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  • Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Strings of the Heart (Page 6)     
    Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley
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    After I grunted disdainfully, I said, “That’s exactly why I plan on never being in love.”

    Shifting Gaby to her other hip, Mia wagged a finger at me. “Oh Rhys, I can’t wait to see what happens to you when that special lady finally gets her hooks in you.”

    A funny feeling rippled through my chest, causing me to rub my pec. It was almost the very same place where I’d had the chest burn earlier. “Whatever,” I mumbled, turning to head to the table.

    “Wait, could you do me a huge favor?”

    “Depends,” I replied, after taking a scalding swig of coffee.

    She smacked me playfully on the arm before she picked up a bottle off the counter. “Can you run these eardrops over to Jake and Abby’s bus? Jules has had a nasty earache, and they ran out this morning.”

    “Will you have me some extra crispy bacon to go with my pancakes when I get back?” I asked, giving her my best pleading expression.

    Mia laughed. “Yes, I will.”

    “See, there’s another reason why I never plan to fall in love. Between you, Abby, and Lily I get perfectly spoiled without any of the commitment hassles of a relationship.”

    Waving her spatula at me, Mia said, “Watch it, mister, or you’ll come back to a bacon-less plate.”

    I grinned at her before trotting down the aisle. As I pounded down the bus stairs, I couldn’t help thinking how much had changed in the last few years for my bandmates. Once upon a time, Jake would have needed more condoms or lube, not baby ear drops. But that had all changed once he and AJ had gotten married and had kids. Lately I felt more and more isolated around my brothers. They were all husbands and family men now, and that was the last thing I wanted.

    While my bandmates had been very lucky in love, they were the only positive married relationships I’d ever seen. The cynical part of me thought that both Jake and AJ were still in the honeymoon phases, having only been married for a couple of years. Through my own parents and their friends, I’d grown up seeing the emotional wastelands left behind from unhappy marriages. I’d watched my own father shuffle a mistress or two while he and my mother stayed locked in a relationship without mutual respect or affection. In their world, divorce was still somewhat of a social stigma, not to mention a way to disperse with family fortunes.

    In the end, I guess I felt like I wasn’t a candidate for love. Unlike my bandmates, I hadn’t grown up in a loving home with parents who hugged and kissed me. I’d been shuffled to boarding schools and raised by my nanny, Trudie. While I had been in a relationship or two and said the dreaded “L” word, I had never truly felt it. Just being around the relationships of my bandmates showed me I had no f**king clue what romantic love was or how to express it.

    So here I was somewhat floundering in the new world I found myself in. Sure, Runaway Train still toured the country to sold-out arenas while playing kick-ass tunes, but it just wasn’t the same as it once had been. Unless I went back to Jacob’s Ladder’s bus after a show, I didn’t get to binge drink or potentially get some groupie action like I used to on the Runaway Train bus. We were blessed that our fame and celebrity had grown to where we could all afford our own buses now. Of course, I didn’t quite feel like flying solo. Instead, I left the solo buses to my bandmates and their families.

    The worst was the fact that AJ, Brayden, and Jake were all on my ass to settle down. Like I couldn’t be the swinging bachelor the rest of my life? I guess at twenty-seven I should have been thinking of getting married, but it was really the last thing on my mind. Well, it had been up until a few months ago when my life got shot all to hell.

    As I cut through the alleyway past Brayden’s bus, I saw one of our bodyguards leaned up against the door to Jake’s bus. “Morning, Dustin,” I said.

    He eyed me with a drowsy expression. “You’re up awfully early this morning,” he mused.

    “I have an alarm clock named Bella.”

    He laughed as he unlocked Jake’s bus. “Those are the worst kind. They don’t have a snooze button.”

    “You got that right.”

    The musical sound of a cartoon greeted me as I shuffled up the bus steps. Angel, Jake and Abby’s Golden Retriever, came to greet me on the stairs with a lick on my hand and a wag of her tail. Baby jabber came from the kitchen table. As I reached the top, I could see five-month-olds, Jax and Jules, seated in their highchairs. “Hey, Abby, I have those eardrops you needed.”

    But it wasn’t Abby who rose from a chair at the table. Instead, she was the living and breathing embodiment of the newest hell I found myself in. To put it mildly, she was the forbidden fruit I had dared to taste. Just her memory conjured the same raging wildfire in my chest as I had earlier.

    “Oh, uh, hello, Allison.” I don’t know why I hadn’t anticipated this. When we had pulled out for the new tour, she had been on board Jake and Abby’s bus. Since Abby insisted on being a full-time mother, Allison was going to be a part-time nanny for the twins. She was also using the summer break from college to fulfill a prestigious internship at the design school she attended. I couldn’t imagine how awkward it was going to be once she started working with our head stylist to get us ready for shows.

    Allison gave me a shy, yet guarded smile. “Hi, Rhys. Abby’s in the shower, and Jake’s still asleep. It’s just me and the twins this morning.”

    I bobbed my head as the realization dawned on me that we were truly alone for the first time since everything had gone so horribly wrong. Since that day in Savannah when I had broken her heart, we’d always been surrounded by Jake and Abby or my other bandmates. For a moment, all I could do was take in every aspect of her appearance—her waist-length dark hair that was pulled back into a ponytail, her warm brown eyes that stared questioningly at me, her tall, lean figure that I happened to be very well acquainted with. Any man with eyes and a working dick would have found her beautiful and sexy as hell. But I wasn’t supposed to look or even touch, and because I had, everything was strained between us.

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