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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
The wind whipped through my hair and rippled through my clothes as I drove over the Bull River Bridge that connected Tybee Island to Savannah. I couldn’t help feeling seventeen again. With a Beatles CD blaring, I sang along at the top of my lungs like I didn’t have a care in the world. Of course, a day at the beach always made me young again. It reminded me of summer vacations with my parents and grandparents. A smile tugged at my lips when I pondered how in the world we were able to get my two younger sisters, my parents, my grandparents, me, and all of our shit into one van. Of course, I’d faced a similar predicament today with the convertible I’d rented for the day at the beach. It had taken two or three times of repacking before I’d managed to get my three children and all of our beach gear inside.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I dug it out. Glancing down at the screen, I motioned to my eleven-year-old son, Jude, who sat next to me. “Cut the volume. It’s your mother.”
After he reached forward to turn down the music, I answered the call. “Hey, baby. What’s up?”
“Where are you?” she demanded.
I could tell by her tone I was already in deep shit. “Almost back to Savannah. Why?”
“Because we’re supposed to be sitting down with Giovanni Coppola right now for an interview, remember?”
“Daddy!” my daughter, Melody, admonished from the back seat.
“Sorry, sweetie, but at the moment, that’s the only word that will suffice.”
When I glanced in the rear view mirror, my less vocal daughter, Lucy, shook her head at me in disapproval. Although their father was a rock star surrounded by men, and sometimes women with mouths like sailors, their mother taught them that swearing was wrong. I don’t know what Lily was thinking when she started that up with them. It was like she was setting my bandmates and me up for failure. Besides¸ she’d been known to let a few juicy words slip before, especially in the heat of the moment when we were in bed.
“Time just slipped away from me, baby. I’ll put the lead out and be there in ten.”
“Don’t you be driving crazy with my babies in that car. You’re carrying precious cargo.”
I smiled at her admonishment. “I won’t, I promise.”
“Bye,” she said, tensely.
“Bye, honey.” Grimacing, I hung up the phone.
“Is Mommy mad at you?” Melody questioned.
“Just a teeny bit.”
“What did you forget this time?” Jude asked, with a grin.
It was common knowledge among my children that I was a little scatterbrained. Without a wife like Lily, I’m not sure if I would be able to survive. It was a personality quirk that had been a part of my life since I was sixteen years old. “This interview thing with a very important rock magazine.”
“Epic fail, Dad,” Jude said, shaking his head.
With a chuckle, I replied, “Ya think?”
Eyeing the speedometer, I then eased my foot down on the accelerator, slightly increasing the speed. I kept my promise to Lily to be safe, but I still wanted to get back as fast as I could. For over half of my life, Lily Marie Gregson had been keeping me on my toes. More than that, she’d been the love of my life through thick and thin, the good and the bad, for better or worse and all that jazz. She’d given me the family I’d always dreamed of with our three beautiful children. And after all these years, she could still get my blood up and running.
The five of us had left our family farm in Roswell, Georgia and had descended on Savannah yesterday. Actually, the entire Runaway Train family, sans Rhys and Allison, had flown in on our band’s jet. We had come to the capitol of Southern grace and charm to see our last single bandmate tie the knot. That was also the reason I had Lily on my ass to get back for the interview. Rolling Stone had decided to do a feature on Rhys and Allison’s wedding. After all, it wasn’t everyday a rock star married his bandmate’s little sister, who was also a rising star in the fashion industry.
But it wasn’t just the soon-to-be newlyweds they wanted to focus on. They wanted to devote a large part of the spread to Lily and me. While the media often loved to focus on Jake and Abby being music's power couple, Lily and I had been singled out this time as music's lasting couple. To them, we were an enigma—high school sweethearts whose twelve-year marriage had stood the tests and trials of the rock star lifestyle. Our envied relationship was put on a pedestal for the rest of my bandmates and their significant others to aspire to. All the attention was a little overwhelming. It was one of the reasons I'd wanted to escape to the beach.
The other reason being that today was Allison’s bridal luncheon. Since Lily was a bridesmaid, I had offered to take the kids to the beach to get them out of her hair. AJ and his girls had joined us as well. Poor Jake, as the brother of the bride, had been roped into staying for the luncheon and helping Abby out with their twins, who rounded out the wedding party as the ring bearer and flower girl.
With all the fun in the sun, I had let time get away from me. I cherished every damn minute we had off the road. Although I now had my own bus that enabled Lily and the kids to travel with me, I thoroughly enjoyed the time away from all that craziness. In the last few years, we had drastically scaled back our touring. Once AJ and Jake became fathers, coupled with Abby wanting to be a hands-on mother, the call of the road was no longer as alluring as living at home with our families. In the end, fame, Grammys, and money are fleeting. Your family is really all you have, all you can count on, and everything that keeps you centered in this crazy world.