Veronica landed in Newark mid morning to find a car and driver waiting to take her to her hotel, then to the Prudential Centre where everyone was preparing for an unprecedented ten day run. After dropping off her bags she sat drumming her fingers on the door handle of the car, silently rehearsing what she was going to say to Jon when she arrived at the Centre.
It had been over a month and a half since she’d gotten the call from her boss that she was to join Bon Jovi, first for the ten night run in Newark, then for the tour, to be the label’s representative and help with promotion. When she pointed out that they didn’t do that anymore, Vince had told her that since this was an unusual situation of a rock band crossing over slightly and attracting country fans, the label wanted to have an ‘inside eye’ so to speak on how everything played out, and since she knew the guys and was there through the recording of the album, she was the best person on staff to fill the role.
Just thinking about that conversation made her snort. It was a nice cover story, but she knew the truth. Jon was intent on getting what he wanted and since she wouldn’t give in and bow to his wishes, he’d pulled some strings to force her to be near him. She wasn’t sure what pissed her off more...his arrogant manipulation, or the part of her that was actually looking forward to being around him. She shook her head ruefully. I need to go back into therapy. I don’t know where these masochistic feelings are coming from! I must be crazy to want to be even in the same state, let alone within shouting distance – or touching distance! She refused to acknowledge that maybe – just maybe – her wounds weren’t as healed as she thought they were, and she craved the comfort only he could provide.
When the car stopped in front of a back door to the Centre, Jack, her driver, opened her door for her and handed her a plastic pass on a lanyard. “Here. You’ll need this until the crew get to know you.”
She glanced down at the Access All Areas pass. “Thanks.” Squaring her shoulders, she took a deep breath, headed for the door, showed the guard her pass, and entered. Inside she headed down a hallway, in search of the resident dictator. A few staff members looked at her curiously, but one look at her face warned them not to approach her.
A slender man with glasses walked out of a room and did a double take when he saw her. “Ronnie? Is that you?”
Her eyes widened. “Obie?”
“Hey!” He hugged her. “How are you?”
“I’ve been better. Listen, I’ll catch up with you later, okay? Right now, I need to have a few words with the tyrant. Where is he?”
Obie fought a grin. “Turn left at the next hallway and his dressing room is the second door on the right.”
As she continued down the hall as per Obie’s directions, Obie followed. Paul Korzilius, the tour manager came out of the command centre and saw him. “Where are you going Ob?”
“To watch the fireworks.”
“The ones that are about to erupt between our new head of promotions and our fearless, but slightly autocratic leader.”
“What makes you think that there’s going to be fireworks?” Paul glanced at the dark haired woman striding down the hallway in front of them.
“She called him a tyrant.” When Paul still looked confused, he explained. “Ronnie worked with us back in the 80s and she and Jon had a relationship. She’s very good at her job and won’t take any crap from Jon. He used to try to make her do things his way, but if she didn’t agree, she wouldn’t. The more he pushed, the more she pushed back, and the louder the argument got. What really drove Jon nuts was that she was usually right.”
“But she just got here. How could he have pissed her off already?”
Obie shrugged. “I don’t know, but by the look on her face, I’m betting we’ll all be able to hear.”
Veronica threw open the door without knocking. A quick glance showed that he was alone. “Well, if it isn’t the high and mighty Jon Bon Jovi.” Her tone was scathing.
“Shut the door.” Jon’s voice was calm. He’d been anticipating her mood.
“Why? Afraid your staff will find out what an arrogant prick you are? Sorry Jon, but if they’ve been around you for more than a day they already know.” The door slammed shut.
Paul sighed. “I guess I better tell Tiffany she’s back on promotions detail.”
Obie looked surprised. “Why?”
Paul gestured towards the closed door. “You heard her. He’ll send her packing.”
“No he won’t.” Richie spoke from behind them. “That would defeat his purpose in bringing her here.”
It was Paul’s turn to be surprised. “You mean she can talk to him like that.....and he’ll take it?”
The other two men nodded. “She’s one of the few that can.” Richie added.
“Well, this certainly ought to make for an interesting tour.” Paul didn’t know whether to stock up on Tums or popcorn.
“What happened to not forcing me to do something I didn’t want to do?” Veronica demanded.
Jon leaned against the dressing table and watched her. God, she was beautiful when she was angry! The way her eyes shot purple flames, and her hair floated around her face and shoulders as she paced. He used to love pushing her buttons just to watch her erupt. “I didn’t make you come here, your boss did.”
“Bullshit! You know, as well as I do that record companies don’t send reps on tour with established bands anymore. If extra help is needed, the local reps take care of it. No. You did this. What did you do? Threaten to switch labels.....or promise Vince something if he sent me out? What I don’t get is why? Why do you want me here?”
“You know why.”
She snorted. “You’re a real piece of work, you know that? I asked you to let the past stay buried, I told you that I didn’t want anything to do with you, I asked you to leave me alone, but you don’t care. Everything has to be your way. Well, guess what Jon, you don’t own me! You can’t make me fall in line with your grand plan! Everything about Doc that you hated, you’ve become. And to think that I loved you once. Now, I don’t even like you!”
“You don’t mean that, you’re just pissed.”
She shook her head. “You use and manipulate and walk all over people to get what you want and to hell with their feelings! Do you know how people like that end up?”
“Rich and successful?”
“Lonely and alone!”
Before Jon could reply the door burst open and two little boys aged about five and three ran in and tackled him. “Daddy!”
“Hey guys!” He looked up to see his older two – and their mother - standing in the doorway. “It’s okay, come on in.”
Jesse stepped into the room and when his eyes lit on Veronica, they widened. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Veronica murmured.
Without taking his eyes off of her he walked towards a chair, tripped, and fell into it, pulled out a video game and proceeded to ignore everyone else in the room – except for the continuous glances towards Veronica.
Stephanie rolled her eyes at her oldest brother, and gave her father and Veronica an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. We didn’t know there was anyone in here. We can come back.”
Veronica shook her head. “No it’s fine. I was just leaving.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. The sight of Jon with his children was too much for her to take right now. She headed for the door and nodded to the older woman. “Dot.”
“Ronnie.” Dorothea replied and watched her walk down the hall. She turned back to her ex-husband. “What are you doing Jon?”
He shrugged. “You’re the one who reminded me how badly I treated her. I’m just trying to make amends.”
“She won’t put up with the attitude, and she won’t jump just because you say so.” She warned him.
Jon smiled wryly. “So she just reminded me.”