12/29/2007

Chapter 99

Jon tried desperately to get his synapses firing again, but it was difficult when all brain power was let loose below the belt. Tessa had always been a knockout. In fact, her seemingly endless collection of boots and tight pants left him with more than one sleepless night, but this…

Copper shimmered from the thinnest of straps and bloomed out in a slim panel of gathered material that seemed to have been created for her body. It curved around her breast and left a whole lot more skin showing than he would have liked, but his currently bloodless head didn’t have a lot of say in things. Nor could he deny the innate power that had been infused within her as she smiled at him, knowing that she was killing him slowly.

She shifted and turned for him and his breath halted as her milky white skin glowed. From the natural sway of her unencumbered breast that looked as if it would flip out of its perfectly nestled cup to the silky shimmer of her shoulders in the same unearthly hue, it all begged for his touch.

The rest of the material hugged every curve as it skimmed down her flat tummy and dropped away from the gentle flare of her hips. The copper fell into a straight column of liquid darks and lights as she walked toward him.

It was then that he noticed the steep slit as a perfect thigh pierced the molten material and followed the trail down a shapely knee and calf, ending in four inch stilettos that matched the dress in every way.

His eyes traveled back up the staggering length of her and his eyes, body and blood heated at the plunging neckline that enhanced her perfectly shaped breasts just as she turned, showing off her back that was equally awe inspiring. The copper crisscrossed in a dizzying latticework of iridescent skin and stunningly elegant design. It dropped low on her back, hugging the heart shaped ass he couldn’t tear his eyes from.

“Sweet Fuck,” Jon said with a hoarse groan.

Tessa’s head swiveled as she looked over her shoulder. “Daria said it would kill you.”

Jon swallowed with a bit more difficulty than he’d like to admit and glanced at the woman standing next to Tessa. “I’ll take a standing appointment for every New Year’s Eve as long as you’re working for the spa.”

Le gave a demure smile. “Thank you, sir.” She bowed her head slightly. “Good-bye Tessa Donovan. Thank you for a most inspiring day. My job is worth all the work when I see a man such as Mr. Bon Jovi’s reaction to the end product. Enjoy your party.”

Tessa rushed after Le as she showed her to the door and Jon took a minute to recover. Part of him wanted his old Tessa. He didn’t want to share this goddess with the red carpet and a roomful of people he barely knew. He wanted to lock her in here and find out just how those ties opened along her back, or just how easy it would be to untuck her breasts from their gilded perch.

He closed his eyes as her slim hand rested on his shoulder, her nails curling through his hair at the base of his neck. “I’m not sure you should be touching me right now,” he said roughly.

Tessa slid her hand down his shoulder and curled around his waist and pressed herself along his back. “And why is that?”

Sucking back a groan at the press of her breasts on his back he forced himself to go very still. “You’re too lovely to touch.”

She scooted around him and laid a hand on his chest. “I’ll never be too anything for that to happen, let alone the lovely part." She held up a hand when he started to protest. Her hand smoothed over his t-shirt, "You make me feel lovely. You make me want to do all this ridiculous ritualistic stuff to make you proud.”

“None of that stuff matters to me, but believe me it's going to be all eyes on you tonight. I'll be second fiddle on the red carpet.”

She laughed, “Sweet talker.” She lifted her finger to his bottom lip and traced it. “I’m completely touchable. In fact, everything Le did to me today makes me even more touchable.”

She lifted his hand, uncurling his tightly fisted fingers and placed them on her shoulder. “She did something called polishing. I think she described it as scrubbing every last dry skin cell off of me. Whatever she did, it made me feel softer than I’ve ever felt.”

Jon closed his eyes as the supple glossiness of her skin made his entire body come to instant and complete alert. She drew his hand down to meet her fingers as she laced them together then coasted them both up the front of the dress.

“Daria said the dress was a perfect fit,” she brushed his knuckles along the tips of her breasts. “It feels like I’m wearing nothing," She smiled and let her voice drop lower, "At all.”


Jon leaned in, forgetting that she was all made up, but Tessa drew back and he went for her neck instead. Her scent was pears, as always, but there was a hint of something else…something spicy and exotic. The sleek line of her hair tickled his nose as he drew her in. Lost in her touch and her scent, he let his fingers linger along her back.

The tips of his fingers slid along the checkerboard of sinfully soft skin at her lower back and up into the cool cap of hair that sifted so perfectly around his hand, teasing his wrists. “You make me insane,” he murmured against her throat and sipped from her again.

She shivered once then both hands flattened against his chest. “We are never going to leave this hotel if you don’t stop that.”

He pulled back, smiling wide. “No way, we need to get out there and show people exactly how gorgeous my…” he hated to use the word girlfriend, but that’s pretty much what she was. The undeniable other half of himself just seemed so pale in comparison when you left the definition as girlfriend. "Other half," he finished with only a moment's hesitation.

He leaned in and kissed her every so lightly on the mouth. “I’ll be right back.” He gathered his suit and hung it on the door, unzipping the garment bag to let the steam ease out the wrinkles that had come with the drive. Needing the few minutes to get himself back together he lingered a little longer in the shower than he normally would.

He wasn’t worried about how Tessa would act in the public eye, but he was a little worried about how she would react to the public. Unforgiving and cruel were the paparazzi’s motto. He just hoped her first real foray into the world of celebrity didn’t turn her off.

~

Twenty minutes later Jon led her to the elevator with a sleek black jacket shielding her amazing body from the elements. It didn’t stop the onlookers from lingering on her ethereal skin and elegant neck as they made their way to the private car he had waiting for them.

He’d given his regular driver the night off after he’d dropped off Tessa. Henry was a family man when he wasn’t playing stoic bodyguard/driver. The man taking care of them tonight already knew their destination so the privacy guard screen stayed up through the drive.

He tucked her into the curve of his body, but the closer they got to their destination, the quieter she got. He tried not to say anything, knowing this was going to be difficult for her. Even in the best of circumstances it was tough to make that first step on paparazzi row. He’d contemplated taking her out into the city first, to dinner, to a show, a premier, but in the end it just seemed like it was just best to get it over with.

Maybe he was testing the waters. It was a shitty thought, but seriously he just wasn’t sure what he was getting into when it came to the public. He’d been pigeon holed as the perfect family man for so long that he wasn’t sure how the public would react with a new woman on his arm.

Her foot started to wiggle as they rounded the corner and got into the lineup of cars that were doing their dropoffs. He laid his hand on her knee. “Relax,” he said quietly.

She didn’t look at him, just out the window. “Easy for you to say.”

“It’s one aspect of my life that I find a necessary evil. I don’t need the constant barrage of paparazzi in my life, but there are certain times where I need to make an appearance.”

“I know,” she said quietly.

Jon turned in his seat to meet her gaze. “I’m used to doing these things on my own if it’s not for you.”

“I’ll get used to it,” she said absently.

Knowing it was silly to take anything from that, he relaxed back against the seat. He hadn’t even been aware he was holding in a few nerves of his own. He’d grown so used to Dorothea’s company line, as it were, that it was his spotlight, not hers. She’d been content, even adamant about staying in the background. He had to drag her to any and all functions, and she wasn’t shy about letting him know she was only doing it out of obligation.

Their turn came, and the door swung open. Jon stepped out first, then held his hand out for her. “Ready?”

12/08/2007

Chapter 98

Tessa twisted the watch on her wrist and swore. She had fifteen minutes to get down to her appointment. She patted her purse and found the keycard for the room on the table at the door and her schedule of spa services. She could say one thing for the staff at the Mandarin, they sure were efficient.

She left the rest of her things and read through her designated stops as she headed to the elevator. She reached for the down button and missed when she saw the six things listed for her.

Pitta Pacifier which included a slew of herbs and oils she didn’t even understand, but the word ‘pitta’ instantly left a smile. PITA came to mind immediately. She wondered if he did it on purpose, or it was just a coincidence.

Knowing Jon, it was probably on purpose. She continued to read as it described how this treatment was perfect for busy minds and the cooling, calming elements would sate the over-active mind.

The man knew her way too well.

The next part explained all the other things that her body would go through.

“What the hell?” she murmured to herself. She flipped the page as each paragraph went on to explain just how many ways they would glaze, buff and polish her. Do I need this much help?

She stepped back into the gilded elevator and pushed the correct floor button and skimmed through descriptions that probably took longer to read than it did to do. Sweet Christ, what the hell was skin brushing?

Tranquil soft blues and muted light met her as the doors opened. A young woman of Asian descent met her at the desk. “Welcome,” she said in a soft, cultured voice.

Tessa gave her a tight smile. “I have an appointment,” she began.

“Yes, Miss Donovan, I will be taking care of you.”

Her eyebrow rose. How the hell did they know her name?

“Mr. Bon Jovi took care of all your appointments and gave us a description.” Her serene face softened and her light brown eyes sparkled. “Your man loves you deeply. Let us show him just how rewarding a spa treatment can be for him as well as you.”

Her fingers relaxed their grip on her purse as nerves began to even out. The glint of teasing in the woman’s eyes was exactly what she needed. It was as if the woman knew that. “I’m in your capable hands…” she let her words trail off.

“My name is Le and we are going to enjoy the afternoon together.” She held an arm open in welcome. “We pride ourselves on bringing elegance and harmony together. But I think we will work mostly on harmony for you.”

“Hopeless case on the elegance, huh?” Tessa laughed.

“Quite the opposite,” she said with a smile. “Poise and elegance come naturally to you; it’s the inner harmony that we shall find today.” Le’s eyes met hers and the serenity that seemed to flow out of her put her at ease. “I see that harmony is important to you as well.”

”With a man like Jon in my life, what do you think?”

A twinkle surfaced. “I think you are very lucky.” She quickly schooled her features. “But a man like this will also be draining. You must learn how to shore up your strengths to find happiness.”

“If a day’s spa treatment gives me that, then sign me up.”

They both laughed as Le led her to a soft room, full of more tranquil colors and an underlying scent of jasmine. “I only have one request,” Tessa said.

“Yes?”

“Can I keep my scent among the ones you use?”

Le stepped closer and sniffed lightly. “Ahh, pears. It’s a good scent, strong and very much you. I agree. There will be other scents and oils that will enhance your signature fragrance, but I will keep the soft and fresh scent as your base.”

Tessa smiled and followed her down a corridor. Le opened a door and motioned to the robe in soft cotton and the terry slippers. “I’ll be right back.”

Forcing her fingers and her shoulders to relax she stripped and shrugged the robe on. Cotton wasn’t even close to what it was. A sort of micro fiber material that felt like cashmere hugged her body leaving her breathless. She hung up her clothes in the small closet that was like a high brow locker.

A discreet knock signaled Le’s return. “Miss Donovan?”

Tessa opened the door. “Since you and your people are going to have their hands all over me, I think Tessa is appropriate.”

“Well Miss Tessa, we’re going to start with a steam to open your pores and begin the path to harmony.”

Trying not to laugh out loud, Tessa followed her. It was hard to equate all the soft harmony with her rather stressed self, but she was willing to give it a go. Twenty minutes later she was thoroughly won over.

The steam room was diffused with soft light bouncing off the amber shells that made up the structure. It had taken awhile to get over the naked thing, but she had stretched out on a bench and finally got into the spirit of things.

From steaming she moved onto the massage and the deep tissue rub that went from hair to foot. She had to admit, the head massage was as close to nirvana as she’d ever experienced.

The facial, was a bit daunting, as was the goop, and polish that made up the rest of her experience. The body buff left her more aware of her own body than she’d ever been before. The oils left her feeling tingly and nearly buzzy with oversensitivity.

“The oils we used will make you a little more aware.”

“You think?”

Le laughed, “It’s nothing you should worry about. When we talked about your Jon and your evening, I knew this was the right thing. Every touch will accentuate the harmony between you.”

“Sister, we don’t need any help there.”

Le smiled a secret smile that made her nervous. “Most assuredly, Tessa, everyone needs a little help there.” She handed her a tin. “Use this tonight. When you told me about your dress, I knew this would be my gift to you.”

Tessa opened it and the shimmery power tightened all her relaxed muscles in anticipation. It would make her skin glow even more than it did now. She was going to kill Jon.

“Now, the last thing I’m going to do is your make-up.”

Surprised, she looked up. “I didn’t know that was part of the package.”

“It’s not, but it is my specialty.” She led her to a chair off in a small room. “The spa doesn’t offer these services, but it’s a special night and I want to.”

Tessa hopped into the chair. “Hey, I’m game. I trust you at this point.”

Le’s light eyes warmed with pleasure. “We will make every woman envy you tonight.”

Laughing, she tucked her purse under the table. “I don’t think envy has any place with harmony, Le.”

Her pink glossed lips peeled back in a smile that had nothing to do with serenity. “Harmony’s over, girlfriend. I’m going to make that man eat his tongue.”

“Oh yeah,” Tessa said and swung the chair around to the mirror.

Le turned her back around. “Surprise.”

She sighed. “Alright, alright. All the other surprises were pretty damn wonderful. We only have half an hour, so do what you can.”

She was quiet as she softly penciled, brushed, stroked and patted with the series of pots and arsenal of cosmetics. Would she knock Jon’s socks off tonight? She’d chosen the strappy dress and…hell, she needed help with that. “When do you get off tonight, Le?”

“You are my last client. We are closing early for the holiday.”

“I hate to impose, but do you think you could help me with my dress? I was going to have my best friend help me, but then Jon sprung this Spa thing on me.”

Le’s eyes sparkled. “I would love to.”

She mentally told herself to write a letter to her superiors. This woman knew exactly what to do to keep her calm and was going above and beyond in service. Just maybe she would make it through her evening. God help her on that damn red carpet.

Finally Le stood back and gave a firm nod. “Perfect.” She spun the chair with a satisfied smirk. “What do you think?”

“Holy-“ Tessa stared at herself in the mirror. Her last regular treatment had been hair, and even that had shocked her, but together? Jesus. Her hair was cut back into her new style, though this salon boasted a better interpretation. The bob was nearly severe, as the fall of her hair had been blown and polished until it the sheen of silk could do nothing but fall exactly where Colleen had put it. A bare inch below her chin it framed her face.

Whatever magic that was in Le’s capable hands showed. Her eyes shimmered with dark browns, coppery highlights and smudgy eye-liner. Her lashes even looked longer as she’d tipped them with the same shimmering powder she’d tucked into her purse.

Her lips were a few shades darker than her natural state. Le handed her a lipstick. “Here you go, this is all you should need.”

“Can I take you home with me?”

Le laughed. “You look amazing, but I had excellent bones to work with.” She unsnapped the small cape she’d put on. “Let’s go get that dress on.”

They chit chatted in the elevator about the party she was going to. Even Le couldn’t believe the fact that her first time on Jon’s arm was going to be at Elton John’s party. “You know, my sister works for the salon that he goes into when he’s here in New York.”

Tessa leaned in. “He really is a Diva, right?”

Le looked down. “We are not permitted to talk of customers.”

She winced. God, she looked like a gossipy little tart. “I’m sorry, Le.”

Le laughed, “More like a Prima Donna.”

She giggled with her and they chattered their way to the room. When she kept going toward the end of the floor Le’s eyes got very wide. “I have to tell you, I secretly love this room.”

“No secret for me darlin’. I love this room!” She unlocked the room and pushed the door open. Full dark had come while she’d wiled her day away in the spa. The skyline was even more beautiful with the lights of the harbor and the city vying for attention.

Her cell phone buzzed on the table. Snatching it up she smiled at the name, Frank, on the face. “Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey babe,” his voice was a little tinny.

“Where are you?”

Lincoln Tunnel. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”

Shit! Twenty minutes? She looked at her watch and swore, then dug it out of her jeans. “You’re early.”

“Thought I’d help you with your zippers.”

“No way, I’m coiffed to the nth power. No way are you touching me until we get to the party.”

“Awww c’mon.”

“You can do whatever you want to me after the red carpet.”

“Anything?” his voice warmed.

“Anything.”

His voice started to crackle. “Okay I’m going to lose my signal, I’ll see you in a bit. Lov-“ and he was gone.

“Love you too,” she said to the dead phone.

“Okay we gotta hurry.”

“Well, let’s see the dress.”

Fifteen minutes later she was poured into the dress and Le was armed with her fluffy brush again. She sprinkled a liberal dose of her dust down the front of her.

“Do you think I need this much?”

Le smirked, and her eyes widened at the knock on the door. “He’s here now?”

“Looks like it’s your lucky day, Le, you get to meet Jon.” And she grinned as the serene, unruffled woman started fluttering and mumbling in Japanese. She knew exactly how she felt.

The door opened and Jon hung up his travel bag in the closet. “Hey babe, I hope you’re done wit-“ he came to a dead stop when he got a look at her.

“Jon this is, Le. She’s my miracle worker.”

Le vibrated next to her as her head bowed low. “Nice to meet you Mr. Bon Jovi.”

“Wha?” Jon blinked, looked at Le then back at Tessa, then back at Le. “Um…Hi.”

Tessa’s grin broadened.

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