Late

The door clicks open, a mop of brown hair pokes through the small open space. Big green eyes blink at me innocently.

"Oh, hey, Ashley!" he says cheeringly. I narrow my eyes. "You look stunning, love. Truly mind-blowing," I cross my arms over my spaghetti-sauce-stained-overly-large-shapeless shirt. I blow a piece of un-washed, un-combed black hair of from underneath my geek-worthy reading glasses that are the size of Texas. Stunning, huh?

"Where the hell have you been, Jake?" I demand, "It's been 3 hours, 24 minutes and…" I glance at my watch, "…18 seconds. What. The. Hell?" He slips through the door of our apartment and closes it softly behind him.

"Erm… Traffic?" Nice try. "My boss made me stay late?"

"You own a record store, Jake. You are the boss," He clears his throat nervously and shuffles his feet on the pale blue carpet of our living room/entry room.

"Um, Elephant stampede? Alien invasion? Discovering the cure for cancer? Hair cut? I had to buy staples? The CIA chased me down Main Stre--?"

"Shut the hell up, Jake," He does. Smart boy. "Now, you have exactly ten second to tell me why you're 3 hours, 24 minutes and 19 seconds--,"

"18 seconds, actually," He defends.

"Shut up! I slaved over the freakin' stove for hours making you a hot meal and now it's cold!" I point at the offending meal laid out on the small dining room table. "Cold, I tell you! Cold!"

"Is that noodles and Prego sauce? Aw, baby, you shouldn't have!" He walks over to the table and lifts up a mushy noodle. So I may have overcooked them a little. It's the thought that counts. "Yum-my,"

"So, I'm waiting, Jake. The clock is ticking. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. 10, 9, 8…"

"Okay. The reason I'm late is--"

"You're cheating on me aren't you?" I explode.

"What? No!" he cries. No use denying it, buddy. Mama Ash knows all.

"It's that blonde bimbo you hired last week, isn't it? I saw the way she was eyeing you. Oh, I saw her looking you up and down. I know what was going through her head,"

"She's forty-five, Ashley! She has children!"

"Are they yours? I bet--,"

"Ashley! I don't have children! Emily's youngest is eighteen! That's seven years younger than me!"

"Started early didn't you?" He walks over to me and puts his hands on my shoulders. I squirm and fruitlessly try to escape his brute strength. Stupid man-muscles.

"Ash, listen to me, okay?" I glare at him. He nods, "Good. Okay, honey, the reason I'm late is not because of any of those excuses I gave you, or because I'm…" he smirks, "…cheating on you with my married, forty-five-year-old co-worker. The truth is--," The ringing phone interrupts him this time. He sighs a the-fate-of-the-world-and-all-its-inhabitants-lies-on-my-shoulders sigh, but, none-the-less, he goes over and answers it. "Hello?"

I can hear the muffled response on the other line, "Hello, this is Mrs. Crumpy, from down the hall, I was just wondering if you'd found your man, yet, sweetie?"

He looks stunned, 'You called the crazy-cat-lady?' he mouths at me. No, he's not joking. She has about forty cats stuffed in her doily-covered apartment and believes that she's married to Gerard Butler. I shrug in response. Worry does strange things to a girlfriend.

"Such a nice boy, you have, Ashley hun. Quite a looker, too. Nothing compared to my Gerard, but your man's butt is nice and firm. I just want to pinch it!" He slams the phone down with a look of horror on his face.

"Putting that disturbing image aside, it's sweet that you worried about me so much that you branched out to the people of our community," he says, coming back to stand in front of me. I poke him in the chest.

"I was so," Poke. "Damn worried about you," Poke. "You," Poke. "Damn," Poke. "Idiot," Poke. Poke. Poke. He rubs his chest.

"Okay, I understand why you're angry," he says. I attempt to growl. I am not angry, I am furious. Me furious, hear me roar! He eyes me with a confused look on his face, "But just let me explain. I love you, you know that right? But, lately, I've realized--,"

"Oh, gods! You're breaking up with me, aren't you?" I scream. A pigeon on our windowsill squawks and flies off in fright.

"Ashley! No!" He shakes me by the shoulders. "Listen to me, damnit!" But it's no use; I know what he's doing. Why do I love him? Gods it only brought pain! "Ashley. Look. At. Me!" I stare at an interesting speck on the wall behind his head. I sniff and wipe a stray tear away.

"Just d-d-do it, Jak-k-ke. Just b-break my heart, alr-r-ready,"

"Ashley, come on--,"

"D-do it, Jak-ke. Do it-t!" He huffs and looks annoyed. "Do it, damnit!" I stamp my foot.

"Fine!" he hollers. Suddenly he's down on one knee, staring up at me. Huh? What's this? "Ashley? Will you freakin' marry me?" He pulls out a velvet box with a beautiful ring laid within it. I don't know the technical stuff, but it seems pretty fancy.

"Oh,"

"Yeah, 'oh'. You insane woman, you are the most frustrating person I've ever met, and you make me mad and you challenge me every day. Oh, god, do you get on my nerves, and sometimes I don't know if I can take much more," This was quite the proposal, if you ask me. Very flattering. "But, in the end, I still love you, more than anything. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, only you. Marry me?" Will ya look at that; I mentally smirk at Emily. He's mine, women, mine.

"Yes, oh my gods, yes!" He slips the ring onto my right ring finger, stops, takes it off, and puts it on the right, left ring finger. He sweeps up onto his feet and throws his arms around me. "So this is why you were late?"

"Yeah, I had to pick up the ring. Am I forgiven?" I nod and kiss him sweetly.

"Besides, I never doubted you. Not for a moment," I say as I pull back.

"Uh-huh, sure you didn't," he says mockingly, with a matching smile on his lips.

I ignore his ridicule. "We're going to have to break it to Mrs. Crumpy easy, don't want to hurt her feelings,"

"She has Gerard,"

"And I have you," I say with a smile, eyeing my new fancy-pancy engagement ring

"Always," I like the sound of that.

A/N: Enjoyment? Constructive critizism welcome. May be taken down for editing.

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize is not mine, including Prego sauce and Gerard Butler (woe is me). The characters, plot and anything else is mine and I would very much appreciate it if they weren't stolen. Thanks a bunch.