Music City Madness: Chapter 76

Melissa paced inside the private conference room of a reputable title company in Nashville. Dull clouds covered the skyline outside the windows overlooking the retail space next door. “What the hell were you thinking?” she grilled Martin, who sat quietly at a long office table with a stack of mortgage papers and a pen.
“I wanted to see the live show.”
“I told you to keep an eye on the boys. After everything they’ve been through—”
“I was only gone a few hours. They were fine when you got home.”
“No, they weren’t. Adam thought something happened to you. Jonathan sent me a text and asked if you were ever coming back.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Sorry is forgetting to put the toilet seat down. I should have never trusted you. I asked you to stay with them for a few hours, not abandon them.”
Martin clicked the cheap ball point pen on the table. “The boys are fine. Nothing happened.”
“I missed half the concert.”
“There wasn’t much to miss.”
“That’s not the point.”
“You’re making a big deal about nothing.”
Melissa sent another text to her realtor. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
“My offer’s fair.”
“I don’t care about the money. I care about my boys’ future.”
Martin put his hands on the table and laced his fingers. “So do I. And I’m sorry about the horse. I should have consulted you first.”
“The boys always want what they can’t have.”
“They deserve a better life. So do you.”
Melissa paced in front of the window. “What’s taking so long? We should have been done an hour ago.”
Martin parted his hands and leaned back in his chair. “Sit down and relax. Stress will age you faster.”
“This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
“And yet, you’re still here.”
“Like I have a choice.” Melissa stepped away from the window and read her realtor’s reply: running late.
“You’re making the right decision,” Martin reassured her.
“It doesn’t feel that way.”
“You’ll be square with the IRS. And you won’t have to defend a foreclosure.”
“I just want to get this over with.”
“You don’t have to move out right away.”
“I’m sending the movers tomorrow. I want my stuff in storage while I’m on tour.”
“What about the boys?”
Melissa read a text message from Sid asking if she saw the concert. “They’re coming with me.”
“What about school?”
“School’s over.”
“Until next fall.”
“I can homeschool the boys on the road.”
“If you call that rolling coffin a home.”
“They’ll be fine. What happened on my last tour was a fluke. It won’t happen again.”
Martin leaned forward in his chair and got up. “I think it’s a bad idea.”
“Says the man who left his family to chase his secretary across the country. You couldn’t take responsibility to tend our boys for one night.”
“Paralegal. And I told the boys I would be home before ten.”
Melissa rolled her eyes. “Whatever…”
Martin took his reading glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Their principal wants them to see a shrink.”
“When did you talk to her?”
“Doesn’t matter. I share her concerns. Our boys are twisted up inside. They need someone to talk to.”
“They have me,” Melissa stipulated.
“They need their father.”
Melissa looked away. “Their principal needs to stay out of our lives.”
“She cares about our boys. She wants what’s best for them.”
“I’ll decide what’s best.”
“They’re my sons too. Don’t act like I don’t care about them.”
“It takes more than sperm to be a father.”
Martin took out his cigarettes. “That’s low, Mel. Even for you.”
“Don’t call me that. And don’t light up in here.”
“How long will you be on tour?”
“Not long enough.”
“The boys could stay in the house with me. I could fly them out to see you.”
Melissa read another text from Sid. “Never going to happen.”
“Jesus, Mel. I figured you might be more amenable by now.”
“You figured wrong.”
“I could take you to court and fight for partial custody. I could block you from taking our sons outside the state without my written consent.”
“You try that, and you’ll never see them again.”
Martin raised his hands in a defensive pose. “I don’t want to argue about our boys. If you think a life on the road is best for them, I defer to your judgment.”
Melissa threw him a steely gaze. She knew better than to trust a man whose moral fabric held water like torn pantyhose. Martin had something to hide. She could smell it on him, but at the moment, she didn’t care. She wanted her old life back and her boys in her purview. She thought of Leland for a moment and then quickly dismissed any notion of a reconciliation. He had his life. She had hers. “This is taking way too long.”
“You got somewhere else to be?”
“Anywhere but here.”

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