The next day the guys were getting ready to head to the arena when the door to Veronica’s room opened and she came out, laptop bag slung over one shoulder, cell phone to her ear.
“Yes. Torres. T-O-R-R-E-S. Yes. Cuban actually. Richie Sambora. S-A-M-B-O-R-A. Yes. Italian and Polish. Yes. David Bryan. B-R-Y-A-N. Yes, like two first names.” She glanced at David and winced, hoping that the radio station DJ on the other end of the phone didn’t ask too many questions about his background. “ Yes. J-O-N B-O-N J-O-V-I. Yes. Italian. Birth spelling is B-O-N-G-I-O-V-I. Yes. I can e-mail you their biographies.” Tico held the elevator door for her. She smiled her thanks. “The first album was self titled and released in 1984. Why don’t I send you the library? Yes. Great.” Reaching into her laptop bag, she pulled out a small notebook and pen, then glanced around for a firm base to write on. Not finding anything suitable she pushed at Jon’s shoulder until his back was to her and used it. Richie snickered. Jon rolled his eyes, but bent slightly to create a better writing angle for her. “Yes. I’ll get that out to you today. We can definitely do that. No, that’s not a problem. Jon loves doing phone interviews.” When Jon started to straighten at that comment she pushed him back down and continued scribbling. “Yes, that’ll work. Great. If you have any other questions, please contact me. Yes. Thank you very much. You won’t be disappointed. Bye.” She shut her phone, put the notebook back in her bag and patted Jon’s back just as the doors opened into the lobby. “Thanks.”
Jon just grunted and led the way to the waiting van.
“By the way, Tiffany will be sitting in on the interviews for the next few days while I try to get Dubai under control.” Veronica informed them and slanted a look at Jon. “Don’t give her a hard time.”
He smirked at her. “Yes dear.”
Veronica glanced up as Tiffany plopped down in the chair opposite her desk. “How everything go?”
“Okay, no problems.”
“Jon didn’t give you too hard of a time?”
“No, he was his usual self....most of the time.”
Something in Tiffany’s voice had Veronica looking up. “Meaning?”
Tiffany shrugged. “It’s probably nothing, but you asked me to let you know if he started acting unusually moody.”
“I’m not exactly sure. Everything was going fine until the last interview. Partway through he started getting quieter and quieter. Richie finally had to take over and finish answering the questions.”
“And after the interview?”
“He got up and walked out of the room. He wasn’t snapping or anything, just quiet. Kind of like he was in Japan and Australia.”
Veronica sighed and nodded. “Okay. Thanks. Let me know if it gets worse.”
“What’s wrong with him? I’ve seen him in many moods in the time I’ve worked for him, but never anything like this. Is he okay?”
“He will be. It’s nothing you or anyone in the organization has done. He’s just got some personal shit to work out.”
Tiffany nodded. “Okay, well, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
“I will. Thanks Tiffany.”
Veronica was bent over her computer and scribbling notes when a loud crash in the hallway broke her concentration.
“Just leave me the fuck alone!”
A glance at her watch told her that sound check was probably over and she wondered what had set Jon off. The staff members scattered around the room turned to her with raised brows. A few seconds later Matt appeared in the doorway and just looked at her. Their gazes met and held for several seconds before Veronica sighed, rose and headed down the hallway. The sea of staff and crew members filling the space quickly parted to let her pass, their faces showing their concern and also their hope that she could do something to alleviate it.
She found Richie standing in the doorway to his dressing room. “What happened?”
He grimaced. “The last reporter dropped her bag and pictures of her baby son spilled out. He started to just...shut down.”
“And just now?”
“There were some problems with sound check and then every member of the crew seemed to have questions for him.” He shrugged. “He lost it and kicked a chair down the hallway.”
Veronica nodded. “Okay.” She continued down the hallway until she came to Jon’s door. Taking a deep breath, she knocked. “Jon? Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Jon was sitting in front of the table that held his necessities, staring at the small ceramic cherub in his hand when the knock came. He grimaced, not wanting to talk to anyone right now– especially Ronnie - but he knew that turning her away would be counterproductive to his long range plans. He’d thought he had his emotions regarding the past under control, but one glimpse of a blue eyed baby boy, even in a picture, and it came crashing down on him again. Add to that the fact that he wasn’t progressing with Ronnie as fast as he’d like and his temper was on a very short fuse. He was confident that he’d succeed with her – he knew she wasn’t immune to his charms – but it was taking longer than he’d hoped. Patience was not one of his virtues. “Come in.”
Veronica studied his face as she closed the door behind her, or at least as much of it as she could. He wouldn’t look at her. His expression didn’t appear particularly angry. Maybe a little annoyed, but mainly...sad. “I’m going to need you guys to sign some posters and CDs and stuff to send to Dubai.”
Jon shrugged. “Fine. Whatever.” He still hadn’t looked at her, instead kept staring at the cherub.
Four steps brought her close enough to see what he held in his hand. “Where’d you get that?”
“New York.” The muscle twitched in his jaw. “I found it when I was Christmas shopping with Stephanie. I wanted.....I needed....something.” He didn’t know how to explain his feelings.
She understood. “I have some of his hair.” They were silent for several minutes then Veronica cleared her throat. “Are you going to eat with the guys or do you want me to bring you something here?”
His lips twisted into a wry smile. “Are you going to get Teek and Dave to hold me down and force feed me if I don’t eat?”
“I won’t have to bother them. There’s a hallway full of staff and crew members that will do whatever I ask if it will put you in a better mood.”
He sighed and raked his free hand through his hair. “I don’t want to go out.”
“I’ll bring you something from catering.”
“Will you eat with me? Please?”
The pain and shadows clouding his eyes made it impossible for her to refuse him. “Okay. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” She paused and set a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Call your kids Jon. It’ll help.”
“What will help you?” He raised a hand to cover hers.