Chapter 234

Monday, April 26, 2010 at 10:02 AM
Unable to move as Jon passed her, Amanda jumped at the slam of the door and then went deathly still again at the sound of the lock. She stared at the door of Jon’s dressing room, the pounding of her heart drowning out the shuffling feet of the men beside her.

It wasn’t the woman.

It was that look in his eyes, the blanking out of emotion as his eyes met hers.

It was like she had ceased to exist for him.

Her heart just stopped.

She knew it had stopped.

She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.

Richie touched her arm once, and then again, finally taking her elbow and turning her toward him. He winced at the expression on her face. David and Hugh swore softly, glanced at Richie and Tico, and then turned to leave for their own rooms, unsure of what to say. Amanda didn’t see them leave, her eyes darting from Richie’s own eyes to Jon’s room.

“Amanda …” Tico began, stopping as Amanda’s pain-filled eyes turned toward him.

“He’s hurting…” Tico tried to explain, throwing
help-me eyes at Richie.

“Manda…come with me…” Richie nodded at Tico, indicating he would take care of her as Tico grimaced in response and left the two in the hallway.

Richie took one of Amanda’s cold hands in his, leading her into his dressing room. He sat her down on the couch and crossed the small room to pour her a shot of Jack. She took it without response and downed it, coughing a little as the liquid fire traveled from her throat to the pit of her stomach.

Her voice came out a near whisper.

“I made a mistake…I got a text from Jon’s phone about a ticket waiting for me here, for this concert. I thought he sent it to me, that he wanted to see me.”

Richie listened as she explained, some of his questions being answered simply by his remaining silent.

“You know I couldn’t tell him the truth, about why I left. I couldn’t embarrass him, couldn’t focus the press on him that way, and his mother…no. It was better if he hated me, if he believed the worst…” her voice trailed off, then she looked deeply into his eyes.

“And he does hate me now…”

He took a step toward her. “Amanda…”, but she shook her head and backed away.

“I’m gonna go, Richie.” She smiled sadly at the man in front of her, then took that one step closer to put her into his arms. She kissed his cheek as he enveloped her a hug. Pulling back, she looked straight at him and spoke.

“You take care of yourself.”

Richie watched her walk out the door, closing it softly behind her.

~~~

Jon stood pressed against the door he had just slammed and locked, his mind turning over and over what he had just seen in the hallway, the woman in his room all but forgotten.

She’s here! Goddam it! Where has she been? Why is she here?

I can’t believe she would do this again!

How big of a fool does she think I am?

God, she looks good!

His thoughts didn’t match his deeds though as the woman he had fully intended to lose himself in that night suddenly looked like a pale imitation of what he had once had. As kindly as he could considering his sudden need to throw her out of the room, he told her he had a commitment he had forgotten, kissed her briefly, and hurried her out. She has been there less than five minutes.

Alone now, adrenaline flowing, he paced back and forth from one end of the room to another, his mind whirling, fighting down the sight of Amanda again. In disgust he peeled off his stage clothes, entered the shower and turned it on at a blistering temperature. Skin turning pink, he finally adjusted the setting to cold until his outside felt as numb as his inside.

Dressing in jeans, a silk shirt, and cowboy boots, he left his room to see the other guys just walking through the private entrance to the waiting cars. Conversation stopped as he approached and he pasted on a smile, yelling out as he passed them.

“Let’s go, there’s a party somewhere!”

The men gave another glance at each other, following Jon to the waiting limos. A few of them had seen the woman leave and they all knew, even without that, that she had not been there long at all.

Richie felt a small smile cross his face.

He sent her away. Hot damn!

Jon strode toward one of the cars and then abruptly turned.

“Which one of you motherfuckers did it? Who brought her back stage?”

Richie answered quietly.

“I did. She was in the crowd, in the front. We all saw her.”

With surprise evident on his face, Jon narrowed his eyes.

“What was she doing at the show?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “So fucking what? She was there – what made you bring her back stage?”

“I thought you might want to see her, man. You’ve been a walking prick since she left.”

Jon started to answer, puffing up with anger, when Richie cut in.

“If you didn’t want her to come, why did you send her a text message that there was a ticket waiting for her?”

That statement stopped Jon short.

“What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t send her any text message. It’s just another lie, don’t you get it? She was only here for one thing and now she realizes she misses it and wants to get back in!”

Jon shook his head with disgust at Richie’s and his own gullibility.

Throwing his hands up, Jon turned once again to the cars, calling over his shoulder.

“I’m outta here.”

The other three glanced at Richie and followed.

The lead limo pulled out.

The second limo, with Richie in it, headed in the other direction.

~~~

Amanda had taken a cab from the stadium back to her hotel. Her tears had dried, but there seemed to be something wrong with her sight as she saw nothing during the ride.

All she could see was Jon’s face as he had looked at her. There just wasn’t anything there.

Damn Jeremy. Damn him to hell.

Her head shook as she violently thrust her thoughts away from her ex-husband. If she stopped to think about that right now on top of what had just happened with Jon, she would lose it. She knew she would.

She’d called her mother from California, the tearful conversation lasting over an hour. Her mother had tried to say all the right words, tried to comfort her child, but there just weren’t any words that would make it any better.

Somehow telling her mother about Jon had been even harder. Jennifer had let out a string of cuss words that only ended when Amanda had started giggling despite herself.

“Mom!” Amanda’s voice had been choking with laughter.

“I didn’t even know you knew all those words!”

Jennifer had given a snort and then a short bark of a laugh.

“I know them, but don’t usually need to use them.” She sighed and then spoke again. “Baby, I’m so sorry…I…”

Amanda had hushed her, feeling the tears welling again and not wanting to further upset her mom.

She’d promised her mother she’d keep in touch and her mother, knowing her daughter, had let her get away with her deflection. Let her end the call before the tears came again.

Amanda was dragged back into the present as the cab pulled up in front of her hotel.

She needed a drink.

A lot of drinks.

And then she needed to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

~~~

Jon sat in the limo, arms crossed, staring out the window as the other men talked softly.

He’s seen her face, of course.

When her eyes had widened and the pain had entered.

Pain?

Where did she get off feeling pain?

He was the victim here. Of her schemes, her lies, her treachery.

How dare she come back? And with more lies. A text message to come to the show.

He hadn’t sent her a text message. It was just another lie.

He needed a drink.

A lot of drinks.

And it was time to talk to Richie.

The car pulling to a stop had him turning to look at Richie.

Who wasn’t there.

~~~

Richie knew Amanda would be leaving. He could hear it in her voice when she told him goodbye at the stadium. He knew she wouldn’t try to see Jon again, but she needed to know not to give up.

And that he would help her.

The driver pulled up to the hotel and Richie dismissed him for the night. He had no idea how long he would be there, but Amanda deserved to have a friend at her side tonight.

A few steps through the lobby had Richie at the elevator, pushing the button for Amanda’s floor. He moved into the empty hallway and walked quietly to her door. He knocked.

Then knocked again.

Once more.

No answer.

~~~

There were a several couples inside the bar area of the hotel, as well as a group of men who seemed to be part of a convention or meeting as a few had forgotten to remove their nametags. The music was loud, but not overpowering, and a small dance floor toward the back was filled with couples.

At the very last table in the back, a lone woman sat facing the wall, a glass of Jack and coke in front of her. Her head was lowered and she remained oblivious to the crowd all around her. Her mind was filled with images – she kept returning to the look on Jon’s face.

It’s worse than if he hated me. It’s worse because he doesn’t care.

I was wrong to try to see him.

It really is over.

She had forgotten the hat on her head until it slipped a little when she tilted her head back to drink and she took it off, setting it on the table beside her. She fingered the hat for a moment, responding with a nod but without looking when the waitress brought her another drink.

During the few days since she had flown back from California with Richie, she had done little except think about what had happened. Although she knew that Richie had talked with Jon’s mother, she had little faith that Mrs. Bongiovi would do anything. She doubted the truth would ever be revealed to Jon and the result of that, never being in his life again, made her choice.

Money wasn’t a problem. She had enough in the bank that she could go anywhere she wanted.

She thought for a few minutes about returning to her home, to the life she’d had before Jon.

But that life was even more over than this one was. There was nothing to return to. Her mother was healthy and vibrant, her life filled with friends and her job and the many organizations she belonged to. They always made time to get together, but it was around her mother’s schedule, not hers.

She had no schedule.

No job.

No life.

No Jon.

Her eyes closed as pain shot through her heart once again.

She’d had hope before.

After getting that text from Jon about the concert, she went from one wild swing of elation to the downward slope of doubt and back again. She would see Jon and … if it was over … she would leave.

Sitting in the bar, reliving over and over again the rejection in Jon’s eyes, she knew it was over.

She had wanted to believe that somehow, someway, this could be worked through. But she knew, deep down, she knew.

No matter what Richie had said, she knew Jon would never let her back in.

Her decision made, she raised her drink in a small mock salute to herself, tipped her head back and let the fire flow down her throat.

Tomorrow she would disappear.

And find herself.

Chapter 233

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 6:43 AM
Amanda had picked up her reserved ticket at the Giants stadium will-call window. Her hand actually shook a little as the woman behind the counter handed it to her. The text from Jon had more than surprised her. She hadn’t yet heard from Richie regarding the results of his conversation with Mrs. Bongiovi. He had called, but other than telling her of Carol’s comment that she would “fix it”, there had been no further news. Receiving this text was a small hope that Jon had been told by his mother of what she had done and that he was at least willing to talk to her.

With Bon Jovi scheduled for 8 that night, she entered the stadium at 7:30, after the heavy rush of the crowd. The opening band was on and the seats were filled to capacity. She stopped and got a drink. Walking through the crowded venue, she glanced more carefully at her ticket and saw to her dismay that she was in the fifth row to the right of Richie. This unfortunately put her more towards the middle of the center than she would have wished and she hesitated before entering the section.

It was now 7:40 and the band on stage was ending their last number. She stopped at the edge of the section, finished her drink and abruptly turned and left the main area. Once again she sought out an alcohol stand, understanding she was using this as a crutch to prevent entering the stadium and because she was actually scared to see Jon. With drink in hand, she walked past a souvenir stand and on impulse bought a Shady Brady to wear, using a mirror to adjust the hat low on her head, hoping this would help hide her from the stage.

She re-entered the main floor at one minute to eight, the screaming of the crowd reaching out towards the stage, the light already flashing. Moving to her area, she apologetically slid past the screaming women already there. The swell of crowd noise as Tico, David, and Hugh took the stage brought her gaze to the platform as everyone around her was standing and jostling. She gazed at the men, a small sad smile on her face that widened into one of delight as Richie and then Jon came out to a surge of noise.

They opened with Born To Be My Baby and then Jon caused massive screaming by calling out that he needed “some bad medicine, baby”. Amanda was close enough to see Jon’s face clearly and it seemed to her that the smile Jon gave over and over just missed by some small fraction to fully engage his eyes. She was a little confused that he didn’t seem to be looking for her as he surely knew where she was sitting, but he was completely involved in performing so it slid from her mind as her eyes devoured him.

A solo by Richie ended and the opening bars of “Lay Your Hands On Me” began. Each slowly building note fed on the one before it until suddenly Jon re-appeared walking slowly from the back of the stage. He had changed into a vest with no shirt and Amanda’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes never left his face. She pulled the hat lower on her forehead but stood transfixed as she watched Jon move across the stage, welcoming the crowd to “Jonny’s church of rock and roll”.

Jon was moving along the catwalk on his side of the stage, charming, flirting, smiling, and generally causing the nearest thing to a Bon Jovi riot as women of all ages reached out for his hand, his leg, his pants, anything they could get their hands on.

Richie stood playing, letting his eyes sweep the crowd. Giants was always huge for them, the crowd on its feet the entire time, dancing, swaying, and clapping. It was probably Amanda’s total lack of movement that caught his eye. Someone not moving at a Jovi concert was an oddity – it just didn’t happen – particularly in the first several rows.

The woman standing there, a Shady Brady on her head, her eyes turned to follow Jon’s every move, at first made Richie smile wryly at what he believed was another Jon convert. A familiarity in her stance tugged at his memory and he moved closer to that area at the front of the stage. Recognition suddenly dawned and the tightening of his hands on his guitar caused a string to snap. A quick glance by Hugh towards Richie had him picking up the slack as Richie’s guitar tech hurried forward with a replacement.

Amanda noticed none of this as she couldn’t stop watching Jon. He turned back towards the stage and she saw with something akin to shock that he was going to walk in between the stage and the front rows of fans. She knew she was far enough back that he probably wouldn’t see her, but a deep yearning had her desperate to feel his hand against hers, even if it was for a brief second as he passed through the crowd. She resisted, pressing back against the women pressing her forward, managing to stay at her seat.

She saw him moving closer, smiling that amazing smile of his, pressing hands, slapping palms, and with every step growing closer to where she was. Jon remained on auto-pilot as he did his fan greetings. Every day since Amanda had left his life he had gone through the motions of being his old self, a man he didn’t recognize anymore. He saw a beautiful blonde as he passed through the line and on a whim he exchanged an intense kiss with her. After letting her go, he sent an old signal behind his back to one of his security men. They knew what to do.

Amanda saw him draw closer and lowered her head. Her arm ached with the effort it took to hold it at her side. She peeped under the brim of her hat and saw Jon kiss a gorgeous blonde. He seemed to linger for a moment and then moved on, but even though she knew it was a part of his performing, such a gesture at this time added another layer to the ice she had formed inside to shield her from her pain.

Moving on, Jon scanned the crowd in front of him as he neared those toward the center but a bit on Richie’s side. He gave a small smile as he saw a woman with a hat similar to his own Shady, but couldn’t see her face as it was tilted downward. He noticed the long dark hair though and felt a tug in his heart. Quickly finishing the walk through, he returned to the stage, passing Richie as he did so. His friend gave him a look that had Jon mentally scratching his head. He had no idea what signal Richie was trying to send him, but knew he would eventually find out.

A few songs later Richie managed to catch Tico’s eye and mouth “Amanda”. Tico’s eyes widened as he began to search the crowd as best he could while playing. Glancing again at Richie, he saw Richie point to his hat and that narrowed the field. It didn’t take long before he saw a woman towards the front, barely moving, a Shady on her head, her eyes following Jon as if he was water and she was dying of thirst.

Tico gave a signal to David and his open mouth was enough of an answer that he too had seen her. Hugh didn’t need to be told. He had seen her almost as soon as Richie did. Jon remained oblivious, working the crowd with all the magic he possessed.

During the encore Richie grabbed Chris, quickly explained what he wanted done, and then moved quickly to change his clothes. Jon had his own private changing area during shows and missed the machinations by his wingman. When Bon Jovi left the stage before the last encore, Amanda found herself taken by the arms by two security men who efficiently moved her out of the crowd and off to the side.

Her protestations were completely unsuccessful and the two unsmiling security guards didn’t help. She was sure she was being escorted from the concert, thrown out actually, and she just wanted to leave as quickly as she could before her embarrassment increased.

I never should have come. He wants me out of here. Oh god, Jon, I’m so sorry!

The security guards took her back behind the stage area, to the hallways and dressing rooms for the performers. Amanda followed silently, shaking her head slightly as alternated between hope and despair. They stopped at the open door of a room with catered food and drinks, motioning her inside.

Sitting was an impossibility and Amanda didn’t even try. She paced. Back and forth, slowly and then quicker, and the slowly again. The time dragged although it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes since she had been brought back. She could hear the band, the screams of the crowd, and then the final roar as the concert ended.

Voices and laughter began to fill the hallways and Amanda’s walk slowed to a stop. She stood, craning her neck to see out the door and past the one remaining guard. A tall form suddenly filled the doorframe.

“Richie!” Amanda’s smile grew as Richie stepped in to the room and swept her in a bear hug.

“Damn girl, you should have told me you were coming.” Richie’s voice held a bit of surprise at her appearance at the concert.

She pulled back from him. “I need to leave. I thought he wanted to see me, but…”

Richie met her eyes as his thoughts whirled.

Do I bring her back? I know Jon didn’t see her. He’s been so angry. What will he do?

Her smile had started to quiver with the effort to maintain it when it took him a few seconds to answer her. He nodded then, seeming to have made a decision, and taking her hand, had her follow him from the room.

She felt immense relief until she realized he wasn’t taking her to the exit. She started to tug her hand away from his, but he held on and pulled her along with him.

Walking further towards the back dressing areas, her hand firmly held by Richie, Amanda saw curious looks but no expressions of outright surprise at her appearance. A truly warm welcome came from Tico, David and Hugh who were walking toward their dressing rooms, talking quietly about her being at the show.

Questions and smiles were shot at her in rapid fire and Amanda laughed as she tried to answer as truthfully as she could without telling what had actually happened. She was being released from a hug by David when she saw Jon walking down the hallway, his arm around the beautiful blonde from the front row of the concert. He had his head turned toward her ear, obviously whispering something that had the blonde giggling and pressing closer to him.

The unmistakable laughter and joking of his friends caught his attention and he turned toward their direction. He could see they were talking to someone, but Richie and David, the two taller of the men, were blocking who it was.

“Hey assholes! Whatcha doin’ hanging in the halls?” His voice was loud but a bit roughened from the singing. He jostled the drink already in his hand as he made a wide gesture.

At hearing his voice, Richie and Dave stepped aside and suddenly Amanda was standing there in the center of the group.

Jon stopped, frozen into motionlessness, his hand dropping from the rear end of the blonde as he blinked his eyes several times in surprise. For a long, long moment those engaging, expressive eyes flared and then he blinked again and all emotion was gone.

He seemed to visibly sag and then drew himself up again, his stance rigid, the anger coming off him nearly a tangible thing. The blonde at his side watched the group in front of her, then she again pressed herself to Jon’s side. He felt nothing when his arm automatically positioned itself on her waist.

A sharp gasp of exhaled breath escaped Amanda’s tightened throat as her heart attempted to re-start itself. She watched as Jon’s eyes drained of emotion, blanking out at the sight of her, and pain shot through her. He smiled then, a passionless sham of a smile, and pulled the woman closer.

Moving forward to his dressing room he addressed his band mates, ignoring the wide-eyed woman standing statue-like in their midst.

“Gonna be a little while guys. I’ll see ya at the party.” His voice was as emotionless as his eyes as he passed them and he missed the fists of both Richie and Tico tightening in anger at his words.

Everyone else missed the fire that returned to his eyes once he was past them.

In absolute silence they all watched him walk a little further down the hallway to his dressing room, motion for the woman to enter before him, and then slam the door.

The click of the lock was as loud as a gunshot.

Chapter 232

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 6:57 AM
Sitting there in silence after Jon had hung up on Richie, Amanda was barely aware of the man quietly thinking his own thoughts.

While everything was urging him to step in, tell Jon what had happened, why Amanda had left, that what he believed about her was wrong, there was a huge problem with doing that. How did he tell Jon that it was his own mother who had instigated this, first by investigating Amanda and then by demanding she leave.

It also seemed his mother had taken Amanda’s note and the items she had left and substituted her own. She had done this in such a way that it was almost guaranteed that Jon would despise the woman he loved.

How do I tell Jon what his mother did?

He had no answer for that – except he couldn’t.

“Richie…Richie…” Amanda’s voice called him softly, breaking him out of his deep thoughts.

“Yeah? Sorry, I was thinking. What, honey?”

“I wanted to thank you for what you said, but I think we both know things are over.”

Shaking his head in refusal, thinking furiously, Richie held up a hand to stop her.

“I don’t know how yet, but this isn’t over. I want to help you and I will…”

“We are not telling him about his mother, Richie. No matter what. Do you hear me?”

Amanda’s voice was firm and unyielding. No matter what Mrs. Bongiovi had done, she had done it for Jon, to protect him and even though what she thought she knew was wrong, Amanda would never tell Jon about it.

Sighing, Richie reluctantly agreed.

“Yeah, that’s what I was just thinking about. I won’t be telling him about his mother. You have my word on that.”

They sat in silence again, both lost in thought. Richie’s head snapped up as an idea came to him.

“We have a meeting about the Soul, two days from now. I’ll be there and you can see him.

“What if he won’t see me?”

“I’ll make sure he does. I want to do this, Amanda. I’m sorry I didn’t give you a chance to explain what was going on. Let me help, okay?”

She looked at him, sincerity radiating from every inch of his six foot height. She smiled softly at him, grateful to once again have his friendship and trust.

“It’s not going to work because there’s nothing I can tell him. How did I find out about Jeremy? Either someone told me or I already knew. He won’t believe me.”

“Dammit! I know that, but you’ve got to try…there’s got to be a way.” He sat heavily on the side of the bed.

They thought in silence for longer than a few minutes, both running different scenarios and both always coming to the same conclusion.

“Shiiiittt…” Richie breathed out after a lengthy silence.

The lighter-heartedness Amanda had felt a short time ago was fading rapidly. There was just no way.

Taking a deep breath, she spoke.

“I can’t. I won’t tell Jon about his mother.”

Richie looked at her, knowing he had reached the same conclusion. But he also knew something else.

We’re not the ones who are going to tell Jon about that.


~~~

Richie and Amanda flew back to New Jersey early Monday morning. He had finally managed to talk her into staying in the area for a few days. She was reluctant to do so, but the truth was she was feeling desperate to talk to Jon, to see him, and she missed his touch with an ache she hadn’t known she could feel.

Right now, concentrating on Jon, she was able to lock away how she felt about Jeremy’s betrayal, his children, his new life and the broken remains of hers.

There were some pictures taken of Richie at the airport with Amanda hanging back as far as she could so she would be out of the shot. It didn’t work as she was now also recognizable to certain portions of the public and later that afternoon photos of both were on the internet.

“Hey Jon, it’s Tony.”

“Hi, what’s up?” Jon answered his cell as he got out his car at the arena for the upcoming practice.

“What’s Amanda doing in California with Richie?”

“What?” Jon stopped walking as he listened to his brother.

“Matt called earlier. There are shots of both in the airport.”

Jon was thinking frantically. He wasn’t ready yet to talk about this, even to his brother.

“She has a relative out there and since I was busy, she took a few days.” He held his breath waiting to see if that explanation was accepted.

“Oh, okay, that’s cool. Just wondered. So, you’re coming to the parents house Thursday?”

Jon blew out the breath he had been holding, tension pouring off him.

“Yeah, I’ll be there. Talk to you later, okay?”

“Sure, Jonny. Later.”

The brothers hung up. One proceeded with his day without a care.

It wasn’t Jon.

~~~

Richie had a plan.

The main part it began with a surprise visit to Mrs. Bongiovi. He arrived a bit after the normal dinner hour on Tuesday and knocked on the door. John Sr. answered, a pleased yet puzzled smile on his face. He extended his hand to his son’s friend of over 25 years.

“Hi, Rich, how are you doing son?

“Good, Sir, hope I’m not catching you folks at a bad time.”

John shook his head, motioning for Richie to come in.

“Not at all, come on inside.”

Richie did so as John called out to Carol that they had a visitor.

Mrs. Bongiovi came in from the kitchen with a dishtowel in her hands.

“Why Richie! Hello! What a pleasant surprise. How are you?”

Richie accepted her hug of greeting and returned it, furiously thinking of how he could get her alone. Mr. Bongiovi unwittingly provided the means as he apologized that he had an evening arranged at one of his buddies houses and that he was actually on his way out. Breathing a silent sigh of relief, Richie accepted his apologies for having to run and they said their goodbyes.

Carol turned to Richie after her husband had left.

“Come on in the kitchen. I was just putting on a fresh pot of coffee.”

Richie followed her into the inviting room, a warm spacious kitchen that really served as the heart of the house.

Settling down in a chair at the table with a fresh cup of coffee in front of him, Richie looked at Jon’s mother with such an expression of seriousness that her maternal instincts were instantly aroused.

“Richie! What’s wrong? Is it Jon?” Her voice rose as her concern grew.

Holding up a hand, he allayed her concerns about Jon…at least the immediate one…and then his tone changed.

“Mrs. B, you and I have to talk.”

Carol turned wide eyes toward Richie as he began speaking. Several times he heard her gasp and often she turned her head away as if she could refuse to hear what he was saying simply by not looking at him. He laid everything out for her, from meeting Amanda by chance in California, to seeing her own note and the report, to talking with Amanda’s ex-husband.

She cringed when he relayed in full detail what Amanda had found out and what her part in that had been.

Then, to his own surprise, Richie also told Jon’s mother about how Jon and Amanda met. He gave her details she hadn’t know, how changed Jon was from nearly the first day of meeting her, how Amanda had not sought him out, how Jon was the one who refused to let her go. She had never heard any of this before and it cast the whole situation in a new light. She now knew why her son’s friends were so protective of Amanda. She had been accepted because she had proven herself over and over.

Turning toward Richie, tears blurring her eyes, she bowed her head.

“I’ve really made a mess, haven’t I?” Carol asked softly.

Richie didn’t answer her question, but instead posed one of his own.

“What are you gonna do about this, mom?” Her head shot up at his words and her eyes cleared.

“Fix it.”

~~~

Jon had dinner at his parents’ house a few nights later. He and his dad talked football while his mother prepared some of his favorite dishes. While both Jon’s parents tried to engage their son in conversation, they were met with one word answers and a quick departure after the minimum of socializing he could get away with.

Carol sat at the table after her son left. She loved him too much to not see how miserable he was. She already knew how wrong what she had done was, but was coming more and more to the realization that only she could help both her son and the woman he loved. She was wrong about Amanda and wrong about how Jon felt about her.

One thing she knew for sure, the text message she had sent from Jon’s phone when he was talking to his father was a start.

Chapter 231

Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 8:53 AM
The voice of the man standing here was so different from the one who had confronted her and spoken to her on the phone that all she could do was nod dumbly and step to the side.

She offered him a coffee as if everything hinged on her being as polite a hostess as possible in this two-person play. He fixed a cup and sat on a chair by the window.

He looked at her, a swath of dark hair falling partially over one eye.

“I’m some friend, aren’t I?”

“Wh…what? You’re a great friend, Richie. You and Jon are always there for each other.”

“I mean you, Manda, I’ve really been some friend.” He said this with self-disgust easy to hear in his voice.

Amanda had no idea what had caused the change in Richie’s attitude from one day to the next and just sat quietly as he mused.

“Something didn’t sound right about this from the beginning. I saw that note you left him and then he told me that you were married and that you had just left, taking everything with you, and that didn’t sound right. So, here’s what I want to know…why did you leave the way you did? Why make him feel like a fool?”

Taking a deep breath, her mind racing as to what she could and could not say, she began to tell him a little of what had happened.

“Jon’s mother came to see me and she had that…” she gestured to the folder now on the side of the bed.

Amanda turned pain-filled eyes to the dark-haired man sitting opposite her.

“She told me I had to leave, but I already knew that as soon as she said Jeremy was alive. How could I let anyone find out? I saw what the press does. They would have crucified Jon just for being with me. How could I do that to him?”

“Okay, I get that, but why do it the way you did? Why be so hateful in your note? Why take those things, especially the engagement ring, when you were leaving him?”

This was what had struck Richie as being one of the most strange things in a strange situation.

“Richie, you said that before. I didn’t take anything. Everything was on the desk.” She didn’t know how to convince him, but she knew what she had done.

Deep in thought, Richie didn’t respond for a few moments, then raised his eyes to her.

“Amanda, what did you write in your note?”

Puzzled eyes met his. “You said you read it.”

“I know, but tell me what you wrote.” He urged her.

Her eyes moved as she thought, never lighting for long on one object.

“I said I was leaving, but I couldn’t tell him why. That I could only bring him pain and he didn’t deserve that. I wrote I wasn’t who he thought, but that I love him.” It was not word for word, but what she remembered conveyed what she had written.

He cocked his head at her. “You’re sure that’s what you wrote?”

“Not word for word, no, but pretty close. Why?” Bewilderment continued to cloud her face.

“That’s not the letter Jon has.”

It was possible for her eyes to get wider.

“What letter does he have?”

“The one where you said you met him on purpose, to get what you could out of him. That you needed money. That you lied from the beginning about being married. That one.” He watched her carefully as he said this.

Tears filled her eyes as she heard this and she dropped her head so far that Richie almost didn’t hear her whispered words.

“Jesus … she hated me that much … she wanted him to hate me, so I could never come back…”

At that moment everything she had been through, all the shocks, the revelations, the horrible truths hit her and she folded over herself, hugging her stomach, her entire body shaking with the strain of her tears.

Richie sat there stunned as he watched Amanda trembling as she tried to hold in her grief and anger. He realized what she had said, what he had heard, and it nearly killed him to admit that he knew who had done this to both Jon and Amanda.

Moving from the chair to the crying woman, he raised her up by an arm and moved them to the side of the bed where he sat beside her with her in his arms. He held her as he would his daughter or his mother, offering simple comfort. As he sat there, he remembered when she had done the same for him.

As she absorbed his warmth and heard his murmured words of comfort, Amanda drew back again into welcoming numbness she had felt since learning about Jeremy. It was this lack of emotion that helped her through the next few minutes.

“I talked to Jeremy, Amanda.” Richie told her quietly.

“What? What did he say?!”

How bad did he make me sound?

“He told me everything … all of it … his affair and his son, the FBI, witness protection…”

Amanda’s eyes grew wider and wider as Richie relayed fact after fact that he could only have learned from speaking with Jeremy.

“He also told me you didn’t know.”

“I didn’t.”

They sat there in silence for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts. Richie spoke first; he had made his decision.

“Go back to him. Tell him everything. You’re free, Amanda. Tell him.”

“I can’t…” Amanda began.

Richie’s determined eyes met hers.

“Then I will.” He was reaching and dialing even as a protest rose in her throat.

“Jon?”

“Yeah?” The answer was tossed out distractedly from almost 3,000 miles away.

“There’s some stuff you need to know, man, about Amanda…” he began, his words rushing out.

“She already told me everything I needed to know.”

“But…” He realized he was speaking to a dead phone.

She looked at the phone in his hand and then at the silent man across from her. A heart-breaking smile crossed her lips.

She whispered, “… too late …”

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