The next morning Jon was once again at his desk. Turning on his computer, he pulled up his latest updated schedule and scowled. "Bri!" God dammit! Standing, he strode from the room. "Brianna!"
Uh oh. Full name. Not good. Brianna lifted her gaze from the invitation she was reading as he stomped into her office. "What's wrong?"
"Have you seen my latest schedule for Japan?"
"I haven't looked at it since we got home. What's the problem?"
"Look at it."
Turning to her computer, she pulled up his schedule and frowned. "I'll fix it."
His jaw twitched as he fought to bite back the words he really wanted to say. He settled for a grunt. "And talk to Amanda."
Brianna waited until he'd returned to his own office before raising her middle finger in his direction. This was where being married to your boss got tricky. As an employee, she expected to get reprimanded for screw ups, but as his wife she didn't care for his tone. Sighing, she picked up the phone and dialled. "Hi Amanda, it's Brianna."
"Hey! You're home! How was the honeymoon?"
"Paradise. It's hard to get back into work mode." Brianna admitted.
"I'll bet. Well, I think everything's under control. I've sent you the latest mail and the schedules for Japan and Australia are pretty much set."
"Yeah, about that. Can we take a look at Japan for a minute?"
"Sure. Is someone wrong?" Amanda sounded nervous.
"A couple of the interviews need to be rescheduled." She paused. "Did you forget that Jon doesn't do interviews on show days?"
"Oh shit." Amanda swore. "I'm sorry. I forgot. I meant to ask you about why that is. Is it just one of his quirks or is there a reason for it?"
"It's to save his voice for the show. You also have to remember - and occasionally remind some others - that if you have to talk to him on show days make sure that the questions are worded to require only yes or no answers that he can either nod or shake his head for. And make sure he takes his ginseng. You'll have to watch and listen to him closely. He won't always tell you if his throat is sore or bothering him."
As she listened to Brianna list all the things she needed to be aware of during the tour, Amanda could hear the wistful note in her voice. "You should be the one going on tour. It's obvious you love it."
"Yes, but the kids need me to be at home." And no matter how much she wanted to go on tour, no matter how hard she tried to think of options around it, it was a reality she couldn't ignore or overcome. She had to stay home. Maybe if she could convince herself it was her choice to stay home it wouldn't hurt as much.
As the tour drew closer, the tension in the mansion on the Navesink grew. There were no arguments or even harsh words, but it was obvious neither of the adults were happy. Brianna struggled to hide her disappointment and Jon tried to find some way to make her feel better.
"I don't know why I have to sit and watch you do this." Jon grumbled as he watched her set jeans in his bag.
"Would you rather do it yourself?"
"No, I'd rather let you do it and go for a run."
"What's the first thing customs asks you about your luggage?"
He frowned, then sighed. "If I packed it myself and do I know everything that's in it."
"Right. And since I won't be there to back you up you need to watch what I put in here." She smirked. "You never know what I might sneak in."
He didn't smile at her feeble attempt at a joke. "You know I want you with me."
"I know." She didn't look up from the suitcase.
"If there was any way..."
"I know. But the kids have to come first."
"Jon, it's okay. We've been over this a hundred times. I get it. I understand and agree." She shrugged. "There'll be other tours. The kids need me home right now."
"I don't want you to blame me and think I don't value you and the job you do. I know how much you love your job and how important it is to you."
"I don't blame you. It's nobody's fault. It is what it is. And when it comes right down to it, the kids well being is more important than any job."
"Maybe you could explain it to Steph. She thinks I'm becoming like your father and I'm forcing you to stay home because that's your place."
Her brows rose. "Is that why she's been giving you attitude lately?"
He nodded. "Uh huh. She's worried about me denying you what makes you happy." He rubbed a hand over his face. "She said the family had finally found happiness again and she's afraid you staying home will make you miserable and will destroy that happiness."
Brianna sighed. "I'll talk to her."
The day before Jon left, Brianna was in the kitchen making cookies when Stephanie wandered in. Her eyes widened as she looked around. "Whoa! Jake's class having a bake sale or something?"
"No, I'm making extra cooking for Dad and the guys to take on the plane."
"I'm sure the uncles would rather take you with them. They know you're good at more than just baking cookies and that you deserve the freedom to do the job you love."
Wow! Jon wasn't kidding. Sliding a tray of dough balls into the oven, Brianna grabbed a couple of Coke's out of the fridge and motioned to the stools beside the island. "Let's sit down and talk." She waited for Stephanie to sit and handed her a can. "Your Dad isn't forcing me to stay home. It was my decision. Contrary to what you obviously think, he does recognize my abilities."
"He has a funny way of showing it. As soon as you get married he's running of on tour while you stay home."
"Steph, when you get married and have a family you'll find out very quickly that balancing work and family is not always easy, particularly with a job like your dads. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good."
"But you shouldn't always be the one making the sacrifice!"
"I'm not. Your dad gave up a lot of what he loves to do over the last couple years because it was what the family needed. When it came to the tour we had to weigh his needs, my needs and the needs of you and your brothers. And Steph, the needs of you and your brothers will always come first with me. You guys need me here more than your dad needs me with him or I need to tour."
"But you love touring." Stephanie argued. "You shouldn't have to give that up because of us! We can cope with Grandma and Grandpa or whoever you get to stay with us. It's not forever."
"No it's not. And it's not the last tour either. And that's why I chose to stay home this time. When Jake and Romeo are a little older we'll all feel more comfortable with me going on the road for weeks at a time."
Stephanie wasn't convinced. "It's not fair!"
"Maybe not, but that's life." Brianna tried to think of a way to make her understand. "Steph......a couple years ago I never thought I'd have a family of my own. The fact that you and your brothers have accepted me and opened your hearts to me to the point of actually wanting me with you means more to me than I can ever say. That acceptance, that...love...is more than worth missing a tour or two. I would miss the time spent with you guys far more than I'll miss the tour." And that's how I need to look at it.
"Really." She reached over to hug the teenager. "Come on. Help me finish the cookies and decide what to have for dinner."
The next day, as they all stood outside to say goodbye to Jon, Stephanie gave her dad an extra tight hug. "Have a safe trip. I love you Daddy."
"I love you too sweetie."
She leaned back to look at him. "I still think you should bring Bri an extra-special present."
Jon laughed and gave her a squeeze. "That's a good idea."
After hugging the other kids, Jon turned to Brianna. "Want me to bring you some saki?"
Brianna shuddered. "No thanks."
He grinned. "Not in the mood for a little Top Gun?" At her withering look, he chuckled and hugged her. "Thanks for sorting things out with Steph. I don't like it when she's mad at me."
"You're just a big softie." She stroked his cheek and kissed him.
"Just when it comes to my family. I love you."
"I love you too. Have a safe flight, call me when you get there and make sure you share the cookies with the guys."
He snorted. "They'll have to earn them first." he opened the car door. "Bye!"
"Bye!" They all waved until the car cleared the gates.
Entering the house after taking the kids to school, Brianna checked her phone again, then checked the house phone and frowned. Jon should have landed awhile ago, but he still hadn't called. She didn't know whether he'd just forgotten or if something had happened.
"Bina what wong?"
"Nothing," I hope. "I was just checking if Daddy had called." She clapped her hands together. "Okay Little Man, it's just you and me. What do you want to do?"
Brianna chuckled. "Not until after lunch."
"That we can do. Let's go pick one out."
They'd just settled on the living room floor with the chosen puzzle when Brianna's phone rang. Finally! "Hey honey. What happened?"
"What do you mean?"
"You should have landed a couple hours ago. Did you just forget to call or was there a problem?"
Jon scowled. "The assholes that I'm travelling with thought it would be funny to tell Japanese customs that there was no way I packed my own bag so they'd better search it. They questioned me for fifteen minutes, but didn't find anything. So they searched everyone's luggage. We just got to the hotel."
"Aren't you glad I made you watch me pack for you?"
"Yes dear." He sipped his wine. I miss you already. "Everything okay on your end?"
"Yeah. Romeo and I are just doing a puzzle." I miss you already.
They talked for the better part of an hour, neither one wanting to say goodbye. But finally Jon needed to get some sleep.
"I'll call you tomorrow after the interviews. I love you."
"I love you too. Bye."
Both stared at their phones and sighed. It was going to be a long tour.