Tempt Me Like This
Page 93

 Bella Andre

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His fans were hollering for him to get on stage, and his band was waiting in the wings, clearly wondering just what in the hell was going on, but he was completely focused on her. “You’re more important than the show. A million times more important.”
It meant the world to her that he thought so. And it was amazing to actually be able to shelve her doubts that he could truly mean it. But she still needed to have this conversation with her father alone.
“I love you, Drew. So much it’s crazy. And I definitely want you and my dad to patch things up. But first, I need to talk with him. Not just about you and me...but about everything.”
Her declaration of independence had been a very long time in coming.
Drew’s eyes roved her face as if he were trying to make absolutely sure that she meant what she said and wasn’t just trying to let him off the hook. “If you need me, even if it’s in the middle of a song, tell James and he’ll grab me.”
She had to kiss him again then, even though her father still looked as furious as she’d ever seen him. “Everyone here in Miami loves you, Drew. Promise me you won’t be distracted by this while you’re out there.”
“You never distract me, Ash. You inspire me. Every second of every day.”
He stroked her hair back from her face and gave her the gentlest, sweetest kiss in the world, before finally signaling to his band that he was ready to take the stage. And even though Ashley knew the conversation she was about to have with her dad wasn’t going to be an easy one, she was smiling as Drew stepped out of the curtains and twenty thousand people went wild.
When she finally turned to head over to her father, he looked stunned. She didn’t know if it was because of how much Drew’s fans obviously loved him...or if he still couldn’t quite wrap his head around his little girl having fallen in love.
“Dad, this is James,” she said, realizing that in the heat of the moment she’d forgotten to introduce her father to anyone.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Emmit. Your daughter is a treasure, and you’ve obviously done a great job raising her.”
“Thank you,” her father said, clearly taken more than a little off guard by the heavily tattooed bodyguard being so respectful and complimentary.
“James, is there an open room back here where my father and I can talk?”
“Absolutely.” James led them down the hall to an empty dressing room that had a couple of couches and a table with a few chairs around it. But neither Ashley nor her father sat. Instead, they stood facing each other as the door closed quietly.
There were a thousand things Ashley needed to say to her father, but the most important was, “I love you just as much as I always have. Just because I’ve also fallen in love with Drew doesn’t mean that has changed.”
“You love him.” Her father ruminated on that information for several long moments, before he finally asked, “Does he love you, too?”
“He does. And I understand that all of this must seem really crazy and unexpected to you, because that’s how it seemed to me, up until today…when I went to see Mom.”
She hadn’t thought her father could look more stunned than he had earlier, but his eyebrows went up nearly to his hairline. “Has she known about this the whole time?”
“No. No one has. But I needed to see her today.” She shook her head. “I should have come to see her in Miami before now. But I was too scared that if I came here, I might want to stay. And I couldn’t leave you, Dad.”
“Ashley.” Her father reached for her hand, and even now his touch was as warm and comforting as ever. “I thought you stayed in California because that was where you wanted to be.”
“I love where we live, but now that I’ve been to Miami, I can see why Mom loves it so much. And I can see that there’s a part of me that would have loved it, too. Everyone just seems so free. So relaxed. Like they know the rules, but don’t treat them like a prison.”
“I didn’t mean to make you feel like you’ve lived in a prison all these years.”
“Oh Dad, you didn’t. Not at all. But it’s always been easier for me to hide out in a library or behind a computer. Coming on this tour was the first really scary thing I’ve ever done.”
“You were scared? You didn’t say anything about being scared.”
“Because I didn’t want you to worry about letting me go any more than you already did. And it turned out that coming on tour with Drew was the best thing I could have done, for so many reasons. Not only because I met him and fell in love...but also because I had to learn to trust myself. My own decisions. And I’ve been learning how strong I can be. Strong enough to take risks that are worth taking.”