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  • Home > Katie Ashley > Runaway Train > Music of the Heart (Page 91)     
  • Music of the Heart(Runaway Train #1)(91) by Katie Ashley
  • I nodded and then hurried after Jake. When I got to the porch, I glanced left and right before running to the barn. “Jake?” I called. Silence echoed around me. Whirling around, I then ran down the hill to the stables. I peeked in several stalls until I saw him standing in one.

    With tears still streaming down his cheeks, Jake was saddling up a towering black horse. Sensing my presence, Jake said, “I have to get away from here. I need to take a ride.”

    I stepped back as he led the horse out of the stall. “I’ll go with you.”

    He glanced at me in shock. “You don’t ride horses after you got thrown as a kid,” he reminded me.

    A shiver went over me at the memory from all those years passed, but I shook my head. “I’ll ride them for you.”

    Jake stared at me for a minute before taking my hand. He pulled me over to the horse. “This is Lennon.” He gave me a sheepish grin. “Brayden might be a Paul McCartney fan, but it’s all about John Lennon for me.”

    “I like it.”

    “Ready?”

    “As I’ll ever be.”

    Tension and unspoken words hung heavy between us. I was at a loss for what to say to comfort him. He’d just experienced the worse loss of his life, and I was afraid I might not be enough to fill the void. Maybe there wasn’t anything I could say—maybe all he needed was me by his side, showing my love and support.

    Jake brushed the wet strands of hair out of my face. “You can hold tight to me. I won’t let you fall, Angel.”

    “And I won’t let you either.” I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed myself against him. I gave him a lingering kiss. “We’ll ride this storm together, Jake. Forever and always.”

    His warm breath fanned across my cheek. “And you’ll always be my sweet angel—my saving grace and the love of my life.”

    ***

    Epilogue

    A deep, regretful sigh escaped my lips as I stared down at the bronze marker memorializing my mother. Although I had gone all out to get her the best there was, it still seemed like an inadequate representation of how amazing a woman and mother she was.

    Abby’s arm encircled my waist, pulling me to her. She leaned her head on my shoulder. “Are you sure you don’t need a minute alone?”

    “No, I want you here.” I kissed the crown of her head. “I always want you with me.”

    “And I always want to be here for you.”

    I smiled down at her. “Besides, Mama would want you here. She loved you like I do.”

    Abby’s chin trembled. “And I loved her too. I always will.”

    At the sound of crunching leaves behind us, Abby and I turned around. A tall, lean man came striding toward us. His arms were laden with dozens of pink roses. When he got almost to us, he stopped abruptly. His dark green eyes scanned our faces. “Excuse me, are you part of Susan Moore’s—I mean, Susan Slater’s family.”

    My brows shot up at his thick Russian accent. “I’m her son.”

    A hesitant smile formed on his lips. “Of course. I see the resemblance now.” His gaze left mine to take in my mother’s grave. Regret filled his face. “I’m so sorry I didn’t get here for the funeral. I didn’t know she was sick. I would’ve liked…” He drew in a sharp breath like he was trying to control his emotions. “I would have liked to have seen her again.”

    “How did you know her?” I asked.

    “We used to dance together many years ago.”

    Abby’s arm jerked from my waist to cover her mouth. Her eyes had widened as big as saucers. “Oh my God. You’re Yuri?”

    He smiled. “Yes, but how did you know?”

    “Susan told me about you.”

    “Wait, what?” I asked.

    Ignoring me, I watched as Abby closed the gap between her and Yuri. She leaned up to whisper something in his ear. An agonized sob escaped his lips. When she finally pulled away, tears streamed down his cheeks. “Really?”

    Abby nodded.

    “Thank you,” he murmured. Swiping his cheeks, he turned his attention to me. “May I have a moment with her?”

    “Sure. We really have to be going anyway,” I replied.

    “Nice meeting you,” Yuri said.

    “You too,” Abby replied while I nodded.

    As we walked away, Abby took my hand in hers. “Who the hell is that guy and what did my mom tell you about him?” I demanded.

    “It was something she wanted just between us—a girl’s thing.”

    I skidded to a stop. “Please tell me that dude isn’t my real father or something like that!”

    Abby’s blue eyes widened. “No, no, of course it’s nothing sordid like that!”

    “Tell me,” I growled. When she shot me her infamous ‘Don’t you dare use that tone with me, Jake Slater’, look, I grunted in frustration. I hated begging, and she knew it. “Please.”

    “Okay, since you asked nicely, I’ll fill you in on the way to the concert.”

    The idea of a benefit concert in my mother’s memory had been Abby’s idea. She wanted it to be a hometown crowd for those who knew and loved my mom as well as me. All proceeds would go to cancer research and the American Cancer Society. She organized everything from having us perform in the park behind the high school where both my mom and I went to school. It would also be the opening of our newly billed act, The Crossroads Tour, where Jacob’s Ladder and Runaway Train teamed up together for a North American tour.

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