Reckless In Love
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Drew had never heard this story before. What’s more, he hadn’t heard his father talk about his mother at all since she’d passed away, as if it hurt too much even to share memories. “If Mom said she wanted to be with you, why’d you panic?”
“Because she was the most beautiful, vibrant, incredible woman in the world. And I was just me. I honestly couldn’t see how it could work.”
“It worked great. You had the best marriage of anyone I knew growing up.”
“We did.” His father inhaled a shaky breath. “We sure did.” He shook his head as if to clear it before adding, “I know you would never want to overshadow anyone, Drew—”
“No one could overshadow Ashley.”
His father met his gaze and held it. “Because she’s the most beautiful, vibrant, incredible woman in the world to you?”
“Damn straight she is.”
His father pulled him in for a hug, and they both held on tight. But Drew could see that Olivia’s brain was on overdrive as she watched Ashley talking about the music business with Grant.
Ever since their mother had gotten sick, Olivia had tried so hard to step into Lisa Morrison’s shoes and keep the family together. She’d done a great job, but Drew didn’t want her to think she had to worry about him anymore. Not now that he had Ashley.
James gave him a hand signal to let him know he had ten minutes before he needed to hit the stage. “I’m going to see if I can grab Olivia before the show starts. Thanks, Dad. For everything.”
He gave his father another hug, then headed toward his sister. “Can you hang with me in my dressing room for a few minutes?”
“Sure, I’ve been wanting to grab you for a private chat.”
Olivia didn’t say anything as they headed for his dressing room, but as soon as the door closed, she said, “I thought you weren’t going to go near your professor’s daughter.” She parroted his words from a family barbecue a while back: ‘I wouldn’t touch her in a million years.’ Isn’t that what you said to all of us? Does her father know about you two?”
She raised an eyebrow. “You say that like you’re actually planning on telling him.”
“I haven’t had Professor Emmit for any classes, but I know plenty of people who have, so I think I have a pretty good sense of what he’s about. He likes rules. Likes everything to line up neat and straight. Especially his daughter, I’m going to guess.”
His sister was too damned smart to miss a thing. “Right.”
“Which means you’re the very last guy he’d ever want to see her with.” She held up her hand before he could respond. “You’re my brother and I love you and I think you’re great. The greatest. But the fact is, you’re still a rock star. And life with you is the exact opposite of straitlaced and neat and tidy.” Just then, screams from his fans pierced the door, and she shook her head. “Plus, it’s gotten even crazier than it was before. You’re really, really famous now.”
He couldn’t deny any of that either. But that didn’t mean he was willing to give Ashley up. “We can make it work.”
“How? Long distance, with her in school and you on the road?”
“If that’s what it takes. I’m not willing to give her up, Olivia.” Just the thought of it made every part of him tense up. “Anything but her.”
His sister’s expression softened. “You’re different with Ashley, Drew. Happier. And so much lighter, too. I know how hard losing Mom has been for you.”
“For all of us.”
“Yes. All of us.” She closed her eyes, and in that moment, he watched her fall apart, then put herself back together. “Sean is lucky. He found Serena, and she’s helped change everything for the better for him. And Justin always has Taylor to lean on, even if they’re both too dumb to realize that they’re actually in love and not just best friends.”
“Things are going to hit a breaking point soon for them,” Drew predicted.
“God, I hope so, because it’s just gotten downright painful to watch the two of them circle each other.” She pinned him with her laser-focus gaze. “Do you think that maybe what you’re feeling for Ashley seems so strong because she’s helped heal you?”
“She has helped heal me,” he told his sister. “But that’s only one of the reasons why I love her.”
His sister’s eyes went big. “Love?”
He’d been circling it himself for a while now. Since the very beginning, if he was being totally honest with himself. “I’m in love with Ashley.” It was the biggest thing he’d ever known. And the best. If he could have shouted it from the rooftops, he would have.
“Does she know?”
Just then, a knock came at the door. “Two minutes, Drew,” James called.
“Not yet,” he told his sister as they both got up to head out of the room.
And he’d be counting every second until it was just the two of them alone on the bus so that he could tell Ashley she was absolutely everything to him.