Friday, March 30, 2007

Every Little Step

Chapter Seventy-Two
Ryan stared hard at both us and finally exclaimed “What? Two of them?”

“Um well, yes, there has to be. The person in Italy was shorter than that, only a little over 5’ actually. Well, maybe 5’3” at the tallest. And after the pictures were developed in Wichita, Detective Arnold agreed with that,” Adam informed him.

“Pictures?” he practically yelled. “What pictures?” he asked, flipping frantically through his notebook.

“The pictures we took at Pisa when we unwittingly caught the person in the blue hoodie in the frame, twice in fact. Not good enough to see their face, but in one of them specifically, a shot from the side, you could tell they weren’t very tall,” I informed him. He had evidently found the place in his notes that dealt with the pictures and was reading through it. It was safe to say that if it was a shock to Ryan, that was nothing to the realization that Adam and I had.

Two of them meant they could be in different places at once.

Adam reached for my hand and held it tightly and we sat there in silence, the orange and gold sunset creeping around us with softly clinging arms while Ryan read through his notes. Adam got up and turned a patio light on so that Ryan could read his notes better and then he turned the bug zapper on as well, just in case.

My mind was running rampant with different ideas and yes, fears. Two of them. Had there been two of them all along? It sort of made sense, but it was hard enough to suspect one person of this; having two to worry about seemed incomprehensible to me.

Ryan looked up from his notes, and deep furrows lined his normally smooth forehead. He was still thinking about all of this and absentmindedly tapping his closed notebook up and down on the glass tabletop.

“This changes everything; you realize that, don’t you?” he asked.

Adam and I both looked at him silently. What did he expect us to say? Yes, we realized that it changed things; it seemed to complicate them and make them even more intense. We had no idea at all who it was, whether it was two or twenty, and that made the whole situation much more unpredictable.

“Adam, we need to keep someone with you all the time,” Ryan started and Adam immediately shook his head no, very forcefully.

“No, that’s not an option, Ryan, it just isn’t.”

I was looking down at the table, tracing the little raised bumps on the glass with a fingernail and listening to what they were saying. I didn’t want anybody hanging around all the time either, but on the other hand, I didn’t want Adam hurt or worse. Would it be a huge disruption into our lives to have someone with us all the time? Absolutely, but the reward for that was keeping Adam safe, and so to me, it was totally worth it. He was not going to react well to my opinion, though; I already knew that. But I had to tell him and Ryan how I felt.

“Adam, I understand that you don’t want our lives disrupted any more than they already are, but I agree with Ryan; we need someone with us. It’s worth a little inconvenience, Adam, just to know you are safe.”

I could see right away how angry he was about that comment. And so could Ryan, who was watching Adam closely; I’m sure that’s a cop thing, it seems they miss nothing. Adam’s jaw was jutting sharply forward, and I could see the little vein in his temple pulsing rapidly. He caught my eye and while I could see that he was angry, I could also see that it wasn’t all directed toward me.

“Sarah, we don’t need someone with us. It just serves to draw more attention and I will not have it. I refuse to be one of those Hollywood people who think it makes them look important to have a bodyguard trailing around with them.”

He spoke in a quiet tone of voice, but whether Ryan recognized it or not I understood that it was shored up with steel and he had no intention of giving way right now. Maybe we should just change the subject and give him some time to think on it, I thought. I started to say that when he spoke up again.

“No, Sarah, I won’t change my mind on this, so don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you just give me some time I will,” he said with finality.

My mouth opened and then closed again. I still didn’t understand how he read me so well, but I had to hand it to him, he certainly had. But there was still a part of me hoping that he would change his mind. But now was NOT the time to try to do that. “Okay, Adam, okay. I won’t push you on this. Let’s just drop it.” I looked at Ryan with a look that I hope conveyed the fact that if he was smart he would let it go – for now.

He nodded at me almost imperceptibly; he would let it go – for now. He got up and went down the steps to the beach, whether just to explore or to give us a little time I wasn’t sure. But I was determined that whatever we did, it was not going to involve arguing with one another, and when I looked at Adam I could tell he felt the same way.

“Let’s get in the pool, Adam,” I said. It was still reasonably warm and I knew the pool water would be warm. It would be relaxing, I thought. He nodded and got up to go put his suit on. He turned off the outside light on the way, which left only the eerie blue glow of the bug zapper illuminating the patio.

I walked out toward the steps and saw Ryan sitting on the beach. Ryan looked around when he heard my steps and saw that it was only me coming out to the beach. He nodded to me and I sat down beside him. We stared silently out at the water; waves rolling ceaselessly into shore, broken only by the frothy white caps that clung to them.

“Is he always this stubborn?” he asked me, scooping up a handful of sand and letting it trickle through his fingers.

I gave a small exasperated laugh and said, “I think so. Give him time, Ryan. As you can see he doesn’t respond well to pressure like this. Let him think about it.”

“And you really think that’s going to do any good?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t know…” I told him, my voice cracking as I tried hard not to cry. “I know pushing him won’t. There aren’t any other choices that I see.” I stood up to head back up to the patio because I knew that Adam would be down soon. “We’re going to swim for awhile. Why don’t you join us, Ryan?”

He shook his head no and said, “He probably would like it better if I didn’t, Sarah. I’m not his favorite person right now.”

“One thing about Adam is that he doesn’t hold onto things like this. He does like you, Ryan, and he won’t mind if you swim with us, I promise you. It will probably be relaxing and loosen things up. And the water will be heavenly.” I held out my hand to him, and he stared at it hard for a moment before taking it and rising to his feet. Together we walked up the steps and found Adam sitting on the patio, finishing his beer.

“Are you ready to swim, love? Ryan, are you joining us? It’s not a huge pool of course, so I can’t promise you anything other than getting wet, but it is relaxing.”

“Yeah, I’ll go put on that suit that you loaned me. I’ll be right back.”

Before he had even hit the door I dove into the warm water and swam underwater the length of the pool, coming up for air in the deep end, and Adam surfaced a moment after I did. I tread water for a minute and he pulled me over to the side so we could hold on for a moment. He had an ulterior motive, I learned when he kissed me.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” I said back, wrapping my arms around his neck. I decided he could worry about holding on to the pool; I’d just worry about holding onto him.

“Still love me?” he asked, kissing me softly.

“Yes. Always,” I told him, but he heard my voice break a little bit.

“Sarah,” he murmured as he leaned his forehead against mine. “Please don’t be angry with me.”

“I’m not, Adam, I’m not. I’m scared. But I will be okay.”

Ryan came back out then we realized when we heard the door sliding closed. “Are you sure it’s warm in there? It’s November, you know!” he said as he stuck his foot into the water.

“Oh yeah, very warm,” Adam said with a smile. He pushed away from the side and headed back to that end of the pool and I followed. Ryan let himself into the water and let out a huge sigh.

“Wow, this feels really nice,” he told us, lying back in the water.

You could just see the moon peeking from behind the house; in a few more minutes we would be able to see it all, I thought. I looked up into the indigo sky and saw the stars sparkling down from the heavens, and I couldn’t help but offer up a silent prayer that Adam would stay safe.


Before we went to bed Adam explained the security system to Ryan and showed him the codes. I could tell that Ryan was very uncomfortable, but I couldn’t really tell why; was it just that he was here with us at Adam’s house or the fact that he felt like he had no control over the situation? He had Adam call William and give us a contact number for the surveillance team that was watching from the hill and Ryan called them and seemed to feel a bit better after that. He found out that reporters and paparazzi had been trying all afternoon and evening to perch up there and that true to their word, the Laguna Beach PD had made them all leave. There would also be 2 people on duty up there at all times, and possibly that helped Ryan a bit as well.

Adam and I fell into bed a little later. We were both exhausted, mentally and physically. I felt as if I could sleep for days, but I also knew that my whole attitude would be greatly improved by a good 8 hours. Someone told me once that you need less sleep as you get older, but if that is true, you couldn’t prove it by me. It’s not that I need more, but if I run on 5 – 6 hours for more than a night or two I get crabby. No, amend that, I get bitchy, and I felt like I was getting close to that now. So as much as I would like to make love with Adam, my body just wouldn’t support my dirty little brain. Which was okay, since Adam seemed to have the same thoughts as I did. We curled up spoon-fashion and were both quickly asleep.


When I woke up at about 8:30 Adam was already up and in the shower. I went in to get into the shower him, and he was more than eager for me to join him. I found him aroused and very friendly. So we were very ‘friendly’ together, but we were as quiet as we possibly could be, aware as we were of having a guest in the house. That shower was 20 minutes of bliss, I thought with a smile.

Ryan was already downstairs and sitting outside on the patio, checking in with Little Elk in Dallas. He didn’t look too pleased, and I supposed that meant that Little Elk wasn’t pleased either. His voice wafted in through the screen doors occasionally, and it sounded tight and clipped.

Adam got coffee brewing, and I wrapped my arms around him as he measured coffee into the coffee maker. I ran my hands up underneath his green polo shirt and played with the wisps of hair on his chest. After he turned the switch on so the coffee could start brewing, he turned around in my arms and pulled me tightly against him.

“Still feeling a bit ‘friendly,’ are we?” he purred into my ear. His voice was low and sexy, and I shivered as I felt his warm breath caress my ear.

“Mm,” I told him, burrowing my face against his neck as I stood on my tiptoes. He smelled clean and so dear to me, that smell that is just intrinsically Adam; sunshine and sex, all rolled into one.

If the definition of ‘friendly’ meant wanting him continually, then I’m afraid I have a terminal case.

We stood there having a lovely snog until the coffee finished brewing a few minutes later. I reluctantly pulled away from his arms to go to the cabinet to get mugs for the coffee, and while I started pouring, Adam started preparations for breakfast. I watched as he pulled the various ingredients out of the cupboards and smiled broadly. Ryan (and I) were getting a treat for breakfast.

I went to the sliding patio door and held up a cup of coffee to Ryan and softly asked, “Black?” and at his nod I took it out and set it on the table in front of him. He had his notebook open and was making notes furiously as he listened to Little Elk. He looked up and caught my eyes briefly and grimaced before mouthing ‘thank you’ to me. I shrugged with a smile and headed back inside to help Adam with breakfast.

Adam was popping some ‘bangers’ into the broiler as I wordlessly grabbed the veggies he had laid out on the counter. I started chopping them up in preparation for omelets and then went hunting for the grater to get the cheese ready. He had put out some Gruyere and as I grated it I watched him beat eggs and get the pan ready. We chatted about the game later this morning, and it was such an ordinary scene, a couple making breakfast together, and yet outside we had people who were watching over us to make sure we were safe.

Ryan came in then and looked around the kitchen at the preparations for breakfast. He was just dripping with tension; it was in the way he moved and held his body. I pointed to a chair and motioned for him to sit. He didn’t look upset about that. I poured him some more coffee and watched surreptitiously as he slowly sipped it. His strain was still palpable and I decided not to try to chat with him, to just give him a bit of time to recover from whatever Little Elk had said. I figured that if it pertained to us he would tell us all about it soon enough anyway.

His nose finally woke him out of his brooding thoughts, and he lifted his head appreciatively and sniffed the air. I was popping some toast in when he decided to walk around and inspect the preparations.

“You like omelets?” Adam asked.

“Yep. You just throw everything in there but the kitchen sink and I’ll be happy!” he laughed as he looked over the veggies and cheese.

Adam was turning the sausage over in the oven when the phone rang. I went over to answer it, dreading who it might be, and smiled when I saw it was Tamara.

“Hello!” I answered into the phone.

“Sarah?” a boyish voice asked, and I realized I was talking to Tristan.

“Yes. Hi Tristan. Are you ready for your game this morning?”

“Yeah. Are you and Daddy coming?” he asked, and I could hear a decidedly hopeful tone in his voice. It was so endearing, I thought as I imagined his small face waiting eagerly for my answer.

“Absolutely, we wouldn’t miss it. So are you Tigers ready for this game? If you win do you get to go to the finals?” I looked up to see Adam watching me as he worked on the omelet. He was making one huge one, I noticed with a smile. Our eyes met for a moment and there was something in his that twisted in the pit of my stomach, so strongly emotional it felt. It was joy, I realized, pure and unabashed, the kind that we don’t often feel because of all the cautions we carry around about everything. My mind was quickly pulled back to the conversation with Tristan as he was performing his fierce Tiger growl for me, and I had to laugh when I heard it. How could anything be wrong with our world, I wondered?

And yet it was.

“Well, if the other Tigers are as enthusiastic as you are I’m sure you’ll win the game! Did you want to talk to your daddy?”

“No – I just wanted to know if you were coming. I’ll see you there, Sarah!” and then the line started buzzing and the call was gone.

Adam raised his eyebrows at me questioningly and I shook my head. “Sorry, he only wanted to know if we were coming.” He only laughed and I realized he wasn’t upset that Tristan hadn’t talked to him. I saw that Ryan had taken over finishing the toast, so I sat down at the table. Adam had pulled the sausage out of the broiler and then slid the omelet onto a huge platter and surrounded it with the sausages. Ryan sat the toast onto the breakfast bar just as Adam sat the platter down and remembered the juice in the fridge. I got up to grab some glasses and we were finally ready to eat.

After his first bite of the omelet Ryan sighed and mumbled something about it being the best he had ever had and he couldn’t quite decide what was different about it. Adam and I just smiled at that remark and said nothing. Ryan finally got around to telling us at least some of what Little Elk had said.

“They are still running DNA tests on the hair that was found on the rubber band. It will be another 24 hours or so before the results are in on it though. But, they found the outside surveillance tapes from the convenience store a little more helpful. It showed the person getting into a car and pulling away. They were on the fringes of the camera’s range, but they are hopeful to get enough information from it to track down the car. They do feel very sure that it is a male who bought the phone. That’s something at least.”

“Why are they so sure it is a man?” I asked curiously. “I mean, there are women who are tall too, couldn’t it have been a taller woman?”

“True, there are lots of women tall enough to do it, but a couple of the shots showed the body pretty clearly, if not the face. It definitely looked male, Little Elk said. But of course that’s not for sure, you have to understand.”

Adam and I both nodded at this news. We were both more sure than ever now that there were two people. The one in Italy had been a small person. Whether man or woman we didn’t know, but that person was shorter than I am.

Ryan continued then after taking another bite of his sausage. “The car was a dark blue Taurus, 4 door with what is probably a Texas plate on it, but it is so far from the camera by the time you see it that it’s almost impossible to make out. There is a clear ‘S’ on it and what might be a ‘1’, but that isn’t all that helpful really. But they are running plate combinations to see if they come up with any likely matches. There were no other calls made from that phone that we could track, only the call to your house. But so few people had access to that number that it helps to narrow thing down quite a bit, so don’t give up, you two; we’ll find whoever is behind this, I promise you,” Ryan said emphatically. His face was steeped in seriousness, and I knew without a doubt that if it were possible, he would find out who was doing this.

“There’s one more thing I, uh Little Elk and I would like you to consider. Now you don’t have to give me an answer immediately, but please just consider it, okay?”

I looked at Adam and we both wore frowns; what could he be asking that would cause such consternation, I wondered?

“Please consider letting me stay with you. I would still be working for Dallas PD, but I would accompany you to the set in Dallas and when you go back to Italy. We feel that there needs to be some consistency in this case. I’m sure all the police departments are very helpful, but having someone there who has the whole history really is the best thing. In Italy, I would technically have to be working for you as security; I couldn’t be a police representative, you must understand.”

I didn’t know what to think really. It made sense, what he said, and yet I wondered if it would really do any good in the long run. Adam and I looked at one another, and I couldn’t gauge what he was thinking.

“I know you don’t want any attention drawn to you, Adam, I understand that, and I will do as much as I possibly can to stay out of your way. Understand this, though; I’m going to be on the set in Dallas, if for no other reason than that Little Elk has said so. I’m there to hopefully be a deterrent as well as security for you anyway, so by the time you go back to Italy everyone will be used to me.” He paused for a moment, as if trying to formulate his next words and finally said, “Adam, this whole thing is escalating; we don’t think it is just going to stop. There is a purpose behind it, and you need the protection. Please, let it be me; I – I can do this Adam, I can.”

Adams mouth was pursed as he thought it all over. We both knew that what Ryan said was true. And we both liked Ryan; as far as bodyguards go, we were used to him, sort of, and we trusted him. I nodded at Adam, hoping that he would accept this offer. It was one we could live with, I thought.

“Would you be with us all the time?” Adam asked.

Ryan nodded reluctantly. “I’ll give you as much privacy as possible, please understand that. I don’t want to be hanging around you constantly, but I would stay with you in the house in Dallas and hopefully in some kind of adjoining room in Italy.”

My heart sank as I heard him say that; I knew how Adam would feel about that. Part of our relationship was so spontaneous, and Adam would hate having to curtail that; but on the other hand, it didn’t mean we couldn’t still make love either. I spoke up when I remembered Thanksgiving.

“Ryan, we’ll be spending a week or so in Wichita for Thanksgiving. Adam’s family is coming in for that, and all of my family will be there as well.”

”Wichita isn’t a problem really, not at all,” he told us, and I wondered if Detective Arnold had anything to do with that.

My eyes focused on Adam, willing him to agree to this, or at the very least agree to think about it for awhile before deciding. Finally Adam spoke, “You really think that this will be a deterrent?”

“Honestly? No, we don’t. Adam, we think that whoever is going to do this will just try to find another way. But since it is probably someone from the film, they will at least know that I am with you. They are determined, Adam, deadly determined now that they have killed Rachel. They aren’t going to stop, you must realize that. This is the best way we can protect you, and Rachel’s murder was committed in our jurisdiction so we have a stake in what happens. This is the best way, Adam, please believe me.”

His voice was so earnest and convincing, and I saw Adam’s doubt fall away from his face before he nodded. “All right Ryan, we’ll try it. I can’t say I don’t have strong misgivings, but I also see that what you have said is true. I accept the fact that they probably aren’t going to stop.”

I quickly let out a long breath and realized that I had been holding it in waiting for his answer. We would make it work, I thought, we would.


The Tigers unfortunately did not win the game, although they played valiantly; in the end the score was 5 – 3. Tristan and Geoff were both very upset, understandably so. Ryan had enjoyed the game tremendously, standing along the sidelines with Adam and Mark and cheering the boys on, and I realized he wasn’t just doing that to be physically near Adam; he loved the game and was totally into it.

I told Tamara about the decision that Adam had made regarding Ryan and she was really happy about that. “Oh, Sarah, Mark and I were hoping for something like this and we both liked Ryan. He’ll do a good job I’m sure. But I also know how much Adam is going to chafe at the bit about this; he’s likely to often be grouchy so be prepared!”

“I know, but we both like Ryan too, and it won’t be forever. I don’t mind at all, and I’m also glad about it. It is getting so scary, Tamara. I am always thinking about Adam’s safety because he just doesn’t.”

She nodded in sympathy and put her arm around me for a quick hug. “It will all be okay, Sarah, hang in there please. Adam is so worth it.”

“Yes he is. I just feel so happy to have found him. He makes me feel like the luckiest woman alive. Now, I was wondering since Ryan is with us if the boys could spend the night? We’ll be very watchful, I promise.”

She thought about that for a moment and finally said, “Yeah, I think it will be okay, and I know they are wanting to very badly.”

It occurred to me then that I hadn’t told her about our discovery that there were likely two people involved in this, and I wasn’t sure how to tell her about it, but I knew I had to. So I just told her, the simplest way I knew how.

She watched me as I told her, and her face registered shock and then fear. She finally spoke up and said, “It never occurred to us that there was more than one person involved in this, Sarah, it just didn’t.”

I nodded and told her, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this before asking if the boys could stay the night. It really did just slip my mind, Tamara. I’ll understand if you don’t want them to stay, really.”

“Let me think about it, Sarah, and see what the day brings. There is also the security up on the hill that is watching over everything, and if I know William at all they are excellent at their jobs. Yeah, let’s just go through the day and see how it goes.”

I nodded my agreement and we turned our attention back to the boys’ game. Geoff was with the men, and it was adorable to watch him as he was so totally engrossed in the game like them. Afterwards the boys rode with us back to our house while Tamara and Mark went back to their house to pick up their offerings for the meal later today. The boys were hungry, and this included the big boys as well, I thought with a shake of my head as Adam promised sandwiches and chips back at our house. When we got there, the boys tumbled out of the car, and I noticed Ryan scanning the area for any signs of trouble. He made a quick call on my cell and I thought it was probably to the people on the hill, but apparently everything was fine and we all entered the house, the boys rushing downstairs to change into their swim suits. I headed in to do the same thing and remembered to grab the sunscreen and reminded the boys to get theirs too.

Adam had laid out everything for the sandwiches and then gone to change into his suit. He told Ryan he might as well do the same thing, and Ryan nodded and headed off to his bedroom.

We all met back in the kitchen in time for Tamara and Mark to arrive in their own suits. I looked at Tamara, with her beautiful olive skin and legs that were a mile long, but I didn’t feel jealous. She was beautiful, but I was coming to see myself as beautiful too, if only in Adam’s eyes, and that was enough.

Sandwiches and chips were devoured by greedy little and big mouths and everyone was full as we cleaned up the kitchen. Ryan seemed to get on with the boys very well and couldn’t wait to get outside to play with them. His eyes lit up appreciatively at the sight of the remote-controlled cars, and he eagerly took Adam’s when it was offered and off the three of them went while Tamara, Mark, Adam, and I watched from the patio.

Talk of course drifted to Adam’s decision to let Ryan stay with us, and Mark agreed with Tamara and me both. As I watched Adam I realized that he was beginning to be more comfortable with the choice to let Ryan stay, which was great. After awhile (awhile being determined by how long it took for the batteries to run out on the cars) we all went out to swim in the ocean for a bit. The water was a clear green-blue and still fairly warm. I knew that Adam didn’t like swimming in the Pacific much, but the boys did and so did I, so he went along with it.

There is just such a sense of freedom in swimming in the ocean. Whether it’s the sand that shifts below your feet or the salty taste and smell that clings to everything I didn’t know, but I would take the ocean any day over the pool. Although, don’t get me wrong; the pool will do in a pinch!

Eventually Tamara and Adam headed in to start making preparations for dinner. Mark, Ryan, and I stayed out on the beach for a while longer. Mark and I sat on a blanket and watched Ryan run through the water with the boys, seemingly tireless. I laughed and said, “I wonder if I ever had that much energy!”

Mark laughed in response and said, “Sure you did; you had two kids, Sarah.”

“I suppose, but it seems like a long time ago. A very long time!” I felt the warm sunshine against my skin and thought how wonderful it felt. I inhaled a deep breath of the ocean breeze, tantalizingly salty, and I licked my lips and tasted the salt there as well. For awhile I just let myself be filled with the peace of this place.

Tristan came over and sat down between Mark and me and asked, “Sarah, is Ryan your kid too? Like Derek and Lissa?”

“No, he’s just a friend of ours. Do you like him?” I answered.

“Yeah, he’s fun. But he looks around a lot. How come?”

It was amazing to me how observant kids can be, and I thought for a moment about how to answer that without scaring him.

Mark rescued me and answered, “He’s a policeman. Did he tell you that?” And when Tristan nodded yes he finished, “Well, they do that a lot, you know. They are always watching to make sure everything is okay.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. I like him!” he said. Just then the object of the conversation and Geoff came over to the blanket as well and sat down. The boys were chatting happily about the coming dinner when my phone rang. Ryan was sitting closest to it and looked at it with a grimace. It must be Little Elk, I thought with a wry smile.

Ryan answered it and got up to walk down the beach a bit. Geoff got up to follow, and Mark told him to stay with us and after a not-so-happy look he stayed put.

“Sarah, what time is it?” Tristan asked when I glanced at my cell phone.

“It’s almost 3:00, why?”

“It’s time for Sponge Bob Square Pants!” they chorused together and got up to run into the house.

I looked at Mark and laughed. “I guess we can’t compare to Sponge Bob!” I stood up and so did Mark. We shook the blanket off and got at least some of the sand off of it. Ryan looked at me questioningly and I pointed to the house. His ears were red again and I wondered how he stood it, having to deal with Little Elk all the time.

The rest of the day and evening was wonderful. Adam and Tamara prepared a feast; grilled chicken and salads, and Tamara again made homemade ice cream and brought the stuff to make sundaes with. They were perfect endings to the evening, I thought as I drizzled warm hot fudge over the ice cream and added nuts and whipped cream and finally a cherry. Adam grinned at the huge concoction I had created, and I laughingly told him, “All mine!” when he acted like he was going to dip his spoon into it.

We sat on the patio as we ate our ice cream and Tamara said, “Boys, would you like to stay here tonight?” The look on Adam’s face was as touching as the boys’ and I saw how happy he was they were staying. I looked at Tamara and smiled at her; I was so thankful she had let them stay.

They later gave Tamara and Mark eager hugs and kisses and then went off quietly to take their baths as the adults were saying goodbye.

I hugged Tamara tight and whispered, “Thank you,” into her ear. She murmured that it was okay back to me and I waved as she and Mark drove away. She wasn’t as dear to me as Cassie, but she was coming closer. And I couldn’t wait for them to meet at Thanksgiving.

Adam locked up the house and soon the boys were out of the bath and dressed for bed. As we bestowed hugs and kisses upon them my heart warmed when I realized they were hugging and kissing me as much as I was them. There was balance, and it felt good.

Copyright 2006 Cynthia Hope Hodge


Val said...

Oh yay! It's so nice to get up in the morning and be able to come read a new post. I love the consistency. And the story is awesome!

So we're down to a guy and a girl. Hrm. I can't wait to find out the whole story! Hope, you're just going to have to start a new book because I won't be able to miss my Hope fix.

Your #1 Hopie,

Kristin said...

Things are winding down so fast! I agree with Val, these characters have become as much apart of my family as you all have. Great job, Hope! Thanks again for the eye candy Thursday! All the YUMMY and no calories.... my kinda dessert!!!!

Anonymous said...

I know I must sound like a broken record, but I love this story.
I just can't decide if the guy is Jason or Lyle. I keep leaning toward Jason. If it is Jason, I wonder how it will affect the relationship between Adam and Sarah. All along they have thought it is someone that Adam knows that is trying to kill him. I hope it doesn't break the relationship.

Engbunny said...

Ok - my theory is is either Sunni or Krista and Jason - which ever woman it is recruited Jason after the supermarket incident. Jason, being the toad that he is, was more than happy to go a long with the deal. I really am leaning towards Krista but just want to keep my options open.

I'm going to get know I am addicted when I choose to read the post over getting coffee! Hope, you have to keep can just do an ongoing story about Adam, Sarah and their lives. Please? (did that sound properly pathetic?)


catrina said...

OK, I have a routine. Three days a week I get my bagel toasted, put peanut butter on one half, butter on the other, and come to read about Sarah and Adam. This morning, while munching on the peanut butter half (sorry, Adam, but I do SO love peanut butter!), I wondered----what will I do when this is over? How will I get up in the morning? Then the answer came to me---in addition to visiting with all my WMHD friends at Hope's new site, I can go back to the beginning of Adam and Sarah's story and read it all over again! Hope, please tell me you're not taking it down, because if you are, I'd better start printing each entry now!
Happy Friday to everyone!

Gina said...

Oh Hope this chapter was wonderful. I loved when Adam asked Sarah if she still loved him. It was such a 'couple' kind of thing to do. I mean, when you have something between you and you are trying to deal with it, you often say those kinds of things to a partner.

I know we've all said it before, but Sarah and Adam seem so real and that is due to your marvelous talent for writing them that way.

Thank you. I guess I get to be your #2 Hopie! AND VERY PROUD OF IT!

Anonymous said...

Great usual.
I agree with Kristin that these characters have become part of my life. And I will miss them, sniff, sniff..

On another note, how is Lynne?? and her family?? We haven't heard from her and she crossed my mind so I wanted to ask.
I enjoyed her story as well.

Happy Friday, I won't be here for lunch, taking a half day!
-Lauren :)

Shar said...

Alright, I'm going on a limb here. I'm going to say that Ryan has something to do with the stalkers. He seemed a little too shocked to hear there were 2 stalkers and he seems to be overly tense.

Happy Friday! I'm feeling a little crazy today...I think I'm going to skip happy hour and go to Jazzercise. Go figure ;)

Anonymous said...


I agree with all of the previous post, this just has to continue! I will not know what to do either. I have not only really enjoyed the story, you are truly a very talented writer, but also the wonderful "family" that has gathered. I love reading all the post even though I usually don't get to join in do to my computer.

Have a great week-end everyone!!


Hope said...

Happy Friday!

I'm glad you enjoyed yesterday's EXTRA on Colin. I just couldn't help myself. Thanks to Tigger and Kristin for sending their favorite pics as well.

I am so ready for the weekend! How about you all? Anyone have any special plans?

Anonymous said...

I loved the post today Hope. Absolutlely amazing! You astound me each and every day! Your story is what I wake up to every Monday Wednesday Friday before class. It is much looked forward to!

Thank you muchly.


Tigger said...

Woo Hoo Friday!

I sure hope it isn't Ryan, because I love him. I want to marry him! hee hee

I still just don't think Jason had anything to do with it because he didn't even know that Sarah was in Italy. I think the man must be Lyle. And it has to be Krista, Sunni just seems too unlikely to me. Krista seems to have some secrets, and althogh she is getting friendlier, I still think she is doing it all.

Deena said...

I loved the boys input about Ryan. Even though they are young, kids can be very observant and I don't think it at all unusual for Tristan to have noticed how Ryan watches everything.

But Hope, I gotta tell ya, I just can't handle Sponge Bob! lol

Excellent, wonderful and like everyone else I just don't know what we will do when it's all done... = (

Kristin said...

I'm having a Colin DVD festival tonight in Tampa, anybody wanna come over? Bring the popcorn, if so! Tonight's venue is Girl with a Pearl Earring. I've allready told my husband that I get the big screen tonight!

Over the past few weeks, I've watched P & P, Hope Springs, The Advocate, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Bridget Jones Diary 1 & II. Hope has infected my bad with Colin - itis (not to be confused with Colon - itis! LOL

Havin' a ball today at work! Its Friday, payday, and I have Colin waiting for me at home! Life doesn't get any better....

Hope said...

I'm not so sure I should claim you any longer Kristin - I've apparently created a Colin

I'm glad you are watching Girl with a Pearl Earring on the big screen, as it is visually stunning. And watch out for the scene where he puts the earring into her ear!

Kristin said...

You would denounce a monster of your own making? Even Frankenstein's daddy was kinder! LOL

holly d. said...

A good way to end the week.
I still think that Mark has something to do with it. I bet he paired with Kristin after finding out that she was Adam's child. He's only doing this for Tamara and the boys though, delusional thinking of course.
My weekend is gong to be packed, and it's a good thing too, we are supposed to get so much rain, yuck!
Going to bead and stamp shows all weekend, going to surprise my daughter, she loves to make anything and everything!
So, what's for lunch ladies?

Hope said...

Okay, okay, I claim ya! See, I'm just jealous because I don't have a big screen to watch Colin on...

I can only imagine what fun it would be to watch the Advocate on the big screen! (insert very wicked grin here)

catrina said...

Peanut butter/bagel is gone...the rain has moved in, and I think I'm skipping lunch today, too. I'm going home! I love to do housework (laundry, ironing, etc.) when it's raining, so what better day to do it? Rain, Friday, Payday!
See y'all bright and early on Monday....unless a phantom Colin post happens before then!

Kristin said...

Colin butt on the big screen, wicked indeed! Can you be arrested for inappropriate conduct in your own media room? HAHAHA!

Hope said...

Yeah, you better watch out Krisin for the media police, aka husband! He might decide you've went over the edge and decide to UPS you out here to Wichita, to get you out of his hair! lol

Kristin said...

I'll just have to be vewy vewy qwiet..... giggle

Where did we decide to do lunch? Richland and I are getting hungry!

x5head3pay said...

here are my thoughts on Jason and why it could be....
I think whoever is involved on the set (Krista or Sunni) emailed Jason using Sarah's email since he had WAY too much info AND she kept that info in her missing purse. They would have known about HIM since he emailed her that diatribe about getting back together while they were in Italy. Thus - setting the whole thing in motion and getting him involved. Was he involved at first - NO...but after leaving the hospital in a huff...I think he became quickly involved after that. It was after she got out of the hospital that the notes started occuring and such. That must be when the 2nd person became involved...1 person from Sarahs past & 1 person from Adams. It only makes sense.

Now you see how my mind has been racing. I am a self proclaimed WMHD loser...and I love it.


Gina said...

Katie, I don't think you are a self-proclaimed WMHD loser at all. You're a HOPIE!!!

kmorales4 said...

Wonderful post. I'm still guessing Mark and Krista are in on this. I do hope Lyle is the bad guy. I don't want Tamara and the boys to get hurt if Mark does turn out to be the monster behind this operation.

On to the Community comments:

For the weekend, Adam and I are staying in and watching movies. The weather here is 71 degrees and it's sooo rainy that we figure we'd cuddle up on the couch and be lazy.
Eat your heart out. He's mine.

Tigger said...

While I think Adam is pretty cute, I want Ryan!

Hear that Hope, don't you dare give him a girlfriend. He seems to like that detective in Wichita. Don't forget that Ok City is only a couple of hours away from Dallas and I'm gonna come and get him!

Kristin said...

You can have Adam, cause I'll have the Delicious Pirate Richland on one side of me and Colin on the other! YUMMMY sandwich! HAHAHAHA!

Hope said...

Tigger - you just never know what Ryan might do. I'm tellin' ya, these men definitely have minds of their own, lol.

Karen, you an Kristin seem to have different plans for Adam for the weekend, how very interesting!

I am getting out of here Ladies. I'm going shopping and then out for the evening and I can't wait! Have fun weekends everyone and who knows, I may pop in later!

Jo said...

Man oh man. I started to read this around noon but kept getting side-tracked. Darn job! It almost made me miss Thursday's "photo shoot"!! Now THAT would have been a crime.

Annnyway, great post again, as usual. I read this and find myself suspecting, oh, everyone. Yes, even folks like Tamara and Ryan.

Guess I missed lunch again? Well, pack me up a doggie bag. I'm sure Colin would be happy to deliver it to me.

Well, one of us would be happy if Colin delivered it to me.....

Mehreen said...

You know, I hate to think it, but I wonder how tall Tamara and Mark are, I can't imagine WHY they'd do this, but it's the only collaborative boy/girl couple I can think of. Of course it could be Jason + Krista...or maybe it's Krista + Sunni and one if them is in disguise! I can't wait to find out!

andrea said...

hi hope
this blog is amazing. i just finsihed reading from chapter one till this one. and who amazing.
I read spme of the comment sabout a book im a bit confused. are you going to stop posting on here?
amazing the relationship all the charcters have. i look forward to some more monday