Monday, October 30, 2006

Bella Firenza

Chapter Fifteen

We listened to the rest of The Game of Love and I wondered if it struck the same cord within Adam as it did with me? Probably not, guys are wired differently than girls, and that’s okay. It’s probably good actually.

I stifled a yawn, then another. I couldn’t believe that was I tired, but apparently I was. I felt Adam chuckle softly, it felt like a mild rumble beneath my cheek and I smiled at it. Sitting here like this just seems to intertwine our thoughts, our desires more all the time. I feel a strong sense of intimacy with Adam. Is this how a relationship is supposed to build? You create the world you want before you jump in and have passionate, meaningless sex? Something to think about anyway.

“I don’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m going to bed,” I told him, yawning yet again.

“Mm,” he responded. “Can I walk you to your door?” I looked over to my door which was about 10 feet away, but at my nod of ascent, he stood up and held out his hand to me to help me up. I reached out and took it and stood up to face him.

This was the hard part, I thought. Leaving him like this, I didn’t want to. I wanted to walk in his bedroom with him and crawl into that huge bed and wrap myself around him and never let go.

But I did let go and I called myself every type of idiot possible. I let go that is until we got to my door and I threw my arms around him and pulled his head down to mine to lose myself in his kiss.

It started passionately and picked up momentum, until we were both shaky and breathless. But slowly we pulled apart and he stood there and watched me silently as I went into my room and closed the door. I felt like I had left a huge part of me right there in his arms. I stood on the other side of the door leaning against it and silent tears streaked my face and the battle I fought was with me, not Adam.

I tossed my clothes off and went into the bathroom, part of me hoping we’d meet in there and part of me hoping we wouldn’t. I don’t know if luck was with me or against me, but he didn’t come in. I stood there and stared at myself in the mirror, seeing my face that was flushed from more than just the tears, eyes shining brightly with need and desire. I decided I’d had enough of this and hurriedly washed my face and brushed my teeth, then went and crawled in my bed.

If I was tired earlier, I didn’t feel it now. I felt wide-awake, like I had drunk way too many cups of coffee, almost jittery in fact. I lay there in the dark and quiet and told myself again what a fool I was. Except that I didn’t know if I was a fool for not being in there with him, or for wanting to be.

The need to run was getting stronger. After all, that’s my usual way of solving problems like this, romantic ones that is. It’s amazing, in all other aspects of my life I am so together—I’m exceptional at my job, responsible, a good mother and friend, I’m fun to be with and I have relationships in my life that have been going strong for decades. But not romantic ones, obviously.

I feel like the emotions I am developing with Adam are a runaway train, and I can’t get control of it. That’s part of the key with me I have discovered in all my soul searching; I have to be able to be in control of the situation in order to exist peacefully in it. And when a relationship gets too emotional, you lose control, so that’s when I get out. And this is happening so damn fast, I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I’m grappling for control, but there’s nothing really to hold onto yet; only my fear.

I feel the panic rising in me, and only my sheer will to stick this out is keeping me here. But how do I succeed at something I have never, ever once been successful at?

Maybe the key is to just wait it out, enjoy the time because I know it won’t make the transition back to real life. How could it?

I fell into a troubled sleep with that thought on my mind and when morning came, I woke feeling as if I had been fighting all night in my sleep. And who knows, I probably had been.

It was around 8:00 when I woke up and still quiet in the suite but Adam could be up and was just being very quiet. I realized I hadn’t even put a night gown on last night, so I found my robe and slipped it on to go into the bathroom. I saw that he had already taken a shower; there was water on the shower walls and a damp towel lying on the counter. It could have been on the floor I thought with a wry laugh. I could hear Adam then, on the phone in his room. I went ahead and jumped into the shower and I felt so much better when I got out. I mentally scrubbed away my fears and the gloomy thoughts of the night before were hidden away for another night and I was glad. Hopefully the next few nights would be full and I won’t have to time to panic like I did last night.

I got dressed, pulling on a pair of blue jeans and a soft red sweater with a deep v neckline. I call it my flirty sweater and the red lace bra that I always wear under it makes Cassie call it my “Va Va Voom” sweater. I wore some red and silver chandelier earrings and a matching dangling pendant with it. My hair was behaving today; it was loose and slightly curly. It made my sigh in exasperation because I knew it wouldn’t stay that way. I put on a little makeup and decided that I would do quite well.

Adam’s eyes told me the same thing when I walked out to the living room. His eyes lit up and widened in appreciation and the smile he gave me was first gallant and then became cheeky. He was sitting on the couch looking at more of Sunni’s travel papers. I went over and kissed him.

“Good morning,” I murmured against his lips

He pulled me down onto his lap and held me tightly to him. “Mm, you smell good and look good and I don’t think I’ll ever want to let you go,” he said suggestively.

“Who said I want you to?” I replied back, holding him just as tightly.

Neither of us was asking how the other slept. I was scared to ask him, I admit it. If he didn’t sleep well then I’ll feel guilty, if he did sleep well, then I’ll think what happened last night, our sleeping in different beds, different rooms didn’t matter to him. A catch-22, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I kissed him one final time and stood up to go look out at the city in the morning sunlight. He came and stood by me, gazing out as well.

“I just ordered us some breakfast. Are you anxious to get on the road to Firenza? I am,” he told me. He was nervous, playing absentmindedly with whatever was in the pocket of his jeans, which incidentally he looked fabulous in. He had a deep gold polo shirt on and it made his eyes sparkle, pulling out little bits and flecks of gold in his chocolate colored eyes.

“Yes,” I agreed, “I’m really ready to get there. Pisa is beautiful, but for obvious reasons I am ready to leave it behind.”

He smiled at me then, dimples flashing me shamelessly. I completely surrendered to them, feeling warm and happy. I just stood there, smiling back at him and nothing else in the world mattered except being here, with him.

“Okay, let me check your head,” I said. He looked at me and rolled those gorgeous eyes but submitted well enough to my altogether inadequate doctoring skills. His head was looking even better and he told me he didn’t have a headache today. We talked about Firenza and what we would like to do there but for some reason Adam refused to tell me about the Hotel Dei Fiori Bei.

Breakfast arrived about a half hour later and it was delicious. Eggs Florentine, in anticipation of our journey, fresh melon and coffee. It was wonderful, but we didn’t linger over it. We were both eager to leave.

Adam had called to have our bags picked up and for the bill to be readied, which I raised my eyebrows at. I really hadn’t thought about it, the bill I mean, cloud-gathering I guess. I wanted to pay my part, but I knew this place was way out of my price range.

I started to open my mouth to ask about it and he anticipated what I was going to say. ”No,” he said, “I don’t want you to even think about it. This is my gift to you. Please, let me Sarah.”

I looked at him for a moment, and then slowly nodded my head. It felt okay. Part of the fairy tale I told myself.

To break the tension, Adam asked “Hey, you want to screw up the equalizer one last time before we go, just for old time’s sake?”

I was laughing when the porter came to get our bags. He seemed confused when our bags were in different bedrooms, but of course said nothing about it, but I’m sure he was surprised. When we had got here they put them in separate rooms but I’m sure they don’t expect them to stay that way. That news will probably reach Firenza before we do I decided.

I stood at the door of the suite as we were leaving, thinking about the memories I will take with me, of it and Pisa. I caught Adam’s eyes and I know he was thinking the same things as I was. We nodded at each other and closed the door.

At the desk Adam paid the bill and I tried very hard not to notice how much it was. Needless to say, it was more than I make in two weeks time, and I really make pretty good money.

The luggage was being loaded into the car and I remembered the post cards I had written yesterday. They were in my purse and I asked if they could be mailed. When I was assured they could, I bought the appropriate postage and left them there, realizing I’d probably be home before they got there, but that was okay.

We got in the car and headed again for the Superstrada. Firenza was about an hour away and we were ready for it. I took command of the CD player again and put in Fleetwood Mac’s Say You Will album. Adam smiled, and then laughed. I looked at him quizzically. He looked at me and his eyebrows rose a bit and he sang, “Say you will?” and I couldn’t help but laugh myself.

I felt good, and I realized he did too. I remembered back to that silly saying “Today’s the first day of the rest of your life” and I realized it really was. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to worry about what was going to happen between Adam and myself and that when I did worry, I wasn’t going to freak out about it. Nothing like making a deal with your deal, huh?

We told each other stories about the funny things our kids have done and laughed most of the way to Firenza. The time flew by quickly and soon we were on the Autostrada zooming around Firenza to the northeast where the hotel was located.

It was in the hills overlooking Firenza, we found the Hotel Dei Fiori Bei. The name, Hotel of Beautiful Flowers definitely didn’t do it justice. Everywhere I looked color was exploding. The backdrop of the hotel itself was the perfect setting to show the flowers off. The hotel was dazzling white in the sun, with a red-tiled roof standing starkly against the white and the colors of the flowers and the leaves that were only beginning to change on the trees. There was a main hotel in the forefront, several stories tall, with creeping vines of bougainvillea trailing over the balconies and the terrazzo entry way. I could see 4 cottages behind and above the hotel, but to call them cottages was a misnomer. That would be like calling a Yugo a Cadillac—the only thing the two had in common is that they are both automobiles.

And so was the story with the cottages—really more like individual condo’s, judging from the size. As we navigated the long and colorful drive I lost sight of them, but it didn’t matter because I was almost overwhelmed with the beauty of the drive winding up to the hotel.

The earth seemed to be bursting with color and texture and fragrance, even in September. Not only were there all the typical fall flowers, the gold’s and red’s and amber’s and orange’s, but colors I usually only think of for spring and summer, pink’s, purple’s, yellow’s. It was amazing to see and I realized I couldn’t even begin to name them all. The flowers were playing hide and seek with the lush greens, green’s of every color and variety. It seemed so wild at first, but then I realized that it only looked that way, that it was all carefully arranged to appear that way. I closed my eyes for a moment and slowly breathed in the rich scent and let it out with a sigh.

Adam was looking over at me with the strangest expression on his face and I couldn’t decipher it. It was almost as if he was seeing something for the first time or maybe seeing it differently. The look was almost raw and stirred something in the pit of my stomach and it contracted with a spasm of what can only be described as pure craving and need. I felt self-conscious and quickly turned my head away, afraid of what he might see on my face, in my eyes. But I also knew that I was ready to move on, to make love with him. Once the decision was made for me, I felt light and happy, ready to take the chance—on him and myself.

We pulled up the entry way and a doorman immediately rushed out to open the doors for us. He inquired if Adam would like him to get our bags and move the car and Adam told him no, that we were staying in a cottage.

“Ah, si signore e signora, enjoy your stay” he said with a slight bow and a smile as he held the door open for us to enter the hotel.

This hotel wasn’t as opulent as the hotel in Pisa, more rustic, but charm oozed from it. The furniture was comfortable looking, perhaps what Italians consider country style, but that didn’t make it in any way less than stylish. Inside, as well as outside, flowers abounded, adding their colorful voices to the décor.

The clerk recognized Adam immediately. “Welcome back to Hotel Dei Fiori Bei, Mr. Richland. We hope you will enjoy your stay here! We have you in the Cottage of Frangipani and I’m sure you will find everything in order!” she told him with a smile, a very friendly smile I thought, amused at the effect Adam had on people. He was in performance mode again, charming and kind, teasing her slightly about how beautiful the hotel is. I could almost be jealous until I see how he is when it’s just the two of us, and while he is still charming and kind, his face relaxes and he is just so real. I’ve begun to think of this persona as a mask that Adam wears to help keep people out, without them having a clue that they didn’t see the real Adam.

After the check in was completed, we returned to the car and Adam drove around the main building onto a winding road that led to the cottages. I saw golf carts parked at the back entrance to the hotel and Adam explained they were there for the guests to use to go back and forth to the hotel if they wanted and for room service deliveries. Looking up at the steep and winding road, I could understand the necessity for them. It would be quite a hike I thought.

The Cottage of Frangipani was the farthest away from the main hotel and had a covered carport—covered in frangipani and flowers and other kinds of vine of course, intoxicating and heady. Adam seemed familiar with the way in and we opened the trunk to get our bags out. Adam had told them at the desk that there was no need to send a porter, that we could take care of the bags ourselves. I liked it better this way actually, we’d been waited on so much the past couple of days it was nice not to be fussed over.

Inside the cottage, and I use this term only because that is what they call it, it was as beautiful as the main hotel, but on a more intimate level. It was decorated in the Italian country style as well; the colors were muted floral tones and lots of white, creamy yellows and green. The walls were stark white again, which seemed to be a perfect backdrop to the flowers and the furniture which was done in deep moss green leather, with throw pillows in lavender and pink and a deeper green. The living area was in a sunken recess with a huge fireplace stealing the show. It was covered in pale pink marble and was set up for a fire to be lit. It seemed unlikely we would need a fire since the weather was spectacular, but Adam assured me that when the sun goes down, we are high enough up in the hills that it would be chilly. I suddenly anticipated a roaring fire this evening and I couldn’t wait! Off to the right was a small bar area that included a wet bar and a small refrigerator, that followed the color scheme of the living room.

Next to the bar there was an armoire which again contained a TV and a stereo. Adam looked at me and raised his eyebrows and said, “Good, you’ll have something to play with!”

“I think I’ll have something else to play with actually,” I said in my best flirty voice. I smiled only the tiniest bit because I didn’t want him to miss the message in my eyes, the message I was ready for him to see—I wanted him and I put every bit of that right there for him to see.

His eyes locked with mine and he nodded, almost imperceptibly, but it was clear between us now. We knew what was going to happen and we both were ready, for the physical part anyway.

That look changed everything. From then on everything we did and said was a prelude to making love, foreplay almost. Each touch and look brought us to a road we couldn’t wait to be on. It was tangible, in every movement our bodies made, every word we said. It was like an erotic dance, sensual and intense, without a single move actually being made. It was there, in our minds and maybe in our hearts as well. It was going to happen and we both knew it and we were savoring every moment that lead up to it.

To seal our fates, both sets of luggage went into the master bedroom. There were three bedrooms in the cottage, each exquisitely decorated and beautiful, but the master suite almost took my breath away it was so perfect.

This room was like stepping into an arbor, from the lovely murals painted on the walls to the massive four poster bed hung with vines that had waxy and lustrous green leaves. I’m not sure what is going on with Italians and these beds, but this one was truly spectacular, large enough to sleep 5 people extremely comfortably. It was made of some type of wood painted white and distressed, as was the vanity, armoire and dresser. The vines twisted and trailed around the posts in what looked like a careless manner that wasn’t careless at all. The bed coverings and accents of the room including the thick Oriental rug were in the moss green colors again and in shades of lilac and creamy yellows again, the colors of frangipani blossoms, some deep and some pale. There was another fireplace, this one with pale green marble on it was on the wall by the door, opposite of the bed.

It wasn’t what I’d call a manly room at all, but I bet it got a lot of guys lucky! Adam seemed perfectly comfortable in it, which was good because I anticipated us spending quite a bit of time in there.

The bathroom was any woman’s dream—a tub which was deep and big enough to easily accommodate two people with room to spare. It was moss green as were the other fixtures in the room and I was beginning to love that color. The walls were white and one whole wall was made of glass bricks which let it tons of light and one of the other walls was painted with a mural, again frangipani and lilacs. The counter tops were the same shade of green as the tub and the towels were a deep lilac shade. A glass shower was also large enough for several people and it even had a bench in it to sit on.

I imagined Adam and I in that tub, making love in warm scented water, candles burning and reflected off the mirror. I saw us in the shower on the bench, facing each other and staring into one another eyes as he moved in and out of me, and by the time I started on the bed fantasy I decided I needed to change my thoughts for awhile.

I gazed at Adam for a moment and flashed him a smile full of desire and said “Let’s go look at the balcony,” and I reached for his hand as I headed out the doors. The balcony ran the length of the cottage with doors opening off the living room and master bedroom.

It was beautiful, with red terrazzo tiles and a table and chairs and a chaise lounge that was made for two people to share! Before another fantasy popped into my head I told Adam, “I bet you’re ready for lunch, huh?”

“How can you tell?”

“Um, maybe it’s the hungry look in your eyes,” and as soon as I said it I wanted to take it back—I knew what that look was. I smiled at him and shrugged. I was standing by the balcony railing and rested my arms on it and looked out. The hotel was below us and to the left and in the distance you could see Firenza. In the afternoon sun it was beautiful. You could see the Arno peeking out from between buildings occasionally, glinting in the sunshine. The cathedral was in the downtown area and it almost seemed if everything else radiated out from it. Firenza is a magnificent city and it felt good to be here again.

Adam came over to me and put his arm around me and stood looking out at the city with me for a few minutes. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I hope that he was as happy as I was right then.

“Actually,” he began, leaning down and speaking softly in my ear, “I’m famished, but I guess for now lunch will have to do!” I felt his warm breath against my neck and ear and it made me shiver. He pulled me even closer to him. I wrapped my arm around him and started giggling.

“What’s so funny? Are you making fun of me again? I’m just a growing boy; I can’t help it if I’m hungry!”

“No, I was just thinking how beautiful Firenza looks and that I’m not going to be seeing any of it today, other than from this balcony, huh?”

“Nope.” He turned me around then and kissed me, it was a promise of what was to come, warm and tantalizing and it made me instantly wet. That gnawing feeling was griping my belly again and all I knew was need, need for this wonderful and sexy man.

“I’ll order us some lunch then, shall I,” he asked. “What would you like?”

“Something fast?”

“No, I definitely think this calls for taking our time Sarah.”

“Well, I’ll leave that to you. I’m going to unpack a few things. How’s your head?”

“Never better.”

I reached up and gave him a quick kiss and went into the bedroom to dig through my suitcase. I knew exactly what I was looking for, a red lounging pajama set. I had thought it was ridiculous to bring it, but Cass had said “Take it. Even if you only wear it for you, at least you know you’ll look GOOD!”

It was a great outfit, sexy and sensuous. It had satin pants with wide legs and they fit low on my hips with a tie cord to hold them up and a matching short kimono jacket. What made the outfit spectacular is the red stretchy lace camisole that went with it. So sheer you can see everything through it and it fit like a second skin. It held my breasts firmly, made them look lush and round and you could see my nipples peaking through, the shape, color and texture. I had bought it a couple of months ago and afterward I had a case if buyers remorse—I couldn’t imagine why on earth I had bought it. Now, I’m thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea!

I went back out on the balcony and Adam was back after ordering lunch. He said it would be awhile before it got here and wouldn’t say another word about it.

We sat on the chaise lounge for two and cuddled. Wrapped in each others arms, softly touching, kissing and caressing, actually making out like a couple of teenagers! Except when I was a teenager, I had no idea what could come next. I did now and while anticipation is a sweet thing, it can also be a precarious ledge, just waiting for you to tumble over the edge.

We heard the golf cart coming up the path and Adam went to let them in, first shifting his erection in his pants so that walking wasn’t quite so uncomfortable, or maybe he thought they wouldn’t notice, I’m not sure.

Lunch arrived in boxes and containers that I realized could probably be placed in the refrigerator. There was a whole roasted chicken, wild rice with mushrooms and little onions, and beautiful looking seafood salad and fresh fruit and cannolli for desert. And two bottles of wine, a pro secco frizante, which is a semi dry white wine that fizzes. Not exactly like champagne, but close. It was very cold and Adam immediately put it in the fridge to keep it that way. They also brought plates and silverware, glasses and napkins. It seemed as if we were all taken care of! There was actually a lot of food here and it occurred to me that everything was cold; nothing needed to be heated up. We could eat several meals from this—and I realized that was the point!

Adam said he was going to set lunch up for us on the balcony, so I should make myself scarce for a few minutes. I took that time to change into the red outfit. I applied a musky perfume in all the right spots and checked my hair and makeup and decided I looked good.

I went to the balcony door and asked if I could come out now and Adam turned to me, telling me yes and then his eyes fell on me and he just stopped and looked at me, taking in every inch, from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes.

“My God,” he breathed, “You are stunning. I’m sure that outfit has to be illegal in many places of the world...”

“That doesn’t matter. You’re the only one who is going to see it,” I told him.

Adam nodded and came to me and wrapped me in his arms. I could feel his heart beating next to my cheek, matching the same furious pounding of my own.

And nothing else mattered anymore. I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Expectations and Revelations

Chapter Fourteen

Adam walked them to the door and came back to sit on the couch with me, tucking his arm around me and leaning his head back cautiously. He stared at the ceiling for a few minutes without saying anything. I wondered what he was thinking. My mind was racing because of the visit. I just couldn’t believe it was anything other than a very careless accident. It didn’t make sense otherwise. Had Adam not grabbed me, I would have been the one knocked down, probably over the edge. I decided then and there to dismiss it as an accident, despite the suspicions of the policia.

With an inward sigh I looked over at Adam and saw he had his eyes closed and was breathing deeply. I carefully scooted off the couch, trying hard not to disturb him, but his eyes popped open and he watched me get up.

He held out his hand to me lazily and asked, “Where are you going?”

“I thought while you were resting I would go down and check my e-mail!” I told him, smiling broadly.

“Oh, good heavens,” he groaned, rolling his eyes, but then he started chuckling. “That sounds like a good idea. So I’ll see you in awhile?”

“Yeah, an hour or so. Do you need anything before I go?” I asked. “Surely you must be hungry; it’s been over 3 hours since you last ate! I’m positive you think you are just wasting away...”

“Now that you mention it,” he stated, at his charming best, dimples flashing me shamelessly.

“Good grief!” I sighed. ”Okay, I’ll bring us some sandwiches or something when I come back. Now REST!!!”

“Uh-uh, not until you bid me a proper farewell,” he teased, getting up from the couch and coming over to where I stood, looking for the room key on a table by the door. Of course, it’s not really a ‘key’; nowadays they are magnetic key cards. Unfortunately we had accumulated a lot of stuff on our brief visit; car keys, information about the tower, papers and stuff from the police reports and hospital, and even my purse. No room key though and I couldn’t remember what I had done with it.

“I think it’s in my bedroom, on the dresser,” Adam said matter-of-factly.

I turned around to look at him quizzically, trying to figure out how in the heck he knew what I was looking for. I stood there, just looking at him, shaking my head.

“It’s rather obvious you know,” he told me. “You’re leaving the room and so you need the key. Go look on my dresser. Better yet, follow me.” He reached out and grabbed my hand and headed into his room and I followed along wordlessly, mind racing.

This guy throws me totally off balance.

We found the key, right where he thought, and I couldn’t even begin to think of how it got there, because I’m the one who opened the door last night. Another mystery...

I stopped fretting about it when Adam wrapped his arms around me for a lovely hug, warm and oh so exciting. But I decided I had better get out of here, so I started to pull away.

“Not yet,” Adam said, bending his head to kiss me.

Our mouths were becoming well acquainted with one anothers and immediately melted into a heated kiss, tongues swirling and searching each others mouths, lips clinging enticingly and hotly together.

For the record, let me say that I could kiss this man forever. But we were both getting a little too excited and I knew, although he wouldn’t admit it, that he is not up for anything more than this right now. I grudgingly pulled my mouth off of his and rested my forehead against his chest for a moment, trying to catch my breath and pull myself together.

“Lie down, get some rest. Believe me when I say this that I want you to get to feeling better—SOON!”

I pulled away from him then and quickly headed out the door, not looking back!

I went downstairs to the internet café and grabbed an empty computer. That wasn’t really hard because there was only one other person in there. It’s funny the kinds of people you find in internet cafes. When they first started appearing a few years ago, you found mostly young kids, already computer geeks, playing games and carrying on IM conversations. I looked at the other occupant of the room and smiled at her when she looked up. She appeared to be in her 60’s, stylishly dressed, including pearls in the mid-afternoon.

It amazed me how computers or maybe even more specifically,internet technology has changed our world; made it seem smaller and more accessible to people. Even my parents, now in their 70’s had e-mail and my mom loved playing games on the computer. When they first got their computer 10 years ago, I showed them how to change their screensaver and fonts. They thought it was big magic! I wonder if I’ll have to do the same for Adam. That made me laugh, imagining him sitting in front of a key board, impatiently picking out one key at a time!

I typed in the URL address for my e-mail server and got hooked up to my e-mail. I had a dozen or so e-mails, but half of them were junk or advertisements. Okay, on second thought, maybe the internet is not such a good thing!

I had one e-mail each from my parents, daughter and son. Nothing much going on they said, just wondering if I was having a good time. It’s amazing how they all took it for granted that I would find somewhere to check my e-mail. I answered them all, told them all about my trip, except for Adam. I’m not sure why I didn’t mention him, except that, I just couldn’t try to explain to them in e-mail, you know? Maybe, after the trip, if we decide to try to have a real relationship, well, then I‘ll have to tell them of course.

Who am I kidding about a real relationship? I already regard it as a real relationship. It doesn’t get any more real than sitting in a hospital emergency room feeling scared to death that someone isn’t alright. But I guess I regard it as temporary; that I will go home and life would be normal again, no romantic interludes, no Adam. No more waking up with him, sharing these exquisite kisses that set me on fire, no more looking into each others eyes and knowing how much we want each other, even though we’re nervous about taking that step. No more—maybe falling in love with Adam?

No Adam. Could I deal with that? I think I’ll have to.

I also had an e-mail from Cassie. She wanted to know if I’d needed a lifeguard!

"Into any deep water yet Sarah? Go ahead and give it a try!”

I laughed when I read that, I can’t help it. Cassie has such a good heart and is the best friend anyone could ever have. Everyone should have a Cassie in their life. I decided to tease her a bit, my only answer to her was

“What do you think? By the way, I’m in Pisa now.”

And then there was the e-mail that I didn’t know how to reply to. It was from Jason. Although we have been apart for 2 years now and he lives in another state, we do stay in contact. He has come back home several times to visit family and I have to admit, we’ve had ‘ex-sex’. It’s easy to do that, we have history and it’s comfortable and satisfying. We have contemplated trying again, but we both know it won’t do any good and would only cause us both more pain. Cassie and other friends keep urging me to cut off communications completely, but I just can’t seem to do that. I wish him well and want him to be happy, to find someone to share his life with. When I was with him, I withheld myself all the time and stayed so focused on not losing myself that I hated myself. I can’t go back there again. I have let him go and it needed to stay that way. But his e-mail brought up other issues.

“My mom is having surgery right after Thanksgiving so I’ll be home for awhile, helping her and my dad. I want to see you Sarah. We’ve both taken time to get our heads together and try to figure things out. I would like us to talk about building a future together. Neither of us has really moved on, and maybe the reason for that is because we are supposed to be together. Please think about it.”
My head was spinning after reading this. I didn’t have a clue what to say, but I did know one thing—even if I hadn’t met Adam, I still wouldn’t get back together with him. And this in not a discussion I want to have via e-mail or by phone from Italy. I closed the e-mail out without answering it and decided it would wait until I got home.

I logged off my e-mail site and left the internet café to go in search of something to feed Adam. I had been gone about 45 minutes and I’m sure he was starving by now! Seriously, that man can eat and he is still as lean as can be. I wonder how he does it; maybe he works out a lot. I had a hot and steamy mini fantasy for a moment starring Adam, in tiny, tight little spandex shorts, and wearing nothing but sweat on his chest.

I had a huge smile plastered on my face as I got to the front desk and asked about getting some sandwiches. I knew exactly what I wanted—another one of those treats I have waited 20 years for. They were glad to help me and told me lunch would be delivered in about 15 minutes. I smiled and thanked them and then headed back up to the room.

I found Adam sleeping peacefully and I was undecided about whether to wake him for lunch or not. I decided to let him sleep for now and wrote some postcards I had picked up downstairs. They were beautiful pictures of the hotel and the Tower of Pisa. I couldn’t help but shiver as I stared at those pictures, remembering Adam getting hurt there and I knew I would carry that fear around with me a long time.

I finished the cards and since lunch still wasn’t here, I went out onto the balcony for a few minutes. Other than the tower in the distance, I can’t say the view was spectacular as it looked out on mostly residential areas, with the downtown area just barely in view to the far right. But it was Italy and there was a whole different level of excitement to it. I had forgotten so many things about this lovely country; the small roads that wouldn’t hold an American SUV, or not seeing towering buildings downtown. In order to build those buildings, they would have to tear down the old historic ones and the Italians cherish those. Besides, there is nowhere to park anyway because when the buildings were built the primary method of transportation was a horse and horses don’t take up much space, to ride or park. This is not a throw-away society such as America has become. Don’t get me wrong, I love America and after having actually lived somewhere else for 3 years I certainly appreciate it more than ever, but we Americans take many things for granted such as space. Europeans don’t have that advantage, so they reuse, recycle and appreciate the beauty of 500 year old buildings to a level Americans haven’t reached yet.

I sighed as I looked out at the view spread out before me and tried to remember everything; lock it away in my mind and heart so I could always find this place.

I heard a knock on the door and went to answer it. It was our lunch and I was eager to eat. Not because I was starving really, but I had chosen something that I have missed—just like the pizza the other night. My mouth was watering in anticipation.

I tipped the young man who had brought the tray up and thanked him as he left. Adam had heard the knock on the door and came wandering out to see what was going on. His face had a bit of color in it for the first time, which made me happy. He told me he felt better and that the headache was down to a dull throb, instead of the stabbing pain it had been all morning.

“So, what’s for lunch?” he asked eagerly.

“Mozzarella and tomato sandwiches with mayonnaise on crusty Italian bread!” I answered, setting things out on the table. “Oh, and Arancionchata!"

His eyebrows rose at that. “Orange pop?” he asked. But I saw a smile lurking at the corners of his eyes and I went over and kissed him, just because he makes me so happy, incredibly happy.

We sat down to eat and I excitedly took my first bite of the sandwich. It tasted like heaven; there was no other way to describe it. Real Italian bread, or pane, isn’t really like what I find in my local stores back home. The crust is very hard, in a crisp sort of way and the inside is the texture of a cotton ball. It is lovely and delicious! It isn’t in a loaf either, but comes in small pieces, like different shaped rolls.

Let me also explain a little bit about real, Italian mozzarella. It is completely different from the cheese that Americans grate and spread liberally on pizza and lasagna. Italian mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk, and it is very soft and creamy. Not like cream cheese really, it has a bit more texture, and it isn’t waxy at all. It is made fresh daily and sold in stores and when you ask for it, they dig a hunk out of a big vat of milk. Paired with fresh Italian tomatoes on Italian bread, or ‘pane’ it makes a wonderful sandwich. Not a bad salad either. Sometimes they throw a little fresh basil on it, and that is delicious too.

I sat there slowly chewing and savoring the flavor and looked up to find Adam watching me. I immediately wiped at my mouth with my fingers and he laughed and handed me my napkin. “Good?” he asked.

“Definitely!” I nodded, taking a drink of my Arancionchata. “Um, wonderful.”

I took another sip of the Arancionchata, smiling at the memories it brought. My kids had been very young when we were here and loved it. It is technically orange pop, I mean it’s fizzy and all, but it isn’t bright orange like Orange Crush or Sunkist. And it tastes different too, not quite as intensely orange, if that makes any sense.

After eating the sandwiches and drinking the Arancionchata, Adam asked if there were anything else. I looked at him in amazement. I think he believes I’m starving him! There had been 4 sandwiches total and I only ate one, but they were pretty small, so I guess he didn’t feel satisfied. I shook my head in wonder.

“Still hungry, huh?”

“Well, it wasn’t really very much, you know,” he said. He was smiling, but he seemed a bit grumpy.

“Adam, it’s almost 3 o’clock, it’ll be dinner time before you know it. I didn’t want to eat a huge meal because it’s so late. Would you like me to order something else up?”

“No,” he said. “How shall we spend the rest of the afternoon?” He leaned back in his chair and winked at me suggestively.

Okay, I’ve been feeling pretty safe all day that we weren’t going to get to that yet. Truthfully, I was ready, more than ready to make love with him. I wanted him badly, but the last thing I wanted was to cause him to get a headache or something else happening so that we couldn’t make the trip to Firenza tomorrow. I was really looking forward to that, and I actually have sort of a ‘seduction scenario’ planned in my head! Maybe a nice long bath or shower together, slippery skin and lots and lots of contact. Sounds great, right?

I looked at him and saw that he was definitely feeling the urge. Those intensely chocolate colored eyes of his are a dead giveaway.

I licked my lips nervously, trying to think. It’s really NOT because I’m not ready, I’m just still worried about him. So, I guess if he gets through the afternoon and evening feeling fine, that means by this time tomorrow, we’ll be satisfied, happy people—I hope!

I looked at him and see that he was waiting for an answer from me, playing with his silverware. I’ve noticed he fidgets a lot when he is unsure of something or nervous. All I can think about that is to wonder why on earth HE is nervous—he’s the rich, handsome movie star. But he is a person too, with all the inherent insecurities that we all carry around with us. He is tender, caring and thoughtful, always mindful of my feelings. I’ve noticed when other people are around, he is Adam Richland, the personality, like today with the policia. But around me, he is just a guy. And I like that guy very, very much!

“Okay, besides the obvious, what do you feel like doing?” I ask him.

Adam suddenly shifted forward in his chair and put his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hands. “The obvious?” he questions. “Why don’t you tell me more about the obvious, can you describe it for me?”

I realized that I was on very dangerous ground here. I always thought that I was a pretty good flirt, but he has me beat. I can’t even begin to match the intensity in his eyes, the facial expressions that scream ‘I want to kiss your mouth’ or any of the other dozen things I think I’ve seen. And I have realized these are part of Adam the man, not Adam the actor.

“Well yes, you know, getting you back into bed so you can rest a bit more. I think that’s the obvious thing don’t you,” I asked as innocently as I possibly could, and give a try at fluttering my eyelashes at him. Okay, this feels weird!

Adam laughed and straightened up in his chair and said, “Point!” marking the air with his finger.

We both laughed and Adam said, “I do feel like getting out of here for a bit, I feel as if I’m going a bit stir crazy.”

“Adam, are you sure you feel up to that? It’s very bright out there and the light was bothering you earlier.”

“I’ve got some sunglasses with me, I’ll use them. We’ll take it easy, I just want to get some air and maybe walk a bit,” he promised me.

I decided it would probably be good for both of us and grabbed my purse. We went out, shutting the door behind us, and my hand unconsciously strayed to my back pocket where I had put the key; it was thankfully still there.

We decided to walk, rather than drive. The downtown area was close and there was a lot to see there and we felt like intrepid explorers, ready to eagerly find our way!

Our walk soon brought us to Corso Italia and we followed it until we got to the end of it at Lungarno which is the river walk. The Arno is a beautiful river, wide and placid, as it gently flows to the Tyrrhenian Sea. We could see the tower to the west, so we decided to head to the east, past some beautiful buildings. One to them had a sign that said that Byron Shelley, the poet had lived there. Right after that we found the Giardino Scotto, which is a park. The park walls are actually a part of the palace of the Medici family and used to be where their gardens were. The Medici family had their summer residence in Pisa. A little farther on we passed into the older part of the city, the medieval area.

We explored there for awhile and finally found ourselves on Piazza Garibaldi and found an enticing pasticcieria, a pastry shop where we sat on the sidewalk and we tried several delicious treats before resuming our walk. Right by the pasticcieria we found Galileo’s house. We couldn’t get in to see it, and I would have loved to. Everywhere we walked though we spotted colorful flowers, growing wild and in pots, on the street and on terraces. Pisa was enchanting.

Adam was beginning to get tired and also a bit pale again. We found a lovely little trattoria, a small café really and decided to stop and have dinner. It was almost 7 o’clock and we wanted to get back to the hotel and get to bed early so we would be rested for the trip to Firenza tomorrow.

The trattoria was one of those small, family run places like the one we ate at in Venezia. I ordered hot tea since you can't find iced tea in Italy. Adam knew he he wasn't up for wine yet, so he ordered water. Although I’m not a big fan of hot tea, it was pretty good. Adam commented that he much preferred iced tea, and laughed as he told me that was because of all the time he spends in the states. He also told me he had given it up recently since he thought it was making him jittery. I laughed and asked him how much he had been drinking and he said, "Too much!"

The food however more than made up for the lack of wine. We started with minestrone soup, savory vegetables in an herb and tomato base. We sipped it slowly and a chatted about everything we had saw that day.

When I had visited Pisa before, we only went to the tower and so I hadn’t seen the area where we were today and neither had Adam. We both regretted not being able to see Galileo’s house, but the walk had been wonderful.

By the time we had finished our succulent pork that had been grilled with lemon and butter, the risotto, mixed salad and for dessert, chocolate ganache, we were stuffed. At least I was, I can’t speak for Adam. We complimented the senora and her husband on how wonderful their food was and walked out into the night. The moon was up and there was a slight chill in the air tonight so we decided to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Luckily taxis in a tourist town are plentiful, even if we were off the beaten tourist path and we got back to the hotel around 20 minutes later.

I could tell that Adam’s head was hurting again and I went and got him some more ibuprofen and handed it to him silently. He accepted it without complaint which kind of surprised me, but I took that as a sign that he really wasn’t feeling well. This was probably the closest he would come to admitting he felt bad.

After he took the ibuprofen he went over and turned the stereo on, and turned around and gave me a cheeky smile! He wasn’t going to let me forget playing with the buttons yesterday, I could tell. Hm, we’ll see how the technology geek is when I get him on the computer, I thought!

He found a station that was playing some soft rock, Brian McKnight was singing Back at One. It was soothing and soft and sounded wonderful. I was sitting on the couch really wishing there was a coffee table or something to put my feet up on. My legs were curled up next to me on the couch since I had taken my shoes off and I was absentmindedly rubbing one of my feet when Adam came over and turned me around so that my feet were in his lap and started rubbing them.

Is this an awesome man or what?

I leaned my head back on the arm of the couch and just gave in to the pleasure of his hands, massaging my feet and arches, ankles and Whoa! Wait a minute here, I needed to put a stop to this now! I consider a good foot massage foreplay, and he was definitely hitting the spots. I pulled my feet away from his hands and regretted it for a moment, but I knew it was the best thing.

“Thank you Adam,” I told him softly. “That felt wonderful.”

“And yet you had me stop.” he answered. “Why?”

I looked at him for a minute, trying to figure out what to say. It was only 9 o’clock and I wondered how we would spend the rest of the evening. I didn’t want it to be a struggle over whether or not to make love. I decided to just talk to him about it, because I knew it was on both of our minds.

“Because I think it will go somewhere that we shouldn’t be going tonight,” I explained.

“Why?” he probed. “Are you not ready yet, I mean, um, I guess we haven’t been together that long, but it certainly seems like a long time.”

I nodded my head. “An eternity.”

“Then why?”

“Adam, I don’t think you are, I mean, you still have a headache, you can’t be feeling your best here. It’s not that I don’t think you can’t live up to either of our expectations, it’s that this is something we’ll only do this one time.”

At his astonished look I continued, "I mean, our first time together, it only happens once. I want us both to be, well... I just don’t want it to be rushed or anything. I want us to take our time, go slow, because I know it is going to be wonderful.” I was afraid of what I might see if I looked at him then, really looked. I didn’t want to hurt him or make him think I doubted him or lacked confidence in him.

And I saw him nodding his head, agreeing with me. “I guess I was afraid you might get the idea that I’m not this macho guy or something,” he said with a rueful laugh.

“No,” I shook my head. “Never.” I was shaking, I don’t know why exactly except that we are on the brink of something wonderful, a beginning. As impossible as it seems, he could be the guy I have waited for forever. That seems stupid to say, doesn’t it?

The truth is though that I have gone into few relationships thinking ‘this could be the one’. I am more skeptical than that. I always just assume it won’t make it, that I’m just treading water. And now here is someone who could be different, so I’m not even sure how to handle it all. Let’s face it—I have never had a relationship that lasted. If I had, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

I want this one to make it, to last. With all my heart, I want this!
He reached over and pulled me to him and just held me. I wrapped my arm around his waist and we sat like that for along time. Quiet, listening to each other breathe. I felt at peace in a way that was foreign to me, content, happy. I sighed and realized I was already picturing a life with Adam.

The Game of Love, by Santana came on the radio then and I listened to the lyrics:

“Tell me
Just what you want me to be
One kiss
And boom
You're the only one for me”
That song says it all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Day In Pisa

Chapter Thirteen

I woke up for the second day in a row in Adam’s arms. A small smile played across my face for a moment before I opened my eyes. I hated to break the spell it was so warm and comfortable right where I was. This bed should have it’s own zip code it was so big, and I don’t think Adam and I together had used more than a tiny spot all night. We were still snuggled together, legs and arms intertwined, sharing the same pillow, our heads close to one another.

Yikes! The first thing I thought of was early morning breath! My eyes flew open and found Adam’s chocolate colored eyes 3 inches away and staring into mine. I started to bring my hand up to cover my mouth and before I could, his lips were on mine, warmly and tenderly moving across mine. Not too insistent, just sweet.

“Your breath is fine,” he said and I wondered how the hell he could always figure out what is going on in my mind. If I believed in psychics, I’d swear he was one, but that was nothing but hogwash.

“Is mine?” he questioned with a smile.


“My breath, is it okay?”

I only thought about it for a moment and realized it was. And thought, what a silly, human thing to be concerned with.

“Yes,” I answered. “Your breath is fine and I think we’re silly to be worrying about it!”

“But we are,” he pointed out.

“True. How do you feel this morning?”

“Right now I’m feeling fantastic,” he informed me and I realized for the first time how our whole bodies were nestled together, in very close proximity. He was rubbing up and down my backside, gently caressing the curve of my back and the soft swell of my hip. I also realized that we were both starting to get excited about that.

“Okay Romeo, no excitement, remember?” I joked, scooting across the bed to the edge. It would have been quicker to go over him, but I didn’t think that was a safe choice at all.

I opened the blinds and stood at the windows looking out at the bright Italian sunshine. It was a beautiful day and I felt wonderful. I looked back at the bed and Adam and felt glad that he was feeling better.

He was staring very intently at me, and then grinned at me when I gave him a puzzled look. I frowned and followed his gaze downward and realized the morning sunshine was filtering through my thin night gown and he could see every single detail of my body. Well, practically every detail. For half a moment I was outraged at his cheekiness, but then I just laughed. I hoped the memory drove him crazy today!

He rolled over onto his back and cautiously put his hands behind his head. God, he looked sexy, laying there in bed, sheets bunched around his hips, his chest bare. I realized that I could see a few details of my own and I was enjoying the sight when he laughed and patted the bed beside him in invitation.

“Not on your life!” I exclaimed, heading to the bathroom in order to escape temptation. After I had taken care of business and brushed my teeth I wandered back into his bedroom and saw him sitting carefully on the edge of the bed. His head was bowed down and I could see immediately that his head was still bothering him.

I sat down next to him and put my arm around him. “Hey, it’s still hurting, isn’t it?” I asked

“Yes, more than I would like,” he stated, reaching for his robe which I had left on the floor when I took it off of him last night.

“I’ll get it,” I told him, bending over to grab it. I put it around his shoulders and he shrugged into the arms and stood up, wraping it around him and tying it about his waist. No peek for me!

He got up slowly and then made his own trip to the bathroom. While he was in there I went out to the living room and opened the blinds to let the sunshine in. I wished we had brought the CD’s up from the car so I could have music on. I could live the rest of my life without ever seeing TV again, but I can’t hardly live a day without music. I listen to all genres because I enjoy variety, that’s why seeing Adam’s collection pleased me so much—he had diverse tastes as well.

I turned the stereo on, ignoring the equalizer and started pressing the tuner button to listen to the different station selections. Italians seem to be very fond of techno-pop and I found a lot of stations playing that, however I don’t care for that myself and I had a feeling Adam didn’t either. I finally ran across a station playing some older rock, which would do I decided.

Adam came in, still clad in his robe and sat down stiffly on the couch. Just the little bit of moving around had brought his headache back full tilt and I asked him if he wanted more ibuprofen.

“Yes,” he answered, “but I think I probably should eat something first.”

“Alright, I think they left us a menu last night. What would you like?” I asked after he had looked at the menu for a moment.

“It’s almost 10:00,” he told me. I couldn’t believe we had slept so late! “I hope they are still preparing breakfast.” Personally, I thought that they would probably prepare whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it, but I didn’t say that. The rich, movie star thing again. Adam seemed oblivious to it, but it seemed to be the general reaction most people had to him, or probably anyone in his situation.

“I’d like an omelet and pancetta, coffee and cream, lots of coffee actually,” he decided.

“Okay, I’ll call them and order.”

Adam lay back on the couch and closed his eyes. The music was playing softly in the background. I asked him if the room was too bright and he said it might help if the blinds were lowered a bit, but not all the way.

“After all, I won’t be able to see anything when you stand in front of the windows if you lower them completely,” he joked halfheartedly.

Since I had put my robe on when I came out of the bathroom I didn’t worry about that. But when they brought our breakfast, they might have seen more than I would have liked, so I was glad he had mentioned it.

I went over and sat carefully on the edge of the couch and lightly stroked Adam’s face, which was slightly bristly since he hadn’t shaved, but it looked good on him. He smiled faintly and relaxed a bit, then caught my hand and kissed it. I bent over and lightly kissed his lips and he hugged me to him for a moment. I sighed with the pleasure of just being with him, it felt so good.

I pulled myself away from him and left him to rest until breakfast arrived. I went into my bedroom, which felt weird since I hadn’t slept there. I hunted through my suitcase looking for something to wear today. I decided that after breakfast I was going to try out the tub. I found my body wash and toiletries and decided to wash my hair too. I looked pensively through the clothes I’d brought, hunting for something different. But it was the same old stuff in there. Not that it was bad stuff, but when I’d packed I had no idea I would meet a movie star and travel across Italy with him! I laughed ruefully thinking that even at home I didn’t have a wardrobe to fit that!

I finally settled on a pair of deep plum colored corduroys and a top that had a camisole in the same shade of plum and a sheer over-blouse with shades of plum, browns and creams. It looked great on me and I hoped that Adam would think so too.

I heard a knock on the door and I went to get it, self-consciously making sure my robe was closed and tightly belted. Adam was sitting up on the couch as I let them in and I asked them to set the breakfast up on the table.

After they had gone, Adam came over and sat down at the table and I lifted the lids off the covered dishes. It looked wonderful and smelled even better. My mouth was watering as I looked a dish of beautiful fruit; melon and berries, mangoes and banana, cut into small pieces. It looked fresh and tasty and I couldn’t wait to dig in!

I asked Adam what he would like and he characteristically stated “ALL of it.” I didn’t think he could be feeling too badly if he was hungry. I put a roll on his plate with his omelet and pancetta and then gave him a bowl of fruit. He cut into his omelet as I poured his coffee and he sighed appreciatively at the taste of the omelet which was stuffed with mushrooms and cheese. He cut a piece of pancetta and popped it into his mouth, chewing it with a look of bliss on his face.

I didn’t think I could do my breakfast nearly as much justice as he was doing his, but nonetheless I decided to try. He was right, it was wonderful and I enjoyed every single bite!

Two cups of creamy coffee later, I was ready to roll away from the table. I told Adam that I was going for a swim in the tub and he said he thought he would lay down for awhile. I got him the ibuprofen and called the desk so they would come and get the dishes.

“Adam, I need to look at your head. They said to change the bandages everyday,” I told him, getting the supplies they had given us at the hospital. He had been pretty lucky they had told us because of where the wound was, they hadn’t had to shave too much of his hair off. Longer hair above it covered it pretty well, except for a little bit of the bandage that showed. I carefully removed the bandage they had put on it at the hospital, afraid I’d hurt him, but it came off easily. The stitches looked good, no redness or irritation; the cut was dry and seemed to be mending. I put some antibiotic ointment on it and put a new bandage on it. I bent down and gently kissed his head and was thankful for the hundredth time that he was okay.

They still hadn’t come to get the dishes and Adam said he would wait for them before lying down again, so I went off to the bathroom and started the water running in the tub and added some bubble bath. The fragrant smells of vanilla and jasmine were filling the bathroom and the mirrors were soon steaming over.

I checked on Adam one final time before immersing myself in the wonderful water. They had come to remove the dishes and he was just getting ready to lie down. I hugged him for a minute, and then turned to go into the bathroom.

“Do you need any help?” he inquired, a classic villain's leer on his face. I could see him in some melodrama, raising his eyebrows and twisting his mustache.

I laughed and told him no and that he had better behave himself then escaped into the misty bathroom and sank down into the water with a sigh. It was warm and I shivered at the pleasure I felt in the simple joy of sitting in the water, playing with the bubbles and feeling the water swirl about me when I moved. I decided to shave my legs while I was at it and realized I had forgotten to grab my razor. I got out of the tub and felt the cool air that caused goose bumps to rise all over my body, but I didn’t bother to grab a towel as I padded into my room to grab a razor and then scooted back into the warmth of the tub.

After I had shaved my legs I dunked down into the water to wet my hair, and then I lay back in the tub and closed my eyes, listening to the quiet and thinking over the past few days.

I really hadn’t had much time to reflect on everything that had happened since I met Adam, and as I thought about it, it was remarkable to me. How many people at home would think I was making it all up I wondered? More than a few I bet. Hell, it’s happening to me and I barely believed it! It has been almost... magical, I thought. Yeah, Cinderella and the Prince.

My thoughts traveled back to last night and our experience at the tower. It was more terrifying now than last night when it was happening. I guess because so much was going on it really hadn’t sunk in last night. Fear for Adam and I and the close-call we had suddenly surfaced and I remembered the smell that had puzzled me but I came no closer to remembering where I had smelled it before. The truth is, it probably didn’t even have anything to do with what happened anyway.

I decided to shake it all off and finish my bath. I slid back down to wet my hair again and then generously massaged the shampoo in, taking my time. There was a pull-out hand held shower head and I turned the water on and carefully rinsed my head and then worked in some conditioner and let it set for a few minutes.

I hadn’t heard a sound from Adam, and I assumed he must still be sleeping. He made me feel so alive and I have never been more aware of my body than with him. I was tempted to let my hands wander over my body, but I recognized that wasn’t what I wanted or needed, so I just rinsed my hair one last time, pulled the lever to let the water out and climbed reluctantly out of the tub.

I used a small towel to wipe the steam from the mirrors and wrapped another around my hair and wound a huge bath sheet around me. The towels were thick and luxurious and I reveled in the softness of them. I went and peeked into Adams room and he was lying on the bed on his side facing the bathroom. His eyes opened even though I had tried to be extremely quiet.

“Did you enjoy your bath?” he asked quietly, smiling at me draped in towels.

“Yes, it was lovely,” I told him, unconsciously checking to make sure the towel was tucked securely around me. “How do you feel?”

“Um, I think I’m ready to take a shower, if you’ve left me any hot water that is!” he laughed.

“Maybe a drop or two,” I retorted as I turned to head to my room to get dressed.

“I think I need your help with my shower,” he tried hopefully.

“I think you are out of luck there fella. You are definitely on your own!” I waved as I left the room.

I heard him in the shower as I was getting dressed. I dried my hair and left it down and I decided not to put on any makeup. He’d seen me all morning without it and it apparently hadn’t bothered him too much. I did stop to put on some lip conditioner—after all, I want soft lips for those lovely kisses!

Adam was just finishing getting dressed when someone knocked on the door. I opened it to find the Pisa policia here to inquire about Adam and to ask more questions. I sighed resignedly, knowing I didn’t really have anything else to add, but deciding to help all I could.

I asked them to please sit down and said I would get Adam. I knocked on his door and told him the policia were here and he told me he would be out directly, which I reported to the officers. I also asked them if they would like some coffee and they politely refused. We waited a few more impatient minutes for Adam making small talk about my visit to Italy. When Adam came into the room, I realized immediately that I was looking at Adam the actor. I knew that posture and attitude and I wondered what was up.

The officers stood up when he came around the couch and allowed him to take a seat and I sat next to him. They introduced themselves, which I appreciated because they were different policia than the ones from last night. Detective Della Torre and officer Ansigiana brought over the chairs from the dining table and sat down and detective Della Torre opened a pad and prepared to take notes.

There was another knock on the door. Adam and I looked at one another and frowned slightly. He started to rise, but I put my hand on his leg to stop him and told him I would get it. It was housekeeping, coming to make up the beds. I decided now was as good of a time as any and I had her come on it. She went immediately to the bedrooms ignoring our guests and I heard her faintly, messing with bedding and such.

We discussed the event again and they read the notes from last night, not only from us, but from the other people who saw the incident.

“Mr. Richland,” detective Della Torre asked Adam, “Can you describe the assailant for us please?” He looked exactly like what you picture a detective should look like, tall and thin, with graying hair, very distinguished; he appeared stern and very matter-of-fact. I supposed that helped to instill confidence in him.

“Assailant?” Adam asked, frowning. “When did this person become an assailant?”

“Mr. Richland, the person did not stop, even when called to do so. If it had been a genuine accident, certainly they would have stopped to assure themselves of your welfare,” officer Ansigiana said. He spoke English well and I was glad of that because this could go really badly if we had trouble understanding each other.

“I understand you concern, however I believe it was a simple accident, probably a youth judging from the way they were dressed. They might not even have realized what happened,” Adam finished.

“I find that answer unbelievable you must understand,” detective Della Torre stated. His English wasn’t as good as officer Ansigiana’s and his accent was thicker and harder to understand. "There was much, how do you say, commotion?” At our nods, he continued, “Yes commotion and people yelling. I do not think it plausible that they did not know that something had happened.”

“I still find no reason to believe it was deliberate,” Adam insisted.

“Yes, Mr. Richland, I understand that.” Focusing their attention on me, detective Della Torre asked “Ms. Marcus, do you believe it was an accident?” The way he pronounced Ms. sounded like ‘me-zza’, which made me smile.

“I don’t see how it could have been anything other than someone being careless. Anything else would have required planning and attention, and no one knew we were going there, we didn’t even know. It was spur of the moment, our decision,” I assured him.

“Forgive me Ms. Marcus, but this is Pisa. Everyone goes there.”

“I’ll admit that is probably true, but still, it seems far-fetched that someone could have or would have planned this,” I repeated.

“Yes. Is there anything else you can think of that might help us?” officer Ansigiana asked.

Adam and I looked at each other and shook our heads, not remembering anything. And then I remembered the smell and I told them about it.

“Where were you when you smelled it?” they asked.

“It was where Adam fell at, by the arch on the second floor.”

“Was the odor strong, did it linger so that it could possibly have been on someone who was helping?” Della Torre asked me, pausing in writing his notes to look at me. Officer Della Torre was an extremely good looking man, but looked more Swiss or German rather than Italian with his blond hair and blue eyes. But he had deep grooves across his forehead, whether from worry or frowning I didn’t know and they kept him from looking friendly. Together, the two of them were very aloof, and truthfully, I couldn’t wait until they were gone.

“No, it didn’t linger. In fact it was so brief I could very well have imagined it. I smelled it when I knelt down to help Adam. It could have blown in from outside for all I know,” I told them, a slight frown on my face as I tried to remember more about it, but failing. I shook my head and finished, "No, it only lasted for a moment.”

The maid came out of the bedrooms then and asked if we needed anything else. We told her no and she stood there for a moment, staring and smiling at Adam. I sighed and decided I was going to have to get used to the reaction of people to him. She left then, closing the door quietly behind her.

Officer Ansigiana and detective Della Torre stood up and prepared to leave as well. “Very well then, if you have no other information for us, we will leave now,” officer Ansigiana told us. “Oh, how much longer will you be in Pisa Mr. Richland?”

“We leave for Firenza tomorrow.”

They looked at each other and detective Della Torre asked, “How long will you be there? Might we have the name of your hotel, in case we should need to contact you again?”

“We’ll be staying 3 days at Hotel Dei Fiori Bei. Do you anticipate needing to speak with us again detective?” Adam asked.

“I am certain we will not Mr. Richland, but just in case, we needed the address for our records. We hope you have a very enjoyable stay in Italy and are sorry about this unfortunate incident. Good day Ms. Marcus and Mr. Richland.”

I nodded to them and frankly, I was glad they were leaving.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Moonlight and Madness

Chapter Twelve

I headed into the bedroom on the left where the bell hop had placed my bags. The room was beautiful—the walls were done in pale butterscotch and the accents in the room were creamy yellows, including the duvet cover and coverings on the chaise lounge, chairs and drapes. The carpet was a warmer shade of butterscotch which matched the colors in the fabrics hung over the canopied bed that also had deep golds, umber and oranges. There was a dressing table and an armoire to complete the furnishings. I opened a door on the right that went into the bathroom which was done in the same colors; the huge walk-up tub and fixtures were a pale lemony yellow and the floor and counter top was a creamy marble. I could easily see myself diving into that wonderful tub and sitting up to my nose in warm water and fragrant bubbles. Separate from the tub was a large glass-walled shower enclosure. All the faucets and hardware in the bathroom were gold-toned and it made the room look opulent and lavish. There was a door opening off the opposite side of the room, which must connect to Adams room I decided.

I wandered out to the living area to check it out. To the right were double glass doors leading out to a wide and spacious balcony. In front of that was a small, cozy dining table and two chairs. To my left a beautiful marble fireplace ran along the back wall and a comfortable looking couch sat in front of it. I walked over there to look at the attractive Persian carpet in rich, warm earth tones. It was thick and lovely and I imagined it would feel good to my bare feet, or maybe bare other things! To one side of the fireplace was a cabinet that yielded a TV and some type of stereo system.

I pushed something that looked like an on/off button and was rewarded with soft, muted music, a piece by Rachmaninoff, the Rhapsody I believe. There were lots of other buttons on it and I also discovered a CD player, which I thought was great. I was playing with the equalizer when Adam walked into the room.

“Found a stereo I see,” he told me frowning at something that sounded like monkey screeches. He checked it out and changed the equalizer back to something that human ears could appreciate.

“Yes,” I told him excitedly, “and it has a CD player too!”

“Um hm, so I see.”

“Hey, it’s only a little after 5 o’clock! Let’s go see the tower,” I suggested.

“Okay,” he nodded in agreement. “Do you have a camera with you?”

‘Thanks for reminding me. I’ll get it then we can go.” I went to my room and dug around in my carry on luggage for the camera and checked to make sure I had plenty of film with it. I headed back out to the living room where Adam was waiting by the door. We went downstairs to request the car be brought around and also to get directions to the tower.

The desk clerk told us that the tower was actually very close and that we could see it from the balcony of our room. While Adam was getting the directions I wandered around the lobby area and found an internet café. I was standing there looking in at the few people who were there when Adam found me.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“An internet café. Cool, huh?”

“You mean surfing the net and e-mail and such?” he asked, looking in at the room. “I suppose you are one of those computer savvy people who spend endless hours on-line?”

“Don’t know how to use internet or e-mail, huh?” I teased.

He was saved from answering by the announcement that our car was out front, so we went off in search of the tower.

The clerk was right, it was easy to find the tower, and it wasn’t far at all. We parked across from the baptistry and walked the short distance to the tower. It was magnificent against the evening sun that was sliding into a colorful sunset. But there was still plenty of light for us to explore the tower. It is about 830 years old and after being restored a few years ago, it looks almost new, well, sort of anyway!

I half-dragged Adam toward the tower and said, “C’mon, lets go climb the stairs to the top!”

“How many are there?” he asked, looking up dubiously at the 11 story tower. We walked into the interior of the tower to see the steps, winding around the inside, with stops at each floor that led to a gallery walkway around the outside of the tower. Every few feet there was an arch way that you could look out of on the gallery.

“It’s only 294 steps to the top,” I said enthusiastically, pulling on his hand. “Let’s go!”

Adam’s face blanched as he stared up at the stairs, his head cocked at an angle taking them all in. “You’re sure?” he asked. “That’s a long way up there, I mean if you’ve been in one 11 story building, you’ve been in them all, I always say.”

“Listen, I promise if you pass out along the way, I’ll give you mouth-to-mouth!” I giggled.

“It’s a deal,” he said, but he still sounded reluctant. He followed me up, winding around and around. About half way up we were both completely out of breath and stopped to step out on one of the galleries to catch our breath. It’s strange walking up the stairs because your eyes tell you that you are going up, but the angle feels wrong because the tower is leaning down. It gives some people, including me a strange sense of vertigo and I asked Adam if he thought so too?

He raised an eyebrow and good-naturedly mumbled something about how anyone would know when you were this close to passing out from lack of air. I grinned impudently at him for a minute before he finally broke down and smiled at me.

We decided to resume the climb after we had rested for a few minutes and I was glad because the shadows were getting longer and I wanted to get to the top while it was still light out. And, I had no wish to climb down the stairs in the dark, not knowing if there were lights or not.

The view at the top was spectacular, and even Adam was glad we had made the climb. I snapped some pictures with the gorgeous colors of the sunset that provided a natural backdrop behind us and even got a college girl to take a couple of shots of Adam and I together. There was surprisingly a lot of people up there, but many of them were starting down and we decided to head down as well.

We took our time going down the steps. It’s more tiring for me to go down than up I found and going around and around this time seemed endless. For some reason it wasn’t nearly as fun as the trip up!

We were on the second floor, on the up side which had the opposite effect as the going down side, that is, your eyes tell you that you are going down, but it feels like going up when we heard quick footsteps behind us. We turned and saw someone racing down the stairs, heading straight for us scooting past other people who were farther behind us. The person was dressed in a navy blue hoodie and jeans, with the hoodie pulled close around their face, making it impossible to tell if it were a man or woman. Following the path of the person I decided that they were heading straight for me since I was closest to the outside of the steps and apparently directly in the way of this person who was in a terrible rush. Adam grabbed me around the waist at the last minute to pull me back towards the wall and when the person ran by, he was knocked backward. The back of his head hit the corner of the stone archway of the gallery. There was a dull sounding thump that made my stomach bile rise up. It was a horrible sound I thought as I screamed out Adams name. Adam lay against the wall and I bent down to kneel by him, asking him if he was okay and other people had rushed down to us and started yelling for help. A young man yelled out to the person who did this, but they didn’t stop, didn’t even look back.

I think Adam blacked out for a moment, but he finally opened his eyes and tried to focus on me. A lady who said she was a nurse gently leaned his head forward and winced at the wound on the back of his head. There was a gash on it about an inch long and a half inch or so deep and it was bleeding freely. A gentleman helped her get Adam into a sitting position, but when he sat up he was immediately dizzy. She had him bend over and rest his head between his up drawn knees and told him to breathe deeply, in through his nose and out through his mouth. Two policia were there by then, alerted by all the commotion and were trying to get the crowd to move along. Lights came on inside the tower and they checked Adam out along with the nurse.

It was decided that Adam had to have stitches and they called for the Italian version of EMS, who got there quickly. While they were examining Adam the policia asked me what I had seen. They had switched to English when they discovered I wasn’t following in their rapid Italian very well. They questioned me a great deal and they apparently would have liked to have more details, but I really couldn’t help them, it all happened so fast. Several of the other people there talked with them also, but no one had really gotten a good look at the person. Did I think it was accidental or on purpose they asked me? I couldn’t help but think that it must have been an accident. The policia pointed out that whoever it was hadn’t stopped, which seemed suspicious to them. They told me to think carefully of exactly what had happened and tell them what I remembered.

I gave them every detail I remembered which really wasn’t much. An ambulance came to take Adam to a hospital for stitches and while they were getting him settled, the policia called our hotel to make arrangements for someone to come and get the car so I could go to the hospital with Adam. I thought that was very nice and considerate of them, but I was also beginning to see that having money and being famous made things different.

As we were getting into the back of the ambulance I remembered something, but it seemed so trivial that I didn’t mention it to the policia. In fact it probably didn’t have anything to do with what happened. But I remembered smelling something, something that I had smelled before. Not exactly a perfume, but still kind of sweet. I shrugged my shoulders, I was sure it was nothing but my imagination or one of the people who were right there when it happened.

Adam held fast to my hand and I talked softly to him, trying not to show him how scared I was. His face was terribly pale except for small vivid red spots on his cheeks and his eyes shone brightly as well, too brightly really and I hoped he didn’t have a concussion.

The trip to the hospital was short and we didn’t have to wait long either. A couple of the nurses had recognized Adam and he got quick and very friendly treatment, although none of the nurses flirted with him or were anything but professional. He got a half a dozen stitches and an X-ray to make sure he didn’t have a concussion. After the doctor had reviewed the X-ray pictures he decided that Adam didn’t have a concussion and would be fine. I could take him back to the hotel, but no more sight-seeing, he needed to rest. And no traveling for the next 24 hours.

One of the hospital staff had called the hotel. They sent a car to pick us up and bring us back to the hotel. They were extremely kind and concerned that Adam should rest well and want for nothing. I told them that we would be staying another night and asked it that would be possible. I remember how difficult it was for Sunni to get us a room here to begin with. They assured me that it was fine for us to stay another night. I couldn’t help but wonder who lost a bed over that?

Adam was walking but was a bit wobbly and leaned on me a lot on the way up in the elevator. It felt wonderful to be able to help him. I knew he would be fine, but I felt guilty because he had been pulling me out of the way when he was bumped into. I thought about what had happened and I realized that had he not grabbed me around the waist and pulled me out of the way, I would have went over the side of the stairs! That thought made me shake, with fear and with anger at whomever was so careless.

Adam wanted to take a shower, which the doctor had said was fine, but not to get the stitches wet. They were the sort of stitches that dissolve on their own and they needed to stay dry for a few days. I had a shower cap with me which I got for him to use. Before taking his shower though he called Sunni on her cell to ask her to cancel the reservation for Tirennia tomorrow night. I heard his part of the conversation, almost absentmindedly as I was thinking about the accident.

After he asked her to cancel the reservations I heard him tell her there had been an accident and what had happened. He assured her several times that he was fine, but was just going to rest tomorrow. He told her that yes, we would be going on to Firenza the day after tomorrow as planned before he hung up the phone.

Adam headed into the shower after promising me he would call me if needed. I agreed reluctantly to leave him alone in there and wandered aimlessly around the hotel room before stepping out onto the balcony. The moon was full tonight, huge and heavy hanging low in the sky. You could see the tower from the balcony and I shivered as I looked at it, lit up and glowing in the night. It was hard to think about what had happened there only a few hours before. The phone in the living room started ringing and I went back in to answer it.

It was the front desk asking if we would like something for dinner since we had missed ours. I wasn’t terribly hungry, but I didn’t know about Adam, who always seemed to be hungry. I told them I would check with him and call them back.

I went into Adams room. I thought I would knock on the bathroom door to ask him about dinner, but I still heard the shower running, so I decided to wait until he shut it off. I looked around his room, taking it all in. This one was more masculine than mine but still very luxurious. It had the biggest bed I have ever seen, larger than any king size and it was up on a platform. It had thick and intricately carved posts at each of the four corners and a duvet in deep chocolate colored silk. The carpet was the same color as in my room, but this room was done in rich earth tones like the living room with bright touches of deep azure blue for accent. There was a large fireplace in this room as well. It was covered with bronze and copper colored stones with more of the blue for accent on it. Adam’s bag was sitting open on the bed. It looked like he had dug through it before he had gotten into the shower and it was tempting to take a peek into it, but I resisted!

I heard the shower shut off and I called out to him to find out if he was hungry. A moment later the bathroom door opened, letting billowy steam escape and I saw Adam standing there with the towel wrapped low around his hips. The thought ran frivolously through my mind that this might not have been one of my better ideas, standing here looking at him wearing nothing but a towel, but it was too late now. He looked magnificent—water was still running damply down his chest in small rivulets and his chest hair was plastered wetly to him. I admired him for a moment more, the lean muscles across his chest and arms and heat surged through my system, making my stomach turn somersaults and my knees feel weak. I turned away then, feeling my face flush with embarrassment.

I cleared my throat and said “the desk called up and wondered if we would like something sent up for dinner?” I asked him again. “Are you hungry Adam?”

I heard him come up behind me, then felt his arms wrap around me and he laid his head against mine. “Why are you embarrassed?” he said softly.

I was trembling, my head and body awash with desire. He felt wonderful against me, even while he was still wet. I wrapped my arms around his and hugged him. I enjoyed this gentle embrace for a moment more before answering, trying to think of what to say.

Before I could speak he turned me around to face him, still holding me. I wound my arms around his waist and nestled my head against his still damp chest.

“Sarah, it’s alright,” he began slowly. “I feel the same things as you do, please don’t feel embarrassed by your feelings or desire. We both feel it you know.”

I nodded and I felt warm tears sliding wetly down my face. Maybe they were from all that had happened this evening and maybe they were because of my feelings for this tender and amazing man, I didn’t know for sure, I only knew that I was so thankful that he was here with me, safe and sound.

Adams hand moved to caress my face for a moment and in that way he has, he put his fingers under my chin and tilted my face up to his. He immediately saw my tears and bent and slowly kissed them away. Of course, they started flowing more freely then, which is silly, but I couldn’t seem to stop them. I stood there looking up at him and he didn’t flinch away from my feelings as some men had in the past. He gazed intently into my eyes and I searched his as well, trying to read what was in them. For the first time, it didn’t feel wrong to let a man see me cry. I had usually hidden this vulnerable side of myself from men, seldom really giving them a chance to understand who I really was. But it was different with Adam, and I felt more hopeful than I ever had about a relationship before.

I had to stop it though before I got carried away with it and glanced around the room looking for a box of tissues. I sort of hiccuped and laughed at the same time and told him what I was looking for. I went into the bathroom on the search and finally ended up with a handful of toilet tissue, wiping the tears away, and feeling regretful about it, I blew my nose. That’s something you hate to do in front of a man when you are trying to make a good impression!

“Okay then,” he said, “how about some dinner? I am a bit hungry so shall I call the desk?”

“No, I’ll do it. What do you feel like?”

“Um, maybe something light, not too heavy. And unfortunately, no wine. I think it must surely be a crime to have dinner in Italy with no wine, don’t you?” he said in an attempt to lighten my mood a bit.

“Probably, but hopefully they won’t send the policia because we’ve seen all of the policia tonight that we need to.” As soon as I said that I regretted it, it was just a reminder of this evening, which we were trying to forget.

I called the front desk to inquire what we might get sent up and I decided on a seafood stew and Toscana bread, which is a coarse bread that goes wonderfully with soups and stews. They were also sending crème caramel for dessert, which sounded wonderful, as well as bottled water. I’m sure this last request must have startled them, but they said nothing about it. Adam changed into his robe while we waited on the food and I hopped into the shower quickly. I dressed in a gown and robe and decided that if the staff hadn’t seen a guest dressed like this before I’d be surprised.

The food arrived shortly and it was still warm outside so I had them move the table onto the balcony so we could try to enjoy the remainder of the evening. They lit candles for us and it was all very beautiful.

We both gazed at the tower in the distance, but didn’t comment on it. The moon was now hanging over the tower in its journey across the night sky. The evening was beautiful, and we enjoyed our meal enormously. The stew was fabulous and Adam was as excited as a kid with the dessert.

When we were finished I called the desk to have them remove the dishes. I could get used to this I decided with pleasure. They came quickly and soon we were alone again in the suite. I noticed that Adam’s face had again become pale and pinched looking and that he winced when he moved his head.

“Are you okay Adam?” I asked, concerned about him.

“Yes, but the stitches are starting to hurt, the Novocain is wearing off I guess, and I’ve a bit of a headache.”

I frowned, remembering that they hadn’t given him anything for pain. They had said however that he could take an analgesic. I had some ibuprofen with me and asked if he’d like some.

He nodded his head yes and I went and got the bottle and gave him two tablets. He swallowed them gratefully with some water. He looked tired and I knew we needed to get him into bed quickly.

I turned the lights in the living room off and took his hand and led him into his bedroom where I pulled down the covers on the bed.

“C’mon Adam, into bed you go,” I told him, starting to untie the belt of his robe.

His hand stopped me from untying the belt. “I, uh, don’t have anything on underneath,” he warned.

That familiar feeling of electricity shot through me again, but I managed to keep myself together. “I think I can handle it. C’mon now,” I said as I untied it and got him into the bed, trying very hard to NOT notice anything.

“Sarah, thank you so much,” he told me. “I know this is asking a lot, but would you consider laying with me, for at least a while? I’ll behave I promise, but I just want to feel you with me.”

He seemed so sincere that I couldn’t refuse. As I took my robe off and slipped in bed beside him I was very glad that I had a gown on. He rolled to his side and pulled me to him, snuggling like a child. I realized he did not feel good and there was no chance of being with him this night, but that didn’t make it any easier, lying here next to him. I was tired too I realized and soon settled down, enjoying the feeling of his warm body next to mine.

“Good night Sarah,” he whispered and kissed me sweetly, gently.

“Good night Adam, sleep well,” I murmured and before I knew it, we were both asleep.