Richie had a car waiting for them downstairs and his bodyguard was waiting close by. Raoul followed behind the small group doing a visual sweep of the lobby to make sure Sarah and Jesse got through without any problems.
Settled in the car, Sarah asked, “Where are we going anyway?”
“A place called MaggieMoo’s. I’ve taken Ava there and I think Jesse will love it. There’s some children’s shops nearby as well and a playground.”
“Sounds really nice,” said Becca. “Maybe I can pick up a few things for Garrett. He’s outgrown everything.”
“Stop letting him be a pig like his father,” teased Sarah.
“Can’t help it. He loves to eat.”
“Uncle Richie, is there a toy store near by too?”
“Sure is and they’ve got the coolest collection of Barbies.”
“Cool! Mama, can we go there?”
“Jesse, you’ve got enough Barbies….you don’t even play with all of them. All you do is strip them of their clothes and leave them in the nudist colony.”
That got a snicker from Richie and Becca but Jesse just rolled her eyes and said, “I want a SPECIAL Barbie and Ken.”
“What do you want?”
“Ones that I can dress up like rock stars….like you and Uncle Richie.”
“Come on, Mom! How can you resist that?” prodded Richie with a smile.
Sarah made a face at him and then turned back to her daughter. “We’ll see.”
The rest of the ride, Jesse entertained Richie with stories about school and the youth center. Richie gave her his undivided attention as Sarah and Becca looked on.
Becca whispered, “He’s really good with her.”
“He does have his own daughter, you know.”
“Yeah, I do.” Becca hesitated, then continued, “You don’t think he’s trying to get to you through Jesse, do you?”
“Don’t tell me you’re buying into Nick’s nonsense that Richie is moving in on me.”
Becca hesitated, looking from Richie to her best friend, before saying, “Nick’s not completely stupid you know.”
“I don’t believe you!” huffed Sarah wishing now that she hadn’t asked Becca to come along. She looked at Richie who happened to look up at the same time and their eyes met. He flashed a smile and winked at her before turning his attention back to Jesse and she felt herself melt on the inside.
Reaching the ice cream shop, Richie took Jesse’s hand and led the way inside. Sarah walked behind so that she could watch her daughter dancing around him happily and her mind started to wander. Before she got too deep into the fantasy though, Becca elbowed her.
“Something tells me you aren’t thinking about Howie.”
Sarah blushed as she said, “No, I wasn’t. What’s wrong with a fantasy or two? God knows you have them about Jon all the time.”
“Nothing’s wrong with a fantasy but YOUR fantasies tend to get you in trouble.”
Sarah shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t see it as trouble anymore.”
“If you and Howie were still…..you know….would you?”
“In a New York minute and enjoy the hell out of it but it’ll never happen.” Sarah stopped outside the shop and turned to her best friend. “Becca, I have liked Bon Jovi…and Richie….forever. I’m still in shock that they have stepped in to help me with my career. It’s just one more dream that Howie, my wonderful husband, helped make come true.”
“But what if Richie IS trying to make a move on you?”
“Richie is happily married to Heather and he has NEVER done anything to indicate that he wanted anything more than a friendship. Look, yes, he’s gorgeous and yes, I would LOVE to know what it’s like to be with him but neither one of us is going to do anything to ruin what we have. Now let’s go inside.”
Sarah left Becca standing and joined Richie and Jesse at the counter.
“You can have anything you want, Jesse,” said Richie.
“DON’T tell her that,” scolded Sarah.
“Why not?” asked Richie as he looked down at Sarah standing beside him.
“Because she’ll get a scoop of everything.”
“That’s fine,” smiled Richie. “What do you want?”
Sarah’s mind was NOT on ice cream as he put his hand on her back to move her to the counter. She managed to say, “I just started looking the menu over.”
“Get whatever you want, my treat. Becca, you too,” said Richie as she joined them.
“Thank you.” Becca stood on the opposite side of Sarah and hissed in her ear, “You need to focus on the fact that your daughter is with you and she picks up on stuff like this.”
“Would you give it a rest? She isn’t going to realize anything because there’s nothing going on.” Sarah pulled away from Becca and moved to stand with Jesse at the counter. “Baby, you can have a one-scoop cone or two scoops with add ins in a cup.”
“But Mama...Uncle Richie said I could have whatever I wanted,” pouted Jesse.
“Uncle Richie doesn’t have to deal with you and the sugar high either. Now, you can do as I tell you or get nothing at all.”
“Yes ma’am,” conceded Jesse knowing Sarah meant what she said. “I’ll have two scoops of vanilla with oreos, please.”
Richie was now standing behind Sarah and nudged her. “You can order next.”
Sarah shook her head, “I don’t know what I want. I LOVE the hot fudge brownie but I also like sundaes. Why don’t you go ahead while I try to decide?”
Richie looked over everything they had and said, “I’m gonna build my own sundae…” and he proceded to tell the girl who was waiting on him what he wanted.
Sarah watched as it got bigger and bigger with each new add-in. “Richie! How is the world are you going to eat all that?”
He laughed, “It is kind of big. Wanna share?”
She looked at it again and said, “Why not? I like everything you’ve put on it.”
“You want anything to drink with it?”
“A bottle of water.”
Richie ordered two bottles of water and paid for everyone’s ice cream as the others found a booth in a corner. The two bodyguards found a place close enough to be available if necessary but still giving them their privacy.
As they all began to enjoy their ice cream, Richie asked, “Are you nervous about doing the show this week?”
Sarah shrugged, “Sorta, but not because I’m gonna be on TV. I’m more nervous about doing some of the group’s hits.”
“No need to be nervous. Just pretend you’re in your room on the bed,” shot Becca. She FINALLY had a chance to get even with Sarah for all the times she’d been embarrassed by Sarah’s revelations of what she did in private.
you so much, Becca,” blushed Sarah.
Richie laughed, “So you like to sing our stuff in your room?”
“Yes, but you were NOT supposed to know that. I’m just worried about screwing up a Bon Jovi hit in front of Bon Jovi fans. It’s not exactly at the top of my ‘to do’ list, ya know?”
“You aren’t gonna screw up, Mama,” piped up Jesse. “You’re gonna be fabulous.”
“Thank you, Jess.”
“What exactly are you doing on the show?” asked Becca.
“The show puts two acts from different genres of music together. We’ll do some of our stuff and some of Sarah’s and Jon and Sarah will take turns doing lead.”
“What about a band for her?”
“Jon and I have already gotten the ball rolling on that. Howie and Kevin talked to us shortly after Sarah gave birth and told us what they had in mind but asked them to let us handle it.”
“Why?” asked Sarah in shock that so much had been discussed about her career that she didn’t know about.
an amazing singer but until you get out from the shadow of the Backstreet Boys,
you’re not going to be as big as you could be.”
”But I’ve never been worried about all that. I enjoy singing.”
“I know and Howie said it too but it’s a shame NOT to let you shine.”
about her next CD?” asked Becca.
”It’ll be recorded on our label.”
Jesse spoke up, “Mama, I’m done. Can I go play?”
“Richie and I aren’t done yet.”
“We can’t go just yet. You’ll have to wait.”
Richie nudged Jesse. “I’ll bet if you ask my bodyguard, he’ll go with you.”
Jesse shook her head vehemently ‘no’.
“Then ask Raoul,” suggested Sarah. Seeing Becca was done as well, she added, “Or Aunt Becca.”
When Jesse looked at her, Becca said, “Ask Raoul.”
That made Jesse a little happier but before she got down, she sat up on her knees to hug Richie and give him a kiss. “Thank you for the ice cream, Uncle Richie.”
“You’re very welcome.”
As Jesse scurried off, Becca said, “Think you two can behave while I run to the little girl’s room?”
“Sure ‘Mom’. We wont’ get naked on the table….just a little heavy petting,” shot Sarah sarcastically.
“Cute, very cute,” retorted Becca irritably.
they were alone, Sarah quickly moved to side beside Richie.
”What was THAT all about?”
“Long story short….Nick thinks you’re moving in on me and Becca is starting to buy into it.”
Richie laughed, “Oh, that’s really good.”
“Wanna mess with them?”
“You mean make them think they’re right?”
“Sounds like fun.”
“I need to tell Howie so he doesn’t get ticked.”
“How far do you want to go with it?”
“Nothing obscene. I have to remember that Jesse is with us,” answered Sarah as she pulled out her phone. She quickly sent Howie a text and was putting her phone away when Becca rejoined them.
Richie had seen Becca coming and was ready. Holding one of the cherries by the stem, he held it up for Sarah and asked, “Want my cherry?”
“Shouldn’t I be offering you mine?” leered Sarah as Becca sat down.
“Thanks for the news flash, Captain Obvious,” snarked Sarah as she took the other cherry out of the ice cream and held it for Richie.
Becca watched in utter disbelief as the two ate the cherries the other was holding. Then asked, “Why did you move?”
Leaning against Richie, Sarah got a spoonful of the sweet treat and put it in her mouth. As soon as she’d finished, she said, “Easier to get to the ice cream.”
Sarah’s cell phone rang and Becca recognized the ring tone. “Perfect timing. You DO remember your HUSBAND, don’t you?”
“Of course! I sent him a picture of the banana split,” answered Sarah as she pulled out her phone. She flipped it open to read the message; Richie read over her shoulder.
“I should have sent him a picture of that disgusting display a minute ago,” shot Becca.
“Howie said to tell you not to ruin my diet TOO much,” laughed Sarah.
“Tell him I’ll be glad to work if off you,” and he winked at Sarah.
With Richie’s arm around her, Sarah sent another text to Howie. When she was done, she put her phone down and went back to eating.
Becca continued to watch, her indignation growing with each passing moment. The couple managed to polish off the banana split with plenty of sexual innuendos as they fed each other spoonfuls of the sweet treat. She hadn’t wanted to believe Nick but evidently, he’d seen more than she realized….or knew Richie extremely well.
"God, I’m FULL,” exclaimed Sarah pushing the bowl away from her.
“For a little thing, you sure can eat a lot,” remarked Richie. “You ate more than I did.”
“Sorry,” apologized Sarah.
“We need to go,” insisted Becca. “I’m sure Howie needs help with the twins.”
“Nah, his last text said everything was fine. Besides, I want to do some shopping for the kids.”
“I thought you wanted to shop for your little boy,” reminded Richie as he played with Sarah’s hair.
“It can wait.”
“I’m not gonna wait. Let’s go check on Jesse. I’m sure she’s tried Raoul’s patience to no end by now.”
The threesome got up and as Richie cleaned up the table, Becca pulled Sarah towards the door.
“I can’t believe you!”
“You were shameless the way you flirted with him.”
“I didn’t flirt with him. We were just enjoying the banana split.”
“Uh huh….and what about all those innuendoes?”
“You must be imagining things, Becca.”
Richie joined the two putting his hands on Sarah’s shoulders. “Everything okay?”
“Fine, just fine,” simpered Becca, sickening sweetness dripping from her words.
“I see Jesse now.”
The three adults, followed by Richie’s bodyguard, made their way to the playground where Jesse had made friends with two girls about her age. Several mothers recognized Richie and joined the little group to ask for autographs.
For the next two hours, Becca watched as Richie and Sarah shopped with Jesse. They went to the toy store, the pet store, and several clothing stores. They’d laugh, whisper to each other, hold hands, or simply touch. To anyone who didn’t know them, they would have assumed that they were a couple but she knew better. She’d even sent Nick several text messages and pictures and he said they’d talk later.
Chapter 103 Index