“Right this moment?” Jacob asked.
“It was a last-minute cancellation. The scheduled patient spiked a fever,” the nurse said. “You’ll be out this evening sometime. I’m sure you two can talk then.”
Rolling toward the door, Jacob retrieved the box from its hiding place under the covers. He tossed it to Jill. She caught it.
“I love you, Jill. Go shopping. I’ll see you tonight. Tell Aden to check his Blackberry.”
The room door closed and Jill looked at the box in her hand. She opened the tattered old box to find a plush ring box. Biting her lip, she couldn’t decide what to do.
Should she wait for Jacob?
Should she just open it?
The closing elevator doors clipped Aden’s shirt and then bounced open again. Sandy’s head jerked up when he rushed into the elevator. Her stunned face switched to annoyance.
“Are you stalking me now?” Sandy asked. She pressed the lobby button over and over until the elevator doors closed again.
“Stalking?” Aden asked. “I … Listen, I’ve looked all over the city for you. I’ve been to every hair stylist Jake or I could find.”
Sandy raised an eyebrow and smirked. “You came to my salon.”
“Okay, you don’t want to talk to me. I get that. But I … I’d like to understand. Jake says people tell you what’s going on if you ask. So I’m asking.”
Sandy crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head.
“We worked out together for six years. Same machines. Same weights. Same time. We talked … a lot … every day … for years. Then the one time I asked you out, you never came back to the gym.”
“Oh, I go, just not when you’re there.”
“What did I do?” Aden asked. “I asked you out. You said you’d like to go out with me. You said you’d been waiting for me to ask for a long time. Then you changed your number or gave me a fake or … I thought you liked me.”
“Well, I liked you … like you.”
The elevator bounced when it hit the ground floor. The doors slid open.
Sandy tilted her head to the side. She sneered, and said, “But you love your wife? Is that it?”
Aden grabbed her arm when she pressed past him. Sandy glowered at him.
“Will you hear me out?”
Knowing she had to wait for Jill anyway, Sandy shrugged. She would never admit it, but she had missed him. She’d always looked forward to seeing him at the gym. Even now, when she knew he wasn’t there, she still looked for his car in the parking lot.
Holding her arm tight, he guided them through the hospital to a shady spot just outside the door.
“I’m not married,” Aden said. “I was married … a long time ago. But I haven’t been married in ten years. I haven’t even dated in … eight or nine years. Why do you think I am married?”
“Why should I believe you?”
“We can go upstairs and ask Jake,” Aden said.
“Right, like a guy isn’t going to lie for his buddy.”
“Jacob Marlowe is my boss and my friend. We aren’t buddies. Plus, Jacob Marlowe doesn’t lie. He just doesn’t.”
“Oh,” Sandy said. “I … I thought you were a biker.”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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