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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Glancing between the two of them, I teasingly said, “Wait a minute, she’s not twenty-one yet.”
Cassie’s dark eyes narrowed as she leaned in closer to me. “Yeah, well, you know what, pretty boy? I don’t give a f**k how old she is.”
I felt like I had to stand my ground with this chick who looked like she wanted to kick my ass at daring to question her. “The owner might. I’d hate to see you lose your liquor license.”
Both Cassie and Allison burst out laughing. “What’s so funny?” I demanded.
“I am the owner,” Cassie replied.
Nodding, Allison said, “Rhys, this is my roommate I was telling you about, Cassie Broughton.”
My brows shot up in surprise. After all, Cassie didn’t look like she was much older than Allison, and here she owned a club. I threw out my hand. “Rhys McGowan. Nice meeting you.”
Pumping my hand, Cassie gave me a genuine smile. “Nice to see you again.”
“Again?” I questioned.
She nodded. “You probably don’t remember me, but our parents are friends. I think we were forced to attend some dinner parties together when we were teenagers. Knowing my mother, she probably tried desperately to get you to date me.” With a dramatic flair of her hand, she said, “It’s so unsettling to have your only daughter be a lesbian. One simply cannot spend every waking moment planning the society wedding of the year. Why you’d have to go up north with all those—” She lowered her voice. “undesirable liberal Yankees just to have a legal wedding.” Placing the back of her hand on her forehead, she gasped. “Heaven forbid.”
Suddenly, it hit me. I had met her before at party or two, and she’d been funny as hell. The much needed comic relief in the situation we found ourselves in. “Cassandra, right?”
Rolling her eyes, she huffed out a contentious breath. “Only society ass**les call me that.”
I laughed. “Trust me, I have no love for our parents’ world.”
Cassie grinned. “I knew I was going to like you. Allison talks about you all the time.” She winked at me. “Nothing but good.”
With a strangled cry, Allison hurriedly corrected her. “The band. I talk about Jake and you guys.” She once again grabbed her fruity concoction and took two long pulls of it through the small straw.
An awkward silence fell over the table. Clearing her throat, Cassie leaned in on her elbows on the table. “So what do you think of my club?”
“It’s great,” I replied, enthusiastically. “How is it you came to own it?”
“My inheritance from my grandmother. It’s her house where Allison and I live.” A wistful smile graced Cassie’s face. “She was kind of a society rebel herself. You know the type—she drank and smoked when it wasn’t ladylike and cursed like a sailor. I like to think she would have approved of me buying an establishment that served hard drinks to people looking to engage in indecent acts.”
I chuckled at her summation of Saffie’s Tea Room. “Compared to a lot of clubs I’ve been in, this place seems pretty tame.”
“Trust me, it gets crazy on the weekends.”
My gaze flickered over to Allison. “Do you perform during these ‘crazy weekends’?”
A flush entered her cheeks. “We’ve done a set on Friday nights before, but mainly, it’s a DJ.”
Cassie snickered. “I like to keep Allison out of here on the weekends. It never fails that some drunk chick wants to convert her to bat for the other team.”
“So I’ve seen,” I replied, winking at Allison. Once again, Allison sputtered with mortification at mine and Cassie’s comments, and again I found it utterly endearing. She might’ve been twenty now, but in so many ways, she was still the innocent, naïve teenage girl I’d met so many years ago. Most of the girls and women I came in contact with were so worldly and stuck on themselves. Being with Allison was definitely a nice change.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to change the subject away from my alleged allure,” Allison said.
“Go right ahead, Sonny,” Cassie replied.
Allison focused her attention on me. “I have tomorrow night free. Would you like to get together for movie night?”
I grimaced. “I would love to, but I have this stupid bachelor auction thing I’m emceeing.”
With a teasing roll of her eyes, Allison said, “Like I haven’t heard that excuse a million times.”
I laughed. “I swear to you that it is the truth. More than anything in the world, I’d rather be watching Monty Python with you than in a monkey suit with a bunch of society ass**les.”
“I think I’ve heard about that auction. Isn’t your mother heading it up?” Cassie asked.
“Unfortunately, yes. That’s how I got roped into emceeing. The only time she likes to admit my fame is when it can best be used to suit her purposes. This time it appears having a celebrity emcee will get more people out to empty their pockets. I would have told her no, but it’s for a cause really close to my heart.”
“And which one is that?” Allison questioned softly.
“Autism research.” While I kept my eyes on the table, I could feel Allison’s inquisitive gaze on my cheeks. I’m sure she was trying to decipher the motives behind why someone like me would possibly be interested in the charity.
“That’s so sweet that you’re thinking of Lucy. I’m sure it means a lot to Brayden and Lily that you’re working to raise money for research,” she said.