Chapter 6

Griffin backed the car out of its parking spot and he exited the parking lot.

"Some sad things have happened to you," he remarked as he drove the car along River Road.

"Yes," she said.

"You named your daughter after that girl you knew in the hospital."

"Yes," She confirmed.

"Does she have her spirit?"

"A lot of it," Larissa acknowledged with a smile.

Griffin pulled the car into the parking lot of River Rat Pizza that was one of four businesses in a small strip mall building. He pulled out his cell and pressed a button. "What kind?" He asked.

"Vegetable is probably the safest for me," Larissa replied.

He placed the order and then put the phone in the stick shift console.

"We were both touched and prodded as kids," he said.

"Too much so," she agreed.

"What happened to your curls?" He asked.

Larissa blushed. "I grew out of them."

They both became quiet. The late sun shined through the side windows to illuminate the road grime streaked across the panes.

"Jackie's going to shit when she finds out we already knew each other," Larissa said and then they were silent again.

"Do you need anything?" Griffin asked after a while

She stared at him. "I've always needed something," she admitted.

The setting sun made Griffin feel hopeful although he wasn't sure about what. He smiled at Larissa who returned his smile with one of her own.

"Thanks for being nice to me," he said. "Back then."

"I knew you were scared."

"You were right though," he replied. "It all worked out fine."

"Did it?" Larissa asked. "Sometimes I wonder."

Griffin wanted to stay calm knowing there was no need for nervousness. They had endured and now here they were, together as it was meant to be. He wanted everything to be relaxed between them. They looked at each other without saying anything.

"It's all good," Griffin finally said.

She nodded but Griffin wasn't sure if she knew what he meant. Griffin was convinced that it was only a matter of time before they fell in love and lived happily ever after. It felt like it was destiny from the moment he discovered he was 303A and she was 305A all these years later.

"Do you have any illusions that this was supposed to happen?" He asked, staring at her once again, amazed at how appealing she looked to him.

"I learned a long time ago never to question fate," Larissa told him.

"I'll go check on the pizza," he decided.

"Do you have wine at home?" Larissa wondered.

"Yes," he said as he opened the door. "It's going to be fine," he assured her.

She watched him disappear into the pizza place, amazed that any of this was happening. She never thought anything exciting, romantic, storybook, or mystical would ever happen to her. Griffin reappeared after a few minutes holding the pizza carton in his hand. He passed it to her when he opened the door and Larissa gladly accepted it.

"All right," Griffin remarked as he started the car. He felt surprisingly calm and suddenly young.

His house wasn't far, an unremarkable ranch in a bland neighborhood of look-a-like houses and similar yards. When they stepped out of the car, the western sky was turning reddish orange from the setting sun and the air smelled of the yard's grass. Griffin led Larissa to the flat slab that served as the front stoop.

"It's a nice house." Larissa's voice soothed him.

"Thanks," Griffin said as he opened the front door, smiling as he turned to face her. "I'm glad you're here."

"Me too," she replied.

Griffin led her into the house, carrying the pizza carton with him. The small front foyer opened into a large living room. In the center were two older couches that formed a crooked L. A flat screen was on the wall. Another half wall separated the room from the smaller kitchen with a stove, a refrigerator, and some wood cabinets over a sink and fake granite counter. To the side was hall that led to two bedrooms and the bathroom.

Larissa followed Griffin into the kitchen. He placed the pizza carton on the counter and opened the refrigerator to retrieve the promised wine.

"I hope this is okay," he said, holding up the bottle for her to see.

"It's fine," she said.

He put the bottle on the counter next to the pizza and fished out two plates and wine glasses from the cupboards. Larissa stepped up to him when he turned to pour the wine, moving close enough to him to dare kiss him on the lips. It felt different from the smooch on the Mt. Griffin tower and neither said anything when it was over.

Griffin poured the wine and put a slice of pizza on each plate.

"We can sit at the breakfast counter if you want," he said, gesturing to the small extension at the end of the counter.

"Okay."

They sat side by side on the wooden stools, sipping their wine and eating the pizza. It was getting dark in the house so Griffin turned on the lamp underneath the kitchen window.

"Thanks for doing this instead of the Riverside," Larissa said.

"This is nice."

There was a long pause.

"It's just that I wanted to be alone with you instead of in a crowded restaurant," she explained.

"I want to know everything about you," Griffin blurted out.

"You already do," Larissa replied, reaching out to pat his hand with hers.

"What about me?" He worried.

She kept her hand on his. "I'm learning more with each moment," she assured him. "You weren't a happy kid."

"No," he admitted. "But I never forgot the lesson you gave me and I tried to be more positive after my hospital stay."

"Good," she smiled.

"What about you?"

"Oh, I was happy enough," she said. "I owed that much too dear sweet Jill."

"Yeah."

"But I was convinced that no one else felt how I felt," Larissa admitted.

"How could they?"

"I think that we were both sadder than we knew," Larissa decided.

Griffin turned and suddenly their lips touched. They kissed and Larissa opened her lips while closing her eyes. They kissed for a long time and Griffin didn't care if they never stopped.

But it did, of course. They finished the pizza and wine and adjourned to the living room where they were soon falling off the couch and groping each other on the floor like two teenagers on a Saturday night babysitting detail.

"Can we go into the bedroom?" Larissa asked after enough smooch time had taken place on the carpet

"Of course," Griffin replied.

He helped her to her feet and he held her hand as he led her to the master bedroom. The bed was large. The room was clean and tidy. He turned on a night light in a wall socket and he watched as Larissa undressed in front of him. When she was naked, she slipped under the covers and Griffin quickly disrobed and joined her there. They lay on their sides facing each other, Larissa's hair falling across her face.

"You are very pretty," he said.

Larissa kissed his chest. "No, not really," she sighed. "When you spend the first ten years of your life trying to take a dump without crying it kind of takes away your appeal."

They laid quietly for a long time staring into each other's eyes without talking.

"Nobody was like us," Griffin realized.

"I don't think so," she agreed.

"We were both vulnerable at a vulnerable age."

"Yes," she sighed.

"But now this vulnerability attracts us to each other."

"An unhappy childhood and the trauma of being vulnerable could explain the naturalness of this moment," Larissa said.

"Jill would be happy for us."

"Jillson might too," Larissa said.

"It's okay that we were that way once," Griffin remarked. "But we don't have to be now."

"I agree," Larissa said, leaning in and kissing him.

"I'm so glad that was you," Griffin said as he gently pushed her onto her back and rolled on top of her.