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.”
“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:
Just what you want me to be
You're the only one for me”
That song says it all.