A/N: This is the sequel to a Million Miles Away. Read that story first or you will be confused! =)
MMA fans: Chapters 1-15 of Whiskey Eyes and Morphine Lies used to be chapters 31-45 of Million Miles Away. I decided to break MMA into two parts because it was getting ridiculously long.
Chapter 1 – Back in the Valley of the Sun
Jasmine woke just an hour later and realized she wasn't going back to sleep again. Jon had rolled on his side facing away from her but was clearly still down for the count. With a lingering glance at his sleeping form, she quietly slipped out of bed and left the room. Spying the cordless phone sitting on the kitchen counter, she suddenly remembered her promise to call Shannon. She dialed her direct office number in England, but got directed to Shannon's voicemail, so she left a brief message to let Shannon know that all was well and hung up.
Her next destination was the guest room where she had stashed her boxes of personal effects before she flew to England. After unpacking her clothing she decided it could all do with a wash after sitting unworn for so long. Once the washing machine was going she went to her favorite spot in the house: the room where Jon's music and guitar collection was kept. She knew better than to touch the instruments so she headed for the media shelves, intent on finding music she hadn't heard before and making compilation tapes to listen to on the way to and from campus.
Her first load of laundry finished, she folded the clean clothes, started a second load, and then went back to the guestroom where her possessions were. She considered unpacking the rest of the boxes but realized that she hadn't a clue where to put anything. Jon and I have some details to work out, she mused as she thumbed through an old issue of Kerrang! that had a cover feature on Strange Angels. So hard to believe that they really broke up.
Her musing was interrupted by Jon's voice. "There you are," he quipped from the doorway, wearing faded, torn jeans and a tight grey t-shirt. "No need to get up," he added as Jasmine started to scramble to her feet. "What're you doing in here?"
He sat next to her on the floor, looking curiously at the box on the floor in front of her crossed legs. Jasmine quickly tossed the magazine aside, slightly embarrassed that she had been caught in a fangirl moment.
"It's just stuff I brought out with me from North Carolina last August. I'm trying to figure out where it can go."
"Oh? What sort of stuff?" Jon asked as he impetuously reached out and tucked a stray lock of Jasmine's hair behind her ear, causing her pale cheeks to flush slightly.
Jasmine shrugged. "Just mementos and old magazines, stuff like that."
"So let's have a look," Jon urged. "Got any pictures of family?"
Jasmine rummaged in the box and came up with her cherished black and white photo of her mother, Judith, and handed it wordlessly to Jon. His eyes went wide with surprise as his gaze flicked back and forth between the picture and Jasmine's face. "Your mum?" he asked in a cautious tone. "Wow," he breathed when Jasmine nodded yes. "Such a lovely face. I see the resemblance," he quickly added.
"I take after my father more than her, but thanks. She really was beautiful. I remember thinking as a kid that she was just as pretty as the movie stars and wondering why she wasn't one, too," Jasmine told him as she gingerly took the photo from his hands and put it to one side.
Jon cast a glance around the room, which was cluttered with various items of furniture and more boxes of his own personal effects that weren't important enough to unpack yet. "Er, look, I've been doing a bit of thinking since I woke up a bit ago…" he started to say, his eyes still darting around as though he was unwilling to look at her.
Oh no, he's going to tell me that yesterday was a mistake, Jasmine thought, her heart already starting to sink leadenly toward her gut.
Hesitantly, he continued. "…and I feel that it's important to make it very clear that while I very much have…feelings for you, I don't want you to feel pressured or obligated to do, err, anything that you're not cool with. You know?" As he finished his little speech he finally looked her in the eyes, concern showing on his catlike features.
Jasmine nodded understandingly. "You haven't done anything to make me uncomfortable…yet," she couldn't resist adding, relived that he hadn't decided to withhold his affections after all.
"So," Jon continued, "let's work out where you want to stay. If you want a room of your own then I'll clear out this one and get a new bed and all the things you'd need. 'Til then you'd be quite welcome to take my bed and I'll sleep on the couch in the meantime."
So does he not want me to sleep in his room with him? Maybe he thinks it's moving too fast or something. Well, we have plenty of time to sort everything out. "Sure, that might be the best thing for now," she replied after her brief bout of contemplation.
"Or the safest thing when it comes to your virtue," Jon quipped mischievously as he raised his fine brows suggestively. Jasmine had to turn away and pretend to organize her magazines to hide her blush. He smacked a palm decisively on the rug as he stood up. "So there we have it. This'll be your room and completely off-limits to anything with a Y chromosome."
Jasmine giggled. "Of course you can come in whenever you want," she told him.
Jon just gave a throaty chuckle and walked out of the room. Jasmine followed a minute later, needing something to drink after that loaded little exchange. She found Jon in the kitchen perusing the meager contents of the refrigerator in exasperation. "Seems the larder's a bit bare at the moment," he muttered, before turning to Jasmine and giving her a hopeful look. "Hey, if I made a list and gave you the money, would you mind going to the grocery store for us?"
"Of course not," she told him as she reached for the cupboard with the tea-making supplies. Jon walked up behind her, placing his hands on his shoulders. "Good morning again, by the way," he half-whispered before placing a light kiss on the top of her head.
"Morning," she replied shyly as she took a mug out and turned around. He kissed her lips several times as he kept his hands on her shoulders, caressing them lightly. She began to wonder if she was really going to be able to stay in a separate bedroom after all. Easy! There's no point in rushing anything, she schooled herself even as she reveled in the touch of his warm hands and mouth.
Jon pulled away with an air of reluctance and stepped aside so she could carry on with her task. "By the way, just two things more," he said as he watched her move across the kitchen floor. "First, I realize that your actual birthday was yesterday, but as I was…detained, I couldn't get back to the States quite in time. So can I make up for it by taking you somewhere nice for dinner tonight?"
Jasmine put the mug into the microwave and set the timer for 60 seconds. "Sure, that's really sweet of you to offer," she replied, unable to keep the delighted smile off her face.
"Brilliant. Right, second thing. I asked around for advice on birthday presents for college students, and everyone suggested a computer. Would that interest you?"
Dumbfounded, Jasmine turned away from watching her water boil to stare at him. "Umm, I thought my present was the flight on Concorde," she admitted, biting her lower lip.
Jon grinned widely. "Did you? Well, I have to say that it cost me a few bob, but I honestly didn't intend for it to be your actual present. I felt that a computer would be helpful for your classes and writing and that sort of thing. You could even get one that connects to the Inter- err, Web thingy that everyone's saying is going to be the best thing since sliced bread. Although personally, I think that would be automatic guitar tuners."
"I bet Martin would agree. But yeah, I could totally use a computer," Jasmine told him, gratitude lighting her face. "I don't know the first thing about them, though. My old high school only had one and I used it maybe three times? But I'll figure it out. I sorta know how to type already."
"Ahh, you're a bright lass. You'll be using it like a pro inside of a week," Jon assured her. "Now let's decide where to go for dinner so I can make reservations." He suggested a short list of upscale eateries including a well-known mountaintop resort nearby as Jasmine listened and thought.
"What about the Black Rose?" she suggested, so eagerly that Jon couldn't say no outright.
"Welll, it's a nice little place but I sort had something a bit more…exclusive in mind," he replied cautiously. Her face fell in disappointment, so he quickly amended his stance. "But I love the Black Rose as well. And hey, it's your decision, Belated Birthday Girl. So the Black Rose it is."
"Yay!" Jasmine cried unselfconsciously as she kittenishly scampered off with her tea. Watching her, Jon shook his head and smiled indulgently, reflecting privately on how different she was from the women he was typically attracted to, and how surprising it was that he didn't mind. In fact, it rather turned him on…he quickly shook himself out of his reverie to make a cuppa for himself, watching as Jasmine let herself out through the patio door. Once she was safely out of earshot, he picked up the phone and called Riggs.
"Hey mate, it's me. Look, she wants to go to the Black Rose instead of one of the other places…Yeah, I know it's going to call for a slight change in procedure. I'll make reservations for as late as possible, hopefully that'll help…I know, it's no guarantee. I know the owner so hopefully he'll work with us. Right then, I'll call you shortly before we leave. Cheers."
He hung up and poured a mug of tea for himself, then joined Jasmine on the back patio. "I'm sure you must have a thousand questions for me about everything that's happened lately," he quipped after he was settled in the lounge chair next to hers.
"Oh no, just nine hundred and ninety-nine," she joked with a vague smile, shading her eyes against the late morning sun that hadn't quite cleared the pergola overhead.
Jon smiled along with her. "Fair play to that. So go ahead, ask me whatever you'd like."
"I guess the most burning question is – did you ever get a chance to talk to Ron?"
"Oh yes," he quickly replied, his eyes clouding over briefly with the memory of the previous day's unpleasant exchange. "I went to his workplace and spoke to him in person, actually."
Jasmine nearly lost her grip on her mug and had to set it down on the wrought-iron table next to her chair. "You're kidd—you went to see him? Oh my god! How did he react?" she queried, whiskey-brown eyes wide in utter shock.
Jon compressed his lips briefly before replying, "Not all that well, honestly. He made some wild insinuations that I was leading you straight down the road to ruin. But in the end he didn't have a leg to stand on and he knew it. And I'm sure he'll get the fuck over himself in due course."
Jasmine could tell that Jon had come away from the meeting with a bad taste in his mouth.
I'm sorry that you had to suffer Ron's crap on my behalf," she started to apologize, but Jon waved her off diffidently.
"It wasn't exactly fun, but it needed to be done. I mean, he's a bit of a bastard, but he deserved to at least know that you were leaving of your own free will and that you're going to lack for nothing."
"I'll write to him in a few days," Jasmine said with a small sigh. "I hate that it had to come to this, but hell, he never once gave me a chance to do what I wanted to do. With him it's 'my way or the highway' and I guess I chose the highway, huh?"
"At least it's a highway that's going somewhere. I'd say you did the right thing, but then again I'm a bit biased." Jon smiled knowingly as he took a sip of his tea. After he put his mug down he gestured for Jasmine to join him on the lounge chair. She shot him a slightly curious look, but did as she was bade, straddling the chair to face him.
Jon reached over and picked up his tea again. "Aren't you going to ask me why the band broke up? I'm a bit surprised you haven't given me an earful over that," he said with a small wink, watching her over the rim of his mug.
"I read the interview that Kerrang! did with you guys after the show, where you said that you wanted to go in a different musical direction and Blackie wants a break from playing to start producing other bands and build a home studio…was there more to it than that?"
"Quite a lot more," Jon informed her, then drained his mug. "What we told Kerrang! is true; I do want to get back to my classical roots and write film scores, Blackie's already booked studio time with a band in LA, and Tony's going to live out his dream of being a session player in Europe. But what we didn't want to publicize was that Nick's wife Athena has a pretty serious medical problem – a benign but inoperable brain tumor that's causing her to have seizures – and he needs to be with her and the kids without any distractions for the foreseeable future. We're not interested in a lineup change, so we decided to just fold."
"Oh, wow. Thanks for telling me the whole deal. You know I won't repeat that to anyone," Jasmine promised as a little chill ran through her. "That's sad about Nick's wife. Don't they have two little boys?"
"Yes, Jake and Geoff. I'm not so keen on kids in general but I do have to say that Nick's sons are cute little buggers…when they're asleep," Jon replied with a little laugh.
"Kids…blecch!" Jasmine said in disgust. "The thought of having them makes me want to run for the hills."
Jon smiled at her little outburst, then gave her his most compelling stare. "Oh yeh? Even the thought of having mine?" he couldn't resist teasing just to see her reaction.
She didn't disappoint. "Ohmigod!" she cried out with a comically exaggerated shudder, as she assumed an expression of pretend horror that made Jon crack up. "Not even yours. Sorry, but if you really want to continue your bloodline I'm sure you can find plenty of women who would uh, lend their uteruses to the cause." By the end of her speech they were both laughing hard.
"You're right though, to my eternal amazement I've encountered a few wannabe brood mares out there, although I believe their intentions have more to do with money than genetics," Jon agreed, then cryptically added, "However, I take a great number of precautionary measures to decrease the chance of a paternity suit. That's roughly the last thing I need." He picked up his empty mug and began to stand up. "OK, enough talk of rug rats. You've got a computer to buy."