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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
“Just strange me. He and Dee have made friends over the year. I think he was treated badly by some men in the past.” A sad smile crept on my lips. “I think that’s why we get along so well.”
AJ took in my words before leaning over to bestow a sweet and tender kiss on my lips. When he pulled away, he smiled. “I guess I’ll just have to win him over and prove to him and his owner that not all men are douchebags.”
“I think that would be great,” I murmured. Deep down, I couldn’t help but doubt AJ’s sincerity or if he would really take the time and effort to prove to me he was different. I desperately wanted him to—more than anything I needed him to.
He nodded before grabbing my suitcase. “Come on, sexy. Your chariot awaits to take you to the great and wonderful Sticks of Bumblefuck.”
I laughed. “Okay, let’s go.” After I got my purse and keys and threw on my sunglasses, I followed him to the door. I locked up and then we headed down the porch steps. At the sight of the gleaming silver chrome vehicle in the driveway, I raised my sunglasses onto my forehead to eye his SUV. “Nice Hummer.”
“Thanks. The ride is pretty cool, too.” When I glanced over at AJ, he waggled his eyebrows. “You walked right into that one.”
I shoved my overnight bag at him, catching him in the gut. “Douchebag.”
“Oomph,” he muttered before grinning. “I’m just glad to have this bad boy back. Seems like it’s been in the shop forever.” He opened the passenger side door for me.
“Thank you,” I replied as I climbed inside. Just before I collapsed on the seat, AJ smacked my ass. When I turned back to glare at him, he licked his lips suggestively. My response was to maturely stick out my tongue at him. He chuckled as he closed the door and made his way around the side of the Hummer.
When AJ cranked up, a Runaway Train song started playing. I cut my eyes over at him. “You were seriously listening to your own music?”
“Nope. I had it on so you could listen to my music,” he replied, as he pulled out of my driveway.
“I heard it last night. Wasn’t that enough?”
“I’m not convinced you’re a diehard fan yet.”
“I would think the fact that I’m a diehard fan of you and your amazing cock would cover me.”
My words caused AJ to momentarily swerve on the road. When he had recovered, he glanced over at me. “I promise that I’ll turn on some country for you in a little while.”
I couldn’t help grinning at both his reaction to my words and his compromise. “Okay, it’s a plan.”
Since my house was further out of Atlanta in East Cobb, I was not as far away from Jake’s farm as AJ was. Even in his Hummer, his lead foot made good timing. As we got off the interstate and onto a two-lane road, our surroundings melted into an emerald blur of trees lining the road. “Wow, this really is out in the boonies.”
“And we’re not there yet,” AJ replied with a grin.
“So you come out here a lot?”
AJ bobbed his head. “Yeah, Jake’s dad and stepmom moved in next door to us when we were twelve. At first, we just got to hang out together every other weekend, but we still got tight. Then Jake started having me come out here to visit. I’d spend weeks at a time here in the summers.” He turned to me with a smile. “I guess you could say our band was born up here in the boonies. We weren’t more than fourteen, but Jake would play guitar, one of his cousins, Teague, would join in on bass, and then I did the drums. We became Runaway Train.”
In my mind, I tried to picture a teenaged AJ pounding out the rhythm, giving his heart and soul to his garage band, or barn, performance. “How you’d get the name?”
“Jake and his emo-shit self.”
AJ chuckled. “Yeah, after his parents divorced, he got really obsessed with the song Runaway Train by Soul Asylum. Writing songs like he does, Jake’s really into deep symbolism shit. Me, I liked it because it made me think of Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train, and that was the first song I learned to play besides all the Hispanic music of my uncle’s.”
“When did the other guys come into the picture?”
“We met up with Brayden when we were all freshman at Georgia Tech. Teague left us high and dry to become some aeronautical engineer or some shit, so we recruited Rhys, who was doing his pre-law at Emory.”
“He’s the baby of the group, right?”
AJ snickered. “Yeah, he’s just twenty-three. He’s basically a genius—motherfucker graduated from high school at sixteen and started college right after. He comes from rich as hell, society assholes down in Savannah, so they weren’t thrilled when their golden child, and only son, left school to take up with us.”
“They suck, trust me.”
I cocked my head. “What did your family think of you being a musician rather than a…”
“Ah, I see.”
He shrugged. “They were worried about how I would make a living at first, but they didn’t disown me like Rhys’s parents did.”
“Things are a little better between them now. My parents are pretty laid back. I mean, at the end of the day, they want my brother, sister and me to be happy. They didn’t go apeshit when Antonio came out when he was so young—they supported the fact he was gay.”