The sophomore album from 5SOS, Sounds Good Feels Good, was released a couple of weeks later on October 23rd. Though, I had to admit to Ashton that I had been listening to the leaked album a few days prior to the release date. Traci had obtained the songs from a source that I told her I didn't want to know about, because I didn't want to have to fess up to Ashton if he asked who it was. He was pissed that the songs had been leaked, which he was already aware of, but not that I'd listened to them. As a matter of fact, he said he'd considered sending them to me himself several times, and he had a hard time talking himself out of it.
"I've never been so excited to share something with someone I love. So, tell me what you think."
I thought, Uhhh... I think you just told me you loved me. He made it seem like no big deal, so I pretended like he didn't mean to say it. Maybe he didn't mean it the way it sounded. I told him how much I honestly loved nearly every song.
"Nearly every song? So which ones are you not feeling?"
I had to be honest with him, because that whole honesty thing was a big deal, no matter how insignificant the topic seemed. "Well, my least favorite is probably Broken Home. I mean, I actually think the lyrics are great, and I know the fam is going to love it. But it's just not something I can relate to I guess." My dad had died when I was very young. So, while I grew up without a dad, I luckily never had to experience a bad relationship between my parents.
"Okay, I get that. So what else?"
"We've already heard Money, but it's kind of super cheesy. You know I love cheesy songs, so it's not that I don't like it. It just doesn't really seem to fit in with the rest of the album. But, it has a feel-good vibe to it that I can see people getting hype to at live shows, especially as a show opener, like how it opens the album."
"Agreed. Anything else?"
"Nope. That's it."
He laughed at me.
"What's so funny?"
"I was prepared for a harsh critique or something, I don't know. Even with the songs you don't like, you pointed out the good points. That's so you, being nice even when you're talking about something you don't like."
"Am I too nice?" I always did feel like I was nice to a fault, unless you messed with my family or friends.
"No! You're perfect. Everything about you is so fucking perfect, Aubree. That's why I can't get enough of you. Marry me already," he joked.
I pouted in a playful manner. "Shut up. Don't talk like that. It's not fair."
"What's not fair?"
"Making me want things that will never be." We were playing around, but I really meant that statement.
He called me out on it, though. "But I thought you never said never?"
"Mmm. Yep, you got me there, damnit. But anyway, congrats on the album. And please tell the others that I truly love it, and not just because it's your music. It's seriously perfection. Waste the Night, Jet Black Heart, Vapor, Castaway... holy shit, Ashton, I haven't been in love with music like this in a long time. And your solo in Safety Pin fucks me up, by the way."
He grunted. "Hmm. You're in love with my music, huh?"
"Like you wouldn't believe." I had a feeling we weren't really talking about the music, but either way, the answer was yes.
"Maybe my music is in love with you, too," he replied far more seriously than expected.
It was confirmed, we were no longer talking about the music. But I let it slide, because no way in Hell was I ready for that conversation. Especially over the phone. "Your music has good taste in women, then." I tried making light of the situation, but he wasn't having it.
"Yes, I do. I used to not, but that changed when I met you."
I really didn't want to discuss it right then. Or ever, really. It would only lead to disaster. "Ashton... don't."
"I'm sorry, Aubree. I can't help that I've fallen for you so damn hard it literally hurts. My chest physically aches when I think about how you're so far away from me."
"Ashton, I'm not questioning your feelings. Only you know what you feel. But do you think you might just be wanting something... fuck I don't know how to say it. Do you think you might just be wanting sex, and you know it's safe to want that with me, and maybe you're mistaking that for feeling something deeper? I mean, we're definitely friends no matter what. Very close friends at that, but -"
He startled me with his interruption. "We're not just friends, Aubree. Stop saying that! And we're not fuck buddies, either. This isn't something casual. And the sooner you accept that, the better off we'll be." It had been a while since I'd heard him irritated like that.
"You're right. You're absolutely right. But I don't know why I have a hard time accepting it. Just put yourself in my shoes, Ashton. Remember when you first started out with the band, and you said something like you'd give away your drum set the day a model wanted to date you? Well, think back to that time, before many people knew you, and you thought you weren't anyone of importance. Did you ever dream you'd have anyone, let alone thousands of girls, throwing themselves at you? I guess that's kind of how I feel. That's the best comparison I can think of. I've never once in my life had an attractive, talented, amazing guy look twice at me, let alone tell me how much he longed to be with me. I'm sorry, but it's hard to believe that this is really happening to me. I wish I could just snap my fingers and it all make sense. And sorry for rambling." I gave a short nervous laugh, but I was relieved to finally have that off of my chest.
"Accept it, Aubree, please," he begged. "Tell me you'll give me a chance to prove this can work. I know it's not going to be easy, because these few weeks have been torture for me. And I hope you know it's not just about sex. Most of the time when I think about you, which is a lot, it's not even in that way. I just want to hold you, to feel you, to talk until we run out of things to talk about, you know? I just want to know that you're nearby and not across the fucking world or even the country."
"But that's just the thing, Ashton. Even if we do give it an honest to God good shot, we're always going to be apart. You don't always want to feel this way, do you?" I was running out of ways to explain my side of the argument with him. I felt like we were running in circles.
"Yes, I always want to feel this way! Falling in love with someone is the best feeling in the world! I can't remember the last time I was this happy. Aren't you happy?"
"Yes, I'm ecstatic! More than ecstatic. I don't think there's a proper word to describe how happy I am that you want a real relationship with me, Ashton. I mean that. But you know... never mind. I've already said it so many times." I paused to gather my thoughts and not sound irritated. "How about this: It seems like almost every conversation we have turns into this. And that's okay, because it's good that we're talking about our feelings. But can we maybe try to avoid this until we're together again, and discuss it then, face to face? I think that would help us sort through our feelings better, actually being in each others' presence. Does that make sense?" Talking about it over and over was starting to get a little exhausting, to be honest. I'd never known a male to want to talk about his feelings so much. I tried to see that as a good thing, though.
"Okay, that's fair enough. But you're going to think about it long and hard until then, right?"
I held up my hand to pledge my promise, as though he could see me. "I swear to you, I'll think about it. Long and hard." Even my mostly mature mind went straight to the gutter with those words. We both started laughing and the tension disappeared, thank God.
Later on, I talked to Traci and told her about my latest conversation with Ashton, in a nutshell. I apologized for worrying her with my "problem" yet again. She always seemed to point out the good and bad of both sides fairly. But her answer was always the same: Fucking go for it.
"You've got nothing to lose, Bree. And if you don't try, then you'll have to live the rest of your life with regret, wondering what might have been."
That was the part that stuck in my brain. I thought long and hard indeed, and I came to the conclusion that my friend was right. I would be stupid to not give it a shot. Worst case scenario, it wouldn't last and I'd be left with a broken heart. But that scared me, because I'd never had my heart broken before. Even with my failed marriage, I couldn't wait to get away from him. The love was long gone, and I'd never been more relieved in my life.
But I was still going to wait until I was with Ashton again to tell him. I wanted to see his beautiful face when I agreed to let him into my life and into my heart. And I prayed that I wouldn't regret it.