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Page 84

Author: Kirsty Moseley

Anna pulled her knees up to her chest, and we both sat watching it, expecting it to be about the party and her dad’s birthday. On the screen came the host of the show, and seated next to her was one of the reporters that had waited outside on the red carpet, who had inquired about Anna’s dress.

The host smiled warmly, doing her introductions, before turning to the reporter. “So, Judy, you were at the party at The Wiltshire last night. What’s the gossip? The papers are raving about Annabelle Spencer this morning, and I must say, she’s very beautiful,” the host of the show said, smiling broadly. Anna gulped and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Placing my hand on her knee, I squeezed supportively. They would just talk about her for a minute and then they’d move on.

Judy, the reporter, put her hand over her heart and beamed. “Oh my gosh, she was so beautiful in person, and so sweet. And that boyfriend of hers is incredibly good-looking! I can see why the papers are flagging them as the new celeb couple of the year,” she answered. I couldn’t help but grin. Everyone seemed to think we made a marvellous couple, apart from Anna.

Anna laughed awkwardly, wincing in my direction as if she was now waiting for me to run away screaming again, like she had suggested earlier. “Sorry.”

I rolled my eyes, but didn’t get a chance to answer before they started the excited chatter on the television again. “I know the party was actually to celebrate the birthday of the President-elect, but my goodness, when Annaton stepped out of that limo, all of the attention just shifted to them. It was like some sort of eclipse. And I got the first question!” Judy gushed excitedly.

The pair of them then went on to analyse every detail of Anna’s dress, hair and make-up, before moving on to me. They somehow even knew who made my tuxedo – even I hadn’t known who made my tux. After, they showed a clip of me helping Anna out of the car and us walking up the red carpet. They ooh’d and ahh’d when Anna turned to me and smiled as we were having our photographs taken and when I brushed her hair back. I had to admit, watching it from the outside did make us look like a loved-up couple. The next clip was me joking about meeting the parents; they slowed it down, showing Anna laughing and looking at me with a gorgeous little smile on her face. When it got to my next line about Anna being the best thing that had ever happened to me, they showed that twice, gushing about how sweet I was and how lucky Anna was to have me.

For a further ten minutes, they somehow found more things to talk about before finally changing the subject back to what the show should have been about all along – Anna’s father. When Dean finally turned off the TV, I grimaced over at Anna. She was wincing, hiding behind her knees and just peeking over the top. I laughed before I could stop myself.

She groaned and shook her head. “It’s not funny, Ashton! Did you not just watch the same programme as me?” she whined, pouting at me as if I could somehow make all of this better and make it disappear in a puff of smoke. “And what the hell is Nate going to say? And Rosie, and the rest of the guys at school?”

I smiled weakly and got off of my chair, squatting in front of her and taking her hands in mine. “Anna, calm down. Everything will be fine, and we’ll get through it together. If Rosie and the guys from school want to treat you any different after this, then they’re not worth having in your life and you’ve lost nothing special anyway.” I didn’t mention Nate. I was pretty sure I was in for some mocking about the name, and a decent amount of ridicule for looking like a soppy jerk on TV, but he was my best friend, and there was no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t treat me or Anna any differently.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes before nodding, seeming to visibly calm herself. “Okay, fine. Let’s just go pack or something. I want to go home. I’m done with all this stuff.”

Leaning forward, I wrapped my arms around her tightly and hugged her, letting her delicious smell waft over me. Her arms wrapped around my neck too, hugging me back. Not ready to let go of her yet, I slid my arms down her back and under her ass as I leant back and pushed myself to my feet, lifting her with me and holding her tightly against me.

She giggled, and her legs automatically wrapped around my waist, clamping herself to me as she buried her face into the side of my neck and finally seemed to relax. A contented sigh left my lips because she was back in my arms again, right where she belonged.

As I carried her through the foyer and headed towards the elevator, someone shouted our names from my left. I turned my head in that direction, seeing a photographer on his knees snapping shot after shot of me carrying her before Dean and Mike both rushed forward and intercepted him, blocking his view.

Anna gasped and I quickly set her down onto her feet, ushering her towards the now open elevator. Not waiting for Dean, I pressed the button for her floor and looked out, seeing them guiding the photographer out of the front door without actually touching him.

“Shit,” I growled under my breath as the doors closed and left us alone. “Sorry. Hopefully they were able to intercept before he got a decent shot?” I offered weakly.

She sighed and nodded, gripping my waist and pulling me towards her as she pressed herself against my chest. As the elevator travelled upwards, I dipped my head and captured her soft lips in a gentle kiss. She seemed to melt against me as her grip tightened on my waist. A small moan escaped her lips as she kissed me back. When the doors to the elevator slid open, I reluctantly pulled my mouth away from hers, smiling when her eyes took a few seconds to open again. When they did open, they latched onto mine and seemed to burn with a passion that made the hairs on my arms stand on end. An agent stuck his head around the door, seeing that it was us before nodding in acknowledgement and going back to his lookout post.

Gripping her hand tightly, I gave her a little tug towards her hotel room door. “Let’s pack your stuff and then you can come to my room while I do mine.”

There wasn’t much to collect really. All of the party clothes had been provided for us, so it was only what we travelled in yesterday and our sleepwear that needed to be packed. She was done within three minutes and then we headed down a floor to pack my belongings.

She lay on my bed while I threw my clothes into a bag. When I was done, the need to hold her was just too great, so I gave in. I crawled up the bed, hovering over her as I smiled down at her underneath me. I didn’t touch her as her gaze came up to meet mine. I searched her eyes, desperately trying to see if what the papers had printed was true. Her full lips curved up into a smile as she reached up and traced the line of my jaw with one delicate finger.

I was almost so lost in the moment that I missed the click of the door as the handle twisted, but thankfully, I still had some degree of control over myself. I rolled off her quickly, tensing, watching the door, but relaxing when I saw Dean saunter in.

By his tight jaw alone, I knew something was wrong. “Car’s here when you’re ready to leave. But, there’s a slight problem.”

I raised one eyebrow in question as I stood. “Problem?”

He nodded, running a hand through his hair. “Yeah, there are some reporters out front waiting for you two. Probably a good fifteen or twenty of them all crowded out there. There’s probably about the same amount out the back too. There’s no way to get out of the building without going past them,” he stated.

Anna groaned behind me. I nodded, this was just something we had to deal with, it’d be over soon and then we’d be away from it all. “It’ll be fine.” I put my hand on top of Anna’s head, stroking her hair as I kept my eyes firmly on Dean. “We’ll go out the front, just make sure the car is parked there waiting. Also, ask that Mike guy to follow us to the airport, just in case.”

Dean nodded in acknowledgment before picking up his overnight bag from his bed and sauntering out of the room to get to work. I turned back to Anna. “Once we get back to campus, everything will settle down and they’ll lose interest. It’s only because we’re still in the hotel.” At least, I hope it is! “Come on.” I picked up her bag and mine, and waved for her to follow behind me.

By the time we got down to the lobby and had checked out, passing our luggage to one of the concierges to take to the car, Dean had arranged the cars and had rounded up two extra guards along with Mike. They were all standing by the door waiting for departure.

My hand closed around Anna’s as I pulled her close to my side. “Don’t leave my side. If anyone grabs you or anything, I’ll handle it, or Dean. You just smile and we’ll get to the car.”

She nodded in understanding, chewing on her bottom lip furiously. We walked over to Dean, and I nodded discreetly, watching as they pulled the doors open for us to exit.

As soon as we stepped out, the fifteen or so people started shouting our names and cameras started whirling. Dean and Mike stepped to our sides, arms outstretched, keeping the crowd back as they surged forwards, trying to get the best pictures. My eyes scanned the crowd, looking for anything untoward or suspicious, but they were all just reporters after a scoop.

One of the reporters quickly shoved a Dictaphone towards us, leaning in as close as she could even though Dean was holding her back. “Annabelle, Ashton, what do you think about what the papers are saying about you two this morning?”

Anna looked up at me quickly as if she wasn’t sure she should answer. I shrugged. I had no idea what the protocol was for it, she should probably have had a press agent here with her or support, but that was too late now. No one predicted anything like this would happen.

She cleared her throat and smiled. “It’s crazy, this is all just crazy,” she answered, waving her hand around at all the people as her hand tightened on mine.

Another reporter tried to bustle forward. “Ashton, what do you think of the body language expert saying that the President-elect liked you and trusted you with his daughter?” he shouted.

I shrugged awkwardly. I didn’t want to answer any questions; all I wanted was her safely away from this crowd. “I’m glad, of course. What boyfriend wouldn’t like to hear that his girlfriend’s dad likes him?”

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