Silence, then... “Hello to you too angel.”
She blew out a breath and reigned in her temper. “Sorry. Hi honey. How are you?”
“Better than you apparently. What’s going on?”
“I’m trying to get everything organized for Peanut’s birthday party tomorrow.” She glanced up at the shelf with the Thomas the Train decorations she’d bought a few weeks earlier. “Why do I put everything I need on the top fricken shelf?”
“Because we have an inquisitive toddler who gets into everything within reach.”
“But I can’t reach it either, so what good is that? And my six foot tall reaching tool isn’t here to help me.”
“Did you just call me a tool?”
“Well you are very handy to have around.”
“Mmmhmm. You better not be standing on a chair, angel.” He knew his wife.
Tori eyed the stool. “No, I’m not standing on a chair.” A stool was not a chair.
At that moment, Cathy stuck her head into the room, took in the situation in a single glance and approached. Shaking a warning finger at Tori, she stepped onto the stool and handed down the decorations.
“Cathy got them for me.”
“Good.” He paused. “Angel, don’t wear yourself out over this. He’s three. He’ll be happy with a new toy, some cake and ice cream.” And maybe if he kept telling himself that, he’d stop feeling guilty for not being there.
“I want him to have a really special day.”
“I know you do. Just remember that you need to look after yourself right now too. You are a fantastic mother, but you’re not Superwoman – no matter what your brother tries to convince everyone is in your bloodlines.”
“Ha. Ha.” Tori couldn’t stifle a yawn.
“Didn’t you sleep well?”
“Not really. Your youngest daughter decided that she didn’t want to sleep.”
“What’s the matter with her?”
“Nothing. She didn’t cry, she just wouldn’t go to sleep. She wanted to play. Mom says I used to do the same thing.”
“Ah, so it’s a Bongiovi trait. Can’t blame me for that one.”
She blew him a raspberry. “Well Peanut’s non-stop talking for an hour last night – and singing some song he made up – must be a Sambora trait.”
“Yeah, that one’s on me.” Richie chuckled. “But seriously angel, promise me you’ll take care of yourself.”
“I am. I promise.”
He knew her too well to swallow that easily, but he had other ways of ensuring her health. “Do you want me to bring you anything from Europe?”
“Yes! When you get to Amsterdam will you pick me up some double salted black licorice please?”
“Double salted? Seriously?”
“Yes. Look for the words double zoute. It’s really good.” She licked her lips.
“Oookaaaay. If you say so.” He shuddered at the thought. “I’ll call tomorrow to say happy birthday to Peanut.”
“Good. About the same time as now would be great if you could.”
“That should work. We’ve got some interviews to do, but they should be done by then.”
“Okay. Have a good show and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Love you.”
“Love you too angel.” Richie hung up and stared at his phone for several minutes, deep in thought. Glancing at his watch, he dialled another number. “Hi Gail it’s Richie.”
“Hi Richie! Aren’t you in Europe? What’s up?”
“Yeah, I’m in Vienna at the moment. I need a favour if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Sure, what do you need?”
“You’re going to Stevie’s birthday party tomorrow right?”
“Can you keep an eye on my wife and let me know how she’s really doing?”
Gail didn’t need to ask why he felt he couldn’t trust Tori to tell him the truth. “No problem. I knoow hard early pregnancy is on her, and with Stevie and Lauren this one’s probably worse....and I know how stubborn she is. I’ll make sure she doesn’t over do it.”
“Thanks. What about taking her on a girls’ day to the spa? My treat. Tell her it’s part of my birthday present to her.”
“If I put it that way, it might work. That sounds like a great idea. I’ll set it up and surprise her.”
“Perfect. Thanks Gail. I owe you one.”
“I’ll remember that when I need some music for my next project.”
“You got it.”
The day before Tori’s birthday, Gail arrived at the door early in the morning. “Grab your bathing suit and flip flops and let’s go.”
“What are you talking about? Go where?”
“Spa day for your birthday.”
“Oh, Gail, that sounds great, but I can’t do it today. The kids....”
“It’s all arranged. Rosa and Cathy are going to look after the kids.”
“No buts. This is part of your birthday present from your husband. Since he can’t be here to make sure you relax and take care of yourself, he’s found another way to help.”
Tori sighed, but knew she couldn’t get out of it...and deep down she really didn’t want to. The thought of being pampered and massaged and buffed sounded like just what she needed. The idea that her husband was concerned and trying to look out for her brought tears to her eyes. “Okay. Give me a minute.”
Lying on lounges beside each other between treatments, Gail turned to her friend. “That was some birthday party. Where’d you get that train piñata?”
“Rosa’s son made it. Wasn’t that great?”
“It was fantastic!” She paused. “Can I ask you something?”
“I’m not criticizing you – you’re a fantastic mother, but.....why do you feel the need to go all out like that? Especially when I know you’re tired and dealing with morning sickness and hormones. Why put yourself through that?”
“Because I wanted him to have a really nice day.”
“I get that, but he’s three. He wouldn’t have noticed if there weren’t any streamers or balloons or piñatas. There’s got to be more to it than that.”
Tori hesitated, then told her what she hadn’t told anyone – even Richie. Karin understood without being told. “
“I have to have a purpose in life...to feel useful and needed. What else do I have to do? I have a cook and a gardener and help with the cleaning. Since my cousin Joseph’s company took over the merchandizing for Jovi, and they’ve hired a company to look after the fan club, all I have to do there is a few token requests for my opinion. And Richie doesn’t have much going on outside the band these days, so there’s not much for me to do on the personal assistant front either.” She shrugged. “I guess you could say that being a mother is my job now.”
“And you have to do your job to the best of your ability, going above and beyond on special occasions.” Gail had heard worse ways of avoiding boredom.
“Something like that.” She smiled and rubbed her rounded stomach. “But I’d want to do it anyway. I want to ensure my children are as happy as possible.”
“Like I said, you’re a fantastic mother.”
“I can’t believe you’re having another one so soon though.”
“Neither can I.” Tori responded wryly.
They sat and sipped their water and enjoyed the sun for a few minutes.
“So what are your plans for the Fourth?”
“I’m flying with the kids to New Jersey. They guys will be returning from Europe and my family is coming down from Canada.”
“Wow. That’ll be quite the crowd.”
“Yeah. That’s why Jon and Dot are hosting it. They’re the only ones with enough room! The kids and I are going to stay with Dot for a few weeks and visit with the family while the guys finish the tour.”
“You’re flying by yourself with the kids?” That would be a handful.
“That was the original plan. Ava will be there to help, so it wouldn’t be too bad. But my brother Tony called a few weeks ago. He’s changed his plans and is coming with us.”
“Changed his plans or had them changed for him?” Gail had heard enough stories about the Bongiovi clan to get an idea how they worked.
“He’s saying that his work schedule changed and he figured he might as well travel with me. But it’s strange that the change came right after my pregnancy was announced to the family.” Tori rolled her eyes. “They all think I’m too stupid to figure out what they’re doing.”
“They’re just looking out for you.”
“They’re treating me like a child that can’t be trusted to take care of herself or her children!”
“No, well maybe a little, but mostly they’re treating you like a precious, cherished part of their family.” Gail raised her glass and sipped. “You might as well quit letting it upset you. They’re Italian and they’re men...they can’t help it. And it’s not going to stop.” She smirked. “Make Tony carry the luggage.”
“Hmpf! If he wants to play protector, I’ll make him carry me!”