Veronica realized very quickly that she was going to have to learn to balance the demands of her job and those of being, well, a mother. With Vince watching her every move so closely she couldn’t delegate the interviews to someone else, so she drafted Matt to help Alejandra and Lexi keep the kids entertained. Being mostly a big kid himself, he was perfectly suited for the job.
Spending so much time in such close proximity to the kids was a challenge for her. The show days weren’t so bad, she was kept pretty busy, but the off days were....difficult. And they were getting progressively harder.
Their first day in London was spent wandering around Madame Tussaud’s and the Tower. Even though they’d been there before, it seemed the boys – big and small – never tired of either place....and Stephanie was a good sport.
After spending hours examining the latest wax effigies – including one Romeo chattered at calling it Daddy until, getting frustrated that Jon didn’t answer, he reached to tug on the hand and realized it wasn’t flesh and blood, causing Jon to smile wryly and the rest of them to laugh – and listening to the Beefeaters spin tales of intrigue and imprisonment, they grabbed a bite to eat and finally returned to the hotel.
“Okay boys, bedtime.” Jon eyed his youngest two. “Get your pajamas on and you can have a snack first.”
Snack finished – a drawn out experience typical of those trying to delay the inevitable for as long as possible – teeth brushed, time was up and they said their good nights. Romeo turned from kissing his father, eyed Veronica for a moment, then held up his arms, lips puckered.
Veronica’s stomach clenched and it felt like a fist was squeezing her heart. It took everything she had to oblige his silent request. “Good night little man.”
When Jon returned to the sitting room after tucking Jake and Romeo in, she was gone. He raised an inquiring brow at Stephanie, who gestured to the balcony. Stepping through the door, he saw her leaning on the railing looking out over the city. “Are you okay?” She turned her head towards him and he could see the tears streaking down her cheeks. “Oh honey, come here.”
Veronica let him enfold her in his arms and leaned against him. “When is the pain going to stop Jon? Will I ever be able to look at him, touch him...and not see Drew? Will I ever be able to love him as he deserves?”
He didn’t know how to answer, or how to help her, but he knew he had to support her. “Hang in there sugar, you’re doing great. It’s just going to take time.”
She sighed heavily and clung to him, soaking in his strength and confidence while she struggled to pull herself together. Finally, she straightened and wiped the tears from her face. “Thank you.”
Blunt fingers framed her face, lifting it to his. “That’s what I’m here for.” Blue eyes searched violet. “I love you. Lean on me when you need to. I’ll be your rock.” His lips twitched. “I’ll be here for you.”
She stared at him, then snorted. “Reduced to paraphrasing yourself?”
“Richie actually. That one was his remember? Even though it was meant for you.”
“I remember that you were trying to get out of the doghouse after missing my birthday party because you were in writing mode –or too drunk - and lost track of time.”
“But I made up for it afterwards didn’t I?” His eyes were warm with remembrance.
She shivered at the memory of his way of making amends. “Mmmm.”
Hot breath stirred the curls by her ear. “I could get another room and remind you.”
She was tempted, very tempted, but..... “We can’t leave the kids.”
“Steph and Jesse can keep an ear out for the little ones.”
She hesitated, then shook her head. “It’s their vacation too. They shouldn’t have to babysit.” One hand lifted to caress his cheek and she kissed him. “We’ll find some time for us. Soon. I promise.” The truth was she needed it as much as he did.
Jon sighed, but gave in. He couldn’t argue when her refusal was out of consideration for his kids. “I’m going to hold you to that.” If she didn’t find a way he would.
“Fuck!” Jon tossed his phone onto his dressing table and raked a hand through his hair.
“Problem?” Veronica paused in the doorway, then closed the door behind her. Jon had left the interview room immediately after the last interview to return a phone call, which wasn’t unusual, but him being late for sound check was, so she’d come looking for him.
He glanced up at her. “It’s the Central Park show. The lawyers are whining about liability and Ticketmaster.....fucking Ticketmaster wants to charge a handling fee! On a free fucking ticket! I should start up my own ticket distribution company and do it myself! And if the whole thing falls apart guess who’s going to get the blame? The lawyers? Ticketmaster? The mayor? No. ME.”
Veronica stood behind him, set her fingers on his temples and massaged gently. He leaned back against her, closed his eyes and sighed. “Why do I put myself through this? I hate it.”
She almost laughed, but caught herself in time. He wasn’t fooling her, he thrived on this stuff. “Because you love the music and bringing it to your fans. It’s the bureaucratic nit picking and sabre rattling that you hate. But you’ll put up with it in order to do something big... and get your name in the record books as one of the few who’ve ever done it.”
His eyes flew open and he frowned up at her. She raised a brow and dared him to deny it. He couldn’t. This was one of the drawbacks of having her in his life....she knew him....and didn’t shy away from talking about his less pleasant personality traits. She would never blow smoke up his ass and tell him how wonderful he was just because he was the boss. If she complimented him then she meant it...and if she criticized him she meant that too. She would always tell him what she thought. Whether he wanted to hear it was something else. That was one of the benefits to having her in his life. He could always rely on her to tell him the truth.
They were silent for a few minutes until she felt him relax under her hands. “Better?”
“Mmmmhmmm...you have magic fingers sugar.”
She smiled and bent to kiss him. “They’re waiting for you for sound check.”
Jon sighed, but stood and followed her out the door. They were nearing the stage when they heard first the shouts of warning, then the screaming. Recognizing his youngest son’s cries, Jon started to run.
Rounding the stage, he saw Romeo, fighting to get away from Lexi, who was trying to calm him down, screaming, crying....his face covered in blood. Jon’s stomach clenched even as he reminded himself that head wounds bled like crazy. Still, he had to swallow twice before he could speak. “Come here buddy.”
Lexi released the little boy who ran towards his father. But when Jon touched his head, he tried to push away. “No, no, no touch Daddy!”
“I know it hurts, but I need to see where the blood’s coming from.”
Romeo shook his head almost violently. “No no no no no no.” Seeing Veronica over his father’s shoulder he fought harder to get out of Jon’s hold. “Ronnie! Ronnie!”
Mommy! Mommy! Veronica stood, frozen, her mind creating words she knew she wasn’t hearing, but still kept echoing in her head. She watched Romeo run towards her....Jon’s face, Jon’s eyes, blood everywhere. Suddenly, something inside her snapped and she dropped to her knees and gathered him close, uncaring that she was getting blood all over her, not realizing that she was crying too, shoulders shaking with silent sobs.
Jon watched them, distantly aware of a roadie explaining what had happened – Romeo had tripped over a cable and hit his head on a step - and apologizing profusely. “It’s okay Terry. It was an accident.”
Someone had alerted the venue staff who in turn radioed the first aid team, who came running. One of them started past Jon and he reached out to stop him. “But sir, we need to see how badly he’s hurt.”
“Leave them alone for a minute.”
The rest of the band had watched the events from the stage and now joined them on the floor. David wrinkled his nose. “Ugh! Look at the blood. I think I’m going to be sick.”
Lexi shook her head at him. “Good thing you took Jon up on his offer and became a rockstar babe. You never would have made it as a doctor. I’m surprised you survived the kids’ childhood.”
“We weren’t allowed to bleed around him.” Colton explained.
The medic tried to assess as much as he could see. “Is she hurt as well?”
“No.” Alejandra stepped up beside Jon and squeezed his shoulder. “She’s healing.”