Friday, December 22

Chapter Twenty-five

The flight took off on time and without incident. They shared the first-class cabin with one other person, a man who appeared to neither recognize Jon nor care to socialize, and who was seated in the window seat one row in front of and across the aisle from them. Jon took the window and Jordan the aisle.

The flight attendant, Sandy, informed them that the crew was short one staff member and since the first class passengers were few, she was going to assist the staff in the main cabin, if they had no objections. They assured her they were fine and would press the “call” button if they needed anything.

“Thank you,” Sandy said, seeming grateful. “On a flight this big, it’s easy to get backed up in the main cabin. I’ve been there,” she added with a smile. “I’ll check back in periodically.”

She served them their meals and then disappeared behind the curtain. Jon looked at Jordan with a wink. “We may get our chance after all,” he teased.

Once the meal trays had been cleared, the lights were dimmed and the in-flight movie started. The man across the aisle put on his headphones to watch the film, some action-adventure that neither Jon nor Jordan found of interest. Sandy once again left them to assist her co-workers, and Jon reached for Jordan’s hand.

“Finally. Come here,” he said, and she smiled, letting him pull her close to deliver a lingering and passionate kiss. They started to pull away then found themselves going back for more, fighting the urge to make out like two teenagers at a drive-in movie. When they finally separated, Jordan found herself a little breathless, her heart pounding.

“Wow,” she said, laughing softly. “If that’s how you’re going to kiss me after a little separation, I’m a little afraid of what will happen when we really are alone.”

He grinned. “I just figure we’d better seize the opportunities when we can.”

“I think we’re getting pretty good at that,” Jordan teased. “You know, I am wearing a dress. If I wasn’t afraid we’d get caught I could just unzip your pants and…”

“True. And that skirt is long enough nothing would even be exposed,” he laughed. “Well, until Sandy came back and saw you giving me a lap dance.” He groaned quietly. “I think we’d better change the subject.”

“Well, the mile-high club was your idea,” she responded, smiling, although she suspected he’d already probably achieved those wings many times over.

He chuckled. “Oh, like you didn’t think about it.”

Jordan blushed. She wanted to tell him he was wrong but she couldn’t. She realized that, sexually, she had no secrets from him.

“That’s what I thought,” he said, smiling. She was easily the most passionate woman he’d ever known; he’d met plenty of women who liked sex but Jordan was different—there was something so pure about her sensuality. He’d had a couple hundred women or more over the years, yet very few of them brought out in him what Jordan did—in fact he could count them on one hand. He’d had the wisdom to marry one of them.
And now…

He couldn’t ignore the fact that the sex was so good because they shared more than just physical chemistry. She was starting to feel like part of him. The phenomenal sex just made it that much more intoxicating. He felt the blood rushing to his groin and noticed the man across the aisle had fallen asleep, still wearing the headphones.

“You know,” he said, slyly. “You could give me that lap dance in private.” He nodded toward the lavatory door. Ideally, knocking one off in a public bathroom was not his idea of sexy, but given their options, he was willing to relax his standards.

Jordan tipped her head at him. “It’s a little cliché, don’t you think?”

Jon shook his head, grinning. “Hey, I was just offering up a suggestion. I’m fine waiting until we get to Spain.” Liar.

“Oh, really?” she responded, letting her hand slip down to feel the growing bulge in his pants. She laughed quietly. Truth be told, she wanted him as badly. Being so close to him, smelling him, feeling the touch of his arm against hers and the sound of his voice had her more than a little turned on. Then once they kissed…

“Well, it’s not exactly like we’re strangers to playing a little game of chance, now, are we?” She brought her lips to his, kissing him softly, then let her tongue dart out to lick lightly at his lips. “I’m game if you are.” She laughed again. “And from the feel of things, you definitely are.” She gave him a light squeeze and he stifled a moan.

“Stop it or you’ll make me come in my pants.” He bit her lip gently. “Okay, let me go in first.” He unbuckled his seatbelt and slid by her, peaking through the curtain to make sure the coast was clear. He moved to the front of the cabin and slipped into the lavatory. It was a tiny space, but workable. He shook his head with a smile. What am I, fucking nuts?

Jordan felt her heart quicken at the thought of what she was about to do. In the darkness, she reached to remove her underwear, sliding them down her legs and over the boots she was wearing, then tucked them into the seat pocket in front of her.

She had just unbuckled her seatbelt when the flight attendant reappeared. “How are you doing up here?” Sandy asked.

Shit. “Great, thanks. Just fine.”

Sandy noted that Jon wasn’t in his seat and that the lavatory was occupied. “So,” she said. “The two of you work together?” She couldn’t help but ask. She wasn’t a huge fan, but still… having the guy on her flight was pretty cool.

Jordan nodded. “Yes, we do.” Go away please.

“So what takes you to Spain?”

Jordan forced a smile. Dammit.

Jon waited, looking at his reflection in the mirror of the poorly-lit bathroom. His hand wandered down to try to sooth his raging erection. He was so hard it felt like a battering ram pulsing against the front of his pants.
Where the hell was she?

After five minutes or so, he decided she’d chickened out or set him up. He sighed in frustration, toying with the idea of taking matters into his own hands, but decided he was drawing the line at jacking off in the airplane bathroom.

He opened the door and stepped out, then seeing Jordan being held captive by the chatty flight attendant. Their eyes met and he cocked his head and gave a small shrug in an “oh, well” expression.

When he got to the seat Jordan almost burst out laughing. His erection was clearly evident through the relaxed fit and thin material of the cargo pants he was wearing. That’ll teach him not to wear underwear. Fortunately, Sandy was too captivated by his smile to notice.

“Can I get you anything?” she asked, returning his smile.

Yeah. Either a blow job or a cold shower would be great, thanks. “Actually, I would like some chocolate, if you have any. I’m sure my colleague would as well.” Jordan looked down, willing the laughter bubbling inside her not to escape.

“Of course,” Sandy answered, cheerfully. “I’ll be right back.”

Jon fell into his seat with a sigh. “Fuck me,” he muttered in frustration.

Jordan laughed. “I tried, honey.” She looked at what he was dealing with and shook her head. “Damn, Jon. That’s…”

“Yes, I know,” he answered. “Can you get my jacket or something? Jesus Christ.”

Jordan reached behind his head, retrieving the blanket that was draped over the back of the seat. “Here,” she said, tossing it across his lap. She was fighting what she feared would be a losing battle with a fit of laughter.

Sandy reappeared with a small plate of assorted chocolates. “Would you like anything else? Coffee, a drink?” They each ordered a glass of wine, which she brought promptly before leaving them once again to the main cabin.

Jon shook his head, smiling. “Well, I guess we should be glad she came back when she did. She sure as hell would have noticed if both of us weren’t in our seats.”

“True,” Jordan answered. “But still… I was totally ready.” She smiled, reaching into the seat pocket to show him the panties she’d deposited there earlier.

He groaned, realizing that meant she was now naked under her skirt. “Okay, we need to change the subject right now.”

Jordan retrieved her laptop, bringing up a video trivia game. “How about this?” She asked. “We’ll just skip the sex trivia for now.”

Jon laughed, nodding. “Excellent.”

They played for an hour or so before Jon suggested they try to get some sleep. He fell asleep quickly but Jordan found herself unable to drift off, which surprised her. She hadn’t slept well the past two nights—first because of her run-in with Rob and then in anticipation of her trip. And now, the combination of excitement, confusion and desire was playing havoc with her mind.

She watched him sleep for a while, the soft smile on his lips making her wonder what he was dreaming about. She reached over, brushing the hair back from his brow softly. She could scarcely believe she was here, embarking on an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. The complexities of the emotions she felt were so overwhelming she’d given up on trying to sort them out. The one thing she knew is that she wasn’t afraid of him, and in a way she questioned that wisdom. She had placed herself in a situation where she could easily be hurt, but she felt no fear. In a way she knew she should, but the emotions just weren’t there. Perhaps she was fooling herself, she didn’t know. But it was too late now.

She lay her head back and closed her eyes, finally dozing off. She woke a short while later to discover that he had expanded the blanket to cover both of them and taken her hand in his. She looked over at him to find him looking sleepily at her. He squeezed her hand gently, then they drifted off again.

When she woke once more, she found her hand lying in his lap and could feel slight movement beneath his pants. She smiled to herself, wondering if he’d done it deliberately. She guessed he’d probably done it in his sleep; she couldn’t imagine he’d choose to torture himself more than necessary. But then again—the cabin was dark and quiet; she guessed most people were sleeping. She looked at him and saw his eyes were still closed. She closed her eyes again, letting her hand remain where it was.

Eventually the pulsations became more insistent. She pulled her hand away and rose from her seat, moving to peak through the curtains in search of Sandy. She saw the flight attendants way at the back of the plane, chatting amongst themselves while the passengers either slept or read quietly. The man across the aisle was still sleeping as well.

It’s now or never.

Jordan slipped back into her seat, sneaking her hand back underneath the blanket with a smile. She eased his zipper down, taking him in her hand. He opened his eyes finally, groaning quietly in appreciation. It wasn’t the same as being inside her but he’d take what he could get. He was literally aching from desire and at the feel of her hand on him, he was pretty sure it wouldn’t take long.

She brought her mouth to his as she stroked him expertly. Suddenly she pulled away, sliding off her seat and maneuvering herself until she was on her knees in front of him.

“Shit Jordan, what are you doing?” He said quietly, although he certainly didn’t want to stop her.

She smiled lasciviously. “Well babe, it has to go somewhere.” She had a point. He didn’t have a towel handy and decided that it would be way too tacky to use the blanket. “Just keep an eye out.” She winked at him. “I won’t be long, I’m sure.”

He held the blanket up and she ducked beneath it. He felt her hand on him again, and then the warmth of her breath, and when he felt the silkiness of her tongue he couldn’t help but gasp out loud. Jordan almost felt bad for him—it was almost like granite, he was so hard. She swirled her tongue around the tip and then lowered her head, taking him as deeply as she could.

He gripped at the arm rest with one hand, letting the other snake beneath the blanket to twine in her hair. He realized his entire body was trembling. That’s it, baby. Sweet Jesus. That’s my girl. He lost himself in the sweet torture of her movements, gritting his teeth so as not to moan out loud. Just then the sound of a call button caught his attention and he opened his eyes to see the button lit above the man across the aisle.
No fucking way was this happening. Shit.

“Jordan,” he said quietly, groaning as he pushed her off of him. “You gotta stop and get up here. Hurry.” FUCK.

Jordan was just sitting back in her seat and smoothing the static from her hair when Sandy entered the cabin. Jon had opened the window shade and was looking out at the sunrise on the horizon.

The man across the aisle asked for a bottle of water, which Sandy retrieved for him. She moved to them then, smiling. “How are you two doing here?”

Other than the fact I want to strangle that guy? Jon forced a weak smile.

“We’re fine, thanks,” Jordan replied.

“Okay. We’ll be serving breakfast in about an hour or thereabouts. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some water or anything?”

“Actually, some water would be great, thanks.” Anything to cool us off. Him especially.

They accepted the bottles she brought them, Jon opening his and downing about half of it in one swig. What he really wanted to do was pour it on his crotch. He shook his head, bringing his eyes to Jordan’s. “That’s it. No more in-flight entertainment.”

Jordan looked at him, her eyes reflecting his frustration. “Honey, I’m sorry. I thought I was doing a good thing.”

He laughed wryly. “Oh, you were doing a very good thing. But until we know we have time on our side, without the threat of interruptions, I don’t want you coming anywhere near my dick.” He took another swig of water. “Christ. I can’t tell you the last time I had blue balls.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation…I’m feeling a bit of your frustration,” Jordan offered. The look he gave her in response made her fight back her laughter.

“Baby, I can guarantee you aren’t feeling the same thing. If I thought it wouldn’t torture me as much as you, I’d slide my hand up that skirt and bring you to the brink a couple times without letting you…” he let his voice drift off.

She laughed quietly. “Well, just think how good it will be when we finally are alone...”

“Stop. I don’t want to think about it,” he let himself laugh then, pulling her to him for a kiss. “You will be the death of me yet, you know that?”

“Hmmm. Well you know, you have only yourself to blame. I was pure as the driven snow before I met you,” she teased.

“The hell you were…your talents were just being wasted, that’s all.” He ran his thumb across her lips. “And to think I already thought I was the luckiest man on earth.”

She smiled softly. One of them was lucky, that’s for sure.

The remainder of the flight was uneventful; Jon slept some more and Jordan finished the legal thriller she was reading. When they landed in Barcelona, it was shortly before noon, and there was a driver waiting to assist with their luggage and take them to the hotel.

“Mr. Jon!” the man exclaimed in a thick Spanish accent, and Jon embraced him tightly.

“Francisco, good to see you again! You look good! How is your wife, your children?”

“Very very good, Mr. Jon. Very envious of me today though!” He grinned broadly and Jon laughed.

“Well tell them hello for me,” he said. “Francisco, this is Jordan. She’s working with us this tour. She’s a good lady. Be nice to her.”

Francisco extended his hand. “Very nice to meet you, Miss Jordan.” To Jon he said, “Very beautiful woman. Better than those men! I see why you travel with her.”

Jon burst out laughing. “You’re a smart man, Francisco.”

Francisco loaded their bags into the back of the van and Jon and Jordan each took a seat. A short drive later they arrived at the Ritz Carlton. To Jordan’s surprise, there was no paparazzi; for some reason she’d expected it, and said as much to Jon.

“Well, it helps that we’re in a couple days early—they don’t really know when to expect us. I’m guessing none of the others are in yet, either—once one of us arrives the word kind of gets out.” Well, him and Richie anyway; Dave and Tico sometimes could go unnoticed more easily.

They checked in and were escorted to their rooms. Once again they had adjoining suites, which would make things a little easier—especially since rest of the band would be on the same floor. Jordan had stripped off her travel clothes and slipped into the luxurious hotel robe and was unpacking a few of her things when she heard the knock on the door separating her room from Jon’s. She smiled and unlocked the door, opening it a crack. “Yes, boss?”

He grinned and shook his head as he pushed the door open. “You’re off the clock right now, baby.” He was feeling a bit refreshed; he’d brushed his teeth, splashed some water on his face and slipped into a pair of baggy sweatpants himself. He grabbed hold of the belt of Jordan’s robe and pulled her to him, planting a quick kiss on her lips. “So how are you feeling? Jet lag can kick your ass, you know.”

Jordan sighed contentedly, wrapping her arms around his waist. “Well, so far so good. I feel a little disoriented but I was thinking a nice hot shower would help.”

Jon nodded. “You know what I think?”

Jordan eyed him with amusement. “No, but I’m betting you’ll share.”

“I think,” he said, easing her against the doorway and loosening the belt, “That you need to get a little more dirty before you get into the shower.” His hands wandered inside the robe as he brought his mouth to her ear. “I know I do.”

“Jon,” Jordan began, “I’ve been traveling for 18 hours. I’m sweaty and…” her argument weakened as his mouth traveled down her throat and his fingers played across her body.

“I don’t give a fuck,” he answered, pressing against her. She could feel his hardness against her thigh. “I need you, now.” He reached to slip the sweats down over his hips, then took her hand and placed it on his erection before sliding his own fingers between her legs. He laughed lustfully, bringing his lips to hers. “Tell me you want me to stop.”

His mouth silenced her moan and they kissed voraciously. He lifted her into his arms and she wrapped her legs around him, and he moved to lay her on the desk nearby. They pushed the lamp aside and shoved the rest of the desktop items either to the floor or the chair. He pulled her hips to the edge of the desk, and they melted into each other. “God baby,” he whispered, just before he entered her. “I love…”

Suddenly there was a pounding on the door of Jon’s suite, and they heard Dave’s voice. “Hey asshole, we know you’re in there. Let us in!” It was followed by Richie’s hearty laugh.

Jordan froze, and Jon groaned loudly. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered. “Tell me I’m hearing things.”

There was another pounding. “Come on bro, let us in. We missed you.” More laughter.

Jon buried his face in her neck. “I’m going to KILL them.”

Jordan was confused. “Jon, they don’t know…”

He shook his head, pulling away from her and helping her off the desk, closing her robe. “No. They do this to me all the time. Normally I’m not about to get laid though.” He sighed. “Fuck!” He grabbed his pants and pulled them on, shaking his head at the once-again telltale evidence of his arousal. Maybe he should get a couple pairs of underwear.

Jordan tied the belt on her robe and then scrambled to put the desk items back in place. “Someday we’ll look back at this and laugh,” she offered.

“Yeah. I doubt it,” he answered. The ache between his legs was getting worse, but it definitely had to wait now. He raked his hand through his hair. “Shit.”

The knock came again. “Jon, open the door. You can jerk off later!” Still more laughter. He shook his head. “The way things are going I just might have to,” he answered, kissing her briefly. “Okay, go take your shower. I’m going to kill my band.”

Jordan slipped through the doorway and they each closed their respective doors, and Jon jogged in place for a few moments, trying to get his hard on to go down. Finally he grabbed a handful of ice from the ice bucket, shoving his hand down the front of his pants. He groaned in pain when the coldness touched his cock, but it did the trick. He dropped the ice back in the bucket and walked to the door, pulling it open.

“Damn, don’t even give a guy time to take a shower or anything,” he said, as his band mates poured into his room. He managed a laugh and they exchanged hugs.

“Jesus, Jon,” Tico said. “You look like hell.”

“Fuck you,” Jon responded, grouchily. Although he suspected that at that very moment, it was probably true.

Tico laughed. “Well, I just mean you don’t look like you just had six weeks off, that’s all. Bad flight?”

“You could say that, yeah,” he answered. “So did you guys just get in?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jordan took a long hot shower and brewed a pot of coffee in the in-room coffee pot. It was still early and she was determined to adjust to local time as quickly as possible. She dried her hair, applied a little mascara and blush, and was getting dressed when the phone rang.

“Hey Jordan, it’s Jon.” She could tell by his tone that he wasn’t alone. “We thought we’d let Francisco take us on a little sight-seeing tour then get a bite to eat. Wanna join us?”

“I’d love to. When?” Jordan was excited at the idea of a personal tour of the city—and she knew hanging out with all of them was sure to be a blast.

“I need to jump in the shower real quick, but we’re all gathering here. Come over any time. Someone will let you in.” In the background she heard someone—she guessed it was Dave—respond. “Jords, get your ass over here!”

Jon laughed. “Did you hear that? They are very excited to have a woman along this time. Let me know if anyone steps out of line though.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. He played the CEO so well. “You mean besides you?”

“Exactly,” he answered, trying not to think about the fact that the last time he stood at this desk, she was lying beneath him. “Okay, I’m gonna jump in the shower. Come on over.”

Jordan finished getting dressed and grabbed her purse and a lightweight jacket before slipping out the door of her suite and knocking on Jon’s.

She waited a moment before knocking again. Suddenly the door opened and Dave and Richie stood there, arms wide open. “Welcome to Fantasy Island,” they said, doing their best Ricardo Montalbon impression.

Jordan burst out laughing. They didn’t know how close to the truth they were. She let them pull her in for a small group hug. Suddenly she felt like she had her own band of brothers, and it comforted her more than she had anticipated. She wondered how they’d feel about her if they knew the truth.

“Christ, give the girl some air,” Tico said, moving in to kiss her on the cheek. “Hey baby. Good to see you.”

She accepted a soda from Dave and they sat chatting until Jon emerged from the bedroom, looking refreshed and in better humor than the last time she’d seen him.

Francisco was waiting for them in the lobby, and they piled into the van. They took a leisurely drive along the Ramblas, strolled along the Palau de la Virreina and the Boqueria Market, and explored the Gothic Quarter before stopping at a local tapas bar.

Over what seemed to be a non-stop flow of appetizers and sangria, Jordan vacillated between interacting with the men and simply observing them. Since accepting the job, she had done a great deal of research about them and understood the loyalty they had towards one another. It really was a Brotherhood, she could tell, and she realized she was very fortunate to be accepted on the inside. They were very demonstrative with one another, Jon especially. He was obviously comfortable expressing his affection with them—something she found very admirable. There was clearly not a homophobic bone in his body. It was also very evident that his love for each of them was genuine, and from what she could tell, the feelings were mutual.

The conversation was easy and comfortable, and they made sure she was included, which she appreciated. She didn’t want to be treated like “the woman at the table” but to be accepted as just one of the gang…partly for selfish reasons, but more so she could create an honest depiction of who they were when she was writing. Whether her work saw the light of day outside of the band or not, she wanted it to be honest and real—not the viewpoint of some reporter who files hundreds of stories a year and can’t keep track of any one of them.

Suddenly she realized her eyes were getting a little heavy, and she decided she should stop drinking the sangria and instead reached for her water glass. She noticed Jon watching her. “You okay?” he asked, and she nodded, smiling.

He regarded her for a moment, reaching beneath the table to squeeze her leg gently before speaking again.

“Guys, it’s been a long day for all of us. Maybe we should head back and call it a night. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow.”

They nodded in agreement and Jon signaled for the check.

Back at the hotel, they found that word had finally reached the paparazzi, and a few fans had gathered as well. Jordan watched as the guys offered a few smiles and moved swiftly from the van into the hotel. She had already learned to keep in step with them in public situations, remaining part of the group but not so close so as to arouse suspicion or provide fodder for the tabloids.

They stepped off of the elevator and onto their floor and Jon spoke up. “Jordan and I have already gone over tomorrow’s itinerary, but I think the rest of us should do a quick run through.”

“We can do it in my room,” Richie offered.

“Sounds good,” Jon said, and looked at Jordan. “You don’t need to join us unless you want to. You look like you’re ready for bed.”

Jordan smiled. “I am, actually.”

Jon smiled. “That’s what I thought. Boys, tell the lady good night.” Each of them took a moment to give her a quick hug and a kiss before heading across the hallway to Richie’s room. Jon smiled softly at her. “I won’t be long.” He kissed her on the cheek. “If you want to crawl in bed I’ll be right behind you. Don’t forget to unlock the door.”

Jordan smiled. “Hurry.” God he smelled good. She couldn’t wait to finally get him alone and finished what they’d started earlier.

She entered her room, smiling happily. She unlocked and opened the doors separating their suites, then took a bottle of water from the refrigerator and opened it, taking a long drink. She stepped into to the restroom, splashing some cold water on her face and brushing her teeth, then moved to the bedroom, where she stripped off her clothes and slid between the coolness of the sheets.

A few minutes later, Jon let himself in his room, throwing the deadbolt and turning the “do not disturb” indicator. He tossed the key card on the desk and smiled when he saw she’d opened both connecting doors. The rest of the lights were off in her suite but he could see a soft light coming from her bedroom, along with the pile of clothes lying on the floor. He removed his jacket and kicked off his shoes, then pulled his t-shirt over his head, tossing it aside. He reached to unbutton his jeans, sighing a bit at the satisfaction he felt in providing more space for his rapidly growing desire.

She lay with her eyes closed, a soft smile on her lips. He laughed quietly as he peeled off his jeans and joined her, pulling her into his arms. Her eyes opened and she smiled. “There you are,” she said sleepily, sounding almost groggy as she wrapped her arms around him.

“Oh no you don’t,” he growled, laughing. He feasted upon her then, planting a trail of kisses down her body. His tongue snaked out to taste her and he heard the moan he loved escape her lips. Her hand played in his hair for a moment, then she reached to grasp at the sheets beside her.

He continued his oral ministrations, her taste on his tongue adding fuel to his own fire. Lost in his own enjoyment, it was a moment before he realized she wasn’t being as vocal as normal. He smiled, biting the inside of her thigh lightly. “Baby, we can make noise now.” He let his tongue trail up her stomach, and moved his hips between her legs. Finally. He lifted himself above her, bringing his eyes to hers.

She was asleep.

No, no no. “Jordan? Baby?” he touched her shoulder, shaking her lightly. Nothing. Shit. He rolled off of her, then reached to stroke her face, speaking in her ear. “Baby, come on. Jordan.” Her eyes opened slightly, then closed again, and she rolled away, snuggling closely against him, spoon-style. Just what he needed—her bare ass pressing against his throbbing penis.

“Jordan, baby…” He begged, realizing his efforts were futile. He knew it wasn’t him, and she hadn’t done it on purpose. Hell, he’d fallen victim to jet lag exhaustion himself. Never in the middle of having sex, but still…

He buried his face in the pillow and screamed.

To next section...

Thursday, December 14

Chapter Twenty-four

Jordan was running late when she pulled into the valet at Hyatt Regency, but she found she didn’t care. In two days she was getting on a plane to take her to New York, where she would join Jon on another plane that would take them to Barcelona. She had this charity gala tonight and was working a half day tomorrow and then she was off for six weeks.

The gala was an annual event for the local chapter of Make-a-Wish; a place where the who’s who of philanthropy gathered in one place. Jordan planned to mingle, charm and be seen for ninety minutes; two hours at the most. She was going to make it an early night but it was definitely an appearance she had to make. The opportunities presented were just too good to pass up, regardless of the fact that her mind wasn’t totally engaged. She could fake it for a couple hours.

She was checking her coat when she felt her phone vibrating inside her purse. She pulled the phone out, smiling when she saw it was Jon. “Yes, boss?” she answered, teasingly.

He laughed. “Now if I could just get you to call me Master all would be right with the world.”

“You’re not giving up on that one, are you?”

“Not really, no. I’m keeping the faith that you’ll come around eventually.”

“Well you do whatever you have to, honey,” she answered, smiling. “I can’t talk long—I’m already late for this event.”

“Black tie?”

“Very much so, yes. Too bad you’re not here to be my arm candy,” she teased.

“Now that would be a switch,” he grinned. “So are you dressed to kill?”

“Absolutely. I’m wearing a gown and everything. Definitely not rock and roll tonight!”

“No leather, huh? Well I can definitely see you in haute couture…driving those rich old men wild.”

She laughed lightly. “Well, there is a fine line between fundraising and prostitution, I’ll admit.”

“Ooh. I’m having some very non-charitable thoughts right now. You, me, the coat room…all without messing up your hair or anything.” He was in a good mood, and anxious for her to join him.

“Okay, stop it right now,” she laughed. “I don’t need you doing that to me right before I walk into a room full of wealthy businessmen.”

“Doing what exactly?” she could hear the grin in his voice.

“That. Being you, getting me… well, you know.” Jordan found herself blushing and laughed. “And you think I’M the bad one.”

He chuckled. “I think we bring it out in each other.”

“Oh, please. You were far from innocent when I met you!” She looked around to see if anyone was within ear shot. “Did you call just to talk dirty to me or what?”

“Yes, I have it on my calendar: Get Jordan all hot and bothered and than hang up,” he laughed at his own joke. “Actually, I just wanted to say hi and see if you need anything from me before you come out on Saturday.”

“I don’t think so; I’m more or less ready to go,” she smiled. “I’m getting excited.”

“Me too, baby. I’m so glad you’re coming with me. With us, I mean,” he added, once again reminding himself she was officially an employee. “Okay, I’ll let you go to work the room or whatever it is you need to do. Do you want me to call you later in case you need an out?”

“Will you be waiting for me at the bar wearing just a trench coat?”

He laughed. “Now, see, that’s not nearly as sexy. I’d just be considered flasher.”

She joined him in his laughter. “Good point. Okay, let me go get this over with.”

“Alright. Good luck. I might call you later,” he teased. “I’ll definitely talk to you tomorrow night. Have a good time. Don’t let any of those old men grab your ass or anything.”

She told him goodbye and returned the phone to her tiny purse before entering the doors of the ballroom. She couldn’t keep from smiling; hearing his voice gave her such a sense of elation that she had decided it was far better than any drug on the market. Maybe that’s why he’s sold so many albums, she thought to herself with a laugh.

If there’s something better baby, well they haven’t found it yet.

Almost immediately she spotted Gerald Evers, and she couldn’t believe her good fortune. Evers was a semi-retired investment banker who served on various nonprofit boards. He and his wife Kay contributed generously to numerous organizations, and Jordan had worked closely with him for a key gift for the Children’s Cancer Wing at the hospital. She also had him in mind to fund another large project but needed to do a little more social cultivating before she moved in for the ask.

“Jordan, my dear,” Evers said, spotting her before she had a chance to say hello. He moved to her, embracing her briefly and giving her a light kiss on the cheek. “You look stunning!”

“Thank you,” Jordan answered. “You are looking quite dapper tonight yourself. Where is Kay?”

“She isn’t feeling well tonight, I’m afraid. But I bought a table so I decided I should at least show up,” he said with a smile. “Besides, this is such a nice event and for such a great cause. Wouldn’t want to miss it.”

Jordan nodded in agreement, accepting a glass of wine from the waiter passing by. She’d discovered it was good to hold a drink, even if she wasn’t drinking it. Otherwise she spent the entire evening turning down offers from people offering to buy her one. If she already had her own full glass, that problem was solved and she had better control of her sobriety.

They were visiting comfortably when Evers motioned to someone behind her. “Some of my guests,” he explained to her.

“Oh, of course. I shouldn’t take up all of your time,” Jordan said, prepared to move on and try to make a few more contacts.

“Nonsense, girl,” he answered. “I’d much rather visit with you than some of the old farts in this room.”

She burst out laughing at his candidness. She guessed that he had probably been quite the lady killer in his day.

“Barry, so good of you to come,” Evers said, extending his hand to a man who had walked up. The men shook hands and Evers made the introductions. “Jordan, this is Barry Mayfield, one of our legal consultants. Barry, this is Jordan Scott. She’s with the CU Medical Foundation.” Barry and Jordan shook hands politely. “Is Robert joining us as well?” Evers asked.

“Robert is right here,” said the man who appeared at Barry’s side. Jordan released Barry’s hand just as her eyes fell on his colleague, and she felt the wind rush out of her.

He looked the same, if not better, than the last time she’d seen him. His dark hair showed a touch of grey at the temples and was cut shorter, but it was still thick and wavy. He hadn’t noticed her yet; he was shaking Evers’ hand, a broad smile on his lips and dark eyes sparkling.
Damn, damn, damn.

It almost felt like slow motion when Evers introduced her, and Rob’s attention moved from the old man to her, their eyes meeting for the first time in more than five years. She saw his lips part slightly in surprise. Evers’ voice sounded distant and she fought the urge to shake her head to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.
Pull it together, Jordan.

“Actually, Jordan and I know each other,” Rob was saying. He held his hand out, his eyes acknowledging her shock. “Don’t we, Jordan?” He clasped her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “It’s wonderful to see you.” He stepped back, squeezing her hand and winking, trying to set her at ease.

“You too,” Jordan managed. You can do this. “So, you work with Barry, I take it?”

“I do,” Rob answered with a nod. “And Ev brought me on about six weeks ago for some expanded consulting work.”

Ev. He’d been working with the man less than two months and was already comfortable calling him Ev, which was a privilege Jordan was well aware Evers didn’t grant just anyone. Rob could charm his way out of a snake pit.

“So where’s that cute little blonde gal of yours?” Evers was asking. Jordan decided that the wine in her hand might come in useful after all, and took a drink.

Rob smiled, shaking his head. “She dumped me a couple weeks ago.”

“Oh? Well I’m sorry to hear that,” Evers said, obviously feeling a little awkward.

“Oh, don’t be,” Rob answered with a wave of his hand. “Besides, I probably deserved it.”

Ironic that the topic should come up here, he thought. Lisa had broken up with him after he’d accidentally called her “Jordan” one too many times. The first time had been in bed, unfortunately, but she had been willing to forgive that one—even going so far as to laugh it off, which he thought was more than generous. When it happened twice more, however, she’d been less understanding. Turned out she was more forgiving of his utterances in the heat of passion than those in daily conversation.

Then she’d found an old picture of him with Jordan that he’d discovered in a box of some old books he was sorting through. He’d tossed it in the top drawer of his desk, never thinking that Lisa might come across it. She had moved out the next day, without tears or pretense.

And here she was, standing in front of him…the other woman, looking more beautiful and confident than ever. He couldn’t help but smile to himself. That was about as close as Jordan would ever be to being anyone’s mistress, he knew. Hell, she’d been faithful to him even when he hadn’t asked her to, and early on, she’d refused to date him until she knew he’d broken up with the woman he was seeing before her. Of course, after the breakup, they’d slept together once or twice when he was seeing someone else, but he had been careful not to reveal that tidbit to her.
God he was a fuck up when it came to relationships…

Evers’ voice interrupted his thoughts. “I think we should probably find our table. It looks like they are getting ready to serve dinner.” He brought a hand to Jordan’s waist. “Join us, won’t you? You can take Kay’s place.”

Jordan looked quickly at Rob, who cocked his head slightly, lifting an eyebrow. It was a motion she had once found endearing. “No, no, I can’t…” she began.

“Nonsense!” Evers answered. “I won’t take no for an answer.” Jordan realized she was stuck. The last thing she wanted to do was insult Gerald Evers. They moved to the table, a prominent one at the front of the room, and took their seats. Evers sat on her right and Rob on her left, with Barry on the other side of Rob. They were joined by the bank president and his wife.

It turned out not to be too awkward, much to Jordan’s relief. As much as she hated to admit it, she and Rob were comfortable together. Both being professional people, they managed to handle the situation smoothly. She was surprised at how quickly her nerves settled. She simply avoided too much one-on-one discussion with him and tried not to look directly into his eyes more than necessary. The conversation at the table was spirited, and she decided she was getting some valuable interaction with the bank president that might prove useful later.

The speeches had been given and the dessert plates were being cleared as the band members took their place. Jordan looked at her watch. Damn. She’d hoped to make a few more contacts but she’d really missed the crucial mingling time.

The band began a set of standards and show tunes. Jordan accepted the offer of coffee, trying to ascertain when she could make a graceful exit. Just then she felt her purse vibrating in her lap. Discretely, she opened the clasp and reached in, turning the phone to better see the Caller ID window. It was Jon. She stifled a laugh but didn’t answer. A few minutes later it vibrated again, and then she heard a quiet beep denoting a text message had been left. She smiled to herself. He was having quite a good time. Rob was engaged in a conversation with Barry and Evers was chatting with the bank president, so she opened the phone to retrieve the message.

re: sat. wanna join the mile hi club?

She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing out loud. She turned the phone off and closed her purse, just as Evers was turning his attention to her.

“Robert, I think you should ask this lovely lady to dance,” he was saying.

Rob smiled. “Oh you do? Well I think that could be arranged.”

“That's really not necessary,” Jordan responded.

“Go ahead, Jordan,” Evers said. “The man’s nursing a broken heart.” He laughed. “I’d take you out there myself but I don’t dance with anyone but my wife unless I have her permission!” He laughed heartily.

Rob stood, pulling Jordan’s chair out for her. “Come on; one dance for old time’s sake.”

They walked out onto the dance floor, just as the band struck up “As Time Goes By.” Jordan let Rob wrap an arm around her waist and pull her to him, a respectable distance between their bodies.

Her heart was pounding a little. It had been a long time since she felt his arms around her and it was a bit unnerving. She was close enough to smell his cologne and the familiarity of his scent added to her discomfort. She finally brought her eyes to his, simply because she felt awkward not doing so.

“You look great, Jordan,” he said. Amazingly good, in fact. He could feel her trembling slightly beneath his fingers.

“One dance and that’s it,” she answered, refusing to return the smile that was on his lips.

“Okay,” he replied. He was silent for a moment. “You didn’t return my call.”

“I saw no reason to,” she said simply. She held his eyes, determined not to reveal an ounce of the emotion she felt rumbling inside.

He nodded. “So where is he tonight?”

“Where is who?” Jordan answered, confused.

“The man who has you looking like this.”

“What are you talking about? Looking like what?”

“So confident, so sexy,” he smiled softly. “So amazing.”

“Well, thank you. But why does all of that have to translate to a man?”

“Well, it doesn’t, I suppose, but if it’s a woman I am REALLY sorry we’re not together any more.” He grinned and she couldn’t help but smile back, shaking her head.

“Sorry to disappoint you, but I haven’t suddenly decided to start dating women. Not yet anyway.”

“Yeah, I figured the idea was too good to be true,” he teased. “Seriously, though. Whoever he is, I hope he’s everything you deserve.”

“Why are you so sure there’s anyone? Maybe I’m fantastic all on my own.” Jordan was not comfortable having such an intimate conversation with this person who had once known her inside and out. She also didn’t want him to think that there was room for him in her life ever again, regardless of whether or not she was involved with someone else. Yes he was handsome, charming, and successful. But she’d fallen for his charms one too many times.
Fool me once…

“You are absolutely fantastic on your own. I knew that the day I met you,” he paused. “But I also know what love looks like on you.”

He held her eyes, looking for any hint that he was wrong. She looked away, her discomfort obvious. Finally she spoke. “Maybe I’m just having really good sex.”

Rob laughed. “Well, that works too. Although the two combined tend to create the most satisfying relationship.” She looked away again, and he wondered if she was remembering some of their own moments of passion. He certainly was.

Suddenly the touch of his fingers on her back and the feel of his hand on hers was a bit overwhelming. The song came to an end and she pulled away from him.

He regarded her for a moment, admiring her determination to make it clear that regardless of her relationship status, she was happy in her life; a life without him. He couldn’t help but wonder about the man she was spending her time with—and he was convinced there was one. He was surprised at the jealousy he felt, but he knew he had no claim on her, that he had relinquished that right a long time ago.

He also couldn’t help but wonder how different things might have been if he hadn’t been such an complete and total fool.

As she turned to leave the dance floor, he let his eyes scan her. The gown she was wearing fell gently around her curves but left enough to the imagination that it was respectable. Unfortunately for him, he could remember what was underneath—and the sexual aura radiating from her was hard to miss, even if she wasn’t aware of it herself. Not to mention her perfume was lingering in his senses. This was definitely going to lead to a sleepless night.

He moved beside her, wanting to catch her before they returned to the table. “Jordan, look…whatever the reason you’re doing so well, I’m happy for you. Really. But if you ever need a friend you know where I am.” He realized a bit of levity might be good. “Or a good lawyer.”

“So noted,” she answered. She paused, her eyes finally softening. “You look good, Rob. I’m sorry to hear that things didn’t work out with your girlfriend. But I’m sure you won’t be sleeping alone for long.” She said it without malice but with the knowledge that she was probably right. Rob was never at a loss for female companionship. She could still remember him teasing her about how many women he’d pissed off when he started dating her exclusively. As if to remind her how lucky she was to be the chosen one.

Suddenly she knew she needed to go; she didn’t want to look at him anymore, or be reminded of what they’d had. She needed to get away from him before the memory of how badly he’d hurt her dimmed in the light of his charm and his ability to see inside her so clearly.

This trip to Europe with Jon couldn’t come at a better time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jon stepped out of the airport limousine at JFK, tipping the driver and gathering his luggage. The journey from curbside to check-in and then to the gate was always a challenging one; as long as he could keep moving it wasn’t bad but waiting in line always sucked. He wasn’t in the mood for autograph signing or chit-chat with strangers. If he got lucky the people next to him in line wouldn’t recognize him—or wouldn’t care, which was just as good.

Fortunately, he was able to walk right to the first-class counter and breezed through priority security, giving himself ample time before the plane took off. He hadn’t spoken to Jordan since the night before, and they’d agreed to meet in the airline’s private club if time allowed; otherwise they’d see each other on the plane.

He entered the doors of the club and surveyed the room, smiling when he saw her lounging comfortably in one of the chairs near the fire. She was sipping a glass of wine and watching the flames while the firelight danced on her face.

He snuck up behind her, bending to whisper in her ear. “Care if I join you?”

She resisted the urge to smile, breathing him in and enjoying the warmth that rushed through her at both his scent and the sound of his voice. “Well, actually, I’m waiting for someone.” She looked up at him.

He nodded slowly. “Oh, really? A man?”

“Yes,” she responded. “A very intelligent and handsome man.”

Jon took a seat in the adjoining chair. “Wow. He must be some guy if you’re willing to wait for him. A beautiful woman like you shouldn’t be alone in a place like this.”

“Oh, he’s something, all right,” she smiled, bringing her wine glass to her lips.

“Sounds like it,” Jon answered, signaling the bartender to bring him a glass as well. “So what’s your favorite thing about this guy?”

Jordan laughed softly. Where do I start? She looked at him; his eyes were twinkling and he had just the hint of a smile. “I like his mouth.”

“I see. And why is that, exactly?”

“Well, he has this amazing smile. Almost unreal, truth be told—his teeth are almost too perfect. It’s the kind of smile that can get a girl in trouble.”

“Wow. Sounds dangerous. Maybe you should steer clear of this guy.”

“I know, I know,” she said, shaking her head. “And then his lips…”

“Mmm-hmm?” Jon asked, enjoying their interplay. He accepted the glass of wine from the waitress and took a sip. Jordan waited for her to walk away before continuing.

“I love the way his lips taste—especially when he’s drinking wine.”

He laughed then, impressed with her timing. “So has this guy ever mentioned that you have pretty incredible lips yourself?”

“You know, now that you mention it, I’m not sure that he has.” She pretended to think about it. “Not directly anyway.”

“What do you mean, not directly?”

She lowered her voice and leaned closer to him. “Let’s just say that when I wrap my lips around his dick, he’s pretty forthcoming with his appreciation.”

He groaned quietly. “Okay, you win this one.” He set his glass down and stood, pulling her up with him and then into his arms. They hugged tightly and he kissed her quickly, the same kiss he’d give any female friend. “You do realize we have a nine hour flight in front of us, don’t you?”

“Yes. And this is bad…why?” She answered, resisting the temptation to brush his hair back with her fingers.

“Well unless you want me really grouchy, you tease, don’t pull out the full court press.” He winked at her. “It’s bad enough that I can’t greet you the way I’d like. But unless we have the first class cabin all to ourselves and I can bribe the flight attendant to leave us alone for twenty minutes or so…”

She sighed. “Point taken.” Still, she couldn’t help but smile. “I’m just really happy to see you.”

He returned her smile and brought a hand up to smooth her hair back, then pulled her to him, kissing her on the temple. “Back at you, baby,” he said softly.

To next section...

Monday, December 4

Chapter Twenty-three

Jordan sighed, closing her laptop in resignation. She had been determined to get some work done on the flight but her mind kept wandering and she eventually gave up. She was finally on her way home from a 10-day trip that had taken her to visit several donors in the Midwest and on the east coast, and her mind couldn’t help but stray to the last time she’d taken an extended business trip—and everything that had happened since.

It had been almost four weeks since the Las Vegas concert, and she hadn’t seen Jon since. The band was taking a break before the European leg, and they had taken care of all her necessary paperwork either in Las Vegas or by e-mail—she was now on a first name basis with staff members in the corporate accounting and personnel office. It truly was a giant corporation, she’d discovered. She appreciated the fact that all appropriate protocol was being followed, however. For all intents and purposes she was simply an employee, even if it were only a short-term assignment. She’d already received a new laptop and state-of-the-art digital camera and her first per diem check—a whopping $40 for the Las Vegas show.

Her preparations for extended leave from her regular job were keeping her very busy, which was good, because she found herself missing Jon more than she wanted to admit. They had arranged a meeting in Chicago two weeks earlier, but she had to cancel when a major contributor suddenly became available to meet with her after numerous cancellations.

Jon had sounded almost as disappointed as she was when she had told him. “Shit,” he’d said. “I even booked the same room at the Drake. So much for the best-laid plans.” He’d sighed. “It’s okay, baby; the next month will go by faster than we think.”

His schedule was even busier than hers, she knew. Between the commitments of his other business endeavors, his foundation and his family, she knew he had little room for her. She’d made a mistake of entering his name into her Google News Alerts and yesterday had been slapped in the face by a picture of him and his wife at a charity gala of some sort.

Reality. She understood and accepted it without question, but unfortunately it didn’t keep her from thinking about him when her own pace slowed.

And today… well, today was one day she’d practically sell her soul to be with him.

She shook her head, opening her laptop again and clicking on her calendar and to-do list. Dry cleaning, bills, shopping… a veterinarian appointment for Brando, her annual ultrasound. She made a note to reschedule it, even though she’d already done so twice in the past six months. She knew she’d receive a scolding from her gynecologist but there certainly was no reason it couldn’t wait until she returned from Europe. She wasn’t her mother. She closed her eyes, realizing the irony.

She could still picture it as if it were yesterday, as if sixteen years hadn’t passed. Jordan and Morgan had stood vigil beside their mother’s bed for what seemed like an eternity, but on that day—that day, of all days—they could tell the end was imminent. The doctors were managing her pain with morphine, but the drug had their mother so incoherent she could barely speak. Each daughter held one of her hands and fought back the tears as they said good-bye, begging her to let go. Giving her permission to leave them.

There was no cake that year, no presents, no secret drunkfest with her girlfriends. Instead she turned twenty inside the grey, medicinal walls of St. Anthony’s Medical Center. She dealt with coroners, funeral parlors and death certificates.

A year later, she’d turned twenty-one in grand style—drinking herself into a stupor and fucking some stranger in a UPS truck that the driver had foolishly left unlocked outside the back door of the bar. They’d left the used condom behind, along with a five-dollar bill, thinking they were quite humorous. Later she’d thrown up in the parking lot before passing out in the back seat of Tina’s car.

Eventually she became less reckless and even learned to enjoy her birthday again. She felt a smile form on her lips as she remembered her twenty-fifth birthday, with Rob—how he’d taken what little money he had and treated her to a romantic dinner at the Russian Tea Room and a touring company version of Cats.

Last year she and David had gone to Hawaii and the year before, to Jamaica. He’d left a voice message for her today, saying that he just hoped she wasn’t spending the day alone, and she had appreciated his kind words.

Her life had been such a whirlwind that it actually hadn’t occurred to her when she was setting up her donor meetings. It wasn’t until her assistant brought her the itinerary that she took notice. She was getting in fairly early, however, and she and Tina were planning dinner at her place. The original plan had been for her to go there and let Kevin do the cooking, but Tina had called earlier in the day to let her know that Kev had caught a nasty stomach flu bug from his nephew, and he was in no shape to entertain.

“Now I know I don’t cook as well, but I was thinking I could pull one of Kev’s lasagnas out of the freezer, make a salad and open a bottle of wine,” Tina had suggested. “I’ll give Morgan and Liz a call and maybe they can come down too. We’ll play Trivial Pursuit or something.”

Jordan had smiled. That sounded perfect, actually. A night with the girls was just what she needed. She certainly didn’t need to be wallowing in self-pity…either from distant memories or current circumstances.

So what if she was thirty-six and still single? It’s not as if her biological clock meant anything; that shipped sailed a long time ago. No—her life wasn’t where she thought it would be at this age. But then again, whose life is ever where they think it will be? She chastised herself silently. Things could be a lot worse. Hell, in less than two weeks she was jetting off to Europe to tour with an internationally-acclaimed rock band. To tell their story. And fuck their lead singer.

She thought back to that night in Las Vegas—the rush she’d felt from having sex with him in a public place; so dangerous and sexy. They’d decided to continue the tryst, grabbing a limo for a leisurely tour along the Strip. Their talk was dirty and teasing, and she had unzipped his jeans, stroking him slowly, until he pulled her to straddle his lap. “It’s your turn to fuck me,” he’d said, with an evil grin. She had ridden him slowly and steadily, until his breathing was labored, his fingers clenching at her thighs, then she’d stopped. She looked down at him and smiled lustfully. “How you doin’ baby?” He’d laughed softly and reached to pull her mouth to his.

“You are a very, very bad girl,” he said, running a thumb across her lips. “Who is making me a very, very bad boy.” He’d slid his thumb into her mouth, wetting it, then lowered his hand to gently massage her clitoris.

She found herself flushing at the memory—one she’d relived more than once since it had happened. She and Rob had been bold, but never that bold. Of course she had been younger then and more inhibited. But Jon made her feel so at ease with her sexuality, and the rawness of their passion was more than she’d ever imagined was possible. She smiled wryly at the thought that Rob would be so proud of her. He’d always encouraged her to let herself go more—that as good as it was, it could be better if she’d only tear down those walls.

Well they sure has hell had come tumbling down with Jon.

Rob. Asshole. She hadn’t returned his call, which she knew was a good thing, but hearing his voice after all this time had shaken her more than she cared to admit. Fortunately she hadn’t heard from him again. She was proud of her strength, and knew not calling him was the right decision. Hell, the guy was engaged to someone else and still had the balls to call her. She knew that having the distraction of Jon and the trip to Europe was saving her a huge amount of personal turmoil and heartache.

She tried not to think about the fact that she was living a fantasy that would eventually come to an end. She told herself she would be okay when the time came, but deep inside she was scared of what she’d feel when it happened. She rationalized, however, that nothing lasts forever. It was enjoying the journey that mattered. And making sure no one got hurt along the way.

She heard the pilot’s voice announcing their impending arrival and closed her laptop, preparing for landing. Once inside the terminal, she called Tina to let her know, and her friend responded that the lasagna was in the oven and should be close to done by the time she got home. She smiled as she headed towards baggage claim. Suddenly she was ravenous, and she decided there were few things she’d rather do than spend the evening with her best friend and what little family she had.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The sexy sound of a saxophone greeted Jordan as she opened the door to her condo, immediately followed by the aroma of Italian spices and the warmth of a kitchen in use. She smiled, wondering what CD Tina was playing, because it didn’t sound familiar. Maybe she had turned on the smooth jazz station or something.

“Hello?” she called, hanging her coat on the hook behind the door and sliding her boots off. She decided to leave the luggage in the hall for the time being. She strode into the kitchen, noting the table set for two. Shoot. Apparently Morgan and Liz weren’t able to make it. Before she could let herself get too disappointed, however, she noticed an envelope propped up against a bottle of wine, her name written in Tina’s flowing handwriting. She smiled and picked it up, pouring herself a glass of wine before opening it. Inside was a card that said simply, “Happy Birthday. You can thank me later.”
What the hell?

“Tina, what’s going on?” Jordan said, moving toward the living room, trying to locate her friend. There was a fire in the fireplace and Brando and Abby were contentedly curled up on the rug in front of it.

It was then that she noticed him lounging comfortably on the couch.

“Welcome home, baby.”

She stood in stunned silence, trying to decide if she was dreaming. He rose from the couch and moved to her, lifting her chin with one finger so her eyes met his. “And Happy Birthday.” He kissed her softly, then smiled. “Surprise.”

“What…how…” Jordan stammered.

Jon noted the slight tears forming in her eyes and smiled softly. “Well that’s not the reaction I was hoping for. If you want, I can leave,” he teased.

She laughed then. “The hell you will.” She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him hungrily. A couple minutes later they came up for air.

His hands wandered down to cup her ass and he grinned. “That’s more like it.” They swayed together to the music—a sultry version of “Europa” which was followed by the blatantly sex-filled “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” Jordan laughed.

What is this music?”

Jon grinned. “You like it? I made it just for you. You know, to feed your fetish.” He winked at her. “It wasn’t easy, I’ll have you know—finding the sexiest sax music out there was quite the endeavor, and I did it all myself. I should get bonus points for this one, even…it’s Seger’s sax player.” He ran a hand through her hair and brought his lips to her ear. “I’ll take that orgasm anytime.”

She couldn’t help but moan a little as his mouth trailed down her neck to bite lightly at her shoulder. “I can pretty much guarantee it,” she answered. “But can we eat first? I’m starving.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tina accepted the glass of wine Kevin was holding out to her, and scooted over so he could join her on the couch in front of their own fireplace.

“So how are you doing, you little conspirator, you?” Kevin asked, laughing. She looked at him and shook her head with a smile.

“Honestly? Like I’ve gotten drawn into some sort of television drama. Shit like this doesn’t happen in real life.”

It was just under a week earlier that she’d returned home from running errands to find a message scratched out on the notepad by the phone. “Call John. 732-468-9121.”

She’d torn the page from the pad, puzzled. John who? She didn’t recognize the phone number. Kevin had come up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “So tell me about this mystery man.”

“I have no idea who this is,” she’d answered. “What did he say?”

Kevin shrugged. “Well, he did seem a little shocked when I answered the phone. Guess he thought he had your cell or something. Said he is a friend of Jordan’s. You don’t know him?”

Tina’s eyes opened wide. “Oh. Wow.” Shit. She realized her reaction only piqued Kevin’s interest, so she tried to scale it back. “Yeah, I know him. I mean, not well, but I’ve met him…” Damn.

“Is this somebody she’s seeing?” Kevin was a little surprised he hadn’t heard about it.

“Well, sort of. Not really. I mean…” God she sucked at lying.

“Okay,” Kevin said slowly. He wasn’t sure what the big mystery was but he could tell it was freaking his wife out a little. “Well, are you going to call him?”

“Sure. As soon as I put away the groceries.”
And you’re not in the room.

Kevin laughed. “How about I put away the groceries and you can go in the other room and have some privacy?”

Bless you. She went into the bedroom, pulling her cell out of her purse. There was no mistaking his voice when he answered.

“Hi. It’s Tina,” she paused. I can’t believe this. “You called?”

He laughed. “Yeah, sorry about catching your husband. For some reason I assumed it was your cell number.”

“How did you get any of my numbers?” Tina asked, puzzled.

“From Jordan’s paperwork. You’re on her ‘in case of emergency’ list.”

Oh. Well okay. “So, what can I do for you?”

“I’m hoping to maybe surprise her on Thursday,” he’d said. “So she doesn’t come home to an empty house.”

Tina was surprised. “I can’t believe she told you.”

Jon laughed. “Well, she didn’t, actually. I saw that on her paperwork, too.” Tina realized he just meant her birthday. He didn’t know the rest. “I suppose you know that we had to cancel Chicago,” he’d said simply. He was right—and she knew Jordan had been very disappointed. Between that, the Rob thing, and all the emotions that accompanied her birthday, she decided that perhaps a little Jongasm was just what Jordan needed.

She’d sighed. “How can I help?”

When she came out of the bedroom, Kevin was watching football and having a beer. “So do you want to tell me what’s going on or is it a secret?”

She laughed, joining him on the couch and reaching for his beer. “You’re not even going to believe it.”

When she finished the story he shook his head. “Wow. Our Jordan and…”

“Yep. Our little Jordan is living out the fantasy of millions of women across the world.” She paused. “Except for me, of course.”

Kevin laughed. “Of course, not you. Liar. Hell, I’ve seen the guy. I’D probably do him.”

Tina had burst out laughing then, hugging her husband. “We’re probably going to need your help, too.”

“No problem,” he replied. “Just tell me what you need.”

She and Jon had coordinated details by phone over the next few days, and she had let Jordan continue to believe they were having dinner at her place until that morning. She was waiting for Jon when the limo dropped him off in front of the Four Seasons and had driven him to Jordan’s place.

Kevin had generously whipped up a fresh lasagna for the occasion, and after sliding it into the oven, she and Jon set about the rest of the preparations. She was chopping vegetables and he was tearing lettuce when he spoke up.

“You don’t trust me, do you?” His blue eyes were sparkling when she looked at him.

She gave a small sigh. “It’s not that I don’t trust you. If that were the case I sure as hell wouldn’t have let you in her house.” She put the knife down and reached for her wine glass. “It’s just that she’s been through so much. I don’t want anyone causing her any more pain.”

Jon nodded. “Fair enough. But would you believe me if I told you I feel the same way?”

She looked at him. His eyes were soft and sincere. “I suppose. But given the circumstances, don’t you think the two of you are playing with fire?” And what about your wife? Tina could scarcely think of how shattered she’d be if she were to discover that Kevin had another woman in his life.

“Jordan is a big girl, and I’m a big boy. We know what we’re doing.”

“Do you?” Tina challenged. She held his eyes and he was the first to look away, reaching for his own wine glass and taking a large swig before bringing his eyes back to hers. When he did, his voice was a bit resigned.

“Not really. We’re just kind of making it up as we go,” he admitted. “But that doesn’t mean we’re being stupid.”

Tina regarded him for a moment. “I guess the part I really don’t get is why. Why Jordan? And why still? I mean, the Chicago thing I can sort of understand. Then when you were here, even. But why continue it? You pretty much have your pick of women wherever you go, don’t you?”

“Sure, if that’s what I wanted. But it’s not. And you know what else? I couldn’t have picked her up in a bar, or after a show. She’s not some groupie, and you know it.” He shrugged. “It just happened.”

Tina gave a small laugh. “Yeah, that’s what she says.”

“I don’t know what else to tell you, but… look, I like making her smile. And frankly, I think she needs more laughter in her life.”

Tina smiled. “Not to mention orgasms.”

He laughed, nodding. “Exactly. So I want to keep doing it. For as long as she’ll let me, anyway.”

Tina realized that he understood her friend more than she’d thought. If he didn’t truly care about Jordan, he wouldn’t be here. It occurred to her that she had no idea what kind of relationship he had with his wife and it was not her place to pass judgment. In addition, he was taking far too many risks to be setting Jordan up for massive heartbreak—not without setting himself up for some serious trouble as well. He wasn’t using her.

“Can I ask you another question?” He decided to take advantage of the warmth she was showing him.

She picked up the knife and resumed her chopping. “I suppose.”

“Where is he now?”


“The guy who broke her heart so badly.”

“She told you about Rob?”

He shook his head. “No. But I can tell.”

“He’s around, but she hasn’t seen him in years. He called recently but she never returned his call. I think—hope—she’s finally closed that door. Thank god.”

Jon nodded. “That’s partly why you let me come, isn’t it…to help keep that door closed?”

Tina smiled softly. Smart guy. “Jon, I think there is something you should know.”

“What’s that?” he asked, moving the salad bowl closer to her so she could scrape the vegetables in.

“Today isn’t just Jordan’s birthday.” She told him then, everything she knew about that day sixteen years earlier. When she finished, he found himself blinking back tears.

“Holy shit,” he said, shaking his head. “She never told me that. I knew about her mom but not when it happened.”

“She doesn’t talk about it. I found out from her sister that birthdays were a very big deal in their house—their mom totally went overboard for them, even more so than on Christmas; she said it was the one day they didn’t have to share with anyone. So to have her die on Jordan’s birthday…” Tina sighed. “Anyway… that is also why I let you come. Because I like to see her smile, too.”

Jon nodded, leaning in to kiss Tina briefly on the cheek. “She’s lucky to have you. And I promise not to let you down.”

She smiled. “I’m counting on it. But please, don’t let on that you know.”

“I won’t. But I’m glad you told me,” he answered. Tina’s trust in him meant a lot and he didn’t want to prove her wrong.

Tina’s cell rang. She retrieved it and smiled. “It’s her.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“This wine is amazing,” Jordan said, contentedly. She smiled at Jon across the table. Dinner had been marvelous and they both had to fight the urge for seconds, neither wanting to fill up so much that sleep would come too soon.

“Isn’t it?” he agreed. “It’s from my own private stash. I bought a couple cases in Italy a few years ago. It’s hard to find in restaurants now, and when you do it’s about $1500 a bottle. I got lucky.”

She laughed. “And subsequently, so did I. Thanks for sharing; I feel pretty special.”

“Oh, baby, I’m just getting started,” he answered, smiling slyly as he rose from the table. “I’ll be right back.” He disappeared into the bedroom. She loved how comfortable he was in her home. She was a little surprised Tina had been willing to conspire with him but she was glad it happened. She owed her friend big time.

When he reappeared, he was carrying a large gift bag. “Grab the wine and come over here,” he said, setting the bag on the floor in front of the fireplace. He pulled the quilt from the back of the couch and spread it on the floor, then grabbed a few pillows and tossed them down as well.

She did as she was told, joining him in front of the fire. “What do you have up your sleeve?”

“Pretty much just spoiling you, that’s all,” he said with a grin. He slid the bag towards her. “Go ahead.”

She set her wine glass down and released the ribbons holding the handles of the bag together. She reached in, pulling out the first thing she touched. She removed the tissue and her breath caught in her throat. It was a first edition copy of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. “Oh my god. Where did you find this?” They were extremely rare, she knew. And worth thousands of dollars.

“Baby, you should know by now that I have my ways,” he teased. “So you like it?”

“Are you kidding? I love this story. But how did you know?”

“Well, last time I was here I noticed you have both the DVD in your cabinet and, from what I can tell anyway, the entire saga in your book case.”

“Yes…I, uh…” he noticed then that her voice was shaking and saw a tear slide down her cheek. “My mom used to get them for me on my birthday; I got one a year until I had them all.”

Fuck. There was no way for him to know this but the last thing he wanted to do was bring up any sad memories. Especially in light of what Tina had told him earlier. Shit.

“Oh, god, Jordan. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

She shook her head adamantly, wiping the tear from her face. “No, no. It’s wonderful. It’s perfect.” She smiled then. “You have no idea. Thank you.”

“You are very welcome,” he answered, relief flooding through his veins. “Okay, there’s more.”

Next she pulled out a small cedar box. Nestled inside was a black leather necklace, with a pendant similar to some she’d seen him wear. She grinned. “This is very rock and roll, I like it.”

He returned the grin. “Well, that’s just part of it, actually." He stood then, walking quickly to the bedroom. “Close your eyes,” he shouted, and she laughed, doing as he asked. He returned, and she felt him sit back down beside her. “Okay.”

She opened her eyes and gasped. It was a gorgeous black leather shirt—not unlike the one she’d seen him wear on stage, but in a feminine version. She reached out to touch the soft leather. “Wow,” she said, shaking her head. “Jon, this is gorgeous. She noted the designer label. “It’s also way too much. All of it.”

He shook his head, smiling. “No it’s not.” He leaned forward to kiss her. “Besides, you deserve it.” He let his finger brush her cheek slightly. “Okay, next.”

“There’s more?” Jordan asked, astounded.

He laughed. “Yes, there is.”

She smiled at the twinkle in his eye. “I can’t believe you,” she said, reaching into the bag. It felt almost empty, but she discovered a small, light lingerie box at the bottom of the bag. She chuckled. “And what do we have here?”

He smiled innocently. “Open it and see.”

She pulled the lid off and folded the tissue back to reveal an elaborately embroidered red bra and panty set. She laughed.

He grinned. “Okay, I’ll admit it. That one’s more for me than for you.”

Her fingers played on the lace. “I think maybe I should try it on… you know, make sure it fits.” She smiled softly at him, suddenly anxious to please him as much as he had pleased her.

“You do that,” he answered, feeling enormous satisfaction at the happiness he saw in her eyes. “And I’ll get desert.” He winked at her. “And then I’ll let you take advantage of me right here in front of the fire.”

To next section...

Sunday, November 26

Chapter Twenty-two

He regarded her for a moment, reaching to stroke her cheek gently. There was a need in her eyes that he hadn’t seen before, something beyond the lust they’d been feeling for each other almost from the moment they’d met.

“Okay,” he said softly, taking her hand and leading her to the bedroom. It was the first time since they’d sat together in the tub in Chicago that he saw more than a hint of her vulnerability, and it frightened him a bit. Whatever was causing this obvious turmoil, he was determined to chase it away.

He undressed her slowly, pulling her shirt over her head and tossing it aside as he brought his lips to brush lightly upon her collarbone. He undid the clasp of her bra and pushed the straps off her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor, and she felt the heat of his breath upon her and then, his tongue dancing lightly across her nipple. He planted a trail of kisses slowly up the valley between her breasts and across her throat.

It aches, it breaks
It takes your breath away…

She felt a hand closing gently over one breast as the fingers of the other twined in her hair, and heard his whisper in her ear. “It’s okay baby, I’m here. You’re safe with me.”

He brought his mouth to hers, sucking and then biting lightly at her lower lip before letting his tongue slip through to tease lightly at hers.

Baby, I don't want to fall in love with you
I try, try, try but I can't get around the truth
Please don't say my name, give this heart a break
I don't want to make the same mistake

He pulled back, his eyes soft and steady on hers as his hands gently tugged on the buttons
on her jeans. He slid them down over her hips before scooping her up in his arms and laying her on the bed. His eyes held hers as he reached to undo his own jeans.

It’s too late, I’ve crossed that line.

He let his mouth explore her—his lips, tongue and breath tracing a path that left her longing for more, teasing but not actually touching the place he knew would eventually give her release.

They were both trembling when he finally lifted himself above her, his desire for her almost overwhelming. Her lips parted slightly and a slight gasp emanated from them when he entered her, and he watched in satisfaction, knowing her desire for the real him was genuine. He held himself there, their breathing in tandem, until he felt her hips moving against his and he finally began to stroke in an out, slowly and without urgency.

She pulled his mouth to hers, craving the taste of him on her lips as badly as she needed to feel him inside her. At that point, nothing else in the world mattered to her but the feel of this person who had come into her life and made her feel whole for the first time in more than a decade. It wasn’t the rock star she needed. It was the man…the man who read her, body and soul, more than anyone before him. She wrapped herself around him, pulling him deeper, and her moans were soft in his ear.

“That’s my girl,” he said softly. “Let yourself go…feel me, Jordan. Give yourself to me.” He slowed for a moment, his face inches from hers and his eyes reflecting her own desire. “God baby, you feel so good.” He kissed her again, then moved to whisper in her ear. “Let me make you happy.”

He began moving again then, subtly increasing his rhythm, and gradually she felt the wave cresting. “Jon…oh, god…I’m …please…I…oh god…oh, Jon…”

He loved the sound of his name on her lips as she came—so uninhibited and honest, for him and him alone. Her climax triggered his own, and he lifted himself on his arms above her, his triceps trembling as he sunk as deeply inside her as could. His head fell back, a low moan escaping his lips as he felt her vaginal walls milk him until there was nothing left and he collapsed against her, his heart pounding almost as loudly as hers.

“Damn, baby,” he said, easing himself from her with a groan and falling on the bed beside her. “I may be the one who passes out now.” He pulled her into his arms, smoothing her hair away from her face. “Unless you need more,” he said with a smile.

She laughed shakily. “More? I’m not sure I could handle any more,” she answered, just as the slight tremor of an aftershock passed through her.

He chuckled, squeezing her tightly. “Oh I don’t know about that…I’ve yet to see you stop at just one. If need be I’ll bring in the reserve troops to finish the job.”

Jordan shook her head and sighed contentedly. “No. I’m happy right here, like this. I don’t need anything else.”
Only you.

“Well okay. I guess my tongue can use a break anyway,” he teased, and she blushed, pinching his side.

“I’ve never said you have to do that!”

“I know you haven’t,” he answered, running his hand down her side to rest on her hip. “But I love making you feel good… and I love the way you taste.”

“Jon!” she said, the blush deepening.

He laughed at her sudden coyness. “What? You can’t be surprised. Are you going to try to tell me you don’t like going down on me?”

She smiled, shaking her head. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“We’re naked and both just had earth-shattering orgasms. What do you want to talk about, gas prices?”

She laughed. “Those are my choices? Gas prices or fellatio?”

He grinned. “Pretty much, yeah. So what’s it going to be?”

She nodded, trying to appear serious. “Well, in that case…let’s just say I’m really happy I have an energy-efficient car.”

“Oh you are, are you?” he laughed quietly and brought his hand to her chin, lifting her lips to his.

“Mmm-hmm,” she answered, before kissing him. She ran her fingers through his hair and gazed at him, and he was comforted to see no trace of whatever had so disturbed her earlier. She smiled softly. “But yes, I love going down on you.”

He chuckled. “Thank god.”

She reached to toy with the tiny pendant dangling from the leather necklace at his throat. “And I think I want to go to Europe with you.”

He felt a small rush of euphoria through his veins at her answer. “Really?”

She returned his smile, nodding. “Yes. I mean, I have to work out a few logistics but...” She paused, trying to clarify in her mind why she was saying yes. “It’s a great opportunity, and it sounds like a lot of fun.”
Not because I want…need…to be with you...

His eyes were soft. “Good, I’m glad. You won’t regret it, I promise.” It was a big promise, he knew, but he was determined to keep it. He just wasn’t ready to give her up yet.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“A tour biographer?” Tina repeated the words she’d just heard, her strides on the elliptical machine slowing for a moment. “What does that mean?”

Jordan nodded, increasing the speed on her own machine. She and Tina had met at the gym after work and Jordan was going over the events of her weekend. “Pretty much what it sounds like. I’ll take notes and pictures and try to compile it into a biography of sorts. What they decide to do with it when I’m done is up to them.”

“For a whole month?” Tina was having a hard time making sense of this one. Hell, she hadn’t really been able to make sense of any of it since she’d found out. But now her friend was going to take an extended vacation from a job she loved to follow a rock band to Europe and continue a torrid affair she was having with their most prominent member.

“Around that. We haven’t worked out the specifics yet, and they don’t leave for the European leg for several weeks.” Jordan shrugged as if it were no big deal.

“Listen to you. You don’t think this is just a little crazy?”

“What? It’s a great job offer.”

Tina burst out laughing. “Yeah…a job offer with excellent fringe benefits.”


“So…all I’m saying is that…” Tina paused. What exactly was she saying? “Would you go if you weren’t sleeping with him?”

“Absolutely. In fact I would have accepted it faster, to be perfectly honest,” Jordan replied, reaching for her water bottle. “The fact that we have a personal relationship actually made me hesitate.”

“So you admit it.”

“Admit what?”

“That you and he have a relationship.” Tina looked pointedly at her friend.

Jordan sighed. “Well, not like that. Of course it’s a relationship. I mean… we’re more like…what’s that expression? Friends with benefits.”

“Oh, is that what you’re calling it? Friends? So tell me, dear, how many other people know about this friendship?” Jordan was silent so she continued. “That’s what I thought. So answer me this: do you think he would have offered you the job if you weren’t having sex with him?”

Ouch. Jordan looked away for a moment, before bring her eyes back to Tina’s. “Probably not. But it isn’t like someone else is losing out on the job because of it.”

“I’m not saying that. And I don’t care. I’m just a little worried.” Tina stopped exercising. “I just don’t want you to end up getting hurt—directly or indirectly.”

Jordan hit the “stop” button and waited for the machine to cease moving. “I know. But really, you don’t need to worry. It is what it is—nothing more. And what it is right now is fun. And it IS a good job offer. When it’s over I’ll have some great memories and a nice addition for my resume.”

“Okay, okay,” Tina answered. But something still didn’t add up. It just wasn’t like Jordan to run off with a married man, even if it was only temporary. Even if the man was a multi-platinum rock star. She was usually so much more grounded than that. But then again…that mega-watt smile… those eyes… that ass. She could hardly blame Jordan for being a little strung out on the guy. She just hoped her friend was strong enough to handle whatever might get thrown her way. Tina was afraid that “what it was” was a hell of a lot more than Jordan was willing to admit.

“Come on,” Tina said out loud. “Kev is making dinner and you’re invited.”

Jordan laughed. “I am SO there.” Kevin was a former chef who had sold his Italian bistro when he decided the restaurant was sucking the life out of both him and his marriage. He had taken the money from the restaurant and together with a friend, invested in a small chain of sporting goods stores along the front range. Now that he wasn’t cooking for a living, Tina—and often her friends and family—had the good fortune of enjoying his culinary skills at home.

They were finishing Kevin’s signature risotto and a enjoying a nice bottle of Merlot when Jordan decided to tell her friends about the message she’d received a few days earlier.

She drained the last of the wine in her glass. “So… guess who left me a voice mail on Saturday?”

“Richie Sambora,” Kevin answered, barely missing a beat.

Jordan’s wine glass slipped from her hand and fell noisily to the table without breaking. She shot Tina an accusatory look, but her friend looked as shocked as she was.

“What?” Kevin asked, laughing. “Tina told me you were flirting with him that night after the concert… I thought maybe you gave him his number before you left.” He winked at her, teasing.

Jordan took a breath, trying to regain composure. Nothing like looking guilty. “Oh, that.” She forced a laugh and looked at Tina, who gave an embarrassed shrug.

“Now, wouldn’t THAT be a story,” Tina answered, trying to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “Who called, Jordan?”

Jordan righted her wine glass and nodding when Kevin made a motion to fill it for her. “Rob Mitchell.”

Tina gasped. “You’re kidding.” Jordan shook her head.

“No shit,” Kevin answered, setting the wine bottle down. “What the hell did he want?” Kevin had also weathered some of the drama between Jordan and Rob. The two men had gotten along pretty well, but when the breakup went down, there was no question where his loyalty had to lie. Besides, he loved Jordan like a sister and Rob had really done a number on her. More than once.

Jordan shook her head. “I don’t know. Said he was thinking of me, wanted to know if we could get together for coffee or something.” She took a drink of her wine. “I haven’t returned the call.”

Kevin sighed. “Don’t. You remember Joe, my partner? His wife Emily is an attorney at the same law firm as Rob. I saw him at their Super Bowl party… he was there with his girlfriend; I think he said they have a house in Englewood. He called Joe a couple weeks ago to find out where he got Emily’s engagement ring.”

Tina was surprised. “You never told me any of that.”

“Well, I didn’t really see the point. He asked about Jordan and I told him she was engaged and doing great. I didn’t hang out with him all night or anything.”

Jordan nodded slowly. It was no surprise, really. But she’d be lying if she said that hearing he was marrying someone else didn’t hurt a little. She could still hear his words in her mind, even after all these years.

You are an amazing woman, and I know I’m lucky to have you…
…but I just don’t see myself settling down, with anyone…
…I really thought I did, but I was wrong... I want to travel and do what I want when I want ...

and I don’t want to have to worry about how my decisions affect other people…
…if I wanted to get married, you’d be the one, but…

She’d been crushed. They’d talked about having kids, where they’d live, what it would be like to grow old together. Then one day he just changed his mind. He packed up his things and left, and she’d collapsed on the living room floor, sobbing. She’d given him everything she had and at the time she didn’t know how she’d live without him.

She learned from his friends that he was miserable. That he was drinking too much and he was lost without her, and she’d believed them. He’d show up on her doorstep occasionally, usually when he was drunk or feeling lonely, and she’d take him in, until Tina and Kevin stepped in. What she didn’t know is that Kevin threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn’t leave her alone and let her heal.

For a long time, she was convinced he’d change his mind, that he’d realize they were meant for each other. He’d call once every few months or so and they’d get together, eventually falling into bed, and it would last a few days or a few weeks, but inevitably the end was the same. The last time she’d seen him, they’d spent a fabulous weekend, hiking together and making love by the fire. In the morning he had tears in his eyes, saying that perhaps they shouldn’t be so quick to fall into each others arms. That it was too hard on him. That he still wanted things that didn’t include her. She’d finally lost it, telling him to stay out of her life and let her move on. That getting over him was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do and how dare he walk into her life and expect her to feel sorry for him. He’d told her he was sorry and promised to stay away.

And he had… for almost five years. Until now. Now that he was marrying someone else. Of course. He was looking for a last fling before he got married. Well it wouldn’t be with her is all she knew…

The realization hit Tina then. The missing piece of the puzzle behind Jordan’s sudden urge to run off to Europe. Maybe this was a good thing. Maybe Jordan knew what she was doing after all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Back in New Jersey, Jon was haunted a bit by that phone call as well. He sensed that part of the reason Jordan had accepted his offer when she did stemmed from whomever had left the message. Whoever it was had caused her to fall into his arms wanting more than sex, which he had given surprisingly easily—and taken, for that matter. She gave up a part of herself that night that he hadn’t seen before. And he wanted more.

Ironically, things at home were fabulous as well. He was enjoying his few days off with his family, and everyone was in good humor. At one point his wife had looked at him and said simply, “Whatever you’re doing out there is agreeing with you.” She’d smiled softly at him and he wondered how much she suspected.

He’d heard of men who balanced two separate lives easily and without turmoil. For the first time in his life he found himself wondering how they did it and if it could last.

He’d slipped out to the studio after the kids were in bed, dialing her number as he sat at the mixing board. Her voice was sexy and warm when she answered.

“So you’re not going to back out on me, are you?” he said, teasing.

“No, I'm not. My boss was very supportive, actually. I’ve hardly taken any vacation time so she is encouraging me to take as much time as I want. I just need to take care of any loose ends before I go and leave good notes for her and my assistant, since I told them I will be totally unavailable.” She smiled, happy to hear his voice.

“Excellent. So what about this weekend? Are you coming to Vegas?” They were playing in Phoenix on Thursday and in Las Vegas on Saturday, and he had agreed to a business meeting in Vegas on Friday.

“Sure. Do you still want me to come on Friday?”

“If I have anything to say about it you will,” he teased, and he could picture the blush creeping across her face.

“You have a one-track mind, boy,” she answered, smiling.

“Sorry,” he laughed. “Yes, Friday would be good—we can sleep in on Saturday for a while and then you’ll be there for sound check and everything. Might as well put you to work now, don’t you think?” And then no one would question her presence.

“All right. How late do your meetings go on Friday?”

“I’m not sure. It’s a dinner thing but hopefully not too late. I’ll give you a call and we’ll figure it out.” He paused, smiling. “I’ll see you then, baby.”

Jordan had hung up with Jon and called her sister, apologizing for being so out of touch and promising to take time the next week to come for a visit. Morgan and her partner, Liz, lived in Boulder and both taught at the university. She and Jordan were close but not so much that Jordan had felt comfortable sharing the latest saga of her life. Her relationships with Rob and David had done little to convince her sister that there were good men in the world, and she doubted that this latest bit of news would fare any better.

And unlike with Tina, the fact that Jon was incredibly sexy would mean nothing to Morgan. Jordan fully expected a lecture from her sister and just wasn’t up for it yet. But she knew she’d have to level with her at some point, because they didn’t lie to each other.

But that could wait. Right now she didn’t want anyone raining on her parade. She was going to Las Vegas.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The rain was coming down in torrents when she slid into the taxi at McCarran International Airport. She smirked at the irony. When she’d left Denver, the skies were blue and temperatures were threatening to break 70 degrees, but the plane was delayed due to the rain in Las Vegas. How many rainy days could Las Vegas possibly get a year? Whatever. She was here and she couldn’t care less about the rain.

She checked into her room at the Hotel at Mandalay Bay, where Jon had managed to book them adjoining suites. She’d spoken to him shortly after her plane had landed—his dinner meeting was expected to go at least a couple hours, then they were moving to the Foundation Room upstairs at the House of Blues, where he hoped to be able to break free eventually. He was leaving her name at the door and suggested she come up around 9:30 or so. “If it looks like I can’t get away, call my cell or something and rescue me,” he had joked.

She looked at her watch. It was just before 6:00. She wasn’t much of a gambler so instead she decided to advantage of some of the marvelous shopping that the Strip had to offer.

She returned to her room a couple hours later, quite satisfied with her purchases—one of which started out as more of a necessity, but as she looked at it, became a source of inspiration. She smiled to herself.

Jon looked at his watch, trying not to look bored. Nine-forty. He was happy to be part of this group of philanthropists, and they’d accomplished a lot over the past few hours. But he was getting a little stir crazy. Finally he saw her enter the room, shaking the rain from her hair and brushing it from the stylish black raincoat she was wearing. She scanned the room looking for him, and when their eyes met she smiled softly. She moved to the bar, where she took a seat on one of the barstools. She crossed her shapely legs and he smiled. Obviously she was wearing a dress. He liked that she’d dressed up for the occasion. The black strappy sandals were a nice touch, with straps that wrapped around her ankles. Very sexy.

She ordered a French martini and sat patiently, smiling at his obvious frustration at being unable to extract himself from the conversation. She pulled her cell phone from her purse and punched in a quick text message. She saw him jump when he felt the vibration in his breast pocket and he reached in subtly to pull it out. He held the phone below the table where he was sitting and retrieved the message. Like my coat? it read. He cocked an eyebrow and looked up at her, hoping the other members of his party didn’t notice his disengagement. He gave a small nod, smiling slightly but looking confused. He watched has she punched another message into her phone, and bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling when his vibrated once again.

I’m glad. Cuz there’s nothing underneath it.

She stifled a laugh when she saw his eyebrows shoot up and saw him fighting the smirk that was threatening to take over his face. In what couldn’t have been more perfect timing, someone at the table asked him a direct question and she watched as he fought to remain serious and address the inquiry. She returned the phone to her purse and stood, taking her drink with her onto the balcony that overlook the Strip. The rain had begun to let up and there was an overhang, so she could enjoy the view while keeping dry.

Her heart was pounding a little; she was a little surprised at her own brazenness. She took another gulp from her drink. Liquid courage. She had fixed herself a vodka and soda in the room earlier, trying to get up the nerve. She’d applied some lotion with a subtle gold shimmer and slipped a pair of simple hoops through her ears, then strapped on her new Jimmy Choos before sliding the coat over her shoulders. It was soft and warm, with a small slit up the back. She’d buttoned most of the buttons, leaving a couple near the bottom and the top undone. She’d examined herself in the mirror, taking care to make sure that her secret would be safe.

Now she found herself far from chilly. She assumed it was a combination of vodka and arousal that had her so warm. She smiled as she took another drink. Her intent had been to turn him on. Who knew it would do the same for her?

He appeared at her side in the darkness, close but not touching. “Well that’s one way to get me to end a meeting.” He gazed out at the lights along the Strip. “So are you really naked under there?”

“Completely,” she answered, not looking at him.

He turned to her then, reaching to take her drink from her hand and bringing it to his own lips. “I don’t know that I believe you.”

She nodded without answering. They were alone on the balcony, and she stepped back, lifting one foot to rest on a planter nearby. “Excuse me a moment,” she said. “I think something might have bitten me.” She lifted the bottom of the coat, raising it to about mid thigh, where she pretended to look for the offending insect bite.

He grinned, looking around to see if anyone was watching. She was really going to do it.

She continued sliding the coat up, revealing her hip just long enough to convince him, then let it drop, taking her drink back from him and draining the glass.

He chuckled. “Damn lady… when you do Vegas you don’t fool around.” He smiled slyly and leaned in closer and spoke softly in her ear. “So, how’s it feel? Are you wet? ”

She smiled softly . “Actually, I am.” She looked at him boldly. “But the real question is, are you hard?”

He laughed quietly. “I am now.” He placed a hand on her back, steering her back inside to the bar, where he ordered her another cocktail and a glass of wine for himself. “We’ve got some business to conduct,” he said to the bartender. “Is the Buddha room open?”

“I believe so; let me check.” The bartender gestured for the host and Jon repeated his request. The host nodded. “It is, sir. Follow me.” He led them to a small private dining room.

“Will this do?” he asked.

“This is perfect,” Jon answered. “If you can see to it that we’re not disturbed I’d appreciate it.”

The host nodded, taking his leave and releasing the heavy velvet curtains behind him.

Jordan’s heart was pounding. “Jon, what are you doing? I just thought we’d go back to the room.”

He grinned, taking her drink from her and setting both their glasses on the table. “You’re the one who wanted to be bold.”

He reached out to release the belt on her coat, pressing her against the wall as he brought his mouth to hers. “So be bold.” He lifted the coat above her hips, and ran a hand up the inside of her thigh, sliding a finger inside her. She gasped and he chuckled. “We just gotta do it quietly.”

He continued to manipulate her until she shuddered silently against his hand, biting the inside of her lip to keep from crying out loud. Her heart pounding, she reached to undo his jeans, releasing his erection and eliciting a small groan from him. She brought her leg up, her foot resting on the edge of the table and they stifled their moans with a kiss as he slid inside, driving into her with an urgency that added to the sexy thrill of it all. He came quickly, burying his face in her neck and swallowing hard. “Oh, fuck,” he said quietly, laughing huskily.

“Wow,” Jordan said, pulling his face to hers for a kiss. “I don’t believe we just did that.”

He grinned. “See what you started?” They disengaged she laughed at the wetness on her thighs.

He laughed quietly. “Oops. I didn’t think about that.” He reached for one of the linen napkins on the table. “Guess we’ll take this one with us.” They burst out laughing then, their eyes sparkling as they looked at each other.

They reassembled themselves then sat down to finish their drinks. They knew if they exited the room too soon it would look more than a little suspicious, so they took their time, lounging on the thickly cushioned couch.

He kissed the top of her head. “I’m glad you’re here, baby.”

She lifted her eyes to his. “So am I.”

You can’t cage what you can’t tame
There ain’t no rules, this ain’t no game…
Tonight I’ll run, I need no sleep

When it feels this good you’re in too deep.

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