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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
And with those words, the happy little bubble of my day burst. “You mean you were worried about me not fitting in,” I countered softly.
He scowled at me. “That’s not it at all, Lils. I just wanted to get you something nice. What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing.” I then forced a smile to my face. “I haven’t had a new party dress in a long time.”
He grinned and went over to the closet. He took out a garment bag and then unzipped it. “What do you think?”
It was a nightmare—both the dress itself and the world I found myself in. It was short, and I knew from the material it would be skin tight on me. With the cutouts on the halter top, it would be showing a lot of cleavage too. While I’m sure it cost a fortune and had a famous designer’s name attached to it, it wasn’t me, and Brayden should’ve known that.
“That’s some dress,” I finally managed to say.
“I know, right? Fuck, Lils, you’re going to look so hot in this tonight.”
“Thanks,” I murmured.
He glanced at the clock. “We’ve got a few hours before we have to get ready. What do you want to do?”
“We could recreate last night with the movies.”
His brows furrowed. “You’ve never been to LA before, and you want to stay holed up here on a gorgeous day?”
I shrugged. “I just want to spend time with you.”
“I think we can do that and see some of the sites.” He jerked his chin at the bathroom. “Go get dressed, and we’ll go for a ride.”
“Okay,” I agreed, although I would have much rather just stayed in with him.
After throwing on some shorts and a T-shirt, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and went to meet Brayden. He ushered me into the garage where a sleek, black Aston Martin convertible sat. “Oh my God, is this yours?”
“No, it’s the label’s. But it’s ours to drive as long as we’re staying at the house.”
“Wait until you feel how it rides.”
I slid onto the seat and buckled up. Brayden revved the engine, and then backed us out of the garage. Once we got on the main road, I knew exactly what he was talking about with the car’s ride. He drove me around some of the other parts of Venice Beach. Then we went to Hollywood. We strolled along the Walk of Fame and checked out the footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
While I had initially wanted to stay in, I had so much fun being out with Brayden. It felt like the past when we were exploring Atlanta together during our first year of college. Of course, the one thing that was different this time was Brayden being recognized by people. He got stopped three times for his autograph.
On the drive back to Venice Beach, we were both quiet. Brayden finally turned to me and smiled. “What are you thinking about?”
“Just about how much things have changed in the last few months.”
“For the better right?”
I shifted in my seat. “It’s much better for the band,” I replied.
Brayden frowned. “What are you not saying?”
Folding my hands in my lap, I sighed. “You don’t think things have been different between us?”
“I guess so. I mean, we’re both very busy right now.”
“I know that. It’s just…”
He snorted. “Yeah, I guess I am. That’s what happens when a nobody becomes somebody.”
I couldn’t help cringing at his words. “You were never a nobody, Brayden.”
“In the industry I was. Now that’s all changed.”
“But it shouldn’t change you,” I protested.
Gripping the steering wheel a little tighter, Brayden said, “You can’t expect me to be the same person I was, Lily. People change as they mature and then when life puts them on a different path. I sacrificed a hell of lot to get where I am. Now that I’m here, I want to enjoy it. If that means partying or drinking harder than I used to, then I’m going to do it.”
“I see,” I murmured.
Brayden took his eyes off the road to momentarily pin me with a stare. “What are you getting at exactly? That I’m not the man you fell in love with or some bullshit?”
“No, that’s not it at all. You know I love you. It’s just hard for me since you’ve changed.”
“Sounds like it’s time you did a little changing.”
“So I can fit in better with you now?”
Hurt pierced my chest at his callousness. “Sure. I can try.”
“Glad to hear it.” To signal that the conversation was done, he reached over and turned on the radio. We didn’t talk the rest of the drive. When we pulled up at the house, I eased out of the car and headed inside. “We got about an hour before the car comes to pick us up. So get cracking on making yourself presentable,” Brayden said, with a grin.
“We couldn’t have me looking unpresentable, could we? That would be too mortifying,” I replied, before I stalked off to the bedroom.
I locked myself in the bathroom. I took another shower before I did my hair and makeup. When it was time to slide on the dress, I had to fight the urge to rip it to shreds. I hated the damn thing and everything it represented. But instead, I put it on. Standing in front of the mirror, I saw I had achieved just what Brayden wanted. I had transformed myself into an acceptable date for a desirable rock star like him to be seen with.