The tour ended, of course, at the master bedroom. The large room faced the back of the house with a balcony that overlooked the pool. It was an airy room, done, like much of the house in a Mexican/Southwest theme with earthy tones and bright flashes of green, red, yellow and blue. A skylight above the massive bed could be closed against the hot California sun or opened to reveal stars shining like diamonds in the night sky.
“So what do you think?” He’d been watching her face, but for once he couldn’t read her expression.
“I’m a little freaked out actually.”
“You don’t like it.” His shoulders slumped.
“No, I love it!” She assured him.
“Then why are you freaked out?”
“If you’d seen my apartment you’d understand. My living room and kitchen are decorated in a Southwest theme from the adobe coloured walls to the Indian patterned rug to the pictures of mesas and the cow skull on the wall.” She looked around the room again. “And my bedroom is done in these same colours.”
“You’re kidding right?” She shook her head. “Wow!”
“Yeah, like I said….freaky.”
He stood there and just stared at her for long moments then he shivered. “What do you think? Fate? Karma? Coincidence?”
“I don’t know. I’m not even going to try to analyze it. I’m just going to chock it up to great minds think alike and let it go at that.”
“I know another area where we’re totally in sync.” His voice dropped and his eyes darkened as he approached her.
“Really? Care to show me?” She purred.
“Anytime, anywhere, anyway you want baby.”
“Do we have time before dinner?”
“We’ll make time. Rosa will keep it warm. ” He assured her as he backed her towards the bed.
When the back of her legs hit the edge she lost her balance and fell backwards onto the bed with a little squeal.
“Ooh you’re as eager as I am. I like that.” He chuckled and climbed on the bed, coming over her on hands and knees.
As he crawled towards her, she used her elbows and heels to move up on the bed. She glanced to the side to see where she was. “Geesh! I’ll get lost in this thing!”
“Don’t worry darlin’. Just hang on tight to me.”
“I don’t know. That could be a little difficult.”
“You’re too far away.” She tugged on his arms.
He chuckled and sat back on his heels, straddling her hips. “Let’s get these clothes off and I’ll get close….real close.”
“You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” She purred.
“You first.” He reached for the hem of her shirt and tugged until she lifted her shoulders enough for him to pull it up and off. Sliding his hands underneath her back he released her bra and slipped it off, tossing it after her shirt. He stroked her from shoulders to waist, circling her breasts and rubbing his palms over her taut nipples. He filled his hands with her firm globes and kneaded gently, smiling when her back arched, pushing her flesh more firmly into his hands.
She tried to grasp his shirt, but his arms were in the way and he wouldn’t budge. Frustrated, she frowned, then smirked, slid her hands up his thighs until her fingers curled around the button fastening his pants. Stripping it open she slowly pulled down the zipper, reached inside his briefs, wrapped her hand around his rapidly hardening shaft and began to stroke him.
Groaning Richie placed his hands on the bed above her shoulders and leaned forward to kiss her. As his tongue invaded her mouth he rocked his hips augmenting the rhythm of her hand.
Now she could reach his shirt. With her free hand she tugged it up, sliding underneath to caress his chest and back.
Sitting up, he pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside. Easing her hand out of his pants, he shifted down so that he was now straddling her thighs. Grasping her hands, he held them out to the side and bent to devour her breasts with his mouth. Only when she was whimpering and undulating beneath him did he finally release her, kissing his way down her abdomen while his hands rapidly unfastened her jeans. But tugging them over her hips defeated him. They were too tight.
“How the hell did you get these on?” He growled.
“I thought you liked the way they fit.” She panted.
“They look great on you, but right now I want them OFF!”
Her chuckle turned to a gasp as he stood on the bed, grabbed two handfuls of denim and literally shook her out of the jeans, lifting her clear off the mattress in the process.
“Richie!” She squealed as she hung upside down for a moment before gravity - and Richie’s shaking – dropped her back onto the bed – minus her jeans.
“That’s better!” He smirked in satisfaction.
“That wasn’t very gentlemanly!” She huffed.
“Got the job done, didn’t it?”
He quickly stripped off her panties, and the rest of his own clothing, and nudging her legs apart dropped to his knees between them. With a hand under each knee he bent her legs up and open so that her thighs were flat on the mattress. He sat back on his heels and reached out with one finger to trace her moist slit.
Moaning she held her arms out to him. “Richie, come to me. I need to feel you.”
He slid two fingers slowly inside her, smiling as her hips arched towards him trying to drive him deeper. Bending his head he added to her torture by flicking her sensitive nub with his tongue. Feeling her thighs tense and start to close, he removed his hand, ignored her cry of protest and pressing her knees into the mattress, held her wide open while he tasted her thoroughly.
Head thrashing, Tori fought the waves of sensation that threatened to pull her under. She wanted to share it with him.
“Let go baby. Let it take you.” He rasped.
“But I want you to take me.” She protested.
“Oh I will, after.”
“But…RICHIE!!!” The cry was torn from her as his tongue penetrated her and the wave swamped her.
He immediately rose up and slid his hard shaft deep inside her, groaning at the feel of the pulsations of her release in the satin walls that engulfed him. He kept his movements slow and gentle in deference to her recent climax until he felt her arms close tight around him and her hips move with his.
Gasping, Tori wrapped her arms around Richie, pulled him down to lie fully on her and held on to the only bit of stability within her reach as the feel of him repeatedly filling her stripped away her awareness of anything but him.
“More!” She whispered in his ear.
When she tried to use her legs to pull him closer, he shook his head, pushed her knees down again and picked up speed, slamming into her over and over. Hearing her cries he slowed.
“Baby? Am I hurting you?”
“No. Don’t stop. Please Richie!” Her eyes were squeezed shut and she lifted her hips to grind against him.
“God baby! You feel so damn good!” He growled in her ear and picked up his pace again.
For long minutes the only sound in the room was the rasp of their breathing and the slap of flesh on flesh. The feel of her closing like a fist around him threatened his control but he was determined to wait for her. Sliding his hands under her buttocks he lifted her into his next downstroke, and was gratified to hear her scream. With his next thrust, her whole body went rigid and her teeth sank into his shoulder.
With a grunt he let go and poured into her, slowing his thrusts until he felt her muscles relax. He collapsed against her and kissed her neck.
She was caressing his back while she waited to regain her senses when she heard his breathing even out. Smiling she nudged him. “Hey don’t go to sleep, I’m hungry!
He groaned. “We can eat later.”
“Are you kidding? With the great meal Rosa’s making? I can smell it!” Her stomach notified them that it too could smell the wonderful aroma wafting up from the kitchen.
With a sigh, he rose up on his elbows to gaze down at her. Before he could say anything his stomach announced it’s appreciation of the evidence of Rosa’s skill.”
Tori grinned. “See? I’m not the only one who needs sustenance. Gotta keep our strength up after all.”
That had him grinning. “Well, when you put it that way, I guess food would be a good idea.”
Her eyes closed and they both groaned at the feel of him leaving her body. He glanced at her. “Are you sure you’re really hungry?”
She chuckled and dropped a kiss on his lips. “Yes. But hold that thought…..for dessert.”
He started to roll off the bed and stopped. “I thought we were having ice cream for dessert.”
He examined the quality of her grin, shivered and grabbed a robe.
“Aren’t you going to get dressed?”
“Naw, no sense getting dressed just to eat and then get undressed again. I’ve got another robe if you want it.”
“Thanks, but I’d prefer not to have my sleeves trailing through my dinner. I’m getting dressed.” She paused. “And I’d really like it if you would too.”
His brows rose. “Why?”
She blushed. “Because I’d rather Rosa didn’t know what we’ve been doing.”
He grinned. “Darlin’ she already knows. It doesn’t take that long to tour the house.”
“Still, it’s not the kind of first impression I want to make.”
“She won’t judge you because we….got distracted. Besides, she already likes you.”
He sighed….and reached for his jeans.
Tori woke the next morning and lay staring at the ceiling wondering what the day would bring. She was no longer terrified about meeting Ava – just very nervous. Despite Richie’s assurances – and Jon and Dorothea’s for that matter, she worried that the little girl wouldn’t like her. And even if she did….if things worked out with Richie, what kind of stepmother would she be? Most parents started with a baby and grew into the parental role along with the child. Here she was being presented with a ten year old! Sure she had lots of nieces and nephews so she’d had experience with children of all ages, but she’d never been responsible for raising them. And what if she and Heather totally disagreed on childrearing issues? For that matter what would her role be? Contributory parent or babysitting bystander? She guessed she’d just have to wait and see how things turned out.
“Looks like pretty serious thoughts for so early in the morning.” Richie’s voice, gravelly with sleep pulled her back to awareness.
She turned her head to smile at him. “It’s nearly ten o’clock, it’s not that early.”
“It is for me.” He pulled her closer for a good morning kiss. Leaning back he searched her eyes. “So what were you thinking about that had you looking so serious?”
“Just thinking about everything I needed to do today.” She didn’t mean to lie to him, but she knew he would just tell her not to worry about it, that everything would be fine. Besides, she didn’t want him to know she was beginning to think of him as a permanent fixture in her life. She wasn’t sure she was comfortable with that yet herself, and she didn’t want him to feel that she was pressuring him into a commitment. “So what’s the plan?”
“Well, Mom’s plane comes in about one, which will work out perfectly to pick Ava up after school. Are you coming with me or do you want to wait here?”
She thought about it. “I think I’ll wait here. Give the three of you at least a little alone time. I need to check supplies for tomorrow with Rosa anyway. Is there anything special that you want or any special Thanksgiving traditions I should be aware of?”
“Not really, just the usual, except…maybe….cookies?” He tried to look hopeful, but his yawn spoiled it. He scratched his chest. “Just give Rosa the menu and she’ll look after it. I haven’t found anything yet that she can’t cook.”
She stared at him. “You’re joking, right? You don’t actually expect Rosa work on Thanksgiving? She has her own family coming to celebrate with her.”
“Then who’s going to cook for us?”
She shook her head at him. “Welcome back to the real world Rockstar. We are.”
He shrugged and yawned again. “Whatever makes you happy sweetheart.”
She laughed. “Are you sure you don’t want to go back to sleep? What woke you up anyway?” She hadn’t moved, so she knew it wasn’t her.
“I could feel your mind working, and I was worried that you were still fussing about meeting Ava today.”
She didn’t know whether to call him on the lie or give in to the warm fuzzy feelings his concern evoked. She opted for both. With one finger, she traced his mouth, leaned over and kissed him softly.
“You felt my mind working?” Her disbelief was evident.
“Yep. I’m a very sensitive man.” He assured her. Then his stomach growled. “And I’m hungry.”
She laughed. “That I’ll believe. Come on, let’s get some breakfast.” Sliding out of bed she headed for the bathroom. When she emerged, wrapped in one of his robes he raised his brows. She knew what he was thinking. She shrugged. “It’s morning. Eating breakfast in a robe is acceptable.”
“Oh, okay. Glad you clarified the rules on meal attire for me.”
Picking up a pillow she threw it at him. “Smartass.”
His laughter followed her down the hall as she headed for the kitchen. He found her there a few minutes later, sipping juice and making toast while Rosa scrambled eggs.
“Let me guess. Breakfast is meant to be eaten in the kitchen and not the dining room.” He smirked as he sat down on stool.
“When it’s just us, yes.” She answered, handing him a glass of juice. “I’m not comfortable with a lot of formality for casual meals. There’s plenty of room here – as long as Rosa doesn’t mind us invading her domain.”
Rosa waved a hand. “No, no Miss Tori. Is only right. The kitchen is the heart of the house. Always my family gathered there.”
Tori smiled smugly and set a plate of toast in front of Richie.
“Why do I get the feeling that this is just the first of many changes in my life that you’re going to make?” He asked considering her thoughtfully.
“Do you mind?” She asked, suddenly very serious.
He shook his head slowly. “Not at all. What ever makes you happy angel.”
She frowned. “You will tell me if I do something you don’t like, won’t you?”
“I mean it Rich. I don’t want you going along with stuff just because you think it’ll make me happy. Promise me you’ll tell me about things you want or don’t like.”
He recognized the look in her eye. “I’ll tell you. I promise. For starters, would you grab me the strawberry jam please, then sit down and eat your breakfast.”
Tori was sitting by the pool with a book enjoying the sunshine, waiting for Richie to return with his mother and Ava when one of the staff came to tell her that there was someone at the door. Curious, she rose and walked inside. When she neared the foyer and saw the woman standing there, her smile faded and her stomach clenched. Stiffening her spine she stepped forward. This was one confrontation she wasn’t backing down from.
“So you’re the reason he stopped taking my calls.” The sneer was very evident in the tone.
“Actually, Denise, you are, but I’ll be happy to take the credit.”
Denise let her gaze skim over the woman in front of her. There was something vaguely familiar about her, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. While definitely not model or playmate material, she had a sinking feeling that this one could give her some competition. She needed to scare her off – quickly.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Tori Adams.”
“Where’s Richie?” Denise asked rudely.
“Picking up his mother and Ava. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving you know.” Tori answered dryly.
“Aren’t you going to show me in to have a seat and wait for him?”
Tori raised a brow. “No. We’re planning a few quiet family days before we go back to the tour. So, if you have a message for Richie, I’ll be happy to pass it on to him, otherwise I’ll be sure to tell him that you stopped by.” The dismissal was clear.
Denise frowned. “Richie will want me to wait for him. We have a lot of catching up to do – if you know what I mean. I know how much he’s missed me. Besides, this is not your house. You have no right to kick me out of it. I’ll have you fired for your impertinence.”
Tori didn’t even know where to start to respond. “Wow, David was right. Stubborn as a mule. Haven’t you gotten the message yet Denise? Richie doesn’t want to see you. He doesn’t want to talk to you. His life is none of your business anymore. I don’t work here, I’m here with Richie. And as for this not being my house, it’s more mine than yours. You see, I’m a part of Richie’s life by his choice – not by manipulation.” When she saw the surprised look on Denise’s face she snorted. “Oh yes, Richie told me all about how your ‘relationship’ came to be. You may have been able to take advantage of him when he was in pain and vulnerable, but trust me – the man is no fool. He’s very aware of who and what you are and what you did. Give it up Denise, he won’t be sucked in again.”
“You sound just like Jon.”
“Of course I do.” At the other woman’s obvious confusion she explained. “I may be an Adams by name, but I’m a Bongiovi by blood.”
The light came on. “You’re Jon’s sister.” That explained why she looked familiar. The sinking feeling got stronger. This was no weak willed nobody groupie that she could send packing with a few lies.
Tori nodded. “Yes, and Richie’s girlfriend. And I’m not about to be scared off by the likes of you. Now that we understand each other, go find some other poor schmuck to help you keep your name in the gossip rags and leave us alone.”
“You don’t like me. Why?”
“Because you encouraged your best friend to pull the plug on her marriage and then set out to steal her husband for yourself. Now maybe it was more euthanasia than murder, but still, you held her hand to the switch. Then you took advantage of a wonderful man who was hurting, watching his world fall apart around him. Friends like you I don’t need or want.”
“You shouldn’t believe everything your brother tells you.” Denise advised her snidely.
“He’s certainly given my more reason to trust his opinion than you have. And by the way, most of my information in regards to this subject, came from Richie, not Jon. Instead of supporting him and helping him, you used his emotional state for your own purposes and against him.”
“Are you implying that I made him drink?”
“No, no one forced it down his throat, but you certainly gave him enough reason to want to dull the pain and seek oblivion in a bottle.” Tori sighed and walked towards the door. “Look, Denise, Richie and I are together now, and we’re very happy. Neither one of us is going to fall for your lies or machinations. I would appreciate it if you would leave. You are no longer welcome in this house.” Holding the door open she looked at Denise expectantly.
Totally flummoxed that this woman wasn’t cowed by her persona, and awed by Tori’s confidence in her hold on Richie’s feelings, Denise found herself outside without really being aware of moving. The door slammed shut behind her.
Inside the house, Tori turned away from the door to find the entire staff standing there watching. She blushed at having been caught being, well, bitchy. Rosa was the first to grin at her. The rest soon followed, adding a round of applause for good measure.
Tori could help but smile. “Let’s hope she got the message this time.”
“Amen!” Cathy, one of the housekeeping staff replied. She’d been around the longest – except for Rosa – and had plenty of experience with Denise’s high handed, condescending, demanding tendencies. While she didn’t know much about this new woman the boss had brought home, she had at least been polite and gracious, and Rosa assured them that she was very down to earth and friendly, and not the least bit hoity. Cathy hoped she was right. Richie had been through hell and deserved to be happy.
Even though Tori didn’t regret what she’d said, she was still rattled by the whole episode. After pacing around a bit she headed for the studio.
That’s where Richie found her half an hour later when he got home – seated at the piano, running her fingers idly over the keys.
“There you are! We’ve been searching the whole house for you!” He turned to call out that he’d found her when she stopped him.
Assessing the shadows in her eyes and the frown on her face, he rushed over and knelt beside her. “What’s wrong?”
Tori glanced at the doorway. “Where are your mother and Ava?”
“Upstairs. We split up to search for you. Are you still uptight about Ava?”
She waved that aside and shook her head. “We had a visitor while you were gone.”
“Denise.” She watched his face carefully for his reaction.
He grimaced and raked a hand through his hair. “Oh, baby, I’m sorry.”
“Why? You didn’t invite her here.”
“No, but I should have been here to deal with her.” He gazed at her fearfully. “How bad was she?”
Tori smirked. “I didn’t give her a chance to get going.” She gave him the run down, word for word on her conversation with Denise, and watched as his face went from frowning to smiling to grinning, to outright laughter as she relayed how she evicted Denise from the house.
“Well, I guess I don’t need to worry about you being overwhelmed by the celebrities out here. If you can hold your own against her – which you did admirably by the way – then you can handle anyone Hollywood can throw at you.”
“You’re not upset by anything I said? I didn’t overstep myself?” She wanted clarification and reassurance.
He framed her face with his hands and brown eyes held blue. “Not at all! You were bang on the money with everything you said. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Let’s hope she finally got the message.” When she smiled he leaned forward and kissed her – thoroughly.
“Daddy you were supposed to holler if you found her! Nana! They’re in the studio!”