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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
“Why of course we have a veranda. I just like to be uncouth and call it a back porch.”
Allison laughed, causing my chest to have an odd clenching feeling. I’m not sure why I cared so much that she found me amusing. But more than hearing her laugh, I loved making her laugh. “What is it about being in Savannah that makes me want to talk and act like a proper Southerner?” she asked.
“I’m not sure. But the city certainly has some kind of pull on you,” I replied, as I uncapped a beer and handed it to her.
“Think it’s the voodoo?”
I snorted. “Could be.” I then raised my beer up to the full moon. “Here’s to all the voodoo and hoodoo that makes Savannah what it is.”
Thrusting up her longneck, Allison said, “To the hoodoo and voodoo.” Then she took a long swig of the beer.
I sat the six-pack on the table, and then we eased down onto the porch swing. For a while we sat in silence, merely listening to the heave and sigh of the swing. Turning my head, I eyed her profile in the moonlight. “You know, I just keep learning more and more about you, Allie-Bean.”
“And precisely what did you learn about me tonight?”
I swallowed a large gulp of beer. Then I grinned at her. “First of all, you become a tough little cookie when provoked.”
Allison threw back her shoulders and huffed out a breath. “She was a bitch. No, actually, she was a cunt,” she replied.
Beer spewed out of my mouth onto the tiled floor. “Holy shit, did you just say cunt?”
Giggling, she ducked her head. “Yeah, maybe.”
“Okay, chalk that up as something else I’ve learned tonight. You can have a real potty mouth when you want to.”
She smirked at me. “Like I didn’t learn it from my big brother?”
“Well, that’s probably true,” I conceded.
“So what else did you learn about me?” Allison prompted.
“Well, besides the fact you can go from genteel to raging bitch in a few seconds, I found out that you can handle your own in a tough social situation like that. And you certainly know how to dress to impress.”
“Thank you,” she murmured softly.
“Most of all, I’ve learned you are a woman of many complexities, and it’s very intriguing.”
Her mouth made a perfect little “O” at my declaration. Everything I said was the truth. In the last thirty-six hours, I truly had come to see Allison in an entirely different light. It was hard imagining that I’d known her seven years and not realized it at all. Not only was she a woman now, but she was a very interesting one. I wasn’t even sure Jake was aware of all the many facets that made up her character.
“You’ve learned so much about me, but I’m still missing some things on you,” she said.
“I’m sure all you would have to do is Google me, and a lot of shit would come up.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t want impersonal information like that about you. I want it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“Fine. I have nothing to hide, so fire away.” I cocked my brows at her. “But be forewarned that turnabout is fair play.”
“I don’t mind.”
Tilting her head, Allison asked, “How old were you when you lost your virginity?”
The audacious question, coupled with her interested expression, caused me to spew out the sip of beer I’d just taken. Swiping my hand across my mouth, I said, “Damn. Going straight for the jugular on that one, aren’t you?”
She giggled. “Would you rather me have asked the last time you cried?”
I shook my head furiously. I wasn’t one of those emotionally stunted men who thought it was weak to cry. It was more the fact that I didn’t want to have to acknowledge that it had been three days ago after I saw my sister. I wasn’t ready to go there with her yet.
“So answer the question,” she pressed.
“Actually, I was a late bloomer. I was nineteen.”
Her brows rose in surprise. “Seriously?”
I laughed. “You sound so shocked.”
With a shrug, she said, “I just imagined you being young. Like fifteen.”
“I was finishing up high school at fifteen. Trust me, for most of my teenage years, I wore glasses, had acne, and weighed one thirty soaking wet.” I shook my head as I was assaulted by a barrage of painful teenage memories of being bullied and being made fun of. It was just another reason that I hated living in the past—it was too f**king painful.
Trying to lighten the dark mood pervading me, I motioned to myself. “I was not always the stud you see before you today,” I teased.
My efforts were rewarded by a laugh from Allison. “I find that hard to believe.”
I couldn’t help shuddering. “Oh trust me, there’s photographic and video evidence.”
She shook her head. “Nope, I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine a time when you weren’t a hottie.”
“As f**king misguided as you are, I gotta say thanks for the compliment.”
With a grin, she took another sip of her beer. “So who was she?”
Shifting in my chair, I couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable with her questioning. I mean, where the hell was she going with this? And now because she had brought it up, I couldn’t help wanting to know the same shit about her…or did I?
“You want me to elaborate about losing my virginity?”