My Happy Ending – Chapter 26

“Nick?” Ashleigh asked as she peeked her head into the basement. As Nick usually did when he was upset, he was sitting in front of the television playing video games.

“Hey Ash.” Nick said, not taking his eyes off the screen. “You want to play some Halo?” He asked, holing up the other controller.

“Uh, no.” Ashleigh replied, shaking her head. She couldn’t ever recall a time she’d actually played Halo with Nick, though that didn’t stop him from asking her repeatedly. She would have much rather played Mario Kart. Regardless, she walked down the stairs and sat beside him. “I’m sorry I brought up the whole issue about your mom.” She said, biting her lip.

Nick continued to concentrate on his game. “It’s fine.”

Ashleigh just sat quietly, not really knowing what else to say. She didn’t want to push any further because that had upset Nick the last time, but on the other hand she really did want to get Nick to open up to her about this.

“Have you finished doing the invitations?” Nick asked her after a few minutes of silence. Well, silence on their part anyway. His game was rather loud.

“Yeah.” Ashleigh replied. “I’m going to send them out first thing tomorrow morning.” Then she laughed a little. “You should see the little note I put inside Kate’s.”

“Oh?”

Ashleigh continued to giggle, amused by her wit. “Yeah, it said ‘Plus guest: Note, ex fiancées of the bride do not count as guests’.”

Nick laughed. “Good one. What do you think she’ll do?”

Ashleigh shrugged. “She’ll probably phone me to bitch. Either that, or they’ll be broken up by then.”

Nick nodded. “you sure you don’t want to play?” He asked, once again picking up the other controller and waving it in front of her.

Ashleigh shook her head. “You know that game makes me dizzy. I’ll play something else with you.”

Nick groaned. “Ashleigh, I’m sick of Mario Kart.”

Ashleigh flashed him a grin as she looked through Nick’s other games. “Well, if you bought something other than Halo…” She joked.

“Hey!” Nick defended himself. “I have Zelda too!”

Ashleigh rolled her eyes and gave Nick a look. “That’s a one player game.”

Nick sighed, admitting defeat. “Fine. Put in Mario Kart.”

That night, Nick found he was having trouble falling asleep. Ashleigh’s comment about his mom has brought up some memories that he’d much rather have forgotten. He really didn’t like thinking about his mom, but he had to admit he felt a little guilty. After all, she was his mother. Ashleigh didn’t have the luxury of deciding whether to invite both of her parents to her wedding, as such Nick could understand why Ashleigh had felt it was important for him to invite his mom.

However, he worried. He and his mom hadn’t talked in well over three years, and it scared him to tihnk of what might be said. He worried that she would guilt trip him, that she wouldn’t like Ashleigh and that she would just create a lot of unnecessary issues that they really shouldn’t have to deal with on their wedding day.

Then again, she was his mother. She might get upset if she found out she wasn’t invited. Perhaps if they invited her, she wouldn’t even bother to come. Then Nick’s conscience would be clear, and he wouldn’t have to deal with her.

Somehow, he doubted that would be the case.

He looked over at Ashleigh, sleeping soundly right beside him. He paused for a moment, wanting to talk to her, but not wanting to wake her up. Though, he remembered all the times that she’d woken him up during the night when she’d wanted to talk.

“Ashleigh.” Nick said, nudging her awake.

“Mmm.” Ashleigh mumbled, rolling over slightly but not exactly waking up.

“I need to talk to you.” He said, shifting down a little from his sitting position. “About my mom.”

Hearing this piqued Ashleigh’s interest. She opened her eyes and sat up a little. “What about her Nick?”

Nick sighed. “I don’t know. I just… I can’t have her at the wedding.” He said, not really sure how to get the right words out.

“I know.” Ashleigh said, once again feeling guilty for bringing up the whole issue.

“You must think I’m so ungrateful.” Nick said looking at her with sadness lingering in his eyes. “That I could take my family for granted like that.”

Ashleigh shook her head and rested her head on his shoulder. “I don’t think that at all.”

“She just stirs up so much shit.” Nick attempted to explain. “She’s such a fucking drama queen. I’m scared that she’d throw a fit, or not like you and it would ruin our day.” He said, running his hands through his hair. “She’d need to have all the attention on her and I just couldn’t handle that.” He said.

Ashleigh nodded. Inwardly, she scolded herself. She should have known all of this about Jane Carter. She’d been a fan, she’d read the stories. Of course, Ashleigh hadn’t known how much of it was really true until that point. “It’s okay Nick.” She said. “I understand.”

“You really don’t want to meet her, Ash.” Nick said, reiterating his points from before. “Really, you’re not missing much.”

Ashleigh nodded in agreement, not really sure she actually wanted to meet the woman responsible for putting Nick through such pain. “I’m sorry for asking you about her.” She said sincerely.

“It’s okay. I should have explained it better.” He replied, leaning over and kissing her. Grinning, he flipped Ashleigh over on to her back. “You know… while we’re both awake…”

“It’s too poofy.” Ashleigh complained, looking at herself in the mirror. The weekend before she and Nick were leaving to go to Sweden for a month or so, she had flown up to Minneapolis to go dress shopping with Joey.

Joey rolled her eyes. “Ash, you haven’t liked anything.”

Ashleigh looked back at her friend, trying to muster up a response, however she came up with nothing. “That’s not… okay fine.”

Joey laughed. “Weren’t you supposed to have the perfect wedding dress in your mind since you were like, five?”

Ashleigh sighed, looking at herself in the mirror once again. She felt as though she’d tried on over a million dresses, and nothing had jumped out at her. “These are all just…”

“What?” Joey asked, not sure what Ashleigh was getting at.

“I don’t know!” Ashleigh replied, going back into the change room. “God. They’re just too complex. I just want something simple.”

Joey nodded, and continued to look through the racks as Ashleigh got changed back into her clothes. Soon enough, Ashleigh approached her best friend. “I’m bored of this. Do you want to go get lunch?” She asked.

Joey nodded, taking one final glance around the store. “Sure.”

Walking around downtown looking for a place to eat, Joey couldn’t help but notice how much happier and upbeat about the whole wedding idea Ashleigh was. Compared to the last time she was getting married, Ashleigh seemed to enjoy planning quite a bit more and took it much more seriously.

“Nick’s the one.” Joey said with a grin.

Ashleigh turned to look at her friend. “What?”

“Nick.” Joey repeated herself. “He’s the one.”

Ashleigh laughed. “Well I should hope so, I’m marrying him.”

Joey rolled her eyes. “I know that. But what I mean is, it’s for real this time. You guys really love each other.”

Again, Ashleigh gave Joey a strange look. Shouldn’t she have already come to this realization. “Of course we do.” She said. “What made you think of that all of a sudden?”

Joey shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re just so concerned with getting the perfect dress, and all that stuff. When we went dress shopping for your wedding with Matt you just picked up the first one you saw.”

Ashleigh nodded, understanding where Joey was coming from. “Well, I guess this is really it.” She grinned. “I mean come on, Joe. It’s Nick Carter.” She joked.

Joey laughed, remembering when Ashleigh had insisted on planning her wedding with Nick Carter back when they were in Junior High School. “Do you remember when you signed your name ‘Ashleigh Carter’ on that report we had to do for Mrs. Brooke in grade nine? She got so angry at you.”

Ashleigh giggled. “I’d love to see the look on her face now.”

Joey smiled. She felt unbelievably happy for her best friend. “You and Nick really are perfect for each other Ash.”

Ashleigh blushed a little at Joey’s compliment. Still, she couldn’t help but agree with her. She couldn’t have imagined facing the past year with anyone else. As cheesy as she thought it was, she was starting to believe that she and Nick really were meant to be together. “Thanks, Joey.”

As the two girls entered the restaurant, Ashleigh couldn’t help but feel giddy. The next time she and Joey saw each other would be the night before her wedding.

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