Well I went and did it again. I got involved in yet another interactive fan fiction story. This time, my character was paired with Richie (much more to my liking). That story wrapped in early November 2008, and I had been asked to assemble the "story posts", that is, the posts that tell Richie and Jen's story, in one place for people to read.

So I'm doing it.

I'm having to add some filler as I go, as there were lengthy pauses between the verbose posts I made, but I'm trying to keep the flow of the story going.

The Richie/Jen story is only half of the fan fic project. The other half was a Jon/T story. That is not explored here at all. In fact, very little mention is made. Just enough so it isn't a surprise when T shows up at various points.

If anything is confusing, please let me know. I've been living this character for the better part of the last eight months, and her memories are mine. I forget, sometimes, that you all can't see into my head.

I hope you enjoy the story. It starts here.

~ Hath

New Orleans Bound

Thursday, July 30, 2009
The following morning, the doctor cut right to the chase. "Jennifer, there's some great news, some really great news, and some less-than-great news."

Jennifer groaned. "Great," she said sarcastically. "Lay it on me."

Dr. Karp smiled indulgently and consulted his notes. "The great news is that you don't need surgery."

Richie let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "That's wonderful!" he said. Jennifer just gave him a look. She wasn't going to celebrate anything until she heard the rest of it.

"The really great news," the doctor continued, "is that you didn't tear anything but soft tissue. All your tendons and ligaments are completely intact, just a bit stretched out. All you did was dislocate your kneecap."

Jennifer rolled her eyes. "What's the punch line, doctor?"

He chuckled. "Well, that's the not-so-great news. We have two options for treatment: cast or brace. The cast will guarantee that the knee doesn't move around while the soft tissue heals. The brace will be better from a showering and itch perspective. You would just have to be diligent in keeping your leg straight when the brace isn't on."

Jennifer thought about it. "Which one is better for travel?"

The doctor frowned. "Where are you going?"

"New Orleans for the Arena Bowl," she said.

Richie interjected, "On a private plane." Jennifer just gave him a shocked look, which he ignored. "We can make sure she spends the whole flight with her leg up, and she won't have to worry about cramming into a commercial seat."

The doctor laughed at Jennifer's reaction. "Well, in that case, either would be fine, it'd be her preference."

The two men looked at Jennifer expectantly. She sighed. "I guess the brace. I want to be able to scratch and shower and all that good stuff." She smiled. "This is going to wreak havoc with my tanning."

The doctor made a notation in the chart and excused himself. "I'll go call the brace guy, and be right back. He'll come out and do a custom fitting."

"At my house?" Jennifer asked.

"Not sure," the doctor answered. "Either there or he'll have you come in here. I think he lives not too far from you, though, so he may be able to come to you. I'll find out." The doctor left Jennifer and Richie alone.

Jennifer turned to him, raising an eyebrow. "Private plane? Really?"

Richie laughed. "Yes, a private plane. Why are you so dead set against me doing things for you?"

Jennifer looked chagrinned. "Sorry, baby," she said. "I'm not used to people, men, doing things for me without some ulterior motive, and frankly, I don't want you to feel like you HAVE to do things for me because of who you are." She smiled sheepishly. "I guess I'm just used to taking care of myself, and this is very hard for me."

"You know," Richie said, chuckling, "one of the perks of dating a rock star is getting star treatment." Jennifer laughed, and Richie continued. "You don't have to worry about me thinking you're taking advantage. I know you're accepting help under duress."

The doctor came back into the room. "The guy should call you today or tomorrow. If you don't hear from him by Wednesday, call us back. I'll see you again in three weeks, unless something comes up. Okay?"

"Will I have the brace by Thursday?" Jennifer asked. "We want to fly out Friday morning."

"Shouldn't be a problem," the doctor answered.

Jennifer was subdued on the ride back to her house. She had her sunglasses on, though the afternoon was overcast, and she was staring sightlessly out the window. This was going to be a colossal pain in the ass. She wanted to be able to go out and have fun with everyone when they went to Louisiana. Now she wasn't so sure she could do that. The game wouldn't be a problem, as she'd be in the owner's box, but all the rest of it...

She was looking forward to strolling around Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.

She had the perfect dress picked out for the ArenaBowl Awards Gala Friday night, but she wouldn't be able to mingle with Richie, and he'd feel honor bound to sit with her at their table.

She was looking forward to following the parade on Saturday and the party afterwards.

She could still do the Commissioner's brunch with Rich, but damn, again, he'd be tied to her side, when he should be enjoying himself.

She sighed, and surreptitiously wiped a tear from her eye.

"Rich," she started, "I think I should bail on the weekend."

Richie was shocked. "Why? I think if we're careful, everything will be fine." She told him why she thought she should stay home. Richie was quiet for a minute. "Listen, do you WANT to go?"

"Of course I do," Jennifer said, "but--"

"No buts," Richie interrupted. "If you want to go, and the doc said it was okay, then you'll go. We'll adjust. It's not a big deal."

"But you--"

"I said, no buts, missy," Richie tried a glare, but it came off as more of a constipated face, and Jennifer laughed. "Really. You can stand with me for a while, and we'll make sure there's always a chair nearby in case you need to rest."

"Are you sure?" Jennifer asked. "I don't want to spoil the fun."

"You'd spoil it by not coming," Richie said. "I've been looking forward to this for a couple weeks now, and I would be sad if you didn't come."

They pulled into her driveway, and Richie keyed in the alarm code and cruised through like he'd been doing it for years. He pulled the car around to the back of the house, and helped Jennifer from the car. He wrapped her in a hug. "Say you'll come to New Orleans with me?" His eyes were earnest, and his smile was irresistible.

Jennifer smiled. “How can I resist this face?” she asked. “I’ll come, but no bitching from you.”

“No worries,” Richie said. “I have a feeling you’ll be bitching enough for the both of us.”

“HEY!” she said, thumping his chest. “That was mean.”

“Not mean, sweetie, just dead honest. You make a lousy patient.” He smiled, “except when you’re jet lagged. Then you’re mostly asleep, and really easy to take care of.”

“You bitch,” she said to him, laughing.

“You’re laughing because you know I’m right,” Richie said smugly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jennifer answered, as they went inside.

Hospital Trip

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Several days later, at 6:45 in the morning, Richie was sitting next to Jennifer in the waiting room at the MRI department at Norwood Hospital, yawning widely. She had finally called her doctor the day before, and he had yelled at her for not calling right after the accident. Dr. Karp was mortified to find out that Jennifer had been walking around on her injured leg for the better part of a week. He had called in a prescription for pain meds, and told her to be at the hospital the next morning. That night, Richie had asked Gail to take care of a few things at the house while he went to the hospital with Jennifer.

“The most important thing,” he had said, “is to arrange to have a table and chairs set up in the back field, near enough to the water to hear it, but she had to still have wifi signal.”

"I'll take care of it," Gail promised, knowing her friend was going to need wide open spaces when she came back from the hospital.

Now Richie was holding Jennifer's hand and they were talking softly about what they were going to do that afternoon. Jennifer let out a sigh. "I'm going to need to be outside for a while when we're done here," she said.

Richie understood exactly what she meant. He knew that she suffered from claustrophobia, and that this MRI was what they called a "closed" MRI, so she'd be sliding into the tube and going through three kinds of hell. He also knew she would do so without complaint.

"Jennifer?" a voice called from behind them. Jennifer clamped down on Richie's hand, the only outward sign of her terror. They stood and followed the technician, a 30-something named Jarrod, back to the room. Jarrod directed Jennifer to a "changing" room, where he had her leave her bag, take off her watch and leave her cane. Richie took off his jewelry and emptied his pockets as well.

"What are you doing?" Jennifer asked.

Richie just gave her a look. "What does it look like, babe? I'm coming in there with you."

The grateful look in her eyes was all Richie needed to see to know he was doing the right thing. He helped Jennifer hobble to the MRI room. Just the sight of that tan donut made Jennifer's heart race. Jarrod noticed and frowned. "Are you alright, miss?"

Jennifer just nodded. "Closed spaces aren't my favorite, but I'll be alright."

"We can sedate you if you need it," Jarrod said. "You have to stay perfectly still so we can get the readings right."

Jennifer shook her head vehemently. "No. No drugs; I’m still fuzzy from the codeine. I can do this."

Richie helped her up onto the table, and stood back while Jarrod got her positioned properly. He watched as the tech used padding to get her leg in a comfortable but useful position, then frowned when he taped her feet together. "So she doesn't have to concentrate on keeping them still," Jarrod had said. Richie could see sweat beading on Jennifer's forehead, despite the overly-cool room.

Jarrod handed Jennifer earplugs and a black ball. "The machine is loud, so you'll want the earplugs." Jennifer inserted them as Jarrod continued. "Squeeze this if you need to stop the test," he said. "It's attached to the machine, and is an emergency all-stop." Jennifer just nodded, her voice having left her. The tech looked at Richie. "Try to keep her calm," he said, "but try not to let her move. Stay in her line of sight, which for you means you need to stand flush up against the machine." He gave Richie a lead gown to wear. “Just in case,” Jarrod said.

Richie nodded and positioned himself as Jarrod had suggested. The table with Jennifer on it rose to be level with the machine, then slowly, it inched her forward. Jennifer's eyes squeezed shut. Richie watched her legs and torso disappear into the hole, and saw the tension in her hands. They were clasped together on her chest, and her fingers were white with the pressure with which they were holding onto each other. Richie reached out and rested a hand on her forehead, and leaned down to her. He pulled out the earplug and said, "I'm right here. You can feel my hand on you, and if you open your eyes, you can see me. Be strong. I love you."

She slid the rest of the way in, only her head and neck sticking out from the end of the machine. Richie stayed by her side, his thumb stroking her forehead. A disembodied voice filled the room. "The first series will take about 90 seconds," it said. The machine clicked a few times, then rapid clacking noises filled the room for a good minute and a half. When they subsided, Richie leaned down to kiss Jennifer's forehead.

"You're doing great, baby," he said.

The voice was back. "OK, you're doing great, the next one is longer, about five minutes. Here we go."

Richie counted off the seconds, knowing that Jennifer was doing the same thing. She wasn't moving a muscle except to breathe, but the sweat was still forming on her brow, and her eyes were squinched so tightly, he knew she'd be seeing stars once she opened them. Finally, the five minutes were up. Jennifer opened her eyes briefly, and Richie smiled down into them. "You're being so brave," he said.

"I love you," Jennifer mouthed.

"I love you, too," Richie said. The bed moved a little deeper into the machine then, making Jennifer sob. Now only the top half of her head was fully out of the machine. She made a whimpering noise in the back of her throat that tore at Richie's heart. "Do you need to stop?"

"No," she said softly, barely a breath. "It's gotta be almost over."

One last time, the voice came through the speakers. "Two more series. The first will be four minutes, then you'll come out a little bit and we'll do six minutes. Then you're done. Hang in there."

When they were done, and the table started to pull all the way out, Richie breathed a sigh of relief. When the table came to a stop and lowered back down, he expected Jennifer to jump up and off it so fast it'd make her head spin. But she didn't move.

"What's wrong, baby?" Richie asked, concerned.

Jarrod bustled into the room. "You did really well," he said cheerfully. "Do you need help getting up?"

Jennifer nodded, and each man took an arm and gently lifted her to a sitting position. Jennifer promptly started to fall, and Richie caught her against his chest.

"It's not uncommon," Jarrod said, "for someone, especially someone claustrophobic, to feel a little dizzy. Take all the time you need until she feels better."

Richie was rubbing Jennifer's back and murmuring to her. Slowly, Jennifer straightened, and opened her eyes. "Am I done?" she asked shakily. Richie nodded and helped her down from the table. He led her back to where they had left their things, and brought her outside. They sat on a bench for a long time, letting Jennifer get some air. He saw her finally start to relax, and let out another sigh. "I need to go get the car," Richie said, "will you be alright?"

Jennifer nodded, and Richie sprinted across the parking lot to the car. He tore around to pick her up, and they left the hospital behind, top down, and wind streaming all around them. Jennifer laid her head back on the headrest and closed her eyes, letting the wind and sun wash over her. When they got back to the house, Gail was waiting on the front porch. "She alright?" she said softly to Richie, who just nodded. Richie scooped Jennifer up out of the car and carried her through the house and out the back. He crossed the patio and descended the steps into the yard. He didn't stop until he saw a wrought-iron table and matching padded chairs set up in the shade near the pond. He set her gently onto one of the chairs, and raised her leg so it was resting on an adjacent chair.

"You comfortable?" Richie asked.

Jennifer nodded. "Thank you," she said, reaching for him. He knelt in front of her, and hugged her close. "Thank you for not leaving me in there alone."

Richie held Jennifer tighter. "Anytime you need me, anytime at all, all you have to do is call my name." He chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Jennifer asked, pulling back to look into his eyes.

Richie laughed a little more. "I'll be there for you," he said.

Jennifer tried to hide the smile, but couldn't. Soon, she was laughing along with him, and hugging him close.

Later that evening, Richie and Jennifer were settled in with a movie. “Okay, you two, I’m outta here.” Gail came into the family room and smiled at Jennifer cuddled up on Richie’s lap. She made jokes about them being lovebirds, but the whole time Richie had been here, close to a week now, he’d hardly let Jen out of his sight. He was always with her or within earshot, and forever touching her or kissing her, and she was giving it right back in spades. Gail smiled. They were so cute together.

“What the hell are you WEARING?” Richie exclaimed, eyes bugging out. “Jesus, Gail, where’s the rest of your dress?”

Gail had on an amethyst-colored mini-dress that barely covered her ass and dipped low enough between her breasts to show her navel piercing. She raised an eyebrow at him. "There's nothing wrong with the way I'm dressed, dad," she said.

“Don’t listen to him,” Jennifer said. “I think you look gorgeous. The Russians won’t know what hit them. You got your key?” Gail had gone to a local club that her friends Summer and Paul had recommended, and been literally swept off her feet by one of the Russians that owned the place. She was going out with him tonight.

“Thanks, sweetie,” Gail said, coming to give her a kiss. “And yeah, I’ve got the key in my bag. I’ll be home late. LATE late,” she added with a wink. “Have fun, you two,” she said, waggling her fingers at them. “Richie, honey, remember she’s injured. Go easy on her.” She winked and ran from the room.

Richie chuckled. “Subtle as a brick, isn’t she?”

Jennifer laughed. “Yeah, but I love her,” she said.

“More than me?” Richie asked, pouting.

Jennifer slid her fingers into the hair on either side of Richie’s face and brought her mouth to within a micron of his. She could almost taste the ice cream he had eaten for dessert on his breath.

“Not a chance,” she said, an instant before pressing her lips against his.

Richie groaned and wrapped his arms around Jennifer, shifting her just a little on his lap. He brought a hand up to cradle the back of her neck, and tilted her slightly so he could dip his tongue into her mouth. Jennifer stroked his tongue with hers, and purred happily.

Richie’s other hand unwound from around her waist and pushed up under her t-shirt to stroke her breast. He swiped his thumb across her nipple, and was rewarded with a breathy sigh. He broke the kiss to pull her shirt up and over her head, tossing it to the floor, and attacked her mouth again. Richie deftly unhooked her bra, and tossed it in the general direction of the shirts on the floor. Richie tore his mouth away to look his fill. “God, you are beautiful, baby,” he said huskily.

Jennifer smiled and grabbed fistfuls of Richie’s t-shirt, hauling it out of his jeans and yanking it roughly over his head. “You’re the one who’s beautiful,” Jennifer said, her mouth watering at the sight of Richie’s chest. She ran her hands over its broad, tanned expanse, and giggled when he flexed his pecs at her. She mashed her breasts to his chest and groaned. “Your skin is so warm,” she said, and plastered her mouth to his again. She roughly kissed her way across his jaw to his neck and earlobe, biting it gently.

“Damn, woman,” Richie groaned, and pulled Jennifer’s head back so he could bite and suck down the length of her neck. He bent her over his arm so he could get to her breasts, and sucked first one, then the other rosy peak into his mouth, worrying her nipples with his tongue.

“God,” Jennifer said on a moan. She shifted on Richie’s lap, needing to make room for the erection that was suddenly taking up so much room between them. “Take me to bed, Rich, please,” Jennifer begged, threading her fingers into Richie’s hair.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said, his breath coming in ragged gasps.

“So don’t hurt me,” Jennifer said. “Just fuck me.”

The heat in her voice and her words had Richie hotter for her than her kisses made him. “Sweet Jesus,” Richie said, standing and taking Jennifer in his arms. He carried her to the bedroom and gently stood her by the bed. He slid her shorts and panties down, helping her sit on the edge of the bed to slide them off her feet. He slid her back so she was against the pillows, and positioned her leg on the cushion she’d been using to keep it elevated. With a sultry smile, Jennifer slid her other leg to the end of the bed bending it at the knee.

She crooked a finger at him. “C’mere, baby,” she said, and licked her lips.

Richie grinned and dropped his jeans to the floor. He kicked out of them and crawled gently up onto the bed. He pushed into her slowly, feeling her slick walls expanding to take him in. Jennifer felt the warmth of his most intimate flesh filling her and sighed. When Richie was fully seated, he stopped. Jennifer opened her eyes and looked into Richie’s chocolate pools, drowning in them. “I love you, Jennifer,” he said, and started a slow roll of his hips.

“I love you, too, Rich,” she answered, and grabbed his head for another kiss.

Richie stroked slowly in and out of her, hearing her breath hitch. He could feel her tightening around him and his head swam. She was so warm and so tight, it was heaven. “God, Jennifer, you feel so good,” he said to her, as his rhythm picked up.

“Ohhh, gawwwwd….Riiiiich,” Jennifer groaned, as the waves of her orgasm crept up and over her. Her eyes closed again, and her back arched slightly as the pulsing grew stronger.

When her muscles clenched around him, Richie grinned. “That’s it, baby,” he said. “Cum hard for me.”

“You too,” Jennifer answered, squeezing him tighter. Richie groaned and the veins on his neck stood out then he was emptying into her, a rush of hot cum pumping deep inside her. “Oh my sweet fuuuuuck…..” Jennifer growled.

When Richie was spent, he gently rolled off, but kept Jennifer tucked in close. He smoothed her hair back from her forehead, and kissed her temple. “How’s your leg?” he asked.

“Just fine my love,” she answered, though it was throbbing a bit. “Good enough for another go, “she said saucily.

“Give me a couple minutes and I’ll be happy to oblige,” Richie said with a smirk. “What’s gotten into you?” he asked her.

Jennifer laughed. “You,” she answered. “You make me feel so wanton.”

“Well thank God for that,” he said. “I do believe I like it when you talk dirty to me,” he whispered in her ear.

“Oh yeah?” she asked, pressing a kiss to his chest. “I do believe I like it when your fingers play over my nipples like they do your twelve-string,” she said, kissing him again, and feeling him start to stir against her leg. She smiled. “And I absolutely LOVE it when you make me scream when you drive your tongue into me.”

“And I do believe I’m ready to slide into your warm,” he kissed her cheek, “wet,” her eyelids, “heat again.”

“Bring it on, baby,” Jennifer said.

Hours later, when Gail came back, she saw the TV still flickering in the family room. She went in to give them shit about falling asleep in front of the TV and laughed out loud when she saw their shirts on the floor. Grinning, she picked them up, saw Jen’s bra halfway across the room, and snagged that too. She turned off the TV and went upstairs to her room, dumping their clothes outside Jennifer’s closed door on the way. She heard gentle laughter and muted voices behind the door, and scurried to her room before she heard something she didn’t want to hear.

“Lovebirds,” she snickered, and then went to bed.

Meeting the Family

Monday, July 20, 2009
It was pitch dark when Jennifer heard the warning beep of her house alarm. Hath smiled, and hoped Gail remembered the code before the alarm went off. The other woman had gone out for drinks with friends several hours ago. A few moments later, she heard heavy footsteps in the hall, and her heart started to pound. That wasn’t Gail. Then she heard Gail’s scream.

Jennifer scrambled out of bed, grabbing her cane for support. She opened her bedroom door to find Gail wrestling with a man dressed all in black. Jennifer swung her cane and caught the man in the stomach. “Oof!” a familiar voice grunted. “Jen, dammit, STOP! It’s me, Rich.”

“Holy shit. GAIL STOP!” Jennifer yelled, to get the other woman’s attention before she hurt Richie any more. “Rich, what the hell are you doing here?”

He chuckled and rubbed his stomach. “Apparently getting the shit beat out of me.” He looked at Gail. “Damn, woman, you sure do throw a mean body block,” he said.

“Well, you scared the shit out of me, didn’t you?” she said indignantly. “You’re lucky you still have your balls! Call first next time.” After looking down her nose at Richie, she turned and stalked back to her room, slamming the door.

Richie and Jen looked at each other and burst out laughing. “Are you alright?” Jen asked, rubbing Richie’s abdomen.

“Just fine now that I’m here with you,” he answered. “I couldn’t wait to tell you ‘I love you’ in person,” he said, staring into her eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Jen answered, and leaned in for a kiss. Richie scooped her up and brought her into the bedroom, the door closing with a soft ‘click’.

Richie lay Jennifer gently on the bed and locked eyes with her. Slowly, he took off his clothes, stripping while she watched him with hungry eyes. When his erection sprang free, he saw a small smile crept across her face. He watched as Jennifer pulled her nightshirt over her head and tossed it to the floor. The coolness of the air-conditioned room made her nipples pebble and his cock swelled even more. He crossed to her, kneeling on the bed and positioning himself between her spread legs.

Richie started to reach over into the nightstand for a condom, but Jennifer stopped him. “Rich, I’m on the pill,” she said, coloring slightly.

Richie’s heart raced, and his eyes darkened. “Since when?” he asked.

“The beginning of this month,” she answered, putting her hands on his hips and drawing him closer. “It’s a safe time now anyway, but the hormones have kicked in. Rich, I want to feel you explode inside me. I want to feel the warm, silky length of you stretch and fill me.”

“Jesus,” Richie said, sliding up between her legs, her words exciting him. He nudged her opening with the tip of his cock, and Jennifer gasped.

“Yesssss,” she hissed, and her eyes fluttered shut.

“I love you,” he said to her, as the very tip of his cock slid between her swollen lips.

Jennifer groaned. “Oh, Rich, I love you tooooo.” The last word dragged out as he slid all the way home. She wrapped her arms around his neck and brought his face down for a kiss.

They stayed joined for a long time, Richie keeping his strokes long and slow while their tongues wrapped lazily around each other. At last, Jennifer let go of her orgasm, letting it flow through her. The ripples and clenching around his cock was enough to encourage Richie to let go too. He pounded hard into Jen, riding her wave until he crested, kissing her the whole time. When their hearts returned to normal, he slid out and off of Jennifer and settled in next to her. She snuggled her back against his front, pulled his arm around her and shut her eyes.

Richie stroked the underside of her breast until he fell asleep.

Shortly before one the following afternoon, Jennifer, Richie, and Gail piled into the convertible. Since it was a stick, Jennifer couldn’t drive, and Gail and Richie were arguing over who’d get to drive the fifteen miles to the Petruzzos’.

“I should drive,” Richie said, trying to grab the keys from Gail, “because I’m used to driving on the right side of the road. You aren’t.”

“Fuck you,” Gail retorted, “I’ve been doing just fine here thank you very much.” Her glare could have melted an iceberg.

“Guys,” Jennifer tried to interrupt, but they were having none of it. Sighing, she climbed into the backseat and waited.

“Gail, you are testing my patience, woman,” Richie said to her.

“Too damned bad,” she answered, her color getting high. “You should sit in the back seat with Jen and keep her company. Isn’t that why you came here in the middle of the bloody night?”

“Yeah, about that,” Richie said, rubbing his ass. “First of all, it was morning, and second, did you have to tackle me to the ground for Christ’s sake?”

Gail laughed evilly. “No, you idiot, I could have kicked your balls so hard they’d get lodged in your nostrils. And don’t forget, Jen hit you smack in the chest with her cane.”

“Yeah, and that hurt like a bitch by the way,” he said, turning to Jennifer, who was just sitting there with a smile.

“At least I didn’t break your beautiful face, lover,” Jennifer answered, and blew him a kiss. “Now, c’mon already and someone drive the goddamned car, and someone else come back here and let me put my leg in his lap.”

Richie glared at Gail, and climbed into the backseat. He gingerly took Jennifer’s leg and positioned it so her knee was bent slightly across his thigh. He leaned down to kiss her kneecap. “How’s it feeling, darlin’?” he asked her softly.

Jennifer chuckled. “Like someone smashed it with a hammer, actually,” she answered. “It’ll be fine. The codeine helped last night, and the ibuprofen and ice are helping immensely today.”

Richie was trailing his fingertips lightly around her knee and shin, making her wince. “You’re all yellowed here.”

“Yeah, my whole leg is bruised and sore as shit. You should have seen the sausage toes earlier.” She rolled her eyes. “Not a good look for me.”

Richie chuckled low in his chest. “I’ll bet I still woulda wanted to nibble on them,” he growled and leaned in to capture Jennifer’s mouth in a steamy kiss.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, knock it off you two,” Gail said.

“Hey, you wanted to drive, G,” Richie said gleefully.

Gail expertly navigated the few turns needed to take them to Casa di’Petruzzo. It was a modest Cape-style house at the end of a cul-de-sac: perfect for kids growing up. Jennifer and her brother and the other neighborhood kids spent hours playing in the street, safe in the knowledge that the only cars coming belonged to people they knew, and everyone drove slowly. Hours up on hours of kickball, neighborhood tag, and hit-the-bat were played on this street.

As the screaming yellow house came into view, a smile broke out across Jennifer’s face. No matter how old she got, coming home was always fun. Behind the old, rusted out basketball pole, the back gate was open, and Jennifer could see a slice of the pool. The cool, clear water looked inviting on this 80 degree day, and she sighed, just imagining how good it was going to feel on her over-heated skin.

The front garden was in bloom, the marigolds and pansies running along the border of the house. Along the side, sunflowers, still growing at only three feet high, lined up like soldiers. The smell of tomatoes and herbs wafted over the summer breeze from the back garden, and Jennifer knew it wouldn’t be long before she and her mother were making sauce from this season’s harvest.

Gail tooted the horn as the car pulled into the drive, and the side door opened. Jennifer’s mother came down the short flight of stairs. She was holding an enormous wooden spoon, which was dripping with moisture. “Jennifer!” she exclaimed, coming down the stairs. “How’s your knee, sweetheart?” She winced as she watched her eldest child struggle to get out of the backseat. She saw the tall, handsome man next to her whisper something in her ear, then watched as he rounded to her side of the car and lifted her as gently as a newborn from the seat. Jennifer kissed his cheek, and her mother’s eyes glistened at the look that passed between them.

“Hurts like a figlio di una cagna actually,” Jennifer said, making Richie laugh.

“Language, dear!” she admonished. “Swearing in Italian is still swearing.”

“Yes, Ma,” Jennifer answered, rolling her eyes. “Ma, this is Gail, the woman I was telling you about from England, and this,” she said, wrapping an arm around Richie’s waist, “is Rich.”

“Cari marito!” Jennifer’s mother shouted to her husband. “Come and meet Richard, your daughter’s boyfriend.”

“Richard,” Gail snickered.

Richie glared at her. “Cut it out or I’ll throw you in the pool.”

“Like to see you try it, Casanova,” Gail retorted. Richie made sure Jennifer was steady on her cane, and took a menacing step towards Gail.

“Don’t you DARE, Richard!” Jennifer’s mother said, pointing the spoon at him. “You aren’t too big for a smack on the rear with the wooden spoon.”

Richie raised an eyebrow at Jennifer. “Welcome to la famiglia,” she said to him, making him laugh. “Daddy!” she called, seeing her father emerge from the backyard. “This is Rich.”

The two men shook hands. “So you’re the one that finally has my daughter smiling all the time now?”

“Daddy!” Jennifer hissed.

Richie smiled and put his arm around Jennifer’s shoulders. “I’d like to think so, sir,” he said.

“Please with the ‘sir’,” Jennifer’s dad said. “I’m John, she’s Ma. Do you play cards?”

“I do alright,” Richie said, confused.

John nodded. “Good. Go take a dip and cool off, then we’ll break out the board.”

Jennifer groaned. “Can’t you at least let us get all the way into the backyard before you have him playing Cribbage?”

There was much good-natured ribbing and arguing as the five made their way to the backyard. “Oh, Ma,” Gail said. “This is absolutely wonderful.” She took in the yard, all the landscaping, lounge chairs, and umbrella tables, and of course, the pool. “The water is clear as glass,” she commented, making John preen. She elbowed Richie. “Last one in’s a rotten egg!” she called, and kicked off her sandals, whipped her cover-up over her head, and took a running leap off the patio into the middle of the pool. She came up groaning. “My God it’s heaven in here.”

Richie helped Jennifer to a lounger, and took her sandals off for her. She removed her own cover-up, revealing a modest one-piece Kelly green tank-suit. Richie pouted. “What, no bikini?”

Jennifer laughed. “Not here,” she said.

“What is that on your ankle?” Ma had seen the new ink.

“What do you mean?” Jennifer was trying to play stupid, but her mother was having none of it.

“Don’t give me that, Jennifer Elizabeth Maria Teresa Petruzzo.”

Gail laughed from the pool. “Uh-oh, Jen, she used the full name, you’re in the shit now!”

“Gail? Language dear.”

“Sorry, Ma,” Gail said, then dove back underwater.

“Ma, it’s just a little ink,” Jennifer said. “Gail and I had them done.” She held up her leg for her mother’s inspection.

Jennifer’s mother sighed. “At least it’s tasteful,” she said, and went back into the house.

Richie toed off his sandals and scooped Jennifer up in his arms. “Ready?” he asked her.

“Of course,” Jennifer said. Richie carried her down the few steps into the pool, sighing as the cool water crept up over his skin. When he reached bottom, he let Jennifer go, and she hopped a few steps to the edge of the shallow end, and gracefully glided across to the other side of the pool. “Gawd, that feels wonderful,” she said.

Smiling, Richie followed. He caught up to her and held onto the side of the pool while Jennifer wrapped her good leg around Richie’s waist and kissed him. A splash of water had them sputtering and laughing. Gail had done a cannonball right next to them.

The three of them played in the water, swimming this way and that, always being careful not to jostle Jennifer’s leg. After a while, Jen got tired, though, and sat on the steps to watch Gail and Richie race back and forth across the pool. Gail was a strong swimmer, but Richie was just that much taller, so his fingertips hit the side first. While they were hanging off the diving board, arguing good-naturedly over who had won, her father sat on the steps next to her.

“So, Richard, huh?” he said. “He’s that musician guy, right? From that band you like?”

Jennifer looked at her father, surprised. “Yes. The guitarist in fact.”

“Is he nice to you?”

“Yes, Daddy, he’s nothing but nice to me. A bit overbearing in that he wants to do things for me that I can do perfectly well for myself, but he’s really quite wonderful.”

“Good,” John said. “And take a word of advice from your old man, cara, let him do things for you once in a while, even though you can do them for yourself. It makes us feel better when we can help our women.” He looked at his daughter. “It doesn’t mean you have to give up your independence, but let him do for you.”

“Alright, Daddy,” Jennifer said. “I guess I can do that.”

John kissed his daughter’s temple. “Good girl.”

After a while, Richie and Gail got out of the pool. Gail got into a heated game of Scrabble with John, complaining that of COURSE “honor” had a “u” in it, she’d been spelling it like that her whole life. Richie sat in a lounge chair with Jennifer on his lap, content to be just hanging out. Her parents were wonderfully normal, treating him and Gail like their own kids. It felt like being home.

“Sweetheart?” Jennifer’s mother called from the kitchen.

“Yeah, Ma?”

“We need stuff at the store. Do you feel up to it?”

Jennifer looked at Richie. “Up for it?” Richie shrugged. “Sure, Ma,” Jennifer answered.

They got up and got their shoes and shirts on, and Jennifer’s mother handed them a list. Richie drove them to the market, and Jennifer leaned heavily on the cart while they went slowly up and down the lanes, grabbing the things on the list. Soon, they had an assortment of vegetables for salad, fresh bread, pounds of steak and chicken, and different flavors of ice cream for dessert.

“This is a lot of food,” Richie commented.

Jennifer just laughed. “This is to supplement the pasta Ma’s making,” she said. “Ma only knows how to cook enough for an army. A family dinner when she was growing up was always 15-20 people.”

They made their way through the checkout and had their bags back in the car. Making their way up the street, Jennifer could see the back-end of her brother’s truck sticking out from the driveway. “My brother and his family are here!” she exclaimed happily.

“You really love your family, don’t you?” Richie said, kissing the side of her head.

“Of course!” Jennifer answered. “They’re wonderful!”

“I’d have to agree,” Richie said, as they pulled up in front of the house. Richie grabbed the bags after helping Jennifer out of the car, and the pair made their way to the house.

“I can’t stomach the idea of stairs,” she said. “Can you bring that stuff in to Ma?”

“Sure, love,” he answered, and kissed her again. When Richie opened the door, he heard soft guitar music playing. He instantly perked up, and quietly placed the bags on the counter. They’d be okay for a minute. He followed the sound to one of the back bedrooms that was set up as a small family room. There, he saw a large man playing a song for a gorgeous little girl. Jen’s mother was sitting on the couch, tears in her eyes.

The little girl looked up and saw Richie. “Who are you?” she said, pointing.

The man who was playing stopped and stood in one fluid motion, putting his body protectively between Richie and the little girl. Richie guessed this was Jennifer’s brother. “I’m here with Jennifer,” he said, and held out his hand. “Richie Sambora,” he said.

“I know who you are,” Jennifer’s brother said, relaxing. He shook Richie’s hand, and was staring at him wide-eyed. “She said she had a man in her life, but didn’t tell us who he – you – were. Holy crap.” The little girl had stood to hide behind her father’s leg. Jennifer’s brother stooped to pick up the little girl and hold her against his chest. “I’m John, and this is Joanna,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you.”

He waved to the little girl, making her smile. “What were you playing just now, man? It sounded good.”

John colored. “Nothing, just something I’m messing with. A song for Joanna.”

Richie smiled. A kindred spirit. “I’d love to talk shop with you sometime. I get kinda bored talking to the same guys all the time. New perspective and all that.”

“That would be great,” John said. “Uh, where’s Jen?”

“Shit, the groceries!” Richie said.

“Daddy, he said a bad word,” Joanna said with a giggle. “That’s a dollar, right?” She held out her hand.

Richie laughed. “A dollar for a swear word, huh?” he said, reaching for his wallet. John started to protest, but Richie put his hand up. “I did the crime, I gotta pay the fine, right, little Miss?”

“Right,” Joanna said smugly, clutching the dollar to her chest.

Jennifer’s mom laughed. “Come, Richard,” she said. “You can help make the salad, and I can interrogate you.”

John laughed, and clapped Richie’s shoulder. “Good luck with that, man,” he said. “Ma makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a harmless game of twenty questions.”

Ma slapped John across the back of the head. “Watch yourself, mister. You aren’t too old for…”

“The wooden spoon,” the three of them finished together.

“So,” John said to Richie, “She threatened you with it already?” He shook his head. “Man, you’re doomed now. C’mon, Bean,” he said to his daughter. “Let’s go find Auntie Jen.”

The inquisition with Jennifer’s mother wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. She asked him about his ex-wife and his daughter, and life on the road; things he’d expect the mother of his girlfriend to want to know. The last thing she asked him was, “Do you love her?” and he answered “Yes” right away with a wide smile on his face. “Good,” she had said. “Because I can tell from her face that she loves you, and I’d hate to see her hurt again.”

She shooed Richie outside, and he passed Gail on the stairs. “You survive the questioning?”

Richie smiled. “Yep. Where are you going?”

“I need to check my email, and I’m gonna help Ma with dinner.” She smiled. “Jen’s looking for you.”

When they sat down to dinner later, Richie looked around at Jennifer’s family. They had accepted him and Gail fully and without question – Ma’s questions notwithstanding. John’s wife, Susan, looked like she was going to choke on her drink when he finally was introduced to her, but Gail told her about his surprise visit this morning, which had everyone laughing. Soon they were all telling stories about Jennifer’s and John’s pasts, and Richie found himself telling some stories about himself when he was young, and some of the things Ava’s been doing.

He felt comfortable with these people, and felt like he’d known them his whole life. They were a normal, middle-class family who teased, annoyed, respected, and loved each other unconditionally, the way a family ought to. They reminded him very much of his own family. He felt lucky to be a part of their circle. He looked at Gail, who had a wistful look in her eyes that said she felt the same way.

Friends and Lovers

Friday, July 17, 2009
The next afternoon, when Richie was headed back to Jon’s place for “whatever the hell it is he has us doing today”, Jennifer hit the GPS’ button for home, and pointed her Tahoe north. Five and a half hours and six stops later, she pulled into her driveway. As she approached the gates, she saw a car she didn’t recognize waiting. She frowned and pulled alongside.

“Help you?” she asked.

The dark-tinted glass shushed down and Jen’s frown turned into a big grin. “GAIL!” She scrambled out of the car as Gail bolted from hers.

“Don’t move to fast, girl,” Gail said. “Don’t want you being all clumsy again.”

“Hey, it wasn’t my fault, you bitch,” Jen said, embracing her friend. “What are you doing here?”

“Cheryl called me on Friday and told me what happened. I couldn’t leave you to fend for yourself in this big old house, now could I?” She peered up the driveway. “Where the hell is your house?”

Jen laughed. “It’s up there, trust me. Hang on, and I’ll dial us in.”

The women went back to their respective cars, and Jen dialed in the code. The gate closed noiselessly behind them as they wound up the drive. After parking in front of the house, Gail got out and whistled. “Damn, you do alright, don’t you?”

“I manage,” Jen agreed. She started pulling bags from the back of the truck.

“Stop that right now!” Gail scolded. “You should be resting that leg, not toting luggage all over the damned place. Put it down.” Jen complied and Gail scooped up the bags. “Now, get your ass inside, carefully, mind you, and sit down. I’ll find the kitchen and get you some ice.”

Gail helped Jennifer into the house and whistled again. “Damn,” she said. “Now, where’s the kitchen?”

Later that night, the women were settled in upstairs. Jennifer had called in to work, telling them that she’d be working out of her home office for a few days. She made arrangements to have some work couriered home, and Gail had waited at the gate to collect the packages. The papers were spread all over the bed as Jennifer sat with her leg up on pillows. The swelling had gone down some, but it was still painful. Close to midnight, Gail went down the hall to her own room, leaving Jen in bed, working.

For the next couple of days, Gail helped Jen around in the house. She brought her gear down to the patio in the morning, and back inside in the afternoon. Jen talked to Richie several times a day, and he had taken to calling Gail as well, to make sure that Jen wasn’t overdoing it. Jen was grateful for the help and that they cared so much, but she was tired of being treated like an invalid, and extremely sick of being cooped up in the house.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” she said on Tuesday. “What do you want to do?”

Gail thought a moment. “I’ve been thinking of getting a new tattoo,” she said. “We could go do that.”

Jennifer laughed. “So not what I expected you to say, but sure, sounds good. Let me call my guy, make sure he’s got time for us today.” She made the call, and Bart did have room for them in the afternoon. After lunch, Gail and Jen headed to “Needles and Pins”, Jen’s favorite tattoo place. A huge hulking beast of a man greeted them in the waiting area.

“Jen! Glad to see ya,” he boomed, enveloping her in a hug. “Who’d you bring me?” He looked at Gail, his startling green eyes locking onto hers.

“Name’s Gail,” she said, sticking her hand out. “Aren’t you a big one, then,” she cracked.

Bart laughed and winked. “In every way possible, baby,” he said. “C’mon, let’s get you back in my chairs. What are you having done today?”

The girls told him, and he was disappointed that it was something so simple. “Aw, girls, that’s easy stuff. How about something more detailed?”

“You mean like a starburst on my breast?” Gail asked, winging an eyebrow.

“You ‘ve seen that? Some of my best work. The double-neck too.” He reached familiarly for Jen’s shirt, and raised it a little. “That one was a bitch to do; she wanted every detail perfect. Do you know how hard it is to ink tiny little studs like that?”

“Poor baby,” Jen said, rolling her eyes and yanking her shirt back down. “As I recall you got paid handsomely for that.”

“Yeah,” Bart beamed. “I did. OK, let’s get you ladies inked up.”

Several hours later, the girls were admiring their new ink back at Jen’s house. They had gotten the initials “SOTB” in flowing script inked just above their left ankles. Bart had rolled his eyes when they told him it meant “Sisterhood of the Brotherhood” and referred to the boys of Bon Jovi, but did a gorgeous job of it. They stayed outside, talking and laughing until it was far too dark to see, and the bugs had come out. Gail helped Jennifer back into the house and they settled into their respective beds.

Around 10:00 that night, Jennifer’s cell rang. It was Cheryl.

“JEN!” she shouted from 12th row at Madison Square Garden. “HERE’S YOUR RICHIE!”

Jennifer smiled and listened to Richie sing “I’ll Be There For You”. Again. Four shows in a row now. She shook her head, but still closed her eyes and pictured him singing. She saw the way his eyes shut and his head tilted when he sang “didn’t mean to miss your birthday, baby” and the beauty of his voice and the joy she heard in it made her eyes well up. When the song was done, Cheryl was back on the phone, talking a mile a minute.

“I can’t hear you but he looks amazing, and keeps looking over here at us to see if you’re here even though he knows you’re not; I think he misses you. Oh, gotta go, will call you later, love you, bye!”

Jennifer hung up the phone and sat back. Four shows in a row, he did that song. She knew that was one of his favorites; hell, Jon tells the crowd that every night, but she’d known that for years. Still, using that as his solo for four shows in a row was a bit much. She hoped for the sake of the fans at MSG, that he did something different for the last show. Thoughtfully, she pulled out her blackberry, and sent Richie a text.

Baby, you sounded great tonight, but pick another song for tomorrow if you don’t want a riot. I miss you fiercely. ~ J xx

On stage, Richie’s pants buzzed. He smiled; glad for once for all the weight he lost in Europe. The stage clothes he preferred were a little loose on him now which didn’t please the fans too much, but made it easier to keep his cell on him. He had a feeling it was Jennifer, and wanted nothing more than to duck down the stairs for a minute to see what she said. He knew he couldn’t though, but he had a sly smile on his face the rest of the show.

Between songs, when he went to the base of David’s dais to get a drink of water, David looked at his friend. “What’s with the grin?” he asked Richie.

“Jen texted,” Richie said.

“Man, you’ve got it bad,” David laughed, blowing Richie a kiss.

“I know, and fuck you,” he responded, his smile a mile wide. He went over to Jon and leaned in to talk directly into his ear. “Dry County,” he said. Jon just looked at him, and Richie nodded. Jon shrugged. Jon had wanted to put it in, but Richie had pushed back, saying his heart wasn’t in the right place to do the grueling solos the song contained. Now, with Jennifer’s words pressed into his thigh, he knew he could do it. He just hoped her friend called her for that song.

Jennifer was just drifting off to sleep again when the cell rang, startling her. “What?” she grumbled into the phone. Then she heard the licks. Her second most favorite solo of everything he’d ever done. Her very favorite was the solo in “Any Other Day” at the O2 in London – when Richie had started the long, slow climb out of the pit he had dug himself into. That would always be her favorite. But this? This was simply the best guitar work she’d ever heard. She put the phone on speaker and listened as Richie played the hell out of the solo.

After the bows, Richie waved to Cheryl and her friend, mouthing “thank you” because he knew they had called Jennifer throughout the show. They waved back and blew a kiss which he returned. Then the four men were clasping hands, and basking in the roar of the appreciative crowd. That sound, that feeling never got old.

As they made their way down the stairs and through the tunnel to the dressing area, Richie took out his phone. He saw Jen’s text and smiled. She didn’t know. Or she didn’t guess. That made his smile widen. He hit the speed dial button for Jen’s house phone. He didn’t want her cell service cutting out when he had something important to tell her.

The ringing phone woke Gail first. She answered the phone without thinking. “Right, then, what do you want in the bloody middle of the bloody night?”

Richie laughed. “Sorry, Gail, darlin’, it’s Rich. Is Jen up?”

“If she is, I’m going to beat her ass. She needs to stay off that leg.” Richie chuckled at the protectiveness of Jennifer’s friend. “I’ll go see if she’s awake; hang on.” She climbed out of bed, and padded down the hall. Pushing open the door of Jen’s bedroom, she saw her friend struggling to stand. “Sit your ass back down, missy,” Gail chided. “I’ve brought you the phone.”

“Thanks,” Jennifer answered, taking the handset from her friend. The house phone in her bedroom was across the room on the desk, and she had no idea how she was going to drag her butt over there to get it when her knee was all locked up.

“Hey, baby, that you?” Jennifer settled back into the pillows, and Gail snorted at the goofy look on her friend’s face. Jennifer flipped her off, a signal that Gail returned, then the other woman went back to bed.

“Sure is, darlin’. I miss you, and wish you would have let me bring you here.”

Jennifer sighed. “I miss you too, Rich, and you know why I couldn’t come tonight. But listen, you were absolutely amazing. Cheryl called for your song and Dry County. I can’t believe you guys played that! It was fantastic,” she said, then hesitated. “Did you get my text?”

Richie laughed. “Sure did, darlin’. So you think I should sing something different tomorrow?”

“Well, most of the people who are at MSG were at CP on Saturday, and many of those were in Boston. Not that it isn’t a gorgeous song when you do it, but I think they’d love to hear something different for the last solo of the tour, don’t you?”

“But baby,” Richie said. “I’m singing that song to you. For you.”

Jennifer’s heart stopped. “You are?” That thought hadn’t even crossed her mind. She just figured he sang it because it was one of his favorites, and told him so.

“It’s true that it’s one of my favorites,” Richie said, “but I’m singing it for you. I want to be your everything, Jennifer. I know it’s soon, but you’re the first thought I have in the morning, and the last thought before I go to sleep at night. I dream of you, and turn to you a thousand times during the day to tell you something, only you’re not there.”

Richie had moved away from the others, but Jon approached when he saw the emotions playing on Richie’s face. He was going to be pissed if Jennifer was saying something to hurt him. He came up beside Richie and put a hand on his wingman’s shoulder. When Richie raised his head, Jon was taken aback by the sheen of tears in his friend’s eyes. There was no sadness on his face whatsoever, though; just pure, breathtaking joy. Jon’s heart squeezed for his friend, and he backed away. Richie’d be alright.

“I want to be that for you,” Richie continued into the phone. “Dammit I wish I was there with you right now. Jennifer, I want you in my life, all the way in. I want you to meet my mother and my daughter. I want you to meet my friends and family. I want to meet your family. I want you to…. aw, hell, I just want you.”

Jennifer was sitting with tears streaming from her eyes. “Oh, Rich,” she said. “You wonderful, beautiful man. You are in my thoughts all the time and in my heart. I want nothing more than to be with you, to be in your life.”

Richie’s smile caught David’s attention, and he said, loud enough for Jennifer to hear, “Oh for Christ’s sake, man, just tell her you love her and come ON already! We have shit to do.” David cackled wildly.

Richie smiled. “He’s right, you know,” he said to Jennifer. “I do. Love you.”

"Oh, Rich," Jennifer said, tears in her eyes. "I love you too."

"I have some stuff to get through after the show tomorrow," Richie said, "then I'm coming to see you. Where will you be at around six?"

Jennifer laughed. "Home. Even for me, that’s a bit early to be at work. Actually, I’m having trouble walking, and don’t want to risk it on the train, so I’m working at home for a few days." Her heart was soaring. He was coming to her.

“You should go to the doctor, you know,” Richie said, concerned.

“If my knee doesn’t feel better in a couple days, I will,” Jennifer promised.

"You’d better. I love you," he said again.

"I love you too."

Birthday Present

Monday, July 6, 2009
Richie had a death grip on Jennifer’s hand in the elevator. She had noticed he pressed the button for the highest floor, and started to panic. Richie muttered under his breath, “relax, baby, we’re almost there.”

When the box dinged and the doors slid open, Jennifer was out as fast as her leg would let her. Richie led her down the hall to a set of tall double doors. He slid in his key card and flipped the doors open with a flourish. Jennifer went in and looked around, gaping at the opulence while Richie set their bags by the door.

The room was an enormous sitting room, with deep leather couches and chairs the color of a perfectly brewed Colombian coffee. Scattered among the leather were tables in mahogany and glass. Heavy lamps with damask shades muting the light sat on the end tables. The central coffee table was all but hidden with a spray of orchids that let out the most amazingly sensual smell. To her right, a fireplace dominated one wall, and Jennifer thought it was a shame it wasn’t cool enough to light it. And directly in front of her, the drapes were pulled wide, and the city was laid out like a tray of tasty treats, hers only for the taking.

“Damn, Rich, this is gorgeous!” she said, turning to look at him. “A little overdone, but absolutely stunning!”

Richie smiled. “What good is my money if I can’t spend it on someone I care about?”

“Touché, baby.” Jennifer crossed the yards of thick-piled carpeting until she stood near the windows; craning her neck to see down. Richie smiled and crossed the room behind her. He pressed his full weight against the glass to show her it was perfectly safe. Taking her hand, he silently urged her to approach the windows, and raised her hands to let her touch the cool, smooth surface. He eased her forehead forward until it touched the pane of glass and wrapped his arm around her waist.

“You make me feel so safe,” she murmured.

“I like being your protector,” Richie answered, kissing her neck. “Now,” he whispered directly into her ear, “I do believe I have a birthday boink to collect."

Jennifer laughed. “You sure do. There’s also the matter of that other present I was teasing you about.”

“You mean?” Richie’s eyes grew dark.

“Yep, I picked out some lingerie for you.” Her eyes sparkled devilishly. “Wanna see?”

“Does a bear shit in the woods?”

Laughing, Richie scooped Jen up and brought her to the bedroom.

“Oh!” she breathed as she looked around. The bedroom was as light and airy as the sitting room was dark and formal. The walls were done in pale peach chintz that was soft to the touch. The furniture in this room was a lighter wood, and their coverings bringing more to mind the Queen’s own rooms rather than the King’s study.

The bed, an oversized monster, sat calmly facing the windows. Again, the drapes were open wide, letting the New York night in. Richie tore the cream-colored spread from the bed, and yanked down the 600-thread count cotton sheets. He specifically requested cotton; silk or satin got too hot when he slept. A sweating ice bucket sat on one of the nightstands; the neck of a bottle of sparkling grape juice poking out. Jen smiled at that.

Richie set her gently down on the floor, and pulled her close, holding her against his body. She could feel the thick length of his erection pressing against her leg. “God, I missed this, Rich,” she said; embarrassed because it had only been a few days since they’d been together.

“I missed this too,” Richie said before his mouth descended on hers. Their tongues came together as if drawn to each other, and danced lazily as their hands roamed. Jennifer pressed hers up the hard planes of his torso to his neck, skipping across the chain at his throat. Richie’s glided down her back to cup her ass and pull her more firmly against him.

He pressed his hands upwards, sliding them under the hem of the silky-soft camisole Jen wore. He tickled her ribs before guiding the garment up and over her head. His breath left him when he saw what she was wearing. The briefest of strapless bras, woven from the thinnest deep purple lace circled her body. He could see her nipples pressing through the lace; the hint of dusty rose skin a beautiful contrast to the violet lace. The bra was held together by a hook in front that flipped open at the touch of his finger. The lingerie clung to her breasts for a moment, as if it didn’t want to lose contact, then floated gracefully to the floor.

“My turn,” Jennifer said, smiling. She slowly worked the buttons of Richie’s shirt until she could open the sides, revealing soft, tanned skin pulled across a broad expanse of muscular perfection. She slid the shirt over his shoulders and off his arms, tossing it behind her.

Richie took her in his arms and kissed her again, walking them toward the bed. He pulled the drawstring on her lounge pants and watched as they dropped to the floor. “Sweet HELL, Jennifer,” he said quietly as he took in the sight of her in royal purple panties.

“You like?” she asked, smiling wickedly.

“I’ll like them better when they’re nothing but torn bits of lace on the floor. Or in my pocket,” he said.

Jen just smiled and reached for Richie’s belt. She unbuckled it and pulled it roughly from its loops. After dropping it on the floor, she unfastened his pants, easing them down over his erection and pushing them as far as she could reach. He pushed and kicked at his jeans until they were flung someplace behind him, and looked at Jen again.

“Can I open my present now?” he said.

Jen nodded, licking her lips. “Sure, and you don’t even have to save the wrapping paper this time.”

With a growl, Richie grabbed the lace and pulled. With a soft tear, it broke free, leaving them both naked. “Now that’s a birthday present,” he said, looking her up and down. He scooped her up and lay her as close to the middle of the bed as he could reach, and climbed up after her. He stretched out beside her, his gaze traveling the whole length of her body. He took in her delicate feet, her toenails painted a sexy deep red. At least he thought it was red. Her long, slim, lightly-tanned legs begged for his touch, and his heart broke a little at the bruised and swollen knee. He traveled up to her smooth slender thighs and gently flaring hips. He spent some time lingering on her tat, HIS tat, and then moved on to her breasts. He tore his eyes away from the perfect pink nipples and the sexy starburst tat and continued up to meet her eyes.

“This is the best birthday present ever,” he said, leaning in to kiss her. “Let me enjoy it my way, okay.” All Jen could do, when faced with the passion and lust barely banked in those gorgeous eyes, was nod.

She tried to relax, but tensed up when his delicious mouth started to kiss the valley between her breasts. He toyed with the nipple on one breast while he reached into the ice bucket and extracted a single, melting ice cube. Smiling at Jen, he pressed the cold cube against her nipple, making her gasp.

“Oh sweet FUCK that’s cold,” Jen said, shivering and shuddering with pleasure.

Richie ran the cube lightly over her breast, watching the droplets of water bead up on her skin. He slid the cube slowly over to the other nipple, gliding it over the swollen tip. Jen hissed and arched under him, but made no move to push the cold away. He ran the cube over her overheated flesh until it was completely melted, and licked all traces of the water away.

Smiling down at her, he reached over for another cube, showing it to her. His eyes flicked downward then met hers again.

“Oh God! Not there!”

“But baby, you promised I could enjoy my present my way.”

Richie slid down the mattress and positioned himself between her legs. He pushed at them gently, urging her to spread them further apart, and bent his head to kiss her. He ran his tongue along her swollen lips, flicking the little gold ball out of the way. He spread her open wide with one hand while he touched the cube to her clit with the other. Jen cried out and she tried to push her legs together, but Richie was having none of it. He played with her for a little while longer, rubbing the ice cube over her clit and watching it melt. When there was just a little bit left of the cube, Richie slowly pushed it into her. The cold made her spasm, and her heat quickly melted the ice.

Jen couldn’t believe the sensations pulsing through her. Richie bent to lap at her, scooping up the water and her juices with his tongue. He was driving her close to the very brink of insanity, and she was loving every second of it. When he sensed that she was almost at the point of no return, he took her hard little clit between his lips, and sucked it firmly. She screamed and her hips rose to meet his face.

Richie abandoned her clit to drive his stiffened tongue into her. When Jennifer moaned in disappointment, he settled his thumb onto her button and massaged it while he tasted her musky juices. Jen was thrusting her hips now, practically fucking his tongue, wanting, NEEDING to feel him deeper.

“More,” she begged.

Richie quickly replaced his tongue with two fingers, driving them deep into her. He pounded her hard and fast, as fast as he could manage, and was rewarded with a silent scream. Jen’s whole body locked, arching hard from the bed. Richie leaned down to suck her clit into his mouth again, and the scream found its volume. He could feel her hands on his head; gripping his hair, pulling his face closer into her as she ground herself against his fingers and tongue.

“God, Rich. I – ” Jen’s ability to speak fled as the orgasm tore through her. Every nerve ending went dark except for those at the juncture of her legs. The nerve endings there went into hyperdrive; she clenched and spasmed for long exquisite minutes. Richie didn’t lett up until she slumped bonelessly to the bed.

Richie took his throbbing cock and started rubbing it with hard, firm strokes. Jen looked over with hooded eyes and watched him. She watched as it swelled even more in his hand, the wide red tip glistening with moisture.

“Rich, please,” she begged, reaching for him.

He smiled and reached for the nightstand; this time to grab protection. He sheathed himself and moved closer to her, cock still in hand. He lined it up with the entrance of her pussy and pushed, just the head of his cock, inside her. He pulled back again, teasing her with his tip.

“Please, Richie, no more teasing. Please.”

He couldn’t deny her, especially when he wanted nothing more than to be buried to the hilt in her. He started to slide in slowly, to allow her to stretch around his girth, but she was having none of it. She raised her hips and looped a leg around his waist, pulling him in. Richie savored the sensation her walls gripping him. He withdrew almost completely before sliding his hard cock back in and out of her; pounding her with hard, fast strokes. He leaned forward and sucked one of her nipples in his mouth.

Jen wrapped her fingers around his wrists, crying out as he bit down softly on her breast. He was banging in and out of her, slamming his cock deep into her, making her gasp with every thrust. She could feel the orgasm building up inside of her; could feel the familiar tingling in her clit. He could feel she was getting close again too.

“Please,” she begged. “Cum with me.”

Richie smiled. “It’s my birthday, darlin’, and I say you first.”

He reached between them and pinched her clit hard, making her scream and pulse. He kept up the pressure until her eyes rolled all the way back into her head and stayed there. Only then did he let himself go; levering up on his knees and pounding into her hard and fast. When his balls tightened, Richie leaned back and slammed once into Jen with all his strength. She screamed, neck and back arched so hard, Richie was afraid she’d hurt something.

“Jesus, Rich, do that again,” she croaked, arms flapping uselessly, trying to reach him but unable to do so.

Richie complied, slamming her again. With the third stroke, his legs and balls tightened even more, and it felt like the top of his head was going to blow off. Instead, he pulsed once then pumped endlessly into her, and groaned in relief.

With a loud grunt, he fell down on top of her, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

“That was the best birthday present,” Riche said, kissing her tenderly.

He smiled, listening to her panting, trying to get herself under control, still unable to make any sound other than a mewl. He looped an arm around her shoulders and rolled over onto his back, sighing contentedly as she snuggled in against his chest. Stroking the soft skin of her arm, he kissed the top of her head, smelling her hair and feeling the empty part of his heart suddenly feel full.

(c) 2008 by TheGoddessHathor

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