“He loves you, you know.”
Veronica sighed but didn’t look away from the blanket of clouds that was her view out the window of the plane, even when he sat down beside her. “I know.”
“He’s doing everything he can think of to make up for not being with you in Dubai.”
“He defended you to those pricks you dated, even to the point of saying a few things that could cause some issues if it shows up in the media.”
“He put you ahead of his career.”
“He’s never done that for anyone, even Dorothea.”
“Richie, I know!” She shot him an exasperated look, then turned back to the window. “I know.”
He studied her for a moment. “Have you told him that?”
“Because I’m not ready to have that conversation.”
“Not ready for the conversation or the expectations he’ll have?” When she just shrugged, he nudged her with his shoulder. “Talk to me little girl.”
She turned to look at him, brows rising. “Playing Dear Abby Jughead? Or still pimping for him?”
“Neither. I just want two of my favourite people to be happy.”
“We’re not unhappy.”
“No, but you could be happier.”
She couldn’t argue the point. “We, well I, still have some things to work through before I can give serious consideration to his...expectations.”
“He’s the biggest, but there are other things too.”
“Anything I can help with?”
“No, I’ve got to work it out on my own. But thanks for the offer.”
“You know where I am if you need anything.”
Veronica leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Thanks Jughead.”
“Hey! Trying to poach my woman bro?” Jon mock scowled at his friend.
“I tried, but she seems to be stuck on you.” Richie shrugged. “No accounting for some people’s taste I guess.”
Veronica laughed and swatted his arm as he stood. “There’s nothing wrong with my taste.”
Jon sat down and leaned over to kiss her. “Mmmm. Nothing wrong with your taste at all, sugar. Sweet yet spicy, just the way I like it.”
An unladylike snort was her response to his silliness, although there was a sparkle in the amethyst pools he loved to drown in, and a slight curve to the luscious lips he loved to taste.
Before Veronica could say anything, her phone rang. She glanced at the display then at Jon. “Hello?”
“Hi Ronnie, it’s Cheryl.”
“Hi Cheryl, what’s up?” She raised a brow at Jon, but he just picked up a magazine and opened it.
“I’m calling about the arrangements for the kids to join you. I’m sending their flight information to you, but I wanted to talk to you about the hotel accommodations. The hotels have two bedroom suites, but no additional connecting room. Sooo....do you want your own room or will you be staying in the suite? When I asked Jon, he said he thought the suite, but I should check with you.”
“Ummm..” Veronica hesitated, debating. But she knew she really didn’t have a choice, not if she wanted to give their relationship a real try. “The suite, I guess.”
“Okay. That’s all I needed to know. Thanks Ronnie.”
“Thanks Cheryl. Talk to you later.” Hanging up, she turned to look at Jon. “Why did you tell her to call me instead of just asking me yourself?”
“Neutral third party. It was your decision to make and I didn’t want you to feel pressure from me.”
“Hmpf.” Maybe not a spoken pressure, but I knew what you wanted. But it won’t be exactly as you want! “Looks like it’ll be boys in one room and girls in the other.” I hope Stephanie’s talking to me or it’s going to be very uncomfortable.
Jon frowned. “The kids can all share one.”
Veronica gave him a chiding glance. “Oh, yeah, I’m sure Stephanie would be just thrilled to share a room – and a bed - with her brothers.”
Jon sighed in resignation. “I guess not.”
“What’s the pout for – besides the obvious?”
“It means I have to share a bed with Romeo. Jesse and Jake will throw a fit if either one of them have to.”
“He hogs the covers.”
Veronica chuckled and patted his cheek. “Poor baby. We’ll find you an extra blanket.”
“I’d rather you kept me warm.”
“Sorry babe, not in front of the kids.”
Jon sighed again, and turned back to his magazine.
A ping from her laptop signalled an e-mail arriving and, still chuckling, Veronica clicked to open it. As she read her amusement faded, then died altogether. “Damn.”
Before she could answer, her phone rang. A glance at the display had her cursing again. “Hi Vince.”
“Did you get my e-mail?”
“I’m reading it right now.”
“What the hell’s going on out there Veronica?”
“The tour’s going very well. Dubai was a success and the European shows are mostly sold out. Sales are...”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. You’re there to do a job, not play house with your boyfriend!”
Veronica closed her eyes and took a tighter grip on her temper. “I’m doing my job Vince, one you told me I was chosen for because of my abilities and because of my friendship with Jon. If you don’t think I’m doing a good enough job, then replace me.” She held up a hand when Jon’s head snapped towards her, a frown creasing his forehead and darkening with every word she uttered. “And I’m not ‘playing house with my boyfriend.’ What I do outside of work hours is my business. I haven’t done anything that would reflect badly on the band, the label or affect sales. That article was written by a jealous ex-boyfriend who’s trying to make a name for himself, hopefully at my expense. It won’t work. Neither of us are married or involved with anyone else. It’s a non story.” Jon turned her laptop so that he could read it and held out his hand for her phone. She shook her head.
“So you admit that you’re...what...dating him?”
“Yes, I guess you could call it that. I would have preferred that our relationship not become public knowledge until after the tour, but....” She shrugged.
“What are you going to do about the article?”
“Nothing. We’re going to ignore it. Jon’s very good at avoiding personal questions that he doesn’t want to answer. There’s only a few weeks left of the tour, and then it won’t matter anymore.”
“Hmmpf. Well, keep an eye on it.” He had to tread a little carefully. If he pushed too far, she’d quit, and, professionally speaking, he couldn’t afford to let that happen. Her ear for talent was one of the best in the business. Any of their competitors would be more than happy to have her. Not to mention, if this turned out to be a serious relationship with Jon, he didn’t want to take the risk of pissing him off and losing Bon Jovi from their roster.
“I will.” Hanging up, she closed her eyes, leaned her head back against the seat and blew out a heavy sigh.
“Fucking prick.” Jon growled.
“Tom or Vince?”
“Take your pick. Why wouldn’t you let me talk to Vince?”
“Because I was handling it. You would just lose your temper and create a bigger....issue.”
Jon couldn’t deny she had a point – at least about him losing his temper, but that didn’t make him feel any better. “I’m part of this too remember, you don’t have to take any crap from Vince or anyone else because we’re together. It’s nobody’s business but yours and mine....and the kids. Everyone else needs to mind their own fucking business! And if Vince or anyone else at the label has a problem with who I date, they can take it up with me!”
“Like they’d dare.” She chuckled, but Jon’s scowl didn’t go away. She reached out to squeeze his hand. “I appreciate your support and if Vince keeps it up, I’ll let you have at him. But let me try it my way first. Please? If I have to look for a new job I’d rather not have my last assignment cancelled before it was finished.”
“If he fires you, I’ll hire you. You can work for us full time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Veronica leaned over to kiss him.
Jon’s raised voice had alerted the others that something had happened and they gathered around them.
“Problem?” Richie spoke for the group.
In response, Jon handed over the laptop so that they could read Tom’s article – or at least the relevant part – for themselves.
On the personal side, it appears that Bon Jovi, recently divorced from his wife of almost twenty years, has a new woman in his life, although insider’s doubt how new she is. Rumour has it that they’ve known each other for many years. Relighting an old flame? Or just killing time on the road? Did I mention that she works for Mercury Records and is travelling with the band, handling promotions for the tour? Nice gig if you can get it.
Veronica didn’t disagree.
“Yeah, and now Vince is hassling her about whether she’s working or...how did he put it...playing house with her boyfriend?” Jon filled them in.
David raised a brow. “And you didn’t reach through the phone and rip him a new one?”
“Ronnie wouldn’t let me. If he doesn’t back off I will though....and then I’ll switch labels. Fucker!”
Veronica remained quiet while they expressed their opinions, support and ideas of what should be done to both men. When they wound down she caught Jon’s eye. “You should call Dorothea and warn her.”
He frowned. “She knows we’re together.”
“Yeah, but she doesn’t know that it’s, for all intents and purposes, public knowledge....or that he’s implying that we may have been together during your marriage.” When he still hesitated, she nudged him. “If you want to stay on good terms with her, call her. Don’t let her be surprised or get caught unprepared if someone mentions it to her....or the kids.”
“Mmmm. I never thought about that. Good point.” He picked up his phone.