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

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I drove behind them for a few miles, thinking about the woman with the feisty attitude. She was obviously she was trying to keep it cool for her kids, letting them know that she controlled the situation.

Her name was Megan O'Brien, based on what her driver's licence said, and she was tough.

From what I could tell, she was definitely a rocker chick, but she had messy hair with paint in it and she wore rolled down overalls. Who still did that shit?

What got me was, how could she not know who I was? My band was a top 10 and we had just completed one of our largest tours 3 months ago.

When she first stepped out of that I car I thought she had caused me to hit her on purpose. I mean, she looked young, and the distance that fans went through to get my attention was ridiculous, but that wasn’t the case at all. She had kids and hadn't even recognized me.

It was actually refreshing that she had an attitude with me. She didn’t even look twice at my sports cars. Aide from taking a few pictures of the damage with her phone. She was all business and no nonsense.

Damn, she was cute. Those kids were cute too, but I couldn't mess with a chick who had kids.

The one she kept calling "Baby" looked exactly like her. A thin, little brunette, with a round face and blue eyes.

The older one looked taller than her mother, with blonde hair and brown eyes. She appeared thinner in stature than her mother as well, while the little one like a mini version of the older one, but with blue eyes.

I smiled, despite the fact that my Aston Martin was wrecked. Wonder if they had the same dad... The oldest and youngest looked so similar that it had to be the case. Unless she just liked guys of a certain breed.

As I began to wonder if I was her type hard rock blared from her car and I could hear them singing as we stopped at the next stop sign.

Damn Ash and Bree, for living in the fucking boondocks.

I turned, watching her car go straight and the one she called "Baby" stuck her little hand out and waved bye to me. I couldn’t help but stick my arm out to wave back. Whether she saw it out not, I didn't know.

When I finally made it to Asher and Bree’s I let myself through the gate and made my way into the house.

“You're late, bitch.” Reegan’s electric green eyes glared at me.

“Not like it matters, but I wrecked my car trying to get my ass here on time.” I complained, “Where is everyone?”

“We’re hanging out in the back. It is a barbecue.” She gave me a once over, “You okay?”

Ree was tough, but had a soft heart, like all the other chicks I knew.

She was the A guitarist in our band and if anyone knew how to rock out it was her.

“Yeah. I’m just glad I wasn’t on my bike.” I cringed at the thought. I’d never wrecked my bike. Thank God. That could be deadly even if it was a simple fender bender.

“What did you hit?” Her dark eyebrows shot up.

“An old Rav4.” I huffed.

“Ouch...” She chuckled, “What color was it?" I could tell she wasn't buying it.

"Red," I gaped at her, "Go look at my fucking car."

"How could you not see a red Rav4?” She glared, "It's red, and it's not small."

“You gonna lead me to the weed or what?” I chuckled.

“Or what. Was it a dark red, or a bright red?” She mused, leading me out onto the patio.

“Shut up.” I rolled my eyes.

“Hey, is it possible that someone listens to our music and wouldn’t know us if they saw us?” I followed.

“If they’re living in a hole.” She laughed, “Weed’s in the far back. Just stay away from Declan with it. She’s pregnant again.”

I gaped, “Oh shit! Really?”

That didn’t take long. They’d just finished touring.

We all had placed bets about how long it would take, but apparently not long enough. Looks like I’d lost this bet. I had 4 months.

“Yes,” She nodded, “Looks like Bree and Ash won this one.”

“Isn’t Alex only like, 1?” I asked.

“He’s almost one.” Declan came up to me, giving me a hug. Her short, black hair was pulled back in the normal “morning sickness” position as she came in for a hug, “Hey, Uncle Ryan.”

“Don’t make me feel old, kid. I’m only slightly older than you.” I smiled at the tiny rocker chick with deep blue eyes.

“Tell me, does it hurt to be over the hill?” She teased.

I didn’t need that confirmation of my age. I knew how old I was.

“Why is everyone on me tonight?” I narrowed my gaze.

“He hit a red Rav4 on his way here.” Reegan leaned in to tell her and she gave a slow nod, her black brows furrowing.

“Was it a bright red or a dark red?” Declan scrutinized me.

“God, kill me.” I ran a hand through my hair, looking for an out as the women laughed.

“I asked the same thing!” Regan snorted.

“Great... Just great...” I sighed.

“Hey, man.” Kade, Declan’s husband, came up to greet me, baby Alex in hand.

“Kade, still in one piece I see.” I joked but when Ash, Declan’s father, had found out about Declan’s first pregnancy he went into full blown shitfit mode and kicked the shit out of Kade. It landed the kid in the hospital for nearly a week, but sent us on a tour that was epic.

Kade was the lead vocalist of the current number one selling album and little Declan, my niece, was his guitarist. She’d learned from Reegan, so to say she was good, was understatement.

“It’s all good this time, bro.” He chuckled and turned to his wife, raising his blonde eyebrows, “We have an issue and it’s your turn.”

He went to hand Declan the baby and she put her hand up to stop him.

“Nope. I’m building another human that YOU planted in here, you have fun changing him, Daddy.” She reached around and patted him on the back.

The look on his face was priceless. He looked clueless as he gaped at her. Hell, he’d knocked her up again. He couldn’t argue.

“Dammit!” He cringed. I was laughing when he looked at me through narrowed eyes, “You wait, man... Just wait..."

“I doubt that.” I called after him as he went into the house, stinky, sticky baby in hand.

“Ryan!” Bree called out from her seat, between Asher and their son Noah, at the picnic table, “You made it!”

She looked so tiny seated between the two tall, thin guys. And I laughed.

The chorus of welcomes started after that and I thrown into the throngs of my friends that had become a bonus family to me over the years.

I was the only one who still lived out of state. I had a house here, but only used it as getaway. I had no reason to, other than when we were about to start a new album.

It was good being with them all and i genuinely cared for each of them, but sometimes I needed to get away. I needed to enjoy my simpler things.

Today's gathering consisted of the last two bands we had toured with and our own. We were all intertwined, which made these gatherings very interesting when music was thrown in.

Bree, our vocalist, was married to Asher, the vocalist of Black Heart, while their daughter, Declan, was married to the lead singer of Death Mark and played a mean guitar for the band.

Reegan was married to Asher’s twin brother, Asher’s bass player. While Lou, our drummer, was married to their guitarist. So on and so forth... They all had kids or in the least, significant others. Every one of them. And I was just an outcast.

I was the only single guy here. Aside from the keys of Death Mark. Apparently, if you played the keys and backup guitar you were destined to be single.

So here I sat, on the outer edge of the yard, with Brady, smoking weed and having a beer in peace.

“These get togethers are getting even more crazy.” He leaned back in his chair, enjoying the summer sun and cool breeze.

“You’re telling me.” I huffed, “I was with Ree, Lou and Mike in the beginning, when there was just 5 of us, not 25.”

“31... There are 31 now... I counted. 5 in each band, that’s 15. Then there’s Liv [our manager] and Abby and ALL the kids. It was quieter when it was just us too."

“So, is the band on hold for this kid too or what?” I asked curiously.

“No, definitely not.” He chuckled, shaking his head, “You know Declan. Head strong and stubborn, like her old man. Ain’t no rest for the wicked. As long as she doesn’t get sick like the first time, Kade will let her carry on. Are you guys working on anything?”

The first time Declan was pregnant she lost so much weight that Bree was worried about her. Hell, everyone was. She didn’t tell us she was pregnant and we all thought she had a drug problem.

“It’s why I’m here. I think Bree is playing on Asher’s steps though and this’ll be it, but even if we didn’t I could live off what we’ve made the rest of my life.”

“I know what you mean.” He nodded, “The last tour was an eye opener for me. That fanbase was fucking amazing. It gets larger every time.”

“You make a good penny?”

“A shitload. I always wondered how Black Heart and you guys lived so high end and after this last tour I understand.”

“Go big or go home.” I smiled, “You get anything nice yet? A new house, car or anything?”

“I already have a nice place for myself. I love my penthouse, it’s got high security and everything. This time I bought a place for my mom.” He shrugged, “I wanted to do it when we first started to hit the charts, before all of this, but she wouldn’t let me. She said it was too much. This time I just went out and picked something I thought she would like.” He smiled, “The look on her face when I told her it was her’s was priceless.”

“That was nice.” It was what I had done for my parents. Any kid who was raised right would do the same.

“I just wish she’d let me do more for her.” He shook his head.

“She was a single mom?”

“For a while, yeah. I had a stepdad. Thomas. She married him when I was around 12. He was great. Never treated me any different from his own kid, he even supported my career choice and fought with my mom about it. He really was like a dad and helped her a lot. He just died a few years back and she hasn’t been the same.”

Megan popped into my head again. And that little hand waving at me...

What had happened with those girls dad? Or dads?

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