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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
“Yes, I know. But sometimes you can’t help who you have feelings for.”
Dad’s eyebrows practically shot off his head. “So you might be really serious about this guy?”
“Yes, Daddy. I really like Jake Slater from Runaway Train. Yes, I’ve only known him a week. Yes, he’s a bad boy with tattoos and piercings, and yes, he’s your worst nightmare when it comes to the guy dating your little girl.” I leaned closer to him. “No, he’s not taken advantage of me, and no, he’s not going to turn me into a pierced bad girl with tattoos.” With a tentative smile, I added, “We’re both going to bring out the best of each other as we see where this takes us. Okay?”
Dad’s mouth gaped open for a few seconds before he quickly shut it. I think it was one of the first times I’d ever seen him speechless. I turned to Mom who was equally as dumbfounded.
“Abby, we’re ready for you,” my hair stylist, Renee, said.
“I have to go.” I glanced between them. “So we’re okay—everything’s okay?”
“Sure honey,” Mom replied. She sounded a little more convinced than she looked. My dad, on the other hand, still continued to stare at me in shock. I guess I couldn’t blame them for being shell-shocked at my declaration. They were going to need more time to absorb it all.
Leaving my parents behind, I headed into the hair and makeup room. The moment I sat down in the chair, my stomach clenched into tight knots. Nervous energy hummed through me. Tapping my boot relentlessly on the floor, I stared into the lighted mirror in front of me as the band’s stylist, Renee, made my loose curls bigger and bigger. From the way she was cementing my hair in place with hair spray, I was pretty sure half of the ozone layer was being depleted. Trying to calm down, I took a few deep, cleansing breaths as I sat outfitted in a silky robe.
When I dared to take in my reflection in the mirror, my nerves went into overdrive. Once Renee finished with my hair, Becca, the makeup artist took over and started going all out. I’d never had on so much foundation or blush in all my life, not to mention the fake eyelashes made me feel like a total hooker.
“Are you sure this isn’t too much?” I asked.
Becca snorted contemptuously. “Unless you want to look like a corpse under the stage lights, you’ll go with the flow.”
So I went with the flow, which also included the biggest hairdo this side of a Dolly Parton wig. A roadie poked his head in the door. “Ten minutes, Abby.”
“Oh God,” I murmured before my whole body started trembling all over.
“Jeez, Abster, enough with the tapping!” Eli growled in the chair next to mine.
Immediately I stilled my foot. “Sorry. It’s an anxious tic thing.”
“You’re going to be just fine,” Micah reassured. When I glanced at him through my poofy hair, he smiled.
“I know. It’s just I’m still scared of forgetting the lyrics or falling flat on my face.”
His gaze honed in on my boots. “You scuffed them up pretty good, didn’t you?”
“Then you’ll be fine.”
Renee patted my shoulders. “All right. Time to get you to wardrobe.”
I fell out of the chair and followed her through the door. I had yet to see what they had picked for me. I knew the boys never concerned themselves with what they were wearing, and I’d seen the same thing when I was on Runaway Train’s bus.
As I started across the hall, a roadie tapped me on the shoulder before shoving my phone at me. “You have a call.”
My brows furrowed. “Thank you,” I replied before putting the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
Those two words sent a shudder through me, and I skidded to a stop. “Hi, Jake,” I replied breathlessly.
“I’m calling you for two reasons.”
“One is to prove that I’m a man of my word when I promised you I would call. And like a f**king love-sick puppy, I couldn’t even wait a couple of hours to hear your voice.”
Grinning like a fool, I fought to catch my breath. “I’m glad you proved me wrong.
Now what’s the second reason?”
“I wanted to call you before you went on stage and wish you good luck. I figured you were pretty nervous.”
I chewed my lip to keep from squealing out loud at his thoughtfulness. “I am…and thank you. It’s awfully sweet of you to call.”
“You have no idea just how sweet I could be for you.”
With a snort, I replied, “Just when I’m thinking what an amazing romantic and heartfelt guy you are, there’s the real Jake coming through loud and clear to remind me that you’re truly a horndog.”
He laughed. “I had to give you a little innuendo, Angel, to loosen you up.”
“Well, I’m still nervous as hell. My knees are knocking, and I think I might puke.”
Jake drew in a deep breath. “Abby, I told you that you’ve got nothing to be worried about. You have a powerhouse voice inside one hell of a beautiful package. You just go out there and sing your ass off like you did when we practiced.”
Just hearing his deep voice say my real name caused my body to shiver. “Thank you, Jake. And I will.” With my heartbeat accelerating, I debated whether to say what was on my heart. Finally, I blurted, “I’ll pretend I’m singing with you again, instead of Garret. That’ll get me through.”