Jane woke in the morning with a slight headache and a terribly dry mouth. Her headache only got worse when she noticed the time.
She had to be ready to go in less than an hour, and all she wanted to do was sleep.
It had been nearly 3am when she got back to her room the night before, and hours passed before she actually closed her eyes.
So many things were running through her head; from the wedding rehearsal to the actual wedding, to her kids, to Richie... Richie. She regretted saying yes to dinner.
This is torture.
Last night she'd thought, for a moment, that maybe they could just pick up where they'd left off.
Wouldn't that be nice?
But in the end, practical reasoning won out, and she lay tossing and turning all night thinking of how to tell him. They'd said goodbye three times in their life; each time more heartbreaking than the last, and as much as she still wanted to be with him, she couldn't put herself through that inevitable heartbreak again.
The phone rang just as Jane had rolled out of bed. "Hello?" ... she answered.
"Ms. Wylde? Yes, there's a gentleman down here looking for you, shall I send him up?"
Already? It's not even half-past yet!
"Y-yeah, yes, tell him to go slow."
Jane put the phone down and rushed over to her suitcase, frantically digging through it for something nice to wear.
She didn't have anything nice. All she had was a couple of cocktail dresses, a pair of jeans and a white blouse.
Green cocktail dress it is.
It was nice, just not the kind of nice she was looking for. She must have overlooked the appropriate outfit when she was packing.
With that all in order, she lay it out on her bed and went to get in the shower, hoping he would give her at least ten minutes to get ready.
No such luck.
She'd hardly even put one foot in the shower before there was a knock on the door. "Just a sec," she yelled as she hurriedly put her clothes back on. She rushed to the door and opened it, gasping when she saw who was on the other side.
"Now that I know where you are, you can't get away," he said.
"Hey," he smiled and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "You expecting someone else?"
"I am, as a matter of fact. What are you doing here?" ... she asked, noting it was quite early for him to be up. From what she remembered anyway.
"Well," he began as he stepped inside and shut the door behind him. "I didn't get a wink of sleep last night, so I thought I'd come straight to the source of the problem."
The more he spoke, the more guilty Jane felt for what she was planning on telling him. "Listen, Rich... there's something we need to talk about..." She bit her bottom lip when she realized she didn't have the courage to. "But right now's not really a good time."
Richie frowned at those words, and even moreso when he saw the dress laid out on the bed. "Who are you expecting?"
"Just an old friend," she replied as she disappeared into the bathroom, trying to hide.
"A guy?" ... he asked accusingly.
Jane cocked a brow and poked her head out the door. "Are you jealous?"
"Absolutely," he said without missing a beat. "Should I be?"
Jane crossed her arms and stood in the doorway, contemplating saying yes. Maybe then she wouldn't have to bother telling him the truth later on. "Remember Gabe?"
"Gabe? That greasy dog? Vaguely."
She smirked, "And Melody?"
"Her I remember," he said with a grin, to which Jane shook her head.
"They're getting married."
Richie just about choked on his own breath at hearing that. "Are you shittin' me? Jesus, they're perfect for each other."
"Quite perfect. So that's where I'm going. Gabe should be here soon."
"You're going to a wedding?"
"Brunch, with the wedding party. I'm dreading it, but..."
"So don't go."
"I have to, I'm the maid of honor."
Richie's face screwed up into a look of disgust and disbelief. "You can't be serious."
"I'm dead serious. She practically begged me. She's annoying enough when she's happy; imagine her when she's not getting her way."
"I'd rather not," he quipped.
Jane chuckled, "So I have to get in the shower now."
"So... you should probably go now."
Richie pouted, "I can't stay?"
"You could but I'd be locking the bathroom door."
Jane was about to argue when she decided she had no time. She threw her hands up in the air and locked herself in the bathroom, leaving a satisfied smile on Richie's face.
Five minutes later the door cracked open and Jane popped her head out. "Richie?" ... she called. "You still here?"
"I'm still here."
"Co-could you pass me my..."
Richie smiled to himself. He knew what she wanted before she'd spoken. She'd left her clothes on the bed when she got in the shower; panties, bra and all. "What would you do without me?" ... he asked as he slipped them through the crack in the door.
"If you weren't out there I'd get them myself, silly."
Jane rolled her eyes and shut the door again, rushing to get dressed. "What do you think?" ... she asked as she finally came out and gave Richie the full view.
"Wow," he said softly. He made a motion with his finger, beckoning her to twirl around, which she did. "You look amazing."
"Thank you." Jane couldn't help blushing from the way he looked her; the way he used to. It made her feel completely naked, and now, completely guilty. She had to tell him -- she had to get it over with. She couldn't keep stringing him along.
She sighed as she made her way over to the bed and sat down. Smiling, she looked at him and patted the spot next to her. "Sit."
He did as Jane wanted, watching her anxiously twiddle her fingers for a few seconds before he stopped her. "What is it?" ... he asked as he covered her hands with his.
"I'm sorry--f-for last night."
"What do you mean?" ... he asked, confused.
"I slapped you, I sh-"
"I was a jerk," he shrugged.
"No you weren't-"
"I forced you into doing something you didn't wanna do, Janie... and that's not me."
"Don't be silly, Rich, it was a kiss. I overreacted."
"Even if you feel that way now, you made it clear last night that you didn't want anything to happen... and you were right, I was an inconsiderate ass. I should have wooed you the old fashioned way."
Jane smiled softly before frowning. "You're making this really hard, Richie."
"What? What are you trying to tell me?"
"It-it's about dinner," she said hesitantly.
"I don't think it's a good idea."
"Jesus, Jane!" Richie let go of her hands and stood up abruptly, stalking his way over to the window. "Do you think everything is a bad idea these days?"
"What?" ... he snapped. He didn't turn around to see the hurt in her eyes. "What do you want me to say?"
"Nothing," she said softly as the tears began to sting. "I don't want you to be angry."
"I'm not," he spat.
Fuck, he cursed himself when he finally turned to her. She was looking back at him, her eyes shining from the tears that were trying to break through. "Don't cry, Janie," he tried, his tone softening.
She looked away. "I'm not."
Richie let out a deep breath and walked towards her. He placed a hand on her knee as he bent down in front of her and spoke. "You know I can't bare it."
"I told you, I'm not."
"Don't, Richie. Don't apologize, it just makes me feel worse."
"Sorry," he offered again, causing Jane to smile, though she still wouldn't look at him. "I saw that."
"Janie," he caressed her cheek lightly, beckoning her to turn to him. "Please look at me." He dropped his hand when she did. "I get it, I do."
"Why you won't give this a chance..." Richie frowned slightly, "But I wish you would."
"I wish I could."
That was all Richie needed to hear. That teeny bit of hope; knowing that she still felt something, he wasn't going to let her get away quite so easily.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" ... he asked.
"Of course not! What kind of question is that?"
Shit. "Sorry, I wasn't thinking... I-I'm just trying to figure this out."
"Figure what out?"... Jane asked curiously.
"You're not avoiding this because of geography... there's something more."
"Am I right?"
Jane stood up and went to the door, willing Gabe to come through any second. He didn't. "It's complicated," she said.
"Let me help you uncomplicate it."
"I thought you got it--you just finished telling me you got it."
"I thought I did... but something hit me, and......" Richie left the sentence in mid air as he went to her.
"And what?" ... she asked.
"If you want me even half as much as I want you," he started with a smirk. "You wouldn't let a few miles come between us, so there has to be something else holding you back."
"Maybe I just don't want you."
"Is that it?"
Jane dropped her head to hide her blushed cheeks. "You know it's not."
Richie smiled and gently cupped Jane's chin, tilting her face towards him. "Have dinner with me."
"Don't think about it, Jane, just say yes."
A sudden knock at the door made them both jump slightly, but Jane breathed a quiet sigh of relief. She was going to say yes before he'd cut her off. How could she change her mind so many times over the course of twelve hours?
She reached behind Richie and turned the door knob, letting Gabe inside. "Holy shit!" ... he exclaimed, stunned at seeing Richie there.
"Hey man," Richie said as he offered his hand. "Long time, no see."
"Fuck off," Gabe scoffed and pushed Richie's hand away. "Fifteen fucking years deserves a hug!"
Richie's eyes widened as Gabe lunged at him. "No-whoa, OK... help me," he mouthed over Gabe's shoulder to Jane.
"Gabe?" ... she asked through a grin.
"Richie fucking Sambora!"... he declared.
"OK, we need to get going or we'll be late," Jane tried.
"Fuck that! They can wait for me; I'm the groom."
"Why doesn't Richie come?"
"What?" ... Jane and Richie asked in unison.
"Yeah!" ... Gabe continued. "Otherwise you're gonna be the only one without a date, Jane."
"I like it that way."
"Bullshit! You gonna come, Rich?"
"Give me five minutes to get ready."
"Richie!" ... Jane said in disbelief.
"What? I just wanna hang out with my old buddy, Gabe."
"Fuck yeah!" ... Gabe said excitedly.
Heaven help us, thought Jane. She grabbed Gabe by the arm and started out the door. "Let's go wait for him in the car then."
"Actually... I gotta get there, otherwise Mel will be throwing a fit-"
"What?!" ... Jane asked incredulously. "You just said they'd wait for you."
"You can drive, right Rich?" ... Gabe asked, ignoring her.
"Sure, if Jane knows the way."
"I do," she said through gritted teeth.
"Great! Then I'll see you guys there."
Without another word, Gabe turned on his heel and started for the elevator, leaving Jane completely bewildered and Richie completely delighted.