Jacob went to the back of the Jeep, where he kept a pair of work jeans and a T-shirt. He laid his suit jacket and tie inside the Jeep. In quick, practiced motions, Jacob changed from his suit to his work clothing. He left the suit in a tidy, wrinkle-free pile. Running a construction company and working construction on the side, Jacob sometimes changed on the street a couple times a day.
He walked up the wide flagstone sidewalk, past the barren front yard and dry-rotted porch to unlock the front door. For all of the house’s exterior woe, the interior was spotless. Gleaming hardwood shone from every surface. The ceiling of the entry depicted cherubs reaching down from heaven. Jacob wandered on a paper path through the living room, past a stone fireplace to the open kitchen.
He wanted to make sure the kitchen was installed over the weekend. Everything was in except for the countertop. He read the note saying that the granite shipment was delayed and would be installed on Wednesday. He stuffed the note in his pocket as a reminder to call the installers when he got back to the car. The thought of the car brought back him back to Jill.
Jacob’s voice echoed through the empty house. He let out his first real breath since Trevor said he could smell Jill on Jacob.
“What does that mean, anyway?” Jacob asked the empty house.
Valerie was right. He needed to focus on what he was good at — restoring neglected beauties.
“Like you,” Jacob said to the house.
The new owners were doing a walk-through in a week. They hoped to move in by the end of the month so they would be settled by the time their twins arrived. Jacob smiled. Yes, restoring old houses was something he did very well.
Noting the delicate trail of gold inlay on the stair railing, he walked up to the second floor. He hated to do it, but the owners wanted to replace the cut-glass windows on the second floor. They compromised when Jacob told them he could replace the glass but keep the original window frames and sills. He had planned to take the windows out on Sunday. But yesterday he had a non-date with Jill.
Jacob felt his entire body constrict. He couldn’t think about her yet.
After popping out a south-facing windowpane, he went to the three double-hung windows at the front of the house. The window’s wood trim and sill had been stripped, varnished, and wrapped in paper so he could remove the windows. Popping off the inch-wide molding that held the window in place, he heard a noise behind him.
“I’m surprised you’re here,” Mike said.
“The gold inlay looks amazing. Did you finish the entry?”
“It’s gorgeous. I bet their twins will look just like the cherubs.”
Mike shrugged. “Want some help?”
“So that’s what he means when he says ‘my father’s company.’” Jill nodded. “I thought he was just … faking or something.”
“No, Jake loves to restore old things. Fix messes, that’s what Mom used to say. Give him a mess to fix and he’s happy.”
“No wonder he’s interested in me,” Jill said.
“What happened with Trevor?” Jill asked.
“Your ex is going to tell you Jake put him up to the whole thing so Jake could … um … sleep with you.”
Jill curled her lip in disgust. “Trevor is such a weirdo. Everything is someone else’s fault. Trevor never makes a choice and is never, ever wrong.”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
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