Chapter 226

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:45 AM
“Mind if I sit down?”

Squeezing her eyes shut, she nodded her head ‘yes’, she did mind. He answered her silent nod.

“Too bad.”

She opened her eyes at the scrape of the chair and saw Richie staring at her, the look in his eyes a mixture of disbelief, disappointment, and anger.

“What the hell are you doing, Amanda?” He kept his voice low, but from the tone it could have been a shout.

Her throat was so dry she couldn’t have answered him if she had wanted to and she didn’t want to. She was having a nightmare and she was wide awake.

Stalling, her mind racing, she took a drink of her tea and carefully repositioned the glass. Richie waited impatiently.

“Richie … I … I can’t tell you.” Her voice was a whisper full of pain.

Nearly grinding his teeth as his anger threatened to bubble over, his voice was low and heavy.

“What can’t you tell me? That you’re married? That you’re a liar and a thief? A fraud? Which one? Which one can’t you tell me?”

A completely shocked look on Amanda’s face had Richie suddenly looking at her even more sharply, but he was prevented from further interrogation as Ava, with Heather at her side, approached the table.

“Dad, mom’s here.”

Richie looked up at his ex-wife and then stood.

Amanda had frozen when Ava had spoken to Richie, but her eyes were drawn back to him as he rose.

Richie caught her eyes, not breaking contact even once as he spoke.

“I’ll be right back. Heather, can I talk with you for a minute?”

Heather murmured her assent and drew Ava back with her as she and Richie walked several steps away.

Amanda watched them for a moment, shock still fogging her thoughts, and then the paralysis broke and she quickly reached for her wallet.

Telling Ava to wait, Richie took Heather’s arm and gently tugged her a few feet further from their child.

“Heather, I need to talk with that woman. I promise I’ll call you later, but I need to go right now.” He nodded towards the tables as he spoke and Heather turned to see Amanda throwing down bills on the table.

Richie’s intensity had a small frown starting on Heather’s face, but she quickly saw that for some reason what he was asking was very important to him. She nodded.

“Okay, go. I’ll tell Ava.”

Richie nodded gratefully, smiled, stopped once to kiss Ava’s cheek and strode towards the woman quickly walking away.

A few long strides had him at her side.

Amanda’s breath stopped as she felt a hand clamp down on her elbow.

Richie pulled her to a stop.

“You and I are going to talk.”

~~~

Richie kept a hand on Amanda’s arm as they entered her hotel. She tried to go into the bar, but he pointed towards the elevators and she dropped her head slightly as she realized he wanted to go to her room.

Amanda flinched when the door to the room slammed behind her. She still had her back to him when he spoke

“Now talk.”

Amanda sighed, shaking her head back and forth as she turned to him.

“Richie, I had to leave. I can’t tell you why, but I had no choice. Please just accept that.” Her voice was pleading with the man standing so solidly in front of her, his arms crossed at his chest.

The flat contemptuous tone of Richie’s voice shocked her again.

“Bullshit. Fucking bullshit. I want what you took and I want an explanation. DO YOU HEAR ME?!” His voice rose and he moved to tower over her.

Frozen for a moment at the implied threat of Richie’s voice and movements, Amanda could only look at him with wide eyes and an indrawn breath. Then what he said fully penetrated her confusion.

“What I took? What do you mean, what I took? I just took a few clothes and this…” she held her arm out for him to see the bracelet.

“I’m not leaving this room until you give me the rest. You don’t deserve it.” He stared at her and if he had hit her she would have been less surprised than at the look she was seeing in his eyes.

“Richie, I didn’t take anything.”

Contempt narrowed his eyes.

“Right. Just like you’re not married, just like your husband is dead, just like months of lies you never told.”

Pain crossed Amanda’s face.

“No, not like that. It seems I am married.”

Richie’s mouth rose in a sneer as he mocked her.

“It seems you are married…”

Amanda’s hands fisted at her sides.

“I didn’t know!” Her voice rose, even as it began to tremble.

Richie shook his head, an incredulous look entering his eyes.

“Jesus, you’re still doing it! You’re still lying!”

Amanda stood there silently as his words battered her.

“Tell me why you did this.” He waited as he saw her once again shake her head.

“No.”

The sneer on his face hardened the beauty there.

“You fucking bitch.”

Chapter 225

Friday, February 19, 2010 at 7:07 AM
Richie had left town after the confrontation with Jon as he had planned to return to California to spend a few days with Ava. Patricia was still working and unable to come with him, although they had a trip arranged after her two weeks were over. Unfortunately, it looked as though that time period might have to be extended as her boss was practically begging her to give them at least another week to smooth over the transition.

Picking up Ava at her mother’s, Richie spent some time talking to Heather, realizing she was sounding better than she had in quite a while. They had actually reached the point where they had the beginnings of a friendship again. His support during her rehab stay and her support during his own alcohol problems had re-forged a bond between the two. They would never be in love again, but their shared parenting of their child was stronger than ever.

One of the things Richie had planned with Ava this trip was to get some professional shots done of her. She was changing so much he wanted some new photos to take with him when he traveled. In his dressing and hotel rooms there were always shots of Ava, the one constant other than his favorite guitar, that went with him everywhere.

Talking with Heather about his and Ava’s plans for the day, she had recommended a fairly new photography studio not that far away from her home. Several of her friends had been taking their kids there and everyone had been thrilled with their portraits. Richie was agreeable to this, as he was to Ava’s suggestion that her mother meet them afterwards and that they all go to dinner.

A short drive later, Richie and Ava entered the doors of the photography studio where he found one of the benefits of being a celebrity, that of no appointment needed. The owner of the studio called in Mark Russell, a newer hire, but someone who had proven to have real talent.

Mark entered to find Richie Sambora and a beautiful young blonde girl, not quite a teen, standing a bit shyly by her father’s side. Extending his hand, Mark introduced himself and was informed who the child was and what her father wanted. Moving back into the studio area, the two men discussed some ideas for the photos, making sure to ask Ava what she was comfortable with.

Loading both digital and 35 mm cameras, Mark joked and teased Ava until her natural personality shown through and then he started shooting. Close to an hour later, Ava was enjoying a snack in another room with one of the female assistants as Mark and Richie looked at several of the digital shots.

Mark knew who Richie was and he also knew that Jon had somehow hooked up with his wife. He tried to keep the fishing he was about to do on casual terms.

“Heard your last tour was really successful.” He glanced at Richie as he unloaded one of the cameras.

“Yeah, at first we weren’t sure what the fans were gonna do, but they seemed to really like us changing things up.”

“The word around is that changing the music up isn’t the only change going on in the band.” Mark tossed this out in an offhand manner.

Richie, distracted by looking through the shots of his daughter, answered pretty much without thinking.

“You mean Jon getting engaged? Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that made the papers out here too.”

“It sure did. What’s her name? Amanda?”

“Yeah, Amanda Matthews. She’s from Florida.” Richie was busy marking the photos he wanted extra copies of.

“I wondered if that’s who she was. A sort of a friend of a friend knows her husband.”

That caught Richie’s full attention.

“Knows her husband?” His eyes narrowed suddenly at the man in front of him.

Not understanding the change in Richie, Mark found himself thinking frantically.

“Well, knew him. This was a few years ago.”

Richie continued to stare at Mark, his brow furrowed thoughtfully.

“So you don’t know anything about him recently?”

Widening his eyes, Mark shook his head.

Richie gave Mark on more searching look and then turned again to the photos.

The remainder of their conversation consisted of ordering and time tables. The two parted at the door to the studio as Ava re-appeared with a soda in hand. Richie left his number and Mark assured him the photos would be ready within two days.

Standing at the window, Mark watched as Richie and Ava left, walking down the street. His thoughts at that moment consumed with what he had learned and what he knew.

~~~

Following Jeremy from his home the next day had been easy. She has simply waited down the street in her car until he left the house and then traveled the busy streets until she has seen the photography studio he entered.

Parking her car, she was about half a block down, sitting at an outside patio of a restaurant, thinking of what she was going to do. She knew she had to talk to him, had to find out what had happened, why he had let her think he was killed, the drugs, and what he was doing here, using another name and with another woman.

Half-turned in her seat, trying to keep an eye on the door of the studio, while drinking an ice tea she froze with the glass halfway to her mouth as she saw Richie exit the studio, a beautiful young girl with him. They stood for a moment engaged in conversation and then turned in the direction of the restaurant.

Quickly pulling a hair chopstick out of her bag, she wound her distinctive hair into a bun low at the back of her neck and turned further in her chair, her back now to the approaching couple. She could hear the young girl as she spoke.

“Daddy! I’m hungry! Can we stop here and get some french fries?”

Richie glanced at his watch.

“Your mom’s gonna be here soon and we’re going to dinner …” His voice trailed off as Ava turned a winsome smile his way.

He sighed. “Sure, babe. Want to sit inside or out?”

“Outside, dad, it’s so nice today!”

“Okay, baby girl, let’s get a table.”

“Dad! I’m not a baby anymore!” Ava chided her father, but her grin told him she still didn’t really mind.

Amanda heard them pass her as she made a slow turn in her own chair, trying to keep her back to them. There were several tables outside, only half of which were full, and out of the corner of her eye she saw Richie and his daughter choose one about four tables away from her.

Slinking down in her seat, quickly putting on sunglasses, she turned so her back was the only thing facing them. Her breath was coming in short bursts as she sat, frozen, afraid to get up and draw Richie’s attention. The memories of what had happened during these last several days was so raw and so fresh that she found herself blinking back tears. Seeing Richie, hearing his voice, knowing how close he was to Jon bought back the ache of missing Jon to the forefront like a bullet through her heart.

Richie was enjoying his time with Ava. Every time he was back with her he thought of how much he missed her when he was away. He was more than grateful that he and Heather had worked out their differences enough so that he could be with Ava whenever his schedule permitted.

Glancing around the restaurant as he listened to Ava chatter about school, her friends, her dance lessons, and all the things that interested a twelve year old, his eye was caught by the flash of sunlight on something shiny on a woman a few tables away.

He couldn’t see anything but the woman’s back, but when she brought a glass up to drink, a bracelet on her wrist flashed in the sunlight and he realized what had drawn his attention. His masculine eye appreciated the view of the shapely woman, but didn’t linger as the image of Trish flashed into his memory.

As he was turning away from the woman, a bright pink stick in the back of her hair stopped him. He squinted as he tried to remember what that reminded him of and then he realized it was something Amanda used quite frequently.

What the hell did she call those? A hair stick? No…a Chinese-stick?

Richie asked the only female available to him, Ava.

“Sweetie…do you see that woman at that table over there?” He pointed a few tables away at the dark-haired woman.

“Sure daddy. Why?” Ava’s eyes scrunched up as she looked at the woman and then her father.

“Do you see that stick she has in her hair? Do you know what those are called?”

Rolling her eyes at her father, Ava giggled.

“Dad, that’s a hair chopstick! Didn’t you know that?”

“A chopstick! Thanks honey, I know somebody who uses those and I couldn’t remember the name.”

Curious as always about everything concerning her father, Ava questioned him.

“Who wears those, daddy? A lady friend of yours?”

Turning to his daughter, Richie ruffled her long blonde hair.

“No silly, Uncle Jon’s girlfriend, Amanda.” Richie hadn’t told anyone about Amanda leaving and had no intention of doing so.

“Well, that lady didn’t do a very good job with the chopstick. See dad? It’s falling out.”

Richie turned again to the woman at his daughter’s words and sure enough, the stick had slipped and when the woman removed it to re-do the bun, the long dark honeyed hair it had been holding fell down her back. Richie blinked.

No…not possible…it can’t…

The words stopped as the woman gathered her hair and deftly re-inserted the stick. Her raised arms as she did so brought into full view the bracelet on her wrist. That, and the hair, made up his mind.

“Ava, I think I know that lady over there and I’m gonna go say ‘hi’. Do you mind waiting a few minutes for me?”

Nodding at him, Ava pulled out her iPod and grinned. “Go ahead, daddy. But can I get some ice cream?”

Richie stood and smiled down at her. “Sure, honey. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Amanda heard nothing of these exchanges behind her and was still sitting rigidly, hoping Richie and his daughter would be leaving quickly. A shadow fell over her and she tensed even further. The shadow moved and instead of a shadow, the tall figure of a man stood beside her.

She turned and looked directly into the suddenly hard eyes of Richie Sambora.

Chapter 224

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:01 PM
Waiting down the street from where Jeremy was supposed to live and then seeing him drive up had started a drumbeat in her heart that drowned out the sounds of the street and narrowed her vision until she had seen only him.

And then she saw … them.

A very pregnant woman and a young boy had come out of the house to greet Jeremy and he had swept the child up in his arms and then enfolded the woman in an embrace as he kissed her with obvious warmth.

With her hand on the door handle, Amanda sat frozen, watching this domestic tableau play out in front of her. She knew it was Jeremy. His hair was a different color, his ever-present moustache was gone, and he had lost weight, but she would know the way he carried himself and his walk anywhere. She felt dizzy and nauseous and there was such pain in her heart that she only managed to breath when her vision began blurring.

He’s alive…my god, he really is alive! But…who’s the woman? Is that…his son?

She lost sight of them as they entered the house, their arms around the other, and she sat in the car with tears streaming down her face. She wanted, no … needed, to know what had happened, but some instinct, some deep down gut feeling told her that the explanation would be worse than what she was already imaging.

An indeterminate time later she looked again at the papers Mrs. Bongiovi had given her, the copies of the report by the private investigator. She read them for at least the tenth time.

After contacting several of Mr. Matthew’s business associates, it was determined that he was involved in numerous business ventures in Miami. He frequently spent entire days there, allegedly meeting with vendors (see attached list). In speaking with these vendors (under the guise of new products and the possibility of using the same vendors with Mr. Matthews as a prior referral) it was revealed that these meetings lasted upwards of one hour at a time, with no more than two vendor meetings on the same day. Mr. Matthews usually returned to his office around 7 PM (as confirmed by workers in adjacent offices). Mrs. Matthews would leave the office between the hours of 3 and 5 pm (see attached schedule).

One vendor representative (speaking on the condition of anonymity) revealed that on several occasions he had seen Mr. Matthews and an unidentified woman (blonde, approximately 25 to 30 years of age) in restaurants and bars in the Miami area. This representative stated he had never approached Mr. Matthews during these sightings as he knew Mrs. Matthews and quote “the intimacy between Mr. Matthews and this unknown woman was apparent”. A small list of these locations, particularly the bars, were provided by this witness.

Investigation at several of the named locations revealed that Mr. Matthews was a regular who was known to several of the bartenders. The woman was positively identified as a Christina Simmons, a former bartender who had predominately worked in the South Beach area of Miami. Further follow up uncovered that in 2003 Ms. Simmons took a leave of absence from her head bartender position at _____________ once her pregnancy was evident.

Michael Prichard, a former co-worker of Ms. Simmons, recalled that she returned to work approximately two years following delivery of her child, a son. Mr. Prichard was unable to reveal the father of said child, but did relate that Ms. Simmons had been involved with a married man, a man she continued to see after her child’s birth.

Further discussion with Mr. Prichard confirmed that Ms. Simmons terminated her employment in late 2007 via telephone call with their mutual manager. The manager related that Ms. Simmons was leaving Florida for family reasons and that her last paycheck should be sent to a post office box in Miami. Although Federal law prohibits release of information regarding postal boxes, through sources which will not be disclosed in this report, mail to this post was forwarded to an address in Las Angeles, California (see attached).

Ms. Simmons has been residing at the noted address since early December 2007, along with her son and an as-yet unidentified white male. In addition, Ms. Simmons is several months pregnant.

Update: Within the past week, the male living with Ms. Simmons has been identified as Mark Russell, a photographer. Information on Mr. Russell of a more detailed nature is not yet available, although general background checks reveal a birth place of Seattle, Washington; parents deceased; no siblings; no college except for recent accelerated photography courses. Mr. Russell currently works for a local photography studio in Las Angeles and does free-lance work with local celebrities, notably child photography.



Still sitting in her rented car, Amanda made herself finish reading the report.

Through various government sources who will not be revealed in this report, it has been determined that Mark Russell is the former Jeremy Matthews, reportedly deceased in a car accident in Miami, Florida, on December 6, 2007. Mr. Matthews was identified by his wife, Amanda Matthews, at the Miami coroner’s office. The body of the deceased was badly burned and facial recognition was not possible. Identification was made primarily through a wedding ring, watch, and wallet that were discovered in the glove compartment of the vehicle. The body of the deceased, as yet unknown, matched Mr. Matthews in general appearance vis-a-vis height and general body shape. At the time there was no suspicion of foul play and the remains were released for burial.

The Miami P.D. Detective Division was subsequently contacted by ______________ of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ordered to close the file on Mr. Matthews. No further details were made available to Miami P.D. and their records were closed.

Sources available to this investigator alluded to drug trafficking and money laundering either performed or aided by Jeremy Matthews. In the 18 months prior to his alleged death, Mr. Matthews had taken on a business partner, Enrico Sanchez, a multi-millionaire businessman in the Miami area. This investigator has learned that Mr. Sanchez is a silent associate in a known South American drug cartel. It is unlikely that this information would have been easily discovered by Mr. Matthews as Mr. Sanchez kept a low profile in all but his business and charitable ventures.

Amanda had to stop reading as tears blurred her eyes. She would never believe that Jeremy had been involved in drugs, but there were so many questions.

Why didn’t he tell me about this partner?

Why did he let me believe he was dead?

Who did I bury?

Who is Jeremy?

Who am I?

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!

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