“Wow!” Tori murmured as she gazed down at the crowd already gathered in Central Park that was visible from the helicopter’s window.
“Yeah, good turnout.” Richie commented.
“Wonder how much the scalpers made.” Jon muttered scathingly. He was still pissed at the thought of people selling tickets for a free show. “Try to do something nice and somebody’s got to take advantage.” Sometimes the dregs of society turned his stomach.
When they landed and reached the stage area, Obie met them with a yell and a huge grin on his face. “Congratulations man. Arena Bowl here we come!” He hugged Jon.
“Thanks Ob. Is that a hint that you’d like to come to New Orleans with us?” Jon asked dryly. He let Obie stutter for a few minutes before giving in. “Of course you’re invited!”
Tori smiled indulgently as Jon went on to explain the arrangements that had been made at this point. He’d been on the phone for an hour after the game had ended that afternoon, setting plans in motion and congratulating Craig and Coach Munsey and a few others from the Soul. She hadn’t understood why he hadn’t gone to the game - they could have made it to New York in plenty of time for the show, but he felt he needed to stay closer in case he was needed. Richie figured that he just didn’t want to be shown on T.V. if they lost. That observation had earned him the standard one finger salute.
For the next hour, Jon - and to a lesser extent Richie – accepted congratulations from the guys and various members of the staff. It was very obviously that he was beyond thrilled at the accomplishment of his team. Based on the signs scattered throughout the crowd, the fans were just as excited. Jon acknowledged them all and shared his happiness.
That night, after the show Richie and Tori headed for Philly. Now, more than ever, Tori wanted to get her things put away and the condo set to rights. If they were lucky enough to win the Arena Bowl there would be celebratory events in the city and the apartment would be needed.
“Good evening Mr. Sambora, Mrs. Sambora.” Joe, the night doorman greeted them.
“Hi Joe.” Tori replied with a smile, exchanging a glance with Richie. No point correcting him now. It’ll be true soon enough.
“Congratulations on the game today. Mr. Bon Jovi must be over the moon.”
“He is. Thanks Joe.” Richie shook his hand and followed Tori to the elevator.
Entering the apartment, Tori groaned at the stacks of boxes and pieces of furniture strewn around the living room.
“Leave it until tomorrow angel. Let’s get some sleep.”
She nodded. It had been a long day. Maybe the task wouldn’t look so daunting after a good night’s sleep.
When Tori awoke the next morning she pressed a gentle kiss to Richie’s lips before sliding out from under his arm to head for the bathroom. The corners of his mouth lifted slighty in response. After showering and dressing she closed the bedroom door quietly so that he wouldn’t be disturbed by the sounds of her unpacking. In the kitchen a quick survey of the fridge and cupboards confirmed that she needed to hit the market if they were going to eat here today. Leaving a note for Richie – she didn’t think he’d wake up while she was gone, but if he did she didn’t want him to worry – she grabbed her purse, checked that she had her keys and ventured out to replenish their supplies.
She was a little surprised to find no one on duty at the desk in the lobby, but figured they must be helping another tenant. Returning an hour later, she struggled to open the door, almost dropping a bag in the process until Henry came to her rescue.
“Thanks Henry.” She smiled at him as she accepted the bag he handed her.
“You’re welcome Miss Adams.” He glanced down and noticed her ring as she took the bag. “May I assume that congratulations are in order?”
She noted the direction of his gaze. “Yes.”
His smiled deepened at the happiness evident in her face. “I hope that you and Mr. Sambora will be very happy together.”
“Thank you Henry. I hope so too.”
Back in the apartment, she put on a pot of coffee, and while it brewed, snacked on an apple while she assessed the boxes and furniture piled in the living room. When Richie entered the room an hour later he found her kneeling in front of an open box, a mug of coffee beside her, scrunched up newspapers and other packing materials in a mound on one side of her, her unwrapped treasures on the other. She felt his heat reaching out to her a split second before his hands settled on her shoulders. Leaning back against his legs she looked up at him. “Morning.”
“Morning angel.” He bent to kiss her.
“There’s coffee in the kitchen. Let me know when you’re ready to eat and I’ll make some breakfast.”
“I can make it. Let me know when you need me to help here.”
With Richie helping they had everything unpacked and a home found for each item by late afternoon. They decided to stay in, and while dinner was cooking they relaxed on the balcony. Looking out over the city, Tori sighed in contentment. Richie heard her.
“Mmmhmmm. Although I’ll be even happier when we get through the wedding and we can just relax and settle into a normal life – well as normal as we’re likely to get anyway.”
“I know what you mean. It’ll be nice to do what we want, when we want – at least until your brother has his next brainwave.”
She chuckled. “Or until you decide to release that solo album you’re sitting on.”
“I’m thinking it needs a little tweaking first.”
“Oh? I thought it sounded great.” He’d let her listen to it before they’d left for Europe.
“Mmmm. Thanks, but it needs something to make it complete.”
“My wife’s participation. Do you think she’d be willing?”
The timer on the oven buzzed. She rose, stopping by his chair as she passed to kiss him lightly. “Maybe. If you make it worth her while.”
They spent the evening curled up together on the couch watching T.V. The next day they headed for New York and the final two shows.
“I want to thank everyone for another great tour.” Jon raised his glass to band and crew alike. They were all gathered together for the end of tour party. “We’d never have been able to do it without everyone pulling together. I really appreciate everyone’s hard work. Go home, relax, spend some time with your families and friends and recharge. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to do it all again.”
Faint groans could be heard scattered around the room. He grinned. “Oh come on. It hasn’t been that bad has it?”
“Can I ask a favour?” Mike spoke up.
“Can Tori and David let me know the theme of the next war so that I can have some idea of what to expect?”
Laughter erupted. Tori and David exchanged grins and toasted each other with their glasses.
“I think Richie’s planning on keeping Tori too busy to plot battle strategies.”
“Damn right!” Richie agreed, pulling Tori closer to his side. She blushed.
“But what about David?” Someone asked.
“I’m never to busy to have a little fun.” David assured them.
“That’s what I was afraid of.” Mike responded with a resigned sigh. Once again, laughter filled the room.
“So are you heading back to L.A. tomorrow Bela?” Tico asked as the band members all settled around a table, each having spent some time thanking the crew personally.
“No. We’re going up to Niagara-on-the-Lake to finalize some of the wedding details and so that Richie can see the locations.”
Jon smiled. “The kids are so excited about being in the wedding it’s all they can talk about. Of course I haven’t told the boys about the monkey suits yet.”
“Shut up Shirley.” Came from four throats as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
David sighed dramatically and muttered into his glass.
As Richie drove the rental car through the picturesque streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake he glanced around appreciatively. “Pretty.”
“Mmmhmmm. I always thought so. Turn right at the next corner.” She directed him to the hotel.
They spent the next hour and a half with members of the hotel’s management team going over the details and touring the rooms that would be used. Tori was impressed at how attentive Richie was. Not once did she see his eyes glaze over or his interest flicker.
When they finished he glanced between Tori and the staff. “What about the rehearsal party?” Tori’s eyes widened. She hadn’t even thought about that. Richie grinned. “What? Do you mean that I thought of something Miss Anal-retentive Organizational Control Freak didn’t?”
She swatted his arm. “Oh shut up. I’m not anal. One of us has to be organized and we both know that it won’t be you.”
The manager smiled. “We’ve set aside the lounge area for that. It will sit up to a hundred people. We can do either a formal dinner or more of a finger food type buffet.”
“Let’s go with the buffet.” Richie answered. “Do you have a menu?”
Tori stood back and let him take over, just making notes in her binder about what he’d chosen.
“I think that’s about it unless you have something else.” The manager gathered up her notes with a smile.
“No, I think we’re set.” Tori handed Richie the forms to sign requesting to use the gazebo in the park, and the contract with the carriage company. “I’m going to take Richie down to Angie’s shop and show him some of her work.”
“I think she’s actually in the shop this afternoon.” The manager commented as she accepted the forms back from Richie. “I spoke to her earlier.”
Deciding to stay the night, they took a room and dropped off their bags and the binder before heading out. Stepping outside Richie looked around. “Can we walk?”
“Sure. Let’s go this way and I’ll show you the gazebo.” She took his hand and led him towards the park. As they approached the gazebo she described what her florist wanted to do.
He nodded and pulled her into the gazebo and into his arms. He glanced out over the water for a few moments, then back at her. “You’ve done a wonderful job. It’s going to be beautiful.”
“Thank you. I think so too.” She smiled up at him. “I have to say that I’m very impressed with you too. You’re actually paying attention and participating. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.”
“Will I be rewarded for my fine behaviour?” His dark eyes twinkled as he waggled his brows.
Her smile widened and she raised up on tiptoe to kiss him. “Later.” She promised. “Let’s go explore the strip.”
They took the back streets down until they reached the end of the strip and Angie Strauss’ shop. Entering, Tori led him through the display of clothing to the far side of the shop that resembled a small art gallery. They wandered the aisles pointing out which scenes they preferred. Turning up the next aisle Tori smiled at the sight of a dark haired woman adjusting a framed picture on the wall. “Angie?”
The woman turned, a professional smile on her lips that widened and warmed into a more personal one when her eyes drifted from Tori to Richie. “Hello.” She approached them, her hand outstreatched. “Mr. Sambora. Miss Adams.”
“Richie please.” He shook her hand.
“I’m Tori. I can’t tell you how honoured I am that you agreed to lend us your talent for our wedding.” Tori had to stop herself from gushing. She’d admired the artist’s work for many years.
“Are you kidding? When Sharon called me from the Landing and told me what the project was and who it was for, I jumped at the chance.” She blushed sheepishly at Richie. “Your art has been a part of some of the most important events in my life – good and bad. Now I get to return the favour.” He grinned. She cleared her throat and put her professional face back in place. “I’m glad you’re here. I have a few ideas sketched out for your invitations and place cards. If you have a few minutes I’d like you to take a look. If there’s nothing there you like we can try something else.”
They followed her out the back door to her studio. She picked up a pile of cards from a stand behind a desk and motioned them towards a table set in front of the wide windows on one side of the room. They watched as she laid the cards out on the polished wooden surface and stepped back.
“I can adjust the colours to suit.”
She had done samples in different scenes. There were her trademark flowers, some with ponds, some with waterfalls, some with wine bottles and grapes, all with something that signalled a wedding such as intertwined rings or joined hands. In the centre was one showing the gazebo with the water behind it. The vines and flowers cleverly woven around the top formed a heart containing the letters T and R intertwined. At the base of the gazebo more vines ‘grew’, sprouting buds here and there, creating the illusion of music notes. The blooms were shades of pink and purple.
“That one.” They spoke in unision, pointed, then looked at each other and smiled.
“Are you sure? I can do others.”
“Nope. It’s perfect.” Tori assured her. “Even the colours are perfect.”
“Great. Then I’ll get them printed and shipped out to you. Do you know how you want them to read?”
“Yes.” Tori dug into her purse and handed over a piece of paper.
Angie read it over and nodded. “Nice. You should have them in a couple weeks if not sooner.”
“Wonderful. Thank you so much.” Tori shook her hand.
“My pleasure. I’ll pray for good weather for you. Everything’s going to be absolutely beautiful.” She had seen the plans.
“Thanks again Angie.” Richie gave her a quick hug.
Leaving the studio they wandered slowly down the main strip of shops perusing the windows as they strolled. When they reached the Christmas Store Richie stopped for a moment, then urged her inside, a grin wreathing his face. The store was composed of several connected rooms. “This place is great!” They were in the second room and he’d just found the collection of music related ornaments. There were acoustic guitars, electric guitars – even a Fender – pianos, violins, saxophones, various other instruments and music notes. He picked out several and moved on to the next room – the angel room. Tori got distracted with the cartoon character section – including Winnie-the-Pooh. She picked out a few of Ava’s favourites, a selection of Pooh – and a Kermit, Scarecrow and a Wicked Witch.
She found Richie surveying the tree toppers. “What are you looking for? You already have an angel for the top for your tree.”
“Our tree. And we need a new one. A special one. That one.” He reached up and lifted down his choice. The angel’s wings were very delicate and flared out beyond her shoulders. Her brown hair pooled on her shoulders, her full red lips were curved into a contented smile and her blue eyes seemed to sparkle.
“Why that one?”
“She looks like you.”
She looked at him in amused disbelief, but found only sincerity in the chocolate depths. Her breath caught in her throat. “I love you.”
“I love you too angel.” He bent to press a gentle kiss to her lips. “My angel.”
They returned to the hotel to drop off their purchases and have dinner. Knowing who it was for, the chef was eager to show off his talents and give them a preview of what they could expect for the wedding. He didn’t disappoint. Over coffee and a shared chocolate torte Richie gazed at her consideringly. “What do you want to do tonight?”
She thought for a moment. “Have you ever seen Niagara Falls from the Canadian side? The horseshoe belongs to us. Very impressive.”
“No I haven’t.”
“Well, since it is one of the seven wonders of the world, we have to remedy that. They light it up at night too. To offset that natural beauty we can cruise the tackiness that is Clifton Hill.”
“Mmmm. Complete with wax museums and the usual tourist traps selling ridiculously sloganned t-shirts and other souvenirs at outrageous prices.”
“Sounds like Shirley’s kind of place.”
She laughed. “Yeah, I think he’d enjoy it.”
Twenty minutes later they were parking the car at the base of Clifton Hill. The rush of water plunging over the falls could be heard, but Tori took Richie’s arm and guided him in the opposite direction. “Let’s cruise the Hill first and finish at the falls.”
They walked up one side of the street and down the other, stopping briefly to laugh at some of the sillier souvenirs that never failed to lure tourists. As they neared a building with the obligatory bright neon sign, Tori was surprised when Richie urged her towards the door. “Let’s go in here.”
‘Here’ was the Movieland Wax Museum of the Stars.Tori rolled her eyes, but dutifully followed him in. They strolled past Elvis, Indiana Jones, Lara Croft and the Braveheart version of Mel Gibson, stopping briefly to take a picture of Harry Potter for Ava. Rounding the next curve, Richie started to laugh. “Stand next to them so that I can take a picture.”
Grinning broadly she complied. He snapped a picture with his phone then started typing a message, and attached the picture. He showed her the message before he hit send. Did they give you the day off? She chuckled imagining David’s reaction when he got the message and the picture of her with Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
A few minutes later Richie’s phone pinged with a message. He grinned and showed it to her. Miss me already? She glanced up, took his phone and gestured. “Stand over there.” Snapping a quick picture she started typing. Richie read over her shoulder. I can’t miss you if you never go away! She attached the picture of Richie and the Joker and sent it. A couple minutes later they got a response. Aw, you know you love me Bela. That’s why you see me everywhere you go – even when you’re supposed to be planning your wedding to Chuck. When you realize that you’re not hairy enough for him, you know where to find me. Tori laughed out loud.
“Asshole.” Richie grumbled.
They exited out through the House of Horrors straight into a group of girls – women really – who had seen them go in and had been arguing with each other as to whether it really had been Richie that they’d seen. While Richie signed autographs and posed for pictures, Tori headed over to get an ice cream cone at the booth beside them.
“Excuse me Tori? Can I get your autograph too?” One of the women had followed her.
“Sure.” Tori reached for the pen and paper being offered to her. She heard a gasp and glanced up to see the girl staring at her left hand.
“I’m sorry, I know it’s none of my business, but are you and Richie engaged?”
Tori smiled and nodded. “Yes.” She watched the play of emotions crossing the woman’s face carefully. Surprise turned to envy, which in turn became resignation and grudging acceptance.
“Congratulations. I hope you’ll be very happy. He deserves it.”
They both looked over at Richie, who noticed their gaze and winked. Tori smiled lovingly. “Yes he does.”
As they continued down the street Richie smirked down at her. “I thought you were full.”
She shrugged and licked a spot that threatened to drip. “There’s always room for ice cream. Want some?” She offered him the cone, and grinned when he took a taste.
“See? Told ya.”
Between the two of them they finished the cone just as they reached the falls. Tori gripped the railing and watched the dancing lights reflect off the thousands of gallons of water plunging 170 feet to land with a roar in the Maid of the Mist Pool, kicking up a misty cloud.
Richie stepped up behind her, wrapped his arms around her and gazed out over her head.“It really is incredible.”
“Mmmhmm.” She agreed and leaned back against him, laying her arms over his at her waist.
They stood there for long minutes watching the lights change in time with the music drifting on the warm, humid air. Finally, she turned in his arms, slid hers around his waist, and gazed up into his dark eyes, a soft, yet heated expression in hers. “Let’s go back to the hotel.”
A slow smile spread across his face. “Time for my reward?”
“Maybe.” She answered coyly.
Back in their room, Tori stood looking out the window at the grounds barely visible with only the lights from various windows providing relief from the darkness. The light from the bedside table behind her threw her reflection back at her in the glass. Movement made her focus on that reflection to watch Richie, naked, approach her, his golden skin almost glowing.
“What are you thinking about?” He murmured, running his hands up and down her arms.
“That the next time I’m in one of these rooms it will be for our wedding.”
“Mmmm. Can’t come soon enough for me.” He saw her eyes shine and her lips tremble slightly. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She assured him. “You make me happy.”
“Good. That’s the plan.” His deep voice rumbling in her ear sent shivers of awareness over her nerve endings.
Urging her back against him, his hands smoothed her nightshirt over her curves, pausing for long minutes over her breasts, teasing the nipples, then pinching them when they stood up for him.
“Mmmm.” She sighed arching her back and letting her head loll on his chest.
He watched their reflection and let his hands continue to trace her body down to her hips. Squeezing gently, he released her flesh, but kept his grip on the cloth and retraced his path, his eyes hungrily feasting on what the retreating cotton revealed.
As the shirt was pulled from her body, leaving her as naked as he was she let her hands fall back to settle on his thighs and felt the muscles tense at her touch. A soft moan excaped her lips as his hands coasted over her rapidly heating flesh. She tried to turn to face him, but he gripped her waist to prevent it.
“Nuh uh. My reward, my terms.” He traced the curve of her ear with his tongue, then bit the lobe gently. “Stay like this.” His hands came up to cup and knead her breasts, his eyes following the movement of his hands in the window. “This time we both get to watch.”
Her eyes, which had fallen to half mast at the feel of his callouses scraping over her skin widened as she realized that he had been fully aware of the situation in the bathroom of the guest house the other night. She turned her head to meet his eyes and saw the glint in dark pools. Her gaze dropped to his mouth and her tongue came out to wet her lips in anticipation.
With a groan he gave in to the lure she cast. The tip of his tongue followed the path of hers, then dipped inside when they parted for him. He sucked her full bottom lip into his mouth, grazing it with his teeth as he released it. When her breath sighed into his mouth he took full possession, tasting her thoroughly. Raising his head he studied her face, then glanced down at the wide wooden window sill. His hands slid down to her waist, gripped and lifted. “Kneel on the sill.” His voice was a gravelly murmur.
She reached out to brace herself with her hands against the window frame, spreading her knees wider in response to repeated nudges from his leg sliding between hers. Her heart started to pound as she grasped his intentions.
His mouth nuzzled her neck, but his eyes remained fixed on their reflection in the window. She tilted her head to give him greater access and her fingers curled into the wooden frame as his hands caressed her body from shoulders to thighs over and over and over again, enjoying the feel of her satiny skin.
She could feel his lips curve into an almost feral smile. One hand rose to tease and pluck at a hardened nipple while the other slid down over her stomach to stroke the swollen flesh at the apex of her thighs. Caught between the hard wall of his chest at her back and the teasing touch of his hands on her front, she had no choice but to accept whatever caresses he chose to press on her and hope that the torture wouldn’t last too long. A ravaged moan was torn from her throat as one long finger penetrated her and stroked. She bit her lip as a second finger joined the first. When his thumb joined the play, rubbing her clit lightly, she shuddered. “Mmmm….God! Richie!”
He watched her body writhe against his hands, his own hardening even more. She was so beautiful with her flushed skin, heaving breasts and passion glazed eyes. As much as he wanted more, he couldn’t pull his gaze – or his hands- away from her.
He was killing her! She loved what he was doing, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted – no she needed - to feel him deep inside her, filling her as only he could. She watched him watching her and knew she couldn’t last much longer. In desperation she leaned back more against him, trusting him to not let her fall, so that she could free one hand to reach behind her and grasp the hard shaft that the drenched flesh his fingers were currently massaging ached to hold. She squeezed and stroked in an attempt to break through his control.
He groaned as her clever fingers combined with the vision she presented threatened to push him over the edge. Shuddering, he surrendered, pulling her hand away and replacing his fingers with his throbbing erection. Entering her slowly, he buried himself to the hilt, and held still.
“Please!” She whimpered rocking back against him.
“Watch.” He rasped in her ear.
Unable to help herself she did as he bid. When their eyes met in the reflection he started to flex his hips rocking against her, into her. As the sensations threatened to overwhelm her , her eyes drifted shut. The movement of his hips stopped.
“No! Keep watching.”
Trembling, she forced her eyes open again and fought to keep them that way as he resumed his rhythm.
“Oh! Oh….mmmmm…yes….Richie!” She sighed.
“So beautiful! Baby you feel so good!” He groaned.
She could feel the tide rising. “Now Richie. Please! Now!”
He gripped her hips with both hands and thrust harder, her answering cry of pleasure echoing in his ears. Sweat trickled down his back as he fought against his release, wanting her to find hers first. He could feel the shudders building in her body and hear the rasp of her breath and knew she was close. His fingers sank deeper into her soft flesh to hold her steady as he strained to reach even deeper. He felt her walls tighten around him.
Gasping desperately for breath, eyes locked with his, she watched as he nuzzled her neck. As her peak approached, and her body tensed she saw him sink his teeth not quite gently into the tendons at the base of her neck, pushing her over the edge. Her body convulsed, her slick channel closing like a vice around his shaft, taking him with her.
It was long minutes before they found the breath and the strength to stumble to the bed and collapse on it. Turning off the lamp, Tori curled into Richie’s side. “So do you feel rewarded?”
“Mmmm. Definitely incentive to keep you happy.”