CHAPTER FORTY Saturday morning, 4:30 AM
Denver’s Police Chief closed the door after Major Walter. Leaning back in his chair, he wondered what he needed to do. When he signed on as a police officer, he never thought he would be at the center of people trafficking, the Russian mafia, and international assassins.
The domestic abuse? The cruelty inflicted? One person to another? He was used to that.
And so much of this case was normal. Possessive guy dumps wife to be with rich woman but still feels like he owns first wife. Typical. Even possessive guy stealing his only child. Typical.
But stealing a Senator’s grandson to hold for ransom? New wife selling old wife into prostitution while new wife is on her honeymoon? New wife stabs her own sister ten times and screams ‘die bitch’ as the stretcher goes by? Guy shot in the head from fifteen hundred yards by a professional contract killer called Perses? Of course that’s AFTER the Russian mafia agrees to leave some retired Sergeant and his family alone.
Propping his head in his hands, the Police Chief rubbed his aching head.
What the hell was he going to tell the press?
Saturday Morning, 4:30 AM
Jacob woke to the sound of his blackberry buzzing. As he had every morning for most of the last week, he gently shifted from under Jill’s head. Today, Jill grabbed him before he could leave her. He smiled.
“It’s Blane,” Jacob said. “I need to let him know that I won’t make it this morning.”
The ache in Jill’s eyes was almost more than he could stand.
“My blackberry is in my tux,” he said.
Jill’s head moved in a nod. Getting up, he went to the kitchen area where his abandoned tux lay on the floor. When he turned to look at Jill, she was walking toward their bedroom. He heard the bathroom door close.
“Hey,” Jacob said after dialing Blane.
“Updates. Do you want business first or family?”
“Family,” Jacob replied.
“Honey is still in critical condition. Sam says it’s touch and go. Her mom and Delphie are by her side in ICU.”
“Jill said she’d never seen anything as brutal as the way Honey was attacked.”
“Yes,” Blane said. “It was vicious and cruel. I don’t think she would have lived if MJ hadn’t been there. And honestly? No one’s sure she’ll make it. Her spine is cut. They did surgery to reattach it, but she’ll probably never walk again. She might have use of her hands but who knows? And that’s if she survives. They removed her spleen, one kidney, part of her liver, and some of her intestine.”
“God, poor Honey,” Jacob said.
“Sam said that her mother is hysterical. One daughter in jail, the other on death’s doorway, I guess old Tiffanie is contemplating the error of her ways,” Blane said. “They had to medicate her last night. That’s why Sam and Delphie are still at the hospital.”
“Who’s with Becky and Briana?” Jacob asked.
“Their nanny,” Blane said. “Sam hired her last week when they officially split up.”
“Delphie?” Jacob watched Jill come from their bedroom in a bathrobe. She went to stand in the doorway to Katy’s room.
“She suggested it,” Blane said. “On the business front, Bambi wants to know if she can close the site today. That’s Honey’s team. She says that everyone is upset and….”
“Of course,” Jacob said. “I assume they’re doing the Lipson employee hospital vigil.”
“Like always,” Blane said. “The call went out last night. They’ve been there in shifts all night. Honey’s worked at every site, so every site has at least one person at the hospital. Bambi wants to make sureeveryone will get paid.”
“Of course,” Jacob said. “Listen, we had a rough night. Can you and Aden start the sites?”
“Sure,” Blane said. “They haven’t found anyone to identify the Trevor. His wife won’t do it. I guess his mother has Alzheimer’s and his Dad is in a wheelchair. Diabetes I think. I fielded a call from Denver Police wondering if Jill was willing to do the identification.”
“I was going to stay close to home this morning,” Jacob said.
“I don’t think there are funds to bury….”
“I assumed,” Jacob said.
“The Rocky is reporting that one of the children was the daughter of the man who was killed,” Blane said. “This poor child watched her father die. She’s Ok though right?”
“Katy? We’ll take her to see Aden’s kids’ therapist. But she seems fine.” Jacob looked up to see Jill walking toward him. He held out his arm to her and she tucked herself into him.
“Well, the press wants photos of the poor child,” Blane said.
“Sounds like it’s going to be an interesting day. You’ll keep me in the loop for Honey?”
“Yep,” Blane said. “Call me if you can meet us at noon.”
Jacob hung up the phone. Setting the phone on the counter, he held Jill to him.
“She’s still out,” Jill said.
“How are you?” Jacob said.
Jill shook her head and moved away from him. He pulled her back to him. Looking into her eyes, he saw her sorrow.
“I’m sorry I said all those things last night,” she said.
“You have a right to say and feel what you feel,” he said.
“You’re right. I stayed with Trevor because of me.” Jill shrugged. “Now he’s gone. And I….”
She shook her head. Turning away from him, she wandered to the front windows.
Jacob let out a breath as a wave of insecurity came over him. Had he lost her to Trevor? He’d loved Trevor’s wife for so long that he couldn’t keep the bone crushing defeat out of his mind. Hoping the feeling would pass, he rubbed his forehead.
When he looked up, Jill was standing in front of him.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jill said. “You’ve been… so positive, and so wonderful. And I…. I have compartments… inside. It’s hard to explain.”
“I’m listening,” Jacob said.
“You and I met when we were in high school,” Jill said. “You don’t remember. But I do. You ran track and played football. Right?”
“I ran track too,” Jill said. “I mean until I married Trevor and all that stuff. Trevor didn’t like me to associate with other guys… well, people really. You ran the four hundred at state.”
“My sophomore and junior year,” Jacob said. “I blew out my knee my senior year and couldn’t run.”
“I ran hurdles. I sat behind you on the bus to State my sophomore year. We didn’t have a lot of people going so….”
“Machebeuf came with us,” Jacob said. “I….”
“You had a girl on your arm, were flirting with a girl in front of you and talking to the guys around you. I don’t think you even looked at me,” Jill said.
“I was quite an asshole when I was in high school,” Jacob said. “Val hated me.”
“Actually, I thought you were amazing.” Jill blushed. “I got stuck in the press of big guys. You yelled at some guy to stop trampling me. I was small, like Katy is small. The guy….”
“Picked you up and set you in front of me.” Jacob chuckled. “That was you?”
Jill nodded. “He made us kiss.”
“I remember, the tiny dancer and her prince,” Jacob said. “I…. Wow. You won that day.”
“So did you,” Jill said.
“I looked for you….” Jacob and Jill said in unison then beamed at each other.
“My family was there,” Jill said. “I went home with Meg.”
He stroked her cheek.
“I recognized you when I saw you with your mom at Pete’s that day. But…. I….” Jill shook her head. Her eyes welled with tear. “I was married… holy sacrament… I…. I made myself forget you… put you away in a little compartment….”
“Like the wizard?”
“I didn’t remember you when you asked me to dance at Trevor’s party,” Jill said. “I… I know that you think I want Trevor. I don’t. I didn’t. I… I can’t believe he’s gone. He’s been the one constant in my life since I was fourteen years old.
“I am going to have to take care of all of this mess,” Jill said. “Trevor’s parents aren’t… well. I’ve paid for their care… forever. They think Trevor pays for it, but… I always have. They believe Katy is his only child.
“I am going to have to take care of his estate, have a funeral, make sure his parents are all right and bury him. I have to do it alone. I’m sure Meg will help me with Katy, but other than that…. His parents hate my family and my ‘slutty friends.’ They believe that Trevor and I split up because of me.”
“You could tell them the truth,” Jacob said.
“How? Tell an insane woman and a sick old man that their beloved child was a monster? I… I can’t do that.”
“He is married to someone else now,” Jacob said.
“Was,” Jill said. “She’s in jail. Anyway, you know what she’s like? She’ll divorce him the moment she’s sure no money is coming her way. Plus, Trevor doesn’t… I mean, didn’t do paperwork. I’m sure I’m still on his life insurance and in charge of his estate.”
“Jill, you should do what’s best for you. You don’t owe Trevor or anyone else anything,” he said.
“I know.” Jill held her hands up over her head. “I need to finish this thing with him. For me, I need to. I would love to have you with me every step of the way, but you or Sandy or Meg would just make it harder. I can’t deal with the level of crap that would come with having anyone with me.”
“How can I help?” He asked.
“Will you be my constant?” Jill asked.
Jacob’s face flushed. He pulled her into his arms.
“I won’t be able to wear your beautiful jewels. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay here. I’ll just spend your money… on him, and them. I probably won’t see you, maybe days at a time. I’ll have to take him back to their family plot in Ohio. I…. When I come back, will you be here for me? For Katy?”
“Oh Jill,” he whispered. “Do you have to ask?”
Jill’s eyes filled with tears. She kissed him.
“Val gave me money for the diamond sets and I have money from the modeling. But the checks were so big, and my credit isn’t great. The bank held the money.”
“I’ve set up joint accounts for us….”
Jill shook her head. “It has to look like my money or I’ll pay hell for it. I just want to get this done, over with. I….”
“I’ll take care of it,” Jacob said. “What ever you need, I’m here for you. I’d like to be your constant.”
“Will you make love to me one more time before I have to go?” Jill asked.
Jacob took her hand and led her to the bedroom. Very slowly, very carefully, he touched, caress, kissed and loved her body. He wanted to taste every inch of her beautiful skin. Jill responded in kind. Opposite of last nights haste, they languished in the touch of each other. Dancing in sensation, they rose to climax. In a toe curling flash, the world stopped and the lovers held on until, in a breath, the world began again.
The rest of the morning was a blur.
At some point, Jill got up to bring Katy back to bed. The little family lay snuggled together on the safe big bed. The world invaded in the form of a telephone call from the Denver Police. While Jill showered, Jacob helped Katy get dressed. Together, Jill and Jacob packed Jill and Katy’s few possessions in an old backpack so that she could move back into her apartment. Going down to the Castle, Jill and Katy said a tearful good-bye to Mike and Val. Sandy and Jill sobbed and clung to each other until Jill had to go. Jacob helped them through the tunnels. Because her Lexus was too fancy for what she had to do, and she couldn’t drive his Jeep, he gave her Mike’s Bronco.
Katy cried when she said ‘good-bye’. He held her close. They had dreamed of this when they practiced dreams with Delphie. But knowing what was going to happen was of no comfort for the little girl and her father.
Standing on Detroit Street, Jacob watched everything he’d ever wanted, everything he loved, drive away from him. His eyesight blurred, he turned to make his way back to the Castle. When he opened the Castle door, his father stood just on the other side.
Jacob broke down.
Jill sat with her victim’s advocate in the lobby of the Denver Police station. They were waiting to view Trevor’s body. Jill had already arranged for Trevor’s parents travel to Denver. And sorted out a place for them to stay. She was grateful that Megan was willing to take care of Katy today.
Even with the kind advocate sitting next to her, Jill felt alone. Completely and totally alone.
She was completely and totally alone. She had lived with this aloneness every single day prior to the non-date. She was sure that every day between now and when she returned to the Castle, she would be alone.
Hearing a familiar voice, Jill looked up. Samantha Hargreaves was arguing with a police detective. Jill watched the two argue back and forth. When Samantha smiled, Jill knew Samantha had won. Samantha nodded to the police detective then came out into the lobby.
Jill was sure that this gorgeous woman, a Hargreaves no less, wouldn’t even remember her. She was surprised when Samantha sat down next to her.
“I guess you’re working a case,” Jill said. “Sucks to work on a Saturday.”
“I don’t mind,” Samantha said.
“I have to identify Trevor’s body,” Jill said. “I’ve been waiting for about forty minutes. I don’t know what the hold up is. How long do you usually have to wait?”
Samantha’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. Her pretty blue eyes scanned Jill’s face.
“I’m here with you,” Samantha said.
“Did you honestly think you’d have to do this alone?” Samantha laughed. “I’ll be with you every step of the way, Jill. We’ll deal with the police together. I’ve done estate work. I will help you with his estate… everything. I’ve cleared my schedule. You are my case.”
“Why? I mean, how? I….”
“You’re part of the family now, Jill.”
“My family,” Samantha said. “Val means everything to me. She, and those she loves, are a part of my family.”
“Because of Jacob?”
“Because of you,” Samantha said. “We don’t leave people hanging out there, Jill.”
“Now,” Samantha’s voice dropped to an almost whisper, “they want to ask you who killed Trevor. They’re fairly confident they can get it out of you. But you have no idea.”
“You have no idea. You’re not sure why they would even ask you.” Samantha stood up. Turning to look at Jill, she said, “Here we go.”
Jill stood as two policemen came to take her to see Trevor’s body.
Denver Cereal continues next week….
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