Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Four Hundred and Forty-five : Jill, Jacob, Harry, and Katy


Scott the Snot?” Jacob asked.

“He picked that name,” Katy said. “I’m ‘Katy the Lady.’ We picked words that were like us at the beginning of school so other kids would know what we were like. He likes it that he’s a snot. He says that his dad is rich and that he’s better than everyone else.”

“What’s Scott’s last name?” Jacob asked.

“Nickelson,” Katy said. “Snottie Scottie Nickel’s son. That’s what Paddie calls him.”

“That doesn’t sound very nice,” Jacob said.

“Well Scott’s not very nice!” Katy said.

Jacob scowled and tried to remember if he knew anyone with the last name Nickelson. As far as he knew, no one at Lipson Construction had the last name of Nickelson. He’d had to check the employee list today when the lawyers gave him the defiant trespass notice for any Lipson Construction site and the Marlowe School for some other asshole father who manage to shoot up the Marlowe School and threatened an employee. Jacob sighed. He scratched his head and wondered if he would remember to ask if the woman had an attorney.

“Dad!” Katy said. “WE are talking about ME now.”

“Sorry,” Jacob said. “Does his dad work at Lipson? Or is he a private pay?”

He knew that the private pay spots were limited to public servants or people in the military. He didn’t think there was anyone else at the Marlowe School.

“His mom,” Katy said. “But he says his mom is stupid and she should be shot for stealing him away from his rich and perfect father. I told him he’d better not talk like that about his mother like that because she’s the only reason he’s alive.”

“Did you zap him or anything?” Jacob asked, his voice lifting with hope.

“No,” Katy said. “Mommy won’t let me and I respect my mommy!”

Like a hat trick, Jill appeared in the doorway of Katy’s room. She raised her eyebrows at Katy’s last comment and Katy smirked.

“I like that about you,” Jacob said, and smiled at Jill.

He tickled Katy’s side and she smiled. After a moment, Katy sighed.

“His mom wears one of those hats, like Mary,” Katy said.

“Mary?” Jacob asked.

“Jesus’s mother?” Katy asked. “You know she wears a hat?”

Jesus thought for a while. He looked at Jill. She pointed to her head and then gestured down her shoulders.

“She has long hair?” Jacob asked.

“I don’t know about her hair!” Katy said. “She covers it with a hat. Like Mary does.”

“Jesus’s mother,” Jacob said with a scowl.

He hadn’t grown up in any church. In fact, he’s only joined the Catholic Church because it was important to Jill. He’d do about anything for Jill. Sitting there on Katy’s bed, he had no idea Jesus’s mother looked like. After a moment, Jill gestured again and mouthed “hijab.” Jacob nodded.

“Scott’s mother wears a scarf on her head?” Jacob asked. Katy’s story suddenly sounded familiar.

“Like Jesus’s mom,” Katy said, her voice rising in irritation.

Ignoring Katy’s irritation, he pressed on.

“His mother’s name is Haya?” Jacob asked Jill.

Katy shrugged and Jill nodded.

“I see,” Jacob said. “Well, we can’t solve our friend Scott’s problems tonight.”

“He’s not my friend,” Katy said.

“Then why are you doing what he tells you to do?” Jacob asked.

“Because I can’t zap him!” Katy said.

She looked so distressed that Jacob laughed. Jill put her hand over her mouth to hide her laugh. Jacob’s laugh made Katy giggle with delight.

“How about this?” Jacob asked. “Your beautiful, beloved Mommy says you can read any chapter book.

“But …” Katy started.

Unwilling to give Katy space to argue and sick that this poor abused boy had taken out his pain and rage on Katy, Jacob talked over her objections.

“Why don’t we pick out a chapter book together?” Jacob asked.

“No,” Katy said. “I have to read that one.”

“I am your Daddy, and the head of the company — at least for today, well, and the rest of this week — and the head of the Marlowe School …,” Jacob said.

“Not according to Auntie Valerie!” Katy said.

“She’s wrong,” Jacob said, firmly and then he laughed. “Well, she’s technically right, but overall, she’s wrong. My name is on the door, not hers! In fact, your name is on the door.”

“Katy’s School?” she asked as a joke.

“Marlowe,” Jacob said. “You go to the Marlowe School. We Marlowes are a rare breed. We never joke about our name.”

“Ever?” Katy asked.

Jacob smiled and Katy giggled.

Your name is on the door,” Jacob said. He sneered like Katy did sometimes when she talked about boys. “Why would you take orders from this boy?”

This was irrefutable logic that Katy could not ignore. She nodded.

“Why don’t we pick … Uh …” Jacob started.

Jacob looked around the room. When he looked at Jill, she was holding a thick hardback book. She gave it to him.

“How about this one?” Jacob asked.

He held up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

“This is a book about a very brave little boy who ends up saving the world from evil, something you know a thing or two about,” Jacob said.

Katy nodded in agreement.

“It’s probably a little hard for you because you’re supposed to be quite a bit older to read this,” Jacob said. “But older like ten and not twenty-five, like the book on the table.”

“Are you sure?” Katy asked. She licked her lips in anticipation of the book.

“I’m sure,” Jacob said.

“Okay,” Katy said. “But we should tell Paddie.”

“Why?” Jacob asked.

“He’s reading the other book too!” Katy said.

“He’s a year in school younger than you!” Jacob said.

“Doesn’t matter,” Katy said with a nod. “He has to keep up. He can’t be ignorant.”

“Ignorant?” Jacob laughed at the word as Jill had a few hours before.

Katy gave him a sincere nod.

“Paddie’s mom, Julie, gave me the Harry Potter book,” Jill said. “She said it reminded her of you. She thought it you would enjoy it. She said that she was reading it to Paddie and he thought you would love it.”

“If Paddie said so, then …” Katy nodded.

“Would you like to read it to me?” Jacob asked.

Katy shook her head. She put her hand on her chest.

“I have to try myself,” Katy said. “How else will I ever get to be President if you are there fixing all of my problems all the time?”

“I’ll fix your problems when you’re president as well,” Jacob said with a nod.

Katy thought about it for a moment.

“Okay,” Katy said. “I’ll let you.”

Jacob scowled for a moment and wondered if Katy intuited her Presidential future. She giggled and he smiled. He helped Katy sit back at her desk to read the big chapter book. She sat down and opened the book. He put his arm around Jill and they watched her start to read.

“Dad!” Katy said. “Mom! I have to read!”

Smiling, Jacob put his arm around Jill and they left her to her task.

“Do you think she was serious about the President thing?” Jacob whispered.

“You always say that you can’t predict for yourself or someone near you,” Jill said.

Jacob nodded.

“She just seemed so sure,” Jacob said.

“She did,” Jill said.

“What I know about our girl is that if she wants to do anything, she will do it,” Jacob said.

Jill turned to Jacob to kiss him. Her lips were almost on his when Tanner ran into her legs. Bladen ran into Jacob’s legs. They fell in unison on their diaper padded butts and began screaming with laughter.

“BE QUIET!” Katy yelled from her room. “I’m reading!”

Quietly laughing, they picked up the boys and carried them away from Katy’s doorway. Edie waved to them and retreated to her room. Jill and Jacob played with the boys until the babies lagged. When one twin’s eyes would sag, the other twin would laugh and soon they were both running around the loft. This went on for a while before Jill insisted on taking them into the nursery for their bedtime ritual. She breastfed one boy while Jacob changed and dressed the other until they were cuddled together in their crib. When the boys were finally asleep, Jill and Jacob went to check on Katy. She’d fallen asleep with her cheek on page 10 of the big Harry Potter book. Because Katy still insisted on Jill putting her to bed, Jacob left Jill to it. He went into the kitchen and looked for dinner leftovers.

There was nothing in their little kitchen. He thought for a moment. Having made the fatal error of just making something without asking, he went to Katy’s doorway. Jill had managed to get sound asleep Katy out of her day clothing. She was just putting on Katy’s pajama bottoms when he arrived.

“Adult dinner is at 8:30,” Jill whispered. “Pizza, I think. Valerie set it up. That okay?”

“Blane and I went to Tocabe for lunch,” Jacob said. He rubbed his belly. “Mmmm.”

“Indian tacos? I figured as much,” Jill smiled.

“Mommy,” Katy whispered.

Jill indicated with her eyes that she should get back to Katy. Jacob nodded. He went out to the kitchen, opened a bottle of wine, and poured Jill a glass of Merlot. When Jill came out of Katy’s bedroom, he gave her the glass of wine and went in to say good night to Katy.

“I liked the book, Daddy,” Katy said. “But …”

Jacob sat down on the bed and she let him cuddle her before pushing him away.

“Why is it about a boy and not a girl?” Katy asked. “Everybody knows that girls are more heroic than boys.”

Jacob had expected this question, so he was prepared not to laugh or smile or take her concern any less seriously.

“Because girls do their work in secret, behind the scenes,” Jacob said. “Have you met Hermione in the book?”

Katy shook her head.

“Well, there is a very powerful witch in the book named, Hermione,” Jacob said. “She’s the best and strongest witch in their school class.”

“Of course, she is,” Katy nodded.

“She’s much better than Harry and every other witch or wizard their age,” Jacob said. “She never met you, of course.”

“Don’t call me a witch!” Katy’s eyes filled with tears.

He heard Jill run across the loft to the door. He looked at her.

“Scott the Snot called her a ‘witch,’” Jill said and mouthed, “with a ‘b’.”

She nodded as if he was supposed to understand something. Scratching his head, Jacob scowled and tried to figure out what Jill was saying, then he realized that Jill had told Katy that this Scott had called her a “witch” when Katy had asked what a “bitch” was. He nodded.

“Well …” Jacob said changing tact. He put his warm hand over Katy’s heart. She looked at him. “Can you do magic?”

“If you or mommy will ever let me,” Katy said.

“Yes, that is tough,” Jacob said with a commiserating nod. “It would get great to zap a few people.”

Jill cleared her throat in such a way that both Katy and Jacob looked at her. Swallowing hard, he nodded.

“Of course, we can’t do that,” Jacob said.

“Of course,” Katy said her eyes flicking from her mother to Jacob.

He cleared his throat and Jill made one of those female “take care of this” sounds that defy words.

“A ‘witch’ is a term some people use for someone magical,” Jacob said, continuing his planned explanation.

Jacob shrugged.

“It’s not a bad thing,” Jacob said. “Technically, I would be called a witch. Your mommy too, for her healing powers. Auntie Delphie and Auntie Valerie, all of mommy’s girlfriends…”

“Not Auntie Sandy,” Katy said.

“Except maybe for Auntie Sandy, but if you saw here walk into a room, you’d never say that she wasn’t magical,” Jacob said. “Pure alluring beauty.”

“That’s the truth,” Jill said with a snort.

Katy looked at her mother and then back at Jacob.

“And the babies?” Katy asked.

“Yep,” Jacob said. “In modern days, people decided to call boys ‘warlocks.’ Who knows why?”

Jacob shrugged. Katy imitated his shrug.

“Anyway, we know that you’d kick all of their rears,” Jacob said.

Katy’s eyes gleamed excitedly at the prospect. After a minute, her eyebrows furrowed in a perfect imitation of Jill.

“Who?” Katy asked.

“Who?” Jacob asked.

“Who’s rears would I kick?” Katy asked.

“Why all of the people at Hogwarts, the magic school that Harry Potter will go to,” Jacob leaned in intimately. “You’ll get there soon enough.”

“I get to go to magic school?” Katy asked, her voice rising with excitement.

“You already go to magic school with Edie and Fin,” Jacob said.

“Oh,” Katy said.

“There aren’t as many real witches as there are in the stories,” Jacob said. “Is that okay?”

“Uh huh,” Katy sad.

Katy nodded as she knew that had was true. Back on track, he continued.

“Now, just imagine all that Hermione had to do to make it seem like Harry was heroic,” Jacob said.

“Like I do with Paddie?” Katy asked.

“Yep,” Jacob pointed at Katy. “That.”

Satisfied, Katy nodded and closed her eyes for a moment. Sly to this trick, Jacob waited. Katy usually gave him enough time to sit down in the living area of the loft before she called him back. Katy’s eyes popped open.

“When do I get to read all about Hermione’s hard work?” Katy asked.

“I don’t think you do,” Jacob said.

“Why?” Katy asked.

“Editors at big publishing companies only care about what boys do,” Jacob said with a firm nod and a look like they were crazy. “Plus, if girls gave away all of their secrets, how could they run the world?”

Katy thought for a moment before nodding as if this was fact.

“You’re going to have to write it right here,” Jacob said.

He tapped her forehead. Katy looked very serious for a moment and then nodded.

“G’night, Daddy,” Katy said.

She let him kiss her again before rolling over. In a moment, she was asleep. He stood and ran a hand over his brow as if it was sweaty. Jill smiled at him.

“Prepared for the question?” Jill asked when they left the room.

Jacob nodded.

“You’re not worried she’ll hex some poor overworked editor?” Jill asked.

“I’m a little more worried that she’ll hex this Scott,” Jacob said.

“Well …” Jill said. “She hasn’t yet.”

Jacob laughed and put his arm around her. They walked toward the kitchen.

“Anyway, she’s more likely to start her own publishing company,” Jacob said. “Like all brave girls do.”

“We can only hope,” Jill said, with a smile. “Did I tell you that Abi’s daughter fried my phone?”

“Not Katy?”

“Not this time,” Jill said.

“Good thing we got that insurance,” Jacob said.

Jill nodded grimly and wondered how many fried phones she could turn into the insurance.

“Maybe I’ll give you one for our wedding present,” Jacob said.

“With your imaginary secret fund of billions?” Jill asked.

“I do love you,” Jacob said.

“Love won’t get me a new phone,” Jill said.

Jacob nodded grimly. Seeing that his mind was working out the details, she kissed him to cheer him up.

“And anyway, you made me that beautiful swing!” Jill said. “Katy, Paddie, and I were on there just today. The mountains were so beautiful and … Thank you.”

Jacob smiled and kissed her.

“Dinner?” he asked.

Jill smiled. He grabbed the wine bottle and looked at her. She held up the baby monitor. Jill started down the long stairway to the kitchen. He followed her.

“Any idea what this ‘ignorant’ thing is about?” Jacob asked Jill.

“None,” Jill said with a laugh.

“So, this Scott called Katy a bitch and you didn’t tell me about it?” Jacob asked.

“We’ve had a lot going on,” Jill said. “Plus, I’ve been trying to encourage Katy to work this out with this boy.”

Jill reached the bottom of the stairs, just inside the doorway of the main kitchen, and turned to look at him.

“How’s that going?” Jacob asked.

Jill raise an eyebrow and shrugged.

“I think you’re brilliant,” Jacob said. “And she should be able to work it out. I guess, my question is when do we assume she needs our help.”

“She’ll ask or it,” Jill said with a nod. “Trust me, if we step in too early, she’ll be really mad.”

“That’s the truth,” Jacob said with a wink and a smile.

He put his arm around her and they went into the main kitchen.

No one was there. In fact, the dishwasher churned away at the dinner dishes. Jacob looked at Jill and she looked embarrassed.

“I’m sorry,” Jill said. “I…”

Valerie came in from the backyard.

“There you are!” Valerie said.

There were footsteps on the stairs to the long stairwell. Jill and Jacob turned to see Edie. She plucked the baby monitor from Jill and went back upstairs.

“Wha…” Jacob started.

Rather than answer, Valerie turned and walked to the back door.

“We’re having dinner out here,” Valerie said as the back door closed.

Assuming they would follow, she walked out the door. Jacob looked at Jill. She shrugged.

“I’d hate to disappoint her,” Jill said.

“I wouldn’t mind,” Jacob said.

Smiling at him, Jill walked to the back door. He caught up with her to open the door. They went out together.

No one was outside.

“Wha…?” Jacob started again.

There was a sound to the right. Jill pointed to the deck where Jacob’s Navajo ceremony was performed.

“Something’s happening up there,” Jill said.

Jacob groaned.

“Are you okay with…?” Jacob asked in low voice.

“Why not?” Jill shrugged.

“Promise you’ll tell me when you want to go in,” Jacob said.

“I promise,” Jill said with a nod.

He took her hand. They were just walking down the deck stairs when Valerie jogged down the stairs from the medical office deck.

“There you are!” Valerie said again. “This way!”

They walked up the stairs together. When they got to the top, they stopped in wonder. The deck had been transformed into a romantic hideaway. There were lit gas heaters to keep them warm, a small dinner table in one corner, and what Jacob knew to be a warm, comfortable bed in the middle. Any surviving flowers from their big wedding filled the area along with additions from Delphie’s many flower gardens. Scented candles made the area smell like a spa. The enclosure built by Sam was draped with light pink silken fabric. It was open to the stars. There were chocolates and strawberries and all of the niceties that Valerie’s friend Roman often added to her life.

Valerie took the wine bottle from Jacob and gave him an open champagne bottle. She kissed his cheek.

“Enjoy,” she said. “I love you both!”

“Dinner?” Jacob asked.

“On the table. Well, near it,” Valerie said. “I thought you guys could stay here at night the rest of the week. The food’s all arranged. Edie can take care of the kids. Rosa is taking care of cleaning everything. We even have breakfast planned for a little nice private meal before start at Lipson. It’s like a honeymoon at home!”

She gave them a great big smile at her brilliance.

“It’s lovely,” Jill said. She hugged and kissed Valerie. “Thank you and thank Roman.”

With her words, Roman came out from the back. He gave them a quick tour of the space and they were appropriately fawning. When Valerie finally pulled them away, Jacob pulled out Jill seat at the table. He poured her a glass of champagne and one for himself before sitting down.

“To us!” he said.

They lifted their glasses and clinked before taking a sip.

“I’m starving,” Jill said.

“Me too!” Jacob said with a smile.

He looked around. Next to the table was a cooler. He opened it to find two more bottles of champagne. He sniffed the air.

“I smell something,” he said.

“Me, too,” Jill said.

He got up and looked around. Behind them was a warming tray with metal covered plates. He lifted a plate.

“Oh, you’re going to like this,” he said.

“What is it?” Jill asked. “I think I could eat a horse.”

Grinning, he set a plate of lobster, potatoes, and some kind of fancy vegetable cut in noodles. He looked under the warming plate and pulled out a salad for her and for him. There was even freshly baked bread.

“Yum!” Jill said. “Is yours as good?”

He lifted his plate and showed her that he had the same thing. He set the salad and bread on the table and then his dinner plate. He stood there for a moment.

“What are you looking for?” Jill asked with hunger induced impatience.

“Dessert,” Jacob said.

Jill opened the cooler and dug around. After a minute, she pulled out a pint of ice cream.

“How did you know?” Jacob asked.

“I saw Val take it out of the freezer this afternoon,” Jill said. “I knew she wasn’t going to eat it…”

Jill shrugged. Jacob smiled and sat down.

“I love you,” Jacob said.

Without ceremony, Jill started eating. Smiling, he started on his plate.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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