CHAPTER FIVE

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Chapter Five 

Joe ended up helping me move all the furniture into the dining room, then helped me tape. We didn't talk much while we worked, and after my initial nervousness of being near him in such tight quarters, I got used to his presence.

When we finished taping, he looked me up and down and raised an eyebrow. “You gonna paint in those clothes? Since you’re new to this, you’re bound to get paint on ‘em.”

I hadn’t considered that, along with most everything else in my life, it seemed. I went to my bedroom and dug through the drawers for an old t-shirt and pair of shorts, self-conscious about changing with Joe in the next room. I assured myself it was unlikely he had X-ray vision. If he had it in his head to attack me, he would have done it already.

When I returned, he had drop cloths spread all over the floor.

“I don’t remember buying that many.” I said, puzzled.

“You didn’t. A couple are mine. You could have made do with the two you bought, but you would have to keep moving them around. It’ll be easier this way.”

My mouth dropped.

He saw my hesitation. “If I overstepped my….”

“No,” I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I’m marveling at how nice you’re being and trying to figure out why.”

His eyebrows raised. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. People can be nice without an underlying motive.”

“Not to me they don’t.”

“Why not?”

Our eyes locked and he studied me, trying to figure out what I meant. He obviously didn’t know me yet. This friendship won’t last. I warned myself. Don’t get used to him.

“Never mind,” I mumbled and went out into the kitchen. My heart stopped at the sight of the shopping bags. He had to have gone through them to get out the drop clothes. Did he see the nightie? But the Walmart sack looked undisturbed. Feeling lightheaded, I took out the curtains and set them on the table, wadded up the bag with the nightie still inside, and stuffed it into the dishtowel drawer. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and went back into the living room.

Before I knew it, we were both painting. I wanted to remind Joe that he claimed he wasn't going to help, but I knew better than push my luck. He was better and faster at it than me.

When Joe finished a wall, I stepped back and took a good look, clasping my hands to my chest. “I love it!” I exclaimed, giddy with happiness. “It looks like early morning sunshine!”

He turned to me, a slow smile spreading across his face. “Yeah, I suppose it does.”

We were almost done with the first coat when Violet burst through the side door. “Oh, thank God you’re all right! I’ve been tryin’ to call you all day! Why won’t you answer the phone? I thought something happened to you! What on earth are you doing?”

Her rapid-fire questions made me I feel like I’d just been pelted with a BB gun. “I’m painting the living room,” I glance over my shoulder. “Well, we’re painting the room.”

Violet was livid. “Why would you be redecorating when Momma’s not even buried in the ground? It’s bad enough that you’re accused of killin’ our mother, now you’re redecorating? What are people gonna say, Rose?”

If Violet had slapped me in the face, it couldn't have hurt worse.

Joe cleared his throat. “I know this is none of my business, but Rose isn’t redecorating. She’s covering up the blood that was spread all over the wall. I offered to help her since she’d never painted before.”

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