“I know can you believe that crap? It’s that Valerie Lipson. I mean, who cares?” Sandy said as Jill opened the door to the apartment. “Hi honey. How’s our Katy?”
“Asleep,” Jill said. Hoping to silence her friend, Jill held her arms out for a hug. Sandy hugged her.
“Oh I know! She’s a total D-lister,” Heather said. “Hey Jill, did you see the paparazzi around that mansion? The radio says it’s that soap slut Valerie Lipson. You know, ‘Denver’s own star.’”
“What’s she doing?” Tanisha asked. “Taking her clothes off again?”
The friends laughed.
“Hi you guys,” Jill said. “Why don’t you come in and meet my brother’s wife?”
Stepping out of the doorway, she raised her eyebrows in a “shut up”. Her friends were so caught up in their world that they missed her signal.
“You know what Perez says….” Heather started. Her mouth fell open when she saw Valerie standing in the living room. “What? What?”
Heather stopped walking so suddenly that Sandy and Tanisha bumped into her.
“You’re right. I’m a total D-lister.” Val shrugged. “I don’t have any idea why anyone would give a shit what I do.”
The women gawked at Valerie.
“I’m Val,” Valerie said.
“Here’s my question,” Tanisha said. “Why would you work porn? I mean your Daddy’s rich. Was it like a phase or some rebellion?”
“I never worked porn,” Valerie said. “Listen, you came to see Jill and Katy I can just….”
“No,” Jill said. “I’m not going to kick Val out because you guys are being rude. Knock it off.”
“Well I want to know,” Tanisha said. She put her hands on her hip as if she wouldn’t give it up until her question was answered. “I mean, every girl has a chance to do porn. I have. Jill has. And we need the money. Why did you?”
“I never worked in the adult entertainment industry.” Val’s hands bounced her size ‘A’ cup breasts. “Don’t really have the parts now do I.”
“I saw those pictures,” Sandy said. “You’re bigger in the pictures.”
“I was pregnant in the pictures,” Val said. She shook her head slightly. “My husband was deployed to the Middle East. I took those pictures for him. The pictures were forcibly removed from him. They were sold to the press by my step-sister.”
“Trevor’s whore?” Heather asked.
“She sucks.” Sandy had a sheepish expression on her face. “Why does Perez hate you so much?”
“He has a crush on a friend of mine…. You know, my first ex-fiance? Sean?” Val shrugged. “He thinks that I’m keeping him from his true love.”
“Oh,” Heather said. “Sorry. We didn’t mean to….”
“It’s all right.” Val shook her head. “If people believe this stuff, I need to get used to explaining my life. It’s just complicated, you know?”
The women nodded their heads in unison.
“Well, that Wes?” Tanisha said. “You know, I never liked that man. I always though he was… slimy. And too old. I bet he has to take those blue pills.”
“TANISHA!” Jill’s horrified voice echoed in the small apartment.
“Uh huh,” Sandy and Heather said in unison. “We thought that too.”
Valerie laughed at the truth reflected to her in these stranger’s faces.
“I especially don’t like him now,” Heather said. “I mean you seem so nice. And he’s just… bleck.”
“He is not saying nice things about you,” Tanisha said.
Val’s took a quick in breath. “How bad?”
“Bad,” Tanisha said.
Sandy and Heather’s heads bobbed up and down.
Valerie closed her eyes. She crossed her arms so that her hands held her in a tight hug. The world seemed to wobble on its access. She felt like she might throw up or faint.
Feeling movement in the room, she opened her eyes. Mike. Mike wrapped her in his arms. Holding him to her, she knew that she was right where she was supposed to be, exactly where she belonged.
Jill tiptoed across her living room. When Mike and Jacob arrived with food, Katy was ready to entertain. Even lagging a little, she kept the adults laughing with her endless stories of her hospital adventure.
After everyone left, Jacob insisted on caring for Katy to give Jill time to deal with her life. Jacob and Katy played with Barbies for a while. He taught Katy how to play tic-tac-toe. When Katy’s eyes drooped, they watched her favorite cartoons on videotape.
Jill peeked in a couple times to see how they were doing. Katy and Jacob went from playing on the couch to laying on the floor. Jacob made a bed for Katy out of the couch cushions. The last time Jill checked, they were sound asleep.
“Oh sorry,” Jacob said. He woke when she touched him. “I haven’t slept much in the last couple days.”
“I don’t know why.” Jill smiled.
His chuckle woke Katy. Katy opened her eyes to watch them whisper back and forth.
“My boss called. He can’t find something he needs. Would you mind watching Katy for an hour or so? I should be right back.”
“I’m happy to hang out with Katy. Is that all right with you, Katy?”
Katy nodded her head up and down.
“Would you mind if Katy and I went to the Castle?” Jacob asked. “I’m sure Mike and Val could use some help getting ready for dinner.”
“I want to go to his house, Mommy,” Katy said.
“Ok Katy-baby, let’s get you dressed for dinner. I’m going to get your stay the night stuff together so you can sleep if you need to.”
“When does she take her medication again?”
“In an hour,” Jill said. “Do you mind just hanging here while I take care of this?”
“Not at all.”
Jill gave Katy a quick bath then dressed her in her hand me down ‘fancy dress’. Katy was beginning to sag again by the time Jill finished packing Katy’s pony bags. She carried Katy into the living room but stopped, stunned at the door. Jacob had cleaned up the toys and couch cushions. He even replaced the rug where it belonged. She shook her head as if she couldn’t believe what she saw.
“Mommy, I think I need to sleep,” Katy said.
“Should we stay here?” Jacob asked.
“No, she sleeps like a rock. If you don’t mind keeping her with you, she’ll sleep almost anywhere.”
Jacob took Katy’s worn leather saddle bags. He arched his eyes in question to Jill. She smiled and nodded toward the door. He opened the door so she could carry Katy from the apartment.
Walking down the hall, she said, “The bags are another long story. For now, you should know that these are Katy’s pony bags. I’m sure she’ll tell you all about them when she’s feeling better.”
He followed Jill out of the apartment. Jill set Katy in her car seat and was surprised when Jacob took the passenger’s seat.
“You can just drop us off at the workshop,” he said. “We can take the tunnel into the Castle.”
“I usually take the bus.”
“You may as well take the car. Do you have money for parking?”
Jill looked in her purse. She had a dollar in quarters and a prescription for Katy. She would use the dollar for the meter but the prescription…. As if he read her mind, Jacob set a hundred dollar bill in her purse.
“For the meds,” he said.
She blushed. “I….”
“Don’t worry. I’ll put it on your tab.” He winked.
“Thanks. I didn’t know….”
“How to get the prescription filled? I figured as much,” he said. Jacob took her cell phone and dialed his number. “Now you have my number. Just call me when you’re done and I’ll meet you at the workshop.”
She nodded and drove to his Detroit St. workshop. Jill waved at Jacob and Katy when she pulled out. Driving down Detroit street, she watched them waving in the rearview mirror.
Her baby girl in the arms of her….
“What’s next?” Mike asked.
They were sitting in the Jeep. They had spent the last hour in SOL in North Cherry Creek. The owner, Cindy Johnson, escorted them into a private fitting room where Val teased Mike with lingerie. Mostly, she looked at underwear and bras for her new Denver life. Jacob planned for everything except decent underwear.
“Want to do something really fun?” Valerie asked.
“More fun than watching you try on lingerie for an hour? No, darling, there’s nothing better than that.”
In a swift motion, Valerie slipped her knee over Mike’s lap. Sitting facing him, she kissed with long pulling motions. Then as fast as she was there, she moved back to the passenger seat. Mike was so dazed it took him a few moments to speak.
“Yes dear,” Mike said.
“So you want to do something fun?”
“Whatever you say.”
Valerie laughed. His arms moved around her to kiss her. She turned her head away. He laughed and kissed her cheek.
“What did you have in mind?” Mike asked.
“Safety deposit box.”
“Your wish is my command.”
“But… but….” Jill couldn’t breathe.
“Get the fuck out of my office!” The rolls of fat under her bosses chin vibrated with his scream.
“I have sick time. I have vacation time. I….”
“I don’t give a shit what you have or don’t have. If you don’t get the fuck out of my office, I will have you arrested!”
“You are such a whining little bitch,” he said. Imitating her voice, he whined, “My daughter.”
“Listen, you have no right….”
Jill started then jumped back when he let out a rage filled scream: “AGHHHH! I don’t give a fuck about your daughter or you.”
He jumped from his seat so fast that Jill cowered as if he was going to hit her. He pushed his bulk pat her to the door.
“Please, sir,” Jill whimpered. “I’m very sorry you couldn’t find the email. You’re absolutely right. It’s entirely my fault.”
“Damn right it’s your fault.”
“I really need this job.” Jill couldn’t keep herself from begging.
“That’s not my problem anymore.”
He wrenched the door open and pointed.
“Please Mr. Ashforth.”
“Get the fuck out of my office and my company. If I even THINK you’re near the building, I will call the cops.”
He grabbed Jill by the elbow and dragged her through the office. While horrified employees watched, he threw her out the door. Jill landed in a heap on the sidewalk. He threw her purse at her. Her purse opened in mid-air spilling its contents all over the sidewalk.
Her nylons ruined, Jill scrambled to pick up her purse when a woman ran across the street to see if she could help. Together, they picked up her belongings. When Jill looked back at her office, she gasped, bit her fist, and then went blank. Unsure of what to do, the woman found Jill’s phone on the sidewalk. The stranger pressed send to dial the last number Jill dialed. Maybe someone knew this poor woman.
“Hello? I’m sorry. I am in… uh… Denver. I saw this woman thrown out of an office. I think she was assaulted but I can’t tell. She’s very upset.”
“Where is she?” Jacob asked.
“Brighton Boulevard and E. 36th St.,” the woman said.
“I hate to ask you this, but will you stay with her. I certainly will compensate you for your time. She gets overwhelmed and…”
“You don’t have to compensate me. I’ll stay with her. I have time,” the woman said. “Just come and help your friend. I’ve never seen anything so awful.”
“I will be there as fast as I can get there,” Jacob said.
Clicking off his cell phone, he looked at Delphie. They were standing in the middle of his apartment while Katy slept on his bed.
“You were right,” Delphie said.
“Just tell me. She’ll be all right?” Jacob asked.
He slipped his arms into the jacket his black Bioni ‘power’ suit. Delphie straightened his tie.
“She will be fine,” Delphie said. “I’ll stay here with Katherine. Just….”
“I know. Be myself,” Jacob said. “Can I kill him?”
Delphie smiled. “You know what to do.”
“You’ll talk to Dad?” Jacob asked.
“I already have,” Delphie said.
“Thanks,” Jacob said.
“Jake?” Delphie hugged him. “I love you.”
“Love you, Ruth.”
He was halfway down the long stairs from his apartment when Delphie called his name. He turned and she threw him a box of Kleenex. Catching the tissue box, he stopped short for Valerie. Valerie came out of the house and waited for him on the landing. She nodded.
When Valerie walked across the grass, the crowd and photographers began screaming her name. Jacob ran toward the garage. Using his remote, he started the Aston Martin DBS while the garage door opened. Valerie moved toward the opposite edge of the property. The photographers and crowd followed Val and the driveway cleared of people. Jacob drove the silver two-seat sports car to the fence. With the Denver Police holding the stragglers back, Jacob hit the street.
Gratefully, Monday afternoon traffic was almost non-existent. He took Colfax to Park Avenue West. Even with a few red lights, he managed to make good time. Turning on Broadway, he made the easy transition to Denver’s oldest warehouse district on Brighton Boulevard.
Nearing 36th, he noticed a Denver Police Cruiser and a policeman talking to Jill. She was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. Jumping from the car, he jogged to her. He dropped to his knees to scoop her up.
Jill felt his safety first. Then she could smell him. Jacob. In a snap, she returned to the present. Seeing Jacob, she hugged him to her. He helped her to her feet then tucked her into his shoulder. Jill buried her face into his neck.
Jacob spoke with the police officer and took the business card of the woman who stayed with Jill. Wanting to get her somewhere safe before the inevitable storm of emotion, he led Jill to the Aston Marin. He was halfway around the car when Jill starting to sob. Slipping into the driver’s seat, he leaned over to pull Jill onto his lap. While the Aston Martin pumped out soft music and air conditioning, Jill cried her eyes out.
Denver Cereal continues next week….
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