Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Four Hundred and Thirty : How do you feel?


Wednesday evening — 7:23 p.m.

“Oh great,” Jacob said when he opened the loft door to Blane. “Thanks for coming.”

“Are you sure about this?” Blane asked. They clasped each other in a fond manly greeting. “The wedding is on Sunday. You don’t think she’ll see it before then?”

“She might,” Jacob said. “Is there a rule about that?”

Blane stood just inside the doorway for a moment.

“Not that I know of,” Blane said, closing the loft door. “But then again, I’m not having a large tradition, straight wedding.”

Jacob laughed. Blane followed him through the bedroom and into the bathroom. Jacob picked up a metal chair and pointed to the other. Blane picked up the second chair. They carried the chairs through the loft, into Jacob’s old apartment, down the stairs, and into the basement storage room where the metal table already sat.

“Where is everyone?” Blane asked.

“Doing wedding stuff,” Jacob said. “Jill and Katy are trying on their dresses for the very last time.”

“Does Katy get to see her like-Mommy dress?” Blane asked.

“Not until Sunday,” Jacob said. He gestured up the stairs and Blane started up. “She’s checking the not quite like Mommy’s tonight. Katy’s decided to be very brave.”

“She’s a special girl,” Blane said.

“The boys are visiting with their cousins at Jill’s brother Steve’s house,” Jacob said. “Sandy’s with Jill, of course, so are Aden’s kids. Aden went back to work. He has a lot to finish up before they leave for a week.”

“Are you and Jill going on a honeymoon?” Blane asked.

“Just the few days we’ll be all together,” Jacob said. “Jill wants to finish this quarter at school before we take time off. We’ll probably go somewhere this fall. Is it still okay for you and Heather to take the boys and Katy?”

“Of course,” Blane said.

Jacob walked out onto the small porch.

“So, I’m thinking that we’ll put it right here,” Jacob said.

“How are you planning on getting it up here?” Blane asked.

“It’s already here,” Jacob said. “In pieces. In my old closet. I just wanted to show you what I was thinking.”

Blane nodded. They reversed their steps through the loft and went into Jacob’s old apartment. He opened the door to the walk-in closet. There was a stack of what looked like wood in the closet.

“We need to carry this into the bathroom,” Jacob said.

“Got it,” Blane said.

He picked up a few beautiful blue streaked yellow pine planks and carried them into the bathroom. Jacob followed right behind him. Blane found a gorgeous, hand carved swing bench in the closet. Jacob picked up one side and they carried it into the bathroom. They went back into the closet for the last of the boards.

“It’s peg and groove,” Jacob said. “Everything’s designed to fit together.”

“Does it?” Blane’s voice was laced with doubt.

“It did downstairs!” Jacob said, his voice a little defensive.

Blane clapped Jacob’s shoulder for confidence.

“Just tell me what to do, how I can help,” Blane said.

Jacob nodded. He pointed to some boards and Blane carried them out to the empty balcony. Jacob put his hands on his hips.

“Do you think I should clean it first?” Jacob asked.

“Nah,” Blane said. “We’ll get it afterwards.”

Jacob moved the boards around. He pointed to some others and Blane went to get them.

“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Blane said.

“Sure,” Jacob said. He stopped working to look at Blane.

“Oh, it’s okay,” Blane said. “You can keep working.”

“You’re sure?”

“I am,” Blane said. “I just wanted to …”

Jacob dropped to his knees to hook the pieces together into a triangle. Blane held them while Jacob knocked the pieces into their slots. Blane took a breath and dived in.

“Heather is the person who saved me,” Blane said.

“But we knew that,” Jacob said.

“No, I mean as a baby,” Blane said.

Jacob looked up at Blane and blinked. He thought for a minute.

“I guess that makes sense,” Jacob said.

Blane held the pieces together and Jacob made another triangle. He stood aside while Jacob fitted the A-frame together. Jacob used pegs to hold it the pieces into the notch. Now that these pieces where done, it was easy to see how beautiful the wood was.

“Beautiful,” Blane said.

He ran his hand along the blue tints in the wood.

“It’s that beetle kill pine,” Jacob said. “Jill likes the way it looks. I tried to pick pieces that fit together. No easy task.”

Jacob stuffed a few pegs in his mouth and continued putting it together.

“Hmpfh mft ffff?” Jacob asked.

“How do I feel?” Blane asked with a grin.

Jacob nodded and kept working.

“About being saved by Heather?” Blane asked.

Jacob nodded.

“I’m glad I was saved,” Blane said. “She said that she touched me and that generated the bond between us. You know, since she’s a Goddess now and everything.”

“Huh,” Jacob said, his mouth clear of pegs.

“At the time, I didn’t have a problem with it,” Blane said.

“Do you now?” Jacob asked.

He gestured to the wood in the bathroom and they went back in to get a few more pieces. Jacob pointed and Blane held up one of the A-frames.

“I don’t really have a problem with it, I guess,” Blane said.

“I mean, maybe that bond is what sustained you through everything,” Jacob said, as he attached a board at the apex of the A frame. “Allowed you to love when you were able to love.”

“I guess …” Blane scowled.

“There’s more?” Jacob asked.

“Well …” Blane started.

“Can you hold this one too or is it too much?” Jacob asked.

“Got it.” Blane held up the top board and the second A-frame.

Jacob stuffed his mouth with pegs and set to work again.

“Well, she said that her father shot my father, you know your dad’s youngest brother, with two arrows,” Blane said. “She said that my father wasn’t really angry when he first got there. He was mostly exhausted. But Eros was mad at Heather, so he shot my father with arrows. I know that Eros would think that it was well within his prerogative as a God and everything. It just seems …”

Jacob looked up from his work.

“Unnatural,” Blane said finally. “I guess.”

“It would be easy to think that you would have some idyllic family if Heather hadn’t been there,” Jacob said.

“Yeah, but I don’t think that,” Blane said. “Your dad doesn’t know anything about this thing with Eros. Sam said that my dad killed at least two other kids, could be three or four. And their mothers. It was really only a matter of time before my dad lost it. If Heather hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have survived.”

“What did you do when she told you?” Jacob asked. “What was your first reaction?”

“I just kind of shrugged,” Blane said. “I really love my life now. I know that I don’t have a lover and Heather doesn’t, either, and that will be a change, but right at this moment? Everything is perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. Really.”

“So what happened?” Jacob asked. “Oh, you can let go.”

As if by magic, the structure stayed up. Jacob shook it and checked to make sure it was level. When he nodded, they went back into the bathroom. Jacob pulled out a pin and the bench came apart. They carried the bench bottom to the balcony and Jacob started to attach it to the structure.

“Nothing happened,” Blane said. “I just started thinking and wondered if I should be more upset, you know. She basically said that her father killed my father because of her, and that she made my whole life happen.”

Blane’s voice was laced with anger.

“When I think like that I get really angry,” Blane said. He shrugged. “Then I remember that life isn’t really like that. Even though they might be Gods, they didn’t make the drive to kill that lived inside my father. Eros just made it come out that day. They didn’t make my mother unsafe. Eros just took advantage of the situation …”

“To make Heather feel badly,” Jacob said with a nod.

“Right,” Blane said. “When I think of it like that, I get mad for her. I mean, she didn’t deserve to have such a crappy father.”

“You didn’t either,” Jacob said.

“Right,” Blane said. “So there’s more to this soul mate thing than just some mumbo jumbo of Heather touching my heart.”

“Seems like it,” Jacob said. “In fact, it kind of seems to me like the two of you were meant for each other from the beginning of time. These are just incidents which prove it.”

Blane nodded.

“Does that feel any better?” Jacob asked.

When Blane didn’t respond, Jacob pointed back into the bathroom. They carried the top back of the seat to the porch. Blane held it in place while Jacob reattached it.

“What do you need to feel better about this?” Jacob asked.

“I need to not feel like the pawn of some out of control God,” Blane said.

“But you’re not!” Jacob said. “Eros didn’t connect you to me. He didn’t force you to take the risks you’ve taken in getting the treatment for your liver and finally bone marrow transplant. That’s not to mention leaving Enrique or going to Chef’s school or even going to Chinese medicine school. Those are choices you made for yourself and your life. For all intents and purposes, you made your life.”

“With Heather’s help,” Blane said.

“That’s just dumb,” Jacob said. “She helped you because she cares about you. She would help you drive race cars if that was your passion. She made your life whole.”

Blane nodded.

“You know what I think?” Jacob asked. He stopped working and looked up at Blane. “I think you never had a mother or father, so you never mourned their loss. Now that you have them, even in story form, you miss them and feel their loss.”

Blane gave Jacob a sad nod.

“That’s totally understandable,” Jacob said. “You want a ride?”

Jacob pointed to the bench seat of the glider he’d put together. Shrugging, Blane sat down. Jacob sat down next to him. From where they sat, they could see the shadow of the mountains against the night sky.

“Beautiful,” Blane said.

“I hope Jill likes it,” Jacob said.

“She will,” Blane said. “Frankly, I’m kind of surprised you put it together with your hands and not your skills.”

Blane waved his fingers around.

“Woodwork is best done by hand,” Jacob said with a smile. “Oh. This just occurred to me.”

“About what?” Blane asked.

“Your parents and everything,” Jacob said. “Maybe part of what’s hard is that the mystery of ‘what happened’ is finally over. You’ve carried around this mystery all of your life. Now you know. You probably feel relieved and a little nostalgic.”

Blane nodded.

“Are you mad at Heather?” Jacob asked.

Knowing Jacob wanted the whole truth, Blane was silent for a moment while he thought it through.

“Not particularly,” Blane said. “I’m just …”

Jacob watched Blane for a moment.

“Sad,” Blane said. “I wish there was a way to tell my mother that everything worked out.”

“I think you just did,” Jacob said.

“Is she here?” Blane asked.

“No, at least not that I can tell,” Jacob said. “But I’d guess that she’s never been very far from your side. Of course, we could ask Delphie.”

“I like that,” Blane said. “Makes me feel like I wasn’t so alone.”

Jacob grabbed Blane’s shoulder.

“You’re never alone,” Jacob said. “Certainly, not now.”

Smiling, Blane looked at Jacob and nodded.

“Would you like a beer?” Jacob asked.

“Sure,” Blane said. “But …”

Two beers floated through the loft and out on to the porch where they sat. Blane grinned at Jacob and plucked his from the air.

“Nice,” Blane said. “Hey, how’d it go with Honey today?”

Jacob sighed and told Blane about the inspection. There wasn’t much to say after that so, they sat in companionable silence and drank their beers.


Wednesday evening — 7:53 p.m.

Most of the other people had already gone. Sandy had taken Katy back to the Castle so Jill could wrap up what was left. Jill was picking up the remnants of their last fitting when she noticed Valerie. She was standing in a surround mirror with her hands on her lower belly.

“Val?” Jill asked.

Valerie glanced at Jill and then scowled at herself.

“What is it?” Jill asked.

“Mom always said that I couldn’t have boys,” Valerie said.

“Your mom didn’t know about the curse,” Jill said. “You know, the one that was lifted by Jake when we had the boys?”

“Queen Fand,” Valerie gave Jill a distracted nod. “I remember.”

Jill spied an errant piece of tissue and took a step toward it.

“It’s just that …” Valerie started.

Jill turned to look at Valerie through the mirror.

“I’ve already lost two,” Valerie said.

“The curse wasn’t lifted then,” Jill said with a nod.

“What if it’s not the curse?” Valerie asked. “Mom told me that …”

Valerie shook her head rather than finishing her statement. Jill took another step toward the tissue paper.

“Maybe I’m curse,” Valerie whispered.

Jill walked back to Valerie. She put her hands on Valerie’s arms.

“You are not cursed,” Jill said. “You’ve had a hard time. You lost your first baby when you thought Mike had died. You lost the second when Delphie almost died.”

“Really she died, but you fixed it,” Valerie said.

“So basically, as long as no one dies, you should be in good shape,” Jill said.

“But …” Valerie said.

Valerie’s eyes flicked up to look at Jill.

“Will you help me?” Valerie asked.

“If I can, I will,” Jill said with a nod. “You have my word.”

“But you’re going away and …” Valerie said.

“We’re taking three days,” Jill said. “You can always come with us.”

“Jake would love that,” Valerie said.

“I’m serious,” Jill said. “We’re going with Sandy, Aden, Honey, and MJ. Plus, if you really think there’s a chance you might lose this baby, then I want to help.”

Valerie gave Jill a vague look.

“Yes, I’m sure,” Jill said.

“But …” Valerie started.

Rather than listen, Jill reached around Valerie from behind and put her hands on Valerie’s belly. They stood like that for more than a minute before Jill let go.

“What did you …?” Valerie asked. “Is he already dead?”

“First off, his name is Julio,” Jill said.

“Really?” Valerie asked.

“No,” Jill said with a laugh. “He’s a blob. A healthy blob, but still a blob. Give him a month.”

“But you promised to …”

“I’m happy to,” Jill said.

Valerie looked visibly relieved.

“What about your acting career?” Jill asked. “You’ve been home a bunch.”

“Oh,” Valerie said. “I have a few project scheduled next year. Three I think. I did so much last year, that I wanted some time, you know …”

“To have another baby?” Jill asked.

Valerie nodded.

“There’s a show that wants me to do a guest appearance,” Valerie said. “So I might do that. Mostly, it’s nice to be home. See my baby brother get married.”

Jill smiled at Valerie. Jill looked around the room.

“I think I got everything,” Jill said.

“It looks good,” Valerie said.

“Shall we?” Jill asked.

Valerie nodded. They left the alteration office together.

“Julio?” Valerie asked when they reached their cars.

“Down by the school yard?” Jill laughed.

She waved to Valerie and got in her car. She waited for Valerie to drive off before following her home.


Wednesday night — 10:11 p.m.

“How are you?” Heather asked as she came up into the loft space that was their bedroom.

Blane put his finger over his lips to indicate that Wyn had just fallen asleep on his lap. Heather took the bottle. Blane got up with the baby. Together, they gave Wyn a quick bath. Heather gave him one last snuggle before he went into the bassinette.

Heather and Blane held their breath. They’d been trying to get Wyn on his own for almost a month. But Wyn didn’t like being alone. He cried every time they left him on his own. After a few minutes, they relaxed. Blane pointed to the bathroom. Heather followed him inside.

“How was the fitting?” Blane asked.

He pulled off his clothing and stepped into the shower. She leaned against the doorframe to talk with him.

“Fun,” Heather said. “Everyone looks fantastic. The kids are excited about their chance.”

Heather lifted a shoulder in a shrug.

“So much prep and it will be over in seconds,” Heather said.

Blane nodded. He grabbed a handful of shampoo and washed his hair.

“You know this thing with Fand?” Heather said. “Uh, Queen Fand?”

“Fand didn’t want Abi to have her baby first,” Blane said.

Heather nodded.

“Abi and I exchanged difficulties,” Heather said. “I’m going to help her with this issue between herself and Queen Fand. She and Gilfand are going to work on the Fires of Hell.”

His face covered in soap, he just nodded to Heather.

“I talked to Perses about the best way to do it,” Heather said.

“Did he help?” Blane asked.

“No,” Heather said. “He thinks the entire thing is ridiculous. Suggested a couple of times to eliminate the fairies all together.”

Blane shook his head and stepped under the stream to wash off the shampoo.

“In case you’re wondering, I’m not going to kill all of the fairies,” Heather said. “I just wish …”

“What?” Blane asked.

He turned off the water to the shower, and Heather gave him a clean towel.

“What do you wish?” Blane asked.

“I wish there was someone to ask,” Heather said. “You know about this entire Goddess of Love thing. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”

“Well, what do you want to do?” Blane asked.

“With Fand and Abi?” Heather asked.

“Sure,” Blane asked.

She shook her head and walked into their bedroom. She changed into her nightshirt while Blane got dressed in pajamas.

“This is what I think,” Blane said. “And remember, you asked me. So if it’s crappy advice, then …”

“You’ve never given crappy advice!” Heather said.

Blane grinned at her support of him and Heather nodded.

“You are the Goddess of Love now,” Blane said. “Whatever you do or decide is law. You want Blane to be free of Queen Fand or the end of the Fires of Hell or any other such thing, that’s what will happen.”

“Yes, but is it the right thing to do?” Heather asked.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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