I woke up slowly, feeling Adam’s body wrapped around mine and sharing its delicious warmth. I poked my head out for a minute and it felt very cold in the bedroom, so I ducked back down into the warm bedding and the even warmer arms of my love.
Um yes, my love.
Memories of last night came flooding back to me, and I smiled, remembering our lovemaking and that I had told him I loved him.
This morning it felt so right, the most natural thing in the world to have done and I thought about how scared I had been last night before I told him. I had been afraid of me, not him.
I could never say those words before because I somehow thought they would weaken me, make me more vulnerable; that I would feel trapped. In fact the opposite seemed to be true. I felt stronger and more confident, about myself and this relationship. And not even the tiniest bit trapped.
Truthfully, I felt exhilarated, and wanted to shout it from the rooftops—I love Adam! I LOVE him!!!
I opened one eye to find him smiling at me, the biggest, silliest grin I’ve ever seen on a grown man. I opened both of my eyes then and returned his smile and sighed.
“You love me,” he said, bending to kiss me. It was tender and slow, and very thorough. “You love me!” he said again, giggling with delight.
“Say it again, please?” he asked. “Just want to be sure I heard it accurately last night, you know! Might have been a dream. Please…”
“I said that? Really?” I teased, trying to look puzzled. “Are you sure? Me?”
For a moment his face wore a look of torment which then faded to surprise. His left eyebrow lifted a bit and then he figured out I was teasing. But for half a moment there, I felt awful, horrible in fact.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him soundly, and then smiled what I hoped was a radiant smile.
“I love you Adam Richland! I love you, every sexy inch of you, through every situation imaginable, even through your perpetually growling stomach! I LOVE YOU!”
He smiled sheepishly then, and we both giggled because his stomach was indeed growling. The rumbles were somewhat muffled by the bed covers and our tangled bodies, but you could still hear them.
“Well then, I suppose you’ll just have to do something about that, hmm?” he teased, nibbling on my neck and starting to move downward.
I closed my eyes tightly for a moment and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Ah, um,” I said, clearing my throat. “You’ll never get any breakfast if you keep that up,” I told him sincerely.
His head popped up to look at me then, eyes opened wide. “Aah, fuck it then, who needs breakfast?” he said with a shrug, pulling the covers over us and making me scream and giggle.
And for the next half an hour, we didn’t think about breakfast at all!
When I finally crawled out of the bed and peeked out the blinds, I discovered that the temperature had dropped drastically over night and there was frost on the trees and ground. I turned the furnace on and then hopped right back under the covers, waiting until things warmed up a bit.
Adam laughed at me and headed into the bathroom to shower. I shivered and thought better him than me as I watched him walk into the bathroom! I adore his walk, straight and tall with long strides, moving lithely. I laid there with the silliest grin on my face and I remembered his silly grin earlier and that made me laugh out loud.
Do you suppose the fairy tales are right and there is a happily ever after?
A few minutes later I heard the shower being turned off and Adam humming something that surely couldn’t have been music. I pulled the covers back and hopped out of bed. To my surprise it had warmed up considerably and I was ready to take a shower too.
I stretched for a minute and bent my body in various ways and realized I felt good. Nothing hurt and I had apparently survived quite well, I thought with a triumphant smile!
Adam opened the bathroom door then, letting the warm steamy air into the bedroom. He had the towel wrapped around his hips and looked incredible. I smiled at him and he came over and enveloped me in a wonderful hug. He smelled fabulous and even though he hadn’t shaved, he looked so sexy! It took everything I had in me to pull away and head into the bathroom myself.
The warm water felt wonderful streaming over me I thought as I washed my hair and rinsed it. I stood there under the shower spray, letting the water beat down on me and remembered the other part of last night, the part that was going to involve the police today, and I let out a resigned sigh. I finished washing and turned the taps off before stepping out to grab a towel.
I wrapped one towel around my head and pulled another out for my body, then headed over to the vanity and used the hand towel to wipe the steam off of the mirror.
I dried off and looked at myself in the mirror, remembering the hickey Adam had left on my collarbone in Italy and smiled. What an incredible night that was, and then I realized last night had been just as wonderful. Each time with him was; in fact it just seemed to get better.
I opened the cabinet to grab the toothpaste and deodorant and saw Adam’s things in there too. As I closed the mirrored door, I looked at the toothbrush holder on the counter and there was Adam’s toothbrush, residing happily next to mine. I stared hard at it for a minute, thinking about that. This was the first time since my divorce that a man’s toothbrush was here with mine and it made me feel kind of quivery.
I stared for a moment more and decided that I liked that—it made things feel, right, maybe? In balance, I thought. Yes, balanced is an excellent word.
I pulled the towel off of my hair and ran my fingers through it before deciding to let it dry on its own and then headed back into the bedroom to get dressed. I pulled on a pair of well-worn and comfortable jeans and a sweatshirt because it still felt a little chilly to me. Fuzzy house slippers next and then I was off to the living room, where Adam was.
He had the Rolling Stones playing on the stereo and Mick was yelling,
“Ohh children, it’s just a shot away,
It’s just a shot away”
Gimme Shelter, one of my favorite Stones tunes I thought with a smile. Adam picked up the phone and called the detectives and made arrangements for them to come by here. He agreed on 11:00 this morning and since it was 9:30 already, I needed to get in there and get some breakfast going so I headed off to the kitchen, humming along with the Stones.
When I got there I saw that Adam had already been in there and laid out some oatmeal packets and had coffee already going.
Mm, I like this!
I got bread out for some toast and emptied the packets into bowls before adding water and putting them in the microwave. Adam came in then and started making the toast and telling me about his conversation with the detectives.
“Well, their first question was why didn’t we tell them all this when they were here yesterday?” Adam said, spreading butter on a piece of toast.
The microwave went ‘ding’ and I pulled the bowls of oatmeal out and stirred them before setting them on the table. The rising steam was fragrant and smelled of cinnamon and spices, and I suddenly realized I was hungry too and anxious to dig in.
Adam set the toast on the table as I poured us coffee and got the cream out of the fridge. Then I thought about what Adam had said the police asked.
“Did you tell them the truth, that we hadn’t really thought about it all together?” I asked as I was poured some cream into my coffee and stirred it.
“Well yes, but they didn’t seem all that convinced. And they wanted to know why we didn’t say anything about the tea. I told them that was what made you start thinking about it all.”
I looked over at the counter where the empty tea pitcher was still sitting. I frowned for a moment and then got up to take a closer look at it. Inside, there were still some dried remnants of the tea and I asked Adam if he thought that might be enough for them to check?
“I don’t have a clue love, who knows? How much do they need I wonder?”
I was trying to tip the pitcher to the side using a towel and Adam watched me for a moment and then asked, “What are you trying to do?”
“I’m trying to see if any of it is still liquid left at all,” I said, and then holding up the towel, “And trying not to leave any more fingerprints!”
“Don’t you think you might be smearing any fingerprints on there with the towel?”
That thought hadn’t occurred to me and I quickly set the towel down and went back to the table, hoping that I hadn’t done just that.
We finished our breakfast and loaded the dishwasher. Adam went in to call the airlines to book seats for us to California tomorrow while I added detergent and started the cycle. I then grabbed some furniture polish and a rag and decided to attack the dust that was everywhere.
Things don’t really get too dirty when you live alone or when it’s just the two of us, but they do get dusty and since we are leaving tomorrow, now was the time to do it. Before I got started on that though I pulled the sheets off of the beds and grabbed the used towels and threw it all into the washer.
Adam found me in the utility room, just finishing adding the fabric softener and watched as I turned the machine on.
“We’re set for the flight out at 3:34 tomorrow afternoon. We’ll need to be at the airport by 1:15 or so to return the rental car. Does that sound okay to you?”
“Yeah, it sounds good. I’m kind of excited actually,” I told him and I realized that I really was. I couldn’t wait to meet his kids and even Tamara. The parents still had me a bit unnerved, but I’ll just take it all slow and it will be fine I told myself.
I headed out to the living room and started dusting and there was so much of it I sneezed. The next thing I knew, Adam had the vacuum, (I didn’t have a clue how he even knew where to find it) and was working on the floors. I stopped for a moment and smiled, wondering if he was always this handy? Surely he must have a maid or something?
By 10:55, we were finished and just putting everything away and throwing the load into the dryer when the doorbell rang, telling us that the detectives were here.
Adam answered the door and let them in and I asked them if they would like some coffee, which they both declined. We all sat down in the living room and Adam and I waited while they both opened their notebooks and consulted for a moment on something they had noted yesterday.
“Yesterday, you couldn’t think of anything else to tell us. Now this morning you seem to have come up with something else and it is important information. Can you explain that?” Detective Rodriquez asked.
“Well,” I started, feeling very nervous, “Last night I was looking at the empty pitcher of tea in the kitchen and I realized it made me nauseous to just look at it. And then things just sort of slipped into place.”
“You still have the pitcher? It hasn’t been washed?”
“No, I was really sick after I drank the last of it the night before last, and yesterday I didn’t even think about it. Until I saw it late last night that is.” I told them and I couldn’t help the slight shudder that passed through me.
They looked at each other and stood up. “May we see the pitcher please, Ms. Marcus?”
“Certainly, I’ll get it for you,” I told them as I headed to the kitchen.
“NO!” they chorused together. Then Detective Rodriguez said, “We’ll go in there to look at it if you don’t mind.”
I shook my head and told them that I didn’t mind a bit. They followed me as I went into the kitchen, Adam trailing along behind them.
The pitcher was sitting on the counter top and both detectives approached it, looking at it from every possible angle.
“Who all has touched the pitcher?” Detective Arnold asked. She had pulled a digital camera out of her briefcase when she came in here and was now taking pictures of the pitcher. After she took each one she paused to look at it in the camera and she and Detective Rodriguez both made comments about each one.
“Digital,” I mouthed to Adam, pointing at the camera with a grin.
“Ah,” he said and I couldn’t help but notice the smile he was wearing. His mouth was closed, but just the corners were tweaked up and that made his dimples very noticeable.
I turned my head away from him, shaking it in amusement and tried to focus on what the detectives were doing. But honestly, I was thinking about that digital camera and what kind of fun we could have with it. When I turned to Adam again, I saw in his eyes that he was thinking the very same thoughts!
Detective Arnold was looking through her briefcase and came up with a very large plastic zipper type of bag and a pair of latex gloves. After she had slipped the gloves on, she put the pitcher into the bag and zipped it closed.
“We’re going to take this back for processing. Hopefully we’ll get some useful information from it. Can you tell us who has touched it please?”
“Well me of course. And Lissa, my daughter. She actually made the pitcher before she went back to KU Med. I don’t think anyone else had touched it,” I told her, trying to remember if mom had touched it at all. But I was sure she hadn’t.
“Your daughter you say? When did she go back to KU Med?” Detective Rodriquez asked.
“Two days ago. She had made the pitcher the day before. We had both drank some that night, but she drank a lot more than I did and felt pretty bad that night.”
“She was ill?”
“Well, she didn’t vomit, but she said the next morning that she had felt jittery and nauseous. And the next morning she looked awful. I felt her forehead to see if she had a fever because her eyes looked so glassy.”
“And did she?”
“No, she felt kind of cold and clammy actually. The same way I felt that night after I had vomited.”
“Is that when you began to suspect it had something to do with the tea,” Detective Arnold questioned.
“No,” I told her and I felt myself flushing, remembering last nights events. “It wasn’t until late last night when we decided to get a snack and I saw the pitcher sitting there on the counter that it all sort of clicked into place.”
“What do you mean by ‘clicked into place’ Ms. Marcus?”
“Well, I saw the pitcher sitting there and a chill went through me as I remembered that I had drunk two glasses that evening before I got sick. It was one of those ‘instinct’ kind of things, like if you ate too many M&M’s and got sick from them, you might want to avoid them or chocolate in general because just looking at them makes you feel sick?”
Detective Arnold was looking at me with a puzzled look on her face, which turned into a frown. “No, I’m afraid I don’t get that reference,” she told me.
Not surprising I thought, a tad bit uncharitably. She didn’t look like she ever did too much of anything! “Okay, the reference doesn’t really matter. It’s just that I associated the tea with the sick feeling and it made me wonder why? And then I remembered Adam telling me that in Italy, he had drunk so much tea that it made him feel jittery and two and two suddenly made four!” I said in explanation.
I heard the dryer buzzer going off then, signaling the end of the drying cycle and decided it could just set for a few minutes.
The detectives both looked up quizzically then, looking alertly around the room like they expected armed bandits to rush us. “It’s just the dryer telling me the cycle is done,” I said. Sheesh, I thought!
“Mr. Richland, what happened in Italy with the tea?”
“I was just known to enjoy iced tea, and someone was always handing me a glass,” he said with a shrug.
“Was it always the same person?”
“No, no it wasn’t. It was often someone different. That’s part of what set assistants do, get things.
“Alright. What are set assistants and please give me their names?” Detective Rodriguez asked.
“Surely you’re joking? Do you have any idea how many set assistants there are?” Adam was leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees. He ran his hands through his hair and I could see how frustrated with all this he was. He exhaled a huge sigh and said, “Set assistants basically do what ever small things need done on a shoot. Another word for them is gophers. There can be several dozen of them on a movie set, because practically everyone has need of one, from the producers and director to gaffers and electricians; it just depends on the movie set. I couldn’t give you all their names, it’s impossible. I didn’t know them all.”
Detective Arnold was tapping her pen against the notepad. “I see,” she said. “Well, give us what names you can, and I assume the production company would have more of that information? Did you have a set assistant assigned to you?”
“Not one personally, but of course there was one I worked more with than some of the others. But she wasn’t anymore likely to give me the tea than any of the others, whether I knew them personally or not. Is that really necessary, to get all their names I mean? That’s a lot of people and if you start asking questions of everyone you will cause alarm. Surely there is a better way to determine what you need to know?”
“Can you think of a better way to determine if someone was contaminating your tea other than to ask questions, because if so, now’s the time,” Detective Arnold snapped, making a note on her pad.
Adam and I looked at each other. This was beginning to snowball we realized. But on the other hand, she has a point, how else can they do this I thought?
I cleared my throat and asked, “Won’t you be tipping your hand, so to speak? Letting them know that we know something is going on?”
“Yes. It may help to deter them from trying anything else. If all the events are linked, one or both of you could be in serious danger. So far nothing terrible has happened, but that might not always be the case. It doesn’t seem likely that your accident here Ms. Marcus was related, however impossible that it sounds though, I think your missing purse is. One or more of those people was here and got that purse,” Detective Arnold said.
“Okay,” Detective Rodriguez said. “Yesterday, you said you recognized one of the numbers that someone tried to use to open the door?” At Adam’s nod he continued. “What was that number?”
“It was my birthday, or close to it anyway. The year digits were off by one year.”
“Would anyone on the set know when your birthday was?”
Adam’s lips were pursed and he looked far-away as he was thinking about everything. And then he spoke,”Not all of them, actually most wouldn’t know my birthday. I had a birthday when we were filming in England, before Italy, but it wasn’t celebrated. Other than Rachel Tomlinson, I don’t know who would know it really. September 16, 1961 is actually my birthday. The code they tried was 091662. It could just be coincidence that they used that number.”
I looked at Adam when he mentioned Rachel. He hadn’t ever said too much about her, so it was interesting that she would know his birthday I thought.
“Hm, I would bet it isn’t,” Detective Arnold said. “And you didn’t recognize any of the other numbers, either of you?”
“One was this house number, which probably seemed rather logical and the other made no sense at all,” Adam said. “It was 72724.”
“S-A-R-A-H,” Detective Arnold said after thinking about it for a moment. “72724. If you look on a phone or some electronic keypads, the numbers 72724 spell S-A-R-A-H. Again, that might be a logical assumption.”
Adam and I both nodded, still over-whelmed by all of this. For me, this just all seemed too convoluted, too involved. How could someone have planned all this? And more importantly, why?
They asked for both of our cell numbers so they could reach us easily. Adam told them that we were going to California on Saturday and Detective Arnold looked up from her note-taking, alarmed.
“Mr. Richland, I don’t think that is advisable,” she stated.
“Yes, I can see how you would believe that, but we are going. We will be back next Friday. You have our numbers and I will provide you with contact numbers and such for my residence in California, but that is the best I can do. We are going, this is an opportunity for Sarah to meet my family, as my parents are on a very brief visit from Africa.”
“Does anyone from the movie set know you are going?” she asked.
“No, I made all the arrangements myself. I haven’t spoken with any of them.”
“Can you keep it that way? Keep this visit very quiet?”
“I’ll do the very best I can. I won’t let the production company know where I am. If they call me on my mobile, they won’t know where I am. They do know I’m here and could possibly try to reach me that way though.”
“Can you check messages on this phone if necessary?” she asked, looking at me.
“Yes, I can check messages from anywhere. Actually, I can also forward the number to my cell phone. Would that help?”
“No, I’d rather you not do that. It might alert them that you aren’t actually here. But please, check for messages frequently.”
“Look, if someone is doing something here to cause trouble, they will likely see us leave, or will notice that we aren’t in the house don’t you think?” Adam questioned. His voice was tight and strained. I could see he was becoming more and more upset by this all. I remembered back to Firenza and the brake line incident and his reaction to that. He really doesn’t handle delays or unexpected changes well I thought.
“Adam, I have several of those plug in light timer’s we could set to use. They have variable timers on them, so they could be set for different times. I bought them a few years ago. I haven’t used them, but I’m sure we can try them. Also, mom and dad could come over a few times and turn other lights on and off. We could make it work, I really think we could.”
“That is an excellent idea Ms. Marcus. If your parents could come and open blinds occasionally, little things like that it would be very helpful,” Detective Rodriguez said enthusiastically. I think he could tell that Detective Arnold was wearing on Adam.
“If someone is watching the house, don’t you suppose they might get suspicious is Sarah’s parents keep coming and going and things only seem to happen when they are here?” Adam’s voice held a ‘duh’ tone to it. Maybe they’ll even follow us to the airport? Have you thought of that?”
“Mr. Richland, we can make sure you aren’t followed to the airport, let us worry about that. And maybe, we’ll even catch someone following you, which would be great. Don’t worry about that.”
Adam nodded his head and let out a short, harsh breath. “Alright, we’ll try that.”
“What time are you leaving for the airport tomorrow?”
“We will be leaving here by 12:30 or so I should think. I need to turn the rental car in by 1:15.”
“Okay, let’s make that noon, just to make sure we don’t have to take any detours to get you there. There will be an unmarked car parked down the street, waiting for you to go past and it will stay far enough behind to look for any other vehicle that follows you. In the case that someone does, that vehicle will be pulled over by a regular unit. I will contact you tomorrow morning to let you know what unmarked car will be out there and what route to take to the airport. Will that be satisfactory?”
Adam nodded tersely, and stood up, signaling that it was time for the interview to end. Both detectives rose as well, but Detective Rodriguez had one more comment to make.
“If you find it necessary to leave the house today, please do so with caution. I’m sure I don’t really need to remind you of that, but just in case,” he finished with a smile. He offered his hand first to Adam, who shook it and then to me. Detective Arnold did the same and they were both out the door then.
I shut the door behind them and leaned against it, watching Adam for a moment. He returned the look and then walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me for a hug. I entwined my arms around his waist and laid my head against his chest, enjoying the contact. We stayed that way for a minute or so, both of us taking the time to just breathe and relax.
Finally Adam said, “Well, what’s the plan for today love? Are we going to see Cassie?” I felt his lips moving against my hair, and then he kissed the top of my head.
“Yeah, I do want to see Cassie today. Are you sure you’re up for it? You are rather stressed right now Adam.”
“Yes, but it’s just what I need to fix me right up, Cassie’s uplifting attitude. Just the ticket I think. And while I’m thinking about it, how about you and I going out to dinner tonight? Somewhere special, just the two of us?”
I was quiet for a moment, reflecting on what he said. He didn’t really seem to be avoiding dealing with his feelings or frustrations. Maybe for him it is just as simple as moving on to something else. I remembered Firenza and that’s how it was there as well.
“If you’re sure you are up to it, then I would love to go to dinner and I have a very special place in mind. Very romantic!”
“Um, just exactly what the doctor ordered then?” He hugged me again, holding me close and I wanted to just melt into him, it was the very best place to be.
“Okay. We have a plan then, so let’s go!” I told him, heading off to the bedroom to put on some regular shoes (the fuzzy slippers are great, but …) and then I grabbed my purse and a jacket and we were off!