We were still sleeping when the phone woke us up at 9:00 am. Adam untangled himself from me and rolled over to answer it.
“Um, hello?” he mumbled into the phone and followed it with a yawn. He listened for a moment and then sat up in bed and said, “Good morning, Lyle. No, it’s okay. What’s up?”
When I heard it was Lyle, I figured that meant we were going to be going back sooner than expected. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and padded into the bathroom. I stood there looking at myself in the mirror and spotted a small bruise on my collar bone, a hickey actually. I laughed, remembering the one Adam had left on me in Italy. It doesn’t seem like he gets that rough, but we do get pretty caught up in it all, I thought.
By the time I was finished in the bathroom, I realized it was quiet out in the bedroom. I opened the door and saw Adam sitting on the edge of the bed, his head resting in his hands. I went and sat down on the edge of the bed next to him and put my arm around him. He looked at me then, and his eyes looked shocked and disturbed.
“Adam, what’s the matter?”
“That was Lyle,” he said softly. “We need to head back to Dallas. Uh, Rachel is dead.”
******************We sat there quietly for a moment and then I said, “I’m going to make us some coffee. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. Just relax, okay?”
He nodded wordlessly as I headed out the door, my mind racing. I went downstairs and got coffee started and then got cups out as well, my hands shaking like crazy. I looked up and saw Adam standing in the doorway, wearing his deep blue robe that looked so wonderful on him, but this morning it only enhanced his pale skin and troubled eyes. He sat down at the breakfast bar bewilderedly and ran his fingers through his hair.
I went to him and put my arms around him and laid my head against his back. “What happened, Adam?” I asked.
“Apparently she committed suicide, Lyle said. They found her a little while ago. She didn’t show up on the set this morning and didn’t answer her phone. They sent someone over to her place and they found her. She was in the bathtub. She had slit her wrists.”
“Oh my God,” I whispered. I couldn’t imagine Rachel doing that; she just didn’t seem like the type. And yet she was so upset the other day on the set. I remembered her furious and out-of-control words, screaming at us all. Emotions that could get that out of control could be capable of anything, I guessed. “Oh, Adam, this is not your fault, do you hear me?” I could tell by his body language that that was exactly what he was thinking, that he was responsible for this horrible thing.
“Did Lyle say anything else? About – uh, it?”
“No. Well, he said they are arranging for a flight back to Dallas for us. The police will want to see us, he was sure. They will call when it’s set up. They are trying to keep things really quiet, you know, from the uh, press. Of course that won’t last for long, I’m sure.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right. I think I should call Tamara,” I told him. He looked at me quizzically.
“She’ll need to take us to the airport, or we’ll have to make arrangements for that. And – and she’ll hear about it, Adam. We should tell her,” I told him quietly.
He nodded his head resignedly. I got up to go get the phone and as I passed him, I kissed him on the cheek. He reached out and wrapped his arms around me, holding me tightly. “It’s just such a shock,” he murmured. “I can’t believe it. I mean, I despised her truly, but I never wished her any harm.”
“I know, my love, I know. I understand how you are, feeling Adam. We’ll get through it, I promise you – together.”
I let him go and called Tamara, briefly telling her what had happened. I heard her sharply indrawn breath and then she said, “I’ll be right over, okay? Do you need anything?” I assured her that we didn’t and told her that I would turn the security system off so she could just use her key and come in.
The coffee was done and I poured us each a cup and brought them over to the breakfast bar and set them down. “Adam, would you like me to make you some breakfast, maybe some toast?”
He looked at me blankly for a moment, as if replaying my words in his mind and finally he shook his head negatively. “No, not right now. I uh, don’t think I’m up for a bite, but thank you, love.”
I didn’t blame him a bit, I thought as I grabbed some cream out of the fridge. It was French vanilla flavored, and I silently thanked Tamara for remembering my fondness for those calorie-intense flavored creams. Well, non-dairy white stuff anyway. It still tasted good, I thought after pouring a liberal amount into my coffee and stirring. Indeed, it did taste good. I sighed.
We heard the door open upstairs, and Tamara called out that it was her. “We’re down in the kitchen, Tamara,” I replied.
“You better come up here to the family room and turn the TV on; it’s already on the news. It’s not being kept quiet at all; they say they had some unofficial source that leaked it.”
Adam and I grabbed our cups of coffee and headed up the stairs. Tamara was already in the family room, remote in hand, and checking out the news. It was already on CNN and Fox news, as well as E!. Rachel’s face was plastered across the TV screen, but that seemed to be the only constant to the news items. One channel said it was suicide, another murder. Images of Rachel swam across the screen continuously, with today’s date listed as her death.
The phone rang and Adam frowned and started to reach for it. “Let me, Adam,” I told him. “You don’t need to be answering it right now. If it’s reporters, I’ll just tell them you are not making any comments right now, okay?” I told him and then answered the phone.
It was Lyle again. “Hi Sarah. Hey, we’ve got a flight booked for you this afternoon, 4:10. Will that work for you?”
“Hold on, Lyle, let me check.” I held my hand over the phone and said, “They have us on a flight at 4:10, Adam; will that work?”
He looked at Tamara – that was right in the middle of the time when she picked up the boys. “Tell him yes and to arrange a car to come and get us, all right?”
Tamara interrupted, “Wait, Serena can pick up the boys. It won’t interfere with anything. There is a practice after school for Tristan. Serena can take them and by the time I’m home, it will just about be over.”
“Really, Tamara, that isn’t necessary. I’m sure Lyle can get a car to come and get us.”
“No, it isn’t a problem. If you pull up at the airport in a limo the press will be all over you. No, you need to let me do this.” She nodded at me and I nodded back.
“Uh, Lyle - yes, that will work fine. Someone will pick us up in Dallas, then?”
“Yes, I’ll have someone at the airport. Would you two like to stay in the new condo or a hotel? I can arrange either. We might be able to control the press a bit more at the condo, though.”
“Yes, I agree. That will be fine, Lyle. It’s all over the TV here. Do you know anything else?”
“I know, the press is swarming around the studio, trying to get statements. So far the police haven’t released any information formally. Sunni was the one that found her body this morning. She said it was horrible.”
“Oh God, poor Sunni. Is she okay?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with her, and the truth is she has been at the police station most of the morning, giving them a statement and going over everything. They will want to talk to everyone, especially after Rachel’s outburst last week.”
“Had she been okay since then?” I asked, wondering if her attitude was any better since Adam wasn’t there.
“No, not really. She had been quiet and withdrawn, which was a bit unusual for her, but she had still been very difficult, throwing mini tantrums whenever she could in between the bouts of silence. I’m really sorry, Sarah, but you two are coming back to a circus. How’s Adam holding up?”
“Quiet so far. Nothing else to report right now,” I told him, hoping that Tamara and Adam would interpret that to be about the press.
“Ah, he’s right there then?” At my murmured “Yes” he continued on. “Well, it’s bound to shake him up after last week. But he’ll be okay, Sarah, so hang in there with him.”
“I will, Lyle. Listen, there is someone else beeping in, so I need to go.”
“Don’t talk to any reporters Sarah. Promise me?”
“Yes, Lyle, I do. Goodbye now,” I told him, switching to the other line.
“Mom?” It was Lissa. “Mom, I tried both of your cell phones and couldn’t get you. Have you heard the news?”
“Yes Lissa, we have heard it. Our cell phones are both upstairs. We’re in the family room with the TV on. We’ll be heading back to Texas later today. How are you?”
“I’m fine, Mom. How are you and Adam?”
“In shock. Things have been very tense with Rachel for awhile, so that sort of makes it harder, you know?”
“Yeah, I understand. Some of the stations are saying she committed suicide. Is that true?”
“Uh, we think it is. Listen, can you do something for us, Lissa?”
“Sure Mom, what do you need?”
“Call Grandma and Grandpa and Derek please. Let them know we are fine and are heading back to Texas and that we’ll be in touch with them soon, but not to call until we call them, okay? I don’t know what all will be happening, but I’m sure we will be talking to the police and stuff when we get back.”
“Okay, I’ll call them. Do you want me to come down to Dallas, Mom?”
“No, honey, that’s not necessary and maybe not even advisable. But thank you for asking. Now listen, I have to go. Take care, Lissa. I’ll call you soon as I can, all right? I love you, Lissa.”
“I love you too, Mom. And tell Adam I love him, okay? Bye!” And the line was suddenly clear.
I hung the phone up and said to Adam, “Lissa sends her love.”
He nodded and held his hand out to me and I went to him and he pulled me down onto his lap to watch the TV reports. Tamara had gotten up to go and get some coffee and Adam and I sat there quietly watching the news.
“What did Lyle have to say?” Adam questioned.
“Not really anything more than he told you, probably. Just that Sunni found her and the press are everywhere.”
He nodded and we both watched a brief clip of some of Rachel’s movie credits. She had been in some excellent films, and there was no denying that she was an incredibly talented actress.
Tamara came back in with her coffee. She was talking to Mark on her cell; he had heard about it in Vancouver already. She talked quietly with him for a few more minutes and then hung up the phone. As we watched the TV, Rachel’s talent was praised and they said she would be mourned by fans around the world.
“Adam, do you think she is the one who has been doing all this stuff? It could make sense, you know. Maybe she just got too carried away with it all and the guilt got to her,” Tamara said as we continued to watch.
“I don’t know. That does make sense, but I still think the dead rat was a bit much for her.”
“For most folks, actually,” I added, shuddering in disgust.
Adams phone rang again, and Tamara looked at the display and said, “Adam, its William Patton. Do you want to take it?”
“Yes, I had better; he’ll just keep trying to reach me if I don’t,” he said and grabbed the phone to talk to his manager. “Hello, William.”
I felt his whole body stiffen as he listened to what William had to say. “I really haven’t heard, William; we haven’t spoken with the police yet. We’ll be going back to Dallas this afternoon, and I suppose we’ll talk to them then.” He listened for a while longer before saying, “Well yes, I suppose I do need to make a comment for you in case you are asked. Let’s say, I regret the untimely death of Rachel, who was a fine actress. I’m sure she will be deeply mourned by her friends and fans alike. How does that sound?”
William must have said it was fine because they ended the conversation soon after that, and I noticed then that it was almost noon.
“Adam, I need to go get us packed. No,” I said as he started to come with me, “I can get it. Why don’t you make us something light to eat? Please?” I asked. I wasn’t so hungry, but whether or not he realized it, he probably was. And it would pull him away from the constantly streaming news reports.
“Yes, Adam, that’s an excellent idea. I’m a bit hungry,” Tamara told him, casting a look over his shoulder to me. I nodded and she headed for the kitchen.
“Adam, why don’t you hop in the shower and get dressed while I’m packing the bags and then I’ll get my shower and we can eat, okay?”
He nodded and headed off to the bedroom. I looked at Tamara and shook my head. “He is just sort of zoned out about all this. I’m not sure I understand exactly why, Tamara,” I told her, my voice troubled.
“Sarah, I’m sure he is feeling really guilty, for one thing. Not that he would ever wish something like this on her, but they fought pretty badly several times lately. Adam carries around a lot of stuff like that. He feels those kinds of things a lot and I know he would take this hard. Just give him some time with it; he’ll be okay soon.”
I nodded in agreement and we headed off downstairs and started poking into the fridge and cabinets as we tried to decide what to eat. “I’m really not that hungry,” I admitted, “But it will be good for Adam to have something to do.”
“Yeah it will. That will help him a lot.” She pulled some eggs out of the fridge along with cheese and veggies and said, “He can make us some omelets, I think.”
The phone rang again and Tamara and I just looked at one another, sort of the ‘deer in the headlights’ look. I went over and looked at the caller ID and it wasn’t a number I recognized, so Tamara looked at it.
“Oh, I’ll bet that’s Aidan,” she said.
“I’ve never talked to him. Should I answer it?”
“Yes, of course!” She grabbed the phone and handed it to me.
“Um, this is Aidan Richland. Is this Sarah?” Although he didn’t have quite as much of a British accent as Adam did, he had a lovely lilt to his voice. I liked it immediately. There was something about it though that reminded me of Adam’s.
“Yes it is, Aidan. Adam is in the shower right now; did you want me to have him call you?”
“Are you shy? Adam didn’t say so if you are.”
“Uh no, no I’m not shy, why do you ask?”
“You’re trying hard to get off the phone!” he laughed. And that sounded exactly like Adam. It was disconcerting, and I found myself blushing furiously. These Richland men, I thought!
I was saved by Adam coming down the stairs right then and I stammered to Aidan that Adam was there.
“Darn! I think the conversation was just about to get interesting! Sarah, never let us Richland men get the better of you! We never let you forget it,” he laughed.
I just looked at the phone like it was a cobra and handed it to Adam. “Uh, it’s your brother,” I said.
Adam took in my red face and said, “What did he say to you, anyway?” and then into the phone, “What the hell did you say to her, anyway? She’s blushing. Have you been having a joke on her, Aidan?” he said in a stern tone of voice, but then he started laughing riotously.
And right then I understood how much these Richland men stuck together, my eyes narrowing as I stared at Adam.
“Oh dear, we’ve pissed her off, little brother. You had better watch out at Thanksgiving. And I had better watch out until then. By the way, are you calling to confirm that you will come to Wichita for Thanksgiving or are you calling about Rachel?”
“You will? Wonderful, we’ll make arrangements for a place for you to stay. Tamara, Mark and the boys will be there too.” He listened for a minute and then added, “She’s actually here, because of the mess. She’s fine. Want to say hello?” He handed the phone to Tamara and came over and kissed me.
He obviously was feeling a little better. Whether it was the shower or talking to Aidan I wasn’t sure, but I was glad about it. He wasn’t really perky yet, but he was at least smiling.
“He said you wouldn’t speak with him. Did he make you mad or something?”
“No, we didn’t have time for that. I just told him you were in the shower and did he want me to have you call him back? No big deal. I just didn’t figure he’d want to talk to me. And then he asked if I were shy and why I was trying so hard to get off the phone and then, uh, he laughed. That’s all, really,” I declared.
“That’s all? Really?” he asked.
“I – I, uh, he, yes, that’s all. He, well he laughed and it sounded like your laugh and it uh, flustered me, okay? It was uncanny, I guess,” I stammered.
“I must say I’m not sure I want you to meet him now,” he said, taking the phone back from Tamara when she handed it to him.
“Aidan is really very nice, he just teases a lot,” Tamara told me. “I think it comes from being a stuffy Medieval History professor; when he’s out of the classroom he plays outrageous practical jokes. Usually it’s fun, but sometimes…” she trailed off with a shrug and a grin. Then she added, “You have to watch those two together, they will try to outdo one another until everyone is driven to distraction.”
I nodded in understanding. I could hear that Adam and Aidan were talking about Rachel and I decided it was a good time to go and take my shower and get dressed and packed. I told Tamara I’d be back down soon and headed upstairs.
I got showered and washed and dried my hair and put on a little makeup before getting dressed. A few minutes later I had our bag packed and left it out on the landing and headed downstairs to the kitchen where I smelled something good cooking.
Adam was still on the phone with Aidan and Tamara was making brunch. “Mm, smells good. Can I help with something, Tamara?”
“No, it’s basically done. Nothing fancy, but it should be okay, I guess. If Adam ever gets off the phone, that is,” she said, pointing at him.
And right then Adam told Aidan goodbye and hung up the phone. He looked at it and frowned before saying, “Someone kept trying to ring in during the call. I don’t know who it was, though.”
I handed him his cell, which said he had missed 11 calls. I had missed 3 – Mom and Dad, Lissa, and Cassie. I would try to call Cassie later since Lissa would have called Mom and Dad by now. I shut mine off and put it in my purse; I didn’t really want to take any more calls. I wished we could turn the house phone off when it rang again. Adam looked at it and said he didn’t recognize the number; it was an LA area code, and he refused to answer it.
“I don’t know where the press comes up with our phone numbers,” he mumbled, sure that was who was calling.
We ate and put the dishes into the dishwasher and started the cycle before getting ready to go. It was still a bit early, but this way Tamara could get back sooner that planned. Adam put on his disguise and loaded our bag into the car and then we set the alarm and headed off for LAX.
When we got there Adam said, “You’ll explain to the boys? I hate not being able to say goodbye, Tamara,” he told her.
“Yes, I’ll explain. It will be fine. You can call them later if you want. They will understand. Keep me informed of what is happening, you two, and if I don’t see you before then, we’ll see you at Thanksgiving.” As I got out of the car she said to me quietly, “Take care of him, Sarah.”
“I will. Thanks for everything, Tamara.”
We headed into the airport to check in for the flight. It was two hours before we could board, so it was into the lounge to wait. I was getting used to these first class lounges in airports, I decided. Heck, I was getting used to first class period, I thought ruefully.
Adam and I both ordered diet cokes, and I noticed he was speaking with an American accent because there were several other passengers in the lounge, which was pretty small. He left his ball cap on and the sunglasses as well, not wanting to take any chances. We didn’t talk about Rachel at all either; that too could have drawn attention to us. We had seen press everywhere in the airport and I suspected there would be many of them on this flight to Dallas, but I’m sure most wouldn’t be traveling first class.
That is, until I saw Marcia McDonald, the famous lead reporter for That’s Showbiz. She looked around the lounge as she entered it and basically acted as if she owned it. Adam’s back was to her, which was good, I thought. I softly told him that she had just come in the lounge and he muttered, “Bloody Hell!”
There was nowhere else for us to go. Back out in the terminal we would surely run into many other press or reporters, so it was safer to stay put. She was staring at me intently and I was trying to figure out why when she headed toward me. “Fudge!” I muttered under my breath.
“Ah, you must be Sarah Marcus; I’m Marcia McDonald,” she said, holding out her hand for me to shake. “And Adam, don’t be such a stranger, can’t you even say ‘hi’ to an old acquaintance?”
I looked at Adam, totally surprised. How in the heck did she know me? She sat down at the table with us without our invitation or permission and leaned forward to speak quietly. I noticed that the people at the service counter were watching things – they of course knew who Adam was and didn’t want him disturbed.
“Marcia,” Adam said softly. “We aren’t doing any interviews. And by the way, how did you know who Sarah is?”
She laughed a totally fake-sounding laugh and said, “Come, come, Adam, it’s my business to know who everyone is. After all, you have been seen all over with her. It’s not really news, you know. I’m heading to Dallas myself to cover this for That’s Showbiz, you know. We could ‘chat’ if you like! Unofficially of course!”
“Not a chance, Marcia. I have nothing to say about all this. You can contact William Patton for any information concerning my view on all of this. Now, if you don’t mind, we were having a private conversation; I’m sure you’ll understand that? We’d like to continue it now.”
He lips pressed into a firm look of displeasure and her eyes hardened so much they looked brittle. But she stood up and moved away. I figured that meant that she was going to blab to everyone that Adam was here, but he didn’t think so.
“Despite her being angry, she will respect what I said because she knows that if she doesn’t she’ll never get another interview from me ever again. Don’t worry about it.”
I watched her approach the bar and ask for a gin and tonic and take it to another table to sip it. She was close enough that she could certainly overhear any conversation we had, so like before we talked of other things. I was still kind of freaked out about her knowing my name, but I suppose she was right, it probably wasn’t a big secret. And sooner or later I would be on the cover of some tabloid, I realized.
The headline would probably read something like this: Kansas woman traps Adam Richland into marriage. His family tries to intervene. I almost laughed at the thought of that. It was almost funny – almost.
The boarding call finally came for our flight and we gathered our carry on and headed to the gangway. We got settled into our seats and waited until we were in the air before speaking again.
After we lifted into the air, we both ordered drinks, for me a glass of white wine and for Adam a beer. Our seats were in the back row, which was good. Marcia was two rows ahead and most certainly couldn’t hear any conversation that we had. We sipped our drinks and declined to watch the movie. I laid my head back in the seat and watched the ground far below us. We were flying over thunderstorms, and the plane bounced quite a bit, even bumped down hard a few times, but it passed quickly and before we knew it we were touching down in Dallas, and we waited impatiently for the plane to make it to the gate so we could get off.
We grabbed our carry on bag and headed down the gangway, and as we stepped out onto the concourse, what seemed like dozens of cameras flashed in our eyes. Every reporter in Dallas seemed to be there waiting for us. Adam’s arm tightened around me and then we were surrounded, microphones shoved in our faces, half-blinded by the flashes. We were back in Dallas.