Sandy and Heather’s heads bobbed up and down.
Valerie closed her eyes. She crossed her arms so her hands held her in a tight hug. The world seemed to wobble on its axis. 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 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 lying on the floor. Jacob made a bed for Katy out of the couch cushions. The last time Jill checked, they were sound asleep. He woke when she touched him.
“Oh sorry,” Jacob said. “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.
“Okay, 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 and 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 saddlebags. He arched his eyebrows 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 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?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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