A/N: Ok so... I guess a lot of people didn't read the author's note from the last chapter. I got a lot of reviews wondering what happened. Ok, keep this is mind, it's a continuation. Meaning that, there will be a jump. A three year jump. I think I mentioned that. If I didn't then I apologize. that was my fault. But I don't think I did. Anyway, Yes Sophie's in college. I'm being lazy about what college because I don't really know what colleges are like and all that jazz. Um... The Devon and Sophie question will be answered in this chapter, but fully explained in the next chapter. OK so this is the important part i guess, don't ask me for the alternate ending because this is it. I wrote a continuation instead. Ok? So I hope everyone got that.

A Ring & Again

I let Ashton walk me back inside, and he headed over to the table with my stuff scattered all willy nilly. I hadn't remembered it being that unorganized when I left, but... it was early so I wasn't exactly fully conscious yet.

"How'd you know this table was mine?" I questioned, and I sat down beside him.

He grinned teasingly, "Who else would leave her coffee, her bag, and her jacket all completely unprotected."

"Whatever," I replied, taking a sip of my now cold coffee. "I did it for a good reason. I was under the impression that some young hoodlum was about to do something to my baby."

Ashton laughed at my expression and then my statement, "Young hoodlum? Look who's talking, kid."

I smirked at him, "Excuse me, it's been three years since I've seen you. Maybe you were trapped in a time warp, but I've grown up. I'm eighteen now, legally an adult."

"Three years..." he repeated to himself in surprise. "I guess it has been that long...We haven't really talked since...high school." He'd almost said something else, but decided against it.

I grew quiet at the mention of that time in my life, and my teasing smile fell from my face.

Ashton didn't notice, and I was glad. It allowed me the precious seconds necessary to wipe the nostalgia out of my expression. He lifted my black woven bag and was surprised at the weight, "What do you have in this thing bricks?"

I laughed, "Sometimes that's what it feels like." I leaned against the back of the chair, pulling one leg up to my chest and resting my chin on it. "I don't even know what's in there anymore. It's like a bottomless pit. You can go through it if you want..."

He shrugged and began pulling things out of my bag, "Well maybe it'll give me some clues as to what's been going on with you since I left."

I nodded, staring at the table, no longer paying attention to him. The words, "since I left" were running through my head. I wanted to ask him why he'd left, why he'd abandoned me, but all my questions died on my tongue. I knew that it was pointless. The magnitude of him leaving me had never fully hit me until now I guess. It wasn't as if I hadn't noticed that he was gone, because I had, it was more like, I hadn't noticed that his absence had affected me so much until he'd returned. I slowly raised my eyes to roam over this person I knew so well. He was still completely absorbed in the excavation of my belongings, and I was left to freely asses the features that had once been so familiar to me that now seemed almost alien. His shaggy blonde hair was still the pale color that it had always been, except that it was a little longer now. A difference only noticeable to one such as myself who had memorized all of the minute details. His eyes were still that icy blue that could make me stop dead in my tracks, and had the ability to frighten many an obnoxious young man. Were his eyelashes always that long? I asked myself, unsure. And did they always frame his eyes like that?

"Masterson." Ashton's voice brought me out of my reverie.

I shook my head and found him staring at me, curiously, as if he were trying to figure me out, "Yeah?"

"What's going on in that pretty little head of yours today?"

I shrugged, "I don't know...nothing really." There were things I wanted to say...but I held them back. Instead I smiled, "I'm glad you're back, bud."

He gave me a soft smile in return, and then looked back down into my bag, "I am too." He lifted a familiar looking black velvet box out of my bag. "So when were you planning to tell me about this?"

I think my heart must've jumped up and lodged itself in my throat. I couldn't talk and just frantically reached out to grab it from him. I was desperately hoping that the box was empty.

Ashton pulled it back, out of my reach. He glanced at me, seeing the urgency in my eyes, and opened it.

I physically flinched as my eyes beheld that ring. It was silver with two small diamonds that stood in the center. It seemed to capture all of the light around it, drawing the immediate attention of everything in the general vicinity with its perfection.

Ashton looked at the ring and then at the panicked expression on my face, "What, are you the official Mrs. Devon Matthews now or something?"

I winced at that name... that name that I'd tried so hard to forget. I swallowed hard, forcing my mouth to work, "No."

He waited for me to say something more on the subject. "Is that all I'm gonna get?"

I struggled to get the words out. "I...I thought that I'd given that back. It was almost a year ago since... well. I don't know if you remember that ring but it was the one Devon gave me after our first fight. It was his way of apologizing... and I'd always worn it when we were...together." I stared at the table not wanting to look at Ashton and see the pity in his eyes. "I meant to send it to him...actually I thought I did. I mean..." I was rambling. "...what was the point of me having it anymore since we were...over. Like officially."

I took the box from Ashton and fingered the ring that used to be a part of my hand. I glanced at that now naked hand and felt almost cold without it. "You know," I began aloud. "He used to tell me that he loved me. He used to tell me all of those sweet nothings that would make me swoon..." I let out a hard, bitter smile as I stared at it, "The sad part is that I believed him."

A hand from behind me reached out and took the ring out of my grasp. "Sophie..."

I didn't respond. There were so many thoughts running through my head, memories, things I should have done, I couldn't focus.

I felt him pick me up and place me on a nearby couch. I still didn't move my gaze from the ground.

He sat down next to me and put his arms on my shoulders. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...be such an ass, a nosy ass."

I shook my head, "Ashton. It's ok. You didn't know. Hell, I didn't know. It was so long ago that I should've gotten over it already." I raised a weary hand to my head, "Silly me, I thought that I had."

He sighed, "I knew that that bastard wasn't good enough for you. I wish that I could've..."

"Done something for me?" I abruptly, spat out bitterly.

"Well yeah. Why didn't you tell me?"

I don't know, maybe it was pent up frustration, but suddenly I was very angry. "Are you out of your mind! 'Why didn't I tell you?' When was I supposed to tell you? Amidst our nonexistent weekly telephone chats? Or better perhaps the imaginary letters we wrote to each other oh so often?" I shook my head, almost shaking with rage, "Don't you dare try to put this on me."

"You could've written..." He said softly.

"Yeah Ashton...and where would I have sent the letters?" I asked, still angry.

"To my house... in San Diego." He said, wondering why I didn't know that. "I gave you the address didn't I?"

"You didn't. You never even told me that you were leaving. I found out when I dropped by your house one day and found it sold."

"I..." He fumbled for words and I just couldn't handle being around him right then. It was just too much. I got up and walked out. I hadn't meant to say those things, I hadn't meant to bring that up. It was no longer relevant. It was petty. I should've let it go.

I winced as I realized why I'd never mentioned it before. I'd been more than a little shocked when I found out. I mean how are you supposed to react when you discovered that your best friend has just picked up and left, without leaving you a note or an address or anything. I guess I went into a state of denial. I turned to Devon and threw myself whole-heartedly into that relationship. Drowning other sorrows and disappointments in that. Maybe that's why it hurt so much when my last attempt at a meaningful relationship had blown up in my face. And here I was letting it all happen again.

A/N: So more writing. I edited a little. Not much cause I'm a lazy bum. Um... I'm experimenting with not responding to reviews in this chapter because... I've just got so much badness about people not liking that. Since I don't really expect a lot of reviews for this little continuation anyway it's not a big thing. Um... I posted this because I was supposed to have the next chapter of "At Last" up today and I was going to but my dog knocked the cord out of the socket and I lost it. Ugh, but he's so cute so I can't get mad. This is to appease everyone with the slowness. I'm sorry. I'll try to have it up soon.


"Hey," he said, stopping, and titling my chin up so he could see my eyes. "Listen to me for a sec. You are by no means stupid. You're smart, you're gorgeous, you're talented..."

My eyes grew with surprise at the mention of gorgeous. I blushed and looked down. Did that mean that...

Thank you to everyone who reviewed. I do really appreciate it, and you know I love reading all of your thoughts and comments. Let me know what you think ok?