It was almost a month later and Jon was more frustrated than he’d been in his life – or at least in a very long time. He wasn’t the type of man to sit around and wait for something he wanted. And right now what he wanted was to marry Veronica. But he had yet to find the perfect time or scenario to start the conversation. And with everything she’d been through, she deserved it to be perfect.
But his life had been crazy the last few weeks. Between meetings and conference calls for the Soul and the AFL - which looked like it was going to fold despite the best efforts of him and several other owners – and projects for the Foundation, his days and good chunks of his evenings were tied up. Plus there were a number of charity functions at this time of year that he always attended. On the positive side, Veronica attended with him, allowing him to show her off and publically claim her as his. In addition, she was helping organize his schedule, was his sounding board for his AFL frustrations and Foundation ideas – and helped with promoting them.
But all of that didn’t leave much time to talk about personal things. And what little time they did have often included the kids. The kids.....he loved his kids, but he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t a little thankful that they were back in school and too busy to want to come over so much. He couldn’t take much more of Stephanie’s disappointed looks and Jesse’s angry ones. He wasn’t dragging his heels on purpose dammit!
To top it all off, Veronica was acting....distant....unsettled. He had hoped that it would get better over time, but it was getting worse. When the kids were around she was her usual, happy self, but when it was just them, she got quiet, introverted. Their intimate moments were still incredible – in fact, each time they made love was better than the last – but more and more often he would walk into a room and find her staring out the window or just into space, lost in thought. And she wouldn’t talk to him about it. Something was obviously bothering her, but he couldn’t get her to tell him what it was. He needed to find out....and soon. But it wouldn’t be tonight. Tonight they had another function. This one involved a lot of people in the music business, including some of Veronica’s former colleagues and bosses and she might need his support.
“Zip me up?”
He was pulled from his thoughts by Veronica entering the bedroom from the closet. His mouth went dry at the sight of her. The silk sheath that covered her to mid thigh clung faithfully to her curves. The halter style neckline bared her arms and shoulders, the keyhole opening drew the male eye to the teasing peek of cleavage. He’d never shared Richie’s love of purple, but he had to admit that this particular shade had become a favourite – it matched her eyes and was a perfect contrast to the midnight of her hair.
“Jon?” Veronica peered over her shoulder at him.
“Sorry.” He reached for the little metal tab and reluctantly pulled upwards. “I’d rather unzip it.”
Her low throaty chuckle didn’t help the fit of his pants. Neither did her murmured promise. “Later.”
Jon sighed and let his gaze roam the room in search of his girlfriend. It seemed he’d spent most of the night in that endeavour. Normally at the functions they attended she stuck pretty close to him, but here she was in her element. These were her people. Even coming upon her former bosses didn’t create the awkward moments he had anticipated. It seemed no one was surprised that she’d quit – sad to see her go, but not surprised – so the mantle of supportive boyfriend he’d been prepared to wear had been unnecessary.
A splash of violet caught his eye and he turned towards it to see Veronica sitting at a table in deep conversation with....Keith Urban, their heads bent close together. Jon frowned and started to make his way towards them. He had only taken three steps when Steven Tyler joined them. Seeing Keith put his arm around Veronica’s shoulders to hug her and her head thrown back in laughter at something Steven said stirred something dark inside him and his frown deepened.
It took him another fifteen minutes to reach the table – people kept stopping him to chat. It was all he could do to be polite. When he finally arrived at Veronica’s side, Steven and Keith were rising from their seats.
Veronica handed both of them business cards. “Call me and we can discuss it further.”
Keith studied the card. “It’s okay to call your cell?”
“Yeah. I don’t really have an office. I’m working out of the house.”
“Okay, I’ll give you a call next week. And I’ll spread the word.” Keith hugged her and kissed her cheek. “It was great to see you again. Take care.” He shook Jon’s hand and stepped into the crowd.
“Hey man!” Steven greeted Jon.
“Hey how’s it going?” Jon shook his hand and laid a proprietary arm around Veronica, hugging her to his side.
Steven raised a brow at her. “You’re with him?”
“Yes she is.” Jon answered before Veronica could. “Something wrong with that?”
Steven held up his hands. “Don’t get your panties in a twist man. I was just wondering why she would be looking for clients if she was with you. Or is she not working with you?”
Jon turned to Veronica and waited, as interested in her answer as Steven was.
“Yes I am but his tour is done now and I need something to keep me busy.” Veronica answered, ignoring the temper she could sense building in the man beside her. “I can’t sit around for a year or so, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the next one.
“I can understand that.” Steven nodded. “Okay, I’ll give you a call and we’ll talk.”
“Thanks Steven.” She reached out to shake his hand.
Steven turned to Jon. “Good to see you man. Give me a call the next time you’re in L.A. and we’ll get together.”
“Sounds good. I’ll do that.” They shook hands again.
The car had barely pulled away from the curb when Veronica turned to Jon. “I know you’re pissed at me and I know why.” He’d barely spoken to her since their conversation with Steven. “I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about my job plans before hand. I’ve been rolling the idea around for awhile, but hadn’t reached a firm decision. Running into Keith tonight just seemed like a sign. Don’t worry, Jovi will be my first priority.”
Jon waved that aside. “I’m not concerned about us. I know I can count on you. And I know we’re not enough to keep you busy. I’d just like to know why you couldn’t talk to me about this earlier....why I had to be the last to know.” He paused. “Is this what’s had you so distracted lately?”
She nodded. “I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do careerwise.”
He tried to keep the lid on his temper, he really did. It worked for all of about thirty seconds. “Dammit Ronnie why couldn’t you talk to me about it? Aren’t we supposed to share these things? I talk to you about every aspect of my life, but you’re still locking me out of big chunks of yours. WHY CAN’T YOU TRUST ME?”
Her eyes closed as she fought back tears. He was right and she knew it. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry.” Jon sighed and took a tighter grip on his temper. “Why? Can you at least tell me that?”
“I guess I’ve been on my own so long I’ve forgotten what it was like to have someone –other than the girls – to really share things with. I’ve had to make life decisions on my own and it’s become habit.”
“Well, I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere. Try to remember that and talk to me. Will you do that for me please?”
Veronica nodded and turned her head to stare out the window. The car was silent the rest of the way home.
The next morning Jon went looking for Veronica and finally tracked her down in the room next to his office. Dorothea had used it as a sitting/reading room, but he’d never found a use for it. It had a couch, coffee table and a couple chairs in it, and that was about it.
Veronica had her laptop set up on the coffee table, her phone lying beside it. Obviously she was using the room as an office. Why hasn’t she gotten at least a desk? It was then that it hit him.....she was living in his house but she hadn’t made it her home....she hadn’t settled in. And that’s why she hadn’t talked to him about her career ideas either. She was planning and preparing in case they broke up and she was on her own again.
He raked a hand through his hair. Proposing couldn’t be put off much longer. “Why don’t we get you a desk and set this up as a real office for you? We can get you a separate phone line too so you don’t have to use your cell all the time.”
She shrugged. “Maybe at some point.” Before he could respond, her phone rang. “Veronica Watson.”
“Veronica it’s Gene Simmons.”
Ebony brows rose. “Hi Gene. What can I do for you?”
“Rumour has it that you’ve left Mercury and you’re going freelance.”
“For once the rumour mill is accurate.”
“I’d like you to come work for us.”
To say Veronica was stunned would be putting it mildly. Normally she would have jumped at the chance to put KISS on her resume, but there was one really big problem. “Is Doc McGhee still your manager?”
That got Jon’s attention.
“Yes. In fact, he’s the one who suggested I call you.” Gene assured her.
Veronica choked. “What did you do to piss him off?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I’m surprised he would suggest me.” She glanced at Jon and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry Gene, but as much as I would love to work with KISS, I wouldn’t come anywhere near that backstabbing piece of slime if he was the last manager on earth. In fact, I wish I didn’t have to share the same galaxy with him!”
“Ask him.” Agitated, she stood and paced the room. “And while you’re at it tell him he’s got a lot of nerve making even indirect contact with me! Gah! I can’t believe him!”
“I take it you have a history with him.”
“Tell Shannon to watch her back Gene. If Doc gets the idea that’s she interfering with the band he’ll try to....remove her influence.”
“Ah. I understand.” And he did. He understood women well enough to know that they had long memories when it came to people who deliberately hurt them. And he really didn’t appreciate being put in this position. He needed to have a little talk with his manager. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
“I’m sorry I can’t help you.”
“So am I. From what I’ve heard you’re the best. I hope Jon appreciates you.”
Veronica caught Jon’s eye and smiled. “He does.”
Hanging up, she set her phone back on the table, blew out a breath and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Outside for a walk. I need some air.”
“I’m alright. I just need to be alone.”
Jon watched her go, a frown creasing his brow. He needed to go talk to Molly. Perfect or not, tonight was going to be the night. He couldn’t wait any longer.....she couldn’t wait any longer.