“Ok, you two,” my mother says firmly. “You need to rest. Go home.” Lyle and I begin to protest through our tears. The last thing I want to do is leave Paris. “Go! You need real sleep—not an hour here and there. Take Lyle’s truck and crash at Rainbow’s. I’ll stay with Catherine. I have my car if I need it.” When my mother decides on a course of action, the best thing to do is to follow it.
“I’m not going,” Lyle says firmly, not having as much experience with my mother as I have.
“You are going,” my mother replies, leveling him with a stare. I shudder at the memory of that well-timed look. I’ve seen it rarely over the years, but the effect is emblazoned on my soul. “Ideally, you’ll stay away until morning, but barring that, get at least five hours of sleep. It’s seven-thirty now. That means I don’t want to see you until after midnight.” She lifts her chin, daring Lyle to defy her. To his credit, he recognizes an immovable force when he sees one and simply nods his head. The last thing I see as Lyle and I leave the cafeteria is my mother buying more food, presumably for Mrs. Jenson. Lyle and I walk to the truck in silence. We are well on our way home when Lyle finally speaks.
“You going to work tomorrow?” He is gripping the steering wheel so tightly, his knuckles are white.
“I have to,” I say simply. He knows better than most why. I took a month’s leave of absence after the first murder case and pretty much exhausted my goodwill with the agency. After the second murder case, I was made to feel guilty for taking a week off. In addition, people were starting to looking askance at me at work. I can tell they’re thinking, ‘What’s wrong with her that she’s been involved in two separate murder investigations?’ I’m not thrilled that there has now been a third attempt. If I’m fortunate, however, it will be thought of as a simple hit-and-run.
“I’m closing shop for a few days,” Lyle says. He is the owner of a novelty shop on Mission Street and sets his own hours. “We should check the news when we get to your place.” He is obviously thinking the same thing I am as far as to how the ‘accident’ is being reported. When go inside my apartment, there are messages on the machine. I zip through them quickly. I’m half-listening, when the last message catches my attention.
“…lucky. Next time, I won’t miss.”
“Lyle! Come here!” Lyle had gone into Paris’s room to find something to wear and comes hurrying into the living room. He’s wearing a pair of Paris’s black jeans and one of his silver shirts as they are roughly the same size. My heart twists just looking at him.
“What it is?” Lyle’s eyes are troubled as he sees the look on my face. It’s on the tip of my tongue to demand that he take off Paris’s clothes, but I swallow my comment. I press play on the answering machine instead.