“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?”
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.”
“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!