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Denver Cereal is taking a break

Dear Denver Cereal reader,

I'm writing to let you know that Saturday will be the last post of Denver Cereal for a while, at least.

There are so many moving parts to my life right now. They all came crashing down last night in enormous overwhelm.

I need to take some time to clear my head and decide what's next. I don't know if Denver Cereal will continue. I always hope so, but I don't know.

It's a pretty good time to take a break. Everyone in Denver Cereal is happy and growing. They've gotten vaccines and are on their way to surviving the pandemic.

I'm going to be off social media for the next couple of weeks. If you'd like to connect with me, feel free to send me an email.

Thank you for the gift of your readership. You can't imagine how grateful I am for you. Thank you for pushing me to be a better writing, supporting me with your comments and jokes, as well as your financial support.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a joyous new year!

Many blessings!

Claudia


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-five - It's time (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FIVE

(part two)

“It won’t be like the last time,” Hedone said. “We are more prepared, ready for anything. You have the support of the Titans and us, of course. You’ll have your same travel team.”

“Alex, too?” Nelson asked.

“I think you’d literally have to kill her not to have her come,” Hedone said with a smile.

“You’ve told her?” Nelson asked. “She’s really busy in the middle of everything all the time.”

“We just left her,” Ares said. “She said she needed an hour or so but she’s ready to go. Max is coming this time too.”

Nelson nodded.

“Fuck,” Nelson said again in a more resigned way. “There’s no way to avoid this. I was hoping. . .”

Hedone shook her head.

“You will need to take Katy and Paddie with you,” Hedone said.

“The children?” Nelson asked. “Why?”

“You need their swords to raise the hoard,” Ares said.

Nelson nodded.

“They need to be with you for their own protection,” Hedone said.

“I can’t find a hoard and protect the children at the same time!” Nelson said.

“The gorgon have agreed to protect the children,” Hedone said.

The laughter in Ava’s office increased and they all looked over to see Leslie, Ava, and Athena laughing.

“You made some agreement with the gorgon?” Hedone asked.

“Medusa’s head is in the hoard,” Nelson said. “She is still alive. Her head is alive under the water. She . . .”

Nelson shivered.

“Just horrible,” Nelson said.

“What did you agree to son?” Ares asked.

“I agreed to give them the head,” Nelson said. “They agreed to support me. I thought that Hedone had put them up to it.”

Hedone shook her head.

“They knew all about me and the hoard,” Nelson said. He shrugged. “They actually were lovely. Truthful. Helpful. Did you know that there are many of them? They only appear in threes.”

“Really?” Ares asked.

Hedone nodded.

“They are women scorned, abused, or used as sex slaves or oracle slaves from our time,” Hedone said. “Their unexpressed rage and anger at their abuse turns them into gorgon.”

“They are?” Ares asked.

“How is it that you don’t know this?” Hedone asked. “Zeus created most of them with his rapey misogyny. Where do you think the Sea of Amber came from?”

“From the gorgon?” Ares asked. “I never thought of it.”

“They have powerful magic,” Hedone said. “They are unmovable, powerful, and incorruptible. They’ve been behind every effort to create a safer world for the vulnerable. They live in the shadows because of their abuse.”

“How do you know so much about them?” Ares asked.

“My friend Tanesha had to do a report on them when she was in college,” Hedone said. “I went to find out what I could and met them. I was . . . in awe, really. They are incredible. Truly incredible women, very powerful, and absolutely beloved to the mother. As, Nelson is beloved to the mother.”

Scowling, Ares nodded.

“How much time do I have?” Nelson asked.

“Not much,” Hedone said. “Katy and Paddie were so freaked out that Jill kept them home today.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-five - It's time (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FIVE

(part one)

Thursday morning — 10:17 a.m.

Denver Crime Labs

Denver, Colorado

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Nelson asked.

Nelson was sitting at his desk outside Ava O’Malley’s office and next to the lab. He didn’t turn around or look up. He knew that someone from the “old world” had appeared. He just wanted to finish what he was working on.

When he looked up, he saw Hedone, Ares, and Athena had appeared.

“We need to get this quest underway,” Ares said.

Nelson raised an eyebrow at him.

“See I told you that he wouldn’t listen to me,” Ares said. “He has no respect.”

Hedone and Athena laughed so hard that Ares grinned. With their laughter, Ava got up from her desk and opened her office door.

“May I help you?” Ava asked.

“We’re here for him,” Athena said.

“That’s nice,” Ava said. “This is a secure building. How did you get in?”

“They’re immortal Gods,” Nelson said.

“Sure they are,” Ava said. “Are they bothering you?”

“Outside of being incredibly annoying?” Nelson asked. “No.”

Dr. Leslie McClintock came out of the lab. She looked from Hedone to Ares to Athena and blinked.

“You know who we are,” Athena said, evenly.

“I’m not sure if I should bow or . . .?” Leslie asked.

“You’re fine,” Nelson said. “They just came to annoy me.”

“Lucky you,” Leslie said. “May I . . . Uh . . . Would you mind if I asked you some questions?”

Ares stepped forward eagerly.

“Oh sorry, I meant Athena,” Leslie asked. “I . . . well really, we need some wisdom.”

Leslie pointed toward Ava’s office. She, Athena, and Ava went into her office. After a few minutes, they heard laughing and talking coming from Ava’s office.

“What’s happened between when we talked about this situation this morning?” Nelson asked.

“We can’t wait anymore,” Ares said.

“I’m sorry,” Hedone said. “I know that you were just settling in to your life again.”

“What about the French?” Nelson asked. “They were going to fund the entire thing. They . . .”

“We put a bug in their ear about another expedition,” Ares said. “You would be amazed at how persuasive I can be.”

Nelson gave him a skeptical look.

“I dressed in a modern suit, shook hands, and all of that,” Ares said, proudly. “You would have been proud of me. I looked like a modern man.”

“And?” Nelson asked.

“They should be calling you in a few minutes,” Ares said.

Nelson looked up at the ceiling and whispered an angry, “Fuck.”

“If you’re offering . . .” Ares said.

Nelson shook his head, and Ares laughed.

“Come on, young lad,” Ares said. “We’ll have a great time.”

“I . . .” Nelson started. “I need to talk to Blane and my family again. Tanesha and Jeraine are adopting three more kids and. . .”

“They’ll be okay,” Hedone said. “We’ve expected that you’d be leaving soon. It’s actually been longer than we expected.”

Nelson gave Hedone a vague nod.

“It won’t be like the last time,” Hedone said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part six)

“They may have thought that the children were more vulnerable in the future,” Hedone said. “Get them out of this house, away from those who defend them, and then. . .”

“And then?” Jill asked.

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” Hedone asked. “I’ve been speaking with Nelson and Blane. It seems that we need to get this thing going in the next few days. No one wants to risk Katy and Paddie’s lives but we think now that they need to come with us.”

Jill nodded and Jacob looked worried.

“Do you think that this is some fairy bullshit?” Jacob asked. “Should I speak with Fin and Edie?”

“It’s a fair question,” Hedone said. “I won’t dismiss it out of hand. Talking with Edie and Fin is a good idea. That said, I think it’s unlikely.”

“Then who?” Jill asked.

“The Templars,” Hedone said. “Or someone who is loyal to the Templars.”

No one said anything for a moment.

“If you know anything else, I’d appreciate it if you’d tell us,” Jacob said.

Hedone sighed.

“There is one thing,” Hedone said. “We don’t know what the Vatican knows or thinks about this Templar crap. They have archives — documents, books, objects. . . just so much — that likely contain information about our situation. There may be someone pulling the strings from the Vatican. Nelson says that there’s a contact there at the Vatican that is loyal to the Templars. He’s calling him right now.”

“Lumiati?” Jacob asked.

“Those assholes?” Hedone asked. “No. The worrisome ones are gone and those left worship themselves too much to actually manifest anything upon the world.”

“Then who?” Jill asked.

“I don’t know,” Hedone said.

“How can we find out?” Jill asked.

“It’s definitely something we need to look into,” Hedone said.

“The only thing that’s going to end this is to find the hoard and bring it to the light of day,” Jacob said.

“Exactly,” Hedone said.

“What can I do?” Jill asked.

“Call your grandfather,” Hedone said. “His beloved has connections to the Vatican.”

“Mari?” Jacob said. “Princess Marigold?”

“She does seem ridiculous, doesn’t she?” Hedone asked. “She does that so that she’s underestimated. She is an incredible being — knows people everywhere. She loves Katy and, my guess is, that she’d be delighted to help.”

“I’ll talk to her,” Jill said.

Jill looked down to see that Paddie and Katy were following the entire conversation closely.

“What can we do to protect the kids?” Jacob asked.

“I’m not sure,” Hedone said. “Give me a few hours and I’ll see what I can find out.”

Hedone turned to walk out of the room. She stopped at the door.

“So you know, it was Hecate who put this right,” Hedone said. “I tell you that so that you know the level of power and ability required to have pulled Katy and Paddie into the future. It must be someone powerful without remourse.”

“A Titan?” Jill asked.

“I was thinking Zeus,” Hedone said. “But, I’ll find out.”

“Thanks,” Jill said.

Hedone nodded and disappeared.

“Can we snuggle for a while?” Katy asked. “We feel scared.”

“Of course,” Jacob said.

The little children and Katy’s parents snuggled down in the warm bed. They lay there together until Jacob’s alarm dragged him out of bed.

“I’ll call you,” Jacob said before he left the bedroom.

Jill nodded. Looking at the children, she decided to lay in bed for a while more. They were so little and so brave. She tried to will her strength into them, because no matter what happens now — they were going to need it.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part five)

Thursday early morning — 4:12 a.m.

Katy Roper Marlowe woke up in her own bed in the Castle. Sitting straight up, she looked around the room. There was a little boy’s tufted of white hair sticking out of his blankets in the bed next to hers.

“Paddie?” Katy asked.

Paddie’s head moved up and down causing the blankets to move.

“I’m ’fraid to get up,” Paddie said. “In case, we’re somewhere scary.”

“We’re not,” Katy said. “We’re in my room at home.”

“Are you little again?” Paddie asked.

“Yes,” Katy said. “You look like you are too.”

“Okay,” Paddie said.

“I’m going to see my Mommy,” Katy said.

“I’m going with you,” Paddie said.

Katy ran out of the bedroom with Paddie on her heels. They ran across the loft to Katy’s parents room.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Katy said.

Wide awake, Jill and Jacob sat straight up. Katy crawled across the bed toward her mother. Paddie stood on the side of the bed until Jacob grabbed him and pulled him onto the bed too. Jacob lay back down.

“What’s happened?” Jill asked.

“We grew up!” Katy said. “Me and Paddie were married and living in New York.”

“I was a doctor,” Paddie said.

“I was a museum curate,” Katy said. “But I don’t know what that is.”

“We were very happy,” Paddie said.

“Sounds like a beautiful dream,” Jill said with a yawn. “Shall we cuddle a bit before we have to get up?”

“It wasn’t a dream!” Katy said. “We were really there.”

Jill shook the sleep from her head.

“What?” Jill asked. She reached across and shook Jacob’s shoulder. “Jake?”

Jacob’s eyes popped open.

“What’s up?” Jacob asked.

Jill nodded to Katy.

“The kids were taken out of their beds and moved into the future,” Jill said. “What did you do?”

“We called Auntie Heather,” Katy said.

“But she didn’t come as Auntie Heather so we called Hedone and she. . .” Paddie said.

The Goddess of Love, Hedone, was standing at the foot of the bed. No matter what she actually looked like, Jill always saw her good friend Heather under the glow and the gold dress and perfect hair. Jill smiled at her friend. Of course, her friend would come to help Katy.

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Hedone said.

“Is what they are saying true?” Jacob asked. “Not a dream.”

“No dream,” Hedone said. “In fact, if I had to wager a guess, Katy and Paddie had prepared for their younger selves to come visit them. They put a bunch of cheesy photographs of everyone on their walls so that when Katy and Paddie arrived they would see them.”

“We looked at those!” Katy said.

Paddie nodded.

“Katy was very beautiful,” Paddie said, shyly.

“Paddie was huge,” Katy said.

“I was handsome,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

Jill shot Jacob a worried look.

“What do we need to do?” Jacob asked.

“The truth is that we cannot wait any longer to go find this stupid hoard,” Hedone said. “The longer we wait, the more risk for the children.”

“Who would have done such a thing?” Jill asked.

“I think the question is when did someone do this thing?” Hedone asked. “This hoard has been missing for a long time. The prophecy has been told a long time ago. Someone, anyone really, could have sent their child selves to their older selves anytime between when the prophecy was made and now.”

“Why would they do that?” Jacob asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part four)

Katy nodded. It was weird to her that the kids who were younger than her had grown up too.

“Nash and Nadia live here too,” Hedone said.

Katy nodded.

“Are you sure that you were in Denver at the Castle when you went to bed?” Hedone asked.

Katy and Paddie nodded.

“Listen to our voices,” Paddie said.

“Good point,” Hedone said. “You do sound like the little kids you were and not your adult selves.”

Hedone gave Katy a soft smile.

“We think it’s to steal our swords,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“What do you know about the search for the Templar Hoard?” Hedone asked.

“Nothing,” Katy said. “Did we go?”

Hedone nodded. The goddess looked away for a long moment.

“This is about the prophecy,” Hedone said.

“Can I see my Mommy?” Katy asked. “I really miss her.”

Paddie nodded.

“Why didn’t you call your grandfather or your aunt?” Hedone asked.

“Because he’s all ‘Hello, I’m Perses,’” Paddie said mimicking Perses’ accent.

“‘I’m big and violent,’” Katy mimicked her grandfather.

“‘Shall I kill everyone just for fun?’” Paddie asked.

Hedone laughed.

“Fair point,” Hedone said. “Hecate.”

Hecate appeared out of thin air.

“What. . .?” Hecate turned to look from Katy to Paddie. “This is impressive magic. Yours?”

Because Hecate was looking at her, Katy shook her head. Hecate turned to Hedone, who shook her head.

“You don’t know how this happened?” Hecate asked.

Katy and Paddie nodded their heads in unison.

“That’s not good,” Hecate said.

“Do you remember them going missing in 2021?” Heather asked.

Hecate shook her head.

“So it was done out of time,” Hedone said.

“Or I put the children back before anything happened,” Hecate said.

“Can we go home?” Paddie asked. “My mommy is really sick. I can’t be here!”

Katy reached out to hold Paddie’s hand.

“I’ll put you back,” Hecate said.

There was a whooshing sound and child Paddie and Katy were gone along with Hecate.

“Auntie Heather?” adult Katy asked. “What are you doing here?”

“Do you remember waking up in adult bodies when you were kids?” Hedone asked.

Katy and Paddie nodded.

“You do?” Hedone asked.

“We put the pictures on the wall just like they were when we were here,” Katy said.

“It was just before the fight for the swords,” Paddie said.

Hedone nodded.

“Hasn’t happened yet?” Paddie asked.

“It hasn’t,” Hedone said. “Any tips?”

Shaking his head, Paddie reached his hand out, and Katy moved closer to him. His arm went over her shoulder. Hedone nodded. She kissed Katy on the cheek and disappeared.

Katy looked at Paddie and he smiled.

“It made me so happy to wake up as your husband,” Paddie said. “I’m so glad to be your husband.”

“I’m glad to be your wife,” Katy said.

They kissed and hugged each other.

“You look worried,” Paddie said.

“Just telling younger me that it’s all going to work out,” Katy said.

Paddie smiled at Katy and she kissed him.

“Coffee?” Paddie asked.

Katy nodded, and they went into the kitchen.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part three)

“What a view!” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“We must be rich,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“Cool,” Paddie said. “You’re sure this isn’t a dream?”

“It’s not a dream,” Katy said. “We can check with the sword.”

“No, you’re right,” Paddie said. “I’m just happy that everything is so good for us!”

“Me too,” Katy said.

Katy watched Paddie watch people in the park.

“Should I call my Auntie?” Katy asked.

Paddie nodded.

“Auntie Heather?” Katy asked into the air.

Nothing happened. Katy thought for a moment.

“She probably doesn’t recognize my voice now,” Katy said.

“Use her Goddess name,” Paddie said. “Use the Vanquisher.”

Katy nodded. She held out her hand and the Vanquisher appeared.

“Hedone, the Goddess of Love,” Katy called.

The air around them glistened with light. Shrouded by the light, a figure appeared and gradually became clearer.

Timeless and shockingly beautiful, Hedone appeared in her gorgeous gold dress. Katy and Paddie stepped back.

“Auntie Heather,” Katy said. She jumped up and down a bit.

“Katy?” Hedone asked. “Katy, what’s wrong?”

“We went to bed last night at home with Mommy and Daddy and the twins,” Katy said.

“We woke up big!” Paddie said.

Surprised, Hedone blinked at them. She looked around the apartment and then walked to the window. She turned around and looked at them.

“When were you married?” Hedone asked.

Katy shrugged, and Paddie shook his head.

“What do you do for a living?” Hedone asked.

Katy shrugged, and Paddie shook his head.

“Interesting,” Hedone said. “Do you still have your swords?”

Katy held up the Vanquisher and Paddie took the Sword of Truth out of his pocket.

“Huh,” Hedone said. “Someone must have thought that you would be more vulnerable in the future than you are in the Castle.”

“Are we rich?” Paddie asked.

“Well, you’re an MD PhD,” Hedone said. “You specialize in infectious disease. Katy is a museum curator.”

“That sounds fun,” Katy said.

“Ivan and Sissy gave you this apartment as a wedding present,” Hedone said. “It’s a part of their floor in New York. Your mom and dad refurbished it for you, Katy.”

“It’s beautiful,” Katy said.

“You are both very loved,” Hedone said. “Katy, you control the entire collection of art from the Polish mine and the Templar Hoard, not to mention all of the items you and Paddie found under that church in the Isle of Man and other places you’ve adventured.”

“The white eyed guy?” Paddie asked.

“Maughold gave you everything,” Hedone said. “Fin and the fairies, too. You are both fairly famous. As far as I know, you’re very happy.”

“Mack and Wyn?” Paddie asked.

“Mack just got a job as a Greek antiquities professor at UCLA,” Hedone said. “Wyn is a lawyer. He has an internship at the Supreme Court.”

“Wow,” Katy said. “Does he like it?”

“Not in the slightest,” Hedone said. “He wants to be a Supreme Court justice and this is the way.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part two)

“You are very beautiful,” Paddie said, pulling on a T-shirt and sweatpants.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” Katy said.

Paddie giggled.

“What do you think is going on?” Paddie asked.

“I don’t know,” Katy said. “The last thing I remember is that you were staying with me because your mom was sick. But you don’t have to worry, there’s a picture of her on the wall outside. She must have gotten better. Connor’s there too.”

“And my dad?” Paddie asked, walking out to look at the photos.

“And your dad,” Katy said.

“I don’t know why, but I feel very relieved,” Paddie said.

“Your dad’s in the military,” Katy said. “You always talk about how worried you are that he’ll be hurt or die while he’s out on mission.”

Paddie nodded and looked at the pictures.

“Do you think we have our own food?” Paddie asked.

“There’s a kitchen,” Katy said.

They walked together into the kitchen. Paddie opened the door. Without thinking, he pulled out eggs, cheese and spinach. There was some vegan sausage so he added that. In a few minutes, he’d made them a breakfast burrito.

“How’d you learn to do that?” Katy asked.

“I don’t know,” Paddie said. “I just knew I could.”

Katy smiled at him. Standing in the kitchen, they wolfed down their breakfast burritos.

“What do you think is going on?” Paddie asked.

“I don’t know,” Katy said. “I woke up here too. Do you still have the Sword of Truth?”

Paddie reached into his pocket and was holding the sword.

“It fits you better now that you’re big,” Katy said.

“I’m really big,” Paddie said. He smiled broadly. “I like being big. Do you think when we go back that I can stay this big?”

Katy shook her head, and Paddie laughed.

“What do we do?” Paddie asked.

“I’ve been thinking,” Katy said.

“Did you call for your mom?” Paddie asked.

“I really wanted to,” Katy said, looking sad. “I really miss her. Do you think she’s okay?”

“She looks okay in this picture,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“Do you think that this is a dream?” Paddie asked.

“I don’t know,” Katy said. “I think. . .”

Katy stopped talking for a moment and looked at Paddie.

“This is about that prophecy,” Paddie said. “The one about you and me.”

Katy nodded.

“Do you think I should call my grandpa or my Auntie Heather?” Katy asked.

“Your grandpa makes everything really intense,” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“Let’s call Auntie Heather,” Paddie said. “She’s always nice.”

Katy nodded.

“Is that Jabari on the wall?” Paddie asked.

“It looks like him,” Katy said. “See this red head in the front? That looks like Maggie.”

“Cool. They’re big too!” Paddie said with a grin. “Do you think we have jobs and stuff?”

“We pay for this nice place,” Katy said with a shrug.

“Where are we?” Paddie asked.

“I don’t know,” Katy said.

She went to the windows and opened the blinds. For a moment, they stood there in shock. They were looking out over the city. Central Park was a block or two away but they could see people playing and walking.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-four - The future's so bright... (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR

(part one)

Sometime in the future

New York, New York

Katy Roper Marlowe woke up with a start.

She had no idea where she was. The only thing that she knew is that she was naked.

And there was someone else in her bed!

She looked over and saw a tuft of white blond hair sticking out of covers tightly around the person’s head. That was just like how Paddie slept. But this person was big, really big.

“Paddie?” Katy asked.

The person didn’t stir.

Embarrassed by her own nakedness, she got out of bed.

She gasped.

She was big! She might even be taller than her own mother!

Her hands went over her body. She had breasts — not too big, not too small! Nice, strong legs. Her feet seemed really big! And her hands!

She reached out her hand and the Vanquisher appeared. With her gigantic size, the Vanquisher looked more like a knife than a sword. Clearly, the sword still belonged to her still. At least that hadn’t changed! She made the sword disappear.

Spying a silken bathrobe on a chair, Katy grabbed the robe and put it on. She went into the bathroom.

It was a lot nicer than her functional, practical bathroom in the Castle.

For the first time, Katy wondered where she was.

And who was the person in her bed?

Should she feel bad? She didn’t.

Shrugging to herself, she followed her feet out into the living area.

She floated toward the pictures on the wall. There was one of big her in a gorgeous lace white dress and. . .

“That’s got to be Paddie,” Katy said, softly to herself.

Whoever it was, he was wearing a black tuxedo. He was tall and handsome. White hair sticking straight up and sparkling blue eyes. Seeing him, Katy felt her heart warm.

There were pictures of her parents and even her brothers all grown up. Her mother’s friends were there and their husbands. There was a picture of Noelle and Teddy with a little baby and even a picture of a boy who had to be Jabari standing on a stage with a guitar.

Everyone was smiling and laughing. It made Katy so happy to see everyone so happy.

She went back to the bed.

“Paddie?” Katy asked. She was surprised because her voice sounded like her six year old voice.

“Katy?” Paddie moved the covers off his face. “You got big!”

“I know,” Katy said. “So did you!”

Paddie jumped up to look at himself.

“I’m huge!” Paddie said looking down at his naked body. Realizing that Katy could see him he said, “Turn around!”

“It’s okay, Paddie,” Katy said. “We’re married.”

“We are?” Paddie asked. He looked at his hand and saw that he was wearing a ring. “Look Katy!”

Paddie pointed to his wedding ring.

“I have one, too,” Katy said, pointing to hers.

Paddie’s face broke into a big, white toothed smile.

“My dream came true!” Paddie said.

Katy nodded.

“That makes me so happy,” Paddie said.

Katy smiled.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-three - And really, when have you ever done anything on your own? (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-THREE

(part six)

“Plus our masks,” Dionne said, touching the cloth mask over her face.

“Is it true that the governor is giving Jacob vaccines?” Dr. Bumpy asked.

“The company has agreed, as a whole, to take them or stay home,” Rodney said. “Of course, we’ll see what happens.”

“Good stuff,” Dr. Bumpy said. “Dionne and I are getting them next week, as well. Yvie?”

“She’s covered at work,” Rodney said. “Jake told the governor that it was stupid to not vaccinate all of the adults in a home. Somehow, he got the governor to agree.”

“Valerie probably talked to him,” Yvonne said.

Dionne and Yvonne gave each other knowing nods.

“No idea,” Tanesha said.

“Listen,” Jeraine said, coming into the sitting area. “We’re not here for vaccines.”

“Okay, son,” Dionne said. “We’re just chatting.”

“Lovely home,” Yvonne said.

“I’ll show you the recording studio when we’re done here,” Jeraine said.

“Can’t wait,” Dr. Bumpy said. He rubbed his hands together. “Why are we here? Baby?”

His face lit up and he looked at Tanesha, who shook her head, and then to Jeraine. His son looked overwhelmed.

“What’s happened?” Rodney asked.

“We need some help,” Tanesha said.

For the next hour, they talked through Annette’s children moving to Denver. When they were done, their parents went to look at the recording studio.

Tanesha’s phone rang.

“What did they say?” Jill asked.

“They’ll help,” Tanesha said. “Mom said that she and dad had been talking about adopting some of these orphans. So, they knew all about what’s going on and said that they would help.”

“How do you feel about it now?” Heather asked.

“Are you guys at the salon?” Tanesha asked.

“We’ve been waiting to hear how it went,” Sandy said. “How do you feel?”

“Terrified,” Tanesha said. “I never wanted kids, I mean. . .”

“We can do this,” Jill said.

“Don’t overthink it,” Sandy said. “Kids mostly need food, safety, and acceptance. We’ve got that in spades.”

“What if I screw it up?” Tanesha asked. “What about school and being a doctor?”

“We’ve got this,” Jill said.

“Don’t even worry,” Heather said. “We’ve got this.”

“And Jer?” Tanesha asked. “I mean, he’s just getting on his feet and his head and. . .”

“Everything is going to be fine,” Heather said.

“Promise?” Tanesha asked.

“Promise,” Sandy said. “We’ve got this.”

“Okay,” Tanesha said. “Thanks.”

Tanesha hung up the phone. For a long moment, she stared at the wall. Shrugging, she went to go find Jeraine and their parents.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Seventy-three - And really, when have you ever done anything on your own? (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SEVENTY-THREE

(part five)

Wednesday morning —11:12 a.m.

“I love this house,” Dionne Wilson, Jeraine’s mother, said as she came down the stairs. “How long have you been here?”

“Not long,” Tanesha said. “Would you like to see the adult bedrooms?”

“We want to see everything,” Yvonne Smith, Tanesha’s mother, said. “Why haven’t we done this before?”

“Covid,” Tanesha said. “You old folks are at risk.”

“Who are you calling old?” Dr. Bumpy Wilson, Jeraine’s father, asked.

Everyone laughed.

“Jacob came over to help us get the air flow right,” Tanesha said.

“He’s the one who set it up for the school?” Yvonne asked.

“She’s talking about Marlowe,” Rodney Smith, Tanesha’s father, said.

“Oh, right,” Yvonne said. “I forget that his name isn’t Jakey.”

The older folks laughed. Shaking her head, Tanesha led them down the hallway.

“Every adult has his or her own room on this level,” Tanesha said. “Each room has a bathroom and outdoor space.”

“So nice,” Yvonne said.

“Like a fancy hotel,” Dionne said. “I like it. Jakey came up with this?”

“Jacob and Jill did,” Tanesha said with a nod. “Heather has the large bathroom because she does the most childcare. The kids rooms are at the end of the hallway.”

Tanesha opened a door to the room that Jacob had built out of thin air.

“Gorgeous playroom,” Dionne said.

“Why so many bedrooms?” Yvonne gestures to the four bedrooms along the back.

“We weren’t sure if Jabari would want to sleep up here,” Tanesha said. “We don’t know if Heather will have more children.”

“Is she planning on having more?” Dr. Bumpy asked with a scowl.

“Not that I know of,” Tanesha said.

They backed their way out of the room. Tanesha opened Nelson’s room.

“This room has a private stairwell to the rooftop,” Tanesha said. “Nelson is a big star watcher so Jacob made a patio out of some of the attic. Nelson has his own stairwell so that he can do star stuff when it’s happening.”

“Do you have access to this patio?” Rodney asked. “Didn’t you send me a photo from here?”

“It’s shared space,” Tanesha said with a nod.

They walked back down the hallway and went further into the house. Tanesha took them to her and Jeraine’s private area, Jabari’s bedroom, her study, and their little kitchen. Her parents lingered at the window that could be seen out of but not inside.

“Why are those photographers so amped up today?” Yvonne asked.

“We’ll get to that,” Tanesha said.

She led them out to the main kitchen area. They went through to the sitting area near the sliding door. Tanesha opened it a crack to get the air moving.

“Let me know if you get cold,” Tanesha said. “This is the best way we know of to stay safe. We put blankets around so feel free to grab one.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...