I knew I had reason to question the sustainability of our relationship when everything immediately went back to the same exhausting routine. I tried proving a point by ignoring most of the texts and calls, but it didn't deter Ashton in the least. I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't for the life of me make him understand that he was out of control with trying to get me to talk to him 24/7. Aside from that, and his jealousy issue, there was absolutely nothing to complain about. We could have been something straight out of a fairy tale, if only I could get through to him.
One day at work, about a week after the Cincinnati show, I'd had enough. I was aggravated after Ashton called twice while I was on an important conference call. I'd told him it was imperative that I listen to the call, and told him I'd call back on my lunch break. So when my cellphone vibrated for the third time, I was just about to turn it off, when I noticed it was a call from a blocked number. That made me furious, because I assumed Ashton had resorted to blocking his number in an effort to get me to answer it. And I almost didn't answer, but my gut told me that I should, just in case. So I did.
I muted my conference call and answered impatiently, "Hello?"
"You sorry bitch. You must think you're someone special now, huh? Strutting around with your superstar boyfriend and dragging my kids along with you, exposing them to God knows what. Well, listen here. Enjoy it while you can, because my kids aren't gonna be in that rock and roll scene much longer. You think you're some bad ass mom of the year or some shit, don't you? Well, we'll see how you feel when I get custody of them."
Wow. I literally had no words. If he only knew how dumb he sounded. You know how I said before that I didn't have any regrets? Well, the only reason I don't regret ever being with that asswipe was that I got Molly and Ash out of it.
"Well, if it isn't mister father of the century. You've grown a set of balls, Eric, telling me how to raise my kids."
I had so many questions, such as how he even knew what was going on in my life, and how the fuck he got my phone number. But I didn't give him the pleasure of knowing that I cared to hear anything he had to say. I almost hung up on him, because I knew his threats were empty. He had absolutely no leg to stand on when it came to getting any kind of custody of Molly and Ash.
"Katie told Sara all about you and that drummer." Sara was Eric's sister, and Katie was his drama queen, trouble making, teenage niece. It was all starting to make sense how he would know about Ashton. Well done, Katie. "I know what kind of lifestyle all those music people live. And I bet you're right up there in the middle of all those drugs and shit, too." He gave a sarcastic laugh. "Kind of hypocritical after ragging on me for using and sending me off to jail for abuse when I never laid a hand on you. You're one piece of work, woman." Yeah, he would still insist he never did anything wrong because he was so fucked up on God knows what that he couldn't remember doing it.
But I wasn't falling victim to his manipulative ways again. "Well if you aren't the pot calling the kettle black. Eric, you are not welcome to call me again - ever. If you do, I'll report you for harassment. You have no parental rights, now or ever, because there's not a judge alive who would even consider giving you supervised visitation, let alone custody. Rot in Hell."
I hung up on him and immediately called Ashton, my conference call long forgotten. I didn't realize how badly I was shaking until I dialed Ashton's designated speed dial number. Why I went on autopilot and called him, I don't know. I just thought he'd have something comforting to say, I guess.
"Is it lunch time already?" he asked, obviously perplexed, when he answered the phone.
Just hearing his voice made me lose it. I was crying like a fool, which I did when I was extremely angry.
"Hold up, Aubree. I can't understand you. Calm down, baby. Are you okay?"
I took a deep breath to calm myself and explained what had happened. Then I said, "I don't think he'll call back, though. There's nothing to worry about. But I had to tell you. I just need reassurance that everything is okay, I guess."
Ashton's anger was apparent in his voice. "You're damn right it's going to be okay. Because I'm going to take care of it."
"What do you mean? There's nothing you can do, Ashton. It'll only make things worse if you try to contact him. I know what he's trying to do. He has no interest in the kids, I promise you that. In his mind, he sees me with someone who has money, and he thinks he's going to manipulate me to get some of it. There's honestly nothing to worry about."
"I can get him out of your lives for good. I know people who would do just about anything for a little cash."
I chuckled at what he was insinuating. He was either trying to make a joke, or he was taking it far too seriously. "That's funny. I'd almost consider it."
"It's not meant to be funny. I'm serious."
I sat there trying to form words, but nothing was coming out. My mind was blown.
"I'd do anything to keep you and the kids safe, Aubree. I already found out where he's living a while back. You know, in case he ever tried something like this."
Why did that not surprise me? "Ashton, you can't be serious. I mean, I'm not even going to lie, I've wished someone would fuck up Eric's world many times. And I've thought about what a relief it would be for him to disappear from the face of the Earth. That sounds terrible, but it's the truth. But if I ever acted on those desires, there's that whole possibility of going to prison thing. So, you know, it's not exactly a great idea."
"I swear to God, if he threatens you again, he's a dead man."
I knew Ashton well enough to know that he was seeing red, and he didn't really mean what he was saying. I also knew it didn't matter what I said to him, I wasn't going to be able to calm him down. I was sorry I'd called him. So I thanked him for listening and told him that I needed to get back to my call. Amazingly, he didn't object.
But that night he blew my mind again when he posted a photo of us on Instagram. It was my favorite picture of us, one that Traci had taken when we weren't aware of what she was doing. In it, we were standing in front of a window and hugging. His cheek was resting on top of my head, and we were both smiling with our eyes closed, looking extremely content. Everything about it was perfect, and the lighting made it even more beautiful.
At first it didn't dawn on me what he'd done because I was engrossed in the picture, as I always was when I looked at it. But then I saw the caption: "I'd go to any lengths necessary to make my girl feel safe and happy."
I thought, Holy shit. He's done it now. Even when he was with Brandi, he never publicly said a single word about, let alone post a picture of her. I suppose that should have made me feel special. And it kind of did, but I knew he posted it with the sole intention of letting Eric know he better watch his back. It actually made me smile, but I wished he'd thought about the repercussions before hitting that "post" button. From a fan's point of view, who had no idea that it was a threat, I knew they didn't want to see that. To many of them, it was like he was rubbing our relationship in their faces. I wasn't even going to bother acknowledging it, but I was forced to when he called me.
"Aren't you even going to say anything?" he asked.
"I don't really know what to say. You know I love that picture."
"That's not what I'm talking about. Do you think Eric will get the message?"
I sighed inadvertently and he heard it.
"What, are you mad?"
"No, not mad, really. I just don't think it was a smart move. If he finds out about it, it'll just add fuel to the fire. And I'm not about to look at Twitter, because I can only imagine what people are saying. Especially all the hardcore Brandi fans. It makes me ill to think about it."
"I think what it boils down to is that you're embarrassed by me, aren't you?"
Great, here we go again. Yippee.
I answered sarcastically, "Yeah, Ashton, that's it."
"Fine, I'll delete it."
"No, don't do that. People will make up shit about why you deleted it. It's already out there. There's no taking it back. It's fine. But..."
"But what? Go ahead, say it."
"I don't know. I think about how you'll regret stuff like that one day. Like if we end up breaking up. You shouldn't post anything that you don't want to come back to haunt you, because once it's there, you're going to see it again, even if you delete it." I knew exactly where that was going to lead. But I was just being honest.
"But why would we ever break up? That's like the third time in a week that you've brought that up. Are you hinting that you want to break up with me?"
"I don't want to lose you, but -"
He didn't let me finish. "Then why do you keep talking about it? Let it go, Aubree. We're perfect for each other. Are you going to argue that?"
I took advantage of the opportunity and ran with it. "Yes, I am."