After the initial awkwardness, I asked, "So, I guess you saw that one coming." It was more of an observation than a question.
He shrugged. "Yeah, you can say that I've grown used to it."
I felt the need to defend my friend, even though I knew Ashton probably couldn't care less. "You know, she's not one to sleep around. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's been a long time since she's been with anyone. I mean, not that you care, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea about her. She's the best. And it's just that she's had her eye on Calum for..."
Ashton waved his hands, signaling me to stop with my explanation, and laughed. "Honestly, it's okay. It's cool. Either way, this is the life we live. Well, that they live. Me, not so much anymore."
Our drinks arrived and I downed most of mine immediately. It was silent for a couple of minutes, and yes, very awkward.
Not knowing what to say, I picked up where we left off. "That's because you have a girlfriend, right?" Ashton looked at me quizzically, not understanding what I was asking. I was losing my modesty due to the alcohol in my system at that point. I wasn't a bit shy about clarifying, "I mean, you don't fuck around because you're in a relationship, right?"
He looked down at the glass he held in his long, slender fingers. His jaw tightened, and I felt horrible about asking.
"Shit. I'm sorry. That's none of my business. I shouldn't be so intrusive. I'm just drunk. Not that that's an excuse."
He took a long drink, then smiled at me before replying. "No, no, no," he waved his hand again. "That's fine. I don't mind. It only bothers me when I'm being interviewed. Like honestly, how many times can they ask the same damn question, ya know? Yes, I'm in a relationship. I don't think that's much of a secret now. So you're correct: I don't fuck around because I have a girlfriend. But I'll be honest with you..."
He hesitated, and I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation. I was having a conversation with Ashton Irwin about his girlfriend. It was a topic he'd never spoken of publicly before. This was privileged information.
"It's hard. I'm not gonna lie. Everyone's always getting laid, practically every night, even our crew. And here I am, the odd man out, chilling in my room. Alone. I have chicks throwing themselves at me and propositioning me every day. Temptation is a bitch. But that's just a sacrifice I have to make." He offered a fake smile and shrugged.
Once again, I didn't know what to say. I just gave him a sad smile back and nodded my understanding. Then he waved down the waitress as she walked by and ordered shots of some liquor I'd never even heard of before, his being a double again. I knew I was going to be fucked up if I had anything else. But I wasn't about to turn it down.
I started thinking about the situation I was in and starting laughing.
"What's so funny?" Ashton asked, laughing just because I was laughing.
"This is just... I don't know. The way my day started out, if someone had told me how it was going to end, I'd have told them to fuck off because they were delusional."
"Why? How did it start?"
I told him the story of the cancelled flight and how we'd paid for a room in that super fancy hotel just to maybe get a glimpse of them when we found out they were still in town. I didn't spare any details, though I knew it would make us sound like the stalkers we were. But I'd accomplished far more than I'd intended, so I had no fucks to give. I was just being honest.
Ashton laughed so hard at my story, his face turning red at one point. Of course, that got me to laughing again, too. I told him how embarrassed I was. "But what the fuck ever. I'm having a great time."
"Don't be embarrassed, Aubree. Believe it or not, I understand. And I'm glad you had a shitty morning that resulted in you being here now." He smiled and winked at me. I know I was blushing as he continued, "I haven't had the chance to simply enjoy someone's company in ages. If we hadn't met tonight, I'd probably be in my room bored as fuck right now. Or sleeping."
In that moment I felt something I hadn't felt in, well, I couldn't even tell you how long. I can only describe it as a little tug at my heart. Not necessarily in a romantic kind of way. It was just nice knowing that someone appreciated me, if only for the sake of conversation.
The waitress arrived with our shots, and asked if we'd be needing anything else. Ashton looked at me and I shook my head. I'd already surpassed my limit. Ashton told her no, thanks, and told her to charge everything to his room.
He raised his shot glass and said, "To cancelled flights."
Likewise, I raised mined and repeated, "To cancelled flights." We clinked our glasses and I drank whatever it was as quickly as I could. Straight liquor isn't much of a friend of mine.
Ashton checked his phone, presumably for the time. Then he put it back in his pocket, leaned back in his chair, and crossed his arms. He looked at me intently, making me self-conscious, even in my drunken state.
"What?" I asked with a nervous laugh, fiddling with my empty shot glass.
"You obviously already know all about me, so tell me about yourself Who is Aubree?"
Oh. Shit. The last thing I wanted to do was lie. But I also didn't want to expose myself. I went back and forth in my brain for several seconds, before deciding in the end that honesty really was the best policy, even if it creeped him out. It wasn't like I'd ever speak to him again anyway. I didn't really have anything to lose.
"Well," I began. "I'm just gonna tell you like it is..."