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Disclaimer: I unfortunately do NOT own any of the 'Never Back Down' characters. But I do own the one's I have made up, and named.


Chapter Thirteen

It was Tuesday, and I was nearing my Spanish class.

The past months had been hectic, with all the fighting and constant stress.

But now it was done. As I had thought the night of the fight... the war was over.

The other day, after school, when Ryan and I were leaving the pier, Jake walked past. And instead of glaring, they nodded at each other. And I couldn't help but smile at Jake, who smiled back.

They didn't become best friends, or anything like how Ryan and Eric or Aaron were, they just respected each other, and didn't hate each other anymore.

After the fight we had taken Ryan to hospital and told them he had fell down the stairs, they believed it. Only because Ryan's dad would always pay them to keep their mouths shut. They knew that it was a fight that Ryan had been in, and they were used to it.

Once they patched him up and we got him out, he started acting a little weird. Not with me, he was still his usual self, but with other people. It's almost like he learnt his lesson… that not everything is about being the top dog in the fighting world.

Whenever someone would ask if he was okay, he would always reply with, "Yeah, I'm fine. Plus, I get Ashley to take care of me. She's a great little nurse." With a wink thrown in at the end.

We were back to normal and he acted as he usually did… except he was much more sweeter, he did everything for me and was constantly telling me he loved me. I had been getting suspicious, but passed it off as his way of apologizing for being such an ass the past few weeks.

But now, I knew the reason for it… I was stupid to not realize why he was being like that.

I just wish I had a little bit of warning… so that I didn't react the way I did…

I slowly walked into my class, thoughts of Ryan clouding my mind.

Eric gently took hold of my arm and led me to my seat, pulling it out and helping me sit.

"Don't worry, Ashley, you're just not ready… Ryan will be fine, he's a tough boy." Eric said, trying to comfort me.

I smiled a small smile and thanked him.

"Yeah, I mean some people just aren't cut out for it, they just-" Aaron was cut off when Eric slammed his elbow into his side. "What the-Why did you do that?"

"Shut up, man!" Eric said, shoving Aaron to his seat while he glanced at me. "Ashley, really, he's fine with it… you guys have all the time in the world!"

I bit my lip. "Are you sure he'll be okay?" I asked, knowing deep down that no matter what Eric said, Ryan wasn't okay with it, he was heartbroken.

"He'll be fine, trust me." He said, patting my shoulder. He sat down and looked at me again. "Anyway, remember today we get our paper back."

My eyes widened and I felt myself choke on the air I had just gasped in.

Sally leaned across her table to see me, having heard the conversation. "Hey, you've so passed… that amount of studying you did? Amazing, you will pass for sure." She smiled and paused for a second. "And the Ryan thing, don't worry about it. Like Eric said, you have all the time in the world!"

I frowned looking up at her. "How did you know?"

Sally frowned and I noticed that Aaron and Eric had frowned to.

"Hun, he did it in the middle of the cafeteria, everyone was watching. Everyone knows… and everyone understands, I'm sure of it… at least from what I've heard." Sally said.

"From what you've heard? People have been speaking about it?"

"Yeah, of course they have. Everyone loves you guys! But don't worry; there hasn't been any bad comments, all good ones."

"Oh, okay…" I said, slightly unconvinced.

"So class today is the day you get your results back, so sit patiently as I hand out the papers. Good luck everyone." Mrs. Garza said, starting to hand out the papers.

When she got to me she smiled. She placed it face down on the table and laid a hand on my shoulder. I noticed that she had sympathy in her eyes and realised that she must have seen it along with the other teachers.

I managed to smile at her before she walked past me. I slowly picked up my paper and tried to even out my breathing.

Flipping over the paper, I scanned the contents.

I grinned as I looked down at my exam results. On my paper, written in a thick red marker pen, was my result.

PASS.

My grin faltered for a second as I thought of the event that took place not long ago.

"So, Ashley, what did you get?" I heard Aaron ask.

"I-I passed." I said, surprised.

"Oh my god, well done!" Sally said, having once again heard the conversation. "I told you you'd pass!"

"Yeah, congrats Ashley." Both Eric and Aaron said.

I smiled and thanked them, deciding to enjoy the moment and forget what had taken place earlier.


FLASHBACK...


"Babe, will you pass your crusts." Ryan asked, after finishing off his own sandwich.

I smiled at him and picked up my crusts from my sandwich, extending my hand to him but not giving him them.

He pouted and tried to do the puppy dog eyes that I always gave him.

"You know you suck at that face so don't even bother!" I said, laughing and sticking out my tongue.

"Baby, please… I'm hungry."

I rolled my eyes and gave in, handing him the rest of my sandwich. He finished them off happily, and then jokingly patted his stomach in content. I laughed and gently hit his arm.

I turned my attention back to Shelby and Eric and smiled as I listened to their conversation, joining in sometimes.

After a while I felt eyes on me, I turned to find Ryan staring at me with an intense look.

I blinked and frowned a little. "What? Why are you staring at me like that?"

He bit his lip and continued to look at me.

Getting confused, I looked around our table and noticed everyone watching us. Frowning even more, I turned back to Ryan, about to ask again why he was staring when he spoke.

"Because… because I love you, so much." He said, looking deep into my eyes and taking hold of my hands. "I love you so much that it hurts whenever I'm not with you. I love you so much that I get jealous of every single guy you talk to, or even smile at… because they aren't aloud to see you like that, you're too beautiful for their eyes and they might steal you away… from me…" He trailed off, just to stare at me and take in my beauty.

I tearfully smiled at him and cupped his face, stroking his cheek.

He shook his head and took my hands back, holding them gently, but with purpose.

"And… And I wouldn't ever be able to live if I wasn't with you, by your side… for the rest of my life…" Trailing off again, I stared at him, his words sinking in at that moment.

I sat there, staring at him, my mouth parted. "Ryan… what are you trying to say?" Is he saying what I think he's saying?

He gave me a cheeky smile and kissed both of my hands before getting off his chair and getting on one knee on the ground in front of me.

I gasped and pressed a hand to my mouth, a tear making its way down my face.

He took the hand I wasn't using, and held it.

"What I'm trying to say… is…" He looked over at Sean, who let go of his girlfriends hand to get something out of his bag.

My attention turned to Sean, and when I looked at him, I noticed everyone at the table was smiling; they must have been in on it.

Out of Sean's bag came a small box, but not any type of box. It was a small red apple shaped box, with a brown stem, which was how you opened it.

Sean, with a huge grin on his face, handed the box over to Ryan, who nodded his thanks and took it.

He turned his attention back to me and smiled, giving my hand a squeeze when he saw another tear fall down my face.

"What I'm trying to say is…" He repeated trailing off a little to keep me in suspense. "I fell in love with you the first moment I laid eyes on you. I can't imagine living even another second without you. I want to share every moment of my life with you, I will take care of you, and give you my full support, no matter what may happen..."

He stopped and I bit my lip when I saw tears in his eyes. He opened the apple box, presenting me with the ring, which made my eyes widen when I saw it.

It was beautiful. It was a gold engagement ring with a large diamond in the middle, and two smaller diamonds hugging it, it also had small diamonds going up either side, making it look magical.

"Ashley Price… will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

My mind went blank.

It was like time stopped. But somewhere inside of me… somewhere, someone was screaming. I didn't know what they were screaming, but I could feel that they weren't ready for something. I knew that it was me, that I was feeling that.

I shook my head, I couldn't do it.

"I-I can't…" I spluttered, my mouth opening and closing. "I can't…"

Nothing could prepare me for the look of devastation Ryan had on his face.

Everyone was quiet, no one spoke. No one expected me to say no.

"I just… I don't…" I looked around and felt another tear go down my face, but not from happiness, from desperation. I wanted him to understand, I do love him. I just… couldn't…

Even I didn't understand why I said no.

Ryan opened his mouth and then closed it suddenly. "Its fine, I understand." He whispered, his voice sounded raw, as though he was ready to cry, to shout out his refusal, to make me realize how much he wants me to be his wife.

I shook my head, ready to open my mouth and tell him that he couldn't understand, because even I don't understand.

I didn't get that chance. The bell went, signaling the end of lunch.

Ryan silently stood up. He was still holding onto my hand, so he gently pulled me to my feet, taking a step back so that he wasn't too close.

Eric slowly came over, as though he didn't want to. I knew he was confused, along with everyone else. I could tell by the sympathetic look they all threw at us.

"I-We-You… uh, we have Spanish now. Are you… ready?" Eric asked, stumbling over his words awkwardly.

I couldn't feel anything, and could barely feel myself nod.

Both mine and Ryan's heads were down, unable to piece together what just happened.

I took a step away, before turning back to Ryan, barely able to look at him. "I love you." I said, earnestly, desperately wanting him to know I meant it.

Staring at the floor, he just nodded solemnly.

Aaron and Eric lead me away gently. But as I was walking away, I couldn't help but glance back at him.

Ryan stood in the middle of the empty cafeteria, still clutching the box which held my engagement ring.

A tear made its way down his face, and dropped silently onto the ground.


...END OF FLASHBACK


I blinked and tried to forget the look on Ryan's face when I turned him down.

I could give you many reasons why I love Ryan… but I wouldn't be able to give you the reason why I said no.

Maybe I wasn't sure if I was ready to make that commitment. Though, I have been committed to Ryan for so many years, so what's the difference in getting married.

A big difference actually. What if Ryan wouldn't love me anymore, what if he got sick of me?

I was scared. I didn't know what to do. I was scared of the future, what would happen? Would we make it? Could we make it?

Either way, I knew Eric was right. We did have all the time in the world. Why rush it?

After leaving Spanish class, I was walking to my next class when I heard someone calling my name.

I turned and noticed that it was Jake, I smiled and stopped walking.

Jake jogged up to me and looked slightly awkward. "Hey, Ashley, can we talk?" He asked, his voice scruffy.

I giggled and looked at him playfully. "Depends… you're not going to ask to kiss me are you?" I asked, reminding him of the first night he and Ryan fought.

Jake coughed and looked at me apologetically. "Uh, yeah, look... I'm sorry about that, I wasn't thinking straight."

I shook my head and laughed. "Don't worry about it! Ryan would've done the same if you had a girlfriend."

Jake shook his head, smiling. "I doubt that."

I smiled and looked at him confused. "What do you mean?"

Jake smiled back. "C'mon... he only has eyes for you. I think he'd die before showing interest in another girl."

I bit my lip and looked at him for a moment. "You think?"

"Yeah, definitely… he loves you so much, we may not be close, but I can tell that you love him just a much too."

I didn't say anything, just stared at him.

He frowned, looking away and then back at me, concerned. "Is something wrong? Are you okay?"

I looked at him before I slowly let a huge grin appear on my face. "You're right… you are completely right. He does love me… and I do love him, so much! God, what was I thinking? I love him… I love him!"

Jake smiled, confused. "Are you sure you're okay… do you want me to take you to the nurse?"

I grinned at him. "I'm fine! Actually I'm better than fine… I'm fantastic!"

"A-are you sure?" Jake said, unconvinced.

I laughed and jumped on him, grabbing his face between my hands and pecking him on the lips. "Thank you so much… I don't know what I would've done without you!"

His face was still squashed in my hands so he replied, confused. "You're welcome…"

I grinned and let go of him. "I'm going to marry him. I love him!" I said to myself, shaking my head. "And it's all thanks to you."

Jake blinked. "You-you're marrying him?" I nodded, a grin still on my face. "Wow, that's amazing… congratulations!" He said, pulling me into a hug.

"Thank you so much, you made me realise that I do love him… I-I need to see him, he thinks… god, he thinks I don't want to…that I don't love him. But I do! God, I do…" I rambled.

Jake just nodded dumbfounded. "You should go see him…"

I gasped and looked at him. "Oh my god, I do… I-I…" I stopped and smiled before turning and started running off in the direction that I knew Ryan would be in.

I paused and stopped, before running back to Jake and hugging him tightly. "Thank you." I whispered, before running off again.

Jake grinned. "Good luck, Ashley McCarthy!"

I ran until I found him, ignoring all the weird looks I got.

When I spotted him, I grinned. He had his back to me since he was walking in the corridor on his way to class, but I knew it was him.

"Ryan!" I shouted, slowing down my run to a jog.

He turned around, a look of sorrow on his face, until he saw it was me calling his name, at which he smiled slightly.

I ran at him and didn't stop until I had jumped and wrapped my legs around his waist.

I kissed him as passionately as I could and he dropped his bag in surprise, people stopping what they were doing to watch.

I pulled away and cupped his face. "I love you; I love you so much… I realise now that I was being stupid… I do love you and yes… I do want to be your wife. I love you, Ryan… and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

I smiled as I saw tears begin to appear in his eyes.

"You do? You will be my wife?" He asked, a smile appearing on his face.

"Yes… if you'll still have me that is."

He shook his head. "I will always want you… no matter what. You are mine, and I am yours."

I smiled as tears came to my eyes, one running down my face. I laughed and grinned as everyone around us staring clapping and cheering. I noticed a few teachers also stopping to join in.

Ryan slowly let me back to my feet. He kissed my lips again and kneeled down to his bag, opening it up and bringing out the familiar small box I had seen earlier.

He opened it and stayed on his knee. "I want to do this right… I know how much you love this part in the movies, so I will do it again, for you." He chuckled a bit. "I even wrote another proposal, you know, for when I got to do this again."

I smiled, and another tear went down my face.

"Ashley Price… I love you so much. I promise to never leave you alone, and to be with you for your entire life, through the good times and bad. I'll always be there for you, and give of myself whatever I must in order to make you happy, and keep you safe. I'll love you forever... Will you marry me?"

I gave a big smile as tears freely fell down my face. "I will."

Ryan grinned and took my left hand, slowly sliding the ring up my finger. "I love you." He said, standing up and gently taking hold of me to kiss me passionately.

More cheers came and they got louder when Ryan dipped me down and continued to kiss me.

"Go Ryan!" "Give it to her good!" "Congratulations!" Were all the shouts that came, I smiled into the kiss as I realised that it was all Ryan and my friends that were shouting.

He pulled me back up and pulled away, smiling. He caringly wiped the tears from my face, and I smiled as I wiped away the single tear that was making its way down his cheek.

He pressed me to his side and hugged me, turning us so that we were facing our friends and everyone else.

I laughed and giggled, a slight blush coming to my face as I heard all the cheers. I cuddled into Ryan's side, hiding my face.

He turned his attention to me and gently lifted my head with his fingers. He ran his finger down my cheek as he brought my left hand up and kissed the ring on my finger.

"Miss McCarthy, I honestly cannot wait to live the rest of my life with you by my side." He said, pressing a kiss to my lips.

I smiled at him, my eyes lit with happiness.

"And I, Mr McCarthy, cannot wait to live the rest of my life with you by my side."


THE END