In Pieces – Chapter 16

“So, I think that the best time to have the wedding will be in July, next year. I thought that maybe we could have it outside or something, and then have the reception at our place. Nothing fancy…” Ashleigh babbled as she talked on the phone with her mother. Planning her wedding was certainly turning into an ordeal. She hadn’t expected it to be this much work.

“Ash!” Matt called to her, and she rolled her eyes. This was quickly becoming a busy evening for her. First her mom had called wanting to know all the details, then Matt had sprung this business dinner on her. “We’re leaving in ten minutes! Are you ready?”

Ashleigh sighed. “I gotta go, mum. I’ll call you later.” She said quickly before hanging up the phone. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she figured she was ready enough. That Friday evening, some sort of dinner party was being held at Matt’s boss’s house. Naturally, he hadn’t informed her about it until that afternoon.

“Yeah, I’m ready!” She called back upstairs, where she could only assume Matt was styling his hair and figuring out the perfect thing to wear. She laughed to herself, he took more time to get ready than she did!

He didn’t answer her, and it was just as well because her cell phone rang again. She answered it quickly, knowing who was on the other end. “Hey.” She said softly.

“Hey Ash.” Nick’s voice rang through the other end. He’d already called her a couple times that week, and they’d seemed to be on alright terms. Definitely better than the last time he’d left her. “What’re you up to tonight?” He asked.

She shrugged, glancing at the stairs. “Going to some party for Matt’s work.” She said, sounding rather bored.

“Sounds like fun.” Nick replied, though he didn’t quite agree with that statement. Over the last week he’d talked to her a few times and had come to accept the fact that she was still going to get married. Well, for the time being anyway. He would have to work slowly.

“Not really.” She admitted. “It’s just going to be a bunch of people I don’t know talking about things I don’t care about.”

Nick laughed, it was hard for him to imagine happy go lucky Ashleigh wearing a cocktail dress standing around quietly while a bunch of men in suits talked about business. “Sounds like more fun than my evening.”

“Oh yeah. This’ll be so much more fun than performing in front of thousands of adoring females.” She said sarcastically. Then bit her lip. Was she flirting with him? Wasn’t she supposed to be getting over him and getting on with her life?

It was a difficult task when he kept calling. Not that she really minded.

“No concert tonight.” Nick said. “I’ll just be hanging out in my hotel room…bored…and alone…” He said dramatically.

Ashleigh glanced again at the stairs, as if that would make Matt magically appear on them. She couldn’t help but think how much she would have much rather been in some random city with Nick, than go to some cocktail party.

There was silence on her end. Nick frowned. “I was only kidding, Ash. I’ll probably go do something with AJ or someone.” He said.

“Yeah, I know.” Ashleigh replied, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Why was it that one moment Nick made her feel on top of the world, and the next minute she was questioning everything? He’d hurt her once before, what was to say he wouldn’t do it again? “I’ve gotta get going Nick. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Yeah, sure. Later, Ash.” Nick said before her heard her hang up. He couldn’t believe that she was acting completely platonic towards him. Furthermore, she seemed to actually want to go through with her wedding. It boggled his mind. Hadn’t she been the one to come falling back into his arms that night she’d shown up at his hotel? Nick didn’t understand, but he was determined to keep trying. At least she was talking to him.

Pushing his thoughts aside, he got up and headed down the hallway. He stopped in front of Brian’s door. Maybe his best friend could offer some advice.

“Hey Nick.” Brian said, after opening the door. “What’s up?”

Nick shrugged. “You wanna get some dinner or something?” He asked, and Brian nodded.

“Sure. One sec.” He said. After slipping on some shoes and grabbing his wallet, he and Nick made their way to the hotel restaurant.

“So,” Nick said, figuring it was probably best not to beat around the bush. “Do you remember Ashleigh?” Nick asked as the two of them were seated.

Brian thought for a moment. Nick had had so many girlfriends over the past ten years, it was hard to keep track. “Sorry Nick…refresh my memory?”

“Groupie from Black and Blue.” Nick explained, though that was hardly how he thought of her now.

Brian nodded. Now he remembered. He never had understood Nick’s reasoning on bringing two strange fans on tour with him. “Oh, right.” Brian said, wondering where Nick was going with this.

“I ran into her when we were in Minneapolis.” Nick said.

Brian simply nodded, waiting for Nick to continue.

“She was kind of upset with me. I guess she thought that we were in some kind of relationship or something back then. But we talked, and she seemed to feel better about it. I really had a good time with her.” Nick told him, unsure of what Brian was thinking. “I guess she thought so too, because she ended up coming back to my hotel room…” Nick trailed off.

Brian raised his eyebrow. “So you guys had sex.”

Nick nodded, taking a sip of the water that had been placed in front of him. “Yeah. But it wasn’t like…that. It seemed…I dunno. She’s different now. She liked me for who I was, you know?”

Brian wasn’t sure how to respond to that. From what he remembered about Ashleigh, she’d seemed to be more obsessed about the fact that she was dating a Backstreet Boy rather than dating regular old Nick from Tampa. “Are you sure?” Brian asked.

“Yeah! I mean, she really paid attention to all this stuff I didn’t even realize about myself. I dunno.” Nick paused, uncertain of what to say next. “I feel like I kind of missed out on something with her.” He said.

Brian gave Nick a skeptical look. “Well, if you feel that way you could always try now.” He suggested, but Nick just shook his head.

“I can’t.” He said, fiddling with the menu. “She’s engaged to some guy.” He said sadly. “But, she came to my hotel room! I don’t get it.”

Brian gave Nick a sympathetic look. He’d always had trouble with girls. “Maybe she needed some closure?” Brian said. He wasn’t really sure what kind of advice he could offer, he really didn’t know Ashleigh that well.

Nick shrugged. “Maybe.” Looking back down at the menu he decided to drop the subject. It was only confusing him further. “Nachos sound good.” He said, grinning up at his friend.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh sat at a table bored out of her skull. The party was being held in the backyard of Matt’s boss’s fairly large home. At least there were drinks, she figured, taking another sip of her vodka and coke.

“This is my fiancée, Ashleigh.” Matt said, as he introduced her to yet another colleague. “Ashleigh, this is Dennis. He works right beside me.” Ashleigh forced a smile and shook the man’s hand.

“Congratulations.” Dennis said. “Where do you work, Ashleigh?”

“I own Urban Bean.” She said, knowing what kind of response that was going to get. She hated the fact that most people didn’t take her work seriously. “It’s in the corporate mall underneath the Commodity Exchange tower.”

Dennis nodded. “So you serve coffee to people like us. That’s nice.” He said, as he and Matt shared a laugh. Ashleigh rolled her eyes and took another sip of her drink. As Matt made more conversation with his co-workers, Ashleigh’s thoughts drifted to Nick. She wondered what city he was in, what he was eating for dinner.

If he was spending the night with anyone…

Ashleigh’s stomach twisted at that thought. She wondered, did Nick still pick up groupies? She didn’t think she could bear the thought of him being with someone else. And yet, here she was at a party with her fiancée. How unfair of her to be possessive of Nick when she was doing the very same thing.

She had tried not to think about him, but he kept creeping into her mind. Ever since Monday she’d been missing him more and more. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t push him out of her head. It was bad enough that he phoned her nearly everyday.

That was another thing Ashleigh didn’t understand. Nick hadn’t seemed interested in a relationship with her the first time, why would he be now? Not that it mattered, she was engaged. Something she had to keep reminding herself of. Besides, she was sure Nick was calling her just to be nice, since he hadn’t called her the last time. Sooner or later, she thought, the calls would stop.

But the calls didn’t stop. Two days later, Ashleigh was sitting on her bed, feet in the air, giggling at something Nick had said.

“God Nick, I cannot believe you did that.” She said in between laughs.

“What?!” Nick defended himself. “They deserved it!” He was telling Ashleigh about the time he had used his sister’s toothbrushes to clean the toilet when he was younger. “You just can’t understand, you don’t have annoying younger sisters.”

“I wouldn’t like it if my older brother would have done that to me!” She exclaimed, still giggling.

“Well, if you did have an older brother, I’m sure you wouldn’t have been as rotten to them as BJ and Leslie were to me.” Nick explained, still trying to defend his younger self’s actions. “They always wanted to watch their stupid cartoons, and I wanted to watch the Fresh Prince!”

“Ewww, Fresh Prince?” Ashleigh asked, wrinkling her nose. “Why would you want to watch that?”

“Uh, because it’s a good show, Ash.” Nick said as if it were obvious. “Why? What did you watch?”

“Boy Meets World.” Ashleigh replied.

“Ewww, Boy Meets World? Why would you want to watch that?” Nick mocked her, causing Ashleigh to burst into a fit of laughter yet again.

Nick smiled as they continued to banter back and forth. He really couldn’t deny how much he enjoyed talking to her, and how much it bothered him that she was with someone else when she clearly enjoyed his company more. Well, he actually wasn’t too sure about that. But if she was so in love with her fiancée, then why was she spending her Sunday afternoon on the phone with him?

“It’s a good show! Besides, I watch much better TV now.” Ashleigh said.

“Oh yeah? Like what?” Nick challenged.

“The Office.” She answered. Truthfully, as much as she hated to admit it to herself, she was enjoying her secret phonecalls with Nick. Phone calls that even Joey didn’t know about.

Speaking of Joey, the two girls hadn’t talked much since Ashleigh had dropped the Nick bomb on her. She knew Joey was a little disappointed in her, but she’d shrugged it off. Sometimes the two of them had tiffs like this one, they were usually best friends again after a week or so.

“Oh yeah!” Nick said excitedly into the phone. “I like that one too, did you see the episode where…” He trailed off, explaining an episode to Ashleigh, which she quickly recognized.

She didn’t mind her distance from Joey as of late too much. Nick occupied quite a bit of her time now, and as much as she’d tried to fight it, she was starting to fall for him again.

Well, maybe starting to wasn’t quite that accurate. She was still falling for him? Who was she kidding? She’d been falling for him since she was fourteen.

And yet, there was nothing she could do about it. She was engaged now, and she wasn’t about to let herself fall into Nick’s trap again. Still, she couldn’t deny any longer how she was feeling…

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One Response to “In Pieces – Chapter 16”

  1. Jessica November 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Wow! I really like Ur Story! Thanks for Sharing!

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