Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Thirty-Five : Things are changing

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE Friday morning, 6 AM

“Where’s Mommy?” Katy asked the moment she opened her eyes.

“Mommy has a very big day today,” Jacob said. He lowered the gate to Katy ‘s crib.

“But Mommy always helps me wake up. Always. Always. Unless I’m at Aunt Megan’s house. Mommy wakes me up.”

As if hoping Jacob would turn into her mother, Katy didn’t move to get up.

“I know,” Jacob said. “Your Mom was very upset when she realized she wouldn’t be able to help you get started this morning. She thought you’d be at Aunt Megan’s.”

“Oh.” Katy sat up. “Where’s Mommy?”

Jacob sighed. How to explain to a three year old something he didn’t quite understand?

“She’s getting beautified. All day.”

“That’s silly.” Katy laughed. “But Mommy’s already beautiful.

“That’s exactly what I said but she went anyway,” Jacob said. He gave an exaggerated sigh. “You’re stuck with me. Your Mommy was very worried but I assured her that I could do this. It’s a trial run at being a Daddy.”

“I’ll help you, Daddy,” Katy said. “First, you tell me how much you love me. Then you ask me how my sleep was. When I won’t get up, you tickle me and kiss my face.”

Katy flopped back onto the mattress and pulled her covers up to her nose.

“Go ahead,” Katy said. She made fake snoring sounds.

Laughing, Jacob recited his part. By the time he got to “how was your sleep?” Katy was giggling. He tickled her and kissed her face.

“How was that?” Jacob asked. He helped her out of the crib.

“Good,” Katy said.

“We need to get you into your big girl bed,” he said.

“I know,” Katy said. She took his hand and they walked across the apartment to the bathroom. “But Mommy hasn’t decided if I should have zoo animals or states or angels on my walls. It’s a big decision. Uncle Mike is waiting for her to decide.”

“Can you do the bathroom yourself? Or do you need help?”

“I can do it,” Katy said. “I do it at school.”

“Ok, I’ll pick out something for you to wear.”

“NO! That’s WRONG, Daddy. I pick out my OWN clothes.”

Katy crossed her arms and glared at him. Jacob laughed.

“Yes, ma’am. How about if I just wait right here?”

Katy nodded her head then primly closed the bathroom door.

Shaking his head, Jacob waited by the bathroom.

By now, he should know to expect almost anything. Last night, after what he was sure was a psychic vision, Katy was fine. Healthy and giggly. But when he asked Katy what happened, she said, “Naomi says I shouldn’t tell you now.” The little girl laughed at his shocked face.

And there was no doubt that Trevor was Katy’s father. Jill was absolutely certain. Everyone else must just be wrong. Wishful thinking, that’s what she said.

Today, with a little help from Delphie, Jacob was going to find out what was going on with Katy. Or so he promised a weeping, anxious Jill last night.

“All done?” Jacob asked.

“I didn’t brush my hair,” Katy said. “I wanted to keep my Mommy braid.”

“Good plan,” Jacob said. “She’s going to get you ready for your nap. She’ll do your hair then. Remember we have a big party tonight.”

Katy nodded. “Lots of kids are coming to our house while their parents dance and stuff.”

“Yep,” Jacob said. “Mommy and I will take care of you most of the time.”

“Except when Uncle Mike or Uncle Steve are there. Paddie’s coming after nap.” Katy jumped up and down with glee. “Can I wear my pretty dress now?”

“Let’s save it for later,” Jacob said. “Mommy is excited to help you get ready. We don’t want to spoil it for her. Do we?”

Katy shook her head. She ran across the apartment to the big closet and opened the door. Jill and Katy’s few clothes filled only half of the left side of Jacob’s walk in closet. Katy picked her favorite ‘orangey gauzy’ dress and pink ‘flippy floppies’ for today. She was almost dressed when Delphie tapped on the door then stuck her head in. Trailing Jacob, Katy threw herself into Delphie’s arms. Jacob finished buttoning Katy’s dress while she hugged Delphie.

“Naomi said you’d come today.” Katy beamed.

Jacob and Delphie shared a look over Katy’s head.

“Who’s Naomi, honey?” Delphie asked.

“My Grandmommy!” Katy grabbed Delphie’s hand and pulled her into the apartment. “Are you going to help Daddy take care of me?”

“I wanted to ask you about Naomi,” Delphie said. “Would you like some cereal for breakfast?”

“I want the smiley guy,” Katy said. “But Daddy can’t have any cereal.”

“It’s a sad day,” Jacob said.

“Daddy is working to get well,” Delphie said. “He’s off the cereal for a while.”

“I’ll eat DOUBLE.”

Katy laughed at her own joke. She held her arms up and Delphie sat her on her booster seat. Within moments, Katy was devouring her Captain Crunch. Delphie sedately ate a bowl of Kashi Go Lean. And poor Jacob sipped his protein berry smoothie with ‘this and that’ added to build his ‘blood and chi.’ Taking a bite, Delphie nodded to Jacob.

“Katy, I was wondering if you could tell us what happened last night?” Jacob asked.

“You mean going to Aunt Megan’s or eating spaghetti or playing light saber with my cousin Ryan or when I had the dream or when Daddy and Mommy came or…?”

“The dream,” Delphie said.

“Oh.” Katy blushed. She furrowed her brow then returned to eating her cereal.

“Honey?” Jacob asked.

“I’m deciding.”

“Deciding what?” Jacob asked.

“Well, I don’t talk about my dreams because people get upset,” Katy said.

“We won’t get upset, honey,” Delphie said. “We understand what it’s like.”

“You do?” Katy’s dark eyes blinked at Delphie. Delphie nodded. Katy looked at Jacob.

“I started having them when I was a little younger than you,” Jacob said. “How long have you had them?”

“I had my first one the day I met Naomi,” Katy said. “My old Daddy hit my Mommy with his fist. He was drunk and mad. So Mommy hid me in the closet. Naomi came to visit me. She told me that he wasn’t my REAL Daddy and that I shouldn’t be afraid. Then I had a dream.”

Jacob opened his mouth to say something but words didn’t come out. Somewhere between ‘hit with fist’ and ‘drunk and mad’, his mind went blank with anger. Delphie put her hand over his for comfort.

“What did you dream?” Delphie asked.

“I dreamed that I would meet you and Daddy would be my Daddy,” Katy said. “That’s why I asked him in that hospital place.”

“Do your dreams always come true?” Jacob asked.

“Not all of them. Just the ones that happen when I’m awake.”

“What do you mean?” Delphie asked.

“You know, I’m awake then I have a dream.”

Jacob and Delphie nodded their heads.

“My mother used to have them,” Jacob said.

“Naomi,” Katy said. “She’s your Mommy.”

“Yes, that was one on her names,” Jacob said. “You know that she’s d… not real, right?”

“She’s real, Daddy. She’s just not here,” Katy said. “She told me last night that Grand-Delphie would help me. She said you should practice too Daddy.”

“Only your mother can scold from the grave.” Delphie laughed.

Jacob laughed.

“I’m ready,” Katy said. She pushed her bowl away. “But…. Daddy will you do it with me? I’m scared I’ll have the bad one again.”

“The bad one?” Jacob was half way to the sink with Katy’s bowl when he turned.

“The one where my old Daddy steals me away.”


Friday, 11 A.M.

Sam stepped back from the window to admire his work. He’d forgotten how much he enjoyed carpentry. With Aden and Blane at the helm of Lipson Construction, he was able to spend the afternoon installing windows. Hearing a sound, he turned to see Jacob come up behind him.

“The master returns,” Jacob said.

“We’ll see. I have three more to go,” Sam said.

“Looks like you’re doing a great job,” Jacob said. He moved to the second window. “Oh, thanks for fixing the rotten piece on this frame.”

Nodding, Sam picked up the next window.

“I heard to oddest thing,” Jacob said.

“Uh huh.” Sam slid a window into place. “These are nice. Double paned, low e. I didn’t know this was even possible.”

“It’s relatively new. Most people can’t do it because….”

“They jack up the frames taking them out,” Sam finished Jacob’s sentence.

“Exactly.” Jacob gave Sam the spray insulation to fill the gaps around the window.

“This insulation is great too,” Sam said. “Why didn’t you replace the windows at home?”

“I love the wavy lead windows at the Castle. They’re especially beautiful in your room,” Jacob said. “It’s a heat loss, but we’ve done a great job filling the gaps, double insulating andusing Delphie’s insulated shades. New windows would only give us a minor difference.”

Sam nodded then moved to the next window.

“I hear I picked up a new business partner.”

Jacob used his left hand to help Sam lift the largest, heaviest window. Sam installed the window rather than respond to Jacob.

“What do you think about that?” Sam asked.

“It’s about time,” Jacob said. “Do you want part of the business? You could….”

“Nah,” Sam said. “I worked for your mother for most of my life. I’ve worked for you for the rest. I’d rather just work for you. If that’s Ok.”

“Sure,” Jacob said. “Compensation?”

Sam laughed.

“Son, let’s sell one company first,” Sam said.

“Let’s get through a Valerie party first.” Jacob countered.

Sam laughed. Turning, he hugged Jacob. Jacob groaned in pain.

“I never tell you enough,” Sam said. “I’m so grateful that you’re my son.”

“Love you, Dad,” Jacob said.

“Did you ever figure out how Katy is your child?”

“God, not you too,” Jacob said.

“You never met your mother’s father. She looks just like him. Especially when she laughs.”

“Yeah, Ok, Dad. We’ll get you a grandchild as soon as possible.”

“Eh, I already have one,” Sam said. “You should do the DNA.”

“Ok, whatever. Katy is my daughter no matter who her biological father happens to be,” Jacob said. “You can finish this?”

“Uh huh. You heard that Jill’s going to help with color. Did you know she was your color gal?”

“No,” Jacob said.

“The universe offers many chances at love,” Sam said.

“I think you’ve spent waaaaay to much time with Delphie.”

Sam laughed.


Friday, 2:45 PM

“Now is your rest time, Val.” Ramon trailed after Val down the hall to her apartment. “No hanky panky and no food. Just water. Sleep for at least an hour then we’ll do the wrap and…. Where is the farm boy?”

Val turned in place to give Ramon a menacing look. Flipping around, she continued down the hall.

“Fine. Where is Michael?”

“He’s in his studio. A couple museums came today to see his work,” Val said.

She opened the door to her apartment. Seeing Mike standing naked holding chocolate covered strawberries and champagne, Val spun in place.

“Thank you for your help, Ramon. I promise that I’ll rest,” Val said. “You’ll be the first person I see when I get up. We’ll do the seaweed wrap; meet with Cindy from Sol for lingerie; then hang out with the Martins crowd. I’ll be picture perfect by six.”

She moved to close the door in his face.

“Oh, I thought you’d want to play cards.”

“I need to rest. I’m just exhausted and I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was out dancing with you until three and up at six to start getting dressed.”

Valerie smiled. Ramon nodded.

“He’s in there, isn’t he?” Ramon asked.

Valerie kissed his cheek then closed the door.

“You are a sight for sore eyes,” Valerie said. “What’s your plan, Mr. Roper?”

“You,” he said.

She moved across the room into his arms.

“How did it go this morning?” He asked.

“Boring,” Val said. “It’s fun to get all the treatments with Jill and her friends. They’re so refreshing for me. I’m grateful they let me hang out with them. That Tanesha could have her own comedy show.”

“Samantha couldn’t make it?” He asked.

“She’s in trial,” Val said. “Plus you know Sam.”

“Beauty requires regular maintenance,” They said together.

“She gets these treatments at least once a week. Even while she was in the Navy.” Val shook her head. “How was your morning?”

“The Met and the Smithsonian…. They both want a piece. If Adam Lerner wasn’t there? I would have passed out. He did the negotiating. And you should hear the money they’re talking. I…. William Morris called and they want to represent me. Frederec said they want me in their print ads.”

“And you?” Val asked. “What do you want?”


“Hmm, what did you have in mind?”

“I am drawing your bath,” he said. “I made your favorite no carb snack. And I thought we’d sneak a little champagne.”

Val shook her head.

“Bubbles,” they said in unison.

“Vodka?” Mike asked. “It’s low carb and I promise to work the calories….”

Valerie jumped into his arms. Laughing, he carried her into the bathroom where the tub was filling. One piece of clothing at a time, he undressed her then set her into the tub. Stepping in behind her, he grabbed the sponge.

“I’m scared,” Valerie said.

“You? I’ve never known you to be scared,” he said.

“Things are changing very fast,” she said. “My agent called to say that her phone has been ringing off the hook… with great parts… for me…. Like I’m an ‘A’ lister. That’s what she said. ‘A’ lister. I….”

“I’m right here,” he said.

“For now! You’ll have openings around the world. You….”

“I’m right here. I have a choice. And I’ll never leave you again. Never by choice.”

“You say that, but what if….”

He kissed the top of her head.

“‘If’ has already happened and I’m still right here. We’re very lucky.”

Val nodded.

“How can I ease your mind?”

“I am kind of tense….”

Mike popped out the tub. Val chased him to the bed.


Friday afternoon, 3:30 PM

Jill crept across Jacob’s apartment. After being sent off to rest, Sandy, Heather, Tanisha and Jill giggled and played with Katy. When Katy began to sag, the women settled in to nap. It was going to be a late night and a little sleep would go a long way. Right now, Katy and her friends were sound asleep. Feeling like Scarlet O’Hara at the ball, Jill couldn’t sleep.

She had to know.

She opened the closet door slowly.

The closet door’s squeaked!

But didn’t wake anyone.

She let out a breath.

Going to the back of the closet, she dug through Jacob’s old clothing. He told her he meant to get rid of it, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Clothing from when he lived in Maine. Clothing from four years ago.

Frustrated, that she hadn’t found it. She flipped one of the last hangers to quickly.

The hanger scraped!

She leaned back to see if anyone woke up.

Everyone was still asleep.

She let out another breath.

Turning back, she saw what her hand was touching. She bit her lip to keep from fainting.

She had to know.

She touched the lipstick stain on the collar. Her thumb ran over the makeup on the lapel. Leaning forward, she took a deep breath and smelled… lavender.

Oh. My. God.

Blue wool and… buttons?

Taking her button out of her pocket, she looked at the left sleeve of the jacket. It was missing one button.

Her button.

Clutching the jacket, she dropped to her knees.

“Jill!” Jacob whispered. He rushed forward to kneel beside her. “Are you all right? Honey, what happened?”

“You had a tattoo.”


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