Monday, June 30, 2008

The Sauna Part 201

“Jonny! There you are!” Carol exclaimed as she swept by me to embrace her son.

“Glad you made it, mom! We couldn’t begin without the guest of honor” Jon said indulgently as he winked at me over her shoulder.

I caught Richie’s expression as he’d seen Jon’s wink and he was hiding his smile with his hand. This was Carol’s swan song and I had no desire to steal her thunder, at least not tonight. I moved aside and went over to stand by Richie and he bent his head to my ear.

“She’s a real piece of work” he chuckled and I nodded.

I could not have upstaged Carol if I’d been dripping with diamonds. She was dressed to the nines and the sparkle of sequins nearly blinded me as they shimmered under the lights. Perhaps that was another reason why Jon always wore sunglasses. I tried not to sneeze from the cloud of perfume and suddenly wondered why on earth I had ever felt intimidated by such a woman. I had never seen such a spectacle.

“Happy New Year, Trish. You must be excited too” John said quietly.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to be more involved in the Fan Club” I replied softly. “Have you and Carol made any plans for retirement?” I inquired.

“No, not yet actually. I’m hoping once this is all over that Carol might want to take a break from the spotlight and travel, perhaps” he said casually.

He looked rather tired, I thought, and I hoped he was right. At least Jon’s dad was looking forward to Carol’s retirement and I marveled at the patience he showed.

“It must be hard on you to be surrounded by so many celebrities, but you handle it so graciously. Any words of wisdom for someone new to the challenge? ” I asked.

“Always support them publicly, but don’t let them forget who they are in private” he said candidly.

“Well said and thank you. I’ll remember” I smiled.

“Trish, it’s time” Jon announced as he ushered me off to the side of the small stage to wait with him.

Carol took her time as she made her way through the crowd, stopping to kiss and hug everyone in her path. She glittered and sparkled as she climbed on the stage and stood waiting while her audience began to settle down. Jon squeezed my hand once before following her onto the stage and a hush fell over the guests.

“Friends, we are gathered here tonight to pay tribute to an extraordinary woman, my mother, Carol Bongiovi, or ‘Mrs. B’ as many of you know her. She has been with the Fan Club since it began many years ago, long before it even had an official name. I can remember back in the day when it was located in mom and dad’s house and she and I would answer fan mail while we sat at the kitchen table!”

The assembled crowd laughed and Carol nodded vigorously. As Jon went on and spoke about his mother’s accomplishments and devotion over the years I began to get a picture of just how much she had truly contributed. Aside from her current behavior, and her particular reaction towards me, she really had supported him from the very beginning and he owed her much. And he hadn’t forgotten. He acknowledged her steadfast belief in him and all that she had achieved through her efforts and he thanked her profusely.

Carol appeared genuinely moved as she listened to what Jon recounted and I could see that she was remembering those early struggles too. I listened with rapt attention and a growing appreciation for the role she’d played, not only in his career, but in his life over the years. I began to feel rather small and mean-spirited for discounting the woman who had always stood by him, through hard times and lean years, and my eyes were misty as he handed the mike to his mom.

Carol’s eyes were moist too as she hugged her son and took a moment to collect herself before addressing the assembled crowd. Many gathered here tonight had worked with her for some twenty odd years and there was sincere affection on the faces of many. Jon handed her a drink and she took a sip first before she began. She thanked Jon for the glowing tribute he’d paid her and she thanked all of the staff, both past and present, at Backstage. She even remembered to thank her husband and her two other sons for their love and support and even their patience during her long tenure.

I had to admit that I was beginning to feel a degree of respect for what she had done, both for Jon as well as the fans. She had dedicated over twenty years of her life to the Fan Club and her love and loyalty to Jon had been unfailing. My heart began to soften as I stood there silently and saw tears in the eyes of numerous staff and employees who I had no doubt would be grieving her departure. And they might not necessarily welcome her replacement either, I realized. Whatever my opinion of Carol had been, it was obvious that everyone didn’t share it and I would need to work hard to gain their respect and trust.

Carol concluded her speech by announcing that the Fan Club would continue under ‘new management’ and that she hoped that the transition would go smoothly. She invited all of the staff to continue supporting her son and the “biggest and best band in the world” and that they could rest assured that her son had no plans to retire any time soon. This final statement was met with resounding applause and Jon flashed his megawatt smile toward the crowd, but I saw him look sharply at his mother before she handed him the microphone.

“And now I give you my son, Jon, who will share his plans for Backstage and introduce you to the new Director, his wife” she added finally as Jon ignored her attempts to hand him the mike until she acknowledged me somewhat grudgingly.

I felt the pit in my stomach as she struggled to say the words and I saw that she refused to speak my name. Jon wasn’t pleased, but he hid it quite well as he accepted the mic and turned toward the crowd. His dad led Carol from the stage and she was immediately thronged by an entourage and I strained to see who they were. I needed to remember the faces and keep a watchful eye on her closest companions. Jon addressed the attentive crowd and he spoke with enthusiasm as he began his introduction.

“There is only one person I would entrust with such an important endeavor and who I believe to be the ideal candidate for the job. I am thrilled to introduce you to the only other woman I love with all my heart, my wife, Trish!” he proclaimed to deafening applause.

My legs were shaking as I climbed the stage to stand beside Jon. I knew full well that the clamor of the crowd was for Jon, not for me, and he could have been introducing Marie Antoinette for all that the cheering mattered. In fact, I felt rather like her and briefly imagined it was a scaffold I was mounting as opposed to a stage. I prayed to the Goddess silently that I wouldn’t end up losing my head in the end.

Jon kissed me and stood with his arm around me and I was grateful for his support. I smiled genuinely as I heard Richie let out a loud wolf whistle. I actually laughed as I caught site of his face and he gave me the thumbs up sign. The audience quieted and Jon handed me the mic.

“It will be an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of such an amazing woman who has built such a wonderful Fan Club and I will forever be indebted to her for her legacy. I look forward to sharing my passion” I said as I turned to Jon “with all of you.”

It wasn’t the thunder of applause that made me feel weak in the knees, but rather Jon’s smile as he looked at me with those sultry, bedroom eyes and his most wicked smirk. Apparently I wasn’t the only one so affected as the noise grew louder and was accompanied by more whistles and shouts from the audience. Evidently I had made a good impression with that little pun and I hoped it would serve as a sign that the new Backstage with Jon Bon Jovi would be a bit less repressive than its predecessor.

Carol turned her head in disgust, obviously disappointed that there weren’t hisses and boos and I felt a sense of relief as we departed the stage. The worst was over and now I could relax and begin to enjoy the new era. The reigning queen’s shadow would linger only a bit longer and then we could start having fun. Here we go, let the party begin.

Thank You to everyone!!!!!!!!!!

Well, folks, the story continues. It seems to have a mind of its own and I seem to be incapable of writing an ending until the muse decides that it's time. Thank you for all the positive comments and support for the story for so long and I appreciate what everyone has said more than you know. I'm happy to hear that folks are still reading and interested as Jon and Trish apparently still have more to share with us, so, as the saying goes... the show must go on (or in this case, the story, LOL!) Please keep sharing your thoughts and opinions-they mean so much and it lets me know that I'm not alone on this journey!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Sauna Part 200

The day after Christmas was quiet and peaceful. We slept in late and took a leisurely soak in the hot tub, enjoying the opportunity to be lazy. Since we’d returned from our trip, Jon’s life had resumed with breakneck speed and I missed the unhurried lifestyle we’d shared recently while we were away.

It was a pleasure to have a lazy day to ourselves, but by Saturday I was itching to browse the holiday sales. I had resolved to acquire a stockpile of Christmas decorations for next year and there was no better time to start, or so I told Jon. I missed the after Christmas shopping frenzy that I usually shared with my sister and he was less than enthused at the prospect.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather call Eva?” Jon groaned.

“It sounds like you would rather that I call Eva” I smiled, looking at him rather dubiously.

He raised his eyebrows and chuckled and I picked up the phone and called her. Actually, he was right. I missed having a girlfriend or sister to shop with and Eva was up for the trip. She said Tico looked equally grateful.

“You’re off the hook!” I informed Jon as I hung up the phone and he breathed a sigh of relief.

Eva arrived around noon and we drove to the city to begin our adventure. I could only imagine yesterday’s chaos as the stores were still jammed with shoppers looking for bargains. We had a blast together as the crowds seemed to energize us as we snatched at one sale item after another. It was a toss up as to which one of us was the worst and we giggled as we loaded the last bag into the trunk of her car.

“God, I missed this! I’m never shopping with Tico again!” Eva beamed.

“I hear ya, Eva. Jon would have been whining hours ago” I agreed.


The early part of the week passed in a blur as Jon became occupied with business and I began to get acquainted with the staff at the Fan Club. I found it rather curious that his mother was never available while I was around and there were questions and details that only she could have answered. Despite her lack of cooperation, I learned what I needed to know and I felt prepared to step in once she officially stepped down.

It was now Wednesday night and I began to feel a bit uneasy as Jon and I began getting ready for the retirement party. I knew that his mother would be surrounded by sycophants and I expected a bit of drama as she relinquished her throne unwillingly, but I was also a bit nervous about spending time with his brothers. They would both be there tonight, of course, and although I had met Tony and Matt already, I really didn’t feel that I knew them.

“How do your brothers feel about all of this, Jon?” I asked him as he zipped up my dress.

I had decided to wear the grey one I had bought some time ago and hadn’t yet worn. It was elegant, but not showy and I really wanted to appear as unobtrusive as possible. I had deliberately chosen my plainest pair of earrings and the only other jewelry I wore was the pentacle necklace from Jon which I’d never removed since he gave it to me on Christmas.

“Tony couldn’t care less, but Matt’s been involved all along and he really handles the business end of things. Don’t let him push you around, though, as this will be your operation from here on and I’ll support any decisions you make. I love my brother, but he’s more of a control freak than I am” Jon frowned.

I felt the knot in my stomach tighten as he confirmed what I already suspected. Matt had been around during the week to answer questions as I learned about the various aspects of the Fan Club, but to say he had been cool was an understatement. I knew there were things I intended to change, but I sensed the need to move slowly. The last thing I needed was for his brother’s nose to be out of joint too and I didn’t want him running to Jon with complaints as soon as I took the lead.

“You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that, love. I will do my best not to ruffle any more feathers than necessary, but there are things I definitely plan to change” I replied.

“Baby, that’s why I put you in charge. I’ll talk to Matt more tonight and make sure he understands that you have complete authority over there and that I fully expect him to support your decisions” he reassured me.

“Okay, I guess I’m ready” I breathed, still fussing with my hair which I tended to do when I was agitated.

Jon placed his hands on my shoulders as he looked over me into the mirror. I met his eyes in the reflection and smiled wanly and he bent down to kiss my neck.

“You look beautiful, lady. Stop fussing” he said softly.

“It’s not too much, is it?” I said, suddenly doubtful and wondering if I had a plainer dress to wear.

“No, you’re perfect” he chuckled.

Jon knew that I was feeling intimidated tonight and he wasn’t used to seeing me quite that vulnerable, but he rather liked it in a strange sort of way. It was good to know that I needed him and he was more than willing to protect me if necessary. He knew how his family could be and he also knew how to handle them and he had no reservations about knocking his brother down a peg if he gave me any grief.

I stood up and turned to face Jon. He slipped his arms around my waist and drew me closer into his embrace. I felt myself begin to relax at the feel of his strength and I knew I could depend on him tonight. I actually liked the fact that he was rather protective towards me even if it did take some getting used to. He wasn’t throwing me to the wolves on my own and he’d be beside me every step of the way. I kissed him deeply and knew I was ready, come what may.

We reached Elements at about eight-thirty and stepped out of the limo together, arm in arm. The press was there as there had been a media release, thanks to Carol’s need for recognition, but at least they weren’t being allowed inside. The party was strictly for the staff of the Fan Club and family as Jon had already made that clear when he’d heard from a reporter earlier in the day.

Jon gave a statement to the assembled paparazzi and officially introduced me as the new head of the Fan Club and we made our way inside without further delay. It was already crowded inside and I quickly scanned the room for any familiar faces. I didn’t see Carol or Jon’s dad yet and I let out my breath I’d been holding. Leave it to Carol to be late since it was her last opportunity to make a grand entrance.

I heard a familiar voice suddenly and I turned as Richie sidled up alongside me. I felt his hand on my elbow as he leaned closer to whisper.

“Don’t worry, doll. I’ve got your back” he grinned as he kissed my cheek.

“Oh, Richie, thank Goddess. I’m so happy to see a friendly face” I gushed as he and Jon exchanged knowing looks.

“You look stunning, Trish” Richie said in a comforting voice and he winked at me just for good measure.

Okay, I can do this, I told myself resolutely. I loved Jon for inviting Richie for my sake and he was as much “family” as anyone else. I began to get irritated with myself for being so apprehensive and I squared my shoulders and flashed them both a brilliant smile. I began to feel my confidence returning and I touched the pendant between my breasts symbolically. Jon, Richie and the Goddess were all here with me tonight and I wasn’t alone. And the glass of wine that Jon thrust into my hand didn’t hurt either.

“A toast to the new head of Backstage” Matt announced suddenly and the three of us turned to see Jon’s brother standing there with his glass raised.

Where in the hell had he come from? He had a habit of sneaking up on me, I realized, and I wondered if it was intentional. I recovered my composure quickly, however, and raised my glass in response and smiled winningly.

“Hey, man, you’re here! Where’s mom? She’s late” Jon said irritably, checking his watch.

“You know mom. She’s probably outside making a statement and wooing the press. Anything for her dear Jonny” Matt said sarcastically.

I didn’t like the edge in his voice or the attitude it revealed and I was beginning to question just how much he resented Jon’s success. Perhaps Matt knew more of what went on day to day at the Fan Club then he let on and I wondered if he might be directly contributing to some of the backbiting I’d seen. My gut instinctively warned me not to trust him, but I hoped I was wrong.

Jon’s eyes had narrowed and it was apparent that Matt’s tone wasn’t lost on him either, but he chose not to respond to it. Instead he slipped his arm around me and I saw Matt smirk at the gesture. It was Jon’s subtle way of letting him know that I would serve as his eyes at the Fan Club.

“Well, you won’t need to cover for mom any longer now that Trish is involved. She’s not one to overlook responsibility in favor of attention” Jon added smoothly.

Damn, he was good. I had to hand it to him. Jon radiated power and he exuded self-confidence without seeming arrogant. I found myself smiling at the exchange and anticipating my role with some relish. Jon was no fool and he meant what he said about backing me up. Matt might be blood, but business was business and Jon wasn’t too pleased with how Matt had managed the club in his mother’s shadow.

“Hey, how’s everybody doing? Have you tried the buffet yet? Where’s mom?” Tony said as he joined us.

“Everything looks wonderful, Tony! We’re just waiting for Carol to arrive before we begin” I explained, stepping forward.

Tony gave me a hug and grinned at Jon and Richie, but only nodded at Matt. The dynamics were fascinating already, I thought shrewdly. Tonight was going to be quite a learning experience.

There was a commotion near the front door and without turning to look I knew that Carol had arrived. Jon met my eyes and we exchanged meaningful looks before taking deep breaths and smiling. Here we go, let the party begin.

Note to Readers

As we approach Chapter 200, I wanted to say thank you to all those who've been reading the story this far. I know it is long-and I never expected it to become a mini-novel myself- but I wanted everyone to know how much I have appreciated their comments and how inspiring they've been! It's the reason the story has continued as long as it has. I'm beginning to think that perhaps it has gone on too long and that folks are beginning to lose interest and are hoping to see it end soon! Please let me know as I appreciate your feedback and I have no wish to torture the faithful with more chapters if you're just being loyal. I have enjoyed writing the story and getting to know many of you through your comments, but lately I've sensed that folks have had enough.

So, yes, this is a thinly veiled request for comments if you're still enjoying the story and want it to continue. I haven't yet reached an ending in my mind, but I will make an effort to do so if folks would prefer that at this point.

Again, thanks to everyone for indulging me for so long. Chapter 200 will follow shortly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Sauna Part 199

The day had slipped away and as evening descended we began to think about dinner. We hadn’t planned anything ourselves and we were rummaging through the cupboards and the Frig for what we could use to make a meal when the phone rang. It was Stephanie.

“Dad, the snow’s letting up and the roads are clear. They cancelled the driving ban, so we wanted to know if you and Trish can come over for dinner and we can exchange our presents afterwards. Please, Dad!” she pleaded.

“Looks like our dinner dilemma is solved” Jon grinned as he covered the phone. “We’ll be over, Steph, but we need to shower and dress first” he assured her.

I was way ahead of him and already heading towards the shower. I was glad it had cleared up enough to travel and that we could see the kids. It didn’t quite seem like Christmas to Jon without seeing them and he was humming ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ as he joined me.

“We should bring ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with us” he teased and I groaned.

We finished our shower and got ready quickly. Jon loaded up all the remaining packages from under the tree while I finished getting dressed and I made my own duck lips at him as I saw the DVD sitting on top of the bag. I wrapped up a plate of cookies and we were on our way.

We arrived at the house just after six and John took the bag full of presents from Jon and motioned us in. We were greeted by the aroma of roasting turkey and a gaggle of kids as they swarmed around us. Jon lifted Romeo up in his arms and I headed for the kitchen to see if I could give Dot a hand.

“This smells wonderful! I’m so glad we could get together after all. Thank you for inviting us! Can I give you a hand?” I offered as Dot gave me a hug and wished me a happy holiday.

“Actually, can you take the salad out to the dining room and then give me a hand with some of these sides? We’re just waiting on the turkey” she explained.

She and I worked together in the kitchen while the guys kept the kids occupied. Stephanie came and joined us after giving me a hug and soon everything was ready and she went to call the crew. My mouth was watering as Dot pulled the turkey from the oven to cool a bit while we started on our salads. It was a meal fit for a king and we all ate heartily that night.

“This is fabulous!” I said appreciatively as I took another bite of Dot’s sausage stuffing.

“It was my mom’s recipe. It’s really easy” she beamed.

The kids chattered happily about their new stuff they had gotten that morning and Jon acknowledged their fine work on the snowman out front. Dinner was a relaxed affair and I felt pretty privileged to have been included in such a family tradition. It seemed as though we had all been together for years despite John and I being newcomers this year.

After dinner we moved into the living room and I noted that John had arranged all the gifts under the tree. It was beautifully decorated compared to our rather sparsely embellished tree and I vowed that we would be better prepared next year. Romeo climbed into Jon’s lap and Jakey hung on his shoulder as we began passing around the presents.

“On your mark, get set, go!” Jon announced once everyone had their packages.

This was quite different than I was accustomed to as everyone began tearing open their gifts all at once. I followed suit and broke with my own tradition as I tore off the wrapping and laughed. It was fun to do it like that and Jon grinned. It certainly did speed up the event and soon we were finished as everyone sat with their pile and began to talk all at once.

“I love this! It’s just what I wanted! Thanks Dad! Thanks Trish!” Stephanie said excitedly as she began programming the cell phone and I smiled as she was wearing the shawl.

“This is awesome!” Jesse breathed as he examined the collection of artist supplies and his sketchbook.

Jon was putting batteries into the remote control car for Jakey and soon it was buzzing about us on the floor as the two of them played together. Romeo was hugging his “wookie” doll as he climbed into Dot’s lap and she winked at me over the top of his head. John was smiling as he thanked us for the collection of holiday mead I’d selected and Dot was anxious to try the herbal slippers I’d gotten her as her feet hurt from cooking all day.

Steph showed me how to use the new camera phone that I had gotten from everyone and I grinned as I read her hand-written instructions about how to download the pictures. Jon used his new fancy bottle opener to crack open the wine he had gotten from Dot and the kids while John went to get glasses for the four of us. I thanked them both for the beautiful Christmas ornament that commemorated our first Christmas together.

“Oooohhh, wait! There’s one more!” Stephanie trilled as she handed me one last package.

I untied the bow and tore off the paper and began to smile as I saw the name on the box. Jon was looking over my shoulder and I heard him moan as I opened it up and began to laugh almost hysterically. Inside were the same cat “cookies” that Richie had gotten for Zeke. I poked Jon in the ribs as I offered him one with a wicked look on my face.

“Eeeewwww!” Stephanie giggled as I recounted the story from last night and I thought Dot would fall off her chair laughing.

Jon made his famous duck lips and scowled at all of us which only made everyone jeer that much more. Even Jesse, the quietest one, got in the act as he teased his dad.

“You just saw cookies and lost it, didn’t you, dad?” he jibed.

Jon turned crimson and I was delighted after all the times he had made me blush. He hung his head to hide his shame, but he was laughing now too; we could all tell. It had been a wonderful gift and the highlight of the evening as far as I was concerned and I managed to get it on film with my new camera phone.

“Okay, okay, I admit it! I’m a cookie monster!” Jon grinned as he tackled Jakey who squealed with pleasure as Jon tickled him silly.

Once the excitement died down we were ready for dessert and John suggested that we move to the Rec room and watch the DVD we had brought. I took a deep breath and sighed, knowing it was my turn now to get teased.

“Yeah, Trish has never seen the movie!” Jon announced gleefully.

“You’ve never seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? It’s a Christmas classic” John asked incredulously.

“No, I’ve never been able to sit through the whole thing. I bought it for Jon so he could torture me with it” I admitted sheepishly.

“It is pretty sappy” Jesse agreed and I was glad to have at least one ally as we trudged off to the screening room.

The movie was every bit as bad as I remembered, but I managed to make it through to the end this time as Jesse and I groaned together at the most preposterous parts. Jon looked as content as I had ever seen him and he sighed when the movie ended and we made ready to leave. Romeo had fallen asleep in his arms and I was touched as he handed him to his counterpart, John, with a wink of acknowledgement.

We hugged everyone goodbye and even I was a bit disappointed that the evening was over, but I felt very fulfilled. I had never been part of a large family or experienced Christmas with children and it had been a more powerful experience than I had imagined. This was the way it was supposed to be and I was grateful to have been a part of the family.

“We should do this again sometime soon. Let’s not wait for the holidays, Trish. You’re always welcome here” Dot whispered in my ear and I hugged her back with genuine affection.

Jon yawned as we climbed into the car with a bag of gifts and very full bellies. I snuggled against him as we drove home, tired but happy. Jon pulled me closer and kissed the top of my head as we passed by house after house trimmed with holiday lights.

“Merry Christmas, baby” he purred softly.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Sauna Part 198

“So, how about those presents?” Jon chuckled softly.

“I guess we could do that now, although it seems a bit anti-climactic” I replied, half-seriously and half in jest.

Jon laughed at the pun, but he was anxious now for me to open my gifts and he sat up, pulling me along with him. He tossed me my robe and slipped on his own as we were both a bit chilled now and the fire needed attention. It had begun to die down and I went to get us some eggnog while he blew on the embers and added another log. I turned on some Christmas music and we settled down by the tree.

“Open this first” he urged, handing me a small box.

I opened it carefully, saving the paper and he smiled. Some habits die hard, I had to admit. I drew out a beautiful pendant on a silver chain and I caught my breath. It was an exquisite pentacle, surrounded by scrolling vines which gave it the delicate appearance of filigree, and as I looked at it more closely I realized that there was an inscription on the lower edge. ‘For My Beloved Goddess~Jon’ the inscription read.

“I love it! I’ve never seen anything like this, honestly! And the inscription… Jon… I… ”

I threw my arms around his neck, my eyes brimming with tears. I was moved beyond words and I couldn’t speak. It was so beautiful and precious and I was touched by the words he had written. Jon made me feel like a Goddess and there was no question that he represented the God to me. I turned and lifted my hair while he fastened the clasp, kissing my neck as he did so.

“You are my Goddess, you know” he whispered.

“Jon, I love you so much and you are my God, too” I replied, my eyes shining with the love I felt for him.

We kissed again, but I was anxious now for him to open his special present. I reached under the tree and drew out the package and handed it to him with a grin. He removed the card that was attached and opened it first:

I wanted you to have something while you’re on tour to remind you of what’s waiting at home! I love you, baby~

Jon had a smile on his face as he tore off the wrapping and opened the box. I could tell it wasn’t quite what he expected and I had a good idea where his mind had gone. He removed the scrapbook and fingered the cover for a moment before opening the book. The first page was one of my favorite photos of us and showed Jon as he dipped me for a kiss against the setting sun. He grinned instantly, remembering when it had been taken on our trip.

He laughed and smiled, studying each page as he read the inscriptions I had added, remembering the stories behind the photos and admiring the additional embellishments I had added. There were pictures of us from the trip, from Buffalo and Jersey and even some that Richie had taken in California. There were pictures even he didn’t remember and ones I had taken when he hadn’t realized it. There was even a page for a wedding picture which I hadn’t had time to add yet.

“This is amazing …” he said in a choked voice, taut with emotion, as he lingered over one of the pages.

It was one of the photos that Richie had taken back in Buffalo after the Handfasting. I had never shown it to Jon and I had forgotten about it myself until I downloaded the pictures. In the photo, we were standing together and looking directly at one another and you could see the hill where we had been joined in the distance. I had to hand it to Richie as he had more talents than we realized and I was grateful to him for his clever work with the camera when we weren’t paying attention.

“Richie really took some amazing photos, didn’t he? I didn’t even realize he’d taken them until I downloaded everything from the camera” I nodded.

“It is a great picture, but I meant the book itself. All the work you put into this and what you’ve written. I can guarantee you that I’ll be homesick as hell now!” he laughed a little sadly.

We hadn’t talked about the tour or decided just how we would manage things while he was away, but we both saddened at the prospect of separation. It would be the first time we were apart since the day we met and neither of us wanted to think about that right now, but we were both a little quiet as the thought loomed over us.

“Thank you, baby. I love what you did and I will take it with me for when I get lonely” he said, hugging me a little tighter and a little longer than usual.

I reached for another gift, but he stopped me.

“Nope, it’s someone else’s turn” he grinned, shaking off the momentary melancholy as he handed me a gift bag.

“Someone else?” I wondered as I looked around the room.

“Read the tag” he smirked.

“Merry Christmas to Zeke & his Buddies from Dad” I laughed as I read the tag aloud. “Do you hear that, boys? Dad remembered to get you presents!” I squealed.

Zeke’s ears twitched and he looked directly at me as I called him over and Eddie was already digging a paw into the bag. It was as though they understood every word sometimes. Zeke had actually been lying near the fire earlier, but now they were all sitting beside us waiting patiently. Even Floyd.

Eddie had managed to drag a furry mouse toy out of the bag and I could hardly deny Jon’s comment that he was the biggest brat among them. I helped the others and discovered that there were treats for Opie to share and toys galore for everyone. Only Floyd sniffed and looked at Jon with disdain.

“I didn’t forget you, old man” Jon cackled as he reached in the bag and withdrew a package marked with a tag for Floyd.

“Here ya go, buddy. Kitty herbs!” he announced proudly and I laughed.

He’d thought of everything. If he couldn’t win Floyd over with his charm, he’d drug him into a mellow mood. And it worked as Floyd actually was a catnip junkie! He started to purr loudly and roll around in the catnip Jon had proceeded to sprinkle all over his lap and the carpet.

“Richie?” I asked, shaking my head.

“Yeah, it was his suggestion. Damn! The little bugger really likes it too!” he observed.

Floyd was almost drooling with affection now and Jon was positively tickled. I remembered suddenly reading something that Jon had been quoted as saying when he gave an address to some college students years ago and I had always liked the phrase. It seemed to fit now.

“Passion + Perseverance=Possibility” I quoted and Jon looked up and stared at me.

“I was a fan, you know” I smirked back at his startled expression.

“Shit. I can’t take credit for the original quote, but I thought it sounded pretty impressive at the time. I just never thought it would come to describe my desperate attempts to win over the furry devil” he snickered.

“Okay, next!” I announced as I pushed another package into his hands.

He opened the package, careful this time to save the wrapping, and opened the box. Inside were the leather journal and the quill pen I had found. ‘For all your musings’ I had written inside the cover along with the date.

“This is cool, but you’ll have to show me how to write with it. I can use this to jot down lyrics when they come to me. It sure beats an old napkin” he grinned.

It was my turn again and I opened another larger box that was quite heavy. I had no idea what it could be and I carefully lifted out the contents and removed the Styrofoam. It was a beautifully sculpted stone statue of a cat angel and emblazoned on the collar I read the name.

“Beowulf” I said softly, tears brimming in my eyes.

“Trish, I know you miss her. It’s a statue we can place over where we buried her in the back yard” he said gently.

“Oh, Jon!” I exclaimed, my voice muffled against his chest as he held me.

“Baby, I know” Jon cooed tenderly as I cried.

I was so touched again by his thoughtfulness and intuition and as much as I missed her, I loved him more for remembering. The statue itself was simply elegant, just like Beowulf was I thought to myself. It was one of the most precious gifts I’d ever gotten. Jon continued to comfort me until the sobs that had caught me off guard subsided and I was able to find words to express my gratitude.

“This means so much to me, I can’t tell you how much. It’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done. I love you so much. I just don’t know what I would ever do without you!” I babbled as I hugged him again.

My last gift seemed so lame in comparison to what Jon had done. His gifts were not so much lavish as they were sentimental and poignant and I wished I’d been more creative. I didn’t have Richie’s humor and I didn’t have Jon’s poetic soul and I had really struggled with trying to find gifts that I thought he would like that were more personal than stunning. I handed him the two remaining packages, wishing I had done a better job.

Jon opened the jacket from the vintage store and he loved it and fortunately it fit him very well. He laughed at the DVD and wanted to watch it immediately. If I had failed in my own eyes with choosing clever gifts, Jon didn’t seem to notice. He was happy with all his presents and the reaction his gifts had had and he thought it was one of the best Christmas’s he could remember. He was a charitable soul indeed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Sauna Part 197

We settled back in the limo and sighed. It had been a wonderful party after all the schmoozing was finished and I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. Richie had been completely outrageous tonight and I was glad to see him behaving more like his old self.

“You certainly made Richie’s evening tonight, babe. I still can’t believe you ate the cat treats!” I said as I started to giggle again.

“Yeah, well, when I give them to Zeke I’m not gonna tell him that they’re from Uncle Richie” Jon chuckled. “As much as I could kill Richie for making me look like an ass, it really was worth it to see him have that much fun” he admitted.

“Yeah, it was” I agreed as I kissed him.

“So, darlin’, when do we get to exchange our presents?” he cooed, stroking my cheek.

“We can do it tonight or we can open them tomorrow. I’ll leave it up to you” I replied.

His hot breath on my neck made me shudder and the gifts were the last thing on my mind. I slipped my hand inside his shirt and rubbed his chest, anxious to get home and undress him. He placed my hand in his lap and I felt him grow harder by the minute and I unzipped his pants, unwilling to wait another minute.

I bent my head and he groaned loudly as my lips circled the tip of his shaft. He plunged his hands into my hair and kneaded my neck as I sucked methodically, building the rhythm. My tongue danced lightly around his tip as I withdrew my mouth and gazed up at him. His eyes were closed and he had the faintest hint of a smile on his face.

I engulfed his length yet again as my fingernails traced a path lightly up the inside of his thigh. His muscle twitched reflexively and I took him deeper into my throat, feeling his throbbing as he approached his release. He let go with a shudder and his milky seed splashed down my throat and I gulped my appreciation for his gift.

I was aching myself as I felt the limo come to a stop and the engine turned off. I climbed up onto the seat as Jon quickly zipped up his pants as Rick opened the door. I hid my smile as we exited and Rick followed us into the house, depositing the assortment of gifts we’d received.

“Merry Christmas” he said softly as he returned to the limo and closed the front door.

It was late and the cats were crying for their snack as we trudged into the kitchen. I turned on the light and freshened their water as Jon retrieved the gourmet snacks that had been such a source of merriment earlier. He made sure each cat had a treat before tuning wearily to me.

“Baby, I’ll make it up to you in the morning, I promise, but I’m spent tonight” he said apologetically.

“Let’s get to bed” I agreed, knowing I’d receive my reward in the morning if I waited tonight.

Jon left a trail of clothes in his wake as he ambled off to the bed and I followed, not far behind. I slipped off my dress and climbed in beside him and he reached out his arms, cradling me against him. The soft sounds of his snoring lulled me to sleep as I realized I was exhausted too.


Christmas Day brought a blizzard and we were still sound asleep when the snow began getting heavy. By the time we woke up, the world was covered in a thick blanket of white and it had only just begun. The cats were purring contentedly and Eddie and Zeke were nestled between us. Jon reached out and scratched Zeke’s head and Eddie bumped his hand, claiming his share of attention.

“Merry Christmas, baby” Jon said as he rolled over and leaned across the cats to kiss me.

“Merry Christmas” I purred back as I stretched and yawned.

“I’ll make the coffee” he offered as he rolled out of bed and threw on his robe.

Jon walked to the window and pushed open the drapes and sighed as he observed all the snow. He couldn’t remember seeing that much snow this early in the year and he thought how much fun it would be if the kids were here. They were expected to come over this afternoon with Dot and John to open their gifts, but he wondered if it made more sense to wait now as it was still coming down hard.

“It’s definitely going to be a white Christmas” he observed.

I slipped out of bed and joined him as we gazed out upon the silent scene and he pulled me into his arms and kissed me. We stood for a few moments, holding each other as we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the early morning. It was a rare opportunity as the cats usually woke us to insist that we feed them.

We moved to the kitchen and Jon started the coffee while I rummaged around to see what we had in the Frig for breakfast. There wasn’t a lot, but we had eggs and a little bacon and bread. I pulled out the supplies as Opie wandered into the kitchen and cried.

“I was wondering how long it would take” Jon chuckled as he filled up their bowls and we waited for the coffee to brew.

I fried up the bacon and made scrambled eggs and Jon snuck a cookie while I wasn’t looking. I turned around to dish up the food and caught him chewing and he looked at me sheepishly and I laughed. He poured the coffee and we sat down to eat.

After breakfast we decided to open our presents and Jon made a fire in the living room. I turned on the lights on the Christmas tree and sat down on the floor just as the phone rang.

“Hi Trish, it’s Dot. Merry Christmas! How’s the weather out there by you?” she asked tentatively.

“It’s snowing to beat the band! I can’t believe how much has come down already. I bet the kids are chomping at the bit to get out there and play?” I laughed.

“Yeah, actually, they’re already out there with John and they’re working on a snowman now. I’m not sure we’re going to make it this morning as there is a weather advisory and they’re suggesting no unnecessary travel as this isn’t supposed to stop until tonight. Any chance we could do it tomorrow?” she wondered.

“I don’t think we have any plans, but I’ll let you talk to Jon” I replied as I handed the phone to him.

They discussed the situation and made plans for tomorrow, but I could see Jon was disappointed. He wanted to see his kids on Christmas morning and he wished it was him who was out there playing in the snow with them instead of Dot’s boyfriend. But on the bright side, there were worse things than being snowed in with me for the day.

“I guess we’ll postpone seeing the kids until tomorrow due to the weather. It looks like we’ll have the day all to ourselves” he chuckled suggestively.

I raised my eyebrows and grinned as he pulled me down in front of the fire and opened my robe. He covered me with his kisses and my body responded instinctively to his touch. There would be time to open the presents later.

I watched appreciatively as he shed his robe and eased himself back on his arms, licking his lips invitingly. My gaze lingered over his body as the firelight flickered over his skin and his cock twitched in anticipation. I felt the familiar twinge in my belly and I longed to lower myself onto his rigid pole.

“C’mere baby” he drawled in a voice that was thick with desire.

I allowed my robe to fall off as he watched, his eyes fastened upon mine with a lecherous look that curled my toes. I felt myself trembling from the intensity as his eyes drew me to him, like a moth to a flame. His expression was exquisitely lewd as he growled deep in his throat and I lowered myself down, burying his shaft to its hilt in my warmth.

I rode him slowly at first, delaying the pace and extending the pleasure as I recorded the scene in my mind. I would have stopped time at that moment, had I been given the choice, as I savored the sweet sensation of fullness I felt.

“God, how I love you” he said softly.

“Jon” I replied, unable to speak.

I felt his hands on my hips as he guided me, decreasing the tempo only a little as he shifted me onto my back and hovered above me. He held himself back deliberately, prolonging the dance as he entered me again and again. His lips nipped at my shoulder and I felt the rush of release as I shuddered beneath him.

My climax continued without beginning or end as he steadily drove into me, resisting the urge to increase his rhythm. I was caught in the current as the waves washed over me and I moaned his name over and over, consumed with his being inside me. He sought my lips with his own, stilling my cries, as his tongue plunged into my mouth as relentlessly as he penetrated my core.

I dissolved in oblivion, suffused in his essence, as he made love to my soul and fed from my body. His movements grew quicker as he surrendered his will and nature possessed him. He cried out my name as he drowned in the abyss and flooded me with his love.
We lay in the firelight, drained and depleted, but utterly content and drenched in our passion. I held Jon in my arms and he laid his head on my breast as we drifted back to the present.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Sauna Part 196

I had decided to wear the green dress tonight as the color went with the holiday theme and Jon was dressed to the nines as well. We made quite a pair as we walked out of the house and Rick let out a long wolf whistle as he saw us. Jon handed him the huge box with Richie’s guitar and I loaded the bag full of gifts into the trunk.

We arrived at Elements just after ten and we were the last ones to make it to the party. I noticed the look of relief on the face of the promoters as we entered the room and they swarmed around Jon almost immediately. Mixing business and pleasure had become a regular affair and I left Jon to talk business while I joined Eva at the bar.

We chatted and laughed while the guys worked the room and I stole an occasional glance over at Jon. He met my gaze and I lowered my eyes as the memory of our earlier frolic was still fresh in my mind. Eventually everyone made their way back to join us and the evening became more social than serious and I was glad to have Jon’s attention once more.

It was a funny thing about our rougher intimate encounters as they seemed to heighten the closeness between us. We found ourselves grinning and smiling all night, leaving others to wonder what secret we shared. I couldn’t meet his eyes without smirking and even Richie commented on our behavior.

“So what’s up with you two? You’d think it was prom night, you’re both so giddy!” he asked curiously.

“It’s just the holidays. I always get excited at Christmas!” I lied, hoping to disguise the real reason.

“That doesn’t explain Jon’s shit-eating grin, Trish” he snickered as the reason began to dawn on him. “Damn, you just got laid, didn’t you?” he said with a laugh as he raised an eyebrow at us.

Jon’s smile became broader and I could feel my face getting hotter. Richie didn’t miss a trick and he couldn’t resist sharing his observations. Jon slipped an arm around my waist and kissed me softly, acknowledging Richie’s comments.

“Busted!” Richie cackled, delighted with himself.

Eva let out a peal of laughter as Tico leaned closer to me to whisper in my ear.

“He’s right, you know, it shows” he said gently, but he was smiling affectionately.

I turned to look at Jon and he gave up any pretense at that point as he kissed me hotly on my lips. I felt myself flush lower as he pressed me tightly against him and I became aware of his growing erection.

“Okay, let’s get this party moving along” I announced impatiently as I reached for the bag of gifts we had brought.

David was dressed as Santa this year and I handed the bag to him as we all moved toward the Christmas tree away from the bar. David sat down on the floor as we gathered around and he collected the bags and boxes of gifts that everyone had brought. This had become a yearly tradition and the record execs and the other industry moguls left us in peace while we exchanged our gifts.

Jon sat on the couch next to Richie and I sat on his lap while Tico and Eva climbed into one of the overstuffed chairs. Hugh made himself comfortable as David rubbed his hands together with glee before digging into the nearest bag and withdrawing a present.

“Richie!” he grinned as he handed him the first package.

He shook the package and frowned as he still had no clue what it contained. It was small and exquisitely wrapped and the tag was from Eva and Tico. He pulled at the ribbon and tore off the paper before opening the lid and Eva nudged me.

“I hope he likes it” she said excitedly.

Richie beamed as he took out the contents and held the two matching hearts with crosses on chains up to show us. One was for him and the other, smaller one on a choker was for Ava, and they were new pieces in Tico’s Rock Star Baby collection.

“They aren’t yet available to the public. You and Ava were the inspiration, Richie” Tico explained.

“I love it man, what an awesome idea” Richie said as he fastened the larger one around his own neck.

He was touched by the tribute and his eyes were moist as he hugged Eva and Tico and they were pleased that he liked it. Tico was really a softie despite his gruffer appearance and I had come to really appreciate his sensitivity.

David reached into another bag and pulled out a small package and squinted as he tried to read the tag. He couldn’t quite make out the writing and handed it to Eva who was better able to see than the rest of us.

“Hugh! It’s from Richie” Eva announced as she handed it back to pass over to Hugh.

“Wow! This is great Rich, thanks!” Hugh exclaimed as he held up his gift.

It was a first edition copy of Hemingway’s ‘Moby Dick’ that Richie had found in a bookstore in Soho and Hugh couldn’t have been more pleased. He was an avid reader and an antique collector and his hobby was boating, I learned. Our gifts seemed to pale in comparison and I hoped we could do better next year as I got to know the guys a little more.

“Trish, here’s one for you” David smiled as he tossed me a box.

I didn’t actually expect anything for me alone and I was surprised as I unwrapped the paper and opened the box. It was a beautiful hand painted silk scarf from Tico and Eva and I gasped when I held it up to admire.

“Did you paint these?” I asked Tico and he nodded.

“It’s gorgeous, thank you so much! I will cherish this” I said as I hugged them both, still admiring the variety of hand painted cats all along the border of the scarf.

“Welcome to the family” Tico smiled and I felt a tear roll down my cheek.

Next came David’s turn as he ripped off the wrapping and opened a large box. Inside was another smaller box and inside that was still another box and another after that. He shot Richie a sidelong glance as we all began to giggle. He finally managed to get to the last tiny box and opened it and drew out an old pez dispenser in the shape of The Joker and his face lit up with delight.

“I couldn’t resist!” Richie explained.

David was tickled as he collected all things Joker-related and turned it over and examined it. He opened the head and out popped a pez and we all laughed. Leave it to Richie, he thought of everything!

“I didn’t know they even still made this shit! Thanks, bro, I didn’t have one of these” he smiled as he popped the pez in his mouth.

“I don’t even have to read the tag to know who this is for” David laughed as he handed the huge box that Jon had brought in to Richie.

“Now what could this possibly be?” Richie said as he rolled his eyes at Jon who made duck lips.

“Just open the stupid thing, asshole!” Jon grimaced.

Richie tore off the paper and I sighed, thinking I could have re-used it and Jon squeezed my hand. He was the only one who knew about my penchant for saving the paper, but proceeded to tell the tale to the others.

“Sorry, doll! You should have warned me sooner!” Richie mumbled as he pulled out the six-string and fingered it lovingly.

“Aw, man, this is sweet! You always manage to find one I haven’t seen before!” he said appreciatively.

“Yeah, and you have no idea how hard that is when you have several hundred!” Jon nodded.

Richie was still caressing the burnished wood like a lover touches his paramour while David moved on to the next gift. And so it went as we took turns opening our presents and thanking each other. Eva loved her slippers and Tico was smoking a Cuban as he opened the golf club covers and grinned.

“Shit! Lemme guess? Trish?” he chuckled and I grinned back as he hugged me.

“And that’s a golf accessory even you didn’t have!” Eva teased as she pinched Tico’s arm.

Jon groaned as I opened yet another cat related item and added it to the growing collection at my feet. Richie smirked wickedly as David tossed Jon a package from him. He looked absolutely ridiculous wearing the hat with the scarf we had given him along with his suit, but he loved it and wore it the rest of the night.

Jon opened the package carefully and looked as though he was afraid something might jump out and bite him. It wouldn’t have surprised me if it had judging from Richie’s expression. He could barely contain himself as Jon opened the box and realized the contents were harmless. They were cookies, but made in the shape of a cat. He shook his head and smiled as he took a bite. Richie was nearly convulsing with laughter now as Jon made a face and started to gag.

“Jesus Jon, they’re gourmet cat treats for Zeke!” Richie howled and I thought Jon was going to throttle him.

“Here, man, have a drink!” Richie tried to appease him as he handed him a glass of wine and Jon spat a mouthful into a wad of wrapping paper.

I was laughing so hard now that the tears were streaming down my face and I wasn’t alone. This was even better than Richie had hoped as he figured Jon would have read the little card inside first before actually eating one. Jon gulped down the wine and went after Richie who ran off, howling hysterically as he clutched the last gift left to open.

When they finally returned and sat down Richie added insult to injury as he reminded me that I’d been with him when he bought them. I remembered now how tickled he’d been in the gourmet shop when he steered me away from seeing what he had found.

“You knew? And you let me eat that?” Jon demanded, his eyes wide with shock.

“Honestly, Jon, I didn’t know what they were” I protested and Richie spoke up in my defense.

“I wouldn’t let her see what I bought” he explained. “So, bro, how were they? D’ya think my Zekey boy will like ’em?” he asked and we all roared with laughter again while Jon scowled.

“Go ahead, asshole, open your last present” Jon goaded him.

Richie looked at the present he was holding and examined the tag.

“From Zeke?” he asked curiously as he tore off the wrapping.

Now it was Jon’s turn to smirk as Richie pulled out the framed picture of him with Zeke in his lap. I had to laugh as I knew what it was and Richie held it up for everyone to see before grinning at Jon.

“Aaawww, my Zekey boy misses me!” Richie purred smoothly without missing a beat. “Trish, make sure Jon doesn’t eat all his treats” he winked.

Jon’s attempt to make Richie jealous with Zeke’s new found affection fell flat completely as Richie managed to turn it around by teasing Jon instead. I felt like a traitor, but I couldn’t help myself when Richie was on such a roll. Jon finally gave in, setting aside his bruised ego, and laughed at himself along with the rest of us.

The Sauna Part 195

We had been driving for fifteen minutes before Jon finally spoke. I had put my hand on his knee and he covered it with his own, but he had remained quiet and I didn’t push him. He needed time to collect his thoughts and get control of his emotions before he was ready to talk.

“Trish, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked you to come. I had hoped it would have gone better than this, but I half-expected what happened. I guess I just wanted you there for moral support” he said finally.

“Jon, it’s okay, really. I admit I was dreading it too, and I was tempted to beg off when you gave me an out, but I’m here because I wanted to be. You’re my husband and we’re in this together, good or bad. I want to be there for you no matter what” I answered.

“Thanks baby. I am glad. It does make it easier; not easy, mind you, but easier” he said with a mirthless laugh.

He squeezed my hand and I returned the pressure and slid over closer to him on the seat. He slid his arm around me and held me as we drove to the city. It was only one-thirty and we had plenty of time.

The “Big Apple” was an exciting place to be during the holidays and the window dressings were really spectacular. Everywhere we went had elaborate holiday themed-windows and I felt like a little kid as I reminisced about going downtown to Buffalo with my mom to look at the store windows. It was one thing about my mom that I remembered fondly.

Jon and I walked along the street and people actually smiled as they dashed from store to store and I felt my mood begin to brighten. We stopped at a street vendor and bought roasted chestnuts and we even took a short carriage ride. I could perhaps learn to like NYC after all. Jon began to unwind too as we took in the sights and he pointed out various landmarks while we munched on the chestnuts. He had a mission, however, and signaled the driver to stop when we approached a store where he wanted to browse.

“Babe, I need to go in here and look for something, but I want it to be a surprise. Do you think you could find something to look at in one of the other places for a bit and I’ll meet you in about an hour?” he asked.

“I do need to find something for Richie and I have a couple of ideas, but don’t worry about a gift for me, love. The house in Colorado was plenty!” I said seriously.

“There’s something special I have in mind, but I just haven’t had time to find it, so scoot!” he grinned as he kissed me goodbye.

I had seen a vintage clothing store that looked rather interesting and I hoped I could find something for Richie there and I wouldn’t have minded getting a few more things for Jon if I saw something he’d like. I meandered about until I spied something that had Richie written all over it.

“That one there! Could I see that?” I asked, feeling thrilled that I found the perfect thing.

“This one?” the saleslady pointed and I shook my head vigorously.

“It’s awfully big” she cautioned.

She handed me an old crushed velvet hat in a gorgeous wine color and I fingered the floppy brim, hoping it would fit Richie’s fat head! I tried it on myself for size and I drowned in it as it covered my eyes and hung on my head.

“It’s perfect!” I cried jubilantly as the saleslady made a face.

“It’s for a friend” I explained. “I’ll need a scarf to go with it if you have anything that might work?” I added.

She showed me over to a section of vintage scarves and I pawed through the bin and found one I liked. I tied it around the hat and grinned. Richie would love it! I handed her my selections and then hunted through the racks of men’s clothing for Jon. I was about to despair when I saw it.

There at the back was a well-worn military jacket in navy blue with grey trim. I had no idea how old it might have been, but I knew he would like it and it looked like it might fit even if we had to have it altered slightly. The woman who waited on me said she believed it was from the civil war, although I doubted very much that it was genuine. It could have been a reenactment costume piece and I assumed her tale was intended to justify the outrageous price tag. But I didn’t care. I knew Jon would love it and I handed it to her to wrap along with the hat and the scarf.

I checked my watch and I still had some time to browse before I met Jon in front of Saks. I found an old quill pen that had been discounted for a quick sale and snatched it, wishing they had an old ink well to match. I didn’t really think that Jon would use it, but I thought it would look elegant along with his leather journal.

“Can I help you find anything else?” the saleswoman asked solicitously.

“Not unless you happen to have a copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on DVD” I laughed.

“No, I’m afraid not. But I’ll bet the drugstore across the street does. It’s pretty popular and they have a bunch of videos” she suggested.

I raced across the street with my packages and hurriedly asked the clerk where the videos were. He pointed me towards a rack near the cameras and I began hunting frantically through the assortment. He asked if he could help me find something in particular and I lowered my eyes as I told him the name.

“We did have that, but it may be gone” he said. “Let me check in the back.”

He returned moments later and produced a brand new copy of the movie and handed it to me with a smile.

“It’s the last one. Someone had it set aside, but too bad. You got here first” he grinned and I thanked him.

I paid for the video and dashed out the door to meet Jon. He was standing in front of Saks with a bag and checking his watch as I ran up beside him, panting.

“Where were you? Are we all set?” We should grab some dinner and head home before it gets any later” he said.

“Wait until you see what I got for Richie! I had the saleswoman wrap it, but it’s perfect and I think he’ll love it!” I beamed.

I described the hat I had found as we walked back to the car and Jon agreed that it was right up Richie’s alley. He had ordered a special guitar that was handcrafted and somewhat different than the hundreds Richie already had and he was perturbed that it hadn’t arrived yet and was hoping it came today.

We stopped at Barnacle Bob’s and wolfed down some burgers and fries and Jon was relieved when we found a package waiting when we got home. He didn’t bother to open it as it was obviously the guitar he’d been expecting and we did our best to wrap it, but the box was large and we had to piece together the paper to cover it.

“Don’t worry, babe. Richie will know what it is anyway as he’s gotten a guitar from me almost every year! I guess I’m not very imaginative, but I know what he likes” Jon assured me.

I stripped off my clothes and hopped in the shower with Jon, intending to make it a quick one, but he had other ideas. I found myself trapped between him and the wall, but I didn’t try very hard to escape. Jon nipped at my shoulder as the water cascaded down his back in a steady stream. He straddled me with his arms as he nudged my thighs apart with his knee.

“I don’t care if we’re late” he muttered in response to my protests.

I raised my leg to wrap around his hip and I grew wetter as the tip of his swollen cock prodded my willing flesh. His hands caught in my hair and he tilted my head back as I offered him my throat. His head dipped down to lick at the hollow there as he held his shaft in his hand, gliding it over my slickness. I didn’t care if we were late anymore either.

“Do you want me to take you now or later?” he smirked.

“Fuck me now” I hissed as his words sent a surge of desire straight through to my core.

His chuckle was deliciously dirty as he slipped into my throbbing pussy and I clenched my muscles, drawing him deeper. Too much time had passed since he’d taken me in the shower and I found myself missing the raw need I saw in his eyes and I heard in his voice now. Our lovemaking had been sweet and tender lately, but I was longing to be ravaged and violated and he didn’t disappoint me.

With one swift movement, his hands flew to my ass as he withdrew and lifted me up only to impale me again with all his strength. The muscles in his arms glistened under the water and I saw the cords stand out on his neck as he rammed into me again and again. My back hit the wall, but I was only conscious of feeling him moving inside me. I bit my lip as I screamed out his name and my contractions seized his rod like a vice.

“That’s it, baby, come for me” he said in a strained voice as he struggled to hold off his own climax until he felt me begin to go slack in his arms.

I felt his seed empty inside me and I clung to him tighter as he rocked us through the waves of release, his hips grinding in rhythm with mine. I ran my nails down his back and he shuddered as my legs dropped back to the floor and he held me against him. My breath came in gasps as we staggered back under the water and kissed.

“Damn that was good. I love when you’re bad” I gulped as he pulled back to look at me.

“I missed that side of you too” he grinned wolfishly and we both giggled as we hastily finished bathing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sauna Part 194

It was only eleven when we drove the short distance to the house that Jon’s parents owned in New Jersey. His mom had invited us over for brunch and we would head to the city to shop afterwards. It gave us a reason to leave early, but I could still feel my stomach tightening at the thought of a “visit”. We pulled in the driveway at eleven-thirty and Jon parked the car.

“Okay, we’re here” he announced.

“Okay, I’m ready” I lied, stealing myself to be on my best behavior as I grabbed the bag with our gifts.

Jon opened the door to the house and I followed him inside. It was a large home, but not quite as grand as the one he had shared with Dot, but it was definitely bigger than the place we had now in Asbury Park. I was a bit stunned when I saw that the wall alongside the staircase that led up to the bedrooms was covered with photos of Jon. There were pictures of his brothers too, but not nearly as many and there were pictures of Carol and John, but again, the photos of Carol outnumbered those of his dad.

“Hey, we’re here!” Jon called as he proceeded to head towards the kitchen.

Carol was checking on something in the oven and John stood up to greet us. His smile appeared genuine and he hugged each of us in turn and motioned for us to join him at the kitchen table. Jon grabbed a couple mugs and poured coffee for both of us before sitting down.

“Can I give you a hand with anything, Carol?” I offered, trying to be polite.

“No, I can manage myself” she replied. “The quiche should be done in about fifteen minutes.”

“So, did you two bring pictures of the new house in Colorado?” his dad asked.

“Yes, actually. I have them right here” I said as I dug in my purse.

“Whoohoo! That’s quite a place!” he hooted as he leafed through the pictures.

“Let me see too” Carol asked as she joined us.

“How did you find this place?” John inquired.

“Richie found it on the internet when we were looking for a place for vacation. Trish had been to Colorado before and just loved it there, so I wanted to surprise her” Jon explained.

“Oh, so that’s why” Carol said sourly. “Now tell us what really happened between Richie and Elaine. Is it true what I’ve heard?” she rasped in a conspiratorial tone.

“It’s a long story, mom, but suffice it to say that Elaine wasn’t quite what she appeared to be and Richie realizes he made a mistake” Jon summarized.

“What do you mean? She was such a lovely young woman. What could have possibly torn them apart?” she persisted.

“Carol, leave it be. Maybe Jon doesn’t want to discuss it” his dad interjected.

He was a perceptive man I thought to myself as I noticed the look that passed between Jon and his father. But Carol wasn’t satisfied without hearing all the juicy details and I wondered if she just wanted to impress her friends with the inside scoop. I felt sorry for Jon as he began to look uncomfortable and he clearly didn’t want to divulge the seamier details, but his mom was persuasive and knew how to provoke him into sharing more than he wanted.

“I was thinking of calling Richie myself as I’m sure it must be a misunderstanding. Can’t you convince him to try and work it out?” she needled.

“No mom and don’t you dare call him and suggest that! He’s been through enough and so have we all!” Jon retorted.

“What do you mean? What does this have to do with you?” Carol pressed him.

“If you must know, Elaine made a pass at me and I told Richie about it. Okay, are you satisfied now?” Jon revealed, sounding exasperated.

“Well, dear, who can blame her for that? After all, you aren’t even married and I’m sure she settled for Richie after you turned her down” she said with such relish I wanted to slap her.

“Actually, we were married Carol, and this happened just last week on the eve of the civil ceremony we’d planned just to make it legal. And Elaine was already married to Richie when she tried to seduce my husband” I corrected her. “And Richie doesn’t deserve to be anyone’s consolation prize” I added, unable to refrain any longer.

“What? Jesus, she did this just recently?” John asked in outrage. “That’s horrible! Poor Richie, he must be broken up over this. And you too, Trish, she was your friend” his dad commented as he began to realize the repercussions.

“What civil ceremony? What are you talking about? Are you trying to say that you and my son are married legally now?” Carol demanded, looking from me to Jon and back to me.

“Yes mom. We had wanted to tell you about that too, but you didn’t give us a chance. Trish and I had the mayor perform a brief ceremony to make our marriage legal on Saturday. It was just a formality, really, but I wanted to make sure that Trish would be taken care of if anything ever happened to me” Jon explained with annoyance.

This wasn’t going well at all, Jon thought to himself. Dammit! Why does she always have to be like that? I wanted her to know we were married, but this isn’t how I planned to share the news. She really knows how to push every button. Fuck! At least it’s out in the open now.

I looked at Jon apologetically and I was sorry I’d said as much as I did. We had agreed that we would tell his parents about the marriage as the kids were bound to bring it up and we weren’t expecting them to keep it a secret from the family. But this certainly wasn’t how we had planned to share the news and I could see that it only made Carol angrier now that we were legally married.

“Well, good for you, Jonny. And Trish, I know that you and my son were already married in your eyes, and while I can respect that, I’m still glad that you made it legal. It was the right thing to do, Jonny” his father nodded approvingly.

At least one of Jon’s parents was happy about the news. Carol certainly wasn’t and she looked at me so angrily that I felt a chill run up my spine. I didn’t want to make an enemy of her, but it seemed beyond my control. She didn’t like me and she wasn’t going to either and that was that. I braced myself for the next attack as I watched her silently seething.

“Are you telling me that you got married here in New Jersey this past weekend and you didn’t even invite us?” Carol asked incredulously.

“Yeah, mom. It was just a small ceremony and it was very private. Only a few people knew and even Trish’s folks weren’t invited. We didn’t want the press to show up, so we kept it a secret and we’re not sharing any dates or details with the media other than acknowledging that we are married which we’d been saying all along. It’s none of their business when or where” he said firmly.

“I’m sure your parents were thrilled, weren’t they?” Carol spat at me.

“Carol, stop it. That’s enough. The kids did this the way they felt was best and it was their decision to make, now drop it” his father intervened.

Carol sniffled and pouted, but she didn’t say any more. She got up and poured a shot of whisky into her coffee and took the quiche out of the oven, slamming the door as she did so. She slapped it down on the table along with the plates and silverware and sat down.

“Well, go ahead and eat. I’ve lost my appetite” she declared petulantly.

I saw Jon’s father roll his eyes, but he passed out the plates and cut into the quiche and began serving it up. He must have grown accustomed to eating despite the tension and I wondered how many dinners Jon had endured like this as a child. I managed to get down a piece of the quiche as we all proceeded to eat in silence.

After we’d finished, Jon explained that we needed to run errands in the city and he handed his mom the bag of gifts as he kissed her on the cheek. She stood still as a stone and he set the bag on the floor beside her and his dad hugged us both as he thanked us. There were no gifts from his parents and I thought that was odd, but I bit my lip as we drove toward the city.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Sauna Part 193

I woke to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and I could hear Katie bustling around about the house. Although it was Christmas Eve, she had decided to come in for a short time today as she was taking some time off until after New Year’s. I was glad for the company as Jon was still fast asleep. I put on my robe and slippers as I went to join her in the kitchen, enticed by the smell of the coffee.

“Merry Christmas, Katie! I’m sorry about the mess in the living room, but I’ll get it cleaned up as soon as I finish the last couple presents” I said apologetically as I filled up the food bowls for the cats.

“It’s no problem, Missus Jovi. I can leave that room until last” she smiled.

“You make good coffee” I said appreciatively as I sipped the first cup. “But please call me Trish” I smiled.

“Okay Missus, errr, Trish? Is Mister Jovi awake or should I wait to clean up the bathroom and make the bed?” she asked.

“He’s still pounding his ear, but don’t worry if you need to leave before he gets up. It’s Christmas Eve and we’ll manage. Are you going away for the holidays?” I asked, curious to know her a little.

“Me and the Mister, we’re going on a cruise. It was a present from all of our kids” she chirped proudly.

“Where are you going? Somewhere warm, I hope?” I grinned.

“Yes, ma’am. We’re going to the Caribbean and I’ve never been there before. I’m so excited!” she answered.

“Me either. I hope you’ll show me some pictures when you get back” I said as I stood up, ready to tackle the last of the gifts.

“Do you want some help wrapping, Missus, uhm, Trish?” she offered.

“Sure! I’ll never turn down an offer to help wrap presents” I laughed and we plodded out to the living room.

I blushed when I realized my shirt and Jon’s jeans were still strewn on the floor and I hurriedly grabbed them and hid them under the tree. Katie sat down on the floor and we were chatting amiably when Jon wandered in on his way to the kitchen.

“Oh sure, now you’re up after we’ve just about finished” I kidded him as he yawned and stretched.

“I’ve learned through the years that timing is everything” he grinned sheepishly as I finished tying the last bow. “Merry Christmas, Katie”

“Do you want some coffee, Mister Jovi?” Katie offered but Jon shook his head.

“I can get it. Go ahead and finish what you two were doing” Jon replied as he headed for the coffee.

We finished the last box and Katie began handing me the packages to put under the tree. When we were done she disappeared into the bedroom to finish her cleaning now that Jon was up. I joined him in the kitchen and began making a plate of cookies to give to Katie as a thank you when he reached around from behind me and grabbed a cookie off the plate.

“Stop that!” I rebuked him, slapping his hand away before he managed to grab another one. These are for Katie!”

“Are you going to give away all my cookies?” he pouted.

“No, this is the last plate, I promise. You can have all the rest” I relented, munching on one now myself.

“I’ll share them with you” he purred, holding one up as I took a bite.

We sat down at the table and refilled our mugs as we snacked on the cookies and Jon glanced at the paper which Katie had brought in. I looked through the entertainment section and spotted a photo from last night’s gig and read Jon the total that had been raised for charity.

“Not a bad haul” he smiled proudly and patted his lap.

I came over and sat down and I hugged him. I was proud of Jon in so many ways, but his generosity really impressed me. He genuinely took pleasure in his ability to support worthy causes and I was anxious to become more involved once the holidays had passed and I could concentrate on establishing the foundation.

“Jon?” I prompted as he was engaged in nuzzling my neck as he read the sports section over my shoulder.

“Yeah, babe?” he acknowledged as he set down the paper.

“I’ve been thinking. I’d like to start the foundation after you leave for Europe. I’d also like to use some of the money for funding a trauma counseling center. How would you feel about that?” I asked tentatively.

“Whatever you want to do, Trish, as long as Habitat gets a piece of the pie. You’ll be getting a lot of requests and I trust your judgment to determine what causes to support as I know whatever you decide will be money well spent” he assured me.

“Thank you, Jon. That means a lot to me and I really do want to continue to support trauma work along with all the charities I know that you have supported. You’ll need to give me a list as I’m not that familiar with all the local ones” I reminded him.

“I’ll call my accountant after Christmas and ask him to make you a list and give you an accounting of what’s gone where and I’ll make sure he knows he’s at your disposal” he said confidently. “Now what would you like to do today until it’s time for the party? I thought maybe we could go into the city and do a little more shopping as there’s still something I’d like to get. I was also hoping to stop and visit my folks and give them their gifts, if you wouldn’t mind?”

“Would I mind shopping?” I asked, using humor to evade the real question, but Jon wasn’t buying it.

“No, Trish, I meant seeing my folks. They won’t be at the party, it’s just the band and folks from the industry, but I can go see my parents by myself if you’d rather not go?” he clarified.

It was the last thing on earth I wanted to do today, but it felt like a test and I knew it would be rude if I didn’t go. What excuse could he make for my absence? I was certain his mother wouldn’t be disappointed if I wasn’t there however. Regardless, I wasn’t going to hand her an opportunity to criticize me as I was sure she’d find plenty of reasons without my assistance.

“I didn’t realize they wouldn’t be at the party tonight, so let’s go today” I agreed.

“Thanks, darlin’. I know you’re not looking forward to seeing my mom, but I really do want you to come with me” he admitted.

Katie had finished in the bedroom and we needed to take a shower and get ready. I left the cookies with a note on top of her purse in case she was gone by the time we had finished and Jon called his parents to make sure they’d be home. We jumped in the shower and took a leisurely one as there was plenty of time still. Jon’s nose looked almost normal and I hoped his parents hadn’t heard about the fight. We’d been blessed so far with very little attention on that as the press had focused more on what happened between Richie and Elaine.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Sauna Part 192

The ride home was uneventful, but we had both begun to relax and weariness began to creep in. I rested my head against Jon’s chest and he stroked my hair as he laid his head back against the seat.

“That went better than I expected” he said finally.

“Yeah, you really sidetracked them with that comment about the cookies” I agreed.

“Heh, you were pretty shrewd yourself, darlin’. I was only trying to guarantee that I would get you in the kitchen tomorrow, but you’re getting pretty good at handling the press yourself” he said appreciatively as he kissed the top of my head.

“I learned from watching the master” I yawned.

“Tim Horton’s?” he asked indulgently.

“No, baby, just bed tonight” I replied sleepily.

We arrived home at just around midnight and the tree was still standing. The cats were hungry however and I fed them a snack so they wouldn’t plague us in the morning. Jon took a quick shower while I crawled into bed. It felt so good to relax and stretch out and I took advantage of the situation while the cats were occupied eating. I was sound asleep when Jon came out of the shower and joined me. He lay down beside me and held me close and soon he was snoring contentedly.


When we woke the next morning the ground was covered with snow and I gazed out the window in wonder. Norman Rockwell would have been proud I thought to myself as I watched Jon building the fire in the living room and I hummed along to the carols that were playing on the radio.

“Okay, now can we make the cookies?” Jon asked imploringly.

“Oh, alright!” I conceded and we headed into the kitchen.

He was eager to help and I had to admit it was rather fun when we did it together. Baking had never been my strong suit, but I’d mastered the art of making Christmas cookies and I was glad I’d stocked the kitchen pretty well at this point. I gave Jon the grueling chore of mixing the dough while I checked our supplies for the ingredients I needed for a couple varieties. I realized I had most of the basics but I was missing a few things and I made out a list.

“You might as well pick up another bottle of whiskey for your mom at the liquor store as I need some rum for the rum balls and I don’t see any in here” I suggested as I pawed through the liquor cabinet.

“Any special kind?” he inquired.

“No, whatever is on sale will do and pick up some eggnog while you’re at the store” I remembered as I added it to the list.

Jon kissed me goodbye and went to pick up the groceries at the nearest store after we rolled out the dough and cut out the cookies. I took a break from the baking and wrapped up Jon’s presents while he was gone, wishing I had a few more packages for him. It didn’t seem like much, but it wasn’t easy to buy for a multimillionaire.

I returned to the kitchen and got the next batch of cookies in the oven while the first batch was cooling and I made up the frosting while I waited. He was back in no time and I let him frost the batch that had cooled and he was like a little kid as he ate half of what he had finished. And so it went as we made batch after batch and Jon sampled them all. At least we didn’t have to stop for lunch as he was beginning to get rather full.

“Baby, you’ll never eat dinner if you keep up at that pace” I warned him.

“Yeah, I know, but they’re so good” he mumbled as he chomped down another.

We made cut-outs and rum balls, molasses cookies and Mexican wedding rings and my favorite, jam thumbprints. I put Jon in charge of the haystacks as they were the easiest and there was no baking involved. The penuche took the longest, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without it and there was nothing quite like my grandmother’s brown sugar fudge. We even stuffed dates with peanut butter and Jon was surprised that something so healthy could actually taste that decadent. The Hello Dolly bars were the last and we worked on them together.

“Let’s make up a tin for Richie” I suggested and Jon didn’t argue as we had more than enough despite all that he’d eaten already.

It was getting late now and I was beginning to get hungry myself and I started to think about dinner. I really had had enough of cooking myself and I wasn’t in the mood for pizza, so we ordered Chinese and had it delivered. I was anxious to start wrapping the packages.

We cleaned up the kitchen and dinner arrived and Jon ate very little, but he still managed to make room for the fudge for dessert. It was a good thing that Christmas only came once a year I teased him and he nodded, patting his belly.

I spiked us some eggnog and Jon built up the fire as we settled down to wrap the gifts. Eddie really wanted to help and he sprawled on the paper, making it difficult to cut around him. I crumpled a piece up and threw it and that kept him entertained while we worked. Zeke crawled into Jon’s lap and I motioned for him to sit still while I grabbed the camera. I managed to snap a picture of the two of them with Jon smirking arrogantly.

“Please, baby, you gotta print that and let me frame it and give it to Richie for Christmas!” he cackled and I had to admit it was a great idea.

Jon grabbed the camera and took pictures of me amid all the carnage and I snapped another one of him with a bow stuck on his nose. We were feeling pretty silly after a few glasses of eggnog, but it was good just to let go and play. Eventually we ended up in a tickling match and Jon won hands down as he had me pinned on my back. I pleaded no contest when he rubbed his chin along my throat, making me mew as his whiskers tickled the tender skin.

His eyes darkened at the sound of my whimpering and soon we were making love on the living room floor. It was no longer a Norman Rockwell scene as my fingers dug into the carpet and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He plunged deep inside me with one quick thrust and rocked me gently as I started to come. His lips were soft and tender as he silenced me with his kisses and we scattered the remaining packages across the floor as he rolled onto his back.

I quickly repositioned myself and straddled his hips as he pulled my turtle neck over my head. He reached for my breasts and fingered my nipples as I threw back my head and rode him. His skin glowed in the warm firelight and I dragged my nails down his chest, lightly flicking his nipples buried amid the fur. He growled low in his throat and I reached down behind me and trailed my fingers along the inside of his thighs.

Jon closed his eyes and surrendered as I gripped him tighter inside me and my climax took over, milking him rhythmically towards his own release. I slowed down to a leisurely pace and his lips curled into a smile as he ground his hips against me, emptying the last of his seed into my throbbing cavern.

“C’mere” he whispered hoarsely as he drew me down to lay on top of him.

He rolled onto his side and held me still as his erection subsided and slipped from my grasp. He cradled my head on his shoulder and I ran my fingers through the downy soft fur on his chest and he shuddered as I brushed over his nipples. My hand strayed down to his sensitive member and stroked it lovingly, but ever so lightly. Jon made a small little sound and started to giggle and I kept my touch even lighter as I listened to the ragged sound of his breathing.

“Oh baby, that was so good” he exhaled and I kissed his cheek.

“I suppose we’re done wrapping presents for tonight?” I chuckled.

His tongue lolled from his mouth and I laughed at the goofy expression. We had almost finished with all the gifts and the rest could wait till tomorrow I decided and I rubbed his belly affectionately.

“C’mon superman, let’s hit the sheets before we fall asleep and Katie catches us here in the morning” I coaxed.

Jon groaned and sat up and removed his jeans which were still tangled about his ankles. I stood up and gave him my hand and we hobbled off to the bedroom with two sleepy cats trailing behind us. It was still snowing as we drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Sauna Part 191

Despite all the adversity, the show did go on and it went surprisingly well. Eva and I joined in a bit later and we watched from the side of the stage. I couldn’t help but glance over at Richie and I was amazed at how well he played. I wondered if anyone in the audience noticed the decidedly bluesy feel to the music, but I marveled at how playing the songs seemed to help Richie heal. He sang the most gut-wrenching version of ‘I’ll Be There for You’ I had ever heard and I prayed silently that his heart would eventually mend.

Jon caught my eyes on several occasions and I smiled encouragingly. I really was proud of him and I knew that the casual observer would never have guessed what he kept holding in check. He spotted Ellie and Pete in the front row and waived and I followed his gesture and smiled. He really did run a tight ship and he’d somehow remembered to make sure they had tickets waiting when they’d arrived.

The show was finally over and they played ‘Run, Run Rudolph’ for the final song and the crowd went nuts. The entire audience was singing along and I found myself joining in too as Eva and I sang from the sidelines. Jon gave the audience a crooked grin as he wished them all anything but a “silent night” and a very happy holiday and the band exited the stage. He caught me up in a sweaty embrace and I kissed him, feeling glad again that he was who he was. He really was a star.

Richie looked calmer and his features had softened. It seemed that the crowd’s adulation and the comfort of his guitar had been just the balm that he needed. After nearly twenty-five years of playing together, Jon did know what Richie needed and I wouldn’t doubt him again. We retired to the back of the stage and Jon grabbed a handful of cookies as he stripped off his shirt.

“Okay, it’s almost over, baby. Just one more performance and we can go home” he said soothingly.

“Jon, I’m okay. Really, I am. And you were right. Richie looks a lot better” I admitted.

“It’s all about the music, Trish. It always has been. Richie knows that” he said soberly.

The guys huddled together and discussed their approach with the media. They would try and keep as much of the spotlight as possible away from Richie, but he would need to say something and they all agreed it was best to be honest and get it over with. Armed with the brotherhood, Richie was ready to face the press.

Rick opened the door and the paparazzi spilled into the room like a flood. The flashbulbs were blinding and Jon kept his sunglasses on and they helped to disguise what the make-up I’d reapplied couldn’t hide. It was one of the first times I had seen a press conference where Jon wasn’t the focus, but he stepped up to the plate anyway.

“We would just like to thank the East Rutherford Salvation Army and the Red Bank Fire Department for offering to help distribute all the toys we collected tonight for the needy children and we’d like to thank all our fans for their generous donations” he began.

“Jon, over here!” shouted a man from the back.

“Yeah, Ralph! Merry Christmas!” Jon called back, recognizing the journalist.

“How much money do you think was raised tonight?” he asked and Jon beamed, glad for the opportunity to promote the charities that were benefiting from tonight’s ticket sales.

“Richie! What are your plans for the holidays now? We hear that you and your wife are separated” someone yelled from the crowd.

“Yes, we are. I’ll be heading back to California to spend Christmas Day with my daughter who I’m anxious to see” Richie said with a smile as he thought about Ava.

“What happened? We hear that you and Jon had a falling out over your wife” another question flew at him.

“We had a difference of opinion, that’s all, but once the facts came to light we resolved it. Next question” Jon cut in.

“Hey Richie! Are you and your wife going to try and work out your differences? Is it true that you’re separated?” someone else wanted to know.

“Unfortunately our differences are rather substantial. I think it is best that we admit that we made a mistake and move on” Richie replied curtly.

“Does that mean that it’s over between you?” a woman called out from the assembled crowd.

“What happens now is private between the parties involved. Please try and respect that everyone has families to consider” Jon interjected.

“Is everything okay between you and your wife?” a pushy little bald-headed man wanted to know as he thrust a microphone in Jon’s face.

Jon grabbed me and pulled me alongside of him as the flashbulbs went off and I cursed myself again for forgetting my shades. He kissed me and then flashed his most engaging smile to the crowd.

“Trish is baking me cookies tomorrow. What do you think?” he threw back as he squeezed my waist.

“But you’re helping me, mister!” I teased back and even the abrasive little man had to smile.

“Hey, we wanna help too!” David chimed in and then Tico got in the act.

“Me too! This I gotta see!” Tico added, raising his eyebrows.

“No way, man! My job’s gonna be to eat ’em all!” Jon winked at me.

“Selfish bastard!” Richie joined in and Jon held up his hand to signal that we were done.

“Have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year! We’ll be back in 2007!” Jon announced and with that we were all done.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the worst was now over and we had all survived with our reputations intact and without having to share anymore information. The crew would be hanging around to party with a few fans that had made their way backstage, but our role was over. We hugged Tico and Eva, and David and Hugh as Richie ambled over towards us. He and Jon embraced too and Richie’s smile appeared genuine as he hugged me.

“Thanks, Trish, for helping distract them. But you are gonna save me some cookies, aren’t you?” he asked playfully and his eyes crinkled with warmth this time.

“You have my word!” I grinned and we all headed out toward the waiting limos.

Jon and I collapsed in the back seat and we both reached for the wine. He poured me a glass and smiled as Rick’s voice came over the speaker.

“Home, boss?”

“As fast as you can get us there” Jon answered.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sauna Part 190

We had no time to eat as the limo was waiting and we threw on our clothes. Jon grabbed a Santa hat and we ran out the door where we found Rick waiting for us. He was holding a gift and I immediately felt awful that we’d completely forgotten to get him a present.

“Merry Christmas, boss” he grinned as he handed Jon the package.

“Crap! I forgot something” I said as an excuse and ran back in the house.

I looked at our stash of presents and grabbed the aged whiskey I’d gotten for Jon’s mom and I fetched the cookies I’d gotten for Jon. What the hell, we’d make cookies tomorrow anyway! I snatched a couple of bows and a gift tag and hurriedly stuffed them in a gift bag and dashed out the door.

“We were in such a rush! I almost forgot!” I cried breathlessly as I handed the bag to Rick with a kiss and we got in the limo.

“Nice save there, wife. I always give everyone a Christmas bonus in their paycheck, but I’m glad you bought something anyway” Jon smiled approvingly.

“Actually I didn’t and I feel horrible. Rick is so special, I can’t believe I forgot” I lamented.

“What did you manage to find then?” he asked searchingly.

“I gave him the bottle of whiskey I bought for your mom and the cookies I’d bought for you” I admitted sheepishly.

“You bought me cookies and gave them to Rick?” he pouted.

“From the cats, love! I’ll make you some more tomorrow” I kissed his nose which looked surprisingly improved.

“Promise?” he pleaded in a little boy voice.

“I promise” I grinned.

Jon settled back in his seat and handed me the present from Rick. I unwrapped it carefully and folded the wrapping paper as Jon eyed me with amusement.

“You really weren’t kidding, were you?” he teased.

“No! It’s beautiful paper!” I said in my own defense.

I opened the box and pulled the tissue paper aside, being careful to lift out the contents. Inside the box was an ornament in the shape of a cat wearing a Santa hat. The tag read “Merry Christmas to Jon and Trish” and there was a small can of cat treats hidden inside as well. I turned on the intercom and called Rick.

“Thank you so much! We love it and it’s our very first kitty ornament too!” I said excitedly.

“You’re welcome! And the cookies are great!” Rick mumbled, his mouth full of cookies and Jon glared at me as his stomach growled in sympathy.

I poked him in the ribs and he muttered back to Rick.

“Glad you like ’em, man! Thanks for adding another cat to the family!”

We reached the venue at seven and it was quite a mob scene. The Christmas show was a fan favorite and had sold out almost instantly and the media was there in full force as they expected a statement about all the rumors that were flying around. Rick drove around to the back and Richie had just arrived as well and he bounded over towards us. He and Jon exchanged a hug for the cameras before we were hustled inside.

“Hey man, the nose looks pretty good! I can barely tell” Richie exclaimed, looking surprised.

“Yeah, the steroids brought down the swelling and Trish managed to cover most of the bruising with make-up” Jon nodded. “Where’s the food, man? I’m starving!”

A security guard led us backstage to the dressing room and there was quite a spread laid out on a couple of trestle tables. Jon loaded his plate and I followed suit as I was hungry now too. I was glad to see that someone had had the foresight to include Christmas cookies along with the regular staples. Tico was already there and I was glad to see Eva had come for the show tonight too.

Jon and the guys began reviewing the details and checking the set list for the night and Eva and I helped ourselves to some of the goodies that were available and she poured me a glass of wine. The excitement was palpable, even backstage, and the crew seemed to be full of the holiday spirit. Someone had even strung up Christmas lights and there were seasonal garlands scattered about. Even Hugh was sporting a Christmas hat!

There was a commotion outside and Eva and I both turned to see what had caused it. Rick swept past me in a heartbeat and the conversation died as Elaine burst into the room. Apparently all the crew had not been informed of the situation and Jon was livid. Richie looked like a deer caught in the headlights and I heard Tico hiss under his breath.

“What the fuck?” he said, as he stepped between me and Elaine who was sobbing and pleading for Richie to take her back as Rick held her securely away from him.

I looked over at Richie and he shook his head towards Rick and turned away from her. Elaine began ranting and became hysterical, but Rick had a firm hold on her and dragged her out the door. I had never seen Richie’s eyes look so cold and Jon’s glittered with wrath. Whoever had let her in was going to pay dearly.

The entire scene was over almost before it began, but it still left us all in a dour mood. I didn’t think Elaine would just go away quietly, but I never expected that she’d have managed to get through Jon’s security and show up at the venue. This would create a feeding frenzy for the paparazzi who were always eager for a scandal, especially one involving Bon Jovi.

I immediately moved towards Jon and Richie and I was torn between who needed attention first. Jon was seething and barking out orders, but it was Richie who worried me more. He was entirely too calm and seemed completely unfazed by this turn of events. I didn’t know what had happened since we had said goodbye yesterday.

“Richie? Richie, are you alright?” I asked as I turned him to face me.

His eyes were empty as he looked at me with a steady calm that frightened me more. He leaned down to whisper in my ear and I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he spoke.

“I served her with divorce papers yesterday” he said simply, his voice devoid of any emotion.

I was speechless. I knew it was coming, but the speed with which he had done it took me aback. Richie laughed then, but it was a dull, hollow sound and held none of the warmth I had come to expect when he laughed.

“That’s why we keep lawyers on retainer” he explained tonelessly and I reached for his hand.

His eyes softened then as he looked down at me and smiled the wan little smile I had seen so much of lately. I squeezed his hand and he hugged me and whispered again.

“I’ll be okay, Trish, really. Just let me get through the night” he begged, sounding a bit more like himself.

I nodded and he released me and downed the rest of his drink. I noticed then that he was drinking straight vodka and I shuddered. Jon was now at my side and he pulled me away as he tilted his head wordlessly towards Richie.

“Just let him be, Trish. He needs to get through the show and the press conference, okay?” he pleaded with me.

I felt sick inside, but I wasn’t going to fight the way they wanted to handle things. It wasn’t my purview and I knew it, but I wasn’t happy about any of this. I was angry and scared and sad all at the same time and I couldn’t shut off my feelings quite as well as Richie had done.

“Are you okay?” Jon asked, forcing me to look at him.

“I’ll be fine. The show must go on” I said cynically and Jon looked at me hard.

“Trish, there are thirty thousand fans out there tonight who’ve been waiting patiently to see us. What would you have me do? Cancel the show?” he demanded and I could feel his frustration.

“No, Jon, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. It’s just so unfair…” I muttered.

I felt powerless and impotent at that moment and I cursed my hasty remark. There was little Jon could have done to have avoided all this and it surely wasn’t his fault. It was Elaine who had caused the pain and it was her that I wanted to hurt, not Jon.

“I know, babe, I know. Stay here with Eva for a bit, okay? We gotta get out on the stage” he replied softly.

He guided me over towards Eva and kissed me as he murmured that he loved me into my hair. He and Eva exchanged knowing looks and she led me away from the group and refilled my wine glass. This was all hard enough as it was and I resolved that I wasn’t going to add to it further by whining any longer. When I looked up and met her eyes, my own were clear and I forced a smile.

“Never a dull moment” I quipped and she looked at me sadly.

“It’ll pass, Trish. The press will move on and Richie can grieve in private. They’ll be going to Europe after the holidays and it’ll be good to get away for a while” she commented wisely.

The show must go on.