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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
After that was sorted, we walked back out into sunshine. “Are you hungry?” Rhys asked.
“Maybe a little,” I replied, after polishing off my second pecan cluster.
“How about some good seafood?”
“I’d love some.”
“Follow me then.”
When he started into Huey’s, which looked like a higher-end restaurant, I grabbed his arm. “No, I’m not dressed for this place,” I hissed, motioning to my jeans and T-shirt.
“It’ll be fine.”
“No, Rhys, please.”
His brows shot up. “Does it really bother you that much? Because I could give two shits about the way you’re dressed, and I’m a VIP.”
A smile played on my lips at his words. “Are you sure?”
“I’d hardly call my Ralph Lauren shirt and shorts black tie. Besides, it’s a tourist trap. Lots of people stumble in not realizing.”
“Fine. If you say so.”
“Trust me,” he said, holding my gaze with his dark eyes.
“Okay,” I muttered lamely.
He grinned as we walked up to the hostess stand. When the hostess glanced up from a pile of menus, she did a double take at the sight of Rhys. I think it was safe to say she totally recognized him not from being a hometown boy, but from his Runaway Train fame. “Oh, um, hi, how many?”
“Just two. Can we get a table with a river view?”
“Sure, yeah, one second.” She wrote and rewrote some numbers on a whiteboard before grabbing two menus. “Right this way,” she replied, with a megawatt smile that belonged on a Miss America contestant.
As she started leading us through the maze of tables, I leaned in close to Rhys. “I’m pretty sure your VIP status just jacked someone else’s table for us.”
Rhys chuckled. “I’m surprised she even recognized me. The bass player is never the noticed one in a band.”
I fought the urge to tell him that not all bass players were as hot as he was. Instead, I replied, “Here I thought it was the drummer lost behind the kit.”
“Do you think AJ could ever be lost to fans?”
I laughed. “Not really.”
The hostess motioned to our table, which gave us a great view of the river past the crowds sauntering down the street. Once she sat the menus down, she swept a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled broadly at Rhys. “Have a great dinner.”
“Thank you. I’m sure we will.”
Once she was out of earshot, I couldn’t help laughing. “Frankly, I don’t think she even noticed I was alive. She had total Rhys tunnel vision.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” he teased, as he picked up his menu.
“Now you’re starting to sound like Jake or AJ.”
“That’s an awfully cocky combination.”
I laughed. “Exactly.” Glancing at my menu, I asked, “So what’s good here?”
“Since I’ve eaten your nana’s cooking before, I know you like Southern food.”
“What kind of Southern girl would I be if I didn’t enjoy collard greens and fried green tomatoes?”
“Not a very good one,” Rhys replied. Waving his menu, he added, “This place is f**king fabulous when it comes to Southern food. The fried green tomatoes here are kick-ass. Plus there’s low country boil on the menu, so you should be able to get the greens I know you love.”
My stomach rumbled in appreciation at his words. “Sounds good to me. Of course, everything looks good.”
When our waiter, with the name-tag, Lance, arrived, he had a star-struck moment as well at Rhys’s presence. “I know you’re here to eat and I don’t want to bother you, but I’m a huge Runaway Train fan,” he said, after he got our drink and appetizer orders.
“Thank you. That means a lot,” Rhys said politely. With the charm that I’m sure that had been bred into him from the time he was born, he added, “I’d be happy to sign something for you.”
Lance’s eyes bulged, and he momentarily fumbled with his leather envelope for taking orders. “That would be awesome. Thank you. Seriously, thank you!”
He then proceeded to back into another waiter and almost mowed him down along with a tray of alcoholic beverages. I had to bring my napkin up to my face to hide my laughter. When I recovered, I put down my napkin and asked, “Who would have thought it would have been the guy who lost his shit for you, rather than the girl?”
“Oh, I guarantee she’ll manage to find a way to slip her number to me.”
“You can’t be serious.” When he nodded, I said, “But you’re here with me.”
He shrugged. “You could be a friend or a sister. To some women it wouldn’t matter if I was sitting here with a wedding band on.”
“That’s disgusting,” I huffed, while reaching for my glass of water.
Rhys chuckled. “Why are you getting so incensed?”
“Because marriage is a sacred thing. A woman should see a gold band and understand that a man is off limits.”
When Rhys raised his brows at me, I felt warmth flood my cheeks. With just that one action, he had made me realize the irony of my comment. After all, I wouldn’t even be here if my parents hadn’t had an affair. Obviously, my mother hadn’t let the gold band on my father’s hand stop her. With my gaze focused on the white tablecloth, I asked, “Mind if we change the subject?”