Veronica’s sleep was once again disturbed by dreams, only this time they weren’t of the horror in her past, but rather erotic memories of her nights – and days for that matter – with Jon. She awoke still tired and more torn than ever.
Jon watched Veronica move around the interview room, ensuring that they had water and anything else they might need, and contemplated how to put his new plan into action. He realized that in order to get the information he wanted from her, and thereby begin the healing of both of their wounds – not to mention the opportunity to charm her into giving him another chance – he needed to get her to talk to him. But she’d made it very clear that she had no interest in any conversation with him other than what was required to do her job. He needed to find another way to get to her and after last night he thought he might have found it. She tried to pretend that she didn’t have any feelings for him anymore, but while her mind might be closed against him, her body wasn’t. It responded to his just like it always had. If he had to inveigle his way into her bed and body before he could reach her heart and mind, well....that wouldn’t exactly be a hardship – for either one of them. He wasn’t being arrogant, he just remembered how incredibly good they’d been together. A slow grin spread across his face and his body tightened in anticipation.
A couple hours later, Jon caught Veronica’s hand as she walked behind the chair he was sitting in. “I need a break.” He murmured, his thumb rubbing her knuckles. She pulled her hand away, smiled at the reporter and photographer sitting opposite him, and ignored him. Ten minutes later, while the photographer was telling him what he wanted, he caught Veronica’s hand again. This time he tugged until she bent down to him and slid his hand around her nape to hold her there – he didn’t want the reporter’s microphone to pick up his words. His lips brushed her ear, and he had to suppress a smirk as he felt her shiver. “My back teeth are floating here, sugar, have some mercy.”
She couldn’t stop her lips from twitching as she straightened and called for a short break. Jon almost ran from the room.
By the time Veronica got back to her hotel room that night she felt like she’d run a marathon. She was exhausted. It wasn’t the work – that she enjoyed and could do - and had on several occasions– for days on end with barely a break long enough to sleep. No, that wasn’t what was using up all her energy. It was Jon. Or more specifically, maintaining her defences against him. All day long – except when he was on stage – it seemed that if she turned around or tried to move or do anything, he was there. She was constantly bumping into him or brushing up against him. She wasn’t naive enough to think it was by accident. And then there were his seemingly casual touches – and some not so casual when there was an outsider around, although he was careful around reporters - every chance he got. He would trail his fingers over her arms and shoulders, around her ears and down her neck. A few times when they were talking to industry people and the few special guests that were invited to the after party he even found an excuse to kiss her cheek or neck, and of course his arm rode her waist. Every touch of his fingers set fire to her skin. Every brush of his lips made her tingle. Every gust of his hot breath on her sent shivers down her spine. She finally took refuge with a table full of staff and crew members, turning down Jon’s invitation to join him and the guys.
Washing her face, she looked at her reflection in the mirror and blew out a deep breath. She didn’t know how long she could hold out against this new form of attack and that both disgusted and scared her. She’d spent a lot of time and money to sort out her feelings for Jon, among other things, and had been so sure she’d put all of that behind her. But, one look, one word, one touch and she found herself once again having to fight his potent lure. As much as her mind screamed at her to remember the pain that came with loving him and to stay as far away from him as she could, her body screamed at her to remember the pleasure that also came with loving him and to grab the chance he was obviously offering to experience it again. It was tearing her apart. Thank God tomorrow was an off day, and even though she had scheduled a few interviews, there was no show and she would have some time to herself to think and get her emotions – and her reactions – back under control. She had to get herself together before Big & Rich came in the next day. She had to be at the top of her game to deal with both Kenny and Jon.
“Veronica! Where’s my feisty little black haired Venus?” Kenny bellowed down the hallway.
Veronica closed her eyes and sighed, before pasting a smile on her face and heading out the door to greet them. Jon’s eyes followed her, a frown forming between his brows. The only thing that stopped him from running after her was the reporter sitting across the table from him....and Richie’s nudge and slight shaking of his head. Instead, Tico, who wasn’t part of this interview, went to see if she needed any help.
“Hi Kenny, hi John.” Veronica greeted them.
They both hugged her. “Hi there darlin’. Are you abandoning Nashville on us sweetheart?” Kenny gave her a chiding look.
She chuckled. “No. I’m just helping these guys navigate the country crowd.”
“She’s a hell of a tour guide.” Tico added, sliding his arm around her shoulders and shaking hands with the other two men. “We’re thinking about kidnapping her and keeping her. She’s a slave driver though.” He winked at her. “Did she give you guys your lists?”
“Yeah. Please tell me that this is for the whole three days that we’re here.” John Rich pleaded.
“Sorry, that’s just today’s.” At the groans her answer elicited, she rolled her eyes. “Oh come on boys, suck it up.”
“You do remember that this is Bon Jovi’s tour and not ours right?” Kenny grumbled.
“That may be true, but you’re part of a unique series of shows here and the media and the industry are curious to see how it goes.”
“Are you making Gretchen do this many?”
“Yes, and I haven’t heard any complaints from her.” Veronica chided them. She started down the hallway. The men followed her meekly.
Tico smirked. “Aren’t you going to argue with her?”
John snorted. “Have you ever tried to argue with her? If she thinks what she’s doing is for the best, you might as well talk to the wall.”
Tico chuckled as they entered the interview room, passing the reporter on his way out. Jon heard John’s comment and his lips twisted into a wry smile. “The worst part is she’s usually right.” He and Richie stood to shake hands.
Kenny sighed. “Yeah, I know. It’s really annoying.”
Veronica flipped them off.
Jon watched Veronica talk and joke around with Kenny and John during sound check and over dinner, which they all shared, and tried to come up with a way to regain the ground he felt he was losing with her. By the time he took the stage he had it.
“Paul for Ronnie.” Veronica was startled to hear her name coming through her radio just as the guys were taking their final bows.
“Go ahead Paul.”
“Jon asked if you would stop by his dressing room for a moment before you head over to the after party.”
She sighed. “10-4.” She tried to get there before he got into the shower, but she was stopped by first Matt, then a staff member with questions about the next day’s schedule. A glance at her watch told her that she’d have to wait until he was done. She waited twenty minutes, then knocked on his door.
It opened to reveal Jon, wearing only a towel that hung low on his hips, and using another to dry his hair. “Hey.”
Veronica couldn’t prevent her eyes from eating up the vision he presented. “Sorry, I thought you’d be finished. I’ll come back.”
“It’s okay. Come on in.” He stepped aside and closed the door once she entered.
“You wanted to see me?”
Jon bit back his reflexive response to her question, leaned against the table and answered the one she really meant. “Yeah. How did the crowd respond to Kenny and John tonight?” He paused. “I want to be prepared to answer questions.”
Veronica was impressed. She knew that he didn’t often explain himself. “They were quite receptive, particularly to the up tempo songs. Of course, they know how to put on a show, so that helps.” She went on to describe what she’d seen. “All in all, I was very pleased.”
Jon nodded, straightened and walked towards his wardrobe. “Good. So, who’s going to be there tonight that I need to talk to?” One tug sent the towel around his waist sailing to land on a chair while he flipped through his pants.
“Jesus Jon! What the hell?!” She raised a hand, turned her head and closed her eyes – although she knew the image was forever burned on her retinas.
“What?” When she waved at his naked form without looking he snorted. “It’s not like you haven’t seen it all before.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“So?” He glanced down. “Nothing’s changed.”
She shook her head. “Everything’s changed.”