Oracle Mom by time4moxie
Past Featured StorySummary:

MEMBER'S CHOICE - The Jim and Pam saga affects more than just those two. Sometimes it's hard to sit by and be a mother while those two dance around the subject.

New Chapter added - more Jim/Pam holiday fluffiness.  :-)


Categories: Jim and Pam, Alternate Universe Characters: Jim/Pam, Other
Genres: Angst, Holiday, Romance
Warnings: Mild sexual content
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 27202 Read: 36055 Published: December 11, 2006 Updated: November 25, 2007
Chapter 2 - What She Does by time4moxie
Author's Notes:
I struggled a bit with how much interference Jim's mother would be willing to cause, and I think what resulted was realistic. I could picture myself doing something similar for my own child, if such a crazy situation existed.


Life for Larissa started to seem a little closer to normal with the return of Jim to Scranton. They had remained close with emails and phone calls while he was in Connecticut, but now it was nothing to drop things off on his doorstep on her way home from the high school, or have him stop by for a little while some nights after work. He immediately resumed his regular place at Sunday lunches, even though she constantly assured him he wasn't required to do so.

“It sounds like you are trying to get rid of me,” he teased her. “Is there some sort of secret rendezvous I'm keeping you from these days?”

“Don't be silly, Jim,” Larissa replied, setting before him a second serving of chocolate silk pie. Her plan of making his favorite foods week after week had succeeded in banishing that gaunt look he had been sporting in Stamford. She was secretly pleased she was seeing the return of his rounded cheeks. “That's always been on Tuesday nights. You know that. It's just that I can't believe you don't have better things to do on a Sunday. I'm sure you still have friends, right?”

“And most of them are still sleeping off their hangovers at this hour,” he grinned.

“Poor Jim,” she laughed. “Caught between the partying crowd and the old-timers, hmm?”

“Same as always,” he nodded.

Jim had been back nearly three weeks and except for a passing litany of names when he first found out he was moving back, Larissa had heard little news about anyone at work. Not even Pam. Given how close they once were, Larissa thought waiting this long had shown great restraint on her part. She knew something wasn't quite right, and she didn't mind starting to pick at the wall Jim seemed to have put up between them. She felt hopeful that with just the two of them at the table, he might once again feel willing to confide in her.

“What about the folks that came up from Stamford? Aren't you friends with any of them?”

Jim shook his head at her question. “Not really,” he said, focusing his attention on his pie. “I mean I talk to them at work, but they weren't exactly buddies when we were in Stamford.”

Larissa sighed loudly at his evasive answer, putting her elbows on the dining room table and resting her head in her hands. She looked through her fingers and noticed her dramatic reaction had him finally looking at her. She lifted her head up to stare back at him. “Will you just tell me what's wrong?” She implored. “Please? I cannot take all this ennui.”

Jim put his fork down and pushed his empty dessert plate away. “What do you want me say, Mom? The more things change the more they stay the same?”

“And is that the truth? Are things just the same as when you left?”

He laughed, but eyes remained serious. “Who knows? Maybe they're worse.”

“Talk to me, Honey,” she pleaded softly. “Is Pam still there?”

He nodded, and absentmindedly brushed his hand through his hair. “Yeah, she's still there.”

“And how did that reunion go? Have you spoken to her?”

“Well, we have to speak - we work in the same office.”

“You know what I'm asking.”

He shrugged. “She gave me a big hug hello on the first day, and since then we talk when we need to, about work related things. Is it awkward? Yes, yes it is. It's not that easy to just act like nothing happened.”

Larissa nodded. “Of course it's not. But what did you expect? Do you want to be friends with her again? Do you want more? Is it hard seeing her everyday?”

Jim put his hand up to stop her questions, and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Whoa, stop the inquisition, please!”

“I just worry about you, Jim,” Larissa said apologetically. “Call it a mother's prerogative. And I'm not trying to pry, honestly. It's just that you've gone from telling me what was going on with you to just about radio silence when it comes to your feelings. I guess I'm not used to being frozen out by you. By Jessica, sure - but not you.”

Jim looked at his mother and smiled wanly. “I don't have anything to tell you because I don't know myself,” he said. “I had hoped - “ he stopped for a moment. “I don't know what I'd hoped. I guess I just wish she would talk to me. Really talk to me. She seemed happy to see me, but what about all the time she could have contacted me and she didn't? Am I suppose to just treat that as if it were missing time and everything can just go back to being how it was?”

“I don't know, why don't you ask her?”

“Because I was the one who made the move the last time. At some point she's got to care enough to say something.”

Larissa shook her head. “Wouldn't it be better to stay something and get it over with than wait in misery?”

“I'm not in misery,” he corrected, albeit a bit unconvincingly. “It's just so damn frustrating.” Jim sighed. “And maybe I'm just beating a dead horse anyway. It should be obvious that if she never called after the wedding, never contacted me while I was in Stamford, and said she doesn't care if I'm seeing someone now, then I guess one can assume she really has no interest in being anything but friends, right?”

Larissa jaw dropped just a little. “You're seeing someone now?”

Jim looked at his hands for a moment. “Yeah, kind of,” he finally replied.

“Since when?”

“Right after coming back. It's really not a big deal.”

“So how did you manage to meet someone so soon? Is she a friend of Mark's?”

Jim looked increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. “No, actually she's from the Stamford branch. I introduced you to Karen, remember? The woman that sat behind me?”

Larissa had a vague remembrance of a dark-haired, serious-looking woman. “And that started here - not back there?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Jim replied, “I really don't remember exactly when.”

“I see,” his mother replied. She wondered if he did as well, but thought better of asking. “Will you be bringing her over for Thanksgiving dinner then?” she asked instead.

Jim quickly shook his head. “No, she's going back home for the holiday weekend. She suggested I go with her but I thought you'd prefer me to stay around.”

Larissa nodded, but said nothing. She stood up and walked over to Jim's side of the table. She picked up his empty plate and fork with one hand, and rested her other hand on his shoulder. She gave him a kiss on the top of his head and walked silently into the kitchen. There was so much she wanted to say, and none of it would do either of them any good at this point. His lack of disclosure over Karen spoke volumes. The fact that Karen wanted him to come home with her and he didn't told her even more.

When Larissa came back to the dining room table, she sat down next to him. “Why don't you invite Pam over for Thanksgiving dinner?”

He looked up at her like she'd lost her mind. “I don't think that's such a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Were you here when I was talking about the awkward part? Because I can't imagine a more frightening idea that being seated around this dinner table and having Jonathan and Jessica trading thinly veiled comments about her or me.”

“Jim - I think they've outgrown that sort of behavior, don't you?”

“It wouldn't work, Mom. Just trust me on this.”

“But don't you think getting out of the office might be what you two need to get talking? Between the impersonal office setting and those camera crews you still having around, just when do you think she's going to walk up and initiate a personal conversation like that?”

“I said No,” Jim said forcefully. His tone surprised Larissa, and she immediately shut up. Jim got up out of his chair and left the room. Larissa wondered when raising children was ever going to get easier, and stood up to busy herself in the kitchen. The number of times Jim had ever raised his voice to her could be counted on one hand, so she knew she'd said too much. She'd clearly hit a sore spot, and for that she was sorry. She just didn't know what to do or say to make him feel better.

She'd be the first one trying to keep him away from Pam Beesly if she thought it would help. But it was clear that distance didn't change a thing. And deep down Larissa knew that this woman was either going to make or break her son. There didn't seem to be any other option. His relationship with Karen was practically non-existent by comparison, that much was clear. Maybe it would grow, maybe she'd make him forget Pam. But based on her instincts, Larissa knew Karen didn't stand a chance. She just hoped she didn't get hurt too when it was all said and done.

She had finished rinsing off the last glass when she heard his steps on the kitchen tile. She put the glass in the drainer and turned around.

“I'm sorry,” they said in unison. Larissa had barely opened her arms to him when she found herself nearly smothered in his embrace. He rested his head on her shoulder while she gently rubbed his back, fighting back the tears in her eyes. Why was it really so hard for him to be happy?

They stood together like that for minutes, Larissa silently willing some of her strength and courage into her middle child. She even wished she could give him some of her foolhardiness, for surely that was the most important thing he needed in this situation.

Finally Jim broke their hug, taking a step back before speaking. “I would love to ask Pam to join us for Thanksgiving,” he confessed. “But I have no reason to believe she's accept such an offer, and right now one more rejection is just not something I can deal with.”

“I understand,” Larissa replied. “I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry.”

“It's okay,” he nodded. “Were things different, it would have been a great idea.”

Larissa spent the next few days with Jim's words heavy on her mind and heart. She tried talking about the situation with her husband Greg, but he told her not to interfere. She knew he was just being cautious, and that he probably was correct. But even though he was Jim's father he just didn't understand Jim like she did.

And so it was that when lunch time came that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Larissa found herself waiting in her car on the street opposite the Dunder Mifflin parking lot. She'd only had to work a half day at school, and still snuck out slightly earlier than she was supposed to, but she felt she was on a mission. She saw Jim's car in the parking lot, and knew she had given herself plenty of time. A short phone conversation last night with him had revealed that he planned on running errands during his lunch break, and she hoped it wouldn't be long before she saw him leave.

Fortunately she saw Jim go before her courage gave out. She pulled into the parking lot, neatly taking Jim's now empty space. She took a deep breath, looked in the rear view mirror, and fluffed her hair out a bit. She wasn't sure what in the hell she was about to do, she just knew she had to do something.

She took the elevator up, and walked toward the Dunder Mifflin sign. Larissa noticed a slight shake in her hand as she reached for the glass entrance door. She paused, considering her options. She could just turn around, go home, and Jim would never know she was here, about to step right into the brier patch that was currently posing as his love life. Was there really anything helpful she could do by walking through those doors? Or was she just being selfish, wanting to face the woman who's been as close to her son's heart as she's been, and truth be told, probably owned an even greater part of it than she ever could?

She pulled the door open harder than she intended, and stepped into the office. No going back now, she thought. Let's just hope he forgives me one day.

The woman at the reception desk stood up and smiled at her. Larissa knew immediately who she was. Had she not already known Pam was the receptionist she would have recognized her from her smile. It was identical to the one she had seen in photos Jim had of her.

“Can I help you?” Pam asked.

“Hi, I'm Larissa Halpert, Jim's mother,” she smiled, “Is he here?”

She watched Pam's face flush, and her eyes seemed to get slightly bigger. “Oh! Mrs. Halpert, h-how nice to finally meet you,” Pam stuttered.

“And you must be Pam,” Larissa replied, taking a step closer. “I would know you anywhere.”

“Really?” Pam asked, more than a bit surprised.

“Really,” she replied warmly. “I've seen your photo and Jim's talked about you so much these past years that I can't believe we've never actually met before today.”

If it was possible, Pam blushed even pinker, clearly unsure what to say. “Oh! Well, I'm afraid you just missed Jim. He went out to do some errands during lunch.”

“Oh, that's a shame,” Larissa replied, her practiced line sounding slightly false to her own ear. She stood at the reception desk, taking it all in. Pam's desk was cluttered with stacks of papers, and she saw notes and photos taped all along the top edge of her counter. Larissa was standing to the side of the reception desk, so she could easily see the faces in the photos. One such photo was taped just right of Pam's computer monitor, but sat further under the counter than the rest. It was a photo of Pam and Jim. Its location had clearly been given some thought, as someone standing in front of Pam's desk would not be able to see it. The clandestine location told Larissa that it was a special picture to Pam, and it gave her the first sliver of hope that perhaps she was right in coming here.

She noticed Jim's desk sat closest to reception, the photo of Jonathan, Jessica and him sitting near the monitor giving his location away. She saw that Jim sat with his back to Pam, whereas Larissa remembered that he used to sit facing her. She wondered if that made it better or worse for Jim these days. She had no doubt he probably still felt her presence closely.

She heard Pam say something and turned her gaze back. “I'm sorry, Pam, what did you say?”

“I wondered if you want to leave a message for him? Or if you have the time, you could wait for him in the conference room. I don't expect he'll be gone terribly long.”

Pam had just made her next decision easy. “Yes, if that wouldn't be too much trouble, I think I would like to wait.”

Pam smiled again and lead her to the conference room. She pulled back one of the chairs from the table and offered her a seat. “Can I get you something to drink while you wait? Coffee or tea maybe?”

“Tea would be lovely, if you have it,” Larissa said.

“Tea's my personal favorite too,” Pam confessed with a self-conscious smile. “Would you like Darjeeling or an herbal tea? I have new box of Raspberry Zinger I've been meaning to open up.”

“Yes, raspberry sounds good. Will you join me in a cup?” Larissa asked. “I mean, unless of course you need to get back to work?”

“I was just about to have lunch, actually,” Pam said. “I'll be right back.”

Larissa sat alone in the conference room, feeling awkward and more than a bit obvious. Pam had been extremely polite and friendly, and if she thought it was odd Larissa was there she didn't show it at all. She tried to come up with a word to fit her first impression of Pam, but 'pleasant' was the best she could come up with. Not a bad way to start, but certainly not the description she wanted for the girl her son was so crazy over. She smiled at her own impatience. Her son was nothing if not a person with many hidden layers. She should expect that someone he held so dear would probably be much the same way.

Soon Pam returned with a tray holding two cups of tea and their accessories, with a brown bag tucked under her arm. She was also accompanied by another woman, a woman with darker hair and a more boyish figure.

“Mrs. Halpert? Hi, I'm Karen,” she said extending her hand.

Larissa had forgotten about Karen, and shook Karen's hand politely. “Nice to meet you, Karen.” She fumbled for a moment to find something to say. I've heard so much about you? That was far from true. I'm glad to finally meet you? Not so much, actually. She was here to meet Pam. Pam was the crux of the problem, as well as the source of the solution. To Larissa Karen was just a potentially nice girl caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. She decided to say nothing, and just smiled again at her.

Karen continued to stand there, watching while Pam laid out the tea cups and the sugar and lemons. She finally said something about getting back to work and left the room.

Larissa noticed that Pam watched Karen walk out. “Do you know Karen well?” Larissa asked her.

Pam shrugged. “Not very, but she hasn't been here long. She's originally from the Stamford office. She's really is very nice when you get to know her.”

Larissa wondered if that statement was meant to mean more than just a polite endorsement for a colleague. Jim had told Pam he was seeing someone, surely Pam knew that person was Karen. Was Pam trying to tell her to give Karen a chance? Larissa decided to stop thinking and just drink her tea.

While they each stirred their teas and waited for them to cool down enough to drink, Larissa and Pam exchanged small talk. Larissa asked Pam about her family, the upcoming holidays, her interests outside the office. Pam's answers evolved from simple and restrained to detailed and entertaining as the two women found they shared similar tastes in movies and books. When Larissa asked Pam to tell her more about her art classes, she began to see some fire, some joy in Pam's face. Pam took a pen that was lying on the conference table and detailed some of her bigger art disasters on a paper napkin. Larissa found it almost too easy to laugh with her. She wonders again how it was possible the two of them had never met before today.

Larissa asked Pam if all the horror stories about working at Dunder Mifflin were true, and Pam assured her they were. She provided a few examples of Michael's best intentions going astray, although Larissa noted Pam always tried to emphasis that Michael was a well-meaning man, really. This lead to some discussion about the existence of Dwight, and short listing of some of the best pranks she and Jim had ever pulled against him. With her lively descriptions and beaming smile, Larissa could imagine the fun her son and Pam had shared in all this time.

“I guess the hijinx have continued now that Jim's back?” Larissa asked innocently. She peered over her cup of tea to look for Pam's reaction.

“We've pulled a few,” Pam said, smiling slightly. “It's been so good to have him back. I can't being to tell you how much I've missed him.”

It was only for a second or two, and Larissa might have been imagining it, but she swore at that moment she saw it. That look in Pam's eyes when she spoke of Jim being back. It was the same look Jim used to have when he talked about Pam. Back before he admitted how he felt. Damn it all if there isn't something there, she thought to herself.

“So what are your plans for Thanksgiving, Pam?” Larissa asked.

“No big plans,” Pam replied. “I guess I'll drive over to my parents' house. My sister and brother both have families, so it will probably be a bit overwhelming, but that's what holiday are about, right?”

“I don't suppose you'd consider joining us for Thanksgiving,” Larissa said casually.

Pam was completely taken aback by the offer. “I'm not sure I understand.”

“We Halperts tend to have very large parties for Thanksgiving. Some relatives, some friends, you know,” Larissa explained. “And I know it's late, and it probably sounds like the offer is coming right out of the blue, but it isn't. I know how long you and Jim have been friends and I just thought it would be lovely to have you join us. It would be nice for him to have someone to spend the day with besides old aunts and uncles and friends of his brother and sister.”

“He'll have Karen, surely,” Pam replied. “After all, she is his girlfriend.”

“Karen?” Larissa repeated. “No, Jim's already told me she won't be there.” Larissa looked back to be sure that no one was standing at the conference room door before continuing. “Listen, I don't want to give you the wrong impression, but he never even mentioned her to me until this past weekend when I asked about inviting you to join us for Thanksgiving this year. He was afraid to ask you because he thought you would turn him down. But that's just silly, right? I mean, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for what you have, and you and Jim have been friends forever it seems. Which is why I'm a little embarrassed that you've never shared the holiday with us before.”

Pam glanced down at her now empty tea cup. “Well, this is the first Thanksgiving I've known Jim when I wasn't engaged,” she said. “I don't suppose it would have been appropriate back then.”

“But you'll come this year?” Larissa asked encouragingly. “Please say yes, I know it would make Jim so happy.”

Pam didn't respond for a while. She had opened her brown bag and was now stirring her open yogurt pot, glancing up at his mother. Larissa felt a bit guilty doing this; it honestly wasn't part of some preconceived plan when she walked in the door. She just wanted to spend some time with her, get a feel for what kind of person she was. But within minutes she felt like she saw a glimpse of what Jim had seen years ago. She couldn't explain it, and by all rights she shouldn't have been so easily won over. This girl had caused tears by the bucketful to be shed by her son. But there wasn't an trace of guile in her, that much Larissa could sense immediately. And that made her want to know more about her, wanted to see how she interacted with Jim. And that's when she remembered her idea from Sunday. Jim was probably going to kill her, she thought ruefully, stepping in with an offer he told her he didn't want to make. But to hell with it. He'd get over it. And maybe someday he'd even thank her. That is, if Pam actually accepted the invitation.

Pam cleared her throat, which broke Larissa's reverie. “Um, okay, Mrs. Halpert,” she said with an uncertain smile. “I'd love to come over tomorrow for Thanksgiving.”

Larissa beamed in excitment, and put her hand on Pam's arm. “Wonderful, but let's go over two ground rules. First, it's Larissa, not Mrs. Halpert. 'Mrs. Halpert' is for my high school English students and for my mother-in-law, God bless her. Second, why don't we keep this just between us and surprise Jim tomorrow?”

Pam looked unconvinced. “Are you sure that's a good idea?”

“Definitely,” Larissa intoned. “Trust me. Jim loves surprises.”

“Okay then,” Pam nodded, starting to smile. “What can I bring and when shall I show up?”


Jim had barely hung up his overcoat when Karen bounded up to him. “Your mother is in the conference room,” she told him.

“What?” Jim looked over Karen's shoulder to see his mother and Pam talking animatedly. He walked away from Karen without saying another word, and headed straight toward Larissa and Pam.

He stopped in the doorway. “Hey, what are you doing here?”

Larissa turned in her chair and smiled. She could see the worry in his eyes and it made her want to laugh, but she forced it back. “I wondered when you'd return,” she said. “Pam's been keeping me entertained while I waited.”

“Did we have a lunch date that I forgot?” Jim continued to stand there, looking confused.

Larissa stood up, and gave her son a hug. “No, no, it's not your fault,” she said. “I only had a half day at the school and thought I'd come over and see how things were going.”

“Okay,” Jim said, clearly suspicious of her arrival. “Everything here is about the same as it was when I talked to you yesterday.”

“Great,” Larissa replied. “Well then I won't keep you from work.” She smiled back at Pam. “It was so nice to finally have a chance to meet you, Pam.”

“Oh yes, thank you, Larissa. I feel exactly the same way.”

Jim guided his mother out of the conference room and toward the door. Karen sat straight-backed at her desk, frowning slightly, watching Jim and his mother walk away from her. “Here, let me walk you out,” he said to Larissa.

“You don't have to bother,” his mother said.

“Oh no,” Jim replied. “I insist.”

Larissa smiled to herself. She knew she was in trouble.

The elevator doors had barely shut when Jim spoke. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Well I'm pretty sure I have everything I need for tomorrow, so I suspect I'll just head home now. Maybe have a short nap before your brother and his girlfriend arrive.”

He raised his eyebrow at her. “That's not what I mean and you know it.” The elevator dinged and he held the door with his arm as she walked out.

“I came to see you. You weren't here, and Pam offered me a cup of tea while I waited, and we had a nice little chat.” She smiled innocently up at her son. “What's so wrong with that?”

Jim opened the glass door to the parking lot and a cold wind whipped at their hair as he followed his mother outside. “What so wrong with that,” he said, gently holding on to her elbow as they walked toward her car, “Is that I know you too well, and I am pretty sure you weren't here to see me.”

She unlocked her car with two beeps from her key fob. “Well who else would I be here for?”

Jim pushed both hands into the deep pockets of his blue woolen coat and gave her what Larissa always thought of as “The Face” - a combination of raised eyebrows, eyes wide open and his lips pressed hard into a straight line. He looked like he was smiling and frowning at the same time. He always used that face when he was trying to call her bluff, when wanted her to know that he didn't quite believe her. It wasn't an “I'm angry at you for what you are doing,” but a “I'm going to keep bugging you until you tell me what you're up to.”

Larissa dipped her head down and let out the laugh that had been building up inside since the moment Jim found her sitting with Pam. “Okay! You win!” she practically shouted, smacking him gently in the chest. “I admit it. I didn't come to see you. I came to see Pam. I've heard about her for so many years, but with the exception of a handful of photos of yours, and a sighting across a parking lot a time or two, I know nothing about her save what you tell me. I had no feeling for who she is. When you didn't want to invite her over for Thanksgiving, I guess my patience just gave out.”

Jim's hands remained in his pockets, and he was looking down at the ground. He didn't say anything to her confession, and Larissa started to worry that perhaps she'd misjudged what she thought her son's reaction would be. Maybe he really was trying to put Pam out of his life, and she had just done the exact opposite of what he really wanted.

“So you have a feeling for her now, do you?” Jim was still looking down at the ground as he spoke, sounding more empty than angry.

Larissa involuntarily stepped closer at the sound of his voice. “A little,” she replied. “She's... she's got a great amount of sparkle to her.”

Jim looked up finally. “Sparkle?”

Larissa smiled slightly. “Yes, sparkle. She's the first person I've ever met who's as completely expressive as you are. When she starts talking about something that matters to her, her whole face just lights up. I found her quite endearing, which says a lot given how I'm supposed to be on your side.” She saw a smile tugging at the side of his lips, and she breathed a slow sigh of relief. Perhaps her instincts had been correct all along.

“What was she talking about?” he asked, glancing up at his mother just for a moment.

“Oh, this and that. The holidays, Dunder Mifflin - “

“No,” Jim interrupted tersely, “What was she talking about that made her face light up?”

They looked at each other, mother to son, and she recognized the question for what it was. She was so glad she didn't have to lie to him.

“She talked about you, actually,” Larissa said nonchalantly. “She was telling me how glad she was that you were back. She mentioned some of the trouble you two have already started to get into. That girl has missed you terribly.”

“She said that?”

“Yes, Jim, she did.” Larissa said, looking her son in the eye, “But had she not said a single word to that effect I still would know it was true. It was written all over her - in her smile, in her inflection. I don't understand how it was obvious to me after a mere twenty minute conversation and you can't see it after nearly a month here.”

“Because you know everything? At least that's what you like to tell me,” he joked.
“Besides,” he continued, sounding more serious. “Missing someone doesn't mean there's anything more to it than that. It's not like you don't miss your friends.”

Larissa heard him say the word 'friends' like it was the most distasteful thing he could think of. She reached out and held onto his arm. “You know her a million times better than I do, so maybe I'm way off here. But I wouldn't say this if I did feel it was true: there's more going on here than you are willing to consider. I could see it in her eyes just like I used to see it in yours, Jim. Don't be so quick to burn your bridges just yet. I don't think you're seeing the whole story.”

He shifted his weight between his feet and she knew to just quit talking because he was on the verge of tuning her out anyway. He had that stubborn look on his face that she always noticed when he didn't want to listen anymore, didn't want to admit that she might have some information he either missed or didn't want to acknowledge. But she knew that he'd reflect on her words long after she was left, and hopefully they would make him feel a little better.

So she opened her car door, and got in. He stood at her door as she rolled her window down. “Mad at me?” she asked, as he rested his hand on the roof of her car and leaned his head in slightly.

“Would it do any good if I was?” he replied, smirking.

“Yes, it would,” she replied seriously. “I didn't show up here this afternoon to hurt you.”

He put his free hand on window's edge. “No, I'm not mad,” he said softly. “I just don't see how this helps anything. Now I get to go back in and have Karen ask me why I didn't introduce her to you.”

“And why didn't you?” Larissa teased.

“No,” Jim shook his head. “You've done entirely too much damage today. I'm not having that conversation. Go home.”

Jim stood back from her car as she pulled out of the parking space, and waved as she drove away. The look on his face seemed to be one of hopeless acceptance, which wasn't exactly what she was going for, but at least she felt certain that he wasn't angry with her. She knew she'd been more than a little heavy-handed in having the nerve to just walk in like that, but in the end Larissa was happy that she did.

She spent the next few hours at home in silent contemplation, and was sincerely happy when Jonathan called to say he and Kathy wouldn't be arriving until hours later than expected. She couldn't get her conversation with Pam out of her head.
The one thing she did not expect Pam to be was so genuine. Pam was initially shy and nervous around Larissa when she first arrived, but once they'd settled down with their tea and her lunch the conversation flowed surprisingly well. Pam was clearly intelligent, and had a sharp sense of humor. In fact, in many ways Pam reminded Larissa of Jim.

This fact worried her a bit. She loved her son, but she was well aware of his faults, and his ability to avoid direct confrontation at all costs was one of them. How he managed to tell Pam he loved her in May was still somewhat of a mystery to her, and proof of how very much he must have loved her. Still loves her, she corrected herself. But the odds of him ever making a scene like that again were slim-to-none in her eyes. And if Pam were as much like Jim as she feared, she wondered how the two of them were ever going to find their way to each other. She hoped tomorrow would turn out to be a push in the right direction.


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