|Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Strings of the Heart (Page 3)|
|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Gratitude replaced the sadness on his face. “I will.”
I held out the chain. “Will you put it on me?”
He frowned. “But it doesn’t match your dress.”
“I don’t care. I want to wear it.”
“You seriously want to wear it now?” he asked incredulously.
There was something so endearing about how much he wanted the necklace to please me. It made me want to throw my arms around his neck and smother his face with grateful kisses. “Of course I do. I think it’s my most favorite gift I’ve received tonight.”
As he took the chain from me, his lips quirked up, as if he was smirking at me. “I think you’re just humoring me.”
Furiously, I shook my head from side to side, trying to show him my sincerity. “No, I’m telling the truth—I promise.” I turned around and lifted up my mass of loose curls so he could put the necklace on me. Once I heard the clasp fasten closed with a snap, I turned around. “Thank you, Rhys. I’ll always think of you when I wear it.”
He gave me a genuine smile that melted my heart. “You do that.” As I absently ran my fingers over the magnolia, Rhys asked, “Now was there a reason why you came out here to see me, Allie-Bean?”
My fingers froze as I felt a warm flush fill my cheeks. “Oh, um, never mind. It wasn’t important.”
“Sure it was.”
I nibbled on my bottom lip. “I just wondered if you would…” I swallowed hard, trying to muster my strength.
“If I would what?” Rhys prodded.
“Give me a birthday kiss,” I whispered.
When a beaming smile lit up his face, I felt like I might combust. “Well, I’m happy to oblige your request, young lady.” He leaned in and bestowed a tender kiss on my cheek. I couldn’t hide my disappointment, and I guess he noticed when he pulled back. “What’s wrong? Don’t tell me I did it wrong,” he teased.
“No, you didn’t. It’s just…” While my heart beat out-of-control, the voice in my mind was strong as it goaded me. Go on, Allison. You can do it. “I wanted a real kiss from you.”
Rhys’s smile instantly faded. His brows shot up into his hairline as his chocolate brown eyes widened in disbelief. “You want a kiss from me?”
I couldn’t believe I was still standing in front of him, least of all bobbing my head. “I want you to be my first kiss,” I blurted before I could stop myself.
“Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed?” he questioned almost incredulously.
His surprise caused embarrassment to flood my face. “Not properly really—not by someone I really wanted to kiss.”
“And you want to kiss me?”
“Yes. Very much,” I whispered.
A strangled noise came from the back of his throat. “I can’t believe this,” he murmured.
I glanced down at my silver heels peeking out from my hemline. “I’m sorry.”
Rhys’s fingers gripped my chin and lifted my gaze to his. “Don’t be sorry, Allie-Bean. It’s just, you’re jailbait for me,” he protested.
“But it’s not like that really.”
“Oh, I’m sure Jake and your parents would certainly disagree.”
Although part of me wanted to turn and run, I stood my ground. I’d come too far to give up now. “It’s just a kiss. No one will ever have to know but you and me.”
With a wry look, he said, “And your two friends who practically have their noses pressed to the glass right now watching us.”
I whirled around to glare at Mallory and Kim. With a hasty flick of my wrist, they instantly backed away from the window and then disappeared. “Sorry about that,” I mumbled.
When I dared myself to glance at Rhys, he appeared to be raging war on himself. I took a tentative step forward, closing the small gap between us. In a voice I almost didn’t recognize, I said, “Make this the happiest night of my life by kissing me.”
“But if Jake caught us or found out—” Rhys cast a glance around the patio as if searching for Jake’s wrathful gaze.
“Okay, fine.” When he was assured we were truly alone, he cupped my face in his hands. I sucked in a breath, my already frantic heartbeat accelerated into a wild gallop. In a dizzy flurry, the patio began to spin around me. As his mouth hovered over mine, Rhys whispered, “Happy Birthday, Allison.”
The instant his mouth touched mine, I trembled from head to toe. His lips were everything I dreamed they would be—warm, soft, commanding, consuming. I could have stayed in that moment with Rhys’s hands on my face and lips on mine for the rest of my life. While I would have preferred the slick feel of his tongue against mine, Rhys kept the kiss incredibly chaste.
When he pulled away, I blinked my eyes several times before they would focus. Surprise flooded me to see Rhys staring down at me with an almost dumbfounded expression on his face. His brows creased in confusion, and he appeared to be unable to speak. His reaction was nothing like I had expected.
“I…I have to go,” he murmured, before he started backing away from me.
“Thank you,” I said.
He didn’t respond. Instead, he just kept staring at me like he was seeing me for the first time in his life. I’d never seen him look so lost and confused. “Rhys?”
He got to the door of the ballroom before he finally turned around. With his back to me, he reached for the door handle. His hand hovered there for a moment before he glanced at me over his shoulder. His eyes still held the wild, confused look he had earlier. “You’re welcome, Allison.”