Before she knew what was happening, Jon had gathered her in his arms and was kissing her with a hungry intensity that shocked her momentarily into submission. She felt him guide her back into her room, and heard the door slam as he kicked it closed behind them. In four short paces he had her on the bed beneath him, her black fitted suit jacket was open and he was pulling at the silver silk cami she wore beneath. Suddenly her senses came back to her.
"Jon...Stop!" She said, her hands braced on his shoulder trying to push him away from her as he ravaged her neck.
"Jesus Ali, you have no idea how much I need you right now." He growled as he continued on his path down to her cleavage.
"Jon. Don't!" She gave one hard shove and he pulled back looking down at her puzzled.
"What's wrong baby?"
"I am not doing this with you here. Are you insane? My husband and your wife are both downstairs. Rick could walk in here any minute." She said as she sat up and straightened her clothes.
"Nah...he was busy telling Dot all about the Middle East. They'd make a great couple you know." He curled his hand around the back of her neck and drew her to him.
She pulled back. "Jon, I said NO!" She stood and took two steps back from where he sat on the edge of her bed.
"Ali, what the fuck? We don't have a lot of time here." He muttered, his dejection presenting itself as annoyance.
"We can't do this Jon." She replied calmly. She wouldn't rise to his provocation.
"The hell we can't. Jesus babe...I haven't seen you in over a month and it's not like your making things easier." He retorted angrily, jumping to his feet.
Now that was going too far. "The hell I don't." She mimicked his tone. "I'm the one who's been flying all over the fucking country to see you."
"Oh fuck you, Alex. You do not. You see me when it's convenient for you to see me." Jon snapped back.
"Well isn't that the pot calling the kettle black. Get out Jon." Alex indicated the door with a flip of her wrist. "I don't have time for your bullshit."
"My bullshit?" He replied coolly. "Are you fucking kidding me? You want me to just follow you around like a fucking puppy dog don't you? Well guess what, Alex, that ain't my style. I could walk into that room downstairs right now and pick any woman and take her to bed...married or not...husband there or not...but not you. No never you."
"Just go Jon...I don't want to argue with you anymore." Alex said resignedly shaking her head. "It's not worth the grief. Not for the little I get in return."
"Oh, that's just perfect. Run away again Ali. That's what you always do. You never want to face our reality do you?" He challenged.
"What's that Jon? That your job and your wife and your music and everything else come before me? Noooo honey, I faced that a long time ago. I just can't fight you over it anymore."
"That's what I don't get babe... you have just as much consuming you as I do. You don't see me making demands of you." He watched as she raised a single sardonic eyebrow at that. "Can't we just accept that what we have is real. Can't you just love me for me? And appreciate the time that we do have together? 'Cause let me tell you honey, there are a whooooole lot of women who'd give their right arm to trade places with you right now."
"Get over yourself Jon." She huffed, "I do love you for you. That's why I can call you on your bullshit. And, whether you chose to admit it or not, I am the one making all the sacrifices in this relationship. As for those other women... if you can find one that will have your egotistical ass...please be my guest. Don't let the fact that you say that you love me stop you. But know this; I do not intend to stand here while you rub your hoards of admirers in my face. I'm not exactly wanting for attention here either you know?"
"Oh really?" Ales watched the play of tension across his jaw as his teeth clenched shut. "So that's how it's gonna be, huh? Name one sacrifice you have made for me...just one?"
"I could name several."
"Let's hear 'em babe?"
"The job with Versace I turned down so I could fly out to LA to be with you. Or how about the trip to visit my husband I cancelled when you were having your latest emotional crisis? Or we could explore the fact that you fucked me in my husband's bed despite my protests and I have been living with the guilt of that ever since." She hadn't protested hard admittedly...but she had protested.
"You found more work in LA. It's not like you were there just for me babe?"
"The hell I wasn't...and it wasn't a fucking million dollar contract...it was a lousy spread for fucking People."
"And suddenly not flying out to visit Rick..." he spat out the name in disgust, "....was all about me? Admit the truth Ali...you didn't want to see your..." he couldn't say it, he couldn't call that man her husband, "...him. You must think I'm fucking crazy. Don't even go there."
Alex stopped the continual pacing she had kept up throughout the argument and dropped to sit on the edge of the bed. "Just go Jon, please."
Jon opened his mouth to address the third and final issue when he looked at Alex...really looked at her...seeing her for perhaps the first time that night. She sat on the edge of the bed, shoulders slumped, head down and shaking no in a clear posture of resignation. What he saw immediately evaporated his temper. He urged himself to remember that the woman before him was not Dot. She was not the one making demands on him. She did love him unconditionally, regardless of how infrequently they saw each other. He tried to remember why he was arguing with her. Everything she had said was true. All of her points were valid...It was too risky to start anything here. Oh hell.
"Alright look, maybe I was a little out of line." It was the closest to an apology he could come. It fell far too short.
"Just go. I don't want to hear it anymore." Alex turned her back to him.
"Shit." He took a step towards her and stoped when he saw her frame stiffen. He didn't want to argue any more. "Ali, I didn't come up here to fight with you. I just...I love you so much. You have no idea what it does to me to be away from you...and then to have you this close and not be able to touch you...to love you like you deserve....it's making me a little crazy babe."
"It seems like I spend more hours out of every day and night than I should trying to figure out a way I can steal just a few hours with you but hell, you know what my life is like at the moment. I am being torn in a million directions. I am under an unbelievable amount of pressure," he raked the long strands of hair out of his eyes, "I don't seem to have a second to myself...but any down time I do have is spent thinking of you.... and you're...you're the only peace I have. When I'm with you it's the only time I can just...be me. I need to be with you Alex."
"Please Jon...just go. I'm too tired to do this with you right now. All I have heard from you in your little speech is how this affects you. You haven't even considered me. The fact that I am always here when you need me...I said need Jon, not want. Or that not once through this whole thing have I made ANY demands on your time ...while you have made countless on mine...It's always all about you."
"I see." He said sadly, still a little stunned at her dismissal.
"I wish you did."
Jon opened his mouth to respond, closed it realising there was nothing more he could say, and walked silently out the door.
"Fuck," Alex muttered under her breath as she re-entered the banquet room a short time later. Standing together, over in the far corner of the room was her husband and...Dorothea.
Rick immediately caught her attention and waved her over. She plastered the best smile she could manage on her face and started towards them. From the corner of her eye she spied Jon at the bar. In the time it took her to cross the room she had observed him down three shots of amber liquid in quick succession. This isn't going to be pretty, she mused.
"Hey babe," Rick smiled at her warmly, "All done and stowed away?"
"Yep." She smiled back. "Sorry, I was a little longer than expected. I marked up all the film canisters ready for the lab. The courier will be here first thing in the morning to get them back to the studio. Lanie is going to get started on the developing for me, while we get a few days to ourselves." She snuggled into the warm security of Ricks embrace and turned to face Dot. "I hope he didn't bore you too much?"
"Are you kidding me? It's fascinating. Although, I'm a little surprised you let him out of your sight. It sounds like he has had a few close calls over there." Dot replied.
"I could no more keep him from his work than you could keep Jon here from the stage." She answered as Jon stumbled up behind his wife and laid a wet sloppy kiss on her cheek as he fondled her distended belly. "And I wouldn't want to. My career is also very important to me. I can't imagine my life without it, so I know just how he feels."
"Jon...stop that," Dot disentangled herself from her husband's drunkenly amorous embrace.
"What?" he asked indignantly. "I'm not doing anything wrong. I can cuddle my wife in public. I'm allowed to do that." He looked pointedly at Alex for the briefest of seconds, bent to kiss Dots tummy and then leaned in to kiss her.
"Jon...Please." She leaned away from him, but he swayed slightly so she stepped to his side placing an arm around his waist to steady him.
Alex watched him sceptically. While she had seen him down the three drinks in quick succession on her way into the room, she hadn't seen him drink the rest of the night. Something told her that he wasn't quite as drunk as he appeared. Jon moved around to stand behind Dot and once again placed his hands over her belly. Alex could have sworn he looked directly at her as he did, but she had been distracted by Dots next question.
Picking up on the earlier conversation she asked Alex, "But surely a family is important to you too. I just can't imagine what my life would be like without little Stephy and this one on the way. Carrying a child is such an amazing feeling...a miracle. It's really something you shouldn't deny yourself Alex and I doubt you'd be able to keep up your current pace when you're pregnant." Dots hand moved to cover Jon's on her stomach. Sometimes it was just easier to flow with the tide than fight it.
Alex's eyes began to sting, "That won't be a problem."
"I really don't see how you'll be able to manage both." Dot continued oblivious.
In perfect unison Jon and Rick both said "Alex can't have kids."
Dot flushed bright red, and at the same time that Rick drew Alex further into his protective embrace, she was swinging out of Jon's, turning to glare at him. "Jon, why didn't you say something before?" She asked in a dangerously low voice.
He shrugged non-committaly.
"How long have you known? For that matter how did you know? I can't believe that you are standing here flaunting this in Alex's face." She kept her voice low trying to spare herself any more embarrassment.
"I'm not flaunting anything. You're the one going on about it...not me." Jon said defensively.
"Well I wouldn't have mentioned it if you had of said something earlier." Dot ground out through clenched teeth.
She turned back to face Alex. "Alex...I am so sorry. I didn't know."
"Don't be silly. We are dealing with it aren't we, honey?" She turned and laid a hand on Rick's cheeks and kissed him soundly. "We still have each other and that's more than most people ever get. And don't be annoyed with Jon. He obviously just wasn't thinking. I don't think anyone would be that cruel intentionally."
Jon had enough grace to look uncomfortable when she said this.
"There isn't any hope? I mean medical research is coming along in leaps and bound these days." Dot asked.
Suddenly Alex could barely speak past the lump in her throat.
"Afraid not. The doctors were pretty confident in their diagnosis." Rick answered for her.
Struggling to keep her voice even, Alex said, "If you'll excuse us. I think I'd like a little time alone with my husband." The band struck up a slow song and she turned to Rick, "One dance before we head up stairs?" she asked.
"Anything for you babe." He took her hand and led her across the room to the dance floor.
Alex felt Jon's eyes on her back the entire time. When she had returned to the reception earlier she had made a promise to herself not to flaunt her relationship with Rick in Jon's face. Even now she had no real desire to do so. She knew how much it could hurt. But as Rick folded her into his arms and pulled her close, she couldn't help shooting one smugly defiant look in his direction.