TIME: Part 4
At six-fifteen on Saturday, Adam was having the nearest thing to a panic attack he'd ever experienced. He was watching a rerun of the original Star Trek, and not catching anything of the plot, even though he'd seen all of the shows hundreds of times. It was an historic episode, when Kirk and Uhura are enslaved by these beings that control their minds and force them to kiss, making theirs the first interracial kiss on television. Adam knew that scene would be coming up, and it was all he could think of. He finally convinced himself that he would not be forced to kiss anyone himself, especially that evening, and had calmed down a bit by the time his doorbell rang.
He met Annie at the door with a sharp intake of breath. He'd never seen her look this way before. She was in black jeans, and they looked new. She was wearing a black leather jacket, black silk shirt open at the neck, an embroidered vest, and black leather boots. Her hair was untied and flowed over her shoulders in an unruly dark red mane.
"Date clothes." She grinned at Adam's gaping face. "Either that, or I'm a biker going to a funeral." Adam tried to laugh, but no sound came out of his mouth. "I have a new name for you, Spock," she said as she grabbed Adam by the arm and led him out of the house. "Can you say ‘Life is like a box o' choc'lats'?" Adam wasn't getting it as she unlocked the passenger door of her car. She walked around to the driver's side and said, "Hi, I'm Forrest Gump. You can call me Forrest Gump,” as she got into the car.
Before she started the engine she asked, "Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Italian, or Chinese?"
"Uh, Mexican?" Adam said, liking them all.
Annie's Geo whizzed through Ballard to Wallingford , and he didn't know where they were going to eat.
"Here we are then." Annie screeched to a halt. "Oh, a parking space!" Her Geo squeezed into a teeny spot opposite the Food Giant. "Here, the Guad."
Adam looked up at the Guadalajara restaurant. "Oh, I've eaten at the one in West Seattle ." He looked at her. "With Paul."
"Yeah? I've eaten there. I think they're related," Annie said as they got out of the car.
Sitting in a booth, Annie ordered a mineral water and Adam ordered a cola. Annie began to scrutinize the menu, while Adam scrutinized her. He'd just noticed the little dangly earrings she was wearing. Little gold sun faces. He hadn't known she had pierced ears. She absent-mindedly swept a lock of her hair behind her ear and twirled the end of it around her fingers. No other jewelry, no rings or necklaces. Just the pierced ears. She glanced up and caught him looking at her.
"What?" She grabbed her earlobes. "Oh, good, I thought I might have lost one of them. These shepherd's hooks pop out all the time -- I have dozens of really nice single earrings." She gently pushed her earrings in a little farther. "What are you going to order?"
"Fajita burrito." Adam said, without looking at the menu.
"Creature of habit, eh?" Annie teased. "I'll have the pollo con mole."
"Chocolate chicken?" Adam translated. It hadn't occurred to him to order anything other than his usual dish.
"You make it sound like something out of an Easter basket." Annie laughed. "You know, it's chicken in chocolate sauce, not really sweet, more almost dark chocolate."
"Oh, I know ..." Adam said, trailing off. There was an awkward silence. Every topic Adam thought of talking about sounded really stupid in his mind. He waited for Annie to start the conversation.
She jabbed a chip into the picante salsa on the table. "You know," she said, munching on it, "there are several movies I'd like to see. There's ‘Babe' about a cute talking pig, ‘Mr. Holland's Opus' with Richard Dreyfus, or ‘Sabrina', with Harrison Ford. Which one are you interested in?"
Adam frowned as he thought about each one of them. Annie hid a grin. He took everything so seriously. She had to constantly suppress the urge to act really goofy around him, just to lighten him up. At last his eyebrows went up.
"Sabrina." He didn't know any of the films – he'd relied on the pictures she'd projected when she was talking. He read that she'd wanted to see ‘Sabrina' the most, would have settled for ‘Babe', and expected him to say ‘Mr. Holland's Opus'.
"Good. It's playing at the Metro, at" Annie pulled a section of the newspaper out of her purse "8:30."
"You like to be very organized, don't you?" Adam asked.
"Well, I just like to have a schedule. Know what's going to happen when," Annie said. Adam looked at her expectantly, so she kept talking. "Growing up in an alcoholic home, we had no schedule; everything was very chaotic. I loved school because it gave me something predictable." Her eyes grew distant. "Summers weren't so great." She pulled her attention back to the present. "How about you? I mean, you moved around a lot -- how did you have a sense of continuity?"
"I didn't," Adam said. "Well, I always had Mom, until I was twelve. But part of my training was to adapt instantly to new situations and to use my intuition to respond to things that happened, so I was pretty prepared to handle each change. But then, I never felt in any danger anywhere I was; I knew the Universe would take care of me." Adam and Annie looked at each other quietly for a while, Adam picking up her memories of her childhood, and Annie sensing that he understood.
Their food came, and Annie gave the waitress a smile. “Thanks." she said.
She saw Adam eyeing her plate. “Here, want a bite?" She cut a piece and held it out to him. He looked surprised, like he'd never tasted anyone else's dinner before, and he tentatively took it from her fork into his mouth. He closed his eyes as he tasted it, and an expression of bliss came over his face.
"The way is through your stomach, eh?" Annie laughed.
Adam didn't get it. "Good," he said, chewing. Then it occurred to him that proper protocol would be to offer her a piece of his dinner, also. He swallowed. "Want to try some of this?".
"Sure. It looks good." Annie said, checking out his fajita burrito.
Adam sliced a piece, put it on his fork and held it out to Annie, the same as she had done to him. She smiled and bent forward and took the bite into her mouth and Adam almost dropped the fork. He was struggling with how much of what he was feeling was suggestion from her and how much was his own physical response to her. It took all his self-control not to dissolve into a gawky fifteen-year-old on his first date. After all, he was a thirty one year old on his first date. Annie chewed her bite happily and did a little bobbing dance of joy.
"You like it, huh?" Adam asked, unable to suppress a smile. She nodded, and then they dug into their own meals. He noticed that she did the same little dance of joy in her seat when tasting her dinner. He marveled how she got such child-like delight out of the simplest things.
"So Neela and Jam seem to be adjusting to the new parent thing pretty well," Annie said between bites.
Adam, who had heard every cry the newborn had made since they came home from the hospital, nodded his head. "I don't know how they manage it. I've calculated they must not get more than three or four hours of sleep a night, total."
"Wow, are the walls that paper-thin?" Annie asked.
Adam shrugged. "I don't know. I think I may just hear exceptionally well."
Annie's expression changed. "You can hear everything that they say over there?"
Adam looked puzzled. "No, not everything. Why?"
"Oh, nothing." Annie said, but Adam already got the picture that Neela and she had been having some heart-to-heart talks about him over at Neela's house. He wanted to know what they'd said, but Annie withdrew the picture for another question. "You know, I was thinking about what you said the other day ..."
Adam glanced around the room. The restaurant was not crowded; it was still early for dinner, but he was uneasy about what she was going to bring up being talked about in public.
Annie sensed the need for discretion, and lowered her voice to a whisper, "is it kind of like ‘Quantum Leap', what you do?"
Adam vaguely remembered the television series from when he first moved to Seattle and inherited Paul's TV. "No, not at all. For one thing, the main character moved into different people's bodies when he traveled through time. I maintain my own body. For another, he never knew where he was going or why he was there. I'm always thoroughly briefed before I transition."
"Thoroughly? Like you know all the current events, and what's going to happen, and stuff like that?" Annie was piling up mounds of refried beans on her fork and squashing the rice on top of them so the rice would stick.
"Well, so that I'm familiar with the time period and current events, but not what's going to happen. Sometimes I'll recall things from being in a future time and knowing history, but in general I try not to let future information influence my present experience." He stopped himself. She was just sitting there, absorbing what he was saying without any disbelief, and happily eating the bean-rice piles she'd made. He found it difficult to understand why none of this surprised her. "What do you think of all this that I tell you?"
"Oh, I believe it. Absolutely." She bobbed her head up and down, making the little sun earrings swing back and forth furiously.
"But it doesn't shock you or disturb you or anything like that?" Adam pursued.
"No. Why? Should it?" Annie looked puzzled.
A thought occurred to Adam. "Have you met anyone like me before?"
Annie shook her head. "Nope. You are totally unique." She shoveled more beans and rice into her mouth. How could such a slender person eat so much, Adam wondered.
"Even that I go into the future?" Adam asked. That had been the thing that had disturbed Paul the most. The past was something his father could grasp, but the future was beyond his comprehension.
"Cool," was all Annie would say. She jabbed her fork at his half-full plate. "Finish eating, we've got a movie to see."
When they were done with dinner and back in the car, Annie asked Adam a question. "So these dreams you had with me… how many were there and were we having sex in all of them?"
She asked the question so casually that Adam was taken unawares. He took in a deep breath before he answered. "No, actually, um, only in the first one." He hurried on so he wouldn't have to describe it. "The second time you were in a kitchen and I only saw you from behind, and the third one, well -- you know that one."
Annie was watching the road as she was driving, but she had a broad smile at the memory of the third dream.
Adam looked at her quizzically. “Do you remember any dreams with me in them?" It was entirely possible that she didn't; since there was no time or space on the astral, he could have already experienced dreams she hadn't had yet.
Annie went quiet for a moment. "Well, only the last one, but I've been thinking, and I do remember a couple of unusual things about waking up over the past several months." She glanced sideways at Adam. "See, I get real cold at night, especially in the winter, so I always dress warmly. But one night," she paused, and Adam noticed her neck starting to flush, "I woke up naked, and in a wet spot."
"A wet spot?" Adam echoed.
"Yeah, you know, a wet spot." She glanced over and saw that Adam didn't know what a wet spot was. "Oh, God, Adam. A wet spot . Read the picture." Adam's mind was suddenly filled with a graphic picture explaining a wet spot. "It isn't exactly something I could have made by myself."
It was Adam's turn to redden. He was thinking of the wet spot he'd created when he'd woken from that particular experience.
Annie went on. "The only other time was waking up, uh…” she paused, took a deep breath, and went on. "Well, I woke up feeling like I was being held. I felt ..." her voice began to quaver, "I felt loved." She shrugged her shoulders, to minimize her emotional reaction. "That's all I remember."
"Why does being loved cause you a stronger emotional reaction than having sex?" Adam asked.
"Well, Data," Annie answered with not just a tinge of sarcasm, "love is more intimate than sex, so it causes deeper feelings."
Adam was baffled by her response. "Love is more intimate than sex?"
"Sure." Annie said. "Sex is just bodies; you can have sex without love, believe me. But love ..." Annie's voice trailed off. "Well, anyway. Here's the movie theater. Rats, I hope that line isn't for our movie."
Fortunately, the line was for the action film playing on a different screen in the multiplex. Their screening room was not as packed.
Even though the theater was relatively new so the seats were quite roomy, Adam was acutely aware that he was sitting closer to Annie than when they were in the car together. He caught the scent of her shampoo and another, slightly floral fragrance. Their arms gently rubbed together as they both went for the same armrest, and they both let their arms drop at the same time, leaving the armrest between them unoccupied. They'd gotten separate sodas, but were sharing popcorn. Adam had the popcorn resting on his lap, and each time she reached for a handful, he felt increasingly nervous. So he handed it over to her, but found it even more nerve-wracking to have to reach over towards her lap for popcorn, so he gave up, and let her eat it all.
He enjoyed movies even though he usually knew the outcome before they were halfway through. He'd trained himself to concentrate on the plot, because he got distracted if he focused solely on the actors. He could read whether they'd had a bad day when they'd filmed their scene, or if they despised the actress playing the love interest in the movie. The few love scenes he'd witnessed had not affected him at all, since he was so aware of the director's staging of the events. In this movie, however, he found himself caught up in the relationship on the screen, and wondered if he was just matching Annie's absorption in the story. When the main characters kissed he shrank back in his chair and noticed Annie did too, slightly. He wondered if she were as cavalier and as worldly as she acted. Afterwards there was a comical turn of events and the whole theater erupted in laughter. Annie was laughing so hard, tears came out of her eyes, and she inadvertently leaned her head on Adam's shoulder. Adam froze, and fought the urge to press his face into her hair. She picked up on his tension and abruptly lifted up her head. That caused her to brush against his chin by mistake, something she didn't notice she'd done, but he felt the tingle of her touch for a long while afterwards.
Coming out of the movie theater, Annie chattered excitedly about what a good film it was. She really liked the actress; she'd seen her in other films. She unconsciously took Adam's arm as they walked to her car. Adam forced himself to relax to her touch so that she wouldn't take her hand away. As they walked to the car together, Adam noticed all the feelings and sensations coming up in him, like a blind man able to see for the first time. A whole new world of emotional colors was open to him. He found himself enjoying her closeness, and the bouncy way she walked, and the way she tugged his arm to emphasize a point. Then they got to her car and she dropped his arm to unlock his door and go around to her side of the car. Adam felt an emptiness where her hand had been.
They were silent on the way back to Adam's house. Adam could tell she was wanting to ask him what he thought of the movie. Had he enjoyed their date? Did he wanted to see her again? But she wasn't verbalizing the questions, so he didn't answer. Finally, when the silence became uncomfortable, he forced some words out of his mouth.
"I had fun," he said, simply. He sensed a wave of relief from her.
They pulled up at his house. Annie made no move to get out of the car. Adam put his hand on the door handle and half turned to her. "I had fun," he repeated, because he couldn't think of anything else to say.
"That's great, Forrest. I had fun, too." She drawled. Adam could tell she expected something, but she was hiding it.
"Uh, good night."
She smiled slightly, "good night." As she said it, Adam saw she expected something about another date ... or something else, but the picture faded from view before he could focus on it.
"Do you ... want to do this again?" Adam asked, hesitantly.
Her face wrinkled into a painful smile. "Do you want to do this again?" She echoed.
"Uh, sure." Adam said, leaning against the door handle.
"Okay, call me."
"Okay, I will." He opened the car door and got out. As he closed it, he bent down and looked back into the car. "Um, thanks."
She smiled at him. "Oh, thank you ." He couldn't tell if she was joking or not.
"I'll call you." Adam stood up and headed towards his house, and Annie drove away.
Jam was sitting out on his front porch, holding the baby wrapped in a blanket.
"You didn't ask her in?" Jam asked, as Adam walked towards his own house.
"Uh, no. Why?" Adam asked.
Jam looked at Adam and chuckled. "You don't get out much, do you?"
"Not really," Adam replied.
"Well, did you enjoy the date?" Jam asked.
"Uh, yes," Adam said, not quite reading where the questions were heading.
"You like Annie, don't you?" Jam asked.
"Well, yes, I do, but --" Adam started, but Jam interrupted.
"And I heard you tell her you were going to call her again, right?" Jam said, and not waiting for Adam to answer. "You missed an opportunity, my man. That's all I'm sayin', but from where I sat, I saw a missed opportunity." His grin glistened in the moonlight.
Adam decided to change the subject, so he asked, "Where's Neela?"
"Oh, she just fed the baby and is trying to get some sleep. I'm out here on burp patrol," Jam said. To his infant son he crooned, "burp the baby, burp the baby, give papa a great big burp," and the child obligingly belched.
"One's whole vocabulary changes when one becomes a parent, doesn't it?" Adam noted.
"That's for sure." Jam laughed. “Well, I've done my daddy duty out here. Now I gotta go change the baby doody. 'Night, Adam."
"'Night, Jam. Get some sleep." Adam went into his house.
Inside, he went about his evening routine as if nothing unusual had happened. It wasn't until he finally sat down for a short meditation before going to bed that he noticed his entire system seemed to be in shock. When he closed his eyes, all he could see was scenes from the movie they'd just watched, or glimpses of Annie at the Mexican restaurant. Snatches of conversation kept coming to him, or sometimes her laughter. By the time he was clear and calm enough to go to sleep, it was long past midnight. The moment his head hit the pillow, the images began to replay themselves again. He turned over and stuffed another pillow over his head, and tried to refocus his mind by thinking of something else. What popped into his head was a conversation with his father about missed opportunities. He was searching for the beginning thread of that thought, what had prompted them to begin talking about such things, when he drifted off into a restless slumber.
The next day at dawn he got on his bike and rode to Mt. Rainier in the rain. He didn't return until late evening.
Monday morning at the office, Adam was unusually grouchy. He had a mild headache, something he never got, and he felt unusually sensitive towards people around him. The staff meeting was a difficult one -- several strong personalities were in conflict with each other. When Paul was at the helm, he was able to handle situations like this with grace; he could make decisions and smooth bruised egos with a certain amount of charm. Adam wasn't used to being assertive. He preferred to sit back and let people hash things out for themselves. He liked to provide an open forum for people to bring forward their various ideas, and for the group to come to a collective agreement on what action to take. This didn't work when it was one architect's design versus another's, and when it seemed like each person in the room knew more than the next. At one point in the meeting he looked helplessly over at Michael, who was stewing over in the corner. Michael caught his glance and frowned, and then drew a finger across his neck, signaling that it was time to cut these prima donnas off. Adam took a deep breath and stood up. The action brought silence to the room. Several people were surprised, because Adam was quite tall. His quiet demeanor tended to make him blend into the background. When he talked to people on a one-to-one basis he would look them directly in the eye, so they didn't notice his height. But he was 6'4" and broad-shouldered, and right now he seemed to take up half the room. Everyone looked at him expectantly.
"It seems that it comes down to three people's designs, Sandi's, Kevin's and Jeff's." Adam loomed forward and spread the three designs out on the table before everyone. "Now, it doesn't matter who did what drawing, what matters is what will work best for the project. I see a major design flaw in each one of them. One is easily corrected; the other two would require redesigning both structures. Which one should we go for?" Of course, the whole group murmured the one that is easily corrected.
"Which one is it?" Adam asked, then, like a university professor having given an essay question, he sat down and watched the group pore over the three plans.
Jeff immediately caught the flaw in his own plan, and withdrew it from consideration. Adam watched Sandi and Kevin struggling over their designs. Sandi was struggling with the disbelief that hers could possibly be the right one and Kevin with the belief that his couldn't possibly be the wrong one. Adam looked over at Michael, who was smiling at him. When their eyes met, Michael nodded to him, and Adam heard in his head, Good job, Captain Spock. Finally, Kevin snatched up his design and dramatically stormed out of the room, while Sandi sank into her seat, her eyes brimming with tears. Everyone applauded, including Jeff.
"We have to rise above our own egos in order to make decisions which are the best for the company and for the project at hand. If we had let the strongest personality's design be the one chosen for this project, what would have happened?" Adam asked. People hesitated, not wanting to criticize Kevin's work. Finally, Jeff spoke up, and talked not of Kevin's design, but of his own.
"Well, Adam, I noticed my specifications for the underground part of my design weren't up to safety standards for this part of the country. Yet to upgrade it would have required redesigning my whole building. If my plan had been the one chosen, we could have built it just fine, and it maybe would have withstood the next windstorm. But if the big one hits ...” Jeff looked at him, and the group, and didn't have to finish his sentence.
Adam nodded. Then something began to enter his awareness and he found himself saying something he wasn't planning to say.
"Good observation, Jeff. I'm going to be out of town for the next couple of staff meetings, and I'm going to need you people to mediate yourselves. What happened at the beginning of today's meeting had me concerned that you wouldn't be able to do it. However, watching you resolve the conflict meeting has restored my confidence. Do you think you'll be able to handle yourselves?" Everyone nodded, but Francis looked apoplectic.
The group dismissed, except for Michael and Francis.
"Adam, I didn't know you were planning to take off for two weeks," Michael said, coming up to him.
"Mr. Marbanks, what about your appointments, what about your projects?" Francis was stuttering from anticipating having to rearrange Adam's appointments for the next two weeks.
"I'm not sure if it's two weeks or not." Adam said, truthfully. "I'll have to make a phone call. Francis,” Adam put his hand on her shoulder to steady her. "Right after my phone call, I will meet with you and help you handle the changes this impromptu trip will require."
"Where are you going? Will you be reachable by phone? E-mail?" Francis asked, following him out of the conference room.
"Later, Francis. I'll meet with you in an hour." Adam went back to his office and closed the door. He sat down and went into trance. Then he remembered he was supposed to be making a phone call, so he picked up the phone and called his house. Since he had no voice mail or answering machine, it just rang and rang and rang. Adam stuck the receiver in a desk drawer and went back into his deep meditative state.
An hour later, he came out of his office feeling much better. He met with Francis and patiently helped her with rescheduling or delegating his various appointments and projects for the next two weeks. Then he stopped by Michael's office.
"It is two weeks," Adam said as he walked in.
"Pretty sudden. Family related?" Michael asked.
Adam thought of his parents, who were in Kobe, Japan, supervising the Marbanks /Nishikawa rebuilding project there. He wished he could have used them as an excuse.
"Sort of. Not Paul and Mom, though." Adam said. "Family business from Mom's side of the family."
Michael looked at Adam quizzically. "Paul said that your Mom worked, or used to work, for an organization like the Red Cross. Is it something like that, or do you mean stuff to do with your Mom's family?"
Adam wanted to give Michael a vague enough answer to satisfy him, and not so vague as to raise another question. "A little of both. My Mom's whole family is involved in the same business, and they call on me to help them out from time to time. It may not take two weeks, I may be back sooner, but I can't say right now." He started backing out of the room to prevent Michael from asking further questions.
"Okay, well, have a good trip," Michael called after him as he left.
Back at home, the last thing Adam did before he transitioned was to call Neela and Jam and see if they'd feed Percy. He left a message on their voice mail. He knew they were there but not answering -- he could hear the baby crying. He decided against going next door to ask them directly, because he didn't want them to ask where he was going. Adam hung up the phone, went into the bedroom, and disappeared.
Thirteen days and twelve hours later, Adam came back into his room in time to turn off his alarm, which he'd forgotten to switch off before he left. It had probably buzzed for an hour every morning since he'd gone. He wasn't tired -- he'd had some debriefing time after the assignment -- so he got ready for work.
Out in front, Neela was saying good-bye to Jam and Annie, who were in their painter's clothes.
Annie caught sight of Adam first. "Jam, I'll meet you at the job site. Have fun with the baby, Neela." She spun around on her heel and headed straight to her car. She sped off.
"Oh, Adam, you're home,” Neela said, icily. "How was your trip? Where did you go?" She asked, but only sounded mildly interested.
Adam couldn't figure out what was wrong, but it definitely a female thing, because he sensed nothing negative from Jam. "Uh, it was fine. I went to Sweden ." He said, hoping that nothing major had happened in Sweden in the two weeks he was gone.
"That's nice. Well, Jam honey, you have a good day." Neela pecked her husband on the cheek. "I've got to go put the baby down for his morning nap." She turned around and went into the house.
"What's going on?" Adam asked, bewildered.
Jam was chuckling. "Well, let me see. I guess they don't have phones in Sweden , do they?" he said with not a little irony.
"Uh, yes, but I was in the field." Adam said which was technically true. It would have been hard to call 1996 from where he was.
"Do you remember what we talked about the night before you left so suddenly?" Jam said, picking up his bucket of brushes.
Adam frowned. He wasn't entirely in the present yet, so two weeks ago was pretty hazy.
"I heard you tell Annie you'd call her. I heard you," Jam said, shaking his head.
"That's right. I'm going to call her," Adam said, not understanding what the big deal was.
Jam remained in good humor. "Well, let me tell you about something that happened to me in high school. I went out with this really fine chick, if you know what I mean." Adam got the picture and nodded.
"Now, I wanted to be cool, not eager, so I decided to wait until the next week to call her. And when I did, she was going steady with someone else. I said, ‘why, I said I'd call you, and it's only been seven days.' She said, ‘yes, but that's seven girl days'." He chuckled at the memory.
Adam totally did not get it.
Jam explained patiently. "Well,
from then on, if I really
liked the girl, I'd call
her the next day. If I
liked her okay, I'd call
her a day or so later.
If she was so-so, but worth
another date, I'd call
her the next week. Get
"Well, let's just say you should not have said, 'I'll call you,' and then drop off the face of the earth for two weeks," Jam said good-naturedly. "Now if you want a chance to repair the damage, then the next time you see her, go straight to her and say, 'I'm sorry for hurting your feelings.'"
"I hurt her feelings by not calling her?" Adam thought this was absurd.
"It doesn't matter whether you feel you should apologize or not, just say, 'I'm sorry for hurting your feelings.' What ever you do, don't say 'I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings.' I used to do that with Neela and she'd go ballistic on me. She said it sounded like I doubted whether or not I'd done something to hurt her feelings. So, just assume you did and apologize. If you haven't, she'll tell you. If you have, you've covered your ass." Jam loaded his brushed into his truck, and Adam strapped on his bike helmet.
"Do it soon, man, or you will have definitely missed an opportunity." Jam got into his truck.
"Thanks for the advice,” Adam said as Jam took off. Then he got on his bike and headed for work.
This was all too complicated. He really did not want to have to go through the mechanics that were required in a social relationship. He didn't see why he had to have this kind of learning experience. All he had said was, I'll call you. There was no time limit. He had to go out of town. He had no obligation whatsoever to inform Annie of his comings and goings. And why was Neela angry, too? He wondered who he could talk to about this; since he really knew no other people than the three Housepainteers and his co-workers, there wasn't anyone to talk to except God. And lately, all God had been doing in response to Adam's questions was laugh.
Marbank's Architects had been running smoothly in Adam's absence. Francis was nonetheless overjoyed to have him return when expected. She'd booked the entire day full of appointments, and Adam barely had time to think before it was nearly six pm . Everyone else had cleared out for the day. On his way out of the office, he noticed a large padded envelope on the reception desk a secretary had forgotten to take to the post office. It had ‘rush delivery' on it and the address was an office on Stoneway near the Lake Union waterfront. He picked up the phone and called their number. Someone answered and confirmed they'd be there for the next hour, so Adam decided to deliver it himself.
To get home from Stoneway, Adam decided to head through Fremont to Ballard. It was beginning to rain quite heavily, and the streets were slick. Fortunately, most of the rush hour traffic had already gone home. He was coming up towards the Fremont Bridge when he saw Annie coming out of PCC, her arms full of groceries. He didn't have time to think, so he whipped up onto the sidewalk and braked right in front of her.
"Jesus Christ!" Annie yelled, jumping about a foot in the air.
"Annie," Adam said. "I'm really sorry I hurt your feelings." The rain began to roll off the front of his bike helmet in little waterfalls.
"Adam you goof! I nearly had a heart attack!" Annie said, but not angrily.
"I'm really sorry I hurt your feelings," Adam said again, not certain what else to say.
She stared at him. "Apology accepted," she said in clipped tones. "Listen, let's not stand here in this rain; my house is this way." She led him up the stairway at the back of the PCC parking lot to a house under the Aurora overpass. Adam hoisted his bike over his shoulder and trotted after her. It was a large yellow house that had been divided into a triplex. Annie lived on the top floor and the entrance was through the back.
Halfway up the steps to her house, she turned back towards Adam. "I've got half an hour before I have to be somewhere, but we can have a cup of tea and I can feed my face at least. God, these groceries are soaked."
He left his bike on the balcony outside and she let him into her apartment. It was light and airy and filled with plants. A cluster by the picture window caught his attention.
"Those are my tropical plants. I smuggled most of them back from trips to Hawaii ." She put the groceries away in the kitchen as she talked. "The tall one on the end with the white blossoms is a plumeria. I bought its cutting from the Hilo airport. The one next to it is a hibiscus I got here. But the other ones -- that little one with the pink blossoms came from outside the swimming pool of a condo in Kihei, Maui . That one next to it, with the little plants growing off its leaves? I got that outside the leper colony on Molokai . And that thing, that hanging down hairy thing that looks like a mutant spider plant? I got that on Kauai ." She'd turned away from him to fill the teapot at the sink.
Adam looked up and gave a start. It was the kitchen he'd dreamed her in. And she was standing in the same position… but this time her hair hung down her back in a soaking pigtail.
After taking a moment to recover, Adam asked, “so you travel to Hawaii a lot, or did you get all these on one trip?"
She looked at him. "My late husband was Hawaiian," she said, quietly. "We used to go back every year to visit his folks on the Big Island , and he'd always take me to one of the other islands while we were there. Never made it to Niihau , though." She went back to making tea.
Adam looked back at the plants. They were all healthy and thriving in the south facing window, and he noticed a oil-filled portable radiator was plugged in right beside them, ensuring their warmth even on a chilly day like this one. Adam turned around and took in the rest of the apartment as he walked towards the kitchen. A funky assortment of thrift store furniture and some rather nice antiques filled the living area. His eye caught a collage of photographs in a glass frame on the wall. On closer inspection he found it was a collection of pictures of Annie. A chubby little baby with thick hair and a goofy smile sat in a high chair, covered in applesauce. A solemn little girl in a school uniform, posing with a book about Swan Lake . A vivacious teenager in a ratty fur coat, mugging for the camera. A college student with a wild afro-style perm in tan leather boots that curled up at the toes. A young woman in her early twenties provocatively posing in a string bikini on a tropical beach. Adam looked up at Annie in jeans and a flannel shirt, moving around her kitchen. Then he realized he was standing right by the hallway to her bedroom. He took a few steps forward and peeked around the corner. That was it. He'd been there in his dream. And he had gotten out of this bed, walked down this hallway, into the kitchen.
Adam found himself standing in the kitchen right behind Annie, who was micro waving herself a burrito for dinner.
She spun around. "Adam! Don't sneak up on me like that." She noticed the odd expression on his face. "What's the matter?"
Adam abruptly bent his head and pressed his lips on hers, in an intense but clumsy attempt at a kiss. Then he pulled back again.
Annie looked at him with a half-smile on her face. "Nice first try," she said, and slipped her hand behind his head. "Now try it like this." She pulled his face down to her, and gently pressed her soft, full lips on his.
Adam stared at her. The expression on his face was like a man lost in a desert being offered a drink of water. He lowered his head and imitated her kiss. As he did so, he recalled a scene from ‘Sabrina', and slipped his arm around her waist and drew her up to him. She made a little noise in her throat, so he let her go.
Annie reeled backwards when he released her. "God, Adam, you're a quick study," she gasped. The microwave beeped behind her and she looked at it in anguish.
"Damn. I have to be setting up for class in twenty minutes. What lousy timing." She looked back at him. "Heck, I can eat dinner in the car." She put her arms around him and they kissed a third time.
Adam wanted nothing but to drink of her. The outside world had gone away and the only thing in his existence was Annie's mouth pressing against his. He put his hands on her waist and his thumb accidentally grazed her breast. She gave a little moan and opened her lips, and his universe increased by the depth of her kisses with him.
"Oh, I hate to say this, but I've got to take a rain check," Annie whispered breathlessly, clinging to his shoulders.
Adam looked at her quizzically. "Can't you skip class tonight?" he asked, assuming she was taking some night course.
"No, I can't. I'm the teacher." Annie broke away from him, and rescued her dinner from the microwave.
Adam raised his eyebrows. "What are you teaching?" He watched her grab a mineral water from the fridge and put it and the burrito by her purse. Her flannel shirt was open over a white tee shirt. He could see her erect nipples through the thin fabric.
"It's a beginning meditation class," Annie said, buttoning up her shirt and trying to collect herself. "I rent a little space by Green Lake . I have eight students relying on me to help them get spiritual and in touch with God tonight." She fumbled with her buttons and muttered. "I don't feel very spiritual right now, I can tell you."
Adam went over and embraced her, pressing his face into her hair. He found the scent of her shampoo intoxicating. Annie's shoulders shook with laughter as she slipped her arms around his waist.
"That's right, make it easy for me." She pulled him close.
Adam felt paralyzed by the overload on his senses. A starving man had been let into a gourmet restaurant and given carte blanche… then told he'd have to take a rain check.
She gave Adam a little slap on the butt and pushed him away. "I have to go, NOW," she said firmly, and gathered up her purse and dinner and held them protectively in front of her.
She headed towards the door with Adam following her. Outside on the balcony she leveled her eyes at him.
"Call me tomorrow ." She commanded. "I'd call you, but you don't have a damn answering machine. Get voice mail. This is the nineties."
Adam had strapped on his bike helmet. It was now only drizzling. He grinned and decided to try for one more kiss. Annie stopped him with her hand.
"Stop it! I have to go be a spiritual teacher, puh-leese ." She rolled her eyes and headed down the stairs. "I'm so addled, my poor students won't understand a thing I'm trying to say tonight!"
Adam followed her down the stairs with his bike. He watched her get in her car, wave, and drive away. He gingerly got on his bike and cycled home standing on his pedals.
The next day he was so lighthearted he practically sang at the office. His cheery manner elicited a lot of stares and dubious looks. No one had seen him this joyful in all the seven years he'd worked there.
Midmorning, Michael stopped by his office. He leaned against the door frame and looked at Adam with a big grin on his face.
"What's her name?" he asked.
"What's whose name?" Adam responded, thinking of the project they were working on.
"The one who put that smile on your face,” Michael said with a knowing look.
Adam's mouth became a straight line. "Why would anyone put a smile on my face?" He retreated into his Spock persona.
"Fine, don't tell me," Michael said. "I'll just have to find out from Paul and Moira." He tossed a piece of paper on the table. It was a FAX from Kobe.
Adam looked down at it. It was addressed to Marbanks Architects, and to both him and Michael. Michael probably saw it first because his office was right by the FAX machine and his secretary tended to be the one who retrieved and routed all the faxes. It was from Paul, saying that the Kobe project was winding down and that he'd be heading up to Seattle after stopping in San Francisco . He gave his estimated arrival date in two weeks, in early March.
"Your parents are coming to visit, Spock," Michael lightly teased.
"Great,” Adam said, "it'll be interesting to hear about Kobe ."
"Yeah, it will." Michael accepted the change of subject. "I heard things are pretty crazy in there right now."
Out of the blue Adam was hit with a wave of nausea. He bent over double and leaned against his desk.
"Adam, are you all right?" Alarmed, Michael put his arm out towards his friend.
"Fine, fine." The feeling passed. Adam stood up straight again. "Listen, I'll get back to you with those specs right after lunch, okay?"
Michael nodded. "Good. Hey, take care of yourself. There's a nasty flu going around the office. Dave's secretary has been out for five days."
Adam dismissed the thought. He never got sick. His own abilities at selfhealing, plus his occasional tune-ups, effectively made him immune to pretty much everything.
After Michael left, he sat down at his desk and began to concentrate on the paperwork that had piled up since he'd been gone. As he did, his head began to feel stuffed with cotton balls and his eyes began to water. His nose became blocked and he started breathing out of his mouth. He had another wave of nausea and sank down into his chair. Just then, Francis stopped by.
"Oh, Mr. Marbanks, you have the flu. You look just terrible!" She clucked. "You really ought to go home and rest."
Adam figured he must really look ill, if Francis was telling him to go home with all the work he had to do. "No, I'm fine." He breathed. "Can you get me that report on the Yakima site? I think Reynolds is looking at it."
She left and Adam tried to meditate. Instead of clearing his head, he found himself nodding off instead. By the time Francis had returned he was bent over his desk.
It was Michael who woke him up. Adam heard Francis' voice behind Michael as he gently shook him awake.
"It came on so suddenly. Could it be a virus he picked up on his trip? Or an allergic reaction to something he ate?" she asked, worriedly.
"No, it looks just like the flu to me. I'll take him home - he can hardly ride his bike in this condition," Michael said to her.
"It's riding in this weather that's given him this nasty chill," Francis clucked.
Adam came to and looked around. "I'm fine, really." He mouthed, but his words were faint.
"Yeah, and I'm an Olympic athlete." Michael drawled, and pulled Adam to a standing position. He slung one of Adam's arms around his shoulders and began to walk him to the elevators. "I'm taking you home, man. You need a little R & R after your R & R."
Michael loaded Adam into his car and drove him home. As he pulled up to Adam's house, Jam and Annie were unloading the truck outside of Jam's house. Neela was standing with them, balancing the baby on her hip.
"Need some help?" Jam asked, seeing Michael struggling to get Adam's semi-conscious body out of the car. He ran over and took Adam's other arm around his shoulder. Neela followed them to the house.
"Oh, he looks real sick. Should we call a doctor? Maybe we should take him to the emergency room," Neela said, extremely concerned.
Adam managed to raise his head and croak, "No, it's just the flu. I need to rest."
They were at the door and Adam fumbled in his pocket for the keys. Instantly, Annie was there.
"I'll open the door, Adam." She calmly took the keys from him. She opened the door and Michael and Jam took Adam in.
"Neela, keep that baby out of here!" Annie commanded. "You don't want him catching any germs, do you?" The mere suggestion sent Neela fleeing next door.
Annie followed the men into the bedroom and knelt down beside Adam's prone figure. She felt his forehead. "He's burning up. Jam, go get a washcloth from the bathroom and run it under the coldest water you can get. Then wring it out and bring it here." She looked up at Michael. "How long has he been like this?"
Michael was smiling down at her. He heard the question and wiped the smile off his face. "Oh, since about noon . It came on pretty quick. I figure it's the flu. It's been going around the office."
She nodded and looked back at Adam. His face was flushed and puffy. Jam brought her the washcloth and she gently brushed his hair away and placed the folded cloth on his forehead.
"Should we call the doctor?" asked Jam.
Annie shook her head. "Not yet. I'll stay with him a while. I'll give you a call if he turns worse."
"I've never seen him look this bad; I can't imagine him looking worse," Michael said.
"Thanks for bringing him home," Annie said, ushering the two men out of the bedroom.
As he was leaving, and Michael hesitated on the front porch.
"Annie, isn't it? You and the people next door painted our offices," Michael said. Annie nodded. Michael offered his hand to shake. "Well, I'm glad to be able to leave Adam in such capable hands. His dad and I are old, old friends, by the way."
Annie shook his hand and grinned. "Not that old."
"Well, I feel old today." Michael gave her a genuine smile. "I'm very pleased to have met you." Annie looked puzzled. "Oh, I just figured you were the reason why he was walking on air this morning." Michael explained.
Annie reddened and looked down at her feet.
Michael laughed. "I thought so. Maybe he doesn't have the flu after all. Maybe he's just love-sick." He turned to go. "Take good care of him. He's my best friend's son, and a heck of a boss." He began to whistle as he headed for his car.
Just then, Neela stuck her head out of the house. "Is typhoid Mary safely inside?" "Oh, yes. I'm going back in to check on him," Annie said.
Neela handed her a flowery tote bag. "I thought you might want your bag of tricks. Who knows, they sure helped me and the baby, they should help him." She nodded her head in Adam's direction.
"Oh, thanks. I think they're probably just the things that will work." Annie said, taking her bag from Neela. "Go take care of your guys, Neela. Make sure they don't catch this bug. It's a nasty one."
Annie went in to Adam lying on his futon, breathing heavily. The washcloth had slipped off and was soaking part of his pillow. Annie put it in the sink. She went back and knelt down beside Adam, and took his hand.
"Adam, can you hear me?" Annie asked in a gentle but loud voice.
Adam nodded weakly.
"Do you need to leave your body for a tune-up?" she asked.
Adam shook his head. I can't get out right now, he mouthed. Annie understood.
"Can I try something?" Annie asked. Adam nodded. "Okay, I'm going to do two things. First is a sick-bed healing." She walked around to the foot of the bed and knelt down. She put her hands on his feet and closed her eyes.
Adam felt a tingling in the arches of his feet and warmth started flowing up his legs and through his body. It flowed up into his head and down his arms. His head started feeling clearer, even though he was still unable to sit up. Annie saw this and removed her hands.
"Well, that's step one." She reached for her tote bag. "In here, I have some flower essences. I am going to kinesiology test you for which ones will help you with what you're body is going through. I need you to be in physical contact with me while I do this." She took his hand and placed it on her knee, and then pull a box of vials from her bag. She ran her hands across the different vials, and then kinesiology-tested by making a circle with one thumb and forefinger, and trying to pry them apart with her other thumb and forefinger. Those vials, when touched she was able to pry her fingers apart she set aside. The vials where her fingers wouldn't open, she kept by her. Her movements were swift and efficient.
"I just did this for Neela and her baby," she said. "They're still recovering from their hospital experience." By the time she was done, she had a little collection of six bottles.
"All right, Adam, I'm going to make you a solution from these bottles and you're to take it," she tested her fingers again, "three times a day for four days. When you're done, I should test you again in case you need a follow-up dosage." She then pulled an empty dropper bottle from her bag, and put measured drops from each of the six vials into the dropper bottle. When she was done, she took a bottle of spring water from her bag and put a small amount in the dropper bottle. Then she put the dropper back into the bottle and squeezed the rubber top.
"Adam, open your mouth. I'm going to give you a drop of this under your tongue," she said. Adam obeyed and she put a minuscule drop into his mouth. Then she screwed the dropper back on to the bottle and left it by his bed.
How're you feeling?" She tenderly brushed his hair from his forehead.
Adam smiled feebly at her. He lifted his hand to pat her knee but his hand slipped from weakness and he patted the inside of her thigh by mistake. He left his hand resting there, too dazed to know what he was doing.
She laughed. "That good, huh? Maybe you don't need any flower essences!" Annie felt his forehead. "Well, your fever is going down. Listen, I'm going to let you get some rest, and I'll check on you in a few hours, when you'll need another dose of essences. I'll be next door, okay?"
Adam nodded. She leaned over and kissed him lightly on the forehead. "Get some rest," she whispered. Adam closed his eyes and went out like a light.
Annie had dinner with Neela and Jam, and stayed to watch some television. When it was the Johnson's bedtime, she went back to check on Adam. His breathing was less labored and his face was clearer, his coloring normal. She gently touched his cheek.
"Adam, it's Annie."
Adam opened his eyes. "Hi," he said, quietly, but his voice was stronger.
"Feeling better?" she asked.
"I think so. I've never felt like this before. But what you did is definitely helping,"Adam whispered.
"Good. Here, it's time for another dose." Annie held up the dropper and Adam obediently opened his mouth. She let another tiny droplet fall under his tongue.
"Now you just go back to sleep, and I'll check on you in the morning," Annie said. "You'll have to take another drop of the essences then." Adam nodded, showing he understood.
"Are you hungry?" Annie asked. "Do you need anything to eat? Chicken soup, saltine crackers?" Adam closed his eyes and shook his head. She smoothed his hair back. "All right then. Sweet dreams. I'll see you tomorrow." She quietly got up and left, as Adam began to softly snore.
The next morning, Adam was sitting in his chair by the window meditating. He spotted Annie coming down the sidewalk, dressed in her painter's clothes, her hat over her hair. She saw him and waved. Adam got up and opened the door.
"Adam! You look so much better!"
Adam pulled the little dropper bottle out of his breast pocket. "This stuff works wonders. You know, I can't take any medicine, but this is totally different."
"Well, that's because it's simply essences, which work on an energy healing level with your body," Annie said, walking up to him. She reached out and felt his forehead. "No fever. It must have been a twelve-hour thing."
If it had been anyone else, Adam would have reflexively moved away but with Annie, it felt like the most normal thing in the world.
"A twelve-hour growth period," Adam agreed. "I'm going through some major changes."
Annie smiled warmly at him. "You sure are." Then she heard Jam coming out of his house. "Well, I've gotta go to work now. I'll check on you later, okay?"
"I've got to go to work, too."
Annie stared at him. "Are you sure you're well enough to go to work? I mean, you look a lot better, but -"
Adam gently interrupted her. "I'm fine. Plus, I've been gone for two weeks, if any more paperwork piles up on my desk I won't be able to get into my office!"
Annie pursed her lips. "Well, go then. But don't ride your bike in this weather! Your cold will come back." It was chilly, gray, and beginning to drizzle.
"Annie, people don't catch colds from the weather; they catch them from viruses. And I explained that I didn't have a cold, just a body reaction to the changes I'm going through." With you, Adam thought. "I think that I'll be just as exposed to the weather taking the bus, you know."
"Then let me drive you!" Annie implored. "You've made such a miraculous turnaround, I just can't bear to see you go out and get sick again."
By this time, Jam had come up behind them. He chuckled at their conversation. "You better listen to her, Adam," he said. "You were at death's door last night, and she nursed you back to health. You go out and catch pneumonia today, well, it'd be an insult to her good nursing."
Annie didn't even let Adam agree. She turned to Jam and said, "I'll take my car and meet you at the job site in about forty-five minutes." She turned to Adam and said, "You, come with me."
Adam took his cue from Jam, who was definitely more knowledgeable about dealing with women than he was, and allowed Annie to take him to work. He had this funny recollection of his mother driving him to school in one of the places they'd lived when he was growing up. He had wanted to walk but it had snowed and she wouldn't let him. He had begun that journey by feeling resentful of his mother but when they'd gotten to school he understood she was just being that way because she loved him. By the time they pulled up to Marbanks Architects, the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds.
Adam looked up at the sky. "Well, it looks like I'll be able to get home without getting rained on."
"Nonsense. Who knows what the weather will be like at five-thirty tonight? I'll come pick you up," Annie said firmly.
"Six-thirty," Adam said. "I work until six-thirty." He actually worked an hour later than that, but he didn't want Annie to lecture him on working too long.
"You work until six-thirty? That's way too long, especially when you've been sick." Annie lectured him anyway.
Adam grinned at her. "Yes, Mom."
Annie's mouth had been open to say something else, but it clamped shut. She dropped her head and buried her face in her hands. "Oh, god, listen to me! I am so sorry!" Her voice was filled with embarrassment. "Adam, you work as late as you need. You're an adult. You should be able to make your own judgment call on your health." She still had her hands covering her face, so it muffled her words.
Adam wanted to reach out and touch her, to pull her hands off her face. He wanted to kiss her good-bye. Instead, he just opened the car door.
"It's okay, Annie," he said, gently. "I understand you're just being that way because you care."
She lifted up her head and peeked at him through her fingers. "Uh-huh."
"I'll call you tonight when I get home. I'll tell you how I'm doing." Adam smiled.
"No, no, you don't have to do that." Annie shook her head and gripped her steering wheel.
"Okay, I'll call you this weekend." Adam said, patiently. This was so interesting, how women said no when they meant yes.
"Yes, that would be fine," Annie said. "Well, I'd better go I'll be late for work. 'Bye."
"'Bye, Annie. Thanks for the healing work," Adam said sincerely, as he got out of the car.
He watched her little blue Geo speed away into the traffic. This time, he noticed, she didn't take all her energy with her. He felt a little ball of it in the center of his chest. As he walked into the building and towards the elevators, he also noticed he was in no hurry to clear it out.
Sunday afternoon, cycling his way back from Mount Rainier in the pouring rain, Adam remembered he needed to call Annie. He suddenly got the impression he should have called her the day before, but he'd left at dawn. Well, he'd said the weekend, and it still was the weekend, wasn't it? He found himself increasing his speed, as if he was anxious to get home.
The phone was ringing when he got in. Figuring it was her, he dashed to the kitchen, picked up the receiver and said, "Annie?"
A bemused silence greeted him. "Hello, Adam. Who's Annie?" It was Moira, his mother.
Adam was surprised. His mother didn't have to use the telephone to talk to him; most of their conversations were telepathic. If she was ever in the same time period he was, regardless of where she was, they could communicate. He'd noticed, however, that they hadn't been in as much contact with each other lately, probably because she was preoccupied with Paul. Paul was probably there with her, which was why she'd used the phone.
"Uh, somebody I was supposed to call this weekend." Adam fought to keep any mental images from rising to the surface that his mother could read.
"Oh, I see ," Moira said, meaning he'd not been successful at repressing the pictures.
Paul was on the extension. "Wasn't one of the house painters named Annie?" he asked. Adam could tell that he and Moira were in adjoining rooms and could see each other. He heard his father cover the receiver and whisper to Moira, "we could invite them, too."
Adam could tell his mother had nodded yes to Paul. "Adam, we just called to tell you we've been delayed in coming up to Seattle. Stephen wants to take us to some resort in Mexico , Baja -- isn't it, Paul? Stephen bought some land there as an investment and wants Paul's opinion about building there. So we won't be up this weekend. How are you doing, sweetie? Michael told us you'd been ill." Adam felt his mother's concern. She knew he'd never been sick once in his life, and neither had she. She already knew something major must be happening to him to cause such a body transformation.
"I'm better. I tried these ... flower essences. They really work." Adam said, reminding himself to ask Annie about a follow-up test, as he'd finished the bottle on Friday.
"Well you can tell us all about them when we come up the week after next," Moira said, brightly.
"Adam, we're having a little get-together on Easter Sunday," Paul said. "If your house painter friends aren't busy, they're welcome to come out. Michael and Coral will be there, and Susan and her brood. It should be a fun afternoon."
"Uh, I'll ask them," Adam said reluctantly. He was used to visiting Neela and Jam, but their social interactions were limited to TV and pizza, and even that had evaporated since the baby. "They may be busy, they have a newborn."
"Well, ask Annie too." Moira said. "I'd like to meet her."
Adam felt instant resistance. He didn't want his mother meeting Annie until he'd figured her out himself, and figured out their relationship. His mother probably already knew more about her, and them, simply by reading his pictures. And he certainly didn't want his aunt Susan meeting Annie this soon, either. He could withstand her lawyer's personality, but he didn't want to subject Annie to her scrutiny.
It won't be as bad as all that. Besides, Michael told us about her already. Moira's thoughts broke in on his.
"Michael told you?" Adam blurted.
"Michael told us what? Are you two using telepathy again? Speak words!" Paul said, testily.
"About Annie." Moira whispered to Paul without covering the receiver.
"Oh, right." Paul whispered back.
"What did he say? How does he know anything? I mean, there's nothing to know." Adam felt thoroughly confused and couldn't understand why he was being so defensive.
"Michael just said that some very nice and very attractive woman came to your aid Thursday night when he took you home sick from the office. And that the woman with the baby next door told him you two were dating." Paul said, smugly pleased that he finally had a bit of information to contribute.
"One movie. We went to a movie. That's all. We're friends." Adam sputtered, but the memory of their kiss in Annie's kitchen came to the forefront of his mind, and he wasn't able to erase it fast enough to prevent his mother from seeing it.
"Oh, Adam, I'm so happy for you!" Moira said, warmly.
"Me too, me too." Paul joined in although he couldn't read Adam's mental images, he was overjoyed that his son was displaying even a slight interest in women. Before Paul had found out Adam was his son, they had been friends and he'd had no concern about Adam's lack of a social life. But with Moira back into his life, and discovering that Adam was his own child, it had become a preoccupation for him. At first Adam thought that he and Moira wanted grandchildren or some such nonsense. But talking to them now, he understood it was because they were so in love with each other, they had simply wanted Adam to have the same experience.
"Uh, thanks… what time's the get together?" Adam tried to change the subject.
"One o'clock on Sunday, April 7th. We'll be back the Friday before, it you want to come out to Colvos for dinner." His mother said. You could bring Annie then.
"Okay, I will. And I'll let my friends know about the party." Adam answered. No. Now I have to get off the phone. I'm supposed to make an important call.
"See you soon, sweetie. We love you," Moira said.
"Me, too. 'Bye." Adam hung up the phone. He picked it up again to dial Annie's number, and realized he didn't know it. What was her last name? He didn't know that either! Should he call Neela and Jam? Not on his life. Too many people's energies were all over him and Annie already. Adam sat down in the kitchen and closed his eyes. He grounded and centered, and took a deep breath. Then he allowed numbers to come into his mind. He punched them into the phone, and waited as it rang.
"Hi. It's Annie. Leave a message! I'll get back to you," said her answering machine.
"Uh, Annie, it's Adam, I ... am ... just ... calling ... because ...." click. It cut him off.
Adam hung up the phone. He decided not to call again, because he couldn't think of anything else to say. He went into the other room to get out of his wet clothes and take a shower.
Under the hot stream of water, he felt his muscles relax. They ached, but in a good way. He enjoyed his treks to Mt. Rainier, throwing his sleeping bag out in his favorite spot. Last night he'd slept covered in plastic because it was raining, and he still enjoyed it. If only it wasn't 1996… he'd have preferred to live out in the woods. It felt more inviting to him than being encased in a building. It was odd that he should be an architect and design such structures, when he enjoyed nature so much. But even architecture was working with nature, just on a different level. He got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around himself, and walked into his bedroom. There was a mirror on his door, left from the days when Paul had lived there. Adam never normally looked in it, but this time he caught sight of himself. He looked different to himself, somehow. Staring back a him was a tall, brown-eyed man with dark, dripping wet hair. His body hadn't changed perceptibly since it had grown to adulthood. He'd always been tightly muscular, a little on the thin side, and covered with a thin layer of dark hair. He reflectively felt his chest and thought of Annie. Oh, that was it. Annie's energy was still there. He started to move it out and the phone rang.
"Hello, Adam? Sorry I missed your call." Annie's voice sounded tired.
"Well, I'm sorry I didn't call sooner, I was out of town all weekend." Adam said.
"Oh, that's okay," Annie said, nonchalantly. "How are you feeling?"
Adam got the impression that it wasn't okay, but that Annie didn't want him to know it wasn't okay. "I'm fine; I just came back from Mount Rainier ."
"Oh, really? Did you have fun?" Annie asked.
Adam could tell she was using all her energy not to lecture him about riding in the rain. He appreciated her self-control. "Yes. I loved it. We should go there sometime," he found himself saying. He felt a wave of affinity from Annie and knew he'd said the right thing.
"I'd like that," Annie said softly, stifling a yawn.
Adam thought about suggesting the next weekend, and remembered his parent's party. "Oh, my Mom and Dad want to invite the Three Housepainteer's to Colvos on Easter. They're having a small party at their place."
"When's Easter?" Asked Annie. Adam could tell she was fading fast.
"Next Sunday. Do you think you ... er, three could make it?" Adam asked.
"Um. Think so. I'll ask Jam tomorrow. Uh, Adam?" Annie mumbled.
"Yes, Annie?" Adam became conscious that he was standing in the kitchen, dripping wet wearing nothing but a towel. His wet hair was starting to get chilly.
"I have to go to sleep now," Annie stated, sounding like a little child.
"Okay, I'll let you go." Adam smiled. "Sweet dreams." The words came out of his mouth before he realized they could have a double meaning.
"Night Night." Annie said, and hung up.
Adam stood there staring at the phone. Why this person? Why this connection? Why was it growing easier to let her in? He needed to meditate, so he went back to his bedroom, threw on a tee shirt and boxer shorts, and went to his favorite spot. He closed his eyes and suddenly felt himself sitting by a radiator and tropical plants. He opened his eyes. His living room. He closed his eyes. Her living room.
"Go to sleep, Annie!" he said aloud. Then he closed his eyes again. His living room. That was better. He did his nighttime routine and then went to sleep himself.