Alex had been tossing and turning since finally making it to bed a few hours before. She was still troubled by nightmares and as a result was reluctant to fall asleep. Tonight's events had not helped matters. She couldn't believe she could be so callous towards the man she loved; of course she denied it to him, she hadn't meant to say it at all, luckily, she thought, I managed to recover quickly from that slip. It wouldn't be right for Jon to believe she had feelings for him. Despite his declaration to her in the car, he had still married Dorothea. Besides, how was it possible to fall in love in just one night? Such scenarios were for movies and fairy tales, certainly not for real life. She tried to convince herself that she was, as she had declared to him, only in love with the persona, not the person.
At 6.42 a.m. Alex's bedside phone rang, snapping her out of her thoughts. She reached over to the night stand and picked up the receiver, wondering who in their right mind would be calling her so early in the morning after a late assignment. Jon was sitting propped up in bed the phone to his ear. Dot had opted to stay back at the hotel the evening before with a migraine, so rather than disturb her arriving at the room in the early hours of the morning Jon had taken up residence in a spare room for the night. He had managed to get a contact number for Alex and was putting it to good use.
"Mm 'lo" she answered a little groggily.
"Ali it's me.... please don't hang up" he continued quickly.
"I have nothing to say to you Jon" Alex said now wide awake.
Jon heard the rustle of bed linen "Sorry if I woke you"
"Nope, I'm awake mostly, in bed, but awake" she answered "What do you want? Like I said I have nothing to say to you, and there is nothing you have to say that I want to hear. It's done Jon... just let it go."
"I'm sorry Ali, I can't accept that, I won't accept it."
"You don't have a choice" Alex replied hanging up the phone then leaving it off the hook.
Jon tried to call her back but the phone was engaged, she'd left it off the hook. Damn stubborn woman. He jumped out of bed and called Reg, it was time for another run. Even running didn't work this time, on returning to the hotel he and Reg hit the gym and donned boxing gloves, where they sparred until both were exhausted before Jon resigned himself to heading back to his room.
Dot had noticed the first day that Jon wasn't himself. She had put it down to exhaustion and the stress of the tour but the longer she was with him the more withdrawn he became. They had made love just once, but he seemed only to be going through the motions, he was not the passionate attentive lover she usually enjoyed. Most nights so far, he would stumble into bed sometime near dawn, the night before he had not joined her at all. She was disappointed after planning a special evening for their last night together before she flew home. She had used the excuse of a migraine so that she could prepare for the rendezvous she had planned, setting out candles and organising a late supper for the two of them. Earlier in the day she had taken advantage of Sydney's upmarket boutiques and bought some risqué lingerie, hoping to tempt "her" Jon back but by the time he let himself into their suite at 11 the next morning freshly showered after his workout, it was packed in her suitcase with the rest of her belongings.
The couple shared a tense lunch in their suite in preparation for their goodbyes; her plane would be leaving in a couple of hours. Dot was resentful that Jon hadn't returned to their room before yet he seemed insensitive to her mood, his mind on other things. Dot studied him as he pushed the food around his plate.
"I waited for you last night" She uttered quietly.
"Hmm... sorry what?" he answered distracted.
"Last night... I waited for you to come home. What happened?"
"You said you weren't feeling well so I slept in the spare room we keep for press. I got in pretty late. I didn't want to wake you"
"Since when Jon, since when has that bothered you. Hell, you'd roll me over and fuck me sleeping if you wanted it. So don't give me bullshit excuses. A few months ago you couldn't get enough of me and now..."she trailed off.
And now there's Alex. "I already told you Dot, I'm tired, fuck" he exclaimed exasperated "I feel like the walking dead. The guys are bickering constantly; Reg has broken up fist fights on more than one occasion. There are times now where I can't even stand to be in a room with 'em, hell right now, I don't want to be in a room with myself."
Jon had already explained all this to her after that first night of lacklustre lovemaking, but she sensed something else underlying his discontent. "Jon, do you regret our marriage?" the question as much a surprise to her, as it was to him, escaping her lips.
He looked in to her eyes and realised that he couldn't lie to her "I don't know Dot. Maybe Doc was right, maybe it wasn't the right time." he couldn't lie to her but he wouldn't tell her the whole truth either. He couldn't bear to hurt her that much. "The fan backlash was huge, and I know we discussed it at the time, but you know me Dot, if something is in my head.... Besides, what kind of life is this for a newly married couple, you home alone, me on the road dozens of women throwing themselves at me every night. I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted Dot. It's been a normal part of my life for so long." It was half true, though there was only one that truly tempted him.
Dot was very quiet for a moment before speaking barely above a whisper, unable to look into his eyes for fear of the truth she would find there. "Have you acted on temptation Jon?"
"Dot, no questions, no lies remember. That has always been the agreement... do you really want to change that now?"
"It doesn't matter if I do or don't, you just answered the question anyway" she said softly, her face turned away from him, hiding the single tear that fell from her light brown eyes.
"I'm sorry baby, I'm no saint, you know that... and I wish I could promise you it won't happen again, but I can't. I won't lie to you Dot. If you want to end it I'll understand. I don't expect you to have to deal with this." There it was..his way out.
"The tour is almost over. This is no place to be making rash decisions. You're burnt out, I'm emotional. We'll wait til your home and give it a few months. Things will be different off tour, you'll see. I'm sure we can work it out." She said. "Go out now; get the fucking out of your system Jon, because once your home that's the end of the cheating. This is the last chance next time we're through."
Dot rose and kissed Jon goodbye before making her way down to the car alone. He had attempted to rise to follow her but she pushed him back down in his seat and shook her head. Her emotions were barely in check and she did not want Jon to see how much she was hurting. As she slid into the back of the limo her tears flowed freely.
Meanwhile, back in the hotel room Jon sat stunned, staring at the closed door. He still couldn't comprehend her response, it was so far removed from what he expected. He had thought there would be yelling, screaming... he thought he would have a bowl thrown at him. But there was none of it, nothing he expected at all. Just a kiss goodbye and a final ultimatum: no more fucking around after this tour or she was gone. The realisation then dawned, his wife had just given him a guilt free pass to fuck around this tour. And more importantly, a guilt free pass to be with Alex, but if he was honest with himself he knew that that would never have mattered to him anyway. Alex had come to mean more to him that that.
The band had a week "off" til the next gig in Adelaide. The crew would already be half way through tearing down the stage, while that same evening the advance crew would be on the way to the next venue to set up. The extent of stage equipment was mind boggling, even to Jon who had seen it erected and dismantled hundreds of times. Once the stage was set the crew would enjoy some down time. The bands week "off" would consist of sightseeing and press commitments. They needed the break, not only from work but from each other. They would see each other only as necessary for interviews. The rest of the week they would go their separate ways.
Jon, whose work commitments numbered more that the other band members, had less time to himself, but what he did have he intended to spend pursuing Alex. Just minutes after Dot had left, in fact most likely before the elevator had even reached the ground floor, Jon could be found alone in his suite punching in numbers on the hotel phone that he read from a scrap of paper pulled from his jeans pocket. Casually dressed in only those jeans, worn faded and torn, he looked like a poster boy for relaxation, lounging back in the reclining office chair his legs outstretched and crossed at the ankle, and his bare feet propped on the desk before him. He had one hand behind his head the other holding the receiver to his ear. One of the perks of being a rock star was that almost any one was available at any hour if you called upon them.
"Listen Bob this is what I need..." Jon was on the phone to Alex's boss, tempting him with a proposition he could not refuse. He explained that he would grant an interview in Melbourne and photo shoot at an exclusive location on the condition that the photographer had to be Alex, he had seen her work and was in awe of her talent, and that she was available for a dawn shoot on the beach, he also made it clear that the choice of photographer was to appear to be Bob's idea, not that he liked being manipulative but at this point in time he could see no other way to get her to agree. The interview could be conducted at any time during the Melbourne leg the following week, while the photographer would have to fly to the location, for which Jon would organise a private charter, the same day as his arrival after the New Zealand shows about two weeks hence.
Jon also suggested to Bob that he not advise his staff who their subject would be in the interests of confidentiality, and informed him that the location or nature of the photo shoot would not even be disclosed to him. Bob had been somewhat offended by this insisting that his staff were very discrete and could be trusted with the details but Jon was insistent, especially he pointed out, because this was being done during band down time. His conditions were not negotiable. At this stage he didn't want Alex to know who she would be photographing. Over the next week or so he would try to win her over but if that failed Queensland would be his last chance, he wouldn't risk that by disclosing it now.