Wednesday, January 31

Chapter Thirty

Jordan was in heaven. The heat of the sun was penetrating her body and she was enjoying every minute of it. She smiled softly to herself as she listened to the sound of the waves lightly slapping the shore—and to the joking and banter between Dave and Richie, who were playing volleyball nearby. Jon was lying on the sand next to her, and Tico was snoring quietly in a lounge chair not far away.

There was one more stop on the European tour, and they had a two-day break between shows. Following the performance the night before, they had boarded a private plane in Coventry and flown to Naples, where a waiting limousine had taken them to a breathtaking beachfront resort in Positano. They had fallen into bed around 4:00 and risen late in the morning, with no obligations beyond moving from their rooms to the private beach, where they were now.

There were no fans and no paparazzi, and it was exactly what they needed.

Jon’s fingers played absent-mindedly against the outside of Jordan’s thigh. It felt good having her lie next to him, and he found himself not caring if anyone noticed the fact that he was touching her. He turned his head to look at her and smiled to himself. She was wearing a brown bikini, her skin glistening in the sun—a mixture of perspiration and sun block—and bits of sand clung to her in places. Sunglasses hid her eyes but the steady rise and fall of her breasts told him she’d drifted off. He was glad. He could tell their hectic schedule was taking its toll on her, and they seldom slept more than five or six hours a night. Some people did fine with a schedule like that but others didn’t…

He realized, too, that the emotional strain of their predicament was playing as big a role. They had yet to really discuss it, but he knew she was counting on him to come up with a solution. Hell, he’d promised her as much.

His eyes scanned the length of her and he felt the familiar stirring in his groin. For a moment he pictured himself taking her right there, on the beach, without an audience but with the heat of the sun beating down on both of them. As if on cue, a light moan escaped her lips and he laughed lightly. She did that when she was sleeping—it was a sound of contentment, a sound he’d come to love almost as much as the moans he induced from her in the throes of passion.

He closed his eyes, laying his head back. He thought back to the story that Tina had told him about Jordan’s mother, and about the ex-boyfriends—the one she’d almost married, and the one she’d loved so much it had almost destroyed her. And he heard Richie’s voice in his mind.

Do you really think you can be this girl’s hero?

Sure he could. But the question was, could he do it without hurting other people he loved? It occurred to him that in spite of everything he’d accomplished in his life, this was the biggest challenge he’d ever faced. Never in a million years had he thought that challenge would present itself in the form of a woman. Women had always been easy for him.

He heard her quiet moan again and shook his head.
Until now.

The sun was lower in the sky but the air still pleasantly warm when Jordan woke. Jon had fallen asleep and she noticed that the rest of the guys were napping as well, save for Tico, who was sipping a beer and sketching on a pad of paper. She stretched and stood, wrapping her sarong around her hips. She released her hair from its ponytail holder and shook it out, laughing lightly at the sand that fell from it.

She walked to the bar, taking a seat on one of the stools and smiling at the bartender. She accepted his offer of a fruity house special.

“It’s good,” said a voice, and she looked up to see a very lovely woman sitting a few stools away, sipping on the same drink.

Jordan smiled. “Is it?”

The woman nodded. “Si. Very.” She was stunningly beautiful, Jordan thought; her dark long hair was full of loose, natural curls and her skin flawless and tan. Her lips were full and pink and her eyes dark as coffee.

Jordan accepted the cocktail from the bartender and took a sip. She smiled, nodding. “You’re right. Very good.” She took in her surroundings, still a little unable to believe she was here. “It’s so beautiful here,” she said aloud.

The woman smiled softly. “It is. This is your first time here?” She spoke with a thick Italian accent but her English was clearly fluent.

Jordan nodded. “Yes, we just came in last night. You?”

The woman shook her head. “No. But I love it here.” Something in her voice made Jordan suspect the woman was alone, which surprised her.

“I’m Jordan,” she said, suddenly realizing how long it had been since she’d visited with another woman. Outside of occasional exchanges with the few female crew members, she hadn’t had an actual conversation with another woman since she’d arrived in Europe. Tico’s wife had come and gone so quickly, and more or less kept to herself—or with Tico, which Jordan could understand.

The woman returned her smile. “I am Bella,” she said. “You’re here with your husband?”

Jordan shook her head. “No.”

“Your lover?”

Jordan was a bit taken aback; it was such a personal term, “lover.” Well, at least where she came from. But then again, she was in Italy…a place where many considered it perfectly acceptable for men to have both wives and lovers. Maybe that was what Jon was planning, she thought to herself, smiling.

When she didn’t answer, Bella looked past her. “He is one of those men, yes?”

Jordan followed her gaze and smiled softly, nodding.

“This is a nice place for lovers,” Bella said simply, taking another sip of her drink.

Jordan regarded her for a moment. The woman wore no wedding ring. “What about you? Are you here with your...” she paused. It felt odd to say it. “Lover?”

Bella shook her head. “No, I am by myself.” There was perhaps a hint of sadness, but not overwhelmingly so. “My father runs this hotel,” she explained. “He lets me come here when I need to… what’s the word? Escape.”

Jordan couldn’t help but wonder what the woman was escaping. Was it simply the pressures of daily life, or something more?

They sat, visiting and enjoying their cocktails. Jordan learned that Bella was a school teacher who had divorced an abusive husband years earlier. She currently had no lovers, she said, having recently broken things off with a man who just “didn’t make her heart race.”

Jordan smiled. “I understand. I did the same thing not long ago.”

Bella tipped her head, smiling. “Your lover now… he does make your heart race?”

Jordan blushed. “Very much so.”

Bella nodded satisfactorily. “Good!” And they laughed. Then Bella sighed. “I would be content just to have someone make my blood race for one night,” she added, and then giggled.

Jordan laughed, admiring the woman’s frankness. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Jon sitting up, taking off his ball cap and running a hand through his hair. Suddenly she had an idea and motioned for the bartender, ordering a Peroni.

“Will you excuse me for a moment?” she said to Bella, and Bella nodded. “I’ll be right back.” She took the beer and rose from the bar stool.

She walked up behind Jon, holding the cold bottle against his bare back. He jumped and laughed, turning and giving her a quick hug. He brought his mouth to hers, his kiss lingering a little longer than he normally would in the presence of the rest of them, but once again he found himself not caring.

She held the bottle out to him. “I thought maybe you might be ready for this.”

He smiled, accepting the bottle and taking a drink. The liquid was smooth and cold on his tongue and he savored it as it poured down his throat. “You thought correctly.”

She smiled at him, her eyes sparkling. She watched as he brought the bottle to his lips again. “I also picked up a woman at the bar and was wondering if I could bring her to dinner.”

He choked a bit then, inadvertently spitting beer on her, and she laughed. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You did what?”

“I made a friend. She’s nice, she’s beautiful, and she’s here by herself. Would you mind if I invited her to dinner?”

He looked past her to the bar and saw Bella. He chuckled. “Hell, you can invite her to dinner and back to the room if you want.”

Jordan smiled slyly. “Well we’ll see about that. Let’s start with dinner.”

He shook his head. “Don’t even tease me like that, woman. I may not be 25 anymore but I am still a man.” He looked back at Bella. “And you, with her—that might be just enough to put me in an early grave.”
And it might just be worth it.

She smiled. “Well I definitely don’t want that,” she answered. He watched as she turned and returned to the bar. A day in the sun had left her skin light bronze and her hair hung in sexy waves down her back. He groaned quietly.

Richie appeared at his side. “How you doing, buddy?” He followed Jon’s gaze and then noticed the raven-haired woman Jordan was joining at the bar. “Who’s that?”

Jon shrugged. “I don’t know. But she’s coming to dinner.”

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

The guys were standing at the restaurant bar when Jordan and Bella entered.

“Damn,” Tico muttered, and the others turned to follow his gaze. Jordan had donned a white sundress with a plunging neckline and thin shoulder straps, and had gathered her hair loosely on top of her head, with a few tendrils hanging down around her face. Bella was wearing a form-fitting red dress that was sexy and feminine—a dress that somehow was respectable and yet completely sinful at the same time. The four men weren’t the only people in the room who took notice.

“No shit,” Richie responded. “Who the hell is that?”

Jon smirked. “Jordan got herself a girlfriend.”

Dave shook his head. “Lucky Jordan.”

Tico shook his head. “As if Jordan showing up looking like that isn’t enough. Then she’s got Aphrodite on her arm.”

Jordan saw the look on the men’s faces and smiled. She leaned into Bella. “I should tell you that not everyone knows about my…about Jon and me. The tall one, with dark hair? He knows. The others don’t.”

Bella smiled. “Ooh, a secret love affair. I like it!” She paused. “You said you work with these men, yes? And your lover, he’s your boss?”

Jordan blushed. “Oh, shut up.”

Bella laughed. “Don’t worry. I tell no one.” She leaned in and kissed Jordan on the cheek.

At dinner, Bella sat on one side of Jordan and Jon on the other, and Jordan saw to it that Richie was seated next to Bella on the other side. As she had hoped, Richie and Bella interacted easily. At one point, Jon leaned over to whisper in her ear. “I think I see a method to your madness.”

Jordan smiled softly and brought her wine glass to her lips without answering. Dinner itself was delectable, and they gladly took advantage of the restaurant’s expansive wine cellar. After dinner, they moved into a private adjoining lounge, where the wine continued to flow. They were relaxed, comfortable, and enjoying one another. Jon looked at Jordan and smiled.

“By the way,” he said quietly. “Did I mention that you look absolutely amazing tonight?”

“Well, after meeting Bella I figured I should probably glam it up a little. I would hate to think I’d lost it after hanging out with the boys for so long.”

He chuckled. “First it was that bikini and now this? Don’t worry—no one is mistaking you for one of the guys. And right now, well…” he reached to toy with one of the pieces of hair framing her face. “I could picture you with me on the red carpet somewhere.”

His eyes met hers and she could tell he was serious. And at that moment, she believed him. Believed they could have some sort of future, whether or not it included a red carpet—which frankly didn’t interest her anyway.

An explosion of laughter from the others at the table reminded them that they weren’t alone and they pulled their attention away from one another. Someone had produced a deck of cards and Dave was asking, “who’s in?”

“I am,” Jon answered, grinning, and Jordan shook her head.

“You boys play cards. Bella and I will go do…I don’t know, girl things.”

“Jords, come on,” Richie said. “Don’t take her away yet.”

Jordan laughed. “We’re just moving to another table, not leaving the room.” She took Bella’s hand and the women grabbed their wine glasses, standing. Jordan winked at Bella, who squeezed her hand.

Jordan was enjoying having a woman to visit with, and she was happy that she felt she could be herself, because Bella had no idea who their companions were, beyond “American musicians.” That meant that Jordan didn’t have to pretend, either. They talked about clothes and movies and George Clooney, whom Bella had had the good fortune to see on more than one occasion—her own flat “just down the mountain” from Clooney’s villa in Laglio.

Jordan learned that Bella taught history and art at a private school not far from Como. “I always wanted to be teacher,” Bella said, smiling. “I went to private school also. My family is very proud I did not choose just to be a wife.” She laughed then. “However, they want grandchildren, so there is pressure.”

Jordan looked at her new friend. “I have to say, you don’t look like a school teacher to me. I mean, you’re so…sexy.” She realized she could think of no softer way to put it.

Bella blushed. “Well, as teacher I look very different. Hair up, no makeup, no…what do you call this?” She looked down between her breasts, gesturing at the valley between them.

Jordan laughed. “Cleavage?”

Bella nodded. “Yes. No cleavage. Very proper.” She winked at Jordan then. “But I am not at school now. And not so proper.”

Bella stood suddenly. “We should have music!” She proclaimed. She moved to what Jordan had assumed was a small closet near the back of the room and opened the door. When she emerged several minutes later, music could be heard from the small speakers that hung inconspicuously from the ceiling in the corners of the room. It was a sultry Spanish guitar piece.

The men looked up from their cards. “And we have music,” Dave said, and they laughed. Jordan gestured towards Bella, who gave a small bow, smiling.

“Cheers to Bella,” Richie said, and they held their glasses up in toast.

Jordan rose and moved the bar, taking the bottle of Barbaresco and returning to fill both her glass and Bella’s. She was pleasantly buzzed and undeniably happy. As she sat down, she noticed Jon watching her, a small smile on his lips. She smiled broadly at him before turning back to Bella.

“You love him very much, don’t you?” Bella said to her.

Jordan sighed. “Is it that obvious?”

Bella nodded, matter-of-factly. “Oh, yes. Maybe only to another woman, but I see it.” She grinned mischievously then. “Is he a good lover?”

Jordan gasped. “Bella!”

Bella looked nonplussed. “What? He is very handsome and has a nice mouth and nice hands. He is good, no?”

Jordan laughed, giving a resigned nod. “Yes, he is…amazing, actually.”

Bella tipped her head, smiling. “But so are you, yes?”

“So am I what?”

“A good lover.” Bella took a sip of her wine. “It’s okay to admit it. I am a very good lover.” Jordan felt a strange rush of warmth through her veins. She was intrigued by this woman’s sexual confidence, and the ease at which she was willing to discuss it with someone she’d just met. And she had no doubts the woman was probably an amazing lover. Which reminded her…

“So,” she said…nodding towards Richie, “Do you think he’s handsome as well?

Bella smiled and nodded. “Si. He has pretty eyes and a nice smile. And he is very funny. I bet he’s a good lover, too.”

Jordan smiled softly, nodding. “I’m sure he is. And, I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ve been told he’s quite… shall we say, equipped.”

“Yes?” Bella said. “Oooh. I like that.” She giggled, and Jordan couldn’t help but join her.

“So…” Jordan began. “Any interest? Because I think he is… interested, that is.”

Bella laughed. “I think so too.”

Jordan smiled. “So that’s a yes?” Bella nodded. “Well alright then.” She turned and looked at the men again, who were still engrossed in their card game. “We just need to get their attention away from that stupid game.” She wished Tico and Dave weren’t in the room—it would certainly make things easier. As she was pondering her next step, she felt Bella take her hand.

“This will get their attention,” she stood, pulling Jordan up with her. “Dance with me.”

Jordan followed as Bella lead her to an open patch of floor and began moving to the sensual beats of Enigma that played over the speakers. Jordan shook her head, smiling. What the hell. She was feeling warm and sexy and just drunk enough to do it. She lost herself in the music, her body moving naturally to its rhythms. They danced together, close but without touching, and continued to drink from the wine glasses they had brought with them to their “dance floor.”

Tico was the first to notice. “Hey guys,” he said, nodding towards the two women. The others followed his gaze.

“Well hey there,” Richie said with a grin.

“What happened to our little Jords?” Dave added, laughing.

Jon smirked, shaking his head lightly. The night was certainly getting more interesting. In a way he felt like they shouldn’t be watching so blatantly, but it was hard to avoid the temptation. And he also knew that the show might indeed be deliberately for them.

They tried to get back to their game but no one was paying very close attention. Then when the opening strains of Madonna’s “Justify My Love” could be heard coming over the speakers, they all folded, tossing their cards on the table and reaching for their wine glasses, as they settled back to watch the show.

Jordan noted their audience and smiled at Bella, indicating their tactic was working. The wine, the music, the sea air… the combination had emboldened her and she was enjoying their game. Knowing Jon’s eyes were on them only fueled her further.

The women moved closer to one another and Jordan didn’t resist when Bella took her by the hips and moved their hips together. Then they’d separate, twirling away from one another, only to come together once again, a tantric tease that Jordan realized was turning her on as much as it probably was the men.

Bella wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer, then let a hand trail up Jordan’s arm, her eyes dark and her lips curving slightly at the corners. Jordan smiled wickedly and nodded in response to the invitation she realized was being put forth. Partly because she was ready to push the men right over the edge, and partly because she just wanted to, she opened her lips slightly and accepted Bella’s kiss. It was soft and brief, but it was enough.

“Shit,” Richie groaned, and Jon’s jaw dropped. That did not just happen. He swallowed hard. “Rich, this calls for an intervention.”

He and Richie set their glasses down and stood, then moved to join the women. “Can we cut in?” Jon asked, taking Jordan’s hand and pulling her into his arms.

“Your game is over?” She asked innocently.

“It is now,” he answered. “I decided I liked yours better.”

Bella let Jordan go and turned to Richie, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “You’ll dance with me instead?”

Richie laughed. “Hell yes, I’ll dance with you.” He looked across to Jordan, who smiled softly at him and winked.

Back at the table, Dave looked at Tico. “And here we sit with our dicks in our hands.”

Tico laughed and reached for his glass. “You think we’d be used to it by now.” He drained his glass. “I guess we’re done here.”

Dave watched the four on the dance floor for a moment. “Hey, T, do you think…” He wasn’t sure if he even should be asking the question. But watching Jon and Jordan together, he couldn’t help but wonder.

Tico followed Dave’s gaze. “I don’t know. Maybe. But from the looks of things, if they aren’t already, they will be before the night is over.” He sighed, standing. Welcome to rock-n-roll. “So what do you say we leave them alone. God knows Rich needs a good lay.”

Dave sighed. “So do I. No one seems worried about that,” he joked, standing as well.

Tico laughed. “We’re fucking rock and roll stars. When did we get to a place where any of us ‘needed’ a good lay?”

“Shit, you’re right,” Dave answered, shaking his head. “But tomorrow I’m asking Jordan to find a girl for me.”

As soon as the door closed behind Dave and Tico, Jon pulled Jordan closer to him, bringing his mouth to her shoulder and biting lightly. She sighed and melted against him, as Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” came over the speakers.

“Tell me I’m not dreaming,” she whispered, bringing her lips to his.

Next to them, Richie let the raven-haired beauty mold her body against his. He inhaled the floral scent in her hair as his eyes closed.

She's as sweet as tupelo honey

She's an angel of the first degree
She's as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

The two couples swayed together, and Jordan felt a strange sense of contentment in sharing her passion in front of someone else. For some reason, it made it feel a little more real…in not having to hide her emotions, in being able to display her affections so openly, in such unabashed form. When she looked over, she saw Richie and Bella kissing with abandon.

“Hey you,” Jon’s voice pulled her gaze toward him. His eyes were dark with both affection and longing. She smiled softly.

“Hey me what?” She answered, grinding her hips against his.

“You did good tonight,” he said simply. He let his thumb brush across the fullness of her lips. “So, tell me…”

She looked at him, smiling. “Yes?”

“Was that all for show or was it a little self-indulgence as well?” He let his hands encircle her waist, cupping her breasts.

She looked down, blushing. “Maybe a little of both.”

He tipped his head back, laughing. God how he loved her. He reached to sink his fingers into her hair, loosening the pins that held it, and brought her mouth to his. In the background, he heard the words of Del Amitri filling the room.

So the night is coming down, drowning us in blue

And it all points towards the things
we know we shouldn’t do
And as I look at you and I fall under your spell
Well I know I should be thinking of her lying there herself

And when faced with temptation you know a man should stand and fight
But you will be my downfall tonight

Be my downfall
Be my great regret
Be the one girl

That I’ll never forget
Be my undoing be my slow road to ruin tonight

To next section...

Monday, January 22

Chapter Twenty-nine

Jordan helped Jon to the bed. “God, Jon, what have you done to yourself?” And what did you say to Richie?

“Hey darlin’,” he slurred. “I missed you today. Did you miss me?”

She shook her head. “You are plastered. Let’s get your clothes off.” She pulled his shirt over his head.

He grinned. “Oooh. You did miss me.” He attempted to stand and leaned in to kiss her as she reached to undo his pants.

She laughed quietly, returning his kiss. “Oh, like you are in any shape.” She managed to slide his jeans over his hips right before he fell back onto the bed. She bent down to remove his shoes and pulled his pants off.

“While you’re down there,” he began, attempting what he thought was a sexy smile.

“Yeah. Not gonna happen.” Jordan said, standing as she tossed his pants aside. She took the glass of water from the bed stand and held it out to him. “Drink this.” He took the glass, bowing his head like a scolded puppy. He finished it and she took it from him, filling it from the pitcher that was sitting on the nearby dresser. “Again,” she instructed, and he did as he was told.

When he was finished, she took the empty glass and set it back on the night stand. She pulled the covers back. “Okay, get in.”

He sighed and fell back against the pillows. “I like it when you’re bossy. Can we try that handcuff thing sometime?”

She laughed, pulling the covers up and sitting beside him. “We’ll see.” She reached out to brush the hair from his eyes. “Look at you. Baby, what did you say to Richie?”

“What did I say to Richie about what?” He answered, reaching to undo the belt on her robe. He looked sleepily at her. “Get in here with me.”

She smiled softly. Even in his drunken state he was pretty irresistible. She let him tug her robe off her and turned the switch on the lamp, sliding in next to him. “About us, Jon—what did you say to him about us?”

“Oh,” he answered, planting a trail of kisses across her breasts before laying his head on her stomach. “I just told him to give up the chase, because you’re mine.” He sighed contentedly as his voice trailed off. “Because I love you…”

Jordan shook her head and let her fingers play in his hair. In vino veritas. “I love you too,” she said, softly.

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

When Jon woke, he was alone and the room was dark—the heavy shades had been pulled shut and only a sliver of daylight shown through. It felt like a freight train was running through his head.

“Fuck,” he mumbled to himself. He looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was past noon. Where the hell was he? He lie there a moment, trying to piece together the events from the night before. He remembered getting back to the hotel and going to Richie’s room. More wine…

Jesus, asshole, how much did you drink?

Then he remembered their conversation. “Shit.” He ran a hand through his hair as he sat up in the darkness. He had a vague recollection of Jordan undressing him and putting him to bed.

“Fuck,” he said again. He needed some water. And some coffee. And about a million aspirin.

Jordan was at the desk working on her laptop when he came out of the bedroom. She looked up and smiled softly. He looked like hell. “Coffee?” he asked, and she gestured towards the table.

“I can get it,” she said, standing, and he shook his head.

“No, I got it,” he answered. He moved to the table, squinting in the brightness of the room. He reached for the pot and poured the steaming liquid into a cup. He sat in one of the chairs with a sigh.

“You want some food?” Jordan asked, joining him at the table.

“Not yet,” he answered. He sipped at the coffee and sat quietly for a few moments. Finally he spoke up. “I did something really stupid last night.”

“You remember?”

He looked at her. “You know?”

She nodded. “Richie brought you over here.”

“Ah,” he nodded. “That explains that. What did he say?”

Jordan smiled softly. “I was going to ask you that same question. He didn’t say much to me at all.”

He sighed. “I don’t really remember. He won’t tell anyone, if that’s what you’re worried about it.” He took another drink of coffee. “Did he seem pissed?”

Jordan looked at him. “Well, he didn’t seem thrilled.”

Jon sighed. “I don’t suppose he is. Well, he was bound to find out sooner or later. I just hadn’t decided how I was going to tell him.” He attempted a smile. “I guess he just kind of forced my hand.”

She looked at him. “Did he tell you what happened between us?”

He sat his coffee cup down. “What do you mean? What happened between you?”

Way to go, Jordan. “Nothing—I mean…” Shit.

Jon shook his head. “I’m sorry. That was a shitty thing to ask. I suspected he had a thing for you. I didn’t know if you knew or not.”

She smiled softly. “Well, I didn’t, really. Not until yesterday. But he was a total gentleman.”

Jon smirked. “Good. Because I’m in no shape right now to kick his ass.” He groaned. “Jesus Christ. My head feels like it’s going to explode. Do you have any morphine?”

She laughed quietly and stood, leaning over to kiss his cheek. “No, but I’m sure I have something.”

He wrapped an arm around her waist and rested his head on her hip. “You’re my angel, you know that?” He noticed the door to the adjoining room was open. “Is that my room?”

She nodded. “Yes. I took the key out of your pants and snuck in this morning to open it up. I even went and messed up the bed.”

He laughed. “Sorry I couldn’t be of assistance there.”

She grinned. “You certainly were full of ideas, though.”

He cringed. “I just bet I was.” He shook his head, patting her ass lightly. “I’m glad I didn’t scare you off.”

“Yeah, well…if I was going to run I’d have been long gone by now.” She ran her fingers through his hair.

He smiled softly. “Me too.”

Jon decided to try to sweat out his alcohol-laced demons in the gym. It was torture, each step on the treadmill feeling like a hammer on his head. By the time he was done, however, he felt a little better. Jordan had joined him for a workout of her own, and when they got back to the room, he was in slightly better spirits. He pulled her to him for a hug, and she made a face.

He laughed. “Is it that bad?”

She nodded guiltily at him. “You smell like a vineyard, and not in a good way.”

He burst out laughing. “Nice. Fine, I can take a hint.”

“If you want, I can join you,” she offered, smiling slyly.

“I can’t believe I’m going to turn this down, but I don’t think I’m up to the challenge yet.” He grinned. “I am quite sure, however, that my dick wouldn’t know the difference, and I need to salvage what little energy I have for the stage tonight.”

She feigned disappointment, sighing heavily. “Fine. Maybe I’ll just indulge in a little self-play while you’re in the shower,” she teased.

He shook his head, chuckling. “You are an evil woman.” He gazed at her for a moment, and he felt that familiar rush of contentment at the way she was looking at him. He wished he didn’t have a show that night, that the rest of the band wasn’t steps away, and that the two of them could just hole up with each other, the way they had in Chicago. Before things got complicated…

“Would you order me some food?” he asked, and she nodded, moving to the desk to pull out the room service menu.

Jon took a moment to call home before he hopped into the shower. The European leg was wrapping up and he couldn’t deny that he was anxious to see his family, his kids especially. He’d have a couple weeks with them before hitting the road in the US again. It would be easy to continue having Jordan along for parts of that, he realized, but he had yet to figure out what they would do when the tour was over. He sighed, shaking his head as he stepped into the shower.

Jordan pulled the door to her suite open, expecting room service. Instead she found Richie standing there. Her breath caught in her throat. “Hi,” she said quietly.

“Is he up?” Richie asked. There was no smile in his voice and his eyes were unreadable.

Jordan nodded, gesturing him in. “He’s in the shower.” She smiled lightly. “He’s attempting to feel human.” Richie didn’t return her smile, so she continued. “Richie, I’m… I’m sorry.”

He laughed wryly. “Oh, I doubt that.” He looked at her a moment, finally shaking his head. “You sure had me fooled. Had us all fooled.”

“Richie, no. I didn’t…” she began, and he interrupted her.

“I gotta hand it to you, Jordan…you’ve managed to accomplish what hundreds of other women have only dreamed of.” His voice dripped with contempt. “Christ…you even got him to offer you a job. Brilliant.”

“It’s not like that,” Jordan replied, her voice soft.

“Really? Well what is it like, exactly? Obviously you’re not just the fuck of the month. Hell, did you see him last night? Why do you think he was so goddamned drunk? Newsflash, babe: guys don’t drink that much on their own if everything is right with the world.”

Jordan remained silent and felt herself begin to shake.

He shook his head again. “So what are you expecting to come from this? Looking to sell a tell-all biography? Or just sell your story to Entertainment Tonight or something? Or maybe just a little extortion?”

“What? No!” Jordan exclaimed.

Richie smirked. “He’s usually a lot smarter than this. That must be one platinum pussy you have between your legs.”

Jordan gasped. It felt like he’d reached out and slapped her across the face.

“Rich, that’s enough,” Jon’s voice was loud and angry as he entered the room.

“Jon,” Richie began, and Jon shook his head.

“Not one more fucking word. You don’t have a goddamned clue what you’re talking about, and if you know what’s good for you you’ll get the hell out of here. Now.” When Richie didn’t move, he repeated himself. “Now. I’ll see you at sound check.”

Richie sighed, realizing he’d gone a little overboard. The pain in Jordan’s eyes gave him less satisfaction than he’d hoped. He shook his head and stormed to the door, pulling it open and almost colliding with the room service waiter. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

Jon motioned the waiter in and signed off on the check, and turned to Jordan as soon as the door was closed. She was obviously shaken. He moved to her, taking her in his arms.

“Baby, don’t listen to him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s mad at me and taking it out on you.”

Jordan shook her head. “Jon, he thinks I’m some sort of black widow or something.”

Jon sighed. “Well, if he does I’ll set him straight.” He smiled, taking her face in his hands. “I know you didn’t set out to trap me in your web.” He kissed her. “But trust me, he is mad at me. Mostly because I didn’t tell him. Partly because he’s jealous. And partly because he’s had a shitty year and this is just one more thing he has to wrap his head around.”

Even as he spoke, trying to soothe her, Jon was fighting the anger brewing in his stomach. Richie was way over the line with this one, regardless of how pissed he was.

They held each other for a few moments, and Jon eventually felt her trembling subside.
Our lives are getting twisted…

“Food,” he said aloud. The aroma coming from the table that had just been wheeled in made him realize just how hungry he was.

At sound check, the two men spoke to each other only when necessary, and it was impossible for the band and crew to miss the tension that was present. Jon had cut five songs from the set list and snapped at a crew member when the updated version wasn’t provided to the rest of the staff in a timely enough manner. When they were done, Jon exited one side of the stage and Richie the other. Dave looked at Tico and Tico shrugged. Both knew to just lay low and not ask any questions. Richie and Jon didn’t fight often but when they did it wasn’t pretty, and they knew from experience that the two had to work it out on their own.

Jordan was getting ready to jump in the shower when Jon entered her room. He still didn’t look very good. She moved to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and kissing him softly. “Honey, why don’t you try to catch a nap? You look like you could use it.”

He smirked. “Is it that obvious?” He pulled her more tightly against him, burying his face in her neck. He breathed in her scent, finding it surprisingly comforting. “Want to join me?”

She smiled. “Actually, that’s what I did while you were gone. It felt good. You should do it. Alone,” she added, letting her hands wander down to squeeze his ass gently.

He sighed. “I think I will. Wake me in about ninety minutes?” She nodded.

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

Jon was surprised when Jordan slipped between the sheets with him, kissing him softly and then planting a trail of kisses down his stomach before taking him in her mouth. He moaned softly, tangling his hand in her hair.
God she was so good at this…

Suddenly the door to his room flew open and the light came on, and he saw his wife standing there. Surprise, honey!

He jerked awake, his heart pounding. “Shit,” he said quietly, sitting up and looking around the dimly-lit room. He laid back down, closing his eyes, knowing that the chances he’d fall asleep again were slim. He tossed and turned for another twenty minutes, his mind refusing to let him rest. He needed to regain control of his life, and he wasn’t sure exactly how he was going to do it.

Later, on stage, he forced himself through the motions, but his heart wasn’t in it. He had hoped the roars of the crowd and the over-the-top admiration of the fan club members in the first few rows would draw him in, but it wasn’t happening. He found himself being overly critical of the women who were dressed much more scantily than their bodies—and age—would respectfully allow, and of the audience members who held up signs that said stupid things he would rather pretend he hadn’t seen.

Jordan watched from the wings, her heart aching. Jon was visibly removed from his performance, and she had no doubt that many of the audience members could tell. He seldom flashed his trademark smile, kept the songs short and refused to interact at all with the fan pits on the sides of the stage. During the songs where he and Richie typically came together, they remained distant—there were no smiles between them and she saw little evidence of any camaraderie.

This is my fault.

As the first song of the encore ended, Jon gave the signal that it was over. The band joined one another at the front of the stage, joining hands to take their bows. The guys looked at each other, waiting for Jon to give the sign that they’d do one more. Instead, he pulled the monitors out of his ears and gave a final wave to the crowd before turning and leaving the stage. She watched as Richie turned to leave just as abruptly, and as the remaining band members forced smiles and blew kisses to the crowd.

Once in the dressing room, Richie flung his towel against the wall. “They sure got their money’s worth tonight, didn’t they?”

“Fuck you,” Jon answered.

“No, fuck you,” Richie responded, just as the door opened and Dave and Tico entered the room.

“Guys…” Jon began, and Tico nodded.

“We’ll just go on back to the hotel,” he said, and he and Dave stepped back out the door, closing it behind them. Jordan walked up and Dave shook his head.

“Jords, you don’t want to go in there.”

She nodded. “Okay.” She stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to do or how to behave.

Tico spoke up. “Let’s just go back to the hotel. Let them hash out whatever is bothering them.” He looked around, grinning. “Anyone seen my wife?”

Inside the dressing room, Richie pulled a bottle of beer from the cooler. He glared at Jon.

Jon returned his stare. “What the hell is your problem? So I'm sleeping with her. That’s not a capital offense. And there are plenty of other women out there who would gladly keep you warm at night.”

Richie laughed angrily. “You think this is about jealousy? Jesus do you have an ego.”

“So what is it then? You’re pissed because I didn’t tell you?”

“I’m pissed because you obviously are thinking with your dick and not your head.”

“You don’t know that,” Jon retorted, opening a beer for himself. His headache had returned and he really didn’t want to be having this fight right now.

“No? Why is she with us, then?” Richie challenged him.

“Because she’s good at what she does.”

Richie laughed wryly. “I just bet she is.”

“Fuck you, asshole, that’s not what I meant.”

“How well do you know this woman, Jon? Do you realize what kind of risk you’re taking?”

“I know her. There is nothing to worry about.”

Richie took a swig of his beer. “I just don’t get it. It isn’t like you to let someone on the inside, and it isn’t like you to hook up with a woman on this level. It’s a lot safer to stick with one night stands.”

Jon sighed. “I know. But this is different. She’s not just keeping my bed warm.”

Richie shook his head, thinking of how drunk his friend had been the night before, and the obvious turmoil he was in. “Where did you meet her?”

Jon laughed lightly. “On a plane back in January. I was on my way to Denver and we got caught in a snowstorm in Chicago.”

“And since then she’s managed to find a way to make you risk everything you value the most. Pardon me if I don’t sing her praises.”

“God damn it, Rich…you’re wrong about her.” Jon plopped down in a chair, bringing his beer bottle to his lips.

“How do you know that?”

“Because. I was the one who pursued it, not her. For the exact same reasons you found her attractive.” He laughed then. “She fought me every step of the way.”

“Fine, so you had a nice fling. That still doesn’t explain why she’s here.”

“She’s here because I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Because…” his voice trailed off and he took another drink. “Because I didn’t want to let her go.”

They sat silently for a few minutes. Finally Richie spoke up. “Does she love you too?”

Jon nodded. “I think so.”

“You think so?”

“Rich, she’s scared. More so than I am. You don’t know what she’s lived through.”

“Actually, I do. Some of it, at least,” Richie answered. He shook his head. “Jon, do you really think you can be this girl’s hero?”

“I don’t know. But I want to be.” Jon sighed. “It’s just that…”

Richie’s anger dissolved as he looked at his friend. “I’m sorry, man. And I’m sorry for what I said to Jordan. I guess I just never thought I’d see you fighting this battle.”

Jon chuckled. “Yeah. Neither did I.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, too. I don’t mean to be insensitive to what you’re going through.” He smiled. “If I wasn’t so fucking crazy about her I’d have already set the two of you up, if it's any consolation.”

Richie shook his head, smiling. “Not much, but thanks.” He laughed. “I just wish you would have told me before I made an ass of myself.”

They showered before returning to the hotel. “I’m calling it a night,” Jon said, and Richie nodded. “Look, I know I don’t need to tell you this but…”

Richie shook his head. “Don’t worry.”

Jon smiled. “Thanks.”

“What are you going to do?”

Jon sighed. “I wish I knew.”

“Well, look…if there’s anything I can do, let me know.” Richie offered, then chuckled. “Because I am such an expert on relationships and women…”

Jon smirked. “And here I am, the poster boy for rock and roll marriages. Don’t think I don’t realize how crazy this is.”

They embraced then, and Richie slapped his friend on the back.

“She is pretty fantastic though. I can see how it happened.” Richie smiled. “And I haven’t even seen her naked.”

Jon laughed, shaking his head. “And you won’t. See you in the morning.”

He let himself into his room and then into Jordan’s through the connecting doors. He found her soaking in the tub.

“Hey there,” he said, from the doorway. “Are you okay?”

She looked up at him and smiled sadly. “I don’t know. That depends. Are you?”

He pulled his shirt over his head and kicked off his shoes. “Yes. I’m fine. And so is Richie.” He reached to undo his jeans. “Can I join you?”

She nodded, and he removed the jeans before sliding in behind her. He pulled her against him and kissed the top of her head. “Look…he’s my best friend, and we fight like brothers. We had it out and everything is fine. And he’s sorry for what he said to you today.” He rested his chin on her shoulder. “You know what I want now?”

Jordan smiled softly. “Oh I think I can guess.”

He laughed. “And you think I have a dirty mind.” He nuzzled her ear. “I just want to be with you ."

To next section...

Sunday, January 14

Chapter Twenty-eight

Jordan was still in a bit of a daze when the dressing room door opened once again and the band poured in.

“God DAMN,” David said, his smile wide. “Were we hot tonight or were we hot?”

“I don’t need no fucking stadium,” Richie answered, laughing. He scooped Jordan up and twirled her around, then bent her back and kissed her hard on the lips.

Jordan laughed, flustered. “What was that for?”

“For being our good luck charm,” he grinned, before moving to the cooler that was sitting on the table. He fished through it and pulled out a Heineken. “Whad’ya say, guys? Should we make it a ritual to kiss the lady before stepping on stage from here on out?”

Tico shrugged. “I could live with that. Kinda make up for having to look at Jon’s ass all night.”

Jon smiled, shaking his head. “You’re the only one complaining about looking at my ass,” he said, good-naturedly. He peeled off the T-shirt he had donned just before taking the stage after leaving Jordan in the dressing room. The torn blue linen shirt still lie on the floor where it had landed earlier, and he and Jordan looked at it at the same time before looking at one another, but no one seemed to notice.

“Hell, Jonny, you gotta admit—it was pretty fucking amazing out there,” Dave said, taking a beer for himself. He pried the top off. “Almost as good as sex.”

Jon smirked. “Almost,” he answered. “And pretty fucking amazing is right.” His eyes held Jordan’s for a moment before he looked back at the guys.

“Speaking of sex,” Richie began, and Jordan felt her heart leap into her throat. “I think the most perfect way to follow this show—”

“Besides the obvious, you mean?” Tico said, and they laughed.

Richie cocked an eyebrow. “Well, yeah. Although I suppose we could still go that route… I’m sure there are still plenty of girls outside.”

Jon shook his head. “Alright—I don’t wanna hear it. I’m getting in the shower.”

Richie laughed. “No-I mean, we are in Amsterdam. When’s the last time we were tourists here?”

Dave grinned. “Hell, yeah! Let’s do it.”

Jon grinned, shrugging. “What the hell.”

Jordan watched, puzzled, and Richie moved to her, putting a sweaty arm around her shoulders. “You wanna be one of the guys, Jords? This is your opportunity.”

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

A couple hours later they were wandering along a street in the famed Red Light District. Jon moved beside her, putting an arm around her as they slowed a bit to let the others gain a few steps in front of them.

“So how ya’ doin’?”

“I’m good,” she answered, smiling softly. “I’m hanging with the guys—you know, looking at naked women…”

“Naked women are good,” he laughed, and then squeezed her a bit more tightly. “But that wasn’t what I was asking.”

“I know. And I’m good there, too.” She looked at him. “Just trying to wrap my head around everything.”

“I know. Me too.” He leaned in to kiss her temple and brought his mouth to her ear. “But I have no regrets.”

Her heart jumped a little at his words, and she brought her eyes to his. “Neither do I.”

Dave’s voice interrupted them. “Hey you two, no talking shop—there is depravity to be experienced and enjoyed.” He waited for them to catch up and then moved between them, wrapping an arm around each of their shoulders. “Jords—he may be the boss but every once in a while we have to remind him that too much work and not enough play…”

Jon laughed. “I’m playing, I’m playing.” His mind flashed back to earlier in the evening.
If they only knew.

Richie and Tico slowed. “I think we need to go in here,” Richie said, pointing towards the sign over the doorway. In bold yellow letters it read “Sex Museum.”

Jon laughed, shaking his head. “Only if Jordan is okay with it—I don’t want a sexual harassment suit on my hands.”

Jordan looked at them—Richie was wiggling his eyebrows and Dave started whining like a puppy. She laughed. “How can I say no? Besides—I think I need to enjoy the full Amsterdam experience. Lead the way.”

Richie grinned broadly. “Jon, where DID you find this woman? She’s perfect. Can we keep her?”

Jon smiled. “Yes, she is.” And I’m working on it.

They wandered through the museum, laughing at some of the displays and even taking pictures next to a few of them. Jordan found herself blushing once or twice, but if anyone noticed they kept it to themselves—except for Jon. At one point, as they stood looking at some particularly erotic artwork, he moved up behind her and leaned in to whisper in her ear. “Is any of this having the same effect on you that it is on me?”

She moved on, pretending to be offended. “I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.”

He chuckled. “I thought so.” They moved into the fetish room and came to an S&M display, complete with leather, whips and other assorted costumes and accoutrement.

Jordan decided to pose a question to the group. “Okay, boys, seriously: how big of a turn on is this?”

Tico spoke up. “This isn’t going into the book, is it?” They all laughed.

“No,” Jordan responded, smiling. “I’m just curious as to how many men really have this kind of fantasy.”

Richie shrugged. “Well I for one am not into pain. But a half-naked slave girl calling me Master—hell, yeah.” The others nodded in agreement.

Jordan’s jaw dropped, and she looked at Jon, who cocked his head and give her a crooked grin. “I don’t believe you guys!” She laughed. What IS it with men and the I-Dream-of-Jeanie thing?”

Dave laughed. “You don’t really have to ask, do you?”

“Oh, come on Jords, are you trying to say that you’ve never wanted some guy to cater to your every whim?” Richie teased. “Maybe call you Mistress J or something?”

Jordan couldn’t help but laugh. “Mistress J?” She glanced at Jon, who was refusing to get involved, an amused smile at his lips.

Richie grinned. “Sure. If you want we can start calling you that instead.”

She rolled her eyes. “Thanks, but no.”

“Fine. We offered.” Richie was having fun. “So nothing kinky? Really? I don’t believe it. You’re a little too rock and roll to be that straight-laced. So what is it? Being tied up with silk scarves or something?”

Jon raised his eyebrows and opened his eyes wide, as if eagerly awaiting her response.

“Jon,” Jordan pleaded.

He shook his head. “You started it, baby.” He chuckled. “You wanna hang with the boys you’d better get bigger balls.”

She sighed. “I can see I’m totally outnumbered here.”

“Pretty much, yeah,” Jon responded. “So what is it? Silk scarves or do you prefer handcuffs?”

“Feathers?” Dave offered.
“Blindfolds?” Tico added.

“Or maybe chocolate sauce.” Richie suggested, and Jon choked down a laugh at the stunned look on Jordan’s face.

“I think we have a winner,” Dave grinned.

Jordan gave a resigned sigh. “I hate all of you.”

“Yeah you do.” Richie laughed. He put an arm around Jordan and they moved on to the next display. “So, Dave. Feathers… really?”

Dave nodded. “Well, I tried using the whole chicken once and it was a little much.”

Jordan burst out laughing.

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

On the ride back to the hotel, Jordan was surprised when Jon reached to take her hand in his. Sure, it was dark and no one could really see, but still…normally in the presence of the others, any physical contact they had was either brief or seemingly innocent—sometimes both.

He lay his head back against the headrest, his eyes closed, and squeezed her hand before letting his thumb caress the back of her hand gently. She found it oddly comforting, especially since she wasn’t aware she even needed comforting at that moment.

The past eighteen hours or so had been intensely emotional and in many ways she was still reeling from it all.

You want me to say it? I’ll say it. I love you.

Her heart quickened at the memory. She’d heard it from other men before, of course, but not like this. It was as if he’d made a confession, not a proclamation. Then the passion with which they’d come together afterwards…

In any other situation it might have seemed seedy, but instead it had felt so appropriate—and necessary, even, as if words alone were not sufficient. As if they needed to consummate the admission right then and there.

The memory of it, combined with the erotic images she’d been witness to after, made her want him again. She suddenly couldn’t wait to get him alone. She smiled softly to herself and let go of his hand, sliding her hand up his thigh.

He chuckled quietly and stretched his legs out in front of him, as Dave, Richie and Tico traded barbs in the seats behind them.
Sometimes it was just good to be him.

It was late and they were all dragging when they stepped off the elevator, but it was a satisfied weariness. They hugged each other goodnight before retiring to their rooms.

Once they were safely inside their suite, Jon reached for Jordan without even turning on the light. “Okay, you little tease,” he said, kissing her. “Was that sex museum just too much for you or what?”

Through the moonlight streaming in the window he saw her smile. “Maybe a little,” she answered. “I just…” Her voice trailed off as she brought her mouth to his, her tongue sliding between his lips. She unbuttoned his shirt and let her mouth trail down his chest and across his stomach, as her fingers undid the buttons on his jeans. She was insistent and forceful, and he had no inclination to stop her. When he felt her mouth envelope him, he fell back against the door.

“Jordan,” he managed, trying to summon an argument to stop her before it was too late, but the feel of her mouth, her tongue and her hands on him was more than he could fight. And the sight of her, clearly hungry for him, for his pleasure, made his knees weak.

She took her time, relishing the sensation of the silkiness of him on her tongue and the pulsations of his desire. If she wasn’t able to say the words, she could at least convey the message. She felt his legs quivering as a hand tangled in her hair and heard his voice as his climax approached.

“Jordan…baby…I…” he gasped, as she took him deep in her throat. When she finally released him, he slid down the door, his heart pounding. He pulled her to him, his voice shaky. “Holy shit.”

She let him hold her there, her head resting against him, feeling his heart thudding against his chest.

“Wow,” he said finally. “What did I do to deserve that?”

She looked at him. “What makes you think that was for you?” She smiled softly.

He chuckled. “And that would be the nail in my coffin.” He smoothed her hair back. “How did you come into my life?”

She smiled. “Just lucky, I guess.”

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

A few days later, they were enjoying brunch on the terrace of their Dusseldorf Hotel before leaving for Vienna when Chris interrupted them. “Jon, the car is out front to take you to the airport.”

Jon looked at his band mates and at Jordan to see if they were playing some kind of joke on him. From the looks on their faces he could tell that probably wasn’t the case. “What are talking about? What car?”

“Your trip to London? Did that get cancelled? It’s still on my calendar.” Chris looked worried that he’d screwed up.

Jon’s head dropped. “Shit. I forgot. Damn it.” He sighed. “Fuck. Tell them I’ll be down in about ten.” Chris nodded and left to deliver the message. “Fucking photo shoot I agreed to do for a friend,” he explained to the rest of them. He couldn’t believe he’d forgotten; of course he’d been a little distracted lately…

He sighed again. “So much for breakfast,” he said, rising. “I guess I’ll see you guys in Austria some time tonight.” He looked at Jordan for a moment, and they both realized there was no way he could kiss her goodbye without it looking suspicious.

Richie spoke up. “Don’t worry about it. We don’t have sound check until later tomorrow anyway. And Jords has been doing this with us long enough now that you don’t need to baby sit her.”

He was right, of course. “Alright,” Jon said, although he was clearly not thrilled. He really did not want to go play model.

After he left, Tico laughed. “I wouldn’t want to be that cameraman today.”

Dave laughed. “No shit. I can’t believe he forgot—he’s usually the one on top of the itinerary.”

Richie shrugged. “He’ll be fine. You know how he is, he’ll pout for a while and then do what is expected of him.”

On the short flight to London, Jon berated himself again. It was so unlike him to not be totally aware of his schedule. But his mind wasn’t exactly where it should be these days, and he knew it. Between the tour and this latest twist in his personal life, things were bound to fall through the cracks. It was not easy keeping his relationship with Jordan a secret, and then trying to make sense of his own emotions…it was tiring, to say the least.

How had this happened? He’d had no intention of falling in love with her, although in retrospect he realized he had done little to prevent it. It wasn’t as if he’d ever really bought into that “one true love” bullshit, but he’d been surrounded by long, solid marriages his whole life. Occasional sexual indiscretions happened, but hell—that was just exchanging fluids. He was fairly sure that his wife enjoyed her own dalliances on occasion, and oddly enough it didn’t bother him that much. He didn’t want to see it or hear about it, but to him it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, because in the end he was the father of her children and it was his bed where she slept and his home where they’d made a life. And it was she who had helped make him everything he was today.

But this thing with Jordan…it was different on so many levels, and his love for her was just as real. And the freshness of it—the thrill of discovering new things about each other, both in and out of the bedroom—it was enough to cloud anyone’s judgment. He loved her combination of strength and vulnerability. Her intelligence, compassion, and humor were just as sexy as her physical beauty, and their sexual chemistry was the inevitable result of it all.

He sighed. What the hell was he going to do? If he weren’t famous it would be much easier, he realized. Men did it all the time. He smiled wryly to himself. For the first time in his life he found himself seeing how polygamy might just make a little sense.

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

Tico’s wife had flown in to surprise them and was waiting when they arrived at the hotel in Vienna. Jordan was stunned by the woman’s beauty. After the two of them disappeared upstairs to their room, Richie and Dave laughed. “Yeah…our wives used to surprise us, too.”

Jordan felt her heart jump. It had never occurred to her that Jon’s wife might just show up. She realized, however, that Jon probably had already thought of that and surely wouldn’t take such risks if there was a chance they’d get caught. It was one thing taking chances around the band—but being discovered by his wife was something Jordan couldn’t even fathom having to face.

We’ll figure this out. I promise.

“I’m told there is a pool table in my suite,” Richie was saying. “Do you guys want to come over? I could use a night in, I think. We could order some food up and lay low.”

Dave nodded. “Works for me. Jords?”

Jordan smiled. “Sounds good.”

Two hours later she was laughing so hard her face hurt. The two of them played off one another like a comedy act, and she realized that, rock stars or not, they were two of the most down-to-earth, unassuming men she’d ever met in her life. The stories they shared and the jokes they told once again reminded Jordan how truly fortunate she was to have been given this opportunity, both professionally and personally.

They were on their third bottle of wine when Dave set his wine glass on the coffee table and announced he was calling it a night. “So soon, really?” Jordan was surprised.

Dave nodded. “Yeah. I’m feeling a little bit of a cold coming on, and since we have a show tomorrow night I thought it might be good to try to stave it off sooner rather than later.” He also was keenly aware that Richie would like to be left alone with her, and this was one woman he thought worthy of his friend. “You need to quit dating starlets, pal, and date someone you know isn’t using you for publicity,” he’d told him just a day earlier.

Richie and Jordan finished the bottle themselves, their conversation eventually turning to more serious topics. She told him of her parents’ divorce and her mother’s death, of her relationship with her sister and how close she was to Tina and Kevin. He told her about growing up as an only child and why his band mates were truly his brothers in every sense of the word but the literal. He expressed his concerns for his own parents’ health and smiled as he talked about the joys of fatherhood, moving next to her on the couch to share pictures of his daughter.

She smiled. “Wow, she’s beautiful. And I bet she has her daddy wrapped around her finger,” she added.

His brown eyes sparkled. “Are you kidding? She is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done. You should try it,” he said, smiling.

Too late she realized he was moving in to kiss her.

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

Jon’s stomach was growling as he stepped onto the charter plane to take him to Austria. The photo shoot had gone fine, as those things go. He’d been fussed over, made up and posed, fluffed and sprayed until he thought he’d scream. Fortunately they’d kept the wine flowing so he’d at least kept some amount of humor through it all. But not much.

Once in the air he accepted another glass of wine and a fruit and cheese plate. He really wanted a nice steak dinner but this was better than nothing. He was tired, hungry and grouchy. He really could have used a down day—his life was starting to kick his ass, much as he hated to admit it. And right now he was envious of his band mates who were enjoying an evening of no obligations. He thought of Jordan and wondered how she’d spent her day. And if she was as anxious to see him as he was her. It had been less than twelve hours and he was already missing her. Get a grip, man. He shook his head and downed his wine before signaling for another. “Just leave the bottle,” he instructed.

When the plane landed there was a car waiting for him. As he slid inside, he saw an open bottle of wine chilling on ice. He chuckled. The grape gods were with him tonight.

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

Richie’s mouth was soft and warm on hers, and it wasn’t until she felt his tongue sneak through her lips that Jordan pulled away. “I’m sorry,” she said, quietly. “I think we’ve had too much wine.”

“We’re not doing anything wrong,” he said quietly. “And wine or no, I’ve been wanting to do that for quite a while, beautiful.”

Jordan’s mind was swimming. She hadn’t meant to lead him on, but even through the wine haze she realized that he had every reason to think it was okay to kiss her. She was alone with him in his hotel room, drinking wine and having some very intimate conversation. And as far as he knew, she was totally available.
God Jordan, what were you thinking?

“What, you don’t like the way I kiss?” he teased, and she laughed.

“No, it’s not that,” she answered. Not at all. In fact, if the situation were different she was quite sure she’d be going back for more. “It’s just that…” In all good conscience she couldn’t use the “we work together” excuse. And she liked him—and respected him—too much to lie. But she couldn’t tell him the real reason, either.

Finally she said, “I just was taken a little by surprise, that’s all. And I’m tired and a little drunk…”

Richie smiled. He was a little surprised at her reluctance—it wasn’t something that happened to him very often—but he realized it made her even more intriguing. He suspected she wasn’t quite over her ex yet, but that was something he could work around. He leaned in to kiss her cheek. “Okay. How about we watch a movie instead?”

She smiled, grateful for his understanding. “Actually, I think I should call it a night. I hear my bed calling my name.”

He winked at her. “Are you sure it’s not my bed you hear?”

She laughed then, and reached out to muss his hair. “You’re incorrigible.”

“Well, If you change your mind, you know where I am.”

She smiled. “Yes, I do. And I’m sure I’m missing out.”

He grinned. “You don’t know the half of it.” They stood and he walked with her to the door. “Sweet dreams,” he said, kissing her cheek once again. Jordan smiled.
Like brothers.

Richie sighed as he walked to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He stripped off his clothes and stepped in. He closed his eyes and let the hot water rain down on him. He wasn’t prepared to give up on her just yet. In the meantime…

His hand wandered down across his stomach. The feel of those lips on his had only increased the ache between his legs, and he pictured her lying beneath him as he addressed his desire himself.

He was toweling off when he heard a knock on the door of his suite. Sure, after I jacked off. He smiled to himself. Surely he couldn’t be that lucky. He pulled his jeans back on before going to answer it.

He pulled the door open to find Jon standing on the other side. “Hey buddy, how’d it go?” He stepped aside and motioned Jon in.

“Fine,” Jon grumbled. “Remind me next time how much I hate those things.” He noticed the spread of food on the table and walked to it. He poured a glass of wine and reached for one of the shrimp, dipping it in the cocktail sauce. “Where is everyone?”

“Tico’s in his room with the little woman and Dave decided to call it an early night,” Richie answered. “You just missed Jordan.”

Jon nodded, reaching for another shrimp. “So did you all just stay in tonight?” His words were slurred and Richie realized his friend was more than a little drunk.

“Yeah. Good food, wine, friends… you missed out.” He grinned.

Jon sighed. “Don’t rub it in.” He drained his wine glass and filled it again before sinking into one of the chairs.

Obviously something was on his mind, Richie could tell. The challenge was figuring out whether he wanted to talk about it or not. He poured himself a glass from the bottle and then sat down as well.

“Do you ever miss the days when it wasn’t so complicated?” Jon asked.

Richie laughed. “Jon, it’s always been complicated.”

Jon nodded. “Yeah, but you know what I mean…when we could do what we wanted without worrying about the consequences.” He sighed. “Like drink as much as we felt like and not care if we were hungover the next day?”

“I miss a lot of it,” Richie answered. He laughed. “Right now I’m missing the women.”

Jon grinned. “You remember those cocktail waitresses in… where were we?”

“The redhead and that girl from Brazil?”

“Yeah, them.”

“Houston,” Richie answered.

“Damn. Sometimes I can still picture that…” He shook his head. “I don’t know where the hell that came from. I haven’t thought of that in years.”

“Well, if you’re going to summon a memory, that one isn’t a bad one. I know I’ve found it useful on occasion…”

“True.” Jon took another drink. “But you know…I wouldn’t go back.”

Richie smiled. “Actually, neither would I. But we have some great stories.”

“We did our share of mindless fucking, didn’t we?”

“Our share and then some. Of course our options were a little more enticing back then,” Richie shook his head. “There was not one woman in the lobby when we checked in today that I would even consider bringing up here.” He laughed lightly. “Well, I guess there was one…”

Jon perked up. “Yeah? Wanna go see if she’s still there?”

Richie shook his head. “No, she’s not.” He grinned sheepishly. “She’s in her room across the hall.”

Jon was taking another drink as the words penetrated his mind. He let the liquid pour down his throat and reached for the bottle again.

“Rich, don’t. Not this one.”

“Jon, come on. We’re not twenty-five anymore. I’m not just looking to win the who-gets-to-fuck-her game.”

“I know. But just take my advice and let this one go.” Jon leaned his head back against the cushion and closed his eyes.

Richie felt himself getting annoyed. “Why? Because you say so? Why do you get to stake your claim? Shouldn’t we at least give her a chance to explore her options?”

Jon laughed, shaking his head. “You just don’t get it, do you?”

“Get what?”

Jon opened his eyes and lifted his head, his eyes meeting Richie’s. “She was mine before you even met her.”

Richie regarded his friend for a moment. In his mind, he went back over the past few months, from how they’d met her, to her appearance in Los Angeles...

…the bar in Dublin…
…the shared suite in Amsterdam…
…Jordan’s reluctance with him earlier…
…and now, his very drunk and troubled friend sitting in front of him.

Jordan heard an insistent knock on her door and rose from her bed, pulling her robe over her shoulders as she moved to the door. She opened it and found Richie standing outside, his arms supporting a very drunken Jon.

“I assume this is where I should deposit him,” Richie said simply.

She opened her mouth to reply and Richie shook his head. “Just take him.”

To next section...

Friday, January 5

Chapter Twenty-seven

Jon had gone to his own shower after hanging up and finding Jordan’s bathroom door locked. Fuck. He knew that had to hurt. Hell, he hurt for her. He could only imagine the emotions she was dealing with. He also couldn’t ignore the turmoil he was feeling in his own stomach. Shit. He ran a hand through his hair and reached to turn the shower on.

As he stepped in, it occurred to him that he was lucky it hadn’t happened sooner. He always provided his wife with a copy of his itinerary, and she was one of the few people who knew what name he listed his rooms under. She seldom called, however, instead letting him take the lead depending on his schedule. He liked it that way, especially now—to avoid just this situation. In fact, he had spoken to her before jumping in the shower the night before, catching her right after she put the youngest kids to bed.

It turned out that after they’d hung up she had thought of something else she’d meant to tell him, regarding a piece of real estate they were looking into. But she’d also confessed that she woke up missing him, and tossed out the idea of leaving the kids with their parents and coming to join him for a week.

He found himself scrambling for a plausible reason that would discourage her, but she’d managed to talk herself out of the idea before he had to, much to his relief. It didn’t, however, make him feel like less of an ass…lying naked in another woman’s bed, still covered in her scent.

It was only a matter of time before his two lives collided, he knew. He decided to consider himself grateful that the collision had turned out to be a minor one. At least he hoped so.

He got dressed and took a moment to pull back the covers on the bed and make it look like it had been slept in—a habit they both had started doing, just in case. He emerged from his bedroom and found Jordan setting up her laptop at the desk.

“You’re not coming to rehearsal?”

She shook her head, not looking up at him. “No, I want to stay here and get some work done. I have a lot of notes from the past few days and have kind of been slacking on my duties.” She was speaking quickly, nervously, and trying to pretend as if nothing was wrong. “I also have to go through the pictures and clean up those files, and…”

He interrupted her. “Jordan, stop. Look at me.” She shook her head and looked away.

“Jordan. I’m sorry about earlier—I didn’t expect…” he sighed. “Please, baby. Look at me.”

She brought her eyes to his and he cringed inwardly. Her eyes were red and a little swollen.

“Baby, I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at me.”

Jordan smiled softly, shaking her head. “I’m not mad at you, Jon. I have no right to be mad at you. I’m…I’m mad at myself, I guess.”

He wasn’t expecting that. “What do you mean? Why?”

She looked at him. “For letting myself…” her voice trailed off.

He shook his head, moving closer to her. “Don’t be,” he said, softly, taking her into his arms. He smoothed her hair back and kissed her. “I gotta get going. You get some work done while I’m gone.” He kissed her again. “And don’t worry.”

Don’t worry. It was easier said than done, he realized. For both of them.

At rehearsal, he made some alterations on the set list he had begun the day before, then passed it out to the band and crew. An hour and several mistakes and bad chords later, he felt his frustration boil to the surface. “For Christ’s sake—you’d think we were American Idol rejects or something,” he snapped, shoving his mic stand to the floor and storming off.

He headed out the back door, taking a moment to search Tico’s jacket pockets for a cigarette before he did. He’d been refraining from his habit as much as possible since the tour started, and learned that not carrying them with him helped a lot. But right now he needed a smoke. He found Tico’s stash and took one, lighting it with the lighter he also found. He put the pack and the lighter back and returned the jacket to the hook before stepping outside.

When he returned, he appeared a bit calmer. “Okay, let’s see if we can get it right this time.” The rest of the band exchanged glances but said nothing.

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

Jordan stared at the picture she’d pulled up on her screen. She had been snapping candid shots when Jon looked over and noticed her; he’d tipped his head just slightly, a small smile at his lips. There was something so intimate about the picture that she couldn’t look at it without feeling a tremor of emotion pass through her. She heard his voice in her mind.

Jordan. How long are you going to continue to tell yourself this is all about sex?

She sighed heavily. Of course it wasn’t, and she knew it. Deep down she wasn’t sure it ever really was. And as time had gone by, well…

She had been living in a bit of denial for the past several weeks, she knew. Especially since they’d arrived in Europe. Not only had she been denying the feelings she had for him, but she refused to let herself believe that his feelings for her were anything more than fondness—a temporary affection that was fueled by explosive sex.

Yet as each day passed they grew closer. They had a rhythm with each other and a comfort level that seemed almost surreal, given the situation. She knew she meant something to him, yet she wasn’t sure how much or what exactly it all meant, because she had no doubt he loved his wife.

His wife. There was a time in her life when she would never have even considered doing what she was doing; hell, she was the product of a broken home. For years she’d hated her step-mother for breaking up their family, and she had no interest in hearing how much the woman loved her father, or how much he loved her. Ironically Jordan now found herself feeling empathy for her—for them.

She took a deep breath, blowing it out her mouth slowly. It is what it is. Except she finally had to admit she didn’t know what it was. She gazed once again at the picture looking back at her from her computer screen.
How did she end up here?

She heard Jon’s key card and closed her laptop, looking up just as the door to the suite opened. He entered the room, removing his jacket and tossing it on a chair before bending to kiss her cheek. “Hey,” he said softly. “How’s it goin’?” She knew he didn’t just mean work.

“Good,” she answered, nodding. “I got quite a bit done.” Neither of them mentioned what had happened earlier, but the reality of it was present, nonetheless. “How was rehearsal?”

He smirked. “Let’s just say it’s a good thing we did it. Playing a small show is different in a lot of ways than a big one. I don’t want a big arena presence on a small stage. But by the time we were done it was fine. It should be a good show.” He hesitated then. “You’re coming, right?”

She smiled softly, standing. “Of course.” Their eyes met in a mutual acknowledgement, and she let him take her into his arms.

He held her tightly, stroking her hair. “I’m glad.” They stood that way for a few moments before he finally released her, reaching to lift her face to his. He was saddened but not surprised to see remnants of the day’s earlier turmoil still haunting her eyes. He wanted to ask her if she was sorry she’d come but was afraid of what she might answer, so instead he kissed her—softly at first but then more urgently, and he felt her respond in kind.

When they stopped, they rested their foreheads together, their eyes closed. Finally he reached to take her hands in his. “Okay, I gotta go to the gym. Wanna come?”

She shook her head. “No—I think I might try to catch a nap.” She smiled sheepishly. “I think this rock and roll lifestyle is starting to catch up with me.”

He chuckled. “That can happen—especially if you’re not used to it.” He kissed her again, then pulled away to go change into his workout clothes.

A few minutes after he’d left, there was a knock on the door. Jordan was stifling a yawn when she pulled the door open, finding Richie on the other side, about to knock again.

“Hey, Jords,” he said, smiling broadly as he entered, not waiting for an invitation. “We missed you today at rehearsal.” He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.

“Yes, well, I decided it might be a good idea to stay back and actually get some work done while I had the room to myself,” she answered, returning his smile.

Richie nodded. “Makes sense.” He looked around then. “Where’s Jonny? I had a couple thoughts about tonight.”

Jordan shook her head. “He’s not here—he went down to work out.”

“Oh, shit. Well, I can come back,” Richie said, then paused. “Unless you want some company.”

She smiled, and decided some distracting conversation might be nice. And Richie made her laugh, which she desperately could use right now. “Sure, why not?”

She offered him a drink and he took a Coke, then he joined her on the couch in the living room. The visited mostly about being on the road, with Richie regaling her with story after story of the early days, from groupies and drunk fests to bad hotel rooms and food poisoning, along with the challenges of balancing their rock star personas with their personal lives and families. He grew serious for a moment. “Obviously that’s one big downside to it—sacrificing your family life for these guys and a job that you love.” That was the first reference she’d heard him make to his pending divorce.

“It must be hard going through such a personal thing in such a public way,” she said, without prodding.

He nodded. “Yeah—it sucks. But we make our choices.” He shrugged. “What about you—ever been married?”

Jordan shook her head. “No; I was engaged until a few months ago but that ended after…” Her memory flashed back briefly to the Drake hotel in Chicago. “After I found out he was still seeing his ex.”

“Ouch. Well, at least you found out before and not after the wedding,” he offered, and she laughed, nodding. “So that’s it? No starter marriages or anything? I can’t believe a woman like you doesn’t have a string of men beating down your door.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, thank you, but not really. There was a guy a long time ago that I had thought I would marry, but it turned out he wasn’t the marrying type.” She laughed lightly again. “Unfortunately for me, I kept hoping he’d change his mind and let him drift in and out of my life for a few years before I finally got strong enough to kick him to the curb.”
Why was she telling him all this?

“Wow. You must have really loved the guy to put yourself through that,” Richie responded, seeming genuinely interested.

Jordan shrugged. “Either that or I was just stupid. It’s a girl thing, I think—the part that never gets past hoping that the guy who broke your heart will finally pull his head out of his ass and show up on your doorstep with roses and a diamond ring.”

Richie laughed. “Damn, give me a pen; I gotta write that down before I forget it.”

They were both laughing when Jon entered the room, sweaty from his workout. “Am I interrupting something?”

“Hey buddy,” Richie responded. “I came over to run a couple things by you but you weren’t here so I decided to keep Jords company for a while.”

Jon smirked. Richie had known damned good and well he wouldn’t be there—he’d told them he was going to the gym. “Well, I’m here now. Whad’ya got?”

Jordan rose, excusing herself. “I think I might still try to catch that nap,” she said. “You two can talk shop.”

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

At the theatre that night, the vibe was definitely different than Jordan had witnessed at prior shows. The venue held 4500 people at the most. The stage was scaled back and significantly smaller than the one she’d grown accustomed to seeing, and many members of the crew had been given the night off.

The members of the audience were clearly aware they were about to witness something special. As the lights dimmed in the room and the customary roar of the crowd went up, the band members exchanged their high fives before heading towards the stage. As they filed past her, much to her surprise, each of them leaned in to kiss her…Dave first, then Tico, then Richie, and she laughed. When Jon reached her, he smiled. “It was Dave’s idea; he thought it might bring us luck.”

“You need luck tonight?” She asked, smiling.

He grinned. “Couldn’t hurt.” He reached behind her head, pulling her to him and bringing her mouth to his. His tongue snaked in briefly to tease at hers and then he was gone.

They were on fire, and the intimacy of the venue only enhanced the experience. Watching from the wings, Jordan found it easy to get lost in the moment more than once, forgetting that she was part of the inside now.

She was excited to hear songs she had yet to hear on the tour, including a few deep tracks from the lesser-known albums released a decade or so earlier. About ninety minutes into the show, while the band members took a quick bathroom break or changed shirts, the crew set up a row of stools. When they returned to the stage, they took their places among the stools and launched into an acoustic set.

It was bluesy and sexy and Jordan loved it. The harmonies were beautiful and she noticed that Jon’s voice was as strong as she’d heard—it was passionate and honest, and she felt fortunate to be among the relatively small audience getting to enjoy it. They were having fun, being musicians first and performers second.

Just when she thought it couldn’t get any better, they launched into a sultry version of “Fever.” She laughed as Jon fought to stay seated, and the women in the crowd screamed in appreciation when he rose and adopted an Elvis-like stance. He was oozing sex, she thought—and he had every woman in the audience wrapped completely around his finger, herself included.

The song ended and they took their bows and exited the stage, preparing for their final encore. The crew ran on stage to remove the stools and the cheers grew louder as the band returned and plugged back in.

Jon ran a hand through his sweat-drenched hair as he moved to the microphone. “We just wanna thank everyone for comin’ out tonight; we don’t get to do small shows like this very often and it’s a real treat. Believe it or not, this is sometimes more nerve-wracking than big arena or stadium shows; it’s like playing to a small group of our closest friends, so it means a lot to us to get it right. I hope we have tonight.” He smiled and the audience cheered loudly.

“Well I hope you’ve had as much fun as we have. Here’s one we don’t do very often—a little tune about forbidden love. I’m guessing some of you know what I’m talking about.” He sought her out and held her eyes with his as Tico counted it down and Richie’s guitar kicked in. He slowly looked away as he leaned into the microphone, closing his eyes.

Lying here beside you in someone else’s bed…
Knowing what we’re doing’s wrong but better left unsaid…

Jordan felt her heart quicken. It was a song of passion, betrayal and dishonesty—a song she had both loved and hated for its hard-driving rawness and honesty from the moment she had heard it.

Damned if you love me

Damned if you don't
It's getting harder holding on
but I can't let you go
Damned if you don't need me
Damned if you do
God, I wish it wasn't me
standing in these shoes…

She watched, almost in disbelief, as he eased himself around the stage, his hips moving sensually, his words lustful and breathy. Then the music got faster and his dancing became more frenetic, the maracas in his hands matching the tempo of his hips. Suddenly the music slowed and the spotlight settled on him. He was breathing heavily into microphone, his eyes still closed as he shook his head slowly. “Sshhh…” he whispered. Jordan felt her knees grow weak when he started to sing again.

If lovin’ you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…
If being right means being without you
I’d rather live a wrong doin’ life
Your friends tell you there’s no future lovin’ a married man
If I can’t see you when I want
I’ll see you when I can…

Jordan stood, transfixed, as he seduced his entire audience, yet she knew the performance was intended for her.

Come on in baby, and close the door
I’ll pour you a cold, hard drink
Turn the radio up a little louder
So you can’t hear my heartbeat
It’s hard for me to say
I can’t find the words
To tell you what’s on my mind

Now come here baby, and wrap your arms around me.
I won’t tell anybody…it’ll be our little secret.

It was, without a doubt, the sexiest thing she’d ever seen—the drumbeats, the guitar rifts, the primal screams he let loose before dropping to his knees on the stage, where he sat, panting heavily. Slowly he rose, crawling up the microphone, his body pulsating sensually, much to the delight of his audience.

Our lives are getting twisted

let's keep our stories straight
The more that I resist it
my temptation turns to fate

The music got louder and faster as he drove it home, whipping the crowd into an even bigger frenzy, and on the final note of the song, he knocked the microphone stand to the floor, just before the lights went out.

The screams were deafening as he disappeared behind the stage, taking a towel from the wardrobe woman. He looked backed to where Jordan was standing and their eyes locked for a moment before she shook her head and turned, walking quickly out of his sight. Shit.

Richie appeared at his side, taking a long gulp of water from the bottle offered to him. “Shit, Jon, we could leave it there and no one would complain,” he offered, patting his friend on the back. Jon shook his head.

“Nah, let’s go ahead and finish it. Take your time on the intro though; I need a few minutes,” he said, then added with a grin, “I gotta hit the head and I don’t think it can wait.”

Richie laughed. “What the hell did you have for lunch?” He set the water bottle back down. “Don’t worry, I got it.” He moved back toward the stage, accepting his double-necked guitar from the guitar tech.

Jon turned the corner just in time to see Jordan disappear into the dressing room at the end of the hall. His strides increased as he followed her, and he heard Richie break into a slow, sultry solo.

He burst into the dressing room, where he found her shaking as she attempted to pour a glass from one of the wine bottles that had been chilling on ice. She set both the glass and the bottle down when she saw him turning the lock on the door.

Neither of them said a word as he moved to her, pulling her to him. She squirmed, a feeble attempt to escape his embrace. “Jon, no…” she said, shaking her head vehemently and once again fighting back tears.

“Jordan,” he said, huskily, his breathing hard. “Stop it.”

“Let me go,” she answered, her struggles weakening but still refusing to look at him. “You can’t… I can’t… we can’t…”

“Dammit, Jordan, stop it,” he said, resisting the urge to shake her. He gripped her shoulders, pressing her against the wall. “You want me to say it? I’ll say it. I love you.”

She looked at him then, her heart pounding. Her lips were trembling—as much from desire as anything else, and a tear slipped down her cheek as he brought his face closer to hers and his fingers tangled in her hair. “Tell me you don’t love me too,” he breathed in her ear.

Her struggles stopped as he once again brought his eyes to hers. She didn’t answer him but instead pulled his mouth to hers, tearing at the thin blue linen of the sweat-drenched shirt he was wearing and pushing it off his shoulders.

They kissed hungrily, their admission having stoked the seductive fire that had been lit on stage earlier. Her hands were shaking as she tugged at the buttons on his pants, and he moaned as he reached to help her release his erection before pulling her skirt up over her hips. He pulled the crotch of her panties aside and entered her as the roar of the crowd and Richie’s guitar screamed in the background.

He said the words again as he slammed into her, and they both came quickly and noisily before collapsing against one another, trembling.

“Shit,” he panted. “I gotta get back out there.”

She nodded, unable to speak, and realized she could hear the opening chords of the final song. He reluctantly disengaged from her arms, and they both gasped when he pulled out of her. “Damn,” he said, with a shudder. He fastened his pants, shaking his head as the weight of what had just transpired settled on him. He heard Richie start the opening verse, and realized he couldn’t wait any longer.

It’s all the same…
Only the names will change.
Every day…
It seems we’re wasting away.

He reached out, cupping Jordan’s face in his hand. “We’ll figure this out, I promise.” She nodded and watched as he left her to return to the stage.

His words echoed in her mind.
Will we?

To next section...

Wednesday, January 3

Chapter Twenty-six

The clock read 7:14 when Jordan finally opened her eyes. It took her a moment to realize where she was; she almost felt hung over. The room was dark but there was a tiny strip of light sneaking in between the opening in the heavy curtains. She rolled over, expecting to curl herself around Jon, and found she was alone, the sheets next to her cold.

She sat up slowly, rubbing her eyes. She slipped out of bed and walked to the bathroom, not bothering to turn on the light.

She flushed the toilet then washed her hands and took a hit of mouthwash before pulling the robe off its hook. She slid it over her shoulders as she walked through the open doors between her suite and Jon’s, and snuck into his bedroom, where she found him sleeping soundly. The morning light was creeping in his windows and she sat on the bed beside him, reaching out to run her fingers lightly through his hair before bending down to kiss him on the cheek. He opened his eyes sleepily.

“Hey there,” he mumbled.

“Is there room in there for me?” she asked, smiling.

“Like you need to ask,” he answered, and she shed the robe before sliding in next to him. He pulled her close, kissing the top of her head. She snuggled closely, her head resting on his chest.

“I was surprised to wake up alone,” she said quietly. “I thought you were going to join me last night.” She felt him chuckle.

“I did join you. You don’t remember?” He felt her shake her head against him. “Oh, great. As if it wasn’t humiliating enough. Then you don’t even remember what little there was?” He told her then, making every effort to sound insulted. “I have a good mind to never go down on you again.”

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry,” Jordan couldn’t help but think back to the day before and all their foiled attempts. “Do you just hate me? Is that why you came in here—because you were mad?” She realized she wasn’t prepared to deal with anger from him.

He laughed. “No, I don’t hate you. But you’re definitely not living it down any time soon, either.” He squeezed her. “And I came in here because I couldn’t stand lying next to your naked body.” He decided to skip the part about not feeling comfortable seeking release on his own with her lying right next to him. It hadn’t been particularly satisfying but it had provided some relief, and he’d fallen asleep immediately after.

“Well,” she said, bringing her lips to his. “I’m prepared to make it up to you right now, if you want. Unless you want to go back to sleep.”

He grinned lazily, sliding his leg between hers. “How about we do both?” A half hour later they fell into a satisfied slumber, sleeping another hour or so before rising.

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

The days went by quickly, Jordan discovered, and her battle with jet lag was short, largely due to necessity. Their schedule wasn’t a normal one, yet she found it oddly easy to adjust. Their days didn’t really start until afternoon and it was well into the wee hours of the morning before they called it a night.

Sometimes they’d arrive in a city the day before a show, other times the day of, depending on media schedules and other commitments. Jordan found it challenging to find a rhythm to her work; she was great at taking notes and pictures, but actually finding time to sit down and formulate her notes into something more substantial—not to mention readable for others—was another thing. It was too easy for her to let the guys talk her into staying and partying with them after a show, and she discovered it was next to impossible for her to stay back in a dressing room when they were actually on stage. She realized it was probably the most productive time she’d get to herself, yet she couldn’t hear the music and not want to watch.

One show she’d spent the entire time near the control board, watching as the staff controlled sound, lights, and video direction. All of it was fascinating, yet she garnered as much information away from the stage, as well—the public relations mechanisms alone were a little overwhelming. She sat in one day while band members sat through interview after interview, answering the same questions again and again—questions they undoubtedly were bored with, yet answered, more often than not, anyway, with patience and sometimes forced smiles.

Then there were the fans—those that staked out the hotels for a glimpse of their idols, and other, more obsessed types, who appeared at every hotel, in every city. Jordan couldn’t help but comment finally, when she started recognizing some faces. “They certainly are loyal,” she said, as she and the band stepped onto yet another elevator in another hotel.

“Yes, they are very faithful,” Jon answered, leaning back against the wall of the elevator. “It’s easy to laugh at, I know…but fans like that have stuck with us through the ups and the downs.”

“They’ve also put a wing on Jon’s house,” David added, and they all laughed.

“And a car or two in your driveway,” Jon replied, good-naturedly. “I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t admit that I miss the days when they were younger…”

“And firmer,” Richie added.

“And more scantily dressed,” Tico offered, and they laughed again.

Jordan rolled her eyes. Boys will be boys. “When am I going to get to hear some of THOSE stories?”

“What stories?” Jon asked, as they stepped off the elevator onto their floor.

“From your bad boy days. And I’m not talking about the ones I can find on Behind the Music.” She winked at them.

“Well, Jords, we could tell you,” Dave began.

“But then we’d have to kill you,” Tico finished for him.

Jordan smiled and shook her head. “And here I thought I was becoming one of the guys.”

“Not with that body you’re not,” Richie said, winking at her. “Maybe after a few drinks some night we’ll spill some of secrets. But only if you spill some of yours.”

Jordan smiled slyly. “What secrets? I have no stories; I’m boring.”

“Yeah…if you say so,” Richie answered, grinning. She saw the corners of Jon’s lips curve but he remained silent.

Jordan was still surprised at the level of excitement that their furtive relationship brought; she never thought she would be the type to find the forbidden so tantalizing. She loved that they had their own little secret, and she felt only a little guilty for deceiving the rest of the band. It was a guilt she could live with, though—she’d conveniently placed it in the back of her mind with the bigger guilt she’d learned to ignore almost on a daily basis.

Spending every day together, more or less around the clock, had done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for one another, and they had become experts at slipping in and out of each other’s rooms. If they didn’t make love before falling asleep, they almost always did upon waking, and more than once they’d had to find an excuse to sneak away from the others for a quick carnal indulgence.

For Jordan, sometimes just watching him interact with his band mates, laughing over something stupid, was enough to make her feel that familiar rush of desire. Sometimes it was watching him be the businessman, and other times it was enough if he simply caught her eye and smiled softly.

To Jon, her presence alone was often enough. The way she fell in so easily with all of them, the professionalism with which she approached her assignment, the ease at which she separated their professional and personal relationship. They had scheduled consultation time for Mondays and Thursdays, when she’d provide him bits of what she was working on, to make sure she was on the right track for what he had in mind. She had made it quite clear, however, that she wouldn’t be micro-managed, which was alright with him. He had enough to worry about during the tour, and he trusted her skills and her judgment. Besides, the end product was his to do with as he pleased. The fact that she was in his employ rather than working for Vanity Fair or something was his security. Of course, he had yet to decide if he would ever authorize a biography for the public, anyway.

The fact that he was sleeping with her, well… it wasn’t exactly the way he recommended doing business—and frankly, it was a first for him—but all he knew was that he was happy to have her with him. He was learning, however, that having a vibrant, sexy woman around all the time was not just fueling his desires. He saw the way the guys looked at her, and a couple nights earlier, when she’d stepped away from the table for a few minutes, Richie had finally spoken up.

“Damn it, Jon, you expect us to stay totally professional with a woman like that? Christ, her lips alone can give a guy reason to commit about five different sins.”

“No shit, Jonny—she is definitely a delectable package. Plus she’s funny and smart. Not to mention she smells a hell of a lot better than any of you,” Dave had added.

It was not something Jon had anticipated having to deal with; yes, she was an employee and of course she deserved to be treated with respect. But he also knew he couldn’t very well scold them for noticing the exact same things he himself had from the moment he met her. He also felt a sophomoric sense of satisfaction at the fact that the things that were making them lust over her were the very things he was enjoying himself.

“Oh, I think Jordan can handle herself,” he finally answered. “But how about we don’t discuss her attributes like she’s some groupie?” He hoped he sounded somewhat convincing in his sternness.

“Hell, if she were some groupie I’d have taken her back to my room already,” Richie responded. “I’d have even let her spend the night.” He grinned broadly and they all laughed.

Jon shook his head. Why did he think she wouldn’t affect them? Look what she’d done to him. The better he got to know her, the more crazy he was about her. Why on earth didn’t it occur to him that bringing her into this inner circle might present challenges outside of keeping his affair with her secret? It was just talk, he knew. But still…part of him wanted to mark his territory. He sighed.

Perhaps it was subconsciously then that he let his guard down around her. Just before sound check the following day, after they’d gone over some notes she had, he had leaned in and kissed her on the cheek and caught himself just before his hand wandered down to squeeze her ass. Instead he patted her on the hip, hoping the motion didn’t seem too intimate.

Richie caught the movement, however, and for a moment wondered if it meant anything. Of course, Jon was known to kiss any of them on the cheek at times, too. He dismissed it as Jon being Jon. But then again… the guy was human and was working very closely with her. Yes, he had a solid marriage and a great wife, but every one of them experienced occasional indiscretions on the road. True, it had been a long time since Richie had seen Jon act on any prurient impulses. He watched as Jordan walked away. She might be worth the risk though, he had to admit.

He also had to wonder if she was worth pursuing on his own.

A few nights later, they were celebrating a string of successful shows and a few days off. They sat in a neighborhood pub outside of Dublin, where Jimmy, the proprietor, always shut down for them—and gave them access to his little-known wine cellar. Jimmy always kept their patronage a secret and so they were able to slip in and out unnoticed—no need for bodyguards to guard the door or ward off the paparazzi. They happily rewarded his discretion and it was a stop on the tour they always enjoyed.

Jon was teetering between the perfect wine buzz and the if-I-have-one-more-I-might-as-well-drink-the-whole-bottle feeling as he watched Dave and Tico at the pool table and Richie and Jordan playing darts. The jukebox was playing U2—naturally, he thought with a smile.

So far the tour was going insanely well. There had only been one show he hadn’t been happy with, but as usual, the crowd was none the wiser. He’d met with the accountant earlier in the day and receipts were definitely what the CEO of any corporation likes to see. Merchandise alone was making their coffers overflow—he knew he should feel a little like a whore with some of this stuff, but it also seemed stupid not to take advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself.

He’d been doing that a lot lately.

He watched Jordan laugh as Richie tried to teach her the proper stance for the best aim. At first she was lucky to even hit the board, but eventually she managed to score a few decent shots. He took a sip of his wine, observing as his friend made those oh-so-subtle moves that clearly indicated he was interested in a woman…nudging her or letting his hand linger a little longer than necessary on her hip or shoulder as he guided her through the perfect shot. He could also tell that Jordan wasn’t picking up on it, possibly because she, too, had consumed her fair share of wine. As a result, however, she also wasn’t discouraging him. Jon smiled wryly to himself and shook his head.

He rose and walked to the jukebox, dropping some money in and perusing the selection. He found it somewhat satisfying to see a couple of their CDs included, along with an excellent variety of old R&B, classic rock and some great singer-songwriters. As was always the case, he came across songs he hadn’t heard in a long time; songs that made him think they should learn and surprise the audience with. And songs he just flat-out wished he’d written.

He heard Jordan scream in delight and looked over just as she flung her arms around Richie. Looking at the dartboard, Jon realized she’d just hit a Bull’s-eye. Richie laughed and swung her around in a circle before kissing her lightly and lowering her back to the floor. “Alright, beautiful,” he was saying, “Let’s see if you can do it again.” He moved to the board, removing the darts and handing them to her. She took a satisfied sip of her wine, smiling broadly at him. If the circumstances were different, he’d be urging his friend to go for it. Rich had been having a bad year and he deserved a good woman who made him laugh and brought that smile to his face.

But not this woman.

He made a few selections on the jukebox before stepping into the men’s room. When he came out, he stood, observing his best friend and his—shit, he wasn’t even sure what to call her, but she was his. And he didn’t want to share.

Then it came over the speakers—a song that he’d heard on the radio a few weeks earlier that had made him think of her. As he watched her interacting with his guitarist, his brother, the man he’d want with him in a foxhole, he knew he had to do something.

He moved to them, taking Jordan by the arm. “Sorry buddy, but I’m stealing the lady.”

Richie smiled. “That’s okay…I gotta hit the head anyway.” He winked at Jordan. “Thanks for the game; you owe me a rematch.”

Jon moved her to the small open space that served as a dance floor for those inclined. “Dance with me,” he said, pulling her into his arms with a smile. “I played this song just for you.”

She returned his smile, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as they swayed to the music. If he figured it was okay for them to dance together, who was she to argue? “Just for me, huh?”

He nodded silently, letting his hands encircle his waist as he looked in her eyes. The music of Jefferson Starship filled the room. It was a song she’d heard hundreds of times, Jordan realized, but had never really listened that closely to the lyrics. Now, in a tiny bar in a foreign country, in the arms of her lover and in plain sight of the men closest to him, she felt her breath quicken as the words of the song penetrated her mind.

If only you believe in miracles, baby

So would I...

I might have to move heaven and earth
To prove it to you…
Theres really nothing that we can’t do

If we wanted to, baby

She held his eyes for a moment but the intensity of it all made her look away. The raw emotion and sensuality of the song, combined with everything else, made her feel almost exposed, as if they had stripped off their clothes and begun to make love in front of everyone. She told herself it was just the wine that was causing this reaction in her.

Love is a magic word
Few ever find in a lifetime…

I had a taste of the real world
When I went down on you.

She gasped quietly, feeling her body start to tremble. She glanced over his shoulder at Tico and Dave, who were engrossed in their pool game and paying little attention to them. She brought her eyes back to his and he smiled softly, pulling her hips closer to his.

You ripple like a river when I touch you

When I pluck your body like a string
When I start dancing inside you
Oh baby, you make me wanna sing

She felt a little weak then, finally letting herself melt against him, in spite of their potential audience. He could feel her trembling beneath his fingertips and it took every ounce of will he had not tangle his fingers in her hair and kiss her. He relished the power he had over her. But he also realized, without a doubt, she had equal power over him. She just didn’t know it.

Its like having every dream I ever wanted come true

I picked up your vibes
You know it opened my eyes
But I’m still dreaming

Richie was leaning against the bar, watching the two of them. So his suspicions were right—Jon was definitely interested in her. It had been a while since the two of them had competed for the affections of a woman, but he felt he was up to the task. Of course, Jon seemed to be pulling out the heavy artillary a little early in the game. Their eyes met and Richie smiled casually, tipping his head in acknowledgement of the challenge he thought was being set before him. Then he looked away and shouted across the bar to Dave and Tico. “Hey assholes, who’s winning?”

Jon sighed, realizing he hadn’t exactly accomplished what he’d hoped to. Somehow he’d thought Richie would get the message that Jordan was off-limits, without actually having to tell him. Well, that was part of what he’d hoped to accomplish. The other part was a message he was trying to convey to the woman in his arms. In this case, however, he was pretty sure he’d been read loud and clear.

The song ended and they reluctantly detached from one another. “Thanks for the dance,” he said softly.

“Is that all it was?” she answered, her voice shaking slightly.

He smiled softly. “Well, that depends.” She looked at him, puzzled, and he continued. “On whether or not you were listening.”

She smiled then, trying to appear lighthearted, in spite of the emotions swirling around inside her. “It’s definitely a sexy song; what, you didn’t already think you were getting lucky tonight?”

He sighed, shaking his head. “How long are you going to continue to tell yourself this is all about sex?”

She looked at him without answering.

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

Two days later, they lay together tangled among the sheets in the Royal Suite in the InterContinental Hotel in Amsterdam. When they had arrived the evening before, Jordan discovered that the hotel did not have a reservation in her name and was fully booked. In a particularly bold move, Jon made an executive decision to have Jordan stay with him—the suite had two separate bedrooms with private baths, the second of which would otherwise go unused anyway. He realized that the more obvious solution was for one of the other guys to room with him and give Jordan her own suite, of course, so he made a small show of asking her—in front of the others—if she would prefer a room to herself.

Jordan pretended to think about it for a moment. “I don’t suppose it matters,” she answered, shrugging her shoulders. Then she looked at the rest of them. “Besides, I think you each deserve a little time to yourselves; I know you don’t get much of it on the road.”

Jon smiled. Nice touch.

Later in the evening they had all sat together around the dining room table, playing poker and laughing. Eventually Jordan called it a night, leaving them to their game and retiring to her bedroom. She woke an hour or so later, when Jon slipped quietly between the sheets. His hair was wet and he smelled like the hotel’s milled soap.

“Anyone suspicious?”she asked, smiling as he curled himself around her.

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “In fact, everyone was very careful to try and keep it down since we knew you were trying to sleep. Then I lost my last hand and told them they could finish up but I was going to hop in the shower and then go to bed, and when I came out of the shower they were on their way out the door.” He laughed quietly. “It all appears very respectable.”

“Respectable, huh?”

“Absolutely. I’m a good, clean All-American boy, you know.”

“Oh I don’t know about that,” she answered, laughing softly.

“Well I just took a shower so I’m definitely clean. And I think I qualify as All-American.” He kissed her softly. “I guess the jury is still out on how good I am, though.”

“You think so?” she answered, stifling a yawn.

“Well, I suppose that depends on what exactly it is we’re talking about,” he replied, smiling. He kissed her again, just before sleep overtook him as well, and they drifted off in each other’s arms.

In the morning they had made love passionately before ordering room service. Later, they fell into bed again for a second, even more energetic round, which left Jon with a bite mark on his shoulder from where Jordan had attempted to stifle her moans—and Jordan with slight bruises on her wrists from where he had gripped her a little more tightly than intended.

“Damn,” he said, quietly, his heart still pounding.

“I second that,” she answered, shakily. “By the way…I think the jury is in.”

“What do you mean?”

“On whether you’re good or not. I think we now have scars to prove it.”

He laughed hoarsly. “Actually, baby, make that we’re good. I didn’t do any of this by myself. You damned near sucked all the energy out of me—and I have rehearsal in an hour and a show tonight.” They were doing a smaller, more intimate show that night and were planning on throwing in a few tunes they hadn’t done in a long time, so they had agreed to take an hour or so to rehearse earlier in the day.

She laughed quietly. “Maybe this shared suite wasn’t the best idea—you know, for your health and all.”

He shook his head, intertwining his fingers with hers. “You are very good for my health…my heart especially.” He winked, bringing his lips to hers. “Double meaning intended.”

The phone rang, startling them both. He looked at the clock. “I’m not late yet,” he said, laughing as he reached to take the phone off its cradle. “Yeah?” he answered, winking as he let his hand slide down Jordan’s side. He paused just before he reached her hip. “Oh, hi—no, I just thought it was one of the guys. What is it, six in the morning or something? What are you doing up so early?”

It was his wife, she could tell. Jordan felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach. He looked apologetically at her and she shook her head, pulling away from him. She couldn’t lie next to him, naked, listening to his conversation. Suddenly she felt dirty and embarrassed. She rose from the bed, not looking back as she walked to the bathroom.

She closed and locked the door behind her, turning on the shower and standing in front of the mirror as the steam rose in the room. She took a couple deep breaths, trying to calm her nerves and fighting back tears, and she felt the evidence of their recent coupling slowly running down her thigh. She lurched to the toilet and threw up her breakfast.

She stood in the shower as tears of confusion, shame and heartache ran down her face. She didn’t want to be a person who caused pain to others. Yet she didn’t want to give him up.

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