As the Runaway Train family gathers in Savannah, Georgia for the wedding of its last single member, Rhys McGowan, to Allison Slater, Jake’s little sister, Rolling Stone magazine prepares an issue to celebrate the union. While focusing on the happy couple, they also sit down with Brayden and Lily Vanderburg for a feature on successful rock star marriages. After all, the two have been a couple since they were sixteen years old. But there is more to the story than meets the eye, and their love took a slight detour before finding happily ever after.
Told in flashbacks from the present to the past, Brayden and Lily share the story of their unbreakable love.
I then turned my attention to Giovanni. “Once again, my deepest apologies for being late.”
“It’s all right.”
Cocking my head at him, I asked, “Did my lovely wife give you the sad sap story as to why I’m not always with it?”
Giovanni grinned. “Yes, she did. And I have to say it was quite fascinating hearing about your head injury and how without it, you might not be where you are today.”
With a chuckle, I replied, “I would have to say that’s the truth because if it weren’t for the short-term memory issue shit, I would have been here a lot earlier.”
Waving his hand dismissively at my joke, Giovanni said, “I don’t think most of our readers or your fans know that you didn’t grow up playing guitar or having the desire to be a rock star. That without the football related injury, you would have never taken up the guitar or written your first song.”
I shifted in my seat. Talking about my injury always made the hairs stand up on the back of my arms and neck. It was one of those life-altering moments that set me on an entirely different path I could never have imagined. At sixteen, my entire universe revolved around the emerald green grass of the field and the smell of pigskin in my hands. I had my eye on a college scholarship and maybe some time in the NFL. I was that good.
But life changes in an instant—a play you had executed flawlessly a hundred times before can go so very wrong. Instead of being carted off victoriously on the shoulders of your teammates, you leave in a neck brace laid out on a stretcher. A cracked vertebrae that narrowly missed severing your spine brings the curtains down on your dream. But then you realize that the life you thought was ending was truly just beginning.
The squeeze of Lily’s hand brought me out of the past and back to the present. I cleared my throat. “Yes, it is true that my life would be so very different and not for the better. But I don’t mean in the sense of not having the fortune or the fame.” I turned to gaze at Lily and smiled. “I might not have Lily by my side.”
She brought my hand to her lips and kissed it. “When I was seventeen, I told you I’d follow you anywhere and everywhere. If your life had taken you somewhere else, I would have been there.”
“Thank God,” I murmured.
“So was it love at first sight for you?” Giovanni asked, leaning in expectantly.
Lily tilted her head at me before giggling. “Not exactly.”
Giovanni’s dark brows knit together. “Oh?”
I couldn’t help the smile that stretched across my face as the familiar memory played in my mind. “I owe my marriage to my lovely wife’s penchant for apple thievery.”
Lily sputtered with outrage. “I was not stealing apples. We had just moved in, and I wasn’t sure where our property ended and your grandparents began.”
After winking at her, I focused my gaze on Giovanni’s amused one. “The first time I ever laid eyes on Lily she was wearing a blue sundress with a satin ribbon in her hair. She could have had the face of an angel, but I wouldn’t have noticed because she had the hem of her dress flipped up to cradle the apples she was picking from my grandparents’ tree. All I could focus on were her long, tanned legs and the brief glimpse I got at what was between them.”
“Brayden Michael Vanderburg!” Lily exclaimed. Just hearing her call my full name caused warmth to enter my chest. I loved her voice, I loved her outrage, and I loved that a woman as amazing as she was actually loved me.
“I’m just answering the man’s question, sweetheart,” I replied. Leaning forward in my chair, I then began the story of the day that changed my life….
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs and one outnumbered cat. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.
She spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.
She also writes Young Adult fiction under the name Krista Ashe.