He found her standing in the courtyard, empty now except for the ashtrays in the smoking corner, but in the summer it would be filled with tables. She was staring up at the stars, hugging herself and rubbing her arms against the chill December air. Walking up behind her, he draped her coat over her shoulders. She slid her arms into the sleeves and pulled the coat closed. She heard the snick of his lighter and the acrid smell of tobacco smoke teased her nostrils.
He drew deeply on the cigarette and blew out a long steady stream of smoke. “I guess I deserved that. But you know, you’re not the only one feeling the tug of old memories here.” He took another drag. “I have no excuse for my behaviour back then. I’m sorry I hurt you.”
She sighed. “What happened to us Jon? I thought we were happy. Was I wrong?”
“No, you weren’t wrong.”
“How did it all fall apart then?”
“I don’t know. Circumstances as much as anything I guess. We were young, we had people pulling us in so many directions, determined to keep us apart. Everything was....crazy, hectic....out of control. And then, when....” He trailed off and took another drag. “I wasn’t prepared. I couldn’t deal with it.....and I ran away.” Another drag. “ And after.....I couldn’t face what I’d done to you.”
She was silent for a long moment. “For a long time I thought that it was my fault. That you.... blamed me.”
He could hear the pain and tears in her voice. His gut clenched. A flick of a finger disposed of the cigarette and he stepped up and wrapped his arms around her, ignoring the stiffening of her body. “No! Oh honey, no!” One hand stroked her hair. “I was as much to blame as you were – maybe more. I never blamed you.” Framing her face with both hands, he lifted it until their eyes met. “It wasn’t your fault!” Her eyes were shining with unshed tears as they searched his, looking for ....she didn’t really know what. Comfort, answers, maybe....the truth. He bent and brushed his lips over hers. “It wasn’t your fault Nica.” He sipped at her. Again. And again, increasing the pressure each time.
Her hands came up between them to press against his chest. He didn’t move. “Don’t Nica. Don’t push me away. Please. Let me in. Let me help you!” His tongue traced her lips, his teeth closing gently on her bottom lip. “Don’t you remember how good it was?” When her lips parted in response to his teasing, his tongue slid inside briefly to taste her. “Tell me you remember, Nica. Tell me!”
Too many memories and emotions were coming at her at once, and she was so tired of fighting them. “Yes.... I remember.” She sighed, her fingers curling into his jacket, her mouth opening more as she kissed him back.
With a soft groan his arms wrapped around her and pulled her closer. His head tilted and he deepened the kiss. Her hands released him, one lifting to slide into his hair, the other slipping inside his open jacket to stroke down his chest and burrow under his sweater to feel his warm skin.
He sucked in a breath and returned the favour, his fingers tangling in her curls, his other hand finding its way beneath her clothing and coasting over the skin of her abdomen to cup her breast. At the sound of the moan purring in her throat, he bent her back slightly so that their hips were pressed closer together. She couldn’t help but feel the proof of his desire as he rocked against her. For long minutes the only sounds in the courtyard were the muted voices from the restaurant, and the moans and sighs that neither one could suppress.
Suddenly, Veronica froze and tried to pull away. He didn’t want to let her go. She began to fight in earnest. “Jon, don’t. Let me go.”
“Dammit Jon! LET ME GO!” As his arms relaxed, she jerked away from him, sobbed once and fled inside.
“What the hell?!” He couldn’t figure out what had happened. One minute she was warm and willing in his arms, and the next she was pushing and clawing to get away. Growling, he raked a hand through his hair.
Then he heard it. The wail of a young baby. His anger drained away, replaced by nausea. “Fuck!” He turned and rushed after her.
“Where is she?” He glanced around, but couldn’t see her.
“She left. Said she was going back to the hotel.” Richie answered. “What the hell happened out there? She looked like she’d seen a ghost.”
Jon’s lips twisted. “Pretty close.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out some bills and threw them on the table. “I’m going back too.” He wanted to be there in case she needed him. He suspected that it was going to be a rough night for her.
The guys watched him walk out the door, exchanged looks, waved over the waitress to settle the bill and followed him.
“NO! Oh God no! I can’t do this! JON! Where is he? I need him! I can’t do this alone! Oh God please! JON!!” Veronica bolted upright in bed, shaking, her face wet with tears, breath hiccupping in her chest as the sobs were ripped from her throat. Stumbling from the bed she turned on the light, collapsed into a chair, and unable to fight it anymore, let the tears come.
On the other side of the wall, Jon was jerked from sleep by the sound of his name being screamed. “Shit!” This was what he’d been afraid of. He jumped up and rushed to the door that connected their rooms, sparing a moment to wonder if she even realized it was there. He could hear her crying. His hand rattled the knob. It was locked from her side. He knocked. “Ronnie? Are you okay? Honey, open the door. Let me in.” There was no break in the heartrending sobs. Yanking on a pair of sweats, he threw open the door to the hallway, and found his bandmates standing there, concerned frowns on all of their faces.
“What’s going on? Who was that screaming?” David yawned and glanced around the hallway.
“Ronnie.” Jon answered and banged on her door. “Ronnie? Open the door, honey.”
“What happened?” Tico growled.
“I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess I’d say she had a nightmare.” He banged some more. “Nica please! I need to see that you’re okay.”
The only response was the sound of her continued weeping.
“That’s it. Somebody call the front desk.” Jon was getting into that room one way or another.
“Way ahead of you bro.” Richie replied walking out of his room. “They’re sending someone up with a passkey.”
A couple minutes later the elevator dinged and the doors slid open to reveal the concierge. “Is there a problem Mr. Bon Jovi?”
“Yes, I need you to open this door.” He gestured to Veronica’s room.
The concierge frowned. “But....”
Jon cut him off. “Let’s skip the ‘hotel policy’ speech okay? I’m paying for the room, and in case you don’t recognize that sound, she’s upset and I need to get in there and make sure she’s alright.”
The concierge approached the door, still unsure, until he heard her crying as though her heart was breaking. Sliding the card into the lock, he turned the handle and pushed inward, only catching a glimpse of a woman curled up in a chair before he was nudged aside and four men pushed by him into the room.
“Thanks. We’ve got it from here.” Richie assured him.
“Is she okay? Can I get her anything?”
“We’ll let you know. She’ll be fine. Thanks again.” Richie closed the door.
Jon knelt in front of her chair. “Ronnie, what’s the matter? What happened?”
She just shook her head.
He pulled her hands away from her face. “Come on sugar, talk to me. Are you hurt? Was it a nightmare?” She nodded. He let out a breath. “Tell me about it.” She shook her head again. He ran out of patience. “Ok Ronnie, enough of this! You’ve got to talk to me! It’s eating you up inside. You’ve got to let it out. What happened all those years ago? Tell me all the details.”
She shook her head again, sobs still racking her body.
His temper snapped. “Dammit Ronnie, I have a right to know. It was my baby too! You’re not the only one who lost a child!”
Her head jerked up and she stared at him in disbelief. The guys held their breath. A second later the silence of the room was broken by the sound of flesh meeting flesh as her hand connected with his face with all the strength in her arm. “How dare you!”