Checking her watch again, Pam let out a dissatisfied "hmph" - it was very clear that Roy would not be joining her for their pre-Christmas dinner date. She wasn't surprised, even though it had been his suggestion. Pam knew it was just his way to pacify her, as she'd been annoyed that he didn't want to bother finding a way to spend Christmas together... again - despite his promise last year (and the year before that, and the year before...) that "we'll be together next year babe". Pam had actually been impressed that he'd booked a table at a nice restaurant for them.
An hour and a glass of wine down, Pam finally admitted defeat and asked her waiter for the check. Once paid, she put her puffy beige winter coat back on and grabbed her black clutch bag. Another missed dinner out to add to her mental list. Heading to the exit with her head down to avoid the pity stares from the waiters, she startled as she bumped into someone at the hostess stand.
"Sorry, sorry," she mumbled, before looking up to avoid another collision. Her eyes went wide. "Jim!"
"Oh! Hey," Jim chuckled. "Sorry, there's... we're kinda blocking the way, sorry."
"No, it's okay, it's-" Pam looked around and took in the people around Jim. Definitely the Halpert clan; she could see the similarities between everyone even though she'd never met them. It was the crazy hustle-and-bustle of a family gathering she had always imagined but never experienced. She let out a laugh. "Wow, there's a lot of you."
"Yeah," Jim grimaced, "chaos when we're all together. You heading out?"
"Yeah, I-" Pam paused and cleared her throat, blushing slightly. Being stood up as an engaged woman wasn't a particularly fun thing to admit. "Uh, was just grabbing a drink."
Jim quickly looked Pam up and down, taking in the touch of make-up and the way she was ever so slightly more dressed up than usual. He knew the expression on her face well; Roy had disappointed her enough times for him to know what that face meant.
"Oh, well if you haven't eaten, you're free to join us. I'm sure an extra chair at the table won't hurt," Jim offered with a shrug.
Looking over at Jim's family chatting at the hostess station, Pam bit her lip. "I mean, I don't want to impose on a family gathering-"
"No, no, not at all!" Jim shook his head, quickly taking a few hop-steps back to his family. "Hey, uh, this is my friend Pam and she hasn't eaten yet - anyone mind if she joins us?"
"Oh goodness, of course! I'm Betsy," the eldest woman stepped forward, holding her hand out to Pam. "Jim's mom."
"Nice to meet you, Betsy," Pam shook her hand. It felt a little surreal to be standing here with Jim's mom, and Pam was suddenly grateful that she was using her right hand to shake hands.
Letting go, Betsy smiled and gestured around her at the group members respectively as she spoke. "This is my husband, Gerald; Larisa, our daughter; those two fooling around like children are Tom and Pete."
Pam waved at each in turn and gave Gerald a handshake, a little overwhelmed. "It's nice to meet you all," she said, then turned a little to Betsy. "Thank you so much for letting me join you."
"Please, don't worry about it," Betsy waved her comment off as the hostess approached them. Betsy quickly stepped over to the hostess as they began the walk to their table. "Could we add an extra seat at all? We can squish in if needed."
"Oh, sure, you have a booth so I will just add a seat to the end of the table."
"Welcome to the madness, Beesly," Jim said with a slight grin, stepping next to Pam as they followed Betsy and the hostess. They could hear Gerald telling Tom and Pete to behave themselves behind them.
As Pam laughed at his comment, she quickly glanced around her to check nobody was watching her. Subtly, she slipped off her engagement ring into her coat pocket. She had no idea if Jim had told his family about her or if they knew she was engaged; if they did and Jim or his family asked, she figured she could say her ring must have come off in her glove, oops. If they didn't... then she was just Pam. Not the Pam who had just been stood up by her fiancé and would most likely be waking up on Christmas Eve alone, with a festive text not from her fiancé but the man beside her.
By the time she got home, Pam had forgotten about her pocketed engagement ring until the following afternoon when she reached for her gloves, but only discovered years later that Larisa had seen her take the ring off in the first place.