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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
Her brows furrowed. “What do you mean?”
“A beautiful girl like you—I’m sure you get told that all the time.”
“Maybe,” she replied. As I brought my knees to my chest, Lily leaned closer to me. “A compliment like that only matters when it comes from someone you want to hear it from.”
“You care that it came from me?” I questioned incredulously.
“Of course I do.”
Before I could think better of it, I blurted, “Do you want to go on a date with me?” The moment the words left my lips, I cringed. Although I wasn’t bad to look at, I had never been good with girls. When they would flirt or come on to me, I was too shy to follow through. I was a sixteen-year-old virgin who had only gotten to second base with a girl and had one short-lived hand job.
Her blue eyes widened. “Seriously?”
“Um…yeah. I mean, it’s only if you want to. I don’t want you doing it out of pity cause you hit me and caused me to pass out.”
Lily laughed. “I would never go on a pity date with you, Brayden.”
She shook her head. “But I would love to go on a regular date with you.”
I couldn’t keep the goofy grin off my face. “Really?”
Cocking her head, Lily asked, “So where are you taking me on our date?”
“Hmm,” I muttered. I hadn’t even bothered to think that far ahead. “Well, next Friday night I’m playing at a frat house.”
Lily’s brows shot up in surprise. “You’re in a band?”
“Not exactly. You see, I have an audition with these guys on Friday night. If everything goes well, then I’m in their band.”
“Wow, that’s really cool.”
“So would you want to come to the party? I’d have to meet you there since I have to help with set-up and sound checks.”
“I’d love to come.”
“Great. The set starts at nine, and then I could take you to dinner afterwards. You know, so we could actually talk rather than having to shout over the loud-as-fuck music.”
Lily grinned. “That sounds like a great plan.”
A throat cleared above us. Lily and I jerked our heads up. I could only guess it was her father staring down at us. “Hi Daddy,” Lily said.
“Hello,” he replied. The corners of his lips twitched. “Would you like to tell me what’s going on here?”
“Oh, yeah, um, I was just meeting our new neighbor.” Pointing to me, she said, “This is Brayden…”
“Vanderburg,” I finished for her.
“Hello Mr. Vanderburg,” Lily’s father replied dryly.
Turning to me, Lily said, “This is my father, Paul.”
I threw my hand out. “Nice to meet you sir.”
Shooting to my feet, I quickly said, “Actually, it’s my grandparents who are your new neighbors. I live across town.”
This time Paul gave me a genuine smile. “That’s good to hear.”
A nervous laugh escaped my lips. Breaking Paul’s intense gaze, I stooped over to pick up some of the apples I had been bringing to Lily. Lamely, I thrust them out to Paul like a peace offering. “They’re from my grandparents’ tree. She kinda forgot them when my cousin was being a dick.” I winced at my language. “I mean, I was bringing them to her because she wanted to bake you a pie on your first day at work.” When I realized my mistake of ruining Lily’s surprise, I muttered, “Oh fuck.”
Paul cocked his head at me. “Damn son, you sure know how to put your foot in your mouth, don’t you?” I didn’t realize I was fully off the hook until Paul started chuckling. Amusement danced in his blue eyes—the same ones as Lily’s. “I’m sure there’s a very interesting story about how the two of you ended up on the ground. Together.”
“Uh, yessir, there is.” I then proceeded to have the worst word vomit ever by telling Paul not only about Mitch being an asshole, but also all about my injury.
“Sounds like you’ve have a rough couple of months.”
“Since you’re supposed to avoid physical injury, do you really think it’s a good idea for you to start dating my daughter?”
My brows lined in confusion as I asked, “Excuse me?”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Paul shot me a hard look. “I’m merely stating the fact if you hurt my daughter, I’m going to hurt you.”
“Daddy!” Lily shrieked in horror.
Paul shook his head. “You see Mr. Vanderburg, I was blessed with four daughters who are my heart and soul. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to ensure their physical and emotional safety. While I’m thankful that two of them are now happily married, I still have Lily and Kylie to worry about. Lily just turned sixteen—to me, she’s still my little girl.” Narrowing his eyes, Paul added, “I’m a lawman, so I can ensure the body is never found.”
Lily smacked her father’s arm. “Daddy, stop it right now!” She glanced from him to me with tears sparkling in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Brayden. I’ll understand if you don’t want to go out with me considering my father is an overprotective jerk.”
“No, no, of course I still want to go out with you.”