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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
I jerked my gaze up to meet hers. Although she had missed the mark, I replied, “I suppose they do.”
“Who are Brayden and Lily?” Cassie asked, as she glanced between the two of us.
“My bandmate and his wife. Lucy, their youngest daughter, was just diagnosed as a child on the autism spectrum. Hers is more of a sensory nerve disorder that the doctors think can be helped, if not corrected, with a lot of extensive physical therapy.”
“That’s a rough diagnosis. At least it sounds like there are some positives in it.”
Allison nodded. “There are no two sweeter and more patient parents than Brayden and Lily.”
“That is the truth,” I replied.
With a sweet smile, Allison said, “Well, I’ll miss having movie night with you, but at least I know it’s for a really good cause.”
Leaning forward on the table with my elbows, I cocked my head at her. “Who says we can’t spend the evening together?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why don’t you come to the auction with me? It should only run about two or three hours. We could have dinner afterwards.”
Gnawing her bottom lip between her teeth, Allison said, “Oh, I don’t know.”
Cassie nudged her playfully. “You should totally go. I mean, you’ll only end up sitting at home alone with a pint of ice cream if you don’t.”
Allison scowled at Cassie. “Thank you so much for reminding me what a loser I am with no life,” she replied sarcastically.
I laughed. “Come on. You’ll get to see even more of Savannah’s history and culture. The auction is being held at the Mercer Williams House.”
“Is that the house from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?”
Nodding, I replied, “It sure is.”
“I thought that was more of a museum now?”
“While it is open for tours, Jim Williams’s sister still lives there. That’s how Mother was able to book the event. She goes way back with her.”
“It really does sound like fun,” Allison said, with a hesitant smile.
“Then why haven’t you said yes? I don’t think I’ve had to work this hard for a date in a long, long time.” Allison dark eyes bulged at the mention of the word “date.” Trying to backtrack, I said, “Well, you know what I mean.”
“I just don’t want this to be a pity thing.”
“A pity thing?” I repeated.
“I know that Jake asked you to check in on me because I was homesick. I don’t want you to feel like I have to tag along to everything or else I’ll be at home sitting in a dark room all depressed.”
I laughed. “This has nothing to do with pity or Jake. It’s all about you and I having fun out on the town. Okay?”
“So does that mean you’ll go?”
“Yes.” But then her brow creased with worry. “It’s black tie, right?”
“Yeah. Is that a problem?”
Her hands fretted anxiously with the umbrella in her drink. “It’s just with me being new in town, all my nice dresses are back home.”
Cassie cleared her throat. “No need to fear. I have the perfect dress you can borrow.”
“You do?” Allison asked.
With a laugh, Cassie replied, “Yes, it’s a little, black couture number with the tags still on it. My dear mother brought it back from Fashion Week in Paris a few years back.” She winked at us. “It was one of her last ditch efforts at trying to feminize me.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind me borrowing it?”
Cassie rolled her eyes. “Does it look like I’m ever going to wear a dress, least of all some bullshit couture one?”
“Not really,” Allison replied.
“Exactly. So it’s yours as long as you’re not uncomfortable wearing a dress that is a few seasons old.”
Allison furiously shook her head. “No, I’d be happy to.”
Cassie grinned. “Then it’s all settled.” She turned to me. “Now you make sure to show our girl a good time.”
Fuck me that the words, “Allison” and “good time”, sent my perverted mind once again in a direction it shouldn’t have. Of course, it didn’t help I had such a delectable vision in front of me with her fitted dress and high-heeled boots on. Shit, I was so utterly screwed.
After sucking down the rest of my Crown, I met Allison’s gaze and plastered on what I hoped was a brotherly smile. “I’ll try my best.”
As soon as I could clock out, I peddled like lightning home. I only had an hour to shower and get ready before I was supposed to meet Rhys at the Mercer Williams House. Considering I reeked of pizza and beer, I needed some time to transform myself so that I would look and smell acceptable for him.
I tore through the front door to find Cassie lounging on the couch. “There you are. I laid the dress out for you on your bed.”
“Thank you,” I panted. Without another word to her, I streaked down the hall to my bedroom. When I threw open the door, I bent over at the waist, bracing my hands on my knees to try and catch my breath. Once I had regulated my breathing, I jerked my head up and eyed the dress draped across my homemade quilt. “What the…?” I murmured, taking a few shaky steps over to the bed. “Cassie!”
“What?” she called.