G is for Gumshoe - Page 40/98

"I don't mind."

"It shouldn't be your responsibility. I'm not here as a guest."

I hate bickering about who's going to be nicer. I got out the skillet and tried a new subject. "We never talked about money. Lee didn't mention your hourly rate."

"Let's not worry about that. We'll work something out."

"I'd feel better if we came to some agreement."

"What for?"

I shrugged. "I don't know," I said. "It's just more businesslike."

"I don't want to charge you. I'm doing this for fun."

I turned and stared at him. "You think this is fun?"

"You know what I mean. I've chucked the business anyway so this one's on me."

"I don't like that," I said. "I know you mean well, and believe me, I appreciate the help, but I don't like to feel indebted."

"There's no debt implied."

"I'm going to pay you," I said, testily.

"Great. You do that. My rates just went up. Five hundred bucks an hour."

I stared at him and he stared back. "That's bullshit."

"That's my point. It's bullshit. We'll work something out. Right now I'm hungry so let's quit arguing."

I turned back to the skillet with a shake of my head. The joy of being single is you always get to have your own way.

I went up to bed at nine, exhausted. I slept fitfully, aware that Dietz was up and prowling restlessly well into the night.


I woke automatically at 6:00 a.m. and rolled out of bed for my early morning run. Oh, wow, shit, hurt. I was sucking air through my teeth, on my hands and knees, staring at the floor when I remembered Dietz's advisory. No jogging, no lifting weights. He hadn't said a word about getting out of bed. I was clearly in no condition to work out anyway. The second day of anything is always the worst. I staggered to my feet and hobbled over to the loft rail, peering down at the living room. He was up. The sofa bed had been remade. I caught the smell of fresh coffee and a glimpse of him sitting at the kitchen counter with the L.A. Times open in front of him, probably wishing he could have his first cigarette of the day. From my perspective, foreshortened, his face seemed to be dominated by his furrowed brow and jutting chin, his body topheavy with bulky shoulders and biceps. He reversed the pages, flipping to the middle of the metro section, which is where all the juicy Los Angeles crime is detailed. I eased out of his line of sight, climbed into bed again, and spent a few minutes staring up through the skylight. A marine layer had blanketed the Plexiglas dome with white. Impossible to tell yet what kind of day it would be. It seldom rains here in May. Chances were the clouds would lift and we'd have sunshine, mild breezes, the usual lush green. Sometimes perfection ain't that easy to bear. Meanwhile, I couldn't lie here all day, though I was tempted, I confess.

If I went downstairs, I'd have to be polite and interact with Dietz, making small talk of some as yet undetermined sort. New relationships are daunting, even when they're short-term. People have to trade all those tedious details about their previous lives. It made me tired to consider the sheer weight of the exchange. We'd touched on the preliminaries in the car coming home, but we had reams of data to cover yet. Chitchat aside, Dietz might turn on the radio again… more Roy Orbison. I couldn't face that at 6:05 a.m.

On the other hand, it was my house and I was hungry, so why shouldn't I go downstairs and eat? I didn't have to talk to him. I pushed the covers back and got up, limped into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. My face was still a Technicolor wonder, a rainbow of bruises after a shower of blows. I wiggled my eyebrows and studied myself. The contusion on my forehead was shifting subtly from dark blue to gray, my blackened eyes lightening from lavender to an eerie green. I've seen eye shadow in the same shade and it always puzzles me why women want to look like that. "I got belted in the chops last night," is what it says. My hair was, as usual, mashed from the night's sleep. I'd showered the night before but I hopped in again, not for the sake of cleanliness, but hoping to improve my mood. Having Dietz under the same roof was making my skin itch.

Once I pulled on jeans and an old sweatshirt, I dumped my dirty clothes in the hamper, tucked the empty duffel in the closet, and made the bed. I went downstairs. Dietz murmured a good morning without lifting his eyes from the sports page. I helped myself to some coffee, poured a bowl of cereal with milk, grabbed the funnies, and toted it all into the living room, where I sat, bowl in hand, spooning cereal into my mouth absentmindedly while I read the comic page. The funnies never make me laugh, but I read them anyway in hopes. I caught up with Rex Morgan, M.D., the girls in Apartment 3G, and Mary Worth. It's comforting how slowly life moves in a comic strip. I hadn't read the paper in maybe four days and the professor was just now looking startled at something Mary'd said to him. What a wag she was. I could tell he was disconcerted by the wavy lines around his head.