In Nashville, Veronica opened the door of her apartment and dropped her bags with a grateful sigh. It was good to be home. Glancing around at the layer of dust on the furniture almost had her rethinking that. She wrinkled her nose, grabbed her purse and decided to go get groceries before tackling the cleaning.
Larder stocked, furniture gleaming, laundry done, she took a long hot bath, and settled on the couch to have a bite to eat in front of the T.V. She looked at the phone, but decided she’d go into the studio in the morning, maybe meet the girls for lunch. She was beat. That night the nightmare still came, but she was able to just roll over and go back to sleep.
“So tell us how things are going.” Lori threw out the first question after the waitress departed with their orders.
“Pretty good actually, but I forgot how exhausting touring is.”
“Nah, you’re just older now.” Naomi grinned and waited to see if anyone would pick up on it.
Veronica groaned. “Oh Na, that’s bad. And since when were you up on their catalogue?”
Naomi shrugged. “I’ve been doing some research. I wanted to know more about these guys who kidnapped you away from us.”
Veronica smiled at her friends, touched by their concern. “Thanks, but you don’t have to worry, they would never hurt me.”
“Uh correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t one of them already hurt you? Badly?” Tricia pointed out.
“Yeah, but he’d never do it again...Tico wouldn’t let him. And what happened wasn’t entirely his fault.” She hesitated, then took a deep breath and told them what had happened. By the end of her recital they were all in tears.
“Oh my God, Veronica!”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry.”
“And he let you go through that alone?”
“What an asshole!”
“No wonder you didn’t want to even see him! I don’t blame you at all.”
Lori studied her friend closely. There was something different about her, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. “You’re not mad at him anymore, are you.” It was a statement, not a question.
Veronica shrugged. “The hurt’s still there, and I haven’t forgiven him for not being there, but nineteen years is a long time to try to hold onto anger. Besides, it wasn’t his fault that the baby died. It was no one’s fault. It just happened.” She took a sip of her ice tea and smiled. “But enough about the past, what have I missed around here?”
The girls hesitated, but finally accepted the change of topic...for now. The rest of lunch was spent bringing Veronica up to date with the latest happenings at the studio and the city.
“So how are things between you and Jon now?” Lori posed the question as soon as they were all settled at a table in their favourite bar on Saturday night, waiting for the band to start.
Veronica sighed. She knew her friends were only concerned about her, but she wished they’d leave it alone. “Fine. I guess you could call it friendly. We’re not snapping at each other, and the tension seems to have faded.” She didn’t elaborate on all the reasons for that. She wasn’t ashamed of what had happened between them, but the girls would read too much into it.
Veronica turned at the familiar voice. “Gretchen, hi!”
“So you survived the first leg of the tour with Mr. Gorgeous and the Jersey boys.” Gretchen noted as she pulled up a chair and joined them.
Veronica laughed. “Yeah. Still in one piece and no scars.”
“And what about Jon?”
“He’s a little worse for wear, but he’ll live. It’s been a long time since anyone stood up to him. It was a bit of an adjustment for him.”
Gretchen snorted. “I’ll bet.” She studied her friend’s face for a moment, then a grin spread across her face. “You did it!”
“You did some dancing in the sheets with God’s Gift To Women.”
“WHAT!” Lori, Naomi and Tricia chorused, staring in shock at Veroncia.
“Don’t try and deny it.” Gretchen forestalled any protest. “You have the look of a woman who has been recently laid, and laid well at that, and I saw for myself that he wasn’t going to let any other man get that close to you.”
“Veronica? Is it true? Did you sleep with Jon?” Lori demanded. That would explain what was different about her.
Veronica sighed. “Yes.”
“I knew it!” Gretchen crowed. “Good for you, you lucky bitch!”
“What’s going on Veronica? Does this mean that you’re together again?” Tricia eyed her friend intently.
“No.” Veronica denied quickly. “It was a weak moment. We were both looking for some....comfort.... and found it in each other. That’s all.”
Naomi studied her. “Are you still sure that’s all you want it to be?”
Veronica nodded. “We’re still a bad bet for a relationship.”
Gretchen smirked. “How about for just a little bit of fun? You’re going to be spending months on the road with him. You might as well enjoy the benefits of being that close. I know I would. In a heartbeat.” She noticed the girls all staring at her. “What? Are you gonna tell me that any of you would turn that down? The man is sex on legs! I’m female and I’m breathing. He wiggles that ass and smiles at me and I’ll trip him and beat him to the floor!”
“I’ll tell him you said so.” Veronica snickered.
Gretchen snorted. “And here you are....the only one of us who has the opportunity to experience that lovely specimen of manhood up close and personal, not just once, but on a regular basis and you’re turning it down! I don’t get it!”
“I told you...” Veronica began, but was cut off.
“I remember what you told me. Do you remember what I told you? Treat it like a man would. Sex as just sex. Take it while it lasts. Enjoy it. Enjoy him. Worst case scenario, you get to exorcise him from your system once and for all.”
“You know Veronica, that’s not a bad idea.” Naomi agreed.
Veronica stared at her. “Are you serious?”
Naomi sighed. “Well, if I can’t have him I’d like someone I know to. Then I could live vicariously through you.” She leaned closer. “Got any details, you’d care to share? Big? Small? Gentle? Not so gentle? Into foreplay or goes straight for the main event?”
The other girls all turned to Veronica and waited for her response. She threw a napkin at Naomi, laughed and shook her head. “You’re all nuts.” When they all just kept staring at her in silence she snorted. Then a smirk curved her lips. “Big enough, both, and.....definitely believes in the benefits of warming up before exercising.”
Gretchen and Naomi groaned.