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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
“So, what do you think?” Eli asked.
“I think it sounds like fun,” I answered honestly.
He grinned. “Good, I’m glad to hear you think so.”
“Just drinks and some dancing, huh?”
“Yep. Unless the mood strikes for more,” he replied, wagging his eyebrows.
I couldn’t help laughing. “I’ll be sure to keep my mood under control then.”
“What a pity. We could have some real fun together.”
Cocking my head at him, I countered, “Oh yeah, I’m sure I know exactly what kind of fun you’re talking about, and I’ll have you know I’m not that kind of girl to hop from one guy to another for—“ I paused to make air quotes with my fingers, “Fun.”
He winked at me. “That’s good to know, Allison. You can keep me an honest man.”
“Sounds like a challenging job,” I replied, with a smile.
“It is. It might even be a full-time one.”
“We’ll just have to see about that.”
“Look, since it’s freezing out here, I gotta go get out of these wet clothes. But we’re on for tomorrow night, right?”
“Yes, we are.”
“Good.” He grabbed his wet shirt off the pavement and then picked up his guitar. “Bye, Allison.”
“Bye, Eli,” I said, waving my fingers at him.
Once he was out of sight, I walked back to the bus. When I came back up the stairs, I found Jake and Rhys had left, and it was just Abby and the twins. “It seems that Eli has a crush.”
I shook my head. “It’s not like that. We just like to joke around with each other.”
Abby gave me a pointed stare. “I know my brother, Allison. Deep down, he isn’t kidding.”
“Oh,” I murmured softly.
“He asked you out tomorrow night, huh?”
My brows shot up in surprise. “How did you know?”
Motioning to the window, Abby replied, “As much as I wanted to give you privacy, I was kind of held hostage with the twins.”
“So do you think you could like Eli?”
“I already like him.”
“You know what I mean.”
With a sigh, I flopped down on the couch. “Of course I could like him. He’s good-looking, talented and funny.”
“But he’s not Rhys,” she said, with a knowing expression.
I vaulted off the couch. “There’s nothing going on with me and Rhys,” I protested.
Abby shook her head at me. “Do you really think I’m that stupid?”
Panic sliced its way through me. If Abby knew, then that meant she could tell Jake. Everything Rhys and I feared would come to fruition. “Please don’t tell Jake,” I whispered.
“Of course I won’t tell Jake. What you two feel for each other is not my place to tell.”
“How long have you known?”
“Since the twins’ baptism. You needed a chainsaw to cut through the unresolved sexual tension between you two.”
My cheeks warmed at her words. “We’d already resolved the tension by then. That was part of the problem.”
Abby gasped. “You slept with Rhys?”
“Shh!” I cried. Since we were alone on the bus, I wasn’t sure why I was trying to quiet her. It wasn’t like the twins were going to spill anything.
“When did it happen?”
I realized it was time to unburden myself of everything that happened in Savannah. So I took a seat across from Abby and filled her in. When I finished, she sighed. “I had no idea that had happened. No wonder you two practically combust when you’re in the same room together.”
“It doesn’t matter what happened then. Rhys made it perfectly clear then that he doesn’t feel the same way I feel about him, and that’s that.”
“Well, he’s deluding himself if that’s what he thinks. He doesn’t look at you the way AJ or Brayden looks at you.”
Images flashed in my mind of Rhys during his fitting. “But that’s just lust. I want him to look at me with more in his eyes.” Feeling tears pricking my eyes, I said, “I want him to love me.”
“He does look at you with more than lust, Allison. He’s guarded with his feelings for you, but it’s there.”
Swiping the tears away from my eyes, I shook my head. “Even if he did realize how he felt, he’s never going to go against Jake by pursuing me.”
“You don’t know that.”
“It’s hopeless,” I murmured.
We were interrupted by Jax and Jules beginning to fuss at being held captive in their high chairs. As we picked them up and took them to their pallet, Abby said, “There’s something else I need to say.”
“What is it?” I asked, putting Jax’s favorite stuffed animal within his grasp.
Her expression had saddened since we left the table. “You know that more than anything, I want you to be happy.”
“Regardless of what happens between you and Rhys, I don’t want to see Eli get hurt.”
“I know that everything between you two is just fun and games right now. But Eli’s already putting himself out there for you far more than he has for a girl in a long, long time. I know it would be easy to use him to get back at Rhys—”