Thursday morning – 7:30 A.M.
MJ ran through the hospital at full speed. When Jake called their office last night, the entire team began the journey back to Denver. He was lucky to have an LC that put family before anything else. He was lucky even be able to come home. After all, if he was still a Special Forces medic, he wouldn’t be home for months, even years.
Still he cursed himself for not being at home when Honey needed him. He’d talked to her last night. Honey was ‘fine,’ ‘don’t worry,’ but the sorrow in her voice ripped a hole through the center of him. They kept her overnight to make sure she was all right. She’d have the D&C when he got there. If he ever got there.
He picked up the pace. Taking one false step, his prosthesis shoe slid on the polished floors. He was falling when his teammate, Troy, grabbed the back of his shirt. MJ jerked to a halt. Troy set him on his feet again.
“Let’s walk. We’ll get there faster,” Troy said.
Troy patted MJ’s shoulder then pointed to the elevators. Dazed, MJ nodded. He followed Troy onto the elevator.
“What floor?” Troy asked.
“Jake said she’s on the tenth floor. Private room,” MJ said. “I…. Yeah, thanks.”
“No problem,” Troy said. The elevator doors slid open. “Come on.”
Troy pushed MJ out of the elevator. The nurse on duty pointed them toward Honey’s room. Troy held the door open for MJ.
MJ nodded to Honey’s mother, Tiffanie, who was sitting next to Honey’s bed.
“She’s asleep,” Tiffanie said.
Without hesitation, MJ dropped into the bed with Honey. Honey stirred, sighed, then nestled into him. Like watching two hearts merge, MJ and Honey seemed to combine into one unit.
“Coffee?” Troy asked Tiffanie.
“Sure,” Tiffanie said.
Thursday afternoon – 1:20 P.M.
When Jill started working Pete’s night shifts again, she and Jacob fell into an easy rhythm. Except for hockey nights, Jacob took care of Katy. Leaving Katy’s baby monitor with Delphie, he’d pick Jill up from work and they would walk home. They’d share a laugh, dance, make love or hang out. He went to work around 4:30 A.M. Jill took care of Katy in the morning then slept until around one.
In the weeks and months of Jill’s work schedule, Jacob developed the habit of coming home mid-day for ‘lunch.’ With Katy at school, he had Jill’s undivided attention. At lunch, they could talk. They took baths together, went for walks, read poetry to each other, lounged by the fire, baked bread, made snowmen in the backyard and made love. He’d return to work a couple hours later refreshed for another long stint at work.
These precious hours together were the best part of his day.
Entering the loft, he smiled. He could smell the ‘fancy’ bubble bath he bought her. Jill was in the bath. He stripped off his clothing on his way through their bedroom.
“Hi honey, I’m home,” he said at the bathroom door.
Only Jill eye’s peaked over the bubbles. Her eyes flick toward him and she scooched up from the water. Her face lit up.
“I hoped you’d be home soon,” Jill said.
“May I join you?”
“Of course.” She sat up so he could step in.
“She and MJ got home about an hour ago,” Jill said. “They’re both very sad. Poor Honey. She’s lost so much this year. I was hoping a baby would… I don’t know, make up for it, I guess.”
Jacob smiled at Jill’s sweet thought. He stepped into the tub across from her. She shifted so his knees could go outside hers. She held his feet with her hands.
“Her Lipson team have been here off and on,” Jill said. “She’s well loved.”
“Honey?” Jacob leaned forward to kiss her. “She’s a major cog in her team’s wheel. Everyone loves her.”
“They’ve postponed the trial until after the first of the year,” Jill said.
“Hey! You were going to tell me why you don’t want to be a psychic,” Jill said. “I remembered that just before you came home.”
Jacob began caressing her legs with a bath sponge.
“I won’t forget,” Jill said. “You promised you’d tell me. A wedding day promise, even.”
“Notice anything,” Jacob said.
Jill gasped. The bathtub was three feet below her. The bathtub shaped warm water, bubbles and their naked bodies floated in the air.
“I can move objects,” Jacob said. “I can do a bunch of things – know the long term future, stuff like that - but moving object is… special.”
Jill nodded. When she looked down again, they were in the bathtub. She wrapped her hands around the edge of the porcelain claw foot tub for reassurance.
“Marlowe men have the capacity to move objects. Telekinesis is what it’s called.”
“Can you move anything?” Jill asked.
Jill’s hair brush floated across the room to her. She caught it in the air.
“How long have you been….” She set the brush down on the floor and returned to clutching the tub.
“Since before I was born. Remember how Dad said that Mom almost didn’t survive having me?” Jacob said. “Babies want out of the womb. Marlowe male babies can get out, but usually kill their mothers. At least the last hundred years or so. Delphie was able to talk to me, connect with me, and get me to stop trying to get out.”
“Why don’t you want this?”
“I want to be normal. Like my father,” Jacob said. “If people know I can do this, then they’ll think I cheat at sports or life or…. I want a normal life. Big Sam played football, basketball, ran track, and….”
“Do you cheat at sports?”
“Never,” Jacob said. “I mean, I did once when I was a kid. I didn’t even know I was doing it. Dad was there. He knew I cheated. I felt awful… like a complete freak.”
“If Katy had been a boy?”
“You might have had trouble,” Jacob said. “Not every Marlowe male has this….”
“I was going to say curse.” Jacob grimaced. “If we have a boy, this will always be a risk. Valerie’s baby was a boy. That’s probably why she miscarried.”
“But I’m not a psychic,” Jill said. “Mike’s not a psychic.”
“No one really knows how it works,” Jacob said. “My grandfather only had girls, so they thought this curse was over. Then I came along. After Valerie’s baby, we figure that all male Marlowes might have this problem. Historically, there are male Marlowes who don’t have this curse. Recently, it’s been me and my Grandfather.”
“What’s so great about being normal?”
Jacob startled then laughed.
“Oh, Mom said that to me recently,” Jacob said. “I don’t know what’s great about being normal. Normal feels safe, easier, less work. If people know I can do this, they expect things from me that…. I’d rather be simple Jacob. You know how my Grandfather Delbert died?”
Jill shook her head.
“He was killed by Levi Johansen,” Jacob said.
“How awful!” Jill exclaimed.
“My grandfather was protecting Delphie,” Jacob said. “Using telekinesis, Levi squeezed Delbert’s heart until it exploded. Dad and Mom were there. Delbert and Levi had been fighting. My grandfather took a lot of abuse before Levi was able to weaken his defenses enough to do this thing. Levi was found guilty of manslaughter and a few other things. It wasn’t his first offense so he was sentenced to life.”
“He’s out now,” Jill said.
“Unfortunately,” Jacob said. “The good news is they gave him a med in prison that blocked his psychic ability. He’s a little rusty.”
“I hate him,” Jill shook her head.
“One thing I haven’t tried?” Jacob asked.
“Sex,” he said.
“I remember trying sex once or twice with you.”
“You know, without touching,” he said. “Interested?”
“I’m interested in anything that involves you.”
“What?” She asked.
“I don’t think I can do it,” he said. “I want to be involved.”
Jill stepped out of the tub. Grabbing a fluffy bathrobe, she turned to wink at him and went into their bedroom. Laughing, he got out of the tub to join her.
Thursday afternoon – 3: 30 P.M.
“Val, honey, it’s Jen.”
Entering the Castle, Val pulled off her stocking cap. Sarah bound into the kitchen in front of Valerie. She and the yellow Labrador had been out for a run that snowy afternoon when her publicist called. Not wanting to stop, Val asked Jen to call her in twenty minutes.
“Have you seen the media?”
“What media?” Walking through the main living area, Valerie continued to take her outdoor clothing off. “I was running. Did someone take a photo of me running?”
“No, it’s from last night,” Jen said. “Photos from last night.”
“Last night? What do you mean last night?”
“There’s a photo of you with blood on your hands and a smear on your face. You’re standing next to the ambulance. They’re saying your sister attempted suicide and you tried to stop her.”
“What?” Valerie’s enraged voice brought Mike to her.
“Did you think about wearing clothing?” Jen continued. “You’re basically naked. Tiny panties, no bra, UGG boots. That’s big news.”
“My sister had a miscarriage last night,” Valerie said. “Was I supposed to say to her, ‘Gee Honey let me get dressed before I help you off the floor?’ You remember she’s paralyzed?”
“Your producer called,” Jen said. “He wants to know if you’re serious about the movie.”
Valerie didn’t respond. Seeing her distress, Mike wrapped her in his arms. Valerie pressed her forehead against his shoulder.
“You still there?” Jen asked.
“I told him that you were serious about the movie. That you’ve been working out and training in martial arts from some Army guy,” Jen said. “He said he’s seen you on road working machinery and now this. He’s not sure you fit the bill for their movie.”
“And what bill would that be?”
“Vapid orphan actress?” Valerie asked. “Because the issue here is that I’m stalked by the paparazzi while my family has problems.”
“He called your agent. Your agent told him the same thing,” Jen said. “But the producer wants a meeting. He’s willing to fly out to Colorado to meet with you.”
“When will he be here?”
“He’s flying into Aspen,” Jen said. “Can you get up there tonight? He wants to talk to you tonight. He’s thinking you’ll ski tomorrow so he can see how fit you are.”
“I’ll talk to Mike,” Valerie said.
“Oh, I don’t think he wants your husband there,” Jen said. “Val, you know his reputation. This is a ….”
“Booty call,” Valerie said. “I’ve never done that.”
“This is a major motion picture, the big time,” Jen said.
“Would you do something for me, Jen?”
“Anything,” Jen said.
“Can you call him and tell him to fuck off?” Valerie said. “I’ve worked too hard and for too long to be treated like some skanky whore.”
“What’s going on?” Mike asked.
Mike shifted her off his shoulder so he could look at her face. Shaking her head, she pulled him back. She pressed her forehead into his shoulder again.
“Are you sure?” Jen said. “You’ll give up your first chance at a big budget movie.”
“You know, Jen, I never used to look at myself in the mirror,” Valerie said. “I didn’t like what I saw. In the last six months, I’ve been able to look myself in the mirror. And I like what I see.”
“What is it?” Delphie came in from the kitchen.
Mike shrugged and shook his head at Delphie.
“Will you call your agent or do you want me to?”
“I’ll call. Thanks for the heads up, Jen.”
“How’s Honey doing?” Jen asked.
“She’s asleep. MJ’s with her. They had the D & C today. They are both crushed. We’re having a family dinner tonight.”
“Would you like me to clarify with TMZ?” Jen asked. “They’ve called a couple times.”
“Sure, if you want. Can you think of some way to say it?”
“That’s what you pay me for,” Jen said.
“I’m going to go now. After months of starving for this movie, there’s some ice cream and brownies in my immediate future.”
“I’ll let you know what happens,” Jen said.
Valerie closed her phone. She didn’t want to move. She didn’t want to breathe. In Mike’s tight embrace, she felt as if the walls of her dreams were falling around them. Feeling a hand on her back, she looked into Delphie’s kind eyes.
“You did the right thing,” Delphie said.
“Why does it feel so wrong?” Valerie said.
“Because you’re standing up for yourself, your authentic life and your dreams,” Delphie said. “Shall I make you some brownies? Or would you like a cheesecake to celebrate?”
“Can I have both?”
“I’ll get started.” Delphie kissed her cheek.
Valerie returned her forehead to Mike’s shoulder.
“I lost the movie role,” Valerie said. “There’s a picture of me in the driveway last night. They’re saying that Honey tried to kill herself.”
Mike kissed the top of her head and held her closer. Valerie felt tears come then fade. In the cocoon of Mike’s arms, movies didn’t matter very much. She sighed.
“What can I do?” Mike asked.
“Remind me why I need to move from this spot.”
“You don’t,” he said.
“What about hockey? At some point, you’re going to want to play hockey.”
One day later
Friday afternoon – 1: 30 P.M.
“¿Qué haces esta noche?” Tres asked.
“Nada.” Enrique responded. “Por que?”
Stretching the cord on his office phone, Tres closed his office door.
“Jake and Blane were talking about going to the Zoolights tonight,” Tres continued in Spanish. “Heather and Blane are bringing Aden’s kids. Jake’s going with Katy and her friend, Paddie. Jill’s sister and brother are going with their kids.”
“That’s a lot of children,” Enrique responded in Spanish.
“You like children.”
“I do.” Enrique responded.
The brother’s were silent.
“It’s just….” Enrique said at the same time Tres said, “What’s the….”
“You first,” Tres said.
“I’ve been going to the clinic to quit smoking. I see him every week. He’s very professional, but nothing else. I don’t think he’d want to see me.”
“Did you quit smoking?” Tres asked.
“I haven’t smoked in a week,” Enrique said.
“Wow,” Tres said. “Why not celebrate with some Zoolights?”
“We have a chance, brother. We should take the chance to just be around them,” Tres said. “What have we got to lose?”
“Our self respect?”
“You lost yours a long time ago,” Tres said. “I seem to remember a photo of you with fuchsia hair and daisy duke shorts on the cover of Out Front?”
“I’m protecting your self respect,” Enrique said. “As your older brother, I have this obligation.”
Friday Afternoon – 4:45 P.M.
“What do you think?”
Aden held the ring out for Noelle and Nash to see. Nash’s bruises were beginning to yellow but his smile was bright. Noelle took the ring from him.
“It’s beautiful Daddy,” Noelle squealed. “Is it big? I read in Cosmo that girls like BIG diamonds. Is it old? It looks old but new too. I think she’s going to love it. I would love it! I do love it!”
“It’s new and old,” Aden said. “It’s an antique setting but a new diamond. The original diamond was small. I thought she’d like something a little bigger. Do you like it?”
“It’s pretty, Dad,” Nash said. “Really pretty. You’re going to give it to her tonight?”
“Are you getting dressed up?” Noelle asked. “You should shower.”
“You guys seem nervous. Are you nervous about going to the Zoolights? Are you worried the bullies will be there?”
Noelle and Nash shook their heads.
“We don’t want you to ….” Noelle looked at Nash.
“Screw it up,” Nash said.
“Screw what up?” Aden asked.
“We want Sandy to be our Mom,” Noelle’s eyes filled with tears. “We need a Mom and we love Sandy.”
Aden hugged them to him.
“She’s funny and nice and pretty and nice and makes great cookies and cakes and muffins….” Noelle started.
“And brownies.” Nash added.
“And brownies, and we think she should be our Mom.”
“I’ll do my best,” Aden said.
“Go shower!” Noelle said. “You’re almost out of time.”
Laughing, Aden went to shower. As the warm water pounded down on him, he realized he was nervous. He’d never wanted anything as badly as he wanted to spend his life with Sandy. Tonight was a chance to make that dream come true. He only hoped he didn’t screw it up.
Friday evening – 5:20 P.M.
“You know Aden thinks he’s going on a date with Sandy,” Jacob said to Jill.
Jill shrugged. She gave him a thermos filled with hot chocolate. He put it into the backpack he was packing for the Zoolights.
“It’s not very fair to spring the girlfriend tribunal on him,” Jacob said.
“You survived it.” Jill wrinkled her nose at him.
“Just barely. I have a scar right here.” He pointed to a spot on his ribs. “Tanesha stabbed me.”
Jill laughed. He kissed her nose.
“Tanesha is going to the Zoolights with Heather. Blane’s has to finish something at the clinic. He’s going to meet them later.”
“Well, be nice,” Jacob said. “You and Sandy are scary enough on your own!”
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Katy ran toward Jill. “My tights are stuck!”
Katy’s tights were twisted around from going to the bathroom on her own. Jill straightened Katy’s tights then pulled a sweater over her head.
“Daddy has your gloves and hat,” Jill said to Katy.
Katy threw herself at Jill.
“I’ll miss you, Mommy,” Katy said. “Can just us go sometime?”
“I don’t see why not,” Jill said.
Jacob helped Katy with her coat. Katy ran across the loft to the door. Jill helped her with the door, then turned to kiss Jacob good-bye.
“Be gentle, OK?” Jacob asked. “Aden’s a really good guy and he adores Sandy. He’s really her….”
“What do you think is going to happen?”
“Girlfriend tribunal,” Jacob said.
Jill kissed him. She squealed when she felt him psychically stroke her behind. They kissed again then he followed Katy out the door.
Leaning against the door, Jill let out a breath. Tonight was going to be… hard.
Denver Cereal continues next week….
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