Friday, December 29, 2006

A Night Of Romance

Chapter Thirty-Seven
When we got home I called Sweet Basil and made a reservation for us for 7:00. I was really excited. It is without a doubt my favorite Italian restaurant here in Wichita. It is such a romantic atmosphere, lit with candles and white fairy lights at night and the service there is supreme. And while it isn’t terribly formal, I love to dress up when I go, so I had the perfect outfit in mind.

It was another new dress, very sexy and I could wear some really hot undies underneath it, which suited me just fine, because that meant that after dinner, Adam would get to slowly peel them off of me!

When I got done with the call I found Adam in the living room, putting a CD on the stereo. Faith Hill’s CD called Faith was just starting. There are lots of songs on this one that I love, including Let Me Let Go and I Love You. I started humming along with the music as Adam and I headed off to the kitchen, hungrily scavenging for something to eat. I was so excited that I wasn’t really hungry, but decided I should eat something, so I got an apple out of the crisper and grabbed the jar of peanut butter.

Adam raised an eyebrow when he saw the peanut butter appear once again, but said nothing as he pulled ham and cheese out of the fridge, along with mayonnaise and pickles, lettuce and tomato.

I grabbed the tomato and sliced it up for him and set it on the table, along with plates and utensils. He was already stacking meat and cheese on the bread. It was funny to watch him build a sandwich; he did it in precisely the same way, every single time. I sliced my apple and put a dollop of peanut butter on my plate to dip into as I watched him.

First the meat goes on the bread, then the cheese. Then he flips it over and puts mayo on that side, then flips it back over to put mayo on that side. Then he adds the lettuce and tomato. Always the same. And I decided that Adam himself is remarkably like that. You always know what you are getting with him; you can count on him to be loving and faithful, funny and adventurous. Family is the most important thing to him and he is clearly devoted to them, to us. I have been welcomed into the loving circle and I feel so blessed. And tomorrow I will be meeting many of those people.

I felt a little nervous and yet, even more excited. I can only imagine that they are warm and loving people as well. Adam just seems to bring out the best in people. It goes back to my thoughts about him and his expectations. He expects the best and he gets it. That’s an extraordinary trait in someone, to be so full of faith that you are seldom let down. At least by those people you love. I think that is why he is finding it so hard to believe that someone he knows is doing this, to him, to us. Adam possesses a certain innocence and it was being sorely tested.

I found it hard to believe too, but I’m a little more realistic about people I think. I can’t imagine why they are doing it. I mean, I’ve thought about all the reasons, like maybe they were jealous of Adam and I, but then I realized that they were doing it to Adam before I even came along. But the incidents at Pisa and Firenza did involve me—so I didn’t have a clue what was up. I had so much on my mind about it, and I really wanted to talk to Adam, but I also didn’t want to spoil the happy mood between us right now, and so I decided it could wait until later.

“Tell me about California Adam, where you live.” I asked, eager to hear all about it.

“I live in Laguna Beach, or actually just a little north of it, on the coast itself. Tamara and the boys live in Huntington Beach, which is about 15 miles north of where I live. I live right on the edge of Crystal Cove State Park which is part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. It’s a beautiful area, very wild and open. My house is relatively small, only 3 bedrooms, but big enough to handle any company I have plus it’s got a family room that can be converted. My part of the beach sits on a cliff, about 40 feet up off the beach floor, and from the terrace there are stone steps leading down to the beach. The house itself is actually built into the rock wall. When you approach it from the front, it looks like a single level and when you walk in, you are on the top floor, where the living and family rooms are as well as my office. When you go down to the next level you find the bedrooms and then down one more level and that’s where the kitchen and dining areas are as well as a patio room. That level also leads out to the terrace, where the pool is.”

“You live on the ocean and you have a pool?” I asked incredulously.

“Well, you can’t always swim in the ocean, more often than not I won’t. Such things like seaweed and the like tend to make it a bit inhospitable at times. And it is often very cool, even in the warm California sunshine. But it is beautiful.”

“The house sounds lovely Adam; I can’t wait to see it.”

“And there is something there that you will absolutely adore, I’m betting.”

“What’s that?”

“I really should make you wait to see, but I can’t stand to not tell you! Let’s just say the master bathroom will not be a disappointment to you!”

Realization of what he could be talking about slipped slowly into my brain and my eyes brightened, along with a slow flush on my face. “Um, is it really large, like Firenza?” I asked, not daring to hope too much.

“Larger, we can swim in it quite easily, I promise. It has those little jet things too, not that we need any added stimulation, but still…”

“I may never want to leave it you know!” I jested, imagining long, long baths with him.

“That’s what I’m hoping,” he told me and when I glanced up at his face I realized he was very serious.

The flush blossomed again, capturing my face and neck and slowly spreading even farther down my chest. My pulse was beating rapidly and only increased as I had a brief flash of Adam and I in the tub in Firenza, water splashing everywhere.

I cleared my throat and said, “Um, tell me about the patio room Adam.”

His knowing smile told me that he knew well that I was trying to change the subject and he graciously allowed me to do so. For now, his eyes told me.

“It is wonderful, the whole west wall is glass and there are sliding screens that can move into place if you want to open the doors to let the breeze in. Of course, the sunset views from there are spectacular, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them. And it goes without saying that it is exclusively private, no peeking eyes anywhere.

For instance, if someone were to be chased around the patio naked, no one would ever know,” he said slowly, in a very intimate tone of voice. He smiled at me, only the corners of his mouth lifted up, which made his dimples look deep and his eyes were caressingly intense as they looked into mine.

“Um yes, I, uh, get the point,” I told him. He was just finishing his sandwich and I wondered if he would eat another, since this was supposed to be a ‘light snack’? And then the question was quickly answered as he started building a second one. I realized it was a good thing we were leaving tomorrow or we’d be soon making another trip to the grocery store.

I glanced at the clock, which told me it was almost 4:00 now. I wanted to have time to soak in my perfectly ordinary tub for awhile, but there was still some time before I needed to do that. The next couple of hours stretched before us and I wondered what on earth, besides the obvious was going to hold our attention. Not that I was opposed to the obvious, but I sort of had big plans for later and I didn’t want him to be too tired!

One look at him told me that he knew exactly what I was thinking, dang it. He almost imperceptibly shook his head and said, “Never happen love. I don’t think you could get me that tired!”

I looked at him with slightly narrowed eyes. I tilted back in my chair as I looked at him. “That sounds like a challenge Adam. Did I ever tell you how competitive I am?”

“No, but maybe you’d like to prove it?” he said, starting to push his chair back away from the table.

This was serious—he had only eaten half of his sandwich and was obviously willing to leave the rest of it. On guard now, I scooted my chair away from the table as well, watching him to see how he reacted. It felt like watching a duel in an old western flick, the two gunslingers watching each other cautiously, waiting for someone to make a move.

I stood up and just as quickly he was on his feet. I could never beat him in speed; those long sexy legs would beat me every time. So it had to be maneuverability or I didn’t have a chance. My eyes were darting around the room, trying to figure out the quickest way out the door. I decided all I had to do was beat him into the bedroom; he’d take care of the rest.

And suddenly, I was ready. I was already wet and aching for him and couldn’t wait to have him inside me! I peeked at him and saw that he was hard as well. We stood there for a moment more, grinning at one another. Adams eyes strayed toward the doorway and that was my chance! Didn’t he ever see the old westerns? You wait to make your move when your opponent takes their eyes off of you!

It only gave me a couple of seconds head start, but I cleared the doorway and headed through the dining room, into the living room and made the sharp turn to the left into the hall way. Adam, who was in his stocking feet slid around that corner and I made it into the bedroom a second before him, clearly the victor!

I stood there, rakishly looking at him, slightly out of breath from my dash through the house. “Well Adam, what are you going to do now?” I asked saucily.

“I think I’ll do this,” he teased, pulling my sweater up over my head in one smooth move. “And then I’ll try this,” he said as he started to unfasten my bra. He was just pulling it free when the doorbell rang, once, and then after a few seconds, again.

We both groaned, simultaneously. I refastened my bra and started pulling my sweater on as I headed out the bedroom door. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I was curious. I wanted to get to the door so I could peek out and see who it was.

Adam followed me down the hall, trying to rearrange himself in his jeans and I giggled. I tiptoed across the living room floor, which had a tendency to creak and peeked out the hole.

“Its Mom and Dad,” I whispered, giggling. What timing they had! Sometimes I think that no matter how old you are, parents have built in radar.

“Just a minute,” I called out, glancing at Adam to make sure he was presentable. I needn’t have worried, the mention of my parents had clearly taken the romance out of him and so I opened the door.

They made their way in, and I decided it was a good thing; we hadn’t yet talked about their coming over here while Adam and I were gone. But secretly I wondered if they had ever thought about calling before they made an appearance and then just as quickly realized how childish that sounded, even to me.

“Hi,” I told them and took their jackets. Mom and Dad headed over to the couch to sit down and I asked them if they wanted some coffee.

“No, we only stopped by for a quick visit. We’re meeting Bud and Yolanda for dinner at 5:00, but we wanted to know if you got your plans made to go to California?” Mom asked.

I love you Bud and Yolanda!
“Yeah, we fly out at 3:34 tomorrow afternoon, but of course we leave the house much earlier." I realized that we hadn’t talked with them since the talk this morning with the detectives, so we filled them in on everything.

“Someone was in here, in your house and put something in the tea?” Mom asked, clearly shocked. Her face blanched white with bright red blotches on her cheeks.

“We’re pretty sure, yes. The detectives took the empty pitcher with them this morning and they’ll run tests on it, to see if something was in there.” I watched Mom carefully; she was visibly shaken by this news. I looked over at Dad, but he seemed fine, or at least he wasn’t as upset as mom was anyway.

“Look, I know it’s upsetting, but they will get it figured out. In the meantime, we’ll be in California, away from all this.” I told them.

“But if they realize you aren’t here, won’t they figure out where you are?” Dad asked.

“Well, maybe, but we sort of have a plan to help that. I have several of those programmable timers that we will hook up and set to go on and off at different times. That should help. And we were wondering if you would stop by occasionally to open the blinds and stuff. But I don’t think that is such a good idea now,” I finished, looking at Mom, who was still very pale.

“The timers sound like a dandy idea, but I can stop by a few times as well,” he stated. I watched Mom and she looked downright scared.

“No Dad, don’t worry about that. I mean, they could see you coming and going anyway and get suspicious.”

“Maybe. Hey, I’ve got an idea. How about if we get your cousin Bobby to come and house sit? I’m sure he’d be willing to do it and I’d like to see someone mess with him!” Dad laughed.

My cousin Bobby is 25 and a black belt in Karate, which he teaches in his own dojo. If you stuck around long enough to find that out though you'd be in real trouble. He is 6’8 and looks really intimidating, but like lots of big guys, really wasn’t—unless you pushed him. He lives with my Aunt Barbara, who drives him crazy. He’s trying to get his business established or so he says. I think he just likes Aunt Barbara’s home-cooked meals.

“You know Dad that might be a wonderful idea. I’ll call him later; I bet he’ll do it, if I put some food in here for him.” I shuddered at the thought of having to feed him and Adam both. It would be like feeding him and Derek, I thought, shaking my head.

“If he can do it, have him call us and we’ll meet him over here and show him how to get in and stuff, alright?” Dad told us. Mom was looking at her watch and said that it was time they got going if they were going to meet Bud and Yolanda, and they rose to go.

I hurriedly wrote down the flight information for them and Adam added his address and contact numbers to it as well. We embraced at the door, Mom hugging me tightly and then uncharacteristically hugging Adam as well. We stood on the porch in the lengthening shadows and waved them off before heading back into the house.

Somehow the mood was spoiled for sex, but that was okay; it was almost five and I wanted to get into the tub. Adam was putting a new CD into the player, The Best of Chris Rea and I told him I was going to take a bath.

He looked at me and smiled—it was a ‘got away this time’ smile and it melted my heart. I could have told him that I was as unhappy about that as he was, or that we would make up for it later, but by the look on his face I realized that he knew.

“Hey, before you escape, is this a fancy place we’re going to?” he inquired.

“No, not terribly, but I’m dressing up a bit, so you better watch out!” I tossed over my shoulder with a laugh as I headed into the bedroom.

I ran the tub and filled it with a bath salts scented in the same fragrance as the perfume I intended to wear tonight. I turned the taps off and sunk into the tub with a sigh, thinking about Adam’s tub in Laguna Beach. I couldn’t wait to see it, I decided excitedly. Our baths in Italy had been such treats and I wouldn’t ever have imagined that before. I thought about him then, in that tub of vanilla bubbles, touching me and I realized quickly that I needed to change my thoughts!

I heard the shower in the bath the two other bedrooms share come on and thought of Adam in there, washing and again my imagination started in.

Sheesh Sarah, knock it off already!
At 5:45 I reluctantly made myself climb out of the tub and dried off. I decided that I would pin my hair up and let it fall into little curls. Adam hadn’t really seen it that way and it would go well with the dress I was going to wear.

It was made of black velveteen and clingy, with voile ¾ length sleeves. It had a cowl neckline in front and back, edged with more of the voile. It plunged low in front, but the back was practically non-existent, skimming to just below the curve of my waist. The best part was that because it was so low-cut in the back it had a built-in bra and a side zipper. Underneath it I would wear a black garter belt and lacy stockings. I could only imagine Adams reaction when he realized that! Maybe I would tell him about ½ way through dinner, I thought wickedly!

I opened the door into the bedroom and peeked out, wanting to make sure Adam wasn’t in there, but the coast was clear. I didn’t want him to get even a glimpse of me until I was ready!

It was clear and I made my way into the closet and pulled the dress out, and the shoes I would wear, black velvet heels. Very sexy and a pain in the ass really, but they would look good! Next I grabbed the garter belt and stockings and headed back into the bathroom. Adam walked into the bedroom them and knocked on the bathroom door.

“Uh love, I need my deodorant and stuff. Can I come in and get them?”

“NO!” I told him. I then gathered his toiletries, all of them, threw them in a towel and handed them out the door. “Do you see anything that you need that I missed?”

“No, no, this looks like it all, I’d say.” I was sure I heard a laugh in his answer but it could have just been because the door was closed. Probably it was.

I put on my makeup carefully, paying lots of attention to my eyes. They are nice eyes, and I dated a guy once who called them ‘cat eyes’ because of their shape, but they were small, I acknowledged. So I really played them up with the makeup, exaggerating their almond shape with shadow and liner, then a couple of coats of mascara. They actually looked pretty good I decided. I fastened my hair up with a clip that had rhinestones on it, making sure there were some curls dangling enticingly, and then sprayed it with hairspray to hold it.

Next I started dotting perfume on, in all the right spots and slipped the garter belt on and the stockings, adjusting them so that they were straight. The dress came last, and I slipped it on by stepping into it. And there was a surprise here, the six pounds I had lost were apparent here, the dress fit almost too loosely.

Wow, that doesn’t happen to me too often!
I then slipped on the three-inch heels and decided I looked pretty damn good as I stood looking in the mirror, from every angle possible. I added the jewelry I had chosen, my grandmothers Austrian crystals; chandelier earrings, a drop pendant and a bracelet. Maybe they were only crystals, but they looked wonderful I thought. I finally opened the door and walked out into the bedroom, where Adam was standing before the mirror, just finishing tying his tie.

God, if I thought I looked good tonight it was nothing compared to this man. Whoa! Dressed in a fabulously tailored black suit and pristine white shirt, he looked incredible! And the look on his face told me he thought the same thing about me! He had to have brought the suit with him even though I hadn’t seen it before, but admittedly I had paid little attention to his clothes. Wow, did this look good on him!

He just stood there, swallowing repeatedly and absentmindedly messing with the knot on his tie while staring at me speechlessly. He cleared his throat a couple of times before managing to speak.

“Oh Bella, you are exquisite, breathtaking…” he finally said, slowly walking towards me. He bent and softly kissed me and I caught his warm scent, that faint fragrance of his aftershave and the smell that was Adam himself. It was totally erotic and my muscles clenched tightly in response.

“Likewise,” I said, feeling like a fool for not being able to come up with anything better than that. He kind of took my breath away too. More than kind of…

“Um, shall we go then? To dinner?” he said to clarify, although I don’t know for whom he was doing it.

I nodded my head then and we grabbed coats out of the closet before heading out the door. He held onto my elbow, guiding me down the step into the garage and then opening the car door for me and making sure everything was tucked in before closing it securely.

We held hands in the car on the way to the restaurant, lightly stroking and caressing. There were huge butterflies dive bombing in my belly and I wasn’t sure I could eat a thing. All I could think about was Adam and I, together, touching and exploring one another’s bodies. I felt like all my senses were especially heightened tonight; the feel of his hand and the seductive scent of him were driving me crazy with desire, with need.

We got to Sweet Basil a few minutes before 7:00, but they had our table ready and as we walked into the dining room, I watched Adam’s face for his reaction. Sweet Basil is so lovely and warm. It’s not a huge place, but that only adds to its charm. The white fairy lights were twinkling along the walls and the candles on the tables cast an inviting and intimate glow to each table setting.

I could tell by the look on Adam’s face that he liked the restaurant, its cozy appeal. We sat down and the waiter handed us the menu’s to peruse. Adam looked at the wine menu, studying it carefully. I loved watching his face when he was concentrating on something intently. His lips would sort of press together, almost disappearing as he sucked them in and his eyes took on a whole new characteristic; totally focusing on whatever he was looking at.

It doesn’t sound sexy I know, but you’ll have to just trust me on this—IT IS!

Adam ordered a lovely white wine, a Pinot Grigio to go with dinner after we had made our selections. We started with an appetizer; stuffed mushroom caps, which were baked and had Italian sausage and 3 rich Italian cheeses in them. They were heavenly.

We decided that he would get Veal Piccata and I chose Penne del Mar, which is shrimp, scallops and vegetables sautéed in a chardonnay cream sauce. I have had this before and know that it is delectable. Sweet Basil’s wonderful house salad accompanied the dishes and was perfect after the appetizer. We shared our entrees, which was wonderful.

We couldn’t get out of there without dessert and we each chose one; I picked Tiramisu and Adam chose the Chocolate Flan, which is to die for, but is so rich I couldn’t have finished it on my own. But I was betting that Adam could!

This whole meal was phenomenal, every aspect. It was the perfect ending for our last night together here in Wichita. I felt as if the whole evening was a set up for seduction. And as much as I was enjoying our dinner, I was more than ready to head home.

Since our afternoon’s passion had been interrupted, we were both just a bit on edge. The slightest touch of his hand spread tingles up and down my spine. I found myself often licking my lips or worrying my lower lip in anticipation.

When we were finished and we had refused after dinner coffee and paid the check, I almost jumped up I was so excited. All the way home, I wanted to reach over and touch him, caress him. He was aroused, I could see that clearly and it sent a shivering response through me. I had to constantly keep telling myself that we are adults, not teenagers. Giving one’s lover a blow job in a moving car was reckless and stupid!

As soon as we were home and the garage door was closed I jumped out of the car, not waiting for Adam to come around and open the door for me. He got the idea, bright boy that he is and was already working on getting his tie off by the time we were in the house.

I took my coat off and tossed in over a chair in the living room on my way to the bedroom and Adam’s jacket met the same fate. He caught me as I hit the bedroom doorway, wrapping me in his arms, his lips found mine and our mouths ground together hungrily, each taking, each giving.

I was working frantically at the buttons on his shirt and when I found one obstinate one I yanked, pulling it off the shirt in my hurry to get it undone. Adam only groaned as he played his hands up and down my back, caressing the bare skin of my back and setting it on fire. I was pushing his shirt off of his shoulders, and then working on his belt, trying to get it unfastened as quickly as I could. He had kicked off his shoes by then and I tugged his pants down over his hips and he stepped out of them. I snaked my hand down between our bodies, capturing his rigid shaft in my fingers, gripping him firmly and sliding them up and down his heated length.

Our mouths were still molded together, tongues sliding slickly against one another’s and I felt like I couldn’t get enough of him, of his mouth.

His hands forayed down my back, to softly cup my behind and I thrilled to his touch, but I needed more, so much more. Adam found the zipper on the side of my dress and slid it down quickly then meticulously started at my shoulders, working the dress down over my body until I could step out of it. His hands dipped down again to my hips and he suddenly realized that I had nothing on but the garter belt and stockings. He stood there for a moment, gazing at me with his passion-darkened eyes, and then he picked me up, wrapping my legs around his waist so that my dewy folds lay against his hardened cock. He was rubbing enticingly against my desirous flesh which needed him desperately. He carried me over to the window seat and sat me down there before kneeling before me and burying his tongue in my heated and aching folds.

His tongue played with me, swirling, then sweeping up and down the length of me, lapping delightfully at the open petals he found there. I sat there on the bench, legs spread wide and I could see his mouth moving over me. It was so erotic to watch, I came very quickly, panting and gasping out Adam’s name as passion gripped me.

He rose up on his knees again, and slid himself into me and his entry sent renewed contractions and shivers through my sensitive flesh. My muscles gripped him tightly, contracting around him and I felt him shiver for a moment, trying to gain control of his body. He held me tightly against him for a moment, and stood up so he could sit down on the bench. I straddled him and we looked at one another, eye to eye and I began a sensual dance upon his lap, rolling and squirming my hips, pulling up off of him until only the head of his throbbing shaft was still within me, then quickly sinking back down upon him, gyrating frantically, trying to rub myself over as much of him as I could.

His hands and lips were worshiping my breasts and nipples, teasing them delightfully and as he lightly bit one of my nipples, I started coming again, my body contracting wildly. I threw my head back in surrender, in pure pleasure, gasping out his name, crying from the sheer joy of our connection and soon Adam joined me and I quivered as I felt him contracting within me and felt the delicious warmth of his satisfaction spread through me.

We were holding one another then; that’s all we could muster. I laid my head on Adams shoulder, kissing it lightly, and licking delicately at the sweat that clung to him.

“Um,” Adam said to me, his mouth buried against my neck.

“If you’re going to tell me that you are hungry, I’ll swat your tush!” I told him with a giggle.

“Tush? What on earth are you talking about?”

I rolled my eyes, but the expression was lost on him in the dark and anyway, he was tugging on my nipples again with his lips. “Your bum, or as you British say, your arse!”

“Um,” he said again. “Spanking, kind of kinky, but if you really want to try it, I’ll be more than happy to swat your tush!” he quipped, laughing against me.

“Oh Adam,” I giggled. “I meant YOUR tush, not mine!”

“Why ever would you want to swat my tush?”

“Because you are hungry!” I told him.

“I’m hungry? Are you sure?”

“In case you are, I mean.” I was laughing really hard now and I could feel him do his best to keep from laughing himself. “Oh, forget it!”

“Forget that I’m hungry? I’m not positive that I can. But are you sure I’m hungry?”

I pushed against him and sent him back against the window, lightly bumping his head. “You must pay for that you know!” he told me, scooping me up and laying me on the bed.”

“Really? What’s the fee?” I asked.

He was only too delighted to show me!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Order Of The Day

Chapter Thirty-Six

As we got into the car, instinct had us cautiously looking around for any signs of someone ‘lurking’ around the neighborhood, but we couldn’t see anything or anyone that looked suspicious or out of place. It felt weird though, knowing that someone might be watching us or following us. Adam seemed much more relaxed now and didn’t seem to be concerned in the slightest about being followed.

After watching him for a few minutes, I finally asked, “Doesn’t it make you feel weird knowing that someone might be out there, watching us?”

He cast me a sideways look, at least I think he did but it was difficult to tell with the sunglasses on. “Love, it is an all too often occurrence to me. I have been chased through busy streets by paparazzi on motorbikes trying to get pictures. This somehow doesn’t seem all that different.” I watched his long, beautiful fingers gripping the steering wheel and prepare to make a turn. His hands are so expressive when he talks and everything he does with them seems to show that. Maybe it’s some trait that actors build, I’m not sure but it’s not like they are always on display so I really don’t think so. When he touches me, they are always tender and confident, never tentative, never rough. So when I watch him do even the most mundane sort of things, I can’t help but think about those hands doing other things. And those thoughts get me all stirred up and in trouble.

A thought suddenly occurred to me and I said to Adam, “Hey, I want to make a stop on the way. I’m sure Cassie needs a few things, especially if she is up and moving about.”

“Okay, where do you want to go?”

“Head north, up Rock Road. I want to run into Bath and Body Works. Cass needs some pampering I believe!”

It didn’t take us long to make the detour and I bought Cass a whole basket of personal items, lotions and body washes, hair care products, brushes, the whole nine yards. Everything she probably hasn’t had since she was in the hospital. I had them put a huge bow on it and then started to pick it up and realized it was a bit too heavy for me.

“Uh, Ad--, uh could you help me?” I stammered, almost using Adams name. It might have been okay, but I don’t want to chance it.

“Sure thing,” he answered in that lazy southern drawl voice he had teased me with before. He picked up the basket and frowned for a moment before heading out the door with it.

I was giggling like mad, at the southern drawl of course. I wondered if I bought him a cowboy hat and some chaps if I could really have some fun. He looked at me and shook his head, probably thinking something like, silly woman. Damn! How does he always know what I’m thinking?

“Uh love, are you aware of just how heavy this is? Cassie cannot possibly pick it up on her own you know,” he told me as he was trying to get the basket into the back seat of the Mustang.

“I know, I mean I realize that now Adam. But I know she needs those things, I just didn’t think about how heavy they would all be together. Sorry…” I smiled at him in my best, ‘I’m so bad’ pouty smile, lower lip sticking out, eyes open wide, and batting my eyelashes.

He had the audacity to roll his eyes at that and started laughing uproariously. “Sarah, it’s a good thing you don’t act for a living, because you would definitely would be one of the ‘out of work’ kind!”

We were in the car now, fastening our seat belts in preparation to leave. I gave him the line he gave me about the chopsticks. “I have many talents, this just doesn’t happen to be one of them! Shall I demonstrate some of the others for you?” I jested.

I watched his face change from laughter to something akin to passionate realization. It played upon his handsome features like watching a cloud travel across the sun and the change was dramatic. I saw him swallow hard a couple of times and he cleared his throat before speaking.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what some of the others are and I would be most happy for you to share them all—later!” he said in a voice little louder than a whisper and I decided I had tormented him enough—for now that is!

“So Adam,” I asked unexpectedly, “Just how does Rachel Tomlinson know your birthday?”

We were at a stop light then and Adam turned his head to look at me. Unfortunately I hadn’t really thought this whole thing out very well—with the sunglasses on I couldn’t see his eyes reacting to my question. I felt that nasty little character jealousy inhabiting my heart again and I didn’t like this at all. No, not at all!

“Obviously you have never been a fan of the tabloids, have you?” The light changed and he focused his attention back on the road and traffic as we started moving again.

“No, can’t say that I have ever been. But they must have had the scoop I guess?” I tried to keep my voice light and fun, but I’m really starting to have a hard time with this. How on earth am I going to react the next time he kisses one of those gorgeous women in a movie? Will my head and heart understand and accept that it’s only a movie, his job?

“Years ago, before Tamara and I married I dated Rachel—briefly. I mean only for about 5 weeks, which was certainly long enough for me to know we weren’t at all compatible. We had actually been good friends for years before that as we had started our acting careers about the same time. You run into lots of hopeful actors at casting calls and such and it draws you together, to a certain extent. I was in California with Penny then and so Rachel and I were just friends. Our lives got very busy and when we ran into one another a few years later we started going out. She didn’t seem to be the same person I had known all those years ago and so I ended it. Of course, the tabloids made a big deal out of it, that I had jilted her and broke her heart. Please! That was the farthest thing from the truth. She was bored to death with me—I’m not enough of a ‘Hollywood’ kind of guy to suit her; I like my life quiet and she doesn’t. But during those five weeks, I had my birthday. It never actually occurred to me that she would have remembered it, but in England, she brought me a bottle of champagne and wanted to celebrate. I turned her down and for a few days she was pretty nasty, but eventually got over it I guess.”

“Penny was the girl you lived with? I don’t ever remember you mentioning her name, or maybe I just forgot. But, Rachel is a scorned lover, huh? They can certainly be nasty,” I said, thinking about the confrontation between Jason and me yesterday.

“Yes, Penny was her name. I think Rachel was just bored in England and wanted something to liven things up. She hasn’t lived there for many years, being a Hollywood kind of lass. And I don’t think she has any family either, I think she had a sister that died years ago, but I never met her.”

We were pulling into the parking lot at the hospital then and Adam was focused on finding a parking place. I thought about Rachel; I had met her on the set in Italy. She seemed okay, although we didn’t really talk much, she was preoccupied with the scene they were working on. Truthfully, she had pretty much kept to herself from what I witnessed.

Adam parked the car and we got out. He had another struggle getting the basket out of the backseat and I could see he was a little frustrated with it, but was still in a surprisingly good humor about it, laughing when it finally slid free. He picked it up with a mock groan and bent over to hobble with it, like an old man might.

He had me laughing so hard my ribs were hurting, but it was so worth it. I loved his childlike ability to have fun. I know that I had totally forgotten that life can still be fun, even at age 45. He brought that ability out in me and at times it seemed like he was helping me to find myself again.

He grabbed my hand with his free one and we started the long walk into the hospital and followed the hallways to the right elevators to get to the right building. What a trek!

When we got to Cassie’s room her door was closed all the way, so I lightly knocked on it. I heard her voice tell us to come in, so I slowly pushed the door open and we went in.

Dr. Gorman was there, as was a nurse and the most magnificent thing was that Cass was sitting up! Well, sort of anyway. She was in a regular hospital bed and the head of the bed was raised a good foot or so. Her face was alive and radiant, whether from the fact that she was sitting up or from the good doctor, I wasn’t sure. But it was incredible to see.

“Hey Cass, are we interrupting?” I asked, looking at Dr. Gorman as well. We didn’t want to interrupt her examination or anything.

“No-no, you’re just in time. Look at me, I’m not flat anymore. And it isn’t hurting, Sarah, it isn’t hurting!” she told me, a triumphant ring in her voice. Dr. Gorman and the nurse were standing there, smiling at her and beaming. I thought things must be really good!

“Oh Cass, I’m so happy for you!” I told her, wiping a tear hastily away from my eye. This was the best news I could have gotten. “We brought you a few things you may need soon. Adam, set the basket down on the tray table, please?”

Adam kind of chuckled and looked at the table, which was setting next to her bed. He looked at me with a question in his eyes and I know he was wondering it the tray table would hold it. I shrugged and said, “Go ahead and give it a try.”

He sat the basket up there, but even with Cass sitting up as she was it was still a bit too high. The nurse came over and lowered the table as much as it would go, but it was still too high for Cass to really see into the basket. Dr. Gorman spoke up then.

“Cassie, we can sit you up a little bit more, if you think you can handle it. Do you?”

“Yes, or at least I want to try!”

The nurse pushed the button and moved the bed up a few more inches and Dr. Gorman nodded his head and said “That’s enough!” She still wasn’t quite sitting upright, but she wasn’t too far from it.

“How does that feel Cassie?” he asked her, watching her face for signs of pain or stress.

She was breathing slow and deeply, trying to adjust to the movement. After a minute or so she said, “It feels okay. I don’t know how long I can handle it, but it doesn’t hurt.”

Dr. Gorman made a note in her chart and then closed it with a crisp click. “Okay then, no more than 30 minutes at this height. You can go back down to the first level and stay like that as long as you want, okay? We’ll leave now, but Karen (who must have been the nurse) will come back in a half hour to move the bed down again. If it gets too uncomfortable before then, let her know, okay?”

Cassie nodded at him and smiled. It totally lit her face up and I realized how much I missed that smile. Dr. Gorman nodded his head at Adam and I as he and the nurse left the room and closed the door.

“Well, well, look at you Mr. Hollywood,” Cassie chided good-naturedly. “I almost didn’t recognize you, except that since you arrived with this one,” she said, pointing her thumb at me,”I knew it had to be you!”

Adam took his sunglasses off, but left the hat on, before pulling a couple of chairs around to the side of the bed so we could sit down. He put my chair very close to the tray table so I could help Cass dig through it before bestowing on her his very best dimple smile.

Cassie exuded happiness at that smile and I knew she had already figured out the differences of Adams smiles and I was delighted about that. I bent over and kissed her on the cheek and her eyes were sparkling brightly. I could see that it was partly because of her happiness and partly because there was a bare shimmer of tears there and I knew they were tears of joy, not sadness. I loved seeing the sparkle in her eyes; each day seemed to bring my Cassie back a bit closer to us. She has handled all this remarkably well and I was so proud of her!

She looked over at the basket of goodies and I saw excitement renewed in those grass green eyes. They opened wide, like a child’s eye looking at the Christmas tree and I was so happy I had brought this with us.

“I’ll have you know Cass that I built muscles carrying this up to you. Sarah was adamant about the fact that you needed all of this,” Adam told her, grinning from ear to ear.

At Cassie’s delighted “Ooh”, I pushed the tray table as near to her as I could so she could get a good idea of what all was in there. She poked around and moved things until she had seen most of what was in there, and then started to pull things out to sniff.

“Oh Sarah,” she said, excitement bubbling over, “Thank you so much. I’ll finally smell good again and I can’t wait to actually take a real bath and wash my hair. And lotion, my skin is so dry, that is the best part!”

She pulled a bottle of Magnolia scented lotion out of the basket and opened it, deeply inhaling its fragrance. “Oh, this is heavenly,” she said, pouring some into her palm. She rubbed the lotion onto her hands and arms, massaging it in and her face held a blissful look as she did that.

“Sarah and Adam, thank you so much! This means so much to me!” She found a tube of lip balm and opened it and sniffed the vanilla fragrance before spreading it over her lips. “Oh yes, yes! This is almost better than sex!” she laughed. “At least right now!”

I laughed too, but Adam had a shocked look on his face. I wasn’t sure if we embarrassed him or what.

One of the items in the basket was a large hand mirror, which Cassie picked up with some trepidation. “Do I want to look?” she asked me, a look of dread on her face.

I grabbed her hand and squeezed it for a moment before speaking. I looked at her face which had grown thinner and her grass green eyes that were a bit shadowed and said, “Cass, you look fine. A little bedraggled maybe, but that’s to be expected. And nothing that a long hot shower won’t cure…”

She slowly held the mirror up, but kept her eyes closed for a moment, as if dreading what she would see. She opened her eyes slowly and looked into the mirror, staring into it solemnly. Huge green eyes looked into my own and blinked back tears.

“I can’t believe that I look so…normal, I guess. I don’t really look much different, do I?”

“No you don’t,” I told her, smiling at her in reassurance.

“I feel so different Sarah, like I’m not the same person at all anymore, you know? I don’t know if that’s good or bad, you know?”

“In some ways you aren’t Cass, neither of us are. You’ve been through a life-altering situation, how could you NOT be different?” I paused for a moment, thinking over what to say to her, how to say it. “Cassie, I think that what we, especially you, have been through has made us stronger, better people. A bit more compassionate and caring and for me, patient, maybe,” I said, shrugging my shoulders while wearing a grin plastered upon my face. “The point is I guess, what I’m trying to say, and not very well is that it’s our choice what we take away from all this. We can choose to use the new attributes to our benefit or we can just think about how bad it has been. This whole experience has brought me a greater understanding of myself and what I want,” I told her, smiling at Adam as I said that. “I might not have been so willing to take a chance, you know? Of course you know, me I mean. It scared me, on an emotional level. It showed me what and who is most important in my life, worth fighting for, you know?”

“I feel like that too Sarah, but I still feel unable to take charge of anything and that is so frustrating to me. I hate only being allowed these small steps. I want to run, not walk and yet it’s my own body that is betraying me. I lie here in this damn bed and think about everything in my life that is on hold, just sitting there collecting dust.”

I nodded, sympathy tugging at me. I did know exactly how she felt. Except she had been hurt so much worse, her struggle to regain her quality of life was far more difficult than mine was as well. And I had the kids and Adam, as well as my parents. Cassie had me, and now, I thought Adam too and the kids and her parents, but she still has so far to go to get to the point where there is anything we can do except for love her.

“You know what Cass? I decided to look at it as a new start to things; maybe that’s how you need to think about it too. You can’t change what is happening except to be determined to be the winner, and I know you already have done that. So focus on one day at a time, one step at a time. You will get through it, I promise you. I’ll help you every step of the way. It’s going to be tough, but you are far tougher Cassie!” I told her, taking her hand in mine and rubbing it gently.

“I believe it was three musketeers, not two. Unless you two don’t want a third?” Adam told us, taking both of our hands into his. I looked at him, and what I saw in his eyes was genuine empathy for Cassie and caring. I looked at Cassie and realized that she saw that too. She nodded, almost imperceptibly and said, “Deal!” Adam and I both repeated that, and we each knew that the bargain was struck.

Karen came back in and lowered Cassie’s bed and I could tell that she was tired. It had been an exciting day for her, but it had been a wonderful day and I was so fortunate to have been able to share in her happiness. We stayed awhile longer, but Cass was fighting yawns so we decided it was time to leave; although that was reluctantly on my part. I knew it would be a week before I would see her again and I tried to focus on all the wonderful new things that would be happening in her life by then.

I hugged here, as best I could and kissed her soundly on the cheek. We both were crying; we inherently knew what the week apart would bring. Adam hugged her too and kissed her on the forehead again and it was so touching to see them interacting. “Hey, maybe you can get your doctor to move that basket for you! You can see if he has any muscles!” Adam quipped.

I stood in the doorway to her room and blew her a kiss before waving goodbye. We left and Adam pulled the door shut behind us and we walked down the hall to the elevators. I was silent all the way down to the garage. I felt guilty, but I did know it would be okay. It was just hard.

It was two p.m. by then and we decided to just go home and grab a light bite for lunch (if anything that Adam would eat could be called light). “Hey, you never told me where you want to go for dinner,” Adam said as we were leaving the parking garage.

“It’s called Sweet Basil; it’s an Italian/Mediterranean place. Very romantic actually!”

“Um Bella, it sounds wonderful. I can’t wait,” he said to me, his voice caressing and low. His eyes promised me an awesome evening and I wasn’t sure what the best part would be, the dinner or the dessert!

But I knew I couldn’t wait!

Friday, December 22, 2006

My mother would like to convey her deepest thanks to everyone for their get well wishes this morning. She would like you to know that Sarah and Adam will return next weds. She is still very ill, and is needing more rest then she antcipated. From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year. May you be blessed with the riches of family and friends.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Questions and Answers

Chapter Thirty-Five

I woke up slowly, feeling Adam’s body wrapped around mine and sharing its delicious warmth. I poked my head out for a minute and it felt very cold in the bedroom, so I ducked back down into the warm bedding and the even warmer arms of my love.

Um yes, my love.

Memories of last night came flooding back to me, and I smiled, remembering our lovemaking and that I had told him I loved him.

This morning it felt so right, the most natural thing in the world to have done and I thought about how scared I had been last night before I told him. I had been afraid of me, not him.

I could never say those words before because I somehow thought they would weaken me, make me more vulnerable; that I would feel trapped. In fact the opposite seemed to be true. I felt stronger and more confident, about myself and this relationship. And not even the tiniest bit trapped.

Truthfully, I felt exhilarated, and wanted to shout it from the rooftops—I love Adam! I LOVE him!!!

I opened one eye to find him smiling at me, the biggest, silliest grin I’ve ever seen on a grown man. I opened both of my eyes then and returned his smile and sighed.

“You love me,” he said, bending to kiss me. It was tender and slow, and very thorough. “You love me!” he said again, giggling with delight.

“Say it again, please?” he asked. “Just want to be sure I heard it accurately last night, you know! Might have been a dream.  Please…”

“I said that? Really?” I teased, trying to look puzzled. “Are you sure? Me?”

For a moment his face wore a look of torment which then faded to surprise. His left eyebrow lifted a bit and then he figured out I was teasing. But for half a moment there, I felt awful, horrible in fact.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him soundly, and then smiled what I hoped was a radiant smile.

“I love you Adam Richland! I love you, every sexy inch of you, through every situation imaginable, even through your perpetually growling stomach! I LOVE YOU!”

He smiled sheepishly then, and we both giggled because his stomach was indeed growling. The rumbles were somewhat muffled by the bed covers and our tangled bodies, but you could still hear them.

“Well then, I suppose you’ll just have to do something about that, hmm?” he teased, nibbling on my neck and starting to move downward.

I closed my eyes tightly for a moment and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Ah, um,” I said, clearing my throat. “You’ll never get any breakfast if you keep that up,” I told him sincerely.

His head popped up to look at me then, eyes opened wide. “Aah, fuck it then, who needs breakfast?” he said with a shrug, pulling the covers over us and making me scream and giggle.

And for the next half an hour, we didn’t think about breakfast at all!

When I finally crawled out of the bed and peeked out the blinds, I discovered that the temperature had dropped drastically over night and there was frost on the trees and ground. I turned the furnace on and then hopped right back under the covers, waiting until things warmed up a bit.

Adam laughed at me and headed into the bathroom to shower. I shivered and thought better him than me as I watched him walk into the bathroom! I adore his walk, straight and tall with long strides, moving lithely. I laid there with the silliest grin on my face and I remembered his silly grin earlier and that made me laugh out loud.

Do you suppose the fairy tales are right and there is a happily ever after?
A few minutes later I heard the shower being turned off and Adam humming something that surely couldn’t have been music. I pulled the covers back and hopped out of bed. To my surprise it had warmed up considerably and I was ready to take a shower too.

I stretched for a minute and bent my body in various ways and realized I felt good. Nothing hurt and I had apparently survived quite well, I thought with a triumphant smile!

Adam opened the bathroom door then, letting the warm steamy air into the bedroom. He had the towel wrapped around his hips and looked incredible. I smiled at him and he came over and enveloped me in a wonderful hug. He smelled fabulous and even though he hadn’t shaved, he looked so sexy! It took everything I had in me to pull away and head into the bathroom myself.

The warm water felt wonderful streaming over me I thought as I washed my hair and rinsed it. I stood there under the shower spray, letting the water beat down on me and remembered the other part of last night, the part that was going to involve the police today, and I let out a resigned sigh. I finished washing and turned the taps off before stepping out to grab a towel.

I wrapped one towel around my head and pulled another out for my body, then headed over to the vanity and used the hand towel to wipe the steam off of the mirror.

I dried off and looked at myself in the mirror, remembering the hickey Adam had left on my collarbone in Italy and smiled. What an incredible night that was, and then I realized last night had been just as wonderful. Each time with him was; in fact it just seemed to get better.

I opened the cabinet to grab the toothpaste and deodorant and saw Adam’s things in there too. As I closed the mirrored door, I looked at the toothbrush holder on the counter and there was Adam’s toothbrush, residing happily next to mine. I stared hard at it for a minute, thinking about that. This was the first time since my divorce that a man’s toothbrush was here with mine and it made me feel kind of quivery.

I stared for a moment more and decided that I liked that—it made things feel, right, maybe? In balance, I thought. Yes, balanced is an excellent word.

I pulled the towel off of my hair and ran my fingers through it before deciding to let it dry on its own and then headed back into the bedroom to get dressed. I pulled on a pair of well-worn and comfortable jeans and a sweatshirt because it still felt a little chilly to me. Fuzzy house slippers next and then I was off to the living room, where Adam was.

He had the Rolling Stones playing on the stereo and Mick was yelling,

“Ohh children, it’s just a shot away,
It’s just a shot away”

Gimme Shelter, one of my favorite Stones tunes I thought with a smile. Adam picked up the phone and called the detectives and made arrangements for them to come by here. He agreed on 11:00 this morning and since it was 9:30 already, I needed to get in there and get some breakfast going so I headed off to the kitchen, humming along with the Stones.

When I got there I saw that Adam had already been in there and laid out some oatmeal packets and had coffee already going.

Mm, I like this!
I got bread out for some toast and emptied the packets into bowls before adding water and putting them in the microwave. Adam came in then and started making the toast and telling me about his conversation with the detectives.

“Well, their first question was why didn’t we tell them all this when they were here yesterday?” Adam said, spreading butter on a piece of toast.

The microwave went ‘ding’ and I pulled the bowls of oatmeal out and stirred them before setting them on the table. The rising steam was fragrant and smelled of cinnamon and spices, and I suddenly realized I was hungry too and anxious to dig in.

Adam set the toast on the table as I poured us coffee and got the cream out of the fridge. Then I thought about what Adam had said the police asked.

“Did you tell them the truth, that we hadn’t really thought about it all together?” I asked as I was poured some cream into my coffee and stirred it.

“Well yes, but they didn’t seem all that convinced. And they wanted to know why we didn’t say anything about the tea. I told them that was what made you start thinking about it all.”

I looked over at the counter where the empty tea pitcher was still sitting. I frowned for a moment and then got up to take a closer look at it. Inside, there were still some dried remnants of the tea and I asked Adam if he thought that might be enough for them to check?

“I don’t have a clue love, who knows? How much do they need I wonder?”

I was trying to tip the pitcher to the side using a towel and Adam watched me for a moment and then asked, “What are you trying to do?”

“I’m trying to see if any of it is still liquid left at all,” I said, and then holding up the towel, “And trying not to leave any more fingerprints!”

“Don’t you think you might be smearing any fingerprints on there with the towel?”

That thought hadn’t occurred to me and I quickly set the towel down and went back to the table, hoping that I hadn’t done just that.

We finished our breakfast and loaded the dishwasher. Adam went in to call the airlines to book seats for us to California tomorrow while I added detergent and started the cycle. I then grabbed some furniture polish and a rag and decided to attack the dust that was everywhere.

Things don’t really get too dirty when you live alone or when it’s just the two of us, but they do get dusty and since we are leaving tomorrow, now was the time to do it. Before I got started on that though I pulled the sheets off of the beds and grabbed the used towels and threw it all into the washer.

Adam found me in the utility room, just finishing adding the fabric softener and watched as I turned the machine on.

“We’re set for the flight out at 3:34 tomorrow afternoon. We’ll need to be at the airport by 1:15 or so to return the rental car. Does that sound okay to you?”

“Yeah, it sounds good. I’m kind of excited actually,” I told him and I realized that I really was. I couldn’t wait to meet his kids and even Tamara. The parents still had me a bit unnerved, but I’ll just take it all slow and it will be fine I told myself.

I headed out to the living room and started dusting and there was so much of it I sneezed. The next thing I knew, Adam had the vacuum, (I didn’t have a clue how he even knew where to find it) and was working on the floors. I stopped for a moment and smiled, wondering if he was always this handy? Surely he must have a maid or something?

By 10:55, we were finished and just putting everything away and throwing the load into the dryer when the doorbell rang, telling us that the detectives were here.

Adam answered the door and let them in and I asked them if they would like some coffee, which they both declined. We all sat down in the living room and Adam and I waited while they both opened their notebooks and consulted for a moment on something they had noted yesterday.

“Yesterday, you couldn’t think of anything else to tell us. Now this morning you seem to have come up with something else and it is important information. Can you explain that?” Detective Rodriquez asked.

“Well,” I started, feeling very nervous, “Last night I was looking at the empty pitcher of tea in the kitchen and I realized it made me nauseous to just look at it. And then things just sort of slipped into place.”

“You still have the pitcher? It hasn’t been washed?”

“No, I was really sick after I drank the last of it the night before last, and yesterday I didn’t even think about it. Until I saw it late last night that is.” I told them and I couldn’t help the slight shudder that passed through me.

They looked at each other and stood up. “May we see the pitcher please, Ms. Marcus?”

“Certainly, I’ll get it for you,” I told them as I headed to the kitchen.

“NO!” they chorused together. Then Detective Rodriguez said, “We’ll go in there to look at it if you don’t mind.”

I shook my head and told them that I didn’t mind a bit. They followed me as I went into the kitchen, Adam trailing along behind them.

The pitcher was sitting on the counter top and both detectives approached it, looking at it from every possible angle.

“Who all has touched the pitcher?” Detective Arnold asked. She had pulled a digital camera out of her briefcase when she came in here and was now taking pictures of the pitcher. After she took each one she paused to look at it in the camera and she and Detective Rodriguez both made comments about each one.

“Digital,” I mouthed to Adam, pointing at the camera with a grin.

“Ah,” he said and I couldn’t help but notice the smile he was wearing. His mouth was closed, but just the corners were tweaked up and that made his dimples very noticeable.

I turned my head away from him, shaking it in amusement and tried to focus on what the detectives were doing. But honestly, I was thinking about that digital camera and what kind of fun we could have with it. When I turned to Adam again, I saw in his eyes that he was thinking the very same thoughts!

Detective Arnold was looking through her briefcase and came up with a very large plastic zipper type of bag and a pair of latex gloves. After she had slipped the gloves on, she put the pitcher into the bag and zipped it closed.

“We’re going to take this back for processing. Hopefully we’ll get some useful information from it. Can you tell us who has touched it please?”

“Well me of course. And Lissa, my daughter. She actually made the pitcher before she went back to KU Med. I don’t think anyone else had touched it,” I told her, trying to remember if mom had touched it at all. But I was sure she hadn’t.

“Your daughter you say? When did she go back to KU Med?” Detective Rodriquez asked.

“Two days ago. She had made the pitcher the day before. We had both drank some that night, but she drank a lot more than I did and felt pretty bad that night.”

“She was ill?”

“Well, she didn’t vomit, but she said the next morning that she had felt jittery and nauseous. And the next morning she looked awful. I felt her forehead to see if she had a fever because her eyes looked so glassy.”

“And did she?”

“No, she felt kind of cold and clammy actually. The same way I felt that night after I had vomited.”

“Is that when you began to suspect it had something to do with the tea,” Detective Arnold questioned.

“No,” I told her and I felt myself flushing, remembering last nights events. “It wasn’t until late last night when we decided to get a snack and I saw the pitcher sitting there on the counter that it all sort of clicked into place.”

“What do you mean by ‘clicked into place’ Ms. Marcus?”

“Well, I saw the pitcher sitting there and a chill went through me as I remembered that I had drunk two glasses that evening before I got sick. It was one of those ‘instinct’ kind of things, like if you ate too many M&M’s and got sick from them, you might want to avoid them or chocolate in general because just looking at them makes you feel sick?”

Detective Arnold was looking at me with a puzzled look on her face, which turned into a frown. “No, I’m afraid I don’t get that reference,” she told me.

Not surprising I thought, a tad bit uncharitably. She didn’t look like she ever did too much of anything! “Okay, the reference doesn’t really matter. It’s just that I associated the tea with the sick feeling and it made me wonder why? And then I remembered Adam telling me that in Italy, he had drunk so much tea that it made him feel jittery and two and two suddenly made four!” I said in explanation.

I heard the dryer buzzer going off then, signaling the end of the drying cycle and decided it could just set for a few minutes.

The detectives both looked up quizzically then, looking alertly around the room like they expected armed bandits to rush us. “It’s just the dryer telling me the cycle is done,” I said. Sheesh, I thought!

“Mr. Richland, what happened in Italy with the tea?”

“I was just known to enjoy iced tea, and someone was always handing me a glass,” he said with a shrug.

“Was it always the same person?”

“No, no it wasn’t. It was often someone different. That’s part of what set assistants do, get things.

“Alright. What are set assistants and please give me their names?” Detective Rodriguez asked.

“Surely you’re joking? Do you have any idea how many set assistants there are?” Adam was leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees. He ran his hands through his hair and I could see how frustrated with all this he was. He exhaled a huge sigh and said, “Set assistants basically do what ever small things need done on a shoot. Another word for them is gophers. There can be several dozen of them on a movie set, because practically everyone has need of one, from the producers and director to gaffers and electricians; it just depends on the movie set. I couldn’t give you all their names, it’s impossible. I didn’t know them all.”

Detective Arnold was tapping her pen against the notepad. “I see,” she said. “Well, give us what names you can, and I assume the production company would have more of that information? Did you have a set assistant assigned to you?”

“Not one personally, but of course there was one I worked more with than some of the others. But she wasn’t anymore likely to give me the tea than any of the others, whether I knew them personally or not. Is that really necessary, to get all their names I mean? That’s a lot of people and if you start asking questions of everyone you will cause alarm. Surely there is a better way to determine what you need to know?”

“Can you think of a better way to determine if someone was contaminating your tea other than to ask questions, because if so, now’s the time,” Detective Arnold snapped, making a note on her pad.

Adam and I looked at each other. This was beginning to snowball we realized. But on the other hand, she has a point, how else can they do this I thought?

I cleared my throat and asked, “Won’t you be tipping your hand, so to speak? Letting them know that we know something is going on?”

“Yes. It may help to deter them from trying anything else. If all the events are linked, one or both of you could be in serious danger. So far nothing terrible has happened, but that might not always be the case. It doesn’t seem likely that your accident here Ms. Marcus was related, however impossible that it sounds though, I think your missing purse is. One or more of those people was here and got that purse,” Detective Arnold said.

“Okay,” Detective Rodriguez said. “Yesterday, you said you recognized one of the numbers that someone tried to use to open the door?” At Adam’s nod he continued. “What was that number?”

“It was my birthday, or close to it anyway. The year digits were off by one year.”

“Would anyone on the set know when your birthday was?”

Adam’s lips were pursed and he looked far-away as he was thinking about everything. And then he spoke,”Not all of them, actually most wouldn’t know my birthday. I had a birthday when we were filming in England, before Italy, but it wasn’t celebrated. Other than Rachel Tomlinson, I don’t know who would know it really. September 16, 1961 is actually my birthday. The code they tried was 091662. It could just be coincidence that they used that number.”

I looked at Adam when he mentioned Rachel. He hadn’t ever said too much about her, so it was interesting that she would know his birthday I thought.

“Hm, I would bet it isn’t,” Detective Arnold said. “And you didn’t recognize any of the other numbers, either of you?”

“One was this house number, which probably seemed rather logical and the other made no sense at all,” Adam said. “It was 72724.”

“S-A-R-A-H,” Detective Arnold said after thinking about it for a moment. “72724. If you look on a phone or some electronic keypads, the numbers 72724 spell S-A-R-A-H. Again, that might be a logical assumption.”

Adam and I both nodded, still over-whelmed by all of this. For me, this just all seemed too convoluted, too involved. How could someone have planned all this? And more importantly, why?

They asked for both of our cell numbers so they could reach us easily. Adam told them that we were going to California on Saturday and Detective Arnold looked up from her note-taking, alarmed.

“Mr. Richland, I don’t think that is advisable,” she stated.

“Yes, I can see how you would believe that, but we are going. We will be back next Friday. You have our numbers and I will provide you with contact numbers and such for my residence in California, but that is the best I can do. We are going, this is an opportunity for Sarah to meet my family, as my parents are on a very brief visit from Africa.”

“Does anyone from the movie set know you are going?” she asked.

“No, I made all the arrangements myself. I haven’t spoken with any of them.”

“Can you keep it that way? Keep this visit very quiet?”

“I’ll do the very best I can. I won’t let the production company know where I am. If they call me on my mobile, they won’t know where I am. They do know I’m here and could possibly try to reach me that way though.”

“Can you check messages on this phone if necessary?” she asked, looking at me.

“Yes, I can check messages from anywhere. Actually, I can also forward the number to my cell phone. Would that help?”

“No, I’d rather you not do that. It might alert them that you aren’t actually here. But please, check for messages frequently.”

“Look, if someone is doing something here to cause trouble, they will likely see us leave, or will notice that we aren’t in the house don’t you think?” Adam questioned. His voice was tight and strained. I could see he was becoming more and more upset by this all. I remembered back to Firenza and the brake line incident and his reaction to that. He really doesn’t handle delays or unexpected changes well I thought.

“Adam, I have several of those plug in light timer’s we could set to use. They have variable timers on them, so they could be set for different times. I bought them a few years ago. I haven’t used them, but I’m sure we can try them. Also, mom and dad could come over a few times and turn other lights on and off. We could make it work, I really think we could.”

“That is an excellent idea Ms. Marcus. If your parents could come and open blinds occasionally, little things like that it would be very helpful,” Detective Rodriguez said enthusiastically. I think he could tell that Detective Arnold was wearing on Adam.

“If someone is watching the house, don’t you suppose they might get suspicious is Sarah’s parents keep coming and going and things only seem to happen when they are here?” Adam’s voice held a ‘duh’ tone to it. Maybe they’ll even follow us to the airport? Have you thought of that?”

“Mr. Richland, we can make sure you aren’t followed to the airport, let us worry about that. And maybe, we’ll even catch someone following you, which would be great. Don’t worry about that.”

Adam nodded his head and let out a short, harsh breath. “Alright, we’ll try that.”

“What time are you leaving for the airport tomorrow?”

“We will be leaving here by 12:30 or so I should think. I need to turn the rental car in by 1:15.”

“Okay, let’s make that noon, just to make sure we don’t have to take any detours to get you there. There will be an unmarked car parked down the street, waiting for you to go past and it will stay far enough behind to look for any other vehicle that follows you. In the case that someone does, that vehicle will be pulled over by a regular unit. I will contact you tomorrow morning to let you know what unmarked car will be out there and what route to take to the airport. Will that be satisfactory?”

Adam nodded tersely, and stood up, signaling that it was time for the interview to end. Both detectives rose as well, but Detective Rodriguez had one more comment to make.

“If you find it necessary to leave the house today, please do so with caution. I’m sure I don’t really need to remind you of that, but just in case,” he finished with a smile. He offered his hand first to Adam, who shook it and then to me. Detective Arnold did the same and they were both out the door then.

I shut the door behind them and leaned against it, watching Adam for a moment. He returned the look and then walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me for a hug. I entwined my arms around his waist and laid my head against his chest, enjoying the contact. We stayed that way for a minute or so, both of us taking the time to just breathe and relax.

Finally Adam said, “Well, what’s the plan for today love? Are we going to see Cassie?” I felt his lips moving against my hair, and then he kissed the top of my head.

“Yeah, I do want to see Cassie today. Are you sure you’re up for it? You are rather stressed right now Adam.”

“Yes, but it’s just what I need to fix me right up, Cassie’s uplifting attitude. Just the ticket I think. And while I’m thinking about it, how about you and I going out to dinner tonight? Somewhere special, just the two of us?”

I was quiet for a moment, reflecting on what he said. He didn’t really seem to be avoiding dealing with his feelings or frustrations. Maybe for him it is just as simple as moving on to something else. I remembered Firenza and that’s how it was there as well.

“If you’re sure you are up to it, then I would love to go to dinner and I have a very special place in mind. Very romantic!”

“Um, just exactly what the doctor ordered then?” He hugged me again, holding me close and I wanted to just melt into him, it was the very best place to be.

“Okay. We have a plan then, so let’s go!” I told him, heading off to the bedroom to put on some regular shoes (the fuzzy slippers are great, but …) and then I grabbed my purse and a jacket and we were off!

Monday, December 18, 2006

An Enchanted Evening

Chapter Thirty-Four
When I walked out of the bedroom, the lights were out in the living room and Adam had candles lit all over the room as well as the fireplace. I love candles and I burn them often, so he didn’t really have to look hard to find them. The room looked enchanting in the glow of the fire and candles. He had put a Carly Simon CD on, Moonlight Serenade and she was crooning the title song. It was slow and sexy and seemed to fit the mood perfectly.

He’d been really busy I realized when I saw that he had even opened a bottle of wine, a pro secco frizante, which was a sparkling dry white wine that we had enjoyed in Italy.

He looked up and saw me standing in the doorway, and even in the dim light I could see his eyes widen and light up appreciatively as I came into the room. He slowly walked over to where I was standing in the doorway and wrapped his arms around me.

“Um Bella, you are beautiful,” he murmured against my ear. His breath was warm and it stirred my already heightened senses. He placed soft, teasing kisses on my neck, lifting my hair as he went. Goosebumps immediately rose up on my body and I shivered, arousal already blossoming through my body.

He led me to the couch and handed me a glass of wine and we lightly clicked our glasses together.

“To an enchanted evening. May all our dreams come true,” he toasted, his eyes promising me that they would. My belly tightened in anticipation and I licked my lips eagerly.

We settled back onto the couch, sipping our wine for a few minutes. We watched the softly flickering flames in the fireplace and I felt the last of the days stresses leaving my mind and body. Anticipation and desire were skipping through my mind and body now and I knew that they would quickly become a clamoring for satisfaction.

We sat there together on the couch, holding hands, our bodies touching each others and I was aware of every breath Adam took. He was softly stroking my hand with his fingers and it spread tingles across my palm and up my arm. I was acutely aware of his leg pressing warmly against mine, every little movement sent electricity rushing through me and I felt myself quivering.

“I can’t wait to take you to California. I hope you’ll like my home,” Adam said in a voice that was more of a caress than I could ever have believed a voice could be. Low and seductive, it made me feel like I was caught in a vortex, spinning and spiraling down into him. I felt heady and it wasn’t just the wine.

I tried desperately to think of something to say in reply, anything, but I was beyond talking.

Carly started singing, I Only Have Eyes For You and Adam asked, “Would you care to dance, Bella?” Adam asked. At my nod, he stood up and offered me his hand, pulling me lightly to my feet. He led me to the spot in front of the fireplace and wrapped me into his arms, pulling our bodies into very close contact. He was hard against my belly and desire was stampeding through my veins, making my body sing with need for him. I looked into his eyes, their chocolate depths mesmerizing my own hazel ones and I felt dizzy then, craving him, the feel of him inside me.

He bent and kissed me, gently, enticingly and it made me hunger for more of his lovely mouth. I wanted to lose myself in his kiss and I pressed myself more fully against his aroused flesh.

I don’t believe we were actually doing anything more than swaying to the music by then. Even Adam, who always seemed so in control was trembling, and I felt him swallow quickly a couple of times. His hands ran down my back, following my curves and when his hands rested on my hips, he pulled me tightly against him.

I opened my mouth to feel his tongue as it stroked my own, swirling and moving deeply in my mouth, exploring every moist inch. I teased his tongue with my own and gently suckled on it and it made him groan, deep within his throat.

My knees were shaking badly, I didn’t think I could stand much longer and Adam read my mind then and picked me up and carried me to the bedroom. I looked longingly at the fire, burning brightly and wished I was up to rolling around on the floor in front of it, but I knew my ribs would never stand for it and so did Adam.

He let me down in front of the bed and started to eagerly remove my robe. His hands were shaking, impatient to touch me, all of me and I felt the same way about him.

My robe slipped off of me and Adam’s mouth found my bare shoulder and I felt his tongue swirling and licking it and then he blew gently on it and his breath sent more shivers traveling through my already excited body. His mouth slid wetly over my shoulder to my neck and he lightly nipped they tender spot where shoulder and neck joined.

His mouth felt wonderful on my neck and I stretched as far as I could to allow him more access, wanting to feel his mouth everywhere. He licked delicately along my collar bone and then turned his attentions to my other shoulder, teasing and caressing it as thoroughly as he had the first one.

This was exciting, exhilarating but I needed to touch him as well. I wanted to feel his taut skin beneath my tongue, feel him quiver in response to my ministrations and I told him so. I lifted his shirt, running my hands up over his belly and chest slowly, sliding the shirt up, up and over his head before I dropped it on the floor where it joined my robe at our feet.

My hands splayed out across his chest, straying playfully through the curly hair and teasing over his nipples, which were hard as little pebbles. My mouth caressed him them, licking indolently over them, unhurriedly and Adam shuddered and pulled away, so he could slide my teddy down over my breasts, past my hips where it finally lay with our other discarded clothes on the floor.

I was naked and so aroused. My dusky rose colored areolas were tight and heated, making my nipples almost painfully erect, aching with desire. Adam stared at them, mesmerized and then he slid his hands over their soft curves, rubbing his thumbs tantalizingly over my swollen nipples. He bent to kiss them then, pulling on them gently with his lips. I watched his mouth move over them as he slid from one nipple to the other, leaving cool, wet trails over my heated flesh.

I unfastened the buttons on his jeans and slid them down his long legs and then returned to his hips to carefully tug his underwear down over his erect shaft. He stepped out of them and lay down on the bed, cautiously pulling me down with him, pulling me onto his chest and returning to kiss my mouth.

I moaned and he quickly pulled away and looked at me in question and I just shook my head, I had moaned because it felt so good, this contact between us. I took his head between my hands and joined our eager mouths together again and thrust my tongue deep into his waiting mouth.

I was wet and aching now, I needed to feel him inside me and it was hard to keep from climbing onto him to ride him quickly. Instead, I let my tongue slip down his neck, biting and sucking softly on a passionate journey to his belly, stopping to swirl my tongue excitedly over his nipples and hips.

When my mouth reached my goal, I kissed his velvety length, caressing his sensitive head with my moist tongue and lips, and then quickly slid my mouth down his throbbing shaft until I couldn’t take him any deeper. I felt him pulsing in my mouth and I gradually withdrew my mouth, and then sank down his length again and again, until he was moaning wildly.

“Ah, enough love, enough,” he told me, his voice low and husky. He gently rolled me over onto my back and buried his mouth once again on mine, our lips and tongues playing together deliciously, teasing and tormenting until I thought I would scream my desire to him.

His mouth slid down my neck and settled on my breast, his tongue making stabbing motions over my nipple, making it ever harder and I shuddered because it felt so good. His mouth slid under the soft globe of my breast to the sensitive crease of skin, where breast and body meet and he teased this irresistible spot, tracing the outline delicately before he reclaimed my nipple. As he treated my other breast with this same loving attention, my belly was contracting with need. I felt my head thrashing from side to side and I didn’t know how much more I could handle.

“Please Adam, I need you now!” I begged. “Please…”

He smiled at me then, a devilish smile and taunted me more by sliding his tongue wetly down my belly, feeling it quiver with desire before he spread my legs apart and kissed the insides of my thighs. Soft little nibbles teased my sensitive flesh as his tongue drew little circles over it, bringing gooses bumps all over my body. He move closer to the soft curls between my thighs, gently opening me and planting a kiss on my hot and honeyed flesh.

His tongue slid over me, over the tight little nub of aching desire and I immediately came, fast and hard, my body shuddering though my release. My belly was contracting wildly and if my ribs were hurting, I didn’t even notice.

My muscles were still contracting when he entered me, going slowly and making sure he wasn’t resting on my body. He bent his head to kiss me, letting my body relax a bit from my orgasm. But his kiss only served to arouse me more, making me yearn for release again and I started to gyrate my hips, deepening the contact between us. I squirmed and wanted to feel all of him inside of me.

I was drenched by this time, my juices running freely and Adam pushed into me, deeper with each thrust. I caught my breath when I unexpectedly felt Adam against my ribs once and he stopped immediately and kissed me, asking over and over if I was okay. I assured him that I was and asked him to please don’t stop!

He rolled over onto his back then, pulling me with him and held my hips still as he thrust upwards into me while he caressed my nipples with his lips and tongue. I was close to coming again and he felt me tightening around him, and I started moving in my own rhythm, and he quickly changed his pace to meet my increasingly faster one. Finally we were both moving as one, lost in the passion of the moment, only knowing the feel of our bodies sliding wetly together, mindlessly of their own accord.

I felt my orgasm starting them, building into a wild crescendo of pleasure, the contractions going on and on until I was leaning over Adam, sobbing his name as the release radiated through my body. Adam quickly joined me then, pushing himself deeply into my pulsing body, where I felt his warmth flood inside of me.

I lay down upon his chest as we were both trying to slow our breathing down. His hands were running over my body, through my hair, down my back, pulling me to him as tightly as he could without hurting me.

“I love you Sarah, I love you,” he murmured over and over between kisses.

Those words tore at me, at my heart. Three simple little words, words that just wouldn’t come out. I tried to think of it as saying those words to my family. I love you. So easy to say those words to them, and yet to Adam, they just wouldn’t come.

I tried to think of them as just words, but the problem was they weren’t just words any longer. They represented everything about my relationship with Adam—the caring and devotion, the trust, the desire to be with him. And once I actually say them, there is no going back, no getting out with my heart unscathed.

But do I really want to go back, to get out?

Do I want a life without this man, this incredibly loving man, who stirs my senses beyond belief, who makes me laugh and look forward to each and every day I spend with him?

Would my life be happy without him? Back to the way it was, just trudging through each day, working steadily so I never had to pay any real attention to the loneliness that surrounded me? Never really appreciating the beauty around me, the magic?

Three little words…

Our breathing had slowed down and I shivered, not with cold but with fear; fear of losing him. Because I couldn’t say those words. I heard Lissa saying to me, “See, its not so hard mom.” And I knew then that I wanted to say them.

My heart was pounding frantically and I knew that Adam must surely hear it, feel it. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and for a moment I considered that we had somehow hurt my ribs, damaged them.

But I knew that wasn’t the problem.

“I love you Adam,” I told him, my voice merely a shaky whisper.

For a moment, everything stopped. I had actually said it; I had told him I loved him. And I knew I meant it more than anything I had ever said before, to anyone. I love him, I do.

Adam was running his fingers through my hair, smoothing it away from my face when he heard me say I love you. His hands paused in mid-stroke then and came slowly to rest on the sides of my face.

I was crying, of course I would be, and he was wiping the tears away gently with his thumbs before he kissed me, his lips moving slowly over mine, softly clinging. He pressed his cheek against mine held me to him, gently rocking us back and forth.

I moved to kiss him back and I realized his cheeks were wet as well, and I thought how ridiculous it was that I keep crying like this all the time. I tried to wipe my tears off of his face and make some flippant joke about it and before I could, he laid his finger against my lips and smiled at me. I realized then that it didn’t matter whose tears they were, they were our tears, and it just didn’t matter any longer whose eyes they came from, because they came from our souls and they were cried in joy. They were the beginning for us, the first steps of healing our ragged hearts and empty lives.

I was still shivering and Adam got up off the bed and lifted me gently onto the floor so he could pull the covers back, then just as carefully placed me back into the bed and got in and pulled the covers up over us. He wrapped his long and lean body around mine and pulled me into his warm embrace.

I felt cherished and so happy. There had been a certain freedom in saying those words. I had never said them before to a man and meant them. At least the ‘in love’ aspect.

Lissa was right, it was okay. It hadn’t been easy, true, but nothing cataclysmic happened when I said them. I felt good, or at least better for having told Adam how I feel. In fact there was a certain buoyancy inside me right then, and I almost felt like giggling.

Adam still hadn’t said a word and I decided I had probably put him into shock. We just held one another, heartbeats and breaths mingling in the dim light that peeked between the closed slats of the blinds.

Adams stomach growled then, fiercely and we both laughed. “Sorry,” he said, and I could feel him smile against my cheek.

“Maybe we should get up and feed you,” I told him, looking over his shoulder to see that it was 12:30.

“Do you mind if I get a snack? I’m afraid the sandwiches didn’t last very long.”

“Well, you only had two, big ones of course, plus enough chips and salsa to support the entire Mexican food industry for a month. But then, who was paying attention?” I told him with a laugh.

“I’m afraid you’re being bad, very, very bad and I simply cannot allow this any longer,” he told me with a laugh, burying his face in my neck and tickling me with his tongue, which made me squeal with delight, then squirm and it was then that I realized that his hunger was about more than just a snack.

“What’s this,” I asked, sliding my hand between our bodies and stroking his length firmly with my warm fingers.

His forehead was pressed against mine and he rubbed his nose up against mine and giggled. “I think it speaks rather clearly on its own, don’t you?”

“Yes, it does seem to have a message for me,” I told him playfully, tugging gently on his turgid length. I raised my leg and draped it over his hip and slid my body close to him. I managed to slide him into my dewy depths and wiggled to get him in farther, until he was fully penetrating me.

We both moaned then and started our passion evoking dance; each of us moving sensuously against the other. Our mouths were fused together, tongues dancing against one another’s, playing a delicious game of plunder and retreat. As he delved deeply into my nether depths, we both worked together to find our way to passions path and surrender and soon all we knew was the joy and profound delight that was soaring through our bodies, until at last we reached the pinnacle of that pleasure, gasping out our release. We drifted slowly back to earth together, holding one another tightly, as our breathing returned to normal.

My legs felt like jelly, and I struggled to pull my leg back down to my side. Adam helped me and placed little kisses all over my face and neck. I don’t think I could have moved another muscle right then, so completely sated I was.

“Um, this feels wonderful,” I murmured against his neck. All the tension of the past few days had magically disappeared, leaving me satisfied and very relaxed.

“Yes, it does feel good,” he said with a sigh against the top of my head. “How do your ribs feel, have we done any damage do you think?”

“I think my ribs are just fine and that the release of all that tension can only help my recovery!”

“Tension, you’ve been tense?” he asked me, sounding so serious and for a moment I believed him.

“Um, yes. You see, I’ve this incredibly hot man hanging around my house driving me to distraction. So yes, I’d say there has been some tension!”

“Hmm, well I’m glad you got him to go away so I could have a chance! You’re pretty hot yourself lady, let me tell you,” he said with a soft laugh.

And then his stomach growled again and we were both laughing wildly. “Okay, okay, I get the hint; let’s get some food into you!” I told him, disentangling myself from him so I could get out of the bed.

It was chilly, so after a quick visit to the bathroom I pulled on a pair of sweats, very unglamorous ones at that and some furry house slippers and made my way out to the kitchen where Adam was already digging through the fridge.

He had pulled his jeans back on, but was bare chested and barefoot, which made me shiver. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was so cold in here or because he was so hot…

“Are you hungry?” he asked, pulling more deli meat out of the fridge and getting bread out of the cabinet.

“Yes, I’m a bit hungry, but I’m going to get something else.” I pulled some graham crackers and peanut butter out of the cabinet and grabbed a butter knife from the drawer, grabbing an extra one when I realized Adam hadn’t gotten one to make his sandwich. I also grabbed a couple of plates and noticed the empty pitcher setting on the counter and considered briefly making a pitcher of iced tea.

But there was something about that idea that was repelling to me; maybe because I had gotten so sick last night and I had drunk a lot of the tea. Instead, I grabbed the milk out of the fridge and a couple of glasses and sat them on the table.

Drunk a lot of the tea!

An idea popped into my head then, an admittedly preposterous idea as memories of conversations and events came flooding back into my mind. I spread peanut butter on my graham cracker, and then placed another on top of it; lost in deep thought or maybe the phrase should be a startling revelation.

“Adam, didn’t you mention something the other night about drinking so much iced tea in Italy that you felt ill?” I asked him, taking a bite of my ‘sandwich’.

“Um hm. I started to feel jittery and shaky. Too much caffeine I guess, I’d better stick to coffee!” he said while he was building a giant sandwich. I was wondering how he was going to get his mouth on it and I laughed for a moment, remembering the comic strip Blondie and the Dagwood sandwiches that her husband was known for making. I wondered if they see comic strips in the paper in England?

“Where did the tea come from?” I asked, very curious.

“The mess tent, I suppose. There wasn’t really any other place to get it. Why?” he asked, managing to get the sandwich into his mouth for a bite. I watched, fascinated for a moment before making myself focus again on my questions.

“I was just thinking about it. Who brought it from the tent for you?”

“Anyone of a dozen or more different people. The set assistants are there to do those things, you know.”

“Um hm, so does that mean Sunni, or Krista?” I asked. My stomach was starting to turn flip-flops and I hastily laid my sandwich down.

“Well yes, but they certainly weren’t the only ones. More often than not it wasn’t either of them. Everyone knew I loved tea, and someone was always handing me a glass,” he said, pouring some milk into our glasses and then taking a drink. He left a little milk mustache on his upper lip and I smiled at it, tempted to wipe it away. But before I could, he caught where my glance was and wiped his mouth with a napkin.

“So you always got it in glasses from the mess tent? Directly from the mess tent?”

“Yes, usually a glass, although sometimes there would be a pitcher in the fridge in my dressing room. Sarah, what on earth are you trying to find out?” he questioned, looking at me as I sat there thinking about it all.

I folded my arms across my chest, I felt even colder now than I had earlier. And I also didn’t like what I was thinking. I began to speak, hoping Adam would hear me out and wouldn’t think I was crazy.

“Adam, think about everything, your reaction to the tea in Italy, the incident in Pisa and the brake line. The light being on here the other night and Lissa and I both feeling terrible after drinking the tea and then someone trying to get into the house today, attempting to use your birthday as a code. Doesn’t it all make you wonder how much is coincidence? It certainly does me!”

“I – I, uh, right. Right. I hadn’t really thought about it all together. It had seemed to be separate issues.”

“I don’t believe it is Adam.”

He sat there nodding his head and his eyes held a far off look, as if picturing something else entirely. “I suppose you could be right. I just can’t imagine why? What purpose is there in trying to make us sick by drinking tainted tea? That is what you’re thinking isn’t it? That someone was poisoning the tea, both in Italy and here?”

“Yes, I am. What else could explain this? Adam, did you tell them in Italy that you weren’t drinking tea anymore?”

“I stopped drinking it the day before I met you and after that, I didn’t really have a chance. The last day of shooting was a muck up and we just got through it. Didn’t we drink some tea with sandwiches that evening during the dinner break in my dressing room?” he asked, his brow furrowed as he tried to remember that evening.

“No, actually I drank a Diet Coke and you drank some water out of a bottle.”

“Um, right,” he told me quietly. “Sarah, I’ve got to get you away from me until we figure out what is happening. I don’t want you put into further danger.”

“Adam, that’s ridiculous. I’m sort of already in the middle of it, aren’t I? Someone has been in my house and in all likelihood, put something into our tea, thinking that you would drink it.”

He was running his index finger around and around the rim of the milk glass, lost in thought. “I’ve been such a fool, an idiot really, not putting everything together. How could I not have? It seems very obvious,” he stated, looking me in the eyes intently. “What do you want to do then?”

“I think we need to get the detectives back over here in the morning and tell them about our suspicions, before we go to California.”

“You can’t possibly come with me now, that would be madness, placing you directly into the path of whomever is trying to do this!”

“If you think for one moment Adam Richland that I am staying here on my own, you’re more than an idiot, you’re crazy!” I snapped at him, starting to get irritated. Did he really think I would just stay here while he went on his own, not knowing who is doing this and why?

Why indeed?

I took a couple of deep breaths and then asked, “Why Adam? Why is someone doing this?”

“I don’t know, I can’t think of any reason.”

“Maybe the detectives will have a better idea,” I said, hoping that was true.

“I believe you’re right, I can’t leave you here unprotected. We’ll figure more out tomorrow after we have talked with the police again.”

I nodded and looked down at the table, at the half uneaten food sitting there and got up to start putting things away. I didn’t think either one of us would be eating any more this night.

Adam got up as well, putting things back into the fridge while I threw out the uneaten food and rinsed the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Before long, everything was done and we wandered back into the bedroom and climbed silently into the bed.

Adam pulled the covers up over us and I settled my head on his arm and we both laid there, not speaking for a few minutes.

“I’m so sorry Sarah, I feel horrid. Not only am I a fool, I’ve managed to place you into danger with me.”

“Adam, you didn’t do it on purpose you know. It will be alright, we’ll figure it all out. Or the detectives will. I think the most important thing is to figure out why,” I said quietly.

“Yeah, I suppose so.” He turned over then and kissed me, tenderly and I could see his eyes barely visible in the dim light, but I felt reassured because I could see the love in them. I kissed him in return and felt his warmth and strength and I surprisingly didn’t feel scared at all.

“I love you Sarah,” he told me, softly whispering it against my cheek.

“I love you Adam,” I said. I felt at peace.