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|Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley|
Jake narrowed his blue eyes. “No, but I’m pretty damn sure that leaving you broken and bloody will make me feel a f**king lot better!” And then he launched one punch to Rhys’s gut and then another to his chin. This time Rhys didn’t refuse to fight, and he threw two punches back at Jake, nailing him in the face and chest.
With a frustrated growl, Jake started pummeling Rhys’s face and chest. “No, Jake! Stop!” I cried. Grabbing onto his back, I tried pulling Jake away from Rhys. But with his adrenaline pumping, Jake slung me off with such a force I slammed back into the wall and collapsed onto the floor.
“You hurt her!” Rhys bellowed.
I shook my head as I tried catching my breath. “Didn’t…mean…to,” I tried arguing, but Rhys wouldn’t listen. He charged at Jake, sending them both careening back. When Jake’s legs hit the edge of the table, he went over, taking Rhys with him in a tangle of arms of legs. The table cracked under the combined weight of both men and then splintered into pieces. Jake and Rhys were momentarily disengaged as they crashed to the floor, but then they started punching and kicking again on the floor amid the rubble of the table.
The dressing room door banged open, almost flying off its hinges. AJ and Brayden stood wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the scene before them. “Please! Stop them!” I begged.
In one fluid moment, they rushed forward. “Stop it, guys!” AJ bellowed, as he reached out to try and grab Rhys off Jake. All he managed to do was be elbowed in the gut by Rhys. “Motherfucker!” AJ shouted, his face crumpled in pain.
After surveying the scuffling, Brayden stalked over to the dressing room table, reached in a drawer, rifled through its contents, and then proceeded to take out a small, locked box. As he worked the combination, I couldn’t imagine what might be inside—Mace or a Taser maybe? The truth was crazier than what I had imagined. My eyes widened in horror as he raised a sleek, silver pistol into the air. He fired once, causing me to scream and jump out of my skin.
Thankfully, the pistol fire was enough to stop the fighting. Rhys rolled off Jake onto his back. “Nice work with the gun,” AJ mused, as he rubbed his stomach.
“Yeah, the last thing I was about to do was risk breaking my playing hand on these fighting f**kers.”
AJ snorted. “Tell me about it. I think Rhys broke one of my ribs.”
“Pussy,” Rhys muttered, which caused AJ to playfully kick Rhys’s ass with his foot.
At that moment, two arena security guards along with two Runaway Train bodyguards burst through the doorway. They glanced around, surmising the situation. “Everything okay in here?” one of the security guards asked, his brows cocked questioningly.
Waving the pistol, Brayden replied, “It’s fine. I had to use this to get my bandmates attention. We have a permit for the gun, officers. It’s carried around in a locked box with our makeup supplies in case things get dicey, and our bodyguards can’t get to us.”
The bodyguards nodded their heads in agreement with Brayden’s explanation. “No problem. Just wanted to check,” the security guard replied. The four of them then left us alone.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Brayden asked, “Now you want to tell us what the hell you guys were fighting about?”
Rhys coughed before spitting a stream of blood onto the carpet. “It’s none of your f**king business.”
AJ’s dark eyes narrowed. “Excuse me? We come in to find our two bandmates, our brothers, in a brawl on the floor, and it’s none of our f**king business?”
“He’s no brother of mine,” Jake snapped. With a grunt, he pulled himself into a sitting position. “You should’ve let me kill him for what he was doing.”
AJ and Brayden exchanged a glance. “What do you mean?” AJ asked.
“I came in here to find him disrespecting my little sister like she was some groupie whore.”
I gasped while tears stung my eyes at his hurtful declaration. “It was not like that,” Rhys protested.
“You were f**king her in our dressing room up against the makeup mirror!”
I shook my head. “Jake, please, just let us explain. I promise it’s about more than sex.”
Jake snapped his gaze over to me. “There’s nothing to explain. You’re packing your bags, and you’re on the next flight out of here.”
My mouth gaped open in shock. “Excuse me?”
“I will not stand by and let you be used by him.”
“He’s not using me, I swear.”
“Yeah right,” Jake snapped.
The thought of being sent away from Rhys was almost too much to bear. Stepping forward, I grabbed Jake’s arm. “Don’t you see? I love him!” I blurted, my body beginning to shake from the sobs rolling through me.
Shock and disbelief sliced itself through the room, momentarily cutting off Jake’s argument. AJ and Brayden exchanged a look before cutting their gaze over to Jake. As if they expected my outburst to set him off again, they angled themselves protectively in front of Rhys. Brayden’s hand remained curled around the pistol in his hand.
Jake didn’t move. He didn’t charge for Rhys or act like he wanted to strangle him. He barely blinked as he stared at me.
Through my tears, I watched as Rhys took a tentative step forward. “And I love her with all my heart,” he said, in a strangled voice.
My hiccupped cry turned in a laugh. “You’re so stupid, Jake. Don’t you realize I’ve loved him since I was thirteen years old?”