“Here you go, Jilly,” Mike said. “I brought three.”
One at a time, Jill tried on the black tux jackets with peak lapels and tails. She selected the one Mike thought made her look the sexiest.
Jill gave herself an “I can do this” nod in the mirror.
She clutched Megan in a hug. With tears in her eyes, Megan released Jill.
“Love you, sis,” Megan said, and then closed the apartment door.
Mike escorted Jill through the crowd of neighbors. Everyone wanted to cheer Jill on today. One last, “Make us proud,” and Mike closed the door to the front seat of the limo. Slipping behind the wheel, Mike told her that Steve, their middle brother, said the guests had all arrived.
Jill would be the last one to show.
With a nod of his head, Mike started the limo. They turned down Thirteenth Avenue to make their way through the slow Friday afternoon traffic. Never one for conversation, Mike was relieved when Jill turned on the radio. They drove in silence to the Seawell Ballroom, Denver’s grand ballroom, the place where her soul mate was announcing his step up in life.
When Mike turned onto Speer Boulevard, Jill closed her eyes to review. Her best friend, Sandy, had squeezed her in between paying clients. Talking non-stop about “that prick Trevor,” Sandy had colored, curled, and primped Jill’s hair until it fell in beautiful, honey-blonde waves.
She had spent an hour at the MAC counter at Cherry Creek Mall, where Heather worked. Heather tried this mascara and that shadow. Careful not to mess up her hair, Jill washed her face at least three times before Heather was satisfied with her makeup. As Jill was leaving the shop, Heather pressed a bottle with the last drops of her favorite French perfume into Jill’s hand.
“Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry,” Heather said. “You’ll ruin your make-up.”
Jill had borrowed the vest and tie from Jack, her next-door neighbor. The vest was part of Jack’s uniform as a valet at the Brown Palace. She touched the vest remembering her promise to Jack that she would not get it stained.
Tanesha had arrived at the apartment just before Megan. She assured Jill that the Italian bra and matching panties she’d bought for her had been on sale. When Jill went to put them on, she saw the tags. A hundred dollars! A piece! On sale!
Knowing she had been caught, Tanesha shrugged. “Once in your life, you deserve something beautiful. Especially today.”
Megan had come in when they were hugging, and it was back to the business of getting dressed. Her stockings were sheer, black, and beautiful. Jill was certain she had never worn such beautiful undergarments.
I wonder what Trev’s gonna …
She bit her lip to keep from finishing the thought. She wasn’t out of the habit of thinking of Trevor as her love, her life. Maybe tonight would do the trick.
Jill jerked back to the present when Mike touched her leg.
“You better get in the back, sis,” Mike said. He pulled the limo to the curb at Colfax Boulevard.
Jill went to the back of the limo, where she found a single long-stemmed, white rose with a red ribbon around it. She caught her brother’s eye in the rear-view mirror.
“I thought you could strangle him with the ribbon.”
At least people loved her. All of her low-life friends — that’s what Trevor called them now — had pulled this off. They waited the tables at the event, tended bar, played in the band, provided security and helped her get ready. They all wanted to show Trevor that he may be moving to an ivory tower, but it’s friends that make a life.
“Ready?” Mike said. He extended a hand to help her out of the back of the limo. Their brother Steve met them at the curb.
Nodding, Jill kissed his cheek.
“Love you, sis,” Mike said. “I’ll be here ’til it’s over.”
“Oh, Mikey, what about work?”
“The boss said you can have the limo and me all night. He thinks Trevor is a world-class jerk.”
“Don’t kiss him again,” their brother Steve said, taking her arm. “Remember, high-class women don’t fraternize with the help.”
Jill took Steve’s arm. “Please thank Leslie for taking care of Katy tonight.”
“We love her,” Steve said. “It’s easy. Now go in there and make us proud.”
Clutching her long-stemmed rose, Jill took the escalator up toward the ballroom. Her heart pounded in her chest and her pulse thumped in her ears. If she hadn’t been riding an escalator, she would have certainly run back to the limo. She shifted her feet back and forth on the step.
“I can do this,” she reminded herself when she reached the top.
Letting out a breath, Jill waited for security to notice her.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
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