Richie sat in his chair, stunned, and watched her walk away, his heart aching. Now he knew why she pushed the idea of a baby off to some vague future date. Damn! He hadn’t meant to make her cry. He just wanted her to include him in her support group, and be honest with him and drop the ‘everything’s just fine’ front she was putting up. He’d gotten what he asked for. He almost wished he hadn’t asked.
Releasing a heavy sigh he stood and set off in her wake. He found her sitting on the bench, staring at the gently flowing water. She didn’t look at him when he took a seat beside her, although he knew she was aware he was there. They sat in silence for several minutes.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I just wanted you to stop hiding your feelings from me.” He said quietly.
“I didn’t want you to know.” She replied just as quietly.
“Why not? You didn’t like me locking you out when things upset me, why would you think I’d be any different?”
“I know how you get when I’m upset. You would just blame yourself, and you were berating yourself enough, I didn’t want to add to your burden.” She sighed. “I’m not very proud of my moments of doubt. You need positive energy around you, not people questioning your self control. And for the most part I do have faith. There’s just this little voice in the back of my mind that isn’t totally convinced yet. The only thing that’s going to convince it is you being sober for an indefinite period of time. And for that you need to be focused on you, not worrying about me.”
Richie thought about that for a moment. “Baby, I appreciate you trying to protect me and not upset me…but stop it. I’m a grown man. If I can’t handle your honest reactions then I’ve got a bigger problem than any of us thought. I don’t expect blind faith from you….and I don’t want it. Frankly, I’d be concerned if you didn’t have some doubts – especially after what happened.” He paused. “Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I’m glad you have doubts.” Her brows rose. “Do you have any idea the pressure your unfailing faith put on me? I intend to do my very best, but I’m only human. I won’t lie to you. I may slip. I’m going to try very hard not to, but….” He shrugged. “And the little voice in the back of my mind keeps warning me that if I do, you’ll be gone. While that is powerful incentive, it’s also huge pressure. I don’t want to lose you.”
She looked at him for the first time since he joined her on the bench. The tears were flowing once again. “I’m sorry. I never meant to do that. I just wanted to support you and let you know that you’re not alone in this.”
“I know, and it means more to me than I can ever say. But if we’re going to make this work, we need to share our feelings about everything – good and bad, otherwise it will come back to bite us. Trust me on this. I’ve been there.” He tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear. “I may not like to hear it, but I need to. I love you more than any woman I’ve ever met. More than I thought I ever could. I think you love me the same way.” She nodded. “Then baby, there’s nothing we can’t work through. Together.” She couldn’t help but smile. “What?”
She shrugged. “I never thought I’d see the day when a man said we needed to talk more about our feelings.”
He chuckled, put his arm around her and pulled her close. “Well, I never thought I’d see the day when a woman didn’t want to.”
She laid her head on his shoulder. “Oh I wanted to. I just didn’t want to make things harder for you.” She grimaced. “So much for my brilliant plan.”
“I can’t fault the sentiment, just that you felt the need to hide how you really felt from me. Please don’t do that again, and I will do my best not to give you reason to.”
“Umm…lunch is ready.” Came from behind them.
Richie turned his head. “Thanks Jess. We’ll be right in.”
They stood and Richie tipped her face up to his. Cradling it in his large hands, he used his thumbs to wipe away the wet tracks of her tears. “Okay?” She nodded. Bending, he kissed her softly.
Straightening, he turned towards the house and held his hand out to her. She took it and they headed in.
When they entered the dining room Jon glanced up to greet them. Seeing Tori’s face he frowned and raised a brow at Richie. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Richie replied, smiling slightly.
“Hey.” Tori answered, squeezing Jon’s shoulder as she passed behind him, assuring him she was okay.
Dorothea came in with Romeo, glanced from one to the other, but didn’t comment.
“Ok, Tori, here’s what I’ve got arranged. You fly back Wednesday morning, and the trucks will be there on Thursday. Does that give you enough time?” Jon asked.
Tori nodded. “Yes. Everything’s packed except some clothes.”
“I’m going with her.” Richie spoke up.
Tori looked at him. “That’s not necessary. Why don’t you go to L.A. and get Ava, and I’ll join you there in a few days.”
“I’m taking you away from your home and that part of your family, and you don’t think I should be there?” He asked in exasperation. “Don’t you think they might have something to say to me? Or me to them? You want to do this by yourself? And what do you mean a few days?”
“All I meant was, it’s your time off and I know how much you miss Ava when you’re away. And yes, a few days. I can’t drive across the country in a few hours!”
“Well, I’m not leaving my car behind.”
“So you’re planning on driving a few thousand miles by yourself?” She shrugged. He growled. “Keep it up woman, and you’re finally going to really pis…er…make me mad.” He glanced at the kids who were watching the exchange avidly and Dorothea who was trying to hide her smile.
Jon stepped in. “I’ve got that covered too. The trucking company is sending extra man power to drive your car out for you.”
Tori shrugged. “Okay.” She eyed Richie warily.
He shook his head at her and turned to Jon. “It won’t take long to load the trucks, so we could fly out on Friday. That’ll work.” He turned back to Tori. “Do you want to go to Philly first, or straight to L.A.?”
She hesitated. Her first thought was Philly, since that would take less time to get settled, but she remembered what he’d said the other night about wanting to have some time together without having to be someplace. In addition, she knew he missed his daughter – she did too. Plus, she wasn’t sure when he was supposed to start his alcohol education classes, but she figured the sooner the better. “Let’s go to L.A. We can relax for a few days until the truck arrives.”
“So what’s everyone planning for this afternoon?” Dorothea changed the subject.
“I thought we’d go see my mother.” Riche answered. “We’ll be back before you and Jon leave for dinner to torture, I mean, keep an eye on the kids.” He grinned evilly at Jake who burst into giggles.
Dorothea smiled. “John and Carol will be joining you for dinner. Possibly Matt and Desiree too. I’m not sure.”
Lunch finished, everyone started to leave the table. Jesse hung back glancing between his father and Richie. Lips twitching, Richie approached him. “Studio in ten minutes?” He murmured. Relieved, Jesse nodded.
Tori and Dorothea were lingering over their coffee. Jon had left to make phone calls. Richie rounded the table to stand next to Tori. “I’m going to go help Jesse for a bit.” He looked at Dorothea. “Will you try to explain things to her? Apparently, I’m not getting through.”
Dorothea snorted. “She’s a Bongiovi. You know how protective they are of the ones they love.”
He sighed. “I know.” He bent to kiss Tori. Leaning back he tapped the tip of her nose with his finger. “Together. Remember?”
Tori nodded and waited until Richie left the room before turning to Dorothea. She filled her in on what had happened after Dorothea had left the guest house. “Am I so wrong to want to protect his feelings? I want to support him, not hurt him.”
Dorothea smiled sympathetically. “I know. And you’re not wrong. But you’re dealing with another very protective personality. There’s still a bit of the caveman underneath the civilized veneer.” She shrugged. “He can’t help it. It’s the Italian coming out in him, which, I might point out, you should know all about.”
“Ha, ha.” Tori retorted.
Dorothea grinned. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. In fact it’s one of the things that I love best about Jon….when he’s not going overboard with it. I’m just saying you’re going to have to keep it in mind when you’re dealing with him. No matter how strong you are, he’s going to want to protect you. And no matter how much you want to protect him, he’s a grown man and won’t accept it if it’s at your expense.” Seeing Tori’s frown she continued. “It’s a matter of finding the balance. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. You haven’t been together that long. It took me a couple years to find it with Jon.”
Tori sighed. “That long huh?”
They spent the bulk of the afternoon with Joan and returned just in time for Jon and Dot to leave for their anniversary dinner.
“Okay. The clan should be here shortly. Just tell Sofia when you’re ready to eat.” Dorothea looked at Richie, then turned to Tori. “Remind him that it’s a school night. The kids already got a day off today against my better judgement.” She slanted a glance at her husband who grinned.
“It’s a special day.” He argued.
“Why because it’s our anniversary or because you’re home?”
He pulled her close and kissed her. “It’s a commemoration of the day when I got smart.”
She snorted. “You mean the day that you finally believed me that I was going to leave and managed to talk me into flying to Vegas.” She shook her head. “I’m still not sure how you talked me into that one. You’re lucky I’ve got sisters or my mother would never have forgiven you for that.”
“Yeah, I was always surprised at that, but I figured it was to avoid a bad reaction by the female fans to Jon being taken off the market. There’s no way I could just run off to Vegas and get married. Too many people would be hurt. Not to mention that when my time comes I want the whole world to know and share in my joy.” Tori resisted the urge to look at Richie.
Jon glanced at him, raised a brow and smirked. Richie grinned and nodded to show the message was received.
After dinner Tori, Carol and Desiree were sitting in the den while the men were off somewhere with the kids. Suddenly, they could hear squeals, and running feet.
“Aunt Tori, Aunt Tori! Save us!”
Jake came running in and ducked behind Tori’s chair, while Romeo crawled into her lap, threw his arms around her neck and held on tight.
“What the…Richie! What are you doing to the boys?”
“What makes you think that it’s me?” He spoke from the doorway.
“Because they ran to me to save them.”
He grinned and slipped into his best pirate voice. “Arg! That’s because they know I can’t resist the lure of the most beautiful siren of the seas! I had the monkey all locked up.” He motioned to Romeo. “But the pug nosed one got away from me and let him out.” He scowled at Jake.
Both boys burst into giggles. The women were hard pressed not to join them.
“Where’s Grandpa and Uncle Matt?” Carol asked.
“Uncle Matt got wounded in the battle and said a bad word. Grandpa’s making him walk the plank.” Jake explained.
Tori couldn’t help it. The visual was too much for her. She laughed. “You boys realize your dad’s the real pirate right?”
Romeo’s eyes grew round. “Really?”
She nodded. “Yep. They called him Captain Kidd.”
“You know he’s going to get you for that.” Carol murmured.
Tori smirked. “Oh he’ll try. But I’m not worried.”
Suddenly Romeo sat up straight. “I hungry.”
“Me too.” Jake piped up.
“Okay let’s go to the kitchen and see what’s there for a snack.” Tori suggested.
The boys took off running.
Tori shook her head. “Nice job Rich.” Her sarcasm was obvious.
“Getting them all wound up before bedtime.”
He grinned. “But we won’t be the ones having to deal with it.”
“You know as well as I do – better in fact, that Jon has a long memory. If they keep him up, there’s going to be payback for sure.”
“Don’t worry, it isn’t the first time Richie’s done something like this.” Carol assured her.
“Thanks that makes me feel sooo much better! So I can look forward to paybacks for things I know nothing about!”
Richie just grinned and shrugged.
After the rest of the clan left, they did manage to get the boys to bed before their parents came home – with the help of three bedtime stories and two songs sung as duets, and played by Richie on the guitar. After smoothing Jake’s blanket one more time they left his room and checked in on Jesse and Steph.
Jesse was on his computer. “Not too late eh?” Tori admonished him.
He nodded. “Yeah. I’ll keep one ear out for mom and dad’s car.
She laughed. “That’s not exactly what I meant…..but it’s a good idea. ‘Nite Jess.”
Steph was reading. She looked up at Tori’s knock. “I’ve just got four chapters left.”
A devout reader herself, Tori understood. She nodded. “Nite sweetie.”
Tori and Richie were vegging in front of the T.V. half an hour later when Jon and Dot walked in the door.
“Hey. Have a nice evening?” Tori asked with a yawn.
Dorothea nodded. “Very nice. Everything go okay here?”
“Fine. Jake and Romeo are asleep. Steph and Jess are in their rooms.”
Dorothea’s brows rose. “Any problem getting the boys to go to sleep?”
“Not really. Richie wore them out. That, along with a few stories and some music and they were out.”
Jon snorted. “They play real well together….similar maturity level.”
Richie blew him a raspberry and flipped him off. “You’re just jealous of my youthful exuberance.”
Tori stepped in before Jon could respond. “How about showing me some of that ‘youthful exuberance’?”
Richie’s whole face lit up. “Your wish is my command darlin’.” Standing he pulled her to her feet, bent and put her over his shoulder.
Jon rolled his eyes. Dorothea grinned and glanced at her husband. “He’s older than you hon. Are you going to let him show you up?”
Pride on the line, Jon reacted true to form. “No fucking way. Come here baby.” He swooped down and lifted her into his arms. “Nite.” He called as he headed for the stairs.
“Nite.” Tori replied as she tried to brace herself against Richie’s back as he started walking. Outside she tried to push off his shoulder. “Richie put me down.”
“No.” He smacked her behind just hard enough to sting. “You’re me booty.” The pirate was back.
“Mmmm, plunder me.” She purred.
His throaty chuckle had her shivering in anticipation. “Oh I intend to darlin’. I intend to.”
Entering the guest house he walked straight to the bedroom where he dumped her on the bed. She immediately scrambled up and huddled against the headboard.
“Please don’t hurt me. I’ll do whatever you want, just don’t hurt me.” She whimpered.
Richie’s brows rose in speculation. Tori had never denied him anything he asked, but this was the first time she had instigated the play. But he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If she wanted to play, he was game.
He frowned menacingly at her. “You are my hostage. You have to do whatever I say. If you do, then maybe I won’t have to hurt you. Do you understand?” She nodded. “Come here.”
She hesitated, then slowly moved towards the edge of the bed.
He snapped his fingers. “NOW!”
She jumped and quickly slid off the bed to stand in front of him. He motioned her to turn and when she did his hand descended to land a stinging slap on her behind.
“That’s for moving too slowly. Take off your clothes.”
She quickly grasped the hem of her t-shirt and pulled it over her head.
She obliged, unfastening her jeans and rolling them slowly down her legs. Kicking them aside she removed her socks and standing before him in only panties and bra, hesitated. His growl warned her to keep going. Reaching behind her back she released the catch on her bra and holding it to her, slipped one arm at a time out of the straps, waiting until the last minute to finally, reluctantly, let the scrap of lace fall away from her body. With trembling fingers she slid her panties down and stepped out of them. Head bowed she stood still and waited for him to speak.
This time his hand connected with bare skin. “That was for going too quickly.” He motioned her to turn around.
She could feel his eyes on her, heating her skin everywhere they touched. Anticipation had her nerves on edge.
“Undress me.” He commanded.
Turning to face him once more, she did as she was bid, starting with his t-shirt, having to raise up on her tip toes to pull it over his head. Avoiding looking at his chest, she turned her attention to the waistband of his jeans. Slipping the button through the hole she reached for the tab of his zipper. Her hand was shaking so badly, it slipped and her hand slid down the hard length she could feel the heat of even through the denim. Sucking in a nervous breath she tried again. This time she managed to get the zipper undone and pushed the jeans off of his hips and down his legs. His briefs soon followed. She couldn’t suppress her gasp as his already hard shaft became visible.
When she was bent over removing his socks she felt his hand stroke down her back and over her buttocks. She braced herself to feel the sting of another slap, but instead felt his hand gently caress one firm globe before following the crease to find her most sensitive flesh. One finger traced her cleft, then suddenly speared into her. She cried out at the suddenness of his penetration. The situation already had her juices flowing, so there was no pain, just surprise.
Releasing her, he allowed her to straighten. Raking his gaze over her again, he stepped up to the bed and laid down in the middle. “Pleasure me. I want to feel your hands….and your mouth.”
Climbing up beside him, she began with her hands, running them over his chest, lingering over the nailheads of his nipples. Sliding one hand down she grasped his shaft, stroking it slowly. At the same time she bent to explore his chest with her mouth, licking and teasing his nipples with her teeth. His hand nudged her head, wordlessly telling her what he wanted. Obeying, she moved down to trace his length with her tongue. Cupping his sac with one hand, she licked and sucked her way from base to tip several times before finally succumbing to his lure and taking him into her mouth. She settled into a slow rhythm, taking him as deep as she could, then backing off to suckle on the tip.
“Enough! Ride me!” His voice was a raspy growl.
She straddled him, and was about to impale herself when he stopped her.
“Wait. Show me that you’re ready for me.” He ignored the embarrassed, pleading look she gave him. “Touch yourself and show me how wet you are. How much you want to feel me inside you.”
Face flaming, she reached between her legs, stroked one finger along the throbbing flesh and held it out to him so that he could see her juices dripping off of it.
He nodded. “Put me inside you.”
Taking him in one hand she guided him to her entrance and slowly slid down. Fully seated, she held still for a moment catching her breath and trying to control her shivers.
“Move.” He bucked his hips so that there could be no doubt what he meant.
She began to ride him…slowly, glancing at his face periodically to see if she was pleasing him.
“Touch your breasts.” Her eyes flew to his, a question in the sapphire depths. “Cup them, and pull on your nipples with your fingers, then squeeze and knead them.”
Blowing out a breath, she did as instructed, tentatively at first, until the heat in his eyes and the feelings her hands were generating, overcame her shyness at touching herself like this in front of him. It wasn’t long until she could feel her climax approaching. He could feel it too.
“Stop. Get off.” She could hardly make out the words.
She stared down at him in disbelief. “But…”
“NOW! Lie down on your back.” He moved over to give her room. “Spread your legs.” She did. “Wider. Show me where you want me.” When she obeyed he settled in between, but held himself over her. “Open yourself for me.” When she hesitated he nudged her with the tip of his shaft, stroking her clit, making her shudder. “Do it!”
Groaning in defeat she reached down to hold back the soft folds. He inserted just the very tip, then stopped. Tori couldn’t help herself. Her hips undulated against him, trying to lure him in.
“Beg me.” He growled.
“Please! I want you inside me.” Her head started thrashing back and forth.
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“Oh God! Fuck me! Please fuck me!”
He grinned. She had given up all control. She rarely used that kind of language in bed. Flexing his hips he drove deep inside her. She screamed. Lowering himself down to lie completely on her, he slid his hands under her hips, tilted her towards him and slid even deeper. She gasped and hugged him to her.
“Wrap your legs around my waist.” As soon as she complied he began moving, thrusting hard and deep, first slowly, then faster.
“Yes, yes, right there! Ummm, yes…Oh GOD! YESSSSS!” Her body went rigid as she shattered.
Feeling her walls clamp down tightly around him, he let go and spilled himself deep inside her, slowing his thrusts until every drop had been pumped out of his body into hers. Rolling off her he pulled her into his arms.
“What…brought…that….on?” He panted.
She chuckled breathlessly. “The whole…pirate thing…got me….to thinking…..I always….wanted…..to try it.”
“Remind me to ask….about any other….fantasies….you’ve got….when I’ve…..recovered…..from this one.”
The next day it was back to the tour and the last couple shows of this leg in Atlanta. Saying goodbye to Dorothea and the kids – Steph and Jesse had come home for lunch to say goodbye – Jon , Richie and Tori climbed into the car that was taking them to the airport. As they cleared the gates, Jon turned to his companions.
“What exactly happened last night?” Annoyance was plain in his voice.
“What do you mean?” Tori asked.
“I mean, why did my four year old ask me this morning how many ships I’ve sank and did I ever have a pet parrott?”
Tori burst out laughing. “It’s Richie’s fault.”
“Me? What did I do?”
“You were playing pirates with them, and sent them running to me to save them.”
“But I wasn’t the one told them their dad was a pirate named Captain Kidd.”
Jon stared at her for a long moment and shook his head. “I was really hoping that you would rub off on him, not the other way around.”
“Aaah, the power that is Sambora.” Richie sighed.
Jon snorted. “But Bongiovi’s are built to withstand it.”
“Unless they choose not to.” Tori pointed out. She and Richie exchanged a soft look and a smile.
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Jon groaned, but his eyes twinkled at their obvious happiness.
The Atlanta shows went well, the crowds were great, and Tori was surprised that the small group of fans waiting outside at the end of leg party at the Hard Rock merely waved instead of swarming. The guys waved back. Inside they were immediately surrounded and pulled in different directions.
“Tori, can I speak to you for a minute?” Paul asked.
“Sure Paul.” They headed for a booth and sat down.
“Your work permit for the U.S. came through. I’ll send it in the packet with the latest batch of Richie’s mail. Where do you want it sent to?”
Paul nodded. “I assume you have your passport all up to date?” She nodded. “Good. The rest of your European travel documents will be waiting for you on the plane.” He smirked. “Enjoy the break.”
Tori watched him walk away, wondering at the undertone she sensed in his last comment. With a mental shrug she accepted the menu a waitress handed her. After deciding what she wanted she glanced around in search of Richie and the rest of the guys. She found him a few feet away in conversation with one of the road crew, David was on the other side of the room talking to Obie, Hugh was halfway between laughing with some people she didn’t know, but she couldn’t see Jon or Tico. Standing, she still couldn’t see them in the crowd. She grabbed a chair and stood on it, hoping the extra height would help. It did. Both were in the middle of the crowd. She attempted to get their attention. Richie was easy. She just kept staring at him until he looked in her direction. She motioned that she wanted to eat and he nodded his agreement. The others were harder. No matter what she did she couldn’t get their attention. Hollering over the noise of the crowd was useless. Finally, she put her fingers in her mouth and emitted an ear piercing whistle. All conversation stopped as everyone in the room turned to look at her. She pointed to the five guys. “I’m ordering. Are you guys ordering for yourselves, or..?”
“You order.” Came back in unision from five throats.
“Don’t know why I even bothered asking.” She muttered to herself as she climbed down from the chair, resumed her seat in the booth and picked up the menu again as the conversations around her carried on. “Well, if they can’t be bothered to do it themselves, they’re just going to have to eat what I give them.” Flagging down a waitress she placed the orders and sat back to wait.
A few minutes later, Richie appeared and handed her a drink, dropping a kiss on her lips as he sat down. “Well I have to say that was the most unique way of getting our attention I’ve ever seen – or rather heard.”
She shrugged. “I’m hungry. I didn’t want to waste time fighting my way through the crowd to check with each of them, and I knew that if I went ahead and just ordered for us, I’d get pouts and whines from the rest of them.”
Richie chuckled, but didn’t disagree.
When the food arrived it was as if some signal had been sent to all corners of the room. Within seconds, the guys arrived, sat down and grabbed plates. Tori just shook her head in amazement. “Do you guys have homing signals or something? Is there some little dinner bell that goes off in your brain when the plates hit the table?” Shrugs and grins were the only answers she got.
“So when are you moving nina? Tico asked as he paused between mouthfuls.
“We’re flying to Canada tomorrow and the trucks arrive Thursday. By Friday I will be an official resident of the U.S.A.”
“Planning on spending the break in sunny California then?” Hugh asked.
“Yep. I hope to be able to sit by the pool and just relax.”
Richie snorted. “Yeah. Right. Is that before or after you unpack everything and at least make a dent in the redecorating you want to do?”
She wrinkled her nose at him. “I’ll probably unpack – I’ll give you that one, but I don’t plan on starting any redecorating until after the tour.”
“Uh huh. Sure.” Richie replied skeptically. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”
“Seriously. I’m not going to touch the house yet…..I may have a go at the landscaping though.” She admitted. “It can’t really wait until summer.”
“It’s California. It’s always summer.” David pointed out.
“See, I knew it! You’re just like him.” Richie nodded towards Jon. “You can’t sit still and relax for more than an hour or two.” The siblings looked at each and shrugged.
“Speaking of your time off, there’s something I’d like you to do, if you would.” Jon spoke up.
“What?” Tori asked warily.
“Work on Last Man Standing. And continue with Prayer on the guitar.”
Her brows rose in surprise. “How did you know I was….” She trailed off and shot a glance at Richie who just smiled. During her visit at Easter – before all the drama – he had suggested that she give Prayer a try. He found her the sheet music to start, but she could now play without it. She turned back to Jon. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’s going on in that brain of yours big brother?”
“I’m thinking about changing the set list for the European leg and opening with Last Man.”
She frowned. “Uh...Hello…it’s the Lost Highway Tour…you’ve got to start with it.”
“Oh, we will. What I see is you, on my side platform under the spotlight, the stage in darkness. The guys can get out there without everyone seeing them to play for you – or we can use a recording. It would be like you’re introducing us. Then the stage lights would come up and I’d walk out and go right into Highway.”
“And Prayer?” She knew there was more to his plan.
“I’m toying with the idea of the intro being either the three of us, or maybe just you and Richie playing acoustics, then he can plug in after the first verse.” He turned to Richie. “Can she be ready?”
Richie nodded. “She’s pretty much got it down now. It just needs some polishing.”
“WHOA boys! Stop right there!” She stared at Jon, stunned. “Are trying to tell me that you want me stage ready to play Prayer ON THE GUITAR in, what, twenty-four days?”
“Twenty-three. We fly out on the twenty-eighth.” Jon replied calmly.
Tori was anything but calm. She turned on Richie. “Is this why you suggested I learn it? Have you been in on his hair-brained scheme?”
“It’s not hair-brained. And for the record, it was after I told him you were learning it that he came up with the idea.” Riche assured her.
She closed her eyes and groaned. “Honey, don’t let your emotional involvement with me colour your opinion. I am nowhere near ready to play on stage.”
Richie rolled his eyes. “How many times do I have to tell you.....you’re good! Do you honestly think that I would let you go out there and make a fool of yourself just because I’m in love with you?”
“I guess not.” She conceded, but she wasn’t really convinced.
“Don’t you trust my judgement of musical ability?”
“Not fair Rich!” She glared at him. “You know I do. I’m just afraid that you’re letting your feelings for me cloud your judgement.”
“When it comes to music, not a chance.” Jon assured her.
David had been unusually quiet during the whole discussion, which made Tori think that she still hadn’t heard the complete plan. “Anything else that you’re ‘toying’ with that I should be aware of?”
Jon’s lips quirked. “Well, now that you mention it, Shirley’s been coming up with some possible songs you can play with him on.”
She turned to David. “You will let me know before you haul me up to the keyboards, right?” She asked dryly.
“If you’re lucky.” He retorted.
“You don’t seem so uptight about that.” Hugh observed. “How come?”
“I’ve been playing Jovi songs on the piano for years. I know I can do that. I’m very comfortable with any keyboard. It’s the strings that make me nervous.I’ve only been playing a few months. I’m still just learning. And playing with you guys is only going to show how much of an amateur I am.”
Richie wrapped his hands around her throat and pretended to strangle her. “What’s it going to take before you believe me?”
She laughed. “Give me a year and I might feel differently.
“In time for the next album then.” Jon commented.
“See? I told you.” Richie smiled smugly.
Tori shook her head. “You’re both nuts.” She sighed. “Okay. I have no problem doing Last Man – but we’re going to have to take it up half an octave for me.” Jon nodded. “As for Prayer,…..I’ll work on it during the break, but I want play it for you….and maybe Paul, before I agree to play it on stage. Deal?”
“Why Paul?” Jon asked.
“I want somebody a little more objective to give an opinion. There is no way I’m going to take the chance of embarrassing myself and you, just because you want to include me.”
“Okay, I can go along with that. Deal.” Jon held out his hand and Tori shook it.
“Jeez, everything with you Bongiovis is like you’re negotiating fucking world peace!” David complained.
“Fuck off Shirley.” The siblings replied in unison.