Thankfully, Traci had recovered by the time we had to get up the next morning, bright and early, of course. And I had caught up on some sleep. I was on cloud nine, still feeling as though I was in a dream. It had officially been the best time of our lives.
As we were at our cars saying our goodbyes, getting ready to go our separate ways, Traci said, "See, I told you anything is possible! You have Ashton Fucking Irwin wanting to date you. Who's winning at life now?"
I rolled my eyes at her. "Okay, I'll never doubt you again. But... he never said he wanted to date me."
"Okay, yeah, whatever. He fucking broke up with Brandi for you."
It took a second to process what she said. "No he didn't. She broke up with him."
Traci gave me a weird look. "Wait. Holy shit." She covered her mouth in shock. "We didn't talk about that, did we?"
"About what?" I was so confused.
"Fuck. I'd totally forgotten until just now. I slept all day yesterday, and it never crossed my mind again until we were just talking about Ashton and you dating. Well, not actually dating, but him wanting to. And that made me think of Brandi, and -"
"Spit it out, T!" I interrupted her rambling. I swear, sometimes she reminded me of Six from that 90's show Blossom. And I mean that in a good way.
"Hop in, this might take a minute." She unlocked her car and I got in the passenger seat, anxious to hear what she had to say. I was afraid I wasn't going to like it.
"Okay, so after the party, Cal and I were talking about you and Ashton, and he said something about Ashton never shutting up about you, and of course he already knows how much you like Ashton, because duh, fangirl. I don't remember exactly how he put it, but he said that you seemed really great, but he never expected Ashton to break up with Brandi, so it kind of shocked him when Ashton told him that he did. I questioned it, because I know good and well you told me that Ashton said Brandi was the one who ended it, right?" I nodded my head, listening very carefully to every word she said. "He gave me that look, you know the one where he looks at you like you're nuts? Yeah, that one. But he insisted that Ashton broke up with Brandi, not the other way around. He said that came from Ashton's own mouth. So, I don't know, dude."
I was speechless. Why would he lie to me about that?
When I didn't say anything, Traci apologized. "I'm sorry it slipped my mind. I don't know how it did. I got so fucked up, it's a wonder I even remember the conversation at all."
I was replaying the conversation Ashton and I had that night, when he asked to talk to me. He 100% told me that Brandi left him.
I told Traci to not worry about it. "Thanks for telling me. I don't know why he'd lie about that, though."
"So what are you going to do?"
"Well, I'm going to have to ask him about it. Fuck. You know how much I hate liars, T. If he turns out to be one of those people... "
"He won't, Bree. Maybe it was just some crazy misunderstanding somehow. Who knows? Just don't get upset about it until you talk to him."
"He's on a flight to Australia right now. I probably won't be able to talk to him until tomorrow. But yeah, maybe there's a good explanation or something. I'll try to not stew over it. It was such an amazing weekend. I really don't want anything to ruin it."
"Same. I'm just sad that I don't know if or when I'll ever be with Cal again. Asshole still didn't offer his number, follow me on Twitter, or anything. But whatevs. I get it, I guess."
I really hated that for my friend. I knew, even though she said she wasn't letting her heart get involved, it was too late. She had no more control over it than I did when it came to Ashton. But at least Ashton stayed in contact with me, or had so far anyway. Like Traci, I didn't know if or when we'd see each other again. But at least I had hope. Traci didn't even have a number.
I drove myself crazy on that drive home, no pun intended. A hundred times I asked myself Do I actually have a chance with Ashton? The answer was not at all. Even if I ignored the major things that bothered me: what other people would think about the age difference, and the complete opposite lifestyles, then the chances were still slim to none that it would last. He'd already cheated before. As much as I hated to admit it, chances were, he'd do it again. But mostly, I honestly didn't think it was possible to spend only a few weeks a year together and have a real relationship. How do you even call that a relationship?
And another thing: Why was I even thinking about it? Although he kind of hinted at it, he'd never said that he wanted a relationship with me. So why was I even wasting my time debating the pros and cons in the first place? I grew so frustrated with myself. And top that with the fact that he'd probably/most likely lied to me, and I wanted to pull my hair out.
I was glad to have that four hour drive back home. It gave me time to process everything before I had to return to the real world. Though, I was mentally exhausted when I finally got to pick up my little munchkins.
The rest of the day was spent doing absolutely nothing except spending time with my babies. They were so excited to see me, and Molly was proud of the fact that she only cried over missing me the first night. I hated being away from my kids. But it was important for me to have some time for myself now and then, too. Having to perform the role of dad as well as mom was tough. I wouldn't have had it any other way, though, since their "dad" was legit the biggest loser I'd ever known. I'm pretty sure there's a special place in Hell waiting for that lying sack of shit.
And that was just the thing. I had huge trust issues that stemmed from my failed marriage. If you lied to me, you were as good as gone, because I had zero tolerance for it. I was always as real as a person can be. Kind of "what you see is what you get." And I expected the same in return, no matter who you were. That's why I was dreading asking Ashton about what Traci had told me. I had told him before that I had no reason to not trust him. But I was afraid this little white lie, or whatever it was, might change my mind. I thought about letting it go, but if I did, it would always be nagging in the back of my mind. Being lied to was the biggest deal breaker of all to me. We didn't exactly have a deal, but it could certainly put a damper on whatever it was that we had. All I could do was wait, which made me even more anxious.
The following morning, out of habit, I looked at my phone first thing to see if Ashton had sent anything. He hadn't. I was positive he'd landed by then, and he'd said he would let me know when he made it home. I didn't know whether to be worried or pissed. But I tried to not put too much thought into it. First of all, there was the time difference. And more importantly, he was with his family for the first time in ages. I couldn't blame him for forgetting to let me know he was okay. He'd talk to me when he was ready, and I could ask him what I needed to then. That is, if he even bothered contacting me again. It was very likely that he was going to turn out to be like every other asshole out there and never give me another thought since he already got what he wanted from me. Only time would tell.
I had to wait until the next day to see that he was alive and well. Well, alive anyway. I wasn't so sure about the 'well' part. Later that morning, there were videos posted all over Twitter of Ashton out and about with his family earlier in the day. Okay, cool. But what stood out about these videos was that paparazzi were following his every move, and he got fed up with it and went a little berserk. He didn't get physical, but he told the paps in no uncertain terms to go fuck themselves and leave his family alone.
I was genuinely concerned about Ashton. That wasn't like him. Yeah, I'd seen that he had a bit of a jealous side, but I hadn't see him so angry before. I knew we all have a breaking point, and apparently messing with his family was his. I didn't want to seem desperate, but I couldn't take the silence any longer. I texted him and said that I'd seen the videos and asked if he was okay.
It was late that afternoon, early morning for him, when he replied.
From Ashton: Sorry I didn't let you know when I landed. I've been going nonstop since I got here, except to sleep, which I've done a lot of. But I've been thinking about you. Even in my dreams. ;) I'm fine. Kinda regret losing my temper, but what's done is done
To Ashton: No worries. And you shouldn't worry about losing your temper. Those paps seemed like some real douchebags. But yeah, people are losing their shit over it. From what I've seen, it's kind of a divide between the fans on who was in the wrong.
From Ashton: Yeah, I've seen some of it. I really don't give a shit. I'm just gonna stay off Twitter and everything while I'm here. I don't know when I'll get to see my family again, so I'm gonna make the most of it. I just wish you were with me. Can't you and the kids hop on a plane right now?
The fact that he included my kids totally melted my heart.
To Ashton: Yeah, let me get my private jet ready. I'm sure your mom will be so excited to meet us. We'll probably have a lot in common though. We can do some cool mom bonding shit.
From Ashton: That sounds so wrong. Never mind. LOL. I'm getting ready to call you btw
There was no "hello" or anything when I answered. He started the conversation with, "You're right. After seeing all the shit I've gotten about what happened yesterday, I'm not so sure I want anyone to see us together, either."
My heart fell into my stomach. Even though that's exactly what I'd said, several times in fact, hearing it from Ashton made me sad. Mainly, because there was a part of me that automatically assumed he meant that he didn't want to be with me at all again. I replied, "That's understandable. I know exactly how you feel."
"So it's not going to be easy, but we can do this. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you my little secret."