Monday, September 29, 2008

The Sauna Part 263

“So, I take it that you and Jon worked out your differences?” Jim asked with a wry smile.

“I think you could safely say that” I grinned, slapping his arm affectionately.

I felt greatly relieved and Jon’s response had gone a long way towards re-establishing my faith in us as the partners we needed to be. It would take time to negotiate this new relationship, but I finally felt like we were on the right path. Now I had work to do.

“Coffee? It looks like a long night” Jim observed and I nodded.

It was almost eight o’clock and I wanted to get started on composing the letter and I needed to contact Jack and make sure he’d accept my offer. I didn’t want to waste any time in setting things in motion as I intended my justice to be swift. Matt would be gone by the close of business tomorrow. Rather than email, I called Jack at home and explained what had happened.

“So the entire website has been disabled?” he asked, trying to digest all that I shared.

“It’s down and nothing comes up when you search for it on the web” I clarified, uncertain as to whether the link could simply be reinstated. “Jack, can you fix this? Will you take the job?” I asked, pressing him for an answer.

“Yeah, Trish, I will. Actually, I’m looking forward to it now that I won’t have to deal with your brother-in-law” he agreed.

“Thanks, Jack. Again, I apologize for having allowed Matt to cause you such grief and for my failure to have addressed the situation sooner. I promise I’ll be much more on top of things and you have my cell number if there’s anything urgent, okay?” I assured him.

“Hey, I understand. I’ve got family too and it was a delicate situation. Call me as soon as he’s out the door and I can start repairing the damage” he said simply.

“Will do” I replied and hung up.

The coffee was done and I grabbed a cup and headed upstairs to the computer with renewed vigor as I sat down to work on the letter. I had a draft ready within the hour and I reviewed it to make sure I eliminated anything personal. I was determined to refrain from attacking his character and I tried to keep it strictly professional, stating only the facts. When I was satisfied, I emailed the lawyer and I’d call him first thing in the morning to make sure he read it and approved.

It had been a long day and I was suddenly pretty tired, so I shut down the computer and got ready for bed. Jim was downstairs watching TV and I went down to thank him for all his moral support.

“I’m sorry I was being so stubborn earlier and I really am grateful that you were here. I don’t want you to think that Jon and I always act like idiots or that this kind of drama is normal” I ventured a bit sheepishly.

“Oh c’mon! And here I was thinking what an exciting job I’m gonna have!” he laughed.

I hugged him, shaking my head. Jim could roll with the punches and I was glad to know he could hang in there. As much as I wished it was different, our lives had become pretty dramatic of late and there were still rocky roads ahead. Maybe it was a good thing in the long run that Jim’s first exposure into our lives had begun as it had. Welcome to the world of rock ‘n roll, my friend.


When they returned to the hotel, Jon sat down and filled everyone in on what had happened. Richie was the only one who wasn’t totally flabbergasted as he’d seen first hand how Matt and Jon’s mother had behaved towards me at the retirement dinner. Still, he was surprised that they had gone to such lengths to ruin my credibility.

“You mean that Matt and your mother actually arranged the whole billing discrepancy just to make Trish look bad?” Tico asked in disbelief and Jon nodded.

“Jon, are you positive that your mom was in on this from day one? Are you sure it wasn’t just Matt acting alone?” David suggested.

“Matt isn’t that clever, Dave. It’s got my mother’s name written all over it. Matt’s always been her stooge” he replied, the truth really sinking in now.

“Shit, man, I’m really sorry. That’s really rough. Your mother, damn, man” Dave muttered sympathetically and Jon nodded again.

“What do you need us to do, Jon? You know we got your back, right?” Richie said finally.

“Nothing right now, bro. Just wanted to let you all know where things stood at the moment and to ask for your support with the plan” Jon shared and there were nods of assent all around.

“So what is the plan exactly? Matt’s out and Trish has the Fan Club, but who’s gonna take over the other stuff?” Hugh asked, always practical.

“I don’t know at the moment. Trish has someone in mind to run the Fan Club on a day to day basis, but as for the rest of Matt’s job…” Jon threw his hands up in the air.

“Okay, we’re cool with that. Just keep us posted and let us know if there’s anything we can do. I mean anything, man, anything at all” Dave added and again, everyone nodded.

Jon looked from one to the other and smiled. These four were better brothers than Matt had ever been and they’d always had his back. They’d been his family for almost twenty-five years and that hadn’t changed. It was good to know there were still people he loved who he could count on when the world crowded in. My real brothers.

“I will, Dave, and thanks. I’m lucky to have all of you” he said with a sigh.


I slept restlessly through the night and by six o’clock I finally gave up and went down to make coffee. Jim wasn’t even up yet and the cats trailed behind me like a train on a bride’s wedding dress. I stopped suddenly and Zeke plowed into Floyd and there was a skirmish as Floyd hissed his displeasure and I laughed. Sometimes routines were a comfort.

I emptied the cat food into their bowls and started the coffee while I waited for it to be earlier enough to call the lawyer. The sun wasn’t yet up so it was dark in the house and I turned on some lights and made a fire. I was sitting on the couch, lost in my thoughts and sipping my first cup when Jim ambled down the stairs.

“You’re up early” he remarked.

“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep and I’m anxious to get this all over with as soon as possible” I replied.

“Anything I can do?” he offered.

“Just keep me company” I smiled.

I called the lawyer just after seven a.m. and he read my letter while I waited impatiently on the phone. He made a few suggestions and had me include some legal phrases. Soon it was done and we were good to go. I printed the letter and then I called Jon to see where to fax it for his final approval and signature. I read it to him and he made a few comments while he waited to get the fax.

“It sounds a lot more polite than I feel, but yeah, that says it all” he agreed.

He signed the letter and faxed it back to me and I signed it as the lawyer advised that the copy Matt received should contain at least one original signature. Jon’s plane was leaving momentarily for Australia and we confirmed the details regarding my arrival, along with Jim’s. We would be leaving later today too, but since Jon’s flight was longer, with several stops to refuel, we’d actually arrive fairly close to the same time and he’d meet us at the airport.

“Jon, I’m really sorry that things turned out the way that they did. This isn’t what I wanted, you know” I told him.

“I know, babe. It isn’t your fault at all; Matt and my mother forced your hand. I’m just relieved that once all is said and done that we’re still okay. We are still okay, aren’t we, Trish?” he asked.

It broke my heart to hear the sadness and resignation, but his need for reassurance tore at my gut. I wanted to hear the confident, even cocky, tone in his voice again, but I’d settle for a little less morose heaviness.

“I love you with all of my heart, Jon. Nothing will ever change that and we’ll get through this, together. What the Goddess has joined together, let no man, or woman, tear asunder, remember?” I said, trying to lighten the mood.

“Well, wife, that’s a little different twist on the old saying, isn’t it? I wonder what my old Catholic school teacher would say about that” he chuckled.

“There now, that’s a little more like it, husband. I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow. Keep the bed warm, okay?” I said brightly.

“You know I will, babe. I love you too” he replied, feeling easier now himself.

I made several copies of the letter on the scanner and I called an overnight courier service and arranged to have the letter delivered to Matt this afternoon. I didn’t care what it cost; the sooner I knew he was gone, the sooner Jack could get in there and start rebuilding the website. I only wished that I could have been there in person to talk to the staff about what had happened and the changes they’d be seeing, but there wasn’t time and Jon needed me with him as soon as I could get there.

I sat down and wrote out a letter to the staff at Backstage. They didn’t need to know all the details, but they did need an explanation as to why Matt would be escorted out of the building this afternoon. They also needed to know that Jack would be assuming the reins in my absence and that I would be in constant communication with him. I also wanted to dispell any potential rumors about who was running the Fan Club as it would not have surprised me in the least if people were expecting Carol’s return. I printed it out and signed it and addressed it to Jack and it was ready when the courier arrived to pick up Matt’s termination letter.

Finally, I called Jon’s security people and appraised them of the situation and the need for them to be present when the letter was delivered this afternoon. I advised them to handle the situation with as much discretion as possible, but under no circumstances should Matt be allowed to remove any documents, files, or computers from the building and he was not to have access to any computer on the premises. Jack would disable his accounts and passwords immediately and they were to cooperate with him in every possible way. I would be standing by and available if any questions arose and they were to notify me as soon as Matt had been removed.

I hung up the phone and took a deep breath as I tried to relax while I waited for the proverbial shit to hit the fan.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Sauna Part 262

I laughed in spite of myself and somehow I just couldn’t say no to such a shameless request. Tico had a way of charming just about any woman and I was no more immune than the rest. I was still angry at Jon, but I wasn’t going to punish Tico.

“Alright, you win. Jim’s been at me all night to call him, so I might as well get this over with” I relented.

“Gracias, querida. He really is in a bad way” Tico said before handing the phone over to Jon.

“Trish?” Jon said in a tentative voice.

“I’m listening” I replied coolly.

“Baby, I made a mistake and I know that I hurt you. I can’t explain it and I won’t try to defend it, but I know what I did was wrong. I never should have interfered or stepped in and as soon as you hung up I knew you were right. We shouldn’t have shut down the boards. The easiest solution isn’t necessarily the best one-I know you said that before. I swear, I won’t ever do that again” he paused, waiting for me to respond.

I was silent. So far, so good but I was still waiting to see if he’d realized that it wasn’t all just another “glitch” that nobody caught but rather a malicious attack on me that showed no regard for either him or the fans. What I wanted to know was whether he trusted my judgment where his mother and brother were concerned, not just about how to handle the business with the Fan Club. It was important that he understood that their behavior had moved way past simple rudeness and had become overtly damaging, to him as well as to me.

“Trish?” he said, wondering if I was still there.

“Yes, Jon?” I replied.

“Can you forgive me?” he asked plaintively and I softened a little, but only a little. He still didn’t get the main issue.

“Jon, it’s not quite that simple. I know that you’re sorry for jumping in when you did and taking over. And I forgive you for that; it was second nature for you. But what really hurts is that you didn’t trust my judgment when I tried to tell you what was going on or how I wanted to handle it. You sided with your mother over me; you put me in charge and then undermined me when I needed you most. And what’s worse is that I think you still don’t believe me when I tell you I know that Matt and your mother did this intentionally. Matt didn’t simply fall asleep at the wheel-that’s what I did-and I could forgive that. He planned this Jon, along with your mother, and you haven’t even bothered to ask how I know this” I finished and now it was his turn to be silent.

“Trish, how can you be so certain? What makes you so sure that it wasn’t Matt just neglecting to pay attention? Do you know how hard it is for me to believe that my brother, incompetent as he may be, and my mother would actually jeopardize my relationship with the fans because they simply don’t like my wife? Do you know what you’re asking me to believe?” he said sharply, but he’d opened the door and asked how I knew.

I calmly explained just what I had told Jim about how the billing worked. Jon didn’t know that as he’d never had the need or the time to immerse himself in the minor day to day details. But I did. That’s why he’d put me in charge he suddenly realized.

“Jesus, Trish, I didn’t know that. I’m really sorry. I just never dreamed…” he said quietly as it all began to really sink in.

I wasn’t finished yet and I proceeded to tell him, word for word, what Matt had said and how he’d responded when I called after discovering what had happened. Jon was feeling sick to his stomach now and he asked Richie to get him a drink. He was beginning to tremble and neither Richie or Tico knew whether it was rage or anxiety. They knew Jon had had panic attacks years ago, but they hadn’t seen one in years.

“Jon, don’t you think it was rather a coincidence that your mom called you right after you and I found out what had happened? That didn’t strike you as odd?” I continued.

Jon was shaking violently now and suddenly felt very old. This was exactly the sort of shit that he hated about the music business and it was what had nearly driven him to quit years ago.

“She said that Matt had just discovered the problem and that you didn’t know what to do. I guess I believed that and I thought I was helping if Matt had called mom after talking to you and the two of you weren’t sure what to do” he said numbly, realizing now how well he’d been played and by his own mother.

He’d learned from her how to manipulate people to do his bidding. That’s why he’d been so successful with the media and the press. She knew how to turn everything into an advantage and he’d sat back and watched. And learned. He never thought she would use it against him. He’d been betrayed by people he’d trusted, but never his family. And now he’d nearly destroyed the one relationship that mattered most in the world because of his loyalty to her.

“Trish, what can I do? I know I can never make up for not having trusted you when I should have, but baby, if I lose you now…” he said, his voice trailing off as the panic took hold.

Richie was worried now as he remembered the signs. He’d seen Jon like this only once before and he wasn’t anxious to relive the ‘grey summer’ when the band had nearly broken up all those years ago. He watched Jon and prayed.

Jon was shivering and he’d broken into a sweat as he waited for me to respond. The violent feelings he’d felt towards his brother earlier were nothing compared to the murderous rage he was beginning to feel towards his mother right now. And even that paled in comparison to the hysteria that was welling up inside him at the thought of losing me because of them.

“Jon, you haven’t lost me; I’m still here. But I’ll say it again; I need you to believe in me and we need to work through this together. Can you do that, baby? Can you love me enough to trust me completely now and in the future? Jon, I need you too” I said as the tears started to form.

It was true. The feelings of hurt and betrayal, of love and necessity, longing and desire poured forth like a wellspring and I couldn’t put the cork back in the bottle. We both sobbed and together we wept away much of the pain that was between us. Jon’s lack of faith had cut me deeply, but his own wounds went much deeper than mine. Carol’s duplicity was far more pernicious as her betrayal had been selfish and calculated. A mother’s betrayal left scars that never healed and I prayed she hadn’t poisoned his soul.

“I’ll never doubt you again, just let me prove it” Jon said heavily.

He took a deep sigh and shuddered. The panic began to subside and left in its place a profound sense of loss. Jon’s loyalty was legendary and he’d always counted on that from his intimate circle. This breach in his trust had left an indelible mark and it shook him to his core. It made him question his own judgment and those things he’d always accepted as fact were no longer unshakeable truths.

“What do we do now, Trish?” he asked me as he walked to the waiting limo with Richie and Tico.

“Jon, I’m sorry to say this, but if I’m going to remain in charge of Backstage, then Matt has to go, along with anyone else who is loyal to him and your mother. I wanted the transition to go smoothly, but since it hasn’t, it’s time to re-evaluate personnel” I advised.

Jon had a flashback to a time years ago when he had found himself coming to the same conclusion about the band’s management. He’d caused quite a stir when he’d fired almost everyone and assumed the role himself and then placed people he trusted, namely Matt, in key positions. If he was going to remove him from Backstage, he was going to make a clean sweep and remove him from anything associated with the band and the business and he said so.

“Matt will no longer have any role with either the Fan Club, the band or my business. If I could remove him from my family, I would” he voiced resolutely.

The guys all looked at Jon with a startled expression as they hadn’t been privvy to all that had happened, but it was then that they began to appreciate that what had transpired between us was far more than a lover’s quarrel. Even Richie appeared stunned as he knew Matt was inadequate, but he didn’t know the full extent of his treachery. The guys exchanged glances and Jon held up his hand, indicating that he would explain later. He knew he could count on them to support his decision once he’d shared the whole story.

“Do you have someone in mind to replace him?” Jon continued.

“I’d like to ask Jack to step in, at least temporarily, as we need someone with the technical skill to rebuild the website and get it up and running. He can help ferret out who in the organization we should keep and who was simply there to back Matt” I suggested.

“Okay, that sounds like a plan. Let me know if he’s agreeable and we’ll take it from there. Once the site is back up, we can correct the problems with billing and I’ll make a formal apology to those who were effected” Jon replied, beginning to sound more like himself.

“Do you want me to notify Matt that he’s being dismissed or would you prefer to tell him yourself?” I wondered.

“It’s your call, baby. I’ll do whatever you want me to do” he replied, acknowledging that he meant what he’d said earlier.

“I’ll write him a letter and sign both our names and review it first with the lawyer. I’ll have it delivered tomorrow, accompanied by security personnel, as I want him escorted off the premises. I’m not giving him any more chances to sabotage the operation and I want to send a strong message to anyone else who may have pledged their allegiance to him that his reign is over” I decided.

I knew it was a harsh measure, but I felt it was warranted and I needed to test Jon’s commitment to follow my lead. There was no longer any reason to tread lightly where Matt was concerned and I’d pussy-footed around long enough because he was family. I was done. If Jon had any lingering doubts about my ability to handle the “business” they vanished into thin air.

“Let me know when it’s done” he said without hesitation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Sauna Part 261

Jim went to make dinner and poured me a glass of wine while I sat in the living room with my cats. He’d made a fire in the fireplace for me and I sat there and stared into the flames, trying not to feel anything. I could see Matt’s pasty white face in front of me, his features shifting and twisting inside the flames as he smirked at me.

How could I have been so careless and reckless? I’d forgotten the cardinal rule of management that I’d painfully learned time and again. Keep your eye on the ball or at least make it look like you’re always watching. I heard Angie’s voice repeating over and over. Hell! I’d been screwed over by employees I’d trusted who didn’t even intend any harm just because I had trusted them too much and relaxed my grip just a bit.

But Matt? I knew he wanted to bury me and I closed my eyes because I wanted to trust Jon’s brother. He may have designed the coffin, but I gave him the nails to seal the lid shut! I had no one to blame but myself. I wondered what words of wisdom Angie would have had for me now and I wished she was here to make me feel like less of an ass.

And then there was Jon. I was plenty mad at myself, but I was even more furious with him. He had me on the other line and still he listened to his mother without even consulting me! What could I have done differently? Nothing. He didn’t give me the chance. Eddie hopped up on my lap and nuzzled his little head in my hand and purred. At least I still have my babies.

“Call him” Jim said as he tossed me the phone.

“No. I don’t want to hear the sound of his voice and I’m afraid of what I might say” I refused.

“Trish, you’re torturing yourself and you’re miserable and I’m sure he is too. Please, will you just call him?” he encouraged again.

“No. And I’m not miserable” I said stubbornly. “Okay, so I am miserable, but I’m still not going to call him. Do you need any help with dinner?” I asked, changing the subject.

“No, it’ll be ready shortly” he shrugged, knowing better than to argue with me when I was hurt.


The show in Portugal was one of the worst in Bon Jovi history. Jon was pissy and petulant and his performance lacked any of the charisma he was known for. He stomped onto the stage and ran through the songs without any enthusiasm and he even cut out a few versus here and there in order to get the show over with. He had walked off at ten-thirty after two and half hours without even an encore and the rest of the guys, minus Richie, were completely mystified at his behavior.

“What is his fuckin’ problem tonight? Damn, can’t we get Trish over here sooner?” David exploded after the guys did their own encore without him.

“Dave, man, chill out. That is the problem” Richie said in a hushed voice so Jon wouldn’t overhear.

Jon was out in the hallway, brooding, after he’d punched the walls and gotten into a fight with his own security man. He knew he was acting unprofessional and that only made him more miserable. If Matt had been there, Jon would have beaten him senseless.

What the fuck was I thinking? He pounded the wall with his hand for the fifth time. I actually asked her why she hadn’t checked out the new section sooner. I actually acted like this was her fault. My fuckin’ brother wasn’t minding the store and I let my mother convince me that Trish was to blame. Jesus, Goddess, what have I done?

“Richie, man, you gotta stop him! He’s gonna tear up his hand!” Rick shouted excitedly, watching Jon from the side of the stage.

“What the hell happened, Rich? He was so thrilled earlier when he was expecting her to come to Australia with that friend who’s gonna write the book. How did things change overnight?” Tico whispered as they both began walking towards Jon.

“It’s complicated, Teek. Jon really fucked up and this time he knows it” Richie said in a hushed voice.

Nothing, Jon. All I ever asked was that you do nothing and trust me enough to handle this job, but you chose your mother instead. It’s too late to change it. I resign. My words kept echoing in his mind. It’s too late to change it. It can’t be too late to change it. Baby, no, it can’t be too late.

“Jon, stop it. This isn’t helping” Richie said as he and Tico both grabbed his hand before he could punch the wall for the sixth time. “You made a mistake, man. Trish loves you, she’ll forgive you” Richie said with more confidence than he felt.

“It’s too late to change it, Rich. That’s what she said. I blew it and now it’s too late” Jon replied hopelessly, still perseverating on that phrase, but taking it totally out of context.

He looked at Richie and then at Tico and they saw the glimmer of tears in his eyes. Tico exchanged looks with Richie and the irritation he felt with Jon instantly evaporated and he knew this was serious. This wasn’t one of Jon’s little hissy fits; something bad really went down.

“Call her bro, tell her you’re sorry” Richie prodded him, thrusting his own cell phone into Jon’s hand.

“I tried, man, I tried. She hung up on me before I could even get the words out” Jon said, sounding completely beside himself now.

“You told her you’d made a mistake and she hung up on you?” Tico said skeptically. “That doesn’t sound like Trish” he said, eyeing Richie.

“Jon, what did you say?” Richie asked, listening carefully.

“I don’t remember. She said she wasn’t angry, just disappointed and I wanted her to understand why I did what I did” he recounted, thinking back.

Richie and Tico rolled their eyes and they both knew Jon had never gotten as far as ‘I’m sorry’. In fact, he probably hadn’t been sorry until after I’d hung up the phone, Tico was willing to bet. He pulled out his own cell phone and asked Richie for the number and dialed.

“She knows your number, bro, and she might not answer if she thinks you’re calling for him. She doesn’t know mine” Tico winked.


Jim and I had sat down for dinner and I’d only picked at my food. I just wasn’t hungry and I felt bad that I couldn’t eat, but I finally pushed my plate away in disgust. I just couldn’t choke down another bite.

“I’m really sorry. This was great, but I just can’t get anything down” I said apologetically and Jim nodded and removed the plate of food I had barely touched.

“Ice cream? Remember my special ice cream sodas? I’ve got cherry pop and chocolate ice cream” he tempted me.

“Well, it always did settle my stomach” I smiled, remembering how awful they sounded and how good they tasted.

Jim made me a soda and we went out to the living room and settled into the couch. We were soon surrounded by inquisitive cats, all of them able to sense ice cream from any room in the house. I was just finishing mine and letting Eddie and Zeke have the last little licks when my cell phone rang.

“Aren’t you going to see who it is?” Jim nudged me.

“Nope. It’s probably someone I don’t want to talk to” I said snidely.

Jim tickled me until he managed to get it away from me and answered the phone. I swatted him and made a face.

“Hello? This is Jim” he answered, hoping Jon had come to his senses since he was getting nowhere with me.

“Jim? Richie, man you gave me the wrong number. Sorry to disturb you” Tico said and hung up.

Jim stared at the phone, not recognizing the cuban accent, but he thought it was odd that the man had said Richie.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“Just a wrong number” he said, handing me the phone.

I didn’t recognize the number myself but it came up again when the phone rang for the second time.

“Hello?” I answered myself this time.

“Trish?” I recognized Tico’s voice.

“Tico?” I asked, a little surprised, and I saw the look of understanding on Jim’s face as he put it together.

“Trish, please don’t hang up. Jon’s a mess and he wants to tell you how sorry he is. Listen, querida, he really knows he’s an asshole, we know he’s an asshole and you know he’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole, okay? Please, will you listen to him?” Tico pleaded.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Sauna Part 260

“Trish, yeah, I’m back. We’ve got it covered for the moment. I just talked to mom and told her to have Matt shut the board before things get any further out of control” he breathed, sounding somewhat relieved.

“You did what? Jon, don’t you get it? They’re in this together and this is just what they planned! Call her back right now and stop this! If you shut down the board, we won’t even be able to post an apology and let the fans know that we plan to respond and make sure they receive all their money! Jon, listen to me!” I pleaded.

Jon hesitated now and he wasn’t sure what to do. His mom had made sense and she sounded calm and in total control. On the other hand, what I said had merit about making sure the fans knew we were doing something about this, but the desperation in my voice made him think twice. He thought I was being paranoid by suspecting that his mother and brother would conspire like this and perhaps I just wasn’t being rationale. He just couldn’t imagine that his family who loved him would do something to make him look bad. Trish has had a lot on her mind these past few days and she needs a break, he finally concluded.

“Baby, calm down. I’m not angry with you; things get screwed up and you’re not thinking clearly. No one would have sabotaged the Fan Club on purpose and we can fix this after we stop any further damage” he said quietly, using his mother’s words.

“Oh, Jon, you really don’t see it, do you? I need you to trust me now more than ever. Do you honestly think that I’d do something to jeopardize your career for the sake of my pride? Don’t you think that I’d ask for help if I needed it?” I said calmly now, feeling defeated.

Jon was quiet as he thought about what I had just said. He felt like he couldn’t win and he wished he was anyone but who he was right at the moment. It was all in his lap and he just wanted to do the right thing, but what the hell was the right thing? He’d let me down, he’d let down his fans and if he changed his mind now, he’d be offending his family who were only trying to help.

“Trish, baby, please don’t be mad…” he began.

“I’m not angry, Jon, just disappointed” I lied.

“What do you want me to do? I’ve got a show in two hours and …” he began, running his hands through his hair.

“Nothing, Jon. All I ever asked was that you do nothing and trust me enough to handle this job, but you chose your mother instead. The whole board just went down and it’s too late to change it. I resign” I said sadly, but I wasn’t going to fight for control or beg him for his support.

“Trish, please…” he tried again.

“Go and get ready, you’ve got a show to do and I have other work that needs my attention” I replied numbly and hung up.

I sat there and stared at the screen on the computer. When push came to shove, his mother had won and I had lost. It was over. He still loved me, that much hadn’t changed, but he didn’t respect my ability enough to trust me when the shit hit the fan and I didn’t know how well I could manage to live with that knowledge. I shut down the computer and went downstairs in a fog. I’d never felt so completely bereft in my life.


Jon looked at his laptop and threw it across the room and watched as it hit the wall and crashed to the floor. He put his head in his hands and tried to think. He remembered snippets of our previous conversations about both the Fan Club, my role and his family. He started to pace as images from the past few weeks flitted through his mind and he recalled my birthday and how neither Matt or his mom had called like he’d asked. Did I make a mistake? Could Trish be right? He thought miserably as he kicked everything in his path.

Richie heard the commotion from his room across the hall and wondered What the hell? I’d better go and see what’s up his ass now. He knocked on the door, but there was no answer, so he knocked again, a little more loudly this time.

“What?” Jon screamed at the door.

Richie tried the handle, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Jon, open the fuckin’ door!” he yelled back.

“What the fuck do you want?” Jon snapped as he opened the door.

“I wanna know what the hell’s going on and why you’re trashing your room!” Richie demanded, standing his ground, as he looked at the mess all around them.

“Forget it man, what time is it? We got a show to do and I gotta get ready” Jon blasted back as he headed towards the shower.

“Look, fuck the shower and tell me what happened!” Richie insisted, grabbing Jon by the arm and halting his stride.

“Get your hands off me” Jon said menacingly and Richie let go.

“Look, bro, there’s still time before we have to leave for the venue. Please, Jon, will ya talk to me?” Richie replied, trying another tactic.

“Aaawww, fuck, Richie. I blew it. At least I think that I blew it. I don’t even know. Trish hung up on me and she’s really hurt. The Fan Club is down and people are furious because they think that we ripped ‘em off and we did. It’s a fuckin’ mess and I can’t fix it” he said finally, slumping into a chair.

Richie had heard bits and pieces from both me and Jon about the changes we planned for the Fan Club, but he hadn’t kept up on the progress. He knew Jon’s mother and Matt weren’t very cooperative, but he hadn’t heard all the details and now he needed to know.

“Back up, man. Explain. What happened exactly?” he prodded.

Jon filled in the blanks and as he recounted the story he had the sinking feeling that he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. If he had any remaining doubts about what he had done, they vanished as he watched Richie’s expression shift from one of rapt attention to sheer disbelief.

“Jesus Christ, Jon. You trusted your mother and Matt? How could you do that to Trish? You were the one that kept her so busy she didn’t have time to do her job, but Matt? He was the one who was supposed to be minding the store, ya know” he said finally after hearing the whole story.

“I fucked up, man. I really fucked up again. I just wanted to fix it and I just made it worse and I don’t think there’s anything I can do to make it right again” he said, pacing again.

“Jon, the Fan Club will survive. You’ll refund all the charges and re-establish the site and post an apology. The fans will forgive you, but Trish…” Richie murmured, not sure what to say.

“Trish…” Jon said as he gave Richie a wounded look.


“So, did you get everything straightened out?” Jim asked as I wandered into the kitchen with a blank expression and sank into a chair at the table.

“Apparently not” he observed, lifting my chin to make me look up at him. “What happened, honey?” he prompted.

“I just don’t know anymore” I said as I started to cry.

Jim sat down at the table and pulled my chair next to his. I put my head on his shoulder and sobbed. I sobbed and I wailed and I cried and I sniffled and when I had exhausted all the fury and pain, at least for the moment, he handed me a Kleenex. I blew my nose loudly and he handed me a handful of tissues this time and I looked at him out of the corner of my eye.

“Still wanna go to Australia with me?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow.

“I’ll pack lots of Kleenex” he smiled softly. “Wanna tell me about it?” he tried again.

“Only if you promise it won’t end up in the book. It’s not a good story” I said wretchedly.

He nodded and I tried to recount what had happened, going back to the very beginning and the night of Carol’s retirement party. Jim listened and nodded his head, but he just let me talk without interrupting. I confessed that I’d been remiss in following up on the Fan Club and admitted I was at fault too, but I was devastated by Jon’s lack of trust and respect for my judgment.

“Trish, he’s used to being in charge and calling the shots and he made a mistake. It’s his family you’re expecting him to abandon after they’ve been with the him for what, like almost a twenty-five year career?” he pointed out, cocking an eyebrow. “That’s a pretty tall order, dontcha think?” he continued.

“I see you’ve been doing your homework” I observed a bit ruefully.

“Well, yeah, I’ve been reading up on the internet. I didn’t think Jon or the guys should have to fill me in on what any average fan already knows. But back to the subject. How can you be so certain this time that it really wasn’t just a glitch in the billing? I mean, yeah, his brother should have been paying attention too and caught it, but it sounds like he was just waiting for something to go wrong” he said, sounding like the voice of reason.

“Jim, everyone of those charges had to be processed by hand, individually. The billing isn’t automated purposely to insure that just such a thing couldn’t happen. Plus, that account should have been almost breaking even if they ran the initial charge and then refunded the money immediately. There should never have been any profit from this. Someone had to have misled them about what to do and there’s only three people who could have done that-and it certainly wasn’t me or Jon” I explained.

“I see. I guess you did your homework too” he agreed, shaking his head. “So, you were had?” he nodded, finally understanding.

“Yep. And Jon didn’t give me the chance to explain. He just didn’t have confidence in me and I don’t know if I can forget that, even if I could forgive it” I finished.

“So what will you do?” he asked.

“I really don’t know” I said honestly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Sauna Part 259

I called the lawyer first and he emailed me the new proposals he’d received. There were a few good ones that I approved right away, but I was really surprised to see all the garbage that had come in as well. People weren’t shy about asking for money and over half of the RFP’s I skimmed through weren’t even legitimate requests that fell within the guidelines we’d established. There was even a long letter from some woman in the midwest begging for money to send her three kids to summer camp because she needed a break from being a parent.

I logged in to Backstage and went straight to the new section and I was tickled to see how much activity there had been already. There were numerous threads and hundreds of posts and I scanned the titles rather quickly to get a sense of how it was going. A few of the thread titles made me laugh as I remembered the old days and the one titled ‘Gutter Dwellers Reunion’ caught my attention. I read through the posts and giggled as I saw references to Jon’s considerable a$$ets and I noted there were quite a few excellent shots from various concerts that I even downloaded into a folder myself.

I heard Jim return home as I continued to view all the threads and down near the bottom I began seeing titles that raised my concern. ‘Rip-off’ and ‘Devastated Fan’ were obvious red flags and I clicked in to see what was wrong. I felt my blood pressure skyrocket as I read through one complaint after another with no response from any staff or a moderator. Why hadn’t I been contacted about such a serious issue?

I picked up the phone as Jim entered to see if I was ready for lunch. I shook my head ‘no’ and explained there were some major problems I needed to deal with and he left me alone without asking any questions as he could see I was agitated. Matt answered immediately and I took a deep breath.

“Hello, Trish. How’s the tour going? You must both be glad it’s almost over, but I’m sure Jon’s looking forward to Japan next week” Matt began pleasantly.

“Matt, I’m home for a few days, but I’ll see Jon later this week in Australia. I just logged in to the new board and went to the adult section and I’m pretty disturbed. Are you aware that there’s a problem with people receiving their registration refund? And what’s worse, it seems that the fans are being charged for every post that they make on the new section! What’s going on? No one has even responded to the complaints!” I said heatedly.

“I wasn’t aware there was any problem as I don’t care to read the nonsense people write about Jon. As I’m sure you already know, I never felt this was a wise idea to begin with and I’m not surprised that there are complaints. People always complain about something and you and Jon opened the door when you encouraged people to share feedback” he said smugly.

“I don’t think you’re listening to what I said! People have the right to complain if what I’m reading is true. They aren’t getting what they were promised and they are actually being cheated. Who’s monitoring that section?” I demanded hotly.

“No one is monitoring it, Trish. It’s your baby and I assumed you’d be paying attention” he sneered.

I was furious, both with his attitude and his incompetence, and I was just getting ready to blast him when the other line rang and I saw it was Jon. He must have just seen the same thing that I did and I needed to let him know I would handle it.

“I’ll call you right back and make sure you answer that phone!” I hissed as I hung up and switched to take the call from Jon.


Matt sat at his desk with a self-satisfied smirk that would have made even Jon blush. His plan had gone perfectly and he couldn’t have been prouder and he was anxious to call Carol and share the good news. He knew Jon would be furious with me once he found out and he wanted to offer his mother the opportunity to share this little triumph.

“Hi mom, it’s me. As you know, there’s quite an uproar on Backstage and our little plan couldn’t have been more effective. I just spoke to that bitch and she knows what has happened and she’s on the warpath. You’d better call Jon and tell him what’s happened while she’s still trying to figure out how to fix it. I thought I’d let you do the honors” he grinned maliciously.

“Oh, Matty, this is what we both have been waiting for! Now Jonny will see what a mess she has made and he’ll realize how much he needs us! I’m so proud of you, son. It’s a good thing Jonny has us. I’ll call him right now!” she purred gleefully.


I picked up the call from Jon and took a deep breath. He wasn’t going to be happy at all and I couldn’t blame him. I felt horrible and I blamed myself for not paying attention and trusting that Matt was keeping an eye on things once we’d gotten through all the glitches.

“Trish? What the fuck? I just went into the adult section and things are a mess! Do you know what the fuck happened?” Jon demanded.

“Jon, I’m so sorry! I don’t know how this could have happened, but I have my suspicions. I just got off the phone with your brother and he acted like he had no idea, but I don’t believe him. He had to have set this up to make me look bad as there’s no way this could have happened by accident” I said hurriedly.

I knew it sounded like I was blaming Matt, but it was the truth. There was no way this could have been an accident. There had never been problems with billing before and I couldn’t conceive of how this had happened without intentional sabotage. I just hoped that Jon would believe me and that I could fix it without having to rely on Matt who I no longer trusted with managing a manicure, let alone the Fan Club.

“What are you saying, Trish? Are you saying that you think Matt did this on purpose? I can’t believe he’d do something so vile. Why didn’t you check it sooner?” he sputtered.

“Jon, I’m sorry, truly I am. I should have never trusted Matt without checking up on him. I admit I screwed up, but I’ll fix this. I promise, just…” I tried to explain, my heart racing with panic.

“Hold on, my mom’s on the other line” he interrupted.

“Jon, wait…” I tried, but he’d already put me on hold to answer the call from his mother.

Fuck! I knew I was screwed and I had no doubt I’d been duped. I knew Carol had to be calling to tell Jon what a mess I had made of the boards and to rub it in that she and Matt had warned us both against doing this from the beginning. Think, Jon! Think! Don’t let them manipulate you like this! I willed him my thoughts and prayed to the Goddess while I waited for him to come back on the line.


“Jonny, honey, I hate to disturb you, but this is very important. I have some alarming information that you really need to know” Carol began, her voice dripping with concern.

“Mom, are you and dad okay? I’m in the midst of a mess here myself” he said, trying to stay calm and get to the point.

“Your father and I are just fine, but there’s a serious problem on Backstage. Matt just learned about it and he called me right away to see if I knew how to fix it. Apparently your wife doesn’t know what to do” she said smoothly.

“Mom, I’m on the other line with Trish right now and we both just found out. She doesn’t know how this could have happened and it certainly wasn’t what either of us intended. Do you know how to fix this?” he asked, desperate for answers.

“Jonny, if it were me, I’d shut down the board all together before any more damage is done and you lose any more fans. We can bring it back later once we’ve restored things to the way they were. Your brother and I both warned you that this wasn’t a good idea and your wife obviously has no experience with managing something so complicated” she advised.

“Mom, I don’t know…I just want this fixed as soon as possible” Jon said, faltering about what to do.

“Honey, why don’t you just tell your wife that you know she wanted to help, but that you need someone experienced running such an important part of your life and then just leave it to Matt and me and we’ll straighten it all out. You know I’m always there for you, Jonny, and we can take care of this mess” she offered sweetly, her eyes sparkling with excitement.

“Maybe you’re right, but I need to talk to Trish first. I’ll call you right back” he said, grateful to have a solution.

“I’ll be right here, Jonny, but don’t wait too long. The more we delay, the more damage that can happen” she cautioned, licking her lips with satisfaction.

“Okay, mom, you’re right. We shouldn’t wait any longer. Go ahead. Tell Matt to shut down the site. Thanks” he replied before switching back to tell me the plan.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sauna Part 258

We touched down in Durango just before eight and I was glad to feel the ground when I stepped off the plane. I’d never spent quite this much time in the air and it was getting old pretty quick, especially commercial flights after being spoiled on Jon’s plane. I was stiff and not just a bit sore when I walked through the gate and saw Jim waiting with a luggage rack.

“Aaahhh, you remembered all the suitcases?” I smirked.

“Hell, yeah. I don’t have Jon to help lug them back to the car” he grinned as he kissed me hello.

“Are you anxious to see the kids?” he teased as we waited for my bags and I nodded vigorously.

“Is everybody okay? Have they forgotten all about me by now?” I asked, half in jest.

“Everyone’s fine and I think they’ll be glad to see their mom. Floyd still hates me, you know. He’s the only one who won’t sleep with me” Jim complained.

“Don’t feel too bad, he hates Jon too” I laughed.

We arrived at the house at about half past nine and I knew it was just after two in Portugal. I hated to call Jon so early and I decided to wait until just before bed as at least he’d get a little sleep before I woke him up. The cats were all waiting right by the door when we walked in and I remembered it was snack time and I wanted to feed them myself.

Opie screamed loudly and Eddie rubbed against me and I took it as quite a compliment that he was more focused on being petted than on eating his snack. Floyd was a bit huffy and gave me an “oh, so you’re back?” kind of look before sauntering off to the food bowl for his evening treats. Zeke was excited and rolled on the floor and I gave him a belly rub with one hand while I petted Eddie with the other and Jim laughed at the circus before us.

“Goddess, I’m starving! Is there anything quick to eat?” I asked after greeting my babies.

“I still make a mean grilled cheese sandwich” Jim offered and I gratefully accepted.

Zeke was more excited than I’d ever seen him and he was drooling away as he climbed on my lap. Eddie was nudging me and I had my hands rather full when Zeke shook his head and sprayed Eddie and me with a good dose of slobber and I fell apart laughing. Damn, it was good to be home!

Jim and I sat and talked while I ate my grilled cheese and he told me he’d made a decision about Jon’s offer. I looked at him expectantly and he smiled.

“If I go back to Buffalo, I’m just gonna pressure Cherie and she doesn’t need another asshole demanding something from her right now. If I stay here, I’ll just be moping and since you’ve got a substitute babysitter already…” he started.

“So you’re coming!” I squealed happily and he flashed me a grin.

“Yeah, I always wanted to see how the other half lives and maybe I can take some of the groupies off of Jon’s hands” he winked salaciously.

“I think Richie could use your help with that too” I giggled as I told him about his harrowing escape from the bathroom.

“Hey, you know me-I’m always ready to lend a hand wherever I’m needed” he offered very graciously.

“I’ll be sure to tell Richie…and Jon” I laughed.

The long flights and all the excitement and drama had pretty much done me in and I was pooped. I longed for my bed and cuddle time with my boys, so I thanked Jim again for picking me up and feeding me and taking such good care of the cats. We said goodnight and I made my way up to my bed, but I had to admit that it looked rather lonely.

I stripped off my clothes and climbed in with my cell phone and soon discovered I wouldn’t be alone after all. Eddie was marching on top of the covers and purring to beat the band while Zeke had nestled down by my feet. Floyd had apparently gotten over his pique and was now standing on top of my chest and demanding his share of attention. I patted his head and ran my hand over his silky fur and he trotted off to snuggle in between my legs. It was close to four am in Lisbon when I finally called and woke Jon and it took a few rings before he answered.

“Hi baby, it’s me” I purred into the receiver.

“Trish? Trish, shit, did you just get in? What time is it? Is everything okay?” he sputtered, trying to orient himself in the middle of the night.

“Everything’s great love. I just wanted to wait until I was actually home and got settled before I called” I explained.

“All the kids are okay? I bet they’re glad to see you and even happier that you’re not with me” he chuckled sleepily.

“They seem pretty content. They’re all here except Opie. I’m guessing he’s sleeping with the food master” I laughed. “By the way, I thought you should know, Floyd still hates Jim even after all these years, so don’t take it personal, okay?”

“Yeah, but what about Zeke? I’ll just bet he likes Jim” Jon snickered, shaking his head.

“Apparently not quite as much as Richie, though. He’s here with me” I replied, patting the drool king as he stretched out and yawned.

“So did you tell Jim about my idea?” Jon yawned too.

“Yep, I couldn’t wait until I saw him so I called from the airport and he told me tonight-he’s going to come along with me while Cherie sorts out how she feels” I told him.

“That’s great, babe” Jon replied, yawning again.

“Get some sleep, love. We’ll talk later when we’ve both had some rest” I said, stretching myself and disturbing Floyd just a little.

“I love you, wife” he replied sleepily.

“I love you too, husband” I said as I shut off the phone and literally passed out.


I slept in rather late as it felt wonderful to cuddle up with the cats. Jim must have fed them their breakfast as no one swatted me in the head to wake up and I guessed they’d all returned for a nap after eating. I rose and threw on my robe before wandering downstairs for some coffee. There was a fresh pot already waiting and a note that Jim had gone out to get some supplies, but he’d be back around noon, so I had the house to myself. I decided to soak in the hot tub and check in with Jon.

“Hey, doll, you’re up! Did you sleep well? You sounded exhausted last night and I was pretty out of it myself” Jon chirped pleasantly into the phone.

“It was great to sleep in my own bed, surrounded by all my babies, but I missed my favorite companion. How about you?” I replied with a smile.

“I went right back to sleep after you called and I just finished a workout in the gym here in the hotel, so I feel a lot better too” he answered.

“So that means you’re all sweaty and pumped, eh? And here I am all alone in the hot tub” I chuckled suggestively.

“Oh, baby, you are so cruel…” he laughed.

I filled him in on how I had left things in Buffalo and he laughed when I told him that Jared couldn’t wait to rejoin the band and that Cherie wore him out even more than a tour.

“So it sounds like I need to give him a bonus, huh?” he said thoughtfully.

“Trust me, Jon, he really earned it” I said seriously.

“So what are you doing today, darlin’?” he asked curiously.

“I think I’ll check in on the Fan Club and contact the lawyer to make sure all is well. I’ve been so preoccupied with everything lately and I’m anxious to see how folks like the new features. I hope everyone’s enjoying the freedom to say what they want” I responded.

“I’m sure everything’s fine and I imagine everyone’s happier. I should check in again too and see if there have been any particular requests for tonight’s show. There’s still time to change the set list as long as it’s not some obscure oldie” he sighed.

“Okay, I’ll let you go. I’d better get out of here before I look like a prune. Have a great show and say hi to the guys. Call me tomorrow before you leave for Australia” I said.

“Will do, baby. Love you” he said with a kiss and I did the same.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Sauna Part 257

I woke up Sunday morning feeling refreshed and looking forward to going home. I was anxious now to see my babies and spend time with them before I left them again to join Jon. Cherie was still sleeping, as we’d spent a late night talking and I had hope that she’d really follow through with some counseling. Jared was up and went out to get coffee for both of us and I decided to call Jim and confirm tonight’s flight.

“Hey, Trish, is everything still on for tonight? Eight o’clock, right?” Jim asked, sounding rather dejected.

“Yep, everything’s still the same. I just thought I’d call and confirm and see how you’re doing” I said.

“Well, I could lie and say everything’s fine, but I’m not sure what to think after Cherie called me last night. I’m guessing you were there and heard most of it?” he inquired.

“Yeah, I was here. Jim, I’m really sorry. Cherie’s just really confused and conflicted right now. She just needs some time…” I said when I heard a noise at the door.

I assumed it was Jared, but when he didn’t come in I began wondering and got up to see what it was. There was no one outside and I hadn’t heard a car, but there were a dozen red roses outside the door with a note. I immediately slammed the door shut and locked it as I started to panic.

“Fuck!” I yelled in the phone.

“Jesus, what’s wrong? Trish?” Jim said in a panic as well.

“Shit, Jared went out to get us some coffee and Dave must have been watching the house. I heard a noise and when I went to the back door, I saw a dozen roses lying on the doorstep. Dammit, Jim, he was here!” I shouted.

“Wait, are you sure? Maybe Jon sent the flowers to you?” Jim suggested, trying to calm me down and be reasonable.

“He doesn’t know Cherie’s address. It was him, I know it. That son of a bitch!” I said, my voice getting louder.

Cherie came down the stairs then just as Jared arrived back with the coffee.

“What’s all the commotion? Oh my gosh, roses! My favorite!” she squealed, seeing Jared walk in the door carrying the bouquet.

“Jim, I’ll call you back. Jared’s here and we’re safe. I’ll see you tonight” I said as I hung up the phone.

“Cherie, I went to get coffee and these were here when I came back” Jared said, seeing the look on her face.

Cherie’s face fell when she realized they weren’t from Jared, but she took the flowers and opened the note. Her face showed a number of feelings in rapid succession as she read it quietly to herself and then handed it to me.

“They’re from Dave” she said, moving into the kitchen to find a vase. “He just wanted me to know he was thinking about me. I’ll have to call and thank him. They’re beautiful” she said with a smile.

“Cherie, it’s a ploy. There’s an Order of Protection, remember? He’s trying to get you to refuse to testify at the hearing. Dammit, don’t you see what he’s doing?” I demanded.

“Trish, maybe he’s just trying to say that he’s sorry and that he still loves me” she said defensively.

“Jared, can you remind her how he behaved the night that you rescued her? Does she know what he did after she passed out?” I said, desperate for something that might shake her out of the daze she seemed to be in.

“What do you mean? What are you talking about?” Cherie demanded, confusion now twisting her features.

“Trish, I never told her. It’s in the statements that Rick and I made to the police” he said, turning his head, hoping he’d never have to say it to her face.

“Tell me!” Cherie shrieked.

“Cherie, he called you a ‘fuckin’ bitch’ and then he spit at you. That’s when Rick swung at him” Jared told her as he stared at the floor, unable to meet her eyes.

“He spit at me?” Cherie asked, suddenly numb.

Jared nodded and she sat down in a chair, still holding the flowers which I now took from her arms. I wanted to throw them right out in the trash, but they weren’t mine to dispose of. I set them down on the counter and shook her gently and she looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“He really spit at me?” she asked again tearfully.

“Yeah, Cherie. Jon told me what Rick had told him. I thought you knew” I said, holding her closer.

“Oh Trish, I just can’t believe he’s the same man I married. He’s like Jekyll and Hyde. I love my husband, but I hate the man that I’m married to” she sobbed, almost hysterically now.

Jared looked disconcerted and he wondered if he should have told her, but I was relieved. Finally, I saw hope at the end of the tunnel. Cherie had just verbalized what we called “ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator” and the fact that she was no longer splitting Dave into the “good” Dave and the “bad” Dave was a good sign. Maybe she was ready to finally see him as a whole person-the man who told her he loved her and brought her flowers and apologized and the man who hit her and spit on her and called her names. That was the man she needed to make some decisions about, not the distorted “bad” husband she wanted to leave or the “good” husband she wanted to forgive.

I made her a cup of herbal tea and we talked, really talked this time. Cherie began grieving for the love she wished she had had and the marriage she wanted so desperately but never had. I’d seen this stage often enough in many trauma victims, but it was the first time I saw it in a friend and it was hard to see how she suffered. But she needed to accept Dave for who he was, not how she wanted him to be.

It was getting late and I needed to get ready and get to the airport. We hadn’t eaten all day, but I’d grab a quick snack at the airport. I took a quick shower and dried my hair and got ready and we drove to the airport with Jared. He’d stay with her until she had seen a counselor and an advocate and there was a safety plan in place. Cherie was exhausted and drained, but she was on the road to recovery.

“Trish, I’ll call a counselor tomorrow, I promise. Is there someone you’d recommend?” she asked.

I gave her a name, confident this time she’d make the call and Jared assured me he’d make certain that she followed through. He didn’t understand what all had just happened, but he knew something had changed and he knew there was a plan. I hugged Cherie goodbye and went through security, knowing that I was leaving her in a much better place.

I grabbed a roast beef sandwich at one of the restaurants and headed towards my gate. I sat down to wait until it was time to board and dialed Jim. He’d been waiting patiently to hear what had happened and I could sense the relief in his voice when he answered the phone.

“I’ve got some good news” I said as he asked anxiously what had happened.

I told him the story and he didn’t quite understand, but he was glad she had eventually come to her senses and thrown out the flowers. I explained that she still needed time and she needed some space, but I softened that blow with the news of Jon’s offer.

“We found someone else who can watch the boys and Jon wants us both to come to Australia and then to Japan. He thinks you should get a taste of what it’s like on the road and it’ll give you a chance to meet all the guys. Why don’t you just think about it for a few days?” I encouraged.

“It sounds like a great opportunity, but lemme sleep on it first” he replied as it was quite a surprise.

“They’re calling to board. I’ll see you in a few hours” I said as I grabbed my bag and boarded the plane.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Sauna Part 256

I’d finished my coffee and hopped in the shower after Cherie was finished and I was glad for some time to myself. I needed to think about how to approach things and I had to get my own feelings under control. I was upset and I was worried and I was sad. I was angry that Cherie didn’t seem to have learned much and I was pretty sure she hadn’t gotten into counseling like she had promised. I was worried that she was still ambivalent about Dave and that she was misreading all kinds of signals. And I was sad for Jim. He really cared for Cherie and I thought he might even have been in love with her. And I had thought maybe she was in love with him.

I finished my shower and I wanted to call Jon. It was just past noon and he’d most likely be getting ready to head to the show shortly and now was as good a time as any. I went upstairs to my room and dialed his cell and he answered on the third ring.

“Hi, babe! How’s everything in Buffalo?” he said, sounding happy to just hear my voice.

“Shit, Jon, it’s really bad” I began.

I poured out the details, my words coming out in a rush, as I filled him in on all I had learned. He listened quietly and let me just spill my guts as he wasn’t sure what to say. He was mostly angry that I’d gone all the way home so Jim could come back and stay with Cherie and now he wasn’t sure that even made sense. If I’d gone home for nothing, he’d really be pissed.

“So, what’s the plan now?” he said somewhat irritably.

“I don’t really know” I said honestly. “We’re going to lunch and I have until today and tomorrow to try and talk to her, but you know what? I cannot keep doing this. She has to get her own counselor. This just isn’t working and I have to tell you, and I feel ashamed saying it, but I’m really angry with her right now and that isn’t helping” I conceded.

“I don’t blame ya, babe. I’m pretty annoyed right now too. Maybe it is time to pull back. I think you’re right, though. She does need to see someone-and soon!” he agreed.

“Goddess, Jon, what do I say to Jim when I get home? He has no idea” I agonized.

“One thing at a time, Trish. See how it goes with Cherie this afternoon and try to get a better read on where her head’s at and then decide what, if anything, to tell Jim” he said wisely.

“Jon, did you talk to the guys yet about the book? Jim will ask me for certain about that. What should I say?” I suddenly remembered.

“Shit, I completely forgot. I’ll talk to them tonight right before the show. Baby, I gotta leave now, it’s almost seven” he realized as Richie knocked and strode into his room.

“Okay, love, and good luck tonight and have fun” I said, wrapping up.

“You need the luck more than I do, doll. Call me tonight; I don’t care what time it is here. Call me when you get back to Cherie’s. I love you” he said and I heard Richie call out in the background.

“I love you too and tell Richie ‘hey’. I’ll call you tonight” I finished and went down the stairs to get Cherie for lunch.


We drove to a local place that Cherie and I always loved. It was called Captain Jack’s and it was right on the lake, overlooking the water, which was frozen at this time of year. There was snow everywhere and we were bundled up warmly as we entered the restaurant with Jared in tow. Cherie invited him to join us, but he declined, preferring to sit at the bar and keep watch and we exchanged knowing looks. Cherie ordered seafood and I ordered a salad, though I wasn’t much in the mood to eat anything.

“Cher, Jared’s heading back to Europe at the end of the week. What are your plans?” I launched right in.

“Wh-wha-what?” she sputtered. “Jared’s leaving?” she asked, looking dismayed.

“Yeah, kiddo, he’s got another job, remember? This was just temporary. You have an Order of Protection you aren’t even honoring and in fact, you’ve violated it yourself by talking to Dave. You’ve gotta decide what you want here” I said firmly.

“Trish, I don’t know what I want. I don’t want to hurt Jim and I don’t want Dave to be mad at me and I just want this all to be different…” she stammered, tears welling up in her eyes. “I don’t know what to do.”

I knew it was hitting her now and that she’d been avoiding having to really make any decisions, but it couldn’t continue. She needed to deal with the ugly reality and stop letting herself soak up attention without realizing the consequences. Jared was simply a balm to her ego and there was no real decision for her to make. I’d told him he could go back to the band and join them in Japan for the final week.

“Cherie, you didn’t contact an advocate and you’re not seeing a counselor, are you?” I confronted her.

“Noooooo” she wailed, her body shaking with sobs.

“Okay, that’s the first thing you need to do tomorrow morning. I can’t be objective here and you need someone to help you work through your feelings. Jim’s planning on coming home Tuesday because that’s what you led him to believe that you wanted. Do you or don’t you?” I kept pushing, my anger rising.

I knew she hadn’t had a whole lot of time since Dave was arrested to start working things through, but she hadn’t even made a start. She hadn’t sought out a counselor and she hadn’t even been truthful with Jim about talking to Dave and she’d wasted time flirting with Jared who wasn’t even interested. I was really discouraged more than angry, and I knew she was needy, but I also felt she was being a bit selfish in stringing Jim along.

Cherie looked at me with tears in her eyes, shaking her head, and I knew she couldn’t make a decision right now. She had a lot to work through and I didn’t want her reacting on impulse, but Jim deserved to know that things weren’t what he thought and he deserved to hear it from her. After that, it was up to him, but he needed to know she needed time.

“Cherie, listen. You don’t have to decide all at once. Maybe you just need some time to be by yourself for a while and take time to heal, okay? But you have to let Jim know that so he doesn’t come rushing back here thinking you’re in love with him. Don’t you agree he deserves to at least know the truth?” I prompted, softening my tone a bit more.

“Y-y-yes-ss” she agreed, shaking her head violently.

Our food arrived and I felt a bit of relief knowing she would tell Jim herself. After we’d eaten, I’d ask her to call him so I knew she had done it. She could work out a safety plan with the advocate while Jared was still here and only the Goddess knew how long it would take to work out her feelings about Dave.

We finished our lunches and returned to the house after I’d managed to get one more Timmy’s on the way back. Cherie was true to her word and she called Jim while I was there and told him where things stood at the moment. It was painful to listen and I was glad I’d be in Colorado tomorrow night as he’d need some comforting too. I didn’t know what he’d decided about coming back to Buffalo now, but I’d know soon enough.


I called Jon just around dinner time and knew that they’d have just left the venue and would be headed back to the hotel. Sunday they’d fly into Portugal for a show Monday night and then they’d be headed off to Australia for a couple of shows before wrapping up in Japan. I’d really wished I could have gone to Australia, but there would always be other shows.

“Hi, darlin’. How are you holding up?” Jon said sympathetically into the phone.

“Better, love, much, much better” I sighed and filled him in once again on what had been happening.

“Baby, that’s great. I’m glad she called him herself. It’s better he hear it from her. And at least you can tell him one piece of good news. I talked to the guys and they’re all cool with him writing the book. In fact, I was even thinking… if Jim isn’t set on going back to New York, maybe he could come over and join us in Australia and get a bit of a sense of what touring is like” he suggested.

“And here I thought you were going to say you were hoping I’d be able to come join you if Jim was willing to stay in Colorado” I said, feeling a little disappointed.

“Now here’s the really good part! I’ve got a surprise!” he said, his voice rising in pitch. “Hugh’s got a niece who’s unemployed right now and she loves cats. She’s willing to fly out to Colorado and stay with the boys so you can both come to Australia!” he finished, his excitement contagious.

“Oh my Goddess, Jon! That would be fabulous! Are you serious? Do you really mean it?” I cried back excitedly.

“Yep, I mean it. I guess I’ve been quite a prick…” he hesitated and I heard hoots and hollers from the guys in the background confirming that statement and I laughed. “Anyway…” he continued, glaring at the guys to shut them all up “they had a meeting and came up with a plan to get you back here asap!” he finished, sounding thrilled.

“That would be great! Even if Jim decides to come back to Buffalo, I can spend a few days with my boys and then come and join you! Will you kiss all the guys for me?” I said, really ecstatic now.

“Aaaawww, Trish, can’t you just kiss ‘em yourself when you get here?” he whined and I heard what I knew had to be David making kissy noises in the background.

“Fuck, did you hear that? Trish, hurry and come soon. I need you to rescue me” he said, but his voice faded as Richie took the phone and passed it around and I thanked them all, one by one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Sauna Part 255

Cherie was waiting at the gate and gave me a big hug. It was late and I was tired, but I hugged her back and was relieved to see she looked pretty good. Jared was with her and he took my bags and I hugged him as well and thanked him for keeping an eye on her. It was quite a departure from his normal duties and I noted he looked more worn out than he usually did. Cherie was hard to keep up with, I knew, and I looked at him sympathetically.

“How was your flight? How was Europe? How’s your nose? Jim told me what happened. It looks fine, I can’t even tell. Do you want to go back to the house or do you want to go out for a while?” she yammered excitedly.

I saw Jared grinning and I had to laugh too. I guessed he was relieved to have someone else for Cherie to talk to as she tended to get almost manic when she was anxious. I answered her last question and asked her to stop for some coffee as I knew I’d be needing it. I also wanted to call Jon while we were waiting for my bags and Cherie tried to contain herself as I pulled out the cell phone.

“Hi, darlin’! Are you finally in Buffalo? Is Cherie there?” Jon answered, checking the caller ID.

“Yep, I just got in and we’re waiting for the bags. Jared’s here too” I explained.

“What time is it there? Shit, it’s just after six in the morning here” he yawned.

“I’m sorry, love, I didn’t want to wake you, but I promised I’d call. It’s just past midnight here” I apologized.

“So everything’s okay? No problems with the flights?” he asked.

“Nope, no problems. I’m good, but I miss you. It’s going to be hard sleeping alone again. Any tips?” I teased.

“My hands are sore. How’s that for a hint?” he cackled back.

“Oh, gee, thanks! Now that’s a big help! Make me feel guilty and hit me with a visual” I laughed.

Jon gave a dirty chuckle and we changed the subject and talked a little about the next couple days. I’d be back in Colorado by late Sunday night and he’d be in Portugal by that time. Thank goodness for cell phones as I’d have had a hard time keeping track of so many numbers.

“Okay, go back to sleep and don’t be too cranky with the guys now, you hear? I don’t want them blaming me if you’re worse than usual” I admonished him.

“I’ve already been warned. Richie threatened me and he told everyone he’d be calling you if I get out of line. Have a Timmy’s for me, will ya, babe?” he said, yawning again.

“We’re headed there now” I smiled as I saw Jared had gotten the last of my bags. “G’night, husband, I love you” I said wistfully.

“I love you too. ‘Night, wife and call me tomorrow” he said and I clicked off the phone as we made our way out to the car.


Cherie let me sleep until morning once we got back to her house, but once I woke up she began talking non-stop. I was only half listening as I hadn’t had coffee yet and Cherie didn’t even own a coffee pot, but then Cherie didn’t need caffeine to wind up and all she had in the house was herbal tea. I gave Jared a rather pathetic look and he volunteered to run out and get some and I smiled at him gratefully.

“Isn’t he wonderful? He’s just the best” Cherie went on, changing subjects, but from what I didn’t know as I was barely awake.

“You mean Jared? Yes, he seems like a wonderful guy” I agreed, not knowing him all that well.

“He’s really hot too, you know? I wouldn’t mind, well, you know” she tittered and I looked at her, stunned.

“What? Don’t you think so?” she asked, mistaking my look for disagreement regarding Jared’s considerable assets.

“Yes, Cherie, but what about Jim?” I asked, waking up now.

“Jim is wonderful too and I really miss him, but Jared has been so sweet and you should have seen the way he took care of me after that incident with Dave” she replied. “He hasn’t left my side ever since. I think maybe he likes me” she said a little too breathily for my comfort.

“Cherie, Jared’s here to make sure you’re safe. He’s still on Jon’s payroll. It’s only temporary until we’re sure that Dave won’t try and harass you or until Jim is back. Jim’s been very worried about you and he’s anxious to come home and see you” I reminded her, trying to get a handle on just what was happening in her mind.

“I know, I talk to Jim every day, but Dave has been calling me too. He’s started counseling and he wants me to give him another chance” she said seriously.

My mind was reeling and my head was starting to hurt. I hadn’t anticipated any of this as Jim said Cherie had told him Dave hadn’t contacted her. I had assumed she wanted to continue a relationship with Jim and I never imagined she’d mistake Jared’s attention for attraction. Apparently I had assumed way too much and I needed to know what had changed.

“Cher, Jim told me that you hadn’t heard from Dave” I began warily.

“That’s what I told him because I didn’t want him to worry. But Dave calls every day too and he’s really sorry and he’s going to counseling to try and learn how to manage his temper. He said he’s learned quite a bit” she elaborated.

“And you believe him?” I asked, digging my nails in my palms and trying to remain calm.

“Well, I’m not ready to trust him just yet. I know it will take time and I’m not really sure how I feel anymore. Jim and Jared have both been so wonderful and it’s been really different, but I know Dave is trying…” she started when Jared returned with the coffee.

He handed me a large cup and I noticed he had one for himself too, as well as a small iced cappucino for Cherie. I needed time to absorb all this information and I wanted a word with Jared myself. It was possible that he had developed some feelings for Cherie and I needed to know where he stood in all this. I needed to somehow get Cherie to leave us alone while I tried to figure things out.

“Cher, why don’t you go take that shower now? Then I can take mine and we’ll go out for lunch? It’s already eleven” I suggested.

“Okay, I’d like that. I’ll just put this in the frig” she grinned and scampered off to bathe and get ready.

“Cherie, have you got any aspirin?” I called.

She tossed me a bottle from the bathroom and I dumped three in my hand and swallowed. I took a sip of my coffee and once I heard the shower running, I went in to speak with Jared. I really missed Jon and I wished he’d been there to talk to; he always knew how to make me feel better and I could feel the knot in my stomach beginning to form.

“Jared?” I said as I walked into the living room where he was watching TV.

“Yeah, Trish, what’s up?” he asked, turning the volume down.

“No, leave it up. I need to talk to you. What’s been happening since that night with Dave?” I questioned him, wanting to get his sense of how things were before I shared my suspicions.

“It’s been pretty calm, no contact from that asshole as far as I know. She was a wreck for a couple of days but once she recovered, she seemed to get back into a routine. She’s really busy and she’s hardly ever home-she’s more exhausting than Jon, even on a tour. And man, Trish, she can talk” he said with a sigh.

“And how has she been with you?” I asked cautiously, having learned not to assume anything anymore.

“She’s been great. She’s really sweet and she tells me a lot. She keeps trying to do things for me and I have to remind her I’m here to take care of her” he said, wondering where I was going.

“Jared, I’m just going to ask you this straight out as I really need to know. It’s okay, whatever the answer, but just tell me the truth, okay?” I asked and he nodded, looking confused, so I launched right ahead without further preamble. “Have you started to develop feelings for Cherie?”

“Feelings?” he repeated, looking dumbstruck.

“Yes, feelings. Are you attracted to her? She thinks you are” I said, laying it out as I was fairly sure now from his expression that it wasn’t mutual.

“Shit, Trish, she’s a nice person and I feel bad for what she went through with that asshole of a husband. I mean no one deserves that, you know? But she’s driving me crazy and to be honest, I can’t wait until this assignment is over” he confessed.

“Okay” I breathed, somewhat relieved, as I put my hand on his shoulder.

I don’t know why I was relieved, actually. Jared’s lack of awareness of how Cherie felt didn’t really make anything easier. It just told me that her judgment was off and her self-esteem had been so badly damaged that she couldn’t distinguish between concern for her welfare and genuine attraction.

“I need to talk to her then. She’s a little confused right now, Jared, and I don’t think she knows what she wants or how she feels. And Dave has been calling her; she just hasn’t told anyone besides me” I said heavily.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Sauna Part 254

Back upstairs in our room, Jon sat on the bed, just holding me while I cried it all out. I was crying for Richie, and Tico and to a lesser extent David and Hugh. I’d gotten to know both of them better during this trip, but it wasn’t the same as Tico and especially Richie. But I was also crying for Jon. It was the beginning of a day’s worth of tears.

“Baby, I didn’t realize this was going to be so hard” Jon said, resting his chin on my head as I shook against him.

“It’s not just the guys, love, or even Richie. I’m going to be so lost without you, Jon” I tried to explain, followed by another round of sobs.

When I had started to calm down again, Jon spoke quietly. He wanted to cry too, but my distress kept him strong and the depth of his feelings frightened him. If he gave in to the tears now, he’d never stop and he wanted to be there and comfort me instead. Besides, it was more his nature to get mad and he was angry, but angry at the sacrifices he had to make because of who he was.

“Trish, baby, you won’t be lost. I’ve never known a woman less likely to be lost-except perhaps getting home from the airport” he grinned, trying to lighten the mood and remembering our first trip to Buffalo.

“I’ve got that covered!” I sniffled, slapping his arm playfully. “Cherie’s picking me up in Buffalo and Jim’s getting me in Colorado.”

His calmness was helping and I began to pull it together. He expected me to be able to handle myself and I would. He didn’t need my blubbering and I wasn’t the only one who’d be grieving. I needed to behave like the capable, confident woman he thought I was.

“Okay, that’s enough. I’m done now. Let’s get this room picked up before the maid has stories to tell” I smirked as I started to stand up.

“Darlin’, it’s okay. Screw the room and c’mere. Just let me hold you” he insisted, pulling me back.

His eyes were moist now and it was my turn to comfort him. It was like that with us; we were so connected. When one fell apart, the other picked up the pieces and vice-versa. He needed me now and I would be there for him, always.

We laid there together, wrapped in each other’s arms, for the longest time. We didn’t speak; we didn’t even think; we just tried our best to absorb the feel of being together as we cherished each and every precious moment. But eventually we needed to get ready and pack and head to the airport.

“Babe, it’s almost eleven. We should leave for the airport by noon; let’s get you packed” Jon said reluctantly.

I nodded and we sat up and I hugged him tightly with a sigh of resignation. We managed to get everything stuffed into the bags since most of the clothes I’d bought in Covent Garden we’d had the hotel concierge ship for us. The room looked somewhat better and the only obvious sign of our earlier escapades was the small stain from the champagne which had started to dry. Jon packed up his things as well as they’d be heading out later that afternoon too. It was just past noon when we loaded my bags into the waiting limo and headed off to the airport. I laid my head on Jon’s shoulder and he stroked my hair as the limo drove past the sights of London.

The airport was crowded since Heathrow was a major hub and it took us a bit to get through the ticketing and to line up for customs. They wouldn’t allow Jon to go through with me to the gate as only ticketed passengers were allowed past that point and after an argument with the customs officials he threatened to go buy a ticket himself.

“Jon, it’s okay. I’ve only got a few hours to wait and you’re going to be leaving yourself in a few hours anyway. I’ll find something to do and you should go back to the hotel and relax” I encouraged.

“I can’t believe I can’t just go through and wait at the gate until your plain leaves” he said disgustedly, scowling at the security personnel.

We’d moved off to the side so we didn’t hold up the line of people waiting to get through customs as we’d already gotten hostile looks from a few travelers while Jon argued. I hoped they wouldn’t make me go back to the end of the line and I was afraid that creating a scene would attract unwanted attention.

“Kiss me” I demanded as I dropped my carry-on to the floor and threw my arms around his neck.

The distraction worked and his temper subsided as I probed his mouth with my tongue. It was a long kiss and risked even more attention, but it was still hard to make myself pull away. The tears were starting to form again as he hugged me hard and murmured into my ear.

“I love you, Trish, and you know how much I’m gonna miss you” he whispered before stepping back and holding me at arm’s length.

“I know, baby, I know. I’ll call you as soon as we land in Buffalo” I said haltingly, my lower lip starting to tremble. “Call me when you land in Barcelona, okay?”

“I will babe, I will” he answered, kissing me one final time before letting go.

He stooped to pick up my bag and placed it onto my shoulder and I could see tears glistening in his eyes as well. My cheeks were already wet as we looked at each other one final time and he reluctantly let go of my hand. I turned towards the customs officer who looked less annoyed now and they put my bag through as I stepped under the metal detector. Apparently I seemed less threatening now with tears streaming down my face and I passed through without any further delay. I turned and waved Jon goodbye as he stood there with his hands in his pockets, looking for all the world like a little lost boy. He mouthed ‘I love you’ and I did the same before forcing myself to turn again and walk away.

I walked to the conveyor belt that would take me towards the right terminal and held onto the railing as I felt shaky and numb at the same time. I rode to the terminal in a fog, trying to focus on where I needed to go, and eventually reached my gate as I checked my watch. I had well over an hour to wait and decided to find a bathroom nearby and grab a coffee. When I returned, they were boarding the first class passengers and I made my way onto the plane. I sat down in my seat and closed my eyes in a determined attempt to hold back the tears.

Jon had gone back to the limo and was back in the hotel long before my plane even took off. He headed straight for Richie’s room and plopped down on a couch and Richie poured them each a glass of wine which Jon downed almost immediately. There was no need to speak as Richie understood exactly what Jon was feeling, having been through it enough times himself.


Jon’s flight landed in Barcelona before my plane reached Buffalo and he dialed my cell as soon as he was inside the airport. There was a gaggle of fans waiting outside of customs and they looked as though they had been there most of the day. Jon groaned and threw on his shades, but it was too late; they’d been spotted.

I’d fallen asleep on the plane as the crying jags had worn me right out and the several glasses of wine hadn’t hurt either. I woke up as I heard it and realized we’d soon be landing in NYC before heading on to Buffalo. I flipped open the phone and saw it was Jon.

“Hey, are you in Barcelona already?” I asked, shaking the drowsiness off.

“Yep, we just landed. I can’t talk very long, babe. There’s a crowd of fans just outside customs and it looks like they’ve been waiting a while” he said wearily.

“How did they know when you’d arrive?” I wondered as we hadn’t run in to that elsewhere.

“I wish I knew, but my guess is they planned to camp out overnight if we hadn’t shown up today. Now that’s loyalty” he said with a shake of his head.

“It certainly is! I won’t keep you, love. It looks like we’ll be landing soon too and I need to change planes. I sure do miss Vicky and the rock star version of travelling” I kidded.

“Yeah, but at least you won’t have to deal with a mob when you land” he chuckled back.

“True. I love you baby. I’ll call in a couple hours when I reach Buffalo” I promised.

“I love you too, Trish. Okay, gotta go greet the fans and try to rescue Richie” he grinned and I smiled.

“Okay, talk to you soon. Give my love to Richie and the guys” I replied.

“Will do” he said and took a deep breath as he prepared to turn on the smile.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Sauna Part 253

We woke on our last morning together nestled in each other’s arms. Jon had passed out shortly after the end of the night’s torture and I’d laid my head on his chest. It always comforted me to hear the sound of his heartbeat, so steady and strong, just like the man himself. The room was a shambles and it was hard to believe we’d managed to make such a mess without ever leaving the bed.

I looked around at the carnage and assessed it wasn’t as bad as it looked. There were a few bath towels and the clothes I had strewn on the floor when I’d hunted for the scarves that had been buried deep in my suitcase. Next time I’d keep them somewhere more accessible. We’d knocked over the champagne and there was a stain on the floor and the lamp had rolled off the nightstand, along with the champagne glass which miraculously hadn’t broken. The bed squeaked badly when I sat up and I shook my head in despair.

“Jon, just look at the mess we made” I lamented.

“Yeah, we really wrecked the place” he admitted with a smirk.

I slapped his arm playfully and started to get up and clean up what I could, but he stopped me.

“Baby, I’ll pay for the damage. It was worth it” he smiled seductively as he pulled me back in the bed.

We hadn’t made love yet for the final time and Jon set out to correct that situation straight away. Our lovemaking was easy, the way lovers are when the goal is intimacy rather than passion and we both felt relaxed and as close as two people could be. We showered and dressed and made our way down to breakfast for our rendezvous with the guys. I was surprised to see David already seated alone as we walked towards the table, arm in arm.

“Struck out again, eh, buddy?” Jon teased with a shit-eating grin.

“Aaawww, fuck you, man. It was slim pickins last night, not that you would know” he shot back with an affable smile.

“Believe me, I do know I’m lucky” Jon nodded as he kissed me.

Tico and Hugh appeared next as they hadn’t stayed out quite as late either and partying for them wasn’t quite the same as it had been in the days of their youth. We nibbled on scones and coffee while we waited for Richie to arrive. We were on our third pot when he stumbled down to join us.

“Well, now, look what the cat dragged in” Hugh observed wryly and Richie shot him a glare.

“So it would seem someone else besides Jon actually had a good time last night?” Dave asked, looking just a tad jealous.

“Remember those twins? Shit, man, I’m getting too old for this stuff” Richie replied wearily.

My head swiveled around as I gaped at him, wondering if I’d heard him correctly. Richie saw my expression and held up his hand to explain.

“Trish, relax. That didn’t exactly come out the way I intended. I only meant that I couldn’t get rid of them and they kept babbling on about nonsense all night. I kept trying to be polite, but I finally had to escape through a bathroom window-no shit-they even followed me to the john” he explained, shaking his head.

“Hey, asshole! Did you forget about me? I would have been happy to help take them off your hands! Some fuckin’ friend you are!” Dave reproached him and we all laughed, but I was still a bit stunned.

“Richie, are you serious?” I asked, trying to digest this new information.

“Hell, yeah. It was like a fuckin’ flashback to the eighties, man. I actually fell getting out of the window” he complained, rubbing his shoulder.

“Shit, at least it wasn’t your playing arm” Jon said sarcastically and Richie scowled.

“Damn, I miss the old days” Dave reminisced.

We ordered our breakfast and Richie kept us entertained with more tales of the twins while Dave groaned. I kept trying to imagine Richie climbing out of a bathroom window and the picture I conjured up was hysterical. It was hard to have sympathy when he told the story so comically and Dave’s dramatic sighs only added to my amusement.

“Well, sweetcheeks, there are worse things than being considered a sex symbol in your late forties” I said finally, pinching his cheek.

“Yeah, I suppose” he acknowledged sheepishly.

We had finished our breakfast and they were clearing away the dishes when we began saying our goodbyes. I still had to pack and make some attempt to straighten the room before the maid showed up. I also didn’t have the luxury of getting to the airport late as I had to take a commercial flight. The guys would be leaving for Barcelona shortly after me and they needed the plane.

“Trish, we’re really gonna miss ya, querida” Tico said as he gave me a warm bear hug.

“I’m going to miss all you guys too. It feels like I’m leaving my family” I admitted with tears in my eyes.

Now that the time was finally here to say goodbye, it began hitting me all at once. The warmth in Tico’s eyes unleashed a flood of emotions I’d been biting back and somehow his kindness made it all the much harder to contain. I wasn’t going to miss only Jon, but I would really miss these guys, especially Tico and Richie who’d really started to feel like my big brothers.

Dave gave me a hard time about leaving and let me know that I was sentencing them to sheer misery with Jon once I was gone. He actually said this was the most fun he’d had on tour in years and that it was the most relaxed he’d ever seen Jon. I expected the teasing, but I hadn’t expected the genuine sincerity with which he spoke. I hugged Dave and nodded, as I was too choked up to speak.

Next came Hugh, the most reserved and low-key of all the guys. He smiled at me with affection and it was his eyes, rather than his words, that spoke volumes. I felt the tears beginning to roll down my cheeks now, but when it came to Richie I dissolved into a full blown sob.

“Aaawww, Trish, doll…” he sad soothingly, patting my back.

I looked up and saw the tears in his eyes and even Jon looked away. This was just too damn hard and I wasn’t prepared. I clung onto Richie as he whispered endearingly into my ear.

“Trish, you have no idea how much I’m gonna miss you. You and I, well, we have a bond that the miles can’t ever lessen, and I don’t simply mean Jon” he said so softly that only I could hear.

“Oh, Richie…” I sobbed again harder and he turned my face up to look at him.

“Don’t worry about me, babe. I’ll make you proud, okay?” he asked and the last shred of control I had evaporated and I cried even harder.

Richie stroked my back and I fought to regain my composure, my breath coming in gasps as I struggled to form a coherent thought. It was tough to say goodbye after our time in California, but I had come to love Richie so much more since then. My heart had broken for him so many times recently and I wanted to stay and protect him.

“Richie, I knew I was blessed with Jon, but I never expected to find a brother as well. Please be good to yourself and don’t ever doubt that you are truly loved, okay?” I managed finally. “And, you and Jon, take care of each other” I added.

“We will, Trish, we will” he shook his head solemnly.

Jon stepped forward and slipped his arm around my shoulder as he gently pulled me away from Richie. My lip was trembling, but I was determined to keep it together. I smiled wanly and waved goodbye to the guys as Jon and I walked to the elevator. The door shut on my last glimpse of them and I promptly buried my head in Jon’s chest, sobbing for all I was worth. And it was only the beginning.