The life of a celebrity was different.
To start everyone was talking about the new Dark Ages album and what the band had planned in their upcoming tour. What everyone was interested in however was the fact that the band's once infamous lead singer was secretly married and seemed hopelessly in love with his new wife. Discussions ranged from the authenticity of the marriage license to prove that it was a publicity stunt, if Van would put his wife before his music and Jude's history with Van's deceased brother. The latter did bother Jude a bit but none of that really mattered as she was still dealing with the newfound attention that came with being married to him.
Venturing anywhere in the public meant they would be bombarded by a mob of fans and/or photographers. Van would always stop to sign a few autographs and take pictures but the moment someone acknowledged her presence he would switch to protective husband mode which meant ending the greeting altogether to pull her away from the crowd. Jude knew he was genuinely concerned for her as she'd never had to deal with anything like this but his security team was always nearby. She'd felt safe enough with them there. There was no need for him to become overprotective.
After a few months, things had seemed to settle. They were still the topic of interest but for a new reason. During the times they'd been out and about either shopping or moving around town the questions asked only concerned the very visible ring on her left hand. Any information or pictures received about the ring kept the discussions alive. Because of this Van had advised his guys to have two persons accompanying her at all times.
Knowing the attention wouldn't slow down any time soon Jude had argued that walking around with two bodyguards would draw the attention he was trying to avoid. Eventually, she'd won him over and was awarded a very intimidating looking guy named Chad. After a few outings with him by her side, everyone had taken a step back. The interest was still there but with him always nearby she'd regained the ability to function without having to constantly focus on her surroundings.
"I was hoping I could get you alone," Van placed his hand against the glass over Jude who was messing around on her phone while waiting for her order at a local coffee shop. She'd been so engrossed in whatever she was doing he'd been able to walk right up to her without her noticing.
"Why do you want to get me alone?" Jude responded without looking up. Chad had cleared an area for her to stand while she waited so there was no reason a stranger could get within six feet of her without being stopped. Only one person could get away with a move like that.
"Maybe it's because you're the most beautiful girl in the room," he couldn't help but enjoy her attire. Jude was in a faded pink long sleeved shirt which was carefully tucked into a slightly flared white skirt that stopped mid-thigh. The look was finished off with a high ponytail, ankle high boots and minimal jewelry. He didn't know where the confidence to wear a skirt that short came from but she looked amazing.
"Thank you for the compliment but as you can probably tell I'm a married woman," she finally looked up at him with a smile he couldn't help but return.
"You're also a very popular woman," he brought her attention to their surroundings and the people sneaking pictures of them. "Chad could have gotten a coffee for you without you actually having to crowd the entire café."
"The crowd you speak of is here for you Mr. Rock star and I like getting my own coffee thank you very much."
"I know you like getting your own coffee Jude. I'm just reminding you that he can also get your coffee."
"Stop worrying about me Henri," she assured, still maintaining the eye contact. "You should be worrying about yourself since you're the one sticking out like a sore thumb with the platinum blond hair and a new piercing."
"Let's get you home shall we," he laughed at her attack on his look, took her hand and turned to ensure Chad would manage the coffee situation but he already had it covered. Pulling her between him and her security detail Van guided her through the crowd of people towards the main door. As they exited the building they were ambushed by photographers and fans. He knew the crowd of people had thickened due to his arrival but Jude wasn't as unrecognizable as she claimed to be. He could hear people calling her name to get her attention from different directions. Chad definitely wasn't enough anymore.
As they got to Van's SUV he made sure she was safely inside with her drink before issuing instructions to the head security, getting behind the wheel and driving off. They would be followed home in the vehicle Chad drove and Jude's Cayenne since she had insisted on driving herself today.
"Did you have other plans before going home?" he asked looking over at her for a moment as he pulled up to a red light. She was staring at him with a look in her eyes he couldn't decipher.
"There were a few places I wanted to check out but I can do it another time."
"I can take you if you wish. My guys are following us so we'll have a little more protection seeing that we've been discovered."
"Maybe tomorrow," she sipped her drink, still staring at him in that weird way.
"Do you want to tell me why you're looking at me like that?" he drove off, turning his attention back to the road.
"I'm just trying to figure out the inspiration behind this new color."
"James did say you were going to kill me if I did too much up there," he laughed while running a hand over the hair at the back which was still its natural color. Van had wanted to do a gray color throughout but his hair stylist had tweaked the idea by closely fading the back and sides of his head while dyeing the hair at the top.
"So your stylist is responsible for the hair. Who's to blame for the eyebrow piercing?"
"That would be me. Do you not like it?"
"Is this your version of dealing with some form of stress in a different way…" she decided to voice her concern. "I mean everything about this new you is extremely sexy but this change is kind of extreme you know?"
"Extremely sexy?" he didn't expect that amount of honesty from Jude. She was always in control of what she said to him so this was definitely a first.
"Van you know what I mean," she began backing down immediately after seeing his shock as to what she just said.
"Is that why you were staring at me that way?"
"I was not staring at you," she denied but kept looking.
"You're literally doing it right now sunshine," he looked over again staring her down as well but in a seductive way. Jude's gaze remained. "So what have you been up to when I was gone?"
"Giselle has forced me to change out my closet. She lectured me about being your wife and informed me that I am not allowed to be seen in public looking any less than you would."
"The press is kind of obsessed with you so she is right."
"The press is not obsessed with me."
"Jude I think the news of me marrying you kind of broke the internet. Everyone's wondering why rock's most infamous bachelor suddenly changed his single status. Plus they are confused as to why I chose you."
Jude continued drinking her coffee. She'd seen the comments about Van only dating supermodels along with pictures of said supermodels. All of them were extremely beautiful women with crazy portfolios. She'd also seen the comments talking down on her physical appearance. It had taken both Giselle and their neighbor Ava to talk her into feeling comfortable in her own skin again.
"When was the last time you were on the internet?"
"You mean the depressing place where everyone has an opinion about me even though they never even met me?"
"It can be depressing if you pay attention to the negative stuff they say. You don't owe anyone an explanation for their assumptions. Remember that."
"What have you seen on the internet that I seemed to have missed then?"
"Besides all the negative press people are watching your style closely, some are relieved you're nothing like the girls I usually go after and some are awaiting your pregnancy announcement since a certain someone is obviously smitten with his new wife."
"Firstly my style is a result of Giselle who shows me how to make a look work; secondly I'm never going to be one of your skinny exes who either walk runways for a living or who are born perfect and thirdly-"
"My skinny exes? Have you been looking into my past?"
"It's hardly considered looking when I'm minding my own business and up pops an article with pictures of me standing next to them for comparison purposes."
"If it helps they're not really my exes since I've never dated any of them and they are nothing compared to you."
"Van they were all supermodels."
"Yeah well, they were also super-boring. Now let's get back to your third comment which is supposed to address the pregnancy announcement."
"My last statement was actually going to be a question about who says smitten."
"Everyone sees the way I look at you, Jude. Smitten is kind of exact if you ask me."
"And why are they even talking about us getting pregnant?"
"Maybe because of all the eye-fucking we do in public?"
"We don't eye…..that."
"Of course we do," he pulled up to the front of the house and parked.
"That's because you always have sex on the brain when you look at me," she hopped out to meet him at the front of the vehicle.
"It's not always that," he denied without hesitation. "Sometimes it's me enjoying trying to get a rise out of you."
"So that look you were giving me in the café wasn't you stripping me out of my clothes?"
"Weren't you giving me a similar look on the drive home Mrs. Henri?"
"I was admiring your hair."
"The extremely sexy hair?" he unlocked the door and followed her inside knowing whatever belongings were left in her car would be brought in before taking the vehicle to the garage.
"Are you going to use that against me for the rest of my life?"
"No," he headed up the staircase towards their bedroom after taking her hand in his. "But it is nice to hear you say what you're thinking when you stare at me for a change."
"That's because you're the biggest narcissist ever," she enjoyed the feel of his fingers on hers.
"Narcissists only think about themselves and I always have you on my mind."
"Well maybe you think about me a lot so I would think about you and that would feed your narcissism enough to compensate for the thoughts you stopped having about yourself."
"Anything to justify you calling me self-absorbed huh sunshine?" he responded pulling her into their bedroom. After closing the door he gently pushed her against it to kiss her, feeling her tiptoe while running one hand up to his nape and into his hair and the other up under his t-shirt.
"I have a theory and I stand by it," she began pushing his shirt up his torso wanting nothing between them.
"And I have a joke about things standing," he smiled, in between another kiss, only letting her go to pull his t-shirt off.
"You're unbelievable," she crushed her lips to his again wanting nothing more than to be his. He'd been away for far too long and she really did miss him.
"So you really think I'm a narcissist huh?" Van finally spoke, returning to their conversation while placing light kisses on her shoulder and releasing the cloth he'd used to secure her hands to the headboard of their bed.
"Everyone knows you're a narcissist Gabriel," Jude's hands immediately reached into his hair the instant her hands were freed wanting to maintain their connection as long as possible. "I mean you do talk about yourself a lot."
"Who else is going to stress on how good I look with you beneath or on top me?" he smiled, kissing her once more before grabbing his phone while walking towards the center of the room.
"How you manage to change stupid comments into personal compliments is really beyond my understanding," she stood up as well, securing the sheets around her so she could walk without being shy. Van's nakedness was already making her blush enough.
"It's an art," he dropped the phone on a nearby shelf just as the light began streaming into their bedroom via the windows which were changing from opaque to transparent. Jude's expression proved she had no idea the windows had that feature.
"And here you had me thinking your bedroom was gloomy," Jude looked on in awe. The view of the backyard was phenomenal.
"This bedroom is actually the reason I bought the house. Never wondered why I didn't have blinds?"
"I was confused as to why you chose something with no real windows. I always had to open the balcony doors to get some natural light in."
"The way the windows were is a privacy setting. The main remote for it is somewhere around. I'll show you how to use it later and I'll get my IT guy to set the application on your mobile."
"Sure," she began fiddling with the sheets after stopping next to him. He wrapped an arm around her without hesitation. "Gabe?"
"Do you remember that day just after damaging my foot how I accused you of giving me a sedative to keep me at the apartment?"
"I remember being on the receiving end of that death glare you've always had on standby around me."
"Want to know why I was so angry at you?"
"That's easy. You thought I drugged you."
"It wasn't just that," she smiled; bring her arm up around his back. "Right after taking the medication I fell asleep and dreamt about you kissing me."
"Did you now?" he laughed, seeing her face go red from embarrassment.
"Imagine me trying to hate you because you wouldn't let me leave and then my very innocent brain decides to ignore my annoyance and focuses on me sexualizing you."
"Your brain was functioning as it should."
"I was so annoyed because it felt so real. I couldn't tell if it had actually happened even after I opened my eyes."
"And of course the best way to deal with that was to blame me for something your brain decided to conjure up."
"Who else was I supposed to blame?"
"I don't know," he pretended to think. "How about you?"
"It was easier to blame you."
"Sam really did have a little firecracker on her hands."
"A mental one," she giggled at what he called her. "I was so flustered after having those thoughts of you that I just had to be mad at you."
"Now it's all you think about."
"My thoughts go further than just kissing you Van."
"I'm quite aware of what goes on in that head of yours Jude. Sixty percent of the time we end up in a compromising position it's because you started it plus you're practically friends with almost every surface in here."
"More like forty percent and you're the one who hates using the bed."
"I don't hate using the bed. I'm just unconventional. This time however I felt like I still owed you a better performance on the infamous hair pulling, back arching and name calling incident so I decided the bed could help."
"So in order to achieve that you interrupt my day, drag me home and tie me to your bed?"
"I did ask you if you had other plans before we came home and there were alternatives than tying you to the bed but that option was the easiest."
"May I ask what those other options were?"
"I'm here for the next three weeks Jude. You'll see," he tilted his head a bit to inhale her scent. He loved the way her smell still lingered even after making love to her.
"Hmm?" he was still enjoying everything about her being there with him.
"Have you thought about what would happen if we don't work out?"
"Why? It would be a logical thought seeing that everything between us happened so fast."
"Do you remember what happened the last time I broke up with you and then you broke up with me?"
"How could either of us break up with the other if we actually never dated?"
"I broke up with you the day I told you that you would be the end of me."
"Van that was like four or five days after we met and a few hours after sleeping together for the first time," she objected to his account of their timeline. "Plus I had no idea what you mean when you said I would be the end of you."
"I had already told Charles that you were my girlfriend."
"That was you trying to upset him and achieving it."
"My mind had already settled on us dating Jude. It's the reason why I was going to kiss you by the bookshelf in Tristan's office, the reason why I kissed you in front of Sophia and why I kissed you senseless on the couch when we got home. I knew the moment you allowed me past those walls of yours I wouldn't be able to let go."
"Fine," she accepted his logic even though it was crazy. "When did I break up with you then?"
"That day we argued after Samantha left. You told me you didn't care how I felt and that we'd never work."
"I forgot about that," she felt stupid. None of that would have happened if she hadn't listened to Samantha. "To be fair you made me want you like crazy and then you put whatever we were doing on pause and I hated it."
"I came home that night ready to make you mine again after holding my tongue for Sophia's antics only to meet your sister's diabolical gaze."
"I guess I did break up with you."
"And now that's out of the way do you remember what happened the last time we broke up?"
"You avoided talking to me for an entire day," she was replaying those moments in her mind like it was yesterday.
"Do you know why?" he held their position, wanting nothing more than to hold her at this very moment. "You, my dear wife, pulled a Sophia better than Sophia ever did."
Jude was silent. She had no idea that was the way he felt. Then again she should have figured it out. Van was not one for expressing his emotions and yet he had asked her to give him a chance. She was just so hurt from the really good friends title he had declared to her sister that she'd been determined to move on.
"I don't blame you for ending things to pursue what you believed in since I couldn't say out loud how I truly felt since I was afraid you'd reject me. What destroyed me was when you said you didn't care anymore. I just couldn't believe I had successfully extinguished the light in your eyes that I put there. I really am sorry I hurt you love."
"I'm sorry I hurt you too," she shifted out of his hold and wrapped both hands around him to engage in an actual hug. She then buried her face in the crook of his neck after tiptoeing.
"So to answer your question I don't think about us not working out because to me that isn't an option. I already know what it feels like to lose you and I can safely say that I hated every second of it."
Jude felt him press his lips to her forehead after getting her to look him in the eyes. Van had just admitted that he couldn't live without her. He had practically said he loved her as well since he had stated she'd outdone Sophia, who was the only woman to break his heart, and referred to her as love not too long ago. He just hadn't used it in the usual combination.
"Would you like to come to show me how to adjust the water temperature in our really complicated bathroom?"
"That line didn't work the first time Van so it's not going to work this time."
"What if I told you that I missed you so much these past few weeks that it's hard letting you out of my sight?"
"You're such a spoilt brat you know that?" she caved, taking his hand and leading the way towards the bathroom.
"Does that mean you still love me?"
"Have I ever said I loved you?"
"Only through those pretty eyes of yours but I intend to change that."
"You're still quite delusional aren't you?"
"Delusional and amazing," he pulled her back towards him and lifted her off the floor. Jude could feel the electricity rebuilding through his gaze.
"That's still delusional Gabe."
"So did you like being tied up?"
"It was nice but it was hard not being able to touch you."
"That was the point," he placed her back on her feet and began adjusting the shower via the touchscreen panel. "The fact that you couldn't touch me should have heightened everything I did to that amazingly sexy body of yours."
"So what do you like?"
"What do you mean?" he began untangling her from the sheet she was using like clothes and disposing of it on the floor.
"I recall us having a conversation where you said you liked pleasing a woman. Now I'm asking what you like because I want to please you."
"I like control," he stepped into the shower ensuring their eyes met again the moment he was completely soaked. He could tell she wasn't satisfied with his response. "There is a small window however where you can have your way with Gabriel before Van steps in."
"You are aware that Van likes me more than Gabriel right?" she joined him in the shower letting her hair down to allow the water to flow through freely.
"Absolutely," she pulled the length of her hair to one side, biting her lip for just a second. "So are you going to tell me what you like? Or should I take the information from you myself?"
"I'm not about to start telling you all my secrets sunshine. That's not how this marriage is going to work."
"Jude?" Van was seated on a nearby stool while Jude finished cleaning the kitchen after making them lunch. He'd wanted to help but she had insisted he sat this one out. So as a means of passing the time he'd been on his phone. The device barely kept his attention seeing that they had yet to cover that one conversation he needed finished.
"Yes Gabe?" she responded, looking up from the dishwasher then checking the room in case she forgot to put anything away.
"How did you spend your time while I was gone?"
"What do you mean?" she set the appliance and let out a sigh of relief. Her job was done.
"Was it a routine for you to get dressed and go out for coffee every day?"
"No," she laughed, now understanding what he was asking. "You're worried I'm bored at home seeing that I gave up everything and moved out here to be with you?"
"No," she walked over to him to stand between his knees and got pulled into a hug. "I usually pass my days with Ava."
"Your neighbor of three years who's married to the millionaire next door?" his confusion never faltered proving he had no idea who she was talking about. "Anyway Ava and I spend every day together. We keep each other sane when the men in our lives choose to step out on us."
"What do you two talk about?"
"When she wasn't giving me bits of history behind Tristan's ring since she's obsessed with jewelry she tries to get me to talk about us which I refuse to because I don't think I'll ever be comfortable talking about half the things you do to me."
"You're such a prude," he began pressing kisses to her throat while running both hands along her waist. "What did you learn about the ring?"
"That it's pretty old and has been missing for a few decades until a few months ago where it reappeared in your cigarette lighter."
"She convinced me to get it appraised to see what it's worth."
"Her jeweler estimated its current value at around fifteen million as the diamond sitting on top is supposedly one of a kind."
"Do you want to know what I learned about it?"
"I had no idea you were doing research as well."
"I asked Ro to look into it," he released her but she didn't move away. "He found out everything from who purchased it first right down to the very last owner."
"You do mean Tristan right?"
"Someone named Hunter Stuart who also turned out to be my paternal grandmother."
"What happened to her?" Jude placed both hands across his shoulders but only used one hand to trace invisible lines through his hair. She knew his family history was a heavy topic so that was her way of assuring him that she was there for him.
"She died shortly after the passing of her husband. Hunter couldn't live without him so she took her own life," he neglected to say exactly how because he didn't want to worry Jude. Both Hunter and Tristan had lost themselves and overdosed. She didn't need to think that was his destiny as well. "When she passed on she left behind a toddler named Tristan Stuart who we knew to be…"
"Tristan Henri," she finished his sentence thinking of what he was saying to her. In the beginning, Van had set out to find out about his mother. Who knew he would have found a piece of the puzzle that would lead him down the path of his father's history instead?
"I know it's not the piece of the past I was looking for but it's what I got," he continued talking while holding her gaze. "I'm the last living Stuart."
"Still haven't forgiven your sister?"
"It's not as easy as you may think," she slipped out of his hold to find the right way to say what she was going to tell him. They'd never discussed what happened after she was kidnapped because she'd wanted to forget about it. However, Van still thought her relationship with her sister was salvageable so she needed to correct him on that. "When they took me that day Reggie came to see me."
"Turns out that it's him and not Charles who fathered me."
"Hanna kind of let slip that piece of information when she came to get you that day."
"I mean the man doesn't regret what he did to you or what he was doing to me as he was the one who orchestrated the kidnapping…it was just so unbelievable you know?" she paused before continuing. "What made everything worse was the fact that Sam was the one who handed me over like it was nothing."
"Van if you're going to make an excuse for her just know that it isn't going to change my mind about anything," Jude threw in a little anger even though she knew he was only trying to help. "If Sam had not agreed to help my parents in their ploy Reese would have never been able to…"
"To what?" his expression was casual. He could tell by the way she stalled that the guy had done something Jude couldn't get past but him getting angry might keep her from telling him anything. He needed to know so that he could help her move past it.
"He pushed me against a doorframe and applied pain until he got me to agree to marry him."
"Anything else?" he stood up and approached so he could hold her. She relaxed in his arms the instant he pulled her in.
"No," Jude felt like crap. The man holding her had been through so much more yet he was the one comforting her.
"Sam will always be your sister. However, you choose to handle your relationship with her know that I will stand by you."
"Is that your way of saying you still hate her and hope that I never speak to her again?"
"Something like that."
Jude smiled. Van didn't have to say much and she could almost always tell how he felt about a situation.
"Yes Henri?" she remained in his embrace, enjoying the feel of him beneath her palms.
"Do you still want to have mini versions of me and you running around?" he reached for her hand and laced their fingers together.
"Is that why you were asking me if I was bored and why you came talking about a pregnancy announcement?"
"So you were listening?"
"How long was this on your mind?"
"Since finding out that I'm the last on my dad's side."
"Are you sure this is what you want?"
"Are you saying you don't want to be the mother of my children?"
"Van I've never heard you talk about kids before."
"I always thought I had family out there waiting for me to come to find them."
"You probably do on your mother's side."
"Never had one. So…are you ready to bring a little rock star into the world?"
"You already have names picked out don't you?"
"Do you mind sharing that information?"
"Let's get you pregnant first and then I'll think about it."
Author's Note: Thank you all for the reviews and patience.
With this chapter I wanted both Jude and Gabriel to have them time. I also wanted Van to evolve a little more emotionally with her.
Thank you again and I hope you loved those two.