Veronica took a deep breath and opened the front door of the studio. One more week Veronica. Just one more week and he’ll be gone. She refused to acknowledge that the pang she felt at the thought was anything other than relief. It certainly couldn’t be regret. “Morning Naomi.”
“Morning Veronica. Ready for another fun filled week with Mr. Gorgeous and the boys?” Movement out of the corner of her eye had her blushing as she once again got caught saying things out loud without checking to see who was within hearing distance.
Veronica snorted. “Oh yeah, it’s a never ending party. I can hardly wait.” The sarcasm was thick in her voice.
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself.” Jon spoke from behind her, deliberately ignoring the sarcasm. When he saw her face he frowned. “You might enjoy it even more if you’d get more sleep.”
“I thought she was going for the Goth look with the black circles under her eyes and white face.” David joined them and offered his opinion. “Hey Ronnie, you know that big yellow ball in the sky? It’s called the sun. If you spend some time in it, it will give some colour to your skin and you won’t look like the living dead.”
“Well I guess that’s going to have to wait until you guys leave since you take so long to get anything done that it’s dark by the time we get out of the studio.” She shot back. “Ow!”
“I told you to watch yourself little girl.” Richie reminded her.
“Pinch my ass again Jughead and I’ll pinch something of yours that’ll hurt a whole lot more! And you know I’ll do it!”
Naomi stared at her friend, stunned that she would talk to these guys like that. Glancing around, she noticed that none of them were surprised. In fact, most of them were grinning – even Richie. The only ones surprised were the two that had entered just in time to hear Veronica’s threat.
Veronica felt hands grip her and lift her off her feet. “She’s a feisty little thing isn’t she?”
She hid her annoyance and smiled inwardly as a frown creased Jon’s forehead. “Kenny put me down!” Big Kenny had been trying to put the moves on her for the better part of a year now. Veronica, for professional reasons, tried to put him off gently, - a long term relationship wasn’t in the cards for her, - but he didn’t seem to be getting the message and continued his pursuit. Her patience was wearing thin. If he didn’t stop she was afraid that she was going to say something she shouldn’t and it could have permanent repercussions. When he set her on her feet, she stepped away from him and turned to greet his partner. “Hi John.”
“Hi Veronica. Good to see you.” John Rich was as polite as Kenny was......not.
After the guys all exchanged greetings, Jon moved to stand beside Veronica and turned them towards the studio. “Let’s get to work.” Big and Rich were there to record a song with the Jovi boys. Jon led the way down the hallway, his hand riding the small of her back. Veronica stiffened and shot him a look, but for once didn’t evade the contact. At this point he was the lesser of two evils – or at least the one she felt better equipped to handle. After all, she really didn’t care if she pissed Jon off. It wouldn’t be the first time and would have little to no effect on her career.
It took the better part of the morning to get the song laid down to everyone’s satisfaction. Veronica was ready to pull her hair out. To make matters worse, Kenny and John accepted Jon’s invitation to stick around. He wished he’d kept his mouth shut when Kenny went into the control booth and pulled up a chair beside Veronica.
They packed it in early that day and all went out to a nearby bar for dinner and drinks. Kenny wouldn’t allow Veronica to decline, so she called in Naomi, Lori and Tricia for back up. The girls were only too happy to spend the evening with Bon Jovi – and it wasn’t the first time they’d run interference with Big Kenny.
“So you guys knew Veronica back in the 80s.” Lori couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn a bit more about a time in her friend’s life that she never talked about.
Richie smiled and nodded. “Yeah. She worked with us on our first four albums. She started out as a little squirt of an intern at Polygram and clicked so well with us that we insisted that she continue to help us. She’s always had a feeling for songs...what will sell and what won’t.”
Lori glanced around the table, saw that everyone else was occupied and lowered her voice. “And when did the relationship with Jon start?”
Richie too glanced around. “A few months before we started recording Slippery.” There was no sense denying it. It was obvious with every look and word they exchanged.
Richie hesitated then shook his head. “You’ll have to ask her.”
“Ooh, I love this song! Come on girls, let’s dance.” Veronica called from the other side of the table. She liked the song well enough, but her main purpose was to get away from Kenny for a few minutes. Trying to remain polite was wearing her out, especially when she had to worry about keeping Jon at a distance as well. She felt like the flag on a tug-of-war rope.
When they returned to the table and sat down, Richie winked at her. “You still got the moves little girl.”
“Thanks Jughead. You should have joined us.”
“Why does he call you ‘little girl’?” Naomi asked.
Veronica’s lips twisted into a wry smile. “Because I’m almost a foot shorter than him and when we met I was a young woman of nineteen to his old man of twenty-five. He needed to remind himself that I was off limits to him since I was so young.”
Richie smirked. “You were off limits alright, but it had nothing to do with your age.” He shot a look at Jon, who smiled a little smugly. Veronica saw and rolled her eyes. Kenny frowned and looked back and forth between Jon and Veronica speculatively. Richie looked back at Naomi. “Aren’t you going to ask why she calls me Jughead?”
“No, that’s pretty obvious.” Naomi responded. Laughter erupted around the table. Richie pouted. Veronica winked at him.
“I don’t get it.” Kenny disagreed.
“Read an Archie comic and you will.” Tricia advised him. “So we’ve got Veronica and Jughead, I’m assuming Jon is Archie....who’s Betty?”
“David.” They chorused. David flipped them off.
A change in the music had David grinning. “Hey Ronnie, there’s your song.”
Veronica listened for a moment, confused, then it clicked. She smirked. “I don’t know why you were so shocked. You’re the one who dared me to go to a strip club with you.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think you’d get up on stage and dance!”
“WHAT?!” The other girls exclaimed in unison.
“You got up and danced on stage at a strip club?” Tricia was stunned. “Did you use the pole?”
The men all nodded. “You were in rare form that night.” David added. “I wonder if Vancouver will ever let us go back?”
Veronica snickered. “I blame the tequila.”
“Waitress!” Several hands around the table went up.
“The second show was even better.” Jon commented and caught Veronica’s eye. She blushed and felt her body respond to the memory of that very private dance and the heat of his gaze. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t look away.
David frowned. “Second show? I don’t remember a second show.”
“I don’t think we were invited.” Richie noted her flushed face and the sudden tension and sparks shooting between her and Jon. So did Kenny and his frown deepened.