Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chapter 127

She was floating. The world around her was warm and soft, caressing her body. Hot gusts blew over her breasts, the cooler air following causing her nipples to pucker. Something soft feathered along her inner thighs, accompanied by touches of slightly damp velvet. Higher and higher the gentle, teasing touches moved up her legs until they reached the top. Her temperature rose dramatically and tingles started swirling in her belly as the hot velvet surrounded her sensitive clit. A soft moan escaped her lips.

Suddenly she was jerked fully awake by sharp jolts of pleasure shooting from her core to her fingertips at the penetration of her body. She glanced down to see Jon grinning at her from his position between her legs. “Jon? What are you doing?”

“If you can’t tell I must have lost my touch.” His tongue flicked her nub.

Veronica inhaled sharply. “Well, either you’re apologizing for your moodiness last night or you’re trying to convince me that you’re recovered enough to do the show tonight.” He’d awakened from his nap in pain and grumpy. And every time he’d moved the wrong way and his back or his head protested, his temper got worse.

Jon didn’t know whether to be afraid or comforted that she knew him so well. “Is it working?” He wasn’t about to say which he was aiming for. The truth was it was a little bit of both.

“I’ll let you know.” After you finish!

With a low chuckle he went back to work. He licked and laved, nibbled and sucked, judging the success of his technique by the sighs, soft moans and shivers he elicited. When the tenseness of her thighs told him she was close, he drove his tongue deep and let her fly.

Giving her only a few seconds to recover, he started again. Twice more he brought her to orgasm with his mouth and fingers. It was as much for his pleasure as hers. He loved to watch her overcome with passion. She was so beautiful! And it stroked his ego to know that he was the one responsible for her ecstasy. But he also had an ulterior motive this time. He wanted to show her that his strength and stamina were recovered – at least enough to be able to perform at an acceptable level.

While Veronica panted and recovered from her latest orgasm, Jon moved slowly up her body, pushing her nightgown ahead of his caressing lips until he could remove it completely and mate his mouth with hers.

Veronica moaned as he entered her very slowly. Her hands started to slide into his hair to clench like she often did, when she remembered and gripped his shoulders instead. Her passion grew with each movement of him inside her. Unknowingly, her hands slid further down his back and clung. The air hissing through his teeth and his involuntary flinching from her touch brought her back to awareness and she immediately lifted her hands. “Sorry.”

Jon just kissed her and focused on the more pleasant sensations that were drowning out the pain. But after a few minutes he couldn’t ignore it anymore. Something was wrong. Veronica’s body was slightly stiff and he could sense her holding back, not losing herself in the pleasure like she usually did. He stopped and searched her eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m afraid of hurting you.”

“You won’t.” He appreciated her concern, but having had the full experience with her, he refused to settle for anything less – even to avoid pain.

“I will if I touch you like I want to.”

Knowing she was too stubborn to give in, he considered other solutions. There were several. Choosing the one that appealed to him the most, he withdrew from her and sat back on his heels. Veronica whimpered at the feeling of loss and emptiness. Jon smirked, flipped her over onto her stomach and, lifting her hips onto his lap, slid into her once again.

In this position, face down, her thighs over his, her legs basically wrapped around his hips, all she could do was brace herself on her elbows and accept whatever he chose to do to her.

One arm snaked around her hips, holding her against him. The other smoothed up her back, and around to cup a breast. Swiveling his hips, he ground against her while his fingers played with her nipples.

“Jesus Johnny!” She gasped. The angle of penetration, combined with the pressure of him grinding instead of thrusting, plus the stimulation of her breasts sent shivers throughout her body. It took only minutes until with a small cry she peaked yet again.

Jon paused. “Liked that did you?” Her moan made him chuckle. “How about this?” Holding her hips even tighter, he changed his motion from circular to hard thrusts.

“Oh God!” Veronica groaned. “Yes! Right there! Oh God Johnny! Yes! Yes! Yes!” Her head thrashed back and forth, her senses overcome with pleasure. “Yes Johnny......right there...mmmm....yes...yes...FUCK Johnny! Right there...mmm...right....THERE!” She screamed as her world exploded.”

With a moan and a soft grunt, Jon thrust once more and pumped out his own release deep inside her. Leaning forward, he rested his forehead on her back while they both fought to breathe and waited for the room to stop spinning.

When he could move again, he gently withdrew and eased onto the bed beside her. He grinned at the sated, exhausted look on her face. “So do you believe I have the stamina to make it through a show?”

Veronica blew out a breath, cracked one eye open and studied him. “Does it really matter what I think?”

“I always value your opinion.”

“But you’re going to do what you want anyway.”

“Maybe.” At her look he smiled wryly. “Okay, probably. But I’d like to know how much trouble I’m going to be in with you for doing it.” He reached out and ran calloused fingertips down her spine, noting her shiver. “Come on sugar. I know I’m well enough to do the show, but I’d like your seal of approval.”

Veronica sighed. “I’ll agree that your stamina is back to normal,” And then some! “but there’s more to it than just that.” She rolled over and reached out to the night stand for the remote for the stereo. Watching his face carefully, she tuned in to her favourite rock station and turned up the volume. Loud.

He flinched slightly and took the remote from her to turn it down. “Okay, okay, I get your point. It makes my head hurt a little, but I can cope.”

“Uh huh, and what about your usual prancing around the stage? How’s your back going to take that?”

“I don’t prance!” Jon scowled at her, but she just grinned. “Brat!” He wiggled his shoulders. “It might hurt a little,” he acknowledged, “I’ll just have to suck it up.”

“If I can make a suggestion?” At his nod, she continued. “Don’t wear a leather shirt. Go with cotton. It won’t scrape as much.”

“Good idea.” He smiled. “So you’re not going to give me a hard time about doing the show?”

Veronica sighed. “I can’t stop you. But I’d like you to do a couple things for me, if you would – so that I won’t worry as much.”


“I’d like you to rest until we have to leave for the arena, and after sound check, I want you to rest until the show.” She’d put the few remaining interviews off until the next day to give him more time to recuperate. “Then I’d like you to take a couple Advil before the show to help with the pain you won’t admit to feeling.”

“No problem, I can do that.” If it meant she wouldn’t be angry at him, he’d do just about anything. He studied her face. “What else?”

“I want you to keep your temper under control. Don’t take out your pain on the people around you. They don’t deserve it and yelling will only hurt your head more.”

Jon grimaced. “I’ll....try.”

Veronica leaned over until her lips were almost touching his. “Do that and I won’t make you pay for ignoring my concern and doing the shows.”

“Deal.” He pressed his lips to her. “For the record, I’m not ignoring your concern. I understand and appreciate it, I do. It’s just that....”

“You need to do this.” She finished for him.

He nodded. “Yes, I do.” He kissed her again. “I love you.”

Veronica caressed his cheek, grimaced, but had to admit it. “I love you too. Promise me you’ll be careful and won’t over do it.”

“I promise.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chapter 126

Veronica was still lying on the bed with Jon when Dorothea, Carol, John Sr. and the kids arrived.

“Daddy!” Jake ran up to the side of the bed. “Mommy said you were hurt! Are you okay now?”

Vernonica stood up and lifted first Jake, then Romeo onto the bed so that Jon could hug them.

“Hi buddy. My head and back got hurt, but I’m going to be okay.”

Romeo touched the scar on his forehead. “Hurt like me?”

“Yep, just like you, except my cut is on the back of my head.” When he struggled to sit up, his breath hissed through his teeth at the pain and his father rushed to help him. “Thanks Dad.” Leaning forward, he showed his wounds to the boys – and everyone else that crowded around to look.

“Oooh. Ouch!” Jesse grimaced.

“So Humpty Dumpty’s cracked but not scrambled?” David spoke from the doorway.

“If I’m scrambled, you’re poached!” Was Jon’s reply – better, considering the presence of the kids, than the Jersey salute that was his first impulse.

In short order, the room was full. Everyone from the day before, plus more, showed up to see how Jon was.

“Here’s the clothes you asked me to pick up.” Matt handed a bag to Veronica.

“Thanks.” At Jon’s look, she explained. “They had to cut off your shirt and I don’t know the condition of your pants, so I asked Matt to stop by the house and pick up some clothes for you to go home in.”

“Oh, right. Thanks Matt.”

The doctor appeared in the doorway. “The crowd’s growing!” A path was cleared for him to reach the bed. “Mr. Bongiovi, I’m Dr. Bertoli.” He shook Jon’s hand. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Fine. When can I go home?”

“Jon, don’t lie.” His mother admonished him. They had already discussed at length how he truly felt.

“Okay, okay....my head hurts and my back stings.”

Dr. Bertoli smiled. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t. Any dizziness?”

“No. When can I go home?”

After checking the wounds, the doctor relented. “I’ll discharge you, but I want you to take it easy for a few days.”

“I have two shows to do starting tomorrow night.”

The doctor eyed him thoughtfully. “You have eighteen stitches in your head and multiple cuts and scratches on your back – three of them deep enough to require bandages.....but if you don’t have any dizziness, the headache doesn’t get any worse, and you take it easy – as in rest – until then, I won’t argue against it. Just be careful.” He turned to Veronica. “The nurse will give you his care instructions.”

“Thank you.”

After the doctor left, the room erupted.

“Jon you can’t do the show tomorrow.”

“Yes I can.”

“Son, think about your health.”

“I’m not cancelling the shows!”

“Not cancel....postpone. We can reschedule for a few days from now.” Paul offered.

“No. People will have made travel plans. I can’t do that.”

“Your health is more important! Do you think the fans would really be upset if you had to postpone because you’re injured?”

“Think about it bro.”

The more the arguments flew at him, the more stubborn his expression became. Gradually, they all fell silent and turned to Veronica expectantly.

Aware of their gazes, she eyed Jon. He glared back defiantly. Veronica wasn’t intimidated. “Only you know how you feel, but consider this: what kind of a performance are you capable of giving, and will you be satisfied with that?”

Dorothea and Richie exchanged glances and smirked. Veronica definitely knew how to deal with their perfectionist frontman.

Jon held Veronica’s gaze for a long moment, grimaced and sighed. “We’ll see how I feel later today.”

A little while later the nurse came in with Jon’s discharge papers and went over the care instructions with Veronica. “If there’s a lot of oozing bring him back. Otherwise we’ll see him in a week to take out the stitches. Or he can go to his regular doctor.”

“Thank you.”

Jon scowled as the nurse left. “I’m not a child.”

“Can you see your back or the back of your head?” Veronica asked calmly.


“Then doesn’t it make sense that she would tell me what to look for? Or did you want somebody else to do it?”

“No.” He muttered and reached for the bag with his clothes. “Can we get out of here?”

Muffling snickers, everyone said their goodbye’s and left.

“I’ll go bring the car around.” Matt was driving them home.

Carol hugged Jon carefully, eased back at pointed her finger at him. “You listen to Ronnie, and don’t give her a hard time!” Turning, she nodded at Veronica. “I’ll call you later to see how he’s doing. I’ll warn you, he’s not a good patient. Don’t take any crap from him.” With that she exited the room, ignoring the stunned stares that followed her.

“What just happened?” Veronica asked no one in particular.

It was Dorothea that answered. “I think she’s finally realized that maybe she was insensitive to what you went through....and holding a grudge against you isn’t worth losing her son.”

“It’s about time!” Jon reached behind his neck to yank open the tie of the hospital gown and hissed as the cuts on his back were pulled.

“Daddy I help you.” Romeo crawled around behind his father and carefully undid the ties.

“Thanks little man.”

“Come on guys, let’s go home.”

“I want to go home with Daddy.” Jake pouted.

“Me too!” Romeo added his vote.
But their mother was firm. “Daddy needs to rest. We’ll call him later and you can spend a few days with him and Ronnie when he’s feeling better.”

There were a few grumbles, but Dorothea managed to get the kids packed up.

“Feel better Dad.” Stephanie kissed him.

“Thanks sweetie.”

“Take it easy Dad.” Jesse advised.

“I will.”

With hugs for Veronica, they filed out the door. Dorothea had a parting comment for Veronica. “Good luck.”

Veronica laughed. Jon scowled. “I’m not that bad!”

“Uh huh. We’ll see. Let me help you get dressed.”

“I’m fine! I’m perfectly capable...” His voice trailed off as pain shot down his back when he tried to lift his arms over his head to put on a t-shirt.

“Stop being so stubborn and let me help you!”

He was in too much pain to argue.

Despite his insistence that he was fine, the drive home took more out of Jon than he’d anticipated – or wanted to admit – and he was happy to lie on the couch. But he didn’t want to be alone. “Sugar! Sugar! Where are you?” He winced as his head objected to the volume of his voice.

“I’m right here. What do you need?” She set a cup of coffee – decaf in deference to his concussion - on the table in front of him. “Are you hungry?”

“No.” He patted the end of the couch beside him. “Come sit with me.”

Veronica set their phones on the end table along with her own cup of coffee and sat. “You should probably lie down.”

“I plan to. Help me get this shirt off first.” That done, he dropped a pillow onto her lap, stretched out on his stomach, and settled his head on the pillow.

Veronica checked the bandages on his back and head and was relieved to find them clean. While Jon flipped channels looking for something good on TV, she lightly rubbed an undamaged area of his back with one hand and smoothed his hair with the other. The murmur as he settled more comfortably and promptly fell asleep made her smile. For someone who claimed not to ‘particularly like cats’ he could certainly sound like one.

Leaning her head back against the couch, she closed her eyes. She needed some rest herself. She hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and the next few days promised to be long ones.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chapter 125

Jon clawed his way back to consciousness and immediately became aware of three things: his head felt like a dozen little men with jackhammers were inside trying to get out, he wasn’t in his own bed; and he couldn’t move his right hand. Gradually, the memory of what happened returned, and he opened his eyes to look around. The cream walls and generic artwork proclaimed it a hospital room. The weak dawn light threw everything in shadow and he had to strain to see beyond it.

It took a few minutes for him to work out that the black shadow covering his right arm and the side of the bed was Veronica’s hair. And he couldn’t move his hand because it was pinned under her face.

He tried to wiggle his fingers. “Hey.” It wasn’t a surprise when she didn’t move, his voice was unrecognizable. He swallowed and tried again. “Nica?”

“Mmmm?” Suddenly her head jerked up. He could feel her hand trembling around his. Her smile lit up the room. “Hi!”


“How are you feeling?”

“Like a bunch of lights fell on my head.” He expected her to laugh or chide him for making a joke about it. He didn’t expect tears. “Hey sweetheart, don’t cry. I’m okay.”

“I’m so sorry Johnny.” She blinked, but the tears kept coming, overflowing and wetting her cheeks.

“It’s not your fault. I don’t know whose it is...yet....but it’s not yours.”

Veronica shook her head. “If I hadn’t been arguing with you you would have heard the warnings and moved out of the way.”

He squeezed her hand. “I was arguing right along with you, so I’m as much to blame as you are in that.”

“You could have been killed!”

“Guess we need to be a little more careful where we get into the knock down, drag outs.”

“Johnny, I.....” She closed her eyes and gripped his hand tighter.

He frowned in concern. “Honey? What’s wrong?” He tried to sit up and thought his head was going to fall off and fire streaked down his back. “Dammit! Nica talk to me!”

Veronica eased him back on his pillow, and brushed his hair off his forehead. She searched his eyes for a moment, then took a deep breath. “I love you.”

Blue eyes lit up. “Sugar, that is the best pain reliever I could ask for.” She looked down at her hand playing with his fingers. Obviously there was more. “What?”

“I should have told you that a long time ago. Instead I let my fear rule my heart and mind. And I’m sorry about that too. That wasn’t fair to you.”

“What were you so afraid of?” Maybe he’d finally get an answer that made sense.

“You...me....everything. Before Doc’s interference and Drew’s death, I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life – before or since. And when it was all taken away it almost destroyed me. I was – am – afraid that if I let myself love you again....get close to your kids....I’d be in too deep, and if it was taken away again, this time I wouldn’t survive it.” She frowned. “But I don’t want to be afraid anymore. And I don’t want to be alone anymore.” She lifted shining eyes to his. “I want to try and have that happiness again Jon – or at least see if we can get something close.”

“We can and we will. I know it.”

She smiled. “Always so sure.”

“Of course I am. I know you and I know me and I know how good we are together – even if we do go ten rounds every now and then.”

“It doesn’t bother you that we fight?”

He shrugged. “All couples fight. We’re both passionate people with strong convictions. We’re going to butt heads once in a while. Loudly. But, for the most part, we share common goals. We just have different ideas how to get there sometimes. Besides, I need you to keep me on the right track.” He tugged on her hand, urging her to lie on the bed with him. “As long as we love each other we’ll be fine.”

Veronica laid her head on his shoulder, her hand automatically settling on his chest, one finger idly tracing the pattern on his hospital gown. They were silent for a few minutes, then she sighed. “I’m sorry Johnny.”

“I already told you, I’m as much to blame as you are. Not as much as the grip who was in charge of the rigging, but as much as you are.”

“But if you hadn’t been pissed at me you would have paid more attention to the warnings from the crew. But I wasn’t talking about the falling lights.”

“Oh?” He ran his fingers up and down her forearm. “What then?”

“I’m sorry I was so stubborn and that it took you getting hurt for me to admit – even to myself – how I feel. I haven’t been very considerate of you in that respect.”

“Sugar, with everything you’ve been through, it’s no surprise that you’re a little leery of love. And I know that trust is hard to regain, especially when it was betrayed in such a horrible way. I can’t change the past. I wish I could. All I can do is promise that I’ll do my very best to never hurt you again.” The edge of his hand lifted her face up to his. “I love you Nica.”

“I love you too Johnny.” Aware of his discomfort when he moved his head, she closed the distance and touched her lips to his in a gentle kiss.

They lay quietly for a few more minutes. Finally, Veronica forced herself to sit up and look for the phone.

“Where’re you going?”

“Nowhere. I’ve got to call everyone and let them know you’re awake.”

“How’d you get them all to leave?”

“I didn’t. Dorothea took Steph and Jesse home to get some sleep and check on Jake and Romeo and the rest followed.”

“Even Mom?” The look on Veronica’s face told him there’d been another altercation. He sighed. “What happened?”

“I’m afraid I kind of went off on her.” She gave him a word for word run down of their confrontation in the waiting room. “So she and your dad are at Dorothea’s waiting for my call.” She wrinkled her nose. “I shouldn’t have said that to her. It was mean.”

“And she’s been so pleasant and polite to you?” He scoffed. “She deserved everything you said and more. Maybe now she’ll really think about what you went through, her part in it and her treatment of you recently as well.” He shrugged, and winced. “Who knows, maybe something good will come out of this.”

“Maybe.” But she didn’t look convinced.

Just then a nurse entered the room. “Oh you’re awake. Good.” She lifted his wrist to check his pulse. “How do you feel?”

“Like a bunch of lights fell on my head.”

“I’ll get you something for the pain.”

“Just Advil will be fine. When can I get out of here?”

“The doctor will be in, in a couple hours, and we’ll see what he says.” At Jon’s mutinous expression she smiled and tightened the blood pressure cuff on his arm. “Probably right after he examines you.”

“Damn right it will be!”

“Jon.” Veronica looked up from dialing the phone and gave him a dark look. That look combined with her tone warned him to be nice.

“Sorry, I just have a lot to do....and I hate hospitals.” He apologized.

“That’s okay, I understand, I hear it all the time.”

When the nurse had examined his wounds and left and Veronica had finished her calls, Jon patted the bed. “Come lie here with me and soothe my pain until the invasion begins.”

“You’re such a big suck.” Nevertheless, she did as he requested.

His bottom lip came out. “I’m wounded! I could have died! Don’t I get any sympathy?”

“Aww, poor baby!” At his disgruntled look, she grinned and reached up to kiss him. “I love you.”

Now I feel better.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chapter 124

“Oh my God! JON!” Veronica ran across the stage. “Somebody call an ambulance! You guys,” she pointed at the closest crew members. “Move that off of him – and be careful!”

When the rigging was moved, Jon was revealed, face down, blood covering the back of his head and in streaks down his back.

Veronica sank to her knees beside him, afraid to touch him, but needing to know. She set one trembling hand on his back and collapsed over him at the feel of it rising and falling. “Johnny.” The whisper was almost soundless.

“Is he...?”

She didn’t know who spoke, and didn’t care. “He’s breathing.” Thank God! She lifted her head and looked around. “Where the fuck are the paramedics?”

A hand settled on her shoulder. “Easy Ronnie. They’re on their way.” Tony knelt beside her.

“I can’t lose him again Tony, I just can’t!”

“You won’t honey, you won’t. You know how hard headed he is.” Don’t you dare prove me wrong now big brother!

It seemed like an eternity before the ambulance arrived.

“Miss? We need you to move aside please.” The paramedic’s voice was gentle. “Ma’am, we need to check him out.”

“Come on Ronnie, let them work.” Tony pulled her out of the way.

“It’s all my fault. This is all my fault.”

“No it’s not. It was an accident.” Tony enfolded her in his arms.

Veronica shook her head. “If I hadn’t been arguing with him, he would have heard the warnings and gotten out of the way.” She watched the paramedics load Jon onto a stretcher and stepped forward. “I’m going with him.”

“Sorry, ma’am, we’re not allowed to take passengers.”

“You’re going to have to make an exception this time.” Ronnie insisted.

“Look...ma’am...his vital signs are strong, the cuts on his back are superficial...most of the blood is from a couple cuts on the back of his head. Head wounds bleed alot.”

“I’m going with him.”

The paramedic sent an imploring glance at Tony, who once again put his arm around her shoulders. “Honey, you don’t want to be in the way of them taking care of him. I’ll take you to the hospital. We’ll meet them there.”

They followed the stretcher out to the ambulance, then Tony flagged down a cab. He glanced at Veronica staring out the window, her foot tapping in impatience. “I’m sorry Ronnie, but I’ve got to call Mom and Dad.”

She nodded. “Call Dorothea and the guys too.” She didn’t offer to make any calls. She didn’t want to talk to anyone but Jon.

At the hospital, Tony showed his ID and they were escorted into a room to wait. “He’s being examined now. The doctor will let you know his condition as soon as he’s finished.” The nurse gave them a professional smile. “There’s a coffee machine in the nurse’s lounge or the cafeteria is on the basement level. Will there be others coming?”

Veronica didn’t answer, just sank into a chair and buried her head in her hands, but Tony smiled back. “Yes. I’m not sure who or when though.”

“Not a problem. I’ll show them where you are, or check with you if I’m not sure if they should be allowed back here.” She paused. “Security has been notified and guards will be posted nearby.”


Dorothea was the first to arrive with Stephanie and Jesse. “I didn’t want to bring the little ones until we knew what we were dealing with.” She hugged Veronica. “Have you heard anything?”

Veronica shook her head. “No. They’re still examining him.” She hugged the kids and fought back her tears.

Obie and the guys arrived next, one right after another.

“Be strong mija, he’ll be alright. You’ll see.” Tico hugged Veronica tight.

“He’s tough Ronnie, and a fighter. You know how stubborn he is.” David reminded her as he too hugged her.

“Hang in there little girl.” Richie murmured in her ear when it was his turn. “We’ve still got shows to do. You know he’ll never let the fans down.”

She had to smile at that. Her smile promptly faded when Jon’s parents entered the room.

Carol took one look at Veronica and exploded. “Get out! You have no right to be here!”

“Carol!” Jon warned.

“I don’t want her anywhere near my son. I want her out of here!”

Veronica had had enough. She couldn’t take anymore. And she didn’t care who heard her. Stepping up to Carol, her lips pulled back to bare her teeth. “No! I let you tear us apart once, but never again. I’m not leaving him! Whether you like it or not I love him and I’m not leaving him! Not ever again! We’re not young and scared kids that you can manipulate anymore Carol. You’re not going to win this time. I won’t let you.” Her eyes darkened and her voice dripped pain and venom. “You may lose your first born son. How does it feel?” She was gratified to see shock, pain and the dawning of understanding in Carol’s eyes. Turning away, she stumbled into a chair and let the tears flow.

The small room was filled with utter silence. No one knew what to say.

Jesse sat in the chair beside Veronica and took her hand. “Dad’s going to be alright, isn’t he?”

Veronica tried to smile reassuringly. “I hope so Jesse. God, I hope so.”

“Keep the faith?”

She chuckled and squeezed his hand. “Exactly.”

A few minutes later, a doctor appeared in the doorway and was quickly surrounded. “We did a CAT scan and a PET scan and everything looks good. There’s no sign of internal bleeding and his brain patterns are normal. He has a concussion and some cuts and bruises, but I see no reason that he won’t make a full and speedy recovery.”

Veronica sagged in relief and felt a strong arm slide around her waist to support her. Glancing up, she smiled into Matt’s blue eyes and leaned her head on his shoulder.

“Can we see him?” John Sr. asked.

“Yes. I’ll take you to his room. We’re going to keep him overnight just as a precaution.” The doctor led them to a room down the hall.

By unspoken agreement, they stood back to allow Veronica to enter first. She reached out for Stephanie and Jesse and stepped up to the side of the bed. The others circled around it. Jon looked a little pale, but other than that, undamaged.

“His face wasn’t hurt.” David noted trying for a little levity. “Can’t decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

“A good thing for our bank accounts.” Richie answered. “And for Ronnie, since she’s got to look at his mug even more than we do.”

Laughter echoed around the room, as much out of relief as amusement.

Veronica studied Jon’s face and reached out to brush his hair off his forehead before turning to the doctor. “When will he wake up?”

“That’s hard to judge. Head injuries are unpredictable. Could be a few minutes or a few hours.”

“But he will wake up?”

“I saw nothing in his tests that would suggest otherwise.” He assured her as much as he could. Nothing was a certainty when it came to head wounds.

“Thank you.”

They all sat around Jon’s bed, talking quietly – to him and amongst themselves – for hours, waiting for him to wake. Periodically someone would go foraging for food and coffee. Finally, as daylight faded, so did everyone’s energy.

As it neared midnight, Dorothea nudged her eldest two awake. “Come on you guys. Let’s go home and get some sleep. We’ll come back first thing in the morning.”

“But I want to be here when Dad wakes up!” Stephanie argued.

“If he wakes up before we get back, I’m sure Ronnie will call us and I promise we’ll come right away. We’re not that far, it’ll only take a few minutes.”

Veronica stood up. “I’ll call you immediately, I promise.” She hugged them. “Your dad’s going to be just fine. Get some sleep and we’ll see you in the morning – or sooner if he wakes up.” It wasn’t that she didn’t want them there, or that they didn’t deserve to be there, but if she was honest, she wanted to be alone with him for a few minutes when he woke up.

They grumbled, but they went. It was the signal for the rest as well. One by one they said goodnight, make Veronica promise to call as soon as Jon woke up. Very quickly, only John and Carol were left. Carol had been unusually quiet since Veronica’s outburst earlier, but Veronica doubted she would stay that way for long and braced herself.

“Honey, do you want us to stay with you?” John asked gently.

“It’s up to you. Whatever you want to do.” She was pretty sure she knew what Carol would want, but she didn’t have the energy – or the right – to argue. He was their son.

“Dorothea offered for us to stay at the loft. I think we should take her up on it.” Carol informed her husband. “We can get some sleep, and be there for the children. Veronica will call us when he wakes up.”

Stunned, Veronica nodded. “Of course.”

John hugged Veronica and kissed her cheek. “Call sooner if you need us.”

“Come back whenever you want.”

Carol met and held Veronica’s gaze for a long moment, then nodded. “Don’t worry, he’s going to be fine.”

Veronica sat staring at the doorway long after they were gone. Shaking her head, she turned back to the man lying so still in the bed. She had too much going on in her head right now to try to figure Carol out.

She pulled up a chair close to the bed, leaned over and kissed him gently. Sitting down, she took his hand in hers. She searched his face, looking for any signs of him waking, but didn’t find any. Tears welled, slid slowly down her cheeks and dropped onto his hand. “I love you Johnny. I’m so sorry I was so stubborn and didn’t admit that to you sooner. Maybe all of this could have been avoided.” She laid her head down on the bed and pressed her lips to his hand. “So sorry Johnny.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chapter 123

“So what the hell crawled up Vince’s ass and died?” Lori’s disgust came through the phone line loud and clear.

“I don’t know. Something’s going on. My bet is that it has something to do with Keith.” Veronica sipped from her mug of coffee, leaned back and put her feet up on the footstool. They were at Jon’s house enjoying a couple days off before the final two shows of the tour at Madison Square Garden. She was waiting for Jon to get off the phone so that they could head into the city to meet with Tony about his plans to record the shows for a DVD that would be released later in the year. “Have you heard anything?”

“No. Everything’s quiet on the country front. What does Jon think?”

“I haven’t told him.”

“Why not?”

“Are you kidding? You think I should tell the perfectionist control freak that the CEO of his record company thinks that he and his head of promotions are too busy fucking around to do their jobs? ‘Cause that’s what Vince’s accusations amount to. Do you want to see how high an Italian temper can explode? You’ll be able to hear him in Nashville!”

“Well, maybe Vince needs to hear it. Maybe then he’ll pull his head out of his ass.”

“Maybe, but I’m not sure I’m ready to light that fuse. You can be sure I’d have to listen to it!”

“What are you going to do?”

“I haven’t decided yet. He was right about one thing....I need to think about where I see my career going.”

“Are you thinking about quitting? What will you do?”

“Go work for another label.”

“Or maybe just for one particular band?” Lori’s voice was knowing.

“That’s an option.”

“Are you going to move in with Mr. Gorgeous?”

Veronica sighed heavily. “I don’t know. That’s something else I have to think about.”

Lori didn’t get it. Veronica was being offered something millions of women around the world would give their eyeteeth for and she was dragging her feet. “What’s holding you back? You said everything was great with the kids, he loves you, you love him...what’s the problem?”

“I don’t know if I love him.”

The sounds of choking and snorting echoed down the phone line. “Who are you trying to kid? Me? Or yourself?”

“Don’t push Lori.”

“Why not? Who’s going to if I don’t? If Jon does you’ll blow up at him and push him away. Someone’s got to push you to do what best for you!” She sighed. “I want you to be happy. Stop getting in your own way!”

Veronica bit back the urge to snap at her best friend. She knew her heart was in the right place. “Just let me finish up the tour, then I’ll sit down and really think about my future...all aspects of it.”

“Don’t think too long or you may lose him. Again.”

“Sugar! Let’s go!” Jon called from the foyer.

“I gotta go Lori. Jon’s ready to go.”

“Just promise me you’ll really think about everything. Don’t let fear stop you from finding happiness.”

“I promise I’ll think about it.”

The ride into New York City was very quiet. Veronica was preoccupied with her conversation with Lori...and Jon was preoccupied with her.

“You’re awful quiet. Penny for your thoughts.”

Veronica smiled. “Sorry, just thinking about the shows...and what comes next.”

Jon took a deep breath. “I meant what I said on the plane about moving in and transferring to the New York office...or you could quit altogether and work for us.”

“I’m not sure that us working together all the time would be a good idea.”

“Why not? It’s worked well this tour.”

“Yeah, but we weren’t a couple for the whole tour. That could make a difference.”

Jon wanted to argue, but managed to resist. She seemed to be somewhat receptive and he didn’t want to blow it. He stayed silent for several breaths. “And what about moving in?”

“Let’s just finish these shows, then we’ll see what’s what.”

The muscle in his jaw twitched. He tried to restrain his temper...he really did....but he couldn’t hold back. “What’s it going to take Ronnie? I love you! I’ve done everything I can think of to show you how serious I am and to convince you that I’ll never hurt you again. What the fuck more do you want from me?”

Her temper flared. “Stop pushing dammit!! I’ve got enough on my plate right now without you pushing!”

“Bullshit! There’s only the two shows left. You could do that in your sleep! You’re the one who always wants to talk about everything, why are you avoiding talking about this? About us?”

“Jon, don’t...please!”

“That’s all I ever hear from you! But I don’t hear any explanations! Do you want to be with me or not?”

“It’s not that simple!”

“Yes it is! Either you love me or you don’t. Either you want to be with me or you don’t.”

“I don’t want to argue with you.”

Jon snorted. “Since when? Or is it because I’m right and you know it? What the fuck are you so afraid of?”

Myself. Losing myself in you and your family then losing it all again. “I just need some time to think everything through. Just let me finish these shows and then I can think about us.”

He sighed in resignation. “I love you Nica. We can make this work, but I can’t...I won’t do it by myself.”

A tense silence filled the car for the rest of the trip, both of them lost in their own thoughts.

“Hey guys! I was beginning to think you’d gotten lost or were blowing me off.” Tony greeted them when they walked onto the floor of the arena.

“Sorry we’re late Tony, Jon had a phone call.” Veronica explained.

“What else is new?” Tony teased his brother.

“If everyone would just do their fucking jobs, I wouldn’t have to spend half my day on the fucking phone trying to sort shit out!” Jon stomped off to inspect the stage.

Tony looked at Veronica and raised a brow.

“Ignore him. He’s in a pissy mood.” Veronica advised. “So what are you thinking for the video?”

For the next half hour Tony explained his plan, and walked her around pointing out where he wanted the cameras. He was so descriptive she could practically see the shots.

Jon was back and forth between them and the stage like a yo-yo. He would stand with them, listening to Tony, until he saw something on the stage he didn’t like, then he’d go yell at someone there.

“What piece of fuck put that there? How am I supposed to work the front with that there? Do you want me to break my fucking neck? This is the end of the tour for fuck’s sake, not the beginning....use your fucking heads!”

Tony winced. They could see crew members starting to look frustrated and a little mutinous. They didn’t appreciate his interference and criticizing their work – anyone could see they weren’t finished. They knew what they were doing and he would be satisfied if he’d just leave them alone and let them do it.

Veronica knew it was her fault and she had to stop it. She sighed. “Excuse me a minute Tony.”

“Good luck soothing the savage beast. I’ll keep emergency services on standby.” Tony offered. This could get ugly! Where’s the popcorn?

Veronica climbed onto the stage and approached Jon where he was standing alone – no one wanted to be near him in this mood. She set a hand on his arm. “Jon, please stop. Let them do their job. Don’t take your temper out on them. They don’t deserve it.”

Sapphire eyes glittered. “So maybe I should just take it out on the one that does?”

Amethyst eyes returned fire. All the weeks of stress and pressure, from him, from Vince, from her friends, from his mother...even from herself all came to a head and her temper snapped. “Fine. I know that you’re pissed at me. If you want to scream and yell at me and act like a spoiled child go ahead. Just don’t take it out on the staff and crew that work so hard for you.” There was creaking noises coming from over head, that had some of the crew looking up, but the combatants ignored it. “Let me know when you’re ready to act like an adult and then maybe we’ll talk.” She turned and started to walk away.

Jon snorted and followed her a few steps. “Maybe. All I ever get from you is maybe! You call me a child, but you’re the one running away and hiding!”

“Uh...Jon...” One brave roadie spoke up, looking nervously at the rigging around the lights, but Jon ignored him.

Veronica stalked back towards him until they were toe to toe.

“Why don’t you let me know when you’re ready to get over the past and your fear and be the woman I know you can be again!” Jon sneered at her.

“Why? So you can destroy her again?” She could have bitten her tongue. She really hadn’t wanted him to know of her fear. She needed time to work through it. Time without the circus of the tour. Time to decide what she wanted out of life. She turned and rushed towards the side of the stage.

“Jon, you might want to....” The roadie tried again, still watching the creaking rigging.

“Not now!” Jon didn’t take his eyes off Veronica and looked like he’d been punched.

Before he could move to follow her, there was a loud crash.

Veronica spun around in time to see a large tangle of metal, glass and wires descend rapidly from the ceiling. “JON!”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chapter 122

“What exactly did you want me to promote Vince?” Veronica’s voice was a little sharp, but she didn’t appreciate being yelled at for no reason. “It’s a free show in Central Park. The tickets were gone in minutes, all the rock radio stations in the Tri-State area have been talking about it, and we did a joint announcement with the mayor’s office. They’re lined up down the block. What more did you want me to do?”

“I want you to quit fucking around with your boyfriend and do what we’re paying you to do!”

Veronica took a deep breath, and sent up a silent prayer of thanks that Jon wasn’t nearby to hear that! He was over inspecting the stage set up before the families started arriving and they opened the gates to let people into that area of Central Park. With Carol’s impending appearance she really didn’t need this shit from Vince. “I know I didn’t just hear you say that! You’ve been behind that desk too long if you think that promoting on the road is easy. You know me better than that! You know how seriously I take my job! And you know Jon.” She needed another deep breath before she could continue. “What is this really about Vince? Is Keith pressuring you to replace me with him?”

“Keith has nothing to do with this. I want to make sure that your focus is on your job and not your boyfriend.”

Her temper soared, and she barely managed to keep it under control. “If you don’t think I’m doing a good job, then fire me. Otherwise, get off my back and stop accusing me of something you know I’m not doing! If you don’t, I’m sure one of the other labels would appreciate my efforts and skills! Or maybe I’ll let you talk to my ‘boyfriend’ and you can tell him that you think I’m shirking my responsibilities in favour of playing with him. But you might not like his response.”

“Are you threatening me?” Vince asked, incredulous.

“Not at all. I’m just letting you know what will happen if you keep making baseless accusations against me.” Veronica had reached the end of her patience with him.

“You’ve done great work for us, but you’re not irreplaceable.” Vince warned. “You need to think long and hard about where you see your career going.”

“You’re right. I do. I’ll let you know what I decide. Right now, I’ve got a few interviews to monitor and two more shows to push before this tour is over. Unless there’s something else you need, I’ll talk to you later.” Hanging up, she frowned. Something was going on. Vince was always a bit demanding, but he’d never ridden her ass like this.

“Where’s my son? Someone tell him that we’re here.” Carol’s voice carried down the hallway.

Veronica turned the other way, searching for a quiet place to regroup and fortify herself mentally to face her next ordeal.

“Where’s Ronnie?” Jon hung up his phone after once again hearing her voicemail kick in. “Anyone seen her?”

The crew members in the area all shook their heads.

He started down the hallway asking everyone he met. “Have you seen Ronnie?”

“What’s the matter Kidd, lose your girlfriend?” David smirked. “Did she finally get smart and bolt?” A Jersey salute was the only response he got.

Jon turned to the rest of the guys. “Have you seen her? We’ve got interviews.”

“Did you try her cell?” Tico, as usual, was the practical one.

“Yeah, it goes to voicemail.”

“She’s got it turned off?” Richie frowned. “That’s unusual. I’ll keep an eye out for her.”

“Thanks.” Jon continued down the hallway, annoyance turning into concern.

A little further down Richie opened the door to his dressing room, stepped inside and stopped dead in his tracks. Sticking his head back into the hallway, he looked around. “Kidd? You know that item you’re looking for? I found it.”

Jon turned around and started towards him, his frown deepening. “What’s she doing there?”

“Um....I’m not really sure.”

Jon entered the room to find Veronica lying with her back on the floor, her legs up against the wall, arms stretched out to her sides, eyes closed, headphones to her iPod in her ears.

The others, drawn by Richie’s cryptic comment, had come to see what was going on. David couldn’t resist. “Can she hold her legs like that without the wall?”

Jon just smiled.

“Joker, I finally figured out what you remind me of with that hair.” Veronica proved that she could hear them.

“Yeah? What’s that?” He wasn’t afraid of what she’d come up with, he’d heard them all.

A sliver of violet was visible as she cracked open one eye, then closed it again. “A Chia pet!”

Laughter filled the small room. Even David had to chuckle, although he was afraid he was never going to hear the end of that one.

“Ch ch ch chia!”

Jon walked over and crouched down by her head. “Honey? Are you okay? What are you doing?”

“Restorative yoga. It’s meant to calm and re-energize you.”

“Uh huh. And what do they call that one?” He’d become used to walking into rooms to find her in various yoga poses, but this one was new.

“Legs up the wall.”

“Of course it is.” His lips twitched. “Why are you doing yoga in Richie’s dressing room?”

“Where’s Jon? Did anyone tell him that we’re here? We’ve been waiting for half an hour!” Carol’s strident tones echoed down the hallway.

Veronica heaved a heavy sigh. “That’s why. I knew no one would bother me in here.” Glancing at her watch, she dropped her legs to the side.

Jon straightened, reached down and helped her up. “I’m sorry sugar.”

“Stop apologizing for her Jon. It’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do.” She kissed him. “Come on. You guys have interviews.”

While the guys went to get comfortable – as much as they could for interviews – Veronica went to get her notebook from the office. As she re-entered the hallway she almost got run over.

“Ronnie! We’re here!”

“I see that!” She caught Romeo as he flew at her for a hug. “How are you guys?”

“We good!”

She greeted the rest of the kids, then glanced up to see Dorothea bringing up the rear. “Hi Dot.”

“Hi Ronnie. How are you?”

“I’m doing well, how are you?”

“I’m good.”

“Are you staying for the show?”

“No, I’m just dropping the kids off.” They fell into step behind the kids heading towards Jon’s dressing room. “I want to thank you again for looking after Romeo when he fell – and letting me know about it.”

“Of course.”

Dorothea shook her head. “There’s no ‘of course’ about it. If it was left up to Jon, I wouldn’t find out about it until Romeo was home and I saw the scar. Not that he’d be trying to keep it from me, he just doesn’t think about stuff like that. It makes me feel better to know you’re there to look after them and keep me up in the loop.”

They caught up with the kids in Jon’s dressing room. The rest of the families were gathered there as well. Carol was holding court, but didn’t seem to notice that no one was paying attention to what she was saying. Motioning Jake over, Veronica whispered in his ear. A grin very like his father’s spread across his face and he dove for Veronica’s bag sitting in the corner and began to rifle through it.

“Jake! What are you doing? That’s not yours!” Dorothea scolded.

He pulled out a paper bag. “Cookies!”

“I think Ronnie spoils you guys!” His mother observed.

Jake could only smile around a mouthful of cookie and nod.

“Just don’t forget to share.” Veronica reminded him. “And save some for Daddy and the uncles.”

As soon as they’d walked into the room, Carol had pinned Veronica with a glare. “Where’s Jon? Does he know that his family is here? Waiting for him?”

“Yes he knows and he’ll be here as soon as he can. He also has a job to do. They have two interviews, then they’ll be here.” Veronica struggled to keep her cool.

“And who scheduled that? You?”

“Yes. That is part of my job.” She turned to Dot and the kids. “I need to monitor them and keep them on schedule. I’ll see you guys in a little while. See you later Dot.”

“Call me when you’re ready to bring the kids back.” Dot replied with a sympathetic look.

Once Veronica was gone, Carol raised a brow at her ex-daughter-in-law. “Are you really okay with that woman around your children?”

“Yes. She knows what it’s like to lose a child, so I have every confidence that she’ll take care of mine as if they were her own. And she’s just what Jon needs.”

“You can’t seriously believe that!” Carol couldn’t believe her ears.

“I do. Twenty years ago, he needed the grounding and reality that I could provide better than Ronnie could. But his needs have changed. Now he needs someone who understands the business and all this,” she waved her hand, the gesturing encompassing more than just the room, “and who can help him with it. I can’t do that. Ronnie can. And she also understands the importance of family. She really is the best person for him.”

“I think you’d better get used to her Gran.” Stephanie had listened quietly, but felt the need to speak up in Veronica’s defence. “I think...and I hope...she’s going to be around for a long, long time.”

Carol’s mouth tightened into a mutinous line, but she kept silent. She knew when she was outnumbered.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chapter 121

After the fireworks finished, the guests started to leave, until finally it was just the family left. While the men were outside putting away tables and chairs, the women were in the house dealing with the dishes and left over food.

Carol watched Veronica move efficiently and with familiarity around Jon’s kitchen and frowned. “That doesn’t go there!”

Veronica rolled her eyes at Desiree, but continued to load the dishwasher – as she saw fit!

“Ronnie, I think we have a soldier down.” Matt spoke from the doorway, a half asleep Romeo in his arms.

Wiping her hands on a towel, she walked towards him, her arms held out. “Here, I’ll take him upstairs to bed.” Hand off complete, she murmured in Romeo’s ear. “Say goodnight.”

“’Nite.” Romeo laid his head on her shoulder and waved at his relatives.

Matt watched them disappear, then turned to his mother. “Get off her back Mom. What’s she ever done to you? If anyone has the right to be pissed off it’s Ronnie.”

“What are you talking about?” Carol huffed. “You don’t know what happened.”

“I know enough to know that this family hasn’t treated her very well. In fact, I’m surprised she even speaks to either you or Jon!”

“Matt...” Desiree’s voice held a warning note.

“I know, I know. She’s forgiven Jon even to the point of giving him a second chance. Just goes to show you what a wonderful, strong woman she is.” He shook his head. “I’m not sure I could be that forgiving in her position.” Looking back at his mother, he gave her his version of the stink eye. “My point is, she’s done nothing to earn your rudeness and disrespect, so get off her back and be nice to her!”

John Sr., a sleeping Jake in his arms, arrived in time to hear his youngest’s last comments. He gave his wife a dark look. “I’m taking Jake up to bed, and then I think it’s time we went home.”

Veronica was coming out of Romeo’s room when John appeared at the top of the stairs. “Another one down?”

“Yeah. I guess the chocolate chips finally wore off.”

They got Jake settled, and left the room, John closing the door behind them.

“Oh, can you leave that open a bit? If the cat can’t get in there to sleep with him she comes scratching at....Jon’s door and he has to pretend he’s annoyed.” Veronica smirked.

John gave her a knowing look. “Does he get up and let her in or does he make you do it?”

She hesitated, then gave in. They were both consenting adults after all. “I did. He slept through it – or so he said.”

John laughed. “You’re not buying the tough guy routine?”

She snorted. “I know him better than that.”

“Yes, you do.” He paused. “Ronnie, I’m sorry about Carol.”

“You can’t control her thoughts and attitude John. I just hate that all of this is causing conflict within your family.”

“Honey, she’s the one causing the conflict, and whether you’re ready to admit it or not, you are a part of this family. You have been for twenty years. Regardless of what happens between you and Jon – and I hope you can make it work – you are my grandson’s mother, and as such, will always have a place in this family....and my heart.”

Tears blurred her vision and she had to blink. “Thank you.” It was all she could manage to say.

He hugged her. “Ronnie, don’t let Carol affect any decisions you make regarding Jon and your future. You do whatever you have to do to ensure your own happiness. And if my son is as smart as I think he is, he’ll do whatever he has to do to ensure it as well. He recognizes his part in the bad treatment you received from the people who should have been helping you when we lost Drew. He won’t let you be hurt like that again.” He searched her eyes. “Trust him, Ronnie, he loves you. You focus on yourself, Jon and the kids....I’ll work on Carol.” He kissed her cheek. “Be happy Ronnie, you deserve it.” Straightening, he urged her towards the stairs. “Thanks for a great party honey.”

“Thanks for coming John and for all your help, and for.....well...just...thanks.”

“Anytime. You need anything, you call me.”

As they pulled down the driveway, John glanced at his wife. “You’ve got to stop this crap with Ronnie Carol.”

“I don’t want that woman anywhere near my family!”

“Whether you like it or not, she’s a part of this family! If you don’t find a way to let the past go and get along with her, you’re going to be the one on the outside of the family looking in! You’re alienating our boys, which means you’ll lose our grandchildren too. I’m not asking you to admit to Ronnie that you were wrong in your treatment of her twenty years ago, because I know you will never do that. All I’m asking is that you stop sniping at her and criticizing her. You don’t have to be best friends with her, just be polite.”

Carol just snorted and stared out the window.

“Okay, I think that’s it. We’re going to head out Sis, unless there’s something else you need us to do?” Matt looked around the clean kitchen.

“No, I think we’re about done. Thanks for all your help.” Veronica’s gaze included Desiree. She walked them outside where Jon was finishing cleaning up the bar area. “Jon, Matt and Desiree are leaving.”

The two brothers said their goodbye’s – a little cooler than usual, but it was obvious that their earlier argument, while not forgotten, wasn’t going to cause any lasting damage to their relationship.

Veronica waved them off and took a last tour through the house to make sure they hadn’t missed anything. Climbing the stairs to check on the kids, she found them all sound asleep, even Stephanie and Jesse. It had been a long, busy day for all of them. Peeking into Jake’s room, she was startled for a second until she recognized the glowing green eyes looking at her from his bed. Boots had been hiding most of the day with all the strange people around, but obviously she’d felt it was safe to come out.

Stepping back outside, she accepted the glass of wine that Jon handed her and wandered over by the pool. The atmosphere was decidedly romantic if she took the time to notice. The grounds were lit with the glow of the dozen lights that were scattered around. Jon had turned on the stereo and soft, lilting melodies floated on air scented by the flowers planted along the house. Even the pool was lit from within. But her mind was elsewhere, reliving the events of the day, Carol’s biting words....and John’s comforting ones. The air had cooled only slightly with the disappearance of the sun, and the water looked deliciously cool and inviting.

Jon watched her, sensing her distraction. When she set down her wineglass at the edge of the pool and stepped out of her shorts, his mouth went dry at the sight of her, the bikini bottom held in place by just two bows on her hips. His fingers twitched with the urge to unravel them and explore the secrets hidden underneath the scraps of white material.

With a graceful arch of her body, Veronica dove into the clear water, surfacing to find Jon sitting beside her glass, feet dangling in the water. Swimming over, she rested her arms on the side and picked up her glass. They were in the shallow end and she could stand easily, but remained crouched down in the water.

He watched her sip wine, his gaze following a bead of water running over her collar bone and down between her breasts. “You did a great job today.” The narrowing of her eyes had him replaying his words in his head and raising a hand to stop her before she lit into him. “Not that I had any doubts that you would! I just meant the party was a great success, and thank you.”

Veronica took another sip, set down her glass and moved to stand in front of him, nudging his knees apart so that she could stand close, running her hands over his knees and up under the edge of his board shorts to stroke his thighs. “I thought it went well. Tell me about your friends.”

While Jon filled her in about the people she’d met that afternoon, his hands running lightly up and down her arms, shoulders and back, Veronica alternated between sipping wine and stroking his body, first his thighs, then his chest. The way she played with his chest hair and kneaded his pecs reminded him of Boots preparing her nest before lying down. Even her wordless sounds of encouragement when he paused in his storytelling sounded like purrs.

When his voice trailed off she looked up and crooked a brow at him. “What?”

“I was just thinking how much you remind me of a cat.” He went on to explain.

“Mmmm.” She purred. “Just don’t forget that cats have claws.” Curling her fingers, her nails bit lightly into his chest.

“Mmm. Scratch me kitten.”

Leaning forward, she set her teeth to the thick muscle. “What about if I bite?”

“Whatever turns you on Sweetheart.”

“And what turns you on?” The words were murmured against his skin as she licked and nibbled, tasting the mixture of sweat, chlorinated water, and that musky male flavour that was uniquely him.

“Everything about you.”

She leaned up and kissed him, nuzzling his lips and sucking lightly. “Nice. Sucking up for something?”

“Nope, just being honest.” His mouth brushed hers. “Will it get me anything?”

“Mmmm. Depends.” Her mouth moved down his throat and over his collarbone to tease at the nailheads of his nipples.

“On what?” His voice had deepened and a shiver ran down his spine.

“On what you have for me besides smooth words.”

Jon looked down at his lap. “See for yourself.”

One delicate hand settled on his rapidly swelling erection and squeezed. “Mmm...is all of this for me?”

His breath hissed through his teeth. “All yours sugar.”

“Maybe I should take a closer look at it.” Pulling loose the drawstring waistband, she tugged until she was able to reveal him. He lifted his hips to help. One hand trailed up and down his length, over and over while the other reached underneath to cup and fondle his sac. For long minutes, she played, and watched his face - flushed and sweating, blue eyes dark and glittering. “Hmmm....what should I do with it?”

Jon was beyond speaking. It was taking every ounce of control he had not to explode in her hand. But he wanted more. His answer was to cup his hands on either side of her head and pulled down.

Smiling inwardly, Veronica complied, opening her mouth wide to take him inside.

Jon watched his aching flesh disappear between her lips. His hands eased their grip to let her move. Unable to look away, he watched as her head lifted and lowered, releasing him, then swallowing him again. He groaned at the slither of her tongue over his sensitive flesh. When she started to suck he thought he was going to lose it. He knew he couldn’t hold on much longer, but he wanted to make it last as long as he could.

Just as his peak was approaching, Veronica started to lift her head. With a low growl, his hands tightened and pushed her back down. She would have grinned if she could, but her mouth was otherwise occupied. Instead, she decided to bring things to a ‘head’ and increased the pressure of her caressing hands and the strength of her suction.

“Ooooh...FUCK!” He bit out, the last shred of control ripping away.

Veronica gulped and swallowed the deluge that flooded her mouth and throat.

When he was empty, she eased back, kissed his still throbbing head and reached for her wine glass. “So tell me about the Octopus.”

If he had the breath he would have laughed. Audrey Vanelli might be grabby, but no one in his experience could out do Veronica when it came to suction power. He’d bet serious money that she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose! His toes actually curled and he was still seeing spots! He cleared his throat – twice. “She’s a divorcee who likes to flirt. She’s harmless really.”

“Uh huh.”

Pushing off the edge, he slid into the pool and pulled her into his arms. “Let me put it this way. She’s no threat to you. You’re the only one I want.” He bent to capture her mouth in a gentle but very thorough kiss. Raising his head, he grasped her hips and lifted her onto the side. “You’ve been driving me nuts all day with this.” Calloused fingers trailed over the tops of her breasts. “Made me want to move the cloth out of the way and taste the goodies underneath.” His head dipped to do exactly that, teeth biting cloth to move it aside, tongue circling hard nipples, lips suckling.

“Mmm....Johnny.” Her sigh signaled her appreciation.

“Good thing I didn’t know what you had on under those shorts. I would have had to steal you away from the party for awhile.” His fingers slowly unraveled the bows at her hips.

“And you think I would have let you?”

“I would have made it worth your while.” He assured her as he stripped away her last covering. Hooking his hands under her knees, he lifted them and spread them wide, opening her completely to his gaze. He stroked the inside of her thighs while he debated his next move. Then he bent and ran his tongue up her damp slit.

Veronica groaned and closed her eyes briefly against the jolt of pleasure. Opening them again she looked down to see him watching her, a brow lifting in question. Her own eyes glittering, it was her turn to lace her fingers into his hair and pull him closer.

All too happy to oblige, he settled in to feast. He explored her secrets with lips and tongue, driving her passion higher and higher with teasing licks and nibbles. Judging her state by the tension in the supple thighs under his hands and the gasps and moans she couldn’t suppress, when she was near the edge he pushed her over, penetrating her with his tongue.

Veronica cried out, her hands fisting in his hair in response to the waves of pleasure swamping her. When they subsided and he lifted his head, she felt the loss immediately. She wanted more. Using her grip on his hair, she pulled him back down.

A low chuckle was his only verbal reply. Even though pleasuring her had renewed his own arousal, he was willing to give her what she obviously wanted. This time he focused on her clit, flicking it with his tongue and laving it until she was once more on the brink. Closing his teeth on the pulsing nub, he sucked. Hard.

Veronica screamed and held on as her nervous system exploded. Her eyes closed and her body shuddered. But it still wasn’t enough. Opening her eyes, she looked down at him, noting the hot flame in the cobalt depths of his eyes.

Jon read the message in the amethyst gaze locked to his. “More?”

The husky murmur sparked her senses again. “Only if I get you this time.” Bracing her hands on the edge of the pool, she slipped in.

And he slipped into her. Hands gripping her hips, he moved her on him, stroking slowly and deeply.

Veronica wrapped herself around him and held on. Her mouth reached for his, their lips melding, tongues twining. When her peak neared, she tightened her grip.

Jon stopped and waited for her to calm, then started moving again. Once again, he stopped just when she was on the edge. Her hands raked down his back in frustration and encouragement.

The third time he stopped, she fisted both hands in his hair and tugged. “Stop teasing! Next time I’m coming – with or without you!”

He grinned and flexed his hips. “You want this?”

Veronica moaned. “Mmmm. Yes....faster Johnny! Harder!”

Bracing his legs, he tightened his grip on her hips and increased his pace. Each time he pulled her onto him, he thrust his hips, intensifying each movement.

It only took minutes for Veronica to scale the heights of pleasure again. This time he let her go over the top. Her teeth sank into his shoulder as her world shattered.

With a flurry of thrusts, Jon joined her.

It took a few minutes before either one of them could move, let alone talk. Jon finally managed to maneuver them to the steps in the corner of the pool where he sat with her still wrapped around him. “Why....would I want.....an octopus.....when I have....a mermaid?”

Veronica laughed breathlessly and hugged him tighter.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chapter 120

They’d barely gotten everything set up when guests started to arrive. It was a typically warm July day, and very quickly people stripped down to bathing suits and many made use of the pool.

Seeing the boys running around shirtless sent Veronica looking for sunscreen. Lassoing them long enough to put it on them was much more difficult. “Romeo! Stand still for a minute you little monkey!”

“Look at her. Acting like she’s part of this family...like she belongs here.” Carol glowered at the sight of Veronica trying to smooth sunscreen on a giggling, squirming Romeo. “Playing mother to his kids and hostess to his guests. She’s not worthy of being either one.”

“But Jon must have asked her to be here...to be with him....didn’t he?” Her friend Marjorie asked as she reached for another cracker and a slice of cheese from the plate on the table in front of her.

Carol snorted. “She’s pretty and well built. You can see why he’d want her around. She works for the record company. But she’s just after his money and his fame.”

Marjorie knew Jon well enough to doubt he would have some woman staying in his house, acting as his hostess, just because she was pretty. His love for his kids and his sense of propriety would outweigh his lust. He’d still indulge, just not at home, especially when the kids were there. But she also knew Carol, and that arguing – particularly about anything to do with Jon – was useless.

Jesse reached passed his grandmother for a piece of cheese. “We like her Gram. She’s really nice to us. You should have seen her when Romeo got hurt. She cried as much as he did! You would have thought it was her head. And the uncles say she’s really good at the music promotion stuff.”

“Mfft! Romeo would never have gotten hurt if he’d been looked after properly.”

Jesse wanted to defend Ronnie further, but didn’t want to argue with his grandmother. Grabbing another piece of cheese from the plate, he just shrugged and walked over to Ronnie for his turn with the sunscreen.

Just as she was finishing Jesse’s back, Stephanie approached. “Will you do my back please Ronnie?”

“Sure.” Veronica smoothed lotion over Stephanie’s exposed skin, then tried to hand the bottle to her. “Do mine?”

Stephanie didn’t take her eyes off of the scene she was watching by the bar. “Umm... I think maybe you should get Dad to do it.”


“Because the Octopus has him cornered.”

“The what?”

“The Octopus....Mrs. Vanelli. She lives down the road. You’ll want to keep an eye on her. She’s had a thing for Dad since...forever. She grabs at him every chance she gets. That’s why we call her the Octopus. Mom said that she was harmless and she ignored it, but I’m not so sure. And it’s been even worse since the divorce. She looks at Dad like a Survivor contestant looks at a juicy steak after being on the island for thirty five days.”

Veronica laughed and looked over to where a shirtless Jon was tending bar. Sure enough, Mrs. Vanelli – she thought her name was Audrey – stood leaning over, as close to Jon as she could get. While she watched, the dark haired woman laughed and patted Jon’s hand. Then she leaned over – almost coming out of her bikini top as she did – and brushed his hair out of his eyes.

Veronica stood up. Sure Jon had leaned back and showed no interest in what was being offered to him, but maybe the Octopus needed a reminder of what the situation was. When they’d been introduced Audrey had glanced at her and mumbled something, but quickly ignored her to focus her attention on Jon. Veronica wasn’t normally the jealous type – or maybe she’d just never had anyone worth getting jealous over – but this kind of outright attempt to poach pissed her off. Walking up behind him, she squeezed some lotion into her hand, rubbed them together, then slowly smoothed it over his back and shoulders.

“Thanks sugar.” Jon peered at her over his shoulder. The glint in the blue depths was hidden by his dark sunglasses. “Aren’t you going to do the front too?”

“Sure babe.” Squeezing out more lotion she stepped closer and reached around to rub it into his chest and stomach. The sour look twisting the Octopus’ lips encouraged her to take her time and make sure every inch of skin was covered. Jon’s low chuckle didn’t hurt either.

“He’s big enough to do that himself.” Carol’s harsh voice as she joined them spoiled the moment.

“Yeah, but he won’t remember to, and it’s me who has to listen to him bitch and whine when he gets burned.” Veronica answered. “Besides, this way’s more fun.”

Jon grinned and turned his head to kiss her. “No argument here. Do you want a glass of wine?”

“Please.” When he handed her the glass she handed him the lotion and turned her back to him for him to return the favour.

“Ronnie, when are the cookies coming out?” Jake appeared at her side.

“Those are for after dinner buddy. I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for a bit. There’s cheese and crackers and veggie’s and dip though...and you can have some chips.”

He sighed heavily. “Okay. Can I have a pop Daddy?”

“Sure buddy.” Jon opened a can and handed it to him.

“Ronnie, we’re having a diving contest. Will you come pick the winner?”

“I’ll do that for you Jake.” Carol spoke before Veronica could.

“That’s okay Grandma, we want Ronnie.”

Veronica smothered a smile at Carol’s chagrined expression. “Sure buddy. I’ll tell you what. The winner gets a cookie.”

“Yay! Now I have to win!”

A couple hours later Jon was manning the barbeque and Ronnie was setting out the salads, condiments, rolls and desserts. Stephanie was helping and had just set down a plate of cookies when Jesse wandered up to scope out the food.

“The Octopus is at it again.” He nodded towards the barbeque.

Ronnie and Stephanie looked up to see Audrey once again close to Jon, this time considerately fanning the air with a magazine to help with the added heat of the grill and keep the few whisps of smoke away from his face – or so she wanted everyone to think.

Veronica sighed, picked up a cookie and wandered over to the barbeque. “Babe? How long before the meat’s ready?”

“About ten minutes.” Seeing the cookie in her hand, he opened his mouth, silently asking for a bite.

She gave him a considering look. “I don’t know. What do I get for this cookie?”

Turning from the grill, he snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her against him. “Me.”

Veronica glanced at Audrey. “Is that a good trade off? I don’t know. What do you think Audrey?”

“Oh, I’d say so.”

“Hmmm. I think I want a little more.” Looping her arms around his neck, she lifted her face.

He obliged with a low growl, taking possession of her mouth and tasting her thoroughly.

“Uh...Jon, you’ve got flames!” Audrey warned.

Lifting his head, he stared down at Veronica. “We sure do.” He dropped another kiss on her lips before turning back to the grill.

Veronica broke the cookie into pieces and fed them to him while he flipped various hunks of protein. Glancing around, she noticed his empty wineglass and picked it up. “Want a refill?”

“Please. Thanks honey.”

As dusk descended over the Navesink, everyone found a spot on the wide expanse of lawn in anticipation of the fireworks display Jon had arranged.

Veronica was walking slowly through the group, making sure that no one needed anything, and noting where the kids were, when she felt a tug on her hand. With a smile, she settled onto the grass between Jon’s legs and felt his arms come around her. A trilling laugh had them looking several feet over to see Audrey in animated conversation with a couple other neighbours. It was the closest she’d come to Jon since their performance at the barbeque.

“Do you think she got the hint?”

Jon shrugged. “Not likely, but I appreciated your efforts to get the point across. Anytime you feel the urge to stake your claim, be my guest.” Turning the other way at a familiar voice, they saw Carol talking to Romeo, who was trying to pull away from her. “Has Mom said anything else rude to you today?”

She shook her head. “She hasn’t spoken to me at all.” A growl rumbled in his chest. “It’s fine. I’d rather be ignored than have her snipe at me.”

“I’m sorry sugar. She’ll come around, it just might take some time.”

“No she won’t. She can’t do that without acknowledging that what she did when Drew was born was wrong, and she’ll never do that.” She patted his arm. “It’s okay.” It wasn’t really, but what could she say?

“No it’s not.” He disagreed.

They were interrupted by Romeo’s raised voice. “No! Wanna sit with Ronnie!” Breaking away from his grandmother, he ran over and plopped down between Ronnie’s legs and leaned back against her. “Ok Daddy, I ready now! Turn on the fire sparks!”

Those within hearing chuckled, as did Jon and Veronica. Once again she found herself sandwiched between two Bongiovi males. Jake appeared and settled beside them, offering a cookie from the plate he carried. Veronica twisted her head until she could murmur in Jon’s ear. “This is what matters.”

Jon couldn’t argue with that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chapter 119

Jon rolled over and dropped his arm over Veronica’s waist. A slight frown of confusion wrinkled his brow when his fingers touched something soft and...furry. He flexed them and waited for his sleep fogged brain to process what he was touching. He knew it wasn’t her nightgown – that was silk – and he could feel the blanket under his arm. Then he felt something damp and slightly rough scrape his skin.

“What the hell?” He raised up on his elbow to see what it was. Green eyes looked up at him while the small pink tongue continued licking.

“Cat.” Veronica murmured sleepily without opening her eyes.

“Oh.” He dropped back onto his pillow and closed his eyes, his fingers absently smoothing fur. “How’d she get in here?”

“She was scratching at the door and crying. Jake must have closed his door.” Boots had taking to sleeping on the six year old’s bed – with his complete agreement - since Jon had kept his promise to keep his bedroom door closed so that she couldn’t get in.

“So you let her in?”

“Mmmm. Couldn’t stand the noise.”

He sighed. “At least she’s sleeping on your side.”

“You kept pushing her off the bed on your side.” She turned her head slightly and cracked open one eye. “Do you really not remember any of this?”

“Uh uh. You wore me out last night.” As she had every night since they’d gotten home. Yeah, he could definitely get used to this.

Veronica snorted. “I didn’t start everything last night....I just finished it.”

And that was an area where he’d like to see some improvement – she very rarely initiated their intimate encounters. She responded readily to his advances, but he wished she’d take the lead sometimes.

A knock at the door prevented his response. “Ronnie, Daddy.”

“Come on in little man.” Veronica called out. Stephanie had been right again. None of the boys had seemed the least bit surprised or upset about finding her sleeping in Jon’s room.

Romeo ran over and climbed onto the bed. “It’s party day! Oh, hi Boots!”

“It is! Are you excited?” Veronica smiled at the boy and kitten playing beside her.

“Yeah! When everybody coming?”

“Not until this afternoon.”

“Aww.” His bottom lip came out in a pout. “What we gonna do ‘til then?”

“Have a nap.” Was his father’s suggestion.

“But Daddy, it not night time! And we haven’t had breakfast yet!”

“That’s why it’s called a nap.”

Veronica poked him with her elbow. “Daddy’s just teasing. We’ve got to get the tables set up, make sure the food’s ready, Daddy’s got to make sure the barbeque’s ready and set up the bar...” As she ran down the list of what they needed to do before the guests arrived, she ignored the groans coming from the grumpy wall at her back.

Romeo’s eyes widened as she spoke. “We’re gonna need a lot of cookies to get all that done.”

Veronica laughed. “How about we start with some breakfast first? Why don’t you take Boots downstairs and make sure she’s got food and water in her dishes and we’ll be down in a few minutes and Daddy will make us something to eat. Okay?”

“Okay. Scambled eggs pease Daddy.” Holding the kitten carefully, he slid off the bed.

“You got it little man.” Jon replied, but didn’t even open his eyes.

“Come on Grumpy Gus, this is your party.”

Our party.”

“Mmmmm.” Rising from the bed, she pulled on a robe and headed downstairs for some sustenance to prepare her for the day.

Behind her, a frustrated rockstar growled into his pillow and punched it.

After breakfast and quick showers, Veronica deployed her troops for Operation Party Prep. They were setting the last of the tables in place when a car came up the driveway.

“It’s Grandma and Grandpa!” Jake, who was closest, announced.

“Oh joy.” Veronica muttered under her breath, thinking no one was close enough to hear.

Stephanie gave her a compassionate look and went to greet her grandparents. Jon stepped up to kiss her and squeeze her hand reassuringly but made no move to go near his mother.

“We came early to help.” Carol announced as she joined them. “Matthew and Desiree are right behind us.”

“But it looks like you’ve got everything under control. It looks great Ronnie.” John leaned over to kiss her cheek. “Happy Fourth honey.”

“Thanks John. Happy Fourth to you too.” Taking a deep breath she turned. “Carol.”

Carol looked over Veronica’s barbeque attire of red shorts over a white bikini – which Jon assured her was totally appropriate, and he greatly appreciated – and shoved the salad bowl she was carrying into her hands. “Hmmpf! This needs to go in the fridge until we’re ready to eat.” She walked over to the nearest table. “This table should be over there.”

“Hey Ronnie, where do you want this stuff?” Matt called, gesturing with the containers of raw vegetables he carried.

“In the kitchen please Matty.” Veronica shot Jon a look, and turned towards the house.

Jon watched her go, sighed, and narrowed his eyes at his mother. “Don’t start Mom. I told you, be civil or leave.”

“Help your father move this table.”

“It’s fine where it is.”

“It belongs over there.”

“It belongs wherever Ronnie wants it!”

“This is your house not hers!”

“And I say it goes wherever the fuck she wants it!”

“Jon! Language! The children are right here!”

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Jon headed towards the house to see how much damage was done.


“Carol stop.” John’s voice was harsh. “You promised you wouldn’t do this.”

“I haven’t done anything. Did I say anything rude to her?”

Her husband’s look said he wasn’t buying it. “Stop or we’re going home.”

In the kitchen, Veronica put the salad Carol had brought into the fridge and shut the door with a little more force than was necessary.

“Don’t let her get to you Sis, everything looks great.” Matt assured her.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why does she...” Desiree wasn’t sure how to word it.

“Hate me?” Veronica finished for her. She looked at Matt. “You would know better than I.”

“Ronnie’s a threat to Mom’s place in Jon’s life.”

“She’s his mother, how can Ronnie be a threat to that?” Desiree was confused.

“She was also a driving force behind his career in the beginning, and was Jon’s sounding board on what he should do....until Ronnie came along.” Matt explained. “Ronnie knew the business and knew Jon. She could help guide him careerwise and lookout for his best interest. He didn’t need Mom anymore.”

Desiree still didn’t see the problem. “So? Your mother should have been happy about that.”

“Ah, but no one should be looking after him but her.” Veronica stated snidely. “She should always be the centre of his life. Her Golden Boy.” A sound had them turning to see Jon standing in the doorway. “Sorry, that wasn’t a dig at you.”

“I know.”

“But that was over twenty years ago, surely she’s gotten over that by now!” Desiree was still trying to understand.

Veronica shook her head. “Nope. Apparently she’s made it her mission in life to sabotage my happiness – at least where Jon is concerned.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

Jon and Veronica exchange a long look. Jon raised a brow, but let her make the decision. Veronica hesitated, then shrugged. “They’re family.” Taking a deep breath, she gave them the Reader’s Digest version of what happened with the baby and how Stephanie found out as well as Carol’s continuing attitude towards her. By the time she finished Desiree was in tears and Matt looked like he wanted to punch something.

“I knew there was something big going on! No wonder being around the kids was so difficult for you.” He turned on his older brother. “And you just walked away and let her go through that alone?”

“I know I was wrong, but you weren’t there, you don’t know what it was like!”

“I know you walked away from your pregnant girlfriend and let her go through hell alone while you were off playing rockstar!”

“I didn’t know what she went through until about six months ago!” Jon raked a hand through his hair. “It’s not your business Matt, you were told out of courtesy because your family....back off!”

“Stop it!” Veronica glared at both of them. “Just stop it! Matt, I appreciate your concern and support, but it wasn’t all Jon’s fault. I’ve told you how he was kept in the dark about the worst of it. We were young. We weren’t prepared to deal with the situation.”

“He should have been with you!”

“Yes, he should have. And he knows it. And he feels horrible that he wasn’t. But it’s all in the past. Jon and I have talked it out and dealt with it. It’s time to let it go.” Veronica reached out to squeeze Matt’s hand, trying to defuse the Bongiovi temper. “Please Matty. Let it go. There’s lots of blame to spread around, but what good would it do? It won’t change anything. It won’t bring Drew back.” She could see that he wasn’t convinced, but he was listening to her. “Today’s supposed to be a happy day, surrounded by family and friends. Please don’t spoil it.” She included Jon in her plea. “Please, for my sake, and the kids.....let it go!”

The two brothers stared at each other for several breaths, then both nodded curtly. Matt leaned down and kissed her cheek. “You know where I am if you need anything.”

“I can fucking well take care of her!” Jon scowled.

“Yeah, you’ve shown how well you do that!” Matt shot back.

“Stop it! Both of you! I have enough to deal with today without having to worry about refereeing you two!” Veronica wanted to smash their heads together. “I can take care of myself!” She took a deep breath and fought for calm. “If there’s anything I need from either one of you, I’ll let you know. And right now I need you to help me finish setting up for this party. Matt, there’s chairs stacked outside the patio door. Would you please set them out by the tables and near the pool? Jon, finish the bar and check the barbeque please. And somebody check on Jake and Romeo. Desiree, will you help me finish the veggie trays and put out the dips?”

It took a few seconds before the men gave up their aggressive stances and do as she asked. Matt glared at Jon as he brushed by him to head outside. Jon turned to follow him.

“Jon wait! There’s something I need you to do for me first.” Veronica gave in to an urge that was almost overwhelming.

“What?” There was an edge of annoyance and exasperation in his tone.

Veronica stepped up to him, wrapped her arms around his neck and clung. When his came up to hold her, she pressed closer. “Tighter.”

He squeezed, understanding that she needed the contact with him – and why. If he was honest, he needed it too.

After several long minutes absorbing his strength, Veronica sighed and leaned back enough to see his face. “Thank you. Don’t fight with your brother.”

“I didn’t start it!”

“I know you didn’t, but please don’t fight with him. Not about this. Not today.”

Seeing Jon’s frown, Desiree spoke up. “I’ll talk to Matt and get him to back off.”

“Thank you Desiree.” Veronica turned back to Jon and kissed him. “Now, will you please finish up outside?” As he left the room, she called after him. “And make sure the boys stay away from the river!” Leaning against the counter, she closed her eyes and blew out a breath.

“You okay?” Desiree asked.

Veronica nodded. “Yeah. But I have the feeling this is going to be a long fucking day.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chapter 118

Veronica walked through the door of the French chateau on the Navesink and sighed in relief. Home....well, sort of. The more she was there, the more it felt like home, even though nothing there was hers.

Behind her, Jon shut the door and let out his own sigh as he set down his bags. The kids had already dropped theirs in the foyer and had taken off for the kitchen to let Molly know they were home.

Out of the corner of her eye Veronica saw a black blur moving towards them. As she watched, it flew at Jon, who caught it reflexively.

“What the hell? Oh.” Jon sighed again, this time in resignation. “Hello Boots, it’s nice to see you too.”

Veronica grinned as the kitten rubbed her head under his chin and purred loudly. “I think she missed you.”

“Lucky me.” He responded dryly. But she noticed that he didn’t set Boots down right away and in fact, was currently scratching her behind her ears and under her chin.

“You’re not fooling anyone, you know. You’re just a big softy.” She reached over to stroke the small, furry head.

“Her purring reminds me of you...when I pet you just right.” He waggled his brows at her and pursed his lips.

Veronica chuckled, but obliged, kissing him softly. “Mmmmm.” The noise she made deep in her throat did indeed sound feline.

“Ronnie...oh, there’s Boots!” Jake ran into the foyer and skidded to a halt, his siblings following more slowly. “Molly says she’s got the stuff to make cookies.” He held up his hands for the kitten.

“And for spagetti sauce.” Jesse added.

“Okay, I get the hints.” Veronica chuckled. “But let’s get the bags upstairs first. Oh, and you should call your mother and let her know you’re back in the country safe and sound.”

“I already texted her.” Jesse assured her.

Veronica shook her head. “You’ve been away for over a week. She wants to hear your voice. Call her.”

“Yes ma’am.”

She reached out to ruffle his hair. “Brat!” Grabbing her suitcase, she headed up the stairs. She was about to turn into the room across from Jon’s that she always used when Stephanie’s voice stopped her.

“You don’t have to do that you know.”

“Do what?”

“Sleep there. You can stay in Dad’s room. I’m not a child, I know you sleep with him when we’re not around.”

Veronica didn’t know how to respond to that. “I know you’re not a child, and you may be okay with it, but I’m not sure your brothers are ready for that.” She glanced up to see Jon coming down the hallway behind Stephanie.

“Jesse will be okay, and the little ones don’t get it, but they’re comfortable enough with you now that they probably won’t really notice.”

“Why are you pushing my relationship with your dad so hard?”

“Because he loves you and I want him to be happy. And I like you. You’re not some floozy after his fame or money. You’re good for him. You get him. And you don’t put up with any of his shit.”

Veronica was amazed. “How old are you again?”

“Mom says I have an old soul.”

“And she’s too smart for her own good!” Jon added as he joined them. “Language Steph. Will you go help Romeo with his bag please?” When she’d gone he gave Veronica a considering look, debating how to word his request so as not to piss her off or make her bolt. “She’s right though. You are good for me. Whaddaya say Nica? Now that you have the kid seal of approval, will you share my room?” My home, my family, my life?

“I don’t know Jon, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that yet.”

“Well, you won’t know until you try, will you?” He held out his hand to her, palm up. “Will you try? Please?”

Veronica was a little shocked at how strong the urge was to give in to his plea – both the verbal one and the one visible in his eyes. This was the next step. This wasn’t the ‘on the road, fantasy life’ of a tour. This was real. This was ‘the kids know, tell the whole world you’re a couple’, real. But was she ready for that? It felt like her heart was battling with her head. Fear versus yearning, past versus future. Lord, she was scared! But didn’t she owe it to him....to Drew...to herself to at least try? If he was wrong, the pain would be all but unbearable, but if he was right.....she would find a happiness and joy of life that she hadn’t felt in twenty years.

Taking a deep breath, she reached out and slowly put her hand in his. “Okay. I’ll try.”

Blunt fingers closed around hers and squeezed. “Thank you.” Jon turned and tugged her into his room. “Make yourself at home. There should be plenty of room in the closet.”

She snorted. “Ya think? That damn closet is bigger than my entire bedroom in Nashville!”

Jon grinned and shrugged. “Makes it easy to find things.”

“Yeah? Then why do you wear the same clothes all the time?”

“I’m lazy.”

“Hey! Boots! Where ya going?” Jake’s voice drifted down the hallway.

The now recognizable black blur flew into the room and onto the bed.

“Hey!” Jon pointed his finger at the kitten now curled up on his pillow busy cleaning herself. “Nica was invited to share this room, you weren’t!”

Boots paused in her cleaning momentarily to look at him, then continued licking.

“I don’t think she cares if she was invited or not.” Veronica chuckled. “I don’t think she’s going to leave either.”

Jon sighed, stepped closer and slid his arms around her waist. “As long as you don’t, it doesn’t matter.” He glanced at the furball on his bed. “We’ll just have to remember to keep the door shut.”

Veronica looped her arms around his neck. “You wouldn’t really lock her out would you?”

“I can only handle one female in here.” He bent to taste her mouth. “And I choose you.”


“Guess his head doesn’t hurt if he can yell like that.” Jon noted dryly.

“Yeah.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “I’d better go soothe the savage beasts with chocolate.”

“Then you can soothe this savage beast with another kind of sugar later.”

“Horny much?”

“With you? Always.”

“Ooh, you smooth talker you!” She had to laugh.

“Just being honest sweetheart.” He raised a brow. “Did it work?”

“Ask me later.”

Cookies baked, dinner eaten, kids in bed, the adults settled into the den with a glass of wine. Veronica was half reclined against Jon, her back to his chest, her arm resting on his at her waist. Taking a sip, she let out a wistful sigh.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I love the warm days, I was just wishing it was cold tonight so that we could have a fire.”

Ah! She’s feeling romantic tonight. “I could turn up the air conditioning and light one.”

Veronica tilted her head back until she could see his face. “You’re joking, right?”

Jon shrugged. “Whatever you want sugar.”

“Okay....what do you want?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re sucking up, you must want something.”

“Jeez, I’m just trying to make you happy!” When she continued to just look at him, his lips twitched. “And maybe trying to make up a little for my behaviour on the plane.”

“Uh huh. I thought so.” One hand lifted to tangle in his hair and urge him closer as she stretched up to meet his mouth. “You’re forgiven even without the fire...just don’t do it again.”

As she settled back, he slid his hand under her t-shirt, feeling her stomach muscles contract and goose flesh rise on her skin at the scrape of his calluses. When she didn’t protest or move away from his touch, he set aside his wine glass so that both hands were free. Nuzzling her ear, he cupped a firm breast, while the other popped the button on her jeans and slid inside.

Veronica sighed again, this time in pleasure as his hands fondled, stroking her gently, arousing her slowly. For once she didn’t think about how to push him to hurry or even about pleasuring him in return, she just relaxed against him and focused on the fires his hands were lighting all over her body.

Jon grinned in satisfaction. He figured she’d be a little skittish about making love with the kids in the house, so his plan was to have the foreplay down here and get her so aroused that by the time he got her upstairs she wouldn’t care. Although the way her hips were rubbing against him as she rocked against his finger stroking her damp cleft, he might not be able to wait until they got upstairs!

“Johnny!” The teasing was all well and good, but she wanted more. She needed more.

“Time to go upstairs?”

The hope and promise in the husky voice had her struggling to pull his hands away and stand up. Once upright, she waited for him to join her. When he did, all thoughts of going upstairs faded. She threw her arms around his neck, threaded her fingers through his thick hair and kissed him for all she was worth. Her tongue plunged deep as she tasted him, her body tight to his. The feel of his erection pressing into her belly assured her that the empty, achy feeling inside her would soon be cured.

Jon ran his hands down her back, filled his hands with the firm cheeks of her ass and squeezed. With a low growl he pulled away – while he could still walk. “Upstairs.”

Veronica wanted to protest, but let him lace their fingers together and tow her upstairs behind him, shutting off lights as they went. At the top of the stairs, she frowned slightly at the sight of the children’s doors.

Jon felt her pace slow and, turning, saw the direction of her gaze. Tugging on her hand he urged her into his bedroom and locked the door before she could change her mind. He ignored the overhead light, opting instead for the lamp on the night table. Clicking it on, he sat on the side of the bed and pulled her to stand between his knees. One smooth motion had her t-shirt sliding up her torso and over her arms. By the time it hit the floor he had her bra undone and it followed the t-shirt.

A quiet sound of satisfaction rumbled in his throat as he buried his face between her breasts. Once again her fingers threaded through his hair and she held him close. Hot lips caressed her plump mounds, tongue tracing the line where creamy white became soft pink, before engulfing the taut peak.

Veronica was so overwhelmed by the sensations each pull of his mouth sent scorching through her body, she wasn’t even aware of his hands easing her jeans and panties over her hips. She had to lock her knees to keep from collapsing onto the floor when two fingers speared her. “Johnny! Oh God! I need you inside me!”

He was happy to oblige. Helping her step out of the clothes bunched at her ankles, he stood and pulled back the blankets on the bed. While she climbed in, he quickly stripped off his clothes, never taking his eyes of her.

Veronica lay back on the pillows and watched his body emerge from cotton and denim. As striptease’s went, this was as good as it got for her. Other men might be taller or more heavily muscled or shiny smooth, but Jon’s physique had always been perfect to her. He was just tall enough that her head could rest comfortably on his shoulder when they were standing, his muscles were firm and defined, and she like the way his fur felt beneath her cheek or her hands.

Jon saw her appreciative glance and smirked. “Like what you see?”

“Mmmm....I’d like it even more if it was closer.”

“That can be arranged.” He slid into the bed and into her waiting body, stroking slowly, deeply, letting their passion grow until they couldn’t hold back the tide any longer and the wave swamped them.

Rolling onto his back struggling to breathe, he was overcome with the feeling that for the first time in over two years, the house felt like home for him. His kids were asleep in their rooms down the hall, and the woman he loved was lying beside him, flushed and boneless from his lovemaking. This is how it should be.