Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart
I heard the voice calling to me from somewhere beyond the fog that was taking the place of my brain. I struggled for a moment to put a face to that lilting voice before finally realizing it was Adam’s voice, full of fear and concern.
“Sarah, please bella, wake up! Krista, call an ambulance!”
Those words finally got through to me; I didn’t need or want an ambulance. I opened my eyes and protested, “No, I’m okay. I only fainted – no need for an ambulance Adam. Please.”
“Sarah love, something must be wrong. We need to have you checked out.”
“No, I’m okay, really.” I told him, struggling to sit up. My head started spinning from the exertion but I managed to conceal it from Adam by turning around so I could lean against the wall.
I finally raised my head, my eyes taking in his shaken face. His hands were trembling as they reached out to cup my face in his hands, a testament to over-whelming emotions. He searched my face for a moment and finding my eyes focused and clear he nodded to Krista and told her to hold off on the ambulance.
H stood up and pulled me gently to my feet. “C’mon Sarah, let’s get you somewhere a bit more comfortable.”
I nodded and didn’t protest when he led me into the patio room and sat me down on a chaise. Krista brought me a bottle of water and I opened it, taking a long swallow. I pressed the cold bottle against my still flushed face and enjoyed the cooling feeling it brought.
“Krista, please go and get a wash cloth and wet it for me, hmm?” Adam asked.
Krista rushed to get the cloth and handed it to Adam a minute later. She looked from him to me, taking in the serious expression on his face and murmured “I think I’ll go and get a head start on my studying.”
Adam nodded solemnly at her and then turned to face me. I couldn’t read the expression in his eyes and a splinter of fear struck my heart as he said, “Sarah, we have to talk.”
I reached for another tissue from the box on the table by the bed and wiped my sodden eyes and then blew my nose, yet again. We had gone to the bedroom to talk where it was a bit more private and were sitting on the bed. Adam’s arm was wrapped around my shoulder and I laid my head against him, comforted by his warmth and the clean scent that is Adam’s alone.
“Adam, I know you are confused by all of this. I really do want to marry you. It’s not about that really – its, well it’s just that so much is happening so fast. I feel as if I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath for a month now.” I knew that sounded lame; it sounded lame to me so it had to sound the same to Adam.
“Sarah, there is no need to rush this. A month, a year, it doesn’t matter. We’re together and that is all we need.”
“No Adam, you don’t understand. I DO want to get married. Call me old fashioned or whatever you want, but it’s important to me. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
“Yes, but love, it can wait a bit.”
“Yes, I know that it can, but why should it? We’re both ready for that commitment; we’ve already made it in our hearts. As you said, it’s only a formality now so let’s just do it.”
“Sarah, I can’t ignore that something is getting to you about all of this. You’re edgy and tense and for God’s sake, you just passed out. You have to explain to me what is going on!”
I opened my mouth and started to speak and then just as quickly closed it again. How did I explain something that I wasn’t entirely sure of myself? I was embarking on a whole new life, a life that was uniquely different from my life before now. I had given up so much to be with this man, literally the man of my dreams. But I had gained so much more in the deal. Never had I known or could have imagined what knowing him, loving him would bring into my life.
I thought of an old Beatles song that I loved. The lyrics were particularly poignant for me, especially right now:
Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to I will
For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
It never really mattered
I will always feel the same
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can find you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh you know I will
“Adam, I am ready. I want to do this.” I spoke sincerely as I looked directly into his eyes; my own never flinched as I let my love for him shine in them.
“Whatever you want my love. I can never deny you anything, you know?” he whispered and the words went straight to my heart, melted my soul and suddenly I couldn’t wait!
One of the things we decided was that I needed a bit of help getting things organized. I talked to Mom and Lissa and then called in the heavy artillery – Cassie. She and Georgio could be here in 10 days when his last class was done in Greece and I couldn’t wait. She would stay here with me until the wedding and I felt like a teenager as I eagerly awaited her arrival. Mom would come out to help with the catering matters and Lissa was in charge of putting together a list of family and friends that we would like to come. Really, the list was a small one, but she wanted to help and this seemed like the easiest thing I could have her do and still keep up with school. Her classes would be out in two weeks and she was coming out then; I knew her help would be invaluable.
Tamara and I poured through ideas for invitations and colors for the decorations. I still didn’t have any idea about what kind of dress I wanted. Now day’s even brides who had been married before wore white but I wasn’t sure that was for me. I did want something formal so Tamara and I looked on line at dress after dress, but nothing seemed to appeal to me. I decided to put it on the back burner for a bit until Lissa and Cassie were here to help.
Adam had told me that he was in charge of the flowers, which of course didn’t surprise me a bit. He only wanted to know what colors I wanted and I told him the coral colored roses would be a good start. I knew that he would be scavenging every florist in California to find what he wanted.
He had spoken with William, his manager about his schedule; nothing had been set up for him for the next six months. Partly because he was still considered to be recuperating after the accident in Italy and partly because he wanted time for a honeymoon for us. The last part was strictly privileged information; William was told that under no circumstances was this to become public knowledge. Adam was so serious when he told William that I’m sure he believed him and had no intention of letting any information about it escaping!
I spent a bit of each day just relaxing; I coated myself well with sunscreen and lay by the pool sometimes and for my effort I was rewarded with a golden glow that looked great. I know, sun is bad for us but right now it was a god-send for me. While I lay there I relaxed and somehow how felt refreshed and ready to tackle the next task. I still had a nervous stomach at times but it seemed to be getting better and I hadn’t thrown up again; I was exceedingly thankful for that!
Mom had spent a good deal of time on the phone with various local caterers and had narrowed it done to 2 different places. While the wedding was going to be small, only around 40 people Adam, and I wanted the food to be outstanding. Adam would never settle for anything less. We had decided to go with an Italian country theme, which surprised no one I’m sure. At first Adam was inclined to fly in a chef from Italy but then we decided to give the two catering companies Mom had found a try; both claimed to be authentic and knowledgeable about Italian foods. We had appointments to meet with both of them, on Monday and Tuesday respectively.
We decided to stay away from the traditional Italian Wedding Soup; while tasty it was a rather common dish and Adam wanted something more unique. That is until he tasted the soup that the second caterer offered. It had rich and flavorful meatballs in a savory broth, redolent with the scents of garlic and herbs. It was fabulous and we both immediately decided it would be our first course. The second course would be chicken roasted in a wood oven, one of both of our favorites accompanied by fresh sautéed vegetables in a light wine sauce and herbed polenta. Salad Caprese (fresh mozzarella and tomato in fresh basil and olive oil dressing) would come next, in the true Italian way followed by a raspberry sorbet to finish. It was truly a county Italian style feast. The caterers could make the cake as well and we decided on chocolate of course. I can’t imagine either one of us picking any other kind. It would not be a towering creation that looked too pretty to eat; we just wanted a simple two-tiered cake. It would still be exquisitely beautiful and delicious, even without all the decorations.
After Lissa had e-mailed me the list of family and the few friends we were inviting Adam gathered his up as well and we set about sending the invitations out. Krista and Tamara helped us with it and so did the boys. They were in charge of sealing the envelopes and putting the stamps on them and they took their job very seriously. I gave them little water bottles that had a foam piece on the end to moisten the envelope flaps and at first they thought that was cheating but they soon had fun with it. An hour of work and two soggy boys later that task was done as well!
I still had the dress to worry about and once Lissa and Cassie got here we needed to think about what they would wear as well. I had contemplated having Cassie, Lissa and Tamara stand up with me but in the end I decided only on Cassie. It was such a small wedding and the wedding party itself should be the same. Aidan would be Adam’s best man and they had already made arrangements for his tux. Even though Lissa wouldn’t be in the wedding itself I wanted her and Krista both to have whatever dresses they wanted. Krista had already picked out her dress and when she had shown it to me I couldn’t help but smile. Rose-colored tulle over a deeper rose linen it had an empire style waist and short cap sleeves. It was old-fashioned looking and just perfect for her.
As the day of Cassie’s arrival approached I grew ever more anxious. She had never been to California and I wanted everything to be perfect for her arrival. They would stay in our guest room and I worried about Cassie and all the stairs but Georgio assured me that she would be able to handle them fine. He was only staying a few days since he had to get back to Wichita to his practice for a bit but would be back in plenty of time for the wedding.
Mom had gone back to Kansas and Lissa would be arriving 5 days after Cassie. She would stay in the family room that converted to a guest room. I began to see why Adam insisted that we needed a bigger house. Adam had already blocked off a two dozen rooms at the nearby Hilton for guests and I wondered if it would be enough. His parents were coming and his sister and Dumonde, her husband. Aidan and Sylvia would be here and so would Bobby and Wendy and his mother. Even my great-aunt Birdie was making the trip with Bobby and his group. Cassie’s parents would be here as would Little Elk and Ryan’s mom. A few other assorted family members were coming in too and suddenly I realized just how big of a family I had! Most would only be here for a day or so but it still felt a bit as if half of Wichita would be here.
Finally the day of Cassie and Georgio’s arrival was here and I urged Adam to move more quickly, speed up the journey to the airport only to find that we were an hour early when we did get there. We sat in the lounge and ordered drinks while we waited but I only played with my glass of wine, I was too excited to drink it. Adam was wearing his ‘disguise’, baseball cap on backwards and sunglasses and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw him dressed that way. It brought back so many good memories and it always surprised me how well it worked too. No one approached us, although we did see several paparazzi at the airport.
The intercom finally announced the arrival of their flight and we made our way to the concourse where we could wait for them. There were hundreds of people there, some rushing to catch their flight and some just arriving but I was only interested in two people and when I finally caught sight of them I started laughing and flew into Cassie’s arms.
“Gee Sarah, did ya miss me?” she grinned and impudently stuck her tongue out at me.
I didn’t care; I just held her tight and replied, “You have no idea how much!”
Adam and Georgio were shaking hands and then clapped each other on the back. I overheard Georgio say “Congratulations Adam!”
“Thanks Georgio. Let’s let the ladies chat a bit while we go and wrestle with the luggage, shall we?” and off they went.
Cass and I sat in the lounge and held hands as we both tried to excitedly talk at once. We both laughed; old habits die hard we realized and finally she said, “okay, you first!”
‘Oh Cassie, I’m so glad you are here! There’s so much to tell you and do; we have to get dresses and..”
“WHAT?” she exclaimed. “You haven’t gotten a dress yet?” She rolled her eyes and groaned.
“Wha – well no. I wanted your help. This is only like the most important dress of my life Cassandra Elaine!”
“Well then Sarah Denise, I guess we had better get started on it soon then, huh?” she grinned. “I thought for sure you would have some fancy dress designer working on it!”
I laughed and shook my head and then saw Adam and Georgio making their way back to us. We went to join them and I gasped at how much luggage there was!
“Well,” Cassie explained, “We came straight here from Greece. What were we going to do with it?”
“I don’t know, didn’t think about it I guess. Good thing we borrowed Tamara’s minivan for this trip, right Adam?”
He grinned and nodded to me. I looked up just as a light flashed in my eyes. One of the paparazzi had heard me call him Adam and realized who he was. Soon many cameras were flashing as they started asking question after question. I heard Adam tell them that we were just picking up friends from the airport and before we just pushed our way through the crowd and headed out to the parking area.
Cassie and Georgio were quiet as we made our way to the car. Cassie looked amused by it all I noticed, her grass green eyes were sparkling with delight. I giggled and said to her, “You won’t be so amused when your picture is on the front page of all the gossip magazines next week!”
“Really? Ooh, did I look okay? I mean, if I’m going to be famous…” she trailed off, no longer able to just keep her merriment to giggles. It evolved into a full-blown belly laugh and it was infectious. We both laughed until tears streamed down our faces and even Georgio and Adam joined in.
We were all out of breath when we got to the van and started loading their luggage. As we settled in for the ride to Adam’s house Georgio remarked, “I don’t know if I could stand that very often Adam. But I guess I wouldn’t have missed it this time for anything. Seriously though, does that happen a lot?”
“All too often,” Adam replied as we navigated the on ramp to the freeway. Until we hit the PCH the traffic would be practically bumper to bumper and Adam drove cautiously, trying to avoid any unnecessary tie-ups. 15 minutes later we made our turn off and the traffic started to thin out a bit. Cassie was mesmerized by the view of the Pacific, much like I was on my first trip here.
“My God it’s beautiful,” she murmured as her eyes took it all in. “So blue!”
“I know. That’s what I thought when I first saw it too. Wait until you see it from the house; you can hear the waves rushing to shore, it’s positively hypnotic!”
We were all quiet for the remainder of the trip. Tamara was going to meet us back at Adam’s house to pick up the van and we saw her pulling in as we arrived. She waved to us and waited for us to all climb out of the van so we could go into the house. I opened the door and let Cassie and Tamara in while Adam and Georgio gathered the luggage.
From the outside the house looks nice, really nice but you have no idea of it’s true character and charm. It’s only inside that you begin to see how amazing it is and Cassie was immediately enthralled. As she saw the formal living room she exclaimed, “Oh, this is where Adam did that interview after Rachel’s funeral isn’t it?”
I nodded and we continued down the stairs to the bedroom level. I showed her into their bedroom and she looked around her at how large and airy it was. Before we left I had pulled the blinds open to expose the wall of windows that viewed the Pacific and she headed straight for them. I showed her how to open the doors and work the blinds and she stepped out into the afternoon sunshine and inhaled the salty tang of the ocean.
“Oh Sarah, we’re NOT in Kansas anymore!”
Later Adam, Cassie, Georgio and I sat around the patio table and had a drink and chatted. Cassie had been given the complete house tour and was enchanted, but as usual, had a lot to say.
“Adam, you are this huge movie star and this place, while fabulous hardly seems like a mansion! What’s the deal?”
“I never really needed more Cassie. Those mansions are for show and I don’t care about all that. Now however, we are really going to have to consider getting a bigger house.” He smiled at me as he said that.
I nodded and added, “Yes, I am finally ready to agree with you.” I sighed and looked around, scanning the patio and the ocean out beyond the steps before saying, “Oh, but how I will miss this place though. But he’s right, it’s sort of like juggling with all the family.”
Adam looked at Cassie and said, “But it won’t be a mansion, I can guarantee it Cassie!” and then we all laughed at that.
“It’s really peaceful here too which surprises me,” she said. “I thought since it was on a beach that there would be people everywhere.”
“It’s a private beach, along this strip. One of the reason’s I bought this house.”
Cassie looked at Adam for a moment, contemplating what she wanted to say next. I watched her face as the different thoughts flittered through her mind. Finally she said, “You are just so different from what I would have expected Adam. You’re, I don’t know, you’re just kind of a normal guy. You’re also perfect for her!” She pointed at me and grinned.
“Why thank you Cassie. I happen to believe I’m perfect for her as well. What’s even better is that she is perfect for me!”
The next morning Cassie and Georgio slept late which I expected; their internal clocks were on Greek time and I knew it would take a couple of days for them to get used to this time zone.
Tamara called and asked me if we had decided on a band yet. I groaned, I’d never even thought about having a band. I was sure that it was too late now and told her as much.
“Well, you’re wrong! I have one for you; they’re great AND they are available. They played at one of my friends weddings; I’d snap them up if I were you! They had a cancellation…”
I laughed and asked her what type of music they played.
“A little bit of everything actually. They have a lead singer who is outstanding, man that girl can sing!”
I hesitated for only a millionth of a second before I said, “What’s their number?”
I heard Tamara giggle on the other end and I suddenly knew why! “You already booked them didn’t you?” I giggled.
“Well, just in case…”
“Thank you Tamara, I appreciate all your help so much!”
“So, now that Cassie is here how soon do we start the search for a dress? I’ve got the names of a couple of places for us to go to.”
“If she’s up to it maybe this afternoon? I’d just as soon get started as quickly as possible!”
“Sounds great if Adam can pick the boys up from school.”
“Somehow I’m sure he’ll be glad to do that,” I laughed.
We made plans for Adam to drop us off at her house at 1:00 and then I hung up, ready to move on to the next challenge.
I couldn’t help but wonder what else I’d forgotten though!
Not only was Adam able to pick the boys up he was happy about it. They both had practice after school and he loved going to watch them. Since I knew that was taken care of I got ready to make an afternoon of it. When Cassie emerged at 10:00 she was excited as well.
“I’m going shopping in Hollywood California!” she crowed.
“Well, technically probably NOT Hollywood Cassie,” I told her.
“Don’t burst the bubble Sarah!” she growled.
“Drink you coffee Cass,” I chided.
Our banter continued while she and Georgio ate breakfast. It was perfect, like old times and I knew that everything was going to be just fine.
When we pulled up at Tamara’s house she eyed it speculatively. “What is it with all these famous people? Don’t any of them live in mansions?”
“Well, not the ones I know. Sorry,” I teased with an apologetic shrug. “Maybe we could do one of those ‘Tour the homes of the stars’ things for you!”
“It’s NOT the same Sarah, not at all!”
We were both laughing when Tamara came out carrying a notebook and pen. She had made lots of notes and written addresses as well on it and started telling us about the different places.
“Any of those in Hollywood?” I asked, lightly nudging Cassie in the side as I put the car into gear.
“Hollywood? Nooo,” she stated, clearly puzzled. “Did you want to shop in Hollywood?”
I laughed and told her about Cassie’s question earlier.
“Gee Sarah, you make it sound so dumb!” Cassie laughed.
“Well gee Cass, it sort of was!” and we were off again.
The places that Tamara had chosen were smaller, exclusive boutique types, which really appealed to me. I still didn’t know what I was looking for, but most of these dresses were individual creations which suited me just fine!
At the second shop Tamara found her dress. It was stunning and made her look pencil-thin and a mile tall. Well okay, she IS pencil thin and a mile tall, but she looked gorgeous in it.
The dress was pale lilac chiffon, a halter style dress with a high waist. A lot of dresses that we saw were in purple shades and high waisted; I decided that must be the ‘in’ thing. The color was perfect for her with her beautiful olive toned skin. I sighed, if only I could find something that made me look half as beautiful.
At the third shop I found the dress! MY dress! It was perfect, absolutely dazzling and even I didn’t look half bad in it I thought.
The dress was of a Grecian style, a beautiful cream color shot through with gold. It had a shimmery gold drape around the neckline that plunged in the back with layers of paper-thin tulle. It was gorgeous and I felt like a princess in it. Both Cassie and Tamara loved it and I knew it was the one for me!
I’d decided not to wear a veil with it; rather I would pull my hair up in curls and wear flowers in it. Tamara told me that it would look perfect and suddenly I felt as if a huge weight had lifted off of me; maybe now I could start to relax a bit!
We looked at several dresses for Cassie before finally finding the ‘one’. She was very concerned about what I wanted; it wasn’t easy convincing her that we weren’t 20 anymore and this time it was more important to me to find a dress that she loved and felt good in. Color? Didn’t really matter to me as I hadn’t really chosen any ‘color’ for the wedding. Other than maybe the roses, I was open to anything.
Cassie is a natural redhead. It’s a lush red, not brassy or intense; darker than a strawberry blonde but along those same lines. She wasn’t freckled either and she had a very creamy complexion. It was her vivid grass green eyes that pulled it all together for her and made her beautiful. And when we found the dress it was the eyes that made it perfect for her.
The dress was a very straight A line which she told us made her look taller. At 5’0 nothing really did that, but it did help a bit. Made of moiré silk it almost shone as much as her eyes. It was sleeveless with a draped cowl neckline that did make her neck seem amazingly long. I almost cried to see her in it she was so beautiful.
Another couple of stops for shoes and then lingerie and we were set. It was a bit after 6:00 when we got home to a houseful of men, including Mark and were all playing on the Wii, a new purchase. The house smelled wonderful and I realized that Adam was cooking something – something that turned out to be spaghetti and meatballs! We hadn’t stopped for lunch since Cassie had eaten breakfast so late and I discovered as I breathed in the heavenly aroma of garlic and rich sauce that I was starving. Well okay, not really but it occurred to me that it had been days since I had really felt hungry. I was prepared to do some damage to that spaghetti, let me tell you!
The boys were taking turn bowling on the game and we girls used that opportunity to change clothes and get comfy around the patio table. The evening breeze was cool and that combined with the salty tang made sitting outside the perfect ending to the day. We talked a bit more about our dresses and how excited we were about them. Mine and Cassie’s wouldn’t be ready for a few days due to some minor alterations but it was still fresh in my memory and just remembering it made me excited.
“Any idea what Adam has planned for the honeymoon?” Cassie asked as she took a sip of a bottle of chilled water.
“No, he won’t tell me,” I laughed. “Really, I’d just as soon stay home since we’ve been gone for so long, but I doubt if that will be the case. Seriously though, I hope it’s not too strenuous, I’d really like to just relax for a while.”
“Well, since you’ve known him you’ve only covered 3 continents so I’d be prepared for anything if I were you!” Cassie teased.
That joke, although cute left me seriously hoping that she was wrong.
Things were falling into place and we found ourselves with a bit more time to just relax and I was going to enjoy every moment of it. Lissa would be here tomorrow and we still had her dress to get, but most things were done with the exception of who would be conducting the ceremony.
Adam and I were meeting with a judge that we were considering to perform the ceremony later today. He was young (for a judge) and a friend of William’s, who had recommended him. I had a pastor back in Wichita, but we hadn’t really attended any church here. Adam was away for so much of the time that he didn’t even have a church to attend. Neither one of us was terribly religious, but we do hold marriage sacred so we were interested to see what the judge could offer.
So, tick off the list: dress, food, cake, invitations, flowers, music… surely I must be forgetting something? A week to go and we would be married. I sat tapping my pen on the table as I stared at the list, positive I had missed something crucial.
Pam called with the news of Daniel’s first smile and that left me smiling too. I couldn’t wait to see him again! Yeah, okay, I’d get to see Pam and Derek too, but like any respectable grandmother it was the baby I couldn’t wait to get my hands on!
Adam came in after his shower, hair damp and curly and smelling SO nice. I breathed him in, practically salivating at his scent. We were alone in the house as Cassie and Georgio had gone to do a bit of site seeing on their own today. Visions of carnal pursuits fluttered through my mind while my insides did the appropriate summersaults at the possibility of a little alone time with the man of my dreams.
Just as we were about to pursue that the phone rang; it was Jimmy Pauls, the manager of the band that was going to play at the reception. We had promised him that we would meet to discuss our music choices for the wedding and we hadn’t done that yet. Jimmy told us he had some free time and wondered if we did too?
Adam’s eyes twinkled with merriment as he told Jimmy we did and agreed to meet him in an hour here at the house. I wondered if there were enough time to squeeze in a nice shag, but decided there really wasn’t. I didn’t want to be rushed so I sighed with only a tiny bit of frustration and went to change clothes and get ready.
Jimmy was actually a few minutes early and so we got started early and spent a happy hour discussing what we wanted to hear at the wedding, what our first dance together as a married couple would be, etc. That question was easy, we were going to dance to the first song that we ever danced to together. The rest we had to think about a bit. Would we do the traditional father/daughter dance? Yes we would, but what would that be? Decisions and then more decisions, but we finally had it all figured out.
Adam and I had spent a little time discussing our vows and what we wanted but until we talked with the judge and heard what he suggested for us that was somewhat on hold. I mean, we had the vows written; we just needed to see how they would be incorporated into the ceremony.
We discussed that some more as we ate our lunch. Much to Adam’s dismay I was eating peanut butter on an apple. Adam, bless his heart, had actually bought me the peanut butter. He did it with a bit of resignation, but also with a smile. I tried to eat it mostly when he wasn’t around, but it was comfort food for me and since things had been so harried lately I had found myself eating it a bit more frequently. He still wrinkled his nose in the most delightful way when he smelled it and I teased him that I would have to eat it every day just to see that look!
It was finally time to meet with Judge Davidson and we were ready. I had so many questions to ask that I almost didn’t know where to start, but he was really patient and answered every single question we had. Adam and I looked at one another and nodded, both satisfied that he would do a great job and meet our needs and wishes so we made the arrangements for him and then we were set. As Judge Davidson left, I looked at Adam and smiled; I think our list was complete!
Cassie and Georgio came home a little while later and she and I got busy working on vegetables and salad for dinner while the guys got the grill ready for the steaks that Adam had put in a marinade earlier. While we chopped and rinsed Cass told me all about their day and we laughed at the touristy kinds of things they did minus one – no tour of the stars homes.
Georgio came to grab the steaks and the corn that we had ready to go and I saw him run his hand lightly up Cassie’s arm. I saw her blush slightly and noticed goose bumps cover her arms. It said more than words ever could for how things were between them and inside my heart was doing flip-flops for my friend.
We picked up Lissa the next day and I hugged her tightly. She looked tired and pale and immediately my ‘mom’ alarm went off.
“Okay kiddo, what’s up?” I asked her after we were settled into the car.
“Nothing. What do you mean?”
“Melissa Marie, you have dark circles under your eyes and you’re pale as a sheet. Now, what is going on?”
“Mother,” she stated using the more formal name since I had used hers, “I just finished classes. Do the words ‘all-nighters’ for studying not mean anything to you?”
I sighed resignedly, I had forgotten about that. But I couldn’t help but wonder if anything else was wrong. “Well okay. So how did you do?” I asked, changing my tactics.
“Aced ‘em, ALL of them!”
“Isn’t it a bit early to know that for sure?”
“Mom, most of it is done online now – you get your scores instantaneously.” I could almost hear a mental ‘sheesh’ in those words.
Okay, I was right, so something else was bothering her. How do I know? I’m her mother! Still, I dropped that subject and switched to the wedding. She was excited to hear about everything and couldn’t wait to go looking for a dress. I told her about everyone else’s, except mine since Adam was with us. Some traditions you just can’t mess with!
She went to bed really early that night. I still wasn’t convinced that it was entirely because she was tired from finals, but I was willing to give her a bit of time to talk about it. I did notice that she was texting someone A LOT though. I wondered who that might be. She hadn’t said anything about Grant for awhile; I wondered if they had had an argument or something?
Adam laughed at me when I was telling him about my suspicions. “Bella, don’t you think you might be looking for trouble where none exists?”
“No I don’t. Something isn’t right, I know it!” I declared.
It was late that first night and we were lying in bed; the balcony doors were open and the cool ocean breezes were wafting through the room. I licked my lips imagining I could taste the salt on them.
Adam rolled over to face me and kissed me softly. I wrapped my arms around his neck and snuggled against him, feeling his steady heartbeat against mine. We had hardly had a chance to make love for days now, there was always something going on and too many people around it seemed. While I did need to be with him, it was okay because we were still sharing our love and feelings. Truthfully, I think we were both worn out getting prepared for the wedding. I couldn’t even imagine how it would have been had this been a huge one. I mentally shook my head at the thoughts that brought to me.
I was just leaning in to nuzzle his neck when there was a soft knock on the door. I heard Lissa murmur “Mom?”
I gave Adam a quick kiss and said, “Come in Lissa.” We sat up in bed and Adam switched on the lamp next to the bed.
She opened the door and stood shyly at the end of the bed. I patted the bed beside me and she sank down and I wrapped my arm around her. “Okay Lissa, spill it!”
Before she could speak Adam interrupted, “Lissa, shall I give you both some privacy?”
She looked at him and shook her head and asked, “No, why would you think that?”
He just smiled and shrugged and settled back down. We waited for her to speak.
She started and then stopped a couple of times as if trying to find the right words. Finally she just burst out with “Grant wants to come here for the wedding!”
I let out a deep breath and almost laughed out loud which would have been a very bad thing! What I said was, “And that would be a bad thing because?”
“Well, I don’t know if I want him to meet everyone like this. Let’s face it Mom, our family can be a little over-whelming.”
“I can’t argue with that Lissa. But it’s a wedding, everyone will be too busy or rushed to pay him much attention, you know that!”
“In some ways that’s part of the problem. I mean, I, um, well I want him to meet you all, but Aunt Birdie? My gosh, you never know what she might say! And he won’t really have the time to get to know you and Adam, the people I want him to meet. I’d rather he not make this first meeting at the wedding. But, he says he’s coming, we’ve argued about it,” she told me before bursting out into tears.
“Honey, so that’s what’s wrong?”
She nodded miserably and snuffled. I pointed to the box of tissues on the night stand and she grabbed a handful and blew her nose.
“Lissa, let him come. Unless there’s another reason you don’t want him here?” I probed. Privately I was thinking that maybe he was just more serious than her and maybe that was part of what was wrong.
“No, not really. I mean, I do want him to meet you guys; this just wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen. Do you really think it will be okay?”
“Sure Lissa, it will be fine honey, I promise!” I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and she finally smiled.
“Okay. Well, then I guess I’d better tell you he’ll be here in 3 days.” And with that, she bounced out of the room, still smiling.
I laughed and remarked, “That’s my Tigger!”
All the guests started arriving two days later. Mom and Dad were the first quickly followed by Gerald, Vivian, Angelica and Dumonde. Aiden and Sylvia would be in the next day as would the bulk of my family including Derek, Pam and Daniel. They were driving not yet ready to take Daniel on a plane which was fine. Grant got here in the midst of it all and it really did go well. He was a very nice looking young man, specializing in internal medicine. Georgio made the first effort to help him relax by talking doctor lingo and it seemed to work. I can’t say that I got to chat with him nearly as much as I would have liked but as I watched he and Lissa together I knew that I was going to have other opportunities. They were crazy about one another, it was apparent.
We managed to sneak away long enough to find a dress for Lissa. We took Pam with us as well and got her one too. Both girls looked beautiful, I had to admit. Lissa’s dress was cobalt blue that fastened on one shoulder. It fit snugly to her waist and then flared out around her hips and when she walked it swirled about her. Pam’s dress was peach colored, another high waisted one but this one was strapless. The high waist hid the fact that she hadn’t quite lost all the baby weight really well. She looked gorgeous in it and I think she felt really good in it, which is what is important.
We didn’t do bachelor and bachelorette parties; instead we had a large family dinner after the rehearsal which was exactly what we wanted. Everyone was relaxed and happy which was just what we wanted. I was a bit nervous again and it was showing in my appetite. Food seemed to taste good one day and terrible the next. I put it all down to my anxiety level and blamed my mood swings on that as well. A couple of times I had almost yelled at someone which isn’t like me at all. The second time was when a delivery boy brought the bouquets to the house and dropped the box that the bridal bouquet was in. I rushed to it and immediately grabbed it up, intending to have a word with the young man who was standing there. He was blushing and clumsily trying to pick the box up to make sure it was okay.
Cassie and Lissa witnessed the incident and swooped in, saving the young man and my temper. I caught a look between them, a look of surprise and confusion. And that pissed me off too.
It will all be okay, I told myself, it will all by okay. But much as I love Adam, I really just wanted it all over and done with.
Adam stayed the last night at the hotel, as did Georgio. It was just us girls that last evening after the family dinner; girl time. We painted our toe nails and made sure the dresses were ready and just generally enjoyed the night, which I was grateful for. True, I missed Adam and I knew I wouldn’t sleep well without him being here. But then again, I might not have slept anyway I told myself. Tomorrow was the day!
Our wedding day dawned bright and beautiful. A cool breeze was floating in through the open balcony doors and I inhaled deeply as I lay in bed and stretched. Our wedding wasn’t until 6 this evening but the day was still going to be a busy one. Cassie, Tamara, Lissa, Pam, Sylvia, Vivian, Angelica, Krista and I had appointments at the spa for a day of pure pampering. I had tried to talk my mom into coming with us, but she decided not to. I’m sure she had never been to a spa before and frankly, I think the idea of someone massaging her terrified her. I felt terrible about that, I wanted to share this day with her and so I decided to call her and try one last time to persuade her to come with us.
I heard the phone ringing on the other end and my dad picked it up. “Morning Dad,” I said, my voice perky and happy.
"Hi sweetheart. Are you ready for your big day?”
“Yes! More than ready,” I laughed. “In some ways Dad, I really just want to get it over with!”
He laughed and agreed with me. “Yes, there sure is a lot of hub- bub over a wedding isn’t there? Makes a person want to just run off to do it.”
I wistfully thought about Tamara and Mark and silently agreed with him but said, “Well, thank heavens it’s only one day! Is Mom around?”
“Sure, sure. Let me get her.”
I heard him put the phone down and call out to Mom. She came to the phone a minute later.
“Good morning Sweet Pea! Happy wedding day,” she told me.
“Thanks Mom! Look, I was calling one last time to see if you would go to the spa with us? I mean, you don’t have to do anything there you don’t want to and I’d, uh, I’d really like it if you would. I’d really love it actually.”
I held my breath waiting for her reply. I understood she felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff but it was important to me to share this day with her. I ticked off a few more heartbeats while I waited for her response.
“Oh Sarah, I just don’t know what I’d do there at some fancy spa place,” she told me, but I could hear in her voice that I’d won. “But alright, I’ll go with you. What time do I need to be there?”
“You just need to be here at 10:00; we’re taking several vans to the spa so we can all go together. Thanks, Mom,” I said. I tried to keep the sound of tears out of my voice. Mom isn’t a particularly sentimental person and she would probably have thought the tears were silly.
“Okay Sweet Pea, I’ll see you then.”
Satisfied, I hung up the phone and jumped into the shower for a quick wash, humming to myself. The next thing I knew my stomach was doing flip-flops and I was hopping out of the shower and throwing up. Wedding jitters; I would be so happy when all this was done I thought to myself as I sat on the bathroom floor for a moment and sucked in deep breaths to calm myself. When I felt better I finished my shower and got dressed before heading downstairs to make some coffee.
Lissa was already down there as was Cassie. Lissa cast a long glance at me and then outright stared. “Mom, what’s up?”
“Nothing, why?” I asked.
“You’re deathly pale except for two really bright spots on your cheeks. Are you okay?”
I saw her look at Cassie and they both frowned. Lord, did they think I was having second thoughts I wondered?
“I’m fine, Lissa. I’m just a little nervous is all.” I laughed self-consciously and added, “Pretty typical for a bride don’t you think?”
“Uh, sure I guess,” she answered but I could tell she wasn’t at all convinced.
I shrugged it off and poured a cup of coffee that someone had already made and added a generous amount of creamer to it. As I took my first sip of it I wondered if I would be better off to let it alone. My stomach wasn’t really sure it was ready for anything apparently. I sat the cup down on the counter and then sat down on a stool. I finally pushed the cup away from me totally; even the aroma of the coffee was making me queasy.
Damn I thought, this was the last thing I needed today, to be sick!
Cassie observed, “You must really be nervous to not want your morning coffee, Sarah. Are you sure you’re okay?” She was staring hard at me and then looked at Lissa and nodded her head. I saw Lissa’s eyebrow raise a bit.
That little gesture wasn’t lost on me. They think I’m just freaking out over this whole thing; hell, they probably think that I’m gonna pull a runaway bride or something I thought with a laugh! I told them both, “Look, it’s perfectly common for brides to have a nervous stomach! I’ll be fine!”
“Yeah, I think it’s common alright,” Lissa offered and then grinned. “Yeah, I think it’s pretty common indeed!” Then she started laughing and soon Cassie joined her.
I looked at them both as if they had lost their minds. It wasn’t funny in the slightest and they were only saved from some more of my irrational irritation by the door chime. I cast them both a ‘stop it’ look and went to answer the intercom.
Smart-ass girls! Pains if you ask me…
The day at the spa was perfect; we all thought so, even my skeptical mother! It was wonderful being pampered – I was massaged, shampooed and conditioned, made up and just generally made to feel like a princess, which made me happy since I felt like my dress was fit for a ball. Or a wedding, MY wedding!
By 5:30 I was ready. Cassie and Lissa had me into my dress and ready for the limo ride to the park. Everyone else was already there, including Adam. A sense of calm had come over me as I dressed – I was ready, in every way imaginable. More than ready actually, eager. I couldn’t wait to see Adam and to embark on this journey.
The trip to the park took only a few minutes, as I had said it was literally only across the road. I was to meet Adam before the ceremony in a private room and I eagerly alighted from the limo and dashed into the center and into his arms.
“Oh Adam, I love you, I love you! I hated being apart from you last night!”
“Oh me too, bella, me too. God, you look beautiful love.” He was looking at me in my dress and his eyes darkened with passion a bit I noticed.
“You’re not so bad yourself Adam.” That was an understatement – he was every single metaphor for handsome I could come up, jaw-dropping, eye-popping, you name it. I was practically drooling as I looked at him in his black tux. I had to smile when I realized that his cumber bund was coral color, to match the roses as was the rose bud that he wore in his lapel.
I was trembling, whether with excitement or anticipation I was unsure but I took a minute to draw a couple of breaths to steady myself. “Are you ready, bella?” he asked and I nodded. We stepped out into the foyer where Cassie and Aidan were waiting for us.
“WOW!” Aidan said, looking at me and grinning. “You are stunning Sarah, truly exquisite my dear.”
I felt myself blushing under that Richland scrutiny but then I laughed at myself. I was going to have to get used to these men in my new family that was for sure.
Cassie kissed me on the cheek and said, “Are you ready Sarah? Not too late to run!” This last remark was made with a cocky grin aimed at Adam and followed by a giggle.
“No, I’m here – might as well go through with it,” I answered, smiling like a fool – a very head-over-heels lovesick fool.
“Okay then, let’s get this shindig going!” she said.
Somehow someone cued a sound system and the music started playing.
Cassie and Aidan started to walk down the hall together and up the aisle. We waited as they stopped at the altar and then we both took a deep breath and started our walk down the aisle, together.
Yes, that is how we decided to do it. It was our lives, we spend them together and we wanted to take this step together. I intertwined my arm with Adam’s and we took our first step forward together, heading to our future. A tear ran down my cheek and Adam smiled and gently wiped it away with his free hand and then smiled at me; a smile that melted my heart and built me up at the same time.
Right here, right now. This was happening…
I listened to the words of this song, the song that I had chosen for this walk. It meant so much to me and I loved it, as I loved this man. When we got to the altar, the song finished and the judge looked at us and smiled before asking if we were ready. We both nodded and it began.
“Blessed family and friends, we are here today to witness the joining of Sarah and Adam as they begin their married life together. Marriage is not just a word or a piece of paper. It is the actions and spirit of the bond that truly unites two people. It is the love and determination that they possess for one another that makes the bonds of matrimony work for we all know that marriage is never easy but the blessings it may bring to those who are willing to share their lives is incomparable. Let us listen as Sarah and Adam together recite the vows they have chosen to pledge their love and determination:
“I promise to give you the best of myself
and to ask of you no more than you can give.
I promise to respect you as your own person
and to realize that your interests, desires and needs
are no less important than my own.
I promise to share with you my time and my attention
and to bring joy, strength and imagination to our relationship.
I promise to keep myself open to you,
to let you see through the window of my world into my innermost fears
and feelings, secrets and dreams.
I promise to grow along with you,
to be willing to face changes in order to keep our relationship alive and exciting.
I promise to love you in good times and in bad,
with all I have to give and all I feel inside in the only way I know how.
Completely and forever.”
I took a deep breath as we finished. Adam had tears in his eyes, but so did I. We smiled at one another as Judge Davidson continued.
“Adam and Sarah will exchange rings that are a symbol of their love and devotion for one another. Adam, will you repeat after me?”
Adam took my hand in his and placed the ring on my finger and repeated:
“I, Adam Michael Richland give this ring to you, Sarah Denise Marcus as my bond to love you and share my life and my dreams with you always and forever.”
I placed the ring on Adam’s finger and repeated the same words, my heart practically bursting with joy.
“I, Sarah Denise Marcus give this ring to you, Adam Michael Richland as my bond to love you and share my life and my dreams with you always and forever.”
We looked at the judge and waited as he continued.
“Adam and Sarah, at this time I offer this blessing for your marriage:
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another - not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults.
If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another's presence - no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”
I heard several people crying behind me but as I looked at Adam I realized my tears were done; only the beauty of this day was with me now, only joy.
“Adam and Sarah, in as much as you have pledged to share your lives, your joys, your sorrows, your pain and your happiness forever, I do, by the State of California pronounce you husband and wife! “
He turned to our family and friends and stated, “May I introduce for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Richland!”
Everyone erupted in cheers, and the clapping sounded thunderous for such a small crowd. I distinctly heard a whistle and looked at Cass, who was grinning widely. She only shrugged at me and I laughed.
It was done, I was now Sarah Richland!
The sunset provided a fantastic backdrop to the reception. After having more pictures taken than I have ever had in my life we settled down for the meal and all the festivities the evening had to offer. After we had cut the cake the band was setting up and while I was enjoying myself, I couldn’t wait to get him home and spend the night with him. We weren’t leaving for our honeymoon destination until the day after tomorrow (and I still didn’t know where we were going) so tonight and tomorrow we could just relax a bit and say goodbye to family.
We had our first dance together as husband and wife; At Last. Since that was the first song we had ever danced to in Firenza, it was a natural choice. As we swayed to the music I laid my head against his shoulder and moved slowly to the song. The singer was really good I realized as the song went on. It evoked so many memories for me of Italy and the beginnings of our relationship; of how at first I thought he would be nothing more than a holiday fling.
“What are you thinking about, my love?” Adam asked. I felt his lips graze my hair and I smiled, anticipation for the coming night charging through my mind.
“Um, Italy and when we first met. Of getting out of here and spending some time with you alone…”
I heard him chuckle and murmur, “I know exactly what you mean! How soon can we get out of here?”
“As soon as we want, we’re the bride and groom! Who’s going to tell us “no”?” I looked up at him and smiled. “How about now?”
“Let’s go,” he agreed. After the song we made our excuses, bidding everyone to stay and enjoy the band and the refreshments. We were tired, fatigued and needed to go and rest.
“Yeah, like anyone believes THAT!” I laughed a short while later as we were climbing into the car.
That short ride to the house was the longest ride of my life. My body was alive with the awareness of what was ahead of us this night and I couldn’t wait. At the door he scooped me up and carried me over the threshold and for some reason I found that totally hysterical; after all, I’d been through that door a thousand times it seemed.
“What, you are laughing at tradition?” he asked. “You hush those giggles up; you could bring us seven years of bad luck!”
“You’re mixing your sayings up, Adam.” I said giggling even more. “That’s breaking a mirror!”
“Well, what happens if a groom doesn’t carry his bride over the threshold?”
“I dunno, but we won’t have to find out!”
“Race you to the bedroom, bella?”
I’d like to say that we lit candles and poured champagne and all that but it didn’t happen. By the time we got to the bedroom most of our clothes were gone, well, Adam’s anyway. Getting me out of my wedding gown was a bit more complicated.
“Did I mention how positively luscious you look in that gown, my love,” he stated while undoing the zipper. “I’ve felt a bit pervy all night, wanting to rip it off of you!”
“Really? That would have made them all talk! Glad you waited though, I would hate to ruin this dress,” I murmured as he slid it slowly down my body.
He placed hot kisses over my skin as he peeled the gown down over my body. I heard the ‘swish’ of the fabric as it fell in a diaphanous pool at my feet. I stepped over it and he grabbed me up and melded his lips against mine for a kiss that seared. Before I knew it we were on the bed and he had removed my lingerie and it was just us, skin to skin.
I was reaching and touching everything, every part of him body I could. I felt him nibbling my neck and the rush of wetness that painted my thighs. I arched my body so that more of it was touching his.
“Adam, oh I love you so. I can’t wait, I need to feel you inside me,” I begged. “Please Adam, NOW!”
I was only rewarded with a chuckle as his heated mouth trailed down my neck, leaving a moist path and goose bumps in its wake. When his mouth captured my already aroused nipples I almost came off the bed, my desire for him was so intense. He sucked and tugged gently on them and I knew I couldn’t wait much longer, my orgasm was already building, sending waves of powerful contractions through my body. I was practically whimpering with my need and I felt him chuckle against my belly as his tongue journeyed farther downward.
At the first contact with the wet valley between my legs I exploded; my orgasm keening through my body sending shivers of intense pleasure that radiated outward. I cried out my passion, my pleasure and finally he moved upwards to join our bodies.
His mouth met mine in a heated kiss, our tongues dueling in an erratic dance as our bodies joined in a perfect rhythm long perfected. Thrust for thrust I met him while my hands and tongue sought out every delightful part of his body that they could reach. I nipped at his neck when I felt my second peak start and his body increased the pace, knowing that I was there and then we were both falling over the edge, together, just as we meant it to be.
The next morning I woke up to the sounds and smells of Adam in the kitchen, cooking breakfast. I wish I could say it smelled good but my first reaction was to get queasy. I hoped that a quick shower would get me feeling better so I turned the water on and stood under the spray and let it wash over me and tried to get the queasy under control.
By the time I was dressed I felt a bit better so I headed downstairs to see what Adam had made for breakfast. As I walked into the kitchen he handed me a cup of coffee, liberally laced with my favorite coffee creamer. I took a sip and again my stomach churned. Adam was watching me closely; his face wasn’t alarmed at all, just watchful.
“Ready for some breakfast love?” he asked, sipping his own coffee.
“I don’t think so; I’m not feeling so well this morning. Actually I didn’t feel well yesterday either, but I just took it to be wedding jitters. I think I must have a bug.”
“Um hm,” said as he went to the phone and dialed a number. “Yep, same as yesterday,” he said into the receiver. He was quiet for a minute and then added, “Okay, then. See you soon.”
“What was that?” I asked, shocked. I didn’t want anyone else here today. I wanted the time with him and if I did have a bug I surely didn’t want to pass it along.
He came to me and leaned down to give me a soft kiss. “Nothing for you to worry about, love. It was just Lissa, she’s concerned, that’s all.”
“Oh great! It’s just a bug Adam, it will pass. I don’t need her over here probing me!” I exclaimed.
“Um hm,” he said again and went back to breakfast. He opened the oven and was checking something that was cooking in it. Curiosity got the better of me and I went and peeked over his shoulder.
He had a frittata cooking. Under ordinary circumstances I would have been thrilled; right now not so much. I went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water and cracked the lid and took a slow sip. It felt cold in my mouth, too cold and the next thing I knew I was in the bathroom, retching over the toilet.
Adam stood in the doorway, concern written all over his face. “Come on, love, come and sit down and relax a bit.”
I followed him into the patio room and sank down gratefully into a chair. I heard the door chime ring and Adam went to answer it. Before I knew it Lissa and Cassie were standing in front of me, regarding me curiously. Cassie was smirking.
“What?” I asked them, my voice full of irritation.
Lissa pulled a foot stool up and sat down in front of me. I watched her with narrowed eyes. Cassie had all she could do to keep from laughing out loud I noticed and even Adam was trying to disguise a smile that was trying to turn the corners of his mouth upwards.
“Okay Mom, I don’t know how to go about this so I’m just going to ask. When was the last time you had a period?”
Oh God, I thought, she thinks something is wrong with me! Do I have some disease or something?
“I don’t know, last fall sometime. Wait, Adam was in Texas. But Lissa, I go months without having a period. I’m going through the change, you know that.”
“Um hm,” she said, nodding. “Well, uh, here Mom. Go and use this.” She pulled a pregnancy test out of her purse and handed it to me.
I burst into laughter. This was good! “You think I’m pregnant?” I looked at Cassie who was grinning and nodding her head to Adam, who was still trying to keep the smile off of his face. But he wasn’t doing a very good job of it I noticed. Some actor…
“It’s possible Mom; you’re only 46.”
It occurred to me that she was serious. Fine. I’d take the damn test just to show them all. I grabbed the test and stomped into the bathroom. As I passed Adam I gave him a look that said, “TRAITOR!”
It’s not quite as easy as it would seem to pee on a stick, but I finally managed and went to the patio room to wait while it did its thing. All three of them were quiet and Adam came and sat on the arm of the chair and rubbed my back. I suddenly had a horrible headache as well as a queasy stomach. Lissa kept watch of the time and finally went to get the test stick, a look of surprise on her face. She wordlessly handed it to me.
I grabbed it and looked at it.
Oh My God…
Marriage blessing by James Dillet Freeman
Marriage promise by Dorothy Colgan
Lyrics and music to I Will by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. No copyright infringement intended.
Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge
All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.