Monday, October 10, 2011

Chapter 30

While Jon and Richie were in the pub, Jasmine and Dorothea played with Stephanie and tidied up after lunch. They prepared dinner together, chatting about the guys and what they had been watching on television. Dorothea listened to Jasmine talking and counted the times she mentioned Richie, which was at least once in every sentence. She was happy that Richie had found someone who was interested in him and his normal persona, not just for his celebrity status. Jasmine was certainly in love with Richie whether she realized it or not.
“Yeah then Rich made dinner and we vegged out in front of the television. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it was a perfect evening for me.” Jasmine explained about what they did on one weekend.
“Sounds like you two have it all made. Sounds very domesticated. How much longer will you be staying with him?”
“Until the paperwork is done on my new place. It could be a week or it could be a month,”
Jasmine told Dorothea about the house and the house hunting with Richie. She spoke so animatedly about her new house but from what she was telling her, Dot could only imagine Richie’s place. Not that she was surprised, if Richie had helped her look for houses then he would have definitely helped her choose one like his, as he was in awe of his own house.
“Won’t it feel odd being back on your own after all this time with Richie?”
“Probably, for a while, but I need to stand on my own two feet sometime. Not that Richie is happy about it. He asked me to move into his place permanently but I said no. I think I really upset him.”
Dot reeled around so she was looking right at Jasmine, she hadn’t been expecting this admission.
“Why did you say no? From what you have been saying today it seems like you’re perfect for each other and are doing well living together already.”
Jasmine sighed in confusion. On one hand she was glad that someone was listening to her but on the other she wasn’t sure if Dot was the right person to be talking about it to. Deciding that talking to someone who knows Richie would actually be a good thing, and remembering that she didn’t have to hide their relationship anymore, Jasmine replied,
“I know it seems like we already have things as they should be but that’s really my point. We have been so wrapped up in ourselves in our little cocoon from the world that I just don’t know how I will be when I go back in the world. You know, like Richie has done so much for me and looked after me so well. I love being with him and hate it when we’re apart but I need to be sure that it’s because I really do love him not because I have become reliant on him. It’s not fair to him if I’m only with him because I don’t know how to cope on my own. Do you understand?”
Dot paused for a moment, not sure how to respond. “I think so but you need to explain that to Rich. I know if you explained it like that he’d understand. He might be a little upset at first but he’ll get it, he’ll get you. Deep down though, do you really think you’re in love with him because he was your knight in shining armor?” she asked, a little scared of the answer because she liked Jasmine and wanted all to be right in Richie’s life.
“NO!” Jasmine exclaimed a little too loudly. She looked over to where Stephanie was asleep and sighed in relief that she had not woken up the sleeping princess.
“Not at all. We were so close before I got hurt, so close that it hurt when we weren’t together, like I was missing some part of me, but we didn’t do anything about it until that first night at Richie’s. He was so gentle and…” she paused, not wanting to discuss her sex life. Dot nodded with understanding and Jasmine continued.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m being stupid but I guess I just want to be sure that we’re both in this for the right reasons.”
“I get that, but have you explained it like this to Richie? If you don’t make it clear how you feel about him and just turn down his offer, he’ll think it’s because you’re not really interested in him, and I know just from looking at you that that’s not true.”
“No, it’s not true. I don’t know why I’m even telling you this because I haven’t really admitted it to myself but I love him Dot. I love him with all my heart. He’s the most…the most….” Jasmine tried to find the words to describe Richie but nothing quite defined him.
“You know, there’s not enough words to describe how he makes me feel, how much of a wonderful, caring, considerate and passionate man he is. He makes me feel so many different things in so many different ways. I just can’t imagine being without him in my life.”
“Then tell him that. Honestly, if you tell him exactly what you told me you’ll make him the happiest man alive.”
“Really. Now, come on, let’s take this little one out for a walk and get some fresh air into her lungs.” She said, lifting up the now awake and gurgling Stephanie from her cot.
The guys joined the girls halfway down the path that linked the pub with the main house. Jasmine was carrying Stephanie on her hip and was laughing as the baby grabbed at her long hair, fisting her hands into the softness. Richie could relate to wanting to do that and chuckled at the thought. Jon grabbed his wife and gave her a deep kiss, savoring a few child free moments. They all walked around the grounds until they reached the jetty by the river. 
“So, what were you guys doing in there so long?” Dot asked, stretching her legs out until her toes touched the water.
“Not a lot. Just getting whipped by the shark here. I need to practice more.”
“Don’t bother man, I am the master!” Richie boasted, his arms out wide hoisting an imaginary trophy.
“We’ll see. There’s a tour coming up so plenty of time to practice and beat you my friend. What about you ladies? Been singing our praises?”
Jasmine’s eyes narrowed as she laughed at Jon, “Something like that. Why? Were your ears burning?”
“Nope, but I know my wife. The minute I’m out of ear shot she starts talking about me. I’m not so sure it’s always so complimentary though.”
“Relax honey, I was nice. This time.” Dot said, pulling Jon down so he was sitting next to her. Richie had been oddly quiet during this time, he was still thinking about what Jon had said.
“Rich?” he heard someone say,
“I asked why you were being so quiet. It’s not like you.” Jasmine said, kissing him on top of his head.
“I’m good. Listen, Jon and I were talking earlier and we have an offer we’d like to give you.”
“I’m listening.”
Jon stood up and joined Richie, “Obie and I have been talking about the tour and since Jimmy quit after the last tour Obie needs some help, he can’t do all the sound stuff by himself.”
“So,” Richie continued, “Jon and Obie want you to come with us and be Obie’s right hand woman on the tour.”
Jasmine looked from Richie to Jon, then to Dot who looked as surprised as she felt, and then back to Richie.
“You’re serious?”
“Yeah. I only found out just now but I think it’s a great idea. I was dreading leaving you behind when we fly off but having you close is nothing short of perfect.”
“What about Island? I have a contract with them. Isn’t it bad enough that I’m going to be in trouble for being with you, now you want me to leave them and join you?”
Jasmine’s reaction was a surprise to Jon, who couldn’t quite believe that the usually calm Jasmine seemed to be having a panic attack over something that wasn’t even reality yet. Sensing that Richie might not take this rebuttal well considering he was still smarting about her not moving in with him,
“It is only a suggestion right now darlin’, we wanted to check with you before I approached Pete about it. Would you like to come on tour with us?”
The fan in Jasmine was screaming yes but something was holding her back; could she and Richie cope with being with each other all the time? Would the strain of the tour affect them, and would she be able to cope with the work load?
Richie could see the inner battle Jasmine was fighting and the bile rose in his stomach, she was going to say no, he just knew it.
“In theory, yes, I’d be honored to go on tour with you guys. You know I’m a fan and to be at each show is more than I could have dreamed of, not to mention actually being part of the production, but it’s a lot to ask and there is the question of my contract. Do you mind if I think about it?”
“Not at all. It is a huge undertaking. Is tomorrow morning enough time to think?” Jon asked, a little disappointed.
“Sure. I’ll have an answer for you in the morning. Thanks for the offer though.”
“No problem. Right, I’m starving. Time for dinner.” Jon said, wrapping his arm around Dot’s shoulders and leading her back up towards the house, Stephanie in her arms.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chapter 29

Later that afternoon Jon had corralled Richie into leaving the ladies behind in the house whilst they headed into the sanctuary of the Shoe Inn to have a few beers over a game of Pool. He had sweetened the prospect to Dorothea and Jasmine by telling them that they needed to talk about the tour and that it would be really boring. Dot followed his lead and understood what he was doing so she sent them out the door, promising to call them over when it was time for dinner, Richie and Jasmine having accepted her invitation to stay for dinner as well as lunch.
Once in the quiet safety of the on site pub and with an ice cold beer in his hand, Jon asked the question he had been dying to ask since his gut feeling had been confirmed in the middle of the dance floor the night before.
“Ok man, spill it. There’s no one here but me so tell me what’s going on with you?”
Richie picked up his cue and lined it up with the cue ball not looking at Jon, 
“What do you mean? Apart from not having to hide my relationship with Jas, nothing is going on,”
“That’s what I was talking about. I know what you told me but I sense there is more to the story than what you said.”
“Who are you, a psychic all of a sudden?”
“No, I just know you better than you know yourself sometimes. We’ve known each other for so long that I can read your voice and tell whether there is something bothering you, and I know you can do the same with me. So, spill it.”
“I’m not sure what you want to hear. If you’re trying to get the intimate details then you’re more sick than I gave you credit for.”
Jon laughed, “If you want to share, then I’m listening but I didn’t mean that. How did it happen? Is it serious?”
Richie potted the ball and lined up the next one whilst considering Jon’s words. It was actually a relief to know that there was someone who was ready to listen to him, to help him make sense of the things he was feeling and to put into perspective the roller coaster ride he was on.
After taking his shot and missing, Richie sat down on the bar stool and began to talk.
“Like I said, it just went from friendship to more than that. You know that Jasmine and I spent pretty much all of our spare time together when we were in New York, and that we commuted from Jersey together. We hung out, I helped her look for somewhere to live and well, when I wasn’t with her I missed her so much. It was like I became full when she was around and empty when she was gone. I took her on a cruise around Manhattan one evening and it near enough killed me not being able to touch her and not knowing how she felt about me. We talked a lot that night and I told her about my past and the disaster that was my last relationship, and she was open with me. I think I fell in love with her that night but it wasn’t until the night her Dad showed up that I realized it.”
Halfway through Richie’s monologue, Jon had joined him at the bar and gave him his full attention. He listened attentively as Richie bared his soul, much to his amazement.
“Have you told her?”
Richie shook his head, “No. I came close a few times but things just keep getting in the way and I’m not sure she feels the same. I asked her to move in with me instead of moving to her new place but she said no. If she loved me then she would have said yes.”
“Did she give you a reason? You’ve not been together long, maybe she got scared.”
“Scared? You want to know what scared is? Scared is when you walk into a room and the smell of blood is thick in the air and you find the person who you’ve fallen in love with slumped in a corner and you’re not sure if she’s alive. I’ve never been so damn scared in all my life, or so sure about my feelings. Ever since that day I’ve not let her out of my sight for fear that her father will come back and finish off the job he started.”
Jon placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “I’m sorry man, I didn’t realize how hard it was for you. I take it you’ve not told her this either?”
“No. I don’t want to put this on her, she’s been so brave and strong getting over it that she doesn’t need to deal with my feelings about it all. Anyway she said that she didn’t want to move in with me because she wanted us to be sure we are together because we want to be not because the situation forced us into it. I don’t know what the hell she means.”
“Think about it from her point of view man. Jesus! When did you become so stupid? You’re supposed to be the caring and sensitive one. Look at it with her eyes, you’re friends one minute, admittedly very close, then she gets hurt and you’re more than friends. Don’t you think she may wonder if you’re just pitying her?”
Richie looked at Jon incredulously, he knew he was right.
“I’m not though. I couldn’t be happier than I am right now and it’s all because of her. I’m not pitying her, the attack just made me realize that I wanted to be more than friends and that I love her more than I have ever loved anyone before. In fact considering how I feel about her I doubt that I’ve ever actually been in love before now.”
Jon closed his eyes and shook his head. Richie was in a sorry state and there was nothing he could do other than persuade him to talk to Jasmine.
“Wow! Now that’s an admission if ever there was one. What makes her so different to the others? You were sure that Shelly was the one not so long ago.”
“Yeah, and look how that ended. Jas is completely different to anyone I have ever met. It’s like she can tell what I’m thinking and somehow she stays one step ahead of me. She gets me, gets the obsession I have with music, and even better than that she has the same obsession.”
Jon nodded and Richie carried on, “In some ways she’s like the female version of you, even down to the blueness of her eyes. She can read me, I can be myself around her and she doesn’t have an agenda.”
Jon waited until he was sure that Richie had finished and one thing stood out to him, something he couldn’t remember Richie ever doing before, 
“Hey Rich, do you realize that you just spent 10 minutes talking about a woman and not once did you mention how she looks, or what she’s like horizontal?”
Richie hadn’t noticed but now that Jon had brought it to his attention he could see he was right, 
“I didn’t know, but now that you mentioned it. Man, look what she’s doing to me. I can talk about her for ages and not even touch on her looks, she’s so beautiful on the inside that I don’t even need to talk about the packaging. That’s not to say she’s not gorgeous, because she is. Man, she’s so much more than gorgeous, she’s perfect.”
Richie’s cheeks reddened and Jon noticed. It was a look he was used to seeing when Richie had done something and gotten away with it but not when he was actually feeling embarrassed. Richie was too confident to get embarrassed about anything. 
“Man, you have it bad. But something is worrying me.”
“What?” Richie asked.
“You said she’s like the female version of me. Does that mean you want me as badly as you want her, because I’m taken.”
Richie laughed loudly, glad that his brother had lightened the mood and hauled them out of the dark cave of their feelings back to the lighthearted banter he was more comfortable with,
“Nah man, you’re safe. She may be a lot like you but she’s a lot hotter and has a better ass than you.”
“Thank Christ for that, I was starting to worry that too many women hurting you had turned you the other way.”
“Ah shut up and shoot already.” Richie replied, handing Jon the cue and pushing him towards the table.
They played a few rounds, Richie winning all of them, which was becoming more and more embarrassing for Jon, who was not used to losing as often as was happening. They didn’t mention Jasmine anymore even though Jon still had questions and Richie still felt the need to talk about her. Richie was glad just to be able to talk about normal things but not have to omit Jasmine from the details. He sat watching Jon line up his next shot unaware that Jon was watching him.
“You did something didn’t you? I know that look. Where was it?”
“Come on man, how many places are soiled?”
Richie looked over at Jon trying to ascertain what he was getting at. When Jon saw that Richie was looking at him, he raised his eyebrows and made a suggestive glance to his best friend.
“Who do you think I am?” Richie said, a little disgruntled but more amused than anything else.
“Don’t give me that shit, King of Swing, I know you far too well for that innocent look to work.”
Richie laughed wholeheartedly, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Well, uh, there was the time in the closet in the studio, and the Sambora Suite here.”
“The CLOSET? No wonder Jasmine won’t move in with you, not exactly romantic Rich.”
“We weren’t going for romance if you know what I mean,” Richie said, cheering up as the memories of the closet filled his mind.
“Oh really?”
“Yeah. She had been driving me wild all day, brushing up against me when she could, giving me suggestive looks from the sound booth, seriously man, I thought I was going to explode.”
Jon laughed, remembering the looks on both their faces the whole day, and their attempts to stay normal after they had both disappeared one afternoon.
“And here?” Jon asked, morbidly curious,
“The other night, after we were done with the record, when everyone else was here. You know what I get like when I’ve had a drink, and apparently it has the same effect on Jas, so when we bumped into each other in the hall, one thing led to another and…”
“I gotcha.” Jon said knowingly.
“You have no idea how hard it was keeping our hands off each other when we were with you guys, and to make it even more difficult Jas thought it would be funny to do anything to make me want her more. Take last night. You saw that dress man, can you imagine how tight my pants were?”
“She was smoking hot, I’ll admit it. We did wonder why you were walking around with a pained look on your face.”
“Pained? It was fucking excruciating. I was sure I was going to explode and that was when I lost all control and kissed her. I really hope no one from Island was watching because she could be in some serious trouble, not to mention her reputation would be in shreds.”
“About that…Obie and I have been talking. Even before we knew about you and Jasmine; Ob mentioned that he would like more help during the tour and asked if there was any way we could release Jasmine from her contract with Island. We all know how fucking good she is and she fits in with all of us so well. She’d be ideal.”
“Are you kidding? You want Jasmine to come with us on tour? That’s great!” Richie raved. 
“Yeah, but we need to talk to Pete and Jasmine first. You want to talk to her about it?”
“We could both do it later. I’m not sure what she’d say if I asked her.”
“For fuck’s sake man, talk to the girl and tell her how you feel. From the way she looks at you I’m certain she feels the same. You’ve never been shy about your feelings before, I don’t understand why you are now.”
“I’ve never had so much to lose before. I love her so much.” Richie mumbled, surprised at his own admission.
“All the more reason to talk to her. Come on, they’ll be calling us soon.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chapter 28

Jon didn’t sleep well the night of the wrap party, he tossed and turned all night keeping Dorothea awake and getting more frustrated with himself the longer sleep evaded him. What frustrated him most was that he knew the reason for his insomnia, and Dot had teased him all night about it despite being kept awake herself by not just him but Stephanie, who woke up babbling at the most unsociable hours. Jon couldn’t sleep because he wanted to know the details about Richie and Jasmine’s relationship, just to prove to himself that he was right and had noticed the change in them as soon as they went to more than friends. 
He sat in the kitchen with a mug of steaming hot coffee rerunning the conversation with Dorothea sometime past 3am. She had accused him of being a gossip whore and had said he wasn’t interested in his friend’s wellbeing and happiness, just in proving himself right once again. She had called him a walking ego, and something else he couldn’t remember but he knew it wasn’t favorable. 
He sipped the warm nectar and let it flood his system with the vital nutrients to wake him up. Sighing, he grabbed the phone from its cradle and dialed the number he knew so well.
Richie was woken up by the shrilling of the phone next to the bed but he was reluctant to move to answer it as he had Jasmine lying in his arms and that was the most wonderful feeling in the world to him. He closed his eyes and willed the noise to stop before it woke up the sleeping beauty beside him but it wouldn’t relent. Groaning, he reached out his hand and yanked the phone from its holder. Seeing Jon’s name on the caller ID he knew it had to be early and his anger began to grow.
“What do you want?” Richie barked down the phone to his brother,
“Good morning to you too Dean. Look, I was wondering what you and Jasmine are doing today?”
“Not a lot, no plans.” He said, as he watched Jasmine sleep and ran his fingers along the exposed skin of her arm.
“Dot and I were wondering if you two wanted to come over later for some lunch. We haven’t just hung out for ages, probably not since Stephanie was born. The pool table feels neglected.”
Richie couldn’t stay angry at Jon for long, as much as he wanted to sometimes, he just couldn’t. Whether it was because he was too forgiving and soft, or whether Jon had some innate charm that worked even on his friends, Richie didn’t know. What he did know was that it didn’t take much for Jon to dissipate any anger directed at him.
“I could do with whipping your butt at some pool again, I haven’t slaughtered you for a while, and I haven’t had a cuddle with my favorite niece in forever. I’ll check with Jas but I’m sure that’ll be fine. Give us a couple of hours though.”
“Good. We’ll see you later. Dot really likes Jasmine man, I think it could be good for her to have someone around her own age to talk to now that she’s with Steph all the time and I’m not always here.”
“I’m glad she likes Jas, but then again what’s not to like? Give your girls a kiss from me, we’ll see you later man.”
Richie turned over and cuddled into Jasmine again, falling asleep for another two blissful hours. Jon also went back to bed and finally managed to sleep for more than a half hour at a time.
“You did WHAT?!” Dot yelled at Jon when he mentioned that he’d invited Richie and Jasmine over.
“Why don’t you ever give me any warning about these things? What are we going to eat?” she panicked.
“Calm down, I’ve ordered in. Just get dressed. They’ll be here soon. I’ve fed Steph too and she’s napping.”
An hour later Richie was sitting cross legged on the floor of Jon’s living room with Stephanie’s hands in his. She was making small steps towards him, squealing. She held onto his hands as he moved them around like an airplane, making her squeal louder.

Jasmine watched the scene in front of her with a smile on her face. It looked so natural for Richie to be playing with a child and he looked at peace with the little girl at the centre of his attention. A sad feeling briefly consumed Jasmine, wishing that she had had that kind of relationship with her father rather than the violent and scary one she had been left with. The feeling passed when Stephanie toddled up to her, with help from Richie, and climbed onto her lap,
“Baby?” Steph asked, thrusting a Barbie towards Jasmine. Jasmine smiled and took the doll. She played with Steph until lunch was ready, picking the child up and depositing her in her high chair at the table next to her father. 
“Let’s just eat in the living room today,” Dot said, lifting her daughter out of the chair.
“Sitting at the table is so formal and, well, we’ve never been formal when it’s just us. We only sit at the table when the guys are here because there is more room.” She explained to Jasmine.
They filled their plates and settled in the chairs and on the floor of the living room. Richie sat with his back leaning against the chair and his legs stretched out in front of him. They chatted amiably about their families and plans for the break before the tour. Jasmine hadn’t really thought past the next few weeks and the idea of a tour hadn’t occurred to her. She began to feel uneasy at the thought of being without Richie for so long, but also thought that it would be a good idea to get some space between them so they could put their relationship into perspective.
“So, you two,” Jon started,
“Yeah?” both Richie and Jasmine replied in unison.
“Details bro. How long have you two been…you know?”
“Just come straight out with it why don’t you?” Richie laughed.
“Not as long as you think I bet. About 3 months. It just kinda grew from friendship into something else, around the time Jas’ dad showed up.” Richie explained but not giving much detail.
“I guess having something awful like that happen made us both realize that there was more going on than just friendship.” Jasmine added shyly.
“Well, I for one am happy for you. I think you make a great couple. Rich, you did good, Jasmine’s so much more your type than the last few.” Dot said, winking at Jasmine.
“Unka Mookie Unka Mookie?” 
“Yeah sweetie?”
“Love Jamin,” Stephanie babbled in a way that it wasn’t clear if she was asking or stating her own opinion.

Whilst Richie’s initial reaction was to see her words as a question, he didn’t think this was the right moment to tell Jasmine. Jasmine’s eyes shot up to look at Richie for his reaction and wasn’t sure what she saw there. She could see he was battling with something but couldn’t place the emotions playing out in the swirling darkness.
Richie decided the best option was to see it as a statement and replied,
“And so you should little lady.” Then he asked Stephanie a question about her toys, which led to Stephanie dominating the conversation a little longer. 
Jon and Dot exchanged glances at Richie’s blatant sidestepping of their daughter’s words, to anyone over the age of 5 it was definitely a question, one that he had refused to answer. To Jon this meant one of two things, either Richie was having second thoughts or he had fallen hard but hadn’t told her. He hoped it was the second option.