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|Music of the Soul(Runaway Train #2.5) by Katie Ashley|
I closed my eyes and staggered back until AJ caught me. “Thank God,” I murmured. Once I could breathe regularly again, I pulled away from AJ. I stared around the group of my band mates and Abby’s brothers. “Thank you all for being here. For loving me and Abby so much.” I couldn’t fight the tears anymore, and I broke down. AJ’s arms came around me as well as Brayden and Rhys’s. They didn’t tell me to man-up or call me out for being a pansy. Instead, they just patted my back, spoke soothingly to me, in an acceptable man-way, and let me cry. We truly were brothers in that moment.
After I’d pulled myself together, a nurse came to take me to Abby. I followed her back through the maze of rooms to where Abby was. Her eyes were closed, and her face was as pale as the white sheet she had drawn to her chest. I eased down in the chair beside her and took her hand. “Angel?”
Her eyelids fluttered as she tried to wake up. “I’m right here, babe.” I squeezed her hand reassuringly.
She stared up at the ceiling for a moment before her head slowly turned to look at me. A smile formed on her lips. “Hey.”
The sweet sound of her voice sent warmth through my chest. I leaned in to kiss her hand. “Hey, yourself.”
Her gaze swept around the room, taking in the machines, and she shuddered. “Am I okay?”
“Yeah, you are now.”
My words didn’t console her. Her lip trembled as tears pooled in her eyes. “Can I still…”
I was sure she didn’t know much of what had happened, but it wasn’t hard to believe her first thoughts would be to worry about having a child. “Yes, you can. And we will someday, I promise.”
“Sooner than later?” she whispered.
In my heart of hearts, regardless of what had just happened tonight, I still wasn’t ready. But I knew I would be a real bastard to say that while Abby lay recovering from major surgery. So, I forced a reassuring smile to my lips. “Of course, Angel. As soon as the doctor says you’re ready.”
The lie left a bitter taste in my mouth, but I wouldn’t have taken anything for the beaming smile that lit up Abby’s face. I dreaded the day that I had to disappoint her again.
Nine Months Later
Sometimes you spend so much time pretending that you forget what real is. That’s exactly what happened to me in the weeks following my surgery. The strong hold I had on being positive began to slip. The ‘what-ifs’ began to plague me, and anxiety sent me reeling. But while there was a storm brewing within me, I appeared calm and serene on the outside. No one would have ever guessed how much torment I was in. I had a smile permanently carved on my face although I was becoming hollow on the inside.
Everyone wanted the positive, happy, and sweet Abby, and that’s exactly what they got. I threw myself into touring and promoting our new album. When I was home, I worked constantly on making our house into a home for not only Jake and me, but for our family and friends. If I stopped for just an instant, the voices of doubt grew more intense. So I stayed as busy as I could.
But I knew there would be a breaking point—a reckoning day when it would all come crashing down on me. And when it finally came, I never imagined how heart-wrenching it would actually be…
“What do you think about this one?” I asked, as I held up a beautiful bouquet of delicate pink roses.
“Looks good,” Jake mumbled, barely taking his eyes off the magazine he was reading.
I grinned and rolled my eyes. Jake could have cared less what flowers we got for Lily and Brayden. He was completely out of his element in the hospital gift shop. He had zoned out the moment we stepped into the baby section, and while I was busy smelling flowers, he had ducked away to grab the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.
“Okay then, we’ll get these for Lily and Brayden, and now we need something for the baby.”
Jake’s brows furrowed as he brought his gaze from the magazine to mine. “I thought we already gave them a present.”
I waved my hand dismissively. “That was at the baby shower. We can’t go in empty handed.”
With a sigh, Jake glanced at the shelf full of stuffed bears, rabbits, and other woodland creatures. He grabbed up a plush, white teddy bear with a giant pink bow on it. “There. Now we have something.”
“You can carry that, and I’ll take the flowers.”
“I’m not carrying this bear.”
“And why not?” I questioned on my way to the register.
“Because I’ll look like a pansy,” he hissed.
“You’ll look perfectly normal on the maternity floor.”
He grumbled behind me, but after the cashier rang up the bear, he took it back and tucked it under his arm. “Thank you,” I said.
He grinned. “You’re welcome.”
We headed out the door to get on the elevator. Brayden and Lily’s daughter had been born around midnight last night. While it was a wonderfully exciting occasion, it was also hard because we were set to leave this afternoon for the Southern leg of tour, which started in Alabama. Brayden would have to leave Lily and his newborn daughter behind for an entire week. Luckily, both his parents, along with Lily’s mom, were coming into town to help out.
We got off on the fifth floor, which was maternity, and quickly found Lily’s room. “Knock, knock,” I said, as I pushed the door open.
“Hi guys,” Lily said. Reclining on the bed with a mountain of pillows, she held a newborn to her chest. Jake’s steps momentarily faltered in the doorway when he thought Lily might be breastfeeding, and I couldn’t help but laugh.