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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
I gave her a withering look. “That’s Clapton. He could tell any label to screw themselves if they didn’t like his songs.”
“Fine. Give me a minute here.” She drummed her fingers on the table for a few seconds. “Okay what about Alter Bridge’s In Loving Memory?”
My brows rose in surprise. “You actually listen to Alter Bridge?”
She rolled her eyes. “Contrary to what you think I haven’t been in a hole my entire life or jamming to the Jonas Brothers.”
I couldn’t fight my lips from momentarily turning upwards. “Yeah, well, Alter Bridge’s management isn’t necessarily marketing them the same way ours is.”
“You’re honestly going to sit there and give up so easily on something you obviously feel very passionately about?” She shifted her legs to where her elbows leaned forward on the table. “That doesn’t sound like the kick-ass and take-names Jake Slater I know.”
I scowled at her for a minute before blowing out a frustrated breath. “Okay Miss Fix-It, how do I make it work?”
Tilting her head, she chewed on her bottom lip, lost in thought. “What if you were to choose something symbolic to represent your mother’s…” I knew she couldn’t bring herself to vocalize the words.
“You can be a big girl and say it. Her death.” Abby started to open her mouth, but I silenced her with my hand. “Yeah, you’re sorry. I know. Now continue on about the symbol shit.”
“Like back in the day during the 60’s, people sang songs with symbols in them because of the FCC codes. You know, like the Byrd’s Mr. Tambourine Man was talking about a drug dealer, and I’m sure you know about Puff the Magic Dragon.”
I shot her an exasperated look. “And you just naturally expect me to know about the songs with the drug references?”
She grinned. “I didn’t mean any offense.”
I laughed. “I’ll have you know that I haven’t done drugs since high school, Angel.”
“That’s good to know.”
I made a circular motion beside my temple. “It messes with my creative side, so I like to just say no.”
“Hmm, what about the alcohol?” she challenged.
Damn, she had me there. I couldn’t help the sheepish expression from filling my face. “Yeah, well, we all have our vices I guess.” I then motioned to the notepad. “Okay, you think I should write about my mom’s death with symbols—make the emotions sound like something besides death.”
We sat in silence for a few seconds. When I snapped my fingers, Abby jumped. “What if I made death a person—like a dude I was fighting with for my mom?”
“But make her a girl—the only woman in the world you’ve ever loved.”
She bobbed her head enthusiastically. “You will totally make the audience believe that. Look at I Will Always Love You for example.”
My brow creased in confusion. “Whitney Houston?”
“No, Dolly Parton wrote it, but Whitney made it huge.”
I grinned. “Angel, you seem to have a bit of a Dolly Parton fetish that’s quite disturbing.”
Abby laughed. “Actually, it’s my mom with the Dolly fetish. She’s originally from Sevierville, Tennessee, where Dolly’s from. So I grew up with all her albums, and my mom read her book back in the day. In it, Dolly explains that while the song sounds like letting go of a love relationship, it’s actually about her severing ties with her business and singing partner, Porter Wagoner.”
“What a little fount of knowledge you are,” I teased.
“Trust me, when you grow up in places with sporadic electricity or none at all, you learn to amuse yourself. For my brothers and me, it was learning to play instruments and song writing. For my mom, it was books.”
Sweeping the pencil from behind my ear, I momentarily nibbled on the eraser. “Hmm, so even if death is the f**ker stealing my girl, I still think most of the lyrics I’ve got will work. They just need some tweaking. And I definitely think the melody will work.” I adjusted the guitar on my lap. “What do you think of this?” I asked before strumming a few chords.
Closing her eyes, Abby let the music wash over her. “Wow, that’s good. It has a real haunting quality to it.”
When she opened her eyes, I peered intently at her. Normally, I didn’t want or need any convincing about my creations except from the suits at the label. But this time, I desperately wanted reassurance from Abby. “Yes, I do. Even setting aside what I know about the song’s meaning, I want to cry just hearing the music, and you haven’t even added the lyrics yet.”
“Thank you. Give me a few minutes, okay?”
“Sure.” While she went to pour the glass of orange juice I had suggested, I reworked the lyrics. When I was satisfied I had the emotions right where I wanted them, I put my pencil down. I don’t know how long I had been focusing on the song. It must have been a while because Abby’s glass of juice was empty. She sat patiently in front of me.
Focusing on Abby, I sang the lyrics with everything I had in me. Tears sparkled in her blue eyes before running down her cheeks. “Oh Jake,” she murmured.
“You think that’s it?”
Her hand clutched the place above her heart. “It’s breathtaking.” We sat there staring at each other for a minute before Abby finally wiped her moist eyes. Then a tiny shudder went through her, and she gasped.