The need to break something pumped through his veins until his vision hazed. Christ, he didn’t want to hurt Stephanie, but she pushed and pushed, goddammit. Couldn’t she just let it go? She should know better than to keep poking at a man until he could barely think straight.

Of course he fucking wanted her.

That was why he avoided her. That was why he stayed as far away from all the girls of Devotion as he could. Stephanie could tempt a sack of grain for fuck’s sake. She had curves that made you want to spend an entire weekend finding out just what every inch tasted like. The willowy, fresh faced teen that had moved in next door when he was seventeen, was a far cry from the woman she was now. She’d had power as a teen, now she was lethal.

Before he did something stupid—like drag her off the lounger—he forced himself to turn around and walk out the door. Taking extra care not to slam the door, he let it close softly behind him. If he let the rage out, the damn hinges would bust. Then she’d really know just what kind of effect she had on him. Hiding it was becoming harder with each day.

The feel of her under his hands—the curve of her body with skin softer than any man should have to withstand. If he didn’t put the lotion on her, she’d have known something was up, so the silent torture had been the only option. Steph was like a terrier when it came to getting what she wanted—and if she even had an inkling of what he’d been thinking, he’d have been toast.

If she knew what he’d wanted to do to her, she’d either run like hell or dare him to do every single depraved thing to her. He was afraid that when it came to Steph, it would be the latter. She wasn’t ready for him. Oh she thought she was, but he had a world of experience that she didn’t—and shouldn’t—have.

She was too good for a man like him. She wouldn’t be a fling. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that she wasn’t fling material. Whether it was their background, or something more tangible, he wasn’t going to analyze it. She mattered, and he was man enough to own up to the fear to himself. The minute he touched her, the minute he held her, and the minute she knew he’d loved her for years, life would be different. He knew it. But he wasn’t ready for forever, and she was too young to know what she wanted. All she saw was the excitement right now.

He remembered the days when the excitement of a new day was all he looked forward to. Meeting people, experiencing life and everything it had to offer—that’s where she was right now. She didn’t need to be saddled down with a man that was looking thirty in the eyes. She still had so much living to do.

As much as it killed him--Christ, just having her perfect body pressed into him twice in a day nearly killed him—he had to think with more than his dick for once. She deserved that at the very least.

His skin still felt too tight, and the cocoa butter scent on his hands reminded him of her lush curves that had been right there for the taking. She was so small, just one arm around her ass and he could have had her up against that half wall with his cock buried inside her.

He slapped the wall, but the sting did nothing to ease the hard-on banging on his zipper. The thought of a caging elevator was too much to deal with right now, so he took the stairs to his floor. He swore, patting pockets as he reached the door. “Fucking key,” he muttered and used the side of his hand to pound.

Jon opened the door, the phone growing out of his damn ear. He brushed by him without a word, both of them glaring at each other. He grabbed his acoustic guitar and collapsed into a sagging chair in the corner. Even the familiar weight of his favorite guitar didn’t ease him.

Putting her out of his mind, he concentrated on a song he and Jon had been working. The boy-girl song grated on him quickly—and if Jon’s reactions were any indication, it wasn’t working for him either. He kept shooting glances over his shoulder.

Switching out to a few riffs that had been rolling around his head, he finally felt the blood leave his damn lap. As always, the guitar was his solace. It never needed to be understood. In fact it did all the talking if you let it.

Eventually Jon hung up t he phone, and surprised him by dragging a chair over from the table, his beat up acoustic in hand. Richie couldn’t’ remember the last time he’d dragged it out for anything but a radio spot or show. Jon listened for a few minutes, and as always they fell into a familiar rhythm.

A few different chords added as they found wordlessly built a song. Again and again, they stopped and started over. Just a gesture, or yelling out a minor or major chord change.

This was a new song. And the words that dumped out of Jon stirred an emotion that had been missing between them. This—the love of the music without an audience—it had been missing from his friend for what felt like ages.

I’m just one man, and I can’t pretend.

A heart’s just a heart, and souls have to end.

Dreams will be dreams, but friends will be friends

Now and Forever

Unsure where the sentiment had come from, he followed Jon’s lead. His song drifted, the words not quite right anymore. The chorus was more than solid, and the guitars bled into a sadness, he wondered how much was his, and how much was Jon’s.

Christ, they were both a mess.

Jon stood, dumping the guitar into the chair.

“What’s up, Jon?”

“Nothing.” His voice was cool now. Where warmth and emotion had poured from him a moment ago, now there was this stranger that was becoming far too familiar to him. This was the Jon he didn’t want to be around anymore. Lost in his head, preoccupied and a shadow of the person he’d started this circus with a few years ago.

This is what they’d been working for. Getting the music out there, doing what they loved without reservation. It was what he’d always wanted. For Jon it was becoming a duty—a job.

For fuck’s sake, he’d become a musician so he didn’t have to have a job. This was the brass ring, but instead of enjoying it, Jon was always looking for the next milestone. Before he could talk to him, Jon had the damn phone to his ear again.

The buzz of conversation became background noise. The interviews and the radio spots were a necessary evil, and he was happy to do them—if they’d want him there. It was Jon’s pretty face that everyone wanted lately. And Jon felt obligated to continue to get the word out, but he’d lost the joy. Even his answers held very little of the charm that had first won over every disk jockey from NY to NJ.

Jon’s voice went from low tones to a hesitant weariness. One of the only two weeks off that they had scheduled in the last two months perked up his ears.

“Yeah, I’m going to be in the area, but we don’t have a show until Wednesday.”

He shot out of his chair and rounded to Jon mouthing, “What are you doing?” Jon just waved him away, but Richie turned him back around forcing him to meet his eyes.

“I’d be happy to come out and hang with the kids before the Special Olympics start.”

“Fucking shit.” Richie spun away. Jon’s pet project since the beginning had been the Special Olympics. He knew in his head that he couldn’t say no, but Christ Jon needed a break. Those two weeks were supposed to feed them through the end of the tour. Personally, he planned on sleeping through at least three days of it.

“Yeah, just get the itinerary to Doc and we’ll make it happen.” Jon hung up the phone. Silence hung heavy between them. “You know I had to.”

“I know you think you have to. You have to learn how to say no to some things Jon.” When his eyes flashed with temper he went on anyway. This had been building for weeks now. “You’re goddamn exhausted. Jesus, Jon you can’t keep this up.”

“I know what I’m doing.”

“We’re in this together, Jon. All of us, whether you believe it or not. You keep going on like this and there will be nothing left for the stage.”

“I do my job.”

“Jesus, when did this become a job to you? This is the dream, man. This is what we gave up relationships and time with our family for.”

“Grow up, Rich. I love going out there and singing and I sure as shit love the writing, but this shit? The shit I do with the radio stations and goddamn reporters—It’s a fucking job.”

Discouraged by the defeat in Jon’s eyes, he tried to calm down. “That’s not what we signed up for.”

“Reality is a world of difference from what we thought this would be.”

“You make your own reality Jon. That’s always been what you’re best at. Focus and drive got us here, but you don’t take the time to enjoy even a second of it.”

“I don’t have time to enjoy it,” Jon muttered.

“And who’s fault is that?”

“Just leave it, Rich. I know what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m carrying you on half the songs, right?”

Defeat went hot as Jon’s eyes flashed. “Fuck off.”

“Between the interviews, the magazines, the newscasters, and the stage your voice is beyond fucked. You need those two weeks to get back to center, man. We need you to get back to center. We’re drifting, Jonny. Can’t you see it?”

“If you can’t handle the life that’s your problem.”

Richie stepped back. If he’d punched him dead in the face, he couldn’t have surprised him more. “If that’s what you think, then you’re more fucked up than I thought.” Grabbing his keys and jacket he headed for the door.

If he stayed any longer, Jon’s shredded vocal chords would be the least of his problems. This time he slammed the door behind him. Fuck him, and fuck the whole goddamn day.


norwichliz said...

Uh oh....family squabble. Of course, Richie's right, and of course, Jon will never admit it. If he doesn't take the time off he could do irreparable physical harm :(

Now Richie, go find Stephanie and....relieve some of that tension. Despite what you think, you're already toast! LOL

SoulGirl said...

Holy hell.
Richie is going to combust. LOL
That was a great scene too. I love that he knows she's not a fling. He knows that she matters, and it would all change if he went THERE. Great stuff. Very Richie IMO...so he avoids it. (for now)

And Loved the interaction between the two guys, so real imo--Jon didn't know when to say no back then and Richie saw it. I firmly believe it.

Shredded vocal chords--one of my fav visual lines that these things are always packed w/th.

Great job darlin.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh great chapter! I just love your stories and this is no exception! Keep up the good work. Can't wait for another exciting instalment.

Judith said...

What a chapter. I so could see Richie acting like this, damn Tara, I know you can write Jon but hell you write an amazing Richie character.

I´m glad to hear your mum is doing better and you´re back to your old self too.

Keep the chapters coming! Great story!


Anonymous said...


I have just found this and, well OMG it’s just fantastic. You are a wonderful writer 

Can’t wait for more


Catte Sambora said...

"Where warmth and emotion had poured from him a moment ago, now there was this stranger that was becoming far too familiar to him. This was the Jon he didn’t want to be around anymore. Lost in his head, preoccupied and a shadow of the person he’d started this circus with a few years ago."

You nailed it, girl. Exactly how I imagine things must have been at that point in their lives.

You ROCK! :)

TaraLeigh said...

Welcome aboard, Charlie! Glad you're enjoying the story. This is definitely not the pretty version of the SWW/NJ time period.

Thanks everyone, for keeping up with my crappy posting schedule. I'm trying to get back on target with posts.

Jude--thanks girl--I really was worried about my Richie voice. I'm trying to get it down. His voice is much different than Jon's (IMHO) so I have to work hard to tell Jon to shut the hell up when I'm writing a Richie scene. LOL!

Jovi's Willow said...

Catte got it right in her comment. This is EXACTLY how I imagine things were between them and for the band in general at that time. I just love getting lost in your stories.

The Music

I'm no songwriter, so I snag music through the ages. Reality has no business in this story, so if I like the tone of the song, the words, the fun--anything goes. You'll see songs from 80's, 90's & Today. click on the links above for vids and downloads.