When it was time for her to head to the arena Veronica gathered her laptop bag and purse and started for the door, then stopped. She stood with her hand on the knob for several minutes, considering, then sighed and turned around. Opening her side of the door connecting their rooms, she knocked. “Jon? I’m heading to the venue.”
Less than five seconds later, the other door opened revealing a frowning Jon. “Now?”
She nodded. “Yes. I need to make sure everything’s set up.” She paused. “It’s my job.”
His frown deepened and he grunted. “Wait a minute.” Stalking back to the table, he picked up his phone and dialled. “Yeah. I need someone to come and escort Ronnie to the arena. Yeah. Thanks. She’ll meet him in the lobby.” He snapped the phone shut and walked back to her, lifting her chin with a finger until their eyes met. “Mike will meet you and go with you. Wait for him.” The muscle in his jaw twitched when her brow rose at his command. “Please.”
Veronica huffed at his tone, bit back her protest and gave in gracefully – sort of. “Fine. But I’m not a child.”
Jon’s lips slowly curled into a knowing smirk as his eyes licked over her. “Sugar, I’m well aware of that.”
She snorted, rolled her eyes and turned away. Halfway to the door his voice stopped her.
“Ronnie?” He hesitated. “Thank you.”
She locked gazes with him, nodded and continued out of the room.
Veronica learned very quickly that her movements outside the venue – or anywhere outside the sphere of BJM’s control – required an escort. While she appreciated Jon’s concern and understood where it was coming from, she knew she was only going to be able to tolerate it for so long before her temper exploded.
After the Omaha show, she had gathered her gear and was heading for the door and the waiting vans when Mike stopped her and asked her to wait. She watched staff leave – including Matt and Paul - and even a few crew members, and was just about to ask Mike what she was waiting for when the sound of David’s laughter told her that the band was on their way, and her unspoken question was answered. As Jon passed her, he grabbed her hand and tugged her along with him. She rolled her eyes, but followed.
This was the pattern for the next couple shows. And if the after party wasn’t at the hotel where they were staying she wasn’t allowed to leave on her own....or until Jon did for that matter. She had a feeling that she was going to find out just how strong the tether on her temper was.
He kept pushing on the personal front as well. Gentle nudges, but nudges never the less. He was back to the touchy feely tactic, frequently stealing brief kisses and sneaking in soft caresses. To her mental consternation and disgust, she couldn’t summon the will to berate him for it, or even tell him to stop. He still wasn’t his normal self, but he was talking more and brooding less – most of the time – and she didn’t want him to relapse.
Detroit made her wonder if that wasn’t a huge mistake on her part. She was sitting at a table at the after party, official business done, waiting for her escort back to the hotel and trying to stay awake. Leaning back against the wall, she yawned and closed her eyes, thinking about the next day’s schedule and dozing lightly. She was jerked back to awareness when soft lips touched hers and tasted gently. Her senses told her without opening her eyes who was kissing her. The familiar scent and taste – tinged only slightly tonight with wine – reached her on a subconscious level, and before she even realized what she was doing she was kissing him back. Her lips opened at the touch of his tongue allowing him to sweep the inside of her mouth and stroke her tongue. They didn’t touch anywhere else. After several minutes Jon retreated, sucking and nibbling lightly on her bottom lip as he did so.
When they were no longer touching Veronica opened her eyes. “What are you doing?” Her voice was husky.
“Waking you up the way you always used to like me to.”
“Jon....” The warning was clear in her voice.
He leaned in to press his lips to hers again briefly to stop her. “I want you Nica, and I know that you want me too. Don’t try to deny it. If you didn’t you’d have slapped me or pushed me away.”
There was too much truth in his statement for her to argue, whether she wanted to admit it or not. Still.... “You know it’s not a good idea.”
“No I don’t. I know why you think so, but I’m going to show you that I’m not that self-centred, inconsiderate kid anymore. I’m not the same man who walked away and abandoned you. I don’t expect you to take my word for it, but I will prove it to you. I want to be the one you depend on, the one you lean on when you need to, the one you come to for comfort and support.” When she opened her mouth to speak, he kissed her again. “I don’t want you to say anything, I just wanted you to know where my head is at. You can think about it and decide whether you want to fight me – and yourself – or whether you want to give me the chance to show you that I’m sincere and that you can trust me again. I promise you that I will never hurt you like that again.”
“Hey Kidd! Do you think that you could put the seduction attempt on hold long enough to get back to the hotel? Or at least into the van? I need my beauty sleep.” David called from near the door.
“Keep your shirt on Lemma, we’re coming. On second thought maybe you should take it off and burn it. That has got to be the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen.” Jon shot back as he straightened.
“Then you haven’t seen his wardrobe lately.” Richie commented dryly. David flipped him off.
Jon chuckled, reached for Veronica’s hand and tugged. “Come on sugar. Let’s get you to bed.”
Wordlessly, she stood and allowed him to tow her with him out to the van. She was likewise silent all the way back to the hotel.
In their hallway, Richie held her back. “You okay little girl? You’re awfully quiet.”
She shrugged. “I think I know how deer feel in hunting season now.”
He studied her for a moment. “But deer generally want to avoid the hunters.”
“And you don’t think I don’t?”
It was his turn to shrug. “Do you? And don’t answer by impulse, think about it. You two had some pretty strong feelings once and like I told you before, those don’t just go away. Not completely. I know that you guys had some pretty heavy shit go down, and there’s a lot of pain involved, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some remnants of those softer emotions underneath all that hurt. Just think about it.”
She sighed. Suddenly she was surrounded my men who thought they knew what was in her mind and heart. “Go to bed Jughead. Analyze me some other time.”
He chuckled. “Afraid I’m right?” At her dark look he held up his hands defensively. “Okay, okay, I’ll leave you alone. For now. Nite little girl.”
“Nite Jughead.” Entering her room she was relieved to find that the maid had closed and locked the connecting door between her room and Jon’s. She needed some time by herself.