Valerie Lipson opened the door of her Malibu condominium — their Malibu condo — and walked into the hall. Standing at the door, she gazed across the apartment to the pounding surf. She would miss this view.
Her eyes shifted to her engagement ring tucked into its Harry Winston box on the floor. People magazine said Ronald Winston, Harry’s son, had personally selected the yellow diamond. Wes paid a cool three and a half million dollars for perfection in a size seven. Valerie tugged her note from under the ring box and set it in front. Wes would see the note first.
One last check. Yep, she had everything.
Valerie pulled the door to the condo closed and locked the bolt. Holding the keys in her hand, she closed her eyes. If she had keys, she could always come back.
In one swift motion, she shoved the keys through the mail slot.
Standing, she picked up her suitcase and walked to the elevator. A trip home to Denver to reset her life. A fresh start. That’s exactly what she needed. Her BMW M3 convertible roared to life in response to the thought.
Flicking on her blinker, she felt real regret. She wished she could be what Wes needed. With a sigh, she merged into Pacific Coast Highway traffic.
How long had she been she engaged this time?
Longer than the last two … Valerie counted the months on her fingers. Five months. Valerie shook her head. Three engagements, hundreds of men, and the red-headed witch was still right.
Wes’s face flushed red when he asked, “Please marry me, Val. All I want to do is take care of you for the rest of my life.”
And the only thought in Valerie’s head was “See Delphie, you were wrong! I can love someone other than Michael Roper.”
She squealed when he gave her the ring. They made Viagra love for hours. When Wes fell asleep, Valerie cried into her pillow.
She would make this work. She was going to make this work. She had to make this work. She was going to love Wes.
The day her engagement to Hollywood producer Wesford Kapanski was announced, the blogosphere vibrated with nasty comments and vicious opinions. Perez Hilton posted a photo of Val and Wes with a huge white X over them. Every night, Entertainment Tonight did the “Val Count” for the number of days they were engaged. Vegas set the line at fifty to one that Val would marry Wes.
Valerie worked to love this man.
But no amount of lovemaking, ocean views, or expensive gifts removed her ever-present thoughts of Mike. Caffeine helped. Alcohol was better. But nothing ever really washed that man from her mind. This morning, she realized that becoming the seventh Mrs. Wesford Kapanski wasn’t going to cure her.
“You will only have one love, Val,” Delphie had said to a sobbing Val. Mike had left for basic training ten minutes before. “You will cause yourself great hardship if you can’t allow yourself to love him, marry him, and make him your world. He is your true love. Children born of love, like your parents’, are only satisfied with true love. There’s no more powerful force in this world.”
God. No one believed in true love anymore. After six years of starring on a popular soap opera, Valerie knew everything there was to know about love. Men cheat. Men lie. And women suffer.
Not that she hadn’t learned that from her father.
Delphie was wrong about her parents. She had to be wrong about Mike.
“Where you going, hon?” the clerk at the Frontier Airlines ticket counter asked.
“Denver. The soonest available,” Valerie said.
“You’re Valerie Lipson,” the clerk said.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow...
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