Sunday, February 19, 2017

16. Confessions

Lilah was curled around him like pasta in the tines of a fork, softly snoring into his shoulder.  Tony would be perfectly content to stay tangled up in her warm familiarity, but nature called and he had no choice but to answer. 

“Lemme up,” he whispered, gently unwinding their legs and scooting her away.

“Mmphf.”  His wife grumbled a little, but rolled to her side of the bed willingly enough. 

Feeling his way through the darkened room, he found the bathroom and shut the door behind him before hitting the light switch.  Taking care of business while keeping his eyes half-closed against the glare, he then turned to the sink.  A flick of his wrist had the hot water on, and he groped for the miniscule bar of hotel soap, running it through his hands a few times and encountering the raised flesh on his newly tattooed finger.

It made him smile.  

The ink hadn’t been nearly as big of a deal as the conversations leading up to it. 

Lilah had told him she wanted something small and simple, which suited him perfectly.  They were also in harmony on the preference to use initials rather than names or artwork.  

He now wore “her” mark of LJB - narrow letters carved by the smallest needle in the tattoo guy’s arsenal.  They were inked sideways, stacked on top of one another so that the L was closest to Tony’s middle finger and the B was against his pinky.  On each outer edge of the initials ran a thin line that circled around to the palm side of the finger.  That’s where “10.14.16” had been stenciled in the same ink and style as the initials. 

The result was no more than a quarter-inch wide and would be easily covered by his wedding band, which was currently on the bedside table.  It was made even more understated by the fact that they’d chosen white ink instead of black.

He'd really believed this whole thing was about him being branded for the world to see, but, when she realized that's where his head was, Lilah had wasted no time in correcting him.  She bluntly cited that her ego didn't need him to make a profession of love to the world, her heart wanted a very personal profession that happened to be permanent.  Hence, white ink.  

His wife’s finger was nearly identical to his own.  The only surprise on that one had been when the artist asked what initials she wanted to use.  Tony had fully been expecting her to say “TBJ”, but she’d surprised him by choosing his given initials, “AMB”.

When he commented on the choice, she’d just shrugged.  “TBJ is who your brother made you.  AMB is who you are.”

He didn’t contradict her.

Tattoos were followed by a nice Italian dinner where his wife had gotten a little tipsy and, thereby, squirmy.  She had been all over him by the time they got back to the room and, having had a drink or two himself, he wasn’t opposed to it in the least.

Who was he kidding?  He wouldn't have been opposed to it if he was stone-cold sober.

While removing her clothes, he remembered mumbling something about how she was never going to use that new vibrator because he was throwing the damn thing away before it replaced him.  She had whispered that she didn’t need the “damn thing” and asked him to make love to her.  That was quickly followed by  reassurance that she’d been enjoying every filthy minute of the vacation sex.  It was just that, after their "vows" and rings that day, it had felt an awful lot like their wedding night again. 

He translated that to mean she needed/wanted the softness and romance, so he gave it to her. 

Tony kissed her like it was the very first time, called her his baby, told her he loved her and touched her as if she were as fragile as fine china.  He coaxed her with a tease here, a soft kiss there, a lazy swipe of his tongue someplace else until she…  Exploded wasn’t the right word for her orgasm.  It was more like she dissolved into a contented puddle of goo.

He could relate to that, because for a man who loved the hard and fast simplicity of a good old-fashioned fuck, making love to his wife last night had been memorable.  Maybe it was the newfound conviction that this truly was for the rest of their lives, but he hadn't experienced the usual blinding orgasm signalling that sex was over.  This time, release had come almost leisurely, and was accompanied by the soul-deep satisfaction of knowing that it wasn't over, it was just finished until next time.

Maybe it wasn't the orgasm he would always be looking for, but it suited him this time around.

Then, in a horror film twist of irony, his house started haunting him.  The monstrosity wouldn’t let him rest with his untold secret and, while Tony had lain with her all night, he hadn’t done much sleeping. 

Padding back to bed, he saw that it was a little after five.  As she normally did during her gradual wake-up process, Lilah was tossing from one side to another trying to find sleep when her body wanted her awake. 

Today.  Now.

Sliding under the covers, he scooted to spoon himself around her nakedness, dropping a light kiss to the scars at her neck.  After a moment, his lifted his hand to caress the curve of her hip.  Then he dipped to stroke that soft spot he liked, right between the curve of her ass and thigh. 

“If this cuddle isn’t gonna end in an orgasm, stop it,” she rumbled drowsily. 

His soft chuckle tickled her and earned him a limp swat on the cheek.

“I need to tell you something,” he murmured against the shell of her ear, spooning a little tighter. “And you might not like it.”

“It’s not daylight yet.  I already don’t like it.”

Maybe he should let her sleep.  He could always tell her later.

You’ve waited long enough.  Any longer and your institution of marriage might become a penal institution.

His right hand found her left and Tony wedged them together, rubbing his thumb over her tattoo ring.
“No matter how bad you think I’ve fucked up, you can’t leave me.  Don’t forget that.”

“Oh, God,” she groaned, extracting herself to reach for the lamp.  A quick snap and the light flooded away the darkness, leaving them both squinting in its wake as she slid back down to the mattress.  “What have you done?”

“It’s not that bad.”  He reached for her, both because he wanted the intimacy and to keep her from beating the hell out of him when he got to the punchline.  “C’mere.”

“Anthony Michael, you’re freakin’ me out.”  Her mommy voice was in full bloom, but she still allowed herself to be tucked close.  “Tell me.”

Tony sighed, nestling her ass into his crotch.  “It’s about the tour job.”

“Mm.  You finally gonna tell me why you took it?”

“Yeah.”  His eyes closed against the light, and he tried to lose himself in the feel of her.  “No matter how many times I said no, Jon kept harping at me to go with him.  I ended up asking for something totally ridiculous to shut him up, but the joke was on me.  He actually agreed to it.”

“Agreed to what?”

“Baby…”  Her hair ruffled at his soft huff.  “We’re drowning in debt.  I had just finished paying the bills when he called that last time and was feeling overwhelmed and desperate.  So I told him I’d go if he paid off our house.”

“Holy shit,” she breathed, no doubt doing some quick math in her head to subtract four years’ worth of payments from their purchase price.  “That’s got to be more than you usually make by… what?  At least three times.”

“Try six.  Now you know why I couldn't fuckin' believe he agreed.”

“So, wait.”  His eyes popped open when she flipped over to face him and levered up on one arm.  “He’s giving you enough to pay off the house?  Like, completely, with no more big ass house payments?  Jersey, that’s great!”

“Yeah, well, don’t get too excited just yet.”  His mouth twisted wryly as he prepared to bite the bullet.  “There’s more.  Jon, being Jon, gave it a different twist, so that he could reap some benefit from coughing up that much cash.”

“Uh, hello?”  Her eyebrows slammed down over her eyes in irritation.  “You’re goin’ on his freakin’ tour.  Wasn’t that supposed to be the benefit?”

He couldn’t help but smile.  She was cute when she was pissed at somebody besides him. 

“Nobody on the tour makes that kind of money, baby.  It's hard to justify as a standalone deal," he explained.  “So he made a counteroffer that isn’t optimal, but…  I agreed to it anyway.”


Stop stalling, Bongiovi.  Rip the Band-Aid off and see what's underneath.  

“And... we’re outright selling him the house so he gets the tax break on it.  We’ll still live there, but it will be his name on the deed.  That’s the deal.”


That’s all she said.  A simply stated, flat response that offered no room for argument. Not that he was surprised she wasn't doing a happy dance, but a guy could hope.


“No, Anthony,” she impatiently cut him off.  “Unless I’m just plain stupid, you need my signature to sell that house.  I’m not signin’ squat, and you’re an idiot to think I would ever live someplace at the mercy of your brother.  Or anyone else, for that matter.”

Tony shoved himself up in the bed so that he was propped against the pillows.  “Do you understand how much financial relief we get by not having that house payment?  Because it’s enough that I won’t bitch about Drew’s rent anymore – and then some.”

She wriggled around until she was sitting cross-legged at his hip, facing him.  “I know how much the house payment is, and I know how nice it would be to have that money for something besides a house payment every month, but this is a crock.”  She bumped the heel of her hand into his shoulder.  “I can’t believe you’d do this!  When the hell were you gonna tell me?”

“I wasn’t,” he mumbled under his breath. 

His shoulder got another rude jarring.  “Excuse me?

“I wasn’t going to tell you at all,” he came clean and plowed ahead.  “But since we got… us back, it’s been eating at me.  No bullshit doesn’t come as easy when you’re keeping secrets.”

The hamster wheel in her mind was spinning so fast, he was surprised that there wasn’t smoke coming out her ears.  She wore one wicked scowl as she did that soul looking thing, focusing on his left eye, then his right, then his left again.  He just knew she was mentally ticking through a million convoluted thoughts, and God only knew what type of retribution would come of it.

“I’m not arguin’ with you about this,” she quietly decided, dumbfounding him with how the fight simply left her.  The angry set to her jaw vanished.  The harsh angle of her shoulders softened.  “Because it’s a moot point.”

“How do you figure that?”

She picked up the sheet and began creasing it in her fingers, avoiding his gaze, and Tony instantly recognized the gesture.  He should, since he’d seen it countless times throughout their relationship.  It was what Lilah did when she was having a conversation she didn’t want to have.  A conversation in which she was unsure of the outcome – or thought it would piss him off.

“Lilah Jane,” he quietly threatened.  “What have you done?”

“It’s nothin’ bad!” She was quick to defend herself, stopping with the sheet long enough to point a finger in his face.  “In fact, it’s very good, and don’t you dare think I was tryin’ to hide it from you.”

Hiding?  Suddenly, he didn't feel as guilty as he had ten minutes ago.

“Talk, woman.”

“Don’t be an ass,” his wife demanded petulantly, and sat there playing with the sheet… and sat there... and sat there. 

"If you don't tell me and tell me right now, you're gonna be reminded just how much of an ass I can be.”

Her nose crinkled in a fit of pique and she huffed at him, but it didn't stop her from embarking on her explanation.  “You remember the other night when I was in such a good mood?  I said I had a surprise for you that wasn’t ready?”

The memory was quite clear in his mind.  He would be hard pressed to forget the transformation that had overcome her that evening, and she was so delighted with whatever the surprise was that he hadn’t pushed.  Details hadn’t mattered as long as he'd kept his Bluegrass.  

“I remember.”

“Well, I was waitin’ to get hold of the bank and ask them about refinancin’ the house on a shorter term.  I wanted to find out what the payments would be and if they thought we’d qualify since we just borrowed against the house a couple years ago.  But they still haven’t gotten back to me, which is why I haven’t brought it up before now.”

Jesus, I bet that’s what’s delaying the closing date.

“I’m confused,” he told her, reaching for his glasses, in a subconscious search for some kind of clarity.  “You surely understand that a shorter loan life means a higher payment?  There’s no way in hell we can afford a higher payment, Lilah.”

“One would think.”  Her eyes darted up to his, and her hands stilled on the sheet as her chin jutted with determination.  “But the annuity I’m gonna get is for twenty years and our mortgage still has 25 years left.  I want the house paid off by the time the annuity is done, so a shorter loan life makes sense in this case.”

Did he fall asleep or into the Twilight Zone?  Did she say annuity? 

“Wait.  What fucking annuity?”

“Welllll…..”  She gave him a sheepish smirk, confessing, “I won a little money.”

“Enough for a fucking annuity??”

“Yeah.”  Her eyes sparkled with utter delight.  “When you ran into me that evenin’, you might recall there was a lot of ruckus goin’ on…?”

Tony immediately flashed back to the moment where he asked that guy if someone had hit it big.

Yeah, you could say that.  Nine hundred thirty-three grand.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” he breathed, heart racing faster than any of their Camaros could hope to.  “You won almost a million dollars?!?”

An impish grin lit both her face and the room.  “Still think that slot machine career is so foolish?”

He framed her face with his palms and planted a loud, smacking kiss against her lips.  She could have any damn career she wanted, as far as he was concerned.  “You are the most amazing, beautiful woman!”

“I take it you’re not upset with me, then?”

“Upset?  Hell, no!  I’m so happy that I might let you keep that vibrator.  I may even use it on you myself!  Holy shit.  Almost a million dollars!”

“Nine hundred thirty-three thousand, to be precise,” his little calculator recited.  “Paid out over twenty years at two percent interest is roughly thirty-five thousand a year after taxes.  That’s twenty-nine hundred dollars a month, which should be close to the payment on a refinance of our current balance, if we get a good interest rate.”

He was just going to take her word for it, because all that shit was beyond his level of comprehension - or caring - right now. 

“Jesus motherfucking Christ,” he repeated with wonder.  “You won a house, baby.  You won your house!”


I love seeing him happy, Lilah thought, her heart filled to overflowing.


She loved him.  She loved their family.  She loved the life that they were fully committed to living together.  She also loved being responsible for the joy that shone in his eyes right now.  It might be as much joy as he’d given her with his badass commitment spiel in front of the tattoo shop.

Her husband likely thought her silly over that whole thing, but he couldn’t possibly understand the peace he’d granted by so permanently declaring his commitment to her.  Lilah had been left on her own so much – as a latchkey kid, by Walter, by Amos, then by Tony after Europe – that she could never shake the anticipation it was going to happen again.  

Her reason was that, if she was expecting to be left, it wouldn't be quite as hurtful when it came to pass.  That was the idea, anyway, and when she’d accused him of living with one foot out the door, it had made her feel incredibly hypocritical because she'd been living that way since before they got married.  

She rubbed her thumb over the discreet tattoo on her finger.

But not anymore.  He’d taken that away.  Nobody in the Bongiovi Mafia was going anywhere – ever – and that made her blissfully happy.


She gave her husband an arrogant grin and pushed his shoulders toward the mattress so she could straddle his waist.  “I won our house,” she corrected, bending forward to capture his mouth in a joyous kiss. 

His eyes were still closed when she tore her lips away, and impulsively dove for his nightstand.  One quick motion later, she reclaimed her straddled position.

“What are you doing with my phone?” he questioned, one eyebrow high on his forehead.

She ought to be offended that her husband sounded so suspicious, but he couldn’t be blamed.  It was only because he knew her so well. 

“Callin’ your brother.”

She tittered at the ugly face he made while she scrolled through his contact list.  Considering the history between Jon and herself, he was probably conjuring up all sorts of troublesome drama. 

Lilah Jane, don’t torture the man.

“Relax, sweet baby,” she soothed, subtly grinding her pelvis until she felt him stirring between her legs.  “This won’t take long.  Then you can try out that vibrator for me.”

In truth, she didn’t give a flip about the vibrator.  It didn’t have a hairy chest, a wicked grin or a big ole Jersey attitude.  Those were the things that flipped her switch.  But if those things were holding the other thing… 

The phone connected and promptly dragged her mind from the gutter.  It was not appropriate to have dirty thoughts while talking to her brother-in-law, even if he was Jon Bon Jovi.

“You’re up early,” he answered without ado, understandably assuming that Tony was the one calling.  “She kick you outta bed or has she taken up residence in the casino?”

“Good mornin’, Mr. Bongiovi,” Lilah greeted with all the southern charm she’d ever learned, witnessed or even heard about.

“Ah, fuck.  He told you, didn’t he?”

She smirked at his sigh of utter resignation.  “He did, indeed, and I’m callin’ to inform you that we will be declinin’ your thoughtful offer on our house.”

“Are you divorcing him?”

“That will never happen,” she vowed, petting the dark pelt that covered her husband’s chest.  “But I do have some other regretful news to share with you.”

The groan coming across the line was almost more pathetic than the sigh had been.  

“He promised me that he’s going on this tour, Lilah,” Jon was quick in jumping to conclusions.  “Gimme a break, here, will ya?  I didn’t shove that offer down his throat, and shouldn’t have to pay for his dumbass moment.  Hell, I told him he shouldn't be keeping it from you!”

Well give her a feather and call her a duck.  Jon had actually petitioned on her behalf?  Maybe he didn’t dislike her quite as much as she’d come to believe.  In that case, she supposed she should get him something nicer than socks for Christmas this year.

“One moment please,” she requested professionally, then covered the phone’s mic.  “Jersey, I forgot to ask.  Do you still want to go on the tour?”

Her husband frowned.  “No, but he’s my brother.  If he thinks he needs me to go, then I have to go.”

Lilah stroked the side of his face with a nod, recognizing that husband went above and beyond for family.  It was just who he was and, since she had been the recipient of that loyalty during the past few days, she could hardly deny the same to Jon. 

Looks like you’ve got groupie nightmares to look forward to.

As long as they were nightmares and not premonitions, she would deal with it.  And if they turned out to be premonitions…  Well, one of them had to die to get out of their private mafia, right?  She didn’t recall him specifying who.

“Jon?” she returned to the call at hand.  “He’ll still be goin’ on the tour.  The news that you might find regretful is that I’m going to be negotiatin’ his contract for him.  If I don’t step in, he might try and sell you the kids this time.”

Tony silently flipped her the bird, but she just flipped him one right back.

“I’ve spent four days with your kids, Lilah.  I wouldn’t take ‘em as a gift.”  The chuckle in her ear was gravelly.  “What’s your price, Kentucky?”

If it had been anybody but one of the Bongiovis, her mama bear claws might have emerged at the insult to her children.  However, she happened to know Jon was full of crap.  He was M.J.’s godfather and Matt was Lucas’s.  If something happened to Tony and Lilah, the brothers would take her kids in without hesitation.  Jon just liked to be an asshole from time to time.

Must be a Bongiovi thing.

“Well, for starters, you’re gonna have to pony up twice as much as you did last tour.”  Tony held up three fingers.  “Make that three times as much.”

“You people are extortionists,” he complained loudly.  “I could have your asses arrested for this kind of blackmail.”

“Then he’d be in jail and not on tour,” Lilah pointed out, not believing the empty threat.  “That’s counterproductive to what you want and you’re not goin’ to do it, so stop bein’ melodramatic.”

He might have just growled at her. 

“I think I’ll wait to hear the rest of your terms before I commit to anything.”

She snickered as Tony was mouthing “bonus”.  “Why Mr. Bongiovi, you are almost as smart as your brother.  I’m quite impressed.”

“Cut the Southern charm shit and get to the bottom line.”

“As you wish,” she murmured agreeably.  There were days when she enjoyed making the Bongiovi brothers cuss.  Today was Jon’s day.  “Three times the last tour paycheck, bonus at the end, and Patriots tickets for the rest of the season, plus season tickets for next year.  Good tickets, since you’ve brainwashed my son into thinkin’ Tom Brady is God’s illegitimate son.  Oh, and Lucas is gonna want to be meetin’ him and Gronk both.  And Micah Jane wants to meet Elsa.  I have no idea how you’re gonna pull that one off, but I’m sure you’ll figure somethin’ out.”

“Who the hell is Elsa?”

Lilah smirked into the phone. It was time for Uncle Jon to learn a little bit about Disney princesses, and she knew just how to remedy that.  “Ask Micah Jane.  She’ll tell you.”

She couldn’t make out all of what he muttered under his breath, but did pick out “pain in the ass” and “more trouble than it’s worth”.

“Is that your full list of demands?” he spoke clearly into the phone.  “Those are all doable, but there’s nothing on the list for you.  Don’t you want something out of this deal?  Hope Diamond, maybe?”

She lifted her left hand, admiring the smidgeon of white ink etched there before smiling affectionately at the Jersey boy between her legs. The one who was watching her with an amused affection that made her soul happy.

Jon had a lot of money and he knew a lot of people.  There were many, many things that he could – and maybe would – grant her if she asked, but she didn’t see much point.  She had her husband back, along with a guarantee that he would always be there.  She had two beautiful, if rowdy, children, and a home that she loved.  If she asked Tony, he would say she also had her swagger. 

Everything else was just stuff.  

“No, sir,” she demurred.  “I’ve already got more than I dreamed possible.  Askin’ for more would just be greedy."

And they lived... ever after


  1. Blush, glad to see you writing again. I thoroughly enjoyed this. A little laughter, a little grrr I wanna smack him and a bit of lovin' too. Perfect. Just perfect. :)

  2. I absolutely loved it!! It never fails that I find myself either smiling or calling a Bon Jovi brother an idiot when I read your stories. You are awesome my dear.