“You’re not going to Mass,” Sam said.
Valerie was standing in the middle of the Castle living room. Her eyes flitted back and forth from a stack of beautiful clothing to the gorgeous hanging gowns. She was trying to decide what she wanted to try on next when her father came in.
“I’ve avoided it for all these years. I’d hate to break my record.”
“When does Jake wake up?”
“Three or four o’clock. Jill called this morning and he was still out.”
“They’re releasing him today?”
“That’s what the doctor says. We’ll know more when he wakes up.”
Sam nodded. He sat down on one of the couches.
“Wedding today,” he said.
“Why do you bother?” Valerie asked.
Looking over at her, he sighed. He shook his head and picked a chocolate-brown sweater tunic from the pile. Valerie took the sweater from him and pulled it on.
“That’s very nice,” Sam said. “It’s a good color on you.”
Valerie looked at herself in the full-length mirror Mike had brought from their apartment. She rotated back and forth in the mirror, then sneered at herself.
“Since we talked, I’ve debated with myself about how much I need to know about you and your … wife.”
When Valerie spun around to him, Sam chuckled to himself. Valerie’s face mirrored Celia’s “you’re in big trouble Mister” face.
“I agreed with your mother’s plan, but I didn’t really think it through,” Sam said.
They said together, “Typical man.” They laughed.
“She was so sick, Val. Not even Jake realized how sick she was. And she was adamant. She wanted out of that pretentious house. She wanted to finally live in central Denver. We’d owned this house for …”
“You owned this house?”
“Own. Yes. We bought it right before you graduated from high school,” Sam said. “Celia loved this house and wanted to find a place Delphie could live and walk to work. Delphie never had two pennies to rub together. So we bought it. We were going to move but were afraid it would be too much for you at college and Jake in high school.
“She got so sick so fast. It was like walking off a cliff. After almost a decade, all of a sudden she wasn’t going to survive the year.”
Sam’s eyes welled. He shook his head and looked away. Valerie busied herself with trying on another outfit while he regained his composure.
“I did whatever she wanted. Sell the house. Done. Get a divorce to split up the company. Done. Marry Tiffanie. Done. But leave Celia’s side? Not a chance. We moved in here together. I worked to reformulate the company. She wanted me to transform the company from single-owner to a board of directors, and … I worked fourteen or fifteen hour days. Not even Jake knew I was here every night. Then she died, and …
“I woke up one day about two years later and … Jake was at college. I didn’t remember taking him. You were an actress. And I was married to Tiffanie.”
Valerie sat next to her father. She held out her hand and Sam took it.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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