Personal Soldier

Ryan Decides It’s Time To Stand Strong And Be Hayley’s Personal Soldier
Some images are slightly NSFW

Winter, Year 6
Maggie is 53, Ryan is 28, Hayley is 27, Elliott is 21, Christopher is 18 and Rosie is 17

Elliott hummed and strummed a tune on his guitar while Ryan tried to wrap his head around the weird and wonderful conspiracy theories in the book he was reading. Not only was the muic distracting, but so were his thoughts.
Hayley’s constant battles with the press were praying on his mind. The most recent transgression had been her attending the tile-placing ceremony for her friend and ex-boyfriend, Jack Goldsmith. The press had photographed her getting into a verbal fight with Rebecca (an understandable occurrence, as far as Ryan was concerned) but were also speculating about whether Ryan had known about her appearance at the event.
There were even suggestive remarks made about her hugging Jack. Ryan was irritated because of course he’d known about the event; Hayley had phoned him the night before and mentioned it. He didn’t mind that she’d hugged Jack; he was still her friend and he trusted her. Why did the media have to make such a big deal about everything?

He vented to Elliott as the two sat down to eat together. As much as he’d thought it’d be a nuisance having Elliott living with him, the two brothers actually seemed closer than ever before. They gave each other space and privacy, something they knew they’d never get with their parents.

Every time Ryan spent time with Hayley, he found something new to like about her. He’d even got used to her being away for weeks at a time. He found that he appreciated her even more when she was around and he made a point of spending as much time with her as possible.

She’d recently come back from such a tour and Ryan was keen to have her to himself for the evening.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go out somewhere later?” Hayley asked as Ryan pulled her into a hug.
“Not tonight. I don’t get to spend much time with just you so I want to make tonight count.”
“I see you all the time!” Hayley said, laughing.
“Yes,” Ryan agreed, “but usually when you’re surrounded by photographers. Tonight, I want just you.”

When Ryan and Hayley spent the night together, it was always worth it. Ryan simply couldn’t get enough of her.

The following morning, Ryan found his youngest brother, Christopher, waiting outside the front door.
“Well, this is a nice surprise,” Ryan commented as he sat with his brother on the sofa. “Keep it down though, if you could. Hayley’s still asleep.”
Christopher smiled weakly. “No problem. I’m sorry to barge in; I probably should have phoned first. If I’d known you were going to have Hayley here still…”
“Don’t worry about it, she won’t mind.” Ryan sat back and smiled. “She knows my family are important to me.”
“How do you…get the confidence?” Christopher asked. “You know, with…women.”
“You mean sex?” Ryan chuckled. “Is that what’s bothering you? Well, it comes with time, Chris. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call confident the first time with Hayley.”
“Well, she wasn’t your first though, was she?”
Ryan raised his eyebrows. “Is that what you think?” He chuckled. “She was, actually, since you asked.”
“What, seriously?” Christopher widened his eyes.
Ryan nodded. “It was a bit awkward in a way because she seeing a student at the University back then. It was right after Dad told me Elliott needed to come and live with me. I’d fancied her for ages and she’d recently moved to the Arts Quarter, near my flat. She invited me in for drinks and one thing led to another.”
“So you were drunk?”
Laughing, Ryan shook his head. “You do jump to conclusions, don’t you? I wasn’t drunk; call it a shot of courage. Anyway, you wanted to talk to me?”

Christopher shook himself. “Oh yeah. I’ll get straight to the point. I hate to have to do this but could you lend me some money? I promise I’ll pay you back,” he added, quickly.
“Yeah, of course you can. What’s up?”
Christopher cringed slightly. “Books, mostly. Textbooks and extra acting classes. I don’t feel like I get enough practical experience on the course, so I thought some extra acting classes might help but they cost money.”
“I hear you.” Ryan smiled. “Is ยง250 okay?”
Looking relieved, Christopher nodded. “That’d be great.”

“Okay, sent it across to your account,” Ryan said after a few minutes. “I gather Dad refused to help again?”
“I never asked him.” Christopher replied. “Thanks, Ryan!” He hugged his brother tightly. “I promise I’ll pay you back as soon as I can!”
“Don’t worry so much about it!” Ryan grinned. “Honestly, Chris. You worry about everything.”

Elliott came back from a good night at work with a handsome promotion. He’d been enjoying work as an entertainer lately and with a promotion, his chances of being noticed as a musician were increasing.
He also wanted to talk to Ryan about the possibility of getting a dog at long last.

Ryan had no objections so Elliott adopted an adorable little Corgi puppy!

The peaceful atmosphere didn’t last long. Maggie and Rosie came round for a visit after Ryan had gone out to work and Elliott found himself struggling to make conversation. In recent years, Rosie had become more and more like their mother. While that was certainly better than her being like William, Elliott found it difficult to relate to their mother at the very best of times.

Ryan had managed to escape the usual interrogation from his mother by taking Hayley out to the Humour and Hijinks Festival. He loved surprising her and a very public date at the festival was something she would both love and wouldn’t expect.
As usual, he was right.

He’d been thinking a lot lately about Hayley, his relationship with her and what it meant to him and his future. He was tired of always trying to do the ‘right’ thing to improve his relationship with his father. He was just beginning to realise that his father’s love was conditional; as long as they all toed the line and were not likely to embarrass him by association, he would support their decisions. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter to William that his sons might be miserable and lonely, isolated from the family due to fear over his reactions.
Ryan knew his father wouldn’t approve of Hayley living with Ryan; he definitely wouldn’t approve of Ryan marrying Hayley. Finally, Ryan was ready to cast off his worries and fears over William’s reaction to embrace what he really wanted.
A future with Hayley.

Out in the open air, he located Hayley talking to some fans and gently tugged her away. Once they were reasonably alone, he dropped to one knee.
“Ryan, what are you doing?” Hayley asked as her hand flew to her chest.
“Tying my shoelaces,” Ryan said. “Hayley, we’ve been together for over three years now. Ever since I met you, I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. The last three years proved I was right; but more importantly, you’re also the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met and, if I’m honest, I can’t envision my future without you in it.”

“Hayley Bolton, will you marry me?”

Hayley was taken aback. She’d never realised how serious Ryan was about her. She always appreciated his relaxed attitude to her busy schedule; he was always supportive of her work and travel and he’d never once complained. He’d lifted her up when she was down. He even whisked her away when the going got tough with the press. He did everything right. He’d even been very understanding when she’d been dating two men at once. He’d defended her when the press were tearing her to shreds over her cheating and had stood up for her on a number of occasions when the press simply wouldn’t back down. He’s been her personal soldier for three years and never once had he been anything less.
Marriage wasn’t something Hayley had given much thought to yet. She was 27 with a successful music career. Oddly, she felt too young to be settling down and getting married but, on the other hand, Ryan was one-in-a-million.

“Ryan, of course I’ll marry you!” she cried. Ryan slid the ring onto her finger and she leapt into his arms.

“What about your father?” Hayley asked him later.
“Stuff my father. I love you, Hayley. I’ve spent three years worrying about what he’s going to think if our relationship goes the distance and I’m tired of it. I love you and I want to build a life with you – whether my father likes it or not. It’s my life, Hayley; not his.”
Hayley smiled and kissed Ryan lightly. “I love you, too,” she whispered.

Later still, Hayley and Ryan had drifted into the Arts Centre for a drink at the bar. Hayley had a few things to sort out in the recording studio in the basement so Ryan slid his jacket on and waited for her. He still couldn’t believe she’d said yes.
He was the happiest man in San Myshuno.

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