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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Just as I turned to go, my mother’s voice stopped me. “There you are. After I didn’t see you again last night after the party, I thought you might have left us again. But when I went for my morning walk, I saw your car was still here.”
I drew in a deep breath, trying to temper my response. I turned around. “I went to take Ellie home and make sure she was okay.”
My mother’s dark eyes narrowed slightly. “This is Eleanor’s home.”
“This will never be Ellie’s home, Mother. You have to be welcome at your home, and we know that will never be the case. Whenever she comes here, she’s banished to the carriage house.”
“It isn’t banishment. It’s giving her freedom.”
Rolling my eyes, I started backing toward the door. “I don’t have the f**king time or energy for this conversation.”
Mother crossed her arms over her chest. “Did you take the same care with your date to make sure she made it safely home?”
“Her name is Allison, and from your tone, I’m sure you already know she stayed last night with me in the pool house.”
“This is the second time I’ve seen you with this girl. Are you serious about her?”
I gave a mirthless laugh. “Don’t tell me you’re actually interested like a real mother is about who her son might be involved with? I’m sure with you it’s more of a concern about her social stature and what type of blood runs in her veins.”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “Honestly, Rhys, isn’t it enough that you have to defy your father’s and my wishes by abandoning law school and a future at a prestigious law firm? Must you now bring further shame by dating a girl who is so far removed from our social sphere?”
“Mother, it’s far too early in the morning for your snobbery,” I retorted sarcastically.
“Don’t be a fool, Rhys. This girl is so completely enamored that she’s even found a way to get her claws further into you by touring with your band on the pretense of this internship.”
Since my mother wasn’t the type of woman to confide in about my confused feelings and emotions, I merely shook my head. “Look, I’m hoping this will shut you up on the matter. I’m not dating Allison—not now and not ever. There’s absolutely nothing between us but friendship, and there never will be anything else.”
At the sound of a gasp behind me, I whirled around. With a horrified expression, Allison stood in the doorway outfitted in the shorts and T-shirt of mine that were way too big for her. Before I could say anything to her, she turned and fled out the door.
“Fuck,” I muttered, throwing everything in my hands on the counter. I raced out the door after her. “Allison, wait!” I called.
When Allison turned toward me, tears pooled in her eyes. “What you just said to your mother…is that how you really feel about me?”
I couldn’t understand why she was crying, but I knew I needed to get her to calm down. “Look, could we just calm the f**k down for a minute and think about this?”
“What is there to think about exactly?” she pressed.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the fact that we made a horrible mistake last night.”
Flinching like I had hit her, Allison questioned in a strangled voice, “Is that what it was to you? A mistake?”
“Of course it was. We were both drunk. It had been a hell of a night for me, and you were so sweet to comfort me. I swear to God that I never intended to seduce you.”
Allison’s eyes widened. “You think you seduced me?”
I grimaced. “I’m sure you would have never done anything like that if I hadn’t been coming on to you. I take full responsibility for what happened.”
She stared at me like I had grown horns and fangs. It was the oddest expression of agonized disbelief. I could almost see the wheels in her head turning and spinning. And then she shocked the hell out of me by bringing both of her hands to my chest and shoving me hard. “You…you f**king ass**le!” she screeched.
My eyes widened at her choice of language along with the fury with which she spoke. She shook her head wildly back and forth at me. “If last night was a mistake and you just seduced me, then what the hell have we been doing the past three weeks?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know exactly. Hanging out? Spending time as friends?”
“Just friends? That was all it was to you?”
“What else was it supposed to be?”
“Oh God,” she moaned. Allison’s eyes then pinched shut. I’ve known her long enough to know that look, and I feel like utter shit for causing her pain.“I can’t believe this. All this time I’d fantasized what it would be like to tell you how I felt about you. But never could I have imagined a nightmare like this.”
“I don’t understand.” And that was certainly an understatement.
Opening her eyes, Allison pinned me with a hard stare. “You’ve been utterly and completely blind, haven’t you? Or I guess it’s more like you’ve been emotionally shut off.” She took a tentative step toward me. “Last night meant everything to me because I was with the man I loved. The man I’ve been in love with since I was thirteen years old.”
Her words had the same effect as if a lightning bolt had shot out of the sky to slam me with jolts of electricity. “You’re in love with me?” I asked with disbelief.