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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
“Uh, yeah, sure.” I cleared my throat and tried to catch my breath. How the hell was I supposed to sing when my breathing was so erratic?
Jake appraised me with a skeptical look. “Are you sure? Your face has turned green like you’re about to puke.”
A giggle escaped my lips, and I covered my mouth. “I guess I’m just nervous.”
Jake’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Seriously? It’s only me here.”
You’re exactly what makes me incredibly nervous. “I know, but I haven’t really done any warm-ups or scales either. I might sound like a sick cow or something.”
He waved the microphone in his hand dismissively at me. “You don’t need to do any of that. I mean, what are rehearsals for, right?”
“If you say so.” I then bobbed my head. “Let’s do it then before I lose my nerve.”
Jake winked at me before calling, “Okay, hit it, Joe.”
Within seconds, the music came blaring through the arena, causing me to jump. Jake brought the microphone to his lips, “I really hate to let this moment go,” he began.
I couldn’t move—it was like I had been shot with a taser gun and was completely paralyzed. I didn’t blink or even draw breath. I just stood staring at Jake as he sang his lyrics with passion and feeling. It was only when he stopped singing that I came back to myself.
“Cut the music!” Jake shouted. Once the song came to a halt, Jake gave me a puzzled look. “What happened?”
“Um, you didn’t chime in with the chorus.”
Oh God. I had been so totally enthralled by Jake’s voice and performance that I had completely forgotten to sing. “I—uh—I guess it was nerves that got to me, and I blanked,” I lied.
With a smile, he reached over and rubbed my arm. “Come on, you don’t need to be nervous. Just tune out everything around us and focus on me and the music.”
Yeah, right, focusing on you was what got me in trouble to start with! I decided it would be better to focus on the music along with the lyrics I should be singing. “Okay. Let’s try it again.”
“Again Joe!” Jake called.
This time I was just as into Jake’s performance as I was before, but I managed to come in with my part at the chorus. When my voice echoed through the auditorium, I jumped, which caused Jake to bust out laughing. “Hey, you totally messed me up this time!”
He held up his hands in surrender. “I’m sorry. But if you could have seen the look on your face!”
“Jake,” I growled.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.” He turned to gaze off the stage. “Sorry Joe. Let’s take it from the top again.”
This time we made it through without any problems. When it came time for me to sing alone, I kept my gaze locked on Jake’s the entire time. The gleam that burned in his eyes made me shudder, but I kept my focus and eventually became entirely lost in the music. The lyrics had so much meaning for what I was experiencing with Jake. I wanted to stay right there in that moment with him for as long as I possibly could.
When the music came to a close, Jake grinned. “You did it, Angel.”
“I did!” I squealed. I then proceeded to do a little happy dance on the stage, which caused Jake to laugh.
“Is that your victory dance?” he asked, his voice vibrating with amusement.
As I continued shimmying my h*ps and high stepping on my feet, I nodded. “Yep, I think it is.”
He shook his head and then reached over to ruffle the top of my hair. “You’re such a goofball.”
“Hey, the very fact I just sang in a huge arena deserves something.”
“You wanna try it again?”
“Ooh can we?”
“Sure we can.” A wicked grin curved on his lips. “I’m Jake Fucking Slater, and I can do whatever the hell I want.”
Rolling my eyes to the ceiling, I huffed out a frustrated breath, which blew some of the stray strands of my hair out of my face. “Just when I think your ego couldn’t get any bigger.”
“Leaving my ego out of it, this time you need to focus not just on your singing but the delivery as well. Sure you hit all your notes last time, but you were a little stiff.”
Jake laughed at my mortification. “I wouldn’t say you were robotic, but you need to loosen up quite a bit. Let your body feel the lyrics just as much as your mind does.”
“Okay,” I murmured.
This time when the music came on, Jake became completely different. It was like he tuned out everything else. His singing was more heartfelt and filled with emotion. If I thought it was hard focusing before, it was even harder this time because I was so mesmerized by him—both as a performer and as my crush.
As I started my solo, Jake stepped closer to me, wrapping an arm around my waist. Since I thought he might be trying to trip me up, I kept my intense focus, but at the same time, I let my body follow with his. When it came time for the chorus again, his hand came to cup my cheek. Closing my eyes, I kept singing as I leaned in to his touch.
When he stepped away from me, I followed him, taking his hand in mine and intertwining our fingers. We finished the song hand in hand with our eyes locked on each other. As the music came to a close, I felt at any minute Jake would be able to hear the thundering of my heart.
“That was amazing—you were amazing!” Jake exclaimed.