Chapter 230

Friday, March 26, 2010 at 10:24 PM
Amanda had her proof. The divorce, like most of the other events connected with this mess, had been handled by the FBI. She wasn’t sure if she was amazed or terrified at the ease in which they could change the lives of people. She had returned to her hotel room after getting the papers.

“Good-bye, Jeremy” were the only words she could manage to utter at the last time she would see her former husband.

Jeremy had tried that morning to ask her questions about Jon, but she had shut him down so hard and fast he hadn’t dared ask anything more.

She wasn’t about to let him know that in addition to the loss of the life she thought she’d had, he’d also lost her the life she was about to have.

Ordering room service, realizing she hadn’t eaten in the last two days, Amanda ate every crumb and then curled up on the bed, eventually sliding into a restless sleep.

~~~

Richie had returned to his home after leaving Amanda’s hotel room, mulling over the papers he had read and her phone call. Sitting in his living room, a glass of wine in his hand, he took the copies he had made and read them again, more slowly this time. It was on the third read thru when he realized that the Mark Russell referred to in the papers was the same man who had taken the shots of Ava that day, the one asking questions about Amanda.

A few hours after initially seeing the contents of the folder and reading them more carefully, Richie began to think about what the papers said versus what Amanda had said. The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that there just wasn’t something right about this whole situation.

How did she pull off a scam for months? A lot of lying for that. So how’d she do it?

Glancing at his watch he realized it was too late to return to the photo studio, but he would be there tomorrow without fail.

~~~

Mark had left Amanda at the bank after giving her the papers she had wanted. He knew he had hurt her deeply and his belief that he had done the right thing at the time, the only thing considering his son, was shaken. At this point there was nothing he could do for her and he felt regret eat deeply at him.

The tinkle of the studio doorbell brought Mark out of his thoughts to see the customer who had come in. He was more than a little surprised to see Richie Sambora considering they had an appointment for the following day to go over Ava’s photos. Richie strode across the waiting area of the studio directly up to Mark. He spoke to him, his eyes never leaving the other man’s.

“You know who I am and I know who you are. I want some questions answered and I’m not leaving until I get those answers. Understand…Jeremy?”

Mark’s eyes widened at that and took in the man standing in front of him, the unconscious arrogance of an international celebrity and multi-millionaire, someone who could change how he lived in this town with a few choice words.

He nodded.

Richie nodded back, folding his arms across his chest.

“Good fucking choice.”

~~~

An hour later Richie walked out of the studio, his questions answered, his mind rolling with what he had learned.

Inside Jeremy sat quietly, realizing that even if she never knew, there had been something he could do for Amanda.

~~~

Jon had stood there for several minutes just staring at his cell phone after Richie had called, telling him he had found Amanda.

What was she doing in California? How did Richie find her? Did she call him? Why wouldn’t she answer her damn phone?

He fought against himself, wanting to call back, wanting to know what she was doing, what was happening, but his pride, that purely masculine pride that makes a man take a stand even against his own feelings, ruled.

He was Jon Bon Jovi, by God, and he could have any woman he wanted. So what if this one had left, if he wanted he could have a hundred to replace her.

Jon knew he sounded like a petulant child, but even so, he only had to justify his thoughts to himself and right now, with what he knew she had done, that was easy to do.

~~~

Amanda had slept off and on for over a day. It was late in the afternoon on Saturday and she was now so wide awake she couldn’t stay in bed for a single second longer. She moved into the shower, luxuriating in the warm sudsy water until she thought of all the times she had shared these kinds of moments with Jon. She actually clutched her stomach with the flash of pain those memories brought, then quickly finished, anxious now to get out and away from the once welcoming water.

She ordered coffee and a light meal, sitting down to eat, her hair still in a towel, when it arrived. It was 7:30 in the evening in California, her mind automatically converting the time to 10:30 where Jon was in Jersey. It has been nearly a week since she had left and she ached to speak with him, to tell him what had happened, to explain that it was over and she hadn’t known, but images of Jon’s mother and how she could never prove the truth without exposing everything stopped her.

A knock sounded on her door and she scrambled up, surprised, expecting no one. Opening the door, she found Richie standing there. She couldn’t contain the gasp that escaped her parted lips.

“Richie?” She spoke his name as if seeing a ghost.

“May I come in?”

Chapter 229

Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:40 AM
It was a few minutes after six that evening when Mark Russell exited the studio to the still brightly lit street. His arms were full with a portfolio, a computer briefcase, a coffee mug, and car keys and he didn’t see the woman waiting a little ways down from the studio entrance.

“Hello, Jeremy.”

Jeremy whipped around at the sound of that name and the voice. The travel coffee cup hit the pavement with a loud crack as he took in the sight of his wife standing in front of him.

“Amanda … oh my god!”

The emotional roller-coaster of the last several days had drained Amanda. The confrontation with Richie had been the final nail in the coffin of her emotional responses.

Facing Jeremy, she felt nothing.

Not even surprise that she felt nothing.

All she wanted were answers.

“I think you owe me an explanation.”

Jeremy looked at her for a long moment.

“Let me make a phone call first.”

She nodded at him. He dialed and spoke.

“Christina? I have some shots I have to run to a client tonight so I’m gonna be late. Yeah, I know. I’ll be there in time to help him go over his lines for the play. Okay, I’ll be home as soon as I can. Uh huh, me too.”

He hung up the phone without looking again at Amanda, but heard her next question.

“That boy, he’s your son, isn’t he?”

At that Jeremy did look at her.

“Yes, he’s my son.”

Amanda nodded, the first shaft of pain suddenly slicing through her numbness.

“My car is over there.” Jeremy pointed and they walked to his car. He put everything he was carrying inside and they stood there a moment. Amanda motioned to the restaurant where she had waited for him earlier that day.

“Let’s go there.”

Jeremy hesitated. “Uh, I’d rather not. Christina and I go there …” His voice trailed off.

Her eyes closed, the irony of his concern for the other woman not lost on her.

“Then I’ll follow you somewhere else.” She turned to head to her car, then stopped and pierced him with a look. “And Jeremy, don’t try and lose me, I already know where you live.”

Jeremy swallowed thickly at that and nodded, then got in his car, waiting until she was behind him to pull out of his parking space. They traveled roughly ten miles before Jeremy pulled off to a side street and then down a few blocks to a small café. Both parked and she followed him inside to a table. They ordered coffee and sat there in silence until it arrived.

Amanda spoke first.

“Are we still married?”

Jeremy winced slightly but answered.

“No.”

She nodded at that, then took a copy of the report out of her purse and slid it across the table to Jeremy.

“Read that. Then we’ll talk.”

Sitting and sipping at the coffee she couldn’t taste, Amanda waited for Jeremy to read through the several pages. He finally finished, but held off speaking until the waitress had refilled their cups and been assured that they wouldn’t need anything for a while.

“Most of this is true. Enrico Sanchez was into drugs in a big way. He was laundering money through the company and getting kickbacks from other contractors. The FBI approached me, told me I had to cooperate or I would get charged with federal RICO crimes even if I knew nothing about this.” He wasn’t meeting her eyes as he spoke, just filling in what the report had missed.

“The car accident wasn’t an accident. It was rigged – I found that out later. That same day the FBI moved me into witness protection. They had been following me and saw the accident. Thought I was driving. When they saw the condition of the body, how badly burned it was, they decided to let him be me.”

“Who did I bury?’

Her voice was shaking a little as the memories of the few moments of staring at what she believed was the almost unrecognizable burned body of her husband rose. Of how she had run from the room, barely making it to a bathroom before she had been violently sick.

Keeping his voice low, Jeremy answered.

“The guy who was killed was someone who worked on one of the construction sites. He had been sent to pick up some hardware. He wasn’t married and his dad lives out of state, so his family was just told he had been killed in an accident. Apparently his father is in a home with early Alzheimer’s, so there weren’t a lot of questions asked.”

Raising a hand to be heard, swallowing past the lump in her throat, Amanda broke in.

“Why didn’t you let me know any of this? Why didn’t I go into that program with you? Why…” she stopped as answers to those questions slammed into her.

“You took Christina and your son. That’s why I didn’t know and that’s why you didn’t take me, isn’t it?”

Meeting her eyes, Jeremy nodded.

“I’m sorry, Amanda. I met her a few years ago in Miami and … we … and then she got pregnant and suddenly I had a son.”

“And another one on the way, right?” Amanda’s voice now showing some of the hurt she felt.

“Yes, we’re having twins this time.”

Pain, deep and biting, hit Amanda at that admission. She had to change the subject. Gathering back the emotions flooding her, she sheathed them again in ice.

“I got an insurance payout and was able to sell the business. Did you make me commit fraud?”

“No! Enrico had to believe I was dead, so everything went through that way. The FBI arranged it. There’s no way it can come back on you.”

Jeremy had his own questions also.

“How did you find me?”

Amanda then handed him the handwritten letter from Mrs. Bongiovi.

“She had me investigated. I have no idea how that Mr. Davidson found out where you were, but he did.”

“He’s probably ex-FBI, Amanda. They still have pull with their former co-workers at times.”

“What about you? Don’t you have to testify? Isn’t this all going to come out?”

Jeremy shook his head softly.

“No. It’s over actually. Two weeks ago Enrico was killed in Miami. He was the only one I knew anything about, so now there’s nothing for me to testify to as he can’t go to trial. They already have a written deposition of everything I knew.”

Amanda sat in silence as everything she heard worked its way through. Tears filled her eyes suddenly and she dashed them away in anger.

“So, Mark, you’ve got your new life and your new family and everything’s just great in your world.” The sarcasm in her voice had Jeremy flinching.

“Amanda…I…” He began, only to have her turn such hate-filled eyes on him that he sputtered to a stop.

“I want a copy of those divorce papers. I want proof this is over.”

“They’re in a safety deposit box at a bank. I can get them tomorrow when it opens at eight.”

“I’ll meet you where you work at eight.” Amanda stood and looked down at the man she had once loved with all her heart.

She tried to think of something to say, some shred of acknowledgement of what had been or some response to what had happened, but nothing came.

Jeremy looked into the once more lifeless eyes of his former wife and knew shame.

Chapter 228

Friday, March 12, 2010 at 5:24 AM
Richie returned to Amanda’s room. She had left so suddenly her purse was still on the side of the bed. He glanced around, hoping to see the things she had taken. He opened drawers, glanced through her small purse, and looked inside her suitcase. It was there he found an envelope.

Drawing out the paperwork inside, he suddenly found himself sitting heavily on the bed, riveted on what he was reading.

The handwritten note inside set his mind spinning as he started to grasp just how bad things were.

Amanda –

Inside are papers detailing the information my investigator has discovered about you and your husband. The husband you claimed was dead who is very much alive.

Whatever scam you were planning involving my son is over. You are a married woman and you accepted an engagement with Jon. I don’t know if you wanted money or whether you are like so many today who want their fifteen minutes of fame, but you aren’t getting anything.

I will not permit you to drag my son into the sordidness of your life. Your husband is apparently involved in drugs in some way and the FBI is investigating him. If there was a way to have you arrested for fraud, I would do so.

Instead you are going to get out of his life – immediately! And you are going to do it in such a way that he never wants to see you again. You obviously have a talent for lying and deceiving, I’m sure you’ll think of something.

If you had a conscience, you would be deeply ashamed. But a woman who would plan what you’ve done obviously has no conscience at all.

Carol Bongiovi

~~~

Richie quickly scanned through the remainder of the papers, the investigators report, the attached information, and then read Carol’s note again. He now knew in full detail why Amanda had left Jon.

She HAD played him.

Sitting there with the damning evidence in his hands, his anger at her grew in direction proportion to the hurt he was seeing Jon go through.

Blocking the door lock of the room with a slip of paper, he took the folder down to the main office of the hotel where he was allowed to make copies. He returned to the room, threw the envelope onto the bed, and left.

There was no longer any reason to see Amanda.

~~~

Amanda had not left the hotel.

She’d run out of the room, afraid that she would take the phone when Richie offered it.

Afraid that when she heard Jon’s voice she would tell him everything.

Afraid she would beg him to understand, to believe her, that she hadn’t known.

Afraid he would damn her to hell.

Down the stairs by her room, she had wandered further into the depths of the hotel. Now she sat in the stairwell, wondering how her life had been so turned upside down. She half-laughed and half-sobbed as she thought about her “perfect life” – what an amazingly painful farce that had turned out to be.

She had lost her husband, found out he was alive, and then lost Jon with that knowledge. She wasn’t sure where everything had spun out of control, but while waiting there on the stairs, she knew she had to find out.

After an hour Amanda cautiously returned to her room. Opening the door she saw Richie was gone. She went in, glanced around and stopped cold. Thrown on the bed was the envelope she’d had in her suitcase. She knew Richie had seen it.

Oh no! No, no, no! He’ll tell Jon!

Bracing herself, dreading the call she had to make to protect Jon, she dialed Richie’s number.

He answered, but instead of ‘hello’, it was with a tone she had never heard from him before.

“What do you want?”

“Richie?” Her voice quavered a bit as she spoke his name.

“Yeah, what do you want?” His tone didn’t change in the slightest.

“You saw the papers, didn’t you?”

“Yep.” His voice curt, biting.

“Please don’t tell Jon, Richie. Don’t tell him about his mom or what that investigator found.”

A bitter laugh met her ears as Richie spoke again.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Matthews, I won’t be mentioning your name to Jon – ever.”

Her heart sinking into her stomach, Amanda realized Richie believed she had been out to deceive Jon. He believed what had been written. She hurried to speak before he hung up on her.

“I didn’t know, Richie. I swear to you, I didn’t know.”

Again she heard sardonic laughter.

“Sure Amanda, right, because you’re so truthful. I read the report. Sounds like your husband faked his death and you’re trying to tell me you didn’t know? How could you do this? Who the hell are you?”

Amanda’s voice went lifeless as she heard the condemnation in Richie’s voice.

“I don’t have any idea who I am. I won’t call Jon or any of you again. I’m so sorry.”

Amanda slowly closed her phone.

Chapter 227

Monday, March 8, 2010 at 1:42 PM
Everyone who knew Jon knew something was wrong. Deeply wrong. Unbelievably wrong. The man who never had trouble talking to anyone about anything had changed. If the answer to a question wasn’t a grunt, it was one word. If it was more than that, it was with a sharp edge seldom heard from him before.

Sharon was meeting with him one afternoon and when she asked something about Amanda and an upcoming event, Jon’s response had her nearly in tears at its harshness. He apologized later, but it wasn’t the last time something like it would happen.

He hadn’t asked Richie not to say anything to the other guys, so he wasn’t surprised to get a call from Tico.

“Hey man…” Tico called in greeting as Jon answered his phone.

“Hey T…”

Tico’s rough voice didn’t mince words. “Jon, Richie called and I ain’t believin’ it.”

“Believe it. She’s gone and I have a note from her. She set it up from the beginning.”

“Listen to me. Ain’t nobody THAT good at lyin’. There’d have been something to give her away. All of us and nobody saw or heard anything? That’s what I’m not believing.”

Jon gave a heavy sigh. “Then she’s real fucking good, isn’t she?”

An answering sigh met his ears. “I guess so, but something’s not right about this.”

“Let it go, T, I have. She got what she wanted and now she’s gone.” To Tico, Jon’s voice sounded resigned, yet so full of anger and pain. He wanted to say something, anything, to help, but no matter what he thought of, it seemed too little, too trite.

“I’m sorry, man.” Tico finally managed.

There was a long pause and then his friend’s soft voice answered.

“Yeah, me too.”

~~~

Later that same day, sitting in his office at the Soul headquarters, Jon’s cell rang. Seeing it was his mother, he gave a sigh and answered.

“Hi.”

“Hi Jonny. Am I interrupting?”

“No. What do you want?”

Carol was taken aback a bit at the flat tone in her son’s voice.

“I don’t want anything. I just haven’t talked to you in a few days and wanted to see how you are.”

“Fine. Busy.”

“But you said I wasn’t interrupting.” She heard Jon sigh.

“You’re not. I’m fine.”

“Your dad and I wanted to see if you would come to dinner soon. Matt and Tony too. Just a nice family dinner.”

“A nice family dinner.” Jon couldn’t disguise the sarcasm in his voice.

“Jon! What’s the matter? I can hear it in your voice. Something’s wrong!”

“Nothing’s wrong, but I can’t make a dinner. Sorry.” Jon’s voice was increasingly abrupt.

“But you don’t even know when it will be!” Carol was becoming genuinely concerned.

“It doesn’t matter when it is. Right now I’m too busy. Sorry.” Unfortunately, he didn’t sound sorry in the least.

“Jon…” Carol began, but stopped when he interrupted her.

“My other line is ringing. I have to go. Bye.”

For the first time in his life Jon hung up on his mother.

~~~

Jon was spending his days in a rage-induced fog. Every sound seemed too loud, every voice was grating, every decision was an intrusion.

Parts of his world seemed to be crashing down and he wasn’t sure what had happened. The Soul was going to be disbanded as Arena Football was coming to an end. Temporary or no, right now there was no way to say.

So many people depending on him, so many decisions to make and he found himself questioning over and over again each one. Unsure of his judgment, feeling as if he no longer could get a read on people, on their true motivations, as if there was always something under the surface, and that something had fangs.

He was sticking his fingers into everything, trying anything to get his mind off the one subject, the one person, he didn’t want to think about.

Amanda.

Married.

Fuck me.

He had no idea how she’d hidden who she was so well. No idea how he had missed every clue, any clue, that the woman he had fallen in love with, the one he wanted to marry, spend the rest of his life with, could be a complete fraud.

I am such a fool.

He viciously stomped on the little voice that kept insisting he look for her, demand an answer, look in her eyes when she explained her lies.

That little voice was wounded, but didn’t die.

~~~

Richie stood there silent, watching the sudden tears of the woman sitting so dejectedly on the side of the bed. First her eyes had gotten even wider and her mouth had opened. Then her face fell. The tears were silent and just rolled down her upturned face, until she lowered her head and her shoulders drooped.

Softening his voice a little, he spoke to her.

“Tell me why.”

She never looked up, just shook her head back and forth in denial.

“Then give me what you took.”

This brought her eyes back up to his face.

“What did I take?” Her voice sounded weary, even as the hurt she felt grew.

Richie ground out his words in such a way that there appeared to be spaces between each one.

“His cards, the jewelry, and the engagement ring you threw back in his face.”

Amanda was so astonished at this that words wouldn’t form.

“Look, I know you didn’t expect to see any of us again and you knew he wouldn’t come after you for them. But now that I know and I found you, I WANT HIS SHIT BACK!”

She actually flinched at the growl in his voice at those final words and this brought her up off the bed, standing rigidly in front of him.

“I did NOT take those things. I left them in an envelope on Jon’s desk in his office.”

Richie continued to stare at her, arms crossed, face unyielding. Then he moved.

Amanda took a step back, which sat her jarringly back on the bed, but Richie only walked over to the window on the opposite side of the bed while reaching for his cell phone.

“Jon? I’ve found Amanda. She’s here in California. What? No, I don’t know yet…she…”

Richie spun from the window at the snick of the door closing, the room empty.

“SHIT! She left!” Richie closed the phone on Jon’s words and crossed the room, throwing the door open, running out into … an empty hallway.

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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