For The Least Of These, page 21
Before driving away, I made a decision about my life. I had known for some time that I was never going to write another song for Rick Hartwood. In the past decade or so, I had written a few songs for other musicians, but I was largely regarded as someone who wrote exclusively for Rick. I was ready to move on. I wasn’t sure what came next. I had even toyed with the idea of recording some of the songs myself, but so far I hadn’t gained enough confidence to pursue this idea yet. All I knew was that I wasn’t working with Rick any longer, and I needed to let him know.
I took out my cell phone and called Rick. He answered right away. “Hey, Adam! You still being Mr. Good Samaritan?”
I was surprised that Rick even knew that expression, and I was certain he had no idea where it came from. “I dropped the girls off earlier. I just wanted to call and tell you that I won’t be joining you in LA…”
“Did Alicia give you any messages for me? She must be really missing me by now and plenty sorry she didn’t come on the road with me…”
“Alicia didn’t even mention you after we left Biloxi. I think she might have been using you so you wouldn’t take advantage of Brandy. But I didn’t call to discuss Alicia…”
“Hold on, Adam. You are wrong about Alicia. She and I made a connection. I’ve been thinking about calling her all day, but I don’t have a number for her.”
“Look, Rick! You can worry about Alicia and all of your other women later. I’ve got something to say and you are going to listen. I’m done. I will not be joining you in LA or anywhere else. If you decide to continue recording, you will need to find you a new songwriter. I’ve written my last song for you.”
“What? Are you out of your mind? We’re a team, Adam. You can’t just walk out on me.”
“I can and I am. There’s no contract binding me to you. I’ve had it with this life we’ve been living. I’m a different person now. I can’t do this anymore.”
“Ah, yes. You were reborn. I remember. And I’m not making fun of you. I kind of understand what you mean. We’ve been out of control for a long time, and you think we need to straighten up. I’ve been thinking the same thing. We can redefine ourselves. I could even record one of those Christian songs that you’ve been fiddling with…”
Leave it to Rick to try and turn my salvation into a profit making scheme. “No. I’m done with you, Rick. You aren’t going to change – you don’t want to change. I’m starting a new life – one that doesn’t include you.”
“With Brandy?” Rick laughed as he said her name. “Give me a break. At least you could fall for someone interesting – like Alicia.”
I couldn’t take anymore of Rick, so I shut my phone. He tried to call me back, but I ignored the call and then switched it off.
After that, I headed straight to the airport. I turned in my rental car and caught a flight to Raleigh. My own car, a red Nissan 350Z, was waiting for me in long term parking where it had been since the previous Christmas. I drove over to my parents’ home in Cary – about a twenty minute drive. My parents were happy to see me, and I stayed a few days in their home. It didn’t take long for me to figure out what was going on with their marriage. I decided to house my car in their garage – I didn’t want to get it dinged up in a motel parking lot – and I drove my father’s old Dodge pickup into Raleigh to find a place to stay. The motel I chose was about a ten minute drive from my parents’ house, and I prepared to do some soul searching over my recent bout with Fisher and my feelings about Brandy.
Several weeks into my stay at the Ramada Inn, my mother phoned to tell me that two police officers had been by her house asking for me. She said they were from Gulfport, Mississippi. I didn’t really think much about it since they didn’t tell my mother why they were looking for me. As a well-known celebrity, I’ve had fans try all kinds of tactics to get a chance to meet me. I just imagined that these were two very creative and determined fans. My mother had told them that she hadn’t seen me in months and the men had left. I didn’t think any more about it at the time, but in light of my recent adventure, maybe I should have.
Somewhere around this same time, I began to realize that I had to see Brandy. I had come to the conclusion that no matter how crazy it seemed, I was in love with her. I was hopeful that she had found Jesus since we parted. I felt strongly that she was going to find her way, I just wasn’t sure she had yet. If not, I would just have to encourage her as much as I could. I would also have to conceal my true feelings for her until I was certain of her salvation. As much as the thought hurt me, our love would never survive if she remained lost. That’s all assuming that she was even in love with me.
I packed my bags and checked out of the Ramada. My father agreed to take me to the airport. That was Friday morning. I arrived in Pensacola late that afternoon, waited for what seemed an eternity to rent a car, and then began my search for Brandy. Of course, she wasn’t at the house I had dropped her off at when I’d brought her home from Biloxi. Her roommate seemed extremely annoyed that I was asking about her, and he refused to tell me where she might be. He seemed a little jealous, but I had believed Brandy when she had told me that she and this man were not lovers. I decided that I was just imagining his hostility and that he was just annoyed at an interruption to his day.
The only other place I knew to look was at Alicia’s house. Alicia and her parents were not at home. I drove around for a while hoping they would return before the night got too late. I stopped off at the Oyster Bar and had some dinner. At around eight-thirty, I headed back to Alicia’s. There was still no one at home and I was beginning to think that the night was shot. I filled up with gas at a station about a mile from Alicia’s house. I was thinking I should get a room for the night, but I decided to take one more drive by Alicia’s. As luck would have it, there was a car in the drive and lights were on inside the big house. I pulled in, walked up to the door, and knocked.
The woman that answered reminded me of Alicia. She had salt-and-pepper hair hanging to her shoulders, beautiful blue eyes, and an infectious smile. “May I help you, young man?”
“I’m sorry to bother you so late at night. My name is Adam Considine. I drove Alicia and Brandy back from Biloxi when Brandy had the misfortune with her car.”
“Oh, yes. That was so sweet of you…”
“I’m trying to find Brandy. She’s not at her house, and I don’t really know where else to look for her. Do you know where she might be?”
“I can do better than that. Brandy now has a cell phone, and I have the number for it.”
She disappeared into the house for a moment and then returned with a small piece of paper which had a phone number written on it. She handed me the paper and said, “I’m Mrs. Meyer, Alicia’s mom. I do hope you will come back and have dinner with us sometime. I’d like to show my appreciation for you getting my girls home safely.”
“It would be an honor, Mrs. Meyers. I look forward to it. And thank you so much for Brandy’s number.”
“I’m pretty sure she’s across town at that karaoke bar called Three Sheets. I jotted their address on the back of that paper for you. Alicia and Brandy think I don’t know that place is a bar, but I’m no dummy…” She chuckled and then said, “Don’t give away my secret.”
I wished Mrs. Meyers a goodnight and then return to my car. I decided that I might as well drive over to the bar and surprise Brandy. I entered the address into the car’s navigation system and then left the Meyers’ yard heading north.
About half way across town, I realized that it might not be such a good idea to walk into the bar and surprise Brandy. After all, I didn’t know what she’d been doing in the last two months. She could have moved on with her normal life, and I might be the one to get a surprise. I briefly considered the thought that I should have attempted to contact her from Raleigh and thereby avoided a broken heart, but at this point, that line of thinking was a waste of time. I pulled to the side of the road and dialed the number Mrs. Meyers had given me.
“Brandy, this is…”
“Adam! Oh my God! Is it actually you? But how did you get my number? Never mind. Where are you? Please tell me you are in Pensacola…”
“Yes, I’m in Pensacola. I really need to see you. I’m heading to where you are – Three Sheets, I believe it’s called.”
“No, don’t come here. Let me come to you. We can’t talk here – it’s too loud. Where are you?”
“I’m on um…Fairfield or something. I’m pulled off the road in the parking lot of Dolly Madison Cake Company. Do you know where that is?”
“I do. Just down and across the street is a Krystal. I love Krystal, so let’s meet there. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll be waiting inside.”
I drove over to the Krystal. I wasn’t hungry after my late dinner, so I bought a drink and sat down. The Krystal was relatively empty. There was one couple sitting on the other side of the room. They were extremely young and I imagined that they were here on a date. The boy had eight Krystal boxes and a large fry in front of him while the girl had only two Krystal boxes sitting in front of her. I was reminded of Brandy and the first time she ate in front of me. She tried to hold back so I wouldn’t think she was a big eater. Like that would ever matter to me. I’ve never judged anyone based on their appetite. And if Brandy thought I would judge her on her weight, she was wrong about that too. After all, my mother was a large woman and my sister Siobhan had been on the chunky side too. I wasn’t bothered by a few extra pounds; in fact, I didn’t usually even notice something like that. It was sad that Brandy and others like her had been conditioned to think that all men judged them based on their body size.
I saw Brandy when she drove up. She was driving a blue Camry, and it just didn’t seem to fit. That stupid green Gremlin had been the perfect car for her. I wanted to jump up and run to her, and it took every ounce of my strength to prevent me from doing it. She had seemed excited to hear my voice when I called, but I had to be certain.
I watched her longingly as she opened the door to Krystal. As soon as she spotted me, I knew I shouldn’t have worried. She came bounding towards me, and I allowed myself to stand up and catch her in my arms. Her kiss wrote a song on my soul. I didn’t want it to ever stop, but there was so much to say. I just didn’t realize that Brandy was the one who had to say it.
“Adam, I have so much to tell you. I’ve been reading your Bible and going to church. Most important of all – I have been reborn. Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and it is all thanks to you. Well, not all thanks to you, but the Holy Spirit let you help lead me to this. Adam, I love you so much.”
I was delighted to hear what Brandy said, and yet I also feared that her love for me wasn’t the same love that I felt for her. I worried that she now only loved me as a sibling in Christ. While that was wonderful, I wanted so much more. Especially now that she was saved. I tried to encourage her without revealing any of my feelings. “That’s so incredible, Brandy! It is everything I had hoped for you. God is good and so amazing.”
Brandy smiled, but she looked a little let down. “Didn’t you hear me, Adam? I said I love you.”
“Yes, I heard you. I love you too.”
“No, I mean I really love you. Just like I always thought I did. Now I know for sure.”
I was the happiest man on Earth – she truly loved me. “And I love you, Brandy. Really love you. You are all I’ve thought about for the last two months.”
We kissed again briefly. Krystal wasn’t the place to exhibit this kind of behavior, so I told Brandy we should talk. She told me she was hungry, and I found that I was also ravenous. I went up to the counter and bought us some Krystals and some fries. While we ate, we talked about our feelings for each other. We sat in Krystal for several hours just talking about all kinds of things. In the early hours of Saturday morning, I told Brandy that we had to go somewhere and get some rest. It was almost 4am by the time we got to a hotel and I got us a couple of rooms. It would have been easy to take Brandy to bed that night, but my desire for a meaningful and lasting relationship with her kept me from making that mistake. Brandy understood – in fact, she even encouraged my decision. It seemed she had grown a lot in these two months.
We spent the next few days getting to know each other. We talked about God, and Brandy told me about the exact moment she got saved. We stayed away from other people so we could focus on God and each other – except on Sunday when Brandy took me to the church she had been attending.
After church on Sunday, Brandy’s roommate Terry called her cell phone. She started to ignore it, but I told her he might be worried about her, so she answered. Terry was concerned since Brandy hadn’t been home. She apologized, but Terry would have no part of it. He was yelling at her and she finally hung up on him. She said that he told her that he knew she was with “another man.” It was pretty clear to both of us that Terry felt more for Brandy than she had previously thought. He didn’t call again, and we soon forgot all about him.
We decided to go out to eat on Sunday night. We dined at a seafood restaurant that overlooked Pensacola Bay. After we finished eating, we stood and looked out across the bay. The sky was dark and the water was choppy, but it was beautiful. We got back into the car and headed home. Before we had driven very far, Brandy remembered that she had put her purse on the top of the car while we were enjoying the view. I stopped and she scrambled out, but her purse was gone. We drove back looking for the purse, but we had no luck. Fortunately, Brandy was only carrying her driver’s license and some personal items in the purse. She had left her credit cards and cash in the safe at the hotel.
On Tuesday, we learned that a hurricane was heading towards Pensacola. Brandy had a notion that we should go to her parents’ home before the storm arrived. She felt their home was extremely safe and in a good location. I suggested that we pick up her parents and leave town, but she assured me that her father would never be persuaded to go. So I agreed that I would go the next day, although I was nervous about meeting her parents. Brandy then realized that she hadn’t been in touch with her parents since the week before, and she began to fret that they might be concerned about her absence. She finally decided to go and spend the night with them on Tuesday night. I had something that I wanted to do without Brandy, so I told her we could meet the next day when I dropped off my rental car.
The following morning, I got up early. Brandy had no idea what I was planning to do today. I still couldn’t believe that I had decided to propose to her. I mean, I had only known her for two months, and we’d only spent a grand total of seven days together. Still, I knew in my heart that she was the one for me. At 40, I had never before been in love. I had never even met a woman that gave me pause to think of settling down or even having a meaningful relationship. And now I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Brandy. Hurricane or no hurricane, I was going to ask her to marry me tonight – so I had to have a ring.
I headed down to the lobby of the hotel to check out. I’d already loaded my belongings into the rental car, so all I had to do was return the key card to the desk. As I was about to round the corner from the elevator, I heard a man mention my name. He was asking the desk clerk for my room number. At first I thought: Another crazy fan. But then I realized that there was very little chance of any of my fans or Rick’s knowing that I was in town – especially since I had spent most of my time in Pensacola in my hotel room. I peeked around the corner and was amazed to see a deputy standing at the desk. The clerk was trying to establish the officer’s reason for needing my room number. I heard the officer say, “It’s official business. Just tell me where he is.”
I couldn’t imagine why an officer was asking for my room number. I guess I panicked, although I don’t know why. I could easily afford the additional charge on my credit card for failing to return the key card to my room, so I decided to avoid the officer and just
Still feeling exposed and knowing that every cop in town would soon be looking for me, I decided to ditch the rental car. I drove through more back roads and finally found a parking lot that was quite crowded. I pulled in and after weaving in and out of several aisles, I finally found an empty spot near the center of the lot. There wasn’t a soul walking around and I noticed this was the parking lot for a large factory of some sort. Apparently, work had already started and hadn’t been cancelled due to the storm. And luckily, I hadn’t arrived during a shift change. I shoved some extra clothes into my backpack and abandoned the rest of my belongings. I then jogged to the edge of the lot and walked out onto the sidewalk in front of the building.
I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I continued walking up the street. There was very little traffic and even fewer pedestrians. This worried me a little, since I could be easily spotted by a passing police cruiser. It was also raining pretty heavily and the winds were daunting. I had never experienced a hurricane before, but I knew I didn’t want to be outside when it arrived. I had to find somewhere that I could go indoors.
Around this time, my cell phone started ringing. I saw that the call was from Brandy. I almost answered, but then I decided to let it ring through to voicemail. I didn’t want Brandy to worry, and I felt certain that if she couldn’t hear the wind and guess that I was out in the weather, she’d still know something was wrong when she heard my voice. I trudged on through the rain.
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