Despite the discord Alex felt from within the band, the photo shoot went well. They were very professional and obviously very comfortable with publicity and photography sessions. She concentrated on the group photos first; having the band members arrange them selves differently every so often giving her a variety of layouts for the magazine.
Alex started with the boys seated side by side on a low stone wall. She took several shots here then moved them down onto the beach in time to catch the sunrise. As the sun slowly inched up from the ocean a myriad of colours were created as it kissed the sky. Deep oranges and reds came first easing into striking pinks and purples before finally giving way to early morning blue as the fiery orb crept higher. The heavens were marred by a spattering of storm clouds in the distance, creating a wonderful contrast to the vibrant blue of the ocean and the golden glow of the sand.
Before the dawn light had extinguished Alex took photos of the band members in pairs, ensuring that all combinations had been met, and then progressed to individual portraits before instructing them to change into more casual beach clothes for the final session of day shots. While the band was gone Alex took the opportunity to prepare her equipment for the next stage, stowing lighting, unpacking reflective screens and stands, and changing cameras and lenses. It appeared to her that the storm on the horizon may find its way to them and she wanted to ensure the safety of her equipment if that eventuality came to pass so she lugged the equipment she no longer needed back to her room. That thought served her well for as she made her way back to the villa along the path Jon was making his way back to the location along the beach, hoping to get her alone. By the time Alex arrived back, the rest of the band had joined Jon and were ready to continue, all dressed as she had asked in beach attire.
Both Richie and Jon were now topless, Richie's chest bronzed and smooth but for a light spattering of dark hair around his nipples, Jon on the other hand had a dark expanse of fur that covered the top of his chest and thinned as is it descended downwards over his toned torso and disappeared into his shorts, making Alex slightly uncomfortable as she followed its trail and began to contemplate what lie beneath. The other three wore various styles of short swim shirts and tank tops. All five sported sunglasses and were grateful for them as the sun was now getting higher in the sky and generating a blinding glare of the ocean.
The atmosphere that morning was very bizarre; while the tension was evident so to was their desire to put it behind them and overcome it. David and Richie tried to keep the group amused with a constant stream of humorous banter, Alec and Tico joining in occasionally. Jon however now appeared sullen and despondent, until that is Alex called him on it.
"Mr Bon Jovi, is there a problem? I am quite positive that your fans would like to see an expression from you other than just that famous pout of yours. These are supposed to be fun carefree beach snaps, and at the moment they are far from it." She said.
"O Oh" Richie teased "She's reverted to formalities now. Mom only uses my full name if I'm in the shit. You in the shit Jon?"
"Fuck off man!" Jon said lightly, trying to smile. If only he knew, he thought.
Jon knew that Alex was right. He never allowed personal issues to affect the band, whether his issues or those of the other members. This was work; it was time to switch on and play rock star. And just like that, out came the megawatt smile, disguising the pain and torment he was feeling beneath.
Alex recommenced the shoot, moving the group around the beach in a variety of arrangements and combinations. Once again she started with the group photos then moved on to trios and pairs leaving Jon and Richie till last, since there would be extra required of the two of them together.
Being a fan meant that she had seen the result of many similar shoots and had found, whether by coincidence or design, that other than whole group photos or individual portraits, the only images of band members together seemed to be of the ever present duo, Jon and Richie. Undoubtedly they were the most popular members of the band, hence the extra photos, but she hoped to better display the others as well.
It was now close to midday and a couple of the guys had started to grumble and feign starvation. Alex had only Jon and Richie, and then the single portraits to do, and hoped to get them finished before breaking for lunch so that she could have the afternoon to herself to gather her scattered thoughts.
"C'mon on guys, your all big boys, I'm sure you can hang a bit longer before eating." Alex teased.
"Well, I'm not speaking for the others but I know I'm a big boy and I do hang pretty long." Richie said cheekily, adjusting his pants. "But I don't know what that has to do with eating."
Alex blushed and they all shared a laugh, and then Jon spoke for only the second time that day, other than to utter an instruction, the first being telling Richie to 'Fuck off'. "OK, give the lady a break" he smiled at her "Alex if you can get these turkeys done first" he indicated Tico, Alec and David "Richie and I will stay back with you, then you can be done and your time will be your own"
Not even waiting for her to respond he turned to the band "When you guys are done, if you could see your way clear to having some food sent down here for us, I'm sure we'd all appreciate it" He said rubbing his stomach , realising for the first time that he had forgotten to eat breakfast.
"I can take care of that boss" Said Tico in a deep gravely voice Alex was sure she could listen to all day.
It wasn't really what Alex had planned, but it seemed the decision had been made for her. She couldn't however dispute Jon's reasoning; it seemed inane to keep Alec, Tico and David waiting around for what could turn into hours, just so she could avoid spending any time alone with Jon. As far as the band went, she saw Jon and Richie as the biggest threat to her composure and sanity so had hoped that overall she could finish them first, but it was not to be.
Alex diligently went to work photographing the second round of portraits; first Alec who seemed uncomfortable and most anxious to get away, then Tico who was to go and organise the food for the rest, and finally David the joker, who had kept them amused throughout the morning with his comedic talents. With the change in plan Alex decided to shoot Richie last. He had a relaxed temperament, not dissimilar to David's though less intense. And while his startling good looks some what flustered Alex, his easy going personality put her at ease.
Even that plan would soon be shattered, for after she finished the shots of the two together and was busily preparing to photograph Jon a message came to the beach by way of the concierge.
"Mr Sambora, I have a telephone message for you. A lady called, she said you would know who but declined to leave a name. She asked if you could call her back within the hour, she wished to discuss business and more, and asked that the call be made privately."
Richie looked towards Alex pleadingly "Will we be finished before then?"
"Just go and come back when you're done, we'll be here a little while yet, besides here comes Tico with lunch"
"Ah ... I think this particular call may need a bit longer than that" Richie gave Jon a knowing look.
"OK bro, you go first, and then your girl can have you to herself for the afternoon" Jon smiled, if only he were so lucky he thought. But then again, being her final subject and having Alex to himself for the afternoon, maybe he could be that lucky, if he played his cards right.
"Well then Richie lets get you off to talk to that girl of yours huh!" Alex said. "Over here please, we'll run you through some shots similar to the others but I also want some of you in the water and maybe some on the yacht." She regretted that the second it came out of her mouth for she knew that Jon would join them and that memories, happy memories would be revived for both of them.
Alex worked with Richie for the best part of an hour. She had managed to avoid the yacht, instead moving away from the beach in front of the resort to a more secluded area past their villas at the far end of the sandy strip. Jon had carried her equipment along with the food, while Alex snapped off pictures as they walked. He then settled himself nearby under a shady palm watching her work. He revelled in her obvious enjoyment in her work; the little smiles and looks of satisfaction when she knew she had nailed a shot, the confidence with which she steered her subject into position to get that shot in the first place. It bought to his mind a time when he enjoyed his job that much, a time that he now mourned for, for he now believed it was gone forever. He was staring at her lost in his thoughts when she spoke, startling him slightly. They were alone. Richie could be seen in the distance disappearing around the bend in the beach, obviously heading in the direction of his room.
"Your turn" she said simply, as she raised her hands high over her head to stretch exposing a portion of her torso and ribs under the short tank she was wearing over her khaki shorts. While her camera dangled freely from the thick strap around her neck.
"I don't know about you but I'm half starved. I didn't quite get around to having breakfast this morning. How about we break for lunch and continue this after."
"You're the boss" She answered and began to pack up her equipment.
"Will you stay and eat with me?" Jon asked tentatively.
Alex hesitated, she knew they needed to talk; she wanted to apologise for the night before and explain what had happened. Despite their current situation she knew Jon did not deserve that kind of pain, and besides she knew that to have the closure she would require to move on from this she needed to be honest with him about Rick. She did not want something that started so beautifully to end so horribly.
"Alright" she nodded as she moved over to where he lay still sprawled beneath the palm and took a seat beside him on the soft warm sand.