My Happy Ending – Chapter 19

Ashleigh’s eyes fluttered open a few hours later, and the first thing she noticed was Nick sitting beside her, watching her intently.

“Nicky…” She said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.

Upon seeing her wake up, Nick instantly moved closer to her. He gently stroked her hair, not knowing what he could do for her.

“Tell me it was a dream.” She said weakly, but glancing around the room, Ashleigh knew that this was all quite a reality.

“I’m sorry.” Nick said, his hand still playing with her hair. He felt immeasurable amounts of guilt over the whole situation, and yet again he wished he could have made things better. “If I hadn’t stressed you out so much, and acted like such a jerk – ” He started, starting to lose his composure.

Ashleigh watched as Nick blamed himself for what had happened. She didn’t think it was his fault at all, in fact she was almost certain it wasn’t. As far as she’d known, everything had been fine up until that morning. She reached up and touched his face softly, wiping away a stray tear. “Not your fault.” She said quietly.

Nick glanced at Ashleigh, and a look of relief washed over his face. “Are you sure, because – ”

Ashleigh just shook her head. She couldn’t stand the fact that Nick was blaming himself. Especially after how well he’d treated her throughout her pregnancy, after their little hiccup anyway. “I love you, Nick. You’re perfect.”

He gave her a small half smile. It made him feel slightly better to know that Ashleigh still loved him, even while they were obviously going through such heartbreak. “I’m so sorry, Ash.” He said, frowning once again. “I know how much you wanted this.”

“You did too.” She replied, putting her hand over his. “I know that you did.”

Nick nodded, and stared out to the hallway. He’d never liked hospitals, and this wasn’t helping that fact very much. If anything, it only solidified to him that nothing good could come from a visit to one. “I really did.” He said.

For the next little while, they sat silently with each other. Ashleigh, drifting in and out of sleep and Nick holding her hand the entire time. He tried to think of something more positive, but his mind kept drifting back to the night before. When everything had been so much simpler.

“We are not sending our child to a private school, Ashleigh.” Nick said, rolling his eyes as the two lay in bed the previous night.

“Why not?” She asked, rolling over to face him. “Come on, I always wanted to go to a private school!”

Again, Nick rolled his eyes. Seeing the serious look on Ashleigh’s face however, he had to laugh a little. “The only reason you wanted to go to one was because you wanted to wear the cute outfits.”

“No!” She defended herself, trying to stifle a giggle. “I think they provide a much better education.”

Nick scoffed. “Yeah, okay.” He said sarcastically.

“Did you tell anyone?” Ashleigh asked suddenly, startling Nick. He’d thought she’d fallen asleep again.

He shook his head. That was something he wasn’t looking forward to at all. Everyone was so excited for them, always calling and reminding him to phone them the second Ashleigh went into labour. What were they going to say when he told them that it wasn’t going to happen? “No, I didn’t.”

Ashleigh sighed. Her eyes wandered around the bland walls of the hospital room. She didn’t know how she was going to be able to face going back home. Back to where everything was baby proofed, to where she and Nick had just finished setting up the nursery…

There was a soft knock on the door as a nurse peeked her head in the room. “Sorry to interrupt…” She said quietly. “Did you want to see him…?”

Ashleigh and Nick looked at each other. Ashleigh had never imagined that the first the she’d ever be holding her own child, that she’d be saying goodbye. It was certainly something she didn’t want to do, but she knew she’d regret it if she didn’t.

Nick slowly nodded his head, as if to read Ashleigh’s mind. The nurse quickly nodded a conformation and left the room.

“God.” Ashleigh said, looking at Nick. “How are we going to do this?”

“I don’t know.” Nick replied sadly.

Minutes later, the nurse returned with their son, wrapped in a soft blue blanket. Placing the child in Ashleigh’s arms, she quickly left the room to give them some privacy.

“It’s a boy.” Nick said, looking at Ashleigh cradling their baby. “What name did we decide on?”

“James Clayton Carter.” Ashleigh replied softly, not taking her eyes off her son.

“Clayton?” Nick asked, still watching Ashleigh.

“My Grandpa’s name.” She explained, glancing at him quickly. Again, she turned her gaze back to the lifeless child in her arms. “He looks like you.” She commented smiling a little. Perhaps if she pretended everything was okay it would make this easier.

Nick raised his eyebrow, bewildered by the fact that Ashleigh thought there was any resemblance between the two of them. The whole scene was bittersweet, really. Ashleigh looked natural, like she’d been born to be a mother. Only to have it end before it even began.

“The blonde.” She said, referring to the mess of blonde hair on top of their son’s head. “You guys have the same hair.”

“You and I have the same hair, Ashleigh.” Nick said, smiling a little. As bad as this whole situation was, for a few minutes he felt as though they were a real family. One that got to take their child home from the hospital and start their new life together.

“Do you want to hold him?” Ashleigh asked, looking up at Nick.

“Yeah.” Nick said softly, as Ashleigh passed James over to him. Nick looked down at the closed eyes of his first born child, and was again hit with a wave of remorse. He would give anything, if only he could make those eyes somehow open.

“I’m sorry Nicky.” Ashleigh said, her voice beginning to crack. “I wish I could fix it.”

“Me too.” Nick said, blinking his eyes rapidly to try and stop his own tears from falling. “Me too.”

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