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

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22

Meg

Now that everything was getting out there and we were getting press, we were under the radar. Which wasn’t good if I was noticing.

They were calling us the newest members of the exclusive club that was the McGhee’s world.

The kids were able to fly under the radar, but it was me who I noticed was getting the brunt end of that sword.

Apparently, since I worked in the bar that Bree had owned and was now an artist who “hit it lucky.” I was the talk of the town.

“It isn’t as bad as you think.” Bree sat across from me at my kitchen island. We hadn’t fully finished moving yet, although it had been nearly a month. We wanted Piper to adjust slowly. There had been a lot of new changes in her life and Ryan was the one who noticed some of her setbacks first.

She hadn’t needed the backpack, as long as he was with her, but she had become more standoffish. Especially at school.

“Just ignore most of their crap and focus on Ryan and the girls.” She smiled softly, looking around my kitchen, “I really think I should surprise Ash and just paint my kitchen. I do love this color.”

I laughed, Bree commented on it three times in the past 2 weeks. Which didn’t mark the other few times she’d been over or we’d gone to their house.

These people were interesting. They did appear normal in all their actions and seemed genuine when they spoke to you.

They loved to spend time together and appeared really tight knit.

They were all a little different, but somehow they came together and made it work.

“Hey, babe.” Ryan strode in with a smile and a nod at Bree, “Hey, Bree.”

“Hey, where’re the guys?” Bree asked, glaring out the door.

“They’re in the garage.” Ryan smiled, “Trying to move stuff without breaking it.”

They’d been in there for hours trying to “clear out” my studio.

In the heated garage... Asher, Mike, Ryan, Chris and Kade... And Elle was playing with her barbies, while Piper was reading in her room... And Arlee was In her room with Ian and Noah- Asher and Chris’s sons who looked as much like twins as the men. They were in the heated garage with no kids...

“You know that weed smoke kills my paint, right?” I teased, but kept my features serious, “Dries it up and makes it worthless.”

His face fell and I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I began to laugh so hard I snorted.

“Seriously.” He gaped at me, “You fucking scared the crap out if me!”

“I’m totally kidding.” I laughed, “I smoke as I paint, you KNOW that!”

“Damn, I’m too high to put two and two together, babe. Don’t fuck with me.” He pulled a hands down his face as I laughed at him.

“I’ll order you guys something. You want pizza? Chinese? Burgers?”

“I’ll do it.” He shrugged, “I’ll get 'em pizza or something on the way to the new place. Do the kids want anything? I can get something special for Piper.”

“I’ll worry about Piper, babe.” I gave him a kiss.

He called it the new place, because we were sick of calling our places “my house” and “your house”. It was now officially “the new place” and “the old place”.

“We staying there tonight?” I smiled. I liked his bed. It was softer than mine and larger. Plus, I loved that grand piano.

“Yeah, if you and the girls want to.” He lit up.

“Piper likes it there more than here now and it’ll give me time to unpack my studio.”

“Cool, I’ll tell the guys to sober up and we’ll be out after we actually pack shit up.”

We were down to just a few main things and this was essentially it. I had washed all of the blankets and sheets today and remade the beds. The dressers were empty and wanted books, toys and instruments were over at the new place.

The furniture and bedding, along with towels, linnens and dishware would stay, but my studio was the last big haul. We were ready.

I wasn’t sad, because I would literally be 30 minutes up the road and I was in NO way selling my family home, but I smiled lovingly at my house.

I was moving on with my past and on with a loving, kind man. One who didn’t take us for granted, who loved my kids and loved me.

***
Ryan

Unpack my ass. I thought, as I watched her play the piano. It was beautiful.

“I wanted to talk to you about something.” She bit her lip, but continued to play.

“Yeah?” I could tell she was nervous, so I sat on the bench next to her.

“How do you feel about the girls?” She continued playing, what was she getting at? She knew I loved the girls. We’d been together nearly every day for a year.

“I love them. You know that.” I nudged her, trying to get her to look at me, but she didn’t.

“Enough to adopt them?” She paused to look at me.

I had never even thought of it as an option. I had just assumed that they’d be ours once we were married, but this was a legit question.

“I only ask because I can keep Mark as my Power of Attorney or switch it to you, unless you want to adopt them. You’re with the girls every day and I see how much you care for them, but it’s okay if you don’t want either.” She was backtracking, “I fully understand, it’s a huge commitment. Arlee and I discussed it too and she can choose to be in or out of it. I just don’t want their father involved.”

I stopped her rambling with a kiss. She was my world. These kids, her kids, she wanted to become ours.

“I’ll do it.” I let out the breath I had been holding since she’d asked me.

“You’ll-? You will?” She seemed to let out the same breath.

“Of course.” I shrugged, “Why wouldn’t I? We’ll do it all together. In it together. Don’t ever doubt that.”

“I have the paperwork.” She bit her lip again, “I haven’t filled anything out yet. I haven’t even looked at it. I just collected it all.”

I chuckled, “Thought everything through?”

“Not everything. I had to factor in some stuff, look into my options, that sort of thing.” She shrugged, “Did you know that Arlee is old enough to decide what she wants?”

“That’s too young to make that kind of decision.” I gaped.

“I know.” She shook her head.

“I really want to be their dad, Meg.” I smiled at her, “Not just a step parent, and I assumed that by marrying you I would be, but it wouldn’t be legal and if we want it binding, then we have to.”

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