CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SEVEN
“Shall we go in?” Jacob asked.
“One more thing,” Jill said.
He raised his eyebrows.
“Are they paying their loan back?” Jill asked.
“They just started.” Jacob nodded. “This month.”
“How many more of these projects are we involved in?” Jill asked.
“Eight,” Jacob said. “They start paying when they are up and running.”
“Some loan,” Jill said.
“How much a month are they paying?” Jill asked.
Jacob told her.
“Percentage rate?” Jill asked.
He told her. She sucked in a breath in surprise.
“The fees are loaded in the beginning so most of their monthly goes to pay off their debt,” Jacob said.
“This is a part of that big mysterious debt?” Jill asked.
“It is,” Jacob said.
“Why is that funny?” Jacob asked.
“I just …” Jill shrugged. He shook his head that he had no idea what she was saying. “I have worried, a lot, about that debt.”
“Why?” Jacob asked. “I’ve told you that it would pay off. Didn’t I say that it was investments?”
“Yeah, but …” Jill said.
She looked at him, and he laughed. She gave him a relieved smile.
“At least you’re not offended,” Jill said.
“Because you think I’m an idiot?” Jacob asked.
Jill opened her mouth in mock indignation. He laughed.
“I just …” Jill said. “You know, you hear about bachelors and their ‘debts.’”
“Booze and broads?” Jacob asked with a saucy grin.
Jill laughed at herself. They started walking toward the room. Jill stopped short.
“Is that what Aden’s debt is, too?” Jill asked.
“He’s not involved in this project,” Jacob said. “Like I said, I bought the property a long time ago.”
“But this kind of thing,” Jill said.
“Sure. Blane, too,” Jacob said with a nod. “It’s a great way to tuck money away when you have it. You never know when you won’t have any money. These projects take a long time to start to pay off, but they usually pay off.”
Jill was more relieved than she wanted him to know. She simply smiled.
“I’m glad you’re okay with this,” Jacob said.
“Why?” Jill asked.
“This is a good time to get involved in another,” Jacob said. “Roll the money we make off this into another project.”
Jill looked at him for a moment.
“We can talk about it later,” Jacob said.
He winked at her, and, as always, her heart fluttered. Grinning, he nodded to the door.
He used a keycard to open the door. Jill was drawn into the room. A table was set with all of her favorite not temperature dependent foods. She grinned. The food could sit there until they were ready to eat. There was champagne in a bucket.
Then she noticed the view. She gasped and floated past the table to the view.
From this location, she could see the glistening water of the South Platte with the Rocky Mountains in the background. She wasn’t sure why but the amusement park and numerous condos and apartment buildings that line the South Platte weren’t seen in this view.
“The hotel is angled on the lot over the park so we see the mountains and not the rest of the mess,” Jacob said in answer to her question.
He slipped his hands around her waist. They stood watching the gorgeous view for a long moment.
“I have something for you,” Jacob said.
He dropped a knuckled sized blue rock in her hand.
“What is it?” Jill asked.
“Blue diamond,” Jacob said. “You know, from the mine?”
Jill stared at the diamond in her hand. After a moment, she looked up at him.
“I thought we could get it cut and made into whatever you want,” Jacob said. “It’s big enough to make something for the kids too, if you’d like.”
“You just ‘got’ this from the mine?” Jill asked.
“Sort of,” Jacob said, shifting uncomfortably. “Why?”
“I had the Marlowe diamond appraised,” Jill said.
“It’s worth a fortune,” Jill said. She moved her hand up and down. “This thing, right here? It’s three times the size of the Marlowe diamond. It’s got to be worth … many millions or more!”
Jacob wasn’t sure what to say. He just looked at her. After an uncomfortable moment, he said, “And?”
“You just found this?” Jill asked. “The reason the Marlowe diamond is worth so much money is because they are so rare. Are you saying we have an entire mine filled with these things?”
Jacob scratched his chin.
“Yes?” Jill asked.
“This is a lovely view, isn’t it?” Jacob asked.
Jill laughed at him.
“I’m just saying …” Jill said.
Jacob kissed her and held her tight.
“I know that the last few years have been tough,” Jacob said. “We gave up our financial security to secure Lipson’s employees health insurance. There were times when money was really tight.”
Not sure why, Jill felt a well of pain and sorrow rise inside her. Rather than let him see her pain, she pressed her face into his chest.
“We are in this together,” Jacob said. “You are not alone in the middle of the sea of our financial life. It’s not up to you alone to carry the load.”
“I just …” Jill said.
He held on. She sighed and looked up at him.
“Do I still have to work?” Jill asked.
“I thought you wanted to work!” Jacob laughed. “‘I am not a kept woman’ and all of that.”
“I do but …” Jill said.
He looked at her.
“I miss the kids,” Jill said finally.
“I know,” Jacob said and hugged her again. After a moment, he pulled back to look at her. “Was this a bad idea?”
“I …” Jill shook her head. She put her hand over her heart. “I want to be here but …”
“So much worry,” Jacob said.
“Rage,” Jill said. “Hopelessness. Not you, just everything.”
Looking up at him, she saw his compassion and love for her. She gave him a soft smile.
“What if we try to set that aside for a few hours?” Jacob kissed her lips. “Restore our spirits before returning to the world.”
Biting her lip, Jill nodded.
“I want that,” Jill said.
“Would you like to eat?” Jacob asked.
She leaned back to look at him. Grinning, he led her to the bed.
Jill washed her hands and left the bathroom.
“Would you like to eat our lunch?” Jacob asked.
“I’m starving,” Jill said.
Smiling, he got out of bed and pulled out a chair for her.
“I’m naked,” Jill said. “So are you!”
“All the better,” Jacob said. He nodded to the seat. “Shall we?”
Laughing at the impropriety, she sat down. He sat next to her. They ate their meal.
Friday evening — 5:35 p.m.
Pierre Semaines awoke to the sensation of the point of a sword pressing into his neck. Shocked, he opened his eyes. He looked at the sword and then the man-like person who was holding it.
“That sword won’t work on me,” Pierre said, mildly.
“And why is that?” the man asked.
“That is the Sword of Death, is it not?” Pierre said.
“What if it is?” the man asked.
“Try it,” Pierre said.
The man moved the blade away from Pierre’s neck and slid it down Pierre’s arm.
“As I said,” Pierre said.
The man squinted at Pierre. Undaunted, Pierre looked back. They assessed each other for a moment before Pierre shrugged.
“Good genes,” Pierre said. “Who might you be?”
“I am Perses,” the man said.
“The Titan?” Pierre asked.
Perses didn’t respond to such stupid questions. Instead, he looked at the sword.
“It’s been a long time since I checked, but I thought that you were in Zimbabwe,” Perses said.
“Rhodesia,” Perses said.
“Ah,” Pierre said. “You were outed in the revolution.”
Perses glared at Pierre.
“I thought the Sword of Death was lost,” Pierre said. “Were you looking for it in Zimbabwe?”
“Looking for it?” Perses asked, squinting at Pierre. “It was made for me. I’ve never lost possession of it.”
“That makes more sense,” Pierre said. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You threatened my grandchild,” Perses said.
“I what?” Pierre asked. He thought for a moment and then laughed. “The boy or the girl?”
“The girl,” Perses said. “Katy. She is my youngest daughter’s child.”
“The mother who insists that Katy is a child?” Pierre laughed. “Now, that does make sense.”
Perses raised the sword again and then thought better of it.
“She said that the boy is carrying the Sword of Truth,” Pierre said. “How is that possible?”
“How is anything possible?” The man gave Pierre an impassive look.
Pierre scowled. The Titan could not kill him but he was under no obligation to answer Pierre’s questions.
“Fair enough,” Pierre said finally. He let out a breath. “I was quite charmed by the girl. And, I did not threaten her, and you know it.”
“Knowing about her is dangerous for her,” Perses said. “I came to impress upon you the need to hold your tongue.”
“You are telling me to keep the secret?” Pierre laughed.
Perses scowled. There was a knock on the door and Nelson stuck his head into his father’s room.
“Papa?” Nelson asked.
Pierre raised his eyebrows to Perses.
“My son,” Pierre said.
“He can’t see me,” Perses said, under his breath.
“Mr. Roper, isn’t it?” Nelson asked. Pierre gave Perses a hard look. “I didn’t realize that you were here.”
Perses glanced at Pierre, who simply smiled.
“Nelson!” Perses said. He stuck the sword into his belt where it disappeared. “Lovely to see you.”
“Did you come to show dad your sword?” Nelson asked. “You probably don’t remember but we talked about my dad’s collection at one of those parties at the Castle.”
“That’s right,” Perses said, chuckling. “You did tell me about your father’s collection of swords. Remind me again — why do you collect swords?”
“Family heirlooms,” Nelson said at the same time Pierre said, “Sacred duty.”
Perses blinked at the men. He plastered what he called his “stupid human” smile on his face.
“I will leave you to it,” Perses said, and left the room. “My granddaughter is having an impromptu piano recital.”
Perses gestured outside the room.
“You are most welcome to come,” Perses said.
With a nod to Pierre, Perses left the room.
“Papa,” Nelson said. Falling into French, he continued, “How are you?”
“Good,” Pierre replied in French. “Tell me about your day.”
Nelson shook his head. They continued the conversation in French.
“I want to know about you,” Nelson said. “What was that about with Mr. Roper? You know, I think he’s Perses, the Titan God of Destruction.”
“Oh my dear boy,” Pierre said. “We have plenty of time to talk swords, old Gods, and other family issues. I would love to hear about you.”
Nodding, Nelson sat down.
“Now, tell me everything about Blane,” Pierre said. “Have you met the children? Heather? Have you kissed? Or …?”
“Papa, that’s …” Nelson blushed. “You know that I’m gay?”
“Since you were a young child,” Pierre said.
“And you don’t have a problem with it?” Nelson asked.
“It’s a family heirloom,” Pierre said repeated Nelson’s words and added a mimicking shrug.
Nelson opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. He shook his head.
“How do you know Blane?” Nelson asked.
“He’s my acupuncturist,” Pierre said.
“Of course he is,” Nelson said with a laugh.
Friday evening — 6:30 p.m.
“Do stay for dinner,” Maresol said as she led Jill and Jacob through the house. “I know the kids were looking forward to playing for you.”
Jill and Jacob entered the newly remodeled kitchen and den.
“This is lovely,” Jill said. She glanced at Jacob.
“It came out well,” Jacob said, mildly.
“Seth wants to redo the upstairs,” Maresol said. “We were hoping you would be able to help, Jill.”
The need to remodel this area of Seth’s home had come about the same time that Jill was having her twins. She wasn’t able to help and, of course, Maresol knew exactly what she wanted.
“Happy to help,” Jill said.
“But why isn’t the coffee pot bigger?” Seth repeated in oft uttered complaint.
Maresol rolled her eyes, and Ava laughed from where she was sitting at the bar. Ava’s lab members Leslie and Fran turned around from the seats at the bar to introduce themselves. Nelson came out of a room off the main den with his father.
“Nelson!” Jacob said.
He went to say hello to Nelson. He stopped short and looked up.
“No don’t!” Pierre yelled.
Everyone turned to look at them.
“You realize there is a ghost here?” Jacob asked with a derisive sniff.
“Yes, yes, I just learned that,” Pierre said. “Please.”
“You should not waste your life with those who have none,” Jacob said.
“She watches over me. Our son,” Pierre said. “Please. I have just learned that she was there.”
“Your daughter told me about her,” Pierre said.
“Papa?” Nelson asked. “What is going on?”
“It is against my better judgment I will leave her,” Jacob said.
“Thank you,” Pierre said. He squinted at Jacob. “Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Blane Lipson?”
“He’s my cousin,” Jacob said. “I’m Jacob Marlowe. My father is Sam Lipson. Blane and I are very close. We have even traded places when necessary.”
Pierre grinned at Jacob.
“I’m sorry,” Jill said. “I’m Jill. My husband is usually not such an asshole.”
“No, no,” Pierre said. “I understand. We all have our things.”
“Nelson,” Jill said.
To Nelson’s surprise, Jill hugged him. She kissed his cheek.
Jacob gave the ghost the evil eye. When the ghost laughed at him, Jacob realized that she looked nearly exactly like Nelson. When Jill released Nelson, Jacob shook his hand.
“Nelson,” Jacob said. “I can’t tell you how sorry we were about last night.”
“Yes,” Nelson said. “Me, too. And … overall, it was really good for me. I was able to work through things that I had shoved into a dark corner of my mind. I’ve reconnected with my father. I even had a chance to speak with M.J.”
“Junior?” Pierre asked. “Is that so?”
“Yes,” Nelson said. He smiled and nodded to Pierre before turning back to Jacob. “I do I feel foolish for having made such a scene.”
“Oh well,” Jacob said with a shrug. “When you live with a lot of people, someone is always making a scene.”
“Usually it’s Fin,” Jill said with a laugh.
Nelson and Jacob laughed with her.
“Who is Fin?” Pierre asked.
“Prince Finegal of Queen Fand’s realm,” Nelson said.
“Tu connaise les fée?” Pierre’s head jerked to look at his son. Switching to English, he managed to add, “You know that they cannot be trusted!”
“I have met them through your acupuncturist,” Nelson said with a laugh.
Pierre blushed before quickly recovering himself.
“We were coming for the recital,” Pierre said with a grin. “Your charming daughter came to invite me. I could not say ‘no’.”
Jacob put his hand on Pierre’s arm.
“Can I help you inside?” Jacob asked.
Pierre shook his head.
“It’s good for me to walk,” Pierre said. “I don’t need my son’s assistance. I want to keep him close.”
“Of course,” Jacob said.
Jacob and Jill waited for them to take seats at the table. They sat down on the couch. Pierre leaned into Nelson.
“They have the smell of the first woman,” Pierre said. “I have heard that she consorts with Prince Finegal.”
Nelson laughed out loud. Colin and Julie Hargreaves came in the den. As they were greeted everyone, Pierre leaned over.
“Have you met this woman?” Pierre asked.
“Same place,” Nelson nodded.
Nelson nodded. Pierre shook his head in disbelief. Nelson impulsively leaned over to kiss his father’s cheek. Smiling from ear to ear, Pierre’s hand covered the precious kiss. He put his arm around his son.
“You will love them,” Nelson said.
Pierre silently hoped he was right. A young man with long sandy hair and green eyes rolled a baby grand piano into the room. Bernie, Seth’s biological father, came in behind it. The two men set up the bench and the music.
“We are ready,” Bernie said to the two little champions in the doorway.
Katy and Paddie shuffled out toward the piano. For a moment, they looked like they were going to melt into the floor. Bernie touched the children on the shoulder. Paddie recovered first.
“Come on, Katy,” Paddie said.
He took her hand and helped her onto the piano bench. He sat down next to her right. Sam Lipson and Delphie scooted into the room giving Pierre a chance to whisper to Nelson again.
“Can you see the Sword of Truth?” Pierre whispered to Nelson. “Metal? On the boy’s belt?
“Good,” Pierre said.
Katy stood up and Paddie scooted to his left. Katy sat down in front of the upper keys and Paddie was sitting in front of the lower register.
“Hello,” Seth said. “This is Katy Marlowe and Paddie Hargreaves. They’ve taken piano lessons for the last year with my father, Bernie. When I’m in town, they play with me.”
“They are really good, so we thought you’d like to hear them,” Seth said.
Katy started playing the opening lines of the children’s lullaby, Lavender Blue. After a moment, Paddie joined in the song in the lower register. The children played with clear precision. Paddie played the lower register and Katy played the upper. While neither of them seems particularly gifted in the piano, they did a great job with the simple song.
Everyone cheered loudly. Bernie helped them up. As they practiced, Paddie bowed and Katy curtsied. The children were kissed and hugged until they were squirming. With Jacob carrying Katy, he and Jill followed Colin, Paddie, and Julie out the door.
“But …” Katy said when she was clicked into her car seat.
Jacob kissed her cheek and went to the driver’s seat. With an eye on Colin, Jacob made sure he went a different way.
“Weren’t we going to ice cream?” Katy asked. “You said if Paddie and I played we’d go for special ice cream.”
“Do you want to?” Jill asked.
“We thought maybe you’d like to go home and get some rest,” Jacob said.
Katy scowled at her parents but didn’t say anything else. She squealed with delight when Jacob pulled into the parking lot behind Colin.
“I’m really glad,” Katy said.
“Did you think I’d back out on a promise?” Jacob asked.
“I was going to turn you into a frog!” Katy said.
Jacob laughed. Jill came to his side and slipped her hand into his. Katy ran ahead to catch up with Paddie.
“Do you think she can do that?” Jill asked.
“I don’t want to find out,” Jacob said.
Jill smiled and they walked toward the ice cream shop.
“What are we going to do when she turns thirteen?” Jacob asked.
Not knowing how to respond, Jill just laughed. Smiling at her, Jacob shook his head and followed her inside.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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