“Are you going to tell me what’s really going on bro, or are you going to let me keep stumbling around and sticking my feet in it?” Richie asked quietly. The two men were sitting at a table in the hotel’s dining room waiting for David and Tico to join them.
“With the size of your feet that’s inevitable.” Jon quipped. Richie’s expression didn’t change. “But in this particular case, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bullshit! Don’t try to snow me Kidd. Not me. Things like this don’t happen by coincidence – not with you anyway. So, somehow you found out that Ronnie was working out of this studio and decided we should record there. My question is why? She already thinks I’m involved in this – whatever this is – and is blaming me, so I think that I deserve to know.”
Jon sighed and ran his fingers up and down the stem of his wine glass. He shrugged. “I wanted to see her again.”
“Why? Don’t you think you’ve caused her enough pain?”
Jon grimaced and was silent for a long minute. “She’s the one that got away Rich.”
“She didn’t ‘get away’ Jon, you threw her away. You took what you wanted from her, and when things got heavy you tossed her aside. Like trash.”
“I loved her!” Jon protested.
“Mmmhmmm, and then, when she needed you the most, you ran away. You left her to deal with probably the most painful thing a woman can go through, alone, while you went chasing after Dot. So what? Now that Dot’s kicked you out you want to revisit the past? What’s next, a visit with Diane? And blackmailing her to work on the album? What the hell’s with that?”
“It’s like I told her. We’re going into unchartered waters here. I need people whose judgement I trust around us, and I want the best. You remember what a big help she was back at the beginning. I trust her instincts. I always have. And she knows both the country and the rock sides of the industry.”
Richie stared at his best friend. “Is that the story you expect us to swallow?”
“It’s the truth.” Jon insisted.
Richie wasn’t buying it. “Mmmm. Part of it maybe, but not the biggest part.” He paused. “What are you hoping to get out of this Jon? Absolution? A chance to tell her that now, maybe, you have some idea of how she felt?”
“All I’m hoping for is a good album.” Richie just stared at him. He sighed. “I don’t know what I’m hoping for. I just....had to see her. I had to see that she was doing okay.”
“Eighteen years later? It’s a little late don’t you think? Why are you so intent on dredging up the past? She’s obviously moved on, and she didn’t exactly seem thrilled to see you. Why can’t you just leave well enough alone?”
Jon frowned into his wine. “I...I...I just can’t. She haunts me Rich. She always has.”
“Is it her or your guilty conscience?”
Before Jon could answer, David and Tico joined them. The waitress followed them and took their orders.
Leaning back in his chair, David studied Jon for a moment. “What did you want to call this album again?”
“Lost Highway, why?”
David shrugged. “After today, I thought you might want to change it. To Highway of Lost Loves or Lost Love Found, or something like that.” He sipped the drink the waitress set down in front of him. “It was great to see Ronnie again wasn’t it? She looks really good.”
“Yeah, she does.” Tico agreed. “She looks healthy and happy. I hope nothing happens to change that.” He didn’t say anymore. He didn’t have to. The look he gave Jon said it all.
Jon was ready to growl in frustration. “I’m not here to hurt her, dammit!”
Richie gave him an exasperated look. “You don’t seem to get it man. Just seeing you hurts her.”
The next night in a restaurant across town Veronica met up with Lori and a couple other friends and co-workers for their usual Saturday night out. She sank into a chair with a sigh.
“Sorry I’m late.”
“It looks like you should have been a little later yet....and taken a nap!” Lori looked her over critically. “What’s the matter? Didn’t you sleep last night?”
Veronica shrugged. “Not really.” She wasn’t about to tell them that she’d spent most of the night reliving bad memories, and that what little sleep she got was disturbed by nightmares – well, one nightmare really, the same one she’d had for years and that had only stopped about twelve years ago.
“I wouldn’t be able to sleep either if I was going to be working with Rock Gods next week.” Naomi sighed dreamily. While none of the girls would call themselves fans, they certainly knew who Bon Jovi was.
Veronica raised a brow at Lori, who smiled sheepishly. “The word’s all over the office. So is your little.....discussion... with Jon in the hallway.”
“Yeah, what’s up with that? Office scuttlebutt says that you know them, and that you had a relationship with Mr. Rockstar himself... and that judging by the sparks flying in the hallway it must have been a pretty heavy duty one.” Tricia added.
“And what else does this font of information have to say?” Veronica asked dryly.
“That when John asked you to help with their album you said no, and that you were blackmailed into agreeing.” Tricia admitted.
Veronica snorted. “Well at least the mill is accurate.”
“So it’s true then? You actually said no?” Naomi was shocked. “Why would you turn down an opportunity to work with them? I’d give my right arm to spend some time with them.”
“You mean him.” Trish corrected her friend with a nudge. Naomi always had an eye for good looking men and had been gushing about Jon ever since he’d walked into the studio.
Naomi didn’t disagree. “Well, what do you expect? The man is gorgeous!”
Lori hadn’t looked away from Veronica’s face. “And what about the relationship?” She couldn’t help but feel a little hurt. She’d thought that she and Veronica were close. They had a lot of interests in common and had shared a lot over the last ten years. She’d told Veronica everything about herself and her life. She’d thought that Veronica had shared as much with her as well. But she’d never so much as mentioned Bon Jovi, or, come to think about it, anything about her time on the rock and roll side, other than that she worked for Polygram. Knowing Veronica as well as she did, the only conclusion she could draw was that it was too painful to talk about.
Veronica shrugged. “Usual story. Girl meets boy. Boy becomes big star and decides that the high school sweetheart was more to his liking. End of story.” Her tone made it very clear that as far as she was concerned, it was indeed the end of the story, and the end of the discussion.
Lori knew there was more to the story – a whole lot more – but she would abide by her friend’s obvious desire to keep it to herself. For now.