Chapter 1-3


Jon Bon Jovi slowed to a stop at the light. He dug his fingertips into his eyes trying to rub the grit from his eyes. He hadn’t been home in days, but the familiar surroundings of home eased the tension that had been riding his shoulders for the last week.
He glanced around the small shops dotting the business district smiling faintly at the over the top decorations that adorned the store fronts. Between the cheerfully strung lights on the trees that lined the streets to the additional Christmas trees decked out in nearly every shop window, there was little doubt that holiday season was on its way. Red Bank never did anything small.
His eyebrow rose when he caught the new store on the corner.  He’d vaguely noticed it being built over the summer, but hadn’t really paid attention with his grueling tour schedule.  It was rare to have anything new in the area. People had a habit of staying where they were planted in NJ. 
A woman was perched on a ladder, tucking a wreath at the end of the fat gilded letters that made up the name, Chapters. It was a perfect ledge settled over the double doors of the brand spanking new building.  Bright hair the color of copper whipped around her face. With impatient fingers she pushed a lock behind her ear as she fussed with the lights and the bows until she was satisfied.
Without thought his eyes drifted over her figure. Slim back and small stature, knee high black boots wrapped around leggings were certainly intriguing, but the best parts were hidden behind a bulky sweater.
The blast of a horn put an end to his perusal.  He held his hand up to the rightfully impatient driver behind him and glanced one more time at the woman and the name of the store.  “Chapters,” he said trying out the name.    
He made the turn onto Navasink and promptly forgot about the woman and the store intent on getting home.  He just wanted to see his kids.  Jakey would drag him out of the funk and Romeo would enjoy pounding on him.  His two older kids would give him all of five minutes before they were back to their electronic worlds of a pre-teen and teen. 
Driving down the familiar river road instantly dislodged the rest of the tension from his shoulders.  He was glad Dot let him have the kids this weekend.  He could sure use that sponge soak of kid love right now.
Dorothea had moved out on him just after the holidays last year and the divorce had finalized over the summer, though the marriage had been over long before that.  He punched the button to open the main gate with a little more force than necessary.
Funny he hadn’t wanted to believe it.  Living apart more than they were together had finally been too much on her.  And if he was honest with himself, he kept finding more and more projects to keep him from coming home.  That wasn’t fair to anyone, let alone his kids.
Parking his Beemer, he grabbed his duffel bag and made his way to the front door.
The clamor of kids, dog and his staff was a welcome balm. 
Jake ran at him full steam and nearly took him out at the knees. A teetering Romeo was close behind.  He bent down and drew them close with a laugh. Johnson and Johnson with a side of peanut butter made up the perfect little boy scent that reminded him of the shitty parts to his job. These were the things that he missed. Little things to some, but it was priceless to him.
"Hey guys," he said and scooped up Romeo.
            Jake monkeyed his way up his arm and Jon flipped him over his other shoulder. "What did Lotti make for dinner?"
            The chattering of a two and four year old trying to describe the casserole his cook had put together was exactly what he’d been looking for.
He was home.


Tessa Donovan stomped her cold feet and flicked the little bell over the door pleasure tipping up the corners of her mouth. She straightened the pretty burgundy velour bow, fluffing the wire so it was nice and full.  Pine cones and holly berries were bunched with a sprig of real pine tree to give off the scent of Christmas.
She fussed with the table top tree in the window and the winding mass of fake snow that covered twinkling white lights. She dug into the box she’d hidden behind one of the comfy chairs and refilled the piles of books strategically littered in with trinket gifts for the reader.  The effect was Hallmark on crack, but she liked it anyway. Christmas was her favorite holiday.
Chapters had been a long standing dream of hers.  She’d worked in some of the largest bookstores in New York City and had run them well, but she’d always wanted a shop of her own.  One that wasn’t all commercial sales and sterile cutouts that matched. She wanted to make her own decisions on what she’d carry and not live by the corporate decisions of big business. 
Walking through the store, she absently rearranged displays and shuffled misplaced items back into their correct spots.  She knew where everything went in her store from the bookmarks to the bookplates and all the novels in between. 
She’s put it together after all.  She had some help of course.  Behind the rich mahogany desk her assistant manager, Nichole, ruled with a brash laugh and cut-throat orders.  She didn’t know what she would have done without her. 
Nic wrestled her back when the intense, obsessive side of her went haywire.  She’d dreamed of this place for so long that she could get a little nuts when it came to how it was run, but it was nice to know someone else was just as invested in her dream.
She adjusted the oversized sweater on her shoulders and tucked her strawberry colored hair back from her eyes.  The sweep of bangs and shoulder length style was new for her.  She’d wanted to start over fresh and cutting off her waist length hair had been the perfect way to finalize that.
She’d always had it up in a librarian bun anyway. She caught her reflection in the mirror and let the long layers of the bob fall forward to touch her clavicle.  She ran her hands over the stacked layers in the back still amazed that she’d actually cut it off. 
“Admiring yourself?” Adam asked.
Tessa flushed. “The haircut still feels weird.”
Adam stood behind her in the mirror.  “How many times have we told you to cut it?”
She studied Adam’s patrician profile with his high forehead and dark hair pushed away from his arresting face.  Intelligent blue eyes met her green.  “Yeah, Yeah. Do you know how many times Nic has rubbed that in?”
Adam hooked an arm around her shoulders and squeezed her close.  “Well, she does love a good I told you so.”
She wrapped her arm around his waist.  “That she does.”
“Hey! Get your hands off my husband. Go get your own,” Nic yelled from the register. 
Tessa laughed. “I’m heading into my office to finish up some paperwork. Can you hold down the-”
Nic cut her off. “Go! Geeze, it’s not like we’ve got the new Harry Potter coming out today. We’re fine.”
She rolled her eyes and walked up the plush carpeted steps to her office. The rich mahogany theme was duplicated in her small office.  The shelves were crammed with advance reader copies or ARC’s and binders that kept her little world in check.
She shut the door and tapped her Ipod to life.  The grumbling vocals of Bon Jovi blasted out of her speakers.  Soundproofing this room had been well worth the added expense.  Sometimes she just wanted alone time with her music.
Her girlfriend had sent her a live bootleg from one of her favorite shows from the These Days tour.  The driving rhythm of Hey God was exactly what she needed after a long day.
She leaned back in her chair for a moment, letting the music wash over her.  When she heard the lead singer halt in the middle of the show and his whispery Jersey voice started talking about the world in general she closed her eyes.  Any man with that kind of passion should be illegal.
She swallowed when she heard the slam of the tambourine and the pulsing drums. “Hello,” she whispered and sat up straight in her chair.  “That wasn’t right,” she muttered and switched her computer monitor on to bring her system out of hibernation.
She blew her bangs out of her eyes.  That song had brought her out of hibernation that was for sure. 


Jon kissed his daughter on the forehead, smiling when she curled into him for a hug.  The divorce had been hard on all of them, but his daughter most of all.  She needed her mother more than she needed him and he knew she felt guilty about that. 
Dot had purchased a house in the next town over so he could see the kids whenever he wanted, but his work schedule made location a moot point. The only thing he could do was make the most of the time he had with them.
This weekend meant more to him than any of the kids could know.  “Night, sweetheart, don’t stay up too late on the computer okay?”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s not a school night, Dad.”
“You need your beauty sleep or you’ll end up with bags like your old man.”
She pressed a kiss to his cheek. “If you say so.”
He watched her walk away. She looked so much like her mother it was like taking a trip in a time machine.  God, he and Dot been so young when they’d gotten together.  He’d been stupid in love with her too.  How he’d lost that feeling he just didn’t know.  Hell, he didn’t even know when it had started happening.
He padded down the hallway to the nursery and looked in on Romeo. Dead to the world on his stomach with his butt high in the air. Not even sleep could calm him down. He brushed a hand over the downy soft cap of hair, tucking the blanket around his shoulders and quietly left the room. 
He knocked on Jesse’s door blinking when he opened the door and the latest alternative band screamed out of the speakers. “Jesus, Jess.”
Jesse turned from his wide screen computer screen where a car speeded along at an unnatural rate.  “Huh?”  The roaring of the engines died as he hit pause.
“Loud enough?”
            Jesse laughed and snagged his remote to turn down the volume.  “You should talk.”
Jon winced.  God, was he one of those parents now? Shit.  “There’s loud then there’s loud. You can’t hear the words when you have the decibels up that high.”
Jesse shrugged. “I know the words.”
He sighed.  His son was on his way into the teenage years, so he had to just thank God he still spoke to his old man.  And he had to fight his battles. This was not one of them, not even close.  “Don’t stay up too late, huh?”
With an easy grin he bobbed his head.  “Sure Dad, just one more game.”
Jon reached over and ruffled his hair. “Night kiddo.”  The game and the music were back on before he hit the door. 
He spotted his own door at the end of the hallway, wanted desperately to fall on his face in his own bed, but made one last detour.  Jakey lay curled with his blanket tucked firmly under his body and a sheet wrapped around the rest of him.
Laughing to himself, he tugged and adjusted until his boy looked comfortable.  He pushed the stubborn lock of hair that fell into eyes, so very much like his own.  He loved all his kids equally, but Jake held a special place in his heart.  He was the only one that he’d actually been around to watch grow from infant to toddler. 
He sat on the bed and rubbed his back when he stirred.  A small arm banded around his denim clad thigh as Jake huffed.  “Stay, Daddy,” came a small voice. 
“Hey, Jakey, you’re supposed to be sleeping.”
He yawned hugely. “Not tired.”
“You’re not huh?”
“Mmm-hmm,” came his sleepy reply.  “Stay until I fall asleep.”
Jon stretched out on the bed unable to deny such a simple request. Jakey curled into him so trustingly.  His warm body smelled of his bath and freshly laundered cotton and his breath even out almost immediately. 
It had been a long time since he’d been able to cuddle up with anyone, let alone his son.  He stroked his still damp hair, one arm propped on the wooden frame of the lower bunk bed.
Footballs and helmets dotted the sheets making him smile.  Jake liked to watch football with him every chance they got.  Sundays were for them during the season.  The kid was as obsessed as he was.  He put his head down next to Jakey’s. All he needed was one minute to relax before he went back to his laptop.  He had a shit ton of work waiting for him.
He was asleep as quickly as his son.


Peg said...

Awesome!!! Thanks for sharing Tara. The sight looks great!!

edgebag said...

I'm liking it so far, Tara! If you haven't already, you can check mine out... it's called "Backstage Pass". It's here on blogspot as well (jbjfanfic). Keep up the good work!

amy jane said...

well done tara! i really enjoyed it. i liked the kids being in it. i think that all of ya'll putting these stories out there for all off us to read is awesome! you definately have more guts than i do! can't wait to see what happens next!

yoopergirl said...

wow tara!! is the nothing that you can't do??? love the first chapter, can't wait to see more!!

Tara Leigh said...

Wow....I really wasn't expecting this many responses already. LOL
I figured I'd be posting in vain for a bit until people found me. Thanks so much guys. I really appreciate the feedback. I'm posting another chapter tonight.

Feel free to give me your links for your stories and I'll put them up here for you!

jonluva said...

well I finally got started on your story, been crazy busy here! I only got through ch 1 since it's 12:45am here... but I'm definitely coming back tomorrow! I can tell that you are a really talented writer, so I'm sure this is going to be a good one!!!

Starr said...

Okay Tara 3 chapters down 80 to go! Lol! Even though I read many of these so long ago, I am re-reading to refresh.

Love your style you know you are da bomb! ;)

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