Friday, January 5
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.
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?
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