And the pattern was set. For the next few days, except for walks on the beach, and an After Hours Experience in the hotel spa, they didn’t leave their room. On their fourth morning there, after a particularly lengthy lovemaking session, Tori glanced up at her husband in awe, her fingers playing with the patch of hair on his chest.
“You’re definitely a man on a mission.” She panted.
He shrugged. “If my calculations are right, we’re coming into prime time.” He watched the light in her eyes dim and the blue darken.
She tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let her go. “Let me up.”
“Nuh uh. Not until you tell me why you’re pissed.”
“I’m not pissed.” He just looked at her. “I’m not.” She insisted.
“Okaaay, then why the sudden change of mood?” When she hesitated he gave her a squeeze. “Come on angel, talk to me.”
“Because I feel…..I don’t know…used I guess.” She struggled to find the words to explain her feelings.
“Used? Used how?”
“Like a means to an end. What used to be a beautiful expression of desire and mutual pleasure is turning into something else. It’s becoming a necessary act to achieve the goal.”
He snorted. “Trust me angel, making love to you is not a chore!”
“Well it’ll become one to me if I feel that procreation is the main reason that you’re doing it!”
He stared at her, stunned. “You’re not serious?”
“Well, think about it. I throw away the pills and you suddenly get the libido of a twenty-five year old! We’ve been here three days, and other than a few walks on the beach we haven’t been out of the room. Everytime I turn around you’re hauling me off to bed. You weren’t like this before. You’re counting days. You didn’t want me to ‘waste it’ out on the terrace the other day. What am I supposed to think?” She grimaced. “This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen! I knew we should have waited until we got home! Or maybe I should have just gotten rid of the pills and not told you until later. I just wanted to enjoy our honeymoon without any pressure!” Her eyes filled with tears.
“Whoa! Back the train up there a minute! The only goal I have tried to achieve in that department was to give you pleasure. I’d thought by the screams still ringing in my ears, and the nail marks in my back, that I’d succeeded. I certainly didn’t hear you saying no or stop!” She tried to pull away again, but he held her fast. “No. You’re not going anywhere until we talk this out.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, that may have been uncalled for and a little crude, but I really don’t appreciate hearing my wife tell me that I make her feel used, and attaching motives to my actions that just aren’t there! Yes, I want another child. That’s hardly a secret. But sweetheart, you have to believe me when I tell you that it’s not my prime purpose when I make love to you! That would just be a bonus. As for me suddenly having the libido of a twenty-five year old and never ‘being like this’ before…..if you remember, you haven’t stuck around in the mornings, and since we’ve been together one or both of us have had to be somewhere or do something. I haven’t had the chance to ‘be like this’.”
She was crying openly now. Not only did she not explain her feelings very well, now she’d hurt him and pissed him off. “I’m sorry.”
Richie fought the urge to squirm. It had been a long time since he’d let tears get to him – except his daughter’s. He’d been around actresses too much to let them effect him - they could turn them on and off like a faucet. But Tori wasn’t an actress. Her tears were real. He slid down in the bed until they were on a level, cupped her cheek with his hand, and wiped at her tears with his thumb. “Tori, what is this really all about?” His voice was soft, but demanded a response.
She closed her eyes and blew out a ragged breath. “What if…..” Her voice died, cut off by the emotion clogging her throat. She opened her eyes, swallowed and tried again. “You can downplay it all you want, but I know how badly you want more children. Whether you want to admit it or not – or even realize yourself that you’re doing it – you are thinking about it everytime we make love. Yes, you give me incredible pleasure, but ever since the wedding, there’s been a different feeling to it. An intensity that wasn’t there before. A…a…a sense of a purpose other than mutual pleasure.” Tears escaped her lashes again. “But what if I don’t get pregnant right away? What if I can’t get pregnant at all? I’m forty years old! For the last twenty years or so I’ve been very careful not to get pregnant. What if I waited too long? What if…” She swallowed again. “What if I can’t give you what you want most in the world?”
The fear and uncertainty in the sapphire gaze searching his hit him like a fist squeezing his heart. It took him a moment to answer. “Sweetheart, what I want most in the world is right here in my arms. You! A baby would be wonderful, but if it works out that it’s just you and I and Ava, then that’s great too. I have a feeling that Ava’s going to be plenty for us to handle anyway.” He was relieved to see a small smile twist her lips at that. “I’m sorry if I made you feel pressured. I certainly never meant to.” He paused and chose his next words carefully. “But honey, I think you’re jumping the gun a bit here, and worrying before you know that there’s a reason to.” His fingers caressed her cheek. “Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll stop making references – however unintentional – to getting you pregnant if you’ll stop worrying that you won’t. Let’s not think about it. Let’s just enjoy ourselves and let whatever happens, happen. Okay?”
She could see nothing but sincerity and love shining in his dark eyes, but she needed to be sure. “You won’t be disappointed in me if I can’t…”
He stopped her with a finger to her lips. “Stop it angel. I didn’t marry you looking for a brood mare. I married you because I love you and I want you to be a part of my life forever. Just you.”
She closed her eyes and nodded her acceptance of his words. He kissed her gently and leaned his forehead against hers. “What am I going to have to do to get you to talk to me about these ideas you get?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“What upsets me is that you’re upset!” He sighed. “I know that you’re used to dealing with issues on your own, and that you will always try to protect me and my feelings. You’re a Bongiovi. It’s in the blood. But I’m your husband. We’re supposed to share these things. Isn’t that what you told me last March?”
She leaned back so that she could see his eyes, blushed sheepishly and nodded. “Point taken.” She took a deep breath. “I promise I’ll….try.”
He grinned. She was a Bongiovi. That was the best that he could expect. “That’s all any of us can do.”
After a late breakfast Richie hit the shower. While the water beat down on him he thought about their conversation earlier that morning. She’d surprised him. She always seemed so self confident - except in regards to her musical abilities, but he’d always figured that was because she was surrounded by people she saw as professionals more experienced than her and that she’d looked up to for years. He’d never dreamed she would be insecure about something as natural as having a child without having a strong reason. He knew that there were a lot of women out there who, sadly, were unable, for one reason or another, to bear children, but for Tori to worry that she might be one of them before they’d even given it a try just didn’t sound like the Tori he knew.
Suddenly, it hit him like a lightning bolt. The explanation she gave for Jon’s extreme nervousness at the Arena Bowl came back to him. This is beyond his control. He can’t call the plays or carry the ball. All he can do is watch and pray. That’s pretty hard to swallow when you’re used to being the one calling all the shots. “Of course!” He’d forgotten the Bongiovi control freak trait. Conception was beyond her control and that drove her nuts. Add to that his unthinking comments which just confirmed how badly he wanted a baby, and her stress level went through the roof. He didn’t mean to pressure her, but he guessed he had. So what to do now? Only time would answer her main concern – one way or the other – so there was nothing he could do to help there. But she needed a distraction, to get her mind off of it, at least for a little while. Unfortunately his normal form of distraction would only make it worse, so he needed to find something else.
By the time he was dressed he had a plan. He found her sitting in a chair on the terrace, his guitar in her lap, fingers strumming idly. Setting his hands on her shoulder he bent to press a kiss to the top of her head. “Get dressed angel.”
She tilted her head back to look at him. “Are we going somewhere?”
He nodded. “You were right about one thing. It’s time we explored paradise.”
That afternoon was spent touring the shops of Lanai City. In one they found Suziz O’s Slippah jewelry. Tori picked out picked out a pink necklace for Ava, and an enamel and Swarovski crystal necklace and earring set for herself. Richie watched her carefully, then, when she was looking at another case, chose a silver turtle with a crystal tummy and an abalone ukulele pendant, with Christmas in mind.
Over the next few days they checked out the Pu’aiwa Petroglyphs, the Garden of the Gods, went sailing, scuba diving, and swimming with dophins in Hulopo’e Bay, and searched for treasure – and crab’s - on Shipwreck Beach. That expedition had Tori alternating between blushing and laughing until her sides hurt and the tears flowed as Richie’s inner pirate made an appearance.
“Arrg! I’ve got me treasure right here and I ain’t sharing!” He growled in her ear before lifting her onto his shoulder and heading up the beach.
“Help! Somebody save me! Let me go you dirty sea dog!” She managed to get out between rounds of laughter as she beat her fists on his back and wriggled, trying to get away.
He gave her a swat on the rear end and lowered her to the ground before he dropped her, pinning her to the sand with his body. “Never!” He suddenly turned serious. “I’ll never let you go.” Lowering his head, he kissed her gently, but thoroughly.
When he raised his head she sighed. “What happened to my knight in shining armor?”
He grinned. “That was just to lure ye into me net. I be protecting ye from other scurvy dogs, but ye’ll not be escaping me.”
“So I’m doomed to be a pirate’s woman?” Her blue eyes sparkled with amusement. He really could be a big goof sometimes, and she thanked God for it everyday. He knew how to make her laugh and give her spirits a lift when she needed it.
He nodded. “Aye, and it’s a life’s sentence ye be getting there, me beauty.”
She sighed dramatically. “Well I guess I’ll just have to make the best of it then.” She sniffed. “At least you don’t smell like you’ve been at sea for months. In fact...” She buried her nose in his neck. “..you smell like flowers.” Her eyes widened. “Are you wearing perfume?”
He stared at her for a minute in disbelief, then laughed. He probably did smell like flowers. He’d joined her during her bath that morning – despite what she thought, his current ‘level of activity’ was normal for him when he had the time and opportunity, and he wasn’t about to change that unless he had to - not thinking about the scent of her bubble bath clinging to his skin like it did hers. “Brat!” He kissed her again, then rose, pulled her to her feet, and continued their trek down the beach.
Tori was impressed with the history and culture preserved on the small island. Dole’s legacy was evident in the old pineapple fields and the plantation houses in every colour of the rainbow. There were sacred places dotted around the area as well, both religious and ceremonial that she found fascinating.
After dinner at the hotel, they would either listen to the live music in the lounge or go and watch the sunset at Kaumalapau Harbour before taking a moonlight swim and/or retiring to their room where they would relax on the terrace enjoying the tropical evening, and Richie would play for her.
When they climbed into bed, the atmosphere changed. Where before their lovemaking had been hot, intense, almost urgent, now Richie was….tenative. He was afraid of pushing, so he would make his desire known, then back off and wait for her response. Even when she turned to him in invitation, he was careful to go slow and make her pleasure his main concern. If that meant holding back and denying, for the most part, his own needs and urges, then so be it. He told himself that seeing the ecstacy on her face was enough for now. Besides, it wasn’t like he wasn’t getting any pleasure out of their intimate encounters, but he’d become used to being able to let go and ride the wave in whatever direction it took them. We’ll get back there. I just need to take it easy on her for the next little while. Just until we either have answers about her fertility or until she believes that I want her, baby or no baby.
When Richie rolled off her and drifted off to sleep, Tori snuggled closer to him and fought the urge to scream in frustration. She knew he thought he was being considerate of her feelings, but she was about ready to smack him upside the head! It’s your own fault Tori. You should have kept your mouth shut! Now he thinks you’re too emotionally fragile to take it! No matter how many times over the last few days she told him that she wouldn’t break, he insisted on treating her like some delicate piece of glass that might shatter with too rough a caress or too hard a thrust. While she appreciated – and how! -the exquisite gentle pleasure he brought her, she missed the more intense domination that he was also capable of. She could sense him holding back and felt extremely guilty that he was denying himself –and her – because he thought it was best for her emotional health, especially when there was no need to. She sighed. She wanted her husband, with all of his wants and needs. She wanted – no needed to satisfy them, and have him satisfy hers. The gentleness was wonderful and sweet, but if he didn’t just throw her down and take her – and soon – she just might have to resort to some sort of drastic action.
“Hey honey, look at this.” Tori picked up the flyer that was lying on the table in the lobby. “There’s a big luau over on Maui tonight. It says there’ll be lots of local musicians and dancers.”
“Yeah? Let me see.” She handed him the flyer. “Hmmm. Sounds interesting. Do you want to go?”
“Won’t it be a little too public?” She hoped not, she loved new cultural experiences.
He shrugged. “If it is, we can always leave, but I think it should be alright.” He hoped so. He badly needed a distraction from his beautiful and very desirable wife. The need to keep it gentle was testing his control to the limit. Catching the concierge’s eye he went to talk to her about making the necessary arrangements.
“Angel! You just about ready? The car’s here to take us to the ferry.” Richie called from the living room.
“Coming!” Tori answered, giving herself a last once over in the mirror. She smiled in satisfaction. If this doesn’t bring out the caveman, I don’t know what will. The wrap skirt was long and hung low on her hips, the Hawaiian floral print was bright and cheerful. The strapless bra style top matched the pink in one of the flowers in the skirt and set off the sun kissed skin of her shoulders,arms and torso. Her hair was a mass of curls tumbling around her shoulders.
When she entered the living room, her breath caught at the sight of him in beige slacks and blue and beige Hawaiian print shirt half unbuttoned as usual. Oh yeah. She was going to get her way tonight, one way or another. She just couldn’t wait any longer.
Hearing her, he turned, and froze. His eyes widened and heated as they roamed over her noting every bit of exposed flesh. “Jesus Tori! What are you trying to do to me?”
Break through your control and get my lover back – in all his forms. “What? Don’t you like it?” She hid her grin when he just grunted and waved her towards the door.
The ferry was about half full when they boarded for the trip to Lahaina on Maui. On the main level near the back was a group of men on their way back from scuba diving. Their loud laughter filled conversations stopped abruptly when Tori and Richie walked by them to stand at the rail. She pretended not to notice. Richie moved closer and rested his hand proprietarily on her hip. As the boat picked up speed she shivered slightly as the breeze hit her and moved closer to Richie, using him as a windbreak.
“You should have brought a jacket angel, it’ll be even cooler by the time we come back after the luau.”
She shrugged. “I guess I’ll just ride inside if it’s too cool.”
“I wouldn’t mind keeping her warm.” One man murmured to his buddies.
“She’s doing a good job of keeping me warm right now.” Another commented. The others nodded in agreement.
They had a little time to kill when they arrived in Lahaina, so they decided to take a little tour. They saw the big Buddha and the Banyan tree that was the size of a city block, and wandered down through the shopping district.
As they walked Richie noticed a lot of heads turning to watch them. Most of them were men. While he didn’t really like it, he wasn’t surprised. His wife was a beautiful woman and he knew he wasn’t the only male who would think so. Torn between pride and possessiveness he glanced at her, and suppressed the urge to snort and shake his head. No, the male admiration didn’t surprise him, but her response did. She seem to be utterly oblivious to the attention she attracted. He grit his teeth and tightened his grip on her hand. When she sent him a questioning look he just smiled and kissed her briefly.
While they were waiting in line to enter the luau grounds, Richie noticed a couple of the scuba divers who had been on the ferry talking to one of the greeters working the gate. When their turn came the greeter set aside the usual Plumeria lei and instead reached for a rope Pikake one and settled it over Tori’s head. “Aloha.”
“Aloha. Oh, how beautiful!” Tori lifted the blooms to have a closer look.
Richie bent to accept his Plumeria lei, then straightened and eyed the divers who were watching Tori. They looked at each other and smiled in satisfaction. “Come on angel.” He urged her forward with an arm around her waist.
Next they were offered drinks. Tori chose a Mai Tai and Richie fruit punch. A host came and gave them the layout of the grounds, pointing out the eating area as well as the where the Imu presentation would be held and the area where local artisans were demonstrating their skills. Sipping their drinks they wandered through the arts and crafts area, very impressed and fascinated with the display. Tori was examining the detail in a wooden carving when a young Hawaiian boy, maybe six or seven years old, came up to her and shyly offered her a single large flower – she didn’t recognize what it was – obviously meant for her hair. “For the pretty lady.”
“Oh, how sweet!” Tori accepted the bloom. “Mahalo.” She bent and kissed his cheek.
The little boy grinned, nodded and ran back to rejoin his mother who was one of the artists. She lifted the flower and slid it in above her right ear.
Richie sighed. It was going to be a long evening. Doesn’t matter, young or old, they fall at her feet. He reached out with one hand and plucked the flower from her hair. When she frowned at him, he turned her head and slid it back in above her left ear. “Left side angel. You are definitely taken!”
Biting back a smile, she slipped an arm around his waist and urged him to follow the crowd as they headed for the beach and the Imu presentation, which turned out to be the unearthing of the roasted pig. The aroma was heavenly and Tori’s mouth watered in anticipation.
When they reached the entrance to the eating area, another host greeted them. “Mr. and Mrs. Sambora. Aloha. Follow me please.”
As they followed him to their table, Richie scanned the crowd. He saw several women look twice and nudge their friends. He smiled and nodded. They waved back. Tori smiled indulgently and prepared to be visited later. As his gazed continued to sweep the room, Richie almost growled when he noticed the divers were seated at the table beside them. He made sure that he sat between them and Tori and kept his arm along the back of her chair, his fingers alternating between playing with her hair, and stroking her shoulder.
The food was delicious and very plentiful. Tori’s favourite was the Kalua pork, the Island Crab Salad, the Lau Lau and of course the Poi, along with the banana cake and fresh fruit that she chose for dessert. Richie traded her tastes of his Pulehu steak, chicken long rice, and stir fry vegetables. He made a point of feeding her and getting her to feed him.
She didn’t let on that she had seen the divers sitting at the next table. The day’s events couldn’t have played in her favour any better if she’d planned them herself. Yep, the caveman’s trying to get out! It needed a final push, but she’d just sit back for awhile and see what happened.
As the sun set, the show began. Within minutes Tori was caught up in the story of the Polynesians discovering and settling on the islands, followed by a demonstration of the ancient Hula. Next came the era of the missionaries and the changes they made. Then came the modern Hula. As the first song came to an end, the dancers invited a few women up to learn a bit of the dance. Richie bit back a protest as Tori accepted the invitation and climbed the steps onto the stage.
“Ooh, you have an admirer.” One dancer commented. When Tori raised her brows in question she gestured to the lei. “A Pikake lei.”
Tori glanced at Richie only to see him frown. Shifting her gaze to the table of divers she saw one nudge his buddy and grin. Her brows rose even higher, but didn’t say anything, concentrating instead on the movements of the dance they were being taught.
As he watched the graceful motions of her hands and arms, and the undulations of her hips as she executed the steps of the dance, Richie felt his whole body tense and something deep inside him sit up and howl. Tori called it his inner caveman and she wasn’t too far from the truth. He’d always admitted to being possessive, but right now dragging her away by her hair wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. He’d never felt it this strongly before – even with her. This was worse than the fans gawking at her in that leather outfit. It was more than just the table of divers openly admiring her. She was a beautiful woman. He expected other men to notice. That didn’t mean he had to like it! He shifted uncomfortably in his chair as the music sped up, and with it her movements.
“That’s a hell of a story she’s telling.” The older man at the table beside him commented.
“Daniel!” His wife swatted his arm and shot a glance at Richie.
“Sorry sweetheart, but I’d have to be dead not to notice!” He gave Richie an apologetic smile.
Richie smiled back and nodded. His jaw clenched as he scanned the room and noticed others watching his wife with masculine appreciation. When the tempo increased again, he turned his attention back to the stage….and couldn’t look away. Tori had moved to the section of the stage that was right in front of him. Their eyes met and for long minutes it was like the rest of the room ceased to exist. Her blue eyes sparkled and her tanned midriff appeared to glow under the torch lights. Her arms seemed to reach out for him and the gyrations of her hips reminded him of other times and places where her movements drove him wild, making him ache to get her alone.
The music came to a crescendo and ended. The applause was thunderous. Tori thanked the dancers and musicians as she left the stage. As she made her way back to the table several people stopped her to praise her performance. She halted beside the table of divers, lifted the lei and smiled. “Thank you. I appreciate the compliment, but I’m afraid I’m married.” She lifted her left hand to display her rings. The men sighed but nodded their acceptance.
“You’re afraid you’re married?” Richie growled as she sat down.
She leaned over and kissed him. “You know what I meant.” He grunted. She glanced around as the other guests prepared to leave. “Ready to go?”
He grimaced. “I need a few minutes.”
“Oh? What for?” He just stared at her. Reading the message in the dark depths she glanced down at his lap, and grinned. “Oh. Sure. Let me know when you’re ready.”
“Keep laughing angel. It’s your fault, and you’re going to pay for it later.”
“Yeah, yeah. You know babe, you’re real big on making the promises, but not real big on the follow through.” She retorted. His reply was prevented by the approach of the women they had noticed earlier, in search of autographs.
Richie was quiet on the ferry ride back to Lanai. He was thinking about his unusual reactions today. He’d always considered himself a modern, evolved man, but his response today was anything but. He didn’t want to admit it – and certainly wouldn’t to her – but he was afraid that Tori just might be right. That maybe, just maybe, somewhere deep in his subconscious he was always thinking about getting her pregnant now that she’d given the green light, and his strange feelings today were a throwback to some instinctive and primal need to guard his mate to ensure that any propagation of the species that occurred would be with his genes. He didn’t think for a minute that she would cheat on him, but the urge to stamp her as his was nearly overwhelming.
She leaned against him for warmth. “You’re awful quiet. Everything okay?”
He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back, trying to smooth away the goosebumps. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Just thinking.”
“My beautiful and very desirable wife who has men of all ages falling at her feet.”
She chuckled and leaned back a bit so that she could see his face. “Your interest is the only one I’m trying to attract.”
“Angel, you’ve had it from the first time you opened those beautiful blue eyes in the hospital and looked at me.” He leaned down and kissed her.
Back at the hotel, the concierge greeted them. “Did you enjoy the luau?”
“Very much. Thank you. It was an experience I’ll never forget.” Tori responded.
The concierge gestured to the lei and grinned. “Very nice. You certainly caught somebody’s interest.”
Tori grinned. Richie grunted and with a hand on her back guided her towards their room.