“I don’t want to hear any more excuses Ronnie! You’re coming with us and that’s final.” Jon continued the argument that had started right after breakfast.
“Excuse me?” Icicles dripped from her voice at his command.
“Don’t get all prickly. I know that sounded like an order, and you don’t like me giving you orders, but I’m just trying to look after you when you won’t look after yourself. Just like you do for me. Now, where’s your swimsuit?” She was constantly forcing ginseng tea on him and when they had back to back shows she nagged him to limit how much he talked, even to the point of asking Richie to answer the bulk of the questions during the interviews. If it had been anyone else he would have yelled at her to stop smothering him and treating him like a child, but he knew she remembered the Slippery/New Jersey tour complete with steroid shots and what had happened to his voice and his health, so he swallowed his annoyance and let her fuss.
“Jon, I can’t! I’m not being obstinate, and I’m not being a stick in the mud. I really have too much work to do.” Veronica tried to make him understand. The phone call that she’d gotten from Vince that morning, wanting a meeting since she was in town, had made it clear to her that there was no time for play, no matter how much she wanted to go.
"Jesus! And everyone says I’m bad! Bring your fucking laptop and phone then. You can work on the beach as well as you can here.”
“Where’s your damn swimsuit?” He started rummaging through her suitcase. “You’re white as a fucking sheet, you need some sun.” His hand lifted out a box and set it aside, not noticing Veronica’s expression. The box rolled, the lid fell off, and the contents spilled out. Jon did a double take, reached out and picked it up to examine it. When he glanced at Veronica, she looked like she wanted to crawl into a hole. He crooked a brow.
Veronica groaned. “Lori put that in my suitcase without me knowing. She said that if I didn’t want to give you another chance, I was going to need it.” She stepped towards him, holding out a hand. “Here, give it to me, I’ll throw it away.”
Jon held it out of her reach. “I don’t think so. I think we’ll keep it....for some fun, later.” He read the description. “Hey, it’s got two speeds – slow burn and blastoff! Oh yeah...we’re definitely keeping this. Remind me to thank Lori when I see her again.”
She snorted, but didn’t try to take the vibrator from him. She’d just wait until he was out of the room, then hide it until she could get rid of it. “Pervert.”
“Thank you.” He went back to searching through her suitcase. “What colour am I looking for anyway? Oh, this must be it.” He held up a black one piece suit. “No bikini?” His lower lip came out in a full pout.
Her eyes rolled. “Not with me. When I use the pools at the hotels it’s to swim lengths, not get a tan. But Jon, I’m serious. I don’t have time to go to the beach today.”
Four steps brought him to her side. He slid his arms around her waist and kissed her softly. “You’re coming. I insist. I’ll carry you if I have to. Now, you can go put this on yourself, or I can put it on for you.” He held up her swimsuit. “But if I do it, we’ll be very late leaving, and then you’ll be pissy that your schedule’s been messed up.”
“Arrgh! There’s just no dealing with you today!” She grabbed the suit and headed for the bathroom. It wasn’t that she was too prudish to change in front of him – there was no point to modesty, he’d seen her all many times - but she understood what he meant by making them late and she didn’t want to risk it. She needed to get work done.
Jon watched her go, picked up the vibrator again and shoved it deep into one of his bags where he figured she wouldn’t find it, and put the empty box back in hers. Despite how it seemed sometimes – and what she thought sometimes – he did know her and how her mind worked pretty well. It was whether or no he used that knowledge that could be a bone of contention. In the instance, it suited his purpose to use it.
At the label’s office, Veronica got the guys set up with one of her colleagues to record the radio spots and left them to it while she went down to meet with Vince.
When the guys finished they found her at the front desk discussing the tour itinerary with the receptionist. At the sound of their approach she turned. “All done? Everything go okay?”
“Yeah. Bob said to let him know where you want them sent and when.” Jon studied her face, a frown creasing his forehead at the lines of tension around her eyes and mouth. “Everything okay?”
“Yep. Everything’s fine.”
Jon didn’t buy it. Her smile was her professional one that didn’t quite warm her eyes. And the shadows in those beautiful eyes confirmed his opinion. Something was going on.
“So we’re ready to hit the beach then?” Richie looked hopeful.
“You guys are free for the rest of the day and tomorrow.” Veronica confirmed, then took a deep breath, knowing what Jon’s reaction was going to be to her next statement. “You go ahead, and have fun. I’ll take a cab back to your place when I’m finished here.”
“You’re finished here now, Ronnie.” Jon’s frown deepened. “We talked about this, this morning. I guess we’re going to have to do this the hard way.”
As he stepped towards her, she backed away, her hands lifting to hold him off. “Jon no! Don’t you dare!”
Instead of picking her up, like he’d threatened, he reached for her laptop bag, and slung it over his shoulder. Turning towards the door, he caught Richie’s eye and jerked his thumb in her direction. “Igor! Bring her.”
“Yes Master.” Richie bowed to Jon. Before Veronica could evade him, long arms reached out to grab her.
Very quickly, she found herself hanging over his shoulder, staring at his ass. “Jughead put me down!”
“Master says you come, so you come.”
Tico smiled at the obviously startled receptionist. “If Vince wants to know where she is tell him we kidnapped her. She can be reached by phone if you need her.”
The receptionist nodded absently and fought not to laugh out loud at Richie’s antics. He even limped as he walked towards the door! “Have fun.”Although from what she was seeing she figured that wasn’t going to be a problem. Originally a small town girl, she’d come to L.A. three years ago, and to say she had some culture shock, would be putting it mildly. At this point though, nothing surprised her, not even rock stars acting like Quasimodo and carrying out women over their shoulder!
At the beach Richie chose, Veronica gave up arguing and set down her laptop on the blanket Jon spread out for her. While she was removing the shorts and shirt she’d put on over her swimsuit, she looked curiously at the bag Jon set down nearby before taking off his own shirt.
“Supplies.” He answered the question he saw in her eyes. “Towels and stuff.” His eyes darkened and he was glad for the loose fit of his board shorts as his gaze roamed over her. Any thought that the dark one-piece wouldn’t do her justice faded in seconds. The suit was cut high on her hips and low in the top and the black made her skin glow like the finest pearls. Rummaging through the bag, he handed her the sunblock.
Veronica smoothed the lotion over her arms, legs and face before handing the bottle back to Jon and turning her back to him. Without having to be asked, he brushed her hair aside, poured lotion into his hands and ran them over her exposed skin, taking his time and making sure he didn’t miss even a tiny spot.
When she turned around she found the other three with their backs to her waiting their turn. At her raised brow David shrugged.
“Why should we do each other’s backs when we can have a beautiful woman run her hands over us?”
“I’ll make sure I tell Lexi that.” Jon growled. “I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to hear that you’re looking for beautiful women to run their hands over your body.”
“Better than me asking a man to do it.”
“Relax Kidd, no one’s trying to poach your woman.” Tico assured him.
Jon just grunted and laid down.
Veronica shook her head at all of them and continued applying lotion. “What are you guys? Fifteen?” She looked down at Jon. “And since when are you so possessive?” He’d never been the jealous type before – at least not like this. If another guy bothered her or tried to put the moves on her he’d step in – if she signalled she needed help, but he’d never jumped at a teasing comment before, especially coming from one of the ‘family’.
“Since I found out that you need to keep a close eye on the things you care about or you lose them. I lost you once, I won’t let that happen again.”
Veronica blinked away sudden tears. Her hands, currently on Tico’s shoulders, trembled. He turned his head and winked at her.
The other guys were not so sentimental, or sensitive. “Awwwwwww.”
Jon gave them the finger and ignored them.
A little while later, Veronica was going through her e-mails. “Jon, why is your assistant sending me info on events you’ve agreed to attend for the Soul and the charities you’re involved with?”
“Because you’re in charge of my schedule.”
“But these are for after the tour.”
He shrugged. “So? Tour or not, you’re still in charge of my schedule.”
She wasn’t sure how to respond to that.