Inside the small alcove that tried to hide Bea’s front door, Sam was sitting at a cute wrought iron table. Next to it, a large silver pot held white calla lilies, a gift from Dara Rue. Bea noted that Sam had changed his clothes, his suitcase was nowhere in sight.
Must’ve gone home first.
She quickly signed for the driver and gave him a larger tip for the extra ride to Benedict’s home. As she walked over to her entryway, she noted Sam’s long jean-clad legs crossed as he sat there, his face serious as he scrolled through his phone. Hearing her wheeled suitcase, he glanced up, then stood. His face remained serious.
“Hey, sorry I’m late. Was the traffic bad for you, too?” Bea asked, trying to keep the sudden fear out of her voice.
Sam nodded, then quietly said, “It was hell. It always is.”
“Hmmm. LA traffic, what can you do?”
Bea tried to keep it light even though she felt Sam’s tension, saw it in his tired, serious look.
Sam stood there, one hand inside his jeans’ pocket, the other pushing his glasses up his nose. The trickling noise from the alcove’s water feature was suddenly horrific to Bea’s ears.
“Umm … do you want to come inside?” Bea asked. She felt a little breathless, unsure of how to approach the situation. “I mean I don’t have a whole lot inside. And maybe it’s a bit soon to ask.”
“No,” Sam said. “Earlier today I wouldn’t have thought it was too soon.” He waved his hand between Bea and himself and said, “But now I’m thinking this needs to wait.”
Bea felt hot tears filling her eyes. “Why? I think we’re good, could be great in time.”
“We are good together,” Sam agreed. “I think so, too. But I can’t compete – won’t compete – with Benedict Chandler.”
“There’s no competition!”
“Oh, yes, there is!” Sam’s voice suddenly thundered in the small space, drowning out the small water fountain nearby.
“He’s my ex-husband – .”
“ – Who you just babysat all the way home from New York.”
“Yup. Monitored his alcohol consumption, cleaned up his vomit, helped him back to his seat, got him a goddamn wheelchair to take him to baggage claim, and then took him home!” Sam moved a finger up with each point, his voice also rising. Then he settled down to a normal tone as he said, “You are hardly an ‘ex’ anything, Bea.”
She shook her head, a lone tear starting down her cheek, then dashed it off her face.
Sam wasn’t finished. “And the way he treats you! Calling you woman –”
“—that’s just how he talks to me.”
When Bea didn’t comment on that, Sam asked, “Did he call you bitch when he was married to you?”
Disgust was evident in his voice.
Bea squirmed a bit. “Maybe once in a while.”
Sam was shaking his head. “No woman should ever be spoken to in that way. I preached that to my girls. No woman! Ever!” He again pushed his glasses up. “Is that why you divorced him?”
“Well, that was enough to div—”
“I divorced him because he was cheating on me.” Bea knew by Sam’s silence that he was stunned at her admission. “One too many Hungries in his bed – who I knew about. Probably others that I don’t know about! But that was it.”
“One too many?” Sam looked at Bea with pity in his eyes. “Even one is too many, Bea. That, and the way he treats you – in public! What an asshole!”
“I know, I know.”
“And yet you still take care of him? Get him home. He didn’t even think to get a car organized for himself. Tell me, was he planning on running into you in New York?”
“I don’t know.”
“Has he done this before? Shown up somewhere and expected you to be there for him?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s like he’s got control over you, or something. Is that it? Are you addicted to him?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” Bea let go of her suitcase and brought her hands to cover her face. After a few minutes, she lowered those hands. “He just found out he has cancer,” she told Sam, “said he came to New York for a consult, found out I was there, and asked if I’d help him through it.”
Sam took her hands in both of his.
“That sucks,” he said, his own voice clogged with emotion. “I feel for him. No one should go through that especially alone.” He waited a few minutes, pushed his glasses back up his nose again, then asked, “Why does he think you’re the one to be by his side?”
Now it was Bea’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know exactly,” she said and then grabbed the end of her sleeve and pulled it across her eyes.
“And are you going to do that?” Sam’s eyes were saddened. “Going to be there for him? Going to be his ‘Savior’?” Sam spit out the last word. “Is that what you do? Save everyone? Even ex-husbands?”
Bea shrugged again, fighting back more tears. “I don’t know what to do, Sam.”
“Bea,” he started. “I totally enjoyed the dinner last night, shopping this morning, and even the limo ride to JFK. But the plane ride …” He shook his head, physically shuddering. “You’re a different person around that guy. I wanted us to try and have a friendship, maybe date a while, get to know one another. See where it goes. But I’m not up to competing with—”
“How’s it competition?”
“You aren’t over him,” Sam said. “I know you’re as interested in me as I am in you. Hell! I really, really wanted this to work.” Sam brought his clenched fists to his sides. “But I saw how you couldn’t ignore him during that flight. You had to help him whenever he faltered. Then you had to help him off the plane, get his luggage, take him home, and even get him settled with the housekeeper. What kind of ex-wife does stuff like that?”
“The caring, concerned kind!”
The feisty Bea Owens was returning.
“Don’t you think it’s the good person who looks out for others when they’re in need?” Bea asked.
“Like you did for Lynn Rue?”
“Yeah! Lynn was terribly sick. She’s my best friend; of course, I was there for her,” Bea stated, all the tears gone now, defiance taking hold. “And people like Chloe, a woman who’s modeled for me for years! She deserves my support and whatever else I can do to help her. Or my mother – she doesn’t have cancer, but she still needs my help! And if Benedict Chandler, my ex-husband, my lover for at least twenty years needs my help, then I should give that to him.”
Sam didn’t say anything, but his arms stayed by his sides, his eyes looking at the sidewalk.
“It’s the human thing to do, Sam.”
“You deserve better,” He said, his voice now a whisper. “You certainly don’t deserve to let that guy treat you so badly.”
The silence, aside from the waterfall’s noise, was deepening. Bea didn’t know what to say, how to push for something that she now so desperately wanted. She was totally unprepared for Sam’s question. “And us?”
He’s interested too. I’m not the only one who feels a pull here.
“Why can’t we try to find ‘us’?” Bea asked. “It’s not like I’m cheating on him; I just need to be there for him.”
Sam shook his head. He pulled Bea’s suitcase to the front door, turned, and walked back to her. Gently taking hold of her left bicep, Sam leaned down to softly kiss Bea’s lips.
Bea stood there, flabbergasted.
“I can’t, Bea,” he whispered as he gently rubbed her upper arm. “I wish I could, but I’m not getting wrapped up in another cancer battle for someone that I don’t know — or even like — after today.”
“Another cancer battle?”
“Yeah. Story for another time,” Sam said as he began to walk out of the alcove. “When you’re over Benedict Chandler, look me up. Until then, I wish you only good things.”
Through a haze of tears, Bea watched Sam jogging down the sidewalk, Lynn’s words from long ago echoing in her head.
On Word & Upward!
A phrase that she repeats a lot, Adelyn goofed in an online forum and misspelled onward, thus creating her tagline.
She is the author of Tales of Resilience, novels about strong women and men who overcome illness, oppression, and circumstances of their own making.
For the last seven years, Adelyn works on her own personal challenges, including cancer, brain tumors, strokes, and botched eye surgery all of which made good fodder for her characters. Her goal is to always bring the Happily Ever After to her stories as she personally seeks that for herself.
It started when she wrote about a snowman in fourth grade! Since then, Adelyn has written stories concerning her family, her travels, and what she has witnessed in others’ struggles. The Tales of Resilience encapsulate some of her observations.
When she isn’t writing at her kitchen table, she is reading, calming herself during with long walks, enjoying her granddaughter, reading, hiking with her husband, reading, retail therapy, and reading, or working in her garden. Learning a new word can pull her back to her keyboard or influence a story. She invites you to enjoy her Tales of Resilience, or her personal thoughts on life’s challenges.
So . . .
On Word & Upward!