Monday morning Veronica watched the sunrise from the balcony of her apartment. She’d watched the sun set from there too, as well as the progression of the stars across the dark sky for most of the long hours of the night. Raising the mug in her hand, she sipped coffee and pulled the blanket more closely around her shoulders to ward off the early morning chill. She hoped the few hours of sleep she’d managed would get her through the day. She closed her eyes. It was going to be a very long couple of weeks. Damn him! It had taken her years and thousands of dollars in therapy – once she’d accepted that she needed help - to learn to cope with her pain and grief and regain her sense of self worth. She’d thought she had put the past firmly behind her, but one look, one word, and it had all come crashing down on her again. She didn’t know if she was strong enough to go through it again. You can’t stop the memories Veronica, so just focus on the happy ones. And there were a lot of those along with the bad. She couldn’t deny that. They had been very happy once – or at least she had thought that they were. She’d loved him with all of her heart. Then the machine got in the way – not to mention Dorothea – then, finally, that fateful event that changed her life forever, made him run, and was the final nail in the coffin of their relationship. Happy memories Veronica! A glance at her watch had her sighing and forcing herself to get up and get ready for a day in the studio.
John Netti, the assistant engineer, looked up when she walked in. “Veronica, hi! You’re here early. Good. What’s the scoop on these guys? Give us some idea what we can expect.”
Veronica smiled at him and the techs setting up around the room. They all turned to hear what she had to say. “Where do you want me to start?”
“Drums.” Keith, the percussion tech spoke up.
“Tico is great. He has this gravely, gruff voice, but he’s really a big teddy bear. You’ll have to watch though. He won’t tell you if something’s wrong, like, say, the kick pedal’s stuck. You’ll have to figure it out yourself.”
“What about keys?” Tony, the keyboard tech asked.
“David was accepted to Julliard, so that will give you some idea of his talent. He can play anything you throw at him. His nickname is Joker and with good reason. He’s a notorious jokester, but he’ll be serious when it comes to the music.”
“And guitar?” This from Jack, the guitar tech.
“Think....Stevie Ray, Clapton, with a bit of Hendrix thrown in and you have Richie. He’s a bluesman to his soul. He can play anything with strings, and by that I mean that he can literally pick up anything with strings and play it. By ear. He’s amazing. He’s the second biggest joker of the bunch, and he and David will play off of each other. So if they seem to be mortal enemies, just ignore it. Oh, and he’s not really a morning person. If he had his way they wouldn’t start until noon.”
“And Jon?” John watched her carefully.
She debated how best to describe him. “Jon’s very professional, but he’s a perfectionist. And he’s extremely stubborn. You can’t tell him anything. You can suggest, but don’t be surprised if he ignores you. He’ll tell you what he wants.”
John’s brows rose. “You knew him, what, twenty years ago?” She nodded. “And he was like that even then?”
She smiled. “You’re surprised that he would be that....confident...back when he was just starting out?” He nodded. “He was a little unsure about the business side of things back then, but when it came to the music, he always knew what he wanted. He wasn’t always right about what would sell, but he knew what he wanted.”
“What about bass?” Jack asked.
She frowned. “I’m not sure who’s playing for them these days. We’ll have to wait and see.”
“It’s not my fault you didn’t get up in time to have breakfast, asshole. This isn’t home where you can sleep until noon. It’s work time.” David’s voice came through the door before he did about half an hour later.
“But you’re the asshole who cancelled my wakeup call! Keep it up Goldilocks and you’re going to meet the big bad wolf up close and personal!” Richie growled as he followed him in, Jon and Tico behind him.
“I think you’re mixing up your fairy tales.” Tico frowned. “I think it was Little Red Riding hood who met the wolf. Goldilocks met bears.”
“Bears, wolf, whatever, he’s going to hurt if he doesn’t quit with the fucking juvenile stunts. Oh, but I forgot – he’s got the maturity of a ten year old, so I guess he can’t help it.”
“What’s the matter old man? Can’t take it?” David retorted.
John and the techs looked at Veronica, their eyes wide. Her lips twisted. “Ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything.” She turned to the guys. “Morning gentlemen.” She eyed David. “And I use the term loosely for some of you. There’s water by each of your stations. Hitman, you may have to adjust your stool. I think I’ve got it right, but it’s been a long time.”
“No problem Ronnie.” He kissed her cheek as he passed her.
“Richie we’ve got three guitar stands set up. Do you need more?”
“Naw, that should be good. Thanks Ronnie.” He too kissed her cheek.
“Anyone want something other than water?” She looked at Richie. “Something to eat?” Glancing around, she frowned. “Maybe a bass player?”
“You called?” A voice spoke from the doorway.
Veronica spun around and grinned. “The Groovemeister! Oh my God! How are you Hugh?” She moved to hug him.
“Hey Ronnie! I’m good. How are you? You look great!”
“Thanks, so do you. Are you working with these guys again?” When Hugh nodded she turned to look at Jon. “Nice to see you finally got smart.”
Jon grimaced. “Yes dear, I know. You were right. I was wrong.” Veronica had never liked Alec John Such, and had made her opinion very clear to Jon. She’d warned him Alec would only cause problems.
Veronica flinched at the endearment, but otherwise ignored it. Her brows rose. “What was that? I was what? You were what? Can I have that in writing?”
“Hey gang. Ready to get to work?” John Shanks entered the room.
“Yeah.” Came from all corners of the room.
Veronica glanced at Jon. “Do you want tea or something?”
He shook his head. “No. Water’s fine for now. Thanks.”
“Ronnie?” Richie stopped her as she headed for the door. “Could I get a bagel or something?”
“Sure.” She winked at him.
If the songs they worked on that day were any indication, the next couple of weeks were going to be even longer than Veronica had feared. The songs dealt with the past, loss, looking back on your life, remembering......all the things she wanted to avoid – especially where Jon was concerned. By the end of the day, she was more than ready to have a drink or two. Besides, maybe it would help her sleep.
“Come on Ronnie, let’s go get some dinner.” Jon invited.
“No thanks, I’ve already got plans.” It wasn’t entirely a lie. She was planning on having a quick dinner, a long soak in a hot tub, a couple glasses of wine, and going to bed early.
Jon wasn’t buying it. “Come on Ronnie. We can talk about the album. You did a great job today by the way.”
Veronica snorted. “Nice try. Look Jon, I know that you’re not used to having someone tell you ‘no’, but the work day’s over. It’s my time now, and I’m choosing not to spend it with you. Have a nice evening boys. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jon frowned in frustration as they watched her walk out the door. She was right. He wasn’t used to people telling him ‘no’ – not women anyway. What did you expect asshole? That you could just walk in and she’d welcome you back with open arms? After what happened you knew this wasn’t going to be easy. If you want a second chance, you’re going to have to work for it.