Jon tipped his face up in January’s decadent shower. The rain-esque showerhead gave up a steady downpour, soaking into his skin, into the muscles he’d used and abused the night before. Nights of marathon sex were far and few between for him these days.
It wasn’t like he didn’t want to have a fuck-a-thon, it just wasn’t in his schedule to do so. But he had to admit, he should do it more often...he felt loose, easy and refreshed for the first time since his Christmas break. The kids always revitalized him. London had sucked at him--too much press, too much spotlight, and too little time to really dig in and play husband and father.
And the only time he and Dottie got going like the days of his teen years, they both needed to be drunk and frisky. Lining up that kind of evening was worse than his tour schedule. And who the hell wanted to plan a fuck-fest anyway? It was the spontaneity that made it memorable.
And if he was honest, he couldn’t call what he’d had with January a simple bounce. There’d been an intimacy he’d missed. He’d learned long ago not to share too much. People always wanted something from him, people were always looking for an angle to work. He was sick of being on all the time.
January hadn’t given two fucks who he was. She’d simply wanted to enjoy another person. To push away the loneliness for a little while. And the demons she carried around weren’t even close to being released. He could feel it in the way she slept, the way she gave her body, but nothing of her mind. And still, he couldn’t pity this strong woman.
Drying off, he hooked the crazy purple towel at his hip and walked back into her room. Seamus gave a low growl. Protective to the end, he thought, dropping his hand to the wiry grey muzzle to let him sniff. He bumped his hand, allowed a quick scratch and dropped his head back to the carpet. “Are you sure you’re not female?” He mused and stepped over the small mountain.
January laughed into her pillow, her golden eyes peeking out from the snowy sheets and pillow she’d snuggled down into. Sunlight crept up the bed, little fingers of light chasing their way up her feet and calves that peeked out the bottom of her cocoon. The only thing he really knew about her was that she hated her feet covered in her sleep, kicking out in the night, no matter how cool it had gotten.
He sat down next to her, tucking a lock of her hair away and behind her ear. “Morning.”
“Barely,” she mumbled.
He reached for his phone on the floor in his jeans, snapping them out quickly and tossing them at the end of the bed. He flipped off the cover and cursed his inner body clock. It wasn’t even seven in the morning. Of course he was used to the hotel rooms and their blackout curtains. Sunlight meant morning to his body. And a house full of windows couldn’t be blocked.
He peered up at the cloudless sky that stretched above them like a limitless blue heaven. “I’d never get anything done, all I’d want to do is lay here and stare up.”
“Right,” she snickered.
“What?” He climbed over her and stretched out, his arms folded behind his head.
“You don’t know how to stay still and stare at nothing.”
Frowning, he turned to her. “How do you know?”
Disgusted that she seemed to read him pretty easily and she was such an enigma, he stared back up.
“I’m not sure why you get such a bug up your butt when I read you correctly.”
“You don’t know me and yet you’ve pretty much nailed every little thing down about me in less than 24 hours.”
“Nah,” she rolled over, laying her cheek on his chest. “Your face is just expressive. And I make my living on the nuances.”
“You seem like you don’t see many people,” he said gently.
“Oh, I don’t, but I’m a graphic artist. I have to show things on a face, set a mood, make people feel everything within a glance.”
“Would I know your work?”
“How old is your oldest kid?”
He hooked his arm around her, idly playing with the ends of her hair. “Seventeen, but she’s a girl. My eldest son is fifteen.”
“He’d probably know me. I write The Darkside.”
“Well, shit.” Jon laughed. Jesse was fairly obsessed with January Wilde’s graphic novels. To the point where he’d pretty much bribed everyone he knew to get copies of the artist’s back work. Most of it had been underground before she’d hit it big with-- “Violet.”
January grinned into his chest. “That’s my girl.”
“My son Jesse would kill to meet you. He’s always going on about how you never go to the comic-cons and no one has a picture of you...hell, I thought you were a guy.”
She sat up suddenly, clutching the sheet to her chest. “You can’t say anything.”
He sat up as well, his hand on her shoulder, thumb grazing over the smooth skin. “Relax, January. No one will know about this, or us.”
“No one can know who and where I am--no one.”
She trembled visibly and Jon hauled her back into his arms. She resisted, but he just held on tighter. Something violent had to have happened to her, there was nothing else in this life that could strike fear into a woman like that. Add in the scars and the secrets, and she was a bundle of fascinating loneliness. And as with the last time she’d had a little freak out, Seamus was up and in his face, standing over him on the bed.
The musical lilt to her tear clogged voice had the dog easing between them, his head on his mistress’s lap even with the low keen of doggie distress. “What is that you’re always saying to him?”
“It’s Gaelic. He was trained to only listen to my commands.”
Jon dropped his hand on the dog’s head, but the low growl had him sliding his hand away slowly. “Easy,” he said on a low, even tone.
And instantly the dog stopped growling. Evidently she was right about that. “I promise that no one will know where I’ve been. I don’t even have my GPS to show I’ve been here. The satellites wouldn’t pick me up.”
She leaned back on her pillow, still clutching the sheet close. “That was a fluke. We’re wide open spaces here.” She pointed up at the crystal clear blue sky above them. “Your GPS will work when you leave.”
He shifted until he could scoop her in close again. With a soft command the dog was back on the floor, though not at all happy about it. “It must have been the approaching storm.” She eased into him, but she wasn’t really there with him. She’d gone into whatever memories and demons haunted her. “Can you tell me what happened?”
“You don’t need to live with what happened to me. No one needs to imagine what happened, and even if you could try to understand--you don’t.”
Her voice was flat, even as she turned into him. Even as she climbed back onto his lap, he knew the soft and giving woman was gone. The peace he’d thought to find in her arms was only one of her facades. He touched her face, his thumb gliding over the impossibly high bones of her cheek. “All our life experiences change us, it’s up to you how you allow them to resonate.”
Her golden eyes shimmered with emotion, but no tears fell. “Be with me, one last time.”
If all he could give her was this, just a small measure of pleasure in her endless pain, that’s what he’d do. He wished he could give her more, wished that he had enough to give her more, but his family was his core and she needed more than he could give. But he would give her what he could, and hope it helped in some small way.
And as she took him inside her, as her smooth, pale skin and white silky hair curled around him, he watched her beautifully warm eyes go blind. It wasn’t slow, it wasn’t easy. He followed her lead, chasing her demons out as he filled her with something else for just a moment in time.
He clutched the printed directions, watching Seamus with wary eyes. His guitar case was by the door and the dog was waiting patiently beside it.
“I know I sound like a lunatic, but please don’t turn on your GPS.”
Brushing her bangs aside, he wished he knew what was going on in the lovely and haunted eyes staring up at him. Instead of asking questions she had no intention of answering, he nodded. He knew all too well what it was like to have people constantly thinking they were entitled to know everything there was to know about him. If she needed to keep her secrets to feel safe, he would abide by her wishes.
“I don’t mind doing things the old school way,” he said with a grin.
She pressed her hand to his chest. “I’m very glad you found me.” She looked down at her smudged hand on the cotton tanktop. He trapped her hand and she finally looked back up at him. “I never thought I’d say that.”
He brushed his nose along hers, then his cheek to hers—petal soft to stubble. “I didn’t come looking for you, but you were exactly what I needed.”
She stood on her tiptoes until their lips met. The kiss was soft and gentle. It was a goodbye kiss that was all giving, all open, and all the way honest. She cupped his face, tracing each line, each bone and ridge as if she was memorizing him. Her golden eyes were so sad.
He covered her hands one more time. “I hope you find what you need someday, January Wilde.”
She closed her eyes, one more kiss before she pulled back. That phantom smile flirted with her lips, her swan white eyebrow quirked and the woman that had lured him into her steel and glass fortress was there again. The sadness buried under some impregnable force of will.
And as he loaded his guitar into the car, he looked back at the steel door with their sunshine sentries. In the shadows she stood, a woman and her warrior dog.
That night, the wind kicked up and he signaled his brother for an audible extra to the setlist just before the encore. And to a Canadian crowd he and Richie sang Wild Horses under a single spotlight.