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Under The Stars

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Asher paces around the room, stopping every once in a while to check the time. His date with Olivia is in a few hours and he’s still not sure what to do. He wants it to be special. He wants to be able to take her out and show her a good time. But he’s also broke.

His eyes land on one of the pictures he put on his bedside table. It’s of him, Olivia, and Jordan a few years ago. They’re at their favorite look out spot.

Asher grins when an idea occurs to him. He takes off out of the room and down the stairs. Layla is standing in the kitchen with Spencer when he gets there.

“Hey Asher,” Layla says.

“Hey,” Asher says. “Do you have a picnic basket and a blanket I can use for tonight?”

“What do you need…?” Layla trails off and then a smile spreads across her face. “Oh! You’re taking Olivia on a picnic!”

“Yeah,” Asher says. Now that it’s been said out loud he’s nervous about it. “Is it lame?”

“It’s perfect,” Layla tells him. “I’m sure Olivia will love it. As far as the picnic basket, there’s one in the garage. I’ll go grab it.”

She walks off, leaving Asher and Spencer alone.

“So you and Olivia huh?”

“Yeah. Well I mean, hopefully. If this goes well.”

“She likes you or else she wouldn’t have agreed to go out with you,” Spencer tells him. “And a moonlit picnic? That screams romance while not being over the top. Now what are you doing for food?”

“Oh umm… I still need to figure that out,” Asher says.

“Tell you what, I work tonight. So why don’t you stop by and I’ll hook you up with some sandwiches?”

“You’d do that?”

Spencer shrugs, “Sure. What are friends for?”

Layla walks in a moment later holding a picnic basket and a blanket. She puts it down on the island. “Well here we are. This one has a built in cooler for anything cold. Just grab an ice pack from the freezer.”

Asher nods, “That’s perfect. Thank you. Both of you.”

Layla smiles and pats his cheek, “Anytime. I just want you both to be happy.”

He knows she means it. Even after everything they’ve been through, she still cares enough to want to see him happy.

“I want that too,” he says quietly. “For you.”

“I am,” Layla says, glancing over at Spencer before turning her attention back to Asher. “Now go get ready. I know you’re going to spend ages stressing about your outfit so you better get started now.”

Asher starts to argue, but he knows she’s right.

***

Olivia is waiting on the porch she he gets there. She grins and all but throws herself into the park once it’s stopped.

“You look nice,” Asher tells her. And she does. Her hair is down, and she’s in a pair of shorts and a black top that seems to flow around her.

“Thanks,” Olivia says, buckling her seatbelt. “Layla texted me and told me not to wear a dress, but wouldn’t say much else.”

“Good,” Asher says, directing his car back onto the road. “Because it’s a surprise.”

“But it’s outdoors,” Olivia presses.

“A surprise!”

Olivia laughs and settles into the seat, “Okay then. Take me to this surprise.”

It only takes a few minutes to drive to the parking lot. The rest of it going to be spent walking. Luckily it isn’t far.

“Where are we going?” Olivia asks him again, probably just to drive him crazy.

It doesn’t work. He’s too excited. He grins over at her, “You’ll see.”

They walk for a few more minutes, traipsing their way through the grass and then up a hill. Once they reach the top Asher smiles and puts the basket down. He glances over at Olivia to see her smiling too.

“I haven’t been up here in ages,” Olivia says.

“I figured,” Asher says. He pulls the blanket off the top of the basket and spreads it out. He puts the basket on the end and gestures for Olivia to sit down before taking a seat himself. “I wanted to do something nice for you,” he tells her, as he opens the basket. “I couldn’t afford much but I thought a moonlit picnic…”

He stops when he feels Olivia’s lips on his cheek. She takes his hand in hers and smiles, “This is perfect, Ash.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I prefer this to some fancy dinner. This way we just get to be together, and there’s an excellent view.”

“Yeah there is,” he brings a hand up to brush across her cheek and smiles.

“You’re not even looking at it,” she whispers.

“I am though,” he says softly. “You’ve always been gorgeous. But here in the moonlight, looking so relaxed and happy… you’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Asher…”

“It’s true,” he tells her. “You’re amazing, Olivia Baker. One of the strongest and most amazing people I know. I don’t know what I did to be lucky enough to be here with you tonight, but I’m glad that I am.”

Her hands come up to cup his face and she laughs softly, “I love you.”

Asher kisses her. It’s soft and deep and so different from their first kiss. It’s just them. Two people who have been through hell but have fought their way out of it, and came out better. Who have found their way to each other.

He breaks the kiss, and rests his head against hers. “I love you too,” he tells her. “Which is why I want to do this right.”

“So that means no kissing?”

Asher smiles and kisses her quickly, “There can be kissing, but not more than that. Not yet. I care too much about you to rush this.”

She squeezes his neck and smiles, “Okay. So dinner?”

“Dinner.”

Asher watches as she moves to the basket and starts pulling things out for them.

“Oh my god,” she says, pulling out a container of cheesecake. “My favorite!”

Asher grins when she opens it up, “That’s not dinner.”

“Dinner can wait,” Olivia says, forking into the cheesecake. “You know I can’t resist cheesecake.”

He smiles and picks up the box with his sandwich in it, “I do. That’s why I had Spencer put a few in there.”

“A few? Oh my god. You’re already winning at this boyfriend thing.”

“Yeah?” Asher asks, trying to appear casual. It’s the first time they’ve put a real name to it.

She glances over at him, her eyes moving across his face. Finally, she puts her fork down and takes his hand. “Yeah.”

He runs his thumb along the soft skin of her hand. “Good to know all I have to do is get you cheesecake.”

“Cheesecake and kisses,” she says, leaning in and kissing him softly. “And some hand holding and cuddling.”

Asher smiles, “I can definitely live with that.”