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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Rhys stared at me for a moment before howling with laughter. “What I wouldn’t give to see Jake’s face when he finds out.”
“It’s not funny,” I huffed indignantly. “It’s a perfectly respectable establishment. And the girls in the band have been nothing but sweet and helpful to me.” When he snorted back his laughter into his napkin, I said, “As a matter of fact, I’m having so much fun doing it, I told Cassie not to worry about finding a replacement. I would just stay on until I went back home.”
The mention of home sobered Rhys up. “You’re going back to Atlanta?”
Glancing down at the table, I sighed. “I guess I’m just a big baby. I miss my parents and my friends. I even miss my dog, Toby. Most of all, it’s hard not being able to see the twins whenever I want to.”
“But that will change when we go out on tour.”
“I know,” I murmured.
Reaching across the table, Rhys took my hand. “It’s okay to be homesick, Allison.”
“It shows a total lack of character strength not to be able to embrace difficulties and challenges.”
I couldn’t help my brows shooting up at his word choice. But then I shook my head. “Oh really? I bet you’re never homesick,” I challenged.
Sadness flickered in his eyes, and instantly, I regretted my words. “There has never really been much of a home here for me. You don’t really bond with your parents when it’s your nanny who dries your tears after a nightmare or sits by your bedside when you’re sick. When I was far too young, I got shuttled off to boarding schools where I only came home on the weekends. Then I moved to Atlanta for college and now I live on and off of a tour bus.” Running his fingertip over the rim of his wine glass, he said, “There’s really never been a home for me.”
“Don’t be. It is what it is. So while it’s true I don’t really get homesick, there are times I long for Savannah. I get homesick for my nanny, Trudie, for the familiar landmarks, and most of all, for my sister.”
Latching on to the mention of his secretive sister, I quickly said, “I hope to get to meet her while you’re here.”
Refusing to look at me, Rhys stared at his wineglass, lost in thought. “Maybe,” he finally murmured.
I didn’t have to look at his watch again to know I had to go. As if sensing my need, Rhys jerked his gaze to mine and grabbed his phone. “I’ll get us a cab, so you can make it home quicker.”
“Thank you,” I replied, as Rhys began texting furiously.
After motioning the waiter over for the check, Rhys reached his hand in his pocket for his wallet. When he started to hand the envelope with his card in it to the waiter, I shook my head. “No, please, I can pay for my own,” I protested.
Rhys shook his head. “I told you earlier I would treat you to dinner, and I meant it.” With a wink, he added, “What kind of gentleman would I be if I allowed you to pay?”
“The kind who believes in women’s equality and Dutch treat?”
“Not when it comes to you, my love.”
That statement combined with the tender expression on Rhys’s face caused a shudder to ripple through me. “Okay, fine then. But when we do movie night, I’m covering dinner. Okay?”
As Rhys rose up from his chair, he grinned. “Will it be Penis Pizza? Because I’ll totally let you buy me some of that.”
I laughed. “Yes, it will.” Wagging my brows, I added, “I’ll make sure you get an extra-large slice of sausage, too.”
Rhys’s eyes bulged at my comment. As we started out of the restaurant, he shook his head. “Not quite the sweet and innocent little Allison I used to know, huh?”
“Not by a long shot.”
“I’ve missed a lot not seeing you as much in the last few years, huh?”
“You have a lot to catch up on.”
“I look forward to it.”
I tried not letting my mouth gape open when we stepped out onto River Street to a chauffeur driven car waiting for us. “This doesn’t quite look like a cab.”
Rhys’s response was to open the door for me. After I slid across the seat, I glanced expectantly at him. He shrugged. “It’s an app on my phone that brings a car to you.”
After taking in the sleek interior of the town car, I nodded. “Nice. Very nice.”
“I’m glad you like it.”
We drove along the dusky streets in silence. Occasionally, when we hit a bump in the road, Rhys’s leg would knock into mine. Each time, he would apologize. When the car pulled up outside my house, Rhys once again held the door open for me. He asked the driver to wait a moment, and then he started to walk me to the door. “Would I be overstepping my bounds if I asked to come see your set tonight?”
His question sent me reeling. I had never in a million years thought a Grammy winning musician like him would want to hear me sing with a nightclub band. It seemed like today was the day for wonders to never cease. At my hesitation, he held up his hands. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No, that’s not it at all.”
I shook my head. “It isn’t that I don’t want you to see me perform. The truth is I would be honored. It’s just I’m surprised someone like you would want to spend their evening listening to me sing in a lesbian bar.” I shrugged. “I guess I thought you had better things to do with your time.”