Tempt Me Like This
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“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.”
“Always. That’s why I asked you to read my mother’s letter. Because I needed to finally hear it put to music. Sometimes,” he added with a little grin, “I want to ask you to talk just so that I can hear that melody again.”
He was so damned glad when her lips tipped up at the corners. “I could read the phone book for you sometime, if you want.”
He laughed, loving being with her. Everything that should have been so hard was just easier with her. And better. So much better. Which was why he needed her to know something else. “And then when I got to know you, I found out you’re not just one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I also learned that your brains don’t come at the expense of your heart. You’ve got both, Ash, and that’s rare.”
He knew her well enough after three days to guess at what she was thinking: Could she trust him enough to answer his earlier question about how he’d been there for her when she’d needed him?
Finally, she said, “You already know what a fan of your music I’ve been since I was a teenager. But the truth is...” She took a deep breath before meeting his gaze. “Your songs saved me, Drew. I don’t know what I would have done without them when my parents were splitting up and it felt like I was tearing in two, like no matter what I did or what I chose, I was letting someone down. I couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on, but even though you didn’t know me, listening to your songs made me feel like you understood what I was going through. And that maybe everything was going to be okay in the end, if I didn’t give up hope. You were my refuge, Drew. You and your music.”
“Ash.” He had to put his arms around her. Had to hold her. Had to try to make her feel better in any way he could. “I’m sorry they did that to you. Your parents should have known better than to tear at you like that when they were the ones having problems.”
“I chose my dad.” Her confession was barely louder than a whisper. “Mom wanted me to leave with her when I was fifteen, wanted us to move to Miami and start over. She promised me that it would be fun and exciting. But I’m not like her. I love her, but I’ve never been like her. I’ve never been fun and exciting like she is.”
He knew he shouldn’t interrupt her story, but he needed her to know, “Yes, you are. Beautiful. Passionate. Fun. Exciting. Brainy. Those are all words that fit you perfectly, Ash. Those and so many others that I’ve yet to discover, but I will.”
She didn’t say anything for several moments, simply stared at him as if she was trying to process what he’d just told her. “How can you see me so differently than everyone else does?”
“How can you not see yourself the way I do?”
It wasn’t enough just to hold her. He’d known it wouldn’t be, but he couldn’t leave her standing there hurting. She’d needed his songs as a teenager, and now she needed him.
“Ash, I know we said we wouldn’t—”