Jordan woke to a brightly-lit room. She reached for him, only to discover she was alone. She pulled his pillow to her and stretched sleepily, smiling softly as her eyes adjusted to the brightness. Her mind flashed back to the evening before and she replayed their tryst in her mind. It came at her in flashes, almost as if she were watching clips from a movie, and she felt her breath quicken at the memory.
Through the closed bedroom door she could hear the sound of a guitar and she sighed happily as she rose from the bed, searching for and finding the white shirt she’d purloined the evening before. She slipped it over her shoulders as she walked to the bathroom.
He sat in a pair of sweats, enjoying the sunshine that streamed in from the open balcony doors as he sipped coffee and jotted notes on a yellow legal tablet in between strumming chords on the acoustic guitar he held. He looked up and smiled when she came into the room. “Finally,” he teased. She smiled guiltily and sat down in the other chair.
“How long have you been up?” She asked, pouring herself a cup from the pot sitting on the small table in front of them. “And why didn’t you wake me?”
“About an hour, I guess,” he answered, sitting the guitar down. “And I didn’t wake you because you were sleeping so soundly I figured you needed it.” He grinned. “Especially after last night.”
She blushed at the memory. Then a look of realization came over her face. “Oh my god. Did I…I didn’t … did I?” she stammered.
He chuckled, nodding. “You did. I believe the French call it ‘la petite mort.’ It’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed it personally, however.”
“Oh god. I’m sorry!” She covered her face in her hands.
His laugh grew louder, and he shook his head emphatically. “Don’t be. Are you kidding? I’m feeling very proud of myself.”
She smiled at his obvious delight. “As well you should be. Although it certainly isn’t going to help your ego any,” she teased.
“Hey, I earned this one, thank you very much,” He sat back, puffing out his chest proudly. “And I’m going to bask in its glory as long as I damned well please.” He cocked his head and winked at her. “Are you sure you don’t want to call me Master?”
She burst out laughing and kicked at him lightly with her foot. “You are just…” Amazing. Perfect. And not mine.
“I’m just what?”
“Impossible,” she answered, reaching out to brush back the lock of hair that had fallen across his brow.
“Oh you love me and you know it,” he responded cheerfully, taking a drink from his coffee mug.
Her heart jumped a little, and she tried to make light of it. “Yeah, well… not as much as you love me.”
The blue eyes grew serious for a moment. “Probably not.” He held her gaze until she looked away.
Suddenly he could hear Tina’s voice in his mind. This may just be fun and games, I don’t know. Whatever it is, don’t make me hate you. He stood, reaching to pull Jordan to her feet as well.
“You, young lady, need to get your lazy butt around, because we have a business lunch.” He reached to unbutton the shirt and slid his hands inside and around her waist, pulling her against him. “And we can’t do it with you dressed like this.”
She looked up at him, puzzled. “What do you mean, business lunch?”
“Just that,” he answered, reaching to smooth her hair back from her face. “Did you think I brought you all the way out here just for sex?”
“Well, yes, actually,” she laughed. “I thought the whole ‘business’ angle was just something to tell the band.”
“Well, you were wrong,” he replied with a smile.
“Was I?” She let her hands wander down to waistband of his sweats as she brought her mouth to his.
He growled, pushing her away. “Dammit, woman, I am not just your boy toy.” He laughed. “Now stop it.”
She shrugged. “Well you can’t blame a girl for trying.” She gave a mock sigh and buttoned the shirt.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll take you up on it later,” he grinned. “But right now I’m going down to the gym. Meet me back here,” he paused to look at his watch, “in about 90 minutes.”
Jordan nodded slowly. “I don’t think I dare say no,” she answered, wondering what he had up his sleeve.
Jon laughed. “I think that’s an attitude you should always keep around me. Make things easier for both of us.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Some 1000 miles away, a man was gazing out his bedroom window, looking at the snow-covered mountains. In his left hand he held a velvet box containing the diamond ring he’d picked up from the jeweler a week earlier. In his right he held the piece of paper containing the phone number he’d jotted down yesterday, after reaching the voice mail message at the number he was dialing.
…you’ve reached the desk of Jordan Scott. I will be out of the office…
…or try me on my cell phone at…
He hadn’t even known if she were still working at the same place and had made the call on a whim. He told himself that if she’d been wearing a ring when he saw her, he wouldn’t even be thinking about calling her. He’d punched the number into his own cell three times but didn’t hit “send.”
He had no right, he knew. Not after all this time. But then again…
He’d changed. He’d grown up, and he was finally ready to commit himself to one person for the rest of his life. At least he thought he was. His thoughts were interrupted by a voice in the next room and he sighed.
He hadn’t quit thinking about her since he had seen her in the restaurant a few days earlier, and this morning he’d been dreaming about her when he woke up. Dreaming that she was the one curled around him.
He reached for his briefcase and tossed the ring inside.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When Jordan returned to Jon’s suite, she found a table set up for lunch—for six. “So I take it we’re not dining alone?” she asked.
“No, the guys will be joining us in little bit,” he answered. “Have a seat.” He gestured towards one of the arm chairs near the window. She did as he asked, mostly out of curiosity; he was being so formal. He walked to the desk in the room, pulling a magazine out of the drawer. He sat down in the chair next to her as he handed her the magazine, which was open to a page he had marked with a small yellow Post-it note.
Her breath caught in her throat when she saw it was the issue of Newsweek that contained the article she’d had published two years earlier. “Wow. How’d you get this?” And why?
“I have people,” he grinned. “I also got copies of some of your work on the University newspaper.” He looked at her pointedly. “They’re very good. I’m not surprised, but I am impressed.”
She shook her head, confused. “Thanks. I guess. Can I just tell you this is a little weird?”
He laughed. “Kinda feels like you have a stalker, doesn’t it?”
“Well, yeah… a little.” She had no idea where he was going with this.
He continued. “Am I safe in assuming you were saving up vacation time for a honeymoon—didn’t you say something to me about planning some sort of month-long safari or something?”
She smiled lightly. She was impressed that he remembered. “Yes.”
“So how’d you like to take that time and join me—us—in Europe for part of the tour?” He paused, letting his words sink in. “As our personal tour biographer?”
She stared at him. “Tour biographer?”
“Yes. You’d hang out with us, take pictures, notes, keep a diary of sorts. It’s something I’ve kind of wanted to do for a while, but I’ve never taken time to look into it.” He smiled softly. “So what do you think?”
Jordan was stunned. “Jon, I’m…I’m not a professional writer. Or photographer.”
“I know you’re not. But that’s what I want. You’re certainly talented enough. And I want someone who will be more honest and less formulaic—but someone I can trust to let on the inside.” He looked down a moment before bringing his eyes back to hers. “It also would give us a reason to be together, without anyone asking any questions.”
That’s what scares me. “Wow,” she managed. “It’s…but… I…” Her mind was swimming.
“Look, you don’t need to give me an answer right now. This is a business proposition, first and foremost. For which you’d be amply compensated, I might add.”
Jordan nodded, unable to speak. In a way it was a dream proposition but she saw conflicts, both professionally and personally. She was already having feelings for him she hadn’t anticipated. The idea of being free to hang out with him, no questions asked, certainly had its appeal. So did the thought of honing her writing and photography skills.
She also had to protect her heart…and her conscience.
There was a knock on the door, interrupting her thoughts, and Jon rose to answer it. Richie walked in, looking casual and rested, a broad smile on his face. He reached out to shake Jon’s hand, and the men embraced briefly. Then he stood back and moved to Jordan.
“Hey Jords, how you doin’ today?” He leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.
The door opened and Dave and Tico entered the room, both clearly in good humor yet obviously a little curious. Behind them came the room service waiter.
A few minutes later they were enjoying good conversation over fresh sushi. Finally Jon brought up the subject of their meeting.
“So you guys know we’ve been tossing around the idea of bringing someone on as sort of a ‘biographer’ for the tour—someone to observe, keep a diary, maybe take pictures. I’ve extended an offer to Ms. Scott—Jordan—and she is going to think about it.” He paused, reaching for his iced tea. “But I figured we’d take today and tonight to sort of give her a sneak preview of what it would be like…you know, hanging out with us as we are, not just observing from in front of the stage.”
Dave grinned. “As we are? You mean the real us? She seems like a pretty classy lady, Jon. Are you sure?”
Jon laughed, nodding, “No. I’m not. That’s why I thought we’d let her hang with us for a while before she gives me an answer.”
Richie chimed in. “Are you saying we should be on our worst behavior, just so she knows what she might be getting herself into?” He winked at Jordan.
Jon sighed, shaking his head. “I’d like to have her join us, so try not to scare her off.” He looked at Jordan. “Besides, the other two candidates I was looking at are middle-aged, balding men. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a beautiful woman tagging along for a month than another sweaty guy.”
Tico spoke up. “Jonny’s got a point.” He looked at Jordan and winked. “She’s got my vote.”
Dave put down his chopsticks and reached for his own tea. “I’m in. Welcome to the club, Jords,” he said, raising his glass in toast. The others laughed, toasting along with him.
Jords. She laughed. She already had a pet name. Her eyes met Jon’s as she brought the iced tea glass to her mouth. He nodded slightly at her, a very small smile at his lips.
I’ll be your dirty little secret and you’ll be mine.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
That evening, she rode to the arena in the van with Jon and Richie, Tico and Dave in the van behind them. Chris was once again assigned to be at her side and she was given a personal, behind-the-scenes tour where she was introduced to more crew members, all of whom already understood that she was to be given VIP access. She was then deposited in the band’s dressing room, where she found the men going through what she assumed to be their pre-show rituals, including hair, makeup, wardrobe, meditation, stretching and general warm-up movements. Tico, Richie and Dave were joking and laughing, while Jon seemed a little more reserved.
She was silent, mostly just due to the fact that the entire scenario—not to mention his offer—was a little overwhelming. She wasn’t exactly sure how to behave so she decided just to observe for the time being.
Jon came over to her, a soft smile on his lips. “You’re awfully quiet.”
Jordan took a breath. “I guess I’m still a little in shock, that’s all.” She smiled then. “Nice gold pants, Elvis.”
He laughed. “Why does everyone give me grief about these pants?”
“Other than the fact they look like they should be cut into strips and strung around a Christmas tree?” Richie volunteered, walking up and winking at Jordan.
“Fuck you,” Jon responded, good naturedly. “And your Mr. T starter kit.”
Jordan burst out laughing. “Well, he does have a point there. Not to mention, what’s with the big dangly key-chain thing you have going on here?” She reached to tug lightly on the adornment hanging off of Richie’s belt.
Richie chuckled and wrapped an arm around Jordan’s shoulders, pulling her closer to kiss her lightly on the temple. “You’re okay, Jords. I think you’ll have no problem hanging with the boys.”
Jon smiled. No problem at all. “Okay, let’s go.”
They opened the door and filed out. Assorted crew members were waiting and together they walked towards the stage, inserting their in-ear monitors and making other technical adjustments as they walked. Jordan was surprised to find her heart beating a mile a minute—and she wasn’t the one getting on stage. The guys were high-fiving each other, and Jon was bouncing on his toes, sparring with some imaginary boxing partner. The lights had obviously gone out in the arena and the roar of the crowd was deafening.
Jon winked at her before looking at the rest of the guys. He gave a simple nod and they ran up the ramps taking their spots on stage. Jon waited, letting the band kick in and build the suspense just a bit more. Then he was on, and Jordan stood, watching from the wings as the magic unfolded before her eyes.
It was fun, she had to admit. Being on the inside was amazing. Being able to do it for a month was an experience many people would die for, she knew. And frankly, if she weren’t sleeping with the lead singer she’d be jumping at the offer. But this…this was going way beyond an unexpected fling, and she was having difficulties reconciling all of the emotions that came along with that realization.
It also would give us a reason to be together, without anyone asking any questions.
Afterwards, she waited in the dressing room as the guys showered. They were clearly comfortable with her presence, toasting another successful show while wrapped in nothing more than towels. This is when I should have my camera.
They rode back to the hotel, where a much more subdued gathering than the night before was taking place. They sat, enjoying food and drink and each others’ company. Several bottles of wine later, Jon spoke up.
“I hate to break up the party, but Jordan and I need to talk a little shop.” He looked at her. “Shall we, before it gets too late—or we get too drunk?”
God he’s good at this. “Probably not a bad idea,” she answered, trying to appear disappointed that the evening was ending. They stood, bid their goodbyes, and exited together, with no one questioning the fact.
Once they were safely inside his suite, he pulled her to him, hugging her tightly. She let him hold her there, happy they were once again alone and without the façade. In his arms it was easy for her to ignore her concerns.
He sighed contentedly. “So what do you think?”
She stepped back, taking his hands in hers. “I think I still need more time.” I think there is something we need to acknowledge that we’re not.
He nodded. “Okay. But I have to say, I could get used to having you around.” Not to mention in his bed. He refused to acknowledge the elephant in the room, in the hopes that if they ignored it, it would just go away. After all, he was only asking for a month.
“I’m certainly tempted. But I do have responsibilities, you know. This is not a decision I think I should be making when I’m half drunk on wine…and you.”
He laughed. “Oh sure, be the responsible one.” He reached to toy with the buttons on her shirt. “Can we get naked now?”
“Finally,” she responded with a laugh, letting him pull her hips against his. “Just let me check my messages real quick, in case there is some sort of catastrophe or anything I need to address.” She pulled away from him and reached for the purse she’d tossed on the desk.
He stepped into the bedroom, pulling his T-shirt over his head and stooping to remove his boots. He turned a lamp on by the bed and pulled the sheets back, then ran a hand through his hair. Was he crazy?
Jordan found three messages waiting—the first from her sister wondering why she hadn’t called in the past two weeks and the second from Tina, who was just calling “to be nosy” and find out how things were going. She was unprepared, however, for the voice she heard on the third message, which had been left about the same time she was walking to the stage with the band.
Hey there stranger…it’s been a long time, I know….I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you are… I thought maybe we could get together for coffee or something, if you’re interested…maybe catch up on old times…I’d love to know what you’re up to…here’s my number…if you don’t want to call, I understand…but I hope you will…
She closed the phone with shaking hands as she stared out the window, her eyes not seeing the beauty of the Hollywood Hills in front of her. She felt a pit in her stomach and took a deep breath, trying to clear the fog of wine from her brain and process what she’d just heard.
Jon came up beside her, a look of alarm on his face. “Is everything okay?” She had grown pale and was visibly shaken. He placed his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him directly. “Jordan, baby, what’s wrong?”
“It’s…nothing,” she answered, shaking her head. She looked at him, at his obvious and genuine concern, and she blinked back the tears that were stinging the back of her eyes.
“The hell it is. Jordan, what is it?”
She didn’t answer his question. Instead she said simply, “Make love to me. Now.”
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