Tessa followed Jon out of the suite. She turned back one more time to remember just where her life had changed so drastically. The soft carpeting in the living room that she’d started the seduction to the slice of bedroom that was still visible. So much had happened in such a short time.
She didn’t want to leave and she sure as hell didn’t want to face the reality that was waiting for her back in Jersey. The store would take up a lot of her time with
Jon hefted his bag and cradled his cell to his ear speaking a little louder than normal as he finally located Richie. He was halfway down the hall before he realized she was still at the door. “Everything okay? Did you forget something?” he called back to her.
Fighting back the urge to crawl back into their nest, Tessa let the door shut. Hoping her smile was bright enough to fool him she quickly caught up. “Nope, I’ve got everything.”
“Okay, so you’re at the place on fifth and Broadway. Got it, we’ll see you in twenty minutes. Don’t make me come in there and drag you out.”
Tessa could hear the tinny response but couldn’t make out the words.
“No, Tessa’s not coming in to get you. You’ll confuse her with music and she’ll stay, then I’ll have to drag both of you outta there.”
She laughed. He was right. Even now, the thought of Richie playing solo, or jamming with the many studio session musicians that lined music row had her itching for a show.
Jon looked down at her face and grinned as he clicked the cell shut. “I think your eyes twinkled more for that than getting me naked.”
A surprised laugh choked her. “They did not.”
He dragged her in, wrapping his arm around her neck giving her smacking kiss on the cheek. “I think you’re lying.”
Tessa pressed her lips together. “C’mon from a fan point of view just the thought of you guys playing in a little bar with all that intimacy? Oh man, dreams are made of that.”
He looked down at her with that half grin that made her stupid. She tipped her head up and was rewarded with a soft kiss. She sighed regretfully, “Okay, let’s go get your partner in crime.”
Jon tucked his hand into the pocket of her jeans, keeping her close. “Just what have you heard?”
She bumped him with her bag. “Nothing nearly as exciting as the true stories. I can’t wait to get Richie drunk enough to spill his guts.”
“Lyrics don’t lie darlin’. Some things will go to the grave.”
Jon laughed and dragged her into the elevator. By the time they reached the lower level, Henry was waiting for them in the lobby. She and Jon loaded their own bags in the back. “You know it’s ridiculous that you drive around in this thing.”
She grabbed onto the strap and hauled herself inside, but not before Jon patted her butt on the way in. She simply raised a brow and he grinned back at her. “It’s far less conspicuous than a limo.”
She slid across the plush leather seat. “I don’t know about that, a huge black Escalade isn’t exactly low key.” She settled against Jon, unwilling to let the last few moments of their alone time be wasted. She crossed her leg over his and snuggled in.
Jon rested his arm across her shoulders and let his hand dangle over her breast.
“Don’t even think about it,” she said as his fingertips brushed her nipple.
“What?” he said innocently.
She dropped her hand to his stomach and pressed her nose into his neck, drawing in his scent. “Bye bubble world,” she said as they pulled away.
“Doesn’t have to change when we go home you know.”
“It will,” she said, her voice a little sad.
Jon knew it would as well. Real life, kids and his demanding career would pull at them almost as soon as they touched down in Jersey. Without saying another thing he kissed her temple and they rode the rest of the way in silence.
Broadway was already busy with those traveling, mix that with the commuters and the foot traffic that was such a big part of downtown Nashville they crawled their way to the bar. They finally pulled up to the Orchid Lounge with its big neon lettering and sprawling purple flower.
Tessa sat up. “Pretty much a beacon to Richie, huh?”
“Huh?” Jon said absently looking around for his notoriously late friend.
“The big honkin’ purple neon lights.”
Jon gave a half laugh, “Doesn’t take long for you to figure out a person.” With a resigned sigh he leaned forward. “Do a circuit, Henry. We’re going to go in and drag out Rich.”
Surprised, Tessa grabbed her purse. “We are?”
“Yeah, Richie’s not real good at looking at his watch.” He slid his hand up her denim clad thigh and back down then lifted her leg by the knee to untangle them. “Let’s see if we can find him.”
Henry pulled over and Jon stepped out of the SUV, turning to help her down. He clasped her hand, linking their fingers before they headed into the bar.
Happy hour was in full swing and the bar area was packed. Pushing through the sea of people she heard small murmurs and startled gasps.
“Is that? Noo…Is that Bon Jovi?”
“Jon Bon Jovi?” the questions grew louder and the murmurs more insistent. His pace increased and he kept his head down as they made it out the other end of the crowd. All she could see was the soft hair at his nape, curling out of the collar of his deep blue corduroy shirt. His fingers stayed clasped with hers. People didn’t stop him, which surprised her.
Perhaps they didn’t believe it was him she thought distantly. She realized that she was lagging back and skipped forward to keep their finger hold. She came up beside him and saw a distance in his eyes. She frowned and pulled him closer. “What is it?”
He gave her a half smile. “Nothing. Everything’s fine.”
The smile didn’t reach his eyes and it left her unsettled. She glanced around, surprised to see a few tables were empty. He snagged a seat for her to the left of the small stage. He brought his hand up and cupped her jaw, his fingertips flicked over the ends of her hair just before he stood. “I’ll be right back,” he said and left her, blending into the crowd.
The house lights flickered and she relaxed content to people watch. A few moments later the lights went dim and a familiar strumming filled the room. She didn’t know the song, but knew the style from countless bootlegs and concerts. Sure enough, she looked up on stage and there was Richie, settled in with a battered guitar and blissfully closed eyes. She watched as he played for the pure joy of the music.
The band started up a slow, smoky heart-wrenching ballad with a female crooner. She stood in the muted light her voice sweet and pure as she sang of love lost. Sad songs were a staple of the country genre and all that emotion never ceased to amaze her. How could you not love a sad song?
A waitress buzzed her way through and Tessa snagged her. “Can I have a glass of your house Pinot, please?” She nodded and shimmied her way through to the bar, returning within moments. Tessa traded cash for the adult beverage and let the music wash over her.