Wednesday, January 3
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.”
“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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