Jon froze, unable to believe she could even be hinting and what it sounded like she was hinting at.
Never, in all their years of friendship, had Lucy suggested she wanted more—until that last night. And even after that, she'd been happy to let him leave. She couldn't want him to stay now, could she?
And even if she did—how could he?
He'd been silent too long, unsure of his next words, because Lucy spoke again. "Anyway, the point is, we both got what we were looking for, right?" She pushed away from the bed again and started searching once more for her own clothes, instead of his. "We got our dreams, and we even got last night to heal our friendship before you go back to Nashville."
Nashville. Of course he had to go back.
Any slight rising hope he'd felt faded at the reminder. He had his dream to fulfil—not to mention his contractual obligations. He'd worked his whole life for this. Of course he couldn't just drop it now, even if he was willing to face up to the arguments with his team and potential legal wrangling with the contracts department at the label.
No, he had to go back, smile, write and play. He had to finish this album, and then maybe he could think about what he wanted next.
"Jon?" Lucy clutched her top and bra to her chest, against his T-shirt, and even in the pale morning light the concern in her eyes was unmissable. "You okay? You don't…regret last night?"
He forced a smile. "Not for a moment." Except for how it showed him everything that had been missing in his life. "You're sure you can't come to Nashville with me?"
Her answering smile was sad. "No more than you can give up international stardom and stay here with me," she joked, but it fell flat between them. A reminder of what could have been, if they'd each chosen different paths, different dreams.
If they'd chosen each other instead.
"Maybe you'll visit again soon?" Lucy said. "Or I could come to Nashville for a weekend or something, when things are quiet here."
Except they'd never be that quiet, he was sure. And a weekend here or there would never be enough. Lucy had been at the centre of his life for years and years, until she'd suddenly been nowhere. He'd only just got used to the latter when she stormed back into it again, fiddle playing, her smile everything he remembered. Still lighting up his heart.
No, a few days here and there would be worse than nothing.
"Maybe," he said anyway, because he didn't want to argue about it.
That wasn't his way.
Lucy glanced at the clock on the wall beside the door. "I need to go. Work, you know?"
In a single, swift movement, she replaced his T-shirt with her own, then shoved her bra in her back pocket. Leaning down, she pressed a light kiss to his lips. "See you around, superstar."
Then she was gone. And Jon was alone, with nothing but a ticket back to Nashville to remind him why.
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