They hailed a cab outside the hotel and set off for the arena. Downtown traffic was unusually heavy and they were later arriving than Tori had planned. Opening the outside door, they walked down the hallway towards the doors that led into the arena. There were a few people already milling around – mostly fanclub members waiting to pick up their tickets. A staffer that was setting up the table noticed them and catching Tori’s eye, winked. She smiled back and pointed to the door. He nodded and spoke into his radio.
“Hey, is that Tori? I think it is!”
“No, it can’t be, what would she be doing out here?”
They could hear the whispers.
“Hi Tori!” Someone finally got bold.
She turned, smiled and waved. A group of girls came over asking for autographs and pictures. As the group grew she started glancing through the door behind her, watching for the security guard that would let her in.
“Ah, Tori?” Karin murmured.
“I know.” She was starting to feel a little trapped.
Thankfully, she heard the lock turn behind her. “Thanks girls. I’ve got to go now. Enjoy the show!”
With something close to relief, she slipped inside, pulling Karin with her. “Thanks Steve.” She smiled at the security guard. She shot a glance at Karin. “If you love me, not a word of this to Jon or Richie.” She murmured. Karin nodded.
“No problem Tori. I’m just glad you’re finally here.” Steve blew out a breath.
Her smile turned sympathetic. “Are they starting to get anxious?”
“A little, but David managed to talk them out of sending out a search party until after sound check.”
She snorted. “Where are they….nevermind.” She cut herself off as the strains of Last Man Standing could be heard throughout the arena.
They passed through a doorway and started down the stairs to the floor level. When the music stopped they could hear the guys talking.
“Any word yet?” Richie asked the closest staffer with a radio.
Tori answered first. “Call off the hounds, we’re here, safe and sound!”
Karin chuckled at the relief visible on the faces of the two men at the front of the stage. “Man, you weren’t kidding!”
Tori just grunted. When they reached the barricades at the front of the stage she put her hands on her hips and shook her head at them. Both men had the sense to look sheepish.
“Sorry.” Jon muttered. Richie just grinned and winked at Karin.
“Tori can you grab your mic and give me a voice level please?” Obie hollered.
She waved and walked around the side of the stage to do as requested. Karin took a seat and settle back to watch.
Afterwards, as they were heading back to the dressing rooms, Tori introduced Karin around. They dropped their coats in Richie’s room, then joined the rest in Jon’s.
“You should have said something, we could have gotten you your own jersey.” Jon commented when he saw Tori wearing the #1 Soul jersey that a lot of the fans had bought last tour.
“This is my own jersey.”
“I meant with your name on it.”
“It is her name – sort of.” Karin piped up, having gotten over her feeling of being star struck. “At least she’s got more of a right to use it then any of the fans out there.”
Jon laughed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Aren’t you going to be a little warm in that?” Richie asked with a smirk.
She shrugged. “If Jon can handle it I guess I can. I’m only on stage for a few songs. Besides, I’ve worn it to concerts before.” Turning so that she faced Richie, but her back was to the rest she glared at him. “It’s cooler than my jacket.” She murmured.
He grinned. “I’m surprised that you didn’t wear a turtleneck with it.”
“That would just put Shirley on the hunt for what I was hiding. I’m hoping that by letting him see one, it will put him off the scent.”
“So Karin, you’ve known Tori a long time.” David pulled up a chair beside her.
“Yes.” She answered warily.
“So…..you must have lots of stories.”
“Yes, I do, but unfortunately for you the ones you’re looking for are girlfriend stories….you know…the kind you take to the grave. I believe that you’re familiar with that concept.”
“Ah shit! She warned you off didn’t she.” David pouted. “Bela!”
“Shirley, leave her alone!” Tori admonished him. “She’s not going to give you any ammunition, so give it up!”
The time before they had to hit the stage was spent relaxing and talking, all the interviews having been finished earlier in the day. Karin was laughing at David and Tico bickering when Richie sat down beside her.
“So how are you enjoying your introduction to the Jovi family?”
She considered. “Well, you know how you said that you’re just normal men?”
“You’re more like big kids!”
He snickered. “Yeah, we are.”
“It’s good for Tori though. She hasn’t had a lot of laughter in her life the past few years.”
Both of them watched as Tori tried to settle the argument, and ended up flicking both men in the ear in exasperation.
“She fits right in with this crowd. She seems to actually enjoy the craziness and that’s rare. Heather hated it and even Dorothea only tolerates it up to a point.”
Karin smiled. “She’s happy. She’s found the missing part of herself and she’s finally where she belongs.” At Richie’s surprised look she explained. “She loves Bill and Helen and the family, but she never completely fit in. She doesn’t look like any of them, and her musical talent really stood out in a family that is next to tone deaf. She learned the family business in an attempt to please her dad and as a way to be able to maintain her independence.” She paused. “Do you know what she told me when she came back from Jersey?”
Richie shook his head.
“All she could talk about – aside from you - was John and Carol and Jon and Dorothea and Tony and Matt and the kids and how wonderful it was to sit in a room full of relatives and actually see glimpses of herself. You see, she’d never experienced that before. Then there was the band. You know she’s been a fan for years. Meeting all of you and actually being able to play and perform with you has been beyond her wildest dreams. She feels comfortable with you guys. You understand her in ways that no one in her life ever has.”
“I know the feeling.” Richie commented watching Jon and Tori wrinkle their noses at each other over some comment Jon made, the resemblance striking.
Karin helped Tori pick out the stage outfits for Richie, Jon and David, exclaiming over the size of Jon’s wardrobe, and wincing over the contents of David’s. While the guys were dressing the girls went down to the room where refreshments had been set up and grabbed a glass of wine. Tori introduced Karin to Paul and Obie and various other staffers who came up to say hello.
“Angel?! Wardrobe check!”
Chuckling, they headed back to the dressing rooms.
As the guys were about to take the stage, Richie paused and brushed his fingers over Tori’s cheek, staring down into her eyes. When she crooked a brow at him he just smiled and kissed her. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She kissed him again. “Have a good show.”
Karin could have watched the show from the front row, but opted instead to watch from the wings with Tori. Who knew when she would get the opportunity to see a concert from this perspective again. Watching the crowd react to Jon and Richie – and Tori - wasn’t something she got to see everyday and she was fascinated. When Tori finished her part of the show and stopped to shake hands with fans in the pit before returning to the side, Karin shook her head in amazement.
“What?” Tori asked handing her monitor over to a tech.
“You and Jon definitely share genes. You look like you were born to be out there.”
Tori grinned. “I love it! And he’s been a great teacher.”
“You can’t teach charisma and that connection with the audience.” Karin argued. “You’ve either got it or you don’t.”
“She’s right.” The tech said. Tori just stared at him as he walked away. She turned back to Karin and they both burst out laughing.
After the show, they had decided to have a quick bite and a couple drinks at the arena as they were flying out that night for Winnipeg. At one point Karin was able to get Jon and Richie alone.
“I wanted to thank both of you for everything.” She began.
“It’s our pleasure.” Richie assured her.
“We hope you enjoyed it.” Jon added.
Karin nodded. “Oh, I did, but that’s not all I was referring to.” She glanced towards Tori making sure she was out of earshot. “Thank you for her. I’ve never seen her this happy or…..at peace. She’s been my best friend for more years than I can count and has always been there when I needed someone. She’s a wonderful person who deserves much more than life had dealt her up until last summer. She’s found her niche and I couldn’t be happier for her.” She faced Jon. “Thank you for accepting her into your family and allowing her to be part of this.” She gestured around them.
“I just wish we’d known about her sooner. And as for this….she’s earned her right to be in the spotlight. And to be honest, it’s kind of nice to have family to share it with. Matt runs the fanclub, but it’s not the same as being on stage.” Jon replied.
She turned to Richie. “You already know what you’ve done for her.” She pointed a finger at him. “Don’t blow it!”
“Yes ma’am!” He grinned. “My daughter said practically the same thing. Believe me I intend to do my best to keep her happy.”
“Hey, what’s with the huddle?” Tori asked, approaching them. “Should my ears be burning?”
“Just thanking them and saying goodbye.” Karin replied. “I’ve got to get going.”
“Yeah, I’ve got to head out early tomorrow. The ‘rents are expecting me for lunch.”
“Ok. Well say hi to them for me and thanks for coming. I’ll call you soon, and we’ll plan a dinner when I get home.” Tori hugged her.
“Absolutely. And thanks again for everything. This has been a blast. And just think of the stories I have to tell when everyone at work asks what I did this weekend. I can hardly wait to see their faces when I tell them I hung out with rockstars!”
When Tori woke the next morning it took her a minute to orient herself and remember where she was. They had gotten in late the night before – or rather early this morning - and had literally stripped off their clothes and fallen into bed.
Turning her head she smiled at the sight that greeted her. Richie was lying on his back, one arm flung over his head, the other laying on his bare chest, blankets bunched at his waist. She watched him for several long minutes studying his features, relaxed in sleep, making him look much younger. Her inner devil had her glancing at the clock and deciding that it wasn’t too early.
She rolled towards him, careful not to wake him, and reaching out with one hand, stroked her fingertips very lightly from his collarbone to his waist, grinning when his hand twitched as if swiping at an insect. She eased the blankets down to his knees and trailed her fingers up his thigh, once again keeping her touch light, her grin widening when something else twitched.
Lifting her hand she contemplated her next step. The memory of one night in Jersey came back to her and she shook her hair to one side and slowly dragged it over his torso and groin, and watched, fascinated, as his shaft swelled, lengthened and hardened.
A glance at his face and the deep, even, rise and fall of his chest assured her he was still asleep, although a hint of a smile played around his lips. She wondered if he was dreaming, and if so, what about.
Richie was indeed dreaming. He was floating on a cloud when an angel came to hover over him. She stroked his body with her silken wings over and over in a sensuous torture, until every inch of his skin was sensitized and covered in a film of sweat. Then came the butterflies, drifting over him, sipping the moisture from his skin. Far from soothing him, the teasing touches sent shock waves through his body, hardening him even more. Pulse racing, he swallowed hard as the sensations focused on his shaft, alternating between the caress of wings and butterfly kisses. The feathery contact became a hot wetness that surrounded his swollen tip, drawing lightly. His erection was throbbing, aching for release and he knew the angel would bring him relief if he could only reach her, but his arms felt leaden and he couldn’t seem to lift them.
“Angel.” He whispered.
The vibrations against his ultra sensitive skin woke him with a jerk. His eyes flew open and he glanced down to meet twinkling blue eyes. She lifted her head, grinned at him, then resumed her ministrations, taking him deeper into her mouth, suckling harder. His fingers clenched in her hair and his back arched as he groaned. He took the sweet torture for as long as he could. Finally, shuddering, he pulled her head away, gripped her shoulders and pulled her up his body.
“Why did you stop me?”
“Because as much as I love the feel of your mouth on me, I want to be inside you…I need to be inside you.” His voice was a gravelly rasp against her lips. His tongue pushed between her lips to stab deep repeatedly, tasting her, tasting himself. Wrapping his arms around her, he rolled, bringing her beneath him and settling between her eagerly spread thighs. He reached between their bodies to check her readiness, fully expecting her to already be wet. She didn’t disappoint him. Sliding three fingers inside her he thrust them quickly back and forth, his thumb stroking her clit, increasing her arousal and stretching her. When her hips rose to his rhythm, her eyes dilated and her breathing came in pants, he replaced his fingers with the hard rod of flesh that she had teased to the breaking point.
They both moaned at the feel of her hot, moist sheath engulfing him. He held still for the space of two breaths while they shuddered together. Then he began to move. He tried to be gentle and go slow, but control was beyond him. She sensed it.
Wrapping her arms and legs tightly around him, she bit his earlobe. “Go ahead. Let go. Please!” She whispered. She wasn’t capable of more.
With a groan he surrendered, pounding into her almost violently. Gasping, she held on. It was all she could do. It was over in minutes. Unable to hold back any longer he slid his hand under her buttocks and tilting her hips more, lifted her into his downstroke, reaching even deeper and pushing her over the edge, quickly following.
They lay unmoving for long minutes just trying to breathe. When the world had stabilized he rose up on his elbows, smoothed her hair away from her face and kissed her gently.
“Well good morning to you too angel.” He grinned. “Not that I’m complaining, but what brought that on?”
She shrugged, reached up and ran her hand through his hair and caressed his cheek. “What can I say? I’m addicted and I needed my fix. Besides, I know you and mornings, but I figured you wouldn’t be too upset that I woke you up, if I made it worth your while.”
He chuckled. “And why did you want me awake?”
She shrugged again. “Because I was awake, and lonely.”
He kissed her again. “So what’s on the agenda for today madam tour guide?”
“Not a lot. It’s December in Winnipeg. It’s too damn cold to do much. We can go down and check out what’s happening at the Forks, and there’s always the casino, but other than that I think we just relax.”
“What about the whole Portage and Main thing?”
“You mean the wind tunnel that intersection creates? Yeah, we can go there if you want. You can’t cross the street there though. Pedestrians aren’t allowed to. There’s a tunnel underground.”
“So we can have a nap this afternoon then.” His dark eyes gleamed.
She chuckled. “Sure, but if you want to do that then we have to get moving. But first…”
“I know. Breakfast.”
She glanced at the clock. “More like lunch actually. And how did you know I was hungry?”
“Because you’re always hungry….afterwards.”
“Well, look at all the calories we just burned. I need to refuel….for next time.”
His laugh turned into a groan as he lifted up further to move off of her and their hips were pressed tighter together before he slid from her body and rolled to the side. He glanced at her.
“Are you sure you want to eat now?” Her eyes were closed, she swallowed heavily and licked lips suddenly gone dry.
Her growling stomach was his reply. He chuckled and reached for the phone.
“Okay, food first, fun later.”
The next day at the arena the guys had were doing interviews and Tori was in Richie’s dressing room, organizing what he would need when a staffer appeared in the doorway with a full shopping bag in his hand.
“Hey Tori. What do you want me to do with this?”
“That depends. What is it?”
“Richie’s mail. He hasn’t gotten around to hiring a new assistant yet, so we’ve been trying to help out, but with the tour we’re short of man power and we were hoping…..”
She stared at him for a moment. “And Richie thought it would give me something to do so that I wouldn’t go wandering around the venues.” At his surprised, sheepish look she snorted. “Why does everyone think that I’m stupid?” She sighed. “Just put it on that table. I’ll get to it as soon as I can.”
She was about halfway through the pile when Richie returned. Seeing what she was doing he tried to look surprised.
“Oh, did they bring my mail?”
She put down the letter in her hand and turned to face him. Her look said that she wasn’t buying it.
“As per your instructions, yes.” She sighed and shook her head in exasperation. “Why didn’t you just ask me to help you?”
He shrugged. “I didn’t want to bother you. It’s not your problem.”
“It’s not my…….you now what? We’ll get back to that. Let’s deal with your first point first. So your concern over me wandering around on my own when I’m bored finally outweighed your wish not to bother me?”
“Something like that.”
“Ok, so what do you mean, ‘it’s not my problem’?”
“This is work, not personal.”
“So? I still don’t see…..wait a minute. Do I hear echoes of a certain blonde here?”
He shrugged again. She sighed.
“Honey, will you sit down for a minute please?” She pulled a chair up next to her and waited until he sat and faced her. She ran her hand through her hair as she debated how to explain her feelings. “Couples are often called ‘life partners’. To me that doesn’t mean partners for life – we both know that all too often it doesn’t work out that way– but partners in life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can’t – and won’t - compartmentalize our lives and which parts we involve the other in. If I’m going to be a part of your life, then I’m interested in all aspects of it – personal and professional. Anything that concerns you, concerns me. Anything that I can do to help you, I’m happy to do.” She laughed shortly. “I understood having to fight my way into your personal life, but I have to say I never thought I’d have to fight to be included in your professional life.”
“Heather always wanted all this left at the gate. She didn’t want my profession interfering with family time.”
Tori snorted. “And was her profession left at the gate? Did she suddenly stop being an actress when she walked in the door? You leave the Rockstar at the gate, not the musician. There’s a difference.”
“You really don’t mind doing this?”
“Not at all.” At his skeptical look she continued. “Rich, some of my favorite times in Jersey this summer were going over this stuff with you. It’s how I learned so much about the non-band side of you. What your interests are, things that you care about, how you organize your life.” She smirked. “Besides, it’s very educational in other areas as well. Some of your mail is almost pornographic! Apparently aside from talking about your…um….assets…. to their friends and on the boards, some of your fans want to tell you what they’d like to with those assets – in graphic detail.”
“Oh baby, I’m sorry. Here, give them to me, I’ll get someone to sort them first before they give them to you.”
“Are you kidding? I’m getting some great ideas.”
“Yeah? Did they send pictures?” He caught her hand as it came near him for a swat and pulled her closer for a kiss.
“I’ll have to see if I can borrow a laptop periodically.” She mused out loud.
“To type up the replies.” At his shocked look she laughed. “To the invitations! Get your mind out of the gutter!”
He laughed. “It won’t be for long. I promise I’ll hire an assistant as soon as I can.”
She waved that aside. “It’s really not a problem. While you’re on tour, all there really is to deal with is the mail. After the tour we may need to take another look at it, but for now I think I can handle it.” She was actually grateful for something to do. And it made her feel even closer to him.
He leaned over and kissed her again. “Thanks a lot for doing this angel. I really appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome. Now, will you do something for me?”
“Don’t anticipate how I’ll react to anything based on Heather’s opinions.”
He grimaced. “Agreed. I’m sorry about that. I should know better by now. You are nothing like her.”
“You better mean that in a good way.”
He pulled her onto his lap. “Most definitely. I don’t think it gets any better than this.”
“Not with the door open anyway I hope.” Jon remarked dryly from the doorway. “Sound check.”
When they reached the stage they found one member missing.
“Where’s Shirley?” Richie asked.
“Colton called a few minutes ago. I think he’s still on the phone.” Jon answered.
“Can someone hit a few keys for me please?” Obie called.
Tori climbed up and ran a couple scales on both piano and organ keyboards.
“Let’s start with Runaway.” Jon looked at Tori, a challenge in his eyes.
She met his gaze, smirked, and glanced at Tico for the count in. When they finished the song – which she had played perfectly - she looked at Jon and stuck out her tongue. He laughed.
“Hey! You trying to steal my job Bela?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it Shirley. Just proving a point to my brother.” When she would have climbed down, David stopped her.
Joining her he motioned her to the piano side while he took the organ side. “Bad Medicine?” He crooked a brow at Jon, who grinned and nodded.
And the keyboard war began. By the time Jon finally called it quits, every staff member who didn’t have to urgently be somewhere else was hanging around the stage watching and listening – even the arena staff. The only one not surprised was Richie. He had heard her play often when they were in L.A. and knew how talented she was.
“Wow Bela. I knew you could play, but not like that!” David was impressed.
“Yep, my angel’s got magic fingers.” Richie smiled smugly.
She snorted. “I’m not Julliard material, but thank you.” She ignored Richie’s comment.
“Better watch it Shirley or she will be stealing your job.” Tico warned him. “Seriously Tori, you’re really good.”
“Thanks.” She saw the look on Jon’s face and pointed a warning finger at him. “DON’T get any ideas! I’ve agreed to sing, but that’s it.”
“But…” He began, then looked in her eyes. “Okay, okay.” He let it go – for now.