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

The End

Monday, May 24, 2010
No, gentle reader, this is not where I’m ending the story. I thought about it, just to be mean, to let you draw your own conclusions, but decided that I’m not quite done with you or this story yet.

No, I have a treat for you…. Well for some of you.

You see, this story has two possible outcomes, as you may surmise; one good, one not so much. I’ve explored both.

I’m trusting you, gentle reader, to do the noble thing; to read BOTH endings. After all, I toiled over each and every word in the original ending as well as in the alternate one, and they BOTH deserve to be read.

I warn you right now, I liked the original ending SO much that I considered not writing the second one. But, you see, my devoted, many of you begged me to please give Richie his Happily Ever After, and I couldn’t ignore you.

Oh dear.

I have said too much ~ I may have given too much away.

Ah well, you can’t un-ring a bell, as my Mama likes to say.

Please, do me a favor, read both endings.

And do me one more, and tell me honestly, which one you think was better written. Not which one you liked better, but which one you thought moved you more.

I know which one did it for me.

And now, gentle reader:

The End (Original Ending) The End (Alternate Ending)


Monday, May 17, 2010
Jennifer sat on the plane, iPod turned on, and her eyes closed. She had listened diligently to the emergency procedure spiel the flight attendant gave, and studied the card in the seat pocket in front of her. Now she sat, her knee bouncing slightly, and her hands washing each other in her lap. They were second in line for takeoff, and now all she could do was wait.

She did without the Xanax that usually accompanied her on airline trips, because she wanted to be all there when she got to LA. She still couldn’t believe she was moving in with Richie! And, if the hints he was leaving were right, he was going to ask her to marry him. She couldn’t wait to land.

The revving of the engines permeated through Richie’s voice singing Stranger, and she dialed up the iPod’s volume. The plane picked up speed, and Jennifer was thrown back against her seat. She made a small moan in her throat when she felt the plane lurch into the air, and gripped the hand rests like they were her lifeline. Her eyes squeezed firmly shut, and a tear trickled from the corner of one of them. She made a decision then. She wasn’t flying anymore. This was it. If she had to go back to Boston, she’d drive or take a cross-country train. No more planes. Her heart couldn’t take it.

Jennifer waited for the ear popping to tell her they had ascended high enough to level off. She frowned when it didn’t come. Suddenly, she felt the plane shudder. She opened her eyes, popped out her ear buds, and turned to the man sitting next to her. He had his eyes glued out the window, and she could see the reflection of his face and the look of terror etched there.

“The engines,” the man whispered. “Oh my God, the engines are smoking.”

Without conscious thought, Jennifer took out her blackberry, and dialed Richie’s cell. It went to voicemail, as it was only three in the morning where he was. “Baby, it’s me,” she said, trying to keep her voice as calm as possible. “We’ll probably laugh about this later, but something seems to be wrong with the engines, and I just wanted to tell you that I love you and whatever you wanted to ask me when you see me, the answer is a big ol’ YES!” She chuckled. “I’m gonna get yelled at by the stewardess if she sees me, so I gotta go. I love you more than my own life, Rich, and I can’t wait to see you. Bye!” She hurriedly turned off the device and put it back in her purse.

A loud bang sounded from outside the plane. Jennifer sobbed and tried to resist, but ultimately she couldn’t help it; she leaned over to look out the window. One of the engines on her wing was gone, and with it, a good chunk of the wing itself. The other engine was engulfed in flames. She stifled a scream, but didn’t do a good job of it, because the people on the other side of the plane started to panic.

The flight attendant made an announcement in a shaky voice. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing some trouble with the aircraft. As a precaution, please put on your oxygen masks, stay in your seats, and try to stay calm.”

On cue, oxygen masks fell from the ceiling. With a frantic rustle of clothes, and loud, scared voices, the passengers began putting on their masks. One woman across the aisle and three seats up couldn’t get her mask on, and her voice was getting very shrill as she begged someone to help her. Jennifer’s hands were shaking when she pulled her own mask on over her nose and mouth, and she breathed the cool, sterile air deep into her lungs. The conversation on the plane was getting louder and louder, and the snatches of dialogue Jennifer heard made her wish she was deaf. The man next to her commented, “What the hell was she thinking? Stay calm. Doesn’t she know the worst thing you can do in an emergency is tell people to stay calm!” His voice rose with each word, so by the end he was shouting.

The plane took a sharp turn to starboard, and Jennifer screamed. Others did too. Children began crying, and the woman behind her started praying.

The man next to her tried to talk himself out of his fear. "It's okay,” he said; his voice muffled by the mask he wore. “I’m sure they can land the plane on just two engines."

Jennifer gave him a sickly smile, but still felt dread in the pit of her stomach. The plane continued to shudder, and the pilot couldn’t seem to get it to straighten out. Jennifer felt the plane start to roll. With tears streaming down her face, she watched out the window as the ground drew ever closer.

In what seemed to take an hour but was really only seconds, Jennifer’s life with Richie flashed before her eyes. She saw their meeting in Southampton, the first time they made love, taking day trips with Ava; being a real family. She also remembered the last time they made love, and cried harder when she realized it would truly be the last time. There would be no more quiet, seductive laughter in her ear. No more caresses from those long, strong fingers. No more magic kisses.

What hurt the most is that she wouldn’t ever know the joy of carrying Richie’s baby inside her. She would never feel his big hand over her distended abdomen, reveling in the joy of a tiny kick. The tears flowed more relentlessly when she reflected that she would never get motherhood advice from her own mother.

Her thoughts were jarred back to the present the instant the jagged edge of the wing hit the grass. The plane levered up and flipped upside down, hitting the ground with a crash that was heard for miles. That was the last thing Jennifer heard.

Taking Care of Business

Monday, May 10, 2010
The next several weeks went by in a whirlwind of activity. Jennifer gave her notice at work in early November, citing her last day as December first. She worked with her boss to find a suitable replacement, and had Margot trained on everything she could think of within a couple of weeks. Margot had been in the business for more than a decade, and was a quick study. She made Jennifer feel much more relaxed about her decision to leave.

Evenings and weekends, her family and friends helped her pack up the house. She had decided not to sell her house. She loved it too much, and she and Richie would have a second home – not a condo – on the East coast for when they came to visit her family. Her cadre of packers worked from room to room, closing up vents, pulling blinds and shades, and draping furniture with sheets.

Richie called every day, asking if she was sure if she didn’t want him to fly out to help her.

“Rich,” she had told him each time, “I need this time to say good bye. I need to be around my family and friends, and they need to help me with this. It’s not that I don’t want you here, it’s that I need to do this my way, to say my goodbyes and close the door on this chapter of my life.”

“I know, I just miss you.”

“I miss you too. Make a list of all the ways you can show me just how much, and we’ll get started on it as soon as I land.”

“Oh really?” Richie laughed.

“Yes, really,” Jen answered.

The last week before her flight to LA, she was done with work, and spent time with her parents. They told her that as long as she was happy, they were happy for her, it didn’t matter where she lived.

“You’ll just have to come back to visit,” Ma said, “because you know your father and airplanes.”

“Flying is unnatural for people,” John groused.

Jennifer laughed. “I know, Daddy,” she said, kissing his cheek. “We’ll come back and visit often. I’m not selling the house, so we’ll always have someplace to come.” She hugged her mom. “And Ma, you can always come out without Daddy, you know. We’ll have a room for you, no problem.”

“Far away from yours I hope,” Ma answered with a twinkle in her eye. “There are some things a mother does not want to know about her daughter.”

“Ma!” Jennifer complained. “ I can’t believe you just said that!” She was blushing furiously.

“What, I’m old, not dead. I remember a thing or two about being young and in love. So, when are you getting married?”

Jennifer laughed. “I don’t know. Richie’s been hinting about it, asking me what kinds of flowers I like, and even Ava’s asked me what my dream wedding would be like. I think he’s got something planned, but I’m just taking one day at a time. If it happens, it happens.”

“It’ll happen,” Ma said. “Mark my words. You sure you don’t need a ride to the airport?”

“I’m sure,” Jen answered. “Cheryl, Steph, and Gail are coming in to help with the final few boxes for the van, and they’ll take me. It’s hard enough saying goodbye here, I don’t want to be wreck at the airport.”

“If you change your mind,” John said, “you know you can always call us.” His gaze told her volumes more than the words he spoke.

“I know, Daddy,” Jennifer said softly. “But I think that this is for keeps. Rich and I really love each other and want this to work.”

“Just know that I will get on a plane with your mother to come and collect you if you need us to. I love you, my girl.”

“Love you too, Daddy.”

The three Petruzzos shared a hug, then Jennifer had to go and collect her friends from the airport.

The last two days before her flight, Jennifer had packed nearly everything she wanted to take, and her and her girlfriends had the van packed full. Her brother had come to take the Caddy, and the Harley was going with her to LA.

“I think that’s it,” Jennifer said, dusting off her palms. “I still can’t believe I’m moving to LA.”

“I think it’s wonderful, honey,” Gail said, hugging her friend. “You and Richie are going to be deliriously happy.”

“I hope so,” Jen answered.

Cheryl cuffed her on the back of her head. “Not ‘hope so’, ‘know so’. Come on, Jen, be honest.”

“Okay,” Jen said, smiling, “yeah, we’ll be happy. I can’t imagine what I’m going to do with myself out there though.”

“Gee,” Steph said, “a leggy blonde with big boobs in LA. You could always become an actress.”

That had the girls laughing hysterically. “Yeah, like I’d be good for anything other than porn. No thanks. I’m a lousy actress, and other than writing it, porn has no appeal to me.”

“Not when you have your own Hairy Longfellow at home,” Gail snorted.

Cheryl, “I’m sure you’ll find something to do. If I were in your shoes, I’d spend all my time with Richie.”

“Yeah, but what about when they go back out on the road? I can’t follow them all over the world.” Jen worried her bottom lip with her teeth.

“Why not?” Steph asked. “You have money; why not use some of it on yourself?”

“Yeah,” Gail said. “Spend a little coin on your own happiness. Unless you think that it would be boring.”

“Touring the world with Rich? Boring? Never,” Jen said with a wink. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Remind me: what time is your flight on Saturday?” Steph said.

“5:45 AM. Don’t give me grief, I wanted to get out there as early as possible, and this was the earliest flight. Besides, the early morning flights to the West coast are the safest, and the least crowded.”

In deference to the early flight, the girls elected to go out and celebrate Jen’s new life on Thursday night, gathering for ribs-n-ritas a day later than usual. Over pitchers of margaritas, racks of ribs, and over the sound of the local blues band in the background, the girls all toasted Jen’s new life, and demanded to be invited to the wedding.

“Of course you’re all invited,” Jennifer promised. “Hell, you’ll all be bridesmaids if I have my way.”

Krissy snorted. “When have you ever not gotten your way?”

Jen laughed. “Well, you do have a point.”

Friday night, Jennifer sent the van off on its cross-country journey. Once it had cleared the gates, she went back inside and spied the stack of suitcases by the front door. “This is really happening,” she said to herself.

Her house phone rang, and Jennifer snatched the receiver off the hall table before one of the girls could get it. “Hello?”

“Darlin’, you aren’t answering your cell,” Richie said. “How come?”

Jen laughed. “Baby, it’s up on the nightstand, charging. I wanted to make sure it had full battery for the flight tomorrow. I can’t believe that at this time tomorrow, I’ll be with you.”

“Sooner than that, love. By this time tomorrow, I hope to have you naked in my bed.”

“Well, I do believe that can be arranged, sir,” Jennifer said, strolling into the living room and settling on the couch. She and the girls had laid a fire earlier, and Jen blushed, remembering the last time a fire was lit in the fireplace. “So, I’m sitting in the living room, in front of the fire.”

“In front of, or inside of?”

“No,” Jennifer laughed, “it isn’t quite that cold yet, that I have to take refuge inside the fireplace.”

“Here in LA, it never gets that cold.”

“Baby, you don’t have to sell me on coming out there; the truck just left with all my stuff. It should be there sometime Saturday night. Like we arranged, they’ll leave the truck, and come back when you call after we get it emptied out.”

“Excellent,” Richie said. “I can’t wait to have your things mingled in with my things.” He chuckled dirtily.

“Rich, you have a knack of making the most innocent of statements sound raunchy.”

Richie sighed dramatically. “It is both a blessing and a curse.” He laughed. “So what are you girls doing tonight?”

“Well, we got all our carousing out of our systems last night; I think we’re just going to hang out and watch movies. I know I’m not going to sleep, I’m too damned excited. I can’t wait to see you.”

“I can’t wait to see you either. I’ll be at the airport waiting.”

“I love you, Rich.”

“Love you too.”

They spoke for a while longer, long enough for the fire to dwindle to embers, then Jennifer and the girls retired to the movie room. After long hours laughing at brat-pack80’s flicks, they went to bed to catch a few hours’ sleep.

Saturday would be a long day.

Richie and Ava

Monday, May 3, 2010
Richie wasn’t stupid. OK, sure, he’d done some stupid things, but he knew a good thing when he saw it. Watching Jennifer with Ava on Saturday, and their surprise “family outing” to San Francisco yesterday, just solidified it in his head. He wanted Jennifer to be a permanent part of their lives. Sunday, when he was taking Ava back to her mother’s he found that she wanted it, too.

“I think it’s cool that Jennifer can stay another week,” Ava had said.

“Yeah,” Richie agreed. “It’s great. She didn’t want you to be sad that you didn’t get to do that Universal thing.”

Ava just gave him a look that was pure grown-up and had his stomach in knots. “Daddy, that’s not really why she’s staying.”

Richie just raised an eyebrow at his precocious daughter. “Oh really?” he asked. “And in your infinite wisdom why, pray tell, exactly is she staying another week?”

Ava laughed. “Because she loves us, silly. She loves us and she WANTS to stay longer.”

Richie thought on that for a moment and chuckled. Out of the mouths of babes... “You may just be right, baby girl. How do you feel about that?”

Ava was quiet for several long moments. “I think it’s great that she wants to stay for a while longer,” she finally said. “She’s nice and I like her a lot, and you’re much smilier when she’s here, and I REALLY like that.”

Richie grinned. “I feel a whole lot smilier when she’s here,” he said. “Ava, baby, I need to ask you something,” he started. “Something serious.” He pulled the car over to the side of the road and turned to face his daughter.

“Daddy, I’m always serious,” Ava answered.

Richie smiled. “I know, sweetheart. I know you’re happy that Jennifer is staying a little longer; how would you feel if I asked Jennifer to live out here all the time?”

“You mean move in with us? In our house?”

“Yeah,” Richie said.

“Are you going to marry her?”

Richie shook his head. “I don’t know if we’re going to get married or not,” he said. “She’s been married before and her husband was, well, not too nice. I don’t know if she wants to do that all again.”

Ava frowned. “But Daddy, YOU’RE nice,” she said.

“Well thank you very much,” Richie answered, smiling. “But first things first, okay? Let’ s see if she wants to move out here.”

Ava nodded and looked out the window. “What if she says ‘no’?” she said softly.

Richie put his hand on Ava’s shoulder. “Then I guess she and I will keep flying back and forth across the country to see each other.”

Ava turned back to her father. “Would you move to Boston?”

Richie thought about that. He purchased the condo in Philly to have a home base when he was on the east coast. He never intended to live out there full time. He couldn’t leave Ava like that on a permanent basis. It was difficult enough when he was on the road, he didn’t want to make a conscious decision to put distance between himself and his daughter.

“No,” he said finally, “I wouldn’t. Not unless your Mom was relocating back east.”

“But what if Jennifer makes you?”

“She’s not going to do that,” Richie said firmly.

“But what if she does?” Ava was more adamant.

Richie sighed. “Then I guess she isn’t the woman I thought she was,” he said, “and that would make me really sad.”

“But what would you do?”

Richie looked at his daughter. “What’s going on here?” he asked. “I can tell there’s more to this question, but let me answer yours first. Nothing in this world is more important to me than you. Not Jennifer, not your mother, not Uncle Jon or the other guys, nothing. You are the most important thing there is to me, and I would move Heaven and Earth to make you happy. If Jennifer made me choose between living with her in Boston or staying here with you, then it’s a no-brainer. I choose you. Always you.”

Ava launched herself across the seat into her father’s arms. “I knew it,” she said triumphantly. “I heard Jack telling Mommy that now that you had Jennifer, you were probably going to move away and they wouldn’t have to talk to you about stuff, and I would hardly see you anymore.”

Richie was livid, but tried to keep it to himself. “Really,” he said as evenly as possible. “What did Mommy say about that?”

Ava laughed. “She told him: if you think that he would move across the country for THAT woman, you need your head examined.” Her mimicry of her mother’s tone was impeccable, and Richie’s blood ran cold.

“Well,” he said, “she’s right that I wouldn’t move away from you forever like that. When you’re older and have your own life, well, that’s different. Right now, you’re stuck with me, I’m afraid.”

“I’m so glad,” she said, hugging her father tight. “Then if you want to ask her to move here, that’s okay with me.”

“I’m so happy you think that. Listen, if we’re going to ask her to be part of our lives out here, she needs more reason that it makes me happy. I, we, have to think about what makes her happy, too.”

Ava nodded. “Yeah, I know. We have to think about each others’ feelings – that’s what families do.”

They spent some minutes in silence as Richie digested Ava’s words. Family. She thought of them as a family. Sure, they were dysfunctional and a little unconventional, but hell, by LA standards, they were practically the Cleavers. Family. He sure did like the sound of that...

When they got to Heather’s house, Ava ran upstairs to her room, and Richie stayed for a couple minutes to talk to his ex-wife. He told her what Ava had overheard, and told her that he was asking Jennifer to move to California to be with him. Richie also told her that he didn’t think Ava should overhear conversations like that again, and turned to leave without another word. Heather stopped him, and wished him luck. He searched her face, but didn’t see any malice or sarcasm there. He muttered thanks, and left.

Monday morning, Jennifer was up early, still not used to the time change. She and Richie had stayed up until the wee hours making love, so she should be exhausted and sleeping soundly, like the man next to her. He was sleeping too soundly. She poked at his ribs, and all he did was snort and turn his head, and the snoring continued. She sighed and got up, padded to the desk in the corner, and got onto the boards.

Things had been quiet for some time – guess that’s what happened when the board you’re on is connected to a group that isn’t presently touring. She saw that Stephanie was on, and chatted with her a little. Soon, though, Richie noticed she was up and came to find her.

“Why are you up so early?” he asked. “Are you working already?”

“No,” Jennifer said, tilting her head back for a mind-numbing kiss. “Just checking in with the girls. The few who are still around.”

“Come back to bed,” he said. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

“I’m sure you will,” Jennifer said, closing her laptop. She let Richie lead her back to the edge of the bed. He scooped her up into his arms and placed her gently near the center of the bed. He crawled up after her and slid up between her legs and into her. He smiled when her legs went up of their own accord, spreading wider to take him deeper. She wrapped one around his hips, and the other wouldn’t quite cooperate, so she left it raised. Richie kissed her then, a deep lingering kiss that spoke of unspoken promises of love and devotion.

When they crested it was together, each crying out the name of the other. When Richie slipped from Jennifer’s body, spent and sated, she whined. He chuckled and gathered her to him, cradling her against his chest. Soon, they were drifting off together.
Later that morning, Jennifer woke again, and again Richie was snoring. She chuckled to herself. She took a quick shower and brought her laptop with her when she went down to the kitchen, where she snagged a diet coke before heading into the office. She called in to work and made sure that there wasn’t anything that she needed to deal with personally. Even though she was on unpaid leave, she knew it wasn’t smart to leave them hanging too long, at least until she had made her final decision about what she wanted to do.

Around lunchtime, Richie came downstairs, clean shaven, and dry-haired.

“Whatcha been doing?” Jennifer asked.

Richie crossed the room to give her a kiss that left her breathless. “I took a shower and fucked around with my guitar for a while,” he answered. How ‘bout you?”

“Played around on the computer for a bit, read for a while; I was just going to come and wake your ass up!”

“Ha ha, beat ya to it. How’s work?”

“It’s work,” she said, closing her laptop. “What’s on the agenda for today?”

“What do you want to do? Ava’s in school; we’ll see her tonight if you want.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. “We have all day to play if you want.”

Jennifer laughed. “Of course I want,” she said, “but we’ve gotta do more than spend all our time together in bed.”

Richie grinned. “Spoil-sport. Fine, then you have to plan the agenda.”

“Fine. I wanna go swim in the ocean.”

“That can be arranged. Let’s get a move on, then.”

They spent the day frolicking in the waves and sunning themselves on the beach. Quite a few people recognized Richie and approached for autographs or to take a picture with him. More than one gave Jennifer the hairy eyeball as she sat on their blanket and waited patiently. They had a seaside dinner and picked up Ava from Heather’s. When the girl saw Jennifer with her father, she grinned widely.

“Did you ask her to stay?” Ava said excitedly as they walked to the car. “Is she gonna?”

Jennifer looked over Ava’s head at Richie, and raised an eyebrow. Richie groaned. “No, baby girl, I hadn’t asked her yet. I think you just did.” He looked at Jen. “We can talk about it later,” he said.

‘Later’ couldn’t come fast enough. Jennifer was distracted all evening, though she tried really hard not to let Ava notice. When they finally dropped her back at her mother’s and were on the way back, Richie pulled in to a mostly-deserted parking lot and shut the car off.

“Listen, about what Ava said,” Richie started.

Jennifer interrupted. “She was asking if I was going to move here, wasn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Richie sighed. “Sorry about putting you on the spot like that.”

“She did take me by surprise,” Jennifer admitted. “Especially since you haven’t even hinted at the possibility. Is this something that SHE wants, or that YOU want?” Jennifer held her breath, waiting for the answer.

“I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think you’d want to,” Richie said softly. “I mean you have your job and your family and friends and I didn’t want you to feel like you HAD to.” He took Jennifer’s hands. “But I would love it if you would consider it. If you’d consider coming to live with me. And Ava when she’s at my house. I would really, really love it.”

Jennifer sucked in deep breath and let it out slowly. “I would love it too.”

(c) 2008 by TheGoddessHathor

This is copyrighted and all intellectual property rights apply.
PLEASE: do not post this or any other work found wholly (or linked) on this site anywhere.
Links are OK, text excerpts are not.