Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter 132

“Ronnie! Wake up!” Romeo jumped onto the bed.

“Mmmm?” Veronica blinked. “Hey little man. When did you get here?”

“Just now.” He looked around the room. “Where your sitcase?”

“My what?”

“Your sitcase. You know...with clothes in it.”

“Oh, my suitcase.”


“In the closet. Why?”

“I take it downstairs for you!” He jumped off the bed and ran into the closet and returned, dragging the case with him. “It empty!”

“Uh huh.” Veronica sat up, clutching the covers and rubbed a hand over her face, trying to return from the Twilight Zone.

“But we going soon! You gotta hurry!”

“Hurry for what? Where are we going?”

Romeo rolled his eyes. “We going to Geese! You gotta pack....and make cookies!”


“Uh huh...somepace called Santa Rini. But Daddy doesn’t think dere’ll be elves der.”

It took her a couple minutes, but she thought she got it. “We’re going to Santorini in the Greek Islands?”

Romeo nodded. “Yup!”

“And when are we leaving?” Her mind started to spin. Jon had talked about taking a vacation, they’d even talked about possible locations, but nothing had been finalized – that she was aware of. Of course, she’d been pretty busy over the last week finishing her tour reports so that she could officially ignore Vince and actually call her time her own, for the first time since....she couldn’t remember when. It was possible that Jon had told her he’d booked something, but she didn’t think so – she was pretty sure she’d have remembered that.

“Right after lunch, so you might want to pack a few things.” Jon spoke as he entered the room.

Veronica frowned. “But your stitches....”

“We’re stopping by the doctor’s office on our way so they can take them out.” Jon watched her closely for her reaction. He glanced at his watch. “Seriously, honey, you don’t have a lot of time to get ready.”

She looked at the clock on the bedside table and stifled a panicked gasp. But she still couldn’t leave the bed. Ebony brows snapped into a frown. “A little advance notice would have been nice...and helpful...about a lot of things.” She clutched the covers tighter and gave Jon a meaningful look, with a quick glance towards Romeo. He hadn’t warned her that the kids were coming, and after their....exertions....the night before she hadn’t bothered to put on a nightgown.

“I wanted it to be a surprise. If I could have found a way to pack for you and not tell you at all, I would have, but I figured I’d forget something you really needed or wanted and it would spoil the holiday.” Realizing her predicament, he turned to his son. “Come on little man, let’s go make sure everything’s ready downstairs. We leave in a couple hours sugar.” He ducked out of the room, closing the door behind them before whatever missile she decided to throw could find his head.

As soon as the door clicked shut, Veronica jumped out of bed and ran for the shower. “A couple hours?! He thinks I can be ready to travel halfway around the world in a couple hours? He didn’t even tell me how long we’re going for!” If she wasn’t looking forward so much to the trip, she’d be seriously pissed at him.

The next two hours were a blur of activity for her as she showered, dressed and packed, thankful that she had a lot of her summer wardrobe with her and cursing Jon for not telling her soon enough to make a trip to Nashville to pick up a few things she’d left there, or at least have time to go shopping. Stephanie, who was helping her, suggested that in recompense he ought to buy her a few outfits once they got to Greece. Veronica decided she liked the way the girl thought. She did manage to be ready on time, much to Jon’s relief – and he was smart enough not to tell her that he’d built in extra time in case she couldn’t.

At the doctor’s office Jon suggested that she wait in the car with the kids while he went in and had his stitches removed and his wounds checked.

“Right. Like you’d tell me the truth about what they said and what instructions you’re given.” Veronica scoffed and climbed out of the car.

Jon sighed in resignation and followed.

Half an hour later they climbed back into the car. Veronica pulled a bottle of Advil out of her purse, shook two into her hand and held them out for Jon along with a bottle of water.

“I don’t need it.”

Veronica stared at him for a long moment. She knew he was in pain, she could see it in his eyes. “Humour me.”

With a heavy sigh, he took the pills and water, downing both. “There. Satisfied?” At her look and lifted brow, he grimaced. “Sorry. I do have a headache. Thank you.”

Stephanie caught Veronica’s eye and rolled hers. Veronica winked. He was learning.

The flight was long and boring, especially since they were flying commercial. Veronica had become used to the private plane and she missed the space to move around as she chose....and the more comfortable seating. She shifted in her chair and glanced around to check on the kids.

“What’s the matter? You’re as jumpy as a teenage boy waiting three minutes.”

She did a double take as his meaning sank in. “That was bad.” She shrugged. “I’m just a little uncomfortable...and I’m trying to keep an eye on Romeo.” She’d already noticed he tended to wander when he was bored.

“I know. Flying commercial sucks after the private plane, but I figured you’d nag me about the cost if I used it for something personal. And don’t worry about Romeo. We’re on a plane. He can’t go too far. The worst he’ll do is chat up some older lady and charm the flight attendants out of some cookies.”

Ten minutes later, as his father predicted, Romeo appeared beside her, holding out two mini packages of chocolate chip cookies. “Here ya go.”

“Thanks. Where did you get them?”

“Kathy gave me them.”


“Mmmhmm. Her.” Romeo motioned towards the flight attendant just coming through the curtains into the first class cabin. She waved at him. He waved back, then went back to his seat.

“Told ya.” Jon ripped open a package and bit into a cookie.

Veronica shook her head, wondering what else his wonderful children had in store for her.

Six sets of eyes were glued to the scenery visible outside the van’s windows on the trip between the airport and their hotel.

Veronica sighed in appreciation at the bright white buildings with their blue shutters. “Jon it’s beautiful!” She noticed Stephanie’s frown. “What’s the matter Steph?”

“It reminds me of something, but I can’t think......Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants!” Her brow cleared at the solution to the mystery. “It looks just like that movie.”

“I think it might have been filmed here.” Veronica replied.

“So, does that mean we get to ride donkeys?”

The boys perked up at that. “Really?”

“Can we?”


When Jon glanced at the driver, he nodded. “Nai. There are donkeys to ride up the hills.”

The room at the hotel was a two bedroom suite, and Veronica assumed that she’d be bunking with Stephanie again while Jon bunked with the boys. But Stephanie insisted that she’d stay with the boys – as long as there was a bathroom schedule to assure her some privacy.

Veronica pulled her aside. “It’s okay Steph, you don’t have to do that.”

“It’s fine. Really. You and Dad deserve some alone time this vacation too.”

As she walked away Veronica watched her. “Why do I have the feeling she’s up to something?”

Jon shrugged. “Don’t know. I gave up trying to figure out women’s minds a long time ago.”

“Too hard for you?”

“Too inconsistent for me. You all keep changing things all the time. My poor male brain can’t keep up.”

“It’s good to know you’re aware of your limitations.”

Jon opened his mouth and closed it, giving up the battle of words. “Yes dear.” Kissing her briefly, he went to call the concierge for a recommendation for a restaurant for dinner.

They all turned in early after deciding on their plan of action for the next day. They wandered all over the island, checking out the volcano crater and riding the donkeys, and admiring the unique architecture.

It was a couple days later that Veronica finally got her day at the beach. The white sand and clear blue water had been teasing her every time they got close enough to see it and she could hardly wait.

They’d been baking for an hour or so when refreshments became a priority. Jon took orders and went in search of cold beverages. Stephanie offered to go with him and help. It was on the return trip as they got near the blanket where Veronica and the boys were laying that he realized there was an ulterior motive to her helpfulness.

“Ronnie, are you going to marry Daddy?” Jake threw out the question at a nudge from his older brother. Jon just about tripped over his own feet, coming to a dead stop several feet away.

Veronica, stunned, wasn’t sure how to answer him. “I don’t know Jake. I don’t have any plans to.”

Jesse frowned. “Why not?”

“Well, for starters, he hasn’t asked me.”

“Way to go Dad.” Steph muttered, shaking her head in disgust.

“I’ve been a little busy, in case you haven’t noticed.” Jon replied in his own defence, keeping his voice low so that Veronica wouldn’t hear their discussion. “These things take timing and planning...and why am I discussing this with my daughter?”

“Because you need me to give you a push in the right direction. Why do you think I agreed to stay with the that you and Ronnie could have a room to this beautiful setting?” She rolled her eyes. “Do you need me to spell it out for you?”

“Why are you pushing this so hard?”

“Because I like her and she takes good care of you – whether you want her to or not. She’s probably the one woman in the world – other than Mom – who gets you, and she understands your lifestyle and career needs.” She paused. “And she makes you happy. Hold on tight to her Dad, don’t let her get away.”

“I don’t plan to.”

“Well then you’d better step up your game...cause what I’m seeing is pretty lame.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on Dad, your first vacation together, a romantic setting.....and you bring your kids?”

“She was happy you were coming with us.”

“Uh huh. But’re hope to convince this woman to marry you and be a part of your life forever. That takes romance and alone time, not kids in the next room!” She eyed him speculatively. “Do you even have a ring?”

“ yet. Don’t shake your head at me, I haven’t had time!”

“You and I will go shopping when we get home.”

“Why do you have to come with me?”

“Because I’ve seen Mom’s ring.” Stephanie started to walk towards Ronnie and her siblings.

“Hey! What’s wrong with it? She liked it!”

“She didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“I see you don’t seem to have the same problem.” Jon followed more slowly, at that moment wishing he’d left his daughter at home.

“Why are you asking about your Dad and I getting married?” Veronica posed the question to all the boys.

“Because we like you and we want you to stay.” Jake answered.

“I just hope Dad doesn’t screw it up this time.” Jesse muttered.

Veronica was surprised by his comment. She’d thought he’d gotten over his hostility towards his father. “You really need to give him a break Jess. He’s not a bad guy.”

Jesse just shrugged. “He was smart enough to find you. We’ll have to see if he’s smart enough to find a way to keep you.”

Jon was chagrinned to find out how little faith his oldest two had in his ability to make a relationship, but he guessed he couldn’t blame them. But he could – and would – prove them wrong.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chapter 131

It was as they were walking into the party that it hit Jon. The tour was over. They didn’t have to hide their relationship anymore – not that his staff and crew hadn’t figured it out anyway, but they hadn’t really advertised it to the world at large. As of tonight, he was released from his promise to keep his distance when there were outsiders around. Before he could take advantage of his new freedom, Veronica stepped away from him to speak to a couple of her co-workers – well, soon to be former co-workers. Jon turned from the bar, drinks in hand and went to join his girlfriend’s circle.

“No shit! You really quit?” Brent had flown in from L.A. He had a meeting at the New York office, but he really wanted to find out if the rumours floating around the office were true.

“Yep! Just have to finish my tour reports and I’m done.” Veronica assured him.

“Wow! I can’t believe you quit! What happened?” Melissa had been with the label almost as long as Veronica had, and never thought she’d see this day.

Veronica shrugged. “I just got fed up with Vince’s shit. I don’t need it. It’s time to move on.”

“No wonder Keith’s dancing around like he just won the lottery. He figures the last obstacle is out of his way and he just jumped to the top of the hierarchy in Vince’s books. He probably figures he’ll finally get the big names.” Brent shook his head. “And he may be right.”

“He won’t get us.” Jon stepped up beside Veronica and handed her a drink. “He doesn’t have the experience, or the skill to handle us.”

None of them were sure if he was referring to the band’s promotional needs or actually being able to handle the band members themselves – Jon in particular.

“What will you do then?” Melissa asked.

“We’ll do it in house like we’ve done for the last few years. I only want the label’s help this tour because of trying to break into the country side a little bit.” He met Veronica’s gaze. “I got what I wanted out of it....and then some.”

Melissa and Brent exchanged amused glances at Veronica’s pink cheeks and the sparks shooting between the couple opposite them.

“So you’re pleased with the result?” Melissa couldn’t resist a little double entendre of her own.

“Couldn’t be happier.” Jon kissed Veronica’s temple and hugged her close to his side.

“So Veronica, what are you going to do?”

It took her a moment to realize that Brent was referring to her career, not her personal life. “I’m not sure yet. Maybe switch companies....or maybe I’ll go freelance. I don’t really have to be attached to a label to promote an artist anymore. I have enough media contacts to make me an asset to anyone.” She took a sip. “Right now I just want to take a few days to rest....maybe take a vacation....then I’ll start thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

As they walked on to the next group, Jon kept his arm around her.

“What are you doing?” Veronica raised an ebony brow.

“What do you mean?”

“This.” She tapped his hand at her waist.

A wide grin spread across his face. “Tour’s over sweetheart. Public displays of affection are no longer banned.”

Veronica snorted. “Like that promise ever stopped you anyway.”

“Believe it or not, it did...a lot of the time.”

The thought was enough to make her shiver. “If that was you being subtle, I can’t imagine what you’d be like given free reign.”

“Stick around sugar, you’ll find out.” He glanced towards the stage at the end of the room where Paul was motioning to him. “Starting now.” Releasing her only to take her hand, lacing their fingers together, he strode the length of the room, towing her with him.

They climbed onto the stage to stand in front of the mic and Jon got the room’s attention. “When I had the idea to write a Nashville influenced album, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. And I didn’t have a great track record with my brilliant ideas. But this time I got lucky. With some great songs, excellent producers and wonderful guidance,” he winked at Veronica, “it was a bigger success than I could ever have hoped for. But the guys and I couldn’t have done it alone. To all the staff and crew I say a heartfelt thank you for all of your hard work over long hours with little sleep. I know it’s grueling, often unnoticed and thankless work, but you never failed to do what was asked of you, on time and with minimal bitching, and I want you to know I appreciate it. We owe a big debt to our families....those at home who let us go off and play for days and weeks and months and always welcome us home again with open arms – lord knows why, but thank God they do, and those who joined us on the road and stuck by us and with us. It’s your love and support that keeps us going.” He paused and looked at Veronica. “And Ronnie......I can’t thank you enough for all of your help and guidance in this experiment...and kicking my ass when I needed it.”

“That’s a full time job!” Came from the back of the room.

“Fuck you Joker! Watch it or I’m going to sick her on you next!” Jon saluted David, then turned back to Veronica while the crowd laughed. “We owe a big chunk of the success of this album and tour to you. You took my hopes and dreams for this album and made them come true. I....” He had to stop and swallow. “There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude. I am so blessed to have you in my life again. I thank you. I love you.” Leaning over, he kissed her, thoroughly, to rousing cheers. When he lifted his head, he scanned the room. “Each and every one of you had a part in making my vision become reality, and you will forever have my gratitude. Now...go home, rest, reconnect with your families....and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to do it all over again. Thank you!”

For the next several hours, they toured around – always together, Jon wasn’t letting go of her – making sure they talked to everyone. Veronica could see his energy flagging, but also knew he wouldn’t leave until the end.

“So what’s next on your schedule little girl?”

“Sleep, finish up tour reports, sleep, maybe go lie on a beach somewhere, did I mention sleep?” Veronica answered. “Then I’ll take some time to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.”

“I’m sure Kidd has a few suggestions.” Richie pointed out.

“I’m sure he does. And I’ll take them into consideration.”

“First is a vacation.” Jon joined them, carrying fresh drinks. “Then we’ll talk about what comes going down to Nashville and packing up her apartment.”

“What makes you so sure I want to move in with you?”

“Because you love my house and my kids.....and you can’t leave me alone in there with the furball!” He brushed her ear with his lips and murmured. “Plus I can offer a few fringed benefits.”

Veronica blushed and swatted his chest, but her amethyst eyes sparkled at him. “Pretty cocky, aren’t you?”

“No, that’s me.” Richie argued.

“Ugh! Jughead! I didn’t need that visual in my head!”

“Trust me sugar, I’ve seen’s not that spectacular.”

“So says the man who admits he’s built like a second grader.”

“Boys! Please! Can we leave the school yard behind?” Veronica shook her head. “What are you? Four? No, scratch that, Romeo’s better behaved than you two!”

Finally, there was only a handful of people left and Jon agreed it was time to go home. They climbed into the town car, relaxing back against the seat with identical sighs. The car hadn’t gone two blocks before Jon reached over to adjust her position until he could lean back against her, his head resting on her shoulder and closed his eyes.

Veronica’s lips curved into a gentle smile and her fingers sifted through his hair, tousling it slightly. “Tired?”


“Well, you can sleep as late as you want tomorrow.”

“Only if you stay in bed and cuddle with me.”

“I might be able to arrange that.” The idea of a lazy day in bed had definite appeal.

Jon drifted off, soothed and sedated by her hands, one playing with his hair, the other rubbing his chest.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chapter 130

The next day was indeed a very long one – for both of them.

Veronica let Jon sleep until the absolute last minute while she got up and dealt with all the little details that always cropped up on a show day.

Jon couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept so late. Of course, Veronica taking his phone out of the room may have had something to do with it. And there was no doubt that he’d needed it. Now if only he could get away without admitting that to her. Damn woman was always right and it was annoying as hell! He wondered how long it was going to take to get used to it. But he had to admit – at least to himself – that it was nice having someone who cared so much about his well being – and was willing to fight for it. Unfortunately for him, his body told him the moment he woke up that it had recovered from the excesses of the previous day......but he was alone in the big bed – well, except for the furball curled up beside him. That was something else he was going to have to work on – not getting rid of the furball, he didn’t think Veronica or his kids would let him do that – but he’d become used to going to sleep and waking with Veronica in his arms, and he found it somehow calming....centring...and he wanted it to continue indefinitely.

Climbing into the backseat of the town car with her, he reached out to take her hand and lace their fingers together. He leaned over to kiss her. “Thank you.”

“For what? And if you say ‘for loving me’ I’ll smack you.”

Jon laughed. “Well, that was at the top of my list, but I was going to say for letting me sleep and looking after everything this morning.” He squeezed her hand. “And for caring enough to kick my ass when I need it. I know I was a stupid, stubborn ass yesterday, and I’m sorry.” His mind was tossing around several ways to make it up to her.

“You’re welcome. Just don’t make a habit of it.”

He didn’t want to talk about that. Hoping to distract her he nuzzled under her ear. “I missed you this morning.”

“So you’ve recovered then.”

So she hadn’t missed his lack of response in the dressing room shower. He grimaced. “Yes.” Leaning back a little, he leered at her in her black leather mini skirt and red halter top, absently wondering if she knew what that particular outfit did to him. “Want me to prove it?”

The husky tone of his voice sent little shivers down her spine, her body reminding her that she’d been deprived last night too. Jesus! Stop acting like a nymphomaniac! It’s only been a little over twenty-four hours! But the signals he was sending out that he was ready and willing sparked an instant response in her libido. It had always been like that with him. A look, a word, a touch, and her body revved up. It was scary and thrilling and she’d never found that with any other man. But they didn’t have time to indulge at the moment. “Mmmm...maybe later....if you’re still up for it.”

The twinkle in her eyes told him she was teasing. “Oooh, a challenge! You’re on sugar!”

Veronica chuckled and leaned her head on his shoulder. She was glad this was the last day of the tour. She was tired. All she wanted to do was take a few days to rest then she’d have to figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life.

Jon buried his nose in her hair. “Tired sugar?”


“What do you think about taking a vacation? Just us...and maybe the kids?”

“That sounds like heaven. As long as there isn’t any cables for Romeo to trip over or lights to fall on your head. I’ve had about all the injury excitement I can stand for awhile.”

“You and me both honey. One accident free vacation coming up.” He’d do everything he could to make that promise come true, but with his boys, anything could, and often did, happen.

The interviews were mostly the usual pain in his ass with the added pleasure of questions about how he was feeling and what had happened. Apparently news of the falling lights had gotten around. He sighed in relief as the door closed behind the last reporter. “If falling lights don’t kill me, answering the same fucking questions over and over might!”

“Well, you’re done...for today anyway.” Veronica would have liked to assure him that he was finished for more than just today, but they both knew the business too well. Closing her note book she eyed him. “Go rest now. I’ll bring you something to eat in a little while.” The advantage to doing more than one show in the same place was that sound check wasn’t usually necessary unless Jon wanted to work on something.

Jon frowned. “I don’t need to...” He caught himself just in time. “Yes dear.”

“Thank you.” Veronica kissed him and left the room heading for the ‘office’. If he was serious about taking a vacation she needed to do some work on her reports.

Jon ignored the smirks and shocked looks from his bandmates and left to spend some quality time with the couch in his dressing room.

By the end of the show, he was tired. More tired than usual, but not nearly as tired as he’d been the night before and he figured he had Veronica’s pushing him to rest to thank for that. He was looking forward to resting even more...with her...somewhere away from all the madness. Before following orders and napping, he’d made a couple phone calls to set their vacation plans in motion. Now he just had to get through the end of tour party.

Descending from the stage, he wiped his face with a towel and glanced around, wondering where his delectable girlfriend had gotten to. The question was answered as the door to his dressing room swung open. Veronica was leaning against the table scrolling though messages on her phone.

She glanced up at his entrance. “Hey. Great show. How do you feel?”

Jon closed the door, locked it and walked over to stand in front of her. Sweaty arms reached out to pull her against an equally sweaty chest, smooth palms cruised down her back to cup her ass...and squeeze. “Not as good as you do.”

Veronica grinned, set down her phone and looped her arms around his neck. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” His lips captured hers. The kiss started out gentle, but heated rapidly as their passion soared.

Breathless, she broke the kiss to suck in oxygen. “Are you sure you’re up to this?”

Jon took a step, pushing her back against the table and pressing their hips together. “What do you think?”

A low purr rumbled in her throat and her hand slid down to cup his hardness through his pants. “I think I’m hoping you locked the door.”

Gripping her hips, he lifted her onto the table and nudged her knees apart until he could stand in between. “I did.”

Taking possession of her mouth again, his tongue explored the warmth behind her teeth while his hands roamed her body seeking the heat of her skin. The scrape of his calluses brought out goosebumps on her already sensitive skin. When her hands slid under his shirt to lift it off, he thought that was a good idea and started to return the favour. But once her breasts were revealed he got distracted. He filled his hands with her mounds, massaging, squeezing, teasing her hard nipples. In return, Veronica let her hands drift over his chest and stomach, nails scraping lightly until she reached the waistband of his pants. She quickly opened them and reached inside for her prize, tracing his length with her fingertips and rubbing her thumb over his swollen head, toying with him, teasing him.

Groaning at her ministrations, Jon’s hands slid down her sides to grip her skirt and tug it upward until her treasure was accessible. He moved the scrap of lace between her legs out of his way and probed the opening to her core, testing her readiness. His fingers were met with wetness and heat. Three fingers disappeared inside her and he shuddered. He wanted to take his time, to tease her, but one touch of her hot, clinging flesh told him that his control wasn’t strong enough for that to happen.

Stepping even closer, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away. “Sorry sugar, I can’t wait.” His fingers slipped out of her body, but before she could protest they were replaced with his hard shaft. Jon held still. “Jesus! You’re so fucking hot!”

When he remained motionless, Veronica wriggled and crooked a brow at him. “What are you doing?” A concerned frown creased her forehead. “Is something wrong? Are you in pain?”

“Just the sweet pain of pleasure.” He assured her. “I’m just enjoying the feel of being buried inside you....feeling the throb of your heartbeat pulsing against my flesh.” His voice lowered to a gravelling whisper. “Can’t you feel me? Feel me stretching you? Absorbing your heat and growing even more?”

She could. Man, could she ever! And his talking about it only focused her attention on it even more. Her mouth went dry and she swallowed heavily. But two could play that game. Lifting her legs, she wrapped them around his hips, pulling him deeper yet. She leaned her head back a bit to watch his reaction as she flexed her internal muscles, rhythmically squeezing and releasing his imbedded erection.

“Oooh FUCK! Jesus!” Jon’s eyes shut and his head fell back. “Jesus!”

“Like that do you?”

Sapphire eyes glittered down at her just before his lips took possession of hers once again, tongue stabbing deeply, repeatedly, almost harshly. That rhythm was matched seconds later by the other column of flesh filling another orifice. Jon thrust hard and deep, his hips moving faster and faster as he pounded into her.

“Mmmmm.” The moan purred in her throat – her mouth was otherwise occupied and unable to articulate her feelings any other way.

Jon ignored her. He barely heard her. His senses were completely centred on sensation – specifically the sensation of his body sliding into hers. She held him so tightly he was sure his nerve endings were going to explode. Now this is a body glove! Over and over he withdrew only to thrust deeply again. Her scream as an orgasm ripped through her body went unnoticed. All it meant was that he’d lost the taste of her when she broke the kiss. So he shifted to her neck and ear. “Fuck Nica! You feel so damn good. I can’t get enough! I need more!”

Veronica gripped his shoulders, held on and focused on breathing. “Yes.....Johnny! Oh....oh...oh God...mmmm. Oh..oh..oh...oh..oh...OH YES JOHNNY YES!”

Jon locked his knees, praying his legs would support him, his teeth sinking into her delicate neck, while his release was pumped from his body into hers. It took several minutes before he could draw a deep breath. “Jesus Nica!”

“Mmmm. If this is what I get when you’re recovering from a head wound, I may have to arrange to have things fall on you on a regular basis!”

He chuckled and kissed her. “I think we can find a less painful way of.....inspiring me.” His hands stroked up and down her back. “Like this outfit, for instance.”

“You like it huh?”

“Do you need more proof?” He kind of hoped she said no. He needed a little time to recuperate and recharge.

Veronica shivered at the thought. “Maybe later. We’ve got a party to get to.” She smiled wryly. “And I need some time to recover.”

Several minutes later, they were still in the same position. Catching a glimpse of the clock on the wall, Jon sighed and nudged her let. “Sorry sugar, but if we’re going to make the party, you’ll have to let me go so I can shower.”

A full red lip came out in a pout, but she unlocked her feet and let them drop towards the floor, releasing him. “Now I remember why I prefer making love at home.”


“I can crawl into bed and sleep afterwards.”

“Aren’t I supposed to be the one falling asleep afterwards?” He grinned.

“What can I say babe? You wear me out.” She felt too sated and relaxed to even be annoyed at his smug look.

“Good. Then I’m upholding my end in this relationship.” He kissed her once more, then tore himself away and headed for the shower.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chapter 129

The show went off without a hitch and only someone watching Jon very closely – like Veronica was – would notice the slight flinches when he twisted a certain way or reached too far, or when Richie’s solo hit high notes or when Tico hit the drums especially hard.

When they gathered at the front of the stage for the bows, she headed to his dressing room to wait for him. As soon as the door closed behind him, his shoulders slumped and he buried his face in the towel he carried.

Without a word Veronica pulled his shirt off and inspected his back. “Sit down.” She helped him into a chair and urged his head back, massaging his temples with her fingers.

With a heavy sigh, he relaxed against her and let her fingers work their magic. “Mmmmm. That feels good.”

After five or ten minutes, she nudged him. “Ready for the shower?”

He would have preferred to stay right where he was, but he did feel a little grungy – dried sweat wasn’t the most comfortable covering against his skin - and he knew he must smell. Groaning, he stood, shucked his boots and pants and headed for the shower.

Veronica stood near the bathroom door and listened while she slowly undressed. It only took a few minutes before she heard swearing. Grabbing a towel she went to help. She found him leaning against the wall, shampoo in his hand. “Here, let me help you.”

Jon glanced at her and scowled. “I’m fine!”

“Uh huh.” Stepping into the shower stall, she took the shampoo from him and poured some into her palm. She washed and rinsed his hair thoroughly, but carefully, avoiding his wounds as much as possible.

Breath hissed through his teeth as soap hit his still tender flesh. “Fuck!”

Murmuring sympathetically, Veronica worked up a lather and used her hands as a cloth to wash his body.

Jon watched her, blue flames burning in his eyes. He wasn’t sure what pissed him off more...the weakness that he felt but didn’t want to admit to, or the fact that he had her naked and wet in front of him and didn’t have the strength or the energy to do a damn thing about it!

A flick of her hand turned off the water and Veronica stepped out of the shower. Sensing his mood, she dried off in silence and wrapped the towel around her body then turned to him. She handed him a towel then took another one to gently blot his back and hair. When she knelt to dry his legs, he stepped away.

“I can do it, I’m not a child!”

Biting her tongue, she dropped the towel and walked out of the bathroom and started to dress. It was going to be a long night.

A few minutes later he joined her and they dressed in silence. Veronica watched him warily in the mirror as she finished her makeup. She had a suggestion, but had a feeling it wasn’t going to be well received.

“I think maybe we should skip the party tonight and just go home.” Having lobbed the bomb she braced herself for the explosion.

His frown was was his response. “No.”

“Jon, you need to rest. You must be tired. You’re barely out of the hospital. You have a concussion and the doctor warned you to take it easy. If you push yourself too hard you’re going to make yourself sick! You don’t need to go to the party.”

“Yes I do. People will expect me to be there. I’m fine.” He was exhausted, but he’d never admit it.

Veronica reached deeper for more patience. “’s been a long day, you did a great show. You’ve got another one to do tomorrow, plus interviews and the end of tour party that you have to be at....let’s just go home tonight. Please?”

His jaw firmed. “No. I’ll be fine. It’s my job to be there.”

“No, it’s your job to do interviews and perform on that stage! And you need to be healthy to do that – or at least to do it well enough to satisfy me and yourself. And right now that means you need to go home and rest tonight!”

“Ronnie, quit harping at me! I know how I feel better than you do and I’m fine! I’ll decide what I need!”

Her temper snapped. “Fine! Do whatever the hell you want! If schmoozing with a room full of people is more important than your health, go right ahead. Ignore the people that love you and want you to take care of yourself. You know best. What do I care if you want to kill yourself for the sake of your fucking ego! I survived losing you once, I guess I can survive it again.” She grabbed her bag, and stalked to the door. “Be a stubborn jackass if you want, but I’m going home!” Yanking the door open, she stepped through the opening. “I’ll send the car back for you.” She slammed the door behind her and stalked down the hallway.

Jon blew out a breath, dropped his head back and stared at the ceiling. “FUCK!”

“Hey Ronnie.” Matt’s greeting died as he got a good look at her face. “Are you okay? What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

“Your brother’s a stubborn ass!” She didn’t stop to chat.

“So nothing new then.” Matt fell into step with her. “Are you going to the party or home?”

“Home. I’m taking the town car. He can do whatever he wants. I’ll send the car back for him.”

“Okay. Sleep well Sis.” He paused. “For what it’s worth, he will see that you’re right....eventually.” He had no doubt that whatever the argument was about, Veronica was in the right.

“Before or after he hurts himself more?”

“Well, that would be the question. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see the answer.”

“If he doesn’t hurt himself I may have to do it for him!” They’d arrived at the door where the town car was waiting. Matt held the car door for her. “Thanks Matty, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Nite Sis. I’ll keep an eye on him tonight.”

All the way to Jersey Veronica sat silently in the back of the car, staring out the window and simmering. The thought of Jon hurting and all because he was too stubborn to listen to her and take care of himself was enough to make her want to scream – or hit something. She wasn’t really surprised at his decision – she knew him too well to think he would do anything else – but it didn’t make it any less frustrating.

At the house she poured herself a glass of wine, sat down on the couch, closed her eyes and tried to calm down and unwind enough to go to sleep. A few minutes later, the cushion beside her sagged as Boots joined her. “Hey there kiddo. What have you been up to since we left?”

“Meow.” She looked around the room then stared at the empty doorway.

Veronica smiled wryly. “Sorry, he’s not here. The stubborn control freak insisted on going to the party, even though he should be home resting.” She sighed and smoothed her hand over the kitten’s fur. “Why won’t he listen to me Boots? All I’m trying to do is look out for him and do what’s best for him. He doesn’t take very good care of himself, and pushes himself too hard. I just want him healthy and strong so that he can be here for the kids and for me for a long, long time. Why does he insist that he knows better and act like I’m just trying to be a bitch?”


“I don’t know either. He didn’t even discuss it with me, just shot down my suggestion and told me to stop harping at him. I know he loves me, but if he wants me to be a part of his life, he’s got to let me be a part of his decision making. I want to be his partner, not his employee.” She drained her glass. “Come on Boots, this isn’t going to be solved tonight, so let’s go to bed.”

Jon sighed in relief as the car passed through the gates. He felt like a bag of shit. His head was pounding, he’d been fighting nausea pretty much since they’d left New York, and he hadn’t felt this tired since his last trip to Australia. Actually, this was worse than any jet lag he’d ever experienced. All he wanted was to crawl into bed with Ronnie and sleep for a week. The thought of doing another show tomorrow made his stomach clench. He should have listened to her. He wasn’t up to the party. But he’d wanted to prove to everyone that he was...well....Superman. Idiot! Stupid, stubborn, idiot! You deserve to feel like this!

The house was in total darkness. There wasn’t even a single light left on for him. Standing in the foyer he felt a jolt of panic. He’d just assumed when she said she was going home that she meant this home. What if she meant her home...or a hotel or something? Despite feeling like death warmed over, he practically ran up the stairs and into his room, his relief at seeing her curled up asleep in his bed was almost overwhelming.

Pulling off his clothes, he left them in a heap on the floor and climbed into bed, shooing Boots off his pillow. He curled his body around Veronica’s, slid his arm over her waist and breathed in her scent and her nearness. When she shifted slightly, he squeezed her tighter. “Do you ever get tired of being right?”

“Are you ever going to get tired of being proven wrong all the time or will you finally accept that, as your head of promotions and someone who loves you, I’m only looking out for your best interests - both professionally and personally - and listen to me? Or are we going to butt heads forever?” At his silence she turned enough to see his face, raised a brow and waited.

Jon grimaced and sighed. “I know you’re doing what you think is best for me.” Her eyes narrowed. “And most of the time you’re right.” He admitted. “It’s just.....hard for me to give up control.”

“I’m not asking you to give up control, just...share it a little....with me. Trust my judgement. Include my opinion in your decision making, don’t just ignore it. Let me be your partner, not just an employee.”

Despite his own pain, he could see hers in the violet depths of her eyes. He knew he’d pissed her off earlier by dismissing her concern and suggestion, but he didn’t realize how much he’d hurt her. Dorothea used to just shake her head and let him find the errors of his ways on his own and either fix it or live with the consequences. Obviously Veronica didn’t want to do things that way. But he’d looked after everything himself for so long, he didn’t know if he could give up even that little bit of control. But he also knew that if he wanted to keep Veronica in his life he was going to have to find a way. He lifted a hand to caress her cheek with his fingertips. “I’ll....try. I promise.”

She knew that was the best she was going to get. “How bad do you feel?”

“A combination of the worst hangover and jetlag of my life.” He searched her eyes. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you, and I’m sorry I hurt you. I never meant to do that.”

“I know you didn’t. You need to work on that.”

“I will. I promise.” Jon kissed her gently. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Get some sleep. You’ve got a long day tomorrow.”

“Yes, dear.”

“That’s better.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chapter 128

“I can’t believe you’re letting him do the show.”

Veronica looked at Richie as they walked down the hall and snorted. “Do you really think I could stop him?”

“If anyone could it would be you.”

“Well I don’t have an army to enforce my wishes, so I all I could do was voice my concerns and try to find a compromise we can both live with.”

“What did you get him to agree to?”

“To rest before and after sound check and to take it a little easy during the show.”

“Really? Nice job.”

“Pfft! Like I had a choice.” She watched a crew member duck around the corner of the stage and brush by them like he didn’t want to be seen. “What’s with him?”

“That’s the lighting grip.”

“Ah. Well, at least he’s still breathing.”

As they approached the stage they saw Jon stomping around.

“What the hell is that doing there? You didn’t succeed in killing me the first time so someone thought they’d try again?”

“Jon.” One word and a look from her was all it took.

Jon grimaced. “I know, I know. Will someone please move that? Thank you.”

David and Tico moved from their stations to stand centre stage. Richie joined them and the three of them faced Veronica, raised their hands and bowed. “Oh great Tamer of the Beast...we’re not worthy of being in your presence.”

“Fuck you assholes.” Jon saluted them.

Veronica laughed. “It’s all about providing the right incentive.”

“Well, that cuts us out then,” Richie sighed. “We don’t have the ability to provide the same incentive that you do little girl.”

Jon and Veronica exchanged remembering looks and knowing smiles.

“Before you two start getting it on right here, can I ask that you finish sound check first? I need to check camera angles as well.” Tony called from the pit area. Thinking about his words, he rushed to clarify. “For the DVD....of the concert, not your sexual activities – although some fans might be just as happy with that.” Chuckling at himself, he ignored the stinkeye Jon was sending his way. The look Veronica was giving him, however, made him squirm. “Sorry Ronnie.”

“Pervert.” Jon scowled at his brother.

The guys settled in to work and Veronica settled into a seat in the pit to watch. Not really paying attention to the music or the discussion, she studied Jon’s face. Even the pressure of his guitar strap made him flinch. Stubborn man! He needed someone to save him from himself! By the time the show was over he’d be lucky to be able to stand, but she knew it would take more than a little pain – or a lot for that matter – to keep him off that stage. She’d just have to be prepared to deal with the aftermath.

The buzzing of her phone in her pocket jerked her attention away from the stage. Seeing her boss’ number, she stood and headed for the relative quiet of the hallway. She had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a pleasant conversation. “Hi Vince.”

“Veronica, what the hell’s going on? Why were the interviews scheduled for today cancelled?”

“They weren’t cancelled, they were rescheduled for tomorrow. I wanted....”

“You wasted a whole day fucking around with your boyfriend when you could have been doing interviews?” Vince’s anger practically vibrated through the phone line.

“No!” Veronica threw open the door to Jon’s dressing room and slammed it behind her. “I was protecting our asset! Or didn’t your little spy tell you about Jon’s accident?” She no longer cared about being respectful to her boss. For all she cared he could fire her!

“What, the lights falling on him? Yes I heard about it. But since the shows are still a go he couldn’t have been hurt that badly.”

Veronica scoffed. “He could have been killed! You know Jon. He could be on his deathbed and still insist on going on stage! He has eighteen stitches in his head and multiple cuts and bruises on his back. He needed to rest and recuperate enough to be able to do the show tonight more than we needed him to do interviews today.”

“Your job is to promote the band, not play nursemaid to your boyfriend.”

“Without a healthy Jon there is no band!” She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “There’s only two shows left. Selling out in New York is never a problem. These interviews are not going to make or break the tour. Jon being incapacitated, however, will. I’m looking out for the long term here.”

“I think you’re letting your personal feelings cloud your professional judgement.”

“Heaven forbid I actually care about people.” The sarcasm was thick in her voice. That had always been her one big beef with the way Vince ran things. He tended to forget that the artists were people, not just a commodity. Maybe she was tired or maybe it was the relief of the pain and self doubt that she’d been carrying around for twenty years or maybe it was the fact that she was no longer trying to bury her feelings and hide from her life in work, or maybe it was knowing that Jon was there to love and support her.....whatever it was, she’d had enough of Vince’s crap. “Since I’ve got you on the phone, I want to let you know, that this will be my last job for Mercury Records. I’ll finish up Bon Jovi’s tour and do the final report, and then I’m done. You’ll have my letter of resignation tomorrow.”

“What are you going to do? Play house with your boyfriend full time?” He didn’t really believe she would quit.

“At least my boyfriend appreciates my skills!” Veronica wished she could reach through the phone line and slap him. “As for what I’m going to do.....I’ve had several offers to choose from.”

“Now Veronica, there’s no need for any hasty decisions. We can work this out.” Vince sounded a little nervous.

“No, we can’t. I need to be respected and appreciated by the people I work with and for, and I can no longer find that at Mercury. It’s time for me to move on.”

“Well, we’ll miss you.” He didn’t try to talk her out of it. He’d worked with her long enough to know when she’d made her mind up and when she could be persuaded.

It was all Veronica could do not to snort. What he was really concerned about was Jon’s reaction – and he should be. But Veronica was too professional to use her influence to be vindictive.

Jon stood in the doorway and debated whether to let on he’d heard her conversation...or rather how much to admit to her he’d heard. There was no way he could pretend he hadn’t heard anything. Part of him was furious with Vince for putting her in this position, but part of him was thrilled that she’d quit. Now she could come work for him. As much as he wanted that to happen he knew that now was not the time to push it. She needed some time to rest up from the tour, process everything and decide what she wanted to do. It would kill him not to push her, but he was on the verge of getting everything he wanted as far as her place in his life and he didn’t want to fuck it up.

As she hung up the phone he stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’m proud of you.”

Veronica was slightly startled – she hadn’t heard him open the door – and wondered how much he’d heard. Leaning back against him, she sighed heavily. “What for?”

“For standing up for what you believe in. For holding on to your humanity in a business that becoming more and more jaded and automated.” He nuzzled under her ear, then traced its contours with the tip of his tongue. “For being the considerate, caring woman that I love.”

She smiled and turned her head to kiss him. “I love you too.” She rubbed her palm over the back of his hand and forearm. “How’s your back?”


“Would you tell me if it wasn’t?”

“Of course.”


Jon chuckled and squeezed her. “It’s a bit sore, but it’ll be okay.”

She twisted out of his arms. “Let me see.”

With a tolerant sigh, he turned his back and let her lift his t-shirt to examine his cuts, shivering slightly when she traced them lightly with a fingertip. “See. It’s fine.”

“Mmmhmm. I don’t see any oozing.” She pulled down his shirt and lifted his hair to check his head wounds. “But you haven’t put it to the test yet.” She nudged him towards the couch. “Lay down. I’ll bring you something to eat.”

He wanted to argue, but thought better of it. He wasn’t up to fighting with her. Besides, he wanted a few minutes of privacy to make a phone call of his own. “Yes dear....but only if you sit and eat with me. Deal?”

“Deal.” She lifted her face and kissed him.

As soon as the door closed behind her, he pulled out his phone and scrolled through the saved numbers until he found the one he was looking for. “Vince? Jon Bon Jovi. Can you tell me what the hell is going on?”

“Um....I’m not sure what you’re referring to Jon.” Vince felt his tension rise.

“I just heard that Ronnie quit, but she won’t tell me why.” It was only a little white lie. “Now, there are very few reasons that I can come up with why she would quit a job that she loved as much as she loved this one.....and they all come back to you. I know it can’t be because she’s not doing a good job. She’s one of the best in the business.”

“Of course you think so.” Vince muttered.

“Pardon? I didn’t catch that.” Come on, say it asshole!

“She’s had a bit of difficulty with her priorities over the last few months. I think she’s forgotten how rock tours work.”

“Everything looks great from my end. The numbers are all I had hoped for. So I’m not sure what the problem is.” He allowed an edge to creep into his voice. “Unless you’re talking about her personal relationship with me. But that can’t be it. What she does on her own time is her business. And you know her well enough to know that she’d never allow her personal life to interfere with her job performance.” His voice got a little harsher. “And you know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t allow it either. I would hate to think that the head of my record label would make life difficult for one of their top staff members just because they were dating one of the artists – or because his pet staffer wanted that job even though he’s not skilled enough to do it. I don’t condone that type of behaviour.It might make me think long and hard about where I park my contract.”

“It’s about conflict of interest...” Vince began.

“Have you seen any evidence of that?” Jon interrupted.

“Well, no, not so far.”

“Then there’s no problem. There’s also no excuse for harassing her! Is there?”

Vince sighed, but knew when to cut his losses. He couldn’t afford to lose the band. “No.”

“So we understand each other?”


“Good. And I know that if Ronnie needs a reference you’ll do the right thing.”

“Of course.”

“Great. I need to go rest now before the show. Nice talking to you Vince.” Hanging up, he tossed the phone onto his dressing table. “Asshole!” He grabbed a pillow and stretched out on the couch. It was getting harder to keep his eyes open. Damn woman’s right again!