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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
Abby’s brows furrowed. “But I thought you guys knew each other as teenagers?”
“We did. After my mom and dad divorced, he left and moved to Atlanta. I’d visit him on weekends, and AJ’s family lived next door. ”
AJ nodded. “My family has always been city dwellers. We don’t do backwoods. Rednecks aren’t real tolerant, ya know?”
I laughed. “Oh please, that’s so not true.”
“Yeah, right. You don’t know how many times I got the ‘You’re not from ‘round here are ya, boy,’ ” AJ drawled in his best hick voice.
I smacked his arm. “I call bullshit, AJ. My redneck family are some of the best people you know and don’t deny it.”
AJ grinned. “Okay, so maybe I enjoyed being in the boonies a little too much with Jake.”
“Yep, I taught his sissy, city boy ass to hunt, fish, and rope cattle.”
Abby’s mouth gaped open. “You have cows too?”
“Naw, my Papa does.”
AJ nudged Abby. “Did you hear that? Every once and awhile, Jake will slip up and sound like a total country bumpkin.”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever.”
Abby smiled. “I like the Southern drawl. I mean, I was twelve when we moved back to the states, so I really can’t call myself a Texan but I sure do love it there. My dad’s brother has this huge ranch that’s out in the middle of nowhere. I could spend days just wandering around the fields and wading through the creeks, feeding the cows, and petting the horses.” A little shiver went through her. “I swear that one day I’ll conquer my fear about getting back on one.”
I stared at her for a moment, taking in the sincerity of her words. I’d never, ever met a girl who sounded like she loved the backwoods as much as I did. “You won’t have much time for ranches if you start headlining with your brothers.”
Her expression darkened a little. “Tell me about it. They’re going to put us on a grueling tour in the fall. I can’t even remember how many cities are on it. We’ll barely get home for Christmas.” She sighed. “That’s not the life I see for myself. For the first time in my life, I have some roots, and I want it to stay that way.” Her cheeks reddened a little as she added, “Not to mention wanting a home of my own and kids.”
AJ chuckled. “You want all that now?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” She cocked her head at him. “You think I’m too young to be married and have kids?”
At the same time, Rhys, AJ, and I in perfect unison replied, “Absolutely.”
She rolled her eyes. “Considering the sources, I’ll choose to ignore that.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
Billie Jean, along with another waitress, interrupted the conversation by bringing our food. Once they left the table, Abby leaned in on her elbows and pinned me with a hard stare. “It means that you three are out for nothing but no-strings-attached sex. You can’t imagine anyone wanting more than just one night stands or meaningless hook-ups. I’m sure if I asked Brayden, he would feel differently.”
Bray winked at Abby. “But I’m probably not the best person to ask. I’ve always been an old soul. Lily and I married when we were your age, and Jude came a year later.” A genuine smiled formed on his lips. “I wouldn’t take anything—not the stardom, the fan adulation, or the money—for what my family means to me.”
Abby’s expression melted at his words, and she practically puddled at his feet. “Aw, that’s so sweet.” She reached over and patted his arm. “I sure hope I have what you do some day.”
“You will. Just be patient. The right guy will come along—one who accepts everything about you and respects your boundaries and your character.”
Abby gave Bray a beaming smile. “Thank you.”
At the mention of her ‘boundaries’, there was a question I had to ask. “So Angel—”
She huffed out an exaggerated breath. “Do you all really have to keep calling me that?”
“Fine. Abby,” I began with a grin. “Is what you claimed earlier really true? You know, about being a virgin, or were you just shitting us to try and steer us from getting in your pants?”
“Jake,” Brayden warned.
I held my hands up. “What’s wrong with asking a simple question for clarification?”
“Because part of your bet with Abby entailed you being a gentleman, and last time I checked, a gentleman doesn’t question a woman’s past or lack thereof.”
Abby shook her head. “It’s okay, Brayden. I don’t mind answering the question.” She stared straight into my eyes. “Yes, it’s true that I’m a virgin.”
“Damn,” AJ muttered.
“But how is that humanly possible?” Rhys questioned.
Abby laughed. “Mainly because I have a strong belief system, but I also have pretty high standards.”
I glanced down at her hand. “So where’s your purity ring then?”
Her cheeks flushed a little. “Well, I don’t wear one because they mean you’re waiting for marriage, and I don’t necessarily believe in that.”
“You don’t?” I pressed.
“I did when I was younger, but for now, it’s more about me waiting until I’m in love.”
I furrowed my brows. “So all it’ll take is for you to fall in love with some dude, and you’ll give it up? Just like that?” I snapped my fingers for effect.