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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
AJ shook his head sadly. “He said he would talk to you in the morning.”
Glancing back out at the water, I expected myself to break down, to become hysterical and sink down onto my knees. But the tears didn’t come. It seemed I had shed all the tears I could at the moment for Brayden. “Will you take me to the airport now?”
“Yeah, I will.”
With a nod, I turned and started down the deck to him. “I just need a few minutes to pack.”
“Take all the time you need.” AJ then slipped out of room, leaving me alone to do what I had to do. It didn’t take me long to throw my clothes and makeup into my suitcase. I didn’t even bother trying to neatly pack. I just wanted out of there and the faster the better.
I grabbed my purse and suitcase and started to the door. When I looked down at my left hand, I paused. Without a second thought, I slipped off my engagement ring. There was no reason to take it with me, and it had belonged to Brayden’s grandmother anyway. Putting down my things, I went over to the nightstand and put it down by the picture frame. It belonged with the happy couple in the pictures, not what we had become.
When I started down the hall, AJ met me halfway and took my things. I knew I would miss his sense of humor, his dancing, and his larger than life personality. But what I would miss most of all was his kind and caring heart.
I was leaving California, but what happened to me in the few short days I was here would haunt me for a long, long time.
As Lily painfully recounted the demise of our relationship, I fought the urge to throw up. It seemed like she was talking about a stranger. I guess in a way, whoever that asshole was that I had become, was a stranger to me. Even after seeking out a therapist years ago, I still couldn’t quite grasp why I had changed. While the therapist gave me some psychobabble spin of why the sudden fortuitous changes in my life affected my psyche, it still didn’t seem to set in to me how I could have become such a superficial son of a bitch.
When the story progressed to the agonizing end that night at Chateau Marmont, I rose off the couch and started pacing the room.
“Brayden?” Giovanni inquired.
“Do you need to take a break?”
Raking my hand through my hair, I replied, “I think I need a drink.” I stalked over to the mini-bar and threw it open. After grabbing three small bottles of Jack, I reached for a glass. Emptying them one by one, I then took a large gulp. When I caught Giovanni’s eye, I gave a mirthless laugh. “For the record, I only allow myself to have one glass of hard liquor at a time. I might throw back three or four beers, but it’s only one glass of liquor. It was this shit,” I held up my glass of Jack, “that partly contributed to me being such an unimaginable bastard to Lily.”
“So during your early days of Runaway Train success, you abused alcohol.”
“Oh yeah. Big time.”
“And after you and Lily got back together, did you try to curb your drinking?”
“Yes. That’s when I first instated the hard liquor clause. I realized what it had cost me.”
Giovanni frowned. “There’s no record of you ever being in rehab.”
“That’s because I wasn’t. I did it cold fucking turkey. I was that dedicated not to ever screwing up with Lily again.”
“I didn’t realize talking about the past would affect you so much,” Lily said, softly.
Turning around to face her, I shook my head. “It doesn’t just affect me. It tears me apart, shreds me. Not only because I treated you that way, but because I don’t even have a fucking good reason for why I started acting the way that I did.”
Giovanni cleared his throat. “If I might interject here, I think Lily touched on many reasons why your behavior towards her changed.”
I rolled my eyes. “Trust me, I’ve already had a therapist explain that it was the alcohol, the separation, the manipulative bastards who worked for the label, blah, blah, blah.” I took another gulp of Jack. “It’s all bullshit. I should have been stronger. I mean, I didn’t just lose myself. I lost the most important thing in the world to me—the very reason to get out of bed and make the music that I did.”
Lily rose off the couch and came over to me. “It was just a bump in the road.”
“Don’t sugarcoat it, babe.”
“Okay, it was more like a dark, cavernous crater in the road. But in the end, we got through it.”
“Only because you were willing to forgive me.”
Giovanni came over to us. “Why don’t we move we forward, shall we?”
“That would be a good idea,” Lily replied. She offered me her hand and then led me over to the couch.
Once we were seated, Giovanni started in on the next question. “After Lily left you in California, did you try to reach out to her, mend fences?”
With an anguished moan, I closed my eyes. “I called her the next morning like I said I would. She was back home in Georgia then. It wasn’t a good call.”
“You didn’t question her as to why she left or ask her to come back?”
When I dared to open my look at Lily, tears pooled in her eyes. “I can’t do this,” I muttered. “I can’t dredge eyes and this shit up again and hurt my wife.”
“Brayden, it’s okay. I’m okay,” Lily protested.
“No, you’re not. I’ve made you cry. Again. I swore I would never let that happen.”