The first interview was for Jon and Richie and was being filmed, so Veronica gave them both the once over before the camera started rolling. Smoothing the lapels of Richie’s jacket, she raised a brow at the amount of bare chest he had on display and rolled her eyes when he smirked.
“Shameless.” She murmured. He grinned.
Moving to Jon, she straightened the collar of his shirt, hesitated, then opened another button and spread the sides open slightly. His eyes, already icy, darkened more and narrowed. “I’m not a stud to be put on display.” He kept his voice low.
She snorted softly. “Since when?” She shrugged. “If you’ve got it, flaunt it babe. Or are you afraid of the girls’ reaction when they see the gray in that famous fur?” He gave her a withering look. She chuckled and reached up to adjust a lock of his hair. “Smile. You don’t want the people watching to think that you’re moody and bad-tempered.” She gazed at him with a wide-eyed innocent expression.
His lips twitched. He lifted a hand to skim her jaw and tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear. “You’re going to drive me crazy aren’t you?”
“Sorry you made me come here?”
He shook his head slowly. “I regret a lot of things where you’re concerned, but bringing you here isn’t one of them.”
The intensity in his eyes sparked an unwanted warmth deep in her core and she moved to sit on a nearby couch to monitor the interview.
About halfway through the day’s list, they were waiting while the cameraman adjusted his lights. Veronica was looking over her notes from the last interview when Richie plopped down beside her. When he didn’t say anything, she looked up to find him studying her. “What?”
“Just wondering whether all this was really necessary....or whether you’re trying to piss him off enough that he’ll let you go home.”
“Whatever would make you think that?”
“Because, little girl, I know, that you know, how much he hates this stuff, and yet you’ve scheduled packed days of it.”
She smiled slowly. “Well, let’s just say it won’t hurt.”
He sighed. “That’s what I thought. But why are you punishing the rest of us because of his actions?”
“Oh come on, it’s not that bad. You guys always have to do some of this. It could be worse. If you noticed, I’m letting you sleep in the mornings after shows.”
“And for that I am eternally grateful.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
She laughed. Neither one of them noticed Jon watching them, a slight frown wrinkling his brow.
The interviews ended with half an hour to spare before sound check. As the last reporter left the room, the guys heaved a collective sigh of relief and collapsed dramatically around the room in exaggerated exhaustion.
Veronica considered them. “What’s the matter guys? Too old to handle it anymore? No stamina?”
“Don’t worry, sugar. I’ve got all the stamina you can handle.” Jon assured her.
Her brows rose. “Really? I guess you’ve changed more than I thought then.” The guys hooted. Jon’s eyes glittered.
“Dad? Can we get something to eat soon?” Stephanie appeared in the doorway.
Veronica stood and glanced at her watch. “Sound check in twenty minutes.” She headed for the door.
“Right after sound check Steph. Where’s Jesse? Ronnie, wait.” Jon moved quickly to block her exit, laying a detaining hand on her arm.
“He’s helping Takumi set up Uncle Mookie’s guitars.” Steph eyed Veronica curiously.
“Ronnie, this is Stephanie, my oldest. Sweetie, this is Ronnie. She’s an old friend who’s helping us with promotions and PR.”
Veronica forced herself to smile. “Hello Stephanie. Your mother tells me that you’re looking forward to meeting My Chemical Romance.”
Stephanie nodded. “Hi. Yeah. They’re good.”
“Yes, they are. They should be still be down doing their sound check if you want to watch - if it’s okay with your father.”
Steph turned hopeful eyes to Jon. “Can I Dad?”
“Sure. Come backstage when they’re done and I’ll introduce you.”
Veronica watched the teenager all but run out the door, shook off Jon’s hand and followed.
Jon sighed and turned to see his bandmates staring at him. “What?”
“You really are an insensitive prick aren’t you?” Tico growled.
“What’d I do?”
“Come on, man. Introducing her to Steph?” David shook his head.
“What? She’s got to meet them sometime.” Jon argued.
“Why?” Richie had a pretty good idea, but he wanted to hear it from Jon.
“Because they’re a big part of my life and always will be.”
“And what’s that got to do with Ronnie?”
Jon hesitated. “She was a big part of my life once too.” A determined expression hardened his face. “And she will be again.”
“Uh huh. ‘Cause you’re really showing her how much you care about her and her feelings. I’m sure she’s going to just fall at your feet.” Richie’s sarcasm was cutting.
“I noticed you’re being pretty chummy with her.” Jon couldn’t prevent a little niggle of jealousy from showing.
Richie stared at him. “Don’t be an ass. We’re just friends. God knows she could use all she can get around here. Although, if I thought for a minute that she’d have me, I’d grab her and hold on tight. I sure as hell wouldn’t be stupid enough to throw her away. She’s one in a million.”
“Guys? Obie’s ready for sound check.” A staffer stuck his head in the door and froze at the obvious tension in the room and the scowl on Jon’s face. He braced himself for a blast, but Jon just nodded.
“Ok. We’re on our way.”