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I Will Fight For You

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She drove. She drove as fast as she possibly could without going over the speed limit. She couldn’t risk being pulled over by the police. She needed to get as far away as she could in the short window she had. She needed to get somewhere safe where she could contact Kyle and pray that he will help her. She didn’t have a game plan, as she left in a hurry. She barely had time to grab any personal belongings as her mind was set on just getting away. She knew she was taking a huge risk, but she had no choice anymore. It wasn’t just about her now, as she subconsciously put her hand on her belly. When she first saw the results on the pregnancy test, she was sure it was wrong. How could this be. She had been so careful. She used the rest of the tests in the box and they both confirmed the same thing. Pregnant. It brought her to her knees. As much as Ali had always wanted to have a baby, she knew bringing a baby into her life right now was the worst situation to be in. She had to leave now. Her instinct was to get as far away from the man she married as possible. She can never let this man know he has a child.
Ali knew she only had about a twelve-hour head start before her husband would find out she was gone. She knew that contacting Kyle was a risk, but she didn’t have anyone else to turn to and she wasn’t eve sure she could turn to him, but she had to try. She managed to grab some cash she knew her husband had stashed away as she knew that using credit cards would lead him straight to her. She also knew she would not be able to continue driving the car she was in as he could report it stolen and have the police on her in a heartbeat. She decided to ditch the car at an airport in a different city and take an uber to a bus station and grab a bus to Miami to find Kyle.
Once on the bus, Ali was able to breathe for a minute and work on her next plan. Her husband would use all his resources to find her, so she knew she would have to get off this bus before the intended stop. She knew her husband would figure out that she had not got on a plane and would be looking at alternative modes of transportation to get away. She just needed a head start and she would think of a plan while she tried to relax a little on the bus.

When Ali was about halfway to her destination of Florida, she decided it was time to get off the bus. She had been on the run for about six hours and she was going to run out of time soon. The bus let out at a truck stop just on the outskirts of a town on the way to Florida. She didn’t even know where she was, but she needed to find a new mode of transportation. She thought about calling Kyle and having him just come get her, but she had to try and involve him as little as possible as he would be the first person her husband suspects of helping her. She decided she better have some coffee and get some food in her if she was going to have the energy to get through this. She sat at a booth in the diner and ordered some bacon and eggs and some coffee and tried to figure out her next move. As she was sitting in deep thought an older woman approached her and asked to sit at her table as the diner had filled up quite quickly. Ali motioned for the woman to sit.

“Thanks for letting me sit here. I’m kind of in a rush and don’t really feel like waiting for a table to open up, as I need to get on the road as soon as possible. My name is Heather.”
“It’s no problem. I was starting to feel guilty because I had this big table to myself and now there are people waiting. I’m Ali.” Mentally slapping herself in the head for using her real name
“Are you a driver Ali?”
“No.” was all Ali offered.
“You must be from town then.” Heather could tell Ali was hiding something, but she didn’t want to push the girl into talking about it if she wasn’t up to talking about it. Heather knew that look though. She knew the look of someone running away from someone. The constant looking over your shoulder, keeping your head down, not making eye contact and trying not to draw any attention to herself. She lived like that for so many years that it wasn’t hard for her to spot the same fear in the brunette’s eyes.
Ali didn’t reply to Heather. She just looked down at the table and hoped her food would come soon. She wasn’t really hungry, but she knew she had to eat. She just wanted to keep moving and trying to put as much distance between herself and Washington DC as possible.

Heather’s heart ached for this woman. She knew that Ali wasn’t going to offer up any information. She knew that she needed to tread lightly and to try and get this girl to trust her a little if she was going to be able to help her a bit. She also knew that Ali would be in protection mode, so most of the information coming from Ali might not be truthful. She thought back to her days on the run when she left her husband and her fear of trusting anyone, but she knew that if she was going to help this girl, she needed to try. Her only option was to talk to this girl and try to get her to trust her.

“I have been driving trucks for 8 years now. I started driving about a year after I left my abusive husband. I was on the run from him and I had no money to get away, so one day after a particularly ruthless ass kicking from my husband, I took off after he passed out from drinking. I didn’t think I would get very far, but I had to try. I made it to the outskirts of town to a little truck stop just like this and I had to stop there because I couldn’t walk anymore. I went inside and sat down and broke down crying. The owner of the diner came over and asked me if everything was ok. I broke down and told her I couldn’t walk anymore, and I just needed to sit for a bit. She asked me what I was running away from. I didn’t answer her. She knew though. She could see the marks he left and the fear in my eyes. She got up from the table and got me some food and some coffee and she helped me find transportation to the next state over. She got me a ride with her truck driving friend, and he helped me get out of the state and as far away from my abusive husband as possible. I never looked back. It was hard though, but I met so many people who were able to help once I opened up and shared my story. People surprised me. I always thought of myself as a failure and unworthy of people’s support. My husband beat any self-esteem I had out of me, and it took me a long time to find my self worth again. But I did, and here I am now. I beat my demons and made a life for myself, and it all started with trusting just one person.”

“Did your husband come looking for you?” Ali asked.
“He did, but I was long gone. He didn’t have the money to try and come after me. He drank all of our money away”
“What if he did have the money and the resources to find you and bring you back, what would you have done?”

“I would have fought, Ali. I would have never given up. Trusting people for someone like me was so hard, but once I realized that not everyone is out here trying to hurt me, I put my faith in other people’s hands, and they were able to get me the help I needed. No one deserves what I went through, even if I believed at one point in my life that I did deserve it. I made peace with myself and what happened to me. I built myself back up, but I was only able to do that with the help and support of strangers, because I had no one else. Sometimes you just need to trust that things will work out.”
Ali saw the compassion in Heather’s eyes. Ali could tell she knew. How could she not know? The situations are similar. Ali may not have fresh wounds like Heather did, but she did have some fading bruises that were still a bit visible.
“He will find me. He found me once, he will find me again. He has money and resources and will stop at nothing to find me.” Ali whispered to Heather.
Heather reached across the table and took Ali’s hand. “I can help you if you let me.”

Tears fell out of Ali’s eyes. She was exhausted and mentally drained and sitting in a diner without a plan on what to do next. Even though her instinct were telling her not to trust anyone, Ali took a leap of faith and nodded her head.

Heather smiled at Ali and handed he a tissue to wipe her eyes.

“What is your plan honey?” Heather asked.

“I don’t really have one. I am trying to get to my brother in Florida, but that will be the first place my husband looks for me. I left on a bus from Washington DC and got off here because I knew he would track me down if I went all the way to Florida on the bus. I don’t know what to do next. I stopped here to regroup and come up with my next move, but I don’t know what to do next. I only have a little bit of money that won’t get me too far, I am running out of time and my options are limited.”

“Oh honey.” Tears fell down Heather’s face. Seeing Ali so scared and hopeless juts broke her heart. She had to do whatever she can to help Ali.

“I know someone who can help you. Her name is Ashlyn and she lives in Orlando. She is a lawyer and she helps people like us escape from abusive relationships. I can help you get to her. I live in South Carolina and I am heading that way right now, so I can take you with me and I can take you to her after I finish this job. I want to help you Ali. Please let me help you.”
Ali was at a loss for words. Her brain was all over the place. She wanted to trust Heather to help her, but she was scared to believe her. She didn’t know what to do.

Heather could see the battle going on in Ali’s mind. She felt the same way when she first left her husband. She needed to get this girl to trust her. She pulled out her cell phone and handed it to Ali. Ali saw a picture of Heather and a young girl. “This was my reason for running. I left so she would have a chance.”

Ali broke down crying and handed the phone back to Heather.

“I’ll go with you”

Chapter Text

After finishing their meal, Heather walked Ali out to her truck and helped her get in. Ali only had a small backpack with her, so she didn’t take up a lot of room. Heather told Ali that there was a cot in the back if she wanted to lie down. Ali chose to stay up front with Heather. She felt oddly at ease with this woman, even though she was still hesitant in trusting her.

Ali didn’t talk to much. She listened to Heather talk about how she became a truck driver and stories about her daughter. Heather tried to keep the conversation light as to try and ease some of the tension that Ali may be feeling right now. The closer they got to South Carolina; the more nervous Ali got. She hated not knowing what was going to happen and she was starting to get really scared about her future and being able to support a baby.
Heather could tell there was a lot going on in Ali’s mind. She wanted Ali to be able to talk to her, but she knew she had to earn Ali’s trust first and that wasn’t going to happen over night. She just needed to let Ali know she was here if she needed her for anything.

“If you need to talk about anything or if you want to ask me questions, I want you to know I am here for you, but you don’t need to say anything if you are more comfortable with that. I just want you to know you aren’t alone.” Heather smiled at Ali and Ali returned a small smile to Heather.

When they were about an hour away from Heather’s drop site, Ali spoke up for the first time, “How far along in your pregnancy were you when you left?”
“I was about 4 weeks into my pregnancy, and I found out about a week before I left. I would have left sooner, but I had no where to go and no money. I felt like I had no options. I left the first time he hit me after I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared he would kill my baby. My need to protect my child outweighed my insecurities at the time. I needed to get out and figure shit out after. My priority was my unborn child.”

Ali didn’t say anything after that. She just stared out the window until they reached the destination.

Once Heather dropped of the truck and trailer, she led Ali over to her car and they made their way back to Heather’s house. When they got to Heather’s place, Heather led Ali to a spare room for Ali to use. Heather told Ali she had to leave to go pick up her daughter from school and told Ali she could stay and have a shower and get some rest. Ali thanked her and decided that a shower was exactly what she needed right now. Ali stood under the stream of the water for at least 15 minutes just letting the water run over her entire body. She felt oddly calm standing here letting the water wash away the past. After finishing the shower, she got dressed and went out into the living room to wait for Heather to get home. She looked at pictures Heather had all over her house of her and her daughter. It made Ali smile. It gave her a glimmer of hope.

Heather and her daughter walked in a few minutes later and met Ali in the living room.
“Ali, this is my daughter Christen.” Christen walked over to Ali and shook her hand.

Ali wasn’t sure what Heather had told Christen about her being there, so she looked to Heather for guidance. Heather smiled and told Christen to go get started on her homework and they would have dinner in a couple hours.
“Bye miss Ali” she said and turned to go off to her room to tackle her homework.

“I told her you were an old friend visiting for a couple of days. I won’t tell her anything you don’t want her to know. I won’t betray your trust Ali.”
“Thank you.” Ali replied softly.

“I can take you to Orlando on Saturday. My friend Sydney looks after Christen when I am on the road, but she is away until Saturday, so I hope you are ok hanging out with us for a couple of days.”

“Of course. You have already helped me so much. I hope I am not putting you out by being here.”

“I can assure you Ali, that you being here is not putting me out. I am so extremely grateful to be able to help you. I want you to be here and I want to help you anyway I can.”

Ali started to cry again. She was so grateful that Heather was here. The exhaustion was finally kicking in and Heather grabbed her hand and squeezed and gave Ali a reassuring smile. She told Ali to go lie down before dinner. Ali thanked her and made her way to her room.

Ali woke to a light knocking on the door. She was confused at first as to where she was and started to panic a little until her brain caught up and she remembered that she was at Heather’s house.

“Dinner is ready Ali, would you like to come eat with us?”

“I’ll be right there.” Ali replied, getting herself up out of bed. She ran her hands over her face trying to wake herself up. She opened the door to find Heather standing there smiling at Ali.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sleep that long.”

“Oh honey, you need the sleep, trust me. You are mentally and physically exhausted. You never need to apologize to me about taking care of yourself. I am so happy you were able to get some rest.”

Ali gave Heather a small smile and followed her to the kitchen for dinner. Christen was already sitting at the table waiting and smiled when she saw Ali coming to join them.

The talk at the table was light and they mostly talked about Christen’s classes and soccer games. Heather had been on the road since Monday, so she was trying to catch up on her daughter’s last few days.

“I am struggling a bit with math this semester. We stared doing algebra, and it’s pretty hard. It’s not really making any sense to me.” Christen said.
“Well, math definitely is not my strong suit sweetheart. We can look at getting you some extra help if you need it.”

“I can help you.” Ali spoke softly to Christen.
“Are you good with Algebra miss Ali?” Christen asked.
“Math was my best subject and I did ok with Algebra. I can try and help you if you would like?”

“Eeeee…That would be so great. Thank you Miss Ali. Can you help me with my homework once I finish the dishes?”

“Of course. I would love to help out.”

“I will take care of the dishes tonight,” Heather said. ”You guys can focus on your homework. I need you to be good and smart so you can get into college and get a good job, so you can support your old mother.” Heather laughed.
For the first time in a long time Ali laughed too.

Chapter Text

Ali spent the next two days with Heather and Christen feeling more relaxed with them as time went on. But when Friday night rolled around, the anxiety was setting in and Ali was feeling less confident about leaving this little family. This was the first time in 7 years that she had a semblance of feeling safe and she wasn’t sure she could just walk away from that. Heather could feel the stress coming off Ali.

“Your feeling stressed about tomorrow, aren’t you?” Heather asked.

Ali nodded and looked at her feet.

“Please believe me when I say that I am going to be putting you in very capable hands Ali. Ashlyn helped me so much when I was going through everything and there is not a person on this planet besides Christen, that I trust more. She is good at what she does, and she will help you. I guarantee it.”

“I’m scared I will have to go back to him. I’m scared that no one will be able to help me and I will have no choice but to return.” Ali got up from the chair she was sitting in and ran to the bathroom. Heather followed close behind and heard Ali vomiting inside. She slowly opened the door and moved to grab Ali’s hair out of the way so she could finish.

“Oh sweet girl, I know how scared you are, but I promise I will be with you every step of the way. I won’t leave you alone in this.” Heather rubbed Ali’s back. Once she was finished. Heather helped her get up and took her to the sink so she could rinse her mouth. Heather guided Ali to her room and laid her down on the bed, putting a washcloth to her forehead.

Ali laid staring at the ceiling of the room and cried. Heather’s heart broke. She so desperately wanted to help this girl and make her feel safe, but she felt like she was failing.

“I’m pregnant.” Ali whispered.

This statement brought Heather out of her thoughts. She was feeling overwhelmed with what Ali just told her. The feelings she felt when she was in the same position many years ago, came rushing back and her instinct to protect this girl just increased. She cried as she held Ali’s hand.

“I am going to help you Ali. I promise.”

***

The drive to Orlando was stressful for Ali. She had a hard time saying goodbye to Christen. She had grown very fond of the little girl in the past couple of days and she was sad that she had to say goodbye. Heather had promised that they would see each other again very soon. Ali was holding out hope that she was right.

Even though Ali was skeptical on how Ashlyn was going to be able to help her, she trusted Heather. Heather had talked about everything that Ashlyn was able to do for her and how Ashlyn was the person she trusted most in the world other then her daughter. If Heather trusted Ashlyn that much, Ali was a least going to give her the benefit of the doubt. She knew she had a long difficult fight ahead of her. Her husband won’t just sit back and let her go. If he finds her, he will force her to go back and she knows she won’t survive it again.

As they approached Orlando, Ali’s anxiety was in full swing. She was nearing a panic attack and was starting to worry about what all this stress was doing to the baby. Heather could see the internal struggle Ali was having. She reached over and grabbed her hand. “I am going to be with you every step of the way Ali. I am not just going to drop you off and forget about you. I am going to help you fight to get your life back Ali.”
Ali squeezed Heather’s hand and looked at her with tears in her eyes. “I’m so scared Heather.” Ali whispered.
“I know you are honey, and I promise you I am taking you to the best person I know that will be able to help you. She knows her shit Ali and she will protect you, just like she protected me. I promise, she will do everything she can to make sure you are safe.”
Ali nodded and turned and looked out the window. They were in Orlando now and Heather drove until she reached a very large gate. Heather pushed the button on the intercom and a voice came through the box. Heather spoke back to the box and the gate opened. Heather drove the car along the long driveway until Ali could see a very beautiful modern style home come into view through the trees. Heather pulled up to the house and parked the car. She grabbed Ali’s hand and squeezed it for reassurance.
Ali got out of the car and followed Heather up the front steps of the home. The front door opened, and a woman came out to greet them. Heather ran up to the girl and hugged her. Heather turned around and grabbed Ali’s hand and brought her up to introduce her.

“Ali, this is Kelley. She works for Ashlyn.”

“Hi Ali. It’s so nice to meet you. I am Ashlyn’s head of security. Ashlyn is just on the phone right now, but why don’t you both come in and sit while we wait for her to free up.” Kelley spoke softly and tried to get Ali to make eye contact with her. Ali just stared at her shoes. She wasn’t trying to be rude, but she was feeling intimidated and very self-conscious right now.

Ali didn’t say anything. She just followed behind the two women as they entered the house. Kelley led them to a sitting room and asked them to have a seat. She offered them some beverages, which Ali declined. She felt like if she put something in her stomach right now, she would probably throw it up. She was completely out of her element right now. It had been so long since she had done anything for herself, she wasn’t even sure how to anymore. Everything had been laid out for her for the past 7 years and she was so used to living by the schedule she was given because if she didn’t, she would pay. She did everything that was expected of her to the point she stopped questioning things, because it was just easier to do what she was told. Now here she was, sitting with two people she barely knew, trying to get some part of her life back, even if she didn’t know what that meant right now.

Kelley and Heather were getting caught up with each other since they hadn’t seen one another for a while. Heather kept glancing over to Ali and could see she was in deep thought. Her heart broke watching Ali work through her thoughts and process everything that was happening around her. Just as Heather was about to ask Ali if she was ok, she heard someone coming into the room.

“I am so sorry to keep you waiting.” The woman approached Heather and Ali. Ali looked up to see the woman enter the room and walk towards her. “I’m Ashlyn Harris.”

Ali froze.

Chapter Text

It took Ali a second to realize that Ashlyn was holding out her hand to shake hers. Ali slowly raised her hand and took Ashlyn’s. Ali felt overwhelmed in this moment. Ashlyn was not at all what she was expecting. She was expecting an older woman in her 50’s perhaps. She had pictured her being a little on the heavy side and more the motherly type. That is not what was standing in front of her. Ashlyn was young and gorgeous. She had the most captivating hazel eyes Ali had ever seen and Ali could feel the warmth in her stare. Ashlyn was quite tall and in excellent physical condition. She had muscles popping out everywhere. Her arms were covered in tattoos, which intrigued Ali even more. This girl is definitely not what Ali expected.
Ashlyn smiled at Ali as she took her hand to shake it. Ashlyn could tell Ali was having an internal battle in her head. She looked broken. She looked sad, and she was definitely beautiful. Ashlyn had seen her fair share of women in Ali’s position. She instantly felt the need to help and protect her. She was going to do everything in her power to help this beautiful woman get her life back.

“I will leave you guys to it. Let me know if you need anything.” Kelley said as she turned to leave the room.

Ashlyn motioned for Ali to take a seat. Ashlyn walked over to Heather and hugged her tight. “How are you Heather?”

“I’ve been doing well. Keeping busy with work” Heather replied.

“And how’s my favorite girl Christen doing?”

“She’s great. Smart as a whip, that girl.” Heather replied.

“She’s perfect. Can’t wait to see her.” Ashlyn let Heather go from the hug and she moved to sit across from Ali.

Ashlyn gave Ali a small smile. “Ali, I know you have been through a lot and that things right now are very hard and stressful for you, but I am going to do everything I can to help you. I would like to get to know you a little better and we can discuss anything you feel comfortable with right now. I am not going to pressure you into telling me anything you don’t want to, but I want you to know that the more I know, the more I can help. I am here to take care of you and help you get your life back. This is not going to be an easy process Ali, but I will do whatever I can to make this as easy on you as possible. As Heather has already told you. It’s going to take some time Ali, but if you trust me, I will fight as hard as I can to give you everything you deserve.”
Tears are running down Ali’s face. She’s so overwhelmed with everything that she’s feeling she can’t even talk. She just looks down and nods. Ashlyn hands Ali a tissue.

“Heather has filled me in a little bit on your situation. I will be working for you Ali, so you will be making the calls here. Would you like Heather to stay in the room with us while we talk, or would you prefer to talk privately. It’s completely up to you.”

Ali looks over to Heather. “Stay” Ali whispers. Heather smiles at Ali and grabs her hand for support.

“Ok. Great. I would like to ask you a few questions if that’s ok Ali? If you are feeling uncomfortable at anytime, please just tell me and we can move on. I just want to get an idea of what happened to you. You can give me as little or as much information as you want. I want you to be able to trust me Ali, so I will not force you to tell me more then you are will to right now. Is it ok if I ask you a few questions and record our conversation?” Ashlyn spoke to Ali with such compassion, that Ali starts to feel a little more at ease with this woman.

“Ok, good. Anytime you want to stop, we will. Just say the word. You are in control of this situation Ali. Okay?”

Ali nods and wipes the tears from her eyes.

Ashlyn starts the recorder and looks at Ali who can’t bring herself to make eye contact with Ashlyn at the moment. Ashlyn knows these questions are going to be hard for Ali to answer so she tries to make it as simple as possible for this conversation wanting to get just a little information from Ali so she can get started on trying to help this woman.

“How long were you with your husband?”

Ali took a deep breath, ”We were together for 10 years, married for 7.”

“How did you meet your husband?”

“I got a job at his communication firm. I worked there for about 6 months before we started dating.”

“What was your relationship like when you first started dating?”

“He was very attentive, and sweet. He made me feel special and cared for.” Ali replied.

“You are doing really great Ali.” Ashlyn smiled when Ali looked up at her. Ali looked back to the ground waiting for the next question.

“When did you start to notice a change in your relationship?”

Ali took a deep breath. She knew she had to answer these questions, but she hated feeling like these people would start to judge her for being so weak and naïve.

“Take your time Ali. Remember, you have all the control here.” Ashlyn stated.

“To be honest I didn’t notice a change until after we got married, but I should have seen it way before that.” Ali shook her head.

“You know, Ali, men like your husband are very good at hiding who they really are until they feel like they have complete control over you. You can’t beat yourself up for not noticing gradual changes. Sometimes we just want to believe in our loved ones more then we should. We can’t be faulted for being in love and trusting the person we love especially when they don’t give us a valid reason to begin with.” Ashlyn said trying to comfort Ali. “Instead of dissecting the small issues in your relationship, what was the first clear sign that there was a problem?”

“A few months after we got married, my husband told me I needed to quit my job and stay at home. I had worked at his firm for a couple of years and I enjoyed what I was doing. He told me since we were married, there was no point in me working. I told him I wanted to keep working because I loved what I was doing, and I liked the people I was working with. He asked me if I liked the people more then I loved him. I told him “no”, then he flew off the handle and told me that if I didn’t leave the firm, that he would have me fired. He didn’t want his wife working. None of his colleagues had wives that worked, and he didn’t want people thinking that he was unable to support his household by himself without having his wife bringing in money too. His father gave him the firm when he retired, and that’s when things changed. His mother stayed at home and raised the children and that’s what my husband wanted me to do. I agreed to leave my job and stay at home.”

“Okay. After you left your job, were things better between you and your husband?”

“No. They progressively got worse. It started with small arguments and went from there.”

“What did you argue about?”

“His drinking mostly. When he took over the firm, he started drinking quite heavily. He would go out after work and come home late at night reeking of alcohol. I would stay up waiting for him and as soon as he would enter the house, we would start arguing. One night it escalated so bad, that he hit me. I told him that if he didn’t get help for his drinking, that I was going to leave. He punched me in the face and told me the only way I was ever going to leave him was in a body bag. I saw something in his eyes that night that made me believe he was serious. That was the first time I was truly scared of him.” Ali was sobbing by the end of this story to the point she wasn’t able to talk anymore. Ashlyn looked at Heather as she held Ali. Ashlyn wanted to go over and comfort this girl, but she knew that was a bad idea. She needed to earn Ali’s trust, and she swore to herself that she was going to get this woman to trust her so she could help her.
“How about we stop there for now Ali and take a little break?”

Ali just nodded.

“I just have one more question for you Ali. What is your husbands name?”

“James…James Harper.”

Ashlyn stood there as Heather took Ali to the bathroom. “Shit”

Chapter Text

Of course her husband is James Harper. The President of the biggest communications firm in the United States. Ashlyn ran her hands over her face as she processed this new information. This was going to be a challenge, Ashlyn thought. Never one to back down from a challenge, Ashlyn set her mind to do everything she possibly could to help Ali. She needed to help her. From the moment Ashlyn laid eyes on Ali, she new she needed to take care of this girl. Her heart hurt for her. She felt a connection to Ali, and she wanted to take care of her in whatever context that may be.

Heather and Ali returned from the washroom and Ashlyn handed Ali a glass of water. She looked like she had calmed down a bit, but Ashlyn knew she probably shouldn’t push her anymore today.

“Ali, I think we had a pretty good start with what you were able to share with me today. Thank you for trusting me to tell me those things. I know this is not easy for you, so I appreciate it. Like I said earlier, this will be a long process, and I can’t fix everything for you overnight. I can promise you that I will keep you safe and I will fight hard for you. I would like you to stay here with me at my house. Your husband will not be able to get to you here, I promise. Not only are we completely gated, I have a badass group of women that secure this property. Not only will I keep you safe, but these women will as well. They are all ex-marines and very skilled at personal security and protection. You will be provided a personal security guard to be with you around the clock. Nobody will be able to get close to you unless you want them to. I want you to feel safe and comfortable here Ali. You may be here for awhile and I want you to feel at home as we work on rebuilding your life. I will do my best to get you anything you need, just say the word.”

“I don’t have any money. I won’t be able to pay you” Ali spoke softly, tears running down her face again.

Ashlyn’s heart broke. She stood up and moved over to Ali, kneeling in front of the broken girl.

“Oh Ali, I don’t care about money. I’m not helping you because I am looking to get paid. I am helping you because no one deserves to go through what you have been through. You deserve to have a good life Ali and I will make sure that I help you get that. All I want is for you to heal and to find your self-worth again. You have been through hell and I am able to help you, so that’s what I am going to do. I don’t want your money. Even if you offered to pay me, I would not take it. I am doing this because it’s the right thing to do and maybe one day you will be in a position to help someone in need. I can tell you are a good person Ali. I can tell, even though you have been through such a traumatic experience, that you are worth saving. You just need to believe that too. You need to believe your worth Ali. I see it and I know Heather sees it too.”

Ali took a deep breath and looked up to the ceiling. She wanted to believe this woman in front of her. She wanted to believe everything she was saying. She wanted to feel free. She wanted to give her child a good life and not worry anymore. Ali was lost for words, so she did the only thing she could think of in the moment and she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around Ashlyn’s neck and hugged her as hard as she could. Ashlyn closed her eyes as she held Ali in her arms. She held this broken, beautifully flawed woman as hard as she could to try and convey that she would do anything in her power to protect her.

Ashlyn took Ali through the house to show her around. She showed Ali the room she would be staying in while she was at Ashlyn’s house. The room was quite large and beautifully decorated. It had its own private ensuite which Ali fell in love with. The tub was huge, and Ali looked forward to sinking into a hot bath to ease her achy body.

Ashlyn showed Ali where her room was just across the hall from Ali’s room. It was a similar layout to Ali’s room and had its own ensuite attached as well. Ashlyn took Ali around the rest of the house and ended the tour in the state-of-the-art gym at the back of the house. Ali looked around the gym in awe. It had everything. She used to love working out, but her husband made her stop going and she desperately missed it.

“You can use the gym any time you want, Ali. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and help clear your head. I come in here a lot. It’s where I come to escape a hard day. Helps me clear my head.”

Ali looked over at Ashlyn and could tell she spends a lot of time in this room. Ashlyn was super fit and had an amazing physique. Ali started to feel a little self conscious about her body. She hadn’t been in a gym in at least 5 years. She wasn’t over weighed, but she definitely had a few extra pounds and her body had become soft. Ali subconsciously wrapped her arms around her body as if to shield the view to Ashlyn.

Ashlyn knew what she was thinking, but she didn’t think it was appropriate to make any comments about Ali’s body looking perfectly fine especially since she didn’t know the extent of what Ali had been through.

“Shall we go find Heather and have some lunch?” Ashlyn asked Ali.

“Sure.” Ali said quietly.

Ashlyn walked Ali to the kitchen were Heather was waiting with Kelley. Kelley was preparing some sandwiches for lunch.

“I hope you like roast beef Ali” Kelley said.

Ali just nodded. She was starting to feel a little hungry, so She was happy with anything they were able to give her.

The conversation during lunch was very light. They mostly listened to Heather talk about how well Christen was doing. As Ali was eating, she suddenly was hit with a bout of nausea and got up and ran for the bathroom, with Heather right on her heals. Ali made it to the toilet just in time. Heather held her hair back for her until she finished. Once she was done, Heather helped her to her feet and helped her clean up. When Ali and Heather walked back out to the kitchen, Ashlyn ran over to Ali and helped sit her down in the chair.

“Are you okay?” Ashlyn asked softly.

“I’m pregnant.” Ali said as she started to cry.

“Oh, Thank God,” Kelley said.” I thought it was my cooking.”

Ali looked up at Kelley and started to laugh, which made the rest of them laugh too. Ashlyn couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief that Ali was laughing in this moment. She had never seen anything so beautiful in her life.
Once everyone stopped laughing, the tension in the air seemed to be so much lighter.

Ashlyn spoke first. “How far along are you Ali?”

“I don’t know. I just found out a few days ago.”

Ashlyn stood up from Ali and looked at Kelley. “I need you to go get Abby for me please.” Kelley gave Ashlyn a salute and headed out.

“Why don’t we go get you settled in bed so you can rest a bit?” Ashlyn said.

Ali nodded. Heather and Ashlyn helped Ali to her room and helped get her settled in the bed.

“I have a doctor coming to the house soon and I will have them check you out if that’s ok. This will be off the records so this will not show in your medical file. I just want to make sure that you and the baby are ok and to be able to get you set up with whatever you will need during your pregnancy.

Ali gave a small smile in appreciation.

“You rest now, and I will bring Abby in here when she arrives.”

“Ok”
Heather and Ashlyn left the room together and Ashlyn closed the door softly.

“I am so worried about her Ashlyn. Please help her.”

“I will Heather. I will keep her safe and I will do everything in my power to help this girl. I can tell she has been through a lot, and from what she’s told us so far, I can only imagine how bad it got for her. Her husband is going to fight hard, but I promise I will fight even harder for her. Don’t worry Heather, no matter what happens, that man will never touch her again.”

Heather hugged Ashlyn as tears ran down her face. She was relieved and scared all at the same time. She hadn’t known Ali for long, but she already felt a special connection towards her and a need to protect her.

Chapter Text

Ali wasn’t sure how long she had been asleep when she had heard a knock on her door. The door slowly opened, and Ashlyn peaked her head in.

“Hi Ali. The doctor is here. Is it ok if she comes in to check you out?”

Ali nodded and sat up in the bed.

A tall blonde woman walked in towards Ali and held out her hand.

“Hi Ali. My name is Abby. Is it ok if I do a quick check up on you?”

“Yes.”

“I will leave you to it Abby. Let me know when you are done.” Ashlyn left the room to give them some privacy.

Heather and Ashlyn were sitting in the lounge when Abby came out to find them to let them know she had finished her assessment.

“How is she?” Heather asked.

“She’s resting right now. I am figuring she is about 6 or 7 weeks along in her pregnancy, but I won’t know for sure until I run the blood work.”

“Were you able to check her out for marks and scars?” Ashlyn asked.

“She let me check and I saw some bruising on her back and legs. I can tell she has had a broken wrist and it looks like she has had surgery on her leg. I didn’t ask her about any of the marks and she didn’t offer up any explanations.”

“That’s ok.” Ashlyn replied. “She has been through a lot in the past few days. We will give her some time to rest and get settled. She has a long fight ahead of her. I am not going to overwhelm her right now.”

“She’s resting right now, which is what she needs to be doing. I have a list of prenatal vitamins for you to get her. I will be back in a few days with the mobile ultrasound and we will take a look at how things are progressing. Call me if you need anything in the meantime.”

“Thanks Abs.” Ashlyn replied

Ashlyn walked Abby out and walked back into the living room with Heather.

“I should go check on her.” Ashlyn spoke softly.

“I will come with you.”

They headed to Ali’s bedroom and knocked quietly. There was no reply. Ashlyn opened the door softly and saw Ali sleeping peacefully in the bed.

They backed out of the room and headed for the kitchen.

“We will let her rest. I’ll bring her something to eat in a little while.” Ashlyn said.
***
About an hour later, Ashlyn brought a tray of food to Ali’s room. She opened the door slightly and saw Ali still sleeping. She quietly entered the room and placed the tray on the bedside table. She looked down at Ali and smiled softly at the brunette sleeping. Ashlyn didn’t really want to wake Ali up, but she knew she needed to get some food in this girl.

She leaned down and pushed some hair out of Ali’s face to try and wake her up gently. Ali sensed that someone was in the room and her first instinct was to fight. She started to thrash around, and Ashlyn grabbed her and held her as tight as she could so neither of them would get hurt.

“It’s ok Ali,” Ashlyn tried to sooth her. Ali slowly gaining her senses back. “I am not going to hurt you. It’s ok.” Ashlyn held Ali as she started to calm down. Ashlyn could feel her breathing return to normal. She started to loosen the hold she had on Ali and released her.

Ali was embarrassed.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered

“Hey, it’s ok.” Ashlyn said. “I should have known better then to wake you up. But I need to get you to eat something Ali.”

Ali realized that she was starving. She threw up her lunch, so the only food she really had was breakfast this morning which she was grateful had stayed down considering how nervous she had been about leaving Heather’s place to come to Orlando.
Ashlyn stood up from the bed and moved the tray to Ali’s lap.

“I brought you some soup and some crackers. Heather said they will help with the nausea. If there is something else you want to eat, I can go grab it for you.”

“This is great. Thank you.” Ali replied

“No problem. I will let you eat, and I will be back to check up on you in a bit.” Ashlyn went to leave the room.

“Ashlyn.” Ashlyn turned around and looked at Ali. “Thank you for helping me” Ali said with such conviction, that Ashlyn could feel it in her heart.

“You’re welcome Ali.” She gave Ali a heart felt smile that showed the single dimple she had on her left cheek. Seeing that dimple made Ali smile. Ashlyn turned and left the room.

***

The next morning Heather was getting ready to leave to head home. Ali was heart broken. She knew Heather couldn’t stay, but she couldn’t help but wish she was not leaving. Ali had grown fond of Heather and felt a connection with her. She felt safer with Heather there. She had gone through a similar situation so she could relate to how Ali was feeling. Ali felt safe staying with Ashlyn, but having Heather around, also gave her a sense of peace.

Ashlyn walked over to Heather and handed her a cell phone. “Use this phone to call Ali any time you want. It can’t be traced. I will give you a phone as well Ali, so you can call and talk to Heather anytime you want.” Ali smiled a little. It gave her a little relief to know she would still be able to talk to Heather anytime.

Heather walk over to Ali and gave her a big hug. “I will call you all the time. You are going to be so sick of me.” Ali laughed at her.

“I doubt that will ever be the case but try your best.” Ali challenged her.

“I will come visit you every chance I get. I will bring Christen whenever I can. I know that girl misses you already. All she talked about was you last night when I spoke to her.”

Ali giggled again. “I look forward to seeing her again.”

Heather let go of Ali and walked over to Ashlyn. “You take care of her Ashlyn. I know I am leaving her in good hands.”

“I won’t let you or her down Heather. I promise.”

Heather turned and got in her car and waved out the window as Ali and Ashlyn watched her drive away.

Chapter Text

Ali had been at Ashlyn place for a week now and Dr. Abby was stopping in today with the mobile ultrasound to check out the baby. Ali was extremely nervous. She had no idea what to expect, so her anxiety was quite high. Ashlyn could tell that Ali was getting nervous.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Ashlyn asked.

“Talk about what?”

“Whatever is making you so nervous.”

“Am I that obvious?”

“It’s my job to be able to read people Ali. We can talk about whatever is bothering you if you want.”

“I’m just a bit nervous about the ultrasound. Fear of the unknown I guess.” Ali offered.

“Ok. Anything I can do to help?”

“…” Ali looked at Ashlyn nervously

“What’s wrong?” Ashlyn replied softly

“Will you stay with me when the doctor comes?” Ali replied shyly.

Ashlyn gave Ali a small dimple filled smile.

“Of course I will stay Ali.”
“Thank you.” Ali smiled at Ashlyn

Dr Abby set up the machine in Ali’s room and asked Ali to get settled on her bed. Ashlyn sat on the bed next to Ali. Abby asked Ali if she could lift her shirt so Abby could apply the lube to her stomach. Ali slowly lifted her shirt a little shy about the small bump forming there. Ashlyn looked Ali in the eyes and gave her a small smile of encouragement. Abby applied the lube and started to move the wand over Ali’s tummy. Abby found what she was looking for on the screen. She turned the screen towards Ali so she could see. Ali could see movement on the screen, but couldn’t really make out what she was looking at.

“I know it’s kind of hard to tell right now what you are seeing, but that’s your baby.” Abby turned the volume up on the machine. A thumping noise filled the room. “And that’s your babies’ heartbeat.”

Ali starting crying. This was real. She was carrying a baby. She had mixed emotions right now. She was so happy and so scared all at once. Ashlyn reach over and grabbed her hand and wiped the tears from her face.

“Are you ok Ali?” Ashlyn asked softly, trying to gage Ali’s reaction.

“I can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe there is a person growing inside of me.”

“It’s real Ali. You are around 9 weeks now, and from what I can tell, things are looking really good and on point. Are you having any pains or discomfort?” Abby asked.

“No.” Ali replied, still in shock at what was happening.

“Ok. Let’s get you cleaned up and we will check on everything else while I am here.”

After the appointment, Ali decided to lay down and get some sleep. Being pregnant was exhausting for her. She fell asleep thinking about her baby.
About an hour after Ali went to lay down, Ashlyn heard screaming coming from her room. Ashlyn raced as fast as she could to get to Ali. She threw Ali’s door open and saw her thrashing wildly on the bed. She ran over to her picking her up and holding her tight, so she didn’t hurt herself. Ali was screaming about someone taking her baby. Ashlyn realized she was having a bad dream. Ashlyn tried to soothe Ali by telling her that she’s safe. After a few minutes, Ali started to calm down when she realized where she was. She started crying hard as Ashlyn held her close.

“He’s going to take my baby.” Ali finally said.

“No Ali, he won’t. I won’t let that happen, ok. I promise I will protect you and your baby. He will never even know about the baby. Ok. I promise you; I will keep you safe.”

Ali cried in Ashlyn’s arms until she cried herself back to sleep. Ashlyn laid Ali back on the bed after her breathing evened out and she got up and grabbed the chair along the wall moving it closer to Ali’s bedside. She sat down in the chair and watched Ali sleep until she fell asleep in the chair.
Ali woke up a few hours later and looked around the room. Even after being here for over a week, she still got confused about where she was. As she looked around, her eyes fell on the person sleeping in the chair beside her bed. She suddenly remembered Ashlyn holding her and calming her after the nightmare she had about her husband stealing her baby. She watched Ashlyn sleep and for the first time since she had come, she allowed herself to really look at Ashlyn. She was incredibly attractive. Her hair was dirty blonde and short. She wore it kind of messy, but stylish messy. Her hair always looked so good. She was wearing a tight tee shirt and jeans and Ali could tell she had an amazing physique under her clothes. Ali blushed a little thinking about Ashlyn naked. If she was being honest, it actually turned her on a little to think about her that way. She thought about Ashlyn’s gorgeous perfect hazel eyes and the dimple that made Ali feel warm inside. Ashlyn started to wake up as Ali was blatantly checking her out. Ali closed her eyes and pretended to still be sleeping.

Ashlyn woke up and stretched out her stiff muscles. She looked over to see Ali still sleeping. Ali looked peaceful right now and that made Ashlyn smile a little. Ashlyn wanted to reach out and brush a strand of Ali’s hair out of her face but thought it might wake the girl up. She sat there and stared at Ali taking in the brunette’s features. Ali was beautiful. Ashlyn knew she should not be looking at the brunette this way, but it was hard for her to turn away. She was definitely attracted to Ali, but she knew she would never act on that attraction. She could admire from afar. There was no harm in that. She watched as the brunette slowly started to wake up from her nap.
Ali could feel Ashlyn’s eyes on her, and she liked having the blonde watching over her. She was starting to feel safe around her, and Ashlyn was quickly earning her trust. She was starting to feel hungry, so she figured she would end the charade.

“Hey, how are you feeling?” Ashlyn asked Ali softly.

“Better. Did you sit in here while I slept?”

“Ya. I’m sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were ok, so I sat here for a bit and fell asleep. I didn’t mean to invade your space.”

“It’s ok, really. You must be sore from sleeping in that chair though.”

“It wasn’t too bad. I am hungry though. You? Can I make you something to eat?”

“I am hungry, but how about I make you dinner?” Ali asked. “I should be helping out around here to earn my keep.”

“That really isn’t necessary Ali. You are not in debt to me in any way. I hope you know that. “

“I do know that. But I really want to cook for you. Will you let me?”

“Are you a good cook?” Ashlyn asked jokingly.

“Better than you” Ali replied with sass.

Ashlyn laughed. “Alright Ali, show me what you got.”

Ashlyn had to admit; Ali was a really good cook. Ashlyn shoveled down the food that Ali had prepared, and Ali was so grateful that Ashlyn liked her cooking. It made her feel proud to contribute something, even though she knew it wasn’t an expectation.

“You can cook for me anytime Ali. That was amazing.”

Ali blushed. “Thank you”

Ashlyn had not been pressuring Ali into talking about things, but she knew she needed to try and get Ali talking soon so she could get the ball rolling if she was ever going to be able to help Ali take back her life. She decided to tread lightly and see if she could pull some information out of the brunette without pushing her too hard.

“Tell me about your life before you met your husband.” Ashlyn inquired.

Ali took a deep breath. She knew the questions were going to come eventually. She was grateful that Ashlyn had been patient up to this point and gave her some time to get settled and comfortable.

“I grew up in Virginia. Went to College in Penn State and graduated with a degree in communications. I wanted to be a professional soccer player when I grew up, but I was injured quite badly playing in college, that I had to give up on that dream. I moved to Washington DC after college and you know how things turned out after that.”

Ali didn’t give Ashlyn much, but it was a starting point. Ali didn’t mention her family, but she remembered Heather mentioning a brother when they spoke, so she decided to dig a little deeper and see if Ali would talk about her family.
“Do you want to talk about your family?” Ashlyn asked.

Ali sighed and looked down at her plate. “What do you want to know?”

“Whatever you feel comfortable telling me Ali.”

Ali looked up at Ashlyn and saw no judgement in her eyes. All she saw when she looked in Ashlyn’s eyes was compassion and understanding. She knew in that moment that Ashlyn would never hurt her.

“I haven’t spoken to my family since I got married. My husband told me that they didn’t want anything to do with me after we got married. They were upset with me for eloping and not telling them. I tried calling them after, but I could not get through to them. I think they blocked my number. I was devasted, and I felt abandoned. All I had left was James. I lost everyone else. I couldn’t even get through to my friends. Everyone abandoned me. I don’t even know where anyone is. My brother was living in Miami the last time I spoke to him. That’s where I was going when I left. I thought if anyone, he would be my best option for help” Tears slowly fell from Ali’s eyes. Ashlyn reached for Ali’s hand and held it softly.

“Do you want me to try and find your family Ali?”

“I don’t know. What if they don’t want to see me or reject me? I don’t know if I could handle that.”

“Do you think it’s possible that you may not have been able to contact them, because your husband made that possible? If he wanted to alienate you from everyone, do you think it’s possible that he made it look like they had turned their backs on you? Maybe some how making it impossible for you or them to call?”

“I really don’t know. I never considered it. I didn’t have a reason to at the time.”

“Let me try and find your family Ali. Let me see what happened. I can reach out to them for you. When I find them, you may not be able to see them right away, but I will do my best to make sure that you see them again, if that’s what you want.”

“Yes, I want to know. I need to know if my family abandoned me or if it was a lie. I don’t want to wonder what happened anymore. I need to know the truth Ashlyn.”

“Then I will find the truth for you Ali.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn spent the next couple of days trying to locate Ali’s family. She knew she had to be discreet. There was a very good chance that Ali’s husband was also looking for her family to try and find Ali. Ashlyn had sources around the world at her disposal that she could use to help her. Ashlyn started by contacting her best friend who happened to live in Miami. Ashlyn knew she wouldn’t be able to go to Miami herself to track down Ali’s brother, so who better to call then the person she trusted the most in the world.

Whitney called Ashlyn a couple days later and told Ashlyn that she was able to locate Ali’s brother Kyle in Miami. He lived alone with his dog and managed a successful hair salon downtown. Whitney had been keeping an eye on Kyle for a couple of days to see of she could tell if he was being followed. It didn’t look that way. She told Ashlyn she was going to try and make contact Kyle at his salon late in the afternoon. Ashlyn made it very clear that Whitney not mention Ali’s name. Give Kyle a note with clear instructions written on the note on how he can contact his sister. Whitney followed Ashlyn’s instructions and headed to her appointment at Kyle’s Salon.
Whitney was escorted to the salon chair by a female working the front desk.

“Kyle will be right with you.”

“Thanks.” Whitney replied.

Whitney looked around to try and gauge if anything seemed abnormal about the space. She was highly trained in spotting irregularities, and fortunately she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Kyle appeared from the back and walked over to Whitney.

“Well aren’t you just gorgeous girl” Kyle exclaimed. “I love your hair. It’s so long and voluptuous. What are you looking to have done honey?”

Whitney loved Kyle immediately. He was full of energy and seemed like a great guy. She immediately hoped that she would be able to help this brother and sister connect again.

“You know what, you are the expert, so I trust your judgement. Nothing to crazy though. I still want to leave here with long voluptuous hair.” Kyle laughed and told her to trust him. He knew exactly what to do.
An hour later, Whitney was admiring her knew hair style in the mirror. Kyle did a great job and she loved her hair. Kyle cleaned Whitney up and she got up out of the chair. Whitney reached into her pocket and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and handed to Kyle as a tip. She reached over and shook his hand and thanked him as she turned around and walked to the front to pay for her haircut. Kyle looked at the bill in his hand and noticed a white piece of paper sticking out. He pulled the paper out and read the note that Whitney had handed him with the money.

I am a friend of your sisters and I am trying to help her find you. She is safe, and if you want to talk to her, please meet me at Vice City Bean, 1657 N Miami at 7pm tonight. Destroy this note after you have read it.
Kyle couldn’t believe what he was reading. He was suddenly hit with a wave of emotions. He sat in his chair and thought about his sister. He missed her so much. She had just disappeared out of his life and he did everything he could think of to try and get her back. He couldn’t fight her husband. He was too powerful, and he managed to keep his sister away from him and the rest of his family. He knew from the beginning that he was bad news, but kept his mouth shut for fear of alienating his sister. He regretted that everyday after Ali disappeared. He thought if he had told her what he really thought of her boyfriend at the time, that maybe she wouldn’t have married him, and he wouldn’t have lost her. He was going to go to that coffee shop tonight and he was going to get his sister back.

Kyle walked towards the coffee shop to find Whitney. He had an uneasy feeling about what was happening. He didn’t like this cloak and dagger stuff and was scared for his baby sister. What was going on? Where was Ali? He needed answers and he spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what had happened.

Kyle reached the coffee shop and found Whitney right away sitting in the back corner. The place was pretty empty which eased Kyle’s anxiety a bit. Kyle sat down at the table and waited for Whitney to tell him what was going on.

“Hi Kyle. Thanks for coming. I know you must have a lot of questions, but I just need to know one thing from you right now before we go on.”

“Ok”

“Your sister wants to talk to you. Do you want to talk to her?”

Kyle started crying, “Yes” was all he could say.

Whitney smiled and grabbed Kyle’s hand and squeezed.

Whitney dialed the number and waited for the line to connect.

Ashlyn was waiting patiently for Whitney to call. She hadn’t told Ali that she had found her brother yet, just in case he didn’t want to talk to her. When the phone rang, Ashlyn picked it up.

“Hello” Ashlyn answered

“Hey, I have Kyle here. He wants to talk to his sister.”

“Ok. Let me talk to him.”

Whitney handed Kyle the phone.

“Hello” Kyle answered

“Hi Kyle, my name is Ashlyn Harris. I am a friend of your sisters. She has been through a pretty rough time, but I wanted to tell you that she is perfectly safe. I can’t tell you where she is right now as I am doing my best to make sure she stays that way. I have not told Ali that we found you, so she doesn’t know that she’s going to be speaking to you soon. I can’t tell you a lot right now Kyle, but please know that your sister is being well taken care of and that she misses you very much.”

Kyle is sobbing at this point and is trying hard to hold it together so he can talk to his sister. Whitney moves closer to him and wraps an arm around him to offer some support.

“I am going to go get Ali now Kyle. Do you have any questions for me before I put her on the phone?”

“No, please let me talk to her” Kyle replied.

“Okay, give me a minute.”

Ashlyn walked out of her office and down the hall to Ali’s room. She knocked lightly on the door and heard Ali tell her to come in. She opened the door and gave Ali a big smile. She handed the phone to Ali, “Someone wants to talk to you.”
Ali looked at Ashlyn questioningly and took the phone out of her hand. She looked at the number on the screen but that didn’t tell her who was on the other line.

“Hello” Ali said hesitantly.

“Alex? Is that you”

Ali looked at Ashlyn and broke down crying.

Chapter Text

Ali couldn’t speak. She knew it was her brother on the other end of the call, but she couldn’t talk. She completely fell apart. Ashlyn grabbed the phone from Ali.

“Hi Kyle, I’m sorry. She’s just going to need a minute.”

“Ok”

Ali motioned to get the phone back. Ashlyn handed it to her.

“Kyle. I can’t believe it’s you.”

“It’s me sweet girl, I promise.”

“I don’t even know what to say. I can’t believe I am talking to you right now.”

Ashlyn gestured to Ali, that she was going to leave the room to give her some privacy while she talked to her brother.

“Hold on for one second Kyle”

Ali got up from her bed and ran to Ashlyn throwing her arms around her neck. Ashlyn wrapped her arms around Ali’s mid section and held her tight for a second. Ali pulled back from the hugged and looked Ashlyn in the eyes.
“Thank you” she said softly.

“Anything to make you happy.” Ashlyn replied honestly. “Talk to your brother as long as you want ok. I will be in my office if you need anything.”

“Okay”

Ali ran back to the bed and grabbed the phone to continue her conversation with her brother.

Ashlyn left the room and closed the door to give them some privacy.

“I don’t even know where to begin Kyle. I still can’t believe that I am talking to you.”

“What’s going on Alex? Ashlyn told me that I can’t see you yet. Tell me what’s going on.”

“I made some bad choices Kyle. I let James completely take over my life and alienate me from everyone I loved. I believed everything he told me because at the time, I didn’t have a reason not to trust him. I thought I was in love with him and that he cared about my well being, but that wasn’t the case.”

“What did he do to you Alex?”

“He…I…” Ali started to cry.

“Alex, it’s ok, please don’t cry. We don’t have to talk about any of that right now. Let’s just talk. Doesn’t have to be about anything heavy. We haven’t talked in a very long time and I just want to hear your voice. Let’s talk about happier things, ok?” Kyle said trying to calm his sister down. He knew that if Ali wasn’t willing to talk about what happened, then it had to be really bad.

“Ok.” Ali said softly.

“Why don’t you tell me about Ashlyn? How did you two meet?”

Ali told Kyle about meeting Heather at the diner and how Heather helped get her to Ashlyn. She told him about everything Ashlyn was doing to help her and how she was keeping her safely hidden away from her husband.

“She sounds great Alex.”

“She is. I don’t even know where I would be right now without her in my life. She has helped me so much…especially with the pregnancy.”

“What…who’s pregnancy?”

“My pregnancy.”

“Your fucking pregnant? Jesus Alex. Holy shit! I can’t believe you are going to have a baby. I am so happy right now.” Kyle started to cry.

“I am pregnant. I am just over two months.”

“Are you happy?” Kyle asked cautiously.

“I was really scared when I first found out. I was still with James. I was scared to bring a baby into that environment, so that’s why I ran. Then I didn’t know how I was going to be able to take care of this baby without James finding me. I was so scared he would take my baby when he found out. I just wanted to protect my child, but had no clue what to do. Then Heather came along and convinced me to go with her, and now I am with Ash. Now I am excited about a future with my baby. I’m still scared, but an excited scared. I know that I am not in this alone and no matter what, Ashlyn and Heather with be here to help me.”

“I can’t wait to meet them both and hug them. I haven’t even met them yet and I am already so grateful for them.” Kyle said

“Me too”

 

An hour and a half later, Ali walked into Ashlyn’s office and handed her the cell phone back.

“This phone is for you to keep Ali. This is a direct line to your brother. I know it’s not really convenient having separate phone for him and Heather, but if one should become compromised, you will still have access to the other. My friend has given Kyle a phone for him to use to contact you anytime.”

“You have no idea what this means to me Ashlyn.” Ali spoke with such conviction, that Ashlyn could feel it in her soul.

“I can see it in you face Ali.”

“How am I ever going to repay you for what you have done for me?”

“You are going to live a happy life Ali. That’s how you are going to repay me. You are going to hold your head up high and be proud of the person you are becoming. You are going to survive and raise your baby to be a better person then his father. That’s all I will ever ask of you. You are not indebted to me in any way Ali. I promised to help you and that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Chapter Text

It’s been 3 months since Ali ran away from her abusive husband. She was still staying with Ashlyn and the two were becoming very close. Ashlyn was very protective of Ali and felt it her number one priority to help Ali get through the tough times ahead. She knew Ali’s husband was scouring the country looking for her. She had her spies out following the man’s every move. She knew that she needed to stay at lease one step ahead of this guy if she was going to keep Ali safe. Ali was getting bigger and had seen Dr Abby a few times for check ups to make sure everything was going well with the pregnancy.

Ali and Ashlyn were sitting on the couch watching some new show Ali found on Netflix, when she suddenly jumped for no reason. Ashlyn immediately started to panic.

“What’s wrong? Are you ok?”

“I..I think the baby just kicked. Holy shit, it just happened again.” Ali lifted her shirt so she could get a better look at her stomach.

Ashlyn watched her stomach and her eyes went huge when she saw Ali’s stomach move.

“Holy shit!” Ashlyn exclaimed.

Ali laughed at how big Ashlyn’s eyes got.

“Do you want to feel?” Ali asked

Ashlyn looked at Ali to make sure she was one hundred percent comfortable with her touching Ali’s stomach. Ali just smiled and nodded for Ashlyn to feel the baby kick. Ashlyn put her hand on Ali’s belly and felt the baby kick her hand. Ashlyn was awestruck. She almost felt like crying she was so emotional over being able to experience this. Ali put her hand on top of Ashlyn’s and held it there so Ashlyn wouldn’t pull her hand away. Ali felt comforted that Ashlyn was with her right now. She knew she would be raising this baby alone, but in this moment, she wanted to feel like she was experiencing it with her partner. She never wanted to let this moment end.
After a few minutes, the kicking stopped, and Ashlyn looked at Ali.

“He must have fallen asleep.” Ashlyn whispered.

“He?” Ali questioned.

Ashlyn smiled at her. “I think it’s a boy.”

Ali laughed. “What makes you think that?"

Ashlyn shrugged, “Just a hunch.”

“Well I think it’s a girl, and it’s growing inside of me, so I am pretty sure I am right.”

“There is one way to find out” Ashlyn said, referring to the ultrasound results sitting in her office with the sex of the baby listed. Abby left the file with Ashlyn, and Ashlyn promised Ali she would not look. Ali is starting to suspect that maybe she had.

“Did you look?”

“No. I promised you I wouldn’t. Have I ever broken a promise to you?”

“No, but you seem pretty confident that I am carrying a boy.”

“I told you, it’s just a hunch.”

“Ok. I believe you…”

Ashlyn looked Ali in the eye “I will never betray your trust Ali, even with something like this.”

“I know” Ali whispered, putting her head on Ashlyn’s shoulder, afraid that if she doesn’t break eye contact that she will pull the blonde in and kiss her. She has been having some pretty intense feelings about the blonde for the past month or so. She tries to play it off as pregnancy hormones, but she knows as time goes on, that she is starting to fall for Ashlyn. She’s not sure how Ashlyn feels towards her and doesn’t want to do anything to mess up her relationship with the blonde. She can’t imagine her life right now if she wasn’t in the picture. The blonde makes her feel safe, and protected and more confident about things, and she needs her in her life.

***

Heather and Christen are coming down for the weekend to visit Ali and Ashlyn and Ali is excited she gets to see her friend again. They talk on the phone almost every day, but she missed having Heather’s calming presence around her.

Ashlyn loves seeing Ali so excited. She has been coming out of her shell a lot more and she is starting to build up her confidence and appreciate life again. Ali was so broken when Heather brought her here, that Ashlyn was worried she might take a long time to heal from everything she had been through. But Ali was making great strides in trying to regain power over her own life. Ashlyn was proud of her and admired her strength so much. She knew Ali still had a long path ahead of her, but she was fighting hard and Ashlyn loved seeing her grow everyday into this beautiful amazing woman. She couldn’t understand how anybody would ever hurt this woman. It didn’t sit right with her. And she was going to make sure that man paid for hurting her.

Heather and Christen pulled up to the house around 4pm in the afternoon. Ali was so excited; she ran out the front door to greet them at the car. Heather got out of the car and wrapped Ali in her arms. She was so happy to finally see her friend after a long absence. Heather had tried to make more frequent trip out to see Ali, but with work and Christen’s school obligations, this was the soonest they could come visit.

“I am so happy you’re here Heather.” Ali cried into Heather’s shoulder.

“Me too honey. I missed you.” She pulled back from the hug and looked at Ali “You are getting so big girl. How are you feeling?”

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I feel like a whale, but other then that I have been feeling ok. I get tired pretty fast, but I manage.”

Heather laughed “It gets worse as they get bigger.”

“Can’t wait.” Ali rolled her eyes then laughed. Christen came around the car and Ali walked over to her and pulled her into a big hug. “I missed you too sweetie. How have you been?”

“I’m good. I miss having you around to help with homework though.”

Ali laughed. “I’ll bet you do sweetheart. Well anytime you need my help, you just give me a call.”

“Ok Miss Ali, I will.”

Ashlyn walked down the steps to greet the duo. Heather walked over to Ashlyn and hugged her tight.

“She looks good. You have been so good for her” Heather whispered in Ashlyn’s ear.

“She’s been working hard. She’s making my job easy.” Ashlyn replied.

Christen walked over to Ashlyn and jumped up into Ashlyn’s arms. Ashlyn held her up and swung her back and forth.

“I missed you so much kiddo.” Ashlyn told her.

“I missed you too Auntie Ash”

Ali stood back and watched Ashlyn interact with Christen. Ashlyn was so sweet and gentle with her, it made Ali weep watching the two interact.

Heather looked over to Ali and grabbed her hand. “Ashlyn is so sweet to my girl. It melts my heart to watch the two of them together.” Heather stated.

Ali nodded. She felt a lump in her throat and was scared to say anything for fear she would completely break down. Damn pregnancy hormones, Ali thought to herself.

Ashlyn looked over to see Ali with tears in her eyes and immediately grew concerned. She let Christen down and walked over to Ali. “Are you ok” she whispered to Ali. Ali just gave Ashlyn a big smile and a nod, still unable to use her voice.
Ashlyn grabbed Ali’s hand and led everyone inside.

***

They stayed up late after Christen had gone to bed and talked about how things were progressing with Ali’s divorce. The process was slow mostly because Ashlyn had to do most of her investigating on the downlow. Heather remembered how things seemed to be in limbo when she had to go through the process, but she trusted that in the end everything would work out which they did. They talked well into the night and Ali had fallen asleep on the couch. Ashlyn walked over and picked Ali up with ease and carried her to her room. Heather followed behind Ashlyn to offer her a hand putting Ali to bed. Ali had changed into sleep clothes earlier in the night, so they didn’t have to worry about getting her ready for bed. Heather walked in and pulled the covers back on the bed and Ashlyn lowered Ali to the mattress and pulled the covers over her. She watched her for a second to make sure she didn’t wake up. Heather and Ashlyn left Ali to sleep and went their separate ways to their own rooms.

During the night Ali started screaming in her sleep. Ashlyn ran to Ali’s room and grabbed the brunette and held her until she calmed down. Ali’s nightmares had become less frequent, but Ashlyn knew this one was because they had talked about Ali’s husband before going to bed. Ashlyn made a mental note to limit any conversations about Ali’s past to the daytime, well before Ali goes to sleep.

Ali finally calmed down and Ashlyn lowered her back down to the bed slowly. Ashlyn watched Ali for a minute waiting to see if she would wake up, but she didn’t. Ashlyn got up to leave and she felt Ali grab her hand. “Will you stay with me” Ali asked in a small voice. Ashlyn leaned down so she was face to face with Ali.

“Are you sure?”

Ali just nodded and Ashlyn walked to the other side of the bed and laid on top of the covers and waited for Ali to fall asleep again.

“What are you doing?”

Ashlyn panicked. Did Ali tell her to stay when she was sleeping and now she was awake and pissed that Ashlyn was in her bed?

“Uh…you asked me to stay with you, so I did.”

“Why are you on top of the covers?”

“I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable” Ashlyn replied.

“Get under the covers silly. You are going to be cold.” Ali laughed at how adorable Ashlyn was being.

Ashlyn got up and pulled the covers back and got back into bed.

“Will you hold me?” Ali asked her

Ali felt safe in Ashlyn’s arms. Her nightmare had made her feel uneasy and she needed to feel Ashlyn’s strength wrapped around her right now.

Ashlyn moved closer to Ali and held her from behind. Ali melted into Ashlyn and grabbed her hand to hold over her belly. Ali needed to know her baby was safe, and she knew Ashlyn would never let anything happen to her or the baby. She was content right now. Everything was somehow perfect. Even though she was not in a relationship with Ashlyn, she had strong feelings for her, and she just needed her to be close to her right now. She didn’t know how Ashlyn felt about her, but right at this moment she didn’t care. Everything she needed in her life was in this bed and she was going to hold onto it for as long as she possibly could.

Chapter Text

Ashlyn woke up first the next morning. She was still holding Ali from behind and she couldn’t help but feel content in this moment. She was in love with Ali. She was sure of it and that scared her. Not only was Ali getting a divorce from a man who abused her for years, she was her attorney and the one who should be looking out for her best interests. She felt torn in this moment. She wanted Ali, but she knew she would never be able to bring herself to act on those feelings. Ali trusted her and the last thing she needed was for Ashlyn to confess her feelings and put Ali in an awkward position. She was grateful Ali was in her life and that Ali trusted her enough to let her get close to her like this and that would have to be enough for Ashlyn.
Ashlyn could feel Ali starting to move and she knew she was waking up. Ali rolled over in Ashlyn’s arms and stared at the woman holding her. Ali smiled at Ashlyn and Ashlyn felt like her heart stopped. She needed to get up or she would end up doing something she would regret.

“I should go make breakfast.” Ashlyn said softly.

“No. Your warm. I don’t want you to go.”

Ashlyn laughed. “Did you sleep ok?”
“I slept fine after my nightmare. I liked having you here. You make me feel safe.” Ali gave Ashlyn a small smile.

“Happy to help” Ashlyn replied. “And as much as I would love to stay here and keep you warm, I need to get some food ready so I can feed you and this little monkey” Ashlyn put her hand on Ali’s belly.

Ashlyn felt a small kick against her hand.

“He must have heard me.” Ashlyn smiled.

“She” Ali replied.

“We will see” Ashlyn laughed and went to get up. Ali grabbed her hand before she was able to get away.

“Thanks for staying with me last night Ashlyn. It meant a lot to me.” Ashlyn smiled at Ali.

“Anytime Ali.” She got out of bed and went to go get breakfast ready.

***

Ali was having some pretty intense ice cream cravings, so Ashlyn offered to go get some and took Christen with her.

“You and Ashlyn seem to be getting along really well” Heather tread lightly. She could tell that the two were becoming close, but she felt like there was more going on. She could see it in both of their eyes.

“She’s been great Heather. She’s so caring and attentive. It took me a bit to warm up to her for obvious reasons, but once I let her in, she has been nothing but great.” Ali looked down at her hands and smiled.

Heather could tell there was more going on then what Ali was telling her.

“You seem so much happier than the last time I saw you. I’m glad she is having that affect on you. She has that affect on me as well. She made me feel safe and human again. She was the perfect person to come along and rescue me. It looks like she is taking really good care of you, which I knew she would.” Heather smiled.

“She’s perfect.” Ali whispered

Heather raised an eyebrow at Ali when Ali looked up at her.

“Perfect hey?” Heather laughed.

Ali blushed and smiled.

“I think I am falling in love with her Heather.” Ali said quietly

“I know. I can see it all over your face. That girl walks in a room and you light up”

“Ya, but what do I do Heather? I can’t tell her. I need her in my life. I can’t risk telling her and having things change between us. She is the reason I feel like I can make it through all this. She gives me hope and I need that right now. I can’t risk losing her.” Ali confessed

“Oh Ali, you and I both know that Ashlyn is as loyal as they come. Do you honestly think that she is going to kick you out of here because you have feelings for her? Do you think it’s possible she feels the same way?”
“Why would someone like her want a broken insecure mess like me?” Ali asked Heather with tears in her eyes.
“You are not a mess Ali. You have been through some intense shit in your life, but that does not make you less of a person. You escaped and are trying to make yourself better, and everyday you will build yourself back up and you will become the strong bad ass I know you are. Don’t sell yourself short Ali. You deserve to be happy and I really hope you do what you need to do to make that happen.”

“How do I know that these feelings are real? How do I know they aren’t just intense feelings of gratitude mixed with pregnancy hormones?”

“Do you feel gratitude towards me for helping you?”

“Yes, of course I do” Ali replied.

“Are you falling in love with me?”

Ali laughed. “No”

“Then what makes you think that these feelings aren’t real? Ashlyn is a catch. She’s gorgeous, loyal, smart, funny, and one of the most caring people I know. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her?”

“Don't forget, she has a smokin’ body” They both laughed.

“Ya. There’s that too. The point is Ali, you need to make the first move. If Ashlyn has feelings for you, which I am sure she does, she will never act on them. She would never put you in that position. She knows you have been through a lot and would never cross that line with you, even if she felt the same way.”

“I know. I just need time to sort out my thoughts. Find the right moment to tell her. I need to work on building my confidence a little more, so I can be the person she needs me to be. I need to start working on fixing the broken pieces of my life so I can take care of her the way she deserves.”

“That’s smart Ali. Take the time to work on yourself. I can tell you love her very much that you want to build yourself up for her.”

“She deserves the best of me Heather and I will work hard to give that to her.”

Heather leans over and hugs Ali.

“I know you will sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn sat in her office at home and thought about what she would do for Ali’s upcoming birthday. She had two weeks to come up with something but was struggling to figure out the perfect way to celebrate. A thought popped into her head. Ashlyn smiled. If she was going to make this work, she was going to need a lot of help. She picked up her phone and dialed the one person she knew could pull this off.

As Ali’s birthday quickly approached, Ashlyn was finalizing some of the details to make sure she gave Ali the perfect day. She walked out of her office and found Ali sitting at the kitchen island staring off at nothing. Ashlyn could tell she was in deep thought.
She walked up to Ali, “Are you ok?”

 

Ali snapped out of her daydream. “Ya, I’m good.”

“You seemed to be in deep thought there a minute ago.”

“I was just thinking about my birthday.”

“Oh ya. That’s coming up soon. We should probably do something that day. What were you thinking about?”

“Nothing really. I was just trying to remember the last time I actually celebrated my birthday. I can’t remember the last time I had a party or a birthday cake or even just a special moment that was about me.”

“Well, maybe this year I could take you someplace special for your birthday. We can celebrate you the way you should be celebrated.” Ashlyn smiled at her.

Ali gave Ashlyn a tight lipped smile in return. “You don’t need to do anything for my birthday Ashlyn. We can just stay here and hang out. I promise you, that will be a lot better then the past few birthdays I have had.” Ali got up from the island and started to walk towards her bedroom. “I am going to have a shower.”

Ashlyn was determined to make this birthday the best one Ali has ever had.

***

Ali’s birthday finally arrived. Ashlyn got up early so she could prepare breakfast in bed for Ali. She knocked lightly on Ali’s door and opened it to find Ali still asleep.
“Wake up birthday girl.” Ashlyn spoke softly so she didn’t scare Ali.

“Hmmm. What are you doing Ash?”

“I made you breakfast. You need to wake up so I can start properly spoiling you.”

Ali sat up in bed and smiled a big nose crinkling grin as Ashlyn put the tray down in front of Ali.

“Thanks Ashlyn. This looks amazing.”

Ashlyn smiled at Ali, “You are very welcome. Eat up then get ready. We have a big day of celebrating today.”

“What are we doing today?”

“All will be revealed soon. Just eat your breakfast and come find me when you are up and ready. Dress comfy.”

Ali looked at Ashlyn with a bit of skepticism. She knew Ashlyn was up to something, but she couldn’t figure out what. She seemed really excited about it, so she just went with it.

About an hour later, Ali joined Ashlyn in the living room.

“Is this ok? I wasn’t exactly sure where we were going, and the only direction you gave me was to dress comfy.”

“You look great. Grab your jacket. We are heading out.” Ashlyn said.

“What? Really? You are taking me out of the house?” Ali looked nervous

“Of course, birthday girl.” Ashlyn grabbed Ali’s hands. “I know I said that staying in the house was the safest option for you as you would be less likely to be detected, but I promise you Ali, I took every precaution to make sure you will be safe. Nothing is going to ruin this day for you, I promise.”

“Thank you so much Ashlyn” Ali whispered.

Ashlyn leaned in and kissed Ali’s forehead. “Anything for the birthday girl.”

Ali was frozen. That kiss was everything. Even though it was a little peck on her forehead, It may as well have been a passionate kiss on her lips. She had never felt like this before. Not even for her husband. That kiss lit a fire inside of Ali. Ashlyn grabbed Ali’s hand and lead her out to the garage.

Ashlyn helped Ali into the Range Rover which had the windows blacked out. This vehicle was perfect for transporting people who didn’t want to be detected. Kelley was waiting in a vehicle close to the gates with 2 other women on Ashlyn’s security team.

“Where are we going?” Ali asked.

“It’s a surprise. All will be revealed soon, I promise.”

Ali reached over and grabbed Ashlyn’s hand and held it for the whole ride to the mystery destination.

Ashlyn pulled the vehicle up to their destination and Kelley pulled up behind them. Ali looked at the building and could tell it was a spa.

“Perfect” she thought to herself. She could use a massage.

“Wait here for a minute. Put these on and I will be right back” Ashlyn handed Ali a hat and some sunglasses.

Kelley and her team walked inside the shop while Ashlyn waited for them to come out.

Once Kelley came out and gave Ashlyn the nod, Ashlyn went to the car to get Ali. She opened the car door and helped Ali out of the vehicle. They quickly walked inside the building.

Once inside, Ashlyn escorted Ali to the reception desk.

“Ah Ms Harris, it is so nice to see you again. Ms Krieger, it’s so nice of you to join us today to celebrate your birthday.”

“Thank you” Ali replied.

“I can assure you Ms Krieger, we take our clients privacy very seriously here, so you can feel completely safe in knowing that the only people who know you are here are the people Ms Harris has told. Our staff are very discreet, I can assure you. Please let me take your hat and sunglasses for you as well as your coat and we can get started.”

Ali handed over the items. An older woman came out from the back and escorted Ali to the back. Ali turned to see that Ashlyn was not following.

“Are you not coming?” She asked Ashlyn.

Ashlyn walked up to Ali and put her hand on her cheek and looked her in the eye. “This day is about you Ali. They are going to take you in the back and spoil you the way you deserve. Anything you want, just tell them and it’s yours. I am going to wait right here for you. I won’t leave this building. I promise.”

“Okay” Ali said. “Thank you.”

“Your welcome. Let them treat you like a princess. I will be right here when you get out.”

After a few hours of Ali being properly spoiled, Ashlyn took Ali back to the house.

Once inside, Ashlyn asked Ali if she wanted to have a nap. She could tell how relaxed Ali was and knew she would probably need a nap if she was properly going to enjoy phase 2 of her surprise.

“Ya. I could definitely use a nap right now. Thank you so much for today Ash. It really meant a lot to me.

“You’re welcome Ali.” She escorted Ali to her room and helped her into bed. Ashlyn knew that Ali usually napped about 2 hours in the afternoon, so she knew that time was limited, and she needed to get going on her next surprise. She had left some helpers to get things set up while she took Ali to the spa, so she went to go check on their progress after she left Ali’s room.

***

About two hours later, Ali awoke from her nap. She was still feeling the relaxing affects of her spa day. She stretched out her limbs and made her way out of bed and into the bathroom. When she opened the door of the bathroom, she noticed a box sitting on the counter. She saw a card on top and grabbed it to read it.

Ali,
Put this on when you get up and join me in the living room.
Ash.

Ali broke out into a huge smile. No one had ever gone through such efforts for her birthday before. She had never felt so special before. Ali excitedly opened the box and pulled out the most amazing dress she had ever seen. It was long, black and sleek. She frowned a bit when she thought how she might look huge in this dress because of her belly, but she knew Ashlyn had gone through a lot of trouble to get this dress for her, so she would wear it no matter how fat she felt.

She was wrong. When she put on the dress, she felt amazing. Even with her baby bump, she had to admit the dress looked perfect on her. She put on the shoes that Ashlyn had also put in the box. They were a low heel strap shoe which was perfect for someone who was almost 8 months pregnant.

Ali put on some makeup and when she felt like she had perfected her look, she went to join Ashlyn in the living room excited to see what she had planned.

When Ali arrived in the living room, her jaw dropped. Ashlyn was wearing a black fitted tux and she looked absolutely perfect. Ali couldn’t believe how beautiful Ashlyn was in this moment. She almost started to cry when she saw her, she looked that good.
Ashlyn was having a similar reaction. When Ali walked into the room all the air had been sucked from Ashlyn’s lungs. She had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Ali was perfect. She had always thought Ali was beautiful, but this was a whole other level. She couldn’t take her eyes off her. She slowly walked over to Ali and grabbed both of her hands.

“You are so beautiful Ali.” She spoke softly.

Ali blushed under the intense way that Ashlyn was looking at her. No one had ever looked at Ali like that before. Not even her husband.

Ashlyn leaned in and kissed Ali on her cheek. “Happy birthday Beautiful.”

“Thank you, Ash. You look amazing.”

Ashlyn smiled at Ali. “I thought we could dine out on the back patio tonight under the stars and why not do it in style.” She chuckled lightly.

Ali smiled at Ashlyn.

“Shall we?” Ashlyn held her arm out for Ali to take so she could escort her to the backyard.

Ali took Ashlyn’s arm and followed her to the yard.

Once at the backdoor, Ash turned to Ali. “Are you ready?”

“So ready” Ali said.

Ashlyn opened the door and let Ali walk out first.

“SURPRISE!”

“Oh My God!” Ali started crying.

The backyard was full of the people who have quickly found a way into her heart the past few months. Heather and Christen were there, with Kelley and her security crew consisting of Megan, Julie, Sydney and Hope. They were all dressed so fancy. Ali had never felt more special in her life. This day was perfect.

Heather walked over to Ali and gave her a great big hug.

“Happy birthday honey” Heather said.

“Oh my god you guys, this is so perfect. I can’t believe you guys did this for me.”

“Of course we did Ali. You are so special to all of us. We are so grateful you are here.” Kelley said

A blonde woman that Ali had never seen before walked up to Ali and put her hand out.

“Hi Ali. I’m Whitney. Ash’s best friend. It’s so great to finally meet you.”

Ali started to cry, “Are you the Whitney that found my brother?”

“I am”

Ali threw herself at Whitney and gave her the biggest hug. She didn’t know this woman, but she was so grateful to her for bringing her brother back into her life.

“Thank you” Ali whispered.

Whitney pulled back from the hug.

“You're so welcome Ali.”

“How is Kyle? I talk to him all the time, but I haven’t seen him. Is he really doing ok?”

“Why don’t you see for yourself” Whitney gestured for Ali to turn around.

“Happy birthday Princess”

Chapter Text

Ali knew who it was before she even turned around. She slowly turned around. She was worried if she turned to fast that she would wake from this incredible dream. When she turned and saw his face it moved her into action. She ran and hugged her brother for the first time in 7 years. She couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to. Know matter what happened from this day forward, her life was complete just having her brother hold her again.

She was at a complete loss for words. She had so much she wanted to say, but the words would not come. She just cried as Kyle held her and cried with her.

Ashlyn stood back to let the siblings have this moment. She knew this was going to be a lot for Ali. She also knew how much Ali needed this. To know that there were so many people rooting for her, especially her family. She wasn’t able to get Ali her parents yet because it was too risky having too many people know what was going on. Ashlyn needed to keep the circle small to maintain better control of Ali’s safety, but she did bring her the most important part of her family and that would have to do for now until Ashlyn could sort out the rest.

Kyle held his baby sister for as long as he could. He had dreamed of this moment for so long and now that it was here, he never wanted to let go.

“I can’t believe you are here” Ali whispered.

“I’m here princess. I promise to never let you go again.”

Ali cried even harder. Kyle loosened his grip on his sister so he could get a better look at her. He needed to look into her eyes and see that she was real. Only then would he believe this was happening.

“You are just as gorgeous as ever Alex. Time has not changed that.”

“And you are just as handsome and charming as you always were. I missed you so much Kyle. I still can not believe you are standing here right now. I honestly didn’t think this moment would ever happen.”

“Well you have a certain bad ass lawyer to thank for that.” Kyle gestured towards Ashlyn.

Ali turned towards Ashlyn and ran to her and crushed her in an all-consuming hug. Ali felt so much for this woman, but the fact that she made this happen, just made her love her that much more.

“How did you do this? I thought you said it was too risky to let me see him” Ali inquired.

“Let’s just say, we had to get a bit creative.” Ashlyn and Kyle chuckled. “The important thing is that he is here and ready to celebrate your birthday with you.”

Ali leaned up and kissed Ashlyn on the cheek. “Thank you, Ash. You have no idea how much this means to me. This is perfect. You are perfect.”

Ashlyn blushed and gave Ali one more hug before letting her go and enjoy her night with her brother and their friends.

***

“This really meant a lot to her Ash.” Heather said as she walked up to Ashlyn.

“I love seeing her this happy Heather. She deserves the world. I am just happy to be able to give her a small piece of it.”

“You make her very happy you know.” Heather stated.

“Feeling is mutual.”

“I can tell.” Heather replied looking Ashlyn in the eyes. “I can see how much you care for her.”

Ashlyn looked down at her shoes afraid that if she looks Heather in her eyes it will give away her true feeling for Ali.

“You can hide all you want Ash. I can see it in your face. I can see the love you have for her every time you look at her. You can try and deny it all you want, but you can’t pretend with me. You and I both know, I can read you like a book.” Heather teased.

Ashlyn sighed. “Doesn’t matter how I feel Heather. You and I both know we can’t be together.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Even if Ali felt the same way as me, she is going through this major life change and needs to focus on herself right now. She doesn’t need me confessing my feelings for her to add to the growing list of obstacles that she will be facing in the upcoming months and years. I am here to help her get her life back and protect her from that monster, not throw another log on the fire for her to struggle with. I won’t do that to her Heather. I am trying to make things as easy as possible for her, not complicate things even more.”

“You are such an idiot sometimes.” Heather said truthfully.

Ashlyn looked at her like she had just slapped her in the face.

“You listen to me Ashlyn Harris. Ali deserves every happiness in the world, but so do you. Why do you feel like you have to keep her at arms length for her to be happy? Do you not think that maybe if you allowed her in more, that you both could be happy together? Why do you have to make things so complicated Ash? Stop fucking overthinking things all the time and just let it be. Don’t push her away Ash. I guarantee you will regret it.” Heather walked away leaving Ash to think about what she just said.

Ash stood there, not really sure what to do at that moment. She looked over at Ali and watched her laugh at something that Megan just said. Ash knew at that moment that she was completely in love with Ali and she wanted to be with her. The question now what was she going to do about it.

***

As the night progressed and the party started to wind down, Ali found herself feeling a little exhausted. Ashlyn could tell that Ali was getting tired. She walked over to her and whispered in her ear.

“Say the word and I will kick everyone out.”

Ali smiled at Ash. “It’s ok Ash. I kind of never want this night to end.”

“I know Ali , but I can tell you are getting tired. It’s getting time to put you and the little prince to bed” Ash puts her had lightly on Ali’s stomach and smiles at her.

“Just 10 more minutes?” Ali asked as she put her hand over Ash’s on her belly.

“Anything you want.” Ash said and removed her hand from Ali’s belly.

Ali couldn’t put her finger on it, but she felt like something was different about Ashlyn in that moment. She didn’t think too much about it as she really wanted to enjoy that last few minutes of her day.

***

After everyone had left Ashlyn escorted Ali to her room. When they got to the door Ali turned around and hugged Ashlyn. Ashlyn held her tight and ran her hand up and down Ali’s back.

“I hope you enjoyed your birthday Ali.”

Ali pulled back and looked into Ashlyn’s eyes. “This has been one of the best days of my life.” She leaned and kissed Ashlyn lightly on her lips. “Thank you.” She whispered against Ashlyn’s lips.

Ashlyn could breathe. It hadn’t been much of a kiss, but it was everything. Ashlyn just nodded and released Ali unsure of what to do next. Ali released her hold on Ashlyn and turned to head into her room. Ali was a little dizzy from the kiss she gave Ash and felt like she needed to sit down. She said good night to Ashlyn and closed the door softly and sat on her bed.

The day had been perfect. Her night had been perfect. And that kiss had been incredibly perfect. She touched her fingers to her lips trying to lock in the memory of Ashlyn’s lips on hers.

***

Ashlyn stood outside Ali’s door using every ounce of will power not to break down the door, taking Ali in her arms and making love to her all night. Ash took a couple of deep breaths and turned on her heel to go to her room for the night. She heard someone clear their throat and she looked over to where the sound came from. She saw Kyle standing there watching her. She suddenly panicked a little hoping Kyle didn’t think she was some sort of creeper standing outside his sister’s bedroom. Kyle walked towards Ashlyn and pulled her into a tight hug.

“Thank you for bringing her back to me. Thank you for helping her and taking care of her. You have no idea how much it means to me that she has you looking out for her.”

“I will always look out for her Kyle. She is important to me, and I want what’s best for her.” Ash replied.

“How important is she you to you?” Kyle asked pulling back from the embrace to look Ashlyn in the face.

“What do you mean?” Ash asked

“Look, I don’t know a lot about you so I’m not going to try and guess what you are thinking or feeling towards my sister. But I do know Alex and even though I haven’t seen her in a while, I can still read that girl like a book. I can tell she has strong feelings for you. The extent of those feelings, I have not quite figured out, but I can tell that it’s more then just friendship she feels. I love my sister with everything in me Ashlyn and I can’t bare to see her get hurt again. I don’t feel like you will hurt her, but I feel like I need to protect her more then ever now. What I am trying to say, is that I’m pretty sure Alex is in love with you and if that is the case, I need to know if you are going to be there for her after everything in her life gets sorted out. I know I have no right to ask this of you, but I am scared for her Ashly. I am so scared I will lose her again, and I don’t think I will be able to handle that again.” Kyle broke down in Ashlyn’s arms.

“I won’t hurt her Kyle. I promise you. I can’t tell you what is going to happen with Ali and I going forward, but please believe me when I say that I will always be there for her. I won’t ever hurt her. I will do whatever is humanly possible to make sure that she has the best life going forward. I can’t tell you what that means right now as everything is so up in the air, but I do promise, that your sister will never have to go through anything like she has again.”

Kyle pulled back from Ashlyn and looked into her eyes. He knew she was telling the truth.

“You’re in love with her, aren’t you?” Kyle asked.

Ashlyn looked down at her shoes and back up into Kyle’s eyes. “Yes, I am.” She said softly.

“I can tell.” Kyle said with a smile.

Ashlyn smiled back “Apparently you aren’t the only one.” She chuckled.

***

Ashlyn suddenly rushed out of bed when she heard Ali screaming. She ran as fast as she could to Ali’s room. She threw open the door and saw Ali thrashing about like she had so many other nights. Ashlyn threw her arms around Ali and held her like she had every other time. This was a bad one. Usually Ali stared to calm down as soon as Ashlyn’s arms were around Ali, but Ali was still flailing around. Ash held her as tight as she could without hurting her.

“It’s ok Ali, you are safe. No one is going to hurt you. I’ve got you.” She ran her hands up Ali back trying to soothe Ali.

She could feel Ali start to calm a bit. “He’s going to take you away from me.”

This was new. Usually Ali dreamt about the baby being taken away.

“No one is taking me away from you Ali.” Ash soothed.

“He knows I’m in love with you.” Ali said incoherently.

Ashlyn wasn’t sure she heard her correctly.

“Ali…are you awake?”

“…”

Ashlyn wasn’t sure if Ali said what she thought she heard, but she wasn’t going to push it. It felt like Ali had fallen back to sleep, so Ashlyn laid her back down and tucked her back in.

She walked back to her bedroom a little shaken. She didn’t know what to think. Did Ali confess her love, or did Ashlyn just imagine it? She laid in bed staring at the ceiling thinking until she eventually fell back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Ali woke up the next morning feeling a little more tired then usual. She usually felt this way when she had a nightmare during the night. She didn’t remember having one, which happened sometimes. Ash would usually tell her the next day if she had gotten up with her in the night.

Ali made her way to the kitchen and was surprised that Ashlyn wasn’t up yet. She always got up early. Ali was a little concerned but figured maybe she stayed up later after Ali went to bed. Ali decided to make breakfast since she never got the chance to do it. Ashlyn always made breakfast for them.

Ashlyn rolled over in bed and looked at the alarm clock. She figured that she had probably only got about 3 hours of sleep that night, but she needed to get up and make breakfast for Ali, Kyle and Heather. She rolled out of bed and made her way into the kitchen.

Ashlyn could hear someone fumbling around in the kitchen. When she walked in, she saw Ali standing by the stove cooking something in a frying pan.

Ali heard someone walk into the kitchen and turned to see Ashlyn walking in. Her hair was a mess and she looked pretty run down.

“Rough night?” Ali teased.

Ashlyn smiled at her and went to grab a coffee and let Ali finish cooking breakfast.

“Are you ok this morning?” Ash asked

“I’m good. A bit tired, but not too bad. You look like you’ve seen better days. Did you stay up late last night?”

“Uh…not exactly.” Ash said

Ali turned and looked at her and immediately felt guilty.

“I had a nightmare last night, didn’t I?” Ali asked

“Ya. Seemed like a pretty intense one.”

“I’m sorry Ash. I hate it when I wake you up like that.” Ali felt bad that she was the reason that Ash looked so rundown this morning.

Ashlyn walked over to Ali and looked her in the eye. “It’s ok Ali. You never need to feel bad about needing me, even if it’s the middle of the night. I will always be there when you need me.”

Ali wanted so badly to grab Ashlyn by the shirt and pull her into a kiss, but she didn’t feel like now was the right time. For one thing Kyle and Heather could walk in at any minute.

“Thanks Ash.” Ali said quietly.

Ash smiled at her and went back to drink her coffee.

Ali went back to cooking breakfast for the house.

***

After breakfast, Heather left the group to head home. Kyle was staying for a few days. Ali was grateful she was getting this time with him and knew that Ashlyn had pulled some major strings to get him here. Ali understood the risk, but she knew that Ashlyn would have covered every detail to ensure her safety.

Ashlyn decided to head to her office in the city today to give the siblings some alone time together. She knew that they had a lot to catch up on even though they talked on the phone multiple times a day.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are here Kyle” Ali looked over to Kyle sitting on the lounger chair next to her by the pool.

“I’m so happy I’m here too Alex. It feels surreal seeing you in person. And seeing you so pregnant.” Kyle laughed.

“Ya. I still can’t believe I am going to have a baby. It still doesn’t feel real. But then the baby kicks, and then it definitely feels real.” Ali joked.

“I can’t believe you are going to wait until the baby is born to find out the sex. It’s killing me Alex.”

“This is always how I imagined I would do it. Find out in the delivery room. I kind of like the idea of it being a surprise. Ash is convinced it’s a boy. I am leaning more towards a girl, but to be honest, I really don’t know.”

“Ashlyn seems to be treating you really well.” Kyle decided to just jump right in and see if he could get his sister to admit to him that she had feeling for Ashlyn.

Ali knew what he was doing but decided to play along.

“Ya, she’s been great.”

“Great, huh?”

“Yep” Ali replied.

“That’s it, That’s all your going to give me?”

“Yep” Ali laughed at Kyle’s reaction.

“Ugh…you suck.” Kyle rolled his eyes.

“What do you want from me Kyle? I agree, she treats me really well. What more do you want?”

“Honestly Alex” Kyle replied, “I think you might have feeling towards her. Stronger than just friend feelings. I may not have been around you for awhile now Alex, but I know when you have a crush. You have a tell, and that tell comes out a lot when you are around Ashlyn.”

“Oh ya. What’s this so called “tell” that I have?” Ali asked.

“I’m not going to tell you Alex, until you admit you have feelings for Ash.”

“Of course I have feeling for her. She is helping me get through the hardest thing I have ever gone through. She’s a great friend.”

“Friend?” Kyle looked at his sister inquisitively.

“Yes, friend. She’s been a great friend.”

“Look, Alex, I am not trying to push you or force anything you may not be ready to face, but I know you. I know you better then I know myself. I see the way you look at her. That’s not how people look at friends Alex. I’m not saying you need to jump into anything with Ash, I am just want you to know that if you do have feeling for her it’s ok.”

Ali looked down at her hands and sighed. “I do have feeling for her Kyle. I’m pretty sure I am in love with her.”

“I know you are Alex. I can see it when you look at her. It’s okay to have these feelings. You have had to suppress your feeling for so long, I think that it’s now becoming your new normal. But you don’t have to do that Alex. You are free to do whatever you want. You are free to love whoever you want. Don’t hold yourself back anymore.”

“I want to tell her, but I’m not ready Kyle. I need her in my life. I can’t risk losing her. There is so much going on right now, I just feel like I need some time to get my own life sorted out before I bring someone into my mess. If it happens with her, I want to be able to give her all of me. I don’t want to hold anything back, but I can’t give that to her just yet. I want a future with her that doesn’t involve her being my superhero and me clawing my way out of the hole I made of my life.”

“You will get out of that hole Alex, and I know Ash will be waiting at the top of it when you do. Just promise not to push her away. Just let things happen as they happen. I don’t want you to miss out on something incredible because you are too focused on protecting her from the so-called mess you call your life. You have a lot to offer someone Alex. Don’t sell yourself short. Ok?”

“Ok.” Ali whispered.

“I love you Alex. And I want nothing more than to see you happy”

“Thanks Ky. I love you too.”

Chapter Text

After Kyle left, Ashlyn and Ali returned to their regular routines. It was hard for Ali to say goodbye to her brother, but she was so grateful that she was able to see him, and she was even more grateful for Ashlyn making it happen.

Ali had been spending her time getting things ready in the nursery. Ashlyn had the room painted and Ali was decorating it. Ash helped put the furniture together when she had time, but Ali was doing the majority of the work.

Ali decided to cook a special dinner for Ashlyn to show her appreciation for everything the blonde had done for her. Ashlyn had been working late the past few days and was usually exhausted by the time she got home. Ashlyn never talked about her work and Ali never asked. Ali liked being in this bubble where she could pretend that the outside world didn’t exist. She could pretend that she was living a happy life with a partner that she loved with their baby only a few weeks away from being born. It made her happy pretending that this was her life, so she never asked about anything happening outside these walls. She was scared the bubble would burst if she asked questions.

Just as Ali was finishing up the meal she prepared for Ashlyn, she heard Ashlyn walk in the house. Ashlyn walked into the kitchen and saw Ali putting some food on the plates. She noticed that the dining room table had been set and the candles were lit. Ashlyn smiled when she saw Ali and couldn’t think of anything more perfect to come home to.

“What’s going on in here?” Ashlyn teased.

“I made you dinner.”

“I see that. What’s the occasion?” Ashlyn asked.

“No occasion, I just wanted to do something special for you.”

“Well it looks and smells amazing. You didn’t need to go to any trouble. You should really be resting Ali.” Ash said.

“It really was no trouble. You have been working late the past few nights and coming home exhausted, I figured I would make dinner so you could come home and relax. Not a big deal, really.”

“Thanks Ali. It’s a really nice surprise.”

“Go sit down and I’ll bring you your food.” Ali smiled at Ashlyn.

Ash did what she was told and sat at the table waiting for Ali to bring the food over.

They made light conversation over dinner and after they were done eating, Ash offered to clean up, but Ali told her to go get changed and to just relax. She would take care of everything. Ash left to go have a shower and left Ali to clean up.

Ashlyn was putting on some clothes after her shower when she heard a loud bang come from the kitchen. She ran as fast as she could to get to Ali. When she walked in the kitchen, she saw Ali on the floor holding her stomach in pain.

“What’s wrong?” Ash asked in a panic.

“I don’t know. My stomach hurts. Somethings wrong Ash.” Ali looked at Ash with panic in her eyes.

Ashlyn scooped Ali up off the floor and carried her to her room. She pulled out her cell phone and dialed.

“Abby, it’s Ali. Something is wrong with the baby!” Ashlyn was trying to stay calm but was failing miserably. She had never felt such intense fear in her life. Her mind was racing, and she could barely process a clear thought.

Ali was wincing in pain as she held her stomach. Ashlyn thought she might throw up watching Ali in pain. She couldn’t handle not be able to help her right now. She didn’t know what to do.

Abby told Ashlyn to try and make Ali as comfortable as possible. She would get to the house as soon as she could. Ashlyn knew she needed to calm down. She needed to keep Ali calm.

Ashlyn took a deep breath and kneeled beside the bed and held Ali’s hand.

“Tell me what to do Ali.” Tears were forming in Ashlyn’s eyes.

“I don’t know.” Ali looked scared and it was destroying Ashlyn.

“Abby will be here soon, ok. Everything is going to be fine.” Ashlyn tried to reassure Ali, but she wasn’t so sure she believed her own words.

“Don’t leave me.” Ali said as Ash stood up.

“I’m not going anywhere Ali. I’m staying right here. I’m just going to lay on the other side of the bed so I can hold you. Is that ok?”

“Ok.”

“Do you want to lay on your side?”

“Yes” Ali replied.

“Ok. I’ll lay behind you and rub your back.”

Ali rolled to her side. The pain was subsiding a bit to her relief. Ashlyn got behind her and started rubbing her back.

“Does this feel ok?” Ashlyn asked.

“Ya. The pain is starting to let up. It’s not as intense as it was.”

 

Abby showed up about 15 minutes later. She checked over Ali and told her that she was having false labour and that it was fairly common. Her blood pressure was a little elevated, so she ordered Ali to try and stay off her feet as much as possible for the next few weeks until the baby came.

Ashlyn felt relief and guilt all at the same time. She thanked Abby for coming by, and Abby said she would stop by in the morning to check Ali out again just as a precaution.

“I’m so sorry Ali.”

“Why are you sorry?” Ali asked Ashlyn

“I should have been doing more to help you out. You should not have to take care of me.”

“Ashlyn…look at me. I like taking care of you. It helps me feel like a normal human being again and not the beaten down, pathetic lost girl I was when I got here. I need to feel useful Ash. I can’t let you take on everything while I just sit back and do nothing. I maybe over did it a little today, but I will be more careful in the future. Right now, all I have to keep me going is being there for you. I need to feel needed Ash. I need to feel like I am contributing, otherwise I will just fade away.”

Ashlyn brushed the hair off Ali’s face. “I understand what you are feeling Ali. I know you are trying to keep yourself occupied mentally, so you don’t just sit around thinking about things from your past. I want you to feel like you are contributing, but right now I think it’s really important for you to focus on your baby.” Ash put her hand on Ali’s stomach. Ali put her hand on Ash’s to hold it there.

“I promise to be more careful. I don’t want to risk hurting my baby.”

Ashlyn leaned over and kissed Ali’s forehead. “Thank you.”

Ali curled into Ashlyn and laid her head on her shoulder. She wrapped her arm around her mid section and held her tight. Ashlyn kissed the top of Ali’s head and breathed a sigh of relief that everything was ok. She held Ali tight until she fell asleep.

“I love you.” Ash whispered when she knew Ali was finally asleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Ali woke up in Ashlyn’s arms and was overwhelmed by how right it felt. She loved being held by the blonde, but this morning felt more intimate. It felt more real to Ali. Seeing the panic in Ashlyn’s eyes the night before, made Ali realize that Ashlyn saw her as more then just a friend. That maybe Ashlyn might have deeper feelings for her. She thought about what a future with Ashlyn might be like, and then it hit her that until she rid herself of her past, that a future with Ashlyn just wouldn’t happen. She made up her mind that she was going to push things a little faster where her divorce was concerned. She wanted to be free from having her past constantly hanging over her. She wanted her life back and the only way to do that was to push through the hard stuff.

Ashlyn could tell that Ali was awake even before she opened her eyes. She loved waking up with Ali in her arms. Being here with Ali felt perfect and she was going to hold onto this feeling a little longer. She laid with her eyes closed, willing this moment to never end.

Ashlyn could feel Ali starting to pull away and she opened her eyes.

“Are you ok?” Ash asked.

“Ya. Nature calls. I’m surprised I was able to make it this long without having to get up to go to the bathroom. Usually I get up 3 or 4 times during the night.”

Ash watched her walk away into the bathroom. She figured she would get up and start breakfast.

Ali came back into the room a little disappointed that Ashlyn was gone.

Ali made her way to the kitchen where Ashlyn was preparing breakfast.

“What’s your day looking like today?” Ali asked.

“I have some work I need to get done today, but I can take care of all that from here.”

“You’re not going to the office today?”

“I can work from my office here today.”

Ali knew what Ashlyn was doing. “Are you staying home so you can keep an eye on me?”

“No.” Ashlyn lied. She looked at Ali and Ali rolled her eyes at her.

“Yes, you are. You don’t need to babysit me Ashlyn. I can manage being alone. You don’t have to fall further behind at work because you are worried about me. I promised you that I would be more careful and to take it easy. I’m not going to do anything stupid, ok?”

Ash took a deep breath and looked back at Ali. “You scared me last night.” She whispered.

“I scared myself last night. I scared myself enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I promise you Ash, I will not overdo it today. I will follow the doctors order and relax more. Please don’t let me hold you back anymore. I feel guilty enough as it is that you are working so hard.”

“You are not holding me back Ali, and please don’t feel guilty. I am working hard because I want to make sure I do everything I can to make sure that you and your baby can have a normal life without worrying all the time. I want to fight hard for you, and I won’t be satisfied until that asshole is completely wiped from your life.”

“I will forever be grateful for everything you are doing for me Ashlyn.” Ali says with conviction. “I promise you I will do nothing but rest today. You go to your office and do what you need to do and then come home to me.”
Ashlyn smiled at Ali. She liked how that sounded. “I will Ali.”

 

Ashlyn headed home for the day excited to get home to Ali. She had been in touch with Ali throughout the day just to check in and knew she was probably annoying the brunette, but it helped her focus more after she would talk to her and make sure she was ok. She decided to stop on her way home and grab Ali some flowers for annoying her all day.

When Ash got home, she didn’t hear any noise. She started to panic a little. She walked down the hall to Ali’s room to see if she was laying down to have a nap. She knocked on the door lightly but didn’t get a response, so she opened the door a little to find the room empty. Now she was really starting to get worried. She ran through the house looking for her and finally found Ali asleep on the couch in the family room. She smiled when she saw Ali laying there so peacefully. She was happy the brunette was getting rest. She leaned down in front of Ali and brushed some hair out of her face to wake her up. Ali started to stir and finally opened her eyes to look at Ashlyn. She smiled and Ashlyn could not get over how beautiful she was in that moment. Ali saw the flowers Ashlyn was holding. “What are those for?” Ali asked.

“They are for you. A peace offering for annoying you with all the phone calls I made to you today.” She smiled as she handed Ali the flowers.

Ali sat up on the sofa and took the flowers from Ashlyn. She can’t remember the last time someone had given her flowers.

“I wasn’t annoyed that you were calling me Ash. I know this is hard on you too. I know how hard it was to leave to go to work this morning. I promise I was a very good girl and did practically nothing today”

“Practically nothing?” Ash asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I may have put some laundry away.” Ali gave Ash a little smile.

“You are impossible.” Ash said rolling her eyes. “Doing nothing means doing nothing Ali.”

“It was just some of the baby clothes I had washed the day before. Nothing much. I just wanted to get them put away so I didn’t forget about them.” She offered a small smile as an apology.

Ashlyn relented. “Fine, but now that it’s done, no more. If you need anything done, you ask me or Kelley to take care of it.”

“I’m sure Kelley would love it if I made her fold and put away baby clothes.” Ali laughed.

“Good point. Then leave it for me. Maybe I should ask the housekeeper if she can help out a bit more around here. The baby will be coming soon, and you should have some extra help for when I am not here.”

“Oh Ash, you have done more then enough for me already.”

“I would feel better if you had a little bit of help especially if I am not around. Please let me do this for my own peace of mind at least.”

Ali smiled at Ashlyn. It was nice having someone care about her well being. “Ok” Ali agreed “But only until I am back on my feet again.”

Ashlyn gave Ali a big smile and thanked her. “I brought dinner home. Are you hungry?”

“Starving. This baby has been ravenous all day. She is going to make me so fat.” Ali said while trying to get up off the couch.

Ashlyn laughed and help Ali up. “You mean, He will make you fat.”

Ali slapped Ashlyn’s arm lightly. “Jerk”

Ash just laughed again and grabbed Ali’s hand and led her into the kitchen to eat.

Chapter Text

As they ate the dinner that Ashlyn brought home, Ali figured now was as good a time as any to find out where things stood with the progress of her divorce.

“How are things moving along with my divorce?” Ali asked nonchalantly.

The question caught Ashlyn off guard. She choked a little on the food that was in her mouth. She looked at Ali to see if she had heard her properly. Ali never brought up her divorce. She avoided the conversation like the plague. Anytime Ashlyn asked Ali any questions, Ali would start to shut down, so Ashlyn tried her best to move forward with as little involvement from Ali as possible.

“Um…things are going ok. I hired a law firm out of California to actually handle your divorce. I am providing the information to them and they will be the ones to serve your husband with the divorce papers. That should throw your husband off if he thinks he will be able to get to you through the law firm. It’s a little complicated doing it this way, but your safety is my top priority. Your husband will be served with the divorce papers in the next couple of weeks. I am not really expecting him to just sign the papers and walk away even though you aren’t asking for any spousal support or for any money from him. We will deal with everything as it happens, and I am hoping we can keep this out of the court room. I am pretty sure your husband and his lawyers will want to drag this out as long as possible in hopes that they can locate you, which will mean we may have to go to court, but if that happens, I will make sure he has absolutely no access to you. I will never put you in a position where you will be left alone with him.”

“Ex-husband.” Ali replied.

“What?” Ashlyn asked not understanding what Ali just said.

“He’s my ex-husband. My divorce might not be final yet, but as far as I am concerned, he is my ex-husband and we are no longer married.”

Ashlyn smiled at Ali. She liked this side of her. She could see Ali’s confidence building and Ashlyn found it incredibly attractive. She started to wonder what Ali was like before she met her ex-husband. She was broken from her thoughts when Ali started speaking again.

“Will I have to go to back to Washington if he contests the divorce?” Ali asked.

Ashlyn was still surprised that Ali was asking her questions like these.

“I am hoping that won’t be the case, but it could happen. I will be with you every step of the way Ali. If we have to go to Washington, I will be there with you and so will Kelley and her team. You have nothing to worry about. I promise. I know it won’t be easy, but I will get you through this.”

“I know you will. I have no doubt in my mind that you will keep me safe Ash. If I have to go back and face him, I will do it and I will get through it, because I know you will be right beside me.”

“I will Ali. Even after all this is over. I will always be here for you.”

“I have never doubted that Ash. I know I haven’t known you long, but I can’t imagine my life without you. Beside Kyle and Heather, you are the best thing in my life. You make me want to be better and you lift me up when everything seems so hopeless. I would be completely lost without your support.” Ali said as a tear rolled down her face.

“You are the best thing in my life too Ali. I mean it.”

“Will I have to testify about what happened during my marriage?” Ali asked

Ashlyn sighed, “If he contests the divorce and we go to court, then yes, you will have to provide testimony, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.”

Ali looked down, trying to process the fact that she would have to relive those moments in front of a bunch of strangers and in front of Ashlyn. She felt such shame for letting things go on for so long. She still had trouble grasping the fact that she let any of that happen to her. Why didn’t she leave sooner? Why did she let this happen?

Ashlyn could see Ali starting to spiral and she needed to reel her in, so she didn’t make herself sick and have another episode like the previous night.

“Hey, Al. Don’t even worry about that stuff right now, ok. The most important thing to focus on right now is that little guy growing inside you and getting ready to welcome him into this world.” Ash tried to lighten the mood and focus Ali’s attention on something more positive.

“You mean her, right? You really need to work on your pronouns Harris.” Ali laughed.

“I stand by my statement Krieger.” Ash played back.

Ali just rolled her eyes and stood up from the table and grabbed their plates.

“And just what do you think you are doing?” Ash questioned

“I can carry a couple of plates to the kitchen Ashlyn. I’m not an invalid.” Ali rolled her eyes at Ashlyn’s over-protectiveness.

“I will do it. You go sit down and relax. When I am done cleaning up, we can watch a movie or something.”

Ali loved watching movies with Ashlyn. Ashlyn was always affectionate when the watched tv together, either rubbing her feet or letting Ali put her head on her lap so Ashlyn could play with her hair.

“A movie sounds perfect.” Ali replied

“Ok. Go pick something. I will be right there. Maybe when we are done watching the movie, you can show me where you put all the baby’s clothes. I’m probably going to need to know this stuff when he gets here.” Ashlyn teased.

Ali laughed and rolled her eyes. Ali was surprised how calm she felt in this moment. Usually she would feel drained and emotional after discussing anything to do with her ex-husband, but not right now. She felt light and a bit excited about her future and she knew she had Ashlyn to thank for that.

Chapter Text

Ali had queued up a movie on NetFlix and she waited for Ashlyn to join her. Ashlyn came in a few minutes later and joined her on the sofa. Ali was laying down already, so Ashlyn sat by her feet. Ashlyn lifted Ali’s legs and put them in her lap and started rubbing Ali’s feet. Ali pushed play on the movie.

The foot rub was not relaxing Ali. It was having the opposite affect on her. She was getting really worked up. Especially when Ashlyn ran her hands up her legs. Ali wasn’t sure how much more she would be able to handle. She couldn’t focus on the movie. She needed a distraction.

“Hey Ash, can I ask you a personal question?"

“Of course.” Ashlyn gave Ali her full attention.

“What made you start helping women like me?”

Ashlyn took a deep breathe. She hated talking about this, but she knew this question might come up at some point.

“Do you want the long drawn out version or the short easy answer?” Ashlyn said with a bit of a laugh.

Ali smiled. “The long drawn out version of course?”

Ashlyn took a deep breathe, “Let me know if you want me to stop ok?”

“Ok” Ali said, knowing she would never stop her from telling her story. She wanted to know everything about this woman, so she would sit through every damn word even if it was hard to listen to.

“I was brought up in a rather poor household. My parents did not have a lot of money and our situation only seemed to get worse as time went on. When I was about 5 years old, my dad developed a pretty bad drinking problem. At first, he would just go out after work for a few drinks but after awhile, the drinking became more frequent and it seemed like he was drunk all the time. My parents were constantly fighting about his drinking and money. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but the fighting got worse as time went on. My dad became violent towards my mom. Sometimes we would have to spend the night in the hospital because my dad had beat my mom really bad. I remember watching him sitting in the waiting room acting like the perfect little angel after telling the nurses that my mom had fallen. I know the nurses didn’t believe him, but my mom always backed up his story. I hated my dad. I hated him for everything he put my mom through. We had no money and no one to turn to, so she just stayed with him. We lived in a very small town and there were no women’s shelters for my mom to go to. As I got older, things did not improve. My brother took off and left me and my mom alone with my Dad. My brother got into drugs pretty bad, I guess as a way to escape the reality of what was happening at home. I didn’t know how to help my mom. I was in high school and even though my grades were good, we couldn’t afford for me to go to college. I wanted out though. I couldn’t be in that house anymore, so when I turned 18, I enlisted in the Marines. I knew I would be able to get an education if I stuck it out. It was pretty much my only option at the time to get away from my life. I loved my mom, but I couldn’t help her. I had nothing to offer her, so I left. I was able to get a college diploma. I was deployed to Iraq for my first tour. It was probably one of the most intense things I have ever gone through. I saw things that gave me nightmares. I was on a mission with my squad when we were attacked. I was injured quite badly and was sent back home and relieved of duty as my injury prevented me from going back. I was relieved and heartbroken at the same time. I loved being with my squad, but I hated everything about the war. Anyway, when I returned home, I had enough money save up to put myself through law school, so I did. When I finished law school, I got a job working at a law firm specializing in Family Law. I got a call one night from the hospital. My mom had been hurt and she had asked for me. I went to the hospital and could see my father’s handy work. He had beaten her really bad this time. I told my mom she needed to leave him. If she didn’t leave, then I was going to turn around and walk out the door and she would never see me again. She needed to know I was serious. She told me she had no where to go. He would just find her and drag her back home. She had nothing. No money, and no job. She had no way to support herself. I called a friend of mine in Georgia and she was able to get my mom out of Florida into a women’s shelter. I had a bit of money put away, so I helped my mom open a diner. While my mom got the diner up and going, I went to work on putting my father in prison for everything he had done to her. He was the first person I had put away and honestly Ali, it was the best feeling in the world. I got my mom a divorce and she has been thriving since.”

“Your mom owns a diner?”

“Yes.” Ash replied.

“She’s the one who helped Heather the night she left her husband, isn’t she?”

“Yes. My mom helped Heather; the same way Heather helped you.”

Ali didn’t know what to say. She was completely overwhelmed by what Ashlyn just told her. How could someone who had been through so much shit in their life, turn out to be such an amazing human being.

“You are so amazing Ash. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know from experience how hard it is to talk about the shit other people put us through, especially people who are supposed to love and protect us. You are such and inspiration to me.”

“I wish I was able to do more. There are so many women out there who feel like they have no where to turn. I wish I could help more. I will never turn away someone who has been through what you have Ali. It’s not right and I will fight until my last day for anyone who wants to take back control of there life.”

Ali looked at Ashlyn with such admiration. Ash hated telling this story. It exhausted her. She hated going back to that time and place in her life. She looked over to Ali.

“We should probably get you to bed.”

Ali frowned.

“What’s wrong” Ash asked.

“I like being here with you. I’m not ready to let you go yet.” Ali smiled at Ashlyn.

Ashlyn laughed. She liked that Ali was able to bring her out of the darkness so quickly.

“I thought we had a deal Ali.”

“I’m relaxing. Look at me. I’m laying down. What more do I need to do?”

Ashlyn tickle her foot and Ali screech and pulled away.

“Fine. On one condition…”

“What’s that?” Ash asked.

“You have to lay with me until I fall asleep.”

Ash smiled wide at Ali, “Deal.”

Chapter Text

As Ali quickly approached her due date, she was getting a little antsy. She was getting tired of laying around all day and doing nothing. This gave her too much time to think and Ali hated having time to think about things. She just wanted to focus on the now but having nothing to do but lay around made her think about the past and her uncertain future. She knew that her ex-husband was not going to make thing easy when it came to the divorce and she was even more worried about him finding out about the baby. She never wanted that man to have any access to her child. But she knew if he ever found out, things could get very complicated for her. She would run if she had to. She would take her child and leave, and no one would ever find them.
Ashlyn knew that Ali was in a dark place mentally right now with being on bed rest. She tried to spend as much time with Ali as possible to try and keep her mind off of things. She had brought Heather and Christen down a few times to try and lift Ali’s spirits, but as soon as they left Ali would return to the darkness.

“Hey Ali, I know it’s been hard on you being put on bed rest…”

“Do you Ashlyn? Do you really know how hard it is?” Ali snapped at her.

Ashlyn stepped back stunned by Ali’s reaction. Ali saw the look of hurt in Ashlyn’s eyes and immediately felt guilty. Ali started to cry.

“I am so sorry Ash. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’m just so frustrated. I feel completely useless and all I can do is lay here thinking about everything that’s happened and about what’s going to happen when I can finally move on with my life. I feel worried all the time that I am not going to be enough for my baby and I won’t be a good mom. I hate the thoughts that are constantly going through my head and I can’t stop them. I want so badly to be strong, but right now, I feel like I am failing at everything.”

“You are not failing Ali. You are doing everything you can to bring this baby into the world and once he is here, I know you are going to be a great mother to him. You are already so protective of him and I know that it may not seem like it right now, but everything you are doing right now revolves around this child. You have been protecting this baby from the moment you found out about their existence. You are going to be a bad ass mom Ali. You are one of the strongest people I have ever met, and I know without a doubt that this child has hit the parent jackpot having you as his mom.”

“I never imagined that I would be raising a child alone.” Ali said quietly. “I always wanted a big family and raise my children with someone who loved us as much as we loved them.” A tear ran down Ali’s face.

Ashlyn wiped the tear away. “I know this is not how you pictured things Ali, and it’s ok to be mad about that, but you are not alone in this. I will be there every step of the way for you and for this baby. You will always have me.”

Ali stared at Ashlyn and wanted so badly to reach out and kiss her. She wanted Ashlyn to know how badly she wanted her to be the one she had all those things with that she dreamed about, but she knew it wasn’t the right time, so she just cuddled into Ashlyn and let her hold her trying to soak in every ounce of strength she could from this woman.

***

Ashlyn and Ali were sitting down to dinner when Ali suddenly hunched over in pain.

“Ali, what’s wrong?” Ash panicked.

“I think I might be having a contraction.”

“Ok. We got this Ali. I am going to call Abby to come over and make sure everything is ok. It might be false labor again, but better to be safe.”

Ashlyn grabbed her cell phone and called Abby. Once the pain started to subside, Ali stood up from the table, and when she did, she felt a gush between her legs and saw water on the floor. She thought she peed herself. She looked at Ashlyn with panic in her eyes. Ashlyn’s eyes went big as she saw what just happened. She froze for a minute, then snapped out of it and told Abby to get to the house right away. Ashlyn dropped her phone and picked Ali up and carried her to her bed. She ran to the bathroom and grabbed some towels and came back to try and get Ali as comfortable as possible.

“I’m scared Ash.” Ali looked at Ashlyn with fear in her eyes.

Ashlyn smiled at her softly. “I know honey, but I am going to be here every step of the way. I won’t leave you. You are going to have a baby Ali and it’s going to be perfect. Perfect, just like you are.”

Ashlyn leaned in and hugged Ali trying to comfort her a little. When she pulled back, she looked Ali in the eye and Ali pulled Ashlyn back in and kissed her on the lips. It was a light kiss, but it gave Ali comfort. Ashlyn leaned her forehead on Ali’s and stroked her cheek. God, she loved this woman. The moment was broken when Abby walked though the bedroom door.

Ashlyn got up off the bed and stood beside Ali and held her hand. Abby checked Ali over.

“Well Ali, it looks like this baby is on it’s way. It’s going to be a bit still, but you are definitely in labor.”

Ashlyn smiled down at Ali and Ali smiled back. Ali felt so many conflicting emotions in this moment. She was scared, excited, anxious and most of all she felt love. She felt love for her baby already and it wasn’t even born yet and she felt so much love for Ashlyn. She felt like even though her and Ashlyn were not together, that she had a partner in this and that gave her the confidence she needed to get through this moment. She knew Ashlyn would never abandon her or her baby no matter what happened in the future, and that was all she needed right now.

Chapter Text

After several hours of waiting for the baby to come, Abby finally told Ali she was ready to start pushing. She was already exhausted, and she hadn’t even started yet. Ash sat on the edge of the bed and held Ali’s hand while she started to push. Ali tired out after the first try and laid back down. Abby told her she needed to start pushing again. She just shook her head and started to cry. She was too tired. She was scared she was not going to have it in her to get this baby out.

“Ash, I am going to get you to sit behind Ali and hold her up. That should help her a little bit.” Abby instructed Ashlyn.

Ashlyn helped Ali sit up a bit and she got in behind her and held her tight.

“You’ve got this Ali.” She whispered into Ali’s ear.

The sensation of Ashlyn sitting behind her holding her and into her ear helped Ali find the strength to start pushing again. She pushed a few more times when instructed by Abby and finally Ali heard her baby cry. It was over. Her baby was here. She leaned back into Ashlyn and started to cry from pure joy and exhaustion. Ashlyn just held her.

“You did so great Ali. I am so proud of you.” Ashlyn said softly in Ali’s ear.

After cleaning the baby off she asked Ali if she wanted to cut the cord.

“I want Ash to do it” Ali replied.

“Really?” Ashlyn said, shocked that Ali would let her do this.

“Of course.”

Ashlyn gently got up from the bed laying Ali back on some pillows she stacked up for her and went around to Abby and cut the cord where Abby told her too. Ashlyn felt such love being included like this.

Abby wrapped the baby up and handed it to Ali. Ali looked down at her baby never feeling such instant love for something before. She couldn’t believe this was her baby.

Ashlyn took her phone out and took some pictures of Ali and the baby.

“I want a picture of all three of us.” Ali told her.

Ashlyn smiled wide at Ali and handed her phone to Abby to take a picture of the three of them.

Ashlyn looked down at the baby and realized they didn’t know the sex yet. “Is it a boy or a girl?”

Ali and Ashlyn both looked up at Abby.

“You have a beautiful baby girl Ali.”

Ali looked at Ashlyn with a big smile on her face “Told you.”

Ashlyn just shrugged and looked down at the baby, “I don’t mind being wrong in this situation. I have never seen anything more beautiful in my life.”

***

Ashlyn stayed with Ali and the baby so Ali could get some rest after Abby had shown her how to feed the baby. She sat on the bed and held the baby in her arms while Ali slept. She couldn’t take her eyes of this little girl. She was so tiny and looked so much like her mom. She was perfect.

Ali woke up after a bit of a nap and opened her eyes to see Ashlyn holding her daughter. The sight made her melt. Ashlyn held her baby so protectively. She had never seen anything more perfect.

“That’s a good look on you,” Ali whispered.

Ashlyn looked down at Ali and smiled.

“Have you thought of a name for the tiny princess yet?” Ashlyn asked.

“I have…”

“Care to share, or should I just call her “tiny” forever?” Ashlyn teased.

“Her name is Kyla Ashlyn Krieger. I named her after the two most important people in my life.”

Ashlyn looked at Ali with such a big smile. She never imagined that Ali would name her baby after her. She had no words to describe how honored she was that Ali would do that.

“Ali…that’s…I can’t believe you would do that. I am so honored.”

“She deserves someone like you in her life Ash. You are one of the best people I know, and I am the one who is honored to give my daughter your name. I hope she grows up to be just as wonderful as you are.”

“She has an amazing Mom. I am sure she will grow up to be just as amazing.” Ash said.

Just then the baby started to fuss a bit. “I think she’s getting hungry.” Ali said.

“Ok. Sit up and I will hand her to you.”

Ali sat up and Ash walked around the bed and handed Ali the baby.

“I’ll give you some privacy.” Ash said.

“You don’t have to go Ash…unless you are uncomfortable.”

“No, I just don’t want to intrude on this moment” Ash replied.

“I really don’t mind. I like having you here.”

Ash climb back onto the bed as Ali got the baby situated and covered up.

“I still can’t believe I am a Mom.” Ali said.

“I can only imagine how that feels.”

“Do you want kids?” Ali asked

“I do. One day. I always imagined having a big family.”

“How big is big?” Ali laughed.

“I’m not sure. Maybe two…..or five.” Ashlyn smirked.

Ali laughed again.

The baby started to fuss and Ali knew she was done eating. She put the baby on her shoulder and burped her.

“I’m going to go change her diaper.” Ali said

“I will do it. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be up walking around just yet.”

“I’m ok Ash, really. I’m a Mom now. Duty calls.”

“I’ll come with you just in case.”

“Always the protector, aren’t you?” Ali said with a smile.

“For you two…Always.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn headed home for the day excited to see Ali and the baby. This was the longest she had been away from them and she didn’t like leaving them, even though she had hired a nanny/housekeeper to help Ali out. She was a little nervous to tell Ali that her ex-husband was being served the divorce papers today. She knew Ali was expecting this to happen soon, but with everything that was going on now with the baby, she wasn’t sure where Ali’s head was at. Ali’s ex-husband had been keeping a low profile the past few months and Ash was a little nervous that serving him the papers would start a frenzy. No doubt he will go looking for her in California. She knew that she couldn’t keep Ali hidden forever, but she needed to find a way to keep the baby away from him. Worst case scenario, she would put Ali and the baby in a program specially equipped to help abused mothers and children stay hidden. This was a last case scenario for Ashlyn. She really wanted Ali to stay with her and part of her was wondering if she would ever be able to let her go.

The house was quiet when she walked through the door. She went into the kitchen and found Becky, the nanny, heating up a bottle.

“Why are you heating a bottle? Is Ali not going to feed the baby?” Ashlyn asked.

“Ali isn’t feeling very good right now, so I told her to go lay down and I will take care of the feeding.”

“I’ll go check on Ali.” Ash said a bit concerned.

“She just laid down. Maybe give her a bit before going in there.”

“Ok. Where is Kyla?” Ash asked.

“She’s in the nursery. I’m heading there right now.”

“Would it be ok if I fed her?” Ash asked.

“That would actually be helpful. It will give me a chance to get dinner going.”

“Great.” Ash took the bottle from Becky and headed to the nursery. When she opened the door, she found Kyla awake. She picked the baby up from the crib carefully and sat with her in the rocking chair. She positioned the baby so she could take the bottle easily. This was only Ash’s third time feeding her, but it was easily becoming one of her favorite things to do. She loved watching the little girl as she ate. She felt a special connection with her.

“How was your day little one?” She spoke softly to the baby. “I missed you today. Being away from you and your mom is getting harder and harder for me. I don’t know what I am going to do if you have to leave me forever. I’m pretty fond of you and your mom, you know.” Ash took a deep breath and sighed. She tried not to think about what her life would be like without Ali and Kyla in it. Before Ali came along, all Ashlyn focused on was work, and even though Ali was her client, she felt more for her then just a client/attorney relationship. She was in love with Ali, and now she was falling for her daughter too. A tear fell from Ash’s eye as she stared down at the little girl in her arms.

When Kyla was finished her bottle, Ash burped her and put her back in her crib. She watched as the little girl fell asleep.

“I love you little one. You and your mom, and I promise I will keep you both safe no matter what happens. No one will ever hurt you two as long as I am around. Good night little princess.”

Ash left the nursery and decided to go check on Ali. Ali was laying on her bed sleeping. Ash walked over and just watched her sleep for a minute before turning around to leave.

“You don’t have to go.” Ali said quietly.

Ash turned around. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you up. I just wanted to check and make sure you were ok.”

“I’m ok. Just feeling a bit run down. Nothing serious.”

“Well that’s because you are trying to do too much on your own. You need to let Becky help out more.” Ash gently scolded.

“I know. I just like staying busy. Did a little too much today, I guess.”

“I’ll let you rest. I’ll come back when dinner is ready, ok?”

“Or you can just stay with me.” Ali said shyly.

Ash smiled at her “Do you promise to sleep?”

“Yes. I promise” Ali crossed her heart jokingly.

Ash got on the bed beside Ali and Ali curled into her.

“I sleep better with you around.” Ali said sleepily.

“That’s because I’m super boring.” Ash replied with a chuckle.

Ali laughed. “Right, that must be it.”

Ashlyn pulled Ali into her closer And Ali put her head on Ash’s shoulder and snuggled her tight. Ash kissed Ali’s head and they both drifted off to sleep.

***

Ashlyn woke up about an hour later still holding Ali close. She loved how much Ali loved to cuddle. She liked the feeling of the brunette in her arms. She was staring down at Ali when she felt her start to stir and knew Ali was slowly waking up. She brushed some hair off of Ali’s face and watched her open her eyes. “God, she is beautiful” Ashlyn thinks to herself.

“Hey” Ashlyn says when Ali opens her eyes.

“Hi. What time is it?” Ali asked.

“It’s time to get up and eat. How are you feeling?”

“Much better” Ali replied. “Thanks for staying with me.”

“Of course. We should probably get up now and go have dinner. Becky is probably waiting for us.”

They both get up and head to the nursery to check on Kyla. She’s still sleeping, so they head down to the kitchen to have dinner. Becky had everything ready to go for them and told them she was going to head home for the night and would be back tomorrow morning.

Ali and Ash sat down at the kitchen table and ate dinner together.

“I have some news.” Ash said with a bit of a serious tone.

“Ok.” Ali looked at her questioningly.

“Your ex-husband was served with divorce papers today.”

Ali smiled at Ashlyn. This was not quite the reaction Ashlyn was expecting.

“What a fucking relief” Ali replied.

Ashlyn felt relieved that Ali was taking it well.

“Well, I am glad you are happy.” Ash said

“Of course I’m happy Ash. I am one step closer to that asshole being out of my life. I know that it’s not going to be an easy divorce, but I feel like I have been in limbo for the past few months. I just want to move forward. I want to start living my life again without having this hanging over my head.”

“I don’t want to rain on your parade Ali, but you know that once you are divorced from him, that he may still try to get you back, right? I don’t want to scare you, but I want you to be prepared. In the eyes of the law you will no longer be married, but in his eyes, you will always belong to him. I wish that I could just make everything better for you with this divorce, but there is going to be a more to face once the divorce is over.”

“I am very aware of what I have to face going forward, Ash. I am. But somehow knowing that he was served those papers today, just gives me hope. I don’t feel the hopelessness I did when I got here. I feel stronger and more confident about everything. You did that. You got me here and I could not be more grateful. No matter what happens down the road, I feel like I can get through this now. I know he won’t give me up without a fight and that just makes me want to fight harder. I want to be able to walk away from that man with my head held high and I feel like I can do that now. I feel like I have a future now. A future with my baby and maybe one day a future with someone who will love us right. I’m so happy right now and to be honest, not the least bit afraid. I am done being afraid of him.”

“Well ok then. I am so happy you are feeling this way Ali. I love seeing this side of you. You are one of the strongest people I have ever met. Your ex-husband is in for the fight of his life. I can promise you that.”

“Damn right he is.” Ali beamed.

Chapter Text

Ashlyn was contacted by the legal team she hired in California to handle Ali’s divorce. Apparently, Ali’s ex-husband’s attorneys have instructed them that if she wants to proceed with a divorce that he needs to know where his wife is so that they can try to work this out. Ali’s ex-husband is refusing to sign the papers until he is put in contact with his wife. Ashlyn expected this would be his reaction to receiving the divorce papers. Now she needed to find a way to push this man to give Ali the divorce so she could start rebuilding her life. She contacted Emily, one of her sources in Washington and told her to make sure they stayed on top of Ali’s husband’s every move. She didn’t want to be caught off guard at any point and needed to know his whereabouts at all times.

“He’s just leaving his lawyer’s office right now.” Emily said. “I will stay on top of him and let you know if anything comes up.”

“Thanks.” Ash replied.

Ashlyn hung up the phone and leaned back in her chair and ran her hands over her face. She heard a soft knock on her door.

“Come in.”
Ali walked through the door. She noticed Ashlyn looked a little stressed. “Hey. Are you ok?” Ali asked.

“I’m good. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to have lunch with me today?” Ali asked.

Ashlyn looked at her watch. The morning had gone by fast. She couldn’t believe it was lunch time already.

“Ya, Sure. I’ll join you.”

Ali and Ash sat down to enjoy the lunch that Ali had prepared for them.

“You seem stressed about something.” Ali said with concern.

“Everything is fine Ali. I promise. Just have a lot on my mind.” Ash smiled, trying to ease Ali’s worry.

“You can talk to me, you know.”

“I know. It’s really nothing though. I am just working through some stuff, but I promise you, it’s nothing bad. Just a lot going on at work.” Ash replied.

“Ok.” Ali let it go. If Ash wasn’t willing to talk about it, she wasn’t going to push.

Ash’s cell phone rang. “I have to take this call.”

Ash excused herself from the table and went to her office.

“What’s happening Emily?” Ash asked.

“I thought you should know that Ali’s husband has just arrived at the airport. He is chartering a private jet.”

“Do you know where he is heading?”

“Not yet, but I am working on it. I’ll keep you posted.”

Ash hung up from Emily and went back out to the kitchen. Ali was cleaning up from lunch.

“You know Becky is going to freak out when she sees that you did her job again.” Ash laughed.

“I gave Becky the day off. She’s been here pretty much everyday since Kyla was born. She needed a break. I am feeling so much better now; I don’t feel right having her do everything for me anymore. I like being able to take care of you and the baby on my own. But I do appreciate everything she does to help me.”

“I’m glad you are starting to feel better Ali.” Ash said.

They could hear Kyla start to cry over the baby monitor. Ali dried her hands to go get her baby.

“I’ll get her.” Ash ran towards the nursery to go take care of the baby before Ali could protest.

Ashlyn opened the nursery door and walked towards the crib. She looked down at Kyla and smiled at the little girl. She reached into the crib and picked her up. She went to the change table and put a fresh diaper on her talking to the baby the whole time as if she was able to understand anything that Ashlyn was saying to her. Ashlyn loved these moments with the baby.

Ashlyn took the baby to go find Ali so she could feed her. Ashlyn found Ali sitting in the family room all ready to go. Ash handed the baby to Ali and sat down next to Ali as she got the baby settled to eat. Ashlyn loved these moments too. She felt included in Ali and Kyla’s life when Ali would feed the baby. Even though she was not a parent to this child, she felt a strong connection to her and being able to be with them in such an intimate moment meant the world to Ashlyn.

They sat quietly together until Ashlyn’s cell phone rang.

“I’ll take this in my office. Be right back.” Ashlyn excused herself to take the call.

“Hi Emily.”

“Hey Ashlyn. I was able to locate where the flight is headed.”

“Great. I’m assuming he’s heading for California to try and find Ali through the lawyer.” Ash said.

“No, he’s not headed towards California. He’s actually heading towards Florida.” Emily replied.

“Fuck!”

Chapter Text

Ash started to panic. What the hell was he coming to Florida for?

“Where exactly in Florida is he going?” Ash asked in a panic.

“He’s flying into Miami.”

Ash relaxed a bit but realized that he was probably on his way to find Kyle. “Shit, Em, I need to let you go. Thanks for your help. I’ll be in touch.”

Ashlyn hung up the phone and immediately phoned Whitney.

“Hey Ash.” Whitney answered

“Hey. Ali’s husband is on his way to Miami. I have a feeling he’s on his way to find Kyle. I need you to track this guy as soon as he gets off the plane and make sure Kyle has plenty of protection. Make sure he’s safe Whitney.”

“Should I let the husband find Kyle, or do you want me to hide him?”

“If we hide him, he will know something is up. Just make sure that Kyle is never alone and give him the heads up that James is on his way to Miami. I don’t want Kyle to be caught off guard. Let him know that we have people looking out for him and to let you know where he is at all times. Do not let him out of your sight Whitney.”

“I won’t Ash. I will make sure nothing happens to him. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to keep him safe.”

“Thanks Whitney. Keep me updated as much as possible.”

“I will Ash. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Ashlyn hung up the phone and took a deep breath.

“He’s going after Kyle, isn’t he?” Ashlyn spun around to find Ali standing in the doorway holding the baby with tears in her eyes.

Ashlyn ran to Ali and held her in her arms. “Kyle is safe Ali. I promise I won’t let anything happen to him.”

“What if he hurts Kyle trying to find me Ash? I don’t think I would ever forgive myself if something happened to anyone I loved because of my decision to leave that man. I’m the one who fucked up. No one needs to get hurt because of me. I shouldn’t have left.”

Ashlyn put her hands on both sides of Ali’s face and looked her in the eye. “Don’t…Don’t ever say that Ali. You don’t deserve to live your life in fear. No one does. If you hadn’t left, who knows what he would have done to you or to Kyla. You’re out Ali and there is not a damn thing he can do about it. He may have a lot of money, but I have a lot of resources and I promise I will do everything in my power to make sure that man suffers for the rest of his life.” Ash pulled Ali in and held her tight.
“I need to know that Kyle is safe Ash. I need to be with him.” Ali cried.

“Kyle is in good hands Ali. Whitney will never let anything happen to him. She will make sure that he is protected if anything should happen. Trust me Ali, Whitney knows how to handle this situation better then anyone else I know. Your ex-husband should be the one worrying. If he puts one toe out of line, Whitney will deal with him. You have trusted me so far Ali, I need you to trust me about this. Ok?” Ash asked gently. She needed Ali to trust her judgement on this. She knew Ali’s husband was smart and wasn’t likely going to do anything that would jeopardize his business reputation. She was actually surprised that he was going to Florida himself and not sending one of his people down to deal with Kyle. she knew that her ex-husband must be feeling desperate to go himself and that means he will probably make a mistake and Whitney will be there to deal with him when it happened.

“I’m so scared Ash.” Ali whispered

“I know you are, but please trust me when I say that everything will be ok.”

“I do trust you. I know you are going to take care of my family Ash, I just feel so helpless right now. I feel like I have no control over this situation and I fucking hate that. “

Ash held Ali tighter. She’s feeling a little helpless herself. She would love nothing more then to fly down to Miami and just take care of this situation herself, but she knows she can’t leave Ali alone right now, especially like this. Ash pulled back from Ali and took the baby from Ali’s arms. She wrapped an arm around Ali’s shoulder and walked her to the living room to sit down. Ash held Kyla until she fell asleep then got up and took her to the nursery. She went to the kitchen and poured herself and Ali a glass of wine. She went back to the living room and handed Ali her wine. Ashlyn sat next to Ali on the couch and put her arm around Ali’s shoulder. Ali melted into Ashlyn’s side. They drank their wine in silence.

Ali was the first one to speak up “I really want you to be honest with me about everything that’s happening Ash. I don’t want to be left in the dark anymore because you are worried about protecting me. I want to know everything as you know it. Promise you will tell me everything, no matter what it is.”

Ashlyn sighed. She really wanted to protect Ali as much as possible, but she knew that Ali wasn’t the fragile girl that showed up months ago. She knows that Ali is getting stronger everyday and gaining more confidence everyday. She knows that as much as she wants to keep Ali away from all the bad stuff, she is eventually going to have to face everything that has happened in her past and Ashlyn knows that to do that, Ali needs to be in the loop. They needed to be a team and work together if they were going to get through this.

“I promise Ali, I won’t keep anything from you anymore.”

Ali laid her head back on Ashlyn’s shoulder and they both drifted off to sleep.

Ash woke up to her cell phone ringing. It was Whitney calling. Ali slowly opened her eyes and looked up at Ashlyn.

“It’s Whitney.” Ash said. She pushed speaker on her cell phone so Ali could be included in the conversation. She prayed she was making the right decision.

“What’s going on Whit?”

“Well, he’s here in Miami. I am following his car right now. He’s heading towards Kyle’s shop, so I am pretty sure that’s where he is going. I will keep you posted. Just wanted to let you know he’s here.”

“Thanks Whitney. I appreciate the update. Call as soon as you have more info.”

“I will Ash. Talk to you soon.”

Ash hung up and turned to Ali. She looked pale. It broke Ashlyn’s heart to see her so worried.

They heard Kyla start to cry in her crib. Ashlyn got up to go get her and Ali followed. Ashlyn reached into the crib and pulled her out. She took her over to the change table and started having their usually “just woke up” conversation. Ali watched as Ashlyn talked to her daughter. It warmed her heart to see how good Ashlyn was to her baby. She was so attentive and involved. Ali loved watching them together. Ali wasn’t sure what it was in that moment, but she knew everything was going to be ok. She knew that Ashlyn was going to make everything ok, because she always did.

Chapter Text

Kyle sat in the office in his salon. Whitney had contacted him to let him know that Ali’s ex-husband was probably on his way to see him. Whitney had planted a couple of her people in the salon to provide extra protection for Kyle if he should need it. She was sitting outside waiting to see if Ali’s husband was going to show up. She saw the black town car approaching and she knew it was him. She got out of her car and headed inside pretending she was there for an appointment. Kyle had sent his staff home for the day, so the only people in the building were Whitney’s people and Kyle.

Whitney was sitting in a barber chair when James walked into the shop with two very large men. The operative at the front of the shop asked if he had an appointment, but James just walked by her and went to the back looking for Kyle. Kyle came out of his office when he saw James approach.

“Where is she?” James asked angrily.

“You will never find her you dumb fuck. I will never let you hurt my sister again.”

Whitney warned Kyle not to make James angry, but she knew how close he was to her sister, so she was expecting this reaction from him.

“I will find her Kyle, and when I do, I will bring her home where she fucking belongs. I will never let her go. She is mine and there is not a god damn thing you can do about it.”

“She is not your property James. She does not belong to you. She is divorcing you and she will never be yours again. I should fucking kill you for what you did to her.” Kyle shouted at him.

“Go ahead and try.” James smiled at Kyle egging him on. The two large men stood beside James waiting for Kyle to make a move.

“To afraid to fight your own battles unless it’s to hit a woman. You are so pathetic. I will give you 5 seconds to get out of my shop or I will call the police.” Kyle said

“You go ahead and call the police. I am not doing anything illegal. I am just a concerned husband, looking for my confused wife. Not sure why that would warrant a call to the police?” James said sarcastically.

“She is not your wife anymore James. She is gone. She will never go back to you. I will make sure you never lay a hand on her again. Get out now. I’m done with this conversation.”

James sneered at Kyle. He hated being talked to this way. People did what he told them to do and he hated being told he couldn’t have something.

“We will see Kyle.” James turned and walked out of the shop.

Whitney walked over to Kyle. “Are you ok?” She asked him.

“I’m sorry Whitney. I know you told me not to make him angry, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to say that to him. I need him to know that I will never let him get near my sister again.”

“It’s ok Kyle. I would have done the exact same thing. Your sister is very lucky to have a brother who loves her very much.”

“I do love her, and I hate that she has to go through all of this because of that fucking asshole.”

“Well, our hope is that he will leave your sister alone after the divorce is final, but he does not strike me as the type of guy that will just walk away. Your sister has a long road ahead of her, but we will be with her every step of the way. A guy like him is bound to screw up at one point and when he does, we will be there to stop him.”

“I feel so helpless. I feel like I should be doing more to help her.”

“Trust me Kyle, everything that can be done, is being done. Ashlyn is making sure that nothing gets missed. If anyone can get Ali the help she needs, it’s Ash. She is in very good hands.”

“I know, and I trust Ashlyn to help my sister. I just want Ali and the baby to be able to live a normal life, without having to worry about that guy coming after them. It’s not fair that an asshole like that gets to walk around free after everything he’s done, and my sister has to hide and live in fear.”

“You’re right, it’s not fair. But this is the situation right now. The important thing to remember is that Ali and the baby are safe and that is our top priority right now. This guy will get what he deserves, it’s just going to take some time.”

“You’re right. I have my sister back in my life, and that’s the important thing. I just need to be patient. I know everything will work out, and I know my sister is in good hands. He just really got under my skin and I just want him out of Ali’s life for good.”

“He will be Kyle. I can promise you that.”

Chapter Text

“I feel guilty that Kyle is being harassed by my ex-husband. I feel like I should be there fighting my own battle.” Ali said. The statement caught Ashlyn off guard.

“Kyle will be fine Ali. Whitney will make sure he has protection the entire time your ex is in Miami. She won’t let him out of her sight. Nothing is going to happen to him.” Ashlyn replied.

“I feel like maybe if I confront him and tell him I am never coming back, that maybe he will back off. Maybe I just need to grow a backbone and stop hiding and go out there and take care of this myself. I’m tired of everyone being put in danger because of me. I feel guilty all the time.”

Ashlyn was starting to get a little worked up at the thought of Ali wanting to leave.

“Ali, I swore I would do everything I could to keep you safe and I meant it.”

“You can’t protect me forever Ashlyn.”

“Yes, I can Ali.” Ashlyn was starting to get a little defensive.

“I am tired of putting the people I love at risk. I am eventually going to have to face him. I can’t hide forever.”

“You aren’t hiding Ali, you are surviving. There is a big difference. You came here looking for help to try and get your life back, and that’s exactly what I am going to do. I am going to give you your life back.”

“How Ashlyn? By keeping me locked away in your house with limited access to the outside world? How is that getting my life back? I have nothing Ashlyn. I have no money, no job, and a baby I can’t even support on my own. Do you know how much of a failure I feel like right now? I’m done hiding Ashlyn. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want my life back now. I want my daughter to grow up thinking her mom is a fighter, not someone who hides in the shadows letting everyone else clean up her mess.” Ali yelled at Ashlyn trying to get her point across.

“I understand how you feel Ali…”

“No, you don’t Ashlyn! You have no idea how I feel right now. I feel like I barely exist. I feel like I am living my life in limbo waiting for the inevitable to happen. I can’t move forward if I don’t face the mistakes I made in the past.”

“I just need more time Ali. I can help you; you just have to trust me.”

“I do trust you Ashlyn. That’s never been an issue. I trust you more then anyone on this planet besides Kyle. I know you want to help me and I couldn’t be more grateful for all you have done for me, and one day I hope to repay you for everything you have done, but I can’t just sit here anymore and wait. I need to do something.”

“You are doing something Ali. Everyday you are becoming a stronger person and an excellent mother to your baby. You are staying safe so that baby grows up with a mother. That is what you need to focus on right now. Let me deal with your ex and you focus on her.”

“I can’t do this anymore Ashlyn. I’m sorry. I am putting you and Kyle and everyone at risk for me and I can’t let that happen. I need to go and face this. I can’t hide anymore.”

“Please Ali. Just let me help you.” Ashlyn pleaded.

“Why are you so determined to help me Ashlyn? Why are you so afraid of me leaving?” Ali yells at her.

“BECAUSE I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU!” Ashlyn yelled back without thinking.

Ali stepped back, shocked at Ashlyn’s confession.

Ashlyn closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.

“I’m in love with you.” Ashlyn said more calmly. “I have been for a long time now, but I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid of pushing you away. You have been through so much Ali, and I didn’t want to add to your problems. I love you and I need you, and I need that little girl down the hall. I need you to be safe and maybe that’s me being selfish, but if anything ever happened to you or her I would never forgive myself. I know my timing sucks and I really hadn’t planned on telling you this, but I need you to know that I think of you as more then just my client. I want a future with you Ali. I want to see you raise that beautiful girl, and I want to be by your side when you do it. I have no expectations of you. I will help you no matter what. Even if you choose to walk out that door right now, I will still do what I have to, to make sure you are safe. I’m sorry I have kept this from you, but I didn’t want things to be awkward between us especially if you didn’t have feelings for me, and I didn’t want to put any pressure on you. You were already going through so much. So ya, that’s why I am afraid of you leaving. I’m in love with you.” Ashlyn laid it all out for Ali.

Ali stood there looking at Ashlyn in disbelief that this was actually happening right now.

“You don’t need to say anything Ali. I just wanted you to know. I…”Ashlyn was cut off by Ali throwing her arms around Ashlyn’s neck and bringing her down for the most intense kiss Ashlyn had ever experienced.

Ali pulled back from the kiss and looked at Ashlyn. “I’m in love with you too” She whispered to her and kissed her again.

The passion between the two was undeniable. They had both waited so long for this moment and maybe the timing wasn’t the best but there was no denying the love they felt for each other.

As things got more heated, Ali walked backwards pulling Ashlyn with her towards the bed not breaking the kiss. Ali got on the bed and kneeled in front of Ash. She pulled back a bit to look at Ashlyn. She pulled her in and leaned her forehead against Ashlyn’s. She started to unbutton Ashlyn’s shirt. Ashlyn could feel Ali’s hands shaking a bit. She put her hand on top of Ali’s to stop her from taking off her shirt.

“We don’t have to do this Ali. I love you and I will wait as long as you need.” She looked at Ali.

“I need you Ashlyn. I need to feel you. Please.” Ali said, trying to convey to Ashlyn how much she needed her.

Ashlyn let go of Ali’s hands and Ali continued to unbutton Ashlyn’s shirt. Ali reached into the shirt and up Ashlyn’s shoulders and slid the shirt off. Ashlyn moved her hands to the hem of Ali’s shirt and lifted. Ali lifted her arms so Ashlyn could slide the shirt off. Ashlyn laid Ali down on the bed. She got on the bed beside Ali and pulled her in for another intense kiss, the passion between them erupting.

“Make love to me Ash, please.” Ali moaned

Ashlyn undid Ali’s bra and removed it from her body tossing it to the floor. Her lips moving to Ali’s neck while her hand lightly brushed over her breast making her nipples hard, caressing with her hand as Ali arched her back off the bed. The feeling of Ashlyn’s hands on her was almost too much to bear. She had never felt anything like this before. She needed more. Ashlyn popped the button open on Ali’s pants. Ali lifted her hips and helped Ashlyn remove her pants. Ashlyn ran her hand up and down Ali’s thighs lightly while her lips explored Ali’s upper body.

Ashlyn moved carefully on top of Ali, and she began to grind. It still wasn’t enough for Ali. She needed to feel all of Ashlyn. She pushed Ashlyn onto her back and got on top. She undid Ashlyn’s pants and moved down so she could take them off. She removed her underwear and took Ashlyn’s off as well.

“You’re so gorgeous Ashlyn.” Ali whispered as she leaned down to kiss her and started to grind against her. The feeling of finally being with Ashlyn this way was like nothing she had ever felt before. Ashlyn flipped Ali onto her back and began to kiss Ali’s neck as she made her way down to Ali’s breasts. Ashlyn took Ali’s nipple into her mouth and began to flick it with her tongue. The sensation was almost too much for Ali. She felt like she was losing her mind. Ashlyn moved over to the other breast and continue the same action, while her hand made its way down Ali’s body to her core. Ashlyn could feel how worked up Ali was. She started rubbing small circles on Ali’s clit. Ashlyn made her way back up to Ali’s mouth and kissed her hard. It took Ali’s breath away. Ashlyn pulled back from the kiss and looked Ali in the eye.

“I love you” Ashlyn whispered and entered Ali’s core gently with two fingers.

Ali’s back arched off the bed. This was better than she had ever imagined. Ashlyn looked down at Ali. She loved seeing the look of pure pleasure on her face.

“You are so beautiful Ali.” Ash whispered in her ear as she continued to pump gently inside of Ali.

Ali opened her eyes and looked at Ashlyn. She had never felt so loved. She could feel herself start to lose control and within seconds she was trembling in Ashlyn’s arms as she experienced the most intense orgasm of her life.

“Oh my god baby, yes.” Ashlyn held Ali tight as she came down from her orgasm.

Ashlyn could feel Ali start to calm down and she pulled back to look at her. She saw tears falling from Ali’s eyes. She immediately started to panic.

“Did I hurt you?” Ash asked with concern in her voice.

“No, you didn’t hurt me.” Ali reached up and put her hand on Ashlyn’s cheek. “I am just so in love with you Ashlyn. I have never felt anything like that before in my life. You were so caring and gentle; it was something I haven’t had much experience with. I never knew I could feel this good. I have wanted this to happen for so long that I am scared if I close my eyes right now, I will wake up and this will all have been a dream.”

“This is not a dream Ali. I promise you that when you wake up in the morning, I am going to be right here beside you. I will be here every morning when you wake up from now on, if you want me to be.”

“I want you to be. I don’t ever want to be without you.”

Ashlyn rolled onto her back and pulled Ali halfway on top of her and held her in her arms.

“It’s been a long emotional day baby. Let’s get some sleep, ok? The little princess should be waking up for a feeding soon.” Ash said

“Ok.” Ali pulled into Ashlyn as tight as she could and drifted off to sleep quickly.

Ashlyn laid awake running her hand up and down Ali’s back until she finally started to get sleepy.

She was going to love this woman the way she deserved to be loved, was the last thought Ashlyn had before she finally drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Ali and Ashlyn woke up to the sound of the baby crying. Ali was about to get up to go get her, but Ashlyn stopped her.

“I’ll go. You wait here.” She gave Ali a quick kiss and got up and threw some clothes on and walked down the hall to the nursery.

“Hey there little princess.” Ash greeted her. “Are you hungry? Let’s get you changed, and I will take you to mommy.”

After Ashlyn changed Kyla, she went back down the hall towards Ali’s room. When she walked in, Ali was leaning against the headboard waiting for Ashlyn to bring her, her daughter. Ashlyn loved walking in and seeing Ali topless with the sheet pooled around her waist. It made her feel things.

Ashlyn handed the baby to Ali so she could feed her.

“Hi my sweet girl.” Ali took her daughter from Ashlyn. “Are you ready to eat baby?” She held Kyla in her arms as the baby latched onto her breast. Ashlyn laid down on the bed and watched Ali feed her daughter. Ali had always covered up before when she fed her Kyla, so Ashlyn had never been able to fully experience this moment. Ashlyn was so grateful to be here right now with them. She reached up and put her hand on Kyla’s head as Ali fed her, just to feel more connected to the mother and daughter.

Ali loved being able to experience this type of intimacy with Ashlyn. What they shared last night was amazing, but this moment right here, is what she wanted most. She smiled as Ashlyn placed her hand lightly on her daughter’s head. She loved how much Ashlyn loved her little girl.

When Kyla was done feeding, Ali handed her daughter to Ashlyn so she could burp her. Once she was done, Ashlyn laid the baby on the bed between her and Ali.

“I can’t believe she is over a month old already.” Ali said. “She’s growing up too fast. I want to savour this time with her as much as possible.”

“I know what you mean. I feel like we are going to blink, and she will be a teenager.” Ashlyn laughed.

“Bite your tongue Ash. I want her to be my baby forever.”

“Well maybe when she’s a little older, you might decide to have another baby.” Ash said

“Maybe…” Ali replied a little hesitantly

“You don’t sound too sure.”

“I always wanted a big family. I would love nothing more then to give my daughter a sibling one day, but right now, with everything so up in the air with my life, I don’t dare dream about things like that?”

“Why not?” Ash asked.

“I guess I just always thought this would be different. I would be married living in the suburbs with a partner I adored as much as they adored me. Someone to help me raise our children. I never imagined I would be doing this alone.” Ali replied trying to fight back the tears.

“You aren’t alone Ali.” Ashlyn reached across the bed and held Ali’s hand. “You have me.”

“Really?” Ali whispered

“Really. Ever since you walked into my life, I have felt this strong connection to you, and I found myself falling more in love with you everyday. I know our situation isn’t your typical, run of the mill relationship stories, but that doesn’t mean that our feelings aren’t real. I think I loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you and everyday since then, my love for you has grown. I want this with you Ali. I want you in my life. I want to be apart of your life. I want to love you right and give you the healthy loving relationship you deserve. I want us to build a life together and raise a family together. I love you Ali, you and Kyla are it for me.”

“I really love you. More then I have ever love anyone in my life, and not just because of what you are doing for me. You are the most loving, considerate, loyal, beautiful person I have ever met, and I want to be with you more then anything. You make me feel safe, and important, and loved. I feel so much stronger when you are around. You build me up so much, that I feel like I can take on anything or anyone. I want this..I want to be with you.” Ali said trying to convey to Ashlyn how important she was to her.

“I really love you too. You and this beautiful little girl. I want to be the one who makes all your dreams come true Ali. Your’s and Kyla’s. You two are the most important people in my life and I will do everything in my power to make sure your bad days are over.”

Ali leaned across the bed and kissed Ashlyn. Kyla reached up and grabbed Ali’s hair and started to pull.

Ali laughed as she untangled her daughters’ hands from her hair, “Oh, I see how it is now. You don’t want to see your mommies making out.” As soon as the word was out of her mouth, Ali started to panic. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. She had always thought about the possibly of raising her child with Ashlyn, and with everything that has happened in the last few hours, it was definitely at the top of her mind, but she hadn’t meant to say it. She figured this would be a conversation for down the road.

Ashlyn didn’t miss a beat. She pulled Ali back in and kissed her hard while holding Ali’s hair away from Kyla. Ashlyn could feel Ali calm down. She pulled back from the kiss and looked Ali in the eye with such love. She looked down at Kyla, “Too bad Kyla, because your mommies really like making out.”

She pulled Ali back into another kiss. They hadn’t discussed it, but they both felt it, and in that moment, it just felt right. They had a lot to talk about and figure out now that the status of their relationship had changed, but right now they were going to live in this moment and do what felt right and this felt right. They both waited along time to get to this point and now that they were here, neither one of them was willing to ever let the other go.

This was it.

Chapter Text

“Hey” Ali walks into Ashlyn’s home office a little nervous about the conversation she is about to have with her.

“Hey baby. What’s up?”

Ali smiles at the pet name. They have been together for a little over a week and it sometimes feels surreal to her still that Ashlyn is hers.

“I need to talk to you about something.” Ali replied

“Ok” Ash could tell Ali was nervous and she was starting to get a little nervous herself about what Ali wanted to discuss.

“Um…I don’t really know where to start. This is hard for me to talk about, but I need to talk to you about this because I need you to know everything. I feel like if I don’t tell you everything, that I am hiding things from you and that’s not how I want our relationship to be. But I also feel like if I tell you, that you will look at me differently and might not want to be with me.” Ali was struggling internally. She knew she needed to do this, but the thought that Ashlyn would look at her differently, was making her sick to her stomach.

Ashlyn got up from her desk chair and walked over to Ali taking her into her arms. “I promise you, no matter what you tell me, nothing could make me love you less.” She pulls back so she could look Ali in the eye. “You can tell me anything Ali, and I can promise I will be here when you finish. I want to know everything about you. Nothing you can say will make me walk away from you, ok?” Ashlyn reassured Ali.

Ali knew Ashlyn was sincere. The look Ashlyn was giving Ali, gave her the strength to say what she needed to say.

“I want to tell you about my marriage.” Ali said. “I want to tell you everything and not just the vague details I have been providing you with up until now.”

Ashlyn took Ali’s hand and led her to the small couch in her office. Ashlyn sat with her back against the arm of the sofa with her legs up. She guided Ali to sit between her legs as she held her tightly from behind.

“You take all the time you need baby. I will listen to every word you say no matter what you tell me. And when you are done telling me, I am going to love you with every ounce of my being just like I do right know. Nothing will ever change that.”

Ali felt completely surrounded by Ashlyn’s love. She knew this was going to be a hard conversation for both of them but feeling Ashlyn’s strong arms around her gave her the strength she needed to get through this.

“I met James when I was 19 when I started working at his company. We started dating about 6 months after I started working there and it was amazing. He treated me so well and took really good care of me. He made me feel special. He never gave me any reason not to trust him. Things started to change so gradually that I didn’t even really at first. Whenever I wanted to go out with my friends or do something without him, he would come up with some excuse that I needed to stay with him, or he would take me away on a surprise vacation. I didn’t even see it as a problem. I had never really been in a relationship before, so I never really questioned anything he did. When he asked me to marry him, I told my family I was getting married. I could tell they weren’t too pleased with my decision, but they held back any comments. I was a little sad that they weren’t happy for me. I told James and he said we should just elope. That way my family would be forced to accept our relationship. I was hesitant. I always dreamed of having a large beautiful wedding, but when I expressed my concerns to James, he accused me of not loving him and then I felt guilty, so I decided to go along with it. James told me I should text my family and friends after the ceremony to let them all know. Not one single person messaged me back to congratulate me. I was really upset. I tried calling my parents and Kyle and no one answered my calls. I tried all my friends. Nothing. No one responded to my messages. I felt alienated. All I had left in the world was James.” Tears started running down Ali’s face. Ashlyn held her tighter. Ali took a deep breath and continued.

“The first couple of months of our marriage were fine. He was still supportive and caring. It was about three months in that things started to change. James told me he wanted me to quit my job at his company. I didn’t want to. I loved working there and I liked the people I worked with. He basically told me to quit or I would be fired. He wanted us to start a family and didn’t want me to be working when that happened. I eventually agreed and I left. That’s when things got really bad. He started coming home late from work stinking like alcohol. When I would confront him about it at first, he told me he was at business meetings that ran late. But as time went on, the drinking got worse and so did his behavior. The first time he hit me, he got home around four in the morning and I waited up for him. I was mad. I laid into him the minute he walked through the door. That was a mistake. I saw a look in his eyes I had never seen before. He backed me into a wall and grabbed me by the neck. He told me to never question what he did. I was his wife. He didn’t have to answer to me. Then he slapped me, and I fell to the ground. He walked away and went to bed. I couldn’t believe that he had just done that. In that moment I realized how alone I was. I had no where to go if I walked out that door. James controlled all the money, so I couldn’t even go to a hotel. I fell asleep on the couch. The next morning when James got up, he found me on the couch. He asked me why I slept out there and not in our bed. I told him what he had done, and he told me that I deserved what I got for questioning him and told me that I better think twice before doing that again.”

Ali stopped. She adjusted so she could look at Ashlyn. She needed to know what she was thinking.

“Do you want to continue Ali?”

“I do, but I want to make sure you are ok.”

“Baby. I am here for you no matter what.”

“Ok.” Ali continued. “After that night, everything started to get even worse. Whenever he came home drunk, he would hit me. It got so bad, that I would hide if I knew he had been drinking. When he was drinking, he would physically abuse me. When he wasn’t drinking, he would mentally abuse me. I didn’t know what was worse. I ran away one time, but he found me. I didn’t get very far before his people located me and brought me home. I go the beating of my life that night. After that one, I was scared to run again because I thought he would kill me the next time. I lived in constant fear of this man. I was so broken, and I had no one to turn to. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, he started to sexually abuse me. When he came home drunk, he would force himself on me. At first, I tried to fight him off but eventually it just became easier for me to let him do it. The more I fought, the more it hurt, so I gave up. I was so broken. I felt like I had nothing left to live for. I was actually considering suicide. I had nothing to live for anymore. I was his prisoner. I hated him with every fiber of my soul. Just when I was about to give up, I found out I was pregnant. I now had a reason to fight again. I needed to get away, but I had nothing. No money, no car, no phone and most importantly, I had no one. It was the scariest feeling in the world. But I wanted my baby, Ash. I wanted to keep her safe, so I started to come up with a plan. I knew he had a trip to Canada coming up, so I knew I had to come up with a plan to get out while he was gone. I knew he would only be gone for one day, so I wouldn’t have much time. I had stumbled across some money in our closet one day when I was putting some laundry away. Now I just needed a vehicle. James had several vehicles but locked the keys away. We were out in the middle of no where so I knew if I ran, I wouldn’t get far enough before he realized I was gone. I was scared and just wanted to get away, and because I had been sheltered away from people for so long, I didn’t trust anyone. As soon as he was out the door, I grabbed the bag I had packed and ran out to the garage. I had seen vehicles being hotwired on tv before, so I hoped I would be able to hotwire at least one of the vehicles. The third vehicle I tried; I was able to get started. I cried as I drove away. I was so scared. I didn’t even know where I was going. I knew if anyone would help me it would be Kyle. He was my only chance to survive.”

“When I think back about everything that happened, I feel like I am watching a movie about someone else’s life. It almost doesn’t feel real to me anymore. I was so young and naïve. I let him take advantage of me because I didn’t know any better. I feel so stupid for letting it happen for so long.” Ali cried as Ashlyn held her.

“You aren’t stupid Ali. Don’t say stuff like that. What happened to you isn’t your fault. Your ex is the one at fault here. You felt trapped under the circumstances, but you got out and that is all that matters. You got out, and he will get what he deserves. This is not on you Ali. This should never have happened to you, or any person.”

“I just feel like I was so blind. How did I not see what he actually was?”

“Because he didn’t want you to see it. He was able to hide this part of himself until he felt he could easily manipulate you. He knows how to play people until he gets what he wants. I’m sure he will put on the performance of a lifetime when we face him in court, but I am prepared for that.”

Ali turned in Ashlyn’s arms and kissed her hard. “How did I ever get lucky enough to find you?”

“I am truly the lucky one Ali.” Ashlyn pulled Ali back in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

A few weeks after the divorce papers were sent to Ali’s ex-husband, Ash received word from the law firm in California that he was contesting the divorce. Ashlyn knew this was going to happen and had been prepared for this response since the beginning. She wasn’t sure how Ali was going to react to the news, but she was committed to keeping her promise to keep Ali in the loop on anything that was going on that pertained to her.

She walked into the kitchen and found Ali preparing dinner. She walked up behind her, wrapped her arms around Ali’s midsection and kissed her neck lightly.

“Keep that up and you won’t be getting dinner tonight.” Ali said jokingly.

“Promise?” Ash joked back while continuing to lightly press kisses to Ali’s neck.

Ali turned around in Ashlyn’s arms and pulled her down in a heated kiss. Ashlyn picked Ali up easily and lowered her to the counter. She stepped between Ali’s legs and started kissing her again deeply. Before they got too carried away, Ashlyn pulled back and pressed her forehead against Ali’s while trying to catch her breath.

“Why did you stop?” Ali asked. She could tell Ashlyn had something on her mind.

Ashlyn looked at Ali’s beautiful eyes. “I have to tell you something.”

“Ok” Ali said, curious as to what Ashlyn could possibly have to tell her to stop the intense make out session.

“Your ex-husband is contesting the divorce.”

“Of course, he is.” Ali sighed. “I’m really not surprised. I knew he wouldn’t let me go without a fight. He is probably not expecting me to fight him on this. I will not give into him at all. I want to walk away from this with my head held high. I want nothing from him. I just want this divorce.”

“I know baby. We will get you the divorce. That’s not the issue. The issue is that he is doing this to drag you out into the open so he can get to you. I hate that you are going to have to face this fucker. I don’t want him to ever lay eyes on you again.”

Ali smiled and kissed Ashlyn lightly on the lips. “I love how protective you are Ash. But I am ready to do this. I am ready to face my past so I can move on and have a future with you. I feel like I can deal with this stuff now. I’m not the same person who showed up on your doorstep. I am stronger mentally then I have ever been, and I have you to thank for that.”

“That’s all you baby. You are so much more then you give yourself credit for. All I did was give you shelter; you did all the rest on your own.”

“You are sweet to say that, but we both know you did more then just provide me with shelter. You are my rock. You have shown me what true love really looks like and that feeling makes me want to fight even harder to be the person you deserve.”

“You have always been that person Ali. You have always been a fighter, you just needed someone to tell you it was ok for you to fight.”

Ali leaned in and kissed Ashlyn hard. “I love you Ash.”

“I love you too baby.”

Ali jumped down from the counter and went about finishing dinner.

“Is my little princess sleeping?” Ashlyn asked.

“She is. She should be waking up soon though.”

Just then Ashlyn heard the baby crying through the baby monitor. She smiled “I’ll go get her.”

Ashlyn opened the door of the nursery and saw Kyla moving around. She approached her crib and reached in and lifted her out. Kyla smiled a little when she saw Ashlyn. Ashlyn knew she was in trouble with this kid when she smiled at her. She knew she would never be able to deny her anything.

After Ashlyn changed Kyla’s diaper, they headed out to the kitchen for dinner. Ali smiled when she saw her two loves walk into the kitchen together. She knew she would never tire of this scene.

Ali leaned over and kissed Kyla’s cheek. “Hi baby. Are you hungry?”

“I can finish up in here Al, if you want to feed her.” Ash offered.

“No, it’s ok. I warmed a bottle for her. Do you mind feeding her while I finish up?” Ali asked.

Ashlyn smiled. Feeding Kyla was one of her favorite things to do. Ashlyn took the bottle from Ali and went to sit in the living room off the kitchen. She cradled Kyla and gave her the bottle. She talked to Kyla as she ate. She asked her how her day was and was she a good girl for mommy. Kyla looked up at Ashlyn and smiled as she ate. Ali watched the two of them and her heart melted. She loved bonding with her daughter when she fed her, but she loved watching Ashlyn feed her even more. Watching them bond like this was everything to Ali. Ashlyn wasn’t legally Kyla’s Mom, but Ashlyn was every bit a mother to Kyla as Ali was. Ali could see the love she had for her daughter and knew Kyla was just as attached to Ashlyn. Her daughter would grow up having two parents who loved and adored her, and Ali couldn’t have asked for a better person to raise her children with.

Chapter Text

Ashlyn was working day and night to get everything sorted out for Ali’s upcoming court date. She was getting stressed that Ali was going to have to be in the same room with her ex-husband and that was giving her an uneasy feeling. She knew this was the only way they would be able to proceed with her divorce, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen.

It had been a couple of months since Ali and Ashlyn had confessed their feelings towards one another, and their relationship was thriving under the circumstances. Ashlyn had never been happier or more in love and she was determined that she was going to do everything in her power to give Ali and her daughter a great life. Unfortunately, this meant working endless hours to make sure she goes through every detail of Ali’s case as well as ensuring security is in place once her and Ali head for Washington.

Ashlyn got home a little later then normal that night and when she walked through the door, the lights were off, and the only light was from the candles that were forming a path through the house. Ashlyn followed the path out to the back patio and found Ali standing at the outside table in a beautiful red dress. She was stunning. Ashlyn made her way towards Ali without saying a word and pulled Ali into her. She leaned in and kissed Ali passionately. Ashlyn pulled back from the kiss and looked at Ali. Ashlyn could not believe that this stunning creature was hers.

“This is a nice surprise to come home to. What’s the occasion?” Ashlyn asks.

“There is no occasion. I just wanted to do something special for you. You have been working so hard lately, I wanted us to have a little time together alone.”

“What about our tiny princess? Is she on board with us having a little time together alone?” Ash smiled, knowing Kyla would probably be interrupting their alone time.

“Our tiny princess is spending the night at Becky’s house. We have the whole night to ourselves, with no interruptions.” Ali said as she ran her hand down the lapel of Ashlyn’s suit jacket.

“Well that sounds absolutely perfect.” Ashlyn leaned down and kissed Ali again.

Before things got too heated, Ali pulled back from the kiss. “I made you dinner. I thought we could sit out here tonight and eat.”

“That sounds great.”

Ashlyn pulled Ali’s chair out for her to sit down and gives Ali a chaste kiss before taking her seat.

Ashlyn sat across from Ali. “This looks amazing Ali. Thanks for doing this.”

“I wanted us to feel like a normal couple tonight. You have been working so hard lately, I wanted to do something extra special for you tonight to show you how much I love you.”

Ashlyn smiled and took reached across the table for Ali’s hand.

“I love you too. So much. This was really thoughtful. I am so lucky to have you.”

“I’m definitely the lucky one.” Ali smiled back at Ashlyn.

***

The two made small talk as they ate the meal that Ali had prepared. It was nice for both of them just to be able to sit back and enjoy each other without thinking about everything that was going on around them.

After dinner, Ashlyn cleaned up while Ali got the second part of her night ready.

Ali came into the kitchen and grabbed Ashlyn’s hand. She led her to the ensuite attached to their bedroom. The room was glowing with candles and Ali had prepared a bath for the two of them.

“This looks amazing Ali.” Ash said as she looked around and saw the effort that Ali had gone through to make the room perfect.

Ali moved into Ashlyn’s space and began unbuttoning her shirt. Ash watched Ali intently as she undressed her. After getting Ashlyn’s shirt and bra off, she went to work on her pants. She unbuttoned her slacks and slowly pulled them down Ashlyn’s legs. Ashlyn stepped out of them once Ali had reached her feet. Ali stood back up and put her hands in Ashlyn’s boxers grabbing her ass and pulling her closer. She kissed Ashlyn lightly, then began to remove Ashlyn’s boxers the same way she took off her pants. Once Ashlyn was removed of all her clothing, Ali instructed her to get into the tub. Ashlyn followed Ali’s instructions and sank into the tub.

Ali started to remove her own clothes slowly as Ashlyn watched her. Ashlyn was enjoying the little show that Ali was putting on for her. She was getting a little overheated in the water watching her love slowly tease her as she removed her clothing. Ashlyn couldn’t take her eyes off of Ali. Ali loved the way Ashlyn looked at her. It filled her with confidence and made her feel beautiful and loved.

Once Ali had rid herself of her clothes, she joined Ashlyn in the tub. She sat in front of Ashlyn between her legs. Ashlyn held Ali in her arms once she was settled in front of her.

“This is perfect. Thank you Ali for doing this.”

“I really didn’t do anything. All I did was light a few candles and fill the tub with water.” Ali replied

“Regardless. It means a lot that you would do this. I feel so relaxed right now.”

“Good. I want you to feel relaxed. I know how hard you have been working, so I wanted to take care of you.”

“Well you are doing a really good job.” Ashlyn kissed Ali’s neck.

“Mmmm. That feels so good Ash.”

“I plan on making you feel even better when we get out of this tub.” Ashlyn whispered in her ear.

“I really like the sound of that.”

They stayed in the tub until the water started to go cold and decided to get out. Ashlyn got out first and helped Ali out of the water after. Ashlyn wrapped Ali in a giant bath towel and helped her dry off. Once she was dry, Ashlyn lifted Ali into her arms bridal style and carried Ali to their bed and laid her down gently.

Ashlyn moved gently on top of Ali. “You are so beautiful Ali.” Ash whispered as she leaned in and kissed Ali with everything she had in her. Everything around them disappeared. This moment was just for them. Connecting themselves to one another. They have all night to enjoy one another and they plan on taking advantage of this rare opportunity.

Ashlyn’s tongue slides into Ali’s mouth and Ali lets out a moan, her fingers lightly tracing the muscles of Ashlyn’s back. Ali’s body is on fire. She grabs Ashlyn’s ass trying to get more pressure to where she needs it most.
Ashlyn gently presses her lips to Ali’s neck. It’s not long before Ali wants more. She thrusts her hips up trying to get more friction, but Ashlyn moves her hips away from Ali and starts moving down Ali’s body with her tongue from Ali’s neck down to her breast and takes a nipple between her teeth before drawing circles around it with her tongue. The way Ashlyn is teasing Ali, is almost too much for her to bear. She wants to feel more of Ashlyn. Ali’s heart rate is spiking. Ashlyn’s touch is sending waves of electricity through Ali’s body. Ali can barely focus as her mind is foggy with need. Every touch sending her closer to the edge.

“Please Ashlyn” Ali whispers a slightly urgent plead.

Ashlyn’s hand trails down Ali’s chest and she can feel Ali’s fingers pressing into her back. Her hand finally finds the warmth of Ali’s folds and she can feel how worked up she has gotten Ali. Her fingers lightly tease Ali’s clit, their eyes locked on each other, each trying to ingrain this moment in their memory.

Ashlyn gently enters Ali with two fingers. Ali moans loudly as Ashlyn begins pumping inside of her. Ali’s body vibrates as the energy builds inside her. Just when she is about to go over the edge, Ashlyn pulls out of her. She groans her disapproval. Suddenly she feels Ashlyn moving down her body, kissing her the whole way down. Ashlyn settles herself between Ali’s legs. She swipes her tongue gently over Ali’s clit and Ali’s sure she’s never felt anything this intense before.

Ashlyn’s tongue glides gently through Ali’s fold. She sucks Ali’s clit into her mouth. Ali thrusts her hips up at the sensation. Ashlyn moves her arm over Ali’s hips to hold her down. Ashlyn looks up at Ali. She is gripping the sheets with her eyes screwed shut as Ashlyn swirls her tongue over her hard clit. Ashlyn smiles into Ali’s core. She loves seeing the look of pleasure on Ali’s face. Ashlyn thrusts her tongue into Ali and that sends her over the edge. Ashlyn gently brings Ali down from her orgasm. She crawls back up Ali’s body leaving a trail of kisses along the way. When she reaches Ali’s lips, Ashlyn kisses her hard. Tasting herself on Ashlyn. It somehow made her feel more connected to her. Ashlyn pulled back a little to look at Ali and make sure she was ok.
“Are you ok?” Ashlyn asked her.

“That was fucking amazing.” Ali replied, while still trying to catch her breath.

Ashlyn smiled.

“You have no idea what you do to my body Ash.”

“Oh, I think I might.” Ashlyn said with a smug look on her face.

“Well I was going to show you what I could do to your body, but since you seem pretty cocky right now, I guess you can take care of yourself.” Ali said trying to sound serious.

Ashlyn eyes got wide.

Ali laughed.

“Well since this is your night, I guess I can help you out.”

Ashlyn swiped the imaginary sweat from her forehead. She loved the way Ali touched her. They had only made love a couple of times since being officially together, but Ashlyn cherished every second of being able to share herself with Ali. Ali had never been with a woman before, but she learned fast and she made Ashlyn feel things she had never felt before.

Ali rolled Ashlyn onto her back and kissed her. She slipped her tongue in Ashlyn’s mouth and deepened the kiss. She ran her hand down Ashlyn’s rib cage and raked her fingernails along Ashlyn’s side when she brought her hand back up. This made Ashlyn moan. Ali did this a few more times to get Ashlyn really worked up. Ashlyn was losing her mind. She loved feeling Ali’s fingernails raking along her body. It turned her on so much.

“I want you so bad baby.” Ashlyn whispered.

Ali slips two fingers deep into Ashlyn’s core. Ashlyn thrust her hips up to give Ali more access. This feeling was blowing Ashlyn’s mind. She was really worked up and knew she wouldn’t last long.

Ali was alternating between thrusting her fingers deep into Ashlyn and sliding them out along her pulsing clit. Ali knows Ashlyn is close. She slides two fingers back into Ashlyn and curls them inside her hitting Ashlyn in just the right spot.

“Oh, fuck, yes baby” Ashlyn screamed. “Right there…I’m coming” Ashlyn rode out the orgasm as long as she could. It felt amazing having Ali inside her.

After Ashlyn had started to calm down, Ali pulled out of her and lays on top of Ashlyn so she can listen to her heart beating. They lay silently holding each other.

“I am really in love with you Ashlyn.” Ali broke the silence after a few minutes.

Ashlyn ran her hand through Ali’s hair, “I am really in love with you too Ali. So much.”

Ali looked up at Ashlyn. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Ashlyn smiled at Ali. “I do too.” Ashlyn whispered back.

Ali leaned down and kissed Ashlyn hard. Their confession to one another led to another intense round of love making, exhausting them both. They fell asleep in each others arms feeling a sense of reassurance about their future together.

Chapter Text

Ashlyn sat at her desk and re-read the email that was sent to her from the attorney handling Ali’s divorce from California.

Ali’s husband has agreed to sign the divorce papers and grant Ali the divorce keeping them out of court, only if she agrees to meet with him one on one. Ashlyn knew this was his attempt at getting Ali out of hiding and a chance for him to take Ali and run. This was a bad idea. One she didn’t want to share with Ali because it was such a bad idea, but she made a promise to Ali that she would tell Ali everything that was going on. Ashlyn had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach that Ali was going to agree to do this. The thought of Ali alone in a room with this monster was making Ashlyn feel sick to her stomach. How would she be able to protect Ali, if she couldn’t keep an eye on her.

Ashlyn was deep in thought when Ali walked into her office.

“Hey baby.” Ali said walking over to Ashlyn sitting at her desk. “Everything ok? You look upset about something.”

Ashlyn looked at Ali trying to figure out how to approach this subject.

“Uh…ya, I’m ok.” Ash responded.

Ali knew something was bothering Ashlyn. “Baby, what’s wrong?” She sat on the edge of the desk in front of Ashlyn and waited for her to reply.

“I got an email this morning from the law firm in California.”

“Is everything ok?” Ali asked.

“Kind of. Your ex-husband has agreed to the divorce…”

“That’s great.” Ali said cutting Ashlyn off.

“On one condition.” Ash finished her sentence.

Ali knew it wouldn’t be that easy. “What’s the condition?”

“He wants to meet with you alone to discuss the divorce. No one else can be present in the meeting. It would be just the two of you.”

“Oh.” Ali looked down at the floor.

“I don’t think this is a good idea Ali. We can proceed with the divorce as planned and limit your contact with your ex-husband. I think that would be the best option for you.”

“But if I agree to this, it will speed the process of my divorce up. I could be free of him a lot sooner?” Ali asked.

“Well ya, but it would mean that you would be putting yourself in harms way to do that and I don’t think that would be the best option.”

“What exactly would I have to do? Could we arrange to meet in a public building like a police station or courthouse? Somewhere with extra protection?” Ali asked.

“He wants you to meet him at his home in Washington.”

Ali felt like she might throw up. She never wanted to step foot inside that house again. The thought of possibly having to go back there scared her more then anything. She wanted this divorce to happen quickly, but she didn’t know if she would be able to do this. This might be more then she could handle.

Ashlyn could see that Ali was struggling with this. She stood up and pulled Ali into her arms.

“Baby, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You never have to step foot into that house again. We will still get you a divorce, it will just take a little more time. I will never make you do anything you are uncomfortable doing.”

“I think I want to do this Ash.” Ali replied.

Ashlyn pulled back from Ali “What? Why?” Ashlyn couldn’t believe Ali was considering this. “I can’t let you do this Ali. If you walk into that house, I will have no control over what happens to you and I can’t let that happen.”

“Ash, if I go and do this, my divorce will be final. It will be over, and I can move on with my life. He doesn’t have the control he once had over me. I am not that person anymore Ashlyn. I can handle this.”

Ashlyn felt like crying. She could not send Ali into that house. God only knows what that monster has planned for her. She knew she would be sending Ali into a trap and all of her instincts were telling her to not let Ali do this.

“Ali, I can’t let you do this. You won’t be safe. This is some sick game he is playing, and god only knows what he has planned. Do you honestly think that he will just let you walk out of that house? If you walk in there Ali, I won’t be able to help you. I need you to be safe Ali. I will never be able to forgive myself if anything happened to you. Please don’t do this.”

“I just want this to be over Ash. I want to move on. I want to start building our life together and I can’t fully commit to that with this hanging over me. I have no desire to walk back into that house, but if I do this, then we can start to move forward. I know what he is capable of, but I feel like I can handle him now.”

“Ali, who’s to say what you are even walking into. You don’t know where his head is at. He might be thinking if he can’t have you, then no one can. There is no way of knowing what he plans to do once you are inside that house Ali. What if he hurts you, or worse? Do you want our daughter to grow up without her mother? I can’t believe you would even be considering this. Do you even care about what it would do to me or Kyla if we lost you?” Ashlyn was getting upset that they were even having this conversation. She never would have thought that Ali would consider this as an option. “I need some air.” Ashlyn walked past Ali and out the front door. She got in her car and drove away.

Ali stood in Ashlyn’s office a little shocked at what had just happened. Ashlyn had never walked away from her before. She knew she had screwed up. She knew that going into that house alone with her ex-husband was reckless, but she just wanted this to be over. She didn’t want to be tied to this man anymore. She wanted to be only Ashlyn’s and she was blinded by that need. She felt like such a fool for even considering going to that house. Ashlyn was right. She had no way of knowing what was waiting for her when she got there. She did not come this far to throw it all away on some stupid selfish move that may end up getting her killed in the end. She grabbed the phone in Ashlyn’s office and tried calling Ashlyn. She didn’t answer.

***

It was dark when Ashlyn returned to the house. She had driven to the beach to be alone and think. She had cooled down considerably and was feeling bad about walking out on Ali like she did. She was getting worked up during their conversation and she just needed some space to sort out her thoughts.

She walked in the house and found Ali sitting in the lounge by herself. It was obvious she had been crying. The sight broke Ashlyn’s heart because she knew she was the reason Ali had been crying. Ashlyn walked over to Ali and sat beside her on the sofa. She took Ali’s hand in her own. “I’m sorry.” They said at the same time. They both smile.

“I should not have left you like I did Ali. I should have stayed and talked to you, but I felt like I wasn’t getting through to you and the thought of you being alone with your ex…it…I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. I needed to walk away and think. But I shouldn’t have done that, and I’m sorry.”

“I’m the one that is sorry Ashlyn. I don’t even know what I was thinking. You have done everything you can to keep me safe and I was willing to throw all of that away because I was feeling a little impatient. You deserve better than that from me, and I should have thought about how my actions would affect you and our daughter. I really am sorry baby. I would never do anything to hurt you. I just want this to be over.” Ali cried. Ashlyn pulled Ali into her arms and held her.

“I know you want this over Ali, and I know how much this is weighing on you. I am doing everything I can to speed things up, unfortunately somethings are out of my hands. No matter how long this takes, we will always have each other. Nothing will ever change that. We are together and we have our little girl and that is all that matters.”

“I know. I just wasn’t thinking clearly. I saw a possible end to all of this, and I jumped at it. I promise not to make reckless decisions like that anymore. I know it was stupid to even consider that as an option.”

Ashlyn pulled back from the hug and gave Ali a quick kiss on the lips. “Did you eat?”

“No. I wasn’t hungry.” Ali replied

Ashlyn furrows her brow at Ali. “You know I will never leave you, right?”

“I was scared that I pushed you away.” Ali started to cry again.

“Disagreements in a relationship are normal Ali. I’m sure we will have more. But that doesn’t mean we stop loving each other.”

“I guess I have some things to learn about being in a healthy relationship. I’m used to expecting the worst. This unconditional love thing is new to me.”

Ashlyn smiles at Ali “I do love you, unconditionally, and I want you to know that your opinion matters to me. I never want you to feel like you can’t say something to me because you are worried about how I will react. I may not always like what is said, but it will never change the way I feel about you.”

Ali leaned in and kissed Ashlyn lightly. “Thank you for loving me.”

“I will always love you baby.” Ashlyn pulls her back in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

After months of waiting for a court date for Ali’s divorce, they finally got a date scheduled and Ali and Ashlyn would be flying to Washington DC the following morning.

Ali laid awake staring at Ashlyn sleeping next to her. She was extremely nervous about heading to Washington in the morning, but she knew that she would be ok as long as she had Ashlyn. She reached over and touched Ashlyn’s cheek softly. She hated waking her up, but right now she needed her comfort. Ashlyn woke up to Ali’s soft touch. She could see the look of unease in Ali’s eyes. She reached her hand up behind Ali’s head and pulled her into a heated kiss. They had a long, exhausting road ahead of them, but in this moment, it didn’t matter. They made love well into the night. The feeling of being together like this was comforting for both of them.

The next morning Ashlyn and Ali headed to the airport with her security team. She had hired a private jet to fly them to Baltimore. From there, they would drive the rest of the way to Washington. Ashlyn figured Ali’s ex-husband might be staking out the airport in Washington, and she didn’t want to take any chances.

The flight took just over 2 hours. Emily had arranged the ground transportation once they arrived in Baltimore. Emily had joined them for the drive to Washington, so she could escort them to the safe house she had set up while they were in town.
For safety reasons they decided to leave Kyla in Orlando with Becky. They didn’t want to take the chance of Ali’s ex-husband finding out about the baby. Ali was desperately missing her little girl as she sat in the bedroom of the safe house looking at the pictures on Ashlyn’s phone.

Ashlyn walked into Ali’s bedroom and found her girlfriend on the bed looking sad. Ashlyn knew that being away from Kyla would be hard for Ali. She had arranged to Facetime with Becky and the baby as much as they could over the next few days. Ashlyn is hoping the divorce won’t take long, but she has a feeling that James is going to go out of his way to prolong the divorce in an attempt to keep Ali in Washington as long as possible.

Ashlyn walks over to Ali and sits down beside her. She takes the phone from Ali’s hand and pulls Ali into her. She holds Ali as she cries. It’s breaking Ashlyn’s heart that Ali is struggling so much being away from their daughter.
“I am going to do everything I can, Ali, to get you home to our girl.” Ashlyn whispers in Ali’s ear.

Ali doesn’t reply. She just cries harder, so Ashlyn holds her tighter.

***

 

The next morning, Ali is on the verge of a panic attack. This will be the first time she will see her ex-husband since the day she ran away. The anxiety she was feeling was intense and she was desperately trying to calm herself down. She knew that Ashlyn and Kelly would do everything to keep her safe, but she was still scared. She didn’t know what to expect when they walked into the courthouse in a couple of hours and Ali hated not feeling in control of this situation. She wanted this divorce more then anything, but right now, all she could think about was running.

Ashlyn walked into Ali’s room to get her to take her to the courthouse. She knew Ali was struggling with what was about to happen and she wished more then anything that she could take care of this part without involving Ali, but unfortunately, Ali needed to be in court.

She took Ali’s hands in hers and could feel her girlfriend shaking. She pulled her into her and hugged her trying to calm her girlfriend down. Ali relaxed a little. She drew strength from Ashlyn. She knew as long as Ashlyn was there, everything was going to be ok.

As they drove to the courthouse, Ali held Ashlyn’s hand. Her emotions were all over the place. She wanted this to all be over so she could get home to her baby. Nothing else really mattered to her right now.

It was hard for Ashlyn to watch Ali go through this. All she could do was sit back and support Ali emotionally right now. This was going to be a long hard and emotional journey for Ali. Ashlyn could only hope that everything goes well. She wished she didn’t have this nagging feeling in her gut that something was going to happen. She had dealt with men like Ali’s ex-husband before. Rich, entitled assholes who felt they were above the law. Men who felt that women were the weaker sex and were more like property to them than actual human beings. Ashlyn felt confident that she could handle this man. And when this was all over, her and Ali could return home and start a life together never having to think about this man again.

 

They pull up to the courthouse and Ali took a deep breath. This was it. Kelly got out of the front passenger seat and opened the door for Ashlyn and Ali to get out.

Ali got out of the SUV and straightened her dress. When she looked up, she saw Kyle and Heather barreling towards her. Ali was ecstatic that her brother and her friend had shown up to support her. It meant everything to Ali. Having them there gave Ali the boost of confidence she needed to get through this. Heather knew what Ali was going through, because she lived through it, and that gave Ali the strength she needed to get through this.

Kelley, Ashlyn, Ali, Heather and Kyle walked up the steps of the courthouse together followed by Megan, Julie, Sydney and Hope. Emily stayed with the vehicle just in case.

They walked down the hall to the courtroom. When they got to the door, Ashlyn turned around to face Ali.

“You’ve got this Ali. I am so incredibly proud of how far you have come. No one can ever take that away from you, so let’s go in there and take your life back.”

Ali smiled at Ashlyn. “Let’s do this.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn opened the door and the group made there way inside. Ali held her head up high as she walked into the room. She knew whatever happened today, she was leaving here with the people she loved the most in the world.
Ali looked at the front of the courtroom and she saw her ex-husband watching her. It sent a chill through her veins. Ali wanted to walk over and slap the smug look off of his face. She loathed this man and hated being in the same room with him. She gave him a hard look then looked away. She didn’t even want to give him the time of day.

James stood up from his chair and was about to approach Ali. Ashlyn blocked him from walking over to her. “I suggest you sit down.” She snarled at him.
James gave Ashlyn a smug look and put his hands up and backed off.

He leaned a little so he could look past Ashlyn to see Ali.

“You can’t hide behind these people forever Alexandra.”

Ashlyn stepped to the side to block his view. “My client has nothing to say to you.” His attorney walked over and grabbed James by the arm and led him back to their table. They sat down and the attorney whispered something in his ear. Ashlyn assumed he was telling James to keep his cool.

"Family Court is now in session with the honorable Judge Wallace presiding. All rise!"

All the spectators in the room rose to their feet, as a door to the right of the courtroom opened and an older woman in black robes sat behind the bench.
"Be seated!" The judge turned to the bailiff and asked to have the first case called.

"Harper vs. Harper. Our first case involves the divorce proceedings of Alexandra Harper vs. James Harper! Would the plaintiff and defendant please approach?"

Ali and Ash, and James and his attorney stood up and made their way to the front of the courtroom and sat at the opposing tables.

Ashlyn stood up and began addressing the judge. "Your honor, my client Alexandra Harper is suing for divorce on the grounds of mental and physical abuse. She seeks to dissolve the marriage of 7 years. She does not seek any alimony or other spousal assets. This proceeding has dragged on for months and we feel that is unreasonable. The only reason that we are in court today is because the defendant, James Harper, has refused to sign the final divorce papers.”

“Your honor, it's clear from Mr. Harper’s actions that he is creating unreasonable roadblocks in an attempt to stall the divorce. Thus, we would like to petition the court for a court-mandated dissolution of the marriage, without the need for Mr. Harper’s signature. You will find everything in order and that the year-long separation has also been maintained, thus we feel that we no longer need Mr. Harper’s signature. My client would like to put this difficult episode behind her and move on with her life. We will also be seeking a restraining order against Mr. Harper. Thank you."

The judge turned to James’ attorney, "Mr. Kapler, do you have a statement on behalf of your client?" With those words, James turned towards Ali, hoping to catch her attention. However, she would not look at him. This irritated him. He wanted this nonsense to be over so he could take his wife and get out of here. This was a waste of time for him. He would make Ali pay for wasting his time like this.

James’ attorney rose to make his statement. "Your honor, my client felt that if he could talk to his wife, that they could work this misunderstanding out and they could fix their marriage. My client has offered to meet with his wife to discuss the matter outside of court, but she has refused his request, so my client was left with no choice but to not sign the divorce papers until he had a chance to speak to his wife.”

“Did your client refuse to meet with her husband to discuss the marriage?” The judge asks Ashlyn.

“Yes, your honor. Mr. Harper requested that my client meet him alone at his home. She left because she was being abused and she feared for her life, and felt that it was in her best interest not to meet with her husband under his conditions.” Ashlyn replied

“My client feels that if he could have a moment with his wife in private that he would be able to convince her to save the marriage. Mr Harper has admitted that he would get upset with his wife and they would get into disagreements, but he never laid a hand on her.” James’ lawyer said. “He is willing to undergo marriage counselling with his wife to fix the problems they are having.”

“My client has no interest in saving this marriage. She was abused for years by the defendant...”

“I never laid a hand on her!” James yelled.

This was what Ashlyn was hoping for. She wanted to get under his skin, because she knew he would snap and show his true self.

James’ lawyer pulled his client to sit back down in his chair.

“You need to control your client Mr. Kapler. I will not allow outbursts like that in this courtroom.”

“My apologies your honor.” James’ attorney leaned into James and told him to calm down.

Ashlyn could see that James was getting angrier by the second. She knew if she kept pressing the issue that Ali was not going with him, she would get him to snap. “As I was saying your honor, my client has no interest in continuing with the marriage as the defendant is unstable and she fears for her life.”

“You should be fucking afraid Alexandra! You belong to me, and I will get you back, just you wait.” James got up from the table and ran towards Ashlyn. “I’ll make you pay; you fucking dyke.”

James went to grab Ashlyn. She grabbed his wrist and swung him around and got his arm twisted around his back. She threw him to the ground and put her knee in his back to hold him down.

James was squirming on the ground trying to break the hold Ashlyn had on him. The Bailiff ran over and cuffed James and stood him up. The judge ordered the bailiff to put James in a holding cell while they continued.

"Your client obviously has some severe anger issues Mr. Kapler. I am holding him in contempt, and he will need to pay a fine of $100,000 for that little stunt he just pulled” The judge informs James’ lawyer. The lawyer nodded. He warned James that this would happen if he couldn’t control his anger.

“I am unwilling to delay this matter any further. It’s evident that this marriage is not salvageable. What is your maiden name Mrs Harper?”

“It’s Krieger, your honor.” Ali replied
“I am ruling in favor of Ms Krieger. This marriage is hereby considered dissolved. There will be no distribution of marital assets as per your request.
Each party will take out of the marriage, what they brought into it.”

With that, she pounded her gavel on the podium and asked the bailiff for the next case.

Ali was officially divorced.

Chapter Text

The group left the courthouse and made their way to the vehicle where Emily was waiting. They piled into the car and Emily drove off.

“I can’t believe that actually just happened. I am free!” Ali exclaimed excitedly.

She hugged Ashlyn and cried tears of joy into her shoulder.

“You did it baby.” Ash whispered in her ear.

Emily drove them all back to the safe house. She drove around a little bit to make sure they weren’t being followed by any of James’ people. When she saw the coast was clear, she made her way back to the house.

The group headed inside and spent the evening together before heading off to bed.

“When can we go home?” Ali asked Ashlyn.

“Soon baby. We just have one more thing to do before we head home.”

“What’s that?” Ali asked.

“You will find out tomorrow.”

“Ugh…seriously? Come on. Tell me.” Ali pleaded.

“You will find out soon enough sweetheart.” Ash said. “You have had a very long, emotionally draining day, my love. Let’s get some rest.”

Ali and Ashlyn climbed into bed together and Ashlyn held Ali as she laid half on top of her. Ashlyn was about to fall asleep when Ali spoke.

“Thank you, Ashlyn. Thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for loving me.”

“I would do anything for you Ali, and you never have to thank me for loving you. It’s the easiest thing I have ever done in my life.” Ashlyn kisses the top of Ali’s head and they finally drift off to sleep.

The next morning, the group heads to the airport. Ali wasn’t sure what Ashlyn was up to, but she was getting a little antsy to see her daughter and was hoping whatever this surprise was, that she would be with her daughter soon.
Kyle was flying with them wherever it was that they were going, so Ali was happy to have the extra time with her brother.

They could not have been in the air for longer then an hour before Ali could feel the plane starting to descend. There was no way they were back in Florida yet. Ali was really confused now.

Once the plane landed, Ali could see that they were in New York. She could not figure out why Ashlyn had brought her here.

“Why are we here Ashlyn?” Ali asked.

“You will see soon enough.” Ashlyn said with a little smirk on her face.

They got into a limo that was waiting for them and they drove off. Ali was getting anxious. She had no idea what was going on. She wanted to be excited, but the past few days had drained her mentally and all she could focus on was her baby girl. Ashlyn could tell that Ali was starting to feel a bit on edge. She took her hand and kissed her knuckles.

“I promise you that you have nothing to worry about, ok?” Ash said trying to comfort her girlfriend.

“Ok.” Ali offered her a small smile.

A few minutes later, they pulled up to the Plaza Hotel. Ali was really confused now. Why would Ashlyn bring her here? She just wants to go home and see her daughter. She was a little irritated but tried her best to just go with it.

Ashlyn walks up to the counter to check them in, while Ali and Kyle hung back and waited.

“Are you ok Alex?” Kyle Asked.

“I’m trying to be Kyle. As much as I want to know what Ashlyn has planned, I just want to see my baby. I want to go home, but I don’t want to ruin this for Ashlyn.”

“Everything will be fine Alex. Trust your girlfriend, ok.” Kyle said, trying to comfort Ali a bit.

Ali nods at Kyle and puts a smile on her face when Ashlyn comes over.

“Let’s head up.” Ashlyn says. She grabs Ali hand and leads her to the elevator.

They go all the way to the top and get off at the penthouse.

The exit the elevator into a beautiful suited room overlooking Central Park.

“This is beautiful Ashlyn.” Ali said as she walked over to the window to have a better look of the view.

“Not as beautiful as you are.” Ashlyn said as she walked up behind her.

“Ugh…gross.” Kyle said as he pretended to throw up.

Ali laughed. Ashlyn just rolled her eyes at him.

“We should check out the rest of this place Alex. It’s huge!” Kyle said as he pulled Ali along with him.

They walked around checking out every room. When they get to the Master Suite, Kyle pushes Ali towards Ashlyn. “You can show her this room yourself stud.” Kyle laughed as Ashlyn took Ali’s hand and walked her towards the door. Ali opened the door and was about to walk in, when the sight in front of her stopped her in her tracks. On the bed, Whitney was sitting with Kyla fast asleep in her arms. Ali started to cry and walk towards her daughter.

Whitney handed the baby over to Ali and left the room to give them some privacy.

“Do you really think I would make you wait another second longer than necessary to see our daughter?” Ashlyn asked.

Ali held her daughter in her arms and looked up at Ashlyn with tears in her eyes.

“Thank you Ashlyn.” Ali cried.

Ashlyn walked over and held Ali and Kyla in her arms. She loved seeing Ali this happy and she would spend the rest of her life trying to make everyday as special as this one.

After everyone had settled in, Ashlyn decided they should order some room service. She called down and ordered some food.

While they waited for the food to come, they played with Kyla and enjoyed watching Kyle meet his niece in person for the first time. Kyle was instantly in love with the little girl. She was every bit her mother’s daughter and it melted Kyle to see how good of a mother Ali was. He was so thankful that they were here now and enjoying their time together as a family.

Ashlyn got a call that the food was on it’s way up, so she asked Ali if she could get the food settled while she changed Kyla’s diaper. Ali went over to the elevator doors and waited for the food. When the doors opened, Ali could not believe her eyes. She started to cry again.

“Mom, Dad?” She said and ran to her parents open arms.

Chapter Text

Ali felt like she was dreaming. She couldn’t believe that she was holding both of her parents right now.

“I can’t believe you are here.” Ali said through her tears.

“We are here my sweet girl. We missed you so much.” Ali’s mother said as she held her daughter tight.

Ali’s father pulled back from his daughter “We are so sorry Alex.” He said to her as he held her face in his hands. “We should have tried harder to get you away from that man. I knew in my gut that he was not a good man, but I stayed out of it because I just wanted you to be happy and I failed you Alex. I should have stepped in and I didn’t.”

“You have never failed me Dad. I didn’t see what he really was for a very long time and if you had tried to step in, I would have thought you were crazy. This is not on you, ok? I made the decision to marry him and I let him alienate me from my family and friends. This is on me. I never want you guys to think that you are at fault for anything that happened.”

“The important thing is that you are away from him and you are safe.” Ali’s mom said.

“I am safe, and I am incredibly happy. I missed you guys so much.”

“We missed you too Alex, more then you could possibly know.” Ali’s mom replied.

Ali led her parents into the living room of the hotel.

Ashlyn walked up to Ken and Deb, Ali’s parents, and held out her hand.

“Mr and Mrs Krieger, it is so nice to finally meet you.”

Ken pushed Ashlyn’s hand away and pulled Ashlyn into a bone crushing hug.

“Thank you for helping her.” Ken said trying to hold back his emotions. He was so grateful for everything Ashlyn had done for his daughter.

“Of course.” Ashlyn pulled back from the hug and looked the man in the eye.

Kyle, who was holding Kyla, got up from his chair and walked over to his parents. “Would you like to meet your granddaughter?” He asked.

Deb’s hands went to her mouth and she started to cry. She was speechless. She walked over to Kyle and held out her arms to take Kyla from him. She was instantly in love.

“She is so beautiful Alex.” Deb finally said. She could not take her eyes off the baby.

Ken walked over to his wife and granddaughter and put a hand on his wife’s back to comfort her. He put his hand up to Kyla’s cheek and looked at his granddaughter. There were no words for what he was feeling right now. He had his daughter back and a little granddaughter that looked exactly like her mother did as a baby. All the emotions he had been feeling broke through and Ken broke down and started crying. He was not one for showing his emotions, but under the circumstances, there was no way he could hold back his tears.

Ali walked over to comfort her father. “It’s ok Dad. I know this is a lot. I am so sorry for the pain and hurt I caused you both.”

Ken hugged his daughter, “We have you back and that’s all that matters. The past is the past Alex. We can’t change what has happened. I want us all to move forward and enjoy being together as a family again. I don’t want to spend another second on regrets. We have our family back. That’s what I want to focus on.”

“That’s what I want too dad. No more regrets.”

***

As the group settled in, Ken asked Ashlyn to go with him so he could grab some things from his vehicle. Ali suspected that her father wanted to spend some time alone with Ashlyn to find out more about her. Ali wasn’t surprised. She assumed her father would go into overprotective mode now that she was back in his life, but she couldn’t blame him. She knew Ash would be able to handle anything her dad threw at her, so she wasn’t worried about her girlfriend being alone with her dad.

When Ken and Ashlyn left, Kyle took Kyla to the bedroom to give Ali and Deb a chance to talk.

“How are you really doing honey?” Deb asked.

“I am doing better everyday mom. Things have really changed for me in the past year and I can honestly say I have never been this happy in my life. I know that things are still up in the air and I know that I am still going to have to worry about James, but just knowing that I am no longer legally attached to him anymore, is such an amazing feeling. I feel hopeful for my future for the first time in years.” Ali answered honestly.

“Are you worried that James will find out about Kyla?”

“Everyday I worry what will happen if he finds out about her. Ashlyn told me that if he does find out about her, he will likely file for parental rights, but she said she would do everything she can to make sure he never knows about her and if he finds out, she will make sure he never sees her.” Ali replied.

“Ashlyn seems like a wonderful person.” Deb pried a little. Even though she has not seen Ali for years, she could tell her daughter was smitten with the blonde and she wondered if there was more going on with them.

Ali smiled shyly. “She is amazing.”

Deb raised and eyebrow at her daughter encouraging Ali to continue.

“I’m in love with her Mom. We fell in love with each other.”

“Does she treat you the way you deserve to be treated?” Deb asked

“She treats me better than that Mom. She is so kind and patient and perfect. She is everything James wasn’t. She is the best thing that could have happened to me, and not just because of the divorce. She builds me up so much and makes me feel like I can do anything. She makes me feel worthy of love. I am a stronger person because of her. She seriously makes me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. She picked up the pieces of me that were broken and put me back together again. That’s the best way I can describe her.”

“She sounds wonderful sweetheart. I can see the way she looks at you that she loves you too.”

“Not just me, Kyla too. She is so good with Kyla. She’s so perfect mom. I can’t even believe she’s mine to love. I want to marry her mom. I know that might sound crazy after just getting out of a marriage, but I am seriously in love with her and I want us to be together. To be a family and raise Kyla and other children together.”

“Do you think it’s what Ashlyn wants? I want the best for you. You have already been through so much, I just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“She told me she wants to spend the rest of her life with me. We are raising Kyla together and I consider Ashlyn to be every bit Kyla’s mom as I am.”

“I can honestly see how happy she makes you honey, so I am more than ok with you two getting married when that time comes.” Deb leaned in and gave Ali a hug.

***

“I need you to be honest with me Ashlyn.” Ken say, “Is Ali still in danger?”

“I really wish I could tell you that James is no longer a threat to Ali, but unfortunately I can’t. He is unstable Ken and now that Ali is legally divorced from him, he will probably become more unhinged. He had no trouble showing his true colors in court and to be honest, that scares me. If he can’t control his temper in an environment like that, who knows what he is capable of.”

“What can we do to keep her safe?” Ken asks.

“I can guarantee, now that he knows who I am, I am sure he will try to get to her through me. My number one priority is to make sure Ali is safe, and that he never finds out about Kyla.”

“What’s your plan?”

“Ali and Kyla are going to have to move somewhere safe where she can start a new life, and I don’t know when we will be able to see them again.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn was dreading the conversation she had to have with Ali, but she knew this had to happen. She didn’t want to be separated from Ali and Kyla, but she knew this was the only way she could make sure they were safe.

Ashlyn walked into the bedroom and saw Ali cradling her daughter to sleep. The sight made Ashlyn want to cry. She loved these two with everything in her and the thought of not seeing them everyday was killing her.

Ali looked up at Ashlyn as she walked in and could tell something was bothering her.

“Is everything ok love?” Ali asked.

“Everything is fine Ali, but we need to talk.”

“Ok” Ali replied

“I love you Ali. I love you and Kyla more then I have ever loved anyone in my whole life. Now that your divorce is final, we need to talk about the next steps for you.”

“Ok.” Ali could tell she wasn’t going to like what Ashlyn was about to say.

“I need to move you and Kyla to a place that is safe. It will need to be away from me…”

“No. Absolutely not Ashlyn.” Ali stated.

“Baby, please just listen to me.”

“I am not leaving you Ashlyn. I am done with all this shit. The whole point of me moving forward with this divorce was so I could finally be free to live my life. My life is with you and I am not going to hide from that anymore.”

“Ali, James knows who I am now. He will come looking for you and the first place he is going to look is at our home in Orlando. I can’t have him find you and I especially can’t have him find out about Kyla. We need to be smart about this Ali. If we go back to the house, he will show up there and he might find out about Kyla. I know this is hard right now Ali, but I need you to trust that this is just temporary. We will be together; I just need to keep you two safe until I can figure out what to do next.”

“I don’t want to be apart from you Ashlyn. Come with us, please.” Ali begged.

A tear slipped down Ashlyn’s face. “I can’t Ali. Not right now. I need to throw him off and he comes looking for you and I am not there, he’s going to know we are together and he will stop at nothing to find you. I won’t be able to keep tabs on him if I go with you.”

“I can’t leave you Ashlyn. I just can’t.”

“Baby, I promised you we would be together, and I intend on keeping that promise. I am not letting you and Kyla go. I am doing what is necessary right now to ensure that we will have a future together. I need you to trust me on this Ali. We are going to be together Ali and we are going to be a family, it’s just going to take a little bit of time. Have I ever let you down?”

“No.” Ali said through tears.

“And I never will. Tomorrow I am going to send you and Kyla to stay with a friend of mine and as soon as everything blows over here, we will be together again. Short term pain for long term gain.” Ashlyn said with a smile, trying to put Ali at ease.

“How am I supposed to say goodbye?” Ali asked.

“You don’t have to say goodbye Ali. I will still be available to you as much as you need, just not physically right now. We will talk everyday. I promise.”

“But I won’t be able to touch you or hold you or make love to you.”

“I know baby, but it’s not forever, ok.” Ash pulls Ali in for a hug. “Nothing on this earth is going to keep us apart long-term Ali.”

Ali soaked in the feeling of Ashlyn holding her tight. She knew she was naïve to think that even though the divorce was final, that she wasn’t still in danger.

She knew her ex-husband would not just let her walk away. She knows Ashlyn is trying to keep her and their daughter safe, but she can’t imagine what her life is going to be like now that she can’t see Ashlyn every day. Her heart is breaking, but she knows Ashlyn is right.

Chapter Text

The next morning Ali woke up early and looked over at Ashlyn sleeping. She remembered their conversation the night before and a tear fell from her eye as she thought about their impending separation. She loved this woman more then she has ever loved anyone and the thought of being separated from her was more then Ali thought she could bare. Her heart was heavy and the lump in her throat was growing. She had never felt sadness like this before and it was sending her into a dark place. She was spiraling and could not control her sobs anymore.

Ashlyn woke up to find Ali crying and it broke her. She couldn’t handle seeing Ali this broken. It was killing her that she could not take Ali back home with her and had to send her and Kyla away to keep them safe. She wished more then anything, that she could run away with Ali and their daughter, but she knew that they could not hide from James forever. She had a plan, and she prayed it was going to work, but she needed Ali and Kyla to be safe before she put her plan in motion. She knew she couldn’t tell Ali what the plan was because she knew Ali would never allow her to go through with it, but if all went well, they would be reunited soon without anything holding them back and that’s all that Ashlyn can focus on right now.

Ashlyn reached over and pulled Ali close to her and held her while she cried. Ashlyn knew there was nothing she could say that would make this easier on either of them, so she just held her girlfriend and let her tears fall as well. Letting Ali go would be the hardest thing she has ever had to do. The only thing that made it tolerable was she knew it was just temporary and necessary to keep Ali and Kyla safe.

Ashlyn and Ali were in the common area of the hotel room with Ali’s family, when Ashlyn received a call from the front desk. She excused herself and went to greet the new arrival at the elevator.

Ashlyn joined Ali and her family along with Ashlyn’s friend Tobin. Tobin was there to escort Ali and Kyla to their temporary home.

“Everyone, this is my friend Tobin. She is going to be taking Ali and Kyla to the safe house we have set up for her.” Ashlyn said as she introduced Tobin to Ali and her family. “Tobin, this is Ali and her family.” Ashlyn walked over to Kyla, who was sitting on Ali’s lap and picked her up, “and this little one is Kyla.”

Tobin reach up and tickled Kyla’s belly, “Hello little one. You are going to come stay with me for a little while, is that ok?” Kyla smiled at Tobin. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

Ashlyn had filled Ali in on everything she could about Tobin the day before. Ashlyn trusted this woman more than anyone, with the exception of Whitney and Kelley. Ashlyn assured Ali that she would be in very capable hands with Tobin.

Ali got up to greet Tobin properly. “Thank you for everything you are doing for my daughter and me. Ash has told me nothing but great things about you. It’s nice to meet you.” Ali stuck her hand out to shake Tobin’s, but Tobin pushed her hand away and pulled Ali into a big hug. It caught Ali off guard, but she returned the hug once the initial shock wore off.

“I’m a hugger, sorry.” Tobin said as she pulled back from the hug. “It’s great to finally meet you Ali. Ashlyn talks about you alllllllllll the time. All good of course.” Tobin said exaggeratedly.

Ali didn’t know what it was, but she felt at ease immediately with Tobin. She had a calming presence about her, similar to Ashlyn, but more of a playful and carefree.

Ali chuckled “Well that’s good to know. I hope I can live up to the praise.”

“I’m sure you will.” Tobin replied.

Ashlyn walked over to Ali and put her arm around her. She needed to feel as close as possible to her as their impending separation was looming.

 

A few hours later, the time had come for Ali to say goodbye to her family and most importantly, Ashlyn. She was trying her best to hold herself together, but she was failing miserably. It didn’t help that Ashlyn also looked like she was dying a little inside, but she knew they would be together soon. Ashlyn had made her that promise, and Ashlyn always kept her promises.

Ali said goodbye to her parents and brother in the hotel room, promising to keep in touch as much as possible. Ashlyn had made sure that Ali would be able to contact her family as often as she wanted. She knew this would make the separation a little easier on Ali.

Ashlyn walked Tobin and Ali down to Tobin’s vehicle, while carrying a sleeping Kyla in her arms. The closer they got to the car the harder it was for Ashlyn to breathe. She had to do whatever it took to get Ali and Kyla back quickly, because she didn’t think she would be able to handle them being away from her for too long. This was her motivation to get that fucker out of Ali’s life permanently, so her and Ali could start their life together.

Once they reached the car, Ali turned towards Ashlyn with tears in her eyes. Ashlyn’s heart was breaking. She never wanted to cause this woman pain, but she knew this was the best option right now. Ashlyn kissed Kyla on the head, hugged her tight, then handed the sleeping baby to Tobin to get her set up in the car seat. Ashlyn turned to Ali and pulled her in to a tight hug.

“I love you so much Ali.” Ash cried softly in Ali’s ear. Ali closed her eyes and tried to memorize everything she could about being in Ashlyn’s arms.

“I love you too Ash. So much.” Ali cried.

“I’m going to have you and Kyla home in no time. I promise. Just pretend like this is a little vacation and soon we will be back together.” Ashlyn pulled back from Ali and cradled her face in her hands. “Nothing is going to keep us apart.” Ashlyn leaned in and kissed Ali trying to convey how serious she was about keeping this promise.

Once the kiss ended, Ashlyn walked Ali to Tobin’s car and opened the back door for Ali to get in. Ali reluctantly got in the vehicle and looked up at Ashlyn “Please be careful Ash. I love you.”

“I love you too, and I promise I will be careful.” She leaned down and gave Ali one more quick kiss before closing the door to the car and stepping back, watching her family drive away not knowing when they would be back together again.

Chapter Text

The flight back to Florida was almost unbearable for Ashlyn. She had said goodbye to her little family that morning and now she was on a plane alone barely keeping herself together. She knew it was the right decision to send Ali and Kyla with Tobin, but it didn’t make the separation any easier. She’s hoping that being able to at least talk and Skype with Ali whenever she wants, that might help her get through this.

She tries to take her mind off of her family for a bit by formulating a plan to get James out of Ali’s life for good. She knows without a doubt that he is going to show up in Florida looking for his wife and she’s pretty sure he will end up at their home. The first priority on Ashlyn’s list is to make sure there is no trace of Kyla in the house. Although Ashlyn’s house is secure, she doesn’t want to take any chances where her daughter was concerned. Ashlyn wasn’t sure what James was capable of doing, but knew that this divorce was going to make him more unstable then he already is.

Her second priority is making sure her security team is beefed up and on high alert. This will include making sure that Ali’s family has round the clock protection. She knows Kelley and her team are more then capable of handling this situation, but she doesn’t want to leave anything to chance so she makes a note to have Kelly add more people to her security team until this all blows over.

Her third priority is making sure that she knows James’ every move. She doesn’t want any surprises where he is concerned, so she needs to get Emily on him as soon as he is released from Jail which could be any time.

She feels like she has all her bases covered, but she knows there is always a chance that things could go wrong. She feels like she knows what James is going to do, but it’s hard to predict these things 100%. She knows the risks involved, but all she cares about is keeping Ali and Kyla safe. The thought of anything happening to them makes it hard for her to breathe. They have become her whole world, and she would do whatever was necessary to make sure they were safe.

As the plane landed into Orlando, Ashlyn was feeling a little antsy. She wanted this all to be over so she and Ali could finally be together and be a family with their daughter. Ashlyn didn’t wait until the jet came to a complete stop before she was grabbing her bag and standing up to get off. She wanted off this flight and to get moving. She had a lot to do and she wanted to make sure everything was in place as quickly as possible. As she exited the private jet she breathed in the salty Florida air, she whispered under her breath “Come get me you mother fucker.”

Ashlyn didn’t have to wait long to receive word from Emily that James had been released from jail. She was on her way home when Emily made the call. Ashlyn instructed Emily to keep tabs on him and let her know any move he makes. Emily promised she would stay on top of him as long as it took.

Ashlyn drove up to the gates of her home and Kelley was waiting there for her. The gates opened and Ashlyn drove through and stopped to talk to Kelley. “Meet me at the house so we can discuss the plan.” Kelley nodded and told her she would meet Ashlyn in a few minutes. Ashlyn drove up the long driveway and pulled her car into the garage. She took a deep breath as she opened the door to enter the house. It felt empty and dark. It made Ashlyn feel empty and dark. She needed her family here. A tear rolled down her cheek as she walked into the empty bedroom that used to be Kyla’s nursery. It broke her to see her daughter’s things gone. Inside she knew this was only temporary, but seeing the emptiness of the room made Ashlyn desperate to get her back.

She walked over to hers and Ali’s bedroom and sat on her bed and broke down. Ali and Kyla were her whole world now and not having them here was worse than anything Ashlyn could have imagined. She didn’t think it would be this hard. Her and Ali had been together everyday for over a year and she never imagined she could miss someone this much. She was desperate to get them home, and she was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.

Kelley came walking into the room and found Ashlyn on the bed crying. Kelley walked over to Ashlyn and kneeled down in front of her. “They will be back soon Ash. We just need to make sure they will be safe when they return. It will take some time, but we will get them back to you, I promise.”

Ashlyn looked at he friend and nodded “Thanks Kelley. I just miss them. I want this to be over and I want them home with me. I will make this asshole pay for the torment he caused Ali.”

Kelley could see the firestorm brewing in Ashlyn’s eyes. She knew Ashlyn might get irrational at some point in an effort to get her family back, but she also knew that Ashlyn would never sacrifice the opportunity for her and Ali to be together. “What do you have planned Ash?”

“As much as I want to take out that mother fucker, I know that’s not an option. I do know he’s going to come looking for Ali and I want us to be prepared for that when it happens. He is going to do whatever is in his power to try and get her back, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. He will show up here Kelley and I will make him sorry that he did. We have the law on our side, and I intend to use that to our advantage.”

Kelley felt a little relieved that Ashlyn was not thinking about doing anything drastic.

“Care to fill me in on what the plan is?”

“I will Kelley, but first I need you to get your team here so we can discuss it all together. I also want you to make sure that Kyle, and Ali’s parents have proper security around them at all times. I don’t want him to get close to them at all. I want to bring him to me and if he has no access to them, he will be left with no alternative then to show up here.”

“I’ll get it done. I’ll be back in a few hours once everything is in place.”

“Thanks Kelley.”

Kelley got up and left Ashlyn alone. Ashlyn had never felt so alone. She was towing a fine line between keeping herself composed and desperate to get her family back. She needed to talk to Ali, but knew she couldn’t talk to her for another hour, so she did the only thing she knew to calm her mind. She changed into her close and headed to the gym and took all her frustration out on the heavy bag that she pretended to be Ali’s ex.

Chapter Text

The minute Ali left Ashlyn, she felt herself start to panic. She knew that she needed to protect her daughter from her ex-husband, but being apart from Ashlyn felt wrong. She could not control her emotions and sobbed uncontrollably the entire way to wherever Tobin was taking her. She was struggling to breathe and collect herself, but she was failing miserably. Tobin’s heart was breaking for her.

“I really wish I could make this better for you Ali. Please believe me when I say that we are all going to do whatever we can to help get you back to Ashlyn. This is only temporary, but necessary to keep you and Kyla safe.”

“I have never loved anyone like I love Ashlyn, and it’s not just because of what she has done for me. I feel like we belong to each other and we were always meant to be together. Being apart from her makes me feel like a big part of me is missing and I can physically feel her absence. I’m so worried about her Tobin. If anything happens to her, I don’t know if I could survive that.”

Tobin was at a loss for words. She knew there was nothing she could say that would make this better for Ali. She just had to hope that being able to speak to Ashlyn everyday on the phone would be enough to get her through this. She knew that Ali had been through a lot and this separation from Ashlyn was another blow that Ali did not deserve. She silently vowed that she would do everything in her power to reunite this family as quickly as possible.

Ali wasn’t paying attention to how long they were on the road and to where they were going. She didn’t notice anything until they pulled up to a secluded home in the middle of nowhere. She couldn’t see much outside the densely populated trees surrounding the property.

“We’re here.” Tobin announced as she pulled up to the house.

“Where are we?” Ali asked.

“This is my home, just north of Albany, New York. It’s pretty secluded and private. That’s one of the reasons I chose this place. It’s not an easy place to find, so you and Kyla will definitely be safe here.”

Ali got Kyla from the car seat and followed Tobin inside the house. Tobin showed them around the house and then lead them to a bedroom at the back of the house they would be staying in.

“This will be your room. Kyla can stay in here with you, or there is a room next to this one she can stay in. It’s up to you.”

“I think I will keep her with me for now.” Ali replied.

“Of course.” Tobin offered Ali a small smile. She wanted Ali to feel as comfortable as possible with her. “We could call Ashlyn if you would like and let her know we are here.” Tobin offered.

Ali’s face lit up. Tobin was a little relieved that she was able to put a smile on Ali’s face for the first time since they left Ashlyn.

“Ok. Let’s get you set up so you can talk to your girl.”

Ali put a sleeping Kyla down for a nap in the crib Tobin had set up for her in her room and followed Tobin out to the living room to call Ashlyn. Tobin pulled out her laptop and video called Ashlyn on a private connection that Ash had set up for them.
Ashlyn’s face appeared on the screen and Ali’s heart skipped a beat. She had missed seeing her girlfriends beautiful face. Ali could see the tears forming in Ashlyn’s eyes and all she wished she could reach through the screen and hold her girlfriend in her arms.

“Hi baby.” Ali said quietly.

“Hi.” Ashlyn struggled to get the word out. Ashlyn wanted to be strong for her girl, but seeing her was breaking her heart. She wanted to be there with her and hold her, but she knew that couldn’t happen right now.

“I miss you so much baby.” Ali said through tears.

Ashlyn’s heart was breaking. She could barely hold herself together. Seeing Ali hurting was worse thing she could imagine. She needed to be with her, but she didn’t want to put Ali and Kyla at risk. She had to hold herself together for her family.

“I miss you too. I am going to do everything I can to get us back together Ali. I promise this will only be temporary.”

“Will you be able to come here and see us?”

“I don’t want to do anything right now until I figure out what your ex has planned. I’m sure he is going to have me followed, and I don’t want to risk leading him to you. This will take some time Ali, but we will be together. We can talk every single day. As much as you want. As soon as I feel that your ex will not be a threat to us anymore, I will come to you, but until then, I need to keep you and Kyla safe.”

Ali took a deep breath trying to calm her nerves. She found it hard to breathe without Ashlyn, but deep down she knew that Ash was right. The safety of their daughter was her number one priority and she would do whatever is necessary to protect her, even if it meant being apart from Ashlyn.

“I love you Ash, and I know this is only temporary. It’s just harder than I ever imagined. I don’t like the feeling of being separated from you and knowing that you could possibly be in danger. I don’t know what James will do when he comes looking for me and that scares me. I can’t lose you.”

“You won’t lose me Ali. I promise I am taking every precaution necessary to stay safe, and to keep your family safe as well. Your ex is capable of a lot of things, but I can guarantee, he will not be able to harm any of us. No matter what he has planned, I will be one step ahead of him and I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he is no longer a threat to you or your family. He will make a mistake, I can guarantee it, and when he does, we will take him down.”

“Nothing illegal, though right?” Ali asked (sort of) jokingly.

“No baby, nothing illegal. I am just going to let him destroy himself. A man like him, who thinks he is above the law, will be more likely to do something stupid that will destroy himself. All I have to do is wait for that moment and I will take him down.

Unfortunately, that means we have to wait until that moment, but I’m sure it will happen soon. He will be very motivated to get you back especially since we humiliated him in court.”

“Please be careful baby. I don’t want you to get hurt because of me.”

“This isn’t your fault Ali. You need to know that. This is on him. Everything that has happened is because of his actions. You can’t blame yourself.”

“I am trying to work past my guilt Ash, I really am, but it’s hard for me especially now that it’s affecting the people I love. I hate that this is happening. I just want this to all be over and for us to move on with our lives.”

“We will move on Ali. We will be together soon, and we will have a happy life together. This is just a blip in the road that will soon be over. Everything is going to work out in the end. I promise.” Ash smiled at Ali to try and ease her mind.

Ali smiled back at her love. She didn’t know why but, in that moment,, she just knew that everything was going to work out.

Chapter Text

Ashlyn was working in her home office when she received a call from Emily.

“He’s on the move. Looks like he’s heading for the airport” Emily told her.

“Stay on him Emily. I want to know exactly where he’s heading.”

“You got it Ash. I’ll call you once I know more.”

Ashlyn called Kelley’s cell phone and asked her to come up to the house. Kelley arrived a few minutes later and found Ashlyn in her office.

“What’s up?” Kelley asked.

“He’s on the move. Emily said that he’s heading for the airport. She doesn’t know where he’s headed yet, but I want you to make sure that all your people are ready. I don’t want any mistakes Kelley. We have no idea what this man is capable of.”

“You got it Ash. I’ll make sure everyone is on high alert and hopefully this will all be over soon.”

“I really hope so. I want my girls home with me.” Ash replied sadly.

“This will all be over soon Ash.” Kelley said as she turned and walked out of Ashlyn’s office to make the calls to her people watching over Ali’s family.

Ashlyn leaned back in her chair and tried to relax, but her mind was racing. She needed to calm down and knew the only way she could do that was to talk to her girl.

Ali picked up the phone after one ring.

“Hi Baby.” Ali said when she answered the phone.

“Hi. How are you holding up sweetheart?”

“Missing you like crazy but trying to make the most of the situation. I have been helping Tobin out around her place and it’s nice to be able to do something to keep my mind occupied. How are you doing? You sound tired.”

“I’m doing ok. Missing you and Kyla so much. I’m glad you and Tobin are getting along well.”

“Ya. It’s nice having a distraction, but I really want us to be able to come home soon. Any updates?” Ali asked.

“Not really. James is heading to the airport right now, but I don’t know where he’s heading yet. Emily will call me once she finds out where he’s going.”

This news made Ali anxious. “Do you think he’s headed towards Florida?”

“To be honest, that’s what I’m hoping. I’m really hoping he shows up here and sees that you aren’t here. I doubt he will be satisfied with that. He will try and find out where you are, but that won’t happen. We are ready for whatever he has planned.”

“I need you to be careful Ash. Please.”

“I promise baby. Nothing will happen to me. We are going to be together again before you know it. I should let you go so I can wait for Emily’s call. I love you and I will keep you updated with anything that comes up.”

“Ok baby. I love you too. Be safe”

“Always” Ash said as she hung up the phone.

 

About an hour later, Emily called Ashlyn to update her on James’ flight plan.

“Hey Em, did you find out where he’s heading?”

“Ya, he’s headed toward Florida, just like you said he would be.”

Ashlyn let out a deep breath.

“Great.”

“I can come to Florida and help you Ash. Just say the word and I am on the next flight.”

“Thanks for the offer Em, but I think we got it covered. I appreciate everything you have done for us.”

“Anytime Ash. Ali is a great girl and I want to see you guys together, so anything I can do to help speed up the process, I am your girl.”

“Thanks Em. I will let you know if we need you here, but I’m pretty sure Kelley has everything under control. I’ll keep you updated. Talk to you soon.”

Ashlyn hung up the phone and dialed Kelley’s number.

“He’s on his way Kelley. Make sure everything is in place and he is followed the minute his plane hits the ground. I don’t want any surprises.”

“You got it Ash.” Kelley replied.

Ashlyn hung up the phone and took a deep breath. “Come and get me asshole.”

Chapter Text

Ashlyn sat at her desk at her office in downtown Orlando. She was struggling to focus on getting some work caught up that she had been putting off. Her mind kept wandering to Ali and Kyla, hoping that they would be together soon. It had been a couple days since James had arrived in Orlando. Ashlyn and her team had not heard a thing from him since his arrival and that made Ashlyn nervous. She couldn’t figure out what his plan was as she had assumed he would have shown up at her office by now, but so far he’s been radio silent. She figured he must have figured out he was being watched and that’s the reason he has not surfaced yet.
She decided since she wasn’t getting anything done at work and that James wasn’t likely to show up this late in the day, that she should just head home so she could call Ali.

As Ashlyn drove home, she noticed a vehicle had been following her since she had left her office. Her instincts told her that this was not a coincidence. She decided to take the long way home and see if she was in fact being followed.

As Ashlyn approached her home, the vehicle was still behind her. It maintained a bit of a distance and to anyone else, they may not have noticed that they were even being followed, but Ashlyn knew this vehicle was there for a reason.

She had sent Kelley a text while she was parked at a light to let her know that she was being followed. Kelley would be waiting at the gate when Ashlyn arrives. Ashlyn pulled up to the gate and it opened for her immediately. She pulled in slowly so she could see what the other car would do. As she was pulling in, she saw the other car pass by slowly and keep going down the street. Kelley was waiting behind the fence in the bush to try and take pictures of the person in the vehicle. As the car passed by, Kelley snapped a couple of pictures and was very pleased that this idiot decided to drive by slowly so she could get a clear shot of the people in the car. To her surprise there was only one person in the vehicle, and it was not James. Kelley figured this guy must work for James and they are planning their next move. They had figured that James was going to show up at Ash’s office, but now it looks like they might be showing up at the house, not intending that Ashlyn will be ready for them if they show up.

Ashlyn pulled the car into the garage and went into the house to wait for Kelley. Kelley showed up a few minutes later.

“I got a good picture of the guy. It wasn’t James, but I’ll bet this guy works for him. He’s probably got this guy following you to see if you lead him to Ali.”

“I’m really glad we decided to hide Ali with Tobin. I knew he would come looking for her, but it looks like he’s going to try and be sneaky about it.”

“Ya. Not sure what his next move will be, but I have a feeling someone is going to show up here looking for her.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s what his next move will be, but I doubt he’s dumb enough to show up here himself. He knows there is a restraining order against him and the police would show up here before he even made it past the gate. In the meantime, let’s try and figure out who this guy is that’s tailing me. I want to know what we are up against.”

“You got it boss. I’ll let you know what I find out.” Kelley says as she heads out to get the information Ashlyn has requested.

Ashlyn heads to her home office so she can call Ali.

“Hi baby.” Ali says when Ash sees her face on the screen. God, she’s beautiful Ashlyn thinks to herself.

“Hi. How are you and Kyla doing?”

“We are doing ok. Missing you like crazy.” Ali reaches down and picks up Kyla and sits her on her lap so Ashlyn can see her.

“Hi baby girl” Ashlyn smiles wide when she’s sees Kyla on the screen. Kyla smiles at Ashlyn through and reaches her tiny hands out trying to touch her. It’s breaking Ashlyn’s heart that she can’t hold her daughter right now, but after what happened today, she’s happy they are both safely away from Florida.

“You are getting so big my little love. You need to stop growing immediately.” Ashlyn jokes with her little girl.

“She misses you Ash. We both do. We can’t wait to come home to you.” Ali says as she struggles to hold her wiggly daughter. Ali puts Kyla down so she can focus on Ashlyn for a minute. She can tell she has some news.

“Hopefully it won’t be much longer Ali. I want you both home with me.”

“Has he tried to make contact yet?” Ali asks.

“There has been no sign of him since he arrived in Orlando, but I was followed home by some guy today, so I don’t think it will be much longer before he makes a move.” Ashlyn replied.

“Do you know who it was that was following you?” Ali asked.

“No, but Kelley got some good pictures of him as he drove past the house. She’s looking into identifying him as we speak.”

“Do you have a picture of the guy? Maybe I could help identify him?” Ali offered.

“Um…I don’t have his picture, but I can have Kelley sent it to me. Hold on.” Ashlyn sent Kelley a text and asked her to send a picture of the man driving the car so she could show it to Ali.
A few seconds later, Ashlyn’s phone alerted her to a new message. She opened the message from Kelley and looked at the picture.

“I don’t know how well you will be able to see through the screen, but if it’s not clear, I will send it to Tobin and you can have a look.” Ashlyn held the phone up to the screen for Ali to see.

Ali’s eyes went wide and her face went pale.

“Ali, are you ok? Do you know who this guy is?”

Ali stared at the picture Ashlyn was holding up, “Ya…I know who that is.”