About 3:00 am we got up and ate the baked chicken, wild rice and mushrooms that I had made and the fruit that I had bought to keep up the Firenza theme.
I got out the pictures that had been developed and we poured over them for a bit. And then cold and creepy terror grabbed at my throat again and I couldn’t speak, only stare at one of the pictures.
Adam noticed and asked me what was wrong. I could only point to a picture lying on the table. It was one taken at the top of the Tower, near sunset. Off to the right side, just barely visible to the camera was someone standing sideways, toward the sunset.
They were wearing a navy blue hoodie.
Adam picked up the picture and exclaimed, “Bloody hell!” and then looked at the picture a bit more closely. You could see just a tiny bit of their face, a point of a nose, a jutting chin. But not much.
“Do you have a magnifying glass love?” he asked, trying to hold the picture closer to the light over the sink.
‘Yes, yes I do. Hold on,” I told him, heading into the family room and digging in my desk drawer. I finally found it and headed back into the kitchen so Adam could hold it over the picture.
We both looked closely at it and then sighed in frustration. Even the magnifying glass didn’t help any; it was still impossible to tell who it was, even if they were male of female.
We sat down at the table and laid the picture down; both of us feeling dejected. “Well, I guess we can call the detectives in the morning and let them check it out, maybe they have some equipment that can blow it up or something,” I said as we stared at it some more.
Adam leaned back in the chair and ran his fingers though his hair. “I’ve been on edge for the past day or so, feeling ready to bite someone’s head off and all because of this – this insanity. He stood up quickly from the table and knocked the chair over as he did so.
“Crikey!” he spat, picking up the chair and setting it upright again. “I just don’t bloody understand what is going on; it makes no sense.”
His body was just rippling with frustration; it came off of him in veritable waves. He stood there looking at me and took a couple of deep breaths in an attempt to calm down. I understood his frustration completely, I did, but I guess it was even worse from his perspective. He was the target of something we don’t understand, for a reason we don’t comprehend, and being perpetrated by a person we can’t identify. Of course he is tense and on edge. Who wouldn’t be?
I pointed that out to him and he vaguely nodded his head, but I wasn’t sure he understood my words at all. “Adam, we’ll get through all this and find out what is happening and why. I promise you we will.”
“But at what cost, Sarah? Look at everything that has already happened. Look how your life has been turned upside down; rocks thrown at you, e-mails and someone in your house. Where will this person stop?”
I was afraid to answer that because I was afraid that the person wouldn’t stop, not until Adam was dead. Icy fingers clutched at my heart again, frantically grasping at whatever was within their reach. With that thought and I had to make myself start thinking about something else soon or I felt as if I would lose my mind.
“Adam, we can’t do anything more about this tonight. C’mon, let’s go back to bed now, I’m cold,” I pleaded, trying to get him to hear me.
He looked up at me blankly and again I said, “Adam, back to bed, please? I’m cold.”
My words finally penetrated his reeling mind and he followed me back to the bedroom and we crawled into the chilly sheets, holding one another tightly.
Sleep was a long time coming for both of us.
Today is our anniversary in a way, sort of. One month ago today we stood on Monte Berico and saw each other for the first time. Only 1 short month ago and yet it feels like so much longer, like we’ve been together much longer. He is indelibly written into my heart and mind now and I cannot imagine my life without him.
One month isn’t long, and yet I grew up hearing the story of my Mom and Dad. They had known each other for only two weeks when Dad convinced her to marry him. So by those terms Adam and I have been together forever practically. Mom and Dad have been married for 50 years and still adore each other. Nobody ever had a better example of the joy of marriage than I did, and yet I failed at it utterly. Who’s to say that I won’t again? How do you know when it’s right?
Except that somehow I did know; I knew it with a certainty than inhabited every nook and cranny of my heart, body and soul. I’ve known pretty much from the start except that I still tried to run away from it. I knew that I would never run again, in fact I knew that I would fight tooth and nail to make it work.
I didn’t want to get out of bed today. I wanted to stay here with Adam and let the rest of the world carry on without us. Yet I knew that we had to get up and getting up meant another call to the detectives, more questions and still no answers. I sighed and tried to pull the covers up over me farther in an attempt to hide.
I felt Adam’s lips moving lightly over my neck, gently kissing me and sending shivers up my spine. I rolled over to face him and wrapped my arm around his waist. He ducked his head down to kiss me and neither of us worried about morning breath.
“Happy anniversary love,” he told me, before kissing me again. He pulled me tightly to him and I put my leg over his hip so I could feel his arousal against me. I wiggled until he was firmly inside me and felt myself contract around him as my body adjusted to him.
I heard him draw his breath in quickly and sharply as he sank deep within my warm and wet body. It was a primitive response, profoundly intense and my body answered with its own response, my muscles tightly gripping him within me.
Our mouths melted together, searching and exploring and making me feel so alive. Adams hands ran wildly over my back, pulling me to him with each thrust into my willing body and soon the only thing I knew was him filling me as he drove rapidly into me, until we were both climaxing together.
We were both moaning; sounds that came from deep within our throats. I gave into the tingling sensations and I held him to me as tightly as I could, feeling both of our bodies contract with our orgasms.
The ringing phone brought us out of the blissful state we were both in. Adam groaned and reached to answer it. I peeked over his shoulder and saw that it was almost 11:00!
“Yes, I’m back for a few days. No, I suppose that would be good and actually, we found something last night that you should see.”
He was obviously talking to the detectives and he listened for another moment before saying, “Yes, 1:00 will be fine. Certainly. Good bye.”
He hung up the phone and said, “I guess you realize that was the detectives. Amazing, they must be psychic!” he tried to joke.
“Yeah, them and my parents,” I tried to get into the spirit, but it just didn’t feel right. “What an anniversary, huh?”
“It’s only for a small portion of the day. The rest of it I intend to keep you right here in this bed! So that means we need showers.”
He got out of the bed and stood there looking at me. I was smiling and my eyes were half closed, admiring him. He stole the covers away from me; knowing that would get me to move and I jumped up and followed him into the bathroom.
After our shower, we headed into the kitchen and Adam took charge, fixing our breakfast which consisted of grilled ham, scrambled eggs and toast. It was delicious, but I was so happy that Adam was here it could have been cardboard for all I might have noticed. But I didn’t tell him that!
We had the kitchen cleaned up in plenty of time before the detectives arrived and as much as I would rather not; I went in to check the e-mail. I was praying that there wouldn’t be anything there and that much at least went right. But I showed the e-mail to Adam and even though I had told him what it said, the reality of actually seeing it made him blanch.
I was standing behind him since he was sitting in the computer chair to read the message and his shoulders seemed to slump with all the worries again. I put my arms around him and held him tight. I understood what reading that does to you and I didn’t let him go until I felt the tension start to ebb from his shoulders.
He swiveled around in the chair and focused on me, his expression inscrutable. I brushed a stray curl off of his forehead and leaned over to place a soft kiss there. He closed his eyes and I knew he was in pain; that message was awful.
The doorbell rang then and I told Adam to stay put and that I would get it. I peeked out and saw that it was the detectives and unbolted the door and let them in.
“Good afternoon Sarah,” Detective Arnold said.
“Good afternoon detectives. Adam is in the family room, I was just showing him the e-mail. C’mon in,” I told them, heading to the family room where Adam was again staring at the screen.
“Adam, the detectives are here,” I told him. “Can I get you some coffee?”
They both told me no and took a seat on the couch in there. Adam again swiveled the chair around to face them and I sat in another nearby chair. They both had their notebooks out, ready to take notes and I remembered that the pictures were in the kitchen, so I excused myself for a moment to go and get them.
When I came back they were asking Adam questions about the e-mail and he was answering.
“No, I really don’t have any idea who would write that. You must realize that I just haven’t dated all that much and when I did it was years ago, before I married. Surely if someone had a grudge about me from that time they would have acted on it before?”
“It does sort of lead us back to that actress, uh, Rachel Tomlinson?” Detective Arnold was looking through her notes and verified, “Yes, Rachel Tomlinson.”
“Look, I can see where she could look rather suspicious, but I really think you are on the wrong track with her. I worked with her this week and she isn’t holding a grudge about all this, she just isn’t. Frankly I don’t think she is capable of staying focused on something for this long.”
I interrupted the conversation. I could tell that Adam was getting frustrated with them again so I held out the picture to Detective Arnold, who seemed to be the one who was questioning Adam the most.
“Uh, here is the picture we wanted you to see. I just had them developed yesterday, although they were taken in Italy. This one was on top of the Tower of Pisa, and I was taking the sunset, but look there on the right side, barely visible is someone wearing a blue hoodie, probably the person who knocked Adam down.”
They both stared hard at the picture, then Detective Rodriguez took it over by the window where there was more light.
“You can’t really make anything out in this. Do you have the negative?”
“Yes, I guess so. We were thinking that maybe it could be blown up or something and maybe we could recognize the face. I mean, we looked at it with a magnifying glass and you can’t see much, but you never know…”
“Well, it’s certainly worth a try. You’re sure that it is the person?” they asked as I was digging through the folder for the negative.
“Yes, I believe so. It was late and there really weren’t that many people up there still, especially I imagine someone who was wearing a navy blue hoodie.”
“All right, we’ll take it and see what can be done with it. Did you carefully check all the other pictures to make sure you didn’t have them in any other shots?”
Adam and I looked at each other in surprise; we hadn’t done that. Actually, after we saw that we didn’t look at any more pictures, so I pulled them out and we started examining them. And we found one more possibility; a long shot taken outside the tower, on the ground. Again, you could just barely see the person in the hoodie, standing off to one side. There were several other people near, although they didn’t seem to be talking. But we could tell from that the person in the hoodie probably wasn’t very tall, unless the people near them were all very tall by comparison. You still couldn’t see their face though, but they took that negative too.
“So it is likely a woman then?” Adam asked. “I mean, because they aren’t very tall?”
“Yes, that is the most likely assumption. How tall is Rachel Tomlinson?”
Adam frowned as he thought about it. “She is taller than Sarah, probably 5’10 I would imagine. But so are many women.”
“Yes, that’s true Mr. Richland. But maybe we’ll know more after the pictures are examined. When are you going back to Dallas?”
“We’ll be leaving Sunday evening,” Adam told them.
“We? As in you and Sarah?” Detective Arnold said with a frown.
“Yes, as in Sarah and me. Is there a problem with that detective?”
“No, I guess not. How long will you be gone this time?”
We looked at one another and shrugged; we hadn’t talked about that. And then I remembered my doctor’s appointment on November 1st and I told them about that.
“So you at least will be back for that then Sarah?” she asked me.
“Yes. It’s in the middle of the week so I imagine that Adam will be working. But I won’t be staying here long, maybe only long enough to visit my friend in the hospital, but that’s all.”
“Okay then. We have all the numbers to get a hold of you when we get the information on the pictures or on the e-mail, so we’ll be going now. Please contact us if you think of something else that might be helpful. Good afternoon.”
Adam showed them out and I heard him close and lock the front door before heading back into the family room.
He came back into the room and stood before me; holding his hand out to me and his face was solemn and pinched. I stood up and went into his arms and for several minutes it was only us in the world; quietly holding one another.
The phone rang again, pulling us out of our silent reverie and I went over to the desk and picked it up.
“Hello,” I answered impatiently.
“Sarah?” my friend Karen asked. “How are you? I haven’t spoken with you for awhile; I just wanted to check in. We really miss you here at work, Roxanne just can’t seem to get things right!”
As is usual Karen fashion, everything was said in a rush, like one giant exhale and it did make me smile. She was one of my co-workers; one of my favorite co-workers in fact. Roxanne was the woman who was taking over my clients while I was out and evidently things weren’t going smoothly.
I moved over to sit on the couch, prepared to chat a bit with her and Adam smiled at me and then went back to looking at the rest of the pictures. As I listened to Karen catch me up on everything I watched Adam as he looked at the pictures. Some he smiled at and a few actually made him laugh; I knew what he was feeling. He was reliving all those wonderful memories the same as I had when I looked at them.
All that was required from me in this conversation was an occasional “Okay” or “Yeah”; it made it pretty simple actually. Fifteen minutes later Karen had run out of steam and never really realized that I hadn’t said much at all. We told each other that we would talk soon and said good bye.
I sat the phone down and leaned over Adam’s shoulder and smiled when I saw the picture he was looking at. It was taken in California and had Derek, Mark, Tristan and Geoff playing out on the beach, throwing the Frisbee. Derek was helping Geoff and he was looking at him with such happiness. Geoff’s face was a study in concentration as he prepared to throw the Frisbee. It was a really good picture that conveyed so much and it made my breath catch in my throat to see it.
Adam looked up and saw the expression on my face and said, “He is going to be a great dad you know.”
“Yeah, I do. That’s almost amazing to me since he had such a small amount of experiences to have learned from, you know? His dad never really put in too much time in the parenting area.”
“But you did Sarah.” I opened my mouth to protest and Adam laid his finger against my lips so he could finish his thought. “It doesn’t matter that you are his mother or father, what mattered was that you did the job; you instilled in him what a good parent does and conversely, his dad provided the knowledge of what a good parent doesn’t do. It does all balance out. I don’t see that either one of your kids lacks for integrity, love or determination. You did your job; you gave them the best you could and it was enough.”
I nodded my head and then bestowed upon him the most brilliant smile I could and then he pulled me down onto this lap and laid his head against my shoulder.“It will all eventually be okay Adam; you know that? You do know that, right?”
He nodded his head and I felt the movement against my shoulder. It reminded me of a child; so vulnerable and yet hopeful all at the same time.
“Hey,” I said, trying to change the mood. “What would you like to do for our anniversary? A whole month, who’da thunk?”
He lifted his head and smiled at my silly words. “I’m not sure how to answer that without getting myself into trouble,” he said, but I could tell that his frame of mind was changing.
“Well, better then to just keep your mouth closed and let me have my way with you!” I quipped.
“Really? You want to have your way with me? Which way would that be?” he asked, running his finger down the front of my blouse, stopping to unfasten the first button and then placing a hot and stimulating kiss where his finger had just been.
‘Um, feeling ‘up’ to a little more recreation are you?” I teased. I didn’t know whether to be astonished by this or not. Only a few hours had passed since we had made love and he was ready again. I could feel the proof of that against my hip.
I shifted on his lap so that I was straddling him and we were face to face, heart to heart. I leaned forward and lightly kissed his mouth, then pulled back to look at him. Our eyes were locked, burning into one another’s really and I realized I was biting my lower lip as I looked at him. I wanted him, no doubt and my nipples grew hard, desire radiating outwards from them, making me shiver. I leaned forward to kiss him again and the phone interrupted once again, startling both of us from the sensual reverie.
Adam answered and I had to laugh as soon as I realized it was mom. I’m telling you, she has built in radar. I don’t think I do that to my kids, at least I hope not!
“Yes, yes, I’m fine, got in late last night. No, we’ll be here until Sunday afternoon.” He paused and smiled at me as I was being devilish and running my hands provocatively over his chest.
“Why yes, she is right here, let me hand her the phone!” he said, with a wicked grin. “Here love, it’s your Mom!”
I was suddenly waving my hands in front of him silently saying, “No, NO,” and he just put the phone into my hand anyway and chuckled. I rolled my eyes dramatically and held the phone up to me and said, “Hi Mom.”
“Hello Sarah. Your Dad wanted to know if you two would like to come over for barbeque tomorrow night? He found some good steaks at the market and is dying to cook them.”
“Um hm, barbeque, tomorrow night?” I repeated so that Adam could hear. He nodded his head and whispered into my ear, “Find out what we can bring.”
“Yes Mom, that sounds fine. Adam wants to know what we should bring?”
“Some kind of salad? Can you be a bit more specific?” I paused, waiting for her to decide. “Well Mom, I mean, like a garden salad, fruit salad, jello, what?”
“Just what ever you’d like dear. You know your Dad and I aren’t fussy. We’ll see you then,” and just like that the conversation was over.
“Bye,” I said into an empty phone line before hanging up. I leaned my forehead against Adam’s in frustration. What I wanted to do was bang my head against the wall.
“I guess the good news is that they like you,” I told him, still fretting over the call.
“And the bad news would be…?”
“That they like you.” I crawled off his lap. Romance was gone from my mind right now. “How about going up to see Cass for a few minutes?”
“Sure. Let me grab my new hat!” he laughed, adopting what I presumed was a Texan accent.
I could only imagine what that might be. A cowboy hat maybe? But then I remembered his carry on and knew that wasn’t it. Except I was wrong!
Adam came out of the bedroom wearing a Cowboy hat; make that Dallas Cowboys that is. “You know there cowboy, that hat’s likely to get you in trouble around here. This is Chiefs territory,” I told him while watching him put on his pair of sunglasses. “C’mon, but if I see some 250 pound Chiefs fan bearing down on you, I’m heading for the hills!”
But God did he look sexy!
When we got out to the garage he said to me, “Why don’t you drive? I know it’s not far and you need the practice.”
I looked at him, trying to judge whether he was just being helpful, or was trying to make me do it ‘for my own good’, but all I saw on his face was a smile and a little concern.
I took the keys from him and said, “Okay. Well come on then.”
We got into the car and I hit the switch to open the door and waited patiently for it to swing up. When it was wide open I put the car into reverse and slowly backed out. It felt weird; it had been over a month since I drove my own car and it was even weirder because Adam was sitting next to me.
For some reason though, that made me feel more confident as opposed to being more nervous as I imagined it would. Life really was getting back to normal.
A CD that had been in the player started and we heard Kenny Loggins singing The Real Thing and it seemed to suite me fine. This has always been one of my favorites of his. Actually the CD was another compilation that I had made awhile back. I called this one A Little Country—Sort Of since it was mainly country, but had things like the Kenny Loggins on it and Joshua Kadison and others that weren’t really country, but sort of fit the flavor of the CD.
As I listened to the song it reminded me that he had written this for his daughter, when he and her mom had divorced. It was a way to try to explain that sometimes it is better for parents to be apart, because they can love you better that way. This made me think of Adam and Tamara, and how they definitely were better apart. And the boys accepted that so well. They still had two very loving parents who just didn’t happen to live together. I don’t think that either of the boys could even remember a time when Adam and Tamara lived together; they were 2 and 1 when Tamara and Adam divorced. So maybe this seemed like the norm to them I guessed.
The next song up was Jimmy Buffett singing Come Monday and it made me smile. I remembered a couple of years ago Cassie and I went to Kansas City on a party bus tour to see him and we had such a great time that evening. It was so much fun to be ‘Parrot Heads’ for the night. Along with the other thousands of fans we sat there and drank margaritas and sang at the top of our lungs to Margaritaville.
I was giggling when I pulled into the hospital parking lot and Adam asked me what was so funny.
“Just wait for a minute until we see Cassie, and I think you’ll figure it out pretty quickly,” I told him with a chuckle.
Cassie was in her room, sitting up reading when we got there and as soon as I saw she was alone I started singing, Wasting away again in 'Margaritaville, searching for my lost shaker of salt', and she picked up with ‘Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame, but I know it’s nobody’s fault!’
“Oh man, does this mean you brought me some tequila?” she asked, a hopeful look in her eye.
“Naw, I just brought you a song in my heart and memories of a killer concert. Oh yeah, and this guy I found wandering around the airport last night!” I said, pointing to Adam with a laugh.
“Him?” she asked, looking perplexed. “Damn, you better watch it ‘cuz if he keeps on wearing that hat he’s gonna get you both killed!”
“I tried to tell him that but he just doesn’t listen. I don’t think he realizes how seriously people take their football around here.”
Adam laughed and bent over to kiss Cassie on the cheek. “Don’t let her kid you, she’s a thrill seeker and would probably take bets on the winner.”
Cass and I looked at one another and burst out into hilarious laughter. Adam knew there was something we weren’t sharing and I knew also that he would bring it up later. I might even tell him I decided.
“Well, so our favorite romantic hero has rode back into town, huh?” she teased.
“Romantic hero? Good God I hope not. I haven’t the time for such trivialities. I play manly men, rough guys, not those frou-frou fella’s!” He pulled up a couple of chairs for us and leaned over and took Cassie’s hands in his.
“How are you Cass? You are looking wonderful. I think I detect a sparkle in your eyes!”
“Maybe, maybe… I’m good Adam, walking a little more everyday, feeling stronger all the time. Of course, it’s still tiring, but I can see how it pays off. I could actually be out of here in time for Thanksgiving they tell me. I’d still have to continue with therapy 3 times a week, but I could actually go home by then!”
I grinned from eat to ear at that news. “When did they tell you that?”
“Just this morning. Tomorrow I will try to climb a couple of stairs. It kind of scares me because my balance is still off a bit, but I have to face it sooner or later.”
“Cassie, that is wonderful. And you can do it you know; if I can drive the car you can climb the stairs!”
“Your Mom told me you sort of panicked when she made you drive home the other day. But you did it Sarah. I think we’re both going to be just fine!”
“Yeah, I did panic, but I did do it. And I drove here today too. So it will get better, I know it will. Hey, congratulate us! Today is our one month anniversary!”
“Woo hoo! A whole freakin’ month. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! So, you got big plans?”
“Yeah. I’m going to take him home, tie him to the bed and not let him up until tomorrow!” I looked at Adam then, who was grinning broadly and said, “How’s that sound big guy?”
“Um, race you home?”
“You got it, soon!” I told him, squeezing his hand. “Cass, how is Dr. Gorgeous?”
A flush immediately spread up over her face and other areas we couldn’t see I was sure. When my diminutive red-headed friend blushes, you can’t miss it.
“He’s very good thanks. Also very cute. I think I am dangerously close to falling head over heels in love with him. You gotta help me here Sarah!”
And right then the object of her affections walked into the room. Cassie’s face again lit up like a roman candle, but she looked beautiful; like a woman in love. And damn if he didn’t look like a man in love too!
We all chatted for a few minutes before Adam and I excused ourselves. As we were heading out the door Cassie called out, “Happy Anniversary!” and then the door closed behind us with a soft thump.
We held hands as we walked out to the car. I gave the keys to Adam this time, ready to relinquish control for awhile.
“Do we need anything at home love?”
“Nope, all taken care of. Plenty of groceries, bubble bath, all the necessities!”
He flashed me the dimple smile and suddenly I couldn’t wait to get him home!