The start of the story can be found here and it can be navigated by using the menu to the left or by selecting newer post or older post at the bottom of each chapter.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The smell assaulted Alex the second she entered the room. The small space was thick with the odour of illness, disinfectant over....what? If she was neutral to the situation, or if she was being honest with herself, she would have said death....she was neither. That thing in the bed, that grey lifeless thing was her father.
His chest rose and fell in time with the machine that pumped air, pumped life into his lungs. Alex took a hesitant step forward. She could see now that the thick clear tube entered her father's body through a slit in his throat. A dressing surrounded the gash, but she knew it was there.
She turned back towards her mother. "Why the respirator?"
Her mother just shrugged. "There was some damage to his lungs. Assisted breathing I think they called it. It was supposed to be taken out this morning but...." her voice trailed off.
Alex turned back to look at her father to see that his eyes were open. He gazed at her beseechingly, begging her forward with his eyes. Alex took the final two steps to his bedside and picked up his hand. His fingers were cold, even icy.
"I'm here daddy," she croaked out around the lump that had formed in her throat. Her eyes were glassy, but she had promised herself she would not cry in front of him. "How you doing old man?"
At just forty eight years of age Gino Belle was far from old, but it had been a joke between them since Alex had become a teenager. At the tender age of thirteen, thirty seven had seemed ancient. It didn't seem so old anymore.
Gino smiled up at his daughter weakly. "Better...," he swallowed thickly and with great effort, "...now that you're here, angel." His voice was thin and thready.
A single tear slipped over Alex's lower lid and down her cheek. She turned her head away from her father and looked towards Jon for help. He had been hanging back near the door, but now he moved forward to stand near her. He put a hand on her cheek and discretely swiped at the tear with his thumb, before wrapping one arm around her, pulling her in close to his side, lending her his strength. She was almost as pale as her father, and he hadn't thought it was possible to be that pale and still breathing. She leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.
"Daddy, do you remember Jon?" Alex asked. "He was kind enough to offer me his private jet to get me here as quickly as possible. He even came along to make sure I'd be ok." She offered by way of explanation. It came out in a nervous whoosh of breath.
Gino opened his mouth to speak again and winced sharply.
Jon rested a hand lightly on Gino's arm to halt his attempted speech. He marvelled at the strength of the muscle beneath his fingers, it was a complete contradiction to what his eyes were showing him. When in good health, this was a formidable man. "Please Mr. Belle, don't try to talk. It's good to see you again, Sir. I just wish it were under better circumstances." Jon said politely.
Gino nodded in agreement then mouthed his own name.
Jon smiled at him, "Ok then.... Gino," he replied, instantly getting the older man's meaning.
Gino lips curled slightly in response and slight raised a thumb. The move was barely perceptible in his weakened state. He glanced past Jon and Alex, and the both turned to see what had caught his attention. A nurse in scrubs, pushing a stainless steel trolley was just entering the room. Sophia followed her in from the corridor.
"She's here to remove the respirator." Sophia explained. "Well have to go wait in the visitors lounge until she's done."
"Sorry," the nurse apologised, "you're mum explained that you just got here, but this was scheduled for this morning and we've had so many emergencies come through, this is the first chance we've had to get up here."
Alex smiled weakly at the nurse, "That's ok. I haven't spoken to mum yet. We'll just go catch up on the news." She turned back to her father. "We won't be far Daddy...just right down the hall here. And we'll be back as soon as we can."
Gino nodded slightly in acknowledgement. Alex could see that even that small movement was causing him pain.
"I'll take care of her Sir." Alex had turned away and wasn't sure if Jon's statement was independent or in reply to some gesture of her father's. He led her out of the room and down a pale blue corridor. Why was it that all hospitals seemed to have the same color schemes? Either beige, pale blue or pale green. She much preferred the blue, though she wasn't sure she'd feel the same after today.
About twenty yards down the corridor, in the direction from which they entered, Sophia indicated a Visitors Lounge off to the left.
"I'm just going to the bathroom," she said, "I'll be back in a minute." She continued on down the hallway.
Alex and Jon stepped into the room, it was small and cozy. It housed two softy upholstered, warm gold sofas - a two and a three seater, and a small maplewood coffee table. Off to the side on the left wall was a small sideboard with tea and coffee making facilities.
Jon pulled Alex into his arms and cradled her gently against his body. Neither of them spoke a word. They didn't need to; the comfort was in simply holding each other.
Jon felt Alex tremble in his arms and a patch of dampness slowly increased in the soft cotton of his t-shirt. Gently he tilted Alex's face up to his and kissed away her tears. He placed feather light kisses on each of her cheeks, and then moved lower to capture her pouting lips in a chaste but leisurely kiss. It was at that exact moment that Sophia returned from the bathroom.
She cleared her throat in the doorway to announce her arrival. Jon pulled back from the kiss and released Alex from the circle of his arms, but did not relinquish contact completely. He wrapped one arm supportively around her waist, and watched as Sophia strode purposefully into the room.
Sophia sat at one end of the nearest couch and indicated the spot next to her for Alex. It was the two seat sofa, and Alex wondered whether the gesture was purposely meant to exclude Jon, or simply an oversight. She tended to think the former.
Alex took a step towards the other sofa, but Jon pulled her back gently and steered her towards the seat next to her mother. Once she was settled he perched on the arm beside her, her hand firmly held in his own, resting on his lap.
Sophia looked at their hands thoughtfully for a few moments. Finally she spoke. "Alex, what's going on here? Is there something you need to tell me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't play dumb with me young lady. When I saw you last, you had just married Rick," Sophia watched Jon flinch at the mention of the name, "and yet here you are in another man's arms and your husband is nowhere to be found."
"Jon is a long time friend, Mum, he is here to support me until we can contact Rick and get him home." Alex explained. It sounded rational, so why was her stomach still doing somersaults.
"Alex," her mother looked at her from beneath raised eyebrows, "have you forgotten I know the history here...all of the history. Besides, what I just walked in on was far from friendly support."
And there was the reason for the somersaults. Her mother certainly didn't know the whole history, but she sure knew enough to make this very uncomfortable. "Jon, honey, would you mind if I spoke to Mum alone for a while please?"
He looked at her for a long moment. When she offered him a small smile of reassurance he nodded his ascent and rose to leave. "I've got a couple of calls to make. I might just see if I can find a phone. I won't be too far and I'll be sure to let the nurse know where I'll be."
Alex squeezed his hand. "Thanks babe."
Jon bent down then hesitated momentarily before placing a gentle kiss on her lips. It seemed as though her mum was privy to the state of play anyway. He figured it couldn't get much worse.
"Be back soon." He smiled tentatively at Sophia as he left the room; her response was a stony glare. And he thought his mom was a tough cookie to crack. Perhaps it could get worse after all.
Jon was finally situated at a pay phone with a cup of coins sitting on a ledge before him. He was going to do this when they got back to a hotel, but Gino didn't look good and he wasn't sure when or even if that would happen. There was no way he was going to leave Alex.
He dialled the number for an assisted call and the operator picked up and asked for the number. He gave it to her and waited. It would be the early hours of the morning at home now.
Finally the call clicked and he heard Dots voice echo down the line. "Hello? Jon?"
The operator asked for payment and he dropped coin after coin in the slot.
"Yeah...it's me," he said over the clang of change. He leaned his head heavily on his forearm, supported by the phone. The weariness was beginning to hit him now.
"Where the hell are you Jon?" Dot's tone was edged with sleep and irritation.
"What do you mean, 'where am I?' I'm in Sydney with Alex like explained yesterday." Jon replied, trying his best to keep the irritation from his.
"Jon, please tell me you mean the Sydney near Tampa?"
"Why the hell would I be in Florida?" Jon snapped. He looked around to make sure he was truly alone. The last thing they needed was for this to be tomorrow's headlines. ROCKSTAR TRAVELS TO OZ TO SUPPORT DEVASTATED MISTRESS.
"Why the fuck would you be in Sydney Australia?" Dot returned.
"HMMM...now let me think about this for a second," he replied sarcastically, "maybe because Alex is Australian and this is where her parents live."
"Jesus Christ Jon, I wish when you told me you wanted to be there for Alex, you made it just a little clearer exactly what that would entail. I have no problem with you helping a friend Jon...but Jesus...the other side of the fucking world? What do I tell everyone? The tour starts in just a few weeks and there is so much left to be done. That's your problem I guess, but if you don't care about that, tell me what I'm supposed to tell Stephy?" Dot seethed.
"Tell Stephy I'm working...she wouldn't know any different. As for the rest Dot...I don't give a fuck what you tell them." Jon replied coldly.
"Please Jon...Think about what this looks like." Dot said exasperated.
"It looks like I have heart...that's what it looks like!"
"It looks like you have a dick. That's what it looks like." She retorted angrily.
"Oh for fucks sake, Dot!" Jon took a deep steadying breath, forcing himself to look at this from Dots point of view. The fact that there was more truth than not in what she was saying probably helped. It was hard to pull off righteous indignation when you were far from righteous, especially when, just hours before you'd been wrapped body and soul around another woman.
"Look ... I'm sorry if this looks bad from where you're sitting ... But Listen Dot, things aren't looking so good here at the moment. We have been trying to get a hold of Rick but he's in the field with some kind of special ops platoon and can't be contacted. They are sending a scout out after him but that could take days. Sophia is a strong woman, but the love of her life is hanging on by a thread, so it's all she can do to function. Alex is supporting her. And I'm all Alex has at the moment...I can't desert her now." Well that bit about Sophia may have been a slight exaggeration...
There was a long pause and then Dot sighed heavily, all the fight draining from her. "And I wouldn't ask you to. Just get back here as soon as you can. We miss you." Her husband wasn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination...But he was a good man...and he meant well in what he was doing now. If only she could shake the niggling feeling that there was more to Alex than met the eye.
"I miss you too." Jon said softly. "Is that Stephy I can hear?"
"Uh huh, the phone woke her; she must have crawled in here with me in the middle of the night. She wants to say hello."
"Put her on." Jon heard a little shuffling as Dot positioned the phone at Stephanie's ear and then Dots voice in the background "Say hello to Daddy, Stephy."
"Dadda?" A little squeaky voice intoned.
Jon's face split into a wide grin. "Hey baby girl...watcha doin?"
"Dadda come home?" His little girl asked.
It was the hardest thing he ever had to do...leaving his kids. But the consolation in this was that it was for Alex. "Soon baby...I'll be home soon"
Dots voice sounded hollow in the background. "Say bye-bye Stephy."
"Bye Dadda. Love you." She said in her little girl sing-song voice.
"I love you too Stephy...more than the whole wide world. Kiss Jesse for me." He told her hurriedly.
"I'm back." It was Dots voice again. "I have to go. I have to get this one back to her own bed before she thinks it's playtime. Next time you call can you try for our day so you don't wake the kids. "
"Ok babe, I'll try...thanks for being so understanding about this. I love you." He said sincerely.
"Yeah well with you... 'understanding' is something I've had plenty of practice in." She said. "And I love you too. Come home soon." Then she was gone.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
They were somewhere over New Zealand before Jon finally got his meal. Alex had jumped in the shower to freshen up, after several hours of passionate love making. She had joined the mile high club in style. The only way to go Jon had assured her. It had proved to be a very effective distraction from her worries, but now, with home so very close, the weight of those worries was rapidly crashing in.
Her body began to tremble, and it wasn't from the cold. The spray of water she was under was just shy of scorching. She braced her hands against the wall to hold herself upright, and when that didn't work, she slid down the smooth panel and curled up into herself under the scalding rain.
Jon returned to the bedroom to find that Ali was still absent. He knocked on the bathroom door gently and let himself in. Through a cloud of thick steam he could just make out a crumpled figure in the base of the shower. He moved to it quickly and pulled the door wide. More steam billowed out and Alex was revealed. She sat dazedly on the shower cubicle floor. Hot water steamed over her, turning her flesh an alarming shade of pink, but she paid it no mind.
Jon leaned in and flicked the tap closed. "Ali, baby, what are you doing?"
She stared at him for a long moment before she answered, "I have to get clean before I see daddy. I can't see him like this. Not like this." She gestured to herself.
He wrapped her in one of the large plush white towels, speaking to her gently as he led her to the bed. "Alex, you are not dirty. Do you hear me? You are fine. Better than fine, you're beautiful."
Alex shook her head violently. "How could I do that Jon? How could I make love to you like that when daddy is..." she paused momentarily, taking a deep breath, as she struggled to reign in the hysteria that was threatening to erupt, "Daddy might be dying...might even be dead, and all I could think about was...."
"Alex, we didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything wrong. You sought comfort in the arms of someone who loves you, in a time of high stress, that's all. It's not like we could do anything for your dad while we were in the air anyway. Laying alone and letting your concern for him fester will not make him feel any better." Jon had resisted taking Alex in his arms until this point, fearing her stability, but now he drew her in close. She sat there stiffly, neither reciprocating nor resisting his embrace. But that was ok....it would all be ok. For the next couple of hours that was his mantra. He didn't know who he wanted to convince more.
It was a good hour before Alex felt stable enough to get up, and get herself dressed. Jon had carried her back to the bed after her mini meltdown and then, at her request, had left her alone with her thoughts. She knew in her heart, that her response to what had happened was irrational...like Jon had pointed out, she hadn't done anything wrong. That, however, did nothing to assuage the terrible guilt her brain battered her with. It was debilitating, and right now, it was the last thing she needed.
Once dressed, Alex joined Jon in the main cabin, sitting next to him but avoiding eye contact. He studied her intently, his face cautiously blank. It was the mask he wore when he was trying not to show his concern.
"Better?" He asked hesitantly.
Alex tried for a smile, but when that failed she just took his hand and squeezed reassuringly. After a few seconds of continued staring from him, she nodded stiffly.
As the sun set over Sydney the plane finally bumped and bounced onto the runway. It taxied for what, to Alex, seemed like forever. As it slowed and come to a full stop the anxiety in her settled, and in its place an eerie calm descended.
The second the door was open Alex was on the steel steps descending to the asphalt. Jon was right behind her. They were led by airport officials through customs. Their minimal luggage, and a few well placed phone calls prior to leaving, proved advantageous and they were on their way to the hospital within minutes.
The cab pulled up in front of the Emergency entrance. It was a hive of frenetic activity. Two ambulances were in bays immediately in front of wide sliding glass doors that led to a triage area. A medical team worked frantically to get a young man covered in blood and thrashing wildly out of one vehicle and into the ER. In the silence after his departure, the loud metallic clang caused by the wheels of a second stretcher - containing an elderly woman wearing an oxygen mask - hitting the ground, and locking into place caused Alex to visibly startle. Jon took her elbow to steady her.
"OK babe?" He smoothed back a lock of hair that had escaped the lose ponytail she had tied at the nape of her neck.
She looked up at him, and saw the concern shadowing his beautiful blue eyes. He had removed the customary sunglasses, but kept his shoulder length hair hidden beneath a well worn Giants baseball cap. She reached up and laid a hand on his stubble roughened cheek, in a gesture of reassurance.
"Yep." It was the first word she had spoken to him since he'd left her in the bedroom of the plane. "Let's go." Drawing in a deep breath, she stepped forward into the mayhem of an inner city emergency room.
Inside was worse than out. People in various states of ill health and distress, crowded the cavernous space. Across from the entry door, several staff members sat behind a counter topped with a glass petition that extended up to the ceiling. When Alex approached the kindly looking woman in the centre, she raised weary eyes and glared blankly through the glass.
"Can I help you?" her voice was a bored monotone. She had clearly seen too much in this horrible place to show any enthusiasm for the job.
Alex disclosed her father's details and was promptly handed a slip containing his location within the hospital. When they arrived at the bank of elevators as directed, she hesitated for only a second before glancing around. Obviously spotting what she was seeking, Alex headed for an unobtrusive door just a few feet away. She rushed into the stairwell and bounded up the cement stairs, taking them two at a time, leaving Jon to trail after her. She burst through the door on the fourth floor, and came to an abrupt halt, causing Jon to barge right into her.
"Alex?" he questioned, as his arms wrapped around her waist from behind. It was a motion meant to comfort her as much as it was meant to steady them both after their impact
She stood there staring down the long, sterile, fluorescent lit corridor, absolutely motionless except for her heaving chest, as she was transported to another corridor in another hospital not all that long ago. As he held her firmly against him, the strength from his body leeched into hers, and gave her the ability to speak. "I'm okay. It's just....the last time I was in a hospital...it was..." her hands moved protectively across her stomach, "...and now, daddy..."
"Baby...I am soo sorry. You shouldn't have had to do that alone. But I am here for you now. This we are going to do together," he assured her.
With that, Alex disentangled herself from Jon's arms, took his hand and headed for her father.
The Intensive Care Unit was jarringly quite. The only noise was that of the assorted machines that simulated or monitored life. The monotonous, regular beep, beep, beep of a heart monitor was music to the ears here.
A nurse approached Jon and Alex as soon as they breeched the doors. "Can I help you?"
"I'm here to see Gino Belle." Alex replied quietly.
"Are you a relative?" The nurse asked. She was severe in looks and stern in nature, and Alex knew it wouldn't be good to be on her bad side.
Alex didn't even get the opportunity to answer. Sophia stepped out of a nearby doorway, and Alex threw herself into her mother's arms. The nurse turned quietly back to her duties.
"Oh baby...I'm so glad you're here. He's been asking for you." Sophia said, embracing her only child with a strength that belied her age.
"How is he?" Alex asked, drawing back so she could study her mother's face.
"Stable. That's the most they'll give me at this stage." Sophia looked at Alex for a long moment then drew her back into her embrace. It was only then that she noticed the unobtrusive man, standing just a few feet away.
Sophia stepped away from Alex and moved over to Jon, her hand extended. "Thank you so much for bringing her home. It means more to me than you can imagine." Her demeanour wasn't exactly welcoming despite her kind words. Jon had the distinct feeling that, had Alex not been immediately behind her, he would have been summarily dismissed. He took her hand and shook it gently. Her grip was firm, and just like her tone held a hint of indifference.
"Glad to be of service Mrs. Belle. There is no way I could let Alex do this alone." Jon said.
"You've done well to deliver her here safely...now she has her family for support...and I am sure you have to get back to your own." Sophia's tone was gentle, but cool nevertheless.
Jon opened his mouth to reply but didn't get the chance. He wondered what he would have said if he did.
"Mother!" Alex scolded, "Jon has just flown half way around the world to support me. Do you think you could be gracious enough to let him do so without judgement?"
"I wasn't...I...I just thought he might like to get back to his own family, now that you're here with yours." Sophia replied, suitably chastened. Now wasn't the time for the discussion that was very obviously necessary.
"Alex," Jon spoke up, "It's fine...your mom is under a lot of stress right now. Don't worry about me. Go to your dad. I'll wait for you out in the visitors lounge."
"No!" Alex replied, clutching at his shirt. The vehemence behind the word was shocking to Sophia. She had thought that her daughter's reliance on this man was long over. She was very obviously wrong. "I want you by my side." Then, a little quieter Alex added, "I need you by my side."
"Well that's where I'll be." Jon looked upon Alex with total devotion. The love in his gaze was palpable. With a little apologetic smile in Sophia's direction, Jon took her daughters hand, and together the pair entered her ailing husband's hospital room.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
"Hi mum. How..."
"Alex...Thank God you called. Where are you honey? How soon will you be here?" Her mother’s words were hurried, almost frantic.
"We're in Hawaii refuelling. We should be there in about ten hours or so. How’s Daddy?" Alex asked.
"He isn't great honey. We lost him through the night but they managed to revive him."
Alex gasped audibly and Jon, who had been reclined on pillows propped up on the head board, immediately sat up to study her face. He mouthed the word "what?", but Alex just shook her head. Her mother was still speaking. "He's stable at the moment." Her mother paused, Alex assumed to take a breath, but then she said, "Wait a minute Alex... Did you say we? Did Lanie come with you after all?"
"No mum ...Jon did."
There was a long silence on the line.
"Honey, are you sure that's a good idea?" Sophia asked quietly.
"No! But it's his plane. I couldn't very well stop him from coming, now could I?"
Jon fought to hide the frown that was itching to erupt on his forehead. The last thing Alex needed was to think he was pissed. And he wasn't really. He just wasn't too sure what he thought of Mr and Mrs Belle...or, more importantly, what they thought of him. He had never given them reason to like him, let alone welcome him into their daughter’s life.
"Alex I have to go. Daddy is waking up. I'll call you if anything changes. I love you." Sophia said hurriedly.
"I love you t....." but the line was ready dead.
Jon sat patiently by Alex's side as she sat in stunned silence, a myriad of thoughts whirling around her brain. Finally he could take it no more.
"It's not good," Alex said gravely. "Daddy died through the night." Upon seeing the look of horror on Jon’s face, she rushed on. "They managed to revive him, and Mum said that he was waking up while I was on the phone...so that's a good thing I guess," she said, almost trying to convince herself. "I had no idea it was this bad Jon...I mean, I knew but...well, I never really believed he could..." she choked back a sob.
“Shhh baby, shush. You can’t think like that.” He cupped her right cheek in his left hand, and gently swiped at the single tear that fell from the corner of her eye with the pad of his thumb.
“Let's just wait until we get there and see what's happening for ourselves. And remember, no matter what, I'm here by your side. I'm not going to leave you Ali. I'm here for as long as you need me...however long...you are my only priority right now.”
Alex shook her head forlornly. “Don't say that Jon. We both know that's not true. I appreciate your support but I don't need false promises. You have a family, and a tour to plan and conduct. You have commitments and as much as I'd like things to be different sometimes, I know they don't include me.”
“That's where you’re wrong Alex. You mean the world to me. And I meant every word. I'll be here as long as you need me...right here by your side. The rest of the world can go to hell.” He protested passionately, and she almost...almost believed him.
She longed to believe what he was telling her, but she knew that if, or when, it came to the crunch, his professional ethics or his moral obligation to his family would win out. And she couldn't even be mad about that. If he didn't display those qualities he wouldn't be the man she'd fallen so hopelessly, helplessly in love with.
If the situation she found herself in wasn't so dire, she could almost find this amusing, in a dark sadistic kind of way. The very same qualities she admired in him were the same qualities that kept them apart. She was caught in a trap of her own hearts making... A trap she wasn't ever likely to escape. She didn't know that she would, even if she could.
“Thank you,” she whispered, snuggling into his chest. There was no point arguing with him. He never lost an argument...even when he was wrong.
“You'll be ok baby. Whatever comes...whatever faces us in Sydney, I have no doubt that you will be fine.” He assured her.
“I'm not worried about me. I just hope we can say the same for daddy.”
Looking down on her profile he could see that her brow was furrowed, her full lips made even fuller by a sorrowful pout. “Me too baby...me too.” He whispered against her skin as he kissed her forehead softly. It was a soothing gesture that never failed to calm her, something he had learnt quickly even with the limited amount of time they had together. “Are you hungry baby? Can I fix you something to eat?”
“I'm really not hungry, Jon. Thanks. But don’t let me keep you from eating... You go fix yourself something. You must be starving. It's been hours since you ate.” Alex insisted.
Jon disentangled himself from her arms and the tangle of bed linen blanketing them both. Alex watched as he pulled a pair of sweats up over taught thighs and a tight rounded ass. The fact that he was naked hadn’t even registered with her until that moment. But it was certainly registering now. She felt a pang of guilt for thinking that way when her father lay in a hospital bed, miles away, so direly ill.
Jon felt her eyes on him and turned towards her. His chest was waxed smooth after a series of promotional photos he had done, and his nipples stool proudly erect. His torso was sculptured, cut lines of hard muscle under soft skin. He had been training hard, she could see...conditioning himself for the upcoming tour. It wouldn’t be long now until he’d be leaving her...going away for months on end. It was hard...being without him...harder than it ever was when Rick was away. She shook her head to clear her thoughts; glanced up and realised he was looking down at her with an amused smile. It was only then she realised she had been staring.
“Sorry.” She offered meekly.
“Don’t be, I like it when you look at me like that. In fact, you are the only person I enjoy looking at me like that. Usually I just feel like a piece of meat...but with you...with you I feel....” his sentence trailed off.
“Beautiful?” she finished for him.
He smiled coyly, “yeah...I guess. Corny huh?”
Alex shook her head. “Nope. That’s how you make me feel every time you look at me.” She laughed once, a short amused ‘humph’.
“You...you're just a big bag of contradictions wrapped up in a very beautiful skin.” Her lips kinked up in the hint of a smile.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” He grinned over his shoulder, as he approached the door. His sculptured stomach was starting to growl, Alex noted. She could hear it from the other side of the room.
Alex was saved from answering when a soft knock came from the other side of the door. Jon opened it just a crack, offering Alex a modicum of modesty.
Through the gap Alex could barely make out the pilots hushed tones. “We’re in Honolulu, sir. I expect we’ll be touching down in Sydney in approximately ten hours, local time 1800 hrs. I have had taken the courtesy of having some meals arranged while we've been refuelling. They’re in the warmer in the galley when you are ready for them.” He explained
“Thanks, Pete. I appreciate that.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you or the lady sir?” The man asked. He was middle aged, perhaps a few years older than Jon, with a distinguished capable air and impeccable manners. His hair was silver at the temples, and the tailored suit gave only a hint of the trim, fit physique beneath. Alex felt completely safe in his proficient hands.
“Besides getting us to Sydney as fast as this tin bird can carry us...” Jon replied, “No Pete, I don’t think so, no.”
“Understood sir, if you and the lady will prepare for takeoff, we’ll be in the air as soon as we get clearance from the tower...unless of course you wanted to eat beforehand.” Perhaps he had heard Jon’s stomach rumble as well, Alex mused.
“That’s fine. I can wait a few minutes ‘til we’re in the air. Let’s get up there.”
“Yes sir.” Came the efficient reply.
Jon quietly closed the door behind the retreating pilot, and sat lightly on the edge of the bed. “I'm going to make use of the bathroom while we're stopped.” Jon said, rising and heading in that direction.
Alex watched him retreat and felt and unexpected yearning in the base of her stomach. Surely she couldn’t be thinking of that at a time like this?
Jon returned just a moment later. “As soon as we’re in the air I’ll grab that bite to eat. You sure I can't tempt you?” He asked her.
“Oh honey,” Alex said, with just a hint of her usual mischievous self shining through, “you always tempt me. And although the object of that temptation is very rarely food, it has often led to my mouth being occupied.” She grabbed Jon and pulled him down on top of her.
Perhaps there was something that could take her mind off her troubles for a while after all. As her lover engaged her in a kiss, and that kiss changed from something gentle and comforting, into something sensual and urgent, Alex’s mind drifted away from her father for the first time since that fateful phone call.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Jon's statement had Alex stopping dead in her tracks. She spun on him so rapidly that he almost barged right into her. "Coming with me? Jon, have you gone completely insane?"
"Ali," he said with exaggerated patience, as he tried to bustle her towards the plane, "We don't have time to argue this here. We can talk about it in the air."
"The hell we don't. There is no way in hell I am going to let you get on that plane. What about the kids? What about Dot? I will not let you risk your marriage like this." She stood firm.
"Risking my...Ali... what the hell are you talking about?" Jon's brows furrowed in confusion
"There is no way Dot would allow this. I am not letting you risk your marriage by flying halfway around the world with another woman...even if that woman is me."
"Alex...Dot knows. She's ok with it..."
"But..." Alex interrupted, as the heavens opened and the first large spots of rain hit the tarmac.
Jon gave Alex another gentle shove towards the plane. This time there was less resistance and she began to move, albeit slowly...though Jon was unsure whether this was due to compliance or the bad weather...he assumed the later. "No buts." He said firmly, with a hand on the small of her back urging her forward. "Listen, after my behaviour in Paris, Dot had a lot of questions. And I had a lot of explaining to do."
Alex paused and looked back at him startled. Why was now the first she was hearing of this? "She knows that we...."
"No. Not that much," he clarified.
"While we were having our little chat, Dot asked Rick why my behaviour had upset you so much, given that we were only casual friends. Apparently, Rick told Dot how much I meant to you. He told her that we had first met when you were young, and a fan of the band, and that we'd been friends, in one form or other, ever since, and that was why what I did hurt you so deeply."
"Rick never said anything."
"Why would he? I think after what I put you through his only concern would have been shielding you from any more drama." Jon explained. "So anyway, of course after that I had a lot of questions to answer... 'Was it all true?' 'Why hadn't I told her?' 'Why hadn't she seen more of you if the two of us were so close?'"
"And what did you say?" Alex asked alarmed.
"I bluffed my way through some...flat out lied through others."
Alex frowned at him disapprovingly, just as a large raindrop landed 'smack' on her nose. Jon worked hard to suppress a smile. There was very little that was humorous in this situation.
"What was I supposed to do Ali? Tell her the truth? Tell her that I've loved you since the day I saw you, and that I should never have married her and had our two beautiful children? I couldn't hurt her like that Ali...so I lied."
"And she is ok with you being here?" Alex asked suspiciously. There was no way she would allow a man she was in love with to go gallivanting across the world with another woman. Especially a woman he had lied to her about.
"I called Dot from your house while you were packing, and told her what was going on. She not only agreed that I should go with you, but insisted on it." Rain was falling in earnest now...If they didn't get in the air soon and above the storm, they would be having a very unpleasant flight. Jon looked at the sky and pointed up the metal stairs leading into the plane.
"She did not." Alex protested, incredulous, but moved up the stairs as instructed regardless.
Jon shrugged, "If you don't believe me, ask her." He held his cell phone out to her.
Alex stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to face him, she wrapped her hands around his one, the cell phone enclosed between them. "It really doesn't matter. I can't let you come with me, Jon. You have responsibilities here. Dot, the kids....new babies can be hard to deal with."
"Dot has all the help she needs. She has our parents...and staff at the house. Trust me she'll be fine. She is so used to doing it on her own...in all honesty I think she prefers it that way. You on the other hand, have no-one at the moment. Rick is away, Lanie has to stay here to deal with the business and your Mom is going to have her hands full with your Dad when he recovers. Let me do this for you Ali. Please...I need to do this for you. I need to make up for all the times I've been a selfish ass."
In that moment Ali loved him for one little thing...one little word...'when'. He had said when her Dad recovered...not if. "You don't have to do this."
Jon stepped up a step so that he was on the one immediately below her, bringing them face to face, body to body. "Yes baby...I do. Let me take care of you." He kissed her tenderly on the lips and ushered her inside the plane.
Alex startled awake when rubber skidded on asphalt. She was deeply embedded in a fluffy down duvet with Jon spooning along her back. The private master bedroom at the rear of the plane was much more comfortable than expected and it hadn't taken her long after Jon had ushered her back there, to fall asleep despite her worries. He must have joined her at some point through the night because she had fallen asleep alone.
Jon's breathing was deep and even at her ear, telling her that he was still fast asleep. She couldn't conceive how anyone could have slept through that touchdown. Though she supposed that with the life he led, he had become accustomed to lots of things your average person wouldn't.
She wiggled within the circle of his arms until she faced him, before speaking to him softly. "Jon wake up ... I think we're there."
"Huh...what?" Came the sleepy response.
"We just touched down. I think we're there." Alex explained.
Jon dragged his arms up from under the covers and rubbed his hands over his face. He bought his watch up to within inches of his nose and peered at it bleary eyed for long seconds, as he tried to force his sleep addled brain to make sense of what he was seeing. His watch said 9a.m., but the small sliver of sky he could see through the planes tiny window, was pitch black.
"I think we're in Honolulu," he told Alex. "Jeff said he would have to stop here to refuel. I'm sure we'll be back in the air soon." He pulled her in closer to him and kissed the top of her head.
It was rare moments like these he treasured most...just him and his lady...no interruptions. No wife, no kids, no cell phone, no work, no demands...no...husband. Alex tilted her face up to his and he laid a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Jon drew back a little. "How are you feeling, baby?" he asked softly.
"Mmmmm," Alex purred contentedly. "Better for being in your arms." Was it possible that for a few seconds, she had actually forgotten why she was here?
Once again, Jon pulled her tighter onto the circle of his arms and held her that way for a long minute before pulling back just enough to look at her. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to be there for you like I should have been. You'll never know how much I regret the way this has all turned out." He picked up her left hand and bought it to his lips. "That should be my ring on your finger. It should be my place to hold you like this."
"You're here now. That's what counts." Alex replied gently.
Jon remained silent for a while, contemplating her words. Despite what she said, he knew his place in her life fell far short of what she needed. If he was any kind of man at all, he would step aside and let her live her life with Rick. Yet even as the thought pounded around in his brain, he knew it was something he would never have the strength to do.
Her... Just think about her. This is about what she needs right now! "Did you want to try your mom again while we're here?"
"I...I don't know if I want to know." Alex answered, her voice quivering with hesitation.
"Baby, listen to me, we have another ten hours of fly time ahead of us, and communication may be patchy. Call your Mom. At the very least she'll be glad to know you're halfway home."
Alex nodded. "Stay with me?"
"Where else would I be?"
Alex reached for her cell phone on the bedside table and switched it on. It had been turned off, begrudgingly, as instructed by the pilot for the flight. Her fingers hovered over the keypad and remained there.
"Jon, what if..." her voice broke, "what if he's..." Alex choked back a sob.
"Alex, look at me," he tilted her chin up, "you can't think like that. You have to stay positive. He's a strong man honey. Just look at his daughter." He offered her weak smile. When that didn't work he pulled her to his chest and smoothed her hair. "As much as I want to, I can't promise you it will all be ok, baby. I won't lie to you. I have no idea what we'll find out when that phone gets answered, but whatever it is... I will be by your side and we face whatever comes together."
Alex pulled back and started dialling the number her mother had given her.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Alex rushed through the back door of her New Jersey home and scooped the phone off the counter just as the answering machine picked up. "Hello...hello, I'm here...hang on." She ran over to the machine and hit the stop button. When the sound of her own message had finally ceased she spoke into the receiver again. "Hello?"
"Hey baby." His voice was low and sexy...hell it was always sexy. The edge of seduction in it would usually have her thighs quivering but not this evening.
"Oh, hey Jon." She replied flatly.
"What's wrong Ali?"
"Nothing...everything...I don't know," she sighed.
If she was being honest, she would admit to herself she knew exactly what was wrong...things just hadn't been right for her since Dot had had the baby. It had hit her harder than she thought it would...and she had promised herself that she would never go through that again. But that meant....and she wasn't ready for that. She wouldn't give him up...she couldn't...not yet. But if there was another child.... She pushed the thought from her mind. It was silly to worry about things that most likely would never happen. Jon had promised her that Jesse was the last.
"What's going on? Why so down?" He asked gently.
"Just a tough day I guess." Alex shrugged irrespective of the fact he couldn't see her, "I'm feeling a little sorry for myself."
"Well I have the perfect antidote for that. I am taking you out." He said cheerily.
"I don't think so, Jon." Alex said glumly.
"What do you mean you don't think so?" He asked. "You're always complaining that we never go anywhere. And now I arrange it so we can and you say no?"
"I'm sorry Jon...I just don't feel like going out. I just came in from the garden...I'm a mess and ... to be honest.... I just couldn't be bothered." Alex dropped onto the stool at the counter and propped her head up with one hand.
"I'd offer to come to you but I know how you feel about me being in that house...I won't do that to you again." He said resigned. "Can we at last meet somewhere on neutral territory? I need to see you baby. Even if it's only for a few minutes."
The desperation in his voice tugged at her heart. "No babe...you know what...just come here. It will be fine. I mean I don't think I could ....you know...but I would love to be able to spend some time with you...just the two of us. Maybe snuggle up and watch a movie or something. Since Jesse was born I've hardly seen you...and soon you'll be gone on tour and..."
He cut her off. "When do you want me there?"
"Come when you're ready. I'm just gonna jump in the shower."
"Want someone to scrub your back?" She could hear the mischief in his voice.
Silence echoed down the line and he could almost see the look of disapproval on her face.
"It was joke, Ali." He chuckled
"No, it wasn't," she said firmly, brokering no argument. "But I can't do that, Jon. Not here. If that's what you're coming for, just forget it."
"I'm sorry baby...that's honestly not it. I just want time with you...no matter how we spend it. I'll be there in twenty."
"I'll leave the back door open." She said quietly and rose from the stool.
"See you soon." He heard the line click and pressed the disconnect button. Thankfully Dorothea had taken the kids to visit with her mother so he didn't have to explain where he was going. He grabbed a jacket from his bedroom. While winter was officially over, the nights still held a bite.
Standing at the door to his garage he considered his options. His lips curved up in a grin as he fingered a set of keys on the rack near the door.
As he pulled out of his driveway and onto Somerset Drive, the sun sank below the horizon behind him, casting an eerie glow as it back lit the dark heavy clouds that were just starting to blow in from the ocean. Just five minutes later he was pulling into her driveway.
As Alex stepped into her pyjama's she heard an engine growl and then die somewhere towards the front of her house. In fact she had heard that engine rumble its progress most of the way down her street. She ran down the hall way to the guest room at the front of the house and peered through the window. There, sitting on her driveway was a Harley Davidson motorcycle, tiny star bursts glittered from the chrome, sparkling under the glow of her security lights. A dark figure was stalking away from the bike and heading for her back yard. She flew down the stairs and met him at the door.
His faded blue jeans were tight, and hugged his thighs - and she was sure his fine ass - to perfection. She followed the line of them down to black scuffed biker boots. The matching jacket hung open to reveal a fitted white T-shirt beneath. The well worn black leather was soft to the touch as she pulled him to her for a welcome kiss.
"Conspicuous much?" She observed as she pulled away from his lips.
He chuckled, and the rumble of it vibrated through her. "Sorry babe. I couldn't help myself. It's been so long since I've taken her out. Do you think I can get her in the garage though? Looks like we're in for one hell of a storm. I didn't realise until I was pulling out of the driveway."
"I'm sure we can squeeze it in." She smiled and leaned up to kiss him again.
He indulged for just a moment before pulling back. "Baby...if you keep that up, I can't be held responsible for what happens."
"Sorry." She replied looking down.
"Hey," he said, tilting her chin up until their eyes met, "It's fine. It's just hard for me to be around you and not...well you know. But really, it's fine. We'll deal. Even if I have to find you a chastity belt." She offered him a tentative smile and his heart lurched. "Now, you go open the garage so I can bring the bike in and then we'll settle in for a movie...maybe order in a pizza. What do you say?"
"Sounds perfect." She gave him one more quick hug and headed for the garage.
Two hours later they were sitting cuddling on the couch. "Ok, are you ready?" Jon asked excitedly. "There." He said pointing at the screen.
"Where? Alex whined, turning away as she suppressed a cheeky smile.
"Oh come on Ali. You must have seen it that time. I was right there." He protested, pointing a little more forcefully. "Right there," he repeated. They were watching Young Guns II and he had spent the last few minutes rewinding and replaying the tape to show her his 'part'. Alex knew exactly when he appeared on the screen. She had watched the film countless times on her own just to see the few brief seconds he was on the screen but the opportunity to tease him was far too good to pass up.
She shrugged noncommittally.
"Fine," he huffed, "one more time. But if you don't see it this time, I swear Ali..."
"You'll act it for me personally? Will you fall for me Jon?" She giggled, covering her heart with both hands and feinting back onto the couch.
"Oh honey, I fell for you the second I saw you...and I haven't stopped falling since." He said, his voice softening. "Now watch." He added a little more sternly.
As the tape began to play, Alex rose from the couch and with barely a glance at the screen pointed to the exact spot that Jon would appear.
"You little brat," he growled, as he launched himself at her and brought her tumbling to the floor beneath him. She just giggled. He brought his mouth down to hers effectively stifling her laughter.
Passion ignited between them and what started out as innocent teasing soon evolved into something much more dangerous. Ali pulled back first. "We have to stop Jon."
Immediately he began to rise off her, though not without tremendous effort. She pulled him down for one last chaste kiss....a thank you for being understanding....and the whole process started again...roaming hands, panting breaths, writhing bodies. And that was when the phone rang.
"Fuck!" he exclaimed when she wriggled out from beneath him, more out of frustration than anger. Jon looked at his watch, 12.54am. "Who the hell calls you at this hour?" he asked, but was sure he didn't really want the answer. He rose and started to leave the room as Alex crawled towards the phone. He wasn't going to stick around for phone sex. Not unless he was on the receiving end.
Alex took a second to get her breath and then answered calmly. "Hello?"
There was a few seconds pause then, "Mum...what...?" Jon immediately halted and spun to face her. There was another pause. "Oh..." It came out on a whoosh of air. Jon watched her face pale as she listened further. "I'll be there as soon as I can." Pause. "No, Mum...I'm coming home. You need me. Da..." her voice cracked, "Daddy needs me. I'll make arrangements as soon as I get off the phone."
When Alex tried to put the phone back in its cradle her hands were shaking so badly she couldn't even manage it. Jon gently took the phone from her hand and put it down on the side table.
"What's going on baby?" He asked.
No answer. Alex just stood there staring off blankly to some far distant place.
He stepped in front of her and tried again. "Ali...baby...what's happened?" He shook her gently.
Her eyes gained focus. "Wh...what?" She said shaking her head as if trying to clear it.
"What's happened at home Alex?" He asked again clearly.
She frowned, "Daddy...there was...he was at the bank. There was a robbery...he..."she looked up at him, puzzlement and disbelief clouding her eyes, "he was shot, Jon. Daddy was shot, just standing there in line..."
"Is he..." Jon started.
"I have to get home. Shit Jon, I need to call the airlines. I need to..." In those few seconds she went from numb to frantic.
Jon grabbed her by the shoulders. "Ali listen to me. How bad is it?"
"They don't know. He hasn't regained consciousness. The bullet hit somewhere near his spine, but they aren't sure of the extent of the damage yet. I need to ring the airlines Jon." She tried to push past him, but he held her firm.
"Let me make a call first," he said pulling out his cell.
"I don't have time for this Jon. I have to get home."
"I know baby, I know. You start packing. I'll organise the rest. Just trust me ok?" He said calmly. He was the voice of reason she needed.
When Alex walked back into the room twenty minutes later, a large duffle in one hand and her purse hanging from her other arm, Jon was perched on the arm of the couch, foot tapping impatiently. He looked up when he heard her enter.
"Ok!" he exclaimed, "Got your keys?" he asked, and nodded when she opened her palm to show him that she did. "Let's go." He took the keys from her hand and grabbed the duffle.
"Where are we going? There is no way you booked a flight at this hour." She said trailing after him towards the garage.
"Yes honey, there is. It's called a private jet and it will be sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off by the time we get there."
"I can't do that Jon. I can't take your plane. Just book me a commercial flight. It will be fine."
"Baby, listen...now isn't the time to be stubborn or proud. I can't give you much and I can't do much for you...but I can do this. Your Dad isn't doing so great right now and you need to be with him. This is the quickest way to get you there, so damn it this is the way you're going." He said sternly.
Alex knew it was a fight she wasn't going to win; even if she could she wasn't sure she wanted to. Besides, Jon was the most infuriatingly stubborn man she had ever known. But she had to try nonetheless. "I have to call Rick." She said. It was a futile attempt and she knew it.
"You can call him from the plane." He put her in the passenger seat of her car.
"What about the paperwork...my visa...?" she asked.
"Sorted." He said simply.
Alex could think of no other line of protest. Once on the road to the airport, Alex once again retreated into a world of her own. Jon looked over at her every couple of minutes, worry deepening the few lines on his face. She was oblivious to his attention, seeing only a blur of lights out the side window as the car sped forward into the night.
They made it to the airport in record time and after a few words to the guard at the boom gate they were directed out onto the runway. Jon pulled the car to a stop before the jet. Bon Jovi was blazoned boldly down the side. He jumped out of the car, grabbed her bags from the trunk and threw the keys to a man standing nearby, just a streak of lightening brightened the night sky. The thunder clap that followed made Alex jump so severely as she exited the car, that she hit her head on the door aperture.
"Park it in the hanger Tony," he instructed. "Thanks." He turned to Alex, "Are you ok baby? That was quite a bump there?"
"I'm fine." Alex dismissed the injury with the wave of her hand. "Where is he taking the car? If he parks it in the hanger, how are you getting home?" Alex asked over her shoulder as she headed for the plane at an almost-run.
Jon was right on her heels. "I'm not." He yelled over a second thunder clap. "I'm coming with you."
Monday, March 8, 2010
It was a chilly day in February when Jon rushed from the cab directly into the foyer of a large tower of concrete, steel and glass in Manhattan. Outside a constant drizzle of sleet drifted down from gloomy grey skies. He gave his head a quick shake to rid his hair of the icy slush, and adjusted the deli bag in his arms. If Alex wouldn't come to him he would go to her, God damn it. He had tried earlier to entice her to lunch, but she assured him she was far too busy with a strict deadline to meet. She had done a photo session for an album cover, and the edited images needed to be submitted the following day so the covers would go into production on time. He nodded to the doorman as he passed, stepped into a conveniently waiting elevator and hit the button for the 24th floor, where he knew Alex would be slaving away in her new city residence come studio.
A sharp rap on the door had Alex's head shoot up. She wasn't expecting anyone today...it was the weekend for Christ sake...she didn't generally see clients on weekends...but did that stop them from coming around? She ignored the persistent tapping. When the intruder knocked more forcefully, she cursed but tried to remain focused on the work before her. When the knocks turned into loud thuds, she strode to the door with the sole purpose of telling the person on the other side of it just where they should shove their fist. She swung the door wide with a serious amount of bluster, but the second she saw who was standing on the threshold, all the wind went out of her proverbial sails.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, an edge of her recent annoyance creeping into her voice.
"Aw, come on baby," Jon cooed as he stepped through the door, "don't I deserve a better welcome than that? I did bring lunch after all." He held up the deli bag.
"Ooh, what did you bring?" Alex asked excitedly.
"So you don't get excited when your lover...a stunningly gorgeous international rock star slash actor, no less....," he added mockingly, "...turns up on your doorstep to fuck you senseless...but you do get excited over the food he brings. Hmmm....we may have to work on your priorities Miss Belle." He still couldn't bring himself to think of her as married, let alone refer to her in that sense. So the maiden name remained, besides he justified to himself, she still used it professionally anyway.
Alex giggled. "I only wish I had time to be fucked senseless. Now what's in that bag?"
"Only the best pork roll sandwich Jersey has to offer," he beamed at her.
"Hmmm yummy...you definitely do deserve a good fucking..." she said, he grinned and reached for her but she stepped deftly out of his path and continued, "but can we take a rain check til this job is in the bag...literally in the bag. I need to get it in an overnight satchel first thing in the morning."
"I can wait. Eat first, work second, fuck last. You should always leave the best for last anyway...and I am definitely the best." He wiggled his eyebrows.
"Ha, Ha." Alex replied.
After a very satisfying lunch, Jon insisted on staying to keep her company while she worked. He settled on the couch with a book, and without so much as a murmur of complaint, let her go about her business.
When dinner time rolled around he ordered in pizza and made sure she ate, before returning quietly to his book. He was exhibiting patience she didn't even know he possessed. She doubted that when he had insisted on staying he had any idea of what he was letting himself in for...but he had showed no signs of wanting to leave anytime soon.
It was hours later, as Alex was bent over a light board full of negatives, that the sound of deep rhythmic breathing drifted to her ears. She turned slightly and looked over her shoulder to the long, white, low line couch that was the only piece of furniture gracing a wall of windows. Outside the city lights twinkled against the inky black backdrop of deep night, only a few stars bright enough to compete. Inside, another kind of star dozed on her couch.
He lay stretched out on his back. His left arm was slung carelessly across his face shielding his eyes from light, his right hand rested on the bare expanse of skin created where his soft blue cotton T had ridden up from his low slung faded denims. The book he had been reading rested open and face down on the floor beside the couch.
Alex grabbed her camera and crept quietly towards him. She checked the camera settings and shot off a rapid succession of photos. Jon stirred under the intrusion of the camera flash, not quite waking but rolling onto his side, resting his cheek upon his clasped hands. A stray lock of hair fell across his face. Alex moved forward and ever so gently pushed it back and away from his eyes, before crouching in front of him with her camera aimed. Dropping her camera she paused and just looked at him...really looked at him. In sleep he was stripped of all the responsibilities and trappings of fame and fortune, he was just a man...a gorgeous, sweet, sexy, thoughtful man, who in that moment, looked so carefree, so vulnerable, that her heart swelled with love.
This was the man she had fallen in love with so long ago. Over the years she had periodically questioned her feelings and motives in loving him, often wondering if she had been captivated by the rock star instead of the man. In this moment all of those doubts melted away. There was only one reason why she was here, and he was lying peacefully asleep in front of her.
Alex raised the camera and took a couple more pictures before putting it aside and kneeling on the floor at his head. With a feather light touch, Alex brushed her fingers through the hair at Jon's temple and bent to kiss him lightly on the lips. "My love," she whispered against them.
As she rose and turned to head back to her desk, he snagged her hand and pulled her down on top of him.
"Oh you...you..." she squealed, swatting him playfully on the chest as she nestled into his arms. "You are supposed to be asleep."
"How could I sleep through that kiss? I thought the prince was supposed to awaken Sleeping Beauty with a kiss...not the other way around." he smiled up at her...a slightly crooked, sleepy, sexy smile and then drew her down to him for a kiss. The second their lips touched the spark ignited and all thoughts of sleep or work were banished.
The kiss was languorous and consuming. Jon reached up to the nape of Alex's neck, where he found the clip that bound her hair and released it. Lustrous waves of deep auburn cascaded over her shoulders and around them. Jon threaded his hands in it and twined its silky strands around his fingers.
Alex let her hands drift over the firm lines of his chest until she found the pert buds of his nipples through his shirt. She gave them a little tweak and smiled when his chest rumbled with an almost inaudible groan. Jon held her tightly to him before sitting up abruptly and yanking the offending garment off over his head...he wanted nothing in the way of her touching him.
When Jon collapsed back onto the couch, Alex remained upright and adjusted her position so she was straddling him. She could feel his rock hard length pulsing, even through their two layers of denim jeans and the one of filmy lace that covered her core. She scored her fingernails down his chest, flicking over erect nipples, continuing down over defined abs, before resting her palms flat just below his pectorals, where she could feel his ribcage expand and contract with each ragged breath.
Jon could feel the wet heat of her core penetrate their clothing as she undulated above him. With each movement, the coarse texture of the denim rubbed across the tip of his cock, eliciting a sharp intake of breath. He lifted his hands and took her face between them, tracing the lines of first her jaw and then her collarbones with his thumbs as he flattened his palms against her overheated flesh and began his journey down. He paused at the swell of her breasts to cup them as he rolled her nipples expertly between his thumb and forefinger. Her movements became more urgent, and in turn so did his.
As Jon's hips arched up off the couch beneath her in his desperation to get closer, Alex felt the sweetest sensation shoot from her core to every nerve, from the very top of her head to the tips of her curled toes. Her head fell back in pleasure, exposing the graceful line of her throat. Unable to resist, Jon sat up pulling her to him, nuzzling into that sweet place just below her jaw.
The sensation of her soft mounds with their erect nipples against the hard plains of his chest was his undoing. He lowered her onto her back and came down on top of her.
"God Alex, look what do you do to me?" He rumbled, grasping her hand and putting it on his erection. She rubbed up and down his length through the fabric of his jeans and he moaned. "Oh fuck yeah," he growled through clenched teeth.
Alex smiled. "Baby," she cooed, "I haven't even started yet."
She managed to manipulate her other hand in between them to join the first at their joined crotches, and began to work on the fly of her jeans. Realising what she was doing, Jon raised his pelvis off her slightly, and with a little difficulty, Alex managed to undo her jeans and wiggle them off her hips. The black lacy creation beneath them could barely have been considered underwear.
"Christ," Jon muttered against her lips after looking down her length, "you're trying to kill me here aren't you."
His mouth claimed hers with an urgent possession, his tongue slipping inside as his finger slid under the lace and into her core. She moaned.
Her hands fumbled at his zipper. "Off," she said urgently.
He lifted a little once again. The second his pants were open, her hand was inside them, her fingers wrapped around his hard thick length, pre-cum oozing onto her palm as she stroked him.
An alarm sounded, and a vibration buzzed at Jon's hip. "What the fuck?" she snarled.
To Jon that noise was like a bucket of ice water. Every muscle in his body tensed. "Please God, not now....not now." He whispered, dropping his head to her shoulder. But instinctively she knew.
He reached to unclip the offending article from the waist band of his jeans. She hadn't noticed it before. It was a pager. He glanced briefly at the screen and cursed. "I have to go."
"Why? What's going on? What's...." the question trailed off as realisation hit. "You've got to be fucking kidding me? Now?"
"Could the woman have worse fucking timing?"
"Jesus, Ali I'm so sorry."
"Just go." She said softly. Alex watched as the panic from her words touched his eyes. He thought she meant he had to leave for good.
She didn't allow him to finish the sentence, "I mean... go be with your pregnant wife. She needs you more than I do right now. I'll be here when you can get back." She assured him.
"I don't want to leave you like this." He said, clearly torn. He had moved himself into a sitting position and she got up to sit beside him.
"Jon, your wife is in labor...you have to go." She rose to her feet, he followed, pulling her to him.
"Fuck baby, I really am sorry." He looked at her pleadingly.
"It's fine Jon. I'm fine." She kissed him tenderly then disengaged from his arms so he could dress. She bent to retrieve his shirt from the couch arm, where it had landed just a few minutes earlier, while he fastened his pants. She turned the shirt out so it was the right way around and handed it to him. "Now you need to go."
He pulled the shirt over his head and ran his fingers through his mussed hair. "I love you." He whispered in her ear as he drew her in for one final hug.
"Love you too." She said as she pulled back. She kissed him chastely on the lips. "Now go...before you miss it." She urged.
"You are one special lady Ali. You know that?" He said as he headed for the door.
She smiled. It was a small tight smile. "Call me when there's news." She called after him as she followed so she could lock up behind him.
"You'll be the first. I promise." He raced back to her, kissed her again and was gone.
Alex slid down the wall and sunk to the floor near the door, her knees drawn up to her chest. She hated this...really hated it. No matter what they may have together, this was something she could never give him. It was a connection they would never share...not only that, it was one she would never have with anybody...and that knowledge was absolutely devastating. Tears coursed down her cheeks as her body was wracked with silent sobs of desolation.
Alex sat slumped against the wall for a long time, until the chill from the cold concrete wall permeated her bones. When she shivered, she looked down at herself and realised she was still all but naked. She drew herself off the floor and walked zombie like into her room, not bothering to head back into the studio to clear up and or even turn off the lights. She fell into bed and soon after into a restless sleep, filled with dreams of a dark haired, baby girl with her gentle features and Jon's blue eyes.
She started awake when the phone rang. Fumbling to retrieve it from the side table, she was finally able to answer it on the forth ring. "Hello?"
"It's a boy."
And the tears started again.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Alex and Rick sat in the Salon César Ritz, enjoying the breakfast buffet that had been catered exclusively for the guests of the wedding. Both of their plates were piled high with sausage, eggs, bacon and toast. They were refuelling for their last night together in Paris. Tomorrow they would each catch a plane, Rick back to the Middle East and Alex back to New York.
The couple sat side by side, Ricks arm was slung casually across the back of Alex's seat as he whispered something in her ear. Her answering chuckle immediately drew Jon's attention as he escorted his wife into the room. He stood frozen in the doorway.
"Jon..." Dot asked "...are you coming?"
"Huh? Oh yeah."
He followed Dot over to the buffet table and retrieved a plate from the warming rack. Not one thing he passed appealed to him. As he trailed along behind his wife perusing the buffet spread, Jon would surreptitiously glance in Alex's direction. She looked calm and relaxed as she joked with Rick, but every now and then when her husband's attention was diverted - when she thought no one was watching - he could see the sadness behind the facade. The sadness he was sure he had caused.
Alex hadn't noticed his presence in the room yet. Or maybe she had and she was just choosing to ignore it. That thought was like a spear to the gut. He was so engrossed in watching Alex, he hadn't even noticed that while she seemed oblivious to his presence, her husband wasn't. Rick caught Jon's eye and nodded. Jon nodded back.
He caught up to Dot who had progressed further down the buffet line than he had in his distracted state. "Babe," he said gently, "will you be ok for a while? There's something I have to do."
Dot looked at her husband curiously and then followed his gaze to where it was settled on Alex. "Don't you think you did enough damage last night? She looks happy enough Jon. Just leave her be."
"I owe her more than that Dottie. She deserves an apology and I'd like to give her one."
"Hey, they're your balls. Knock yourself out."
Jon drifted towards their table, the empty plate forgotten in his hand.
"Morning guys." He said quietly so as not to startle her as he sidled up to the table.
Alex ignored him.
"Mornin' mate," Rick smiled. "Did you get some sleep?"
"Eventually yeah," he chuckled and winked over Alex's head, "thanks. Hey man, would you mind if I borrowed your gorgeous wife for a bit?"
Alex shook her head almost imperceptibly, pleading Rick with her eyes to say no.
"Of course not man. Go ahead." The irate look Alex shot her husband would have been amusing had Jon not known he was the cause of it.
"Alex?" Jon placed his empty plate on the edge of the table and held out a hand for her to take.
"Jon can't we do this some other time...I just sat down to eat." Alex protested.
Jon just shrugged, "I promise I'll have you back before your eggs are cold...and hey, even if I don't..." he added with a sheepish smile, "...it's a buffet...I'll make you a new plate myself."
"Ok fine," she rolled her eyes, "but this better be quick. I don't get enough time with my husband as it is," she said, having the satisfaction of seeing pain flicker across his beautiful face. Rising, ignoring the hand he offered, she demanded, "Where?"
"Follow me." He turned to Rick before walking away. "Thanks man."
Rick nodded once.
Jon placed a hand on Alex's back to guide her from the room and felt her stiffen beneath his palm. Could he expect anything less? He led her through a pair of French Doors to a beautiful little courtyard garden. The second the door closed behind them, he knew it was a mistake. Soft flakes of snow drifted slowly to the ground where they immediately turned to slush. All of the trees were baron. The fountain – the centrepiece of the garden – sat dormant for winter. Alex who was dressed in only a light sweater shivered violently with the cold.
"Shit," he cursed, "this ain't gonna work." He glanced around the small garden and saw a door off to their right slightly ajar. "Here," he said and grabbed her hand unconsciously, as he led her to the only shelter from the elements he could see.
The door led to a small private dining room that adjoined – by way of an ante-chamber - the larger one they had just been in. The room was arranged for an intimate dinner for two. The table was intricately laid with all of the finery royalty would expect. On the far wall a fire blazed beneath a marble mantle, framed by two sumptuous arm chairs. Jon pulled one closer to the fire and indicated for Alex to sit. She complied.
Rather than sitting in the other he pulled up a foot stool so he was directly before her. He sat stiffly, legs open, feet placed either side of hers. His elbows rested on his knees and his hands lulled between them. He seemed to be focused on some area between them and the floor.
Tension sparked in the room while Jon mustered up the courage to speak. Just as Alex was about to rip into him he raised his head and met her eyes. "Jesus Ali, I don't even know where to start." He paused and drew in a deep breath exhaling loudly before he continued. "You know I'm not someone who likes to admit they're wrong...but yesterday...last night...baby, I'm so sorry. I have no excuse."
Every word of the tirade Alex had prepared evaporated from her mind with those few words. But he wasn't done yet. He reached tentatively for her hands. She didn't pull away.
"What can I say baby? Jealousy is a terrible thing, and not something I am accustomed to, except it seems where you are concerned. I can't tell you how much I hate seeing his hands on you. And do you know what the worst thing is?" She shook her head slightly, his eyes never left hers. His thumbs traced circles on the back of her palms. "I actually like the son-of-a-bitch."
Alex found her voice, "Do you think it's any easier for me Jon? I've been watching you with Dot for years. She is a wonderful woman, Jon. You know that right?" He nodded. "I feel like a god damn whore every time I'm in the same room as her. You're hers Jon. You belong to her in every way possible."
"Not in the way that counts most...my heart belongs to you."
"Oh Jon." She shook her head hopelessly.
The silence seemed to stretch forever then.
"Did Rick mention I saw him last night?" Jon finally asked, shifting his focus to the floor.
Jon chuckled. "Probably didn't want to embarrass you."
"Why would you seeing my husband embarrass me?" Alex had no idea what he was talking about.
He chuckled again, but there was little amusement in it. "Never mind."
"Oh no you don't, Jon...What are you talking about? Where did you run into my husband?"
Jon winced, he really hated that word. "In the bar."
"Oh...what were you both doing in the bar? And when? I wouldn't have thought `he would have time since we...." she let the thought trail off but it was obvious to Jon where it was heading.
"Rick came down for a drink. I couldn't sleep." He said simply. He met her eyes again. "I felt like an ass for the way I treated you and besides..." He looked back down at his feet.
"The couple in the next room were going at it half the night and I could hear it through the walls." His expression was hidden from her but she imagined that mischievous grin of his.
Jon didn't elaborate further. Slowly the cogs of her brain turned over as she wondered why he had told her this. Well she had asked, but his reluctance to meet her eyes was telling her there was more to it. After a couple more minutes of consideration Alex's face began to redden.
"What room are you in Jon?" She asked softly.
"216." When he looked up there wasn't even the slightest hint of amusement in his features as she'd imagined. His expression was...tortured. The term sounded melodramatic to her mind but there really was no other way to describe the pain that was so clearly etched into every line of his face.
"Regardless of all the shit with Dot," he said sadly, "at least you've never had to listen to us."
"Oh Jesus Jon, I am soooo sorry." She took his cheek in her palm. "I swear...I didn't know you were next door." What a fucking nightmare this weekend was turning into.
"I know that Alex," he said, his voice raw with emotion, "but would it have made a difference if you did?"
"Jesus Jon, do you seriously think I could hurt you on purpose like that?" She asked.
Like what I did to you last night. "Fuck. I'm sorry Ali. I know you'd never be capable of that. That's the kind of shit I would pull....I did pull." He shook his head. "It's just that...well...I guess I've been trying to tell myself that what you have with him isn't real...that you only married him to get back at me. But that's not it is it?"
"Maybe it started that way." Alex admitted.
"But it's not like that now?"
Her reply was barely audible. "No...it isn't."
"You love him."
It was a statement...not a question, but Alex felt she needed to answer regardless. She nodded. "I love you both."
"But you married him." Jon's voice cracked on the last word.
"Because you were already married...and you made it clear that you couldn't or wouldn't give that up." She defended.
"So...here we are."
"Yep...here we are."
"I don't think I can lose you again Ali." Jon dropped to his knees and rested back on his heels between her thighs.
She hooked a finger under his chin and forced him to meet her gaze. "Did I say you were going to?"
"I...I thought after the way I behaved last night...." the sentence trailed off.
"Jon we've tried to be apart...it clearly didn't work...for either of us."
"Is this working?"
"I don't know...but I think we can make it work."
"What do you want from me Ali?"
Alex took his face tenderly between her hands and held his gaze. "Love me when I'm with you. Think of me when I'm not. And try to be understanding when I can't drop everything to be with you."
"I've never asked that of you."
"Jon" her tone was chastising but gentle "...we're being honest here...you know you have." She held up a hand to stop his protest. "And that's ok...I want to be that demanding on your time too...but I know that isn't realistic...for either of us. You are just so used to getting whatever you want that you expect me to fall into line too, but baby...I have a life...I have commitments. If by chance our schedules mesh that's wonderful...I like nothing better than spending my free time with you...but you have to understand, particularly now, Dot will be having the...the baby soon..." Jon watched her choke over the words and realised just how much his malicious little display of the evening before must have cost her. Perhaps he had been wrong in thinking that hearing her make lo...no...fucking Rick... had been harder for him than what she had endured. "...and with your tour coming up that won't happen often. We just have to make the most of our time together when it does. There have to be sacrifices on both sides if this is going to work." Alex finished firmly.
"I understand that but..."
"No buts Jon. If you want this to work, you have to commit to it. I can't do it alone. We just have to accept and enjoy what time we manage to steal."
"And try not to spend it arguing." He smiled
Alex nodded in agreement. "And try not to spend it arguing." The smile that touched her eyes, melted his heart. They would be ok. Somehow they would be ok.
Jon raised himself to his knees. The inside of her knees touched lightly on his hips. "Can I kiss you Ali?" He asked hesitantly.
Ali didn't say a word but drew him forward into her arms and pressed her lips to his. The kiss was slow and tender and healing.
A few minutes later, when they were preparing to leave the sanctuary of the little room, Alex with her hand on the door knob, Jon touched her lightly on the arm. She turned to face him expectantly.
"Can I ask you a question?" He asked of her.
"You've spoken to Rick about us...well me?" This was a statement more than a question.
"Because I found it was too hard to keep such an important part of my life separate from him." She answered truthfully.
"He doesn't know..." Jon pointed back and forth between them.
"Of course not. He knows we're friends...and that I have always been a fan. He doesn't quite understand the logic behind my refusal of that job on your tour a couple years back and sometimes I think he may even suspect that we had something once. But he has never broached the subject with me. I assume he probably dismissed the idea because of how young I was."
"He's a good man." Jon said reluctantly.
"Yes he is. Just like Dot's a good woman. I'm just sorry that we dragged them both into this sorry mess."
"Me too baby...you have no idea how much."
As Jon and Alex entered the salon hand in hand a couple of minutes later, and headed for the table where Dot now sat chatting to Rick, every pair of eyes in the room turned to watch them. Thank God they were among friends.
Rick and Dot looked up expectantly when they reached the table.
In an act of long forgotten valour, Jon placed Alex's hand in Ricks, "You are one very lucky man. Thank you, Rick."
"I could say the same," Rick replied looking at Dot affectionately.
"Oh, I already know that." Jon smiled at Dot, and glanced down at the empty table. He turned to Alex, "Looks like I owe you that plate of food after all. I'll be right back." Jon smiled at her warmly and headed in the direction of the buffet.