“Ma’am,” the driver said.
He held open the door to the small limousine and Valerie stepped into the back. The flight attendant had escorted Valerie to an employee’s garage, where the limousine was waiting.
“Michael usually drives me,” Valerie said.
“I apologize, ma’am. Mr. Roper was previously engaged. We attempted to shift his assignment but his client specifically requested him six months ago.”
Valerie watched the man come around the limousine and then step into the driver’s seat.
“Wedding?” Valerie asked.
“Bachelor party.” The driver started the car. “Better him than me. Where am I taking you?”
“Race and Colfax,” Valerie said.
“So, Val. Are you going to marry Wes?” The driver looked at Valerie through the rear view mirror.
Valerie smiled her movie star smile.
“What’s this about a husband?” the driver asked as the window to the passenger compartment closed. Valerie clicked off the microphone.
Slipping on her sunglasses, she tried to figure out how to see Mike and not seem desperate.
For two years, four months, and fifteen days she had been desperate. Desperately lonely. Desperately sad. Desperate to move on. Desperately lost.
Then Michael Roper returned to her life. She was leaving the Ivy in West Hollywood on the arm of a handsome, and secretly gay, actor when she saw Mike. Fifty pounds lighter and broken, Mike Roper stood on the sidewalk waiting for her. If the actor hadn’t been holding her up, she would have collapsed to the pavement. Somehow, they managed to miss the watchful eye of the ever-present paparazzi. They escaped to her home in the Hollywood Hills.
They didn’t leave the house for a month. They argued until they made love. They made love until they were exhausted. They ate whatever could be delivered, bathed together and barely dressed. The incredible draw toward each other remained impossibly strong.
But the obstacles were much greater.
Losing Mike, her baby, and her mother in the course of two weeks had been too much for Valerie. She had become bitter and pessimistic. She would never trust him, or anyone, again. While her words lashed at him, her hardened heart froze him out.
Mike’s unspoken experience had left him shattered. Moment to moment, his moods were unpredictable. One moment, he would sob. The next moment, he was punching walls and screaming at the top of his lungs. Then, worst of all, her best friend and lover would appear from inside the wreckage of this man. Valerie ached for her Mike.
A month after Michael Roper returned to her life, he disappeared again. He left a note saying he had to “get right” before he could be with her. By the time he reappeared, she was a star on one of the most popular soaps and engaged to the gay actor.
As the limousine pulled up in front of the Castle, Valerie wondered what to do about Mike.
“Where to?” Jacob asked.
They were sitting in his Lexus SUV outside the hospital. With her sisters’ help, Jacob and Steve were able to get Jill into the car. Jill didn’t want to “abandon” Katy at the hospital. Sitting in the passenger seat, Jill looked longingly at the hospital.
“I should stay here,” Jill said. “Katy needs me here.”
“I will bring you back before Katy is even awake to need you,” Jacob said. “I promise.”
“I don’t want to go home,” Jill said. “I can’t … I can’t look at her things.”
“Okay,” Jacob said. “Would you like to come to my house?”
Jill bristled, then nodded. She knew what was expected of her. Jacob started the car and moved toward Seventeenth Avenue.
“How did you know?” Jill asked
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow...
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