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

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“Wait, is this because there are multiple dads, or is there like a restraining order or something?" He asked as though he thought I was going to flip on him.

"No." I shrugged, "He just lives a ways away."

"Do you mean that he doesn’ts see his kids?” He gaped at me as I tried to avoid his gaze, "Or that he doesn't want to?"

I wasn’t going there. I didn’t even talk about it with Davis and he was the closest thing I had to family.

“Does he have a drug problem or something?” He continued to ask.

“No, he's just living in New York or something.” I didn’t want to get into the fact that the last time we’d even heard from him was 4 years ago.

Thomas had once been a friend. He gave me three beautiful gifts that I cherished and he was genuinely a decent man, once upon a time. He had just thought me foolish and whimsical.

The way things had ended, and the fact that he hadn't reached out in so long, hurt my girls, therefore, it hurt me. Even if they didn't know him, they deserved to.

"I don't get it." His brow furrowed, "They're cute kids."

"Cute, but crazy, busy and very time consuming. It isn't easy being a parent." I spoke nervously, "Sometimes the parent supports their kids in the best way they know how, and sometimes, that best way is distance."

"I don't buy it." He shook his head.

“Look, I just-" I fumbled with my hands, "I just don’t date. My kids come first.”

“Hey, I get it.” He ran a hand down his face with a sigh, "Text me sometime, if you ever have a spare minute. Or if you just need some help with this shit.”

He pointed to the screen and swung the door open with a little more verve then necissary.

“Thanks again.” I smiled as he exited the car.

“No problem.” He gave me a rueful grin and walked off to his rental.


"What's up with your ass, little brother?" Lou came up and sat down next to me, papers in her hand. We were in the studio at Bree's, waiting for her ass. Bree had a legal meeting to sign the kids' band to our independent label.

Shit had hit the fan, when Ash fucked up Kade in the label a couple years back, and they booted his band, and ours as well, by default. So, to make the tour, Bree and Ash decided to open Death Angel Records. Their own label.

We all got a cut, and that, with our record sales, was amazing money. We were royalty now, and couldn't be stopped.

"What the fuck are you doing to your head?" I looked at her bleach blonde hair. It was a rat's nest.

"Dreads." She shrugged, "Gina likes it, she says it gives me an edge."

"And your ink coverage doesn't?" I gave her a once over, the woman was walking ink. I didn't think that there was a part of her body that didn't have a tat. "You do realize that your listening to your sixteen year old daughter, right?"

She laughed, "What's got you moping?"

"I asked that chick out, the one I hit with my Aston Martin."

"Where are you taking her?"

"I'm not." I snorted, "She shot me down."

"Ouch." She laughed.

It was bugging me. Like, really bugging me. She seemed so cool and calm. Just, in control. I wanted to get to know her.


Later that afternoon I was seated in the waiting room of Piper’s psychologist, waiting for her to get through her bi-weekly meeting, when my phone buzzed.

The number was unrecognizable, but I opened the message.

How’s it going with the car?
The electronics working

Why did he care? What was with this guy? He knew I had three kids. Normally as soon as guys found that out they were gone.

Why was this guy even wasting his time? He honestly had money and could get a date anywhere.

Piper came out of the door as I stared at the message.

“I’m done, Mommy.” She was backpack clad and ready to go.

“Okay, baby.” I smiled and put my phone away, along with the message. “How did it go today?”

“Fine.” She shrugged.

This was the only answer I ever got from her. I wasn’t sure if therapy was helping, but it seemed to be going okay. We had been able to stay away from medications and found that reading was a great outlet for her anxiety.

“What’s for dinner?” She asked as we left the office.

“You want pizza?” I smiled, knowing how much my girl loved pizza. Of course, of the gluten free variety.

Two batches of dough coming up, one for Piper and one for the rest of us.

“Can we put spinach on it?” She asked with a smile.

“Absolutely!” I responded with enthusiasm, “We have some at home.”

“Can I make my own?”

“Yes. It will be a make you own pizza night for everyone.” I tapped her nose and she smiled.

“Your the best mommy ever.” She grinned.

“I’m your only mommy. You have nothing to compare me to.” I laughed and we headed out to pick up the troops and head home.


Later that night, the little ones were fed, bathed and in bed. In the three bedroom house I owned, they had to share a room, so I could hear them chattering upstairs, but atleast they weren’t arguing.

Elle had my attitude with no filter and I swear that kid was 7 going on 27. She liked to state the obvious, despite the ramifications.

After I did some clean up and started the dishwasher I pulled out my phone, remembering the message I had received earlier and never responded to.

I moved to the attached garage, where I could paint in solitude. It was 9pm now. He was either busy or asleep. So, I figured I could return the text and be done with it.

Hey. Sorry it took so long to respond. I think I have the stereo down, but I’m still afraid to touch anything else.


I was seated at the bar with Mike while Asher and the other guys chopped it up at the pool table. We'd been finished work for hours and had sledged our way to the basement, while the kids did their work in the studio. When my phone chimed with a message though, it took me off guard.

The name Megan O’Brian showed on my screen and I gaped at the name. Was this her, telling me to back off?

“Megan huh? Ole Ryan hooking up on the East Coast, is he?” Mike asked with his Southern, laid back drawl.

“Definitely not. It’s that chick I hit the other day.” I tried to play it off.

“She’s texting you?” His eyes went wide.

“I texted her earlier, she’s just getting back to me now.” I shrugged, dying to look at the message, but not with him watching.

“Texted her ’bout what?” His southern accent always came on thick with his alcohol consumption.

“I just wanted to know how her rental car was going.” I cleared my throat and took another swig of my beer to steep my nerves, I really wanted to open that message, but not with snooping eyes on me.

She was so intriguing. She seemed really headstrong and intelligent, but she didn’t like modernity and her outlook on music stunned me.

“You like this chick.” He grinned pointedly around his beer.

“But, she’s got 3 kids.” I put my feelers out. Mike was like a big brother to all of us. Nearly fifteen years my senior.

“Three kids? Damn...” If possible his eyes went wider and his smile grew.

“Wait," He chuckled, "Tell me, you ain’t after a married woman are you?”

“No. She’s a single mom.” I swallowed hard as he scrutinized me.

“Different dads?” His eyes narrowed in thought.

“Doesn't seem like it," I shook my head, "I’ve only talked to her a couple times, but it sounds like they had a family and he quit. She’s doing it on her own.”

“Ah, the struggling, single mom meets the artist who wants to save her.” He placed a hand over his heart and sighed. I got the hint and groaned.

“It’s not like a sympathy thing, Mike. I just-she’s interesting.”

“How so?”

“She had no idea who I was when we exchanged information and I hinted about Fallen Angels today at the dealership, but she's got a different mentality. She says she likes to feel the music, not the people behind it.”

“Damn, that’s deep.”

“Yeah.” I sighed, “And she’s far from struggling.”

“How do you know?”

“After I ran into her at the insurance place today, I got curious.” I shrugged.

“You stalked her ass?” He chuckled, "Tell me we ain't gonna have to cover for your shit?"

“No." I chuckled, "I looked up her address on Google."


"She lives in a nice house in a good town," I grinned, realizing how stupid my ass was, "It's one of those Cape Cod styles. She doesn’t have a Facebook page, but she does have Instagram and a blog.”

“And what else did you find?”

“Lots of pictures of her paintings on Instagram. She's really good. Her blog is about her kids, hiking, and meditation.” I was trying to be nonchalant about it, "She has pictures of them and the oldest and the youngest look like they could be twins."

"How'd you get all this snooping shit done?"

"I had time," I shrugged, "But she's rocker mixed with a hippy. I'm telling you, she's chill man."

"What else did you find out on this blog you been reading all afternoon, you know, while we were working?" His eyes narrowed at me and I snickered.

"She talks about her middle one’s got some stuff going on," I was caught, I might as well tell him what I knew, "It's why they meditate, and I saw nothing about a dad, but I did see someone we knew in the pictures."



"My Davis?" Bree came up beside us, "Who bought my bar? What about him?"

Bree had been a bar owner before I met her. Apparently the bar had always been up and coming, as soon as Bree worked her magic with it. Davis had taken over the business when she decided to sing again.

"He knows the chick I ran into."


"I don't know," I shrugged again, "But he's all in her blog. Hiking, meditating, birthdays. The whole nine yards."

"Davis loves kids," She smiled lovingly, "He used to spoil Declan rotten."

"Hey Bree," I asked curiously, "Can you ask him how he knows a Megan O'Brien? I-E."

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