The next morning Tori woke feeling amazingly well rested, despite jet lag…..and Richie. They had come upstairs last night to find her suitcase lying on Richie’s bed. Accepting Ava’s unspoken message he set out to show Tori how happy he was to see her in a much slower, gentler and more thorough way than the car had allowed. Just the memory had her shivering and her skin tingling.
She slipped from under his arm, kissing him lightly when he frowned at her movement. His brow smoothed out and the corners of his mouth curved into a faint smile at the touch of her lips.
Slipping on her robe – she remembered to bring her own this time – she cinched the belt tight as she padded downstairs to the kitchen. Rosa greeted her with a cup of coffee and she took a seat on a stool next to Ava at the island.
“Morning Bean. Did you sleep well?”
“Morning Tori. Yes I did thanks.”
The three of them compared their Christmas’ as Rosa made breakfast. Tori was just finishing hers when Richie entered the kitchen. Rosa looked at her watch and her brows rose in surprise, a smile tugging at her lips as she turned to pour him a cup of coffee.
“How come you’re up so early Daddy?”
“I wanted to see what my girls were up to.”
Tori crooked a brow at him skeptically. He slid onto the stool next to her and leaned over to kiss her good morning.
“I got cold. You weren’t there to snuggle up to.” He murmured.
She grinned and stroked his cheek with her hand. He caught it and pressed a kiss to her palm.
“So what time is Kate arriving?” He asked his daughter.
“About two. Since you’re up, can we have another guitar lesson this morning?”
“Sure. Just let me grab some breakfast.”
That afternoon Tori stood with Ava at the door as Kate and her mom pulled up. Introducing herself, she invited Kate’s mom, Gail, in for a cup of coffee. She figured that Gail would have heard about her and would be at least a little curious and maybe a little concerned about the woman who would be looking after her daughter. For her part, Tori thought that getting to know people here – particularly the parents of Ava’s friends – would be a good thing to do.
They were sitting in the living room, getting to know each other, the girls were in another room playing, when Richie walked in.
“Hi Gail. How’s life with Speilburg?” Gail’s husband was a director. He had a few respectable films to his credit, but was still waiting for his big breakthrough masterpiece.
“Hi Richie. We’re good thanks. I see you’ve decided to keep things in the family, so to speak.” She winked at Tori.
“Yeah. I figured if I can sustain a relationship for over twenty years with one Bongiovi, trying it with another sounded like a good idea.” He was standing behind the couch where Tori was sitting. When she tilted her head back to look at him, he grinned and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “Angel, did you bring the latest batch of my mail?”
“Yes. I put it in your office.” BJM had taken to couriering her packages a couple times a week.
“Thanks.” He started to turn away and stopped. “I have an office?”
“Yeah. It’s that room beside your studio. You know, the one with that big piece of wooden furniture that has drawers in it. People call it a desk.” She retorted dryly.
He shuddered. “That sounds too much like a real job.”
Gail laughed. “Are you his personal assistant too?”
“Oh, she assists me personally, alright.” He waggled his brows and stepped out of striking distance. “But she’s just helping me out right now. She actually has a real job. She runs her father’s business up in Canada.” Pride was evident in his voice.
“Really? What kind of business?” Gail asked.
“It’s just a small retail business – kind of a general store.”
“Don’t let her snow you Gail. It’s a very successful business and she’s very good at it. Even Jon listens when she talks about merchandizing.”
Gail looked impressed. Tori just waved it aside and changed the subject.
“So what project do you have in the works?” Gail was a film producer.
Richie frowned, but didn’t say any more.
They were upstairs getting dressed for the party when Richie raised the subject again.
“Everything okay at the store?”
“It’s fine. Why?”
“Well, you changed the subject pretty quick with Gail this afternoon and I wondered if there was a problem.”
“No, everything’s fine. I just didn’t think that a movie producer would be interested.” She adjusted the straps of her dress in the mirror, avoiding his eyes.
“Gail’s not like that.” He frowned. He was sure there was something she wasn’t telling him. Before he could pursue the issue, she distracted him, approaching him and turning her back, revealing the open zipper.
“Zip me up?”
He obliged, then turned her to face him, his frown deepening as his gaze swept her from head to foot and back again.
“Damn baby! I’m not sure I want to let the wolves get a look at you. Maybe we should just stay home.”
She checked her appearance in the mirror, running her hands over her hips, smoothing the material.
“Don’t you like it?”
The lavender dress had a low – too low for Richie’s comfort – square neck line, held up by inch wide shoulder straps. The slinky material clung faithfully to her curves, right down to the mid-thigh hem. It was a little more revealing than what she would normally wear, but she thought she look sexy and she needed the extra boost of self-confidence if she was going to spend the evening at a Hollywood party and not embarrass Richie.
“I like it just fine. My libido would like it even better if it was lying on the floor.” He assured her. “You look beautiful. I just don’t want to share.”
She kissed him briefly – the four inch heels on her sandals making it easier to reach his lips. “Thank you.” She handed him her necklace and turned sot that he could fasten it around her neck. Adding the earrings and bracelet, she decided she was ready and turned her attention to him.
“You look pretty damn good yourself.” She adjusted the collar of his black button down shirt. He was all in black tonight, the pants tight in all the right places and the jacket fit his broad shoulders perfectly. “Almost sinful actually, all in black.”
He smirked. “I was going to wear a purple shirt, but when I saw your dress I thought it would clash, so I decided to go all black and be the backdrop to your jewel.”
They had been in the ballroom about half an hour when Tori looked at the crowd around them and snickered. She wondered if someone was going to call the meeting to order. Within her view were Heather and Denise…and she had seen Cher in the crowd earlier.
“What’s he doing leaving you standing here alone?” The annoyed sounding voice came from behind her.
Turning, she grinned. “Tony! I didn’t know you were coming here tonight!” She hugged him.
He grunted. “Good thing I did. Where’s Richie? What’s he thinking, leaving you to face the wolves alone - especially in that dress?”
She rolled her eyes. “Jeesh! You’re worse than Jon. Relax. He went to get me a drink. It’s so crowded at the bar we decided I’d be more comfortable waiting here for him.”
“Well, I’ll just stay with you until he gets back.”
She didn’t bother wasting her breath arguing, she just laughed. “At least stop frowning. You’ll make people think we’re having a family feud!
“Tony! Hey man. I didn’t know you were coming here tonight.” Richie greeted him handing Tori her drink.
“See, you can quit being the protective older brother now. Richie’s back.”
Tony actually smiled at that. “Sis, I will always be the protective older brother…well, one of them anyway.”
“Richie? Hey baby, I thought that was you!” The voice was unmistakable, and had Tori stiffening a little. She wasn’t sure why, but this ex intimidated her.
“Hi darlin’!” Richie responded, hugging her. “Honey this is Cher, Cher, my girlfriend Tori Adams and her brother Tony Bongiovi.”
“Hi.” Tony replied, taking her hand and kissing her cheek in the accepted Hollywood greeting.
“Hi. Nice to meet you.” Tori shook her hand.
“I’ve been looking forward to meeting the woman who is willing to take on Smartass Sambora here and all his shit – and send the manipulating tarts on their way while she’s at it.” Cher nodded in Denise’s direction – who’s eyes were shooting daggers at them. Tori’s brows rose in surprise. Cher considered her for a moment and took a quick glance around. “When are you calling the meeting to order?”
Tori burst out laughing. “I know I’m the newest member of the club, but does that make me the President?”
“Well, it’s either you or me honey, and I concede to you.”
Richie was confused. “I don’t get it.”
“Baby, you have and you are.” Cher assured him, confusing him more, and sending Tori into peals of laughter.
Richie looked at Tony who just shrugged.
Tori finally took pity on him. “Honey, take a look around at the women in this corner of the room. Who do you see?”
He glanced around. “Heather, Denise…”
“And us.” She finished for him. He nodded, still not clueing in. “And what do Heather, Denise, Cher and I all have in common?”
It took him a minute, then he laughed. “Oh okay, now I get it!” Then he frowned. “I don’t think it would be in my best interest for that particular ‘club’ to get together.”
“Oh I don’t know. It might be helpful for me to compare notes.” Tori mused.
“Anytime.” Cher offered.
Richie groaned. Tony and Tori laughed. Then a familiar face in the crowd had her turning quickly to Richie.
“How are you and Charlie getting along these days?”
He shrugged. “Ok I guess. I really haven’t seen him much. Why?”
“Because he’s heading this way.”
“Is this the rehab corner?” Charlie greeted them.
Richie stiffened slightly. So did Tori.
“You’d be more familiar with that than us, what do you think?” She retorted.
Charlie studied her for a long moment. “Beauty and brains. No wonder Denise hates you. Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m not going to attack you or your boyfriend. In fact, I wish I’d been there to see you throw the bitch out.” He reached out to shake hands with Richie, who introduced him to Tony – he already knew Cher.
They all chatted for several minutes, then Cher excused herself to continue mingling. She winked at Tori.
“Let me know when the next meeting is.”
“Definitely!” Tori laughed.
“I’ve got to get moving too sis.” Tony kissed her.
“Are you coming to Jersey for New Year’s?” He nodded. “Okay, I’ll see you then. Bye Tony.”
When Charlie went to leave he took Tori’s hand in his. “I’m not sure what you see in this guy...” He nodded at Richie. “But if you really want him, don’t let her get in your way. Don’t take any crap from her. And don’t believe anything she says. Continue as you’ve started and you should be fine. When she sees that she can’t win she’ll back off. It just might take some time.”
She’d hardly gotten over that conversation when Heather approached them.
“Did you leave my daughter home alone?”
Richie gave her a withering glance. “No, Rosa’s keeping an eye on our daughter.”
“You left her with staff?”
“And who would she with if she was at your house? At least tonight she’s got Kate to play with.”
Her brows rose. “Gail actually let her stay with you and your….girlfriend?” She slanted a glance at Tori – the first since she walked up to them.
Tori smiled as sweetly as she could. “Gail and I had a nice visit over a cup of coffee this afternoon.”
“Hmmpf. When are you bringing Ava back?”
“Sunday. We’ll drop her off on our way to the airport.” Richie answered.
Tori blew out a relieved breath when Heather walked away, only to suck in another one as Denise appeared.
“Hi baby. Why haven’t you returned my calls?” She tried to hug and kiss Richie, but he held her away.
“I’ve been busy.”
“With her?” She asked derisively.
She pouted. “Have you hired a new assistant? Who’s looking after you on tour?”
“I am.” Tori informed her firmly.
Richie wrapped his arm around Tori and pulled her close. “And you’re doing a wonderful job too baby.” He kissed her.
Realizing that she wasn’t going to gain any ground tonight, Denise turned on her heel and walked away.
Tori sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. He hugged her. “Look at it this way. The worst is over now.”
She looked at him and snorted. “I need a drink.”
He chuckled. “Come on.” Taking her hand he led her to the bar.
As soon as she got into the car, she reached down, slipped off her shoes, sighed in relief, and rubbed her aching feet. Richie watched her.
“Baby, what those shoes do to your legs is downright sinful.”
“What they do to my feet is downright painful!”
“You try standing on tiptoe for four hours and see how your feet like it!”
“Then why do you wear them?”
She slanted him a look. “Because you like what they do to my legs.”
He grinned. When he pulled up in front of the house, he came around to help her out. Opening the door, he reached in and scooped her up in his arms and carried her in and up to their bedroom.
“What are you doing?” She wasn’t complaining, just curious.
“Giving your feet a rest after all their hard work tonight.”
Setting her on the bed, he turned her to unzip her dress and pull it from her. He started to throw it aside, reconsidered and walked over to lay it over the back of a chair.
“Thank you.” The dress was too expensive to spend the night in a pile on the floor. He obviously was on a mission, so she decided to just sit back and see what he had in mind. When he started strip off his clothes she pulled down the bed covers and settled back on the pillow to enjoy the show.
Naked, he returned to the bed to remove her bra and panties before moving to straddle her hips. At her look he grinned. “Relax and enjoy Sambora’s special cure for sore feet.”
“Ah babe, I hate to break it to you, but my feet are on the other end.”
He chuckled. “Patience angel, we’ll get there. It’s all part of the cure.”
He leaned over to kiss her. Keeping the pressure light, his tongue teased her lips apart and dipped in to taste her, repeatedly, thoroughly. At last he raised his head and turned his attention to her arms. Starting at her shoulder he dotted open mouthed kisses along the soft skin of her inner arm all the way to her wrist. Lifting her hand to his mouth he sucked one finger deep while his hands kneaded and massaged her biceps and forearms. When he reached her hand he pressed along the tendons releasing tension she wasn’t even aware was there. Taking each finger in turn he sucked on them, scraped his teeth down the sensitive sides and nibbled on the tips. He set her arm down on the bed and reached for the other one. He gave it the same treatment, smiling when he saw her shiver and her nipples harden with each pull of his mouth.
He gazed down at her chest and ran his hands slowly, yet firmly from her shoulders to her waist, avoiding her breasts to concentrate on relaxing the taut muscles of her abdomen. He paused there and just looked at her for a long moment before running the palm of one hand back and forth across her nipples causing her back to arch, silently begging for more. With a smile he obliged, molding his hands to her mounds and kneading gently.
“Mmmmmm” She murmured.
“Like that do you?”
Without waiting for an answer he bent and took a hard tip into his mouth, first suckling lightly then backing off to nibble and tug on it. Her hands threaded through his hair and urged him closer, a small cry burst from her throat as he complied and suckled strongly. He lifted his head and turned slightly to repeat his torture on her other breast.
Shifting back he kissed and licked his way down to her hips. Nudging her legs apart he knelt between and glanced up at her with a grin. She gazed at him through eyes slitted by passion and smiled back. He lifted one knee onto his shoulder and dotted kisses down the inside of her thigh, then followed with his hands working the tight muscles until they were loose, then repeating the process on her other leg, but never touching her where she wanted to feel him most.
He moved down even further to work on her calves. Here he pressed a little harder, feeling the knots caused by her shoes. When he reached her ankles he scraped his teeth across the thin skin where he could feel her pulse beat, then set to work on her feet. Strong fingers dug deep, pressing along the tendons, releasing the tension there.
She shook her head. “No. God babe, you really do have magic fingers!”
Chuckling he moved to the side, gripped her hips and flipped her over onto her stomach. Sweeping her hair to the side he leaned down to whisper in her ear. “Glad you’re enjoying it.”
Nuzzling her neck he straddled her again. Sitting up, he set to work on her shoulders and the long muscles of her back, eliciting more groans. He bent and kissed her warm skin, and ran his tongue along the groove of her spine. Reaching the base, he continued on, cupping her buttocks and kneading the firm cheeks. Hearing her even breathing he decided to see if she’d fallen asleep. With a smirk he spanked her once.
“Hey! You’re supposed to be easing my pain, not causing more!”
“Just making sure you’re still awake.” He chuckled and pressed a kiss to the offended area.
She was awake alright. Her body was a quivering mass of jelly, longing for his next touch, but she was definitely awake.
Once again he nudged her legs apart so that he could kneel in between. He smoothed his hands from her knees to the top of her thighs and flexed them. Sitting back on his heels he reached out to trace her cleft with one finger, feeling her hot moistness. He circled her nub with his fingertip, smiling when her legs flexed further apart in involuntary response.
“Richie, please!” She whispered, her breathing already laboured.
He circled her entrance for several moments before he slowly penetrated her. Adding a second finger he began to stroke her, delicately massaging her tender flesh.
Moaning she spread her legs even further, giving him complete access to her, her hips moving in time with his fingers. For long minutes he teased her, until she was almost sobbing.
“Please!” She begged again. “I can’t take anymore. I need you to fill me.”
He withdrew his fingers and reached for a fat pillow. Lifting her hips he slid it underneath. Stretching his long body over hers, he laced their fingers together and traced her ear with his tongue as he slid inside her.
She gasped and squeezed his fingers at the feeling of being so completely filled. In this position, weighted down by his body, she couldn’t move much. She could only absorb each heavy thrust.
He rode her slowly, deeply, heavily, pulling almost all the way out before surging back in. For long minutes the room was silent except for her low moans and his harsh panting breaths.
She was trembling and desperate for release. She squeezed him intimately.
Groaning he released her hands, planting his on the mattress and rose up, changing the angle of his thrusts.
“Yes!” She cried out, quivering on the brink.
It still wasn’t enough for him. He pulled back ignoring her protest. Grabbing another pillow he slid it beneath her, raising her hips even higher. Fitting himself to her he thrust deeply again.
She screamed, just remembering to muffle it in her pillow so as not to wake the girls. Shaking, shuddering, she let her climax over take her as he continued to ride her.
He bit back his own shout as she clamped tight around him and demanded he join her in heaven – which he swiftly did, slowing his thrusts until he had emptied himself completely inside her.
He rolled off her and they both lay panting, waiting to come back to earth. Finally he looked over at her.
“So….do your feet still hurt?”
She cracked an eye open to gaze at him. “Right now, I’m not feeling any pain at all.”
He grinned. “See? Sambora’s cure. Work’s everytime.”
“Is it only for sore feet?”
He thought about it for a minute. “Nope. It’s pretty much a general cure.”
“Mmmmm. You’re pretty handy to have around. I think I’ll keep you.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth she froze, hoping he would take it in a playful way and not as a commitment. Not that she didn’t feel that way, she just didn’t want him to feel obligated to reciprocate.
“I’m available anytime you need me babe.” He assured her. Pulling her into his arms, he settled her against him and drifted off to sleep. Releasing a relieved breath she followed suit.
Tori settled into her seat on the plane and sighed. Richie smiled and reached over to take her hand, lacing their fingers together. She turned to him.
“Maybe we should have stayed here for New Year’s.”
“She’ll be fine. I’ll be back in a couple days, then she’ll be with me until we leave for Japan. Besides, Jon would have my head if I didn’t bring you to Jersey. It’s your first New Year’s with your new family and you should be with them.”
“No buts. Honey I love that you care so much about my daughter, but there’ll be other New Year’s that you can spend with her. She’s not being deprived. You just spent the last three days making sure she felt appreciated and wanted and special – to the point where I was starting to feel neglected.”
She snorted. “Yeah, right. That’s why I’ve been running on about five hours sleep a night. You’ve really been deprived.”
He grinned and shrugged. “Is it wrong for me to want some of your time during the day too?”
She reached out with her free hand to caress his cheek. “No, it’s not, and I’ll keep that in mind. I promise.” Leaning over she kissed him.
Sitting back she sighed again. She knew that what Richie said was right, but the look on Ava’s face when they left her at her mother’s haunted her. The young girl had looked so sad and forlorn. The fact that Tori couldn’t answer when she asked when they would see each other again didn’t help. Richie had jumped in, promising to bring her out as soon as their schedules allowed, but while appreciated, that response didn’t satisfy anyone.
He watched the expressions crossing her face and squeezed her hand. “Hey. We’ll work it out. Everything will work out. You’ll see.”
The unshed tears shining in her eyes stunned him. “I promise. Angel, what’s the matter?”
She shook her head. “I guess I’m just tired.” For one of the very few times in her life, her courage deserted her. She knew she should talk to him about the future, but something held her back. Part of it might have been his response to Ava’s question. While he talked about spending time together in the future, he also spoke like they would continue to be in different parts of the world.
Leaning back the seats he tugged her into his arms. He had considered the bedroom in the back briefly, but didn’t trust himself to leave her alone, and she needed rest. “Sleep honey. You’ll need to be well rested and sharp for the next couple days. Shirley’s coming.”
Chuckling, she settled against him and closed her eyes, deciding a nap wasn’t a bad idea. She woke up when the pilot announced they were preparing to land. Sitting up she looked at Richie in surprise.
“I slept the whole way? Guess I was tired! I’m sorry honey. Why didn’t you move me? You must have been really uncomfortable sitting like that for so long.”
“Darlin’ I’m never uncomfortable when I’m holding you.” He grinned, then admitted. “I slept a good part of the trip myself.”
When the plane came to a stop they rose and leaving the plane, quickly cleared security and climbed into the car that was waiting for them.
“You’re getting pretty good at that.” He commented.
“The whole private plane, speed through security thing.”
She shrugged. “There are definitely some benefits to being connected to rockstars when you travel!”
They arrived at the Bongiovi estate and stopped at the main house to say hello before heading down to the guest house. They found the house in an uproar. Kids were crying adults were pleading , even Copper was getting into the act, adding his bark to the mix.
“Maybe we should go on to the guest house and come back later.” Tori suggested.
“Hell no. This is all because of you.” Jon informed her. “Next time, I’m not telling the kids when you’re coming.”
“Me? How can it be my fault? I just got here.”
“That’s the problem. Jake and Romeo refused to go to bed until you got here. They’re tired and cranky, and Dorothea’s at the end of her rope with them.”
“What about you?”
“I gave up an hour ago.”
“And holed up in your office out of the fray.” She guessed.
He grinned. “Of course! I ain’t stupid!”
She shook her head and went to help her sister-in-law.
“Hey! What’s all the noise about?” She pitched her voice to be heard over the din as she walked into the den.
“Aunt Tori!” Four voices cried in unison.
“Oh thank God!” Was Dorothea’s greeting.
Richie stood in the doorway with Jon and watched Tori get engulfed by the Bongiovi children.
“Hey what about me? Or don’t uncles rate anymore?”
“Uncle Richie!” The kids answered on cue and ran to hug him.
After allowing about ten minutes of catching up time, Dorothea tried again. “Ok boys. Bedtime.”
The pouts came out again, but one look at their mother’s face convinced them that this time she wasn’t going to be persuaded. Jake looked at his aunt and “uncle” hopefully.
“Will you read us a story?”
“Sure.” Tori replied. She started for the doorway with Romeo in her arms and glanced at Richie.
“Come on buddy. Hop on and I’ll give you a ride.” He offered Jake.
With a grin – and his father’s help – the five year old climbed on Richie’s back and they joined the procession up the stairs.