After the guys had left, Veronica went to her office to catch up on her messages. A tap on her door had her looking up to see John McBride standing in the doorway. She smiled. “Hi John, come on in.”
“Hi Veronica. I just stopped by to tell you that you did a great job with Bon Jovi and to say thanks.” He hesitated. “I know that it wasn’t easy for you and I’m sorry about the way you got pushed into doing it.”
She smiled. “Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. What Jon wants, Jon gets. That’s just the way it is. You know the type.”
“Still, you did a great job under difficult circumstances and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it. I told Vince what a great help you were, and how hard you’d worked and suggested that you take a couple weeks off. He agreed. So once you finish whatever it is you’re doing, you’re out of here for two whole weeks. Go lay on a breach somewhere. Get some sun...and maybe get rid of those circles under your eyes.”
She chuckled. “Thanks John. I really appreciate that.” She could use the break. He didn’t have to tell her about the circles....she knew how worn out and haggard she looked. It matched the way she felt. What surprised her was Vince, her boss, giving her two weeks off on such short notice that easily. Not that he was difficult to work for or uncaring or uncompassionate, but he ran a tight ship and unless it was an emergency he wanted at least two weeks notice for vacation requests and preferably a month. She didn’t think she wanted to know what John had said to get Vince to agree.
The more she thought about it the more a beach sounded like heaven. After returning a few phone calls and answering a few e-mails, she logged onto her favourite travel site and checked out hotels and flight times.
The next night she met the girls for dinner. Sliding into her chair, she smiled. “Hi.”
Lori smirked. “Well don’t you look like someone who’s just been granted parole.”
“I would too if I’d just been given two weeks off!” Naomi grumbled good-naturedly. “Are you sure you don’t need some company?”
Veronica laughed. “Actually, I’m looking forward to having some time to myself.” She turned serious. “I need to regroup after the last two weeks in purgatory....find my centre of balance again.”
Tricia reached over and squeezed her hand. “Is there anything we can do?”
Veronica shook her head. “No, but thanks for the offer. I just need a little time and peace and quiet.”
“If you really don’t want to talk about it, you can say so, but.....why did Jon search you out after, what, eighteen years?” Lori broached the subject they’d all been dying to ask about.
Veronica sighed. “Yeah. I’m not really sure. He said something about them trying something new and wanting someone around whose instincts he trusted.” She paused. “And he wanted to apologize for something that happened a long time ago.”
When she didn’t say any more, the others exchanged a glance. “And does that make up for whatever happened? Or even help at all?” Naomi asked.
Veronica shook her head. “Not even close. I don’t think anything ever will. Look, I know you all want to know what happened, but I really don’t want to talk about it. Suffice it to say that it was the most painful time in my life and he was partly to blame for it – not completely, but he was a big part of it. I spent months in therapy learning how to cope with it. I thought I had gotten over it all, but seeing him brought it all back. Now I’m going to spend a couple weeks on a beach in Mexico stuffing it all away and getting my head in the right space again to focus on the future, not the past.”
“Will he leave you alone now, or will he continue to pester you now that he’s found you again?” Lori voiced Veronica’s fear.
Veronica shrugged. “I don’t know. I’d like to think that he’ll leave me alone. I’ve asked him to, but....”
“But?” Lori prodded.
“But he’s very stubborn and used to getting his way. I didn’t give him whatever he was looking for and that would drive him crazy. He may not let it go. I’ll just have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
“Arrogant jerk!” Tricia spoke for all of them. Veronica snorted, but didn’t disagree.
Veronica spent the next two weeks walking in the surf, lying on the beach, gorging herself on burritos, enchiladas and margarita’s.....and thinking. Using the tricks and exercises her therapist had taught her, she was able to put Jon and the past back into perspective and back into its place in her psyche. She returned refreshed, recharged and ready to face the future. She quickly settled back into her normal routine, relaxing even more as her life resumed its previous, balanced path.
Her peace lasted until just before Christmas.
She was packing up getting ready to head out to the studio’s annual Christmas party when her phone rang. Without looking at the display, she picked it up. “Veronica Watson.”
Her stomach clenched. “What do you want Jon?”
“I just want to talk to you.”
“Well I still don’t want to talk to you. Goodbye Jon.”
“Come on Ronnie.”
“What part of ‘goodbye’ don’t you understand?” She slammed the phone down and sat there staring at it.
“Veronica? Are you ready?” Lori appeared in the doorway.
“Yeah. Let’s go.” Veronica grabbed her purse and stood.
“What’s wrong?” Lori frowned and followed her down the hallway.
Veronica didn’t answer until they’d reached the lobby where Naomi and Tricia were waiting. “I just got a call from Jon.” She looked at Naomi. “I won’t pick up if he calls again, so he may try to go through you.”
Naomi nodded. “Don’t worry, I won’t put him through. Are you alright? What did he want?”
Veronica shrugged. “I’m fine. I don’t know what he wanted. I didn’t give him a chance to say. I hung up.”
The other three nodded. They agreed that it was the right thing to do. Shaking off the downturn in her mood, she linked arms with Lori and Naomi. Tricia linked with Naomi. “Come on girls, let’s go have some Christmas cheer....on John’s tab!”
The next several months passed in peace. Jon had called a couple more times, but finally gave up when she either hung up on him or wouldn’t answer at all – or so she thought. Naomi didn’t tell her that Jon had called the main switchboard several times.
Spring meant award season and Nashville geared up. Veronica was kept busy running all over helping with organization and lining up artists and generally touching base with all of Mercury’s stable to determine who was going to be where and looking for opportunities to promote them.
“Are you going to be here for the CMT awards?” Tricia asked.
Veronica shook her head. “No. I’ll be in Las Vegas that week doing prep work for the CMAs and won’t get back until late that night, so I’m going to miss it.”
“It’s probably just as well.” Naomi responded cryptically. Bon Jovi had agreed to perform.
Veronica raised her brows, thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah.”
“You know who’s on the list to perform then.” Lori framed it as a statement, not a question.
Veronica nodded. “Yeah. It’s bad enough that the new single is playing on both the rock and country stations. I can’t get away from it. I don’t need to see him on top of it.” Especially that song!
The day after the awards, Naomi greeted Veronica as she came in the door. Veronica leaned against the reception desk. “So how’d it go last night?”
Naomi grimaced. “Just the usual minor crises of people not being where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be.” She’d been asked to help organize the backstage area. She hesitated. “Jon asked me where you were. He seemed....not desperate exactly, but there was definitely some sort of urgency to his request.”
“Hmm. What did you tell him?”
“The truth. That you were in Vegas preparing for the CMAs. Do you still want me to block his calls?”
“Yes. Thanks Na.”
An hour later her phone rang. Distracted by report she was writing for her boss, she picked it up without checking the display. “Veronica Watson.”
“Hi, Ronnie, it’s me.”
“Goodbye Jon.” She hung up.
A few minutes later, Naomi buzzed her. “Veronica, Jon’s on the phone and he says that he’s not going to stop calling until he talks to you. He says it’s urgent.”
Veronica sighed. “Ok. Put him through.” When she heard Naomi tell him to go ahead, she jumped in before he had the chance. “Dammit Jon....”
He cut her off. “Adam died.”