Monday, April 25, 2011

Chapter Six: All Aboard

Devon's Journal:

Why is it every time I’m around that man I want to jump out of my skin? Yes he’s sexy, yes he’s charming, and holy hell good looking…but it’s not like I haven’t come across that before. Did I flip my lid when Jonathan’s La Crosse team came in and flirted up a storm with all the ladies in the clinic? No. I did not. 

Why him? I just don’t get it.

Jonathan’s right, I don’t go out enough but if only he knew why. I have made it my choice and I’m happy. I am happy. Of course I’m curious why Jon would want to go out with me? I’m sure he’s used to dating very high profiled people, well so it showed on Google.

This is either going to go very bad, or worse, I might actually enjoy it. 

Pineapple? He licked his lips and splashed on some cologne before he adjusted his watch. Is that why could he taste pineapple? The sweet tang of her lip gloss still burned on his lips. He snagged his coat, keys, wallet and phone and headed out the door. He pulled on a ball cap, slid on his shades and wiped the pad of his thumb across his lip and grinned.  He hadn’t intended to kiss her, but throwing her off her cute little axis had its perks.

The spring breeze lifted a few hairs on the back of his neck as he made his way down Mercer to her shop. The pavement was jammed with commuters as people pressed past him desperate to leave the working day behind. He pulled his ball cap down lower and dug his hands into his pockets, it was always a risk going out incognito but tonight rode on it.

Devon was different from the women he’d dated recently. She had an understated confidence he found fascinating. She didn’t try to be anything more than she was. So many people twisted their personality into something they thought he would find interesting, but not Devon. There was so much more to unravel out of her, and he looked forward to the challenge.

She was nervous around him and he was pretty sure it wasn’t because of who he was. She didn’t seem to be the type to get rattled by fame, so maybe it was the instant attraction between them?

Alluring—just like the name of her clinic—was the definition of Devon Scott. He wanted to be around her. It was no secret that she was pretty, a bundle of sweet and sexy with an innocence that leaked through at the strangest times. Tonight would be different, he didn’t usually go so casual on a first date but perhaps that’s where he’d been going wrong all along. Swanky restaurants with over-priced wine and food was the easy choice. While he admitted he enjoyed that scene under the right circumstances, it didn’t feel right for her.

What was her story? He was no stranger to New Zealand, but he didn’t run into all that many Kiwi’s in the heart of Soho. He jogged up her steps to the double green doors, frowning into darkened windows. He checked his watch. He was on time…had she changed her mind?

“Looking for someone?”

He turned and his frown disappeared. She was bundled in a charcoal coat with a candy-pink scarf around her neck that flapped in the breeze. Her dark jeans poured into knee high boots which gave her a few more inches.  “You look lovely. Where did you come from?”

She tucked her purse under her arm and grinned showing off small dimples in her cheeks he hadn’t noticed before. “I slipped out the back entrance after I locked up and set the alarm.”

Her scent was sweet but with a darker kick as he met her at the bottom of the stairs. Her chin tipped up and his gaze fell to her pink glossed lips. Would they taste like pineapple again? Her eyes were amazingly blue thanks to whatever female tricks she used with make-up. Her lips parted as he inched closer, but he stopped, checked his watch and looked over her shoulder as the town car he’d booked rolled up to the curb. “Right on time, I hope you don’t get sea sick.” His brow wiggled as he opened the door for her.

Her lashes lowered and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Uh, no I don’t. This isn’t an episode of friends where you’re going to fly me to Rome for pizza or something is it?” She climbed into the car. 

He laughed freely, ducking in behind her. “No, but I could ring my pilot if that’s where you want to go.” 

“Show off.” She flicked the lapel of his coat before she settled back. So maybe she did like touching him away from the safety of her shop?

“Anyway, the private jet is at least a third or fourth date kind of thing.” He settled back as they pulled into the heavy evening traffic.

She folded her hands on her knee and glanced out the window. “Show off and presumptuous.”

A fleet of private jets wouldn’t interest her and that’s why he’d chosen to go casual tonight. He wanted to relax and extend all the good work she’d done on him in the salon today.  Band commitments were coming up. He could taste the restlessness in himself and Richie. They were both itching to write and get back into the recording studio. Soon enough touring would take over, but for now he was happy just to cruise. He had a feeling some of that had to do with the woman beside him.

They made to the wharf without incident and a nice stream of small talk. He thanked the driver, stepped out and held his hand out for her. The air was cool and people streamed around them as they made their way through the transit center. Since she already had called him on being presumptuous—and maybe he was—he linked her hand in his as they made their way down to the ferries.

He paid for two tickets and tucked his wallet into the back pocket of his jeans. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken the ferry, let alone public transport in the city.  “You take the ferry a lot?” They boarded and he kept her hand in his and his head down. So far so good.

“Not a lot, I’m guilty for staying in my own patch too often.”

He liked the way she strung words together. He always got the gist of it, and always left him with a smile. They found a spot near the front away from the rest of the crowd that was spilling onto the boat. “Really? Haven’t been to Coney Island then?” Neither had he, only a handful of times when Steph and Jesse had been young. The sun was setting across the Hudson and the night sky loomed above them.

“No, admittedly, I haven’t. We’re going to an amusement park?”

The surprise on her face was worth it. “Disappointed?” There were her lips again. Why did he keep looking at them? Her mouth certainly was kissable and it had crossed his mind maybe one or three times in the car to take a long sip from it.

“Not at all, just unexpected.”

“Expect the unexpected.” He winked and leaned forward propping his elbows on the railing. This was going to be a fun night. If he could make her relax like she made him today, he’d bet that there was a lot to her he’d like. He just had to get there first.


The cool sea breeze against her face and the sound of water gently rolling away from the boat reminded her of home and summer evenings on the lake in her dad’s fishing boat. She had no interest in fishing but watching the simple pleasure it brought her father doing made the trips worth it.

Every summer they’d take the boat down to the lake, deep in Queenstown where the scenery never did the gift shop postcards justice. It was a time where their time stood still and her family took that time to enjoy each other away from the lives they were so heavily involved in.

Sadly the last couple of years before she left New Zealand they hadn’t made it to the lake and looking back in retrospect she knew it was her fault.


Her eyes snapped open and her cheeks flushed. “God, sorry.” She turned away and blinked, closed off the memory and smiled. “I forgot how much I missed the water.”

“You too huh?” He was stretched out over the railing with his ankles crossed. She’d been surprised and relieved when he’d showed up in a denim jacket, jeans and a pair of battered leather boots. She didn’t know how she’d face him in a power suit, he had enough god damn presence without one. The ball cap and glasses hid who he was from the world around him and she was surprised how simple and well that had worked.

What surprised her even more was the fact they were acting like any other New Yorker and taking a ferry out to a casual location. Again, she was relieved. Classy restaurants and red carpets really weren’t her scene. If she ever pursued anything more than a casual date with Jon she knew she’d have to deal with that eventually. But for now she was content to enjoy the normal guy in jeans…and yeah they were nice jeans, too.

“Oh yeah—I love being on the water. It makes me feel alive.”

“I know what you mean, I don’t do it nearly enough either.”

She took her cue and leaned forward against the railing next to him so they were shoulder to shoulder looking out onto the water. “You don’t own a private yacht, rock star?” She bit her lip but wasn’t quite able to hide her smile.

“Brat. I can honestly say no. I used to hire them with my family when we went on vacation in the Caribbean.”

She laughed, louder than she meant to and nudged him gently. “Of course you did. In the Caribbean.” She was teasing but she knew the memory meant as much to him as hers did. Her shoulders dropped and her stance eased, again surprised how relaxed she was becoming around him.

“Careful woman or you I won’t try and win you a toy.”

She smiled as he slid down his glasses and their eyes met and her heart thumped. It wasn’t a toy she was worried about him winning at all. “Well we can’t have that then. What kind of date would this be if you didn’t win me a toy?”

The glasses went back on and they both went back to staring out to the water. “Do you miss home, Devon?”
The lump caught in her throat briefly but she pushed through it. “Of course I do. But this is my home now. I love New York.”

“I’m kind of fond it of it myself.”

“Have you always lived here?”

“Close, grew up in Jersey. I moved to the city about ten years ago but we kept a home in Jersey as well. Dorothea still has that with the kids.”

“Do you see them often?” She knew it was a personal question but keeping him talking about himself was a good thing.

“Yeah—pretty much when I want to. We’ve got a good arrangement between us. I’m very lucky she’s like that.” The admission was more of respect than of love. She didn’t want the details of his marriage break-up and it wasn’t her place to ask either. Besides, that would be taking this whole casual thing way more seriously than it was meant to be. She would enjoy the night and then go back to her life at the clinic tomorrow.

“That’s really great. It’s nice when adults can really be adults.” And that was compliment for him, she wasn’t blind. She read the Entertainment Weekly occasionally and celebrity divorces were their favourite fodder.

“Yeah it is. We make it a point to remain civil for the kids.”

Devon glanced around her, they were still alone at the front of the ferry and inching closer to land on the other side. “How’s your back doing after I let Antonio loose on you?”

“Really good. I’m going to book in regularly with him. You’ll be pleased.”

“Of course, but more importantly I know he’ll be good for you. He’s among the best in the city.”

“It’s quite the business you run there. I was really impressed today. And I mean that, obvious attraction to the owner aside.”

She clasped her hands together, a warm glow of pride grew in her belly. “Thanks. It’s been a couple of years in the making, but I’m really proud of it.” It had been tougher than a lot of people knew. In the beginning she went without a lot to get that place off its feet.  Maybe that’s why she’d succeeded...she didn’t have a choice.

“You should be. I’ve already spoken to my mother tonight. She’s very excited to try you out. And believe me, if you pass that test, you’ll make more money than you know what to do with from her and her friends.” She laughed him off and he wagged a finger at her. “I’m not kidding. Her friends have spa days every week regardless of whether they need it or not.”

A bulb went off in her head and suddenly her belly started to tingle. “Do they always go to the spa in groups?”

“Oh yeah, they make days out of it. I mean it’s a nice place but I couldn’t imagine spending that much time there.”

“Damn. I’ve just had a brilliant idea.” She dug into her purse for the small notebook she carried and scrawled down a few points. “Shut up.” She popped the lid back on and slipped it all back into her purse. “I’m going to introduce spa days in groups. I could do different age-groups, hell even use occasions as different treatments for different reasons.” Her brain wouldn’t shut off. Immediately she shuffled different packages together in her head.

Jon laughed. “Oh, so now you owe me two dates. I’ve just made you even more money.”

“We’ll see.” She smiled thoughtfully. “We’ll see how big of toy you win me.” Her heart stumbled as his hand cupped her chin. God he wasn’t going to kiss her again was he? Worst thing was, she wanted him to. Her lips parted as he leaned in and she closed her eyes as his chin bumped hers. His lips hovered over her ear and his breath was hot against her skin.

“Oh I’m going to win something.” He backed away as the ferry docked. “We’re here. Now let’s go and have some fun.”

Her heart pounded and the blood rushed from her head. Oh God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chapter Five: And Then He Kissed Me

There was something between them or she wouldn’t have agreed to dinner. He stared at his skin in the mirror as he re-dressed. He hated to admit he was wrong, but already he looked more, well, alive as cliché as it may have sounded.

The massage had done wonders. She had hands of a goddess, and quite frankly he was interested to see what else they could do. She had a sweet self-confidence about her that drew people in. He'd been wrong before, and he wasn’t at all sure he could handle another awkward date where he had to pretend to be interested in what a woman had to say for three plus hours—but it didn’t feel like she would be that kind of date. 

She was clearly nervous about going out with him and he knew he came with a lot of baggage. What had worked well for him and Dorothea was being apart from each other for long periods of time. Was that a way to run a marriage? No, but it worked for them—until it simply didn’t. The times they were together became disjointed instead of a homecoming. It had been largely his fault for letting it get that way, and even now he wasn’t sure if he was ready to change. He’d dated some of New York’s elite women, but the problem was…he wasn’t sure what he was looking for.

He was used to being alone, and it was hard to fit anyone inside his schedule. Devon was the first woman to make him even want to try.

She really had done an outstanding job on him so far. He swiped a hand over his face. He wasn't a guy that did the treatments thing, but she’d made it a little too easy to become accustomed to. And that made her a smart woman, and possibly a dangerous one.

He did wonder why he hadn't heard of her before. SoHo was as incestuous as the Hamptons crowd. Even without his ear to the ground, he’d heard about the hot spots over various dinner conversations. His cheek, which had been cleansed, steamed, polished, and moisturized, felt softer than his son’s bottom when he was born.

He buckled himself up in time for her to knock on the door. "Lunch is ready."

"Lunch?" He didn't remember talking to her about lunch. He opened the door, and this time he noticed the way her apron cinched at her waist showing off her hourglass curves.

"Feel better? Look at this?" She stepped forward, dragging the pads of her first two fingers over his chin. “What a difference.”
He wondered if she would be this forthcoming on their date tonight. He liked to touch and under the right circumstances liked to be on the receiving end even more. "I look like I actually got twelve hours of sleep, instead of the rolled-right-out-of-bed-after-four-hours-and-slapped-soap-and-water-on-my-face look."

She shut her eyes tightly. "Dear, God, if that's what you wash your face with, I'll die."
He winced and laughed. "I'll try and do better." He leaned against the door frame. He had to admit he enjoyed towering over her. "If you promise to personally stock my medicine cabinet."

All female and sweet candy scent—she'd reapplied that distracting gloss to her lips leaving them tempting enough to kiss. Her gaze locked with his and he inched closer. One more step and he could taste her. Her eyes were wide and he swore he could hear her heart pounding.

"So, you were saying something about lunch?" He eased back and deserved a medal for doing so. 

She cleared her throat, smoothing the already perfect fold of her apron. "Right…yes,” she cleared her throat, “it's included in your package since you’re here all day. I ordered in some salads and fresh fruit.” Her chin lifted and her demeanour slid back into business. “I'd also request that you didn't smoke until the end of the day. Just so your whole body is detoxed. There is also some organic-iced tea in there."

"Sounds good." He was surprised to actually be telling the truth. He was actually relaxed and not fiending for a smoke. Flicking the end of her apron strings, he grinned. "Are you joining me?"

"Ah, no. I have other things to see to while you do that and then I'll shape your hair up a bit before your acupuncture." 

She was backing away again, but he had tonight to turn things around. Maybe she'd relax away from her shop, or maybe she'd squirm a little more. She seemed fine when she was the one initiating any contact, but it when he did it she quickly grew edgy and he decided he kind of liked that.

"I’m in your hands." She led him around the back to a sunny kitchen area with double green doors like the ones at the front of the shop, except these opened up into a small courtyard. "Nice.” Japanese maples and bamboo plants scattered around a simple water feature in the middle. “This is prime real estate. The lease can't be cheap," he mused, admiring the simple Zen garden.

"We get by."

Like pulling teeth. She had to be in her mid-thirties and to be running a salon like this in the middle of Soho would have taken some serious cash to set up. Perhaps Mom and Dad helped, or perhaps she worked her ass off to get where she did. He wouldn’t know because the woman wouldn’t talk about herself. Another thing that both intrigued and bothered him. He was used to women hold up most of the conversation.

"And you live upstairs? That's smart." He really did like her set-up. She utilized all of her space well. Her utilities would be covered by the business, and she could write off the tax as part of her business. Very smart actually. 

"It's  handy. I've done most of the work myself, it but it still needs a little more.” Before he could draw more out of her they came to a sturdy table. “And here is your lunch. This is the staff area, so you may see people from time to time. Don't worry they're all very professional."

His brow shot up at the extensive platter of cut fruit and antipasto. "All for me?" He reached for a wedge of melon. "You always let clients in your workers area?"

She chuckled. "Only the ones that wouldn't appreciate being out in the main area on display. I hope this is okay."

"More than okay. I’m happy to stay out of the way." He needed to check his phone, it never stopped buzzing these days.

"Help yourself, but remember to relax.” She nodded to his cell already in his palm. “I'll be back in about thirty minutes to collect you."

He sat down, stretching out his legs. The sun filtered into the alcove and for he ignored his phone and enjoyed the peace and quiet.


Devon's heart raced as she rushed back to the clinic, sliding behind the reception desk. She scanned through the appointments, but couldn’t process a word. All she kept seeing was his mouth so close to her own. A few more inches...God, she couldn’t even think about what would have happened if he’d closed the distance. Yup, she’d officially lost her mind agreeing to go out with him. Why was she so jumpy?

She'd kept herself anchored for years with her eye on the success of her shop. One day around Jon was like throwing herself into the spin cycle of a washing machine.

"How's lover boy?"

She jumped slapping a hand to her chest. "Oh God, Jonathan!"

He rubbed her shoulder. "Relax love, what's going on?"

She gnawed on her lip nervously. "I've done something and now I'm not sure it's such a good idea."

He clapped his hands together excitedly. "You're having dinner with him aren't you?"

She hated that he had sixth sense when it came to her. "How do you know that?"

"Because your naturally poised, calm self is about to jump out of your skin."

"I am not!" She cupped her face in her hands. "Ok, so I am. I don't know why."

Jonathan grabbed her wrists. "Because you like him and you're trying desperately not to."

Was she that obvious? She did like him, but it didn’t mean it was a good idea to date him. She didn’t put herself out there for a reason. But the secret woman inside her wanted out. She’d locked that part of her life away for a long time. Consuming herself with the clinic had worked for so long—maybe too long.

Most days the business was enough, more than enough. But even she had to admit sitting with accounts every night was getting to be a bit much. What if she enjoyed him too much? Her version of reality was much easier to live with.

“I should never have agreed to it, Jonathan.”

“Nonsense. You deserve to have fun. Now, more importantly, what are you going to wear? And your hair?”

"What about my hair?" She fingered the ends. She'd make it tidy and gloss herself up a bit. What if he expected more? No, she wasn't going to let a casual dinner spiral out of control.

"Relax.” He shook her hands. “We’ll just give you a little sparkle. Where are you going? That's what's important."

"I don't know. Just somewhere for dinner. I don't know if it's such a good idea now." She picked up a pen, tapping it against her appointment book. 

He flattened his palm over her twitching hand until the pen laid flat in the binding. "Stop it. You're going to go on this date and you're going to enjoy it."

"Did someone say date?" Kelly, one of her chief stylists dropped her glasses down her nose. "Get out of town! You're actually going on a date!"

"Shhh! Jesus...God, Kels. It's just a casual date."

Jonathan grabbed Kelly's wrist. "A casual date? I suppose you could call having dinner with Jon Bon Jovi casual, sure."

Devon winced as they both screeched like a couple of teenagers. God love them they were rallying around her like friends did and they meant the best. "Guys shhh. Jesus!" They were getting a few questionable looks from the clients. She took a deep breath, then one more for good measure. "We're going to remain calm here. Jonathan, I'll be fine. Kels, you’ve got client. This is still a business."

Kelly nodded and tucked back a flaming red curl from her face. "Right, remain calm."

"Devs, why is Jon Bon Jovi on our patio?" Emma bounced in blonde curls dancing around her face. 

Kel pushed her glasses back up her face. "He's here now?"

"Yes, he's having some work done, and you've all just confirmed that was the right decision the way you're all carrying on. We are going to be professional like I promised him."

Emma elbowed Kelly. "Yeah, professional until after hours." They both giggled and Devon rolled her eyes. She was never going to win.

"Oh, stop. Can't you see we're upsetting poor Devon." Jonathan put his arm around her shoulders.

"Why thank you Jona-"

"I bet she'll give him a good polish later," He said with a wink.

Her face burned. "Out! Everybody out! This conversation is over." They dissolved into giggles and disappeared. That was her family, she blew out another calming breath. She was going to do this, even if she had to throw up five times before she got out the door with him.

She checked her watch and walked back to collect Jon. He was busy talking on his phone. Kicked back in the chair, his thigh muscles filling his battered jeans. Best not to go there. Resolutely, she stacked dishes, bringing them back into the kitchen and setting them in the sink.


She looked up. He leaned against the doorframe, folded his arms, one ankle crossed across his calf. He looked more relaxed than before he started the day. That alone was a victory. She dried her hands on the handtowel. "Hey, yourself. Is your back okay from the massage table?"

He shrugged. "It's a little tender, but nothing your guy can’t manage."

She smiled and checked her watch. "He’ll be ready for you, I’ll take you through."
He stepped back in the doorframe so she had to squeeze past to show him the way. He cupped her elbow and trapped her, took a step forward and pressed his lips against hers.

Barely a second later, he was back in the garden.

"Um..." Her fingers touched her lips and she frowned, fighting for something resembling words. Say something, god say anything!

"The back guy?" He rolled his bottom lip behind his teeth and that was the only shred of reaction he had.

Maybe kissing a woman was as natural as a smile to him. Maybe she was so far out of her league that she should cancel right then and there. Instead, she heard herself mimic his words. "Back guy.” She shook her head lightly. Pull yourself together. “Of course, right this way."

She stepped out in the hall, not sure if him walking behind her was such a good idea. Would he grab her again? Kiss her again? Her heart leaped at the thought. It was then that she realized one small kiss was far from enough. She wanted to kiss him again.

She was so screwed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chapter Four: If at first if you don’t succeed…

Jon remembered having saunas, when he had allergies, congestion or a cold and that they did have some calming properties. He slid onto the wooden slat bench and rested his head back against the wall. He spied the controls she had explained and he flipped through the choices until he found an Eagles album and hit play.  Her scent of cotton candy swirled around him and through the billow of steam around him he could see her heavy lidded blue eyes in his head.

There was something about her, she had to be a little younger but there was something different, intriguing about her. Something he wanted to figure out. Jon dealt with most things in his life like that, if he didn't know it or didn't understand it he'd work it out and if it was worth keeping, worth pursuing, he'd hold onto it. She had a fresh vibe about her; maybe it was the foreign thing. He liked people’s stories and was keen to know how a young Kiwi girl ended up owning prime real estate in Soho, there had to be a story in that. Perhaps an inspiring one.

He was betting a girl like Devon knew how to have a good time, when he wasn’t asking her out she had a nice ease about her, especially when she smiled or laughed.

Each wall was lined with clean white tiles that sparkled under the steam and the floor was heated with big square terracotta tiles. He remembered arguing with Dot about the tiles for their new bathroom a few years ago. He wanted the very same style tiles but she had other plans and who was he to argue when he hadn't given a fuck about how she'd decorated the rest of the house without any of his input.

Another thing to chalk up on the how-to-kill-a-marriage checklist.

The bands around his chest grew tight as the steam puffed around him but he felt refreshed as the sweat tracked down his body. The twitch in his fingers faded away and his shoulders dropped while Don Henley sang about being Fabulous. Maybe there was something to these routines after all. He let himself slide into a steamy coma making sure that he kept topping himself up with water. When the red light blinked on he stood up gingerly and adjusted his towel.

"Jon, you might want to just have a cool shower, to your left is a small shower booth, and when you're done pop back out."

He quickly turned around but realized she was on an intercom not that having her inside the steamy room would be a bad thing. "Thanks." He did as he was instructed and had a quick shower washing the excess sweat away. He had to admit he felt fresh and light, more than he had in a long time as he ruffled his hair dry before re-wrapping the towel back around his waist and walking out.

She smiled and held her arm out to an open door.  "Feel good?"

"Yeah, I'm surprised actually." Jon blinked as he entered the private suite. It wasn't a big room, a little bigger than a single bedroom but was set up with a massage table, a lazy boy and a long wooden counter of a variety of products and potions. "Wow. How many of these rooms do you have?" Women must get off on this sort of pampering.

"Eight. I use four of them mainly as part of my business but I have a few external consultants that rent out the rooms to."

He nodded. "Smart." White Pillar candles flickered on the ends of the counter tops and she had the Stones playing in the background. The decor was simple with navy and white being the headline colours. He wondered if this was the man's suite as there were no flowers or water features like he'd spotted in the main salon. Blue and white towels were stacked neatly in the corner and there was a small bar fridge underneath it.

"Just pop up on the bed and lie on your tummy. Drape the sheet around your waist and throw that towel in the corner over there. I've give you a few moments to get comfortable and I'll be back." She grinned and slipped out of the room leaving only her sweet scent lingering. He picked up one of the bottles and examined it, there were piles of them! God knows what they all did and on second thoughts he didn't want to know. He got himself comfortable on the bed and lay flat on his tummy and bought his arms up tucked his hands under his face. 

"Right, excellent. Now just relax and I'm going to work a little more with your back. I won't focus too much on the deep tissue massage, as I don't want to shift anything else or cause you any pain."

Ok. Relax. That wasn't something he really did all that often and it didn't bother him. He usually relaxed one month out of the entire year and he was good with that. Since the divorce things had changed a little and he knew it. But like anything he just dealt with it as it came. No big deal. He was aware of her walking around him, popping caps or whatever she was doing. That damn sweet scent of her was back, candy apples…cotton candy?

"Ok here goes Jon, try and relax."

"I will...oh God." He groaned as her hands glided up the centre of his back and circled out over his shoulder blades.

"Feel good huh?"

Good was an understatement and like he said before, she had magic hands, hands that were meant for touching. He shifted on the table thinking about that possibility. He mumbled into his hands. "So good."

She chuckled and her hands slid up around his shoulders. His muscles melted like butter under her hands and his body sank into the bed. She certainly had a gift for it. He couldn't remember the last time he had a proper massage, he'd had plenty of back adjustments but as for massages as sensual as this, nope. God, he couldn't even remember the last time Dot and he even did this to each other. And then he went there. If this is what Devon could do under a professional manner, he wouldn't mind getting to know what she could do with those hands in the bedroom.


Damn, had to go there huh?


There was no doubt that Jon was physically attractive, he had a body most men his age would pay for. And now, she was touching it. The appreciative groans and low growls he made could have twisted her up in knots if she let it, but nope he was her client that was all. He had to be. She'd read about Jon over the years, that all women turned to mush around him and ok, they probably did with Brad Pitt too.

His back blades were tense and she could feel the pressure release as she soothed it down his spine and out to the tip of his buttocks. That was another thing, his ass. Although she'd seen it well enough in jeans to believe that it was perfectly perfect. In a towel, it really was. She glided her hands just below the seam of the towel digging in a little more to put the pressure on the lower back. The best part about this massage was she could avoid those piercing sea-blue eyes that knocked her off her axis. She had complete control and she liked it.

He groaned and stretched as she worked down his arms, another testament of rigorous hours at the gym she thought as she glided over his biceps.  Think of something, god think of anything that wasn't involving touching him. She remembered as she stroked, kneaded, and rubbed the tension away, that she had Kelly's bridal shower to get out of. It wouldn't hurt her to get out of it and Kelly was one of her hardest workers and sweetest girls but damn, she wasn't a party-kind of girl. She always was making excuses, always running but honestly she was happy. Hand on her heart happy? Maybe not but for the most part she was and she had her little circle and her clients to look forward to every-day. 

"Feeling relaxed?"

"Sooo relaxed." He mumbled into the headrest. She squirted some lavender oil on her palms and rubbed that in deep in his lower back for the next ten minutes. She imagined a rock-star's life certainly wasn't all that it was cracked up to be at times and probably was stressful with all those people always wanting your attention, ick. She swept her hands around his shoulder, up his neck and then down over his buttocks before declaring he was done.

"All done, I'll give you a minute. When you're ready just roll over and use the robe hanging up and lie back in that lazy boy, and I'll be back soon with the next step of the program." She grabbed a wad of tissues and slipped out of the room and into her staff quarters where she washed her hands and tidied herself up. She straightened her hair and tied a new apron around her waist. 

She gave him a few minutes and slipped back into the room. He was sprawled comfortably in the recliner glugging down a bottle of water she'd left out for him.
"How do you feel?"

He smiled easily. "Like a big marshmallow. I feel good."

She turned to the small basin and filled up the bowl with warm water. "That's what I like to hear. Now just lie back and this part won't hurt a bit." Her business was on display here and she would damn make sure he got the best experience ever.

"I bet that's what you say to all the boys."

God, was he ever not going to flirt with her? She'd be lying if she was denying that there was no heat between them but it had been so long since she'd been sizzled and she was pretty sure being sizzled by Jon was a bad idea. She turned and placed the bowl down and winked. "Only the ones that think they’re getting a vasectomy instead of a facial.”

His brow lifted and she turned away from him, her cheeks burned. Holy crap, she did NOT just say that out loud?

He chuckled. "Oh, I definitely like you."
She took a deep breath and hoped that the pound of her heart couldn't actually be heard outside her body. "Well I am likeable person. I can't deny that." 

"So have dinner with me?"

She picked up the cleanser and squirted a little in her hands. "You don't give up easily huh?"

She stepped on the foot pedal which slowly retracted him back.

"You're about to take my manhood away, it's the least you could do." His eyes sparkled with mischief and she laughed as she hovered over him.

"I'm not taking anything away from you. Now close your eyes." She smoothed the cleanser up over his cheek bones using her fingertips in a gentle circular motion. "You'll look so well and rested by the time I'm done with you, women will be flocking around you." She paused and swirled it over his forehead. "Although I am sure you don't have any issues getting women."

His brow lifted and the corners of his mouth twitched. "Does that make you jealous?"

"You wish." She smiled, again relieved that with his eyes closed and all that damn intensity blocked off from her she was a little more relaxed around him, well almost. 

"Maybe I do."

Ok so he had a cute fun side, she could see that. He might not be all that scary to date but there was still the whole he was far too famous for her. She was sure woman would jump at the chance to be on his arm, hell even just for the exposure it would give them. It would be smart marketing for her, there was absolutely no denying that but she wasn't that desperate for business.

She had to play to the client, just a little. It’s what they were all trained to do. “Where would you take me if I agreed?” She reached for the sponge in the bowl and squeezed the water out of it before sweeping it across his face to absorb the cleanser. 

His lips pressed together and then parted. "Somewhere quiet, maybe down by the river, I know a few holes in the wall that people wouldn't think to look."

She raised a brow. "Don't you have stalkers? Sorry I didn't meant like that. I mean the press?"

He nodded, "Yeah I do. The press in New York not so much, they know I live here and so do far more exciting celebrities with scandals. It's really not that bad here in the city. They won't find us if that's what you're worried about." 

She ignored the question and pat-dried his face with one of the hand towels and then started with the scrub. "This is an apricot-oatmeal scrub."

"Sounds like something I should be having for breakfast."

She giggled, a little looser than she expected. "It's good for your pores." He kept his eyes closed as she massaged it in gently. 


"So, what?" she asked as she kneaded it in deep.

"Dinner. Tomorrow eight o'clock."

She steadied her hands and the adrenaline raced inside of her. Was she even actually considering this? God, she hadn't done anything this reckless in-god in so long. As that's what dating a man like Jon had to be, reckless. But it could be exciting. For the love - be sensible. "I really am flattered Jon, but I really don't think you'd find me all that interesting." 

"I’ll decide that on my own and besides, your accent is too cute for you not to be interesting."

She bit on her bottom lip and paused.

"My mother would love this place and all her high society friends, she was mentioning how unhappy she was with her regular place..."

"You are a liar Mr Bongiovi."

His chuckle vibrated against her wrist as she cleaned off the scrub. "Ok I am. I freely admit it, she's not unhappy but I'm serious all I'd have to do is put in a good word."

God. Now she couldn't let it go. Why was it getting harder to say no to him each time he asked? Was she secretly longing to go and have some fun, maybe just once?

“Jon, I don’t date my clients.” Ha! There was a new rule she was about to enforce.

“My mother has a lot of influence around these parts. They go to the salon every week Devon, every week.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

Doing quick math in her head Devon calculated clients like that could pay off the outstanding equipment and get her the extensions a lot of earlier.” She rolled her lip under her teeth. So she’d have to go out and eat with him and then come home, would it really be that bad? Once?

Screw the new rule. "Ok. But it has to be tonight." Eight o'clock." The sooner the better, then she couldn’t change her mind.

His smile spread wide. "Excellent. See that wasn't hard after all was it? Now who is the liar, you aren't busy tonight at all."

Dammit. "Well it is a girl’s prerogative to do that until she's figured out if the man in question is trustworthy of her company."

"Ah touché. I'll give you that one. Shall I pick you up from here?"

"Yes, that would be fine. Just a casual dinner somewhere quiet right?"

He nodded. "Right."

She blew out her breath and reached for the toner and her belly somersaulted. She was crazy to even go here and considering she just made a date with a man who spent the whole time talking her into this convincing with his eyes closed. She had a feeling she was in some serious trouble. Oh god. What the hell had she done?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chapter Three: Will she? Won't she?

Why on earth would he ask me out to dinner? She leaned forward and swiped gloss on her lips. Every time she’d thought about it last night her cheeks burned. She just didn’t get it.

Did he go around asking any pretty girl out? Duh, he’s a rock star maybe that’s just what he did. She pressed her lips together, humming under her breath as she snapped the cap on her lip-gloss. A little boogie in her step, she slid into her shoes.

Signs of life bustled from underneath her. Jonathan usually beat her to the clinic most mornings. That suited her just fine, especially when a hot cup of her favourite coffee greeted her the moment she walked in. Opening early also meant they could grab a slice of the early morning commuters as they breezed in for coffee on their way into the city.

She ran a brush through her hair and smiled. Her life was pretty good and the business was steadily doing better each quarter. Not that it stopped her from looking for ways to expand and re-invent her business to keep it fresh.

What the hell was the tune she was humming?

You’ve got to hold on… to what you’ve got…doesn’t make a difference if you make it or not…

“Oh crap!” She slapped the hairbrush into her palm. And there she was, back to Jon. She couldn’t discount his influence on her business. The word of mouth alone could put her on the map. But being asked out to dinner by him? It was just too unreal. Oh, he was handsome—Mercy, he was beautiful, flaws and all—but she wasn’t his type.

She didn’t socialize in his circles.

She didn’t socialize outside her shop, and that’s the way she preferred it. It was safer on the all around. But she couldn’t discount what a man like Jon could do for her business. And that’s all it would be—for the good of the business. No matter how utterly perfectly perfect he looked.

And now you’re singing his songs.

She collected a bottle of water, her keys, and closed down her laptop. How old was Jon anyway? He had to be in his late forties. Why did that even matter? It wasn’t like she was going to date him. He was probably looking for an easy lay. It was what rock stars did, right?

There probably wasn’t much substance beneath those character lines on his face. Oh, he probably had an amazing body under the battered leather and denim, but that’s all it was...pretty packaging, a flirty personality, and an orgasm if she was lucky. She would put her hands on him, do her job and walk away with a client list to die for.

Keep your eye on the prize.

She glanced out at the concrete jungle of New York City, and as always she was stunned how different it was from her beloved Christchurch.

The moment she’d seen her shop, she’d felt the first stirrings of home in too many years to count. She’d leased not only the shop space, but the building itself. Originally used for storage, she’d transformed it into a loft apartment for herself.

From the mezzanine floor that flowed out of her bedroom and spiralled down the staircase to the steel framed railing brushed to a high sheen, she’d lovingly created every corner of her living space.

She smoothed her hand down the white washed banister, taking in the birds-eye-view of her front door, fire escape, and the street below. Like her shop, the colours were neutral creams for the walls with a deliberate splash of red, blue, or pink in a piece of furniture or art.

The transition had been as brutal as the learning curve. It had been a lot of lonely nights filled with one project after another. She missed home, but she had to believe where she was now was the best thing for her. She’d made her choice a long time ago.

She made her way downstairs, locking up before she cut through the internal access to the shop—another bonus about the place. She slid her cell phone, keys, and purse under the reception counter and started when Jonathan popped his head up and grinned. “Good morning, lovely.”

"Morning yourself sunshine. Java is just seconds away." 

It was a steady day and she was tied up with Jon for the bulk of it. Bugger. "You're a saint, Jono. Wow.” she flipped through the book and scanned the appointments before looking up at her assistant. “Busy day, huh?"

Jonathan handed her mug and picked up his own. "Very. I noticed you've blocked yourself out all day. Need a break?"

“I wish. No, I’ve booked in a VIP client for the day. He came in late last night for some acupuncture and I upgraded him for a bunch of treatments.” She sighed appreciatively as the hazelnut took the edge off the bitterness of the coffee.

“Ohhh, do tell.” Jonathan loaded the sterilizer with a pile of eyelash curlers, tweezers, and other assorted beauty tools.

"Well, you’ve heard of Jon Bon Jovi, right?”

He spun around, "I knew it! That man doesn’t look half his age for a reason. So what have you got him in for? And who did we steal him away from?”

"The all-day deluxe special.”

His brow lifted and he nodded approvingly. "That’s great. I’m sure life catches up with him once and awhile and…” He paused for a second, one long finger tapping on his mug. “I think he's a father of four as well."

"Oh?" God did she sound interested? 

"Don't worry, love, he's got the celebrity diploma. Dee-vorce," he said in a sing-song voice.

"Well, I did wonder why—" she stopped when Jonathan raised a brow. She sighed. "He tried to bribe me into going to dinner with him as a trade for business."

Jonathan laughed. "Oh man! Going out with Jon Bon Jovi for the good of the business." He clutched his chest. "How will we ever repay you?"

"He won't. I'm not going. I declined." Was she stupid to decline just one dinner though? No, she’d give him excellent service today so he’d have tell his friends about her shop. And she wouldn’t even need to go out to dinner with him to cinch the deal.

"Wow, really? Just dinner? Not interested in the quintessential rock-star?"

She twisted her ring. "Uh, no I’m not." Jon was so public and she was so...well, not. 

"Devon, honey, he's just a guy. Would it really hurt you to go out with a real guy instead of being locked up like Rapunzel in her castle every night?"

Devon smiled and fingered the ends of her bob cut. "I have hardly the hair to be Rapunzel." He had a point. It wasn’t normal to be locked away from the world, but it was the life she chose, whether she wanted it or not was another question altogether.

"Look." He came over to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "You're gorgeous, Dev, and you're wasting away in here instead of feasting on a whole world of eligible men and opportunity out there. Believe me."
She truly did love Jonathan but it was hard for him to understand. Hell, it was hard for anyone to understand why she didn’t go out too often. "Thank you." He was just looking out for her like he had so many times before.

"I could pretty you up just right so that you say: I’m classy but if you want more you'll have to work for it." He winked and flashed a smile.

She burst out laughing. "Thank you, but no. There won't be any dates with Mr. Bon Jovi in the near future." Even if every time she thought about him something clawed inside her belly.
He snapped on some gloves and filled up the bottles of hair solution by the basins. "Ok, the offer is still there. Who would have thought, my Devon being asked out by a rock star?"

She shook her head and made sure Jonathan was too busy before she brought up Google on the computer and plugged his name in. OK, so she was a little curious after all. She didn't know anything about the guy except he was in a band. Maybe he was one of those sex addicts, or just liked to play with women’s heads? Or maybe he was going through a mid-life crisis?
Shut up Devon.

Would just one date really be so bad? Her heart gave a hard knock when tabloids pictures came up first thing. Speculation behind his divorce, of his picture-perfect marriage, of his sex life…

“Great,” she muttered and clicked on a link dated just last week. It was a very good thing she'd declined. The last she needed right now was a great big spotlight on her. She clutched her belly as it rolled. Good God, there was no way she could do this.

"Are you ok?"

Her gaze flicked up to a warm blue eyes and a broad grin that shot straight to her knees.

"I'm early, but I figured I'd come and try some of your coffee." He thumbed behind him to the coffee counter. 

"Uh, sure." She quickly clicked the big red X and smoothed down her apron. Her cheeks could stop burning any time.

He was dressed casually, in camo pants and flip flops and a tight black v-neck tee. His hair was mussed, fresh from the shower she assumed, and of course he smelled amazing.

Damn, this was going to be harder than she thought. She needed to stop acting like one of his groupies and fast. She took a deep breath and smiled. “Whew, I thought I double booked someone but it’s all sorted.”

Nice save.

He leaned forward, his elbows propped on the counter. His eyes as mesmerizing as a hypnotist. "So, are you going to make me some coffee?"
Dammit, why did he throw her off centre so easily? "Sure, what would you like?" She walked out and around the booking area, smoothing down her apron. She slipped behind the large granite counter complimented with a handful of matching barstools. He followed her and slid onto one of the chairs.

"I'll have a latte. Better make it non-fat." He patted his stomach and grinned again. 

She managed a small smile and cranked the machine into gear. Like he needed to worry about his weight. The snug tee was distracting enough. She needed to concentrate on his coffee and not how great his ass looked even in baggy camo pants.

If he’d stop staring at her, that would be a great start.

She steamed the milk, thankful for the noisy squeal of the frothing machine to break the tension. Unnerved, she tried to ignore his eyes on her as she went through the steps she’d done a thousand times. She felt clumsy and stupid. She banged the jug on the counter-top to settle the bubbles and then poured his latte into a cup.
"One skinny latte. I'd offer you something to eat, but I'm putting you in the steam room shortly so I'll need you to stick to water after this.”

His brow lifted. "Steam room?"

She picked up a cloth and wiped up her mess. "Uh-huh. I need your body cleansed before I start on the rest of you."

She bit her lip as he shifted on the stool. Now who was feeling intimidated? Ok, so it wasn't quite the same—not by a long shot—but she was taking the small win.

"I didn't bring any—I mean...” He cleared his throat. “Do I have to go in..."

She raised her brow and grinned. "Naked, yes. But don't worry it's all private in there. It even has a change area before you come back out. You can lock the door from the inside." She was a glutton for punishment as she considered it in her mind for even a second.

He lifted his cup to his lips, took a sip, the smirk half shielded. "Alone, naked? That's a pity."
Dammit, he'd done it again. She turned away from him just as Jonathan came over to them. 

"You must be Jon, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jonathan. I'm Devon's assistant manager." He held his hand out to Jon and he shook it. She envied Jonathan sometimes. He had all the confidence in the world. She did, in the right situations, but with Jonathan…nothing fazed him. 

"Nice to meet you Jonathan, I'm Jon."

"You're in the best hands, Jon. Devon will take good care of you."

Jon took another sip. "Oh, I'm counting on her hands." 

Oh yeah, he was good.

If she had the guts she’d go all out on the girly treatments just to make him squirm, but she didn’t. "Ok, finished? You might as well get into that steam room so I can set up your private area where we’ll be doing the remainder of the treatments.”

His face relaxed and he set down his cup. "That would be great. Thank you, I appreciate that." 
She had many clients that preferred the privacy. "Now, because this is your first visit—and the first of many of course." She grinned cheekily. "What would you like in your room so I can prepare it? I'd usually have these details in your client file."

"Wow, the rock-star treatment. My very own rider?"

"Well yes, I guess it's a little like that. We have teas, coffee, waters, juice, and various healthy snacks all at our disposal. And if you take that brochure you can pick a play list for the day from our music." She handed him one of the many brochures she had lined up at the main reception desk. "It's all about customization."

He took the brochure and nodded approvingly. "I'm impressed, Devon. You know, my friends that I mentioned—they would love this place.”

"There’s nothing to stop you from telling them, now is there?" She knew she just opened herself up for it, but she was at least prepared this time. 

"I know a great Italian place..." he mused. 

She shook her head and poised herself. "We'll just let the results speak for themselves."

"Now that’s sort of confidence I like."

"If you'd follow me, I'll get you started." The floor space stretched out all around her and she'd put it to good use. Tanning bed booths, a half a dozen private beauty consult rooms equipped with a bed and all the latest equipment from wax warming appliances to facial steamers. She'd leased most of the equipment at first, but slowly and surely she was replacing leased with her own.

"Just pop in here. Everything is in there for you, water, and towels. Make sure you drink both of those bottles of water. The whole point is to flush out the toxins in your system." Devon reached around flicked the light on. "And here are the music controls, there is a call button in the actual steam room if you need assistance or feel woozy." She let him walk in and cautiously looked around as he popped his knuckles.

"You're ok with small spaces?" She lowered her voice.

He nodded. "Not my favourite, but I'll be fine."

"Ok, I'll see you in thirty minutes then." She clicked the door behind him and took a deep breath. She made her way her way back to the reception and smiled as some her stylists came in for the day. She picked up her coffee and took a long sip. What the hell was it about him? He wasn't creepy. Christ, far from it, but when his eyes were on her she turned into a puddle.


She looked up at Jonathan grinning. "Yeah?"

He leaned in over the counter. "Are you a wee bit flustered, darlin'?"

Her eyes widened, damn him for being able to read her. "No, I--I just want everything to go perfectly."

"Right. So that's why you've flicked the hell out of that tab on your coffee lid." 

Her eyes narrowed as she looked down to her lid. "Don't you have work to do?"

"This is my work. Supporting the boss. So where is he taking you to dinner?"

Her belly bottomed out again. “We’re not doing dinner. He’s going to be dazzled by my brilliant skills and tell his friends anyway. That’s the plan.” And she always had a plan, no matter what the situation was.

Jonathan sighed. "Devon, honey. You're young, attractive and lovely. I worry about you more because you don't go out."

His smile was comforting and she knew that he was just trying to make her feel better as he always did. Sometime she didn't deserve it but she made sure she always looked after him in his job. “I’m fine, truly. He’s just not my type.”

Jonathan shuffled some papers and collected his apron. “And that’s why you left two pages of Google open with him splashed across it.” He winked as he walked off.

“What? I closed that---dammit!” She sipped her coffee and rolled back on her heels. She wasn’t interested, she just wasn’t. Perhaps the more she kept repeating it the more she’d actually believe it.

Will you share her secret?