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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
My phone buzzed on the counter, and I grabbed it. I couldn’t help grinning when I saw it was Mitch. “Hey douchebag, how the hell are you? I was just thinking about shit from home, and then you call me.” At the silence on the other end, I said, “Mitch? Are you there?”
“What’s going on?”
“Look man, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I figured you’d want to know.”
Just the tone of his voice caused fear to reign down on me. “What’s wrong?” I demanded.
“Paul Gregson was murdered last night.”
The image of Lily’s smiling father burned through my mind so hard I staggered back. “W-What?”
Mitch exhaled a long breath. “There was a shooting at the courthouse. Some death penalty case for a gang member where the dude’s friends started shooting up the place when the sentence was read. Judge Goodwin is in critical condition, along with the new prosecutor, ten people were wounded, and Paul…”
“Jesus,” I muttered, as I fell back against the bathroom counter.
“He was a fucking hero. He jumped on one of the gunmen and took him down, saving who knows how many lives, but he was shot in the chest and stomach. He never made it outside the room.”
While my heart ached for Paul, my thoughts immediately went to Lily. Razor-sharp pain pricked its way through my chest. “How is she?” I asked, knowing Mitch would know exactly who I was talking about.
“Not good, man.”
I couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was handling this. Lily and her father had such a special bond. While she loved her mother intensely, there had never been a stronger Daddy’s Girl than Lily. To lose him period would have shattered her, but to have to lose him so violently and when she was so young, it was life altering.
After a long pause on the line, Mitch cleared his throat. “She’s not seeing anyone right now—she hasn’t gotten serious about anyone since you two broke up. She’s gone out with a few guys—half the coaches at the high school where she’s teaching get permanent wood when she’s around, but she’s not biting.”
I knew why he was telling me this now. Lily was all alone without the two most important men in her life. I had to go to her. I had to be with her during this horrible time. Regardless of what had happened between us, I owed it to her and to Paul.
“When’s the funeral?”
“Friday at two.”
“Okay, I’ll be there.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Well, Paul was always so good to me. I should go and pay my respects.”
“This isn’t about Paul and you know it.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“You still love her, Bray. You’re no fucking good without her, and you know it.”
“Look, I appreciate you calling to tell me about Paul, but when it comes to me and Lily, there’s nothing to discuss.”
“Yeah, really,” I snapped.
“Then answer me this. When was the last time you were able to write a song?”
Motherfucker. I gripped the phone tighter in my hand. He’d gone straight for my jugular on that one. “We’re not working on the album now.”
“That has nothing to do with it, and you and I both know it. Admit it, Bray. You need her. You love her.”
With a mirthless laugh, I said, “Since when does a manwhore advocate monogamy and relationships?”
“Since I finally fell in love three months ago.”
The wind left my body, and I staggered back for the second time that evening. “You’re shitting me?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because Lily wasn’t the only one who saw you change.”
“Ouch man, that hurts.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Talking to you tonight is the first time you’ve sounded like your old self in a hell of a long time.”
While I could have argued with Mitch, I knew it was the truth, too. Losing Lily over who I had become should have been enough to make me turn my life around, but for some reason, I hadn’t. But maybe it wasn’t too late. “For what it’s worth, I am sorry.”
“I know you are. Just like I knew deep down you’d come to your senses one day and realize what a fucking asshole you’d become.”
“That’s a little ironic coming from you, don’t you think?”
Mitch laughed. “Yeah, but I’ve always been an asshole. It suits me. But you’re not cut out for it.”
I chuckled. “Listen, I need to get off the phone here so I can get our PA to make the flight arrangements for me.”
“Will you let me buy you a beer when I get back in town? I need to hear all about this girl who has reformed you.”
“Yeah, I’d like that.”
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I hung up the phone and quickly threw on my clothes. When I got back out to the suite, room service had arrived, and the guys were chowing down. At that moment, I no longer had an appetite. All I could think of was getting back to Lily as quickly as I could.
When AJ saw me, he motioned to my plate. “Get your grub, dude.”
I shook my head. “I need to call Gretchen and get a flight out of here tonight.”