Grand Junction — 6 years of Denver Cereal in 10 books
A boxset of 10 books for half-price individual books
Grand Junction runs from the peaks of heartwarming romance to the valleys of desperate trauma all bound together in by the strong friendships and fierce love that is the hallmark of Denver Cereal. Since 2008, Denver Cereal has been sweet, crunchy, and addicting fiction published one chapter a week. Grand Junction is a collection of the following books:
“It sounds pretty weird,” Sissy said to Sandy as they shared a contraband pint of butter pecan ice cream.
“It was weird,” Sandy said with a nod.
“And the final outcome was some Carl Jung stuff about the shadow?” Sissy asked.
“Exactly,” Sandy said. She looked into the ice cream container before setting it down. “All gone. Sorry.”
“It was delicious,” Sissy said with a smile.
“I’m amazed at how well you’re doing, Sis,” Sandy said. “I really thought I’d lost you this last time.”
“I thought I was done too,” Sissy said. “Jill and her grandfather have saved my life.”
“Oh? Huh,” Sandy said.
“I think you saved yourself, they just helped the process along,” Sandy said.
“Why do you say that?” Sissy asked.
“I was reminded today that love is the most powerful force in the world,” Sandy said. She gave Sissy a soft smile. “You have Ivan now. There isn’t much you two can’t do.”
“But…” Sissy sighed and lay back on the bed.
“What’s going on?” Sandy asked.
“They asked me to move here,” Sissy said. “I guess you know that.”
“Ivan told me,” Sandy said.
“What do you think?” Sissy asked.
“It doesn’t matter what I think, Sissy,” Sandy said. “It only really matters what you think.”
“Oh,” Sissy said. She didn’t say anything for a few minutes.
“You love Ivan, right?” Sandy asked.
“I think so,” Sissy said.
Sandy grinned at her sister.
“What?” Sissy asked.
“You used to talk a lot more freely about loving Ivan when you were four years old,” Sandy said. “Do you remember?”
“So…?” Sandy asked.
“That was before I knew about…” Sissy lowered her voice, “… sex.”
“Ah,” Sandy said. “You’re worried about sex.”
Sissy winced and Sandy smiled.
“Sexy,” Sandy said with a nod.
“And has been with lots of people,” Sissy said. “And I… He wants me to live with him. I’ve been really sick and I don’t feel ready to… you know, I mean I want to, but… maybe not for a while… I mean, I just had my first grown-up kiss. Well, second if you count that time under the mistletoe with Charlie’s friend, Carlos.”
“Carlos,” Sandy said. “That’s right. I’d forgotten all about him.”
“I haven’t,” Sissy said with a firm nod.
“Is Ivan pressuring you?” Sandy asked.
“Not at all,” Sissy said. “We agreed to go really slow. He says he doesn’t want to blow it now.”
“That sounds good,” Sandy said.
“I know,” Sissy said. She smiled.
“But if you live with him?” Sandy asked.
“I don’t know,” Sissy said. “Don’t you think I should date a little bit?”
“Well, dating is really about trying to find the right match,” Sandy said.
“What about random sex?” Sissy asked. “You used to really like that.”
“There is no Trickster,” Perses said. “That is the trick.”
Every head turned to gawk at him.
“But… Katy and…” Jill started.
“It was one thing for me to be tortured, but when my daughter, Hekate, was tortured by the creature…” Perses scowled. Jill’s eyes flicked to Anjelika. There was not even a glimmer of jealousy on Anjelika’s face. Instead, she was listening to him intently. Jill turned back to look at her father. “I looked the world over for a millennium. I was intent on destroying this creature that dared to torture my beautiful daughter. I followed every lead, listened to every wise man, shaman, and even the infernal Plato. I promise you, there is no Trickster.”
“Then what is this thing?” Fin stood up and turned to face Perses. “I still have nightmares about my time with…”
Every head moved up and down in agreement.
“I still wake screaming,” Delphie said. She shivered.
“The Trickster is the dark side of our gifts,” Heather said. “This dark side must be resolved in order for us to use our gifts for good.”
“Are you saying Katy has some really dark side?” Jill asked. For her own comfort, she picked up Katy. Understanding her mother’s fear, Katy pressed her face into the crook of Jill’s neck. “My Katy?”
“That makes a hell of a lot of sense,” said Seth, ignoring Jill’s fear. He put his hand on Delphie’s shoulder. “You are so powerful that you would have a depth of shadow…”
“Like Jung’s shadow?” Sam said. “Celia and I went to a Jungian therapist to have our dreams analyzed. Delphie, you remember.”
“That’s actually the first time I got a handle on the entire business,” Delphie said with a nod.
“But Katy…” Jill said.
“We need to help Katy become whole without tearing herself apart,” Perses said. “These suggestions are useful.”
“But you’ll help?” Jill asked.
“Of course,” Perses said.
“I will do as I pledged,” Fin said. “Will you help our child?”
“I will,” Perses said.
Fin’s head went from person to person and saw that they all agreed.
“Then we are in agreement,” Perses said. “You will help, Katherine, as I will help your children.”
Some said “yes,” while others simply nodded.
“Good,” Jill said. “Thank you.”
Caught up in their own thoughts, everyone stared straight ahead. The warm companionship of the afternoon slipped away and they were merely powerful individual who happened to be the same place. The gathering was clearly over. Jill thanked each person individually as they left.
“How do you think it went?” Sandy asked as she left.
“I know what we need to teach Katy,” Jill said.
“Seems like something we should teach all of our kids,” Tanesha said. “Jabari could use it. Hell, I need to learn to plant my feet.”
“She’s right,” Heather said. “Tink could really benefit from knowing this stuff.”
The girlfriends nodded.
“Are you back to the hospital?” Heather asked Sandy.
“I need to find out what Sissy wants to do,” Sandy said.
“Any ideas?” Tanesha asked.
“She’ll stay here in New York,” Sandy said. She gave her friends a sad smile. “She’s on her way to her dreams. We are already in her rearview mirror.”
“Not until we teach her this stuff,” Tanesha said. She held out an arm and Sandy let Tanesha hug her.
“Sissy will need to know it,” Heather said with a smile.
Sandy gave them a sad smile.
“I should go,” Sandy said. “You want to share a cab?”
“Sure,” Jill said.
The solemn mood stayed with them long after they left the apartment. The girlfriends knew that they would each have to confront their inner demons some day soon.
CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE (part three)
“I can see anyone’s destiny,” Delphie said. “Anyone.”
“I don’t have to play for anyone who asks me,” Seth said. “My music is a gift, and I choose who gets to hear it.”
“First step,” Otis said with a nod. “You decide who gets your gifts. Your choice. Next step, pick those who are worthy and cause your gift to grow like compound interest.”
“I guess, I was trying to match what they said, with my own experience of the Trickster,” Abi said. “And I have to say…”
She glanced at Fin, who was watching her face. She gave him a soft smile.
“This kind of knowledge — who to use your magic with, who to pick — it’s taught in Fairy 101,” Abi said.
“I learned to ground before using the piano,” Seth said with a nod. “It was the first lesson my mother gave me.”
“Me too,” Delphie said with a shrug. “It’s something that must happen if you’re going to reach out to the ether.”
“This is really good,” Sandy said with a bright nod. “Everyone will be able to help.”
“Mom? Otis?” Jill asked. “Delphie? Seth? Will you teach Katy what she needs to know?”
“Of course,” Seth said at the same time Anjelika said, “Absolutely” and Otis nodded.
“Delphie?” Jill asked.
“Oh,” Delphie looked embarrassed. “I’m already doing that with Katy.”
Jill looked down at Katy, who nodded.
“You don’t give your precious brownies to just anyone!” Katy said with a grin.
Jill smiled at Katy’s oft-repeated statement and realized that Delphie was already teaching Katy valuable lessons.
“Will you continue?” Jill asked.
“Of course,” Delphie said. “Seth, me, Anjelika, and Otis — we’ll do it.”
“You can trust us, Jill,” Otis said.
Jill nodded her thanks and turned to Sandy, Sam, and Mike. They looked at each other until Mike pointed to Sandy. She nodded.
“We, um.” Sandy stopped talking as soon as she noticed that everyone was looking at her. She tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear and swallowed. “We believe that the reason humans don’t have as much trouble with this Trickster is that we, humans I mean, know that love is everything.”
Sandy cleared her throat.
“Love is the most powerful force on this earth,” Sandy said.
“If Katy is able to keep loving, she’ll be able to vanquish her Trickster like that.” Mike snapped his fingers.
Sam nodded. The room was silent for a moment. Tanesha started to applaud and soon everyone was clapping.
“Stand your ground,” Katy burst out saying. She jumped up and down. “Stand your ground. Stand your ground.”
“What?” Jill looked down at Katy.
“He’s teaching Paddy to use his shiny sword,” Katy said with a giggle.
“Plant your feet,” Abi said in her distinctive Isle of Man accent. “It’s ‘plant your feet.’”
Katy danced around for a moment because she got it right. Jill looked up at Fin and saw the fairies grinning at them.
“The key is to make certain you are grounded,” Bestat said. “It’s not always where your feet are. Often it’s your mind and soul that are in the clouds. We must learn to ground to the earth. Without grounding, we have no traction.”
“We are unable to move with our feet on the ground,” Mari added.
“Our minds, hearts, and souls must be planted firmly on the ground,” Fin said. “This is what I learned when I was with the Trickster.”
Mari, Abi, and Bestat nodded in agreement.
“What do we think?” Jill asked.
“So we have one thing to teach Katy,” Jill said. “Will you…?”
She looked at the fairies and they nodded.
“It would be my honor, as well,” Bestat said.
Jill beamed at them. She put her arm around Katy’s shoulder to stop her from dancing around.
“Grandfather?” Jill asked. “Will you honor us with your learned opinion?”
Hearing the sarcasm in Jill’s voice, Otis laughed.
“It was not such a long time for me,” Otis said. “So I have better memory. My angel is much younger than either of you old geezers.”
Perses and Fin laughed. Mari turned around on the couch to watch him. He grinned at her and she smiled.
“This will not be a surprise to you, Jillian,” Otis said. “It is the rules of our work as healers.”
Jill tipped her head to the side.
“You gain more if you use your gifts for worthy causes,” Otis said. “That is what I learned. My daughter, knowing my learning, was able to slip away from the Trickster. Her children weren’t disturbed by him at all.”
“How do you determine what is a worthy cause?” Mike asked.
“This is the question, no?” Otis asked.”You may give to someone with cancer, but only drive the cancer to grow faster.”
“And it’s not always about what you gain,” Anjelika said. “You can give a lot to a worthy cause and gain nothing. That doesn’t make it not a worthy cause.”
“Mmm,” Otis said. “Maybe it’s better to say ‘When you give to a worthy cause, it grows exponentially.’”
“That’s it,” Seth said in encouragement.
“Make more sense?” Otis asked.
“If you want to heal an entire family, cure the parents,” Otis said. “It will grow to the children.”
“Same for sick children,” Anjelika said. “Heal the doctor, the nurses, and the most sick child. The whole hospital will feel it.”
Anjelica and Otis nodded as if what they were saying made perfect sense. Everyone in the room looked at them in a kind of confused silence.
“What are you talking about?” Jill asked finally.
“I think we can help,” Seth said. He nodded to Delphie, who sat up a little straighter.
“The Trickster taught me that I didn’t have to give away my gifts to just anyone,” Delphie said.
When Bestat, Fin, Abi, Mari, and Tanesha laughed, Jill looked up from where she had been coloring with Katy. She glanced to the back to see that Anjelika and Otis had their heads pressed together like they were plotting how to get back at Putin. Heather and Jill’s father, Perses, looked immensely civilized as they drank tea near the edge of the room. From where she sat, she could tell that Sandy, Sam, and Mike were engrossed in an out and out battle to the death game of hangman. A burst of laughter came from the kitchen where Seth and Delphie were supposedly putting together snacks.
“You think it’s time?” Jill asked in a low voice to Katy. The girl gave her mother a sincere nod. Jill smiled. “You want to stay here?”
With her eyes wide and luminous, Katy shook her head. Jill held out her hand and Katy took it with a smile. They walked to the front of the room. Katy leaned against Jill so firmly that Jill put her arm around the child’s shoulders.
“It looks like you’re done,” Jill said.
The room fell into a deep silence. Jill cleared her throat. Seth came out with a tray of mixed drinks which he started passing around the room. Delphie set out a tray of sliced meats and cheese.
“I’m wondering if you might have…” Jill swallowed hard. “Um…”
“We came up with one thing the fairies and Bestat learned from the Trickster,” Tanesha said.
“We have too,” Sandy said. “Just one though.”
“We have one,” Delphie said. She scurried over to sit back down in her spot. Seth sat next to her.
Otis raised his hand, partially stood, and nodded.
“If it’s not the same thing, then one is good, I guess,” Jill said. She looked from face to face. “Is it the same thing?”
“No,” Delphie said. “We are willing to teach Katy…”
“…all of the children,” Seth said with a nod.
“Right,” Delphie said. “We’re willing to teach all of the children our skill.”
“Yes, we will too,” Fin said.
“Same,” Otis said.
Sandy nodded. Jill glanced at her father and he gave her a sincere nod so similar to Katy’s that Jill looked down at her daughter. Katy smiled.
“We’ll go first,” Fin said at the same time Mari said, “Fairies first!”
Otis groaned and rolled his eyes. Delphie gave a little giggle.
“Does anyone mind?” Jill asked. She glared at her grandfather, “Otis?”
“It’s fine,” Otis said.
Fin grinned at the sound of his voice.
“Let them talk,” Otis said.
Fin mouthed his words. Abi nudged him with her elbow. Tanesha looked embarrassed, and Bestat glanced at Otis.
“Go ahead,” Jill said to Fin.
“When the Trickster had me…” Fin said. “I… Well, it was a very long time ago.”
“Not longer ago than when he had me,” Perses said.
“Touché,” Fin said. He turned and nodded to Perses. “And you’re right. You’re a lot older than I am!”
Everyone laughed at the way he said the words.
“Please, little one,” Perses said. “Go ahead.”
Everyone laughed, and Fin cleared his throat.
“When my soul was taken by the Trickster, there were not guns or ammunition or planes or… toilets for that matter,” Fin said. “We had swords. And not great swords. We had big, heavy, dull swords. I went around and around and around with him until I learned to…”
“Stand your ground,” Katy burst out saying. She jumped up and down. “Stand your ground. Stand your ground.”
“She said she would wait to talk to you before saying anything,” Nadia said with a shrug. “We have another option.”
“Okay,” Sissy said.
“Ms. Behur has offered to have you continue to stay with her,” Ivan said. “She said you were welcome there as long as you want to stay.”
“Seth O’Malley said you’re welcome to stay in his apartment,” Nadia said. “He said that was the original plan.”
“Before we knew someone was trying to kill us,” Sissy said with a nod.
“The question is…” Nadia started and then looked at Ivan.
“Would you like to stay in New York City?” Ivan asked. “Or go back to Denver?”
“Gosh, I…” Sissy said. She blushed.
“Why don’t you think about it?” Nadia asked.
“But…” Ivan said.
Nadia gave him a hard look.
“No, we have to decide…” Ivan said.
“Sorry, Sissy,” Nadia said. “Ivan needs a moment.”
Nadia winked at Sissy and Sissy smiled.
“Mostly, I wanted you to know that you’re welcome here,” Nadia said. “In our family, I mean. As Ivan’s love, I mean.”
Nadia’s face flushed.
“Nadia needs a moment,” Ivan said with a wink.
“Thanks,” Sissy said. “It’s all just been… a lot.”
“Miss Delgado?” Sissy recognized her doctor’s voice. “Are your sister and aunt here?”
“We are,” Nadia said brightly.
“Dr. Kerminoff,” Sissy’s doctor said. “Ivan.”
“You can talk in front of them,” Sissy said.
She suddenly felt overwhelmed and exhausted. She waved her hand for the doctor to continue. He started talking about the wonderful things he and his team had done to save Sissy’s life. The more he talked the more Sissy checked out.
Ivan wanted her to live with him. Nadia was going to be her friend and family. She could stay in New York! Sissy’s heart fluttered as the glimmer of her original dream of being a real ballerina with a real company appeared in front of her. She glanced at Ivan, and he smiled at her. She felt such a well of strong emotions that she had to break her eyes away from him.
The doctor kept talking. Sissy glanced at the clock, and hoped Sandy would be back soon. Sissy took a clear breath. Her life was starting again. Grinning, she tried to listen to the doctor. Her eyes flicked to Ivan. He had been watching her. When he saw her eyes on him, he flushed. Sissy realized that she’d seen him do this before. In that moment, she realized that Ivan had always loved her, not in some creepy way. He just loved her. The thought made her smile.
“I’m glad you’re smiling, Miss. Delgado,” the doctor said. “You have a lot to smile about.”