Other than the incident with Jason, our days were peaceful until late Thursday evening when Lissa called. We had just finished dinner and were thinking about the trip to California tomorrow.
“Hi Mom,” Lissa said when I answered the phone. “Um, you guys okay?”
“Yes, why wouldn’t we be, Lissa?” I asked, a puzzled frown on my face. Adam looked at me inquiringly as I waited for Lissa to speak.
“Uh, well, you guys haven’t seen the entertainment channel today?”
“No, we don’t usually watch that. Why, is there more stuff on there about Rachel?”
“Not quite,” she said hesitantly. “You and Adam and uh, Jason are on there. Although you can’t see Jason really well.”
“WHAT?” I practically screamed into the phone. I headed into the living room immediately, Adam following closely and asking me repeatedly what was going on. I flipped on the TV and tuned it to E!, and there, in a not-so-great video, were Adam, Jason, and me in the supermarket.
“Bloody hell,” Adam exclaimed at the same time I was saying “Oh My God!”
“Mom? Mom?” Lissa was asking. “MOM, are you there, are you okay?”
“The two women who were watching from the aisle,” I said into the phone. “There were two women watching what was happening. I thought they would come up for an autograph or something, but they went away,” I told Lissa. “I suppose this is all over everywhere?”
“Yeah; it started out on YouTube and then somehow the TV got it. Probably those women sold it. E! keeps repeating it on the entertainment news section.”
“YouTube? Geez, they must have used a camera phone.” I watched as they looped the video, focusing on the part where Adam told Jason he would be glad to accommodate him. You couldn’t hear what was being said, but you could clearly see Adam moving towards Jason, anger apparent. It made Adam look horrid, antagonistic even. Right then Adam’s phone started ringing. “Lissa, we gotta go. I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Yeah, Mom. Bye!”
I heard Adam muttering “William” as he picked up his phone and answered it.
He immediately said, “Yes, William, we have seen it, just now,” before William had a chance to say anything. I heard him telling William about the incident when my phone rang again. I saw that it was Tamara.
“Hi Tamara,” I answered.
“Have you seen it, Sarah?” she asked, sounding distressed.
“Yes, Lissa called a few minutes ago and we turned the TV on. She said it was on YouTube first.”
“I tried calling Adam’s phone, but he didn’t answer. Is he there?”
“Yeah, he’s talking to William right now. His phone was in here in the living room, so I guess we didn’t hear it until we came in here to turn the TV on. God, what next, Tamara? It makes Adam look like a bully. You can’t even see that Jason was holding onto the cart so that we couldn’t go.” It made me even angrier as I thought about it. How did the press have the right to show things like this without our permission anyway?
“Yes, it certainly doesn’t look very good. That was Jason, your ex-boyfriend?”
“Yes,” I answered, still watching the clip loop on TV.
“I’m afraid you’ll be facing a media gauntlet tomorrow at the funeral, Sarah. You’re going to have to be very tough and hide your feelings. Can you do that?”
“I suppose I’ll have to, but it just makes me incredibly, irrationally angry, Tamara. As if all this with Rachel wasn’t enough, now this!” l told her miserably.
“I understand, Sarah. Mark and I will be there; we’ll meet the plane at the airport and all go to the funeral together if you like.”
“Oh, yeah, I do. Thanks, Tamara.
“Are you staying after the funeral?” she asked.
“I – I don’t know. We hadn’t really made any plans. I guess we’ll just play it by ear.” I saw Adam set his phone down and I told him, “I have Tamara on the phone; do you want to talk to her?”
He nodded yes and I handed him the phone. I listened to what they were saying on the TV and cringed.
“Adam Richland, long known as one of Hollywood’s nicest leading men, may have fallen off the pedestal yesterday in a Dallas supermarket. This video taken by Ms. Catherine Burns with her camera phone shows Mr. Richland accosting a fan in the supermarket, threatening him to get out of the way. While there is no audio on this clip, it clearly shows a confrontational side of Adam Richland. Witnesses were dismayed by Mr. Richland’s display of anger, as this unknown man is threatened.”
The commentator turned to his female colleague and continued on. “Mr. Richland has recently been in the spotlight, and is seen here with his companion, Sarah Marcus of Wichita, Kansas several times. He is working on the movie in Dallas that starred himself and Rachel Tomlinson.” They were flashing pictures of Adam and me in the mob scene at the Dallas airport on Monday night.
His companion spoke up then, “Kevin, hadn’t there been lots of problems on that set before Ms. Tomlinson died? Inside reports from the movie set tell us that there were several disruptive disagreements on the set between Ms. Tomlinson and Mr. Richland. It is also rumored that Ms. Marcus raised objections to a love scene between Mr. Richland and Ms. Tomlinson. We understand that at one point the director, Lyle Cunningham, threatened to remove her from the set and accused Mr. Richland of prima donna behavior. It is said that Mr. Cunningham had to halt production one morning in order to try to bring some peace to the set.”
“Yes, this is a truly sad situation for Adam Richland, again once known as one of the nicest actors imaginable among his fellow actors. Now we are going live to Hawaii where Misty Grant is covering the wedding of George—“
I turned the TV off abruptly, sick to death of all I had heard. I bent over and rested my head on my arms, folded across my knees. “Every single thing they said was taken out of context, twisted to make it sound horrible,” I mumbled to myself. I drew in a very shaky breath that quickly turned into a sob. I was miserable, and truthfully, I wasn’t sure I could handle all this. It didn’t only affect me; I had Lissa, Derek, and my family to be concerned with. I had a life that was now being propelled into the madness of the media all for the sake of blessed publicity and probably money too. I was under no illusions and knew that things like this boosted the sale of papers and garnered high ratings on TV. I could only imagine what I would see on the covers of the scandal magazines soon.
I looked up and saw Adam staring at me pensively. He had just gotten off the phone with Tamara and probably hadn’t heard what the commentators had said.
He spoke to me quietly, almost as if to not scare me; I must have looked like a frightened child, I thought. “Sarah, love, what are you thinking?”
I looked at him with sad eyes. I knew I needed to fight back and I wanted to, but I didn’t have a clue as to how to do that. What could I possibly say or do that would make any of this better I wondered.
“I’m angry and embarrassed and hurt. I’m thinking about what my family is thinking as they see that report - hear what those people said about us, about me. I find it incredible that they can say those things without knowing whether or not they are true, Adam.”
“What things are you talking about, Sarah? What did they say?”
I told him what the commentators had said and about the pictures they had shown. Adam visibly blanched as I told him and even winced a couple of times. Then his face grew red and I realized how angry he was becoming. He stood up and started pacing the room, gliding along like a huge cat in a cage. If he had a tail the very end of it would have been twitching madly.
“Those insufferable assholes; of all the rotten things to say. They can have fair game at me, I expect it, but to draw you into this mess is intolerable.” His comments were interrupted by the doorbell, and Adam went to see who it was. “It’s Lyle,” he told me, opening the door. One of the nicer things about staying in this complex was that press and other vultures couldn’t just hang out in front of our house, badgering us for comments and interviews.
Lyle walked in and took in both of us with a glance. “Sarah, Adam, you’ve seen the news, I suppose?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Adam said. “We saw it on E!, but I suppose it’s on other channels as well?”
“Yes, it’s been looping all evening. Want to tell me what actually happened?”
Adam stared at Lyle hard and started to open his mouth, but before he could say anything Lyle held his hand up in a “stop” gesture and said, “Look, I can’t help if I don’t know exactly what went on. I’ll be making a formal statement soon and I need to be prepared for any questions. Adam, they are causing havoc with the film and we’ve got enough problems there; we need to be able to control all this. Have you talked to William?”
“Yes, I’ve already talked to William. He wants a press conference tomorrow, after the funeral.” As he spoke, he looked at me because he hadn’t yet told me this and he could tell it alarmed me.
Lyle nodded his head in agreement and said, “Yes, that is a good idea. We all need to stand together on this. And if I find out who is talking from the crew, they’re fired. I can’t believe someone would give out so much information. It had to come from the cast or crew because of what they said; just enough to be close to the truth, but not quite telling the whole story. I’ll call William and we’ll get a game plan together. Are you two still going on the chartered jet?”
“Yes, I’m sure it will be the most controlled atmosphere. No reporters along, Lyle?” Adam inquired.
“No, just cast and crew. 19 of us actually. A limo will be here in the morning at 8:30 in order to get you to the airport on time. We are flying out of a small regional airport; we thought that might avoid some of the media. I hope so anyway.”
I spoke up then. “Adam, Tamara said she and Mark would like to meet us at the airport in LA and that we could all go to the funeral together. Is that still going to be possible?”
Adam and Lyle exchanged unreadable looks and finally Lyle said, “We’re not flying into LAX, again we’re going with a smaller airport. And we are not releasing the name yet, to try to keep it from the press, although I’m sure they will be hanging out at all the local airports. It might not be a bad idea though, showing solidarity with your ex, Adam. Are they coming in a limo?”
“I – I don’t know, she didn’t say. Would that be better?” I asked.
“Yes. Dark windows, helps to keep prying eyes off of you both,” Lyle told me. He looked at Adam and added, “Why don’t you check with Tamara?”
Adam picked up his phone and called her and they chatted for a few minutes. Lyle looked at me with concern clouding his eyes. He reached out his hand and took mine in it before speaking.
“Sarah, you have got to be tough tomorrow.”
I nodded and answered, “Yes, Tamara already reminded me of that. Right now I’m sort of keening between anger and pain. Lyle, I’m afraid of what my family is going to go through because of this. I think I can be stoic tomorrow if I have to; I’ll just keep my mouth shut, but it is appalling that they can have such untruthful trash on the air without ever verifying its truth.”
”That’s my girl, Sarah; you’re tough, I know. And actually, I hadn’t thought about your family. I suppose local media will try to get comments out of them. We’ll need to talk to them as well.”
I groaned at that; I couldn’t imagine my mom and dad facing the press with anything close to grace. I could see my mom getting so angry and not caring what she said. She would be all over them for questioning Adam and me; she’s completely loyal and faithful and won’t stand for them saying anything unkind about us. I told Lyle as much. I watched his face as he listened to all of this. He was fighting for more here than just the film; he was fighting for his integrity as well. Hollywood, from what I’ve heard, can be totally fickle and very political. People are blackballed for less than all this. If the press continues on in this manner, it will look like Lyle has been covering up cruel treatment of Rachel on his set, which isn’t true.
Adam interrupted his call with Tamara and said, “They’ll get a limo for tomorrow, but they need to know which airport, Lyle.”
“Tell her we will call her from in flight tomorrow because we haven’t decided yet. But tell her we should be landing around 11:00 am and we’ll let her know in plenty of time.”
Adam relayed that information to Tamara and then hung up the phone. He sat there holding it in his hand, turning it over and over, apparently lost in thought.
Lyle interrupted Adam’s thoughts by saying, “Sarah has brought up a good point, Adam; she wonders if her family will be questioned by the press.”
“I hadn’t thought of that, but I’m sure you are right, Sarah,” he said to me.
My phone rang again and I looked at it, seeing that it was Lissa again. I sighed and answered it again.
“Mom,” she said without greeting me, “Are you still watching the reports? If not you had better turn it on because grandma and grandpa are on there right now!”
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed, reaching for the remote and hitting the ‘on’ button. There were my Mom and Dad, sitting in their living room and giving some reporter what for.
“And let me tell you something else,” my Mother was saying to the reporter. I couldn’t help but notice she had gotten him a cup of coffee, and that was so typical of my mom. Give ‘em hell, but serve them coffee! “That woman was awful. She tried to crash a family gathering in California at Adam’s house. Oh, Adam and Sarah didn’t think we realized what was going on, but we knew, yes we did. She was very rude, and I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but she wasn’t a nice person, not at all. She was just jealous of Adam and Sarah; it was plain as the nose on your face! And as far as that movie from that Dallas market, well that was Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, not a fan at all, I assure you. We’ve known his parents for years and his mom called me after that happened yesterday and told me all about it, how Jason regretted what had happened. He was hanging on to that shopping cart so that Sarah and Adam couldn’t leave, and he felt terrible about it afterwards, now especially. Jason in a good boy, but he and Sarah just weren’t happy together. You should just ask him about that himself!”
I thought I would pass out when Mom suggested they talk to Jason. I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide away. But I focused back on the TV screen and watched in fascinated horror as Mom kept talking to the reporter, unchecked.
“Now Adam is a very nice man, I tell you he is. He is so kind. Did you know that he organized a whole birthday party for my daughter in California that we all went out for, and he kept it a secret from her too so that it was all a surprise. Does that sound like a cruel man to you? I think not. They met in Italy, on my daughter’s vacation, and then she was in an accident when she got back here and Adam was right here before she even regained consciousness, and he’s been with her ever since!”
“And do you think that Adam and Sarah are going to get married? Anything official on that?”
My breath caught in my throat. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say on that, I just knew that I didn’t. I wanted to clamp my hands over my ears and yet I couldn’t. I had my hands over my eyes then muttering under my breath, “oh Mom, oh Mom, don’t say anything!” Too late.
“Well I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something about that sometime soon. He fits in with our family wonderfully, and Sarah fits in with his. So let’s say that I certainly hope to hear wedding bells soon!”
My Dad hadn’t said a word during the whole interview, which isn’t unexpected since Dad often doesn’t say much. But he chose that moment to speak up and said, “Adam, it would please me a great deal if you and Sarah get married. Just so you know!” And then he winked at the camera.
My humiliation was complete. I looked at Adam then and he was smiling and so was Lyle. I realized I was still holding onto the phone and held it up to my ear. “Lissa, are you still there?”
“Yeah. Way to go, Grandma!”
“Oh Lissa!” I exclaimed wretchedly. “How can you say that?”
“Come on Mom, it wasn’t so bad. At least she told the other side.”
I was trying to listen to her and Adam and Lyle. Another story was on the TV then and they had muted the sound. They were talking about what mom had said, and they truthfully didn’t seem too upset by it, not like I was. “Yeah, well Lissa, I need to get off the phone, okay?”
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later, Mom. I love you and give my love to Adam too!”
“Bye Lissa,” I said, ending the call.
I looked at Adam and Lyle, who were still talking about the interview. And it was apparent now that they were not upset about it at all. Lyle was saying, “Yeah, that can’t hurt anything. Was she correct about what happened in the grocery store?”
“Yes, she was. We came around a corner and he was standing in the middle of the isle. We stopped and Sarah asked after his mother who is having surgery soon and then he wouldn’t let us pass and reached out and grabbed hold of the cart. I just told him that I wasn’t looking for any trouble but that I wouldn’t run away from it either. He finally let go of the cart and we went around him and on our way. I’m sure the video comes from two young women who were standing at the end of the aisle watching everything.”
Lyle looked at me, at my pale face with high spots of bright color that stood out on my cheeks, and said, “Sarah, your mom is a genius, amazing really. She probably just helped this whole mess a lot.”
“I don’t understand how that could be,” I told him, still dismayed about it.
“She is just an ordinary person, and she refuted what was being said in the media, not only about the confrontation, but about Rachel as well. People relate more to people like themselves and so they will believe her, I promise you. Well, lots of them anyway.”
Adam’s phone rang again and he looked at it and said, “William,” before answering.
Lyle stood up then and said, “Well, Sarah, I’m leaving now, but we’ll see you in the morning. He reached his arm out and gave me a brief hug before heading out the door. He must have been staying in one of the nearby condos because he took off on foot, heading down the street. He was visible in the street lamps, and I watched as he went about a block before entering one of the other houses. I closed the door then and listened as Adam continued to chat with William. I’m sure he wasn’t going to have anything good to say about mom and dad’s interview.
I went and poured Adam and myself each another glass of wine; I certainly felt as if we had earned it, and when I brought it back into the living room, he was off the phone, sitting on the couch and still smiling. I found that unbelievable after the events of these past couple of hours.
Silently I handed him the glass of wine and sat down next to him. He put his arm around me and we sat watching the TV, sans the sound, for a few minutes before we said anything.
My mind was feeling numb now, and maybe that was a good thing. I wasn’t sure what had upset me more, mom talking to the press or what dad had said and done. There were just too many things happening and I felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath right now. I needed some space or something. Even having Adam’s arm around me was uncomfortable. My whole body was on edge, like I was fine crystal and someone was singing the high note; I knew I would shatter at any moment.
Adam could undoubtedly feel the tension in my body. He was rubbing his hand up and down my shoulder, and I wanted to scream at him to just stop it. I could tell I was on the precipice; that place I visit before I run away.
I abruptly stood up and went to look out the window. I tried taking a couple of deep breaths to steady myself, but I knew I needed to escape. I needed to be able to get in the car and drive myself into oblivion, pushing these thoughts out of my mind. And I couldn’t; I had nowhere to go for escape.
I looked over my shoulder at Adam, and he was watching me intently, trying to decide if he should try to speak to me or not. I turned my head back to stare vacantly out the window and drained the contents of my glass. I decided that I needed to go take a bath and headed in that direction.
Adam called out to me, “Where are you going, love? Do you need something?”
“I – I’m going to take a bath, Adam.”
“That sounds like a splendid idea, love. Do you want some company?”
I shook my head, “No, I, uh, I just need some space, Adam. All right?”
“Certainly, love. I’ll make some more calls; I need to contact Aidan, I’m sure. Let me know if you need anything, though!”
I nodded and made my escape, practically running up the stairs to run the bath.
I threw in some of the relaxing bath salts I have and then sank down gratefully into the warm water. I turned the jets on and just laid back and tried to clear my mind of all the clutter and extraneous junk that was banging around in my head right now.
Adam gave me time; precious time to get my thoughts back on track, and I appreciated that so much. Most guys, or at least the men from my past, would have been insecure about me saying I needed the time alone. But he seemed to accept it with no problems or worries, and that was exactly what I needed. I didn’t need to have to bargain for time or explain my motives or deal with someone’s insecurities about my mini-breakdown.
Could this wonderful man actually be the right one for me? I sat there in the frothy bubbles provided by the jets and contemplated that question.
I hadn’t doubted that for awhile now, and frankly, this only affirms that decision. I know that sooner or later he is going to ask me to marry him, and rather than striking fear into my heart and head, it is exciting. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas; anticipation is singing through me, and while I’m still a little scared, I know I’ll be okay. Tonight just confirms that; he is strong enough and secure enough to give me space.
How wonderful that is.
I have never in my adult life known a man like Adam; one who just lets me be me and even more happily, loves me the way I am. I am very lucky indeed!
He looked up as I entered the room and quickly made his excuses to whomever he was talking to and then turned the phone off and laid it on the end table. I smiled at him and sat down on his lap and wrapped my arms around his neck. I kissed him, a lingering kiss that was meant to convey how much I love him, and then I decided that the kiss alone couldn’t tell him that.
“Adam,” I told him, looking into his beautiful chocolate eyes, “I love you so much; I adore you, in fact. Thank you for letting me have a little time tonight and not making me feel guilty about it. It means so much to me to know that you accept that part of me.” I leaned down to kiss him again, this time being a little more assertive.
I thrilled to the feel of his mouth hungrily feasting on mine, and his tongue sent shivers up my spine as it enticingly stroked my own. I leaned back against the arm of the couch and he stretched out next to me, his mouth never leaving mine, and the kiss went on and on until I felt intoxicated and had to come up for air.
Adam had pulled my hips into tight contact with his own, and I smiled as I felt his desire pressing into me. Our eyes locked and we both grinned.
“So, are you sure you love me? I mean really sure?” he teased.
“Um, well I think so, pretty sure, well, probably anyway,” I teased right back.
“Hmm, is there anything I can do that might sway that opinion?” he asked.
“God, I hope not. I don’t think my heart could stand loving you any more. It’s near to bursting now, Adam. I am so happy.”
“Are you all right then? I was a bit worried about you earlier, you know.”
“Um, I know. But I’m fine; I just needed a bit of time to think it all through. I’m always going to be like that, Adam. Sometimes I just need that time, and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you or want you.”
“Yes, I know that, love. I wasn’t worried about that. You were just very upset and I felt as if I didn’t do the right thing.”
“No, you did exactly the right thing – you gave me some space.” I bent my head to nibble on his neck and felt him stretch it out a bit to allow me better access.
“Mm,” he murmured. I felt his hand sliding up and down my back, over the silky robe, before slipping down and cupping my bottom, pulling me even closer.
I threw my leg over his, and I could feel the powerful strength of his erection rubbing over my wetness. I tried to slide my hand down between us to unzip his slacks, but I couldn’t have gotten a piece of paper between us we were pressed so tightly together. I giggled as I tried to scoot away from him a bit and he only held me closer.
“Where do you think you are going, love?” he whispered into my ear. His breath was warm and caressing in my ear, and I shivered again.
“Well, I’m trying to get your pants unfastened, if you must know. You’re not exactly cooperating, Adam!”
“Really?” he asked. I felt his hand slip down around and then under my leg to caress my already excited body. At the contact of his fingers I jumped. His fingers slid up and down the valley that was already wet and aching with desire, and I shuddered as he slid his fingers inside of me, stroking slowly. I felt his mouth teasing my nipple through the lace of my nightie and then suckle tenderly on me. It was all I needed to reach my orgasm, and I held onto him tightly as my body contracted with my release.
He held me until I was near to breathing normally again, and I felt so loved, so cherished.
I wish I had a dozen lifetimes to spend with this man.