I called the cat-sitter, my best friend actually, and she had no problem watching the fur balls until I returned. I didn’t give her any details yet, knowing I’d be pelted with questions, and decided I’d rather tell her later when I was alone. Something important had come up was all I said and that was good enough for her. As we were getting dressed and packing, I realized I really did need to buy clothes. I’d only packed enough for the weekend and it looked like I’d be staying a lot longer.
“I only packed enough clothes for the weekend” I lamented and Jon flashed me his most wicked smirk, dismissing my dilemma.
“Not to worry, babe. I’ll just have to find reasons to keep you naked” he grinned.
I grabbed a loose shirt from my suitcase and threw it on over my jeans before he could make good on the threat. I was anxious to get this meeting with his kids and Dot over with and I knew he was too. I wrapped my arms about his neck and kissed him, as I whispered in his ear.
“After we get to your place tonight” I promised and he nodded.
In less than an hour we were ready.
Rick grinned to see me again when he arrived at the penthouse to fetch the bags and I opened the door. As he reached for mine, Jon warned him.
“She packed rocks in that one, I swear” he groaned and Rick looked directly at Jon.
“Unlike some people I know, most women change their clothes once in a while” he jibed, swinging Jon’s overnight bag over one shoulder and lifting my suitcase and carryon in one swift movement.
I giggled and Jon pursed his lips and made a face at us. It was true. Jon had the same clothes on again that he’d worn at the conference. He hadn’t packed anything else besides his gig clothes, I discovered.
We proceeded to the waiting limo in the back of the building while Rick checked us both out. I was glad to avoid the lobby and we slipped into the back seat without attracting any attention. I heard Rick get in the front seat and shut the door. Jon poured us each a glass of wine and instructed the driver to stop somewhere for lunch and the nearest Tim Horton’s to get me my fix. Then he turned his attention to me.
“What do you want to do today while I’m meeting with the kids? Rick can take you sight-seeing or shopping, whatever you like.”
I was grateful to have Rick as an escort since I really didn’t know my way around.
“I really want to see the sites for the first time with you, so I’d rather go shopping. I am anxious to get some clothes so I’ve got something else to wear this week” I said, thinking shopping could always distract me when needed.
“I suppose you do need some clothes after all. There’s a party later in the week too and you’ll need a cocktail dress or something if we go, but there’s plenty of time to worry about that” he said in between sips of wine.
“Jon, I don’t know where to find stuff like that. And besides, I’m on a Wal-Mart budget. This weekend already drained my bank account” and that was the truth.
The hotel, two tickets I’d purchased for two shows along with the airplane ticket had depleted my savings. The one thing we could never share equally was the financial contribution. Jon was serious then as he considered this fact.
“Will you let me take care of this piece, at least? Please? I want to do this” he replied, acknowledging my need not to feel dependent, but recognizing there was no way I could ever compete with his bank account as he pulled a credit card from his wallet and handed it to me.
“Let me do the guy thing and at least pay for stuff!” he added.
This was a big one. I’d always been the one with more money in my past relationships. It allowed me to feel independent and in control of my life, but I’d also felt resentful at times for having to be responsible for everything. But it wasn’t fair to expect him to adapt his lifestyle to my budget. This was going to be really tricky. I sat there staring at the American Express card in his hand. Money always made things complicated.
“I appreciate the offer, but…” I began when he interrupted.
“You said you wanted to share responsibility for things. I just have more money to share. Please, darlin’” he lifted my face to meet his eyes and put the credit card in my hand. “Don’t fight me on this. I want to share what I have, so let me.”
As I looked into his eyes, I knew he meant what he said. I would gladly share anything I had with this man and he wanted to do the same. It wasn’t about control or dependency.
“Okay. Thank you. What’s mine is yours, too. I just don’t have the resources you do, but you’re welcome to whatever I have” I said, relenting, as I took the card.
“I know that, baby, I know that. And remember, it’s not about the money. It’s about sharing what we have” he said softly as he held me in his arms, stroking my hair.
I loved this man so much I could have cried. The limo stopped then and the sliding window between the front seat and us opened.
“We’re at Sonic and Tim Horton’s is down the road. What’ll you have?” Rick called back.
Jon leaned over me and rolled down the window and we looked at the posted menu. He ordered a burger, a shake and fries and looked at me.
“You have to eat something” he said as I debated, not being really hungry.
“Salad? Yeah, chicken salad wrap” I decided.
Jon seemed satisfied then after adding a sundae and two spoons. He devoured his burger while I nibbled on my lunch as we drove down the road to Tim Horton’s.
“I don’t usually eat breakfast or lunch” I explained as he peered at me over the burger while taking another bite.
“That’s not good for you. You should eat” he mumbled.
“I’m eating, okay?” I said as I took another bite.
He nodded. The air from the open window felt good and it smelled like the river or the ocean wasn’t far away. I peered out the window.
“Where are we?” I wondered.
“Getting close to the Jersey shore. There’s a shopping center not too far where you and Rick can spend the afternoon while I’m with the kids. I’ll call Rick on the cell from the house when I’m ready to leave and then I’ll meet you there.”
He was starting on the sundae now and offered me a mouthful of ice cream. I’d had enough of the chicken wrap and opened my mouth. He really seemed to enjoy feeding me. Must be the Italian thing, I thought. He ordered two large coffees with cream at the drive-thru window and I noted that he knew how I liked it.
“Is there anything else I should get for us while I’m shopping? Like food?” I teased.
“Uhmmm, yeah, actually. There isn’t much to eat at my place since I don’t really cook. Do you want to go out for dinner or just stay home tonight?” That was an easy question.
“Home” I said, liking the way that sounded.
“Cool. Just pick up whatever you want, I’m not fussy. I’ll eat anything”.
“Really? I hadn’t noticed” I laughed.
He gave me the duck lips as he swallowed the last mouthful of ice cream. I leaned over to lick off the chocolate at the corner of his lips and he caught my tongue with his mouth, drawing it in. I felt myself melting against him then, wishing we had more time to follow where that could lead, but the limo had stopped. We were at the shopping center and I could see the ocean in the distance.
“Damn. We’re here already” he echoed my thoughts. “Rick knows the area and he’ll take you around. Everything is within walking distance and I’ll be back as soon as I can” he said as Rick opened the door for me. I hated to get out, but I knew I had to.
“I’ll miss you” I said as I gave him a quick kiss good-bye and stepped out of the limo. I felt a tug on my hand and I turned.
“I’ll be thinking about you too” Jon said as he released my hand and Rick shut the door. I stood there watching as the limo drove off.