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.