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

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5

Arlee

I couldn’t find Noah all morning. It seemed that he chose this particular morning to eat breakfast at the crack of dawn and disappear into the cabins.

I wasn’t stupid. I knew that what Ian had said about him wasn’t true. It was Ian teasing again, but I wanted to confront the issue of his and Ian’s deal. I wanted to know if Noah really did like me, because all of the signs were there.

Who made a deal like that if they really liked a girl?

Oh well, I had more important things to worry about than Noah McGhee.

“Look, what I did!” I showed Piper my art project. Which was supposed to be a fish, but turned out to be more like a cow with no legs. It was horrible, by the way.

Give me an instrument and I was apparently a genius, but put crafts in my hand and I was in preschool again.

“Here are my fish.” Piper smiled up at me and showed me her meticulous art work on construction paper, with a blue ocean, colorful fish of all sizes, coral and other plant life. She even had a sandy floor.

“That’s amazing, Piper!” I gave my sister a kiss on her temple as I inwardly cringed at my pathetic fish.

“I drew a picture, see!” Elle showed me her drawing and that was just it. A back and white sketch of a fish that looked perfect, scales and all.

“Okay, now you guys are just trying to show me up.” I pointed between the two of them as they laughed, “Brats.”

They were like Mom, to a T, so why did I have to be like the only person on this planet that I couldn’t even stand to look at?

Why did I have to be so musically inclined? I get it, my grandfather ran the Symphony, but why couldn’t I just be more like him? Why couldn’t I find happiness in that or the art projects that we did, like my mother?

I was shaking my head at them when I noticed someone walking toward us.

Ian. I sighed. Ian was a friend and I couldn’t cast him off because of what he’d said last night while he was drunk. Besides, I was in my peaceful vibe from having a family snuggle session.

You would think it would be odd or awkward to climb into bed and my mom and stepdad, but it wasn’t. Not one bit. Ryan had cared about us from the first day. That much was obvious and it really did feel like he had always been a part of our lives.

“Hey, girls, why don’t you have Colby let you into the room, while I pick up here. If you put your bathing suits on we can go into the pool.”

They cheered and Colby glared at me as they all walked off. He hated babysitting duty, so of course I had to make him a solo act every now and then.

I stood and started to pick up the crafts. I’d have to hurry, if I wanted to beat Elle to the pool.

“Hey, Ace.” Ian walked over, scratching the back of his head, “How’s it going?”

“Fine.” I shrugged.

“Look, I um, have a feeling that I might have said something really stupid last night and I wanted to apologize.” He glanced around us at the endless ocean. I could tell he was nervous.

“I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary.” I shook my head, “Aside from you really laying into your cousin.”

“Look, about that,” He scratched the back of his neck, “Your a cool chick and I like hanging with you. I was just joking about what I said about Noah and I’d hate for you to take my jokes seriously and stop chilling with us. We like to get a rise out of each other.”

“Please.” I rolled my eyes, “I don’t take anything you weirdos say seriously.”

Maybe it was just Ian teasing. I really needed to stop taking everything so seriously.

“Weirdos?” He snorted looking at my feet, “At least we wear shoes.”

“Yeah,” I smiled at my feet, “Well, I find shoes a little constricting.”

“You do realize that when you’re in New York you can’t go barefoot right?”

“You do realize that I have to get changed and meet my sisters down at the pool or Colby will shit himself, right?”

“Mind if I go too?” He shrugged, “Everyone else is hungover and Noah’s got his nephews until noon while the other adults party.”

“And why aren’t you hungover?”

“Good genes.” He gave a nod and started toward the rooms, “See you in a few.”

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