After a relatively quick trip to the emergency room – when you show up with a bleeding child they don’t tend to make you wait very long – to get Romeo checked out, they returned to the hotel.
“So what are we going to do for dinner?” Jon asked his family. “Go downstairs, out somewhere else or order in?”
“What do you think little man? What do you feel like?” Veronica put the question to the little boy she was carrying. He got upset if she was very far from him and she was happy to keep him close right now. “I think a bath is first on the list for you....and me.” The nurse had cleaned most of the blood off as best she could, but not like soap and water could.
Romeo nodded, his head resting on her shoulder, the white bandage on his forehead covering what had turned out to be a fairly deep cut, that had required six stitches. “Yeah, we all yucky.” He lifted his head to look at his father. “French fies.”
“Do you want a hamburger or chicken fingers to go with those fries?” Jon wanted to stroke the blonde head, but didn’t want to hurt him. He’d been a trouper, but it had to hurt.
“Chicken figners pease Daddy.”
“You got it buddy.”
“Why don’t we just order from room service Dad, then we can all take our time getting ready for the show.” Stephanie suggested.
“You okay with that Jess?”
Jesse shrugged. “Yeah, fine, whatever.” He picked up a pad of paper and a pen. “What’s everyone want?”
While dinner was ordered and they waited for it to arrive, Veronica gave Romeo a bath, carefully washing the blood out of his hair, trying not to disturb the bandage. Wrapping him in a towel, she carried him out and set him on the couch beside Jon while she grabbed a robe and returned to the bathroom to get herself cleaned up.
Standing under the hot shower, she tried to figure out what had happened....so that she could explain it to herself, at least. All she knew was that when she saw Romeo, scared, crying, hurting, reaching for her, covered in blood, something deep inside her awoke, and it hit her....she couldn’t save or even comfort her own child – their child – but there in front of her was one she could. By helping Jon’s son...by being there when he needed her....she could finally accept that Drew’s death wasn’t due to any lack of maternal skills on her part. Here was an opportunity to prove – to herself anyway – that she had what it took to be a good mother. If Romeo wanted her to take on that role, however temporarily, she would do so...gladly...and to the best of her ability.
Feeling better than she had in a very long time, she dried off, pulled on a robe and went to join the family in the sitting room.
“What are we going to do about the show?” Jon asked Veronica quietly while they ate. He knew what he thought should happen, but it had to be her decision.
Veronica studied Romeo in his seat beside her. He was eating, but it was obvious that he was starting to fade. “What do you want to do little man? Go to Daddy’s show or stay here and watch T.V.?”
“Will you stay wif me?”
“If you want me to.”
“Can we watch a movie?”
“Sure.” She turned to Jon. “You guys go ahead, we’re going to stay here.”
“Are you sure?” He was all for Romeo staying in if that’s what he wanted, he would probably fall asleep early anyway, and they still needed to watch for signs of a concussion. It was also okay by him if Veronica wanted to stay with him. He wanted so badly to see her get close to Romeo voluntarily, he’d sacrifice having her with him at the show to make it happen. But he knew that Vince was being a prick and watching everything she did, and he didn’t want to be the cause of any more friction there.
“Yeah. It’s just for the show. I’ll call Tiffany. She’s been shadowing me for awhile now trying to learn what I do. Between her impressions and yours I can get enough to work with, and there’s another one tomorrow night that I can get my own.” When he still looked unsure, she smiled a little grimly. “And if Vince doesn’t like it he can kiss my ass and fire me. I don’t care. Romeo’s needs come first.”
Jon leaned over and kissed her. “I love you.”
Veronica squeezed his hand and turned to answer a question from Jake.
When the others had left for the show, Romeo and Veronica stocked up on snacks, got into their pajamas and curled up together to watch movies. After awhile, he got a little restless and fussy.
“What’s wrong little man? Does your head hurt?”
“Mmmmhmm.” He almost whimpered.
Rising, Veronica got him some of the painkillers the hospital had given them and a drink. “Do you want to go lay down in bed?”
“Can we lay in your bed?”
That’s where the others found them when they returned after the show, curled together and sound asleep.
Jon leaned down to shake Romeo’s shoulder. “Hey little man, wake up for a minute.”
“Mmmm.” Romeo frowned and grumbled.
“What are you doing Dad?” Stephanie asked quietly.
“I need to check for concussion symptoms.” He shook Romeo again. “Romeo wake up. Do you know where you are?”
“I seeping Daddy.”
Jon grinned. “Yeah, but do you know where you’re sleeping?”
Close enough. “Okay buddy, go back to sleep.” His gaze settled on the woman curled protectively around his son and his expression softened even more. One hand brushed an ebony curl off her forehead and caressed her cheek.
“You really love her don’t you?” Stephanie had been watching him.
“Yes, I do.”
She was silent for a long moment. “Then marry her. After the tour is over take her home and marry her. Don’t let her go back to Nashville and her old life.”
Jon gave his daughter a penetrating look. “Why do you say that?”
“You’ve got her interested, don’t give her the time and space to really think about it and change her mind.”
“Gee Steph, thanks for the vote of confidence in your old man.”
“Come on Dad, we all know that you’re a good looking guy,” she rolled her eyes, “but let’s face it, living with you – and your job – can be......challenging.”
“So can living with a smartass teenager!”
Stephanie just shrugged. “The point is, who knows when you’ll find someone who can see past the lights and glory of the rockstar to see the work that goes into it, and the man behind it again. Ronnie knows all the highs and lows of the business, what it takes to succeed in it, and she knows you, warts and all. The two of you have been through the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows together, and yet here she is...with you again. Anyone that....brave....is worth hanging onto. And you love her. Make it legally binding before she changes her mind. Don’t let her get away.”
One side of Jon’s mouth lifted in a half smile. “How did you get to be so smart?”
“I take after Mom.”
Jon didn’t disagree. She may look more like him, but she was a chip off her mother’s block. Romeo shifted, bringing his attention back to the matter at hand. “I’ll move him out of your room as soon as I get Jake settled.”
“It’s okay. Leave him.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. He’s comfortable. Let him sleep.” She hesitated. “I can stay with the boys tonight if you want to stay in here with them.”
His brows rose. “Really?” It would make him feel better. While he was pleased at seeing Veronica let Romeo close, he wasn’t sure how the events of the day might affect her, nightmare wise, and he’d like to be close if she needed him.
“Yeah, it’s fine. Then if Romeo needs anything, you’ll both be here to help him.”
“Thanks sweetie. It’ll just be for tonight.”
“It’s fine. I guess I can put up with Jesse’s snoring that long.” She reached up to kiss his cheek. “I just want you to be happy Daddy. Think about what I said.”
“I will.” Truth was, when he wasn’t working he thought of little else. But there was one thing Stephanie hadn’t considered. Does she love me?