Chapter Twenty- Finally

I looked at Hayden expectantly, and he was looking at me the same way. We both started laughing.

"You first." I insisted.

"Fine. I don't even know where to start..." Hayden said trailing off as he looked at me.

"How about I start then ? I believe I owe you an explanation about why I didn't tell you the entire story about who I was, and my career." I said a little nervously as I pushed a lock of hair behind my ear.

Hayden nodded and looked at me thoughtfully.

"You already know about how stubborn I am. I was in the middle of enjoying my life the way it was when my parents sprung this move on me. They gave me two days notice. I wasn't too thrilled. I thought that if I was miserable they'd get the message and let me come home. I didn't want to make any friends, or other attachments. I just wanted them to finish their movie, get it done and over with so I could get back to my life.

Of course your brother didn't seem to want me to blend into the background, and Jake showed up and made me realize I was being silly. It was nice to be able to feel a little normal. You've seen what it's like here, even at school. Pictures, rumours, gossip; that's what it's always been like. I guess I just wanted to be a normal teenager, and wanted someone to like me for me. Things were really good between us and I almost forgot. If it wasn't for the creepy phone calls and text messages, and the photoshoots here and there, I was just like all other teenagers."

I paused to take a breath. But before I could continue, Hayden interrupted.

"Hold on, you never said anything about these calls or messages." Hayden said sounding angry. "Why didn't you tell me?"

I shrugged as he looked at me caringly, annoyed with himself about how powerless he had been at the time."I liked the way things were."

"You're kind of impossible." Hayden said sighing as he relented a little, but the frown was still on his face.

"Can I just say that I don't really care about what happened in the past? I think that we were caught up in everything. I don't hold anything you said that day against you. I said a few not so nice things too." I said as Hayden ran his hand through his hair. I was getting anxious. I wanted to know where we were at.

"I told you more than I've told most people." Hayden began. "But Ryan was right. I didn't tell you about Ashley or the extent of discontentment in my household. I think I overreacted that day. I was being a hypocrite."

"You didn't really believe that I was just playing you, did you?" I asked fearfully, looking up at him with expectant eyes.

Hayden touched my arm gently. "Of course not. I just had a big realization, then you had shown up on stage, and I just wanted to be alone and think. Things got way out of hand and then you were just gone. You went through a lot, and probably still are. That whole deal with that asshole, and then when Aaron grabbed you... you didn't even want me touching you."

Hayden was hurt. I hadn't pulled away from him on purpose. I just couldn't stand the thought of anyone touching me.

I placed my hand on his arm. "It wasn't about you touching me. I would have pulled away from anyone."

Hayden was shaking his head at my words before in had even finished. "You misunderstood. What I meant was that you feel this way and I can't do anything about it."

I smiled at him. "You're very sweet. But I think it was just the time and place. My emotions were running high, the trial had ended, I stand not talking to Aaron, and I was suddenly back there."

Hayden reached out as if to comfort me, but pulled away before actually touching me with a grimace on his face.

"Hey," I said touching his face briefly to meet his eyes. "I'm okay, and I won't have you looking at me as if I'm broken."

Hayden's eyes, that were more green than blue right now, looked at me with uncertainty. I guess I'd have to let my resolve fall. Pushing aside the wrapping paper that was between us, I wrapped my arms around his shoulders loosely so that our faces were just inches apart. "I mean it, Sparks. Don't make me take a page out of the Bitchy Anna time in my life. Want me to get all aggressive on you?"

I punched his shoulder lightly. I was just teasing but the look of interest and arousal in his eyes had my stomach clenching.

Smiling that slow, wicked grin, Hayden wrapped my arms tighter around him, looped his own around my waist and had me in his lap within seconds.

"Well this feels familiar," I said trying to be disapproving, but it had been too long since anyone - no since Hayden had held me.

"You have no idea how long I've been wanting to just hold you." Hayden said, his breath tickling my face as he echoed my thoughts.

"Like this?" I asked not wanting to get my hopes up.

Hayden looked at me and smirked devilishly. "Like this, closer, maybe minus a few articles of clothing..."

I threw my head back and laughed. "Now this is the Hayden I remember."

Hayden hid a smile and pretended to frown. "I was being very serious."

"I feel like you've thought about this a lot."

"Only every day for the past seven months. No big deal."

My heart hitched. "Really, and it's taken you seven months to do something about it why?"

Hayden was serious, and gentle all of a sudden. "You weren't ready. We weren't ready then. We're in a much better place now. I didn't think I could handle losing you twice."

"Oh," I breathed, my heart pounding wildly as the desire to kiss him grew.

Hayden smiled widely. "You want to kiss me, don't you?"

"I don't remember you being this romantic and articulate."

Hayden looked at me intensely. "Well, baby, here it is. When I said I just wanted to be friends, I was lying through my teeth, especially after that shoot. I wanted nothing more than to take you into my arms and keep you there, shield you. You walked into my life and it wasn't the same without you. You fixed my relationship with Ryan and then Ashley. You gave me back my family and more. I have a nephew!

I wake up and I can't wait to see you. I'm crazy about you even more now than I was then. I want you. I can't stand the thought of anyone else touching you. I want you to be mine. I want to fight with you, I want to kiss you because I can, I want to be there for all the good and the bad. I'm not going anywhere now. You're stuck with me until you realize that we belong together. I'm through with waiting."

I blinked not at all expecting that. My arms fell limply to my sides. I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. I wanted so badly for them to be true but they couldn't could they? I saw the flash of hurt shoot across his face, and I shook my head. I was being ridiculous. He just put himself on the line and I was being hesitant?

I wrapped my arms more tightly around him and moved closer so that there wasn't any space between us."I so want to kiss you right now, but I think I'm supposed to be romantic back."

Hope filled Hayden's eyes. "Yeah? I wouldn't mind so much. Actions speak louder than words you know."

I pulled back before his lips could touch mine. He growled and squeezed my hips.

"Hayden," I sang as my heart picked up speed. "Wait. I'm crazy about you too. I really thought that at the photoshoot you were going to suggest that we be more than friends. Then you had to go and care about my problems. Even then I was still glad to have you in my life. At least I got to see you, and talk to you. You were there for me when no one else was. You understand and more importantly you're supportive. You have faith in me, and that's so different than how anyone has felt about me before -"

"You know that's not true." Hayden interrupted sternly. "Every one of those people in that house and your other friends love you and know you can do whatever you put your mind to."

Hayden didn't get it. He saw me differently and that was one of the things I loved about him. "They do love me,but they think this career change is just some teenage mood swing. They will always see me as Anna the Singer."

Hayden shook his head. "You really don't see how crazy everyone is about you."

I shrugged and let it go. We sat there quietly for a minute, just looking at each other.

"Now what?" Hayden asked softly, his breath caressing my face.

"What do you want?" I asked in hushed tones.

"You." Hayden responded immediately with strong conviction.

"You sound so sure." I said weakly as butterflies gathered in my stomach.

"Because I am. I told you. This is right. We're supposed to be together, I'm just waiting for you to realize it too."

I bit my lip. "If you want to be with someone when has as many issues as I do, I am not going to question it."

Hayden smiled slowly, his whole face lighting up. "So that's that?"


"So I can kiss you now?"

"Yup." I repeated but this time I was breathless.