Monday, December 29, 2008

The Sauna Part 280

The crowd was excited as they jammed their way in to the Westpac Trust Stadium, affectionately known as the “Cake Tin” by the locals. They’d dubbed it that some time ago in recognition of its striking resemblance to a huge cake pan and the name stuck. The “Cake Tin” was generally used to hold rugby tournaments-the island’s national sport-but tonight it was packed to the rafters with eager fans awaiting the first Jovi concert in New Zealand in years.

Jim took a deep breath as he peered out from the side of the stage and gulped. Shit! There must be almost fifty thousand people out there. What if I fuck it all up? What if I forget the chords to the songs? What if I throw up? he thought miserably, feeling the bile rise in his stomach when he spotted the guys from the bar in the front row. There just might be a way out of this he thought to himself as he felt Richie sidle up alongside him, clapping him on the back for support.

“Hey, look! It’s those guys from last night! Out in the audience-see-there they are! Maybe they could sit in-at least they’re real musicians!” Jim announced excitedly.

“That’s a possibility for a few numbers, bro, but they don’t know many of our songs, remember? I’ll mention it to Jon, but relax, man, you’ll be fine” Richie grinned, but it wasn’t a bad idea either. “I’ll go talk to Jon” he agreed.

Jon listened as Richie explained the idea and Jim nodded vigorously, confirming everything Richie was saying. The songs that the guys from the local band knew were the ones that Jim didn’t feel comfortable playing, except ‘Wanted’ which he actually knew. It would be a great way to help out a struggling local band and it might just save Jim from having a meltdown. He acknowledged it was a win-win situation and chided himself that he hadn’t thought of it first.

“Go ahead, go talk to them. Give ’em a chance to earn those tickets we gave ’em” Jon finally said and Jim breathed a sigh of relief.

Richie sent Rick into the audience to go get the guys while he barked a few orders to his guitar tech to bring up a few spares he wasn’t planning to use during the show. He’d give the kids their choice from his collection and make sure they were ready when the time came. He smiled a broad smile when Rick ushered the newbies into to his dressing room.

“So, are you guys in the mood for a little exposure?” he grinned.

“Man, I’m really sorry about the other night. I felt like an ass when we realized who we’d been jammin’ with” the bassist stuttered, embarrassed by the remarks he had made.

“Yeah, me too. I can’t believe I called Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora old farts” the lead singer apologized.

“Yeah, Dickie, you’re such an asshole sometimes” the lead guitarist admonished him. “They ain’t gonna let you up on stage after you shot your fuckin’ mouth off like that.”

“Not true, my friend. Arrogance is an important quality in a lead singer. Right, Jon?” Richie winked as Jon entered the room and Dickie whirled around, blinded by Jon’s flashing smile.

“Yeah, I oughtta know” Jon replied with a laugh, shaking hands with the kid who’d predicted he’d be pretty lame. It was easy to be magnanimous when you were Jon Bon Jovi.

“Shit…” Dickie rasped, his throat suddenly dry. “We’re not worthy” he grinned, bowing down with some flare as he recovered his wits with a dramatic rendition from ‘Wayne’s World’.

“The kid’s got some spunk” Richie smirked, shaking his head.

“Okay, kid, let’s see what ya got. How about if I call you up when it’s time for an oldie?” Jon teased and Dickie winced, nodding ruefully.

“You got it man, it’ll be an honor” he said, genuinely humble now.

“Five minutes” Rick called from the hallway and they all headed out towards the stage.


I drained my third cup of coffee, wishing for something stronger, as I paced back and forth in the waiting room. Hugh had gone into surgery over an hour ago and I hadn’t seen any of the staff who’d accompanied his gurney into the elevator. I was refilling my cup for the fourth time when the young intern appeared in the doorway.

“Is he okay? Did everything go okay?” I asked in a worried voice.

“Your friend’s in recovery and he’s doing well. He’s just coming around now, but he’s fine. We got it before it ruptured” he smiled.

“Oh thank the Goddess! When can I see him?” I bleated, tears pricking my eyes.

“Not right away, but maybe in an hour or so, but he needs to rest, so you won’t be allowed to stay long” he replied.

“Thank you, thank you! And thank the surgeon for me too, okay?” I answered excitedly.

“No problem. There’s just one thing, though” he added and I caught my breath.

“Any chance I might be able to get an autograph from Bon Jovi? You guys are with the band, right? My girlfriend is a huge fan and …” he began.

“No problem, I promise. The guys will be here after the show” I grinned. “Let me know when I can go up and see Hugh” I said with a sigh of relief.

“Will do” he nodded and disappeared back into the hall.

I tried calling Jon but he didn’t answer and I looked at the time. They were already on stage so I called Rick and told him the good news. He’d make sure Jon knew as soon as he took a break and he’d get them to sign a CD or something for the intern who’d asked. I settled back into my chair and called Hugh’s wife to share the good news and I promised to call her back as soon as they’d let me in to see him.


The show was going surprisingly well despite the stress everyone felt. Jon told the fans that Hugh had been taken to the hospital with acute appendicitis and asked them to show a warm welcome to Jim who’d just been drafted into the band. The fans were terrific and they gave a resounding cheer for both Jim and Hugh and as a result they were treated to an especially memorable show.

The band played a few oldies that they rarely performed on tour anymore, but they did them with an acoustic slant and the fans ate it up. ‘Dry County’ seemed even more popular now than it had been when Faith was first released and Jon gave some serious thought to resurrecting it a little more often. Jim made a few errors, but no one even blinked an eye and even Richie was proud of how well he played considering what little preparation he’d had. His confidence soared when it came to ‘It’s My Life’ and he actually looked like he was starting to enjoy himself.

Jon left the stage briefly to change his shirt and Rick told him that Hugh was out of danger and in recovery and the relief washed over him like a breath of fresh air. He returned to the stage with renewed vigor and energy and shared the good news with the audience. There was a round of applause as he very appropriately launched into ‘Keep the Faith’ and the guys were all grinning like loons.

The kids from last night were genuinely awestruck as they watched from the wings, awaiting their cue. Willie, the lead guitarist and Dickie’s brother, lovingly fingered the strings of Richie’s guitar, sighing with admiration.

“Are ya gonna play it or fuck it?” Dickie grinned, jabbing his brother in the ribs.

“Shut up, you asshole! Try not to spew any more stupid shit and just sing the damn songs when we’re asked, okay?” Willie spat back.

“I’m cool, man. Lighten up, will ya?” Dickie retorted as the bassist shot him a look.

“Dickie, man, don’t freakin’ blow this, okay? Those guys have been really good sports and they’re givin’ us more exposure than we deserve after the stupid shit we said. Watch your mouth” Jeremy chimed in.

“Okay, okay. I’m just nervous too” Dickie admitted.

“And now we’d like to take this opportunity to share some home grown talent with ya’ll! From right here in Wellington, would you please give a warm welcome to the Bluenotes” Jon’s voice boomed through the amps as the kids made their way onto the stage.

The applause from the audience was nearly deafening as they strained to hear the opening notes of the song they needed to play. Willie and Dickie exchanged knowing looks as Jeremy, the bassist, dove headlong into ‘Bad Medicine’. Jim stayed on stage until they finished the song, quietly slipping away when the house lights dimmed momentarily and watching from the side as they ripped through several old numbers. Dickie managed to keep himself in check and joined Jon in the choruses, while Willie and Richie jammed with each other.

If the crowd had been disappointed with the unexpected showcase of local talent, they gave no indication. Jon beamed as all the Tommy’s and Gina’s in the audience echoed his chorus and they found themselves wooed once again by the adoration of their fans. The show finally ended after three and half hours with Jim joining the band for their anthem and ‘Wanted’ blared from the amps with the entire audience on their feet. The “Cake Tin” was shaking from thunderous applause as the entire cast took their bows and Jim and the Bluenotes shared their first Jovi high.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and Blessed Yule to everyone from Jon, Trish and Opester and the kitty clan! Have a safe and wonderful holiday and we'll be back with a new chapter next week!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Sauna Part 279

We made it back to the hotel around dinner time and hopped in the shower to clean up after the beach. Jon was decked out in his leather pants and a skin tight wife-beater shirt that made my mouth water as I reluctantly tugged on my jeans. We’d arranged to meet all the guys for dinner prior to the show and we didn’t dare arrive late yet again.

We met up with Richie and Jim before stopping to collect the rest of the band. David was already leaving his room and there was no answer when we knocked on Tico’s door.

“Yo, is Teek in there with you?” David called as he pushed open the door to Hugh’s room and we waited outside.

“Yeah, man, I’m here. Something’s up” Tico called back and we walked in to see Hugh gripping his stomach and trying to smile.

“Shit, man, you look white as a ghost” Richie observed.

“It’s nothing. I must’ve ate something that didn’t agree with me” Hugh explained, forcing a smile, but I could see beads of sweat on his brow.

I felt his forehead and he felt feverish and I was beginning to get worried. This isn’t a simple stomach ache I thought to myself as I watched him wince while another jolt of pain rippled through him.

“Jon, he needs a doctor. It might be a heart attack” I whispered.

Jon nodded and called down to the desk for an ambulance while Hugh protested he was fine. Tico looked at us and then back at Hugh and shook his head.

“Sorry, man, no sale. You gotta get this checked out” he agreed.

“We got a show tonight! I can manage…” he argued, gripping his belly again.

We waited anxiously for the ambulance and Tico and I sat with Hugh while Jon and Richie spoke in low whispers.

“This ain’t lookin’ good, bro. He can’t go on stage, whatever it is” Richie advised.

“I know, man, I know. It’s too late to get someone else, but we can change up the set and do some acoustic numbers, but we still need a bass player” Jon said thoughtfully, eyeing Jim.

“Hey, what songs do you know well enough to play?” Richie asked, looking at Jim.

“What? Me? You can’t be serious…” Jim replied with a look of disbelief.

“Our options are limited, man. It’s either that or cancel the show” Jon responded firmly.

“Jon, I’ll be fine. I’ll go to the hospital and they can give me something…” Hugh interjected but Jon dismissed him as he pushed Jim a bit harder.

“I can’t cover for Hugh! I’m no musician! I just fool around on the guitar…” Jim protested, running his hands through his hair.

“Well, you’re the best thing we got” Richie sighed.

The paramedics arrived and checked Hugh’s pulse and his blood pressure, but his temperature was the major concern. It didn’t appear to be his heart, but they suspected appendicitis as they proceeded to strap him into a gurney. Hugh wasn’t arguing any longer as it was obvious he couldn’t perform and this wasn’t the flu.

“Babe, go with Hugh, okay? We’ve gotta help Jim learn a few more songs and figure out what we can dump from the set list and…” Jon explained in a rush.

“Got it, I’ll stay with Hugh and I’ll call as soon as we know something, okay? I’ll either meet you at the venue or you can meet me at the hospital after the show” I said hurriedly as I kissed him goodbye and followed the paramedics.

“Thanks, darlin’. Call me as soon as you know” Jon called after me, turning his attention to Jim.

“You guys gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me! I’m not any good and I only know seven songs!” Jim bellowed.

“Chill, amigo. They’ll do some acoustic stuff and change up the set list; Jon can cover the bass for a number of songs. It’ll work” Tico grinned, patting him on the back.

“Yeah, dude, and don’t forget about the groupies. I can help cover you there” David chimed in.

“C’mon, let’s get to work. Somebody order some dinner from room service. At least we got time to prepare” Jon interjected, focusing now on the task of turning Jim into a bass player.

“Fuck…” Jim sighed, acknowledging defeat.


I sat quietly in the waiting room while they wheeled Hugh into the examination room. He’d smiled at me bravely as I kissed his cheek before they took him away and I toyed with the idea of calling his wife. I decided to wait and see what they said, hoping I’d have better news than I feared. I bent my head and offered a silent prayer to the Goddess while I concentrated on directing healing thoughts towards Hugh.

“McDonald? Is someone here with Hugh McDonald?” I heard a voice ask.

“Yes, I’m here! How is he?” I answered immediately.

“Are you his wife?” the nurse asked.

“No, I’m his friend. His wife is in New Jersey but I can call her. Please tell me what’s happening” I begged.

“He’s going to need surgery, but he gave consent. He’s got a hot appendix and I need you to fill out some paperwork and arrange for the payment” she replied as if it was simply routine.

“Here’s my credit card, dammit! Just charge any expenses” I spat back, shoving the card in her hand.

“Doesn’t he have any insurance?” she persisted.

“I don’t know and I don’t care. There’s more than enough on this card to cover anything he needs. Is he going to be alright?” I demanded, losing patience rapidly.

“I expect he’ll be fine, dear. It didn’t burst and they’ll get him into the O. R. as soon as they can” she replied calmly.

“As soon as they can? What are you saying?” I cried, feeling helpless as the panic set in.

“It’s been a busy night and we just had a car crash come in ahead of you and the O. R. is full” she explained tersely.

“I need to talk the doctor” I insisted. “Right now!” I screamed, pushing her out of the way as I headed toward the exam room.

“You can’t go in there!” she said adamantly, blocking my way.

“Watch me!” I hissed as I shoved her out of the way and pushed through the door.

“What’s going on in here?” I demanded, rushing to Hugh’s side as he looked at me weakly.

“It’s his appendix. He’s stable right now, but he needs surgery. We’re waiting on the O. R., but it shouldn’t be long before one opens up” the doctor in charge replied as he ushered me towards the door.

“What if it bursts while you’re waiting?” I needed to know.

“It’s not quite that serious, we’ve got time and we’re monitoring him. He’ll be fine” the doctor assured me, still moving me towards the door.

“Can’t I stay with him?” I pleaded.

“No, we don’t really encourage that, ma’am. There are plenty of folks here to keep an eye on him and we’ve given him something to help with the pain. It won’t be much longer and I’ll keep you informed. Right now we need you to fill out some paperwork” he said gently.

My heart was still thumping, but Hugh smiled at me gently and nodded his head. Maybe I’d overreacted, but I was still annoyed that he had to wait and I didn’t like the nurse’s attitude one little bit. I returned to my seat and filled out the paperwork before dialing Hugh’s wife to give her the news.


“It’s not that complicated” Richie said patiently as he showed Jim the chord progression for the third time.

“Yeah, maybe not for you” Jim complained as he tried it again, finally getting it correctly.

“This is gonna be fun” Dave snickered as he nudged Tico.

Jon shot him a warning glance as he grabbed another sandwich from the cold plate they’d ordered for dinner and scratched something else off the set list. Richie continued to instruct Jim on a couple of songs they really needed to include, while he tried diligently to remain calm. Jon had briefly considered canceling the show, but he quickly dismissed the idea in favor of readjusting the set list and including more spotlight solos. The fans in New Zealand would not be disappointed this tour.

He took another bite of his sandwich, swallowing with determination, and winced as he heard Jim make another mistake. His phone rang and he prayed silently that I had better news than he expected.

“Trish? How’s Hugh? What’s going on?” he asked and the room fell silent as they waited for news.

“It’s his appendix, Jon. He needs emergency surgery and the operating rooms are all full. There was an accident before we arrived, but Hugh’s stable right now according to the doctor” I breathed heavily.

“Did you call his wife? Did his appendix burst?” Jon fired off questions.

“I called her nd I’m keeping her up to date. It didn’t burst yet and they’re monitoring him. Wait, wait a minute…” I said, standing as I watched them wheel Hugh out of the exam room and head towards the elevator.

I ran up to the doctor, but one of the interns stopped me to explain.

“They just cleared an O.R. upstairs and we’re taking him up right now” he said hurriedly.

“Did something happen?” I asked, gripping the young man’s arm.

“Not yet” he smiled grimly.

“Trish? Trish?” Jon’s voice came over the phone.

“He’s on his way up to surgery now. It looks like his condition just got more serious, but at least they cleared an O. R. I’ll call as soon as I know more” I replied.

Jon broke the news to the guys who’d been waiting with anticipation. Jim swallowed hard, but he redoubled his efforts now that he realized there was no chance of a reprieve and he seemed better able to focus now that he knew it was up to him. They had less than an hour and it was time to head for the venue.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Sauna Part 278

Jon woke up refreshed, but he winced when he recalled how he’d fallen asleep last night. I was still sleeping soundly when he began nuzzling my ear and soon I was wide awake too.

“I’m up and awake, and incidentally, so’s Lil’ Jon” he teased and it was my turn to groan.

Jon began tickling me until I could barely breathe and I begged him to stop.

“Not until you let me redeem myself” he said with an impish little laugh.

I nodded indulgently as he released my arms and climbed over me, grinning wickedly. Jon was most certainly in fine form this morning and he lavished my body with attention until I was once again begging for mercy. As I lay there beside him, panting and exhausted, he preened like a peacock.

“I hope you’re satisfied with yourself” I commented, my voice sounding ragged.

“Only if you’re satisfied, babe” he leered menacingly.

“Oh yeah” I reassured him, my body still shuddering.

“So what have you got planned for today? We’ve got almost twelve hours before tonight’s show” he asked, flopping down on the bed and stroking my arm.

“I’d been thinking about the City to Sea Walkway, but right at the moment the ferry trip or the cable car seem more like my speed” I replied honestly.

“Let’s order breakfast and take a quick shower and we can see how you’re feeling after that” he winked.

I was feeling better after a shower and I pulled up the websites on the computer as we sat down to eat. Jon had ordered a full breakfast since he’d worked up an appetite, but the strawberries and kiwis with champagne appealed to me most. We sat down together and reviewed our sightseeing options and finally decided to go with the Dominion Post Ferry trip.

“Just you and me, no Richie or Jim?” Jon suggested and I agreed readily, relishing my time alone with Jon more than anything else.

We finished our breakfast and headed down to the lobby where the concierge arranged for a car to take us over to Queen’s Wharf where we could purchase our tickets for the ferry. The waterfront itself was impressive, and we could have easily spent the day in one of several museums, but the shimmering waves and sunshine were calling on such a glorious, mild summer day.

We purchased our tickets and boarded the ferry, finding an uncrowded spot on the deck where we could soak up the sun and get a good view of the harbor. Our first stop was Matiu/Somes Island, a unique nature preserve. The island had had a varied history over the years, but in the eighties it was reforested with native plants and trees and a major conservation effort had managed to clear the land of all non-native species of predators. Many endangered species were then reintroduced and it had since become a haven for indigenous wildlife.

We arrived on the island where our bags were thoroughly checked for any potentially harmful pests and we learned that rats brought in aboard sea-faring ships were largely responsible for much of the destruction of the once prolific population of lizards, including skinks, geckos and the famed tuatara. Even native species of insects were encouraged here and I wrinkled my nose at the picture of the giant weta, but I appreciated that nature required all manner of critters to maintain the delicate balance of wildlife.

Jon and I disembarked and began our leisurely stroll round the island. We could see the city of Wellington across the bay and we were actually close enough still to overhear the faint sounds of traffic off in the distance. I concentrated more on the sounds of the birds as the island was a paradise for avian lovers. The striking hue of the blue bay against the lush forest and craggy bluffs left me speechless and we settled ourselves down in a particularly sunny area and gazed out at the raw beauty surrounding us. Jon sat down behind me and sighed as he draped his arms round my neck, resting his chin on my shoulder.

“It sure is beautiful in this part of the world” he said, half to himself.

“In all those years you’ve been touring-you never realized all this was here?” I asked questioningly.

“Mostly just what I saw from the window of a plane or a hotel room. The ‘lost weekend’ in Australia was largely spent chasing women and drinking myself into a stupor. What a waste” he observed sadly.

“Jon, you were young and you had a lot thrown at you all at once. You were overwhelmed. You fared a lot better than most kids who achieved fame as quickly as you did” I reminded him.

“Yeah, in some ways that’s true. I’m glad I never got into drugs, but I missed an awful lot too. What I did see I was often too tired or too drunk to appreciate and that I regret. But I am grateful to have another opportunity now” he smiled, aiming the camera in my direction.

He reached out to brush a stray lock of hair from my face and our eyes met and locked. I felt a fierce need to comfort and protect him and I could imagine the child he had been when I looked in his eyes. I could still see traces of a young man’s wonder and awe, framed by the wisdom his wrinkles had brought him. Goddess, how I loved this man for who he had been, who he was and who he would always be. Jon had the soul of a wandering minstrel and he was borne to tell the tales of the things he had seen. His raw passion for life gave him his wings, but experience tempered his vision with the depth that comes from bittersweet understanding. No wonder his music spoke to my soul.

I pulled out my sketchbook which I had brought with me as I studied his face, trying to capture all that I felt at that moment. He smiled to see me so engrossed in my task and he was glad I had found my way back to my art. I had toyed with the idea for some time, but something about this quiet moment inspired me and soon I had a rough sketch that began to reflect the man that I saw. I showed it to Jon and he wiped a tear from his eye, suddenly realizing that no one had ever known him as deeply as I did.

“By the Gods, Trish, I’ve stood on a stage in front of thousands of people and I’ve posed for more shots through a photographer’s lens than I ever would have dreamed possible. But no one has ever seen me the way that you do. I feel naked before you. I hope I can always like what I see in the mirror of your eyes” he sighed.

I pulled Jon against me, cradling his head on my breast as I stroked the silken strands of his hair. His heart soaked up my love like a dry sponge, letting it fill him until he felt no more trace of the emptiness that had been with him since he was a child. This is what it was like to be loved for who you are, not what you are, he thought to himself.

We stayed there on the hilltop, holding each other until the sun was high in the sky and we knew it must be approaching noon. I gathered my things and we made our way back to the dock and watched together as the ferry approached.


It was lunchtime when we arrived in Days Bay and we walked the short distance to Eastbourne in search of a cafĂ© where we could take advantage of the beautful weather. We’d overheard another couple talking on the ferry about a restaurant named the Cobar and if the food was anything like the view we knew we were in for a treat.

The restaurant was pretty busy for a Monday afternoon, but we were able to get an outside table in the sun with a gorgeous view of the shore. We both opted for the green tea smoked chicken salad accompanied by an expresso instead of our usual wine. I was anxious to stroll through the village and do a little shopping while Jon would have been content to take a nap on the beach, but we actually had time for a little of both.

The warmth of the sun and the fresh breeze from the bay was rejuvenating as we strolled through the town, leisurely browsing the collection of shops and just soaking up the local color when my cell phone began humming.

“Trish? It’s Jack. I just wanted to let you know that everything’s fine and there has been quite a bit of excitement here at Backstage” he explained enthusiastically.

“Were you able to set up the credit for the fans who’d been misled and refund their money?” I asked anxiously.

“Yep, we got everything straightened out and there’s been a lot of positive feedback so far. I think it was a great idea and it really seemed to convey that you both value the fans and people are really responding. In fact, I think that the news has been spread by the existing members since we’ve had record numbers of new people registering all of a sudden. The only thing I’d suggest is posting a picture of the guitar you plan to raffle off, if you can get one” Jack replied.

“I think we can manage that, but Jon will have to decide which one he’s willing to part with” I laughed.

“Okay, just email me the pic once you decide and I’ll post it on the main page. Otherwise, we’re good to go” he reassured me.

“Thanks Jack- Jon and I are so grateful for everything you have done. I think we might just manage to turn things around after all” I breathed with a sigh of relief and Jon nodded in agreement.

I’d found the book I was looking for by a local author who’d written about her experiences growing up there as a young girl. Katherine Mansfield was a local icon and I was looking forward to reading more about her life in New Zealand in her book ‘At the Bay’. Jon was pulling me in the direction of the beach and I relented, having found a few souvenirs and my reading material; I was ready to follow his lead and dig my toes in the sand and relax.

The beach wasn’t crowded and we found a spot easily and settled down to enjoy the afternoon sun. We’d picked up a blanket and a bottle of wine during our jaunt in the town and Jon was soon stretched out and comfortable, lying beside me. We looked like typical townies and blended right in with the locals, though I’d noticed that no one had really approached Jon despite his lack of any particular disguise beyond sunglasses.

“I love it here” he announced, as if reading my mind. “It’s almost like being home. No one gets crazy over celebrities here” he yawned.

“I’ve noticed that too. It is nice not to worry about being mobbed everytime we go anywhere” I agreed, opening my new book as he laid his head in my lap.

“Wake me up before four so we don’t miss the ferry back” he mumbled before closing his eyes for a nap.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Sauna Part 277

Our plane touched down in Wellington just after seven and we headed straight for a favorite haunt. The Bodega had a reputation for showcasing local talent and Richie was in the mood to jam. The place wasn’t too crowded and we were soon seated at a large table near the rear, perusing the menu while we waited for drinks. Vicky had fed us pretty well on the flight from Australia, but the appetizers sounded too good to pass up and we ordered quite an assortment ranging from seafood and chicken to cheese and vegetables in order to please everyone’s palate. I traded some of my crumbled brie with plum sauce for some of Richie’s almond stuffed dates and I stole a prawn fritter from Jon when he wasn’t looking.

David kept us entertained with more stories from the band’s misspent youth while we nibbled on finger food and sampled several New Zealand wines, but the conversation died down when the band began its first set. The kids on the stage barely looked old enough for the goatees two of them sported, but they were clearly rather accomplished musicians. Richie’s eyes sparkled as we settled back and relaxed to the strains of a rather bluesy little number that was reminiscent of one of my old favorites.

“I wonder if they know ‘Thirty Days in the Hole?’ I haven’t heard that song in years” I whispered to Richie.

“I’ll betcha they do. I’ll play it for ya, Trish, if they’re open to having me join them” Richie winked back.

Surprisingly, no one seemed to recognize any of the guys despite their lack of the typical baseball hats they always wore as disguises. Richie had sent a round of drinks to the band, the “Bluenotes”, and invited them to come join us when they finished their first set and Jon explained that New Zealanders were pretty mellow and didn’t tend to fuss over celebrities. Apparently it wasn’t uncommon for other well-known musicians to pop in from time to time and check out the local talent.

“Thanks for the brews, man. Where you guys from?” the tall, blond haired lead singer asked as they raised their glasses to Richie.

“We’re from New Jersey” Richie answered and Jon hid his smile.

“Ah, America, then. Are you here on holiday?” the bass played joined in, rubbing the peach fuzz that passed as a beard.

“Not exactly, more like business, actually” Richie replied pleasantly and I had to look away to keep from laughing outright.

These kids, despite their musical talent, were clearly kids and it was obvious they didn’t have a clue who they were chatting with as Richie complimented their work. We learned that the four had grown up together and had been playing since first forming a band back in gradeschool when they were just youngsters. No wonder they sounded so tight despite being so young.

“I play a little myself now and then. Would you mind if maybe I sat in for a song or two?” Richie asked politely and the kids smiled indulgently.

“Sure, whaddya know?” the guitarist asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Know any Bon Jovi?” Richie asked with a smirk.

“Crikey, man, yeah. We wouldn’t get any gigs if we didn’t know some, what can you play?” the lead singer chimed in.

I thought David would bust a gut trying to contain himself as Richie suggested a few songs and I felt Jon squeeze my knee under the table, encouraging me to just play along. I could see from the smile on Jim’s face that he was filing this all away for a future book chapter and I couldn’t resist getting in the act now myself.

“Aren’t they playing here in New Zealand pretty soon? I thought I heard something on the radio” I ventured.

“Yeah, but the gig’s completely sold out. We were gonna go, but we couldn’t get tickets” the drummer whined.

“Who wants to see a bunch of old farts anyway? They’re probably pretty lame now at their age, what are they now, in their sixties?” the lead singer added.

“Yeah, they’ve been around since the stone age” the bassist agreed.

Even Tico almost choked on his wine, but David’s eyes were brimming with mischief. Jon squeezed my knee again while I hid my smile with hand and waited.

“Yeah, kid, I don’t think I was even born when they first started playing” David said with a perfectly straight face.

“Hey, I think it’s time we got back on stage. We’ll call you up when we’re ready for the oldies, okay?” the guitarist nodded as he nudged the rest toward the stage. “Thanks for the beers.”

The band went back to the stage and we all began talking at once.

“Stone age? Fuckin’ little pipsqueak” Tico muttered.

“Shit, they could be our kids, ya know” Hugh reminded them all.

“Thanks, man, just what I needed to hear” Tico replied, shaking his head.

“I’ve gotta get them tickets to the show now” Jon commented, dialing his tour manager.

“I wonder what ‘oldie’ they’ll choose for me to play?” Richie laughed.

“You’re gonna jam it up, no matter what, right, bro?” David encouraged with conspiratorial aplomb.

“Nooooooooo….” Richie grinned.

When the time came, they announced they’d play a few audience requests and the guitarist nodded to Richie to join them. Richie carefully looked at the two guitars that were available and after making his selection, he deftly slipped on the shoulder strap and smiled magnanimously. The opening notes to ‘Bad Medicine’ flew from his fingers and suddenly the remainder of the audience sat up and took notice.

Richie was dazzling as he ripped through the chords, interjecting a modest solo at an opportune moment and I saw the expression on the guitarist’s face change to one of respect. Next came ‘Wanted’ and Richie joined the lead singer, adding his voice to the chorus as Jon hummed along softly beside me. After a few moments of consultation with the drummer and the guitarists, they played ‘Thirty Days in the Hole’, the Humble Pie classic I’d wanted to hear, but Richie had to pull Jon up to sing lead as the kid didn’t know the words. Richie stayed on stage for another few songs at the band’s urging as it was clear by now that the ‘guy from New Jersey’ knew how to rock.

The audience applauded loudly when he was finished and Richie shook hands with the guys before stepping down to join us again. Jon had managed to get hold of the tour manager and after a bit of swearing and insistence, he’d informed me that Rick was on his way over with tickets for the show tomorrow night. When Rick arrived, Jon checked the tickets and smiled ruefully as he handed them over to Richie.

“Guess we’ll show ‘em what old farts can really do, eh?” Richie chuckled with satisfaction as he stuffed them back into an envelope and laid them on the stage, quietly mouthing “thank you” as we hurriedly made our way out the door. The guys all did a “high five” as we hit the street and I filled Rick in on what had just taken place.

“They’ll recognize Bon Jovi from now on” he grinned at me. “Those were front row seats.”


When we arrived at our hotel, we checked in and made our way to our rooms. Our luggage had already been deposited and I unpacked my bathrobe and slipped out of my clothes. Jon was sprawled on the bed, flipping through channels on the TV and eyeing me at the same time.

“I feel like a long, hot soak in the tub. Wanna join me?” I coaxed.

“I was just waiting for an invitation” he grinned, yanking his t-shirt over his head.

I poured in some scented bath oil I’d brought from home and lit a few candles, taking Jon’s hand as I stepped into the tub. He followed willingly, sliding his arms around my waist and drawing me close. I drew my fingers across his chest, toying with the soft, downy curls as I gazed into his eyes, dissolving into their sapphire depths. Jon stroked my cheek and smiled as he brushed my lips with his finger and I instinctively took it into my mouth, eliciting a low, gutteral growl of desire from deep within him.

He reached for my hand and placed it over his stiffening erection and groaned softly when my hand closed over his shaft. I lovingly stroked him as I let my eyes wander over his body, noting the chiseled definition of his pecs and the sculptured ab muscles that led their way down to the prize. I lowered myself into the steaming bath with Jon still attached and I pushed him back into the water. I knelt my head down and slowly fed on his length while he leaned back even further with the heaviest of sighs.

I licked ever so lightly, tasting his musk, as my hair swirled around on top of the water, framing my face. The flickering candlelight and the heavy curtain of steam played tricks on his sight and he mused for a moment that some fairy nymph had appeared to seduce him. I dragged my nails along the tender flesh of his thighs and he purred like a kitten as I continued to bathe him with my tongue. I could feel his blood pulsing as I swallowed him deeply and he rewarded me with a loud moan. It wasn’t long before I was rewarded with the first splash of sweet cream as his body twitched and convulsed under my ministrations.

Jon laid there limply as I reached for a sponge and began washing him gently from head to toe. It was a pleasure to see him relax and I savored the opportunity as I kneaded his scalp with my fingers. The warmth of the water and the pulsating orgasm had drained him of energy and he began to drift off to sleep as I rinsed his hair out. I finished bathing myself and I smiled with contentment as I heard a low rumble escape him, signaling me that he was out like a light. I hated to wake him, but I leaned in for a kiss and he stirred as his lips answered mine.

“Did I fall asleep?” he mumbled, still sounding a bit groggy.

“Yes, love, you did. I think we’d better get you to bed before we both shrivel up” I teased.

“Yeah, shrinkage ain’t what I’m aiming for here” he chuckled as he sat up and groaned.

I helped him up and toweled him off and he looked at me through heavy lidded eyes as he stifled a yawn.

“Go to bed, baby. I’ll be along shortly” I laughed.

“But…” he protested.

“Jon, you can barely keep your eyes open and I’m going to just finish up here. Now go” I grinned, adding a quick swat on his butt as I just couldn’t resist.

“I’m just a sex object” he lamented as he dutifully obeyed and shambled off to the bed, promptly falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.