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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Allison’s hands slowly fell from around my neck as she pulled away. Without another word to me, she turned and started walking down the path that led to the street. “Wait, let me at least give you a ride.”
She shook her head. “I’d rather walk.”
“Please don’t leave like this.”
“There isn’t any other way to do this. Goodbye, Rhys.” She then continued on down the path before heading out the gate and disappearing from my gaze. Long after she was gone, I continued standing in that same spot, wondering what the f**k had just happened to me. Regardless of the emotions that tightened in my chest, I had to accept the same words I’d given her. Nothing could ever work between Allison and me. There were too many obstacles to overcome.
I would just have to keep telling myself that.
It has been ten days and three tour stops since I had talked to Rhys alone on Jake and Abby’s bus. Although three months had passed since our time together in Savannah, the pain was just as fresh as the day he had broken my heart. Whoever said time healed all wounds was deluding themselves. Every time I had to see Rhys or be around him, the flimsy gauze I’d placed over my heart was stripped away, leaving the wound to ache and fester.
I’m not sure how I made it through the rest of the semester without completely flunking out. After that agonizing last day when Rhys shattered my world, I found it hard to cope. The first few days I didn’t get out of bed. Cassie and my other roommates force-fed me soup and some of my favorite takeout. Then Cassie used tough love on me to get me out of bed. Once I finally came out of that emotional coma, I began a somewhat zombie existence—I went through the motions of school and work, even singing at Saffie’s, but my heart wasn’t in it. It was too obliterated after the dream I’d harbored since I was just a thirteen-year-old kid had been destroyed.
I didn’t hear from Rhys again after he blew out of town that day. While my dress and shoes arrived in a dry-cleaned garment bag, there was no note attached to it. Part of me couldn’t believe he didn’t at least call to check on me. That would have been the decent thing to do, but I guess I’d been deceived about who he really was all along. At the end of the day, I almost wanted to believe that he was as cold and callous as his parents, but I knew better. Years of watching Jake slowly self-destruct when it came to his relationships with others had made me better able to see Rhys as he truly was. He just couldn’t handle what had happened between us. At the end of the day, I truly believed he felt more for me than he could let himself acknowledge.
Thankfully, I hadn’t had to see him until Jax and Jules’s baptism. I couldn’t help wondering if he would try to avoid the ceremony all together. As godmother to Jax, he knew I would be there. Part of me had so desperately wanted him to be there so I could see him again while the other part hoped that he wouldn’t so my heart wouldn’t be torn in two yet again.
When he had walked into the room where we had all congregated before the ceremony, I found it hard to breathe. I’d clutched Jax tighter in my arms to keep me grounded, so I wouldn’t pass out. He’d given me one small smile and a hello—the same kind you would give to someone you were barely acquainted with. It was like I had spent three weeks with an entirely different person—that I’d made love with an entirely different person. And the fissure that had been etched into my heart by his previous behavior grew even wider.
Even without the internship, I would have found myself partaking on a nomadic existence to be Jake and Abby’s nanny, and in turn, I would have once again been partaking in Rhys’s orbit. While I often could hide away with the kids, the internship forced me to work with the Runaway Train stylist, but more importantly, with the guys of Runaway Train. It was not something I was looking forward to.
Glancing out the bus window, I watched as we pulled into the CenturyLink Center in Omaha for tonight’s show. Balancing Jax on my lap, I finished washing off his face from the baby cereal he’d had. Across from me, Jake was doing the same thing to Jules. While we had been feeding the twins, Abby had been getting ready to go on stage for rehearsals as soon as we got in.
She came out of the bedroom dressed and ready just as the bus eased to a stop. Since Omaha was just a one-night stop, we wouldn’t be staying in a hotel room. The twins would be shuttled back and forth between the arena and the bus. It was hard, but somehow we all made it work.
The bus door opened, and Dustin, one of the bodyguards, hopped on. “You guys ready?”
“I think so.” When Abby began glancing frantically around, I said, “Everything for the twins is packed. They’re all taken care of.”
She gave me an appreciative smile. “Thank you, Allison.” She then took Jules from Jake. “Can you get their stuff, babe?”
“Sure,” Jake replied, a little less than enthusiastically.
We then exited the bus with Jax in my arms, Jules in Abby’s, and Jake loaded down with paraphernalia for the twins. “Remind me why there’s not a roadie doing this shit?” Jake grumbled, as we made our way into the arena.
“Because in real life, parents with twins don’t have roadies to schlep their stuff,” Abby replied.
“Blows for them,” he replied.
I’m not sure how Abby managed to stay so positive in the face of a grueling tour and raising two infants on a tour bus. I know she didn’t have a choice because she was not the type of mom to leave her kids behind, but at the same time, it exhausted me most days, and I was just watching the twins, not giving my heart and soul each night on stage as well.