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

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In 2 days I would be Mrs. Ryan Ford, but today was our first day off of that boat and my focus was singular.

Arlee was 18 today and we were back at the resort, setting up the ballroom for her party. It had been Ryan's idea to get married the day after, and with Arlee's approval, we'd set the date.

“I could have hired someone to do this,” Liv brought some more balloons into the room, “You should be concentrating on your wedding.”

“We always do this.” Piper grinned widely, painting the banner I had outlined for her.

“It’s my fun.” I told her, taking the 1 and 8 balloon and tying them to the weights.

The guys were hanging up streamers from the rafters and Ryan smiled down at me as I walked by.

“It’s what she does.” He told her.

“Cake’s here.” Bree walked in with a baker who was pushing a cake big enough to feed an army.

Ryan apparently had a cousin who owned a bakery here in California. He’d asked her to put something together for Arlee. He had said it was a gluten free version of her favorite cake, strawberry cake with vanilla frosting.

My jaw dropped as I looked at it though. It had beautiful touches that only a highly paid professional could do. There were strawberries scattered throughout and fondant, made to look like sheet music, draped over one side.

“Ryan.” I gasped as he came down the ladder.

“That’s better than I thought it would look.” He beamed, talking to who I assumed was his cousin, “You are amazing, April.”

“I had to do the sheet music a few times over.” She told him as they placed the cake on the table, “That was a little complicated, but I hope I got it right, Ry.”

“It’s exactly what I wanted.” He was looking at the sheet music and I could tell by the movement of his eyes that he was reading it through, “It’s perfect, April.”

I looked at the brush strokes that made up the sheet music and smiled.

“You did it all by hand?” I looked it over in amazement.

“Yeah.” She smiled bashfully.

“It’s amazing.”

“Thanks!” She smiled and went about starting everything on the table, “I’m April by the way, the real cousin.”

“I’m Meg,” I laughed at the fact Ryan didn’t introduce us and she was teasing him, “The fiancé.”

“It’s also her first song.” Ryan scratched the back of his head nervously as he read the sheet music again, “I hope she likes it.”

The thought he had gone through all this trouble and put so much effort into worrying that it was perfect, had my heart swooning again.

He truly loved them and wanted give them the world.

“I think she will.” I hugged his waste, “She hides behind the sarcasm, but she’s got a soft spot for you and you have one for her. You two bonded over this song. I understand the meaning.”

“I love you.” He chuckled.

“I love you too.”


Upon seeing the cake, Arlee got up close and truly examined it, looking at the sheet music.

Then she began to shake and almost fell.

“Whoa, kiddo.” Ryan caught her just before she fell to the ground.

She was shaking and clutching him tightly as she cried. Noah, pushed past everyone with a chair and she sat in it.

“I didn’t want to make you cry,” Ryan got down to her level to talk to her, “I thought you’d like it.”

“I love it.” She cried, “It’s so amazing.”

“Your amazing, baby.” I grabbed a napkin from the table and dried her tears as I whispered, “You will do amazing things.”

“You saw it?” She let go of Ryan and turned to me, her eyes wide.

“I saw it.” I pulled her in and kissed her forehead, “That’s talent, my baby.”

“You liked it?”

“I loved it,” I pulled her into my arms, “It’s what’s in you Arlee and I love every part of you.”

She seemed to calm down, but then turned to Ryan and began to sob again, “It’s too pretty to eat.”

He chuckled low.

“We’ve got plenty of pictures of it. Up close, far away, zoom-ins, the whole 9 yards.” He gave her a kiss on her forehead, “Now we have to get pictures of you blowing out the candles, cutting and eating it before we get some of you dancing and having fun.”

“Why?” She scoffed.

“Because this is my first birthday with you and it’s a big one.” Ryan smiled brightly, “I get the first dance. Well, after your mom.”


I had to admit that when the kid almost fainted I flipped. I really thought I may have overstepped, maybe even made her upset, but she had absolutely loved it.

We explained to the others that it was her Julliard piece and they were floored. I’d have to thank my cousin again when she came to the wedding tomorrow.

Right now, I was too taken with Meg’s smile as she went up to the DJ booth.

“Hi, everyone,” She gave a little wave, “I wanted to thank those of you who joined us a night early for Arlee’s birthday. I know Davis remembers when she was just a baby. I could tell endless stories of her and I’m sure you could too.” She smiled at her old friend.

“I certainly could.” He pulled Arlee under his arm and she smiled up at him.

“Now, Ryan and I promised to make these short, because we’ll have more than enough speeches at the wedding, but Arlee, I love you so very much. You have grown to be a strong, loving, beautiful young woman and I know you will do big things.” She cleared her throat, “Now, this first song is one we used to dance to every morning before school when she in middle school.”

Arlee smiled brightly and went to her mom’s side with a laugh, “Are we doing the whole dance?”

“Absolutely!” Meg rolled her eyes and pulled her daughter to the middle of the dancefloor.

I had no idea what it could be. We hadn’t discussed our picks for our dances tonight, but when Mombo #5 started and the two started doing the jitterbug together I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Okay, the chicks can dance.” Mike sidled up next to me, watching them wide eyed.

“Just wait until you really see Arlee get down.” I knowingly told him.

They finished the song with a round of applause and it was my turn as I grabbed the mic.

“Did you know Arlee’s a closet Panic! At the disco fan?” I grinned at her as she turned beat red,

“It’s him!” She pointed at me wide eyed, “All him!”

Hey look ma, I made it, came on and she tried to hide her face as I danced up to her and took her hand.

“Fitting don’t you think?” I smiled at her and her returning laugh said that I’d picked a good song as we began to dance.

At all of the choruses, we would turn to face her mom and I would hold her hands in the air as she laughed. Meg’s face was beaming.

When the song was over mike got on the Mic, “Sorry, Ash and I had to cut in, this is for the bride- groom!”

I write sins not tragedies, came on and we all laughed, including Meg, as the guys all started to shout the song in my face.

“Okay! Funny assholes!” I shouted to the DJ, “Next song!”

“Okay!” Arlee ran to the booth. “This is for Elle and Piper, but all the other ladies can come up too!”

Girls just wanna have fun came on and all of the women, even my mother, got up there with them.

When the song was over Old Time Rock and Roll came on and it was officially time to send the littles to bed.

Tonight they were going to the room with my parents, who would take the first shift and Meg and I would duck out to relieve them at Midnight.

I was watching Arlee dance with Colby. The guy was a decent dancer, but Arlee had spirit and she pranced around the dancefloor with him.

When Santeria came on we stood back and watched all the kids shout to the song.

“Is this what we were like when we were kids?” Jason stood between Asher and I.

“Nah.” Asher’s face twisted, “We looked cooler than that.”

“It’s fun to watch Arlee enjoy herself.” Meg whispered, “Look at her smile.”

“She does seem more carefree tonight.” I wrapped her in a hug.

When the song ended Ian got on the mic, “Arlee and I have a debate going, she said that you can’t dance to the new rock, so this is for you Arlee.”

Deal with Devil started to blare and Ian and stalked toward Arlee singing. I watched on as she laughed when began the air guitar and started singing along.

“She knows this music?” I turned to look at Meg in shock.

“Where do you think I hear it first?” She cocked a brow at me.

“You are full of fucking surprises!” I gave her a kiss and pulled her onto the dancefloor.

Arlee continued to dance with Ian until someone else came on the mic.

“I’m on team Arlee here. Older stuff is easier to dance to.” Noah shrugged and handed the mic back, then gave the DJ a nod as he began to play Scream by Michael and Janet Jackson.

When he hit the dancefloor he slid on his knees toward Arlee and she laughed as he stood to face her. When he started dancing everyone’s jaws dropped, including Arlee’s.

“Noah?!” Bree shouted, gaping at her son and when I found Ash his face said it all. They had no idea the boy could dance.

“No, shit!” Asher began to cheer.

Arlee watched him for a second, then fell into step with him. Where he would push, she would give and vise versa. It was like watching one of those dance movies.

“She’s more than a triple threat.” Bree laughed, her eyes wide, “And my son’s got moves!”

“Where the hell did he learn that?” I asked her.

“Good question.” She laughed as her husband dragged her off.

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