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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
With a wink that got my poor heart stuttering and sputtering again, he said, “They wanted to keep their little angel out of temptation and trouble once she went away from home for the first time.”
“Something like that.”
As Rhys leaned in closer, an impish look twinkled in his eyes. “Tell me, Allie-Bean, how much trouble have you been up to? I promise it’ll just stay between you and me.”
“Ha, like I’d fall for that one,” I countered.
“Scout’s Honor,” he replied, holding up the three finger salute.
With a sigh, I leaned back against the banister. “The truth is actually worse than anything I could lie about.”
I nodded. “I don’t go anywhere besides school and work.”
“Ah, but you could be holding back the truth about what kind of work you do. Art students get into all kinds of seedy and salacious jobs. Like nude modeling, for instance.”
“I-I don’t t-think so!” I sputtered, my face flooding with warmth.
Rhys laughed at my embarrassment. “Then what is your innocent place of work?”
“The same place I worked at back in Atlanta—the Mellow Mushroom. They just gave me a hook-up for the one down on Liberty,” I replied.
“You work at Penis Pizza?” he asked, his voice laced with amusement.
He grinned. “Sorry. That’s just what the guys and I used to call it when we lived in Atlanta.”
I rolled my eyes. “Why am I not surprised by that?”
“Come on. Anyone would call it that with the smiling mushroom head décor.”
Holding up my hand, I said, “No need to explain. I get the comparison—I promise.”
As a smile continued to play on his lips, he said, “You know, the one thing I love about you, Allison, is that I don’t feel like I need to censor myself. Even though you’re Jake’s little sister and I probably should watch myself, I can be exactly who I am.”
“I’m not sure if that’s such a good thing or not.”
“It’s good. I’m sure of it. It’s quite a novelty when I’m here in Savannah, that’s for sure.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
“So why don’t we get out of here for a little while?”
He nodded. “You said yourself that you haven’t been able to see much of Savannah.”
“That’s the truth.”
Opening his arms wide, he said, “Then let me show you all that my beautiful hometown has to offer.”
“Okay. Sure, why not? Just let me throw my book inside and get my keys.”
Always the gentleman, Rhys bent over and picked up the Chanel biography that had gotten knocked to the floor during my fall. “Thanks for getting that,” I said, when he handed it to me.
“You’re welcome, Allie-Bean.” When I started in the house, he grabbed my arm. “Mind if I see inside?”
“Of course not. I guess it was rude of me not to ask you inside.”
“Don’t worry about standing on ceremony with me, Allison.”
I smiled and held the door open for him. I could tell he was impressed when he stepped inside the foyer. I’m sure it paled in comparison to the mansion he’d been raised in, but it was quite an impressive older home—the kind that Savannah was famous for.
“This place is huge when you get inside,” he remarked.
“Yeah, my bedroom even has a sitting area in it. The one way that it’s just like the dorms is I have to share a bathroom with one of the other girls.” After tossing my book down on one of the marble top tables in the living room, I grabbed my purse and slid it on my shoulder. “Ready.”
Rhys turned from craning his head up the staircase to eye me curiously. “Don’t I get to see your bedroom?” he asked, causing my stomach to do a flip-flop at the potential innuendo.
Ducking my head, I replied, “Oh, I, uh, well, it’s kind of messy.”
“That’s okay. You can clean it before I come over next time.”
“Next time?” I questioned lamely, jerking my chin up to meet his gaze. So this wasn’t just going to be a one-time deal of checking in on me just for Jake? He actually wanted to spend time with me? That was a major newsflash.
“Yeah, I thought you could host our movie night of Monty Python.”
Like an overeager puppy, I quickly replied, “Oh yeah, of course I will.”
He smiled. “Good. It’s all settled then.”
“Ready?” I repeated again.
After locking the front door, I followed Rhys down the porch steps and onto the sidewalk that ran along Oglethorpe Avenue. “You really haven’t been able to explore the city while you’ve been here?”
I shook my head. “Between work and school, I usually spend my downtime being emo and staying locked in my room.” A laugh bubbled from my lips at Rhys’s almost horrified expression. “I’m just teasing about staying locked in my room.”
“I would hope so.”
“The truth is I have been staying pretty busy. I’m applying for a summer internship in fashion design.”
“Good for you. What does it entail?”
Giggling, I said, “Entail? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk so proper than I have in the last ten minutes.”