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.
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.