Babylon Rising, Chapter 24
Time for a peek at the not-quite-a-date of Murphy’s research assistant/groupie Shari, and Murph’s new skeptical student, Paul, whiner of the daddy issues.
This is a pretty awkward situation. Paul is smitten with Shari: as she tries to teach him to make pasta in her little kitchen, the steam made her look flushed, as if she’d been running and hadn’t had time to change. To him the sheen of perspiration somehow made her look even more beautiful.
Shari, however, looks upon this dinner alone in her apartment as little more than the first step in the saving of Paul’s immortal soul.
In all fairness to Shari, however, I’m not sure why Paul thinks it’s so sexy to whine…and whine…and whine about his Poor Little Rich Boy problems:
…I find it hard to concentrate on things that don’t interest me…
I’m not sure which [my dad] was a bigger failure at, business or being there for me.
But just as their whiny meal is concluding, Shari’s brother bursts into the apartment! Chuck Nelson is fresh out of prison for burglary. And although he has never allowed his sister to visit him in prison, her home is the first place he goes after his release. (This actually seems like a realistic touch.) Disappointed that Shari keeps no liquor in her home, he simply changes his clothes (presumably not actually in front of Shari and Paul) and leaves.
Shari explains her family situation to Paul: parents killed in a car crash, her brother “went bad fast”:
“Chuck fell in with the worst elements from the surrounding area, committing crimes from stealing to drug dealing, and eventually got caught.”
Okay, who talks like that? Especially about her own brother?
After this incredibly stilted explanation, Shari ends the evening with Paul not, of course, with a kiss, but with…an invitation to church!
“And you should get right in the spirit by coming early and helping out in the basement, sorting clothes for the church clothing drive.”
Paul whistles cheerfully all the way home. Me, I wouldn’t be so happy if my crush had decided our date was nothing more than a conversion set-up. But that’s just me.