Adam was flipping mindlessly through the channels, watching a second or two here, or 30 seconds there. I wasn’t even sure he realized what he was doing. We needed to talk about dinner and I didn’t know for sure how to do that. I didn’t even know that he wanted to, except that he definitely wasn’t himself right now. He seemed withdrawn and on edge and it would help me to understand what I need to do if he would just talk about it.
“I’m going to go get some iced tea, want some? Or something else?” I asked him as I rose up off the couch.
“No tea thanks. But I’ll take a beer though,” he said getting up off the couch himself.
I laughed as I went into the kitchen to get our drinks. I got a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with ice. I heard the stereo come on in the living room and the smooth harmonic sounds of Wilson Phillips first album start playing. I filled my glass and grabbed a bottle of beer for Adam and headed back to the living room. As I walked into the room I was wearing a smile that was a mile wide and Adam saw it and smiled in return. I handed him his beer and stood there for a moment, memories running wildly through my mind.
The truth was the smile was actually for Lissa and I. We both love this CD and when we first got it she was about 10. We would put it on the stereo as loud as we could and sing and dance to it, pretending we were performing. A few times we tried to get Derek to play too, but he said he wasn’t going to be a ‘girl’ and so whenever we played it after that, he would leave.
That thought made me full out laugh and then Lissa came out of the bedroom, smiling hugely as well and I went and hugged her. “Did you put this on?” she asked, catching her breath.
I pressed my forehead against hers and said, “No, it was Adam. He doesn’t know!”
“Adam doesn’t know what?” he asked, clearly perplexed at our behavior.
Giggling, I sat down on the couch and took a sip of my tea. It was delicious and cold and I offered the glass to Lissa, who took a sip too. She sat down on the floor Indian style and closed her eyes, lost in the music for a few moments. Her body was swaying slightly as she listened.
Adam was looking back and forth between us and I didn’t have a clue what he was thinking, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t about this evening. Maybe that was a good thing.
“Hey Lissa, got a hairbrush handy?” I laughed.
“Aw Mom! My show biz days are over!”
“Are you sure about that? Once more for old time’s sake?” At that point Impulsive came on and I said, “Go with it!” Lissa just started singing at the top of her lungs,
“I don’t wanna think about it
Don’t wanna think clear
What I’m doing here
Wanna be impulsive
And lose myself in your kiss”
Lissa and I were laughing like crazy now and I had to let Adam in on it. As I began my story, Lissa went into the kitchen to get some iced tea of her own and refill my glass, which she had drank most of.
“I got this CD when Lissa was 10 and we both fell in love with it. We used to crank the stereo up and sing and dance to it. We even had a regular routine, so there we would be, dancing and singing at the tops of our lungs, using hairbrush’s or anything handy as microphones, spinning, twirling, having a blast.” I thought back for a moment and then said, “We were quite good you know. Maybe we should have taken in on the road!”
Adam was sitting on the couch then, his arm resting along the back and he had the silliest grin on his face. He was looking at me then, chocolate colored eyes intense and crinkled at the corners, dimples engaged and he looked adorable. The lyrics to the song came clearly into focus in my mind then and I thought how wonderful it would be to do just that, and on impulse I kissed him. I looked into those beautiful eyes of his and tried to read what he was saying to me, but I couldn’t. Maybe I wasn’t ready, I don’t know. I felt almost hypnotized by that gaze, like I was being drawn into it, into him.
Lissa came back in then, which was probably a good thing. She handed me the tea and we both took sips, trying to focus on the tea in our glasses because if we didn’t we were both going to break out laughing again.
“C’mon ladies, surely you want to show me the act?” Adam teased. “I mustn’t be the only entertainer in the family, surely?”
“Not on your life Adam,” Lissa said, heading back to her bedroom with her tea. “I’m off to bed. G’night!”
“Lissa, what time are you leaving in the morning?” I asked. I wanted to make sure I was up for it. “Do you have classes tomorrow you are trying to get back to?”
“No, I’ve been keeping up on that stuff via computer mom. Remember my laptop? But I do have a tour tomorrow afternoon at the school I don’t want to miss. It’s at 2:00 so I’ll want to leave by 10:00 or so, to make sure I’m back in time. See you in the morning.”
Her door closed and Adam and I leaned back on the couch. I rested my head on his arm and it felt wonderful. Life felt pretty wonderful right now and I admitted to myself that it was because Adam was a part of it. I could feel that his body was more relaxed now and I was happy about that.
“Do you want to tell me about the interview tonight?” I asked him. I still thought we probably needed to talk about it all.
I felt him exhale, a huge breath that seemed unending and then he was still for a moment. I turned my head to look up at him and his lips were pursed and his brow furrowed with little lines I don’t see too often.
“It’s just all such bullshit, you know? Crap like that happens all too often.”
I thought he was done speaking, but then he started again. “They wanted to know why I was here and I told them a friend had been in an accident and that I was visiting them; that this was a personal visit and that I was trying to keep a low-profile. They asked about up coming movies and I gave them a bit of information about that and we were done.” His left hand was lying on the arm of the couch and sort of picking at it. He picked his beer up off the end table and took a long drink.
He seemed to be pausing, perhaps gathering his thoughts and I knew that what ever was bothering him didn’t have too much to do with the reporters. He is used to that, as a celebrity he must be.
“My life is in the news and when someone is a celebrity, people seem to think that means it’s okay to interrupt me wherever I am,” he said quietly. “Those women, they just were pissed because I was ignoring them and set out to cause trouble. That’s what I can’t handle. It’s not the reporters. For the most part they are only doing their jobs, as I do mine. I mean, paparazzi are more bloodthirsty, but for the most part reporters are decent.”
I sat there listening and nodding, watching him as he spoke.
“I love my job Sarah, I’m fortunate in that. It has afforded me the opportunity to provide for my family in ways that allow me the freedom to choose my projects and the time and places I go to. But I do view it only as a job; I do not let myself become caught up in the frenzy that so many celebrities participate in. That doesn’t make them bad; it only means that it is not my choice. I want my family, including you, to be saved from as much of the intrusion of reporters and paparazzi as possible. So I don’t often go to Hollywood or London events, or other places where you are thrust into the virtual spotlight.
I try very hard to keep my private life private, and it’s not easy, trust me. Sometimes Europe seems an easier place to be because people tend to leave me alone there more often than not. It’s just that it is always a swift kick into reality when I’m back in the states, you know?”
“I’m beginning to see, yes.” I was remembering how much we were left alone in Italy, even when people recognized him. It was much simpler.
“As long as I’m performing, it will always be like this Sarah. Do you understand that? Can you handle that?” he questioned. He was searching my face, my eyes for something, some kind of answer and all I could do was to not look away, keep my focus on him and to not show him any fear.
“I do understand that Adam. I also accept it. I know it is a part of your life. I don’t really feel intimidated by it or frightened by it either. I guess I feel sort of resigned to it; it’s always going to happen.”
He pushed himself up off the couch then and started wandering around the room, stopping to look at pictures and things. He picked up a picture of Lissa, Derek and I, taken the first Christmas after their father and I had separated. He couldn’t have realized it, but all three of our faces showed relief and hope. The previous few years had been hard on all of us and that year we were just starting to get life in order. The kids missed their dad, but we were okay. That picture was special to me because of that; it represented a new life, one that held promise and a chance to start over. I realized that I was on the verge of another new life now, one with Adam. I had been strong when I separated from Derek’s and Lissa’s dad and it had been hard, but I had done it. Could I do it again?
Adam set the picture down and turned to me. He came and knelt in front of me and I set the glass of tea I was holding down on the table so he could take my hands in his. His hands were strong and firm, yet utterly tender as they held mine.
“Sarah, I love you. I know it seems soon, but it’s what I feel. I don’t want any part of my life to worry you or make you unhappy.”
I was stunned and I prayed that it wasn’t showing on my face. I wanted to say ‘I love you’ back to him, but I couldn’t get the words out. So I sat there silently, wondering how to let him know that I do care, how happy I am to just be with him.
He watched me, and probably saw the struggle I was having with myself. “It’s alright, you know. You don’t have to say that yet, but I want you to know that I believe what we have is serious; that I want our lives to be spent together. One day at a time, Sarah; one step at a time.”
‘I, uh, I want that too Adam. And I’m scared to death because I want it very badly.”
“And this is the part you always muck up?”
I gave a short, harsh laugh. “Not exactly. I’m never around at this point Adam. I’ve always managed to skip out before this happens.”
“Do you want out now?” he asked. He was very serious then, very intent on hearing my answer, whatever it was.
Yes, my brain was screaming at me, tearing me apart with the fear of what would happen if I didn’t run. But I couldn’t. I’ve come too far with this incredible man. Surely I could take a few more steps with him I thought.
I smiled then, probably a sad, reflective sort of smile, but I quickly realized it wasn’t one of surrender, it was one of beginnings. I shook my head and said, “No, Adam. I am where I want to be.”
I wrapped my arms around him then and lifted my lips for his kiss, which was slow and tender. A promise…
He stood up then and held out his hand to help me up. I grabbed my mostly full glass of tea and his empty beer bottle and took them into the kitchen before heading into the bedroom.
Which of course presented another problem I thought with a huge sigh.
Adam was getting undressed as I pulled the covers back on the bed and I openly watched him, admiring his long limbed body; his toned muscles and taut belly sent shivers through me and made my belly spasm reflexively. I turned away with an inward groan and wondered how on earth I was going to sleep next to him again with no contact.
As I undressed, Adam headed to the bathroom and I sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling miserable and despondent. I wanted to make love with him so badly and yet, we would still not be able to.
I was bargaining with myself when he came back into the room smelling and tasting minty fresh as he kissed me. Surely I thought, if we were cautious, careful we could do this. He sat next to me and chuckled as he put his arm around me.
“It’s only a few more days you know. I’m not about to risk hurting you now, okay? So get that out of your mind!”
As is usual, he had read my mind again. It almost freaked me out. How does he do it?
“You have a very expressive face you know. You would never make a good barrister or a poker player.” He ran his finger gently down the bridge of my nose and then tipped my face up to him for another kiss and I sighed; a somewhat exasperated sigh in fact. But his lips felt wonderful.
“Okay, I surrender.” I got up and headed into the bathroom myself. As I washed my face and brushed my teeth I thought about what he had said to me tonight.
He loves me!
A wonderful, caring man actually loves me and wants to be with me. It didn’t matter that it was Adam Richland, movie star. It only mattered that it was Adam, the man who made me feel beautiful and whole.
Yes, I admitted to myself, I feel whole with him. Not damaged, as I had felt for so many years.
Even though I had consciously ran from the men in my life, using every excuse possible, I still knew the problem was with me. I had truly believed I was incapable of deeper emotion, but Adam had shown me that wasn’t true. My heart was overflowing with emotion and every cliché imaginable was running through my head. The truth was, I did love him, Lissa was right about that. I just couldn’t get the words out...yet.
I stood there in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and I thought about just going out there and saying the words. I wanted to, but I felt physically unable to actually say them. My palms were sweaty and my heart was beating so fast I felt as if it would explode. My stomach was doing flip-flops and every word I ever knew was literally gone from my head. How can this be a good thing?
Maybe it wasn’t love. I continued to look at myself in the mirror and saw a very pale face staring back at me. Pale except for two very bright spots on my cheeks, like clown makeup. And I did truly feel sort of fluttery and slightly light-headed.
I ran a brush through my unruly hair and decided I had been in there long enough; I might as well get back to the bedroom and worry about the other problem!
Adam was lying quietly in bed. He had turned out the lights, but I knew the path well and made my way to the side of the bed and sat down. There was enough light in the room that I could see him, lying there with his eyes closed. I listened to him breathing for a moment and even though he wasn’t speaking, I didn’t think he was asleep. I lifted the covers and crawled in the bed, moving over to him without even thinking about it. As if my body knew exactly where it was supposed to be. He rolled over and put his arms around me, settling my head on his arm.
“Are you sleepy?” I asked him, hoping he would tell me yes.
“A little. How about you?”
“A little,” I responded. “It’s been quite a day, huh?”
“Um hm. The news sounds wonderful for Cassie. And, I think the doctor likes her!”
“Ooh, I wish you hadn’t mentioned that. I had managed to forget.”
Adam placed a light kiss on my receptive mouth and I frowned when he ended it so quickly. “Does it bother you if Cassie and the doctor get together?”
“Oh, I don’t know Adam. She has been hurt so much in the past and she has such an open and trusting heart, I just don’t want her to get hurt again, not now especially when she has such a hard road ahead of her with the injury.”
“Tell me about Cassie. You’ve not told me too many things about her that haven’t related to you and she together.”
“She was married to Walt for 22 years when she found out that he had a girlfriend. Actually, he had always had one or two tucked away we later found out. But Cassie had adored him. They never had any kids and she always wanted them, so when Walt was all she had, she gave him everything. We found out during the divorce that he had had a vasectomy. All those years and she never saw who he really was. It broke her heart. But it didn’t dampen her spirit any. She has dated lots of guys over the years since then and she often falls into love with them. But it has never worked for her. I guess in some ways she is sort of the opposite of me. She thinks every guy is the one and I...”
“And you have finally found the one, perhaps?”
I looked into his eyes and swallowed hard before saying, “Yes, I have Adam. So maybe she has too. But I thought there was some sort of doctor/patient code of ethics or something?”
“I’m sure there is. But just because they can’t officially see one another while she is his patient, it doesn’t prevent them from falling in love, does it?”
“I guess not.”
“Maybe he is exactly what she needs, medical condition aside I mean?”
“I do believe you want to see them together Adam!” I laughed.
“Would it be so bad if I did? Maybe I’m just so happy myself that I want all the poor blokes out there to find the woman of their dreams as I have.”
“Woman of your dreams, huh? That seems like a very difficult position for me to be in Adam. I’m scared I’ll let you down,” and my voice quivered with emotion.
“Don’t be scared Sarah. You won’t let me down. I know it. Remember what I said: one day at and time and one step at a time. That’s all we have to worry about.”
I nodded my head and said, “I know and I can do that, I promise.”
“There we go then, we have a plan Sarah, we have a plan!”
And with that, he kissed me again and we settled down and went to sleep.