John wasted no time in pulling out his phone and placing it next to his ear. He listened intently, his expression slowly growing solemn.
“What is it?” I hurriedly asked.
He gave me a sidelong glance, nodding. “The mission was a success.”
I felt myself let go of a breath that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding, and Ashton’s eyebrows finally stopped furrowing together.
Ashton himself was very aware of how selfish his methods had been, and had been working on improving himself to become a better person.
Last night had been a test. If he failed, he might have lost the courage to continue staying by my side. Only succeeding would be enough to prove to himself that he’d changed into a true man that would do anything to protect me and my family.
Ashton sighed deeply, as did I. Our eyes met and we exchanged relieved, wry smiles.
“Now that everything’s done and settled, I’ll go over to pick them up. You two recently recovered from being sick and stayed up through the whole night; hurry up and go upstairs to rest.”
John got ready to leave after saying that, but Ashton grabbed ahold of his arm. “Joseph will take care of it. Emma and Drew will be arriving this afternoon, and are you sure you want to meet them while in this state?”
“Emma?” John blinked owlishly at him. “What are you talking about?”
Ashton let go of his arm, heading towards me. “I arranged a private flight to M Country for them two days ago,” he told him over his shoulder. “They should already be on the way here as we speak.”
John and I wore mirrored expressions of surprise. “You’d made preparations that early on?”
Ashton wrapped an arm around my shoulders, his eyes shining humorously. “A family reunion would be incomplete without even a single family member, after all. Besides, my dear brother-in-law seemed extremely temperamental as a result of not being able to see his wife and child for a long time. So, I did this all for the sake of maintaining the peace at home.”
John squinted at him, raising an eyebrow. “That sounds very much like a complaint.”
“Was I wrong, Honey?” Ashton shrugged and turned the focus of the conversation towards me.
“Uh…” How am I supposed to respond? John was glaring at me icily from the other side of the room, while Ashton, mere inches away from me, was trying his best to look as pitiful as possible.
Looking between them both, I groaned and squirmed out of Ashton’s arms. “I’m getting sleepy, so ask me later after I wake up,” I waved them off, yawning as I dragged my feet upstairs. “I’m leaving the three kids to you guys. I want a good sleep, and I won’t tolerate anyone who comes to disturb me! Bye!”
Ashton trailed behind me, jokingly threatening, “You heard her! Letty said that she’s leaving the kids to you, so I’m going to go up and accompany her. She won’t be able to sleep well otherwise.”
“Hey! The both of you— What do you think you’re doing?” John chased us all the way to the staircase, shaking his fist at us as Ashton ascended the stairs three steps at a time. In the blink of an eye, John was left staring at an empty staircase. “I’m the president of a company, not your babysitter!”
His complaints echoed in the hallway and all around the living room.
It might have been the weekend, but children’s biological clocks were always accurate to a tee. Much to John’s dismay, he could only get about three hours’ worth of rest before he had to wake up to take care of the three kids.
I grew drowsy the moment my head hit the pillow, only vaguely registering the mattress shifting under me as Ashton laid down on the bed as well. Too tired to give any sort of reaction, I sleepily mumbled out, “We’ll be okay from now on out, right?”
“Yes.” He pulled me into his arms, burying his face in the crook of my neck. “Sleep. Arrangements have already been made for Uncle Louis and the others to rest somewhere else nearby. I’ll wake you when they return.”
His words acted like a sedative, instantly calming any leftover adrenaline rushing through me. Surrounded by his warmth and familiar scent, I drifted off to sleep.
When I came to, the bedroom was peacefully quiet. It seemed that I was the only one left at home.