight months, and I don’t quit,” he replied confidently, folding his arms across his chest too, mirroring me.

The arrogance he was exuding made one of my eyebrows rise, but I fought desperately to hold back any reaction to him. “You can call me Anna.” I waved my hand dismissively, ignoring his attitude.

“Anna it is then.” His answering smile was gorgeous and seemed to light his whole face.

My mother cleared her throat obviously. “Why don’t you show Agent Taylor to his room, Annabelle? Maybe you could give him a tour of the house and grounds too. Show him where the lake is.”

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