CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-SEVEN
Jill waved for Jeraine to follow her through the new home. They went up a now wood clad stairwell and into what would be a gorgeous entry area for Jeraine’s recording studio. Jeraine pulled up the hood on his jacket. Jill took a knit cap from her jacket pocket. She pulled it down low on her head. They slipped out the side door and walked down the driveway. They made it across the street. They were through the gate and into the house before the photographers caught up with them.
“What was that?” Jill turned on Jeraine. “What bullshit are you involved with? What did you do?”
“Nothing,” Jeraine raised his hands. “I swear, Jill. I swear. No women. No drugs. I’ve been good. Really good.”
Jill sniffed at him in disbelief. They walked into the Castle main living room. For the first time in days, no one was there. They continued through the building to the backyard.
Delphie was teaching the children how to plant seeds. The older kids were filling seedling trays with dirt and giving them to the younger kids to place the seeds. The teenagers were watering the seed trays and labeling them. Everyone was happily working.
“Hey,” Jill said to Valerie, who was looking hugely pregnant.
“I think I grew four inches,” Valerie said.
“The baby’s ready to come,” Jeraine said.
“Yeah,” Valerie said. “Another baby to add to the crowd.”
“I’m sure your baby will be wonderful,” Jeraine said.
Valerie smiled. Jeraine started inside.
“Hey, Jer?” Valerie asked.
“I’m going to find Jacob,” Jill said.
“You’ll do the colors?” Jeraine asked. “Make it nice for Miss T and us?”
“Of course,” Jill said.
“For Miss T?” Jeraine asked.
“Of course,” Jill said with a grin.
Jeraine nodded with all the sincerity he could muster. He knew that he could never make up for all of his misbehavior to Tanesha’s friends. He was just glad that they loved her enough to be decent to him.
“What’s up?” Jeraine asked Valerie.
“They got a photo of you,” Valerie said.
“Just now?” Jeraine asked. “With Jill?”
“Jill? No,” Valerie said. “Why?”
Jeraine explained what had happened.
“Assholes,” Valerie said. She shook her head. “This photo is actually worse than that. They took a photo of you with Quanshay.”
“Who?” Jeraine asked.
“The woman yesterday?” Valerie asked.
Jeraine scowled and then gave Valerie a vague shrug.
“You look naked,” Valerie said. “See for yourself.”
Valerie held out her cell phone, and Jeraine took it from her.
“Oh fuck,” Jeraine said. “Miss T’s going to kill me.”
“She’s seen it,” Valerie said. “On the bus.”
“They were waiting for her at school,” Valerie said. “But… Don’t freak out.”
“Too late,” Jeraine said.
“Here’s what she said,” Valerie said.
Valerie played the full video of Tanesha’s mini-rant. Jeraine watched it twice before handing the phone back to Valerie.
“She’s really great,” Valerie said.
“You don’t think she’s going to say that in public and be pissed at me in private?” Jeraine asked.
“Does she do that?” Valerie asked. “She strikes me as pretty straight forward.”
“No, I guess she doesn’t,” Jeraine said.
“You’d better call her to be sure,” Valerie said.
Nodding, Jeraine took his phone out of the pocket in his pants.
“In the meantime,” Valerie said.
“We avoid the photogs,” Jeraine said.
“Vultures,” Valerie said. “You might also want to keep your shirt on.”
Jeraine scowled and shook his head. He stood there for a moment before heading inside. He walked with purpose until he was in their apartment in the basement.
Then he freaked out.
It was a nightmare that never ended. His past just screwed him over and over again. What was he going to do if Tanesha left him? What was he going to do about all of this?
His head exploded with pain. Rather than deal with everything, he went to the bathroom, took his meds, and got in bed. He called Heather to ask if she would keep an eye on Jabari. That’s the last thing he remembered before the drugs kicked in.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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