Cast of Characters

Erin Sullivan

Jon Bon Jovi

Max Phillips

Tawna ('T') Peterson

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chapter Ten

“You’re an idiot,” Richie Sambora proclaimed, watching Jon as he took a pull from his beer.

They were sitting at Jon’s massive dining room table on Sunday afternoon, and Jon had just confessed where he had been on Friday night. Despite their notorious rock star image, both of them had slowed their roll when it came to picking up women so quickly, and Richie was surprised that his friend had been so impulsive recently.

Jon swallowed and grinned. “Hey now…I know what I’m doing.”

“Bullshit,” Richie snorted. “Sex on the second date? Wait, no, the first date, because you had just met a week before…on an airplane,” he shook his head. “Dude, this ain’t the eighties.”

“I know,” Jon cringed. “I know. But damn, Rich, she’s something else. Gorgeous. Easy-going. Confident. And sexy as hell. I couldn’t help myself.”

“Jon, if I had a quarter for every gorgeous, easy-going, confident, sexy-as-hell woman I’d ever met, that tower in New York would have my name on it, not Trump’s. Women are seductive creatures – you and I both know that. You gotta be careful.”

Jon furrowed his brow. “I know that, Rich. You’re no saint either, you know.”

Richie waved his hand apologetically. “I know, I know. Sorry man. I’m just wary, that’s all.”

Jon saw a trace of pain flicker briefly in his friend’s eyes and he sighed. He understood Richie’s hesitance – the mere subject of women held a dark and painful past for the guitarist.

Richie tilted the beer bottle to his lips and swallowed, considering Jon silently. “So where are you going with this? Are you seeing her again?”

Jon nodded. “Friday night, unless she backs out on me.”


They sat in silence before Jon spoke.

“Look man,” he looked at his friend seriously. “I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m not thinking here, I know that. I’m feeling. But Erin’s a fantastic woman and I’d like to get to know her better.”

Richie snorted again. “You mean, better than you’ve already gotten to know her?”

Jon made a face and grinned. “Shut up.”


Clothes were flying from Erin’s bedroom closet, landing on the bed or floor when Tawna arrived at six o’clock Friday night. Erin had called her over, asking for her help in deciding what to wear for a nice dinner out – though she made it sound like a business dinner on the phone – and she had come straight from work, letting herself in through the unlocked door when Erin didn't answer.

Erin had finished up at the office early that afternoon, after working her ass off all day to get through the mounds of paperwork piling up on her desk: Jon would be at her house at seven.

“So why did you need my help again?” Tawna asked inquisitively as she watched outfits still on their hangers land on the ruffled covers of Erin’s bed.

Erin popped her head out of the closet. “Oh good, you’re here. Quick, tell me,” she held up a black cashmere and cream skirt. “Classy and semi-elegant, or…” she held up an over-sized sweatshirt and sleek black leggings. “Cute and casual?”

Tawna looked at her, confused. “For a business dinner?”

Erin hesitated before turning back to the closet. “Yeah…” she replied, inadvertently leaving the answer hanging in the air.

Tawna eyed the clothes on the bed. “Well, definitely not cute and casual…for a business dinner. Classy and semi-elegant would be the better choice out of those two, although a pantsuit would probably be the way to go…if you really want to look professional.” She emphasized the last part, trying to drop a hint.

Erin emerged from the closet carrying a white turtleneck sweater and brown button-up scoop neck with a lace-up tie at the chest. She held them up and looked at Tawna without a word.

Tawna raised an eyebrow, her dark brown eyes searching. “Turtleneck; it's more professional,” she said plainly, trying to get Erin to ‘fess up on where she was really going.

Erin nodded and returned the sweater to the closet, setting the brown top off to the side.

“Okay seriously,” Tawna raised her eyes to the ceiling. “What’s going on?”

Erin continued rummaging through her dresser drawers before she produced a long pair of dark jeans, with simple brown accents on the butt and waist that perfectly matched the top. She set the two aside and eyed them before looking away, satisfied.

She looked at Tawna now, finally pausing enough to get a good look at her. Her thick black hair was done up in a classy bun and she was still in her work clothes. She wore a creme-colored scarf and a sophisticated tan suede coat over them though, which accentuated her chocolate skin beautifully.

Erin took a deep breath. “It’s not a business dinner, T.”

Tawna gasped in mock surprise. “No shit.”

Erin smiled. “It’s a date,” she admitted sheepishly, speaking in the tone of one who’d just been caught red-handed. “And it’s not with Max.”

Tawna sat down on the end of the bed. “I kinda figured. You don’t go through this much trouble trying to figure out what to wear for him.”

Erin looked at her pointedly. She knew Tawna wasn’t fond of Max – and both could tell he wasn’t too terribly fond of her either. Tawna called him an overbearing control freak; Max said she “concerned him.” Erin tended to side with Tawna once in awhile, but she still stuck by Max for the most part and insisted Tawna be nice.

But even despite her dislike for him, Erin was surprised Tawna seemed so casual about the fact that she was doing this behind Max’s back.

“And…that’s all you’re going to say?” Erin urged.

“What is there to say?” Tawna looked at her friend. “Obviously it’s too late to talk you out of it; all I can do is point out that you’re cheating and hope that you do something about it fast.”

Erin grimaced. “I hope so too. This isn’t even the worst of it,” she closed her eyes. “It’s not our first date…”

Tawna raised her eyebrows. “Well, that’s a pisser. Makes things harder to explain when the time comes…”

Erin felt like shrinking into a hole. “And, um, well, it’s not exactly innocent either…”

Tawna looked at Erin with a look that clearly said she hoped that didn’t mean what she thought it meant. Erin blushed.

“Aw shit, honey,” Tawna threw up her hands. “You slept with the guy? Erin…”

“I know, I know, it’s horrible.” Erin sat down on the bed and hid her face in her hands. “I’ve been troubled by it all week. But T, if you knew…”

“What, is he a god in bed or something?”

Erin looked away. “Well…”

“Do I know the guy?”

Erin’s eyes widened. “Well…” she said, now laughing nervously.

Tawna set her mouth in a line, the way she always did when she was about to ask a deadly question. “Erin,” she said solemnly. “Who is it?”

Erin paused. “Well…his name’s Jon.”

“Uh-huh,” Tawna said, waiting for her to go on.

Erin cleared her throat. “Jon – ah, Jon Bon Jovi.”

Tawna raised an eyebrow, her mouth slightly open. “Excuse me?”

Erin smiled. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. We met on the plane home from San Diego and he struck up a conversation and…well, it’s all downhill from there.”

Tawna’s expression was unchanged. “Uh-huh,” she said again. “Okay. You banged Jon Bon Jovi after meeting him on a plane home from San Diego and now you’re cheating on Max with him?”

Despite the seriousness of T’s observation, Erin burst out laughing. It was true, yes, but it just all sounded so ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh. The gravity of the situation wasn’t funny, but the circumstances certainly were.

“Yep, pretty much!” she giggled madly.

Tawna stared at her.

“Okay, how hard have you been working? Did you have anything to drink tonight?” she stood up and began searching for empty bottles around Erin’s bed. Erin leaned over and grabbed her hand, stopping her.

“No,” she laughed. “I haven’t been drinking, I worked a normal week, and I’m perfectly sane. Well, okay, the last part is up for some debate, but I swear to you on the Holy Book that I am not lying. I was in first class on the plane home from San Diego, Jon was on the flight and happened to have the seat next to me – we struck up a conversation over a glass of wine and continued talking the whole way home. He helped me get my lost luggage back, gave me a ride home in his limo, and then we went our separate ways. But then later that week I ran into him at the Starbucks down the street from my office, we both thought it was too much of fate stepping in to ignore it, so he took me to dinner, drove me home…and ended up staying…for the whole night,” she blushed again.

Tawna shook her head. “You’re an idiot,” she proclaimed. “And I say that with the utmost in love.”

Erin laughed softly. “No, I am an idiot. And I feel awful for being the woman who’s done this sort of thing. I never thought I’d do this to Max. I certainly never planned to.”

“I doubt anyone plans to, honey,” Tawna replied gently. “Seriously, though. Jon? Bon Jovi? The fucking hot singer with the baby blue eyes and fluffy blond hair, the ridiculously gorgeous smile that could kill, and a great ass?”

Erin grinned. “That’s the one.”

Tawna shook her head. “I must be the one drinking. This is insane.”

“Trust me, I’ve just recently swallowed the reality of it.”

Tawna blinked several times, as if trying to absorb it herself. “Right, okay – so Jon Bon Jovi. In his case, no one blames you for your moment of stupidity. That man makes any woman want to cheat.”

“I know,” Erin smiled. “But it doesn’t make it any easier that Max has been driving me up the wall lately.”

“There’s a surprise. The man’s got you on a leash, Erin, I’ve told you that before,” Tawna looked at Erin pointedly.

“No, he doesn’t,” Erin rolled her eyes. “He just…cares too much, that’s all.”

“Bullshit,” Tawna shook her head. “You know that’s bullshit. He controls your every move.”

“Not true,” Erin protested. “He doesn’t know about Jon, remember.”

“Sure about that?” Tawna raised an eyebrow, and the question made Erin’s blood run cold.

“Fuck,” she sighed. “T, you’ve gotta help me. I don’t know what to do.”

“You need to talk to Max,” Tawna said. “I know that’s the last thing you want to do, but if you’re getting tired of him and things aren’t that great between you two anymore – not to mention you’ve already moved on to someone else – you need to be civil and end things smoothly with him. Even if he’s a slimeball, he deserves that much.”

Erin sighed. “I know…I know I need to do that. I just don’t know how.”

“Well, we’ll figure out something. But for right now, you need to get ready for a date – even if it is going against everything I just told you to do.”

Erin grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, no kidding.”

“Just try to keep your hormones in check, okay?” Tawna said as she tossed the brown top to her. “Having sex with the man again is only going to complicate things further. Keep it tasteful for now – try not to even think about him in that way.”

Erin smirked. “Do you remember who we’re talking about here?”

Tawna nodded. “Yes, I do. And my solution is that I’ll handle Jon while you fix things with Max. You go off and be civil, and I’ll have sex with the rock star.”

Erin burst out laughing again. “Um, no. After we figure out what I’m wearing, you’re leaving. Something tells me things will get even more complicated if you meet the man.”

Tawna opened her mouth in protest. “Hey! Come on, Erin, you can’t tell me you’re involved with Jon Bon Jovi of all people and then send me away just before he arrives at your house!”

“Watch me,” Erin winked. “You can meet him later.”

Tawna huffed. “Fine. But I’m only doing this because I love you. You need to focus on the problem at hand here; you don’t need another person around. Even if it kills me to leave when he’ll be here in an hour…”

Erin smiled. “Thanks, T. Okay, I can do this. I’ll be good until I officially break things off with Max. I’m strong. I have willpower. I have resolve.”

An hour later, Tawna had left and Erin was finishing up her makeup just as the doorbell rang. She calmly descended the staircase and checked her appearance casually in the mirror before she answered the door.

As the door opened to reveal Jon on the threshold, Erin’s heart skipped a beat. He looked so sexy standing there, dressed in form-fitting jeans that hugged his muscular legs and a white top that clung to his rock-hard abs - with the top buttons undone, a black jacket slung casually over the ensemble to provide just enough formality that it seemed sinful to think of him in any other way besides a gentleman.

“Hey beautiful,” he smiled his megawatt smile at her while his blue eyes danced. “You look great. Ready to go?”

Damn it. Erin sucked in a breath as she felt all her resolve melt away.

She was doomed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chapter Nine

The rest of the weekend passed uneventfully, and Erin forced herself to focus at work on Monday, trying to make up for time lost from her rescheduled meeting with her boss. Try as she might, however, her mind kept wandering to Friday night.

She caught herself smiling at random times – in the bathroom, at the coffee machine, at the copier. She hoped no one else noticed; she hadn’t the faintest idea what she’d tell them if they asked what she was thinking about.

She stopped smiling, however, when her phone rang that night and the screen showed Max calling. She groaned. He had been out of town that weekend for a short business trip; he had left Saturday morning and gotten home late Sunday evening, so they hadn’t talked since last week. She was grateful too, for she was nervous about talking to him after the events of her weekend.

She flipped open the phone and did her best to sound normal.

“Hello,” she answered.

“Hey sweets,” Max’s sticky voice replied. “Long time, no talk.”

Erin rolled her eyes, but forced her voice to convey some emotion. “Hey Max, how was your trip?”

“Oh fine, but it would have been better if you were there. I had a hotel room and a big bed all to myself – plenty of room for you.”

Erin forced a small laugh. “Sounds nice. Did you get a lot done?”

“Definitely, we made a lot of progress. But I missed you. How was your weekend?”

“Oh, you know,” Erin looked up at the ceiling. “Boring.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Max cooed. “Did you go anywhere?”


“Nope,” Erin said, truthfully. “I spent Saturday and Sunday here.”

“Did you do anything special Friday night? Have anyone over?”

Erin’s heart stopped. “What?” she asked, suddenly unable to breathe.

“Friday night,” Max repeated. “Did you invite a friend over or something?”


“N-no,” Erin stammered, closing her eyes and trying to stay calm. “I was here alone, why?” Shit shit shit.

Max paused. “Just wondering. Sometimes you hang out with your friends on Friday nights.”

Erin inhaled deeply. “Oh, nope. No friends this weekend.”

“That’s too bad,” Max said, his voice unreadable.

“Nah…” Erin closed her eyes and chided herself. Calm down. It was a legitimate question. You’re just paranoid.

“So what did you do with yourself all weekend?”

Erin raised an eyebrow. With myself? Nothing. With a famous rock star, however…

“Not much,” she answered, fighting to keep her voice neutral. The last thing she wanted was an FBI interrogation from Max. “Just, you know, relaxed and caught up on some sleep. It was nice.”

“Well, that’s good,” Max replied in the same unreadable tone.

“So tell me more about your trip,” Erin prodded, trying to swerve the conversation in the opposite direction.

They talked for another twenty minutes before Erin forced a yawn and casually mentioned she should get to bed. Max agreed that she needed a good night’s sleep, and told her he loved her twice before hanging up.

Erin climbed the stairs slowly, lost in thought. That one phone call had triggered a myriad of conflicted feelings, and Erin was forced to more closely examine the predicament she had gotten herself into.

She was in a relationship with Max. Had been for six months. She had never thought they would last forever, but she certainly never thought she’d cheat on him. She wasn’t that type of woman.

But she had cheated on him. Recently. While he’d been out of town. With a man - a rock star, moreover – whom she had just met barely a week earlier.

What was worse, she had another date with that rock star this weekend.

Erin groaned. When she thought of it that way, it sounded so sleazy.

For the first time since Friday night, she felt like a tramp. She angrily changed into her pajamas and flopped down into bed, realizing she had to do something. Soon.

Despite her faltering feelings for Max, she had still been irresponsible in allowing Jon’s – and her – emotions to take control that night, as they had led to a night of purely physical infidelity.

But was it purely physical? Erin wondered as she stared up at the dark ceiling. Had it merely been a night of satisfying their cravings of lust, and nothing more?

Try as she might, Erin couldn’t believe that. Aside from the intensity of their night together, there was something deeper stirring beneath the surface. It wasn’t just the sex.

Truthfully, if Erin had it her way, she’d break things off with Max gently and go to Jon. But she knew it wasn’t fair to him – it wasn’t Max’s fault he couldn’t measure up to Jon’s sex appeal and near GOD status. And what would she tell him anyway? It’s not you, it’s me?

Aside from being so cliché it was cringe-worthy, it was also a lie.

Regardless, the fact remained that two men had claims on her now, and neither knew about the other.

Max knew nothing of Jon.

And Jon knew nothing of Max, because Erin had told him what seemed at the time a harmless and small lie. As far as Jon was concerned, she was single and free for the taking.

Max thought she was all his.

If things continued, Jon would think that soon, too.

Erin was lying to both of them.


Erin shut her eyes tightly, wanting to block out the blinding truth, but it kept gnawing at her conscience, like a paper had been pasted over her eyes reminding her constantly of what she’d done.

Tomorrow she’d set things right. She’d do something. She’d explain things in a way that wouldn’t hurt anyone.

But how?

With a heavy sigh, Erin closed her eyes and rolled over.

Twenty minutes later, she fell into a fitful sleep.


Across town, however, Max was still up, sitting at his kitchen table where he had called Erin earlier. He was gazing outside, lost in thought about their conversation.

He wondered why she had lied to him. He knew she had had company on Friday night – he had seen the Aston Martin parked in front of her house when he had driven by to check on her. He had assumed it was a coworker or business partner, judging by the expensive wheels. Why would she try to hide that from him?

The question unsettled him, making him think it hadn’t been someone from work after all. But he knew none of her other friends had the money for a car like that. Tawna was really the only one who would have visited anyway, and she certainly couldn’t afford a ride like that. Erin didn’t have too many other friends here; since the day she moved here she had kept herself busy working, and Max was really the only one she socialized with.

He was all she needed, anyway. Erin was the type of woman who needed someone true and loyal in her life, a dependable anchor who’d be there for her whenever she needed him; she was one of those people who needed the few and true instead of many and shallow.

Max was her few and true.

He knew from the moment he met her that she was special and in need of his devotion. A California girl who’d up and left her home and dropped in on East Coast life, she was a black sheep among New Jersey natives. Max had met her about a week after she moved into her townhouse, and was intrigued by her seemingly shy, quiet nature and dedicated devotion to her work. She was a self-proclaimed workaholic, but though she worked long hours with seriousness and focus there was no denying she was a woman of deep passion. She was wildly sexy, beautiful, and obviously attractive to nearly every man she passed on the streets, whether she took notice of their stares or not.

Max was instantly drawn to her. Her drive and focus set her apart from other women he knew, mostly lazy drifters who spent their time partying and clubbing, working lousy office day jobs with no clear incentive or purpose in life. Those women were gluttonous, wasting the resources they’d been given in this world to make something of themselves.

Erin was hard-working, embedded in a company and career that provided considerable room for growth and advancement; she could climb the corporate ladder easily. She was independent, economically self-sufficient, and ambitious.

In a word, perfect.

Their first date had been the product of a well-thought-out and rehearsed speech Max had prepared, lavishing upon her compliments and praise for her excellent standing in the throes of the world. Erin had been childishly flattered and laughed quite a bit, which Max at first took to be insulting. His impeding anger quickly subsided, however, when she accepted his date proposal and he treated her to a luxurious dinner on the boardwalk. He forgave her initial resistance; after all, she was a woman in need of his assistance.

Though she was skilled in working and career development, she seemed to lack the basic principles of sociality and emotionality that provided the basic cornerstones for a life beyond making a day-to-day economic living. He quickly saw that she required his constant presence in her life, and he took it upon himself to provide. She was only a half, after all, seeking the other part to complete her and steady her.

Max was that other half. He knew she was what he had been looking for all his life, and he took his newly assumed responsibility very seriously. He made sure to stay critically informed on all aspects of her life: her likes and dislikes, hobbies and pastimes, her address and phone number and office location. He memorized her daily routine so he’d know where she’d be in case of an emergency, and he learned everything he could about her childhood and family, as those were essential components in what made her who she was today.

He allowed her to spend time with Tawna, a friend she’d made at a country club she joined to meet people when she first moved here. He had persuaded her to leave the club, however, since she didn’t need the distraction and obligation of meetings and social events; he provided all the socializing she really needed. Tawna had stayed in the picture even after Erin left, however, to Max’s chagrin. He didn’t particularly like the woman – she was by general definition the type of partying life-waster he so despised – but she and Erin had formed a fairly close relationship and got along great, so Max let her hang around.

Besides, she made Erin happy, and anything that made her truly happy made Max happy. He’d show her eventually that she didn’t need Tawna, though, but for now she could have her fun.

From that first date the rest seemed to be blissful history, and they had now spent six months together. Though Erin was often absorbed in her work and therefore at times distant or preoccupied, too tired to spend much romantic time with him, she was faithful and loyal.

As she should be.

But then who had been parked outside her house Friday night?

She wasn’t the type of woman to play him; he was far cleverer and sharper than she was anyway. She was dangerously vulnerable, however, and Max had recognized early on that she was someone who required extra and undivided attention. Her intense focus on work sometimes gave her tunnel vision and she’d been distracted quite a bit in the past several weeks. There was no telling what kinds of problems she had the potential to get herself into.

Max sighed. This recent mystery only told him that she needed further protection, an even closer eye on her whenever possible. He obviously couldn’t rely on her to let him know what was going on in her life.

He had to find out for himself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

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