I'm a fucking idiot on so many levels. I've come to know this well over the past few years.
You see, I had the world in the palm of my hand, and I let it slip right through my fingers... more than once.
My music career was successful (thank God I never managed to screw that up). And the few friends I had were great. But the thing I wanted most in life, I couldn't seem to hold onto.
I totally deserved to lose Aubree the first time. By the time I'd realized my mistakes, she was already gone. And I probably didn't deserve it when, after several months of torture without her, she gave me another chance. I finally had the opportunity to show her I'd changed. But just as quickly as the chance was given to me, it was snatched away when Brandi told me that she was pregnant. She was none too happy when she delivered the unexpected news upon my return home from an amazing 24 hours with the woman I loved.
I know that's 50 shades of fucked up, going home to your pregnant girlfriend when you've just spent a whole day making love with the only person you can imagine spending the rest of your life with. My plan was to confess it all to Brandi and end our relationship as soon as I walked in the door. But before I got the chance to, she blew me away with the pregnancy news. She was distraught for days, and I felt that it was my duty to comfort her, to let her know everything was going to be okay. I was forced to reevaluate my situation and make the most difficult decision of my life, doing what was best for my unborn child.
My child. Once I thought about it like that, I knew I had to sacrifice my own happiness for his or hers. I grew up in a broken home and it was the hardest shit I've ever had to deal with, aside from my situation with Aubree. I didn't want my kid to know the struggle of being raised in a single parent home.
Ironically, that's one of the things I always admired most about Aubree. She was the perfect mother, and she did everything 100% on her own. I thought if I could be half the amazing parent she was, I'd be doing good. So how would I be there for my kid as much as possible if Brandi and I were shuffling him back and forth when I wasn't touring? My only option was to stay with Brandi and make it work.
Once upon a time, I was in love with Brandi. In the beginning it was great. There's nothing like the feeling of falling in love. At the time, you think it's going to last forever. And for some people, it does. But not for us. Things happened, mostly my fault, and the aftermath took a toll on us. I cared about her, but it was never the same as those first few months together.
Brandi was pretty much the exact opposite of Aubree. She wasn't the most mature person in the world, and she turned out to be the most selfish person I've ever known. I wish I'd never gone back to her after Aubree and I split up. But I was trying so hard to get over Aubree, and stupidly thought it would help if I were with someone else. It didn't. I never said I was a smart person.
When Brandi asked me about getting back with her, I told her right away that I was still in love with Aubree, but I'd give it a shot. Honestly, I had no desire to be in a relationship so soon after Aubree left me. But why the fuck not try and see if it would get my mind off of her? I guess I used Brandi in that sense. But she was aware of it and apparently didn't care.
Aubree later admitted to me that it made her feel inadequate when I went back to Brandi so quickly. That wasn't my intention at all. And I would have explained that to her, if I'd known she would have been okay with me contacting her. But I was trying my best to not only get over her, but also to prove, too late I might add, that I could respect her wishes and not harass her constantly.
That's why I only let her know on special occasions, when it was appropriate, that she and the kids still meant a lot to me. When she sent me that text on Molly's birthday to thank me for the gift, it was so tempting to respond. But there was really nothing left to say since I already sent that note wishing Molly happy birthday and told them how much I missed them. I reckoned if she wanted to say more than "thank you" she would have said it.
When she accepted the birthday trip to Las Vegas, it gave me hope. I knew if she had any hard feelings toward me at all, she never would have accepted such a gift from me, especially after I'd spilt my guts in that letter. At least I hadn't scared her off. I decided to keep it as it was, though, and leave the ball in her court. I'd written that I still loved her and wanted her back. What she decided to do with that information was up to her.
When Traci e-mailed me, asking if I'd consider surprising Aubree in Vegas, I was in the studio with Calum and John Feldman. I'd been writing down some lyrics, and took a break when I got the notification. I read it about 20 times and finally put the phone away when John asked what was so interesting. I could feel my face heat up, which was dumb because I never blush. I guess I kind of felt like I got caught cheating or something, because I was beyond excited about the possibility of seeing Aubree again, though I was technically with someone else.
"Ah, nothing, man." I pretended to continue writing lyrics, but my hand was shaking so badly it was impossible. I threw the pen down onto the table and leaned back, stretching with my hands behind my head and closed my eyes. I sighed loudly, trying to drive away the thoughts.
When I opened my eyes, John was looking at me. He gave me a knowing look, with a cocked eyebrow and shook his head. I swear that man can read our minds sometimes.
Calum asked, "Are you done already?"
Was I done? Hell no, I wasn't done, not with Aubree. But apparently she was done with me. If she wasn't, she would have already said so. But then again, she and Traci were very close. Maybe Traci knew something that I didn't. Perhaps they'd talked about me, and she knew Aubree was willing to give me another chance after all. But would I be a fool to get my hopes up?
I broke down and discussed it with Cal and John. Calum knew Aubree, and he really liked her. He thought I should go see her.
"Well, as long as, you know, you don't get all... weird again."
John questioned what Calum meant, so I had to sit through the embarrassment of Calum explaining to him how I wouldn't give Aubree room to breathe, and how my jealousy got the best of me.
Calum had become well acquainted with my mental health. After Aubree broke it off with me, I knew I had to work on my mental problems. I didn't want to see a therapist, though, so I ended up talking to Calum a lot. He was a great listener, and he offered his honest opinions and great advice. It was helpful, but he eventually talked me into seeing a professional.
John was speechless at first, but I could sense the wheels turning in his head. After a minute or two he offered his opinion. "I know you and Brandi don't have the greatest relationship. And the fact that you're even considering this tells me that you shouldn't be with her. As long as you're in a good place with yourself now, you should follow your heart. But either way, someone is going to get hurt."
Fucking catch 22. I had to decide if I wanted to be the heartbreaker or the heartbreakee. It wouldn't be the first time for either.
The more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that Aubree would let me know if she wanted to give me another chance. And she hadn't given me any inkling that that's what she wanted. Even when I'd sent her the information about the trip to Las Vegas, she didn't even respond with a thank you, fuck off, or anything. So I sat back and waited for her to give me some sort of indication that she still cared. But it never came, so I told Traci thanks, but no thanks.
She asked me several more times after that. No, she begged, really. But what made me change my mind was when she said, in the typical blunt Traci fashion that I loved:
"Look, motherfucker. Bree read me that letter, okay? I wasn't going to tell you, because that's private, and I'm sure you didn't intend for her to tell me what it said. And just the same, she didn't intend for me to tell you that she's a fucking mess, trying to talk herself out of giving you another chance. I know if she sees you, there's no goddamn way she'll be able to refuse you. She just needs a little push to cross that line, and she'll be all yours again. I'll admit, I kind of disliked you for a while when Bree told me how crazy you were acting. To be honest, I was afraid for her safety. I know you'd never hurt her, but you got really weird, dude. Maybe if I hadn't encouraged her to break up with you, she wouldn't have. But I truly believe it was the right thing to do... back then. I'm telling you all this in hopes that you've gotten help and are no longer in that obsessive frame of mind. I'm assuming you're okay now, because you haven't bothered her, other than with the presents, which she and the children really appreciate, by the way. I hope you two will find your way back to each other, because that's where you belong. I'm envious of the love you share, even after being apart for so long. I wish I could find someone who loves me the way you love her, but I can't seem to find a man who can handle my awesomeness. LOL JK. But seriously, if you don't show up in Vegas, you're a fool, Ashton. I guess you're back with Brandi or some shit, but I don't give a fuck, to be honest. I know you belong with my friend, and I'm not going to leave you alone until you agree to talk to her, in person, in Vegas."
How could I turn her down after that?
I'd never been so nervous in my life as I was when I was standing outside of that hotel room door. I was there a good two or three minutes before I built up the nerve to knock. And I only did so then because I knew the longer I stood there, the higher the chances were that someone was going to recognize me. Brandi thought I was going to Vegas with Jack and Alex from the band All Time Low, as we did now and then. Truth was, they actually did go with me, but they knew why I was going, and tagged along to help cover for me. I'd never ask someone to lie for me, but when I told Jack that I was thinking about going, he came up with the cover story, just in case I needed it. He was looking for an excuse to go back to Vegas anyway, so it all worked out.
But anyway, when I laid eyes on my beautiful Aubree, I could hardly contain myself. I'd planned on letting her call the shots and following her lead. But once she was standing right in front of me, I couldn't resist reaching out and touching her. God, I missed her so much. She told me she was sorry, which I didn't feel was necessary, since she had nothing to feel sorry about. But I know Aubree and knew she felt some guilt because she never could stand the thought of hurting someone's feelings. I held her and cried with her. It was a very cathartic moment for both of us.
I'd like to say that I knew right away that we were going to work things out and get back together, but I honestly had no clue, even when we spent the rest of the night and part of the next day in bed. It seemed as though that's what she wanted, but I couldn't find the courage to ask her until I was leaving. I was so afraid she was going to reject me. And maybe it would have been easier if she had.
I made her a promise that I didn't keep when I promised that she wouldn't regret it. I'm sure she regretted agreeing to let me prove to her that I could be the man she fell in love with. I know I regret making that promise because it made me feel like a failure and liar when I didn't hold up to my end of the deal. Just as Aubree thought she'd made the right decision by leaving me months before, I thought I made the right decision to stay with Brandi when she told me she was pregnant. But you know what they say about hindsight. I now know I was wrong.
A/N: Hey! Starting this out with kind of a quick recap from Ashton's point of view. It's tough thinking like a dude! LOL I did it some for my Luke fanfic, Ready Or Not, but not the whole thing. It's quite a challenge. Anyway, I hope it turned out okay.