John Francis - Chapter 176

Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 7:02 PM


It was close to 5:30 now, the wedding scheduled for 6:00. There were roughly 50 people already there to attend the ceremony, with a few more expected. Amanda moved through the rooms, helping out wherever she saw a need to, taking glasses into the kitchen, again checking on the caterers progress, getting drink refills for a few of the elderly relatives and just generally keeping an eye on the proceedings. She knew this wasn’t her job, but in her home everyone always just pitched in to help, be they friend or relative, and her childhood habits were hard to overcome.

Tico, Alejandra and Richie were talking amongst themselves about what they had witnessed with Jon’s mother and her attitude toward Amanda. They were also keeping an eye on her and saw her quietly and unobtrusively helping out wherever there seemed to be a need. Richie started talking to the other two with him.

“Did you know Dot called her yesterday and asked for her help?”

Both knew he was referring to Amanda, but neither had heard this.

“What did she do?” Tico asked.

“She said she just helped with some organizing, but I’ve been watching her today and I’m betting she did a lot more than that.” Richie answered.

Alejandra spoke up then. “Didn’t Dot have her friends to help her?”

Shaking his head as he actually didn’t know, he shrugged. “I would have thought so, but she called Amanda, who then called us to come get the kids. It was her idea that they sleep over last night too so Dot could have a break.”

“So what’s the problem with Jon’s mother?” Tico asked, real confusion in his voice.

Deciding to share his concerns, Richie repeated what he had just overheard. Alejandra’s mouth actually dropped open which she quickly closed and Tico gave a small gasp that turned into a cough.

“You’re kidding, right?” He asked Richie.

“No, I’m not and Jon’s gone upstairs.” Richie answered softly, meeting his friend’s eyes, his own confusion evident.

“Damn! What the hell is going on?” Tico murmured.

~~~

Returning to the living room, Amanda gave a quick glance around for Jon, but saw he wasn’t there. Stephanie was sitting on the couch by Jake and she walked over towards the two.

“Hey guys, mind if I sit here with you for a few minutes?”

She directed her question mainly to Stephanie as Jacob was still engrossed in his game. Stephanie looked up at her and nodded a yes. Sitting quietly beside the young girl, Amanda asked her if she had seen her dad.

“No, I know Granma was talking to him, but I don’t know where he went after that.”

Settling herself a bit more comfortably on the couch, she quietly asked Stephanie. “So, how are you doing, sweetie?”

Turning to look at Amanda, she gave a sigh. “Okay, I guess. I do want to see my mom though, but I guess she won’t come down until it’s time for the wedding.”

“You could always go up and see her, honey, she might be busy but it won’t hurt to ask if she has time.” Amanda offered, understanding as much as she was able to what Stephanie was experiencing.

“Yeah, I might go up in a few minutes…” Stephanie acknowledged, then turned to look more closely at Amanda. “…I’m sorry if I was rude this morning.”

Shaking her head, Amanda gave her a soft smile. “You weren’t. I can imagine today is a little tough for you.”

Giving a half smile, Stephanie nodded. “Yeah, I’m happy for my mom, but…” she trailed off.

Giving Stephanie a half squeeze across her shoulders and leaning in to speak as quietly as she could, Amanda whispered to her.

“It’s okay to want things to stay the way they were, Steph, it’s not wrong to wish things could be different.”

Nodding, Stephanie rose from the couch.

“Thanks Amanda. Guess I’ll see if Granma needs me to do anything and then go see mom.”

“Okay, hon. I’m here if you need anything.” Stephanie again nodded at her and moved off towards her grandmother.

“Granma? Is there anything you need me to do?” She asked, when she had caught Carol’s attention.

“Hi honey! Yes, there is. Would you take Romeo and Jake and have them wash their hands and brush their hair so they’re ready?”

Sighing a little as she was often cast in the role of babysitter for her two youngest siblings, Stephanie nodded and moved off to do her grandmother’s bidding.

~~~

Moving over to re-join Richie, Tico and Alejandra, Amanda waited for a break in their conversation and asked if they knew where Jon was. Only the slightest of hesitations occurred before Richie answered her.

“I think he’s talking to Dot for a minute.” He watched Amanda as he supplied this information.

Feeling suddenly a little emotionally shaky inside with that information, but determined to show nothing outwardly, Amanda smiled as she responded.

“Good, I’m glad their relationship is still such a strong one.”

Holding up her empty glass, Amanda indicated she was going for a refill. She left the group, heading for the open bar and ordered a Jack and coke. She somehow felt she was going to need a little liquid courage before this day was over.

Sensing someone joining her at the bar, she turned to find Richie. He also ordered a drink, joining her in her choice of beverages.

Moving off a bit from this central gathering area, Richie spoke to her first. “I saw what Jon’s mother was doing.”

“I just don’t understand, Richie, why does she dislike me so much?” Amanda’s voice reflected a bit of her inner turmoil as she softly asked this question.

Richie had suspicions of his own, especially after overhearing Carol’s latest conversation with Jon, but he didn’t think Amanda needed to know about that.

“Babe, I really don’t know. She can be one of the most stubborn women on the planet. Where do you think Jon gets his stubbornness from? You’re just going to have to give her time. Jon will bring her around.”

He wasn’t sure if he truly believed that right at this moment, but he decided to keep any doubts to himself.

Changing the subject, Amanda voiced another of her concerns.

“The kids really want their parents to get back together again.” She accompanied this statement with a quick sip of her drink.

Richie knew from Ava that this was not unusual.

“That’s pretty normal, Manda. Ava still asks why Heather and I don’t get back together.”

Her response was soft enough that Richie had to lean in a little to hear her.

“Yeah, but do you and Heather still love one another?”

Not looking at Richie now, she gave a small shake of her head and excused herself before he had a chance to respond. She got her drink freshened and then again moved off to the kitchen. It was now 5:45.

Richie watched her walk away from him, got another drink himself and then stood there to the side, his mind racing furiously.

Damn! What the hell is going on?

~~~

The doorbell announced the arrival of the minister, who was welcomed in and offered his choice of libations. He chose a small glass of white wine and then entered into a discussion with Eric, his brother, and other relatives of both the bride and groom. Carol had joined the conversation, but for once was quiet as this was not her son’s wedding, although she hoped she had gotten through to Jon. A quick look around showed he had not yet returned and she suppressed a secret smile.

Melissa entered the kitchen and again saw Amanda silently overseeing the food preparations. Smiling as she walked towards her, she attempted another apology for her earlier assumption, but Amanda laughed it off and they started talking about how quickly the time was approaching.

Melissa looked lovely in her light rose gown and was happy to provide the details of its design to Amanda. They both complemented Dot on her choice of colors for the flowers and the decorations, the various shades of pinks with white Angel’s Breath sprays added almost randomly, but with their use bringing out the full delicacy of the roses and lilacs that made up most of the flower arrangements.

Melissa showed Amanda the bridal bouquet, a cluster of dusky pink roses, which would complement Dot’s dark hair.

“I think she’s chosen some really beautiful colors and it looks like everything should go off without a hitch.” Melissa stated, putting the bouquet back into the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

“It’s almost time, isn’t it?” Amanda asked, glancing at her watch. It was now 5:55.

Both women returned to the main room to see that the guests were setting aside their glasses and gathering their assorted items to make their way into the tent. Eric was beaming from something his brother had obviously said and his mother was quickly straightening his tux into perfect lines.

The guests made their move into the tent and soon it was just Eric, Michael, and Melissa who remained. Amanda stood off to the side, waiting for Jon to return so they could enter the tent for the ceremony. She overheard Melissa tell Eric that Dot had asked for a few minutes, so they should be expecting her at any time. Amanda noted that Melissa didn’t tell Eric that Dot’s few minutes were being spent with Jon.

Keeping herself apart from the groom, his best man, and the matron of honor, Amanda waited as unobtrusively as possible for Jon to return. Her mind processed everything she had seen, heard, and felt over the last two days and her thoughts were a whirlwind. One thought, however, kept surfacing to override everything else.

Damn! What the hell is going on?

John Francis - Chapter 175

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 11:21 AM
Photobucket

The guests mingling in the living room were engaged in lively conversations, some regarding the day, others in meeting soon to be new relatives. The kids were now downstairs and Jon, conscious of his daughter’s feelings this day, drew her to his side as he talked. Stephanie looked particularly lovely and so grown up today. In fact she had grown up a bit today, in the way that all children of divorce and remarriage do, when they realize that they don’t control their own little universe. Talking with her dad had helped and she knew that no matter what both he and her mother loved them all very much.

Jesse was also hanging around his dad, but his grandmother had asked him to watch out for Romeo and to keep him as clean as possible, so he spent a little more time wandering away to get his brother and trying to return him to the area where his dad and Eric were talking. Jesse had already met Eric’s brother Michael and soon they were talking about Jesse’s chances of making first string on his football team.

Jacob was playing with his GameBoy while sitting on the couch and for the moment was the quietest of the children as he was fully engrossed in getting to the next level of the game he was playing.

Amanda was now talking with some of the women guests, all clearly gushing about the decorations and some wondering at what Dorothea would be wearing. Although she had seen the gown, Amanda refrained from speaking about it, not wanting to spoil the surprise. Richie had been roaming from group to group, joining in ongoing conversations easily. He was the one who heard the doorbell ring and opened the door to Tico and Alejandra, and Hugh and Kelli arriving for the festivities. David was also there, but without Jen as she had a prior commitment. she couldn’t avoid.

“Hey! There you all are! Come on in and meet everybody!”

Richie urged the group in with the ease of a natural host and the benefit of longstanding friend-and-partnership with the five new arrivals. Amanda also saw the five arrive and excusing herself went over to say hello. Warm hugs were given and trying to be helpful, both Richie and Amanda got drinks for their friends at the bar. Jon saw the rest of the gang arrive and gave a smile and a nod ‘hello’, but didn’t go over yet as Eric was still talking to him. Eric’s dad, Mark, had joined them and Jon was pleased to see the good relationship the two men had as it boded well that Eric and his father were also good friends.

After helping the recovered nanny get the kids ready for the wedding, Carol Bongiovi returned to the living room. She went over to talk with Tico, Alejandra, David, Kelli and Hugh, speaking animatedly with the group she had known since they were young men.

Richie and Amanda returned during this time with drinks and joined the group, although it was apparent to both Tico and Richie who knew Amanda best that she was now rather quiet. Catching Richie’s eye, Tico asked a question with his eyes and at the slight head dip from Richie toward Carol, Tico gave a small nod of understanding.

Dividing the group just a little by her presence, Carol started talking to Alejandra and Kelli about the wedding decorations and the food that Dot had ordered. The men started their own small talk, but it was soon apparent that while Carol was speaking quite pleasantly and cheerfully to the two wives, she was not including Amanda in the conversation.

When Alejandra quickly realized that Amanda was standing there listening but not participating, she tried to include her but found her efforts going to waste as Carol simply dominated the conversation by directing her questions and comments only to Alejandra and Kelli.

Tico and Richie were keeping half an ear directed toward the women’s conversation and were aware of what Jon’s mother was doing. Both had been told directly by Jon what his mother had said before and what problems that had caused in Amanda and Jon’s relationship. Tico had talked with his wife about some of this as he wanted her to like Amanda and as such she knew a bit about the problem of Jon’s mother. He raised an eyebrow at his wife, who gave a small nod in return.

“So Amanda…” Alejandra interjected during a pause in the monologue, “…I heard you both kept the kids last night so Dot could have a “mommy free” night. How did that go?”

Answering with a warm smile, Amanda replied, “It was wonderful! The kids were great and I think Dot appreciated having a night off before the wedding today, so it worked out for everyone.”

Winking at her, Alejandra shot back “And whose idea was that?”

Grinning at her friend, Amanda replied that she had thought of it, but Jon had wholeheartedly agreed.

Turning a little at that, Carol shot Amanda a look. “You arranged to have the children there last night?”

Wondering where this question was going, Amanda politely replied, “No, I just suggested it to Jon and then when he agreed, we asked Dot if the kids could stay over.”

Her words were a bit measured as she spoke as she could just feel Carol was looking for something to chide her over.

Shaking her head in what was clearly feigned repugnance, Carol restated what Amanda had done, making it sound devious and manipulative.

“So once again you presumed to know what my son would want done with his children and then imposed your ideas on both him and Dorothea?”

Narrowing her eyes a little, as Tico, Richie, and even Alejandra edged a hair closer for support if such was needed, Amanda looked directly at Jon’s mother.

“No, Mrs. Bongiovi, I did not presume or impose my ideas on anyone. I made a suggestion, they both liked it and agreed. Surely you’re aware that Jon does not take manipulation well?”

Her voice was innocent sounding, but she and Carol both knew to what she referred. Knowing there was no good outcome to be had from this verbal sparring, Amanda immediately excused herself, stating she had promised Dot the day before to check on the caterers.

All present in the group saw the slight hesitation in her step and the barely visible stiffening of her body as Carol’s voice responded with a cloying sweetness that was all the more offensive for the implied insult it contained.

“Why don’t you do that, dear? That would be something useful.”

Hugh, Kelli, and David were a little too far back to hear, but Tico, Alejandra, and Richie were not. All three made wide eyes at the other as Amanda continued on as graciously as possible, although internally she felt as if she was vibrating with anger.

Moving into the kitchen, she did check again on the progress of the caterers and saw they were utilizing the kitchen as their base with practiced ease. Thinking she would take a few minutes to get her rising temper under control, Amanda helped herself to a glass of wine.

Continuing her conversation with Alejandra and Kelli as if nothing untoward had occurred, Carol didn’t notice that both women had become rather quiet and were simply nodding in response to the words directed their way. Tico saw the change in his wife and moved over to her, leaning into her arm as he started talking to Jon’s mother to give his wife a much-needed break.

The others also joined in and much reminiscing, mostly by Carol Bongiovi, was engaged in, the others offering appropriate stories when they could. Jon’s brothers were the next to arrive and they joined the group. Richie soon excused himself but the others were talking and laughing too much to do more than wave him off as he made his way to the hall bathroom.

During almost the same time, when the others were all talking, Carol caught her oldest son’s eye, motioning for him to follow her. Jon nodded to the men he was talking to, inclining his head towards the bathroom, and left them to meet up with his mother in one of the rooms by a hallway bathroom. Entering the room after her, he closed the door at her motion to do so.

Richie had just finished using the facilities and stepping back into the hallway he heard voices coming from behind the closed door of a room nearby. Pausing for a moment he could clearly make out Carol’s voice. It didn’t take more than one sentence for him to realize who she was speaking with.

“It’s still not too late, Jon, she hasn’t married him yet.”

Jon faced his mother, hardly daring to believe what she was saying.

“Mom, what the hell are you talking about?” Jon’s voice rose a little more than he intended.

“You still love her. You have four beautiful children. Just tell her, Jon, and you can have your life back. She’s the mother of your children. You can stop this just by telling her!” Carol’s impassioned voice also rose as she tried to convince Jon.

“Why can’t you understand that my marriage with Dot is over! She’s marrying Eric today. For god’s sake, mom, they love each other and I love Amanda!” Jon was slowly getting more and more furious with his mother.

“Why are you so stubborn? Amanda is nothing compared to your family and Dot is the mother of your children!” Carol laid her hand on her son’s arm and was encouraged when he allowed it to remain there.

“Jonny, please, don’t let her go. You have so many years together. Go talk to her. Just try, for the sake of your happiness and for the kids.” Carol pleaded with him. He looked at her then and sighed.

“I’ll talk to her, mom.”

Still standing spellbound in the hallway Richie stiffened in astonishment. Realizing then that the door could open at any second he quickly left, moving back into the living room, his eyes automatically seeking out Amanda.





Jon and his mother left the room, Carol moving back into the living room with a small self-satisfied look on her face. Amanda had rejoined the group now that Carol had gone off somewhere and was standing with her back facing the hallway, talking once again to the others. Richie had been anticipating Carol’s return and saw her give a narrow-eyed look at the back of Amanda’s head as she passed through the room. He also saw Jon turn and head towards the back of the house and the stairs.

Moving slowly up the stairs, Jon wondered what he was doing. He had said he would talk to Dot to placate his mother, but on more honest reflection he realized he did want to talk with her. What he didn’t know was what he wanted to say.

Knocking on a closed bedroom door, he greeted his ex-wife’s long-time friend.

“Hi Melissa. How are you?”

Melissa was surprised to see Jon and stammered just a little in response.

“F…fine. How are you, Jon?”

“Good. Would you ask Dot if I can talk to her for a minute?”

Eyes widening, Melissa could only nod ‘yes’ and closing the door she went into the dressing room and approached Dot.

“Dot…Jon’s at the door. He says he wants to talk to you.” Her eyes widening a bit at that herself, Dot told Melissa to let him in and then please give her a few minutes.

“I’ll call you when I need you,” she informed her friend.

Melissa returned to the door and let Jon in, excusing herself as she did so. Jon entered the room, calling out “Dorothea?”

“In here, Jon.” She answered, emerging from the dressing room, fully made up and gowned for her wedding.

Jon’s eyes brightened in appreciation and his smile flashed as he looked at his ex-wife.

“You look beautiful.” His voice was soft and his smile warm.

“Thank you.” She replied, her eyes suddenly dropping down, away from the face of the man she had loved for more than half her life. They both stood in silence for a few moments and then their eyes met.

Without conscious thought each took a step toward the other and as natural as breathing, moved into each other’s arms.

Photobucket

John Francis - Chapter 174

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 7:29 AM
Photobucket

Early the next morning both Amanda and Jon were glad they had chosen something to sleep in when a small figure climbed onto the bed. A knee to the belly brought Jon fully awake to see his youngest son settling himself on his stomach.

Yawning, Jon reached out to seat Romeo more comfortably.

“Hey buddy. What are you doing up so early?”

Jon’s voice woke Amanda and she saw the young boy straddling his dad.

“Hi Romeo.” She smiled at the youngster.

“Hi Manda…” Romeo smiled at her then turned back to his dad. “…where’s mommy?” His confusion at not seeing his mom next to his dad was evident.

“She’s at her house, big guy, remember?” Jon answered him softly, not quite anticipating this question.

“I want mommy…” Romeo stated, his small chin starting to quiver.

Jon made his voice as cheerful as he could as he sat up, carrying Romeo with him.

“We’re gonna see her in just a bit, but let’s go brush our teeth and get some breakfast first, okay?”

Responding to his father’s voice, Romeo suddenly smiled and said, “…’k daddy, I’m starvin’!”

Jon tickled him then, getting a giggle as a reward and shooed him out to his room to brush his teeth. Romeo laughed and ran out and Jon threw Amanda a look that clearly said ‘here we go’ and moved off to the bathroom himself. Both adults were downstairs quickly, Amanda helping Linda get breakfast as the kids started arriving, pretty much one after the other. All four were hungry and made short work of the breakfast that had been prepared, while Jon and Amanda poured cup after cup of coffee and managed to get a bit to eat between helping Jake a little and Romeo a lot.

Jesse paused while eating to look at his father. Swallowing his last bite of toast, he started talking.

“Mom said you and Amanda are coming tonight.”

Jon turned from the coffee pot and answered his son. “That’s right. We’ll be heading over there a little after four so you guys can all get dressed.”

With a bit of anger in his voice, Jesse’s next question suddenly burst out.

“Why don’t you love mom anymore?”

Jon’s eyes widened at the unexpectedness of the question as he and his older children had gone through many discussions about what had happened during the separation and before and after the divorce.

“Jess, we’ve talked about this before. I’ll always love your mom because of all the years we were together and because she gave me you guys. It’s just that our love changed and when that happens…it just wasn’t going to work between us anymore.”

Stephanie and Jake were following this conversation closely, while most of it was beyond Romeo’s ability to understand.

Looking his eldest son straight in the eyes, Jon responded.

“Your mom and Eric love each other now, Jess, the way a man and a woman are supposed to love each other. That’s why they’re getting married today.”

Jesse’s eyes cut towards Amanda then. “Does that mean you’re gonna marry her?”

Again Jon found himself unprepared. Drawing in a deep breath, he slowly exhaled.

“Jesse, Amanda and I are learning about each other…we’re…”

He hesitated, not sure what to say, knowing that whatever he said was sure to be repeated to Dot today. Amanda jumped in as she realized Jon was floundering. Her voice was soft as she directed Jesse’s attention toward her.

“Your dad and I haven’t known each other long enough to talk about marriage, Jesse.”

“But you’re living with him!” Stephanie burst out, then slapped her own hand over her mouth.

Now it was Amanda who was unprepared to answer. Turning to look at Jon, her eyes were wide and questioning as to how to answer his oldest child.

“Steph, Jesse…I…” He paused, seeking the right words. “…I love Amanda and she loves me. But even if Amanda weren’t here, mom and I wouldn’t be together anymore. Our lives changed and mom loves Eric and wants to marry him. I love your mom…but not the same way anymore…and I want her to be happy.”

Making sure to meet the eyes of his children one by one, Jon continued.

“Today is a very special day for her. I like Eric and he already loves you all, so I want mom and Eric to have each other the way they want because that’s what will make your mom happy.”

The older three children were quiet as they thought about what their father had said. Jesse tried one more time to have his old life back.

“We don’t get a choice, do we, dad?”

Shaking his head softly at that, Jon looked at his oldest son with love in his eyes.

“No, son, with things like this, you don’t get a choice.”

Soft tears brimmed in Jesse’s eyes but he angrily brushed them away.

“It’s okay, dad. I’m not mad.” He tried to reassure his father.

“I know you aren’t, Jesse, but it’s okay to be a little sad. I am too, big guy.”

Jon’s hand descended softly on his son’s shoulder and his eyes met Stephanie’s. She blinked, but nodded at him and gave him a small smile.

Amanda watched and listened silently, wondering who would find today and the changes it would bring more difficult – the kids…or Jon.
Photobucket
The day passed more quickly than anyone anticipated and soon it was time for the adults to shower and dress and get the kids ready to go. Richie and Linda helped and a little after four everyone got into Jon’s large SUV and drove over to Dot and Eric’s house. The kids were a quieter than usual, but the three adults strove to use their happiest voices and talked eagerly about the upcoming event.

Arriving at the house, all seven entered to find Carol and John, Sr. in the living room, along with other relative’s of Dot and Eric’s. Jon, Richie, and Amanda were introduced to Eric’s parents, Janet and Mark Richardson, along with Eric’s brother, Michael. Carol immediately moved to fuss over her grandchildren, whisking them away to get ready for the wedding. She gave Jon and Richie a kiss hello and nodded at Amanda. Despite her best intentions, Amanda couldn’t prevent a small eye roll that unknown to her was witnessed by Richie.

The adults all made small talk getting to know one another. Jon strove hard to blend into the crowd, as much as he could anywhere, talking sports with Michael, Eric’s brother, and learning more about Eric’s accounting firm from his mother and father. Making herself useful, Amanda refilled coffees and took empty glasses and cups to the kitchen. She popped out into the tent area to make sure everything was still in order.

While out there she called the catering company to learn they would be on time as scheduled, arriving at five. Long tables had been set up in a large dining room where there would be a buffet-style array of h’ordeurves. She knew from yesterday that after the service, the tent would be transformed quickly into a dining area while h’ordeurves were served to the waiting guests, along with champagne and various other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The catering company would handle both the pre-dinner tidbits and the dining set up in the tent.

Returning to the kitchen, Amanda refilled her own coffee cup, taking it out to the living room where Jon, Michael, Eric, John Sr. and Mark Richardson were all talking football. Smiling and softly shaking her head, she gave a small chuckle at the propensity of men to almost always find that one subject in common. She glanced around and saw Richie surrounded by several of the female relatives. This had her shaking her head in earnest and when he glanced in her direction she gave him a wink.

At exactly five there was a knock on the door and peering out a window in the front Amanda could see the caterers had arrived. Moving in that direction and opening the door, she instructed the man to use the side door at the kitchen and after pointing out the way to go, went back to the kitchen to let them in. She quickly saw they were professionals in every manner. Their efficiency and orderliness had her moving out of the way as it was evident they knew their business.

While simply observing from the sidelines, she noticed a woman enter the kitchen and move towards the caterers. Quickly introducing herself as Melissa, Mrs. Bon Jovi’s matron of honor, she stated she was here to see what instructions the caterers had been given. While waiting for the supervisor to come into the kitchen, Melissa turned, saw Amanda and walked over to her, barely looking at her as she began to speak.

“I want you to make sure your company understands that immediately after the guests clear the tent following the ceremony, they should move in to set up the tables for the dinner.” Melissa spoke quickly and assuredly while gesturing and looking towards the working men and women, obviously expecting Amanda to immediately comply with her instructions.

A smile broke out on Amanda’s face. There must be something about me that just screams “hired help”, she thought.

“Hi Melissa. We haven’t been introduced yet. My name is Amanda, but I don’t work for the catering company.” Amanda extended her hand during her introduction.

The woman’s head whipped around to look closely at her and a slightly shocked look overtook Melissa’s face and then it reddened.

“Oh my god! Amanda! I’m so sorry, I didn’t really see you. I just assumed…” Melissa trailed off, obviously embarrassed.

“Please don’t worry about it. I was checking on the caterers too.” Amanda smiled and tried to put the other woman at ease.

Melissa smiled gratefully. “I’ll have to tell Dot you’re here. She asked me to let her know if I saw you, but…” she trailed off, again aware of her goof.

“How’s Dot doing today? Her gown is simply beautiful, isn’t it?.” Amanda responded.

Giving a big sigh, realizing she was being let off the hook, Melissa gushed, “Oh! Yes, it really is gorgeous! Let me go tell her you’re here.”

And with that Melissa made a quick exit towards the back and upstairs to Dot’s room.

Amanda gave herself a few minutes before returning to the main room. She only knew a few of the people there and didn’t want to just hang onto Jon’s arm while he made the rounds. She had seen that those who had not yet met him seemed to just gravitate to his side and whether it was his celebrity status or that he was Dot’s ex-husband, she wasn’t sure. The man in charge of the catering company sought her out at that moment, confirming what they were to do.

“Well, as I understand it, after the ceremony the guests will come back inside here to the main room where the tables are set up for drinks and h’ordeurves, so those should be ready as soon as the wedding begins. After the guests leave the tent, you’ll need to do the table set ups for the dinner.”

The supervisor nodded his understanding of this and explained they had done such things before and that everything should go smoothly. She was impressed with his confident attitude and smiled at him, confirming her faith in his company’s abilities.

“This is a very special occasion for them, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’m glad to see everything will be in such good hands.”

The supervisor smiled at her, pleased at her complements. He moved off then to continue the organization needed. Amanda lingered a few more minutes watching his efforts and then moved to return to the main gathering area.

John Francis - Chapter 173

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 7:40 AM
Photobucket
At almost exactly six that night, the doorbell rang and Jake ran to open it. His mother and Eric came in and the younger kids were immediately at her side. She laughed and hugged her sons, noting they were all cleaned and dressed in their clothes for the dinner. Somehow they had even managed to keep Romeo’s small suit jacket on, although she knew he would be out of it as soon as he could. Stephanie walked down as she had heard the door and her mother’s eyes lit up at the sight of her beautiful daughter.

“Sweetie, you look gorgeous!” Dot hugged her oldest to her as Stephanie returned the hug.

The three adults were waiting in the living room and stood up when Dot and Eric walked in. Richie and Jon had been jumping up and down to keep a close eye on Romeo, knowing the youngster could get dirty faster than an eye blink and so they were constantly following him around.

“Hey everybody!” Dot called out as she and Eric came into the living room followed by the kids.

“Hi!” Amanda, Jon, and Richie called out as they entered.

“Wow!” Richie gazed fondly at Dot, “Don’t you look great!”

She smiled at him as Eric grinned and put an arm around her waist.

“Thanks for that! Now maybe she’ll believe me!” He laughed as Dot raised an eyebrow at him.

Eric turned to the kids. “Everybody ready to go eat?”

A chorus of loud voices calling “yes!” met his question. They all moved toward the door and said their good nights. Waiting until everyone was loaded into the car, they waved from the doorway and then went back inside.

~~~

Turning to Amanda, hands on his hips, Jon grinned at her.

“I’m guessing the kids are coming back here in a few hours?”

Barely restraining a grin herself, she nodded at him. “Yep! Dot agreed.”

She did grin now at him. “Aw, honey, it’s a nice thing to do, give her the night before her wedding to just be herself.”

He shook his head, but was in no way annoyed. He appreciated her thoughtfulness towards Dot and the kids. He realized he also wanted this last night with them before the changes that were taking place occurred.

Making their way into the kitchen after hearing Linda call out that dinner was ready, the three sat eating, talking about the next day.

“I had promised Dot that I would make sure the caterer was doing what was needed, so do you think we could go over at about 4:30 tomorrow as they’re due at five?” She directed her question at Jon, but included Richie by look.

“I don’t see why not. Besides the kids will need time to get ready and probably a hand if the nanny still has the flu.” He answered her thoughtfully.

Turning to Richie, Amanda asked if he was bringing anyone to the wedding. Giving her a lop-sided smirk, he answered that he had at first thought of Jackie, but since that was over, he guessed he was coming stag. Amanda’s half smile-half smirk at his response was unrepentant as she still believed that Jackie did not deserve such a great guy.

The remainder of their evening passed quickly and soon the doorbell was ringing again, allowing entry of two very sleepy small boys, a yawning-but-trying-to-hide-it young man and a still beautiful young woman, accompanied by two beaming adults. Jon quickly took Romeo into his arms as his youngest looked like he was walking in his sleep. With a grin at Dot and Eric, he urged Jake to follow him up the stairs as he carried Romeo. With kisses for both their mom and Eric, the boys were taken up to get ready for bed. Jesse and Stephanie also said their goodnights and with an extra hug for her two older children, Dot watched them follow their father upstairs.

Amanda and Richie made small talk while Jon was busy with the kids. Moving with Dot a little to the side, she discussed their coming at roughly 4:30 to provide any last minute help that might be needed. Dot smiled her thanks and surprised herself by giving Amanda a quick hug first this time.

A short time later Jon returned, letting them all know that Romeo and Jake had fallen almost immediately asleep and Jesse and Stephanie were watching some TV in their rooms.

Taking Dot’s hand in his, Eric thanked them for keeping the kids tonight and accepted the hanging garment bag that contained his tux that Amanda handed to him. Turning to Amanda as she handed him the bag, he gave her a huge smile.

“I saw what you did this afternoon. Everything is really beautiful and Dot said it’s all due to your arranging. Thank you, Manda.”

Jon and Richie turned to Amanda at Eric’s statement. She blushed lightly at his praise, but firmly laid the credit at Dot’s feet.

“All I did was see to the placement of what Dot had already arranged. If it’s beautiful, it’s due to her good taste, not mine, so you…” she motioned at Eric, “…need to give her your complements!”

Eric laughed at that, but shook his head in mild disagreement.

“I know what I know, Amanda. Remember, I did talk to the author of that good taste before thanking you!”

“Hey, don’t forget who contributed the most – these two here…” she motioned to Jon and Richie, “…they brought the kids over and gave us the break we needed to finish things!”

Dot and Eric thanked Richie and Jon, both men theatrically moaning about running after the younger two. After a laugh by all at that, Amanda spoke again to Dot.

“So, we’ll see you all tomorrow about 4:30, right?”

Jon jumped in then at Dot and Eric’s nods. “We’ll keep the kids until then and then be available to help with whatever is needed.”

Jon answered her, his own hand seeking out Amanda’s. Everyone smiled their goodnights and soon it was just Jon, Richie, and Amanda who were left. Amanda excused herself to talk with Linda regarding the next day and what would be happening as she had not yet retired for the night. With breakfast and lunch discussed, Linda nodded her approval at Amanda and left the kitchen.

Sitting in the living room with their glasses of wine, the three discussed the next day. Richie was closely watching his friend as he knew that tomorrow would be hard for him, even though the situation was not likely to change.

Knowing tomorrow would be busy, Amanda said she was going to go to bed and Jon and Richie agreed that they too would be heading that way shortly. One quick and one lingering kiss later, Amanda said goodnight and went upstairs. A quick stop at both Stephanie and Jesse’s rooms assured her that they too would be going to sleep quickly as it had been a long day. Romeo and Jake were fast asleep, one curled up and one sprawled across the bed. She covered them and closed their doors.

~~~

Sitting in silence for a few minutes after Amanda had left the room, Jon’s sipped at his wine. His thoughts seemed turned inward and his gaze was distant. Richie gave his friend a few minutes and then spoke.

“How you doin’, man?” His voice was soft as he broke through Jon’s thoughts.

“Huh? Oh, I’m okay…” Jon answered, Richie’s voice reminding him that he wasn’t alone in the room.

“You know I’m here if you need anything, right?” Richie asked in guy speak to let his friend know he would listen if Jon wanted to talk.

“Yeah, I know…” Jon’s voice now equally quiet, “…just doing some thinking.”

“I can relate to that. This has to be bringing up a whole lot of different things. It’s not my ex-wife or my kid and MY thoughts are all over the place!” Richie spoke as honestly as he could, trying to get Jon to open up a bit.

“There’s nothing that’s gonna change, Rich, things have been over for longer than you know.” Jon answered softly, then rising quickly to forestall anymore questions, he announced, “…think I’m gonna call it a night.” He put down his wine glass and glanced at Richie.

“Thanks.” His single word and the nod that accompanied it conveying his understanding of what Richie had offered.

He turned toward the stairs, calling back “goodnight” as he climbed up to his room. After seeing his two youngest were fast asleep, he checked on Jesse and Stephanie. Jess was already asleep and Stephanie explained she was finishing watching a movie. Moving into the room, he kissed his daughter goodnight and she hugged him tightly.

Pausing, he sat on her bed. “You okay, baby girl?”

Stephanie nodded, but Jon saw the shimmer of unshed tears in her eyes. Taking her hand in his, Jon spoke softly.

“Yeah, honey, I know…” his voice trailed off as he acknowledged her feelings, as well as the feelings he could feel stirring inside himself.

A small sob escaped Stephanie as she moved into her dad’s arms. “I just kept hoping daddy…I just…”

Jon held his daughter as she softly cried and murmured to her, reassuring her of his and her mother’s love for her and her brothers. The love she felt from her father soon calmed the young woman and with a brush of his hands across her cheeks to remove the tears, he kissed her.

“Mom and I will always be there for you, Steph, for all of you guys. We can’t ever stop loving you, that’s one love that never ends.” Looking at her dad, Stephanie nodded and gave him a small smile.

“I know, daddy. I love you.”

“I love you too, baby. Get some sleep, okay?”

He brushed her hair softly back from her face as she settled herself down into the covers. He paused at the doorway as she smiled at him and he returned the smile as he closed her door, hearing the click of the light as she turned it off.

Jon turned from the room, deep in thought as he walked back to his own.

~~~

Entering his bedroom, Jon found Amanda sitting up with a small pad and a pen, writing something that commanded her attention for a few moments when he came in.

“What are you doin’, hon?” He asked as he began getting undressed.

“Just making some notes about tomorrow, some things I remembered after helping out a little today.” She bit the end of the pen, thought for a moment, added one more item and then put the pad and pen aside.

“Kids all settled in?” She asked, giving him her full attention.

Nodding at her a bit absentmindedly, he finished undressing and went to the bathroom before returning to the bed. Getting in beside her, he gave an audible sigh and she turned to him.

“What?” She asked, knowing something was on his mind.

“Steph was a bit upset. She said she kept thinking her mom and I would…work things out, I guess.”

“I’m sure this must be hard for them, especially Stephanie and Jesse as they’re both old enough to understand.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “Was she okay when you left?”

“Yeah, we talked and she seemed okay. Hate to see her cry, though.” Jon’s voice roughened a bit as it was hard to see his child hurt.

“I’m sorry, Jon. This must be hard for all of you.” He nodded at her, but didn’t answer.

Not sure what he needed, she just took his hand in hers and held it. The warmth of her hand in his finally penetrated and turning to her, his eyes took in that she was wearing a nightgown, something she hadn’t done before.

Plucking one of the shoulder straps with his fingers, he asked with a small smile, “What’s this?”

“Just in case we have a night time visitor.” She answered him, smiling in return.

Turning to her fully now, he moved his hand from her shoulder to her breast, his eyes darkening already.

“You can put it back on,” his voice lowered as he swiftly divested her of the garment.

Silently he touched her, rousing her to accept his need. Quickly moving on top of her, he buried himself inside her, his eyes closed. Something in his body language clued Amanda into the knowledge that tonight was more than just simple lovemaking. Jon was escaping from his thoughts, however, on this night Amanda couldn’t fault him and simply gave him the release he needed, both emotionally and physically. Her own pleasure came quietly and afterwards she just held him, bearing his weight on her until he finally rolled off.

A few minutes later she put her nightgown back on and Jon followed her example with a pair of loose shorts. After what seemed longer than what it really was, Jon turned on his side, pulling her back towards him and curled around her. Sleep was long in coming to both that night.

John Francis - Chapter 172

Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 8:06 AM
Shaking her head from side to side, Dot began explaining. “Because all the things that broke us up still exist and aren’t going to change. He’s not going to stop touring, stop his involvement with The Soul, stop his charity work, or stop any of the dozens of things he does that take him away from me and the kids. During the 18 years we were married there were times we were more apart than together. I finally reached my limit. I want someone who will be there with me every night and that is never going to be Jon.”

“Do you love Eric?” Amanda asked, then almost slapped her own hand over her mouth. Dot saw her wide eyes and stunned expression and laughed.

“It’s okay. Yes, I do love Eric and he loves me. It’s just that my life is about to really change tomorrow and…well, Jon is…” she trailed off, then made herself finish. “…Jon is a hard act to follow.”

“Dot, I honestly don’t know what to say,” Amanda admitted truthfully. Smiling at her, Dot nodded in understanding.

“You don’t have to say anything. Thanks for letting me talk though.”

“I really do wish you every happiness,” Amanda spoke, reaching for Dot’s hand as she did. She received a warm smile in return.

Before the women could continue their conversation further, they heard a knock at the front door and then the door opening.

“Dorothea! Hello dear! It’s Carol!” Mrs. Bongiovi’s voice was clear as she entered the house.

“In the kitchen!” Dot called back.

Carol entered the kitchen all smiles, carrying some bags, until her eyes happened onto Amanda.

“Hello Mrs. Bongiovi.” Amanda greeted her evenly.

“Oh…hello…why are you…I mean, I certainly didn’t except to see you here.” Carol finished rather lamely.

Dot answered for her.

“She came over to give me a hand when I felt I was drowning earlier! She’s been an amazing help.” She winked at Amanda.

“Well, isn’t that nice.” Carol replied emotionlessly. “Where are my grandchildren?” She asked Dot.

“Oh, Amanda had Jon and Richie come get them for the day. They’ll get them ready for us to pick up on the way to the rehearsal dinner tonight.”

Carol’s voice was a bit petulant as she stated, “Well, I came over to see what I could do, but there doesn’t seem to be anything.”

Before Dot could speak up, Amanda stood. “Actually, I need to get going to finish that last errand, so I should be on my way.”

Rolling her eyes a bit out of Carol’s sight, Dot agreed that she was quite set now.

“Amanda thanks so much for everything! We’ll see you at six tonight to get the kids.”

Moving to Dot’s side, Amanda gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I was glad to help, Dot. Call any time.” She gathered her coat and purse. “See you later tonight.” She called out as she headed toward the front door and out to the car.

~~~

“Well…” Carol’s tone brisk and sarcastic as she turned toward Dot, “…you’d better show me what that woman managed to do to your elegant wedding. Lord only knows we won’t have much time to undo the damages.”

Although it was not in Dot’s nature to be cruel, she did take a rather perverse pleasure in the fact that Carol Bongiovi, no matter how she tried, could not find fault with anything Amanda had done, especially when Dot exclaimed repeatedly just how pleased she was and that she didn’t want a single thing changed.

When Carol had offered her help to her former daughter-in-law, Dorothea had found it hard to refuse. She had known Jon’s mother since she was 17 and although she was now divorced from her son, they had the bond of many years and four grandchildren, a bond that Carol at least didn’t see any reason to alter in the least. She had continued to drop over whenever she was nearby, usually without calling, and it had taken Dot some time to get Eric to grudgingly accept that Jon’s mother would always be a part of their lives.

Dot listened to Carol with half her concentration and considered what had happened today and her talk with Amanda. She had not been lying when she had relayed how her close friend, Melissa, who was to be her matron of honor for the wedding, had just droned on and on about ‘was she sure’ - ‘Jon had been her husband for so long’ - ‘she could change her mind’, and other unwise chatter until Dot, dealing with her own emotions, had finally told Melissa that she wanted some time to herself. After promising to call if she needed further help, she had managed to get the peace and quiet she craved.

That peace and quiet lasted only a short time, however, as the kids’ nanny was sick with a stomach virus and Dot suddenly found her two youngest to have what she always called a ‘wild day’, meaning they had the attention span of a flea and were constantly underfoot. She had recruited Jesse and Stephanie, but after an hour or so knew this wasn’t going to be enough. It was then that the thought of calling Amanda had come to mind.

As Amanda’s help and their subsequent conversation played out in her mind, she found her thoughts again turning to Jon and the past.

~~~

After picking up Eric’s tux which she would give to Dot and Eric tonight when they got the kids for the rehearsal dinner, Amanda drove to Jon’s house where she was met by two rather haggard looking men who acted as if an angel of mercy had just arrived. She laughed at the two of them and told them to get the boys into the showers quickly as it was 4:30 and they had very little time left. She went upstairs and found Stephanie in her room, already showered and trying her hand at makeup.

“Hey hon...” Amanda greeted her as she walked into the room, seeing how heavy-handed the young woman was being with her make-up.

“Steph, I sure don’t know the rules your mom has, but you do. Tonight is really special for her and Eric and I think we should all do our part to help, don’t you?”

She gave the young girl a small squeeze on the shoulder, hearing her sigh and begin removing most of the makeup she had just put on.

After her busy day, Amanda showered quickly and was sitting her robe, hair wrapped in a towel, painting her toenails, when Stephanie knocked on the door. She had on a light lip gloss and very mild blush and smiling at her, Amanda winked.

“I knew I could count on you, Stephanie. Thank you.”

Returning her attention to her few remaining toenails, it took her a second to realize that Stephanie was still at the door. She looked at the girl with a question in her eyes.

“You like my mom, don’t you?” Stephanie asked softly.

“Yeah, honey, I like her a lot.” Amanda replied just as softly.

A quick nod, then “I’m glad” as Stephanie left the room.

Jon entered the room a few minutes later, announcing that he had turned the three boys over to Linda as they were all ready to go when Dot and Eric arrived.

“So what happened today? What did Dot need you for?” He could contain his curiosity no longer.

“Actually, very little…just a few organizational details. I was glad to do what I could and I think it really helped her to get the kids out of her hair for a bit, so thanks for coming to get them.”

He accepted her words at face value and watched as she finished dressing.

“Jon, I was wondering - and if Dot agrees - maybe the kids could sleep here tonight. Let her have the night before her wedding without the responsibilities of being a mom.”

He thought about that for a few moments before replying.

“Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. They haven’t had a sleep over in a bit and I want them to come over when their mom and Eric are on their honeymoon, so let’s start tonight.”

He walked over and kissed her.

“Good idea, babe.”

She smiled as she watched him enter the shower to get cleaned up himself after a day with his boys.

~~~

Amanda’s cell rang as she was putting the finishing touches to her makeup. Looking at the caller ID, she could see it was Dot.

“Hi there!” She answered enthusiastically.

“Hi! How are the troops?” Dot asked, laughing a little.

“Wash, pressed, and ready to march!” Amanda laughed herself at that image. “Oh, I also got Eric’s tux, so it’s here for you to pick up.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate that.” Dot’s voice expressed her genuine gratitude.

“No problem, glad to help…” Amanda answered, playing down her contribution, “…but we were wondering if after the dinner you might let us keep the kids tonight.”

A chuckle then outright laughter met her question.

“You mean YOU were wondering if the kids could spend the night!”

Laughing herself, Amanda answered her.

“Well, I thought of it first, but he agreed of course!”

“Thanks again, Manda, that would be really nice. I can see things are well in hand, so we’ll see you soon.”

Dot smiled as she ended the conversation, thinking ahead to having a night to herself before the “Big Day”.

John Francis - Chapter 171

Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 9:42 AM
Motioning for Amanda to follow her to the kitchen, Dot made to grab for coffee cups, but Amanda held up a hand and directed her to a chair.

“Sit! Just tell me which cupboard.” Dot did so and Amanda got the coffee, cream, and sugar, bringing two cups back.

Draining half her cup, Dot gave a big sigh and slumped down in her seat a little. Amanda grabbed the pot and brought it to the table. She saw a notepad and pen by the phone in the kitchen and grabbed those too.

“Okay, take a deep breath and have a little more coffee, then tell me what you need.” She watched as Dot visibly relaxed at having a few minutes respite from whatever had been happening that morning.

“The kid’s nanny has the flu. Eric’s tuxedo is still at the cleaners. My dress is not fitting right. I can’t get the kids out from underfoot. The chairs and table areas need to be arranged in the tent. The caterer is here to see the set up and it isn’t ready. The florist just called and will be bringing the flowers today instead of tomorrow as one of their trucks broke down and there isn’t time for a rental. Eric had some last minute business stuff that took him into the city and I’m very quickly going insane!”

“Wow! No wonder! That’s a lot to deal with.” Amanda paused, thinking hard.

“Alright, let’s tackle this a little at a time.” She pulled out her cell and dialed.

“Jon? Hey, you and Richie need to do something. Yeah, I know you’re in the studio, but this is more important…No, I’m not kidding...I need you and Rich to come over and get the kids for a few hours and watch them. No, the nanny is sick and there is too much to be done for Dot or Stephanie to handle. Yes, right away. Jon!…Okay, see you in about 15 minutes.” She hung up her cell and wrote on the pad in front of her.

Dot’s mouth hung open briefly as she listened to Amanda ordering Jon around. She then shut it and gave a small smile. Amanda was gazing off into the distance thinking and didn’t notice.

“Now, the chairs and tables?” She asked Dot.

“There is a heavy duty party tent already up outside with heaters ready for tomorrow. The chairs need to get arranged and there is an arched flower lattice work alter that will be where the ceremony will take place. The florist is bringing that.”

“You got a nice break on the weather, having this outside.” Amanda glanced out a nearby window as she spoke.

“Yeah, I triple checked the forecast, but there was no snow and supposedly relatively mild weather. Besides we’re going into the tent from the house and there will be the heaters.” Dot answered.

“Okay, give me the name of the dry cleaner’s where Eric’s suit is and directions and I’ll get that after the chairs and the florist arrive.” Dot did so. They were refreshing their coffees when they heard a knock on the door and then the stomping of several kid feet and grown males entering the house.

Jon and Richie came into the kitchen followed by the boys and Stephanie. Amanda addressed them all.

“Your dad and Richie are going to take you all to his house for the afternoon. Let’s go get your clothes for tonight and you can shower there and be ready for the dinner.” Turning to Dot, she verified the time. “They need to be ready to leave at six, right?” A nod ‘yes’ answered that question.

Both men shot her a look at the idea of getting the three younger boys ready and she just raised her eyebrows at them in a “forget it” look. Turning to Dot, she asked about the kids’ clothes.

“All in their closets in hanging bags.” Amanda marched out of the kitchen and enlisting Stephanie’s help she gathered the bags and shoes for the boys. Making sure she had their clothes for tonight, as well as for the wedding tomorrow, she packed some small bags with shoes, pajamas, underwear, and the like. Jon didn’t know it yet, but they were keeping the kids tonight.

She cajoled Stephanie with the thought that with her dad and Richie watching the boys, she would have more time to get ready as “we girls just need more time and men just don’t get it”. Stephanie nodded her agreement and by the time they all returned downstairs she was all smiles. Dot gave a quick look to make sure the boys had everything, including clean underwear, and Richie and Jon took the clothes and bags out to the car. Dot just gave a tired wave as they all began to depart, but Amanda followed them out to the car.

Pulling Jon and Richie aside, she made it clear that they were to watch the boys, not return to the studio, as it would spoil things for Dot and Eric if one of the kids got hurt right before their wedding and honeymoon. Both men nodded at her, not sure how she had commanded this performance, but realizing they were well and truly stuck now. Everyone got loaded into the SUV and giving Jon a quick kiss and a whispered “thanks babe” in his ear, she waved them off.

As Jon was leaving with his car filled with kids and bags and a guitarist, the florist arrived and was directed by Amanda back toward the tented area. The guys wanted to go through the house to save some time and distance, however, she firmly vetoed that, with a frown and a sharp “you’re going to track mud through her house the night before her wedding? Were you planning on getting a tip or just doing this for fun?” The men looked at her, standing with her hands on her hips and a no nonsense expression on her face and just started hauling the flowers around.

Amanda stopped one of the men. “Who’s in charge here?” The man pointed out a dark blonde man, a bit older than the others. Moving immediately to his side, Amanda held out her hand.

“Amanda Matthews, coordinator, and you are?”

“Sam Johnson, supervisor.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Johnson. Once your men have the flowers back in the tent area, please let me know so we can get the correct placement.” He nodded at her and returned to directing his men.

Amanda went back into the kitchen. Dot was still sitting over her coffee.

“Dot? Where are the chairs and the tables?” Pointing her to an alcove off the kitchen that led to a large garage area, Amanda found a side door and looking out saw the equipment delivery truck and crew. Coming back through the kitchen to grab her pad, she wrote the name of Sam Johnson - flowers, on it and then sought out the people responsible for the chair delivery. She found five men outside towards the back, leaning against the house, having a smoke.

“Who’s in charge here?” She again began. One man identified himself and she added his name to the list, as well as the name of his company.

“The chairs need to be brought to the tent area and set up.”

“Not in our contract lady.” The man who had identified himself as in charge replied laconically, taking a deep drag of his cigarette.

Amanda smiled sweetly at him. ‘Mr. Hanson, I’m sure a man in your position has a copy of that contract with you.”

“Nope, back at the office.” He casually tossed out.

“Well, I’m sure then that Mrs. Bon Jovi has a copy, but first let me make a phone call.” She pulled out her cell phone in front of the men and dialed, but did not push the send button to connect.

“Hi, Mr. Bon Jovi? It’s Amanda. Jon, I need a favor. There is a delivery company called ‘New York’s Finest’ that has delivered the chairs and tables to Dot’s. Oh, you’ve heard of them? Well, here’s what I need you to do. I need you to put out the word to everyone from the mayor of New York City to the ones in Jersey to Philadelphia on down the line that this company should never under any circumstances be used for anything or anyone of importance.” She kept half an eye on the man name Hanson as she pretended to speak.

“Well, of course I know the governor was planning on using them in a few weeks, Jon, after all that is my job. Oh, you’ll call him and have him cancel any order he was going to place? That’s great, Mr. Bon Jovi, I really appreciate it. What? Yes, Jon, I understand this means getting another company for all Soul functions and local Jovi concerts too. Yes, I appreciate your help with this. Thanks so much. Bye for now.”

During this conversation, Hanson’s face had been growing redder and redder and the men who worked with him were becoming visibly upset and glaring both at Hanson and at her.

Amanda fixed him with a sweet but deadly stare. “Now Mr. Hanson, have you suddenly recalled that the contract does call for set up of the rented equipment or do I make that phone call for real?”

While she was sure she could see him mouthing the words “fucking bitch” as he motioned the men to get busy, she was quite delighted to get another thing done.

“Make sure everything is perfect inside that tent, Mr. Hanson, because I will make that phone call and I will make sure the owner of your company knows the reason why.”

~~~

Within a short time the inside of the tent had been transformed. The chairs were in perfect alignment with their rose colored covers neatly placed, a crisp bow at the back of each. The florists had placed their deliveries under Amanda’s watchful eye and the area where the actual vows would be said was a riot of pinks and mauves that would show off the happy couple to perfection.

In between doing the tent arranging, Amanda had sent Dot off to take a hot bath and relax. She returned to the house now and after calling her name, found Dot in her dressing room, sitting in a warm terry cloth robe. Amanda handed her a glass of wine she had brought with her and sat for a moment with her own, giving Dot an update on what had taken place.

With a look of amazement on her face, Dot finally managed to ask, “How did you know to do all that?”

“I ran my husband’s company for years. We had deliveries, vendors, clients…you know, the usual. Some needed a firm hand and I was the one who supplied it as my husband was usually out in the field.”

“Thanks so much, Manda, I think I just got a little overwhelmed.” Dot’s smile was grateful and much more relaxed than when Amanda had first arrived.

“I’ll be picking up Eric’s tux on my way back to Jon’s, but first I wanted to see what you meant about your dress not being right.” Dot drew her wedding dress out from its protective bag. She had her underwear on underneath her robe and pulled the gown up over her shoulders, with Amanda buttoning the back.

“I tried this on earlier by myself and it seemed that one side was hanging longer than the other.” Dot explained. Standing back a distance Amanda looked at the dress from all sides. It was an elegantly simple off-white A-line lace over satin sheath that was floor length, but without a train. The scooped neck and long sleeves that ended in a triangle over the top of her hands added to the elegance.

“From what I can see, everything is perfectly even. I think with all the small buttons in the back and the fact that you were doing it yourself, they weren’t all matched. It looks perfect and you look so beautiful in it.”

Her smile was genuine as Dot really did look so lovely in the dress. Helping her take it off and putting it back in the protective bag as Dot put her robe back on, Amanda decided she would soon ask the question that had occurred to her back when Dot first asked her for help today.

As the two women walked down the stairs into the kitchen, Amanda had her peek into the tent to see the results. Dot’s wide smile was answer enough. The trucks were gone and other than the rehearsal dinner tonight, everything was ready. The caterer would be there at five tomorrow to set up and Amanda promised herself she would make those phone calls.

Sitting in the kitchen again, this time with a glass of wine instead of coffee, the two women sat in companionable silence. Amanda finally threw caution to the wind and asked her question.

“Dot…why me?” She knew the other woman would know what she meant.

“You mean why you and not one of my close friends?” Dot eyed her over the rim of her wine glass.

Shaking her head ‘yes’, Amanda agreed that was the question.

“I had one of my friends over earlier, but all she kept talking about was Jon – Jon and me, Jon and you, our divorce, everything. It was too much and I didn’t want to hear it, so I told her I had everything under control and I would see her tonight.”

Meeting Amanda’s eyes in a steady gaze, Dot continued. “I knew you wouldn’t do that.”

“Nope, not a chance of that happening!” Amanda had to smile at the absurdity of that even remotely occurring.

Dot also smiled, then took a deep breath and turned to fully engage Amanda’s attention.

“I have a confession to make…” she started out, softening her words with a half smile, “…I really didn’t want to like you.” Amanda made wide eyes at that, but wisely said nothing.

After pausing for what seemed an extremely long time, Dot took a deep breath and continued, her voice low and soft, her eyes distant.

“It’s been so long I can’t remember not loving Jon. After the divorce, I could handle his one-nighters because I never really knew anything concrete about them and never met them. You, though…he brought you to his home. You…I could see right away…were going to be a problem.”

Amanda took a deep breath, but wasn’t sure what to say. She just kept her eyes on Dot, waiting to hear what Jon’s ex-wife had to say to her.

“But I took a chance myself and got to know you a bit over the last several weeks. I’ve seen how you are with the kids, with Jon, and with me. You aren’t perfect, thank god, and I think you’d better develop a stronger backbone with Jon or else he’ll start taking things for granted, but I am glad to see that the person he brought around, the one who’s going to be with the kids, is you.”

Slightly stunned at Dorothea’s words, Amanda was quiet for a few minutes as she thought. She raised her eyes then, meeting Dot’s.

“You still love him.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

Taking her own deep breath now, Dot answered honestly.

“Yes, I still love him.”

Feeling an ache begin inside, Amanda made herself ask the question she expected to break her heart.

“Then why, Dot? Why don’t you tell him?”

John Francis - Chapter 170

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 9:55 AM
Juggling bags and reaching for the car keys, Amanda failed to notice there was a problem with the car until she had put her bags in the back. Stopping abruptly, she walked around to the right side and saw that both tires on that side of the car were flat.

“Oh shit! He’s gonna be pissed!” She wailed, thinking of the cost of new tires in her terms, not Jon’s. She went to the driver’s seat and made her call.

“Hi hon…” she started out, dismayed at her news.

“Hey babe, what’s up?” Jon answered. She could hear Richie’s guitar in the background and knew she was interrupting.

“Well, I’m over at the salon I went to before and when I got to the car…well, there are two flat tires…” her voice dropped as she spoke.

“Two flats? His voice rose in question.

“Yeah, on the right side…” She got out and walked over and looked more closely. “…I see nail heads, so I guess I drove over them and didn’t know.”

“Okay, give me the address and we’ll be there in a few.” She did and they hung up.

She looked again at the tires and started counting the nails – there had to be at least seven in each tire. Surprised at the amount and shaking her head in confusion, she locked the car and walked over to a nearby Starbucks. Grabbing a coffee and getting out of the cold sounded like a good idea. Where the hell could I have driven over that many nails? She thought, again shaking her head. As her husband’s company had dealt in construction, she knew that job sites were notorious for hardware being strewn about on the roads and out on a regular road the chances of one nail were pretty good, but more than seven in each tire?

She sat drinking her coffee, waiting for Jon to arrive, thinking about recent events. She had managed to put the package delivered that morning out of her mind, thinking it was just an insult offered by Jackie, but the tires added to the package had her thinking harder about these recent events.

Jon and Richie arrived shortly and set about removing the tires from the car. Richie remained behind with the jacked up car for Amanda and Jon to get new tires on the rims. Both men were surprised at the number of nails in the tires and commented on it, but Amanda still didn’t want to discuss the package as she didn’t want Richie’s feelings to be hurt by Jackie. The tires were quickly swapped out and the two returned and the men put the tires back on. With Richie driving that car, Amanda rode with Jon back to the house as she was done for the day.

~~~

At the house, Linda had gone out to the garage where the trash bins were, taking out garbage from the kitchen. She started to put the bag into the can, pushing it down as the can was quite full when suddenly a strong odor hit her, coming from the trash can. Removing the bag, she moved a few things and saw the box that had been delivered to Amanda that morning. A cooler was inside, the lid askew, and when she looked it was obvious where the odor was coming from. Surprise crossed her face as she realized what had been delivered and that Amanda hadn’t said anything about it. Mr. B. needs to know about this, was her last thought as she left the garage.

~~~

The three returned to the house and Amanda took her packages upstairs to put things away. Richie and Jon returned to the studio after a quick cleanup from changing the tires. Settling down on the couch with one of her new books, Amanda spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing.

In the studio, Jon and Richie were working, but intermittently discussing what had happened to the car.

“How the hell do tires get that many nails in them?” Jon queried his friend with a puzzled look on his face.

“Beats the hell outta me, man. Maybe a box of ‘em fell off a truck – that’s about all I can think of.” Richie answered, also puzzled.

Shaking their heads they returned to work.

~~~

After dinner that night during a time when Richie and Amanda were both out of the kitchen, Linda pulled Jon aside, telling him what she had found in the garbage. Astonished, Jon followed her out to the garage and saw the package.

“Did this come with the regular mail?” He asked her.

“Yes, the mailman rang and said there was a package, but no signature was required.” Linda answered.

“Who would have sent this to her?” Jon mused out loud.

“I don’t know, Mr. B., but why didn’t she say anything is also a question.” Linda replied astutely.

“Yeah, that it is. Thanks Linda.” Jon nodded a bit absentmindedly as he thought about the implications of what he had learned.

Walking back into the kitchen, they saw Richie and Amanda had returned and were getting coffee ready. Linda excused herself, returning to her room, as Jon grabbed a cup himself. Sitting at the table again, he turned to Amanda.

“Babe, why didn’t you tell me about that package?” His voice was soft, but his eyes caught and held hers.

Amanda started when she heard what he asked. She opened her mouth to reply, shut it, and then bit her bottom lip.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, Jon. I still don’t and I’d really rather just forget about it.” Her voice was a bit pleading as she didn’t want to discuss her suspicions in front of Richie. Luck was not on her side, however, as Richie immediately joined the discussion.

“What package?” His look was toward Jon and then Amanda and then back to Jon.

“Somebody sent Amanda a package of…well, some kind of shit…” he explained.

“What the hell?” Richie’s voice raised in surprise. “Who would do that?” He looked at Amanda then, but saw her shaking her head back and forth indicating she didn’t know.

Shrugging her shoulders, Amanda replied to both men. “I really don’t know. There was no return address and no note or anything.” Looking from one to the other, she asked, “Look, can’t we just forget about this? I mean I guess I just pissed somebody off…it’s done, okay?”

In Jon’s mind it wasn’t, but he nodded at her. “You will let me know if something else happens, right?”

Relieved to be getting off this subject, Amanda agreed.

Jon and Richie exchanged looks as Amanda got up to get the coffee pot. Both knew this subject was far from over.

~~~

Thursday morning was cold and clear. Jon and Richie were first up this morning, both sitting in the kitchen with their coffee discussing the day before.

“I think she has an idea who sent that to her but doesn’t want to talk about it.” Jon stated, adding that he had tried to talk more about it with her before bed, but she seemed anxious to have him drop the subject.

“Don’t know who would have done that ‘cause I can’t imagine Amanda pissing anyone off that much.” Richie replied and in truth he couldn’t think of anyone.

“I told Linda that if anymore packages come for her I want to know about them first.” Richie nodded at Jon’s statement, indicating his approval of that idea.

The men dropped the subject as they heard Amanda coming down the stairs, calling out her good morning as she entered the kitchen. Giving first Jon then Richie quick kisses, she yawned and grabbed her own coffee. She was fresh from the shower, her hair still wet, and dressed for the day.

“I can’t believe I slept in this late!” She grinned at Jon. “You guys keep way too late hours!”

Richie cleared his throat to get her attention.

“Eh hem, excuse me, I believe I had nothing to do with how late you were up last night. And if I did and don’t remember, just fuckin’ shoot me right now!”

He teased her as she blushed red and swatted at his arm. Giving him a push, she tried to shoo them away.

“Don’t you two have work to do or something?” She laughed as Richie guarded his playing arm and Jon playfully covered his stomach with his hands.

“Yes, ma’am, we’re going, we’re going.” Richie teased her as both men moved to head towards the studio.

“Good decision, boys…always knew you two were smart!” She laughed as they both turned at that, hands on their hips. She was awaiting what she knew was sure to be a smart ass response when her cell phone rang, saving her from their ‘wit’.

“Hi Dot!” She answered, her voice cheerful. “How are you holding up?”

Dot took a deep breath before answering. “Pretty well considering I have a house full of relatives coming and four children who seem to think their mother is about to drop off the face of the earth!”

“Uh oh, sounds like you could use some help. Is there anything I can do?”

“Actually, there is. Do you think you could spare me a few hours this afternoon before the rehearsal dinner tonight?”

Amanda smiled even though Dorothea couldn’t see her. “Of course I could. I’m guessing as soon as possible would be best, right?”

Dot’s sigh of relief was huge. “Manda, that would be so great! I’ll see you soon and thanks!” They both hung up and Amanda turned back to the men.

“Dorothea needs some help for a few hours and since you two are doing studio time I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. It’ll give me something to do.”

Jon’s eyebrows raised as he asked, “Did she say what she needed?”

“No, but she did say she was expecting a full load of relatives and the kids were acting like she was about to drop off the planet!”

Finishing her coffee, Amanda got directions again to Dot’s and taking one of the cars she quickly drove over. Jon had given her the gate code and she used it to enter and parked close to the front door. There were delivery trucks and catering vehicles and trucks for equipment rental and just from that alone Amanda could imagine that Dot and Eric were a bit overwhelmed.

Knocking on the door, Amanda jumped back as three boys opened it and ran outside. “Go play football or something!” She heard Dot’s voice using her most severe ‘mother’ tone.

Amanda entered after making sure there were no more kids running out and called, “Dot? It’s Amanda!”

“Oh thank god! I’m so glad you could come over! Stephanie! Steph!” Dot’s voice rang out through the large house.

“Mom! What?” A petulant teenage voice could be heard from another room.

“Please go outside and watch your brothers for me for a while.” Dot asked her eldest.

“Aw mom! Do I have to?” Stephanie replied, entering the room with a somewhat mutinous look on her face.

“Yes! I need a little time here and I need some help from you. Please, Steph, I have so much to do!”

“Okay, okay, I’m going.” Stephanie grumbled as she grabbed her jacket and stomped toward the front door, not even saying hello in her pique.

John Francis - Chapter 169

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 2:24 PM
After the late night before, Amanda found herself sleeping in far longer than she usually did. Jon was quite adamant about proving that while she was not the ‘flavor of the moment’, she did have several flavors he found immensely appealing and once again it was close to dawn before she fell into a deep sleep.

Yawning her way into the shower, she threw on a thick robe and wandered downstairs to make some coffee. Linda was in the kitchen obviously making lunch and Amanda gave her a bit of a chagrined smile at waking up to late in the day. Linda just winked at her and told her fresh coffee would be ready in just a few minutes. Amanda nodded, still yawning, and got the cream out for the much needed brew.

“There’s a package for you by the doorway.” Linda informed her once Amanda had filled her cup and taken a few life-saving sips.

“A package? From where? Florida?” Amanda thought her mother might have sent her something.

“No, it says it was shipped from New York, although there is no return address on it.” Linda supplied.

“Hmmm, I don’t think I know anyone in New York.” Amanda brought her coffee with her into the living room, along with a serrated edged knife to open the package. She looked at the typed label with her name and Jon’s address, but no return address. Setting her coffee to the side, she opened the cardboard box to find a Styrofoam cooler inside. More curious by the moment, she lifted the lid of the cooler and abruptly sat back on her heels, turning her head, as the stench of some type of animal manure filled the air.

Dropping the lid, she backed away from the package, incensed that someone would play such a mean practical joke. Jesus! It didn’t take Jackie long to get her revenge, did it? She quickly put the cooler lid back on to contain some of the odor and opened the front door to help dispel the rest. Walking back into the kitchen, she was about to ask Linda for some air freshener but the woman had obviously gone to the back of the house for something. Looking under the kitchen sink, she found a can of Lysol and sprayed it liberally in the front hallway and living room. Gathering the offending package, she wrapped it back together as best she could and going out into the garage where the large trash bins were stored, she deposited it carefully inside one, making sure the cooler lid stayed closed and putting some other items over it.

Nodding grimly as her task was completed, Amanda left the garage, telling no one what had happened.

~~~

After dressing, Amanda volunteered to take lunch into the studio where Jon and Richie had planned to spend the day. Struggling a little with the full tray, she managed to get the handle open and then used her butt to open it the rest of the way to get herself and the tray inside. She suddenly realized that in backing into the room she had backed into someone right inside the door. She stopped for a moment, not daring to move as at that moment she wasn’t sure if it was Richie or Jon. A second later, she was sure.

“Richie! Move! This tray is heavy!” She scolded as she turned and practically thrust the tray of food into his arms.

“How did you know it was me?” Richie asked, curious.

“You’re taller than Jon and you smell different.” Amanda supplied.

“Did I hear my name?” A voice called out as Jon came around the corner toward the door. Amanda gave him a quick kiss.

“Yes you did. Lunch is ready, oh master!” She giggled as she teased him. Then smiling even wider, she included Richie. “Oh excuse me…your lunch is ready, oh masters!” Her eyes gleamed wickedly at the almost identical expressions on the faces of the two men.

“Oh for heaven’s sake! Will you two get your minds out of the gutter! I’m hungry too, you know!” She grinned as she scolded them as they all sat down to eat.

“Jon, since you two are working today, I wanted to take one of the cars and do some girl things. Any reason why that won’t work today?” Amanda wanted to go get her legs and eyebrows waxed again and a trim of her long hair.

“Nah, we’re planning a pretty full day, so go ahead…” he grinned at her, a small smirk starting, “…got anything in mind for me?”

“No, gutter boy, GIRL things!” She laughed as his pout, then smiled when he flashed her his famous grin at her wink.

Leaving the two to work, Amanda made a call for an appointment at a salon she had visited when she first arrived in Jersey and was told that of course there was an appointment available for Ms. Matthews. A little frown furrowed her brow at the “of course!” response from the salon, but she just shrugged it off and went to get ready.

Throwing her hair into a braid, she dressed casually in tan slacks with a dark green sweater, her brown leather boots and a small leather purse. A quick application of light makeup completed her preparations and after a quick trip to the kitchen to let Linda know she was leaving for a while, she was out the door.

Following her written directions, she was soon in the area of the salon, although she was an hour early for her appointment. There were several shops in this area and she decided to spend the remaining time walking the area. She parked by the salon and grabbing her purse and keys, locked the car and started walking. There was a beauty supply retail store that caught her eye. Inside she spent almost a half hour gathering some hair ties, a few new hair chopsticks, a new mascara, and a few different lipsticks. There were only a couple of other customers in the store and with the help of one the salesclerks she found everything she needed. Paying for her purchases, she then went into a small book store where she found a several paperbacks from some of her favorite authors. Close to the counter there were numerous magazines and again the name “Bon Jovi” caught her eye.

This magazine was of the tabloid variety and opening it she found several pictures of herself that had obviously been taken when they were overseas. She was astounded to see that some of the pictures were from Ireland when they were at Dublin castle. She hadn’t seen anyone taking pictures of her there and wondered if Jon or Richie would know. The pictures were a bit grainy and she thought they were not something a professional would have taken. The thought crossed her mind that she had been caught by another tourist’s camera who had then sold the pictures. The bruising of her face was very vivid, however, and she grimaced when she realized that her mother would be sure to see these.

She started reading the article that accompanied the pictures and her surprised turned into shock. The article insinuated and nearly stated that she was with the entire band, not just Jon, and showed pictures of Richie holding her hand, a few of Tico doing the same, and also of David and Hugh with her. Several shots of Jon holding her arm or hand or with his arm around her waist were also in the magazine. The person who had written the article had also obtained the police report of her attack and details of the arrest of Sean MacWilliams. Again there was information about her husband’s death, but this time there was more about her. She was named as the administrator of their business and somehow they had found out about her insurance settlement and the sale of the business.

Reading more of the article she saw there was some real trash about Jon; apparently some of the women he had been with had talked. One woman, who was not named, talked about how Jon had sent security to her during a concert and that she had met him back stage afterwards where they quickly engaged in “the most wonderful sex I’ve ever had”. Amanda started fidgeting while reading this, hoping Jon’s children would never hear about it. She wondered why all this was coming out now, but then realized that she would never have picked up this type of magazine before she met Jon, so she really didn’t know how much had been out there in the public domain prior to meeting him.

Shaking her head, she returned the magazine to the rack and paid for her books. Glancing at her watch, she realized she would be late if she didn’t hurry. She left the shop and walked quickly to the salon, carrying her bags. Entering the salon, she gave her name to the receptionist who informed her they were almost ready for her. She sat in the reception area, thinking about the magazine she had just seen. She was beginning to dread what Jon’s mother would have to say about this and hoped she wouldn’t again be blamed for speaking to someone. Hearing her name called a second time brought her out of her thoughts.

‘Ms. Matthews? We’re ready for you.” A pretty young blonde woman indicated that Amanda should follow her.

“Do you have a place where I can put these bags?” Amanda asked as they walked back to a changing room.

“Of course. There are some lockers.” With the woman leading the way, Amanda put her bags and purse in a locker and pocketed the key. Quickly changing, she discussed the services she wanted with her attendant and within a few minutes she was having her eyebrows done and then her legs.

“Ouch! Does this ever get any less painful?” She joked with the attendant.

“Not that I’ve heard…” the woman smiled at her, shaking her head, “…the things we do for men!”

“I know what you mean, but then again it sure does beat shaving every day!” Amanda joked even as she “ouched” again from another strip being removed. “I just realized that I have a few important events coming up. Do you think you could find out if there is time for me to get a manicure and a pedicure?”

Looking at her a little closely, the attendant responded, “Ms. Matthews, don’t you realize that this salon will make time for whatever you want to have done?”

Frowning at that, Amanda asked, “What do you mean?”

“You’re Mr. Bon Jovi’s girlfriend and you’re coming here. The owner has informed the staff to accommodate you in any manner needed.”

“You’re kidding me!” Amanda tried making light of this and then looked at the woman a little more closely. “It’s publicity, right? Damn! Do they really need to tell someone that I get my legs waxed?” Her voice rose a little as she thought about this small loss of her privacy.

The attendant, perhaps realizing she had spoken a bit out of turn, lowered her voice. “Please, Ms. Matthews, I didn’t mean to upset you. I shouldn’t have said anything. If the owner knew I had talked to you about this I would probably lose my job.”

Shaking her head, Amanda addressed the young woman. “Donna, I’m not that petty. It’s just that this is private. Okay, so I come here, but can it just be that I do come here, not what’s done?”

Nodding vigorously, the woman named Donna agreed. Amanda proceeded with the rest of her treatments, but it was apparent that her mood had changed and not for the better. She was very quiet, speaking only when necessary to the personnel involved, and resolving by the time she was done that she would find another place to go next time. She disliked intensely the lack of privacy and now knew she would have to take this into consideration with everything she did. She tipped each of the women who had helped her and paid her final bill at the front desk. A nicely dressed woman who appeared in her mid-50’s approached Amanda as she was at the desk.

“I hope everything was satisfactory today for you, Ms. Matthews.” By her tone and manner, Amanda guessed this was the owner of the salon.

“Yes, everything was quite satisfactory…as I’m sure I’ll be reading about in some magazine soon.” Her voice was honey coated with ice.

The woman’s eyes widened at that and quickly showing her business savvy, she replied.

“After which I’m guessing we’ll never see you again.” She cocked her head at Amanda as she spoke, her voice low.

“Only if what I do here in private is printed. Not just the mention that I come here.” Amanda replied, looking the owner straight in the eye to convey her meaning.

“Of course, I can understand that. Please be assured that your private business will remain your private business.” The owner smiled, nodding her understanding of Amanda’s intent.

Smiling herself now, Amanda replied, “Then I guess I’ll see you in a few weeks.” She gathered her bags and walked out, heading toward the car.

John Francis - Chapter 168

Monday, September 15, 2008 at 9:23 AM
Arriving at one of the guys’ favorite bars, the three limos pulled up to discharge their passengers. With smoothing of dresses and jackets and fluffing of hair by the women, the ten entered the bar to the sounds of music. The bartender, Al, yelled out a “hey” to the guys and motioned to a back set of tables where they could sit. Two waitresses appeared, along with Al, to take their drink orders and for Al to say hello. The guys all started getting more comfortable, taking off their jackets now and relaxing as the drinks started to arrive and the group got more and more rowdy with laughter and joking all around.

David and Jen kept the crowd laughing with their comments and Richie joined in whenever the opportunity presented. Jackie smiled, but was a little more quiet. Hugh and Kelli talked quietly with each other, laughing when the others threw out their one liners. Jon continued his attentions toward Amanda, still holding her and nuzzling her neck whenever he had the chance.

Throwing in his two cents, Richie looked at them and piped up. “You two need a room?”

Amanda cocked her head at him. “We have a room, Richie. Why? You trying to get rid of us?”

“Nah, just keep seeing Kidd’s face disappearing into your hair. Figured he was whispering naughty things to ya!”

Putting on a shocked face, Amanda laughed. “Jon? Naughty things? But he’s so sweet!”

Four sets of eyes swiveled to her and four mouths dropped open until they caught the gleam in her eyes. The men then threw back their heads laughing.

David threw in “How much have you had to drink tonight, hon?”

“Not enough for the nachos to be in danger!” She smiled back at him.

“Don’t pay any attention to him, Amanda,” Jen elbowed David in the ribs, “he’s doing the same thing to me, he just hasn’t been caught at it yet!”

“Thanks, Jen, I appreciate that. You think you can stick around for a while? These guys seem to think making me blush is like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine. At least, they try hard enough to pull the handle!”

Jen answered, throwing a sly look at David. “You just have to give as good as you get, isn’t that right, FB?” David’s light-toned skin blushed a dark red as he mumbled to her “…G…I swear…”. He laughed when Jen made a “mouth-is-locked-and-key-is-gone” gesture towards her lips. Jon smiled indulgently towards the two and gave a small chuckle.

“They aren’t gonna tell, Manda, I can see it already.”

“I get it…besides, I wanna live a little longer!” Amanda grinned at Jen as she said this.

Excusing herself as the laughter bubbled up, Amanda made her way to the ladies’ room. A few minutes later the door opened and Jackie entered. After using the facilities, the women were washing their hands when Amanda spoke up.

“Sorry we haven’t had much of a chance to talk tonight, Jackie. Seems it’s hard to have a conversation in this crowd.”

“Well, I’ve been out with these guys quite a bit and the women seem to come and go. Just doesn’t seem worth the effort to have a conversation with someone I’m not likely to see again.”

Amanda was not the same woman Jon had met almost two months ago and some of her newly rediscovered backbone and her own naturally slow to ignite but then watch out temper stirred. She spoke to the other woman with not a little sarcasm.

“That’s a bit presumptuous of you. Why would you say something like that?”

Turning towards Amanda with a bit of a bored look on her face, Jackie answered her. “Amanda, right?” She received a nod in return. “Well, Amanda, I’ve known Richie and these guys for years. I’ve seen women come and go and other than the ones they’ve married, none of you seem to last for very long.” Fluffing her hair and re-doing her lipstick, the woman continued.

“Richie and I have an understanding. He hasn’t talked to me about you, so I figure you’re probably not important and I won’t be seeing much of you again.

Raising an eyebrow at her, Amanda stared at her with an even-tempered expression.

“Well, Jackie, I’ve been with Jon for over two months and I’ve never heard YOUR name mentioned, either by Jon or Richie. Perhaps it’s because you aren’t important enough.” Looking the other woman up and down, she then shook her head sadly. “I already know you don’t deserve Richie.”

Jackie’s mouth fell open at that, but she quickly regrouped, her voice now dripping with sarcasm.

“Honey, you aren’t good looking enough for Jon and you’re certainly not young. Obviously you’re just the flavor of the moment, so I guess all I can say is enjoy the ride. The benefits are excellent.”

Unknown to Jackie, Alejandra had come into the bathroom during the last several exchanges, and had overheard both Amanda and Jackie. The door was set back from the sinks and mirrors and she was able to stay out of sight as she had listened.

Choosing that moment to enter, Alejandra, one of the wives of the group, turned to Jackie, her smile sweetly lethal.

“Ah, Jackie, I see your last surgery was not a success. I’m so sorry.” She smiled at the now stunned woman.

“What the hell are you talking about, you bitch!” Jackie hissed loudly.

“Careful, dear, I’m one of the wives, remember? I’m certainly not a ‘flavor of the moment’. Unfortunately, you’re too stupid to realize that neither is Amanda. And, what I meant is, your last boob job was better. This one is…” she cocked her head at Amanda, a gleam in her eye as she perused Jackie’s appearance, “…how do you say it? Uneven? Crooked? Or would the word just be “obvious.”

Jackie’s face suffused with color. “You fuc…” She stopped in mid sentence at the look Alejandra shot her.

“One more word, puta, and I will have Amanda speak to her man who will make sure you cease to exist.” Alejandra knew Jackie would get her meaning, that all her “perks” would disappear and she would never be welcomed back around Bon Jovi.

Her expression now ugly with her anger, Jackie glared at Alejandra. “You think this one…” she gestured towards Amanda, “…has any influence over Jon? He could have anyone. Why would he choose someone so…ordinary?”

Shaking her had back and forth at the stupidity and arrogance of the woman before her, Alejandra actually laughed softly.

“You really are out of the loop, aren’t you dear? You say that you and Richie have an understanding. Well, we all know what that means. It means you’re presentable enough to bring into public when he needs a ‘date’, but you’re not important enough to have intimate knowledge of the band or the men.” She paused briefly as Jackie began to puff up in resentment.

“We all know what Amanda means to Jon. We all know how he hasn’t let her out of his sight for months and we all know what kind of person she is. It’s only you who has no idea. But then again, why should I be surprised at that?” Turning to Amanda before Jackie could respond, she asked.

“Ready to return to our men, hon?” Amanda smiled and without another glance at Jackie, moved to the door. “Absolutely, Alejandra. They get so jealous when we’re gone too long, don’t they?”

Alejandra laughed and the two women left the room, leaving an enraged Jackie standing in silence as the door closed.

They met Jen in the hallway as they were walking back to the table.

“Hey! We were wondering where you went off to. Jon’s getting whiplash trying to watch the bathroom hallway for you to come out!”

Laughing herself, Amanda shot back, “Oh? And David’s not going to be doing the same with you? Hmmm?” Jen flushed lightly, ducked her head and grinned. Amanda smiled at her and teased.

“Sorry girlfriend, it seems that man is head over heels…and, if you’re not the same, then…well, my people reading skills have really slipped!”

Nodding her head, Jen answered. “Yeah, he’s great. I’m starting to think I’m in trouble!” She then turned the tables on Amanda. “What about you, girl? You think I haven’t heard some of those stories?” Getting a really wicked, but somehow still sweet, grin on her face, she teased.

“Ten days and he still didn’t have your number, huh?” Amanda’s mouth dropped and her jaw moved like the tin man in Oz as she tried to come up with a response. Jen threw her a saucy wink and gave her a small pat on the arm.

“I don’t blame him…or you!” They both laughed and each decided right then that they would be friends. In the way of women, neither had to say a word, just a look passing between them was enough. It was a done deal; friends.

Jen turned to Alejandra. “And you!” She teased. “Tico is practically chewing napkins waiting for you, so both of you better scoot before the ladies’ room is invaded!”

The three were still standing there outside the door when it opened and Jackie walked out. Her expression was blank, while her eyes gleamed in anger. She moved past the three women without so much as an ‘excuse me’ and practically stalked back to the table.

Looking at Alejandra and Amanda, Jen cocked her head. “Is she as big a bitch as she seems?”

Both women smiled and nodded. Alejandra piped in. “Bigger!” By their laughter, Jen knew she has missed some exchange in the restroom. With a small shake of her head she indicated she was going in. She opened the door then paused, looking up and around. Alejandra and Amanda watched her.

“What are you looking for?” Amanda asked.

“Those damned winged monkeys…ya know, the ones that normally follow her around?” Jen laughed at the expressions on the other women’s faces.

They all shared a laugh at that, with Jen then entering the restroom and the other two returning to the group.

In the few moments it took them to return to the table, they saw Jackie leaning in to speak to Richie, her body posture expressive to say the least. Exchanging looks, the women sat by their men. Richie was shaking his head ‘no’ and from Jackie’s face it was apparent that wasn’t the answer she expected. Grabbing her coat and purse she rose from the table and headed for the front door.

Richie gave a small grimace and said, “Excuse me for a moment.”

Tico looked at his wife and knew something had happened. She winked at him and said something in Spanish that had him nod his head in agreement. Hugh and Kelli decided they were going to call it a night and as they were gathering their coats, Jen returned to the table. Taking a quick look at the soon to be departing couple, she made the announcement that David had better “take her to bed or lose her forever”. They all groaned at the Top Gun reference, but it got David moving and throwing kisses and giving hugs the four exited the bar.

As Richie had still not returned, Tico turned to Jon and started speaking in a low voice. “I thought he wasn’t seeing her anymore?”

“Richie does what he wants to, but I don’t know what he sees in her.” Jon answered.

“Mi amor,” Alejandra questioned her husband. “She doesn’t care about him. Why does he continue to see her?”

“She’s just always been someone he could take to events, but I don’t like the way she was tonight. She acted bored and condescending towards you ladies, and you,” he turned to Jon, “she will never forgive for turning her down.”

“Too damn bad,” Jon shot back, “Richie was seeing her and I don’t poach.”

This was news to Amanda. “What?” She shot out, looking from Jon to Tico and back again.

Jon looked peeved at the memory, but explained the back story. “Richie and she met after one of the shows and for a while they seemed to be an item. She would come back stage after concerts and I walked into my dressing room after one show and found her there waiting. She was pretty sure I would take her up on her ‘offer’ and when I practically threw her out after telling her that I wasn’t doing something like that to my friend. She didn’t take it very well.”

With concern clouding her eyes, Amanda asked, “Does Richie know about this?”

Jon nodded. “Yeah, I told him. Honestly, I didn’t know he was still seeing her.

Alejandra spoke then. “She gives herself airs she does not deserve.”

Tico knew then for sure that something had happened when the three were in the restroom.

“What is it, mi amor?” He asked his wife.

“She was rude because she believes that other than the wives, the rest are…what was it Amanda?” She turned to her.

“Flavors of the moment.” Amanda’s response was quick and decisive in her quote of the other woman.

Tico and Jon exchanged a look, but before either could speak, Richie came back into the bar. He sat down at the table and took a large swallow of his drink. The others waited for what he would say.

“Well, ladies…” his eyes sought out Alejandra and Amanda, “…I’m not sure whether to kiss you or have these two take you over their knees!” Laughter erupted at that statement as Richie shook his head.

“Old habits are hard to break, but I think this is one habit I’m glad is gone!” He shook his head, glancing between Amanda and Alejandra. “What did you two do to her in there?”

Before Amanda could even take in enough air to gasp at Richie’s implication, Alejandra answered him.

“She called Amanda ‘ordinary’ and ‘old’ for Jon and explained that she was rude to her because you hadn’t mentioned Amanda to her and therefore Amanda was only the ‘flavor of the moment’ as far as she was concerned.”

Crossing her arms over her chest and giving Richie a look he was coming to know, Amanda’s voice was a honeyed drawl.

“Richard, we are so going to have to talk!”

Warning and Disclaimer

The content of this blog is pure fiction. Actual places and real people are named, but in no way should anything be taken as fact. This is a story, with adult content and mature situations. If you are offended by such, please do not read.

Please do not copy any of this material to any other web site.

No harm of any sort is meant to the real people in the story and there is no disrespect intended towards anyone's family.

This is PURE FICTION and hopefully those that like this type of story will enjoy it. Comments are GREATLY appreciated!

Counter

Where Are You?

About Me

My photo
Sunstreaked, South Florida, United States

John Francis | Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS) | Designed by MB Web Design | XML Coded By Cahayabiru.com | Distributed by Deluxe Templates