“FUCKING LITTLE ASSHOLE PRICKS! I’ll show them a fucking bomb!” Jon threw a brush against the wall. They’d just been allowed back into the venue after a bomb threat had caused security to evacuate everyone until they could search the building and make sure it was safe.
“Calm down Jon, you’re going to blow a blood vessel.” Veronica set down her laptop bag and moved to his wardrobe and flicked through the shirts.
“Well the fuckers piss me off!” He plunked down in a chair and scowled into the mirror.
“I know, and I wish they’d catch the bastards and string them up. But look at the upside. It was a false alarm, no one was hurt, and the show will go on.” Setting aside two shirts, she walked up behind him and massaged his temples. “Don’t think about it. Think about that great restaurant Tico took us to and that wonderful Cuban meal. Think about the warmth of the Florida sunshine and the sound of the waves hitting the beach below our table.”
With a heavy sigh Jon closed his eyes, leaned back against her and let her soothing fingers and voice and the images she described calm him.
A knock on the door a few minutes later disturbed the peace in the room. At Jon’s call, Richie entered warily.
“Hey man. Guess the idiots bombed alright.” He watched Jon carefully.
Jon snorted. “Yeah, they’re geniuses. Fuckers.”
Richie’s brows rose at Jon’s calm reaction. They all knew his temper and that this would normally send him into the stratosphere. He glanced at Veronica. “You pull the thorn again?” A glance at Jon told him that wasn’t the case. “He’s still conscious, so that can’t be it. What did you do to bring him down off the ceiling?”
“Just talked.” Veronica smiled and picked up her laptop. “I’ve got a few phone calls to make. Jon, I’ve laid out some clothes for you.”
When the door closed behind her, Jon gazed thoughtfully after her. Richie watched Jon.
“How are things going on that front?” Richie gestured towards the door.
“Progressing. Slow, but in the right direction.” He hesitated, rubbing his hand on his jean covered thigh. “You ever try Viagra?”
Richie stared at him. “You looking for help or fun?”
“Fuck you asshole. For fun. Nica’s curious.”
“No, but I know guys who have. They said it was quite a ride.” He grinned remembering a snippet of conversation in Nashville. “You probably don’t want to try it the same night you want to play with Ronnie’s.... ‘toy’. You might kill her. Oh, and pick a night when we’re off the next day. From what I’ve heard you’ll need the time to recuperate.”
Veronica sat down at her desk and turned on her laptop. While it was booting, she leaned back in the chair and thought about Jon and their relationship. Waking up the morning after the Nashville show to find him in her kitchen making breakfast had felt so comfortable and so....right...she felt a pang of yearning to make it regular occurrence.
She sighed. He was slowly, but surely chipping away at her defences, so much so that she couldn’t deny it any longer. He’d gotten under her skin, and her emotions were involved. So much for keeping it only physical Veronica! The way she saw it, she was left with two options – either end it now and walk away before she got in any deeper, or go all in and hope they could make it work this time. Something told her than Jon wouldn’t let her just walk away – at least not easily, but going the other route meant finding a way to deal with his kids and she still wasn’t sure she could do that.
She feared that neither path was going to be pain free.
“Ronnie, we took a vote and decided that you have to tour with us all the time.” David announced as he walked into the room followed by Tico and Richie.
“What are you talking about Joker?”
“You sticking around. When you’re around Jon’s actually bearable.”
“No he’s not. Just look at today.” Richie reminded her. “Normally, he’d be exploding worse than any bomb. We all saw the temper building, but a few minutes later I walk into his dressing room to find him all relaxed and even laughing at my jokes. How did you do that anyway?”
Veronica shrugged. “I just got him thinking about something else. It was no big deal.”
“Actually, they’ve got a point.” Paul spoke up from across the room. “I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but you have a calming effect on Jon. Plus, you stand up to him and let him know when he’s being.....unnecessarily difficult.....and he listens to you. He’ll only let me go so far, but there’s no limit with you.” He nodded, as much to himself as to them. “Yep, I’ll add my vote to Davey’s. Life is much easier with you around.”
Veronica just shook her head. “You’re all nuts. Look, I’ve got work to do and you’ve got a show to get ready for, so shoo.”
“Think about Ronnie, you’ll see that we’re right.” Was David’s parting comment.
Veronica stared after them. Were they right? Come on Veronica, you know deep down they may be exaggerating a bit, but at the root of it, they’re right. You’ve always been able to make him listen, even if it meant getting in his face and cramming it down his throat. But that doesn’t make you special. You can’t be the only one who can do that.
The next afternoon found her in Tico’s studio. He’d been showing her around when Alejandra had come in to tell him he was wanted on the phone. She didn’t notice the look that passed between husband and wife.
The two women wandered around discussing the various paintings and exclaiming over Tico’s talent. Alejandra looked at the woman beside her. “He loves you, you know.”
Veronica smiled. “Yeah, he’s always been like a big brother to me. I love him too.”
“I’m not talking about Tico, I mean Jon. I can see it in the way he looks at you, the way he talks to you.” She studied Veronica’s expression. “That scares you. Why?”
“My experience with love and Jon didn’t have a happy ending the last time.”
“Mmm, Tico told me what happened. I can only imagine how horrible that was for you. But.....maybe you haven’t had your ending yet.”
Veronica just smiled and shrugged. “Maybe.”
Alejandra turned back to study the painting in front of them. “When I first met Dorothea I had already gotten to know Jon a little. Like most people I had an idea of what I thought his wife would be like. I wasn’t even close. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good woman and a wonderful mother and was a stabilizing influence for Jon when he needed it. But to me she wasn’t the right match for him. She never really understood the pull music has on him. It was just a job that took him away a lot. Now he realizes how much he missed and how lonely the road is – how lonely life is when your partner doesn’t share the same interests to the same degree, or at least close - and he wants someone who gets it and will travel with him. That’s where you come in. If you combined all the traits he’s looking for – and needs - in a woman, and searched the whole world, there wouldn’t be any one who fills the bill better than you. And he needs passion! He’s Italian. They’re very emotional people.” She smiled wryly. “Trust me, I know the type. With Dorothea there was constancy and affection – even a sort of love – but there was no....sparks, no....fireworks! Tico tells me that’s not a problem with you.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I know you probably think that I have no right to say anything – we don’t know each other, although Tico has told me so much about you that I almost feel like I do. But Tico cares very deeply about you and he wants you to be happy, and I trust his judgement. He’s concerned about you – and Jon –and he thought maybe I could help.” She paused. “I spent many years dating many men looking for the one who not only made me feel cherished and protected, but made me feel...alive. I had given up hope and was resigned to spending my life alone when I met Tico. He can make me laugh and he can make me cry. He makes me want to scream – sometimes in exasperation and frustration, sometimes in pleasure. He makes me feel angry and he makes me feel loved. The key part of all of it is that he makes me feel! He makes life unpredictable, and exciting and scary and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s like they said in that Steve Martin movie...I’d rather live the roller coaster than the merry-go-round. It’s more exciting and never dull. From what Tico’s told me, you don’t strike me as the placid, merry-go-round type either. It’s boring for people like us and boredom is the surest way to kill a relationship.”
Veronica sighed. Here was yet another person pushing her. “We’ve got a lot of baggage. We’re not the same people we were twenty years ago.”
“Of course you’re not. You’re more mature, more aware of what’s really important in life, and more capable of dealing with the downs as well as the ups.” Alejandra gave her a considering look. “What good is being successful if you don’t have anyone to share it with? Being independent is all well and good, but who will be there to celebrate with you or comfort you when you’re sad?”
“I have friends.”
“Mmmhmm...but is it the same? When they hold you while you cry, does it feel the same?”
Veronica suppressed a growl of exasperation. “Why is everyone pushing me so hard? Jon, Richie, my friends, now you....why are you all so sure that we’ll find a ‘happily ever after’?”
“Because we’re more objective than you right now. We can see both of you for who you are and how you are together without being blinded by the pain of past experiences.” They were silent for several minutes, then Alejandra spoke again. “Life’s too short to not grab at whatever chance we have at happiness. But it’s your life. Only you can decide if you want to take another chance on Jon. But Ronnie.....don’t string him along for too long, it’s not fair to him. What do the gamblers say? Either go all in or fold and walk away from the table.”
“There’s more involved here than just the two of us and our feelings.”
“Yes, and I understand that being around his kids is difficult for you. But they way I understand it, you haven’t given them – or yourself - much of a chance. You’re being given a second chance at a family, if you’re brave enough to take it.” She walked towards the door and paused. “Think about it Ronnie. You may not get another one.”
Veronica stared at the closed door long after Alejandra had left.