While he packed, they talked and played with the kids. Richie shot glances at his wife. Something wasn’t quite right. Oh she laughed and talked like she always did, but there was something.....an aura of sadness surrounding her...that wasn’t normal. Sure they felt the separations, but they were used to them. She actually looked like she was on the verge of tears! He hoped it was just her hormones and not something more serious.
Tori felt a sudden wave of emotion and jumped up. “Your shaving case. I’ll get it.” In the bathroom she took a moment to scold her reflection in the mirror. Stop it! This isn’t the first time he’s had to leave and it won’t be the last. You’re a fan as well as his wife and understood his lifestyle before you married him. And since when did you cry about something like this? It’s not as if he’s leaving forever! Get a hold of yourself! Damn hormones....STOP IT!
Richie frowned and followed her into the bathroom. “Angel? What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay?”
She managed a wry smile, although her lips were pressed into a thin line. “I feel fine.” She shrugged. “It’s just....hormones. I’m sorry.”
This could go two ways, depending on what he said, and the edge in her voice warned him to be careful. If he pushed her to tell him what she was feeling she might think he thought she was weak or clingy...or nuts...and get pissed...or she could burst into tears. On the other hand, if he downplayed it she might think he didn’t care or was sloughing it off and....same result. Face it man, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Deciding a non-response was best, he simply wrapped his arms around her and held her. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She tilted her head back to look at him – or more to the point, his lips. “Is it nap time yet?”
Richie gave a low chuckle and dropped a kiss on her lips. “Not yet. Soon angel.”
Tori sighed and leaned her forehead on his chest. “What am I going to do while you’re gone? You know what the hormones do to me at this stage.”
He rested his chin on her head and rubbed her arms. “There are ways to see to your needs, even when I’m not here. You know what Shirley would say.”
“Phone sex.” They said the words in unison and laughed.
After a few moments silence, he took a chance. “Angel....the other day....when you were....upset...” He stuttered, trying to choose his words carefully. “I know you didn’t mean....but...there’s usually a grain of truth...” A slender finger on his lips halted his words.
“I don’t....resent you being away when you’re on tour, really I don’t. I miss you, but I’m a fan and I understand and accept the demands of your job.”
“But nothing, I’m fine.”
“Richie I’m fine.”
“Come on Tori, we don’t do this, remember? Talk to me.”
She still hesitated, but he was right. After their near disaster they’d promised each other that they would be completely open and honest. “If anything, I guess I feel....left out...sometimes. I remember what it was like on the road, and sometimes I.....miss it – not the living out of a suitcase and constantly being on the move – but the adventures and the camaraderie and the laughs and the shows...”
“Maybe a little.” She allowed. “Sometimes – especially when you tell me about some stunt Shirley pulled or some new spot you guys found – and I’m here with the kids...” she sighed and shrugged. “I feel a little envious. But I love our children and wouldn’t want to be away from them.” She gave herself a mental shake. “Ignore me. Hormones are making me feel a little sorry for myself.” She kissed him. “Go and do your thing and make the fans scream. And don’t let Shirley talk you into doing anything that will get you into trouble.”
“He stopped that when he hooked up with Charlie. You narc on him and he’s in the spare room.”
“I do not ‘narc’ on him! I talk to my best friend about a stupid stunt my husband pulled...at the urging of one of his best friends. The fact that my friend happens to be his wife – who then has a...discussion... with her husband regarding his behaviour is just a bonus.”
“Glad I’m smart enough to stay on your good side.” He smirked at her raised eyebrow. “You’re a Bongiovi....you’re scary when you’re crossed.” He sobered. “But seriously angel, anytime you want to come out, all you have to do is say the word. Rosa and Cathy will look after the kids – or we can hire a nanny – or you can bring them with you or any combination you feel most comfortable with.” He searched her gaze. “I just want you to be as happy as you make me and I’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
The tears started again. “Thank you and you do. I’m fine honey, really.”
“Daddy! ‘Oren pulling out your shirts!”
“I swear that child can’t be left alone for a second!” Tori pulled out of his arms. “She must get that from you.”
Richie watched her leave the bathroom to rescue his shirts, sighed and followed her. Dealing with a Bongiovi was never easy. They lived so much in their own heads it wasn’t always easy to figure out what was going on. On the other hand, it was never boring either.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you to the airport?” Tori asked again as Richie carried his suitcases down the stairs.
“No, stay here with the kids. I’ll take a towncar.” He crouched down to Stevie’s level to give him a hug. “See ya later Peanut. I love you.”
“Bye Daddy. You tome home soon?”
“Three weeks. Mommy will help you count it on the calendar.” Rising he took Lauren from her mother. “See ya Sweetpea. I love you.” He kissed her cheek and gave her a squeeze before setting her down beside her brother. Reaching out he carefully enfolded Tori in his arms.
She winced, but didn’t protest, and didn’t move away. In fact, she clung. “Have fun and break a leg. I’ll miss you. I love you.”
“I’ll miss you too angel. Make sure you take care of yourself. Call me when you need to.” He captured her lips and kissed her...thoroughly....deeply. When it ended he brushed his lips over her ear. “When the....hunger...gets to be too much, look in my bedside table drawer. I left you a little something that should help.” Leaning back he met her eyes and winked. “Call me if you need any help. Love you.”
“Goof!” She slapped his shoulder lightly.
He kissed them all once more and was gone.
Tori waved him off, shut the door and sighed. It was going to be a long three weeks.
A couple hours later the phone rang. Tori glanced at the display and smiled. David must have left to meet the guys. The girls had an agreement. When the band was on tour and the men came home on a break, the girls didn’t call each other and disturb family time.
“Hey there! How are you feeling?”
“Nauseous, bloated, irritable and wonderful. How are you?” Karin replied.
Tori was tempted to tell her, but she couldn’t make Richie wait and then tell her own best friend. So she settled on part of the truth. “Tired and a little sad.”
“Kids still sick?”
“No, they seem to be over it. I haven’t quite recovered as quickly. How did Passover go?”
“Crazy as usual around here. Flo and Michelle came for dinner and cooked – thank God! I’m learning, but I haven’t quite got the Seder recipes down yet. Then on Sunday my goofball of a husband and stepson dressed up in rabbit costumes and ran – or rather hopped – around the backyard dropping chocolate eggs. Then they came inside and hopped around the main floor, stopping every few feet to.....shit jellybeans!”
“You realize you’re going to give birth to a Marx brother.” Tori chuckled at the groan that came down the line. “So how did the ultrasound go?”
“The doctor says everything looks good and I’m on track for delivery around the end of October.”
“Hallowe’en. How appropriate.”
“So now for the million dollar question. How many munchkins are you adding to the Lollipop Guild?”
“Well, if the rest of them are anything to judge by, that’ll keep you plenty busy.”
“That’s an understatement! I don’t know how you deal with three!”
“I have Rosa and Cathy. Plus I’m only married to Dean, not Jerry.”
“But yours have the Bongiovi temper to go with it.”