My Happy Ending – Chapter 3

“That was interesting.” Leighanne commented as she and Brian entered their hotel room. They were only in Tampa for that evening, and then they would be flying back home to Atlanta.

“I didn’t realize Nick was so serious with her.” Brian said. Truthfully, he wasn’t really sure what was going through Nick’s head. Granted, the two of them hadn’t talked very much since taking a break after the Unbreakable tour but he thought he would have said something. Plus, he remembered Ashleigh from before. All too well. “I mean, I knew they were seeing each other again, I just thought it was…”

“The same as last time?” Leighanne finished his sentence. Nick’s previous relationship with Ashleigh had been anything but serious. It was a stretch to call it a relationship even.

“I’m just not sure he knows what he’s getting himself into.” Brian sighed. “Nick’s so blind when it comes to girls. He runs into her at one of the concerts, and now they’re living together and getting married?”

Leighanne nodded. “I know. She didn’t really seem like she’d changed much, did she? She still just kind of clung to Nick and didn’t talk to anyone else.”

Brian somewhat agreed with that. Though he felt a little guilty making judgements on someone he barely knew. “Yeah. Maybe I’ll have a talk with him.”

Leighanne chuckled a little. “You think you’ll be able to talk any sense into him?”

Brian smiled. “I doubt it. But it’ll be worth a try.”


Ashleigh sulked as she listened to Nick babble the entire way home. He talked about how happy he was, and how great their life was going to be and how wonderful his birthday had been.

She wanted to throw up.

It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be with him. She just wished he could have taken things slower. She’d just moved in with him, and now he wanted to get married? Add to the fact that she hadn’t gotten the friendliest vibe from the others. Needless to say, she was not in the greatest mood. She kept silent for most of the ride home and Nick didn’t seem to notice. He was talking a million words a minute, and obviously very happy.

She didn’t know what to do. If she told him she didn’t want to marry him yet, it would probably break him. Ashleigh didn’t want to do that. She also didn’t have anywhere to go in the event that he got really upset with her. She still didn’t know anyone in Florida.

So she kept her mouth shut as she drove.

When they got home, Nick was obviously exhausted. Kissing her softly, he told her he loved her. She gave him a genuine smile and told him that she loved him too. Sighing, she grabbed the cordless phone and sat in the spare bedroom on the other side of the house. Not that it really mattered, Nick was basically dead to the world.

“This had better be good, Ash.” Joey muttered, half asleep as she answered the phone.

“Nick asked me to marry him.” Ashleigh blurted out, not wanting to beat around the bush.

“What?” Joey asked, instantly waking up. “Congratulations!” She said excitedly.

“No!” Ashleigh exclaimed, feeling somewhat lost and a little worried that her best friend was going to take Nick’s side. “Not congratulations!”

Joey was somewhat confused. “What? Why not?”

Ashleigh sighed. “Because. It’s too soon. We’ve been going out for a year. I’ve been living here for two weeks. Everything’s all well and good now but who knows what’s going to happen in the future? I cannot make that kind of commitment yet.” She explained.

“Well, what did you tell him?”

“I didn’t! He gave me this big speech about how I meant the world to him and whatever. It was in front of everyone, Joe! They were all looking at me and judging me. And I told Nick I loved him… and he took that as yes…”

Joey paused for a moment. That was a sticky situation. “I’m sorry Ash.”

“I can’t do this. When we get engaged I want it to be when we’re both ready. Not because he’s too rash and doesn’t think about things.” Ashleigh continued to ramble.

“You should tell him. Just let him know you aren’t ready yet and that this was a big shock to you.” Joey advised.

“I guess so.” Ashleigh mumbled. She really didn’t want to see the look on Nick’s face when she told him that. She knew it was going to upset him a great deal.

When Ashleigh finally slipped into bed beside Nick, she glanced at him sadly. He had the covers wrapped around himself in a disordered manner and his hair was sticking out in every direction. She giggled a little, he really was adorable.

“Ashleigh…” Nick said the next morning, nudging her awake.

“Hmmm?” She asked, not opening her eyes.

“Howie and Leigh called, they want to know if we want to go out for lunch with them before their flight leaves.”

Ashleigh cringed. There was that sick nervous feeling again. However, this was the least she could do for Nick before tearing his heart in half. “Yeah okay.” She replied, getting up.

“Did you have fun last night?” Nick asked her as she made her way to the washroom. “No one said anything to you, I think they liked you.”

Ashleigh just nodded as she looked at herself in the mirror. She wasn’t in any mood at all to discuss the events of the night before. She felt ridiculously nervous, probably due to the fact that she was going to have to tell Nick she didn’t want to marry him, as well as having to go out to lunch with his friends.

Yet before she knew it, she was sitting on a patio, sipping grapefruit juice and chatting with Nick, Howie and Leigh.

“So, how are you enjoying Florida, Ashleigh?” Leigh asked her.

Ashleigh snapped back to reality. Again she had been agonizing over her impending conversation with Nick. “It’s great.” She said with a smile. “You couldn’t ever sit on the patio in Minnesota in January.” She added with a laugh.

Nick put his arm around Ashleigh, finally things seemed to be falling into place for him. He and Ashleigh were now engaged, and that made him happier than he ever thought he could have been. He hadn’t had any doubt in his mind that she would accept, after all she’d been engaged once before.

Ashleigh stole a quick glance at Nick. It pained her to see him smiling away, not knowing that in a couple of hours she was going to bring his world crashing down. She debated with herself over and over again. Maybe she should just go through with it and not tell him. Then again, if it didn’t work out that would hurt much worse than if they had just never gotten married in the first place. Simply put, they just hadn’t been together long enough for Ashleigh to even consider marrying him. Of course she had daydreamed about it (many, many times) but that didn’t necessarily mean she wanted it right this instant. No, postponing things was definitely the right thing to do.

“Ash?” Nick tapped her on the shoulder. She’d gone off into space again. “Did you decide what you wanted to eat?”

Ashleigh had hardly even glanced at the menu. Between her internal struggle over what to tell Nick, and trying to impress Howie and Leigh she hadn’t given food a second thought. “Um, I’ll just have a salad.” She said. Food was the last thing on her mind.

Nick gave her a strange look. That was hardly like her, usually she ate as much as he did. Or at least attempted to. “Are you sure?” He asked.

She nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure. I’m not all that hungry.”

The rest of them ordered and again, Howie turned to Ashleigh. He figured he may as well try to get to know her a little better. She had to have grown up some in the last few years. Otherwise Nick wouldn’t be with her, right? “What kind of music do you listen to?”

Ashleigh didn’t quite know how to answer that. All she listened to was 90’s teen pop. Somehow, she didn’t think that would be the best answer. She racked her brain to come up with something, anything… “I don’t know. I like everything.” She internally scolded herself. What a generic, boring answer.

“You used to be a Backstreet Boys fan, right? That’s how you and Nick met?” Leigh asked, and Nick shot Howie a glare. Evidently that subject was taboo.

Ashleigh managed to keep her cool. “Sort of. Nick and I were…friends back during their tour in 2001. My friend and I decided to go to a concert for kicks two summers ago and I met up with Nick again. The rest, as they say, is history.” She laughed, proud of herself for managing not to have a nervous breakdown. Even though that wasn’t exactly how things went down. “How did you guys meet?” She asked, though her days as a Backstreet fan had already given her the answer.

Leigh grinned, obviously happy to talk about Howie and herself. “I was their webmaster.” She said.

Ashleigh nodded. “That’s cool.” She was beginning to feel a little more relaxed around them. Perhaps things weren’t so bad after all.

Still, she had her impending conversation with Nick to look forward to. She smiled, trying to look happy despite the impending disaster that was sure to follow.


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