Veronica walked through the door of the French chateau on the Navesink and sighed in relief. Home....well, sort of. The more she was there, the more it felt like home, even though nothing there was hers.
Behind her, Jon shut the door and let out his own sigh as he set down his bags. The kids had already dropped theirs in the foyer and had taken off for the kitchen to let Molly know they were home.
Out of the corner of her eye Veronica saw a black blur moving towards them. As she watched, it flew at Jon, who caught it reflexively.
“What the hell? Oh.” Jon sighed again, this time in resignation. “Hello Boots, it’s nice to see you too.”
Veronica grinned as the kitten rubbed her head under his chin and purred loudly. “I think she missed you.”
“Lucky me.” He responded dryly. But she noticed that he didn’t set Boots down right away and in fact, was currently scratching her behind her ears and under her chin.
“You’re not fooling anyone, you know. You’re just a big softy.” She reached over to stroke the small, furry head.
“Her purring reminds me of you...when I pet you just right.” He waggled his brows at her and pursed his lips.
Veronica chuckled, but obliged, kissing him softly. “Mmmmm.” The noise she made deep in her throat did indeed sound feline.
“Ronnie...oh, there’s Boots!” Jake ran into the foyer and skidded to a halt, his siblings following more slowly. “Molly says she’s got the stuff to make cookies.” He held up his hands for the kitten.
“And for spagetti sauce.” Jesse added.
“Okay, I get the hints.” Veronica chuckled. “But let’s get the bags upstairs first. Oh, and you should call your mother and let her know you’re back in the country safe and sound.”
“I already texted her.” Jesse assured her.
Veronica shook her head. “You’ve been away for over a week. She wants to hear your voice. Call her.”
She reached out to ruffle his hair. “Brat!” Grabbing her suitcase, she headed up the stairs. She was about to turn into the room across from Jon’s that she always used when Stephanie’s voice stopped her.
“You don’t have to do that you know.”
“Sleep there. You can stay in Dad’s room. I’m not a child, I know you sleep with him when we’re not around.”
Veronica didn’t know how to respond to that. “I know you’re not a child, and you may be okay with it, but I’m not sure your brothers are ready for that.” She glanced up to see Jon coming down the hallway behind Stephanie.
“Jesse will be okay, and the little ones don’t get it, but they’re comfortable enough with you now that they probably won’t really notice.”
“Why are you pushing my relationship with your dad so hard?”
“Because he loves you and I want him to be happy. And I like you. You’re not some floozy after his fame or money. You’re good for him. You get him. And you don’t put up with any of his shit.”
Veronica was amazed. “How old are you again?”
“Mom says I have an old soul.”
“And she’s too smart for her own good!” Jon added as he joined them. “Language Steph. Will you go help Romeo with his bag please?” When she’d gone he gave Veronica a considering look, debating how to word his request so as not to piss her off or make her bolt. “She’s right though. You are good for me. Whaddaya say Nica? Now that you have the kid seal of approval, will you share my room?” My home, my family, my life?
“I don’t know Jon, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that yet.”
“Well, you won’t know until you try, will you?” He held out his hand to her, palm up. “Will you try? Please?”
Veronica was a little shocked at how strong the urge was to give in to his plea – both the verbal one and the one visible in his eyes. This was the next step. This wasn’t the ‘on the road, fantasy life’ of a tour. This was real. This was ‘the kids know, tell the whole world you’re a couple’, real. But was she ready for that? It felt like her heart was battling with her head. Fear versus yearning, past versus future. Lord, she was scared! But didn’t she owe it to him....to Drew...to herself to at least try? If he was wrong, the pain would be all but unbearable, but if he was right.....she would find a happiness and joy of life that she hadn’t felt in twenty years.
Taking a deep breath, she reached out and slowly put her hand in his. “Okay. I’ll try.”
Blunt fingers closed around hers and squeezed. “Thank you.” Jon turned and tugged her into his room. “Make yourself at home. There should be plenty of room in the closet.”
She snorted. “Ya think? That damn closet is bigger than my entire bedroom in Nashville!”
Jon grinned and shrugged. “Makes it easy to find things.”
“Yeah? Then why do you wear the same clothes all the time?”
“Hey! Boots! Where ya going?” Jake’s voice drifted down the hallway.
The now recognizable black blur flew into the room and onto the bed.
“Hey!” Jon pointed his finger at the kitten now curled up on his pillow busy cleaning herself. “Nica was invited to share this room, you weren’t!”
Boots paused in her cleaning momentarily to look at him, then continued licking.
“I don’t think she cares if she was invited or not.” Veronica chuckled. “I don’t think she’s going to leave either.”
Jon sighed, stepped closer and slid his arms around her waist. “As long as you don’t, it doesn’t matter.” He glanced at the furball on his bed. “We’ll just have to remember to keep the door shut.”
Veronica looped her arms around his neck. “You wouldn’t really lock her out would you?”
“I can only handle one female in here.” He bent to taste her mouth. “And I choose you.”
“RONNIE! YOU MAKE COOKIES NOW? PEASE?”
“Guess his head doesn’t hurt if he can yell like that.” Jon noted dryly.
“Yeah.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “I’d better go soothe the savage beasts with chocolate.”
“Then you can soothe this savage beast with another kind of sugar later.”
“With you? Always.”
“Ooh, you smooth talker you!” She had to laugh.
“Just being honest sweetheart.” He raised a brow. “Did it work?”
“Ask me later.”
Cookies baked, dinner eaten, kids in bed, the adults settled into the den with a glass of wine. Veronica was half reclined against Jon, her back to his chest, her arm resting on his at her waist. Taking a sip, she let out a wistful sigh.
“Nothing. I love the warm days, I was just wishing it was cold tonight so that we could have a fire.”
Ah! She’s feeling romantic tonight. “I could turn up the air conditioning and light one.”
Veronica tilted her head back until she could see his face. “You’re joking, right?”
Jon shrugged. “Whatever you want sugar.”
“Okay....what do you want?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re sucking up, you must want something.”
“Jeez, I’m just trying to make you happy!” When she continued to just look at him, his lips twitched. “And maybe trying to make up a little for my behaviour on the plane.”
“Uh huh. I thought so.” One hand lifted to tangle in his hair and urge him closer as she stretched up to meet his mouth. “You’re forgiven even without the fire...just don’t do it again.”
As she settled back, he slid his hand under her t-shirt, feeling her stomach muscles contract and goose flesh rise on her skin at the scrape of his calluses. When she didn’t protest or move away from his touch, he set aside his wine glass so that both hands were free. Nuzzling her ear, he cupped a firm breast, while the other popped the button on her jeans and slid inside.
Veronica sighed again, this time in pleasure as his hands fondled, stroking her gently, arousing her slowly. For once she didn’t think about how to push him to hurry or even about pleasuring him in return, she just relaxed against him and focused on the fires his hands were lighting all over her body.
Jon grinned in satisfaction. He figured she’d be a little skittish about making love with the kids in the house, so his plan was to have the foreplay down here and get her so aroused that by the time he got her upstairs she wouldn’t care. Although the way her hips were rubbing against him as she rocked against his finger stroking her damp cleft, he might not be able to wait until they got upstairs!
“Johnny!” The teasing was all well and good, but she wanted more. She needed more.
“Time to go upstairs?”
The hope and promise in the husky voice had her struggling to pull his hands away and stand up. Once upright, she waited for him to join her. When he did, all thoughts of going upstairs faded. She threw her arms around his neck, threaded her fingers through his thick hair and kissed him for all she was worth. Her tongue plunged deep as she tasted him, her body tight to his. The feel of his erection pressing into her belly assured her that the empty, achy feeling inside her would soon be cured.
Jon ran his hands down her back, filled his hands with the firm cheeks of her ass and squeezed. With a low growl he pulled away – while he could still walk. “Upstairs.”
Veronica wanted to protest, but let him lace their fingers together and tow her upstairs behind him, shutting off lights as they went. At the top of the stairs, she frowned slightly at the sight of the children’s doors.
Jon felt her pace slow and, turning, saw the direction of her gaze. Tugging on her hand he urged her into his bedroom and locked the door before she could change her mind. He ignored the overhead light, opting instead for the lamp on the night table. Clicking it on, he sat on the side of the bed and pulled her to stand between his knees. One smooth motion had her t-shirt sliding up her torso and over her arms. By the time it hit the floor he had her bra undone and it followed the t-shirt.
A quiet sound of satisfaction rumbled in his throat as he buried his face between her breasts. Once again her fingers threaded through his hair and she held him close. Hot lips caressed her plump mounds, tongue tracing the line where creamy white became soft pink, before engulfing the taut peak.
Veronica was so overwhelmed by the sensations each pull of his mouth sent scorching through her body, she wasn’t even aware of his hands easing her jeans and panties over her hips. She had to lock her knees to keep from collapsing onto the floor when two fingers speared her. “Johnny! Oh God! I need you inside me!”
He was happy to oblige. Helping her step out of the clothes bunched at her ankles, he stood and pulled back the blankets on the bed. While she climbed in, he quickly stripped off his clothes, never taking his eyes of her.
Veronica lay back on the pillows and watched his body emerge from cotton and denim. As striptease’s went, this was as good as it got for her. Other men might be taller or more heavily muscled or shiny smooth, but Jon’s physique had always been perfect to her. He was just tall enough that her head could rest comfortably on his shoulder when they were standing, his muscles were firm and defined, and she like the way his fur felt beneath her cheek or her hands.
Jon saw her appreciative glance and smirked. “Like what you see?”
“Mmmm....I’d like it even more if it was closer.”
“That can be arranged.” He slid into the bed and into her waiting body, stroking slowly, deeply, letting their passion grow until they couldn’t hold back the tide any longer and the wave swamped them.
Rolling onto his back struggling to breathe, he was overcome with the feeling that for the first time in over two years, the house felt like home for him. His kids were asleep in their rooms down the hall, and the woman he loved was lying beside him, flushed and boneless from his lovemaking. This is how it should be.