Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sauna Part 185

The rest of the evening passed quickly as we laughed and joked with our friends. We had an opportunity to get to know a bit more about John and it was clear that he loved Dot with all his heart and she returned his affection. If seeing them together had bothered Jon at all, he didn’t show it. It seemed to allay any lingering doubts he might have had about how his kids would fare with their potential step-father and I noted how different he was from their real dad. Where Jon could command center stage without trying, the other John had no such gift for drawing attention to himself. He wasn’t really shy so much as he was unassuming and I gathered that Dot found that especially appealing after years of having to share her husband with a stage. Dot was the center of the world for this John and from where I sat, it appeared to be mutual.

Richie tried hard to keep his tone light, and my heart ached at his effort. It was an obvious struggle and I noticed the sadness that stole across his features when he thought that no one was watching. I wondered how Elaine could have thrown away one of the dearest men I had ever known on the chance that she might be able to bed my husband if he was too drunk to say no. I doubted that Jon could ever be that drunk.

“Richie, can you give me a hand in the kitchen?” I asked.

“Sure doll, right behind you” he said with a forced smile.

“Richie…” I began as I measured the coffee and Richie filled up the water container.

“What do you need, Trish?” he asked indulgently.

“Not a thing, Richie, but I think you could use a little time away from the crowd” I said as I gave him a hug.

Richie collapsed against me and his body sagged as he let down the wall and let go. I stroked his back as I murmured soothing words against him and he sobbed on my shoulder, finally giving vent to the sadness he’d been trying to conceal. I saw Jon approaching to see if we needed help and I motioned to him to just give us some time and he nodded.

“I’ve seen you holding back the tears all day, my friend, and I can only imagine how hard that’s been. It’s okay, Richie, you don’t have to pretend. I am so deeply sorry and I would do anything to take away your pain. I never would have encouraged you to pursue Elaine if I’d ever thought back then that she was capable of …” I stammered, a little shaken by the force of his emotion.

“…such a betrayal?” Richie finished as he stepped back and looked at me.

“Yes” I acknowledged and I hung my own head in shame, wishing like hell that I’d never met her.

“Trish, it isn’t your fault or Jon’s. It was mine. When I look back there were signs I chose to ignore. I’m forty-eight, for Christ’s sake. How could I be such a fool?” he said in a voice that was suddenly icy.

“I know Richie, I know, we saw signs too, but even I didn’t believe it at first. It was just a feeling and I felt I’d already done enough damage by getting in the middle when she lost it that night of the show. Richie, please promise me something, okay?” I asked as he looked at me.

“Anything, kiddo” he replied, his features softening again.

“Promise me that you won’t change because of what Elaine did to you, to me, to all of us. It was all her, Richie. It was Elaine who betrayed you and fooled us all. You committed no sin. All you did was love her and trust her and that’s what makes you the wonderful man you are, don’t you know that? Please, Richie, please don’t change because of her. She was the one who was unworthy, not you. Promise me that you won’t give up searching for someone worthy of your love, okay?” I begged as the tears rolled down my cheek.

“Aaawww, Trish” he said softly, hanging his head.

“Promise me, Richie” I demanded as I raised his chin and looked at him searchingly.

“As long as you and Jonny are there to remind me it’s possible, I’ll promise. I don’t want to stop believing” he said genuinely.

I hugged him again and he squeezed me so hard I could barely breathe. I wanted so much to heal his aching soul. Elaine had wounded Richie deeply and it wasn’t going to be as easy as pulling a thorn from his paw, but I was determined that we would do everything possible to see him through yet another loss. I couldn’t understand why the Gods would let such a gentle soul suffer so and I had to believe that things would change for him just as they had for me and Jon. Richie would find his soul mate yet and one day the pain he felt now would be matched by joy a thousand times stronger. Richie took a deep breath and hugged me one more time, as he sighed.

“Thanks Trish, I needed that. I’ll be okay, really. I’m glad I still have my friends, although you and Jon are really more like family. Do you think I might be able to steal Zeke for the night? I think I need my little buddy” he grinned with a sad smile.

“Richie, I don’t think we could keep him away” I smiled back affectionately as we headed back to the group in the living room.

It was getting late and Dot wanted to get home and get Romeo to bed and Jakey was beginning to get whiny. He had been really good all evening, but he was bored with all the adult discussion and he was overtired. Jon scooped Romeo into his arms as Dot and John told him it was time to go home. Jakey grabbed hold of Jon’s leg and begged to stay over, but Jon managed to dislodge him with a promise that they would have time together very soon.

“Hey, buddy, c’mon. It’s my wedding night tonight, but we’ll get together this week, I promise” Jon said soothingly.

“Oh yeah, I forgot” Jakey said sheepishly as he got ready to leave and I was again struck by how much he resembled his father in certain moments.

Jesse had been talking with Tico about painting and he had shown him the drawing he had done at Zoar which we had had framed and hung alongside the stairs. I overheard Tico promise to help him try painting and I smiled, thinking perhaps we could get him some painting supplies for Christmas too. Stephanie had been rather quiet and hung back a bit, but I noticed she had been watching Richie all evening. As everyone made ready to leave, including Tico and Eva, I saw Stephanie approach Richie. He gave her a hug and she whispered something in his ear.

“I love you, Richie. I’m sorry about Elaine” she said simply as she hugged him back.

“Thanks Stephie, I love you too” Richie said as he hugged her and our eyes met over her shoulder.

Soon it was just the three of us and the house felt pretty quiet again. It had been a long day and I was glad it was over and I knew that Richie could finally relax and let down his guard. He looked exhausted and I noticed the lines and wrinkles on his face for the first time. Richie had never looked his age, but tonight it was beginning to show and I guessed he was dreading the thought of spending the night alone in an empty bed.

“What should we do? Is anyone hungry?” I asked, looking at all the leftover snacks and hors d’oevres and trying to stall.

“Trish, it’s your wedding night, even if it is the second time with this lout” Richie teased as he shoved Jon towards me.

Jon slipped his arm around my waist and kissed my cheek tenderly as he squeezed me against him. I wanted to lose myself in Jon’s arms, but I was concerned about leaving Richie alone and he must have sensed what I was thinking.

“I’ll be alright tonight, you two, okay? Let me clean up and put all the food away and then I’m gonna find my little four-footed buddy and hit the sack” Richie assured us.

Almost as if on cue, Zeke appeared in the kitchen and brushed against Richie’s leg and we all had to chuckle. The house was back to normal in Zeke’s eyes and he mewed softly as Richie bent down to pick him up. They were quite a pair and even Jon grinned as he patted the cat’s head.

“Hey you, take care of my best friend tonight, will you?” Jon instructed the cat, charging him with the duty to keep Richie company.

“See? I’m in good hands-or paws-as the case may be” Richie quipped and I relented.

“Alright then, I can see you won’t be alone” I conceded as I kissed Richie goodnight.

“Thanks guys, really. I mean it. I don’t know what I would have done today without all of you, and Tico too. And Jon, I am so sorry, man. I don’t know what possessed me to strike out at you. I …” he began but Jon interrupted.

“Say no more, man. But I will send you the bill for the car” Jon smirked and Richie nodded a bit sheepishly.

“Okay, now shoo! Zeke and I will clean up the food; you two get out of here and do what ‘newlyweds’ do, okay?” Richie prompted and we smiled as we took our leave.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Sauna Part 184

Once we were alone, Jon undressed and got into the shower. He filled me in on all that had happened and I was glad that he and Richie had managed to sort things out. After the initial shock and denial wore off, Richie had accepted what he told him had happened and he believed him. He hadn’t even wanted to talk to Elaine as there was nothing she could say once he’d actually heard Jon repeat what she’d said, word for word. He and Jon had been friends for most of their lives and Richie trusted him.

I helped Jon get ready and I very gingerly shaved his face and we reapplied the ice pack. It was really too late to bring down the swelling, but it wouldn’t hurt. He pulled me against him and sighed heavily, holding onto me for comfort and reassurance and I clung to him for the same. The past twenty-four hours had been the most difficult we’d experienced so far. Jon sat down on the bed and watched as I slipped on the dress that Stephanie and I had found and he caught his breath.

“Baby, you look gorgeous. We look like ‘Beauty and the Beast’” he laughed as he drew me to him, removing the ice pack as he gazed at our reflection in the mirror.

“You’re still pretty to me, baby” I teased as I kissed his nose lightly.

We made our way out to the kitchen and headed straight for the wine. The caterers had arrived and Eva had taken charge and was showing them where to set up. It was just after four and everyone would soon be arriving. Richie had changed his shirt and planted himself at the kitchen table and was sipping his coffee, forgoing any more alcohol at the moment. He looked up as we joined him and he smiled wanly.

“Trish, you look beautiful, doll. I am so sorry I messed up Jonny boy for the pictures” he grinned sheepishly.

“As long as the damage isn’t permanent, I can forgive you for that, Richie” I said, trying to smile.

His whole world had crumbled completely and the pictures were the last thing I cared about. The doorbell rang and I excused myself as I went to greet the first of the guests. I opened the door and I was caught off guard by the sudden flash of a camera as it momentarily blinded me. I slammed the door instantly without thinking.

“Jon!” I bellowed in alarm, still blinking from the flash of the cameras.

Jon and Richie ran into the foyer and they knew instantly what had happened. They were both used to the sudden intrusions on their privacy and while they hoped we’d be lucky, they’d both half-expected this.

“Fuck! We don’t need this shit, not today!” Jon swore.

“Let me go make a statement, bro. It’s me they’re after today and this is all my fault anyway” Richie offered.

I could hear the weariness in his voice and I felt my temper rising again. This was just too much and I was in no mood to be accommodating. I put my hand on Richie’s shoulder and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him as I whispered softly in his ear.

“Not today, Richie. I will take care of this” I promised him and he looked at me gratefully.

Jon led Richie away from the door and I took a deep breath. I was feeling protective and pretty feisty. This was my house, dammit, and there were limits! The paparazzi had crossed that line when they showed up on my doorstep and I intended to let them know that in no uncertain terms. The guys had always been willing to placate their demands, but I felt no such obligation as I opened the door again.

“This is our home and as such it is private property. Our family has had a personal tragedy recently and we would appreciate your understanding right now. Please respect that we would like some time to heal before making any statements publicly and I can assure you that we will contact you when things have settled down” I announced.

It wasn’t a large crowd and I was glad that there weren’t more than half a dozen reporters and their camera crew. I saw the look of disappointment on several faces while others appeared rather contrite. Good, they should be ashamed, I thought to myself. I wondered what they had already heard and I suspected that Elaine had gone straight to the press to plead her case. One younger woman in the crowd piped up then and asked a question.

“Are Richie and Jon alright? Can you please just tell us that much?” she asked anxiously and I softened as I saw that her question showed more concern than curiosity.

“Richie and Jon are perfectly okay and there is no need for concern. It was a small misunderstanding between brothers and it’s been corrected” I said and she nodded.

The others seemed satisfied and followed her lead and left us in peace. I knew there would be a reckoning later, but they seemed pacified at the moment and they knew that camping out on our doorstep would only incite our rancor and they valued the relationship they had established with the band. I closed the door and that signaled the end of the discourse.

“Thanks, Trish” Richie said dejectedly as I returned to the kitchen.

Jon kissed my cheek and I was pleased that for once he had allowed me to take care of him. He had called Dot and advised her to come a bit later and he had phoned the mayor and told him the same. Neither had asked any questions and the mayor had been running late anyway. Eva and Tico had joined us and we all breathed a sigh of relief.


It was now six o’clock and almost everyone had arrived. The press had disappeared and Dot had told us what she had heard via the grapevine and we filled in some of the gaps, but left out the details. The kids were upset, especially Jakey, when they saw their dad’s face, but the swelling had eased somewhat and it looked a little less obvious than it had. Dot had introduced us all to her boyfriend and I noticed that he was very low-key and rather unflappable and his presence had a calming effect.

The mayor of Rumson arrived just before seven and apologized profusely for being so late. Jon made light of his injured nose and the mayor didn’t press for any details as we were anxious to get on with the ceremony. Stephanie looked lovely in her dress and Richie teased her about looking so grown up. She was delighted and I instinctively knew that her presence would be more of a balm for Richie than anything else we could have arranged.

The ceremony was brief and we followed a traditional script, having opted not to insert our own vows this time. Richie took quite a few pictures and he struggled to catch Jon in a good light, but soon gave up the challenge as he realized that there wasn’t a flattering angle to be found as his swollen nose dominated every shot. The whole ritual was more memorable for what had happened earlier in the day than it was for the words that were spoken.

“You may kiss the bride” the mayor concluded.

Jon took me in his arms and dipped me as he kissed me hard on the lips and we tried to avoid hitting our noses. His sense of drama compelled him to make it a show in some fashion and I laughed at the gesture as Richie and Tico whistled in the background. Stephanie hugged me and her dad and we posed for a group photo with Jon holding Romeo. Even Jakey seemed to be in good humor and I was relieved that it all went so smoothly. We were now “officially” husband and wife in the eyes of the world.

The mayor left shortly after the ceremony and he assured us that we’d be getting our paperwork in the mail. We thanked him for making the time to come and perform the ceremony at our house and he congratulated us and wished us well. The cats had all but disappeared with all the noise and commotion and only Opie remained bravely out in plain sight and soaked up the attention lavished upon him as Jesse and Steph both took turns petting him.

“Looks like someone’s enjoying himself” Eva grinned as she nodded at the big purring cat surrounded by his young admirers.

“I never thought I would see Jon living with a cat, let alone …how many do you have Trish?” Dot chortled as she tried to remember.

“Four furry devils now” Jon answered as he rolled his eyes and we all laughed.

“And how do the cats like living with Jon?” Eva quipped.

This, of course, was Richie’s opportunity to jump in and he kept everyone in stitches as he described how Zeke had immediately bonded to him and ignored Jon completely. Jon and I both found ourselves looking around the room unconsciously, expecting to see Zeke suddenly appear on cue as he was so often apt to do, but there were too many strangers tonight.

“Dot, I wanted to thank you for the beautiful bouquets that you sent! They are lovely and we were so surprised when the florist showed up this morning. That was so thoughtful” I said, feeling sheepish that I’d forgotten my manners in all the excitement earlier.

“I wanted to do something special for both of you and to let you know that I’m glad Jon picked you to be his wife” she replied with genuine affection.

I hugged Dot and I really was glad she had come. In an odd sort of way it felt like the stamp of approval and I knew we were lucky to have hit it off as well as we did. I felt like I’d really been accepted into another family and it was good to spend the evening with true friends.

“Teek, honey, get the wedding present out from the car, will you” Eva whispered and Tico excused himself as he went to retrieve it.

He returned with a huge package wrapped in plain brown paper and set it in front of Jon and me. I knew from the shape that it had to be a painting and I was excited to see Tico’s work, so Jon let me do the honors. I tore open the wrapping and everyone crowded around to see what Tico had created.

“Oh my Goddess” I breathed as I stared at the canvas.

“Teek, man, that’s … wow!” Jon stammered, speechless himself.

The painting was spectacular but what made it so special was the subject. It was entitled ‘The Kiss’ and it was a picture of Jon and me in a candid moment as we stole a kiss, surrounded by a shroud of mist. It was breathtaking and the scene captivated me.

“There’s a story behind this too” Tico grinned as we turned to listen.

“Early on, when Jon had just gotten to know Trish, I had asked him how they had met. He told me the story and we all laughed at the circumstances, but I’ll tell you this. One night during a show, Jon took a break before the encore, and he rushed to the side of the stage. I saw the look on his face before he kissed Trish and I knew. I knew then and there that they were meant to be together and this was my attempt to blend the elements of that first meeting with what I thought the future would hold” he finished.

I was astonished. Tico had sensed what even Jon and I hadn’t known at the time and the painting represented our first meeting as well as the eternal nature of our love and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Tears rolled down my face as I absorbed all that the painting personified and Jon was too moved to speak. Tico gave me a hug and whispered in my ear.

“Jonny was reborn the day that he met you” he said so softly that only I could hear.

“Tico, I don’t know what to say” Jon said as he stared at the painting. “I can’t possibly thank you enough” he added, moved now to tears himself.

Eva’s face shone brightly at the reaction and she looked at her husband with pride. Tico could always recognize love and he was a romantic at heart, but he had captured so much more, she thought as she smiled at him.

“Tico, it’s the most astounding painting I have ever seen and I am so thankful” I added, finding my voice finally.

“Well, shit, Teek, you really outdid yourself with this. It’s fuckin’ awesome” Richie said appreciatively. “But damn, man, I wish you’d let me present my gift first. I sure don’t wanna have to follow your act” he chuckled and we all laughed.

Richie bounded up the stairs in a couple of strides and returned with a huge box which he placed at Jon’s feet.

“Aaawww, just go ahead and open it” he said with a pout.

Jon untied the bow and tore off the wrapping paper. He opened the box and I held it as he drew out a huge wooden statue carved in the shape of a cat. Dot nearly choked on her wine and I laughed so hard I was crying again. Jon stared at the larger than life representation of a cat and then looked again at Richie who was nearly hysterical as he spoke.

“At least this one won’t run away from you!” he said with a smirk.

Everyone roared and Stephanie giggled too as she picked it up and examined it more closely. She held up the giant cat and then turned it around to show us. Jon was still shaking his head and laughing as he looked at his daughter.

“What is it Steph?” he asked through his laughter.

“Dad, it looks just like Zeke!” she announced.

Jon looked at it again more closely and then shot Richie a glance. She was right. It was the spitting image of Zeke and there was no denying it and that landed Richie another round of hysterics. I could hardly believe the resemblance myself as I went over to Richie and planted a kiss on his nose. Jon smacked him in the arm as his duck lips formed the familiar pout.

“How on earth…?” Jon wondered.

“I had a picture Trish sent me where I was holding him and I took it to a local artist I knew. I just couldn’t resist” Richie confessed and Jon just hung his head in defeat.

“You got me, bro” he said as he held the cat statue on his lap and looked at the face.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sauna Part 183

Eva came downstairs with Elaine right on her heels, but she ran to my side as soon as she saw the state I was in. Elaine stopped dead in her tracks as she watched from the doorway. I was beside myself as I sobbed into Eva’s shoulder.

“Trish! What’s the matter? Shit, what happened?” she asked, shaking me.

I looked up and saw Elaine standing there, dressed demurely in something Eva had found for her to wear. The outrage and venom that had been seething inside me since last night erupted as I saw her standing there helplessly. I shook myself free of Eva’s embrace and I lunged at her, unleashing a torrent of invectives.

“You fucking little whore! You evil bitch! Get out of my house before I kill you!” I screamed.

Elaine stumbled back against the wall as I hit her full force and she crumpled to the ground, covering her head with her hands. This gesture only enraged me further and I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her as hard as I could and yanked her to her feet. Eva was afraid I would kill her and pulled me away as she looked at Elaine coldly.

“You heard her-get out!” Eva shouted, but Elaine hesitated, pretending to be the victim.

“But I haven’t done anything! What’s happened? Trish, please!” she protested.

“Eva, get her out of my house and out of my sight before I kill her, I mean it” I warned, trembling with rage.

Elaine cringed in the corner as Eva moved towards her and hauled her up to a standing position. Elaine shrieked in terror as she swooped down on her and I imagined that Eva appeared much like an avenging Valkyrie as she dragged Elaine towards the door. She pushed her out into the yard and slammed the door in her face, locking it behind her, before returning to me.

“Thank you” I said, as I began to collect myself and calm down. “I just couldn’t bear the sight of her for one more blessed minute.”

“I don’t blame you, but what happened? Where’s Tico?” Eva asked gently.

I told her as much as I knew and she nodded and tried to reassure me that the guys would work it out between them. We could hear Elaine wailing on the front porch and we both snickered, but I knew she was causing a scene.

“Eva, would you grab her things upstairs and toss them out to her so she can call a cab and tell her that I’ll call the police myself if she doesn’t stop yammering. Beyond that I don’t care” I smiled wearily.

Eva accomplished that task with some relish before joining me at the kitchen table. Elaine had stopped her ranting outside and all was quiet, at least for the moment. Coffee, for once, seemed less important than wine and I poured us each a glass as we heaved a sigh of relief. There was nothing more to do now but wait. The next piece was up to the boys.


Tico had arrived at the diner in record time and even he was surprised at what he saw. Richie and Jon were in the parking lot, squaring off like two pit bulls, and Jon’s car was dented and scratched. But that was minor compared to Jon’s face, which looked like a bloody mess, and a small crowd had gathered outside.

“Shit” Tico muttered to himself as he became dimly aware of a cell phone ringing continuously nearby.

“Hello?” he asked, finding the thing in the pocket of Richie’s jacket which was lying on the sidewalk.

“Richie!!!!!!” a voice wailed into his ear and he realized immediately that it was Elaine.

“This is Tico” he said simply and Elaine begged him to let her talk to Richie as she hurriedly explained how I had had her thrown out.

“I’d suggest you go and check into a hotel for now. Richie won’t be calling you back anytime soon” he grimaced and hung up, turning his attention to more immediate matters as he shut the phone off altogether.

Tico had seen the guys fight before, but this was quite different. It wasn’t merely a drunken scuffle this time and he noticed that Jon wasn’t really fighting at all. He was ducking and stepping sideways as he tried to avoid Richie’s advance and he was trying to talk to him, but Richie was in a blind rage. Tico wondered whether he even realized it was Jon he was attacking as he took off his jacket and threw it on top of Richie’s.

He intervened quickly as he stepped behind Richie and grabbed him, pinning his arms, as Jon came to his aid and they wrestled Richie to the ground. Richie was swearing and cussing and his legs were flailing, but Tico was a powerful man and he had him locked in a vice grip that he couldn’t escape. Jon knelt beside him and tried to soothe him with his apologies.

Tico relaxed his hold on him as Richie began to settle down and stopped struggling. He was starting to feel the pain now as the fury drained away and he was left with a profound sense of loss and emptiness. Jon’s eyes were wet with unshed tears and Tico sighed heavily, wishing for all the world that he could’ve prevented such anguish.

“You can let go now, Teek. I’m not gonna hurt anyone, okay?” Richie promised softly.

“Are you okay, Rich? Please look at me, bro” Jon pleaded.

Richie looked up at him then and he saw the truth in Jon’s eyes and the depth of concern that showed on his face. He also saw the dried blood and the swollen nose and realized what he had done. Jon hadn’t tried to hurt him; he’d only told him the truth out of love and respect and he’d repaid that friendship and trust with accusations and attacks. Richie was utterly beside himself as it began to sink in and he hung his head in shame.

“Jesus, Jon, what have I done? What have I done?” he moaned.

“Richie, it’s okay, man. We’re here” Jon said soothingly.

“C’mon, amigo, let’s go back to the house now. We’ve got a wedding today, remember?” Tico said, gently reminding them both.

“Fuck! What time is it?” Jon asked, looking alarmed.

“Early enough for you to get home and get cleaned up and dressed before the kids show up” Tico replied as he herded them into his own car.

“Jesus, what about…?” Richie couldn’t bring himself to say her name. “I don’t even wanna see her again and you can’t want her at your house” he said, turning to Jon.

“No need to worry about her, Trish took care of that” Tico laughed, thinking it was the first thing that had really struck him funny all day.


The phone rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard it and Eddie flew off my lap where he’d been keeping me company. I’d been on pins and needles waiting to hear from Tico or Jon and I picked it up on the first ring. Eva’s cell rang too and we both answered immediately.

“Trish? It’s me. Are you okay?” Jon asked, anxious to just hear my voice.

“We’re okay, love. Elaine is gone, but what about you? What about Richie?” I asked, praying silently.

“I’m okay and the three of us are on our way back to the house now. What happened with Elaine?” he wanted to know.

I told him what happened and I heard him chuckle when I explained how Eva had “taken out the trash”, but I needed to hear about Richie. I was worried he would be furious when he found out I had thrown his wife out of the house.

“Ask him yourself” Jon said as he put Richie on the phone.

“Richie, are you alright? I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am … for everything. I feel like it’s my entire fault for introducing you and then opening my big mouth when you two had the fight and now …” I began to confess but Richie stopped me.

“Trish, slow down, darlin’, and listen to me. I’m not angry with you or Jon or anyone but myself for being such a blind fool and with her for what she’s done to all of us. If anyone’s to blame, it’s …” Richie began when I interrupted.

“Oh Richie, you didn’t do anything besides trust someone you loved. Please don’t apologize, you’ve nothing to be sorry for …” I replied when he cut me off again.

“Trish, you haven’t seen Jon’s face yet” Richie said sheepishly as he looked at Jon who was frantically trying to clean off the blood before they walked in the house.

They were already in the driveway and Jon realized I’d panic if I saw him the way he looked and he was desperately trying to make himself more presentable. His nose was definitely swollen, but it didn’t appear broken and he hoped some ice would bring down the swelling. There was little more he could do in the car and Tico and Richie nodded in agreement as they got out and walked up the drive.

“Jon’s face? Richie what are you talking about? What happened?” I demanded, feeling on the verge of panic.

“You can see for yourself in a minute” Richie replied as I heard the front door.

“Trish, baby, before you get upset, it’s just swollen now, really” Jon said, trying to prepare me, as he walked into the kitchen.

I dropped the phone and ran up to him, pulling his hand away from his face as I gasped. He looked like Bozo the clown and he winced as I reached out to touch him. I was speechless at first, but the look on my face was one of sheer disbelief.

“Trish, I am so sorry. I just lost it. I don’t know what to say” Richie said, genuinely ashamed as he stared at the floor.

“Oh Jon, baby …dear Goddess” I uttered, my voice choking in my throat.

“Baby, I’ll be fine, really, it’s nothing. Richie’s got a wicked right hook, but it looks a lot worse than it is. Let me get some ice on it and I’ll be fine” Jon continued, trying to comfort me.

Tico had already gotten some ice from the frig and was wrapping it in a towel when he looked at the time. It was after three o’clock and the mayor and the kids and Dot and her boyfriend would be arriving pretty soon. Everyone still needed to get cleaned up yet and he motioned to Eva.

“Chica, help Trish get ready, would you? We’ll clean Jon up and get ready ourselves, okay?” he encouraged as he handed the towel to Jon.

Jon pressed the towel to his face and the cool cloth eased the throbbing sensation he felt. The bleeding had stopped and he could breathe without difficulty but he knew it looked pretty bad. I thanked Tico for the offer, but I shook my head to decline and Jon willingly followed me into the bedroom.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Sauna Part 182

“Richie, listen up, man. I apologize for dragging you off with a lie, but we gotta talk. Something happened last night and I wanna go somewhere where we can talk privately, okay?” Jon confessed as soon as they were in the car.

“Shit, Jon, is everything okay with you and Trish? You got me worried now” he replied, looking alarmed.

“Trish and I are great, bro, no worries there. It’s about Elaine” Jon said apologetically.

“Elaine?” Richie asked, his eyes widening.

They pulled in to the diner where Jon and I had stopped for breakfast so many months ago. Jon got out of the car and Richie followed him inside and the waitress smiled and waived them over to the booth Jon always took. They sat down and Richie looked anxiously at him as Jon took a deep breath.

“Jesus, man, tell me what’s going on” Richie implored him.

“Richie, believe me when I tell you that this is the last conversation I would ever have wanted to have with you and I am so sorry. I don’t want to hurt you, you mean more to me than my real brothers, you know that, right? I don’t wanna lose you and I really don’t wanna say what I’m gonna say, but I respect you too much not to tell you” he began as he looked directly at Richie.

“You’re my brother, Jon, no matter what. Nothing is ever gonna change that, so get on with it” he said, bracing himself.

Richie knew that something had changed in the relationship between us and his wife. He had some ideas what it was all about and he assumed Jon was about to tell him. They must’ve gotten into a fight or Trish and Elaine had an argument and he wondered why Lainie hadn’t mentioned anything serious this morning. Whatever had happened, we could work it out, he was certain of that. He and Jon were too close to let a woman thing come between them he thought confidently.

“Richie, shit, man, there’s just no easy way to say this” Jon floundered, searching for words.

“Then just say it” Richie demanded.

“Elaine came on to me last night” he said finally, staring at his hands.

“She what? Jon, we were shit-faced drunk last night. Maybe you dreamed it” Richie said as he struggled with what he was hearing.

“I wish it was all just a nightmare, but I was wide awake and before you say it, I know I didn’t misinterpret her intentions either” Jon added pre-emptively.

“Tell me what happened” Richie insisted, hoping to find something to contradict Jon’s perception.

Jon recounted the entire incident and repeated the conversation, word for word. Richie sat there silently but he didn’t hear what was said beyond the first few exchanges. His brain had shut down and his mind went blank as he repeated the words over and over to himself.

“Richie’s sound asleep, Jon, and so is Trish, but I’m wide awake and so are you” he heard Jon’s voice echoing in his head.

“Richie, man, are you there? Are you listening?” Jon spoke frantically.

“I’m here, Jon. Go on” Richie spoke in a voice devoid of emotion.

Jon repeated how Elaine had confessed her attraction to him, knowing he was driving a stake through Richie’s heart, but there was no turning back. He finished describing the rest of the conversation, including Elaine’s accusation that she believed that they shared each other’s women. Jon even told him his own part and how he’d responded, and he apologized for the past as well as the present. Richie had closed his eyes and was shaking his head.

No, no, no, no, no, noooooooooooooooo, it couldn’t be true. Not Elaine, not my wife. Jesus, no, this is insane. Jon’s so used to being the center of the world; it’s his own arrogance talking.

“Jesus fucking Christ Jon! You can have any woman you want! But not Elaine, not my wife! Damn you Jon! Did you fuck her?” Richie wailed.

Jon knew it was going to be bad, but he hadn’t known how badly Richie would take this. He wished he could take it all back, even take the blame for it, but he couldn’t. He knew Richie was in a blind rage and he wasn’t making any sense and all he wanted was to get him to calm down and listen.

“Richie, I didn’t fuck her. I can’t even stand the sight of her. You gotta believe me bro, I didn’t encourage her. Not now, not ever. Trish is the only woman I want” Jon pleaded with him to understand.

“Trish? Did you tell this crap to Trish too?” Richie asked hotly.

“I told Trish as soon as it happened, Richie, of course. Elaine betrayed her too” he explained.

“And of course Trish believed you” Richie sneered.

“Richie, can’t you see how Elaine is acting? She barely kissed you goodbye last night and now she’s been all over you today. Get a grip, man!” Jon raised his voice in frustration.

“You get a grip, mother fucker” Richie exploded as he stood up and punched Jon in the face.

The whole restaurant had gone silent now as Jon stood up and wiped the blood from his nose. Richie had caught him off guard and popped him squarely in the face and he wondered absently if his nose was broken. His heart raced and he was angry, but his rage was at Elaine and not Richie, but his immediate concern was to get the situation under control.

“Richie, please, you’ve gotta believe me” he tried again.

“The hell I do!” Richie fumed as he stalked out the door, leaving Jon to clean up the mess.

Richie paced outside and he beat his fists against the hood of Jon’s car. He looked like a wounded bear as he howled with rage and fury, not nearly ready to feel the grief welling up inside him. This couldn’t be happening to him.

Meanwhile inside, Jon threw a large bill on the table and wadded up a napkin to staunch the bleeding as he raced out to find Richie. He stood there and watched as Richie launched another assault on his car. He pulled out his cell phone and called Tico.

“Hello?” Tico said warily as he recognized the number.

“Teek, it’s bad. It’s real bad. You gotta get over here. Richie’s gonna hurt himself” Jon said desperately as he told him where they were and hung up.


“Trish, I gotta go. Richie’s having a meltdown and Jon needs help. Keep the faith, doll, I’ll call when I can” he said to me as he dashed for the door.

I started to shake as I gripped the wall to stay upright. Goddess, no! This is so unfair! Please, I prayed to the Gods to help Jon and Richie get through this. I wanted to call Jon and make sure he was alright, but I knew better. If he called Tico to come, it was bad and he had his hands full. I wasn’t going to add to the problem. I sat down at the kitchen table and cried.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Sauna Part 181

The doorbell rang around ten o’clock and we were hoping it was Tico and Eva, but it was a delivery truck from a local florist. I was surprised as we hadn’t ordered any flowers and I wondered if Jon had sent them, but he shook his head ‘no’. I signed for the delivery and we read the card together as the man deposited several gorgeous arrangements and a bouquet of red and white roses inside the front door. The card read:

“Congratulations! Just a little something to help you both celebrate…Dot”

I was overwhelmed and Jon smiled too. Neither of us had expected anything from anyone, but least of all from Dot. I was really struck by her thoughtfulness and I would make sure to thank her when she and her new “John” arrived. We arranged the flowers around the house and things began to look festive despite our somber mood.

The next time that the doorbell rang, it was Tico and Eva, followed by the dry cleaner who delivered Jon’s tux which he’d sent out to be pressed. The caterers weren’t due yet until just before the mayor, so we had plenty of time to discuss what had happened earlier. I just prayed that Richie and Elaine would sleep in and not come down to join us too early.

“Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh buddy?” Tico joked as he took the tux from the delivery boy and handed it to Jon.

“Yeah, I realized it was pretty wrinkled when I pulled it out yesterday. And don’t you just look dapper?” Jon teased him back.

Tico cut quite a dashing figure in his tux and Eva looked as stunning as ever and I was glad to see them both. I hugged Eva tightly and I saw her exchange a glance with Tico and I knew they were wondering why we’d asked them to come early.

“Well Mo, I’m here, so where’s Curly?” Tico asked, referring to Richie.

“He and Elaine aren’t up yet and that’s what we wanted to talk to you about” Jon explained as he led the way to the kitchen.

I fixed coffee for all of us and Eva gave me a hand with setting out some snacks. It was just after eleven and we wouldn’t be eating until much later, so I had made an antipasto as neither Jon nor I could stomach the sight of sandwiches. Eva joined Tico at the table and they waited patiently for us to begin.

“Something happened last night after Richie and I got home from partying” Jon began as he proceeded to explain the chain of events.

Tico was quiet and listened intently as Jon recounted the details, but his eyes flashed when he began to describe how Elaine was dressed. Eva was startled and she looked at me and just shook her head until Jon repeated the conversation with Elaine, explaining why he hadn’t cut her off sooner.

“And you say she’s still upstairs in that bed sleeping?” Eva asked, shaking her head in disbelief as I nodded.

“I’d have thrown her out on her ass in her lingerie” Eva announced, furious now too.

“What does Richie know?” Tico asked Jon.

“Nothing as far as I know, but who knows what Elaine said if she said anything at all” Jon sighed as he spread his hands.

Tico immediately understood Jon’s concerns and he knew it was a delicate situation. Eva, on the other hand, was seething with indignation and would’ve been very happy to go upstairs and drag Elaine out of bed by her hair and, in fact, she offered to do just that. I laughed in spite of myself as the image was rather amusing and rather appealing too and I was tempted to accept her offer.

“Jon, you’ve got to tell Richie. He might not believe you, but you owe him that and he needs to hear it” Tico advised.

“Teek, man, I don’t wanna lose Richie as a friend. What if he doesn’t believe me or thinks I was just so drunk that I misread her?” Jon lamented.

“Tell him word for word what happened, just like you told us, but tell him privately when you’re alone and don’t wait much longer. How could that be open to interpretation?” Tico countered.

Jon nodded and resigned himself to doing what he felt was right regardless of the consequences. There was just no winning in this situation and no matter what he decided, it wasn’t going to end well. Jon hated Elaine more than ever now for putting him in this situation and I hated her too, both for betraying our friendship but even more for causing a rift between two people I loved dearly.


It was just passed noon and we began to hear signs of life upstairs. Richie traipsed down to the kitchen, cursing himself for having stayed out so late and for having drunk so much. His head was splitting and he had just turned down an opportunity to make love with his wife. What the hell is wrong with me? I must be getting old, not older he grimaced. He was lost in his own misery as he walked into the kitchen and was greeted by the four of us seated at the kitchen table.

“Well, good morning, sleeping beauty!” Tico laughed, hoping to lighten the mood.

“And don’t you just look spiffy in your monkey suit” Richie sneered back at Tico. “Shit, how long have you been up?” he blinked, looking at Jon.

“Hey man, we’re moving onto the third pot of coffee. Welcome to the world of the living!” Jon replied lightly.

“I’m sorry, geez; I was really out of it. Got any aspirin to go with that caffeine?” he asked as he poured himself a cup and sat down heavily.

“Here ya go, Richie. Is Elaine still sleeping?” I had to ask.

“No, she’s taking a shower, she’ll be down in a bit” he replied, still squinting. “What time is it?”

“Just passed noon, we’ve got plenty of time, Rich” Jon assured him.

Jon badly wanted to get the conversation with Richie over with as the casual banter felt hollow to him, but after taking one look at him he knew now was not the time. Richie looked like the living dead and Jon didn’t have the heart to dump anything else in his lap. He realized with some relief that Elaine must not have said anything and was waiting to see what he would do, so he had time.

Richie smiled as he sipped his coffee, beginning to feel almost human again. He didn’t recall much of anything after coming home last night until this morning when Lainie woke him up with her kisses. He knew he’d been grouchy and decided to join her in the shower and make it up to her.

“Guess I’ll go and get cleaned up and see if Lainie needs any help with that shower” Richie winked as he headed back up the stairs.

“Jon, tell him today after he gets cleaned up. We can’t keep pretending that everything’s cool-he’s gonna know something’s up once that bitch shows her face again and no one will look at her” Tico warned.

“I guarantee she’s going to be glued to his side once they come back down. Jon, can you get Richie to run an errand with you? Something to give you some time alone?” I suggested.

“Yeah, I’ll ask him to help me pick up some shit at the liquor store” he replied, thinking of a ruse.

We had a plan and we had only to wait on the opportunity now. I could see Jon looked restless and irritable and we needed to get this over with, come what may. Tico put his hand on Jon’s shoulder to comfort him while Eva looked at me sympathetically.

“Whatever happens, amigo, I’m behind ya, okay?” Tico added and Jon looked at him wanly.

“Eva, I need you to help keep me busy and to keep Elaine away from me-can you try not to toss her out to the curb just yet?” I smirked.

“I’ll try-just don’t ask me to take out the trash, okay?” she grinned back.


Richie and Elaine made love in the shower and Lainie used all of her feminine wiles to lull him into a false sense of security. He’d managed to be out of her sight when he went to get coffee and aspirin, but she wasn’t going to make that mistake again. She would smother him with the affection she knew he craved and she hoped that would keep Jon at bay and convince Richie that she had eyes only for him. She’d keep her distance from Jon and me.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry I was grumpy this morning” Richie apologized as he held her close and nuzzled her neck.

“Well, you certainly made up for it just now” she mewed, thinking she should be generous with her compliments today.

Richie was an incredible lover and telling him so wasn’t a stretch, but for Elaine it was all an act. She liked Richie well enough and she’d hoped she’d fall in love with him, but it just wasn’t happening and she found herself still obsessed with Jon. She couldn’t get him out of her head and his rejection had only seemed to fan the flame. How could he have turned her down anyway? She was younger and prettier, she knew. Maybe Trish really was a witch after all; that would explain it. Why else would Jon want that bitch when he had a better offer readily available?

Elaine shook her head and laughed with that lilting voice that Richie found so appealing. Jesus, I’m lucky, he thought to himself. I felt like an old man a few hours ago and now I feel like a teenager. She’s so freaking hot I can’t keep my hands off her, he chuckled as he kissed those luscious lips. He and Jon were both blessed by the fates.


Elaine and Richie made their entrance and the conflicting emotions I felt made me literally sick to my stomach. Richie was glowing and my heart ached for him as the last thing he needed was the reality check he was about to receive. Elaine, on the hand, made me furious. Her arrogance was insufferable as she pranced by his side in the most sluttish outfit I could imagine. I wondered if it was even meant to be worn in public as her breasts were clearly visible through the sheer fabric as well as the thong she was wearing.

I thought Eva was going to lose it as I felt her bristle beside me and Jon shot me a glance that spoke volumes about what he was thinking. Tico was a far better actor than all of us as he greeted them blandly with an unreadable expression. I kept my eyes on my lap and pretended to focus on the cat who was purring contentedly there.

“Good afternoon” Teek said without flinching and Richie grinned sheepishly.

“Rich, man, you look great” Jon said acknowledging his tux and ignoring Elaine. “Wanna come with me to the liquor store? I could use your help as I’ve gotta run out there and pick up some shit, their truck broke down and they can’t deliver it” Jon lied.

“Sure, bro, let’s do it” he offered without hesitation.

I smiled genuinely for the first time that day as I saw the panic flash briefly on Elaine’s face and I knew she was seething. She hadn’t anticipated being separated from Richie and left to the rest of us and she resembled a deer caught in the headlights.

“We gotta hurry, man, so I can get back and change before everyone else shows up” Jon interjected as he grabbed Richie’s arm and steered him towards the door.

“Hurry back, baby” Elaine stammered as she threw her arms around his neck and nearly sucked his tongue from his mouth.

“Don’t you worry, lady” Richie purred as Jon dragged him out the door.

Elaine looked deflated and I was glad she felt trapped as I saw Eva advancing towards her. I had a fleeting thought that I should intervene, but decided to leave her to Eva and I caught Tico’s wink as she grabbed Lainie’s arm.

“Elaine, let’s go upstairs and find you something fitting to wear for a wedding” she smiled and I had to look away or I’d have laughed out loud.

“And you” she said turning to Tico, “give Trish a hand with anything she needs until I get back.”

“Yes, ma’am” Tico smiled impishly and we both wished we could have been flies on the wall watching Eva with Elaine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Sauna Part 180

It was just after seven when Jon came back to bed and pulled me close to him, tucking my head under his chin as he held me. He stroked my hair and kissed the top of my head and sighed. I reached around and drew him closer, wriggling my hips against him suggestively, but I noticed Lil’ Jon did not seem to respond. It must have been quite a night.

“How’s your head, love? I brought you some aspirin” I said as I yawned and stretched.

Jon held me still and was quiet and I wondered if he had fallen back to sleep. I twisted around slightly and looked at his face, but his eyes were far away and distant. I stroked his cheek and he flinched as if I had jarred him out of some reverie.

“Jon, what’s wrong?” I asked as I tried to sit up, but he held me.

I knew something was terribly wrong and it was far more than the banger of a headache I expected he’d have. I wondered whether he and Richie had had an argument and I was growing concerned.

“Jon?” I tried again and this time he answered me.

“We need to talk, babe” he said finally.

My heart began to pound and I knew this was serious. I went over the evening in my head, trying to recall if I had said or done something to cause him concern as I waited for him to continue.

“You were right about Elaine. You were right about all of it” he said simply.

I didn’t immediately grasp the impact of his words, but something inside me registered and I felt my stomach tighten. I struggled to sit up and he released the death grip he had on me and looked into my eyes.

“Jon, what are you saying?” I asked, holding my breath.

“It’s Elaine, babe. You were right. She made a pass at me last night” he said miserably and then the whole story poured forth.

I listened in stunned silence until he finished and I was appalled. There was no possible way to misinterpret what he revealed and I was incensed at her audacity. She’d tried to seduce my husband, here, in my own house, on the eve of our official wedding. How dare she?

“I want her out of my house!” I exclaimed, seething with rage.

“I know, babe, so do I” Jon said soothingly.

“Jon, what are we going to tell Richie? He’s going to be devastated!” I cried, and tears started to form as I thought about the real victim in all of this.

“That’s if he believes me, Trish” Jon said quietly.

“How could he not believe you? You’re his best friend! Surely he wouldn’t doubt you, not after all you’ve been through” I lamented.

“Baby, I was drunk last night and Richie knows that. Elaine could twist the story and make it seem like I came on to her or like I misunderstood, took things out of context. I know I didn’t and I’m glad you believe me, but I don’t trust her one bit. She’s got Richie wrapped around her little finger and he defends her behavior and makes excuses for her as it is. She’s his wife …” he trailed off.

“Oh, Jon …” I moaned as it all began to sink in.

“God, how I hate her …” he sighed.

We sat there together as we wrestled with what to do. Jon reached for the aspirin I’d left on the nightstand as his headache was back with a vengeance and I was beginning to get one too, even though I hadn’t been drinking. It would have been better if Richie had seen it with his own eyes, but there was no way that Elaine would make the same mistake twice. The sun was shining and it looked for all the world like a beautiful day. It would have felt better if it was storming.

Jon and I showered as there was little point in trying to sleep. There were still things we needed to do today and we had no intention of canceling the wedding after we had gone through so much trouble to arrange it. Richie would sleep in late and I guessed that Elaine wouldn’t make an appearance without him and that would at least buy us some time while we considered our options.

We went to the kitchen and I saw the barely eaten sandwich still on the table. I looked at it with disgust as I tossed it in the garbage and made us some coffee. Neither of us had any appetite and we both passed on the notion of breakfast as we sat down to discuss the situation.

“Jon, if it were you in Richie’s position, wouldn’t you want to know?” I wondered.

“I would and I would expect Richie to tell me the truth, but I doubt that I’d believe him” he said as he considered it.

“But Jon, things are so different with us. Are you sure that Richie doesn’t have any doubts about Elaine himself?” I wondered.

“I’m not certain that he has no misgivings about her, no. But I’m sure he’s never questioned her fidelity” he said ruefully.

I had to agree with that as it was hard to absorb even now and that was still true even given that I’d had my suspicions. They were still newlyweds and Richie had just been through this with Denise. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if I was in his shoes.

“Do you believe that she even brought up the past, when Richie and I were just stupid kids? I guess everyone knows the stories about the band and the women and …” he said, sounding exasperated as he ran his hands through his hair.

“She was just using that to manipulate you Jon. Everyone knows it was a long time ago and no one in their right mind would believe that you and Richie still shared your women!” I said, furious that she had tried to twist the knife in his gut and make him feel responsible.

“I know, I know, but I can’t deny what we did” he said shaking his head and regretting the youthful dalliances more than ever.

“Stop it! Don’t do that to yourself! Look at me, Jon!” I demanded and he raised his eyes to meet mine.

“I love you and I want you to forgive yourself, do you hear me? This wasn’t your fault and you’ve got nothing to punish yourself for anymore, okay?” I insisted.

“Okay, babe, okay. I just wish I could take back those years and do it all differently. I was such an ass and I do regret it, but I can’t change the past” he said sadly.

I reached for his hand and held it in mine. We all had regrets and for a rock star who had the world at his feet, Jon had not committed so many sins. He wasn’t perfect and I loved him more for his conscience, but I didn’t want him to torture himself because of it. I stood up and moved towards him and drew his head against my belly as I stroked his hair, comforting him.

“Thanks, darlin’. I love you so much, have I told you that lately?” he murmured into my robe.

“Yes, but I don’t mind when you repeat it” I smiled.

He stood up and kissed me and we held each other for what seemed like forever. Eventually we moved apart and returned to the bedroom to dress and tackle the easier tasks of the day. I called the caterers and Jon called the mayor and confirmed that he’d be at the house by four. He called Tico and asked if he and Eva could come early as he wanted a buffer between him and Elaine and we figured the more distraction the better. Maybe it would help to get another opinion from someone outside the immediate situation as Jon and I were too close to it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Sauna Part 179

Jon and Richie headed off to some of their favorite haunts in Asbury Park and Jon was glad for the opportunity to talk to his best friend more in private. He had also noticed how cool Elaine’s response to Richie had been and he was anxious to broach the subject.

“Are you and Elaine fighting again?” he asked as soon as they were alone in the limo.

“No, why? Do you mean all those questions about the wedding? Geez, Jon, I’m sorry about that. She just doesn’t understand really about the handfasting. She sees marriage much differently” Richie replied.

“No, I get the fact that she doesn’t accept Wicca. I was referring more to the luke warm goodbye kiss she gave you” he explained.

“Oh that, Lainie’s just more reserved than you two usually are” Richie laughed, trying to make light of her behavior.

“And how do you feel about that, bro?” Jon pushed.

“I wish she’d relax a bit, honestly. I had hoped that getting married would have put her more at ease, but actually she’s been more uptight ever since. I think she’s just so self-conscious now about her image because of the media attention. Ava still hasn’t really warmed up to her yet and that doesn’t help either” Richie said, trying to rationalize her aloofness.

“Jake hasn’t really come around yet either. That’s why Dot thought coming to the wedding would be a good idea-you know, sort of a concrete way to help him move on too” Jon reflected.

“You’re really blessed, man, you know? You’ve had two really wonderful women in your life. You’re a lucky bastard” Richie said wistfully.

“I know it, Rich, I know it” Jon agreed.

Jon sensed that Richie wasn’t completely happy, but he also realized that now wasn’t the time to pursue it. They were supposed to be out for a night on the town and it seemed like Richie wasn’t quite ready to admit to himself that Elaine might not be all she appeared to be, at least not yet. Jon poured a couple glasses of wine from the stock in the limo and Richie raised his glass for a toast.

“Cheers, bro” he chirped.

“Cheers” Jon replied.


Elaine was clearly bored as I worked on the scrapbook and we’d exhausted most neutral topics of conversation by now. It seemed we had little to talk about anymore and I found that I actually preferred the silence.

“I think I’m going to turn in early tonight if you don’t mind? It was a long flight” she announced as she stretched and yawned.

She and Richie were staying with us tonight as the guys would be home late, so I took her upstairs to the guest room. Actually I was relieved she was tired as her company was more trying than pleasant, so I said goodnight and hurried back to my project. I worked on the book in earnest now as I was almost done-the rest would have to wait until I had the photos from the wedding tomorrow.

I packed up the supplies and hid them away and decided I would turn in early too. It was just after one o’clock and I didn’t expect the guys to be home until much later so I snuggled in bed with the cats. They seemed to rather enjoy having me all to themselves, especially Floyd, and soon we were all fast asleep.


Jon and Richie stumbled in around four o’clock and the house was still, but I’d left a light on so they could find their way.

“SSSSSSSSShhhhhhhhhhh! be quiet! You’ll wake the dead!” Jon whispered very loudly, the way only drunks can manage to do.

“Me? What the fuck, man? You slammed the door!” Richie protested.

“I did not, you staggered into me and I fell on it” Jon said as he poked Richie in the chest.

“Sure, blame it on me, you drunken asshole” Richie grinned through his alcohol-induced haze.

“Hey asshole, who are you calling an asshole?” Jon said and they both cackled at their own humor.

Jon fell down as he tried to remove his shoes and Richie broke into a fit of hysterics while Jon grimaced. He put out his hand to help him stand up and Jon succeeded in dragging Richie down too and they both found that to be hilarious. They decided to take off their shoes where they sat, considering it to be safer. Zeke had heard Richie and went to investigate and Richie scooped him up as he kissed his head.

“Hey buddy, wanna come to bed with Uncle Richie?” he teased.

“Take the furry little fucker, see if I care” Jon snorted.

“You’re just jealous because he likes me better. The cat has good taste” Richie countered and even Zeke was beginning to squirm as Richie released him and he bounded up the stairs to safety.

“See, even the freakin’ cat doesn’t wanna sleep with you. Can’t say that I blame him!” Jon guffawed loudly.

“Fuck you, man. He went to my bedroom” Richie sneered and they both got up.

“Night, bro, see ya tomorrow” Jon said as Richie made his way up the stairs.

“Night asshole” he said as he staggered his way to bed.

Jon stripped off his clothes and headed for the bedroom, making a pit stop in the little boys room first. I stirred at the commotion, but I hadn’t woken up as I was a sound sleeper. He sat down heavily on the bed and Eddie woke with a start, annoyed at being jostled around. Jon crawled in beside me and nudged the cat out of the way as he wrapped his arms around me. He gave me a sloppy kiss and I woke up abruptly.

“Smells like you had a good time” I observed as I wrinkled my nose.

“Yeah, we played with a house band and they all bought us drinks all night. How’d your night go with that bitch?” he inquired.

“Not nearly as much fun” I answered truthfully.

“Wanna have some fun now?” he leered at me.

“Go to sleep, love. We can see how you’re feeling in the morning” I suggested.

“Aaawwww, c’mon, babe, I’m ready. Lil’ Jonny wants to play” he insisted and I laughed.

“You’re in no condition, mister, but tomorrow’s another day” I said affectionately and I tousled his hair, pushing him off me and onto his side. “I’m going to get you some aspirin” I added as I rolled out of bed.

When I returned, Jon had already passed out and was snoring loudly. I set the aspirin down with the water by his side of the bed and covered him up. I was glad he’d managed to remove his clothes as I didn’t think I’d have been able to manage it and I giggled when I saw that he still had his socks on. I crept into bed beside him and promptly fell back to sleep.

Jon woke up a few hours later thanks to the call of nature and threw on his robe as he made his way to the bathroom, tripping over the clothes he’d left in a heap on his way. He grabbed a couple aspirin and headed into the kitchen for a glass of water and noticed the light was on. There at the table was Lainie, watching him intently.

“Here, Jon, let me help you” she offered, taking the empty glass from his hand.

“Thanks” he mumbled as he popped the pills in his mouth and blinked in the light.

Damn, his head hurt and he was certain that someone was using his brain as a drum set. He swallowed the pills and the water and opened the frig, looking for a snack. Lainie moved beside him and began to pull out some cold cuts and bread and proceeded to make him a sandwich. Jon noticed absently that she was rather scantily clad in some slip of lingerie. When she bent down to retrieve the mustard he noticed she was wearing a thong and he turned his head away.

“Can’t sleep?” Jon asked as he yawned and sat down.

“Richie is snoring too loud so I came down here for a drink and a snack” she replied as she proceeded to fix him a sandwich.

“So what did you girls do tonight?” he asked, trying to be pleasant since she was fixing him something to eat and he was hungry.

“Nothing exciting. Trish worked on some craft project and I went to bed early” she replied as she grabbed a plate for the sandwich.

Jon took the plate she offered to him and Elaine reached out and brushed the hair from his eyes. She was still standing beside him and her hand lingered on his cheek as she pressed her body against his face. Jon was chewing his sandwich and although he was still pretty ripped, he was dimly aware that something wasn’t quite right with this picture.

“You are such a handsome man, Jon” she said in a silky voice.

“And what about Richie, Elaine?” he confronted her.

Even in his intoxicated state, Jon was no fool and he realized fully now where she was trying to lead him and he wanted to see how far she would take the seduction. He sat poker stiff in the chair, neither flinching nor responding to the signals she was sending and he waited to see what her next move would be. He didn’t need to wait long as she lifted his chin to look at her.

“Richie’s sound asleep, Jon, and so is Trish, but I’m wide awake and so are you” she purred invitingly.

“What are you suggesting?” Jon asked, choking back the bile he felt rising in his throat.

He wanted to trap her, to hear her say it, so there would be no doubt about what she intended. You fucking bitch, Trish was right all along. He waited, unable to look at her without retching.

“Why waste this night? This opportunity? I want you Jon, I’ve always wanted you” she whispered as she leaned down to his ear, feeling bolder now.

“You fucking whore! Get away from me, you make me sick! Do you really think I’d betray two people I love more than life for the likes of you?” he spat at her, recoiling from her touch as though he’d been burned.

“But Jon, you and Richie, I thought you were like brothers! I thought you shared everything, including your women” she protested.

“Well you thought wrong! You disgust me!” he said with a vehemence that shook her to her core and his rejection enraged her.

“Don’t you pretend to be so high and mighty with me, Jon Bon Jovi. I know all about you and the games you and Richie and the others would play on the road! What makes anything so different now?” she hissed.

Jon was completely taken aback and he was livid. How dare she try to throw up the past in my face? That was a long, long time ago and I’ve paid for those sins many times over. How dare she try and make me feel guilty when she’s the one who wants this? He wanted to strike her and beat her senseless, but he felt sick to his stomach when he thought about Richie. This will kill him. I need time, time to think and to talk to Trish about how we should handle this.

“Get the fuck out of my sight before I kill you, you fucking whore!” he said disgustedly as he turned away, unable to stand the sight of her.

Elaine tore from the room and ran up the stairs, her heart pounding loudly against her chest. She was tempted to wake Richie and blame the whole thing on Jon or claim that he had misunderstood her and had overreacted because he was drunk. Her mind raced as she considered the possibilities. She went to the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water as she tried to calm herself down and think.

Jon looked ashamed when she reminded him of the past frolics he and Richie had shared and she knew she had scored a hit with that remark. Perhaps he was too ashamed of his own behavior back then and would rather keep this a secret than have his ‘wife’ find out about the things he had done. She listened carefully and heard nothing but silence and the sound of Richie’s snoring coming from the guest room. Surely she’d have heard noises or shrieking if he’d decided to wake Trish up and tell her what happened.

But it was deathly quiet still. Maybe all would yet be well and she wouldn’t need to do anything. She could always explain later on that Jon had been drunk if he told Richie some wild story about her. And Richie knew that was true. Yes, she would wait and see what unfolded and she would be ready with her side of the story. Richie loved her and he’d stand by her. She smiled as she made her way to the guest room and crawled into bed beside Richie, nuzzling against him. And there was plenty she could do in the meantime to make sure he believed her.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sauna Part 178

Richie and Elaine arrived at the house around eight and we cracked open an especially good wine while we visited and talked about our trip. Zeke had perched on Richie’s lap almost the minute he sat down and Jon scowled at the cat’s smug expression and Richie beamed delightedly. I brought out the photos that I had made extras of and Richie whistled at the one of the bear standing guard at the house. He had loved the chandelier we’d sent as a wedding gift and had it installed in the bedroom, directly over the bed.

“So now you can think of me whenever you’re looking up at the ceiling!” Jon teased.

“Oh right, just the sort of inspiration I want when I’m flat on my back in my bed” Richie replied sarcastically.

“Richie’s usually too busy in bed to be thinking about much of anything” Elaine interjected, her voice dripping with sugar.

“Yeah, it does take a lot of concentration to jack off” Jon replied smoothly and I tried to hide my smile.

Richie didn’t catch the underlying contempt in Jon’s statement and saw it as just their usual good natured banter, but the caustic humor was not lost on Elaine and she immediately changed the subject.

“So tell me why you don’t want the press to know about the wedding tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity for publicity? Trish, won’t you be glad to finally get married for real?” she asked.

“Elaine, the real marriage already took place as far as I’m concerned. This is just a legal ceremony and an excuse to have a party” I reminded her in the most pleasant tone I could muster.

Richie gave her a sharp look as Jon stood up and went to the kitchen for more wine. He was furious, but he didn’t want to offend Richie by losing his temper and telling her off. Elaine appeared oblivious to the impact of her statement and went on, seemingly unaware of the sudden tension in the room.

“I just don’t understand you. This is such an important day and yet you’re not even inviting Jon’s family or yours to come and celebrate. I would think you’d be proud to be Jon’s wife” she continued.

I was seething myself now and I was beginning to find her comments insufferable. I bit my tongue and dug my nails into my hand as I fought with myself not to blow up. It seemed like she was goading me into blasting her, but I wasn’t going to bite this time and end up looking like the bitch. Fortunately Jon had returned and caught the end of her remark.

“She’s been my wife for months now Elaine and she’s been my wife in many previous lifetimes as well and I’ve never doubted her commitment to me, nor should you” Jon interrupted as he laid his hand on my shoulder and bent to give me a kiss.

“Lainie, this is just a formality for Jon and Trish. It’s not like it was with you and me. And it’s a chance for the kids to be part of it too, so the family will be there” Richie tried to explain.

“Yeah, the kids will be there and even Dot is coming, and with her boyfriend no less! It’ll give the kids the opportunity to see that we can all still be friends and get along” Jon added with a chuckle.

“Dot? You’re not serious?” Elaine stammered, her eyes widening in shock and even Richie looked a bit stunned.

“Yeah, I know, but don’t blame me-it wasn’t my idea! Dot suggested it and Trish wanted to meet her anyway, so how could I refuse?” Jon smirked, remembering how it had all come about.

We recounted the story of my phone call with Dot and Richie just howled with laughter. That reminded me to tell the story of how we’d gotten lost in Pagosa and were rescued by the cop when we didn’t know our own address. I thought Richie was going to wet himself when he heard that one and we all ended up laughing.

We continued to chat and the tension eased up a bit as Elaine didn’t press any further about the wedding. She did show me her engagement ring and the wedding band and I had to admit that they were exquisite. Jon waited patiently while I explained that we would be using the rings we had already exchanged at the handfasting as those were really our wedding rings in the true sense. He was anxious to get going and gave Richie a tug, sending Zeke into a panic.

“Damn cat!” Jon growled and Richie snickered.

“Trish, have you got a paper and a pen? And a safety pin?” Richie asked suddenly as he and Jon were about to leave.

“I think so, let me look” I replied as Jon asked what he needed it for.

“I want to write down the address here and pin it to Jon just in case we get lost and we need help finding our way home” Richie grinned and Jon slugged him in the arm.

“Thanks, babe. Didn’t I tell you we’ll never hear the end of it if you told him?” Jon said as he glared at me, but I noted he was smiling.

The guys went out to the waiting limo then, leaving Elaine and me by ourselves. I decided to make a pot of tea as it tended to calm me down more than alcohol and it was likely to be a long evening.

“Don’t you want to go out somewhere too?” Elaine hinted.

“Not really. I was actually hoping you wouldn’t mind keeping me company while I work on Jon’s Christmas present. I have so little time left before the holidays and I can’t work on it when Jon is here” I explained and showed her the scrapbook.

She glanced at it casually without any real interest and asked if we could turn on some music. I nodded in the direction of the stereo and finished fixing my tea and made coffee for her. I dragged my scrapbooking supplies out from where I’d hidden them and we moved to the kitchen table and sat down.

“Trish, you’re so lucky to be marrying Jon” Lainie commented as she flicked through the pictures I had spread out at the kitchen table. “He really is the hottest man I’ve ever seen” she continued.

I looked up then and regarded Elaine with some suspicion. Was she just genuinely happy for me or was it envy that tinged her voice? I really couldn’t be sure and I searched her face, hoping to find the answer. Her hair hung over her face, hiding her eyes, but I noticed her attention was focused on the pictures of Jon, not of us, or even those with Richie.

“Elaine? Are you happy with Richie?” I probed, watching her reaction.

“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?” she asked, her eyes narrowing as she looked at me.

I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I saw a flicker of contempt before she quickly replaced it with a bland smile. I pushed the pictures of Jon and Richie closer toward her and looked at them again more closely too. The bond between the two men was so evident even in the pictures and I knew I had to find a way to accept that Elaine was Richie’s wife.

“I just sense that you aren’t really content” I responded, choosing my words carefully.

“And why is that? Because I don’t fawn over Richie the way you and Jon moon at each other?” she answered with an icy edge.

“You didn’t even kiss him goodbye tonight-you turned your cheek when he kissed you” I observed.

“I’m not given to public displays of affection, Trish, and I care about my dignity” she replied pointedly.

“I don’t recall that being the case before the two of you were married” I retorted, a bit stung at her insinuation.

“I may have lost my head in the beginning, but now that we’re married there’s no need to constantly demonstrate my feelings and besides, I’m conscious of the press lurking around every corner” she said defensively.

I suddenly felt very sorry for Richie. He was a warm, demonstrative person and now that Elaine felt secure in their relationship her former reserve had returned. In fact, sitting there watching her, I was struck by what an ice princess she had become. I had hoped that the marriage would have made it easier for her to show her feelings more, but it seemed the opposite was true. Poor Richie, I thought to myself.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Sauna Part 177

Dot was waiting anxiously when we reached the house and she hugged Stephanie first thing before inviting us inside. We all sat down at the kitchen table while Steph recounted the events and Jon cursed the drunk who had rear-ended us. Dot poured me a cup of coffee and set out a plate of cookies she had made earlier and Jon and I both reached for the same one and we all laughed, breaking the tension.

“So, was your trip successful at least? Were you able to find a dress?” Dot asked.

“You should see it! It’s gorgeous!” Steph exclaimed.

“It is beautiful, but Steph found a great dress too. Show your mom and dad” I encouraged.

Steph retrieved her dress from the bag and held it up for inspection. Jon nodded distractedly but Dot smiled and voiced her approval. We talked a little bit about Colorado and the house we had bought and Steph asked her dad about our plans. I explained what I had told her and Jon verified what I had said and I noticed that Dot looked thoughtful.

“I’m hoping that you guys will come out and visit for a few weeks in the summer as there is so much to do and see out there” he said as he answered the unspoken questions.

It was getting late and I yawned despite the coffee and Jon stood up as we made ready to leave. Jon had called the limo and it was waiting outside as we said goodbye and I hugged Stephanie. The other kids had already gone to bed and would hear the story in the morning. I thanked Dot again for her hospitality and for making me feel welcome and I teased her that I was glad Jon didn’t have a psycho bitch for an ex-wife. She laughed and I was glad we had had a chance to talk a bit and meet beforehand and now there would be no awkward moments to worry about later.

We finally pulled in the driveway just before midnight and I was relieved to be home. The cats glared at us as we refilled their bowls and got ready for bed. I hung up my dress, but told Jon it was a surprise when he asked if I planned to show it to him.

“This legal ceremony is shaping up to be quite an event, huh?” he said with a smile.

“I’m actually looking forward to it myself now. Have you called Richie and the guys and asked them to come? Will they be in town?” I wondered as I thought about who we should actually invite since it was just a small affair.

“Richie is tickled and will definitely be there, along with Elaine, and so will Tico and Eva. David has something with his family, though, and I left a message for Hugh. What about Cherie and Dave? Shouldn’t we invite them too?” he suggested.

“I suppose we should, but I doubt they’d be able to come this close to the holiday and on such short notice” I said, regretting I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

“What about our parents?” he quipped and then quickly added “only kidding, babe” when he saw the stricken look on my face.

“Jon, let’s just keep this an intimate celebration with your immediate family and the guys. There isn’t time to plan a full scale party, not really and your mom will just blame me if this isn’t the social event of the year. Can’t we just tell her we eloped?” I asked, appealing to his indulgent side.

“Yeah, baby, we can say we got married in Colorado and only a few people will know any different. But what about your family? How do you want to handle them?” he wanted to know.

“They won’t care about not being invited, really. My dad knows we were handfasted and that this is just a legal thing and he’ll be glad as he worries about me anyway. I’ll call them and tell them this week” I assured him.

“Okay, then our official story with everyone else is that we got married in Colorado?” he grinned and I kissed him appreciatively.

The cats had forgiven us now that their bellies were full and we all bedded down for the night. Zeke claimed his spot in between us and Floyd was lying on my chest purring contentedly while Eddie and Opie settled in above us. We were a family once again.


The next few days flew by as we took care of the many little details that a wedding presented and a host of other things that had cropped up while we were away. I talked with the caterers about the food for the party on Saturday and we managed to get our marriage license thanks to the assistance of the mayor as he made it possible to have the papers delivered for signatures. I called my family and shared the news and they were happy, especially my father who was relieved to know I’d be protected financially if anything ever happened to Jon.

“Tell him I’m grateful to him for looking out for my little girl. You’re still my little girl, Trish, you know that, right?” was all he said and hearing those words had brought tears to my eyes.

“Yeah, dad, I know” was all I could say through my tears.

Jon had a number of business meetings, but it was the media circus that made things so difficult. Everyone was clamoring to hear from Jon directly regarding the furor he’d created on backstage before we left. His brother had given them a statement, but the wolves were howling at the door once word was out that we had returned and Jon needed to satisfy the press before we could have any peace.

One night while we were flipping through the channels on TV we actually watched one of the interviews and I marveled at how well he handled the paparazzi. I laughed out loud when the reporter tried to nail him down for a straight answer and finally said in frustration that he’d assume we got married in Colorado unless he told them otherwise. Jon merely flashed his megawatt smile at the camera and the poor man concluded with “And there you have it, ladies-Jon Bon Jovi is really off the market.”

“I was off the market from the day I saw you in that sauna” Jon purred in my ear.

“You can’t blame your fans for wanting to hear it from you though. After all, inquiring minds want to know” I giggled.

“C’mere” he chuckled playfully as he tossed me onto my back on the bed and we forgot all about the media for a while.

Not all of the press was so humorous to us however, and there were some stories that were downright offensive. One trashy web site speculated that I had become pregnant and that Jon had whisked me away to have an abortion before anyone found out. That hurt us both and I was particularly upset as I wasn’t used to being the subject of such slanderous gossip. Jon was furious and contacted his lawyer and the web site printed a retraction, but I was shocked at where people’s minds went when left to their own devices.

I did manage to get some Christmas shopping done and more importantly I found a craft store where I was able to purchase all the supplies I wanted for the scrapbook I was making for Jon for Christmas. I had to work on it in secret as I really wanted it to be a surprise and that was a bit challenging. I printed out all the pictures we’d taken on our trip and arranged them in sequence, adding the embellishments as I went. I would add the wedding photos afterwards.

Richie arrived in town on Friday and he and Elaine were staying with Richie’s mother, but I was tickled when Richie decided to take Jon out on the town for the night as his best man. The downside was spending the evening with Elaine.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Notice to All My Readers

I want to apologize to all my readers who have enjoyed The Sauna so far. Unfortunately there has been a particular person who takes exception to my story-and I emphasize the word STORY-who has tended to personalize a particular character that took on a different persona. Because of the harrassing comments she has begun leaving that are quite personal in nature I have decided to make the comments visible only to me so that I can screen them first before making them public. I apologize for this inconvenience and want you to know that I do appreciate your feedback and comments and I hope that you will continue to leave comments for me as you have in the past. They mean a lot, especially in view of the recent abusive posts by one person. Thank you for understanding and I hope you will continue to enjoy reading as much as I continue to enjoy writing! Thanks so much for your support and loyalty! Trish and Jon add their thanks too, LOL!

The Sauna Part 176

We arrived at the house around two o’clock and Dot came out to say hello. Stephanie was anxious to get me shopping, so we didn’t stay, but I was glad to have gotten the first meeting out of the way. She suggested a couple places to shop and Stephanie knew the way, so I decided to give it a shot and drive to the city myself. It was time I learned my way around and I thought I might actually be more comfortable with Steph than with Jon for the first time. He handed me the keys and Steph hopped in the car, urging me to hurry up.

Stephanie was bubbling with excitement about the wedding and I hated to burst her bubble, but I wanted her to understand that this wasn’t intended to be a gala affair and that we really needed to keep it quiet in order to avoid the press getting wind of it. She nodded that she understood, but shared what she’d been thinking.

“I’m glad that you and dad are getting married as it means you’ll be sticking around. I know I wasn’t so thrilled in the beginning, but I like you and well, mom’s got a boyfriend now too. It means you’ll both be happy” she said as she looked straight ahead, appearing to watch the road.

I wondered if I should tell her about the Handfasting, but I decided it was really Jon’s place to decide that. I also knew that would be a lengthy discussion and I needed to focus on driving as I had never driven in New York City before, or even in New Jersey for that matter. I smiled at Stephanie and thanked her, acknowledging how glad I was to be marrying her dad as well as to have her in my life too and she grinned.

Stephanie was a good navigator and we managed to arrive at Adriennes in just over an hour. I was grateful for the fact that there was parking available as I hadn’t needed to parallel park in years and I didn’t relish the thought of testing that skill now. We entered the store and were greeted by a pleasant looking woman in her thirties. Stephanie immediately ran to the wedding gowns and I explained that I was looking for something special, but not necessarily a wedding dress as I thought wearing white would be inappropriate to say the least.

Stephanie made a face when she heard me and I laughed as she looked so much like her father as she made duck lips. Maybe it was genetic I thought as I tried to imagine the expression on Jon’s mother and decided it must have come from his dad. The woman showed us an assortment of gowns and I rather liked the lavender satin one that seemed elegant. I tried it on, but decided it wasn’t really me as I wasn’t the elegant type. I tried on a number of others at Stephanie’s insistence, but nothing really inspired me and we decided to try another shop.

We spent the afternoon browsing and decided to stop and grab dinner as I was hungry and Steph was thirsty. We stopped at a nice restaurant as the area offered little besides rather high end establishments. I explained a bit more to Steph about what I was looking for and we chatted about the trip to Colorado and I told her we had purchased the house and was anxious for her to come and visit.

“Will you and dad be moving?” she asked, looking a bit disappointed.

“We’ll be living there some of the time but we don’t have any plans to sell your dad’s place here or my place in Gowanda. I’m not sure how it will all work out just yet, but I think I’ll stay in Colorado while your dad is in Europe” I explained.

“You aren’t going to go with him?” she questioned.

“Not for any long periods I’m afraid since we have the cats. I can’t leave them all alone all the time” I replied.

“Sort of like us kids, huh?” she responded wisely.

“Yeah, just like that, Steph” I smiled.

We finished our dinners and considered where to try next. I wondered whether the shop that Jon and I had visited at Eva’s suggestion might have something as I’d liked so many things there already. Stephanie had already found the dress she wanted to wear and I was glad she’d found something herself.

“Do you mean Helga’s?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes, do you know how to get there?” I wondered.

“Oh sure! Let’s go” she beamed and with that we were on our way.

I was tickled to see Helga was there and she smiled warmly when she saw me approach her. If I couldn’t find the right dress here with her help then it didn’t exist I thought ruefully. I told Helga what the occasion was and described what I had in mind and she looked delighted.

“You’re fiancé? He is not here vith you today?” she inquired with an amused look.

“Not today, but I have Steph with me and she is his daughter” I replied and Helga nodded knowingly.

“Come vith me” she instructed and we followed her towards the back room where there were a number of new items that hadn’t even been tagged yet.

I knew we had found the dress before Helga even took it off the rack. I spied it immediately and caught my breath as she reached for it and I heard Stephanie sigh at my side. It was an exquisite gown in a light cream color with lace everywhere. The sleeves were completely lace and it had a full sweep with an uneven hem and I thought it could have been made for Guinevere herself.

“Try it on, try it on!” Stephanie prompted excitedly.

Helga handed me the dress, which was actually quite heavy with seed pearls and brocade at the bodice and layers of fabric which gave it the fullness I loved. I knew it would fit, but I was anxious to try it on too and I was glad it would be a surprise for Jon. I slipped it on in the dressing room with Stephanie and she nodded her assent and Helga concurred.

“You look like a queen!” Steph breathed with another sigh and I felt like one too.

“It is stunning on you” Helga offered and I had to agree.

We went to checkout and for once I didn’t even hesitate at the price. It was a magnificent creation and it couldn’t have been more perfect. For a moment I almost wished for once that the paparazzi would be there, but I knew we could have Richie take photos instead. I was beginning to feel like a bride now and I was glad Stephanie had made me accept that this event was special after all.

It was dark now as we headed back to the house and the traffic had actually grown heavier. People were headed away from the city, returning to their homes in the suburbs and it seemed as though everyone was in a hurry. We had stopped at a traffic light when suddenly a car came careening down the street and rear-ended us. I put out my arm to protect Stephanie, but the airbag deployed and we were both struck with the force of the blow. The airbag itself knocked the wind from our lungs and I felt a moment of panic.

We were both okay and undamaged, but the car was in no condition to drive and I had no idea what to do next. I called Jon immediately and told him what happened as we got out of the car and I shot an angry glance toward the man who’d hit us.

“Shit! Are you and Steph okay? I don’t give a rat’s ass about the car, but did either of you get hurt?” Jon demanded.

“No, love, we’re fine, but the airbags went off and I don’t think we can drive the car. What should I do and where is your insurance card and registration? I hear the cops now” I asked hurriedly.

It’s all in the glove compartment. Where are you? I’ll be right there!” he sputtered.

I didn’t really know where we were and Stephanie asked for the phone and I handed it to her. I saw the lights as the police car arrived and I dug in the glove box and found the necessary paperwork. I was too angry to even go over to the other driver who was sitting on the curb with his head in his hands.

“No dad, we’re fine, really. Just come and get us, okay?” she said calmly as she described where we were.

The cops took our statement and charged the other driver with a DWI and it was obvious he was intoxicated when he stood up and staggered. An ambulance arrived too but there really was no need and I refused to go to the hospital or do anything until Jon arrived. He pulled up a short while later and ran over to us and hugged me and Stephanie. We explained what had happened and I stopped Jon when he made a move to approach the other driver.

“Let the cops handle it, love. We need you right now” I pleaded and he relented, turning his attention to us.

The paramedics had checked us out and while we were shaken, we weren’t damaged. The impact had been hard, but we were actually more startled by the airbags then the jolt to the car and I wondered if we both had bruised ribs from the airbags. I was anxious to get home now and I knew Dot would be anxious to see Steph and know she was okay for herself even though Jon had called to tell her we were okay after seeing it for himself. We piled in the BMW and headed back to Rumson after Jon had arranged for the car to be towed away.

The Sauna Part 175

We spent the next few days in Colorado enjoying our solitude and I taught Jon how to meditate and induce trance so we could pursue additional information about our past lives together. He was an apt pupil and mastered the art quickly and we learned many more details about the lifetimes we’d shared and hopefully enough to avoid repeating any of the mistakes we’d made back then. It was finally time to pack up again and return to New Jersey and the life we’d escaped and we both felt ready to face whatever lay ahead.

“This has been the most wonderful two weeks I could have imagined” I said to Jon as we finished our dinners and cleaned up the dishes.

“I can’t believe how fast the time went, but truthfully I’m ready to head back tomorrow” Jon commented.

“I know, love, so am I. It’s been hard to hold the world at bay and I’m anxious to see the cats and the kids and get ready for the holidays. There’s so much to do when we get back” I said, thinking about all the things that would be coming up and the arrangements that still needed to be made.

Jon had called his friend, the Mayor of Rumson, who had been only too happy to officiate at the wedding ceremony and we had set a date for December 20th, the first Saturday after we returned. The show at Giants was on Monday and the Christmas party with the band was on Wednesday and then, of course, there was the retirement party on New Year’s Eve. Somewhere in between I needed to go shopping with Stephanie and find a dress for the wedding and pick out Christmas gifts for everyone and I was determined to finish that scrapbook for Jon as his gift.

It was our last night in Colorado and Jon wasn’t about to waste it dwelling on all that was waiting for us back home. He took the two taper candles we’d had on the table during dinner and gave me a nudge as he headed up the stairs towards the bedroom. Our suitcases stood ready and mostly packed by the bedroom door and we had the rest of the night to spend making another memory.

I followed Jon into the bedroom and he set the candles down on either side of the bed and we lit a few more that were scattered about the room and turned off the remaining lights. I shed my clothes and climbed into bed while Jon built the fire before joining me. He climbed in beside me and pulled me into his arms as he sighed.

“Tonight’s my last chance to have you all to myself in bed” he teased, referring to the horde of cats that would be joining us tomorrow.

“I’ll agree it has been nice not to have to share the bed” I admitted reluctantly, snuggling into him.

“And no claws digging into my back in the middle of the night” he laughed.

I kissed Jon deeply then, loving him that much more for putting up with the interference from my furry devils. I missed my babies, but I would also miss the peace and closeness we’d enjoyed without interruption since we’d arrived. Jon rolled us over toward the middle of the bed and raised himself up on his arms as he looked down at me. We lay there quietly for several moments regarding one another.

“I love you Jon” I said softly.

“I love you too, Trish” Jon murmured as he nuzzled my neck with his chin.

We made love gently, with the utmost tenderness and affection, taking comfort and solace in the feel of each other. We kissed and cuddled and spoke words of endearment as we took our time, enjoying the unhurried pace as our bodies mingled and danced, glowing in the light from the fire. When we were finished, we were not exhausted, but rather deeply satisfied and fulfilled. We slept soundly, nestled in one another’s arms.


It was snowing in Colorado when our plane took off and I looked out the window as I fondly said goodbye to our new home. I would come back after Jon left for Europe, but for now I needed to focus on the next few weeks and all that needed to get done. Jon called Rick to advise him of our tentative arrival time and I worked on a list of what we needed to do. It was the 16th of December and I had really only three days to plan a wedding.

We arrived at LaGuardia just after noon and Rick had boarded the plane to help us with our bags. Jon had strained his back when he had stored the carry-on bag in the storage compartment over head and I was glad that the crew and Rick were able to unload our bags as I knew they were stuffed to the bursting point. I insisted on taking the carry-on down myself as I didn’t want Jon taking the chance of making his back any worse.

“Babe, I’m fine! I’m not an old man and the bag isn’t that heavy” he grumbled.

“This is not up for discussion; now move out of the way and stop arguing with me and let me get it” I ordered him.

“Both of you, get off the plane and go wait at the gate and let me do my job please” Rick intervened as he physically removed me from the spot where I was standing and Jon chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” I asked, a little disgruntled myself at being treated as though I was too dainty for the job.

“Nothing, darlin’, nothing at all” he said, winking at Rick.

Without further ado, Rick shuffled us both off the plane and into the airport as he returned to get the bag and he and Vicky grinned at each other. If Jon’s middle name was stubborn, mine had to be obstinate he thought to himself. He swung the object of controversy down from the storage container and proceeded to meet us in the airport. The crew brought out our luggage and Rich hauled it onto a cart and escorted us out to the waiting limo.

“How are the kids doing? Did they miss us?” I asked, anxious to see my little ones.

“They seemed a little out of sorts at first, but we got along well once they got used to me. I used to have a cat when I was a boy and Zeke reminded me a lot of him. He was a polypod too” Rick smiled.

“Don’t tell me that little shit actually liked you?” Jon piped in.

“He’s not a little shit, he’s just special” I said defensively.

“Aaawww, they were all good. We didn’t have any problems” Rick said, trying to keep the peace.

We arrived at the house and Jon and I went in first while Rick tended to the luggage. Eddie and Opie greeted us immediately while Floyd watched from a distance, appearing aloof. Zeke raced into the living room from the bedroom and nearly tripped over himself as he skidded, trying to stop before he ran into Jon. He immediately turned around and fled back to the bedroom and we heard a crash.

“This feels like déjà vu” Jon commented as we followed him to inspect the damage.

I picked up the lamp that had fallen, presumably when the cat knocked into the table in his haste to dive under the bed. It wasn’t broken, but I was dismayed to see that Zeke and Jon would need to start over again to build a relationship. We immediately fed them and I dug in the carry-on for the cat treats I had brought with me, hoping to ease the sting of another separation.

“You’re bribing them” Jon observed.

“Yes” I replied matter of factly.

Jon shook his head, but procured his own can of treats from the bag and I stared. He shook the can and proceeded to rip it open as he squatted down and found himself now at the center of attention from three greedy cats. They were eating right out of his hand.

“It was Richie’s idea” he smirked at me.

It was my turn to shake my head as the trick worked and soon even Zeke appeared in the doorway and watched. Jon called to him and threw him a treat and I just stood there, completely at a loss for words. I’d never even seen him sneak the treats in the bag and now I knew why he’d been so determined to grab the damn thing himself. Jon stood up triumphantly and I had to hand it to him; he had really surprised me.

“Do I get a treat now too?” I asked and he stretched out his arms.

“Come to daddy, baby” he said smugly and I kissed him in spite of myself.

Rick deposited the rest of our bags and gave Zeke a pat on the head before taking his leave. We both thanked him heartily for such a huge favor and he offered to baby sit anytime. He assured us it hadn’t been much of a hardship as he didn’t live all that far away.

The phone rang and it was Stephanie. She was on winter break from school and it was her mission now to get me out shopping for a dress as the wedding was only a few days away and she couldn’t imagine anyone waiting until the last minute like this. I was tired from the flight, but it was still early and we had plenty of time to get to the city and do some shopping and Jon was anxious to see the kids too. He nodded and told me to tell her we’d be there shortly.