She'd been the first to arrive. Happy to have time to tune her favorite Ibinez before the endless soundcheck checklist, she tried to even herself out. She pressed her lips together, trying to ignore the lingering tingle from her full on frontal assault to Jon's stubborn streak.
She'd pushed herself on him, wanting him to see her over the incident, to want her and that moment alone. Instead she'd tripped over a double whammy of vulnerability and sensitivity that had her more wound up than ever. She wanted to get him out of her system, not get him under her skin. The sadness had kicked her in the gut and all she could think about doing was easing it.
Okay, so still wanted to ease his jeans open too. Whatever.
"Jamie," she corrected automatically before looking up. Immediately she wanted her sunglasses back. Reporters always saw too much. She tucked a lock of crimson streaked hair behind her ear. Her makeup was flawless, dammit. She had nothing to worry about. "Hello, Mr. Loder."
He sat down across from her, a pleasant smile on his slim face. Smile lines dug grooves into his cheeks. Either he loved to smile, or he faked it a damn lot. "Same goes, I'm Kurt." He got up from his seat quickly, held his hand out to her and it was a firm shake. His hands were paper smooth, not the softness of Jon, but the man was definitely a desk jockey.
He sat back in the dirctor style chair crossing long, thin legs in that way that always made her wince. How did guys sit like that? Where did their junk go? He gripped a sheaf of papers in his long fingers. "I'm sorry you had to sacrifice one of your days off. I hear it's a rare occurrance on this tour."
"You're not kidding there." She looked back down at her battered acoustic, her fingers quickly strumming and tuning automatically. So much for her semi-quiet moment alone. Ingrained habits--well, more like beaten into her habits, mom didn't abide by rude children--had her smiling politely at him. "Thanks for including Steph and me into the interview. We appreciate it."
"I caught the show last night. I'm anxious to see how you do with acoustics. Your performance last night was," he paused as if picking out the right words was something he did carefully. "It was surprising. Not everyone can pull off a great sound live."
Her eyebrow rose with her smirk. "We're not a studio band, Kurt. We love that stage more than anything else. I don't care if it's a bar, a club, or a stadium--we'll play the hell out of that crowd and win them over or die trying."
"Remember that answer for the cameras. It's a good one."
She smiled, strumming absently. Stephanie came through the door, white jeans cupped her curvy hips, black leather and jangling chains dripped off a wide belt slung low on her left side. An off the shoulder black top showed off the summer sun kissed shoulders peeking from her flowing curls.
At first glance, she was a cross between a cheerleader and rockstar, but when you looked closer, it was the teasing cherry stained lollipop stick that put her firmly in the rockstar column. No one could make a piece of candy sexier than her best girl.
Steph laughed over her shoulder at Jon and Richie picking up the rear. Her brother had dressed up as much as she had for the little jam session. She smiled wider when she saw the small holes at the hem of his faded Eric Clapton t-shirt. Jeans older than dirt, and tighter than was wise, showed off his skinny legs and flipper feet. God, she loved her brother.
Jon, however, had put on his blase rocker mask with wide tinted glasses. It should have dialed down the wattage of his blue-blue eyes, but the amber only made them that much more interesting. His smile was shark dangerous and any of the vulnerabilities she's seen only hours ago were gone as if they'd never been. Faded jeans with ripped out knees matched his torn to shit James Dean t-shirt leaving half his chest on display. Too bad it was so delicious to look at. Careless curls spilled around his face without any of the Aqua Net artifice. How he managed to look soft and arrogant at the same time was beyond her.
Kurt stood, introducing himself to Steph before falling into the easy celebrity small talk with her brother and Jon. This was old hat to them, but for her and Steph it was the big time. She sat down next to her, Steph's wide summer sky eyes twinkling with excitement.
"Where's your guitar?"
Steph waved her lollipop. "I'm too nervous to play. Besides with you three, you don't need me and my lame strumming."
She still strummed aimlessly, grinning at her. "Nah, you can find a chord or two when you want to."
"Ha-ha funny girl." Steph looked her up and down. "So happy you dressed up for the occasion."
"What? You don't like my outfit?"
"I think I saw those jeans on our floor last night."
She grinned. "Probably."
"God, you're gross."
"Hey, they wanted informal, everyday Jamie--this is what they get."
Steph rolled her eyes. "A Rainbow Bright t-shirt and jeans?"
She held up her hand. "Don't forget my black jelly braclets and lace glove."
"You're only wearing that because one more time off and it will be shredded."
She wiggled the fingers of her right hand, the threadbare glove--indeed her favorite--had seen better days, but she'd worn it the day she'd played live for the first time on the tour. It had meaning dammit.
Jon dropped onto the stool next to Steph, his legs wide, fingers curled around the seat. A battered cowboy boot clicked against the bottom rung to her strumming. He nodded to her and softly murmured the words to the song she hadn't even known she was playing.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Kurt nod to the camera guy, but even with the camera intruding the careless chemistry was there.
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
Richie lifted his guitar and immediately the song melded and layered into something lovely. The songs of Dylan and the Beatles were a staple among the long days on the bus or waiting in the confines of one hotel or the other.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
Stephanie's sweet voice crooned into Jon's. Dylan's Forever Young suited their two voices as if they'd hand chosen the song. It had only been something she'd been fiddling with, she hadn't even known she was playing the song until Jon had picked out the words.
Richie's soulful voice picked up the next verse.
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
The four of them all took over the last verse. The hairs on her arm stood up as their voices blended and Steph powerhoused the long notes of the bridge.
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
She couldn't stop the smile when Richie picked his way through a complicated and somehow flowing solo. He left the table wide open for her, and she followed his lead without the least bit of trouble. It couldn't have been rehearsed and been any better. When Jon pulled out his harmonica she knew the song had been kismet. The whistling echo of the blues came out of two rock bands from New Jersey.
The room was silent at the end of the song.
Kurt spoke to the camera, the handheld mic with the boxy MTv logo drilled it home. Holy shit, they were going to be on fucking TV.
"For those of you unaware of the legendary Bob Dylan, that was his song Forever Young performed here in Kansas City. I'm here with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi, as well as a new talent, Devotion's Stephanie Loran and Jamison Sambora who just happen to be the opening act for the second leg of Bon Jovi's sold out Slippery When Wet tour."
Jamie smiled, hoping she didn't look as terrified as she suddenly felt. The stage, she was good at--hell, even great at. On camera? Man, she always felt like an idiot. She rubbed her left hand on her jeans, praying that it didn't show up like a the strip of dark, slick sweat it was on camera.
"So, Richie, how does it feel to have your little sister out on tour with you?"
If Richie was worried about the sudden backhand slap she wanted to give him, he didn't show it. He grinned, that charming dimpled smile and laughed. "It's harder to have two talented Samboras in the house than have her on tour with us."
"Oh yeah?" Kurt prompted.
"Now don't look at it like it's a bad thing. Jamie's the talented one in the family. I'm the self taught mutt that just loves to play."
Kurt smiled. "I don't think your fans would agree, but it's interesting that you are self-taught."
"Our parents taught us to love music," she chimed in. "It just so happens that I fell in love with the guitar. At least I didn't trip over the accordion before I found my instrument."
"You wouldn't have found your instrument if it wasn't for me," Richie shot back with a good natured laugh.
Steph crossed her legs swinging the the black stiletto off the end of toe. "But she'd still be playing in her bedroom if I hadn't dragged her away from her nine to five boring job and convinced her to join Devotion."
"Didn't take much convincing. I was a lousy bank teller. They kept telling me I had too much attitude."
"Got that right," Richie muttered.
She shot Richie a sneer. "At least I showed up in the mornings. You could only hold a job if it started at noon."
"I need my beauty sleep, unlike this one." He thumbed to Jon. "He's not human."
The wry grin was pure interview Jon. He always looked slightly bored, and yet full of inner secrets that kept the interviewer pushing for more. Kurt was no different.
"So, there's no problem with the male-female dynamic and touring?"
Stephanie popped in a fresh lollipop. "I think we're all professional enough to know that the music and the tour comes first. Not to say that a little fun doesn't happen on the road." She glanced at Richie, her eyes still playful even as Richie's went dark and quiet.
Jamie laughed. "You just threw 9 children in adult suits on the road, fun is only part of what we have."
"Should we look for reports of hotel fires and destruction?" Kurt asked with half a laugh, and half seriousness.
"Nah, Vince Neil does that enough for all of us," Jon said with a smirk.
Jamie stuck her pick in her mouth to tune her guitar again. They just had a better clean up crew. Doc was a master at damage control. It was the only reason Richie still didn't know just how bad Alec had gotten. Of course Richie didn't want to see it. He was the one that kept Jon optimistic about life and the music these days. Watching Jon's eyes slowly start to twinkle again as the inside jokes flew between him and Richie as they answered the typical questions eased the knot that had been sitting in her belly.
Stephanie bumped her shoulder. "You're far too quiet over there," she said under her breath.
Before she could come up with an excuse that would get Steph off her scent, Richie started the opening bars for Never Say Goodbye. Jon's smoky voice was pure sin with his eyes closed, hair falling forward to tease along his jawline.
She looked away from him, there was a rawness there that only came out when his emotions were too close to the surface. Richie's harmonies were so clear that it only made Jon sound that much rougher. But it wasn't in a bad way. It hurt, dammit. It hurt in places that she had no defense for.
With his head bowed for Richie's solo, she snuck a peek. Jon's fingers were curled around the stool, between his legs his knuckles white. Where the hell was he in the song, and how the hell was she going to sing her parts in the next song? Her throat burned as the music dug into her. Her brother's heart-on-his-sleeve solo finished the job.
Never the same, Richie's solos always took on a different flavor depending on his mood. Her eyebrow lifted as she caught Stephanie's fingers digging into her jeans. She looked up at Richie, his head back and his throat working a swallow. Stephanie nearly vibrated beside her, the tambourine clutched in her other hand. For God's sake the little chimes on the handle were going to start clinking.
Jamie laid her hand over hers for a moment, until the breath Steph had been holding eased out of her. Jon and Richie finished out the song, and thankfully the small crowd had been focused on them, and not the wrecked girls to their left.
They took a break, everyone getting up to stretch as Kurt checked his notes for the second half of the interview. Before Steph could disappear, she tugged on one of her chains. "I have an idea."
"That never bodes well for me."
"I know we were going to do the current single, but maybe we should something else. Show them that we can do the harmonies too. It's a big part of our act."
Steph's lollipop twitched back and forth. "Nothing that's going to make me look like an ass, all right?"
"You know me better than that."
Steph bit down on her tootsie pop, her smile a little sly. "I think you've got a little of that evil Jamison in you, today."
She picked out the notes on her guitar, thumping her hand on her guitar until the song was nearly tribal. It was obvious that Steph recognized it since her eyebrows shot up into her bangs.
"Man, without a warmup?" Steph tucked her arms under her breasts.
"C'mon, you can sing anywhere, anytime with or without a warmup. Do it." Jamie swung her guitar around her back.
"There's no pianos."
Jamie waved that off. "Richie will pick it up quickly for a really good layering. He loves his soul. C'mon...Do it."
Steph looked over her shoulder and Jamie followed her eyes. Oh man, this song was going to go straight into the gutter. Richie was toast. She found Jon making small talk with one of the techs, fiddling with his rings. As if he'd known she was staring at him, he suddenly met her eyes.
The low simmer she'd been dealing with for the last half hour shot up to a boil. Everything inside her said go-attack-drag him off until no one could find them.
This song probably wasn't her smartest idea.
“Leave it, James.”
She arched a brow and crossed her arms over her red bikini top. “Hey, you crashed my party, not the other way around.”
He jammed his hands into his pockets. “I didn’t know you were up here.”
“Yeah well, that was the point.” She’d hoped that baking in the sun would erase some of the ache that was a constant reminder of her prize title loss with Alec. Nothing like a fist full of metal to leave a lasting impression. It didn’t bother her most of the time, and the little fuck was smart enough to stay away from her, but the bruises were fading into an ugly yellow that was hard to cover with makeup.
Not to mention that it was too damn hot to have her hair down in her face. At least up here, she was alone and she’d found sunglasses large enough to escape most of the questions. Not to mention that she was sick of tripping over a bandmate, roommate, or fan every five seconds. She'd just needed a little chill time and rooftops were becoming her safe haven.
He took a step back toward the door, but she reached out for his hand. “No, it’s okay.”
Instead of letting her go, his fingers twisted with hers, pulling her closer. He was overthinking something. Of course, when wasn't he overthinking something? She frowned, jerking back when his other hand came up to slip her shades down. “Don’t.”
“Let me see.”
Normally she’d tell him to jump off the damn roof, but there was something in his eyes that held her tongue. Something a little sad and hurt. She flipped the shades into her hair, letting him see the naked truth of the violence that had touched her—touched him. Alec was from Jon's neighborhood. For God's sake, he'd known him before he could even pretend he was legal. She could practically smell the responsibility on his skin like a cologne. "It's not your fault you know."
He didn't answer her, instead he brushed her cheek with the back of his knuckles. Butterfly wings held more substance than that subtle touch. And when nothing between them could ever be called subtle, she knew they were in deep shit. Between his bleak eyes and the uncharacteristic gentleness, she couldn't even push his buttons. What the hell was he thinking?
She could normally read him. Just give a girl a few years of do-anything-to-avoid-being-alone with him, then a few months of a constant diet and voila! Instant specialist--Riiiight. But there was one thing she did know, his eyes were the only way to read him. Even at his most serious there were times when his blue eyes danced with an inner laughter he didn’t let out nearly enough. But there was no laughter right now. Just a bone-deep sadness that he didn’t need to shoulder alone.
She took his hand and pressed it to her cheek. “I’m fine. No lasting damage.” When he only stared at her, not seeing her, just the bruise, she lifted onto her toes until there was no room for error—until his eyes met hers. “I’m all right, Jon.”
“It could have been so much worse.”
The misery in his voice had her voice gentling. Firm wasn’t going to work here. Firm would just start a fight, and she just didn’t have it in her this afternoon. She stepped into him, her hand resting at the center of his chest. She could feel the crinkle of hair under the faded T-shirt. She wanted, more than anything, to get under that shirt and feel his skin. She wanted to tangle her fingers in the crisp hair and drag in all that warm Jon smell. No cologne, just soap and something darker--something that promised sweat and a pleasure no other man could give her.
She swallowed a groan. It just couldn't be healthy to be this wound up over one guy. Instead, she smoothed her way up to his neck, into the heavy curls that just wouldn’t stay away from his face. She moved in closer, their eyes locked as she brushed her lips with his.
He stood still. Hell, was he even breathing? She hovered there, the heat of his lips and the lingering bite of whisky was there between them.
“But it wasn’t. I’m here, and I’m fine.” She was so close to him that each word brought their lips together for just a teasing moment. “Can’t you feel how alive I am?”
He wanted to back up. She could feel it in the utter motionlessness of him. It was as if everything stopped, heart, mind, and even the light breeze didn't dare move. Didn’t he realize the freedom here? There was no one to see, no one to know if he touched her—if she touched him. A hidden pocket of time that was just theirs. If she didn’t think he needed it just as much as she did, she wouldn’t have pressed the issue.
But he did. And if she couldn’t have all of him, she could have this tiny moment. And she took it.
She bit down on his lower lip. God, it was soft. She watched him day in and day out, and always it was the lips that drew her—so soft and sexy. The rest of him was so angular, but those lips? The tender fullness slowly slid through her teeth, and she wanted it back almost instantly. His only reaction was the dilation of his pupils. She took a return trip with the tip of her tongue, finally finding the warmth of him. And there in the moment where the only connection was here, breath to breath, he still watched her.
Long and slow, there was a softness and giving between them where they’d only known the hard edge of lust. Her eyes fluttered shut to accept and remember every little flick and bite. Nothing had ever tasted like him. It was as if she'd been waiting just for this singular flavor. Mint, heat and the smoky edges of whisky. He kept her on the precipice, even though the freefall of lust was right there waiting stage left. She couldn’t—wouldn’t—ask for more right now.
His fingers slid down to her shoulders, brushed through the ends of her hair and across the fullness of her breasts lifted by the bikini. Her entire body shuddered in reaction. She could hear his breathing, or was it hers? She could barely hear above the roaring in her ears. Then all that was left was sunshine on her skin and her lips, and the soft snick of the door when he left her alone to her rooftop.
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.