Friday, May 22, 2009


Almost two years later.

“Stevie! Don’t go so far Peanut. Come back this way.” Tori called to her almost two year old son who was wandering down the beach, stopping every now and then to look at a shell or a stone or whatever caught his eye. He gave no sign of hearing his mother. She struggled to get up, gave up and collapsed back on the blanket. “You’ll have to chase him down Rich. I’m too fat.”

Richie chuckled, leaned over to kiss his wife, and rested one hand on her swollen belly, awed as always by the feel of his unborn child’s movements. “I like you fat.”

“That’s because you don’t have to deal with the bloating, swollen ankles and a tiny person with Sambora feet stomping all over your bladder.” She snorted. “Go get him please.”

“Yes dear.” He jumped to his feet and ran after his son. Stevie saw him coming and took off running as fast as his little legs would carry him. Richie caught him and swung him high in the air.

Tori smiled as she watched father and son play, the sounds of Stevie’s giggles drifting back to her on the warm breeze. She closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sun. It seemed the sun was always shining on her these days. Work was going well. Sales were up and the fans seemed to be really pleased with the new merchandise. The album had been a huge success, garnering the guys another Grammy and an American Music Award. But more importantly, her marriage was once again rock solid. There had been a few rough spots during the first year after ‘The Near Fatal Spring’. The tour had been hard, particularly for Tori. She missed, not only Richie, but being a part of the group. The North American legs weren’t too bad since he was home every couple of weeks or so, and during the west coast swing they all descended on her, but the European leg seemed to last forever. Richie had called every day, which helped, but it wasn’t the same as being together. The guys had tried to help too by sending regular pictures and e-mails, but David was the one who managed ease her feelings of being left out the most. He’d taken the Dracula cut out that he’d found in Edmonton, put her face on it, and made sure that it travelled around with them – including the after parties – and sent her the pictures. It spent the nights in Richie’s room. Tori had shipped the Kermit, Scarecrow and Wicked Witch tree ornaments she’d picked up before the wedding to various hotels they would be staying at so that they would be waiting for David when they arrived....and serve as warnings if he didn’t behave. He kept them on the table in his dressing room. Still, she was glad when it was over and Richie was home again.

Richie set Stevie on his shoulders and headed back towards his wife. His beautiful, smart, funny, talented, loving, gloriously pregnant wife. Looking back, he couldn’t believe how stupid he’d been and how close he’d come to losing her. He thanked God every day that she loved him enough to give him a second chance. They were closer than ever now, despite the tour that had taken him away for large chunks of time. He hadn’t liked leaving his growing family, but she’d assured him they’d be there waiting for him when he came home and that he’d needed to go to his thing and answer the call of the music. The first night he’d come home he’d found her sound asleep, and decided not to wake her. He’d just slid in beside her, curled his body around hers and gone to sleep. That was the last time he did that. She’d made it very clear that it was unacceptable, and that if he ever came home again and didn’t wake her, the consequences would not be pretty. He wasn’t brave – or stupid – enough to take the chance. The night of their first anniversary, when she’d told him that she wanted a new start, wanted to forget about what had happened, and just focus on the future, he’d felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders – and his heart, but he knew that it was easier said than done. He knew he had to help her, that he couldn’t quit working at it. Carol and John’s advice kept echoing in his head. While he was away, he spent hours on the phone, recounting every little detail of his days. He bought her little, often silly gifts and either brought them home or had them shipped so that she would know he was thinking about her. It wasn’t until the tour was finished and he’d been home about a week that he’d known for sure that they were going to make it. That was when she’d told him she wanted another baby. He was still living on Cloud 9.

“Ma! Ma!” Stevie had spied his mother. “Da! Ma!”

“Yes Peanut, Daddy sees her. There’s mommy.”

Tori heard Stevie’s yell and raised up on her elbows – it was as much upright as she could get without help – and smiled. “There’s my two favourite men.”

Suddenly, Stevie looked beyond the blanket his mother was lying on, towards the street and wiggled to get down, clapping his hands against his father’s head in excitement. “Va! Va!”

“Hi Peanut.” Ava plopped down on the blanket beside her stepmother.

“Hi Bean.” Tori turned to look in the direction Ava had come from. “How did you get here?”

“Mom dropped me off. We saw the Hummer.” Ava didn’t protest the childish nickname, even though she would be fourteen that fall. She knew that in the Jovi family, nicknames followed you for life. And if she’d had to wait for her Uncle Shirley to come up with one it could have been a whole lot worse. She leaned over to pat her next sibling. “Hi Sweetpea. Can I stay at your place this weekend?”

“Of course. You know you’re always welcome.”

Richie set Stevie down and studied his daughter. “What’s wrong?”

Ava shrugged and hugged Stevie as he climbed into her lap. “Mom and I had a fight.”

“Need some cooling off space?” Tori guessed. It wouldn’t be the first time. And it wouldn’t be the last. She couldn’t put all the blame on Heather either. Teenagers could be tricky to deal with at the best of times.

Ava nodded. “She said to call her later.”

“Anything you want to talk about?”

“It’s just the usual. She doesn’t like what I wear, how I talk, what I like to do.”

Tori nodded. Normal teenage stuff. Nothing to be too concerned about. She’d get the details later – both sides. Heather was often at a loss when it came to dealing with Ava, and Tori had gotten used to playing mediator. While they would never be great friends, they had an unspoken agreement. Heather kept her hands off Richie, and Tori helped Heather maintain a decent relationship with her daughter. She exchanged a glance with Richie. “What’s everybody want for dinner? Rosa’s off today.”

“I’ll cook.” Richie offered. He’d learned to sit back – unless called upon - and let Tori handle Ava and her little dramas. She seemed to have a knack for it. His job was to protect, comfort and love as needed and to the best of his ability. He seemed to have a knack for that.

As they sat and discussed possible dinner menus, Richie glanced around at his family and smiled. The dark tunnel he’d lived in since his divorce and his father’s death had opened to reveal a very bright light. He had two beautiful children, a third on the way, his career was going strong, and he’d found the other half of his soul to share all of it with. Life was great....and he’d learned not to take the good times for granted. He was going to enjoy every minute of it.

Tori reached over to take his hand. He squeezed it. Their eyes met and she smiled. She’d had a feeling when she received the call from the Children’s Aid Society that fateful day close to four years ago, that it heralded a major change in her life. But she never could have predicted or guessed just how big a change it would be. She may have given up a kidney, but she’d gained far greater treasures than she could have ever dreamed of – a great career, a wonderful family, and above She couldn’t ask for anything more. She had it all. And she was going to hold on tight.

There you have it: 1year, 8months, 278 chapters first Richie story. My little story turned into an epic and I thank you all for sticking with me throughout this long adventure. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Now I’m going to take a little break, get caught up on everyone else’s stories, and finally give in to Jon’s pestering – apparently he thinks it’s his turn again.

So Tori, Richie – and the family - and I say so long for now....but not for long. And who knows.....Tori and Richie may even return for short visits now and then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter 278

When Richie didn’t return immediately, Tori made the rounds of the first floor, shutting off lights and checking the locks on the doors. She finished her circuit at the front door and had just turned the lock when an arm snaked around her waist and pulled her back against a hard body.

“Trying to escape me beauty?” His breath was hot in her ear.

“You were gone so long I thought you didn’t want me anymore.” She turned serious for a moment. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah. He just wanted a little bedtime music. He’s playing with his favourite toy.”

“His feet.” They said it in unison and laughed.

The arm around her tightened. “I tole ye before, beauty, I’ll never let you go!” Spinning her around, he hefted her over his shoulder.

She bit back a squeal as the world tilted. A smirk twisted her lips as she gazed at the sight in front of her, then slid her hands into his back pockets and used his ass to brace herself. He almost missed a step when she squeezed. His hand came up to spank her, then rub the offended area. She sucked in a breath.

In their bedroom she noted that he’d pulled the covers back so that they pooled on the floor at the foot of the bed and set the baby monitor on her bedside table. She could hear Stevie babbling to himself and music playing in the background. It took a couple seconds before she recognized that it was playing Undiscovered Soul . She grinned.

Stopping in front of the dresser and mirror, Richie shrugged her off of his shoulder and let her slide slowly down the front of his body until she could stand. He turned her to face the mirror and ran his hands down her arms from shoulder to wrist. Grasping her hands, he placed them on the outside of his thighs. He didn’t say, but she understood that they were to stay there. With long strokes he caressed her torso, removing her clothing as he went. When she was naked, he walked around her in a circle, silently, examining her. One hand slid down her back to cup and knead her butt cheeks. She jerked slightly when that hand lifted and delivered a stinging slap on that same flesh. He positioned himself behind her again, against her back, rose a brow at her in the mirror and waited. She placed her hands back on his legs and sucked in a tremulous breath, anticipation heightening all of her senses and increasing her heart rate. The fact that he was still fully clothed while she was naked, ramped it up even more.

His hands started at her shoulders, then slid slowly, possessively, down to cup and caress her breasts, long fingers teasing her nipples, then pinching them when they hardened and stood up for him. She couldn’t take her eyes off the sight of his hands caressing her body She couldn’t take her eyes off the sight of his hands caressing her body. One hand moved down to cup her between her legs. He squeezed.. Tori felt his lips against her ear. “Mine!” He bit her earlobe then laved it with his tongue. She closed her eyes and tilted her head. He nipped again. “Arrgh, no me beauty, ye ain’t gettin’ off that easy. Watch.”

She opened her eyes to see his grip loosen and turn gentle. The hand on her breast moved to span her stomach and hold her against him. The other hand massaged her mound, one long finger sliding between swollen folds to stroke her moist flesh. As minutes passed her breathing became agitated and her hips started to lift towards his hand. Her hands clenched around the material of his pants. Both of them watched as he slipped two fingers inside her warm sheath and stroked. Her teeth closed on her lower lip and she started to pant as she watched...and felt....his hand moving between her legs. When he brought his thumb into play, dragging it back and forth over her pulsing clit, she cried out and her head started to thrash against his chest.

His gaze roamed her body, noting the arousal flushing her skin, and the need stamped on her face. He grinned. “Who do ye belong to beauty?” It was a growl. When she didn’t answer immediately, he bit down on her neck. “Answer me beauty!”

She licked her lips and gasped. “You!”

“And who else?” His teeth closed on her again and his fingers reached deeper.

“No one! Oh God! Please!”

Relenting, he increased the speed of both fingers and thumb. With a cry, she shattered. The arm around her waist tightened to hold her up when her legs gave out.

He carried her to the bed and laid her down. Grasping both wrists, he lifted them to lie above her head but didn’t tie her. As much as he wanted to, he didn’t want to force her tonight. He wanted her to be able to stop him if she felt the need. Their eyes met and she read his thoughts in his eyes. Her hands stretched a little further and wrapped around the rungs in the headboard.

He stood back from the bed and stripped off his clothes, his eyes constantly roaming over her displayed body. Joining her on the bed, he licked his lips, and proceeded to taste every inch of her skin. He lingered over the globes of her breasts, but avoided the hard tips, merely saluting them with a kiss before moving on to her stomach....and beyond. Spreading her thighs wide, he settled between them, caressing the inner surfaces with lips and tongue. Long fingers held back her folds, opening her most female flesh completely to his gaze. “Mmmmm. Dessert.” With that he settled in to feast. He licked, sucked, nibbled, dragging hoarse cries from her. Her back arched and her knuckles turned white with the strength of her grip on the headboard as her tension approached the breaking point. Sensing she was on the brink, Richie speared her with his tongue, pushing her over the edge.

He barely gave her a minute to catch her breath before he continued. Her body was wracked with shudders as he brought her to orgasm twice more before finally lifting his head. He slowly slid up her body. She didn’t even open her eyes. Her chest heaved as she panted for breath, her skin slick with sweat. Bracing himself on his elbows, he smoothed damp tendrils of hair back from her face and kissed her. “Look at me beauty.” It took a few seconds before she could force her lids up and focus on his face. As soon as their eyes met he flexed his hips and filled her with one controlled thrust.

“Oh!” Her back arched and her eyes dilated even more.

Richie held still while she regained her breath. He could feel her walls gripping and releasing his buried shaft, ‘feeling’ him inside her. When her pulse slowed and her breathing stabilized, he started to move. His thrusts were slow, but powerful. He pushed at her thighs. “Open wider.” She did and cried out as he reached deeper. For long minutes he moved on her, until she clenched around him and climaxed again. It wasn’t enough. He lifted her legs onto his shoulders and thrust harder and faster. Lowering his weight onto her, he gripped her hips, lifted them into his downstroke and pounded into her. Within minutes she reached another orgasm, but he didn’t stop. Her hands had relaxed on the headboard – she had no strength left to hold it. All she could do was lie back and accept his repeated penetrations of her body and the sensations bombarding her and fight to stay conscious. The next time she crested the peak she lost the fight. The last thing she heard before her world went black was his throttled shout as he burst inside her.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been out when Stevie’s cries brought her back to awareness. Before she could move, Richie entered the room with the baby. She sat up slowly, noting the blanket that he must have pulled over her after she’d passed out. He searched her eyes, ensuring that she was alright before handing over the baby and climbing in beside her. He rested his chin on her shoulder and watched while she fed him, stroking the baby’s brow and cheek and talking quietly. She smiled to see Stevie keeping one hand on her and one eye on his father. When he finished, Richie began singing soft and low while Tori burped him. Stevie’s eyelids drooped and he quickly drifted off to sleep. Richie rose from the bed, held his arms out for the baby and took him back to his room.

Returning Richie stood beside the bed, considering for long moments. Adrenaline coursed through her body as she realized that the pirate wasn’t finished yet. He reached out, grabbed the blanket and yanked it off of her, sending it to join the rest off the end of the bed. He straddled her chest and offered his semi hard shaft to her. “Suck it.”

Meeting his eyes, she licked her lips and opened her mouth wide. He shifted closer and slid the large head inside. Her tongue slithered all around it and she sucked first softly, then harder until he had swelled and hardened completely. “Enough!”

Obeying, she released him and waited to see what he had planned.

“On yer stomach wench!”

Tori rolled over, and took a deep breath, trying to brace herself for what was coming. Once again he raised her hands above her head. Lying beside her, he smoothed his hands over the long muscles of her back, savouring the velvety feel of her skin. His lips followed the same path. When he reached her buttocks, he squeezed and kneaded, kissed, licked and nibbled, increasing her desire. Grabbing two big fluffy pillows, he lifted her hips and slid them underneath. Once again he speared her with two fingers to check her readiness. He didn’t need to worry. She was dripping wet.

She felt the weight of his large body pressing her into the mattress and her breathing became even more laboured – from arousal, not his weight. He licked the shell of her ear. “Are ye mine?” She nodded. He nipped. “Say it! Are ye mine?”

“Yes.” It was a whisper. “YES!” She screamed as he thrust hard, burying his erection to the hilt, stretching her delicate flesh to its limit.

Richie paused for a moment and took a deep breath. This was the ultimate test. In this position she couldn’t even attempt to fight him off. She was completely helpless and at his mercy. He shifted until he could see her eyes, and searched for any sign of fear or that she was uncomfortable at all. All he saw was the dark blue of her need and the glint of desire. He grinned, reached up to twine their fingers together and began to move. He started off slow, but their position and the realization that she was willingly giving up complete control to him – and what that meant – had his arousal reaching new heights. He pounded into her over and over and over again. He couldn’t seem to get enough. He brought her to climax three times, before her mewling whimpers finally made it from his ears to his brain. But the pirate wouldn’t give in. “More wench. Give me more!” His thrusts became even more intense, harder, reached deeper. Her whole body went rigid and clamped down on him as a scream was ripped from her throat. “YES!” He shouted and burst inside her, flooding her with his warm.

They laid there for several minutes, waiting for the world to stop spinning and their hearts to return to a normal rhythm. Finally, Richie gathered his strength, withdrew from her body and collapsed on his back beside her. He turned his head to look at her and lifted a hand to stroke her cheek with his finger. “Did I ever tell you that you’re the only one who’s ever let the pirate, in all his glory, out to play?” Her brows rose. “It’s true. Others have allowed little glimpses, but never the full experience. I guess no one trusted me enough to give up total control like that. Thank you.”

She caught his hand – the hand that had given her nothing but the most incredible pleasure – and kissed it. “It was their loss. I’ll admit that being helpless like that is a little scary, especially the first time, but with the right person – with you - it’s a pleasure unlike any I’ve ever known. It’s pure ecstasy.” She reached out to stroke his cheek. “But then again, from the very beginning, your touch has reached places in me that I never even knew existed. You...” She had to stop to swallow around the lump in her throat. Her eyes glistened with tears. “You’ve lit a fire in my soul....that keeps me warm on the coldest winter’s night. You made me look forward to and embrace the future, despite the pain of my past. I think that’s why the whole mess with Heather hit me so hard. All of that had been taken away. I felt...cold...and alone and....hopeless.”

Pain shadowed his dark eyes. “I’m sor...”

She placed her fingers over his mouth to stop him. “I know. You’ve proven that to me over the last few months. I want to put the whole episode behind us.”

He searched her eyes. “What are you saying.”

“I’m saying that it’s over and done with. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I don’t even want to think about it. It’s in the past. I want us to have a new beginning. No more looking back, only forward.” She leaned over and kissed him, tasting him thoroughly. “Happy anniversary Richie.”

“Happy anniversary Tori. I love you.” He shifted to gather her into his arms.

“I love you too.” She winced as she moved to cuddle close and the muscles of her lower body protested.

He frowned. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

She shook her head. “No, I’m fine. Although don’t plan on going too far from the house tomorrow. I think I may need a little help getting around. It’s been awhile since I was....booty.”

He chuckled and hugged her closer. “I’ll be right here for whatever you need. Always.”

Tori sighed and idly played with a patch of chest hair. “Do you think we’ll ever have a calm year?”

“Depends on what you consider calm. With our family don’t expect a boring, uneventful year....ever. But I think it’s pretty safe to say that the chances of having two back to back tumultuous roller coaster years like we just went through are low.” His hand rubbed lightly over her arm. “We’re due for some peace.”

“I hope you’re right.” They were silent for several minutes. “Rich?”


“Are we going to get our fairy tale ending?”

“Well, let’s see. The evil witch tried to kill us, but we broke her spell and found each other again....... I’ve got my angel....”

“And I’ve got my Prince Charming. It’s supposed to be a princess, not an angel, but I’ll let it slide.”

He grinned and squeezed her. “Others may search for a princess, but my beautiful, talented angel helped me turn from the path to darkness and brought me back to life.” He raised her face to his and kissed her. “Where was I? Oh yeah, angel and prince. What else....we have the heir and heiress to our kingdom to watch grow and thrive....yeah, I’d say we’re going to get our happily ever after. Every relationship has its little ups and downs, but overall....yeah, we’ll get it.”


“Promise.” It was one promise he vowed to keep.

And he did.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chapter 277

“What do you think Peanut? Should we go see what Mommy’s doing?” Richie’s deep voice came from the hallway. The baby cooed in response. “Yeah? Me too. Where do you think she is?” A gurgle this time. “You’re probably right. She’s probably in the office. Your Uncle Jon works her too hard.”

“Actually, it’s Uncle Matt this time.” Tori looked up as they entered the office. “Hi Peanut! What have you and Daddy been up to?”

“Making dinner for Mommy.” Richie answered and handed the baby to her. “Are you sure you don’t want to go out? We could find a babysitter.”

She shook her head. “I’d really rather stay home.” She had plans and they didn’t include leaving the privacy of their home. She sat Stevie on her lap. “Is Daddy teaching you to cook?” They’d given Rosa the weekend off. Suddenly, Stevie got all excited. His arms and legs started waving and kicking and he laughed. His parents stared at him, wondering what had brought it on. Tori figured it out first. Following his line of sight she realized that her computer screen had reverted to her screen saver which was a picture of the four of them –Richie, Tori, Ava and Stevie – that Gail had taken at the Labour Day barbeque two weeks before. “What? Do you see the picture? Who’s that?” She pointed to each of them in turn. “There’s Mommy.....and Daddy..” Stevie kicked both legs and turned his head towards Richie, who grinned at him, then turned back to the computer screen. “And there’s Ava.” Stevie laughed again. “Do you miss her?” Ava had gone back to Heather’s when school started. “Me too. But she’ll be here next weekend.”

“What’s Matt got you doing that’s making you work on our anniversary?”

“He’s got some ideas for some new items.” She looked down as Stevie patted her face. “Uncle Matt and Aunt Desiree are going to give you a new cousin next year.”

Richie’s brows rose. “Really? He told you that in an e-mail? Why didn’t he pick up the phone?”

“I don’t think he meant to tell me. I sort of read between the lines. The items he wants me to look at are all baby stuff and it’s just something about the way he’s talking about it. The odd word slipped in here and there, that kind of thing.” She hit a key to bring back the e-mail and let him read it over her shoulder.

He nodded. “Yeah, sounds like they’re having a baby alright. John and Carol will be thrilled.

Tori nodded. “And having Matt and Desiree so close will take some of the pressure off of us being so far away.”

“Yeah from half of your family anyway.”

Tori stuck her tongue out at him. Richie’s eyes widened when Stevie watched his mother and his own little pink tongue came out from between his lips. “Look.” He murmured. Tori looked down, saw what he was referring to and chuckled. Richie picked up the baby and lifted him high in the air. “Are you sticking your tongue out at Daddy?” Stevie grinned at him. “You’ve been hanging out with Mommy too much. Come on Peanut, let’s leave Mommy to her work and I’ll teach you some manly skills.”

Tori snorted. “He already knows how to burp and fart.”

“Oooh, Mommy thinks she’s funny.” Richie informed his son as they walked out the door. “But we know who’s really the funny one, don’t we.” Stevie made a noise. “That’s right. Daddy.”

Tori smiled and shook her head at them, then turned back to the computer. She tried to focus on work, but she was distracted. Ever since the barbeque, things between she and Richie had continually progressed and were going extremely well. It felt like it had a year ago. She thought. Tonight she was going to put it to the ultimate test. If she could do it....if she could give up complete control to him...without fear...then she was sure they would make it. There might still be some tough times when the next tour started, but she was confident they would work that out. Some of that – like missing him when he was gone - she would have had to deal with anyway. All this with Heather was just going to make it more intense.

She blew out a breath and glanced at the clock to see how much time she had before dinner. She would need some time to prepare. She was nervous, but their anniversary....when there was a point not that long ago when she didn’t think they’d make it this far....seemed to be the perfect night to try to push aside that last obstacle, breach that last hurdle. Sort of like they were making a new start.

Upstairs, she changed her clothes, looking at herself critically in the mirror. She was hoping that Richie would get the message without her having to actually come out and say it. Since he was usually a very intuitive man, and knew her so well....and she had a few hints that should be obvious to the most oblivious man.....she figured it wouldn’t take long. She adjusted her top again. The floral skirt she’d worn to the luau in Hawaii still fit fine, but the top was a little snug. She smirked. He’d be glad she didn’t want to go out. He didn’t need to know that the fit of the bra top was one reason why she wanted to stay home. Here she didn’t have to worry if it slipped and she spilled out. The rich scent of Pikake surrounded her from her body lotion. She gave herself a last once over and nodded. She was ready. Now if only Peanut would cooperate. There was a small time window for him to have his dinner without interrupting her plans. Hopefully, he’d agree.

“Angel! Dinner’s ready.” Richie called up the stairs.

“Coming!” She answered before taking a deep breath and heading downstairs.

Entering the dining room, she stopped dead and gasped. Tropical flowers like the ones that had been growing on the terrace outside their room in Hawaii scented the air and formed the centre piece on the table.

Richie looked up from lighting candles. His eyes licked over her, his gaze hotter than the flames. He grinned. “Looks like we both had the same idea.” To remember the happiest time of their lives. She smiled and nodded. He sat her formally, then leaned over to nuzzle his spot under her ear. “You smell.....incredible.” And he hoped that she meant it. Between the way she looked, the way she smelled, and the memories that particular scent evoked, he was already half hard and his mind was swirling with possibilities.

“Thank you. So does dinner.” She stroked his cheek and turned her head to kiss him. “Mmmm. But I bet it doesn’t taste as good as you.”

He growled. “You really like torturing me don’t you?”

She grinned. “As I recall you’re not above a bit of torture yourself.” Her gaze locked with his. His brow lifted and his lips twitched, but he didn’t respond.

Dinner was delicious and a bit erotic as they fed each other, cleaning up misjudgements with fingers and tongues. By unspoken agreement, they kept it teasing and within boundaries. Neither wanted to rush things. They wanted the night to last.

After cleaning up the kitchen they settled in the living room to exchange gifts and for Tori to feed Stevie. She made Richie open his gift first. He hefted the large box carefully and ripped off the paper.

Lifting the lid, he looked inside and his eyes widened. “Where did you get this?”

She grinned. “I called Les and he helped me out.”

Richie lifted the guitar out to take a closer look. It was one he’d been debating about buying for awhile now, but hadn’t been able to make up his mind. He crooked a brow at her. “Do I want to know what that conversation involved?”

She laughed. “He only tried to get me to run away with him twice. Oh, and he said with this you just might be able to write something worthy of me.” Richie grunted. She watched his face. “Do you like it?”

His head snapped up. “I love it. Thank you.”

She watched his hand run over the smooth curves of the instrument. “I never want you to lose the music again.”

When Stevie was finished, Richie took him to burp him and handed Tori her present. She opened the box to find two smaller boxes inside. She lifted the lid of the smallest one to reveal a heart shaped amethyst surrounded by diamonds in a brushed platinum band. “Oh Richie. It’s beautiful.” She slid it on her right hand. It fit perfectly.

“Just a reminder that you have my heart. Now and forever.”

She blinked back tears and reached for the other box. This one contained a digital picture frame. As she scrolled through the pictures...of Richie alone and she and Richie together – at the beach, by the pool, from their wedding, from the tour and from Christmas, all of them smiling, all of them happy.....In It For Love played from the tiny speaker. This time she couldn’t hold back the tears and they rolled slowly down her cheeks.

Richie laid the baby in his bassinet and took his wife in his arms. “For whenever we’re apart or you just need a reminder of what we’re fighting to hold onto. Us. What we mean to each other. The love we share. Never forget that Tori. I love you. Until the day I die.”

She nodded and cuddled closer. “I love you too. Until the day I die.”

They kissed to seal the vow.

It was fifteen or twenty minutes before Tori was willing to separate herself from their embrace. She sniffed, wiped at her tears and reached for the small bag that she’d left sitting at her feet. “I have one more gift for you.”

Taking the bag, Richie looked inside and frowned in confusion. He stuck his hand inside and pulled out the scrap of material and elastic. It took him a minute to recognize the pirate’s eyepatch. He turned to her and raised a brow.

She tried to look innocent, but she couldn’t prevent the smirk from twisting her lips. She shrugged. “I thought we were reliving Hawaii tonight.”

He searched her eyes intently for a long minute. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “Positive.”

Richie framed her face with his hands and kissed her firmly..almost fiercely. He stood and pointed a finger at her. “Wait here me beauty. I’ll be back to get ye after I’ve put the youn’un to bed.” With that, he picked Stevie up and headed for the stairs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chapter 276

After their guests had all left, everything had been cleaned up and the kids were in bed, Tori went looking for Richie and found him sitting in a lounge chair by the pool enjoying the warm night. When she stood beside him, he looked up, reached for her hand and tugged her down to sit between his legs on the lounge. She leaned back against him and gazed up at the moon and stars.

“I thought the party went well.” His hands trailed idly up and down her arms.

“Mmmhmmm.” She shivered at his touch and the goosebumps that rose on her skin.

“Cold?” He smirked when she shook her head.

Talking quietly, they rehashed the party, relating stories of their friends lives, their hands intertwining and playing with each others fingers. After a short silence Richie spoke again.“Do you want to tell me now what today was really all about?”

Tori sighed, looked down and fingered his wedding ring. “I felt like we were kind of stuck and I wanted to get things moving forward again. Ever since we got back home, we’ve been in alone in our own little world here – except for the guys. I wanted to see what it would be like to be around other people.....other women....especially Heather.”

He nodded. “I figured it was something like that. So did I pass?”

“You did wonderfully, but it was more of a test for me than you. Rationally I know that, Heather aside, the other women here today are not a threat to me or our marriage, but no one ever said that fear is rational. But if we’re going to make it, I have to face my fear and deal with it. You’ve been trying so very hard and I know that I’m the one that’s holding us back from getting at least close to where we were before. And I’m sorry about that.” Her eyes filled with tears.

Richie hugged her close. “It’s okay angel. I know that it takes time to rebuild trust. I’m the one that destroyed it in the first place. I’ll wait as long as it takes to get it back. There’s lots of time.”

She shook her head. “No there isn’t. I’ve got to find a way to get past this before Jon takes you away on tour. I have to have a healthy level of trust before you go gallivanting all over the world without me, or I’ll drive myself crazy worrying about what you could be doing.”

“And the Bongiovi in you won’t let things happen at a natural pace, you have to make it happen. Hence the party and inviting Heather.” She wrinkled her nose at him, but didn’t disagree. “And your bathing suit today was remind me of the prize I could win or lose depending on my behaviour?”

She smirked. “Something like that. It was also to boost my self confidence.”

His brows rose at that. He would never get used to her odd moments of insecurity when it came to her physical appeal or her talent. He didn’t understand how someone so beautiful and so skilled could ever doubt themselves. “I didn’t need the reminder. I’m well aware of what I’d be throwing away if I fucked up again.” His lips twitched. “I will admit that I didn’t mind showing everyone else what a lucky man I am. I got the best prize of all.” She turned her head and kissed him. After a few minutes of silence he asked the question uppermost in his mind even though he was almost afraid of the answer. “Did it work? The party I mean.”

She nodded. “It helped at least. I was a little anxious....well, more than a little actually, when Heather showed up. I wasn’t sure she’d come.” She paused. “I saw a different side of her today. She was friendly, considerate, kind, even funny. Probably more like the woman you married. I watched every nuance of every interaction between the two of you.”

“I know. That’s human nature. Once you’ve been hurt you watch for it to happen again.” He hesitated, but had to say it. “But Tori, you can’t – we can’t – go through life with you watching and waiting for me to hurt you again. That’s no way to live. You miss out on all the good stuff if you’re constantly on the lookout for the bad.”

She shifted so that she could see his face and raised one hand to stroke his cheek. “I know. I’m trying. I promise. In fact, I realized something today. As beautiful as Heather is......and despite your past with her...... or maybe because of it.....she’s not a threat to me or our marriage anymore.”

He resisted the urge to shout in triumph. “What finally brought you to that conclusion?”

“You. The way you look at me, even when we’re surrounded by other people. Like there’s no one else around. Just us. The way you seem to sense when I need a little reassurance, even if it’s just a wink or a touch as you walk by. The connection between us is as strong as it ever was. It’s like my senses constantly reach out for you. I always know where you are. I miss you when you’re not near.” Blue eyes locked with brown. “I do love you, you know.”

He smiled, kissed her palm then bent and kissed her lips. “I know. I love you too.”

A few minutes later, Tori rose from the lounge, took off her sarong and walked to the edge of the pool. She glanced back at him over her shoulder, then dove in. Surfacing, she considered him for a moment, then slid her hands over her hips and down her legs, taking cloth with them. Next her hands went behind her back and to her nape. Two tugs and there was nothing between her skin and the warm water enveloping her body.

Richie watched her throw something onto the concrete surrounding the pool, but couldn’t see what it was in the soft light glowing from the lights scattered around the back yard. It wasn’t until she floated away from him on her back that he realized it was her bathing suit and that she was naked. She crooked a brow at him in challenge. With a grin he stood to answer it, shucking his own bathing suit at the edge of the pool before diving in to join her.

Treading water, she watched him swim underwater towards her and eased back towards the shallow end. When his hands closed around her her calves she took a deep breath, expecting a dunking, but it didn’t happen. Instead, as he surfaced, his hands followed her curves over her hips and slid around her waist to pull her against him. “There’s consequences to teasing your husband you know.”

Her low throaty chuckle hardened him even more as she locked her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist, trusting the buoyancy of the water and the fact that he could stand to keep her head above the surface. She pressed even closer, tangled the fingers of one hand in his hair, and licked and nibbled at his lips. Her hips shifted to better feel his erection with the soft folds between her thighs. “Mmmmm....if this...” She rocked her hips. “....has anything to do with it, I’ll gladly pay the price. Whenever you want.”

He groaned and crushed her against him, his mouth devouring hers, his hands rubbing up and down her back, cupping her bottom, kneading and squeezing her soft flesh, rocking his hips, caressing her most sensitive flesh with his.

Breaking the kiss on a gasp, Tori licked her lips and framed his face with her hands. “Touch me Rich.”

His eyes searched hers a question in the dark depths. Satisfied with what he saw and not needing to be told twice, he walked over to the steps leading out of the shallow end and set her down on the edge. His hands stroked her thighs as he urged her to let go.

Feeling the solid support under her, she loosened her grip to create space between them and let his hands explore. He took full advantage. Long fingers smoothed droplets of water from her shoulders and arms. His hands settled again on her shoulders and eased her back a little more. After a moment’s hesistation she braced her hands behind her and leaned back, exposing her body to him and silently giving him permission to touch her however he wanted.

Tori gaze alternated between his face and his hands on her body. Starting at her collarbone, his large hands stroked down to her waist, then returned to cup and caress the swollen mounds of her breasts. He couldn’t ignore them, but knew he couldn’t handle them like he’d like to either. They were the baby’s territory for a while longer.

Next he turned his attention to her stomach and thighs, rubbing her smooth skin over and over, teasing her with his calloused fingertips. Finally, he focused on the pulsing flesh at the juncture of her thighs. One finger reached out and traced the length of her cleft. His eyes flicked up to her face as her back arched. She sighed and murmured in appreciation. Seeing no signs of fear or that she might stop him, he touched her in ernest, in ways that had been denied him for months. He teased apart her folds with light touches, revealing the swollen nub at the top. This he flicked and rubbed for long minutes, noting that her thighs spread wider and soft moans hummed deep in her throat.

“Mmmmm. Richie.” She sighed.

He looked up and grinned. “Like that huh? How about this?” He slid two fingers inside her hot, moist passage and stroked.

“Oh! Mmmmmm. Oooooh.” Her hips lifted towards his hand, driving him deeper.

Looking down, they both watched his fingers slide in and out of her body. When he would have bent his head to add his lips and tongue to the torture, she stopped him, dragging his mouth to meet hers instead. He got the message. She wasn’t ready for that yet. Abiding by her wishes, he used his other hand to rub and pluck her clit, added a third finger inside her and sped up his strokes.

Tearing her mouth away, Tori looked down at his hand again, chest heaving, her breathing laboured. Her arms began to tremble. The increase in her heartrate was due to more than just his ministrations.

He could feel her tightening around his fingers, and knew she was close. He could also tell she was fighting it. He sensed her fear and caught her gaze. “It’s okay angel. Let go. Trust me. Please!”

The soft glow in the warm chocolate depths was easy for her to recognize. It was love. Taking a deep breath, she released it, and her control, and surrendered to him. A ragged cry was ripped from her throat as his fingers reached deeper yet and pushed her over the edge. Her arms gave out and she sank down onto the ground.

Richie watched the pleasure overtake her, sensed the tremors shaking her, felt her body squeeze his fingers tightly. He slowed the motion of his hand, but kept moving until the spasms passed and her body relaxed. As much as he wanted to carry her inside to their bed, he knew he’d never make it. Standing on the wide bottom step as he was, put him at the perfect height. He stepped closer, gripped her hips, pulled her to the edge of the pool, positioned himself and slid inside her.

Her breath caught and her hands came up to clutch his forearms at the feel of his hardness stretching her still throbbing flesh. “Oh!”

Buried to the hilt, he stopped. “Ok?”

She licked her lips and nodded, her blue eyes dark and hot. “Mmmm. But it seems I’ll be even better very soon.” His deep chuckle had her moaning as it shifted his buried shaft. “Mmmmm yes...more Rich.”

“Yes dear.” He growled and began to move. He kept his thrusts long and slow.

After a couple of minutes, Tori pushed herself into a sitting position, leaned her head against his chest and watched their bodies merge again and again. Seeing what she was doing, Richie hooked his hands under her knees and opened her even more and watched with her.

She took the sweet torture as long as she could, then lifted her head, pushed his hands away, wrapped her legs around his hips and pulled him closer. Deeper. Her arms slid around his neck. She noted his flushed face, and sweat sheened chest. “Please Richie!” Her tongue came out to lick his lips. “Give me more!”

His mouth opened and sucked her teasing tongue deep inside. And thrust harder. For long minutes only their moans, and the sound of the water slapping against the side of the pool drifted on the warm night air. When the tension became too much, her nails dug into his back and she threw back her head to scream her pleasure. Feeling her clamp down on him and her body go rigid in his arms, Richie crushed her even closer, and with a flurry of thrusts followed her into paradise.

It was several minutes before they could even let go enough to separate their bodies, several more before they had the strength to slide into the pool to cool their heated flesh, and several more yet before they had the energy to dry off and walk, arm in arm, into the house and up to bed where they curled up together and slept, another step closer to where they’d been five months before.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chapter 275

The day of the party was a busy one for everyone. Like most holidays, Tori had given Rosa the weekend off to enjoy it with her family. That meant that Ava and Richie got pressed into service – Ava to help prepare the food and Richie to set up chairs and tables outside and make sure the bar was stocked. Tori had been too busy to go with Richie for supplies, and had to let him go on his own. Luckily, she was also too busy to worry about what he was doing. In fact, when he returned, she’d hardly known he was gone.

Salads and appetizers ready – including Rosa’s guacamole, vegetables and fruit peeled and/or cut, Tori went to get herself ready. Returning downstairs, she stepped out onto the back patio to check that everything was set. Richie looked up from the makeshift bar where he was pouring ice into coolers and almost swallowed his tongue. Ice cubes scattered in all directions.

“Jesus angel!”


“What are you trying to do to me?” He couldn’t take his eyes off of her in her bikini and sarong, her stomach as flat as it was before the baby, her breasts almost falling out of her top. His body hardened in a rush. Although he hadn’t been exactly deprived lately, having to stay in the submissive role wasn’t sitting too well with him. He didn’t mind it once in a while, but he missed being the one in control. She would let him touch her, but only to a certain point, and never in her most sensitive areas, before taking over. He knew that he only had himself to blame and that he should thank his lucky stars that she even agreed to give him another chance. He knew that not many women would. But damn! She was an incredibly beautiful woman in his eyes, inside and out, and right now all he wanted to do was carry her off to their room and show her just how much he loved her.

“Don’t you like it? Doesn’t it look good?” She walked over to take a look at what he’d set up.

He snorted. “You look fantastic and I like it just fine. I’m just not sure I want the men that are coming here today to.....see so much of you.” Raising one hand he trailed his fingertips over the upper curves of her breasts, then caressed her stomach with his palm. “I’ve kinda gotten used to keeping you all to myself.”

Tori smiled, cupped his cheek with one hand, raised up on tiptoe and kissed him. “Relax caveman. I’m not looking to replace you.”

“Tori! Peanut woke up and he’s crying.” Ava called from the doorway.

“Okay, thanks Bean, I’ll be right there.” She stepped back, started towards the house and stopped. Turning back to him she looked pointedly at the fit of his swim trunks. “Thanks, by the way.” Richie just grunted and went back to pouring ice.....and thought about how cold it was.

Kate, Gail and Todd were the first to arrive. Gail looked Tori up and down and shook her head. “That’s just disgusting.”


“Looking like that after you just had a baby. Todd, quit drooling.”

Tori laughed. “Oh stop it.”

“I’m serious.” Gail sighed. “Come on, introduce us to the newest Sambora.”

With a proud grin, Tori led them to where the baby lay sleeping in his bassinet near the door to the patio.

Gail reached out to stroke his cheek. “He’s beautiful.”

“Poor kid.” Todd managed to look sad.

“Why do you say that?” Tori asked with a touch of concern.

“He looks just like his father. That’s a pretty heavy burden for a little kid.”

Tori swatted his arm. “Oh stop! There’s nothing wrong with the way he looks. I think he’s gorgeous.”

“Thanks angel.” Richie joined them, slid an arm around his wife’s waist and kissed her temple.

Todd snorted. “Don’t get a big head Sambora, she was talking about the baby.”

“I was talking about both of my men.” Tori corrected him. A big splash told them that Kate had found Ava and they’d decided to go for a swim.

An hour or so later, Tori was sitting talking to Gail and Sarah’s mom Tracy, while the kids were swimming, and the other guests were gathered in small groups around the back yard. Richie was kept busy tending bar. When the doorbell rang, he went to answer it.

Gail leaned forward, her eyes wide. “What’s she doing here?”

Tori glanced over to see Heather walk through the door with Richie. “I invited her.” She watched Richie move to create more space between himself and Heather.

Gail opened and closed her mouth several times. “I’m sorry, but I have to ask. Why?”

“Because she’s Ava’s mother and I want to have a civil relationship with her.”

“So you invite her to your party? That’s....big of you. I understand not wanting to be on bad terms with her for Ava’s sake, but to try and be...what....friends? I don’t think I could do that.”

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Tracy murmured. She, like the rest of the people there, knew what Heather was like.

“Hi Tori, Gail, Tracy.” Heather joined them. “Tori, Stephen’s really growing.”

“Yeah he is. He’s a little piglet.”

“Naw, he’s just a man who enjoys his food. Angel do you want a drink?” Richie stood behind her chair and ran his hands over her shoulders.

She tipped her head back to look up at him. “Please. Thanks honey.”

“Hi Mom.” Ava came running up to the table, followed by her friends.

“Hi sweetie. Having fun?”

“Yeah.” She looked back and forth between her mother and her stepmother. “Um....can I have a pop?”

“Sure.” Tori answered, then looked at Heather.

Heather nodded. “Your house, your rules.” The other women around the table exchanged surprised looks. They’d never know Heather to take a back seat to least not willingly.

“Can we have something to eat? Maybe some of the squares we made yesterday?”

Tori frowned. “How about some of the cheese and crackers, or dips or fruit or carrot sticks instead? Save the squares for after dinner.”

Ava sighed. “Okay.”

The mothers all watched the girls run off towards the bar to get drinks from Richie before circulating around the tables filling their plates.

Throughout the afternoon, Richie and Tori mingled with their guests. Even when deep in conversation, Tori kept one eye on Richie...what he was doing, who he was talking to. She wasn’t obvious about it, but she was constantly aware of him.

Richie was likewise aware of Tori. He could feel her eyes on him. It didn’t upset him. He understood. In fact, he welcomed it. This was the opportunity he’d been waiting for to try to keep moving forward in the rebuilding of their marriage, to show her that she could trust him.

Stevie made the rounds as well. He was passed around so much, at one point Tori lost track of him. She stood up to look around, but still couldn’t see him.

Gail noticed her agitation. “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t see Stevie. Do you?”

“I saw him a few minutes ago.” Gail craned her neck to look as well.

“Relax angel, I’ve got him. He needed a diaper change.” Richie spoke from behind her.

She spun around, a hand pressed to her heart and let out a relieved breath. She’d seen Richie go into the house, but hadn’t realized he had the baby with him. He smiled and handed Stevie over. “Time to start the grill?” She looked at her watch and nodded.

Gail sighed as he walked away. “How’d you get him to change a diaper? Todd wouldn’t go near them, he just handed Kate to me or anyone else he could get to do it.”

Tori smiled and shrugged. “He just does it. I’ve never even had to ask him.” She looked at Heather. “You?”

Heather shook her head. “No, he was always good with that, although when Ava started eating solid food, he did try to avoid the dirty ones.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Tori laughed.

The afternoon and early evening passed quickly as everyone enjoyed a good meal and good company along with a cooling swim and a few games. Heather was actually pleasant, even funny. Tori finally saw a bit of the woman that had attracted Richie a decade or so before. Looking at her husband, she smiled when he turned and winked at her, and realized that even with that new awareness, she didn’t feel threatened.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chapter 274

A few days later the album was finished – at least it would be if Jon didn’t come up with some last minute ideas or changes. Even now he was quiet and distracted while they brought down their luggage and waited for the car that would take them to the airport.

Tori got his attention. “Jon, it’s really good. Some of the best work you’ve done. The fans are going to love it. It’s okay to let it go.” She hoped that reminding him that she was a fan would get him to take her opinion seriously and relax. By the looks on the guys’ faces she might as well be talking to the wall.

“Nice try Bela.” Tico murmured in her ear.

Jon merely nodded. “You did a great job by the way – both on the album and at the warehouse.” Tori had taken him down to view the operation the day before and he had been impressed with the changes she’d implemented.

“Thanks, but I didn’t do much at the warehouse. Most of the changes were Jennifer’s ideas. And the album was almost fun.”

“Almost?” Jon crooked a brow.

“Mmmmm. Next time you want me to participate, a little advance notice would make it better.....and maybe then I won’t have a two month old baby to cart along to the studio with me.”

“Well he was very well behaved. Must take after his mother.” Jon smirked and stroked the baby’s cheek with the back of one finger while he lay in his mother’s arms. Tori grinned. Richie gave him the finger.

David looked around, then nodded. “Album’s done, we’ve filled up on Rosa’s wonderful cooking, started Ava on her path to be a real estate tycoon, inducted Little Stephen into the Jovi men’s club, Bela and Chuck are getting it on again, which makes them much more relaxed to be around....yes I think our work here is done. We can go home now.”

“Thank God!” Richie muttered. Tori stared at him, trying to ignore her red cheeks. She checked her watch.

“Checking to see how much longer you have to put up with him Bela?” Hugh asked.

Tori shook her head. “No, I’m checking to see what time it is back home. I think Karin and I need to have a loooong talk.”

David snorted. “Like you don’t already know everything about our relationship. Nice try Bela, but I figured out the first time I met her that you two share everything. There’s nothing she can tell you that you don’t already know, and I know that as soon as we leave you’re going to call and tell her everything that’s happened here.”

“And you’re not worried?” Tico asked.

David shrugged. “Naw. Karin loves me. It would take a lot more than me teasing Bela to get her seriously mad at me.”

Tori ran her tongue along her teeth. “Maybe, but what do you think she will do when she finds out about your little stunt with Stevie and your ogling my breasts?”

That made David pause and consider. He dropped to his knees in front of her. “I’m sorry. You know I would never hurt Stevie and I can’t help the teasing, it’s what I do. As for the ogling, well damn Bela, it’s not like they’re something a man can just ignore.”

“Try.” Richie suggested.

“Please Bela, be kind. I thought you were my sister. Don’t be cruel.” When Tori raised a brow at him, he reached out to take the hand that wasn’t holding the baby. “Bela, please! I haven’t gotten laid in almost a month! Please!”

Tori burst out laughing. The guys just rolled their eyes.

“Uncle Shirley, what are you doing?” Ava had come into the foyer to say goodbye to her uncles.

“Trying to get your stepmother to not get me in trouble with Aunt Karin.”

“Oh. Good luck with that. But it won’t really matter. You get yourself in trouble without any help. You can’t help it. Aunt Dot says it has something to do with whatever makes your hair so curly.” Ava shrugged.

David shot Jon a look. Jon rolled his eyes and shrugged. Tori snickered and patted David’s head. “Don’t worry, I’m sure that you’ll find a way to get back into her good book. You’ve got a few hours on the plane to think about it.”

“Buy Aunt Charlie some flowers and maybe some jewelry.” Ava suggested.

Tori winked at her. “Sounds like a good start.”

“Are they born like that, or are they taught?” Hugh wanted to know.

“Born like that.” The other four men replied.

“And they seem to be starting younger and younger.” David added. “I was late picking the kids up last month and Lily told me that she’d forgive me....if I bought her tickets to see Hannah Montana or Mylie Cyrus or whatever name she’s using these days.”

“Oooh, she’s great!” Ava exclaimed. “I want to see her too.”

“I’m glad I only have a son.” Tico sighed.

Tori gave them all withering looks. “Well if we women have to put up with you men and all your crap, we need to get something out of the deal.”

Since all of the men were either married or had been, they wisely didn’t respond.

Later that night the Sambora family gathered in the livingroom. Ava was curled up in an armchair texting to her friends and Tori was on the couch, her legs outstretched on the cushions while she fed Stevie when Richie walked in. Lifting her feet, he sat, settled her feet in his lap and began to massage them. She smiled at him.

“What are you thinking about angel?” When her brows rose in question, he explained. “You’ve got the same look on your face that Jon gets when he’s got an idea rattling around in his head. So what’s up?”

She chuckled. “I’m thinking that we should have a Labour Day barbeque. Sort of an end of summer last bash before the kids go back to school. Invite Ava’s friends and their parents, your friends that I haven’t met yet......Heather.”

This time it was Richie’s brows that rose.....right into his hairline. “You really want to do that?”

“Oooh yeah! That would be fun! Can we Daddy?”

Tori met Richie’s gaze and nodded. “Yeah. I do.”

“Okay. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

“You want to do what? Are you nuts?” Karin was incredulous.

“What? It’s just a barbeque.” Tori switched the phone to her other ear.

“Don’t play dumb Tori. That’s not what I’m talking about and you know it. You seriously want to invite Heather....your husband’s ex-wife......the woman that tried to destroy your marriage and your happiness....into your home for a party?”

“Yes. She’s Ava’s mother and I need to find some way to at least be on speaking terms with her.” Karin snorted. Tori smiled. “And there’s an ulterior motive.” She paused. “Richie and I are sort of at a standstill, or a plateau. We’re getting along well and in some ways I feel closer to him than I have in a long time....”


“But there’s still a part of me that’s holding back. The trust isn’t there yet. It’s better, but it’s not like it was. But I want it to be. I’ve tried everything I can think of. I don’t know what else to do.”

“It’s going to take some time.”

Tori sighed. “I know. But somehow I’ve got to face my fear and try to overcome it. You know me. I can’t sit back and wait and see what happens. I need to know. The album is pretty much finished so that means a tour next year and this time I’ll have to stay home. I’ll have to be able to let him walk out the door and be away from me for weeks at a time and I’ll never make it if I’m constantly worried about what he’s doing. I need to have things settled in my mind before then. We’ve been in our little cocoon here ever since we got home. I haven’t been able to see how I feel with other women around – especially Heather.”

“So you want to invite people over – including Heather – and watch how he acts around them – and them around him - and how it makes you feel.” Karin thought she understood now what was going on in Tori’s mind. “Are you going to explain this to Richie?”

“No. I want him to act naturally. That’s what I have to be able to deal with if we’re going to make this marriage work.”

“Well, it sounds like a good idea. Are you sure you’re prepared for it though?”

“Yes. I have to be. It’s the only way I can see to keep moving forward.”

“Good luck then. I hope it goes well and you’re able to enjoy yourself, especially since you’ve had to put up with the guys for the last few weeks.”

Tori chuckled. “I can’t believe how quiet the house seems now that they’re gone. At least I don’t have to watch for any of Shirley’s little stunts though.”

Karin grunted. “Or deal with him staring at your breasts.”

“You’re not going to let him off the hook easily on that one are you?”

“Nope. He’ll be paying for that one for a long time.”

“And is he sucking up?”

“A dozen roses arrived at the office today and he wants to take me to Jon’s place in the Hampton’s this weekend.”

“He’s sucking up.” Tori laughed. “I’ve never been to the Hampton’s yet myself, but Richie tells me it’s nice.”

“Well we can’t all have the ocean almost in our back yard.”

“Yeah, well, just remember that it comes with earthquakes.”

“Any more since that first one?”

“No, thank God. I hope I never have to experience that again.”

“I thought you liked to feel the earth move.”

“Only when it’s my husband causing it.” Tori retorted.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chapter 273

At the studio, Jon called it quits for the day. “Nice work everyone. Let’s go home.”

Tori turned to her husband. “Rich, do you have any gum?”

“Yep. Here.” He handed her the pack.

“Thanks. Anyone else want a piece?” She unwrapped a stick and stuck it in her mouth.

“Sure.” David held out his hand. She place a stick in it. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Turning back to Richie she handed him back the pack, a smirk twisting her lips.

Glancing at the gum he noted that only one stick was missing. He raised a brow at her. She winked and went to pack up Stevie’s diaper bag. He sighed.

Jon heard him. “Something wrong?”

Richie glanced around. “Keep your eyes and ears open. And you might want to keep your distance from Shirley.”

Jon frowned, then followed Richie’s gaze to Tori. “Payback in the works?”

“I think so, but I don’t know what it is.”

“Hey Bela, what’s for dinner tonight?” Tico asked.

“Mexican. Rosa’s making some of her family’s favourite recipes.”

“Yum!” David licked his lips. Tori bit her lip against a laugh and turned to fiddle with Stevie’s t-shirt.

Shanks stared at David, but Jon nudged him and shook his head before he could say anything. In the hallway they passed a couple technicians and studio musicians. They too stared at David as he spoke to them, but didn’t say anything. In the lobby, Mandy came out from behind the desk to say goodbye to Stevie, looked at David and raised a brow at Tori, who just winked.

“He’s going to kill you.” Richie warned as he fastened Stevie’s carrier into the base in her car.

She shrugged. “You know he asked for it. He knew if he went after Stevie I’d have to retaliate.”

“I know. I’m just glad we’re just about done and he’ll be going home soon.” At her inquiring look he explained. “I’m afraid of getting caught in the crossfire.” She just patted his cheek.

Back at the house, Ava couldn’t suppress her giggles when her ‘Uncle Shirley’ greeted her. He frowned and turned to Richie. “What’s with her?” Richie just shrugged.

Rosa walked into the living room. “Dinner’s ready.”

“Yum.” David licked his lips. “I’m starving and Bela said you made Mexican tonight.”

Rosa nodded. “Si Mr. David.”

“Did you make guacamole?” Rosa nodded again. “Great! You make the best guacamole! I’m going to wash up.”

Rosa watched him walk towards the bathroom, then turned back to the others who were now bent over with laughter. “Why are Mr. David’s teeth black?”

Tori grinned. “He ate a piece of joke gum that I gave him.”

Rosa thought about that for a minute then nodded. “Well I bet that Mr. Stevie’s safe from his jokes now.”

“I hope so. At least for a little while.” Tori agreed.

“My protective mama bear.” Richie hugged his wife and nuzzled her neck.


The guys burst into laughter again.

David stomped into the room. “Why are my teeth – and tongue – black? What did you give me?” He turned to his bandmates. “And you guys let me walk out of the studio like that?!” They were laughing too hard to respond.

Tori’s brow rose at his growling tone. “Just some trick gum. It’ll be gone as soon as you brush your teeth.” She pointed a finger at him. “Leave my kids alone or it’ll only get worse.”

“Uncle Shirley, you’d look really funny without any teeth.” Ava chortled. David grabbed her, made like he was biting her neck and hung her upside down while she giggled. Suddenly, he looked at Tori, his eyes wide. “She asked for it!”

That night when Richie joined his wife in bed, he looked at her hesitantly. She crooked a brow. “What?”

“I had an idea.” He paused. “You’re concerned about losing control when we make love...when I touch you, right?” She nodded. “What if we start with me giving you a massage? Let you get used to feeling my hands on you again. Do you think that might help?” As much as he loved what she’d done to him that morning, and regardless of what she said, he still felt guilty and selfish not giving to her in return. He knew that it would take some time to get their sex life back to where it had been, especially since trust was such a large component of it, but he had to start somewhere. Thinking about the oil she’d used had given him the idea.

She thought about it for a long minute, then blew out a deep breath and nodded. “Let’s try it.”

Rising from the bed, Richie threw back the blankets and headed to get the lotion from the bathroom, choosing the soothing, relaxing lavender for this first attempt. When he returned to the bedroom he grinned to see her lying naked, face down in the middle of the bed.

He climbed on the bed, straddled her hips and hesitated. “If you’re too uncomfortable, just tell me to stop. Okay?”

She nodded. “Okay.”

Pouring oil into his palm, he set aside the bottle, rubbed his hands together and started with her shoulders. His strong fingers worked over her muscles, kneading out the knots formed by her activities during the day and smoothing the skin down to her waist. She sighed in appreciation. He paused. “Okay?”

“Mmmmm. Magic fingers.”

He grinned and resumed the movements of his hands. When he shifted back and cupped her butt cheeks, she tensed, then forced herself to relax. He didn’t linger, but moved on to her legs, working his way down to her slender feet. Her toes curled.

“Turn over.” He murmured. She did, and kept her eyes closed. Once again straddling her hips, he poured more oil and started with her arms, massaging from shoulder to elbow to wrist. Next he pressed his thumbs along the tendons in her palms, then laced their fingers together and flexed his hands. Releasing her hands he took a deep breath and set his hands on her collarbone. He moved them down slowly, carefully circling her breasts, seeking to soothe, not incite. After all, they were Peanut’s territory for now.

Her eyes flew open and she tensed. Glancing up he locked his eyes with hers, but continued his slow movements. When his hands moved on to her ribs and stomach, she relaxed, although he could sense the fine tremor beneath her outer calm. He shifted and started again at her feet and slowly moved up.

Tori closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe deeply, evenly, despite the racing of her heart. His hands had always done that to her, whether he was trying to relax her or arouse her. It was like he’d promised in Hawaii - he’d touched her until her skin hungered for more. She couldn’t fight it. Couldn’t control it. And that scared her. When his hands reached the tops of her thighs and slid to the inside she sat up and grabbed them. “Stop.”

He instantly lifted his hands and moved to sit beside her. “Okay. It’s okay. We’ll stop there.” He swallowed his disappointment and reminded himself to be patient.

Chest heaving, she looked at him for the space of several breaths, then pushed him to lie flat on his back. He laid still and waited to see what she had in mind. He didn’t have to wait long. She straddled his hips and wrapped a hand around his half hard erection and stroked. Her other hand slid up his chest and caressed the firm muscles there.

He’d resigned himself to letting her have her way and having to once again be the selfish taker, so he was surprised when she leaned over, kissed him deeply, then took a deep breath, held his shaft upright and slowly impaled herself.

His hands clutched at her hips. “Easy angel. Take it slow.” She was tight despite the lubrication her aroused body provided.

She nodded and paused for a moment to let her body adjust and ease to let him in. Once she was fully seated, she caught his hands, laced their fingers together and began to rock against him. Settling into a rhythm she gradually picked up speed, raising her body higher and higher before sinking back down.

He couldn’t take his eyes off the vision above him. Her face was flushed, her eyes were sparkling and dark with desire. It was a sight he’d been afraid he might never see again. She had never been more beautiful.

Her teeth closed on her bottom lip. “Rich. Help me!” She was trying, but something inside her didn’t want to let go.

He locked his eyes with hers. “I love you angel.” His hips bucked against her. Her eyes searched his. “I love you. I love you. I love you.” He repeated the litany over and over, never breaking eye contact.

Finally it was enough, and she let herself fly over the edge, taking him with her. “Richie!” She collapsed on top of him.

His hands came up to stroke her back soothingingly. He smiled and pressed a kiss to her hair when he felt her breathing even out in sleep.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chapter 272

Richie heard voices in the hallway and saw the slow turning of the doorknob and prayed that it would be his wife who walked through the door. Otherwise, he’d never hear the end of it. When Tori slipped through the door and closed and locked it behind her he let out a relieved breath. “Who were you talking to?”

“Jon. He’s going down to the gym. He asked if you wanted to join him, but I told him you were a little tied up at the moment.”

“Ha ha. Funny angel. I’m just doing this for you, you know.”

She started towards the bed. “Aaww poor baby. You act like you don’t like this.” She threw back the blanket she’d covered him with and smirked. “But I can see otherwise.”

He couldn’t deny it. The evidence was there in front of her. What she didn’t know was that it wasn’t the mild bondage that had him so turned on, it was the spark of her usual assertive personality that was finally making an appearance.

She surveyed her prize. “Now then, where were we? Hmmmmmm.” Richie watched her walk into the bathroom and return with a bottle. Climbing on the bed, she straddled him and poured oil in a line down his chest. The scent of vanilla filled his nose and he bit back a groan, and hardened even more, knowing what that meant. She grinned down at him, sapphire eyes sparkling.

He watched in fascination, the emotions playing over her face as she spread her hands and smoothed the oil over his chest and arms. It was like she was relearning every inch of his skin. Every nook and crevice of his body. Seeing the pleasure exploring him obviously gave her, he vowed he’d lay there forever if it would keep that look on her face.

When she had touched to her heart’s content, she lowered her head and proceeded to explore the same territory with her mouth, kissing and licking and sucking the oil off of his skin, scraping his biceps with her teeth when they tensed at the touch of her lips. Raising her head when she’d finished with his arms, she licked her lips and met his eyes. “Mmmm. Tasty.” He grinned and pursed his lips for a kiss. Chuckling, she obliged, transferring the flavour of the oil from her mouth to his. The play of their tongues, the softness and pressure of his lips, threatened to steal her wits as well as her senses and she backed off.

She slid her mouth to his ear to nibble and suck on his earlobe then continued on along his neck, closing her teeth on the hard tendons there. He shuddered. Next, she shifted her attention to his chest. Her lips cruised over the warm skin, removing all traces of the flavoured oil. His breath hissed through his teeth and his back arched when her tongue teased his nipples and she scraped them with her teeth. She glanced up to see him watching her, his eyes hot chocolate pools filled with desire. Grinning, she continued her downward path to his waist.

Sitting up, she moved back until she was straddling his thighs. He closed his eyes and groaned as she picked up the bottle of oil and let it dribble over the swollen crest, down his upright shaft and onto his sac. Slender, teasing fingers spread the oil over his sensitive skin, ensuring every inch was covered. His muscles tensed and his hips lifted against her hand while she played.

“Baby, you’re killing me!”

“Do you want me to stop?” She held her hand still.

The deep purr of her voice was almost as arousing as her touch. His hips bucked. “Not in this lifetime. I might die, but at least I’ll go a happy man.”

Her low chuckle vibrated along his nerve endings while her hand resumed its stroking. Bending her head, she ran her tongue from base to tip, smirking at the sound of his breath hissing through his teeth.

“Angel.” It was a raspy whisper.

“Mmmmmm.” She licked him like an ice cream cone over and over and over again, occassionly sucking the side of his shaft. One hand held him upright, the other cupped and squeezed his sac.

His body tensed and relaxed as he fought against his release. She lifted her head and let her gaze roam over him. His hands were clenched around the scarves binding his wrists, his eyes were squeezed shut, his face was flushed, a fine sheen of sweat covered it and his chest. Running her tongue along his length once again she watched his head tip back and his back arch, a groan forcing its way past his clenched teeth. “Look at me.”

He forced his eyes open. The sight of her hovering over his aching flesh, licking her lips almost sent him over the edge. His eyes drifted shut.

“No! Open your eyes Rich. I want you to watch me.” When he obeyed, she opened her mouth wide and took the throbbing head inside and suckled. She watched his eyes go black. She released him with an audible ‘pop’. Her head tilted slightly as she considered him. “I think you like that.”

He snorted despite the tensness of his muscles. “Just slightly. Jesus angel, don’t you know what you do to me?”

All teasing left her expression. “Tell me.”

The insecurity and doubt in her blue eyes, knowing he was the cause, made his heart ache. He searched for words to describe it. “It starts with your scent – and I don’t mean your perfume or lotion or oil. I mean the scent that is uniquely you. It teases my senses the minute you walk in the room, making me acutely aware of your presence. When you’re close, your heat reaches out to me and I want to bask in your warmth. The touch of your hand, even in a casual way, it makes my skin tingle and hunger for more. The feel of your lips, your tongue, make me fight for control.” He searched her eyes, his own pleading with her to believe him. “I want to lose myself in you. When you touch me like this...” He nodded towards her hand still holding him. “...when you take me into your body, it feels like I’ve come home.” He hesitated. “When you let me touch you, when I can see pleasure in your face and know that I’ve given that to you, I feel....proud....complete....whole. Like I’ve done my job and have fulfilled my purpose.” He smiled gently. “Tori, I love you.”

Her eyes shining, she blinked and smiled in return. “I love you too Rich.” She blew out a breath and had to chuckle when he moaned at the feel of her breath caressing his flesh. Taking pity on him, she once again took him into her mouth, settling into a slow rhythm at first, gradually speeding up. Pausing, she pressed her tongue against the big vein on the underside of his erection, and felt the blood pulsing rapidly there.

He shuddered. “Baby please!”

Relenting, she took him as deep as she could, swallowed, then back off until she held just the head between her lips. She swirled her tongue around the massive tip and along the slit several times. He moaned, his hips lifting towards her. Hands on his hips held him down and she sucked. Hard. Minutes later, with a shout, he exploded, his whole body shaking with the force of his orgasm.

Tori climbed off of him and surveyed her handiwork, satisfied at what she saw. When she untied his wrists, she grinned when she noticed that he didn’t move. He was too busy trying to suck in oxygen and waiting for the spasms racking his body to subside. She leaned over to place a gentle kiss on his lips. “Morning honey.”

If her ministrations to his body hadn’t stolen his breath, the endearment – the first since she’d received the pictures back in April – would have. He didn’t realize, until he heard the word from her lips, how much he’d missed it. Hope bloomed in his chest. He cracked open an eye. “Morning angel.” He closed it again.

She chuckled and headed for the shower. When she came out of the bathroom, she found him still lying flat on the bed. “Are you alive?” She walked into the closet and got dressed.

“Nope. I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ll have to tell Father Frank he’s been leaving something out of his descriptions though the next time I see him.” He raised his voice so that she could hear him.

“Oh?” Returning, she stopped at the side of the bed and brushed his hair off his forehead.

He caught her hand and kissed her palm. “Uh huh. He didn’t tell us we’d have our own personal angel to guide us.”

She laughed and leaned over to kiss him. “You’d better get up and get moving or the guys will be banging on the door.”

“It’s our house, they wouldn’t dare.” She just looked at him. He sighed. “You’re right. Of course they would. Well, Shirley would anyway. I’m moving.” He pouted. “But I’d rather stay here.”

She winked. “Later. I’ll go help Rosa with breakfast. Will you bring Peanut down with you?” He nodded, yawned and scratched his chest.

Down in the kitchen, she was making toast when she heard the men in the dining room. Rosa started carrying in the food.

“Bela? Can Stevie have scrambled eggs?”

“No!” She stared at Rosa, her eyes widening in horror. “He wouldn’t. He has kids. He knows better.”


Picking up the plate of toast she rushed into the dining room to see Stevie safe in his Uncle Jon’s arms and Shirley grinning. She cuffed him in the back of the head.

“Ow!” He rubbed where her palm had connected.

“You know what happens when you play your games on those too young to defend themselves.” She growled.

Richie snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap, rested his chin on her shoulder and nuzzled under her ear. “Easy mama bear, Peanut’s fine.”

“Hmpf.” She picked up a piece of bacon off his plate. “Shirley won’t be if he even thinks about pulling a stunt on the baby.” She bit the bacon in half and offered him the rest.

He opened his mouth and let her feed it to him. “He won’t. He likes breathing too much.”

“Not to mention the colour of his skin and hair.” Jon added.

“Ooh Tori, could we try purple next time?” Ava asked.

Richie grinned. The guys groaned. “Definitely a Sambora.” Was Hugh comment. Richie clinked his juice glass with his daughter’s.

Jon watched the interaction between Tori and Richie. Something had changed. They were both more relaxed. Richie hadn’t released her and Tori showed no sign of wanting to move off his lap. They shared his plate. Jon nodded to himself in satisfaction. Things were moving forward there. Glancing around and seeing that everyone was finished he stood and handed Stevie to his big sister. “Let’s go to work.”

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chapter 271

In their bedroom, Tori got ready for bed, paced around and thought about what she was going to do, and waited for Richie. And waited. Finally, she turned on the T.V. to help her stay awake. She was just about ready to give up and go to sleep when he entered the room.

“You’re still awake.”


He glanced in the cradle as he walked by. “Where’s Peanut?”

“In his bed.” She turned off the T.V.

“No he’s not.”

“In his bed in his room.” She clarified.

“Oh.” It was then he noticed the monitor on her bedside table.

“Since he’s sleeping through the night now, I thought it was time he slept in his own room.”

He nodded and felt his insides clench as he slowly removed his clothes. “Whatever you think is best. I thought you were tired.”

She shrugged and watched him strip and pull on a pair of pajama pants. “I’ve been listening to make sure he settled okay in the crib.”

“Any problems?” He slipped in beside her.

“Nope.” She moved over to cuddle close. “Not a peep.”

His arms closed around her and squeezed briefly. “Night angel.”

Tori rolled to half lie on his chest and reached up to kiss him. “Not so fast there mister.” Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to his. While she explored his mouth with her tongue, sucked and nibbled on his lips, she sent her hands skating over his chest.

He took her sweet torture for several minutes, but when her hands slid down towards his waist he grabbed them. Surprised, she lifted her head and raised a brow at him. He searched her eyes. “Are you really ready for that?” She hesitated, and when she would have spoken he shook his head. “I mean here.” He tapped her forehead with one finger. “Are you ready here?”

“Honestly? No.” She answered. “But that doesn’t mean that you have to suffer.” She started to lean forward again, but he caught her shoulders and stopped her.

Taking a deep breath he shook his head. “No. We’ll wait until you’re ready. I’ll wait.”

She frowned. “But, it’s not necessary....”

He pressed a finger to her lips to stop her flow of words. “No angel. We’ll wait.”

“But...” She tried again, wanting to explain her feelings.

“Tori no! I don’t want that.”

She sucked in a sharp breath. His words were like a knife to her heart. Rolling away from him she reached to shut off the bedside lamp. They lay in silence for several minutes, then Tori rose and left the room, closing the door behind her.

In Stevie’s room she stood staring down at the sleeping baby. She felt like a fool. Obviously Jon was wrong, but she’d managed to convince herself he was right. That Richie’s physical withdrawl from her was due to sexual frustration. Her snort was loud in the silence of the room. Right! Guess that theory just got blown out of the water! It wasn’t desire that was causing his tension – at least not desire for you. She stroked Stevie’s cheek with a fingertip. “Guess it was just you he wanted after all Peanut. But don’t worry. We’ll be okay.”

Across the hall, Richie lay waiting for his body to relax and his heartbeat to slow and thought about what had just happened. As the fog of suppressed desire lifted from his brain, his last words to her came back to him. He winced and prayed that she didn’t take them the way they sounded. A noise had him looking around until he realized it was coming from the baby monitor. Listening to her talking to the baby, his heart sank. His prayer had gone unanswered. “Nice going Rich. Real smart move. Fuck!”

Throwing back the covers he stood and stalked across the hall, stopping in the doorway. “Angel, let me explain.”

She raised a hand to stop him. “No explanation necessary. You were pretty clear. You don’t want me. I get it. I just wish you’d been man enough to be honest with me before I drove all the way back here and allowed myself to hope that we actually had a chance of regaining what we had. That you truly wanted to. More fool me.” Stiffening her spine she pushed by him.

He followed her back to their room and closed the door behind him. “I swear to God woman, you’re going to drive me crazy! Not want you?” He gave a short bark of laughter. “I want you so bad just being in the same room with you makes me hard! Sharing a bed with you has been pure agony! But I didn’t want to push. I was told to take it slow and let you tell me when you’re ready. I’ve been taking cold showers two, sometimes three times a day just to keep from embarrassing myself in front of the guys.” Her skeptical look made him want to growl in frustration. “Why won’t you believe me?”

“I waited up for you tonight because I wanted to take the first step towards trying to put some intimacy back in our relationship and you stopped me and told me you didn’t want it. Those were your exact words Rich. ‘I don’t want that.’ Not too many ways to interpret those words. In fact I can only think of one.”

“I meant that I didn’t want to selfishly take my pleasure while you took none. That wouldn’t be fair to you.” When she just shook her head, he strode across the room, grabbed her hand and pressed it against his aching erection. “Does that feel like I don’t want you?”

“Then why Richie? Why did you turn me away?”

“I told you. Because it wouldn’t be fair to you. Lovemaking is about sharing, not one person taking while the other gets nothing.” She shivered. “Come back to bed and get warm.”

Climbing into bed, she waited until he joined her then rolled onto her side to face him. “What if we can’t get it back?” She murmured.

“Get what back?”

“What we had. What if.....what if I’m never ready? What if we’ve lost that connection and we can’t get it back?” Her eyes filled at the thought.

“Oh honey.” He opened his arms and held her close when she accepted the invitation. “We’ll get it back. It’s just going to take some time.” He kissed her. “If we both want it bad enough, we’ll get there.”

She sighed. “I hope you’re right.”

For a long time Tori laid and listened to Richie’s heartbeat under her ear and his even breathing as he slept and thought about everything that had happened earlier. The more she thought about it, the more her pain turned to anger and determination. Once again Richie was making decisions for her without discussing them first. She understood and appreciated that he thought he was doing the right thing and was being considerate of her feelings, but once again it backfired. And since when did she sit back and let anyone make decisions for her? She knew what she wanted and what she had to do to get it better than anyone else. It was time she reminded Richie who he was dealing with.

Tori awoke early and planned her strategy. Richie shifted in his sleep to lie on his back, one arm curled over his head. A slow smile curved her lips. She reached over to her bedside table and opened the drawer, removing several scarves.

Richie stirred and frowned in his sleep when he couldn’t move his arms. He opened his eyes to find himself naked and tied to the bed, his wife sitting beside him. She smirked. “You really are a sound sleeper.”

“What’s going on?”

She ran one finger down the centre of his chest. “I don’t think I made myself clear last night. I’ll be damned if I’ll let you play the martyr and make me feel bad.” Reversing direction, she stroked back up his chest, then circled his nipples over and over. His back arched slightly. “You see, while I’m not ready to....go all the way...” She smirked. “, I know that I have to work towards that.” Her expression turned serious. “What’s holding me back is the fear of losing control like I do with you everytime we make love. You know how hard it was for me to accept that in the beginning.” He nodded. “It’s the trust factor. So....I figured that the best way to overcome that is to start slowly, in an environment where I feel comfortable, and in control, and work from there.”

“And this is it?” He looked pointedly at the scarves binding his arms.

She grinned. “This way I can have my way with you and you can’t stop me.” She sobered. “I want to do this Rich. I need to do this. I need to try to reconnect with you this way. You’ve been trying so hard. It’s my turn.”

He searched her eyes for a long moment, then blew out a breath, bracing himself for what was coming. “Be gentle with me.” His lips twisted wryly. “And don’t expect it to last very long. A hundred and twenty-six days is a long time.”

Her glance drifted over his torso to his shaft standing tall and proud. She ran her fingers lightly up and down it. “Did he miss me?”

He closed his eyes briefly as he fought for control and groaned softly. “Baby, you have no idea!” Sweat broke out on his brow when her hand closed around him and squeezed. “Jesus!”

For long minutes the only sound in the room were her soft chuckles, and his groans and harsh rasping breath as she stroked him. Suddenly, he couldn’t take it anymore. “Angel, I can’t hold on much longer, I....I’m going to....” His breath caught in his throat as she took the swollen head into her mouth and sucked. Pressing his head back into the pillow, his body stiffened and he exploded.

Raising her head, she licked her lips, but before she could speak, the baby’s cries came through the monitor. She glanced at her watch. “Fifteen minutes later than yesterday.”

He watched her rise from the bed, pull a blanket over him and head for the door. “Hey! Aren’t you going to untie me?”

She turned to look at him and slowly shook her head. “No. I’m not done with you yet.”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chapter 270

A couple days later, Tori rushed into the studio. “Sorry I’m late. Ava fell and scraped her knee and Stevie slept late and threw his feeding schedule off.” She set Stevie’s carrier on a chair behind Shanks.

Richie frowned. “Is Bean okay?” He bent to kiss her, inhaled and barely stifled a groan. Teeth clenched, he moved to kiss his son.

“Yeah, she’s fine. Just a scrape.” She assured him as she set down the diaper bag and moved into the recording room to greet the guys.

Jon noticed Richie’s tension, but couldn’t see the cause of it – other than his wife’s proximity.

Tori walked over to where Jon was looking over his notes for the song they were working on. He handed her the lyrics. David joined them and stood reading over her shoulder. Suddenly she felt his nose in her neck.

“Damn Bela! You smell good enough to eat! What is that? Vanilla?”

She pushed him away. “We need to either get Karin out here or finish this album so that you can get home. You need to get laid!” Jon looked at Richie who didn’t look up from the guitar he was tuning. Tori shook her head. “Men!”

Jon waited until David had moved away before shifting closer and lowering his voice. “Yes he is and so is Richie. Don’t forget that.”

She frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“Richie and you. He’s a man. You’re a woman. His woman. His wife. And he loves you very much.”

“Yeah, and your point?”

“Four and half months is a long time to be.......hungry. In fact, it can be downright painful. That’s all I’m going to say. Just think about it.”

His wording and the insinuation in his tone following on the heels of David’s comments told Tori what he was talking about. She frowned. Had it really been that long? She looked over at Richie. Why hasn’t he said anything? It didn’t take much thought to find the answer to that one. He was waiting for her. He didn’t want to push her.

“Okay. Let’s get back to work.” Jon got everyone’s attention.

Tori found herself having to fight to focus on the job at hand. Everytime they stopped her thoughts turned to Richie.

“Tori, let’s try that again, but this time take it up half a step in the third chorus.” Jon instructed. When she didn’t respond he glanced over to see her staring in Richie’s direction. “Tori. TORI!”

She jerked. “What? Sorry. Up half a step in the third chorus. Got it.”

Back at the house, they ate dinner, then sprawled around the livingroom, to either watch T.V. or play a game. Ava, Tori, Hugh and David were playing Monopoly. David rolled the dice, moved his piece and groaned as Ava giggled.“Rich I think I know what Ava’s going to be when she grows up. A real estate tycoon. She’s cleaning me out!”

“You owe me $1500, Uncle Shirley. Pay up.” Ava held out her hand. When he didn’t hand over the money immediately, she thumbed her nose and put on a Jersey accent. “Am I goin to hafta send the boys ‘round to see ya?”

They all burst out laughing. Richie reached out to tug on her ponytail. “Somebody’s been watching too many movies.”

Ava shrugged. Tori snorted. “Growing up around you guys, what do you expect?”

After Ava went to bed, Tori fed Stevie and handed him to Richie. “The bassinet’s beside your chair if you want to lay him down.”

Richie smiled down into his son’s eyes. “Hi Peanut. You’re awake! You going to hang out with Daddy and your uncles for a bit?”

Tori smiled, went into the kitchen to get a drink, then slipped outside to sit in a lounge chair and think. Now that Jon had opened her eyes, a lot of things that had happened over the last few weeks took on a different meaning. The changes in Richie’s behaviour had been slight, but now loomed large in her mind. He still kissed her hello and goodbye, good morning and good night, but he didn’t prolong the physical contact like he used to. While he would share the couch with her, there was no cuddling to watch T.V. At night he would still hold her, but he’d taken to coming to bed after she was asleep, and would move away as soon as he woke up. She’d chalked it up to the guys being there and them sitting up late talking, and in the morning they were usually awakened by the baby, so she had to get up immediately too, but now she wasn’t so sure. In fact, she’d been so preoccupied with the baby and working through her own feelings over the whole fiasco, that she really hadn’t given much consideration to his feelings – at least in regards to his physical needs. Part of her felt guilty about that, but part of her – the larger part – argued that she wasn’t ready. If it had been any other man, she might have been, but not with him. Not.... with..... him. Their connection was too strong, too overwhelming. When they made love she lost all control. There was no him or her, just them. Their joined bodies, joined souls. It had been that way from the very beginning. But that kind of intimacy takes a huge amount of trust and she just didn’t have that right now. It was slowly getting better, but she wasn’t ready to take that leap. She was too scared. Scared of letting him get that close again. Scared of getting hurt again.

Sipping her drink, she sighed, rose and walked around the back yard. Was it fair to make Richie suffer because she wasn’t ready? Would denying him only push him to look elsewhere to fulfil his needs? Her eyes filled at the thought. The physical part of their relationship had always been so wonderful, so beautiful, so incredibly satisfying. And she was terrified that they’d never be able to get that back. That the closeness they’d shared, that she’d never felt with anyone else was gone forever.

She blew out a hiccupping breath and stared up at the stars. The only way to find out was to try, but she wasn’t sure she had the courage. But she knew she’d lose him if she didn’t. What happened to my nice, happy life? Other people manage to meet someone, fall in love, get married, have children and live happily ever after without their life turning into a soap opera, why can’t I? Why can’t things be like they used to be?

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and struggled to pull herself together. Enough with the pity party Tori! It’s time to fight. For your man, for your family, for your happiness. You knew this wasn’t going to be easy. But nothing good ever is. You can’t expect him to do all the work. You’ve got to meet him halfway. Time to step up to the plate. With new determination, she began to think of her options. If she couldn’t go the full distance right away, she at least needed to take a step or two towards the goal.

“Angel? Are you okay?”

At the sound of Richie’s voice, she quickly wiped away her tears before turning to face him. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You sure?” His dark eyes were shadowed with concern.

She nodded and managed a smile. “Yeah, I’m sure.” She hugged him briefly, then stepped away. “Just enjoying the night and thinking. Did you need something?” She inwardly grimaced at her own words.

He shook his head. “No, I just wondered where you’d gone.”

“I just needed a little ‘me’ time. And you guys didn’t need me around disrupting Peanut’s induction into the club.”

“What club?”

“The Jovi men’s club.”

He chuckled. “Most of that comes later...around puberty.”

She shook her head. “I shudder at the thought. Warn me when those lessons are going to start so that I can make sure that Ava and I are far, far away.” She yawned. “I think I’m going to go up to bed.”

“Okay. I’ll be up in a bit.”

She nodded. “I’ll take Peanut with me.”
This is my nice little story turned epic with Richie in the starring role - although Jon plays a large part.