"We're gonna have so many bitches following us to the restaurant it's gonna be a clusterfuck." Alec's voice was whiny and annoying, even when he was trying to sound tough.

"We live in a constant clusterfuck," Jon answered him absently.

She swallowed down the mixed bag of fear and hate as she lifted her chin up. The stupid fuck was smaller than her, weaker than her, and yet he'd still gotten her down on the floor--she swallowed hard. If Teek hadn't come in... Would he have gone that far? It galled her to admit it, but she just didn't know.

Al's face went sullen when he spotted her. "There's the Queen of the May herself."

Jon's fingers stilled on the pile of papers that lined the make-shift desk also known as the breakfast table, in the room. "I'd be careful," Jon said quietly.

Al stood up, his fingers clenched at his sides. "Of course you'd say that. You'd take whatever this cunt said as face value and not your main man--your brother."

Jamie's mouth dropped open and she stepped forward instinctively. "What did you call me?"

Weasely face lined with too much living, eyes cold and dark, and his twitchy fingers tapping at his thigh made her stomach clench. Deja Vu slicked her back with a cold sweat. But before she could think about backing down or stepping forward--she honestly didn't know which she'd been about to do--Jon plowed into him with the force of a football tackle. Al hit the wall with a thud, his head smacking hard enough that she saw stars for him.

"How can you believe her?" Al yelled, struggling even as he shook his head to clear it.

Jon shoved his forearm under Alec's chin and lifted him off the floor. "Are you so fuckin tweaked that you don't remember Teek had to drag you off of her?"

Jamie rushed up to the grappling men. "Jon, don't." She closed her hand around his shoulder, she could feel the muscles pulsing and quivering.

Ignoring her, he went nose to nose with Al. "She's Richie's sister, you fucking fuck! Not only is she Rich's sister, but she's a fucking girl--you don't fucking force a girl. There are plenty of women that would open their legs, but you go after her?" He lifted Alec's chin higher, his forearm blocking his air until the man could do nothing but scratch for freedom.

"Jon!" Jamie jumped up on his shoulders, anything to drag him off. God, he was going to fucking kill him. She'd worried that Richie would kill him, but not Jon. Not him. Jon usually had the cool head. She'd seen him go off a few times over the last few months, but not like this. Nothing like this. "Dammit, let go!"

He finally looked at her, his blue eyes were wild and hot with anger. She curled her arm around his neck and pulled, but he was damn stronger than he looked. They were equal height, but rage was on his side. She pressed her face into his hair, and her mouth to his ear. "Let go, you're killing him."

Jon finally looked at Alec, his face near purple with lack of oxygen, his eyes rolling back. Dropping him, Alec landed in a crumple of leather and too tight denim. His ridiculous, over the top clothing looking even more pathetic as he gasped for air. "If I ever, and I mean ever--hear about you hurting another woman you're gone!"

Alec looked up at him, hate and hurt mixing in his bland brown eyes. "She was offering up a piece to everyone," he croaked out. "I deserved a piece too."

She could barely see around the red haze as she reared back. This time, Jon lifted her off her feet and back before she could get a kick in. She struggled and screamed. "Get the fuck off me! I'm going to kill him myself!"

"Whoa there." Jon pinned her arms to her sides and took three full steps back. "Not that I don't think you deserve a good kick for what he did, but he's already done. He's got to be able to play tomorrow."

She bowed up and tried to break free, but his arms were like steel bands reminding her yet again how easily she could be subdued. She went limp in his arms, the warmth of his chest at her back and being in the same room with Alec again pushed all her buttons. He relaxed and she rushed forward again, this time she did get a boot in his ribs before Jon hauled her off. "Touch me or mine again, Alec and you won't have to worry about raping or backhanding another girl. I'll cut your little limp dick and your useless, talentless hands off!"

Al shrunk into himself, his knees curled up as he coughed up a ball of snot and blood.

The door to the hotel room bounced off the wall. "What the fuck is going on?" Doc thundered.

"Get him out of here," Jon said with a voice far too controlled. "I don't want to see him until soundcheck tomorrow."

Doc looked at Jon then down to the pathetic, gurgling Alec. "Okay, buddy, let's get you out of here."

"You've changed!" Al croaked out. "You're not the same guy I signed up with. Fucking led around by liars instead of your own people. The people that matter. It's always been bros before," he glanced up at her then down, "chicks." He'd obviously been about to say something else but thought better of it.

"Would you like me to ask Richie if he feels the same way about his sister?"

Al backed away, his hands up as he hid behind Doc's girth. "I won't touch her again."

Doc curled an arm around the slighter man's shoulders and shuffled him toward the door. "C'mon, Al--let's go get a drink, maybe something to make you feel better."

Disgusted, Jamie crossed her arms over her stomach. Just what he needed, more drugs. She turned away, her head whirling with the adrenaline high. She stumbled into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. Her eyes were unnaturally large, the pupils near pinpricks as she hung onto the sink. "Fuck." She shut her eyes and sucked in a breath. "Fuck," she whispered.

Jon knocked on the door. "Are you okay?"

"No," she said with an hysterical laugh. Of course she wasn't all right. This was supposed to be the best day ever and now she'd made an enemy for life with Alec John Such. Just fucking wonderful. She'd seen it in his eyes. He'd never forget this, no matter what he'd said.

He opened the door, stepping in and closing it behind himself. "Jesus, Jon." He lifted his hand to her and she flinched. His eyes so bright and achingly blue they burned, but he didn't step back. He swiped his thumb under her eye and she closed them. God, she didn't even remember starting to cry.

"I'm sorry," he said softly. All the emotion was there--everything he tried to hide away behind shades and smiles. All of it was there and naked on his face. "I could have killed him, James."

"I know." She turned around, not quite able to face him. What was it about them that got so intense? Nothing was simple, just being in a room with him couldn't be simple. And it wasn't like she was innocent in this. Even today she'd dressed to wind him up. She'd wanted to see him lose control. But seeing it...being on the receiving end of it thrilled and scared her. What the hell were they doing?

What was she doing?

He pulled her back to him, his arms around her waist, his chin in her hair and his breath on her neck. "I don't know what's worse, the fact that I could have killed him, or even now, just thinking about him touching you makes me want to go out there and finish the job."

She closed her eyes, smoothing her hand over his forearm that banded across her belly. It wasn't even a question, it was just a fact. They were slowly driving each other crazy. How on earth did she think just a bounce on him would cure this? She scraped her nails through the rough hair, over the tapering bones at his wrist where it widened to his hand. She could feel the heavy gold and diamond JB ring under her hand as she laced their fingers together. "The man I want to touch me is right here. That's all I want to think about right now."

She slowly undulated against him, pushing his hand lower on her waist until the silk of her ruffled shirtgave way to her stretchy skirt. His breath hitched and a groan buzzed along her ear. He nuzzled deeper until his lips found the lobe of her ear and his teeth scraped down the outer shell, finding the small hoops there. The tip of his tongue slid along the gold, fluttering across her skin inside the circle then back out. Nipping lightly before his nose traced behind the shell of her ear. "I want you so bad I can't even think."

"Don't think." She pushed his hand lower. "God, don't think. Just touch me." Her hips tilted up even as her head fell back on his shoulder. "I swear I'm going to go insane if you don't touch me."

His fingers flexed under hers, knuckles crushing and bones scraping together with his indecision. There was no going back, there was no undoing this. She could see the war in his flame blue eyes that met hers in the mirror. She took the pain, holding onto that tenuous grasp of sanity between them and then he let go, and his palm slid lower. He eased up her skirt until the black lace peeked from between her thighs. "James."

She shuddered at the cool air kissing her skin, her breath a hiccupping stutter. His blunt tipped fingers there where she'd wanted them for so long . Panting, because he stayed right there, his eyes meeting hers in the mirror just before he looked down. She couldn't stop the low moan as he finally dipped down. She knew he'd been looking for lace and silk, and when his eyes shot back up to hers she hissed out a breath.

"Sweet fuck."

Her eyes fluttered shut. His gutteral voice in her ear as the pad of his middle finger slicked over her clit and between her soaking wet lips. She opened them again when he lifted his fingers away, just in time to see him lick his middle and forefinger clean. "Oh, God." His eyes went hot and the corner of his mouth quirked up into a grin as he went back for more.

"Did you think of me when you bought these?"

She didn't want to say yes. She didn't want to hand him that kind of power. Instead she just met his gaze in the mirror.

With his other hand, he held her against him, she could feel his hardness digging into cleft of her ass. "Watch," he said in a low, nearly toneless voice. Like she could do anything anything else? His fingers hovered right at the slit of her crotchless panties, moving a millimeter at a time until he tipped over the edge. Instead of sliding forward, he cupped her with his two middle fingers, just a whisper away from her clit. He waited there, she could feel herself getting wetter and wetter, until she felt the first drops of her own excitement dripped down her thigh. She couldn't peel her eyes off of them, off his intimate touch, but he held her too still. She couldn't bump him inside of her, couldn't make him go that fraction of an inch deeper.

His teeth scraped down her neck as the first knuckle of his middle finger coasted around her clit and inside of her, then his ring finger followed suit and the stretching...Oh, God. She couldn't even breathe. Her body was so primed, so tight, those two fingers felt like an invasion. Slowly, ever so slowly, his fingers totally disappeared inside of her. Her thighs shook, and her muscles clenched down on him when he tried to pull back. The groan behind her was music. She caught his gaze in the mirror. Gone was the smirk, leaving only blind pleasure as he stroked her, his fingers coated with her and then back inside of her, watching--always watching. He nudged her open with his knee until she was laid bare for him. The black lace stretching out and around her swollen lips, almost too tight against the excitement he'd caused.

She couldn't stop the low keening cries he dragged out of her as he fucked her with his fingers, then backed off and circled the stiff knot just beneath her hood. Ever watchful, ever fascinated, he brought her to the edge, then finger-fucked her again. She was so slick and ready she could have swallowed him whole for God's sake, but he just wouldn't let her go over. "Jon, for the love of God..." she panted.

He slammed inside of her, curling deep within the tissues he'd teased beyond mercy. "I want that to be my cock," he said into her ear.

"Yes." She tipped her hips up, seating him even more fully if that was possible. "God, yes." The tip of his middle finger brushed against that elusive pressure point deep inside. "Inside me. I need you inside me." Could that even be her voice? She sounded savage and out of control.

Ignoring her he just cupped his palm along her clit and rubbed. She jerked against him, the orgasm clawing at the edges of reason. She wanted him with her, wanted him to feel her pulsing around him as she came, but all the teasing and the friction took over. Instinct and her own innate need for pleasure vetoed any argument. She arched away from him, bucking against the screaming release that was one part pain, one part grace, and all pleasure.

He held her against him, his shallow breathing against her neck was the first thing she noticed, they'd slumped against the door was the second, and Jon was still so hard he could have hammered nails was the last. "Why didn't you come with me?"

He hissed as her butt grazed his hard on, his voice thick and dark. "When I get inside of you the first time it's not going to be a ten minute quickie. When I get inside of you it's going to be for hours."

She shuddered, moaning again when he finally pulled out, her body so overly sensitized she could barely stay standing. He'd said when. All she could focus on was that he'd definitely said when this time--not if. She turned around in his arms, her knee sliding between his thighs. "I can take care of that," she said and brushed a knuckle along the snap of his jeans.

Leaning forward, he flicked his tongue along her lower lip. "Just the thought of those lips around my cock is enough to make me come."

She met his eyes, then dropped her gaze to his mouth. God, she'd let him give her an orgasm even before she'd managed to really taste him. Hell, let him was as far cry from the reality of only moments ago. He'd yanked the orgasm out of her with the sheer force of his own will. She hovered a breath away from his lips. "Let me," she said softly. "I want to know what you taste like." She traced the divot at the center of his top lip with the tip of her tongue.

The fingers of his other hand slid into her hair and gripped at the base of her skull and he watched, yet again, as they moved ever closer. Just before their lips met, he closed his eyes and sunk into her. Teeth, lips, tongue--all of them just as destructive as his touch. He tasted like smoke and whiskey and something else. Something more. It was as if his charisma had its own flavor, and she was damn addicted at even just one taste. Worse than cocaine, worse than booze, worse than the highest high--he was passion in its purest form. She held on, knee to knee, thigh to thigh, pelvis to pelvis, chest to chest and wrapped herself around him. She steeped herself in him and it wasn't enough.

The hotel room phone rang.

He jerked as if they'd been caught, but she held on, biting on his lower lip until it pulsed at the tip of her tongue. "Not yet," she said into his mouth. "Don't let them intrude yet."

Sipping from her lips, he lingered just a moment longer, then slowly detangled himself from her. His fingers grasped her wrist as she tried to cup him. "You're killing me here."

"You don't have to wait." She bumped her nose with his.

"Your party awaits." His voice was strangled, but as firm as his grip.

She dropped her forehead to his shoulder. "My party would be you naked on a bed with room service and anonymity."

He curled his hand around her neck, his thumb grazing over the braided necklace at her throat, the heat of his skin warming the silver cross. She could still smell herself on his hand. She could practically taste her orgasm in the room. "It's going to have to happen. I've seen you come, I've felt you squeeze around my fingers. Nothing but you and me naked is going to do at this point."


He shook his head. "I don't know, James. I just don't know." As if he sensed her disappointment, he nipped at her chin, his tongue flicking over the tiny dent there. "You know the schedule is off the hook, and Richie's with me nearly every minute of the day. How is he not going to know that I want to fuck his sister into oblivion?"

She winced. Blood was blood, and Richie would pop a vein if he knew what they were doing. When she was here, in his arms she could tell herself that maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe he'd understand. She wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her nose in his Suave scented curls until the phone rang again.

And maybe guitars sprouted wings and became the reincarnation of Hendrix.

She stepped away and instantly wanted him back. She tugged her skirt down and tried to fix her hopelessly crumpled blouse. How would anyone not know that she'd had the orgasm to end all orgasms? Digging her fingers into the cheap linoleum, she forced herself to calm. It was going to be one long ass celebration.



Jamie stepped down from her brother's hefty grip. "What? Are you guys going to actually take us out to celebrate?"

Richie squatted down and let the monkey that was Ashley down off his back. She was still spazzing out, so he hugged her tight for a moment before letting Taz free. The name had stuck and Ash enjoyed it. She even sent out her drum kit to be refitted with a skin painted in the cartoon character mid tornado twirl.

She turned to her best friend with a huge smile, but took a cautious step back at Steph's lazer beam stare at Ashley. Whoa. She touched her arm and Steph blinked and the death ray was gone. Boy oh boy, they must have seriously interrupted something.

"I'm going to go get the guys," Richie said and hurried off the bus.

She looked from Steph to the front of the bus and back. "Everything cool?"

Steph just growled and grabbed clothes from her drawer. "I'm taking a shower."

"Alrighty then." She climbed into her bunk. "So you think Richie's just talking out his butt or will he actually come through?"

"Maybe if we get all duded up they will." Ronnie crossed her legs and looked up at her then quirked a brow. "That means girl clothes, Jamie."

"I'll have you know, jeans are definitely girl clothes after I get through with them."

Ronnie snickered. "Yeah, well...how about a skirt and boots, a sexy top. You know, use your God given assets for a change."

She gave her a bland stare. "I do just fine on my own." But she swallowed a smirk. If she pulled out all the stops, just maybe she could jerk Jonny into making a move. Christ, she'd make the moves if it would get that man naked. She couldn't take much more. If she could just get him inside her once she'd be good.

He'd be good, every cell in her body knew that, but at least she'd know and could get him out of her system. That's all it would take. He was just like any other man. Scratch the itch and then she could breathe again for fuck's sake. This needing thing was not cool. She was supposed to be having fun goddammit. She couldn't even get up enough interest to fuck anyone for a week now. Her body needed release and damn if she wasn't going to finally get it.

"Maybe you're right." She hopped down and dug deep into her trunk. She had girl clothes somewhere. Steph had talked her into a skirt, even if it felt like she was showing off her ass with the length of the skirt, it might just do the job. She wasn't doing the heels thing though. She already towered over most women, no need to tower over the one man she wanted inside her. Talk about dick-shriveling.

Dropping her boxers, she pulled on the panties she'd mail ordered a few months ago. It was just the time to try them out. With a grin, she hiked up the skirt and headed to the mirror. "Holy Christ," she muttered and turned back around. There was no way she could wear that.

"Jeeeze, Jamie. Your legs look even longer in a skirt!"

Wincing, she turned to Ronnie. "It looks stupid, right?"

"Stupid?" Ronnie's mouth dropped open. "You look hot. Throw on some heels--"

"No heels."

Ronnie sighed. "You have the legs to pull of heels and you don't. What is wrong with you?"

"I'm already taller than everyone in flats, that's why."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "Whatever, some guys like a tall girl."

Not if you're taller than him. She shrugged, stomping her foot into her knee high red boots. They were soft and worn, scuffed perfectly. She snapped out an off the shoulder red shirt and fixed her black bra to show off as much cleavage as humanly possible. With her barely a B's size, it wasn't much, but the legs made up for it.

"Nope, the red silk." Ronnie said and handed her a shirt. "With the wide black belt."

She frowned at the slinky shirt. "But it's almost as long as the skirt."

"Exactly, so they all they do is look at your legs. God, don't you know anything about seduction?"

She smirked at her through the mirror. "I don't have to, they come to me."


She just shrugged, whipping off the shredded cotton and traded it for silk. "You love me."


She fastened her braided black leather necklace with the three small dangling crosses across her neck. It clung tight, making her neck look longer. She yanked a brush through the thick straight hair until the feathers fell down her back in a fluffy waterfall of red and dark brown. "What the hell?" she muttered and lined her golden eyes in black and smudged it a little. She might as well go all the way.

"Holy crap!"

She turned around to see Steph in the mirror. "What?"

"Someone's on the prowl tonight," Steph said with a half laugh.

"I see your shower put you in a better mood."

"Not really. If you guys had waited just another ten minutes I could have had him." Steph scraped her hair up and started applying her base with a fat brush.

Jamie leaned on her best friend's bunk. "Okay, if you're really going to do this thing with my brother, let me give you one tip."

Steph's eyebrow rose. "You think you can give me tips on your brother?"

She crossed her arms, tapping her finger on her forearm. "Hey, you want him, right?"

Steph stopped, snapping her bag closed and staring right into her eyes. "I want him more than I've ever wanted anything except Devotion."

She watched her best friend's big blue eyes grow serious. Just before she rubbed her hands over her face and ruined all her hard work, she blew out a breath. "Christ, I should be shot."

"Just tell me!" Steph tucked her towel tighter between her rather impressive breasts.

Pushing away the everyday hate she lived with--damn, she wished she had boobs--she gripped her shoulders. "Okay. I really can't help that he's an idiot sometimes, but I'll tell you this one thing. He's got a blind spot when it comes to women. There's two sides to him, Playboy and then there's the Protector role at its finest. Put Polish and Italian together and you get a bit of a mindfuck, what can I tell ya."

"I don't want him to play protector, I want him to jump me, dammit."

"Actually, you don't." She sat on Steph's bunk, crossed her legs and leaned forward. "If he did just fuck you, it would be over. That's the plain and simple truth. He's the sweetest guy on the earth, but he's got some really dumb notions about women. He has since high school. If he didn't care, you'd have been on your back--and from what I hear, it's a good ride."

Steph threw a make up sponge at her. "That's your brother!"

She laughed and blocked the little triangle. "I have ears. Girls talk about him. You think I want to know this stuff?" She shuddered, then grinned and stood. "Bide your time, girl. If you really want him. That real kind of want, not just for fun...then play it smart." Just the thought of her best friend with her brother was enough to make her eye twitch, but if that's what she wanted, then that's what she wanted. Changing Steph's mind was about as easy as stringing a double neck with oven mittens.

"I want him." Steph picked up her make-up case again, digging for eyeliner. "There was nothing in your advice about making him ache with wanting me though."

"Now that's what I'm talkin' about." She unclipped Steph's hair. "Make him sweat. He's got a thing for your hair." Same as I'm going to make Jon sweat.

Steph grabbed her wrist before she could walk away. "Thanks." Her blue eyes were earnest with hope instead of frustration. "I've been in love with him longer than I can remember."

She sighed. "Man..." She knew it--hell, she'd always known it, but it didn't stop the tic. Her brother and Steph? With another long sigh that she just couldn't help, she hugged her best friend. "I think you're crazy, but I'll help however I can."


"Yeah, yeah. Enough with the mush. I've got to find a man. It's been a long week and I need some fun."

Steph quirked an eyebrow. "Obviously. Since when do you wear skirts?"

Since she'd decided tonight was the night she'd finally get Jon's hands on her. "Thought I'd try something different."

"I hate you. You've got legs up to your damn ears."

"And I hate you for your boobs. If we could meld ourselves together we'd have the perfect body."

"For porn," they both said and laughed.

Jamie waved as she headed out of the bus. "I'll meet you over there." She had some damage to do and wanted to make sure Jon wouldn't weezle out of their little celebration.

Ashley was in full on party girl mode in the lobby, her arms around a guy on either side of her. "Can I bring a few friends?"

She just laughed. "It's our number one single day, you can do whatever the hell you want!" She couldn't even fault the party-mode. She was buzzing. Everything they'd ever worked for was finally starting to pay off. Now all she needed to do was get rid of this itch for a certain Jersey Boy and she could finally relax and enjoy everything.

She ignored catcalls and whistles for attention from obnoxious males, waved at a few fans that shouted out her name. She had only one man on her mind. Tico was smoking in the hallway near Jon's room. The doorway was filled with the rest of the band. Everyone talking at once. She ran down the corridor to Teek and was welcomed with a big teddybear hug. "Can you believe it?"

"Of course I can believe it, querida. I knew you girls would make it big." She hooked her arm around his shoulders, laughing when Tico waggled his eyebrows because he was practically eye to eye with her boobs. "You dressed up for us?"

"I can be a girl sometimes."

"It's good to see." He took a step back and looked her over. "We'll be fending off guys instead of women for once."

She winked. "Damn right you will. I'm ready to party."

David turned around, his eyes comically wide. "She does have legs!" He held up his hands. "Not that I don't love them in that skin tight leather or those ripped to shit jeans, but hot damn girl...look at those legs!" He grabbed one of her hands and twirled her around, then dipped her. "Marry me!"

"But you only want me for my body!" she said with a laugh.

"It's a damn good place to start."

She laughed good naturedly. David was possibly more of a dog than anyone in the group. Even with the fucked up hair he managed to confuse far too many women into getting naked for him. She punched him in the belly. "Back off Ogilvie, I want only fresh meat tonight. You've been used and abused by way too many."

"Hey! Jonny has to perm his, not me, Legs. This is all natural."

"And that's even more frightening." She yelped when David smacked her ass.

"You wish you could have a piece of this," he said with a heavy Jersey accent.

"I have discerning taste," but she couldn't get it out with a straight face. She been nearly as bad as David when she'd first joined the tour. In fact, they'd had a score sheet going for a month. But when his got to be two pages deep, she gave up. She liked to have fun, not fuck everything in sight.

Tico grabbed a handful of Dave's hair. "C'mon amigo, we're going to go hunt up a limo for tonight's festivities."

"Oh yeah?" Delighted, her smile widened even more. She'd thought her brother was half kidding when he said they'd take them out on the town.

"That's right! I ride in style." David curled Richie into a headlock. "C'mon we need your powers of persuasion."

And just like that the boys disappeared in a tussel of grunts and rude comments. She stepped into Jon and Richie's room, her stomach dropping to her toes as she spotted Alec.



Steph rattled a big bowl of popcorn, salting it liberally before she grabbed two Cokes. Her jumping stomach didn't really want popcorn, but she had to do something with her hands. She peered around the bend, Richie's big...holy crap, big...foot was sticking out off the edge of her bed. He'd stolen nearly every pillow on the bus creating a little cave in her bunk. She was just supposed to go out there and curl in?

For God's sake her body was still tingling from the by-accident feel up. She'd imagined his touch for so long that she'd lost her mind the minute he'd gotten close to her. But nothing had changed. Hormones and copping a quick feel instead of dumping her on the carpet didn't change the fact that he wanted her, but wouldn't let himself have her.

Who'd given him a crown? So he'd deigned to come down with the peasants and bring her a movie? The fact that her neck still tingled from his lips and her nipples were so hard and painful she was ready to scream didn't make his decision making process any less stupid. Did she need to smack him in the forehead with a neon sign that said: I'm the best you'll ever have?

She stalked across the kitchen and into the bunk area. He'd propped himself up on pillows, his head about three millimeters from the ceiling of her bunk. His long tanned feet and equally tanned legs were crossed, leaving her with about four inches of space. "Just where am I supposed to sit?"

He shoved over an inch and patted the navy blue sheet. "It's not like we haven't cuddled in and watched a movie before."

"When we were kids doesn't count. You weren't in my bed, we were on the floor of your mom's house with Jamie as a chaperone between us."

His lids lowered and his brown eyes darkened, but he didn't say another word. Watching horror movies had been one of her favorite things to do at the Sambora house on Saturday nights. Most of the time, Richie was out with a date or playing a gig at a some bar, but occasionally he'd stay in and make a big bowl of equally salty popcorn and watch with them.

She perched at the edge of the bed remembering when things were far simpler. His arm scooped around her, until she was firmly against his belly, but instead of copping a feel, Richie's hand dove into the bowl between her thighs. "Stop thinking so loud and watch Mel."

She didn't want to watch Mel. She wanted to talk like he said they would. She wiggled free, taking the popcorn with her.


She put the bowl on Jamie's bunk above her. "You said we were going to talk."

He propped his head on his hand. "Actually, I said we'd start with a movie."

Crossing her arms, she bared her teeth. "If you think I'm going to sit here and watch Mel and Danny Glover blow stuff up and not talk about what just happened, then you've been smoking up with boys too much."

He snapped back the blanket he'd draped over his lap. "Have a look."

Her eyes followed the verbal arrow and her lungs simply stopped working. A tell-tale bulge made a very specific shape under his loose fitting shorts. The length slid up from the middle of his crotch to his hip. She'd have crossed herself if it would do any good. Her eyes shot to his face and that hooded look held a harder edge.

"I've wanted you for years, so cut me some slack here. I need a bit of calm down time."

What he needed to do was use all of that, on all of her. Now.

"Stop looking at me like that."

"You give me an invitation like that, then tell me to cut you some slack?" Frustration had her eyes crossing. She slapped her hand on her chest then opened her arms wide. "I'm right here, and believe me, I want every inch of that."

He flopped back, dragging a pillow over his face. It was such a Sambora thing to do that she nearly laughed out loud. Jamie did the same damn thing when she didn't want to do something. "You're killing me," he said through the pillow.

"Right, and I'm over here without a care in the world."

Her sarcasm flipped a switch inside of him and he flung the pillow to the end of the bunk. "Don't you get it?" Anger, hot and dangerous turned his slumberous eyes to hard chips. "I want to fuck you into next to Tuesday--hell, I want to fuck you until you and I can't even think about moving again, but that's all it would be...fucking." He rolled off the bed. "I don't even know what town we're in, Baby, how am I supposed to give you what you deserve when we're living on a bus or a plane, or one dumpy hotel after another?"

Stunned by his outburst, she gaped at him. When was he going to get it through his head that she didn't care about anything but being with him?

Before she could say another word in her defense he gripped the tops of her arms and lifted her up onto her toes. "You are not one of the hundreds of women I've rolled, Steph. You'd never be one of those girls."

"Hundreds?" She didn't mean to blurt it out, but the idea of Richie and all those women. All those women that weren't her, touching him...she sucked in a breath. That was before her. She shut her eyes. It didn't matter. She knew what he was and didn't care. All she cared about was going forward and as uncertain as everything seemed to be, he was the one constant in her mind.

He'd always been her constant. It was time for him to figure it out and deal.

He laughed, and just like that the anger dissipated like smoke. He lowered her back to the floor. "Christ, Baby." He hauled her in, his lips on her forehead and her cheek against the wall of heat that was his chest. "You make me nuts."

"I make you nuts?" She struggled away from him even though everything inside her wanted to stay right there and soak in all his warmth and skin. "You take the cake, Richie. I'm pouring my guts out here--I want whatever we can get right now--I'll take the bumming around and the crappy hotel rooms as long as I have you." He opened his mouth, and she could literally feel the patronizing tone that was about to come out of his throat. "Whatever you think you're saving me from, cut it the hell out."

Deflated, he dropped back down on her bunk, taking he popcorn with him. "I'm saving you from yourself."

Disgusted, she sat down next to him and stole back the bowl. Now salt sounded really good. "Sounds more like you're saving yourself."

Instead of saying anything, he stretched back out on her bed and dragged her down with him. Even with her butt snuggled into his thighs, even with the hard length of him pushing into her, he just curled around her and dug into the popcorn bowl. "Watch Mel."

She forced her eyes to watch the TV and not crane around to talk him. The movie was exciting enough to pull her mind from the brick wall of stubborn that was Richie and whatever he thought was good for her. Why couldn't he be that guy? The guy that was willing to fuck first and think later. For the love of God, she was counting on the fact that he was ruled by his dick like most men. Of course he had to be different.

She listened to the movie with half an ear. Richie crunched popcorn behind her ear, leaned up for a drink here and there, but always settled himself right back behind her, his arm resting on her hip, his fingers dangling over into the bowl. Was it just for easy access? Or did he like touching her?

Mixed signals were par for the course lately when it came to him. She couldn't count on his body to make his decisions for him. It had taken the better part of the movie to have him truly relax behind her, but finally his hard on had finally faded leaving an odd sort of companionship. Of course just because he wasn't hard anymore didn't mean the rest of her could forget she was leaning against him. The awareness had been replaced with the sheer heat of him, the way he breathed, and the scent of his shampoo.

Not to mention that he'd stolen the pillows leaving his oddly comfortable bicep as her only cushion. It was a different feeling to be wrapped in a man's arms, especially one as big as Richie. The only other man she'd been involved in had been average in every way. Where Jeremy had been soft in the middle and slight through the chest, Richie was nothing but hard muscle and a wide chest built to snuggle with.

It wasn't like she'd been a nun or anything. She'd enjoyed just as much of the road life as she could stand in the beginning. But she'd never been about anonymous sex, so that gloss had worn off like a chipping topcoat within the first month. Not to mention that she had a constant reminder of the man she'd always wanted just out of reach.

As the light grew dim and Richie switched out movies from the bus's stash she dozed a little. This was what she wanted, even if Richie wouldn't let himself give it a name. This was the intimacy she'd longed for. She just couldn't figure out why he wouldn't allow himself to go that extra step. The next time she woke, confetti and Ferris Bueller's float scene filled the screen and Richie was relaxed around her.

The popcorn and sodas had been forgotten in the little coccoon they'd made. The air conditioner chugged away, but there was no way she could be cold with him around. She'd wrapped herself around his arm from bicep to forearm, their legs tangled and his fingers cupped her knee in easy companionship. He'd tucked his chin into her hair but he didn't have that utter stillness to him that said sleep.


His answer was an absent hum that came from his chest more than his throat. She'd been thinking about it off and on since the stairwell, but it had taken a few hours to get her brain wrapped around how to bring it up. What if the real reason he didn't want to be with her was New York. Richie had hooked up with plenty of strippers, but could he love someone who'd made that kind of mistake?

"When you found me in New York..." His whole body tensed behind her and she trailed off. Instead of pulling away, he wrapped himself around her more firmly. Even his legs had locked around her hips to keep her from moving. Again, the contradiction confused her. Wouldn't he want to push her away? She'd seen all that anger in his eyes.

"Finding you in New York is half the reason we're such a mess."

The quick prick of tears lodged the words she'd carefully planned in her throat. How was she supposed to explain to him that it had been just her mistaken pride that allowed her to even think about stripping to stay in New York? Every call she'd shown up for had been in vain. She was a good dancer, but broadway was cut throat--good, just wasn't good enough.

He tucked his chin into her shoulder. "I walked in that night, hell I wasn't even really in the mood to go to a club, let alone a skin joint." He stroked a lock of her hair back. "The guys just wanted to drag me out of the studio before I killed Jon or our producer. It was a toss up at the time."

A small laugh broke through the stone that had taken up residence where her voice had been. She could see it. As much as Jon and Richie bounced well off each other, there were days where frustration was the chemistry, not magic.

The tape clicked to the end and popped out of the VCR leaving the room in a dusky darkness. Intimate, loud with words unsaid, and the man she'd wanted for too many years to count closer than she'd ever let herself dream.

"I saw you."

She could feel him swallow behind her. That long, delicious neck swallowing down...what? Disgust? Oh God, she struggled to sit up.

Again, his body clamped around hers. "No way, you're not running. I'm talking and you're listening."

"I saw you up on that stage. You, my little sister's best friend, the girl next door that I nearly killed myself to not look at...every inch of you was right there." His voice went deeper, nearly a whisper. "Curves and gold dust, every sin and every dark thought on that stage...taunting me. I wanted you so bad I could have easily killed to drag you down, and take you out of there."

She stopped trying to get away from him. She had a hard time trying to pick out the good parts from the luggage of bad that she'd carried around for years. Wanted her? Always wanted her? She tried to twist around in his arms, but he held her still. "You wanted to take me out of there?"

"I wanted to take you out of there and do every little depraved thing I could think of, then start all over again and worship every inch of you."

She lost her breath. For the second time that night, she simply lost every ounce of air that her lungs could hold. "Why didn't you," she asked on a non-voice. "Why don't you?"

"Because your my little sister's best friend, because you were and always will be the best part of my childhood. I'm a rock star, Baby. I don't even have a house. You've always been more than what a guy like me deserves."

Frustration gave her enough ammunition to push out of his arms and out of their little cocoon of heaven. "Why do you keep saying that?"

In the dim light, his brown eyes were dark and a little sad. Did he honestly think that stuff mattered to her? Did he even know her at all?

"If we got sex involved in this and it didn't work out? Where would we be?"

"Human!" She all but shouted it. "Why are you working six steps ahead? All I know is I--" Her words skidded to a halt. She didn't want to guilt him into anything by throwing the love word around. Stupid, stupid, stupid man.

"All you know is what?"

"That you're a coward," she finished with her arms crossed.

He sat up fast and wacked his head on the bunk. "Son of a fucking bitch!"

She winced, and couldn't stop the bubble of laughter when he slapped his hand on his forehead. She leaned over and flicked on the light. "Let me see."

He looked up at her, and his face was priceless. He looked like a ten year old that needed a kiss to make it better. He frowned, keeping his hand over the sore spot.

"C'mon, you big baby."

"I'm a coward, and now I'm a baby?" He groused.

She forced herself not to laugh, tugging his hand away. "Just let me look." Sure enough, he had a little bump, but he'd be okay. She leaned in and kissed it. "Better?"

"No," he said with a pout.

She did laugh this time. Kissing it and his nose this time. He looked up at her, that long neck a little too delectible as far as she was concerned. When his eyes went into that hooded, I'm-going-to-fuck-you-into-oblivion look, she knelt over him on the matress, pushing him back. Stupid man just needed a little push in the right direction.

The sharp smack of the bus door cracking open and way too many feet had her about ready to scream. She'd nearly had him right where she wanted him. If she could just make him see how good they'd be together. "What the fuck?" she growled and climbed off of him.

Jamie, Ronnie, and Ash broke through the hallway, crowding in.

"Oh my God!"

"You'll never believe-"

And a screech from Ashley as she broke through Jamie and Ronnie all stopped as they saw Richie flat on his back on her bunk.

Jamie crossed her arms. "Are we interrupting something?"



Steph whirled back at Richie. "Liar."

Richie rolled to his feet. "Nope, she's saving my ass." He patted the top of Jamie's head.

Steph stomped. She felt like a kid, but she stomped again anyway. She was so frustrated she was simply going to kill someone. "This had better be good."

Jamie, Ronnie, and Ash all linked arms and moved in jumping again. Their excitement too much to be contained even with the less than stellar timing. Soon she was jumping with them, just so she wouldn't get trampled. "Why are we jumping?" She said laughing. Their hysteria was contageous.

"We're number one! Oh my freakin' God, Steph!" Jamie's eyes were like gold fire with glee. "Since You Been Gone is number one!"

"What?" Steph stopped, wincing when one of Ronnie's killer heels dug into her bare toes. "Dammit, Ron!"

"I'm sorry," Ronnie sidestepped but still couldn't stop screeching. "Number one! It's our first number one!"

Richie leaned against her bunk, his arms crossed, a soft smile lighting his much too handsome face. The heat in his eyes was more pride than sizzle, but she still felt it in her blood.

Jamie leaped from their circle to Richie and hugged him tight, her long legs wrapped around his back as she laughed. And Richie hugged her back, a smacking kiss on her cheek, but he looked over his sister's shoulder and their eyes met again. "Congrats, girls. This is definitely the first of many. And definitely a cause for celebration!"

Ashley jumped up on Richie's back and Steph swallowed a burning bubble of venom. Ash was just excited. But again, Richie was just basking in the excitement. But he didn't come her way.

Stupid man.

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.