Richie reached down and picked up the magazine, wincing when the back door slammed behind her. He flipped pages until he found the blurb that went with the picture.
Rumour has it that Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is set to take the matrimonial plunge again. For the last year, Sambora, previously married to actress Heather Locklear, has been dating the sister of his band’s frontman, Tori Adams, who, sources say, is sporting a large fancy blue diamond ring on her left hand. Since his divorce from Locklear two years ago, Sambora has been seen with several beauties around L.A. and New York, the longest lasting of them being Denise Richards, former wife of Charlie Sheen and former best friend of Locklear. The heat coming off this shot makes us wonder if it’s really finished with Ms. Richards or whether Ms. Adams should be keeping a close eye on her man.
Sighing, he tossed the magazine back onto the table, stood, and set out to find his pissed off angel. He found her near the flower beds behind the pool, her arms wrapped around her middle, her face lifted to the late afternoon sun, her eyes closed. Walking up behind her he rubbed her upper arms with his hands.
She sighed. “When was the picture taken?”
He took comfort in the fact that her voice was calm, although her tone warned him that that could change at any moment. “About a year and a half ago. I swear to you that I haven’t seen or talked to her since that party at Christmas.” She nodded. He didn’t want to start a fight, but he had to say it. “You know that you can’t believe anything in those rags.”
She nodded again and leaned back against him. “So was it some resourceful reporter or was it her?”
“I don’t know.” He answered honestly. “But if you’re asking me if she’s capable of pulling a stunt like this, the answer is yes.”
“Why can’t they just let us be happy?” The tremor in her voice told of her battle with her emotions. “Why do they have to stir up shit and try to hurt people?”
He didn’t bother to reply. She knew the answer as well as he did. Happy didn’t sell. Heartache and anger did. “I’m sorry.” He murmured and held her close. They were still standing like that when Rosa came to tell them that dinner was ready.
Neither one had much of an appetite and conversation was stilted at best. He didn’t know what to say to make her feel better. She knew it wasn’t his fault, and she wasn’t angry at him. It was just another part of living in the circus that she had to learn to deal with.
“So what happened at the warehouse?”
Her lips twisted. “I lost my temper and got some punk manager fired.”
His brows rose. “Really?” She nodded and told him the story. He chuckled. “Good for you! I wish I’d been there to see the look on his face when Paul called. Don’t be surprised if the staff act a little nervous around you for a while.”
She shrugged. “As long as they’re doing their job and are polite, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
He smirked. “You sound like Jon.”
“Thank you.” She grinned at him.
“By the way, your mom called this afternoon. The invitations came in. She said instead of sending them here, she’d just address them herself and send them out. She said that her writing is neater than yours.”
She snorted. “Ha! She just wants to contribute something.” She shrugged. “That’s fine. It’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
After dinner they moved to the living room, but Tori couldn’t settle. Finally, she turned from the window and started across the room. “I’m going for a walk.”
Richie frowned. “Honey…”
She raised a hand to stop him. “I’m fine, I just feel cooped up and restless. I won’t go far, just around the neighbourhood, and I’ll take my phone.”
He hesitated, then nodded grudgingly. “Be careful.” He watched her walk out the door with a heavy heart. He knew she found adjusting to the circus difficult at times like this and wished he knew how to help her. At least she didn’t believe that he was cheating on her. If they were going to make it, they had to trust in each other.
Tori wandered around the nearby streets – more to burn off anger driven energy than anything. It had been a real bitch of a day. Sometimes she wished she had never gotten that call from the Children’s Aid Society, and that she had her old, comfortable, predictable life back. Then she’d look at Richie or Jon or the kids and she knew that despite everything, she wouldn’t change her life for anything.
Slipping through the gate she walked up the driveway and noticed a car parked by the front door. She frowned. She really wasn’t in the mood for company. Shutting the door behind her she could hear voices in the living room – Richie’s and a woman’s. She stood in the doorway and felt her temper soar.
“Come on baby, you don’t really want her. Remember how good we were together?” Denise stepped closer and slid her hand under Richie’s t-shirt.
Richie pushed her away. “Knock it off Denise. I’ve told you a hundred times. It’s over. I’m not in love with you. I’m in love with Tori and I’m going to marry her.”
Denise snorted. “You can’t be serious! Just because she’s Jon’s sister, you don’t have to feel obligated to stay with her. You know she can’t do what I can for you. Now that she’s seen how….close…we are, you can send her home and we can get on with our life together.” She reached for him again, looping her arms around his neck.
Once again he pushed her away. “I am deadly serious! It has nothing to do with the fact that she’s Jon’s sister. She’s a wonderful, bright, beautiful, loving, compassionate, talented woman. As for what you can ‘do for me’, let me assure you, she does it better. Let me be perfectly clear. The only one I want to spend my life with is Tori. Go home Denise. It’s over.”
“Baby, you don’t mean that…”
“You heard him Denise.” Tori interrupted her as she stepped into the room and approached them.
Denise stiffened and Richie watched with masculine appreciation as she neared them, sparks shooting out of the glowing sapphire of her eyes.
“Listen doll…” Denise began.
“No YOU listen doll! Richie’s tried to spell it out for you as clearly as possible, but you just don’t seem to be getting it! HE… DOESN’T…. WANT…. YOU! He loves me and I love him. We are getting married. You can plant as many pictures in as many magazines and tabloids as you want, it isn’t going to change that. You aren’t going to win this one Denise. I won’t let you. Richie doesn’t belong to you! He’s MINE! And no pig headed, two bit wanna be actress with a Florence Nightingale complex is going to take him away from me! So go back to your T.V. show and find a new ‘cause’, and GET THE HELL OUT OF MY HOME!”
Stunned, Denise turned to Richie. “Are you going to let her talk to me like that?”
He snorted. “Let’s see. You plant pictures in the rags to purposely upset her, come into her home uninvited, and insult her – and me - by trying to steal her fiancé away from her, even though I’ve told you over and over again that I’m not interested. I think she’s being very reasonable.”
“You would actually let her kick me out of your house?”
“It’s her house too Denise. Don’t ever forget that. Now, she’s made her wishes very clear. Let me add mine. I want you out of my life and out of my house. Please leave.”
Speechless, Denise once again found herself outside the closed door of the Sambora house without really knowing how she got there. “Hmpf!” She turned on her heel and stalked to her car throwing one last scowling look at the door before driving off.
Inside, Richie gathered Tori into his arms. She rested her forehead on his chest. “Well, that was just the perfect icing on my perfect bitch of a day!”
He chuckled and stroked her back soothingly. “Poor baby. This really hasn’t been your day has it?” He smirked. “Have I ever told you you’re beautiful when you’re angry?”
She leaned her head back to see his face. “As long as it’s not directed at you, you mean.”
He grinned. “Yep.” He dropped a kiss on her lips. Leaning back he raised a hand to stroke her cheek. He released her and walked to the bar, pouring a glass of wine for her and grabbing a coke for himself. He handed her the glass. When she took it, he held out his hand. “Come on angel.”
She crooked a brow at him as she took his hand. “Where are we going?”
“Hot tub. Soak out all that tension.” He tugged her towards the door to the pool.
“Uh…my swimsuit’s upstairs.” She tried to tug him towards the stairs.
“So?” The gleam in the dark eyes was unmistakeable.
She grinned and let him tow her outside. Stopping beside the hot tub he turned her to face him and started to remove her clothing. She glanced around nervously. The sun had set, but it wasn’t quite full dark yet.
“Relax angel. The staff’s gone and there’s no neighbours close enough to see.”
Reassured, she relaxed and reached to lift the hem of his t-shirt. He let her lift it over his head, then finished undressing her. When she reached for the button on his shorts he stopped her.
“Wait a minute. Go ahead and get in, I’ll be right back.”
“Where are you going?”
“I forgot towels.”
Climbing down into the warm pool she settled on the bench with a sigh and let the heat soothe her. A few minutes later she glanced around as the outside lights came on, bathing everything in a warm glow. She watched Richie approach, set thick towels and the cordless phone nearby, shuck the rest of his clothing and climb in beside her. Bracing his feet he pulled her onto his lap. Her legs wrapped around his and his arm around her waist kept her from floating away. She leaned back against him and sipped her wine.
He kissed her shoulder. “What did you mean by a Florence Nightingale complex?”
“Well, I’m not a psychiatrist, but when I look at her track record that’s what I see. She wanted Charlie when he was having substance abuse problems, then dumped him when he seemed to have it under control, then wanted you when your problems surfaced. It’s like she needs to be with men with problems and try to ‘fix’ them.” She shrugged. “Either that, or she just likes them because being with them is more likely to get her name in the rags.”
“Hmmm…interesting idea. Could be a little of both.”
They sat quietly for a while, sipping their drinks and just enjoying the heat. Richie’s lips traced a path from her shoulder to her ear, where he nibbled and sucked lightly on the lobe while his hands roamed over torso and thighs. Tori sighed in appreciation and leaned back more heavily against him, closing her eyes to better absorb the sensations.
The peaceful atmosphere was interrupted by the harsh ringing of the phone. With a groan Richie nuzzled her neck as she stretched out a hand to stop the noise.
“Hi Sis, are you ok?” The concern was obvious in Jon’s voice.
“Hi Jon, I’m fine, why?” She wonder which of todays events he was aware of.
“Paul called me about what happened at the warehouse, and Steph showed me the photo of Rich and Denise. She wants me to kick his ass – her words by the way – if it’s true.”
Tori chuckled. “Tell her not to worry, it’s an old picture. No ass kicking required. Well, not his, anyway.”
“You mean she did it?”
“She’s a whack job.”
“Mmmhmmm. She had the nerve to show up here tonight thinking that seeing the picture would demoralize me and remind Richie how good they were together and he’d send me home.”
“Unbelievable. What did you do?”
“Laid out the situation for her as clearly as I could and kicked her out.”
He chuckled. “Think she got the message?”
“Not likely, but hopefully after the wedding she will.” She gave Richie a warning look over her shoulder as, knowing it was Jon she was speaking to, his hands resumed their wandering. He just grinned at her.
“So you were in real ass kicking mode today.”
“Oh yeah. It was just an all round peach of a day.” Her voice was thick with sarcasm.
“What happened at the warehouse?”
As she related the story, remembered anger coloured her voice. Her back arched and she had to stifle a moan as Richie’s long fingers explored the soft flesh at the apex of her thighs.
“Hey man, don’t get her all worked up again. I just got her relaxed!” Richie growled loud enough for Jon to hear. Tori tilted the phone so that he could hear Jon’s response.
“Man, now I know you’re getting old if once a night is all you can manage!”
“JON!” Tori admonished him, her face red from more than the heat of the water.
Richie chuckled. “ Who said it was only once? And when it gets to that point, I won’t be old, I’ll be on my deathbed! “
“RICHIE!” She tried to move off of his lap, but he held her tight.
Jon laughed. “Well, I’ll let you go….relax. I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay with all this and apologize for what happened at the warehouse. Jennifer was very impressed with you by the way.”
“What for? Losing my temper and getting her boss fired?”
“No, for your knowledge and interest in the operation there and listening to her suggestions on how to improve it – although I got the feeling that she took great pleasure in seeing Greg get taken down. Apparently she’d been trying to get some changes made and he kept ignoring her and treating her like an annoying pest he was forced to tolerate.”
She snorted. “Yeah, I can believe that. Did you get all that from Paul?”
“No I called down there myself.”
“Why?” She grabbed Richie’s hand and pulled it away from her more sensitive areas so that she could concentrate on her conversation with Jon.
“Because I wanted to hear for myself what the hell was going on down there.”
“There’s a few things that could be done better – Jennifer has some good ideas – but basically, it looks pretty good. Do you want to be there when I go over this with Paul and the rest of the team?”
“Hey! I don’t care if you are Bongiovis, this is NOT work time!” Richie interrupted. “This is MY time!”
“Calm down man, I’m hanging up. We’ll talk about it later Tori. Oh by the way, Dot wanted me to tell you that your dress arrived today – and no she didn’t let me see it. She’s stashed it away someplace. She said to just let her know if you want her to send it somewhere or bring it with her or if you’re coming to get it or whatever.”
“Thanks. One more thing I can check off my list. Tell Dot I’ll call her.”
“Will do. Talk to you later. Nice job today by the way – on both counts.”
She chuckled. “Thanks. Talk you later. Bye Jon.”
She hung up, reached out to set the phone down just beyond the edge of the pool and gasped as his hands rose to cup her breasts and lift them above the surface of the water. The air was cooler than the water and he watched in fascination as her nipples hardened in response, then plucked them with fingers and thumbs.
“Mmmmm..” She sighed, arched her back and curled the fingers of one hand into his thigh, the other into his hair. He grinned and nuzzled his favourite spot under her ear, then grazed the lobe with his teeth. She turned her head in search of his teasing lips, desperate now for the taste of him.
As their mouths melded, he slid one hand down over her torso to lightly caress the soft flesh at the juncture of her thighs. Her hips rocked against him, asking for a firmer touch. When he felt a warm moisture that had nothing to do with the water surrounding them, he penetrated her with two fingers, reached deep and stroked. She groaned and sucked hard on his tongue. For long minutes the night was silent except for the sound of her soft moans and the bubbling of the tub. Suddenly she broke the kiss and tried to move off of his lap.
“Baby? What’s wrong?”
She glanced at his flushed face, glistening with sweat, and blinked at the sting of her own perspiration. “Too hot.” She murmured. “I’m feeling a bit like a boiled lobster here.”
He grinned and dipped his fingers into her warmth again. “And is this the pot of melted butter?”
She closed her eyes and moaned. “Richie, please!”
“Okay.” He pulled his hand away and helped her to her feet and out of the hot tub. When he levered himself out and stood, she pressed close, raised up on her toes, her face turned up to his, mouth parted slightly in invitation. He crushed her to him and took possession of her mouth, tasting the salty tang of her sweat, thrusting his tongue deep. Groaning, he scooped her into his arms and started walking.
Consumed by her desire and her need for him, she wasn’t paying attention to where he was taking her. When she felt herself being lowered, she loosened her grip on his neck. He lifted his head just enough to separate their lips a hair. “Hold your breath.” His murmur was the only warning she got before his arms disappeared from under her . A second later she hit the water.
After the hot tub, the pool felt almost cold. She surfaced, gasping for breath and glared at him. “Not nice Rich!”
His grin widened. “You said you were hot.”
She moved closer to where he was standing, and, using the flat of her hand, sent a tidal wave of water in his direction, drenching him.
“You looked hot too babe.” She smirked and lying on her back with a kick and wave of her hands floated towards the opposite end of the pool.
He watched her drift away for a moment, then with a growl, dove in after her. Knowing she was in trouble, she flipped over and started to swim. It was too late. Feeling his hand close around her ankle, she took a deep breath just before he pulled her under. With a kick and a lithe twist of her body she broke free and headed for the stairs at the shallow end.
She didn’t make it.
At the point where the pool sloped up his hand once again closed around her ankle, but this time instead of pulling her under, he pulled her backwards towards him. His other hand slid up her leg until he could wrap his arm around her waist. When she came upright in search of oxygen, he turned her to face him and held her tightly against him. “Gotcha!”
Since he could stand, but she couldn’t she knew she couldn’t win and changed tactics. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. Staring at his mouth she licked her lips and closed her teeth on the bottom one.
With a groan, he slid one hand into her hair to hold her steady and swooped down to take possession of her mouth.
The taste of him combined with the feel of his hard chest pressing against her breasts erased all thoughts of games, and gave new life to the desire and arousal that had subsided to smoldering embers when he dropped her into the pool. She reached down to stroke his semi-hard shaft, gratified to feel him swell and harden in her hand.
He groaned. “God baby, your fingers are lethal.” Diving back into the cavern of her mouth with his tongue he stroked down her back, cupped her bottom in his hands and squeezed.
Moaning, she rocked her hips against him, caressing his throbbing erection with her swollen folds. Suddenly, the emotional rollercoaster that she’d been riding all day hit its peak. This gentle, playful teasing was no longer enough for her. She needed him. She needed him now, she needed him deep and she needed him hard. Tilting her pelvis she used her hand to guide him home, murmuring her approval as she absorbed his entire length. Using her legs for leverage she shifted herself on him, releasing his flesh, then recapturing it and holding it tightly.
He raised his head to watch her. His heart – and other parts of his anatomy – swelled at the sight of her lost to passion. Her eyes were closed, her breasts heaved as she strained to suck in the oxygen her body desperately needed. Fighting the effects of the vision in front of him, he gripped her hips to slow her down – to slow them both down.
Shaking her head she fought against his restraint. “NO!” She opened her eyes and locked her gaze with his. His breath caught at what he saw. “I don’t want gentle. I don’t want slow.” She pressed closer and brought her lips to his ear. “I want you to fuck me Rich. Fuck me hard and fast!” She took the lobe between her teeth and bit down.
With a shudder, he surrendered. He walked to the side of the pool, braced her against it, gripped the ledge and gave her what she asked for. She held onto him tightly – everywhere – and whimpered in ecstasy as he pounded into her.
“Yes, yes, yes…” She whispered a litany in his ear. This is what she needed. His flesh stretching her sheath, urgently, repeatedly, creating a hot friction that burned through all the anger and fear and pain, leaving behind only pleasure and love. Finally, it was enough, and she screamed as she shattered.
He held even tighter to the ledge and let her take him with her, pumping out his release deep inside her.
They stayed like that for long minutes, just trying to breathe, the aftershocks of their climaxes shuddering through their bodies. He kissed her neck. “Are you okay?”
“Mmmmm. Better than okay.” She raised her head to meet his gaze and found the concern she knew would be there. “You didn’t hurt me Rich. And you didn’t do anything I didn’t want you to. I didn’t want gentle. I wanted exactly what I got – hard, fast and hot as hell. Thank you.” She kissed him gently. Reassured, he kissed her back.
The next few weeks were much calmer emotionally, although between Richie’s classes, guitar lessons, and wedding details, they were by no means quiet. A week before the wedding Tori headed home to be there to deal with the last minute issues that always seemed to pop up no matter how well organized you think you are.
“I still don’t see why you don’t want me to come with you.” Richie pouted as he watched her pack.
“It’s not that I don’t want you to, it’s just that there’s no need for you to. There’s really nothing for you to do there and you’ve got a couple classes yet, and then you can bring Ava with you when you come.” She hesitated. “And it’ll give me a few days to spend some girl time with my mother and Karin.”
He sighed. “Okay.”
She leaned over to kiss him. “It’s only for a few days, then we’ll be married and it’ll just be you and me for two whole weeks in whatever paradise you’ve decided on. Then we get to start our life together.”
He smiled and pressed his lips to hers. “You always seem to know what to say to make me feel better.”
“Good. That means I’m doing my job.”
Tori and Karin checked into the hotel on Thursday night so that they would be there to greet people as they arrived on Friday. The Adams family were the first to arrive followed shortly by the Bongiovis. The women went up to Tori’s room with her to hang up the dress Dorothea had brought, while the men and the kids explored the hotel and sat on the large patio to enjoy the view. Jesse, much to his annoyance, was put in charge of keeping Romeo in sight.
“It’s beautiful Tori.” Sue commented as they watched Vera’s design emerge from its protective bag.
“We drove by the park on our way here. It’s going to be absolutely gorgeous.” Louise added.
Tori smiled. “I hope so. Now if the weather will just cooperate.”
They returned downstairs just as the Samboras arrived.
“Tori!” Ava ran up to hug her.
“Are you nervous about tomorrow?”
“Nervous? No, not really. I am excited though.”
“So am I.” Joan winked at Tori and stepped up to hug her.
“Hi Joan. Everyone have a good trip?”
“Yeah. Daddy was up really early. I think he must be excited too.”
“Are you?” Tori grinned up at Richie as she stepped into his arms.
“Baby, you have no idea.” His dark eyes were gleaming. She raised on tiptoe and kissed him. When she would have stepped back he stopped her. “Whoa there quickdraw. I haven’t seen you for a week and that little peck is all I get for a greeting?”
Blue eyes twinkling, she slid her arms around his neck, pressed close and pulled him down for a more thorough tasting. By the time he let her go, they were both breathing faster and were more than a little warm. He let her turn around, but held her in front of him. She tried not to think of the reason why. She didn’t want to shock the children – or their mothers. Their separation was taking its toll on both of them.
The hotel manager was handing out room keys. “Tori, can I stay with you tonight?” Ava pleaded.
“Sure Bean. I’d like that.”
Richie uttered a low growl. Tori ignored him. Dorothea, who was standing beside them and heard him, didn’t. “Relax big guy, you weren’t going to get any tonight anyway.”
Tori choked and shot Dorothea a disbelieving look. Dorothea just shrugged. “No sense getting his hopes – or anything else – up.”
“Too late.” Tori muttered and jerked when Richie pinched her butt.
He leaned down to murmur in her ear. “You’d better be prepared to suffer the consequences of two weeks abstinence angel.”
She turned her head until she could meet his eyes. “Babe, I’m looking forward to it!”
He grinned, squeezed her waist and kissed her again. A commotion by the door had them looking in that direction.
“You can all relax now, I’m here.” David dropped his bag and held his arms out wide. “Bela, there’s still time to change your mind. Just say the word, and I’ll rescue you.”
Gabi rolled her eyes at her father. “And who’s going to rescue you from Uncle Richie?”
Laughter echoed around the lobby. David scowled at his daughter. Richie hugged Tori closer and winked at Gabi. “Thanks darlin’. You obviously inherited your mother’s brains as well as her good looks.”
Tico, Hugh and their families arrived a few minutes later and Tori was kept busy introducing everyone. The hotel staff were trying to be professional and not appear star struck as they set up a buffet lunch, but Tori noticed a few staring wide eyed at various members of the band. Karin wasn’t much better.
Tori nudged Karin. “What’s with you? You’ve met them all before.”
“I know, but it’s still so….surreal. I mean, these guys are internationally famous rock stars, and now they’re your family and some of your closest friends!” She shook her head. “It’s taking awhile to wrap my head around it all.”
“Aunt Tori, can Ava and I go sit outside on the patio?” Jenny skidded to a halt in front of them, Ava right behind her.
“Okay. Just don’t go any further without telling someone.” She glanced at her soon to be stepdaughter. “You know what to watch for Bean?”
Ava nodded. “Yeah. If I see anybody with a camera we’ll come inside.”
They watched the girls run off. “So how do you like being a mom?”
Tori grinned. “I love it. I just wish she was with us more. She a real joy to have around.”
“Talking about me Bela? Karin my dove, you and I need to talk.”
Tori rolled her eyes. Karin stared at him for a moment. “Okay, but I’m warning you Shirley, I’m not giving away any girlfriend secrets. There’s no way I’m giving you any ammunition.” Tori had told her about the war.
David placed a hand over his heart. “Sweetheart you wound me! I just thought that we could share some pleasant conversation over lunch and get to know each other better. After all, we’re both close friends of Bela’s, it only seems right.”
“Uh huh.” Karin responded sceptically, but consented to be led to the buffet line then to a table by the windows where Tico, Alejandra, Hugh and Kellie were already seated.
After lunch they split up, under strict instructions from Tori to be back by 3:30 for rehearsal. The women headed down to the strip to check out the many boutiques while the men mostly stayed at the hotel, talking and trying to keep Richie relaxed. They also were on parenting duty.
At the appointed time they all met in the lobby and prepared to head to the park. For this rehearsal they were being taken by van instead of the horse and carriages that would transport them the next day. Karin, Bill and Tori were taken last just like they would be for the actual ceremony. When they reached the park and the van stopped, Karin chatted with Tori until the minister came to explain the procedure, a wide smile on his face.
“Hi Tori. This is a beautiful spot you’ve chosen here. It’s going to be a lovely ceremony. It’s quite a group you’ve got there.”
Tori laughed. “Yes, my family has grown dramatically.”
After explaining what he wanted her to do, he turned to take his place in the gazebo where the others were already waiting. Jake, Romeo, Jenny and Ava joined them to do their part, giggling as they got into position . Karin started out first, followed by the kids, then Tori took her father’s arm and followed. As they neared the gazebo Tori glanced up. Her eyes widened, then narrowed. Bill followed her gaze. “What the….?”
“SHIRLEY!” Tori yelled. “You pull a stunt like this tomorrow and you’ll be singing soprano and playing the piano with your feet!” She glared at the wedding party – the men all sporting Tigger ears and the girls wearing ape masks. She fought to keep the angry expression on her face. She wasn’t about to let them know how close she was to laughter. They deserved feel a little bad. “I can’t believe you all went along with this!” Her gaze lit on Richie. “And you just let them?”
He shrugged and struggled to keep his own bland expression. “You know what he’s like angel. There’s no point in arguing with him. Besides, it’s better to let him get it out of his system now so that with any kind of luck he’ll act like a grown up tomorrow.”
“You can hope Uncle Richie.” Lily piped up earning scowl from her father. She just giggled.
Back at the hotel, they had dinner in the lounge. As everyone was enjoying dessert, John Sr. stood up and got the attention of the room.
“I know that this isn’t really my place, but since it’s just family here tonight, I would like to say a few words to the happy couple.” He paused at looked at Tori. “Tori, child of my blood. You are a beautiful, warm, caring, giving, loving woman. I just wish that I could take credit for helping you become the wonderful person that you are, but I can’t. Well, maybe just a bit around the eyes.” The crowd laughed. He turned to the Adams’. “I want to express to the Adams’ my heartfelt gratitude. I’m glad she found such a wonderful, giving family to raise her and love her.”
Tori blinked back tears and laid her head on Richie’s shoulder. His arm came around her to gently rub her back.
John turned to Richie. “And Richie, whom I watched mature from a long haired punk kid – oh wait that was my son.”
Laughter erupted again. Jon rolled his eyes. “Thanks Dad.”
“Well, the long hair was right anyway. I’ve known Richie for about twenty-five years or so and have watched him mature into a successful, considerate, caring man. He’s come through some very tough times, and emerged a stronger person.” John met Richie’s gaze. “Your father would be proud.”
Tori glanced at Joan to see her nodding, wiped away a tear and squeezed Richie’s leg. He pressed a kiss to her hair.
John glanced at Bill and Helen. “You don’t have to worry about him treating Tori right. He knows the consequences of hurting her.” He made a quintessentially Italian gesture with his hand and his chin. Tori wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, but she had a pretty good idea. Once again laughter filled the room. “Seriously, though, I’m glad the two of you found each other, and I hope that you’ll be very happy together for many, many years.”
As he sat down, the crowd burst into applause. Tori and Richie smiled at each other and their lips met in a soft kiss.