Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hands Off!!!

Chapter Twenty-Six

It was without a doubt the best homecoming I have ever had. I went from vase to vase, appreciatively smelling the roses. My favorites were some peach ones with deep salmon colored edges; they were breath-taking. Their sweet aroma filled my nose and I felt as if I wanted to jump into them. The white roses smelled a bit spicier than the others and I didn’t know why, but I inhaled their fragrance deeply and turned and looked at Adam with this big goofy grin on my face again.

“How did you know I adore roses?” I asked him.

He walked over to where I was standing and took my face tenderly in his hands and kissed me softly, our lips clinging together slightly as if they couldn’t stand to be parted. His lips gently caressed mine, moving teasingly over them and I wanted him to never stop.

He enveloped me in a warm hug then and said, “I didn’t, it was just a guess. I mean, don’t all women love roses?”

I had my arms wrapped around his waist; it seemed a smarter move than trying to reach them over my head to hold him around his neck. I liked this though I thought as I rested my cheek against his chest and heard his heartbeat, steadily ticking away against my cheek.

I tried to hide a muffled yawn against his chest, but it didn’t work. Adam felt it and chuckled. “How do you feel about taking a nap? I might even join you!” he told me leading me off towards my bedroom.

He had made an attempt this morning to pull the covers up over the bed, which was sweet, and it also made it much easier to get in to bed. I shrugged out of my clothes and made a quick stop in my bathroom before crawling into bed, where Adam was waiting for me.

I looked at him, lying there in my bed and was reminded of the morning in Pisa, right after the accident at the tower. I remembered that he had the sheets pushed down around his hips and was patting the bed beside him. That was such temptation. Today though he was just lying there and as I approached the bed, he pulled the covers back for me and I climbed happily into them and straight into his arms, nestling our bodies together.

He was warm and smelled wonderful. He wore aftershave I believe, but it was something very light that let Adam’s own delightful scent come through and I wanted to just drink it in.

I lay with my head resting on Adam’s chest and enjoyed the tickling sensation of his crinkly chest hairs that my cheek rested against. My arm was lying across his belly and my hand occasionally made gentle forays up over his chest, but I soon realized how difficult it was making things—for both of us. Adam’s body was becoming tenser with each stroke I made and I realized that I needed to stop.

I yawned and decided that it was a good time to try to roll over and get to sleep. I was going to reach up and kiss him, but when I tried to stretch upwards, everything in my chest immediately hurt. I gave a small moan and it wasn’t pleasure. Adam looked at me for a moment to see what was going on and saw the grimace on my face. He gently rolled over to me and asked me what was wrong.

I gave a short gaspy laugh and told him I was trying to reach up to kiss him before I fell asleep. He leaned over and kissed me, a compassionate and caring kiss that melted me instantly. Which, considering the circumstances might not be a good thing.

“Um, I think I had better roll over—cautiously, that is, and try to get to sleep. This isn’t going to be easy, is it?” I asked him. I hadn’t thought too much about this while I was in the hospital, but now we are going to be here together and frankly, I wasn’t sure how we were going to do it.

Adam was up on an elbow sort of leaning over me, playing absentmindedly with the strand of my hair that forever strays into my face or eyes. I felt kind of shy with him right now
for some reason. Or maybe vulnerable is a better word. I have found it is easy to express my feelings for Adam in a physical way, but I’m still too wary to tell him how I feel.

Truthfully, I didn’t really know for sure how I felt about him. I mean, I’m crazy about him, but is this love? I’ve never said I love you to someone in a romantic sense, well since the early days of my marriage and we know how that worked out.

If you know me you would know how silly that is because I am always telling my kids, parents, and friends that I love them. My heart overflows with love for these people and I never want them to leave this earth without knowing that they were dear to me, that I loved them.

I tried to look at Adam from that point of view. I do care about him. Suppose I would have died in that accident? He wouldn’t have known how I felt. But I just don’t feel comfortable enough to tell him yet. So if I can’t show him sexually, how will he know?

He was looking at me in that strangely intense way he has; the look he usually gives me when he knows exactly what I am thinking. His hand was cupping my chin and his thumb was idly tracing along my lips. “We will survive you know. Maybe we’ll be a bit frazzled, but we will make it,” he whispered to me.

And I believed him. But it’s not going to be easy...
One more silky kiss with from his yielding lips and I was ready to cry uncle—literally. “Adam...”

“Sleep well love.” He settled himself next to me, but gave my enough room to try to get comfortable which was nearly impossible. I decided maybe I needed some ibuprofen and started to get up to get it.

“What are you doing? Do you need something?” Adam asked quizzically.

“Yes. I need some ibuprofen. My ribs are hurting.”

“Let me. Where are they?” he asked, getting up and allowing me a wonderful view of his naked body.

Not helping here, not at all...

“There is um, some in the bathroom cabinet.” I tried to close my eyes so that I couldn’t see him, but then that just brings up memories and that’s worse! I didn’t know what to do except for just hang on, a week or so wasn’t really THAT long!

Was it?
“Here, I brought you four. Your Dr. said you should take 800 milligrams. We really should have stopped to get your prescription filled on the way home. I’ll go later to pick it up for you, shall I?” he said and handed me the ibuprofen and some water.

I swallowed them down gratefully and closed my eyes tightly so that I might miss him walking back to the bathroom with the empty glass. I peeked just as he was coming back into the room and got the full delicious frontal view. I quickly shut my eyes, squeezing them closed tightly, as if that was going to help remove the image from blazing through my brain.

I sighed and felt Adam climb back into the bed and pull the covers up over us. He gave me one last, brief kiss and then settled down, not quite touching me.

Unbelievably, I actually fell asleep quickly, but I think my dreams were erotic at best and possibly down-right dirty. Despite the fact that I woke up next to Adam, I didn’t awake with a smile and I think I almost felt more tired. I didn’t remember my dreams exactly, but there was something disturbing about them, I was sure of it.

Adam appeared to still be sleeping, so I lay there quietly. I rose up enough to see the clock and it was almost 6:00 p.m. which means we slept for around 3 hours. Only 24 hours ago I was probably just starting to wake up after being unconscious for 4 whole days! The shadows were starting to lengthen outside the window I noticed as I looked around the room.

I loved my bedroom, it was my haven and my personality really shines through in here.

My bed was made of white oak in a southwestern style, as were the matching furniture pieces. It was a large bedroom, but only because it was such an old house and they didn’t spare on room when it was built in the 1930’s. My house is a sprawling single story bungalow which has been built on to several times, adding interesting rooms and nook and crannies. I love this house; the space has character and is unique.

There was a big bay window with a padded window seat under it on the south wall, the door to the bathroom and a large walk in closet were on the east wall, the bed on the west. The huge 9 drawer dresser and mirror was on the north wall and my pride and joy, a lovely large lingerie chest sat between the bathroom and closet doors. The exit door was on the north wall as well.

The colors were all out of the Georgia O’Keeffe prints on the walls, the grey Line and the hip bone picture, otherwise known as Music Pink and Blue #1, both water colors rich with the muted pastel colors of the desert. They are soothing to me, to my soul and if I had to look at them for 100 years, I would never tire of them. An art teacher I had in college told us that is how you should pick art. Buy only good pieces that are meaningful to you and that you could look at and never tire of. In my living room I have a print by Maxfield Parrish called Ecstasy done in 1929 that makes my soul sing!

Anyway, the colors of my bedroom echo the colors of the desert, creams and tans, rose pinks and faded blues and greens. It is a room I am completely comfortable in, it is my retreat, my harbor in stormy times. It is quite literally my queen’s chambers, and I don’t often offer to let men into my sanctuary. I would much rather go to a man’s house then let them come here. I had dated Jason for over 6 months before he ever spent the night here.

I looked at Adam, still sleeping peacefully and wondered about that. I am totally comfortable having him here—it’s like he belongs in my world. I giggled silently and saw him spread out all over the bed and decided we did need a king sized bed though!

He sleeps so peacefully and like most of us he looks younger and innocent, his handsome face free from the everyday cares and worries we carry around with us like pocket change. The secret of Adam’s charm isn’t that he is the most gorgeous man in movies—far from it in fact. Yes, he is handsome, but it is his nature that shines through and makes him more beautiful. He genuinely cares about people, whether it’s his family or fans, Adam always tries to give them what he feels they deserve. His family gets an amazingly caring and loving man, spontaneous and generous. His fans get the same thing, only on a different level. Had I met him only as Adam, the movie star, I would have thought what a kind and charming man he was, how he was so polite about posing for a picture with me or signing an autograph. But I would only have been able to get a brief glimpse of the real Adam and would have thought nothing more of it than that he was a nice guy.

As his girlfriend, (wow, that’s weird for me to say!) I see a man that I could love, that I hope to love. Do I love him now? It seems preposterous; we’ve known each other for such a short time. But maybe that’s the way it happens. No time to think and worry about it, you just know. I think it’s rare for us as human beings to find someone that our souls feel complete with, as mine does with Adam. I love how his eyes light up when he speaks of his family or talks to them. And I see that same light in his eyes when he looks at me. I don’t know if I can live up to this, and it bothers me a great deal. Being the intense focus of his feelings is scary.

One day at a time--I’d promised him.

If I didn’t love him, how could I feel so contented letting him into my world; a world that has been exclusively mine and shared with so few? How indeed?

I decided to try and slide out of the bed unnoticed, so that Adam could sleep as long as he wanted to. The problem was that any movement brought groans and frankly hurt. I inched across the bed slowly and made it up without too much commotion, and as I looked back at the bed on the way to the bathroom, I saw that he was still slumbering peacefully.

I heard Lissa in the living room as I came back from the bathroom and I decided to go ask her how Cassie was. I quietly dressed and opened the door, which let out a huge squeak! I stole a look at Adam and saw him stirring in the bed. He opened one eye first, then both, bestowing upon me that intensely sexy look he has. It completely unnerves me. I never know whether I’m supposed to jump right back into bed with him or surrender all my secrets! Either way it’s dangerous.

“Sorry,” I told him with an apologetic look. “Go back to sleep!”

“Uh uh, come and kiss me first!”

“If that’s what I must do to in order to escape you,” I responded, laying the back of my hand across my forehead in a helpless gesture. That was swiftly followed by a fit of giggles.

“Ah ha, trying to escape my wicked clutches?”

In one smoothly quick move, he pulled the covers down and hopped out of the bed, heading towards me with a sinister grin on his face. I hastily shut the door, hearing the squeak again, but decided it was better to listen to it again than to have Lissa come strolling by unawares.

Adam caught me up gently in his arms and I let myself melt into them, feeling his warmth. Neither of us was laughing now and I swallowed a lump that was trying desperately to rise in my throat.

“How do you feel?” he inquired, kissing the top of my head through the hair that was still tangled from my nap.

“Better. I’m just going out to talk to Lissa.”

“Okay. I think I’ll give the boys a call, so I’ll be out soon.”

I nodded and tipped my head up for a quick kiss. His lips lingered over mine for a few moments, clinging to mine sweetly. I reluctantly pulled myself away and headed out the door, closing it behind me with another squeak. Creaky old house!!! I laughed and told myself I needed to dig the WD-40 out!

Lissa was sitting on the couch, reading something that looked suspiciously like a textbook. She had a cup of steaming coffee sitting on the table near her and some music playing softly on the stereo; an old America CD I have. The song that was playing was All My Life. I sat down and listened to the lyrics for a moment and contemplated them.

“There was a time, that I just thought

That I would lose my mind
You came along and then the sun did shine
We started on our way I do recall that every moment spent
Was wasted time but then I chose to lay it on the line
I put the past away
All my life, I will carry you through

All my life, between each hour of the passing days
I will stay with you
I want this all my life

I want this all my life
I want this all my life”
If there was such a thing as fate or destiny, that song seemed to be speaking directly to me, providing a clear message to the ponderings of my confused brain and heart. But life isn’t as simple as a song. And my heart and head both knew that.

I looked up then and Lissa was sipping her coffee and watching me, a slight frown on her face. “How are you feeling?”

“Not bad. I’ve certainly been worse anyway. What are you reading?”

“Spinal Cord Injuries: Psychological, Sociological, and Vocational Rehabilitation by Roberta B. Trieschmann,” she told me while holding the book up for me to see.

“Ooh, intriguing.”

She snorted and said, “It’s a doctor thing Mom!”

“How is Cass?”

“She is doing really well. What she has is Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury which means that there is some functioning below the primary level of the injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved, or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other. In Cassie’s case, she actually has feeling in both her legs, which is extremely good. But she can’t move them much at all.”

“But she can move them some?” I asked, trying not to feel too optimistic.

She paused for a moment and closed the book and laid it on the table. She pursed her lips which caused furrows to play across her forehead as she thought about that. “Yes, she can wiggle her toes and she can actually bend her left leg a bit, but they have immobilized her spinal column on a decompression bed in hopes that they will not have to perform surgery. She is very impatient of course, but this is better than surgery. I’m not sure how Dr. Gorman is though; he may not be up to the level of teasing that he is getting from Cass!”

That made me feel better than anything that she had told me about Cassie. Her spirit was evidently good. “How long will she be like this?”

“Depends on lots of things mom. It could be weeks or months, it is hard to tell with ISC injuries. If sheer will has anything to do with it, she’ll be up and chasing Dr. Gorman around in no time though!”

“I hope you’re right. What shall we do about dinner? I KNOW Adam will be starving when he gets in here! He is a bottomless pit, I swear. He and your brother together will totally wipe out the Thanksgiving table, I am sure.”

“I did notice that!” she told me with a wry laugh. “And of course, he probably never gains an ounce, defying the medical experts who can’t figure out what role metabolism truly plays in bodies.” She made that funny face she sometimes does when she is trying to figure something out. Her lips were kind of pursed, then puckered, then smoothed into the slightest of smiles. “I like him Mom, I like him a lot.”

“I do too Lissa. Which scares the heck out of me!”

“Don’t run away from this one, okay? When Cassie first started telling us about him, I thought it was the silliest thing and that you’d never hear from him again. But then Adam came into our lives like a knight preparing to scale the castle walls if necessary! I think that man is crazy about you, I really do.”

“Mm, yes I think so too. What is scarier still is that I think I feel the same thing. Our time in Italy was incredible Lissa. It’s funny, I went there to put some ghosts to rest, and I did. I just did it differently than I imagined. He made that the most wonderful trip I have ever been on. It was romantic and fun and outside the accident in Pisa, perfect. Just perfect..." I trailed off, lost in thought for a moment. Memories of Adam and I strolling along Italian streets, holding hands, or chasing each other around the balcony in Firenza flooded my mind.

Yes, perfect!
When I came back to earth, Lissa was looking at me and smiling a mile wide. She reached over and took hold of my hand, squeezing it gently and saying, “Mom, don’t think about it all so much, just go with it. Just enjoy what is happening and let tomorrow take care of its self.”

“Oh,” Lissa said, “I forgot to tell you that when we couldn’t find your purse after the accident, I cancelled your credit cards and notified DMV and the bank. In a couple of days when you are feeling better, you need to get those things taken care of. Your social security card wasn’t in there was it? You’ll need to contact them if so they said. Identity theft is a scary thing you know.”

“It’s odd that you couldn’t find it, it was on the floor in the front seat of Cassie’s car. It was probably thrown clear, but thanks for notifying everyone. My keys were in there too. Do you think I should change the locks?”

“I do. And I’d feel much safer if you did.”

“As would I. Lissa, we should have thought of that already.” Adam walked into the room and sat next to me on the loveseat, after he had stopped and kissed me lightly.

“How are the boys?” I asked him.

“They are fine. I plan to go back sometime next week. That will leave most of a week left to spend with them. Will you go with me?”

“I guess that depends on what the doctor says. Are you sure that they want me to come? Maybe they just want to see their dad?”

‘Yes, they do want to meet you. Please come?” he said, smiling his dimple smile at me.

“You know I can’t resist that smile. Lissa, look at those dimples—he shamelessly uses them to entice me to do many things!” I declared.

Lissa and Adam both started laughing at that and Adam continued to flash his dimples. Lissa pretended to swoon and that had us laughing all the more.

“Anyone else hungry?” Adam said and I distinctly heard his stomach growling.

I gave Lissa a ‘told you so’ look and she laughed even harder, which made me laugh again. Soon, my ribs were aching and I was holding them, trying to keep them from moving too much. Adam was perplexed as to why we were laughing and Lissa finally told him.

He managed to give his most affronted look, which lasted about 5 seconds before he was laughing too.

Finally getting her laughter under control, Lissa suggested, “How about Thai from Bangkok? Hot and spicy, I know that has to sound good to you Mom. Adam, do you like Thai?”

‘Um, love it. Should we go to pick it up?”

“No, I’ll go. Mom, why don’t you call the order in and I’ll go pick it up, okay? I want a bowl of Tom Yum soup. And can we get the appetizer platter too?”

“Okay, but how about some spicy fried rice too? Otherwise you’ll have to fight Adam for the appetizers, and it won’t be a pretty sight!”

Lissa headed out the door then and I asked Adam what he wanted.

“How’s their curry? I love curry!”

“Okay, curry it is. You will love it, I promise.”

I called the restaurant and ordered two appetizer platters, an order of spicy fried rice, a bowl of Tom Yum soup and two orders of shrimp panang. Adam raised his eyebrows at that, but I decided he could just wait and see what it was. Adam gave them his credit card number to process the order since I couldn’t use mine. I didn’t know that Lissa had enough cash and I didn’t want her to pay anyway. She is a student and that takes most of the money she earns at her part-time job and the money I send to her. Medical school is expensive even with scholarships, let me tell you!

Adam had got up to look at my stereo and CD collection. He grinned when he saw that I had told him the truth, a lot of the stuff he had I had in my collection! The America CD had stopped playing and since I didn’t have anything as sophisticated as a multi-disk changer you had to play them one at a time. Adam hunted though and picked out something, laughing at me when I asked what he had picked. “Patience!” he told me.

Pretty quickly Kenny G, ‘The Moment’ started playing and I sighed, happy. Happy to be home, but happier still that Adam was with me. It was hard to believe actually.

He was really here, in my home, it wasn’t just a holiday fling, and he wants to be with me.
He came back to sit on the loveseat with me, and it was altogether too close. At least right now. I could feel the warmth of his body next to mine; it was enticing and made me want to crawl onto his lap to snuggle.

Doing his magical trick of reading my mind, he carefully picked me up to sit on his lap, wrapping his arms around me so I couldn’t scamper off of it. “No, it will be okay Sarah I promise. A few days without making love won’t kill either of us!”

“Even if we think it will?” I asked doubtingly.

“Even so,” he murmured against my hair. “I promise.”

We stayed that way, listening to Kenny’s soft jazzy sounds until Lissa came in. She took in the sight of her mother sitting on a man’s lap and gave Adam a ‘thumbs up’ sign, and he nodded at her, before kissing me and then setting me firmly next to him so he could get up to check out the food.

I laughed and followed them both into the kitchen to open the packages. The smells of the food drove me crazy. I was so ready for real food. My mouth was watering and I was as excited as Adam to dish it up.

Lissa got out plates and chopsticks and started setting the table. Adam saw the chopsticks and raised an eyebrow at me and said, “Please tell me that I mustn’t use these abominable utensils? I’ll never get anything down if so. And it won’t be a pretty picture either, watching a grown man as he cries at his own ineptitude!”

Lissa got a fork out and wordlessly put it by his plate and then sat down and picked up her chopsticks and started poking around the appetizer platters. I got a pitcher of tea out to the fridge and then remembered Adam didn’t drink it any more. “Adam, what do you want to drink?”

“Um, do you have a beer?” At my nod of assent, he said “Great,” and I sat one down in front of him. He picked up the bottle of Bud Light and grimaced. “Don’t you have any real beer?” he asked.

“That’s it. I can always get you some water!” I told him.

“An Englishman who doesn’t like tea? I can’t hardly believe that,” Lissa told him.

“Actually I can be a tea-aholic. In Italy I drank so much that I was feeling jittery and just downright awful, so I gave it up.”

Adam watched with curiosity as Lissa and I picked up our food with the chopsticks and ate it, having very little problems. I know it had to be a manly thing, but he decided that if ‘the girls’ could do it, so could he. Make that he should be able to, but somehow he couldn’t quite get the knack. Lissa and I laughed and teased him good-naturedly about it before he finally surrendered and picked up his fork.

He discovered the ‘panang’ was curried shrimp in a coconut milk sauce. He also discovered it was very tasty and ate most of what we had. No leftovers here!

During dinner Lissa told us more about Cassie and I felt pretty good by then that everything would be okay for her. Adam commented that he would love to be able to bring her to the movie set; she would get such a kick out of it.

“Oh, I’d pay money to see her and Sunni together!”

“Really? Real money? How much?” Adam asked cheekily.

After dinner Lissa shooed us out of the kitchen and said she would load the dishwasher, so Adam and I went back into the living room. He started looking through my movie selection and finally turned to me with a grin. “I think I was set up after all. How many of my movies do you have here?” he teased.

I rolled my eyes and said, “Lets put on a Paul Hallenbach movie, okay? He’s very sexy you know!”

“Hm yes, maybe if you’re in a wheelchair and you have absolutely no place else to go,” he said dryly.

“Alright then, you select one!” I said, eager to see what he would choose.

We grumbled at each others suggestions until Lissa came into the living room and settled the matter. “No movies! I’m reading,” she told us and put another CD in, this time some rap music and Adam and I fled to my room! Which was probably her purpose the whole time.

We turned on the TV in my room. 125 channels and not a thing on to watch, nothing that held our interest anyway. The problem was, what would hold our interest was off limits and we were both keenly aware of that. We finally settled on an old movie on one of the movie channels and settled down together, Adam’s arm wrapped protectively around my shoulders as we sat propped up in bed, side by side. I felt safe and cared for and it was almost like real life, sitting in bed together like this.

But we had a whole night to get through yet and it probably wasn’t going to be easy.


I found a way to paste a link on here. It is to the song that I talked about as several people have e-mailed me asking about it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ghosts From the Past

Chapter Twenty-Five

Jason stood there, taking in Adam and I holding hands. He stared hard for a moment before speaking, never taking his eyes off of our joined hands.

“My Mom and Dad saw an article in the paper that you had been injured in a wreck. I—I was worried and decided to come and see how you were,” he finished, clearly ill at ease with the situation. He just stayed there by the door and I didn’t know what to say or do.

I felt surprised that he was here. I mean, it’s always nice to see him, but things are different now and I hadn’t yet told him about Adam, remembering the e-mail I received in Italy and hadn’t answered because I assumed I’d have time.

Lissa came to the rescue then and got up and hugged him. Derek stood up then and went to shake his hand. I stayed put, it was too much to try and walk over to him, but I did ask him to come and sit down. Derek and Lissa sat down on the bed, leaving the chair empty that Derek had been sitting in.

I watched Jason walk across the room and thought again what a wonderfully athletic body he has. At 6’1 and about 190 pounds, he is a consummate athlete, he rides his bike and works out almost daily and you can see it in the way he moves. You can easily see that he is confident and comfortable in his skin. His wavy dark blonde hair was a little shorter and a little greyer than last time I saw him. His blue eyes were still startlingly clear, even though there were a few more fine laugh lines framing them, but he wore them well.

I realized I needed to say something and I finally decided to introduce Adam and Jason. I didn’t know what else to say.

“Uh, Jason, this is Adam Richland,” I said, totally unnecessarily I’m sure because I’d bet that Jason already knew that by the looks he was giving to Adam. He actually liked a lot of Adams’ movies. “Adam, this is Jason Daniels.”

Adam let go of my hand then and extended his to Jason, who stared at it for a long moment before taking it and returning the handshake. I don’t think it was because he was being impolite, I think he was pretty surprised to see Adam here in Wichita, not to mention my hospital room.

“Wow Adam, I’m really a fan of yours,” Jase said. “Honestly. I’m just amazed to find you here. There must be a story behind this,” he finished, looking at me questioningly.

“Yes. I met Adam when I was in Italy on vacation recently. In fact, I was on my way home from the airport when the accident happened. Did your folks tell you that Cassie was the one driving?”

“Yes, they did. I thought I’d stop and see her too, uh, when I finished here that is.”

“I’m sure that will make her happy. I haven’t gotten to see her yet, I just started getting up this morning. I’m going to bribe these guys to take me down there as soon as the doctor says I can go,” I told him. I was feeling really uncomfortable about this now and as I sat there I realized I was rubbing my knuckles again and hastily stopped, only to start rubbing my hand up and down on my thigh.

I saw Lissa glance at Derek then, and Adam stood up, clearing his throat. "I think I’d like to get some coffee. Anyone care to join me?”

Lissa jumped up and pulled Derek with her. “Actually I don’t really; I have to leave in a couple of hours to catch my plane back to El Paso.” Derek protested.

“Oh, come on Derek. Just a cup of coffee...” Lissa said, heading for the door. I watched all this with amusement, and then stared at Adam as he walked to the door without stopping to kiss me goodbye. I understood why he hadn’t but I still missed it. I thought it was terribly cool for him to be willing to let Jason and I have a chance to speak privately.

They closed the door behind them and Jase and I looked at one another, each trying to decide what to say.

“Allison and Derek both look great,” he said, using Lissa's formal name. He always did, Jase hates nicknames; which is why I always took such pleasure yanking his chain by calling him Jase! He was leaning forward in the chair, knees spread and his elbows resting on them.

“Yeah. She’s doing well in med school. This is her second year now, you know.”

“I remember that,” he said, nodding. He leaned back in the chair and crossed his leg so that his ankle was resting on his knee. He sat there jiggling his foot up and down, only stopping it when he saw me watching it. “Sarah, uh, you and Adam are...” he trailed off, clearly feeling uncomfortable. I nodded at him and he continued, “I didn’t know. You should have told me.”

“Well, it’s pretty new, you know? And I really haven’t had time.” I looked at him and shrugged. “I didn’t mean to have you find out like this. I was going to tell you Jase, really I was. I’m sorry it’s such a huge shock.” I regretted not answering his e-mail now, but there really wasn’t much to say then, about Adam anyway. And the same other issues we have are still between us. I wasn’t going to get back together with him regardless of what happens with Adam and me.

I let out a huge sigh and looked up at him; hating what I had to say to him because it was going to hurt him.

He looked at me for a minute, and then started to speak hurriedly, “I sent you an e-mail last week, but I guess you haven’t gotten it yet since you were on vacation.”

“Actually, I checked my e-mail one time there, but I didn’t really have time to respond.” I wondered if peace would have been better served by not telling him that, but I felt I owed him some honestly. We sat facing each other, neither of us saying a word.

Finally, he looked away from my eyes and cleared his throat. “Sarah, we’ve been through a lot together, doesn’t that mean something to you? We have history, and we can work through this too. You don’t need him,” he said emphatically, practically spitting the last word out.

“Jason, we never loved one another, were never ‘in love’ with one another. At best we were only marking time, you know that. We never would have made it, we just wouldn’t,” I told him sadly. I felt a twinge of pain for those lonely people we once were and for the fact that we had clung to each other much too long because of that. A solitary tear slipped down my face then and I carelessly brushed it away. I knew that even if I had not met Adam that Jase and I wouldn’t have gotten back together, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much of his fight was only because he didn’t want me with anyone else? I’m sure that is too much of an egotistical angle really, but Jason certainly had some type of impetus behind this.

“I thought we both just needed time—time to figure out what we wanted and needed Sarah. I do want to be with you, not because I’m lonely, but because for the past 2 years I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. Dammit, we deserve a chance. You’ve only just met this guy, what can you possibly have with him?” I could see his irritation and hurt building and I flinched when his eyes seemed to skewer mine.

I could face up to his anger and pain, but there was something deeper there that I couldn’t figure out. I think he almost hated me, and I guess I could understand that sort of; I had hurt him, his heart and his pride, but when, I wondered did it get to that point? Even when we were still together, ‘in love’ was never a part of our vocabulary.

He stood up then and looked at me with an inscrutable look and it made me blanch. “I’m staying at mom and dads for a couple of days if you change your mind, but understand that even if you don’t call, I’m not done with this Sarah, we still have things to say,” he finished, letting out a long breath. He turned then and left the room.

I watched him go in silence, and my mind was spinning, trying to understand what had happened. Jase didn’t usually have much of a temper and this seemed like an enormous over-reaction to this situation, given our past. I shook my head, trying desperately to shake off the chill that settled over me like a fine layer of dust. It felt repulsive, probably because of my own guilt and I wanted it gone.

I felt suddenly tired and cold and I wanted to crawl into my bed and take a nap, but I didn’t feel confident enough on my own to make it the 10 foot to the bed so I sat and waited for someone to come back in.

As I sat there and re-played our conversation, I was more disturbed by Jason’s visit than I cared to admit I realized. It’s almost as if he was a pod person; that really wasn’t the Jason I knew.

What was that all about I felt like shouting!
I was still thinking about it when someone knocked on the door a few minutes later. I couldn’t wait to see who it was this time, I thought sarcastically. I called out, “Come in,” and my mom and dad walked in the room.

I don’t know what is with me lately, but I started crying as soon as I saw them. I needed them I realized and everything that had happened lately made me think about the fact that we are all only visiting this place called earth—that we are on loan so to speak and when we were gone, well, that was it for this life.

Mom and Dad are both 74 and still pretty vital people. They stay active which helps them, but I took a hard look at them as they came into the room and noticed things I had been oblivious to before—dad’s stooped shoulders and thinning hair and mom’s steps that were now much more hesitant than they used to be.

Mom came over and immediately bent down to hug me and kiss me softly on the cheek. Dad sat in the chair vacated by Jason and pulled it closer to me and took my hand in his. I noticed the veins of his hand standing out starkly against his skin which looked thin and papery; another reminder of his age.

I sat there, staring wordlessly at them, tears flowing unchecked. I didn’t know what to say to them, how to start even if I knew what I wanted to say.

Mom took charge of the conversation then and said, “Well, you are looking much better than you were yesterday!”

“You were here yesterday?”

“And the days before that. Why does that surprise you Sarah?” she asked, taking in the puzzled look on my face and the same time digging in her voluminous purse to find the little travel pack of tissues she always carried with her and fished one out for me. She handed it to me and said, “Wipe your tears Sarah,” in her no-nonsense manner.

I knew things would be fine then, that she had it under control. Mom has never really been a crier, but she is not unsympathetic to those of us who are. She just believes in getting it out and moving on.

“Now, what’s this we hear about a fancy man being here with you?” my dad asked, in his best fatherly voice.

I smiled at him then; a watery smile, but still a smile. Dad’s eyes were crinkling at the corners and I realized he was teasing me. They have probably met Adam on their visits. What I can extrapolate from this is that he likes Adam because he was teasing me. If he didn’t like him, I would be hearing other things right now.

“Yeah, he is pretty fancy isn’t he?” I said, probably smiling like an idiot. The trail of men though my life has been harder on them than on me I thought. The first one or two men they got to know and liked, then I would leave them and mom and dad would be left wondering what the hell had happened. Since then, they keep a polite distance, as if they are trying not to get attached to them. I know they worry about me endlessly. They want what practically every parent wants; for their child to be happy and have a partner, someone to share life with, the good times and the bad. Maybe they’ll get their wish this time.

I hope they’ll get their wish this time.
The door opened then and the fancy man walked in, accompanied by Lissa and Derek and also, Tammy the torturer. I groaned softly to myself when I saw her and wondered what on earth she could possibly want this time?

I didn’t have to wait long. “Hi ma—Sarah. I wanted to check and see how you were feeling since you ate breakfast. Are you experiencing any nausea or vomiting? Did everything stay down?”

Oh for God’s sake I thought—did she have to ask that in front of everyone? I admit it, this girl brings out the worst in me, I thought grumpily. Then contrarily I remembered that I had sort of decided I liked her earlier. And for the life of me I couldn’t remember why!

“I’m feeling fine Tammy. In fact, I am hungry and can’t wait for lunch. Please tell me it won’t be more, um, mushy stuff?”

“Oh no. Since you aren’t having a problem with breakfast, it will be a regular lunch. Now, could I get you to come and sit on the bed so I can take your vital signs, please?” she asked, already pulling the hated blood pressure cuff out of its wall storage nook and inserting the thermometer probe into it’s plastic sheath.

I sighed and prepared to get up. Adam put his arm around me and helped to get me up and walked me to the bed. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be gratefully, but maybe that was because of Adam, not me I decided.

I sat down on the edge of the bed and submitted to Tammy and her instruments of torture. Okay, so I opened my mouth and she stuck the temperature probe in and then wrapped the blood pressure cuff around my arm. Before she started pumping the little hand held ball attached to the cuff, the thermometer beeped and she pulled it out and wrote down something on my chart.

“97.9,” she told me. “That’s a little low, are you feeling okay?”

I took a deep breath and wondered how on earth it kept from being somewhere around 150 or so, I seemed to be on a perpetual simmer around this girl. “It always runs about that when I’m feeling fine. Don’t know why!” I shrugged.

“People tend to be like that; we’re all individuals and seem to vary within limits.” She was pumping the cuff up now and I felt it gradually start to squeeze my arm. I concentrated on staying relaxed and breathing deeply, but honestly, I always want to scream when those things are squeezing the hell out of my arm, I thought irritably. Finally she released the valve and the cuff deflated so she could take it off of me.

“Well, that is very good,” she said, folding the cuff and storing it back into its nook and then wrote something else on the chart. “102 over 68, that’s excellent for someone your age!” she said incredulously.

I had a mini fantasy then about Tammy being run over by a Mack truck, but I think I managed to smile at her, very condescendingly. She didn’t know the difference apparently, as she continued to ask me questions about my head and pain and all the other things I was trying to forget. She finally left and I looked over at my visitors who had all been listening to this exchange while trying to appear not to be listening. I stared at them for a moment, contemplating what if anything I had to say.

Lissa saw the look in my eyes and decided to head a tirade off at the pass. She came over to sit next to me on the bed and put her arm around me for a brief hug.

‘Lissa, help me get back up onto this bed please?” I asked her, while trying to pull my legs up and scoot back at the same time. I could feel a pulling sensation around my ribs, but it didn’t hurt too badly. And amazingly, my head felt good, I hadn’t even had a headache. Lissa helped my get settled and asked if I wanted the covers over me, but I was plenty warm and told her so.

We visited for awhile, and then my parents said it was time for them to be going. Derek also reluctantly asked Lissa if she would take him back to the house so he could get changed and then get to the airport, which she agreed to do.

I hugged and kissed my parents goodbye and decided that I really had to see them more often. You know, that guilty promise we make to ourselves when life intrudes and we realize we aren’t getting any younger? But I hoped I would keep it.

After mom and dad had left, Derek sat on the edge of my bed and hugged me for a moment. He let go and I kissed him soundly on his cheek and smiled at him. “I will miss you Derek. Thanks so much for being here,” I told him, a small hiccup covering the sob I didn’t want to let escape.

“Hey,” he said, “It’s the only place I could have been Mom. I’m so thankful you are going to be fine. Pam was sorry she couldn’t be here too, but they couldn’t let her off work.” He was holding both of my hands in his large, strong ones and I felt so proud of this wonderful young man. “Pam and I will be home for Thanksgiving you know, so it won’t be too long before we see each other again!”

I nodded to him and gave him a final hug as he got up to leave. He turned to Adam then and said, “Adam, thank you for being here as well. I know it meant a lot to mom. I’ll be seeing you at Thanksgiving too I hope?”

They looked at one another and both nodded, almost imperceptibly, but it was an acknowledgement between them. Adam walked over to him and shook his hand, touching him on the shoulder as well. “See you then Derek,” he said, smiling broadly.

“Adam, shall I bring us some lunch when I come back? I think it will be 12:30 or so probably.” At Adams nod, she hugged me quickly and they left, leaving Adam and I alone.

Adam sat on the bed next to me and leaned over and gently kissed me. I wanted that kiss to go on forever and wondered how on earth we were going to deal with all this when I got home. Over-whelming desire against aching ribs? That’s going to be a tough one, I decided.

“I want to go see Cassie, will you take me?”

“Are you sure you aren’t over-doing it a bit? We’d better ask the nurse first, okay?”

I rolled my eyes and muttered something about ‘Tammy the Torturer’ and I know I heard Adam chuckle, but when I looked at him, he was hiding it well. I pushed the call button and someone, not Tammy answered fairly quickly. I asked about the visit to Cass and they said Tammy would be in soon to talk to me. “Just great!” I said. Miserably I thought she would probably ask me some other embarrassing questions about bodily functions.

Adam was smiling at me, his dimples just barely perceptible, but it was enough to cheer me up. I leaned over to steal another kiss and was just starting to enjoy it when Tammy came in.

She smiled at us, and waggled a finger as if to say ‘caught you’, but the good thing was that she had a wheel chair with her. When I questioned her about it she told me that it was this or no visit.

“Your friend is in another building on another floor. Right now, you would find it extremely tiring, whether you realize it or not. Adam can push you, okay?”

I told her yes, and managed to slide out of the bed on my own. Adam was right next to me for the three steps it took to get to the wheelchair, and I got settled into it while Tammy locked the foot rests into place and unlocked the wheels. After checking to make sure that Adam knew where he was going, we left the room.

It felt like a true escape and it was lovely!

This feels really weird, I thought, riding around in the wheelchair with Adam pushing me smoothly along.

“We should find you one of these and have a race,” I declared. “Look, there’s one there, lets grab it!” We were both giggling when we got to the elevator and waited for the car to come.

Up three floors and a walk down several long hallways, we finally came to Cassie’s room. I swallowed quickly and for some reason I was scared to go in. I looked up at Adam and he smiled at me.

“It’s okay to be nervous, you know. Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked. “You don’t have to, you know love.”

“Yes, I do. I want to.” And with that, Adam opened the door and then wheeled me in.

Cass was lying there on a very strange looking bed, one that was specifically for spinal injures and as we rolled in, she looked up and grinned at us.

“Holy shit, look who you got to push you around? Just your luck Sarah! Totally inexperienced, but I guess he was the best you could get on short notice, huh?” She was still smiling at me, but I noticed tears gathering in the corners of her eyes and asked Adam to push me over close to her so I could hold her hand.
I took her hand carefully in mine, afraid I would hurt her and we both started crying in earnest then, talking at the same time.

“Sarah, I’m so sorry I got us into this!”

“Cass, I’m so sorry you have been so badly hurt because of me!”

We looked at each other, surprised at what we had said and simultaneously said, “Huh?”

“Cassie, you didn’t get us into this, you were only driving me home in the horrible storm. We should have waited it out!”

“But I was driving Sarah. If I had been paying better attention, maybe we wouldn’t have crashed!”

Adam had disappeared into the bathroom and came out carrying a handful of tissues and gave us each several.

“He’s handy too?”

“Yes, he is,” I answered, smiling at her then looking at Adam, who was leaning back against the wall, arms and feet crossed, watching us both. He was giving us his dimple grin and I looked at Cassie and she was responding to it, you can’t help it. That grin is infectious! Her face was full of excitement and orneriness!

“You better hang onto him you know,” she said, a very serious look in her eye. She looked at Adam and he was still smiling. I was happy because this is the smile that he only gives to people he cares about. The public never sees this one and I was thankful for that.

We chatted for a short while then and suddenly there was a knock on her door. At her “Come in”, a doctor walked in. He was wearing a pristine white coat over an azure blue shirt, which exactly matched the color of his eyes. Eyes I might add that wore the most beautiful long and luxurious lashes I had ever seen out side of a Revlon mascara ad. He had short, curly dark hair, with a bit of grey at the temples. He looked very dignified, in a totally cute way. This had to be Dr. Gorgeous I thought.

Cassie introduced us all and I could see that she was crazy about this guy. He was teasing her and she adored every minute of it. A minute of so later, some resident doctors came in and they prepared to examine Cassie. I squeezed her hand and Adam and I left then. I don’t even think she realized it; she was so involved with her doctor!

Adam pushed me back to my room and we didn’t really speak on the way. I was so grateful that he had taken me to see her and I felt reassured by that as well. She was alert and seemed to be accepting it all. I know that if her recovery is at all dependent on her will and spirit, it’s all under control.

When we got back to my room, they were just delivering my lunch. I sniffed the air, trying to figure out what it smelled like and finally gave up and lifted the cover off the plate.

Baked chicken and rice, a roll and a salad. There was some iced tea as well, and I sighed in acceptance and proceeded to eat.

“It’s not like the baked chicken in Firenza, but it’s not too bad either,” I told Adam. “Would you like to try?” I held a piece of the chicken out to Adam, trying to entice him with it, and then laughed. It was a pretty sorry looking piece.

“Um, no thanks. You need to eat, and besides, I’ve eaten in the cafeteria, I can imagine how it tastes!” He was stifling a huge grin, I could tell. It was just waiting to bust through.

It wasn’t the world’s greatest lunch, but it wasn’t the worst either and I managed to eat most of it. As I finished it, Lissa came in with their lunch, some sandwiches from Subway. I was full enough that I didn’t covet those sandwiches too much. But then she surprised me and pulled an oatmeal raisin cookie out of the bag, just for me!

Yummy, my favorite! It was even better because it was contraband.

The nurses’ assistant eventually came in to pick up the tray and she was followed by one of the technicians from CT. They were here to take me back for another scan, to make sure everything looked okay. I was excited to go because if it went well, I could go home!

It took about a half hour in CT and they told me that as soon as the radiologist read the results, my doctor would be notified. I hoped it was soon; I was eager to know.

Adam and Lissa were done with their lunch and were talking about the trip to Italy. Lissa remembered a little about Italy, but not too much. She was 2 when we got there and 5 when we left. Her memories are jumbled and she was enjoying Adam’s stories. She wanted to look at his head when he told her about the accident in Pisa. He tolerantly let her take a look and she thought it looked excellent and that it had healed nicely.

“Mom was always a great nurse Adam. I was 13 before I realized that it didn’t necessarily get better when she kissed it!”

“Really? I found that to work admirably well myself,” he said with a smile. He was sitting on the bed, next to me with his arm around me and we had the bed in an upright position. I was very comfortable, and it felt wonderful to have him next to me. I had my head leaning back against his arm and it just felt ‘right’. My eye lids were rather droopy and I was contemplating taking a nap when Dr. Crandal came in with the results of the CT scan.

“Well Sarah, everything looks fine. You are going to have to be cautious for awhile, you have to remember that you do actually have a crack in your head! There are some things you need to be very careful doing; leaning over too much and then standing up abruptly, lifting anything heavier than a half gallon of milk and absolutely no driving until we are sure you will not develop seizures. For a couple of weeks at least. You can walk and do very light activities, within reason.”

She stopped then and looked at Adam and then cast a glance over to Lissa. “No vigorous activities for a week or so, until I tell you its okay. Do you understand that?” She was looking directly at me and I got the point—no sex.

I looked up her and cheekily asked, “Can you define ‘vigorous’?” Adam and Lissa both laughed and then Lissa clamped her hand over her mouth, like a teenager to stifle the sounds. Adam, pursed his lips together tightly, but his dimples were displayed prominently and I had to smile too.

Dr. Crandal looked over at Lissa again and said, “How long are you staying Lissa?” then turned to look pointedly at myself and Adam. Shaking her head, she finally said, “Okay, no wiggling, or squirming, repeated motions. If you can do it staying completely still with no pressure and heavy breathing, knock yourselves out! How’s that sound for a definition?”

“Much more involved than I planned on thank you very much. Alright, I will behave, I promise!”

“Good,” she said, nodding her head crisply. “Would you like to go home now?”

“Really? I can go home now?”

“Yes, I’ll discharge you but only because Lissa is staying for a few more days and also that half the hospital staff is afraid you’re going to hurt Tammy!”

I tried really hard to keep from smiling at that. Actually I hadn’t realized I was quite so transparent. “I am so ready to get out of here!”

“Alright then. I’ll see you in my office on Thursday, okay?” And she left the room. I was ecstatic! By the time they came in with my discharge papers, I was sitting there impatiently, ready to go. A few signatures and we left the hospital. I got one more ride in the wheelchair, but even that couldn’t dampen my spirits. Adam was taking me home while Lissa was going to let Cassie know what was happening.

It was a beautiful late September day in Wichita. The trees were beginning to turn the vibrant colors of autumn and Adam put the top down in his rental car.

It was a bright red mustang and he grinned like a kid when I had whistled at it at the hospital. The drive home was all too short and soon we were pulling into my driveway. I sighed as I looked at my home, I was glad to be there.

Adam came and opened my door for me and helped me inside the house. Everywhere I looked there were roses, red ones, deep pink ones, every color imaginable, gorgeous roses and the house smelled utterly heavenly. There had to be at least a hundred roses sitting on every available surface of the room.

I looked at Adam, after taking it all in and wrapped my arms around him for a hug.

“Welcome home love.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Chapter Twenty-Four

I managed to sleep most of the night, even with what seemed like too frequent interruptions from my nurse. In the morning my back was hurting, but whether from the accident or sleeping on it I’ll never know.

They came in at 6:00 a.m. to check my vitals and all that. There was a new nurse now, and she was young and perky. At 6:00 a.m. in the morning I am not. I thought briefly about killing her, but frankly I wasn’t convinced that I could sleep any later in prison, so I wisely determined it just wasn’t worth it.

Her name was Tammy, and she was as bouncy as Tigger, but she was very kind and helpful too. Okay, I admitted that once and I won’t do it again. She asked me if I was ready to try to sit on the edge of the bed.

I couldn’t help myself; I was feeling very grouchy this morning. She was just so damn happy it irritated the hell out of me. “And what is the purpose of that Tammy? Do you think my brain was injured so much that I’ve forgotten how to do that?” I snipped facetiously at her.

“Well, in some ways that’s kind of what could have happened,” she told me earnestly and sincerely. “Even though it’s only been a few days, your muscles do forget and your brain controls your muscles and it’s got to be lazy for the past 4 days now!”

“How on earth do you expect me to sit up with this catheter in?” I snapped.

“The good news is that if you can sit for a few minutes, then we can try to stand you up and have you take a few steps AND if you can do that, we can take that pesky catheter right out!”

I digested this information for a moment. “Okay, then lets get me up!” I said, trying to swing myself up and that’s when I decided that maybe laying like this for the rest of my life was okay, really. OUCH!!!

“Yes ma’am, we have to take it slow.” Miss Perky said to me.

“Ma’am,? Do I look like a Ma’am to you?” Stupid question. I probably looked old enough to be her grandmother. Obviously she had been brought up well and told to respect her elders and all that crap.

“Yes ma’am, I mean NO ma’am. I, uh, what would you like me to call you ma...”

“Just call me Sarah, okay? Now, how do we do this?” I asked, as sweetly as I possibly could. That is my dangerous, I’ve had enough shit tone of voice, and Tammy obviously didn’t recognize it.

Derek had been watching this whole exchange between Tammy and I and decided that perhaps he had better get involved. He later said that he did recognized the dangerous and desperate tone in my voice. He came over to the bed and introduced himself to Tammy and gave me a quick kiss on the check.

“Good morning Mom,” to me and then to Tammy, “Okay, how do we do this?”

Tammy was a smart cookie, I’ll give her that and she grabbed onto Derek like a starving dog grabs onto a bone. She immediately instructed him to help swing my legs around to the side of the bed as she helped me from behind, to make sure my back was supported properly.

My first instinct was to reach out to the bed rails for leverage, but they were swinging me to the right and when I reached out with my right arm, I felt like my chest was going to explode. Great, I thought, how much fun is this going to be? I can’t even pull myself up!

I’ll give Tammy this, she is a lot stronger than she looks, and okay, I was sort of starting to like her. She was a determined little thing which I appreciated a lot. She placed a pillow the long way down my back and pushed me carefully forward to a sitting position at the same time that Derek moved my legs over the edge.

Ah, it felt wonderful, for about 5 seconds and then pain ripped through my aching and protesting body. But it started to settle down gradually and sitting there wasn’t so bad.

“How are you feeling Sarah?” Tammy asked cautiously. I’m sure she thought I was going to complain, but I kept my mouth shut, other than one little ‘Ooh’ when I first sat up.

“Not bad actually,” and I don’t know which of the 3 of us was the most surprised. “I’m not feeling dizzy or anything. My chest hurts, but I’ll get used to that. This is actually feeling okay Tammy, thank you!”

Her smile was radiant and I could tell then that she loves her job. I smiled back at her then, a genuine smile and she was obviously pleased.

She went and grabbed another hospital gown and wrapped it around my back since no matter how those things are tied, they always gape open. I really appreciated her thoughtfulness and I told her so and she sort of giggled, but I could tell that my compliment had made her happy. While I was sitting there, she took my blood pressure and temperature and otherwise checked me out.

I had been sitting upright for about 5 minutes by then and she asked if I thought I could stand and I told her I thought so. With Derek on one side and Tammy on the other, I cautiously stood up. I felt a bit wobbly for a moment, but it was okay really and I slowly took a couple of steps.

I felt like Rocky Balboa after he ran up the steps in Philadelphia and I expected Gonna Fly Now to start playing at any moment. Derek looked at me, a silly grin on his face and it made me laugh.

I was laughing AND standing! Hooray!!!

Tammy was smiling too, but said, “Okay, time to sit down now. How do you feel about getting the catheter out? Do you think you can handle going to the bathroom now?”

“Oh yeah,” I told her, “Yank away!”

Derek laughed and said he thought he would pass on this one and that he was going downstairs to find some coffee and breakfast. As I thought about it for a minute, I realized that he and Adam had something in common—their appetite!

Tammy got me through getting it out and I felt wonderfully free. Oh yes, it was wonderful. Now I wanted to soak in a tub full of bubbles and she told me I wasn’t ready for that yet, but I could take a shower if I thought I was up to it—with help that is. “But first I need to get this IV line out, so let’s do that now,” she told me. That came out easily and I held the piece of gauze over the spot until she got the band aid on it.

I wondered what the possibilities of Adam being the one to help me with the shower were and I sort of privately smirked at the idea. Well, maybe not this first time, and besides I wanted my hair washed and all that, although, he DOES wash hair very, very nicely! But even though I was starting to like Tammy, I wasn’t really comfortable with her or some nurse’s aid helping me. And then I had another idea.

“When my daughter gets here, can she help? She’s a second year med student,” I offered hopefully.

“Tell you what, the doctor should be in soon and we’ll ask her. In the meantime, you will be getting some breakfast soon, and you can call your daughter and have her bring some personal clothes for you if you like, okay?” she asked as she got ready to leave. “Do you need anything else right now? Do you need some pain meds?”

At the emphatic shaking of my head, she said okay and headed out the door. I pushed the button to set my bed more upright and it didn’t hurt much at all. I then twisted around and pulled the phone closer and managed to punch in my number. I waited as patiently as I could for someone to answer and then realized it was only 6:45. They might not even be up now, I realized with a frown.

Finally someone picked up the phone and mumbled “Hello” into it and I realized happily that it was Adam.

“Good Morning,” I said in my sexist voice, speaking low. “This is your obscene morning wake up call!”

“What the. . . what?” he mumbled, then cleared his throat.

I couldn’t help it, I started laughing merrily then. “You’re a little slow in the mornings, ya know?” I told him.

“Mm, Bella,” he said, a little clearer this time. “I miss you.”

“Me too. I really didn’t realize how early it was, they got me up awhile ago. Did you sleep well?”

“That’s a double edged sword you know,” he told me, chuckling really low in this throat.

My heart almost stopped for a moment because he sounded so sexy. I had this mental picture of him, lying there in MY bed, in MY room and in MY house and it was almost more than I could stand.

“How are you this morning?” he asked me, suddenly serious.

“I’m feeling pretty good. Still achy, but considering everything, not too bad. That’s one of the reasons I called, I want Lissa to bring me some comfortable clothes to put on. I’ve had enough of hospital attire! These peek-a-boo gowns are really not my style!”

He paused for a moment and I knew he was thinking about the peek-a-boo thing and it made me smile, a huge and wicked smile if he only could have seen it.

“Um, yes. Shall I get her for you?”

“Don’t wake her up, can I just tell you what I want? Then you can help her get it?”

“Sure. What do you want?”

"Just some comfortable lounging clothes and a nightgown to sleep in. Oh, and shampoo and toiletry items. I want to take a shower,” I told him, already thinking about how great that shower would feel.” As I said that, there was a knock on the door and my doctor came in. “My doctor is here. I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Yes love, as soon as possible. Goodbye.”

This was my personal doctor, Dr. Crandal and she thought I was doing wonderfully. Providing I don’t have any problems develop today, she said I can probably go home by today or tomorrow at the latest, but I’ll have a strict regimen to follow which will include physical therapy to help strengthen my chest muscles. She wants me off of work for a couple more weeks and NO driving at all until we know for sure that I won’t have any seizures, which can sometimes develop with a fractured skull. I’ll be seeing her twice a week until she determines I am ready to head back to work.

It’s not exactly what I wanted to hear, but it was better than I expected so I promised her I would follow her instructions to the letter. She told me they would do the CT scan this afternoon, but she felt it was only a formality. Since the fracture did not splinter and they had no bone fragments to account for I was truly lucky. I told her I felt that way, very lucky indeed. She said it was okay to take my shower and I told her Lissa was going to help me when she gets here.

She liked that, she had known Lissa for many years since she has been our family doctor for 17 years. “She going to be a great doctor, do you know that Sarah?” she asked.

“Yes, I agree. But then, she always had a good example growing up.” I smiled at her, remembering her through the years.

She got ready to leave and looked at me sternly and said, “Don’t try to over do it, you hear me Sarah? If you do, you’re body will regret it!”

I looked at her as innocently as I could, in a ‘what me?’ look and she laughed and pointed her pen at me. “Yes, YOU!” and then she was gone.

I was trying to find out how to turn the TV on when Derek came back. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was looking for a remote or something to turn the TV on.

“Mom,” he laughed, “it’s all in the buttons here on the bed rails!” he told me and pushed one and the TV popped on, and I settled back to watch the morning news. I felt really out of things since I had been gone for 10 days to Italy and then was unconscious for the past 4.

They brought in my breakfast then, what they called nourishing liquids. I eyed the tray suspiciously, thinking back to the wonderful breakfasts Adam and I had shared in Italy. This seemed criminal somehow, expecting me to eat, ugh, pudding and hot tea and really, really thin, hm, cream of wheat maybe, but who could tell for sure? I didn’t like this stuff on a good day, but to have to eat it now seemed criminal.

But I did, I was determined to get the hell out of Dodge, in other words, the hospital. I enjoyed the pudding and applesauce actually, but getting that cream of wheat down was a challenge. I had never liked hot cereals, other than those little flavored oatmeal packets, even as a kid. I also skipped the hot tea, but they brought me some apple juice and that wasn’t too bad. I just had finished by the time the Adam and Lissa arrived.

They both kissed me hello and I eagerly grabbed the bag that Lissa carried, looking through it and nodding approval at what she had brought. All the liquid was already starting to work through me and I told her I needed to pee.

“Good mom, that’s really good,” she told me. “C’mon, I’ll help you up, okay?”

Gee, my own little cheerleader!

Sitting up wasn’t nearly as bad this time as it had been earlier, or maybe I was just more prepared, but soon I was up and walking (with assistance) to the bathroom. Lissa insisted in coming in with me. I rolled my eyes and closed the door—with her in the bathroom. I had to pee into a container that Lissa said was to measure my output, but frankly I didn’t give a damn, I was doing it and that’s all I cared about.

She asked me if I felt up to the shower and I told her yes. Lissa went out and grabbed the bag that had my clothes and stuff in it. There was a stool to sit on in it and I didn’t think I would need it, but was then glad it was there when I did. We got me washed and shampooed and I felt a hundred times better as I came out of the bathroom.

Adam and Derek were chatting and seemed to be getting along well and that pleased me. It didn’t seem stiff or uncomfortable for them and that made me feel better than the shower even. They were discussing ‘football’ British style and ‘football’ American style. We call the British version soccer, which according to Adam alternately irritates and amuses them. Go figure.

I walked slowly back to the bed and then decided to sit in one of the chairs for awhile. Derek got up to give me the recliner he had been sitting in, but I chose a straight-backed chair that was by the windows. I figured it would be easier to get up from since it didn’t lean back. Adams’ chair was near it and he reached over to hold my hand and rub it soothingly.

I had dressed in a pair of turquoise and green plaid flannel pants and a bright turquoise t-shirt. I felt so much better now that I was clean! My hair was drying on its own, which means it will be a curly mess, but that’s alright. Compared to the dirty mess it was, I’ll adore it.

Tammy came back into the room then and was surprised to see me clean and dressed, not to mention sitting in a chair. And then she spotted Adam. I watched her face go from wondering to recognition to shock. Which was better than gushing actually. But she hit that one next.

“Oh my gosh! You look just like Adam Richland, the actor, you know?” she said to him, an excited flush spreading across her face.

I watched Adam the movie star take over and I wondered curiously if Lissa or Derek noticed the difference. He sat up a little straighter and he suddenly oozed charm, smiling brightly and holding out his hand.

“Yes, that’s because I am. And you would be...?”

“T—Tammy,” she finally managed to spit out. She took his proffered hand and shook it for a moment, then quickly withdrew it and stared at it. “What are you doing HERE?”

“Well Tammy, I’m here with Sarah. I hear you have been taking wonderful care of her, so I wish to thank you for that. It’s important to us that she feels better quickly,” he finished, smiling that Adam the movie star smile. It didn’t quite light up his face the way his real smile did. It was charming certainly, but I knew the difference.

Tammy was looking back and forth, from Adam to me and I had a wild urge to giggle. She looked at us, holding hands and I was sure she couldn’t imagine what on earth he saw in me, or how in the world we knew each other. To give her a bit of credit, I looked pretty bad earlier this morning, and I still really wasn’t at my best.

She turned her focus on to me and said, “So you got your shower then?” At my nod of agreement she continued, “Are you feeling nauseous? Breakfast didn’t upset your stomach?”

I struggled to keep from rolling my eyes and prayed she wouldn’t ask anymore personal questions. “Apart from feeling hungry, I’m fine. When can I have some real food?”

“Oh, are you hungry? I could bring you some Jello,” she offered, little miss perky again.

Okay, it’s time for you to go Tammy!
“No, that’s okay, hold the Jello. How about some ice cream?” I bargained.

“That would be okay, if you really want it.” She was looking at me like I didn’t need the damn ice cream and she was starting to piss me off again. She really needs to leave.

Lissa saw that look in my eyes and told Tammy, “Why don’t I walk down to the station with you and grab that for my mom. That way you won’t have to make another trip down here for awhile,” she said, at the same time taking Tammy by the arm and gently leading her out the door.

As soon as the door closed behind them, all three of us started laughing, hard and it made my ribs hurt like hell, but that was okay.

“Goodbye Little Miss Perky!” I said, shaking my head in amusement.

A moment later, Lissa was back with some ice cream, chocolate of course. She handed it to me and looked at Adam and said, “Nice one there Adam. Who was that masked man who snatched you away for a couple of minutes?’

I snorted and almost spit my ice cream out—almost! “Yeah Adam, who was that?” I laughed.

By then Derek had caught on to what we were teasing Adam about and his reply was what made me realize that things really would be okay between those two.

“Give a guy a break, huh?” Derek said, laughing loudly. “She was acting all silly and stuff!”

There was a knock on the door then and we all looked at each other. I shrugged and said, “Come in.”

The door opened slowly and it took me a moment to recognize Jason. He stood there for a minute, staring at us and I wondered what in the world to say.

He didn’t though.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pain and Other Flavors of Angst

Chapter Twenty-Three

Lissa and Derek came back into the room and took in Adam and I laughing and they both seemed happier than when they left to go and check on Cassie. I hoped that meant that Cassie was doing well. I took a spoonful of the ice chips and they felt so heavenly to my parched mouth, it was hard not to dive right into the whole cup.

I held my hand out to Derek and he came and took it, and I held onto his gratefully. He had been the man in my life for so long and this was going to be hard for him. I took in his broad shoulders and military bearing and I felt so proud of this fine man who happened to be my son. I think he instinctively knew that none of the other men had been important to me, not even Jason. And except for Jason, he never even got to know too many of them. Jason was around for 2 years, and they would see a lot of one another on holiday visits and such. I think he liked Jason, but he was always reserved around him.

With Adam, he was picking up totally different vibes and it was confusing him. I think he has an idea that Adam isn’t going anywhere, and he is trying to decide where or if he should draw a line in the sand. He has been my ‘protector’ for 10 years now and has always taken the job pretty seriously. Right now it is kind of like he is standing in shifting sand and he isn’t sure which direction to go. He’s a smart young man and he will figure it out soon enough, but until then, I decided to try and let him know how much I appreciate him.

I took another spoonful of ice and felt its cold wetness in my mouth. It felt wonderful as I let it slide slowly down my throat. I was still thirsty, but it was getting better and I wasn’t feeling nauseous! I noticed it was dark outside and couldn’t remember if it had been light when I woke up.

“How is Cassie,” I asked, eager to hear about her.

“She’s much better since she knows you are awake now, mom, she has been worrying constantly about you. It was hard on her when you didn’t wake up right away; it was hard on all of us. But, she has a great doctor and she really likes him. His name is Doctor Gorman and she calls him Dr. Gorgeous. I think he’s in trouble...” Derek finished, laughing at his ‘Auntie Cassie’”

“Oh Dear!” I exclaimed. “At least she’s not letting it all get to her!” If I haven’t said it before, I admire Cassie’s spirit, I always have. She has the most positive outlook on life of anyone I know. I felt better and knew that she will get though this, probably better than I will get through mine, because if attitude has anything to do with it, she’s got me beat already.

I had only been awake for about an hour and I realized I was tired again, and I yawned, a huge jaw-popping yawn that I couldn’t hide. Lissa and Adam looked at each other and Lissa said, “Adam, why don’t I take you to moms house and we’ll sleep for awhile and get cleaned up before we come back. Mom, Derek wants to stay with you since he has to leave tomorrow.”

It’s amazing that they had it all worked out. Beforehand. “Okay, that works for me, but Derek, you could be staying in a nice bed instead of listening to me snore!” I joked.

Adam immediately said, “You don’t snore!” and both kids looked at him, then at me, eyes open wide.

What did they think, that he followed me here because we were just buds?
Derek squeezed my hand and told me, looking pointedly at Adam, that it didn’t matter whether I snored or not, he was NOT leaving!

Lissa came over to me and kissed me on my cheek. I know she really wanted to be able to hug me, but that was out of the question for awhile. “I love you Mom. Thank God you are okay! I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” She walked to the door and said, “Hey Derek, come out with me for a minute.”

Derek just stared at her, refusing to budge from my bedside. He looked down at me and then Adam and then back to Lissa who was standing there in the doorway, waiting for him.

“Anytime Derek,” she said, impatience creeping into her voice. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Derek is actually two years older than Lissa.

He knew he was outgunned here though and bent over and whispered in my ear,” I’ll be right back Mom!” and followed Lissa out the door. She promptly closed it behind them, leaving Adam and I alone for a few minutes at least. We hoped...

He perched carefully on the edge of my bed and softly caressed my face, running his thumb over my cheek and then my lips. His mouth followed suit, not in any way sexual, but a purely loving gesture that told me so much about how he felt.

“So, I’m going to be spending the night in your bed... without you I take it?” he teased me.

“Apparently so cowboy! Don’t get too rough and rowdy there. It’s only a poor queen-size bed, not those monstrous things we got used to!” I did my best to smile at him, but I was fighting the urge to yawn and I didn’t want to do that with him so close. He was looking at me with his chocolate brown eyes, huge and perhaps a bit teary. I saw him swallow quickly and his mouth opened for just a moment, then closed as he swallowed again.

“It’s only for a little while Adam, then I’ll be home,” I told him softly. I knew it was going to be hard for him there, being in my home without me. “Hey, on the bright side you can explore and find out all my secrets,” I teased.

He looked appalled. “I would never...” he started and then I interrupted him.

“Hold on, I was teasing, okay. But, please make yourself at home, feel comfortable there. I love the fact that you are there, with or without me.”

He nodded solemnly and leaned over to kiss me tenderly, slowly. His mouth started to open to say something, but Derek came back in then, so Adam just smiled and kissed me one more time briefly and said, “I’ll see you in the morning love, sleep well.” And then he was gone.

“Well Derek, it’s you and me, but I don’t think I’m very good company. How are you going to sleep here anyway?” I asked him. There was no other bed in the room.

He pointed to a chair he had been sitting in earlier. “It’s a recliner and it’s not too uncomfortable. I slept in it last night and it’ll be fine for tonight too.”

I looked at this wonderful young man that was standing before me, tall, neatly cut blond hair and a muscular build thanks to army life and physical training every morning. He was going to be a wonderful father someday and like many prospective grand parents, I could hardly wait!

I yawned again as the nurse came in to check me out. Now that I was awake they took that irritating automatic blood pressure cuff off of me and that was wonderful. I asked him if I had any limitations because of my ribs, for sleeping that is.

“I generally sleep on my stomach or my side,” I told him hopefully.

He laughed a bit and said, “You probably won’t want to for awhile! Even though your ribs aren’t broken, they are going to be tender. Try to take it easy moving around. If you can stand to sleep on your ribs, it’ll be fine. I’m going to give you the Toradol now and that should help some,” he promised.

I groaned at that, I hated sleeping on my back. “Alright, I’ll try it on my back. I don’t know how much I’ll move around though, I hate sleeping on my back and it always hurts me when I do.” I told him, not quite managing to hide the petulance in my voice. I watched him inserting the syringe of Toradol into the IV tubing and almost immediately I felt better. He started to add something else as well and I asked him what that was?

He just smiled and patted my arm. “That was some Compazine, in case you get nauseous from the Toradol. Doesn’t happen often, but just in case. How’s your pain now, are you doing okay? Do you need anything else right now?”

“No, I’m okay. Can I lay the bed back a little bit now, or is that a major production?” I asked, and I heard a cranky tone in my voice. Okay, I’m acting childish and I shouldn’t be taking it out on this nice young man, he doesn’t deserve it. “I’m sorry; I’m just tired I guess.”

“It’s okay, you’ve been through a lot. But you will be feeling better soon, I promise! And yes, you can move the bed however you like. Do you need some more ice chips?”

“I’d really like something to eat,” I told him. Hm, Adam must have rubbed off on me!

“Sorry, nothing by mouth until tomorrow, if you do well tonight that is. If you don’t need anything else, I’ll leave you now so you can get some sleep.” He looked over at Derek and said, “Do you know where the spare blankets and pillows are?”

At Derek’s nod, he turned and left then, leaving Derek and I alone. As much as I wanted to talk with my son, I was more tired. I pushed the button and laid the bed back some and hoped it would be comfortable enough for me to get some rest.

Derek came over and messed with my pillows and stuff, fussing over me, as I used to do for him when he was a little boy and sick. I asked him if he knew how to turn off the light that was directly over the bed and he did that, throwing the room into darkness except for the bathroom light which was on, casting shadows onto the floor. The door was closed and it was really pretty quiet. Derek held my hand and I heard him yawn too. I smiled in the darkness and wanted to be able to kiss him goodnight and tell him to sleep tight, just as I had when he was a kid.

I laughed suddenly then, remembering another time in his childhood.

“Mom, are you laughing?” he asked, not sure what that sound was I guess and I couldn’t tell if it was the darkness or my hoarse voice that confused him.

“Yes. I was just remembering when you were a little boy and I would tell you the sleep tight thing, and then I thought about the phase you went through of your dad and I having to check and double check the closet and under the bed and everywhere else for monsters! That went on for months and we thought you would never grow out of it.” I reached over to find his hand and squeezed it, then said, “You may be an adult now Derek, but to me you will always be that little boy. I love you as much now as I did then and I can’t imagine my life without you. You have been the man in my life for so long now, always taking responsibility when needed and taking care of me. Thank you so much for that Son.”

“But I’m not the man in your life any longer am I Mom?”

“No Derek, you’re the man in Pam’s life now, and you’re doing a wonderful job at it.” I answered him.

“What about Adam Mom? Do you really think he is the guy for you? I mean, the whole Mr. Hollywood thing, I just don’t know about all that.”

“Has he acted like Mr. Hollywood Derek?”

“No, not really, it’s just that, well, that’s who he is,” he finished and I could hear distrust in his voice and almost a tone of disrespect.

“No Derek, that’s not who he is.” I felt growing anger now. “After you have gotten to know him, then you can form an opinion about him, but for now you’ll just have to wait and see and maybe just trust me a little bit,” I said, my voice tight and irritated.

It was quiet for a few minutes while we both thought over our conversation. I was disappointed at Derek’s attitude, and yet he was doing what he always tried to do which is to protect me. What bothered me the most was that he seemed to have made the decision that Adam was bad, just because of who he is and that isn’t like something Derek usually does.

“Mom, I’m sorry. He just, I just... he was just so damned confident when he came in. I mean, here Lissa and I had been sitting here with you and here he came, acting like he had every right to be here.”

I smiled a bit. “Acting like a man who is worried silly about a woman he cares about maybe?”

“Yeah, but I mean, we didn’t know him from, well, Adam! Aunt Cassie had told us you met him, but she didn’t say that you guys were like, in love or anything.”

“Derek, I don’t know for sure about the ‘in love’ part, but we care about each other a lot. We hope very much to make this relationship work. And yes, we know it won’t be easy Derek. He knows about my past and as far as his life goes, we’ll just have to take it as it comes. I only know that I want this to work, very, very much son. And I would be happier knowing that you and Lissa are happy for me and will give Adam a chance. He is an astonishingly good man Derek, I promise you.” I yawned again in the dark and since yawns are always catching, I heard Derek following with one of his own.

“Pam is going to go crazy you know?” he said and I could tell he was smiling.

“Yeah, I know.” I thought about my lovely daughter-in-law with a grin. She loves Adams’ movies. “Have you told her yet?”

“No, I wanted to make sure he didn’t have the wrong room or something,” he told me and I heard a good-natured snicker in his voice. And another yawn.

“Derek, will you do something for me, and not be upset about it?” I asked him with an idea in mind.

“Okay. I bet it has something to do with Adam, huh?”

“Yes. Will you dial my phone number for me and then give me a few minutes alone to talk to Adam, please?”

“You got it. Mom, I’m sorry I’ve been kind of an ass about him, but I promise I’ll try to give him a chance, okay?”

“That’s all I can ask Derek. By the way, Adam would call it being a ‘prat’!” I heard him trying to punch in the phone number in the near-dark and when he had it, he handed the phone to me. “Thanks,” I told him as he was heading out the door.

The phone rang a couple of times and then Lissa answered it. “Hi sweetie. Is Adam still awake?”

“Um, I think so. I just heard him get out of the shower a couple of minutes ago. Mom, I like him, I really do. Have you talked with Derek?”

“Yes, we just did that and he said he’ll give Adam a chance. That’s all I can ask for. Lissa, thank you for helping Adam. It means a lot to me.”

“I know. I love you Mom and I’m so happy you are going to be fine. Adam is too. He was so scared when he got here.” She giggled a little bit then said, “When Auntie Cassie first told me about him, I could have died! I couldn’t imagine you with a movie star. You just have never liked anyone who wasn’t, I don’t know, maybe the word is genuine. But he really is so nice, you know? Of course you know, but I approve!”

“Thanks Lissa.”

I heard her knocking on the door and Adams muffled voice asking her what she needed. She told him I was on the phone and to pick up the extension in the bedroom and then I heard a ‘click’ as he did, then Lissa hanging up.

“Hi Bella,” he said, his voice warm and sexy. “I miss you.”

I smiled at his calling me Bella. I brought back wonderful memories and I imagined him then, in my room, in my house. “I miss you too. That’s why I’m calling. I keep picturing you there in my bedroom, lying in my bed. It makes me feel, I don’t know, like it will all be okay, you know?”

“Um hm, I do indeed. It will be better when you are here with me, but for now I am at least happy to be in your home. And are you aware you have a most erotic painting on your wall. It’s quite—stimulating!”

I laughed because he was looking at the Georgia O’Keeffe painting called Grey Line, otherwise known as the ‘Pussy Picture’ because it looks amazingly like the folds of a vagina. I adore it, the colors in it actually.

“Well, have fun ‘stimulating’ then. I can’t wait to see you in the morning,” I got out before another huge yawn sneaked out of my mouth.

Adam laughed and said, “Goodnight love. Until tomorrow, I hope you have sweet dreams!”

“Goodnight to you too Adam,” I told him and tried to find the phone cradle in the dark. I finally felt the phone fit in it properly and sighed. I love it when he calls me ‘Bella’. It reminds me of our trip. I hope I dream about that I thought before drifting off to sleep.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Twists of Fate

Chapter Twenty-Two

What finally woke me was the blood pressure cuff fastened around my arm. I felt it pump up tightly, and then I heard beeping noises and a flat tone, then the cuff loosened up with a hissing sound.

I laid there with my eyes closed for a few minutes, trying to remember what had happened. I was obviously in a hospital, judging from the beeps and the blood pressure cuff. I could also hear some other kind of monitor, softly beeping, maybe in keeping with my heartbeat.

So I’m not dead. I didn’t imagine they need blood pressure cuffs in the other places, heaven or hell that is.
I started to remember the crash then, the car spinning and pitching over the embankment. Luckily we were near an exit, so the drop wasn’t bad, down the muddy sides of the embankment rather than a steep fall down to the pavement below.

I remember the car rolling over and over and feeling crushed by that damn airbag for a moment and then I unreasonably felt grateful for it; I might not be here if not for it.

And then I remembered Cassie. How was she? Was she okay?

Adam. Waiting for me to call. My eyes popped open then and looked at the room.

My daughter Lissa was looking at the monitors that were hooked up to me. My budding doctor probably saw something in those inscrutable readings when I woke up. I was so proud of her, but she looked haggard and drawn. Her dark blonde hair was pulled back into her usual no-fuss pony tail and her green eyes were blood-shot and weary.

“Mom, you’re awake!” she said, starting to cry with relief. Derek was beside me then too, reaching for my hand and in his best ‘man of the house’ voice, telling me that I would be okay; it was all going to be okay. Derek looked just as tired as his sister, but I could see how he was trying to keep himself steady and strong; the epitome of the man of the house. Almost 10 inches taller than Lissa’s 5’3 inches he towered over her as he wrapped his arm across her shoulders for support.

“Cassie,” I whispered. My throat was extremely dry and felt raspy.

“She’s alive mom, don’t worry,” Lissa told me, pushing the call button for the nurse.

“She’s okay?” I asked, needing the reassurance. Lissa and Derek just looked at each other wordlessly, which made me start worrying again.

I heard footsteps coming into the room then. I cautiously turned my head toward them, realizing that my neck hurt, I think everything hurt actually. I expected to see nurses or maybe even doctors coming into the room. Instead I saw Adam!

“Adam,” I sobbed, tears instantly rushing down my face. “Oh Adam.”

“It’s alright love, I’m here,” he told me, holding tightly to my hand, rubbing it gently in between his own. His hands felt warm and comforting against my own chilled ones. I looked at Lissa and Derek then, and tried to smile. They were watching what was happening between Adam and me, and Lissa was smiling. Derek wasn’t.

A nurse came in then and Lissa quickly filled him in on what was happening. He used his cell phone to call the resident doctor, who said she would be right here.

The nurse was busy taking my temperature and charting my vital signs when the doctor came in. She greeted me perfunctorily before looking at the chart. I couldn’t help but briefly picture Lissa doing these same things.

She will be such a good doctor someday. Just hopefully a little friendlier than this one!

Neither the nurse nor the doctor paid any attention at all to Adam, which seemed strange to me. It’s almost like they didn’t recognize him or were used to him or something.

“Ms. Marcus, I’m Dr. Morrison,” the doctor was saying, “how are we feeling?”

“I don’t know how ‘we’ are feeling but I feel like hell to be honest.”

I saw Adam and Lissa both try to hide their smiles at this, but Derek let out a huge laugh. He continued to smile from ear to ear looking from the doctor to me as the doctor asked me more questions. Derek always likes it when someone fights back. That’s probably why he was a soldier. He believes in standing up for yourself and anything else you believe in. I am so proud of him and sometimes I wonder how on earth I managed to have such an awesome son.

“Maybe you would you be more comfortable Ms. Marcus with fewer people in the room,” she suggested, looking around the room.

“No, I want them all here. They all have the right to hear whatever you are going to say.” I wondered if it was something bad. I couldn’t decide if that is why she wanted to talk to me alone, to give me bad news. But it didn’t matter, I would be better off with all three of them with me.

“Ms. Marcus, you have severely bruised your ribs. However they will heal well with time, you are extremely lucky.”


“You also have a 3 and ½ inch fractured skull. There has been no internal bleeding or hemorrhaging though which is very good. There was some slight swelling in the Parietal lobe of your brain, which is not unexpected. The Parietal lobe controls your body by interpreting the sensory information from various parts of your body. We will be testing you extensively for reaction and movement. However, the swelling has steadily decreased and we’ll do another CT scan soon, but I’m sure it is mending nicely. The body is often the best caretaker of itself and the 4 days you have been unconscious have helped you to rest and heal.

“4 days?” I had been unconscious for 4 days? My head was spinning, from the shock rather than the accident. I looked at Lissa, Derek and Adam then and they all looked as if they had been here for a long time. Oh God, I couldn’t believe this.

“Yes, 4 days. Now, let’s do some checks, okay?” she said, lifting the sheet from over my feet. I felt a prick on my foot and my foot kicked reflexively. “That’s good. Now the other one.”

I couldn’t get it out of my head. 4 days I had been here. How long had Adam been here and how did he even find me?

I followed the doctors instructions, wiggling my toes and even bending my legs a little bit, but that really made my chest hurt. But everything seemed to be in working order, and I was grateful for that.

“How is your pain Ms. Marcus?”

“It hurts but it isn’t too bad really. I’d love some ibuprofen,” I told her hopefully.

‘We can’t do that yet, not until you can keep food down. Are you nauseous?”

“I was when I first woke up, but not now. I’m very thirsty though. Can I have some water?”

I watched a look of consternation pass over Dr. Morrison’s face. I had obviously struck out again.

“You can have some ice chips, that will help some I’m sure. For your pain I’m going to give you some Toradol. It will go into your IV bag and should help you have a comfortable night.”

“Is Toradol a narcotic? I hate how narcotics make me feel; all fuzzy-headed and out of control.”

“No, Toradol is a powerful NSAID analgesic; it will not make your head feel fuzzy, I promise. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No, I think I’ll be fine. But I really want those ice chips! And can we sit this bed up a little bit. I think I’ll find that a little more comfortable.”

At Dr. Morrison’s nod, the nurse pushed the button to raise the head of the bed up. When it had risen about 12 inches or so, he paused and asked me how that felt?

“It feels fine. It’s good to be upright a bit. Thanks so much.”

“Alright Ms. Marcus. Let us know if you need anything else.” Dr. Morrison finished making notes in the chart and told the nurse to get me some ice chips and they left the room, still conversing.

I watched them go silently, still amazed. But I was okay and that felt wonderful. Then I remembered Cassie again and asked about her.

Lissa picked up my hand, and that scared me. Adam was standing against the wall, one foot resting behind him on the wall and he was watching Lissa. Derek went over and looked out the window.

“Mom, Cassie’s seat belt came undone. We don’t know if she didn’t click it right when she fastened it or if it was a fluke, but it came loose and she was tossed around inside the car,” Lissa told me. I was just looking at her, dreading what she might say next; afraid she would tell me that Cassie was dead. I looked over at Adam and held my other hand out to him and he immediately came and took it and squeezed it gently.

“Is... is she okay?” Please let her be okay God, please!

“Well, she probably will be. She has a spinal cord injury.”

At that, I cried out. “No, please no, she was only helping me!” I cried in earnest then, imagining my best friend, so full of life, being hurt so badly.

“She hasn’t broken her back mom, only damaged it. Her injury is called Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury. That means her spinal cord is only traumatized, not broken or permanently damaged. She is incredibly lucky. Right now she is experiencing paralysis but it could heal well on it’s on in time. She is in a special bed that decompresses the spinal column and allows it to heal without compression. It’s a new therapy that is working remarkably well. She has the best spinal doctor in the mid-west working on her and her chances of recovering the use of her legs is good. Better than good actually.

“I want to see her, please?” I asked.

“Not yet. In case you have forgotten, you’re not moving around too well yourself right now. Give it a day or so, when it’s easier to get you in and out of a wheelchair, okay?” Lissa told me. She was using what I imagined to be her ‘doctor’ tone, trying to placate me as if I were a child.

“A wheelchair? I don’t want to use a wheelchair.”

“It’s only for a short time, until you’re strong enough to move around on your own,” Adam interjected, trying to smile hopefully at me. At that point I vowed to myself that I would be strong right away. I didn’t want to be hauled around in a wheelchair!

I looked from Adam to Lissa. Derek came back over to stand by the bed. I imagine this is really hard on Lissa and Derek too. Cassie was their second mother, and was always there for them. During the divorce, she wiped their tears away as often as mine.

“How long do I have to stay in the hospital?”

“Probably not too long mom, maybe another couple days to make sure you aren’t having any problems. Maybe sooner, who knows?”

“Okay. Have you seen Cassie? Is she awake?”

“Yeah, she has been awake almost from the start. She wants to come see you in fact. She even tried to bribe the staff to wheel her and her fancy bed in here. In fact, I’m going to tell her you are awake now. Hey Derek, why don’t you come with me?” Lissa said, motioning Derek to follow her. He just stared at her for a moment, then after casting an inscrutable look that could have been taken for a frown at Adam, followed her out of the room.

Adam pulled a chair up next to my bed, but before he sat down he leaned over and very lightly kissed me. “Hi,” he whispered.

“Hi. I can’t believe you’re here Adam. How did you find out?”

“Now that is an interesting story," he said, settling back into the chair and getting comfortable. Well, as comfortable as you can be in one of those stiff looking hospital chairs anyway.

He still held my hand and I squeezed his tightly. I didn’t want to ever let go. He returned my squeeze and gave me that intense look of his and I saw how tired he looked—his eyes had dark shadows under them and he looked very pale. Of course, I didn’t imagine I looked too good either I thought with a grim smile.

“I waited for you to call and when you didn’t I was frantic Sarah. Part of me, a small part wondered if you were going to. But I was determined to not let you go that easily. So, I took my flight home and when I still didn’t have a message from you, I started calling your numbers; your cell, home and then finally your job. They acted rather strangely when I asked about you and I knew then that something was wrong,” he told me quietly. With his free hand he was combing through his tousled hair absent-mindedly.

“I tried calling the hospitals in this area, but got nowhere. So, I did the only thing I could think of.”

“You hopped on a plane and came to investigate for yourself?” I asked.

“Not quite—I did something better. I called Sunni, who was already in Dallas. Within an hour she called me back with all the details. Turns out her brother is a cop in Ft. Worth and has a buddy here in Wichita. I was on a plane first thing yesterday morning and I’ve been here ever since. Your kids were both already here by then.” he finished.

“Sunni to the rescue—again,” I said, thinking about that for a moment. “She is certainly a big help. Send her some flowers or something nice, okay?”

“You got it. Cassie helped a lot too, where I am concerned. She had told Lissa and Derek about me, so at least that wasn’t too awkward when I got here. I had envisioned some problems, what with trying to explain why on earth I was here to see you, frantic and half out of my mind with worry. Cassie figured that you probably had my number, but Lissa couldn’t find it anywhere. However, they couldn’t find your purse after the accident and they figured that was where it was. Lissa did go to your house and got my number off your caller id. By the time she had called me though, I was already on the way here. She’s, uh, she’s been great Sarah,” he laughed. “I think I need to grow a bit on Derek though!”

I grinned as much as my aching face would allow and said, “Yes, he’s my watchdog. He doesn’t back down easily, so you are probably in for a rough ride for awhile. I’ll talk with him soon though and that may help.”

Adam leaned forward in the chair and looked me straight in the eye then. I wondered how I looked and I imagined it was bad. My hand strayed up to my head, expecting to find it swathed in bandages, but it wasn’t. Adam bent over and kissed my hand. “You look perfect to me.”

My eyes smiled my gratitude to him.

“Sarah, I was scared to death that I had lost you, one way or the other. I...I, uh, you can’t imagine how relieved I am that you are okay, that you will be okay. Every minute I sat there wondering what had happened, I died a little bit more. At first I felt betrayed, outraged that you would just so callously walk away, after everything you said to me.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but Adam reached across and gently laid his fingers across my lips and shook his head. “Let me finish, please. By the time I got on my flight, I already knew that you hadn’t done that Sarah. I knew in my heart, knew that something must be wrong. That you wouldn’t do that, I just knew it somehow,” he told me, smiling tiredly.

“So you found me. Thank you Adam. You’re being here means so much to me.” I paused for a moment to collect my thoughts. “The flight home was horrible, every mile took me farther away from you. I slept a lot on the way to Atlanta, but the rest of the time my heart was breaking. I need you in my life—I want you in my life.” My eyes were shining brightly and this time it wasn’t from sad tears, it was because I was so incredibly happy.

I swallowed the huge lump that was in my throat then, and worked really hard to keep my tears at bay—I didn’t want Adam to think they were because I was unhappy. I remembered the boys then and asked Adam about them.

“They’re fine. I’ll get back in a week or so for the visit, and they can come see me on weekends in Dallas. They understood that I needed to be here, with you.”

“I don’t quite understand that Adam. They’re kids and they’re young, I’m sure they miss you terribly. I am so sorry to keep you from being with them. Lissa and Derek are here, I’m fine and you should go back to them now.”

“Sarah, Tamara and I have always talked to them about our relationship and the fact that we will each have other partners. Tamara already does, so even though they are young, they understand how this works. They don’t view it as losing me, or you getting more time with me. They know that if I am happy, it will be better for them. They remember how it was with Tamara and me when we weren’t happy. It will be fine, I promise you. And, Derek needs to get back to Ft. Bliss tomorrow, and I don’t know for sure how long Lissa can be away from Kansas City, but I don’t imagine it can be too much longer. You will need me here,” he informed me.

It amazed me that since yesterday morning he had gotten all this information, about my kids and such. He fits in so well. “You look tired Adam and I imagine that the hospital food is horrible. Have you been to my house yet?”

“Lissa gave me a key, but no, I haven’t been. I wanted to be here when you woke up,” he said with a smile and those endearing dimples did more for me than anything else.

“I’m awake now; get her to take you there to rest, okay?”

“No need, I got a rental car already.”

I started giggling and it turned into a real laugh. Adam was staring at me as if I had gone mad when Lissa and Derek walked in, clearly wondering what was going on.

“I bet it’s not a BMW Z4!”

“So it isn’t,” he answered. “It’s a Mustang!”

“You have a need for speed Adam Richland. Better watch it though; our Kansas cops are sticklers for the speed limit!”

“No problem, I’ll get Sunni’s brother to fix my tickets for me, it’s a breeze,” he laughed, snapping his fingers for emphasis.

The nurse popped back in then with the ice chips, which I eagerly took.

“Go slowly on them, I promise you it will not feel good it you throw them up!” he told me.

I looked at Lissa and Derek then and asked them how Cassie was. They’re mood seemed a little lighter and I hoped that is because they had good news.