Integral Instruments - With prelude to Justified Voices (Book 7)

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12

Ryan

I loved her. I truly loved everything about her, including her kids.

I spent the night at her place every night, but tonight was different. Instead of having me stay after dinner, she had been asked to cover a shift at Roxy's, her old haunt, and I was left moping in Mike’s basement bar while Arlee updated me, since she was babysitting.

I kept checking my phone because I told Meg to call me when she was ready to head home and I’d pick her up. Arlee was right. It was time to tell her, and I needed to do it before we left.

“What the hell is your damage?” Asher asked, looking over my shoulder as I checked my phone for the hundredth time.

No messages.

“She’s pissed at me and she’s working at Roxy's tonight.” I shrugged and tossed my phone across the table, “Told her to text me when she was ready to head home.”

“What is she pissed about?” Lou asked pointedly.

“I told her about us heading to do the press for the album and she’s becoming standoffish." I sighed, "She's got trust issues.”

“Like, she thinks you’ll cheat on her?” Bree asked.

“No. Like, she thinks I won’t come home.”

“So, pick up your damn phone and call her. Tell her you’ll chill with her at the bar. Force her to spend time with your ass before you leave. If all else fails, knock her up.” Chris shrugged as his wife, Nikki, smacked him.

I shook my head, “You're sick, dude.”

“Trust me, with that bank account, she won’t care she's got another one on the way.” Chris joked.

“She still doesn’t know who I am.” I let out the air I had been holding in.

“You STILL haven’t told her?!” Bree screeched, “This is the same chick from months ago?! Ryan! Are you stupid?!”

“She’s a single mom, Bree! Without cable and does everything through Amazon! She listens to music and downloads the bands and tunes she likes!” I rubbed the back of my neck, “Arlee's already on my ass about it!”

“And you haven’t told her, because?!” Bree’s gray eyes bore into mine.

“’Cause he’s a dipshit.” Mike’s voice sounded from the pool table and I turned to glare at him.

“Thanks, Mike.”

“Welcome.” He gave a nod and saluted his beer at me.

“How stupid are you, Ryan?” Reegan was dead serious as she met my eyes, "Seriously?! All this time, we thought she just didn't want anything to do with us! You're such a dick!"

“They've been together since fucking August too.” Mike shook his head.

“Shut up, Mike!” I shouted and he gave me same response as before.

My phone chimed with an Instagram update. It was from Roxy's page. She had just been tagged in a photo. I opened the app and there was a picture of her serving drinks behind the bar.

The caption read: “My sunshine has returned to Roxy’s Tavern! Welcome back, Meg! Remember, sweetie! You get 1 bailout from the boss man! He still loves you! Come and visit our girl tonight and let’s have some fun! #timetogetwasted #Roxys #missedthisgirl #megmixesthebest"

One bail out? What the fuck did that mean?

“She’s at my old bar...” Bree grinned from ear to ear, “We're meeting her tonight.”

“No!” I shouted, “She doesn’t know about you guys, remember?”

I stood and left them there as Jason called after me, “Hey! That’s not fair! We like Roxy’s!”

If the rest of the Angels showed, followed by Black Heart, it would bring press and that would be bad. Very bad. It would be a crash course into my life for Megan and she wasn’t ready for that.


Megan

Arlee had the little ones and I was slinging beers for the locals tonight. It was nice not to have to think about things with Ryan. I mean, what would I tell the girls, if he didn't come back?

Ryan... I had fallen for him. Head over heals. I looked forward to seeing him and was still a little depressed that I was working and not with him, especially before he left...

I was laughing and joking at the bar with the patrons, as I mixed their drinks when Julie, the other bartender, shouted over the music, “Ryan! Welcome back, you shady bastard!” Then she began to cheer and the bar joined in.

When I turned to see what the commotion was about I saw Ryan... My Ryan... Talking and joking with Davis.

He must come here a lot for Julie to recognize him.

“O.M.G!” Sheila, the other bartender, hissed in my ear, “Meg! Do you know that is?!”

“Yeah.” I smiled as he sauntered in our direction, “His name is Ryan.”

“THAT’S Ryan Ford. One of the guitarists from Fallen Angels, and he’s coming this way!” She fluffed her hair, “God, he’s hot. Maybe I can bag him tonight.”

I had to admit to the spike of jealousy that hit me when she said that, but what got me more was what she had also said...

Fallen Angels? Fallen Angels?! The band I listened to?! The one on the top of the charts next to Death Mark and Black Heart?! The one I sang to in the car, when Ryan was with me?! Oh god! I was such an idiot!

And all I could do was stare in shock as he made his way through the crowd and came toward the bar. Toward me.

He walked right past the sexy, very available, Sheila and came around the bar. He stood so close to me that I had to crane my neck to look at him.

“Hey, Beautiful. Fancy meeting you here.” He smiled at me and I stared in shock. It was all I could do.

“Uhmm...” I cleared my throat, looking at the girls, who were gaping at me in shock. Sheila’s eyes were the widest.

“Uhm, H-hi, Ryan.”

The ladies all waved and Sheila stuck her boobs out, but he just turned and gave a nod.

“Hey," He told them, turning back to me with a grin that would have been sweet before, but now seemed devious, "I’m the boyfriend. I saw a post from the bar on Instagram, thought I’d come and keep your ass out of jail.”

His eyebrows rose at me in playful question. How many other woman had he used this suave approach with?

“I didn't know you knew Davis.” I began to nod my head and couldn't stop, " Or Roxy's, but now it makes sense."

God, I was so stupid! The things I had told him, letting him be around my girls... The whole bit. I just thought he was a normal guy in a normal band, not a chart topping, world renowned band. He was a billionaire or something. He could have anyone.

Julie slid him a drink, saying it was on the house. Of course it was on the house. The former owner, his lead singer who used to own the bar, had made the rule that bands got free drinks. He accepted it with a nod then turned back to me, his smile fading.

“You know, I take it.” He spoke dryly, now glancing around over my head.

“Yeah.” I huffed, nodding again.

“When did you find out?” He asked dryly, staring into his glass.

“Just now, actually. Sheila told me.” I was looking anywhere but at him.

“I was going to tell you tonight." He whispered.

God, I was so stupid! I couldn’t breathe. It was so crowded in here and it felt like everyone was staring at us as we whispered.

“Excuse me, I have to use the rest room.” I put the drink I was mixing down on the bar and turned to walk away, but his arm shot out and encased me to the bar.

“This doesn’t change anything.” His hazel eyes bore into me. “I love you, Meg. Nothing will change that.” He seemed so serious, more serious than I had ever seen him.

Then it hit me again, I didn’t know this man. Sure, I knew he had a mom and dad, who he loved and a brother he called every day, but I didn’t know much about him otherwise.

“I really need to use the bathroom.” Was all I could say.

He gave me a disbelieving look, but his arm fell and I looked to my gaping friends before running to hide in the stalls.

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