“No problem, I’ll translate,” Alex said. “Claire brought a few dresses for you to look at. I guess you’re having a party next week?”
Valerie nodded her head.
Alex puzzled at Val’s timidity and shrugged. “Claire has a line of clothing coming out in the fall. She wanted to know if you might take a look. She thinks the clothing will look great on you.”
Valerie nodded. Smoothing her hair, Valerie glanced at Claire just as Claire’s baby peeked over at her. Val’s heart melted. Her anxiety slipped away in the dark eyes of the six-month-old baby.
“Meet Gerard,” Claire said. “Would you like to hold him?”
“I … I’m a little baby crazy right now,” Valerie said.
“I’ve always been baby crazy,” Claire said. “Why don’t you hold Gerard and I will take some measurements? Okay?”
Valerie nodded. She took the baby from Claire. Enraptured by the warm bundle in her arms, she didn’t notice Claire buzzing around her.
When Mike returned to the Castle living room, Valerie was singing to the baby. His heart stood still at the sight. She looked up at him and smiled.
He jerked back to the present when the young man touched him. Frederic was holding a couple pieces of fabric up to him.
“What are you doing?” Mike asked.
“I need to know what colors work on you and get your measurements,” Frederic said. “Don’t worry, man, you’re not my type.”
“You’re not gay? I mean, I don’t care if you’re gay, I just don’t want …”
“My girlfriend would hate it if I were gay,” Frederic said.
“How come you do this?” Mike asked.
“We don’t choose our gifts,” Frederic laughed. “My mother is a great designer. You’ll see when your wife tries the off-the-rack. Maman also brought a couple of her original gowns.”
Mike nodded his head as if he understood. He mostly hoped the young man would stop touching him. Mike didn’t like to be touched very much. In fact, outside of a quick hug from people close to him, the only person who touched him was Val.
“What are you comfortable wearing?” Frederic asked.
“Your legs are too big for these Levis,” Frederic said. “They can’t fit well.”
“They don’t. But I like them.”
Frederic shook his head. “Bring me what you have.”
Mike went off to the apartment for his jeans. When he returned, Valerie was wearing a brown pencil skirt with a jacket. The brown was just a shade lighter than her dark hair. She was so beautiful that he had to stop to catch his breath.
“Wait until you see the gowns,” Frederic said. “This is our first attempt at an off-the-rack line. It’s nice, yes?”
“Yes,” Mike said. “What does that mean, off-the-rack?”
“It’s a line that can be sold off a rack in a store,” Frederic said. “My father retired and needed something to do. This was his idea. So, we’re trying women’s clothing in the fall and men’s in the spring. Maman wants to create children’s clothing as well.”
Mike nodded again as if he understood.
“These are the jeans?” Frederic asked. “Can you put them on?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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