Jon’s frustration was nearing boiling point. The only thing that kept him from exploding was his concern. His frustration stemmed from the feeling that Veronica still had walls up against him. She let him in, but only so far, not all the way. The emotional intimacy just wasn’t there. There were flashes of it, so he knew it could be, but every time they got close, she’d pull back. Granted, there really wasn’t the opportunity for the ‘how was your day’ conversations since they spent most of their time together, and she didn’t want any PDAs in front of outsiders, but where were the little touches and gestures that indicated shared feelings? They may not be hormonal teenagers anymore, but that didn’t mean that they couldn’t hug and kiss and cuddle from time to time did it? He’d give a great deal to just hear an endearment on her lips.
Even in their hotel room, when his work was done for the day, and his phone finally stopped ringing, and all he wanted to do was veg in front of the T.V. for awhile, he had a hard time getting her to relax with him. When she did sit with him, her laptop would come with her as she was always doing research on one thing or another, but at least she didn’t pull away when he put his arm around her and nuzzled her ear or kissed her neck. In fact, more than just accepting his gentle caresses, she would, after only a few minutes, return them, quickly ramping up his desire and her own and they’d end up in bed.
A frown creased his forehead. That was another thing. While the sex was...intense and extremely satisfying, he found himself yearning for slower, gentler lovemaking as well. Any time he tried to slow things down, she’d touch him or kiss him or murmur what she wanted him to do to her – or her to him - to break through his control. And she knew just how to do it. She knew all his weaknesses. The only time she cuddled against him of her own accord was in bed when their passion was spent and they were too exhausted to do anything more than sleep.
He snorted at his own thoughts. He was acting like a lovesick.....woman! Next he’d be complaining that they didn’t talk enough about their feelings! The truth was they didn’t talk about their feelings – for each other – at all. And that was where his concern came in. They talked about the shows and her promotion plans and what she needed from him and the guys, what was working and what wasn’t, but not about what was important for them as individuals, or them as a couple. Something was going on with her job. The tension he could sense in her after one of Vince’s phone calls convinced him of that, but she wouldn’t talk to him about it. She just said everything was fine.
They also didn’t talk about plans for after the tour.....or the issues with his family. The issues weren’t with all of his family. She got along quite well with his brothers. From the first day in Newark, Veronica and Matt fell right back into the teasing, older sister/younger brother relationship that they’d had twenty years ago. And when Tony stopped by in L.A., he and Veronica greeted each other like the old friends that they were, spent some time catching up on each other’s lives, then Veronica discussed video ideas that she had for him to produce. By the time Tony left he was calling her ‘sis’ like Matt did and promised to talk to Obie about the projects they’d agreed upon. No, the family issues were with his kids...and his mother. The one that concerned him the most – the only one that he was determined to fix - was the one with his kids. He needed Veronica to be comfortable around them, even better if she could become friends with them. He didn’t care if she ever became friends with his mother, and in fact, would understand if she didn’t want anything to do with her. His mother had so far been quiet and followed his wishes, but he knew that wouldn’t last forever. She wouldn’t give up that easily. If he managed to keep Veronica in his life, a confrontation would be inevitable, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. He had confidence that Veronica could hold her own against his mother, but it would upset her and the Bongiovi’s had caused her enough pain.
His kids were never too far from his thoughts and he once again racked his brain for ideas to get Veronica to spend some time with them. He was truly convinced that time and proximity were all that were needed to overcome her discomfort. Now he just had to convince her of that. Every time he tried to get her to go home with him she said she was too busy. Since she was working so hard for him, he couldn’t really complain, but he didn’t want to wait until after the tour to see if he was right.
They had a couple days off before the show in Nashville, and Jon decided to try again. “Nica, come to Jersey with me for a couple days. Please?”
She didn’t even look up from packing her suitcase. They’d been over this several times in the last week. “I told you I can’t....”
“Dammit Ronnie, I’m not asking for much.”
No, just for me to open myself up to more pain. But that wasn’t why she wouldn’t go. And she didn’t want to fight with him about this again. She turned to face him. “Jon, I’m not saying no just to be obstinate or to avoid your kids. Nashville is my show! It has to be a success. Not just a success, but a big one! If it isn’t it’s on me! I need every bit of those days to work my contacts and do what I can to make sure they come out and give you a fair review.” Her eyes pleaded with him to understand.
He did. “Okay, okay. I get it.” He sighed and thought for a moment. “Then I’ll come to Nashville with you.”
“I thought you were going to see your kids.” Her eyes narrowed.
“I was, but I can come with you and help. Maybe give some special interviews or something.”
Amethyst eyes flashed. “NO! Jon, don’t you dare!”
Blue eyes widened in surprise at her tone. “What? I just want to help you.”
“Don’t you ever put me before your kids! EVER! They need to be your first priority Jon, not me.”
“Yes ma’am, I hear you, loud and clear.” He smiled a little sadly. She would have been a good mother.
“So how are things going?” Lori asked after the waitress served their drinks and left.
Veronica sighed and took a sip before answering. “Okay, I guess.”
“What’s the problem?” Naomi heard the hesitation in her friend’s voice.
The girls had gathered at their favourite restaurant for dinner and to get caught up. Veronica had slept in, but spent the afternoon making the rounds, touching base with her media contacts.....and answering Vince’s questions.
“Vince is being a pain in the ass. He’s calling every few days to see how things are going.”
Tricia frowned. “What’s up with him?”
“He’s not happy that I’ve let Jon’s staff take over sitting in on the interviews while I’m working on Dubai. He keeps asking me if I need some help, and you know what that means.”
The three other girls nodded. Lori grimaced. “Uh huh, if you can’t do the job, he’ll find someone who can.”
“What crawled up his ass?” Naomi wondered. “He’s not usually like that. He was always one of your biggest fans.”
“I think it’s a couple of things. When he complied with Jon’s request to send me on the road with them, he didn’t know about Dubai. No rock band has ever played the Middle East. It’s a big coup for the label and I think Keith’s pissed that I got the gig and not him.”
“Aaah.” They’d heard about Keith. He was a colleague of Veronica’s on the rock side and had his nose so far up Vince’s ass that he knew a fart was coming before Vince did. And Vince liked it.
“So, his pet’s pissed and they’re watching for any signs that you can’t do the job, waiting for you to fail so that they can say that Keith should have done it.” Tricia summarized.
“Yep. At least, that’s what I think.” Veronica agreed.
“What does Jon say?” Lori asked.
Veronica hesitated. “I haven’t told him.”
“Why not? I thought you two were together.”
“We are, but if I tell him, he’ll want to call Vince and ‘fix it’. This is professional, not personal, and I can’t have my boyfriend calling my boss to complain about how I’m being treated. I need to deal with this myself. Dubai’s in a month, and it should get better after that.”
The other three nodded in agreement. They understood how hard she’d worked to get where she was and that she’d want to do it on her own.
“How are things with Jon on the personal front?” Naomi waggled her brows.
Veronica smiled. “Fine.”
“Are you talking about the future?”
Veronica hesitated. “Not really.” She saw them exchange a look. “Oh, he wants to. He even has his assistant sending me info on the Soul and his charity events and told me that tour or no, I was in charge of his schedule.”
“Well that certainly sounds like he’s thinking long term. So....you aren’t?” Tricia studied her friend’s face. “Or are you still being a coward?”
“She’s still being a coward.” Lori answered.
“No I’m not!”
“Oh no? So...you’ve let him into your heart then, and not just your bed? You’ve made plans to spend some time with his kids and try to accept them?”
“Then you’re still being a coward.” Lori interrupted.
“No, I’m not!” Veronica insisted. “What you’re talking about is very difficult for me. It’s going to take some time, and I’ve been too busy to even think about it. Just let me get Dubai over with, then I can start to think about how to approach his kids.”
Lori wouldn’t let her off the hook. “And after Dubai it will be ‘wait until after the tour’, and then it will be something else.”
Veronica was torn between anger and tears. “Why are you pressuring me? It has to be when I’m ready, or it will never work!”
“True, but that doesn’t mean that you just sit back and wait until you magically feel ready. You have to try Veronica! And I’m pressuring you because I love you and I want you to be happy.”
When Veronica just sat silent, a stubborn, mutinous expression on her face, Naomi leaned over to squeeze her hand. “You know, better than most, that life is what you make of it. You can’t just sit by and hope happiness comes your way or that you will just one day miraculously feel ready to let those kids be a part of your life. You have to work at it. You have to at least try, and I don’t think you’ve done that.”
Veronica sighed. “You sound like Jon.”
“Sorry honey, but we’re on his side on this one. And remember, what you do or don’t do affects him too. How long are you going to punish him for the past?”