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Page 98

Author: Kirsty Moseley

“Hey,” I replied as I climbed in next to him. When he didn’t make any moves to come to me, I scooted closer to him. His arm immediately lifted and pushed under my neck, hugging me to him tightly. I sighed contentedly as I snuggled against him, loving how our bodies fitted together as if they were designed that way. Ashton kissed the top of my head softly, sending a wave of desire through me that made my whole body ache. Over the last two weeks, we had barely made it a few hours without making love; the physical contact was going to be a hard habit to break. I bit my lip and closed my eyes tightly, praying for sleep to take me quickly because the desire for him was almost too much to bear.

Within a week of being home, the attention surrounding us started to die down. The press had finally realised that we weren’t married or expecting a baby, so they started to lose interest a little. Well, only a little, because we were still plastered all over the papers and magazines. The girlie magazines in particular liked to feature Ashton, he’d clearly woven his spell over them too because he’d actually been voted torso of the week in one magazine. He actually seemed pretty proud of himself when he saw that.

School was awkward again for a couple of days, but even people there were getting used to who we were again.

Today though, we had something different to worry about, other than just what magazines we would be featured in. Today was the day that Ashton was going with his friends to use his driving day experience. That was if I could calm him down from his latest panic attack about leaving me in someone else’s care.

“You sure you can’t come with me?” he asked, shooting me the begging eyes that usually made me melt inside.

I forced a smile. We’d been going over and over this all week long and he still didn’t like the idea of it. “I don’t want to go. Besides, you’ll have a better time without me being there. You’ll be able to relax with your friends and not have to work all the time. I’ve got Cohen here now, and Dean’s moving into the other bedroom,” I assured him.

He groaned and set his head on my shoulder. “I hate this,” he mumbled.

I giggled at his overprotectiveness. “Look, just chill out. Nothing’s gonna happen. You go have fun with your friends and enjoy your Christmas present, okay? If you need to, then you can call me,” I suggested, wrapping my arm around his shoulder and stroking the back of his hair.

He looked up and his pained eyes met mine. “But what about the lawyer guy? You sure you can’t reschedule him coming over so I could be here for that?”

I sighed. The prosecution lawyer for Carter’s case had called and was in town this weekend. He wanted to talk to me and go over a few things in case I was actually called up to give evidence at Carter’s retrial. This was the only weekend that he had free to see me before then, and Ashton knew that too.

“I told you, this is the only time he has before the trial. I can’t reschedule.” I frowned, actually wanting to give in and just go with Ashton or let him stay here with me like he was trying so hard to convince me on. I didn’t want to see the lawyer guy again on my own. A deep frown lined Ashton’s forehead and I reached out, smoothing it away with my thumb. “Careful, wrinkles,” I joked. “Just go, I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll call me and let me know what he says?”

I nodded in agreement. “Promise.”

His heavy sigh blew across my cheek. I could see his internal struggle brewing in his eyes. “Be safe this weekend. If you go anywhere, then stay with Dean. No doing anything stupid like going off without a guard, okay?”

Without answering, I cupped his face in my hands, leant in, and kissed him. The heat of his lips felt like he’d set me on fire. I’d avoided kissing him whenever possible this week because it just reminded me how good it would be with him. He kissed me back, moaning in the back of his throat as the kiss deepened. My hands tangled in the back of his hair, pulling him closer to me and showing him how much I was going to miss him as our tongues tangled together.

He pulled away after a couple of minutes and set his forehead against mine as his ragged breath blew across my lips. My whole body was throbbing with need. “I’m gonna miss you so much, Anna. Please be safe and do everything that your guards tell you. If you need me to come back, call me, and I’ll be on the next plane,” he promised.

“Stop worrying!” I laughed, brushing my nose against his softly. “You try and enjoy yourself, alright?”

He nodded wearily. “I will. I guess I’d better go. Try not to dream, okay?”

“I won’t dream.” I smiled reassuringly. “It’s just two nights, and then you’ll be back.” As a key twisted in the front door, Ashton groaned and my arms moved from his neck, dropping down into my lap. His eyes didn’t leave me once as Dean strutted into the lounge. “Dean, tell Ashton that you’re perfectly capable of looking after me while he’s away having fun for the weekend,” I instructed.

Dean grinned. “Yep, perfectly capable. The new guy is here now so we’re all set up and ready. You should go; you’ll miss your plane.”

Ashton’s eyes finally left me as he nodded and pushed himself up to his feet. “I’ll see you in a couple of days then. I’ll call you in the morning,” he promised, bending and planting a soft lingering kiss on my forehead before righting himself and turning to Dean. “Can I have a word with you outside?” he asked, nodding at the front door.

I watched as he left, sending me a little defeated wave at the door. My heart ached. I was going to miss him so terribly much, but I was happy that he was going to have fun for the weekend. He deserved to.

To pass the time, I picked up my sketchpad and drew a few scenes from our vacation. Lately I’d been drawing our trip a lot, probably because it was on my mind a lot. I missed the freedom that the place afforded me, I missed the closeness of Ashton and our togetherness, and I certainly missed his body. It felt like an age since we’d been back but, in reality, it was only a week.

My routine for this weekend without him was slightly different. Dean was moving into the other bedroom to replace Ashton, and my father had sent over another far guard, Cohen, to replace Dean as daytime guard. Dean seemed slightly nervous about acting as near guard for the duration of Ashton’s trip, but he was the only one that I trusted to do it and be that close to me.

After I’d made dinner for us both, I went for a long soak in the tub. My day dragged but, to be honest, I didn’t want the evening to come too quickly anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to a night without Ashton again.

The water was cold by the time I was out of the bath. I dried my body and hair slowly, taking as much time as possible so that I could avoid going to bed.

Finally, at half past eleven, I could avoid it no longer. I called goodnight to Dean and crawled into the bed, lying on Ashton’s side. The pillow still held his scent, and a little feeling of contentment washed over me. My eyes flicked to the bedside unit and the photo of me and Ashton on our trip that one of the staff had taken. His handsome smiling face stared back at me, and I sighed, silently hoping he was having a nice time. He’d be there and settled in to his hotel room by now. I tried desperately not to think of him sleeping with other girls this weekend, even though I knew it was pointless to hope he wouldn’t, after all, he wasn’t mine and he was a player, so of course he would be with other girls. I closed my eyes, thinking of lazing on a hammock in the shade of a palm tree and hoping that the nice memory would ward off the bad dreams that were bound to plague me tonight.

I sit as still as I can. His anger is easy to see. “For fuck’s sake, Mark, go f**king take care of it for me! Make him realise he can’t rip me off and get away with it,” Carter spits.

Mark smiles, sending chills down my spine. He is evil incarnate, and revels in doing his job. He is Carter’s second in charge and delights in torturing people and inflicting pain. “Absolutely, how about I bring you his head?” he offers.

Carter laughs and shakes his head. “Nah, too messy,” he jokes. I heave but due to not having eaten for a day and a half, I have nothing to bring up. When Mark leaves the room, Carter turns to me, smiling his loving smile. “Sorry about that, Princess. My business talk’s all done now. Where were we?” he asks, taking my hand and pulling me from the edge of the bed so I have to stand. His hands slide down my body, catching the bottom of his T-shirt I am wearing. I don’t resist as he lifts it over my head so I am naked. I don’t resist anymore, I am all out of fight. “Right about here, I think,” he coos, grinning and looking at my body lustfully. His hands run over my bruised body, and I whimper when his fingers touch a bruise I have on my stomach. “Get down on your knees, Princess,” he whispers, unzipping his pants as a predatory smile creeps onto his face.

I sat up and screamed as the horror washed over me again. Reality tugged at my brain as it slowly registered that I was in my own room, that it was just a dream and that it was over. I put my head between my knees and tried to calm myself, wincing as the memory of it carried on playing in my head. I gripped my hands in my hair, biting my lip as I tried desperately to think of something else.

Loud knocking on my bedroom door made my breathing falter. “You okay, Annabelle?” Dean called.

I sucked in a ragged breath, knowing he would be worried if I didn’t calm down. “Yeah, I’m okay, sorry,” I called breathlessly. A quick glance at the clock showed me that it was past two in the morning.

“Is there anything I can do?”

I closed my eyes and wiped my sweaty brow. There was nothing anyone could do apart from the love of my life, and he was miles away. “No thanks. I’m sorry I woke you. Goodnight, Dean,” I called, ending the conversation.

I fell back against the pillows and fumbled blindly on the bedside unit before finding the little switch I was after and flicking on the lamp. My gaze found the picture of Ashton again, and I stared at it until my heart started to slow to a normal pace. A little blue flashing light on my cell phone caught my attention and a little spark of hope started inside me as I reached for it. As I flicked the screen and unlocked it, I saw a message sitting on there from Ashton, sent earlier on in the evening around about the time I was in the bath. A smile crept onto my face as I opened it.

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