Veronica thought the show was never going to end. As much as she loved watching them perform, she was exhausted, and she still had to figure out how to deal with Jon afterwards. The looks he kept sending her way told her that he expected to spend the night with her again, but she knew that would be a bad idea. Last night she’d needed his comfort and the forgetfulness he could bring her in bed, but nothing had changed. While they may be a good match in the physical arena, they were a bad bet for a relationship.
Jon bit back the urge to tell the young label rep standing in front of him to fuck off and tried to focus on what the guy was saying. Shit! He was barely out of diapers when I was recording platinum records and he’s going to tell me about the changes in the industry? I wonder if he’s ever owned an LP that wasn’t out of the ‘vintage’ bin? Does he know what an eight track cassette is?
Veronica noticed his distraction, even though he was nodding as if he was listening. She knew him better than that. She poked him with her elbow and gave him a warning look. The hand that was in its usual spot on her waist squeezed, his lips curved slightly and he forced his attention back to the rep.
When the rep walked away and she pointed out the next one, he groaned. Veronica frowned. “Be nice.”
“Have you listened to these guys? I was making albums when they were still suckling their mother’s tit, but they all want to tell me how it’s done.”
“They’re just starting out in the business, they’re still learning and probably grew up with your music. You’re an icon to them, Jon, they don’t know what to say to you, so they tend to babble a little, trying to impress you with their knowledge.” She tried to think of how to put it so that he would understand. “Think back to when you were recording your first album.” He nodded. “Now think about what it would have been like to come face to face with Paul McCartney.” His eyes widened. She nodded. “Exactly. Try to keep that in mind while you’re talking to them and be nice.”
He looked thoughtful for a long minute, then smiled and dropped a kiss on her lips, lifting his head before she could react. “I never thought of it that way before. I guess it kind of makes sense. Thanks honey. I keep telling everyone that you’re more than just a pretty face.” She rolled her eyes and swatted his chest lightly. He chuckled and let her lead him to the rep.
Veronica was very pleased to hear him engage in the conversation instead of acting like he was doing the kid a favour by listening to him. When the rep walked away, Jon turned to her. “Better?”
“Much. That was very good.”
“Thanks teach.” He patted his pockets and frowned. “I don’t have an apple on me. How about dinner?”
“Trying to be the teacher’s pet?”
He grinned. “Trying to get the teacher to pet me.”
She snorted. “Good luck with that.”
“I don’t need luck. I got skills, baby.” He leaned closer to murmur in her ear. “If your memory is really that short, maybe you need a reminder.”
She couldn’t suppress her blush or the shiver that ran down her spine at his words and the feel of his hot breath. She knew she should push him away and cut him down, but she was so tired of being angry at him. She just didn’t have the energy to keep it up anymore. But that didn’t mean she was just going to fall in line with his plans. “Now that’s where the luck comes in Rockstar. Those ‘skills’ you’re so proud of can only be put to use if you get lucky and I let you get close enough to use them.” She patted his cheek and walked away towards the bar.
He couldn’t help but grin as he watched her go. She wasn’t going to make it easy for him, but he didn’t expect her to. She’d always been a bit of a spitfire, and he was glad to see that the painful events of the past hadn’t smothered that flame in her. His smile faded at the realization that although she didn’t seem to be angry with him anymore, she was probably still very leery of getting involved with him again. He couldn’t blame her. All things considered, it was a miracle that she’d even talk to him.
Richie glanced up as Jon took the seat beside him at the table. “So, looks like I won the pool huh?”
“What makes you think that?”
Richie nodded across the room towards where Ronnie was standing, laughing with some members of the crew. “The tension between you is all but gone and you’re both still alive with no signs of bleeding.”
Jon grunted. “Not on the outside, anyway.”
Richie clapped a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “That’ll heal too.”
“How do you know that?” The blue eyes were dark and haunted.
Richie nodded again towards Ronnie. “Because she’s alive and sane.”
“You saw her last night. You call that healed?”
“Then? No. Up until last night she was....surviving. Now? I think her healing has begun. You can see it. The shadows in her eyes aren’t as dark as they were. She needed to talk to you, to get it out before she could truly stop the bleeding.”
“And what do I need to do to heal, Dr. Freud?”
Richie ignored the sarcasm and put on a German accent. “Yu must vip yurself until yu raise velts twice a day und kiss her ass und be her slave for the next decade.” He switched back to his normal voice. “Seriously man, it’s just going to take some time. To process and accept what happened and your part in it. You have to try and forgive yourself.” At Jon’s look, he smiled wryly. “I know. I said try. You can’t change the past, you just have to find a way to live with it, learn from it, and move beyond it. Trust me, I know.”
“When did you get so smart?”
Richie shrugged. “I did take some psychology courses at college, remember. I liked it and have studied a bit more in our down time over the last few years.” He looked around the table. “Mostly abnormal psych. I thought it might help.” The others flipped him off.
Half an hour later, Veronica approached their table, coming up behind Tico and setting her hands on his shoulders. “Good night guys.”
“You’re wimping out on us little girl?” Richie eyed her closely. She didn’t look upset, just tired.
She wrinkled her nose at him. “Don’t worry Jughead, I’m still in for tomorrow night, but yeah, I’m beat. I’m going up to bed.” Luckily the after party was in the bar of the hotel they were staying in, so she just had to go upstairs.
“Sleep well nina.” Tico patted the hand on his left shoulder.
“Nite Ronnie.” David stood and kissed her cheek.
“Nite little girl.” Richie followed suit.
“I’ll be up in a few minutes.” Jon assured her.
She didn’t react. “I’ll see all of you tomorrow.” With that she turned and left the bar.
In her room, she locked the door and prepared for bed. She stared for a long minute at the door that connected her room with Jon’s before finally locking it too. A long sigh escaped her lips as she slid between the cool sheets and closed her eyes. She was asleep in minutes.