The next day Matt tracked Veronica down in the “office”. “Ronnie?”
“Hey Matt. What’s up?”
“I just thought I should warn you that the fans are starting to ask questions about you.”
“About me?” She frowned. “What about me?”
“Who you are, your connection to Jon.....that sort of thing.”
“Why would they want to know about me? And why would they think I have a connection to Jon?” The look of discomfort on Matt’s face had warning bells going off in her head.
“Well there were some pictures from the last few days of Jon and you holding hands.” When she frowned in confusion, he explained. “On the way to the van after the show.”
Veronica nodded in understanding. The up close bodyguard routine. I knew that was a bad idea. “What are you and Obie telling them?”
“That you work for the label and are a long time friend of the band’s. A few of the contest winners who’ve been at sound check and were introduced to you are backing up our story.”
Her brows rose. “Why shouldn’t they? It’s the truth.”
“Uh huh.” Matt replied with a wink. “Sure. We’ll stick to that for now if you want.”
“The truth is usually better than a lie....or a hopeful wish.” She gave him a warning look.
Matt chuckled, leaned over and kissed her cheek. “If you say so..... Sis.”
She swatted his arm. “Oh go away. Talking to you is like talking to Richie....an exercise in frustration!”
“That’s what brothers are for.” He assured her on his way to the door.
“Oh the joys of being an only child.” She shook her head, but couldn’t suppress a smile as his laughter echoed down the hallway.
When the last interview was done, the reporter asked for some information that Veronica had in her office, so she took him down to get it, then escorted him out of the building. When she got back to the interview room, she met Paul leaving and Jon was closing his phone as she entered. His face showed tension and frustration and his hand went immediately to his temple to rub at the ache there.
Veronica moved to stand behind his chair, tugged on his shoulders to urge him to lean back against her, nudged his hand away and placing her fingers on his temples, massaged in a circular pattern. “Problem?”
His eyes closed and he sighed in appreciation at her ministrations. “Just some bureaucratic red tape glitches with one of the Foundation’s projects.”
“Enough to jeopardize the project?”
He shook his head slightly – he didn’t want to disrupt her movements. “I doubt it. Just the usual crap.”
“Ow! Oooh...ow....ouch! I think I pulled a muscle in my arm. Ronnie, maybe you can help me out.” David rubbed his shoulder and bicep.
“Yeah, my back and shoulders are really aching. I don’t know if I can play with this pain. Can you bring those magic fingers over here little girl?” Richie moaned.
“Back off assholes, she’s mine.” Jon informed them without opening his eyes.
Veronica raised a brow and stared down at the top of his head at the possessive statement.
Richie caught her eye and winked. “Can we make sure we have some time in Dubai to go shopping?”
“What do you want to look for?” Tico asked.
“Persian rug. I’m still trying to decorate a few rooms in the house, and I bet they have some great stuff over there.”
“Who’s going to Dubai?” Veronica inquired.
The men exchanged glances. “We are.” David answered. “We’re doing a show there.”
Veronica’s fingers stilled. “When?”
“May 20th. The beginning of the European leg.”
Jon’s first clue that he was in trouble was when her hands lifted from his skin as if they’d been burned. The second was the cool professionalism that replaced the warm camaraderie in her voice.
Veronica stepped back from him and moved around the room, gathering up her notepads and briefcase. “Well, that will be exciting. That’ll be a first for that part of the world I think. Have a good time.”
David sat up. “What do you mean? You’re coming with us.”
She shook her head. “No, I’m not. I’m done at the end of this leg.” Protests came at her from three directions. Jon just stared at her. She held up a hand to silence them. “Come on, you know that you don’t need me out here. You have your own PR and promotion people to take care of you. The only thing you need from me is a little assistance with the country media and I can do that from Nashville.”
The men looked at Jon. He ignored everyone except her. “What about your promise?”
She met his gaze and he could see the hurt she tried to conceal...and the anger she didn’t. “Look. I love my job, and have worked very hard to get where I am. I’m proud of my accomplishments. This has been a nice little break, but I need to get back to where I’m needed....and my skills are recognized and appreciated.”
“I appreciate your skills!” Jon protested.
“Obviously you don’t. You just want me out here out of a sense of guilt to satisfy your need to make up for the past. Well, guess what Jon, you can’t make up for it, so just let it go!” She turned towards the door.
“Dammit Ronnie! That’s not what I’m doing! Will you listen to me?” Panic made his voice harsh.
She glanced at her watch. “Sound check in fifteen minutes.” The door shut quietly behind her, but it had the same effect as a slam in the quiet of the room.
Richie finally broke the silence. “Nice going Kidd.”
“What the fuck?” Jon growled in confusion and frustration.
“Why didn’t you tell her about Dubai?”
“Because it just got finalized! I was going to tell her after sound check.”
“Somehow I don’t think that’s going to cut any ice with her. She’s definitely pissed.” David noted.
“Arrrg! Women! Why do they have to get bent out of shape over every little thing?” Jon grumbled, standing.
“Yeah, like wanting to know about you taking a trip halfway around the world.” David agreed.
“Just because she’s supposed to be in charge of promoting said trip, why would she need to know ahead of time?” Richie added.
“Fuck!” Was Jon’s only comment aside from the slam of the door behind him.