As we got into the car, instinct had us cautiously looking around for any signs of someone ‘lurking’ around the neighborhood, but we couldn’t see anything or anyone that looked suspicious or out of place. It felt weird though, knowing that someone might be watching us or following us. Adam seemed much more relaxed now and didn’t seem to be concerned in the slightest about being followed.
After watching him for a few minutes, I finally asked, “Doesn’t it make you feel weird knowing that someone might be out there, watching us?”
He cast me a sideways look, at least I think he did but it was difficult to tell with the sunglasses on. “Love, it is an all too often occurrence to me. I have been chased through busy streets by paparazzi on motorbikes trying to get pictures. This somehow doesn’t seem all that different.” I watched his long, beautiful fingers gripping the steering wheel and prepare to make a turn. His hands are so expressive when he talks and everything he does with them seems to show that. Maybe it’s some trait that actors build, I’m not sure but it’s not like they are always on display so I really don’t think so. When he touches me, they are always tender and confident, never tentative, never rough. So when I watch him do even the most mundane sort of things, I can’t help but think about those hands doing other things. And those thoughts get me all stirred up and in trouble.
A thought suddenly occurred to me and I said to Adam, “Hey, I want to make a stop on the way. I’m sure Cassie needs a few things, especially if she is up and moving about.”
“Okay, where do you want to go?”
“Head north, up Rock Road. I want to run into Bath and Body Works. Cass needs some pampering I believe!”
It didn’t take us long to make the detour and I bought Cass a whole basket of personal items, lotions and body washes, hair care products, brushes, the whole nine yards. Everything she probably hasn’t had since she was in the hospital. I had them put a huge bow on it and then started to pick it up and realized it was a bit too heavy for me.
“Uh, Ad--, uh could you help me?” I stammered, almost using Adams name. It might have been okay, but I don’t want to chance it.
“Sure thing,” he answered in that lazy southern drawl voice he had teased me with before. He picked up the basket and frowned for a moment before heading out the door with it.
I was giggling like mad, at the southern drawl of course. I wondered if I bought him a cowboy hat and some chaps if I could really have some fun. He looked at me and shook his head, probably thinking something like, silly woman. Damn! How does he always know what I’m thinking?
“Uh love, are you aware of just how heavy this is? Cassie cannot possibly pick it up on her own you know,” he told me as he was trying to get the basket into the back seat of the Mustang.
“I know, I mean I realize that now Adam. But I know she needs those things, I just didn’t think about how heavy they would all be together. Sorry…” I smiled at him in my best, ‘I’m so bad’ pouty smile, lower lip sticking out, eyes open wide, and batting my eyelashes.
He had the audacity to roll his eyes at that and started laughing uproariously. “Sarah, it’s a good thing you don’t act for a living, because you would definitely would be one of the ‘out of work’ kind!”
We were in the car now, fastening our seat belts in preparation to leave. I gave him the line he gave me about the chopsticks. “I have many talents, this just doesn’t happen to be one of them! Shall I demonstrate some of the others for you?” I jested.
I watched his face change from laughter to something akin to passionate realization. It played upon his handsome features like watching a cloud travel across the sun and the change was dramatic. I saw him swallow hard a couple of times and he cleared his throat before speaking.
“I think I have a pretty good idea of what some of the others are and I would be most happy for you to share them all—later!” he said in a voice little louder than a whisper and I decided I had tormented him enough—for now that is!
“So Adam,” I asked unexpectedly, “Just how does Rachel Tomlinson know your birthday?”
We were at a stop light then and Adam turned his head to look at me. Unfortunately I hadn’t really thought this whole thing out very well—with the sunglasses on I couldn’t see his eyes reacting to my question. I felt that nasty little character jealousy inhabiting my heart again and I didn’t like this at all. No, not at all!
“Obviously you have never been a fan of the tabloids, have you?” The light changed and he focused his attention back on the road and traffic as we started moving again.
“No, can’t say that I have ever been. But they must have had the scoop I guess?” I tried to keep my voice light and fun, but I’m really starting to have a hard time with this. How on earth am I going to react the next time he kisses one of those gorgeous women in a movie? Will my head and heart understand and accept that it’s only a movie, his job?
“Years ago, before Tamara and I married I dated Rachel—briefly. I mean only for about 5 weeks, which was certainly long enough for me to know we weren’t at all compatible. We had actually been good friends for years before that as we had started our acting careers about the same time. You run into lots of hopeful actors at casting calls and such and it draws you together, to a certain extent. I was in California with Penny then and so Rachel and I were just friends. Our lives got very busy and when we ran into one another a few years later we started going out. She didn’t seem to be the same person I had known all those years ago and so I ended it. Of course, the tabloids made a big deal out of it, that I had jilted her and broke her heart. Please! That was the farthest thing from the truth. She was bored to death with me—I’m not enough of a ‘Hollywood’ kind of guy to suit her; I like my life quiet and she doesn’t. But during those five weeks, I had my birthday. It never actually occurred to me that she would have remembered it, but in England, she brought me a bottle of champagne and wanted to celebrate. I turned her down and for a few days she was pretty nasty, but eventually got over it I guess.”
“Penny was the girl you lived with? I don’t ever remember you mentioning her name, or maybe I just forgot. But, Rachel is a scorned lover, huh? They can certainly be nasty,” I said, thinking about the confrontation between Jason and me yesterday.
“Yes, Penny was her name. I think Rachel was just bored in England and wanted something to liven things up. She hasn’t lived there for many years, being a Hollywood kind of lass. And I don’t think she has any family either, I think she had a sister that died years ago, but I never met her.”
We were pulling into the parking lot at the hospital then and Adam was focused on finding a parking place. I thought about Rachel; I had met her on the set in Italy. She seemed okay, although we didn’t really talk much, she was preoccupied with the scene they were working on. Truthfully, she had pretty much kept to herself from what I witnessed.
Adam parked the car and we got out. He had another struggle getting the basket out of the backseat and I could see he was a little frustrated with it, but was still in a surprisingly good humor about it, laughing when it finally slid free. He picked it up with a mock groan and bent over to hobble with it, like an old man might.
He had me laughing so hard my ribs were hurting, but it was so worth it. I loved his childlike ability to have fun. I know that I had totally forgotten that life can still be fun, even at age 45. He brought that ability out in me and at times it seemed like he was helping me to find myself again.
He grabbed my hand with his free one and we started the long walk into the hospital and followed the hallways to the right elevators to get to the right building. What a trek!
When we got to Cassie’s room her door was closed all the way, so I lightly knocked on it. I heard her voice tell us to come in, so I slowly pushed the door open and we went in.
Dr. Gorman was there, as was a nurse and the most magnificent thing was that Cass was sitting up! Well, sort of anyway. She was in a regular hospital bed and the head of the bed was raised a good foot or so. Her face was alive and radiant, whether from the fact that she was sitting up or from the good doctor, I wasn’t sure. But it was incredible to see.
“Hey Cass, are we interrupting?” I asked, looking at Dr. Gorman as well. We didn’t want to interrupt her examination or anything.
“No-no, you’re just in time. Look at me, I’m not flat anymore. And it isn’t hurting, Sarah, it isn’t hurting!” she told me, a triumphant ring in her voice. Dr. Gorman and the nurse were standing there, smiling at her and beaming. I thought things must be really good!
“Oh Cass, I’m so happy for you!” I told her, wiping a tear hastily away from my eye. This was the best news I could have gotten. “We brought you a few things you may need soon. Adam, set the basket down on the tray table, please?”
Adam kind of chuckled and looked at the table, which was setting next to her bed. He looked at me with a question in his eyes and I know he was wondering it the tray table would hold it. I shrugged and said, “Go ahead and give it a try.”
He sat the basket up there, but even with Cass sitting up as she was it was still a bit too high. The nurse came over and lowered the table as much as it would go, but it was still too high for Cass to really see into the basket. Dr. Gorman spoke up then.
“Cassie, we can sit you up a little bit more, if you think you can handle it. Do you?”
“Yes, or at least I want to try!”
The nurse pushed the button and moved the bed up a few more inches and Dr. Gorman nodded his head and said “That’s enough!” She still wasn’t quite sitting upright, but she wasn’t too far from it.
“How does that feel Cassie?” he asked her, watching her face for signs of pain or stress.
She was breathing slow and deeply, trying to adjust to the movement. After a minute or so she said, “It feels okay. I don’t know how long I can handle it, but it doesn’t hurt.”
Dr. Gorman made a note in her chart and then closed it with a crisp click. “Okay then, no more than 30 minutes at this height. You can go back down to the first level and stay like that as long as you want, okay? We’ll leave now, but Karen (who must have been the nurse) will come back in a half hour to move the bed down again. If it gets too uncomfortable before then, let her know, okay?”
Cassie nodded at him and smiled. It totally lit her face up and I realized how much I missed that smile. Dr. Gorman nodded his head at Adam and I as he and the nurse left the room and closed the door.
“Well, well, look at you Mr. Hollywood,” Cassie chided good-naturedly. “I almost didn’t recognize you, except that since you arrived with this one,” she said, pointing her thumb at me,”I knew it had to be you!”
Adam took his sunglasses off, but left the hat on, before pulling a couple of chairs around to the side of the bed so we could sit down. He put my chair very close to the tray table so I could help Cass dig through it before bestowing on her his very best dimple smile.
Cassie exuded happiness at that smile and I knew she had already figured out the differences of Adams smiles and I was delighted about that. I bent over and kissed her on the cheek and her eyes were sparkling brightly. I could see that it was partly because of her happiness and partly because there was a bare shimmer of tears there and I knew they were tears of joy, not sadness. I loved seeing the sparkle in her eyes; each day seemed to bring my Cassie back a bit closer to us. She has handled all this remarkably well and I was so proud of her!
She looked over at the basket of goodies and I saw excitement renewed in those grass green eyes. They opened wide, like a child’s eye looking at the Christmas tree and I was so happy I had brought this with us.
“I’ll have you know Cass that I built muscles carrying this up to you. Sarah was adamant about the fact that you needed all of this,” Adam told her, grinning from ear to ear.
At Cassie’s delighted “Ooh”, I pushed the tray table as near to her as I could so she could get a good idea of what all was in there. She poked around and moved things until she had seen most of what was in there, and then started to pull things out to sniff.
“Oh Sarah,” she said, excitement bubbling over, “Thank you so much. I’ll finally smell good again and I can’t wait to actually take a real bath and wash my hair. And lotion, my skin is so dry, that is the best part!”
She pulled a bottle of Magnolia scented lotion out of the basket and opened it, deeply inhaling its fragrance. “Oh, this is heavenly,” she said, pouring some into her palm. She rubbed the lotion onto her hands and arms, massaging it in and her face held a blissful look as she did that.
“Sarah and Adam, thank you so much! This means so much to me!” She found a tube of lip balm and opened it and sniffed the vanilla fragrance before spreading it over her lips. “Oh yes, yes! This is almost better than sex!” she laughed. “At least right now!”
I laughed too, but Adam had a shocked look on his face. I wasn’t sure if we embarrassed him or what.
One of the items in the basket was a large hand mirror, which Cassie picked up with some trepidation. “Do I want to look?” she asked me, a look of dread on her face.
I grabbed her hand and squeezed it for a moment before speaking. I looked at her face which had grown thinner and her grass green eyes that were a bit shadowed and said, “Cass, you look fine. A little bedraggled maybe, but that’s to be expected. And nothing that a long hot shower won’t cure…”
She slowly held the mirror up, but kept her eyes closed for a moment, as if dreading what she would see. She opened her eyes slowly and looked into the mirror, staring into it solemnly. Huge green eyes looked into my own and blinked back tears.
“I can’t believe that I look so…normal, I guess. I don’t really look much different, do I?”
“No you don’t,” I told her, smiling at her in reassurance.
“I feel so different Sarah, like I’m not the same person at all anymore, you know? I don’t know if that’s good or bad, you know?”
“In some ways you aren’t Cass, neither of us are. You’ve been through a life-altering situation, how could you NOT be different?” I paused for a moment, thinking over what to say to her, how to say it. “Cassie, I think that what we, especially you, have been through has made us stronger, better people. A bit more compassionate and caring and for me, patient, maybe,” I said, shrugging my shoulders while wearing a grin plastered upon my face. “The point is I guess, what I’m trying to say, and not very well is that it’s our choice what we take away from all this. We can choose to use the new attributes to our benefit or we can just think about how bad it has been. This whole experience has brought me a greater understanding of myself and what I want,” I told her, smiling at Adam as I said that. “I might not have been so willing to take a chance, you know? Of course you know, me I mean. It scared me, on an emotional level. It showed me what and who is most important in my life, worth fighting for, you know?”
“I feel like that too Sarah, but I still feel unable to take charge of anything and that is so frustrating to me. I hate only being allowed these small steps. I want to run, not walk and yet it’s my own body that is betraying me. I lie here in this damn bed and think about everything in my life that is on hold, just sitting there collecting dust.”
I nodded, sympathy tugging at me. I did know exactly how she felt. Except she had been hurt so much worse, her struggle to regain her quality of life was far more difficult than mine was as well. And I had the kids and Adam, as well as my parents. Cassie had me, and now, I thought Adam too and the kids and her parents, but she still has so far to go to get to the point where there is anything we can do except for love her.
“You know what Cass? I decided to look at it as a new start to things; maybe that’s how you need to think about it too. You can’t change what is happening except to be determined to be the winner, and I know you already have done that. So focus on one day at a time, one step at a time. You will get through it, I promise you. I’ll help you every step of the way. It’s going to be tough, but you are far tougher Cassie!” I told her, taking her hand in mine and rubbing it gently.
“I believe it was three musketeers, not two. Unless you two don’t want a third?” Adam told us, taking both of our hands into his. I looked at him, and what I saw in his eyes was genuine empathy for Cassie and caring. I looked at Cassie and realized that she saw that too. She nodded, almost imperceptibly and said, “Deal!” Adam and I both repeated that, and we each knew that the bargain was struck.
Karen came back in and lowered Cassie’s bed and I could tell that she was tired. It had been an exciting day for her, but it had been a wonderful day and I was so fortunate to have been able to share in her happiness. We stayed awhile longer, but Cass was fighting yawns so we decided it was time to leave; although that was reluctantly on my part. I knew it would be a week before I would see her again and I tried to focus on all the wonderful new things that would be happening in her life by then.
I hugged here, as best I could and kissed her soundly on the cheek. We both were crying; we inherently knew what the week apart would bring. Adam hugged her too and kissed her on the forehead again and it was so touching to see them interacting. “Hey, maybe you can get your doctor to move that basket for you! You can see if he has any muscles!” Adam quipped.
I stood in the doorway to her room and blew her a kiss before waving goodbye. We left and Adam pulled the door shut behind us and we walked down the hall to the elevators. I was silent all the way down to the garage. I felt guilty, but I did know it would be okay. It was just hard.
It was two p.m. by then and we decided to just go home and grab a light bite for lunch (if anything that Adam would eat could be called light). “Hey, you never told me where you want to go for dinner,” Adam said as we were leaving the parking garage.
“It’s called Sweet Basil; it’s an Italian/Mediterranean place. Very romantic actually!”
“Um Bella, it sounds wonderful. I can’t wait,” he said to me, his voice caressing and low. His eyes promised me an awesome evening and I wasn’t sure what the best part would be, the dinner or the dessert!
But I knew I couldn’t wait!