The next morning I woke up alone. Sated, but alone. I wanted to cry. I had opened up to Ryan in more ways than one and he had just used me and left without a word.
I climbed out of bed and slid my nightgown on, looking at the clock told me that only had 15 minutes to get my coffee down before Elle’s internal alarm clock went off.
I made my way down to the kitchen, fixed myself a piping hot cup of java, then moved to pick up the evidence that I’d had company.
I found my phone and the light on it was blinking.
I opened it and there, staring right at me were two messages from Ryan.
I didnt want to leave,
but I also didnt want
you to have to explain
to the girls why I
was in your bed.
On top of you.
I smiled. For the first time in years, my heart didn’t feel quite so heavy.
Once all of the evidence was clear, and my coffee was almost finished, on came the pitter patter of little feet and I smiled to myself.
“Morning, Mom.” Elle came down the steps, bypassed me and went to get her cup and fill it with water.
“Good morning, beautiful.” I smiled.
This was the norm. 7 going on 27.
“Can I color?” She stationed herself at the table and looked at me expectantly.
“Go get your markers.” I shrugged, giving her the same saucy attitude she gave me, “I don’t care what you do.”
“Ugh!” She huffed, but went to grab them.
Then Piper came down, her thumb in her mouth and stuffed kiwi held by one leg as it’s head dragged each step. Thankfully, she hadn’t noticed.
I opened my arms and welcomed her as she snuggled in.
“Mom! Why is there a boy’s coat here?!” Elle exclaimed and my eyes widened.
“A boy’s coat? That’s impossible, Elle. There are no boys here.” Piper argued.
But, sure enough, Elle came around the corner from the kitchen, a black leather jacket in hand.
“Oh!” Think fast Meg! Think fast! “Ryan must have left it here last weekend.”
Good job, Meg... Good job... I pulled out my phone to shoot a quick text, but there was a knock at the door.
And Elle started shouting in a bored tone, “Ryan’s here! Tell him not to forget his coat today!”
I opened the door to a smiling Ryan. He was still wearing the same clothes from last night.
“Hello stranger.” I couldn’t hold my excitement back as he let himself in.
“I figured we could make it a weekly tradition.” He held up some bakery boxes and coffee as he smiled seductively.
“Only weekly?” I smiled shyly, watching him set out plates and everything for the girls.
“Ryan, your back!” Piper came in excitedly, “Are these donuts for us again?”
“They are.” He gave a nod and dished them out.
The little ones were at the table with Megan, and I had gotten up to get them some milk when Arlee came around the corner.
“Do you even have a home?” She asked, snatching a donut.
“I do.” I smiled at her smiled at her, “But I like being around people.”
She leaned against the counter and examined examined me as she bit into her donut, “Don’t you have your own people to be around? You know, like your band.”
“I have people,” I gave a nod and went stiff, “But they sleep in.”
She shrugged as I held my breath. I liked Megan... God, I REALLY liked Meg, but if her kids didn’t like me it would put an end to whatever was happening between us. That much, I knew.
“You’re a very popular guy, Ryan.” Her words were low and I knew that she didn’t want to be overheard.
“I like your mom. A lot. But if you don’t like me, I know where that puts me.” I decided honestly was the best policy under such scrutiny, “So just tell me what you know about me.”
“I have access to the internet, and unlike my mother, I know how to use it.” We were suddenly in a standoff, that left the little ones and Meg all staring at us, but I didn’t look away.
“And I take it, you’ve researched me.” I whispered tightly, so they couldn’t hear us from the dining table.
My entire body had gone stiff.
“It was the first thing I did, after you rammed into my mom’s car.” She snorted quietly, “You looked familiar and drove a sports car that costs almost as much as this house.”
“And?” This was it. She would tell Meg and everything would be over, just like that. I’d get kicked out of the house and out of their lives and they’d be done with me. Meg would be done with me.
“And, I’m glad you stopped dying your hair green.” Her face suddenly softened, “It looked horrible on you.”
“What are you saying?” My brow furrowed.
“You’re the first guy since my dad, don’t fuck it up.” She cleared her throat.
“He’s cool.” She spoke as she took off, back to her room with her donut, "He can stay."
Three weekends and nearly every weeknight with Meg, and I couldn’t get enough of her. The girls were amazing and their mother was now my central focus. I really was falling for the woman. She just had this low key, loving nature that I could chill with.
I would talk about my music or the tracks we were working on and she would listen and give advice without any prejudice or pushiness. She would relax with me and we had fun.
She said her best days were when she worked at the local tavern. I knew that meant working for Davis, but she know that I knew. She said that she'd loved it there, and it hadn’t felt like going to work, it felt like going home. I knew the feeling... I could be anywhere, but when I was at my keys or had a guitar in my hand I felt at home.
I had eaten at her house every night. Dinner with her and the girls and after the little ones went to bed and and Arlee went to the orchestra house, I would have my dessert...
Tonight, Piper asked me to join her bedtime reading and I agreed. I would be late for our Sunday night band meeting, but they could wait. Hell, I’d had to wait on each of their asses quite a few times. It was about time someone was waiting on my ass.
Meg told me I didn’t have to stay, but to me, this was important. The kid wanted me to stay and I couldn't disappoint that little round face and those big blue eyes. Their mother obviously wasn't the only one that had me hooked.
The girls kicked Meg out of room and I laughed. Then, Piper read a book about unicorns to me and Elle told me some stories that really made me laugh. It wasn’t until we were ready to turn the lights out that she started really talking.
“Ryan, do you love my mommy?” That was such a tough thing to explain to a little girl. Did she even know what love was?
“Is that why you made your Mom leave the room?” I smiled and she nodded.
“Well, it just so happens that I really like your mommy.” I told her, not knowing what to say.
“Will you marry her?” Elle asked.
“Well, I’m still getting to know her and you guys.”
“Is that why you're here? Like, ALL the time?” Elle asked in her overexuberance.
“Trust me, if I could, I would be," I laughed, "All day with your mom and you guys.”
“Then why don't you? You like each other.” Piper’s little brow furrowed.
“Well, sometimes it’s a little more complicated. There are still things we don’t know about each other and I have a job that makes me travel.”
“But you’re here every day." Elle gave me that duh look that kids got, "You aren’t traveling.”
“That’s because my friends and I just finished traveling.”
“Like a vacation?” Elle asked.
“No,” I shrugged, "For work."
"It doesn't sound like work if your friends are there."
"It's work, just fun work." I was still grinning as I explained my job to them, without saying too much, "I play music for people all over to listen to. My friends do it with me and we get sent places to meet new people and play our music for them. We even get paid to do it."
"Does it get scary?" Piper asked.
"It gets sad and lonely a lot," I felt my smile mildly fade as I thought about it, "Sometimes it even feels like I don't have a home."
“But you do, and it isn't here.” Arlee added quietly from the doorway. That kid was always popping up out of nowhere.
“You need a bell.” I pointed at her as I faked my glare.
“I just came to say goodnight to my sisters before I leave.” She shrugged and moved in, giving each one a hug then turning me and motioning for me to leave the room with her.
"Mom is waiting for you in the kitchen," She grinned, "I thought you might want an out."
She walked me to the kitchen, then kept moving as I stopped where Meg was cleaning up from dinner. Meg was right, that kid was constantly on the go. Right after school, she worked at the library for 2 hours, came home, had dinner and went right back out again. She wasn't a kid, she was a machine.
I pulled Megan to me for a goodbye kiss. She knew I had a band meeting tonight and I could tell she was sad to see me go, but it was work and she understood.
“Thank you for putting the girls to bed tonight.” She sighed, leaning her forehead against mine, “You honestly don’t have to.”
“I honestly would love to do it more often.” I sighed.
“I won’t stop you.” She smiled and it was so beautiful, “They love you.”
“Ahhh, but do you love me?” My question was tight, I truly wanted to know.
“Maybe a little.” She shrugged with a flirty little smile.
“Damn... You can’t say that before I leave!” I groaned.
“Because I want to take you upstairs and I can’t.” I kissed her again.
“I’m falling in love with you, Megan.” I whispered.
“I’m already there, Ryan.” She whispered, then bit her lip.
It was thirty-seven minutes, sixteen text messages and one death defying, heart attack inducing, blow job later, when I finally made my way over to Bree’s place.
When I sauntered into the in-house that night all eyes were on me and I was fucking grinning from ear to ear, like a moron.
“Finally!” Lou threw her hands in the air and stared at me.
“I’m here, quit bitching.” I snorted and went over to my keys.
“Your over and hour late!” Bree watched me take my seat.
“And? You’ve been DAYS late before.” I rolled my eyes, “I’m here to work. Not get bitched at.”
“Oh? Has Ryan here grown some balls?” Ree acted pleasantly surprised.
“Fuck off, Ree.” I gave her the finger.
“You been with that chick every night for over a month.” Mike commented.
“And what? You're late for our meetings and you're missing family functions to spend time with her now..." Bree grinned, "Why are you late tonight, Ryan?"
"I tucked Piper and Elle in, then hung out a bit with Meg."
"Shit," Mike shook his head, "He's in deep now. He didn't say what we all know."
"When a guy doesn't say that he fucked a chick, he's in love." Asher snorted from his seat on the studio couch.
"You're in love, little brother.” Bree teased.
“I am.” I tried to hide my smile, “She’s hot, she’s funny and she’s down to earth, and her kids are fucking awesome. What's not to love?”
“You tell her yet?” Mike asked.
“I told her tonight.”
“Not that you love her,” Reegan scoffed, “Did you tell her about us?”
“No.” I tried to busy myself with my keys.
“Ryan, you need to tell her before we have to go back to Cali to press the album.” Mike gave me a surprised look.
“I will.” I shrugged, “We’ve got time. We only have two tracks right now. Can we just set this one and leave it alone?”