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|Melody of the Heart(Runaway Train #4) by Katie Ashley|
“Yeah, he’ll be out in a minute.” With that, I slipped out the door and got on the elevator. On the ride down to the fitness center, I tried to still my nerves. This had to be done. Jake and I couldn’t continue to go on like we had, especially not now with Brayden and me getting married.
When I reached the gym, I searched the occupants for him. Just as I was about to leave and go back to the room, I saw the door leading out to the pool and sauna. Jake was gliding under water as he did laps.
Walking around the edge of the pool, I sat down on one of the chairs and took my boots off. Then I eased down on the concrete edge and dipped my feet in the water. As Jake neared me, he jerked his head out of the water. “Hi,” I said.
“Hey.” As he pushed his wet hair back, he glanced around. “What are you doing down here by yourself?”
“I needed to talk to you.”
His brows rose in surprise. “The other day wasn’t enough to get your point across?”
I grimaced. “I’m sorry about hitting you.”
Jake came to rest his arms on the edge of the pool. “Don’t be. I sure as hell deserved it and then some.” He gazed up at me. “So what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Brayden and I are getting married.”
A range of emotions flickered in his eyes before he finally smiled. “Congratulations. I’m really happy for you guys.”
“You really mean that?”
“Yeah, I do.” At what must have been my skeptical gaze, Jake sighed. He pulled himself out of the water to sit by my side. “If you had asked me that question a week ago, I would have said no I wasn’t. But I was being my usual stupid, selfish asshole self.”
Gripping the edge of the pool, I swirled my feet around in the water. “Why do you hate me?” I finally asked.
“Jake, please, I need for you to be honest with me.”
Brushing his hand over his face, Jake asked, “Bray didn’t tell you about our conversation before he left for Georgia, did he?”
“Shit,” he muttered. He stared down at his hands for a few seconds before glancing back at me. “I never hated you, Lily. The truth is I hated myself because I cared about you more than I should.”
I don’t think anything else so shocking could have come out of Jake’s mouth. For a moment, I almost wished he had admitted he hated me. I could have worked with that. But learning what he really felt was overwhelming. “How long did you feel that way?”
He shrugged. “A year. Maybe longer.”
“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
With a snort, he replied, “Just exactly what was I supposed to say? ‘Hey Bray, I like your girl, and I think she should ditch her high school sweetheart and take up with me. Hope this doesn’t cause any hard feelings between you and me’.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“It wasn’t like I was heartsick and pining away for you, Lils. I just grew to like you more than I should. Then when Brayden started to change, I thought it would be so nice not having you around anymore.”
“Ouch,” I murmured.
His smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m an asshole, remember?”
I shook my head. “That’s just it, Jake. You can be a really sweet and caring guy. I don’t know why you sell yourself short and let the jerk side of you come out so much.”
“I don’t know either.” He reached over and took my hand in his. “I’m so fucking sorry for hurting you, Lily. You never deserved any of the shit I gave you. I don’t know why I acted the way I did. I should have just manned up and moved on, appreciated the relationship that we had. But I seem to have a special gift for fucking things up.”
“Thank you. Your apology means a lot. I really mean that.”
“I promise you that things will be different when you come out on tour with us. You can count on me to do whatever I can to make you feel comfortable.”
“I would like that a lot.”
He smiled. “This last year without you has been pretty much shit for Brayden.”
“It has? I figured he’d been living it up, having the time of his life.”
“He did enjoy it all for about a couple of months. But then I think he began to realize it wasn’t all that he thought it was. More than that, he started realizing what he had lost. Like me, he’s a stubborn jackass who hates to admit when he’s wrong. So he just kept going through the motions.” Jake shook his head. “He’s been so fucked in the head he hasn’t been able to write anything since you guys broke up.”
I gasped. “Seriously?”
“Why is that so shocking to you? You’re his muse, Lily. The person that got him writing songs to begin with. It makes sense that when you were gone, he lost his gift.”
“I had no idea. I knew you guys put out a new album a month or so after we broke up.”
“All those songs he had already written. Most of what is going on our new album is stuff I wrote.”
“But he needs you for way more than just songwriting.”
“I would hope so,” I replied, with a teasing smile.
“You’re his soul mate, Lily. He’s never going to be any good without you.”
My breath hitched at his words. “You really mean that, don’t you?”