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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
“I was trying to find Brayden, so I could tell him I was leaving.”
“No, you can’t do that.” When I cocked my brows at him, he said, “I mean, you can’t leave yet. Why don’t you stay and dance with me?”
I knew then that Brayden was in the next room, and he was doing something that would be hurtful to me. I shook my head. “AJ, get out of my way.”
“Please, Lils, you don’t want to see him like this.”
Closing my eyes, I willed myself to wake up from the nightmare I found myself in. “Is he with another woman?”
“No, God, no. It’s just he’s…really fucked up.”
“He’s not even been gone an hour.”
“I’m sorry. But he is.”
Even though I knew it wasn’t the best time to confront Brayden, I side-stepped AJ and hurried around the corner. Overstuffed sofas filled the room along with the pungent aroma of pot. With his tie undone and suit disheveled, Brayden lounged on a couch with two other men—I think they were label executives. On the table in front of them were probably dozens of empty shot glasses along with a white powdery substance with a razor blade.
At my gasp of horror, Brayden jerked his head up to meet my gaze. “What are you doing in here?”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I think I could ask you the same thing.”
“I’m unwinding. Having a good time. Something your uptight ass doesn’t know how to do.”
“By drinking and smoking pot? I mean, please tell me you’re not in here snorting up.”
Brayden shot off the couch and grabbed me by the shoulders. “Keep your fucking voice down!”
I shoved him away. “Don’t you dare put your hands on me!”
Glancing behind him, Brayden said, “AJ, get her out of here.”
“I think it’s you that needs to leave, man.”
Brayden’s brows shot up. “You’re taking her side now? Whatever happened to bros before hos?”
AJ closed the gap between them in one long stride. Grabbing Brayden by the neck, he shoved him past the couch and up against the wall. “AJ!” I cried.
Ignoring me, he practically snarled at Brayden. “You need to shut your fucking mouth before you say or do anything else you’re going to regret in the morning.”
“Get off me.”
“I will when you apologize to Lily.”
Brayden glanced at me over AJ’s shoulder. He looked like a stranger. No, he looked at me like I was a stranger. Tears stung my eyes at the final revelation that the man I had once loved, the man I wanted to marry, was gone.
“Sorry,” he finally muttered.
“I’m sorry, too,” I whispered. I was sorry for what had been lost between us in the last few months. I was sorry for the countless promises he’d broken. I was sorry that the future we had once dreamed of together would never come to fruition. I was sorry that no matter how hard he had once tried to stay grounded, Brayden was now just another casualty of fame and fortune.
Turning around, I fled the room. I desperately wanted to leave the ugliness I had seen behind, but I knew it would come with me. In a way, I needed it to. If it didn’t, I would be tempted not to do what I had to do.
When I got to the elevator, AJ appeared at my side. “I’ll take you home.”
“Thank you, but that’s not necessary. Stay here and have some fun. Find a girl to take home.”
He gave me a sad smile. “Right now, none of that matters to me. You’re the only girl I want to take home.”
His words caused the dam of my emotions to break, and I began to sob. He wrapped his arm around me, and I drew myself against his chest. He led us on to the elevator. “I’m sorry, Lils. I’m so fucking sorry,” he murmured against my ear.
“I just don’t understand.”
“I know. I don’t either. All I do know is I’d like to throttle his ass for treating you the way he has.”
“I can’t stay with him. Not when he’s like this.”
AJ grimaced. “I know that. I wouldn’t expect for you to. You deserve so much better.”
I brushed the tears from my eyes. “I only deserve the old Brayden.”
Taking my hand, AJ led me off the elevator. The limo that had brought us to the party was waiting outside. At AJ’s wave, the driver hustled out to come open the door for us. Once we were inside, I buried my head in my hands and wept.
AJ wrapped me in his strong arms. When I had finally had my fill, I pulled away. “Will you do something for me?”
“Anything, mi amor.”
“Will you take me to the airport in a little while?”
“Don’t you think you should wait to talk to Brayden?”
“There’s nothing left to say.”
“I still think you need to talk to him. I’ll call Rhys and have him bring Brayden home.”
Feeling defeated, I murmured, “Fine.”
When we got to the house, I went straight for Brayden’s bedroom. The moment I closed the door behind me, I stripped myself out of the horrible dress. I threw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Then I escaped out onto the deck. Leaning forward on the railing, I listened to the waves crashing against the shore. “Fight for me again, Brayden. Please,” I whispered, as I thought back to our first date.
At the sound of the door opening, I whirled around. My heart sank at the sight of just AJ standing there. “He wouldn’t come home, would he?”