“What exactly did you want me to promote Vince?” Veronica’s voice was a little sharp, but she didn’t appreciate being yelled at for no reason. “It’s a free show in Central Park. The tickets were gone in minutes, all the rock radio stations in the Tri-State area have been talking about it, and we did a joint announcement with the mayor’s office. They’re lined up down the block. What more did you want me to do?”
“I want you to quit fucking around with your boyfriend and do what we’re paying you to do!”
Veronica took a deep breath, and sent up a silent prayer of thanks that Jon wasn’t nearby to hear that! He was over inspecting the stage set up before the families started arriving and they opened the gates to let people into that area of Central Park. With Carol’s impending appearance she really didn’t need this shit from Vince. “I know I didn’t just hear you say that! You’ve been behind that desk too long if you think that promoting on the road is easy. You know me better than that! You know how seriously I take my job! And you know Jon.” She needed another deep breath before she could continue. “What is this really about Vince? Is Keith pressuring you to replace me with him?”
“Keith has nothing to do with this. I want to make sure that your focus is on your job and not your boyfriend.”
Her temper soared, and she barely managed to keep it under control. “If you don’t think I’m doing a good job, then fire me. Otherwise, get off my back and stop accusing me of something you know I’m not doing! If you don’t, I’m sure one of the other labels would appreciate my efforts and skills! Or maybe I’ll let you talk to my ‘boyfriend’ and you can tell him that you think I’m shirking my responsibilities in favour of playing with him. But you might not like his response.”
“Are you threatening me?” Vince asked, incredulous.
“Not at all. I’m just letting you know what will happen if you keep making baseless accusations against me.” Veronica had reached the end of her patience with him.
“You’ve done great work for us, but you’re not irreplaceable.” Vince warned. “You need to think long and hard about where you see your career going.”
“You’re right. I do. I’ll let you know what I decide. Right now, I’ve got a few interviews to monitor and two more shows to push before this tour is over. Unless there’s something else you need, I’ll talk to you later.” Hanging up, she frowned. Something was going on. Vince was always a bit demanding, but he’d never ridden her ass like this.
“Where’s my son? Someone tell him that we’re here.” Carol’s voice carried down the hallway.
Veronica turned the other way, searching for a quiet place to regroup and fortify herself mentally to face her next ordeal.
“Where’s Ronnie?” Jon hung up his phone after once again hearing her voicemail kick in. “Anyone seen her?”
The crew members in the area all shook their heads.
He started down the hallway asking everyone he met. “Have you seen Ronnie?”
“What’s the matter Kidd, lose your girlfriend?” David smirked. “Did she finally get smart and bolt?” A Jersey salute was the only response he got.
Jon turned to the rest of the guys. “Have you seen her? We’ve got interviews.”
“Did you try her cell?” Tico, as usual, was the practical one.
“Yeah, it goes to voicemail.”
“She’s got it turned off?” Richie frowned. “That’s unusual. I’ll keep an eye out for her.”
“Thanks.” Jon continued down the hallway, annoyance turning into concern.
A little further down Richie opened the door to his dressing room, stepped inside and stopped dead in his tracks. Sticking his head back into the hallway, he looked around. “Kidd? You know that item you’re looking for? I found it.”
Jon turned around and started towards him, his frown deepening. “What’s she doing there?”
“Um....I’m not really sure.”
Jon entered the room to find Veronica lying with her back on the floor, her legs up against the wall, arms stretched out to her sides, eyes closed, headphones to her iPod in her ears.
The others, drawn by Richie’s cryptic comment, had come to see what was going on. David couldn’t resist. “Can she hold her legs like that without the wall?”
Jon just smiled.
“Joker, I finally figured out what you remind me of with that hair.” Veronica proved that she could hear them.
“Yeah? What’s that?” He wasn’t afraid of what she’d come up with, he’d heard them all.
A sliver of violet was visible as she cracked open one eye, then closed it again. “A Chia pet!”
Laughter filled the small room. Even David had to chuckle, although he was afraid he was never going to hear the end of that one.
“Ch ch ch chia!”
Jon walked over and crouched down by her head. “Honey? Are you okay? What are you doing?”
“Restorative yoga. It’s meant to calm and re-energize you.”
“Uh huh. And what do they call that one?” He’d become used to walking into rooms to find her in various yoga poses, but this one was new.
“Legs up the wall.”
“Of course it is.” His lips twitched. “Why are you doing yoga in Richie’s dressing room?”
“Where’s Jon? Did anyone tell him that we’re here? We’ve been waiting for half an hour!” Carol’s strident tones echoed down the hallway.
Veronica heaved a heavy sigh. “That’s why. I knew no one would bother me in here.” Glancing at her watch, she dropped her legs to the side.
Jon straightened, reached down and helped her up. “I’m sorry sugar.”
“Stop apologizing for her Jon. It’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do.” She kissed him. “Come on. You guys have interviews.”
While the guys went to get comfortable – as much as they could for interviews – Veronica went to get her notebook from the office. As she re-entered the hallway she almost got run over.
“Ronnie! We’re here!”
“I see that!” She caught Romeo as he flew at her for a hug. “How are you guys?”
She greeted the rest of the kids, then glanced up to see Dorothea bringing up the rear. “Hi Dot.”
“Hi Ronnie. How are you?”
“I’m doing well, how are you?”
“Are you staying for the show?”
“No, I’m just dropping the kids off.” They fell into step behind the kids heading towards Jon’s dressing room. “I want to thank you again for looking after Romeo when he fell – and letting me know about it.”
Dorothea shook her head. “There’s no ‘of course’ about it. If it was left up to Jon, I wouldn’t find out about it until Romeo was home and I saw the scar. Not that he’d be trying to keep it from me, he just doesn’t think about stuff like that. It makes me feel better to know you’re there to look after them and keep me up in the loop.”
They caught up with the kids in Jon’s dressing room. The rest of the families were gathered there as well. Carol was holding court, but didn’t seem to notice that no one was paying attention to what she was saying. Motioning Jake over, Veronica whispered in his ear. A grin very like his father’s spread across his face and he dove for Veronica’s bag sitting in the corner and began to rifle through it.
“Jake! What are you doing? That’s not yours!” Dorothea scolded.
He pulled out a paper bag. “Cookies!”
“I think Ronnie spoils you guys!” His mother observed.
Jake could only smile around a mouthful of cookie and nod.
“Just don’t forget to share.” Veronica reminded him. “And save some for Daddy and the uncles.”
As soon as they’d walked into the room, Carol had pinned Veronica with a glare. “Where’s Jon? Does he know that his family is here? Waiting for him?”
“Yes he knows and he’ll be here as soon as he can. He also has a job to do. They have two interviews, then they’ll be here.” Veronica struggled to keep her cool.
“And who scheduled that? You?”
“Yes. That is part of my job.” She turned to Dot and the kids. “I need to monitor them and keep them on schedule. I’ll see you guys in a little while. See you later Dot.”
“Call me when you’re ready to bring the kids back.” Dot replied with a sympathetic look.
Once Veronica was gone, Carol raised a brow at her ex-daughter-in-law. “Are you really okay with that woman around your children?”
“Yes. She knows what it’s like to lose a child, so I have every confidence that she’ll take care of mine as if they were her own. And she’s just what Jon needs.”
“You can’t seriously believe that!” Carol couldn’t believe her ears.
“I do. Twenty years ago, he needed the grounding and reality that I could provide better than Ronnie could. But his needs have changed. Now he needs someone who understands the business and all this,” she waved her hand, the gesturing encompassing more than just the room, “and who can help him with it. I can’t do that. Ronnie can. And she also understands the importance of family. She really is the best person for him.”
“I think you’d better get used to her Gran.” Stephanie had listened quietly, but felt the need to speak up in Veronica’s defence. “I think...and I hope...she’s going to be around for a long, long time.”
Carol’s mouth tightened into a mutinous line, but she kept silent. She knew when she was outnumbered.