24 Hours

Just having Tessa close cured most of the itchy skin he'd been living with for months now. And driving some of his demons into her more than willing body gave him a boost to get into the show. The urge to drag out the tried and true setlists was huge. He knew what the crowd would do, he knew how to drag the emotions and the screams out of fans both longtime and the casual. But his heart wanted something just a little more. And he gave everything to the show. And catching Tessa in the crowd he was glad he played I'll Be There For You and took the lead for once.
The glisten of tears on his wife's face, the sea of faces singing his words back to him, and finding that perfect harmony with Richie filled him up. Sometimes a crowd was just magic, and the Sydney people were certainly there to party. And with each song he gave more, played harder, pulled more from the guys until the stadium's roar of approval was a testament to the years he'd sacrificed, the moments he missed with his family, and the days he couldn't be with Tessa.
It was hard to remember that sometimes, but looking out on the waving hands and smiling faces the familiar notes of Wanted meant as much the first time he played them as it did tonight. And he played like it would be his last night, even though for the first time in a long time it felt like maybe it wouldn't be.
And with the bows that night he held onto his brothers and smiled his thanks to the people of Sydney. He wasn't sure they knew just what their generosity of spirit did for him, but he knew. And when Tessa launched herself into his arms off the side of the stage he laughed and swung her around. 
"Can we pack them up and bring them to NJ?" She asked and slid her arm around his back and Richie's as they rushed into the back. 
"I know! Right?" Richie's brown eyes were shining with delight and the adrenaline high of a good show. The mishmash of voices didn't push him into his cave tonight. He wanted to be with everyone. Happy to share in the stories and the rehashing of songs. Tonight it didn't matter that These Days was a little off. He wasn't going to pick it apart.
Tomorrow would be soon enough to obsess on what didn't work.
Tonight he just wanted his friends and his wife.
10am Sydney time 12/18/10
"Why did you keep pouring wine into me?" Tessa moaned from beneath her pillow. 
"You were the one that thought you could drink me under the table while still on the fringes of jet lag," Jon said sitting on the edge of the bed, tying his running shoes. He grinned as she closed the pillow around her head. He'd pulled the drapes open ready to run off his sins from the night before. He'd rather stay in bed and coax her awake, but he had a show to do tonight and if he didn't get the last of it out of his system he'd be dying in the second hour.
He slapped her ass. "You could come run with me."
"Bite me." The words were muffled, but yep...that was definitely what he heard. So he did.
She shrieked and couldn't quite stop a giggle as she flipped the sheet back over her ass. Since that was exactly what he was looking for he stood up. "It'll make you feel better."
She flipped the pillow back and squinted at the sun that was trying to burn off the rain clouds. She sat up, her hair tousled deliciously. "Sadist."
What he wanted to do was slide back into the bed and show her just how evil he could be. He'd bet her pussy would taste like wine with how many bottles they'd gone through the night before.
"I know that look."
"What look?" he asked innocently.
One creamy thigh slid out of the sheets and swayed in invitation. When she let the downy comforter slide down to show a pretty pink nipple his mouth dried even more than the wine hangover had already left him with. "I bet my workout trumps an hour on the treadmill."
She smiled that secret smile and he let his sneaker thud to the floor.
And she did, in fact, taste like wine.
When he finally left her he had to sprint for soundcheck. His day was a bit fuller than usual thanks to a QnA session that he didn't normally allow Matt to schedule. Even the usual setlist conversation didn't piss him off today. Sated off a two hour fuck-a-thon with Tessa--his wife certainly didn't lie, he did enjoy her version of a workout far more than the treadmill--he sat on God's most uncomfortable stool and deciphered the oddly lyrical mix of accents that filled the small room.
He tried not to look out the window at the rain sleeting down. And when the usual, I-just-wanted-to-tell-you-how-much-your-music-means-to-me's started he tried desperately not to roll his eyes. He was proud of his body of work and loved that his fans loved it just as much as he did, but compliments never sat well on his shoulders. And when Tessa slipped in just as yet another fan fawned over the last time Bon Jovi'd been in Sydney and the review he'd written up he caught the finger Tessa'd held up to staunch the eye roll that was starting.
He forced his lips into a genial smile and took the pamphlet the guy had taken the time to create for him. He just didn't know how to react to the adoration. It made him feel stupid. How many times could you say thank you and sound genuine? But having a fan for a wife had taught him a few things and he made the effort to make sure they knew he appreciated it.  Just because he felt stupid didn't mean the fan had to too.
And when his eyes found Tessa again, she was at the back of the room against the wall with her arms crossed, a sassy cocked hip matched the smirk on her face and he relaxed into the rest of the fan club event. How many times did she tell him that he had to get out of his hotel room and get in touch with his fans? How many times did she have to tell him he was starting to act like Elvis?
And he knew he could lock himself away and check out with an Ambien and a bottle of wine the deeper he got into a tour. And no one would say anything to him except his wife. Kissing ass was what he was used to--give the order and it was taken...period. He hated when his wife was right. And she almost always was.
So when he took a good look at the setlist, he took the time to actually read it. Seeing a few older songs on there, he tapped his pen against the sheet. Maybe tailoring the songs just a little more would be a good idea. He sure as fuck was sick of hearing about the Bon Jovi boards and fan club boards that went on and on about the setlist. Didn't they realize that he did change things up compared to other bands out there? For fuck's sake, he had to have Tony redo the entire light show when he threw a song out there. Playing certain songs, while a fan favorite, could kill the timing and the mood of a show. 
But why would they think like that? It was always his job to be the bad guy.
And normally it didn't piss him off when people bitched. He had to think about the masses, not necessarily the ultimate fans. Not when he had 55,000 people in a stadium and only a percentage of them were the uber fans.  And the lull in the conversation made him realize he'd tuned out just a little too much. He smiled and gave a pat answer that he could regurgitate like lyrics and caught Tessa rolling her eyes.
Damn woman kept him honest. He scribbled a star next to one of the songs and smirked at her.
Time to wind up his wife a little bit tonight.


Reach For You

When she woke, the bed was empty save for a piece of hotel stationary propped next to her.
Had to work.
Meet me at soundcheck if you're awake by 4.
Call for the car service, they know where to bring you.
She stretched, her body aching from the flight, her very talented husband, and too little sleep. The idea of slipping back into sleep held a lot of appeal, but the chance to see Sydney and her extended family pulled at her more. She rolled off the bed and stumbled into the bathroom. The tub called to her aching body, but she knew she'd be a slug if she got into that warm water for even ten minutes. After taking a brisk shower, she slathered herself in lotion and stepped into a pair of shorts. After a quick check of her phone she took the extra step to figure out Fahrenheit and Celsius and gasped. "98 degrees?" A damn far cry from the 20 degrees at home that was for sure.
She dug into her bag and went for a tank top. She'd have to go shopping for summer clothes to get through the rest of the week.
She called downstairs, and sure enough they had a car waiting for her in less than ten minutes. Sometimes being married to the man in the band had perks that was for sure. 
The sedan was very much what she was used to in SoHo and she climbed in with a smile to her driver, his tag said: Ben. "Can you take the scenic route to the stadium?"
"Of course. Anything in particular?"
She thought for a moment, then smiled at him. "Show me your Sydney, Ben." 
Startled, he nodded and grinned back at her in the rear-view mirror. "Good on ya."
Figuring she said the right thing, she relaxed back against the butter soft leather. It was warmed from the sun, but a nice cool air kept her comfortable. He headed out of the city and through back roads. The houses were sometimes crammed, sometimes broken out into suburbs. All of it was like a city and a village merged into a living monument to the people of the area. Parks with crazy playgrounds bled into standard city streets. Street vendors hawked their wares as they got closer to the coast. Tempted to jump out and shop, she held  herself back--barely.
"Hold on Miss Tessa."
She gripped the headrest in front of her and they climbed a back road full of bumps and gouges. Just as she thought maybe she'd made a mistake, the most spectacular view of the ocean and a stark beach came into view. Wild and gorgeous, the waves crashed along the spikey grass. Surfers curled into the wide breakers and flipped gracefully over the foam only to do it all over again.
Finally, he made the descent to another village. The colors and sounds made her open her window for awhile. The thick sea air and heavy heat blew through the car, but it felt good. The sun kisssed her skin and the briney scent of ocean and sea-life drew her gaze. Piers and fishermen turned into public beaches, and finally the roads went from sandy to pavement as they headed back into Sydney proper.
The generic city streets blended into greens as rich as home and through the trees she saw what looked like a roller coaster. She realized they were close to the stadium and blinked at the size. She knew her husband was playing a big place here, but this was massive. Ben pulled around the back and she saw the familiar train of busses and the hive of roadies she was used to. "Thanks so much, Ben. I loved your Sydney."
"I'm glad. Thank you for making it a nice day Miss Tessa. I hope you and the mister get some time to look around together."
She wasn't betting on it with Jon's schedule, but she nodded and smiled before she got out. The whap-whap of Tico's drum kit and the whine of guitars made this place like any other when it came to the familiar sounds. Yes the bowl of the football stadium was massive, but soundcheck was soundcheck in the end. She grinned when she heard Jon's voice order for an increase in this level, lowering that--all the tech-speak went over her head.
But it was soothing in its own way. And she waved hello to those she knew by name, stopped to talk with her brothers-in-law. Surprised when she got a back crusher of a hug from Tony. "Well, hello to you too."
"Am I glad to see you!"
She laughed. "Not that I'm not flattered, but why?"
"Because if you're here, then Jon will stop acting like a shit and I can fucking relax."
She frowned. "Has he been that bad?"
"I wish I could say no, sis, but he's been a bear with a thorn. With you here things will even off."
She brushed her hand over his shoulder and kissed his cheek. Glad that she'd followed instinct and had taken the flight, she climbed the stairs to the stage. The four of them were in a huddle over the setlist and as usual Tico was quietly smoking a cigarette while Richie and Jon hashed out which songs they would do on the circle.
"Hey! There's my favorite redhead!" David came over and plucked her up into a hug and smacking kiss.
She laughed and tugged on one of his curls. "Only because you prefer blondes."
"This is true, though not as blindly as some people."
"Was that an insult?" Richie asked with mock indignation.
"If you call truth insult, sure why not?"
Tessa rolled her eyes and went on tiptoes to kiss Richie. "Don't listen to him. But would it kill you to go with a brunette once or twice?"
"Not you too!" Richie whined and hugged her tight until her feet were off the stage. "How you doin' Wife-that-should-have-been-mine? Now for you I would have broken ranks with the blonde bombshell brigade."
The ongoing joke was complete and she hugged him tight. "I'm good, better with a few hours of sleep under my belt." When she let him go, she instantly gravitated to Jon. "I'll never complain about jetlag again. Australia wins every time on time travel."
Jon scooped her close and buried his nose in her neck for a quick moment, his hand low on her back in a possessive gesture that never ceased to drive her system into instant awareness.  "I didn't think you were going to make it."
"Had to look around the city. You never know when we'll be back." She looked up at him with a slow grin. "Are you working my guys hard?"
"Oh here we go," David muttered. "Don't get me all riled up all right. I gotta wait a week to see my girl."
The laughter was just enough to make the souncheck that much easier. She wandered around the stadium as they went through the usual songs. She tipped her head up to the sun that peeked through a few grey clouds. Rain thought about making an appearance, but in the end she figured they were safe. 
The opening strains of These Days echoed out into the empty stadium drew her forward to the pit. She sat down with a thump as Jon and Richie effortlessly merged into one voice and then Jon's gritty voice whispered over the mic. He wouldn't belt it out now--he'd save it for the show, but just the idea that they might do this song had her leaning forward to prop her chin on her arms. She caught her husband's grin as he kept singing, knowing that anything from this album would turn her into a giggling maniac. 
They closed up the song and she climbed the stairs that he often took to wade through the masses at a show. Most of the time she left them to their soundcheck knowing Jon would get growly if his system was upset, but she couldn't help herself from sidling up to kiss his cheek. He twined his fingers into hers, finished the song, his head tilted to the side at the mic his eyes on hers. 
"Don't you know that all my heroes die, I guess I'd rather die than fade away..."  
And there was the crux of Jon right now. She knew it, it was unsaid, but there was a piece of him that wanted to go out on top--to maybe finish this tour and disappear. Knowing her husband, she pressed most of it into the I'm-too-tired-to-function realm and knew that a song, a thought, an idea would be all that steered him out of that line of thought. But there was a part of him that just might do it. 
Just how many critics could you ignore and stay sane?
How many times could you be slapped down, even now...high on a second wind in your almost three decade career and not wonder what you were doing it for? She knew the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing had hurt him. He waved it off all well in good, but it rankled. She knew it did.
"I think we're good guys. I'll see you in a few hours."
Richie's dimples flashes. "Yeah, I bet you're real good."
Instead of diving into the usual bawdy banter, he clamped a hand on Richie's shoulder with a tired smile and pulled her into his side. "Don't get into too much trouble without me."
She drew her hand down his middle, the muscles there hid the fact that he was just a touch too skinny for her peace of mind. She couldn't wait to get him home for the holidays, then out to the beach. He needed the two weeks of not being on. He was quiet as they headed into his private dressing room.
He dropped onto the couch, his smile not quiet reaching his eyes. "How you doin' babe?"
Instead of sitting next to him, she straddled his lap, his mouth quirking up as she settled on his thighs. His hands smoothed over her bare skin, his thumbs circling her inner thigh as he tipped his head up. She brushed her nose against his. Softly, she kissed him. No heat, no buildup, not looking for anything other than comforting her man. He wasn't the type to talk things out--he mulled them over in his too active brain. She just let him know without the words that would make him close off--that she was there.
And when he sighed into her, wrapping his arms around her and pressing his ear to her chest she played with his hair lightly. "Whatever it is, you know you can talk to me about it."
"I know." He nuzzled into her neck, just holding her. "So, tell me who did you leave Stella with?"
She laid her cheek against his hair, letting him steer the conversation away from the elephant in the room. "Mary. Nichole and the kids were going out for the week of Christmas so they took Stella with them. I think Mary was more excited than the kids to have her there. And of course Stella was dying to have that huge back yard to herself. We'll go pick her up on Christmas."
"I'm glad you came, babe."
She knew something was weighing on him, she just wished she could help. As close as they were, there were places she just couldn't reach. "Me too." And when his fingers slid uner her shirt she melted into him. At least this was one comfort that never let them down.


Waking Up

The hazy edges of consciousness were there. He could feel them, even as he tried to ignore them and curl back into that black void of sleep. Maybe he could even find Tessa's arms in a dream. Or he could hear Jake's laugh and catch a glimpse of Romeo's wide dark eyes that saw so much. Not as quick to smile as his brother, but when it happened, it was like a fist around his heart. 
He knew that as soon as he woke up that the schedule from hell was waiting for him, and the other side of his bed would be empty. This plush bed that his wife would love. Disgusted because he knew that sleep was officially gone, he bunched his pillow under his head and stared into the ceiling high mirror that reflected the black out curtains he'd pulled. He didn't have any choice but to look at his own haggard face. 
With wakefulness came awareness and the realization that someone was leaning on him and warm breath bathed his shoulder.
Oh shit.
Oh God, please tell him that someone hadn't managed to find their way into his hotel. 
Please, God.
It wasn't the first time he'd found someone in his suite, but it had been a very long time since anyone had managed to get past security. He lifted his head slowly and turned his head. Silky copper hair slid across the cloud white pillow and the heavenly aroma of pears wafted over him as the woman --Tessa--burrowed deeper. Her cheek rubbed against his arm and the tiniest little moan told him she was asleep.
He knew her moans as well as he knew the notes to Wanted. This was the, cuddle-me-closer-and-don't-make-it-morning moan. Everything inside him wanted to roll over and curl her into him, but he took a moment to watch her sleep. Shadows framed her long lashes. She wore one of his old white tanktops just like she always did at home. He almost pinched himself, thinking he was still dreaming.
Her arm was tucked in against his, her left hand light on his skin and her wedding set sparkled in the low light. Unable to stop himself, he rolled over as gently as he could. Instead of waking up, she shifted into his arms, her cheek seeking out his chest as her arm went around his back. He held on tightly. She wasn't awake, so she couldn't see just how shell shocked he was. How she'd gotten there didn't matter, the fact that she'd come--that she'd known he needed her somehow was all that mattered.
Even after all their years together, he hated to own up to how much he needed her. Any weakness pissed him off, but one sniff of her pear scent, one brush of her cheek, or the ultimate kryptonite...the way her nails skimmed through the hairs on his arm--all of it unraveled him like nothing else. His fingers slid into her heavy fall of hair and he pressed his cheek against her hair.
"I missed you," he whispered.
Her little murmur of pleasure was followed up by her lips against his skin. "Surprise."
He leaned back and caught a look at her sleepy eyes. "How?"
"Airplane. A very long, very endless flight that not even my Kindle could make better."
"Considering you'd probably marry your Kindle if you could, that's saying something."
She laughed, the puff of air on his skin pushed the absolute comfort of her in his arms into that darker, more restless corner that always wanted more--always wanted her closer. Her nails lightly raked over his back. "Oh no, I'm already married to a man that tells far more interesting stories."
He brushed his lips over her temple and across the crest of her cheek. The light tickle of her eyelashes against his mouth stirred him up. He dipped lower, smiling into the kiss as she met him with a teasing swipe of tongue across his lower lip. All her heat and familiar curves melted into him like the Belgian truffles she loved. Rich, smooth, and sinful even in small doses.
She rolled onto her back, her nails raking over his lower back and down to the curve of his ass even as her thighs opened for him. He hissed as he realized she'd only worn the tank to bed. Sliding inside her he moved slowly. The curling moans that rolled through her chest and into his seemed to reverberate right into where they joined.
She clasped him, arms, thighs, and the soft, warm tissues inside her. Everything in perfect alignment so he could just sink into her and gather all that strength she seemed to have in reserve and let it power him back up. He lingered inside her with long, slow strokes, savoring all that was his wife and what they were as a unit. She arched beneath him, her long, lovely neck teasing him to gather her tighter and with each thrust he swiped the tip of his tongue along the cords of her neck, his lips along her jawline and his teeth scraped along her chin until he could reach her mouth. Even that first night they met, it was her mouth and her clear green eyes that caught him. 
And they caught him here, as if it was the first time. 
Her soft moans and straining body finally pushed him for more. The languid loving drifted into strident thrusts. Her fingers fisting in his hair as their lips broke apart and his name came out in a guttural cry. Knowing his wife's body and what he could do to extend her pleasure, he grasped her hands in his fingers and drew them up over her head until she was stretched out beneath him. 
She clutched his fingers, widing around his wrist as he slowly dragged his chest over her tight little nipples. His mouth at her ear, she bowed below him as the angle changed just that much and he could grind against her heat. Sweat gathered between them and the friction increased and he let go, driving into her until the orgasm blinded them both.
When his brain worked again, he gathered her shuddering body in and spooned around her. "So this sweat is okay?"
Laughing she slipped her fingers in his sweaty hair, dragging him even closer into her neck. "Definitely."
"Just checking." And they both drifted off.



The definition of tired should have a picture of this.
Tessa looked at herself in the airport bathroom. She'd always sucked at sleeping on a plane. The only time she managed it was if Jon's warm chest was under her cheek. Since marrying the international man of flights she'd been on a plane more than she'd been in a car. Of course, living in the city meant more walking than driving so that wasn't a great analogy, but what the fuck ever.
She pushed her hands through her hair, finger combing the knots out into some semblance of order. She washed up at the sink, scrubbed her face with the cool water and did a bit of damage control with the small bag of makeup she'd brought. The temperature change was palpable even in the airport. The air was heavier and the laid back people reminded her that she was about as far away from NJ as you could get. It only took 24 hours do it. 
She swung out of the bathroom, the blast of sunshine had her fumbling with the oversized sunglasses that Jon had gotten her as a gag gift. She didn't even want to think about what they cost, but they were effective in dimming that searing sun. The time change was what threw her. It was nine in the morning, two days later. And being the moron that she was, she wanted to make her visit a surprise, so she had to get her ass to the hotel on her own. Thank God she had his itinerary, but getting through the city was going to be a feat and a half. 
She only had her overnight bag and her city bag purse so she didn't have to deal with baggage, but customs was another matter all together. 
The line--or que as they so quaintly put it--was miles long. She fished out her papers and sighed as she entered one more line to get to her husband.
Two hours later she managed to get to one of the checkpoints. 
Expecting a, "G'day," because she was so tired she was unprepared for the snooty, almost British accent that snapped out, "Passport."
So much for her Crocodile Dundee fantasies. She handed it over.
"Lift the sunnies please."
The woman behind the glass had a bored expression on her face and tapped her temple and Tessa fumbled with the sunglasses. Duh, she knew the term. Christ, she was just this side of stupid in fatigue. She flipped them up onto her head and smiled. "Sorry, I'm a little turned around with the time difference. I don't think I've ever been this tired and I work retail." She tried a smile, but the stonefaced customs agent didn't even crack as smile. "Okay," she said under her breath.
"What's your purpose here?"
"Visiting my husband."
"Is he an Australian?"
The agent looked up, her eyes narrowing. "Vacationing?"
"Just meeting up with him, he's working--we're making it a sort of working vacation, I guess you could say."
The lines on the woman's face eased. "When will you be leaving?"
"The 21st, I think."
"You think?"
If Tessa  had been more alert, she would have been more on the ball. "My husband has a flexible schedule."
The agent's eyes were cool as she studied her. "What is it that your husband does Ms..." she looked down at the passport, then back up at her face.
She'd taken Jon's given name, so the spelling was off, but it didn't take a genius to figure out the name. Or the big stink that Sydney was making for her boys to be in town. Oprah was there, so some of the insanity was off the table. But Bon Jovi didn't come to Oz all that often, so there was a level of excitement to the shows that might not be in every city, town, or even country. Tessa leaned forward. Some people recognized her, but for the most part--she was just an appendage when she was next to Jon.
She was okay with it, even understood it to a certain degree.
"The Bongiovi family is a big one," she said on a low tone. It was usually easier to make it sound like she was a cousin. It was easier to believe and got her off the hook for the questions that invariably came. "What's it like to be married to Jon Bon Jovi?"
The woman slapped the passport booklet shut and handed it back through the tiny opening. "Have a nice stay and welcome to Sydney."
With a sigh of relief, she thanked the woman and fled out the door. A line of taxis waited outside, thank God, and Tessa gave the driver the name of the hotel. Sitting in the back of the car she got her first glimpse of Sydney and her mouth dropped open. The sky was as impossibly blue as her husband's eyes. It was so stark and perfect it hurt. 
She dropped her shades back down.
"Are you sure you meant the Hyatt, ma'am?"
Tessa looked down at her email that Jon had sent with the breakdown of their visit. "God, I hope so."
He lifted a brow in the rearview mirror and Tessa looked down at her wrinkled t-shirt and oversized cargo shorts. Jon was rubbing off on her on the travel wear. Of course on him it looked sexy when he was disheveled. On her? Not so much. She pushed her bangs out of her face. God, she couldn't even be offended. 
He just nodded and headed off in the direction of the city. Highways merged and the frenetic pace reminded her of Los Angeles for a minute. But the different style of cars and then the wall height of the medians had her shrinking back into her seat. Then it was just like any other highway until the water came into view. "Oh, wow."
"Some of
Her driver's accent was a bastardized British heavy on vowels. She enjoyed his little speech about what to see in Sydney. She didn't absorb much. Being this tired she was just happy to treat the mini-tour as ambient noise. Water took over most of her view and then a building that couldn't possibly be a hotel. It took over the entire area and seemed to hover right off the water. The windows gleamed and then the famous Sydney Opera House came into view. 
Almost a space craft in look, it roared out of the sparkling water. A head wind had picked up, shuffling the little taxi around on the road a bit. He stopped in front of the Hyatt and she just gaped. She should be used to the over the top opulence of Jon's life at this point, but it never ceased to surprise her when it was crammed in her face like this.
At home, he was just jeans and a t-shirt guy that drank coffee out of a malformed mug that one of the boys made in class. This? 
She was used to nice hotels but this one took the cake. A gaggle of females littered the front of the hotel. Eagle eyed security hovered around the doors checking to make sure the people entering were guests of the hotel. 

She didn't even think of this. What the hell name were they under for God's sake? She took out her cell and tapped a nail against it. She didn't want to blow her surprise, but she didn't want to get turned away either. She flicked her way through her contacts and stopped at Richie, then kept going. It was only ten in the morning, he wouldn't answer his phone if a bomb went off next to his head this early. David was just as bad. She scrolled a little further and stopped at Matt, disregarding him as well. He was probably already at the venue knowing her brother in law. Finally T's name rolled into view. Taking a chance she tapped his name. 
"How's my favorite redhead?"
Relief hit hard and fast. "Thank God you answered. Where are you?"
Silence. "Is there something wrong?"
"No, no, no...nothing's wrong. Are you at the hotel?" 
She heard a low laugh. "Is that your red hair I see flying around the front of the hotel, bellas?" 
She turned around to see Tico in unrelieved black, slapping a golfing glove against his other hand, a cigarette at the corner of his mouth. He waved from across the street, tipped his sunglasses down and blew out a stream of smoke. The squeal of females stopped him and he smiled genially and stopped for pictures.
"Ma'am, do you have a reservation?"
"Yes," she answered automatically.
"Can you produce your card?"
"I-" Well, damn. She felt a hand at her elbow and Tico's soft and gruff hello behind her.
"She's one of ours, Leon. Thanks so much for taking good care of us, man."
Sagging with relief she hugged Teek hard. "Am I glad to see you. This surprise stuff never works out for me."
"Jonny is going to be so excited to see you, babe."
"God, I hope so. I know your schedule is packed but..."
"There's nothing better than a woman with amazing instincts. He'd never tell you he needs it, but the fact that you're here is going to do wonders for the end of this leg."
She stepped back, her eyes pricking. "Yeah?"
He tapped her cheek lightly. "No crying."
"I'm just tired," she sighed.
He took her bag and crooked his arm out. "C'mon, let's get you inside. Jon's not even up yet. They were out pretty late last night. Him and Richie found this little local band and ended up jamming until nearly sunrise."
She blinked at him. "Really?" It wasn't like Jon didn't jam with other musicians, but it was pretty rare lately. It made her a little sad that he wound himself up with too many appointments so that he couldn't be all that spontaneous lately.
"Yep. So, your surprise is perfectly planned."

Missing You

“Shit.” His voice lowered and Jon slid down the tree he’d been resting by. He was in the center of Sydney proper, the sun was blazing and he’d just run five miles to put his head on straight.

“Babe?” The worry in her voice kicked him into gear.

“I’m here.” He cleared his throat, hoping his voice sounded better than it sounded to him. Five minutes on the phone with her and he was aching for her. Christ, what a sap. All week he’d been a bear.  He knew it was because he needed a break. He’d been home for Thanksgiving—it wasn’t like he’d even been away for her for that long. But when he had been home he’d still been on.
He was so tired of being on.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. Talk about mood killer.”

He couldn’t stand the misery in her tone. Purposefully he lightened his voice. “Just a few more days and I’m home. We’ll do the family thing and then pack up the kids and go somewhere warm. Just us and the kids. No ex-wives and no parents. Just my brats, my wife, and me.”

“You have no idea how good that sounds.”

“Oh I do, babe. Believe me when I say I do.”

“Oh my God! Bon Jovi! It’s him!”

He tried not to look. If he looked they knew it was him and then they came running. But the chirpy little screams and the native accents only grew louder and closer. “Well crap.”

“Do I hear fans?”


“Time to run again, husband?”

“They'd just chase me,” he sighed.

She laughed. “Remember when I chased you?”

A quick flash of that rainy beach and his Tessa running toward him filled his mind. How the fucking hell would he ever forget it? "You knew you were losing a good thing if you didn't, Mrs. Bongiovi."
"I know. I don't think I'd ever run so hard in my life."
He tipped his head back, letting the sun warm his face and that memory fill him up. That had been the first time that he'd truly known she was in it for the long haul. After the months of feeling her fade away from him, and trying to fight the fear that he'd lose her, that moment had been as sweet as it had been defining for what they'd become.
And that's why he'd make the absences work. And that was why he could make it through the next few days until he'd get that hard hug of welcome. And that agile and willowy body would curl around him just like she'd done that day on the beach. He swallowed the lump that had formed, standing up as the circle of fans started to descend on him. "I better get the same run at the airport when I come home next week."
"Even if I make a spectacle of myself?"
"I don't fucking care. I want you in my arms the minute I get off that plane, wife."
"Well, shit." She sniffed.
"There's no tears in trans continental calls, love."
"I know, I know. Stop saying such mushy things and I'd be okay."
Only his Tessa would think a growling order was him being mushy. "Okay, before our conversation ends up on Extra or the Sydney equivalent, I'm shutting off. I love you, babe."
"See ya soon."
And she was gone. Jon sighed and jammed his phone into his shorts with a weak smile. There were too many eyes on him to ignore them or walk away without looking like a complete ass. "Hi, girls."

The Plan

“You’re WHAT?”

Tessa winced, holding her cell to her ear with her shoulder as she slogged her way through the airport. It was an outrageously priced and lengthy flight and nothing about it was smart, but she was going.

He was coming home in a few days. She could wait—a smart woman would wait. But something told her to go.


She could come back with the guys after the shows. She’d be spending way too much time on a damn plane, but as soon as he got home they’d have his family, the kids, his parents—everyone wanted time with him and she was damn greedy at the moment.

“I know, it’s crazy. By the time I get out there and through customs he’ll be getting ready to go to soundcheck.”

“And you’ll be turning around to come back!”

“Nic, I just have to do it. Something in my gut says go.”

She was quiet for a moment. “Is something going on between you two?”

“No, no…nothing like that. It’s just a feeling.”

“I say it’s a I-want-to-sex-up-my-husband feeling.”

Tessa laughed. “Well, that’s a part of it, no doubt about it. But no, I talked to him on the phone and he just sounded wrong. Tired and distracted I’m used to, but he was off.”

“Was it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing?”

“No, he’s not surprised. Ticked, sure…but not surprised.”

Nic sighed. “Well, you know your husband. Be sure to bring the kids over if you can manage it.”

“I’ll want to get away from Carol, so I’ll take you up on the offer. She’s staying longer than usual. Yay, me.”

“Oh, girl.”

She came to a halt as the line snaked around and through JFK’s terminal. Good thing she was very early. Blowing her bangs out of her face she dropped her overnighter and kicked it forward as the slow shuffle started. “It’s fine. We’ve managed a truce, but she still thinks I’m not good enough for her son. And the fact that I’m not making another grand baby? Yeah. I have about as much use as last year’s wardrobe.”

“She has a yearly wardrobe?”

“Don’t even get me started.”

“Well, she’s been living the high life for more years than not, darlin’. Italian boys take care of their mamas.”

She slipped her well used passport out of her purse and the card she’d charged her etickets on. That had been as much of a rude awakening as the realization that it would take twenty-four hours to get to Sydney. “Yeah well, good thing they take care of their wives as well.”

“I just bet, hussy.” A tiny voice went from whine to howl on the other end of the line. “Well, Mommy duties call.”

“Give the brats a kiss from Aunt Tessa.”

“Will do. Have fun you crazy girl.” Nic sighed. “I wish I could hop on a jet and go see my rockstar husband.”

“Nah, you’ve got your hot teacher waiting for you.”

“That’s right. I keep forgetting. Maybe I’ll put my plaid skirt on and see if he wants to play professor.”

“Now who’s the hussy?”

Nic laughed. “Love you, kiddo. Safe flight.”

“Love you too. See you in a few days.”

She stuffed her iPhone back into her bag, dragging it out again a moment later when the chime for a text came through. She smiled. It was late morning in Sydney, but Jon was obviously up and out for a run.

  • sweating and you’re not here, why is that?

She grinned, her middle finger fluttering across the keyboard as she shuffled along closing in on the check in counter.

  • because I’m freshly showered and I don’t want your smelly man-sweat anywhere near me

Thirty seconds later her phone chimed again and she couldn’t stop the laugh as she read.

  • you lie, woman. you love my man-sweat. when I get home I’m going to let you lick it all off me.

Biting her lip, she typed back.

  • you damn well better shower before you get back here. I only do concert sweat, rockstar, not filthy pig sweat.

Her phone rang instead of another text. A picture of her and Jon all pretzeled up on the hammock at the Hampton house came up with You Were Made For Me as the ringtone.

“Is that Sam Cooke?”

She turned to a man that had to be well into his seventies behind her with a laugh. “My husband. He’s a huge fan.”

“I didn’t think kids your age had taste anymore.”

“Sometimes I think my husband was born in the wrong era.” She winked at the man and picked up. “Hi, babe.”

“C’mon you know you wanna lick the sweat off of—“

“Jon, don’t you finish that sentence.”

“My neck.”

She giggled. “That’s not what you were thinking.”

“How do you know? Now who’s mind is in the gutter?”

“Not mine.”

“Right, and I’m married to Sandra Dee now?”

“You are? Did you get a quickie divorce? I didn’t sign any papers!”

His laughter was easy and open, and the worry that had been eating at her stomach lining eased up. “After what it took to get you to marry me? Fuck no.”

She shuffled forward, holding the phone tighter to her cheek. “I love when you sweet talk me. It’s all I can do to stop the swoon.”

His quick bark of laughter had her wavering about getting on the flight. Was she nuts going out there?  He was perfectly fine, she was just overreacting. He was probably just tired when she talked to him. She tapped her passport to her thigh and hefted her bag. She used the auto ticket reader and collected her boarding pass, scanning her passport so she could go check in at her gate.

“Where are you?”


No sense in lying, he could hear the ambient noise and the man had certainly been in enough of them to know the sound.

“I know that. I can hear the calls over the speakers.”

She winced. Damn, she hoped she could get him off the phone before she got up to her gate. At least she actually had a story. “I had to drop off Michelle, Char was tearing around getting ready for the entire Donnelly clan to set down in her house.”

“How did Steph manage to get you to do that.”


“What on earth does my daughter have to bribe you with?”

“She’s taking Carol shopping for a whole day.”

“Good one!”

“Your wife is very, very smart.”

“I know, that’s why she married me.”

She snorted. “I drew the short straw and then I looked at you and felt sorry for you.”

“Man, why did I call again?”

“You’re a sadist and get off on my abuse.”

“That’s right. I forgot.”

A sudden lump formed. All the teasing reminded her of all the nights they’d missed lately. It wasn’t like he didn’t take time off and come home. He did, but God, she just wanted him in her arms. She wanted his lips on hers, his stupid, big nose bumping hers as he tipped his forehead to hers. Maybe she’d just been hearing something that wasn’t there so she could go and see him. Maybe it was her that needed that something indefinable that only Jon could provide.  “I miss you, Jonny.”