Richie and Kara arrived at Joan’s only slightly disheveled and as close to late as Richie liked to play it with his mother. Joan eyed them carefully as she welcomed them in. She didn’t miss the way Richie helped Kara with her coat and all the little touches and looks that passed between the two of them.
Secretly she was thrilled that Richie had found someone so far removed from his public life. She had come to love Heather and would forever be grateful to her because of Ava, but she hadn’t truly felt that she was entirely right for Richie. Then there was Denise. Joan thanked her lucky stars every day that things hadn’t worked out and Richie had ushered her out of his life. That woman; there had just been something about her that bothered Joan to no end. She could never put her finger on it but it was a huge relief to her when Richie broke it off.
They were sitting in the living room, having a drink before dinner when Joan finally had a chance to talk to Richie. Kara excused herself to the bathroom and Joan and Richie were alone for a few minutes. She studied her son, “how are you dear?”
Richie smiled, “I’m good ma, real good.” The smile was broader and more sincere than she had seen in a long time.
“I’m glad to hear that. You and Kara seem to be getting along well.”
The smile on his face widened. “She’s wonderful ma. She’s so different from what I was dating before. Did you know she didn’t know me before you introduced us?”
Joan leaned forward in her chair and took Richie’s hand. “I knew that and I’m glad you’re happy. It’s been much too long since I’ve seen that smile of yours. She’s a nice girl Richard. Just do me one favor?”
Richie squeezed his mother’s hand, “anything for you ma.”
Joan studied her son’s face, the light was back in his eyes again and Joan couldn’t have been happier. He had been so down for so long she had worried that he might not bounce back from all the blows life had dealt him. “Take it slow with her. I know how you tend to feel so much so fast, but just take it slow and see where it goes.”
Kara came back then “whatever you’re making smells wonderful Joan.” After she spoke she noticed how Joan and Richie were sitting, “everything all right?”
Joan stood, “everything’s fine dear. We’re having roasted chicken and it should be about ready.” She left the room before Kara could offer to help. She turned to Richie, “you were talking about me, weren’t you?”
Richie reached for her hand and tugged her down on the couch next to him, “yes and no.”
Kara studied their hands; their fingers were laced together, dark and light, long and small. She smiled, “well your mom didn’t toss me out on my ear so it couldn’t have been all bad.”
He tugged his hand from hers and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. Pulling her close he kissed her head, “don’t worry princess, she liked you before you met me and she likes you even more now.” He stood and dragged her up with him, “come on let’s go eat.”
They sat in the cozy kitchen and enjoyed a delicious meal of roasted chicken, fluffy and buttery mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and tossed salad. While they ate Joan regaled Kara with stories of Richie’s youth. Kara watched Richie as she listened to Joan and laughed. His expressions were priceless. He was horrified one minute and red with embarrassment the next. Through it all though Kara realized, there was one constant. The music. It was as much a part of Richie as the color of his eyes or the shape of his face. It was there in some way, shape or form in everything he did. He had always had a penchant for it and she could see, looking back at Joan, how proud she was of her son.
Richie was still grumbling about all the stories his mother shared when they got in the car. “I can’t believe she told you all that shit.”
Kara chuckled, “I’m glad she did.”
He looked over at her, eyebrows raised in surprise “you’ve got to be kidding me. Why?”
Kara parked the car and shut it off. “This was stuff I never could have learned any other way. You certainly wouldn’t have shared any of that stuff and I’m fairly certain that bonjovi.com wouldn’t have a section called Richie Sambora: from Toddler to Teen on their site.”
He laughed as he reached for the door handle, “you’d be right about that. You know though, turnabout is fair play, I’m going to have to have a conversation with Jack when I get back out to LA.” It was Kara’s turn to look horrified.
He turned to her as they walked up the steps, “now you know me better than that princess.”
Kara gave a resigned sighed, “all right. I guess it’s only fair. I can give you a preview though and that may just be enough to scare you off this little mission of yours.”
He was intrigued as they hung up their coats and he watched as she came back into the room with a photo album. “Are you sure about this?” He nodded and they sat on the couch together. She placed the album in his lap and took a deep breath and opened the cover.