Wednesday, January 31
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.”
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
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