“I know plenty of men like that,” Valerie said. “But Jill, you have to know a few things so you can be prepared.”
“First, Jake had no idea you were our stepsister’s fiancé’s anything. In his boy mind, you lived on a whole other planet than them. He knew our stepsister was serious about someone through our father. Jake promised Dad he would pay for the girls’ weddings. So Dad let him know she thought she might get married soon.”
“Huh,” Jill said. “Jake paid for the engagement party.”
“Jake paid for the engagement party.”
“I wondered because no one expected to get paid … for their work, you know? Because of me. But everyone got checks. That was Jake.”
“That was Jake. He wasn’t going to go to the engagement party, but Delphie talked him into going. He brought some friends along to keep him company. He figured he would hang out with his friends, write a check, and go home.”
“Dr. Drayson said he was at the party. He helped us at the hospital.”
“John’s married to Alex Hargreaves. Our lawyer, Max, is Alex’s identical twin.”
“Twins? Really?” Jill said. “Wait. I know them. They come into Pete’s. I call them ‘my lucky twins.’ Brown hair, big eyes, tall but very thin?”
“That’s them. They’re kind of hard to miss.”
“Are you friends with them? They’re like the Catholic elite here in Denver. Their brother Colin testified this morning at the restraining order hearing and their dad helped find me in Costa Rica. Anyway, I like them, but I’m a little intimidated by them.” Jill blushed and looked down. “But then …”
“I was terrified to meet you! I watch Our Loves, Our Lives whenever I can. Candy, my sister, tapes it for me. She watches it for Mike. We’d do anything for Mike. Then we got hooked. Candy’s a pastry chef because of Mike. Oh!”
Jill put her hand over her open mouth. Valerie smiled.
“Putting things together?”
Jill nodded. “You paid for Candy’s school after Mike died.”
“I promised Mike I would always take care of his family. I tried to get you to go to college, but Meg said Trevor took your first semester tuition.”
“We have to talk about Jake,” Valerie said.
“Okay,” Jill said.
“Jake didn’t know you were divorced until he came to the apartment right after the New Year. The owner was going to tear the building down and sell the lot. Jake came by to see if he wanted to refurbish the building.”
“This place?” Jill looked surprised. “There’s nothing here a wrecking ball wouldn’t fix.”
“Exactly. But Jake gets called because he pays top dollar and saves owners a lot of hassles. Anyway, he had just finished touring the building when you came home from the market. You were bawling in your car. The elderly lady who lives on the first floor saw Jake gawking at you.”
“Mrs. Robinson,” Jill said. “She’s a menace but has a big heart.”
“She told Jake your husband divorced you the day before, leaving you penniless with a baby. That’s how he found out. But he didn’t know that your husband was marrying our stepsister.”
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because Trevor is going to say Jake knew about it all along.”
“Oh, I see. He was just waiting to pounce at the engagement party. For a pouncer, he was very … sweet.”
“Jake’s very sweet. Anyway, Jake carried your groceries up to your apartment that day. You don’t remember?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow...
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