Juggling schedules for what Doc expected as their pseudo-manager, and what she, herself expected, left her with a day planner that rivaled most small businesses. But that’s really what Devotion was, a small business. She wanted them to be successful, and she’d learned early on, that no one would hand it to her. She’d have to fight for every last inch of ground that she gained.
Closing off that piece of her, she let the music free. Surprised that Jamie pulled a Runaways song out of her ass, she fell into the sassy lyrics easily. These were the bar songs of their youth. Who didn’t want to be the renegade that made the men in their lives twist with need?
Her gaze landed on Richie and the giggling batch of girls that had managed to get backstage by one means or another. Why did it have to be that man that made her twist? Unrequited love was great for lyrics, but in reality it just sucked.
The wide shoulders that had distracted her beyond coherent thought that morning were still on display. This time, just a normal black tank stretched across his chest. A tangle of crosses fit themselves right in the center—right where she wanted to be. Now that she knew just how warm he was right there, she couldn’t get it out of her mind. The pulse of his heart and the near furnace heat that pumped off of him practically called out to her.
And if the redhead didn’t stop touching that chest, she was going to rip off each and every one of her press on nails. But he didn’t look over at her. He’d been in the same room as her for an hour and not one word—hell, not even a glance in her direction—had passed between them.
She’d grown bored with flirting with other men. She had plenty of people to choose from. Even a cute doctor from Chicago had let it be known he was more than intersted. She’d bet her next royalty check he knew what to do with his wide surgeon’s hands too. The fact that she kept looking at them and wanting long, tapered fingers only pissed her off. He had to intrude on a healthy dose of interest in another guy too? That was just wrong.
She didn’t want to think about him right now. The abrupt switch in personality had thrown her off her stride all day. Her Richie wasn’t the arrogant ass that had left her on the roof with a nasty sneer. Her Richie teased her, and laughed with her. Her Richie was sweet and charming with his crooked mouth and flashing dimple.
His rich and way too tempting laugh broke into the AC/DC song the boys started to sing. Unwilling to let her good mood go to waste, she tugged on Jamie’s hand dragging her into the clutch of people dancing in the main room. She wasn’t in the mood to sing anymore. She wanted to move, to burn off some of the energy that always chased her after a show.
Glory Days blared from a stereo that had seen more busses and green rooms than she’d seen in her twenty-four years. She danced circles around a couple of guys that had just come in with fresh beers, stealing them with a smacking kiss and a teasing shimmy. She handed one to Jamie, pushing her forward until they landed in the middle of the crush of dancing bodies.
They belted out the chorus, downing one beer, then two. She needed to forget about Richie and the twisting need that was making her a basketcase. She wanted to have fun with her people and drown in the moment. This was what they worked so hard to find.
The time on the stage, getting their music out there for people to hear, and the adventure of life on the road could come to an end at any time. She wanted to remember every moment.
Jamie’s eyes held a glassy sheen that worried her a little. She was definitely taking full advantage of the backstage life, from men to booze. Not that Jamie had ever had a problem with partying. High school held little appeal beyond band practice for either one of them, but at least she’d stayed on the honor roll. Jamie had spent most of her formative years in detention or skipping class because she’d been out all night.
At least then it was just the fun, but now it was like she was trying to prove something—that she was just like the guys, that she could rock with the best of them on stage and off. Why she felt the need to prove that every night, she would never know.
Pushing that aside for tonight, she threw up her hands and danced back to back with her best friend. They’d earned a little circle of distance from the other dancers as if they were waiting for them to do something crazy. They were the two girls from Jersey again without a care in the world. If she closed her eyes, it felt like the Stone Pony all over again. Where things were simpler and dancing for the sake of dancing was the most pressing worry. The pulsing rhythm of Springsteen flowed into Bob Seager, and gave her a taste of wild.
Is this what Jamie felt like all the time? Her skin felt too tight, the buzz of beer flowing in her veins teased and taunted. Suddenly dry, she popped one of her lollipops into her cheek. She wasn’t a prude, far from it actually, but she rarely felt the need to explore the groupie scene. When she chose to get naked with a man, it generally was one that she knew the first and last name of, maybe even his occupation.
It was far too easy to lose yourself in the faceless sex that was offered up like M&M’s. It felt good for a moment, and then it was just nameless skin and meaningless sweat. It wasn’t worth the effort or the aftermath. So, she had fun, but rarely brought a boy back to the bus or her room. Tonight she wanted to be touched, wanted that brain melting kiss that made her feel alive and excited.
Her eyes found Richie in the crowd. That was the man she wanted to bring back to her room and find out just what bad could feel like. She had a feeling that everything about Richie would be pleasure. The kindness and the wild she saw in those deep brown eyes touched things inside her that no other man had ever managed to do.
And she’d tried to find it with other men. She wasn’t a nun. She was a healthy woman that liked sex and wanted to find that happily ever after. She even thought she found it for a little while, but it always came back to Richie somehow. She was afraid that it always would be Richie, no matter what or who came into her life.
She rolled the lollipop around her teeth, the click of candy echoing in her head. Don’t Stop Believin’ cranked out of the sound system and the sing along was contagious. Groupies to staffers, everyone tried out their Steve Perry imitation. Suddenly Richie was beside her, his arm hanging around Jamie’s neck, singing with his beer held high.
His deep, bluesy voice wasn’t right for the song, but the smile and the fun that seemed to permeate the very air around him infused the song. The people nearby were drawn to him. How could you resist Richie when he was smiling and laughing like that? There was nothing but that moment.
And when Richie dragged her into his side, his other arm around her as well, she told herself not to stiffen. She fisted the stick of her lollipop instead, the overwhelming cherry flavor too much with him right there. He didn’t need to know just how much he affected her, especially if he didn’t feel the same way.
Especially if she was firmly in the littler sister zone, no matter how much she wanted it to be different. And when his palm cupped her lower back as the song ended, he dipped her. Each and every solitary inch of her brushed along his warm chest and belly, her thigh sliding right between his. Their noses brushed and the laughter in the room faded back.
She could taste Miller High Life on his breath, responding immediately to the way he held her so gently and firmly. She gripped his shoulder, his hair brushing the back of her hand. God, it was so soft and feathery. It seemed to wrap right around her hand as if to hold her there, inviting her closer. The warmth at the back of his neck, the heat of him felt safe and larger than life. She wouldn’t fall in his arms—not onto the floor anyway.
Her eyes met his and locked. The deep dark brown wasn’t hidden with shades this time. Just Richie. Just an inch more and she’d actually feel those perfect lips on hers. It seemed as if time stopped in that instant. God, couldn’t he see how badly she wanted this? The air practically vibrated between them. When her lips parted and he licked his lower lip reflexively, she stilled.
Now, she wanted to shout. It had to be now, even with everyone around, the moment was right there for the taking. His dark eyes blended into the black of his pupils.
Instead of closing that last quarter of an inch, he swung her back up, taking two steps back.
She could see the quick intake of breath just before he plastered a smile on his face and hugged her tight. Immediately the brother again. She twisted away, pushing through the crowd, Jamison hot on her heels with a string of curses.
“Slow down, dammit!”
Ignoring her, she pushed her way through the crowd and out into the hallway. A few dark corners held occupants, but for the most part, it was blessedly empty. What the hell was wrong with him?
He wanted her.
She could see it in his eyes and in that ready hunger that he couldn’t quite hide. Fuck that if it was just a reaction to her as a woman—it was them.
“Leave it alone, Jamie.” She didn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t even want to think about Richie right now. Her nerve endings felt like she’d gotten too close to a live wire—all buzzy and painful.
Jamie gripped her upper arm. “Would you just hold up?”
She came to a stop, whirling on her until she was free. “What part of, ‘leave it alone’, aren’t you getting?”
“My brother’s just not too bright tonight. I don’t want you to be upset.”
“Upset? What’s there to be upset about?” She wanted to drag Richie into the nearest lock-tight room and make him talk. This constant shift from awareness to big brother was not working for her—at all.
“I know you, Stephanie Loren. Not to mention the stalking away tipped me off.”
“I’m not in the mood for you to be cute, Jamie.” Swallowing the fire breathing dragon that wanted to leap out at any Sambora right now was tough, but she did. It wasn’t Jamie’s fault her brother was a blind fool. “I’m just tired of this shit.”
Jamie hooked an arm around her neck and tipped her forhead to hers. “I don’t want you getting any more hooked on Richie than you already are, babes.”
She let out a long, slow breath, leaning against Jamie’s shoulder. “Too late.”
“He’s drunk and probably a little high. You can’t take anything he’s doing now seriously.”
“What if I want to take it seriously? What if I want to take advantage of every inch of him?”
Jamie scrunched up her face. “Man, that’s my brother.”
Steph sighed. “I know.” She knew firsthand what it was like to have girls go ga-ga over a brother. Peter was a few years younger than her, but damn if he didn’t have a batch of giggling girls circling him since he started his band. She didn’t want to think about it.
“Jamie, I’ve been in love with Richie about as long as I’ve been shaving my damn legs.”
“Man, I’m going to need to be far more inebriated than this to talk about you, my brother, and boom-shaka-laka-boom.”
She laughed. “I don’t need to discuss details about how naked I want him. I just want you to know I want him naked.”
Jamie pressed a hand to her belly. “I’m going to hurl.”
She popped the lollipop back in her cheek. “I think that’s the vodka and beer talking.”
Jamison burped indelicately. “Nope.” She wrinkled her nose. “It’s definitely the thought of you and my brother bumping uglies.”
She dropped down on one of the spare folding chairs littering the hallway. “Well, get used to it, chick.” Now that she knew he was at least interested, she had something to work with. One way or another she was going to make him see her way of things.
Jon was the one that made her lungs hurt. Knowing he was watching her had been enough to pump her veins full of adrenaline all over again. The anger and the lust in his eyes was as good as being on stage. The air crackling tension between them had her so turned on she couldn’t stand herself. Everything about Jon was heady and exciting, but instead of losing its edge it was only getting stronger. If she was honest with herself, she’d always been fascinated with him.
From the day Richie had brought him to the house all those years ago, there’d been something there. She could still see the fried bangs hanging over eyes that defied a mundane color like blue. He’d walked into the Sambora house with his hands stuffed in the pockets of too tight jeans, a crooked smile peeking when her mother fussed over him, and a shyness that could spin into a cocky swagger without warning.
Her nineteen year old hormones had sent up a have mercy flag so fast she’d nearly tripped her way out of the house. She would have sliced her own throat before admitting that he freaked her out, but Steph had known. Without saying a word, Steph had gone into the kitchen for ice cream and fudge. She understood, more than anyone, what it was like to be pole axed by a man.
He made her insane. She could admit that. Okay, so it took four years to admit it, but dammit she didn’t like someone else ruling her emotions, even if they were just hormones. Hormones she understood, and she could deal with that.
Sometime between the release of Devotion’s first album and the tour, she’d figured out that the only way to get rid of this thing between them was to face it head on. She was a Sambora, and Samboras didn’t run from their fears. They faced them, and often laughed at them—but oh no, they never ran.
She knew she shouldn’t want him. In fact, she knew it was a bad idea on the all around to even think about getting horizontal with him. And that, she knew perversely, was exactly why she couldn’t think of anything or anyone else.
Feigning a pleasured moan, she readjusted Blarry to the other side of her neck. If he gave her a hickey, she’d shoot him. Or let Jon shoot him. He had a nice little fascination with guns right now, so it probably wouldn’t take that much to push him over the edge.
Tsk, tsk, you shouldn’t even think that kind of thing.
Ignoring that little voice, she didn’t have to fake the next little moan. Well, well, maybe Blarry would do for a quickie. She liked to feel good. Sex loosened her muscles and dissolved the last of the hypersensitivity that a good show left behind. After a few weeks, she’d learned that she couldn’t shut things down after a show without help. Sex was a quick way to pop those little buzzy bubbles and make the evening more manageable.
She heard the clink of Blarry’s buckle and pressed a condom into his fumbling hand.
“Aww c’mon. It doesn’t feel nearly as good with one of those things on. You’re on the pill right?”
God, could the man get a little bit more original? “I may be on the pill, but how many thighs did you try to get between without a wrapper there, stud?”
With a baleful smile, he ripped into the packet. “I wanna make it good for you and these just kill the buzz.”
They kill your buzz, not mine. She reached into his jeans, a little disappointed that he was barely average, but knew it would do the job. She’d make it do the job. She just needed to take the edge off, and she could go back and hang out with her girls.
When she closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the pleasure she could bilk out of nearly any man, but all she saw was a pair of intense blue eyes. Eyes that were just as angry as they were turned on. Blarry’s fingers weren’t Jon’s. They were working man’s hands, with calluses and jagged nails. And normally she was more than okay with a blue collar boy, but right now all she wanted was Jon’s slim hips pinning her to the tile.
She wanted Jon’s soft hands with the tiny little calluses at the fingertips from the guitar. Even as Blarry tried his damndest to get her off, she knew it wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t Jon—and evidently only Jon—that would do tonight.
She turned up the little actress inside of her and prepared to get rid of him as soon as possible.
After setting Blarry on his way with a smile and a cocky whistle that he so didn’t deserve, she tucked her hair up and showered off the lingering Marlboro and sweat scent of him.
Trying not to think too hard about the fact that she picked the stall Jon had been in, she fingered the empty beer can on the ledge. She stretched her fingers over the tile, letting the surprisingly punishing spray do its job. Her body had been used, but not the way she wanted. The groupies were growing old. The ability to find anything fascinating about them was hard to come by, especially when the one man she wanted was just a step out of reach.
She shook her hair free of the towel and dragged on stretch pants and an oversized AC/DC shirt she’d inherited from Richie. The ripped collar dripped off her shoulder, leaving it bare. She stuffed her feet into ballerina flats. Seduction techniques were done for the night. She followed the laughter and found an impromptu jam session going on backstage.
The guys from Cinderella had stopped in with a still bandaged up Tom Keifer. She was pleased to see him enjoying himself despite the surgery he’d just come out of a few weeks ago.
The slow eyed look he gave her, with a flash of a finger wave, made her grin. Evidently he was on a very good painkiller to make him forget the opportunity that Devotion had snatched away from them. Thankfully they were a good bunch of guys. Most guys would be bitter, but Tom was a sweet guy and his partner in crime, Eric Brittingham, was right beside him.
She grinned and flirted her way through the crowd, snagging a beer from Richie when a blonde in inky black distracted him. She waggled her brows at him when he tried to snatch the bottle back and made a bee-line for Stephanie who was on the other side of Eric. A soulful clash of acoustic guitars, tambourine, and…she laughed—a cow bell, were tearing up The Boys Are Back In Town.
She put her hands on Steph’s shoulders and they both laughed through the chorus as Steph belted out an extended note. Eric dragged her around and settled her on his lap, his lemon blonde hair tickling her face as it tangled with her own dark strands. As always, when it came to Eric, there was a simple companionable vibe between them. They’d tried the naked thing and ended up laughing more than meshing. He was the perfect foil when she didn’t feel like fending off groping hands.
He draped an arm over her shoulder, not a lick of sexuality in the move, but she could feel eyes on her. Not just eyes, but a searing Superman death ray. Jamie looked up—not like she had a choice.
Jon was across the room with a girl on each side of him. Dangerously long red, porn star nails dug into his belly as the girl to his right tried to keep his attention. She had her teeth fastened around his ear and the other hand sliding down over the bulge of his jeans.
The cocky tilt to his jaw and the way he kissed the girl on his left coiled into her belly with a white hot anger. As he deepened the kiss, he opened his eyes latching onto hers. She could see the tangle of tongues and the soft, wet lower lip glisten in the shadowed corner.
Oh, is that how he wanted to play it? A little tit for tat, then?
Lust and anger coagulated into a throaty laugh as she hooked her arm around Eric’s back. Jon wasn’t going to drive her insane—nope, he wasn’t. If she didn’t get herself under control, that bitch with her tongue down his throat was going to find out what it felt like to have it cut out with a guitar pick.
Hoping that her smile didn’t look like The Joker on crack, she dragged Eric’s guitar up on her lap. She strummed out the first chords to Satisfaction and had the whole of the group laughing as they joined in.
Eric played the neck of the guitar and she strummed, bouncing unnecessarily on his lap. Tit for tat indeed, you son of a bitch. Even as the song went into the gutter, and she laughed with the group, she could feel the heat of his stare from across the room. She would ignore him, dammit. What, this was supposed to be a dose of her own medicine? Pride made her lift her chin and stare right back at him.
When he melted into the hallway with both of them, she chained up the anger and took it out on the guitar. Eric’s raised brow was the only indicator that anyone noticed. When she started picking out the chords to Cherry Bomb, Steph laughed.
The knots and the tension finally eased about halfway through the song. As always, the music eased her. The rowdy lyrics, and the laughter along with the innuendo put her in a great mood.
Hey street boy whats your style
Your dead end dreams don't make you smile
I'll give ya something to live for
Have ya, grab ya 'til you're sore
She leaned into her girl and all was right with her world again.
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.