He pulled her into his arms. “A year ago I was fighting to pull myself out of a very dark place. And frankly, I wasn’t sure I was going to succeed. When Jon called about the donor for Steph, I jumped at the chance to find a distraction.” His lips twisted as he gazed down at her. “Hello distraction. From the first time I looked into those big blue eyes of yours, even still a little glazed and disoriented from the anaesthetic, I felt…a connection. The more I got to know you, the stronger that connection became, until it reached the point where I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it. And the way you bonded with Ava…. you seemed to immediately sense her loneliness, her biggest needs and fears, and you provided whatever she needed to make her a happy little girl once again. Not because she was my daughter, but because you can’t stand to see someone you love in pain if you can help. That’s just the type of person you are. I knew I’d found someone special.”
He hesitated, frowning slightly. “Even when my demons came back to haunt me, when no one would have blamed you for cutting and running, you stood by me, telling me not want I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear, and you promised to help. I will never be able to tell you how much that means to me. I can only hope that I can show you, even if it takes me the next thirty years.”
He blew out a breath, released her and dropped to one knee, taking ahold of her left hand. He could feel trembling, but honestly didn’t know if it was her or him. He pulled a small box out of his pocket and flipped up the lid. She gasped. The radiant cut fancy blue diamond was two carats at least, with two smaller round colourless diamonds on either side and set in a brushed platinum band. It was gorgeous and suited her perfectly.
“I can’t promise you that it will be all moonlight and roses…” He glanced around. “…or romance in the City of Lights, even though that’s what you deserve. I’d like to say that I’ll remember to give that to you everyday, but I won’t lie to you. We’re both realistic enough and have been through enough to know that every relationship has it’s ups and downs and sometimes shitty things happen. But I can promise you that I will try my best to make you happy. You have brought me back into the light and shown me that there is still unselfish, unconditional love in this world. You have given me hope. For the first time in almost two years, I’m actually looking forward to the future. And I have you to thank for that. You have healed my heart and taught me to love again. I love you. Totally. Completely.”
He swallowed nervously. She hadn’t tried to speak or even reacted to his speech. “Victoria Adams, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife, my partner, my life’s companion?” He held his breath while he waited for her answer.
Her heart was pounding, her lungs felt deprived of oxygen and her stomach felt like she’d been riding rollercoasters for hours. She had stood motionless and speechless throughout his speech as her mind tried to process what was happening and what he was saying. Coherent speech had been beyond her, but now, here he was, on bended knee before her, waiting, his dark eyes begging for her answer.
She licked her lips, tasting the tears that were running freely down her cheeks. She reached out with her free hand to caress his cheek. She nodded.
“Yes.” It was barely above a whisper. She cleared her throat. “Yes Richard Sambora, I will. And the honour is mine. I don’t need moonlight and roses. I just need you. Demons and all. We’ll fight them together. You’re not the only one with a new found anticipation for the future. Our future. I love you too.”
He slid the ring onto her finger, kissed it, rose and gathered her close. “Thank you.” He murmured against her lips and pulled her even closer.
Her arms slid around his neck, the fingers of one hand buried in his hair as her mouth opened beneath his. As their breaths and tongues entwined, they suddenly became aware of a smattering of applause. Looking around they saw a few people smiling at them, having seen Richie on his knee as they were strolling by and realizing what was going on. It was obvious what her answer was. A few women wiped at tears and the married men gave him the thumbs up while the single men glared at him as their girlfriends sighed.
“Let’s get out of here.” She suggested, her eyes heated and sparkling.
“Yes, milady.” He grinned, grabbed her hand and headed for the hotel.
Entering the lobby he shot a glance at the desk clerk who’s slight nod and smile assured him that everything was prepared as he had requested.
“Oh!” Tori breathed as she walked into their room. The bed had been turned down invitingly, and vases of roses and lilies were set on various surfaces around the room as were several candles which Richie rushed to light. On the table a bottle of sparkling grapejuice sat chilling in a bucket of ice, two champagne flutes sitting along side.
Richie opened the bottle, poured them both a glass, then handed her one. “To us.” He toasted her.
“To our future.” She responded, clinking her glass with his.
They both drank deeply. Setting aside their empty glasses, he tugged her gently into his arms. “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world tonight.”
“You certainly returned the favour. I’ve never been so happy.”
He bent his head to sip from her lips. For a long time he simply kissed her. Quick, brushing pecks and long, drugging, kisses that stole the strength from her legs. When he felt her sag against him, he set her back from him and slowly undressed her, ignoring the fires burning his skin at her touch as she returned the favour.
When he had her naked, he lifted her and laid her gently on the bed and joined her. Gentle hands stroked her body reverently, enjoying the feel of her silky skin. “You’re so beautiful.”
She sighed and turned onto her side so that she could reach him. She started at his collarbone, spreading her hands wide then stroking his chest down to his waist. Returning to his pecs, she played with the patches of hair, then molded her hands over the hard muscles and kneaded.
He had been smoothing his hands down her back letting her have her way with him. Now he brought his hands around to mimic her motions. As she cupped and kneaded his pecs, he cupped and kneaded her breasts, smiling when her back arched towards him in reaction.
Realizing what he was doing, she decided to play along. Finding his hard male nipples, she circled them with a fingertip several times, raked a nail over them lightly, then plucked them.
He groaned softly and followed suit, pinching and tugging on her stiffened peaks until she cried out and shivered. He backed off a bit, caressing her globes, waiting to see what she did next, letting her guide their play – for now.
She licked dry lips and bit her lower lip, struggling to focus on him instead of the sensations bombarding her in the wake of his touch. She let her hands slide lower, tracing his ribs, caressing his abs, gliding over his hip to settle on his ass. She closed her eyes as she felt his calloused fingertips follow the same path. When he stopped she opened her eyes to gaze into his. The warmth, and approval, and desire and….love… she saw there had the breath catching in her throat. He smiled gently at her and crooked a brow. She smirked in response and sent her hand skating back over his hip. He stiffened in anticipation. She looked down to watch as she ran her fingers over his hard length, tracing the big vein on the underside, and circling the swollen head before wrapping her fingers around him and squeezing.
He moaned and shuddered. “Jesus babe.”
“What’s the matter? Too hard?”
He shook his head. “Magic fingers.” The heat and promise in the glazed chocolate depths of his eyes when they met hers should have warned her what was coming. “My turn.”
He pulled her hand up to his chest, and reached down to urge her knee up to rest on his hip, opening her to his touch. He kept his eyes locked with hers as his fingertips traced her swollen folds. Her hips tilted towards him silently asking for more. The corner of his mouth lifted as he obliged. One finger stroked the length of her cleft repeatedly, grazing the nub of flesh at the top.
“Mmmm, Richie….more!” She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth again and she shuddered hard.
He leaned over to lick at the marks left by her teeth as the exploring finger penetrated her. A second finger joined it and he began to stroke in and out, caressing her humid flesh. He eased back enough to see her face and carefully added a third finger. He watched the play of emotions over her face and in her eyes as he teased her.
Her breath was coming in pants, her hips rocked against his invading fingers, trying to drive him deeper. “Please!”
He brought his thumb into play, rubbing her clit in time with their movements. He could feel her tightening around him. He sped up the pace of his fingers, drawing more moans from her.
“Now Richie….please…NOW!” Her fingers curled into his chest, her hips thrusting uncontrollably.
“That’s it baby. Let go. Come for me.” He thrust his fingers harder and faster inside her watching her as she did as he asked and let the pleasure take her.
As her spasms faded he pushed her onto her back. He pressed a soft kiss to her lips, slid his mouth across her cheek to her ear and nuzzled his favorite spot underneath that never failed to get a response. This time was no different. She shivered as a new arousal started to build over the remants of the first one.
“Next course.” He growled against her skin.
She groaned, but lay back to see what he had in mind. He dotted kisses over her upper chest and the pillowy softness of her breasts. When he reached the peaks, he licked and blew on them until they stiffened for him. Taking first one then the other into his mouth he suckled them, first gently, then harder. Her fingers threaded through his hair held him close.
Craving more, he released her breasts and continued his path down her body, nibbling and kissing as he went. He nudged her thighs wide, and settled in between. He took a moment to gaze upon her before bending to touch his lips to her intimate flesh.
Opening her with his fingers he settled in to feast, his tongue tracing her pulsing flesh, flicking her clit, then diving inside her. He left no part of her untouched, unexplored. “Sweet, so sweet. I love your taste.”
Tori shuddered and cried out as his mouth drove her to peak after peak. Finally, when she was sure she couldn’t take any more he stopped and slid his body up hers, burying his throbbing, aching shaft slowly inside her.
She groaned. “Oh God! No more. I can’t.”
“Yes you can. Just a little more.”
He started moving slowly. Within minutes, she was moving with him, her hips arching against him, hands clutching at his shoulders.
He ignored her, keeping to his slow rhythm. Her head was thrashing back and forth on the pillow. “You’re so beautiful!” He loved watching her in the throes of passion. Each time with her was better than the last. And she’d agreed to be his. He could see her like this whenever they wanted.
Her scream echoed around the room as she exploded around him. He didn’t alter his movements, riding out her storm, stirring up the next one. Gasping for breath, she whimpered. “Stop. Please! I can’t.”
“Yes you can. Once more. This time we’ll go over together.” He promised.
She had no strength left to even hold him to her. She was just a boneless receptacle for his passion. This was beyond anything she’d ever read about, ever experienced – even with him, beyond anything she’d even dreamed was possible. She should have been scared, and if she wasn’t feeling the love pouring off him in waves she was sure she would be. But this was Richie. He would never hurt her, never let her fall.
He kept his promise. As the wave swamped her yet again, he joined her in paradise, collapsing on top of her briefly as his body pulsed out it’s release deep inside her. He dragged himself from the bed to blow out the candles, then rejoined her, pulling her into his arms to cuddle her close. When her hand settled on his chest he toyed with the ring on her finger, a satisfied smile wreathing his face. The future looked very bright indeed.
Tori woke the next morning, feeling a little groggy, a deep sense of satiation dragging at her limbs. Memories of the night before flitted through her mind and she glanced at her hand. Seeing the ring assured her that it was indeed true and not just a wonderful dream. She stared at it for a long time, watching it sparkle in the morning light. She knew that there might be some rough times ahead for them, but no relationship was smooth sailing all the time, and..what was the saying……nothing good comes easy? She was sure that the good times would outnumber the bad. She had never felt so…connected….so… in tune with another person. Just being near him and seeing him smile at her warmed her heart and soothed her soul. Yes, it may not be all ‘moonlight and roses’ as he put it, but he – and them – were worth her time and effort. She’d made the right decision.
As the memories of what had happened once they’d returned to the room came back to her she turned to glance at the man beside her. He was lying on his back, the blankets bunched at his waist, one arm thrown over his head – his favorite sleeping position. She frowned slightly when she realized that while he’d given her the most incredible pleasure over and over he had taken very little for himself. A glance at the clock told her she had time to remedy that unfairness. She wasn’t sure that her body was ready for any more quite yet, but that didn’t mean that he had to wait. She pushed the blankets down to the foot of the bed and debated where to start.
Richie woke to the feel of fingertips, lips and a tongue exploring his chest. He cracked open his eyes just in time to see that tongue circle a nipple. Teeth scraped lightly over the hard nub, before those lips closed over it and sucked lightly.
He groaned. “Baby? What….?”
She raised her head and grinned at him. “I never got dessert last night.” Lowering her head again she continued her play, licking and kissing and nibbling her way over his ribs and abs. His stomach contracted at her touch and the rest of his body reacted predictably. “Mmmmmm.” She took him in her hand and stroked, mouth watering in anticipation as he swelled and hardened even more.
He reached for her, but she pushed his hands away. This was just for him. She held him upright with one hand and cupped his sac with the other. She traced his long length with her tongue, over and over, pausing to hold it against the big vein and feel his blood pulsing there. Starting at the base she pressed open mouthed, sucking kisses in a path to the tip, then did it again starting at a different point until every inch of his now throbbing shaft had been kissed. His groans had turned to honeyed moans and she set about drawing more from him.
She gave special attention to the ultra-sensitive tip. Her tongue traced just beneath the ridge several times then swept over the massive crest. Reaching the slit, she dipped just the tip in to scoop of the drop he couldn’t hold back. This went on for several minutes until he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Baby! Enough! Please!”
She glanced up at his flushed face and glazed eyes, the sweat gathered on his upper lip. “What do you need Rich?”
“I….I need you. I need to be inside you!”
She opened her mouth and took him into her body the only way she would allow right now. She concentrated on relaxing her throat to take him as deep as she could, and sucked. Only her hands holding his hips down prevented her from being choked as he bucked in reflex.
“Jesus!” He breathed. His hands buried in her hair, he tried to pull her away, but she refused. All he could do was hold on and absorb the pleasure she seemed so intent on lavishing on him. As she settled into a rhythm he was helpless to do anything, but watch his throbbing flesh slide in and out of her mouth as her head bobbed up and down. When she added light sucks, he was lost. “Baby!”
Recognizing the hoarseness in his voice and the tension in his body, she moved until she held just the tip inside and sucked – hard. He cried out as his control broke and he gave her what she’d been asking for. When he’d given her all he had, she lifted her head and dropped a soothing kiss on the pulsing flesh. “Morning honey.”
“Come here babe.” He pulled her up into his arms, but when he started to caress her with purpose, she stopped him. He frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“This morning was for you. You gave me so much last night and took so little for yourself I wanted to give a little back.” She smiled wryly. “Besides, I don’t think my body is ready for another round just yet.”
He grinned. “So….I did good yesterday?”
She gazed into his dark eyes, reached up and stroked his cheek, letting everything she felt shine in her eyes. “It was perfect. Thank you.”
He kissed her. “No. Thank you!” She crooked a brow. “For agreeing to be my….how did you put it once….partner in life?”
“I love you.”
He kissed her again. “I love you too.” He glanced at the clock. “Now, as much as I wish we could just stay here today, we’ve got to go to work tonight.”
“And a daughter to get back to.” A thought struck. “I take it that Jon and Dorothea knew what you had planned?”
“I didn’t tell them anything, but I think they figured it out.”
“I did talk to her about it.”
“And?” Despite how close they’d gotten, she wasn’t Ava’s mother and never would be. Hanging out and baking cookies was one thing, marrying her father was something else entirely.
“And… she told me to be romantic and to tell you how much I love you and that we want you to be with us forever and ever and ever.” He traced a finger down her nose. “Relax angel, she loves you almost as much as I do.”
“No one could love you as much as I do.”
She grinned and kissed him, blinking back tears. Her heart felt full to bursting.
On the plane, Richie watched as she kept looking down at her hand and smiled. “Like it? I wanted to give you something unique, something special….like you.”
“It’s beautiful. I love it.” She assured him.
Arriving back at the hotel, they dropped off their bags, then headed for Jon and Dorothea’s suite. Richie had called to let them know they were back and to find out where everyone was.
“Hey.” Jon answered their knock on the door. “Nice trip?”
“Very memorable.” Tori commented. “In more ways than one.”
The heated look that passed between his sister and his best friend made Jon a little uncomfortable. There were some things he just didn’t want to know.
“Daddy! Tori!” Ava interrupted.
“Hi baby girl!” Richie swept her up in his arms.
Ava looped an arm around her father’s neck and leaned back to look back and forth between him and Tori. “So? Are you getting married?”
Tori grinned and held up her left hand. “Yes we are.”
A squeal came out of the young girl’s throat as she hugged her father again and reached for Tori. All heads in the room turned at the sound. Jon and Dorothea exchanged a satisfied look.
When Tori set Ava down, she grabbed their hands and tugged them further into the room. “We’re getting married!” She announced. Her eyes widened and she turned to look up at them. “Can I have a brother or sister now?”
While the rest laughed, Richie raised a brow at Tori, who blushed. “Let’s get through the wedding first Bean.”
Richie sighed, but nodded. At least that dream was no longer some vague far off possibility. With any kind of luck, by this time next year, they would be well on their way to making it a reality.
The rest gathered around to offer their congratulations. The men kissed her cheek and shook Richie’s hand, the women kissed them and exclaimed over Tori’s ring. For once there was no smart ass comments, just genuine happiness for their friends.
They were in their dressing area doing a last check before showtime when Richie noticed Tori toying with her ring, a look of indecision on her face. As he watched, she pulled the ring off her left hand and slid it onto her right.
He frowned. “What are you doing?”
She turned to look at him and hoped she could make him understand. “If I wear this on the proper hand out there, the fans will see it in less than a minute.”
“So…that’s not the way I want to announce our engagement. We have family and friends that deserve to know first.” She hoped he’d just accept that reason and let it go.
He studied her for a moment. “And?” He knew that there was more to it. They’d called their parents and Karin earlier.
She sighed. She should have known better. “And, I don’t want to disrupt the flow of the show.”
“And you think that letting the fans know we’re engaged will do that?”
She shrugged. “I honestly don’t know how they would react, but I don’t want to take that chance. The tour’s gone so well, I don’t want to spoil it now.”
“Honey, they’re going to find out sooner or later. It’ll be fine. I told you before, my fans just want me to be happy.”
“I know, but I don’t want to hit them with this like a slap in the face. The tour’s almost over. I’d like to keep this low key until then. Let them have some time to get used to the idea before they see you live and in person again.”
His frown deepened. “Are you having second thoughts?” It was his worst nightmare, but why else would she want to keep their engagement a secret?
“NO!” She assured him quickly. She didn’t know how to explain it so that he would understand. “I love you and I absolutely want to marry you. I’ll wear my ring proudly when we’re off stage, but I would prefer not to on stage for now.”
“So that those guys out there lusting after you think that they have a shot?” He scowled.
She crooked a brow at him. “Is that why you finally proposed? To warn off the men in the audience?”
“Don’t be silly! Of course not! Where did you get such a ridiculous idea?”
“Gee I don’t know. Maybe the same place where you got the idea that I was trying to string along the men in the crowd?” She retorted sarcastically. He had the grace to blush. She sighed. “We’ve had this conversation before. It’s just like Jon’s wedding ring. And before you remind me that the girls are used to seeing you wearing a ring, let me remind you that Heather wasn’t standing on stage beside you at the time. Look, I just think that we should keep our engagement within the family, just until the end of the tour.”
“And after the tour?”
“After the tour it won’t matter.” She meant that the fans would have some time to adjust, but that’s not how he took it.
“Meaning what? That you’re not going to tour with us anymore?”
“Actually I meant that the fans would have some time to adjust to the idea of you getting married again, but now that you mention it, no, I don’t imagine I will, not like this anyway. Or did you think that I should leave the kids at home while I go gallivanting around the world for months on end?”
He hesitated. He hadn’t considered that at all. He’d grown so accustomed to her being with him, he hadn’t thought about the possiblitiy of her not being there. But she had a point.
She smiled gently at the chagrined look on his face. “You can’t have it both ways Rich.”
“So I have to choose between having a child and having you perform with us?” Not that there was really a choice to be made. Having a child with her, building a family with her was more important than any show.
“Not completely. I’ll still perform the odd show with you if I’m asked, but my days of running around the world playing rockstar are just about over. I told you all from the beginning, I had no plan to become a rockstar, and I certainly had no intention of becoming part of Bon Jovi – I still don’t. It’s been fun, and I’ll be forever grateful for the experience, but this isn’t my place.”
“What is your place?” He was curious. She’d obviously given this a lot of thought. She’d been given an opportunity that thousands would give various parts of their bodies and souls for, yet here she was saying thanks, but no thanks. She was willing to set aside her incredible talent and obvious love of performing without a backward glance. He had to know what she could possibly find more fulfilling.
“Being a wife to you and a mother to your children….and a member of the merchandizing team of an international rock band, not to mention the football team and all the charitable organizations you’re involved with. Between you and Jon, you’ve got enough projects going on off stage to keep me very busy.”
“Are you sure? Jon wasn’t kidding when he said that performing is like a drug. Once you start it’s hard to stop.” He couldn’t believe she could just give it up that easily. He knew he certainly couldn’t.
She shrugged. “It’s not like I’m giving up music. Hell, in our house I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’ll still play and sing at home. And I’m sure if the itch gets too strong that either you or Jon will be able to find some way for me to scratch it.”
“You guys ready?” Jon called.
“Coming.” Tori answered.
As they all gathered, preparing to head for the stage, Tori noticed Jon frowning in her direction and looking more than a little uncomfortable.
“What’s wrong Jon?”
“Umm, well…there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.” He hedged.
“Yeah? What?” She lifted her left hand to brush a lock of hair out of her eyes.
He saw her bare ring finger and sighed in relief. “Where’s your ring?” She lifted her right hand. “Good. I wasn’t sure how to ask you to do that.”
She smiled. “Don’t worry. I get it. Now maybe you can explain it to Richie in guy speak so that he’ll get it.”
“Don’t tell me you agree with this nonsense?” Richie asked Jon in disbelief.
“Just until this tour’s over.” Jon assured him. “Then it won’t matter.”
Richie threw up his hands in defeat. “You too?!”
Jon looked at Tori. “Don’t worry, he gets it, it’s just the caveman in him that wants to put his stamp on you.”
Richie flipped him off. “You would too if it was your woman being ogled.”
Jon nodded. “Probably, but I was smart enough to pick someone who wasn’t part of the circus.”
Tori gave him and incredulous look. “If memory serves, big brother, I wasn’t part of the circus either. You made me part of it. Believe me, I’ll be quite happy being on the sidelines again.”
“Tori! Time to move!” The message from Obie was passed down the line to her. Mike and Tom materialized in front of her to lead the way.
When Tori’s last song was fading and she started to leave the stage, Jon grabbed her arm and shook his head, nodding slightly towards the wings. Looking in the direction he indicated she saw all the kids – not just Steph, Gabi, Ava and Lily, but the boys as well – even little Hector. When the intro started, she laughed. Instead of the ususal I’ve Got The Girl that they usually did when he brought the girls out, cha cha music filled the stadium. One Wild Night indeed! Tori thought.
While the girls danced around with Jon, Richie – and even Hugh, the boys surrounded Tori. Jesse and Colton took turns trying to spin her around, Jake followed her motions as she acted out the song and Romeo and Hector just moved to the music each holding onto one of her hands. The crowd went wild.
When the song ended, the girls and the little ones all went to hug their dad’s, then Tori herded them off the stage, Romeo and Hector once again clinging to her hands. Ava frowned, then, stepped up, pulled Romeo’s hand out of Tori’s and placing herself in between them. Tori glanced down at her winked, squeezed her hand and continued into the wings. Having seen what Ava did, Jon and Richie exchanged a look, smiled and shook their heads.
Tori went back to the hotel to help put the kids to bed, then joined the men downstairs for a drink and something to eat.
“Get everyone settled?” Jon asked.
“Yeah, finally. The little ones were so excited I didn’t think they were ever going to go to sleep. I’m just going to grab a quick bite to eat, then I’ll relieve Dorothea so that she can come down and join you.”
“If we keep doing that we’re going to have to get a bigger stage.” David commented. “Or you guys need to stop having kids.”
“Well, I’m done.” Jon assured him.
“I’m not.” Richie spoke up. “I’m just getting started.”
Tori rolled her eyes, blushed, and ignored him. “What about you Teek? Are you done?”
He grinned as Alejandra walked towards the table. “I hope not Bela, I hope not.”
It had been such an incredible couple of days – discussion of her future career not withstanding – Tori should have known that something would happen to spoil it