Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Thirty-Nine : All that matters


“Details remain spotty in an incident that has both Denver Police and Homeland Security working through the night.” Adele Arakawa’s brown eyes and solemn voice reflected the severity of the situation. “This is a 9 News special report.”

“What started as a star filled celebrity party turned deadly in what appears to be a botched kidnapping attempt.”

A video tape of the stars entering the Castle played on the screen. The world’s famous waved and signed autographs on the Castle lawn.

“Valerie Lipson and her husband, Michael Roper, made big Denver news this week with their appearance on local and national talk shows. Tonight was to be a celebration complete with friends, fine wine and great food.”

The video feed shifted to the Chef’s staff preparing trays of hors d’oeuvres and servers with open bottles of wine. The video panned the Castle ballroom showing the stars dancing, laughing and drinking.

“From what few details we’ve been able to gather, around midnight kidnappers snatched Senator Hargreaves’s grandson and his best friend. In their attempt to flee, a young woman was brutally attacked and one of the kidnappers was killed,” Adele said. “We go now to TaRhonda Thomas live on Race Street in Denver.”

The camera went to a young woman standing under a stop light near the Castle’s metal gate.

“Denver Police are not releasing details on this one, Adele. So far, we’ve been able to ascertain that Senator Hargreaves’s grandson has been rescued. The child is now at home with his parents. The other child also appears to be uninjured and is in the care of her parents. Denver Police Chief will hold a press conference tomorrow morning to answer any questions. But tonight, the mystery remains.”

“Thank you, TaRhonda. Do you know identity of the woman was that was assaulted?”

“No,” the reporter said. “No details have been released. I only know that her condition is touch and go.”

“And the person killed?” Adele asked. “We understand that was a man?”

“Yes, a white male was shot just after midnight tonight,” TaRhonda said. “He is believed at this time to have been one of the kidnappers. Denver Police have not released his name or the nature of the shooting. As you know, our news helicopters have not been allowed within ten miles of this location.”

“Do you have any idea why the details of this case are so few and hard to come by, TaRhonda?” Adele asked.

“National security. That’s what the Denver Police spokesperson says.”

“Thank you TaRhonda.” Adele swung in her chair to speak with her co-anchor. “Kidnapping a Senator’s grandson? Here. In Denver. It’s hard to fathom.”

“We live in dangerous times,” Mark Koebrich said. “This has been a 9 News special report.”


Jacob helped Katy into the warm bubble bath then began undressing Jill. Jill hadn’t said a word since Trevor had been shot. It was almost as if she couldn’t speak. When Mike tried to take Katy, she shook her head and clung to her child. She sobbed when John Drayson suggested she spend the night at the hospital. She leaned into Jacob and held on to Katy. With gentle care, Jacob helped her up into their new loft apartment where security locks had been installed that afternoon.

This was not the way he hoped to unwrap Jill.

But, he was grateful she was here with him - alive and mostly well. He helped her out of the Marlowe diamonds which he set on the counter. Pulling off her dress, he helped her out of a gorgeous lace bra and some kind of a girdle thing. He smiled to see that she was only wearing a tiny slip of panties and thigh high stockings. They would have had fun tonight.

Through all of this, Jill’s eyes stared at Katy as her child played among the bubbles in the bath.

Under the girdle there was a small, but deep cut, probably from tip of the knife. Jacob cleaned the wound, dabbed Neosporin then put a Scooby Doo bandage over it. He rolled the stockings from her legs then helped her to stand. She shifted into him when he slipped off the panties. Pulling back to look at her face, her eyes took him in for the first time.

Somewhere behind those big eyes, his Jill was telling him she wished things were different too. He smiled then helped her step into the lavender bubbles. Jill leaned against the back of the tub and sighed.

“She’s having a flashback,” Mike had said. “Just hold her.”

“She needs a bath,” Alex had said. “That will relax her. Then maybe some chocolate. I like chocolate after I have a flashback.”

“She’s going to want… physical relief,” Dr. John Drayson had said in his prim British accent. His eyes and eyebrows told a more lurid story. “As your doctor, I cannot recommend it in your condition. But as your friend? I’d encourage you to get some assistance.”

“Assistance?” Jacob had asked.

“Sildenafil citrate,” John had said.

“Viagra?” Jacob couldn’t fathom what John was saying. Jill was traumatized not horny.

“I’ll see if one of the medics has some. You’d be amazed at what these boys have in their kits.”

Kneeling next to their new large tub, he wondered what Jill needed. When Katy splashed Jill with bubbles, Jill smiled. It was the first real facial expression she had made since she stopped crying.

Leaning forward to cup Katy’s face with her hands, Jill sighed.

“I love you, Katy-baby,” she said.

“MOMMY! You came back!” Katy was so excited she splashed water everywhere. Laughing, Jacob grabbed a few towels from the cabinet to contain the joyful mess. “Oh Mommy, I missed you! Do you know what happened tonight?”

Jill’s eyes welled. She gulped back her sorrow.

“What happened, Katy-baby?”

“A girl kissed Paddie! On the lips! He screamed. The lady Marine that was pretending to be an older kid thought he was hurt. When she found out that Paddie had been kissed, she laughed and laughed. Paddie was upset because she didn’t take him serious but that just made the lady laugh even harder. Then I laughed and finally Paddie laughed too.”

Jill smiled through Katy’s story. Katy’s giggles brought out Jill’s laugh. When Jacob set a few yellow ducks in the water, Katy began an elaborate story of Mommy ducks and Daddy ducks and baby ducks. Under Katy’s instruction, Jill, and Jacob from beside the tub, played roles in her game.

Maybe Katy was all Jill needed. That would be all right too.

“Daddy?” Katy asked. Her story had reach some random stopping point.

“Yes honey,” Jacob said.

“I wanna go to bed now. It’s waaaay past my bedtime,” Katy yawned. “And I’m tired.”

Jacob helped Katy out of the tub. He let some of the water out of the tub then turned the hot water on to warm the bath. Jill smiled then rested against the tub. He dried Katy in a fluffy bath sheet then helped her into her new pajamas and her new big girl bed. He stayed with Katy until she was asleep. Taking a receiver to her baby monitor with him, he returned to the bathroom.

Only Jill’s eyes peaked above the bubbles. Seeing him, she moved to sit.

“Would you like to join me?” She asked.

“I’d like you to feel all right,” he said. “What do you need?”

“Hmmm…..” She slipped all the way under the bubbles. Popping up, she said, “Did Delphie make brownies? Or did I imagine that?”

“Delphie’s at the hospital. Val made the brownies. They’re actually pretty good. I have them,” Jacob said. “She made them for you.”

“Where’s Sandy? I remember Sandy being with me,” Jill said.

“Sandy stayed with you while you talked to the police,” Jacob said. “She wanted to stay tonight but you just seemed to want Katy. She’s with Aden in their apartment. Would you like me to get her?”

Jill shook her head. She moved to get out of the tub. He held a large green bath sheet and she wrapped herself in it. She refused clothing, even a bathrobe. Instead, wrapped in a bath sheet, she padded across their new home to the kitchen. Standing over the plate of brownies, she started eating. Jacob laughed at her fervor.

“I haven’t eaten since breakfast,” Jill said. “Only water after that. I’m starving and these are perfect.”

Getting the milk from the refrigerator, he poured them each a glass. When he reached for a brownie, she slapped his hand away. They laughed.

“How are you?” He asked.

Jill nodded her head as she swallowed a bite of brownie.

“Hungry…. For everything - food, wine, life,” she said. “I… I want to feel alive.”

“I want you to know how sorry I am about Trevor,” Jacob said. “I cannot imagine how you feel.”

Still chewing, Jill shook her head.

“I can’t do that.” Jill covered her mouth to keep from spitting brownie all over Jacob.

He nodded.

“Can you help me?” He asked. “I can’t get out of this monkey suit myself.”

Jill nodded. Taking another bite of brownie, she untied his bow tie, then helped him out of his sling, the jacket and his shirt. Leaving his white undershirt, Jill returned to her brownies.

“Thanks,” he said. He stretched his arms. “That’s much better.”

“You can move your arm,” Jill said.

“Just a tiny bit. I’ve been working on it. It hurts, but….” Jacob puzzled at the odd look on Jill’s face. “What?”

Jill shook her head then looked away from him. He stepped around the kitchen bar to her. His finger tips caressed her face and their eyes held.

“I love you,” he said. “I’m here. Right here.”

She stepped into his embrace.

“Every room,” she whispered.

“Every room?”

Stepping back she bit her lip and nodded her head.

“Jill, what’s going….”

She pulled off his t-shirt. And their spark ignited. Heat and passion erupted in a burst of haste. They fell to the kitchen floor. She pulled at him, ripping his tux pants from him. Pulling on his naked flesh, she shifted for them to join.

“Wait,” he said. “I’ll be right….”

“I need to feel you,” she said.

“Jill.” He kissed her face, her nose, and caught her mouth. “You wanted to wait.”

“I don’t care. I don’t care.” Jill’s eyes dropped tears. “I’ve never felt you. Please Jacob, please. Just tonight. Please. Let me feel you.”

“Ok, ok, shhh….” He kissed her eyes.

In a rush of sensation, they joined. As if a switch ignited in Jill, she was wild. And Jacob tried to keep up.

They moved from the kitchen floor to on top the kitchen table. From under the dining room table to the open space. They shifted location with each climax. Her heat expanded and their passion grew. Anytime he shifted away, she pulled him back to her.

Leaning against a couch in the sitting area, close to another blissful release, Jill’s sadness, panic and rage caught up to her. Her passion turned to tears and tears became sobs. She battered Jacob’s chest until he flipped her under him. He pinned her down while she writhed with unspeakable pain. Unsure of what to do, he whispered over and over again that he loved her.

In the middle of a sob, she jerked, let out a breath, and closed her eyes. Certain she was having a seizure or possibly losing consciousness, Jacob shook her shoulder. Taking advantage of his movement, Jill moved on top of him.

“YOU!” She slapped at him. “YOU! I stayed with him because of YOU!”

“I would have married you in a second. Raised any child as my own. I love you only you. I’ve loved since the moment I laid eyes on you all those years ago,” he said. “You stayed with him because of you.”

“How DARE you! I was absolutely, completely and totally alone. And pregnant. What choice did I have?”

“I understand.” With his hands around her face, his thumbs wiped her tears.

“How can YOU understand? You have all of this and I have NOTHING. I am NOTHING. And you are the GREAT Marlowe. What can YOU understand? Oh God….”

Overwhelmed, she fell against him. Jacob held her tight through her heaving sobs. When her breath slowed, he realized that she was asleep. Unable to carry her to the bed, he pulled a down comforter from the wood chest near the fireplace. Turning on the fire, he wrapped them in the blanket. When he lay next to Jill, she moved to sleep on his chest. He caressed her fuzzy head and she looked up at him.

“I love you and only you, Jacob Marlowe. I’ve loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you all those years ago.”

“I’m so glad,” he said to her sleeping form.


“You were marvelous tonight,” Valerie said.

They were sitting in a full bathtub. Mike was brushing her hair. He kissed her head. After the ‘event’, Mike and Val had worked to manage their guests. The world’s famous were professionals. With smiles all around, they left the Castle with their children as if nothing had happened. Val made Jill’s brownies between organizing the clean up crew and dealing with the police. When they finally were on their own, Mike and Val migrated to the warm safety of their bathtub. They’d been soaking for at least an hour.

“I think four men asked me about your ‘country suit’,” she said.

“Frederec thought I should look like a 1940s country western star,” he said. “I love the boots and the cool ribbons down the leg of the pants. I thought I looked more like bull-fighter with the short jacket, but he said it was perfect for my shoulders.”

“You were gorgeous, and so fun to be around,” she said. “Thank you.”


“Being my one and only,” she said. “Putting up with me and all my bullshit. I see poor Jill and I…. I feel very lucky.”

“Jill will be all right,” Mike said. “Ropers are made of tough stuff.”

She leaned back and they kissed.

“Do you have any idea who killed Trevor?”

“No,” Mike said. “Alex’s team was all accounted for. It had to be someone else. But who? And why? Trevor’s wife stopped talking as soon as she knew he was dead. I think she’s working on a story that makes him solely responsible for everything.”

Val sighed.

“I can’t believe I waited so long to be here with you. I…. If that happened to you? Oh my God. I…. Oh Michael, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“For what?”

“For everything,” she said.

He chuckled and continued brushing her hair.

“Say something,” she said.

“You take responsibility for things that are just life,” he said. “We have this time, this place. Don’t waste it on regret.”

“I have six more months on my contract,” she said.


“I think we should try and have a baby,” she said. “When my contract expires, I mean.”

He smiled.

“Let’s see where you are in December. By then, you maybe ‘A’ listed and….” He mock squealed. “Everything will be perfect!”

Laughing, Valerie slapped at him. He laughed. Valerie settled against him again.

“Let’s just stay here,” she said.

“In Denver? I thought you had to work on Monday,” he said.

“No in this bathtub. Let’s just stay here forever,” she said.

He kissed her head.

“It’ll be dawn soon. Do you want to sleep?”

“Oh tomorrow. I’d rather not have tomorrow come. I’m sick of police and hospitals and violence and drama. And I work on a soap opera! I just want….”

“To stay in the bathtub?” He asked.

“Yes,” she said.

He pulled her between his knees, then wrapped her tight in his arms. No matter what happened tomorrow, they would be together.

And that’s all that mattered.



p align=”center”>Saturday morning, 4:00 AM Denver Police Department

“And who are you?” The Chief of Police asked.

“Major Joseph Walter, sir. It’s my understanding that you have questions about the involvement of Homeland Security and Army Special Ops on Race Street tonight. I have been dispatched to answer your questions.”

“I requested the head of the team to speak to me prior to this press conference. I’m not going to let the Army or Homeland Security leave us hanging out there like country bumpkins. Where is the Lieutenant Colonel?”

“The Lieutenant Colonel was unable to make it. I was dispatched instead. Of course, whatever I say must stay in this room. And, I promise that if it doesn’t, we’ll know.”

The Police Chief’s brow raised at the insinuation. Was this man threatening him?

“And who are you?”

Joseph smiled at the Police Chief’s repeated question. In his exhaustion, the Chief hadn’t realized he repeated himself until Joseph smiled. The Chief nodded his head.

“I’m someone who can answer your questions,” Joseph said. “Have you completed an autopsy on Trevor Mc Guinsey?”

The Chief put his hand over the autopsy report. His eyes reviewed the man in front of him. Walter was in his forties, cropped brown hair with a dusting of gray, brown eyes, medium height. He had an air about him as if he was someone you could trust, someone used to being trusted, but someone not to be messed with. The Chief nodded his head. He pushed the autopsy report across the desk. Walter didn’t reach to pick it up.

“I’m particularly interested in the bullet,” Joseph said. “I understand that your men found the bullet in the roof of the SUV.”

The Chief nodded.

“We expect that the bullet is hand made, no finger prints or DNA but is stamped with a series of characters.”


Joseph took a pen from his pocket and drew a series of characters on the autopsy report.

“How would you know something like that? We haven’t entered that information into any computer or….”

Joseph nodded his head.

“May I see it?”

The Chief of Police gave Joseph a small Ziploc bag with a bullet in it.

“I’ve only heard about these,” Joseph said. “I’ve never seen one before. Wow. Frankly, I thought the whole thing was bullshit.”

“Major, what are you talking about?”

“I’d like to tell you a little story about a Russian family on the run and a little girl who was rescued by a contract killer, but we don’t have time. You have a press conference and I need to get back the team.”

“Can you tell me about the US Army’s involvement in last night’s events?”

“I’m authorized to answer your questions.”

“My questions?” The Chief of Police was too tired to play games. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Good question,” Joseph said. He smiled his trustworthy smile. “It all started when Valerie Lipson’s publicist scheduled her and Michael Roper’s appearance on Oprah.”

Denver Cereal continues next week….


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