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Page 82

Author: Kirsty Moseley

After three coffees, it was finally seven o’clock and the place started to wake up a bit. People were coming down for breakfast, and the night staff were going home, to be replaced by new morning staff.

The new barman kept looking over at me somewhat excitedly. I smiled warmly as he brought me another coffee that I hadn’t ordered. He had a newspaper tucked under his arm. “Excuse me, Miss Spencer, do you think I could get your autograph?” he asked nervously.

I burst out laughing. “My autograph? What for?”

He smiled, confused. “Well, you are the President’s daughter, are you not?”

I nodded, frowning. “I guess, but why would you want my autograph?”

He grinned as he pulled the newspaper out from under his arm and held it out to me. “You’re all over the paper.”

I gasped, practically snatching it out of his hand as my heart jumped into my throat. “No way! Seriously?”

He nodded. “Yeah, front page and pages four, five, six and seven,” he stated, shrugging. My eyes wandered the paper as my breathing seemed to falter. On the front page there was a huge picture of my parents as they posed on the red carpet. Just underneath their picture, was one of me and Ashton. My eyes widened as I sat back in my chair, dumbstruck and lost for words.

“Can I read this?” I asked, scanning the text quickly.

“Yeah, sure. When you’re done would you sign it for me?” he asked. I nodded, still not quite knowing what to say. He turned on his heel and strutted back to the bar, leaving me there with my heart in my throat.

I scanned the article quickly. It was all about my dad’s birthday celebrations and a rough guide to what we ate and the decorations inside the ball room. Once I was done with the first page, I flicked through to the continuation part. The next couple of pages were more about the celebrities who attended and who wore what. As I turned the page again, I gasped, and my eyes widened in horror. Pictures of me and Ashton were splashed everywhere. The headline above it: New Celebrity Couple ‘Annaton’.

Chapter Thirty-One

~ Ashton ~

To say that I’d not slept well would be a ridiculous understatement. I hadn’t been able to switch my brain off and stop worrying about Anna all night. My cell phone hadn’t rung though, so either Mike decided not to call me, or she’d had a good night.

Pushing myself out of bed just after seven, I snuck into the shower. My eyes stung with tiredness as I stood under the spray and let the powerful jets loosen my bunched up, tensed muscles.

When I was finished and dressed, I headed back into the room, seeing that Dean was just waking. I forced a smile, hoping I didn’t look as rough as I felt. “Morning, sleep alright?”

He snorted and narrowed his eyes at me. “Not really.”

One of my eyebrows rose in question. “No? How come?”

He sat up, running a hand over his face. “You f**king snore like an elephant with the flu!”

I recoiled, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. “Let me guess, Anna told you to tell me that, right?” She was always trying to make out that I snored; now she obviously had Dean in on it too.

He blinked a couple of times, not answering as he swung his legs out of the bed and trudged into the bathroom, sighing tiredly. My gaze fell on my cell on the side, so I sat on the edge of it, bringing up her number and debating whether I could call her or not. I decided against it, she was probably still sleeping anyway. Our flight wasn’t until twelve, so she could have a longer lie-in. I flopped back onto the bed, playing around with the apps on my phone as I tried not to clock watch. Just as Dean walked out of the bathroom fully dressed, there was a soft knock on the door.

“I’ll get it,” he muttered, already heading over there and pulling the door open. “Oh, good morning, Annabelle.”

My heart leapt in my chest as I shoved myself up quickly and headed over there, practically pushing Dean out of the way as I wrenched the door open further. There she stood. My frayed nerves finally settled as I laid eyes on her beautiful face. Stepping closer to her, I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pressing my face into her hair and breathing her in. I’d missed her so much that it was actually painful.

She hugged me back immediately. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mike standing in the hall behind her. His posture was awkward as if he was trying not to watch or felt like he was intruding. I forced myself to pull back and smiled down at her. “Hey, how did you sleep? Okay?” I put my hands on either side of her face, and felt my eyebrows knit together. She looked extremely tired. Her eyes were bloodshot, either from lack of sleep or she’d been crying. My jaw tightened as I glared at Mike. We would have words later.

“Fine,” she answered, shrugging as she dropped her gaze to the floor.

I shook my head and sighed as I gave her a little tug into my room and closed the door. I didn’t know why she bothered trying to lie to me, I could always tell. “No you didn’t, Anna.”

She groaned and shook her head. “Whatever, doesn’t matter now,” she replied. “Anyway, I have something that you need to see. Don’t freak out, alright?” she raised her hand, holding out a newspaper to me.

I frowned, confused as I took it from her hands. My mouth popped open when I saw the two photographs that were splashed across the front page. “Fuck me, there’s a picture of us there!”

She sighed and flopped down onto the little sofa in our room. “More than one. There’s a whole two page spread just dedicated to us,” she muttered.

My mouth had gone dry. I couldn’t take my eyes off the photo on the front page. Anna looked just as incredible as I remembered. But then my mind was back on business again. Carter. He could see this and make a move against her in anger. Of course, her father and I had already pre-empted this kind of thing happening, and he’d arranged for a heavy duty block to be put on information going in and out of the prison, limiting the number of magazines and papers going in if she was featured or mentioned at all. Also, all personal letters going into the prison, not just Carter’s, were being screened in a bid to keep this information away from him for as long as possible. It wasn’t an indefinite thing, but hopefully it would hold for a few weeks at least until all the attention around Senator Spencer and his family died down. The trouble was, we had anticipated that Anna would be featured, but not us as a couple. Anna posing with me and claiming me as her boyfriend was sure to anger him.

I didn’t take my eyes from the paper as I sat on the sofa next to her, scanning the words for anything important. It all seemed to be trivial stuff about the party. I bypassed the second and third pages of the article too because they all seemed to be more about fashion successes for the night and who should fire their stylists. I could feel Anna staring at me, clearly waiting for some sort of reaction to all of it.

I forced a smile. “Apparently you should keep your stylist,” I muttered weakly.

She chuckled and nodded. “Keep reading. Did you get to the body language bit yet?”

I shook my head in answer as I turned to the last two pages. My heart stuttered in my chest. Lining a whole two pages were various photographs of me and Anna. The headline insinuated a new hot couple. My eyes flitted over the photos, loving every single one of them. Deciding I should read the article because there was clearly something that Anna didn’t like in here, I folded one leg over the other and set to work.

Apparently they thought that Anna would be the hottest ‘First Daughter’ that there ever had been. I wholeheartedly agreed with that statement. There was a mention of me and my joke about being intimidated to meet her parents. The journalist thought I was adorable.

When I got to the part she was referring to, I felt my back stiffen in shock. The paper had a body language expert analyse some of the photographs that had been taken. His findings were printed next to each one. The first was of future President Spencer shaking my hand. The expert had analysed his smile and the way he was leaning in towards me. He concluded that it meant he liked me and trusted me with his daughter. The caption was that I was ‘already well in with the future in-laws’. Pride swelled in my chest as I read it. If only I could get Anna to actually date me, I’d already be in good standing with the family. The next one they looked at was of me and Anna dancing and laughing. According to the professional, the way that one of her hands was loosely placed in mine and the other tangled into the back of my hair, how close our bodies were, and the ‘small knowing smile’ that lined our lips all meant one thing in his opinion – we were very in love.

Shock resonated through my body, making me jerk in my seat. I couldn’t breathe. They actually thought she was in love with me? I flicked my eyes up to hers, seeing her furiously chewing on her nails. Is she in love with me? I wondered. I would give anything for it to be true. I knew she was starting to get over Jack, and I was certainly in love with her, but according to this expert, she loved me too. Maybe she didn’t even know it herself. That revelation wouldn’t have surprised me in the least; Anna’s brain might be refusing to even contemplate it. If she even was in love with me, then she wouldn’t want to be, I knew that for a fact. Anna didn’t like to feel vulnerable and didn’t want to get hurt again. I knew that she hated the fact that she even cared about me; if she loved me, then it would be a whole new ball game and one that would probably terrify her to the very core.

I knew I couldn’t push it at all because it would probably frighten her and make her retreat back inside herself and shut me out again. I tried desperately not to react as I forced myself to carry on reading the article.

The body language expert wasn’t done with us yet apparently. He analysed another photo and came to the conclusion that I was fiercely protective over her and that she trusted me completely. A small smile crept onto my lips at that last part. Then the part that made an excited shiver tickle down my spine. He stated that ours was a serious long term relationship that would continue to blossom. He predicted wedding bells within the next three years. I gulped and blinked a couple of times. Wedding bells. If I had my way, I would marry her tomorrow if I had the chance.

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