The Girl, Part 2

I convinced her to meet me for lunch before she met me for dinner because she seemed so nervous — kept vowing to puke. And because I was worried our chemistry wouldn’t hold up in person. We’d only written. Tens of thousands of words over a week and a half, but no actual physical contact. She agreed.

On the drive to the river, she told me not to be nice to her. “If you’re nice, I’ll probably cry.”

“Why would you cry?”

“I’m losing a client and her daughter today, and I’ve tried everything to keep them.”

“Should I be mean? Should I punch you in the face?”

“No, just don’t be nice.”

So I told her a story about G. And when we got to the river, we walked out on the bridge and she told me the history of Peaceful Valley, including several failed suicide attempts. “This is where they wash up. The last guy just broke his wrist.” She wouldn’t look at me, which gave me plenty of time to look at her.

People jogged past, even a guy in a suit. A twitchy weimaraner. A woman with tiny weights she kept saluting overhead. The water dashed below, and I lasted nearly five minutes before I kissed her.

She wore enormous tiger-striped sunglasses like a buggy Lady Gaga, a black leather coat, and giggled endlessly. Noon on a Monday.

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