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Plaster of Paris; chapter eleven, part three

I compliment her before making an all-points attack on the food.  The way I inhale the food makes me realize that I’ve been neglecting my general health since Paris got hurt.  Well, since before that as well, but especially after.  I gobble down enchiladas smothered with cheese, sour cream and home-made salsa, tortilla chips, and other delights, happy to have real food for once.  It sits nicely in my stomach, causing me to breathe a sigh of relief.  As I eat, Vashti asks if I’ve found out anything about Paris.  She is focusing on her plate and misses the expression on my face.  I quickly assemble my face into a bland visage by the time she looks up at me.  I am evasive, not sure that I want to talk about the case with her.  I flashback to the first case and how she completely misled me, and I never knew she was doing it.  She’s a good liar or evader of truth when she needs to be.  Regretfully, I decide to be cautious and tell her that I’ve eliminated a suspect or two and that I think the accident has something to do with Paris’s birthmother.  That’s all I’m willing to divulge.

Vashti looks as if she wants to say something.  She even goes so far as to open her mouth, but stops.  For a minute, we look at each other with the knowledge that this is one of those awkward moments.  Vashti still blames herself for not telling me about her friend who Vashti was sure had nothing to do with a murder; the friend actually turned out to be the murderer, and what’s worse, found me through Vashti.  I still can’t get over how easily Vashti lied to me and how good she was at it.  I drop my eyes to my food because I don’t want to reopen painful wounds or to remember the aftermath.  I wish I could forget, though I’ve already forgiven.  I don’t want to get caught in that kind of situation again, and I’m not confident that I won’t if I continue to date Vashti.  The thought rises to my mind unbidden that Inspector Robinson would never lie to me like that.  I chase that thought from my mind for two reasons.  One, I have no business thinking of the good inspector in that way, and two, I don’t know if it’s true.

Vashti sets down her fork carefully before turning to me.  She asks if she needs to apologize again, then reminds me that she’s said she’s sorry so many times.  I reassure her that I’m just thinking about something, but I don’t elaborate.  The smile on my face is patently false, but there’s nothing I can do about it.  I would love to be able to unwind with her, spilling my guts about the case.  I am frustrated with the lack of progress and could use an outside perspective.  Unfortunately, I’m just not ready to open up to her, not after what happened last time.  I know that it’s partly my fault for dangling her on the line, but I have no way of knowing when I’ll soften up enough to let her know what’s on my mind.  We finish our meal in silence, then take our tea into the living room.  We sit on her couch, not saying anything.

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