“So Wonder Woman, are we moving all this stuff to your apartment at the Castle?” Mike asked. He gestured around the apartment.
The first thing Jacob noticed was the silence. Not quite alert and not quite unconscious, he scanned his immediate environment for sound. Nothing. He felt tiny fingers pressing his eyelids apart.
“Katy,” Jacob whispered.
“I knew you were in there,” Katy said.
He opened his eyes and found her face about an inch from his face. He attempted a smile. Katy patted his cheek.
“I’m not supposed to be here.”
“Psshft. Mommy says this is called a ‘hospital.’ That means a house for sick people. I was in a hospital but I still don’t remember being sick.”
Jacob smiled and the little girl laughed.
“I wanted to know if you would be my daddy,” Katy said. “No one will tell me so I thought I would just ask you myself.”
“I’d be honored to be your daddy,” Jacob said.
“No matter what?”
“No matter what. Pinky swear?”
Katy held out her pinky and they shook pinkies.
“Katherine Marlowe Roper!” Jill scolded from the doorway of the room. “What are you doing here?”
“But Mommy! I didn’t touch any of the white gauze!”
Katy seemed to fly through the air when Jill lifted her from the bed.
“Hi,” Jill said.
Holding Katy in her arms, she leaned over to kiss him. His left hand cupped her face while his thumb caressed her bruised cheek. His concerned eyes asked the question, but Jill shook her head. Her eyes flitted to Katy. Jacob smiled.
“We haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Where am I?” Jacob asked.
“You have a private room. It’s funny, because there’s been a whole bunch of people here — your family, my family, people from work, the police, your entire hockey team. This is the first time you’ve been alone. Well, not quite alone.” Jill looked at her daughter. “You are in big trouble, Little Missy. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
“Oh,” Jacob said. “Don’t be too mad. She’s very sweet.”
“He’s going to be my daddy,” Katy said.
“We pinky swore,” Jacob said. “Plus she’s a Marlowe.”
“In honor of Celia M … Oh.” Jill blushed. “Sorry. You don’t have to …”
“Oh, honey …” Jacob’s energy evaporated. He closed his eyes, and then opened them. “I want to be her daddy. Sometimes … things … defy …” He let out a breath. “Explanation.”
She thought he was unconscious again when his eyes popped open. His eyes shifted to look at Jill, and then he said, “Are we engaged?”
“Do you see a large diamond?” Jill held up her left hand as a joke but he was already out.
“Are you going to marry my daddy?” Katy asked. “Well that’s perfect!”
Katy clapped her hands together and Jill laughed.
Thursday night — 7 p.m.
<p>Mike looked down the Castle’s dining room table at his brother, Steve, and Steve’s wife, Leslie. They were as silent as Megan, Tim, and Candy on the other side of the table. Jill was at the hospital for her first official “date” with Jacob. Delphie was entertaining Megan’s kids and Katy in one of the sitting areas. The clinking of silverware echoed in the formal dining room.</p><p>Valerie slipped her hand into Mike’s. He turned to look at her. She had lost weight this week. Tonight, her beautiful black hair was held back with a simple band. Her face was makeup free. When she smiled, he felt the same heart-constricting feeling he had felt the first time she smiled at him.</p><i>The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow...</i><br><strong></strong>
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