“Oh my God,” Aden said.
He fell onto the bed. Sandy laughed and rolled onto her side. He caressed her naked shoulder.
“Sorry about the dress,” he said.
“The zipper was stuck when I tried it on. It’s just restuck.”
“Re-stuck? That sounds very fun.”
He helped her out of the rest of the dress and slipped on top of her. She lifted her head to kiss his lips. His eyes gently moved across her face.
“I love you, Sandy.”
Sandy’s entire body reacted in horror. She pushed him off her. Her body vibrated with emotion but she was too upset to speak.
She threw his shoe at him, then another.
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
Aden ducked to avoid a half-full champagne glass that flew across the room at him. Sandy balled up his tuxedo and undergarments. Stomping to the door, she threw his clothing outside her apartment door.
“HOW DARE YOU!”
“Sandy, wait. Sandy.”
Naked, Aden scrambled toward her. When he was close enough, she battered him with her fists. Her face contracted in pain. Her hair fell wild on her shoulders. Her entire body was red with fury.
One at a time, Aden caught her fists. She jerked her hands away. But he held them firm.
“I’m sorry I frightened you.”
Sandy jerked her hands away from him. Aden held them firm. Seeing that it was fruitless, she bit her lip and glowered at him.
“I’ll let go of your hands if you stop hitting,” Aden said. “Can you stop hitting?”
She looked away from him. Without warning, Sandy fell to her knees. Her mind and body were overwhelmed with agony. She moved so fast that she pulled Aden down on top of her. Aden wrapped himself around her crumpled form. He rocked her back and forth while she cried.
“Please go,” Sandy whispered between sobs.
“No,” Aden said. “I won’t leave you like this. I won’t do it.”
“No. Don’t ask again.”
She dared to look into his face. In the torrent of tears, her makeup had smeared down her cheeks. The pain in her eyes was almost unbearable to Aden.
“Why did you say that? About me?”
“I’ve loved you for a long time, Sandy. It’s why I didn’t ask you out sooner. I felt too strongly about you.”
“How can you say that? You don’t know me at all and …”
“Shh …” He wrapped her in his arms until her tears slowed. “Let’s just get through this. What would help?”
“Baking,” they said together.
“Why don’t you make some cookies?” Aden kissed her cheeks.
“I need to clean up,” she said. “What about your kids?”
“They love Delphie and the Castle. We’ve stayed in one of the apartments before. I’m sure we can stay there again.” Aden scratched his head. “I canceled their camp for next week because I thought they’d be with Nuala. We’d probably end up staying at the Castle anyway so I can work and take care of them.”
“I’ll call while you clean up.”
He helped her to her feet and walked with her to the bathroom. He turned on the shower and helped her step in. Under the warm water, Sandy cried her heart out.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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