“Where are you going for Thanksgiving, Ronnie?” David asked, leaning against the wall of the elevator. The show and after party were over and they had a two week break for the holiday.
“I thought your mother lived in Chicago.” Jon frowned.
“My mother died seventeen years ago.”
There was silence, then a chorus of murmured ‘sorry’s’. Jon’s frown deepened. The thought of everything that she’d lost within a short period of time, and of her being alone in the world bothered him.
“You’re welcome to come to L.A. with me.” Richie offered. “Ava and Ma would love to see you again.”
Veronica smiled. “Thanks, but Lori’s mother would be very upset if I didn’t have dinner with them. It’s become a tradition over the last ten years.”
“Are you sure?” Jon pressed.
She nodded. “Yes, but....thanks.” She acknowledged the concern he was showing. Ever since their confrontation earlier, they’d both been calmer. She’d stopped ignoring him and he’d stopped sniping at everyone. Apparently they both had needed to let off a little steam - at each other. “They’ve become my family.”
And that had been true for the last ten years, ever since she and Lori had become friends and Lori’s family had learned that Veronica was alone. They’d taken her into their home and hearts and treated her as one of their own. She’d never felt like an outsider and her feelings of loneliness and the longing for a family of her own had been held at bay...until this year.
Veronica stood in the doorway to the livingroom and watched Lori’s brother and his wife play with their six month old baby and tried to ignore the ache in her heart. Sighing, she gave herself a mental shake and a stern admonition to stop dreaming about things that could never be. She turned towards the kitchen to help with the meal.
“How are things going on the road Veronica?” Lori’s mother inquired. “I hope they’re treating you well. Are you getting enough rest? You look tired.”
“I’m fine. It’s been awhile since I’ve toured like this. I just need a little time to adjust.” Veronica assured her.
“It’s got to be more comfortable than it was back in the 80s though.” Lori commented.
“Yeah. Instead of doing a show, climbing on a dirty, crowded bus, travelling to the next spot through the night, getting up and doing it all again, day after day, week after week for months, now they do a show and either stay the night in a luxury hotel or climb on the private jet to the next spot and rest the next day. The shows are well spaced out and they take plenty of time off around the holidays. All in all, it’s much more relaxed than the old days.”
Two days later, Veronica, Lori, Naomi and Tricia met for dinner and drinks. When the waitress brought their drinks and left, Lori turned to Veronica. “Okay, now that we’re away from my nosy family, tell us how it’s really going.”
Veronica smiled. “Oh, it’s going okay. The audiences are really responding to the new album.”
“Jon’s not being too....overbearing?” Tricia asked.
“Oh he tries, but I ignore it for the most part.”
“And when you don’t?”
“Obie calls it fireworks.”
Lori considered her friend’s expression. “So how are you making him pay for forcing you to join them?”
Veronica smirked. “What makes you think I am?”
Three snorts followed her question. “Because we know you.”
She grinned. “From the very beginning, there’s one part of the business that Jon has always really disliked. Interviews and photo ops. He does it because he knows it’s necessary, but if he can find a way out of it, he will.”
“So you scheduled packed days of it.” Naomi guessed.
Veronica nodded. “And because he’s told everyone how he brought me out because I’m the only one he trusts to do the job right, he can’t say no.”
“So he either has to do it, or send you home.” Lori summarized.
“I bet that’s sitting well.” Tricia commented dryly.
“You could say that he’s a little frustrated.” Veronica allowed.
The girls laughed and toasted Veronica’s devious plan. Sipping her drink, Naomi hesitantly broached the subject they were all concerned about. “Is he still pushing you to .....talk about the past?”
“Not like he was here. Since that didn’t work, he’s changed tactics. He’s trying to.....seduce me....for lack of a better explanation. Trying to show that I still have feelings for him.....and him for me if I believe him.”
“Is it working?” Lori couldn’t resist asking.
Veronica sighed. “More than I’d like – or will ever admit to him. Gretchen says that I need to get laid and that I should take him up on his offer.”
“So why don’t you? You have to admit, the man’s gorgeous!” Naomi fanned herself. “Unless he’s not as good in bed as he looks like he’d be.” At Veronica’s involuntary shiver and remembering smile, Naomi sighed dreamily. “That’s what I thought.”
“So why don’t you go for it?” Tricia repeated.
Veronica grimaced. “Too much history, too much.....emotion, too many bad memories. Not a good candidate for a bit of tension relief.”
“What if he’s looking for something a little more....long term?” Lori watched her friend carefully. She’d always wondered what caused Veronica to avoid long term relationships, and while she still didn’t know the specifics, she had a strong feeling that it had something to do with Jon.
Veronica shook her head. “It would never work. Too much to overcome there. Besides, he’s got four kids to focus on.” Her lips twisted. “Not to mention that his mother hates me.”
“Really? Why?” Tricia had never known anyone to dislike Veronica.
“When we were together she accused me of distracting Jon from his obligations and goals, and she’s afraid that I’m going to do it again. Jon says she’s jealous of me. That back then my knowledge of the business and my love for him threatened her control over him and his career. That when he had me he didn’t need her, and she’s afraid that with me back, she’ll lose whatever power she still has over him.”
“And what do you think?” Lori asked.
Veronica shrugged. “I think that whatever the case may have been twenty years ago, Jon’s a big boy and can make his own decisions. But it doesn’t really matter. She’s never going to change her opinion of me. If I was thinking about a relationship with him, it’s just one more reason why it wouldn’t work.”
The other three girls exchanged a look, but refrained from voicing what they were all thinking. It was obvious that there was a lot of unfinished business between Jon and Veronica, despite Veronica’s protestations to the contrary. If Jon wanted her bad enough, he’d deal with his mother.