Monday, August 31, 2015

There you have it. I know some people were not happy with my killing off Dorothea for this story, so I thank you for indulging me and staying with me through it all. I tried to be respectful while exploring an area that many people have experienced in their own lives.

Thanks again for reading and especially for commenting. It means more than you know.


 Jon stood behind his microphone and forced a smile. He was not a happy man. Fog and thunderstorms on the west coast had prevented them from leaving the day before as planned so instead of spending the previous night at home, he had to stay in the hotel, then fly directly to Montreal for the next show. To make matters worse, a storm in the New York area meant Brianna couldn't fly in this morning as scheduled. She promised to get there as soon as she could, but by the time he'd taken the stage she still wasn't there.

He missed his wife. Talking to her on the phone everyday just didn't cut it for him. He'd been looking forward to having her in his bed, in his arms...just near him. He'd discovered he very much like having his wife with him on the road. Being denied that set his temper on edge.

His bandmates knew what his problem was and found it highly amusing and teased him mercilessly. 

"Awww, what's the matter Boo-Boo? Are you homesick? Missing your ranger?" David needled.

"Or maybe just wishing for some home cooking." Richie grinned and waggled his eyebrows.

"Assholes!" Jon flipped them off. "You're just jealous."

Since neither of his tormentors could honestly argue that point, they shut up.

The staff weren't as brave and tread very carefully around the boss. Even Paul and Amanda were thinking twice before approaching him with anything that they thought might upset him.

Looking around at the crowd, every redhead caught his eye, but when none of them were the one he was looking for, his frustration grew. At one point, just as they were starting the encore, he even thought he saw her yellow suit out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned his head, it was gone.

With a last wave to the crowd, he stomped down the stairs from the stage, peeled off his shirt and grabbed the towel Amanda held out to him. He started toward his dressing room as he wiped his face. When the towel passed his eyes, he glimpsed his dressing room door closing.

He frowned. "What the fuck? Did someone just go into my dressing room?" He looked around at the security team. "Did you let someone into my dressing room?"

"Um...yes?" The young arena security guard flinched under the icy blue stink eye boring into him. "She had a pass. She said she was your wife."

That made Jon pause. "My wife? Are you sure?"

The guard swallowed nervously. "I think so. Red hair, gold eyes,..."

Jon didn't wait to hear the rest of the young man's description. He bolted for his dressing room.

"That's her." David assured the security guard. "You're off the hook. Better warn the drivers we'll be late leaving. He hasn't seen her in awhile."

The guard stared for a moment, then blushed and grinned. "Oh. Right. Okay."

Jon burst through the door and slammed it behind him, flicking the lock with one hand.

Brianna spun around from where she was closing up his stage wardrobe, her hand covering her heart. "Jesus Jon! You just about gave me a heart attack!"

"That's not all I'm going to give you."

The predatory look on his face as he stepped towards her, tossing aside his shirt and towel, had her instinctively backing up until her back hit the wall.

"You can't escape." He assured her. "You're mine!"

As he came closer, her eyes drifted over his bare chest, eating up the sight. When he was within reach she let her hands wander over his warm,firm flesh. "That works both ways sweetheart."

He framed her face with his hands. "Ah Golden Eyes, God I've missed you."

Her fingers flexed, digging into hard muscle and tugging on his fur as his mouth took possession of hers. She sighed at his familiar taste. "Mmmmm."

While Brianna lost herself in his kiss, Jon released her face and slid his hands down her torso. When his fingers found the buttons holding her suit jacket closed, he quickly undid them and spread the sides of her jacket wide. Like magnets to metal, his hands gravitated to her breasts, stroking and squeezing and pinching the hardening nipples through the lace.

"Mmmm." Her kiss turned more voracious with every touch, every pull. Her nails bit into his shoulders and her back arched, urging him closer.

Breaking the kiss, Jon trailed his mouth along her jaw, down her and upper chest. He kissed and licked the plump flesh rising above  delicate yellow lace. Lifting his head slightly, he fingered the lace. "This is new."

"Mmm hmm." Brianna grinned at his close attention to her lingerie. "I thought it was cheerful."

It was certainly cheering him up. "And is it a matching set?"

His hopeful tone was like a child looking for a treat. But he was no child, and the treat he was going to get wasn't the one he was asking for. She didn't think he'd be disappointed. "Yes...and no."

"What does that mean?"

"You'll have to figure it out."

While he thought about her cryptic comment, he noticed the clasp holding the bra together was between her breasts. With a quick flick of his fingers, the lace fell aside and with it all thoughts of riddles. Instead, his attention focused on the luscious flesh in front of him. Her perfume filled his nostrils and swirled through his head. With a low groan, he bent and set his mouth to her skin, kissing, tasting, nibbling, he devoured her.

Brianna gasped, her hands lifting to thread her fingers through his hair and hold him close. When his lips closed around an aching nipple and he suckled, she shuddered and cried out. "Yes! Harder baby. I need more!"

So did he. While his mouth feasted on her breasts, his hands slid down her sides, following her curves until he reached the bottom of her short skirt. The urgency riding him after weeks of separation had his hands fisting the material and yanking upwards. One thigh pushed between hers. The scent of her arousal took his control right to the edge. His chest heaved, his heart pounded, his cock pushed so hard against his zipper he was sure it would leave permanent marks. If he didn't get inside her in the next two minutes he was going to embarrass himself.

He yanked on his belt with one hand while the other slid between her thighs to make sure her little cries and moans meant she was as ready and eager as he was. When he reached his goal, his heart lurched and sweat trickled down his back. "Oh fuck."

Now he knew what her lingerie comment meant: it might be a matching set but she wasn't wearing the other half.

"That's the plan if you'd care to get on with it." She panted and tried to pull him closer. "It's been so long, Jon, don't make me wait any longer."

Jon blew out a ragged breath. "Yes dear." Dragging his fingers slowly away from her damp, swollen flesh, he shoved his pants down over his hips, stepped closer and gave her what she asked for.

"Yes!" Brianna gasped at the force of his entry. "Oh God, yes!"

"You feel so fucking good!" Jon rasped in her ear. "I...I can't be gentle."

"Don't want gentle." She bit his earlobe. "Fuck me Jon!"

He didn't have to be asked twice, and her words cut the last tether of his control. Pushing her harder against the wall, he lifted one of her knees to hook over his hip, opening her more and pounded into her.

Brianna clung to his shoulders and struggled to breathe. "Yes..yes..yes...yes." It was a whispered chant pushed out of her lungs with each hard thrust of his body into hers. 

Jon buried his nose in her neck, immersing himself in her scent, her heat, the feel of her skin, grounding himself in her, trying to sate the cravings that had been driving him crazy for the past few weeks. He wanted to drag it out, to make the incredible sensations last, but his deprived body wasn't in the mood to cooperate. When her body tightened around him, it was game over. "Fuck! Sugar, I'm gonna....."

Brianna was too lost in her own approaching detonation to speak - it was all she could do to breathe! "Oh! Oh! Ooooooh!"

They clung and shuddered against each other as their climaxes overtook them.

After a few minutes, Jon was finally able to withdraw from her body, kick out of his pants that were pooled at his feet and stumble over to a chair, pulling his wife with him. Brianna grabbed a towel to clean herself up with, then gave in to his urging and sat on his lap. He shifted her until her back was against his chest and they could see themselves in the mirror. She attempted to straighten her clothes, but his arms came around to stop and hold her.

"Wow." Still slightly breathless, he pressed a kiss to her temple.

"Yeah." She agreed. "Worth the wait."

Jon grunted. "When did you get here?"

"About halfway through the show."

"Why didn't you signal me that you were here? You knew I was anxious to see you."

"I didn't want to disrupt the show."

"You didn't watch?"

"Some. But not being able to touch you was driving me crazy, so I came back here." She admitted.

He grinned and let his fingers idly roam her torso. His eyes followed their path in the mirror. This was one of his favourite times: basking in the afterglow and talking quietly. "Were the kids okay with you leaving them with Mom and Dad?"

"Mmm hmm. Mostly. Romeo wanted to come with me, until your mom distracted him with cookies. When I took them to get their passports, Jake saw a Kung Fu Panda kids suitcase. He's been bugging me about it every day. Today he tried to bargain with me that if he was good while we're gone could he have the suitcase."

Jon snorted. "You mean you haven't bought it for him already?" He knew his wife was a bit of a pushover when his kids wanted something.

She shrugged. "Birthday present."

"You spoil them."

She shrugged again, lulled by his caressing fingers. "I love them."

He nodded. "And they love you." He kissed her temple again. "So do I."

Sighing, she grabbed his wandering hand and sat up. "Let's get going back to the hotel. It'll be more comfortable there and I'm sure the guys would like to get back too."

"I need a shower."

She eyed him. "Wait until we get back to the hotel."


"Because I need one too.....and I want to take my time."

The pointed look she gave him kicked his brain into gear and he grinned. "Oh. Okay."

Dressed, they had just finished packing up and were heading for the door, when somebody pounded on it from the other side. 

"Boo-Boo! We're growing old out here! Let your pic-a-nic basket up for air and lets go back to the hotel!"

Jon yanked open the door and glared at his keyboard player. "Don't get your panties in a twist Lemma. You'll still have time for your beauty rest.....or to find a beauty to rest with."

Amid the resulting snickers, Brianna frowned at their curly haired friend. "Why am I a picnic basket?"

"Because you provide him with sustenance and sate his hunger." His lips twitched. "And your prim exterior conceals such delectable goodies."

Brianna scowled, but before she could respond Richie strode down the hallway and with one quick move, hefted her over his shoulder. "Richie! What are you doing?"

"I want to go back to the hotel and taking you is the surest way to get Jon moving to the van."

"If this is the way you're all going to treat me maybe I should just stay home with the kids!" She threatened.

"NO!!"  Was the instant and unanimous response from band and staff.

She was outnumbered and overpowered  - and could barely suppress a grin.

Europe was busy, stressful, exciting.....and exhausting. Every travel day Brianna thanked God for private planes. It wasn't that the kids misbehaved, they were just....energetic. Brianna was run ragged finding ways to keep them occupied and entertained while still  getting her work done. When it came time to head home, everyone was tired, a little cranky and ready for a break.

They stumbled through the door and Brianna nearly tripped over luggage that had been dropped in the foyer. "Hey! A girl could break her neck here! Take your suitcases upstairs please and put your laundry in the hampers."

Groans echoed from various rooms.

"Come guys," Jon admonished his children, "you heard Bri, come get your stuff."

Jesse trudged in, grabbed his suitcase and started up the stairs. "What's for dinner?"

"Yeah, I'm hungry." Jake added as he followed his older brother.

It was Brianna's turn to groan. "You just ate on the plane! You guys must have hollow legs."

"We growing boys Bianna."

"Sorry, my bad." Brianna fought a smile. "Let me get the laundry going then I'll find you some food."

"I'll help you." Stephanie offered as she joined the procession up the stairs.

"Thanks." Brianna started to follow the kids. She glanced back to see Jon walking the other way. "Hey rockstar. Forget where you are? There's no bellhops here."

Grumbling, Jon glared at his wife, but reversed direction, swiped up his bag and followed his family.

Upstairs. Brianna gathered her laundry and Jon's, then headed for the boys' rooms to do the same. Adding Romeo's laundry to the pile, she stepped into Jake's room to find Stephanie already there unpacking his bag. "Oh. Thanks Steph."

"No problem."

"So now that we're home, tell me honestly. Is the tour plan working okay for you?"

Stephanie considered for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah. It's different, but being together in Europe was kind of fun. Tiring, but fun. I don't know how Dad has done it all these years."

"Me either." Brianna agreed.  "That was only my second tour over there and I know I couldn't do it for twenty plus years."

"If you can hold out as long as Dad does from now on you should be alright." Jesse commented from the doorway where he was adding his laundry to the pile.

"And how are you feeling about the tour plan now Jess?" Brianna asked, hoping he'd come to at least accept it.

He shrugged. "I can live with it. Europe was kind of fun. Besides, it's not like he tours every year."

"Good. We can reevaluate it next tour and see how everyone's feeling."

As they headed to the laundry room with overflowing baskets, Stephanie frowned. "Um...Bri?"

"Mmm?" Brianna was frowning now too. It wasn't like Stephanie to sound so tentative with her.

"Can we.....can we go to the cemetery tomorrow?"

"Sure. Is something wrong?"

"No." Stephanie assured her quickly. "I just want to visit. Maybe take some fresh flowers. I haven't been in awhile."

"Okay. We'll go after breakfast. How does that sound?"

"That's good."

At the cemetery, Brianna stayed in the car to give Stephanie some privacy.

Brushing twigs and leaves off of the gravestone, Stephanie knelt and arranged the flowers that they'd picked up at Dorothea's favourite florists on their way that morning. "Hi Mom. I know it's been awhile since I've been to visit. We've been away. Dad's on tour again and we're trying something different. I know you didn't like touring, but Bri does. She really loves her job. And she's really good at it. But she also loves us and wants to make sure we're happy and taken care of, so we've come up with a compromise. She stayed home during the west coast leg, went with him for the east coast shows and we all went to Europe. I think Paul and the crew were a little frazzled, but the uncles didn't seem to mind. I'm sure there were times when Dad would have preferred that we weren't there disrupting his routine, but he was a good sport - plus he was happy to have Bri with him."

She glanced over towards the car. "You were right about Bri, Mom. She's good for Dad - for all of us. She figures out what we need and makes sure we get it." She frowned. "She does so much for all of us. I think we need to try harder to make sure she's taken care of too. I'll have to remember to talk to Dad about that."

"Steph!" Brianna called from beside the car. "Your dad just called. He wants to know if you want to go to the beach."

Waving, Stephanie stood and brushed off her knees. "Gotta go Mom." She paused and looked down at the stone. "You know Mom, I think you were right about something else too. We will always love you and miss you, but we're going to be just fine."

The End

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chapter 126

The next day passed in a haze of exhaustion for Brianna. She'd slept only in snatches between dispensing meds and juice and cleaning up various forms of human waste, as well as laundry and comforting the little ones. She'd lost track of how much she actually slept, or when she ate last. She only knew what time it was because she kept track on her chart.

Needing to replenish her supplies, Brianna stumbled downstairs and into the kitchen. She set a pot of coffee brewing while she gathered what she needed. Halfway through her first cup, the gate buzzed, but she ignored it, as well as the opening of the door.

Jon and Richie dropped their bags in the foyer, their energy depleted. Sore throats had turned into headaches and vomiting during the flight home.

"What's this?" Richie wondered when he saw Brianna's chart on the table.

Too tired to even look at it, Jon shrugged. "Honey? We're home!"

Hoping he was bringing help and not more work, Brianna dragged herself into the foyer. One look at the two men dashed her hopes. "Oh no. Not you guys too!" Their pale faces and glassy eyes told her she had two more patients to add to her roster. She sighed and pointed to the stairs. "Into bed. Both of you."

Neither of the men were about to argue. It was all they could do to carry their bags upstairs. Brianna made new columns in her chart, gathered her supplies and followed. 

She found Jon face down on their bed. She left some juice on his night table and went to check on Richie. He had managed to undress before he collapsed. 

"Do I need to call someone in L.A. to let them know you won't be home for a few days?"

He shook his head. "My mom. I was supposed to be visiting with her."

That would explain why they didn't drop him off in L.A. on their way home. "Okay, I'll call her. There's juice there if you think you can get it down."


Brianna did a quick check on the kids.

"Is that Dad home?" Stephanie asked sleepily.

"Yes, with Uncle Mookie. They're both sick too."

"Welcome to the party."

Brianna shook her head as she got Jon undressed and returned downstairs. Some party. More like the morning after. In her office she looked up Joan's number.


"Hi Joan, it's Brianna Bongiovi."

"Oh hello dear, are the boys home yet?"

"Yes they are, and all with the flu. That's why I'm calling. I've got Richie tucked up in bed here."

"Oh no! You should have sent him here. You don't need to deal with that and risk exposing the kids."

"It's okay." Brianna assure her. "The kids are all sick too. Adding another one is not a problem." She smiled wryly. "At least he can get himself to the bathroom so I don't have to find another bucket."

"Oh you poor thing. That's not fun. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

"No, I stocked up when the kids started dropping so I think we're okay."

"Don't forget to rest as much as you can." Joan reminded the younger woman. "You won't be able to help anyone if you get sick too."

"I know. I'm trying."

"Well, don't let Richie give you any grief! And make sure you call me if you need anything."

Brianna chuckled, "I will. Thanks Joan."

That night, the young kids fevers finally broke and the spewing stopped. Over the next couple days they recuperated quickly. The same could not be said for the big kids. Between Richie's moaning and Jon's whining, Brianna decided she'd rather deal with four sick kids than two sick manchildren..

"Stop whining or I'll smother you with a pillow." Brianna warned her husband as she straightened the bed. Fevers made him a restless sleeper, which was part of the reason she was sleeping elsewhere.

"I just want to cuddle." Jon pouted.

Brianna left the room, returning a minute later with one of Romeo's big teddy bears which she laid down beside him. "Here. Cuddle this."

"It's not the same. I don't know why you're not sleeping here where you belong."

"Because I'm trying to limit my prolonged exposure to the germs. If I get sick who's going to look after you? Now get some rest." She smoothed back his hair and bent to kiss his forehead.

Jon grumbled, but his eyes drifted closed. When she looked back at him from the doorway, he had clutched the bear under his chin and was already asleep.

It was another couple days before the men were over the worst of it.

Brianna was in the kitchen when Jon appeared, showered and freshly shaven. "Hey there! Feeling better?"

He grunted and sat on a stool at the island. "Coffee."

She smiled as she poured him a cup and handed it to him. "How about some breakfast? Maybe some poached eggs and bacon?" Her smile grew when he shuddered and scowled. "Stomach not up to that yet? How about scrambled eggs and toast? Or do you just want toast or maybe cereal?"

He considers that for a moment while he sipped. "Scrambled and toast. Please."

Knowing how how was before his coffee, she stood at the stove quietly while she cooked his eggs.

The click of Jon's mug hitting the countertop was loud in the room. "Bri....this isn't working for me."

She froze, her stomach sinking. She'd heard those words from the man who was her husband before. That time it was his explanation for screwing around on her. She didn't believe that was the case this time. What does he mean by that? We've only been married a few months! Swallowing heavily, she took a deep breath. "What isn't working for you?"

"You here while I'm on the road. Amanda's not doing a bad job, but she's not you. I don't want to go through another marriage where I'm separated from my wife for months at a time." He frowned. "But the last few days have also shown how much the kids need you here."

Breathing normally again, Brianna set down the spatula and turned to lean on the counter across from him. "So we're right back to square one. I can't be in two places at once, so what do we do?"

"You know, for two of the smartest people I know, you two can be pretty dense." Richie commented as he entered the room and headed for the coffee pot. "Mmm. That smells good."

"Okay Dr. Sambora, what are we being dense about?" Brianna asked a little sharply as she rose and walked over to put bread in the toaster.

But Richie didn't take offence at her tone. He reached for a plate, scooped out the cooked eggs and cracked more into the pan. "What's the key to any successful marriage? The romantics will tell you it's love, but that's only part of it. The realists will tell you it's patience and compromise."

"Okay, I'll buy that." Jon nodded. "So how do we compromise?"

"Well, this is going to take some compromising on the kids part as well." He warned. "Have you got a copy of the tour schedule handy?"

"In the office. I'll go grab it." Brianna was curious about what Richie saw that they hadn't. Returning, she spread the sheets out on the counter.

Richie studied them for a few minutes. "Okay. Off the top of my head, I'd say Brianna tours with us for the east coast shows while    the grandparents or someone stays with the kids, then Brianna stays home for the west coast shows."

"And what about Europe?" Brianna asked.

"Once we're out of school we go with you." Stephanie suggested as she entered the room, having obviously heard enough of their conversation to understand the topic.

"You'd really be okay with me going on tour for a few weeks?" Brianna needed to be sure.


"And what about your brothers?"

Stephanie shrugged. "They'll survive."

"No!" Jesse disagreed from the doorway.


"No!" Jesse cut his sister off. "We need her here. Mom never went on tour."

"Jesse..." Jon began, but Stephanie beat him to it.

"Because she didn't want to. She hated all the paparazzi and living out of a suitcase and the craziness of tour life. She told us she'd done it when they were younger, but she'd had enough and preferred to stay home with us. But that was Mom's choice. Do you remember what Grandma told us when Bri and Dad started dating?"

Jesse frowned, but nodded. "That Brianna isn't Mom. She doesn't have the same likes, wants and needs and we shouldn't expect her to do things the same way Mom did."

Brianna's brows rose in surprise and she exchanged a glance with Jon. He just shrugged.

"Right." Stephanie agreed. "So if it makes her - and Dad - happy that she goes with him for part of the tour, then we have to support that. It's not forever. It's only for a few weeks. We'll survive." She paused. "We've found happiness as a family again Jess. We can't be the cause of that falling apart."

Jesse sighed, but nodded.

"You're doing what?" Lisa shook her head vigorously, sure she must have misheard her sister-in-law.

"I'm having the family over for dinner on December 27th." Brianna repeated.

"The whole family?"

"Yes. Both families actually."

"Okay. I have to ask. Why?" Lisa shuddered at the thought of the drama and arguments that could arise at any gathering where Edward was present.

"Because I want to have all of my family in my life with everyone getting along. And I'm hoping being around Jon's family and seeing how they interact might get Father to ease up."

Lisa hesitated. "You you really think that will happen?"

Brianna sighed. "No, but I live in hope."

"You're a brave woman." Rachel murmured to her sister-in-law as she entered the house on the Navesink. Both of Brianna's sisters-in-law kept their families away from Edward as much as possible.

"Brianna, the house looks beautiful!" Sara exclaimed.

"Thanks." Brianna had taken more time than usual decorating the house for Christmas. Jon had wisely kept quiet and helped when he was asked. She watched her father carefully for his reaction. Seeing him glance around and nod, she let out a relieved breath, her hopes for a peaceful evening growing.

It lasted all the way until dessert.

"Fantastic meal Sunshine." Matt patted his stomach and eyed the pie in front of him. "I vote you have the next family get together too. You know, to give Mom a break."

Carol rolled her eyes, but smiled at Brianna.

"I agree." Tony spoke up from further down the table. "Maybe when you guys get back from Europe?" He pouted. "I still wish you were coming to the west coast with them Sunshine."

Brianna smiled. "Maybe next time. This is the compromise we can all live with right now."

"What are you talking abut Brianna? Are you going on tour after all?" Sara frowned. "I thought you were staying home with the children."

"Just for part of it. I'll stay home for the west coast shows, Carol and John are going to stay with the kids while I join Jon for the east coast shows..."

"Then we're all going to Europe!" Jake finished with a grin.

"So everybody sacrifices a little, but no one sacrifices a lot." Sara summed up the plan with a nod. "Sounds like a good compromise."

"It's not a sacrifice to care for your home and children." Edward argued.

"No, but it's not a crime to want more." Carol spoke up. "Being a wife and mother is wonderful, but sometimes, especially as the kids get older, it takes more to feel fulfilled."

"My daughter was raised to know better. My daughter..."

"Is now my wife!" Jon interrupted his father-in-law before he said something that started World War III. He could sense Brianna's tension even from the other end of the table and knew he'd see pain in her eyes. This had to stop! "Her goal now is not to make you happy, but to make me, the kids and most of all herself happy!" He struggled to control his temper. "Edward, I get where you're coming from. But you've raised a smart, very capable and compassionate woman. She has always put the needs of the kids and me above her own. I love her and I want her to be happy. I also want her with me as much as possible. That makes me happy. Now, I would love to have you as part of our family, but I won't stand by and listen to my wife being belittled and demoralized, especially by her own father! So if you want to be a part of our lives, our family, you have to understand and accept that the decisions Bri makes will be what she feels is right for herself, and our family. You don't have to agree with them, but you do have to keep your criticism to yourself or you will not be welcome here."

"Edward please!" Sara reached out to grip her husband's hand.

The room was silent as everyone held their breath waiting for Edward's response.

Edward eyed his son-in-law, his wife, and finally his daughter. "At least this time you found a man who'll stand up for you and beside you instead of taking the first opportunity to toss you aside. I can see that he loves you and you seem to be happy with him and his family."

"I am. Very happy." Brianna assured him.

"That's all I ever wanted for you. I'm still not convinced you will be long term, but as long as you're happy, I'll keep my reservations to myself." He looked at Jon again.  "But at the first sign she's unhappy, this truce - and my silence - is over."

Jon nodded curtly. "Understood."

Breaths around the table were released as the tension eased and everyone dug into their desserts and conversation resumed. The rest of the evening was as relaxed and peaceful as Brianna had hoped it would be.

Standing at the front door waving their guests off, Brianna waited until the last car pulled away, then turned and threw her arms around her husband's neck. "I love you so much! My hero! Thank you!"

Jon hugged her tight. "After everything we've been through....that you helped us get through...did you really think I would stand by and let him treat you like that?" He leaned back to look in her eyes. "You've helped us become a happy family again, Golden Eyes. For that and everything you do for us, I will always defend and protect you. I love you."

They turned back towards the house to find Stephanie and Jesse standing in the doorway.

"That was pretty awesome Dad." Stephanie praised him.

"Yeah. Way to go." Jesse added.

"Thanks." Jon looked around as his smiling family. "Just taking care of business."

The Bongiovi's were good at that.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chapter 125

The ringing of the house phone startled Brianna from her concentration on the proposal she was preparing for Jon and the Foundation on lunch programs for the local public schools. "Hello?"

"Mrs. Bongiovi?"


"Hi. This is Judy Baker calling from the school."

Brianna frowned. "Hi. Is something wrong with Jake?"

"I'm afraid so. Nothing serious. I think he's caught the flu that's going around. He's warm and he just threw up."

"Poor kid. I'm on my way. Thanks for calling."

"He's in the nurse's room laying down. Just go to the office when you get here."

"Okay. Thanks again." Hanging up, Brianna stood and looked at Romeo who was playing with some toys on the floor in front of her desk. "Come on Little Man. Jake's sick and we have to go get him."

"Okay." He rose and followed her, content to go along with what she wanted....until he saw the winter coat she held out for him. "No!"

"Come on Romeo, we have to go get Jake."

"No coat!"

"You have to wear a coat. It's cold outside." November had been fairly mild, but December seemed to be trying to make up for it. Two feet of snow had been dumped on the area a couple days earlier and the temperature had dropped a good ten degrees.

But Romeo wanted no part of it. "No no no no no!" He shook his head vigorously as he backed away from her.

Mary, one of the cleaning staff who had occasionally helped with the kids appeared at the top of the stairs. "I'll keep an eye on him if you want to leave him here."

Brianna looked at Romeo. "Do you want to stay home with Mary or come with me?"

He considered for a moment. "Stay wif Mawy."

"Okay. I'll be back soon." Pulling on her coat and boots, she grabbed her purse and keys and rushed out to her car.

At the school, Brianna found a pale Jake huddled on the cot in the nurse's room. "Hey buddy." She smoothed his hair off his forehead and frowned at the warmth of his skin.

"I'm sick."

"I know. Do you want to go home?"

He nodded.

"Okay. Can you sit up for me?"

He nodded again and sat up. Brianna reached over to a nearby chair where someone had set his coat, boots and lunch box. She got him dressed and straightened. "Ready to go?"

Jake nodded yet again and held up his arms, obviously wanting to be carried. Brianna obliged, bending to lift him into her arms. 

The nurse handed her his lunch box. "Feel better Jake."

Brianna got Jake home and settled into bed with some Tylenol - and a bucket. Returning downstairs, she went into the kitchen to start making a list of groceries and other supplies they needed to cope with sickness in the house.

That's where Mary found her. "Is there anything else you want me to do today?"

Brianna glanced at the clock. "Can you stay until I pick up the other two?"

"Sure. No problem."

List in hand, Brianna set out again. The wind had picked up considerably in the short time she'd been inside and the sky had taken  on an ominous cast. It looked like more snow was on the way. I hope it holds off until I get home.

Pulling up in front of the school, she was surprised to see Stephanie and Jesse both ready and waiting. In fact, she'd barely come to a complete stop before they were reaching for the door handles. "Hey guys. You're sure in a hurry today. What's going....on? Uh oh." She'd turned to look at them as she spoke and had her answer as soon as she saw Jesse's pale face. "Are you alright Jess?"

He shook his head. "I feel like sh...crap."

Brianna grimaced sympathetically. "Jake came home early with the flu. Looks like you've got it too. Can you hold on long enough for me to make a quick stop at the grocery store? By the looks of the sky we're in for more snow and we need a few supplies."

Jesse nodded. "If I have to I'll puke in the parking lot."

"Nice Jess." Stephanie wrinkled her nose.

He just shrugged and leaned his head against the window.

At the grocery store Brianna parked and shut off the car. "I'll be quick."

"I'll come with you." Stephanie offered. "If we split up the list we'll be twice as fast."

Brianna looked from Jesse's face to the darkening sky. "Good idea. Thanks."

They were in and out in record time and made it home just as the first flakes were starting to fall.

"Mary, it's starting to snow." Brianna warned as she set down the bags she was carrying. "You'd better get going unless you want to stay here."

Mary rushed into the foyer to grab her coat and boots. She glanced at Jesse's face, frowned and looked at Brianna. "Another patient?"

"Looks like it."

"Do you want me to stay?"

Brianna shook her head. "No, that's okay. I've got it."

A couple hours later, she wondered if her confidence had been a bit premature. After getting Jesse settled into bed with Tylenol and a bucket, she returned downstairs and debated options for dinner that would soothe a queasy stomach. 

"Bina hep!"

"What's the matter Little Man? You getting hungry?"

He shook his head. "My tummy hurts."

Uh oh. She walked over to crouch down feel his forehead. "Does your head hurt?"

"Bri, where's the...."

What ever Stephanie was going to ask for was cut off and forgotten as Romeo made a choking sound, then threw up....on Brianna.

"Ew, gross!" Stephanie grimaced.

"Grab some paper towels please Steph."

"I sowy!"

"It's okay Little Man. You couldn't help it." Three down.

Cleaned up, Romeo in bed, Brianna was once again in the kitchen, this time with a clipboard and sheets of paper.

"What are you doing?" Stephanie sat on the stool beside her.

"Making a chart to keep track of when they've had Tylenol so that I don't over dose them. With so many sick this is the easiest way to keep track." She eyed the teenager. "How are you feeling?"

Stephanie shrugged. "I've got a bit of a headache, but otherwise I'm fine." She stood and walked over to the window. "When does Dad get home?"

"Day after tomorrow. They've got a show tonight...or last night, I've lost track of the time difference, then they're coming home." The thought crossed her mind that he hadn't called today like he usually did, but she pushed it aside. She had enough to worry about right now.

"Hope the snow stops in time."

"Me too."

A couple hours later, Brianna stepped out of Jesse's room to empty his pail and met Stephanie coming out of the bathroom. Her pale face and reddened eyes said it all.

"You too?"

Stephanie nodded and headed for her bedroom.

Sighing, Brianna cleaned the pail she was carrying, put it back in Jesse's room, then went in search of another one for Steph.

It wasn't until almost midnight as she wrote the latest Tylenol doses on her chart that she realized Jon still hadn't called. Amanda hadn't contacted her either, but she couldn't help but feel something was wrong. 

Frowning, she went into her office and booted up her computer. A quick internet search provided videos of interviews done the day before and clips from the show. Uh oh. The interviews showed a very impatient Jon fidgeting in his chair, checking his watch constantly while Richie answered the majority of the questions. Wonder what's got his panties in a twist?

Before she could investigate further, a cry from upstairs had her rushing up to Romeo's room. His bucket was empty, but it very quickly became apparent that while one end had paused in its spewing, the other end had started.

"I sowy! I sowy!" Romeo cried.

"Shhhh Little Man, it's okay. You can't help it." She reassured him as she set about getting him and his bed cleaned up.

Then it was time for laundry and the next round of bed checks and Tylenol. She'd just sat down when her phone rang. "Hi honey."

"Hi. You've got to talk to Amanda."

Brianna sighed, not sure she had the energy to deal with anything more. "What's wrong?"

"She's fucking up left, right, and centre." Jon growled. "My ginseng's alway late, she's mixing up interviews, switching them around without telling me so I don't know who I'm talking to, my food's either cold or too spicy, and yesterday I asked for lozenges and she brings me COUGH DROPS! It's a train wreck! You need to fix it."

"I can't fix it from here." Brianna sighed, too tired to deal with him in diva mode. "Did she really not tell you about the interview switch or did you not pay attention or check your schedule before you walked in?" She'd been there, dealt with that. "As for the's her first tour Jon, and she's never worked with a musician before. She's not familiar with how it works and what your specific preferences are."

"You picked it up right away."

Her lips twitched. "That's 'cause I'm good."

"I have a whole new appreciation of your skills Golden Eyes." He admitted.

"I'm glad to hear that. You just need to be patient and give her time to find her balance."

"I don't have time for that! You were supposed to train her!"

Her own patience snapped. "I can't train her from thousands of miles away! You're a big boy Jon, open your mouth and tell her what you need - and don't yell it at her. Or fire her and get someone else."

"You need to..."

"You'll have to deal with it. I don't have time for this Jon. I have four kids sick with the flu. I'm up to my elbows in vomit and shit. I don't have any time for yours. I'll see you when you get home." Disconnecting, she tossed the phone onto the couch beside her.

Jon blew out a breath, cursed and tossed his phone aside.

"Problem?"  Richie asked from the doorway.

"The kids are all down with the flu."

"Hmmm. Bet they're glad we left Sunshine at home."

Jon just grunted.

"Glad we're going home tomorrow." David rubbed his throat as he joined them. "My throat is killing me."

"Well, keep it to yourself." Jon instructed. "I've got enough to deal with." He'd been ignoring the tickling in his own throat for two days.

Richie raised a brow at his front man's grouchy tone. "Missing your wife already? Or just horny?"

Jon grunted.

"How are you going to make it through the rest of the tour?"

Jon was wondering the same thing himself.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chapter 124

The next morning Jon was once again at his desk. Turning on his computer, he pulled up his latest updated schedule and scowled. "Bri!" God dammit! Standing, he strode from the room. "Brianna!"

Uh oh. Full name. Not good. Brianna lifted her gaze from the invitation she was reading as he stomped into her office. "What's wrong?"

"Have you seen my latest schedule for Japan?"

"I haven't looked at it since we got home. What's the problem?"

"Look at it."

Turning to her computer, she pulled up his schedule and frowned. "I'll fix it."

His jaw twitched as he fought to bite back the words he really wanted to say. He settled for a grunt. "And talk to Amanda."

Brianna waited until he'd returned to his own office before raising her middle finger in his direction. This was where being married to your boss got tricky. As an employee, she expected to get reprimanded for screw ups, but as his wife she didn't care for his tone. Sighing, she picked up the phone and dialled. "Hi Amanda, it's Brianna."

"Hey! You're home! How was the honeymoon?"

"Paradise. It's hard to get back into work mode." Brianna admitted.

"I'll bet. Well, I think everything's under control. I've sent you the latest mail and the schedules for Japan and Australia are pretty much set."

"Yeah, about that. Can we take a look at Japan for a minute?"

"Sure. Is someone wrong?" Amanda sounded nervous.

"A couple of the interviews need to be rescheduled." She paused. "Did you forget that Jon doesn't do interviews on show days?"

"Oh shit." Amanda swore. "I'm sorry. I forgot. I meant to ask you  about why that is. Is it just one of his quirks or is there a reason for it?"

"It's to save his voice for the show. You also have to remember - and occasionally remind some others - that if you have to talk to him on show days make sure that the questions are worded to require only yes or no answers that he can either nod or shake his head for. And make sure he takes his ginseng. You'll have to watch and listen to him closely. He won't always tell you if his throat is sore or bothering him."

As she listened to Brianna list all the things she needed to be aware of during the tour, Amanda could hear the wistful note in her  voice. "You should be the one going on tour. It's obvious you love it."

"Yes, but the kids need me to be at home." And no matter how much she wanted to go on tour, no matter how hard she tried to think of options around it, it was a reality she couldn't ignore or overcome. She had to stay home. Maybe if she could convince herself it was her choice to stay home it wouldn't hurt as much.

As the tour drew closer, the tension in the mansion on the Navesink grew. There were no arguments or even harsh words, but it was obvious neither of the adults were happy. Brianna struggled to hide her disappointment and Jon tried to find some way to make her feel better.

"I don't know why I have to sit and watch you do this." Jon grumbled as he watched her set jeans in his bag.

"Would you rather do it yourself?"

"No, I'd rather let you do it and go for a run."

"What's the first thing customs asks you about your luggage?"

He frowned, then sighed. "If I packed it myself and do I know everything that's in it."

"Right. And since I won't be there to back you up you need to watch what I put in here." She smirked. "You never know what I might sneak in."

He didn't smile at her feeble attempt at a joke. "You know I want you with me."

"I know." She didn't look up from the suitcase.

"If there was any way..."

"I know. But the kids have to come first."


"Jon, it's okay. We've been over this a hundred times. I get it. I understand and agree." She shrugged. "There'll be other tours. The kids need me home right now."

"I don't want you to blame me and think I don't value you and the job you do. I know how much you love your job and how important it is to you."

"I don't blame you. It's nobody's fault. It is what it is. And when it comes right down to it, the kids well being is more important than any job."

"Maybe you could explain it to Steph. She thinks I'm becoming like your father and I'm forcing you to stay home because that's your place."

Her brows rose. "Is that why she's been giving you attitude lately?"

He nodded. "Uh huh. She's worried about me denying you what makes you happy." He rubbed a hand over his face. "She said the family had finally found happiness again and she's afraid you staying home will make you miserable and will destroy that happiness."

Brianna sighed. "I'll talk to her."

The day before Jon left, Brianna was in the kitchen making cookies when Stephanie wandered in. Her eyes widened as she looked around. "Whoa! Jake's class having a bake sale or something?"

"No, I'm making extra cooking for Dad and the guys to take on the plane."

"I'm sure the uncles would rather take you with them. They know you're good at more than just baking cookies and that you deserve the freedom to do the job you love."

Wow! Jon wasn't kidding. Sliding a tray of dough balls into the oven, Brianna grabbed a couple of Coke's out of the fridge and motioned to the stools beside the island. "Let's sit down and talk." She waited for Stephanie to sit and handed her a can. "Your Dad isn't forcing me to stay home. It was my decision. Contrary to what you obviously think, he does recognize my abilities."

"He has a funny way of showing it. As soon as you get married he's running of on tour while you stay home."

"Steph, when you get married and have a family you'll find out very quickly that balancing work and family is not always easy, particularly with a job like your dads. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good."

"But you shouldn't always be the one making the sacrifice!"

"I'm not. Your dad gave up a lot of what he loves to do over the last couple years because it was what the family needed. When it came to the tour we had to weigh his needs, my needs and the needs of you and your brothers. And Steph, the needs of you and your brothers will always come first with me. You guys need me here more than your dad needs me with him or I need to tour."

"But you love touring." Stephanie argued. "You shouldn't have to give that up because of us! We can cope with Grandma and Grandpa or whoever you get to stay with us. It's not forever."

"No it's not. And it's not the last tour either. And that's why I chose to stay home this time. When Jake and Romeo are a little older we'll all feel more comfortable with me going on the road for weeks at a time."

Stephanie wasn't convinced. "It's not fair!"

"Maybe not, but that's life." Brianna tried to think of a way to make her understand. "Steph......a couple years ago I never thought I'd have a family of my own. The fact that you and your brothers have accepted me and opened your hearts to me to the point of actually wanting me with you means more to me than I can ever say. That acceptance, more than worth missing a tour or two. I would miss the time spent with you guys far more than I'll miss the tour." And that's how I need to look at it.


"Really." She reached over to hug the teenager. "Come on. Help me finish the cookies and decide what to have for dinner."


The next day, as they all stood outside to say goodbye to Jon, Stephanie gave her dad an extra tight hug. "Have a safe trip. I love you Daddy."

"I love you too sweetie."

 She leaned back to look at him. "I still think you should bring Bri an extra-special present."

Jon laughed and gave her a squeeze. "That's a good idea."

After hugging the other kids, Jon turned to Brianna. "Want me to bring you some saki?"

Brianna shuddered. "No thanks."

He grinned. "Not in the mood for a little Top Gun?" At her withering look, he chuckled and hugged her. "Thanks for sorting things out with Steph. I don't like it when she's mad at me."

"You're just a big softie." She stroked his cheek and kissed him.

"Just when it comes to my family. I love you."

"I love you too. Have a safe flight, call me when you get there and make sure you share the cookies with the guys."

He snorted. "They'll have to earn them first." he opened the car door. "Bye!"

"Bye!" They all waved until the car cleared the gates.

Entering the house after taking the kids to school, Brianna checked her phone again, then checked the house phone and frowned. Jon should have landed awhile ago, but he still hadn't called. She didn't know whether he'd just forgotten or if something had happened.

"Bina what wong?"

"Nothing," I hope. "I was just checking if Daddy had called." She clapped her hands together. "Okay Little Man, it's just you and me. What do you want to do?"

"Have cookies?"

Brianna chuckled. "Not until after lunch."

"Oh. Puzzle?"

"That we can do. Let's go pick one out."

They'd just settled on the living room floor with the chosen puzzle when Brianna's phone rang. Finally! "Hey honey. What happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"You should have landed a couple hours ago. Did you just forget to call or was there a problem?"

Jon scowled. "The assholes that I'm travelling with thought it would be funny to tell Japanese customs that there was no way I packed my own bag so they'd better search it. They questioned me for fifteen minutes, but didn't find anything. So they searched everyone's luggage. We just got to the hotel."

"Aren't you glad I made you watch me pack for you?"

"Yes dear." He sipped his wine. I miss you already. "Everything okay on your end?"

"Yeah. Romeo and I are just doing a puzzle." I miss you already.

They talked for the better part of an hour, neither one wanting to say goodbye. But finally Jon needed to get some sleep.

"I'll call you tomorrow after the interviews. I love you."

"I love you too. Bye."

Both stared at their phones and sighed. It was going to be a long tour.