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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
“I have your presents at home for you to unwrap later,” Brayden said, with a smile.
“You didn’t have to get me anything,” I protested.
Brayden laughed. “Yeah, right. If you went home empty-handed on your birthday weekend, I’d be cut off from sex until my birthday.”
I giggled. “Okay, so maybe I expect you to get me a little something.”
His amused expression grew serious. “I wanted to get you something really big this year, but the time isn’t right.”
“A puppy?” I asked hopefully.
He shook his head. “No, it’s not a dog.”
“Then what was it?”
“I can’t tell you, or it won’t be a surprise.”
“It’s not fair to tease me like that,” I protested.
“Fine then. I wanted to get you a ring.”
I swallowed hard. Oh wow, an engagement ring. Even though I knew I wanted to marry Brayden, it seemed like a big step since we were still so young. At the same time, I wanted to belong to him in all ways, and being called a fiancée meant a lot more than just girlfriend. “You know, you don’t have to get me a ring to ask me to marry you.”
He scowled at me. “What kind of asshole would I be if I did that?”
“One who didn’t care about material things?”
“It’s not happening.”
“Fine then. I’ll just wait.”
“It’s more than just the ring, Lily. Not only do I want you to have a symbol of our commitment to wear, but I want to go to your father and ask for your hand in marriage. I don’t want to do that until I’ve made a little something of myself to where I can show him I can take care of you.”
His earnest tone and sweet words brought tears to my eyes. “You really mean that, don’t you?”
“I sure do.”
Squeezing my arms tighter around his neck, I pulled him down to where I could kiss him. After a few breathless moments of making out, I eased back. Smiling at him, I said, “I love you, Brayden Vanderburg. I want nothing more than to be your wife. Although I’d be happy living with you in just a box on the street, I’ll respect the fact that you want to prove yourself to me and my dad.”
“It means so much to me that you’re willing to wait.”
“I’ll wait forever for you, Brayden.”
“I promise it won’t be that long. I want us married and having kids before we’re twenty five.”
My eyes bulged. “Twenty five? That’s only four years. Please tell me you just want us to get started having kids at twenty five.”
He grinned. “Maybe. I just know I want a houseful. I don’t care if they’re boys or girls. I just want them to be as good looking as you and have your sweetness and beautiful blue eyes.”
“I hope they’re as talented as their father. And have his warm, caring heart, along with his looks.”
“We’re going to make beautiful babies.”
He ducked his head to kiss me. “Someday.”
ONE YEAR LATER
“That’ll be a hundred and twenty dollars,” the cashier at the Shop and Go said.
Brayden reached into his wallet and handed the woman a credit card. It was known among the five of us as “The Runaway Train” card. It paid for gas in the bus and groceries and food. At the end of the month, the guys just divided the bill equally among each other. It had been a necessity when we started out on the road two weeks ago.
When I eyed all the shopping bags, I whistled for the others. “Little help here, guys!”
AJ and Jake quickly shoved the magazines they were reading back into the rack and then scrambled to grab some of the grocery bags. “Where’s New Guy?” I teasingly asked. Poor Rhys, the new bassist, was constantly being called New Guy, rather than his name. I think it was some sort of initiation shit the guys were doing, and I had picked up on it.
Jake grimaced. “He got a call from the rents. Didn’t sound pretty.”
“Oh,” I murmured. I didn’t know much about the newest member of Runaway Train. Rhys had joined the band just two months ago. Teague, Jake’s cousin and the bassist, had decided that he didn’t want to embark on the summer tour with the guys. He felt like he really needed to focus on school. After he quit, the guys worried about finding another bass player who would mesh with them all.
Then they remembered a guy who had been coming to some of the Runaway Train shows at Eastman’s. His name was Rhys McGowan, and he was two and half years younger than the other guys. He’d graduated high school at sixteen and was already working on his pre-law degree at Emory in Atlanta. Besides being a genius, he had mad skills at playing the bass guitar, which he had taken up only after he’d mastered the cello.
Because of my crazy school schedule, as well as preparing to be gone for the summer with Brayden, I didn’t get to meet Rhys until I stepped on the bus two weeks ago. So far I liked him a lot, maybe even more than Teague when it came down to it.
As we started out to the parking lot, I cocked my head at Brayden. “What’s his favorite meal?”
“Whose favorite meal?”
“How the hell should I know?”
Rolling my eyes at him, I countered, “Maybe because he lives with you and is your bandmate.”
Brayden snorted. “We’re guys, Lils. We don’t talk about what our favorite foods and shit are.”