My Happy Ending – Chapter 23

Once Nick and Ashleigh arrived home from Atlanta, Nick promptly put his plan of proposing back into action. As soon as he felt they were settled back home and had most of their things unpacked, he had set out on his quest to find the perfect ring.

He’d thought about just giving Ashleigh the engagement ring he’d used before, but upon looking at it again he didn’t feel it was appropriate. All the memories that ring held were full of angst and turmoil. That, and he wanted to surprise Ashleigh, he figured she’d just be expecting the other ring.

So, Nick walked around what he felt like was every jewellery store in the city. Every engagement ring he saw looked basically the same, a plain band with a diamond in the middle. They bored him, and didn’t seem to be quite what he was looking for.

After what seemed like an eternity, Nick finally spotted something that caught his eye. It wasn’t the most complex ring he’d ever seen, but it seemed to be more what he was looking for than just something generic. A white gold ring, with a sapphire in the middle and four small diamonds on either side. Simply put, it was perfect.

The following evening, Nick had carefully laid out all of his plans. He’d picked up dinner, got his boat ready and made sure everything was in order.

“Ash!” Nick called, rushing up the stairs to the bedroom. “Close your eyes.” He instructed, upon entering the room.

Ashleigh gave Nick a look, but did as she was told.

“Keep them closed.” Nick said, as he took her hands and led her down the stairs. Ashleigh only giggled, but continued to keep her eyes closed as Nick had told her to.

Leading her out through the back door and down to the beach, Nick kept a close watch on Ashleigh to make sure she wasn’t peeking. However, Ashleigh knew where she was upon feeling the sand beneath her feet. “You’re taking me to the boat aren’t you?” She asked with a laugh.

“Shhh!” Nick commanded. “You’re going to ruin the surprise.”

Ashleigh shook her head, but continued to keep her eyes closed. “Sorry.” She said. “God Nick, you’d better not be taking me to Chili’s!” She joked, her voice full of fake annoyance.

Nick helped Ashleigh onto the boat, and once he had them going, he sat down beside her. “Okay, you can open them now.” He said, pulling food out of the cooler.

As she’d predicted, they were indeed sitting on his boat. “Nick, you are too predictable.” She laughed, and then peered down at the food that was set in front of her. “Oh, sushi! Where did you get this?”

Nick laughed. “I just went and picked it up right before I brought you down here.” He said. “Do you get it?” He asked.

“Get what?” Ashleigh said, breaking apart a pair of chopsticks are starting to eat.

“Our first date.” Nick explained, intently watching Ashleigh eat and trying to figure out how exactly she was using the chopsticks. “We went to Fuji-Ya, in Minneapolis, remember?”

Ashleigh grinned and nodded her head. “I thought our first date was at The Avalon.” She said, and when Nick gave her a confused look, she explained further. “In Boston.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “That does not count as a date.” He said seriously, breaking apart his own pair of chopsticks.

Ashleigh laughed. “I know. I was joking. Jeez.” She said, and watched as Nick failed miserably at eating his food. “You still can’t eat with chopsticks.” She laughed.

“I’m trying!” Nick insisted, but soon gave up and used the plastic fork he’d packed just in case.

Once the two of them finished their meal, Ashleigh cuddled up in Nick’s lap and leaned her head against his chest. “Now what?” She asked impatiently.

“Hmm?” Nick said, playing with Ashleigh’s hair. He noticed she’d let it grow out a little longer than she usually did, falling about an inch above her shoulders. “You should grow your hair out long again.” He commented.

Ashleigh sighed, Nick was going to drag this out wasn’t he? “It was so hard to maintain.” She said. “I cut it the second year of university, and I was able to sleep in an extra twenty minutes.” She laughed.

“It was cute.” Nick said, leaning over and kissing her.

“Niiiick.” She whined. “You’re killing me.”

Nick laughed at Ashleigh’s impatience. It was hard to believe that just under a year ago she’d been so opposed to them getting married. Now she was sitting here on the edge of her seat waiting for him to ask her again. “What are you talking about?” He asked innocently. “All we’re doing is having a quiet evening on the boat.”

Ashleigh rolled her eyes and turned around to kiss Nick. “You’re bad at lying.” She said in between kisses.

Soon enough, Ashleigh and Nick were lying breathlessly underneath the depths of the blankets Nick had put on the boat earlier that afternoon. Their clothing was scattered all around them and the sun was starting to set.

“See, now my pants are all the way over there.” Nick said as the two of them rested together. “And I can’t just expertly pull things out of my pockets.” He said with a laugh.

Ashleigh laughed. The fact that she knew Nick was going to propose to her made the entire evening even more passionate than any other date they’d had. It also gave them quite a bit of cause for bantering back and forth, which she found to be highly amusing. “Why, is there something in there you want me to have?” She asked innocently.

Nick shrugged. “Maybe. Why don’t you have a look?”

Ashleigh beamed and as fast as she could started rummaging through Nick’s pockets. Nick snickered to himself, and while she searched he pulled the ring out of its hiding place beside the cooler.

Ashleigh bit her lip as she came up with nothing. Evidently, Nick was fooling her again. She turned to face him once again, and her breath caught in her throat.

Nick was sitting beside her, his hand outstretched, holding the ring she’d so desperately been looking for between his thumb and forefinger.

“I hate you.” She joked, staring at him, waiting for him to make a move.

Nick only grinned. “I love you.”

“You’re horrible.” She laughed, the breeze causing her to shiver a little.

“You’re wonderful.” He replied, still staring at her.

Ashleigh didn’t say anything in response, she only watched him as he stared into her eyes.

“Marry me.” He said softly.

Ashleigh pretended to consider that for a moment. She put her finger over her mouth, as if to pretend she was thinking. “Well…” She said, smiling. “I guess.”

Nick shook his head, and placed the ring on Ashleigh’s finger. “You’re ridiculous.” He laughed, kissing her.

She only smiled at him, and looked down at her hand. For the first time, she noticed that it was a different ring than Nick had used last time he’d proposed to her. “You didn’t have to buy me a new ring, Nick.”

“I know.” Nick said, kissing her hand. “But I thought this one was perfect. Sapphire, for September… for us…”

“And for James.” Ashleigh replied, kissing Nick’s lips softly.

“And for James.” Nick agreed, hugging her.

“I love you Nick.” Ashleigh said quietly, as he pulled the blanket up around them.

“I love you too.” He replied as he held her. “So much.”

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