Chapter Sixty-six

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Two Peanut Buster Parfaits later, I called it a day. What I wanted wouldn't be found in big apartment complexes. Besides, I couldn't afford even a one-bedroom unit in those places. If my great new job went south, I didn't have the rent money. Maybe living with Mom was the right solution for now. I only wished that my boudoir wasn't the living room sofa.


Claudie dropped me at my serviceable Renault and roared off in a peel of tire tread. I drove back to Chez Swede around 4:30 p.m. to get set for my big date.


My mother bustled around in the kitchen. The Swede messed about in the garage. There were no messages for me. Fair enough. I told my mother that I wouldn't be there for dinner and raced into the bathroom for a shower.


By six-thirty I was perfect—or as perfect as my limited wardrobe could make Mrs. Goddard's only daughter. Oops, currently Mrs. Olaf Lampsen. Suddenly, I longed for the polyester panties and bra set that I'd purchased years ago under duress.

Everything I now owned was utilitarian. Nice but not lacy. So, I opted for the bra that Jimmy hadn't yet seen and jungle print panties. Otherwise, I put on jeans, the blue tank top, and the long rayon shirt I'd worn last Sunday. I didn't exactly hang out of the tank top, but my breasts did bulge up a bit in a sexy fashion. Now all I needed was for Prince Charming to show up.


I waited another half hour while I loaded up my little date purse with the condoms Claudie had given me, money, my phone, a little brush, my keys, some lipstick, and breath mints. I may not have known where we were going, but I had a good handle on chick essentials.


It was now 7 p.m., and Jimmy hadn't called. I dialed his cell but he didn't answer. I left a pleasant message. Blah, blah, blah, have I misunderstood?, blah, blah, blah, call me. Two hours later, the telephone rang. My mother and the Swede were watching television together on the couch. I grabbed the extension in the kitchen.


"Hello?" I said.


No immediate answer.


"Hello?" I said again. I was about to hang up when I heard a voice.


"Paulette, is that you?"


"Jimmy?"


"Sorry I didn't call earlier," Jimmy said. "I got a little tied up. Can you meet me?"


"Sure," I said, knowing it would be difficult to get all snuggly together when you drove separate cars, but I didn't argue.


"Why don't you come to the office," he said.

"Where we work?"


"Right," he said. "Only don't park in the lot. The cops check it a couple a times a night."


"Okay," I said. "I'll find a place on the street."


"You've got a key, right?" he said.


"Can't you let me in?"


"It would be more . . . exciting if you let yourself in," he said.


Oh, now I got it. This was a tryst. If no one knew we were downstairs, no one could interrupt us. Hoping the third time really was the charm, I promised to meet him in fifteen minutes and hung up.


My mother called from the living room. "Was that Jimmy?"


I walked to the doorway of the living room.


"Yes," I said. "I'm meeting him at the office. There's something I promised to help him finish." I almost giggled at my own double entendre. "Then we're going out," I said. "Don't wait up."


My mother blew me a kiss. "Have fun," she said.


If everything went the way I hoped, fun was only the beginning.

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