When Jon arrived downstairs, he found Richie in the kitchen. “Hey man.”
“Hey. Do you want eggs or waffles?”
“Homemade waffles or Eggo’s?”
“Homemade. I’ve got syrup or strawberry sauce.”
“I’ll go for the waffles...and strawberries.” Jon poured himself a cup of coffee. “Where’s everyone else?”
“Teek and Lemma haven’t come down yet and Ronnie’s out by the pool.” Richie glanced at his friend. “I’m surprised to see you two. I figured you’d be....sleeping in...this morning.”
Jon grimaced. “So did I.”
“Romeo called. Kind of spoiled the mood.”
Richie winced and turned back to his cooking, letting the subject die.
After breakfast...or rather brunch, Jon wandered outside and stood watching Veronica where she sat in a lounge chair, laptop open on her thighs, coffee mug on the table beside her. She was staring off into the distance, deep in thought. The tense line of her shoulders made him frown. While he watched she sighed and returned her attention to the computer screen.
He sat on the chair beside her and studied her profile. “Have you eaten?”
Jon sighed at her one word answer and the tone that didn’t invite conversation. “You’re still mad.”
“I’m not mad.” Veronica didn’t look up.
“Come on Ronnie, I just want...”
“I know what you want Jon,” she interrupted him. “I just can’t give it to you right now.” Her hands lifted from the keyboard and clenched. “To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to.”
“You don’t know that! You’ve only been around them for a few days. That’s not long enough to know. You haven’t even really tried! You promised you’d try Ronnie ! I get that it’s hard for you, but the more you’re around them the easier it will be. If you’d just spend some time with them I know you’d see that I’m right.”
Veronica set aside her laptop and stood up in a rush. “Dammit Jon! Will you back the fuck off! I don’t need you on my case too!” Swiping up her mug she stormed inside.
Jon watched her go, stunned at her outburst. “Too?” He followed her, catching up with her in the kitchen where she was pouring herself a fresh cup of coffee. He didn’t even notice Richie standing nearby. “Too? Who else is pressuring you? Someone on my staff? Is it Vince? Is he hassling you about Dubai? Do you want me to talk to him?”
“No!” She waved her hand. That was the last thing she needed! “I can deal with Vince. What I can’t deal with is the two of you at the same time.” She sighed. “I know I promised you that I would try, and I will. Just...not right today.”
“Jon stop it!” It was an effort to bring her temper under control. She didn’t completely succeed. “Look, I know that you’re used to getting what you want, when you want it, but this me Jon, not one of your staff. Professionally, I will do my best to get you what you need. Personally....I won’t jump just because you say so! I will try....but it’s got be on my schedule, when feel ready. And right now I’ve got too much else going on to be able to cope with getting to know your kids and the feelings that evokes for me! If you can’t accept that, then maybe we better end this right now.”
Once again she stomped away. Finally realizing that Richie was in the room Jon noticed the smirk on the guitarist’s face. “What?”
Richie shook his head. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You’re a masochist. A world full of obliging, easy going women that would fight for the opportunity to give you whatever you want, and you keep going for the ones who aren’t impressed with your fame or fortune and don’t swoon and fall in with your plans at a flash of those baby blues or that smile or a shake of your ass.”
Jon shrugged. “Anything worth having is worth working for.”
“Oh, I agree, I just find it fascinating that you put yourself through that, especially considering the instant compliance that you demand from the other staff members.”
“She’s not a staff member. She’s my girlfriend that happens to be helping us with promotions this tour. I don’t want the woman sharing my life to feel like she has to agree with me all the time. Where’s the challenge in that? I’d prefer that she have her own thoughts and opinions. Disagreements get the blood flowing...keeps things from getting boring.”
Richie snorted. “Well, with you and Ronnie I don’t think there’s any danger of boredom ever being a problem.”
Jon just grinned. “I know. That’s just one of the reasons why I love her.”
Richie watched him follow his love out the door and wondered if Jon even realized what he’d said.....and hoped that he didn’t share his feelings with Ronnie just yet. He didn’t think she was ready to hear that.
Jon retraced his steps to the patio. He could hear Veronica’s voice before he could see her. She was on the phone. From what he could gather from her side of the conversation it had something to do with sales numbers. He didn’t want to disturb her when she was working, but he needed to assure her that he had no intention of ending their relationship – he wasn’t about to let her get away that easily. Walking up beside her, he smoothed a hand over her hair and let it rest on her shoulder while he bent and kissed her neck. “I’m sorry.”
Veronica heard his low murmur and reached up with her free hand to squeeze his in acknowledgement.
A little while later the other men came out to join them. Tico and David arrived first and settled into chairs. After greeting Veronica, they talked quietly with Jon, leaving her to her work.
“Hey boss? Can we go to the beach tomorrow?” Richie asked as he joined them.
Jon shrugged. “I don’t care what you do.”
Richie smirked. “Sorry, I guess I should have been clearer. Hey boss lady, can we go to the beach tomorrow?”
Jon snorted. Veronica’s lips twitched and she gave Richie a considering glance. “Well, I need you guys to record some radio spots for the last week of this leg as well as Dubai and Europe. It should only take a couple hours. We could go in this afternoon and do them or tomorrow sometime or the next day. The rest of the time is yours. It’s up to you when you want to do them.”
After much discussion, it was decided that they would do the spots the next morning, and head for the beach afterwards. Then they would still have another day to relax before the next show.
“Okay, I’ll be back in a bit. Gotta go pick up Ava.” Richie stood up. “Rosa’s in the kitchen or just help yourself.”
That night after dinner, they were all sitting in the living room watching T.V. Ava and Veronica were sitting side by side on the couch, their heads close together, each with an ear bud, as they compared iPods and favourite songs.
“Doesn’t look like she has a problem with pre-teen girls.” Richie murmured as they watched the two girls smiling and laughing together.
“No it’s just young, blonde haired, blue eyed boys that bother her.” Jon replied, the frustration clear in his voice.
“Daddy, Ronnie’s even got your solo stuff on hers!”
“Does she have mine?” Jon asked, sure he knew the answer.
Ava scrolled through the playlist. “Nope. Sorry Uncle Jon.”
Jon turned his gaze on Veronica and crooked a brow.
She shrugged. “I haven’t exactly had a lot of free time to go surfing around iTunes, you know. I focused on the band’s catalogue first.”
“But you managed to find time to download Sambora’s.”
“I’ve always like Richie’s voice, you know that. I wanted to see what he’d created.”
“Another voice you like better than mine? First Tico, now Richie.”
“Are you pouting?” She laughed, then looked closer at him. “Are you jealous?” A chagrined expression crossed his face. “Seriously? Come on Jon, you know I love your voice. My God! How many times did I beg you to sing me for me?”
“That was twenty years ago. Last night you wanted Tico to sing you to sleep.”
Veronica exchanged a glance with Ava, who rolled her eyes. “Tell you what Jon, tonight you can sing me to sleep.”
He sniffed theatrically. “Maybe. If you ask me nicely.”
Veronica caught his eye and winked. She knew what he meant by ‘nicely’. “I think I can do that.”