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

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4 days later...

“Piper! This is not a fashion show! I can’t be late!” I ran a hand through my hair, “You won’t be able to go to Uncle Davis’s if you don’t hurry!”

“But I have to go! Uncle Davis said we could paint today!” She cried out, almost tripping over her shoes.

“Let’s go then. Elle is already in the car.” I tried to sound excited.

“Are you getting it fixed?”

“Yes. Today. Which is why I can’t be late." I gave her a quick kiss and a little push toward the door. "I have to drop off my car at the dealership and pick up my rental car.”

That was one thing. The guy had excellent insurance. They paid for my rental car, even though I told them I didn’t need one. I honestly didn’t mind bussing it for two days.

“Will it be like our car?”

“I don’t know, baby. I have to wait until I pick it up.” I sighed.

“I like our car.” She was scared. I could tell. With her, I could always tell.

I stopped and bent down, to look her in the eyes and make sure she understood me, “Our car is not going away. It’s just getting fixed. They are giving Mommy a car for 2 days, because they need to match the paint and make the new part look all nice and shiny.”

“Why can’t you paint it? You paint really good.”

“Because, my love, Mommy’s kind of painting is different from their’s.”

“Can we ride in the rental car?”

“Yes, baby.” I smiled, “But we need to go, or mommy will be late and they’ll give it to someone else.”

“Okay, Mommy. I’m ready.” She stood, pulling on her backpack, “Is Arlee coming?”

Would there ever be a day that this child could go anywhere without a backpack? She carried everything in that bag, “incase something happens.” She had her favorite books, a snack, extra clothes, underwear and shoes. My poor baby.

“No, baby. She’s going to work today.” A summer job at the library. One thing I loved about my two oldest daughters. They were readers.

“Oh.” Her face saddened, it reminded me of my father’s face. The female version that I wore. “It’s okay though. I still get to paint with Uncle Davis today."

"Do you think Arlee will play with me tonight?” She asked as I helped her buckle into her booster seat.

“I think if we ask her she might. Maybe she’ll even read your book with you before bed." I gave her another kiss before giving Elle a thumbs up.

"We good back here?" I asked.

"Yeah, Mom." She gave a nod and looked out her window.

I swear, she was too young to be that old.

"That would be awesome!" Piper whispered excitedly.

"Don't forget to enjoy your one on two time with Uncle Davis and Elle today though.” I smiled down at her, “So let’s focus on that for now, okay?”

“Mom?” She asked as I climbed in behind the wheel.

“Yes, baby?” I turned to smile at her.

“I love you.” She smiled at me.

“I love you too, babes.” I winked at her.


“Mr Ford, your rental is almost ready. You can have a seat and we’ll bring it around.” The guy behind the counter told me and I gave a nod, moving to take a seat.

That was when I saw her. Although, she looked a lot different than when we first met.

She had a tiny tee on this time, with jeans that were ripped and warn on places to reveal some ink underneath and some scruffy looking, canvas sneakers.

She looked too young to have a teenager. Early 30′s maybe? Hell, for all I knew, the kid looked older than her.

She didn’t notice me, but walked to the counter and smiled at the gentleman who asked if he could help her.

Her voice was soft and sweet as she gave him her information. When he told her the same thing I had just heard she turned to find a seat.

Then she spotted me.

“Good to see a familiar face.” I gave a smile.

She snorted, “Familiar, but not friendly.”

“Ouch.” I acted wounded by her words.

“Well, you did hit my car, then you had the balls to yell at me.” A slight smile touched her lips and it showed a set of beautifully white teeth.

She was beautiful.

“Sorry. I was pissed about my car.” I sighed. I needed a smoke, but I didn’t want to leave as she sat in a nearby chair.

“Understandable.” She looked a little tired as she sighed and gave a nod, her eyes searching the near empty room.

It was a large waiting room with only a few others waiting for their repairs or rentals.

“Your kids okay?” I asked, “You know, from the bender?”

“Are you asking if I’m going to go all overboard and add hospital bills to my claim?” She cocked a brow at me.

“No. I was just curious.” I leaned my elbows on my legs, just to close some distance between us. She was pretty and smelled like lavendar soap.

“They’re fine.” She spoke with a tight lip.

“One of them waved to me as we drove off. It was adorable.” I huffed with a smile.

She looked at me for a moment, scrutinizing me. Then she smiled sadly, “That’s my Piper. She’s got an amazing heart. She wanted to make sure you were okay. She even asked me to call you and make sure.”

"You didn’t call though.” I gave her a pointed look but couldn’t hold my smile back, “I could have been in a coma or something.”

“Please, it was a fender bender, not a serious collision.” She rolled her eyes.

“Did you see my car?” I gave her wide eyes and tried to cover my grin.

“That’s what you get for driving a tiny little sports car.” She shrugged, "They move fast for a reason. There's no structure to them. Just a tin can on wheels."

Did she have no idea what kind of car it was? Or how expensive it was going to be to repair?

“Mr. Ford,” the man at the counter called me up, “Your car is ready.”

“Thanks.” I gave a nod and went to the counter. I listened to what he said about the rental and took the keys, then we proceeded outside to check it out as the insurance agent hit on me.

Within a few minutes Megan was a few cars down, looking at her’s. It was a newer version of her Rav4 and had a lot of upgrades. I had done some research on her and requested it for her. Thought her kids might enjoy the perks.

I could hear her talking to the guy about the upgrades, “I didn’t ask for this.”

“It’s in the rental.” The guy told her what I'd told him to say, “Mr Ford has a good policy.”

“Why? Does he hit a lot of cars at stop signs?” She scoffed, “Okay, fine, but if the electronics break it is not my fault.”

When he left her to it, she stood there, staring at the car and the key fob in surprize. She looked even cuter when she was confused.

“Everything okay?” I called over.

“Yeah.” She was examining the fob, “I’m just not good with electronics. My teen will help me figure this all out. I hope.”

I gave a little laugh and walked over to help her.

“So the basics... The key fob can stay in your purse," I looked for a purse, but she didn't have one. Just a wallet and a really old looking cellphone.

"Or a pocket," I smiled, "As long as it’s in the car or on you, it doesn’t matter.”

“What if I lock it in the car?”

“It won’t let you.” I took the fob from her, put it on the driver’s seat, closed the door and attempted to lock it. The car began to beep.

“Cool.” She smiled brightly. Her teeth were so white and clean it brightened her whole face.

“Okay. Got it.” She gave a nod and went serious, “Now, how do I plug in my phone?”

“Plug in your-?” I looked at her phone again. The thing was a dinosaur, "Can you get Bluetooth on that old bastard?"

“It's a classic." She smiled shyly.

"Let me your car?" I asked with a nod, finally understanding. She bought for her kids, before herself.

"Arlee, my teen. She hooks it up to a Bluetooth speaker, but I don't know how."

“Well, your rental car has a Bluetooth and you connect your phone to the built in computer.” Her brow furrowed and I huffed, “Start the car again and I’ll show you.”

She climbed into the driver’s side while I climbed into the passenger side to help her. The insurance agent had shown her how to adjust the seat, so that much was done at least.

“Give me T-Rex.” I chuckled.

She shrugged and handed it to me with a grin. She actually seemed excited to try this.

“So, Megan, what do you do for a living?” I asked as I clicked a few buttons on her phone. I was genuinely curious, as I set up the screen in the car to accept her bluetooth.

“I’m a painter and sometimes fill in at my father's orchestra house.” She shrugged, as I handed her the phone back.

“That explains the tattered clothes the other day.” I smiled and met her sky blue eyes.

“We were hiking, I wasn’t aware that I was going to have my fasion critiqued.” She smiled.

The screen showed that it was connected and she continued her smile, “Cool. Thanks!”

“No problem.” I sighed, “What kind of music do have on there?”

“Mostly rock, some really old country, some metal.” She blushed, “I like the harder stuff, but not the screamo.”

“Do you like Fallen Angels?” I asked, watching her expression, waiting for the resignation to click, but it didn’t.

“Oh, I think that’s on my favorite playlist!" She smiled thymbing through her phone. "The last album, that they did for that big tour, had a ton of good tracks. The lead singer is phenomenal!”

“Do you watch their videos?” I asked curiously.

“No,” Her blush was creeping higher, "I just download the songs I like onto my Amazon and listen to them. Each song has a vibe and my mood is dependent on what I’m painting. If I saw what the artists were doing in the video, I would be too busy thinking about that, rather than the emotions behind my paintings.”

Wow! This chick was deep. I could totally feel where she was coming from.

“Hey, I’ve got time, you wanna go get lunch or something?”

Her face kind of twisted as she pretended to examine the gadgets in the car.

“I-uhm... Can’t.” She spoke softly, “One of my kids has a Dr’s appointment this afternoon and I have stuff to do beforehand.”

“How about dinner sometime?” I asked.

“Look, uhm...” She stared at her steering wheel, “If this is a date thing? I don’t date... I’m too busy, I have three kids to take of, then there's my work...”

“What about their dad? Surely he gets weekends or something.”

“That situation is a little complicated...” Her voice was quiet and soft.

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