“So what the hell crawled up Vince’s ass and died?” Lori’s disgust came through the phone line loud and clear.
“I don’t know. Something’s going on. My bet is that it has something to do with Keith.” Veronica sipped from her mug of coffee, leaned back and put her feet up on the footstool. They were at Jon’s house enjoying a couple days off before the final two shows of the tour at Madison Square Garden. She was waiting for Jon to get off the phone so that they could head into the city to meet with Tony about his plans to record the shows for a DVD that would be released later in the year. “Have you heard anything?”
“No. Everything’s quiet on the country front. What does Jon think?”
“I haven’t told him.”
“Are you kidding? You think I should tell the perfectionist control freak that the CEO of his record company thinks that he and his head of promotions are too busy fucking around to do their jobs? ‘Cause that’s what Vince’s accusations amount to. Do you want to see how high an Italian temper can explode? You’ll be able to hear him in Nashville!”
“Well, maybe Vince needs to hear it. Maybe then he’ll pull his head out of his ass.”
“Maybe, but I’m not sure I’m ready to light that fuse. You can be sure I’d have to listen to it!”
“What are you going to do?”
“I haven’t decided yet. He was right about one thing....I need to think about where I see my career going.”
“Are you thinking about quitting? What will you do?”
“Go work for another label.”
“Or maybe just for one particular band?” Lori’s voice was knowing.
“That’s an option.”
“Are you going to move in with Mr. Gorgeous?”
Veronica sighed heavily. “I don’t know. That’s something else I have to think about.”
Lori didn’t get it. Veronica was being offered something millions of women around the world would give their eyeteeth for and she was dragging her feet. “What’s holding you back? You said everything was great with the kids, he loves you, you love him...what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know if I love him.”
The sounds of choking and snorting echoed down the phone line. “Who are you trying to kid? Me? Or yourself?”
“Don’t push Lori.”
“Why not? Who’s going to if I don’t? If Jon does you’ll blow up at him and push him away. Someone’s got to push you to do what best for you!” She sighed. “I want you to be happy. Stop getting in your own way!”
Veronica bit back the urge to snap at her best friend. She knew her heart was in the right place. “Just let me finish up the tour, then I’ll sit down and really think about my future...all aspects of it.”
“Don’t think too long or you may lose him. Again.”
“Sugar! Let’s go!” Jon called from the foyer.
“I gotta go Lori. Jon’s ready to go.”
“Just promise me you’ll really think about everything. Don’t let fear stop you from finding happiness.”
“I promise I’ll think about it.”
The ride into New York City was very quiet. Veronica was preoccupied with her conversation with Lori...and Jon was preoccupied with her.
“You’re awful quiet. Penny for your thoughts.”
Veronica smiled. “Sorry, just thinking about the shows...and what comes next.”
Jon took a deep breath. “I meant what I said on the plane about moving in and transferring to the New York office...or you could quit altogether and work for us.”
“I’m not sure that us working together all the time would be a good idea.”
“Why not? It’s worked well this tour.”
“Yeah, but we weren’t a couple for the whole tour. That could make a difference.”
Jon wanted to argue, but managed to resist. She seemed to be somewhat receptive and he didn’t want to blow it. He stayed silent for several breaths. “And what about moving in?”
“Let’s just finish these shows, then we’ll see what’s what.”
The muscle in his jaw twitched. He tried to restrain his temper...he really did....but he couldn’t hold back. “What’s it going to take Ronnie? I love you! I’ve done everything I can think of to show you how serious I am and to convince you that I’ll never hurt you again. What the fuck more do you want from me?”
Her temper flared. “Stop pushing dammit!! I’ve got enough on my plate right now without you pushing!”
“Bullshit! There’s only the two shows left. You could do that in your sleep! You’re the one who always wants to talk about everything, why are you avoiding talking about this? About us?”
“That’s all I ever hear from you! But I don’t hear any explanations! Do you want to be with me or not?”
“It’s not that simple!”
“Yes it is! Either you love me or you don’t. Either you want to be with me or you don’t.”
“I don’t want to argue with you.”
Jon snorted. “Since when? Or is it because I’m right and you know it? What the fuck are you so afraid of?”
Myself. Losing myself in you and your family then losing it all again. “I just need some time to think everything through. Just let me finish these shows and then I can think about us.”
He sighed in resignation. “I love you Nica. We can make this work, but I can’t...I won’t do it by myself.”
A tense silence filled the car for the rest of the trip, both of them lost in their own thoughts.
“Hey guys! I was beginning to think you’d gotten lost or were blowing me off.” Tony greeted them when they walked onto the floor of the arena.
“Sorry we’re late Tony, Jon had a phone call.” Veronica explained.
“What else is new?” Tony teased his brother.
“If everyone would just do their fucking jobs, I wouldn’t have to spend half my day on the fucking phone trying to sort shit out!” Jon stomped off to inspect the stage.
Tony looked at Veronica and raised a brow.
“Ignore him. He’s in a pissy mood.” Veronica advised. “So what are you thinking for the video?”
For the next half hour Tony explained his plan, and walked her around pointing out where he wanted the cameras. He was so descriptive she could practically see the shots.
Jon was back and forth between them and the stage like a yo-yo. He would stand with them, listening to Tony, until he saw something on the stage he didn’t like, then he’d go yell at someone there.
“What piece of fuck put that there? How am I supposed to work the front with that there? Do you want me to break my fucking neck? This is the end of the tour for fuck’s sake, not the beginning....use your fucking heads!”
Tony winced. They could see crew members starting to look frustrated and a little mutinous. They didn’t appreciate his interference and criticizing their work – anyone could see they weren’t finished. They knew what they were doing and he would be satisfied if he’d just leave them alone and let them do it.
Veronica knew it was her fault and she had to stop it. She sighed. “Excuse me a minute Tony.”
“Good luck soothing the savage beast. I’ll keep emergency services on standby.” Tony offered. This could get ugly! Where’s the popcorn?
Veronica climbed onto the stage and approached Jon where he was standing alone – no one wanted to be near him in this mood. She set a hand on his arm. “Jon, please stop. Let them do their job. Don’t take your temper out on them. They don’t deserve it.”
Sapphire eyes glittered. “So maybe I should just take it out on the one that does?”
Amethyst eyes returned fire. All the weeks of stress and pressure, from him, from Vince, from her friends, from his mother...even from herself all came to a head and her temper snapped. “Fine. I know that you’re pissed at me. If you want to scream and yell at me and act like a spoiled child go ahead. Just don’t take it out on the staff and crew that work so hard for you.” There was creaking noises coming from over head, that had some of the crew looking up, but the combatants ignored it. “Let me know when you’re ready to act like an adult and then maybe we’ll talk.” She turned and started to walk away.
Jon snorted and followed her a few steps. “Maybe. All I ever get from you is maybe! You call me a child, but you’re the one running away and hiding!”
“Uh...Jon...” One brave roadie spoke up, looking nervously at the rigging around the lights, but Jon ignored him.
Veronica stalked back towards him until they were toe to toe.
“Why don’t you let me know when you’re ready to get over the past and your fear and be the woman I know you can be again!” Jon sneered at her.
“Why? So you can destroy her again?” She could have bitten her tongue. She really hadn’t wanted him to know of her fear. She needed time to work through it. Time without the circus of the tour. Time to decide what she wanted out of life. She turned and rushed towards the side of the stage.
“Jon, you might want to....” The roadie tried again, still watching the creaking rigging.
“Not now!” Jon didn’t take his eyes off Veronica and looked like he’d been punched.
Before he could move to follow her, there was a loud crash.
Veronica spun around in time to see a large tangle of metal, glass and wires descend rapidly from the ceiling. “JON!”