Veronica pulled her arm out of Jon’s grip, strode across the room and sank into a chair. Crossing her legs, she watched him expectantly. “Problem sir?”
“Call me that again and there’s going to be.” Jon snarled. Veronica raised her brows at his tone, but remained silent. Jon paced the room, not sure where to start. He paused at the mini bar to pull out a couple Diet Coke’s and handed her one before lighting up a cigarette and taking a deep drag. He saw her look. “I suppose you’re going to bitch at me about smoking too.”
She shrugged. “It’s your life. If you want to end it early, who am I to stop you? I would have thought that seeing what Adam went through might have made you think twice about it though.”
He sighed, stubbed out the cigarette and raked a hand through his hair. “Why are you so pissed at me? Because I didn’t tell you about Dubai until today? I apologized for that.”
“You didn’t tell me at all! David did. Were you ever going to tell me?”
“It was just finalized today! I was going to tell you after sound check.”
“How long has this been in the works?”
“A couple months.” He admitted. The brief look of pain that crossed her face felt like a punch to his gut. “What?”
“So you don’t want me to do the promotion then. Why not? Don’t you think I can handle it?”
“Of course I think you can handle it! Why would you think that I didn’t?”
“Because you didn’t tell me about even the possibility of something like this!” At his blank look she blew out an exasperated breath. “This is a part of the world that no big name rock band has ever played. We don’t know anything about how their media works or where the people get their information or even how to approach them. This is going to take massive amounts of research! It can’t be done in a few days or even a couple weeks like it can in the western world.” The hand that lifted the coke to her mouth was trembling.
He knew there was something else, something more...personal. “What else? Come on Ronnie, I get that putting you on a short clock would piss you off, but it doesn’t explain the hurt I can see in your eyes. What else have I missed?”
One nail traced the pattern on the can for a long moment before she answered. “This is a record making event....a huge coup for the band and the label, and a huge opportunity – and challenge – for whoever gets the gig.” Her eyes met his. “Do you have any idea what it would mean to my career to be the head of promotion for a show like this – and do a good job of it? To be able to set everything up from scratch, with no blueprint....to really show what I can do, what I’m capable of! I’ve waited for an opportunity like this to come my way for twenty years! And when one finally comes close enough I can almost touch it, it gets yanked away by the man who twelve hours earlier was telling me how he’d changed and how he wanted me and I should trust him.” She snorted and took a drink. “I guess that only applies to the personal side. When you tracked me down in Nashville and brought me out here I thought that at least part of it was because you knew that I was good at my job. I told myself that the perfectionist in you would never let someone you thought was incompetent be put in a position that could hurt the band. More fool me. Obviously you have little faith in my abilities.”
“That’s not true!” Jon protested. “I have the utmost faith in your abilities! Your first assumption was right. I would never have brought you in to work with us if I didn’t trust you to do the job and do it well.”
“As long as it’s only in North America and Europe. When the difficult stuff comes up you want someone else.”
“NO! Fuck!” He raked a hand through his hair in frustration. “The thought of anyone else promoting the show never even crossed my mind. I swear it! Nica, you’ve got to believe me!”
“If that’s true, why didn’t you tell me about it? Do you have any idea the impression it gives my boss and the people I work with that they all knew about it before I did? And I’m the one out on the road and with you every day? Do you really think that they’ll believe that you think I can handle it? When you didn’t tell me that you were even thinking about the Middle East?” Veronica blinked rapidly, refusing to shed the tears anger, hurt and frustration brought to her eyes. She was more professional than that.
The sight of her pain – more caused by his stupidity – had him out of his chair and on his knees in front of her, his hands curling around her knee. “Fuck, Nica, I’m sorry. I never thought about any of that. Shit, you know what I’ve been like lately....I don’t even know what state I’m in half the time these days! I’d forgotten myself that talks were in the works until Paul told us it was a go.” At her disbelieving look he shook her knee. “Seriously! I did! Honey you’ve got to believe that I never meant to imply that I don’t have full confidence in your ability to do your job. You are the best, and that’s why I brought you out.” His lips twitched at her snort. “Okay, one of the reasons. Sugar, you are the only one I want promoting this show. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I should have. I know that.” He reached up to caress her cheek. “Can you forgive me?” He searched her eyes. “Would it help if you socked me one?”
In spite of herself Veronica snickered. “As much as that appeals to me right now, I think there’s a few thousand fans that would be more than a little upset if I damaged that face.”
He grinned, then sobered. “And will you do the promo for Dubai?”
She hesitated, unsure whether she wanted to take the chance of not being able to do her best work because of the time constraints and having her name on a half assed attempt. But ultimately, the challenge was just too good to pass up.
“Come on sugar, please? I know that it’s a lot to ask, especially at this late date, but I need you. My staff will be at your complete disposal. You can use them as much or as little as you want. It’ll be your show.”
One dark brow rose. “And you’ll do as I ask...without a fight?”
Giving anyone carte blanche went against the grain, but he knew he had to. Besides, he knew that she wouldn’t do anything to embarrass him. “Agreed.”
Her second brow rose to join the first. That concession, more than anything, convinced her how sorry he was. “Okay. I’ll do it.”
The grin that had women all over the world swooning spread across his face. “Thanks sugar.” He leaned up to kiss her.
“Jon, you need to stop doing that.” She leaned back, ignoring her lips still tingling from the contact with his.
“You know why. Plus, Matt says that the fans are starting to ask questions about me...about us.”
“So, I don’t want people thinking that I got this job because of my....friendship.. with you.”
“You’re too well respected in the industry for that idea to get very far.” He pointed out.
“I also don’t want the fans – or the tabloids – thinking that we’re a couple.”
“Why? What’s it matter what anyone thinks? It’s nobody’s business except yours and mine.”
She snorted. “Come on Jon, you know better than that. I don’t need to have my every move watched and speculated over, rumours flying over everything from whether one of us is seen somewhere with or without the other, and the meaning behind any looks we give each other. I can’t do my job if the focus is on you and I instead of the band.”
Jon thought about it for a moment, then sighed. “Okay. I see your point. I’ll lay off the public displays of affection.” Public being the operative word. She might be prepared to let the past dictate the future as far as their relationship was concerned, but he wasn’t. He was determined to prove to her that he’d changed – or at least he was trying to. Now, if only he could stop doing stupid things like forgetting to tell her about upcoming shows and making her feel that he didn’t have faith in her abilities. Where the fuck was your head asshole? He needed to remind her how good they had been together once, before it all went to shit. He swore at himself on his timing. With Chicago up next it was going to be hard to think of happy times. The next few days were going to be rough....for both of them.