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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Because of all of the Runaway Train children, there was always one room designated just for them to be during rehearsals and the shows, especially for the times when we didn’t have hotel rooms. When we got inside, we found Mia and Lily already there. Jake happily sat down the baby saucers next to one of the couches. Just as Abby and I got the twins settled in the saucers, a technician appeared in the doorway. “We’re ready for Jacob’s Ladder.”
“I’ll be right there,” Abby called over her shoulder. She then focused her attention on her son and daughter. “Bye, my angels. I’ll be right back. Okay?” Abby said to the twins. They continued bouncing happily in their saucers.
At Abby’s hesitation, I tried reassuring her. “They’ll be fine.”
“I know. I’m such an idiot to get so worked up over leaving them for half an hour.”
I smiled. “I think it’s more the fact you’re a good mom, instead of an idiot.”
Abby grinned. “I think I like your way of phrasing things better.”
When she hustled out of the room, Jake turned to me. “Hey, where do you want to do the measurements?” he asked. Yesterday when we were on the road, I’d reminded Jake that I needed to get the measurements for Runaway Train and Jacob’s Ladder for my internship. I hadn’t pressed the matter the first week on the road because I wanted to get settled in. He had taken it very seriously and texted all the guys to make sure they were ready for measurements once we rolled into Omaha.
“How about in the dressing room?”
He bobbed his head. “Sounds good. I’ll get the guys together and be there in ten. Okay?”
“Sounds good. I’ll just run back to the bus to get my stuff.”
“Make sure Dustin or Ed goes with you.”
I fought the urge to roll my eyes at his overprotectiveness. “I will. And thanks for being so understanding about my internship.”
Leaning over, he ruffled the top of my head. “Anything for you, Allie-Bean.”
Bile rose in my throat at the mention of the nickname—the very one Rhys had called me. Of course, I couldn’t say anything to Jake about it. Sometimes it was exhausting keeping up a façade around Jake and the others, especially when Rhys was around.
With Mia and Lily keeping an eye on the twins, I headed back to the bus with Ed, the hulking bodyguard, in tow. Once I had all the materials I would need, we made our way back into the arena. I could hear the opening of Jacob’s Ladder’s rehearsal as we weaved through the chaotic backstage area.
When I got to Runaway Train’s dressing room, I found only Jake and Brayden. “Where are the other guys?”
Jake scowled. “Good f**king question. I just texted them where to be.”
Up the hall, the sound of Gloria Estefan’s Conga blared out of the room where the kids were. Jake and I exchanged a look. “I think we know where AJ is,” Jake said.
I giggled. “Yeah, that has him written all over it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that all the kids are eighties fans.”
Brayden’s brows scrunched in confusion. “Since when does he listen to Cuban music?”
Jake grunted. “Since your kids and his are eighties fans and they wear out that Greatest 80s Hits CD.”
With a grin, Brayden replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”
Pointing his finger at me, Jake said, “I’ll go get AJ, and you can find Rhys.”
“No, no, that’s all right. I’ll grab AJ, and I’m sure Rhys will show up,” I quickly replied. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was try to hunt Rhys down. Before Jake could argue with me, I dipped out into the hallway.
When I opened the door to the kids’ room, I couldn’t help laughing. Jude, Melody, and Bella were all encircling AJ while dancing around. AJ had Gaby in his arms and was putting down some serious moves. Even Jax and Jules were bouncing wildly in their saucers at the music.
At the sight of me, AJ began singing along, “Come on shake your body, baby, do the conga. I know you can’t control yourself any longer.” With his free hand, he motioned for me to join them.
I held up my hands. “Uh, no, I don’t think so.”
After handing Gaby off to Jude, he then whisked me into his arms before I could protest anymore and then danced me around the room. “No one can say no to the conga,” he replied, when he dipped me.
I giggled. “You’re very persuasive.”
“Dance wif me, Daddy!” Bella cried behind us.
“Sorry to be a party pooper, but I need to get your measurements.”
AJ released me from his arms to smack himself in the forehead. “Shi—I mean, shoot. I totally forgot.”
At Bella’s pouty face, AJ leaned down and kissed her on the head. “I’ll be right back, mija.”
When we got back into the dressing room, I found it was still just Jake and Brayden. “I don’t know where the hell he is. I just texted him again.”
Waving my hand nonchalantly as if it truly didn’t hurt me and piss me off, I replied, “It doesn’t matter. I can work on getting all of yours first.”
Jake stepped forward. “I’m sure you need to get the most important member first, right?” he asked, wearing a teasing expression.
“Of course,” I replied.
Setting down my notepad, I then grabbed my tape measure and pencil and went to work. “Done,” I said, once I’d worked my way from his neck all the way down his body.