I am happy to welcome Lizzy S to this blog as my beta or in other words, proof-reader and person generally in charge of cleaning up the little messes that you all so often kindly ignore. Lizzy is a college student in Wisconsin and I appreciate her help enormously! Please help me to welcome her and thank her for her efforts!
Tamara and I were finishing our second glasses of wine when the boys came in to see us, their game evidently over. Mark kissed Tamara as Adam did the same to me. Mark grabbed a couple more wine glasses and went to pour some for him and Adam, only to find the bottle was empty.
“Whoa. You two doing okay? A whole bottle already,” he laughed, and Adam raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“Gee Mark, do you have any idea at all what time Sarah and I got home?” Tamara asked, trying to keep a straight face.
“Uh, I don’t know; maybe 10 -15 minutes ago?” he guessed, looking at the clock behind Tamara.
“Oh, try 1 hour and 15 minutes ago, bud.”
“Holy shi--, uh, really?” he asked, looking at Adam as if to say “can this be possible?” Adam shrugged and looked at me, trying to see if it was true.
I grinned and said, “Sorry Adam, but she is telling the truth. You boys have been playing so hard you didn’t even notice!”
Tristan and Geoff had greeted Tamara and then me with hugs, but they decided enough time had been wasted and together chorused, “We’re hungry! When is dinner?” They glanced around the kitchen looking for any dinner preparations, and when they couldn’t detect any they both looked a little worried.
Tamara reassured them, “We’re going to have Chinese for dinner; how does that sound, guys?”
“Oh good!” Tristan said. “I want almond chicken and uh, egg rolls and everything!”
“Me too,” put in Geoff. “’Cept I want sweet and sour chicken and crab Rangoon.”
“Okay, okay,” Tamara said, grabbing a piece of paper and a pen. “Let me write this down.” Everyone spoke up and added to the order until I was positive there was ten times too much food, and then I looked at who was here and laughed. I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as too much food with this group.
Tamara called in the order and they said it would be 45 minutes until delivery, so we prepared to wait. Mark grabbed another bottle of wine out of the fridge and poured some for himself and Adam and looked as if he wasn’t sure whether he should pour more for Tamara and me. I just smiled and said thanks as he decided to pour some more for us; this was turning into a lovely day and I felt like getting a little tipsy. Besides, I decided, Adam will probably work it out of me later.
Adam leaned down and kissed me once again, a slower, deeper kiss this time, and pulled his mouth away with a puzzled look on his face. He licked his lips and finally exclaimed, “You had chocolate!”
I giggled and replied, “Yes, chocolate ice cream in fact!”
“Oh, you’re cruel. Mama Moo’s, I suppose?” he asked, looking positively glum.
“Yes, it was wonderful,” I teased. “Chocolate cherry amaretto and cookies and cream!”
“Two scoops? Awww,” he groaned. “Not fair, not fair at all.”
I reached out and ran my fingers through his hair and sympathized, “Poor Adam. No chocolate for him!”
Mark and Tamara were watching this exchange with amusement; both were aware of Adam’s penchant for chocolate.
“She totally spoiled me in Wichita. Had chocolates from a local place that I would have murdered for; completely luscious, really…” he said, shaking his head in fond memory of it.
“I’ll have some there at Thanksgiving, I promise. Oh, and Tamara, there is a lovely bed and breakfast about a block from my house, very old and quaint, and I went ahead and booked a suite for you all; I hope that was okay? You can go online and check it out; it’s called The Inn at the Park, in the College Hill area where I live.”
“Oh Sarah, it sounds wonderful. I’ll check it out.”
“Daddy, are we going to stay with you in Wichita?” Geoff asked, looking back and forth from Adam to me.
Adam looked at me and said, “We’ll talk about that when you get there, okay?” None of us said anything; we weren’t sure what to say. All we could do was hope this was all taken care of by then, but at less than a month away it didn’t seem very likely to any of us.
Geoff’s lower lip quivered a bit, but he just said okay, and he and Tristan went off to play until dinner got here.
After they were out of the room Tamara asked Adam, “Did they badger you about staying all night?”
“No, not too much. They asked and I told them that I didn’t know what Sarah and I might be doing and that we would spend the whole weekend together. That seemed to satisfy them. I know it’s for the best, but it still upsets me, Tamara. It’s the right thing, I know, but…” he trailed off.
His hand was lying on the counter next to his glass of wine. I reached out and held it, squeezing it gently. He looked at me and smiled then, and I could see that he accepted it; he just didn’t like it.
“So, what did you do today?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“I took the car in for servicing, you know, the oil changing bit and such.”
It still seemed amazing to me that he did perfectly ordinary things like that; getting the car serviced, going to the market. It definitely wasn’t the image that most people had of celebrities, that’s for sure. I guess we just expect that those things get done magically or by someone they pay to do it. That is probably the case sometimes, but Adam is definitely a hands-on kind of guy; he wants to make sure it’s all done the way he wants, which made me think back to Tamara’s comments earlier about him and kitchens. It would be interesting to see how long he could hold out against the chaos and disorganization of my kitchen. Generally I’ve not noticed him to be terribly neat. He can leave towels, shoes, and socks lying around with the best of them, I remembered with a laugh.
I don’t know if the view I have of Hollywood lifestyles is accurate or not. True, the only up close and personal views I have had are Adam and Tamara and Mark. I looked around Tamara’s house, and while it was big and lovely, she still did her own cooking. I was sure she probably had a housekeeper or someone who comes in like Adam does, but they lived pretty normally really. They didn’t have chauffeurs and assistants running around. I was sure that between them they had the money for that infamous Hollywood lifestyle, and yet that isn’t the life they lead. I admired them for that a great deal, and my provincial mid-western outlook said that is definitely the best thing for the kids; I also knew that there had to be times when Hollywood insinuates itself deeply into their lives. I was thinking about awards shows and stuff. Mark has won an Oscar, Tamara has been nominated, and even though he hasn’t won an Oscar, Adam has been nominated and has won BAFTA and Golden Globe awards. They had done the red carpet thing at some point, so they have had those glamorous times, and I wondered how it would feel to be in the limelight like that with Adam: the glare of lights and cameras flashing, the interviews and parties. Would I fit in?
Could I fit in?
It took me a few moments to realize that Adam was talking to me. I looked around at their faces, all regarding me curiously. “Sarah,” Adam was saying, “Sarah!”
“Oh sorry, I was just wool-gathering, I guess. What did you say?” I asked, trying to shake loose the thoughts that were plaguing me right then. I felt a guilty flush spread across my face, and I wasn’t even sure why.
“I asked if you had a good shopping trip.” Adam repeated for me. He reached over and touched the side of my face softly; I decided he must have thought I was having dirty thoughts since I had blushed. I observed the way Tamara and Mark were both looking at me and realized they thought so too. I decided to just ignore all their speculation and answer the question.
“Uh yeah, I did. We had a great time,” I stated, looking at Tamara and seeing her nod in agreement. “It was fun, and productive too, I might add. No more running around wondering what to wear!”
“Well then, here’s to happy women,” Mark said, raising his glass and then leaning over and kissing Tamara. Her eyes lit up when he did that, and it was so nice to see. I don’t think Mark is as demonstrably affectionate as Adam is, or maybe he is just uncomfortable displaying it in front of Adam and me. He and Tamara are so much in love; it’s obvious to see, and I knew that she was very happy with him. They made a good couple; that balance thing that Tamara talked about clearly wasn’t a problem for them. I was intrigued by their relationship, maybe much more than was good or healthy for me, but I did look forward to seeing what the future held for them, if they would get married or not. Tamara hadn’t said anything about that, and neither had Adam.
“Yes,” Adam repeated, “To happy women.” He flashed me his dimple smile and I just melted, right then and there. I smiled back and mouthed, “I love you” and he said the same thing back. And for that moment we were all alone in the world.
The boys came running back into the kitchen right then, looking around to see if dinner was here yet. I had to smile because even though they were obviously disappointed, they didn’t say a word about it. They stood there around the breakfast bar and looked at us all sitting there. They probably thought just sitting and talking was boring, but I was having the best time. Tamara and Mark were on one side of the counter, and he had his arm around her; Adam and I were on the other side holding hands.
“So Tristan,” I said, “Are you ready for your game tomorrow? I can’t wait to see it.”
He swiped the air with his hand imitating a paw and growled, “Tigers rule!” and I laughed hard; it was just so cute. He had the team spirit thing down quite well.
Geoff immediately imitated the gesture with a fierce growl of his own and Tristan said to him, “You aren’t a Tiger, you can’t do that!”
“Can too!” Geoff yelled. “Mommy says I can have team spirit, even if I’m not on the team. Ain’t that right, mommy?”
“Isn’t, not ain’t, Geoff. And yes, Tristan, you should be proud that your little brother wants to show spirit for your team. It’s very kind of him,” she said as she watched Tristan’s face go from outrage to acceptance.
“All right, you can growl if you want to, Geoff,” Tristan finally agreed. Then his face came alive and he taunted, “You can be a baby Tiger!”
“I ain’t no baby!” Geoff screeched in indignation. “Mommy, am I a baby? I ain’t no baby, Tristan!” A big tear slipped down his face, which only gave his brother more fuel.
“Are too. Look, you’re crying like a baby,” Tristan said, in the way of big brothers the world over as they look for a weakness in a younger sibling to take advantage of.
Tamara slightly shook her head, as if she had heard this same conversation many times. She and Adam shared a look of frustration, and Adam tried to hide a grin behind his hand. It was surprisingly Mark who handled the situation.
“Alright – enough. Both of you had better think about what you’ve said and then apologize. Tristan, why did you say that to Geoff?”
Tristan defiantly looked at Mark before answering, “Cuz he hangs around all the time and my friends laugh at me.” He cast a baleful look at Geoff, who wiped the tears off of his face and stared back at Tristan.
“I just want to be like you, Tristan, you’re good and you don’t even cry when the ball hits you,” Geoff said, explaining his feelings.
We were all quiet as Tristan thought over what Geoff had said. He seemed to accept it and finally said, “Geoff, maybe someday you can play too, I guess, when you get bigger. I’m sorry,” he apologized. Geoff’s face brightened immediately and then Tristan added, “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“Did not!” Geoff yelled.
“Did too!” Tristan exclaimed loudly.
We were saved then by the doorbell. Tamara immediately stood up to answer it and Mark followed, throwing a look at the boys over his shoulder as he left the room. They were standing there glaring at one another; both of them had their hands clenched into balls at their sides.
“All right, you two,” Adam said. “If you want any dinner you had better go and wash your hands and behave in a civil manner towards one another, or you’ll get no dinner. Do you understand me?”
Two sets of eyes widened at their father’s threat. Richland men take their dinner very seriously and if their dad made that threat, he meant business; they both knew that. Wordlessly they left the room to go wash their hands.
“I don’t know why those two can’t just treat each other with respect. Honestly, you’d think they had been raised by baboons or something,” Adam muttered after they had left the room.
“C’mon Adam, you mean that you and Aidan got along all the time? Aidan never followed you around, and you never got upset if he did?” I asked skeptically.
“No – well, I,” he closed his mouth as soon as it opened and he thought about his answer for a moment. “I suppose I did. It just bothers me to see them do it, that’s all. They’re brothers.”
“Yes, they’re brothers, but they’re also just kids, each one trying to establish who they are, and at that age you are at least partially defined by your friends and how you act. That’s all. They’ll grow out of it. Don’t take it all so seriously,” I told him.
Tamara and Mark came back in carrying several huge bags of Chinese take-out and sat them down on the counter. Mark went to the cabinet and grabbed plates while Tamara opened the bags and started pulling boxes out. I took the plates and silverware from Mark and went to set the table. I could already smell the food, and it smelled wonderful, I thought.
The boys came back in after that and were chatting about the game they had played as if the earlier blowup had never happened. I smiled to myself and thought how resilient kids are. They had let it go already, and I could see that Adam was still fretting about it. He was pouring milk into glasses for the boys and watching them on the sly, trying to see if they really were going to get along.
We got all the food over to the table, and there was a huge variety of dinner choices. Along with the silverware, Tamara pulled out some chopsticks and looked at me and then motioned to Adam with her eyes. I nodded my head and grinned. Her head tipped briefly towards Adam, and we both laughed. Adam missed the whole exchange, but he turned around at the sounds of our laughter.
Tamara held up a pair of chopsticks and questioned, “Adam?”
I was pressing my lips together tightly and trying so hard not to laugh. Adam took them and said, “Just give me the bloody things, will you?”
She handed them to him without a word and we all sat down quietly. The boys picked up their napkins and laid them across their laps, looking at all the food expectantly. Tamara smiled as she gave the boys their choices, which I noticed varied from what they had requested earlier. I saw that it didn’t seem to slow them down a bit, though, as they both started eating.
There was a wide variety of dishes to choose from; along with the standard fried rice there were several kinds of chicken dishes, orange beef, sweet and sour pork, moo goo gai pan, and some kind of spicy shrimp, as well as egg rolls, spring rolls, crab Rangoon, and fried dumplings. Let me just say that it looked like way too much food, and yet in the end it wasn’t.
Adam muddled through a bit with the chopsticks and then gave up and reached for his fork. Mark smiled at him because he had been using his fork all along. Again the boys amazed me with how well-mannered they were at the table. They didn’t talk with their mouths full or interrupt conversation; they used their napkins frequently as well. And they were getting along like best friends.
The talk had gone back to the soccer game again, but this time it was peaceful. Tristan was giving a play-by-play recap of his last game with frequent interruptions by Geoff, but Tristan didn’t seem to mind this time.
I could only hope that this trip went smoothly. We both needed it to; we were both very stressed. I could see it in Adam’s demeanor today. He didn’t seem to have as much patience, I thought, as I thought back to the boys’ behavior earlier. Not that I would have reacted any differently with Derek and Lissa, really; it’s a normal parental thing, wanting your kids to get along with each other. I wondered about him letting Mark handle it at first. That was interesting to me and actually told me a couple of things: that he trusted Mark to handle it fairly, and that he was comfortable letting him do it.
And Mark was obviously comfortable doing it. He didn’t hesitate or look to Tamara or Adam for approval before stepping in, either. That showed me that he had a vested interest in this family group, so to speak, and that he planned on being a part of it. So maybe there will be a wedding for those two, I thought with an inward smile.
I also thought about the unusual circumstances of the relationship between Adam and Tamara and how Mark and I fit into it all. I had to admit that in my experiences and from listening to family and friends talk about inter-family relationships, this was an unusual situation: Adam and Tamara still being friends and working for the best possible interests for the boys, both of them accepting and even welcoming new partners into the mix. Adam trusted that Tamara wouldn’t bring in someone who wouldn’t want the best for the boys, and Tamara trusted the same for Adam. And that’s pretty amazing.
I couldn’t see any resentment in Tamara’s attitude towards me and I knew that Adam had none about Mark. He seemed to be genuinely happy for Tamara and Mark and enjoyed both of their company. He didn’t feel awkward about the family situation – that is, Mark living here with Tamara and the boys – or jealous about any relationship that they had, together or with the boys. And Tamara gave no indication of being jealous of me either.
What I didn’t understand was how they all did it. Most ex-spouses wouldn’t, that’s for sure. Is it really just a matter of recognizing that you aren’t well suited and then accepting it? Of wanting that other person to be happy and then being happy in turn when they find that happiness with someone else?
I wouldn’t care a bit if Randy got remarried or not, but the reason for that is that I don’t care about him at all. I can tolerate him on the rare occasions when I see him, because he is no longer in my heart at all, almost like he never was. It’s a form of complete indifference. Sometimes I look at him and marvel at the fact that we were actually married for all those years. He seems to be a complete stranger to me; that’s weird, I know.
But Adam and Tamara still had feelings for one another; they were wonderful friends and shared the joys of parenthood with little fussing, at least as far as I could tell. And it seemed genuine to me, it really did.
I tried to focus back on the dinner conversation, which was still about soccer. Apparently this game Saturday was an important one; if the Tigers win they’ll go into the semi-finals. They seemed to have a good coach from what Tamara and Mark said; he cared more about the welfare and fairness of the game than the winning, and that gave the team an extra bit of help. It helped to erase anger and jealously if all the kids got to play, and they did, the coach made sure of it.
The discussion finally wound down, and the boys went off to watch TV for a bit while we got the kitchen cleaned up. That didn’t take long, and soon all was put away and the dishwasher was humming.
Adam turned to me and asked, “Sarah, are you ready to head home? I’m beat,” he admitted.
“Sure. Tamara, is there anything else that needs to be done?”
“Nope. And you do look tired, Adam. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. Just tired. It’s been stressful lately. Sorry if I was a grouch.”
“No, you weren’t. Go home and just chill out. And try not to worry about anything, okay? Whoever is doing this is still in Texas, they have to be.” She reached up and hugged him and then hugged me as well.
Mark held his hand out to Adam and they clasped hands and Mark reached out and put his other hand on Adam’s arm. “Hang in there, Adam, the police will get to the bottom of it all, we have to believe that. And you know you can call me if I can do anything, okay?”
Adam nodded silently as I hugged Mark goodbye. “Take care of him Sarah, make him snap out of his funk,” Mark whispered in my ear. I nodded and said aloud, “Thanks so much for the evening. I had such a great time. And thanks for the help shopping, I appreciate it a lot,” I added.
At the front door Adam called out to the boys, “Tristan, Geoff, we’re leaving. Come and say goodbye.”
Both boys came running into the entry way for hugs and kisses. I was again included, and that felt so good. These two little guys were quickly stealing my heart, I realized, and it felt really wonderful.
As Adam hugged Geoff, he said, “Now, we’ll see you both tomorrow morning, all right?”
“Can’t we spend the night with you tonight, daddy?” Geoff asked, his face suddenly sad.
Tamara stepped up then and said, “No, remember your dad and Sarah have plans.” Both of their faces looked crushed and she added, “C’mon, you’ll see them tomorrow morning, it’s only for one night!”
They both nodded and Adam and I left. I could tell he felt awful. I grabbed his hand as we walked out to the car, only letting it go when he opened the door for me. I stood up on my toes to give him a kiss, and he pulled me quickly and firmly into his arms and rested his head against my shoulder for a moment.
“It’s all right, Adam. It’s okay to be upset, though; you can talk about it.”
He let me go, and after I had sat down he closed my door and went around the car to get in himself. “Oh, where are all your purchases?” he asked, not seeing them in the car.
“Tamara and I took them by our house on the way here. They are all piled in our bedroom!” I laughed. “Oh, and I saw a wonderful little lingerie store in the mall.”
“Did you make any purchases there?” he inquired teasingly.
“No, we didn’t even go in. I – I felt kind of weird shopping for lingerie with her. Silly, I know.”
“Well, maybe we can make a trip ourselves,” he said, casting me a sidelong look.
I watched him shift gears in the car, his movements so confidant and purposeful. He handled the intense power of this car with the same attention and devotion he, well, that he handled me with. The thought was somehow exciting to me.
Kind of kinky really.
I wondered if there was anything this man could do that didn’t at least slightly turn me on.
Yeah, kiss Rachel Tomlinson, I thought miserably.
We headed out to the Pacific Coast Highway, and I watched as the shore drifted quickly by. I sighed as I thought about how much I had come to love this drive, this place in such a short time. I really could live here, I realized. Yes, I would miss my family terribly, there’s no excusing that. But somehow I felt as if I had come home when I came here the first time. Adam makes me feel like that too, and at first I thought that was what I was feeling, just the comfort of being with Adam. But it’s more than that; my soul just sort of comes alive here; I thrilled to the smells of the ocean, the sounds of the surf pounding against the shore, the cries of the sea birds drifting along on the air currents high above us.
Coming here would mean letting go of the life I had at home though, of the independence I prize so highly. How did I leave my job, my family and my friends, and if I did, what then? I didn’t think I could be some groupie type of person, following Adam around from job to job. I needed something of my own; I needed to feel that I was contributing to our relationship, that I was valued. And I couldn’t feel that if I did nothing. Could I just kiss him, then, and send him off to these movie sets and stay behind? Did I want to do that?
I leaned my head back against the headrest and another, bigger sigh escaped me, and it caught Adam’s attention. We were almost home when Adam said to me, “What’s wrong, love? You’ve been uncharacteristically quiet all evening. Did everything go well with Tamara?”
It would probably be a logical assumption that something hadn’t gone well with Tamara, but I smiled at that anyway. Tamara and I had had a wonderful afternoon. “Yes, Tamara and I had a lovely time, Adam. I like her so much. I suppose, though, that I’ve been a bit retrospective this evening. I’ve been thinking about lots of things.” I turned to look at him and smiled before adding, “Nothing to do with the, uh, situation. Family stuff, I guess.”
“Family stuff?” Adam asked as he pulled the car into the driveway. He tapped the steering wheel with his fingers as we waited for the garage door to open. “Are you worried or upset about something?” The door went up and we pulled into the garage and waited for the door to close before going into the house.
“No, not worried, Adam. Just, uh, intrigued is maybe a good word. Watching Tamara and Mark’s relationship, your relationship with both of them. You have to admit that it’s certainly not the norm.”
“True,” he said as he opened his car door and stepped out. I joined him, and we made our way into the house. We both headed straight for the bedroom as if by some sort of silent agreement, and I turned the light on so Adam could see the piles of packages on the bed. “You were busy. Did you find what you needed?” he asked, peeking into the different bags.
“Yes, and really even more than I needed. But that’s okay, I enjoyed it. Now I have clothes to hang around here in and stay cool!” I laughed. I started pulling everything out of the bags, thoroughly excited like a child at Christmas.
“Are you going to model them all for me?” he asked, lying down on the bed. He bent his elbow and rested his head on his hand and watched me sorting things out.
“No, there’s nothing here particularly enticing for you, Adam,” I laughed, and then added, “But I love it all.” I bent over and kissed him and then ran my hands through his mass of curls. I caught his eyes watching me, and I smiled and kissed him again and then lay down next to him, staring deeply into those chocolate eyes and getting lost.
“Shall we go down and get into the hot tub? Would you enjoy that?” he asked me.
“Mm hm, I would indeed.” I got up and started undressing right away. He lay there and watched me, his eyes heavy lidded and incredibly sexy. It wasn’t a surprise what was on his mind; it was certainly on mine too. I held my hand out to him, and he reached for it and got to his feet. He pulled me to him for another kiss, which I gladly gave him, and then I lightly pushed him away. “C’mon, we both need that hot tub. Get those clothes off, slowpoke!”
I grabbed my robe and headed downstairs. I decided we needed a bottle of wine and then I shook my head with disbelief over how many glasses of wine I had drunk this evening. Okay, so I would only sip on mine, but I still wanted some. I heard the stereo come on and Five for Fighting started playing. It seemed like a good choice to me as I opened the bottle and grabbed some glasses. Adam came downstairs in his robe and headed out the door to the tub. I grabbed the bottle and the glasses and followed him out and watched as he pulled the cover off and checked the gauges on the water.
He doesn’t turn the tub off when he’s not here, but he does turn it down. I watched him turn the temperature up, and we sat down on the double lounge to wait for the water to warm up a bit.
Adam poured our wine, and we both sipped quietly for a few minutes. I was beginning to feel the past few weeks wash off of me, I thought with joy. I’m going to just pretend that all is right with the world tonight, I decided as I took a sip of my wine. I watched Adam do the same thing and then settle back next to me, leaning his head back against the cushion. He turned his head to look at me, those sexy eyes half-closed again as he put his arm around my shoulders. I snuggled against him and let out a huge breath.
Peace was finally finding us.