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|Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1) by Katie Ashley|
“Yes, ma’am, I do. I love her with all my heart and soul. I intend on working my ass—” I cleared my throat at my language choice, “Uh, I mean, butt off the rest of my life to prove that I’m worthy of her and her love.”
“Oh that’s so sweet,” Laura gushed to which Andrew only grunted.
“Daddy, you know that I love you both, and I’m not going to do anything to hurt you or disappoint you. Just like I told before to you about Jake, I am an adult, and I have to live my life. And right now I chose to spend my recovery time with him.”
Her words sent a beaming smile to my lips. I was so f**king proud of her for being so strong. I couldn’t have loved my girl more for standing up for me and herself.
“But Abby, we want to be with you while you’re healing. I can’t bear the thought of just abandoning you.”
Tentatively, I reached out to touch Laura’s arm. “You won’t have to do that. You and Mr. Renard are more than welcome to stay at my farm for as long as you like.”
Laura’s expression warmed at the thought. “Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
“Of course not. Abby needs her parents around her.” I gave a pointed look at Andrew.
After a few seconds of staring each other down, he finally sighed resignedly. “I do apologize for any wrong doing on my part.” He held out his hand to me. “I believe we were never formally introduced. I’m Andrew Renard.”
“Jake Slater,” I replied as I pumped his hand up and down.
Although I knew he hated it, a smile filled his face as he added, “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
“You guys really make me happy,” Abby said.
“Anything for you, sweetheart,” Laura replied.
Abby winced. “Good. Because I really need some more pain medicine.”
Even though I wanted to, I held back and let Andrew punch the button for the nurse. I figured it was just another set of baby steps along the way to building our relationship.
For the next month, I spent my recovery at Jake’s farm. Although I was wrecked physically, I don’t know when I’d been happier emotionally. Sure, I didn’t necessarily want to almost be beaten to death by a psychotic, jealous ex-lover of Jake’s, but in the same token, it meant I had time to spend with him and with his mom. The first week my parents stayed in the guest bedroom while I stayed next door in Jake’s bedroom. Although the barn boasted a finished loft that was as nicer than any apartment, Jake refused to sleep far from me, so he either slept in the chair beside my bed or on the couch in the living room. I’d offered to let him sleep with me, but he was too afraid of accidentally hitting or kicking my wounds during the night.
That first week I was smothered to death by Jake, my parents, and Susan. Even Rhys, Brayden, Lily, and AJ hovered over me. Don’t get me wrong. It was nice milking my injuries for my favorite home-cooked meals of my mother’s or little gifts from the guys. But after a while, it got really old being spoiled. I couldn’t even sneeze without everyone freaking out and rushing to my bedside. It was sweet, but it was also incredibly annoying.
Once I was literally back on my feet again, my parents reluctantly left to go back to Texas. They’d spent ten days away from their jobs to make sure I was on the road to recovery. They still weren’t happy with me recuperating at Jake’s, but they had resigned themselves to the fact that I was an adult and made my own decisions. We had a teary goodbye where I promised to come home at the end of the month.
Some days Jake would reluctantly leave me with Susan, so he could go to Atlanta with the guys to work on the new album. I had to admit that I enjoyed the time with her. She was truly an amazing woman of strength and courage. Physically, she had her good days and bad days, but emotionally she was upbeat each and every day. She was also really funny. When I felt up to riding in a car again, she took me to her dance studio and showed me around. Jake’s family came in droves to meet me and to bring home-cooked meals to Susan and to Jake. I’d never felt so much love outside of my own immediate family.
One afternoon after Jake got in from the recording studio in Atlanta, he found Susan and me on the front porch each reading a book. With a beaming smile on his face, he beckoned me with his hand. “I have a surprise for you.”
Wrinkling my nose, I replied, “You know I hate surprises.”
“You’ll like this one. It’s a special gift from my grandfather.” It didn’t escape me that a knowing look passed between Susan and Jake.
Reluctantly, I pulled myself out of the chair and walked down the length of the porch to meet Jake. He took my hand in his and led me across the yard to his barn. When he opened the door, a fluffy ball of a Golden Retriever puppy came galloping over to me.
My eyes widened in shock. “You got me a dog?”
“It’s a gift from my Papa. She’s the pick of his new litter.”
I squealed with delight as I went to pick up the puppy. “She’s beautiful,” I murmured as I rubbed my face into the soft fur.
“Does that mean you like my surprise?”
I grinned. “Oh I love this one.”
Jake tipped back his baseball cap off his forehead and eyed me. “So what are you going to name her?”
“Hmm, good question.” I stared into the puppy’s warm brown eyes. “What should I name you, sweetheart?” As she opened her mouth and yawned, it hit me. “Angel. She can be my angel.”