Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chapter 120

“Hey man.”

“Hey yourself. How are you doing?” Jon was concerned, but the same edge of anger could be heard in his voice that had been in his sister’s.

“I’m okay. Feeling like a complete ass. I’m sorry man.”

Jon sighed. “You know I love you like a brother, but you’ve got to get your shit together Rich. It was bad enough having to sit my kids down over breakfast and tell them that Uncle Richie fucked up before they heard it from their friends. I don’t want to have to tell them something worse.”

“I know and I’m sorry. I…I need to get some help.”

“I’m here for you. I’ll do whatever I can to help.” He paused. “Do we need to cancel some shows?”

“No, not yet. I’ll know better after my court date, but we should be okay for the rest of this leg at least. During the break, I’ll go to rehab.”

“And until then?”

“Tori’s going to stay with me until we go back on the road. I should be fine then.”

“She must have decided then.”

“Decided what?”

“Whether she wanted to hit you or hug you.”

Richie chuckled. “Well so far, she’s done neither. Just given me a stern lecture, although for a while there, I thought she was going to deck me.” He sobered. “I forgot that her fiancé was killed by a drunk driver. I can’t believe I put her through that! But at least she’s not leaving me. I’m really sorry man.”

“I know you are. Just get well. We’re here if you need us.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you in Denver.”

Hanging up, he took a deep breath and called his mother. That conversation didn’t go nearly so well. Joan was not happy with her son and she let him know it.

“You know better than to drive when you’d been drinking Richard! And with Tori and Ava in the car!”

“I wasn’t drunk Ma.”

“I don’t care if you had one drink or twenty, you shouldn’t have been driving!” She sighed. “I miss him too Richie. Please get some help before I lose you too.”

“I will Ma. I promise.”

Tori came in to tell him his meal was ready just as he was hanging up. She took one look at his face and immediately sank down on the couch to take him in her arms. She held him tight and rocked him gently as the emotion came pouring out of him.

“God I miss him so much! He was always there when I needed him, always supporting me whatever I decided to do – or giving me a kick in the ass when I needed it. He’d certainly be on a kicking spree today.”

She didn’t disagree. She kept silent and let him get it all out. How he’d been thinking about his father so much in the last few days, the memories of these same days the year before, watching his father disappear bit by bit every time he saw him. “And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do! I had to just sit there and watch him die!”

“Honey, why didn’t you talk to me about this before now? Why didn’t you let me try to help?”

He sighed. “Pride. I thought I could get through it on my own.”

She tugged on his hair – hard. “You’re not alone anymore! I want you to share everything with me – good and bad. When Brian died I don’t know what I would have done without Karin to talk me through it. She convinced me that it was okay to be sad….and it was okay to be angry. She comforted me when I cried and stood back and let me rage when needed to. I know you have all kinds of feelings bouncing around inside you. You’ve got to let them out in order to heal. If you keep them bottled up, sooner or later they’re going to explode. I want to be here to help you through the bad times, but I can’t if you don’t tell me what’s going on!”

“I know and I’m sorry. And you have helped, just by being here. You and Ava.” He grimaced. “I can’t believe I put her through that!”

She couldn’t either, but decided she’d lectured him enough. It was time to be supportive now. “She’ll be okay. You do need to sit down with her and explain though.” He nodded. “But first you need to eat.”

The phone rang. Richie looked at it like it was poisonous. Tori reached over to answer it. “Hello?”

“Hi Bela, how are you doing?”

“Hi Shirley. We’re okay thanks. A little shaken obviously, but okay. Do you want to talk to him?”


She handed Richie the phone and headed for the kitchen. When she returned with the soup and sandwich she’d made he was just hanging up.

He blew out a breath and looked at the food. “Thanks.” He stirred the soup around a bit.

“Honey I know you probably don’t feel like it, but you need to eat.”

“I know.” After the first couple spoonfuls his hunger kicked in and he managed to finish everything on his plate.

The phone rang again. Again, Tori answered it.

“Hi Bela. You holding up okay?”

“Hi Teek. Yeah I am thanks. Do you want to talk to him?”

“Actually I want to kick his ass, but since I’m too far away I’ll settle for talking to him.”

She chuckled. “I hear ya.” She handed Richie the phone.

She took the dishes into the kitchen, cleaned up and was heading back to the living room when the doorbell rang. She approached the door warily, looking through the window beside it. Surprised, she quickly opened it and ushered Heather and Ava in.

“Tori!” Ava hugged her.

“Hi Bean. How are you feeling?” She hugged her back.

“Why are they saying all those nasty things about Daddy? He wasn’t drunk! I’ve seen him when he was drunk and he wasn’t drunk last night!”

Tori glanced at Heather but there didn’t seem to be any help coming from that quarter. She decided to be honest with the girl. “I know he wasn’t Bean, but he had a couple drinks and he shouldn’t have been driving. He put a lot of people at risk including himself, you and me. What he did was wrong.”

“Are you mad at him?”

“Yes I am.”

“So you don’t love him anymore?” The dark eyes so like her father’s filled with tears.

Tori knelt down so that she could look her in the eye. “Of course I still love him! Just because I’m mad at him doesn’t mean I don’t love him anymore. It just means that I’m mad at him for making a stupid decision.” She tried to think of how to make a ten year old understand. “You know how we get mad when you do something that we think is dangerous and you might get hurt?” Ava nodded. “And you know that even though we’re mad we still love you right?” Again Ava nodded. “It’s the same thing with Daddy. Do you understand?”

“Yes. Can I see him now?”

“Sure. He’s in the living room. He may still be on the phone with Uncle Tico, but you can go on in.”

Ava gave her another hug and then ran towards the living room. Standing, Tori met Heather’s gaze. “Thank you for bringing her here. He needs to talk to her.”

Heather shrugged. “I figured it was easier for us to come to him than for him to get to us. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not unfeeling and I don’t hate him.” She hesitated. “You’re good with her.”

“She’s a beautiful, bright, caring girl Heather.”

“Yes she is. She’s the best of both of us.”

“Do you want some coffee or something?”

“Coffee would be great. Thanks.”

They headed for the kitchen and sat together on stools at the island. At first the conversation was a little stilted, but Tori was determined to try to form some sort of civil relationship with Ava’s mother. For once Heather seemed receptive.

“So what was it? His dad?” Heather asked.

Tori nodded. “Yeah.”

“That’s what I figured. Those last few weeks were really hard on Richie.”

“I can believe that. A close friend of my family went through the same thing as Richie’s father. I know exactly what Richie saw. That was hard enough on me, I can only imagine what it was like to watch a parent go through that.”

In the livingroom Richie held Ava on his lap and hugged her close. “Are you okay baby girl?”

“I’m fine Daddy. They’re saying awful things about you on TV.”

“I know sweetie. I was really missing Pappy last night, and I was feeling bad and I did a really stupid thing. I had a couple drinks and then I drove. I shouldn’t have done that. I put you and Kate and Tori in danger and I’m sorry. I love you and I’m supposed to protect you.”

“It’s okay Daddy. I know you’d never hurt me. I love you too.” She frowned. “Are you going to have to go to jail?”

“I don’t know yet. I have to go to court in May and the judge will decide.”

“I don’t want you to go to jail!” Two tears ran down her cheeks.

“Sweetie don’t cry. I don’t want to go to jail either, but what I did was wrong, and I’ll just have to wait and see what my punishment is.”

Richie went looking for the women and found them in the kitchen. “Hi Heather. I’m sorry about last night. I wasn’t drunk, but I shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel. I should have let Tori drive. I was stupid and put Ava in danger. I have no excuse.” The pain and self disgust was very evident in both his voice and his eyes.

Heather studied him for a moment, then nodded. “I know you normally would never put her in danger. You obviously weren’t thinking straight. But Richie……you need to get some help before someone does get hurt. Despite our problems, I still think you’re a good man, and I know how much you love Ava,….but if you ever put her in a position like that again, I’ll have you back in court and stripped of any custody whatsoever so fast it will make your head spin. Got it?”

He nodded. “I hear you. Will you let her stay now until I leave for Denver?”

Heather hesitated. “If Tori is staying.” She glanced at Tori, who nodded. “As long as Tori is here she can stay. I’m sorry Rich, but I’m not willing to leave her alone with you right now.” She slid off the stool. “I’d better get going.” Approaching Richie she hugged him briefly and kissed his cheek. “Get help. Get well.”

Tori walked her to the door. “Heather….thank you….for not taking her away.”

Heather stared at her for a moment and shrugged. “We all have our demons.”

Chapter 121

Dinner was a little subdued, although the adults tried to put a good face on it for Ava’s sake. They decided to watch a movie instead of T.V. When it was time for Ava to go to bed, Richie took her upstairs and tucked her in. Returning downstairs, he found the livingroom empty and went in search of Tori. He found her in the studio sitting at the piano. Like him, she found music a great outlet for her emotions.


She looked at him speculatively for a minute, then waved him to a chair. Rising she reached for his guitar and handed it to him. “Tell me what you’re feeling Rich. Let it out.”

Brown eyes met blue and read the message there. His lips twisted in a wry smile. She understood him so well. She knew that, like most men, words alone were hard for him, but put it to music and it just flowed from him. He nodded and closed his eyes.

Misery likes company, I like the way that sounds
I’ve been trying to find the meaning
So I can write it down
Staring out the window, it’s such a long way down
I’d like to jump, but I’m afraid to hit the ground

I can’t write a love song the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope, I got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind of strange, since you went away
I sing this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

I’m tired of watching TV, it makes me want to scream
Outside the world is burning, man it’s so hard to believe
Each day you know you’re dying
From the cradle to the grave
I get so numb sometimes, that I can’t feel the pain

I can’t write a love song, the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope I’ve got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind strange,
It’s strange enough these days
I send this song to you, whoever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

Staring at the paper, I don’t know what to write
I’ll have my last cigarette – well turn out the lights
Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel a different way
But here in my delusion, I don’t know what to say

I can’t write a love song, the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope, I’ve got nothing to say
And I can’t fight the feelings that are burning in my veins
I send this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding

I can’t write a love song, the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope, there’s no one left to save
And I can’t fight the feelings that are buried in my brains
I send this song to you wherever your are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

He opened his eyes to see Tori nodding, tears running down her face, not realizing that his own cheeks were wet. She stood and went to him, wrapped her arms around him, laid her cheek on the top of his head and just held him until the emotional outpouring had subsided. He leaned against her and accepted the comfort she was offering.

Straightening, she wiped the tears from both of their faces and tilted his face up to hers. She searched his eyes and dropped a kiss on his lips. “Now I want you to listen to me.” He nodded and watched her resume her seat at the piano. Locking her eyes with his she started to play.

How you spend your minutes are what matters
All tomorrows come from yesterdays
When you’re feeling broken, bruised and sometimes shattered
Blow out the candles on your cake like everything’s a big mistake
It seems you always wait for life to happen
And your last buck can’t buy a lucky break
If all we’ve got is us then life’s worth living
And if you’re in, you know I’m in
I’m ready and I’m willing

I am
When you think that no one needs you, sees you or believes you
No one’s there to understand
I am
I’ll be there to be that someone
When you think that no one is there to hold your hand
I am

We’re just who we are, there’s no pretending
It takes a while to learn to live in your own skin
Say a prayer that we might find our happy ending
And if you’re in you know I’m in
I’m ready and I’m willing
I ain’t got no halo hanging over my head
I ain’t gonna judge you, I’m just here to love you

I am
I am
I am
When you think that no one needs you, sees you or believes you
No one’s there to understand
I am
I’ll be there to be that someone
When you think that no one is there to hold your hand
I am

He smiled and picked up his guitar again. “I hear you.”

This world don’t give you nothing
It can’t take away
Everybody holding on to something
Nobody wants to fade away
No forgiveness on the streets of this town
I left my patience at a traffic light
There’s no denying that I almost lost it
Threw in the towel, too tired to fight

Tonight I need you
More than yesterday
Tonight I need you
Take me, touch me
Hold me like you mean it
Make me come alive
Hurt me, heal me,
Come and make me feel it
Rescue me tonight
Love me back to life

These days I’d trade sight for feeling
There are days my feeling’s gone
Can’t figure out whose life I’m living
I don’t know right from wrong
When I lost faith
You found it and gave it back to me
There’s a new light on your halo

It took blind eyes to see
That I need you
More than yesterday
Yeah, I need you
Take me, touch me
Hold me like you mean it
Hurt me, heal me
Come and make me feel it
Rescue me tonight
Love me back to life

Take me, touch me
Hold me like you mean it
Make me come alive
Hurt me, heal me
Come and make me feel it
Rescue me
Take me, touch me
Hold me like you mean it
Make me come alive
Hurt me heal me
Come and make me feel it
Rescue me tonight
Love me back to life
Love me back to life
Love me back to life
Love me back to life

Setting aside the guitar he rose and held his hand out to her. “I love you.”

She rose and put her hand in his. “I love you too.”

Hand in hand they walked through the main floor turning off lights and locking doors before heading upstairs. They checked on Ava, then headed for their bedroom.

Halting beside the bed he framed her face with his hands and tilted it up to him. His head bent until he could brush her lips lightly with his. “Stand still.”

Curious, she obeyed and let him undress her, watching in fascination as his eyes darkened and his face tightened as his passion grew with every inch of her skin he bared.

When he had rendered her naked he pulled back the covers, picked her up and laid her gently on the bed. Stepping back he let his gaze roam over her as he stripped off his own clothes. He joined her, laying on his side and running just his fingertips from her collarbone to her waist, smiling slightly at the goosebumps that rose on her skin at his touch. She reached for him, but he pushed her hands away and shook his head. “No. Let me love you. Just lie back and let me show you how much I love you.”

She did as he asked, and watched his face as he watched his hand reverently skim over her torso. Her back arched slightly when he spent long minutes circling her aureoles and nipples, pinching them lightly when they hardened for him. Her stomach muscles contracted as he continued his downward path.

When he reached the juncture of her thighs, he nudged them apart and stroked the sensitive flesh there. As her arousal increased he could feel her wetness smoothing his way. Teasing apart the plump outer lips, he found her nub and with one finger tip he rubbed it slowly.

Her hips rocked towards him, silently asking for a firmer touch, but he kept to his slow, light rhythm. She moaned softly. “Please!”

He glanced at her face briefly, then back at his hand caressing her. In response to her plea he slid first one, then two fingers inside her and stroked. Everytime she reached for him, he pushed her hands away until she gave up and grabbed the sheet beneath her instead. She groaned and closed her eyes as she felt her climax approaching. “Richie, please!”

He shook his head. He knew what she wanted. “Not yet. Come this way for me.” When he felt her walls tightening on his fingers he brought his thumb into play, flicking her swollen clit, driving her higher. He watched her body undulating, her skin flushed in her passion. “You’re so beautiful. God I love to see you like this!”

“Richie!” Her hips thrust upwards, driving his fingers deeper as her orgasm swamped her.

He slowed his movements, riding out her storm, but didn’t release her. Leaning over he took possession of her mouth with his, his tongue diving deep to taste her and tangle with hers.

She groaned as her body began to gear up again. This time when she reached for him he didn’t stop her and she ran her hands up and down his back, massaging the long muscles there.

He tore his mouth away to kiss a path across her cheek to her ear where he nibbled on the lobe before nuzzling the spot beneath that was guaranteed to make her shiver. He continued down over collarbone to the swollen mounds of her breasts. There he alternated between them, licking and nibbling, and finally suckling her hard peaks. All the while his fingers continued their slow movements inside her warmth.

Her hands threaded through his hair and she held him close as she shuddered with the force of the sensations coursing through her body. “Mmmm baby, you’re killing me.” She gasped.

His response was to release her breast and turn his attention to the warm skin of her stomach, dipping into her navel on his way down to where his fingers played. He slid his fingers out to hold her open for his tongue to taste and explore.

“Richie! Enough! Please! I can’t take anymore!” Her hands clenched in his hair.

He raised his head enough to answer her. “Yes you can.” Reaching up he removed her hands from his hair and held them down by her hips as he continued to feast on her moist succulent flesh. When his tongue delved deep, it was too much for her and her body convulsed.

He slid his body up hers until he could once again capture her mouth, letting her taste herself on his tongue and he entered her slowly, groaning at the feel of her contractions gripping and releasing his hard shaft.

She let out a ravaged moan at the feel of him stretching her. When he began to move she wrapped her legs around his waist and rode out his thrusts, amazed to find her passions once again rising to meet his.

He kept his movements slow and gentle as he rocked into her again and again. He could feel her nails digging into his shoulders, but he ignored it, and instead continued to ride her slowly. This time when she climaxed, he held still for several heartbeats to let her catch her breath. Then he began to move again, thrusting heavily, forcefully into her welcoming body.

She was a quivering mass of sensation, but he wasn’t stopping. She had no breath left to speak or even moan. He had taken complete control of her body, but she wasn’t scared. She knew she was safe. She gloried in the pleasure that they brought to each other. Even after all this time, he still managed to show her new levels of ecstasy. Then all coherent thought was gone as her body went rigid. She buried her mouth in his neck to stifle the scream that was torn from her throat as she shattered a final time.

He groaned as she clamped down on him like a vice and took him with her to paradise. His thrusts gradually slowed as he emptied himself inside her. He collapsed on her for long minutes. Finally he withdrew from her, and shifted slightly to the side and down so that he wouldn’t crush her and laid his head on her breast. “Thank you for standing by me. I promise I won’t let you down.”

She slowly stroked her fingers through his hair. “I know you won’t. And there’s no where else I want to be. I love you. We’ll get through this together.”

He nodded and kissed the skin under his cheek. “I love you too.”

Chapter 122

The rest of the week passed in relative calm. Richie met with his lawyer, but there was really nothing they could do until the blood test came back.

Tori and Ava grew closer as they spent more and more time together. Each night after dinner, Tori would help her with her homework, then they would join Richie and either watch T.V. or have a guitar lesson or play a game until bedtime.

One night when Ava had gone into the kitchen to get a drink, Tori turned to Richie.

“I still can’t get over Heather’s attitude about all this. She was actually pleasant to me.”

Richie shrugged. “I gave up trying to figure her out a long time ago, but I would bet that she has some ulterior motive.”

“I thought for sure that she would refuse to let Ava stay here.”

“Mommy and Jack are taking a trip.” Ava explained having heard Tori’s last comment as she came back into the room.

Richie and Tori exchanged glances. “Where’s Julie?” Her father asked.

“Visiting her sister in Sacramento.”

“Told ya.” Richie murmured.

Tori looked hard to see if the girl was upset at taking second place in her mother’s life, but she couldn’t see any sign of it. Of course, she probably didn’t know anything different.

“Well, lucky for us then. I’m really glad you’re here Bean.”

Ava looked at her as though trying to determine if she was sincere.

“I mean it.” Tori assured her.

Ava nodded. “Me too. Maybe when you’re living here all the time I can stay here even when Daddy’s away.”

The hopeful expression on her face almost broke Tori’s heart. The hand resting on Richie’s leg squeezed.

“We’ll see sweetie.” He promised.

As the week drew to a close, they all prepared to leave the house – Ava to school, then back to her mother’s, Richie to Denver for the next show, and Tori to head back home. She had originally planned to fly out on Sunday night, but with the circumstances, changed her schedule. Now she was flying to Denver with Richie on Monday and heading back from there.

At the airport they paused to say goodbye before Tori went to catch her connection home and Richie headed for the venue. Wrapping her in his arms he hugged her close and kissed her long and lingeringly. Raising his head he gazed down at her and sighed.

“I’m sorry babe. This wasn’t exactly a laughter filled week.”

She tightened her arms around his waist. “Hey, life isn’t always fun and games. I don’t expect you to entertain me all the time. Just being together makes me happy – in good times and bad.”

He snorted softly. “But I don’t think you had this kind of ‘bad time’ in mind.”

“Any time with you is better than any time apart. We’ll get through this. We’ll be okay.” She assured him. “All I ask is that you try. And Rich, it doesn’t mean you’re weak if you need to ask for help.”

He smiled. “I hear you and thank you for all your help and support.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “You better get going or you’re going to miss your flight.”

She nodded. “Good luck with the shows.” She hesitated. “Call me if you need me.”

He smirked. “Baby, I’ll always need you, but I know what you mean. I think I can survive a few weeks, but I’ll let you know if it becomes too much. Can I call you even if it doesn’t?”

“You’d better, or I’ll think Jasmine’s got you.”

“Not a chance.” He chuckled. “Even if she found the courage to take on you and Dorothea, I’m not interested, and Jon wouldn’t let her in the door.” He kissed her again. “See you later angel. I love you.”

“I love you too honey. Be strong.”

As she walked towards her gate she pulled out her phone and dialed.

“Hi Tori.”

“Hi Jon. He’s on his way to you, and I’m on my way home.” She paused to swallow heavily. “Take care of him for me.”

“I will. Don’t worry Sis, we’ll get him through this.”

“Call me if you think I need to come out.”

“Will do. What’s your timeline for the move?”

“Dad found a buyer for the store so I can pretty much leave anytime. I was going to wait until the tour was finished, but now, I’m hoping I can have everything ready to go by the end of this leg.”

“Good. Let me know when to send the trucks.”

“I will. Thanks. Oh, they’re calling my flight. Have a good show Jon, and I’ll talk to you later.”

“Have a good flight. And don’t worry, we’ll look after Richie.”

Over the next couple weeks, Tori spent her days getting the store in shape and training the new owner. He had offered positions to most of the existing staff, so the change over should be smooth and easy. At night she sorted through her belongings deciding what was going to Philly and what was going to L.A. and packed. She spent the weekends in Philly working on the kitchen and livingroom. She’d finally decided on colours, going with warm sunset inspired tones. The furniture she’d found was large and comfortable, while the draperies were light and swept back so as not to impede the view, but could be drawn if need be….. and there was a fake fur rug in front of the fireplace.

Richie had done as promised and had the electronics delivered. The second weekend Henry came up with the installation crew to see if she needed any help.

“Wow!” He exclaimed as he looked around the open common area. “This looks fantastic Miss Adams. I can’t believe you got this all done in just a few days!”

She smiled wryly. “Yeah I’m a bit of a fanatic when I’m working on a project I’m really excited about. I may have to sleep for a few days after it’s done, but it gets done quickly. But at least the major stuff is done now, and the rest I can pick away at in a more leisurely manner.”

“Well you’ve sure done a beautiful job. I’m sure Mr. Sambora will love it.”

“Thank you. I’m sure he will too. At least until he gets the bills.”

They both laughed.

Back home early the next week, she was at the store watching her father demonstrate a television set. This wasn’t Tori’s area of expertise, so when her dad had shown up she grabbed him to help. The discussion of HD and plasma vs. LED went right largely ignored by her as she watched the channels change as her father idly surfed. Suddenly an entertainment news show appeared and a familiar name caught her attention. Listening, her stomach clenched and her heart sank. She glanced up at her father.

“Go.” Was all he said.

Running for her car she pulled out her phone and put the wheels in motion. She stopped briefly at her apartment to pack a bag and verify the arrangements, before heading out again. She was throwing her bag in the back seat of her car when her cell rang.

“I’m on my way.” She answered recognizing the ring.

“Good. What time does your flight get in?” Jon asked.

“Four fifteen your time.”

“Okay, I’ll have Jack pick you up.”

She was almost afraid to ask the question foremost in her mind. “How is he?”

“Swearing up a storm at the moment, but it’s what’s going to happen when he stops that concerns me.”

“Me too. If they go ahead with this…..I don’t want to think about what it will do to him.”

“Me neither. He’s going to need all the support we can give him. I’m not going to tell him you’re coming. I figure he could use a happy surprise at this point.”

“I agree.” She blew out a breath.

“Deep breath honey. It’ll be okay.”

“I know, I’m just worried about him and what he’s feeling right now.”

“We’ll do our best to distract him until you get here.”

“Okay, and I’ll work on getting into a more positive frame of mind before I get there. Me being all down and depressed isn’t going to help him.”

“That’s my girl! See you soon Tori.”

“Bye Jon.”

No comments:

This is my nice little story turned epic with Richie in the starring role - although Jon plays a large part.