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

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Thanks to Ryan and the other guys, all of the locks on my family’s home were changed and the door was replaced by noon.

“Mom, how grounded am I?” Arlee sat at the island and was spacing out.

“I don’t know, honey. Ryan and I just decided to take the most important thing to you away and that seemed to be your music practice.” That was all we had discussed.

“So I still have my car?” She asked.

“Are you okay, babe?”

“Yeah.” She sighed, “I was just thinking about going to our spot on the ocean for the rest of the day. I just need some space to think, maybe even work some sheet music.”

“We take the orchestra away, because your music is your favorite thing, and your trying to think of ways to around it?” I chuckled. This was my Arlee.

When I looked at her though, I realized that there was more to it than that. I followed her line of vision and saw what she was looking at, as the teens all stood and chitchatted.

"It's okay to want to hang out with the other kids, Arlee." I told her, "You are one yourself."

“I have plans," She messed with her hands, "Plans that don’t involve hanging out. Besides, they're nice, but I'm not like them.”

"What does that mean?" I was confused.

"I'm not one of the cool kids," She snorted and stood to walk out, "I'm gonna head out, if that's okay."

"Babes," I walked around the counter to take her hands in mine, "I want you to be kid. Talk to other kids. They are normal kids, and something tells me, if they are anything like their parents, they are our kind of people."

"Our kind?" She smiled up at me, "I thought we weren't into labeling the differences of people."

"Smooth." I began to laugh.

"I try." She shrugged, then her face grew worrisome, "Mom, I researched dad last night."

"What is it saying about us now?" I sighed. Heaven knew what my child had read.

"Not Ryan," She met my eyes, "Thomas."

"Oh." I gave a nod.

"I got curious about what he had been up to all this time," She shrugged.

"And what did you find out?" I asked.

"He's a Broadway director." She whispered, her eyes glossing over.

I searched her gaze and saw something I had never seen in my daughter's eyes before. Confusion. Pure and utter confusion. I had no idea what to say. I had never seen her like this before.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," She said tearfully, "I would just like to go, if that's okay."

"Okay, Babes," I pulled her forward, to give her a kiss on the forehead and she began to really cry, "I love you."

"I love you too." She grabbed her book bag and keys and headed out the door.

I watched as she walked past the kids who were laughing and hanging out, as she cried.

Noah chased after her, but she didn't stop.


“Okay, so they’ve found him in a hotel just four miles from here. He’s been served and that forfeited his rights to the house already.” Liv smiled brightly as she entered the house, clicking buttons on her cell, “The house is cleared. You just have to put it in your name on Monday morning. As far as the other issue, he is actively trying to fight the adoption."

"He's got a decent lawyer." She snorted, throwing her briefcase on my counter, "He has already contacted the courts and has requested visitation with his kids, but he’s neglected them, so I highly doubt it will work. Piper’s phycologist can confirm what his actions have caused, as can you, Arlee and all of us.”

She clapped her hands excitedly, “Easy-peasy.”

“I don’t want him mentally harming my kids anymore than he already has.” I gaped at her, "What if the judge approves visitation?"

“Just tell the courts to ask him Arlee’s phone number, Piper’s allergies or Elle’s favorite color. If he can’t answer the simple questions, he doesn’t know them.” She smiled over her paperwork, “According to two of my witnesses, he even thought Elle was Piper.”

“You logged that?” My brow furrowed.

“Of course I did,” She gave a nod, “He won’t get away with whatever it is he wants.”

"He isn't a bad person," I told her, "He just wasn't a good father. He stayed around to help financially support the kids when he saw that we were struggling, but then he found out about the money I had given to the kids and that was the final straw."

“What money?"

"My inheritance." I shrugged.

"How much money exactly?”

“Around 4.” I shrugged.

“Your parents left you $400,000...” She spoke thoughtfully as she began to write, “That would make sense. He may feel entitled to half.”

“No. They each had a policy my dad had a 3 million dollar life insurance and my mom had a 1.” I cleared my throat.

“Your a millionaire?”

“Well no.” I shook my head, “I put the money in CD accounts for the girls. No one can touch it until they become adults."

"What are you saying? How much money are we talking here, Meg?" She gaped at me.

"Well, they each had 1.3 when I put it in there, except Arlee. She got 1.4. They are the millionaires. Not me.”

“How much will they have when they come of age?”

“Elle will have 1.82, Piper 1.79 and Arlee's will be around 1.68.” I smiled, "I tried to even it out as much as I could, "How was this relevant?”

“And you-” She fumbled with her words, “You never mentioned this to Ryan?”

“It’s not my money.” I shrugged, “I gave it to my kids. That's why Thomas freaked out. He thought I should be using the money to give them a better life, but I had a great life and I never knew my parents had money.”

“Fuck!” She hissed, “That’s exactly why he’s back. Those girls are his meal ticket!”

“I don't think that's it. He knows that he can’t touch that money.” I told her, “It’s theirs. They can’t even touch it.”

“When you did this, how old were you?”

“It was...” I had to think for a second, “I don't know, maybe when Elle was a few months old. Thomas didn't even know what my bank account looked like, until her found the CDs."

“And how long was it before he left?” She looked at me pointedly.

"Immediately," Then I saw her thinking on the matter, "Like, the next day."

“We’ve got him!” Liv jumped with glee, “We’ve fucking got his ass. He was only there because he felt he needed to financially support you, and when he found out he didn't, he abandoned his family.”

“I’ve gotta get on this and file a motion.” She went on, “We should also put a restraining order against him. Not within 100 yards of the girls. We should switch schools immediately, not wait until next year, and get them bodyguards. I’ll get everything worked out and Piper will get the extra help she needs, so there will be very little upset.”

“Isn’t that overkill?” I asked her.

“Not when we’re playing with money.” She held her phone to her ear, “Judge Miles, it’s Liv, Rep for Black Heart and Fallen Angles. You owe me a favor and I’m cashing in.”

She walked off as Ryan walked in.

“What’s up, beautiful.”

“He was on Broadway the whole time.” I told Ryan, “The girls’ father. He abandoned them because he knew we were off and didn't even care enough to check in.”

“How do you figure that?” He reached into the fridge and pulled out a beer..

“My parents left me money that he didn't know about until I split the money between the girls," I whispered through my shock, "I put it it into CDs for each of them and he found the paperwork and left the next day.”

“Well, he’s a douche.” He opened the the beer and began to swig it, “We knew that.”

“Ryan, do you think I was stupid to divide the money between my girls?”

“No," He pointed around his beer and smiled, "You did it because you’re a loving, caring mom and want your daughters to have a good start into their adulthood.”

“Even if it gives each of the girls a little over 1.5 when they turn 18?”

He spit his beer out in a splattering mess all over the countertop.

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