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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Before I could say anything else to him, he ducked back inside the ballroom. Alone, I tried to sort through the out-of-control emotions careening through me.
Long after Rhys had disappeared back inside, I still remained by the fountain. I knew the instant I returned to my party, the moment would be over—I’d be Cinderella after the clock struck twelve. So I stayed outside, running my fingers over my lips that Rhys had kissed.
As I thought about his reaction, I could only hope that he had felt more than he had imagined. That in that moment, he had seen me as more than Jake’s little sister—as someone he could one day be with. Deep down, I believed that someday we would be together. All the things that kept us apart for now—my age, what my parents and Jake would think, his celebrity status—they wouldn’t matter.
Regardless of the heartache to come, one day he would really be mine.
The tour bus jostled over a patch of uneven pavement, yanking the delicious, illicit dream of a beautiful, yet faceless brunette out of my mind. Although the dream faded into foggy wisps of images, I didn’t even have to shift my h*ps to realize I had sprung a massive morning boner. With my eyes still closed, I craned my ear to take in the sounds around me. Normally, a morning jerk-off session wouldn’t have been an issue when I rode along with Eli and Gabe on the Jacob’s Ladder bus—the reigning bachelor’s oasis that harbored scantily clad women and free-flowing booze. But they had stayed back the night before in Nashville instead of following us on to Louisville, so I had to bum a ride on AJ and Mia’s family friendly bus, which meant I could be interrupted at any moment by a toddler or screaming infant.
Just when I thought it was safe enough to let my hand trail over my bare chest and under the covers, a tiny voice shouted, “Unca Weese!” I had only a millisecond to react before the curtain to my roost was jerked away, and my drowsy world was invaded by AJ’s precocious three-year-old daughter, Bella. Somehow in my hazy state, I had the presence of mind to bunch the covers around my waist to shield her innocent eyes from my unfortunate morning wood.
When I reluctantly popped open my eyes, Bella pounced on me. “Oomph, easy, Bells,” I grunted.
“Wake up time,” she ordered. She propped her elbows on the mattress while swinging her legs back and forth.
I groaned. My idea of when it was time to get up and hers was much, much different. Of course, there was no way in hell I would be able to get up in front of her. Boxers or no boxers, there would be too much explaining to do, and she was just the kind of inquisitive kid to want to know what was going on below my waist. Shifting my hand under the covers, I winced as I cupped myself to keep the sheet from tenting.
Cocking her head, Bella’s dark eyes curiously surmised me. “Do you have a boo-boo on your pee-pee?”
Fuck me, was this seriously happening? How the hell was I supposed to answer that question without it resulting in AJ kicking my ass? Pausing for a moment, I tried to find a way to work her question to my advantage. “Um, yeah, I do. Hurts pretty bad, too. So I better lie here a little while longer and let it get better.” When she started to crawl onto my bunk, I shook my head. “No, don’t wait for me. You go on and get some breakfast.”
After a moment’s contemplation, Bella asked, “Want Mommy to come kiss it and make it better?”
“Oh, hell no!” I cried, jerking my arm over my eyes to try to bleach out the mental image of Mia anywhere near my dick. Sure, Mia was fine as hell, but she was AJ's wife and a mother. You just don't fantasize about a chick once you've accidentally walked in on her breastfeeding.
Since both her father and mother had mouths like sailors, Bella didn’t even bother chastising me for cursing like Jude and Melody would have. Instead, she frowned. “Why not? When I have boo-boos, Mommy makes it feel better when she kisses it.”
“AJ!” I bellowed at the top of my lungs. At this point, I didn’t care if I woke up baby Gaby. I needed him to get Bella out of here ASAP.
Thankfully, he appeared almost instantaneously to put me out of my misery. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
I opened my mouth to explain, but Bella beat me to it. “Unca Weese feels bad because he has a boo-boo on his pee-pee. Why don’t you kiss it and make it better, Daddy?”
AJ’s dark eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but he didn’t manage to get any words out. Finally, he sputtered, “N-No I will not be kissing his…pee-pee!” He then turned his wrath on me. “What the hell are you doing talking about your pee-pee with my daughter?” he demanded.
I held up my hands defensively, but then quickly dropped one when I realized I needed to keep one hand on the blanket. “I didn’t bring it up; she did. Right after she busted in on me trying to hide my morning wood.”
Scrunching up his nose, AJ’s expression morphed into one of disgust and anger. “Jesus, dude, would you tone it down? You’re on the bus with my kids.”
Rolling my eyes, I snapped, “Like I have any control over that shit.”
While AJ opened his mouth to argue with me, Bella tugged his hand. Her lips had pulled down in a frown. “But why won’t you kiss his pee-pee, Daddy?”
“Because you just don’t kiss pee-pees! Ever!” He gave her a serious look. “You certainly shouldn’t now and especially not even when you’re older.”
I couldn’t help the snort that escaped my lips. “Yeah, right, like you would want Mia to adopt that mantra,” I muttered under my breath.