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  • Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Strings of the Heart (Page 26)     
    Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley
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    “I know earlier I was teasing, but if I had any money, I’d totally bet on you.”

    Rhys’s eyes popped open and a smile curved on his lips. “I think that’s a great idea.”

    “But—” I started to protest.

    He shook his head. “To ensure that I don’t have to be someone’s plaything for an evening, I’ll give you the money to bet on me.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Sure. Why not?”

    “But how will I know when to stop?”

    “That’s the thing. You won’t stop. You will be the winner. Okay?”

    I nodded. “Okay.”

    Rhys leaned in and kissed my cheek. “Thanks, Allison. You’re a lifesaver.”

    I enjoyed the nearness of him for a fleeting moment before he whirled around and made his way to the front of the study. Picking up a microphone off a marble-topped table, he stood behind a small wooden podium that had been brought in. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you’ve come here ready to dig deeply into your pockets for this wonderful cause because it’s now time to start the auction for autism research.”

    Applause rippled through the room. “I am your host this evening, Rhys McGowan—” He was interrupted by shrieking whistles and cheers. He smiled good-naturedly. “Thank you, I appreciate your enthusiasm. I hope you’re paying attention to your programs this evening for which bachelors are available and in what order. So let’s get this started by calling up our first bachelor of the evening, Walt Harrison.”

    I stood back, watching Rhys go through the motions. He was actually quite good at emceeing. He kept the crowd laughing and the bachelors moving through.

    I was momentarily distracted when a girl my age bumped into me. “Nice dress.”

    “Oh, thank you. I actually borrowed it from a friend.”

    A sickeningly sweet smile appeared on her face. “No doubt from the back of her closet considering it’s so old. I can’t even count how many seasons ago that dress was fashionable.”

    Her friends encircling her giggled behind their hands. While there were a million and one things I wanted to say to her, I found it incapable to verbalize any one of them. Gripping my champagne flute tighter, I merely edged away from the group of stereotypical society bitches.

    I had just taken a sip of bubbly to calm my nerves when a voice behind me caused me to choke. “Don’t worry about my niece, honey. She’s a second generation cunt.”

    Whirling around, I took in an elegantly woman in an emerald dress. Her salt and pepper hair was swept back from her face with glittering combs. She gave me a genuine smile—the first one I had witnessed all night besides Rhys’s. “Thank you…I think.”

    She laughed. Extending a white gloved hand, she said, “I’m Vivian Percy.”

    “Allison Slater.”

    “I don’t think I’ve seen you around these shark-infested waters before.”

    “No, thankfully, this is my first time and hopefully my last.”

    “I don’t blame you on that one. Who are you here with?”

    “Rhys McGowan.” When her blue eyes widened, I quickly said, “He and my brother are bandmates.”

    “Ah, yes, Rhys McGowan. He grew up to be such a cutie pie, didn’t he?”

    With warmth flooding my cheeks, I replied, “Yes, he did.”

    “Thinking of betting on him this evening?”

    “Um, well…” I wasn’t sure if Rhys wanted me to make our plans known.

    “He’s a hot ticket, honey. If it were me, I wouldn’t have to think twice.”

    “Yes, I am planning to bet on him.”

    Vivian smiled. “Good for you. Now hold my spot a minute while I run and grab a bite to eat. I’m famished.”

    “Sure.”

    Two more bachelors were auctioned by the time Vivian returned. “Who is next?”

    I glanced down at the program. “A Jackson Marshall.”

    Shifting her plate to her left hand, she said, “Oh, thank God, I didn’t miss him.”

    “Is he your boyfriend?” I asked casually.

    Vivian hooted with laughter. “Oh honey, maybe forty years ago I would’ve tried to get my hooks into him, but he’s young enough to be my grandson.”

    “I’m sorry.”

    She waved her hand that held a canapé. “Don’t be. There is a reason why I want to bet on him.”

    Rhys interrupted my thoughts by saying, “Going once, going twice, sold for one thousand dollars.”

    As applause erupted around us, Vivian leaned in to whisper in my ear. “Jackson’s father was arrested awhile back for absconding with investors’ money—total white-collar criminal, if you get my drift. The one thing that people in Savannah society prides themselves on are being close-minded, unforgiving ass**les. It doesn’t matter that Jackson is an upstanding young man with a 4.0 GPA at Vanderbilt. Most people here would love to see him ostracized, even though he couldn’t help, nor was responsible for, what his daddy did.”

    At that moment, Rhys called Jackson’s name. When he strode up to the podium, my eyes bulged in surprise. It was as if Chace Crawford had entered the room. Jackson’s blue eyes sparkled as he glanced into the crowd. “Oh my,” I murmured.

    Vivian chuckled. “I forgot to mention how handsome he was, didn’t I?”

    “Just a little.”

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