I had a huge surprise when we boarded the plane—our seats were in first class. I mean, I guess that made sense, I just hadn’t really thought about it. Man, what a whole different world!
Considering Adam’s long and lanky legs, first class was the only way to go, however I was under no illusions that his legs were the only consideration. I imagined the scene—us in tourist class and Adam being bombarded by fans. That thought made me sigh; I remembered back to the night at N&J. I didn’t resent the time or attention that Adam gave to his fans, but there are times when if we don’t have to deal with it, it’s all the better. And as nervous as I was feeling, this was definitely one of those times.
What surprised me was that of the 10 seats in first class, they were all filled. I’m not sure exactly why that surprised me so much, but it did. I guess I don’t think about Wichita being a place for movers and shakers who are likely to travel first class!
I was sitting next to the window and watched as they finished loading the luggage and before I knew it we were taxiing out to the runway. I grabbed Adam’s hand right before we lifted off. Not because I am afraid of flying or anything, but I was remembering the trip leaving Venezia, and how sad that was for me, for us really and I just wanted the comfort and pleasure of knowing he was with me.
I quickly discovered just how different first class was. Forget the bags of peanuts and canned soda—they serve champagne and hot canapés and stuff like that. Frankly, I didn’t need anymore alcohol and I wasn’t hungry, but Adam made up for my lack of interest in the food, eating several plates of snacks, although we both drank bottled water.
We were on a direct flight to LAX, which also was amazing to me. I thought there wasn’t a way out of Wichita that didn’t involve a hub somewhere but I was wrong. They announced that there was an in-flight movie and I started giggling, wondering if it would be one of Adam’s, but it wasn’t. I didn’t care about watching it anyway; I was more excited to watch the ground below me. The beautiful colors and shadows passing slowly below us fascinated me. I have always loved to fly and this trip would be a treat, we would be coming in over the southern part of the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert. Right now we were over the southern part of my beloved Rockies, and from this altitude, they managed to look so small and unimposing it made me laugh.
Adam was again reading his script, so I left him to it. Actually I felt sort of guilty; he really hadn’t worked on it all the much and I didn’t want him going to Dallas unprepared because of me. I wondered how he managed to learn all that dialog anyway; if he used some sort of method for memorization or what. I was on the verge of asking and then thought better of it and closed my mouth. He was concentrating fiercely on it; his forehead was wrinkled as he studied the script and occasionally made notes in the margins.
Before I knew it, we were past the Grand Canyon, streaking over the desert on the approach to LAX and the butterflies in my stomach started their vigorous dance once again. Another 15 minutes and we would be landing and I started fidgeting in my seat, unconsciously tugging at my tunic and fussing with my jewelry.
“You look beautiful love,” Adam said to me.
I turned to him, unaware that he had put the script away. The flight attendants were collecting all the assorted glasses and dishes and helping travelers to set their seats up in preparation for landing. He gave my hand a light squeeze and I smiled back at him, although it was a weak sort of smile. He reached up and brushed that ever-wayward strand of hair out of my eyes and let his thumb softly caress my lips. It was almost as good as his mouth, maybe even a little more tender.
The landing gear came down then and I looked out the window and could see the Pacific Ocean out the window as we glided down onto the runway. There was a soft and smooth bump and we were on the way to the gate.
Oh God, this was it!
All too soon we were leaving the plane and making our way down the walk way, to the area where people wait for arriving flights. As we got closer, Adam wrapped his arm around me and frankly, I was glad for the support. My eyes were frantically scanning the crowd since there were people everywhere, but I couldn’t see any that looked like the pictures I had seen.
But just then I heard loud exclamations of “Daddy” and two little dark blonde missiles flew directly at us, and straight into Adam’s arms. He knelt down to hug them and as I watched him, my heart melted. The look on his face was so incredibly joyful and full of love. And it was apparent that the boys loved him just as much. They were all oblivious to the crowds around us as they hugged tightly.
About that time Julie Andrews approached me. Or I thought for a moment it was Julie and I waited for her to start singing ‘The Sound of Music’! It actually turned out to be Adam’s mother, but she really could have been Julie’s stand in any day of the week.
She held out both of her hands to me and said, “You must be Sarah! I’m Vivian Richland and this is Gerald.” As she spoke, she motioned to an older version of Adam to join us. It was incredible I thought, this is truly what Adam will look like years from now. His dad was still plenty good looking I thought with a smile. And very charming I soon discovered.
“My dear, it is lovely to meet you,” Gerald told me, in another lovely British accent. He was holding my hand and watching me intently, in much the same manner that Adam has and I felt a slow flush start to spread down my face.
Oh, for heavens sake! I wasn’t sure I could handle two Richland men.
After kissing him warmly on the cheek, Vivian was telling Adam that Tamara had stayed home, working on dinner and at the same time leading us to the baggage claim area. She seemed very efficient and focused.
Adam had one boy in each arm, but soon put them down as we were trying to navigate the crowds in the arrivals area. And then suddenly he remembered that I hadn’t been introduced to them and stopped walking.
“Mom, hold on for a moment,” he told her as she was intent on getting us to the baggage claim area. “Tristan, Geoff, I want to both to meet Sarah. This is Tristan,” he told me, indicating the taller of the two. “And this is Geoffrey, other wise known as Geoff.” He unobtrusively nudged Tristan and he held out his hand to me, first wiping it on his jeans. Geoff did the same thing. It was very endearing.
“It’s nice to meet you Sarah,” they said, almost in unison. I knelt down to their level while all this was going on, so our eyes would be on the same level and they could see my smile.
“It’s wonderful to meet you too. I hope you both are going to help me out here, show me things because I’ve never been to California before,” I told them.
“Never?” Tristan exclaimed, as if that was impossible. “You never been to Disneyland or saw the ocean?” The boys were looking at each other, clearly amazed by my confession.
“Well yes, I’ve been to the ocean, just not this one. So you’ll have to take me to the beach to see it, okay?”
“Well sure!” they chorused. “You’ll like it,” Geoff said, nodding his head for emphasis. “It’s really salty though so don’t drink it!”
“Okay, I promise!” I told them as we started again on the way to the baggage claim area. I felt a small hand slip into mine and looked down to find Geoff holding it. I smiled at him, but there was a part of me wondering if he was holding my hand to protect me since I so obviously didn’t know much!
I caught Adam’s eyes on mine then and he was staring at me, with the dimple smile and I felt myself relaxing a little bit. I had passed the first hurdle and my confidence was slowly starting to buoy up again.
He wrapped his arm around my waist and held onto Tristan’s hand as we wove in and out of the way of all the people waiting for luggage. I noticed more than one person taking note of Adam and even caught the flash of camera’s a few times but no one actually approached us and I was happy about that; Adam tried very hard to keep the boys out of the spotlight. After we reached the baggage claim area we had a couple of minutes to wait until the bags from our flight made it out. Adam and his parents were talking about the medical conference.
“Today was the first day symposium and dinner, but we aren’t missing too much really. We’ll be in conference all day tomorrow and Monday so we won’t have much chance to visit with you, so we wanted to spend as much time with you tonight as possible. Did you have a good trip, darlings?” Vivian asked.
“It was very pleasant Mother. What about you? How was the trip over from the Sudan, not too bad I hope?” Adam asked.
“It was uneventful, which is always the best way to fly I say. Your father slept most of the way as usual, so I just caught up on some reading.”
“Um, thrilling medical journals, I’m sure,” Adam replied. Just then we noticed that the luggage had started around on the carousel, so Adam and his father moved up closer to watch for our bags. I watched them move through the crowd, so alike, even the way they walked. Vivian was watching me with a smile across her beautiful face. She is small and pixyish, maybe more like Mary Martin in Peter Pan than Julie Andrews I decided. But I could see she was as strong as steel. If I were sick she would be the one I wanted fighting for me. Her hair was a faded red with some gray in it, but she had beautiful blue-gray eyes, bright and curious, with small little lines that crinkled at the corners when she smiled, as she was right now. She was a no-nonsense woman though I could tell, much like my own mom.
The boys stood there, hopping from one foot to the other as children are prone to do when standing around waiting. Vivian finally said, “Now Tristan, Geoff, please do stand still. You’re squirming like grasshoppers!”
“Do they have grasshoppers in Africa, Grandmamma?” Geoff asked, his face turned up to his grandmothers. For a moment I was struck by how much his eyes were like his fathers—brown, although more golden brown rather than chocolate. Tristan on the other hand definitely had golden eyes, almost topaz really; they were beautiful.
“Why yes Geoff, they do. They have grasshoppers there that are bigger than your hand and they are very hungry. They eat everything in sight, even trees sometimes!”
Geoff and Tristan’s eyes grew very large when they heard their grandmother say that. They looked at each other then blinked. “Truly, Grandmamma?” Tristan asked.
“Truly!” Both boys grew quiet and still, obviously thinking about grasshoppers that were that big!
Adam and Gerald were headed back in our direction with our bags and we all headed out to the parking area. We caught a shuttle to where the van was parked and Adam loaded our bags in and we all got in and got settled.
“Are your seat belts fastened boys,” Adam questioned, before climbing in next to me.
“Yes Daddy,” they said in subdued voices. Adam cast a quizzical look over his shoulder at them. He leaned his head against mine and asked why they were so quiet.
“Something about huge African grasshoppers I think! Your Mom was telling them about them.”
“Ah! Geoff is very nervous around grasshoppers.” He giggled then and said, “That explains a lot. Good way to keep them quiet!”
“Adam, Sarah, we’re going to take you down to Laguna Beach so you can drop the bags off and get your car. We’ll meet you at Tamara’s later then,” Gerald said. He was driving the van, handling it well in the heavy traffic exiting the airport.
“How far is Laguna Beach?” I asked Adam.
“It will take a little more than an hour or so to get down there depending on traffic, but it’ll go fast and parts of the trip along the Pacific Coast Highway are beautiful. There is a more direct highway, but we’ll take the coast highway because you will enjoy the ride.”
And he was right, on both counts. It was about 6:30 when we got there and the sun was just going down over the Pacific. It was more than beautiful, it was breathtaking. The sky was a colorful canvas smudged with oranges and pinks and splashes of pure gold. I was so focused on the view I didn’t realize that we were pulling into a drive way and that we had reached Adam’s house.
Gerald stopped the van and opened the hatch in the back. Adam and I climbed out and he grabbed our bags. We stopped by the front of the van, saying good bye and Adam told them we would be along in an hour or so.
“Yes darling. Tamara said to tell you dinner would be at 8:00, so you have plenty of time! We’ll see you then.”
“Daddy, we want to stay with you!” Tristan said, his small face hopeful. It obviously meant a lot to him. I didn’t want to be the one to keep them from staying with us, and I started to tell Adam that. He noticed and shook his head.
“We’ll be there in just a little while, I promise and tomorrow we’re going to spend all day together, okay? Sarah and I are just going to get settled and then we’ll be along!” He closed the door to the van firmly and stepped back. They all waved and Adam and I headed to the front door. He sat the bags down and reached into his pocket to get the keys to unlock the door. It was pretty dark now and I really couldn’t see much but through a high window over the door I could see that there was a light on inside.
Before opening the door, Adam used an electronic keypad to turn the alarm system off and then put the key into the door and opened it.
For the second time in my life I walked into a room full of roses, several dozen or more just like when I came home from the hospital. The fragrance was heady and rich and I inhaled deeply. A riot of color on every available surface, some small and tight buds, others huge blooms, all gorgeous.
I turned to Adam and found him watching me intently and I wrapped my arms around his neck and stood on tip toe to place a kiss on his warm and delightful mouth. “The rose fairies have been busy again I see. Do you suppose there are any roses left in California?” I asked him breathlessly.
“Um possibly, we’ll have to see shall we?” he replied softly, nuzzling my ear.
That tickled and I laughed then and took a step back, to look around the room. We were in a large foyer, with rooms opening off both sides and stairs leading downward, to the next level. There was a huge vaulted window above us with large hanging light fixtures on either side.
“C’mon,” he said, grabbing the bags and heading down the stairs to the next level, where the bedrooms were. At the next landing we went to the left and entered a doorway immediately to the right. Adam turned on a light and the room was illuminated for me to see. I stared in amazement and a huge room, filled with at least as many roses as the foyer had been was in front of me. The difference was, these were all the peach and coral colored ones, the ones that I had loved so much in Wichita.
“Oh Adam, its lovely!” I exclaimed. I didn’t know if I meant the room or the roses, but it was all totally beautiful. And romantic! The fragrance here in this room was intoxicating and I walked from vase to vase, inhaling the scent of the roses’ perfume.
The next thing I noticed was a huge bed. Not as large as the beds in Italy, but big. It was made of hand-tooled mahogany and looked old. Four carved posts, each standing sentinel over their own sacred corner drew your eyes to them. The covering on the bed though was a surprise, it was a beautiful quilt. It looked old actually and in fascination I went to it and touched it, admiring the beautiful workmanship. This was definitely hand-made. I turned to look at Adam then, slightly taken aback.
“Do you like it?” he asked me softly, coming over to stand next to me. “My grandmother made it, many years ago. I always loved it and when she died, my mother gave it to me. I had it in storage for years until I got my own house to put it in. That was the house in England, but after I bought this house I knew it belonged here.”
Here again was something that surprised me about Adam. “It is wonderful Adam, absolutely gorgeous and so precious. I love it…” I trailed off. Words seemed inadequate to describe what I thought about it.
The quilt was patterned in rich blues; royal, midnight, cobalt and even peacock blue and it reflected the colors of the room, except for the intricately repeating pattern of 3 golden interlocked rings throughout the quilt. The bedroom also had bright gold’s in it as well.
The bed was on the south wall, with the whole west wall being taken up by windows and French doors, heading out to a balcony. Beyond the balcony you could just see the last tiny ribbon of the sun sinking beyond the horizon, leaving indigo sky and starlight in its fiery wake.
The dark colors of the room and the furniture made this room masculine, but several touches, including the quilt took that edge off and I wondered if Tamara had a hand in decorating this house.
“I bought this house a couple of years ago, after Tamara and I divorced. As soon as I saw it I knew it had to be mine. The only thing I regret about it is that it is small, and really there isn’t any where to grow, because of how it’s built, unless I want to build another level up,” he finished, pointing toward the ceiling.
I smiled at how he had yet again tuned right in on my thoughts before thinking about what he had said. I nodded my head and said, “I agree, about building I mean. The house looks so perfect perched up here. Like it belongs among the rocks and cliffs. Almost a Cape Cod style actually; I can’t see how adding another floor above wouldn’t totally change that.”
There was a settee at the foot of the bed, covered in paisley brocade and I sat down there for a moment, trying to take it all in. The room was incredible and I felt totally at home in it. I would know immediately that this room was Adam’s and I found an enormous amount of comfort in that.
Adam sat down next to me, put his arm around me and pulled me close. I leaned against him and he in turn laid his head atop of mine. I could still smell the stirring fragrance of the roses and that made me smile, as well as wonder who the rose fairy was here and I asked him that.
“Tamara, of course. Well, actually all she had to do was to be here to let the deliveries in. I think she also brought in some groceries, so we should be set for tomorrow.”
”Um. And do they have appetites like their father?” I jested.
“All the Richland men do. We take great pride in it actually.” He was chuckling as he said that.
“Well, after seeing your dad I at least know that you all evidently burn it off. By the way, he is remarkably good-looking. And charming…” I said, remembering my blush at the airport.
“Indeed! Just remember which Richland man you’re in love with, hmm?”
“I don’t think that is going to be a problem,” I told him, nuzzling his tempting neck.
He catches on quick; I’ll say that for him. Before I realized what he was doing he had me sitting across his lap and was kissing me passionately. I wrapped my arms around his neck and indulged our ever-lurking passion for a few minutes, until I realized we were quickly reaching a point of no return.
‘Um Adam. Adam—don’t we need to get to Tamara’s?”
He groaned deeply and rested his head against mine, catching his breath. He groaned again and pulled me tightly to him and I could feel how hard he was, which couldn’t hold a candle to how wet I was. I wiggled off of his lap and wandered over to the balcony doors, trying to put a little space between us to give us both a chance to calm down.
“Are they open, can we step out?” I asked, before trying them.
“Here, let me show you,” he told me, showing me how to open the lock and slide back the catch so the door would glide open. We stepped out onto the balcony and I was immediately taken back to Italy, to our balcony in Firenza. Except of course that this view was of the Pacific and looking down was the pool.
The air was warm and redolent of the Pacific; salty and moist. The waves were crashing gently against the shore and reminded me of a trip I had taken to the Gulf once; they were rhythmic and mesmerizing. I had never slept better as when I fell asleep listening to them.
“Oh Adam, this is simply beautiful,” I said, turning to him and putting my arm around his waist. He hugged me close for a moment as we watched the waves sliding into shore, only to turn and retreat back into the wake.
“I’m glad you think so. I want you to be happy here, to be comfortable love. Anything you want, you have only to ask.”
I thought about that for a moment, again he was sounding so serious. And unbelievably, it wasn’t scaring me!
“Well, we certainly don’t have to worry about that now. But, I want to use the restroom and then we had better get to Tamara’s shouldn’t we?”
“Yes, I suppose so. But I’m feeling very selfish; I would really like to keep you all to myself instead of sharing you. I’m a bit worried about my dad moving in on me you know!”
“Really?” I giggled as I headed off to the bathroom, the door on the right that Adam pointed to. I stepped in and found the light switch on the wall. Oh my! I thought. He was certainly right; this was my kind of bathroom!
First off, it was huge! But it needed to be because it had an enormous sunken tub along the glass wall that again led out to the balcony. I believe it is one of those called a Roman tub and could easily hold four people! It was in a creamy off white with gold fixtures. Along another wall was a glassed in shower stall. The whole room was tiled in royal blue which had lacy fern patterns etched in them, in the same creamy off white and gold. The other fixtures matched the tub and the counters matched the gold color in the tile.
I stood there, taking it all in when Adam came up behind me and said, “Do you like it?” His voice was full of excitement, like a child’s and I couldn’t help but laugh exuberantly.
‘Yes, YES! I adore it. And we have to take a swim in the tub later, promise?”
“I promise. Now, push this switch and the Roman shades will close, giving you some privacy. I’ll be out on the balcony. Do you need anything out of your bag?”
“No, but I could use my purse, it’s in the carry on,” I said, walking out and getting it. I took it back into the bathroom and played with my hair a bit before putting some lipstick on. I had sort of gotten out of the habit of wearing lipstick, since it seemed like as soon as I put in on, Adam was kissing it off! I decided I still looked presentable and went back out to the balcony where Adam was standing against the railing.
“Is it time?” I asked.
“Um hm. You look lovely,” he said, taking in the lipstick with a smile. “C’mon, let’s go.”
He held out his hand and I took it as we went back in and he locked the doors again. “I’ll show you the rest of the house later or in the morning.”
I followed him up the stairs again and through a doorway to the left, which looked like an office. At the back of that room was another door which led into the garage. As soon as we stepped in, a light automatically came on, illuminating a spacious garage which only held one car. But what a car I thought with a smile!
Adam’s car was a Lexus SC Coupe Convertible and WOW, I was impressed. He called it Black Sapphire Pearl, but it looked more like midnight blue to me, with a dove grey interior; it was a dream of a car. There’s not too much about Adam that is frivolous, but this car was definitely a decadent indulgence. He reset the house alarm before we got into the car and he hit the opener that swung the door open. The car purred to life, with a deep and resonate growl and we slowly backed out of the drive.
He headed out the access road onto the Pacific Coast Highway and we were quickly on our way. He had told me that Tamara lived about 15 miles north of here, in Huntington Beach so I knew the journey would be brief. Even in the dark, the road along the coast was beautiful and I imagined in moonlight it would be awesome.
It was almost another week until the full moon and I remembered the first full moon we had shared, in Pisa. That was the night of the accident in the Tower and I shivered at the memory. Adam caught that out of the corner of his eye.
“Cold love? I can turn the heat on if you like.”
“No, I really am fine.” I told him. I didn’t want to bring up Italy right now.
“Are you still worried about meeting Tamara? You really needn’t be you know,” he told me, reaching for my hand to squeeze it gently.
“No, actually I’m okay about it. I mean, yeah, I’m still a bit nervous, but it will be okay. So tell me, did Tamara help you decorate the house?” That would make perfect sense to me since she was a set designer I remembered.
He laughed for a moment and said, “Yes, somewhat. She is very talented at it, but mostly what she did was find things that I wanted. The bedroom is all mine, in case you are wondering. And,” his voice became very sincere and quiet now, “No other woman has ever shared it with me. I wanted you to know that.”
My eyes opened a tad bit wider at those words, which admittedly surprised me. My heart sped up a little at that confession, I must admit. I felt unaccountably pleased, which was very childish I thought as I mentally chastised myself. But I couldn’t help the silly grin that slid briefly across my face.
“I’m not exactly sure how to respond to that. I guess it surprises me actually,” I admitted.
“I thought it might,” he said and then he was slowing the car down to make a turn. I realized we were in Huntington Beach and soon he was navigating the streets until we pulled into a driveway on a small cul-de-sac.
He turned the car off and leaned over and briefly kissed me. “Don’t want to smudge your lipstick!” he said with a laugh.
“Well, you shouldn’t be wearing it either,” I retorted, gently wiping his mouth. He came around and opened my door, helping me out and leading me to the front door, where the boys were already waiting for us.
This was it I thought. Ready or not…