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.

10 comments

  1. Rike Says:

    ok, now she has to explain a lot. And Richie, be gentle, it is not her fault

  2. mue03 Says:

    wow! This can get interesting!
    Don't blame her Richie just listen! And Amanda talk to him!

  3. Bayaderra Says:

    OMG!!!!!
    Amanda, please trust Richie and tell him the truth... Richie don't jump to conclusions...listen and HELP them both!

  4. OH CRAP!!! Seriously...it's not her fault she didn't know Richie, just be patient and hear her out!!!

  5. MBWL Says:

    brilliant
    I love this FF so glad you are back :)
    love the twist you have put into this.
    Can't wait for more

  6. Heike Says:

    It will become interesting to see which direction the story will take from now on... thanks for another great chapter

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Oh thank goodness for Richie. He's in the right place and the right time! I hope they can talk and get the truth out there so that Jon and Amanda can be together. I hope Jon's mother gets told off well and proper!

  8. Alice Faye Says:

    Whoa momma...now thats a twist I didn't see coming. Okay glad I didn't sign off before checking.

    Great chapter... Can't wait to hear the two of them.

    All I can say is remember the old saying..."Look before you leap"

  9. Heike Says:

    Hey sun - we waited almost a year for new stuff - weekend is calling - mercy - please!

  10. bostongirl Says:

    I can totally see where Richie is comming from, that is exactly the reaction he should have considering the circumstances.

    Lets face it...Amanda running doesnt paint her in the greatest light. Jon and Amanda have worked through quite a bit already and she knows what kind of man he is and should trust that. It will be interesting to hear how Jon is doing with all this..especially hearing of the the run in with Richie.

    Sun..great job at keeping this story fresh with the new twists. The dead hubby taking Ava's pic's/ the run in at the restraunt..fantastic!!

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