CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-TWO
Monday early-morning — 3:21 a.m.
“Hey,” Jacob said in a soft voice.
Jill was sitting in their reclining love seat near the windows. He could just see the top of her head over the cushion. When he came around the loveseat, he saw that Jill an arm over Katy and another over Paddie. The children’s faces were tucked up between the couch and her body.
Jill opened her eyes when Jacob touched her knee. She gave him a lovely smile which his body responded to immediately. Grinning at his lust, she glanced from side to side. He gave a nod to acknowledge the children.
“What’s happened?” Jill whispered.
“I’ve been waiting for a call from the governor,” Jacob said.
Jill nodded as if that was obvious. He looked a little embarrassed but continued.
“He just called,” Jacob said. “We have funding for ‘at least’ one of the projects, possibly all of them.”
“But he’s not sure?” Jill asked.
“He’s only sure about the one,” Jacob said. “We should know more by the end of today.”
“What does that mean?” Jill asked.
“He wants us to get the first project up and running,” Jacob said. “He said that it will show people that we can do the project ‘safely and efficiently even in a pandemic.’ He wants to tour the site by no later than this afternoon.”
“Yikes,” Jill said. “What will you do?”
“I’ll call Aden,” Jacob said. “But. . .”
“His hands are full with all of this job share stuff,” Jill said.
“Exactly,” Jacob said. “Do you know if Blane and Heather are in the new house?”
“They finished moving in last night,” Jill said. “After dinner with the Templars.”
Jacob gave a worried nod. His eyes drifted across the street. He wondered if he should interrupt Blane now that his dreams had come true.
“You were working on this,” Jill said.
Jacob’s eyes flicked back to her. She nodded.
“You should call him,” Jill said.
“Who?” Jacob asked.
“Blane,” Jill said. “He’s waiting for your call.”
“But. . .” Jacob said.
“He’s your friend and cousin,” Jill said. “He’d want you to call.”
Jacob gave her a worried nod. He and Blane had gotten close after Enrique was out of Blane’s life. In all of their years together, Blane hadn’t had a love relationship. As happy as he was for Blane, he worried about what that meant for him.
“You’re being silly,” Jill said.
He scowled rather than admit that she was right.
“What happened here?” Jacob nodded toward Paddie and Katy.
“Their friends went home,” Jill said. “Paddie has been so sick that he and Katy haven’t been able to play with their friends. He’s ready to play now, and they’ve gone home.”
“And Katy?” Jacob asked, reaching out to smooth his precious daughter’s hair.
“Our daughter will never miss a chance to participate in a meltdown,” Jill said.
“How is Julie?” Jacob asked.
“She went home today with Connor,” Jill said. “We thought that it was a good chance for her to see if how she does at home. She called around dinner time and said that she is okay. Cian sent that boy Hermes over with dinner. You remember him?”
“Hermes is staying with her,” Jill said. “Samantha home back last night; Erin, too. Julie thinks that she’ll be okay.”
“Paddie?” Jacob asked.
“He’s going to stay here until she has a chance to get settled,” Jill said. “Colin will be home in next day or so. When they’re settled, Paddie will go home.”
“Or not,” Jacob said.
“Does it matter?” Jill asked.
“Not to me,” Jacob said.
“All of the kids are gone?” Jacob asked.
“The visitors,” Jill said. “Most of them. Beau and Chase are asleep with our boys.”
“I saw Max,” Jacob said. “He returned from Washington this afternoon. He said that he would be home mid-day and pick them up. I guess, Wyatt’s been working like a madman.”
“John, too,” Jill said. “Alex and John’s kids are staying with Val and Mike.”
“Cian came to pick up his own kids?” Jacob asked, allowing his judgement to seep into his voice.
“Hey, Ooljee said that she wanted to be here,” Jill said responding to his judgement. “She said that she bugged him mercilessly so that they could come here. He didn’t know that his son was sick because he’d been with his grandparents.”
“You’re right,” Jacob said. “I shouldn’t judge.”
He nodded and looked away from her.
“They did have fun, didn’t they?” Jacob asked.
“They did,” Jill said. “It’s been really fun.”
“You’ll have to open the Marlowe School,” Jill said, almost to herself.
Jacob nodded. He looked away and then back at Jill.
“I have so much to do,” he said. “All I want to do is crawl onto the couch with you and the kids.”
Jill gave him a soft smile.
“I’d like that too,” Jill said.
Jacob looked away again.
“This pandemic is going to ask a lot of us,” Jacob said. “We’ve already been stretched in ways we never would have expected. There’s no way to know what’s going to happen next.”
“That always seems to be the case,” Jill said. “Just a few years ago, I could have never in my wildest dreams imagined the life we have now.”
“We’ll be okay,” Jill said.
Jacob gave her a worried nod.
“I should go,” Jacob said.
“Call Blane,” Jill said.
“Go to bed,” Jacob said.
Jill grinned at him.
“Good plan,” Jill said. “Can you. . .?”
Jacob picked up Katy. Sound asleep, Katy nestled into him. Jill held out Paddie and Jacob took the child from her. Jill got up.
“Actually. . .” Jill pointed to the small restroom out here.
Jacob nodded. Jill slipped into the restroom. Jacob carried Paddie and Katy to Katy’s room. Jill returned in time to slipped Katy into her bed while Jacob was changing Paddie. Jill put Paddie into his bed. The children settled in to the warm quiet of their familiar beds.
Jill kissed Jacob as he pulled the door to Katy’s room closed.
“Good luck today,” Jill said. “Remember, you’ll be called to do things that you cannot imagine doing.”
“Delphie?” Jacob asked.
“You,” Jill said. She kissed him again. “We’ll be fine.”
“Thanks for taking care of everything that matters,” Jacob said.
She gave him a soft smile. He stroked her cheek and turned to leave. He looked back when he reached the door. She was just moving into their bedroom.
Smiling to himself, he left the loft and dialed Blane. He was halfway down the stairs when Blane picked up.
“Where are you?” Jacob asked.
“Waiting for you in the kitchen,” Blane said with a laugh.
“What?” Jacob asked.
Jacob made it down the stairs. He saw Blane standing in the kitchen making coffee. Jacob hugged him.
“How did you know?” Jacob asked.
“I know the man,” Blane said with a grin.
“Delphie?” Jacob asked.
“No, actually,” Blane said. “I just. . . I don’t know, I knew you’d get something going.”
“We need to go,” Jacob said. “The governor thinks that we can get the funding for the other two sites, but only if we get this one up and running today. He wants to tour it with the press so he can show how Colorado gets things done safely.”
“Then let’s get it up and running,” Blane said.
“I have to call. . .” Jacob started.
Aden came into the kitchen. Jacob’s mouth fell open. Laughing, Blane held out an arm and the men hugged.
“How. . .?” Jacob asked.
“We moved back last night,” Aden said. “I thought it was foolish, but Sandy wanted to be with her friends and the kids. Plus, that Quanshay did her toes. Sandy’s been very upset about her ‘ugly toes.’”
The men gave each other baffled shakes of the head. Aden shrugged.
“What can I say?” Aden said with a shrug. “I’d do anything for her.”
Aden smiled and put his hand on Jacob’s, “And you.”
Aden looked at Blane.
“What’s next?” Aden asked.
“The governor wants us to get a site up and running. He wants to show it off today,” Blane said. “If we can get the site up and running, then he thinks that he can get the money flowing.”
“Let’s get a site up,” Aden said.
“Aren’t you too busy with. . .?” Jacob started.
“Bambi and Honey have that,” Aden said. “Let’s call Rodney and see if he can get his people going.”
“Between his team and DeShawn, Jason, and Pete, we’ll have people on site in an hour or so,” Blane said. “We should call Mark.”
“He and his team are subbing in with Honey,” Jacob said.
“At his insistence,” Aden said.
“At least we don’t have to listen to him complain,” Blane said.
“Speak for yourself,” Jacob said. “Okay, I’ll call Rodney. Blane, can you contact the equipment guys? We need to move everything to the new site.”
“They’ll complain,” Blane said.
“Everyone has a complaint,” Jacob said. “It’s tough, stressful times.”
Blane nodded and started dialing.
“Me?” Aden asked.
“We need the entire executive team,” Jacob said. “Contracting, evaluation, those guys in. . . what do you call it? Your new group?”
“Carbon neutral,” Aden said.
“Can I help son?” Sam’s scratched and breathy voice came from behind them.
Shocked, the men turned to look at Jacob’s dad. Jacob’s eyes welled with tears.
“Dad,” Jacob said.
“I’m not at my full strength son, but I can certainly make phone calls,” Sam said.
“Great,” Aden said. He put a cell phone into Sam’s hand. “Can you call those assholes in. . .”
“Scheduling?” Sam said with a cough-like laugh. “Of course.”
“We need a schedule for this project,” Jacob said, over Blane talking into his cell phone. “We weren’t supposed to start it for three months.”
“Got it,” Sam croaked.
Jacob guided his father into a chair at the kitchen table. The men set to work. By the time the sun was rising, equipment was moving toward the new site and the building crew were on site, ready to build out the buildings needed to get the project going. Rodney and the other site managers had set up a rotation of their people. With luck, by mid-day, they would the site would be ready for review.
“You know what the governor said?” Jacob asked in a quiet moment. Aden, Blane, and Sam turned to look at him. “He said that he could give us this work because of our mask policy. Crazy. These masks are putting people to work.”
“People wearing the mask,” Aden said.
“Delphie was right,” Blane said.
“As usual,” Aden said.
“You boys have done a great job,” Sam said.
The men stopped what they were doing to look at Sam. Sam nodded in agreement to his statement. They all grinned.
“We’re not there yet,” Jacob said.
They got back to work.
Monday morning — 8:07 a.m.
“You have to press. . .” Tres Sierra pointed to a button on the computer.
“This one?” Sam Lipson asked.
Sam’s pointer finger was out and hovering. Tres nodded. Sam pressed the button and suddenly a woman’s face appeared on the screen. She looked surprised. Her face broke into a wide smile, but she shook her head.
“You have to turn on the. . .” Tres said.
Sam hit the button to turn off the mute.
“Sam!” Helen Seigle, chief executive of the Marlowe School, said. “You are a sight for sore eyes!”
“Helen!” Sam replied.
“It’s great to see you,” Helen said. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Sam said. “I still get waves of exhaustion. The fatigue is. . .”
Sam shook his head. Helen nodded in empathy.
“But the docs say that the virus is gone,” Sam said. “I still wear a mask when people are around or they wear them around me.”
Sam gestured to Tres, who was out of the picture.
“I’m here with Tres,” Sam said. “We’re at their new house. It’s gorgeous. You should see it.”
Helen’s smile faded.
“Listen, as nice as it is to see you, I was waiting for Val,” Helen said. “We have to figure out what to do with the kids. Jacob said that they are going to open three more sites which means that. . .”
“A lot of kids will be at home by themselves,” Sam said with a nod.
“Exactly,” Helen said. “Is Val around?”
“She and Mike went to the hospital,” Sam said.
“Is she in labor?” Helen asked.
“Her doctor wants to induce labor,” Sam said. “Something, something. I’m sorry I never can keep it all straight.”
Sam looked at Tres, who was setting up his laptop.
“Do you know?” Sam asked.
Tres shook his head.
“Tres doesn’t know either,” Sam said.
“I hate to wait,” Helen said, “but if Val’s in labor, I totally understand.”
“Oh, sorry,” Sam said. “You have me and Tres. We’re taking over for Val until she can come back. She wanted me to assure you that she was still in charge.”
“Jake’s up to his eyeballs in worksites and the state funding and all the insanity that goes with that,” Sam took a wheezing breath. “So you have me.”
“And me!” Tres’s voice came from the room.
Helen looked at little worried but she nodded.
“So you have us,” Sam said.
Tres face appeared in the computer video call.
“Helen,” Tres said. “I’m here to talk about financing. We clearly need to make changes.”
“We do,” Helen said.
“That costs money,” Tres said. “Even if we do it ourselves.”
“Got it,” Helen said.
“Why don’t you tell us what you’re thinking?” Sam asked.
“I know it’s a pain, but since it’s our first meeting in our new positions, I wonder if you could give us an overview of what’s going on,” Tres added.
“I know that I should know this but what do you do, Tres?” Helen asked.
“I’m the CFO of Lipson,” Tres said. “Jake asked me to manage the Marlowe School fund a few years ago. You know, when he was hit with the pipe wrench and all of that?”
Looking worried, Helen nodded.
“I have all of your figures,” Tres said. “I can also give you a report on how the larger fund is doing.”
“Okay,” Helen said, drawing out the word.
“And I’m Sam Lipson,” Sam said, with a snort of a laugh which turned into a brief cough.
Helen grinned at Sam.
“Okay,” Helen said. “Here’s our an overview of our problem — we have kids who have needs, educationally or emotionally, and we have parents who need childcare.”
“And hope,” Sam said. “You probably heard but the Castle here was full of kids from that military team that MJ’s on. It was crazy. But we were happy to do it because their parents were so stressed.”
“I saw that picture of the woman and Jeraine,” Helen said.
“Jeraine taught the kids guitar to the kids who wanted to learn every afternoon,” Sam said.
“They weren’t any good but they had fun,” Tres added.
“We have a lot of our own kids,” Helen said. “Plus as a state childcare provider, I wouldn’t be surprised if people want to bring their kids to us.”
“The daycares are closed,” Tres said in agreement.
“Jake asked me to ask you,” Sam said. He put on his reading glasses and lifted up a piece of paper. “The state has mandated that schools and daycares are closed. But since we’re private, we have a little wiggle room. Do you know what that is?”
Sam looked up.
“The district said that if a school figure out a way to do it safely, then it’s okay to be open,” Helen said. “We have to protect our teachers and our students.”
“Oh,” Sam said. “I didn’t realize that was the level of what we’re dealing with.”
“It’s a lot to deal with,” Helen said. “We have people who want to work but they need a place to help with their kids. We can’t be open as a school because it’s not safe.”
“We shouldn’t be open if the kids or the teachers aren’t safe,” Sam said.
“Of course,” Helen said. “I’m told that I need to take care of kids so that all these workers can work at the same time I’m told to stay closed. It makes me crazy.”
“I bet,” Tres said.
“Jerry said that you weren’t sleeping,” Sam nodded.
“Sleep?” Helen asked. “What’s that?”
Denver Cereal continues on Monday...
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