Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-five - In the ballroom
Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-six - Enter Wretched (part two)

Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-six - Enter Wretched (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-SIX

(part one)

Wednesday morning — 5:05 a.m.

Jill heard a soft knock on their loft door. She pressed the “On” button to their coffee maker and trotted to the door, which she opened just a crack.

“I’m so sorry to wake you,” Tanesha said.

“What are you doing?” Jill asked, stepping back to let her friend into the loft. “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”

“I know,” Tanesha said with a nod.

“But?” Jill asked.

Jill gestured to the kitchen where the coffee was brewing.

“There’s a guy at the door,” Tanesha said.

“A guy?” Jill asked with her head in the freezer.

Jill came up with a bag of lemon-blueberry muffins.

“An old guy,” Tanesha said. “Really, really old. Somehow, he got past the fences and knocked on the door. Honey heard them and sent Jabari to get us. Jer’s with him now.”

Jill stuck a plate of muffins into the microwave. The coffee maker beeped and Jill poured Tanesha an inch of coffee. Tanesha hated coffee but since she’d started medical school, she needed a tiny bit of a boost. Tanesha grinned at Jill. While Jill doctored her own coffee, Tanesha drank the coffee down like bitter medicine.

“Thanks,” Tanesha said.

Jill nodded.

“What’s going on?” Jacob asked.

His hair wet, Jacob came out of his bedroom with his work clothing on. Jill poured him a cup of coffee.

“There’s a guy here,” Tanesha repeated.

“Super old,” Jill said with a nod.

“Why is he here?” Jacob asked.

“He came to see the ballroom,” Tanesha said.

Jacob laughed.

“I know,” Tanesha said. “This guy is someone Jer’s dad knows.”

“Jeraine can take him down there,” Jacob said.

Tanesha smacked her lips and gave him the “You’re an idiot” shake of her head that he often got from Jill’s friends.

“What?” Jacob asked. “What did I do now?”

“Jeraine has a head injury,” Jill said over her cup of coffee. “I doubt that he can remember where it is. Especially after no sleep.”

“Ah,” Jacob said. “Sorry.”

Tanesha raised an eyebrow as if to say, “You should be.” Jacob laughed. His mother had great female friends so he was used to, and rather enjoyed, this kind of treatment from Jill’s friends.

“Do you have time?” Tanesha wrinkled her nose with the request.

“I always have time for you, Tanesha,” Jacob said.

Jacob nodded to Jill — who grinned at his right response. He grabbed a face mask, and followed Tanesha out of the loft. They jogged down the stairs to the Castle kitchen.

Anxious, Jeraine was standing in the kitchen and staring off into space. Jabari was sitting on the table in front of an elderly man. The man wore a lovely blue with white dots face mask and was sitting at the kitchen table. He was thin with age and his skin was the color of almonds. The corners of his eyes showed a web of wrinkles as he grinned at Jabari chatting away.

They all looked up when Jacob and Tanesha arrived. The elderly man stood up.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...

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