“I’m Frederic,” a young man said in heavily accented English.
“Nice to meet you, Frederic. I’m Mike.”
“Yes. I need you to take your clothing off.”
“Why?” Mike asked.
“I have to see what your body looks like in order to make sure we get something that looks right …um … right for you.” The man touched his arm. “I can’t tell with this on.”
“But …” Mike said.
The young man cocked his head and laughed. He said something in French and they all laughed.
“Why don’t you hit the shower?” Alex asked. She pointed to his unbuttoned 501s.
“He’s not coming into my shower,” Mike said.
“You’re such a homophobe,” Alex said. “Chill out. I’ve had to take my clothes off in front of everyone too. Scared them with my scars. Frederic? You want him in underwear.”
The young man said something in French. Everyone laughed.
“Do you have any briefs?” Alex said. “He won’t like your boxers.”
Mike looked at Alex and nodded.
“Great. Wear those,” Alex said. She whispered to him, “They’re very particular about undergarments. They usually just buy mine but they know my sizes and stuff.”
Mike nodded to Alex and started walking toward the kitchen. When he turned into the stairwell, he found Valerie peeking around a corner. Valerie was dressed with full make-up and her hair was curled. She looked every bit the movie star.
“Do you know who that is?” Valerie whispered. “That’s Claire Martins. She’s a world-famous designer. Designs for the Queen and … No one in Hollywood has worn her dresses … and they’ve tried. I …”
“I mean, real A-list stars have begged to wear her gowns. Remember the vintage Dior gown Reese wore? Her stylist camped out in Paris for a week to see if he could get a Martins gown. He found the other gown while he was killing time between begging. He thought that beautiful dress was a good second. A second to a Claire Martins gown! And …”
“She wants to talk to you, Val.”
“Where are you going?” Valerie asked.
“Alex said shower. Just following orders.” Mike shrugged. “Honey, just go talk to them.”
He gave her a little push toward the living room.
Valerie stood in the doorway to the main Castle living room watching Mike’s guests. Alex and Max were clearly a part of this little group. Claire Martins had a long, black braid down her back and was carrying a Baby Bjorn across her chest. There was a young man stretched out on the couch. They seemed so happy together …and so French. Val’s heart raced with panic.
Max saw her from across the room. She couldn’t escape now. She raised her hand to say hello.
“This is my dear friend, Claire,” Alex said. She came over to give Valerie a hug. Leaning in, she said, “She speaks English but she’s impossible to understand when she’s excited. Do you speak French?”
Valerie shook her head.
“No problem, I’ll translate,” Alex said.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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