Reckless In Love
Page 29

 Bella Andre

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“Are you?”
“Right now? Here with you?” He stroked her cheek again. “Yes. I’m happy.”
When the pad of his thumb brushed over her lower lip, she closed her eyes for a moment, and he could feel the ragged breath she inhaled. But a moment later she was opening her eyes and asking, “What about tonight, on stage? Were you happy then?”
“I tried to be. I wanted to be.” He pulled away, hating that he didn’t know how to put words to it. “Those songs, my songs—like I said, I never had to think about them. They were just there and they felt right. But now... Now they don’t feel totally right anymore.”
“Only ‘One More Time’ does, doesn’t it?”
“It shouldn’t. It doesn’t sound like the rest of my songs. Doesn’t sound like anything the label wants. Doesn’t sound like anything on the radio right now. Doesn’t sound like what I’m sure Smith Sullivan wants me to do for his movie soundtrack. It’s why I haven’t written anything else.” His hands were fisted now at his sides in frustration. In anger at himself for being so screwed up. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore.”
“Yes, you do. The one new song you’ve written is amazing. Yes, you break our hearts, but you’re breaking them in the best possible way.” She squeezed his hand tightly. “Do you want to know what I hear in your song?”
He was almost afraid to say yes, but he was done hiding out from the truth. At least this one. Because he knew he still needed to fight the incredible temptation to kiss her. “Tell me, Ash. I need to know what you hear.”
“I hear the kid whose demos I downloaded from the Internet when I was fifteen. I hear the rock star whose music has taken over the world. And then, blended in perfectly with everything else, I hear the son who learned every folk song on the planet for his mother. Because she loved those songs and he loved her.” He felt as though she was looking straight into his soul as she said, “Somewhere along the way, you fell in love with those songs, too, didn’t you? With that sound?”
It was one of those rare moments when things suddenly became so clear you wondered why you hadn’t seen it before.
“You’re right. All those songs—I thought I was just learning them for her. But I wasn’t, not after the first couple of days. I was like an addict, searching for the songs they only performed live in concert, the cuts that never made the albums.”
“How could anyone walk away from a song like CSNY’s ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ or Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and not be moved?” Ashley asked. “Not be changed? What those songs did for you once you started learning them for your mom is what your songs did for me when I was a teenager.”
“Before we went into the meet-and-greet room tonight, Ash, you said I was there for you when you needed me. Is that what you meant? That my songs helped you?”
She was silent for a long moment. “I’ve never talked with anyone about this. And I certainly never thought I’d be talking to you about it.”
“I don’t want our friendship just to go one way. I want to know you. Hell, I’m dying to know more about you.” When she still didn’t say anything, and he could read the silent Why? in her eyes, he told her, “I feel a connection with you. Don’t you feel it, too?”
“I do, but...”
“You just told me what you hear in my song. Do you want to know what I see whenever I’m with you?” His question clearly made her nervous, and when she dropped her gaze, he put his hand on her chin and tipped her face back up to his. “Beauty. Incredible beauty. I’m not going to lie and say that wasn’t what struck me first. My jaw hit the floor the first time I set eyes on you.”
“It did?”
“Of course it did. Every guy who looks at you has the same reaction.”
“No,” she said in a serious voice. “They don’t. I would have noticed if they did.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Of course I’m sure. My mother is the beautiful one. I’m nothing like her, not in looks or personality.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Or maybe you just haven’t looked in enough mirrors lately. Maybe you’re still seeing the cute girl you were and not the gorgeous woman you’ve become. Don’t look so upset about it, Ash. It’s not a bad thing to be beautiful.”
“But I’m the brain. Not the beauty.”
“Actually, you’re both.”
She looked hugely shocked. It wasn’t too different from his own shock at realizing that the music he was hearing in his head was no longer just rock, but a blend of rock and folk.
Looked like all the things that had once seemed so black and white to both of them, weren’t anymore.
“The first time we met, I was still so busy being knocked over by your beauty that when you started speaking, if my mind hadn’t already been blown, it would have been then.”
“Wait.” Her frown was so deep now that he couldn’t stop himself from reaching out to smooth it with his fingers. “How could hearing my voice have blown your mind?”
“Because I heard a melody in your voice that’s haunted me ever since. I’ve tried to play it with my guitar, and on the piano, but I can’t replicate the sound. Every time you speak, I hear that melody, Ash.”
“You do?”