“Dammit, who’s been in my office? How many times do I have to tell everyone not to touch my desk?!” Jon’s bellow echoed down the hallway.
Stephanie glanced at her stepmother and rolled her eyes. Lindsay shook her head and started to smile until she heard a whimper behind her. Turning, she saw Kristen’s bottom lip start to quiver and her blue eyes fill with tears. The two year old didn’t like to hear her daddy’s voice raised in anger. Her mother quickly picked her up and cuddled her close. “Sssh, sweetie, it’s okay. Daddy’s not mad at you.”
“Do you want me to go see what the problem is?” Steph offered.
“No, it’s okay thanks Steph, I’ll go. I need to talk to him anyway. Will you keep an eye on the twins for me?”
“Sure.” She held her arms out for Kristen, set her on the floor beside Luke, then sat between the twins and proceeded to help them pile blocks into towers, grinning at their giggles when they fell over.
Lindsay smiled as she watched them, then sighed and turned to go deal with their father. Standing in the doorway to his office, she watched him rifle through the piles of paper on his desk, muttering to himself and cursing when a pile fell over.
“Dammit!” He picked up a book and threw it across the room in frustration.
Lindsay walked over, picked up the book and inspected it for damage. Lifting her gaze to her husband’s, she raised a brow.
“Sorry.” He raked a hand through his hair.
She approached the desk carefully. “What are you looking for? Maybe I can help.”
“A blue file folder with some prospective projects for the Foundation. I just had it yesterday.”
She lifted his notebook and daytimer, revealing the folder underneath. “You mean this one?”
He sighed. “Yes. Thank you.”
Lindsay walked around the desk and stopped beside his chair. Her hand rose to play with the hair at the nape of his neck. “Honey what’s bothering you?” She had a pretty good idea – she’d caught him staring at his reflection in the mirror that morning.
He shrugged. “Just have a lot of work to do.”
The fingers playing with his hair wrapped around several strands and tugged. “Don’t. Talk to me Jon.”
He grimaced, picked up a pen and ‘walked’ it across his fingers, his gaze drifting out the window. She kept silent and waited for him to open up. Finally he leaned back and looked up at her. “I feel… old. My life is probably more half over, and what have I accomplished?”
She stared at him in amazement. “You’re joking right?” When he shrugged she leaned against the desk – it was either that or fall over. “Oh come on Jon, you can’t be serious!”
“Why can’t I? I always swore that I was going to make a difference in the world, but other than a few songs and donating some money to charity, compared to so many others, what have I done with my life?”
“Wow! I don’t even know where to start. How about with the joy, and hope and strength you have brought to millions of people all over the world with your music – and it’s more than a ‘few songs’ by the way. You’ve brought people together from different countries and different cultures and shown that no matter where we come from, we’re not all that different. We all have the same hopes and dreams and fears. And I could show you quite a few families in New Orleans that would be more than happy to tell you what a difference you’ve made in their lives! You started with a wish to give a few in need a hand up and have built a charitable foundation that has helped thousands. How about the families that now have homes because of your work with Habitat? What kind of a difference do you think you’ve made in their lives?”
“But compared to what I’ve been given, is it enough?”
Her heart swelled with her love for this humble, caring man. “You can’t change the world single handed Jon. You’ve done – and continue to do as much as one man can. Yes, you’ve lived a life most men only dream of. You’ve succeeded at a job that you love, you work with your best friends, you’ve provided very well for your family, you have six beautiful children who love you, and you’ve been able to make your dreams – as well as those of many others - come true, but you’ve never taken it for granted and you’ve given back and helped were you could. You’re a good man Jon.”
Lindsay studied his face, trying to figure out what had brought on this self-doubt in a man normally oozing self-confidence. It was so rare for him to show – even to her – his vulnerable side. “Is there something you wanted to do and haven’t yet?”
“You mean besides own an NFL team?”
She chuckled. “Yes, besides that?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Not really I guess.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I just feel…I don’t know….like it’s all coming to an end.”
“What, because you’re 48? Do you think your life is over?”
He shrugged again. “I don’t know….the productive years anyway.”
“Really. So you’re washed up and done then, eh? Not fit to do anything but sit in your armchair and regale anyone who’ll listen with stories of the glory days?” Another shrug. “Oh honey, how can I make you see how much you still have to offer? How far from being ‘done’ you are?” She paused. “Are you still producing albums every couple of years?” She waited until he reluctantly nodded. “And are they still successful?” He nodded again. “Are you still able to perform hundred show tours with almost the same energy as you did twenty years ago?” Another nod. “How many artists – particularly bands – can say that after twenty-five years? Shit, how many even last twenty-five years?” Movement at the corner of her eye had her glancing out the window to see Jesse, Jake and Romeo throwing around a football. They had moved back to the estate on the Navesink when the twins had started walking. Jon wanted them to have a safe place and the room to run and play, and the loft in the city couldn’t provide that. “Are you still able to throw a ball around with your sons?” This time the nod was accompanied by a smile as he too watched the boys. “And play ‘master builder’ with your twins, and be the supportive sounding board your oldest daughter needs?” She lowered her voice. “Are you still capable of making love to your wife?”
His head jerked towards her. A grin spreading across his face, he reached out and pulled her onto his lap. “Judging by the scratch marks on my back and the noises you were making last night – and this morning, I’d say yes.”
Her chuckle was more like a deep purr. Leaning forward, she kissed him softly, her tongue coming out to trace his lips, sliding between them when he opened for her to taste him, luring his tongue to return the favour and sucking him deep. A low moan reverberated in his chest as his arms crushed her against him. After several minutes she eased back. “Then honey, what else could you possibly want?”
He leaned his forehead against hers. “A kick in the ass for being so stupid. Thanks. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I love you.”
She smiled and raised one hand to stroke his cheek. “I’ll always try to give you what you need. I love you too.”
Jon felt a tug on his pantleg. “Daddy no mad?”
He looked down into fearful blue eyes so like his own, and glanced at Lindsay. “She heard you yelling earlier and was upset that you were angry.” She murmured.
Reaching down, he lifted his youngest onto his –or rather her mother’s – lap, hugged her and kissed her rosy cheek. “No sweetpea, Daddy’s not mad.”
Kristen laughed, patted his cheek and snuggled back against him. Lindsay smiled and smoothed their daughter’s blonde hair back from her eyes.
“See Daddy!” Luke’s strident tones could be heard from the hallway.
“Wait a minute munchkin, we have to find Kristen first.” Stephanie sounded a little harried.
“Me see Daddy NOW!!”
“Luke! Come back here!”
Kristen looked up at her parents. “Uke tomin.”
Lindsay chuckled. “Yes honey, it sounds like Luke’s coming.”
The toddler turned her head towards the open doorway. “UKE! UKE! Here! Daddy here!
“Daddy!” Luke came barrelling in as fast as his little legs would carry him, his big sister chasing behind.
“Luke, slow down before you hurt yourself!”
Jon put one hand over the side of the chair to catch his son before he smacked his head. “Easy there partner.”
Stephanie picked him up and plunked him beside his twin. “There. They’re all yours for awhile. I’m going to help Mrs. Henderson with dinner.” A little out of breath she gave her stepmother a look of awe. “I don’t know how you keep up with them. They keep going in opposite directions, and for munchkins, they’re fast!”
Lindsay laughed. “I know. Some days I think it would have been less tiring to have gone back to work.”
“Daddy!” Luke patted his father’s cheek in a bid for his attention.
“Daddy cake day?”
“Yes, it’s Daddy’s cake day.” Jon grinned at him.
The twins exchanged a look, then both raised hopeful faces to him. “Me have?”
The unison had both Jon and Lindsay blinking. “Yes, you can have some.” Jon assured them.
“After you eat your dinner.” Lindsay added.
As Jon took his seat at the dinner table he looked around at his family and realized once again how blessed he truly was. He met his wife’s gaze and smiled sheepishly. She winked at him. They all sang Happy Birthday as Lindsay carried in the cake, and the twins – and Romeo helped him blow out the candles.
Setting his piece in front of him, Lindsay leaned in to murmur in his ear. “If it makes you feel any better, remember, Richie’s over 50.” He laughed.
After one last check on the kids, Lindsay climbed into bed beside her husband. Laying half on him, she reached up and kissed him. “Feel better?” She gasped and let out a small squeal when, with a quick move, he rolled her beneath him.
“Yes, and I’m planning on feeling even better yet before my birthday’s over.”
She glanced at the clock, a slow smile curving her lips as she realized they had plenty of time before midnight. Sliding her arms around his neck, she pulled him down until their lips met. While their mouths mated, Jon’s hands roamed her body, lingering on her sensitive spots, until her blood was humming in her veins, her skin felt on fire, and she had to break the kiss to gasp for breath. His mouth then followed the path his hands had traced moments earlier. Her back arched and she cried out when he took one hard nipple between his lips and suckled. Releasing it, he moved to give its sister the same treatment. He spent long minutes ministering to her breasts, caressing the smooth skin and teasing the stiff peaks until they throbbed.
“Jon.” She made his name a plea.
He trailed open mouth kisses over her abdomen, tracing his tongue along the few stretch marks the twins had left there. She didn’t like them, but to him they were simply signs of motherhood, like medals of valour for what she endured to bring his children into the world. Spreading her thighs wide he bent to taste her.
“Sweet, so sweet.”
“Jon, please! I need you now.” She tugged on his shoulders.
He ignored her and continued to feast, lapping at her moist flesh and thrusting his tongue as deep as it would go. When he sensed she was on the brink, he took her pulsing nub between his teeth and sucked. Hard. She bit the pillow so that her scream wouldn’t wake the children. Spasms were still racking her body when he slid up and buried his hardness in her welcoming sheath.
“Oh! Mmmmm. Yes, Jon, yes!”
He rode her slowly, deeply, their bodies moving together like they always did. Even after all their years together, this never got old, never got boring. They knew just how to touch each other and where to get the maximum sensation, maximum pleasure. Her nails dug into his back as they crested together, the fisting of her slick channel around him breaking through his control, and with a muffled shout he exploded deep inside her.
They laid there, her body cradling his, her hands stroking his back, until their breathing returned to normal.
“No doubt about it honey, you definitely give as good as you get! Even better!”
He chuckled and kissed her neck. “Thank you. You’re pretty damn good in the giving department yourself.”
With a deep breath, he withdrew from her body and rolled onto his back, urging her to follow and curl up in his arms. His hands rubbing along her back and arm. One hand lifted her chin until he could see her eyes. “I mean it sugar. Thank you. For….everything.”
She smiled. He didn’t have to explain. She knew what he meant. “You’re welcome. Happy Birthday.”
He kissed her once more, then, more at peace than he’d been all day, he drifted off to sleep.