The start of the story can be found here and it can be navigated by using the menu to the right or by selecting newer post or older post at the bottom of each chapter. It may not be updated with quite the frequency of Edge of a Broken Heart but I will do my best to post at least once a fortnight.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Due to some unforeseen circumstances in my personal life I’m afraid my blogs won’t updated with the regularity they have been up until this point. Please be assured that Frankie and Alex haven’t been forgotten, I will continue to plot and plan for both of them and I hope to see some regularity return in the next few months. In the mean time, anything you can send me for inspiration would be greatly appreciated. Sorry to keep you all waiting and thank you for your patience. Please keep checking back...I’ll post as I can.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
He laid along the length of her soft body, suspending his weight on his elbows as he lost himself to the pleasures of her mouth. He moved one hand to the pliable perky mound that was her breast and plucked enticingly at her nipple causing the surrounding flesh to pucker and a soft moan to escape her lips. He took its twin in his mouth and sucked gently and her breath hitched… "Oh God yes…" came her soft cry.
Her skin was smooth under his fingertips as he trailed them slowly down the back of her thigh, stopping behind her knee to hitch her leg over his hip granting him greater access. He ran his hand back up her thigh and over her rounded ass until his fingers found their target – the source of her desire. They moved achingly slowly tracing up and down the edges but didn't venture to the place he knew she wanted them.
"Please…" she whimpered, and he could not resist. Now that he had her he could not deny her anything. He ran his forefinger up the length of her slit. She was so wet for him, her pussy lips swollen with desire. When his finger brushed lightly across her erect little nub she trembled beneath him. "Jon…please...I need…"
He knew what she needed. It had been so long and he needed it too. The tip of his swollen cock found her entrance and rested there, teasingly tempted by her slick warm folds, but he wouldn't surrender yet. He gently brushed the hair back from her face as he looked down upon her...his angel.
"Look at me Gina…" She looked up at him, as young and beautiful as the day they met and his eyes locked on hers. "I love you baby." He said as he slid his length home in one powerful thrust, his eyes never leaving hers. That was what she was to him…home. He had never fit anyone so well.
His mouth found hers in a physical expression of what he had just declared. Their lips melted into each other in a mind numbing kiss. Her eyes fluttered closed and his followed unable to bear the excruciating pleasure of sensory overload. Their tongues caressed each other, exploring every crevice. He nibbled gently at her lower lip and elicited another moan.
"Oh God baby …you are so beautiful...so perfect," he uttered against her lips before she pulled him down on top of her, fully taking his weight as he began to move above, rocking torturously slowly, sliding in and out of her by degrees.
Jon trailed kisses across her jaw and nuzzled into her neck as the passion overcame him. He threaded his arms beneath her shoulders and cupped the top of them with his hands bracing her against his thrusts as they became more urgent. She was bucking beneath him now, meeting each of his thrusts with one of her own, her legs wrapped tightly around his waist.
"Oh yes baby yes…like that…" He groaned as she contracted her walls around his straining cock, each pulse sending shockwaves of pleasure through him. It had never been this good, he was close. He could feel her heart pounding in her chest keeping time with his, two hearts as one.
A sheen of perspiration covered their bodies, they glistened in the dim light of the candlelit room. He could feel the pleasure rising in her, her walls began to quiver. "I..I need…"
"I know baby…it's ok I'm with you," he mumbled breathlessly as he moved, eyes still closed to devour her lips.
"Oh fuck Jon…open your…I need… to… see you," she panted out against his lips.
"Jon…Jon" came the voice, it sounded distant this time.
"Please, Jon….pleeeease…" He opened his eyes, but instead of the golden honey glow he was expecting, he found eyes a deep, chocolate brown, shimmering with love and desire. It wasn't Gina, yet somehow it seemed better. He moaned as Beth latched onto lips, "Oh fuck yes…"she cried as he pumped into her. In that moment he knew he was dreaming but he didn't care, he wanted her and he wanted her bad.
"So beautiful..." he cooed to her.
It was then he became aware of a second set of hands on him. His brain was having trouble reconciling what was happening and then he heard her voice.
"Jon honey…wake up."
No…he didn't want to wake up. He wanted to stay in this dream with Beth open and warm and inviting, feeling her silken skin beneath him, her hair clenched in his fingers. Beth's hands caressed his face, her thumbs smoothing his cheekbones as he pounded into her. "Please don't stop, Jon."
It was so fucking real…he didn't want to stop…he didn't want it to end…
"Jon, baby, what's gotten into you?" He heard the question…the voice…and in some separate part of his brain he realized what was happening, but no…he didn't want her, he wanted Beth.
He pumped into her faster, desperate not to lose the moment. Beth's fingers threaded into his thick hair, "Don't leave me," she begged.
"No," he murmured hoarsely. "I need you so much, baby." His breathing was labored. He was so fucking close….
"Jesus, Jon, wake up!" Dot playfully poked him in the ribs, draping her naked form half over his as she began to kiss his face.
He was only seconds away from what felt like it would be the most incredible climax of his life, but he felt it slipping quickly from his grasp. Opening his eyes, he drew back to find Dot naked and pressed up against him. He shook his head as if to clear her from his vision.
"Fuck, Dot! What are you doing here?" Scrambling to a sitting position, he racked his brain to think if he might have said something incriminating.
Dot propped herself on one elbow, running her nails lightly down her husband's back.
She had arrived home from the Hamptons to find him alone, dreaming and mumbling in their bed. His rock hard cock tented the sheet as he enjoyed, what was obviously a very pleasurable dream. She couldn't resist slipping in naked beside him. It had been a long time since she had seen him so aroused and didn't want to waste it.
"You didn't get my message did you?" She grinned.
Jon shook his bowed head, his back still to her, not quite completely awake.
"That's ok baby…I'm here now. I can take care of you properly…no need for the dream version," she said as she began to slide her hand around his waist beneath the sheet towards his now shriveled cock.
He knew instinctively there was no way he could get it up now. He rolled off the bed away from her and headed for the bathroom. "I need to have a shower," he said brusquely, leaving her stunned and disappointed in the face of his rejection.
By the time he returned, she was no longer disappointed, she was fuming.
Jon emerged from the bathroom, a white fluffy towel wrapped modestly around his waist. Small droplets of water clung to his muscled torso and glittered in the glow of the morning sun, now streaming through the windows. Dot was perched on the edge of the bed, he could see by her tense posture that she was spoiling for an argument.
"What the fuck was that Jon?" She hissed.
"What was what Dot?" He asked resigned to what would undoubtedly come next. "I don't have time for this argument again. I have a full day of appointments and I won't be home 'til late, so if you don't mind I'd like to spend some time with the kids before I have to head out." Jon entered the walk-in to dress hoping she would be gone when he came out, but instead she followed him, leaning against the door frame as she watched him pull on his jeans, her eyes glinting dangerously.
"It's her isn't it…you're going to see her." She spat out the last word as if it were a curse.
"I wish it was..."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" She walked over and spun him by the arm so that he was facing her.
"It means Dot, that Gina is dead. Are you happy now?" He glowered at her.
"What…how…?" Dot was bewildered in the face of this new revelation.
"She died giving birth to our daughter. Are you satisfied? I know you never liked her…well now you don't have to worry…she can't 'steal' me away from you anymore."
Dot's stunned silence prompted him on further, "And do you know what else Dot? All those times I came home and you accused me of being with her…of sleeping with her…well there you go…Frankie was born seven months after we were married, and was conceived when you decided you didn't want to be with me. Remember Dot?"
"I…I just..." Dot couldn't find the words.
"You just what Dot?"
His anger stirred something within her, some long forgotten beast that disappeared when Gina did, "Well what was I supposed to think? That little whore was always sniffing around you...always at you beck and call."
John was so irate he was trembling; he shoved his fists deep into the pockets of his jeans so he wouldn't be tempted to use them. He had never raised a hand to a woman in anger and he didn't want to start now. "Don't you fucking dare call her that…the only thing she ever did wrong was love me. And you know what Dot… I wish I had been cheating with her all these years....because that would mean that she still loved me, and she was still with us, and not in some deep dark hole in the ground. Knowing you, you probably wished she was dead. Well there you go…wish granted."
"I never…I couldn't…how could you think that of me Jon?" Her voice was barely a whisper, her anger diminished in the face of his accusations.
"Fine," he spat, "that may have been harsh but I'm warning you Dot…don't go there again. You're not going to like this but I loved her then. Fuck… I still love her now, and I won't stand by and listen to you drag her name through the mud…especially after what she sacrificed."
A silent tear run down Dot's face and she turned away from him. It was hard to hear what she had always known – that her husband had loved, still loved, another woman. The fact that she was now dead did nothing to diminish that pain. She fought to keep her voice steady as she spoke, "You better go see the kids…especially if you're going to be gone for the rest of the day. They've missed you."
When Stephanie walked into her brother's room, it took one look at her before he was on his feet and by her side. "Steph…what's wrong…what happened? Did that asshole do something to hurt you?"
She was a mess. No boy had ever had her so upset. Anguish distorted her pretty face, her checks were stained with mascara where the tears ran, and silent sobs wracked her body, as she held her hand over her mouth to prevent the strangled cries from escaping and alarming her younger brothers, who were playing happily up the hall.
Jesse pulled her further into the room and sat her on his bed before closing the door. "C'mon Steph…you have to talk to me. What happened?" He knelt before her, looking up into her tortured face.
"Dad…" She managed, before the sobs consumed her words.
"You want me to get Dad?"
Stephanie shook her head frantically.
"Take a deep breath Steph…and then tell me what's going on." Jesse said calmly.
Stephanie took her brother's advice and inhaled deeply, "Mom and Dad were arguing again…" She began shakily.
"And..they always argue lately."
"This..was…different," she choked out and looked at Jesse who was waiting patiently for her to finish, "Mom isn't my Mom."
"That's so not funny Stephanie."
"I know." She said finally starting to calm down some.
"What did you hear?"
Stephanie explained to her brother that she was going to say hello to her father since he hadn't come out to see them yet. That she heard the screaming, but it seemed to be different to the usual arguments that their parents always tried so hard to protect them from, so she stood by the door and listened. "And that's when I heard it… Dad said 'She died giving birth to our daughter. Are you satisfied? I know you never liked her…' I didn't stick around to hear the rest. Oh my God Jesse…you're not even my brother." And the tortured sobs began again.
"Are you sure that's what you heard?" He asked. Stephanie nodded.
"But Steph…It can't be true. I mean, you look like Mom." Jesse rationalized but Steph just shrugged.
"Wait here," he directed her. Before she could even think to stop him, Jesse had stormed out of the room.
Jon was in the kitchen making a cup of coffee when Jesse found him. His argument with Dot had left him rattled and he wanted a few minutes to calm down before seeing the kids.
"Hey bud," he said when he saw Jesse enter the room.
"What the hell is going on Dad?" Jesse growled.
"Good morning to you too son."
"Don't!" Jesse said forcefully, "Don't pretend everything is fine. What's the deal?"
Jon looked at his son genuinely confused, "Jess…I don't know what you're talking about…but don't take that tone with me."
"What I am talking about Dad…you are my Dad aren't you?" He didn't wait for Jon to answer the rhetorical question, "what I'm talking about is Stephanie hearing you screaming at Mom again and the fact that she is now in my room in hysterics and it's all your fault."
Jesse watched the color drain from his father's face, and a look of remorse, replace the stern expression he had been wearing. Oh fuck…it's true!, was Jesse's first reaction. Tears began to sting his eyes.
Jon tried to place a hand on his son's shoulder, as the bravado he was showing was rapidly crumbling, but Jesse shrugged away. "What did she hear?" he asked.
"Maybe..." Jesse's voice cracked, "Ahem…maybe you should ask her."
Jon was already on his way to Jesse's room before his son finished speaking. When he entered the room Stephanie was laying on her side on the bed, curled into the fetal position, her knees hugged tightly to her chest. The quite sobs that escaped her broke Jon's heart.
He crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed, laying a tentative hand on her shoulder. He was glad when she didn't pull away. He glanced at Jesse who hovered in the doorway.
"Come in Jess...get comfortable. You're going to need to hear this too." Jon said quietly.
Stephanie shot Jesse a irritated glance, she didn't want to deal with this right now and resented the fact that he had gone straight to their father.
"Steph…honey…look at me." He waited for his daughter to make eye contact before he continued, "Jesse said you heard Mom and I arguing. I'm sorry sweetie...that wasn't meant for your ears, but I need to know what it was that you heard that has you so upset."
Stephanie had trouble speaking, "I'm…I'm …adopted." She sobbed moving to bury her face Jesse's pillow.
"Stephanie…Steph…how did you come to that conclusion?" Jon asked perplexed, pulling gently on her shoulder to turn her back to face him. He racked his brain trying to remember what in the argument he had with Dot could draw that conclusion.
"You said my mother died?" She croaked out.
He understood then. "No, baby…no! Believe me honey you are our biological daughter…you just misunderstood."
"But you said she died giving birth to our daughter…I heard you Daddy."
"Yes honey, I did." Her sobs began again. "Stephanie...let me explain. I said 'she died giving birth to our daughter', mine and hers Stephanie. Gina died having your sister…your half sister."
Jesse, who had still been standing by the door, slumped to the floor unbelieving. Stephanie lay very still for a moment as her father's words sunk in. When they did she sprang up and shrunk back against the headboard of the bed, putting as much distance as possible between her and this strange man that was her father.
"Awe Steph…please…" He reached out to her but she shied away.
"How could you Dad…how could you cheat on Mom…and have another kid… That's disgusting." Jon hated to see the judgment in her eyes.
"It's not like that...Frankie is eighteen, honey - your Mom and I weren't together when she was conceived. Gina, her mother, and I were very good friends…in a lot of ways she was my best friend, and honey sometimes things just happen… I know that's no excuse but it is a very good lesson for you to learn from my mistakes." Jon watched his children's reactions warily as they absorbed the news.
They both sat in silence for a moment before Jesse spoke. "Why didn't you tell us about her?"
Jon let out a sigh of relief that, at least, was a question easily answered. "I didn't know her myself until just a few days ago… we bumped into each other at the benefit in the Hamptons."
"Is she why you came back to the city early…why you left us?" Jesse asked.
"I never left you Jesse...but yes. Things didn't go well at our first meeting. I…upset her. It was hard for me to believe it was true, so I had to come back to get some answers." Jon said softly. He hadn't realized that his children felt abandoned when he left the Hamptons. He spent so much time on the road that he just assumed they were accustomed to his absence.
"Did you get them?" Stephanie glared at him now with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes honey…I did and they were answers I didn't want to hear, like Gina…Frankie's mother being dead and the fact that Frankie really doesn't want to know me."
"Good." Stephanie replied.
Jon raked his hands through his hair. "Please don't be like that baby. Don't you understand that she is as much my daughter as you are…I want her in my life…in our lives."
"I don't want a sister…you already have four kids…that's enough." Stephanie didn't want any part of this.
"No Stephanie," Jon said sternly, "I have five children and I love you all."
"How can you love her? You don't even know her?" She asked indignant.
"No…I don't, but I will and I love her regardless…she's a part of me Steph, just like you and Jesse and Jakey and Romeo…she's a part of me and I can't just let that go. Can you understand that?" He looked hopefully at the two of his children present. They presented the challenge. The little ones were too young yet to understand the implications of this new development, this new addition to their lives.
"I suppose so," Stephanie answered begrudgingly.
"I guess," was Jesse's response from the floor.
"Thank you. I would like you all to meet her…" he stopped Stephanie who was about to open her mouth in protest, "of course I won't force it onto you. We'll do it when we are all ready and not before. I really do think you'll like her though."
Jon ignored Stephanie's soft "hmph."
"Now I have meetings for the rest of the day…and most of the night so I'm going to go spend some time with your brothers and fill your Mom in on what we've discussed...but if you need me...or you just have some more questions you know you can come to me, right?" Jon rubbed a palm across his forehead as he pondered the impending discussion with Dot…he knew it would be brutal.
Both of the kids nodded "We know." They answered in unison.
"Are we ok?" He offered them a tentative smile. They both nodded.
"I love you guys!" He said as he rose and kissed Stephanie on the forehead, and gave Jesse a high five as he passed.
"Love you Dad," they echoed.
He left his son's room and went to face the firing squad.
Monday, February 9, 2009
After lunch was demolished, Jon and Richie sat outside on porch while Jon puffed on his third smoke in an hour.
"It's got you rattled hasn't it?" Richie asked.
"More than I'd like to admit. How could she have come to mean so much to me so quickly? I can't lose her man." Jon said staring blindly out over the Navesink River. He took a deep draw on the cigarette and let the smoke burn his lungs before letting it drift slowly out.
"Listen Jon, I know you want to see Frankie but I really think you'd be better off talking to Beth first. Get her on your side and half the battle is won."
"You wanna come with me?" Jon's tone was hopeful.
"Dude, much as I'd love to meet the little hottie…" Richie wiggled his eyebrows mischievously, "I think this is something you'd best do alone."
"Yeah you're probably right about that." Jon nodded slowly in agreement.
Jon stood in the foyer of Beth's building. His luck hadn't held today and the doorman was waiting to greet him at the desk. Jon's palms were sweaty as he waited for a response from the other end of the phone line that the elderly uniformed gentleman was now on.
"Yes ma'am," he said into the receiver before clicking it back onto its base, "She'll see you now sir…just take the elevator to the penthouse."
"Thank you Wilson." Jon said reading the man's name off the tag on his lapel.
Wilson nodded formally in response, "Sir," as Jon moved off towards the elevator.
Up in the penthouse Beth was cursing furiously beneath her breath. How was it that he always managed to find her in a state of disarray? Frankie was coming home for dinner tonight and she had sounded a little down after the events of the last few days, so Beth was making her favorite - Ma's fried chicken and biscuits. Before she'd even had time to rinse her hands, the doorbell rang.
"Come in," she called as she walked down the hallway, "It's open."
Jon pushed open the apartment door and peered around it tentatively to find Beth a few feet back on the other side, her hands coated in flour and the smell of frying chicken heavy in the air. "Oh shit, sorry Beth, I've caught you in the middle of something…I'll come back another time…and be sure to call first."
"Don't be silly. It's fine, just a little cooking. Besides you're here now. Come on in…you'll just have to bear with me 'til I get this done." She said walking back into the homey kitchen.
There was a natural beauty about this woman. She exuded style, even dressed in a pair of faded denim fitted jeans and a super soft baby pink sleeveless T-shirt that hugged her curves., A short white chefs apron was wrapped around her waist and covered in chicken batter. Jon suddenly realized his mouth was watering as much from the way she looked as the smell of the comfort food.
"I'm expecting Frankie home for dinner so I thought I'd fix her something a little special. This week's been tough on her…" Beth paused, biting her lip when she saw Jon flinch, "Sorry I didn't mean it like that…" she trailed off.
"That's fine...really. This week's been tough on all of us." Jon touched his bruised eye, unconsciously drawing her attention to it when she turned unexpectedly back towards him.
Beth raised her hand to touch his face but dropped it self-consciously when she realized the intimacy of the gesture, "Who did this to you?"
Jon attempted a grin but winced at the pain. "Let's just say I got on the wrong side of a friend's fist."
"Remind me to stay away from that friend, will you, because if that's what a friend does to you, I'd hate to meet your enemies."
"Really Beth…he's a great guy. I only got what I deserved." Jon admitted.
"But still…regardless of what you did I can't condone that kind of violence." Beth scowled.
"It really wasn't Richie's fault; we'd just been to see Gin, well, you know, her grave. I knew he wasn't himself, but instead of walking away I pushed him a little too far." Jon grinned when he realized how strongly he was defending him.
"If you say so," Beth said, disapproval still plain on her face. "Now what can I do for you? I assume there is a reason for your visit."
Beth crossed the room and went back to working on dinner. Jon shifted uncomfortably and adjusted his jeans as he watched her bend deeply at the waist to check on the biscuits that were baking in the oven, her rounded ass tantalizingly exposed to him. He tried to occupy himself with a magazine on the bench so as not to be obvious in his admiration.
"Mind if I sit?" He asked indicating a stool at the counter as she turned her attention back to coating the chicken.
"No, of course not. Where are my manners? They always seem to take their leave when you come knocking. Can I get you anything?" she offered.
"No thanks, I'm good. But I would like to ask something of you Beth."
"Go ahead." She looked up at him with interest.
"It's about Frankie…
"I don't know what I can do for you there Jon. She has her mind made up. I would like to apologize for that little stunt she pulled the other day though," Beth looked at him chagrined. "That's not how she was raised…she shouldn't have done that. Thing is, she's a lot like her father in that way…when Branson set his mind to something…well, there was just no changing it."
Jon grimaced at the reference, but when Beth looked up his face was smooth. It was not easy to be reminded of the influence Branson had held in his daughter's life. "Beth, I am under no illusion that this will be easy, but I'd really like to get to know my daughter. I don't know how much you know about me, but I also have four other children that mean the world to me. Now I can't say for sure, but I think I'm a pretty good dad. They are all well-adjusted kids despite this crazy life I lead. I'd like to include Frankie in that life, and you too if you'll have me, have us. I'm not sure how this would work…it's all very new to me, but I would never exclude you from anything, Beth. You are as much a part of my family now as Frankie is. I will never be able to thank you for what you have done for her."
"That's a lovely sentiment, but I don't need your thanks Jon. She's my daughter, I
have done no more or less than I am sure you have done for your children. The fact that I didn't give birth to her doesn't make her any less my child." Beth's tone was not harsh, merely explanatory.
"I'm sorry I didn't mean…shit…I'm not doing this very well am I?" Jon was clearly uncomfortable. It was a state Beth did not imagine him to be in often. "I just meant to say that I am grateful that Frankie had people as generous and good as you and your husband to raise her."
"Thank you," Beth answered simply, "but you still haven't told me what you want from me."
"I was hoping that maybe you could talk her around for me. I know that so far I've been going about this all wrong, and as far as I can see you are about my only hope of ever getting to know her."
"I really can't see what good it would do, Jon. You've seen how…volatile her feelings are where you're concerned…."
"Yes, but I have also seen that you carry a fair amount of influence with her too. If anyone can help me Beth, it's you."
"I don't know Jon…I mean, you understand my first allegiance is to my daughter. I just don't know that I can promote you like that when she is so against it."
"What can I do to convince you that this is the right thing to do? Don't you think she should get to know me, to learn her heritage – both mine and Gina's?"
"I do but…" Beth hesitated
"But?" He questioned.
"But I just don't know if she's ready for that yet."
"Will she ever be ready, Beth?"
Beth put the chicken aside, wiped her hands and placed them flat on the counter, looking Jon directly in the eyes. "I think so… in time," she said gently. "Listen Jon, I'm sorry but I just can't force this on her right now and risk isolating her. We've both lost so much already in Branson…I just don't think we could survive losing each other too." Beth watched Jon open his mouth to speak but stopped him. "But that's not to say I won't talk to her...try to get her to see the advantages of getting to know you, and the regrets of turning her back on you. It's rare for someone in her position to have this opportunity - to get to know her biological father – and I know she will regret it if she turns her back on you now."
"I guess that's all I can ask except…"
"Go ahead," she prompted.
"Well, I would still really like to get to know my daughter, everything about her, including her history. If you think its best that I give her some space, I was wondering if you'd be willing to give me a few history lessons." Jon twisted his wedding ring around his finger nervously as he asked.
"That, I can do. It would be my pleasure in fact. What parent doesn't like to brag about their children."
"So…maybe we can have dinner once a week?" Just as he made the proposal the house phone rang.
"Hold that thought," Beth said as she reached for the cordless phone at the end of the counter. "Hello."
"Oh hi honey" Jon tried not to listen to the conversation but couldn't help it. The possibility it was Frankie on the other end of the line had his interest peaked.
"Oh…no…that's too bad. I'm making your favorite. Can you make it after?" There was a pause as Beth waited for Frankie's response. "Please try, ok honey. We really do need to have that talk."
Beth turned her back on Jon and lowered her voice, but it was not enough that he couldn't hear what was being said. "Yes, I know how you feel about him, that doesn't change the fact that he is your father. And beyond everything else, we do need to talk about how that is going to affect our lives, because honey…I can tell you…he won't give up on this."
There was a shorter pause this time, "Fine…ok. Will you come by tomorrow if you can't make it tonight?"
"Ok, good, I'll see you then. But at least try to come by and pick up some chicken tonight." Beth turned back to Jon and offered an apologetic smile, evidently the sensitive part of the conversation was over. "Yes, sweetie I know it's out of the way…but it's better fresh…or I could always…" Beth stopped obviously having been cut off. "Ok, Ok. I'll see you when I see you." Pause. "I love you too honey. Bye."
"Sorry about that Jon. It looks as though my dinner plans have been altered…and all this food." Beth looked in dismay over all the prepared food spread across the kitchen counter. "Well you mentioned dinner…care to start tonight?"
"And if Frankie decides to come after all? What will she make of my being here?"
"This is still my house Jon..if she turns up she will treat you with the same respect as any other invited guest." She answered confidently.
"If you're sure?"
"I am." Beth affirmed.
"Ok then…what can I do to help?" Jon asked getting up from the stool and moving into the kitchen beside her.
"You don't need to…" Jon shushed her by placing a finger gently on her lips, sending a tingle throughout her body.
"I know that…I want to." He dropped his finger just as quickly as he'd raised it. The softness of her lips was a serious distraction.
"Fine…you can get the biscuits out of the oven and start on frying the chicken, and I'll get to fixin' the gravy and salad." Beth replied, her flustered state accentuating her accent.
"I do believe I detect a hint of the South in that accent." Jon observed slightly amused. He had heard it the day before as well.
"I do believe you would be correct in that assumption, Mr. Bongiovi" Beth replied, laying the accent on thick, sounding more like Scarlett O'Hara than herself.
Jon chuckled, "Well, well, well you are full of surprises." Damn if that accent didn't drive him wild. He'd always had a thing for the southern accent…the gentle lilt…it almost seemed musical to him.
"Get to work. Or we'll be eating dinner at midnight…and that just won't do."
Jon and Beth busied themselves preparing dinner. As they worked companionably side by side, she shared with him amusing little anecdotes of Frankie's upbringing. She told him about Frankie's grandparents, her own mother who was still alive and living in North Carolina, her father who had passed a few years before – bringing a tear to her eye – and Branson's parents, old money from New York, who - when alive - never quite approved of their son's choice of a wife and were not shy in expressing it. By the time the pair sat down to dinner, they were completely relaxed with each other and chatting as if they'd known each other for years rather than just a couple days.
They opened a bottle of wine with dinner and the stories Jon shared of his children had Beth laughing genuinely for the first time since Branson's death. Jon helped her clear the table and do the dishes, and all too soon it was time that the evening came to an end, but not before Beth arranged for another dinner the very next night. Jon was ecstatic, and she promised that this time she would be prepared and have some of Frankie's childhood photos and report cards available for him to see.
"We'll start at the beginning and work our way through the years. That way you won't miss anything." She explained as she showed him to the door.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate this Beth," Jon took Beth's hand in his and raised it to his lips, "really…it means so much that you are willing to do this for me. I know the past year has been hard for you and I'm sure my appearance now has only added to that burden, and I'm truly sorry for that. But my children – all of them – mean the world to me, so I just want to say thank you. From the bottom of my heart…thank you."
Beth looked into the azure pools that were Jon's eyes and could see plainly the conviction of his emotion. Damned if he hadn't won her over already. She knew, without a doubt, the following day she would be doing her level best to convince her daughter to see her father. "You're most welcome...and Jon… I will do my best to convince her to see you. You seem like a good man…it would do her good to have a positive role model such as yourself in her life."
"That's all I can ask." Jon considered something for a moment, "Beth would you like me to drop some food off for Frankie? It doesn't look like she's coming past. I can drop it with her doorman...at least she'll get it fresh."
"That's very kind of you. Just give me a minute and I'll call and see where she is." Jon found it hard to draw his attention away from Beth's ass as she walked away, he felt like one himself for looking at her in that way.
When she returned she was carrying a small basket of food. "Thanks for this, Jon. She's still at the office…won't be leaving for another half hour or so. I told her I'd get it couriered over; I didn't think it best to let her know who the courier was just yet. She's pleased it's coming though, I think she was really looking forward to it."
"I can't say I blame her for that…It was fabulous Beth…you're a wonderful cook. And on that note," he said smiling as he took the basket from her, "I'm going to get this food to Frankie, and leave you in peace. Sleep well Beth…I'll see you tomorrow." He hesitated a moment, then leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Bye," he called over his shoulder as he hit the button for the elevator and stepped inside as the doors opened.
"Goodnight." Beth called back just as the doors slid closed.
Jon dropped the food off as promised and headed home, this time to the apartment in the city. Richie would be long gone by now. He had plans with Ava the following morning and didn't want to disappoint her.
He let himself in to the empty apartment and wondered if it would ever feel like home. He considered sitting down to watch TV, but when he stifled a yawn he thought better of it and instead headed for the bedroom, ignoring the flashing light on the answering machine as he passed. Whatever it was could wait until morning. He stripped out of his clothes and slid naked between the crisp cool Egyptian cotton sheets and drifted off to sleep within minutes.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The large green sedan slid effortlessly into the parking space in front of the cemetery. Twice here in as many days was two times too many for Jon, but he knew that Richie needed this; he needed to say his goodbyes too. They strolled in silence through the hundreds of grave markers - some ornate, others simple plaques – on their way to Gina's.
Jon approached the angel first. "Hey baby," he said quietly, "I bought a friend to see you. I'm just going to go for a walk. Give you two some time alone." He kissed the tip of his fingers and touched them to the grave stone.
It was Richie's cue to step forward. He stared disbelievingly at the words carved into the stone. So it was true. It wasn't exactly that he thought Jon would lie to him, he knew he never would…It was more that… without this…without seeing it for himself… his heart would never accept it. He had hoped Jon had been wrong though. That it was all some grievous mistake but here, now with the proof before him, Richie had no choice but to accept the horror that she was really gone.
Although it had been almost twenty years since she had been in his life, he always comforted himself with the belief that she was out there somewhere, happy and living her life. The knowledge now that she had been lost to him so long ago was the worst kind of torment. Even worse was the knowledge that he hadn't been there when she needed him most. He could have protected her, could have supported her if only… But it was never really his place to do either. That had always been Jon's job, and he was only ever the comedic sidekick.
Richie had never seen Gina as anything more than a kid sister but he couldn't help but wonder now what would have come to pass if things were different back then. If he had met her first, loved her first, would she still be here now. She had deserved so much more than she had gotten out of life… what little of it she had. An emotion stirred within him that had been dormant for longer than he dared remember, but here, now, in this place with Gina lying deep beneath the cold damp ground, that old resentment was as fresh as the day he realized she wasn't coming back.
The ride home was like déjà vu for Jon, spent in stony silence as Richie sat brooding beside him. He tried on a few occasions to engage him in conversation but was only ever met with a grunt or a one word reply, so he gave up. It wasn't until they were back in the privacy of High Point's grounds that Richie let fly.
"This isn't right." He mumbled to himself as he got out of the car.
Jon heard Richie's incomprehensible mutterings as he got to the front door. He turned and asked innocently, "What was that man?"
"I said… this isn't right." Richie's face hardened as he glared back at him. "I mean…this is your fault. You do know that don't you?"
"Excuse me?" Jon was more than a little shocked by the sudden ferocity of his friends tone.
"This…all of it…it's all your fault. How could you do that to her man? How could you just go off and leave her like that…alone… and pregnant. Can you imagine how terrified she was?" Richie began to tremble with anger at the thought. "I've seen you perform some pretty low acts man…but this…fuck man… this just tops them all…and to Gina of all people…"
Jon let Richie go on his tirade, knowing that it was justified and that his friend needed to get the emotion out. It was better that he did it like this than with a bottle, as he himself had done.
"She was the best person you ever knew…she would have walked across glass for you…died for you." He stopped for a moment. "Humph…I guess she did that huh? You killed her man…all most as sure as if you'd held a gun to her head."
That was taking it too far! "Now hang on a minute man…" Jon fought to keep his cool.
"NO… YOU HANG ON!!" Richie screamed crossing the cobbled courtyard in three giant paces, pulling himself up to his full height to tower over Jon. "It's not like she was some backstage groupie fuck… she was supposed to be one of your best friends."
"How was I supposed to know what was going on? How in the hell could I have guessed that she got herself pregnant?" Jon shot back.
"I was under the impression it took two to make a baby." Richie ran his hand through is shoulder length dark brown hair, "I mean you obviously didn't use any kind of protection you dumb fuck, did it never even cross your mind that this might have happened? You obviously didn't give a shit about her. Just like with any groupie got your dick wet and cruised the scene, some fucking friend."
"You fucking prick… that's not true. You know she meant the world to me…I loved her." Jon jaw twitched as he fought to control his temper, a vein in his temple kept a constant throbbing beat.
"Don't give me that bullshit Jon!" Richie jammed his finger into Jon's chest. "If you had loved her you would have at least called her before you took off to marry Dottie. Shit can you imagine what that was like for her? To find out that you were married from me for god's sake, …and when she was fucking pregnant with your kid. Way to go asshole."
Jon took a step back in the face of Richie's rage. "Go fuck yourself man."
"Truth hurts don't it bro?"
"You tell me! Does it?" Jon spat back at him, "Because you know… if it wasn't for you telling her she'd be here with us now. If only I'd had the chance to explain it to her properly…"
Richie's fist slammed down hard into his palm. "Don't even go there Jon. How fucking dare you put this on me. It should have been you telling her but when the fuck were you planning to do that? Huh?"
you put it all on me?" Jon emphasized each word with a poke to Richie's chest, "Couldn't you tell when she rang that something was wrong before you opened your big stupid fucking mouth?"
"Someone had to tell her something. You obviously hadn't called her in nearly three months." Richie shook his head in disgust, tears stinging his eyes now.
"I DID FUCKING CALL HER ASSHOLE" Jon yelled at Richie, "She never said anything."
"Oh really…somehow that just doesn't sound right Jon. Why would she hide the fact that she was pregnant from you? You sure your memory isn't getting the best of you there old man? Maybe you just want to think you called her?"
"I'm not fucking senile. I remember everything about her…we spoke every few days."
"Well do you remember what you said to her? What she said to you?"
"We talked like always… stupid inconsequential shit. She asked me what was going on with the tour, how we all were and I checked on her, you know to make sure she was ok. But man I promise you she never said a thing to me…oh…OH!" Jon closed his eyes against the hurt as he rubbed his palm across his brow.
"The last time I spoke to her…a week or so before I got married...I mentioned Dot was back."
"You told her Dot was back?"
"Well ...yeah… I…"
"That's just beautiful man." Richie rubbed his tear stained cheeks while focusing intently on a paving stone.
"How the fuck was I supposed to know. I'm not a fucking mind reader."
"God Jon… please
stop with the excuses. I don't know how you can live with yourself right now."
"To be honest man…" Jon said in self disgust, "I'm not sure myself but you need to step up and accept you part in this as well."
Richie looked at Jon incredulously. "Ok, I let that slide the first time but you'd better fucking tell me you don't mean that."
"Fuck yes I mean it."
"I'm not the one that got her pregnant Jonny."
"No… but seeing how you're carrying on now, I'm betting you wish you did."
Jon didn't know what was happening until Richie's fist connected with his face. His head jerked back violently, he heard a sickening crunch and a blinding pain consumed him. Reflexively, his hands drew up to protect his damaged face. Jon could taste the metallic tang of his own blood as it glided down the back of his throat.
"Please tell me I broke your nose you fucking little girl." Richie's angry voice held a hint of perverse pleasure, as he shook out his now wounded hand.
Jon grunted, "FUCK MAN...that was uncalled for."
"Wanna fucking bet?" Richie raged, "How could you say that to me, I've always had your back Jon…always. And there is no way in hell that I am gonna stand here and take this shit from you now." Richie turned and started to move back towards the car.
Jon grabbed his arm and spun him on the spot fiercely, "OH NO! You are not gonna break my fucking nose and walk away from this dammit!"
"I'm sorry Jon, I just can't listen to your bullshit anymore. And I won't take the blame for your mistakes. You were never going to tell her about the wedding…we both know you would have left that to me… or Obie, or anyone else so long as you didn't have to face it yourself."
Jon let out a heavy sigh, "I was gonna tell her man… the day Dot and I got back," he said resigned.
"Not good enough. If you were even half the man she deserved you would have told her before you got married Jon. But you didn't… because deep down, you really didn't give a shit about her." Richie slumped heavily to sit on the cold stone step at Jon's front door.
"FUCK MAN stop telling me what I was gonna do, how I felt…"
"The truth is fucking appalling isn't it man?" He tilted his head slightly and glanced up at Jon - still standing over him - from the corner of his eye.
"Oh come on…If I had of known I was getting married before it happened I would have told her." Jon joined Richie on the step, keeping a safe buffer of distance between them. "You know it was a snap decision."
There was silence for a long moment as Richie rested his head in his hands.
"Were you in love with her?" Jon asked quietly. "Is that what this is really about? I mean she was one hell of a lady...I couldn't blame you if you were."
No response came…the only sound now was that of Richie's trying to choke back the sobs that were rapidly consuming him. Jon wondered absently if this would be the thing to finally push his friend over the edge after the last horrific year. He tentatively moved over and threw his arm across Richie's shoulders.
"Awe fuck man...That's it isn't it…you were in love with her?"
Richie shook his head and wondered how someone as intelligent as Jon had remained so totally clueless. "No Jon. I wasn't in love with her…I loved her...of course I did…like a sister." His voice cracked on the word and it took him a moment to compose himself before he could continue. "I feel like I've lost another member of my family. But loving her like that – being in love with her - would have been a waste of time and emotion…she only ever had eyes for you and that was evident to everybody that knew you both. I kept waiting for you to realize...we all did…especially Gina.
"It was so hard for her Jon… she loved you so much. It was painful to watch and yet…you just went about your business so fucking oblivious to it all."
"Frankie said the same thing but I just can't believe it. I don't get man...how could she have loved… me? What did I ever do to deserve her that?" Jon's brow was furrowed in confusion.
Richie looked at his friend and his expression softened momentarily. "Fucked if I know...It was always a mystery to me. I think she just felt a connection to you that you evidently didn't feel to her."
An unshed tear stung Jon's eye, when he realized that was obviously how Gina had seen things too. She had thought that he didn't care. "Awe shit man I felt it… I felt it from the first day. That's the tragedy in this; I just never believed she could feel the same. Even when she told me she did, I didn't believe it."
"No the tragedy is…God Jon…what must those last months have been like for her?" Richie shook his head disbelievingly.
"I don't know man. Maybe there is something in her diaries… Frankie says she has them."
"You're fucking kidding me right. Shit Jon…" Richie shook his head forlornly. "I shudder to think what might be written in there. Hell I remember some of the stuff she used to confide in me, hoping I could somehow shed light on why you act the way you do."
Jon's brow puckered, "So you think I should be worried then? I don't want her to hate me man. I mean… no more than she already does."
"Has she read them already?" Richie glanced at him sideways.
"I don't know...parts maybe…she seems to know a bit. Fuck man, I'm terrified of losing her." Panic was evident in Jon's eyes now.
"It doesn't sound like you even have her to lose right now. I really think you need to be as upfront as possible with her man. Don't try to glaze things over – the truth and the whole truth at that."
Jon let his head fall back and looked to the sky, "I'm trying and you're right, I don't have her...but I want her in my life man. I want that little piece of Gina."
"You know what Jonny? I'm gonna tell you something that you're probably not gonna like hearing…"
Jon grinned at that, "What's new?"
Richie's lips curled in response in spite of himself, "Listen to me… she's not just a little piece of Gina, from what you've told me about her, it sounds like she's a pretty big piece of you as well. She's more than just a collection of genes Jon, she's her own person but you're sitting here thinking only about what she can be to you. I think maybe you feel like if you can win her over, it will be some kind of…I don't know…maybe redemption…for all the shit that happened with Gina…that maybe it will make it easier to deal with. The thing is...instead you should be thinking about what you can do for her."
The pair sat quietly for a long moment as Jon contemplated what his friend had said. He was right.
"Rich…I really do want to get to know her...for her. I want to be a father to her."
"Hasn't she got one of those…I mean I just assumed she was adopted or something…Oh Jon please tell me she wasn't raised in an orphanage." Richie's tone was tormented.
"Nah man… she was adopted, and from what I can tell she's had a pretty good life…well up until a few months ago anyway when her dad died. You knew him…Branson McKenzie…had that gallery in Soho."
"Oh jeez…I remember when that happened it was in the papers."
"Yeah, it cut her up pretty bad too I think."
"Of course it did." Richie shook his head. "That poor kid. First she loses her dad and then you show up."
"I know man it's rotten timing. What are the odds? …both of us in the same place, at the same time."
"Ya know now, when things like that happen to me, I like to think dad had a hand in it somehow ya know?" Richie smiled wistfully, it was only a few months before that he had lost his own father to cancer.
Jon grinned at him. "And when exactly was the last time you found a long lost daughter out of the blue?"
Richie crossed himself at the notion "Don't even go there man…that just made my blood run cold."
Jon laughed in earnest now.
"So tell me about this girl's mom?"
"She seems nice enough."
"Do you think she'd be willing to help you?"
"Maybe, I need all the help I can get on this one. I won't be turnin' down any favors."
"So what's your plan?"
"Hmph…what plan? I don't have one."
"Shit Jonny, that's a first…you always have a plan."
"Well...I did want to go see Frankie today. See if I can smooth things over…explain some shit, ya know? Thing is, I don't even know if she'll see me. She's more pissed at me than you are."
"Sounds like you have a lot of splaining to do." He said the last three words with a heavy South American accent.
"You know… I think I'd be pissed if you were my dad too." Richie chuckled.
A wide smile brightened Jon's face, they were definitely past the aggression now, "Fuck off!"
"Seriously though…You mind if I give you some advice? Since I am the older, wiser one."
Jon raised a skeptical eyebrow at that. "Older definitely ...the wiser is debatable. But don't let that stop you. You've already broken my nose. How much worse can it get?"
"Nah," Richie shook his head. "I don't think it's broken. That's one hell of a shiner you've got though."
"Thanks man…" Jon rolled his eyes. He touched his left eye tentatively, "Ouch…This will look great when I go to see her mom. I bet I look like some common street thug."
Richie laughed once, "Yeah… I'll be interested to hear how that goes over."
"But her mom is probably the only way you're gonna get this kid to listen. Is she a fan?"
"Who? Beth? I don't think so. She recognized me…but she certainly wasn't star struck." Jon said her name with a hint of reverence.
"Is that her name? Beth." Richie recognized the faraway look in Jon's eyes immediately...he was interested…even if he didn't know it yet. Now was his chance to have a little fun.
"Yeah…nice huh?" Jon smiled gently as an image of Beth flashed in his mind's eye.
" I always liked that name." Richie teased.
"Hmm, me too." Jon agreed.
"Would it make me a complete ass to say yes?" Yep it does…this should be about Frankie, he thought.
"Is she cute or is she hot?"
Scorching…"Fuck man...I really wasn't paying that much attention." He lied "Let's just say she has… attributes."
"Yeah well, if you said she was hot, I was gonna say that makes you an ass. Attributes are ok though. What color are her eyes?"
"A deep chocolate brown, almost black really." He licked his bottom lip and pulled it through his teeth.
Richie couldn't help but grin. "Mmm… I love me some chocolate… Hair?"
Jon smiled, "She's a brunette man....not your type."
Oh poor Jon…he was sooo hooked! "Hey now…let's not make assumptions! The blonde thing isn't working so well for me." He teased.
"Bro...the woman just lost her husband... let's not take it there ok?"
"Touchy!" he chuckled.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jon asked defensively.
"Not a thing…"
"Rich…what am I gonna do about Dot...." Jon changed the subject, trying to distract Richie. "You know how she is…and it's gotten worse lately… either that or maybe my tolerance of it has just lessened . I just can't handle her anymore man. I used to be able to let it go over my head, but now…" Jon shook his head sadly, "It's gotten to the point where I don't even want to be around her anymore."
"You just have to talk to her man. I mean, you and Dottie have always seemed more like best friends to me than husband and wife anyway." Richie had always been very perceptive.
"Yeah well it hasn't really been more than that for a long time… and now..even that's fading." Jon agreed.
"Rare and unsatisfying would be two words that come to mind." He answered focusing on a spot between his feet.
"Well hell…those are two words that should never be used in conjunction with sex." Richie felt bad for him…he knew what it was to be in that place…he had been there more than he cared to remember.
"Don't I know it!" Jon's voice was resigned.
"Listen man, Dot's gonna have to deal. You need to focus on those kids - all of them - make sure they're cool with everything, particularly Stephanie - she's gonna need a little extra attention I bet. And well…as far as Frankie is concerned, sounds like you have some major sucking up to do."
"No joke…Did you come up with that one on your own…or did you have help…" Jon laughed.
"Funny…So when can I meet Frankie?"
"As soon as I can get her on side, she needs to meet her Uncle Mookie."
"Great! Can I meet her mom too?" He couldn't help himself.
"I'm warning you.... don't go there man. The lady doesn't need your brand of drama."
"What drama would that be…I'm a free agent man…you're the one that's married." Richie wiggled his eyebrows before his face settle into a wicked grin.
"Richie...I am warning you...she is off limits. You hear me?" Jon's stern expression amused his friend.
"You know I'm just teasing you Kidd but still, I might be able to use my powers of persuasion with the mom. Especially if she's as cute as you say she is."
"Man, I've never underestimated your powers of persuasion when a hot woman is involved."
"Oh so she's hot now huh…" He giggled.
"Maybe... a little…" Jon admitted reluctantly.
"Well in that case…"
Jon cut him off with a warning glare.
"Ok…Ok… I know…off limits, I get it." Richie held up his hands in surrender. "Listen…with Frankie… just be easy on her. It sounds like the kid has been through a lot."
"Yeah she has…more than she should have had to. But man she's blaming me for everything. I don't know how to contend with that."
"Maybe you should accept a little of that blame. If you did, it might go a long way toward bringing her around." Richie braced himself for the next round of the argument…but it didn't come."
"Dude… I accept what I did to Gina. I'm a lowlife piece of shit. I know that. And I'm sorry for what I said before that was just the anger talking…I take full responsibility for what happened back then, as long as you know that I would give anything to change it. I did love her man. I didn't know just how much 'til she was gone. But Rich, as far as she's concerned, I'm to blame for everything wrong in her life."
"She'll come around. Just don't act like a dick around her. Even when she tries to provoke your temper – and you know she will - look at her and remember what Gina went through for her - for your kid."
"I hope so man." Jon rose from the step and held out a hand to Richie. "C'mon, I don't know about you…but I could do with some food."