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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Finally, I came back to myself to dumbly wave the box in my hand. “Mia said Abby needed these.”
Allison took a tentative step forward. When she reached for the drops, our hands touched, and as cliché as it sounds, I felt a zing from my fingers straight to my chest. Quickly, I jerked away from her grasp. Allison’s expression saddened at my reaction. “Thank you. Jules really needs these.”
“You’re welcome,” I replied. I glanced over at the twins who were staring me down between gumming their fists. “Well, I better go, so you can get back to feeding them.” I forced a smile. “I wouldn’t want them to eat their hands or anything.”
A tiny giggle escaped Allison’s lips at my statement. It felt like music to my ears to hear her laughing at me again. During the three weeks we’d shared in Savannah, there had been a lot of laughter between us. I’d certainly missed it. If I was honest with myself, I’d missed her.
I pushed the thought from my mind as I turned and started back down the aisle. I didn’t get far before I skidded to a stop. Frozen, my mind whirled with thoughts. I had to do something or say something. It wasn’t going to be long before someone noticed us acting awkwardly around each other. Slowly, I turned around. Allison’s gaze was fixed on me as she nervously chewed her bottom lip.
I shook my head. “Listen, things can’t keep going on like this between us.”
“I know,” she murmured.
“The past is the past, and we can’t keep letting it cripple us in the present.” I literally grimaced after the words left my lips. Not only were they a horrible cliché, but my words made it all seem so simple—as if all that had been said and done between us could be swept easily under the proverbial rug. “I know things were left pretty bad between us when I left Savannah. I am sorry for that. I hope you know I would never intentionally hurt you.”
Allison appeared unable to speak. Her chest rose and fell in harsh pants, but she finally bobbed her head. After drawing in a ragged breath, I continued on. “I think the best thing would be for us to forget what happened and try to move on.”
“If you think that’s best,” Allison replied, her voice devoid of emotion.
“I do. Really, it’s the only thing we can do.” When Allison closed her eyes as if she were in pain, I took a few tentative steps toward her. When I got closer, her eyes snapped open, and she jerked away from me.
Rubbing the hair at the base of my neck, I sighed in frustration. “We were friends before. Can’t we be friends again?”
“Of course we can,” she answered a little too quickly. The wounded look in her dark eyes betrayed her uncertainty.
But I didn’t intend to argue with her if she was even partially agreeing. Instead, I threw out my hand. “So, friends again?”
I tried ignoring how her hand trembled as she slipped it into mine. “Yes, friends.”
At that moment, the bathroom door flung open. I jerked my hand back from Allison as Abby stepped out in a robe with a towel around her head. Her eyes widened at the sight of me before she gave me a beaming smile. “Hi, Rhys. What are you doing up so early?”
“Bella woke me up.”
Abby giggled. “She’s a mess, isn’t she?”
Crossing her arms over her chest, Abby asked, “So did you come over here hoping I was up cooking?”
I laughed. “No, no. Mia asked me to bring the drops over for Jules.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you. We were going to be in big trouble when the last dose I gave her wears off.”
“You’re welcome.” I flicked my gaze over to Allison who was now busying herself with feeding the twins some sort of rice cereal. “So I’ll see you guys later.”
“Bye, Rhys,” Abby said, as she went over to bestow kisses on the twins’ cheeks.
I caught Allison’s mournful gaze one last time before I started off the bus. It told me all I needed to know; that the words she’d just said were a total lie. Deep down, I knew they were for me as well. But what the f**k else were we supposed to do?
Three months ago a perfect storm had destroyed everything we had once been to each other. A homesick girl all alone in Savannah, my parents’ loveless world of perfection and excess, and a bottle of silver tequila became the ingredients that fed the storm that forever changed our lives. And now like the strings on a once finely tuned instrument that had bowed under the tension, we were broken, if not ruined.
As I lounged on the wooden railing of the wraparound front porch, I fought the urge to cry for the millionth time today. Nibbling on my bottom lip, I brought my legs up to rest my chin on my knees. In my hand I held the item that had set off my emotions yet again—my phone. Just as I was trying to delve into my assigned reading of a tome on the life of Coco Chanel, my phone had dinged, alerting me of a text. For most people, a picture of twins sporting matching onesies wouldn’t necessarily cue the waterworks. But in my case, it was just a tangible symbol of the homesickness that cloaked itself around me like a heavy coat.
At her baby shower, I had gotten my sister-in-law, Abby, a joke gift to go along with the other presents I’d bought my soon-to-be niece and nephew. They were a pink and blue onesie with the words: Watch your language, ass**le. I’m a baby! I had done the embroidery myself. Considering the mouth Jake had on him, coupled with his bandmates, I knew the twins were going to be exposed to a plethora of four letter words. Abby had squealed over the onesies, and even Jake had found them funny.