Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chapter 199

And the pattern was set. For the next few days, except for walks on the beach, and an After Hours Experience in the hotel spa, they didn’t leave their room. On their fourth morning there, after a particularly lengthy lovemaking session, Tori glanced up at her husband in awe, her fingers playing with the patch of hair on his chest.

“You’re definitely a man on a mission.” She panted.

He shrugged. “If my calculations are right, we’re coming into prime time.” He watched the light in her eyes dim and the blue darken.

She tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her go. “Let me up.”

“Nuh uh. Not until you tell me why you’re pissed.”

“I’m not pissed.” He just looked at her. “I’m not.” She insisted.

“Okaaay, then why the sudden change of mood?” When she hesitated he gave her a squeeze. “Come on angel, talk to me.”

“Because I feel…..I don’t know…used I guess.” She struggled to find the words to explain her feelings.

“Used? Used how?”

“Like a means to an end. What used to be a beautiful expression of desire and mutual pleasure is turning into something else. It’s becoming a necessary act to achieve the goal.”

He snorted. “Trust me angel, making love to you is not a chore!”

“Well it’ll become one to me if I feel that procreation is the main reason that you’re doing it!”

He stared at her, stunned. “You’re not serious?”

“Well, think about it. I throw away the pills and you suddenly get the libido of a twenty-five year old! We’ve been here three days, and other than a few walks on the beach we haven’t been out of the room. Everytime I turn around you’re hauling me off to bed. You weren’t like this before. You’re counting days. You didn’t want me to ‘waste it’ out on the terrace the other day. What am I supposed to think?” She grimaced. “This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen! I knew we should have waited until we got home! Or maybe I should have just gotten rid of the pills and not told you until later. I just wanted to enjoy our honeymoon without any pressure!” Her eyes filled with tears.

“Whoa! Back the train up there a minute! The only goal I have tried to achieve in that department was to give you pleasure. I’d thought by the screams still ringing in my ears, and the nail marks in my back, that I’d succeeded. I certainly didn’t hear you saying no or stop!” She tried to pull away again, but he held her fast. “No. You’re not going anywhere until we talk this out.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, that may have been uncalled for and a little crude, but I really don’t appreciate hearing my wife tell me that I make her feel used, and attaching motives to my actions that just aren’t there! Yes, I want another child. That’s hardly a secret. But sweetheart, you have to believe me when I tell you that it’s not my prime purpose when I make love to you! That would just be a bonus. As for me suddenly having the libido of a twenty-five year old and never ‘being like this’ before…..if you remember, you haven’t stuck around in the mornings, and since we’ve been together one or both of us have had to be somewhere or do something. I haven’t had the chance to ‘be like this’.”

She was crying openly now. Not only did she not explain her feelings very well, now she’d hurt him and pissed him off. “I’m sorry.”

Richie fought the urge to squirm. It had been a long time since he’d let tears get to him – except his daughter’s. He’d been around actresses too much to let them effect him - they could turn them on and off like a faucet. But Tori wasn’t an actress. Her tears were real. He slid down in the bed until they were on a level, cupped her cheek with his hand, and wiped at her tears with his thumb. “Tori, what is this really all about?” His voice was soft, but demanded a response.

She closed her eyes and blew out a ragged breath. “What if…..” Her voice died, cut off by the emotion clogging her throat. She opened her eyes, swallowed and tried again. “You can downplay it all you want, but I know how badly you want more children. Whether you want to admit it or not – or even realize yourself that you’re doing it – you are thinking about it everytime we make love. Yes, you give me incredible pleasure, but ever since the wedding, there’s been a different feeling to it. An intensity that wasn’t there before. A…a…a sense of a purpose other than mutual pleasure.” Tears escaped her lashes again. “But what if I don’t get pregnant right away? What if I can’t get pregnant at all? I’m forty years old! For the last twenty years or so I’ve been very careful not to get pregnant. What if I waited too long? What if…” She swallowed again. “What if I can’t give you what you want most in the world?”

The fear and uncertainty in the sapphire gaze searching his hit him like a fist squeezing his heart. It took him a moment to answer. “Sweetheart, what I want most in the world is right here in my arms. You! A baby would be wonderful, but if it works out that it’s just you and I and Ava, then that’s great too. I have a feeling that Ava’s going to be plenty for us to handle anyway.” He was relieved to see a small smile twist her lips at that. “I’m sorry if I made you feel pressured. I certainly never meant to.” He paused and chose his next words carefully. “But honey, I think you’re jumping the gun a bit here, and worrying before you know that there’s a reason to.” His fingers caressed her cheek. “Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll stop making references – however unintentional – to getting you pregnant if you’ll stop worrying that you won’t. Let’s not think about it. Let’s just enjoy ourselves and let whatever happens, happen. Okay?”

She could see nothing but sincerity and love shining in his dark eyes, but she needed to be sure. “You won’t be disappointed in me if I can’t…”

He stopped her with a finger to her lips. “Stop it angel. I didn’t marry you looking for a brood mare. I married you because I love you and I want you to be a part of my life forever. Just you.”

She closed her eyes and nodded her acceptance of his words. He kissed her gently and leaned his forehead against hers. “What am I going to have to do to get you to talk to me about these ideas you get?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“What upsets me is that you’re upset!” He sighed. “I know that you’re used to dealing with issues on your own, and that you will always try to protect me and my feelings. You’re a Bongiovi. It’s in the blood. But I’m your husband. We’re supposed to share these things. Isn’t that what you told me last March?”

She leaned back so that she could see his eyes, blushed sheepishly and nodded. “Point taken.” She took a deep breath. “I promise I’ll….try.”

He grinned. She was a Bongiovi. That was the best that he could expect. “That’s all any of us can do.”

Chapter 200

After a late breakfast Richie hit the shower. While the water beat down on him he thought about their conversation earlier that morning. She’d surprised him. She always seemed so self confident - except in regards to her musical abilities, but he’d always figured that was because she was surrounded by people she saw as professionals more experienced than her and that she’d looked up to for years. He’d never dreamed she would be insecure about something as natural as having a child without having a strong reason. He knew that there were a lot of women out there who, sadly, were unable, for one reason or another, to bear children, but for Tori to worry that she might be one of them before they’d even given it a try just didn’t sound like the Tori he knew.

Suddenly, it hit him like a lightning bolt. The explanation she gave for Jon’s extreme nervousness at the Arena Bowl came back to him. This is beyond his control. He can’t call the plays or carry the ball. All he can do is watch and pray. That’s pretty hard to swallow when you’re used to being the one calling all the shots. “Of course!” He’d forgotten the Bongiovi control freak trait. Conception was beyond her control and that drove her nuts. Add to that his unthinking comments which just confirmed how badly he wanted a baby, and her stress level went through the roof. He didn’t mean to pressure her, but he guessed he had. So what to do now? Only time would answer her main concern – one way or the other – so there was nothing he could do to help there. But she needed a distraction, to get her mind off of it, at least for a little while. Unfortunately his normal form of distraction would only make it worse, so he needed to find something else.

By the time he was dressed he had a plan. He found her sitting in a chair on the terrace, his guitar in her lap, fingers strumming idly. Setting his hands on her shoulder he bent to press a kiss to the top of her head. “Get dressed angel.”

She tilted her head back to look at him. “Are we going somewhere?”

He nodded. “You were right about one thing. It’s time we explored paradise.”

That afternoon was spent touring the shops of Lanai City. In one they found Suziz O’s Slippah jewelry. Tori picked out picked out a pink necklace for Ava, and an enamel and Swarovski crystal necklace and earring set for herself. Richie watched her carefully, then, when she was looking at another case, chose a silver turtle with a crystal tummy and an abalone ukulele pendant, with Christmas in mind.

Over the next few days they checked out the Pu’aiwa Petroglyphs, the Garden of the Gods, went sailing, scuba diving, and swimming with dophins in Hulopo’e Bay, and searched for treasure – and crab’s - on Shipwreck Beach. That expedition had Tori alternating between blushing and laughing until her sides hurt and the tears flowed as Richie’s inner pirate made an appearance.

“Arrg! I’ve got me treasure right here and I ain’t sharing!” He growled in her ear before lifting her onto his shoulder and heading up the beach.

“Help! Somebody save me! Let me go you dirty sea dog!” She managed to get out between rounds of laughter as she beat her fists on his back and wriggled, trying to get away.

He gave her a swat on the rear end and lowered her to the ground before he dropped her, pinning her to the sand with his body. “Never!” He suddenly turned serious. “I’ll never let you go.” Lowering his head, he kissed her gently, but thoroughly.

When he raised his head she sighed. “What happened to my knight in shining armor?”

He grinned. “That was just to lure ye into me net. I be protecting ye from other scurvy dogs, but ye’ll not be escaping me.”

“So I’m doomed to be a pirate’s woman?” Her blue eyes sparkled with amusement. He really could be a big goof sometimes, and she thanked God for it everyday. He knew how to make her laugh and give her spirits a lift when she needed it.

He nodded. “Aye, and it’s a life’s sentence ye be getting there, me beauty.”

She sighed dramatically. “Well I guess I’ll just have to make the best of it then.” She sniffed. “At least you don’t smell like you’ve been at sea for months. In fact...” She buried her nose in his neck. “ smell like flowers.” Her eyes widened. “Are you wearing perfume?”

He stared at her for a minute in disbelief, then laughed. He probably did smell like flowers. He’d joined her during her bath that morning – despite what she thought, his current ‘level of activity’ was normal for him when he had the time and opportunity, and he wasn’t about to change that unless he had to - not thinking about the scent of her bubble bath clinging to his skin like it did hers. “Brat!” He kissed her again, then rose, pulled her to her feet, and continued their trek down the beach.

Tori was impressed with the history and culture preserved on the small island. Dole’s legacy was evident in the old pineapple fields and the plantation houses in every colour of the rainbow. There were sacred places dotted around the area as well, both religious and ceremonial that she found fascinating.

After dinner at the hotel, they would either listen to the live music in the lounge or go and watch the sunset at Kaumalapau Harbour before taking a moonlight swim and/or retiring to their room where they would relax on the terrace enjoying the tropical evening, and Richie would play for her.

When they climbed into bed, the atmosphere changed. Where before their lovemaking had been hot, intense, almost urgent, now Richie was….tenative. He was afraid of pushing, so he would make his desire known, then back off and wait for her response. Even when she turned to him in invitation, he was careful to go slow and make her pleasure his main concern. If that meant holding back and denying, for the most part, his own needs and urges, then so be it. He told himself that seeing the ecstacy on her face was enough for now. Besides, it wasn’t like he wasn’t getting any pleasure out of their intimate encounters, but he’d become used to being able to let go and ride the wave in whatever direction it took them. We’ll get back there. I just need to take it easy on her for the next little while. Just until we either have answers about her fertility or until she believes that I want her, baby or no baby.

When Richie rolled off her and drifted off to sleep, Tori snuggled closer to him and fought the urge to scream in frustration. She knew he thought he was being considerate of her feelings, but she was about ready to smack him upside the head! It’s your own fault Tori. You should have kept your mouth shut! Now he thinks you’re too emotionally fragile to take it! No matter how many times over the last few days she told him that she wouldn’t break, he insisted on treating her like some delicate piece of glass that might shatter with too rough a caress or too hard a thrust. While she appreciated – and how! -the exquisite gentle pleasure he brought her, she missed the more intense domination that he was also capable of. She could sense him holding back and felt extremely guilty that he was denying himself –and her – because he thought it was best for her emotional health, especially when there was no need to. She sighed. She wanted her husband, with all of his wants and needs. She wanted – no needed to satisfy them, and have him satisfy hers. The gentleness was wonderful and sweet, but if he didn’t just throw her down and take her – and soon – she just might have to resort to some sort of drastic action.

Chapter 201

“Hey honey, look at this.” Tori picked up the flyer that was lying on the table in the lobby. “There’s a big luau over on Maui tonight. It says there’ll be lots of local musicians and dancers.”

“Yeah? Let me see.” She handed him the flyer. “Hmmm. Sounds interesting. Do you want to go?”

“Won’t it be a little too public?” She hoped not, she loved new cultural experiences.

He shrugged. “If it is, we can always leave, but I think it should be alright.” He hoped so. He badly needed a distraction from his beautiful and very desirable wife. The need to keep it gentle was testing his control to the limit. Catching the concierge’s eye he went to talk to her about making the necessary arrangements.

“Angel! You just about ready? The car’s here to take us to the ferry.” Richie called from the living room.

“Coming!” Tori answered, giving herself a last once over in the mirror. She smiled in satisfaction. If this doesn’t bring out the caveman, I don’t know what will. The wrap skirt was long and hung low on her hips, the Hawaiian floral print was bright and cheerful. The strapless bra style top matched the pink in one of the flowers in the skirt and set off the sun kissed skin of her shoulders,arms and torso. Her hair was a mass of curls tumbling around her shoulders.

When she entered the living room, her breath caught at the sight of him in beige slacks and blue and beige Hawaiian print shirt half unbuttoned as usual. Oh yeah. She was going to get her way tonight, one way or another. She just couldn’t wait any longer.

Hearing her, he turned, and froze. His eyes widened and heated as they roamed over her noting every bit of exposed flesh. “Jesus Tori! What are you trying to do to me?”

Break through your control and get my lover back – in all his forms. “What? Don’t you like it?” She hid her grin when he just grunted and waved her towards the door.

The ferry was about half full when they boarded for the trip to Lahaina on Maui. On the main level near the back was a group of men on their way back from scuba diving. Their loud laughter filled conversations stopped abruptly when Tori and Richie walked by them to stand at the rail. She pretended not to notice. Richie moved closer and rested his hand proprietarily on her hip. As the boat picked up speed she shivered slightly as the breeze hit her and moved closer to Richie, using him as a windbreak.

“You should have brought a jacket angel, it’ll be even cooler by the time we come back after the luau.”

She shrugged. “I guess I’ll just ride inside if it’s too cool.”

“I wouldn’t mind keeping her warm.” One man murmured to his buddies.

“She’s doing a good job of keeping me warm right now.” Another commented. The others nodded in agreement.

They had a little time to kill when they arrived in Lahaina, so they decided to take a little tour. They saw the big Buddha and the Banyan tree that was the size of a city block, and wandered down through the shopping district.

As they walked Richie noticed a lot of heads turning to watch them. Most of them were men. While he didn’t really like it, he wasn’t surprised. His wife was a beautiful woman and he knew he wasn’t the only male who would think so. Torn between pride and possessiveness he glanced at her, and suppressed the urge to snort and shake his head. No, the male admiration didn’t surprise him, but her response did. She seem to be utterly oblivious to the attention she attracted. He grit his teeth and tightened his grip on her hand. When she sent him a questioning look he just smiled and kissed her briefly.

While they were waiting in line to enter the luau grounds, Richie noticed a couple of the scuba divers who had been on the ferry talking to one of the greeters working the gate. When their turn came the greeter set aside the usual Plumeria lei and instead reached for a rope Pikake one and settled it over Tori’s head. “Aloha.”

Aloha. Oh, how beautiful!” Tori lifted the blooms to have a closer look.

Richie bent to accept his Plumeria lei, then straightened and eyed the divers who were watching Tori. They looked at each other and smiled in satisfaction. “Come on angel.” He urged her forward with an arm around her waist.

Next they were offered drinks. Tori chose a Mai Tai and Richie fruit punch. A host came and gave them the layout of the grounds, pointing out the eating area as well as the where the Imu presentation would be held and the area where local artisans were demonstrating their skills. Sipping their drinks they wandered through the arts and crafts area, very impressed and fascinated with the display. Tori was examining the detail in a wooden carving when a young Hawaiian boy, maybe six or seven years old, came up to her and shyly offered her a single large flower – she didn’t recognize what it was – obviously meant for her hair. “For the pretty lady.”

“Oh, how sweet!” Tori accepted the bloom. “Mahalo.” She bent and kissed his cheek.

The little boy grinned, nodded and ran back to rejoin his mother who was one of the artists. She lifted the flower and slid it in above her right ear.

Richie sighed. It was going to be a long evening. Doesn’t matter, young or old, they fall at her feet. He reached out with one hand and plucked the flower from her hair. When she frowned at him, he turned her head and slid it back in above her left ear. “Left side angel. You are definitely taken!”

Biting back a smile, she slipped an arm around his waist and urged him to follow the crowd as they headed for the beach and the Imu presentation, which turned out to be the unearthing of the roasted pig. The aroma was heavenly and Tori’s mouth watered in anticipation.

When they reached the entrance to the eating area, another host greeted them. “Mr. and Mrs. Sambora. Aloha. Follow me please.”

As they followed him to their table, Richie scanned the crowd. He saw several women look twice and nudge their friends. He smiled and nodded. They waved back. Tori smiled indulgently and prepared to be visited later. As his gazed continued to sweep the room, Richie almost growled when he noticed the divers were seated at the table beside them. He made sure that he sat between them and Tori and kept his arm along the back of her chair, his fingers alternating between playing with her hair, and stroking her shoulder.

The food was delicious and very plentiful. Tori’s favourite was the Kalua pork, the Island Crab Salad, the Lau Lau and of course the Poi, along with the banana cake and fresh fruit that she chose for dessert. Richie traded her tastes of his Pulehu steak, chicken long rice, and stir fry vegetables. He made a point of feeding her and getting her to feed him.

She didn’t let on that she had seen the divers sitting at the next table. The day’s events couldn’t have played in her favour any better if she’d planned them herself. Yep, the caveman’s trying to get out! It needed a final push, but she’d just sit back for awhile and see what happened.

As the sun set, the show began. Within minutes Tori was caught up in the story of the Polynesians discovering and settling on the islands, followed by a demonstration of the ancient Hula. Next came the era of the missionaries and the changes they made. Then came the modern Hula. As the first song came to an end, the dancers invited a few women up to learn a bit of the dance. Richie bit back a protest as Tori accepted the invitation and climbed the steps onto the stage.

“Ooh, you have an admirer.” One dancer commented. When Tori raised her brows in question she gestured to the lei. “A Pikake lei.”

Tori glanced at Richie only to see him frown. Shifting her gaze to the table of divers she saw one nudge his buddy and grin. Her brows rose even higher, but didn’t say anything, concentrating instead on the movements of the dance they were being taught.

As he watched the graceful motions of her hands and arms, and the undulations of her hips as she executed the steps of the dance, Richie felt his whole body tense and something deep inside him sit up and howl. Tori called it his inner caveman and she wasn’t too far from the truth. He’d always admitted to being possessive, but right now dragging her away by her hair wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. He’d never felt it this strongly before – even with her. This was worse than the fans gawking at her in that leather outfit. It was more than just the table of divers openly admiring her. She was a beautiful woman. He expected other men to notice. That didn’t mean he had to like it! He shifted uncomfortably in his chair as the music sped up, and with it her movements.

“That’s a hell of a story she’s telling.” The older man at the table beside him commented.

“Daniel!” His wife swatted his arm and shot a glance at Richie.

“Sorry sweetheart, but I’d have to be dead not to notice!” He gave Richie an apologetic smile.

Richie smiled back and nodded. His jaw clenched as he scanned the room and noticed others watching his wife with masculine appreciation. When the tempo increased again, he turned his attention back to the stage….and couldn’t look away. Tori had moved to the section of the stage that was right in front of him. Their eyes met and for long minutes it was like the rest of the room ceased to exist. Her blue eyes sparkled and her tanned midriff appeared to glow under the torch lights. Her arms seemed to reach out for him and the gyrations of her hips reminded him of other times and places where her movements drove him wild, making him ache to get her alone.

The music came to a crescendo and ended. The applause was thunderous. Tori thanked the dancers and musicians as she left the stage. As she made her way back to the table several people stopped her to praise her performance. She halted beside the table of divers, lifted the lei and smiled. “Thank you. I appreciate the compliment, but I’m afraid I’m married.” She lifted her left hand to display her rings. The men sighed but nodded their acceptance.

“You’re afraid you’re married?” Richie growled as she sat down.

She leaned over and kissed him. “You know what I meant.” He grunted. She glanced around as the other guests prepared to leave. “Ready to go?”

He grimaced. “I need a few minutes.”

“Oh? What for?” He just stared at her. Reading the message in the dark depths she glanced down at his lap, and grinned. “Oh. Sure. Let me know when you’re ready.”

“Keep laughing angel. It’s your fault, and you’re going to pay for it later.”

“Yeah, yeah. You know babe, you’re real big on making the promises, but not real big on the follow through.” She retorted. His reply was prevented by the approach of the women they had noticed earlier, in search of autographs.

Richie was quiet on the ferry ride back to Lanai. He was thinking about his unusual reactions today. He’d always considered himself a modern, evolved man, but his response today was anything but. He didn’t want to admit it – and certainly wouldn’t to her – but he was afraid that Tori just might be right. That maybe, just maybe, somewhere deep in his subconscious he was always thinking about getting her pregnant now that she’d given the green light, and his strange feelings today were a throwback to some instinctive and primal need to guard his mate to ensure that any propagation of the species that occurred would be with his genes. He didn’t think for a minute that she would cheat on him, but the urge to stamp her as his was nearly overwhelming.

She leaned against him for warmth. “You’re awful quiet. Everything okay?”

He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back, trying to smooth away the goosebumps. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Just thinking.”

“About what?”

“My beautiful and very desirable wife who has men of all ages falling at her feet.”

She chuckled and leaned back a bit so that she could see his face. “Your interest is the only one I’m trying to attract.”

“Angel, you’ve had it from the first time you opened those beautiful blue eyes in the hospital and looked at me.” He leaned down and kissed her.

Back at the hotel, the concierge greeted them. “Did you enjoy the luau?”

“Very much. Thank you. It was an experience I’ll never forget.” Tori responded.

The concierge gestured to the lei and grinned. “Very nice. You certainly caught somebody’s interest.”

Tori grinned. Richie grunted and with a hand on her back guided her towards their room.

Chapter 196

Throughout the flight Tori kept trying to get more details of their trip from Richie, but he refused to give them up. He just kept saying. “You’ll just have to wait and see angel.”

She sat back with a huff. “Hmpf.”

“Can I get you any…thing?” The flight attendant hesitated when she saw the look on Tori’s face.

Richie chuckled. “Don’t mind my wife. She’s pouting.”

Tori stuck her tongue out at him and turned in search of female support. “He won’t tell me where we’re going. I mean, I know it’s Hawaii, but I don’t know which island or which city or anything.”

The attendant’s brows rose. “Wife? So you’ve had the wedding then?” She blushed. “Sorry, that wasn’t very professional of me and none of my business.”

“It’s fine. Yes, the wedding was yesterday.” Richie answered.

“Oh, so you’re on your honeymoon then! Well congratulations and I wish you both the best.” She looked at Tori and hesitated, checking to make sure that none of her colleagues were close enough to hear her. “Well you could try going Bongiovi on his ass, that might make him give it up.”

Tori laughed. “I’ll have to remember to tell Jon that one!

Richie shook his head. “After twenty-five years, I’m pretty much immune.”

Tori crooked a brow. “So you don’t care if I’m mad at you? What happened to knowing I’m upset hurting you? I thought you didn’t like the temper being directed at you if it was coming from me?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want you seriously angry with me. But annoyed?” He shrugged. “That’s bound to happen. Besides, think how dull and boring your life would be if I didn’t add some spice to it every now and then. Anger gets the blood pumping and the synapses firing, clears the mind. Think of it as exercise for the emotions.”

Tori snorted. “Your logic astounds me.” She looked at the flight attendant who was snickering. “See what I have to deal with?”

“Aw come on angel, you know you love me.” He leaned over to kiss her neck.

She sighed. “No accounting for taste I guess.” She studied the attendant – her name tag said Sarah - for a moment. “Light or dark?” She knew the signs.

“Light, but I can appreciate the dark side.” Sarah admitted.

Tori nodded. “I was that way too until a little over a year ago.”

“Is this some female code conversation?” Richie was lost.

“No, it’s a Sistahood code conversation.” Tori answered. Sarah chuckled.

“Oh. Never mind then.” He stuck his fingers in his ears. “La la la la.”

“He knows about the Sistahood?” Sarah was surprised. She was also surprised that Tori knew about it.

“He knows it exists, but that’s all, and it annoys him to no end that I won’t tell him. But I just remind him that he and the rest of them have Brotherhood secrets, so fair’s fair. If he wants me to spill, he has to spill too. That’s why his fingers are in his ears.”

“You were a fan first.” It made sense now. The stories that Sarah had heard described how Jon’s sister was discovered and joined the Jovi family, but none of them had mentioned that she was a fan – and obviously a fairly active one if she knew about the Sistahood. Tori nodded. “And you’re a member?”

Tori nodded again. “For quite a few years now.”

Sarah glanced around. “Can I get you anything? Dinner will be served in a few minutes.”

“Diet Coke for both of us please.”

Sarah disappeared into the galley and returned a few minutes later with two glasses of something bubbly. “From the crew. Congratulations again.” She glanced at Richie and lowered her voice. “It’s non-alcoholic.”

“Thanks.” Richie accepted his glass.

When they landed in Honolulu, they were ushered to another plane for the short hop between islands. Landing in Lanai City, Tori was relieved to find a car waiting to take them to the hotel. Between the wedding, the wedding night and travelling all day today, through several time zones, she was exhausted. Despite her fatigue, the beauty surrounding them couldn’t be ignored. The luscious green of the grass and foliage, the water in every shade of blue sparkling in the late afternoon sun, the brilliance of the flowers in every conceiveable hue, the slender palm trees reaching for the sky, leaves waving in the warm breeze. It really was paradise.

Entering their suite, Tori was stunned. She wandered from the livingroom to the bedroom and out onto the terrace. The view was breathtaking. “Oh, Richie! It’s beautiful! I may never leave this room. I may spend the next two weeks right here.” The rooms were large and airy, the furniture well cushioned and comfortable, the d├ęcor flowed with the natural beauty outside, with cut flowers on several tables and potted plants in the corners.

Tipping the bellman, he joined her on the terrace, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her. “That’d be okay by me. After all, isn’t that what a honeymoon’s supposed to be?”

She gave a throaty chuckle and leaned back against him. “How’d I get so lucky to find such an incredibly romantic man?”

He shrugged. “I just want to make you happy.”

She turned in his arms. “Oh you do. I didn’t know I could be this happy.”

“That makes us even then.” He bent and kissed her softly. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They had a light dinner out on the terrace and were just relaxing, enjoying the sunset when there was a knock at the door. Tori got up to answer it.

“Mrs. Sambora?” A hotel staffer with what looked like a folded table stood in the hallway.


“My name is Kiki and I’m here to do your in-room massage.”


“Yes. Your husband ordered it for you.”

“Oh, he did, did he? Well, that was thoughtful of him.” She stepped back to allow the therapist in and turned to raise a brow at her husband who had come inside and was presently leaning in the doorway to the bedroom, a smile on his face.

“You’ve had a stressful few weeks. I thought you might enjoy being pampered a bit.” His dark eyes twinkled. “And with all the travelling today and sitting in planes, I bet your muscles are a little cramped and sore.”

“What about yours?” Tori fought not to blush.

“I’m used to it. I’m good.”

Kiki never let on that she understood the by-play between the newlywed couple. “Mrs. Sambora, if you would like to get undressed I’ll set up my table in the livingroom.” Tori nodded and headed for the bedroom, pausing to kiss her husband as she passed him. “Mr. Sambora, maybe you would like to choose the scent or flavour of the oils?”

“Flavour?” He was intrigued.

Kiki nodded. “Yes. I have several different fruits, and a few spices, and of course chocolate.” She smiled to herself. People were so predictable. Women usually chose scents, but men were always interested in the flavours and she could usually pick out which one they would choose within a few minutes of meeting them. With what she knew about Richie from the media, she would have guessed chocolate or maybe strawberry, but after what she’d witnessed here in the last few minutes, she changed her mind. Vanilla, definitely vanilla. He didn’t disappoint her.

When Tori emerged from the bedroom in a robe, the table was prepared with towels, and a tray set with oils sat nearby. The therapist lifted a towel, Tori dropped the robe and settled face down on the table.

“Would you like some music?” The therapist asked.

“Mmmm. Honey? Would you play for me? Please?”

“Sure angel. Anything in particular?” Richie reached for his guitar case which was never far from him.

“ Some blues maybe? You know what I like.”

“You got it. Just relax and let Kiki work on those tight muscles.”

For the next hour, the only sounds in the room were Tori’s occasional sighs of appreciation and the soothing melodies wrought by Richie’s talented fingers on the strings.

“She’s asleep.” Kiki murmured. “Do you want me to wake her up?”

Richie shook his head. “No. Let her sleep. Give me a second.” Setting aside the guitar, he went into the bedroom and pulled back the covers on the bed. Returning to the livingroom he carefully scooped Tori into his arms and carried her to the bed, depositing her gently, and pulling the blankets over her. After Kiki had packed up and left, he stripped off his clothes and slid in beside his sleeping wife.

When his familiar weight dipped the bed, she instinctively rolled to curl into him. His body reacted to the feel of her silken limbs draping over him and the scent of vanilla emanting from her skin. Closing his arms around her, he debated whether to wake her or suck it up and wait until morning. Their long day finally caught up with him as well and he fell asleep still undecided.

Chapter 197

Tori awoke early, even by her standards. The warm breeze blowing through the open windows carried the sound of waves lapping at the shore, and the heady scent of nearby flowers. With a contented sigh, she rolled over taking inventory of her body as she moved. There were still a few twinges, but the massage the night before had taken care of the worst of her soreness. She thought about getting up, then realized that for the first time in months, there was no place that she had to be, nothing that she had to do, no lists to be checked and rechecked. The only thing she had to focus on was enjoying her husband and this incredible paradise he had brought her to.

Her husband. She turned her head to look at him sound asleep beside her. Some of her married girlfriends had talked about how long it took them to get used to being called by their husband’s name. Tori didn’t have that problem. To her it just felt….natural. They hadn’t discussed it, but obviously he didn’t have a problem with her keeping her maiden name if she wanted to, but that was never even a consideration for her. She was ecstatic about being Mrs. Richard Sambora, and wanted the world to know it. A satisfied smile curving her lips, she let the jet lag still dragging at her take over and drifted back to sleep.

Richie regained awareness pleasantly surprised to find his wife curled up in his arms, the scent of vanilla clinging to her silken skin. He picked up the hand resting on his chest and pressed a kiss to her palm. A lick of his lips had his brows raising and sent him back for another taste. One by one, he sucked her fingers into his mouth, licking off the residue of the oil Kiki had used. Glancing at her face he found her watching him – or more precisely, watching his lips and tongue - her blue eyes soft and shining.

When he finished with her hand he continued up her arm, licking his way to her elbow, and right up to her shoulder. With gentle pressure he rolled her onto her back and proceeded to give her a tongue bath. Tori sighed and surrendered herself to the sensuous experience. He took his time, making sure not an inch of skin was missed. He sampled from fingertip to shoulder, along her collarbone, and down her torso. A murmur of approval was pulled from her throat when he spent long minutes on her breasts, licking and sucking on her nipples when they hardened in response to his ministrations. Her fingers clenched in his hair and she tugged lightly, silently asking for more. With a twist of his head he broke her hold and continued on his path. Her stomach muscles contracted at the touch of his hot breath, soft lips and rasping tongue. When he reached her hips he had to smile as her legs opened almost eagerly. But he had other territory to taste first, and explored the smooth skin of her thighs, before spreading them wider and settling in between. Fingers holding back her swollen folds, he touched just the tip of his tongue to her nub and flicked. Her body jerked in response. Once again he felt her hands in his hair. This time he didn’t resist when she pressed him closer. Instead, he lapped at her succulent flesh, monitoring her response by the moans ringing in his ears and the movements of her hips. When he judged that she was on the verge of desperation, he thrust his tongue deep and wiggled it. She gasped.

“Please!” She whimpered.

He didn’t pretend that he didn’t know what she wanted. Licking the length of her cleft once more, he took her clit between his teeth, flicked it with his tongue a few times, then sucked it. Hard. Tori’s back arched and she screamed as her body shook.

He pressed a kiss to her throbbing nub, and raised his head to look at her, his lips glistening with the evidence of her release. Her eyes were closed and her chest heaved as she fought for breath and waited for her heart to stop pounding. He licked his lips and grinned as he moved up to lay beside her and stroke her body with his hand. At his touch her eyes cracked open to see his face. His dark eyes were nearly black in his passion and reflected his approval and need of her. Together they watched his large hand cruise lightly over her upper chest, raising goosebumps as he went. He cupped first one breast, then the other, squeezing gently. With one fingertip he circled her nipples over and over and over until she shuddered. Raising his gaze to hers he smiled and leaned over to kiss her gently, but thoroughly while his fingers toyed with her hard peaks. The taste of her own juices on his tongue increased her arousal and she reached out to clutch his shoulders and urge him closer.

“Not yet.” He murmured against her lips.

She groaned in anticipation as his hand left her breast to roam over her stomach and down to cup her mound and knead firmly. One finger traced her cleft, and, finding her nub, rubbed it firmly. Her eyes drifted shut and she moaned deep in her throat, her hips rocking against his hand. Sensing her building urgency, he circled her opening and probed lightly. He lifted his head. “Baby look at me.” When she obeyed, brown eyes locked with blue and he watched for any sign of pain as he slowly penetrated her. Her eyes dilated even more and her teeth caught her lower lip. Easing his finger out, he added a second one and invaded her moist sheath again. Still she showed no sign of pain. In fact, her hips lifted in search of more.

He ignored the sweat running down his back and his own burning need. He had to be sure he wouldn’t hurt her. When the addition of a third finger ripped a cry from her throat, he froze, but was quickly assured that it was an outburst brought on by pleasure, not pain, by the heat and hunger glowing in the sapphire depths of her eyes. He curled his fingers slightly and searched for the sensitive patch in the front wall of her passage. Finding it, he rubbed slowly and lightly Within minutes she arched up off the bed, fingernails digging into his shoulders as she shattered again.

Before she had a chance to recover Richie shifted over her and replaced his fingers with his aching erection. Entering her slowly, he once again searched for any sign of discomfort. When he had gone as far as he could he held still. “Okay?”

Heart pounding, nerve endings tingling, desperately sucking in oxygen, all she could do was nod and try to prepare herself for the next round. She closed her eyes briefly, licked her lips and swallowed heavily. When she opened her eyes again she found him braced on his elbows, still watching her, unmoving. She flexed her internal muscles to caress the hard pulsing length stretching her and raised a brow at him. His chuckle turned into a groan when she squeezed again and he gave in and rocked against her. He kept his strokes slow and gentle, gradually lengthening them until he was pulling almost all the way out, then gliding back in.

Her eyes drifted shut again. “Mmmmm…Richie..”

“Like that?” His voice was a raspy whisper.

“Mmmmm.” Her hips move in time with his. She licked her lips again.

Richie bent his head and followed the path of her tongue with his, plunging deep when she opened for him.

When she felt her peak approaching yet again, she wrapped her arms and legs around him and held on tight, sucking hard on his tongue. With a groan that came from deep in his chest, he lowered his chest down onto the cushions of her breasts, slid his hands under her hips, tilted her towards him and reached even deeper, while still keeping his thrusts slow and gentle. Long minutes later, he shuddered and swallowed her orgasmic cry as her body convulsed, her throbbing passage clenching around him, pulling him into the abyss with her.

Her hands stroked his back soothingly, her lips pressing kisses to his shoulder, while they both waited for the world to resettle. Blowing out a breath he raised up to his elbows, smoothed her hair back from her face and kissed her gently. When he lifted his head again he was surprised to see tears shining in her eyes.

“Tori? Angel? What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?”

She shook her head. “No, you didn’t hurt me, and nothing’s wrong.” She lifted a trembling hand to caress his cheek. “You’re amazing. You make me feel special and cherished and desired more than I have ever been in my life, and you bring me the most exquisite pleasure. It is the most incredible feeling. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I don’t ever want to lose it.”

Catching her hand, he pressed a kiss to her palm, then touched his lips to hers. “I promise to do my best to see that you never do.”

Chapter 198

After dozing for awhile, food became a priority. Richie ordered lunch while Tori was in the shower. Since she didn’t know where or if they were going anywhere she opted to just put on a robe . Her eyes widened at the array and quantity of the food that arrived, but didn’t comment. She was hungrier than usual, and she guessed that she had Richie to thank for that. Once again they ate on the terrace so that they could admire the view.

Declining dessert, she sat back with a satisfied sigh she sipped on her iced tea. “How about going for a walk on the beach?”

He nodded. “Sure. Just let me grab a quick shower first.”

While he was in the bathroom, Tori stacked their dirty dishes on the cart and wheeled it inside for room service to pick up, then returned to the terrace. Richie found her still standing there when he emerged in his swimsuit.

“Are you going to walk the beach in your robe? That’d be fine by me, but you might be a little embarrassed if we ran into someone.”

She laughed. “No, smartass. I guess I got lost in this incredible view. It’s so peaceful. I’ll just be a minute.”

Attired in her new lavender string bikini, a floral sarong in her hand, she stopped to investigate a bottle that was sitting on the table. One sniff told her that it was the oil that Kiki had used the night before and had obviously left for them. She remembered hearing something about it being flavoured and dipped her finger in for a taste.

“Angel, would you bring out the suntan lotion with you please? I don’t want you to get burned.”

“Sure.” A slow smile curved her lips as an image formed in her head. Picking up the bottle of oil as well as the lotion, and their sunglasses, she went to join her husband.

Richie looked up at her approach and was transfixed by the vision in front of him. His eyes darkened, then narrowed as his gaze raked her from head to toe and back again. “Maybe the robe was a better idea.”

She chuckled. “I’m glad you like it.” She glanced down. “A lot I see.” The material of his swimsuit couldn’t hide his reaction.

He looked down, then back at her and shrugged. “You’re a nearly naked beautiful woman and my wife. Would you rather I didn’t react like that?”

“No, but that display is much more embarrassing than me in my robe.” She straddled the lounge he was lying on and set the items she was carrying down beside them. “Maybe we should take care of that before we hit the beach.”

He watched her settle on his thighs and crooked a brow. “Take care of it how?”

“Well, I think it’s my turn.” Her voice turned husky.

“Your turn for what?”

“Dessert. I didn’t have any at lunch remember. But now I suddenly have a craving for vanilla.” She reached down and lifted the bottle of oil. Pouring some into one palm, she rubbed her hands together, then smoothed them over his chest and belly. “I kinda got the feeling this morning that you thought this stuff tasted pretty good, so I thought I’d give it a try.” She leaned over and licked a path up the centre of his chest. “Mmmmm. You’re right. It is pretty good.” She reached further to nibble his earlobe. “Or maybe it’s just you that tastes good.” She smirked as he groaned and set out to torture him some more.

He watched with glowing eyes as her open mouth slid over his taut skin, sucking up moisture as she went. When she reached his nipple she circled the hard tip several times with her tongue, then flicked it. His breath hissed through his teeth. Her gaze came up to meet his and she shivered at the flame of desire visible in the chocolate depths. Eyes locked, she closed her mouth around the sensitive nub and sucked. His back arched slightly in response. Without looking away, she licked her way across his chest to give the same treatment to his other nipple. His hands slid into her hair, destroying her ponytail and held her to him. Shifting back slightly, she followed the taste of vanilla over his ribs and stomach and felt the muscles contract under her mouth.

She gripped his wrists to pull his hands from her head and sat up. One hand reached out to trace his hard length through his suit. Her brow rose in question. He just smiled. She toyed teasingly with the drawstring of his suit before pulling it undone, loosening the waistband and easing the cloth over his hips, revealing him to her avid gaze. When she picked up the bottle of oil again he took a steadying breath, bracing himself for what was coming.

Pouring more oil in her palm, she rubbed her hands together briefly, then slowly smoothed them over every bit of his shaft and sac. She closed her hands around him and stroked lightly, first one hand then the other, rubbing the tip with her palms. He stiffened and groaned. For long minutes she let her fingers play over his sensitive flesh. Light, teasing strokes along his shaft, then firm squeezes, cupping his sac in her palm and stretching the skin gently. Over and over again until he growled a warning. “Baby, enough. You’re killing me!”

The wicked gleam in her eyes when they met his told him his torture was just beginning. “Baby, I’m just getting started.” With that, she replaced her hands with her mouth. She licked his erection from base to tip, paying special attention to the swollen tip and the ridge under it. Bending further, she sucked one ball at a time, savouring the mixed flavour of vanilla oil and manly musk. Finally, she swallowed as much of his length as she could, then backed off until she held just the tip and swirled her tongue around it. Back and forth she went, tasting him thoroughly, sucking only lightly.

His hands fisted in her hair. “Tori please! No more!”

She studied his face for a moment. It was flushed dark red and sweat gathered on his upper lip. His chest was heaving. With a grin she gave in, took him a little deeper and sucked a little harder.

He tugged gently on the silken strands wrapped around his fingers and shook his head. “No. Not like that. Don’t waste it. Angel please!”

She frowned slightly, but released him, and moved up to straddle his hips. Holding him in one hand she reached for the string ties of her bikini bottom. Unravelling one side, she reached across herself to tug the string on the other hip. One tug removed the barrier between them and she tossed it to join the pile on the terrace floor beside them. Locking her gaze with his, she raised up and guided him home, lowering herself slowly until she was fully seated. His eyes glazed over and a moan was torn from his throat. She braced her hands on his chest and rocked against him.

He raised his hands and cupped her breasts, kneading the lush globes firmly and pushing aside the small triangles of material to pinch the hard tips . Next his hands skimmed down her sides to grip her hips, holding her lightly as his flexed to augment her rhythm.

“Baby, I can’t take much more!” His fingers dug into her flesh as his whole body tensed, fighting to maintain control.

Tori bent over to kiss him lightly. “Then don’t. Let go.”

He shook his head. “You first.”

She grinned, leaned back and ground harder against him. Hanging on by a thread, the blood pounding through his veins, he slid one hand around, pressed his thumb to her clit and rubbed. She gasped and increased the speed of her movements. So did he.

“Now baby! NOW!” His back arched driving deeper and pushing her over the edge.

With a cry she collapsed on his chest and held him while he shuddered in the aftermath of his release. Recovering first, she stood, grabbed the rest of her suit and headed for the bathroom. When she returned she found him just as she’d left him, eyes closed, panting heavily, still exposed to the elements. A smirk twisting her lips, she leaned over and gently tucked him back into his suit and patted lightly. “We don’t want him to get sunburned.” She got a grunt in response.

She picked up the suntan lotion and slathered herself while she waited for him to recover. Tying on the sarong, she turned to him. His breathing had slowed, but shudders still shook him periodically. Picking up the lotion again she smoothed it over his legs, chest, and arms, then tugged on his shoulder until he leaned forward so that she could reach his back. He blew out a breath, took the bottle from her and returned the favour.

Tori stood, set the bottle on the table and walked towards the stairs that led down to the path to the beach. Glancing back, she saw that he was still sitting on the lounge watching her. “Are you alive yet?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m not sure yet. Where do you get your energy?”

Her sunglasses prevented him from seeing the glint in her eye. “Well I am almost a decade younger than you.” Self preservation had her turning and running down the stairs, hoping to reach the open beach before he caught her.

“Why you…..You’ll pay for that one! Brat!” He leapt up, grabbed his sunglasses and tore after her.

He caught up to her on the beach, slid his arm around her waist and lifted her clear off the ground. She shrieked as he spun her around. Feeling water splashing her as he walked into the surf, she managed to turn and wrap her arms around his neck. She covered his face with kisses. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! You’re not old. You are my very virile, strong husband and I love you.”

He stopped, the water lapping at his knees. “That’s better.”

When she relaxed her grip he started to set her down, then threw her into an oncoming wave. She came up sputtering. “RICHIE!”

"I love you too."

Chapter 193

“I’m sorry boys, but it’s way past your bedtime. Say goodnight to Aunt Tori.” Dorothea instructed her two youngest.

“Don’t want to. I want to stay and dance!” Jake pouted.

“Me too!” Romeo’s yawn ruined the effect.

Tori smiled. “I want to thank you both for being here today. You did a great job, and it wouldn’t have been the same without you. Don’t tell your daddy, but you’re much better dancers than him.” She winked at them and kissed them goodnight.

“We know.” Jake nodded.

“I heard that!” Jon scowled as he came up to say goodnight to his sons. He turned to his sister. “Dad’s looking for you.”

Tori stifled a sigh and went in search of John Sr. She was sure she’d danced with everyone here tonight – some more than once – and she was tired. It had been a long, emotional day, and she was really looking forward to being able to escape to their room, just the two of them.

After another half hour of dancing and mingling with their guests, Tori’s feet were aching and she’d about had enough. She let out a relieved breath when she saw Karin approaching with her throw away bouquet. Taking her position, she surveyed the group of single women gathered on the dance floor, turned and tossed the flowers in a high arc. She turned back amid the shrieks and giggles to see Karin emerge victorious. Their eyes met and Tori grinned.

Suddenly she felt hands grip her waist. Familiar hands. “My turn!” She was lifted up onto the stage where a chair was waiting for her. With a long suffering sigh, she watched her husband hike himself up to join her. He dropped to his knees in front of her, and slid his hands under her skirt. His fingers closed around her ankles and then slid slowly up over her calves to her knees and beyond, over the garter, until he felt the top of her stockings and the belt clips. Brown eyes twinkling, he waggled his brows at her. She smirked back at him.

“Booooo! Boring! Come on Sambora, is that the best you got?” Came from someone in the crowd – she wasn’t sure who.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Richie snorted. The gleam in his eyes gave her a pretty good inkling of what he was going to do. His hands retraced their path. Grasping the hem of her skirt he started to lift it. He got to her knees, when the wolf whistles made him rethink letting the animals see his wife’s attributes. Instead, he ducked his head under the silk. Tori inhaled sharply at the sensation of his hot breath caressing her skin. She gasped when his lips touched her bare inner thigh. Suddenly she jerked and pushed at his head as she felt his teeth nip her tender flesh. “Richie!”

His head emerged, garter clenched between his teeth. Easing her shoe off, he pulled the garter off completely, and swirled it around his finger triumphantly. Back to the group of single men gathered in front of the stage, he stretched the elastic experimentally a few times, then let it fly. Tori laughed to see David come up with it and raise it to his lips. Then he turned and blew a kiss to Karin. Tori eyed them speculatively.

Tori started to stand, but Richie put a hand on her shoulder and shook his head. When she relaxed back in the chair he walked back to the band and brought out another chair, setting it beside her. A microphone was set up in front of the chair and Richie accepted the guitar that was held out to him before sitting beside her.

“I have a song I’d like to sing for my wife. I wrote it several years ago, but it has never been more true or had more meaning for me than it does today. I love you angel.”

When I look at you, you're beautiful.
There comes a time in someone's life,
When you find the things that matter.
And every time we touch, the love runs deep.
We realize it's ours to keep,
And that's all that really matters.

You'll always be my sweet addiction,
In this life my saving grace.
You're all that really matters, you know it's true.
Ain't no me without you.

When you're in the dark, baby don't dispare.
I'm just a spark away, I will be there,
And that's all that really matters.

You'll always be my sweet addiction,
In this life my saving grace.
You're all that really matters, you know it's true,
Ain't no me without you.

We'll share our lives together,
Yes our flame burns on forever.
And at the final curtain call,
We can say we did it all.

You'll always be my sweet addiction,
In this life my saving grace.
You're all that really matters, you know it's true,
Ain't no me without you.

And when we turn to dust, and we fly away,
There'll be a light still burning bright.
And that's all that really matters.

Tears running freely down her face, she could hardly wait until he set aside the guitar before throwing herself into his lap. Damn Samboras finally got me! She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck. “I love you too.”

He held her close for a long minute, then sat her up. “That’s it. We’re out of here.”

She frowned “Richie! We can’t leave yet.”

“Sure we can. We’ve done all the required traditions. It’s our day, and we’ve shared enough of it.” Standing, he grabbed the mic. “Tori and I would like to thank everyone for sharing our special day with us. We hope you’ll stay and enjoy yourself as long as you like, but I’m stealing my bride away now. We’ve got a long trip ahead of us tomorrow and she needs her rest.” Laughter and rolled eyes followed that statement.

They made the rounds saying goodnight to their families. They had to pull Ava and Jenny from the dance floor.

“Can I stay with Karin tonight instead of Nana?” Ava begged.

“That’s up to Karin. She may want a night to herself. Besides, Nana would be lonely without you.” Tori answered.

“No worries. Jenny’s going to stay too. We’re going to have a pajama party after this.” Karin assured them having arrived in time to hear Tori’s reply.

“And Nana won’t mind. She says that I hog the bed.”

Tori smirked. “Must be a Sambora trait.”

“That’s called cuddling, not hogging angel. And I have to, to keep warm, since you hog the covers!” Richie protested.

“That’s a Bongiovi trait.” Carol informed him, joining the group.

John Sr. winked at his daughter. “Mission accomplished.”

They chatted for a few more minutes, until Richie’s patience ran out. Tori shrieked when he swept her up into his arms and started walking towards the door. Looking over his shoulder she waved at the laughing crowd watching them.

In the lobby, a hotel staff member saw them and rushed to push the elevator call button for them. Richie grinned his thanks. They were quiet during the ride up. Entering their suite he set her on her feet, and frowned when she kissed him lightly and pulled away.

“Angel? What’s wrong?”

She grimaced. “Nothing, It’s silly.” She wandered around the room and seeing a bottle of sparkling cider in a bucket of ice, moved to open it and pour them both a glass.

Stripping off his tie, he watched her walk back to him and took the glass she offered. He could feel the tension, and….something else radiating from her. “Baby? Tell me…”

“It was a nice ceremony don’t you think?” She interrupted him. “The kids were adorable and did a great job. I almost died when they put on those Tigger ears! And where did the girls get those fangs? Shirley must have gotten them for them. Although, all in all I’d have to say that he wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought he might be.”

“Tori stop.” He pressed a finger to her lips to halt the flow of words. He’d never seen her like this. She was actually babbling. Then it hit him. “You’re not nervous are you?”

She groaned and spun away from him. “I told you it was silly. I don’t know why I’m nervous. It’s not like we haven’t done this before. I don’t know why a ceremony, a ring, and piece of paper makes it feel different.”

He fought very hard not to laugh. He knew she wouldn’t appreciate it. “Angel, come here.” He set aside his glass. When she reached him he set her glass beside his and took her in his arms and just held her. “Relax babe. It’s just you and me.”

She leaned against him, letting the familiar feel of his arms and his scent surround her and calm her. After several minutes, she sighed and pressed her lips to the bit of his chest revealed by the open neck of his shirt. Moving up she nibbled on his adam’s apple then pulled back.

“Angel?” While he could sense that her nervousness was gone, there was still some tension emanating from her.

She smiled gently at him, raised up on her toes and kissed him softly. “Hold that thought. I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

She pointed to the bathroom. “To take off this veil and get ready for bed.”

“Leave the dress on.”

She grinned. “I have to. I can’t get out of it without help.”

Chapter 194

In the bathroom, Tori removed her veil and began her normal bedtime routine, vaguely aware of Richie moving around in the bedroom. Face scrubbed, teeth cleaned, she automatically reached for the little packet of pills and popped one into her hand. Turning on the tap she reached for a glass, then stopped and stared down at the tablet nestled in her palm. What did she want? Was she ready for a baby? Were they ready for a baby? She knew Richie thought he was, even though he wasn’t pressuring her. Hell everyone knew how badly he wanted another child. Ava, Karin, even her family were pushing her towards motherhood. Her independent core automatically pushed back against that pressure. Setting that aside, she tried to focus on how she truly felt. She loved Richie. She wanted to give him everything he wanted, everything he needed, to be happy. But were they ready? Was he sufficiently in control of his demons? If he wasn’t was she confident enough in her ability to help him? A baby! A little piece of both of us. A legacy of our love.

In the bedroom, Richie turned back the covers and started to undress. Toeing off his shoes he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and glanced towards the bathroom. He was amused at her nervousness, when they were anything but strangers, but he knew what she meant. It did feel different. More…. settled, more….. committed, if that was even possible. Tonight was not going to be about just consumating their marriage, or a release of passion or a search for physical pleasure and satisfaction. Tonight was a new beginning. The beginning of their joint life. From this day forward they would be forever linked. That thought might make some apprehensive, but it brought him peace and contentment, knowing that she would always be a part of his life. It also made him eager to get started. Tossing his shirt aside, he glanced towards the bathroom again. She’s been in there a long time. What’s taking so long? Concerned, he went to investigate.

He stood in the open doorway and felt his chest constrict at what he saw. The expression on her face was one of deep thought and indecision. He wanted to help her, but didn’t want to push. He knew this was one she had to make on her own. If he thought begging would sway her thoughts in his favour, he’d plead until his knees were raw. Stepping behind her he set one hand on her waist and met her gaze in the mirror. For long minutes they communicated silently, brown eyes searching blue looking for some clue to what she was thinking, afraid to hope, blue eyes searching brown looking for assurances. He brought his free hand up to cup hers. Eyes locked, he slowly tipped her hand, testing for any sign of resistance, giving her every opportunity to stop him. His heart soared when she didn’t and the small tablet slipped from her palm and down the drain. His brows rose in question. She blew out a breath and nodded. A slow grin spread across his face until it nearly blinded her. His arms wrapped around her and he held her close, lips buried in her neck, eyes shining. “Thank you.”

She turned in his arms, threaded her fingers through his hair, and stretched up in search of his mouth. Finding it, she licked, nibbled, and sucked on his full bottom lip, while her hands kneaded the taut muscles of his back. His arms crushed her against him as he took control of the kiss, all but devouring her, his hands rubbing up and down her back almost feverishly.

The taste of his kiss and the feel of his warm skin under her hands stirred the embers of her passion back to life with a vengeance. Very quickly she felt overheated and constricted by her clothing. She tore her mouth away. “Please…my dress.”

Richie glanced in the mirror and reached for the top button. He fumbled for a few minutes, then stepped back and turned her around so that he could better see what he was doing. She grinned when she heard what she was sure was muffled cursing. “Problem?”

“Damn small buttons. Remind me to let Vera know exactly what I think about these!” He gave a grunt of satisfaction when he finally got the top one open. He fought his way through two more before grabbing her hand and towing her into the bedroom. Sitting on the bed he pulled her between his knees and went back to work on the buttons.

“Stephanie assured me that with your talented guitarist fingers, they wouldn’t be a problem.”

That had him glancing up, eyes wide with surprise – and a tinge of fear. “She’s going to be the death of Jon. I hope Ava doesn’t turn out like her.”

Tori smirked. “Oh don’t worry. She’s going to be worse.”

“What makes you say that?”

“She’s your daughter and has your warped sense of humour.”

“Smartass.” He pinched the cheek closest to him and returned his focus to the buttons. The new level and angle proved much more efficient and in short order the dress was a puddle at her feet. Standing, he lifted her into his arms and placed her gently on the bed.

She lay back and watched his face as his gaze swept her. The structure of her dress meant that she didn’t wear a bra with it, and she’d kicked off her shoes earlier, so all she was still wearing was her garter belt, stockings and panties. She raised her hands over her head and stretched languidly, smiling when his eyes darkened even more and his hands reached for his waistband. She watched greedily as he stripped off the rest of his clothes. Seeing the extent of his desire for her, she felt her insides melt and a slow throb start deep in her core. A shiver ran down her spine at the anticipation of that hard shaft stretching her tender flesh. And she didn’t want to wait. “Hurry!”

Glancing up at her heated murmur, he grinned. “Patience angel.” Although he wasn’t sure how much of that commodity he had himself. He’d been on slow burn since he saw her approaching the gazebo. Right now he was so hard he ached.

Climbing on the bed he straddled her hips and ran just the tips of his fingers over her torso, circling her nipples and plucking them when they stood up for him. He shifted back a little and bent to flick those hard kernels with the tip of his tongue. She whimpered and her back arched, wanting more than that teasing pressure. He shifted back even further and unfastened the garter belt and stockings, removing the belt. Bending he kissed the smooth skin of her stomach, and envisioned it swollen with his child. He nudged her legs apart and knelt in between. Slowly, he rolled one stocking down her leg, and off, kissing the skin he bared in the process. Then he shifted his focus to the second leg. By the time he reached her foot, her movements got his attention, and he looked up to see her wriggling out of the scrap of lace that passed for her panties. He chuckled at her impatience.

All barriers removed, he stroked up her inner thighs, feathery, teasing strokes that had her muscles tensing and her frustration rising. When he reached her molten core, he touched her with just one finger, tracing the swollen folds, flicking her clit and probing her entrance lightly.

“Richie! Baby, please! Don’t tease me anymore, I can’t take it!” She sobbed.

He stared in fascination and awe at the vision before him. Her skin was flushed, and sweat sheened, her delectable body undulating involuntarily. He couldn’t believe his luck that this incredible woman now belonged to him! Legally, morally, in the eyes of God and man, she was his!. Suddenly, he couldn’t wait anymore either. But he reminded himself to be careful. He didn’t know whether it was the two weeks abstinence, all the teasing touches and kisses throughout the day, the idea that she was finally his, or the possiblility of fulfilling his greatest wish and creating a child with her, but he’d never been harder in his life, and he didn’t want to hurt her. Lowering himself onto her, he positioned himself and entered her slowly.

Her hands clutched him close and she cried out as she felt his invasion. She was so tight he forced himself to go even slower and fought desperately to hang on to his control. When he was finally buried to the hilt, he held still. He started to raise up on his elbows to see her face, when she screamed and convulsed with the force of her orgasm. He gave a throttled shout, eyes widening in surprise as the clenching of her warm sheath took him over the edge with her.

They lay panting for long minutes, her hands stroking his back. She kissed his shoulder restlessly. It had been wonderful, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted more.

Blowing out a sighing breath he kissed her neck and raised up on his elbows. “Are you okay?”

She nodded, a dreamy smile wreathing her face. “Mmmm, I’m better than okay.” She flexed her internal muscles to caress his buried flesh.

He sucked in a breath as he felt his body’s response to her teasing. He grinned down at her. “Apparently a side effect of going off like a teenager seems to be the speed of recovery.”

She moaned softly at the feel of her passage once again being stretched to its limits. “Round two?”

Kissing her gently, he started to move. Very quickly, her body matched his rhythm, urging him on. Passion soaring, she gripped his flanks with her knees, and raked his back with her nails. “Mmmmm….God you feel good….so good. More baby please! I need more!”

Bracing his hands, he extended his arms fully and thrust harder. “Like that?” He ground out between clenched teeth, sweat dripping from his face.

Her head was thrashing from side to side. “More…..more…..more!”

Groaning, he lowered himself back onto her, gripped her knees, pushed them flat to the sheets, opening her wide and pounded into her.

“Yes, yes, yes…yes…yes….yes, Richie, YES!”

With a grunt, he released himself deep inside her, and collapsed. Catching his breath he started to lift off of her.

“NO! Don’t leave me yet. I want to feel you inside me.” She pleaded.

Holding her close he rolled onto his back, taking her with him, settling her on his chest, still intimately joined. His hands stroked her back soothingly. “You’re not into foreplay tonight?”

She chuckled. “This whole day has been foreplay!”

He laughed. “I guess you’re right.”

She pressed a kiss to his chest, then slowly sat up, straddling his hips, still impaled. “Complaining?”

He snorted. “Do I look that stupid?”

She let her gaze wander over him. “No, you don’t look stupid at all. You look dark, delicious and sexy as hell.” She licked her lips and stroked his chest.

He groaned. “Baby, you’re going to be the death of me!”

Her smile turned downright sultry. “But not right now.” She could feel his renewed interest.

“God I hope not!” He cupped her breasts in his hands and kneaded as she started rocking her hips.

She braced her hands, fingers curling into his firm muscles as she increased her speed. “Mmmmm….God I love the way you touch me!”

He caressed her breasts, torso and hips as she rode him. This time when she crested the peak, he held onto his control and watched her lose hers. When the last of her shudders had subsided, he rolled her beneath him and started again. He kept his thrusts slow and gentle.

“Richie.” She sighed, her next orgasm building rapidly, muscles tensing.

“That’s it baby, stay with me. Come with me.” He rasped in her ear. “Now!” He thrust deeper yet and heard her scream echo around the room as he emptied himself inside her.

Rolling off of her he pulled her into his arms and they drifted off into an exhausted slumber.

Chapter 195

She was dreaming. But it was more sensations than images. Heat, tingling, excitement, need, desire, tenderness, love. She woke to the feel of his erection once again sliding home. She groaned as her already tender flesh was abraded even more. “Jesus Rich!” Reaching down she gripped his hand at her waist and pressed back against him where he lay spooned behind her. She gasped when he reached as deep as he could. “Gentle babe. Please.”

“Mmmhmm.” Richie bit back his own groan, his swollen flesh almost as tender as hers after their exertions the night before. He hadn’t left her alone after they’d fallen asleep the first time. He’d awakened her twice more to indulge his seemingly insatiable need for her before finally sleeping through until full daylight. “I promise.” Holding her tight, he rocked his hips, slowly, gently, her added tightness increasing the friction and rapidly burning through his control. With a soft cry, she shuddered with her release. Feeling her hot flesh squeeze him he let go and moaned as his body pumped out his boiling tribute to her.

She bit her lip against a groan as he slipped from her body. He kissed her shoulder. “Good morning Mrs. Sambora. You okay?”

She nodded. “Good morning Mr. Sambora. You know babe, getting me pregnant right away isn’t going to do you any good if you kill me in the process.”

He chuckled. “Sorry angel, I didn’t mean to get carried away.” He rubbed her lower belly and kissed her neck. “And it wasn’t about getting you pregnant. Well, not only about that.”

She turned her head to look at him. “Oh? What was it about then? You’ve never been like that before. I mean, you’ve always been ready, willing – eager even, and very, very able, but last night was something else. At one point I was wondering if you were getting some help.”

“Viagra you mean?”

“Well, the thought did cross my mind.” She replied dryly. “For a man your age to be able to go that many times in one night is quite a feat. You would make a twenty-five year old jealous!”

He laughed and hugged her closer. “Naw, I used to be able to do twice that at that age.”

“But not as well, I bet.” Her blue eyes twinkled in appreciation.

He grinned. “Thank you. Last night wasn’t chemically enhanced, it was all you.” He shrugged. “I can’t really explain it myself. I just couldn’t get enough. Just thinking about you being my wife and the mother of my children had me raring to go again.”

“Well, can we take a break for awhile? I don’t think I can take anymore right now.”

He sighed. “Yeah. I could use a rest myself.” He yawned. “And some food.”

“What time do we have to leave?”

He raised his head to look at the clock. “About an hour.”

She groaned. “Hope I can sleep on the plane. If you want to order breakfast, I’m going to hit the shower.” She started to sit up, groaned even louder and dropped back onto the bed. “On second thought, maybe you should go first.”

He frowned. “You’re really sore aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.

She grimaced. “Every muscle from the waist down feels like it’s been beaten with a blunt object.” She looked sideways at him.

He smirked and leaned down to kiss her. “You order breakfast, I’ll run you a bath.” Rising from the bed, he headed for the bathroom, returning a few minutes later just as she was hanging up the phone. “Come on babe, a good hot soak will make you feel better.” He threw back the covers and scooped her up into his arms.

She laced her arms around his neck. “Well, the last time I had a hot soak with you, I ended up feeling verrrry good.”

His smile was warm with remembrance. “Sorry babe. This time you’re on your own. Otherwise, it’ll just defeat the purpose.” He lowered her gently into the steaming tub and let her soak while he washed as best he could at the sink. When a knock sounded he grabbed a robe and went to answer it, returning with their breakfast tray. Settling on the floor, beside the tub, he proceeded to feed her. When he held out a forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs she crooked a brow at him, but obediently opened her mouth. He shrugged. “I need the practise.”

Amused, she relaxed back in the tub and luxuriated in the soothing heat of the water while her husband fed her breakfast. “Mmmm, I could get used to this.”

He smirked. “Don’t get too comfortable. We don’t have much time.”

When she had eaten all she wanted and he’d cleaned the tray, he lifted her out of the tub and dried her gently. She did what she needed to do in the bathroom, then walked carefully into the bedroom under his watchful eye.

“Any better?”

She nodded. “Some. As long as I don’t have to run anywhere, I should be okay.”

“No problem. We’ll take it easy, and I’ll do any running that needs to be done.”

They dressed and packed, with Richie running from room to room, bringing her whatever she asked for. She zipped up the last bag just as the bellman arrived to pick up their luggage. Tori took a final look around to make sure they had everything, then took Richie’s arm and slowly followed the bellman.

They arrived in the lobby to find their families and Karin waiting. “There they are!” Ava spotted them first and came running over for a hug. Tori took a deep breath, and started making the rounds.

“Everything okay?” Karin murmured.

“Everything’s great. Why?”

“Because your new husband is watching you like a hawk, and you seem a little…..stiff…this morning.” She couldn’t keep the smirk off her face.

Tori blushed. “Shut up. I’m fine. Let’s just say it was a…..long…. night.”

“How are you going to handle sitting on a plane for several hours?”

“By reclining the seat back as much as possible.”

“Maybe you should take a pillow.” Karin couldn’t hold back her laughter any longer, and it only got worse when Tori smacked her arm.

“Mrs. Sambora? Your car’s here.” The hotel manager interrupted politely.

“Thank you. And thank you again for all your help. Everything was beautiful.” Tori shook her hand.

“I would like to add my thanks as well. It was perfect.” Richie joined them.
“I’m glad you liked it. It was a pleasure working with you.”

As the manager walked away Karin turned to Richie. “Take care of her Rock Star. She bruises easily.” Richie flushed dark red and nodded.

“You’re going to be the one with bruises if you don’t shut up!” Tori hissed at her.

“Are you sure you don’t want to leave Ava with me?” Joan asked as she joined them. “I can make sure she gets back to L.A.”

“No, it’s okay Ma. We’ve got to stop in L.A. anyway. We’ll take her home and drop off Tori’s dress and the stuff we don’t need to take with us.” Richie assured her.

“Not that I would know what that might be, since I don’t know where we’re going.” Tori added dryly.

Richie grinned. “Patience angel. You’ll like it, I promise.”

One last hug and kiss for everyone, and the three Samboras climbed into the car and set off for the airport. In L.A., they took Ava to her mother’s. Heather came out to meet them.

“Congratulations.” Heather nodded at them but didn’t smile.

“Mommy! It was beautiful! The gazebo had flowers wrapped all around it and Tori and Daddy sang their vows to each other, and then at dinner, the boys put on Tigger ears, and we put fangs in our mouth and made monkey noises, then we danced a lot and Daddy sang All That Really Matters to Tori, then Jenny and I had a pajama party in Karin’s room, and stayed up late watching T.V. and eating popcorn!”

Despite herself, Heather had to smile at her daughter. “Take a breath Ava.” She turned to Richie. “When will you be back?”

“Two weeks. We’ll be back for Ava’s birthday.” He assured her.

She nodded.“Have a good time. I’ll talk to you when you get home.” She turned and started towards the house, then stopped and turned back. “I hope you’ll both be very happy.”

“Thank you.” Tori answered.

They made a quick stop at the house to drop off the luggage they didn’t need to take with them and headed back to LAX. Richie managed to keep the secret right up until the time they approached the gate by scanning several boards and walking basically in circles. Since she wasn’t very familiar with the large airport – not to mention that she was still focusing on walking without groaning, he was able to get her turned around without her even being aware of it. Even the airline staff helped by understanding Richie’s gesture and not stating their destination when they checked in. When their flight was called he directed her to the gate. She glanced at the sign, stopped dead and her eyes widened. “Hawaii? We’re going to Hawaii?” He nodded. She squealed and threw her arms around his neck.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chapter 190

Victoria Elizabeth Adams and Richard Stephen Sambora
Together with their families
Request the honour of your presence
To share in their joy as they join their lives together in marriage
On the twenty-first day of September, two thousand and eight at
two o’clock in the afternoon at the gazebo in the park in
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario, Canada

In it together. For better or worse,
searching for our pot of gold.
Nothing else matters, when you're in it for
love, Together we can only go higher. You can reach any rainbow, you're dreaming of, Nothing else matters at all, when you're in it for love

Reception to follow at the Queen’s Landing Historic Inn
Your attendance is enough, but if you would like to commemorate the occasion, we would appreciate a donation to Stand Up For a Cure, Habitat For Humanity or a charity of your choice

Chapter 190

Tori awoke the next morning and peeked at the clock. She didn’t need to get up yet, but she knew she’d never be able to go back to sleep. Not today. A movement from the other side of the bed had her glancing towards the blonde head buried into the pillow. She smiled. Ava’d had a bit of a late night last night. She and Jenny had really hit it off and were running around and whispering in corners for hours, until they just couldn’t stay awake any longer. The shushing of sheets made her turn and look at Karin in the other bed. They’d had a late night themselves. After the party broke up downstairs and Tori had managed to tear herself away from Richie – and he had grudgingly allowed her to go – they’d sat up talking until the early hours of the morning. She was going to miss having Karin close by. Sure they would still talk on the phone, and visit back and forth regularly, but it wouldn’t be the same.

Slipping out of bed quietly, so as not to awaken either of her roommates, she pulled on a robe and moved to the little coffee pot and set it to brew. While she waited she walked to the window and moved the curtain aside just enough to glimpse the overcast early morning sky. She sighed. Well, as long as it doesn’t rain, I’ll be happy.

When the coffee was ready she poured herself a cup and settled onto the couch to enjoy a few minutes of peace before the madness of the day started, going over everything she had to do and by when in her head. She got up and paced to the window again. She was restless. This was the day she’d been waiting all of her life for. She was marrying the love of her life, who made her happy beyond any expectations she’d ever had. As much as she’d been looking forward to it, a big part of her just wanted it to be over. She wanted to be Richie’s wife and to get on with their lives. She glanced at her watch and sighed. It was going to be a long day.

It was another hour before Karin woke up and joined her on the couch. “How long have you been up?”

“Awhile.” Tori admitted. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“That’s understandable, but too bad. I don’t think you’re going to get much sleep tonight either.”

Tori grinned. “I hope not. The last two weeks have seemed like months!”

Karin checked to see that Ava was still sleeping. “Two weeks? You cut him off for two weeks?”

“No, I cut him off for the last week – well actually circumstances cut him off since I was up here and he was still in L.A. Mother Nature cut him off the week before.” Tori grimaced.

Karin chuckled softly. “That sucks! But look at it this way, as of tonight he’s met all your criteria, so if you choose to and Mother Nature works for you instead of against you, you could be looking at months of uninterrupted physical satisfaction.”

Tori nodded slowly. “I’ve been thinking about that. I just haven’t made up my mind yet whether I want to start trying right away or wait until after we get home.”

“Why would you wait?”

“Because I want to enjoy my honeymoon, and I don’t want to put any pressure on any aspect of it.”

“So don’t think about it. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, you just get to keep on trying.” Karin grinned. “Somehow I get the feeling that you wouldn’t find that a hardship.”

Tori smirked and blushed. “No, not really. But maybe we should let everything get settled down first.”

Karin shrugged. “You don’t have to decide right this minute or even today. Talk to Richie.”

Tori snorted. “If he had his way, I’d be going from the wedding to the delivery room.”

“And what about that one?” Karin nodded towards the still occupied bed.

“She’d be timing the contractions.”

Two hours later the room was full. The spa staff had arrived first, and Tori felt like she had been buffed and polished to a high gloss. By the time they were done, the mothers and the other girls had joined the fray. At one point a light lunch had been forced on her. Hair and makeup showed up next. Then it was time to get dressed.

“Tori, what earrings do you want?” Sue was searching through the jewellery box.

“Um…the amethyst studs. There should be two pairs.” Tori answered as she pulled on her stockings and attached them to the garter belt.

“I only see one here.” Sue shrugged. “I’m probably just not seeing it.”

“Tori, Grandma Helen said to give this to you.” Ava held out a scrap of elastic, blue satin and lace. “What is it?”

Tori raised her brows at the designation, then glanced approvingly at her mother who smiled fondly at her soon to be new granddaughter. “It’s a garter. Women used to wear them many years ago to hold up their stockings.”

“What are they used for now?”


“I know the colour doesn’t match your theme, but you needed something blue.” Helen explained.

“And here’s something old.” Joan stepped forward, a necklace in her hands. “It was my grandmother’s. She gave it to my mother on her wedding day, who gave it to me on my wedding day, and now I’m giving it to you.” The fine silver chain held a simple, yet elegant pendant, a large teardrop shaped amethyst at its centre. Tori looked up to meet Joan’s eyes, as a shiver ran down her spine. Joan nodded. “When I saw the colour of the dresses and your earrings, I knew. It was a sign. I knew then why it didn’t feel right to give it to Heather. It wasn’t meant for her. It was meant for you. I hope you and Richie will be as happy together as Adam and I were.”

Tori felt the tears burning her eyes. “Thank you. And it will also be my something borrowed. I’ll keep it safe until Ava is ready for it.” She hesitated and swallowed around the lump forming in her throat. “I wish….” The lump got bigger and choked off her words.

Joan knew what she was trying to say. She hugged her tightly for a long minute, then released her to look into her eyes. “I know. But he’s here. He’s watching. And he’s just as happy for both of you as I am.” She shook her head. “No crying now. Don’t want to ruin your makeup.”

Tori smiled, nodded and blowing out a breath turned to where Karin and her mother held her dress. They slipped it over her head and settled it into place. Her mother went to work on the buttons, but after a few minutes gave up. “Stephanie, you try. Your fingers are more nimble than mine.”

Stephanie grinned as she pushed the small covered buttons through their loops. “Uncle Richie’s really going to hate these!”

Dorothea raised a brow. “If your father hears you make comments like that all your clothes will have buttons like those until you’re thirty!”

The adults chuckled while Stephanie rolled her eyes and leaned closer to her aunt. “Good thing he’s a guitarist.” She murmured. Tori turned her head to raise a questioning brow at her. “He’s very skilled with his fingers.” Tori stifled her laughter and winked at her niece.

There was a knock on the door as Karin settled Tori’s veil in place. Dorothea went to answer it and returned with an envelope that she handed to Tori. Seeing her name in his familiar scrawl, Tori took a deep breath and tried to ignore the clenching of her stomach. Why is he sending me a note when I’m going to see him in a few minutes? Dorothea had recognized the handwriting as well and herded everyone to the other side of the room to give Tori a little privacy. With a trembling hand, Tori opened the envelope and pulled out the single sheet of paper.


Today is the happiest day of my life. Scratch that, the day you told me you loved me was the happiest day of my life. Oh hell, every day with you is the happiest day of my life.

For a long time I lived a charmed life. I had it all. And when I lost it, I didn’t know how to cope. I kept asking God why. Why did I have to suffer such pain and heartache? Now I know. If I hadn’t experienced the depths of despair, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate and cherish the heights of joy you bring me, and I promise to spend the rest of my life trying to return the favour.

I know you’re busy doing your girly stuff, but I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and I love you.

Look for me at the park. I’ll be the one standing in front of the minister, watching my future walk towards me. I don’t deserve you, but I would be nothing without you. You are my heart, my soul, my life.

I love you. Today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.

Tori grabbed a tissue with a shaking hand and dabbed at her eyes, her heart full to bursting.

“Everything okay?” Karin murmured.

Tori nodded and handed her the note. “Put that somewhere safe please.”

“Can I…?” Karin lifted the paper. Tori nodded. Karin walked over to where Tori’s jewelry box sat and opened the note. As she read, she blinked away tears of happiness for her best friend. “Lucky bitch.” She placed the note in the box.

Chapter 191

Finally, they were ready and it was time to go. Tori turned to Karin. “You’ve got the ring?”

Karin held up her hand showing the platinum band adorning her index finger. “Deep breath Tori. Everything’s under control.”

“Yeah Tori. Remember? It’s our lucky day.” Ava fingered the crystal four leaf clover on the necklace that Tori had given her earlier. “Today we become a real family.”

Tori leaned down to hug her. Damn! The Samboras are determined to make me cry today! “You’re right Bean. It is our lucky day.”

They headed downstairs and reached the front door just as the carriages were returning from dropping off the men. Bill was waiting for them, pride shining from his eyes as he took in the vision of his daughter in front of him. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you Dad.”

As the carriages approached the park, they could see the guests settling into seats, ably assisted by the ushers. Suddenly Karin laughed and pointed to one side of the crowd where Tony was chasing down Romeo who was making a break for the water. They could hear his giggles when his uncle swung him up in the air. Tori chuckled. “That boy needs a leash!”

They stepped down from the carriage at their appointed spot and got into position, the girls hiding Tori from the guests. Nephew Matt and Billy came to escort Joan and Helen to their seats signalling that all was ready. Excitement filled the air. Jake appeared, pulling Romeo with him and joined Jenny and Ava. At a nod from the minister, Leanne stepped out as music drifted on the light breeze. It was nothing Tori had ever heard before and she realized that the men had composed it especially for this occasion. It evoked a feeling of happiness and peace. It was perfect.

Bill peered down at his daughter whose fingers were tapping on his sleeve in time with the music. “Nervous sweetie?”

She glanced up. “No, actually, I’m not. Not at all. This just feels….right.”

“But all these people, looking at you.”

She laughed. “Dad, I’ve performed in front of thousands of people. And they were strangers. These people are friends and family. Nothing scary there at all.”

He chuckled. “I guess you’re right.”

Tori bent down to the kids. “Jake sweetie, stop pulling on your collar please. As soon as the ceremony is over and the photographer is done you can take off your tie and unbutton your collar, I promise. Romeo if you take off, there’ll be no cake for you.” She glimpsed Karin start down the path to the gazebo. “Ok guys, you’re next.”

There was an audible ‘awww’ from the crowd as Jenny and Ava, each holding the hand of one of the boys took their turn. The music shifted to a variation of the Wedding March and the crowd stood and turned expectantly.

“That’s our cue.” Bill murmured.

Tori realized that he was nervous. She squeezed his arm reassuringly, and smiling broadly, set out to join the man who made her life complete.

In the gazebo, the men took their positions and talked quietly while they waited for the girls. Richie shifted his weight from one foot to the other and kept peering down the path.

“Relax man. She’s out there.” Jon assured him, stretching up and taking a look himself.

“I know. I’m not nervous, I just want to get this over with. I want her mine.” He glanced at his best man. “What are you looking for? Afraid your wife took the opportunity and booked?”

Jon gave him a withering glance. “No, but Romeo might have.”

“Don’t worry Jon, as soon as they hit the gazebo, I’ll grab him.” Matt assured him.

A splash of violet had them all turning to watch as one by one, the girls joined them in the gazebo. When the kids reached them, Matt latched onto Romeo while Tony snagged Jake. Richie gazed down at his daughter with pride. “You look beautiful baby girl.”

“Thank you Daddy.” She hugged him briefly before taking her place beside Jenny.

The music change had him looking up. The vision that greeted him took his breath away. Knowing how much he loved her hair, she’d left it down, just pulling the sides away from her face. His fingers itched to tangle in the curls pooling on her bare shoulders. As his gaze swept her from head to toe, licking over her curves encased in, but not hidden by, silk, his body reminded him how perfectly they fit together. With effort, he brought his gaze back to her face, gratified to see the happiness glowing there. He was determined to keep it that way.

A low whistle came from beside him. “Wow!” David murmured. Richie grinned and nodded, not taking his eyes off the keeper of his heart approaching him.

Stepping up into the gazebo her eyes locked with his and she couldn’t look away. Halting beside him she vaguely felt her father take her hand and pass it to Richie. A familiar spark set her nerve endings alight as his large hand engulfed hers. His dark eyes were gleaming with warmth and appreciation. “You look…..incredible angel.” He murmured, his voice full of awe.

“Thank you. You look pretty amazing yourself.” The coat of his tux fit his broad shoulders perfectly and was cut to flatter his trim waist before dropping down into the preferred tails.

A slight clearing of a throat brought them back to the matter at hand and they transferred their attention to the minister, who smiled indulgently and began the service. The ceremony was traditional up until the vows.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Tori and Richie will exchange their vows in words they have chosen, and, appropriately for these two, will express them with song.”

Tori handed her flowers to Karin and turned to face Richie. He took both her hands in his. They lost themselves in each others eyes as the music started, the lyrics expressing their feelings perfectly.

Tori gripped his hands and started.

I do swear that I'll always be there.
I'd give anything and everything and I will always care.
Through weakness and strength, happiness and sorrow,
for better for worse, I will love you withevery beat of my heart.

Richie swallowed, nodded and they exchanged lines.

From this moment life has begun
From this moment you are the one
Right beside you is where I belong
From this moment on

From this moment I have been blessed
I live only for your happiness
And for your love I'd give my last breath
From this moment on

I give my hand to you with all my heart
Can't wait to live my life with you, can't wait to start
You and I will never be apart
My dreams came true because of you

From this moment as long as I live
I will love you, I promise you this
There is nothing I wouldn't give
From this moment on

You're the reason I believe in love
And you're the answer to my prayers from up above
All we need is just the two of us
My dreams came true because of you

From this moment as long as I live
I will love you, I promise you this
There is nothing I wouldn't give
From this moment
I will love you as long as I live
From this moment on*

Sniffles could be heard from all directions including members of the wedding party. Tori fought back her own tears, dabbing at her eyes, her heart swelling when she saw the answering wetness shining in Richie’s.

Gaining their attention again, the minister continued with the exchange of rings. “What God as brought together, let no man put asunder. By the power invested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Tori lifted her face to meet him half way. When their lips were just touching, Richie paused. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Richie closed the distance and they shared a gentle kiss, that was more about sealing vows and reaffirming promises than inciting passion.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sambora.” The minister announced.

As the crowd applauded and they stepped to the edge of the gazebo, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and bathed the newly married couple in its warmth. A strange feeling of welcome and approval filled Tori’s heart. Surprised, she looked towards Joan who met her gaze, smiled and nodded.

Raising her face to the bright beam, Tori smiled. “Thank you Adam.”

Richie heard her murmur and glanced down at her, his eyes shining with both happiness and a twinge of sadness. He placed his hand over hers on his arm and squeezed. He had felt the approving warmth too.

Ava stepped up beside them. “Now can I have a brother or sister?”

(*From This Moment by Shania Twain)

Chapter 192

When the photographer – a trusted friend of Jon’s – had declared them finished for now, they trooped back to the line of carriages for the return trip to the hotel. The band members divided the kids up amongst them to protect them as much as possible from any lurking paparazzi. Security had set up a perimeter, but with the powerful zoom lenses these days, they could get shots from blocks away. They hadn’t seen any of the usual suspects around, so they were hoping that the vultures hadn’t figured out where the wedding was taking place. Jon told the bride not to hold her breath on that one, but they’d taken all the precautions they could. They’d just have to hope for the best. At least they hadn’t disrupted the ceremony.

Richie helped Tori into their carriage and climbed in beside her. Leaning back he sighed in satisfaction. Hearing him she raised a brow in question. He grinned and let his gaze skim over her. “Sweetheart, I really do love you in that dress.” He leaned closer. “But I’ll love you even more out of it.”

She laughed and snuggled into him. “Just remember that anything worth having is worth working for.”

At his inquiring look she leaned forward and turned slightly, presenting him with her back and the row of tiny buttons. He grunted and pulled her back against him, nuzzling under her ear. “I would walk through the fires of hell for you. My wife.” How he loved being able to say that!

She raised a hand to caress his cheek and turned to drown in the dark pools of his eyes and smooth back his hair. “My husband.” A flash of purple had her lips twisting. “My very sneaky husband! Now I know what happened to my other pair of earrings.”

He tried to look innocent, but failed miserably. “When I saw you had two sets, I figured you must have gotten the extra for me. So that we could match.”

She chuckled. “Uh huh. Oh we match alright. A match made in heaven.” She brushed his mouth with hers.

“No argument there angel.” He captured her teasing lips with his and tasted her gently, but thoroughly.

“Daddy, Tori, come on! We’re starving!”

They broke apart to find they’d arrived at the hotel and Ava and Jenny were waiting beside the carriage.

“I thought you wanted a sibling.” Her father grumbled.

“Richie!” Tori swatted his arm. “We’re coming Bean.”

“ Not as soon as I’d like.” He muttered. She ignored him and the response his words, uttered in that velvet voice, ignited in her core, and nudged him towards the opening of the carriage.

He stepped down and turned to help her to the pavement. Entering the hotel, they found the wedding party waiting for them.

“See Dave? I told you Aunt Tori wouldn’t let Uncle Richie haul her off to……get started on Ava’s project.” Pete chuckled. “Ow!” He rubbed his ear where his mother had flicked him.

Lucky for both males, Tori didn’t hear her nephew’s comment. Richie did though. He met Pete’s eye and grimaced. A nudge from his wife turned him towards the ballroom. Hugging her arm tight to his side they led the way through the lobby acknowledging the smiles and best wishes of the staff and a few hotel guest that were loitering.

Dinner was a mouth-watering, subtle torture. The food was delicious, but after months of regular love-making, the celibacy of the last two weeks, added to the emotions of the day and the brief kisses in the carriage combined to make her senses extremely aware of the large man sitting beside her. She could feel his heat reaching out to her, and his scent filled her nose. Under the table, even the yards of material of her skirt couldn’t mute the sensation of his hard thigh rubbing hers – especially when he increased the pressure and his previously casual movements became anything but. The frequent clinking of silverware against crystal indicating the crowd’s wish to see a kiss didn’t help. Her only consolation was that Richie was feeling the strain too.

Needing a bit of a breather, they decided that the next couple rounds of kissing would be Tori kissing the groomsmen, then Richie kissing the bridesmaids. They turned to Jon and Karin to pass the word down the line. Tori was still talking to Karin when the clinking sounded again. Tori pushed back her chair, stood, turned towards the men and froze. She fought to keep a straight face, then gave up and laughed along with the crowd. Starting with Jon she moved down the line giving them each a brief kiss and fondling their Tigger ears.

A few minutes later it was Richie’s turn. As he stood, the sound of excited monkeys filled the room. Startled, Tori turned to look at the girls who all grinned at her, exposing their fangs. Her laughter grew as she watched Richie kiss the girls – very carefully.

Finally, dinner was finished and it was time for the speeches. Tori hoped her reactions were appropriate, but she really couldn’t focus on what was being said. She was distracted by Richie’s fingers playing with her hair, caressing her nape, back and shoulders, calluses scraping her skin lightly, raising gooseflesh and sending shivers down her spine. A glance at his face told her he wasn’t even aware of what he was doing. He was acting purely on instinct, his attention on the speakers, and his instinct was to touch her continuously, gently, lovingly. She sent a silent thank you to Vera that the silk of her dress was heavy enough not to reveal her body’s response. She couldn’t fight it. Her body knew those fingers too well, knew what they were capable of, and, having been deprived, wanted more.

She took a deep breath when the speeches were finished and they rose to cut the cake. Standing in front of the three tiered confection, she steeled herself to feel him hard against her back, one hand resting on her hip while the other covered hers on the knife. They sliced through cleanly and each lifted a portion to feed the other, both resisting the face mash urge, instead, choosing to suck crumbs and icing from each others fingers. When David expressed his disappointment, Richie raised a brow at her. With an answering smirk, she reached for another piece that her mother had just cut, and handed half of it to Richie. As one they turned and smeared David’s face with it.

“Daddy, you’re supposed to eat the cake, not wear it!” Lily called.

They mingled with their guests for a few minutes until the musicians signalled that they were ready.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom will now dance their first dance as husband and wife.” John Sr. announced.

Tori finished her conversation with her cousin and looked around for her husband. Richie walked out onto the dance floor and held his arms wide. “Okay baby, come and get me!”

Laughing and shaking her head Tori joined him. “You’re a nut!”

He just grinned and closed his arms around her. “And I’m all yours.”

“Lucky me.” She laid her head on his shoulder and sank deeper into his arms as the music swelled.

Love of my life
I don't have a lot to give you
What's in my heart
Is all that I can really give you
Love, undying love is all I have
A handful of words, that might make you laugh
And all the strength you need
To make it through
All your troubled times
I give all of myself to you
Only you
My dream come true

As they moved to the music Richie placed the hand he was holding on his chest over his heart, kissed her shoulder and sent both hand gliding over her back, caressing her silky skin and pressing her ever closer. She raised her head and met his gaze. The hand on his shoulder lifted higher until she could reach the back of his neck and scraped his skin lightly with her nails. For long minutes they just stared into each others eyes, and let the heat rise between them. Words weren’t necessary. All the love, need and desire that they felt was clearly visible in their eyes.

Love of my life
You were all I ever wanted
To be with you
Is all I ever really wanted
You, you've made my life a fairy tale
You've added love, to a life that was so stale
And know that I'll be here
Always for you, when you need a friend
I give all of myself to you
Only you
My dream come true

I've been waiting my whole life for you
Now my waiting is through
All the nights I spent dreaming I knew
That my dream would come true
So many nightsI laid awake dreaming I knew
One day I'd be with you
Now all my nights of dreaming are through
Cause my dream has come true
Dream come true
My dream has come true*

As the song neared its end, Richie bent and touched his lips to hers. What was meant to be a brief, gentle expression of love, quickly evolved into something several degrees warmer. By the time they broke apart, their eyes were dilated, their heart and breathing rates had increased, and Tori would have sworn that his hands had burned holes right through the silk of her dress. They both knew if they were going to make it through the rest of the evening without embarrassing themselves and shocking the kids, they would have to stay away from each other for awhile. Richie blew out a breath, gave her a half apologetic smile and passed her over to Bill who had approached them.

After the father/daughter dance – which was a little uncomfortable for both of them considering it had followed on the heels of the foreplay on the dance floor, Tori was finally able to head to the bar for a much needed drink.

“Ice water might be a better choice. If I remember my high school chemistry right, alcohol will only fan the flames.” Karin appeared beside her. “Holy shit Tori! I was actually looking for the fire extinguisher! For a minute there I thought he was going to take you right there on the dance floor!”

Tori blushed bright red and grimaced. “I know. And the thing is….I’m not sure I would have even tried to stop him!” She took a big sip of her wine. “I can’t believe I could forget where I was like that!” She snorted. “Who am I kidding? The man can make me forget my own name!”

Karin chuckled. “Stop bragging! Just please, for the sake of the kids and your parents – and your jealous, single friends, who aren’t getting any tonight, try to lower the temperature a bit?”

“That was quite the show you put on there sis.” Michael commented as he stopped on his way to the bar which was right behind them.

“Glad you kept your clothes on.” Jim added and he and Louise joined them. “I thought maybe you were going to fulful Ava’s wish right there.”

“Oh shut up and get me a beer.” Tori set down her empty wineglass. She needed to keep her inhibitions tonight, not lose them.

“Good idea.” Louise nodded at the wineglass. “That’s how I ended up with four.”

“It would take me more than they have in stock for even one with him!” She jerked her head toward her eldest brother. He made a face at her.

“So, I guess I should keep my calendar open for a baby shower in about nine months then?” Sue joined the group.

Tori sighed. “It’s going to be a long evening.”

(*Dream Come True by Frozen Ghost)
This is my nice little story turned epic with Richie in the starring role - although Jon plays a large part.