Once the tour got started in Asia, seeing new videos and pictures of Ashton helped me to miss him a tiny bit less. Though, he was always just a phone call away. As much as I looked forward to hearing about his day, it was still a little excessive at times. I missed him like crazy, but when you can't stay off the phone long enough to work productively, it becomes a problem. But I dealt with it.
The band had a break near the end of March, and Ashton planned out a trip for me to visit him in LA one weekend. He'd already picked out flights and everything before he presented the plan to me. He pointed out that he wouldn't have another break until the end of April, and I really couldn't wait another month to see him again. It was short notice to ask off at work, but Kendra was okay with it. I only had to take off on a Friday, so it wasn't that big of a deal. And of course my mom didn't mind keeping the kids. She couldn't be happier that I'd met someone successful and who made me happy.
I felt so guilty going without Traci. I knew she was happy for me, but it just didn't feel right. I wished all the time that Calum would come to the realization that he wanted to be with her. But unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about it. And that sucked, because I'd do anything for my friend.
My visit was just as one would expect. We basically didn't leave his apartment. But we had plenty of company. He and Calum had gotten the apartment just after New Year's. So I knew it was inevitable that I'd see Natalie at some point, and it turned out that she was actually there with Calum when I first arrived. Talk about awkward, for me anyway. I'm sure she had no idea that Calum had fucked the shit out of my best friend on a few occasions. She seemed nice enough, though. I had no reason to dislike her.
But the pairing was so odd to me. She was the total opposite of Calum: hyper, perky, loud, and very much a people pleaser. Calum, on the other hand, was always calm. I never heard him raise his voice, even in excitement. And he preferred staying in the background. Despite their contrasting personalities, I noticed that they seemed to get along just fine. But there was no affection at all. They honestly seemed more like friends. The whole situation was just so strange.
I'm not sure what I expected, that all the band members hung out all the time while not working, or what. But I never laid eyes on Luke or Michael. Ashton said that Luke had never even been to his apartment, probably because he was always up Allegra's ass when he was home. His words, not mine. I'll just say that Allegra wasn't Ashton's favorite person in the world.
Luke and Michael also shared a place, but Michael never stayed there according to Ashton. He'd recently started dating a girl named Chrissie, and pretty much lived with her. I already knew this because I'd heard it through the Twitter grapevine. Oh, that and she was always wearing Michael's shirts in her Snapchats. I was glad he'd found someone he enjoyed being with. But I wished it was someone who didn't constantly try to stir shit up, just like Allegra did. Like me, Chrissie was older. Older than me, even, at 32. But the maturity level wasn't quite up to par with the age. I knew Michael could do so much better. But it was none of my business. And I didn't dare mention anything about it to Ashton, because Lord knows I didn't want to stir up the jealousy monster again.
As I said, we stayed inside the whole weekend. It sounds boring, but we were content just being together doing normal boring couple stuff like watching movies and stuffing our faces with the copious amount of food that we had delivered. It was just enough to put a little spring back into my step for a few more weeks.
The morning of my birthday, April 28th, I woke up to a crazy amount of texts. But the one that caught my eye wasn't from Ashton. It was from Michael.
From Mikey: i hear it's your birthday. so happy birthday! and since it's your bday, i'm guessing ashton is MIA bc he's with you?
I quickly went to the messages from Ashton. All 38 of them. He gave no indication where he was. It was all just the usual rambling and random thoughts. I instantly became worried, and tried calling him. But it went straight to voicemail.
To Mikey: Thank you! ❤ But, no, Ashton isn't with me. Last he texted was around 1:30 this morning, my time. Didn't say where he was, and I get voicemail when I call. That's not like him.
From Mikey: yeah. we have promo & interviews today before our break officially begins, but ash never showed & his stuff wasn't in his room. we're hoping he's on his way to you, bc his mum hasn't heard from him either. let me know if you hear from him please.
To Mikey: Will do. Please let me know if you hear anything, too.
I got Molly off to school and spent the rest of my day worried sick about Ashton, until he showed up at my door at 3:00 that afternoon with a large bag in tow. I was so crazy by that time that I couldn't even be excited to see him. I let him in, and let him have it right away.
"Ashton! You're supposed to be in Ireland right now. What the hell are you doing here?"
"Damn, can't a guy surprise his girlfriend on her birthday?"
I took a few seconds to take a deep breath and collect myself. "Sorry. Yes, he can. And I appreciate it." I hugged him and gave him a quick kiss. "But he should take care of his responsibilities first. And at the very least, let someone know where he is! You've had me worried to death!"
"Baby, it's not that serious, I promise. It wouldn't have been a surprise if I'd told you I was on my way, now would it?"
I asked, "How do your bandmates feel about you skipping out on work?"
"How do you even know they're working today?"
Thank goodness I had an excuse for knowing that. If I'd let it slip that I'd talk to Michael, all Hell would break loose. "Because there was a tweet from the band account saying something about it being a long day of promo. The last I checked, you're in a band with other members who depend on you to do your part, Ashton. You can't just up and leave them. Do they even know where you are?" Of course, I already knew the answer to that, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.
Ashton walked to the bedroom and sat his bag down on the bed as though he owned the place. I didn't mind. It actually made me smile a little.
Ashton sat down on the bed, and pulled me down, too, so that I was sitting on his lap. "No, they don't. I don't have to tell them every move I make. Haven't you ever played hookey from work? They'll be just fine without me. I, however, am not fine without you." He kissed me and ran his hands up my back.
It felt divine, but I was still upset. After I came to my senses, I continued my speech. I needed him to take me seriously. "You can't possibly compare this to me skipping work one day. Your job is different. You're part of a unit that works together. If one of you fails, it looks bad on the whole group. I don't want you to fail, Ashton. I'm not going to be the reason for you slacking at work. The day you choose me over work again is the day I'll have to reconsider us. You have to promise me you won't do this again."
"The fuck, Aubree? You'd seriously end us over something like that?"
"Yes, I would. Your success means more than anything to me."
He rolled his eyes, and I had a feeling that he was even more annoyed with my berating than he let on. "Okay, I won't do it again, Mum. Geez." He pulled me back to him for another kiss, but stopped just before making contact. "Wait. Speaking of Mum, where are the kids? I've missed their little faces."
I stood up, remembering that I should probably check on them. "They're playing in the backyard. Want to go see them?"
"Heck yeah, I do."
We casually strolled outside. Molly and Ash were drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, and it took a moment for them to realize we were standing there. But when they saw Ashton with me, they both exclaimed, "Smash!" and jumped up to hug him with all their might. My heart was happy.
While they were catching up, I stepped inside, hoping Ashton wouldn't follow me. I wanted to tell Michael he was there. I saw that he'd tweeted, "sending out an sos. ash is mia. if anyone has seen this face, tweet me." He attached a picture of a milk carton with Ashton's face on it. It seemed like a joke, but I knew he was serious. I quickly sent him a text saying that Ashton was with me, and I didn't know how long he would be staying or anything, but he'd just gotten there. And I asked that he didn't let Ashton know that I told him where he was. He replied immediately, thanking me. Ashton and the kids walked inside just as I deleted the texts and locked the phone.
"Who are you talking to?" Ashton asked.
Fuck. "Oh, no one. I was just checking my notifications. Michael tweeted an SOS because you're missing. You should probably let him know you're okay."
"I guess you're right. I've had my phone off since I left Ireland because I knew it would blow up with everyone looking for me. It's been kind of liberating not looking at it constantly. I need to do that more often."
Yes, you do, I thought. Then I scolded myself for such a thought. He only stayed in constant contact because he loved me. I shouldn't complain about it.
Ashton said he was planning on staying for a whole week as long as that was okay with me. Heck yeah it was. The only problem was that I had to work. But he volunteered to keep busy by babysitting Ash while I worked, instead of him going to my mother's. Of course, Ash was all over that. I did manage to leave work a couple hours early each day. It was amazing how much more work I could get done when not looking at my phone constantly.
Ash really did keep Ashton busy. Well, that, and Ashton passed some time by snooping around. I discovered that when I came home on Friday to find him sitting on the floor in my bedroom, going through a box of keepsakes. I didn't have anything to hide, but it made me uncomfortable that he'd been going through my things without asking. I mean, who does that? But being the forgiving person I am, I brushed it off and didn't say anything about it.