Veronica was still lying on the bed with Jon when Dorothea, Carol, John Sr. and the kids arrived.
“Daddy!” Jake ran up to the side of the bed. “Mommy said you were hurt! Are you okay now?”
Vernonica stood up and lifted first Jake, then Romeo onto the bed so that Jon could hug them.
“Hi buddy. My head and back got hurt, but I’m going to be okay.”
Romeo touched the scar on his forehead. “Hurt like me?”
“Yep, just like you, except my cut is on the back of my head.” When he struggled to sit up, his breath hissed through his teeth at the pain and his father rushed to help him. “Thanks Dad.” Leaning forward, he showed his wounds to the boys – and everyone else that crowded around to look.
“Oooh. Ouch!” Jesse grimaced.
“So Humpty Dumpty’s cracked but not scrambled?” David spoke from the doorway.
“If I’m scrambled, you’re poached!” Was Jon’s reply – better, considering the presence of the kids, than the Jersey salute that was his first impulse.
In short order, the room was full. Everyone from the day before, plus more, showed up to see how Jon was.
“Here’s the clothes you asked me to pick up.” Matt handed a bag to Veronica.
“Thanks.” At Jon’s look, she explained. “They had to cut off your shirt and I don’t know the condition of your pants, so I asked Matt to stop by the house and pick up some clothes for you to go home in.”
“Oh, right. Thanks Matt.”
The doctor appeared in the doorway. “The crowd’s growing!” A path was cleared for him to reach the bed. “Mr. Bongiovi, I’m Dr. Bertoli.” He shook Jon’s hand. “How are you feeling this morning?”
“Fine. When can I go home?”
“Jon, don’t lie.” His mother admonished him. They had already discussed at length how he truly felt.
“Okay, okay....my head hurts and my back stings.”
Dr. Bertoli smiled. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t. Any dizziness?”
“No. When can I go home?”
After checking the wounds, the doctor relented. “I’ll discharge you, but I want you to take it easy for a few days.”
“I have two shows to do starting tomorrow night.”
The doctor eyed him thoughtfully. “You have eighteen stitches in your head and multiple cuts and scratches on your back – three of them deep enough to require bandages.....but if you don’t have any dizziness, the headache doesn’t get any worse, and you take it easy – as in rest – until then, I won’t argue against it. Just be careful.” He turned to Veronica. “The nurse will give you his care instructions.”
After the doctor left, the room erupted.
“Jon you can’t do the show tomorrow.”
“Yes I can.”
“Son, think about your health.”
“I’m not cancelling the shows!”
“Not cancel....postpone. We can reschedule for a few days from now.” Paul offered.
“No. People will have made travel plans. I can’t do that.”
“Your health is more important! Do you think the fans would really be upset if you had to postpone because you’re injured?”
“Think about it bro.”
The more the arguments flew at him, the more stubborn his expression became. Gradually, they all fell silent and turned to Veronica expectantly.
Aware of their gazes, she eyed Jon. He glared back defiantly. Veronica wasn’t intimidated. “Only you know how you feel, but consider this: what kind of a performance are you capable of giving, and will you be satisfied with that?”
Dorothea and Richie exchanged glances and smirked. Veronica definitely knew how to deal with their perfectionist frontman.
Jon held Veronica’s gaze for a long moment, grimaced and sighed. “We’ll see how I feel later today.”
A little while later the nurse came in with Jon’s discharge papers and went over the care instructions with Veronica. “If there’s a lot of oozing bring him back. Otherwise we’ll see him in a week to take out the stitches. Or he can go to his regular doctor.”
Jon scowled as the nurse left. “I’m not a child.”
“Can you see your back or the back of your head?” Veronica asked calmly.
“Then doesn’t it make sense that she would tell me what to look for? Or did you want somebody else to do it?”
“No.” He muttered and reached for the bag with his clothes. “Can we get out of here?”
Muffling snickers, everyone said their goodbye’s and left.
“I’ll go bring the car around.” Matt was driving them home.
Carol hugged Jon carefully, eased back at pointed her finger at him. “You listen to Ronnie, and don’t give her a hard time!” Turning, she nodded at Veronica. “I’ll call you later to see how he’s doing. I’ll warn you, he’s not a good patient. Don’t take any crap from him.” With that she exited the room, ignoring the stunned stares that followed her.
“What just happened?” Veronica asked no one in particular.
It was Dorothea that answered. “I think she’s finally realized that maybe she was insensitive to what you went through....and holding a grudge against you isn’t worth losing her son.”
“It’s about time!” Jon reached behind his neck to yank open the tie of the hospital gown and hissed as the cuts on his back were pulled.
“Daddy I help you.” Romeo crawled around behind his father and carefully undid the ties.
“Thanks little man.”
“Come on guys, let’s go home.”
“I want to go home with Daddy.” Jake pouted.
“Me too!” Romeo added his vote.
But their mother was firm. “Daddy needs to rest. We’ll call him later and you can spend a few days with him and Ronnie when he’s feeling better.”
There were a few grumbles, but Dorothea managed to get the kids packed up.
“Feel better Dad.” Stephanie kissed him.
“Take it easy Dad.” Jesse advised.
With hugs for Veronica, they filed out the door. Dorothea had a parting comment for Veronica. “Good luck.”
Veronica laughed. Jon scowled. “I’m not that bad!”
“Uh huh. We’ll see. Let me help you get dressed.”
“I’m fine! I’m perfectly capable...” His voice trailed off as pain shot down his back when he tried to lift his arms over his head to put on a t-shirt.
“Stop being so stubborn and let me help you!”
He was in too much pain to argue.
Despite his insistence that he was fine, the drive home took more out of Jon than he’d anticipated – or wanted to admit – and he was happy to lie on the couch. But he didn’t want to be alone. “Sugar! Sugar! Where are you?” He winced as his head objected to the volume of his voice.
“I’m right here. What do you need?” She set a cup of coffee – decaf in deference to his concussion - on the table in front of him. “Are you hungry?”
“No.” He patted the end of the couch beside him. “Come sit with me.”
Veronica set their phones on the end table along with her own cup of coffee and sat. “You should probably lie down.”
“I plan to. Help me get this shirt off first.” That done, he dropped a pillow onto her lap, stretched out on his stomach, and settled his head on the pillow.
Veronica checked the bandages on his back and head and was relieved to find them clean. While Jon flipped channels looking for something good on TV, she lightly rubbed an undamaged area of his back with one hand and smoothed his hair with the other. The murmur as he settled more comfortably and promptly fell asleep made her smile. For someone who claimed not to ‘particularly like cats’ he could certainly sound like one.
Leaning her head back against the couch, she closed her eyes. She needed some rest herself. She hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and the next few days promised to be long ones.