“Money makes the world work,” Jill said.
“Not really,” Jacob said. “Come on. I promised no hanky-panky on our non-date. You need to rest. Tomorrow is going to be another long day. Let’s just rest for a while. I can take the couch …”
“I don’t mind if we share a bed,” Jill said.
Jacob nodded. “Bathroom?”
Jill shook her head. He took her hand and held the covers for her. He went into his closet to change into another white T-shirt and slipped into the bed next Jill. When he held his arm out to her, she snuggled against him.
“I guess I made a fool of myself,” Jill said.
“Welcome to the club.” Jacob chuckled.
“How did you get so much money if you don’t care about it at all?”
“Oh, Jill, that’s a long, complicated answer and you’re exhausted. Let’s save some excitement for our second non-date.”
Jill stretched up to kiss him.
Snuggled together, their lips began a gentle exploration of each other’s mouth and tongue. When Jacob moved to kiss her face, he found her cheeks wet with tears. Pulling back to look at her, he saw that she was crying.
“What is it?” he whispered.
“I just feel really sad,” Jill said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Jacob pulled her tighter into his arms. Tucked against his chest, Jill began to sob. He stroked her back and head until her emotional storm abated.
“Your shirt is drenched,” she said.
“Easy remedy,” Jacob said.
He gave her a tissue for her nose and pulled off his shirt. She tucked herself against him and fell sound asleep.
“I love you, Jill,” he whispered.
She stirred with his words, opened and shut her eyes. He smiled. Closing his eyes, he fell into a blissful sleep.
Jacob woke to the sound of his Blackberry buzzing. Someone had sent him a text. Jacob shifted his shoulder and Jill rolled over. The clock read 3:07 in glowing red numbers. The site managers start up at five, so it couldn’t be work. He lay back against the bed.
The Blackberry continued its persistent buzz.
Someone needed his attention.
Slipping from the bed, Jacob crept across his apartment. He dug around in his laptop case until he found his vibrating phone. Looking at the face, he saw the same text repeated three times.
“Where the fuck is my sister?”
“She’s asleep,” Jacob texted back.
“Stupid fucker,” Mike texted.
Hoping to not wake Jill, Jacob slipped out of the apartment. He had just reached the bottom of the stairs when Mike pounded on the door. Jacob opened the door.
Mike hit him like a ton of bricks. Jacob stepped aside, redirecting Mike’s energy, and Mike fell forward.
“I cannot believe you would take advantage of my sister when she is vulnerable.”
Mike took a swing at Jacob, which Jacob easily avoided.
“You done?” Jacob asked.
Mike shifted to throw Jacob over his hip, but Jacob defended his position. The men stood in the small landing looking at each other.
“You want me to be with your sister. You’ve said that over and over again,” Jacob said. “Plus, nothing happened.”
“Then why don’t you have any clothes on?” Mike was mad but calming down.
“She cried on my T-shirt. I took it off because it was soaked,” Jacob said. “Besides, who are you? The morality police?”
“As far as my baby sister is concerned, asshole.”
“I’ve never come after you about my sister. And she was fourteen years old!”
“Fifteen. But I was only seventeen.” Mike grinned. “I love Val. You know that.”
“I love Jill. You know that. So what’s the problem?”
Mike looked at his boots for a moment, and then shrugged. “Breakfast?”
“Sure,” Jacob said.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
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