Alex emerged from the steaming hot bath, her skin now flushed pink from the almost scalding water. Her hair was swept up into a loose knot at the top of her head but loose damp tendrils escaped at the nape of her neck and along her hairline framing her face. Her cheeks like her body held a rosy glow.
She picked up the plush white robe from the hook and wrapped it around her body before moving into the bedroom of the hotel suite. It was just one of several that had been booked for the wedding which would take place in just a few days... her wedding. It seemed an impossibility, the day had come so very quickly.
As she walked into the bedroom, a garment bag hanging over the door caught her attention. Funny...she hadn't even heard anyone knock; obviously the valet had placed it there while she had been in the bath. She plonked herself down onto the bench seat at the end of the bed and stared long and hard at the bag then wondered, in amusement, what she expected it to do. It was almost as if she feared its contents. Perhaps because she knew what the bag contained ...her wedding gown.
It was as if the bag was beckoning her. She strolled to it dutifully and unzipped the long zipper that ran along its length then gently shrugged the bag over the shoulders of her gown delicately pulling the lacy creation from its sheath. It still took her breath away. Antique off-white lace, dotted sparsely with Swarovski crystals, fell from just under a ruched silk bust. When on, it clung to her curves enticingly to mid thigh then fell in flowing lines to the floor, a three foot train trailed behind. Inch wide gathered straps grew wider and flattened as they reached the top of her shoulders forming almost a sweetheart neckline. It was very different from the designs of the time, but very much Alex... feminine but with clean lines and no frills. A fine tulle fingertip veil, her only concession to current trends hung behind the gown.
Alex could not believe that time had rushed by so very fast. It seemed like only days before that she was standing in the Library at the Springsteen house with him. She took a sharp intake of breath as the memory hit her like a blow to the stomach. These days Alex did the best she could to keep him from her mind. It was proving to be a difficult task, one made all the more difficult by his insistent desire to contact her. Her staff, Lanie in effect, had fended off his daily attempts to contact her since their confrontation. She had to give it to him....he was nothing if not persistent, but Alex had no desire to see him after the horrible nasty things he had said to her. Unfortunately for her...if she was honest with herself.... the desire she felt where he was concerned was far worse.
A sharp rap on the door startled Alex and she moved over to the peep hole to see who it could be. She wasn't expecting anyone. Her parents and future in-laws would be arriving late the next day and Rick and his mates had flown to Las Vegas that morning for a couple of final celebratory nights of bachelorhood. On glancing through the peep hole all Alex could see were masses of Red roses. Rick, you sweet man, she thought to herself as she swung the door open.
"Hi," she said already turning to the table in search of her wallet, "I'll just get you a tip." She pulled a ten from her purse and was instructing the delivery man as she turned towards him. "Just put them on the...." she broke off mid sentence. "What are you doing here?" Her voice turned cold immediately.
Jon stood just inside the door to her hotel suite looking sheepish. "There was no other way I could get you to listen to my apology." He shrugged.
"Now isn't the time Jon" There was a hardness to her voice that he hadn't heard before and he cringed.
"Please Ali I didn't come here to fight with you." His pet name for her, regretfully, still set her heart to flutter "I've been beating myself up for the past two months over the things I said to you at Bruce's. I'm not here to do anything but apologize and wish you and Rick every happiness."
"Fine you've apologized now go," she said arms crossed defensively against her chest.
"I need you to know that I didn't mean any of those horrible things that I said." He moved a step closer and closed the door behind him.
Her tone was cool and even but she couldn't keep eye contact. "But you see I think you did...things said in anger often have some truth to them...so thanks for clearing it all up. It made my decision much easier. Believe it or not I was actually swaying for a while there while you were speaking."
Jon flashed a killer smile and chuckled lightly shaking his head. "You know one of the things I will always love most about you..." He moved another step closer to her "you are absolutely one of the most stubborn women I have ever met."
Much to her chagrin a smile crept into Alex's features.
He continued encouraged, "And you are wrong you know. I didn't mean those things. I was hurting and when I'm hurting I become an asshole."
"Yes you do" She agreed enthusiastically.
"Will you please accept my apology?" Jon moved to the desk, placed the large arrangement of flowers down gingerly and took her hand in his. "I will never forgive myself if we can't be friends again Alex. Please...please at least allow me that."
"Were we ever friends Jon," She asked pulling back from him and taking a step away. His close proximity was making her uncomfortable "I kind of think that we skipped that. Maybe that's where we went wrong."
"Well maybe we should start over." He held out a hand "Hi, I'm Jon."
Alex paused and eyed him suspiciously but reluctantly held out her hand but instead of a hand shake as she expected he raised her hand to his lips and placed a lingering kiss on her knuckles. The touch of his lips burned her skin...a heat that raced straight to her cheeks.
"Alex... pleased to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine Alex," he said with a wiggle of his eyebrows. He had not yet released her hand. "Lovely suite you have here."
Alex's knees buckled and he caught her and steadied her.
"Are you ok?"
"Fine" She said "I think perhaps the bathwater was a little hot that's all." She said loosely indicating the direction of the bathroom, forgetting that her wedding dress was hanging over the adjacent door.
"So this is the dress?" He said trying hard to disguise the pain in his voice.
"It is. You like?" She glanced over her shoulder again, at the delicate off white lacy creation, following his gaze.
Jon was having a hard time finding his voice. For a man that made a living with his words, he seemed to be at a loss for them now. When he did manage to speak the sound that came from his mouth was strangely foreign... strangled with pain "You'll be the most beautiful bride who ever walked down the aisle."
"Thank you Jon. That means a lot. I'm glad you've come to your senses about this." She said quietly, she could see what it was costing him to express the sentiment.
The hint of a smile touched Jon's lips "Yeah, I have come to my senses about all this. And now that I have done what I came for, I should go." He agreed almost inaudibly as he once again reached for Alex's hands and pulled her close for a hug.
"Yes you should," Alex held on to him, not quite ready for it to be over.
"I hope you know that I only wish happiness for you." He whispered softly in her ear "He's a very lucky guy."
Jon stroked his fingers softly into the curls at the nape of her neck and pulled back to kiss her forehead.
"Thank you Jon...I just wish...." she paused.
"... things could have been different," he finished for her. "So do I honey, so do I."
Alex looked into Jon's eyes and saw the underlying sadness there. She delicately kissed the corner of his mouth but let her lips linger just a few seconds longer than she should.
"You shouldn't have done that Ali," he said, his voice husky as he turned his head slightly and roughly devoured her mouth.