It wasn’t surprising that the show that night wasn’t the best they’d ever done. Jon tried to cover it up, but the long time fans could tell that he was a little annoyed about something. If they’d noticed the dark looks he shot Veronica periodically, they’d have at least known who he was annoyed with. She, of course, ignored him. Afterwards, she climbed in a van with Matt and a couple other staffers and security to ride to the after party, following the spirit if not the letter of Jon’s decree. She was talking to a DJ from a local country station when the guys arrived.
Jon stepped into the room and swept it with a single glance. His gaze came back to Veronica and the man she was talking to. Dropping his coat onto a chair at a nearby table he waited for her to come and get him and guide him around to the people he needed to talk to like she usually did. It was several minutes before he realized that she wasn’t going to. He knew that she was aware that he was there – he’d seen her glance towards him. He blew out a heavy sigh.
“No tour guide tonight?” Richie asked as he set his coat over the back of another chair.
Jon glared at him. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?”
“You have to admit, it’s not often that a woman has you knotted up and turning in circles. Gives me faith that you’re human after all.”
Richie chuckled. “Are you going to stand here and jaw at me or are you going to go and try to get yourself out of the doghouse with your girlfriend?”
Jon glared at him again but stepped towards where Veronica was standing.
“Good luck!” Richie called after him. Jon flipped him off behind his back.
Veronica saw him approaching and pasted on a bright smile. After introducing the two men, she stepped a bit away from Jon so that he couldn’t play the touchy-feely game. Where she would normally help guide the conversation, this time she kept quiet unless she was specifically spoken to. Jon kept shooting her looks, but she just smiled pleasantly. When the men were finished, Veronica said goodbye to the D.J and headed towards the next person on her ‘must talk to’ list, not checking to see if Jon was with her.
Jon watched her walk off, sighed and followed, detouring briefly to the bar for drinks for both of them.
“Thank you sir.” Veronica accepted the drink he handed her and performed the introductions, ignoring the exasperated look in his eyes.
Across the room David and Richie were watching.
“She’s really leading him around by the nose.” David commented.
“And he’s letting her.” Tico added as he joined them. “I’m surprised he’s hasn’t blown up at her yet.”
“He’s too busy trying to figure out how to diffuse her anger. I don’t think he gets that it’s more than anger.” Richie responded.
“So...how long do you think this is going to go on for?” David questioned. “I say he explodes before we leave here tonight.”
Richie shook his head. “Nope. Tomorrow....some time after dinner.” The next day was an off day for them.
Tico disagreed with both of them. “Uh uh. Tonight, but not here. He won’t want to make a scene in front of outsiders. It’ll be at the hotel.” That it would be Jon that broke first didn’t seem to be in dispute.
Jon watched Veronica walk away from him yet again, sighed, and followed. He got that she was pissed that he hadn’t told her about Dubai sooner, but he’d apologized for that even though he didn’t really understand why she was so upset about it, there was still lots of time for her to do her thing, but apparently she wasn’t ready to forgive him yet. Women! Did any man ever really understand them? He also didn’t understand what it was about this particular woman that made him willing to jump through whatever hoops she wanted him to and cut out his tongue rather than have her angry at him. Even Dorothea had never had that strong of a hold on him. Oh he hadn’t liked it when she was upset with him either, but he would only go so far to appease her. With Veronica, he would do whatever it took to have her smile at him again. It had always been that way with her. If he was being completely honest, it was part of the reason that he had let his mother and Doc succeed in separating them all those years ago - he hadn’t been comfortable with anyone having that much control over his feelings and actions. He wasn’t sure he was any more comfortable with it now, but the years had taught him that there were benefits to compromise – at least in this area.
He watched her walk up to the bar, and racked his brain for a way around her anger, but came up empty. Experience told him that she wouldn’t make it easy for him, she never had. Buying gifts had never worked, writing songs for her worked to a point, if the emotion behind them was right, but he didn’t have time and he wasn’t in the right mind set for that. He needed something more immediate, which meant.....he was going to have to sit her down and talk to her.....from the heart. Just the thought had him sighing again. No, there was no doubt about it, she was going to make him work for it. Maybe that’s why he was attracted to her....she didn’t take one look at his smile or his ass and fall at his feet. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to him and tell him what she thought – even if it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. The fact that he was the boss didn’t appear to faze her at all since she tended to ignore his decrees whenever it suited her. The thought made him frown. He sidled up next to her. “How did you get here from the arena?”
“I came with Matt and a few others – including security. I wasn’t alone.” She assured him. “Sir.”
Jon grunted. “Knock it off Ronnie. And don’t begrudge me my concern for your safety.”
She shrugged and sipped the margarita the bartender set in front of her. “Whatever you say...boss.”
“Dammit Ronnie!” But he was talking to the air. She’d already walked away. He growled low in his throat and followed.
“How come you didn’t eat with us tonight nina?” Tico asked. They were in the elevator on the way up to their floor.
Jon had made sure that Veronica had travelled back with them and since she’d been playing the dutiful employee all evening, she had to humour him. Right now she ignored him to answer Tico. “I ate with some other staff members.” The doors pinged, opened and she stepped out. “Where I belong.”
“GOD DAMMIT! THAT DOES IT!” Jon exploded. He stalked out of the elevator and down the hall after her. When he reached his room, he grabbed her wrist in a firm, but not painful grip, savagely swiped the keycard through the lock, threw open the door, pushed her inside and gave the door a kick to help it close.
Tico looked at his bandmates, grinned and held his hand out, palm up. “Pay up boys.”
“No fair! You pushed!” David complained.
Tico shrugged. “No one said we couldn’t help things along. Besides, the sooner they make up the more pleasant it will be for all of us.”