Meaning stay in reality, stay in this world.
Again, a character study posing as a crime story. Stay is even more emotionally draining and straying from the functions of plot than The Blue Place. That's okay. This one's about grief with a capital G. If Aud Torvingen fascinates you—and I'm hooked—then its followup time.
This is Noir with more notion than motion. What it's NOT about is persecution of queers by a straight society. Thank you for that, Nicola. I certainly sympathize, but I am refreshed to read a lesbian author who has enough self-confidence to not throw down the inequity card. It is a pleasure to fell genuine emotions conveyed without PC spin.
Meaning the characters are always the most important ingredient of a story.
Thematically, I called Grief. The further revelations use a caterpillar's development as metaphor for the stages of growth or change needed to overcome an emotionally-destroying circumstance. Larva is The Blue Place, where Aud sees the world with adolescent, thrilling, and sensational vision. She falls hard in love. Wheeee! Stay is more the pupa; mature, more harsh in its dissection and disseminated with a fresh caring for the fragility of love and life. Ouch!
Imago, well maybe that's Always.