Aubree tossed her keys onto a nearby table and turned to face me. She was biting her lip, knowing good and well what that does to me. I took it as an invitation, but just as I reached for her, she walked away.
"I'll be right back," she said said over her shoulder, heading in the direction of her bedroom.
I was parched, so I decided to help myself to some water. As I drank from the bottle, I looked at all the cute drawings on the fridge. Right in the center of everything was the drawing of Aubree, the kids, and myself that I made when we all went out to eat so long ago. I don't know why it got to me the way it did, but before I knew what hit me, tears were flowing. These were happy tears, though, unlike the many I'd had for so long. I dried my eyes and sucked it up as quickly as I could, thankful that I hadn't turned on a light and Aubree couldn't tell that my eyes were red when she appeared.
She approached me from behind and wrapped her arms around my waist, burying her cheek into the center of my shoulder blades. I held tightly to her arms and enjoyed the feel of her embrace. It had been so long since I'd felt someone's loving arms around me.
We stood that way for a moment until I said, "I see you still have my drawing hanging up."
I felt her nod her head against my back, then she released her hold to come around and hug me from the front. She looked up at me and said, "That's the one thing that I couldn't get rid of, even just to put it away for safe keeping. It was kind of difficult seeing it every day. But it also made me smile every day. Sometimes it was the only thing that made me smile. That was one of my favorite days ever, because I was with the people I love most in this world."
All I could manage to say without breaking my resolve and letting the tears win again was a whispered, "I love you."
I leaned down to kiss her, but she pulled away. She smiled hesitantly, then said, "I love you, too, Ashton. But..."
"But what, baby?"
"This sounds kind of super sappy, but if we do this, it has to be forever. I can't lose you again. I can't have you for just a little while and have to give you up again."
"Aubree, I swear to you, I'm in this forever." I felt guilty and knew I had lots to prove. But I meant it. I wasn't letting her go ever again. She looked away, but I pulled her chin up to look at me. "I understand if you're hesitant, trust me. Once bitten, twice shy. I get it. And this sounds super sappy, too, but thank you for giving me another chance. I probably don't deserve it. But I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you, Molly, and Ash. I'm nothing without you. I mean it."
She smiled more confidently and cozied up to me even more and said, "Well, now that that's settled..." She put her hands in my hair and tiptoed to kiss me. What started off as a gentle, lingering kiss quickly became full of need and urgency. We migrated toward the bedroom, leaving behind a trail of clothing. And we may have knocked over a lamp.
But things settled down as we made it to our destination. The passion was still present, but we were both savoring every touch, every kiss, every moment. Though it had been so long, I was still familiar with every little bit of her body. Yet, I was recommitting it to memory, because I didn't know when we'd have the opportunity to be together again. We hadn't taken time to figure it out yet, but I wasn't in a hurry because I knew it would happen eventually. For once, I wasn't worried about never seeing Aubree again. And I think that affected our lovemaking in a way, at least on my part. My mind wasn't preoccupied with thoughts of unworthiness or self-doubt. I was simply present in the moment, loving the woman I'd give my life for. That was a freedom I thought I'd never have.
There was really nothing left to discuss that night. Our actions said it all. We wore ourselves out and it was the best sleep I'd had in forever.
Though I was rested up, morning came too soon. It was both strange and comforting waking up and feeling at home. I felt like we were some well established married couple casually going about our business getting ready for a day of fun. But there wasn't much time to linger when we had a three hour driving to meet up with the rest of my band. That three hours of privacy came in handy, though, giving us plenty of time to come up with a game plan.
"Since I'm working on my own schedule now, I can change things up pretty much however I need to in order to have a few days off in a row. However..."
I already knew what she was going to say, so I beat her to it. "However, you don't have to worry about paying for anything."
"Ashton." She gave me a quick side-eyed reprimanding look.
"We've discussed this," she sighed her annoyance, but I wasn't letting her win this time.
"Yes, we have. And I let you have your way. But, now it's time to let me have my way. Look, I know how it is. Growing up, I watched my mum struggle, I know the toll it can take. And I know how independent you are, and you'd never let someone take care of you completely. But if we're planning on making this a permanent thing - and we are - then you're going to have to let me help you out sometimes. Even if it's only so we can spend time together now and then. I have all this money saved up and absolutely nothing that I need it for right now, so I'm going to spend it on you - on us. It may not be millions and millions, but if my career ended tomorrow, I'd never have to work again. So it's cool, I can afford it. There's no reason to feel bad about me paying for your travel expenses at least, alright?
She sighed again, but smiled and rolled her eyes playfully. "Yes, Dad."
Oh, lord. Because of our fandom's insistence that I had a daddy kink, which I absolutely did not, every time I heard any form of the word "dad" anywhere in reference to myself, I couldn't help but think inappropriately. And Aubree knew this. I couldn't let the moment pass without acknowledging it.
"That's my girl. Daddy will take care of you."
Aubree reached across the car and pushed me away. "Oh my god. Fuck you," she exclaimed while laughing.
That was another one I couldn't let go. "You want to? I'm afraid you'll have to take a number and get in line, baby."
She squealed in disbelief at my statement. "Ashton! You're so full of shit today." She could hardly get the words out due to laughing. I'd never heard a sweeter sound.
We finally got around to setting up a tentative schedule that included me staying with her during a week long break soon. Then she'd join me, probably with Molly and Ash, the last week of the US tour, since it was during the kids' winter break from school. And hopefully between Aubree and Calum, they could convince Traci to join us then, as well. We'd figure out the rest later.
Maybe it was because I was so relaxed and happy that I felt like the show was off the charts that night. There was such an awesome vibe and everyone brought their A-game. And when it came time for me to talk, I felt like I could explode from pure joy. I had to let everyone know how I felt.
I listened to the deafening screams of the audience for a few seconds before I got started with my speech, and Michael said, "Guys. Look how happy Ashton is." That, of course, made the girls scream even louder.
"I'm sorry, guys, I can't wipe this smile off of my face."
"Well, don't apologize," Calum laughed.
Luke had something to add, too. "Exactly why can't you stop smiling, Ashton? Hmm??"
I knew he was trying to get something started, in the most loving way possible, because that's what he did. We'd given him so much shit about all the Allegra drama in the past that he jumped at the rare occasion to give it back. I nearly blurted out that I was in love, but holy shit that would have been disastrous.
"Well, Luke, I'm just in a really good place in my life right now. I get to do what I love every night, surrounded by people I love, and I'm just... happy. Happy and content and in love. In love with life right now."
Michael pointed out, "Wow. I think you said 'love' like ten times just then." He was being facetious, playing along with Luke's game.
"It was four, actually," Calum corrected him.
Luke asked Calum, "What about you, Calum. Are you in love with life, too? What's going on in your world?"
I waited for a smartass reply, but Calum actually looked like a deer caught in headlights. He let out a long, "Uhhhh...."
I came to his rescue by introducing the next song. We had a quick laugh about our exchange during the guitar intro, which Michael delivered flawlessly. Then I locked eyes with Aubree, who I'd finally spotted, standing inside the barrier to the far side of Calum's end of the stage. I mouthed an "I love you," and she did the same. It didn't go unnoticed by the fans standing near her. I saw some of them cover their mouths in surprise, and a few looked appalled. I was glad Aubree was facing away from them, because I would have hated for her to see the negative reactions, though I knew they were irrelevant.
After the show, Aubree and I thought we'd hang out on the bus while everyone else stayed backstage for a while, so we could have a little privacy. It was the first time she'd been inside the bus, so I gave her the grand tour. And somehow we ended up in the back making out.
After a while, she untangled herself from me and stood up. "So, have you ever had sex on a bus?" She tucked her hair behind her ear and clasped her hands behind her back. She reminded me of a shy schoolgirl, cute as hell. (Stop with the daddy kink thoughts, it wasn't like that.)
I sat up, pleasantly surprised at her boldness. She usually left that up to me.
"I ha- "
She quickly covered my mouth. "Never mind! I don't want to know. But I haven't, so, you know, if you want..." her words trailed off as she looked straight into my eyes and held my gaze as she reached under her dress, and slowly removed her panties. I thought I might spontaneously combust right then and there. At least I would have died a happy man.
But it got even better when she climbed into my lap.
I slipped my hands under her dress and finally answered, "I haven't had sex on a bus, believe it or not. So I'd very much like to have sex with you right now, please."
She glanced down between us. "Well then, let's take care of this problem."
She unfastened my pants and we fought with them until we achieved the access we both wanted. No, needed. At that point it was more of a need.
When Aubree settled herself over me there was no holding back the moan that escaped my throat. Aubree gasped and closed her eyes as she set the perfect pace. This was totally different from the previous night. It was purely two adults going at it searching for relief from the sexual frustration that had built up all day. I don't even remember that we kissed. And it was no doubt the quickest round we'd ever had, which was actually a blessing in disguise.
No sooner had Aubree removed herself from me than Calum invaded our love nest. We hadn't even had a chance to catch our breath yet.
Calum stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted us trying to sort ourselves. He was talking on his phone and said, "Well, well, well. I think out friends just fucked... Yeah, right here on the bus." Obviously, he was talking to Traci. He laughed and gave us a thumbs up. Then he went on about his business, like almost catching your friends in the act was a completely normal occurrence.
Filing in behind him a few seconds later was Mike and Luke, along with the rest of the crew who cohabited our bus. I know we looked guilty as fuck, but hell, they knew good and well why we wanted to be alone. We probably should have at least closed the door. Anyone could have seen us. Oh well, lesson learned. But maybe taking that risk was partly why it was so damn good.
I got up and closed the door so Aubree could at least put her underwear back on without everyone gawking. We couldn't stop laughing for a few minutes. But then reality set in and the laughter evaporated. We didn't drag out our goodbyes very long, but I did ask if it would be okay to call and talk to the kids in a day or two. She couldn't contain her smile, despite the tears glistening in her eyes.
"Yes, they'd love that so much."
Then she laughed at me when I jumped up and down like a kid. I couldn't help it, I couldn't wait to talk to those little rays of sunshine.
"Great. I'm looking forward to it." I kissed her and opened the door.
I stood by and waited for her to tell everyone goodbye. Then I walked her to her car. That basically amounted to a couple minutes of us staring at each other. I knew everyone was waiting on me, so I finally accepted that it was time to go.
"I guess this is goodbye," I pouted.
"Nope. Not goodbye. Till next time."
"That sounds much better. Till next time."
And that was it. We kissed one more time, and I watched her drive away. Till next time.