Disclaimer: Does it surprise you to learn that I don't own anything?
Author's Note: This story will have two parts. (So don't kill me when you're reading the epilogue.)
The first thing that Ashley Hammond was aware of when she awoke was that she was most definitely not alone. Two strong arms were wrapped securely around her waist, holding her to the body to which they belonged. A wide smile spread itself slowly over her face as she rolled over, careful not to wake the man still sleeping beside her.
Ashley sighed happily as she remembered the night before, and how gentle and loving he had been with her. She draped an arm over his shoulder, completely content to lie here feeling his heart beating against hers. Last night had forever erased any lingering doubts in her mind that they didn't belong together.
She shivered slightly, and reached down, feeling for the blanket with her hands, not wanting to take her eyes off of him. The covers had slipped off as they'd slept, and she pulled them back up, covering herself from the chin down, warm again once more.
As eager as she was for him to wake up, Ashley felt a small measure of disappointment as he stirred, as she had been perfectly happy just being in his arms, watching him sleep. His hazel eyes widened slightly as he saw her, and Ashley tensed, suddenly anxious. She hadn't thought about how he would react once he remembered...
She shouldn't have worried; his face immediately relaxed into a smile, and he leaned his head forward to capture her lips with his own. "Hi," she whispered once her mouth was free.
"Hi," Andros whispered back to her, his arms tightening their embrace as she slipped her arms around his neck. Hesitantly, he added, "I like waking up like this."
Ashley laughed softly, and hugged him closer. "So do I."
At her words, he felt himself relax completely. For a few moments, there had been a sneaking suspiscion that he'd somehow taken advantage of her. It didn't matter that this was her room, or that she'd invited him in... Ashley was beautiful, too beautiful for him, yet here she was in his arms, staring at him with her sparkling eyes like he was the only person in the universe besides her.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked after awhile, her forehead leaning against his. He was gazing at her in complete adoration, something she didn't mind in the least. There was something about the way he looked at her that made her feel... important wasn't the right word, but the closest she could come up with while lost in his eyes. Loved, definitely, but it was more than that. With Andros looking at her the way he was now, it was like she was his reason for being.
"You," he said softly, feeling his heart soar at the delighted smile that filled out her face. "You are so beautiful."
"So are you," she teased him gently, watching as he blushed a very interesting shade of red that made her only want to tease him further, but she stopped, knowing how uncomfortable it would make him feel. Instead, she ran her fingers through the ends of his blond-streaked brown hair, shifting to be in a better position to kiss him.
"I love you, Ashley," Andros said softly, never appreciating the words more than he did now, at this moment, but still finding them inadequate to convey to her what he was feeling.
"I love you too, Andros," Ashley murmured, her head resting against his shoulder, feeling her heart fluttering as it did every time he said those words to her. "So much."
"Ash, I -"
Whatever Andros had been about to say was lost as Deca's voice interrupted with, "It is now time to wake up."
Ashley sighed and sat up, stretching her arms over her head before laying down again, much preferring Andros's embrace to breakfast. "We don't have to get up now, do we?"
"We should," Andros admitted reluctantly.
"I know," Ashley sighed, nestled comfortably in his arms. "I could stay here all day, though."
"So could I," Andros agreed, shoving off the covers as he sat up. Ashley slipped out of bed, picking up her hastily discarded clothing. She tossed them into the laundry basket in her bathroom, stepping back into her room as Andros finished dressing. On his way out the door, Andros stopped, drawing her into of the deepest, most passionate kisses that Ashley could remember.
"I love you," she murmured, staring up into his eyes as if in a trance. Shaking herself free of it, she turned to go back into her bathroom, and added, "I'll see you at breakfast."