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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
“I look like a real gentleman, don’t I?”
She grinned. “I think even my dad would approve of you tonight.”
Part of her comment stung, but I covered up my feelings by giving her a cocky smirk. “Yeah, well, what would he have to say about his daughter’s attire tonight?”
She glanced down at her dress. “You like it?”
Considering it had flimsy little straps, showed off her fabulous rack and was almost backless, hell yes, I liked it. “I love it. You look absolutely breathtaking tonight.”
Abby’s cheeks warmed with my compliments. She leaned up to kiss my lips. “Thank you.”
AJ strolled up to us. At Abby’s attire, his eyes widened. “Oh my God, Angel! That is just like the dress Sookie wore in the Season Two finale of True Blood!”
Abby rolled her eyes. “AJ, you’ve got a True Blood fetish.”
He grinned. “Dude, it’s basically vamp p**n !”
She laughed. “You’re impossible.”
“Yeah, well, you’re beautiful and sexy in that dress.”
With a beaming smile, Abby smacked his arm playfully before giving him a hug. “Thank you. You guys are all looking so handsome in your suits,” she replied.
I took Abby’s hand in mine. “I want to introduce you to someone.”
Surrounded by a group of her friends, Allison talked and laughed. When I tapped her on the shoulder, she whirled around, causing her dark hair to fly around her shoulders. “Jake!” she cried before launching herself at me. I hugged her tight. Regardless of how I felt about my dad and step-mother, Allison had always been my baby sister to love and protect.
“You look beautiful,” I murmured into her ear.
“I can’t believe you’ve gone and grown up on me.” I pulled away and grinned down at her. “Just promise me you’ll keep being my sweet, innocent little Allison.”
She giggled. “I’ll try.”
Turning back to Abby, I said, “I wanted you to meet my girlfriend. This is Abby Renard.”
At the word “girlfriend”, Allison’s dark eyes almost bulged out of her head. “Wow, it’s awesome to meet you,” she gushed, shaking Abby’s hand.
“It’s great finally meeting you too. Jake talks about you all the time.”
Allison beamed with pleasure. “He’s amazing, isn’t he?”
Abby grinned. “Oh yes, he is. But we better not say too much. He already has a big enough ego about him.”
“Hey now,” I argued to which Abby nudged me playfully.
Brayden came up behind me. “Okay, man, it’s time.”
“Excuse me ladies, but my adoring public beckons, so I’ll see you later.”
Abby and Allison waved to me as I headed to the stage with Brayden. The plan was for us to play the first thirty minutes of the party, and then the DJ would take over. AJ disappeared behind the drum set while the rest of us suited up with our guitars.
Taking the microphone from the stand, I gazed out into the crowded ballroom. “Good evening, everyone, and welcome to Allison’s Sweet Sixteen Party.” A symphony of high-pitched, hormonally fueled teenage girl shrieks filled the room along with some hearty screams from the males. “As her big brother, I couldn’t be prouder of her at this moment.” Meeting Allison’s gaze, I smiled. “I hope all your dreams come true, and that you stay forever young.”
The guys and I then launched into a harder rock version of Chrissy Hydne’s Forever Young. We finished to thunderous applause and cheers. I searched through the crowd of faces for Abby who grinned and gave me two thumbs up. I laughed and shook my head before starting “Unravel Me”, which got everyone dancing. After playing through two more fast songs and two of our ballads, I handed the mic off to the DJ and headed through the throng of people to Abby.
I was almost to her when my dad stopped me. He gave me a stiff hug before saying, “That was fantastic, son. We can’t thank you enough for making this night so special for Allie.”
“You’re welcome. You know I’d do anything for her.”
He nodded. His lips twitched as if he wanted to say something else but was afraid to. Finally, he drew in a ragged breath. “Jake, I’m so very sorry about your mother.”
I instantly tensed. “Yeah, it f**king blows when bad things happen to good people.”
Dad’s expression paled a little. “She’s one of the strongest and bravest women I know. I talk to her often, you know. She has the most forgiving of hearts.”
I knew Dad was talking about how I couldn’t forgive him for the fact he walked out on Mama and me for a piece of ass. Sure, he paid his child support and saw me every other weekend and during the summers. On the surface he was the most attentive and supportive father. But everything changed with us the moment he chose to leave.
“Yes, it’s probably one of her only faults.”
Seeing he wasn’t getting anywhere with me, Dad sighed. “Well, just know I’m here for you, son. Always.” His gaze left mine to hone in on Abby who had sought me out. “And who is this lovely young lady?”
“This is my girlfriend, Abby Renard.” I slipped my arm around Abby’s waist. “And Abby, this is my dad, Mark Slater.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Slater,” Abby said politely.