We stepped off the elevator on the first floor and used the stairwell to access the ground floor at Jon’s suggestion. This avoided any fan interference by not having to cut through the lobby to the banquet room where the conference was taking place. I led him through several corridors until we were just outside the entrance. The doors were closed, but I could hear Colin inside over the mike. Suddenly self-conscious in an unfamiliar environment, Jon grabbed my hand and stopped me.
“Shit. Look at you. You’re dressed to kill and I look like a slob. I don’t want to embarrass you, baby. Should I go change my clothes or grab a jacket?”
I smiled reassuringly, realizing he was out of his element and not used to this.
“It’s okay, hon. I’m dressed up because I’m presenting, but there will be lots of folks dressed casually. Don’t worry. I couldn’t possibly be embarrassed walking in with Jon Bon Jovi” I smiled.
Then I noticed the disapproving gaze of the elderly woman sitting at the registration table, staring at me as we approached. She was clearly not impressed with the rock god on my arm and she didn’t know me either.
“You’re both late, they’ve already started. Are you registered? You’ll have to sign in and you won’t be able to get full credit for attending since you’re so late” she spat at me.
I felt Jon bristle at her tone, but I just looked her straight in the eye.
“I’m not on until eleven and there’s a break soon before I present. I think Colin will forgive my being late after a night of the most mind-blowing sexual pleasure I’ve ever known, but I highly doubt that someone like you would ever understand” I snapped at her.
Jon’s mouth literally dropped open as I wondered what the hell possessed me to say that. He leaned close in my ear as I brushed past the speechless old matron who was sputtering now with indignation.
“Feisty, aren’t you?” he whispered.
“Must be the adrenalin rush kicking in” I whispered back as I pushed open the double doors and we walked through.
I could feel my heart pounding as I scanned the room. It was huge and nearly full as I looked for an empty chair. It was ten thirty-five and I saw Colin nod to me from the front of the room and stop in mid-stride as he took in Jon, standing beside me. I nodded back, unable to contain the shit-eating grin on my face. The only empty seats were near the front and I didn’t want to create a disturbance, so we stood near the back of the room.
“We’ll just wait here until the break and I’ll get you a seat in the front.” I explained quietly to Jon.
Colin returned to his lecture and barely anyone noticed us; fortunately they were caught up in the topic. Colin was fascinating to watch and he kept the audience in rapt attention, much the way Jon held his audience, I thought. He was in his early fifties, but quite handsome himself, and he had been the object of some rather unprofessional fantasies of mine in the past. I smiled at him and impulsively squeezed Jon’s hand and I noticed his eyes were riveted on Colin too. There was something charismatic and powerful about both these men that commanded my attention. This would indeed be an interesting day.
Colin was wrapping up now, advising the audience we would begin again promptly after a short break until eleven o’clock. He detailed the next part of the program and my name, adding “who I see has just arrived”. A sea of heads turned and their eyes focused on me while I smiled, my body tense. This was by far the largest crowd I’d ever addressed; there were nearly three hundred people crammed into the conference room. I was pleased. All the long months of preparation and planning had paid off and we had a capacity crowd.
The din rose as chairs moved and people began to move around and chat with colleagues. Still grasping Jon’s hand tightly, I began to move towards the front, pulling Jon along with me. Colin unhooked his mike and walked towards us with a big grin. He came up and gave me a quick hug and looked relieved.
“I’m glad you could make it! You had me worried I was going to have to ad lib the next hour” Colin said as he approached.
I felt only a little sheepish, then, and apologized.
“I am so, so sorry. Let me introduce you to…” I began and Jon broke in.
“The reason she’s late. It’s my entire fault, really. My apologies” he said graciously as he extended his hand to Colin.
“I’m Jon” he said, introducing himself simply.
Colin shook Jon’s outstretched hand and turned to me, winking.
“And the reason she can’t stop smiling, I’m guessing. I’m Colin and I’m really glad you got her here.”
I felt the color in my cheeks then, and realized I hadn’t blushed this much in my whole life as I had in these last two days. I felt ecstatic with these two men I admired and respected standing here beside me.
“You look so familiar to me. Were you at the workshop in Denver last month?” Colin asked as he struggled to place where he’d seen Jon before.
“No, I don’t actually work in this field, but I’d love to learn more. Trish has told me a little, but I’m not real familiar with therapy and what you do.”
I cut in then, thinking a proper introduction was in order now that I regained some composure.
“Colin, this is Jon Bon Jovi. Mega super rock star, humanitarian and champion of volunteerism world-wide and co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul Arena football team” I announced, finding my voice.
There, I’d said it. Now it was Colin’s turn to look surprised.
“Quite a resume! Bon Jovi, huh? Keep the Faith?” he asked and Jon smiled.
“You know it? Wow. Yeah, that’s me. As for the rest, well, I do partly own a football team.”
I looked at Jon and I was struck by his humility and relieved that this meeting had gone so well.
“Let’s see if we can’t find you a seat up near the front as we need to get started again shortly and I need a minute to settle some details with Trish about the afternoon program before we begin” Colin said, looking around the room.
I noticed a knot of people in the corner, watching us expectantly and waiting. A young woman approached with a book in her hand.
“Dr. Rothman? It’s a pleasure to meet you. Would you mind signing my book? I’m such a fan of your work….” she said.
With that diversion, I left Colin and steered Jon nearer to the front of the room, looking for an empty seat.
“So, he has groupies too, I see” Jon commented.
“Oh, you better believe it. I used to be one until I actually met him and we got to know each other” I replied.
“How well?” Jon asked, raising an eyebrow at me.
“Not that well, baby. Relax” I smiled, leading him to what appeared to be an empty seat near the left side.
He sat down, and I bent to kiss him as an extra reassurance.
“I’ll be back to collect you at noon for lunch” I said as I scurried away to find Colin.
I was secretly quite tickled. He was jealous. Jon Bon Jovi was actually jealous. Of me. This was just too much. I must have gone mad and I was imagining it all. I turned to look back at Jon and noticed a small crowd gathering around him; he’d been recognized. I giggled. Nope, it was all real. There he was, surrounded by fans at a Trauma conference! Well, he was back in his element now!
I sauntered off to find Colin and steal him from his groupies, realizing I had to be the most envied woman in the room at that moment and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Colin saw me and excused himself, and we went over some details for the afternoon program. It was almost eleven now.
“Are you sticking around for the afternoon or are you and your rock star disappearing after lunch?” he asked.
I bit my upper lip as I considered the question. Everything had happened so fast. I was just focusing on one thing at a time. I really wanted to see Dr. van Burren speak in the afternoon, but I didn’t know how Jon was going to feel.
“I just don’t know yet. It depends” I replied uncertainly and Colin looked at me searchingly then.
“So, trauma may not be center stage in your life at the moment?” he asked seriously.
“I love what I do. You know that. It’s just…” I stammered, not really sure what I was trying to say. He interrupted, finishing my unspoken thought.
“That you love something else, or rather someone, right now?”
He was so damn sharp; the quintessential clinician. Or did it just show on my face? Was it that obvious? I wasn’t truly aware of it myself until he said it.
“It shows” he said, answering the question I hadn’t even spoken.
I stood at the podium and tapped the mike. The murmur of the crowd died down. I looked out at the sea of faces, stopping as I sought Jon in the second row. The look he gave me nearly undid me.
“Welcome and good morning” I began.
Jon’s eyes were fixed upon me and I had to look away in order to concentrate on something besides the fact that I wasn’t wearing any panties. I launched into my lecture, grateful for the familiarity of the topic. I was on auto-pilot now, delivering the material as smoothly as I had done in the past. There were nods of assent from the crowd in response as I moved through the material, accentuating certain points with clinical examples.
I faltered only once, when my eyes met Jon’s and the respect I saw in them took my breath away. I finished my speech and advised everyone that lunch would be served in the other adjoining room and that the afternoon program would commence at one-thirty. I stepped away from the lectern and made my way towards Jon who was on his feet and moving towards me.
“Whew. Glad that’s over and I can relax. Where’s the bar?” I said as he slid his arm around my waist.
I felt too keyed up and excited and knew only a glass of wine was going to quell my nervous energy.
“That was amazing, I mean you were amazing. The stories, they were fascinating. I thought I’d experienced a lot in my life, but nothing like what you were describing. Can we come back after lunch for the rest?” Jon asked.
Suddenly all the tension gave way and I laughed.
“You’re not serious? You really want to spend your afternoon listening to clinicians talk shop?” I asked incredulously.
“Yeah, I do. I never heard any stuff like this before. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to understand much, but you spoke about it all in plain language and made it so real. I’m really intrigued” he said seriously.
“I’d better warn you, tho. This afternoon’s another expert and it’s on the neurobiology of trauma. But I really would like to hear him if you think you could stand it” I said, surprised at Jon‘s reaction, but really pleased.
“There’s Colin. Are we going to lunch or the bar?” Jon nodded towards him as we walked out into the hallway and Colin approached us.
“Bar?” he asked, arching his eyebrows knowingly and we all laughed.
“Bar it is. Let’s go” I replied.
As we walked along the hallway, Colin put a hand on my arm and stopped me.
“What exactly did you say to Eugenia before you came into the room?” Colin asked, curious.
“Who?” I said blankly.
Jon got it before I did and began to smirk maliciously.
“Eugenia. She’s my administrative assistant who was doing the registration” he explained.
I was speechless this time as I stared at the floor.
“Oh, her” was all I could muster, trying to hide the color rising along my throat.
My ears were burning. Jon cackled and I looked at him sheepishly, really regretting my smart ass remarks earlier.
“I guess I was kinda rude” I admitted.
“No, baby, she was rude and you put her in her place” he said, defending me.
Colin looked from me to Jon and back to me.
“Well, she had some rather choice words for the redhead who showed up late and barged into the room and then she told me I’d better watch myself around you as you had quite a mouth.” Colin said by way of explanation.
“That she does, believe me. Absolutely dangerous” Jon chuckled, slipping his arm around my waist again and giving me a little squeeze.
Colin shook his head as we walked into the bar for a cocktail. Wine never tasted so good.