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  • Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Strings of the Heart (Page 23)     
    Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley
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    I nodded. After taking the dress and the underwear I would need back into the bathroom, I slid them on. Since there was no way I could zip the dress by myself, I came back out to get Cassie to help. After I was zipped up, I was pushed down into a chair, and Shelly started working on me. Minutes ticked by as my hair was dried, curled, and teased, and then my makeup was done. “There. All done,” she finally said.

    Whirling out of the chair, I hurried to get a glimpse of myself. As I stood back from the tall, oval mirror that I’d brought from home, I couldn’t help shaking my head in disbelief. Part of me fought the urge to reach forward and tap the glass to make sure it was really me. “Oh my God, Shelly, you’re really a miracle worker.”

    She laughed as she fluffed and then sprayed some of the curls trailing down my back. “Once again, I only enhanced the beauty that was already there.”

    My gaze dipped from my long and feathery fake eyelashes to my plumped-up lips shimmering with gloss down to the tight, strapless bodice of the couture dress. Shelly had been right when she said that the dress would help enhance my cle**age. For once, my B-cup was looking like a full C as it spilled over the top of the dress.

    I don’t know when I had felt so beautiful—maybe my Sweet Sixteen party, if even then. I desperately needed to feel this level of desirable to boost my confidence to approach Rhys. He was used to gorgeous women brazenly throwing themselves at him. Although I could never see me throwing myself at him, I could definitely work on making him notice me. Then maybe things would really begin to change for us.

    “You’re going to take his breath away, Sonny,” Cassie said behind me.

    “Thank you. I sure hope so.” My gaze flickered to the clock on my nightstand. “Oh shit, I’m already ten minutes late!”

    Cassie reached out to place her hands on my shoulders. “Easy, you’ve got to breathe or you’ll pass out.”

    “But—”

    “No buts. There’s a cab waiting on you outside, so you’ll be there in less than ten minutes with traffic.”

    “There is?” I asked, as I hurried over to dig my slinky, black heels out of the closet.

    “Yep, I called one for you while Shelly was working her magic.”

    After I slid on the heels, I grabbed my purse. “Thank you both so very, very much for tonight.”

    “You’re welcome,” they replied in unison.

    When I got to the door, I turned around. “Oh, just one thing.”

    “What?” Cassie asked.

    “Could you please refrain from making out on my bed? I don’t even get to make out on it.”

    Cassie laughed. “No problem.” Shooing me with her hand, she said, “Now get the hell out of here.”

    “I’m going, I’m going,” I said, slipping out the door.

    After I hurried out of the house and pounded down the steps, I slid into the seat of the cab, which in a corny way felt kind of like Cinderella’s carriage. “Take me to 429 Bull Street, and please try to hurry if you can,” I said to the driver.

    He took my request to heart as we squealed away from the curb and started careening down Oglethorpe Avenue before making a sharp right. I gripped the leather seats while silently praying I actually made it to the Mercer Williams House in one piece. When we got to the turn to Monterey Square, we began to inch along. Peering out the window, I watched valets in white jackets run along the front of the house, handing tickets and then parking cars. “You can just let me out here,” I said to the driver.”

    “All right.”

    After I dug a ten out of my wallet, I handed it to him. “Thanks.”

    “Have a good evening, miss.”

    “You too,” I replied, as I put one high-heeled shoe out onto the pavement. Once I closed the door, I started walking as fast I could on my heels. I followed some of the couples through the wrought iron gate and up the front walk. When we got to the door, a man in a tux was checking invitations.

    That’s when I started to panic. Rhys hadn’t mentioned that I would need an invitation. Just as I was about to dig my cell phone out of my purse to text Rhys, the man questioned, “Miss?”

    “Oh, um, I don’t have an actual invitation. I was invited by someone,” I said, instantly realizing how idiotic I sounded.

    Glancing down at his clipboard, he demanded, “Name?”

    “Allison Slater.”

    His finger ran down a sheet and then he stopped. “Good then. Go on in.”

    I exhaled a relieved breath as I breezed past him into the black and white tiled foyer of the house. Instantly, I felt like I was stepping right into the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I half expected Kevin Spacey to walk by, puffing on a cigar, as he played Jim Williams.

    Standing on my tiptoes, I craned my neck, searching the long, crowded room for Rhys. When I didn’t see him, I started into the first room on the right. It was filled with people talking and drinking champagne. I left that room and made my way across the hall. When I still didn’t see him, I decided that I better start asking.

    Tapping one guy on the shoulder, I said, “Excuse me.”

    After he whirled around, his gaze dipped slowly down my body, as if he were trying to memorize every curve I had. “And what can I do for a sweet thing like you?” he drawled.

    “Do you know where I could find Rhys McGowan?”

    He smiled. “Are you looking to bet on him tonight?”

    I furrowed my brows in confusion. “Excuse me?”

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