Richie stuffed his duffel in the corner of his hotel room, slamming his guitar case onto the dresser. Tico only raised an eyebrow and sipped on a Coke. Glad his rotation included the non-judgemental T tonight, he dug out his shaving kit and closed himself in the bathroom.
She'd avoided him for the last two days, and the few times he'd actaully gotten a glimpse of her pretty blue eyes they'd looked as bruised as a kicked puppy's. "Shit," he muttered and spun the dial for a hot shower. Maybe he could push back the hangover and the headache at the same time.
The second half of the MTV thing had been a lesson in patience. She'd laughed, she'd sung, she'd flirted, but she'd never looked his way once. In fact, the cameras had gotten an eyeful of her on Jon's lap as they did the MTV promo spot for the interview. Fucking hell. He could still see the pink stained stick slide back and forth along her lips. She'd slashed on some sort of gloss just to make sure his dick was as hard and aching as every other male viewer. Even now, his cock wanted a piece of her. He pushed it down with a washcloth, hissing as his blue balls status entered day three.
Could he have cured it? Sure, ten times over, but each time he thought about burying himself in an anonymous woman he saw Stephanie's shattered eyes. Not to mention that his body craved more than just a quick orgasm and that pissed him off beyond belief.
He tipped the showerhead up as far as it would go, but he still had stoop under it and then only a miserly spray spit down on him. Great. He couldn't even drown his sorrows in the fucking shower. He soaped up, swiping a razor over his face for good measure before he got out.
He cinched the towel around his hips tightly when he noticed his sister sitting on his bed Indian style and Tico's baritone laugh filling the room. "What are you doing here, brat?"
He grabbed his jeans and ducked back into the bathroom hiking them on before he returned. He frowned at the cigarette in her hand. She was hanging out with Tico way too much. "Hiding from who?" He asked, stealing her cig as he dropped onto the bed beside her, stretching out along the top.
She growled, lighting another before blowing a stream at him. "From Steph."
He sat up. "Is something wrong?"
Jamie elbowed him back down. "Relax, Romeo, she's just on the warpath. Her allergies are on fire and she's miserable as shit. If I didn't find someplace to go I was gonna kill her and she's the breadwinner, so I can't do that."
"Oh, well she should go hang out with Jon then. They're probably in the same boat." He rolled onto his back, talking around the cigarette between his teeth.
She looked over her shoulder. "What? So neither of us keeps the singer?"
He snorted. "Good point." He propped his head on his hand. "Hell, I can sing."
Tico gave a return snort. "Sure you can, amigo. You just have to remember to come out from those guitar orgasms."
Jamie laughed, leaning back on him. "Oh brother, mine...you so get lost in the moment. You'd have to work on that."
He frowned, nudging her forward. He'd fronted plenty of bands over the years, but let the offense roll off his back. He didn't want all the crap that Jon dealt with on a daily basis anyway. The man didn't know how to have a good time lately and that was just not cool. What the hell did they do all this for?
Jamie slid off the bed, her torn jeans leaving just a little too much on display as far as he was concerned. He frowned as she turned around. "What?"
"Do you really have to walk around with half your ass on display?"
She turned toward Tico with a smirk. "I don't know, you think it's too much?"
His eyebrow rose, but he just shook his head. "I'm not sure when you thought I left beind good sense, querida."
Her smile was wide and teasing. "See?"
Richie growled. "That was Tico speak for yes."
"It was not!" Jamie dropped on Tico's lap with the born agility of a woman used to men of all shapes and sizes. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "C'mon, Papa Bear. Tell my big, overprotective brother that I'm dressed like a lady."
He only gave her mild look and hugged her in. "You are a lady, querida, but you certainly don't dress like one."
"Oooh," Richie hissed and rolled into a seated position. "Burn."
The slapping flat of a palm hit their door like a battering ram. "Let me in!"
Jamie crossed her legs and stayed in Tico's lap. "Man, Ashley crashed and burned too."
Richie stood. "Why the fuck are you all coming to my damn room?" He swung open the door and found himself with an armful of the blonde tasmanian devil. "Hiya, Ash."
Her wide blue eyes were rimmed in purple sparkles today with matching tips on her too white for reality hair. She latched onto his shoulders, her lids lowering from hectic to sultry. "Well hello there, Stud," she purred.
Richie set her down on her feet. "Behave."
She crossed her arms over her non-existent breasts, silver bracelets tinkling up to her elbows. "One of these days I'll find you willing, cowboy."
He just grinned down at her, unoffended but slightly afraid. "You'd probably kill me."
She drilled her finger into his bare chest. Her eyes had a predatory gleam that prickled the tiny hairs at the nape of his neck. "Oh but what a way to go, Sugar."
Suddenly he felt naked enough to warrant a shirt. Christ, that woman was a menace. Tasmanian devil was only one of the words for her. She flew in and left destruction in her wake at all times. He wasn't even sure if he would enjoy having her on top of him, and that was a rarity. Usually he liked the wild women, but Ashley might just be overkill.
She dropped on his bed, her little purple shorts leaving her glitter spun legs on display from ankle to cheek. Christ, didn't any of the girls cover their ass these days? She blew a bubble-Hubba Bubba Grape to be exact-and smiled up at him when he reached for his shirt. "Aww, c'mon Richie. I only bite a little."
Instead of playing into that game he just plopped himself down on Tico's bed. "And what are you doing here?"
"What? I can't come and visit?"
"Oh quit pouting, hussy, you're going to give my brother a complex."
Ash just shrugged and gave a sigh. "Steph threw my black and pink drumsticks at my head and threatened to shave my head. It was time to leave."
Jamie winced. "I see her mood hasn't gotten any better?"
The two girls burst into giggles as the door opened wide this time, no knock. "Save me!"
Richie flopped back with a groan as Ronnie slammed the door behind herself, leaning heavily on the door. There was way too much estrogen in the room, man. He turned to see Tico grinning like a maniac. He loved the girls to distraction, firmly putting himself in the father role without a hint of remorse. And like any Cuban, the daughters could do no wrong. He reached for Tico's pack of Marbs and took another lungful of smoke. Between Steph and Jamie he was already up to half a pack a day again. They were driving him nuts.
"Look what she did to my boots!" Ronnie held up one purple boot, the heel cracked in half. She held the other one to her chest like a baby, her eyes smudged with tears.
"Okay, okay," Jamie hopped up and took the boots away from her. When Ronnie only wailed, she patted her shoulder. "It's okay. We'll get them fixed."
"Shhh..." Jamie and Ashley rose to comfort her.
"Christ." Richie only rolled his eyes and prayed for death.
Jamie frowned over her shoulder. "Pretend it was one of your guitars, asshole."
Richie winced. Okay, so it was a good point.
"But they're my lucky boots!" Ronnie wailed and Richie popped up off the bed. That was more than enough. He shrugged into his purple button down shirt, rolling up the sleeves as he stuffed his feet into his flips. Steph was probably beyond miserable and just needed a little cheering up.
"Where are you going?"
He stubbed out his cigarette. "I'm going to deal with Steph since all you guys seem to do is antagonize her."
Jamie just folded her arms and smirked at him. "Right."
Richie frowned. "What?"
"You and Steph should just get it over with."
His whole body stilled. "Excuse me?"
She rolled her eyes, let her head fall back. "Just kiss her, fuck her, and get it over with. You guys have been mooning over each other for years."
Wincing at his sister's coarse statement, he hunched his shoulders. "We have not!"
"Oh c'mon, like she's kept it a secret. And I know you better than that. You've had the hots for her at least since we started this tour, if not sooner. Hell, probably since we were kids."
He gave his sister a bland look.
She poked him in the chest. "Aha! I knew it!"
Richie batted her hand away. "Can it, brat."
"You're not denying it."
"So, you're hot for Steph?" Ashley asked, her legs crossed, foot bouncing with some internal rhythm that only she knew.
Richie pinched the bridge of his nose. "You girls are all delusional. Are you all on your period or something?"
The chorus of hissing insults had the desired effect. Instead of focusing on Ash's question, they all berated him and his sexist statement. He grew up with a sister for fuck's sake, he knew what buttons to push. "Hey, I don't need to take this abuse. I'm out of here."
Jamie frowned at him as he gathered his key and a movie from the bag of stash. "Sneaky, Sambora."
He raised his eyebrows, all innocence, but didn't say a word and slipped out the door. Whistling his way down the hall, he slid the movie in and out of its sheath. He knocked on Steph's door, but didn't get an answer. No way in hell he was returning to that room full of vipers, so he headed downstairs. Maybe she was in the lobby. Finding a mercifully empty of fans lobby, he tapped one long finger on the case. "Where the heck are you?"
Stepping outside, he headed for the back where the busses were stashed. Mike, their driver, was leaning against the Devotion bus, a misty stream of smoke firing out his nose even as he was mid puff on another draw. "Steph in there?"
"If you mean Godzilla, then yes."
Richie smirked. "I was just thinking you looked like Godzilla, brother."
Mike gave a rueful smile. "I drive girls around, I know when to make tracks. Doesn't mean I get clear of the damage every time."
He winced. Maybe going in there wasn't a good idea. They were already on uneven ground with each other. He stroked his neck, looking up at the tinted windows. Music pulsed from the bus. Angry and humming, the wail of the synthesizers and Dave Gahan's haunting voice was on max volume over the bus's stereo system. Taking a deep breath he popped the doors.
He liked Depeche Mode as well as the next person, but crackling speakers weren't his idea of entertainment. He'd have to ask Doc to upgrade their equipment. He dropped the movie on the table as he headed into the main living area. They were musicians for fuck's sake, at least they could afford decent--his brain emptied completely as he caught sight of Steph.
Threadbare boxer shorts hugged her perfect ass and a t-shirt so old it probably followed her out of high school skimmed her waist. Her hair was scraped on the top of her head with some sort of girl thing, the tail flopped around her ear to tickle her cheek. She swiped at it every time she leaned forward to tug a pillow free, and each pass left a square of tanned skin visible just at the dip of her spine. His tongue itched to taste it. He wanted to drag his tongue up her spine until he could bury his nose in all that amazing hair of hers.
His flips bumped a pile of sheets in various colors heaped in the center of the bus. Dust motes danced in the miserly sunbeams that creeped around the tinted shields. She was obviously in the middle of some sort of cleaning spree. Her bare toes dug into the carpet, stretching as far as she could go for a pillow stuffed in the corner the top bunk. Without thought, he reached around her to grab the pillow and she yelped, stumbling back into him.
Catching her around the waist, he groaned as her entire curvy package slammed into him, shoving him back into Blueballsville. Her shirt was loose enough that instead of an armful of cotton he found a warm, silky belly and the curve of very naked breasts brushing the tips of his fingers. He groaned, automatically dragging her in closer. His cock fit perfectly along the rise of her ass and it took everything inside him not to cup her breast. He wanted to see how she fit his hand and if her nipples would harden in his palms. Would they be dark or pale pink?
She flipped around in his arms and he nearly took her right there. God, he wanted her so bad. His raging hard on was now snuggled up between them. In five seconds flat he could have her shorts down around her fucking ankles and his cock buried deep inside her. Fuck, he could just move shit aside and make it work.
His fingers bit into her hips, already lifting her up to her toes. Her nails dug into his shoulders, her endless sky blue eyes hooded with lust and surprise. He dipped his mouth to hers, just a breath away. Madness rode him, buzzing in his brain until it was numb. He'd wanted her for what felt like forever. Her breath hitched and instead of her mouth, he brushed his nose along her jaw, one hand coming up to her hair, yanking at whatever it was that kept her hair out of reach.
She moaned, reaching up to help him. "God, yes," he hissed as her hair flowed down around his hands and cheek. He lifted her up, his lips brushing along her neck until he could bury his face in the candy summer scent of her. Her arms came up and around him, hugging him in closer. The driving beat of the song didn't help him.
Christ, Jesus the woman was going to kill him. She was warm and beyond willing, just a gentle nudge and he could have her. All those curves, all that softness wrapped around him until he was lost in her. Maybe too lost.
He lowered her feet to the floor, his forehead resting on her shoulder until he could shift his brain into gear. She wasn't just anyone. He couldn't just fuck her and get her out of his system. Things between him and Steph couldn't--and shouldn't--ever be like that.
He forced his fingers to uncurl from the boxers he'd twisted into a death grip, groaning when his palm found the warm skin of her back. He traced his fingertips along her spine intent on soothing instead of revving her up. Of course trying to tell his cock that was useless. It wanted inside, it wanted relief and that's about all it fucking cared about.
As much as he wanted to hunt under the wash-worn shirt and find the heaven he knew was waiting for him, he lowered his hand to her waist and stepped back. "I'm sorry," he said hoarsely.
Her fingers dug into his shoulders. "You cannot keep doing this to me." Her voice was rough and a little stuffy. She stepped back, looking up at him with eyes that were equal parts wounded and turned on. Her hands didn't move away from him though. Every part of her was vibrating with hurt and anger now.
He cupped her face, his thumbs tracing over her cheeks as he brushed a barely there kiss over her startled lips. "I swear I didn't mean to." He rested his forehead on hers. "I came in here to cheer you up and there you were all angry and determined--getting your clean on and I just lost it. I can't stop wanting you Steph."
"Who the heck is asking you to?" Her fingers wrapped around his wrists tightly. She popped up on her toes again and he lifted his chin. If he started kissing her, he'd be gone. She dropped back down, stomping over to the remote to turn down the music. "You're the only man I know that can drive me to committ murder."
He laughed for the first time in what felt like hours, hell...even days. He looked around the totaled room, then back to her, kissing her temple before he stepped back. "Let me stay and cheer you up."
"What, so I can get more frustrated?"
He traced a finger down one of her huge take-me-to-bed curls and flicked it over her shoulder. "My head's a mess, Steph. I've been running on fumes for months and I just can't take the chance that we'll mess shit up if we hook up." He knew in his heart that once he had her, he'd never let her go.
He was happy with the circus, he lived for the stage and the lights, he lived for the music. He had the brass ring right there. They'd finally kicked the door open, and there was no slowing down. How could he expect to salvage anything with any woman, let alone one as important as Steph with all that in the mix?
She didn't even know what was out there yet. She was learning, but she still only saw the stardust. What if he wasn't enough for her? She was so bright and filled with life--and she was still knocking on the door. She was good. Her band was amazing. Every night that he heard them rehearse or even catch a few songs he could see them getting tighter.
Hell, the chemistry between his sister and Steph was off the charts. Devotion was going to take the world by storm any day now. He could feel it in his bones.
"I wish you wouln't have an entire conversation in your head instead of with me." She stepped away from him, lifting the bedding off the floor and dumping it into a hamper. Efficiently and cooly she lifted up one of the benches the cubby beds laid on and snapped a sheet out.
He came up behind her, his fingers resting on her shoulders. "That's what I'm here for. We can't keep avoiding this."
She turned in his arms, the sheet clutched against her. "Honestly? No more excuses?"
The heat of shame tingled in his pits. She was direct--probably from too much time with is damn sister, but she did deserve an honest conversation. He tangled his fingers in the hair he'd been dying to touch for too many years to count. It really was as cloud soft as it looked. And every part of him wanted to feel it on his chest, and God help him, his thighs.
He cleared his throat. "I just don't want to hurt you."
"Save the chivalry stuff for old women and children, okay? I just want you--that's it."
He wrapped his fingers around the nape of her neck and dragged her in. If only it could be that simple. He rested his cheek on the top of her head. "Okay, let's get this bed made and make some popcorn. We'll start with a movie and see what happens."