Saturday, September 29, 2012

Epilogue: Kingdom of Days

Every bone in his body ached as the car turned down into the village. He was home, it had been a long year on the road with trips back home in between but he was done. This tour had been brutally long but equally rewarding.

They had dealt with his injury, Richie’s drinking problem had come back to bite them in the ass again, and Matt’s back had been playing up. But in the middle of it all Devon had been his rock. Between her commitments to Lush, her new beauty salon and school, and the tour that never ended she still found time to make multiple trips out to see him.

Her new business had exceeded any of their expectations. She had a two year waiting list for students and it had boosted the profile of her New York Salon in the process. He was proud as hell of her. He may have given her the seed money, but she’d brought it all to life. Many young women and men had benefited from her training program and her role as teacher suited her down to the ground. Just like he’d known it would.

Life was good and he couldn't wait to see her and enjoy the normalcy of being home every day with her. He’d missed her more than he had been prepared for which made this homecoming stand out more than all the rest.

“Home sir?”

He shook his head. “No, drop me at the salon.”

He had to see his girl. It had been a month since he’d seen her and the last time had been barely twenty four hours. He'd been worried about leaving her alone so much, and he was surprised how well she'd adjusted to his crazy schedule. He envied her ability to juggle it all and still make everything look easy. And keep her sense of humour and ability to tease him throughout.

Jet lag dragged at him. The long flight home from Australia was catching up with him. He lifted his bags and grinned at the gaily hung Christmas decorations from the outside. The whip of the wind felt even colder after Australia’s baking heat as snow crunched under his feet. He was home.

“Hey Dad!”

“Hey Steph.” He lifted her off the ground and wrapped his arms around her. “I’ve missed you.”

“I didn't think we’d see you until tomorrow.”

“We got away a little earlier than scheduled. Where's Devon?”

Stephanie grinned. “She’s in the back playing with stock. It’s all we’d let her do.”

Jon snorted. “And I bet that she just loved that.”

“You know Devon, she’s tireless. I have to hold her down to make her rest. Reminds me of someone else I know.” She grinned wickedly.

Jon scratched his head and glanced to the back corridor. “She has been resting, though?”

“Yes Dad, she has.”

He followed the long corridors out back to the storage room where he heard familiar music playing that reminded him of his youth. She was playing the New Jersey album. He stopped at the door way and grinned as she came into view.

The tight black dress showed off her curves and accentuated the ever growing bump in her belly.

“Cool band, I heard the lead singer is a bit of a spunk.” He used her slang and her eyes shot up and her jaw dropped. She nearly dropped the tablet she was using and burst into tears.

“Oh baby.” He rushed to her side and pulled her in tight until she laughed and his anxiety eased.

“Hormone tears, huh?” He teased as he tipped her head up and kissed her gently. His hand slid down and over her belly and he closed his eyes as he enjoyed her warmth. When she’d told him she was pregnant after the European leg of the tour he’d almost burst. He smiled as her belly fluttered under his hand.

“Daddy’s home.” She whispered between kisses.

“You have no idea how good it is to be home. You all OK?” She’d kept him updated
daily but he knew it wasn't the same as being here.

“I am good, just stupid hormones.” She grabbed a wad of tissues. “God, you look so tired.” She ran her fingertips around his eyes.

“Gee thanks, babe."

She rolled her eyes.

"You look good.” She was glowing.

“You’re just being nice. I’m fat and ridiculous.”

He tipped his head back and laughed. “C’mere.” He hauled her in, her sweet scent was one more thing he missed. It was a long way from stale airplane air, cigarettes and men he was around all tour. It was the smell of home. Her baby bump nudged him in his belly as she snuggled in under his chin.

“Are you really OK? You haven’t been over doing it? You forget, I know you.”

“How can I? You've got spies everywhere I go. I hope you paid them well for that.” She mumbled against his neck as she nosed in his hair and he groaned as her fingers forked through his hair against his scalp.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Of course you don’t.” Her finger drilled into his chest. “I know you too well, husband to be.”

He chuckled. “We’re gonna have to do something about that aren't we?”

They had intended to marry during the year but things had spun out of control with the tour and her salon so they’d both agreed to do with once their daughter was born.

“We are. How’s your leg doing?”

He stretched it out and rolled his foot around. “Nearly as good as new, see?”

“Good. Come with me.” She led him into one of the empty salon rooms down the back of the building and he raised his eyebrows.

“Nookie time?”

“Nope. Lie down in the chair.”

He did as he was told and she raised the chair with a button and reclined it back.

“What are you doing?”

“Relax. I know you don’t do it often but try.” She smoothed her hand over his forehead and his body sank into the chair. Her touch was always so calming.

“ OK I’ll try - but what are you going to do to me.”

“Just give you a peel.”

“A peel? But-oh-whatever.” He was too tired to fight her and honestly had missed the way she fussed over him.

She laughed. “Good boy. So this wedding...” Her fingertips smoothed over a cool lotion over his face and he popped his knuckles. “I have an idea or three.”

“Do you just? What is that smell?” It reminded him of something his mother used to have in the garden.

“Lavender and Rosemary oil. Your skin is so dry, all that travelling huh?”

“Yeah. You know how it goes. I did keep up with your routine with what you gave me though.” Before he’d left for each leg of the tour she’d packed his skincare regimen. He’d protested but it had turned out she knew what she was talking about.

“Good. God, I have missed you.”

He took her hand and squeezed it. “Me too but look at you. Business is booming, you read the latest figures that Mike sent through right? As I expected the publicity here would make your New York salon sky rocket in profit.”

“I did. Jonathan is so pleased. He’s doing me proud. Turns out you do know a little about business after all.” She teased as she gently wiped away the oil with a hot sponge.

He beamed. “ You've seen my bank account baby. How could you ever doubt me?”

“Show off.”

“You know it.”

She applied a cool gel that made his skin tingle and he lay there and tried to enjoy it. It was always was hard to switch off and make the transition back to normal life. From months of hauling his bag through airports, sound checks, hotels to coming home and being stationary. He was a long seasoned veteran at this life though and it made him always appreciate the people that he had waiting at home for him.

And it had been a long time since he was actually happy to be home. Years of disconnect with Dorothea had made homecomings difficult, so much so he’d wished he was back on the road again. He loved the road and he loved what he did, especially now that he had Devon to come home to.

He was a blessed man.

“Next week is Christmas...” he began again as she smoothed away late nights and grueling schedules.

“Yes are you ready for the madness of your family? I have us booked in on several family gatherings I’ll have you know.”

He groaned. “Can’t we just elope somewhere?”

“Ha! I suggested that months ago and you said no no, Christmas is all about family.”

The smile played on his lips. “I did.” She massaged in some moisturizer around his temples and then dusted off her hands.

“All done.”

He sat up and grinned as her face was inches from his.

“What?” She asked suspiciously. “What is that look for?”

“I wasn't going to tell you but your pretty face makes it hard for me to keep secrets from you. I’m flying your parents over next week.”

She dropped her cloths and her eyes widened. “What? They told me they were off to Nelson for Christmas!”

“They lied.” He said smugly.

He knew it meant the world to her, he’d watched them rekindle their relationship over phone and email and she’d never asked for him to do anything. From his own experiences with parenthood having your mother there for your first baby was something women cherished. Even if Patti and his own mother had been supportive nothing was ever the same as your own.

“Shut up! Dammit!” She stole some tissues from the box as he drew her in.

“Good surprise?”

“The best.” She said as she kissed him hard on the lips and wound her arms tightly around his neck. “You are getting the good sex tonight.” She laughed against his ear and his cock jumped. No pay per view and crisp hotel sheets could ever replace the touch of his fiance.

“You’re up for that?” He asked hopefully not knowing what to expect with a pregnant woman loaded with hormones.

“Uh huh.”

He nestled her in close and nipped at her chin. “If we didn't have responsibilities I’d whisk you away somewhere where I could take advantage of you for a week.”

She laughed and both of her hands ran down the back of his head. “That’s called new year’s.”

He cocked a brow. “I like how you think.”

“My parents will be here.”

He smirked. “They’re staying for four months honey.”

Her eyes widened. “What? Dammit.”

He chuckled as tears rolled down her cheeks and he wiped them away.

“So at the end of the four months you can be like every other daughter and say thank god they’re gone.”

She laughed. “Mum must be so excited.”

“She’s only called me twice a day for the last two weeks.”

Devon hugged him tight. “You really are the best.”

Jon shrugged. “I could be, but it would be rude not to get married while they’re here.” He pre-empted the reaction and grabbed a wad of tissues and handed them to her. "I figured we could honeymoon in New Zealand as well. I met some fans outside the hotel that gave me that suggestion." Devon couldn't make it down on the tour with with him with her pregnancy in the last trimester and he'd knew it had hit her hard.

"Since when do you take suggestions from fans?" She teased.

"When they tell me to. I told them I'm used to bossy Kiwi women though." He winked.

“Everything is pretty perfect huh?” He asked her but she shook her head.

“No, it’s perfectly perfect.”

The End.

Thank you all so much again, I was so overwhelmed with the comments from the ending. Muah! Awesome. I'm going to miss these two a lot. Hopefully I'll be back soon to make more mayhem and I'll let you know as soon as I am.

Kia Kaha,

Oh and PPS this chapter was named after this gorgeous song, as this is Devon & Jon's Kingdom of Days.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chapter Eighty-One: If I Should Fall Behind...

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me in charge of this place.” Jonathan exclaimed as he pulled her in by the shoulders and hugged her tightly.

“You’ll be great.”

“Man, you are just coming in leaps and bounds since all that crap went down.”

She smiled and shrugged. “I bounced back but it was only because I had good people in my life. Like you. Seriously thank you Jonathan for sticking with me, you’ve been so good to me since we’ve known each other.”

“Oh stop-this is not a goodbye, you’re just leaving your baby with me and starting a new one. I’ll be ringing you every day and I expect to be invited to the mansion.”

She laughed. “Of course you will and soon once we get in there and sorted we’ll have you guys over for dinner.”

“You better. Ohh I’m so happy for you Devon.”

She checked her watch. “Me too - I need to go and get ready we’re heading to some benefit concert Bruce is doing tonight.”

Jonathan snorted. “Of course you are. Welcome to your new life.”

“They are truly kind people. I wouldn’t have done all this without them as well. I know that.” She collected her folder and keys. “So we’ll talk tomorrow and start getting some ideas what we could convert my loft into above the shop, maybe some extra tanning booths?”

“I have a list of ideas so yes, let’s do coffee tomorrow and talk. Maybe downtown?”


She closed the door to Allure behind her and smiled as she walked back to the penthouse along the cobblestones. Sometimes it was still a dream that this was all happening. Five years ago she was trapped in a relationship that sent her down a spiral of disaster only to come out here at the other side with more than she could ever dream possible.

The doorman tipped his hat to her as she walked into Mercer Street. So much was happening, they’d signed for the space in Redbank and it was being fitted for purpose for her salon and the beauty school next door. She’d already had several meetings with Jon’s lawyer and their new business manager Jon had worked with for years.

It was coming together perfectly as well as her planned move to Redbank into Jon’s house. They’d told the kids and Dorothea last night and it had been received better than she thought considering she was moving into the home where they had all once been a family.

Stephanie had already begged her for a job in the salon when it opened and she’d compromised with Jon that she could in the holidays. Hell, Jesse even wanted to help out when he could so things were really coming together. She felt like she was exactly where she needed to be.

She quickly showered. Jon would pick her up within half an hour as he had been recording downtown. She was excited about seeing Bruce perform tonight and it was a good excuse to dress up. She wore a clingy teal dress that showed off enough leg to be classy and paired it with pearled siver strappy sandals. She teased her hair a little and let it flow out over her shoulders.

The phone in the apartment rang and it was downstairs advising Jon was ready for her with the car. She pinned in two diamond earrings and grabbed her purse. She jumped when she swung open the door to the lobby and Jon was standing there with a bunch of blue gerberas.

“Jesus!” She exclaimed as her heart raced in her chest. “I thought you were downstairs.”

“Wow.” Jon wolf-whistled as his eyes ran over her. “You look amazing. Appropriate.”

“Are they for me?” She asked innocently fluttering her eyelashes as she leaned forward to smell the flowers.

“They might be.”

“They’re gorgeous.”

“Ditto.” He smirked as he leaned in to kiss her. The spicy smell of his cologne drifted over her a she reached up and slid her fingers up the v of his chest through the soft downy hair. The kiss went from sweet to smoking in minutes.

“If that’s how I’m going to get greeted for throwing on a pretty dress. Consider it done.” She joked.

He growled as she stood back and wiggled his eyebrows. “Deal. Now come on we’re going to be late.” He followed her to the kitchen so she could pop the flowers into a vase.

“Where is this thing anyway?”

“At the Apollo. Tiny theatre.”

“And it’s benefit, right?”

Jon nodded as he held his hand out for her. “Yeah, some friends of Bruce so he’s just doing an informal thing to raise some money.”

“As you guys do, right?” She teased.

He chuckled as they left the apartment and pressed his finger on her nose. “You got it.”

They arrived at the Apollo theatre and Devon expected to be seated but Jon in the theatre walked around the back entrance after they left the car. “We’re not going in the front door?”

He snickered. “No we’re sitting side stage - unless I’m on the bill to perfirm I don’t like to draw attention. This is Bruce’s thing.”

She lifted her brow as they walked up the back steps. “I never thought of it that way. That’s very noble of you.”

“Nah, it’s just something we do. Bruce insisted we sit out in the audience but I’m just as happy to sit side stage with you. We can sneak a kiss or two that way.”

“Oh.” She liked the idea of having Jon to herself. He had to be used to things like this so she was happy to take his lead on what he thought was best. This was a whole new world to her.

Two seats were tucked away behind the roof to floor length red velvet drapes on the right wing with a bucket of champagne in the middle of them. “I didn’t know we had the VIP package?” Devon teased as they took their seats. The buzz out in the theatre was electric as people began to fill their seats.

“Only the best.” Jon winked as he poured her a glass.

“Hey here they are! So any requests tonight boys and girls?” Bruce came out with his guitar slung behind his back.

“Why don’t you play Hearts of Stone, God I haven’t heard those in years?” Jon said.

“I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to the little lady. And Stone can stay Southside’s he does a better job than this old man.”

Devon laughed and held her hand up. “Well no pressure when Bruce Springsteen asks you what you want to hear.”

Jon rolled his eyes. “Oh god.”

She jabbed him in the ribs. “It’s a serious decision.”

“So, what will it be?”

“I love Atlantic city.”

“Atlantic City I can do. Enjoy the show.” He winked as he disappeared and Jon handed her a glass.

“I would have taken you for a Drive all night or Hungry Heart kind of girl.”

“Well actually. The Rising is my favourite album but they’re such sad songs and this isn’t a sad occasion.”

“Damn right it’s not.” He said with a knowing grin.

“What?” She asked suspiciously.

“Nothing - we’re here because we made it. This is our life Devon. You better get used to it.” He clinked her glass with hers.

“Well if you keep serving me this kind of wine you’ve got yourself a deal.”

“Baby, I could buy you the vineyard.”

She snorted. “Show off.”

“You love it and you know it.” He whispered as he kissed her temple.

“Shhh the lights are going down.” She hissed excitedly.

“Good grief.” Jon commented. “You were never this excited for me.”

“You’ve never invited me to watch you play properly.” She shot back with a grin.

He leaned back and crossed his leg over his knee. “Well we’ll have to see about that.”

Bruce entertained his crowd effortlessly with rousing renditions of Badlands, Glory Days back down to a stripped down Born in the USA. The seats were long forgotten as they made use of the space for a casual dance. He hooked his arm around her waist as Thunder road played and the entire theatre sang every word back.

Jon swung her and dipped her. They laughed like teenagers and she loved every minute of it. His eyes never left hers as they danced as she felt his heart beat under her hand when he swept her in for the quieter numbers.

“Whew” She applauded with the rest of the theatre as they stopped for a minute.

“Now, I’ve had a special request from a very good friend of mine for this song and I’m honoured to play it for them.”

She expected Atlantic City to start but the familiar beginning of another song started. “This is for your Jonny B.”

We said we'd walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we're walking a hand should slip free I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind Wait for me

Jon stood behind her and wound his arms around her middle and swayed her gently in time to the beat. The harmonica and its haunting song rang out into the silenced Apollo theatre. She hadn’t heard anything more beautiful before. It dawned on her. This wasn’t just any song.

This was a song for her. The light was low and a single spot was on Bruce.

We swore we'd travel darlin' side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride
But each lover's steps fall so differently But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind Wait for me

Tears swelled to her eyes as she gripped his hands on her belly and gave them a squeeze. She wanted to burst.

The low whisper of his voice tickled in her ear as he sang the song a long softly with Bruce. She closed her eyes and took the moment. He had waited for her. They’d been through hell and back and he’d waited for her. Just like he said he would.

I’ll wait for you. Should I fall behind wait for me too.

It was going to be ok now. It really was going to be ok now. They’d come out the other side and they really could start to plan a life together. It seemed unreal and she never thought she’d feel so free being able to think like it.

Now there's a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There 'neath the oak's bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I'll wait for you And should I fall behind
Wait for me Darlin' I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind Wait for me

He strummed the last note and Devon smiled but looked down when she realized Jon’s arms were gone. She turned and her heart caught in her throat as Jon stood there and her eyes dropped to the pink square diamond ring in his hand.

“So should I fall behind, will you wait for me too?” He asked gently. His eyes were shining and tears threatened the strong face that she always saw.

“I-I” She stumbled over her words and took a deep breath and looked him straight back in the eyes.

“Marry me Devon.”

Her heart beat loudly in her chest and she wanted to explode. Her hands covered her mouth as she nodded. “Yes. Yes.”

He took her hand and slid the diamond onto her ring finger. It was the biggest freaking diamond she’d ever seen and she was sure in less than three seconds she was going to faint.

“So is she going to wait for your sorry ass Jonny B?” A voice said behind them.

Jon did the thumbs up as he dragged her in with both hands and kissed her squarely on the lips and held her just moments from his lips. “You have no idea how happy you have just made me.”

She flung her arms around his neck as he lifted her and twirled her into a tight embrace.

“Folks - can I get a round of applause for Jonny B and his new fiance Devon!”

“Shit.” Jon chuckled as the crowd applauded as Bruce dragged them ontstage and kissed her cheek. She may as well be walking on marshmallows and she was tingling all over.

Devon laughed as Bruce busted into a guitar rift and Ten Avenue Freeze out started to play. Patti joined her side and kissed her.

“Congratulations Darlin. And welcome to the crazy life of being a rock star's wife.”

More of the band danced around them and Bruce dragged up some people from the audience so they blended in. Bruce dragged her to centre stage and twirled her around laughing. The rest of the theatre blurred out until it was just her and Jon dancing again.

He wrapped his arms around her waist and dragged her in. “So, we’re going to be on the front of every paper in this town tomorrow.”

She shrugged and pushed back his hair as her fingers ran across his jaw. “I don’t care. Do you?”

He grinned broadly. “Nope.”

“We’re really going to do this?” She asked. “I feel like all my dreams are coming true.” Her fingers wound around the lapels of his jacket.

“That’s impossible. Dreams are never over and you can count on that as long as we’re together Dev.”

“I love you Jon. Truly.”

He grinned. “I love you too darlin. Till my dying day.”

She closed her eyes are they kissed again and couldn’t help the smile that broke out on her face.

She was finally home. And as long as they did this together she’d make sure sure she’d never lose him. He’d breathed life back into her and she would love him for the man he was and the man he still wanted to be.


The End.

Authors Note: It is with great sadness I bring Devon and Jon to an end but it felt right. There will be an epilogue posted in the coming days to give you an idea of what happens in the future with our favourite couple. I had a blast writing this story and I hope you all did as well following their story. You've all been incredible with comments or feedback and seeing your enjoyment has made it all worth it.

Apologies for sometimes being late posting, I'm in a busy role that's been mind-blowing this year on the work side with responsibility and stress it's almost killed me at times. I have many plans for new stories so if you have some patience I'll make sure to get the word out when I'm ready to do-over all again! Can't wait!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chapter Eighty: Redemption

Jon snorted as Devon applied her lip gloss for the third time after the quick shower they’d both had. “Applying more gloss isn’t going to make Bruce and Patti go away. You have to face them again you know.” He tugged down a sweater and folded his arms.

She popped her lips and his cock jumped.

“I’m not! It’s necessary.” She defended leaning back towards the mirror.

He groaned. “Let’s not do that again, k?”

“What have sex on the river bank? Or this?” She popped her lips again.

“I hate you.”

She giggled and snapped the lid back on. “For this or not knowing where we’re going?”

“Both. You’re evil and I don’t like it.”

She picked up her purse and slid into her shoes. He grinned. “Did you notice the shoes I picked out?”

“Yeah. Red stilettos aren’t exactly day wear Jon but they’ll do.”

He admired her sleek legs. “Look fine to me!” His fingers dusted down her back and down to the tight curve of her ass in black pants.

“I’m still so embarrassed.” She groaned. “Do I have to go down there?”

He beamed. “I know and I love it. And hell, it’s just Patti and Bruce.”

“You’re only saying that because it’s not Richie and David. They’d give you heaps for it.”

“Give me heaps of what?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s Kiwi, heaps of teasing in other words.”

“Oh right! Fuck yes. They’re not finding this out.” His life wouldn’t be worth living once Richie got hold of that kind of information.

“Normally I’d blackmail you but I’m going with that’s the best result for this particular issue.”

Jon snorted. “I thought you might say that. You know Richie and David would give you “heaps” too right?” He imitated her and ducked out of her reach when she went to hit him. She stopped and looked around his master suite and he frowned.

“Everything alright?”

She smiled. “Everything is absolutely perfect.”

“Ok, you’re being weird. I want to know what’s going on.”

She shrugged. “I think like we discussed it might be time to move into the house soon.”

“Oh? Well if you want know I love this place.”

She winked. “Come on then. You’re going to have to hold my hand down there. I can tell they’re going to be ruthless.”

He took her hand and she led the way, he glanced over at the room as they left and grinned as he knew his own grand plan was sliding into place, perfectly.

“Here they are!” Bruce said proudly sitting at the table drinking a mug of coffee. “Good shower?”

Jon chuckled as Devon blushed as she accepted a mug of coffee from Patti.

Bruce shook his head. “We would have never done anything like that in my day.”

“Oh please.” Patti rolled her eyes. “Pay no attention to him.”

Jon slid onto a chair at the table and poured himself a coffee from the pot. “So, does someone want to tell me what’s happening this morning?”

Devon checked her watch. “Actually we are going to have to hustle as we’re meeting someone there.”

Jon frowned and rubbed his chin. “Meeting who?” Press? She’d know better not to blind side him like that though. What the hell was she up to?

“Relax, they won’t bite.” She grinned wiggling her eyebrows.

He popped his knuckles but she rubbed his arm. “Relax you’ll like it. Now who’s out of their comfort zone?”

“I don’t like surprises unless they’re red and lacy and I can rip them open with my teeth.” He whispered as kissed the side of her head and breathed in her spicy candy scent.

She giggled. “Well that could be arranged, later.”
Yup. She was evil.
“Come on then kids, let’s head into town.” Bruce said sliding out from his chair.

Jon drove Devon in the car into Redbank and Bruce and Patti followed. “So where am I parking?”

“Somewhere on Monmouth will be fine.”

He snorted. “Look at your Mrs Redbank all of a sudden.”

“It’s a cute town.”

“I think so. I know it’s not New York but I like that I’ve had the choice. I’ve missed it out here.”

“I’m glad you said that.” Devon said as the pulled into a car park. He backed in carefully and cranked the handbrake on.

“Well you better show me the big surprise then. God knows what I’m about to get myself into.”

Jon locked the car and wrapped his coat around him as they strolled down past the quaint shop windows. “Do we need Bruce and Patti?” He asked looking over his shoulder as they fell behind.

“They’ll catch up.” She said linking her arm in through his.

They rounded into Monmouth and she stopped in front of a large double lot building where a woman in a neatly clipped suit was standing with a bunch of keys and a clipboard.

“Devon, hi - so good to see you again.”

“Hi Lauren, this is my partner Jon who I was telling you about. We’re ready to go in and see.”

Jon shook her hand as she held it out. “Jon, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Can I just say that this is all very exciting for Devon.”

“Sure, pleased to meet you.” Like he had a clue what she was on about.

Devon took his hand and squeezed in as they walked into the dusty floor and through skeletons of walls that spread off in different directions. “Hell, I can’t even remember what was here before.” Jon commented scratching his head.

“A law firm and a bakery next door.” Lauren offered.

“Of course. So …” He stopped as Devon stood in the middle of the room and held his hand in between hers as Lauren ducked into the next room.

“Jon.” She said seriously and confidently as she rubbed the top of his knuckles.

“Yes, Devon?” He asked amused as he let her lead even though he had a handful of questions he wanted answered immediately.

“I haven’t been the same since I met you.”

He relaxed into a smile. “Oh?”

“And I haven’t been the same since what happened with Jared and I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. I have you, I have an amazing business and this incredible life opening up I know that we can have.”

“And we will have-” He interjected.

“Shh. I know we will. But I’ve been feeling guilty and lucky all at the same time I have had this great support network in you and then my father. I have money sitting in a draw in my salon doing nothing and that’s not right. Not when I took it in the first place.”

He nodded, he understood what was happening. She’d come to her own conclusions about it all. Finally.

“Instead of donating it to charity, as that was my first option. I decided I needed to do something with it. The New York salon is successful and can run itself these days so I thought why not put the money into a new business, right here.”

A smile played on his lips. “A new salon?”

“A salon and school. I want to teach and donate my time to teaching young girls and guys everything I know so they can succeed in my industry.”

He stepped back and blinked. “Wow, I mean-that’s a fantastic idea.”

“You think? I want to give back. So I thought I’d set up a salon here and a school in the bakery premises with adjoining doors which I’d build in. The students can practise in the salon once they’re trained to get work experience before I throw them out into the big bad world. We’ll make the fees really reasonable... none of these thousands of dollars of tuition. Just enough to cover the overheads.”

He was blown away. It was absolutely perfect for her. She’d be an incredible teacher with her lovely nature and the passion oozed out of her as she pointed out different areas within the space she’d already thought about.

He took her hands. “You are amazing. I had no idea this was what you even were thinking but it’s perfect. I want to help.”

“I’m glad you said that as I have money but not that much for this kind of project. I was thinking sponsors-”

“Absolutely. Count me in. This is your project though. I can help draw people into it but you dictate it all. Money-to get you off the ground? Don’t even worry about that. I’ll earmark you a million to do it.”

“What? God, Jon that’s not what I’m asking you for.”

“No but it’s what I’m giving you. I am so proud of you Devon.” He squeezed her hands tight. “And this is why I never gave up on you. I know you, I know you have a heart of gold and want to see greatness in this world. You have no idea how awesome this place will be for Redbank. It’ll draw more life down here and more opportunities. I think it’s absolutely incredible.”

She smiled through the tear that trickled down her cheek. “Thank you. I wanted to make you proud I really did as I know how much you love me. But above all I wanted this to all mean something. I guess you could say I wanted redemption.”

He beamed. “I understand and baby, you’ve got more than that right here. God. This will be incredible.” He dragged her in and kissed her squarely on the lips. His hand slid up the back of her neck and her hair fanned around his fingers. He pressed his forehead against hers so his lips hovered over hers.

“I fucking love you. You have no idea how much.”

It was all falling into place. She had no idea but he had his own plans that he’d put on hold for a kitchen down here that would help the community but he’d shelved it for a while since he’d been busy writing an album and planning a tour. But now he had no excuse but to pursue the dream.

“I love you too and I wouldn't have done this without you in my life.”

He kissed her again and released her. “This is a great space. So, Jonathan’s going to manage New York?”

“Yeah - I need to talk to him but he will, he can do it. He’s the best. I’ll work up there a couple of days a month to keep up appearances and I figure we’ll garner attention for the place down here.”

“You have some wealthy clients so yes, leverage that.”

“And we’ll move to Redbank.” She said cocking her eyebrow.

He nodded. “Yes, we will. I’ll keep the penthouse for now. It’s not hurting me. I can always sell in a few years but it’ll be handy when we’re doing business in the city. You sure you can give up the city?” He asked her seriously.

“I can. I’m ready to do this and it’s lovely out by the house. Reminds me a lot of home.”

“I like the idea of you near Bruce and Patti for when I’m touring as well.”

She laughed. “Yeah, I do too. Man that’s going to suck.”

“You forget I have money, I can fly you to wherever I want whenever I want. We’ll make it.”

“Oh can you just?”

“I just have one request.” Jon said seriously.

“What’s that?”

“Can I please whisk you away to a remote island before we get started on all this?”


Lauren came back in and smiled. “So what do you think? Pretty fabulous space.”

Jon wrapped his arm around Devon’s shoulder. “It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

Devon beamed. “So I’ll take it. I’ll sign whenever you need me to.”

“Great. I’ll get the papers sent to you so you can see the lease agreements and go over it with your lawyer and then we can get things moving.”


“Well well...” Bruce said as they entered the building.

“So, did he like it?” Patti asked with a grin.

“He loves it.” Jon replied. “I think she’s amazing.”

“Well I wouldn’t be amazing without y’all.” Devon winked as she walked off talking with Lauren and Patti.

Bruce stood beside him with his hand in his jeans. “She’s something huh? Patti told me. It’s a brilliant idea.”

Jon crossed his arms and swung back on his heels. “It’s - I had no idea she was even thinking it but it’s perfect for her. And us.”

“She’s a keeper Jonny B.”

“Don’t I know it?” Jon grinned. “Speaking of which, I’ve got a favour to ask you.”

“I’m all ears boy.”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chapter Seventy-Nine: River Runs Dry

Jon arrived home after six and swung himself into a chair and rubbed his face. The writing was going good. Nom it was going great and they were making good progress. Devon hadn’t come home but he sat back and sank into the chair for a minute relaxed knowing that she was safe. He was glad she’d left the apartment and gone to spend time out of town. She was slowly returning to the women he knew she was.

He rummaged for his phone as it started to ring. “Hey, was just thinking about you.” He softly said as he closed his eyes.

“Clean thoughts I hope.” Devon teased.

“You know that’s never possible. Where are you?”


His brow arched. “Still? It’s getting dark out there. Want me to send a car to come and collect you?”

“I was thinking you could come to me.”

Jon sat up straighter. “Yeah? And stay out there tonight?”

“You read my mind.”

He nodded. He could do that. “Want me to pack you a bag?”

“Yup. That would be great.”

“Why the interest?”

“I just thought it would be a change of pace. We’re invited to the Springsteen’s for drinks after dinner.”

He chuckled. “Of course we are. Ok, I’ll pack a back and get a driver out there.” He checked his watch. “Screw it. I’ll drive out there. Where do I meet you?”
“Red. The wine bar on Broad?”

“In about an hour?”

“Yeah about that or half after, I know where you are. I'll call you as I get closer.” Jon chuckled as he hung up. Every bone in his body ached after today’s session and now he had to drive an hour to Redbank. But hell, she sounded happier than he’d heard her in a long time so he hardened up.

The simple task of driving was one he’d avoided on most occasions but he was surprised how much he enjoyed the trip down to Redbank. He’d found some Elvis and Sinatra music, only after subjecting himself to a very bad boy band courtesy of his daughters CD in the car.


Jon parked the car and headed into the bar, had spent some time in this particular wine bar so he chuckled at the fact Devon chose it. He spied her over in a corner booth and signalled to waiter who instantly recognized him and nodded.

“Hello delicious.” He said as he squeezed in beside her and gave her a kiss.

The soft lines on her face deepened as she cupped his jaw and stroked it with her thumb. “Hello yourself. Good drive?”

He snorted. “Yeah it was in the end. You know I just don’t hop in a car and drive for an hour for anyone right?”

She lifted her brow and her lips curved. “Oh I know. I’m not just anyone though.”

He grinned. Her old sparkle was there, the one he’d seen in the salon when he’d first met her. That subtle attractive confidence that he so loved about her. “Any good?” He asked as she fingered the wine glass.

“It’s a New Zealand wine so of course it is.”

The waiter came and stood beside them. “Good evening Mr Bon Jovi, it’s great to see you again.”

Jon smiled easily as looked around. “Yeah it’s good to be back down here. Listen, we’ll have a bottle of this.” He said gesturing towards Devon’s glass. Tea light candles in red glass jars flickered at each table and smooth jazz played in the background.

“A bottle?” She asked curiously. “Are you trying to get me drunk?”

He leaned in but only their noses bumped. “And if I am?”

Her gaze flicked to his lips and back. “You can’t. We have to be up early tomorrow.”

He raised his brow. “We do? Why?”

She picked up her wine and sipped it with a smug smile. “Because we just do.”

“Ok, what’s going on? And where is Patti?” He asked looking around the bar.

“At home. We’re heading there for a late supper and then we’re staying at your place the night.”

He laughed. “Oh we are, are we? You’re up to something and I want to know what it is.” He tucked a curl of blond hair behind her ear.

“You just don’t like not knowing what’s going on. That’s your problem.”

The wine arrived and he pulled out a couple of bills for the waiter. Once his glass was poured he leaned back in the booth amused at the playful smirk still on Devon’s lips. “No I don’t like it but I have a tendency to get things out of you, remember?”

She shook her head. “Uh uh, not this. Not until tomorrow.”

“Ok. Where is my girlfriend and what have you done with her?” He joked but this was the old Devon back. Something had happened but he had no idea what but whatever it was she was pretty pleased with herself. He was ok with that as he sure as hell was enjoying seeing her back to her old self.

“Let’s just say she had an epiphany.” Devon teased as he knocked back his first glass.

He cocked a grin. “That you should marry me and have my children and spend the rest of your days worshipping the ground I walk on?”

She burst out laughing. “Oh yeah because that’s what you need. More people that worship you and children? Really?”

It came up before and he’d remained committed to being open to the idea if she wanted them. It was only fair. “Well do you want children?”

“Do you? You have four of them already and you’re not exactly-” She paused and bit on her lip.

“If you were about to call me old, I will spank you.”

Her eyes widened. “I didn’t mean it to sound-” She laughed again. “Crap.”

He dusted his hands. “Yup, you’ll be getting a good old fashioned spanking.”

“Maybe I want one.”

He rubbed his forehead. “Good grief. We’re going to kill each other later aren’t we?” He smiled knowingly and didn’t wait for her to answer as he signalled the waiter over. “Come on then. Drink up I’ll get the rest and another bottle to take to Bruce’s or I won’t be able to drive there.”

“Shouldn’t you have thought of that before you ordered the whole bar?”

“Shut up.” He said stealing a glance sideward at her. “Get in my car woman.” She slid out and walked towards the exit and he watched her and shook his head. “Gonna kill me before any baby does.” He muttered as he signed the check and collected his wine before following her out.


“You guys need to call a taxi?” Patti asked. Devon glanced over her shoulder at Jon who was cut and she nodded. She sure as hell wouldn’t be driving them either.

“That is a great idea.”

Jon stumbled to the foyer with Bruce’s arm wrapped around him. “Hey, thanks man.”

“Oh lord.” Devon said as Jon’s glassed over gaze and goofy grin hovered over her face.

They’d had a late supper, a few laughs around the fire pit at the Springsteen’s and a lot of drinks. This wasn’t unusual in the very short time that she’d known them. Bruce hardly drank but boy they bounced off each other when Jon got trashed.

Her head was fuzzy and she’d had past her limit two hours ago. She’d managed to keep it a secret that they were meeting the realtor at the space in the morning where she was planning on opening her salon school. It needed a lot of work but she was confident they could do it. Jon had spent all night trying to guess and he had been wrong every time but it was fun making him sweat.

“Thank you Patti for a lovely night. We’ll see you tomorrow too right?”

“Right, I’ll swing by at eight am, meet you at yours.”

“Where are we going?” Jon asked. “I’m not going somewhere where I don’t know where I’m going!” He slurred and stumbled down the steps to the driveway.

“You’re going home that’s where you’re going.” Devon said as she followed him.

He pointed at her and narrowed his eyes. “Hey, that’s not what I meant and you know it.” He pointed at Patti and then Bruce. “These women are up to something Springsteen. I don’t trust them.”

Bruce laughed and patted Devon’s shoulder. “Of course. They’re evil and that’s why we love them Jonny B and write songs about them.”
“Preach it brother.” Jon muttered in agreement.

The taxi rounded into the driveway. “They are evil.” Jon said as he pushed himself into the back seat of the taxi.

“Bye guys.” Devon hiccupped and laughed. “I’ll see you in the morning.” She said in a loud whisper.

“I can hear you Devon. I’m not blind.”

Everyone laughed as she slid in beside Jon for the short journey down the road.

“We could have walked.” Jon said indignantly.

“Oh yea and walk into a ditch or the Navesink.”

She paid the driver and winced as she stood up and the world rushed with her. Yup she’d had one too many wines too but they were home. “I hope you have the key.” She commented as they walked up the driveway together but Jon stopped in the driveway.

“You’re not pregnant are you?”

“What? No! God, stop thinking about it! It’ll be here tomorrow and you’ll see.” She giggled as he swept her up off her feet and started to carry her.

“You are right though. I’m an old bastard but I would cope with a new baby.”

She shook her head as his drunken ramblings continued until she realized they weren’t going to the door. He was walking onto the grassy knoll of lawn that led down to the river. “Jon. Where are we going?”

Even in the darkness his smile gleamed. “Remember how I told you I’d get it out of you? And you immediately figured it was sex?”

She frowned and then screamed. “Put me down! Don’t you fucking dare Jon Bon Jovi!” She tried to struggle but his grip around was like cement as he started to jog to the water’s edge with her.

“Tell me then princess or you’re going in.”

She struggled and giggled at how ridiculous this was but he had her tight. “Jon! These shoes are suede.”
He flicked them off her feet so they made a thud on the grass. “Problem solved.”

“If I’m going in, you’re coming with me.” She warned. “Phone and all.” She knew he wouldn’t do it, his life was in that phone.

He kicked off his shoes and waded in ankle deep. “You underestimate me. They’ve been already discarded.”

“Oh my god!” She squealed.

“Tell me.” He said. “Five ... four... three...”

He laughed deliciously as she realized she was going in. It wasn’t summer and that water was going to be fucking cold. She kicked her legs desperately but the sensation of falling soon took over and ice-cold water blasted against her face. She stood and breathed a sigh of relief as her feet could touch the sandy bottom of the riverbed.

“Oh you’re so going to die.” She spluttered as her rugby tackled him under the water. They played until the splashes subsided and he looped her in close in his arms.

“I always win.” He whispered as he kissed her. Her anger melted away as she reached up and kissed him back. His tongue slid across her bottom lip and into her mouth and she groaned as he tasted her moment by moment.

Her nipples drilled through the sopping wet cotton of her dress. They were hard as bullets but when his hand glided over one she moaned. The heat of their mouths ate away the cold on their skin as he walked her slowly back up the bank and pushed her gently down into the grass.

The weight of his body pressed into hers as he ran his hand up her leg and draped it over his hip. His buckle dug into her belly as she slid her hand down under his jeans and over his ass. She struggled with the buttons of his shirt as the fabric was sucked to his skin. He grunted and tugged it so it ripped enough for her hand to slide in against his chest.

She thumbed his nipple and he panted against her mouth as his fingers slid between lace and straight into her sweet heat.

“Oh, god!” She cried as the chill of the water suddenly eased away.

“I fucking love you.” His words were quick but made her heart race and the friction between them intensify.

She heard a rip, god was that her dress? And then his mouth was hot on her breast. Her nails dug into his head as he sucked hard to make a popping sound, igniting every sense in her body. The taste of wine mingled with passion as she un-popped his jeans while he devoured her neck.

Desperation overtook sensibility as she held him as he entered her. It wasn’t pretty but they were lying on the riverbank for the love of god. She needed him as quickly as he needed her.

Skin slapped against skin as he thrusted hard. His heart beat hammered as against her hand as she held it against his chest. “Jonny. Baby.” She panted her words swallowed by his unrelenting kiss. Her head tipped back and she arched up as the moment drew near.

“Faster.” She pleaded. “Oh god, faster!”

Affirmations shouted into the night as they came and he rolled her and she slammed on top of him. His fingertips teased her nipples as she rode his cock. She was coming again and his fingers dug into his hips as she screamed.

“Oh god!”

They came one more time before they collapsed in a pile. She rolled off him and onto her back, her chest hungry for breath. “Oh shit.” She stuttered as she lay there the only other sound was Jon gasping for breath beside her.

“Fuck. That was hot.”

She chuckled and rolled onto her side facing him. “If I hadn’t just had my head blown off I’d be asking you what the hell was in the river that I need to wash off me.” She clasped her chest and closed her eyes for a second.

He pulled her in and kissed her gently. “Best not to ask.”

She braced against his chest as his arms wrapped around her. “Oh Jesus...” She mumbled feeling her body slip into contented bliss. She smiled against his warm skin and pressed a kiss in between his chest before she rested her cheek against it.

The sunshine burned bright against her skin as she blinked and then squeezed her eyes shut further as the birds chirped loudly. The headache that was jack-hammering in her head was the first casualty of too much wine. Jon’s snore was loud and it tickled through her hair. She cracked open one eye as she realized they weren’t lying in a bed. “Oh shit.” She giggled burying herself further into Jon’s chest.

“Jon.” She whispered but he didn’t stop snoring.

“Jon.” She hissed again until he grunted.


“We’re still outside.” They would be lucky not to end up with the flu at this rate as the cool morning breeze was fresh on her skin.

He groaned. “My fucking back hurts.”

“Well my eyes hurt and so will any early morning river cruisers if you don’t move.” A voice came from above them.

Devon shot up and gasped covering the front of her as Bruce and Patti stood on the bank clad in leather jackets and sunglasses. Patti laughed hysterically and tossed Devon a woollen blanket.

Her face flushed red. “Oh my god.”

Jon chuckled and shook his head. “Son of a bitch.”

Bruce tossed him a blanket. “Shit boy. How much you gonna pay me not to tell Sambora this one?”

“Don’t you fucking dare.”

Devon shrouded herself with the blanket and hid her face in her hands. She wanted to die and begged the ground to swallow her whole. This was the most embarrassing moment of her life, hands down. And it had to be Bruce and Patti of all people. Oh god.

“I don’t even want to know why you ended up in the river. That shit is dirty, you know that right?”

Patti jabbed Bruce in the side. “Leave them alone. It’s love. It’s cute.”

Devon looked up and Jon rubbed his head and laughed. “We’re cute.”

“I don’t feel cute I feel dirty.” She said.

“Well I have no comment there.” Bruce said with a deep chuckle.

“Bruce!” Patti scolded. “We’ll leave you two to go and have a shower. We thought we’d grab breakfast but I can put some coffee on while you clean up a little.”

“Sounds good.” Jon said as he stepped up and then helped Devon up. “Come on you.” He hooked his arm around her as he held the blanket in place with his other.

“I’m dying here.” She whispered.

Jon laughed. “It’s your fault.


“You could have avoided being soaked if you’d told me what was up and we would have shagged inside.”

“Oh please. You were the one that jumped on me once we were wet.”

“Whatever you say dear.” Jon said smugly and picked a twig out of her hair.

“You’re so going down for this. Hell I might even tell Richie.”

Jon broke into a confident stroll. “No you won’t. You’ll be too embarrassed. See Petal. I win again.”

She rolled her eyes and just laughed as they made their way to the main house.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chapter Seventy-Eight: A Change is Going to Come

“Are you sure about this?” Jon asked her as he picked his wallet and phone and slid them into his back jeans pocket.

She nodded. “I am. I’ll be fine.”

He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “I can stay and go with you for a little while?” She gently pushed against his chest as his lips tickled hers for a longer kiss.

She smiled against his mouth. “I’m ok - I need to do it. I’m ready.” She straightened herself and pressed down her skirt. It had been a couple of days since her Dad had gone home and Jon had been working every day at the studio with Richie. She’d been ok being alone in the apartment. She’d cleaned it from top to bottom, done her nails and given herself a glycolic peel. Jonathan had popped up and seen her and she’d sat on the roof with him for a couple of hours.

She missed her salon so much after he’d left that she’d decided she had to try and get back to normal. Somehow. Everyone else was moving on and she wanted to, badly.

“You call me if you need me though, right?” He asked as he stroked her hair. She would but she’d make damn sure it was the last option as Jon had become so focused since he’d been writing seriously. It wasn’t in a terrible way but she finally got to see the art bleed from him as he tinkered with the acoustic guitar at night while she prepared dinner.

“I will. I’m looking forward to seeing every one again. Jonathan said they’ve all been worried.”

“And you need to work - you love that place. I get it.” Jon said.

She half smiled. She did love it. But was it the same after all this? Could she really just go back to her life knowing how lucky she truly was? It didn’t feel right. “I do.” She stroked his cheek. “You should come in for a treatment soon, your skin is drying out again.”

He grabbed his scarf. “That’s because pre-winter winds are sanding it off but an excuse to come and be pampered by you, I can do.”

She snorted. “Because I don’t look after you any other time do I?”

He wiggled his eyebrows and grinned sheepishly. “Wanna remind me.” He hovered closer linking his hands around her waist but she pushed him back.

“I know you’re bluffing. Richie will be waiting!” She exclaimed with a giggle as his lips brushed down over her neck.

He snorted. “Ruchie will be just fine.” He said imitating her accent as she slapped him playfully.

“You are in trouble mister.” She drilled a hard finger into his chest but he nipped at her chin.

She eased in his arms and it took her mind off venturing outside for a moment.

“I like being in trouble with you.” He whispered as he kissed her once more and stood back. “But you are right, I do have to go.”

She folded her arms and swung back on her heels. “I know its ok. You need to go and do what you do best.”

“As do you.” He winked. “Call me but good luck and I’ll see you tonight. We can celebrate.”


“That we lived a day in a normal life.” He beamed as he left the apartment. She blew out her breath and stood for a moment. Life. This was it and it was pretty awesome. She grabbed her keys and stuffed what she needed in her purse, checked herself over in the mirror and headed for the door. Her heart hammered into her chest as she took the first steps into the lobby and clicked the door shut behind her.

It still didn’t make sense why she was so afraid, the threat of Jared was gone and everyone was safe. She could do this. God damn just do it! She stepped into the elevator and closed her eyes as the doors did. She jammed the stop button and heaved for a breath. The quick thought of calling Jon vanished, it had been barely a minute for god’s sake.

She took the elevator back to her floor and sat on the chair that was outside in Jon’s lobby. She missed her salon and she missed Jonathan and the girls. She wiped a lone tear away and cursed how pathetic this was. She wanted to go, she knew it was safe so why couldn’t she leave without anybody?

Just two days ago she strolled the streets of New York with her father to a favourite deli of her and Jon’s down the road. God damn it, she had to do it. Her phone vibrated in her purse and she snatched it cursing when the number wasn’t Jon’s.


“Hey baby girl.” A familiar drawled Jersey accent came down the phone.

“Patti? Oh, Patti!” She exclaimed in relief.

“Are you ok? I was just calling you to see how things are. I didn’t want to impose but of course we’ve been worried about you guys.”

She relaxed and sunk down further in between the leather arms. “Thank you and I’m doing ok thank you so much for the flowers you and Bruce sent a long. They were beautiful.” She’d made a mental note to call herself but she’d been distracted.

“You’re welcome. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you with your father coming back and that awful man. Are you sure you’re doing ok?”

She rubbed her temples. “I don’t honestly know. Jon’s gone to the studio and I was going to go out today but...” She sighed. “I’m still in the lobby.”

“Uh huh. Oh, darlin. Why don’t you come out to Jersey for the day? Catch the train out to Redbank and I’ll meet you.”

She bit her lip. “I don’t know.” She looked around her. “I’m supposed to be going into work and I haven’t been there for weeks.”

“One more day won’t hurt. Come on. I bet it’s just what you need. I’ll meet you at the train station here. That way you’ll have to leave the apartment.”

It made sense and she wanted to go. “Ok. I’ll do it. Redbank, you say?”

Patti rattled off the train and how to get it and Devon hung up. It would be good to see Patti and it felt good to think she could do it. Get out of here for a day. And that a change of scenery never hurt anyone.

After an apologetic call to Jonathan and a text to Jon to tell him what she was doing she made her way downstairs. She walked the cobblestones down to Spring Street to connect to Grand central and then she’d transit to Jersey.

It was easier in the end that she expected, the crowded streets provided her comfort instead of fear as she pushed her way through and onto the train safely. The train to Redbank wasn’t full so she snuggled into a seat down the back and breathed a sigh of relief they pushed off on their way.

Her phone rang about ten minutes into the journey and it was Jon.


“Hey yourself, where are you?”

“On the train to Redbank.”

“You are huh? Well look at you. There’s something I didn’t expect to see in your text. I could have got you a car you know.”

She shrugged. “It’s ok it felt right and seeing Patti will be good.”

“Girl gossip good?” He teased.

“Ha! Maybe. But I’m ok Jon honestly - you can get on with your day.” She didn’t tell him she stalled when she first left the apartment but she would later.

“Ok but if you get stuck Dorothea’s up that way so you can call her.”

“I’m not calling your ex-wife Jon. I’m fine, honestly.”

“Ok, ok. Well have a good day and text me later and let me know what time you’ll be home.”

“I will. I promise. I’ll be fine.”

He grudgingly accepted it and let her go. She watched the Jersey towns fly past as they went through each stop. She was good. She had done it and she was out here in the world again. She’d lie if she said she was completely at ease but as the train rolled into Redbank she relaxed.

“Devon!” She shaded her eyes as she stepped outside and saw Patti wrapped in a red woolen coat waiting for her. Her flame red hair spiled loosely on her shoulders and her green eyes sparkled under the sunshine.

The warmth against her face was awesome, being in the city the skyscrapers made it hard for the heat to hit the ground. The wind whipped around her but the sun was glorious on her skin. “Patti.” They embraced and then strolled into the main street down to the diner.

“I’m so glad I came.” Devon said as she slid into the booth. “I do love this town.”

Patti chuckled. “So does your boyfriend.” She squeezed Devon’s hand. “So, how are you?”

Devon sighed and the waitress poured them some coffee. “I’m doing ok. I just feel like nothing is the same even though it’s pretty much back to the way it was before it all happened. And it’s bugging me why I think that.”

“Well, it’s not the way it was. You have your father now, you know you survived something potentially horrific. I don’t see how anything would be the same.”

She shrugged. “Well when you put it like that, I guess you’re right. Dad called it survivor’s guilt as well. And I kind of ran with that.”

“Why you got away and Jared didn’t?”

Her lashes lowered. “Well he is dead.”

“Honey. I know and I’m sorry it had to come to that. But you’re not so what are you going to do about it?”

She tipped her head back up and met Patti’s gaze. “What do you mean?”

She rested her cup down and grinned. “Nothing’s the same, but you’re alive and you’re lucky. So, what are you going to do about it?”

“I-I never really thought of it that way. I really hate that I still have all the money I mean it’s running a business and I love my business...” she trailed off.

“So do something with the money, don’t give it away. Do something with it make what you did count.”

“Wow-I-don’t know-” She paused and glanced outside. “I could teach.”

“Teach?” Patti asked.

“Jon’s always talking about jobs in the community and especially in Jersey. What if I opened a Beauty School? But made the training affordable? We could train them - help them get jobs...they could start out and work in a salon here...”

“There you go.” Patti said quietly.

“Oh my god. That’s what I want to do. How did you know?” Devon asked excitedly. It was a far cry from the gamlour of New York City but she was ready for the change.

“Oh I’ve had my fair share of guilts and life changing moments. When I met my husband is one of them as you know. That’s why I got into the work we do with the horses.”

Devon ripped off a napkin and took out a sharpie from her purse. She scribbled ideas down. Her crew in New York could help her, she’d run that business to make the money that would subsidise the school. And the salon within the school would meet overheads. It was perfect. She’d need some support from the community and probably a few sponsors but Jon would be able to help her with that for ideas.

“I think we need to go shopping. For real estate.” Patti beamed. “Oh and I can tell you about the concert Bruce is doing in a couple of weeks up here. You and Jon will have to bring yourselves down.”

“Of course.” She excitedly said. She wanted to text Jon but she didn’t. She decided this one would be a surprise for him. “Let’s do this!”

Will you share her secret?