Chapter Forty-one

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I got up the next morning wondering whether or not I'd done the right thing. Was Jimmy going to leave me because I hadn't jumped his bones? Should I have told him I knew who the killer was? Should I text Claudie since she was my sidekick? I cared for Jimmy, so how come I needed more time to figure this out? And since when did crime fighters such as myself clam up once we'd figured everything out?

Lucky for me, my therapist and I had a standing Saturday appointment except when she was on vacation. Even though I'd spoken to her on Wednesday, I'd asked for the usual Saturday time. Hey, I'm a woman in love. Stuff's bound to happen. I wasn't planning to tell Liz anything about Simone yet. I needed to digest the information and think. Maybe my gut was wrong.

Liz hadn't yet entered my usual room when I got there, so I took the opportunity to snuggle deep into my favorite forest green chair and put my feet up. Staring around the room, I wondered if my apartment would feel this cozy if I bought a green recliner in the exact shade as the one I now occupied. Would that make the white walls seem less stark?

Maybe it was more a question of wallpaper. The paper in this room was cream with tiny sprigs of green flowers. I stared at the little round table on the opposite wall. The lamp with a rust-colored base and a dark green shade seemed so friendly. A box of tissues was placed in the exact center of the table and looked as if it couldn't possibly sit anywhere else.

Liz wandered in while I stared at the box of tissues. She sat down opposite me.

"Anything wrong?" she said. Maybe she thought I'd spotted some bug on the wall.

I shook my head. "I wish that my apartment looked like this," I said. I shrugged generally to mean the whole room.

"Why?" Liz said. Her pencil wasn't poised, but I knew from experience that this wasn't a rhetorical question.

"I feel cozy here."

"And at home?"

I thought about it a minute. "I don't know," I said. "Not cozy."

"Not cozy how?"

This was the part of therapy that got hard. If I knew how my apartment wasn't cozy, I'd fix it.

"My walls are stark white," I said.

"And how does that make you feel?"

Here we were again with those damned feeling questions. I wanted kudos for having feelings about the therapy room, and here she wanted me to explain them.

"I feel as if no one lives there," I said, "as if my place could belong to anyone, not me alone."

"Is it the white walls?"

I thought again. The white walls were the biggest part of it, but my meager furnishings didn't fill up the space very well either.

"I don't think I have enough furniture."

We talked about my exact furnishings for a few minutes and my feelings about them for a few more. Then Liz came up with a novel suggestion.

"Do you get cable?" she asked.

What, they had the therapy channel? I nodded. I got basic cable for the nights I wasn't hanging at the Palace.

"Try watching the Home and Garden Channel," she said. "HGTV. They feature decorating shows all day and all night. It's a chance for you to decide which rooms you like and which you don't. They also show a number of decorating-on-a-budget programs."

I scrunched up my face. "Like Martha Stewart?"

Liz smiled. "She's only one option, Paulette. The world is full of decorating ideas. You simply need to decide which ones you like. That's your homework."

Homework? Homework only came at the end of the session, and we couldn't be there yet. I hadn't even told her about Jimmy, sex, and my gut feelings. One glance at my watch told me that any discussion of sex would have to wait until next week. We really had reached the homework end of the our session.

Liz hadn't said another word, but I could swear she followed my every mental turn and twist. She said, "Let's talk more about Jimmy next week, Paulette. Are things going well with him?"

I nodded. By next week, the question of will I or won't I could be moot. We could consummate our relationship long before next Saturday came around. And if we did, Liz and I could be digesting the ramifications for weeks.

"Homework?" I said.

Liz smiled again because she hadn't forgotten for an instant.

"I want you to look around your apartment and think about what you'd like to do differently," she said. "If the whole apartment seems like too much to tackle, pick one room and start there. Okay?"

"Okay," I said.

We both got up, and Liz hugged me as if I'd actually accomplished something.

"I'm impressed with your progress, Paulette," she said. "You're really working at this."

I thanked her, but I was pretty foggy on what exactly I'd been doing right. Maybe it was the feelings I'd unearthed all by myself that affected her. Otherwise, I couldn't see that I was making any progress at all.

Who knew what she'd say if she found out that I had also solved the murder.

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