On arrival back at the Villa Jon suggested that Alex might want to go check her room.
"Why? What have you done?" she asked excitedly.
"You'll have to go see for yourself" he said on a grin.
Alex took the stairs two at a time and burst through the door to her room, Jon, following behind her, laughed at her enthusiasm and thought she looked like a kid on Christmas morning. On the far wall of Alex's room stood a clothes rack full of evening gowns. She moved closer to inspect them. There were ten in total, each different in style and colour, but all her size. She picked one up and holding it against herself spun around, it's flowing skirt twirling out around her.
Jon was standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame his thumbs hooked through his belt loops, with wide grin.
"Well... go on... have a good look. They're all yours if you want them, but you will need to pick at least one. You'll need it for tonight."
"Why is there a function?"
"Something like that" he said evasively. "I have to go get ready myself. Your next surprise should be here in about 20 minutes. I suggest you have a shower before it arrives"
"What surprise? Jon this is already too much. I don't need you to be buying me things, I can do things for myself now you know."
He crossed the room then, coming to a stop just inches from her. "I know, Miss Independent" he said tapping her nose playfully with his forefinger. "But I wanted to do something special for you...will you let me....please?"
She hugged him then. "Ok baby whatever you say."
He could have melted into her then, so sweet and trusting was her reply. Instead he kissed her forehead and stepped away from her. "I'll be back" he said as he moved to his room, calling out "Enjoy your surprise" over his shoulder as he passed through the door.
Alex showered as instructed. She was just wrapping herself in her robe when she heard a knock on the bathroom door and a female voice. "Miss Belle, are you ready for hair and makeup?"
Alex swung the door wide to find two stylists and one very large cosmetics bag. The first course of action was to pick out a dress, complimentary hair and makeup would follow. There were so many choices that Alex just didn't know which to choose. She discounted several gowns immediately, and tried on the remaining five. In the end it came down to two dresses, one scarlet the other black, she finally settled on the scarlet. While the black slip dress was exquisite in its simplicity, the scarlet spoke of passion and romance.
The gown was strapless with a gathered crossover top that was finished on the left hip with a stunning Swarovski crystal clasp. The skirt of the gown fell straight from the hip its defining feature a long split that finished high on Alex's left thigh that would reveal a hint of the silk stockings and black garter. Black five inch stiletto pumps completed the outfit. Alex removed the dress and placed it back on the hanger, ready for the stylists to work their magic.
Their names were Anna and Ivy, and they were stylists to the stars. They explained that they had been flown in that afternoon under a cloud of secrecy to prepare her for a very special evening. The girls got to work immediately, never once asking about Alex's date. She couldn't have told them anything anyway, except for who it was with, but she assumed they didn't even know that so she didn't offer up that information. Alex had never felt so spoilt. While Anna worked on her make-up, Ivy gave her a manicure and pedicure, painting her nails the exact shade of the dress. Jon's lyrics came to mind, Blood red Nails on your fingertips, bringing a smile to her lips that drew curious looks from the two women.
"Well what's so funny?" Anna asked.
"Blood red nails" Alex explained. "It's a line in one of my favourite songs"
"Ooo, mine too" exclaimed Ivy excitedly "I love Bon Jovi. That is the one you're talking about isn't it?"
When Alex nodded Ivy continued "I was at the concert a couple of weeks ago. WOW, what a show. The best I've ever seen. And Jon, Oh My God, what I wouldn't do for just one night with that man. Did you get to see them?"
"Um yeah I did" Alex was concerned that Ivy may piece things together, knowing that if she was at the same Sydney shows she may have seen her on the big screen and that would spell trouble for Jon, but at the same time she knew she was a terrible liar. She hoped for the best. "I saw them a couple of times in Sydney, how about you where did you see them?"
"Oh really! Same. I was at the second Sydney show. You?"
"First and last, the one where they played outside" Alex replied with relief.
"You were there? How cool. My friend was there too. She said it was amazing, seeing them so close and without the theatrics. She did say he was a little distracted though, that some photographer lured him away from the set and when he went back he just wasn't himself, I don't think he likes the press much. She said it didn't last long after that, he wrapped it up and took off inside looking annoyed. What did you think of it?" Ivy asked.
"It was nice to see them off the arena stage, but I was a little distracted taking photos to notice too much" well it was the truth, kind of.
"There" Anna and Ivy both exclaimed as one, then giggled. "you're almost done. Just the hair left."
While Anna busied herself doing Alex's hair, Ivy began to pack all the equipment that was no longer required. The hour was getting late so when she was done with the packing she began to help Alex into her stockings. Alex had never felt so deliciously pampered, she owed Jon big time, and intended to pay up in spectacular style.
Finally she was ready. Before leaving Anna and Ivy had helped her into her dress and wished her well for her big date, none the wiser as to whom it was. Alex positioned herself on the balcony and waited, knowing that the late afternoon sun was casting just the right light to flatter her. At 6 p.m. on the dot there was a light knock on her door.
"Come in" she called. "I'm out here."
Jon made his way out to the balcony but stopped dead in his tracks when he caught sight of her. Never before had he seen anything so beautiful. She stood against the railing her back to the ocean. Her silken hair was swept back from her face but tumbled down her back in a cascade of curls. The make-up she wore had been artfully applied, enhancing her fine features while being very subtle and natural. She had chosen his favourite dress and it fit her like a second skin, her breasts were lifted, her small waist pinched and the position in which she stood permitted him the slightest hint of a garter and stockings. All of this on five inch black stilettos, Jon thought he had died and gone to heaven, for surely she was an angel.
He stalked across the room, a predatory glint in his eye. It won't be long now, you will be mine tonight. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply, showing her the passion he felt. He tasted like home, smelled as good and looked amazing, dressed in a white button down shirt and black dress pants under which the hint of a cowboy boot could be seen.
"It's time to go" Jon said. "They'll be waiting"
"Where? Who's they?" Alex asked a little disappointment in her voice. "I thought we'd be staying here.... alone"
Jon took her by the hand and led her out of the Villa and towards the main building. Alex assumed they would be heading for the restaurant for dinner but when he turned right a little further up the path she became very confused, it was the access path to the beach and she was in no way dressed for a swim. It was only when they cleared the small copse of trees that all became clear, for there moored at the jetty sat a small white sailed yacht, its length aglow with fairy lights strung from stern to mast to bow.
Jon led her by the hand down to the yacht and helped her aboard. Once on board himself he poured her a glass of white wine and signalled the captain that it was time to go. The captain was waiting at the helm and on Jon signal he released the moorings and began the journey to their destination.
Alex could not imagine a more perfect evening, a reflection of the first night they met. Set on the yacht was a table for two. Two shiny metal domes concealed dinner, marinated barbequed spatchcock served on crispy garlic and rosemary potatoes dressed with a lemon dressing, and were accompanied by a fine bottle of Tasmanian Pinot Grigio. As he had at breakfast, Jon helped Alex into her seat and removed the lids from their dinners before taking his own. He poured them each a second glass of wine and settled in for the hour plus journey that would take them to their destination.
"There's something I've been meaning to ask you" Jon said.
"Oh and what would that be?"
"Well, your circumstances seem to have changed a bit since I was here last and you've told me as much on a couple of occasions now. Surely being staff photographer doesn't pay that well...." he said
"Oh I wish..... No actually, I had a small windfall. My father's Aunt passed away a year or so ago. She was a spinster, never had any children. I used to visit her after school when I could; apparently I was the only one. When she passed a little over a year ago now, she left her entire estate to me. She had made some very wise investments over the years and was quite wealthy, now I'm benefiting." Alex explained.
Jon and Alex spent the remainder of the trip getting to know each other over again. They had spoken throughout the day but hadn't really touched on the years they had lost. Alex told him about her studies and her launch into a media career, Jon shared tales of life on the road and the stresses it bought.
Time passed in an instant and soon the captain was dropping anchor off the coast of a small reef island. Alex could see a lighthouse and several outbuildings silhouetted against the night sky, but a lack of lighting led her to believe that the island was uninhabited that night. A mixture of excitement and anticipation at the thought of being alone, truly alone, with Jon set her stomach aflutter. She had imagined, dreamt this evening a thousand times and so far nothing even came close to what she was experiencing.
Jon helped Alex into a small boat that had been towed behind the yacht and got in himself sitting beside her, cradling her to his side, the captain joined them at the stern, controlling the rudder. He steered them into shore and dragged the boat up onto the sand so that his passengers wouldn't get too wet when they got out. When both of them were clear the captain pushed the small boat back into the water and was gone. Within half an hour the yacht would be gone from sight, moored on the other side of the island, ready to return them to the resort the next day, but only when summoned.
Jon took Alex's hand and led her slowly up the beach. Off in the distance he could see their destination clearly and a pang of trepidation gripped him. Now that he was finally there he was....scared. That was the only word for it. What if she didn't like what he had done? What if she had changed her mind again? What if it was not what she wanted? What if he was not what she wanted? These questions and dozens more swirled around his brain, and the closer they got, to his surprise, the more anxious he became. For her part he needn't have worried, as soon as the scene he had set for them became clear to her, so did his intentions and this time she was ready, even eager to see them through.