Monday, April 27, 2009

The Sauna Part 296

The cats all came running when they heard the door and Floyd stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Jon. The other three boys crowded around us and cried for attention while Floyd just sat down and stared. Jon reached in his pocket and pulled out some cat treats and I had to laugh. He really had learned how to work an audience, I thought to myself.

Floyd shuffled closer as Jon knelt on the floor and held out his offering. The old cat approached and sniffed at his hand and finally accepted a morsel before the other three nudged him out of the way. Jon spread the remaining treats on the floor and stood up, watching as they devoured their snacks.

“You didn’t forget” I observed with a smile as I reached in my pocket and added the emergency treats I’d brought along with me.

“You didn’t trust me!” he laughed as he lunged forward and began tickling me.

“My mistake!” I squealed, but it was already too late as he had managed to pin me down on the couch.

The tickling gave way to kissing and soon we had recreated the scene from the limo, but this time I stopped him.

“Baby, let’s go upstairs and warm up that bed” I suggested and he nodded enthusiastically.

We spent the next couple hours in bed getting reacquainted until the sun had gone down and we realized we were pretty hungry. Jon hadn’t had pizza in months and he was jonesing for a pie with all the fixings so I called up the local parlor and ordered a large one. We snuggled in bed after we’d eaten and Jon fell asleep almost immediately. I covered him up and tucked him in as I stepped lightly out of the bed to put the leftovers away before the cats had a feast. When I returned, Opie had taken my place and was stretched out beside him, snoring almost as loudly as Jon. I took this opportunity to return a few calls and answer some emails and I saw that Richie had replied to the last one I’d sent.

We’ll all be in Denver for the party-all the guys know, so don’t worry, darlin’. Is there anything that you need me to do? I know it’s gonna be hard for you now to keep it a secret-Jon’s gonna be sticking to you like glue now that he’s home. I’ll check my mail regularly, so just send me a message if you think of anything I can help with-
Love ya doll,

I wrote Richie back and asked him to check in with Elway and gave him the names of a few guests I didn’t know very well and asked him to follow up as I hadn’t heard anything back. I’d asked folks to email their R.S.V.P. as I was afraid Jon would find out if people left messages or he happened to see all the mail. Dot and Stephanie had both written back, but I knew they were coming as I’d spoken to Steph shortly after I returned home. She and the kids were all anxious to see Jon and they were planning to stay with us during the week right after Jon returned home. A week off from school was an added benefit that came with Jon’s lifestyle.

There were over eighty replies to the invitations I’d sent and I had to check every one as I didn’t recognize most of the senders. I sent a quick reply to acknowledge that I’d received their response and I provided the location and further details about the event. I was disappointed that Sir Elton could not attend, but he promised to send me a check in the mail and that he’d be in touch when he was back in the States.

An email from Jim arrived as I was writing replies and he informed me that he was flying back to Buffalo in a couple of days. Cherie was anxious to see him and she wanted to come to the party, but she wouldn’t fly. They’d take the train here together and then they would head out to California and stay with Richie for a few days. Jim sounded hopeful, but he wasn’t making any further plans until they’d had time to talk. Cherie could be hard to read, I thought to myself, but I was glad that I’d get to see her and judge for myself since she didn’t “do” email.

I was checking off names on my guest list when I heard a small noise and turned to see Jon in the doorway, rubbing his eyes.

“Babe, come to bed. What are you doing?” he asked, sounding a bit irritable.

“Just catching up on some emails, love” I replied, closing the screens on the computer.

“It’s Sunday night-can’t it wait until morning?” he coaxed.

“Yes, I suppose it can” I agreed as I shut down the computer. “Is there room for me in the bed now?” I teased.

“Darlin’, I’ll make room” he smirked, taking my hand and leading me back to the bedroom.


We’d gotten a fair amount of snow during the night and Jon wanted to take out the snowmobile as he hadn’t had much time to play when he’d bought it. I fixed us a good breakfast and we hopped in the shower before dressing warmly to deal with the weather. I had to admit that the snowmobile was a great toy and it felt like a substitute for a ride on the Harley. The fresh fallen snow made everything shimmer and the world looked like a frozen wonderland, filled with adventure.

We saw multiple deer tracks and caught a glimpse of a pheasant as it flew from the bushes, startled by the noise of the engine. We encountered no moose or bears, but we saw plenty of hares as they leapt from our path as we sped through the woods. We paused by the pond, still frozen over, before heading back to the house to warm up. The crisp, frigid air was invigorating and I felt less fatigued than I had since my return.

I made us some cocoa while Jon built a fire and we curled up on the couch to snuggle. The crackling wood and the heat from the blaze had a hypnotic effect and I felt Jon’s body grow limp by my side. He was still recovering from serious jet leg and it was no wonder that he fell fast asleep. I cradled his head in my lap, stroking the silky blond mane that rested against me.

Goddess, he’s beautiful! I traced the lines on his face, smoother now that he was relaxed, and I studied the full pout of his lips as they twitched in his sleep. I noticed a few strands of gray amidst the golden crown on his head and I smiled to myself as I imagined growing old with this man. It was good to be home.

The calming effect of Jon’s gentle snoring and the warmth of the fire soon lulled me asleep and it was easy to undertand how the cats could nap as much as they did. It was mid afternoon when I awoke and I felt a sudden desire to do something domestic. I carefully lifted Jon’s head and he stirred only a little as I replaced my lap with a pillow. Eddie readjusted his position and stood up and stretched before turning around in a circle and settling back down.

I went into the kitchen and hunted around, finding ingredients to use for a stew. I defrosted some beef and cut up some vegetables and I found a few cans of beef broth to use as a base. I added a package of onion soup and more water after searing the beef in the pot. I set out a bottle of red wine to add after everything cooked a bit more and searched again until I’d located a mix to make cornbread.

The aroma from the kitchen reached Jon’s nostrils and he opened his eyes and sniffed at the air. The fire was dying and he sat up for a moment before reaching to add another couple of logs to the brazier.

“Smells good, darlin’. Watcha makin’?” he purred in my ear as his arms encircled my waist and his chin tickled my shoulder.

“Beef stew and cornbread” I sighed, leaning back in his arms.

“I wanted to take you out on the town, but this actually feels even better” he smiled, closing his eyes. “Have I got time to make a few phone calls? I wanted to call the kids and tell them I’m home and I ‘spose I should check in with my office and see what’s on my schedule” he said heavily.

“This won’t be ready for over an hour, so go ahead” I nodded, knowing his assistant would share the fake news about his need to appear at a press conference on his birthday.

I busied myself in the kitchen while Jon made his phone calls and I could hear him chattering away with the kids who were excited to be coming to visit next week. Jon sounded excited too and was looking forward to the chance to spend time with his family and they discussed what they would do when they were here. Next came the call to his assistant, Debbie, and I heard the groan when she shared the news.

“Geez, Deb, that’s my birthday! Elway’s gonna owe me for this one” he grumbled.

“I know, I told him that but he insisted it wouldn’t take all that long and you’d be free for the rest of the day and the evening. I’m sorry, boss, but it sounded like an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to pass up and the whole team’s gonna be there” she said, playing along.

“Yeah, alright, I suppose I can do it. Maybe we can find something to do for the day in Denver” he acquiesced and I let out a sigh; so far so good.

“So, husband, what’s on the schedule?” I asked, feigning curiosity.

“I’m off the hook for this week and through the weekend while the kids are here, but I’ve got an appearance in Denver on Monday. You’d think I could get off for my birthday, but Elway planned this event to promote the AFL and the Soul’s gonna be there so I’ve gotta show up. Any ideas of what we could do with the kids in Denver?” he asked, shaking his head.

“We’ll come up with something. I’m sorry it had to be on your birthday” I sympathized.

“Yeah, well, at least it’s not the whole day. Maybe there’s a museum or something you can see with the kids or some other shit” he muttered.

“Maybe they’d like to come along for the press conference?” I suggested. “Steph’s as much into football as you are” I reminded him.

“I doubt it-there’s no game, just a press conference and some schmoozing and I hate dragging the kids along for that sort of thing” he complained, frowning.

“Listen, don’t worry, it won’t take all that long and we can always go to the mall in a pinch. I’ll look online later and see what else there might be to do” I reassured him.

“Thanks, babe. I’m glad you understand” he replied, stealing a piece of the cornbread I’d just taken out of the oven.

“Why don’t you open the wine and sit down. This is almost ready, but I need a little wine to add to the stew” I hinted and he grinned as I handed him the bottle.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sauna Part 295

The remainder of the week seemed to fly by as I found myself occupied with phone calls and planning, work and entertaining, and I felt as if my cell phone had become permanently attached to my ear. Eva and I managed to squeeze in a few shopping trips and an afternoon at the spa, but when Sunday finally arrived I had run out of steam. Eva had flown home yesterday to prepare for Tico’s return and I was anxiously awaiting Jon’s arrival at the airport. I was looking forward to just spending some time at home relaxing with Jon.

I had barely slept at all the previous night as I was just too tightly wound and I was glad to have a few moments alone to be by myself. So much had happened since I’d been home and I only had eight days remaining before Jon’s birthday bash and there was still plenty to do. I was exhausted from all the preparations and excited about Jon’s return, but I was nervous about getting everything accomplished that I still needed to do without Jon getting wise to the plan.

As I waited for his plane at the airport, I paced back and forth and my mind drifted from reviewing my mental checklist to my conversation with Jon’s parents. I’d been greatly relieved when I’d spoken to Jon’s Dad after Tony’s suggestion and John Sr. had reassured me that Carol had sworn to be on her best behavior if I would allow her to attend the birthday celebration. He gave me his word that she hadn’t had a drink since the whole episode with Backstage and that she greatly regretted her actions in that situation. It wasn’t until after I’d spoken to her myself and she’d convinced me of her sincerity that I relented and agreed she could come. Goddess, I hope I made the right decision.

Matt, on the other hand, was a whole other story. According to both John Sr. and Tony, Matt was still in denial of the role he played in the whole Backstage affair and continued to insist that he was only looking out for Jon and that I was to blame for all the problems that occurred. Given this, there was absolutely no way that I could possibly invite him and I doubted that that rift between Jon and his brother would ever be repaired. I still had misgivings about Carol, but her behavior with me when we spoke was enormously different. She took full responsibility for what had happened, admitting her participation from the beginning, and she confessed to having poisoned Matt against me. Sobriety was an amazing revelation, she shared.

I wanted to believe her for Jon’s sake, but I did so with reservations. She’d hurt me badly and she’d nearly destroyed Jon and I felt very protective of him after what happened. I couldn’t have cared less at that point about mending the relationship with her for my sake, but the therapist in me knew that healing her relationship with her son was the best thing for Jon. And Jon was my only concern. If there was any likelihood that sobriety and insight could undo the damage, it was worth an attempt at reconciliation. It might just be the best gift Jon could receive.

I checked my watch again as the thoughts swirled in my head. His plane would have landed and he should be clearing security momentarily. I scanned the sea of faces that were passing through the gate, searching for the one that I longed to see. Every blond head I saw from a distance made my heart skip a beat until finally I saw the one that belonged to my husband.

Jon began waving vigorously the moment he spotted me and he pushed his way through the throng of people and ran as fast as he could. His heart was pounding and the smile on his face could have lit up an entire city block as he caught me in his arms and swung me around, mindless of the small crowd that had gathered nearby. I noticed them first, but paid little attention as I was caught in the fervor of our reunion.

“Baby! Gods, how I missed you!” he whispered hoarsely into my ear.

“I’m so glad your home!” I breathed breathlessly as he set me back on the ground and I kissed him hard on the lips.

“Let’s get the hell outta here” he announced, pulling me along toward the exit.

“I think you’ve been spotted” I said under my breath as I nodded toward the small knot of people who were watching us with some interest.

“Yeah, but nevermind that. There was a woman on the plane who recognized me and she chewed my ear off all the way here from NYC. She got her autograph already, so I’m done with the rock star gig. I just wanna be with my wife” he grinned mischievously.

Jon had taken a commercial flight here from NYC as it was actually faster and he’d only brought along his carry on bag, preferring to ship the rest of our personal items since we didn’t really need anything right away. I’d opted for a limo this time instead of driving myself, and without any baggage, we were able to effect a pretty speedy departure and avoid any further delays by potential fans. Once in the limo, I crawled into Jon’s lap and welcomed him home with a less public kiss.

“Damn, it’s good to be home” he chuckled when I released my lock on his lips.

Jon filled me in on the last shows of the tour and I was happy to hear that they’d not been disappointed by the response of the Japanese fans. The band had always loved performing in Japan and they’d never forgotten how the fans there had helped support them in the earliest years when they were struggling for recognition. Times may have changed and their fortunes had turned, but their fans in the Orient had always been true and these last shows had been no exception. There was something about seeing folks who were ordinarily rather reserved turn into a fist-pumping, lyric-shouting mass that was always a thrill and he recounted his memories of the first show they did there.

“You know, at first, we were a little bit startled at how well-behaved the crowds always were when they entered the venues and took their seats in a pretty orderly fashion. It wasn’t like it was here in the states or even in Europe. It kinda seemed more like they were attending a piano recital, not a rock concert” he explained and I nodded for him to continue.

“We were pretty intimidated in the beginning and it felt like a challenge-could we work ’em up enough to get loud and rowdy? I gotta tell you, I think that made us better performers because we had to work at it to get a reaction but it always paid off in spades. We learned pretty quick that it took effort to work an audience and we got really good at it. I think we owe our success as a touring band, at least in part, to the Japanese fans. They might be slow to warm up, but once they got going-well, damn, they made the audiences at home seem pretty tame!” he smiled broadly. “We always leave Japan feeling like rock stars” he finished.

I was sorry I hadn’t had the chance to experience the Japanese audience and see the difference first hand, but I knew there would be opportunities again in the future. If I’d stayed behind, I’d never have been able to pull off the party I’d planned. I knew Jon didn’t quite understand why I’d been so anxious to get home, but in another week he would see why.

“So how was your visit with Eva? Did you two do your part to help the economy?” he prodded.

“She’s a shopping machine! I thought I was a shopper, but she made me feel like a novice” I grinned.

“Hell, I hope her bad habits didn’t rub off” he teased, kissing me affectionately on the nose.

I started to defend Eva, but Jon’s eyes had darkened and he was already engaged in unbuttoning my blouse. My words died in my throat as he cupped my breast in his hand and pushed me back onto the seat, crawling on top of me as he lowered his lips to meet mine. My mind went blank and the longing to feel him inside me was overwhelming as I instinctively reached to loosen his belt. Jon straightened up for a moment and replaced my hand with his own, shedding his jeans like he was running a race. We really weren’t that far from home, but trying to stop now was out of the question. I might just as well have tried to stop a speeding bullet with my hand.

I hoisted my skirt and raised my legs to his hips, yanking him down and gripping him tightly with the strength of a vice. Jon plunged into me, drilling deeper and faster as his body crashed against mine with each thrust and parry. Our rhythm was desperate, ferocious and insatiable. Finally he exploded inside me, releasing his seed like a depth charge within the walls of my abyss just as I too found nirvana.

We lay there together, sweaty and panting and grinning like loons. The windows were foggy and our overheated bodies were spent, but we were blessedly peaceful, having surrendered at last to the call of our natures. And without a moment to spare I realized as I heard the sound of tires upon gravel as the limo pulled up the drive. We quickly sat up and straightened our clothes and I wiped at the smudge of lipstick I’d left on Jon’s collar. When the driver opened the door, our silly smiles and the remnants of my kiss were the only apparent signs of our frolic.

“Home” Jon sighed as I turned the key in the lock and we stepped over the threshhold into our waiting house.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Sauna Part 294

I squinted my eyes closed, fending off the pain in my head as the morning light filtered in through the window. My brain ached more now than it had back in college after a frat party. Damn, I’m old I heard myself say.

I shifted in bed, trying to make myself comfortable, but I soon realized that I needed drugs if I wanted to dull the pain. I sat up slowly and took a deep breath before I managed to stand, swaying as I gripped the edge of the nightstand. I groaned and Eddie raised his head, regarding me with disdain and mocking my foolishness as he stretched, yawned and curled back into a ball. No sympathy there, I scowled.

I stumbled along into the bathroom and avoided the mirror as I opened the medicine cabinet and fumbled around in the dark. I’d already decided I’d rather risk an overdose than turn on the light. Finally, I found the aspirin and emptied a handful into my palm. I popped four in my mouth and filled up a cup, swallowing hard, before grabbing the toothpaste. Brushing my teeth seemed like too complicated an endeavor, so I squeezed some onto my tongue and swallowed as I tried not to gag. It slid down my throat, joining the rest of the toxins that were swirling around in my gut. I relieved my bladder and crawled back to bed, sinking into oblivion following a prayer and an oath.

When I became conscious again, the headache had somewhat subsided and I could stand without feeling dizzy. Food was not on the menu, but coffee was desperately needed so I headed down to the kitchen where I found Eva attempting to feed the cats and make coffee.

“They kept waking me up and crying for food” she explained as I helped fill their bowls and she turned her attention towards the coffee.

“Sorry. They probably gave up on trying to rouse me and decided to try their luck with you” I apologized.

“S’okay, I needed to get up anyway. Shit, we need coffee” she grinned. “We really had quite a party last night.”

As the caffeine slowly entered our bloodsteam, we began to revive and memories of yesterday crept into our awareness. Soon we were giggling as we recounted how we’d tortured Tico and Jon and that led us to sharing various stories of sexual exploits. I learned much more than I needed to know and I wondered if I’d ever be able to look Tico in the eye ever again.

It was late afternoon when I finally felt ready to tackle the stack of mail that had accumulated in my absence. Eva decided to soak in the hot tob in lieu of a spa and I waded through email and paper requests for funds from the Foundation. It took time to sort out the legitimate requests from the dubious ones, but by seven o’clock I’d made a huge dent and I realized I was finally hungry.

We decided we’d go out to dinner and perhaps rent some movies and we drove the short distance into Pagosa Springs. After what happened to Jon and I on our first trip into town, he’d programmed our address into the GPS so all I needed to do was enter our destination where we wanted to go. We decided that good, old-fashioned greasy food was the best cure for a hangover and we headed for Sonic.

After satisfying our appetites with hamburgers and fries, we stopped at the video store and picked up several DVD’s of movies we’d both wanted to see. We both agreed on ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘Postcards from the Edge’ since both Eva and I really loved Meryl Streep. We grabbed a couple of Julia Roberts movies just for good measure and I wanted to see ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again after visiting New Zealand and besides, well, Viggo Mortensen was hotter than hell.

The week flew by pretty fast as Eva and I watched movies in the evening, shopped away the blues during the day, soothed our frustrated sexual desires with junk food and ice cream and indulged ourselves with spa treatments at the Hot Springs. I managed to catch up on all the paperwork for the Foundation and Backstage while Eva entertained herself drawing sketches of jewelry designs for Tico to create. All in all, we had a wonderful time and Eva’s companionship took the edge off my loneliness while Jon was away.

I bounced some ideas off Eva for Jon’s birthday surprise, but nothing had really stuck out as a terrific idea. I wanted to do something really special to celebrate, but what do you do to surprise a Rock God that has everything? I also wanted whatever I chose to involve the guys in the band and a few hundred of Jon’s closest friends.

“What about sponsoring a huge charity fundraiser to benefit the Soul?” Eva suggested.

“I was thinking about that, but I want Jon to be able to relax and be among friends rather than have to entertain guests. Plus, wouldn’t it be rude to ask guests to pay to come to a party?” I replied, voicing my concerns.

“Well, it would if you put it like that” Eva snorted. “But…” she went on, pursing her lips.

“Yes, go on, I’m listening” I coaxed.

“Set it up as a huge birthday bash, invite only his friends and family who you think he’d want to attend and just ask them to make a donation instead of a gift” Eva smiled as she laid out her plan.

“You know, that could work” I agreed, mulling over the possibilities.

“And it would save all the guests of having to worry about what to get him” she added.

“Okay, that sounds reasonable enough. But I want a theme, something to make it more than just a big party. Something special-you know, memorable” I shared.

“Like when Elton John did the purple theme?” Eva asked, thinking aloud.

“Yeah, something like that, but …” I replied, thinking about what would be fun and different.

“Maybe a sports theme?” Eva suggested.

“No, that’s not quite elaborate enough. People would just come dressed in team jerseys or baseball caps” I answered, wrinkling my nose. “I want something more dramatic-like a masquerade ball” I explained, the seeds taking shape.

“A masquerade ball? Now that would be fun…and different…and memorable” Eva agreed.

“But…” I announced, raising my eyebrows in anticipation.

“What else?” Eva asked enthusiastically.

“To emphasize the charity piece, instead of costumes, we’ll instruct everyone to dress in Soul jerseys!” I finished excitedly.

“That sounds perfect! You could get Jon to show up in a Soul jersey, no problem, and it would be in keeping with the theme without having to divulge the secret. You could still make it a surprise party and just tell him it’s a Soul press conference or something” she breathed.

“Exactly!” I said with a satisfied smirk. “He won’t suspect a thing.”

I immediately started making phone calls, beginning with John Elway who I knew would be able to help me devise an appropriate ruse. I outlined my idea and enlisted his aid and he pledged his support and assistance. He even offered to locate and reserve an appropriate venue for the event in Denver and he’d make sure that Jon thought it was a press conference he’d be attending. He’d make sure there were plenty of jerseys for everyone who’d be attending. I thanked him for his generosity and began crafting an invitation that would spell out all of the details for all the guests.

I contacted the accountant for the Foundation and we worked out the details for setting up a separate account for all the donations. I’d ask people to send them directly to me and I’d deposit them in the account. John called me back to say that he’d found a place and gave me the details to include in the invites.

The next task I had was to make out the guest list and get the invitations out as quickly as possible. There wasn’t much time and I knew that many people would already be unavailable, but I was glad that I’d begun contacting a number of potential guests back when I knew I wanted to do something for Jon’s birthday. I’d explained that I was planning a surprise and I wasn’t sure what it would be or where, but I’d asked folks to save the date and I’d tell them the details when the time got a bit closer.

Eva and I worked feverishly to get everything done as this was now evolving into a much bigger project than I’d anticipated at first. The object now was also to raise as much money as possible, not just invite Jon’s closest circle. The guest list kept growing as we kept thinking of more and more names to add to the list, but I hesitated when it came to Jon’s family.

“Tony, of course, but definitely not Matt. I can’t not invite Jon’s father, but what should I do about his mother?” I wondered aloud, feeling dismayed. “How can I invite him and not her?”

“Shit, there’s a debacle. Why don’t you call Tony and see what he thinks. Maybe he can come up with a strategy that can keep Carol away without alienating John Sr.” she suggested.

“Good idea. I’ll call him right now” I said, holding my breath. Please, Goddess, guide me in this.