Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What My Heart Desires




Epilogue - Journeys End
It had been seven days since that terrifying day at Juliet’s castle, when so much had happened.

Tamara and Mark were here, but the boys weren’t. My parents and Lissa didn’t have passports and couldn’t come, but Derek was here, and surprisingly so were Cassie and Georgio. It was less than a week until Christmas and I only wanted to go home, but there were still so many things to take care of.

I stood on the balcony in the hotel room, such a lonely room. I heard a knock on the door, so I stepped back inside and closed the doors behind me with a firm ‘click’.

I opened the door to the hotel room, and Cassie and Georgio stood there. I fell into Cassie’s arms but couldn’t find any tears left to cry. I had done all the crying I was going to do. I was putting it all in the past behind me and could only take one day at a time, like Adam and I had once promised each other. That day seemed like such a long time ago.

“Are you ready, Sarah?” Georgio asked softly, and I nodded.

“Yes, I am ready. Let’s go.” I grabbed my purse and my coat and closed the hotel room door behind me and locked it. From this day forward, life was going to be different.

 



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I remembered back to that day at the castle, memories that would never leave me. I think I drifted in and out of consciousness for a few minutes after I crawled over to Krista. I tried to shake her to see if I could wake her, but then I was afraid to try to move her because what if she had a spinal injury? I lay there next to her on the snowy ground and tried to focus on what was happening up on the ramparts.

I heard people yelling, lots of voices, and one even seemed vaguely familiar, but it wasn’t Adam’s so I didn’t really care. I remembered the blood staining his side and then him yelling out again and falling where I couldn’t see him. I tried to call out to them up there, but my voice was barely audible to me; they would never hear it.

I could see my breath, but strangely enough I wasn’t cold anymore. Didn’t they say that’s what happened when you succumb to hypothermia: you just became numb? Nothing wrong with this feeling, I decided; it beat the hell out of pain.

I thought I heard my name and Krista’s being called, but I couldn’t seem to open my eyes to see who it was. I thought about Krista and the blood that was leaking out of her body. Didn’t I remember someone saying that as long as blood is leaking you aren’t dead? I wondered if I could pull myself up and look over her to see if there was more blood, but I knew I couldn’t.

Yes, Krista and the blood trailing from her neck. Suddenly I remembered that dream I had back in Kansas, after I had gotten out of the hospital after the car wreck. A red scarf had floated down and fallen on snowy ground. Amazing that I had such a prophetic dream, and so unlike me.

The next thing I knew, I felt someone shaking me and calling my name. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Ryan. He was trying to rouse Krista too, and I wanted to say, ‘see if she is still bleeding’ but I couldn’t remember the words.

“Sarah, are you okay? Can you move?” I opened my eyes again and saw Ryan staring into them. “C’mon Sarah, you’re tough, remember? Talk to me, dammit!”

I was aware that he had thrown a blanket or something over me, and I wondered if I were dead. Could I still see him if I were dead? Maybe this was an out-of-body experience and I should look for a light? Would Adam be waiting for me like in the movies?

I saw other people come running around the castle with big boards. They were trying to move Krista onto one of them, and I tried to tell them to be careful of the scarf, but they didn’t seem to pay any attention to me. I felt someone running their hands up and down my legs and arms and trying to feel the back of my neck as well.

“Sarah,” I heard Ryan again. “Can you move; do you think anything is broken?”

I tried to tell him my heart was broken, but again I couldn’t seem to get the words out. I tried to look up at the hole in the rampart but I couldn’t see anything at all. ‘Adam!’ my heart cried out.

I heard someone saying, “uno, due, tre” and then I was lifted up and put on a board and I felt myself being lifted up high. Or maybe I was floating, I wasn’t sure. I only knew I wasn’t feeling any pain, and that couldn’t be good, could it?

The next time I remembered anything I was in an ambulance and my arms, legs, fingers, feet, everything felt as if it was on fire. I definitely decided I liked the numbness better. They were taking my blood pressure, and I heard a siren. I didn’t see anyone I knew with me and they were all speaking Italian, and I just didn’t remember enough to understand them.

“Adam, is Adam all right?” I asked, but no one answered me.

 



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I awoke for the second time in my life to the sounds of machines beeping and a blood pressure cuff squeezing the heck out of my arm. It was twice too many times.

I immediately thought of Adam and called out for him before opening my eyes. I couldn’t bear the thought of opening my eyes and not seeing Adam; instead when I finally managed to make them open, I saw Derek and Ryan standing by my bed.

“Adam,” I tried to say again. My voice was weak and raspy, and it tore at my throat to speak, but I had to know.

Derek grabbed my hand and squeezed it. Oh God, they are going to tell me he’s dead. Tears immediately sprang from my eyes; my heart was breaking.

“Mom, Mom, it’s all right. He’s alive, okay? He’s hurt pretty badly, but he’ll live; he will.”

I could only nod gratefully at him and Ryan. “I’m thirsty,” I managed to get out, and Ryan reached for a cup with a straw in it and held it close to me so I could take a sip.

I took a small sip and let the tepid water slide slowly down my throat. It felt wonderful. I wanted to ask about Krista, but I was scared. It seemed to me that if Krista were alive Ryan would have been in her room, not mine. But I had to ask.

“Krista? How is sh – she?” I stammered, the words catching in my throat.

Ryan looked at me and smiled a tiny smile. “She’s alive, Sarah. She’s also hurt very badly, and she’s in surgery right now. We, uh, we have hope that she will be okay.”

I nodded gratefully and tried to smile again. And then I fell into a peaceful sleep.

 



*******************

 



I opened my eyes to sunlight streaming in through open blinds. Cassie, Georgio, and Derek were all there in the room, and my heart opened, filled with the love for these people.




Cassie stood up and walked slowly over to the bed to sit on the side of it. “Well, sleeping beauty, we weren’t sure you were ever going to wake up. I gotta tell you, every time you get yourself thrown into a hospital you use it as an excuse to sleep around the clock. Lazy, you were always a lazy girl!” she chided, and then she leaned down and kissed my forehead and touched my cheek with her warm fingers. “Welcome back, Sarah!”

I tried moving my body and everything seemed to be functioning, although I was pretty stiff. I grimaced as I flexed my legs; I could feel stitches pulling at the tender flesh of my leg. I wondered how many I had.

Georgio stepped up to the bed and asked, “Is everything moving properly?” and then he smiled at me. He had a dazzling smile, and I suddenly understood Cassie’s interest in him. What a bedside manner!

“Yeah, but it all hurts!”

“Well, that’s what happens when you fall 22’ off a castle wall, you know. If you think you are hurting you should see the bush that broke your fall. Gone; completely destroyed!” Cassie laughed.

But I couldn’t laugh; the memory was still too painful. Derek was sitting on the other side of my bed, and he looked so tired. I wondered how long I had been here and how he had gotten here so quickly.

“Uh, how long have I been in here?”





“Not quite two days, Mom. Really, you are going to be fine. Nothing is broken, but you have several really nasty gashes along your legs from the bush and lots of stitches; but it was good you landed in it; it probably kept you from having several broken bones.”

“When did you all get here?” I asked.

“I got here 9 hours after it happened, Mom. Ryan called us all immediately, and since I’m the only one of the family that has a passport, I’m the one that got to come. The Red Cross got me transport on a military flight direct to Aviano and then I caught the bus down here. I’m staying at the casern, so it’s all okay. Yesterday when you woke up I had only been here a couple of hours.”

“And Georgio and I got here very early this morning. He’s been driving the Italian doctors crazy asking for updates, and he has been over here constantly looking at all these machine readings. It’s one of his more endearing qualities,” she told me, and her face showed so much love and pride that I immediately felt happy for her.

“Can we sit this bed up a bit, do you think, Georgio, or should I call you Dr. Gorman here?”

“No, Georgio will do fine; I have no privileges here at this hospital. I do think it will be okay to raise the bed, but if it starts to hurt, you will have to stop it, okay?” I loved Georgio’s voice; it was soft and soothing, and the timbre was calming to your senses; it just inspired confidence.





I nodded and pushed the button and the head of the bed started to rise slowly. I lay back and let it go until I was nearly fully upright and then stopped it, not because anything hurt, it was just enough. “Seems to feel fine. And I’m thirsty too. I’m in an Italian hospital, think they’ll let me have some wine?” I tried to joke.

And then serious thoughts took over and I asked about Adam and Krista again, waiting breathlessly to hear how they were. That they were both still alive.

Georgio stood with his hands resting on Cassie’s shoulders and when neither Derek nor Cassie started to speak, he took that as his cue. “Adam is doing better, Sarah. He was shot twice by Sunni, once in the liver and once in the leg. The bullet to his leg passed through with no problems, but the one that hit his liver has been a major concern. They had to do surgery to remove that bullet and they also had to remove a very small part of his liver.” At my gasp of in-drawn breath he held up his hand and then continued. “People can very easily live like that. In fact, the liver is one of the organs that can sometimes regenerate to a certain degree in a healthy body, and Adam is very healthy. Right now his major problem is an infection, and they have him on intravenous antibiotics to make him better. He is still unconscious a lot of the time, though. And he is extremely worried about you when he is awake, so as soon as you are able we are getting you up there to see him. That will be the very best medicine for him, I think.”

I let a long deep breath out and smiled. I felt a tear trickle down my cheek, but I didn’t care. I was ready to go now and told them so.

“Not so fast, Sarah. They have to remove your catheter and get you walking a bit, okay? Now Krista is a little bit different. The bullet entered her neck, very close to the jugular vein, but it did miss it. A fraction of an inch closer and she would have bled out almost immediately. The fall did the most damage, really. It shattered several ribs, which in turn punctured her left lung and seriously bruised her heart. Her pelvis is also shattered into 7 pieces. They did surgery on her pelvis and reinforced it with, uh basically a plastic appliance, very similar to a joint replacement. She will never be able to have children naturally; it will only be by C-section. That replacement will not give as bone would. And it has to remain very still to heal properly, hence the cast in order for it to set into place correctly. They also had to do surgery on her broken ribs. The damage to her lung was repaired and the damage to her heart will likely heal itself in time. She is also fighting infection around her heart, but that is to be expected. She is very lucky, Sarah.”

There was a light knock on my door and Tamara and Mark walked in. As soon as they saw I was sitting up they both broke into smiles and tears started to seep from Tamara’s eyes. Derek got up so that Tamara could sit down next to me. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.





“Sarah, how do you feel?” she asked, digging through her purse for a Kleenex. Mark reached out and lightly touched my arm as if afraid he might hurt me.

“I’m feeling remarkably well, really. Are the boys here?”

“No, they are staying with Aidan and Sylvia while we are here. But they send you their love and can’t wait to talk to you on the phone!”

“When did you get here?”

“Very late last night. We’re checked into the hotel where you and Adam are staying.”

I nodded, thinking about that. “Have you seen him?”

“Yes, we have. He is going to be okay. He certainly looks a little ragged, but not too much the worse for wear, I must admit. Definitely not the glamorous movie star right now, though. He calls for you a lot, about as much as you have been calling for him, I hear.” She smiled at me then, and I returned that smile and looked around me at all these people in my room. I felt so much love and gratitude, not only that they were here but that they all cared enough to be here. And that gave me a lot to think about.

“You heard about Krista?” I asked wondering how they would feel about it. The boys had a big sister now, besides Lissa and Pam.

“Yes, we have. We are very happy about it, and so are the boys. They can’t wait to meet her. And by the way, Vivian, Gerald, and Angelica will be here in two days. They are all anxious not only to see Adam and you, but to meet Krista as well. One of the very nicest things about the Richland family is that they are so supportive and caring, Sarah. Oh, the Red Cross is trying to get a special visa clearance, uh, emergency status for your parents and Lissa to come over here. The American consul is working on it too.”

A man who turned out to be my doctor came in and tsk – tsk’d over so many people in my room and shooed them all out so he could examine me. I asked that Georgio be allowed to stay with me and the doctor agreed. He spoke a little English thankfully, and it turned out that Georgio spoke Italian fluently.

“And how are you feeling, Signora Marcus?” he asked while checking out the readings on the monitors.

“I’m thirsty, but I’m feeling pretty good, I think. I feel stiff and sore, but that will get better when I can start moving around. When can I do that?” I asked hopefully.

“Ah, I think the signora is concerned about her amor, si? You wish to see him quickly, eh? Well, he needs to see you as well. I believe that love, ah, amore is the best healer possible. Can you sit up on the edge of the bed for me?”

“Gladly, if it will get me in to see Adam,” I mumbled, trying to gingerly scoot across the bed while the catheter was in. “Uh, you know it would be a lot easier if this thing was gone,” I said, pointing to the offending tube.

“Si, si. Very soon, I promise. Good, now, do you think you can stand up?”

“Doctor, I could run a mile right now if it would get me to Adam. Stand back!”

I stood up and waited to see if I felt light-headed or anything, but I felt fine. I even shuffled a couple of steps and still felt fine. Actually, it really did feel better to be out of the bed.

“Ah, bene, bene,” he told me. “Yes, you are doing very good indeed. Are you hungry, besides being thirsty?”

“Yes; apparently I’ve hung around the Richlands too long. I’m definitely hungry. Doctor, can you tell me if Italian hospital food is any better than American?” It was a feeble attempt at a joke.

He gave me a puzzled look and wrote something on my chart. “Yes, the food will be delicious. Are you in much pain; do you need something for that?”

“No, I need to see Adam,” I stated simply. “Please.”

“Yes, signora, very quickly, I promise you. Oh, you will be glad to know that this fall did not trigger any further head trauma. That is just fine. Now, I see your eyes flashing brilliantly at me; I think that is impatience to see your amor, so I will quickly send in a nurse to remove the catheter, and I will also order a meal for you. But you need not wait that long to see him; as soon as the catheter is out you may go, si?”

“Yes, oh thank you, doctor, mille grazie!” I saw his eyes spark brightly, and he reached out and took my hand and stared at me in that very intense way that Italian men seem to have.

“You amor is as anxious to see you, signora. We have had to threaten to uh, how you say, rope him up to keep him in his bed! Ah, amore, amore…”

I gingerly sat back down on the side of the bed as Georgio stood attentively by. I grinned at him and said, “You can go and tell them all, okay? And make sure that nurse hurries up or I’m gonna perform a – a catheter-ectomy all on my own!”

“I’ll let them know.” He smiled brightly and lightly squeezed my shoulder before leaving the room.

Cassie and Tamara came back into the room a minute later. Cass was laughing, “A catheter-ectomy? Oh my gosh, girl, you are too much. Adam isn’t going anywhere, we promise!”

“Don’t let any of them tell him I’m coming, okay? Please?” I asked. Tamara nodded and went out to speak to the men.

“Cass, I can’t believe you and Georgio came over here. Are you doing all right? It hasn’t been too much for you, has it?”

“Nah. I mean, I get tired, but Georgio is the cutest watchdog I’ve ever had. It’s not exactly the way I pictured seeing Italy, but at least I’m here. I will finally get to see some of these places you have always talked about, do you realize that?” I saw her eyes sparkle brightly at that prospect, and I couldn’t wait to hear what she thought about it all.

“Yeah. Oh Cass, I can’t wait for you to see it all. And it’s pretty good for boosting romance a bit too!” I teased.

She blushed brightly and commented under her breath, “We uh, haven’t done that yet, Sarah. He seems to think we need to wait until I’m uh, better. But geez, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out, Sarah, it’s like I have a perpetual fever around him, you know?”

“I do indeed, Cassie!” and just then a nurse came in pulling a cart with her. “Yay!” I exclaimed.

“Do you want me to leave, Sarah?” Cass asked.

“Hell no, stay and help me celebrate! Okay,” I told the nurse as I laid back on the bed, “Pull it out!”

“Si, signora. Now take a deep breath for me and then blow it out hard when I tell you.”

And just like that it was done, and I felt so good. She helped me clean up a bit, and I put a clean gown and robe on and then I was ready to go see Adam!

On the way up to Adam’s room my heart pounded ridiculously. I couldn’t wait to see him, and I felt scared at the same time. Thank God it wasn’t a long journey; soon we were in front of the door into his room and Mark opened it and Tamara pushed me in and then they left.

He was sleeping, which gave me a few minutes to look at him. I stood up so that I could stand next to his bed; I wanted to see him better. He was deathly pale, which was to be expected I guess, but he looked okay otherwise. His eyes were closed, and I looked at his long, dark, and curly lashes that rested against his cheeks. He seemed so vulnerable right now, lying there in this hospital bed. His curls were sticking up all over his head, and I reached up to smooth them down with trembling fingers.

I ran my hand tenderly though his unruly hair with a very unsteady hand, his curls catching softly as they twined about my fingers. It was funny; it was a gesture I had done a hundred times, but it had never meant as much to me as it did now. This was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I wanted him to be safe, to be okay. I wanted to lift the pain and hurt away from him, I thought as I looked at him.

He opened his eyes when he felt my hand, and then he caught my hand and brought it to his lips. “Sarah, love,” he said quietly. But his eyes told me so much, how much I meant to him, how happy he was I was there. His voice sounded raspy, as they tend to do when you haven’t used them much.

I leaned over and kissed his lips lightly. They felt dry, but to me nothing had ever felt better. “Oh Adam, I thought I had lost you!” I told him, trying in vain to hold back my tears.

“Couldn’t happen, love. Don’t you know we are destined to be together? I knew it the first day I saw you at Monte Berico.”

I nodded and said, “Yes, I know. Oh, I do know, Adam, I want to always be with you.”

He was quiet for a minute, and I almost thought he had fallen back asleep he was so quiet. “Krista – she is really my daughter?” he asked, and I could see how much the answer meant to him.

“Yes,” I said. “And if she hadn’t come to find me you might not have survived, Adam. She never did anything to try to hurt you. Do you realize that?”

He nodded and then asked, “Does she want me, I mean, in her life?”

“Yes, she certainly does. That’s why she was on the movie, Adam; she wanted to get to know you.”

“All those years, I would have loved her, cared for her, Sarah.”

“I know, Adam, I know. But you have the chance to get to know her now.”

He smiled just a little, but I could tell he was still tired and after a few minutes I realized he was sleeping. I lightly kissed him again and then walked over to the door and opened it.

I had a crowd waiting out there: Derek, Mark, Tamara, Cass, Georgio, and Ryan. Ryan came over to me and kissed me on the cheek and smiled. “Hey, Sarah, how are you? Better now, hm?”

“Yeah, so much better. How is Krista? Can I see her too?” I asked.

“Yes, if you feel like it, I guess. Come on, she’s just down the hall. This is the surgical recovery floor,” he informed me as we walked the short distance to her room. Cassie was behind me nagging me and reminding me that I was supposed to be in the wheelchair. Georgio had gone back into Adam’s room to retrieve it and Cassie was standing next to it expectantly.

“God Cass, you are worse than Mom!” I said, annoyed with her.

“Okay, all I’m saying is when you are worse later because you overdid it, don’t complain to me. That’s all I’m saying!”

“Cassandra Elaine!”

“Sarah Denise!”

And that was all it took to break the tension, and we both laughed. Ryan had stopped in front of another door and pushed it open. I could see Krista in the bed, and her eyes were open; she was smiling at me.

I went to her and pushed her hair out of her face and kissed her forehead. “Hey there, kiddo, how are you?”

“I’m okay, Sarah; I’m going to be okay.” She smiled through a few tears, and I realized I was doing the same thing.

“Ryan said you just saw Adam?”

“Yes. He’ll be fine, Krista, just like you.”

We chatted for a few minutes, but when the conversation changed and she repeatedly told me she was sorry, I had to tell her to stop it.

“Krista, you have nothing to apologize for; if you hadn’t come to me Adam would probably be dead. You did the right thing, truly. Don’t be sorry about any of it, okay?”

“Is – is he upset about me? About me being his uh, daughter?” she asked so softly that I had to lean over to hear her. Her eyes were huge and brimming with more tears, just waiting to escape. And I could see how afraid she was, fear of rejection yet again.

“Krista, he isn’t upset about that at all. Only that he never had a chance to watch you grow up and be a part of your life. You two will have a chance to talk about it all soon and it will be fine. You didn’t have him in your life before, but I can guarantee you will now, okay?”

She nodded again, and I wiped the last of her tears away from her pale face and then kissed her again in preparation to leaving. As I got to the door, I turned to her and said, “By the way, the boys say they can’t wait to meet their big sister!” and then I left the room. Ryan went to her, and I hoped that he comforted her because she was precious and she deserved it.

Tamara and Mark were in with Adam, so it was only Derek, Cassie, and Georgio that made the trip back down to my room with me. When I got there they had just delivered lunch, and I eagerly sat down to eat it, only to be sorely disgusted by it. Do they send hospital cooks from all over the world to the same culinary school, the School of No Taste? Ugh! But I ate it because I knew if I didn’t someone would say something like ‘you must not be feeling well.’

It made me doubly determined to get Adam back on his feet quickly. I missed his cooking!

 



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Cassie had already thought to bring me some street clothes and one of my own nightgowns, so I took a shower and then crawled into bed for a nap. Cassie and Georgio went back to the hotel so she could rest, and Derek went to make calls home. He had my cell with the international service on it, so I settled down to sleep. It was late afternoon when I woke up, and I realized I had heard a light knock on the door.

“Come in,” I called out, and the door opened and in walked Lyle, carrying a huge bouquet of pale pink roses.





“Hi Sarah, I just wanted to stop in and see how you were. Ryan told us you were awake and up.” His eyes raked over my face and he nodded slightly. “You look okay. How do you feel?”

“I feel pretty good. Can I smell the roses, please?” I asked, and he brought them over to the table next to the bed. I pushed the button to raise the head up and then bent to inhale the aroma of the roses. “Oh Lyle, they smell wonderful! Thank you so much.”

He only stayed for a few minutes, and I didn’t ask about the movie. At this point I didn’t give a damn about it. The chat was all light and impersonal, and I can’t say that I was sorry to see him go.

I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and put my robe on. I was going to see Adam and no one was going to stop me! Derek was just outside the door and looked at me when I opened it. Frustration streaked his features and he said, “I suppose we are going to see Adam?” and then he laughed. When I only scowled at him he said, “Okay, let me get the wheelchair!” and off we went to Adam’s room.

My earlier visit had seemed to improve him tremendously, and I spent the next 3 hours there; we even ate our dinner together. I can’t say that eating with the man I love improved the food any, but at least we were together.

“I have to get you back on your feet soon, Adam.” I told him, holding a spoon of some tasteless minestrone to his lips. He winced as he took the bite, and it wasn’t because it was hot.

“Yes, Bella. But why in particular?”

“Because I can’t stand this hospital food. It’s disgusting!” I declared with a grimace and then a laugh.

The look on his face told me that he agreed. I tried to get the hospital to move a cot in there for me, but they wouldn’t; some silly rule about all patients being in their assigned beds. Ridiculous, I thought.

We chatted more about Krista and he wanted to go and see her very badly, but they wouldn’t let him get up yet. He had almost two decades of her life to catch up on, and he was anxious to get started.

“Ryan is serious about her, isn’t he?” he asked, a frown furrowing his handsome forehead.

I laughed and said, “I think so. You’ll have to ask him. So, are you going to make him ask your permission?” I teased.

“Well, I don’t think that is such a bad thing, do you? After all, your father gave me permission to marry you, even if it was on TV,” he said, a small smile playing across his face.

“This is all going to be interesting, I think,” I told him with a laugh.

“We need bigger houses, I think, with all the kids now,” he told me, apparently serious. I laughed to think that he was already planning that far ahead.

“I’m not giving up the house in California for anything, buddy, so don’t even think about it.”

“But Sarah, it isn’t practical now. When they all come to visit where will we put them?” he asked.

“We’ll figure it all out later, Adam; we have lots of time. Now you have to just get better so we can get on with our lives!”

I must be some kind of miracle worker because Adam sat up for the first time that evening.

 



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I went home, well to the hotel, two days later. It mattered little because I spent all my time at the hospital anyway. Vivian, Gerald, and Angelica arrived the day I went home and we got word that Mom and Dad and Lissa had been granted special Visa status to come over. They were coming through military channels thanks to the Commander of SETAF at Caserma Ederle, and they would be here tomorrow. And Aidan and Sylvia were bringing the boys over. We managed to get rooms for everyone here at the hotel; it was expensive, but I hardly thought about it. Adam was apparently wearing off on me.




It was wonderful to see Vivian and Gerald again. Vivian came to me and wrapped her arms around me for a warm hug and it felt wonderful, as if she already regarded me as part of the Richland family. I was a little nervous about meeting Angelica. The way Adam talked about her she had almost taken on some kind of god-like status, but she was very nice; just like the rest of the family, in fact. I had several long chats with her and learned all about her world and the work she did. She also told me all about Dumonde and their upcoming wedding.





“I do hope Adam will be up to the trip. It is a very arduous journey to get to Dumonde’s house,” she told me. Her voice almost had more of a French accent to it as opposed to British. I wondered if that was because of where she lived.

“Adam has told me quite a bit about it; he tells me Africa is breathtakingly beautiful. I am excited to see it.”

“Yes, he always found it so, even as a child. But it was often heartbreaking for him; he couldn’t handle the death and pain. Our Adam is much too tender-hearted to easily stand it. The African world was devastating to him; Africa is a world that will not easily change its face, regardless of how much civilization tries to force it to. But the successes make the failures worth it all, Sarah, and every person I help I consider a success. Just surviving there is a triumph; over the land, the culture, and the burden of thousands of years of misery and poverty. Adam felt ineffectual, and he cannot handle that. I am sure you have noticed that he must always be helpful, and there was nothing he could do in Africa, as he had no medical inclinations.” She leaned over and squeezed my hand and added, “But his money helps very much indeed!” I couldn’t help but notice the twinkle in her eyes.

Angelica more closely resembled Vivian than Gerald, but she still possessed the family gift of charm, I thought. I liked her very much.

When my family was all here it was almost like being in California again. It seemed that we would all be here for Christmas, and I was delighted about it. No one had shopped, but it didn’t matter at all. The gift was that we were all here and together.

 



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One morning Ryan came to talk to me. I knew he had wanted to for a day or so, and I supposed it was some kind of official business. I dreaded whatever it was, but it was best to get it over with.

“Okay Ryan, tell me it all,” I said, deciding to take the bull by the horns.





He smiled and said, “That’s the Sarah I know, straight and to the point. Okay, here goes. Little Elk had managed to get some information on Curtis Keaton. When he investigated Krista’s grandparents he found out their name was Keaton, and he connected the overly curious Mr. Keaton to the whole mess. He used to be a Dallas police officer but then left the force after some serious mental issues. And we also found out that he was in Italy, had entered 3 days prior to the arrival of the cast and crew. As Little Elk’s people talked to neighbors, Patty Richards’ name came up, aka Sunni. She had been married briefly and kept her married name. So we knew they were involved in it all. And then you called with the message on the last note and it all sort of fell into place. I was at the police station and we were getting ready to bring them in when I started trying to reach you, and we became worried that we couldn’t find you.

“Sunni was killed in the rescue. We caught Curtis out by the car; he had come to investigate it,” he told me. I nodded, remembering that.

Ryan continued, “We found you because of Krista’s phone. You had gone off and left your phone at the hotel room. Sarah, I swear I could have strangled you when I found you were missing and didn’t have it with you. For gosh sakes, you knew all about GPS trackers! Then I went hunting for Krista to see if she knew where you were, but I couldn’t find her either. I tried her phone repeatedly, but it kept going to voice mail. I have to admit that I thought at that point that Krista was in on the whole thing as well, and I felt sick about it. After a little bit we tracked her phone through GPS and found the car. When we got up to the top of the hill, we saw Curtis and grabbed him. He immediately started talking, telling us everything. When we got to the top of the castle, Adam had been shot and you and Krista weren’t there. At that point I thought you were down in some dungeon or something.”

He took a drink of his foamy cappuccino. I had noticed he drank a lot of it here and I didn’t blame him; it was delicious. “Actually, I was thrilled that Krista wasn’t with Sunni, but it didn’t look good that we couldn’t find you both. Sunni had been shot and died almost immediately, so we got no help from her. Curtis talked about everything but you and Krista and said he didn’t know where you were. He probably didn’t, hadn’t been aware you had both fallen over the rampart. And he was confused as well after telling his story to us; in reality we didn’t know how much of what he told us was real or not.” Ryan sighed, and I saw a far-off look in his eyes, as if he was remembering that morning.

“The ambulance got there soon and started working on Adam. Some of the Italian police were searching the castle for you and Krista, and they came back without locating you. And then Adam regained consciousness long enough to tell us you had both fallen over the wall. We hadn’t looked there, and I have to tell you, my heart stopped as I looked over the side at you two. I was scared to death that you were both dead. I tore out of the castle at a dead run to get to you. They immediately called for more ambulances and I tried to rouse both of you. Krista was completely unconscious, but you seemed semi-awake. You didn’t really say anything helpful, something about a red scarf and seeing lights. But you were okay.”

He reached over and clasped my hand tightly and added, “Thank God you were okay. Curtis told us the whole story, how Sunni had planned this for years; it sounded like she was out of her mind.”

I nodded and told him what all she had told us up on the ramparts. “She was crazy, Ryan. She kept thinking that Adam was Brandon.”

“Yeah, we got that much from Curtis. He is being extradited back to Texas. I don’t think he was actually the one who murdered Rachel, but he was certainly an accessory. So, do you have any other questions?”

“No, I’m just glad it’s all over. I want to go home, Ryan, home with Adam, and live happily ever after. That’s all,” I told him with a shrug.

 



*******************
 



So here I was, going to the hospital with Cassie and Georgio to pick up Adam. All our family was here and there was a party planned later. I was sorry that Ryan and Krista had to miss it, but the extradition papers had come through on Curtis and Ryan had to accompany him back to Texas. But he would be back here in a couple of days; Krista was still here, and that Texas boy plans to marry that Texas girl. He was head over heels in love with her and she felt the same way about him. He spent most of his free time with her, and they were building an incredible bond.

I was right; there had never been any intimacy between them; it seemed that for all that Krista had been through in her life, she still had some definite ideas about what she wanted. It was important to her to finish school, and she decided not to work on any more movies until that was done. Adam practically beamed when he heard this news.

I had been with Adam the first time he went to see Krista. It was a poignant introduction/reunion. I won’t go into particulars, but let’s just say that we all shared tears and that Adam will be giving her away when she and Ryan marry.

They spent a great deal of time together at the hospital, and as she felt better, the boys were allowed to meet her as well. It was amazing how much they all looked alike. Vivian and Gerald, Aidan, and Angelica all accepted her with open arms. I was so excited for her; she had no idea how wonderful these Richlands were; how loving and accepting they were. Even though physical distance separated them, emotionally they were all together. To Krista, with her sad memories of her family that was divided by pain and anger, they would be a blessing.

Adam was waiting impatiently for us in his room. He was dressed, and I could tell he had lost weight at the hospital. Must be all that hospital cuisine, I decided. He walked with a cane now, but we weren’t too sure how long that would continue. He was getting stronger every day. When we opened the door, he stood up and I immediately walked into his arms.

He was ready to go, and so we went. We celebrated the whole evening with all our families, and it was wonderful. We all fit just right. Krista was the only one missing, as she would have to stay in the hospital a bit longer. We missed her, but Adam and I would be staying here until she was ready to go home. Ryan would be on a leave of absence when he got back here. They didn’t want a long engagement and wanted to get married in California in the spring. Krista could continue in school and Ryan would try to find a job in California. I didn’t think that was going to be too difficult for him, not with Little Elk’s contacts.

I found myself sort of playing a mother role to her, and that was fine with me. There were so many wonderful things about her, and I could tell that she had rarely been told that. Being brought up in that house of hatred had taken its toll on her. Only her grandpa had seemed to have given her unconditional love and acceptance. Her grandmother bought into Sunni and Curtis’ plans of revenge and retaliation. She loved her grandmother, but it was a sad situation. Krista seemed like a sponge, just soaking up what ever we could give her. And I felt able to give a lot. I had so much, how could I not share?

She had shyly started to call Adam ‘Dad,’ and it made us all happy that she felt comfortable enough to do it. She confessed to me one day that she was a virgin and intended to stay that way until they got married. Ryan wasn’t even upset about it, she told me with a sigh. But he didn’t want to wait for long, she said with a giggle. Adam felt that they were rushing it a bit, but when I told him about Krista’s ‘state’ he smiled with smug satisfaction. Men!





One day she asked me when her father and I would get married. I laughed and let out a shaky breath and admitted I didn’t know for sure. But that I did know it would happen! “Oh yes, Krista, it will happen!” She seemed somehow relieved about that.

I’ve discovered that my journey with Adam has been a journey not only of love, but of faith and trust. Faith and trust in myself, actually. I knew very early on that I could trust Adam; it was I who was lacking in those attributes. I finally figured out that the person I was running from was me; my own fears and my own doubts. But in the end, my inability to commit was just that, mine. Adam gently guided me through these problems by supporting me whenever I needed it and giving me space and time when I needed that, until I saw that it was okay – that I was okay.

And so I knew without a doubt now that I was ready for that commitment; that I would not hide away from it.

Krista would get out of the hospital the day after tomorrow, and Ryan would be back the following day, just in time for Christmas. I had made special arrangements with the hotel for a Christmas tree to be brought into our suite and a meal to be prepared for Christmas Day. Pam came with Mom, Dad, and Lissa. It seemed her morning sickness was a bit better, and she decided to try to make the flight.

Right now, though, all I could feel was joy and happiness because Adam was here with me. It wasn’t exactly home, this Italian hotel suite, but we were together and that was all that mattered.

That night Adam and I lay in bed together, facing one another. We weren’t allowed sex for awhile because of his surgery, but it didn’t matter in the least. He was here, not only in my dreams, but in my bed. And I wanted that for the rest of my life. He kissed me softly, and I returned that loving kiss with all my heart.

The next day I told him I was going to take him for a ride, and we drove up to Monte Berico. I was driving him, which was somewhat of a novelty, but it was a good day for me to be the one in charge, I decided with a smile. It was a beautiful day, sunny and fairly mild, considering all the below normal temperatures they had been having this year. It was also our third month anniversary.

We walked across the street to the overlook, and I had to admit there was something very sexy about watching Adam walk with that cane. I still loved the way that man moved, with or without the cane.





We moved to the northern overlook as if by a silent agreement. The Dolomites were snow-covered and spectacular, and the air was so crisp and clear we had no trouble viewing them. I could hear the bell in the church across the street tolling out its melodious notes. It was a pleasurable sound and one I always associate with Italy. It doesn’t seem like you hear church bells much in America anymore, but in Italy they still tolled faithfully.

“No roses for you today, love. But happy anniversary anyway,” he said to me as we stood before the balustrade and took in the beautiful vista on display before us.

“Woo hoo – 3 whole months, Adam. Imagine that!”

“Has it been difficult, with everything going on, I mean?” he inquired.

“No, it has been wonderful, Adam. Of course, some days have been better than others! But in some ways it seems incredible that it has been 3 whole months, and yet I feel like I have known you a lifetime already. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Adam wrapped his arm around me, and I snuggled close. I had been thinking about this moment for the last few days. These last three months had changed my life. I had found love, trust, and understanding when I found Adam. And I planned to be with him forever. Three months was just the beginning as far as I was concerned. The future was going to take care of itself, and we would find a way to make it so.

“Well, this is where it all began, isn’t it?” I said to him, looking up into those gorgeous chocolate eyes.

He leaned down and kissed the tip of my nose and whispered, “Yes, it is. I knew you were the one the moment I saw you walk my way. I wanted to tell you immediately, but I was afraid you would run away as fast as you could!”

“I was silly then; I probably would have. But I’ve changed a lot since then, I think.” I swallowed hard; tears were threatening to overcome me and I didn’t want to cry, not yet anyway!

“Yes, you have. Still worried about a future together, Bella?”

I shook my head emphatically and said, “Nope. Someday we’re both going to be old and grey and still chasing each other around, don’t you think?”

“Yes, indeed I do. Sarah, I love you so much!”

I nodded my head, “Yes, Adam, I love you so much as well.” I took a couple of deep breaths; I was suddenly scared to death. I was scared of what I might say, of what he might say. “Adam, I’ve been thinking about things. I can’t imagine my life without you. I knew that even before everything happened; that only served to make it all clearer to me. I’m not afraid any longer of what the future holds for us because I know that it is ‘us’ now. Adam,” I said, pausing a moment to take a deep and unsteady breath and then knelt down on one knee. “Adam, will you marry me?”

The look on his face was one of wondrous joy. He cautiously knelt down with me and pulled me to him. “Yes Bella, I will certainly marry you. But tell me, how did you know what I planned to do today?” He reached into his pocket and brought out a small box and handed it to me. “Open it, please, love.”

My hands were shaking so badly I thought I was going to drop the box. I slowly opened the lid and found the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen. It was a large rectangle-cut blue sapphire with diamonds around it, all set in platinum. It took my breath away. I wasn’t really fond of white diamonds, which he knew, so this is what he picked out for me.

“Oh my! Adam, it is perfect, I adore it.” I told him, trying to pull it out of the box.





“Here, love, let me,” he said, gently working the ring out of its velvet berth. “Hold out your hand, Bella,” he said softly. I stuck my hand out and his hand caught it and slid the ring onto my finger. He then placed a soft kiss on my hand, as if to seal the bargain.

I was crying then, it was okay now, and when I looked at him, he was crying too. We kissed softly up there on top of Monte Berico in the warm Italian sunshine on this December day.

“Forever and ever, Bella?”

“Forever and ever, Adam. One beautiful day at a time…”



Copyright 2006 Cynthia Hope Hodge

97 comments:

Hope said...

I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting me while this story was written. You have become family to me and your kind words and care made this whole project worthwhile. I couldn’t have gotten through it all without you.

If I have written a story that has indelibly touched you, please know that you have all left your marks forever on my heart as well. No one ever had a better place to pursue a dream than I had with you.

I hope that you will all remember these times with joy and happiness because I do.

Hope

x5head3pay said...

what a beautiful end to an incredible journey. I have to admit - I am more than a bit choked up. I will have to write more later when I stop tearing. This is worse than a Hallmark commercial. It was so beautiful Hope. thanks for sharing your imagination and talent with us.

~Katie

Anonymous said...

I could not have imagined a more perfect end. That was so romantic. I need to dry my tears!

I am sad that it is over, but what an incredible journey. You have a wonderful gift for writing and I am thankful that you chose to share it with us. I look forward to keeping up on your website.

Congratulations on such a beautiful story.
L

catrina said...

It's difficult to type through the tears, but by gosh, I'm gonna do it. Hope, this was such a wonderful journey! I can't tell you how it's touched my heart....and the friends I've made here are such an added bonus!
Adam and Sarah may be your genius work of fiction, but I have to believe that somewhere there's a REAL Adam and Sarah living their dreams. What a sad day for me....I think I'll go to the message boards now.
Thanks for the amazing ride!!

Anonymous said...

What a perfect ending. Thank you so much, Hope, for sharing this with us. It was so beautiful and full of love. I look forward to reading other stories from you.

Jackie

becky said...

Wonderful! Their journey has come full circle. It is so appropriate that it ended where they met, where the journey actually began. I loved that Sarah actually reached the point where she was so ready to commit that she proposed. I love that Adam knew the first time he saw her that she was "the one!" My husband was exactly the same way; he even told me he wanted to marry me on our first date (and I thought, yeah, right buddy...) We waited until we graduated from college and then did it.

Thank you, Hope, for this incredible love story. You have poured so much into it and I think our family of HOPIES have really cherished the story and developed a wonderful caring and supportive comunity!

Love you all,
Becky

PS Remember we have our final WMHD virtual lunch/party today! Now we will have to party on the message boards!

cheryl a said...

How beautiful! Maybe there is an Adam out there, somewhere, for me?? I have truly enjoyed your story. I'm sad that it has come to an end, but the end was wonderful. Thank you for writing it. I look forward to seeing what your new website will bring.

Kristin said...

Oh my.... I can't begin to form the words through the tears. Hope you've created more than just a beautiful love story with Adam and Sarah. You've created a family! Your adoring readers have become my home away from home, and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for sharing your gift with us. Now that Happy Ever After has happened, LETS CELEBRATE ADAM AND SARAH'S ENGAGEMENT!!!!

Anonymous said...

That had to be the best story I've ever read. You are a great storyteller. I loved how it all worked out in the end with her proposing to him. I'm definately going to miss this story.

Jenlou

Anonymous said...

Thank you Hope for sharing your talent with us.
Please realize that you have not only suceeded in writing a beautiful story but you have facilitated a new group of friends, a group of people who, despite never having met, truly care about each other. I believe not only will we all share this caring here and on the message board but we will take it with us wherever we go. So you Hope, have helped to spread caring and loving all over the world. And who said one person couldn't make a difference.

Now, where are my darn tissues!
Lauren

Jaime said...

Oh Goodness! That was wonderful Hope! I cried and laughed and cried smoe more! I am so sad to see it's over, but it was a lovely journey! I can't wait to read more on hopesjourneys.com! This has been and unforgetable experience and made me appreciate life so much more!
Thank you!
Jaime

Engbunny said...

I can't believe it...I have tears streaming down my cheeks right now!!!! Hope, this was an amazing journey. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Simply amazing. Hope, thanks for everything. You are very talented.

Twinkie2

Anonymous said...

A million thanks, Hope, for writing this wonderful story and sharing it with us. It is really amazing to see what you have done here - uniting people from various places who have never seen each other, turning them into friends. I am so happy that I found your blog, and more still, that you care so much about us, your faithful readers, to continue the story on your homepage. As much as I enjoyed Sarah's and Adam's journey, I am also looking forward to read about their upcoming adventures, as well as about all the other lovely people surrounding them. You truly have created a fantasy world of its own for us to fly to. Words cannot express how great that is.
Andrea

Hope said...

Linda - Have you had any luck getting on yet? Please email me if you still can't get on.

Anonymous said...

OK fellow Hopies...

I have not read the story yet, nor responses here....but wanted to say as excited as I am to read, there is a sense of denial that when I do read it and know the ending, it is the *end* Yet I know it is not, we are all a group of friends connected by ties that will hold strong...

Well I am off to read...and I am sure cry and smile all at once....

Lori NS in Wyoming

mytib said...

Hope, I just wanted you to know that although I have never posted before, I have read your story since the very beginning. What an incredible imagination you have! I have to admit that I think I'm probably the only one who noticed the VERY minor grammatical error (usually using "I" instead of "me" which is a very popular mistake), but I've been meaning to tell your helper what a good job she did catching those little errors for you. I'm sorry that I went blank on her name! Anyway, I only point this out to congratulate you both on a job well done!

Oh, and, for a half of a second there I actually thought you were going to kill Adam and/or Krista off. I was going to have to take the rest of the week off to recover if Adam died! You did a fantastic job setting the beginning of the entry up to try and trick us!

Seriously... excellent job! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and for being so prompt with the postings. I have no idea what I'm going to do now with my Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays!

Have any more stories in the works??

Best of luck to you on getting this published!! Even though I've read the online version, I will buy the book when it's published, so keep us posted (as I know you will)!

Wendy

Lisha said...

Hope~ Thank you for writing this great story! I am really sad that it is done though. It brought tears to my eyes! Do you know when the story will continue? I definately want to read all about those two weddings!! You could write a whole series of books on Adam and Sarah!

Tara said...

Hope- So sad to see the story end, but the post was great!! I am really going to miss my MWF updates on SArah & Adam's life. Where's lunch today?
~Tara

Shar said...

Hope,
All I can say is thank you so much for this incredible story. Every day I looked forward to your postings and I'm so sad it has come to end. It was a fabulous journey and a wonderful ending.

Please keep me informed of your future stories. I'm registered on your website and I look forward to reading more of your work!

Love, Shar

Angel said...

That was wonderful Hope. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hope, the story was great...The only thing is I hate that it is over. I wo enjoy having my MQF break with Sarah and Adam. I always wonder where the story could have went from the ending...It is kinda an obsession of sorts when reading a story. I hope to read more of you stories in the near future. You are a very talented writer.

Anonymous said...

OK I read it through now, and wiped tears and smiled through them as I knew I would....

THIS is a wonderful story and I feel that Adam and Sarah and their families are my family!!!!!

Hope you are such a talented writer and thank you for sharing with us, and PLEASE tell me there will still be *lots* of updates....I would feel *lost* not knowing what Adam and Sarah are doing....

and truly reading Sarah's self revelations on her inability to *commit* and now where she is in her life....well it gives me hope in my own....

THANK you for an excellent job!!!!!

And yes where ever lunch is, we must raise our glasses in a toast to HOPE!!!!!!

Lori NS in Wyoming

catrina said...

Well, it's been a couple hours since I read the ending to this beautiful story, and here I am, back again...reading comments! Hope, was this a tough day for you? Was it difficult posting the final chapter of such a wonderful journey? Have you shed tears, too? I had to go back and read it again, and I cried again! One last question--will this blog be removed? It's on my favorites, and I just can't bring myself to remove it! Who knows? Hubby and I are going to Florida in a month...maybe I'll just take my laptop to the beach and start reading this amazing story all over again! I may arrive early for lunch today, since I'm leaving early for a little 'me' time!

DayDreamer said...

Oh Wow!! I can't stop the tears from running down my cheeks. My phone rang here at work while I was in the middle of reading this story and I answered the phone "What?" Guess I was lost for a moment. What an incredible story Hope.

You must know that you have touched so many lives and SO MANY more to come. I have told countless number of people about this story. There are so many more who will be reading it. YOu are an amazing writer and I cannot wait to read more from you.

Val said...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope, it's awesome, I love it. You fit all the pieces together into a beautiful picture that is Adam and Sarah's story. Congratulations, you're officially awesome.

Love,
#1 Hopie Val

(but Wendy? SERIOUSLY!)

Hope said...

Yes, it is a very difficult day for me today. Which seems silly when I try to put it into perspective. It's a story, but Sarah's story was so closely linked to my own in many ways and there is a certain amount of catharsis in it for me.

I know it will not end, not these precious friendships that have grown from this story, nor will the hope that is in many of our hearts that there is someone out there for us, our own Adam...

The story will be moved over to the web site as soon as G-man can finish it. It will be set up in probably 10 chapter segments, with an index so that you can just click on the chapter you want. (For those of you who like 16, I KNOW you will appreciate the fact that it is easier to get to!) It will also be available in either a Word document or a PDF file. This site will probably close at that point, but NOT until it's all over at the web site.

It will definitely be a liquid lunch for me today...tears and tequila, that's what I need...

Anonymous said...

Hope,
I just wanted to add to the list of thank yous. I have posted once or twice but I have been reading faithfully, and the comments are just as fun to read! Thanks for sharing your talent with us, it is so appreciated.
Kelli

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story Hope!
Have to admit I was thinking yesterday that it would probably be best if Krista didn't make it since explaining her to the boys would be confusing, etc. but I am glad she didn't and her and Ryan seem to make a great couple (of course they're no Sarah and Adam!)

Tequila sounds great! Are we doing shots or margaritas? I would love a mango margarita.

Karen

Becca said...

Hope,
I've read your story from the beginning and have been reading faithfully every MWF for a couple of months now, but I have never commented. But with this being the final chapter I felt I just had to write something today.

Your story was fabulous and you have a wonderful imagination and a skill for putting that to paper. I love to write but its all very self reflective and not very imaginative, as I wish it to be. But, I digress.

Thank you very much for sharing this story with us and I hope that you will continue to write and post other stories for us to read?

I hope that everyone has wonderful Wednesday.

})i({ *Becca* })i({

Anonymous said...

Totally awesome!!!

Hope your are right up there with the best of writers.

I can only say watch out Danielle Steele theres a new kid on the block!!!

~Carma

Anonymous said...

Great story as always Hope. Didn't want it to end so I kept stopping to do errands then coming back to read more.(especially when the tears were starting):)I wish I had a family like Sara's but sadly I don't. Anyway great story Hope.
Shirley

SandyOPKS said...

Okay...my keyboard is soggy! I am not sure whether I am crying because of the beautiful ending of a incredible love store or sadness that this blog has ended. I have already signed up for the new site and anxiously awaiting activity beginning there. I feel like that many friendships have been formed on this forum and hope that everyone will continue to stay in touch on the new site.

I am so happy that Krista didn't die. I was worried about it after the way the last chapter ended. Adam and Sarah will surely have a long and happy future with a loving family.

Hope, you are an incredible writer and a nice lady. Kudos to you! Hey, how about about this beautiful Kansas weather, huh??

Rachelinseattle AkA Rachel said...

Bravo Hope and may I also say encore please. Hope you your self are the Bella of this story. What an amazing story, I am crying both tears of sorrow and joy. I cant believe it is over now. Thank you for sharing this amazing gift with us all.
With Love from a dedicated "Hopie"

Rachel said...

Oh and a virtual bouquet of roses for Hope!

Becca said...

I tried to register for the message boards but after I registered I never got an email back and am getting blank pages.

**Becca*

Anonymous said...

Hope,
I am so sad this has ended. What a wonderful journey it has been. I laughed and cried along the way, and even worried about Sarah and Adam! They were so real to me. You gave it a fantastic ending. Thanks for letting all of us go along for the ride.
Sandy

Hope said...

Thank you for the flowers, they are very much appreciated however one should never cry of beautiful roses like that!

Becca - G-man has turned the auto-response system off, so you will no longer get a message back after you register.

He thinks some of the problems with the blank pages have to do with the browser you are using, pop-up blockers, spam filters, those type of things. Mozilla browser seems to work better, it is free and can be downloaded at: http://firefox.org

Also, here is some of the other things he suggests:

1) In Internet Explorer go to Tools>internet options.
click on the left tab marked general. In the center of that box is a button labeled
"delete files" clik on this. Explorer uses these files to "remember" what graphics
are on all the sites you visit, so it's really safe to click on this!
After you click on that button, the hourglass symbol will pop up and it make take 2-3 minutes for it to go away. IF it doesn't go away in 5 minutes then reboot your computer.

2) Most likely you have too much stuff running in the background and it's slowing your computer way down. In the bottom right corner of your desktop screen in the menu bar are some icons. Each one is a program that is running. Some of these are necessary, some aren't! Without knowing what the icons are I can't help much. One of these will be the volume icon, one should be an anti-virus icon (if you have anti-virus installed) another could be the mouse icon. What you don't need running is quicktime (comes with I-tunes), Adobe acrobat reader, things like that.

3) this one is a bit tricky...first find the "F8" key aove the numbers. the INSTANT your computer starts up as rapidly as you can press the F8 key off and on (like you're using a telegraph)..you should get a screen that asks you how you want to start windows. Choose safe mode with networking. When your computer starts everything will be magnifies, icons all over etc. This is normal. Try to get on the msg board using this method. If you see it and you can log on, the problem is most likely not enough memory in your computer.

Hope some of these things help! Let us know if they don't.

tita said...

Well...I cannot think of something smart to say after all this sorrow inside of me....I can't believe you created such a romantic atmosphere....I used to believe that good stories usually had silly endings but this is an exception and I'm really glad.
I'm also glad for the beautiful family we became...Thanks Hope for sharing with all of us your talent and giving us the chance to become friends....

Thank you all for your support....I took my mom to her appointment but after all the tests we have to go back on Friday for new tests....But thanks a lot for your prayers...you are in my heart as well.

XOXO

Anonymous said...

Thank you Hope!
I am so melancholy!
K.

catrina said...

Having my liquid lunch (tears and tequila, as Hope said!), and I do declare...could it be? Is it really....why it's none other than Adam with his sexy cane, waving at me from the corner! Ummmm...taking a quick sip of my mango margarita, and off I go.....

Anonymous said...

Great story, thank you. I have truly enjoyed it, I do hope you write another for us!

Anonymous said...

wow, its been a fun ride. hope you truly made my day, well actually my last few months as well. i agree with the others that said this story was kind of an addiction. i would wake up in the middle of a dream sometimes cuz all of a sudden in my head i would be like today is monday. love the way you pulled this together. it was amazingly wonderful. cant believe sarah proposed to adam and krista and ryan are getting married! i loved the end. and thank you for not killing off sarah, krista, or adam. as i was reading the beginning i wanted to scroll down to make sure that they were still alive. thank you for sharing this with us.

by the way, i figured out my problem to where i was getting the blank page when i logged in. i hadnt gotten the email to activate it because when i registered i accidently put in the wrong email adress. so those of you that are getting it, check your email and make sure that you have activated it after you register.

there is kinda a lot going on around here and i thank you hope for making everything a bit better. i will probably attending a funeral in the next few days for a family friend. i havent gotten a call saying he has died yet. it would be a miricle if he hasnt. they gave him 12 hours from 5:00pm yesterday. his kidneys had already shut down and so had his stomach. he had been fighting cancer for over a year. his cancer went into remission and he got really sick in febuary. that when they found out his liver was shutting down. 21 yrs old. he had so much life ahead of him. makes me feel so bad. well i have to go to work now. thank you all for making the last few months better.
~rachael

Becca said...

Hope,

I tried all of the things that you suggested and I still have been unable to do anything. When I log in it goes to a blank page. I have no email and when I tried to retrieve my password to doublecheck my email, it said that my account was inactive. How do I activate it without the email?

**Becca**

kmorales4 said...

Stop it Karen.
MUST NOT CRY AT WORK.

I can't help but feel a hollow beat in my heart. Yes, the story ended beautifully and happy yet I cannot get over the fact that MWF (sob) are (weep) never (tear) the same (bawl).


I need a drink. (A real one, a cyber one just won't do)

Karen

Jo said...

Man oh man, Hope! You scared me there in the beginning. I should have known you wouldn't let anything happen to our Adam.

And now all my coworkers are wondering why I'm sitting here all weepy. I'm happy for Sarah and Adam and for Krista and the whole, big family. But I'm sad that it's come to an end.

Wonderful, Hope! Just wonderful!

Hope said...

Becca - you must have an email account for it to work. There are several (more than several)places to get free e-mail accounts. Try gmail (Google) or yahoo or excite. It is very easy to set up an email account and then you will have an address.

Karen - I had more than a cyber drink for lunch, a real margarita and my friend and I commiserated over the story ending. It did my heart good, in the same way that talking with you all does.

And what's that I see over there? Could that be Catrina with Adam? Oh oh, Sarah you had better watch out!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Hope. You have me in tears!!! Wonderful ending to a beautiful story!! I want an Adam :) That was so special for Sarah to propose.. and Kristen finally getting a happy family!! Well done, BRAVO!! Belicimo?! I wish I could spell in italian but you get the idea ;) See you on the boards and thanks again!!!

Nicole

PS: I said it before and I will say it again, Hope you ROCK!!

Becca said...

Yeah, sorry, what I meant was that I have no new emails...I have multiple email accounts. I've pretty much figured out that its probably not working because its not activated, I just don't know how to activate it.

**Becca**

Hope said...

Becca - Just registering should activate the account. When you go to the page http://www.hopesjourneys.com/phpBB what does it show you?

Anonymous said...

And here I thought Nicholas Sparks was my favorite author. Hope you have simply wowed me with this story. I can't wait to read the next. This was beautiful. Thanks
Nette

Jen said...

Hope,

That was wonderful!!!! I am so going to miss your posts on MWF. You were SO reliable. Wonderful writings and I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

See you at the message boards!

Joy said...

It would be nice to once in awhile to hear about what's happening in the 'happily ever after'. It was such a nice story and there are so many story lines that you have to wonder what happens to everyone in the 'tree' . ;-)

Becca said...

Hope,

When I go to the address I see the site and everything, but I can't do anything, I can view everyone else's posts and such, but when I try to reply, or do anything, it asks me to log in and after I log in the page goes blank.

**Becca**

Hope said...

Becca - please email me at hope@hopesjourneys.com

I'm going to try to hook you up with someone who may be able to help you. I'm just not enough of a techie!

Lorena said...

Hope,
Thank you so much for writing this wonderful journey. I think it's very proper to call it a journey rather than a story. It was incredible from start to finish.
Now that it is finshed (and when I stop tearing) I will have to find some other fantanstic way to fill this void! It's been a long time since I've read something that is so romantic. I love the feeling I get just remebering this journey. Thank you Hope, for all of it!

Lorena

Anonymous said...

I tried the list of help things but they aren't working. I can see the posts and responses, it is only when I log in. I cleared the internet files, there is nothing running in the background. I think my next step is the firefox suggestion from gman in theforum...
L

Hope said...

L and Becca - you both seem to be having the same problem. We are trying to figure it out, so hang on!

Val said...

So both of you are still getting a blank screen when you access it in Firefox?

Anonymous said...

HOPE...you had me in the first paragraph I almost closed it and didnt want to read it!!!

I cried through the whole thing people here at work thought something was wrong with me! I am so sad that it is over and I wont be able to come and get my fix three days a week.

I look forward to the new site when will that be all done.

I would also like to say you are very talented and I for one can not wait for the book version to come out...I know what I will be giving all my friends as gifts...YOUR BOOK!!!

Kristie

Hope said...

MESSAGE FROM G-MAN:

I have made a couple adjustments to the board. See if whoever is getting the blank screen can log on now AFTER they delet their temp files (in IE tools>Internet Options>delete files.

Okay L and Becca, see if this helps.

Anonymous said...

It still shows a blank screen. I deleted the files and the cookies and tried it again, but still nothing. Maybe delete my account and let me try again??? I see my user under the list of members...
L

Becca said...

Hope,

I still saw a blank screen after I attempted to log in. However, I just registered again with a different email address and user name and it works for me now so I don't know what the deal was but I can get in now. I don't know how to delete the old user name though so maybe you or G-man have to do that. Becca is the new name and Becca9684 is the old one that can be deleted. Thanks for all the help. Usually I can find my way around a computer pretty well so I don't know what was going on with this but whatever G-man or I did worked so all is well now.

L- You might want to try doing the same thing that I did.

**Becca**

Lynds said...

Wonderful story. I'm definitely going to miss it. I'll probably still check every once in awhile just out of habit, haha. I still vote sequel! :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks Becca...I did the same thing and I am now in. I hope that we can delete my other account which is Linds1023. I would like to change the new account that has the email address with Linds1023. I don't really use the email acct that got me registered:(
Hey atleast I have joined the Hopies on the new website! YEAH!
L

donna said...

Hope, I can't stop crying. This has been the most amazing story I have ever read and I can't wait to buy the book.

I look forward to reading more on your website and keeping in contact w/all the hopies.

Great ending or should I say beginning?!

Linda said...

Hi Hope, I havent read the last chapter yet but will very soon.

I sent an email to subscribe a few days ago and never heard back. I just sent a 2nd email to subscribe, and copied to your direct email and also g-man and this time they all came back undeliverable...uggghhhhh

Also tried http:hopesjourney.com/phpbb too didn't work.

Help please thanks!
Linda

P.S. I cant go on without staying in contact....:)

Anonymous said...

Kleenex anyone? ... lol i couldnt have been happier with the way things ended..the proposal was so cute...im so glad things worked out in the end and yes...i have to admit it too, that i was crying most of the time ..but i couldnt help it....it was just so PERFECT! Thank you Hope for all the joy and tears that you have brought us!
-J

Melissa said...

Wow...that is amazing. Thank you so much for such a fantastic story! Reading your blog has been the highlight of my weekdays, with a newborn it's the few minutes I would sneak for myself. Anyway, thank you so much!

Linda said...

OMG, I just finished reading it. Hope, wonderful..When I was in church at age 15 1/2, I saw my hubby for first time and I didn't know who he was. I told my girlfriend, I was gonna marry him someday. And I did when I was almost 19. Gosh, that ending brought so much joy to me. Happy to say, we just celebrated 33 years of marriage.

Wow..wow....I am affected by this blog, story. You are a fab writer!!

And, I am the same Linda that just posted and can't get to your new website.

Love
Linda

Kate's Blog said...

Wonderful, Hope!

Kate's Blog said...

Oops, meant to write more, but my comment mysteriously posted itself before I was finished! Your story touched me more than I can say. I am stunned by the intensity and variety of feelings I experienced as the journey went along...thanks so much, Hope, for sharing your marvelous talents. You have given ME hope that love, faith and beauty do still exist. :-)
- Kate

Hope said...

Linda - One thing I noticed was that the address you gave for the message boards was wrong, but that could just be a typo I realize. But, here is the address for the board again:

http://www.hopesjourneys.com/phpBB

Please note that you must type it exactly as written, the BB at the end must be capitalized.

Now, to send e-mail to myself or G-man, try 411@cox.net or hopespringseternal@cox.net

It would be easier to try to figure this out on e-mail probably.

mary jane said...

Hope
I loved the ending to this story I cried so hard!!!
Can not wait to keep up with Adam and Sarah in their life to0gether
BTW: I can not get the message board to post I keep getting as blank screen
MJ

Kristin said...

Well Folks, its post WMHD day 1, and even though this would not have been a posting day, I feel blue.... :(

Hope said...

MJ - there are some suggestions posted earlier in this comment section that might help. If you try them and they don't help, you can email 411@cox.net and see if G-man can help.

Meredith said...

I don't know whether I am crying more because that was so beautiful or because it is over! Hope, thank you so much for your beautiful story, I will truely miss reading it every week : (

Allison said...

I haven't posted often but I have enjoyed every single entry.

What am I going to do with my time now? ;)

Hope said...

Allison - I hope you'll start posting on the message boards for one thing! I think we will all have a lot of fun once we get the hang of it.

reeneez said...

Well Hope, all i can say is that the ending was truly awesome!!!! I've read it a couple of times now. I'm so amazed at what an incredible impact you have had on so many of our lives. THANK YOU FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL STORY!! XO Rene

Kristi said...

I just wanted to tell you the biggest reason I find your story refreshing. Besides the obvious creativity and love of your characters that permeate your writing, you blatantly refused to follow the common outline of a romance novel. I LOVED the fact that the characters started out loving one another and that though there were issues between them, there was never an ugly break up and then a stunning reunion. Your characters worked through their problems and the adversity in the story was aimed elsewhere. That is a relief in this world of dramatic, unhealthy "media" type relationships. You did what most writers cannot: you managed to paint a picture of true love; honest, patient, kind, concerned, and content.

Thank you, Hope.

Mari said...

Wow. This is defenitely bittersweet. While I'm happy to finally know how it all ended, I'm sad to see the story go. I came to see myself looking forward to mondays, wednesdays and friday (and believe me, i am NOT a monday person).

It was great, ane I can't wait to get an autographed copy of your book when I finally get to meet you in person!

Anonymous said...

It's friday and I half expected to come and find a post...to my disappointment, even though I know its over there wasn't one. I've started reading the story over again, and love every piece of it just as much. thanks again Hope you really have made a huge impression on us. This story captured hearts and imaginations galore! And I for one just wish I could give you more than this thanks!

Kahlea

Anonymous said...

Hope,
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story with us, your last post left me in tears. I feel as I know Sarah and Adam, and will miss them dearly. Congratulations on the story,
Asha

Anonymous said...

thank you so much hope for sharing this story. i've been rereading it just trying to further immerse myself into this beautiful ending. i will miss this blog so much and i hope to read some future writings of yours one day (?)
thank you so much again and congratulations on your book's completion. good luck!

ruth

Diane said...

That really was a great end to a great story. I hope you have more stories in you to share with us??

Lisa Lynn said...

Hope,

I started a new job and it took me a little while to find the time...and the website to come back and finish the story.

It was lovely. Bursting with emotions throughout the final chapter and reminded me in ways of my Adam (aka Tom). He too told me later that he knew I was the woman he SHOULD marry after our first date, and proposed after 1 month. We have almost seemlessly blended our family of 4 children together and it's been wonderful. 3 years since our first date yesterday.

Not to steal your thunder, Hope, but to all you wonderful Hopies out there...keep looking there are Adams out there :)

I look forward to seeing this story published as well as many others from you, Hope! You are right up there equal with the talents of Nicholas Sparks, one of my favorites. I will keep in touch on the message boards and look forward to your stories in the future.

You have my appreciation for sharing this story, and my support for your blossoming writing career. Plus you just seem like a cool woman!

Congratulations and thanks for all the memories!

Lisa Lynn

Joy said...

great story, I'm wondering why updates are slow in coming

Hope said...

Joy - the story is finished. It ran for about 6 months or so.

I do have a web site with other things to read and also a message board.

http://www.hopesjourneys.com

Newit said...

Hi Hope,

Not sure if you are still checking out the comments, but I had to make one.
I found your blog about a week ago and put my life on hold to read it from begining to end (much to my husbands dismay lol). Needless to say I did not get a whole lot of work done at work, or at home. But is was so worth it. I absolutely loved the story and the ending, although I was a little nervous that Adam was going to be killed. I think I would of had to take some bereavment time from work had that happened. As readers we became so attached to the charaters, it is like they are our family. The descriptive writing made me long for wonderful family get together and walks on the beach and such.

Will this be published for sure? I have not had the chance to read all the comments (they are way to numerous) so I was hoping for an update on that. I have already checked out chapters and they have not heard of you, so I am keeping my fingers crossed and will be waiting patiently to get a fabulous, but familiar read once it is out.

So thank you so much for the entertainment, can't wait to read more.

Hope said...

Newit,

Thanks so much for the wonderful comments. I am very glad you enjoyed the story. Please feel free to come and check out my web site and the message boards:

www.hopesjourneys.com and

http://hopesjourneys.com/phpBB/

Yes, the idea is to get it published. It is being edited now and then it will be submitted to agents. I want to publish it very much!

Also, feel free to e-mail at hope@hopesjourneys.com

Anonymous said...

not sure if you still look at this, but i wanted to let you know what an incrdible writer you are and i enjoyed the story very much! i will have to see if it was ever published and but a copy! thank you for sharing this magnificent story with us all!
~ashley*

Hope said...

Thank you Ashley,

Yes, I do still check on this. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

I am trying to get this published and it is being edited right now. I'll certainly post messages when it happens, and until then feel free to join the message board at

www.hopesjourneys.com/smf

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic

Hope said...

Thank you Anonymous (last comment). I appreciate the kind words.

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