Monday, November 24, 2008

Chapter 151

Vicki, their long time flight attendant greeted them at the door as they boarded the plane. They had made it through the airport smoothly, with only a few curious looks – and Tori was sure it had nothing to do with who they were! They had settled in their seats and Vicki was doing a last minute cabin check before takeoff when she couldn’t hold back any longer.

“David, you’re not going to be sick on me are you?”

“No, why?”

“Well, you’re looking a little….I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to put this…”

Everyone except David burst into laughter. He just sank deeper into his seat and scowled.

“Why don’t you take off your hat and let her see the whole effect?” Tori choked out.

When he pulled down the brim of the cap, Vicki reached out and flipped it off and gasped, before dissolving into laughter.

David glared at her, then at Tori. “Don’t think I can’t smell your fine hand in this Bela.”

She shook her head. “Nope. As much as I wish I could take credit for it, this was Dorothea’s doing.”

“But I’ll bet that you helped her come up with the idea. She’s not devious enough.”

“But I am?”

He nodded. “Last summer I would have said no, but I know you better now……and look at who you live with!”

“Hey! Why are you slamming me? I didn’t do anything!” Richie protested. “Although I will say that it was definitely Sambora worthy.” He winked at Tori.

“Alejandra wants to compare notes with you and Dorothea next month.” Tico informed Tori.

“Uh oh Shirley. Looks like the women are joining ranks against you.” Hugh chuckled.

David snorted. “They don’t scare me.”

“I don’t know man. They certainly got you good this time.” Jon pointed out.

“That’s what he gets for messing with the kids.” Tori explained. “And I’m warning you now…..if you try anything with Ava, green skin will be the least of your worries.”

Richie smiled at the fierce protectiveness in her tone and exchanged a glance with Jon.

David sighed and glowered at Jon. “You’re positive that you don’t have any more sisters?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I just want to be sure there isn’t going to be another one showing up to spoil my fun.”

“I’m not trying to spoil your fun Shirley, I’m just warning you what the consequences will be if you insist on playing your games with those too young to defend themselves.” She grinned. “But don’t feel bad. The adults are still fair game.”

“Even you?”

“If you really want to go there.”


Once they’d reached cruising altitude, they settled more comfortably and Vicki brought them drinks and snacks. After awhile, Tori moved to sit at the end of a couch. A few minutes later, Richie dropped a pillow in her lap, stretched out on the couch and laid his head on it, his arm curled around her legs underneath it. She smiled and rubbed his back. Very shortly, he was asleep.

“You spoil him.” Jon commented as he took a seat nearby.

She shrugged. “He spoils me too. Besides, he was up early this morning.” She grinned at David as the rest joined them. He wrinkled his nose at her.

The conversation turned to what everyone had done during the break. When it was Tori’s turn she told them about Richie starting his classes, the trips to the beach and Disneyland, then with a grin related the story of their day at the Zoo. Their laughter threatened to wake Richie, but he was so used to sleeping anywhere, the familiar sound of their voices did no more than cause him to shift position. When Tori’s hand resumed it’s stroking he quickly settled back into sleep.

“Oh, that’s priceless!” Jon was wiping tears from his eyes. “I wished I’d been there to see that!”

Tori glanced at David. She could almost hear the wheels turning. “You’re welcome.”

He grinned.

A couple hours later, the smell of dinner wafting out from the galley awakened Richie and a couple others who were dozing. They moved to the tables to eat.

“So Shirley, what songs are you considering for us to play together?” Tori asked.

“I haven’t decided completely yet, but Runaway and Bad Medicine for sure. Then there’s Lay Your Hands On Me, Keep The Faith, maybe something from Bounce.” He shrugged.

“We’ll have to sit down and go over the set lists.” Jon commented. “What about you and Rich singing a few duets? Got any ideas for that besides Strangers?”

Tori thought for a moment. “What about making You Had Me From Hello into a duet?”

Jon considered. “I’ve never thought about that before, but it might work. We can play around with it and see what we get.”

With dessert came a platter of fruit. David saw his opportunity. He picked up a banana and offered it to Richie. “Banana, Chuck?”

Richie’s brows rose. “Chuck?”

Tori was the first to get it and burst out laughing. Richie looked at her. “Help me out here.”

“I’m assuming he means Chuck as in Charlton Heston.” She looked at David for confirmation. He nodded. Hugh got it and chuckled. The others just looked at each other and shook their heads. “Planet of the Apes.” She prodded. “The female ape was in love with him.”

Richie frowned at her while the rest erupted into laughter. “You told them!”

She nodded. “Of course I did. I told you it was too good a story to keep to myself.”

“You know, when we named you King of Swing, that wasn’t the type of swinging we were referring to.” David pointed out.

Richie peeled back the banana, took a big bite and shrugged. “What can I say? The Sambora charm even transcends species.”

Chapter 152

Tori discovered very quickly that a stadium tour was different than an arena tour. The stages were bigger and instead of dressing rooms, the guys used tent like structures set up behind the stage. The crew managed to enlarge Richie’s to make room for her. Interviews were done at the hotel – generally in the sitting room of Jon’s suite, and after the shows, the guys would leave the stage and immediately climb into the vans to head back to the hotel to shower before heading to the after party.

Following Richie into his change area the night of the first show, she almost ran into him when he stopped dead.

“What’s the matter?”

He sighed. “Looks like Shirley’s been here first…or maybe he suckered a crew member into being his accomplice.”

Stepping around him she could finally see what had caused the comment…and burst out laughing. In place of the usual picture of Dean Martin hanging over the dressing table, was one of a female ape dressed in, well, a dress, a pink bow on the top of her head. Richie slanted a disgusted look at her. “You’ve got to admit honey, he’s good.”

He snorted. “I know, but don’t tell him I said that.” He grimaced. “This is going to be a long five weeks.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I get the feeling that he’s not real sure he wants to take you on yet, so he’s going to take it out on me instead.”

She grinned. “I guess we’ll need to be on our toes.”

“We need you to stop giving him ammunition!”

“Oh come on, there was no way I could keep that story to myself, and I figured I might as well tell them all and get it over with. If I just told Jon, he would have told the rest anyway.”

“Well, you can be sure I’m going to tell him about Tigger, so be prepared.”

“You mean you haven’t already?”

“No, I was trying to be loyal.”

She snorted. “You mean you haven’t had the opportunity yet.”

His lips twisted wryly. “No I haven’t. You conviently told them about our trips while I was asleep.”

“That’s why they say, ‘you snooze, you lose’.”


“Just self defence. Better you than me babe.”

When the opening act came off the stage, Tori joined Jon to warm up her voice. He listened to her intently and frowned.

“What’s the matter?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re voice is shaking.”

She snorted. “It’s called nerves. Don’t you remember what that’s like?”

“I never noticed it before. Why are you nervous now? You’ve been on stage a dozen times or more now.”

“Yeah, but I’ve never opened the show before. And I’ll be by myself, not surrounded by the rest of you.”

He hugged her. “You’ll be fine. Just remember to signal Obie or a tech immediately if your monitor isn’t working.” His lips twisted. “I know what it’s like to be hanging out there, with no sound coming through.”

She smiled. “I saw an interview with you about that. If it happens, I’ll just pull them out. At least I don’t have to try and play in time with the rest of them. As long as I can hear them, I should be okay.” She frowned. “How much time delay is there when the stadium’s full?”

“Just a split second. You should be able to compensate.”

“Tori, you ready?” Obie stuck his head in.

She blew out a breath and nodded. She walked out to meet the security guards who would walk her to the platform and back. A hand on her back had her twisting around.

“Break a leg angel.” Richie leaned down to kiss her briefly.

“See you in a few Bela. Go get ‘em.” David called.

“If you run into trouble starting, just watch my high hat.” Tico advised.

She smiled warmly at the group. “Thanks guys. I guess it’s showtime.”

The walk to the platform seemed to take forever. At least having to concentrate on her steps in the dark helped calm her nerves a bit. When the spotlight hit her, the noise of the crowd was deafening and she felt a moment’s panic that she wouldn’t be able to hear anything else. She searched the stage frantically trying to see the high hat and if the guys were even there yet, but the spotlight prevented her from seeing anything, but a dim outline of the drum kit and keyboards. Suddenly, the opening riffs filled her ears and she took a deep breath. She looked down at the expectant faces around her, tightened her hand around her mic and thought back to the many times she had sung this song in her livingroom, imagining herself doing exactly this….in essence introducing the band. She let a smile wreath her face as she lifted the mic.

Come see a living, breathing spectacle, only seen right here
It’s your last chance in this lifetime, the line forms at the rear.
You won’t believe your eyes, your eyes will not believe your ears
Get your money out, get ready, step right up, yeah you, come here.

She pointed to the crowd in general and crooked her finger.

You ain’t seen nothing like him, he’s the last one of the breed
You better hold on to your honey, honeys, don’t forget to breathe.

The girls around her nodded and cheered.

Enter at your own risk mister
It might change the way you think
There’s no dancers, there’s no diamonds
No this boy don’t lip sync

Here’s the last man standing
Step right up, here’s the real thing
The last chance of a lifetime
Come and see, hear, feel….the real thing

She lifted her left hand and looked at it.

See those real live calloused fingers wrapped around those guitar strings
Kiss the lips where hurt has lingered
It breaks your heart to hear them sing
Their songs are more than music, they’re pictures from the soul
So keep your pseudo-punk, hip-hop, pop-rock junk
And your digital downloads

Here’s the last man standing
Step right up, here’s the real thing
The last chance of a lifetime
Come and see, hear, feel…the real thing

Take your seats now folks it’s show time
Hey Patrick, hit the lights

She looked around the stadium

There’s something in the air, there’s magic in the night
Here’s the band, they really play
I’ll count the first one in
I don’t know where it’s going

She waved a hand around the crowd

We all know where it’s been

Here’s the last man standing
Step right up, here’s the real thing
The last chance of a lifetime
Come and see, hear, feel…..LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BON JOVI!

The lights hit the stage revealing everyone except Jon. The crowd erupted. The band switched smoothly into Lost Highway and Jon came bounding out. He looked over to the platform and saluted her. She waved back. Her spotlight went out and security helped her down and back around behind the stage.

“Nice job.” Steve told her.


Paul was waiting for her outside the dressing area. “That was really good Tori.”


“By the way, I’m warning you now, so that you don’t yell at me later, your paycheck will be increased to reflect your increased time on stage.”

She sighed. “I wouldn’t yell at you Paul. I know who makes those decisions. And I also know that there’s no point yelling at him either. I guess I’ll just have to think of myself as an employee.” She frowned.


“Well, then I’d have to think of Jon as my boss…and I don’t like that idea either. Hmmm….I may have to have a talk with Matt and see how he deals with that.”

Paul chuckled. “Somehow I don’t think you’ll have a problem keeping him from pulling rank on you too often.”

Chapter 153

The next day was an off day for them and they spent it in Munich. While the guys were busy doing interviews and promo spots for the local radio stations, Tori decided to go shopping.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Richie asked.

“Somewhat. I’ve been here before…although the memory’s a little blurry.”

“You’ve been to Munich before?” Tico asked.

“Yeah, a friend and I did a brief European tour about twelve years ago.”

“Only twelve years? What’s the matter? Your memory going already Bela?” David smirked.

“No, smartass. We were here for Oktoberfest. That’s why it’s a bit of a blur. I do remember the Glockenspiel though, and that there were a lot of shops in that square, so that’s where I’m heading.”

“I’ve heard about Oktoberfest. No wonder your memory’s a little fuzzy. I’m surprised you remember being here at all.” Hugh was impressed.

“Take Mike with you.” Jon spoke up.

“You don’t need him here?” She was surprised that he’d want the head of his security off with her instead of overseeing everything here.

He shook his head. “He’s got a phone if we need him. I’d rather he be with you.”

She shrugged. “Whatever. See you guys later. I’ll be back in time for dinner.”

“Please make sure you are. Do you have your phone?” Richie frowned, clearly not real comfortable with her going off on her own – regardless of Mike accompanying her.

“Yes dear. And it’s fully charged.” She stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Relax. I’ll be fine.” He just grunted.

Her knowledge of German was limited to “yes” ,“no”, “please”, “thank you”, and “sausage”, but she figured if she told the cab driver “Glockenspiel” he’d get it – and he did.

She spent several hours roaming the stores along the square. She picked up an adorable teddy bear in lederhosen for Ava in a souvenir shop, but mostly just browsed. She was walking by a toy store, when something in the window caught her eye. She grinned and headed inside. When Mike saw what she was after he shook his head.

“You know you’re asking for it.”

“Did you see what he put in Richie’s change room?” He nodded. “This is payback. If Richie were here he’d buy it himself. Since he’s busy, I’ll get it for him.”

Hearing the bells of the Glockenspiel ringing, they headed outside to watch the figures move around in the tower. Mike nudged her and pointed at his watch – the music was fairly loud. She nodded. They walked to the street and flagged down a cab.

Back at the hotel, she took her purchases to their room before heading down to Jon’s to see if they were finished. She knocked quietly. Tico opened the door and waved her in. “Last one.” He murmured. She smiled at the group and the reporter that was interviewing them. Richie winked at her. Jon nodded.

While the reporter was packing up, Richie turned to her. “Didn’t you buy anything?”

She nodded. “Yeah. I put it in the room.”

“You’ve been out exploring our fair city, Miss Adams?” The reporter asked.

“Yes. I did a little shopping. It’s a beautiful city.”

He beamed. “Thank you. I’m glad you like it.”

After the reporter left the discussion turned to where they were going to eat and what they were going to do that evening. Richie had been idly scanning a bunch of pamphlets that the hotel had left lying on the desk.

“Hey, there’s a bar not far from here with live music.”

Jon shook his head. “Can you smell them or something?”

The group chuckled. Richie looked bewildered. “What?”

“Let’s go to that restaurant we went to last time. The one with the really good schnitzel and those dumpling things.” Jon suggested. “Then we’ll check out the bar.” He added before Richie could say anything.

Agreeing to meet in the lobby in an hour, they all headed back to their rooms. When he saw the bags, Richie gestured towards them. “What’d you buy?”

“I got a cute teddy bear in German dress for Ava.” She showed it to him.

“She’ll love it.”

Reaching for the next bag, Tori grinned and handed it to him. “And I got you this for payback.”

Looking inside he grinned. He reached in and pulled the stuffed Kermit out. Noticing the button on the frog’s hand, he pressed it, laughing at the song that played.

It's not that easy bein' green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold- or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy bein' green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water- or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be.*

He wiped the tears from his eyes. “That’s perfect.” He gave her a warning look. “You know you’re going to become public enemy number one.”

She shook her head. “This is from you, not me.”

He snorted. “Just like turning him green was Dorothea’s idea?” She could deny it all she wanted, but he knew that while Dorothea may have done the actual deed, Tori had definitely had a hand in planning it.

“I just suggested that she needed something that would turn his skin colour. Jesse came in then and she remembered the trick soap he’d used at Halloween. It was Jesse who told us about the shampoo.” She sighed. “It’s too bad it didn’t last a little longer, but I suppose Jon would have been a little miffed if he was still green come showtime.”

“That’s an understatement. He would have ripped you a new one, and been none too pleased with his wife either.”

Her brows rose. “He would have ripped up at me, but only been ‘none too pleased’ with Dorothea?”

His lips quirked. “She can kick his ass. He doesn’t pull the ‘I’m in charge’ attitude with her.”

“Smart man.”

He reached out to grab her hand and pulled her onto his lap. “Naw, he’s just afraid of pain. I’m the smart one.”


“Mmm. I’ve found a beautiful, loving, caring woman….who’s smaller than I am.” He chuckled, and ducked the fist that came swinging at him.

(* It Ain't Easy Being Green by Kermit the Frog)

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