'Hi, um, is there any other way that you can get to the top floor without taking the elevator?'
I was still holding Ashton's hand as he shuffled awkwardly next to me. The lady at the information desk looked across at us for a second, as if trying to figure out who the tall guy with the bright red face was, and why he looked so familiar.
'Sure. You can take stairs.'
She pointed over into the corner, where we could see a little doorway. Then she let out a flirty laugh, glancing back at Ashton.
'Say, you're that Ashton Irwin guy from 5 Seconds of whats-it, aren't ya?'
Ashton glanced at me, and jiggled his free hand around nervously.
'Yeah, that's me.'
Her eyes narrowed and she started to grin, leaning forward and giving us a full front of her cleavage.
'It's a long way up. 30 flights to the top.' She crossed her arms across the desk. 'You don't want to just take the elevator?' I gripped Ashton's hand. 'It's one hell of a ride, baby.'
3000% disgusted right now.
'No, thankyou, we'll be fine.'
'But wait - don't you even want a visitor's brochure?' the lady called after us in a bitter voice, and I fought the urge to throw my bag at her.
I scowled and marched away towards the staircase, pulling Ashton harshly behind me.
'Oww-w-w, Emma, let go. You're hurting my hand...'
I wrenched open the side door and tugged him inside, slamming the door behind us, fuming. I kept going, up the stairs, until I reached the next flat floor and I was struggling to contain my breath. Ashton gently used his spare hand to pry mine away from his arm. He flexed his huge fingers a few times, watching the colour return to them, before looking at me with concern.
'You ok? You almost cut off my blood circulation, like, I had no idea you were so strong.'
I took a few deep breaths and tried on a smile. I couldn't really say anything without being hypocritical of Beck and myself, especially if Ashton hadn't even noticed anything.
'Yeah, I'm okay.'
'Well - shall we...?'
A large hand appeared face-up in front of me, and I snorted and started to laugh.
Ashton sent a gorgeous smile my way.
'3 down, 27 more to go.'
'One more to go! We're almost there,' Ashton grinned down at me over the banister and I gave him a thumbs up, before looking back down at the stairs I was still trudging up. I couldn't help thinking that if we'd taken the elevator, we would've been there at least 20 minutes ago. Ashton was full of energy, bouncing up the floors and beating me every time, while I trailed behind, trying not to show him how uncomfortable and out-of-breath I was. Note to self: start swimming again. Need to get fit.
'This is why you're so fucking buff,' I muttered under my breath as I reached Ashton's level and found him leaning against the wall, calmly looking around. He giggled.
'You weren't meant to hear that,' I grumbled, and he laughed even harder.
'I'm sorry Princess. I didn't mean to make you walk all the way up.' Ashton shuffled over and gripped my waist. 'It'll be way easier when we go back down the stairs,' he kissed my cheek and slowly helped me relax.
I bit my lip and let him play with my hair for a bit, comfortably standing with my arms on his chest, leaning forward into him. We waited in silence for a while, before he jumped back.
'Hey, I've got an idea -'
I started to giggle as he swiveled around and bent over, giving me a full view of his skinny-jeaned spunky ass (a/nifievergotoam&gisweartogodiwilltellashtonhehasaspunkyass. thatismy#1thingtodo).
'Ashton, what are you-'
He peeked backwards from under his legs, curly hair drooping over his eyes.
'I'm going to carry you up the last flight! Trust me, it'll be fun!'
My stomach dropped.
'I'm in a dress...'
Ashton shook his head.
'Aw, come on, that's okay. Emma, pwwweease, come on, come on, come on?'
I laughed at his puppy face and rolled my head to the side.
'Fine. But I'm really heavy, you know.'
He made a try-me face and I rolled my eyes, grinning. Hoisting my legs up around him awkwardly, his strong arms grabbed my thighs and pulled me up so I was comfortably sitting on his back, arms loosely slung around his neck.
He turned his head to smile at me and I couldn't resist leaning forward and dropping a kiss on his forehead.
He pretending to salute, making me dissolve in laughter again, and began to climb up the stairs as if I weighed nothing.
'This is your pilot speaking, I'll be flying your plane for today, and we thank you for choosing to travel with Irwin Airlines. We hope you have a safe and fall-free jorney today-'
'Ashton!' I squealed, as one of my arms clipped the banister, and he let out a happy laugh, righting me and making sure I was okay before flicking one of his arms out like a plane wing.
'I'm that flight that you get on, international...'
I clutched his arm for balance, shouting out the next line before collapsing into giggles again.
'First class seat on my back, girl, riding comfortable...'
'I got lipstick stamps on my passport,' Ashton bounded up the last few steps and expertly slid me down and pressed me against the wall, eyes wide open, mouth spread wide in a smile.
'You make it hard to leave...' he whispered, and leant in, leaning his forehead to my own. We stared, breathless and clutching each other's arms tightly, not wanting to let go.
'We're so silly,' I smiled, and traced his jawline with a finger. 'I bet everyone could hear us.'
'There's no one around to.' Ashton let me touch his dimples for a few seconds before blowing up his cheeks and making me laugh again. 'And I know we're silly. That's what's making this so fun, right?'
He pulled away and took my hand again, making my heart beat a little faster.
'We made it, Emma - come on, let's see -'
Ashton pushed open the door, and his mouth dropped slightly.
I laughed and put my hand over his mouth. His eyes widened as he looked from left to right, panning across the massive glass window that presented the view of the city in front of us. When I was sure he wouldn't speak, I moved my hand away.
'Come on Ashton.'
I led him across to another glass door and out onto a deserted area on the viewing platform, holding his hand and waiting as he stood there in silence, drinking in the view of the city around him. We could see the whole of central Sydney. Out of the left was the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, standing out against the water. On the other side, the massive expanse of the city CBD spread out, all the way to a thin tree line that marked the suburbs. Tiny boats flitted around the harbour, lights blinking and miniscule waves of spray billowing out from behind them. The faint noise of horns and car motors came floating up towards us and I smiled, remembering how the last time I heard that noise, I was on a rooftop with Michael, admitting for the first time that I had a crush on Ashton. A group of birds flew past us and Ashton watched them go as if he had never seen a pigeon before. I traced over his knuckles gently.
'Was this worth 30 floors of hard work and body-building?'
There was a pause before he spoke, and turned to me, wrapping his arms around my waist and drawing me in.
'Without a doubt in my mind. Definitely.' He softly pressed his lips to the bridge of my nose and chucked. 'I don't know what I'm more captivated by - the view, or you.'
I raised an eyebrow up at him.
'I think the view wins hands down on that one.'
'Hmmm, I don't know, it's a close one...
He let out a giggle and gently pushed me back against the rail before stepping away and rummaging in his pocket for his phone.
'Let me get one photo...' Ashton stuck his tongue out in concentration, finally withdrawing the phone and opening his camera, focusing it on me. I rolled my eyes and covered my face.
'Emma,' he pleaded, and I huffed, reluctantly drawing my hands away.
'Did you take it?'
'Already got one,' he smirked and I ran over to him, frowning. 'It looks gorgeous, as usual. Calm down, Princess.'
'Let me see,' I tugged on his arm but he smiled and shut the screen off. 'Let's get a photo of us two,' he held his hand out to grab an old couple's attention and they graciously turned to us. 'Excuse me? Could you please take a photograph of us?'
The old man chuckled and nodded, leaning over the take the phone. His wife smiled at us.
'You two have the look of a young couple in love,' she crooned, and shared a knowing look with her husband. Uh oh.
'Well, we're not-' I giggled and started to cover up her mistake but Ashton coughed loudly and moved closer to me, resting his chin on my head
'Thank you,' he gave her an award-winning smile and the man held up the phone.
'Are you two lovebirds ready?'
Ashton tickled me so I laughed and gently helped me relax back into him for the perfect picture. When he was happy, he gave the couple a nod, and they smiled as they took the photographs.
'Thankyou for taking these,' I nodded politely at the elderly two but they waved me off.
'It's our pleasure, isn't it Stephanie dear?'
'Oh yes,' the old lady adjusted her glasses carefully and peered at us. 'Now you two have a lovely day together, won't you?' She sighed and looked at her husband who was shaking his head sadly. 'Eli and I don't see enough young, genuine love out on the streets these days.' She waggled her finger. 'Don't go ruin it!'
Ashton curled a hand around my hip and placed his lips to my red cheek.
'I don't plan on it, Mrs. This one's a keeper.'
He looked down at me with the most sincere look and I couldn't help reaching up on my toes to quickly kiss him on the lips.
'I got that one!' the man, Eli, crowed, and his wife patted his arm excitedly. 'There'll be some real sweet ones in there,' he gave us a fleeting smile as he passed back the phone to Ashton. Stephanie looked over at him lovingly and pulled her arm through his own.
'Enjoy yourselves, darlings.'
'Thankyou!' Ashton and I both smiled at them at the same time but they shrugged and gave us a wave as they shuffled off, arm in arm.
'Anything for young love!'
'We made it!'
Ashton laughed and spun me off the last step and around the foyer of level two, oblivious to the death stares I was receiving from the lady at the desk. I didn't care though - I was too giddy with happiness to give any shits at all.
'We did! And we have the tourist souvenirs to prove it,' I giggled as he finally slowed down. In my hand, I held the bag containing a snowglobe for Ashton's mum and a magnet I got for Ashton to keep himself. He had been right - going back down the stairs was by far the easiest, and we'd raced down to see who would win but just ended up laughing our heads off as we slipped and tumbled down 28 flights of stairs. Outside the window, a yellow taxi had pulled up, and Ashton quirked an eyebrow.
'Is that my magic carpet ride I see?'
'Maybe,' I chuckled and pretended to check my fingernails. 'You ready for your next adventure?'
He rubbed a hand through his curls and readjusted his bandana with the reflection on the glass.
'Well if it's anyway near as cool as what we just did, I don't know if I'm prepared...'
'Oh, Ashton Irwin,' I grabbed his hand and tugged him along towards the door, 'you sure know how to flatter a girl.' I gave him a pointed look. 'You overestimate my summer guide skills. Like, a lot.'
'But you love me for it.'
He smirked and I laughed again.
'I do, you're right. Hey, go on ahead to the steps, I'll just be a sec -'
I left Ashton and quickly ran over to the information desk, where the lady was eyeing us both carefully. When I walked up, she blew a bubble with her chewing gum and obnoxiously popped it right in my face.
'Did you have a nice time?' She sourly asked and I couldn't help grinning at her. You have no idea, bitch.
'I did! We did.' I motioned towards Ashton. 'My boyfriend and I had such a great time, we're definitely going to be back soon!' I slapped a $5 note into her tip container and plucked a shiny brochure from her pocket. 'Thanks for all your help - we really appreciated it. Keep an eye out for us next time!'
I gave her a finger wave and left her speechless, smiling to myself happily as I skipped back over to Ashton. A strand of hair was in his eyes, and his nose was scrunched perfectly in confusion.
'What was that all about?'
I shook my head, grabbing his cheeks and standing up on tiptoe, pushing my lips against his. He responded immediately, almost lifting me off my feet, shifting my back against the wall and curling his hands into my hair. I heard the desk woman sniff loudly. When we pulled away, I couldn't stop smiling still. Ashton grinned down at me, looking a little shellshocked.
'Well? What was that all about?'
I laughed out loud, not caring whether he meant the kiss or the conversation, and just grabbed his hand, pulling him outside for the next part of our day.