Valerie sat next to her father. She held out her hand and Sam took it.
“We had this arrangement for Briana. Tiffanie would drop her off at the office almost every night. You’ve met Briana? She’s really a wonderful little girl. I don’t know how I did it but I was Briana’s daddy. Tiffanie and I had lunch three times a week or so. We’d talk about finances. She set up society functions, nights at the country club, stuff like that. Just like when she was my secretary, I did what she told me to do, then returned to the Castle at night.”
“It was your photos that finally woke me to my life,” Sam said.
“My photos?” Valerie asked. “But …”
“I was approached by someone saying they had naked photos of you. I paid … a lot of money for them. Originals. When I saw them, I knew what they were. I called Patrick Hargreaves. You know, Alex and Max’s dad? I knew he was in the military before he was a senator. I figured he’d know what to do.”
Valerie nodded her head.
“He confirmed that Mike was missing. He took the photos, saying he’d look into it,” Sam said. “The next time I had lunch with Tiffanie, we decided that I would move in. We would try it as a married couple. Everyone believed my trophy wife and I were happily married.”
“It didn’t go very well. I had loved your mother for more than half my life. I couldn’t imagine even sleeping in the same bed with another woman. I moved into one of the spare bedrooms in Tiffanie’s show home.”
Sam fell silent. Not sure what to do, Valerie changed into another outfit. She was zipping the skirt when Sam said,
“I thought about killing myself every moment of every day.”
“My children were gone. My Celia was gone. I … I don’t know how long we went on like that. One night, Tiffanie came in and … “
“She was pregnant already,” Delphie said. She came into the living room from the kitchen. Her crossed arms and pursed lips betrayed her indignation. “She wanted to pretend that Becky was Sam’s child. But Sam can’t … and …”
“That didn’t go very well either,” Sam said. “I moved back here the next day.”
“God, I hate that woman. I just …”
“Delphinium, please. For me. Let’s not do that today,” Sam said. “I just have one more day.”
“Sorry, Sam.” Delphie smiled.
“Would you mind telling Val the rest? I have to find my tux.”
“I had it cleaned,” Delphie said. “It’s in your closet.”
“And the shirt?”
Sam smiled his thanks.
“You have to find the cufflinks yourself. I couldn’t find them.”
“The cufflinks? It’s going to be a long day.”
“Why don’t you shower? I’ll tell Val the rest.”
Sam nodded. He was half way out of the room when Valerie said, “Dad?”
Sam turned and Valerie ran into his arms. They held each other and cried. After a moment, Sam kissed her cheek and went down the hall to his room.
“He lives in the birch room, the one Celia died in. He’s happiest there, I think,” Delphie said.
“Is it hard for you?” Valerie asked.
“That Sam is hung up on Celia?”
“I’m hung up on Celia. No, it’s not hard.” Delphie smiled slightly. “After all these years of knowing him, it’s nice to have a deeper relationship. Does it bother you?”
“No, I used to say to Mike that I didn’t know why he was with Tiffanie and not you.”
Delphie smiled. “Would you like to hear the rest of this?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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