Normally, we would have had a few drinks before the show. But I didn't that night because, as stupid as it sounds, I was in the state of mind that I wanted to punish myself. I'd caused Ashton pain and I needed to feel some of that myself. God knows I was hurting, too. I don't think I could have felt any worse if he had been the one breaking up with me.
But I tried to enjoy the show. Ashton seemed okay up on the stage, energetic as always. But if you were looking for it, you'd notice there was a little spark missing. I knew the stage was his happy place. And I hoped that some of that happiness would linger off stage as well. I don't think my eyes ever left him. I was never sure that he saw me. If he did, he didn't acknowledge me. That added to my pain, but I deserved it. I tried my best to act normal, though. As far as everyone else knew, Ashton and I were still together. And that meant fans talked to me and asked for pictures of both Traci and me. She'd become somewhat well known herself once fans had found her on Twitter via posts and pictures that my followers had shared. We just went along with it as best as we could, as long as they were nice to us.
It was beyond tempting to not go backstage after the show. I almost wished Traci would have asked to, but she didn't. She was kind of in the same boat as me, still trying to let go completely of Calum. It was best that we didn't torture ourselves like that. As a matter of fact, we even discussed not going to the last two shows. But we knew it would be our last chance to see 5SOS again. We hadn't talked about it, but I was sure we wouldn't follow them across the country anymore, because it would just be too hard.
I couldn't believe that Ashton wasn't trying to talk to me like he usually did. Yes, I'd officially broken up with him, but I honestly didn't expect that he'd stop with the calls and texts right away. If it were that easy, then why didn't he slow it down before? On one hand I appreciated it, but on the other it made me even more sad, if that was possible. I knew I couldn't have it both ways, but it sure would have been nice to know that he was thinking of me. Just not every few minutes. I wondered if his absence of contact was because he'd truly accepted that it was over, or if he was trying to show me that he could change. In the end, it didn't really matter, because I'd made up my mind and intended to stick with my decision. But it hurt like a bitch.
Ashton did text me the next afternoon. He reminded me that there would be tickets for us and asked if I would consider spending some time with him that night, since they wouldn't leave for Houston until the morning. Again, I wanted to so damn badly. But I stood my ground and resisted.
I decided to give in and have a drink that night. Five or six, actually. I lost count. But I remember that I had a drink in my hand when we were headed to our seats, trying to not draw attention to ourselves. We sat down and I took a look around, noticing the huge crowd on the lawn. I told Traci that we should make someone's day and give them our tickets. She was all for it. We just hoped it turned out better than the last time.
When we tried to enter the lawn area, the guy checking tickets looked at us like we were crazy and pointed out that we needed to go the the front of the stage. I knew that was going to happen, but rolled my eyes nonetheless, too inebriated to give a fuck about what he thought. "Look, dude. I'm the drummer's girlfriend, okay? I'm pretty sure we can go wherever we want because we have these." I pulled my all access pass out of my pocket and dangled it in his face. I didn't like wearing it because I felt like it drew attention. He didn't seem to believe me and scrutinized the pass for a few seconds.
"Okay, if you say so." He shrugged and let us by.
Traci leaned close as we walked and said, "You know you just called yourself Ashton's girlfriend, right?"
"I had to or he wasn't going to let us in here. No one knows otherwise yet. So, who's gonna be the lucky recipient of our tickets?"
We walked though the mass of people slowly. Some of them waved and a few ran to us for pictures, for which I obliged. I figured it would probably be the last time I'd have to deal with it, so why not?
We knew we'd made the right choice when we both saw the same pair of girls and pointed them out to each other at the same time. There was something about them that reminded us of ourselves. They even looked like us, minus a few years. They didn't seem to notice us until we walked over and sat down on the grass beside them. They looked shocked, but didn't totally freak out, which was a plus. I mean, I was just a normal person, and thought it was ridiculous when the fans acted like they were meeting a celebrity when they talked to me.
The one with red hair gushed a little and asked if I was who she thought I was.
"Yep. And this is my friend, Traci. What are your names?"
"I'm Nikki, and she's Penny."
"It's nice to meet you girls. Are you here by yourselves, or are you with more friends?" Luckily it was just the two of them. "Well, we have a proposition for you." Their eyes got big with anticipation. I was loving it, thinking about how I'd be if I were in their shoes. "We have these second row tickets and we're not going to use them. Would you like them?"
Traci told them, "The only thing we ask is that you do something nice for someone in return. A pay-it-forward- type of thing."
They both squealed and looked at each other, and promised to hold up their end of the deal. They kept thanking us profusely, and it was the first time in many days that I was genuinely happy. We stayed and watched the show from that spot. I'll say that it was a totally different perspective for us. But the crowd vibe was the same. The people in the very back loved those boys every bit as much as the ones in the front row. I understood them all completely. Traci and I carried on as though we were just one of them again.
I was just about to turn off the light and go to bed when Ashton called me. It was the first time I'd actually spoken to him since the previous morning in New Orleans. My heart started pumping vigorously as soon as I saw his name on the screen.
"Hey," I replied, trying to not let him know how much his voice affected me.
"We're at the same hotel, aren't we?"
Of course we were. We'd planned all of our hotels to coincide with the band's. "Yes."
"I've been trying to give you space. But it's killing me knowing you're this close to me and I can't hold you. Please let me see you."
I knew that would be a mistake, even though I longed for it so much. "That's not a good idea. I'm getting ready to go to sleep anyway."
He asked more desperately. "Aubree, Jesus. Please."
"Maybe tomorrow, okay? Maybe we can talk then, but I don't think we should be together right now, Ashton. It's late and I'm seriously getting in bed right now."
"We don't have to do anything. I just need to see you."
"I can't right now. Please understand this isn't easy for me, either. I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"
He sighed in defeat. "Okay. But can I see you? I don't want to talk over the phone."
I told him yes, so that he'd let it go, though I wasn't sure I'd talk to him in person or not.
"Goodnight, Ashton." I hung up before he could say anything else. I sucked so bad at trying to be standoffish with him.
It was another sleepless night. I wondered if I'd ever have another night of decent rest again. Every time I closed my eyes I'd think back to everything that had happened. It had been the best time of my life. And even the bad bits weren't the worst. But I'd never been so sad and alone and heartbroken. And I'd done it to myself.