In Pieces – Chapter 21

Ashleigh sat sadly backstage at the Pepsi Centre in Denver. Tonight was the last concert that she and Joey would be seeing. They would spend the night in Denver with the boys, and then begin their drive back to Minneapolis the next morning.

Ashleigh watched impatiently as the boys sang and danced their way through Larger Than Life. She had never felt so uncertain about the future in her life.

Joey smiled at her. Ashleigh was sure she had to be sad about leaving too. They had dreamed of meeting the Backstreet Boys for quite some time, and it had happened in a much bigger and more spectacular way then either of them could have imagined. Now that it was coming to an end, both of them felt uneasy.

After the concert was over, they were rushed back to the busses as usual. Ashleigh with Nick, Joey with AJ. This had become a habit. Sometimes they would go out to eat after a show, but usually Nick and Ashleigh would hide out in his hotel room, while Joey spent most of her time with AJ and Howie.

“Are we doing anything tonight?” Ashleigh asked Nick, as the two of them sat in the bus on their way back to the hotel.

Nick grinned at her. “Anything you want, baby.”

Ashleigh sighed. She wanted nothing more than to spend the entire evening in Nick’s arms, and not have to worry about the day that lay ahead of them. However, she also knew that Joey was probably feeling upset as well. Maybe if they could all go out together, it might make her feel a little better. “Joey and I have to leave tomorrow.” Ashleigh said sadly, though Nick already knew. She had mentioned it when they first got to Denver, that she wouldn’t be joining him when they left for Cincinnati. “Do you think we could go out somewhere to eat or something, with Joey? To say goodbye?”

Nick nodded, though he would have rather that they spent the night in his room, alone. “Sure. That sounds like fun.”

So, Nick, Ashleigh Joey and AJ sat in a private booth of a local pizza place together. Ashleigh was far more clingy to Nick that she had been lately. This time it didn’t bother Joey as much. Soon they would be home and Ashleigh would be heartbroken. She had anticipated this ever since they had left Minneapolis a few weeks prior. Ashleigh had seemed eager to get back on the road and leave the city. Joey suspected she had been dreading going home.

“Where are you guys going after this?” Joey asked, trying to lighten the mood a little.

“Europe.” AJ answered, glancing in Nick’s direction. There was no way he was going to be able to keep in contact with Ashleigh while they were overseas.

“I wish I could go to Europe.” Ashleigh muttered, moving in closer to Nick.

Joey ignored her, knowing there wasn’t really anything she could say that would make Ashleigh feel better. “That sounds exciting. I’ve never been outside of North America.”

Nick kissed the top of Ashleigh’s head, making her smile sadly. “It’s not as cool as you think. We don’t really have time to go sight seeing and all that.”

“Sometimes we get to do a couple of neat things.” AJ interjected. “We went on a helicopter tour once.”

“That sounds cool.” Joey said, peeking at Ashleigh. She had her head on Nick’s shoulder and was staring downwards. The drive home was not going to be fun.

Once they were finally back in the hotel room, Ashleigh forcefully kissed Nick. They collapsed onto the bed as per the usual, both of them knowing that this was going to be the last time that they were together for a while.

Ashleigh wanted so badly to tell Nick how he had exceeded her expectations in every way. Over the past couple of months she’d began to see him for the person he really was, and not just the character she’d created in her head. She had never seriously thought that she and Nick would meet and fall in love in the spectacular way that they had.

Over the short time she’d known him, he’d become her envision of the perfect boyfriend. He’d treated her well, they’d had amazing sex and he was gorgeous. He was everything that her eighteen year old self had needed.

But she had kept herself from telling him how she really felt, not really knowing how to go about doing it. She’d never had a serious boyfriend before this, and didn’t really know what to expect.

Nick kissed her quickly before turning to his side of the bed. The fact that Ashleigh was leaving didn’t bother him too much. The only thing that would change was that he’d go back to feeling lonely and miserable. He’d noticed that Ashleigh seemed quite upset about the fact that they were leaving. Not that he could blame her, this had probably been the experience of a lifetime for her.

“I’ll miss you Nick…” She said quietly, and Nick turned around and kissed her cheek.

“I’ll miss you too.” He replied, though it wasn’t exactly Ashleigh he would miss rather than the companionship.

“I really want to go with you to Europe.” She said, a pleading look in her eyes. Though, it wasn’t Nick that was stopping her from going with him. It was the fact that she had already registered to start University in a week.

“I know.” Nick said, pulling her into a hug. “It’ll be okay. I’ll see you when I get back.”

Ashleigh stayed silent for a moment, not wanting their evening to end. She wanted so much at that moment to tell him she loved him, and couldn’t wait until he was back, but again she stopped herself. She wanted him to say it first.

He didn’t though. Instead they laid silently with one another until they fell asleep. Ashleigh, dreading the fact that she had to leave the boy she’d grown to love and Nick, irritated that he was going to have to return to feeling uncomfortable around Brian and Leighanne.

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