There seemed to be several dozen reporters and paparazzi surrounding us as we tried to make our way down the concourse. Adam had tightened his arm around my waist, and I half-unconsciously lifted my chin a notch higher and stood as straight as I could. If those cameras were going to be going off, I was at least going to look them directly in the eye, so to speak.
They were asking dozens of questions all at once; some to Adam and some surprisingly to me. It was like a circus really, the sounds of the cameras’ whirring and clicking, the bright lights flashing and glaring at us, not to mention the human sounds as the reporters jockeyed for position.
“Adam, when did you hear of Rachel’s death?”
“Adam, is it true you and Rachel had a feud?”
“Sarah, did you know Rachel?”
“Adam, how will Rachel’s death affect the film you’re working on?”
“Sarah, when are you and Adam getting married?”
That one threatened to stop me cold, but I kept on walking. I wasn’t saying a word, and Adam held up his hand and said, “Please, everyone. I’m sure you must realize that this is a very difficult time. Please contact William Patton and he will provide you with my statement. I’m afraid I can’t comment on anything else right now.”
As he spoke, we saw three guys from the film start to move in: Rocky, one of the assistant directors, Beauregard (otherwise known as Boopy; I don’t know why), and Franklin. All were big guys and they slid right in to surround us. Rocky told the press, “Mr. Richland cannot make any comments right now. Please let us through.” Then they began to move us through the crowd, which was following us, still snapping pictures and yelling questions.
“You’re doing great, love,” Adam said in my ear. “Not too much more here, I promise.”
“I’m okay,” I told him. And that was sort of true. It was very disconcerting at first, being bombarded like that, but I withstood the barrage. They were just so insistent, and frankly you do feel like yelling at them to mind their own business. Where did the marriage question come from, anyway? And how in the world did they even know who I am?
I felt almost violated really. Maybe that is too strong of a word, but you get the idea. I knew that our picture was going to be plastered across a dozen newspapers and tabloids, and they would always pick the worst ones, of course!
I heard the pack following along behind us, but the questions were getting fewer now as they finally realized that we weren’t going to answer any of them. We stopped at the baggage claim area and waited for our bag, and our trio of stalwart heroes stood watch for us, not letting any of them get close.
But that didn’t mean they couldn’t yell questions and snap pictures from afar, I thought with a sigh.
We waited as patiently as we could; as luck would have it ours was one of the last bags out. Franklin grabbed it, and we headed out of the terminal to where a long black limo waited for us. A small smile crept over my face; I hadn’t ever ridden in a limo before, and I thought it was exciting. Which, when you consider it, is kind of a rotten attitude, since we were back in Texas because of Rachel’s death.
Adam and I climbed into the back, with Rocky and Boopy following us. Franklin got into the front with the chauffeur, whose name I didn’t catch. You could still see the flashes through the tinted glass; however, I was pretty sure they couldn’t actually see us, and Rocky confirmed that when I asked about it.
Adam kept his arm around me in the limo, and I laid my head against his shoulder as we smoothly pulled away for the airport. The limo rode like a dream, I thought; hardly a bump could be felt.
“You were wonderful, Sarah,” Adam said. “It’s never an easy situation to be confronted with that, but you handled it really well. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yes. It wasn’t pleasant really,” I told him with a wry smile. “I know that won’t be the last time it happens, Adam, so I’ll get used to it. The worst part was that they just all scream at once. Haven’t they ever heard of Robert’s Rules?” I laughed.
Rocky immediately let out a huge belly laugh, but Adam sat there looking slightly perplexed as he thought about what that could have meant.
“Robert’s Rules for Order are a set of rules designed for organizations to keep things in order at meetings; in other words, so that everyone doesn’t talk at once. That was basically a smart-ass remark regarding their total lack of politeness and good manners.”
“Ah, I see,” Adam said. “Well, regardless, you certainly showed grace under fire, love.” He turned to Rocky and asked, “Do we know anything else yet?”
Rocky and Boopy exchanged a guarded look before Rocky said, “Well, they’re pretty sure it wasn’t suicide, Adam.”
I quickly took a deep breath and said, “Oh my God!”
Adam shook his head, saying, “But Lyle said she had slit her wrists. She let someone else do that for her?”
“No, probably not. Look, Adam, I’m not sure how much I should be saying. The police will be talking to you later this evening, I’m sure. And Lyle. There are going to have to be some changes for the movie, and Lyle will be talking with everyone, probably tomorrow, to determine where we go from here.”
As Adam started to protest, Rocky held his hand up and said, “Adam, I really can’t say any more.”
Adam nodded his head in understanding, and we settled back for the rest of the trip to the housing complex and yet another condo unit. This one was just as nice as the other one, and except for lighter neutral colors, it was pretty much the same. I looked around me and decided that whoever decorates these things really should learn about a new concept called color. It was bland as could be, but it would do for us.
It was already 10:00 Texas time, and even though I had been functioning on California time for the past couple of days I was getting tired and really hoped that any visits with the police or Lyle could wait until tomorrow. I just didn’t know if I was mentally up for it. This whole day had been emotionally exhausting, just trying to take it all in. I was curious about what Rocky had said in the limo, but I’d like a good night’s sleep before delving into it all.
Rocky gave us the keys, and the guys left Adam and me to get settled in. We carried our bags upstairs and found the master suite, all done in creams and very pale blue. It was beautiful enough to be in any decorator magazine and nondescript enough that you would never know whose room it was. But the bed looked heavenly, and we were both anxious to get into it. Adam took the time to call Lyle quickly and let him know that we were here; Lyle told him that there was a meeting at 10:00 am and wondered if Adam and I could be there around 9:00 so we could talk to him. Adam told him that was fine if we weren’t occupied with the police.
Adam was already sneezing again as I watched him head into the bathroom, obviously looking for his nasal spray. By the time he came out he had all but stopped sneezing. It’s almost like clockwork, I thought with a sigh.
While Adam was talking to Lyle, I gave Tamara a quick call and let her know we were here and that we would talk to her as soon as we knew anything. She said the boys had taken the news that we had left okay; it wasn’t uncommon in their world for Adam to leave unexpectedly. I then called Lissa with the same information. She didn’t try to prolong the conversation; whether that was because she realized how tired I was or she was studying I wasn’t sure. I didn’t question it either; I just got off the phone, and Adam and I traded information about the calls.
“Do we know if the police were going to call us tonight or not?” I asked. At Adam’s shrug I added, “I’d really like to just go to bed. How about you?”
“I would. I feel wiped out, love. Let’s just go to bed and if the police call we’ll deal with it,” he told me as he pulled me to him for a long hug.
We both undressed, pulled the covers back on the bed and barely remembered to brush our teeth. I was surprised that Adam wasn’t hungry, actually. They had served snacks on the plane and he had eaten a little, but really he hadn’t had a real meal all day. Personally my stomach was in knots and I wasn’t sure I could handle food anyway, but this was Adam we were talking about here.
We lay together in the bed talking quietly for awhile. We talked about the trip to San Diego and the Shimmering Mist, the time with the boys, how much we had enjoyed the whole trip.
“A family trip,” I added.
It was dim in the room but I could see him looking at me. “What?” I asked him curiously, because he wasn’t saying a word.
“I just like how that sounds – a family trip. And, uh, to hear you say it means so much, Sarah. You have accepted them so completely, and I just don’t think I could be happier. Thank you for loving not only me, but Tristan and Geoff as well.”
“Hey, don’t go getting all mushy on me, Richland. I happen to be a sucker for package deals!”
We had forgotten to set the alarm clock, but it turned out okay because we were just thrilled to be woken up at 8:00 by Detective Morgan of the Dallas police force.
“Yes, detective, I do remember you,” Adam answered his question. He cleared his throat and sat up in bed.
I lay there and watched him as he spoke to the detective. He listened a lot, only answering a question occasionally, but he sneezed several times; it was past time for his meds. After it was determined that we were meeting with Lyle at 9:00 and then having a general crew meeting at 10:00, Detective Morgan asked to meet with us as well. Adam arranged for him to come to the studio and speak with us.
“He says he’ll meet us there at 9:00 and perhaps sit in on the meeting with Lyle. Since I don’t know what Lyle wants to say, that may or may not work, but I suppose the detective will get his way,” Adam said. “C’mon, let’s go get in the shower.”
“C’mon, let’s go get your medication!” I countered, heading for the bathroom. I flipped on the light and grabbed his allergy medication off the counter and handed it to him just as he sneezed yet again. I watched as he took a dose in each nostril and was amazed at how quickly it started working; there were no more sneezes after that. Miraculous stuff, I thought!
“You know, I’m not sure I could live down here with you, Adam,” I teased as I turned the shower on. While the water was getting warm I went out and got the carry-on bag that had our toiletries in it and unzipped it. I was looking for my shower gel, the regular stuff – I didn’t want Adam to go to the set smelling girly, I thought with a laugh.
I enjoyed these shared showers – whether there was any extra activity or not – and I was surprised at how easily I adapted to them. Until Adam came along I had never taken a shower with anyone; the thought of it had seemed foreign to me. I didn’t feel self-conscious about it at all; it was a way to add a little connection to our day, that time in the shower, and it was amazing how important it was to me now. It wasn’t about sex – well okay, sometimes it was, but mostly it was just a gentle way to wake up and be close.
Of course, on the practical side, you could follow the adage that says: save time and save money; shower together!
He wrapped his arms around me from behind, and as I felt his warm hands slide over my naked belly I shivered and became aware of my nipples hardening delightfully at the contact. He nuzzled my neck with his slightly rough chin, and I stretched my neck so he could have better access. I felt his hands slide up over my ribs and lift my breasts before massaging them gently, his fingers tugging firmly on my nipples.
His lips did amazing things to my sensitive neck, and as I melted into his arms I felt his arousal pressing into me, and I suddenly didn’t care in the least if we weren’t at the studio by 9:00. I turned around in his arms and claimed his mouth in a heated kiss. We stepped into the large shower stall, and the feel of the warm and misty spray against my skin only served to make me feel more aware of him.
Adam sat down on the bench in the shower and sat me on his lap, and I sank down onto him eagerly, feeling him fill me completely. Our eyes locked as I started moving on him, and I don’t think either of us even blinked as our bodies moved together, striving to reach pleasure’s path. The steam was rising thickly around us and it was almost surreal, like we were being enveloped in a warm and intimate cocoon of desire, and then we were there, on the precipice and falling over the edge, tumbling together and clinging tightly as our bodies contracted with the power of the orgasms.
I laid my head against his shoulder and moaned softly, trying to recapture my breath. For the next minute or so it was only us in the world; I wanted to stay in the safe, warm little cocoon forever, but reality raised its nasty head as we heard the phone ringing in the other room. I realized that Adam and I both used sex as a way to communicate our feelings, but I was also becoming aware that we were talking more about our feelings too. And I also realized that all too soon that perpetual arousal would settle down a bit. But – I will enjoy it for as long as I can, I thought.
“Probably Lyle,” Adam suggested, holding me close.
“Yeah, I suppose so. I guess we should get busy.” We weren’t late; it couldn’t be any later than 8:30, but we wouldn’t make it to the set by 9:00, that was for sure.
We stood up and finished the shower. My knees still felt kind of shaky, I realized with a laugh, but I managed to get through it all. We got dressed and I quickly dried my hair a bit and then pinned it up. There wasn’t any time for makeup, but I didn’t really care, and we managed to get out of the house by 8:50, which meant it would be at least 20 minutes before we got to the studio.
Adam had called Lyle to let him know that we would be a few minutes late, and Lyle said that was fine. He had been calling to tell us that Detective Morgan was going to be there as well. We accepted this with a resigned sigh, knowing that there wasn’t anything we could do to change it. I appreciated our interlude this morning in the shower, especially since I knew what a difficult afternoon it was going to be.
The detective and Lyle were both waiting on us, and we all went into Lyle’s office and had a seat. Detective Morgan wasn’t much for preliminaries and began quickly.
“I’ll include you in on this discussion since it does have the probability of affecting your film,” he said, looking at Lyle.
Lyle nodded and said, “I do appreciate that. We have some decisions to make about it, but if the safety of my cast or crew is in any way compromised, I need to know, Detective.”
“Since we don’t know who is responsible, I can’t tell you whether or not it is, but we do think it is connected with the events that have been happening to Mr. Richland.” He looked at Adam and then at me, and I couldn’t read his eyes or face at all. I’ll bet he is a great poker player.
“Ms. Tomlinson did not commit suicide. She was murdered, although the perpetrator did try to make it look like suicide. She was drugged before her wrists were slit, and she was dead either before that happened or very soon afterwards.”
“How can you tell that, Detective Morgan?” Adam asked. I was curious about that as well.
“As long as a person’s heart beats, blood is pumping through their bodies, and any holes in it will rapidly lose blood. There was very little blood found around her; she actually lost less that a pint of blood. It looked very messy, but there wasn’t enough blood to have caused her death. Toxicology screening showed the presence of barbiturates in her bloodstream; a large amount, fully capable of inducing death. There was also evidence that she vomited before death, which is very common with drug-induced death. It had been cleaned up; she was in the bathtub nude, but the evidence was still found in her mouth and throat.”
“So did she take the drugs herself?” I asked. Surely she wouldn’t have done that willingly, I thought.
“No, we are sure she did not. She also had a very high blood alcohol level. Most likely she had a few drinks, maybe with her murderer, enough to make her became intoxicated or unconscious, and then the drug was administered with a syringe. It was injected up her nose, which is a very hard place to find a needle mark; we have an excellent lab here in Dallas.” He said that with what was almost a smirk; I certainly hoped it wasn’t meant that way.
I gasped at how horrible that sounded. Adam looked positively sick to his stomach. He reached out and took my hand and held it tightly.
“Barbiturates are easily obtainable and work quickly, especially when alcohol is involved; they make a lethal cocktail. She was placed in the bathtub and stripped nude before her wrists were cut. She had vomited before her wrists were cut, but most likely after her clothes were removed. We found her clothes lying on the bathroom floor, although we aren’t sure they are the clothes she was wearing. However, no other clothes in the house had traces of vomit on them. The beauty of putting her in the bathtub was, of course, she could be rinsed off after she was sick. There didn’t appear to be any struggle; we didn’t find any traces of alien DNA on her or under her fingernails; nothing in the house was upset or disturbed. Her purse contained money and credit cards and there was also a substantial amount of jewelry in her bedroom; all were untouched, so we feel sure that robbery wasn’t a motive.
“As I said, there was a small amount of blood in the tub, but not enough to cause death. And I have to believe that whoever did it would assume that we would check the toxicology report, so they knew we would discover the actual cause of death.”
“Which means they wanted everyone to realize it wasn’t really slitting her wrists that killed her?” I asked.
“That seems likely,” he agreed.
“Wait, though,” I said, thinking about that. “They hid the needle mark up her nose, and you said that might not have been found?”
“Yes. They might have wanted it to look like she over-dosed on the drugs on her own and then slit her wrists, possibly just to make sure she got the job done.”
“But there would have been some of the drugs in her stomach if she had taken them on her own, wouldn’t there? And – barbiturates are things like Phenobarbital and Diazepam, aren’t they? Like pills, I mean?” He nodded yes and I finished, “How do you inject those?”
“They do come in intravenous form as well as pills,” he confirmed. “The pills may also be crushed up and be made into liquid forms. It wasn’t anything that took a great deal of medical knowledge to achieve, Ms. Marcus. We have to assume that they didn’t really know that we would check for residue in the stomach cavity.”
“They’ve obviously never watched CSI,” I said under my breath. Adam heard that and smiled, but apparently neither Lyle nor Detective Morgan had, or else they didn’t choose to remark on it.
“Detective, I take it that you don’t believe it was a random act, then?” Lyle asked.
“No, we do not. But the question is this: is it tied to the problems surrounding you, Mr. Richland? We have nothing to tie it to that, other than the fact that they are both working on the same film. Do you know if any out-of-the-ordinary things have happened to Ms. Tomlinson as well as Mr. Richland?”
Adam, Lyle and I all looked at one another; none of us knew of anything, and we told the detective that. “Rachel is, uh, was sort of a walking cry for attention,” Lyle said. “She was like a good many stars – everything they do is calculated to attract attention, good or bad. If strange things had been happening to her, I think she would have screamed her head off, just because it would have brought her attention. I dunno, what do you think, Adam?”
“I think you are probably right, although I do hate to admit it, even about Rachel. No, I just don’t think anything else was going on with her. Sorry, detective,” Adam said.
“So that takes us back to coincidence or related?” Morgan asked. “Has she done anything lately that would have made someone angrier than usual?”
Again we all shared a knowing look. Lyle related the events on the set last Thursday, Rachel’s extreme anger, the handcuffs, everything. He told him what she said, about Adam and past relationships.
“Who heard this?” Detective Morgan asked.
“Pretty much everyone, I think. She was screaming at the top of her lungs. The whole cast and crew was here, and I’m sure they heard it, couldn’t have helped but hear it.”
“Did anyone seem particularly upset at what she said or take any special notice?”
“No, not that I saw, but then I was watching her, not the crowd,” Lyle said.
“Same for me,” Adam agreed. He looked at me then and said, “What about you, love, did you notice anyone?”
I shook my head and answered, “I wasn’t watching the crowd either. I’m sorry,” I offered apologetically.
“What did she say specifically about your past relationships, Mr. Richland?”
“Um, just that she hadn’t been the only woman from my past; there were others that I had hurt because I didn’t care about them.”
“And is that true?”
“Well, to a certain degree, detective. I had other relationships and obviously none of them lasted. Some left me, and I left others. With Rachel, I mean we, uh, just weren’t right for one another. She wanted to be a part of the Hollywood scene; parties, clubbing and such. That’s just not me and never was. I was focused on my career and to me that meant working hard. Rachel was focused on her career as well; she just did it differently than I did. We were only together for a month or so, maybe 6 weeks, no longer. Most of the dating I did was even more casual than that. I had one longer relationship, but she left me.”
“I see. And the longer relationship, was that a bitter breakup?”
“No, she just left. I wasn’t a very spontaneous person and she was. So she left. There was no drama involved in it. Detective Morgan, may I ask you why you fingerprinted Rachel and took a DNA sample? It upset her a great deal.”
“As I told her, it was just to rule her out.”
“And did it? Were there fingerprints or DNA evidence at the house? Was she a suspect?” Adam inquired.
“Not that we found, but at least we had it on file. As far as her being a suspect, I would have to say that yes, she was. She had opportunity and motive, Mr. Richland; those things cannot be discounted.”
“And what if that had something to do with all of this? What if she did try to kill herself and someone else just helped? Maybe it was all too much for her.” Adam looked Detective Morgan straight in the eyes.
“I don’t think anyone would willingly let someone inject them in the nasal cavity; it would be excruciating, Mr. Richland. Ms. Tomlinson may have been drinking on her own, but the drugs were from another source, and it was likely someone she knew because there was no struggle. I think she said something either that day here at the set or another time, and it scared the killer. And I think it has something to do with your stalker, Mr. Richland. We now know one thing; this person is serious enough to kill. Your continued safety will depend on how well you follow our instructions. It is critical now, do you understand that?”
Adam’s face blanched, but he nodded agreement. It was so different now; it wasn’t just a dead rat; a human life was sacrificed for some unknown reason. It didn’t matter that Rachel had been a bitch; it did matter that she had unwittingly gotten involved in all this and was now dead. And that in all likelihood someone we knew did it. It was a sobering thought; probably the most sobering thought I had ever had. Nothing in life had ever prepared me for this; how could it? The man that I loved was being threatened and we didn’t even know why.
I knew one thing though – I had found him and I would not let him go, I would not let our relationship go. We would find a way through this and we would do it together.
I looked at the detective and said, “So what do we need to do?”
Adam looked at me for a moment and then said, “You have to leave, go back to Wichita. I can’t risk putting you in danger anymore, Sarah. You will go home,” he said with finality. His determined gaze met my stubborn one. I lifted my chin a fraction higher and raised my eyebrows, but before I could say a thing, Detective Morgan spoke up.
“That’s not advisable, Mr. Richland. Then there are two of you to try to protect at different locations. No, she needs to stay with you, wherever that is.”
“No, I don’t believe that – if she isn’t with me she won’t be a possible target.”
“We don’t know that, and I don’t think it’s wise to count on it. Someone is serious – deadly serious.”
“I agree,” I interjected. “Adam, I am NOT leaving you, period. It isn’t going to happen.”
Adam stood up and went and stood looking out the window in Lyle’s office. “Oh, bloody hell.” He turned around and looked at me, his eyes hurt and scared. “How can I get on with things if I’m constantly worried about you?”
“Is that going to be better if I’m not where you can see me, know what I’m doing, Adam?” I asked gently.
He looked at me intensely and the look was bleak. “I – I don’t know.” He sat back down dejectedly and leaned his elbows on the table so he could run his hands through his already tousled hair. “No, no it wouldn’t be any easier,” he finished softly.
“All right then. Detective, tell us what we need to do.” I said.
Detective Morgan outlined the plan; it would hopefully keep us safe for as long as we were here. But Lyle brought up something we hadn’t thought of.
“With Rachel no longer a part of the film, well, it’s going to require some adjustments, and some scenes will need to be re-shot, unless we are going to scrap the whole movie, and I guarantee you that will not happen. We’re probably going to have to go back to Italy. That’s one of the things we will discuss in the meeting.”
“Damn,” said Detective Morgan.