Devil Inside

Richie hooked an arm each around Tico and Jon's neck. "Can you fucking believe that show, man?"

Jon blew his overlong bangs out of his eyes. "Helluva way to blow out of Oregon," he agreed.

Teek just grinned and sipped from his cup, no words necessary. Both the Devotion set, and their own had been full of fire and the crowd had been beyond pumped. Rumors from the previous night had infused the arena with a rowdy bunch of fans and they were more than ready for a repeat performance.

Snake came over with a sloshing red cup full of beer and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. "Holy fuck, man! I can't believe that fuckin' show!"

"That's what I'm sayin'!" Richie agreed.

There had been too much going on backstage for him to go out and play with the girls again that night, but Snake and Bas had done the honors which had only stirred the pot to a boil. By the time he and the guys had hit the stage the arena was pumped and that fed into his own playing, but more importantly it got Jon in the mood for an exceptional show. If his singer was happy, everyone was happy. That's just the way things were.

"Where are the girls anyway?" Snake asked.

Richie shrugged. He'd missed Steph all day. He'd heard that she and his sister had gone out on a shopping spree, but hadn't been able to catch a glimpse of them since.

"Steph is fuckin' smokin' tonight too, dude. Seriously, I wouldn't mind getting a piece of that prime--" Richie's chin lifted as his molars ground together. His good mood drained away faster than the first keg of the night. Snake didn't even finish his sentence. "Well shit, Rich, why didn't you say she was yours."

He opened his mouth to say that she wasn't, but it just wouldn't come this time.

"You know me, dude. I don't poach. Though I sure as shit wouldn't mind sharing her." Snake laughed through a haze of smoke.

"I love you Snake, but if you even think of trying to touch her, I'll break your fingers first and when you're crying in your spit, blood and piss, then I'll break your neck."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I get it." Snake threw his hands up, his cigarette bobbing as he talked. He looked at Jon. "Man, we lost him huh?"

Jon tucked his fingers under his arms with a rueful smile, but stayed quiet.

"That's all right. That means there's more girlies for me, man! If the King of Swing is off the market, that means I finally get some prime pussy when I come to visit."

Richie's fingers curled tight around his own red cup and he tried to relax when he heard the lip crack. What the fuck was wrong with him? This woman was driving him insane, and he damn well didn't like it. She wasn't his, even if he couldn't spit it out to one of his oldest friends in the industry. He'd met Snake through Jon, hell he'd practically replaced him for all intents and purposes. Not that you'd know it from the way Snake acted around him. Jovi hadn't been the right fit for him. He knew it and Snake knew it, but a lesser man would have held it against him, but not the affable Dave Sabo. He was a good guy and didn't deserve his shit.

"Look man, I'm sorry."

Snake slapped him on the arm. "Dude, I can see why you'd be territorial. She's more than prime, she's epic hot! And the things she does with a Tootsie pop..." Snake laughed and stepped back. "I'm shutting up now, man."

Light blonde hair caught his attention and Richie turned. The woman slipped into the crowd of people, the flutter of long hair was the only thing he caught. He turned his attention back to his little group, laughing when Snake started in on a story about a show that had gone down in a flame of shit.

His eyes automatically scanned the party for Steph. Disgusted that he was looking for her, he focused on Tico and his raised brow. He only lifted his glass in salute and knocked back his entire beer. “I need a refill, anyone want?”

Snake nodded and so did Jon. He went in search of the keg and figured another night of oblivion was in order. The only thing that kept him from seeking her out was getting so drunk that he couldn't get his dick to work on demand. Again, a wisp of blonde hair teased the edges of his vision. He had a weakness for blondes, but since Steph he’d barely looked at the more than willing women that crowded the after parties.

Did that mean he was finally easing up on this obsession with Steph? It didn’t seem likely, all he did was think about her. Shit, he woke up with a hard on for her on a daily basis. And the last three songs he’d started included summer blue eyes and a smile that made a man feel like a king.

He was turning into a fucking sap.

Finally, he reached the keg and refilled the cups, turning back to find the guys in the throng of people. Before he could get back to them the same blonde filled his line of sight. From the back her hair was a waterfall of sinful thoughts. It was the kind of hair you wanted against your thighs and belly as a woman went down on you. It was the kind of hair that made a man want to wrap it around his hand and pull her head back to get to her neck.

His cock jumped in his jeans and he instinctively followed her. She melted into the crowd and he lost sight of her, only to catch another glimpse of her in along the wall heading out of the party. He put the cups on the nearest ledge and they were gone before he turned around.

Where the fuck did she go?


He pushed through the crowd just as she disappeared through a doorway. This time he caught more than the nearly spotlight white of her hair. An ass hugging skirt barely came down to her thighs. Then there was this little flip at the end where slits climbed her hips. A few inches of creamy thigh had a drop of sweat sliding down his back. It felt like forever since he’d gotten inside a woman and his dick was playing homing pigeon with this luscious piece of perfection. Guilt ate at his arousal, but he couldn’t stop himself from following her.

Steph wasn’t his yet.

He wasn’t cheating.

He just needed some release and then he could manage to hold her off just a little bit longer. The week long break would be good for them. He could put her out of his mind again, just like he'd been doing for years.

The click of heels in an empty hallway pushed him to walk faster. There hadn’t been a single woman that had turned him on in over two weeks. Ever since he’d had a taste of her, he couldn’t stop thinking about her. And finally, like a gift from heaven, a woman that could get him past this hump.

He grinned. More like he was going to jump her, then hump her. He’d make it so good for this girl and maybe, just maybe he’d be able to think like his usual self.

Wicked heeled boots hugged her from ankle to just above her knee leaving that fascinating and dead sexy three inches of skin bare. All he had to do was lift that skirt, move panties aside...Hell, she could leave the boots on.

He’d let her ride him for a fucking hour.

If he could last that long. No one had ever called him a minute man, but he just might be one tonight. She turned the corner to another side room and he chased after her. Christ, the chick was leading him around by the dick and he hadn’t even seen her face.

Not that it mattered, at this point he could just close his eyes and fuck her.

He could pretend she was Stephanie.

His cock banged against his zipper in time to his heartbeat. This chick's body wasn’t a far cry from Steph to be honest. She was tiny like her, curves in all the right spots and an ass that was created to fill his hands.

The blonde stopped and finally turned around. His gaze fell to her breasts. Full and firm, he groaned as he caught the tight nipples drilling out against the second skin black material. Chains held the shirt up and fastened into a collar around her neck. Yes, indeed he’d love to pull that hair back and get his mouth on her neck.

Then he saw the made-to-suck-a-man's-dick lips and the telltale white stick.

His heart stalled and his breathing halted in his chest.

Fuck no.

The pink stain of the stick slid across lips so dark and slick his cock wouldn’t let up even though he knew it was her. His chest heaved, taking the decision to breathe out of his hands. Finally he met her eyes, his lungs still trying to catch up with the sudden need for oxygen.

She walked toward him slowly. All that silky blonde hair fluttered around her nearly bare shoulders. There was no room for a bra, and she didn’t even try to hide the fact, as her full breasts slowly swayed with each hip rolling step.

He couldn’t move. Shit, he didn’t want to move. He just wanted her to touch him, to take away the decision for him at this point.

He couldn’t remember not wanting her. For years he’d dreamt of her coming to him like this. Okay, so there wasn’t a seedy storage room in his fantasy. There was just him and Stephanie and a room that only boasted a bed and candles.

But this Stephanie was better than the one he’d put together in his head.

She didn’t speak and when he opened his mouth as a last ditch effort to warn her off she placed one finger over his lips. He groaned when the tip of her finger slid down the middle of his lower lip.

“Shut up, Richie, and just take. You know you want to. I can see it." Her eyes dipped low and he felt her gaze as surely as if she'd stroked his cock. The soft fan of her lashes lifted and the direct, searing blue of her eyes bore into his.

He shook his head, even as he could feel his own resistance melt away to nothing. It was useless. It was going to happen and he might as well enjoy it. The trainwreck would come and he’d just have to deal with the aftermath.

Even if she shredded his heart.

Because he knew if he lost her at this point, it would kill a vital part of him.

She took out her tootsie pop and shoved it in his mouth before he could say another word. The cherry taste made his taste buds flood with saliva. If it the lollipop or the woman, he couldn’t tell. And when she pressed a light kiss at the center of his throat, he moaned.

“You know this is right,” she said against his skin.

He let his head drop back as the tip of her tongue swirled around his Adam’s apple and then lower to mimic the line of his T-shirt collar. Her hands slid across his chest, her thumbs brushing over his nipples unerringly before they disappeared inside his leather jacket and around his back to rake down and then back up.

His head snapped up as her touch came back around the front of his belly. Her nail slid under the button of his jeans. He could feel her knuckle saw back and forth along the line of hair that drew down into his zipper.

“Jesus, Baby.”

His gut quivered as she reached in just a little more and the pad of her finger circled the head of his cock. He couldn’t stop his hips from shifting higher and he hissed when the side of her knuckle cupped the underside of his head.

On her tiptoes, her lips reached his ear. “I want your cock in my mouth. And I want you to watch me as I suck you off.”

He swore, the lollipop hit the floor with a sticky click and his fingers were in her hair, wrapping around the insanely soft strands. He didn’t even try to resist her, he took her mouth like he wanted to take her, hard and fast. Her arm wrapped around his neck as she flicked open his button and jerked down his zipper. He hissed out a breath, gripping her hair to get at her neck. He wanted to taste every inch of her twice then go back and find room for thirds.

“No, dammit.”

The word itself stopped him in his tracks. Even through the buzzing his his own brain as all the important blood was now pooling into his cock, that one word never failed to jerk him into stillness. "What?"

She gripped him tightly and he knew in that moment he would be at her mercy. He'd wanted her to touch him for so long. Then he finally heard the voices in the hallway. The combined voices of Doc and Paul as they called for them all to get ready for the airport. They were heading to Vancouver on a private jet thanks to one of the PR guys from the party the night before.

His fingers bunched in her hair and when he heard an answering whimper from Steph, his dick hardened even more if that was possible. Did she like a little pain with her pleasure? Could she really be that perfect for him? Darker desires always lurked inside him, but he never let them out with the groupies. You never knew who would talk to who. Just to be sure, he tugged one more time and he shuddered under her touch as her eyes rolled to his, her teeth sawing into her lower lip.

The voices got louder as they came closer to the room they were in, but he took the time to lave his tongue over her lower lip and kiss her deep and hard before he drew away. She swore ripely and he could have echoed every sentiment. Would timing ever be their friend?

She gripped the leather of his jacket, dragging him down to her level. "If you walk away from me again, I will rip your balls off and feed them to you."

He couldn't stop the laugh even as a wince chased it. "Baby, you unleashed something that's never going to be able to be put in a box again."

Steph frowned. "What the hell does that mean?"

Before he could answer her, Paul ducked into the room. "Sorry to interrupt, but it's time to shove off."

Richie nodded and linked his fingers with hers. Then it was too crazy to even try to talk to her again until they landed in one of the limos that would bring them to the airport. The overflow of a great show and enough booze flowing between the two bands to open up a bar didn't give him a chance to talk to her again. They were all crammed in a stretch limo and Jon was playing bartender.

Before Steph could climb in and sit with the girls, he dragged her down next to him and slung his arm around her shoulder. Ignoring her startled eyes and the knowing smirk from his sister he accepted a red cup full of something he couldn't decipher. Whiskey, rum, or a mixture of both, he hadn't a clue. He took a fortifying sip and let the burn settle his nerves. Just maybe he could ease the hard on that was trying to rip into his belly if he numbed himself on alcohol.

Steph accepted her own cup of brew and he sat back. Instead of his hard on, he focused on her hair, letting the strands slide through his fingers as he talked to Tico about their return to Vancouver. And with each pass through her hair, he felt her relax next to him. He laughed when the limo hit a bump and the cup of ice Jon was preparing for the next drink went airborne.

"Dammit!" Jon slurred and shrugged before he went back to the bucket for more. "Pixie, hold this!"

Ashley bounced from one seat to another until she was crouched in front of Jon with a devilish grin. "I'll cup anything you want, Jon."

Jon wagged a finger at her and closed one eye as if to see her better. "I don't think I'd survive you cupping anything of mine."

Everyone laughed except for his sister. Instead, she just toyed with the ends of her...blue? Well shit, blue and almost black hair and kept her eyes on her boots. Was she high? Or just drunk? Or...he shook his head with a groan and shifted in his seat as Steph's hand dropped to his thigh. All thoughts of Jon melted away as he smiled down at her. He buried his nose into her sweet smelling hair. "You're playing with fire, Baby."

Instead of answering him, her fingers just inched up his thigh. He set his cup on top of her hand with a mild groan. It was going to be a long plane ride and it was well past time for him to take some control of their situation.

The whooshing roar of planes overhead signaled they were coming into the airport terminal. They didn't need to go through airport security this time. Instead the limo sidled up to the white and blue plane and came to a stop. They all unloaded, Doc disappearing to talk to the PR guy...Jerry, George, Jason...whatever the fuck his name was. It didn't matter, by tomorrow they wouldn't remember his name anyway. It was just one more guy looking to get close to the band and the next party.

Richie knew the game and played it well. He knew what was expected of him and never let Jon down when it came to doing his part at a party, but tonight...tonight he was going to focus on Stephanie and showing her just what she was going to get thanks to her teasing. Once he was through this door he knew there was no turning back.

Ten minutes later all their overnighters were lodged in the overheads. It was after 2am and the front of the plane was still going strong with a cooler full of booze infusing the party with enough juice to make it to Vancouver. But he didn't want that party. He wanted a private one in the dark at the back of the plane.

The jet was only a twenty seater so true privacy wasn't happening tonight, but he came up behind her before she could sit down. He slid his hand around her waist, the tips of his fingers finding the warm, silky skin of her belly. He didn't notice it before, but a thin chain circled her waist, arrowing down in a Y with a dangle toward the center.

He brushed his nose along the back of her ear, dragging in her soft scent as he tugged on the chain. "Come to the back of the plane with me."

She swayed back against him. The earlier siren strangely missing once they'd gotten on the plane. He didn't blame her for thinking he'd walk away again. He'd been doing it for months now, but that was over. She'd just have to learn that the next phase would be under his rules.

His thumb swiped under the chain, just below her navel. "I like this." She shuddered under his touch, prompting him to go one step further, cupping the front half of her torso, dragging her back intil his cock was lodged between her cheeks. "No more running, Baby. You're mine now."

The quick intake of breath was all he needed. He threaded his fingers through hers and led her to the back of the plane. The light was dimmer the deeper they got into the back. A bench seat took up the last row. Her eyes glinted in the half light, but there wasn't a word between them. Now wasn't the time to talk, he needed to show her what she'd unleashed with the slow teasing and relentless pursuit.

Maybe then he could give back a little of the destruction she'd caused.

He sat down, glancing at the front of the plane. No one gave two shits about them. He opened his legs, sliding down on the seat enough that he gave her plenty of lap to sit on. He guided her between his legs and slipped two fingers along one of the slits in her skirt until he could curl under the stretchy black fabric.

Her breath came in shallow puffs as he traced the seam of her panties and slowly drew his knuckle across the front and groaned. She'd soaked through the scrap of lace. He flipped up the skirt front and leaned forward. Her hands slid into his hair and held on as he breathed her in. His mouth watered and it took everything in him to stop. He wanted a taste, wanted to linger between her thighs and feel her tighten around his tongue. But not here.

He wanted to be able to take his time and to make her scream. Instead, he nipped at the material, dragging it away from the heat and heady scent of her pussy, letting it snap back against her skin. The quick jolt had her swallowing a gasp and he smiled against the lace. "I'd spend hours down here if I could," he murmured.

"Oh, God."

He grinned up at her, touching the tip of his tongue between her plump lips under the restrictive lace. He dug under the back of her tight skirt and pulled her panties down, forcing himself to let the flap of her skirt cover her. He knew if he got a look at her, he'd have no choice but to taste her. And that wasn't an option. Not now, not with an audience...not for the first time anyway.

He shoved her panties in his back pocket and topped her onto his lap, shifting her until she straddled him. His fingers coasted the narrow line of her back and up along her neck, dragging her down to his mouth. The kiss was slow and thorough. He could learn this part of her at least. The quick, unrestrained kiss after he'd nearly suffocated Doc was nothing compared to this. She seemed to instinctively know what he needed, drawing on his tongue and he hardened even more if that was possible. Her mouth around his cock would kill him, he was sure of it.

But now was for her.

He boxed up his own needs and tucked them away, focusing on showing her just how a man could worship a woman. The silky fall of her hair slithered around his wrist and fingers and he dug into the warmth at her neck. She tipped her hips forward and he felt the slick bump of her pussy against his zipper. He smiled against her mouth. "You're going to soak the front of my jeans in your juices by the time I'm done."

She moaned and the kiss went wild with need. She hung onto his shoulders and the light undulation of her hips against him tried to unlock that tight box of control. He twisted her hair in his hand, pulling her head back so he could get to her throat. "You have no idea how bad I want to fuck you. Almost as much as I want to make love to you for days."

She melted against him. "God, you can't say those things to me," she whispered.

"I want all that, but the moment I take you Baby, that's it. You're mine. Do you know what you've started?" Her arm came around his neck and he loosened her hair enough so that he met her gaze. He cupped her face, his thumb brushing across her lips, then her cheek. He watched her, drowned in her as he slid his hand between them.

She was silky smooth against his knuckles as he brushed her gently. Her breath caught as he grazed her swollen folds. "Oh yeah, so wet for me. I could slide my cock inside you right now and it would feel so good."

She closed her eyes. "You're killing me."

He twisted his wrist and probed with his middle finger, slipping around her tight clit, making sure each and every joint slid against it as he slowly sunk inside her. She was so wet, so tight, and so perfect that he barely held onto sanity as he stroked her with his finger. All the while he watched her, daring her to keep his gaze. On the next pass, he buried his forefinger in with his middle and pumped inside her, curling until he could push against her clit and then into her pussy tissues then stayed there.

He burrowed his nose into her hair, against her ear. "I want this to be my cock so bad, Baby."

She undulated against his hand. "Who would know? Just do it now. Please," she said on a strangled sob.

He fucked her with his hand, turning off the clouding lust that told him to just unbuckle and get inside her. Not here, not like this. He wanted to be able to savor the first time inside her. He turned his hand so that his thumb could circle her clit. Driving his fingers into her heat, he used every ounce of dexterity he had to get her off quickly. He couldn't take much more of this.

Not when he knew she'd finish alone.

The purring groans she gave off just about killed him and when she gasped he locked his lips over her mouth and swallowed all those sweet little sounds that had been haunting his dreams. When she stiffened in his arms, his fingers twisted into the hair at the base of her neck, dragging her head back as he rested his forehead against her chest. Everything inside him wanted to look under that skirt and watch his fingers gliding into her heat, but he knew that would just tip him over the edge.

He sat back, slamming his head into the back of the seat to break the hypnotic trance of watching her undulate over him. She rocked against him slowly, just a few more times and stilled. They were in their own little cocoon and he didn't give two shits about the outside world. She was even hotter than he'd thought she'd be. And he'd had the bar set high.

He slowly drew his fingers out, making sure to slide up and along her clit and was rewarded with one long shudder. She stared at him, her chest heaving and the color high on her cheeks. He gentled his hold on her hair and smoothed his thumb across her cheek. Her scent was everywhere making him so hungry he could barely restrain himself. He kept his gaze on hers as he licked his fingers slowly. When the last drop of her was gone, he closed his eyes to savor her.

He didn't even have a chance to ease out from under her before her mouth was on his, her fingers in his hair. She pulled away and pressed her forehead to his. "I can taste myself on your tongue."

His fingers gripped her hips. "You're killing me, Baby." She brushed her nose against his, her breath hot on his cheek as she tried to pull herself together. Understanding the uncontrollable needs pinging around inside her, he eased her against his chest and drew his palm down her back. "Shh, just relax."

"How am I supposed to relax? I'm so turned on I could scream."

He pressed his cheek into her sweet smelling hair praying that his body would cooperate. He was so hard, he could barely think. He forced a light tone into his voice. "Didn't I take care of you?"

She turned her head into his neck. "God, yes. But I want more."

He laughed, the movement had him silently sucking in air. He was going to explode. "Greedy."

She curled her arm around his neck and played with his hair. "You better believe it." She held onto him and all he could think about was doing the same. You couldn't die from a hard on.

At least he was pretty sure you couldn't.

Turning her so she was settled across his lap and curled into him instead of cradling his poor, tortured dick he focused on her shampoo, her light breathing, and making it through the next hour.



An hour later they were under the dryer. Some sort of treatment on the both of them to protect it from the beatings they both put their hair through with daily washes and drying and hairspray. Ruby hadn't let Jamie see in the mirror since she'd told her to go with a surprise. It was amusing to watch her best friend fidget. Pride wouldn't let her beg to see the end product, but she'd been staring at the clumps of hair hitting her lap and bouncing her foot more and more.

She had a feeling Jamie would be happy with the results. It was Joan Jett meets sexy siren with a side of something just a little bit softer. It made her look younger, less hard around the edges. Ruby simply was a miracle worker.

Just as she was dozing off again under the warm stream of air, the dome came up and she blinked at the bright fluorescent lights. Steph stretched and slid her fingers into her hair. When she'd said cornsilk Ruby had taken her at her word.

Their new favorite stylist led her over to the magic chair and settled her in. More blow drying and the monotonous brushing of her hair followed by a flat iron had her so relaxed she could have easily slid into a puddle on the floor. "You could make a million dollars by just doing this."

Ruby laughed. "It's like foreplay if you do it right."

"Damn straight." She looked over her shoulder with a lazy smirk. "You're killing Jamie you know."

"I know, but it's so fun when they see it for the first time. I think she'll really like it. Just like I think I nailed yours." She turned her around to the mirror and Steph just gasped. Her usual honey brown hair was now framed with super light blonde around her face. It was even longer now that it was straight and fell over her shoulder like silk. Her bangs were mostly blonde and the entire underside of her hair was a rich brown. For that rockstar element, there was a swatch of purple peeking from the blonde. "Oh, Ruby."

Ruby pulled out the little hank of purple. "Here, hold onto these." She dropped a ribbon with little charms dangling off of it in the palm of her hand. "I'm going to braid some of these into it. You've got the sexy slick and then this playful little bit of fun that just seems to suit you."

It really did. She dug under the underside and tied an intricate knot at the roots and all those pretty music notes flowed down an intricate back braid ending in a gem studded trio of crossees and a G-clef. She jumped out of her chair and hugged her. "Every time I'm out this way I'm coming to see you."

"Wow." Ruby sniffed and hugged her tight. "I'm just so stoked that I could take care of you guys." She looked down at her toes and then back up. "Do you think I could have a picture for my wall? To show off your design and of course that you were in my shop?"

"Sure, sure." Steph looped an arm around her waist as Ruby led her to the back. She mugged for the polaroid and then signed it.

"Want me to do your makeup too?"

Steph looked at the hard edge of black liner and wild magenta and purple swirls and hesitated.

"Oh no, not everyone can go with this." Ruby waved to her own face. "Just trust me."

The flat heel of Jamie's boot practically pounded out a setlist's worth of a beat by the time Ruby had her face done. "Don't look. Let this one be a surprise."

Steph growled. "Man, how am I supposed to wait?"

"Like I did, goddammit. Get me out of this hood!"

Steph and Ruby laughed at Jamie's impatient growl. "Help me cover her eyes," Ruby asked as they both went over to the dryer. "Okay, Jamie. I've still got to do one more thing before you can look."

"Are you freakin' kidding me?"

Steph slapped a hand over her eyes as soon as the dryer dome lifted. "C'mon, be a sport."

"I've never been, nor will I ever be...a fucking sport."

That was damn true. Jamie tried to siddle away, feigned left and then right, but Steph managed to keep her hand over her eyes. "The surprise is worth it." Jamie's normally rich brown hair was a few shades darker. More of a molten dark chocolate that showcased her sun-kissed complexion with a feathering style of bangs and layers that flowed into ends tipped in cobalt blue. It was pure metal-chick and so Jamie that Ruby had to be a mind reader. She caught the back of Jamie's hair in the mirror and grinned. It was razor cut so that it fell into a layered point just below her shoulder blades, the ends in the same dipped blue.

They definitely needed to go shopping now. They both looked totally different.

And totally kickass.

"Don't look at your face!" Ruby cried and Steph slammed her eyes shut.

"I was too busy looking at Jamie's hair."

"Jamie wants to look at Jamie's hair!"

She pushed her into the chair. "Be patient."

"Like that's my strong point," Jamie groused.

Steph hopped back onto the other chair and turned her chair so she wasn't tempted to look in the mirror. Ruby gave Jamie the same treatment, but since her hair was nearly pin straight to start with, it only took a few swipes of the flat iron to smooth out the last of the kinks.

"Damn, wait until you see."

Jamie sent her a sideways glance and her eyebrows rose. "Damn, Lolly. Look at you all slick and polished. Richie's going to be afraid to muss you up."

"He better not be." She fluffed her bangs. "You think it looks okay?"

"You're a fucking babe. And those lips? Do we get to take home that lipstick? Because every guy is going to want her lips around their cock with lips looking like that."

"I already have a bag for each of you," Ruby answered.

"Gee thanks, Jamie."

Jamie shrugged. "I only speak the truth. You already have hot lips, now they're just pure sex. You're going to kill my brother."

"Brother?" Ruby's eyes widened as she tugged Jamie's head just a touch too hard in excitement and looked at Steph.


"Sorry, sorry." Ruby eased up on Jamie's hair with the flat iron. "You're hooking up with Richie Sambora? Unless Jamie has another brother? I don't think so though, right? Just the two of you?"

Jamie nodded. "Priest quiet on this one Ruby. No one knows they are circling each other like hungry wolves."

Steph flushed. "I wish I could deny it, but God I just want to take a bite out of him." Her body hummed at the thought of killing him tonight. She needed something to wear after the show that would make him sit up and take notice. They had a night free so that they could get into Vancouver and through customs. They'd be on the flight together this time.

And she planned on dragging him into the dark back and showing him just what she could do to him and this time she wasn't letting him run away or make an excuse.

Ruby lined Jamie's eyes with dark blue then slashed on a little mascara. "Okay you two." She turned them both around at the same time and clapped when they both gasped.

Ruby had done something with her eyes. A smokey liner and mascara and something shimmery on her lids that made her eyes pop. China blue and glowing, but it was her mouth that drew attention. Slick, dark red with this sheen to it that did indeed beg for sex. "Holy crap, Ruby!" Steph slid off her chair and pushed at her hair, but no matter what she did it slithered over her shoulder and the almost white blonde of it framed her face and breasts making her look fresh and different and...older. Not so baby faced. It made her cheekbones look higher and classier.

Her smile spread slow and wide. She was going to kill him.

Jamie was still staring at herself in the mirror. The cobalt blue fluttered around her shoulders and arrowed down her slim back drawing the eye down to her amazing butt and legs.

"Damn, Ruby. You know your job, girlfriend!" Jamie whipped around and took a look at the back of herself. "Holy shit!" Then she looked at Steph. "Holy shit!"

"I know!" Steph couldn't help the bubbling laugh and spun the hairdresser into a tight, jumping hug. "You made us look totally kick ass!"

Ruby held up one long finger then clomped to the back of her shop, back with two cameras. One real one with film, and her Polaroid again. "Okay, just a few more pictures. God, you guys looks so amazing. I'm amazing!"

Jamie threw her arm around Jamie and hauled her in until they were cheek to cheek. The flash and whirl of the instant camera had her blinking, but it was nothing against the slim, pink camera's flash. She should be used to it by now with backstage, but it never ceased to put dots in her vision.

They paid her and gave a generous tip, then waved their way out of the salon and they headed to the food court.

"I need fuel."

"Yeah, me too," she answered and she let Jamie drag her into the lunch rush. It was mid-week so the rush wasn't too bad, but the people that were there made up the housewife and senior set and they weren't subtle about the stares.

"So, are they staring because we're hot, or because we're freaks?"

Steph laughed. "A little bit of both, I think." She spotted Todd in the middle of the food court with a slack jawed face. "That one just thinks we're hot."

"Well then, let's kill him."

They both threw a swing in their step and Steph could feel eyes turning their way. Feminine power was very much like a drug and she stored it up to use later. Heads turned, women sneered, and Todd dropped a bag full of tapes on the floor before he dropped to pick everything up. If that did say how hot they were, nothing did. She bent to pick up one of the tapes, seeing the smoky heart and scrawl of their band's name. She grinned up at him and handed him the tape. "Good taste."

"Can you sign it for me?"

She laughed and reached into her bag. She always had a Sharpie at hand. It just made everything easier with their new found fan base. She paiently waited for him to fumble the wrapping open and take out the sleeve. Steph scrawled her name on the inside over her picture and handed over the marker for Jamie to do the same. She patted his cheek. "Ready for some lunch, Todd?"

He bobbed his head, his eyes glassy. She wasn't sure if he was more impressed with them as artists or just that they were famous. She wasn't even sure if there was a difference anymore. She tucked a twenty into his hand. "Why don't you go get us a couple of salads and add grilled chicken to them and whatever you want. A couple of Pepsi's too."

"Salad?" Jamie asked and dumped herself into a chair, her long legs crossed insolently and a cigarette already at her lips.

"We need something that isn't fast food or room service."

"Speak for yourself."

Steph plucked the cigarette out of her hand and took a long drag before blowing it out into the cavernous ceiling. The quick shot of nicotine went to her head immediately in a nice little buzz before dissipating. "So, what's going on with you?"

Jamie shoved her sunglasses on and crossed her arms. "What do you mean?"

"Doesn't take a psychologist to see you just shut down on me, girl. What's going on?"

Jamie pinched the bridge of her nose and shoved her sunglasses higher on her nose. "Just tired, babes. I need this week off for the holiday."

She'd known Jamie for what felt like forever. Something was off with her. Beyond the drinking and the partying, that she understood and could party with the best of them. In fact her brain felt two sizes too big for her skull with what they'd put down the night before. Not that she'd let on about it to Jamie. "Are you sure that's all it is?"

"Yeah, what else would it be?"

But before she could interrogate her any more Todd came back with their lunch. They spent the next twently minutes torturing Todd with questions before they dragged him into the heart of the shopping center. Eight stores that catered to women's clothing lined that half of the mall.

"Come to mama," Steph whispered.

Todd dutifully followed them around like a puppy. Held coats and clothes that they'd set aside to buy. By the third store his puppy dog smile had dimmed to a glazed look that she understood. Many a boyfriend had the same look when they made the mistake of going out shopping with them.

At the fourth shop Steph stopped at the entrance and sighed. Racks and racks of clothes that suited the party circuit and seemed to be made for the stage were as far as the eye could see.

"Oh, man," she heard Jamie sigh.

She snapped hangers aside and grabbed jeans, belts, skirts, shirts, and bras until her arms were overflowing, then stopped before a mannequin at the center of the store and absently shoved everything at Todd. She climbed onto the dais and found her size, walking immediately to the dressing room and stripping off her clothes.

Five minutes later she arranged the shirt until it lay just right. She jumped at a heavy thunk on her dressing room door. She turned around and laughed. "Where did you find those?"

"C'mon, you know it was made for that outfit."

She grasped the black leather boots and tugged them on. They had some sort of stretchy material so that they gripped her calves and up to her knees and over hovering an inch over her knees. The heel was stilletto thin and at least four inches. She opened the door and Jamie swore.

"Oh yeah," Steph smiled at her reflection. "He's a dead man."



Sweat gathered between her shoulder blades and the tendons in her calves stretched as he lifted her thigh higher onto his hip, gripping under her knee for purchase. Like a piston, his hips drove her harder and higher. Blue eyes bore into her as surely as his cock did.

Jamie shut her eyes against the intensity and the fire there, scorching into her regardless if she looked away or not. Her body took over, as it did every day since they'd come together on the roof. With a slight tilt of her hips he found the spot and she splintered apart. Shattered, she took every stroke as he lengthened the orgasm with a clever hand between them and she sobbed out her release to any god that would listen.

Thankfully, there wasn't any real need to be quiet. There was always someone getting fucked backstage. It just so happened that it was her lately.

Her name, like a promise, was a whispered litany to the beat of his thrusts. Just loud enough for her to hear, a whispered scream that followed her into dreams and choked her awake in the middle of the night. He pinned her to the amp, a final jerk of his hips and then the groan just as he filled her. Her foot didn't drop, even as his hands peeled off her hips and his nose found the spot behind her ear, along her hairline and he breathed her in. She allowed herself this time, allowed herself to hold onto him for a few minutes. All too soon they'd have to pretend nothing happened.

Her fingers tangled into his wild mane of hair for one more moment before letting him slide out of her.

"Don't go, not yet."

"My DNA is already a part of the amp, Slick."

He eased back with a murmured apology. "I can't ever get close enough."

Her brain fizzled and she pushed him back, stepping into the jeans he'd stripped off of her. She understood and yet she didn't want to open herself to the possessiveness that threatened each time she touched him. "Don't."

Fingers gripped her hips and dragged her back against him. "Don't what? Don't fuck you until we're both too bruised to walk? Don't think about you every moment that I'm not on that stage? Don't wonder if you're fucking anyone else like you fuck me? What, James?"

The hideous darkness overlapped the tidal wave of lust. "No strings," she said hoarsely. "We agreed."

"Every time I cut the strings after I've had you I bleed just a little more. It kills me."

Tears burned and her voice went thick with it. "Then you don't get to touch me."

He spun her around. "No, don't you say that. Don't you ever say that!" His eyes were wild and his face pale with fatigue both from the show he'd just walked off of and the blistering sex they always had. It was never easy, never safe. Each time they got within the other's air it was always like this. Find the nearest corner, the nearest shadow, the nearest hiding spot that would let him be inside her the most expediently.

And no, it was never enough.

"Shh," she whispered, her finger over his mouth. "I didn't mean it."

His mouth took hers, hard and rough. Pulling back, he met her eyes, knuckling away the tears that had overflowed. "This has to burn out sometime, I know it. Nothing can be like this and last without putting one of us in the ground." He cupped her face, his thumbs smoothing over her cheekbones. "But it doesn't feel like it's going to do that anytime soon."

Her chest eased as logic poured into his blue eyes instead of that blind lust. It scared her, the way he felt about her, the lust she could deal with--she could match stride for stride, stroke for stroke--but the desperation was dangerous. Desperation equaled mistakes and they weren't allowed to make mistakes.

She pushed forward and bit his lower lip, then laved it with her tongue until it throbbed under the slick wetness of her touch. "We can ride the flame, but we both know it's going to end sometime, Slick. And when it does we both have to walk away. It won't work if we don't both walk away at the same time." She forced herself to let him go, even when every part of her wanted to curl around him and never let go.

And that simply wasn't allowed to happen.

She pulled herself together and headed into the backstage madness, forcing herself not to look back at him. If she did, she'd never leave. The second night in Portland and there were just 2 nights left to deal with. Then a blissful week off. A week where she could curl into her own bed, in her room...to let her family infuse her with something real, something normal. The road didn't have any basis in reality. It was one more mile-marker on a stretch of endless road. All the hotels looked the same, all the fans were starting to look the same.

That wasn't what she did this for. It was the stage that kept her sane, but the unending schedule was killing her. That was the only true statement she could make right now. The only thing she could swear on a stack of bibles about. She needed to get away. She needed the White Shoulders scent of her mother, and the tobacco and Old Spice familiarity of her father. The full bed smashed into the corner of her room with the bookcases filed with her notebooks. Writing music was her solace and she needed that scent of paper, of home to get her back to center.

Gratefully she took the red cup of oblivion from David as she walked into the party. She downed her first beer, took a swig from some guy's bottle of brew and pushed her way through the melee of people. All of them were faceless and certainly nameless to her. And at the center of it was an exuberant Ash and laughing Stephanie. A crowd of men surrounded them and her brother watched from the edges.

Turning into him, she lifted the pint of Vodka from his spidery fingers and took a gulp.

"Hey! Get your own," he groused.

She plopped on his lap and circled her arm around his neck, pointing her chin at Steph. "Why don't you go get your own?"

"I have my stash."

"Don't be obtuse, brother mine. You know what I mean."

"Get off," he said and stood another long pull from his bottle was his only retort.

"She won't wait forever," she called after him but Richie was ignoring her as plainly as he was ignoring Steph. Even if his eyes followed her all over the room. Even if he was too stupid to go and take what he wanted for once in his life. He went after everything else he wanted. She wasn't sure what scared him about all five feet two of her best friend.

But scared is what he was. Running scared.

And when she saw the vial pass from Doc to Richie she shook her head in disgust. He'd get high and ignore her for the night. And she hated that she wanted to do the exact same thing. Just one line and she could push the sludge of want and guilt out of her system and ride the high that never let her down. She followed him out the door, swearing when he slammed the door in her face not even seeing her. She pushed her way into the underbelly of the party. The air was thick with pot and too many colognes. Dim with only a few lights, she picked her way across wriggling bodies and simpering females in varying stages of undress.

Ad execs, friends, suits, or sluts, it didn't matter who you were when the lights were this low. Making sure she skimmed the edges of the party on the opposite side of the room to her brother, she smiled slyly when a suit slid his too soft hands around her wrist. It never took long.

"Wanna party?"

"Oh yeah," she said and squeezed between two of the faceless and cut a line. She leaned forward, a hand at her back, the mirror smeared with razor scrapes and sweet oblivion just a moment away.


A blast of sunshine seared her corneas what felt like only minutes later. Somehow she'd ended up back in her room, and alone thank fuck. How she got there, she had no clue. Jamie rolled over, flinging the sheet and pillow over her head and prayed for black out curtains. "What the fuck?" she bellowed.

"Up and at 'em!"

"I know you didn't just clap at me like I'm a dog," she said from under the pillow.

Steph only laughed. "Hey, you knew we were going out shopping all day. You shoulda kept with your namesake or beer. It's not my fault you partied hard."

Hard wasn't the word for what she did last night. The guys she'd partied with had a limitless supply and seemed to be just content with hanging out with her. Of course, if you were a guy and had enough blow in you, your dick was about as useful as a overdone pasta. She reached onto the floor for her bag and found her No-Doze and aspirin, dry swallowing them before she stumbled out of bed. "Just let me get a shower."

"Good idea."

"Fuck off."

"No thanks."

Jamie shouldered her way into the bathroom, praying that the No-Doze would kick in so she could function. After dunking her head in the shower, she felt slightly more human. Ten minutes later she had her hair dried and was digging into her bag for something clean. Normally they did laundry on day two, but shopping took precedence. She wanted new clothes and new hair.

"Well, you look marginally more human."

"A shower does wonders, Lolly."

"Don't call me that."

She arched a brow at Steph. "C'mon, everyone else does."

"I hate it."

"Or is it that you hate being known for the power of your suck," she teased and flicked the end of her pick stained stick.

"One man should know, but he's too stupid to do anything about it."

Jamie winced. "Tell me that wasn't a veiled threat about you giving my big brother a blow job."

"Yeah well, it's not my fault that you're his sister."

She flipped a black lace shirt over a blue tank and hiked up black jeans over her hips. They were a little big on her at the moment. So, she'd have to add new jeans to her list as well. There was only so much a belt could do.

"Why is your ass baggy?"

She just shrugged. "Eating tends to be last on our list some nights."

"Not on my list," Steph pouted. "Though the kneeling stuff through Addicted has been adding to my stomach exercises." She lifted her loose white shirt and rubbed her palm down her flat belly. There was a sizable gap in her jeans too. "Well, look at that. Maybe I need new jeans too."

Jamie leaned down and snagged her credit card and jammed it in her back pocket. Rooted around until she found a pack of smokes and shoved them in her other pocket. "We good?"

"I've been good."

Jamie laughed over her shoulder. "You've been way too good. In fact, on our shop-a-thon I think we should make sure that whatever we buy is very, very bad for tonight's festivities."

Steph shouldered a denim sack that could quite possibly hold a child. "I think you're right. I need to step it up. I'm going to make sure that man is going to swallow his damn tongue tonight. And then maybe I can go fishing for it and show him how to use it properly."

She winced. "You're going to make my eye twitch. Cut it out."

Pushing her out the door, Steph leaned in very close. "I want Richie to put his--"

"Stop! Stop! Stop!" She clapped her hands over her ears and stomped down the hallway. "You're killing me."

Steph plowed her into the wall and ran ahead making her chase her down the stairs until they came face to face with Doc and Alec. "Shit," Jamie muttered. Al's slick and jittery eyes scraped over her chest and half exposed belly making her want to curl into flannel and eight layers of sweats. Christ, he was fucking creepy.

"Where are you two headed?" Al asked, interest blatant in his dark eyes.

"None of your business, I took care of the morning radio station spots." Steph sneered up at him.

"Don't fucking steal a car today, huh?" Doc said to Steph.

"Then I guess you should find us a ride."

"I'll drive 'em," Al said with another lingering look.

"I'd rather do shots of battery acid," Jamie said with a step forward.

Doc put a hand on Al's shoulder, holding him back and snapped his fingers at one of the bellhops. "Do you have a shuttle service to the shopping plazas?"

The boy nodded, trying desperately not to stare at Steph. Jamie popped a cigarette in her mouth and lit up with a laugh. Having Al so close made her skin crawl, but she was getting better at ignoring him. Even if he stared at her tits way too much. She slung her arm around the boy's shoulder and flicked her gaze at the gold tag on his too-skinny chest. "Are you going to take us to the big, bad mall, Todd?"

The kid flushed, freckles glowing off cheeks stained so red she almost felt sorry for him.

"Leave him alone, Jamie." Steph stepped up and blew the kid away with her heart-stopper smile. "Todd is it?"

The kid bobbed his head and stammered a yes.

Jamie laughed, taking a long drag on her cig and blew a stream of smoke toward Doc. "If we can borrow the kid and a car we'll be out of your hair all day." She grinned wider when Todd's face flushed even darker and his eyes widened. "Oh yeah, Todd, you'll do. We won't hurt him--much."

Steph rolled her eyes. "Down, girl." She slid her arm through Todd's. "You wouldn't mind driving us around would you?"

"I--my boss wouldn't--I mean, it would...ahh," he laughed nervously when she slid her fingers into his and laced them. "Let's just go talk to your boss and see what he says." Steph walked over to the desk and Jamie tapped her ash on the floor. "Another one bites the dust," she muttered. "Look, we won't make trouble. We just need to get out and away from everyone for awhile. We'll just go spend some money and be back in a few hours."

"Soundcheck is at three, think you can manage to get back for that?"

She flipped around the Rolex on Doc's fat wrist and winced. It was only ten in the morning. "Yeah, I think we can manage that."

Steph came back with her arms wrapped around Todd's teen-aged biceps. Stammering had turned to adoration as he fumbled with the keys to a vehicle. "Todd is going to be our chauffeur."

"Three o'clock, Steph. I mean it."

Steph nodded with a beaming smile. "Three o'clock--check!" She dragged Todd to the front doors and Jamie flanked his other side. The kid would live off this moment for weeks, might as well play it up.

Ten minutes later they were in front of a huge white and chrome mall.

"Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about." Steph slid out of the back of the van and plastered a pair of big sunglasses on her face. "Hair first?"

Jamie pushed at her overgrown hair and tugged at the red strips that had faded to a pink. "Definitely hair."

"We're going to take a few hours in the salon, Todd. So you can go ahead and do whatever. We'll meet you at the food court around noon."

The kid bobbed his head and they both walked off without another thought for the kid. "I think it's time for a new color."

"Yeah?" I was thinking the same thing. Steph fluffed her curls out. "I think I want a bit more blonde and it to be silky straight for tonight."

"Straight?" Jamie peered down at her best friend. "Who are you and what did you do with Lolly?"

Steph stuck her tongue at her and shoved a tootsie pop in her cheek. "I want to kill your brother tonight. So, let's go with Dangerous Stephanie."

"All right Dangerous Stephanie, let's get you tricked out." She laughed and pushed her into the chrome and glass doors of Ruby's Salon. It was a Tuesday and the place was practically deserted.

A woman with impossibly red hair peeked around the corner, waved a greeting and disappeared, then slowly backed her way back out and turned. "Holy crap!"

Steph smiled warmly and held out her hand. "I'm S--"

"Stephanie Loran," she breathed out and turned to her. "And you're Jamie Sambora," she said in a reverent whisper. "Oh man, oh man!" The woman snatched both of their wrists and dragged them inside. "Oh man!"

Jamie's eyes bugged as they were dragged into the shop. Posters overwhelmed the space. Some were the typical salon posters with various hairstyles and ads for hair care and color, but the other posters were metal bands, including three of their own. No shit. Jamie grinned. An honest to God uber fan. She just hoped it was good fan and not crazy fan.

"I was at that kick ass show last night! I can't believe you're in my shop! In my shop!" she all but squealed. "Okay, okay, I'm cool. Honestly." With shaking fingers she shook out a Marb from her apron. "I gotta smoke, okay?"

Jamie reached for her own crushed pack and offered one to Steph.

Steph waved it off. "Gotta save the pipes for tonight. I'm already raw."

Jamie lit up and looked around. Bright red stools dotted each station with sparkling clean mirrors and white and black checked floors. "Cool place..."

"Oh shit, I'm sorry. I'm Ruby. This is my place. Holy fuck, I can't believe half of Devotion is in my tiny little place. Holy fuck!"

Jamie laughed and dumped herself into one of the swivel chairs. "S'all good babes." She took a drag and swayed back and forth. "Since you're a fan, you know we gotta look badass. I need a new look and so does Steph."

"Oh man, oh shit! No shit!" Ruby crossed her arms and tapped her cheek with one long purple tipped nail. "Let me think."

"Well, let me start off with saying I want my hair cornsilk soft and straight and blonde it up."

Ruby stubbed out her cigarette and reached for Steph. "Oh yeah, you can use a touch up," she winced. "Sorry, I didn't mean--"

"No, it's okay. We've been on the road for months and we totally need an overhaul." Steph fluffed her bangs. "I want to keep my layers for my crazy curls, but I want you to straighten it really well so I can wear it like that for at least a full day, including a show."

"I got this new shine stuff--"

Jamie tuned them out as they talked about bangs and layers and the show tonight. Steph knew just how to make the girl feel like a million bucks and how to get the best look for herself. Not that Steph needed any help. Her hair back in pigtails, no make up, and that stupid lollipop in her mouth, the men were lining up. She stood, walking the length of the walls and plucking up books for styles and colors.

She stared into the mirror, fluffing her own hair. The feathering layers required more hairspray than she could deal with lately so she definitely needed a clip. Right now it was flat to her head and all sorts of pink streaks instead of the hot crimson she started with at the beginning of the tour. She looked over her shoulder and Steph had a cap on her head and strips of her hair being pulled through for highlights. Nose-searing bleach tinged the air and made her eyes water as Ruby and Steph chattered about the show the night before.

Richie coming on stage had been a surprise, a good one, but a surprise none-the-less. Playing on stage with her brother was a kick, and she hoped to do it again, but watching Steph melt around her brother had hit hard. Not because they were obviously on their way to getting together. No, she was cool with that--hell, she wanted it to happen so they would both stop with the puppy eyes around each other, but the way they got to be all over each other. The way she could curl around Richie and not worry about fucking anything up in their happy world.

She couldn't do that with Jon.

She wasn't allowed to jump in his arms because then everyone would know. She couldn't even pretend to hang off of him as it had to be obvious as hell, if she even touched him once, that she was fucking him blind every chance she got. Guilt talking much? Fucking hell. She gripped the hair at the back of her skull and forced herself to not smoke another damn cigarette. Her throat was on fire from too many as it was. "You got a water or soda or something in here, Ruby?"

"Oh yeah, sure." She opened a mini fridge and tossed them both a cold can of Diet Coke. "Okay, you're up Jamie."

She plopped into the chair and grinned at Steph. She had her hair in foils and looked like a sci-fi Medusa. "Very hot Mz. Loran."

"Shut up."

Jamie roared out a laugh. "The price we pay for beauty." She looked at Ruby through the mirror. "Surprise me. I'm now at your mercy."

Ruby's heavily made up eyes widened until there was way too much white for her liking. "Really?"

"Yeah," she shrugged. "Do me, baby," she said with a grin and closed her eyes.



Heart and Soul

Foxy Lady

She was pretty sure that both Samboras were trying to drive her insane. It was a toss up which one of them was going to get punched first. Stephanie dragged her hands through her hair, messing up all the work she'd done to perfect her look. She tapped a nail on her slim black skirt where the zipper dangled at the top of her thigh.

It was three minutes until they hit the stage and Jamie was still MIA. The last week had been a lesson in patience. It so wasn't her strong suit. "Where the fuck is Jamie!?"

Ash twirled a drumstick, the tip of wood was a neon green to match the ends of her spikey hair. "Probably boffing some stud."

"I'll kill her," Steph growled. Maybe Jamie getting laid would improve her fucking mood. However, she'd prefer if she waited until after the show to open her thighs. She heard the stomp of boots without a heel and the skid and slap of a hand on the corner of the wall as Jamie flipped her long hair out of her face and made it with ninety seconds to spare. "Nice of you to join us."

Instead of a snarl, Jamie just mumbled an apology. Definitely not like her. Her eyes were rimmed in red under the heavy handed kohl liner and mascara. She couldn't tell if it was exhaustion or if she was drunk. Fortunately for them, Jamie played better drunk than sober sometimes. Four hands, nails in varying lengths and colors, piled up between them. Jamie's shredded lace wrapped hand on top.

"Play with heart," Ronnie started.

"Beat with lust," Ashley laughed.

"Sing with passion," Steph affirmed.

"Play with soul," Jamie said in a rusty voice.

The ritual evened her out, even as Jamie hurried ahead of her. The darkened stage beckoned, the restless chatter of the crowd died as they headed for their spots on stage and the acapella opener of Kiss Me Deadly ripped into the night. Shimmering purple lights pulsed and flashed to pure white as the band kicked it into high gear. She smiled and hung off the front of the stage to reach for outstretched fingers. It never ceased to amaze her how much the crowd supported them now. She undulated against her mic stand just and played up the lyrics, laughing as Ronnie came out to lean into her mic with her. She leaned back on Jamie as her girl shredded her way through a solo.

Even rough around the edges, Jamie became the music when she got on the stage. So like her brother in that aspect. But no matter what she tried, she couldn't coax the smiles out of her best friend tonight. The aching wail of her guitar wouldn't be denied and her solo drew out until the intricate notes blended until the crowd stomped and screamed their approval. Instead of fighting it, she signaled a change in the setlist. Introspection and passion could be exploited when Jamie was like this. Heart and Soul was on the album, but they rarely played it.

The song was slower, moodier, and allowed her to get behind the synth that she didn't allow herself to play enough. It played with a driving beat and challenged her vocally to hone in on lyrics that cut close. Even written a year ago, the words were like a prophecy. Jamie belted out the middle. Her rougher, smokey voice put the grit into the song and layered on her words. They melded and merged organically. Harmonies had always been their strong suit. Even when Jamie was miles away as soon as the songs started they were one on stage.

The constant, almost flat vocals that she maintained only enhanced the words that welled up inside her so that when Jamie soared up above the sorrow of the words and belted out the hope and the strength of coming out the other side of a love that just wasn't strong enough. And there she could show just how hard it was to breathe with Richie's confusing reactions and her own want crashing inside her.

She'd been in love before, but nothing could come up against the overwhelming feelings that Richie pulled out of her. It was bigger than herself, bigger than

Tired eyes, tears that dried

(living in a fantasy)

On the bed, on the pillow, where you told your lies

(there's never any room to breathe)

A turn of the key, my blood runs cold

(hoping every waking hour)

Don't look back to hurt me more

(you'll turn around and say that we can start)

Everything you did just said it all

Can't you try to

(oh won't you even try to)

Give a little bit of heart and soul

(give a little bit of heart and soul)

Give a little bit of love to grow

Give a little bit of heart and soul

(give a little bit of heart and soul)

And don't you make me beg for more

(must I beg you)

Give a sign, I need to know

A little bit of heart and soul

She caught Jamie leaning out with her mic stand, her guitar around her back, the tails of her scarves swishing back and forth over her indecently ripped jeans that showed more flesh than could or would be covered in denim. Jamie arched back and cried out all the savage emotions that were been boiling inside her.

Somehow, I lost my way

Looking to see something in your eyes

But love will never compromise

Now this is the politics of life, yeah!

Instead of picking up the pace she allowed the longing for something more to bleed into Addicted and prowled the stage. The fix, the addiction of the almost there emotions and limbo she'd been living in crawled out of her skin. She knew it was the exhaustion, the need for a break from the stage, from Richie, from the confusion, all of it was coalescing until she felt like she was drowning. The tears came out of nowhere and added a richness and thickness to the lyrics.

Their lighting guy framed her out in the unforgiving white of spotlights and she collapsed to her knees. Her chest heaved as the lights went out.

She got herself back together and climbed back to her feet. "So, tell me Portland, are you..." she drew it out, flipping her hair back and leaning hard on her mic stand and shading her eyes against the glaring lights as she saw the entire arena on their feet. Afraid that she'd lost them to the low key songs, she immediately got pumped that they simply went on the ride with them. "Tell me, are you ready to rock?!"

The rest of the show was a blur of high octane songs, Jamie was on fire. The sweat slicked down her back and she stripped down to a torn tank off her shoulder and the micro mini. She ran the length of the stage, dragging Ronnie up to the front with her, laughing when the joy of singing kicked in out of the emotional morass that started the show. Even Jamie was laughing by the end of the show.

"I just wanted to let you know that Portland completely rocks!" The crowd went ape shit and she laughed. "Well, hot damn, that's what I'm talkin' about!" Surprised at the strength of the reaction, she pumped her fist. "This is our last song--"

he shredding blues and a side of manipulated feedback pole axed her into stillness. The riff was undeniable, the style unmistakable. She whipped around to see Richie in full leather regalia. Black on black in tight leathers and tank, silver crosses and a pick in his mouth as he waved to the crowd and adjusted his guitar to give it another round.

He leaned against his sister, but his eyes were focused on hers and the riff blasted out one more time. He stalked toward her, the riff extended and he pummeled his wammy bar until he was sidled up to her mic stand.

Foxy, Foxy

You know you are a cute little heart breaker

Foxy yeah

And you know you are a sweet little love maker


I wanna take you home, yeah

I won't do you no harm

You've got to be all mine, all mine

ooh Foxy Lady

Foxy, Foxy

Richie's voice had been made for Hendrix. His rawness and powerhouse treatment of the lyrics ratcheted up the lust factor until she was pretty sure sweat wasn't the only reason she was dripping wet. She played up the fun factor of the song and swayed her hips to the gypsy soul of the song. Her smile was all fox when she molded herself to his back for a moment, undulating against the curve of his spankable ass, then back around to whisper, "foxy," into the mic.

Surprised at his boldness on her stage with this song, she decided that he'd pay for each riff, note, and reverberation of his guitar. She slithered around his back, sliding her hand between the guitar and his belt, instantly satisfied when his guitar twanged and he stiffened at her touch.

"Here I come baby, I'm comin' to get you," he sang as if on cue.

She laughed and slipped away from him to let Jamie in so they could duel it out with the solo. Back to back, long lean guitarist, to long lean guitarist, they wailed on their guitars. She took the opportunity to work the crowd even as they roared their approval of tonight's special guest to their set. Revved on lust and the unexpected punch of excitement, she taunted the crowd for more.

And as the song came to a close, it was the three of them at the mic, more laughter than grace at this point. And he stayed and helped out with their hit single, Since You Been Gone, surprisingly adept at the melody. He played rhythm guitar with ease, letting his sister shine. The crowd screamed her own words back to her and her life felt pretty fucking good. These were the shows that she lived for.

This is what she longed for, coveted, and searched for every night. And when Richie snuck away just before bows, she couldn't have loved him more. Damn that man. He let them soak in all the praise and the unabashedly vocal love from the crowd. Her sisters crowded in on her as they hugged each other, bowed, then howled with laughter as Ashley handspringed her way across the stage to do a tucked back flip then bounced off stage.

Steph did her final wave then rushed backstage. She snagged one of the roadies. "Where's Richie?" The kid just shrugged and rushed off to do whatever job he was supposed to be doing. Like ants, the techs and roadies covered the stage wearing black shirts and dark jeans. They broke Devotions's equipment down and pulled the cover off of Teek's drumkit. All of this was under the cover of low lights. The crowd was still rowdy from their set, the noise level high as it was time for bathroom and beer runs.

She pushed her way to the dressing rooms, smiling when she should, glad handing and kissing cheeks when she couldn't get out of the personal touch. What had he been thinking coming on that stage with her? Confused by his absense for the last few days, and then he just shows up to rile her up and leave her in the dust.



She caught a teased red tail and sparkles on a tailed jacket and pounced. "David!"

He turned with a smile. "Man, you were hot tonight!" He dragged her in and hugged her tight enough that she went up on her toes at his exhuberation.

"Well, then," she laughed and hugged him back. And he didn't let go. "Thanks, now put me down."

"Oh, right. Sorry, the boobage got me distracted."

She rolled her eyes. "Pig." He just rolled one sparkly shoulder. "Where's Richie?" Again he shrugged. "You are not helpful."

"I can be very helpful," he said with a leer.

"Not with what I want, man-whore. Go play with the handful of girls that are staring at us."

He sighed. "You don't know what you're missing, Lolly."

"Ugh," she said in disgust. Jon's nickname for her had caught on and now everyone called her that. Well, except for Richie. The remembered, Baby, of a few days ago fluttered in her chest like an echo. She'd never liked a guy to call her that before. But something about the gravelly way it rolled off his tongue made her go soft as caramel.

She wandered to all the spots that he could possibly hide, backstage, the showers, the changing room, the wardrobes...nothing.

Paul started clapping and shouting and she caught the sparkle of leather and fringe and a dimple flash as he waved at her and hit the stage. "Goddammit!" He'd known she was looking for him. What the hell game was he playing? She stalked off to the showers and drowned her buzzing head under a cool blast of water. Jamie was in the stall beside her.

"Can you fucking believe that show?"

Steph let the water pour over her neck for another minute then surfaced. "No, I can't. How the hell are we going to top that for tomorrow night?"

"Maybe a cover song meddley? You know, rip out some oldies? The Skids are going to be here. We can always convince Snake to come on stage with us."

Steph thought about it for a minute. Not that they would be able to outshine what was done tonight, but they could give it a good try. "Doc's not really in love with me right now to ask for extra time."

Jamie chugged the beer she'd brought with her into the shower. "I can get the slick bastard to give us time."

"If you can get the okay, we'll do it. Right now, I don't want to rock the boat."

"That's all right, I'm sure Jonny would let us."

Steph's eyebrow rose as she peered around the corner. "Oh really?" It wasn't the first time that Jamie had made a comment like that. "Just why would you be sure of that?"

"No reason." Jamie ducked back under her spray and suddenly her water shut off.

"What's going on with you?"

Jamie slammed back the last of the can and shot it into the garbage can littered with quite a few cans already. All Jamie's? Steph shook that thought off. Her best friend was more likely to down a pint of Jack than a six pack of beer. She wasn't sure what was more dangerous.

"Nothing's going on, I'm just restless. You know how I get," she shrugged. "I just need some exercise, or to get off the bus or something. Maybe I'll mog around tomorrow at one of the shopping centers. Akron sure knows how to get their shop on."

Itchy to get out off the bus and hotel merry-go-round she shut off her own shower and tugged a towel around her boobs. "I could go for a shop-a-thon if you want me to go with you."

"Yeah?" The first bloom of a real smile hit her best friend's face.

It made her realize that they really hadn't done anything like girlfriends in a good long time. The bus, the schedule, the hotels, the stolen time gave them little time to just hang out. She was either doing interviews, or they were being herded into photoshoots by Doc. She spent the majority of her time at radio stations or avoiding and alternately chasing Richie for the last few weeks.

"Yeah, why don't we go have a girl's day."

"No, Ashley!"

Steph laughed. "No, I could do without Taz for an afternoon too. We'll sick her on Ronnie. Or better yet, a boy at the afterparty."


Jamie padded off into the closet-sized room that all the girls had to share as a dressing room. She followed, picking out a pair of jeans from the overflowing wardrobe case. Halfway up her thighs, she realized they were Jamie's and kicked them off. "Are you trying to bunk space in my case, brat?"

"That's where they went!" Jamie snatched the jeans out of her hand. "I've been looking for these." She hopped into them, the flash of black lace bikini's and her best friend's prime ass wiggled into the jeans.

"I really hate you."

Jamie zipped them up and frowned at the missing button, then shrugged and left it open that little bit. The mini-cups that she called a bra dangled from her elbows as she reached for the catch and snapped the strap into place. "What'd I do?"

"You're all skinny and shit." She flipped out a pair of jeans from her case, this time they were definitely hers. At least two sizes bigger than Jamie's goddammit.

"Hey, I'd trade my stick insect body for your cuves in a hot second, pal." She nodded to Steph's pink bra. "Especially the boobs. It's just not right that you got the curves and the boobs."

"You've got the legs," she pouted.

"Both of you are gorgeous, so can you stop?" Ronnie called over as she zipped skinny jeans into a magenta pair of knee high boots. "We've got a room full of hot boys backstage ready to party and you're wasting time."

Steph slapped her hips and turned to the tiny mirror as she tugged down an oversized white tanktop that let her bra bleed through. She definitely needed new clothes. Shopping was definitely in order. "Okay, I'm ready."

"Finally," Ronnie said with an exasperated sigh.

"What are you worried about, you're with Mike." Steph fluffed her hair and cinched a heavy buckle at her hip.

"I'm not dead!"

She laughed and slicked on some gloss. She wasn't going to wait for Richie tonight. She was going to have fun and flirt her face off. "No, I'm not either." She hooked her arm throught Ronnie's and Jamie's. "We look hot, let's go kick ass."

"That's what I'm talkin' about!" Ronnie said and swung open the door.

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.