Richie stepped into Jon’s office, quickly closing the door behind him and took a step towards Jon’s desk but stopped quick when his eyes saw what was before him.
“Jesus Kid! You look like hell!”
Rolling his eyes Jon flipped Richie the bird and then motioned for him to sit. “Yeah Yeah Yeah, you’re not the first person that mentioned that today. Thanks!”
“Talking bout Nikki?” Richie took a seat in the chair across from Jon.
“Yea, how did you….?”
“She asked me if I knew what was up with you. She can see that something is eating at ya, and she said she’s worried.”
“And what the fuck did you tell her?”
Raising his hands up in defense, “Easy Kid. I told her that I didn’t know anything, but if I did it wasn’t my place to say. And then I told her that I would mention it to you about her being worried.”
Letting out a sigh, Jon placed his head in his hands, raking them through his hair. “I’m so fucking lost Rich. The kids are calling me and texting me like every five minutes asking me when I’m coming home. Dot is doing the same thing, saying that we need to talk. I got all these people asking for my time and money. I can’t fucking do this right now!”
“I agree with Dot, you need to talk to her.”
“ I don’t want to right now!! I can’t! I’m not ready to face this shit.”
“Jon, the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be. Especially for the kids. Trust me you don’t wanna do anything that could make this stuff worse for the kids.”
“No I don’t. Its just.. She’s talking about paternity tests, and that shit just isn’t right. She should know!!!”
Nikki was making her way back to her desk from her short walk when she heard a very frustrated Jon in his office. She’s talking about paternity tests, and that shit just isn’t right. She should know!! Nikki’s eyes widen, and mouth fell open slightly as she stopped in her tracks.
“Look, kid, I know its hard. But you gotta do it. Don’t you wanna know if its your kid or not?”
Jon shot his head up, “Of course I wanna fucking know! But that’s not the point. The point is, we shouldn’t have to be doing this! Dot should know if its my kid or not. She shouldn’t be questioning the matter! She’s my wife for fuck sakes!”
“Yea, but you’re no saint either Jon.”
“I know that! But at least I was always careful! I don’t have kids by anyone but her Rich. Steph, Jesse, Jake, Romeo.. Those are my ONLY kids.”
Richie let out a soft sigh and nodded his head. Just as he went to mention something else to Jon, he heard his cell phone ringing. Rolling his eyes, Jon reached for his phone and groaned as he answered it. “Hello?” Shaking his head he gave Richie a half apologetic, half annoyed look. Chuckling, Richie gave him one nod as he got up and paced the room.
“What!?! Who the fuck told you!?” Richie turned around to look at Jon whose jaw was tightened in anger. “You’re fucking kidding me!…. Unbelievable. Yea, I’ll come by later this week to talk to you. Thanks for calling Steve. Yea.. Talk to you later.” When Jon flipped his phone closed, he looked up at Richie shaking his head. “Dot’s already got the divorce papers started!”
“You’re kidding me!?”
“No! She called her lawyer and told him that she wanted the papers filed and he called up Steve. So Steve called me, not believing it. And now I have to fucking go in and see him later this week to start figuring shit out!”
Richie could see Jon’s eyes watering quickly and walked closer to his desk. When Jon lowered his head and put his hand up motioning for Richie to stop, Richie just stood there. He knew exactly what Jon was feeling at this moment, when he was questioned from a group of paparazzi about his divorce he was so taken aback and shocked that he had no idea what to do or say.
After a couple of hours of talking and calming Jon down, Richie said his goodbyes for the evening and left the office getting ready to head back to his hotel room. As he was walking by Nikki’s desk he told her goodbye. Seeing the look of shock and what seemed like sadness, Richie stopped.
“Hey you ok Darlin’?”
Nodding her head slightly, “Yea I’ll be ok.” After Nikki heard Jon mention Dot’s name and soon after ‘divorce’, she couldn’t believe it. She slowly and quickly got to her desk not wanting to hear anymore. She knew that it was wrong to have stood there and listened to Jon and Richie’s conversation, but it seemed as if she was frozen in place and forced to listen.
Richie stood there for a few moments, hesitating slightly his next move, but going for it in the end. “Hey, this may seem out of line. But you wanna go out for a drink? You kind of look like you could use one.” Nikki looked up at him with wide eyes. “I’m sorry, I had a feeling it was wrong to ask that. I’ll see ya later Nikki.” Waving his hand, Richie began to walk away from her desk. Shaking her head Nikki quickly stood up.
“Richie! Wait!!” Turning around Richie saw her gathering her things and walking towards him. “A drink would be wonderful.” With a half crooked grin, Richie motioned for Nikki to take the lead toward the exit. “Oh I should probably tell Jon I’m leaving. Be right back.”
Grabbing her arm as she tried to walk back to Jon’s office, Richie pulled her gently back towards him. “Nah, he’ll figure it out on his own. He mentioned leaving himself in just a few minutes. Don’t worry about it.”
“Oh. Ok. Well let’s go.”
About an hour later Richie and Nikki were sitting in a back booth at a small local bar, enjoying one another’s company. Taking the last sip of her Tequila Sunrise, Nikki looked at Richie curiously. She couldn’t get over just how amazing he really was. In the past hour she heard some stories from his childhood, some from the bands earlier days and she even learned a little about his daughter, whom she could tell by the way Richie talked about her had her daddy wrapped around her finger. In the short amount of time they had been talking she could see just how loving and caring he was of everyone around him and she really admired that.
“So do you still live in California or have you come back to the east coast?”
Motioning for another drink for both of them, Richie responded, “Well I still have my place in California, I stay there most of the time, especially when I have Ava. Heather likes to keep her close by.” Rolling his eyes. “But I just bought a place here in Philly, haven’t gotten any furniture in it yet, but it’s still a place ya know, for when we go to work on the next record and stuff, better then staying in hotels or at Jon’s or even my moms.” Chucking, Richie watched as Nikki took her drink from the waiter and took a small sip. He couldn’t get over how easy going she seemed to be. And how quickly he opened up to her with his personal life. All the guys were always so on edge on who to trust, but with her he just felt so comfortable and relaxed. He had a sense that he had nothing to hide with her, he could just be himself for once.
“Heather don’t like you bringing Ava over here? I bet Jon and his family would love to see her. You’re all close aren’t you?”
“Oh yea, Ava is like a niece or even sometimes a daughter to Jon. To all the guys actually. But Heather likes to be a bitch sometimes, especially after the divorce. I just hope Dot doesn’t…” Richie stopped mid sentence and had to keep himself from slapping himself in the face.
Nikki heard his slip and saw the look of regret on his face. “Richie, its ok.”
“Wh- what are you talking about Nikki?”
Looking directly into Richie’s eyes, “I know about Jon and Dot’s divorce.”