My Happy Ending – Chapter 22

“You guys made it safely!” Leighanne gushed as she answered the door. Nick and Ashleigh had just arrived in Atlanta after spending a few days planning flights and packing their things. “Come in, come in.”

“Hey Leigh.” Ashleigh said, as Leighanne pulled her in for a hug. “Thanks for inviting us.”

“No problem.” Leighanne replied with a grin, as Brian entered the room, followed closely by Baylee.

“Hey guys.” Brian said, offering the two of them a warm smile. “Ashleigh, I don’t think you and Baylee have met before.”

Ashleigh glanced down at the boy standing beside Brian. Of course she’d seen pictures of him before, but she couldn’t deny that he was even more adorable in person. “Hi Baylee.” She said, looking down at him. “I’m Nick’s girlfriend.”

Baylee looked up at Nick, and laughed a little. “You like girls?” He asked, wrinkling his nose?

Ashleigh giggled, and Nick pulled her in close to him. “Nah.” He said, kissing her check quickly. “I only like this girl.”

Ashleigh rolled her eyes at Nick’s cheesy remark. “I heard you guys had your ten year anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations.” She said.

Brian and Leighanne grinned at each other. “Thanks.” Leighanne replied. “And you guys have been going out for a while now too, haven’t you?”

“Two years on the sixth.” Ashleigh said happily.

It was then that Baylee interjected. “Nick, I want to show you my basketball hoop.” He said, pulling Nick away from Ashleigh and towards the backyard.

Brian laughed a little as his son pulled Nick away. “I guess I’ll go with them.” He said, quickly following the two of them.

Once the boys were outside, Leighanne turned to Ashleigh. “I know you probably hate it when people ask you this, but how are you guys doing?”

Ashleigh shrugged. Though there were still times when she felt upset, she was slowly starting to heal and feel better. “Better.” She replied, sitting down on the couch in the living room. “Getting out of the house really helps us a lot.”

Leighanne shook her head. She couldn’t fathom the amount of pain that Ashleigh and Nick must have gone through. “How’s Nick doing?”

Ashleigh sighed. That was a tricky question. She knew Nick was upset, that much was obvious. Though, he’d been focusing so much of his energy on making sure that she was alright that he hadn’t talked about how he was feeling himself very much. “He’s been very sweet. I don’t know if he knows how much I appreciate how much he’s been there for me.”

Leighanne nodded. She had to admit, she was quite proud of Nick. She’d seen him at his worst and at times had never thought he would grow out of his bad habits. “You should tell him.” She said. “I’ve never seen Nick this happy with a girl. You two are wonderful together.”

Ashleigh blushed a little. It certainly meant a lot to her that Leighanne felt that way. Especially since Ashleigh had felt that the others didn’t quite accept her as Nick’s girlfriend. “Thanks, Leigh.”

That night, Ashleigh lay silently awake in bed beside Nick. She couldn’t fall asleep, her mind was racing. Nick really had been sweet to her over the last little while. He’d taken care of her, even when she knew he was feeling pain as well.

All she’d wanted was to have Nick’s child and raise it while the three of them lived happily ever after as a family. Through losing their son, she and Nick had only grown closer and solidified their relationship. In fact, Ashleigh felt as though she loved him more than she had before any of their problems started. The fact of the matter was, they’d been faced with a number of issues and they’d managed to make it through them together.

She rolled over, and looked at Nick. He was sleeping so peacefully, and it made her smile. Her thoughts drifted to nearly a year prior, when he’d proposed to her, and when she’d been terrified of the thought. Thinking over it again, it didn’t seem too scary. She wondered if Nick still felt that way, if he still wanted to marry her. After everything they’d been through together, would he have changed his mind? Ashleigh didn’t think so, after all he seemed to be happy with her.

“Nicky…” Ashleigh said, gently shaking him awake. “Are you sleeping?”

“Yes.” Nick mumbled, pulling the comforter over himself.

“Nick…seriously.” Ashleigh said, shaking him again.

Nick sighed, rolling over to face her. He was ridiculously tired, why did Ashleigh always want to have serious talks with him at night? Nevertheless, he opened his eyes and smiled at her. “What’s up?”

“Thank you for being so nice to me.” Ashleigh said simply, kissing him on the cheek. “I love you.”

Nick closed his eyes, starting to drift off to sleep again. “I love you too.” He mumbled.

Ashleigh hardly noticed that he was slipping away again. Instead she continued to talk, not really knowing what she was supposed to say to describe how she was feeling. “You’ve just been so perfect… I don’t know how I would have got through this without you. I never want you to leave me.” She said, cuddling up to him.

“I won’t leave you, Ash.” Nick replied, still half asleep, putting his arm around her.

Ashleigh took in a deep breath, afraid of the answer to the question she was about to ask. “Do you still want to marry me, Nick?”

Nick’s eyes shot open at that moment. Did she really just say what he thought she said? Was she actually bringing up the taboo marriage subject? “What?” He asked, unsure if he’d heard her correctly.

Ashleigh bit her lip, and looked up at him. “I want to marry you.”

Nick searched Ashleigh’s eyes for any indication that she was joking, but she just started at him in all seriousness and vulnerability. He could hardly believe it, he hadn’t expected her to change her mind so quickly.

Then again, they’d been faced with quite a bit over the past year. In between Ashleigh denying his first proposal, their surprise pregnancy and the subsequent loss of that pregnancy, they really had managed to beat the odds and stay together. Even still, Nick thought that they’d come out stronger because of it.

“I want to marry you too.” He said slowly, and almost immediately Ashleigh began to attack him with kisses. “But.” Nick said, in between her kisses. “I don’t want to do this here.”

“What?” Ashleigh asked, pulling back a little.

“I don’t have the ring… and isn’t it supposed to be me who proposes to you?” Nick asked, though he was grateful it was Ashleigh who had brought up the subject.

Ashleigh rolled her eyes. “I don’t care.”

Nick kissed her softly on the forehead, and laid back down on the bed. “Just let me take care of it, okay?” He asked.

Ashleigh nodded, after everything he’d done for her, she figured she might as well let him propose how he wanted to. “Okay Nick.” She said with a smile. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Nick replied softly, before they both drifted off to sleep.

“I’m glad you’re awake.” Nick said the next morning, as he had tip toed out of the guest room and into the kitchen. There sat Brian at the table, sipping a mug of coffee and reading the newspaper. “I need to talk to you about something before Ashleigh wakes up.”

Brian quickly set the paper down and looked at Nick. “What’s up?”

Nick fidgeted a little with the edge of his t-shirt. “She kind of… said she wanted to marry me.”

Brian narrowed his eyes at Nick, unsure of where he was going. As far as he’d known, Nick had been the one who wanted to get married all along and it had been Ashleigh who had said they should wait. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Nick nodded his head quickly. “Yeah! But… I told her I wanted to be the one to propose. So… how do I do that?”

Brian chuckled a little. “You didn’t ask for my help the first time.”

Nick pouted. “I didn’t think I needed help the first time! I mean, I know she’s going to say yes and all, I just want it to be perfect. Things have been so hard for us lately, I want to start off this part of our relationship right.” He said, looking at the ground.

“That’s sweet, Nick.” Brian replied. “Just find something meaningful.”

Nick thought about that for a moment. Something meaningful? Suddenly an idea sprung to his head, and a grin crept up on his face. “You’re right. Thanks Bri.”

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