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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
Gabe chuckled as he pulled me into a bear hug. “Nah, we just wanted to do right by you this time and welcome you in person.”
“Aw, that’s sweet.”
Eli’s blue eyes twinkled. “There’s also the fact we have to be over to the arena in an hour for sound checks and all.”
I shook my head. “Just when I thought you guys were playing overprotective big brothers, you crush my dreams.”
Micah threw his arm around my shoulder. “I’ve missed you, Baby Girl.” He planted a kiss on my cheek. “Are you excited about tonight?”
Just the mention of performing caused my stomach to lurch. “Yes and no.”
He nodded as we swept through the hotel’s revolving doors. “I remember the first time I played in front of a packed crowd of tens of thousands of people.”
I elbowed him playfully in the ribs. “Not helping, brother dear.”
He grinned down at me. We were the matching bookends of the family with our blonde hair and blue eyes. Gabe and Eli were true fraternal twins in the fact that Gabe had about three inches on Eli while Eli was the more muscular of the two. The only matching trait was they had our father’s jet black hair while we all shared the blue eyes of our mother. Even if they were my brothers, I had to admit they were good-looking. Of course, Micah had been engaged for six months to a girl named Valerie who worked at our dad’s church. Like Brayden, he never even looked at other girls. Now the twins…that was another story.
“You’ll be fine, Abster. After all, you’re only singing one duet with Garrett and one song with us,” Eli said as he held the limo door open for me.
As I flopped inside, I huffed out a frustrated breath. “Oh sure, just two songs. That’s two prime opportunities for me to sing off-key, fall off the stage, etc.”
Gabe sat next to me. “You worry too much. Just go out there and have fun. Pretend it’s like when we were kids.”
“Or you could do the old adage and pretend everyone’s naked,” Eli suggested while waggling his eyebrows.
I nudged his foot with mine. “You’re so disgusting!”
After we made the short drive to the arena, the limo pulled up to the back. The boys’ head of security, Manny, opened our door and gave me a beaming smile. “Good to see you again, Abby.”
I gave him a hug—all 6’5”, three hundred pounds of him. “Good seeing you again too.” I motioned back at the boys. “You keeping them in line?”
He grinned. “Trying to. It’s a hard job.”
Giggling, I replied, “I can only imagine.”
As Manny ushered us inside, someone outfitted in black with a headset came rushing up to me. “You’re wanted on stage right now for your rehearsal with Garrett.”
“Oh, okay.” I turned back to the guys. “See you in a few.”
“Knock em’ dead, Baby Girl,” Gabe called.
When I got to the stage, Garrett sat perched on a stool with his guitar, doing a run through of his other songs. After finishing the song, he glanced over and caught my eye. His face lit up. “Abby!” he cried before hurrying over to pull me into his arms. We’d only met a couple of times before, but by the way he was acting, you would have thought we were long lost best friends or former lovers. Jake would have gone for the second scenario.
“I see you made it safe and sound.”
I laughed. “Yes, I did.”
“Great. I’m stoked as hell to be singing with you.” He waved at a technician who came to deliver my microphone. “Ready?”
After rehearsing with Garrett, I watched the boys go through their run-throughs before joining them onstage. For the first few shows, I’d only be singing a cover of The Band Perry’s If I Die Young. Then the guys planned on me taking over some of the vocal leads Micah usually did. Once we went through everything, we were ushered back to our dressing room. While the boys chowed down on the catered food, I could barely down a slice of my mom’s homemade pound cake.
The closer it got to show time the more the small space filled up with people. It felt like an out-of-control bee hive with all the conversions buzzing around me. Hair stylists, wardrobe people, management, and roadies streamed in and out. There was no privacy or time to catch my breath with all the madness.
When my mom and dad entered the room, they rushed over to me like I was a hostage who had been released from captivity. It was incredibly ironic considering I had Face-timed, talked, or texted with them every day that I was with Jake and the guys. “How are you sweetie?” Mom asked.
I laughed. “Just as good as I was earlier today when we talked.”
“You look fine,” Dad surmised.
“Jake and the guys took good care of me.”
Mom and Dad exchanged a glance at my mention of Jake. “What?” I asked.
Shoving his hands in his khaki pants pockets, Dad cleared his throat. “Well, your mother and I were just talking about how you seemed to mention this Jake guy a lot when we talked.”
I knew what he wanted to say but couldn’t. “I like him.”
Mom inhaled a sharp breath. “Like a boyfriend?”
With a grin, I replied, “Maybe.” I took in the looks of horror that flashed on their faces. “Is there something wrong with that?”
“Uh, no, Abigail, there’s not. It’s just…” Dad fumbled around.
Mom stepped in for him. “It’s just a relationship with a musician is hard. I mean, look at Micah and Valerie.”