I woke up and immediately grabbed my phone before I even fully opened my eyes. If that's not a sign of obsession, I don't know what is. I squinted through one eye while it slowly adjusted to the glaring light. Rather than scrolling though my multiple notifications to look for a reply from Ashton, I impatiently opened up my Twitter app, taking the quickest route to my DMs. Sure enough, there was one. I sat up with my heart pounding in anticipation.
@Ashton5SOS: I'm so sorry I went MIA. I had to take care of something. Don't hate me please. :(
As if I could ever hate him. I had to get Molly ready and off to school, so I did that before I replied. I doubted he was up that early anyway.
@CliffordsCougar: No worries. :) I had stuff to take care of, too, I just didn't want to stop talking to you. Does that sound clingy? LOL
It was just after lunchtime when he answered.
@Ashton5SOS: You're probably the least clingy fan I ever met.
Fan. That confirmed that I didn't mean anything more to him that anyone else. While I was dwelling on that, he asked:
@Ashton5SOS: Are you busy?
@CliffordsCougar: Not at the moment. My little man is taking a nap. Why?
@Ashton5SOS: I want to talk to you about last night.
@CliffordsCougar: Sure. I'm all ears. Or eyes. LOL
@Ashton5SOS: Haha that's funny. But I mean actually talk to you. This typing thing takes too long for a real conversation. Would you be okay with giving me your number? If you don't want me to have it, that's cool. I just think it would be easier to talk.
Was he fucking serious?
@CliffordsCougar: Um, shouldn't you be the one worried about me having your number? Or are you going to *69 it? LoL
@Ashton5SOS: I told you I trust you.
I was already shaking as I sent him my number. He called me right away. And he didn't block his number.
"Hey," I said when I answered the phone.
"Hi," he said with a giggle.
I couldn't help but be worried that something was wrong. Why else would he want to actually speak with me about whatever it was that had happened?
"So," he began, "how are ya?"
"I'm good. I can't complain about anything. How are you? Are you okay? Did something happen last night?" I realized I was already rambling and apologized. "Sorry. Just answer that first one. How are you?"
He chuckled, but his words were more serious. "I'm fine as frog hair. I just need someone to talk to, who actually cares to listen."
I heard him take a deep breath and sigh. "Last night, the whole time I was chatting with you, I was also texting with Brandi."
He paused, so I asked, "Okay. Is she alright?"
"Yeah, she's fine. It's just that when she asked me what I was doing, I told her that I was talking to you and she went crazy."
"Oh no. I'm sorry, Ash. The last thing I want is to interfere in your relationship." I felt it coming. He insisted on calling me because he wanted to be as nice possible when he told me he wasn't going to talk to me anymore. I was already about to cry.
"No, babe, don't feel like that. It's not you. It's just the fact that I was talking to another female in general. When she asked who I was talking to, I answered honestly and told her we met a few weeks ago when Cal hooked up with your friend. She kept asking if I fucked you, of course, and wouldn't believe me no matter how many times I told her no. She wouldn't drop it, so I called her. That's why I disappeared on you. I'm sorry."
"I hate that, Ash. But honestly, it sounds like typical female behavior to me. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just show her a picture of me and she'll see there's no competition." I laughed, but I was serious. There was literally zero competition. "Besides, if we were going to mess around, I'm pretty sure it would have happened that night we met and got wasted. I'm just saying."
Ashton sounded truly aggravated when he said, "It just pisses me off that I told the truth and got bitched at for it. I easily could have lied and made some shit up, or said I wasn't doing anything at all. But if she found out, I'd be screwed then, too. Fucking catch 22. I'll never understand you women. Not even you. Why are you so hard on yourself? You're beautiful, Aubree."
Well, I didn't see that one coming. But even coming from Ashton, I didn't believe it. Rather than embarrass myself further, I went back to the more important part of the conversation. "Anyway, how did it all end? Is she still upset?"
He gave a quick annoyed sounding huff. "Yeah, you could say that." He sighed again before saying, "I know I've not given her much reason to trust me, but I've been completely honest with her ever since last time. I don't know what else to do."
I thought I knew what he meant, but had to clarify. "What do you mean by you've not given her much reason to trust you since last time?"
"It means that I'm a cheater, Aubree, and I hate myself for it."
"Shit, Ashton." I went from disbelief, to appalled, to disappointed, all in the span of two seconds. I couldn't believe he was admitting this to me, of all people. I didn't think he was the type that would cheat on his girlfriend. But then again, I hardly even knew him.
He went on to explain what had happened just a month into the tour. Basically, he got a blowjob from a girl he'd messed around with in London before, long before he and Brandi were a thing. "Our friends there had a party. I swear, I kept trying to avoid her, but she persisted. The more she annoyed me, the more I drank. But I can't even blame it on that, because I wasn't even really drunk. I just let down my guard and gave in. That's when I stopped going to parties with the guys and shit. In other words, that's when I became boring, as Michael puts it. I told Brandi about it the next day, but damn, I fucked up."
"Yes, you did." I was telling him exactly what I thought. He was being open with me, and I wasn't going to bullshit anything. "Obviously you feel terrible about it, so I don't want to rub salt into an open wound or anything. But being cheated on is one of the worst feelings I've ever experienced. My ex cheated on me repeatedly. There's nothing that's made me feel more worthless. That being said, don't beat yourself up over it. You made a bad decision, but it doesn't make you a horrible person, Ashton. If my opinion means anything, it doesn't make me think any less of you. It was a one time thing, right? And she must have forgiven you if you're still together."
"Yeah, it was just the once. I'm just so sick of this never ending drama. I learned my lesson, I apologized, and I've been faithful ever since. But she keeps throwing it up in my face every chance she gets."
"I'm sorry, Ashton." I had no idea what else to say. I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that he was even telling me this stuff in the first place. Why?
There was a bit of silence, and after a few seconds, I heard him sniffing. I had the feeling he was crying, but I didn't ask. I sat quietly, hoping that he understood that my silence was simply me being there for him if he wanted to say anything else.
Eventually, Ashton said, "I'm sorry for dumping this on you. I shouldn't bother you with my problems."
"You're not dumping anything on me. I don't mind at all."
"You swear? You'd tell me to shut the fuck up if I was annoying, right?" he asked with a nervous sounding chuckle.
"I swear. But can I ask you something?"
"Why do you trust me so much? You hardly know me."
He hesitated and I wished I hadn't put him on the spot like that. But he finally answered. "It's hard to explain. I've felt comfortable with you from the start. You're so... normal. But I mean that in a good way. I don't have any friends like you. All that my so-called friends care about is 'When's the party?' I'm pretty sure none of them would give me the time of day if I wasn't in this band. You talk to me like a regular person. You didn't go into fangirl or hypersexual mode when we met." He laughed at his choice of words and paused before becoming serious again. "But I mostly trust you because you haven't given me a reason to not trust you."
"Well, if that isn't a confidence booster, Irwin, I don't know what is." What else was I supposed to say? It honestly made me feel better about myself knowing that someone I admired thought they could count on me.
"Do you trust me?"
I was a little taken aback by his question. Of course I did, even though we were just getting to know each other. But why would I even have a need to trust him? It wasn't like there was a risk of him tarnishing my reputation or anything. It was an odd question coming from him. "Yes, I trust you."
As if the question wasn't strange enough, his reply to my answer was even stranger.
The rest of our conversation was less personal and more lighthearted, but even after it ended, my mind kept going back to that question. All I could figure out was that he didn't feel as though Brandi trusted him, so he was reaching out to find someone who did. And I most certainly did.
My heart actually hurt for him. Yes, she had every right to not trust him. I understood that on a personal level. But I wished she could see that the was she was handling it hurt him. Then again, maybe it was just as well that she didn't. Perhaps it would lead to the demise of their relationship. He deserved better, so he was better off without her anyway.