My Happy Ending – Chapter 1

Nick smiled to himself as he waited in the terminal of the Tampa International Airport. Ashleigh’s plane was due to land any minute, and he was about to burst with excitement. She was coming to live with him. Permanently. No longer would they have to deal with tearful goodbyes and not knowing when they were going to see each other again. Instead she’d be with him every single day. Nick couldn’t be more thrilled.

They’d been together for a little over a year. During that time Nick had gone up to Minneapolis more than a few times. He’d spent Christmas up there and with Ashleigh’s family. Her mother seemed to take a liking to him, which delighted Ashleigh. She’d gone down to Florida a few times, visiting him on his birthday, a couple of times in the summer and once in the late fall.

Now she was going to be living in the same house as him. Nick could hardly believe it when she’d accepted his offer.

Nick and Ashleigh sat silently in Nick’s bedroom. It was late, and Ashleigh had an early flight the next morning. However, they both couldn’t bring themselves to go to sleep. They knew that when they woke up, all they would be facing was another goodbye.

“I don’t want to leave, Nick.” Ashleigh murmured, nuzzling her head into his bare chest.

“Then don’t.” Nick said. Ashleigh looked up at him, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. “I’m serious, Ash.”

She thought about that for a moment. Live with him? She would have to give up everything she had back at home. Minneapolis was the only home she’d ever known. Was she really ready to take that step with Nick? She’d have to sell her house, and sell Urban Bean. Well, Urban Bean wasn’t doing so well considering the Starbucks that had just moved in two stores over…

“I’ll have to get my things in order…” Ashleigh started, but she could already see the grin creep up on Nick’s face. “But yes…okay…” She said quietly.

“Really?” Nick said in disbelief. He hadn’t expected her to accept. He kissed her deeply.

Ashleigh smiled. “Not yet though. After New Years?” She asked, hoping that wouldn’t ruin Nick’s good mood.

Nick nodded quickly. That did sound good, he figured Ashleigh would have quite a few things to take care of before moving clear across the country. “That’s perfect.” He replied, hugging her tightly. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” She said excitedly.

“Nick!” Ashleigh called, practically running over to him. She was only holding her small carry-on bag, as most of her things had already been shipped out to Nick’s.

“Hey you.” Nick said, embracing her. “Did you have a good flight?”

Ashleigh wrinkled her nose. She was definitely glad that her days of flying were going to be reduced. “I guess. They played a really bad movie. I tried to sleep, but there were some loud kids…you know how it is.”

Nick chuckled a bit. He was always amused by Ashleigh’s little rants about her plane rides. “Yeah, I do. Let’s go home.” He said, putting his arm around her and walking out of the airport.

Ashleigh couldn’t help but grin. Florida was her home now. She loved the sound of that.

When she and Nick arrived home, the first thing Ashleigh did was make a beeline for the bedroom. The last thing she wanted to think about was unpacking, though it was inevitable. Boxes were littered all over the house.

“You’re going to have to unpack sometime, Ash.” Nick said, sitting down beside her.

Ashleigh pouted. “I know. Can we just wait… twenty minutes?” She asked, kissing him softly and pulling him down on top of her.

“I take longer than twenty minutes!” Nick whined in a joking manner, continuing to kiss her.

“Mmhmm…” Was Ashleigh’s only reply.

………………………………………………………………

Later that evening Nick and Ashleigh began the torturous task of unpacking Ashleigh’s things. There actually weren’t that many things, but it was something that neither of them really wanted to do. So, while Ashleigh put things away in the living room, Nick unpacked the bedroom.

As she was downstairs setting up a shelf to put her DVDs on, Nick opened the drawer of his bedside table. He peeked out into the hall, making sure Ashleigh wasn’t lurking around the corner. Inside he pulled out a small velvet box that he’d acquired a little over a month ago.

He’d considered proposing to her on New Years. He figured that would be romantic and fitting, since they’d first exchanged “I love yous” a year before. She was going to be moving in with him, it had seemed like a logical step.

Plus, he was the only un-wed Backstreet Boy at that point. AJ had gotten married earlier that year. Nick was turning 30 in a couple of weeks, he was beginning to feel as though it was time to settle down. In the end, he had lost his nerve. He hadn’t spoken to anyone about his intentions, knowing that the others wouldn’t be thrilled.

They were still weary when it came to Ashleigh. She hadn’t spent a lot of time with them, and as such his band mates still pictured her as the star struck fan she’d been so long ago. No matter how many times Nick tried to tell them that was simply not true, they didn’t exactly trust his judgement. Why should they? He didn’t exactly have the best track record. His only hope was that with Ashleigh now living with him, she’d spend more time with them and they’d soon learn how much she’d changed.

The sound of Ashleigh running up the steps made Nick jump a little. Quickly, he shoved the ring back into the drawer. “Hey!” He said, as she opened the door to the room.

“Hey…” Ashleigh replied, eyeing him strangely. “Can you come help me set up the shelf? Because I honestly have no idea how to do it.”

Nick nodded and breathed a little sigh of relief. She really had no idea what he was planning. “Sure. What do you need help with?” He asked as he followed her downstairs.

She sighed, looking at the pile of wood that lay on the floor. “Everything. Can we trade? You unpack this and I unpack the bedroom?”

Nick thought about that for a second. It worried him a little, thinking she might find the ring and his secret would be discovered. Then again, there really would be no reason for her to go into his drawer, as she had her own night table on her side of the bed. “Yeah, okay.”

Ashleigh ran upstairs and groaned at all the boxes that were inside the bedroom. It was mostly clothes, which really only meant a lot of putting things on hangers. Still, she hated unpacking. Walking over to Nick’s stereo, she decided to play some music. Eyeing a small pile of CDs beside it, she flipped through them. She didn’t find anything too interesting.

Running back to the living room, she quickly pulled her iPod out of her purse and plugged it into the stereo. Nick was far too focused on putting the shelf together to notice her.

That is, until he heard the blaring noise coming from upstairs. Intrigued, he took a break in setting up the self to go see what Ashleigh was up to. Peeking into the room, he saw her delightfully placing articles of clothing onto hangers as she sang along to her music.

“Why are you listening to this?” Nick asked in disbelief, and Ashleigh laughed as she continued to sing to the song that was nearly thirteen years old.

How did you know, ‘cause I never told
You found out
I’ve got a crush on you
No more charades
My heart’s been displayed
You found out
I’ve got a crush on you

“It came up randomly!” Ashleigh said, defending herself. She didn’t even own that CD, it had been something she’d borrowed from Joey when she was looking for new music to listen to. The CD had amused her greatly.

“Uh huh.” Nick joked. “I see how it is, you secretly want my brother.”

Ashleigh rolled her eyes. “Obviously.”

Nick went over to her mp3 and began to scroll through her songs. She had quite a collection of music, nothing too diverse though. It was mostly 90’s pop music, with a few current things thrown in here and there.

“You really need to listen to better music, Ash.” He commented, settling on an old Britney Spears song.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Excuse me, I have Backstreet Boys on there you know.”

“Well, besides that of course.” Nick said with a laugh. “At least you have once saving grace.”

“And what’s that?” She asked with a grin.

Nick grinned as he pressed play on the song he had selected

Humidity’s rising
The water’s getting low
According to all sources
The street’s the place to go

Ashleigh burst out in a fit of giggles as Nick sang along to Geri Halliwell’s remake of It’s Raining Men. “You’re such a dork!” She laughed.

Nick continued to sing along as she walked out of the room, leaving Ashleigh to continue unpacking. She continued to laugh, and began to sing along herself. If she had ever felt unsure about moving in with Nick, he certainly was doing a good job of convincing her that she was going to be perfectly happy.

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