By four o’clock, I’d changed my clothes five times and still wasn’t happy with what I’d put on. I’d ended up in the same outfit as that morning, because none of the alternatives I’d tried seemed any better. Even though I didn’t figure Larry would care a lot about what I wore, I wanted to look good for him.
Finally I gave up and headed to the beach.
Larry was waiting for me exactly where he’d said he would be. My heart gave this weird little jump when I saw him. I wasn’t sure if it was happiness or love or lust, or some combination of all of them. All I knew was I was glad Mom had agreed to let me go, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a chance to see him.
“Glad you’re here.” His smile lit up brighter than the sun. “I’m glad your mother didn’t change her mind.”
“My dad tried to ground me,” I said.
He raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t sneak out or anything, did you?”
I shook my head. “My mother said I can still go. My father doesn’t know, and he probably won’t like it much. I don’t care. Can we get going, please?”
“Sure.” He squeezed my hand, then quickly let go when someone walked past us. I didn’t blame him. I was kind of disappointed, though. “I’m parked over here. We’ll go into the city, have supper, maybe check out the aquarium or something. Then when it’s dark, we can check out the lights before we come back here. Did your mother decide what time you had to be home?”
“I thought you and she had already sorted that out.” Had I been wrong? Maybe I’d convinced Mom of something that wasn’t true. Then again, she hadn’t remembered either, so I hadn’t exactly lied.
“She said nine, I said ten, she said she’d think about it.” He headed for a silver sports car. Some foreign thing which I should have known the name of but didn’t. I glanced at the license plate. It was from Oregon. Without meaning to, I memorized the number. Any time I saw a number written out, it stuck in my brain. I wouldn’t need to remember Larry’s for any reason I could think of, but if I ever did, I had it.
I walked beside him, half wishing my friends could see me getting into such an amazing car with a guy like Larry. Then again, they wouldn’t have cared about the guy thing. If Larry had been a gorgeous woman with a great car, Eddie and Shawn would have drooled so much they’d be standing in puddles. To me, Larry was more gorgeous than any woman. I knew my friends wouldn’t see it that way.
“She said ten,” I told him. “I have to be home by ten at the latest.”
He nodded. “We’ll make sure you’re home in time, then. I want you to be able to go out with me again sometime, and I don’t think that will happen if I bring you home late.”
“Probably not,” I agreed.
We got into the car and Larry headed south. On the way, I tried to talk to him more about himself. I still didn’t really know anything about him. I didn’t find out much during the drive. Every time I asked him a question, he turned it back on me. I didn’t know whether he used his power on me or whether it was just that I didn’t usually have anyone who wanted to listen, but I kept talking until we rolled into the city.
Then I shut up, because the buildings were huge. Even though Boston wasn’t far from home, I’d been telling the truth when I’d told Larry I’d only seen the city on trips to the airport. My fifth grade class had taken a field trip to Boston. I’d been sick and Mom had refused to let me go, even though she and Dad had already paid for it. I’d tried a few times to persuade them to take me and the kids to the city for a day and they’d always turned me down. Amber wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
Driving into the city with Larry, I tried to look in about a dozen different directions at once. Larry laughed as I craned my neck to look behind us. “Overwhelming, huh?”
“A little. Mostly I’ve just never seen anything like this, and I can’t believe I’m really here.”
“You are.” He rested his hand on my knee. I breathed deeply through my nose and stared out the window to calm my hormones. If Larry noticed, he didn’t mention it. “You’re here, and I’m here with you. And I’m glad I am.”
“M—me too,” I stammered.