Jon tipped the straw hat lower on his face. The fact that he’d gone about four hours without being recognized was a miracle in itself. The fact that he hadn’t been recognized without a full on disguise was another. Maybe Steph was right about the hair.
He slid into the car, connecting the wires one more time until the engine purred. Nothing quite like a Porsche. Well, if you couldn’t have a ‘Vette anyway. He pulled out of the mini shopping center and turned off the beaten path to one of the smaller shacks that lined the beach road. Spending most of his formative years in Asbury Park, he knew the little mom and pop stands would be best for food. California’s idea of a hotdog was pathetic.
Steph turned to him, her pretty sky blue eyes unfocused for a second before they sharpened. “Anything that isn’t mall food. What were they thinking with that hot dog?”
Jersey to her core, Steph had been just as appalled with their version of east coast food. Deciding against a hot sub--these Cali people would fuck that up too--he settled for a little surf shack with a line out the door. That was always a good sign. Half an hour later, still undiscovered thank fuck, they were back on the road.
Steph broke open the chips and sodas and they headed for one of the lesser beaches. As the coast got rockier, he turned around. He wanted the kind of sand that you could bury your feet and bake for a few hours, not crack a damn toe.
They passed the outdoor strip mall again and the houses grew more and more swanky. Weather beaten turned to stone and architectural giants. It seemed that there was either a battalion of cars or none at all, depending on the house. Taking a chance, he kept going until a three story museum of a building came into view, shaded by palm trees and flowers he couldn’t name with an encyclopedia—all of it lush and more beautiful than he’d ever seen in his twenty-six years.
Coasting to a stop, he looked around then into Steph’s eyes. “We’re here.”
With a chip halfway to her mouth, she gave him a blank look. “What?”
He opened the door. “We’re here.” Flipping the seat forward he grabbed their beach bag. “Grab the food, woman. We’re burning beach time.”
“Beach…what are you talking about.” She scrambled out of the car, swearing as she had to go back for the food before she could catch up to him. He peered around the side of the house. A privacy fence wasn’t much of a deterrent, and it looked like there was just two cameras. He grabbed her hand, darting around the side of the fence before the eye of the camera panned back.
"Jon!” she whispered furiously.
“Live a little.”
“What is it about me that says, getting arrested is fine? Seriously?”
He lifted his finger to his lips. “We won’t get arrested if you be quiet and c’mon.”
“I had no idea you were such a felon,” she muttered, but he ignored her. It was far more interesting to see just what kind of beach there was on this kind of property. A long way from middle income NJ, that was for fucking sure. Dodging paparazzi cameras gave him a special eye and he dragged his current partner in crime behind a flowering bush.
The whir of the sweeping camera panned to the other side of the yard and he darted to stairs leading to the deck. “Holy shit!” the words were out before he could stop himself. Really cool, Jonny B. But Steph didn’t seem to care about cool factors, her jaw was just as unhinged. Palatial wasn’t the word for this place. Wide stone stairs curved up to a wall of glass. Plush leather l-shaped sofas and art he couldn’t begin to name gave an opulent feel to the house—fuck, the mansion. “I’m going to live someplace like this someday.”
Steph bumped his arm. “Think you can transport this to Jersey?”
“I’d do it stone by stone if I had to.”
She tugged on his shirt. “Look, if we’re going to use the private beach, that’s one thing, but if you think I’m breaking into that fortress, you’re nuts.”
“I left my lock picks in my other jeans.”
At her wide eyes, he laughed and steered her toward the stairs leading to the beach. “I’m kidding.”
“Right, of course you are,” she immediately agreed.
Deciding that he kind of liked having her think he was some sort of crook, he headed to the beach. In reality, his starter was always going on his piece of shit Chevy so he had to hotwire his own damn car, but she didn’t need to know that.
He laid out their blankets and opened up his turkey sub, figuring they couldn’t fuck that up. Nodding to her with a mouthful he patted the towel. “Much better than the public beach.”
Steph looked down the beach then back down at him. “Good thing we both can run fast if someone finds us.”
Jon’s eyes were on the crystal blue water, and the sun overhead. “Relax, take a load off.”
She dropped next to him, flipping off her shoes and digging in just like a good girl from the shore. He grinned, doing the same thing. After polishing off their food, they both oiled up with spf 5 and baked.
Two hours later, his watch beeped next to his head.
“No,” Steph moaned. “It can’t be time to get up.”
Jon grinned. Steph had been out minutes after they’d laid out. He envied her ability to shut off, his brain felt like it never stopped spinning, but he’d even fallen asleep with just the sound of the water and the sun soaking into him. “Nope, just time to cook the other side.”
She gave a grumpy little noise and rolled over, instantly out again. He did the same, but pillowed his head in his hands. Sleep was now off the table. He untwisted his hair from the girlie braid Steph had given him, shaking his hair out. It felt good not to have to make any decisions, field any calls, hell…even talk to anyone.
Part of him wished it was James next to him, not Steph. Although having a break from the constant lust was a good thing. It gave him some much needed time to think. The smart thing would be to walk away—to tell James that this thing between them was much more than he was willing to take on. Between her brother’s overprotective nature to the utter stupidity of going after a friend’s sister, they were doomed. The fact that they hadn’t been found out yet was a miracle.
It wasn’t like he was a saint. He’d slept with Lucky Mastriano’s sister Bev, back in the club days and he’d paid for it with a beating. Bev hadn’t been worth a beating, but James was. In his gut, he knew that whatever was between them was going to blow the damn top of his head off, but could he sacrifice Richie for her?
Him and Rich, they got into a room together and music made sense. Even shit he’d been fighting with for hours, one word or chord change and Richie could find the heart of the fucking song. Hell, they had a half dozen songs ready for the studio already. Did he want to chance that kind of fuck up if this thing with James was just lust that was going to burn out in a few months?
His dick heartily agreed, but he hadn’t let his dick make decisions for him since he’d hit his twenties…well, for the most part. Jamison Sambora was very dangerous to both his livelihood and his sanity. He really didn’t have a lot of roads leading out of sanity left.
He must have dozed off again, because the next thing he knew Steph was shaking him. "Jon," her whisper was hoarse and tight, instantly blinking him out of sleep.
Two people were headed for their strip of beach at a fast clip. "Time to go." Jon hopped out of the super comfortable lounger he'd spent most of the afternoon in. "Where's the bag?"
Steph snapped two towels off of the chairs and he dumped the contents of the table into the beach bag. Plunking his hat on his newly released hair, he grabbed Steph's hand.
"Hey! You there!"
"C'mon, time to pump those hot legs of yours, girl."
She panted behind him, but stayed close as they darted their way through the backyard one more time, less worried about being seen this time through. He got to the car, jammed all their gear into the back and swore as the two wires stubbornly wouldn't catch. "Shit."
"What?" Steph's wide eyes were looking out his window. "They're coming. Hurry up!"
He sliced more of the wire casing open and a fresh spark hit his fingertips. The high end engine roared to life and he put it into gear, fishtailing his way out of their parking spot. In his rear view he saw a couple with hands to hips, the woman yelling at the man. The man tipped his head back and Jon's shoulders relaxed. He knew that pose. That was exasperation with a side of 'shut the fuck up, woman' and he knew it well. "We're clear."
"How do you know?" Steph tossed a nervous look over her shoulder.
She frowned at him, but faced forward. "Where to now?"
He studied her profile. He didn't want to disappoint her, but the sun was heading for the horizon line and people would be worried. As much as he wanted to blow everyone off, the headache would be more than the fun factor. "I think it's time to head back."
She nodded. "Kinda what I was thinking." She blew sandy bangs out of her face. "I had a good time playing Escape from Reality with you."
He smiled at her. "Yeah, me too Lolly."
"Stop calling me that."
He stepped on the gas, his smile even wider. "Nope."
When they pulled into the hotel's parking lot, a furious Doc was striding out the front door. "Uh oh." Jon pulled the car into the spot he'd borrowed it from. Steph jumped when her door swung open. He touched her forearm. "I'll take care of it."
She looked at him for a long moment. "Are you sure? I was just as much to blame."
He grinned at her. "Are you conveniently forgetting that I dared you into it?"
"I'm a big girl, it was my decision."
Doc ducked in and she shrank back against him. "This is very touching, but what the fuck were you thinking?"
"Step back, Doc. Let her out. We'll talk."
Doc loomed over her, both hands on top of the car. "She's not going anywhere until we figure this out."
Jon's fingers tightened on the steering wheel. He'd needed a day away from all this, but the snarling anger crept back before he could even appreciate it's absence. "It's okay, Steph. Just go on upstairs. I'll take care of this. Step back, Doc!"
Doc slapped the overhead and Jon almost smiled when Steph didn't even flinch. Nothing quite like a jersey girl. Show 'tude and you'd get it back ten-fold. She slid out of the car, her chin up and her eyes hot for battle. "Give us a break, Doc. We just wanted to go out for the day."
"I will deal with you later," Doc growled. Jon swung his door open, digging their bag out of the back. "You know better! What the fuck were you thinking?"
Anger roiled in his gut. He thought he was getting away from everyone for a full fucking day. He thought he was just going to get a little time to decompress. He thought he'd get away from the fucking phone, and fucking people, and fucking reality. Obviously that was too much to ask for. Instead of answering he just crossed his arms and stared at a point over Doc's shoulder.
Doc grabbed his arm. "Look at me and give me an answer, boy."
He ripped his arm away from Doc's thick, sausage fingers. "Who the fuck are you calling a boy? Sue me. I wanted a few hours away."
Doc's color was high, and a vein popped at his temple. "Then you tell me and I'll arrange it."
"What part of away weren't you getting? I didn't want anyone to know where I was."
"I'm your manager, It's my job to know where you are!" Doc spun around and looked at the car. "You stole a fucking Porsche? Are you stupid, or just crazy?"
"I vote crazy," Jon said in a deadpan voice.
Doc whipped around, his finger pointed right at him. "Don't start, Jonny. You're lucky that the owner of this car is a fan."
Relief flooded him, but he forced his face to remain neutral. "So how much ass do I have to kiss?"
"A lot." Doc waddled by, his face still a mottled color that screamed heart attack.
Jon shouldered the beach bag and inwardly groaned as a few dozen people swarmed the entrance. He put on his game face and smiled, took pictures, and signed shirts, skin, programs and tickets. The fact that Doc left him alone with the fans told him just how much of a shitstorm he was going to have to face for the next few days. It took twenty minutes to disengage, the netting of his bathing suit now held two hotel keys and a lot of pieces of paper. He escaped to the elevators, waving at the single security guard that had come on duty for the evening.
He leaned on the rail and watched the glowing numbers until he reached his floor. Excited voices came from his room. He recognized one shriek and one low, dark laugh and wished to God he had his own room. Upon entering, he saw James sitting in the center of his bed, her legs crossed, an endless stretch of tanned legs had one of the keys biting into his suddenly happy cock. Fuck. He reached in, took out the keys and slammed them on the dresser by the door. The low, moody strum of her fingers brought his focus back to her. As if it could go anywhere else for the love of shit.
A gorgeous guitar sat in her lap, the telltale sunburst at the center of the guitar had him so distracted the snap of the waistband of his shorts jerked him back to reality. What the hell was she doing with a guitar like that? Richie was in a similar state, his small amp set up and an echoing melody answered James' acoustic flavor.
Richie grinned up at him. "Would you look at this beauty?" He held up the--
Jon took a step forward, wincing when paper stuck to his skin. "Is that--"
"A 1954 Goldtop, son."
He whistled. He didn't know guitars like Richie, but he knew vintage when he saw it. "Nice." If Richie would go into hock for anything, it would be a guitar. He reached into his shorts and peeled away a phone number and dumped it into the wastebasket.
"Classy," James said with a laugh.
He gave her a sidelong look. "You get them stuffed in your bra, I get them down my pants."
"There's no room for notes in her bra," Richie cracked.
"Or too much room," Steph retorted.
"All right, let's not go there." James looked at Steph's overflowing bikini top. "Some just weren't graced with tits. I only got talent."
Steph shot a bottle of suntan lotion at her head and she caught it an inch from her face. James climbed off his bed and handed Jon her guitar. "Weep with want, Slick."
Already weeping. He dropped into one of the armchairs and strummed. "I see you have the same lusty reactions to Gibsons that your brother does."
She stroked her fingers lovingly along the neck and around the tuner. "I don't think I've seen anything more beautiful."
He pulled the guitar closer to him and swallowed a groan. The woman was going to kill him, that's all there was to it. The mere fact that he wanted to be a part of that focused attention should have been enough to jerk him out of the danger zone, but it only made it worse. His friggin' dick was going to bust a hole through her brand new toy. He pressed his lips together and strummed once, immediately following in the footsteps of the melody they'd started. He wasn't as accomplished as either of the Samboras, but the guitar seemed to give a sweeter tone to the room. He quickly looked up at James.
"That is why I now owe Lloyd Chiate half my soul."
His fingers curled tighter around the neck. Coveting her guitar was bad enough, but he wanted very much to hear her say the same thing about him, and that was more dangerous than simple need.
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.