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.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Jon sat across the table from Beth and watched her discretely; at least he thought he was being discrete. They had all finished an impromptu lunch and hour or so before, and now a few of them sat around the table nursing steaming cups of coffee. Frankie had excused herself and drifted off into another room of the house. Jon had followed and set her up with a movie on the large screen in the living room. Of course she had resisted, but she was now curled up contentedly on one of the many couches as if it were the most natural place in the word for her to be. Dot had come downstairs to eat, and then had returned to her 'chores' upstairs.
Beth looked up from her cup to find Jon staring at her absently. She offered him a brief unconvincing smile then turned to gaze out the window at the serenity of the flowing river. The press conference was due to begin in just a little over an hour and she was feeling sicker by the minute. Despite Jon and Paul's assurances that all would be fine, she couldn't fend off the butterflies that were presently swarming in her stomach.
"Beth," Jon had moved from his chair and was now standing behind her with a hand placed gently on her shoulder, "You're looking a little green honey. I'm heading out for a cigarette. You want to join me for some not so fresh air?"
"Umm…sure I guess." Beth rose from the table and grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair.
The pair walked slowly down towards the river, neither speaking at first, Jon taking care to keep the cigarette smoke away from her. When they reached the sloping bank of the river they stopped and gazed out over the water.
When Jon finally spoke, it was soft and calm…just like the slow flowing river. "Beth I really am so sorry about this. I should have been more careful. I never meant for it to happen this way… especially not today. I'm sorry that this has overshadowed what you tried to accomplish last night. That was a very good thing you did. I am so proud of you for pulling it all off."
Beth turned to look at him. And for the first time that day, she really looked. He looked tired, drawn. An almost constant scowl had taken up residence on his face, making the lines in his forehead more prominent. This was obviously having a greater effect on him than he was willing to admit. She instinctively reached out to comfort him, she wanted take him in her arms and tell him it would all be ok. Instead, she laid her palm on the side of his face, her fingertips threaded in his silky hair, her thumb smoothing his wrinkled brow, he turned into her touch and she suddenly realized the inappropriateness of even that small gesture. She dropped her hand to her side and turned away from him, taking a couple of steps closer to the river. If he needed comfort his wife was inside. At that thought a pang of unfamiliar emotion shot through her.
"Jon, I… this wasn't your fault Jon. It was inevitable. Granted, I think it could have been handled differently. But then presented with this as we have been…what choice did we have?"
Jon took the steps necessary to close the distance between them; he couldn't bear to be apart from her at the moment, even by mere feet. "I don't know Beth. I should have been more aware. I'm usually good at spotting them…the paparazzi that is. I just don't know what happened last night…" the anguish in his words had her turning to look at him, "But actually…you know I think that may be your fault..." he added his tone a little lighter, "if you didn't look so dazzlingly beautiful I wouldn't have been so distracted." He added a small chuckle in an attempt to disguise the weight of his words. She had enough going on. She didn't need to be dealing with his psychotic fantasies.
Beth giggled and blushed prettily. "I'm going to hold you personally responsible for the fact that I'll probably have to wear mascara on a regular basis now - if photographers are going to be lurking outside my door."
He chuckled then, a deep throaty chuckle that had him grinning and his eyes sparkling for the first time that day, "Yes well, I'll make sure you're well stocked with all the appropriate warpaint… even though you look just as beautiful without it."
Jon watched the color flood to Beth's cheeks as she offered him a small smile but she remained silent. Damn, that was taking to too far, he thought.
Beth gazed out over the river. Her mood was once again was serious when she addressed him. "You know this really isn't about me, Jon. I'm just so worried about Frankie. I mean I can deal with whatever I need to, and I suppose in the back of my mind I realized that you and Frankie forging a relationship with each other would inevitably end up becoming public at some point…I guess I just wasn't expecting it quite this soon."
"Look at me Bethie…"he hooked a knuckle under her chin and turned her face towards him but her eyes were fixed on the ground, "you have raised a tough kid. And I know that's not all genetics either. Frankie's gonna be fine and you're going to be too. You know I'm not just gonna leave you both to the wolves."
Beth looked up at him, and for the first time he could really see worry clouding her pretty eyes.
"Promise?" she asked, her voice almost a squeak.
"Awe Beth. I'm so sorry…c'mere." He drew her into the circle of his arms, his left around her tiny waist, his right cradling her head to his chest as he stroked her hair. "It will all work out fine…I promise. I will always be here to protect you, Beth. Both of you. You have my word on that." He drew back from her, enough only to lay a tender kiss on her forehead and look into her eyes. "I promise."
The place where Jon had touched his lips to Beth's forehead tingled and her thoughts drifted to the evening before and a very different kiss. Her lips parted almost involuntarily and her breathing was shallow. She could hear his heart thundering in his chest, just as her own was. Not for a second had his eyes stopped searching hers. He moved infinitesimally towards her before a familiar voice called out.
"Jon…I'd like to see you upstairs…ALONE!" Dot stood framed in one of the upstairs windows.
At the sound of Dorothea's voice Beth jumped instantly backwards as if Jon were a naked flame and she had been scorched.
"Oh fuck," Jon muttered under his breath. "We better get back in," he added to Beth, but she was already several paces ahead of him.
Jon entered his bedroom and braced for the tirade he knew was to come.
"I cannot fucking believe that you are doing this to me Jon, and in my own home." Dot's voice was low – knowing there were people in the house – but dangerous. "I knew you were capable of some pretty low things, but this really fucking tops it."
"C'mon on Dot give me a break. She just needed a bit of support...she's not used to this...it's tough on her." He defended.
"You keep telling yourself that Jon. Are you forgetting who you're talking to here? Fuck! I've known you since you were a kid. You may be able to fool the rest of them...but you can't fool me. I've seen that look before Jon…" her voice dropped so low that he had trouble catching what he said next. "It's the way you used to look at me."
He rolled his eyes. "Don't be absurd Dorothea."
Dot considered her husband intently for a moment, then let out a frustrated single laugh.
"What's so funny?" he asked irked.
"You are Jon." Dot replied shaking her head.
"Because I just realized…you haven't even admitted your feelings to yourself."
"And what would those feelings be?"
"You're falling in love with her," Dot said simply. "Aren't you, Jon? You can't hide it from me you know? I know you as well as I know myself."
"You're being ridiculous, Dorothea," he began, "I mean of course I care about her…she's the mother of my child"
Dot winced at the intimacy the statement evoked. Despite the circumstances she supposed it was true. For all intents and purposes this woman was Jon's daughter's mother. But she knew there was more to it than that. "No Jon, you've got that look in your eyes. I can't fucking believe I didn't realize it before now. Well… I guess I did…I'd just rather believe your denials."
"It's not like that, Dottie."
"Have you slept with her?"
"NO!!!" he denied vehemently.
"Have you kissed her?" This time her question was met only with silence. "I knew it."
Jon walked over to the window and looked down to the river, to the place where just minutes ago Beth had been in his arms. "You don't know anything, Dot."
Dorothea walked to stand beside him. "Why am I here Jon? I mean the last weeks we haven't had much of a marriage to speak of…yet you want me to stand beside you as if everything's perfect and face the press when we both know it's far from it."
"I want you by my side because you're my wife and it's where you belong."
Dorothea shook her head sadly. "No… I don't Jon. Not anymore."
"What are you saying?"
Jon could see the concentration on his wife's face before she voiced her well considered words. "I think I want a divorce."
"What? Dot, you're insane. This isn't the time." The last of Jon's frayed nerves snapped.
"You are about to go out there and announce to the world that you have a child that isn't mine. And a few minutes ago you were holding another woman in your arms. I'd say the timing's perfect." Dot said her demeanor cool and calm, belying the anger that roiled just below the surface.
Jon flushed, whether with anger or embarrassment Dot wasn't sure. "Dottie, c'mon please…you're way off base and I need to be focused today. You don't really mean it."
"Oh, I very much mean it, Jon. You and I both know our marriage is over."
"DAMN IT, Dot." He yelled, then lowered his voice his until it was icy and controlled. "You are pushing my buttons on purpose right now. You fucking know I've got to walk out there in front of a bunch of cameras in a few minutes and you're fucking doing this to me now?"
Dot stayed calm in the face of his anger. "I know the timing is unfortunate Jon…I'm sorry about that...and remember I will be walking out there with you...I committed to that and I won't back out on you but after what I just saw..." she turned to look out the window, as if the evidence would still be there for her to see, "well…I just can't pretend anymore."
It was almost as if he hadn't heard her. "Fuck you, Dot. You think you know me so fucking well, but do you really? This is fucking ridiculous. I have given you the whole fucking world, everything you could have possibly ever wanted and now at one of the most important moments of my life you want to pull this shit?"
"I never wanted the world Jon…all I ever wanted was you." Dot said sadly.
Jon bit down on his lip and turned away. It was true the only thing he hadn't been able to give her was himself. She had had to share him with his family, with the band and with their millions of fans. He had missed birthdays, anniversaries and even funerals. He couldn't deny that he hadn't been there.
Dot placed a hand lightly on his shoulder, now more frustrated than angry, "For fucks sake Jon will you listen to me? I am not walking away from you...though god knows I should...I should have a long time ago. But I will hold your hand and I will walk out there with you as if this is the most natural thing in the world."
"It is the most natural thing in the world. You are my wife damn it." He turned and evaluated her for a moment. He couldn't fathom the motive behind this latest stunt. "Is there someone else Dorothea? Is that why you're doing this?"
Dot took a step back as if he had physically struck her, "After what I just witnessed down there, you have the nerve to try to turn this around on me. Fuck you Jon." She spun on her heal and walked away from him, heading for the door.
"I gave the woman a hug for God's sake." Dorothea was now at the door her hand on the knob, "Dorothea, God Damn it…please," his voice turned pleading, "seriously…I'm begging you here...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that… I'm just…I'm trying to understand. Can we talk about this?"
"There's nothing to talk about Jon. Until you can be honest with me there is no point."
"What do you want me to fucking say?" He honestly had no idea what she was expecting of him. In all their years together she had only once called him on a relationship with another woman. It had been a long time ago and had resulted in them spending a short time apart…but they had worked it out. They always worked it out.
"Just the truth Jon."
"I've told you the truth." He insisted.
"You know what Jon...I have given you thirty years of my life, four gorgeous kids and all the support you could have dreamed of, even when you didn't deserve it. I have turned the other way in the face of your infidelities and have stood by you regardless, and you still stand there before me now and lie." She said incredulous.
"I am not having this conversation with you right now. This is fucking bullshit." Jon was not usually one for avoidance but in this instance it was the only response that seemed safe.
She didn't want to do it, but Dot needed the truth so she pulled out the only card she had. "That's fine Jon...I'll just wait up here until everyone is gone before I head back to the city."
"What the fuck are you talking about? You're gonna back out now? After you promised me?" a hint of panic evident in his tone.
"I have asked one thing of you Jon and that's your honesty. If you can't give me that…" she let he words trail off, leaving the threat open.
"What the fuck do you want me to say? What exactly are you trying to get me to admit? Because I'm at a fucking loss." That's it play dumb…maybe it will all go away.
"Are you...really Jon?"
"Dorothea, can you put yourself in my place, I just found out I have another kid for fuck's sake. On top of that her mother - that I loved a great deal - is dead, and I feel responsible for that because I should have been there for her. Do you have any idea what the fuck this is doing to me?" Can you stoop any lower…the sympathy card now, he chided himself internally. "Frankie hates me, and all I want to do is get to know her and Beth is…well she is the only sane thing in all of this mess."
"Jon tell me something, how am I supposed to know any of this when you don't talk to me?"
"I don't want to burden you with this bullshit Dot. You've got enough on your plate, besides you freak out over anything to do with Gina any way."
"Oh, so a few minutes ago I was your wife. I had a charmed life and now I have too much on my plate." Dot shook her head disbelievingly, "You can't have it both ways, Jon. It seems I'm just a convenience for you. Here when you need me to get you out of yet another hole your dick has dug you into."
"What the fuck, Dot? I have not slept with Beth." Jon insisted.
"That wasn't the hole I was referring to. I was actually referring to the one you dug with Gina… funny how your thoughts went straight to Beth though."
"Oh for fucks sake…she is a friend. We are friends. If she heard this conversation she'd be absolutely mortified. She is Frankie's mother. She's a grieving widow."
"Oh please." Dot retorted. "You keep telling yourself that Jon. She looks at you exactly the same way you look at her."
Jon rolled his eyes impatiently, "And what look is that?"
"Like I said before, Jon..." Dot said a little sadly, her regret evident, "it's the very same way we used to look at each other."
"Trust me Dot…Beth does not think of me that way. Hell at this moment she probably is wishing she'd never laid eyes on me." God I hope that's not the truth.
"If you believe that you're not as smart as I've given you credit for."
"Whatever Dot…" Jon said dismissively. "Look, the press are gonna be arriving any minute now. We can talk about all this later. Seriously I will answer whatever question you want to ask me, as honestly as I can but right now I need you out there with me and I don't need the distraction of thinking about all this bullshit." He desperately wanted to terminate the conversation.
Dot wasn't having any of it. "If you want me at your side, Jon...I need to know where I stand. I need the truth."
"Tell me what you're asking? I can't read your fucking mind."
There was a long pause before Dot finally spoke. When she did it was barely above a whisper. "Are you falling in love with her?"
"I don't even know what falling in love means. You're the only woman I've ever been in love with…well except…" he wouldn't speak of Gina now. He could see how much it had cost his wife to ask him the question.
"Damn it Jon! Stop being so fucking evasive...be honest with me...be honest with yourself."
"What the fuck do you want me to say, Dot? Am I attracted to her? Yes! But hell I've been attracted to other women before, it doesn't mean I'm fucking falling in love with her. Maybe I'm falling deeply in like with her. Is that possible? Does that make you happy?" Jon raked his fingers through his hair. He patted down his pockets. Damn he'd left his cigarettes on the counter when he walked in. What he would give for a cigarette.
"Why would any of this make me happy?" Dot asked sadly.
"Well hell you keep trying to pin me down here. I'm still trying to figure out how you can fucking read my mind. I mean hell, Dorothea, can't you see that I'm confused? I'm fucked up as shit about this. I can't fucking think straight. I want to know my daughter. That's what I want…and…and Beth …well she's just all wrapped up in that. I can't tell you I'm falling in love with her because I don't know that. I mean maybe my feelings for her are just about …I don't know…about wanting Frankie to love me."
"Jon, stop!" Dorothea interjected.
"Stop what? You wanted me to be honest with you that's what I'm trying to fucking do." He said his annoyance evident.
"Stop talking damn it and listen. Do you realize that in denying your feelings you are sabotaging all of us. We haven't been intimate for months, yet I come into your room to find you're having wet dreams and they sure as shit aren't about me. And let me guess…your "friendship" with Beth has alienated your daughter. You should have seen her looking between the three of us down there. She knows what's going on Jon. She's a smart kid. It seems to me that the only people here that can't see the truth of it is you and Beth. I don't know Jon…maybe you're too close to it and just can't see it for yourself." Dots words flowed rapidly from her mouth. It was as if saying them fast would make it less painful…it didn't.
"Dottie she's a widow. I know how much she loved her husband…still loves her husband. She is still grieving for him and she's so fucking pissed off right now that all this happened and it tarnished this big evening she planned to remember him. She doesn't want anything to do with me."
Dot raised an eyebrow. "Oh...is that what her arms wrapped around you was saying? I must have my body language confused."
"She's nervous. She just needed comforting. She hasn't ever done this before…and I have."
"I haven't done this before either Jon...I don't see you comforting me or asking me if I'm ok...you just take it for granted that I am...that I always have been." Dot pointed out.
"Because you always are Dot. You've never needed me to comfort you. That's why we work."
"But that's the thing Jon...we don't...not anymore." She said poignantly.
"And it's all my fault huh?" Jon asked defensively.
"NO...of course not. Oh hell Jon…"
"I mean I guess I'm just trying to figure this out. Fuck Dottie you've always been my best friend, before everything else…I miss that. I miss us. I can't imagine my life without you in it."
"Jon..is being best friends enough to make a marriage work?" She asked.
"It's worked ok so far." He offered hopefully.
"It's not enough Jon. Not for me. Not anymore. I love you. In the words of a really famous lyricist I will love you… always." Jon smiled and shook his head disbelievingly, she even managed to joke at a time like this… that was his Dotti alright. He felt the sting of tears prickle his eyes, "But Jon…I can't do it anymore. I will support you. I will be there for you. I will always be your best friend…but please Jon…please be honest with me…please tell me you know we're over."
Jon sighed heavily, "I don't want to say that, Dot…I can't…"
Dot placed a palm gently on his cheek, as tears were gliding silently down hers. "Don't make me do this alone." Her voice finally cracked on the last word.
"Shit, Dorothea…why? Why do we have to do this now?"
"Because its time, Jon."
Jon bit down on his bottom lip in an effort to stop it quivering "Damn it. Why is it that you're always the stronger one?"
"You gonna sing 'Stay' for me now?" Dot attempted a smile but her hand flew to her mouth as she choked back a sob. It was a song he had written for her - it seemed like a lifetime ago - in a circumstance very similar to what was playing out between them now.
Jon moved forward and drew her into his arms, holding her tightly to him. He drew back and bought his mouth down on hers. The kiss was bittersweet. Each could taste their combined tears, in an act so familiar, an act they had performed countless times, but yet now felt so foreign…wrong somehow. There was no passion here…no longing…only goodbyes. Dot pulled away first and rested her head on his shoulder. They stood entwined in each other's arms a long time before she spoke. "We better clean up and get down there. I'm sure the press are arriving."
Jon did not move. Again he looked out to the garden where he had stood with Beth, a confused look had settled on his face.
Dot had moved away from him only a few steps, when she paused. "Jon…you coming?"
"Dottie… can I just ask you one thing?" She nodded "Why do you think Beth feels the same way about me?"
"How could she not Jon?" her expression was perplexed.
"That's not what I asked. If you're assuming every woman falls in love with me just because I'm Jon Bon Jovi…that's certainly not the case."
"Of course I'm not. I've never assumed that."
"Then why do you think this, because I don't see it. I see a grieving widow who is tolerating me because she wants to make sure I'm not gonna fuck up her daughter somehow."
"Don't you see Jon…I can see it because I've felt it. I've been head over heels in love with you for the larger part of my life." Her expression was soft, an echo of the love she spoke of.
"You think she's in love with me?" he asked doubtfully.
"She's falling." Dot replied simply.
"Why? How do you know this?"
"If I ask a question will you answer me honestly?"
"Of course." He insisted.
"I think your silence confirmed this for me before, but I will ask again to make sure I didn't misunderstand. Have you kissed her?"
Jon closed his eyed and looked away. He couldn't bring himself to look into Dots eyes. He sighed heavily before he answered. It was a single word, "Yes."
Dot didn't even flinch. She knew what the answer would be. "Did she kiss you back?"
Jon sighed, this wasn't really a conversation he wanted to have with his wife…but then he had asked the question. "This is not eighth grade, Dorothea. Of course she kissed me back."
"Well Jon…Don't you think a woman who was merely tolerating you, a woman who was grieving, would have maybe pushed you away."
"It was very quick. I think maybe she was just surprised."
"OOOHH MEN!" Dorothea let out an exasperated sigh, "you are so blind."
"What?" he offered half a smile under a furrowed brow.
Dot retrieved the article from her purse and offered it to him. He took it from her tentatively. "Does this look like a woman who is tolerating something to you? Because seriously Jon to me….it looks like she is on cloud nine."
"You really think so? Are you sure it's not just seeking comfort? I mean it was an emotional night for her." He asked an edge of excitement and hope in his voice.
Dorothea winced despite herself, "Ok buddy, I know I said I'd be supportive but can you tone down that hopefulness just a tad. This is still a little raw you know."
"Oh Christ Dottie…I'm sorry." He said apologetically, "I don't deserve you. I never have."
"See now there's that intelligence I knew you possessed showing its self...and just when I was losing hope." She answered mockingly.
Jon chuckled lightly then sobered. "Dottie what are we gonna tell everyone?"
Dorothea drew in a few short ragged breaths. Her words came out on a sob. "Oh God Jon, what about the kids?"
"Do we really want to do this?" He asked self-doubt plaguing him. It was a wholly uncomfortable emotion for a man who was always so self-assured.
"Want to NO. Is it the right thing? ...I think so. But Jon, ...those poor babies."
"God…" He rubbed a hand across his forehead, as if he could erase the whole situation, "we need to figure this out together…"
Dot looked to the door, "But now isn't the time to do that."
"No it's not." He said shaking his head gently, "Dottie…just so you know, no matter what, I'll always be here for you. You will always be the love of my life."
"And you mine."
"I know we've grown apart and it's mostly my fault but no matter what, if you need anything, I will always take care of you." Jon assured her.
"Oh god Jon, no...There is no blame in this. Not this time. I knew the deal when we took our vows. I knew then that it would be a lifetime commitment, the job and the marriage, and I knew what came with it."
"I still don't deserve you."
"Yeah you do...despite your faults you're a good man Jon." Dot insisted.
Jon half laughed, "If only I could get Frankie to see that."
"You've done well by me and the kids. And you'll do well by her, and I will do my best to help you with that but Jon...you're going to have to be a little patient with me here. I've accepted the truth...but that doesn't mean that I'm always going to like it. It's…it's hard watching you with your new family." A certain amount of anguish had crept into her voice.
"You will always be my family, Dorothea."
"I know that… on some level at least."
"Beth is going to be devastated when she hears about this."
They were not words that Dot had hoped to hear, but her curiosity got the better of her. "Why?"
"Because she will likely feel like she, or at least Frankie, and timing, is responsible." He said.
"I'll talk to her when the time is right. Let her know this was a long time coming. For now though...well… we can keep this to ourselves just a little while longer." As Dot spoke a concern came to mind. "Ummm Jon..."
"Have you referred to the status our marriage in the press release?" There was a certain amount of alarm in her tone that had Jon turn to look at her.
"No…why?" He studied her face and noticed the worry etched there.
"Well the last thing we need is to look like liars in a couple of months when we leak this to the press." Dot expressed.
"I think it says you are here to offer support…refers to you as my wife…but it doesn't say we are living happily ever after…if that's what you mean." Jon assured her.
Dot let out a little sigh of relief, "Ok good. Well I guess it's time to face the lions. I'm just going to freshen up. I'll meet you down there?"
"No problem…and Dottie…"
"I love you."
"Love you too babe. Now go. Paul will be panicking about now." She offered him a small reassuring smile, but behind the façade her heart was shattering into a million pieces.
Jon offered her a small smile in return and slipped out the door. He rubbed his face and went into the bathroom to inspect the damage. He stood before the mirror and assessed his appearance. He looked like shit, but fortunately it was nothing that a pair of sunglasses couldn't disguise. He removed them from the collar of his shirt in preparation for the impending onslaught. Though after what he had just been through, this should be a walk in the park. His marriage was over. He could hardly believe it himself. He and Dot were through, and a piece of his heart was gone forever.