After hanging up from Jon's call Alex got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. She turned the small sound system in the bathroom on and stepped into the large glass encased shower recess. She washed herself quickly but then stood there hands braced on the wall for long minutes letting the steaming hot stream of water and the hard rock sounds of Aerosmith's latest offering "Pump" wash away the tension of the evening before. Thoughts of Jon swam in her mind as she stood there. She still couldn't believe he had abandoned the show to come and talk to her like that, approaching her while she was obviously working, while he was working. She was somewhat concerned as to what the band and fans made of their little exchange, surely they had noticed.
Alex was just grateful that Rick hadn't been able to make the show. She had no interest in sharing the details of her and Jon's "relationship", if indeed it could be called that, with Rick. It was too sordid a tale to be sharing with a work colleague, even one she was feeling closer to with each passing day. The horrific sights that they witnessed together, little Abbie of course being the worst, was creating a unique bond. The thought of the small child once again brought a tear to Alex's eye, and with the exception of the past few days, Alex was not one to cry easily.
On getting out of the shower Alex covered her body in moisturiser and stepped into her usual work clothes, a pair of well worn faded jeans, a T-shirt, Jag being the brand of the day, and a baseball cap. She checked her watch, shit I'm running late. A loud knock startled her, she called out "Coming" and slowly made her way to the door while hopping on one foot, struggling to place a shoe on the other.
"Where were you, I've been out here for 5 minutes" Rick said leaning against the door frame as it swung open.
"Sorry Rick, I was in the shower and the stereo was on. I think I got a bit carried away with the volume."
Rick dumped a large duffle in Alex's foyer then reached down and grabbed the bulk of Alex's equipment. They would be travelling to Palm Beach for the next few days to cover the filming of a relatively new TV soap called "Home and Away" and so had decided to travel together. Rick was also going to stay over at Alex's given that he lived in Sydney's outer suburbs and the commute would've been horrendous.
"Are you OK Alex?" He asked getting a closer look at her now. "Cause frankly, you look like shit"
"Oh gee thanks.... I had a rough night, OK. No need for the insults" she knew no offence was intended so ribbed him back.
He smiles softly, his eyes showing concern. "What do you mean a rough night? Bob said that you were doing a photo shot for Bon Jovi last night, isn't that your favourite band?" Rick questioned.
"Umm, yeah they are. The shoot was ok, good actually. I won't know for sure till I see the photos though. It's the nightmare's that are the problem." Well, it wasn't a total lie.
"You too huh?" They were at the car now and Rick was opening her door for her. "How about we try to get it out of our heads for the day? Who do you think will be there today?" Rick asked avoiding the subject that obviously was still plaguing him too.
"No, idea" Alex answered "I would assume most of the cast. Do you have an interview schedule?"
"Nope, Bob said we would be given one along with the filming schedule on arrival"
The rest of the ride passed companionably, they joked and laughed together, discussing their expectations of the day's assignment and those that would feature in it. Palm Beach is located to the north of Sydney. It's a narrow strip of land in an area of many tributaries and National Parks, and as such is bordered by a bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. A solitary road leads in and out and is lined on one side by sheer cliffs, to the face of which cling exotic structures of steel and concrete that the rich and famous call home.
Alex and Rick drove through the small wealthy township and arrived on location to find a sprawling set. Much of the beach and several buildings had been procured for the days filming and a flurry of activity surrounded them all as crew and cast alike prepared themselves for the day ahead. They showed the press passes they had been given and made their way to a makeshift marshalling area where the days extras were being briefed on filming requirements. They were given a brief rundown of the set and given the press kits that would detail their schedules over the coming days.
The filming of a TV soap Alex was to learn was a face paced affair. Producing two and a half hours of TV a week, forty-eight plus weeks of the year took stamina and skill, she stood back and watched the production in awe. As the job required, Alex and Rick had gone their separate ways, following the schedules allocated to them. Alex went out on location to photograph the cast and filming, while Rick went to the trailers to interview the talent as they sat in makeup in preparation for filming. Not all cast were present on any given day, hence the three day assignment.
At the end of the first day both Alex and Rick collapsed into the car exhausted. She had shot more than ten rolls of film; he had conducted half as many interviews. They drove home in darkness, only the radio breaking the silence, stopping briefly to grab a bite to eat from local Chinese restaurant. Rick pulled into a parking spot in front of Alex's building and gathered up her equipment from the trunk which was far too valuable to leave in the parked car. They made their way inside where Rick dumped the equipment in the foyer before they shared a quick hug goodnight, each of them heading to their own rooms, falling into bed unconscious within minutes.
Alex woke bright and early the next morning, for the first time in a fortnight she had slept through the night and felt refreshed and renewed. Having slept naked as usual, she donned her trusty Slippery When Wet Tour T-Shirt and pulled on a pair of panties before she padded lightly into the kitchen to get breakfast started. She found the coffee pot busy brewing on the stove, bread in the toaster and an assortment of spreads lay out on the table. Now this I could get used to!
A light breeze told Alex that the balcony doors were open. She followed the scent of the crisp ocean air to find Rick standing on the balcony observing the yachts tacking across the sparkling blue harbour, dodging the ferries already hard at work transporting commuters to work or other destination of choice. He cut a striking figure there in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts, leaning on the railing his hands cupped around a large mug of coffee. Had it not been for Jon she was sure that Rick would have sparked more than a passing interest for her, but as things stood she was just glad to have him as a friend. She couldn't deny though that he was a fine specimen of the male gender, broad shoulders tapered down to a slim waist and a tight ass, not as good as Jon's, but then what was. As he turned to greet her she was confronted with a well defined six pack and pecs. His blond hair fell in one length and just touched the top of his shoulders. It was the first time she had seen him topless and was finding it difficult to drag her attention from his chest to his face. When she managed however she was rewarded with a huge grin.
"Good Morning. Sleep well?"
"Morning Rick. I did thanks. How about you? Was the guest room comfortable enough for you?"
"Yeah, It was great thanks. I put some coffee on and started on breakfast, I hope you don't mind"
"Of course not. What's mine is yours. Make yourself at home"
Rick doubted that what he wanted from her was part of that deal. As she stepped out onto the balcony he admired her long tanned legs. The T-shirt she wore was short, very short, exposing the bottom of her ass and a flash of hot pink panties as she leant up against the balcony rail. Full perky breasts with proud nipples teased him through the age worn fabric of the shirt, and while her curves could not be seen with the cut of the garment, he knew from experience they were there. He felt a stirring in his boxers and willed himself under control. It was neither the time nor place to start something with her. After their experience with Abbie both were emotionally drained and vulnerable and that was not a solid foundation for a relationship, something he had been considering for some time now.
"In that case let me fix you breakfast" He said looping an arm casually around her shoulders and leading her inside. A natural response had Alex's arm fall around his waist her hand coming to rest lightly on his hip. To her it was a casual friendly gesture but it would ignite a flame in Rick that would take a lifetime to extinguish, and spur him to action much sooner than he expected. This was the view of the balcony that confronted Jon from the street when he arrived at her apartment very early that morning. Scantily dressed and entwined in each others arms, Alex and Rick sought the privacy of her apartment.
Alex's apartment block was positioned at the end of a street terminated by a small harbour side park. From his parking spot adjacent to the park Jon had a perfect view of her balcony which spanned the front of her apartment and wrapped around one side. He stood on the pavement opposite her building, in stunned disbelief. She never said there was someone else! Who was he? How long had they been together? He made his way back to the hired BMW and slumped in behind the wheel, trying to make sense of his scattered thoughts. He had still felt a connection to her at the show. It was real, and he was sure that she had felt it too; positive in fact, for there was no justification for her reaction afterwards if she didn't. So what was the deal with this guy? A quick fuck? No! He wouldn't believe that. She wasn't like that. Or was she? A lot had changed for him in the last two years and it looked like the same could be said for her judging from the new accommodation. Jon began to doubt all he thought he knew about her, realising he didn't really know her at all. Sure he had gotten to know her two years before but those two years in the life of a teen could bring dramatic change. Did he want to get to know her again? Yes!
Jon sat in the car for what seemed like an age, but was in reality less than an hour, while waiting for the man to leave. When he finally emerged from the door Jon was dismayed to see Alex with him, he had hoped to talk to her alone. Jon was wearing his usual cap and glasses and hoped that he wouldn't be too recognisable with two days worth of stubble disguising his chiselled jaw. He jumped from the car and leaned back on the door after slamming it shut, his arms crossed over his chest in a defensive stance.
"Hello" he said as she rounded her friend's car to place some of her gear in the trunk.
Alex didn't even acknowledge his presence. The was not so much a glimmer of recognition in her face as she made her way around to the passenger side of the car and slipped in through the door the man held open for her. He even handed her the seatbelt before closing the door and moving around to the drivers. He stole a curious glance in Jon's direction and nodded in greeting ahead of getting behind the wheel of the tiny sports car and driving off.
Jon couldn't believe she hadn't so much as looked at him. Surely he hadn't hurt her that much. He couldn't have so soon in their.....relationship. They had, after all, still only met a few times but then again the wrenching he felt in his gut at the thought of her with another man was almost unbearable, it was a small insight for him into the pain she must have felt on hearing the announcement of his wedding. He was now well aware he had a lot to make up for if he hoped to win her back, not that she was ever his in the first place. He would return that evening but for now he got back in the BMW and gunned the engine, taking his frustration out on the car and the streets of Sydney, lucky to escape being pulled over.
Meanwhile in Rick's car the silence had become deafening as the unasked question hung in the air. Finally it became too much for Rick.
"Alex... who was he and what was that about? He looked a little familiar but I can't put my finger on it."
"No one of any consequence, just an old acquaintance." She responded coolly. Please don't push Rick, pleease.
Rick knew there was much more to the story from the way she had shut the guy down without so much as a backward glance but he also knew that with Alex you didn't push...when she was ready she came to you. "Well alrighty then."