Chapter 9 - "That's all that matters"

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"Hi," she half-smiled, tearing up.

"Rylie, it's okay," I told her, sniffling, "I'm your dad, I guess."

"You didn't know?"

"I haven't seen your mum since the night she got pregnant with you. She had seen me drunk with another girl and left me," I explained.

"Oh," Rylie looked down. She soon made eye contact with me again, then hugged me. I loved it. I had a daughter.

"I-" I hesitated, "I love you, Rylie.."

"I love you too, dad," I could tell she was full-on crying now. This was such an emotional moment for her, especially since she had never known I was her dad. She didn't know for sixteen years.

"Rylie, I understand what you've been going through. That's what your mum was saying about my dad. He left my mum and me when I was two," I told her.

"Really?"

"Yeah. We haven't talked since. I don't know where he is, or hardly even who he is.."

"Wow. I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it, princess. You know your dad now, and I'm not going to leave you," I smiled. She smiled back at me.

"I'm going to go talk to your mum," I told her. She nodded. I walked back the hallway into the room that Shaylee had gone into.

"Shay.." I walked into her room.

"What do you want?" She asked, looking up at me from having her face in her pillows. I smiled at her.

"Rylie and I are fine. She likes knowing I'm her dad. I forgive you for not telling me. You don't have to worry. And I want to try again," I told her everything I went in there for.

"Oh," she smiled, "I can make that happen."

"Do you guys want to move in with me? I have a pretty big place.."

"From the band?"

"Yeah."

"I've seen Calum's house."

"Really? You've been there? Why?"

"I wanted to talk to him about telling you that you're Rylie's dad, and about telling Rylie that her favorite teacher," she gestured to me, "is her dad."

"Oh, okay.." I nodded, understanding. I was Rylie's favorite teacher..

"You don't have to worry about that anymore now that I know and Rylie knows," I smiled at her.

"Well.." She paused, looking down. I watched her as she played with her hands, then stood up off of her bed, "never mind."

"No, no, no.. What was 'well..' about?"

"I just can't-" she sniffled, "I can't right now. I'll talk to you later about it.. I just can't talk about it right now."

"Shay, what's wrong? You can tell me now, and you won't be as worried about it later. It'll be okay," I smiled.

*Shaylee's POV*

I just couldn't tell him. I couldn't tell him right now, at least. He had just found out about Rylie being his daughter. I couldn't keep piling the untold secrets onto him. What should I do, though? He's telling me I can tell him, but I don't want to.

"I'll tell you sometime soon, okay?" I smiled, faking it.

"Don't you dare fake a smile, Shaylee Dove," Ashton warned.

"You remembered my middle name?" I looked at him, and he nodded. I shook my head,  "that's not the point. My point is that I just need time to let it sink in that you're going to be in our lives now. I will tell you when I'm ready to let this all out. I'd have about three other people to tell this to too, so I need to make sure I'm ready. I'm not ready quite yet. I promise I'll tell you when I'm ready."

"You better. I love you, though, Shaylee.. And I miss being with you. It was hell without you with me those first few years. I began to move on, but deep down, I knew I'd never be able to. I just can't help it. I'm completely in love with you. I know you feel the same..  Will you marry me?" Ashton got down on one knee and grabbed my hand. I was speechless. I couldn't say anything quite yet. I was in shock, but I nodded.

I heard clapping from outside of the room. The door was open, and there stood Rylie. I looked at her, smiling. Ashton stood up and kissed me.

"I had always thought that we'd be a lot younger when this happened," he chuckled a little bit, "but I was an ass, and you left me for about seventeen years. I deserved it."

"I didn't mean to leave you for that long.. I just- I didn't know where you were part of that time," I told him, "I didn't know if you were around here or if you were on tour."

"You could've texted me or something," he shrugged. I nodded, "I could've, yeah I guess. But we're here together now. That's all that matters."

"Exactly," he smiled.

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