The next day, Veronica sank into a seat on the plane, leaned her head back and closed her eyes. It was going to be a long day. The record company wanted a report on how well promotions were going including album and ticket sales and media reviews, divided by region and even down to individual states, Dubai was really picking up with interview and information requests coming in daily and she had to find room for them in the band’s already busy schedule....and she hadn’t slept well the night before. Damn you Jon!
It wasn’t that he’d tried to worm his way into her room, or lure her into his after the show – he hadn’t. She’d been prepared for that. Instead, he’d waited until she’d opened her door, then dropped a quick kiss on her lips and bid her goodnight. She didn’t know what to make of that. Deep into the night – or rather early morning – she’d laid in bed staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out what to do. He seemed so sure that they could make it this time. A part of her wanted almost desperately to believe him, but her saner side reminded her that there were just too many obstacles. Now if only she could make him see that! That wasn’t going to be easy. He was an extremely stubborn man with lethal charm when he chose to use it. She didn’t want to admit it, but he was getting to her.
Further back, and on the other side of the plane, Jon watched Veronica and planned his next move. He knew he had to be careful. If he pushed too hard he’d just piss her off and drive her further away. Her instinctive reactions were in his favour, but as soon as she had time to think she pulled away. She knew his moves, could anticipate them and organize her defences accordingly. He needed to mix it up and keep her off balance. That’s why last night he’d only kissed her briefly and said goodnight. He knew she was expecting more and backing off would confuse her. Hopefully it would also make her think about what he’d said.
Veronica sighed and braced herself when she felt him take the seat beside her. “What do you want Jon?”
He chuckled. “How did you know it was me? You didn’t even open your eyes.”
Your scent, your heat, the rhythm of your breathing. My God! Do I really know him that well? “You’re the only one who would bother me.”
“I haven’t done anything! I’m just sitting here!” He tried to sound offended, but didn’t quite pull it off.
“Mmmhmmm, and why are you sitting there?” She still didn’t open her eyes.
“Enjoying the view.” And he was. She was wearing a sweatshirt today instead of a fuzzy sweater, but that just made her look cuddly. And the woman filled out a pair of jeans in all the right places!
Veronica cracked open an eye to look out the window. All she could see were clouds. Glancing at him, she saw giving her the once over. She snorted, and closed her eye again. She had too much work to do to deal with him right now. It was best to just ignore him. With a heavy sigh she sat up and opened her laptop. While she waited for it to boot up she looked over the requests from Dubai that she’d printed off earlier. As comfortable as she was with computers and technology, she sometimes found it easier to organize things with the paper version.
“What are those?” He leaned closer and tried to read over her shoulder.
“Interview requests from Dubai.” A few clicks of the keys brought up his schedule. “I’m trying to figure out where to fit them in.”
He watched as she scrolled through the pages of the next few days and grimaced. “That’s ugly.”
She grinned. “I know. Now you see my problem.”
“Looks more like my problem.”
Veronica lifted a hand and patted his cheek. “Poor baby’ll have to suck it up. You’ll survive.”
He caught her hand and pressed a kiss into her palm. “And will I get a prize for being a good boy and doing all this?”
“Uh huh. Platinum record, successful tour, and money.”
Jon pouted. “Is that all? You used to be more fun. Now you’re all work.”
She looked at him in disbelief. “So says the workaholic that can’t sit still for more than a few minutes.”
He looked deep into her eyes, totally serious, all joking set aside. “I’ve been rethinking that lately. You miss out on too much with the people who matter the most to you when all you focus on is work. I don’t want to miss any more.”
Veronica searched his eyes, but could only see sincerity. She nodded. “Good.” Turning back to her computer she sighed and slowly scrolled through the next week’s schedule again looking for holes.
Jon reached out and pointed to the morning in Fargo, the last day before the Easter break. “Why don’t we move those ones to the hotel and add the ones for Dubai there?”
“You sure you want to do that? It’ll mean starting a couple hours or so earlier.”
“Yeah, but we won’t have to leave the hotel, so it won’t be so bad.”
Fingers flew as she typed and scrolled. “I can move these two until we hit Des Moines, so that’ll help.” She bit her lip against a smile. “Richie’s going to be pissed.” One more click sent the new schedule to the appropriate people. As pings sounded around the cabin she looked at Jon and waited.
It didn’t take long.
“Awwww man! I thought you liked me little girl?”
“Suck it up Jughead. It won’t kill you. If you promise not to whine I’ll bring you more cookies in Denver.”
Richie sighed. “Bribery will get ya...”
“Exactly what I want.” Veronica laughed. “Especially if it involves food when it comes to you.”
Mumbles and grumbles were the only answer.
Jon chuckled and winked at her. “Anything else I can help you with?”
“How are you at analyzing media reviews and sales data and determining promotion success?”
His eyes glazed at the thought. “Sorry sugar. I wouldn’t even know where to start with that. That’s why I have you.”
“Yeah. That’s what I thought.” She fired off an e-mail to Matt and her contact at TicketMaster requesting ticket sales information.
A few minutes later Matt called from a few rows behind her. “Hey Ronnie? Do you want totals or by show?”
“By show please Matty.”
Burying herself in her laptop, Veronica barely noticed Jon get up. She tried to ignore when he sat back down again as well, but his cologne...and the cup of coffee he set in front of her, wouldn’t let her.
“Thanks.” She reached for the mug, took a sip without looking in the cup and grimaced. “This is yours.”
He looked into his own mug and saw light brown instead of black. “Oops sorry.”
Switching their cups he settled back into the seat and opened the book he’d brought with him. Veronica slanted him a questioning look. He raised a brow. “What? It’s my plane I can sit where I want.”
Veronica knew better than to argue with him. Focus on work. Ignore him. Like most problems, she knew that wouldn’t make him go away, but it made her feel better to delude herself for a few minutes.
At the hotel they settled into their rooms and Veronica got back to work. It was an off day for the guys, but she couldn’t afford to take the day off. Her concentration was so deep she didn’t even realize the passing of time until a knock at the connecting door broke it.
She sighed and rubbed her eyes, but didn’t get up. “What do you want Jon?”
“For you to open the door. Dinner’s here.”
Surprised, she glanced at her watch and was shocked to find it almost seven o’clock. Her jaw cracked with the strength of a yawn and she stood and stretched. Jon knocked again. “Keep your pants on, I’m coming!”
He barely let her step out of the way before he pushed the cart in. “Steak or pasta?”
“Either. I can find my own meals you know.”
“Yeah, but when you’re in work mode you don’t. You tend to lose track of time.”
“So you’ve appointed yourself my caretaker?”
“I don’t like to eat alone and you need to eat, so....” He shrugged.
She was too tired to argue.
While they ate he made small talk, gratified to see her relax. As much as he wanted to, he didn’t push anything. Don’t be predictable. Keep her off balance. When they’d finished he packed up the cart and returned to his room, leaving the door slightly ajar. Stretching out on the bed he piled the pillows behind his back and picked up the remote. For the next several hours he surfed channels and answered e-mails, but kept part of his attention on the clicking coming from room next door.
Veronica watched him walk out of her room, a frown creasing her forehead. He just left? Without me having to push him out? Without trying....anything? What is he up to? Does he have some plan or has he decided that I’m right and he’s giving up? But then why the friendly stuff? She stared at the door for several minutes before shaking her head and forcing her attention back to her computer.
Several hours later she was still at it. It was going well and she wanted to get the report finished, but she was fading fast. When the words blurred she rubbed her eyes, crossed her arms on the table and laid her head on them. I’ll just close my eyes for a few minutes to rest them, then I’ll finish it.
Jon realized that the clicking of computer keys had stopped, but a glance revealed that her light was still on and he couldn’t hear her moving around. He waited another fifteen minutes, but still didn’t hear anything. I bet she’s fallen asleep. Rolling off the bed he peeked through the door to see her slumped over the table. Poor thing’s exhausted. She works too hard. He snorted at his own thoughts. One of the reasons he was keeping an eye on her was because he felt responsible for her having to work so hard the last few weeks. He could kick himself for not thinking about what had to be done with the Dubai show. He hoped – for her sake even more than his – that the show was a success. Moving quietly, he turned back her bed and lifted her into his arms.
“Mmmmm?” She frowned and murmured grumpily.
“Sssh sugar, I’m just putting you to bed.”
“You are for tonight. You can finish tomorrow. You need sleep.” He laid her gently on the cool sheets and frowned. Do I or don’t I? Fuck it! If she’s pissed, she’s pissed. She can’t sleep in those clothes. He quickly undressed her, surprised that the grumbles that earned him seemed to be more that he wouldn’t leave her alone and let her sleep. Pulling up the blankets he smoothed her hair back from her face and pressed his lips briefly to hers. “Nite Nica.”