Chapter 117

Tessa held on for dear life as she ended up in the kitchen. “David! Now c’mon, you do see that I’m wearing like four inch heels here, right?”

He looked down. “And I’m still this much taller than you? No wonder Jonny likes you! You make him feel tall.”

Giggling, she nudged him. “Shut up.”

She caught Adam’s gaze and waved him and Nic forward. “David, meet my best friend, Nichole and her husband, Adam.”

Dave shoved a ziti noodle in his mouth with a grin and resumed filling his plate. “Pleasure. It’s nice to have some new blood at these things. We’re so incredibly boring.”

Nic’s dark eyebrow zinged up. “I highly doubt that.”

“No, seriously. We’re boring with a capital b. I’m sorry in advance because you might need some coffee to keep yourselves stimulated.”

Tessa didn’t believe a word coming out of his mouth, especially when his light blue eyes wouldn’t stop twinkling. “There’s no strip poker later is there?”

“That’s an awesome idea! I knew I was going to like you for more than those amazing legs I saw in the paper.” His face split into a wide, grooved grin. “No, seriously, we’re an all right bunch. I just wanted to get you alone to tell you, thanks.”

Tessa lifted a spoonful of pasta salad, halting mid-pour. “For what?” Honestly puzzled. She’d only met the man three minutes ago.

Nic popped an olive into her mouth. “Tess, if the famous musician wants to thank you, you just say you’re welcome.”

Adam snorted and filled his own plate with veggies and a hamburger. He lifted the top bun and sniffed. “Hell, is this Kobe beef?”

“Oh yeah, I need one of those too,” Dave said and snagged one off the tray. “Lottie outdoes herself every time we come to town. You just reap the benefits my friend, reap the benefits.” He squirted a healthy dose of ketchup and mustard on the burger. “Well, since you asked Tessa.” He looked up from his overflowing plate, “I can call you Tessa right?”

“Of course,” she said with a half laugh. How surreal.

“A happy Jonny makes my life easier. A happy Jon is still a perfectionist, but one who just might let me out of the studio every fourteen hours.”

“Not likely,” Jon said from the doorway.

“Damn,” Dave snapped his fingers. “I was afraid of that. Okay, I’m taking my first plate out before the vultures descend.”

Richie followed Jon into the kitchen. “Hi, beautiful,” he swooped down and lifted Tessa off her feet. “Lookin’ deelish, darlin’. You keep this up I’m going to have to fight Jon for you.”

Rolling her eyes she tugged on one of Richie’s dangling hair trinkets. “You couldn’t handle me, stud.”

Letting out a shout of laughter, Richie let his head fall back. “You know, that may be true, darlin’. That may be true. He always was the over achiever.”

Jon grabbed Richie by the shoulders and forcibly moved him over a step. “Is this guy botherin’ you?” he asked and slung his arm around her shoulders.

She laughed as his hand dangled lower until he could snag a fat grape tomato off her plate. Before he could get it, she snagged it with her teeth, nipping his fingers. “Get your own, mooch.”

Jon glanced at Nic, shaking his hand. “You didn’t mention that she doesn’t play well with others.”

“Nah, she just doesn’t share well,” Nic said with a sly grin. “Remember that, buddy.”

Jon laughed. “Well she told me!” He untangled himself from Tessa and grabbed a plate. Sliding behind Nic he said, “I don’t share either, Miss Protector. Don’t worry.”

Nic glanced back at him. “I sure hope not.”

He patted her shoulder. “I’m beyond that stupid shit. Besides, I had to worry about a black belt toting ex-wife. You think I’m stupid enough to let that woman loose on me if I fuck up?”

Nic relaxed visibly. Tessa gave a sigh of relief as her friend’s smile widened and she slowly eased into the crowd taking over the kitchen. Thankfully Nic and Adam had always been on the self-reliant side and introduced themselves to people.

Adam found a kindred spirit in David when they talked of theater. Nic had settled herself in front of the fireplace with Tico talking about art. Tessa found a corner of the couch in the living room with Jon smooshed in the middle between her and Richie.

Jon handed her another glass of Pinot. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”

He sat back and rested his glass on his belly. “Why yes, yes I am.”

She lifted the carelessly expensive crystal glass and tinged it against his. “I think you’re working your way there too, buddy.”

He let his head roll back, flicking a strand of hair at her jaw line, “Gonna take advantage of me?”

Laughing, she took a sip. “I just might.”

“Excellent!” He took another gulp of the golden liquid, his smile happily goofy.

She looked around the room. Half amazed and half comfortable at just how normal all of this was, she smirked.

“Uh oh, she’s smirking.” He elbowed Richie. “Dude, she’s smirking.”

“She’s picturing me naked,” Richie said with a sly grin. “It makes all the ladies smirk and blush baby.”

Jon shook his head. “Nah, she doesn’t want you naked. She’s picturing me naked.”

“What’s she got to picture that for? She’ll be getting you naked in less than an hour. The glory of that is over my friend. It’s all about the unknown.”

Richie’s sneaky laugh was answered with a bubbly one of her own. “I like him naked, thank you very much. The unknown comes in the…Um, never mind.” Blushing, she looked down at her empty glass. “Aww, I’m empty. How’d that happen?”

“Hey! Me too!” Jon said and held out his glass. “What are we going to do about that?”

Richie stood and took both of their glasses. “Since the dirty talk isn’t happening yet, I’ll go for refills. Maybe Tessa’s lips will be freer with another glass.”

“Nah, just give her a cell phone.”

“Jon!” Tessa gasped and smacked his arm.

“What? It’s true. There’s no secrets with this group, babe. Outside this group, no one knows Jack. Inside. Everything’s fair game.”

Nic waved from across the room. “I’m glad you said that.” She struggled to her feet. “Tessa is suspiciously silent with any details. Maybe if I get you drunk enough I’ll get them.” She started to sit on the couch next to Jon.

She looked at Jon’s sappy half-drunk face and leaped up. “Oh, no.” Tessa dragged her friend up. “You’re not going to encourage him.”
Jon pouted. “I wouldn’t give out any good details, least of all your prowess with the cell phone camera.”

Tessa leaned forward and slapped a hand over his mouth. “Shut up, Jon.”

“Cell phone camera?” Nic asked with wide dark eyes.

“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Nic. Never mind.”

“I oo,” he tugged her hand away. “I do too, know what I’m talking about. She’s a tease,” he laughed as her hand came back up over his lips. “Tease!” he said with a muffled buzz through her fingers.

She stood up again and pushed Nic onto the couch and pulled Jon up. “Trading spaces,” she gave Nic a look until she slumped back on the couch.

“You know, it’s just not fair that you won’t give up any details, dammit.”

Giving Nic a snort, she turned back to Jon. “Kitchen with you, sir.”

Jon’s fingers slipped around her waist and into the back of her sweater. “I’m not hungry for food anymore.”

Tessa blushed and pushed him into the kitchen. “Just how much of that wine have you had?” She took a deeper look and saw the glassy sheen of just a bit too much good cheer.

Jon shrugged and tugged at the hem of her sweater. Tessa looked around the room and gasped when his fingers slid up and flicked open the front catch of her bra with barely a thought. “Jon!”

“We’re alone.” His thumbs caressed under each breast, his fingertips molding gently around her back.

“Anyone could come-”

Jon cut her off and backed her into the pantry, kicking the door shut with his foot. “Problem solved,” he said and pushed her against the rack at the back of the dimly lit room. Lifting her sweater he nosed against her nipple until it peaked then sucked it into his mouth.

“There’s a household full of,” she gasped as his fingers slid low into the seam of her jeans and cupped her. “That’s not fair.”

“Not feeling fair right now,” he said and rubbed. “Just feeling hot and horny.”

“So I…” she groaned as the insistent pleasure increased. “Um, see.” Her body certainly didn’t give a good goddamn that there were a house full of people. But then again, when it came to Jon, she didn’t have a hell of a lot of control. Fortunately she had a situation that could do the controlling for her. “I can’t do this in the closet, Jon. It’s um…not a good time if you get my drift.” God, she hated when she had her period. How was it that a girl could feel so gross and so horny at the same time?

His blurry blue eyes met hers. “Damn, looks like the jeans stay on,” he said but didn’t stop the friction. “Guess I have to get creative.”

“You have guests,” she gasped.

“Well, technically we have guests, but that’s not the point here.” He pushed up the sweater again and circled her nipple with the tip of his tongue. “The point is, I have this need. It’s got your name on it.”

“I can take care of almost all of your needs a little later. I promise,” she said on a gasp as he blew gently on her tender nipple.

He laughed, and pushed sacks of flour and sugar out of the way so he could lift her onto the counter. He flipped the sweater over her head and opened the dangling cups of her bra. “Ah, there we are. Hello beautiful ladies,” he lifted her breasts, watching her face. “Ahh, sensitive right now?”

She groaned, “Yes.”

He lightly rubbed his thumbs back and forth over the tight tips and sipped along her neck, up behind her ear. “Still?” he asked as he nibbled.

Oh God, he wouldn’t. She gave a strangled cry as he found that spot, the spot he went for every time he wanted a good, hot, hard reaction. Her hips lifted as she rubbed against his thigh, then against the hard length behind his zipper. He hugged her closer, unbuttoning the casual cotton button down he wore until they were flesh to flesh, hair roughened chest to her smooth.

Friction slammed into an embarrassed ache and she hung on as the quick shudders blew through her. His lips latched onto hers, swallowing the whimpers of release as she sagged against him. She hugged him tight, her mouth directly to his ear. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Watching you get off is like a drug.”

She pressed her forehead into his chest, letting her fingers slip into his shirt, freeing the last two buttons. “It is?”

He nodded as he groaned and shifted away from her. “Sexy as hell, sobering even.”

Tessa lifted her eyes to his, saw the clarity starting to ease into flecks of blue and grey. She halted his retreat with a well placed fingertip into his belted jeans. “Where are you going?”

His grin widened. “Tit for tat?” he asked hopefully.

She hopped off the counter, letting her fingertip trail down the ridge through his jeans. “I see wine makes you greedy.”

“Hell yeah.”


Chapter 116

Jon bunched the tinfoil covering into a ball. Lotti had prepared a feast as always. A mixture of Italian and Americana littered the dining room table. Salads, hamburgers, ziti, sausage and peppers all steamed out of tin trays. 
He’d worried about overwhelming her with the houseful, but she was in her element, humming as she set out silverware, plates and cups. Bottles of wine and beer stocked the fridge and the bar was open.
David leaned against the doorway. “I smell goodies.” He moved inside and swept Lottie into a hug. “And you, the beautiful woman at the center of it!”
“Mr. David!” She hugged him back. “I know you and Mr. Richie always appreciate my cooking. You just make sure Mr. Hugh comes back along with that little bird you’ve been working with.”
Dave arched a brow. “Renz will be back, don’t you worry. She may look like a bird, but the girl eats!” 
He reached out a hand. “How you doin’ Jon?”
Jon tugged him in for a hug. “When’d you get in?”
“Just now,” he grinned. “The new girlfriend wasn’t too happy about it, but I’m free for a bit.”
He slapped him on the shoulder. “You should’ve brought her.”
“I’m not ready to set her free around you monkeys,” he said and walked over to the display of food. “Man, look at all this grub,” he rubbed his hands together then one over his belly. “I’m gonna need to do situps for a week.”
Jon pinched his side. “More than a week, tubbo.”
“I’m wounded,” he said and stuck out his nearly non existent stomach, rubbing. “I’ll have you know Lexi finds my Buddha belly very sexy. Too bad she’s such a good cook. I’m resigned to my fate of blissful fatness.”
Jon shook his head. Within three weeks of touring Davey always slimmed out, but every year he bitched about the weight. All of them were the same when it came to off-tour. Working out just didn’t hold a lot of appeal when you were on a break.
Jon slouched, letting his belt curve under a play belly. “Wine gut.”
David nodded. “Beer gut.”
“Both of you get your guts out of my kitchen until I call for you!” Lotti shooed.
Dave snagged a carrot from the veggie platter and at Jon’s laugh. “What? Now you got me feelin’ guilty. Like I’m a friggin’ pig, man.” He said in an exaggerated NJ accent. He chomped down, “So, do we get to meet this Tessa chick I’ve been seeing in all the papers? She’s smokin’ my friend.” 
“She and her friends will be here in a few minutes actually.”
“You’re gonna let her play with the big boys?” He popped the rest of the carrot in his mouth and chewed. “This I gotta see.”
“Shut up, Dave. Don’t scare her when she gets here.”
“I am highly offended,” His bushy eyebrows disappeared into his platinum curls. “Just what kind of monster do you think I am?”
He pushed him into the living room. “The annoying kind.”
“Hey you hear this? I’m annoying!” he said to the room at large.
Various murmurs of agreement came back.
“You’re just jealous of my comedic superiority!” Dave said and dropped onto one of the leather couches. “Hiya, Teek.”
Tico clamped him into a rough hug. “Hola mi amigo. How’s life treatin’ you kid?”
“Eh, you know how it is. Always fun with two households for the kids.” They chatted about babies and family as the house started to fill.
Jon flicked a glance at his watch. “Hey Rich, what time did you tell Tessa to come?”
“Didn’t give a time, bro.” His eyebrow quirked, “Worried?”
“No,” he looked down again,ten after eight. “Was she closing up?”
“Call her, asshole. I’m not her keeper.”
Jon flipped him off and dug for his phone. Swearing he noticed that he hadn’t turned his phone back on. “Shit,” he muttered and went into the next room. As the phone powered up, he winced when he saw the eleven text messages and three voicemails. 
“Hey you, all hell broke loose at the office. Nic, Adam and I will be there around eight. You know,” her voice said conversationally. “I’m not sure why, but there’s always some meltdown when I have plans. See you soon, love ya.”
Another round of people arrived, this time Hugh and his wife, Kellie. “Hey there,” Jon smiled warmly and hugged Kel first then his bassist. “What have you crazy newlyweds been doing?”
The door still was still open as they laughed over Hugh’s newest tale of car trauma. He got into more accidents than an eighty year old woman with cataracts. As he was closing the door, he felt resistance. 
“What we get an invite and now you won’t let us in?” Nic peeked her head around the door. She smiled, “Hiya, Jon.”
Opening the door wide, he grinned and pulled her in for a hug. “Hi Nic,” Looking over her smooth swing of dark hair, he reached out a hand to her husband. “Nice to see you again. Adam, right?”
Adam nodded, a smile firmly in place. “Nice to see you again too, Jon.”
He could see the reserved politeness in his eyes. Looks like Tessa’s friends were protective to the end. “Welcome to my home, make yourselves comfortable. There’s food and drink in the kitchen through there,” he pointed through the vestibule into the main part of the house. “I’d be happy to show you guys around later.”
Nic slid her hand through her husband’s stiff arm and smiled. “That’d be amazing, thanks.” Tugging, she got Adam moving. “C’mon, sweetheart, let’s see just how supersized his kitchen is.”
Adam looked back to Tessa who was standing in the doorway then down at Nic. “Alright, sure.”
Jon smiled, his eyes twinkling when he got to Tessa. Her usually smooth hair was fussed into curls that haloed around her head, teasing her jawline. Her green eyes were heavily lashed and that wide mouth painted a burgundy red to match her sweater. Slim fitting jeans hugged her hips ending in wicked heeled boots. He slid his palm around the back of her jeans, cupping her ass. “You look amazing.”
She skipped forward at his quick grab and gasped as his lips captured hers. He poured all the day’s frustrations into her, his body easing, his mind clearing as her tongue touched his. When he heard the soft purr in her throat he smiled against her mouth and pushed her a step back until her she was against the door. His thumb brushed along the underside of her chin and down to the scooped line of her sweater as the kiss intensified.

When her fingers gripped the loops of his jeans as she kissed him back, stroke for stroke he crowded in on her, lifting his head reluctantly. “Hi.” 

Her eyes were closed and her lips flattened together as if she was trying to hold onto the kiss. Leaning in again, he watched as her eyes fluttered open, the green was clear and bright just before she angled up to taste him again. Her arms wound around his neck as they both went under again. Kissing Tessa brought him to center. It could wreck him and heal him all in one taste.
He heard the click of heels and stepped away, to see Nic backing away from the hall back into the kitchen.
Tessa’s fingers slid along his shoulders and over his chest. “Is there a reason you kissed me into the next stratosphere?”
He nipped her lower lip. “Mistletoe,” he said and pointed up. 
Her eyes danced, “Damn, and here I thought it was just because it was me. How’d you greet Richie?”
Laughing he hooked his arm around her hips and walked her inside. “He didn’t get tongue.”
“Well, I’m just the lucky one,” she said and drilled a finger into his side.
“Absolutely,” laughing he led her into the parlor. “Hey guys, I’d like you to meet Tessa Donovan.”
The entire room turned at Jon’s voice. He felt her go still and rubbed his hand along her hip. “We’ll start with Hugh and Kellie,” he pointed and when they waved he moved on. “Tico is here without Alejandra, his wife. She’s home with baby Hector.”
Tico moved forward and shook her hand. “Nice to finally meet the woman that has our Jonny in a twist.” 
Tessa laughed, “Feeling’s mutually twisty.”
Tico grinned, popping a cigarette into his mouth.
Jon went from person to person, introducing Lorenza, Bobby and few other friends that crashed the party. Finally he turned to his keyboardist. “And here we have the annoying part of our introductions. This is David,” Jon said with a suffering sigh.
Dave stood, “He calls me annoying? He just doesn’t like to admit that I’m the personality of the group, he’s just the name.” He leaned down and brushed her cheek with a quick kiss, then palmed Jon’s face and pushed him away. Drawing her into a quick step, he pushed her into the kitchen. “Don’t listen to anything he says, you come with me for refreshment.”
Richie yelled from the living room. “Hey! I didn’t get a kiss!”
“Back off Sambora! You’ve already met her.”

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