I couldn’t believe that the time had passed so quickly, but it was already Thursday evening and we would leave tomorrow to fly to Wichita. We would be there for a whole week and I was so looking forward to it. Yeah, Thanksgiving is a lot of work, but the rewards far outweighed the work. We would get to see the boys and my kids as well, and I’d get to meet Aidan, the so far elusive brother.
Tamara, Mark, and the boys would fly in on Monday, so we’d have lots of time to visit, which would probably do Adam as much good as anything. Derek and Pam were driving from El Paso and would be home sometime Tuesday evening. Lissa was driving down on Wednesday morning. Her doctor couldn’t join us, though, and I was sorry I wasn’t going to meet him. It seemed like it could be serious; at least, Lissa hadn’t showed this much interest in anyone before. Aidan and his wife Sylvia would not be in until Wednesday evening, since he teaches a class that morning. And Ryan would come home with us. He’s not too upset about it, though, because Krista has promised to fly in on Saturday to spend the day. I am delighted for him. I think he is half in love with her, but I can’t really tell what she feels because she is as tired and stressed as everyone else. She and Lyle spend every evening running the daily rushes to see what they have done. She told me they often don’t get done until 2 or 3 in the morning and then are back on set by 7:00. I don’t know how they do it.
All in all, though, I couldn’t wait. Mom and I had been on the phone much of this week, trying to organize shopping lists and such. Mom is the consummate bargain shopper, and if she can get it on sale a week or two before she’ll do it.
Getting the list together involved talking to Adam and Tamara, trying to find out what they usually have, so that everyone would have something they thought of as ‘Thanksgiving foods’. Tamara informed me the boys wanted turkey, and oh, by the way, turkey. And pumpkin pie! Now if only everyone was that easy to please.
Adam seemed almost like a walking zombie, just putting one foot in front of the other, trudging along. But so did everyone else on the cast and crew. It’s amazing though – when Lyle yells ‘Action!’ they all manage to find enough energy to get through it. These are all incredibly dedicated professionals – from the gophers and best boys to the cast and writers, they have all given 100%+ and it has certainly given me a new appreciation for the art of making movies. It’s not a profession for the weak hearted.
The one good thing was that we hadn’t had any more problems with notes or anything from our mystery person. I wanted to believe they had just given up, but I knew better. Maybe all the security was a deterrent, but there would come a time when there would be an opening, and they would strike then, I was sure. I was very thankful for things being peaceful for us in that area since everything else was so busy. And possibly the stalker is just as busy as we are and hasn’t had a chance to do anything else. I hadn’t spent any more time on the internet trying to figure it out; it would just drive me crazy if I did. Still, it felt like there was a heaviness in the air, like trouble was just waiting to get in.
I have learned so much while being with Adam, not the least of which is faith. Not necessarily a faith in a higher power; I already had that. I’m speaking of the faith that comes when you trust your instincts, even when what they are telling you is scary. It involves faith on several levels: first, that the feelings you are feeling are right, that they are the path you are supposed to be traveling. Next, that you are not being deceived in the feelings of the other person; that their feelings are real, not just sham emotions uttered to attain some kind of agenda of their own. And finally, that the two of you, together, are exactly where you are supposed to be.
And somewhere along the way, I had come to believe that we were both exactly where we were supposed to be; that what was required for me was to have faith and stay the course. I believed in us; now I had only to believe that God was going to get us through this.
Tonight I was trying to figure out what to take with us as far as clothes go. I, of course, had lots of clothes there to wear, but Adam had fewer. And it was pretty cold in Wichita now. Adam would probably need a coat, and he didn’t have one either place. When we got to Wichita we could go shop for one for him; I only hoped it wasn’t too cold for him until then. He had a light jacket, and that was going to have to do. Plus, he’d need a coat for Italy. I couldn’t believe we would be going back in about two weeks.
I really was excited to go back to Italy. It was more than I ever expected when I left there the first time that I would ever go again. But I did and I met the man of my dreams, and now I get to go back again! We still had more decisions to make because I was supposed to go back to work after the first of the year. And if I wasn’t, I needed to let them know as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to resign my job until firmer plans were made, but I also didn’t want to push things with Adam either. For my sake, not his. I had the feeling he would be more than happy if I were to say that I would quit my job tomorrow and that I would immediately marry him. Well, if he asked anyway.
He was going to ask, I knew that. And I was coming closer to being all right with it. Don’t get me wrong – I want to be with him and I even want to marry him. But acknowledging that and being at peace with it are two roads that a bridge hasn’t quite connected yet. I can see both sides, and I’m getting closer all the time. I think I might still feel a bit panicked if he were to ask right now, but that won’t always be the case. I do believe that.
The good news was that Cassie was home. Well, out of the hospital and staying with her parents still, but that’s okay. She had to go for physical therapy every day for two more weeks and then it would be down to 3 times a week. She’d go home at that point and I knew she was so excited about that. She still saw Dr. Gorgeous almost daily; I’m not sure if he realized how much of an inspiration he was for her, but I hoped he didn’t stop. I’d kick his behind if he stopped.
I finally got everything packed that I thought I might need and then decided to just take it all back to Wichita. I’ll need to pack for Italy there, with warmer clothes, so it was easier this way. Then I decided to do the same thing for Adam, which meant we were going to have to pay for an extra bag going to Wichita, but by now money didn’t seem to be such a great concern as it was before.
I had debts and I often thought about how I would pay those if I was not working. I had a mortgage, a car payment, and a couple of credit cards to consider. While I’m off of work I’m still getting paid because of sick leave and vacation leave, but without a job, what happens next? I’m not going to let Adam take those over, even though I can see us having quite a discussion about that. And my $700 shopping spree in California didn’t really help my MasterCard, that’s for sure. I’ve got a lot in savings so I could pay off those debts, other than the mortgage, that is, but then my savings would virtually be cut in half. And thinking about the future without that money to fall back on scares me, especially when you consider that I won’t be replenishing it with work income.
So many things to consider and really no answers to be had. But I may have an idea about the house, and I’m going to mull it over a bit before deciding what to do for sure.
Adam had been sitting on the bed reading the script for tomorrow’s shoot while I packed. I always tried to be quiet when he is doing that; I knew he had so much to memorize, and for the past week they had been memorizing the scenes the day before they were shot because of all the changes. And the writers wouldn’t have much of a holiday at all – I understand that there are even more re-writes in the works.
I finished the bags and sat them on the floor. I’d worry about any last minute things tomorrow morning. We would be going straight to the airport from the shoot, taking a late afternoon flight into Wichita. Bobby was going to pick us up in my car so mom and dad didn’t have to get out, and while we might be a bit squeezed in because of the luggage, we’d make it.
Ryan was as excited to go to Wichita as he was Italy, which I found interesting. I was afraid he was really going to be disappointed. And then I remembered Detective Arnold. I had thought he was interested in her before Krista, but surely not now? It was puzzling, and the nosy part of me couldn’t wait to see what this brought.
Adam laid the script down on the bed beside him and rubbed his eyes, which were red and tired-looking. He leaned his head back against the headboard with a sigh. I glanced at the clock on the bedside table and saw that it read 9:20. He looked like he could sleep for a week; make that he looked like he needed to sleep for a week.
“Ready to get to sleep, Adam?” I asked, hoping that he would say yes. I was going in to the studio with them in the morning, and as far as I’m concerned, 6:00 am comes awfully early.
“In just a little bit, I promise, love. Only a little more to read.” He picked the script up and played with the edges, fanning through them. “Are you done packing?” he asked.
“Yes, I am. You are going to need a winter coat when we get to Wichita, so we are going to have to go shopping! Of course, I don’t know if we have any haute couture shops there for you,” I teased, and I was rewarded with a slight smile.
“I’ll just have to suffer then,” he said and then yawned. “Only a little bit more, but I swear these words just don’t want to stick in my brain.”
“Gee Adam, did you ever stop to think your poor brain is just over-loaded and flat tired? I don’t know how you do it under normal circumstances, but these past weeks have been horrible.”
“I know, love. Has it been awful for you?”
“No. Well, yes, but only because I see how tired you are. I know there isn’t anything I can do to help, but I am concerned about you. I’m fine, Adam, only worried.”
He nodded tiredly and yawned once more and then picked the script up again with a bit of determination, so I left him alone. I went downstairs and found Ryan talking on the phone to someone and then headed on into the kitchen. I poured two big glasses of milk and got Adam and myself each a brownie and headed back upstairs. Adam looked up briefly when I came back into the room and shut the door behind me. I held up the goodies, and his eyes brightened a bit. I sat his glass of milk on the night table beside him along with his brownie and then sat down on the bed myself, leaning back and reaching for the computer that was sitting on a shelf of my nightstand.
I opened it up and booted it up. I thought I might check my e-mail before going to sleep. I hadn’t heard from Lissa for a couple of days because as an intern doctor, her hours can be crazy, and sometimes it’s easier for her to e-mail me rather than call.
I typed in the ISP address for my e-mail and saw that I did have one from Lissa. Yeah! I thought. And then I noticed another one that was out of place. It had a telephone number in the ‘From’ field. A local number, judging by the area code. Still, it was pretty weird. Yes, cell phones can send e-mails, but still…
I thought about it for a moment before saying anything to Adam. I didn’t want to alarm him unnecessarily, but my instinct was telling me this wasn’t good. I decided to read Lissa’s note and finish my snack and then take the computer downstairs, ostensibly so we could take it back to the studio tomorrow to turn in.
Lissa’s note only said that she had been terribly busy but that her plans were unchanged; she would be in Wichita on Wednesday morning and she couldn’t wait to see us. I typed some bland reply to her because my head was spinning with fear about the other e-mail. Finally I hit the ‘send’ button and waited impatiently for the message to say that it had been sent. When I got it, I closed the laptop and stood up, gathering up our empty glasses to take back downstairs.
“I’ll be back in a couple of minutes, Adam,” I told him as I headed out the door. He nodded at me and immediately went back to his script. I practically flew down the stairs and found Ryan still on the phone, but at the look of panic on my face he quickly hung up.
“What’s the matter, Sarah?” he asked.
“I don’t know for sure, Ryan, maybe nothing. But, I – I wanted to show you something.” I opened the computer again and finally got back to my e-mail and then pointed at the curious one.
Ryan looked at it for a long moment and then up at me. “That looks like a local phone number. I take it you don’t recognize it?”
I adamantly shook my head. “No, not at all. It’s just strange, Ryan, and I was afraid to open it upstairs.”
“Yeah, I understand. Well, uh, go ahead I guess. It could be nothing, you know?”
I clicked on the e-mail and it took a couple of seconds to open and when it did, we saw another poetic effort. But to my horror there was a picture in it as well.
Sugar and spice
is not very nice
when you’re abandoned and alone.
The sins of the fathers
wreak havoc with daughters
Creeps coldly within them
turning their hearts to stone
And below that was a picture of Lissa, at school.
I started crying immediately; huge wrenching sobs that brought Adam down at a run. Ryan had his arm around me, holding my head against his shoulder, trying to comfort me when Adam got into the room.
“My God, what’s wrong, love?” he asked.
I looked up and saw him and immediately flew into his arms, tears flowing unchecked down my face. Ryan, his arms now free, was already on the phone calling Little Elk.
“Sarah, love, what’s wrong? Tell me,” he pleaded while trying to pay attention to Ryan on the phone.
I couldn’t speak yet; I could only stare in horror at the computer, and he finally caught where my focus was and looked down at the softly glowing screen.
Ryan snapped the phone shut with a sharp ‘click’ and said, “Little Elk will be here soon, so just hang on, Sarah.”
Adam was still staring at the computer, but he couldn’t see it very well from where he was standing. He was still holding me closely and then said, “Ryan, what the hell is going on?” His voice was shaking a bit and I’m sure he dreaded hearing what Ryan would say.
“Sarah got an e-mail from, well, whoever is doing all this, Adam. It’s uh, made a reference to daughters and has a picture of Lissa on it.”
Adam led me over to the couch and we both sat down. I slumped against the back; suddenly the tears had run dry, and I just stared at the computer.
Adam leaned forward to look at it, and as soon as he read the poem his face paled drastically. I was glad he was sitting down, but he only stayed sitting for a moment before getting up and wildly pacing the room. Anger and frustration were dripping from him; he was like a snake, tightly coiled and ready to strike out at anything that moved.
He turned and looked at me, and I felt as bad for him as I felt scared for Lissa. He was outraged and I’m sure he felt totally helpless.
Little Elk knocked on the door a few minutes later. We hadn’t said anything else, but Adam had finally sat back down again and put his arm around me. I laid my head on his shoulder and sat staring at the computer screen dry-eyed and with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt breathless, and not in a good way.
Ryan opened the door for Little Elk, who entered the room and went straight to the computer with only the most perfunctory greetings for Adam and me.
“Cell phone, looks like,” he said to Ryan. He pulled his own cell out and phoned someone and gave them the number and requests for the account and GPS location before hanging the phone up with a snap.
“Probably disposable, Little Elk,” Ryan said, and Little Elk nodded tersely at him in acknowledgment.
“Most likely.” He turned to me and asked, “Is this a current picture?”
“Yeah, pretty new, I think. She’s only had that sweatshirt for a few months. I bought it for her for her birthday last spring and she wouldn’t have worn it over the summer. So it had to have been taken last spring or this fall.”
He nodded without looking up at me. He was still looking at the e-mail, tapping the down arrow as he scanned through it. His cell rang then and he grabbed it up and said, “Yeah”.
He pulled out his notebook and started writing down notes on it in some sort of undecipherable form of shorthand. As he took the notes, he mumbled ‘Um hm’ a couple of times and then said thanks before closing the phone.
Ryan was reading some message on his cell, and I didn’t know whether or not it had anything to do with what was going on, but I thought it might not have because he was smiling a bit. He punched in an answer and hit the send button; his phone made a little chirping tone before he closed it. Little Elk looked at him with a bit of annoyance but said nothing.
“Okay folks, here’s the story. This is from a cell as we thought. The phone is not a disposable type, but it was reported stolen last night. The picture was sent to it from an e-mail address, which they are trying to chase. Then the picture was sent back to Sarah’s e-mail. It all makes quite a path to follow. The phone itself has a GPS locator, but it isn’t being picked up, which could only mean that it has been destroyed. However, the e-mail was sent through a Dallas satellite connection.”
“Couldn’t the phone just be turned off?” I asked.
“No, we would still be able to find it if that were the case. It emits the GPS signal even if the battery is dead as well. No, I’m afraid the phone has probably been destroyed. But we probably wouldn’t have gotten any real information from it. It does appear to be a legitimate theft. The woman who owned it reported that it was stolen from her car when she went into a convenience store. It was charging, and she left her doors unlocked. It was all someone needed. They grabbed it and ran. We are checking with a couple of witnesses to see if they can give us a description or if the video system picked up anything.”
Adam was sitting next to me on the couch with his lips pursed as he thought about everything. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that he was so quiet. As for myself, I didn’t know what to say. It just looked like another dead end.
And here I was an hour ago thinking about how great it was that it had been so quiet.
I was worried about Lissa; just the fact that they had taken her picture. That meant that someone was there in Lawrence, had been close enough to take that picture. It gave me the shivers just thinking about it.
But there didn’t seem to be any connection between Lissa and the poem. Except for the fact that sugar and spice can refer to girls and Lissa was a girl, my daughter, and it mentions daughters?
It started to make sense now, maybe.
“Adam,” I began, afraid at what was going to happen when I spoke my next words. “Adam, I – I think you must have a daughter.”
Well, he didn’t faint or have a stroke, I thought with relief, but he didn’t look very good either.
“Adam, honey, are you okay?” I asked him, waiting for some kind of response.
Little Elk and Ryan looked shocked, and both were skewering Adam with the intensity of their gazes. Little Elk recovered first and starting tapping his pen up and down on his tablet in the way I have often seen smokers do with their cigarettes; it made me wonder if he had smoked at some time.
Adam sat wordless on the couch, staring into some internal movie perhaps, playing back memories for a clue. He finally spoke to me, shaking his head. ”Sarah, I would have known something like that, I would. And I was very careful, really I was. No, that can’t be.”
“It’s the only thing that makes sense, Adam. While each poem hasn’t made much sense on its own, they seem to have been telling a story; think about it. And this one talks about daughters. I think the picture of Lissa is an example of a daughter, as opposed to her being threatened. It’s talking about what a father has done that has, has hurt a daughter. I don’t think they are referring to Randy. It has to be you, Adam, and it has to mean you had a daughter sometime, whether you knew it or not.”
Ryan stood up suddenly and started pacing around the room. When he got near the fireplace he turned to face us and said, “I think she is right, Adam. It makes sense. And I bet that Rachel found out about it. That’s why she was murdered. Adam, could Rachel have had a daughter by you?”
“NO! I worked with her a few months after we broke up and she was not pregnant, I assure you.” Adam leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees. He laid his head in his hands and rubbed his face before dragging his hands through his hair. He tried vainly to smooth it back into place and looked up at me. “Sarah, I would never have abandoned a child, you know that!”
“Adam, suppose you didn’t know about that child?”
“No, I can’t believe someone, any of the women I was involved with, wouldn’t tell me something like that. I would have supported that child, been a part of their life. No, I can’t believe it, Sarah, you have to be wrong!”
“Adam, for whatever reason she must not have wanted that. I – I don’t know why, what the reason could be. Adam, could it have been Penny?”
“She didn’t want children, Sarah, she took birth control pills. She always said she had too much trouble taking care of herself, that it would have been a huge mistake to throw a child into that. We talked about kids; she knew that I eventually wanted kids; she would have been more likely to have it and leave it with me before disappearing. No, it wasn’t Penny,” he told us, shaking his head emphatically.
“What about the other women of your past, Adam?” Ryan asked. “I think that Sarah is right, that poem meant you have a daughter.”
“I don’t know, I’ll have to think about who they were.”
“Mr. Richland, see if you can come up with a list for us, and we can try investigating for you. I agree with Ms. Marcus as well. It does make sense, and frankly, not a lot about all this does.” Little Elk made a few more notes in his notebook before flipping it shut and heading toward the front door. “Try to work on that list soon, Mr. Richland; just give it to Ryan when you have it. And Ms. Marcus, take care of this young hothead here. It seems he really likes a particular young lady on that set. Can’t have him traipsing off to Hollywood after her! And Ryan, say ‘hi’ to Delia for me.” I detected a slight sparkle in his eye as he said that, and I realized how much he cared about Ryan.
“I will indeed take good care of him. He will eat well, if nothing else!” I laughed.
“So I hear,” he said dryly, and then he left, closing the door after him.
The three of us looked around at each other; none of us knew what to think or say. But it was late and we all needed some sleep, and I suggested that we should try to get it. Neither of them offered protests to that and we all made our way to bed, but I was sure that the morning would reveal dark circles under each of our eyes from lack of sleep.
And I was right.
All our luggage was packed into the car because we would leave for the airport directly from the set this afternoon. There was only one scene to film this morning, but it had had a complete rewrite on it, and they all had problems with the lines. Lyle was frustrated, as were Adam, Paul, and Maria Phipps, who played the grandmother and was in the scene as well. I had only met her once before on the set, and she seemed a very nice lady.
She had been in dozens of movies, always playing supporting characters and doing that remarkably well. She had won two Academy Awards in her 40-year career, and it was a pleasure to meet her and watch her work. I knew that Adam and Paul both respected her a great deal too.
The scene was a complicated one due to Rachel’s death, because she had played an integral part in it. They had already shot it twice before, each time changing it, and with the way today was going it seemed likely that it would be rewritten again. So frustrations were high, and that always increases problems; today was not going well at all.
Everyone but the writers and Lyle were on a break as they tried to do something different still with the scene, and we were sitting at the table in Adam’s dressing room. We hadn’t talked about last night yet; there really hadn’t been much time, and it was all Adam could do to try to stay focused on the scene.
Ryan and Krista came in and asked if we would like something to drink or eat. I asked for a diet Coke and Adam nodded his head for that as well, and they went off to get them.
“He is crazy about her, isn’t he?” Adam asked as he watched them leave.
“Yep, I think he is. I hope he won’t get hurt. She’s going back to UCLA when this movie is done.”
“Doesn’t mean that they couldn’t make it work, though. I guess it would depend on how determined they are,” he mused.
“Maybe. I wish I knew how she felt about him, though. She’s a lot harder to read than Ryan is. She keeps a lot to herself,” I said, thinking about Krista. In some ways she reminded me of, well, me. Afraid to put too much out there for fear of what would happen. She hadn’t realized yet that sometimes something wonderful can happen when you do open yourself up. And I hoped she did learn that soon, for Ryan’s sake.
They came back in a couple of minutes later, carrying a tray with cans of diet Coke and mini muffins. I realized that neither Adam nor I had eaten anything yet today and it was 10:30 already. I looked at the little chocolate mini muffins that normally tempted Adam beyond control, and today he didn’t even blink at them. I picked one up and peeled the paper off of it and sat it down in front of him. He looked up at me blankly, and I pointed to it and commanded, “EAT!”
He reached out and grabbed a blueberry one and peeled it and sat it before me and commanded “EAT!” I laughed and picked it up and took a bite and discovered it did taste good; I was hungry. I quirked an eyebrow at him when he didn’t immediately pick his up, but he finally did and took a bite. I swear it looked like he was going to choke on it, but he got it down.
Krista and Ryan were sitting on the couch, and I heard Ryan ask her about her father, which sort of surprised me. I listened while trying not to be too nosy as they talked about it. She said pretty much the same thing to him that she had to Adam and me.
“Do you remember him at all?” Ryan asked her gently.
“Nooo, not really. I have a picture of him. Well, two actually. One was taken before I was born; it was my mother’s. The other one was taken when I was almost 4 and he came to Texas. Grandpa took a picture of him and me together,” she told him, so softly it was hard to hear her. “It’s stupid, but I carry both of them with me.”
“Can I see it?” Ryan probed. “I’d like to see what you looked like at 4 years old!”
“Sure, sure. I’ll get it.” She left the room and time stood still for all three of us. Evidently Ryan had been wondering about the same thing I had been.
She came back in with her purse and pulled her wallet out and found the pictures. I wandered over and said “Can I see too, Krista?”
She nodded, her eyes dark and fathomless. Ryan looked at the picture and then handed it to me. It showed a young man with long dark blond hair, blowing slightly in a breeze from a long ago windy afternoon. The sky was intensely blue behind him. He wore a ragged tee shirt that said “Journey Tour 1983” on it. “What was his name, Krista?” Ryan asked.
“Brandon Marshall.” She pulled the other picture out and Ryan studied it for a long moment before handing it to me with a hand that was a bit unsteady, and when I caught his eyes, they were wide and unblinking.
It showed the same young man, his hair a bit shorter and now with a neatly trimmed goatee. He stared unsmilingly into the camera, and a little girl stood next to him, dressed in a little pink sundress and white patent leather shoes with big pink daisies on them.
But it was the face of the little girl that intrigued us. It looked exactly like Geoff’s.
Happy Birthday Tigger!!!
Let's have a party! Everyone join in the fun. Let's start with some cake!!!
Copyright 2006 Cynthia Hope Hodge