"I can't believe you did this Dorothea. We discussed it. We agreed we weren't ready." Jon's tone was now resigned. He'd passed anger hours ago.
"I didn't do this alone you know. It takes two to make a baby Jon." She said hurt. "Besides it's not like I planned it. I told you to use something. You were in such a God damn rush that night. I didn't know what had come over you."
Jon remembered back a few weeks. He knew exactly the night this child had been conceived, they hadn't made love for weeks before or since. It was the day he'd run into Alex. He went home looking for...he didn't know what. Comfort...hardly. But Dot had been there... as she always was. He couldn't call what they had done that night making love. It was raw animalistic sex. There were no tender touches, no gentle caresses. It was primal...he had taken her, pounding into her for all he was worth, inconsiderate of her feelings. At that moment they were inconsequential. She was merely the means to the release he needed, the release he had sought in Annie that first night...the release he hadn't found. He had fought to keep Alex's name slipping from his lips as he spilled his seed deep within her. Now he was paying the price.
"I can't talk about this anymore. I have to get out of here," Jon snapped as he paced the floor. He felt like a caged lion, backed into a corner and vicious. If he didn't leave now he would surely say something he would regret.
"Where are you going?" her voice was soft, reconciled.
"I don't know...Mom's...maybe the city." He said as he grabbed a bag from the closet and began to throw in some clothes."
"Please Jon...don't go..we can work through this," she was pleading now.
Jon paused what he was doing, but he couldn't bring himself to look at her. "Everything will be fine Dot. I just have some shit to work through and I can't do it here. I'll be back in a few days...I just need some time to think."
"Fine go...but Jon...when you come back...make sure you know what it is you want 'cause I can't keep living like this."
"I know Dotty...I know. And I'm sorry...I don't know what else I can say. I'll see you in a few. I have my cell if something urgent comes up."
Dot understood his meaning precisely...don't call if it's not life threatening.
"G'bye hon." He kissed her on the forehead and disappeared from the room.
Jon threw his bag into the trunk of his Camaro and pulled out of the drive way, still unsure of where he was heading. He was only a couple of blocks when he pulled the car to a stop on the side of the road and pulled out his wallet and his cell. He slid Annie's card out from one of the dividers and cursed as another fell to the floor. He dialled in her new number and waited... no answer. Eyes closed, he collapsed forward resting his head on the back of his hands that were now gripping the top of the steering wheel.
When his eyes flickered open a minute or so later a flash of white on the floor caught his attention. He reached down and picked up the small rectangular card, his eyes immediately focusing on the name. Without thinking twice he dialled the number.
"'lo," her voice was thick with sleep. He looked at the clock on the dash...FUCK it was almost midnight. "Hello..." she said again.
"Alex," he croaked, "sorry...I shouldn't have called. I didn't realise it was so late. Sorry to disturb you. Go back to sleep, baby."
He stomach twisted at the affectionate term. "What's wrong Jon...you sound terrible."
"No..nothing...I'm fine. Really go back to sleep." He fought to keep his voice steady.
"Look Jon..if we are gonna do this friend thing there has to trust and for that there needs to be honesty. Now I know something is wrong...what can I do to help? You wouldn't have called if you didn't think I could."
"To be honest Ali, I didn't think anything...I just dialled."
"What's happened? Is everything ok? The boys, Dot, the baby?" She flinched as she said it.
"Everyone's fine. Dot and I are having some issues...that's all. Not enough for you to lose sleep over. Go back to bed."
"I haven't left it," that conjured an image he really didn't need right now, "Look it will only take me a couple of minutes to throw on some clothes. How about you come meet me for coffee? I'm in the city anyway."
"I uh...I'm not really...It's ah..." he stumbled over his words, "It's not a conversation I could have in public Alex. Just go to bed. Sorry I woke you. I'll talk to you soon."
Her voice was anxious when she spoke. "Jon...Jon...please...don't hang up..." she listened and waited for his response. He didn't speak again but she could hear him breathing.
"Jon... Listen...why don't you come here? I'm staying at The Barclay again, suite 1402." She again waited for an answer but there was no response.
"Jon...are you there."
"I can't do that Ali. It wouldn't be right." His voice was thick with emotion.
"Listen...you wanted to try the friend's thing...well here is our chance. This is what friends do. When should I expect you?"
"An hour I guess..maybe a little less."
"Ok good..knock a little loudly when you get here...in case I fall asleep." She said.
"Ali...are you sure about this? I'm really not great company at the moment." He was giving her the opportunity to back out.
"I'm sure Jon. I made you a promise...I keep my promises. I said if you needed me, I'd be here...and honestly Jon...I don't think you've ever needed me more. I don't know what's going on...but I do know it's big to have you this shaken. So get your ass off the phone and over here now." She insisted.
"I'll see you soon...and Ali"
"Thanks...I know this can't be easy for you."
"It's nothing Jon...To quote the song....that's what friends are for. See you soon." She said and hanging up the phone, she laid her head on her pillow, and though she didn't expect to, fell back to sleep within minutes.
It was less than an hour later that a groggy Alex stumbled to the door of her suite, after a loud knock had roused her. Her lips were full and pouty, her eyes slitted under generous curling lashes, her long dark waist length locks sleep tousled, and she wore a pair of pale pink satin boxers, loose and slung low on her hips and a short midriff soft cotton knit sleep T in the same color. She didn't realise what an amazingly erotic picture she posed as she opened the door. She took his breath away.
Through slitted eyes she looked at him, her assessment was blunt, "You look like shit."
"Geez...thanks Alex. I can always count on you for honesty." He grinned, it felt unnatural on his lips...it had been so long since he'd had a reason to smile.
"Yeah well...come in." She motioned him in and lifted both hands to finger comb her hair back from her face. It caused her short top to lift even higher so that it barely covered her full breasts. Jon consciously fought the erection that was now beginning to stir.
He stepped in the door and she closed it behind him. She didn't realise until she heard the thud, that he had been carrying a bag. It now lay on the floor at his feet. She looked at it pointedly.
"It's not what you think. I'm going to check in for a couple of days. I just can't face going home at the moment." He said in explanation.
Alex watched as he rubbed his face with trembling hands. She didn't know if she had ever seen him this upset...and then she remembered that day in her mother's foyer so long ago, as he begged her to stay with him...effectively as his mistress. She didn't know which was worse...then or now but the urge to comfort him was overwhelming.
"C'mere," she pulled him into her arms, gently stroking the hair at the nape of his neck with one hand as the other soothed his back. He was trembling with emotion.
She pulled back from him, "Come and sit down..."
"No Alex, you were sleeping I know how hard you work I can't do this to you. I should just go." He bent to retrieve his bag from the floor.
She put her hand over his and guided the bag back to the floor. "Don't be stupid I can have coffee for us in ten minutes."
"I really don't want coffee. I just need to talk. I need to be near you." She shot a warning look at him and he clarified his statement. "I don't mean that the way it sounds. I just...I need to be close to you Alex...not like... you know.... It's just that when I think of comfort...I think of you. I've never been as happy as I am when I'm with you." He fell into her, and she wrapped her arms around him.
She waited a few moments before drawing back from him, she took his face in her hands and traced the dark shadows under his eyes with the pads of her thumbs. "Have you slept?"
He shook his head, "I haven't been able to."
She took his hand and led him to the bedroom, "Here...you sleep in here...I'll take the couch. We can talk in the morning."
"I can't kick you out of your bed," he protested.
"Look at you your dead on your feet." She knelt down and helped him off with his shoes. All the while trying to remind herself that she would do this for any friend. This was no different. She swung his feet up and he collapsed against the pillows.
"Can I get you anything...a glass of water?"
"Mmmm that would be nice." His eyes had already drifted closed. It had been months since he had felt this sense of peace.
When Alex came back in a few moments later, Jon's breathing was deep and even. She set the glass of water down on the nightstand and slipped under the covers on the other side of the bed. He was laying on his side now. What could it hurt if she held him for a while, while he slept. She moved in close and spooned his sleeping form, propping her head on one folded arm and wrapping the other around his waist. She would be gone before he woke...he would never know any different.
Jon let out a soft sigh as she wrapped herself around him. The noise was lost to her in the rustle of the sheets as she settled. Her body was warm and soft against his. He felt her gentle kiss on the nape of his neck...but he was too far into sleep to realise that she shouldn't even be there. In that moment, all was right with the world...he was right where he should be...in Alex's arms.