Tuesday, March 6
The rest of the tour went as planned, the band playing to sold out arenas and stadiums in every city they hit. Jon expanded the set lists, each show running at least three hours. He was driven and passionate on stage, and quiet and withdrawn off stage.
When the others had asked about Jordan, he had told them simply that her tenure with them had ended and that she had to get back to her regular job.
He found it challenging to mourn the loss of their relationship. When he was at home with his family it was easier—thank God. Being with his family, his kids especially, gave him a refuge from his pain.
He’d done his best to hide his turmoil from his wife but she had definitely noticed a change in him since they’d returned from Europe. He’d been so energetic, excited and happy but now was looking harried and stressed. She observed him more than once looking sadly off into the distance and he was spending more time than usual in the gym.
“I think it’s time for this tour to be over,” she told him.
He’d been sleeping restlessly and more than once when she’d reached for him in bed he’d been unable to rise to the occasion. Then when he did, he felt a quiet desperation in his lovemaking—as he tried to drive Jordan from his mind. Then when it was over, the guilt would overwhelm him; guilt for what he’d done, for what he was missing, and for how badly he wanted it back.
On the road, he had been drowning his sorrows on a nightly basis. He’d drink until he virtually passed out, because then he didn’t have to see her face in his mind or miss her body wrapped around his as he fell asleep.
“So are you going to tell me what happened?” Richie had asked one night, after everyone else had retired and he and Jon were finishing the last open bottle of wine still left on the table.
Jon sighed, shrugging. “She decided she wanted more than I could give her.”
Richie nodded. “So that’s it? It’s just over, that easily?
Jon laughed wryly. “I wouldn’t call it easy. I suppose I should be grateful that she had the strength to end it.” He lifted the glass to his mouth. “I don’t think it was any easier on her than it was on me though.”
“I’m sorry buddy,” Richie said. Truth be told, he felt it was in Jon’s best interest, but he had never seen his friend in such pain, either, and it saddened him. First it was him, now Jon. Welcome to the rock star world. “Well if you need anything I’m here.”
Jon nodded. “I know. I guess I should say thanks for not saying you told me so.”
Richie laughed quietly. “Well to be honest this is not something I expected. Not like this, anyway.” He took a drink from his own glass. He realized he felt bad for Jordan as well. “So have you talked to her?”
Jon shook his head. “Nope. Didn’t really seem to be any point.” He finished what was left in his glass and reached to open another bottle.
Once the tour was over, he and his family had escaped to the Hamptons for a vacation, his wife insisting he not conduct any business whatsoever for at least two weeks. It helped a little, and when he returned to real life he was feeling somewhat more himself. Until, that is, he opened his e-mail to find the completed biography project waiting for him in his inbox.
“Here it is,” the note read. “I hope it’s everything you wanted and more. Thank you for the opportunity. It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. I hope the rest of the tour went as well as it seemed to be going. My best to everyone. I hope you’re doing well. Thanks again. Jordan.”
He felt the ache return as he looked through the pictures she’d sent. Because she had been behind the lens most of the time, she was in very few of the photos, but on occasion someone else had grabbed the camera, and he was happy to see she’d included those pictures as well. But seeing her face, her smile…it took him back to all of it—from the moment he’d seen her on the plane to that first dinner, to her standing at his hotel room door, to the first time he’d felt her and she’d cried out his name.
…to their rendezvous in Denver…
…to the way he felt when he found her waiting for him backstage in L.A…
…to their sexy tryst in Las Vegas…
…to her birthday surprise…
…to the hours they spent laughing together…
…to the rush they’d gotten from keeping their secret…
…to his confession backstage during the encore in Amsterdam…
…to her own admission in Italy…
He blinked back his tears as he reached for his phone, hitting a speed dial number. When Richie answered, he said simply, “I don’t know about you but I need to get back to work.”
He spent the next month alone in the studio for twelve hours or more a day, his songwriting providing a venue for him to work through his emotions. Then he’d flown to L.A. and he and Richie had dived back into the studio with a vengeance.
It was well after midnight one night as they both sat with guitars, making some tweaks on a song Jon had brought with him. It was brilliant, Richie thought; a heartbreaking confessional somewhat reminiscent of one Jon had written years earlier that turned out to be one of their biggest hits.
If I could be anyone
Could I be your only one?
If I could be anything
Could I be the secret you keep
Breath that you breathe
Your dreams while you sleep?
If you could read my mind
Then you'd know I crossed that line
I'd make you my Valentine
I can't let you go but I know
That this ring is there to remind
Jon sang the song with emotion and conviction and Richie could feel the heartbreak almost as much as if he were the one living through it.
So let's re-enact that scene
From what's-his-name's one act play
I'll be your hero
And you'll be the one who got away
If there was no tomorrow
There was no yesterdays
The stolen moments we've borrowed
We wouldn't let slip away
For the next few months, the men traveled between the east and west coasts, and when they were finished they had more than 30 songs. They gathered the rest of the band at the New Jersey studios to begin the recording process that would eventually become their next album. Jon was moving on with his life and looking forward to the day when an hour could pass without Jordan crossing his mind.
Two thousand miles away, Morgan Scott answered her phone to find Tina on the other end, calling from the hospital. “You probably want to get down here.”
Tina hung up with Morgan and paged through her phone book until she came to Jon’s number, trying to decide if she should listen to the voice inside her or respect her best friend’s wishes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Richie was in the lobby of the Austin Hilton, waiting for the car that was supposed to be arriving for him. He had come to town as part of a pre-tour promotional leg. He and Jon had split up appearances—Jon doing most of the east coast stops, Richie taking those in the west. He loved Austin though, and planned on sneaking into a few places along Sixth Street that night.
The album had been released two months earlier, debuting in the top ten, and the first single, Let Me Be Your Hero, was easing its way up the charts. It was neither a ballad nor a hard-driving rock song, with more of a Tom Waits kind of sound, and was in heavy rotation on both the pop and adult acoustic alternative stations.
He and Jon had fought the record label about what should be the first single released from the album, both standing firm to take this risk rather than sticking the formula that had worked so well for them for in the past, and it had worked. It was a song they were both passionate about and he was sorry his friend wasn’t with him in such a singer-songwriter town, where they could perhaps jump on stage and surprise an unsuspecting audience with an impromptu live version.
It had been almost two years since the last tour ended and he was itching to get back on the road. He was excited about the new album and feeling good about life in general. He had recovered from his divorce and was currently dating the beautiful owner of a hip bistro in L.A. who wanted nothing to do with the limelight.
He looked over at the man standing next to him, who also appeared to be waiting for something or someone. He smiled. “Waiting for a car too?”
The man laughed, shaking his head. “No, my wife.”
Richie laughed. “Women,” he answered. “So are you in town on business?”
The man shook his head. “No, actually. Here to visit family. We just got married last month and needed to come down and smooth some ruffled feathers, since it was a small wedding. My mom was itching to throw us a party at least.”
Richie grinned. “Well congratulations then.”
The man returned the smile. “Thanks.”
“Shit,” Richie said. “I wonder where the hell my car is.” He walked to the concierge desk and after a little investigation, discovered they had their times mixed up but the car would be arriving shortly.
He turned to see a woman joining the man he’d been speaking to. She was trying to keep hold of a spirited child who had taken an interest in the fountain in the middle of the lobby. He smiled, thinking of when his own daughter was that age.
“So I take it this is the new bride?” Richie asked, walking up. He was stunned when she turned to him. It couldn’t be… but it was. She was smiling broadly and looked pretty much the same as the last time he’d seen her.
“Jordan,” he exclaimed. “Wow, what a surprise.”
Jordan felt the wind rush out of her when she saw him. “Richie. Oh, my god. Hi.”
He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “You look great.” She looked radiant and as beautiful as ever.
Jordan felt her heart pounding. “Thanks,” she managed.
Rob laughed. “So you two know each other?”
“Yeah,” Richie answered. He couldn’t tell if Rob just didn’t know who he was or if he wasn’t aware that Jordan had worked with them. He decided he should play it safe for her sake. “We have a mutual friend.”
“We do,” Jordan answered, hoping her voice didn’t convey the trembling she was feeling inside. “Richie, this is my—my husband, Rob.”
The men nodded at each other, shaking hands.
Richie watched as Jordan finally scooped the little girl up into her arms. “Francesca, honey, please settle down,” she said. She was in no way prepared to deal with this. It was like slow motion then as she watched Richie acknowledge her daughter. Her miracle child…
…who had been conceived against all odds…
…who had survived a reckless first trimester…
…who had shared a womb with a grapefruit-sized fibroid tumor that had threatened not only the pregnancy but her mother’s life…
A little girl who looked so much like her father it still took Jordan’s breath away… and whose crystal blue eyes were now looking into the eyes of his best friend.
Rob’s voice interrupted their thoughts. “Hey man, I think your car’s here.”
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