Anyway, he planned to work today then drink himself to sleep tonight. That’s what he did every time he left the kids at Nuala’s house. In fact, he already told Jake he was going to be hung over tomorrow. Lying in that hospital bed, wrapped in gauze and sprouting tubes like hair, Jacob Marlowe laughed at him.
Aden tucked the box into his pocket and went through the tunnels to the workshop. Back in the car, he worked his way down Colfax to Colorado Boulevard. He had just enough time to run a couple errands before getting to Jake’s room.
Valerie waved from the side door of the Castle. Her publicist, Jennifer Lowe, weaved through the paparazzi with expert ease. Valerie hugged her. Jen pulled back to give Valerie a long look.
“I don’t know about this whole marriage thing, but you look great,” Jen said. “A little thin. How’s your brother?”
“Better, thanks. Yeah, I’ve lost weight this week,” Valerie said. “But I feel good. Really good.”
“You’re sure you want to go out in public with this guy?” Jen asked.
“My husband?” Valerie asked. “Yes. I want him to be a part of my life. I thought we could introduce him to everyone at a party next week? Maybe Friday?”
“What about Wes? He’s sure acting like he wants you back something awful.”
“Awful is the word.” Valerie shook her head. “That’s all over. Plus, he texted me to say he has a new ‘girl.’” Valerie imitated Wes’s voice, “‘No hysterics, Val. I can’t wait for you forever.’”
Jen shook her head. “Will you …”
“I’m exactly where I want to be,” Valerie said.
“Okay, let’s take a look at this guy,” Jen said.
“Right, your husband,” Jen said. Under her breath she added, “You’re going to have to say that a million times.”
“He’s painting in his studio out back,” Valerie said. “I have to call him.”
Mike answered immediately and said he would be right over.
“I love this house, Val,” Jen said. “It’s very … gothic-modern. Is this his house?”
“My mother bought it before her death. Mike and my brother fixed it up. Of course, Mike did the murals, ceilings, and detail work,” Valerie said.
“He’s very talented.”
“He is. I’m here probably six months out of the year. A week here … a week there. We have our own private apartment, plus all of this.”
Mike came in from the kitchen wiping his hands on a rag. Seeing Val, his face lit up in a bright smile.
“When did you get back?”
As if drawn by a magnet, Valerie fit under the arm he wrapped around her. He kissed her head.
“Jen wanted to meet you,” Valerie said.
Jen had to wipe the stunned look from her face. Mike was almost the exact opposite of any of Val’s other men. He was big, muscular, and very hairy. He looked like the kind of person you’d find at the end of a hockey stick or maybe on top of a John Deere. He was not the kind of man you’d find standing next to a movie star. Jen shook her head.
“He’s not going to work,” Jen said.
“What?” Mike asked. “Why?”
“We need to get Ramon,” Jen said.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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