The next morning at breakfast, we were greeted with smiles, from everyone except Liv as she attacked us at our dining table with the girls.
“Arlee said you were in your room last night?” She cocked a red brow at me.
“You could say that.” Ryan chuckled and gave me a kiss.
“You know, if you guys can’t stick to the schedule, how am supposed to expect everyone else to?” She pointed a perfectly manicured finger at us.
“You, of all people, should know that schedules are more of suggestion.” Ryan smiled with a shrug.
“Fine,” She huffed looking around the dining room, “Where’s Arlee? Her and her friends are supposed to meet us here this morning.”
“We gave her the day off.” I sucked in my lips too hide my smile at her irritation.
“It was part of the deal last night.” Ryan wagged his brows.
“She was supposed to spend the day with her sisters and the McGhee’s today,” Liv sighed with exhaustion, “It was supposed to help Piper transition into being without you for 2 weeks.”
“Shit.” I bit my lip, “I’m sorry. Ryan wanted to be alone and Arlee brought it up so we jumped on it.”
“I give up.” Luv threw her hands in the air and walked away.
“Your in trouble!” Elle gaped at us.
“Big time!” Piper shook her head, “She’s scarier about schedules that Aunt Bree.”
“Do you think Arlee did that on purpose?” Ryan asked curiously.
“To be honest, I think there’s one McGhee she’s trying to avoid.” I glanced at the boy who was looking around the dining hall as though he was searching for someone.
Ryan’s gaze followed mine and he gave an understanding nod.
“You want me to beat his ass?” He cocked a brow at me.
“Daddy!” Piper’s jaw dropped.
“I’m sorry,” He gave her a loving smile, “I was just joking, baby.”
“Not funny.” I gave him a light slap on the chest and he chuckled, “I just don’t know what to do. Boys are a whole new territory with Arlee.”
“You want me to bring it up to Bree?” He asked.
“No,” I shook my head, “I don’t want to cause any issues. I have no idea what’s going on. It sounds like she likes that boy and that boy likes her, but he did something that hurt her feelings and she won’t forgive him.”
“Whoa.” He gaped at me, “Maybe I shouldn’t have smoked before you brought that up. I have no idea what you just said.”
I laughed, “They like each other, but he did something stupid.”
“Ahhh,” Ryan nodded, “What did he do?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged, “Arlee didn’t want to tell me and I wasn’t going to press it.”
“You want me to talk to her? Maybe she’ll tell me?” Ryan shrugged.
“You know that she gets skittish when we pry.” I tsked. “She always thinks she’s doing something wrong.”
“Meg, I’ve been thinking about this for a few months and don’t take offence to it, okay?” Ryan eyed me and I leaned forward, “Do you think she has anxiety too?”
“I never thought about it.” I shrugged, trying to think of everything my daughter does, “She doesn’t fit the mold.”
“I may have found something out a few weeks ago and since then she’s been... I don’t know... A little happier, but at the same time, I may have confused her.”
“What did you find?” I asked. What was my daughter doing?
“It’s nothing bad.” He shook his head, “I’ll show you after breakfast. It’s hard to explain.”
“Okay.” My breath hitched and my hunger was gone.
I was nervous to show Meg the recording, but she needed to know. Arlee was her daughter.
She seemed nervous, no matter how I reassured her that it wasn’t bad.
I brought her into our room and set her up at the table as I explained.
“So, a few weeks ago Bree had me looking for something on my computer in the studio, but I found this recording and it didn’t seem familiar to me, so I watched it.”
I began to play it and fast forwarded to the part where Arlee sang the song.
“That’s Arlee.” She whispered at the screen, her eyes filling with tears, “My baby.”
“She can sing.” I told my future wife.
“She’s amazing.” She gasped, not looking away from the screen.
“I know, but that’s not all.” I fast forwarded to the part where she played her violin piece and Declan sang.
“Was this Declan’s song and her violin?” She shook her head as if she wasn’t understanding.
“No,” I shook my head, “This is all Arlee. Your Arlee.”
“She’s amazing.” She finally looked up at me, her blue eyes wide and full of sorrow, “Why didn’t she tell me?”
“I think that has to do with some form of anxiety.” I told her, “She’s afraid to step out of the box and do something out of her normal routine.”
“Ryan,” She stared into my eyes, as if begging me to help her understand, “Did you talk to her about this? Should I?”
“Yes, I talked to her about it. We’ve been messing around with dubstep and some other stuff she’s worked on.”
“This is... She wrote this?” She glanced at the screen, the song was about starting over and reaching a new branch of life.
“Yes. With 3 others.” I told her, “When I asked her if this was what was in her heart she said yes.”
“She shouldn’t be going to Julliard, Ryan. She should be doing this.” I could see the goosebumps on my fiance’s skin.
“I think Julliard is her safety net.” I explained, “Violin comes easy to her, it’s in her blood, but this? This is in her heart and I think the change scares her.”
“What do we do?”
“I’ve been trying to convince her to make THIS her Julliard piece and if they accept it, it’s meant to be, if not then she’s destined for better things.”
“I would have told her the same.” She said almost mechanically, “I don’t know what to do with this, Ryan.”
“She could do anything. Between her voice, her violin and her lyrics, this girl is phenomenal. She could be on Broadway, or in Vegas or she could follow Bree’s route and do the band thing.”
“I know nothing about musical arts, Ryan. That was her father’s business. I just play piano and paint.” She told me, “I can’t help her with this... It’s killing me. I don’t know what to say or do to help her.”
“He works on Broadway.” She rolled her eyes, “He’s the performer. It’s why we connected when we were kids.”
I stiffened. I knew this talent had to come from somewhere, but her father? The man who abandoned her?
“Ryan?” I heard Meg ask, “That’s why she’s torn. It has to be. She doesn’t want to be like him.”
“Does she know what he does?”
“She has to,” Meg cried, “She’s so smart.”
And she didn’t want to be like him...