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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
I could only imagine why the line was bothering him so much. It was the epitome of the impasse we found ourselves at. And so far, he had managed to do a lot of damage to my heart and to the relationship we’d once had.
Part of me ached to go to Rhys. I wanted to wrap my arms around his neck and tell him that it could all be all right if he would just let go with his preconceived worries. But the other part of me ached to go over and throttle him for being such a stubborn bastard.
At the end of the song, I brought Jax’s hands together to clap. He giggled and bounced in my lap. “You liked that, huh?”
As Jax squealed his approval, Eli said, “I think he’s giving his seal of approval that a duet needs to happen between the two of us.”
“A duet?” Jake’s voice bellowed from the doorway. His eyes narrowed at the sight of Eli and I so close together on the couch. “What are you guys doing?”
“Just messing around,” I replied.
Knocking Rhys out of the way, Jake then crossed the room in two long strides to stand in front of Eli and me. At the sight of his dad, Jax went crazy lifting his arms and reaching for Jake, so Jake picked him up. He then appeared almost comical with a menacing look on his face directed at Eli as he bounced his baby boy in his arms.
“You’ve been holding out on us, Jake,” Eli said.
“What do you mean?” he asked, glancing between me and Eli.
“Allison can seriously sing.”
Jake glowered at him. “Yeah, she’s got a good voice. What about it?”
Eli rolled his eyes. “You should be maximizing her talent by putting her out on the stage.”
I opened my mouth to argue with him when Rhys piped up behind Jake. “Allison wouldn’t want that. While she might like to sing at low-key places, she would never, ever want to perform to thousands of people. Besides, her talents are far better served with fashion design.”
Even if I had been forced to, I couldn’t have taken my eyes off of Rhys in that moment for anything in the world. He was constantly throwing me emotional curve balls, and this was yet another one. With everyone peering at him in surprise, Rhys shrugged. “It’s the truth.”
Patting Eli on the leg, I said, “Rhys is right. I’m not a performer.”
“Except at Saffie’s,” Rhys replied, a smile playing at the corners of his lips.
Jake’s dark brows furrowed. “What the hell is Saffie’s?”
Rhys’s wide-eyed, horrified look told me he hadn’t meant to out me. I’m sure after all these months, he figured I had told Jake. Exhaling a long breath, I said, “Just a lesbian night club I was singing at once a week back in Savannah.”
Shifting Jax to his other hip, Jake then appeared almost comical with a questioning expression on his face. “Allie-Bean, is there something you need to tell me?”
Jake grimaced. “It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.” When I continued giving him a blank look, he said, “Do you need to tell me about you being…” He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Gay,” he said, in a whisper.
I busted out laughing. Both Eli and Rhys started laughing along with me. “Jake, I’m not g*y. I was just singing at a g*y club.”
“Oh,” Jake replied. For a moment, he didn’t appear relieved. In a warped way, I guess it would have been easier for him for me to be g*y when we were out on tour with a bunch of horny males. Then his expression changed over to one that was serious big brother protector. “You were underage and singing at a nightclub? I’m pretty sure that Dad and Nancy don’t know about this.”
“They do now. I didn’t tell them at first because I figured they would freak out just like you’re starting to do.”
“You should have seen her Jake. She was amazing,” Rhys said.
Jake’s gaze snapped from mine to Rhys’s. “What the hell, dude? You knew about this?”
Rhys nodded. “I went to one of her shows.”
“And you never thought that maybe I needed to know?”
With a shrug, Rhys replied, “It wasn’t for me to tell.” He glanced over at me. “She’s good. Really good.”
My heartbeat accelerated at his words. I was momentarily distracted by Abby’s hand on my shoulder. “Oh, Allison, I wish we could have seen you.”
“I have it on video,” Rhys said, digging his phone out of his pocket.
“You do?” I asked, my voice choking off with emotion.
“I thought Jake might want to see it one day,” Rhys replied.
“Oh,” I murmured.
Abby squealed with glee and slid in beside Eli on the couch. Jake reluctantly squeezed in beside her. Leaning over the back of the couch, Rhys started playing the video. It was hard processing him being so open about me and my singing. When it came down to it, I couldn’t believe he was sharing anything that connected us and our infamous time in Savannah.
“You sound amazing!” Abby exclaimed.
Warmth filled my cheeks at her compliments. “Thanks.”
Nudging Jake, Abby said, “Doesn’t she sound amazing, babe?”
Jake bobbed his head. “I can’t get over how grown up she looks and sounds.” He glanced over his shoulder at me. “You’re absolutely phenomenal, Allie-Bean.”
Tears stung my eyes at the sincerity of his words. “Thank you.”
“That’s one sexy dress you’re rockin’ there. You look beautiful in red. Love the boots, too,” Eli said, winking at me.