I have to go back to the gym tomorrow to find out more about the blond, not to mention try to find Billy. I ask what Lyle found out about Ursula in order not to have to think about returning to the gym. Mirabelle did a search on Ursula because she loves doing research, and she knows a few people in the biz. Turn out, Ursula had exaggerated about her financial assets. She’s worth about ten million, not the twenty-five or whatever she told us. Also, she just returned from a weeklong five-state tour. It was a Midwest swing. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and one of the Dakotas. Lyle and I both shudder with the insularity of true Californians, not able to imagine why anyone would live in the Midwest. Lyle resumes his narrative, informing me that Ursula’s latest book has been postponed twice. Her publisher is furious with her, according to Mirabelle, and is threatening to sue her for breach of contract.
Her situation sounds grim, but far from dire. I clarify that she has money, that she’s not broke, which she isn’t. However, she won’t be able to spend money at the rate to which she’s rapidly become accustomed. Lyle lowers his voice to impart the gossip that Ursula has a lover somewhere, but that’s all that Mirabelle knew. I am taking notes as he talks because it helps me order my thoughts. Lyle is moody as he finishes reporting because we have all this information and none of it fits together. Ignoring his temper tantrum, I tell him that the blond girl is the key. I am beginning to realize that he doesn’t react well under pressure and that it’s nothing personal. A huge yawn nearly splits my mouth, making me realize that I sleep. It’s nine o’clock.
“I think I’ll hang here a few more hours, then go home for the night,” I say to Lyle. “I suggest you do the same.”
“Can I come over to your place?” Lyle asks, a puppy-dog look on his face. “I don’t want to be alone.” I can understand that, as I am feeling the same way. I nod, then we both go back to the waiting room. My mom is awake and chatting with the Jensons. Mr. Jenson is back to impersonating a martinet while Mrs. Jenson is dissolving into a ball of weepy nerves. Mr. Jenson is patting her stiffly on the back, obviously uncomfortable with attempting to console her.
“Why don’t you guys go home?” My mother says, shooting me a meaningful look. When I don’t budge, she adds in Taiwanese, “They’re ready to snap. You need to get Lyle out of here.”
“Let me just see Paris really quick first,” I say, slipping away. The officer looks up from the magazine he’s leafing through and nods. It’s a different officer this time, so I have to give my name again before he lets me inside. I take my accustomed chair and gaze at Paris for a minute. Open your damn eyes, I urge him silently, but there isn’t even a flicker. I vaguely remember something about the chances of recovering being reduced drastically if the victim does not open his eyes in the first forty-eight hours following his trauma. It’s been about that much time, which means we’re entering the danger zone.
“Don’t you dare leave me,” I whisper, unsure if I’m speaking loud enough for him to hear. Even if I’m not, I have things I need to say. “Paris, you’ve been my best friend forever. I love you more than almost anyone on this earth. I can’t thank you enough for having my back.” I pause, not wanting to be melodramatic. I am stroking his hand which has no feeling to it. “I promise you, Paris. I’m going to get the bastard who did this to you. If it’s the last thing I do.” I sit, not saying anything else. My heart is speaking to his, and I’m sure he can hear that message better than any I might vocalize. I allow myself to feel the pain of his pain. I relinquish the death grip I’ve had on my control for the last few days. It’s only in his presence that I feel safe enough to be vulnerable, knowing he won’t take advantage of it.