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  • Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Strings of the Heart (Page 86)     
    Strings of the Heart(Runaway Train #3) by Katie Ashley
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    “Are you angry at us, too?” I asked. My question caused Rhys to jerk his head up and gaze at his bandmates.

    “You really care about what we think?” Brayden asked.

    “Of course, I do. You two are like brothers to me, too,” I replied.

    He gave me a genuine smile. “I’m very happy for you both.”

    “Really?” Rhys asked, his voice vibrating with doubt.

    Brayden nodded. “But I can’t say that I condone all the secrecy and sneaking around, and I sure as hell think that you guys could have let Jake know in a better way.”

    While Rhys chuckled at Brayden’s comment, my face burned with mortification. It was bad enough that Jake had caught us having sex, but now Brayden and AJ knew as well. I glanced from Brayden to AJ. “What about you?”

    AJ eyed us for a few seconds and then pursed his lips. “I gotta agree with Brayden that you two really know how to f**k things up. But at the same time, I didn’t ever think I’d hear Rhys say he loved a girl.” AJ grinned. “It did my heart good to hear it. So, I think the two of you as a couple is f**king awesome.”

    I exchanged a look with Rhys who smiled at me. “Thanks, man. That means the world to me to hear you say that.”

    “I mean, you couldn’t have picked a better girl. Besides all of her wonderful attributes of being beautiful, sweet, and talented, Allison is already loved by all the Runaway Train women, and you know how important that is,” AJ said.

    Brayden bobbed his head in agreement. “At the same time, she’s already loved by all the Runaway Train men, too.”

    Tears blurred my vision at his sweet words. “Thank you, Bray. That means a lot to me.”

    With a wink, Brayden then turned his gaze on Rhys. He wagged his finger at him. “But just know, if you hurt her, you’re going to be dealing with me.”

    “And me,” AJ chimed in.

    Rhys held up his hands defensively. “Trust me, I know that. But I also know that I’d walk through fire before I’d ever hurt Allison again.”

    My heart beat wildly at his response, and I couldn’t resist leaning over and kissing him. When I pulled away, Rhys exhaled a breath in a long whoosh. “Now if we can just get Jake to be okay with us.”

    AJ waved his hand dismissively. “You know Jake. He’s always got to go ape-shit and show his ass. But he always comes around.”

    Rhys shook his head. “I dunno. Considering the way he feels about Allison, he might hold a pretty long f**king grudge.”

    It was at that moment that Abby appeared in the doorway. She crooked her finger at me. I shot off the couch and went sprinting toward her. “Jake thinks he can talk to you now.”

    “Okay.” Nervously, I glanced over my shoulder at Rhys. Part of me didn’t want to have to face Jake alone, although I was pretty sure that seeing Rhys would only set him off again.

    As we started down the hallway to one of the other dressing rooms, Abby took my hand in hers. “While Jake has promised me he won’t do it, should he start that macho ass**le bullshit, you just get up and walk away. You don’t have to listen to that.”

    “Um, okay,” I repeated. This was all new territory for me. Up until the last thirty minutes, Jake had never spoken to me so harshly.

    Abby smiled. “What I mean is, if he starts in on you like before, don’t take the abuse. Although he’s come a long way in handling his emotions, Jake still doesn’t know how to navigate a situation by thinking things through first, rather than reacting. Make him see that you will not listen to anything else hurtful—he’s said far too much today as it is. If he can’t talk to you tenderly and with brotherly love like he always has, then you won’t listen to him.”

    I nodded. “I think that sounds like a good plan.”

    When we got to a closed door, Abby pulled me into her arms. Into my ear, she whispered, “He loves you so much, Allison.”

    I sniffled, fighting the urge to cry again. “I know he does.”

    She patted my back. “Stay strong and stand your ground.”

    Bobbing my head in agreement, I then pushed open the door. I knew Jake was expecting me, so there was no need in knocking. Glancing around the room, I saw Jake sitting on the couch with his head in his hands.

    “Jake,” I murmured softly.

    After jerking his head up, I could see he was still so visibly angry. “Sit,” he ordered, through clenched teeth. At my hesitation, his expression softened slightly. “Please.”

    On somewhat shaky legs, I stepped forward and eased down in the chair across from him. He stared down at his hands, taking several long breaths before he spoke. It appeared he was still having trouble keeping his emotions in check, and I’m sure he was trying to weigh his words carefully. But of all the things going through his mind, I never imagined what he finally said.

    “I hated you when you were born.”

    I gasped at the harshness of the words. He glanced up and gave me a remorseful smile. “I couldn’t help it. In my eyes, you were the reason my parents got divorced. I mean, my mom and dad were trying to work things out after the affair, but then when your mother found out she was pregnant, everything changed. In just a few months, Dad moved out and into a house in Atlanta.” Jake drew in a ragged breath, his hands twisting over and over in his lap. “Being a punk ten-year-old kid, I wouldn’t acknowledge your existence. After you were born, I refused to visit my dad. I didn’t want to be under the same roof as you—the living, breathing symbol of why my mom cried all the time and my life had been turned upside down.”

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