Jon pressed his fingers into his eye sockets and thought cheerfully of plucking them out and putting them in the glass of water at his elbow. Blurry with fatigue, he glanced at his watch and swore. Working until three in the morning wasn’t unusual for them, but he’d missed the opportunity to call Tessa before she went to bed.
“Shit,” he said on a sigh.
“What now?” Richie groaned. He’d gone over the lyrics another six times and couldn’t get the bridge quite right. It was almost there, but something nagged in the back of his brain. He had something, just couldn’t get to it.
“Nothing. Not about the song,” he finished lamely.
Richie let the guitar lie across his lap, eager to talk about anything but the damn song. “Did you miss a check in?” He asked with just enough needling to get the reaction he was looking for.
Jon shot a blurry glare his way, but knew it wasn’t even close to being effective. “I don’t need to check in; I just wanted to say goodnight is all.”
He grinned, “So call her.”
“Richie, it’s three in the fucking morning.”
“Normal people are in bed. Hell, even we are usually in bed most of the time.”
“Speak for yourself old man.”
“Quit calling me that.” He rubbed his eyes again.
Richie slapped him on the back. “You just don’t like me saying it because you’re feelin’ it buddy. Ooooooold!”
“If you call me old because I want to be curled in bed with a beautiful woman instead of your ugly mug, then yeah, I’m old.” It smarted though. He did feel old.
Once upon a time he’d have been in the studio until three or four get two hours of sleep and be at work without a blink. It was getting so he needed a good five hours to function without growling at his staff. The guys were used to his bitchy moods and ignored him for the most part.
“Well, I can’t fault you there, as long as you wouldn’t be sleeping.”
Jon laughed, remembering the little over two hours he’d managed the other night. God, had it just been the other night? He rubbed his chest at the thought and picked up the water downing it and going for a return trip to the cooler. He filled his cup and finished that off before refilling and dropping back into the leather chair at the console.
He spun his cell phone and stared at the digital readout on the faceplate. “3:23, he said out loud.”
“Just call her so we can finish this up will you?”
Jon frowned at him. What the hell was that supposed to mean?
“Don’t play stupid, it’s annoying.” Richie gave a big sigh. “Last time we were in a funk you called her and you were fine. Just do it and get it over with. At least this muse has breasts. She does have tits, right?”
Jon smirked. “Oh yeah,” he said remembering a whipped cream slathered nipple. He picked up the phone. “I’ll just be five minutes.”
Richie let his head drop back as he swayed back and forth in the spinning chair. “Yeah, yeah…wake me up when you’re done.”
Jon would have laughed if it weren’t true. Richie could sleep anywhere. Jon took the phone into the singing booth and settled onto the small stool. He curled his fingers into the palm of his hand once, and then dialed.
The phone rang and he heard the muffled clatter of her fumbling with the phone. “Hello?” Her voice was low and raspy with sleep.
“Hey,” he said quietly.
Tessa snuffed and smiled, resting her phone beneath her cheek on the pillow. “I thought you forgot about me,” she said sleepily.
God, he wished he could sometimes. It was damn inconvenient to have her on his mind so much. “No, we just got really involved. I’m sorry I’m calling so late, but I wanted to say goodnight.”
“I’m glad, that means I can put my phone on the charger.”
He laughed. She really was asleep as she was talking to him. “What are you wearing?”
Her sleepy moan was ripe with humor now. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“I really would.”
“Nothing…” she paused and started to wake up a little.
Jon’s breathing slowed. “Nothing?”
“But a Soul T-shirt.”
He blew out a breath. “Even sleeping, you’re a tease.”
She laughed and shifted into her pillows, cradling the phone closer. “I only sleep naked when it’s hot or there’s someone hot in my bed.”
“Yup, too bad I have neither going for me right now.”
“I hope to be back in NJ by Thursday night.”
“Two whole days?” she said on a near whine.
“I know, babe I was hoping to get in earlier, but I’ve got a meeting on Thursday before I leave.”
Tessa sucked it back and forced herself not to complain. He was a busy man and his schedule wasn’t like a regular job. She glanced at her clock. Not even close to a regular schedule.
“You still there?”
“Yes, just wish you were here,” she confessed.
“Believe me I do too. In fact, Richie told me to call you so we could get back to work.”
She sat up and gathered her knees to her chest and wrapped the blanket around herself.
He heard the shuffling of her moving around. “What are you doing over there?”
“Substituting a blanket for you,” she said simply. “You’re still working?”
He smiled into the phone. He could picture all that copper hair fluffed around her face peeking out of a blanket. “Yeah, we managed to get one song completely done and now we’re working on the other one that had me beating my head against the wall earlier. We’ll finish it tonight if it kills me or Richie…or Richie kills me.”
She tucked her chin into her knees, laughing softly. “What’s it about?”
He paused, he wasn’t one to share his work with anyone until there was at least a semi-finished demo. “Kind of a lonely hearts song, smoky and bluesy with this piece that Richie put together that could drag even the most heartless person into the song.”
“Well, you’re not really lonely right now…Maybe-“ she cut herself off. What the hell right did she have to even open her mouth?
“What? Tell me.” It was new to share a song with someone he was sleeping with. His wife hadn’t cared for his blend of music preferring the slightly off center Costello sound. While he appreciated the music it wasn’t what was in his gut when he wrote.
He loved stories and he loved tapping into emotions whether they were good or bad. She’d pretended to enjoy them, even attempted to be interested but in her heart it hadn’t been there.
She looped her arm around her knees and pressed her cheek into her knees. “What about longing instead? It’s a close emotion and sometimes when I hear Richie’s guitar all I can think about is an ache. He can make that guitar just rip your guts out, throw in that croon that you do so well and…well this girl would pant.”
He laughed. “Pant?”
“Oh yeah, that This Left Feels Right Borgata thing had me…” she stopped. Way too much sharing there.
“Were you there?”
“Oh yeah, I dragged Nic with me and we really enjoyed it.” She felt weird talking about her fandom with him now that she knew him. “When you close your eyes and just go somewhere else it just wrecks me.”
“So…Longing, huh? And you like the croon,” he said amused. Fans were something he dealt with on a daily basis, but it wasn’t often that he took the time to really understand the hows and the whys of their love for the band and the music. He was pleased that they did, but for the most part he wrote for himself not the fans.
“I love the croon.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that,” she said easily. “Come home soon.”
“I’m definitely working on that.” He glanced at his watch and swore. Richie would be snoring if he didn’t wrap it up. “Hey…”
“You have to go.”
“If I want to get out of the studio before daybreak, then yes.”
She had a feeling she’d be seeing daybreak herself. “Thanks for the call.”
“Sorry it was so late.”
“Hey I got a call, for a girl that’s all that matters.”
“I’d have preferred the three am booty call.”
“Me too,” she laughed. “Good night.”
Jon groaned. “Good night.”