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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
“Oh, how interesting. What’s your major?”
Glancing at my dress, she nodded. “I can see that—you have impeccable taste.”
“Thank you very much.”
After clearing his throat, Rhys asked, “Where’s Ellie?”
Trudie’s bright expression dimmed a little. “She’s at the front window. She’s been glued to watching all the catering trucks coming and going.” Trudie shook her head. “Even though she’s in her own world most of the time, she does seem to love a party.”
Rhys clenched his jaw. “I know.” After nodding to Trudie, he once again reached for my hand, and I took it. He led me through an arched doorway into a room filled with floor-to-ceiling windows. At the far end of the room, I saw Ellie—or at least her back. Each of her hands gripped the sides of the lace curtains as if they were the lifeline to keep her upright as she leaned her entire upper body into the window. Her dark hair fell just at her shoulders, and it was styled like a pageboy. With jeans and a striped shirt, she appeared as any other twenty-something. But from the way she hummed and carried herself, you could tell there was a difference.
“Ellie-Bellie-Mellie,” Rhys called, his voice vibrating with affection. The moment the words left his lips I thought of Jake’s nickname for me. Rhys had always called me the same thing, and although I hated it, I saw now that it meant something to him to call me that.
Slowly, Ellie craned her neck in Rhys’s direction. A bright smile lit up her face. With her dark hair and dark eyes, she looked so much like Rhys.
Without a word to Rhys, she hurried over to the other side of the room where a baby grand piano sat. After she eased down on the bench, Rhys grinned. “Must we play now, Ellie? I wanted to introduce you to my friend, Allison.”
She didn’t reply, nor did she look in my direction. Instead, her posture remained ramrod straight, fingers poised over the keys. “Okay, if you’re sure,” he said. Still Ellie made no gestures or noises.
I watched in amazement as Rhys crossed the room to Ellie and sat down next to the piano. Out of a case on the floor, he produced a sleek black cello. Easing it between his legs, he took the bow in one hand. Once he had everything adjusted properly, Ellie began to play. Within a few beats, Rhys chimed in with her. “Recognize it?” he questioned over the music.
Closing my eyes, I tried to put a composer or a title with it. “Beethoven?” I asked, as I opened my eyes again.
Rhys nodded. “Moonlight Sonata,” he called over the music.
“I love Beethoven. He’s the perfect classical emo composer.”
With a laugh, Rhys replied, “That is true.”
Then he focused his attention back on his instrument. He had never mentioned being able to play the cello. I suppose it made sense since in a way the bass guitar was in the same family as the cello. With rapt attention, I watched as he closed his eyes and effortlessly drew the bow across the strings with infinite precision. His left hand moved deftly across the fingerboard, and I couldn’t help but shudder a little watching the strength in those fingers.
Although sex should have been the furthest thought from my mind, there was something very erotic about watching him with his eyes closed, biting his lip in extreme concentration as he worked his fingers up and down the neck with the massive cello standing between his legs.
As I fought the urge to fan myself, Trudie came to join me at my side. “They’re very talented, aren’t they?” she asked.
“It’s amazing how well they complement each other.”
“Yes, they both were born musically gifted. Ellie learned by listening to Rhys’s early music lessons. Then one day I found her repeating what she had heard on the piano.”
“So she’s pretty much completely self-taught?”
Trudie nodded. “She doesn’t read music. She simply hears a piece and commits it to memory.”
As the duet came to a close and Trudie and I clapped wildly, Ellie made no move to get up from the piano, but Rhys seemed to anticipate her silent request. “Okay, but just one more. How about instead of the classics, we try Les Mis this time?” Rhys said. I sucked in a breath when he jerked his chin up at me and grinned. It meant so much that he had picked a musical he knew was my favorite. We’d just watched the new movie version the other day.
Ellie then began the opening chords of a song I was so familiar with, Bring Him Home. As they each played their separate parts that melted into one melody, they complemented each other so well. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched them execute the music so beautifully. Swiping my cheeks, I realized how precious these moments had to be to Rhys. For a short time, he was wholly connected with Ellie in a world where they were both equals and understood each other so completely. I couldn’t help but imagine that from the time they were little, their bond had been tightly woven through the strings of music.
No matter where he had gone in life or what celebrity status had come to him, Rhys had never let his bond break with his sister. It warmed my heart to see him have such a wonderful connection. For someone I had feared didn’t know how to love or be loved, he had thankfully proved me wrong.
When they finished, I clapped until my hands were stung red. “That was…” Closing my eyes, I shook my head. “I don’t even have words to express how wonderful it was.”
Standing up from his chair, Rhys gave me a beaming smile. “I’m so glad you enjoyed the concert. I’ll have to play for you again sometime.”