My Happy Ending – Chapter 2

Two weeks later, Ashleigh awoke rather early. She was feeling a little apprehensive, so she decided to go down to the kitchen and make herself some tea.

That day was Nick’s 30th birthday. The other four Backstreet Boys would be flying into Tampa to attend Nick’s party. It wasn’t going to be anything extravagant, just dinner at a nice restaurant and possibly coffee afterwards, but Ashleigh was beyond nervous. Since she and Nick had dealt with having a long distance relationship for the most part, they hardly spent time with other people when they were together. As such, Ashleigh hadn’t really met the others since reuniting with Nick.

“Happy birthday, Nicky.” Ashleigh said when she heard him finally make his way downstairs about an hour later.

“You’re up early.” He commented, sitting down beside her.

Ashleigh gave him a soft smile. “I wasn’t feeling well.” She told him.

A look of concern washed over his face. “Are you going to be okay to go out tonight? You don’t have to. We can reschedule.”

Ashleigh smiled at him. As much as she really wanted to agree to that, she knew she couldn’t. It was Nick’s birthday, and an important one at that. “No, I’m sure it’s just nerves.” She reassured him, taking another sip of her tea.

I should be the one that’s nervous Nick thought to himself. “Why would you be nervous?” He asked her.

Ashleigh shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m kind of scared of the others.” She admitted.

Nick gave her a strange look. “What? Why?”

Ashleigh shrugged, feeling a little embarrassed. “I don’t know. They only know me as crazy Ashleigh.” She said with a small laugh. She knew she was being paranoid, but she really couldn’t help it. Looking back now, she couldn’t believe the way she’d acted back then.

“I love crazy Ashleigh.” Nick said, giving her a tight hug. “You’re so cute Nick! Tee-hee!” He joked, making fun of her days as a Backstreet Boys fanatic.

Ashleigh rolled her eyes. That was exactly what she had been worried about. That the others would only see her as the teenybopper she used to be. “I’m not like that anymore.” She said defensively.

Nick gave her a look. “Yeah, I kind of figured that.” He said, before kissing her. “They’ll love you, don’t worry about it. Now, where are my presents?” He said with a boyish grin.

“I didn’t get you anything.” Ashleigh said seriously.

Nick pretended to pout, giving her puppy dog eyes. “But…it’s my 30th birthday! It’s over the hill!”

“You are so not over the hill.” She laughed, getting up from her chair to retrieve Nick’s gift. He sat anxiously in the kitchen waiting, though he knew whatever she was going to give him wouldn’t match the look on her face that evening. That was what he was really excited about.

Soon enough, Ashleigh returned with a gift wrapped package. “I wanted to wait until tonight.” She giggled, knowing that Nick wouldn’t have been able to hold out so long. This childish quality in him was just one of the many things that attracted her to him.

Nick gave Ashleigh a wide grin as she handed him his gift. Tearing through the paper, he held up a purple and gold football jersey.

“Ashleigh!” He exclaimed, not knowing whether to laugh or scold her.

“What?” She asked innocently. Nick was always going on about how much he loved the Tampa bay team, she figured she’d give him something from her state. That, and she’d wanted to see the look on his face when he’d opened it.

“It’s the Vikings.” Nick said, giving her a playful look.

“Love me, love my Minnesota.” Ashleigh replied, sticking out her tongue. Nick grinned and pulled her onto his lap.

“Well, I guess I haven’t got a choice.” He chuckled, kissing her softly.

That night, Ashleigh nervously stepped into the restaurant with Nick. The waitress led them into a private room. Everyone else had arrived already. There were the other four Backstreet Boys of course, their wives and Nick’s siblings. The party had been kept relatively low-key, and Nick’s other friends were planning on talking him out the following weekend.

“Nicky!” AJ exclaimed as Ashleigh and Nick stepped into the room. “The big 3-0!”

Nick rolled his eyes as the others teased him about being old. He and Ashleigh quickly took their seats. Ashleigh leaned in close to Nick, suddenly feeling very shy.

“I guess I should introduce all of you.” Nick started, putting his arm around Ashleigh. “I know you guys have met before under…different circumstances.” He continued. “But, this is my girlfriend Ashleigh.”

Ashleigh could feel her face turn redder by the second. She was sure that the others thought she was just a crazy fan and that Nick had no clue what he was doing. She smiled and waved a quick hello to everyone.

“Ash, this is Brian, Leighanne, Kevin, Kristin, AJ, Rachel, Howie and Leigh.” Nick introduced his band members and their wives. “And these are my sisters; BJ, Leslie and Angel. And of course you know Aaron.” He said with a smirk.

Ashleigh remained silent for the bulk of the evening. She hardly knew these people, didn’t exactly know what she should say to them. Of course Nick made every attempt he could to talk to Ashleigh and get her to join into the conversation, but Ashleigh still felt as though she was out of place.

Nick looked over at Ashleigh. She was being uncharacteristically quiet. Nick smiled to himself. As far as he was concerned, the evening was perfect. Everyone he loved was in the same room. Suddenly he didn’t feel quite so nervous anymore.

“Guys,” Nick started. “If you don’t mind, there’s something I’d like to say.”

Ashleigh looked at Nick as the room fell silent. What could he possibly have to say? He’d already made a long and wordy toast before they’d received their food. However, when Nick knelt down in front of her, she had a sick feeling that she knew what was coming. Oh God She thought. He’s not going to…

“Nine years ago, you walked into my life. I was stupid at first and didn’t realize what I had. I’m thankful every day that I ran into you again and that you gave me another chance.”

Ashleigh stared at him. He couldn’t possibly he proposing. No, he was just giving another wordy speech about how much he loved her.

“You are my life, my love, my everything.” Nick continued. “Ashleigh Marie Dane, will you marry me?”

Ashleigh’s breath caught in her throat. He had to be joking…but Nick looked at her in all seriousness. His eyes were filled with love, and his outstretched hand was holding a diamond engagement ring.

She could feel everyone staring at them, awaiting her response. How could she say no to him, in front of all these people, and on his birthday? She figured he hadn’t meant it that way, he had to have been certain she would say yes. She didn’t know what else she could do. What felt like an hour was in reality only a matter of seconds. She loved Nick, yes, but she didn’t know if she was ready to get married yet. Especially since her previous engagement hadn’t worked out so well.

“Nick, I love you…” She started, but was unable to finish as Nick’s lips silenced her.

Just like that, Nick was slipping the ring on her finger and the others were congratulating them like crazy. If Ashleigh had been uncomfortable before, it was nothing compared to this. She hadn’t said yes! She sighed and forced herself to smile. What was she going to do?

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