Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chapter 41

The day of the fundraiser arrived all too soon. Tori was a bundle of nerves. She hadn’t slept well the night before, despite Richie’s attempts to wear her out. He kept trying to reassure her that she was ready and everything was going to be fine, but it didn’t help. She thought maybe a good workout would help settle her, but Jon insisted she keep it light and save her energy. Dorothea sympathized and tried to find things to keep her busy, and sent the kids to distract her, which helped some.

Finally, it was time for hair and makeup. To Tori’s surprise, the salon came to them instead of the other way around. That done, she headed down to the guest house to get dressed.

When Richie came in to get dressed he stopped dead in the doorway to the bedroom and drank in the vision in front of him. Her dress was the colour of her eyes when she was happy, the halter style top baring her shoulders and back. It was form fitting right down to the hem that hit her mid thigh. Strappy four inch silver sandals added length and a sexy curve to her legs that had his breath catching in his throat. Her hair was a mass of curls that his hands itched to bury themselves in. Her makeup accented her eyes and made a pouty bow of her mouth that he longed to taste. Sapphire earrings flashed blue fire from her lobes, and silver bangles on her wrists chimed with her movements.

“Damn baby, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.” He commented with a frown.

“Why, what’s the matter? Is it the dress? Dorothea thought it would work, but I’m not sure.” She tugged on the garment self-consciously.

“Oh, it works alright. Right now it’s working my libido into overdrive – just like it’s going to do to every other man who sees you tonight. I’m not in the mood to share. I’m thinking maybe we should tell Jon we’re sick or something and I should keep you here, all to myself.” His dark eyes felt like flames as they licked over her.

She laughed. “Thank you.” She glanced at her watch. “You better get a move on or we’re going to be late – and I have a feeling that my big brother doesn’t tolerate that well.”

“You’re right about that.” He admitted as he reached for his shirt.

Ready, they headed up the driveway to the waiting cars. After a few yards, Tori was struggling to keep up. Tugging on Richie’s hand she got his attention. “Slow down please.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m walking on stilts here. I can’t match your strides. If I tried, I’d end up on my face with a twisted ankle.” She explained.

“Don’t worry I’ll catch you if you fall.” He grinned, but he did slow down to a pace she could manage.

As they reached the cars, the rest started pouring out of the house. The men stared at Tori in stunned awe.

Ai Caramba!” Tico muttered.

“Jesus Bela! You can bite me anytime you like – if I don’t get you first!” David exclaimed. Richie pulled her closer to his side.

Hugh whistled. Jon groaned and looked at his wife. “You did this to torture me didn’t you!” Dorothea just grinned.

“Just ignore them Tori, you look beautiful.” Carol assured her.

“Thanks.” Tori responded and looked at John for his reaction.

“I can’t believe I had a hand in creating this beautiful creature.” John shook his head in disbelief. Tori grinned and kissed his cheek.

Tony and Matt stood beside Jon and all three wore identical frowns.

“What’s the matter boys?” Dorothea asked them with a smirk.

“I forgot my club.” Tony stated.

“What club?” Tori asked him.

“The one we’re going to need to keep the men back.” He explained.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” Richie assured them. “She’s not leaving my side.”

“You’re all nuts.” Tori shook her head at them.

Loading into the cars they headed out. It had been decided that for security reasons Stephanie – who was being allowed to attend the event because of her involvement – would go with her uncles and grandparents who would do their best to shield her from the photographers. Tori would walk in with Jon and Dorothea – and of course Richie who wasn’t letting her get more than two feet away from him. Tico, David and Hugh would be right behind them. The band members would attempt to distract the reporters from Stephanie’s entrance.

When the car came to a stop Tori ‘s nerves kicked into the next gear. Closing her eyes she concentrated on taking deep breaths. Richie took her hand and squeezed it.

“Relax honey. I’ll be right beside you.” He assured her.

She nodded and blew out a breath. “Ok. I’m ready.”

Stepping out of the car to stand beside Richie she was shocked at both the number of reporters and photographers and the aggressiveness of some of them. Obeying the pressure of his hand on her back she set out in Jon and Dorothea’s wake.

“Hey Richie, who’s the new woman?” One man yelled out.

“This is Tori.” Richie answered. Tori smiled.

“Is this the donor?” A woman asked.

“Yes.” Richie nodded.

“Kind of a painful way to get your fifteen minutes of fame isn’t it?”

Tori stiffened. “I’m just glad I was able to give a young girl a chance at living a full life. That’s worth a little pain don’t you think?” Out of the corner of her eye she saw Jon’s head turn in her direction, as he listened to the questions that were being thrown at her.

“The fact that it gave you an in with Bon Jovi didn’t hurt either did it?”

“What are you really after? money? a singing career? or maybe to get your hooks into a band member?”

“Looks like she’s already done that!” Someone hollered. The crowd laughed.

Before either Tori or Richie could respond, Jon stepped up to her side. “ Hey folks this woman has been generous enough to give up a kidney to save my daughter’s life. That’s a debt I can never repay. For the record she hasn’t asked for anything, but I would gladly give her anything I have.”

“The purpose of this evening is to increase awareness of kidney disease and help raise money for research so that one day no one will have to go through what Stephanie and Tori did.” David reminded them trying to deflect the questions. The vultures ignored him.

“We know what she’s done for Jon, but what’s she done for you Richie? Or do we even need to ask?” The crude question caused snickers to ripple through the crowd.

Tori felt Richie go rigid and she held her breath, waiting to hear how he would respond. He never got the chance.

“Hey!” Jon barked. “She’s my sister! Show a little respect!” Motioning to the others, they continued towards the door.

Looking around Tori quickly realized that she and Dorothea were in the centre, surrounded by five very protective and, at the moment, pissed off men. Richie’s arm was a steel band around her waist and his smile was forced.

Inside, they joined the rest of their party at their table. Luckily they had been able to get Stephanie inside without the vultures even being aware that she was there.

“Did you see who it was?” Jon asked in a hard voice.

“Yes.” Richie’s voice was just as hard. “It was that asshole Stevenson from the Ledger.”

Jon nodded. “I’ll pass the word. He’s officially black listed.”

“What happened?” Carol asked.

“The cat’s out of the bag.” Jon sighed and filled them in.

Chapter 42

“Okay, here’s as much of the story as I think we should tell them. Dad had a daughter that he’d never been able to find. When Steph got sick and we needed a donor and none of us were a match we searched again and finally found her. Lucky for us she was willing and able to help. We’ve been getting to know each other for the past few weeks and we are very happy to welcome her to our family.” Jon suggested. “Does that work for everyone?”

John and Carol nodded. Tori frowned. “What are you going to say when they ask about how he came to have a daughter?”

“The truth.” John stated. When Jon would have argued his father stopped him. “No Jon. If we try to skirt around it they’ll only keep digging until the find out anyway. Maybe if we tell them up front the whole thing will die down sooner.”

With everyone in agreement, Jon called Paul and told him what was happening and what he needed. Paul promised to have a statement ready for first thing in the morning - and to spread the word that the Ledger was blacklisted.

Dinner was probably delicious, but Tori had no appetite. She ate a few bites, but mostly just moved the food around on her plate.

“Don’t let them upset you angel.” Richie murmured.

Tori looked up at him. “I’m not. I can’t believe that they were so rude and crude, but I’m not upset.”

“Then what’s bothering you? Don’t bother to deny it, you haven’t eaten a dozen bites and you’re wound up as tight as a drum.” He frowned at her in concern. “Are you nervous about the performance?”

She snorted. “Nervous? No. Scared to death? Absolutely! Not to mention I don’t want to be burping in the middle of it.”

“Don’t worry about it, David does it all the time.” Richie assured her.

“The trick is to make sure you pull the mic away from your mouth first.” David explained.

They got the laugh they were looking for.

“Seriously though, just eat small portions and stay away from leafy vegetables and carbonated drinks.” Jon advised.

Dinner was followed by a few speeches discussing where the research was at and new breakthroughs as well as a few success stories including Stephanie’s.

Sitting back Tori tried to focus on the speeches, but her nerves were getting the best of her. She couldn’t stop fidgeting in her seat until Richie put his arm around her shoulders to hold her still.

“Relax angel, breathe. Everything’s going to be fine.” He murmured.

“What if I forget all the harmonies and the key changes, and...” The more she thought about it the more worked up she got.

Jon leaned over and took her hand. “Tori, relax. You’ll be fine. Why do you think I made you go over each song a hundred times? It will come to you automatically. And once you feel that positive energy coming from the crowd – and it will be positive, believe me, you’ll forget all about your fears and the nerves will disappear. Trust me. I’ve been doing this a long time.”

Taking a deep breath she smiled at him. “Thanks.”

Suddenly Obie appeared at the table. “Ok, guys and gal, it’s showtime.”

Richie stood and pulled out her chair before taking her hand and leading her to the stage.

Tori stood on the stage behind the curtain taking in her surroundings. She’d never seen their setup this close before. She was so intent on absorbing every nuance of the experience that she didn’t notice the tech coming up behind her and she jumped when he touched her back to attach her monitor and throw the ear pieces over her shoulders.

“Sorry.” The tech murmured.

She hadn’t worked with the monitor before and she was examining the ear pieces when Jon walked over to her. “Okay. Yours are set the same as mine. You’ll be able to hear the guys and me. You’ll have to watch me though because you won’t hear me speak unless I speak into the mic. You won’t really be able to hear the crowd either but you will feel their response as well as see it.” Showing her how they fit into her ears he winked at her and went to check his mic.

Feeling a hand check the pack on her back she looked over her shoulder to find Richie straightening her dress. Turning her to face him he ran his hands up and down her arms a few times. “Doing okay?”

She grimaced. “Ask me when the curtain goes up.”

Chuckling, her pulled her close and held her until the signal came that they were ready to go. Dropping a kiss on her lips he released her. “Give ‘em hell honey. And remember Jon and I are right beside you.”

She nodded and took the mic that the tech handed her. In her ear she heard Obie. “Tori give me a voice level please.”

“Testing, testing.” She said into the microphone. “That work?”

“That’s great. Thank you.” Obie replied.

Realizing that everyone had taken their places, she rushed to take her spot between Jon and Richie. The curtain went up and her breath caught in her throat. Frantically she looked around until she could see the rest of her family smiling at her encouragingly. Smiling back she looked at Jon who was going to speak to the crowd before they started.

“Good evening and thank you for coming out tonight in support of the Kidney Foundation. You already know the story of my daughter’s illness and the success of her treatment thanks to the transplant she received from the wonderful woman on my right.” He gestured to Tori and the crowd applauded enthusiastically. Tori blushed and smiled, looking over to wink at Steph.

“What you don’t know,” Jon continued, “is the other part of this amazing story. You see, the reason that the transplant was such a success, especially with Stephanie’s rare tissue type is that Tori is a relative – one we didn’t even know we had. Years ago a child was born in Canada to a woman , who, for various reasons did not tell the father that she was pregnant. By the time he found out, the baby had been adopted and he was unable to find his child even though he tried several times over the years. When his granddaughter became sick and the known family members were unable to help, he knew it was time to try again. This time the adoption rules in Canada had changed enough – particularly in regards to health information - that he was able to locate his child, who immediately got tested to see if she was a match. Finding out that she was, she generously agreed to help, and, well, you know the rest. So you see, not only am I lucky enough to have my daughter back on the road to a full life, but I have also been given the opportunity to welcome a new addition to our family – my sister, Tori Adams.” Turning to her he hugged her and kissed her cheek as the surprised murmurs of the crowd changed to applause.

“Even though we were raised in different places we seem to have a few things in common.” Jon told the crowd. He pointed to his eyes, Tori batted hers and the crowd laughed. “And something else as well – at least I think so. Let’s see if you do too.”

Stepping back from the mic he turned to Tori. “Ready?”

She raised a trembling hand. He took it in his and caught her eyes with his. “Just look at me. Don’t look at the crowd, just look at me. It’s just us and the guys, in the studio. Ok?”

She blew out a breath and nodded. Jon glanced at Tico and nodded. They started with Who Says You Can’t Go Home because that was the one Tori was most comfortable with. Halfway through the song, Tori risked a glance at the crowd and was amazed at what she saw. People were dancing in their seats, nodding their heads and tapping their toes and the tables to the beat, big smiles on their faces. As the song came to an end, the crowd came to their feet. Looking towards their table she saw Carol dabbing at tears and hugging John, Dorothea and Stephanie clapping in delight while Matt and Tony just looked at each other and threw up their hands in resignation. Turning, she saw the guys all standing and clapping as well – even the techs. Richie winked at her and blew her a kiss. She looked at Jon in stunned disbelief. He grinned and mouthed I told you so.

Something inside her just…let go. As Tico counted in the next song she turned and grinned at the crowd, and let the music flow through her. She was no longer just singing, she was performing, playing off Jon and Richie who was laughing at her antics while Jon grinned in approval.

Set List
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Whole Lot of Leavin’
Everybody’s Broken
I Am
Lost Highway
Seat Next To You
Any Other Day
We Got It Going On
Welcome to Wherever You Are

When the curtain fell she turned to Jon, and threw her arms around his neck. He picked her up and spun her around, before setting her down and kissing her cheek. “Great job sis!”

Laughing, she turned to Richie, her blue eyes sparkling. He grinned “I told you you could do it!” Then he too picked her up and spun her around. Setting her down, he framed her face and kissed her firmly.

“Hey Rich, you can suck face – or whatever - with her later, let us have a turn!” David complained.

Chuckling, Richie released her, allowing the others to congratulate her. Rejoining the rest of their group, Tori was bombarded on all sides.

“Sweetie, that was amazing!” Carol gushed. She turned to Jon with a meaningful look. “Nicely done, son.” He hugged her.

“Tori, that was…..I have no words.” John hugged her, wetness shining in his eyes. Meeting his oldest son’s gaze he nodded in approval and hugged him too.

Watching them, Tori found herself suddenly fighting back her own tears. Sensing someone beside her she turned to find Dorothea gazing at her husband fondly. “That’s the man I married.”

Chapter 43

Walking out to the car, Tori felt like she was walking on air. Her adrenaline was still flowing. The few reporters and photographers that were still there were respectful, some even congratulating Tori on her performance. Clinging to Richie’s hand she smiled and thanked them, but they didn’t stop to talk.

In the car with Jon and Dorothea, she couldn’t contain herself. “That was incredible! Now I know why you keep touring. What a rush! Jon, thank you so much for letting me do that!” She knew she was gushing and babbling, but she didn’t care.

“You’re a natural.” Jon assured her, smiling indulgently. Looking at Richie his smile turned wry. “Do you remember our first time in front of a crowd?”

Richie nodded. “I almost puked right on the stage.” He chuckled. “But I do remember the rush too. There’s no other feeling like it. It’s better than drugs. Better than booze.”

“So you’re telling me it goes away?” Tori asked, a little disappointed.

“Not completely.” Jon assured her. “More like you kind of just get used to the feeling.”

When they arrived at the estate, and exited the car, Jon asked if they were coming in the house.

Richie looked at Tori speculatively. “I don’t think so. I think I’d better get her to the guest house before the truck hits.”

Understanding what Richie didn’t say, knowing the effects of an adrenaline rush, Jon looked at Dorothea speculatively as well. “Yeah, I hear ya bro. I think I’m going to head for bed soon too...very soon.” Dorothea smiled faintly and ran her hand over his butt before turning to enter the house.

On their walk down the driveway Tori was almost dancing in her exuberance. Richie laughed at her antics.

“You remind me of Ava at Christmas.” He chuckled.

Eyeing him playfully, she pulled him to a stop and pressed up against him, winding her arms around his neck. “You think of me as a child?”

His breath hissed through his teeth. “Not when you do that!” He wrapped his arms around her to keep her close.

Sliding one hand into his hair she urged his head down to meet hers. Obliging, he bent to capture the lips she was offering. At that first touch her adrenaline driven energy was suddenly channeled into a different direction.

Taking control of the kiss, she practically ate at his mouth, diving in with her tongue to tease and taste.

Even knowing the cause, Richie was shocked at first at her urgency, but within minutes all he could do was groan as his body reacted to it. Quickly realizing he needed to get them inside before they both went up in flames he tried to urge her towards the guest house, but she refused to let go. Finally, in desperation, he picked her up and carried her.

Far from objecting, Tori continued her assault, switching her focus to lick and nibble his adam’s apple, before taking his earlobe between her teeth, sucking on it and tugging lightly.

Reaching the door, Richie juggled her in his arms as he struggled to open it. Succeeding, he kicked it shut behind them as he headed straight for the bedroom. Once inside he released her legs and let her slide down his body, groaning at the sensation.

Regaining the floor, she glanced around, then pushed him back until they hit the wall, her fingers busy undoing the buttons of his shirt while her lips and tongue explored the skin thus exposed.

Knowing that it would only be a few minutes before they were both beyond coherent thought let alone control, he raised one hand to her nape to undo the top of her dress and push it down over her hips to puddle on the floor at her feet, leaving her wearing only panties and shoes.

Murmuring in approval, Tori continued her undressing of him, running her hands upwards from his waist over his rock hard abs and chest to his shoulders, pushing the shirt over them and down his arms to join her dress on the floor. Switching her attention to his pants she quickly had them undone. Reaching inside she grabbed him firmly, caressing him with long strokes, feeling him swell even more. Hearing his moan she glanced up at his face to find him watching her, his eyes almost black with desire.

Feeling his control slipping, he once again picked her up, strode to the bed and gently laid her on it, slipping off her shoes. Stepping back he stripped off the rest of his clothes, opened the night table drawer and laid the foil packet on top where it would be easy to reach. Lying down beside her he shook his head when she would have reached for him again. “My turn.”

The gravelly voice vibrated deep in Tori’s core. Smiling, she lay back to let him touch her as he willed. With each stroke of his hand on her body she felt her control slipping away, but this time she didn’t care. This was Richie, she would never be safer than she was with him. That was the last coherent thought she had as she felt his lips on her breast.

Suckling one breast he caressed the other, first gently, then kneading more firmly. Feeling her hands cupping his head and pressing him closer he smiled around the firm nipple in his mouth and sucked harder, drawing a cry from her. Moving to give her other breast the same treatment he sent his free hand skating over her belly and down beneath her panties. Finding her already heated and wet, he stroked her sensitive nub lightly, before sliding first one finger, then two inside her and stroking deep.

Gasping for breath, almost frantic, Tori was lost to sensation. But it wasn’t enough, she needed more. Running her hands feverishly over every bit of him that she could reach she urged him on.

“Richie, I need….mmm….I need more….I need YOU….Richie, please!” She moaned.

Lifting his head, he watched her while still working his fingers inside her. The sight had his pulse racing and his breath coming in pants. Her whole body was undulating against the movement of his fingers, her skin flushed, her nails digging into his shoulders. Rising to his knees he slowly slid his fingers out, ignoring her whimpers of protest. Sliding off her panties he reached for the condom, quickly sheathing himself. Turning back to her he smiled when her legs opened at touch of his hand. Spreading them wider with slow sweeps of his hands down the inside of her thighs, he settled between them. Dropping a kiss on her mound he felt her shudder at the touch of his lips. Glancing up he saw her bite her lip against a scream, her head thrashing from side to side, her hands clenching in the sheet beneath her. Knowing she had totally let go of her control, stripped away the last of his.

“Now, Richie, please. I need to feel you inside me!” She pleaded. Reaching down she tugged on his shoulders.

He moved slowly up her body, rubbing it with his, loving the feel of her arching against him. Reaching her mouth, he teased her lips open with his tongue then slowly invaded her body both above and below at the same time. Buried to the hilt he held still for long moments, while their tongues dueled.

For the first time she was able to enjoy his weight on her. Stroking her hands down his back she ground her pelvis against him trying to urge him to move. Frustrated when he wouldn’t she reached down and cupped his sac in her hand, squeezing gently.

The touch of her hand shattered him. Moaning deep in his throat he began to move, thrusting into her heavily, repeatedly.

Unable to do anything, but ride out the storm Tori raised her legs and wrapped them tightly around his waist, gasping when she felt him penetrate even deeper. Within minutes, with a scream, she shattered.

Feeling her walls squeeze him tightly, hearing her scream as though through a tunnel, he lifted slightly from her so that his chest abraded her still hard nipples and changing the angle of his hips, so that he could reach deeper yet.

“God! Richie you’re killing me!” She hadn’t yet recovered from her first climax and she could already feel another one approaching.

Her only answer was a breathless chuckle. He was beyond all rational thought, only aware of her soft body beneath him, her breath in his ear, the feel of her body welcoming him deep inside. Lowering his chest down onto hers again he slid his hands down her sides to her hips, sliding them underneath her buttocks to tilt her up to him more.

She was a mass of sensation, aware only of his hard body pressing her deep into the mattress, his warm skin under her hands, his breath rasping in her ear, his hard length buried deep inside her, stretching her delicate flesh to its limit. Each hard thrust sent currents of electricity through her core and up to her brain. Fighting desperately for breath she pulled him even closer to her as her climax hit. Her body went rigid and she screamed his name.

This time she took him over the edge with her.

Stroking his back soothingly, she kissed his shoulder, absorbing his shudders as they both waited to be able to breathe again.

Moving off her to dispose of the condom he rolled back towards her, smoothing a lock of hair behind her ear.

“Are you okay?” He murmured afraid that he might have hurt her. He had held nothing back.

She smiled. “Mmmmmm…better than okay. You were right.”

“About what?”

“Sharing the experience is even better.” She purred.

Chuckling, he pulled her into his arms, settling her comfortably against him. “Baby, if it gets any better I don’t think I’ll survive it!” He wasn’t sure he hadn’t died and gone to heaven already. Even imagining what it would be like to lose it together hadn’t prepared him for reality. It was beyond anything in his experience or even in his dreams….and he could hardly wait to do it again.

“But what a way to go!” She spoiled her attempt at a leer with a yawn.

“No argument there sweetheart, but I think we need some sleep first. You’ve worn me out and I think the adrenaline express is about to hit you.” When he didn’t get an answer he tilted his head so that he could see her face. Chuckling, he pressed a kiss to her hair. She was sound asleep. “Sleep tight angel. I love you” He whispered.

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