Restless, she paced the apartment. Remembering the news vans that had been parked outside the hospital, she called her mother, who answered on the first ring. “Larissa? I heard about what happened at the hospital on the news. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Mom. Perfectly fine.” She winced, realizing she should have called her mother sooner. “How are you doing? How are things with Ed?”
“Ed’s fine, he’s always good to me, Larissa. You’re the one I’m worried about.”
She stared out the front window for a long moment. “Mom, I have a question for you. Have you forgiven George for everything he’s done?”
“Of course I have,” her mother responded. “In fact, I feel sorry for him.”
She nearly choked at that. “Feel sorry for him? Why?”
“Because he’ll never have true love the way you and I will. He’ll never know God’s love either. I pray for his soul every day.”
Humbled, Larissa thought her mother was far smarter than she’d ever given her credit for. “You’re right, Mom,” she said. “George deserves our prayers.”
And so did Kurt. Maybe if she kept thinking about it from her mother’s perspective, she could really find a way to forgive them both.
Larissa was dressed and ready to go well before six, so she didn’t mind when Gabe showed up ten minutes early.
“Larissa, you look absolutely beautiful.”
She reached up to give him a quick hug. “You don’t look half bad, yourself.”
He looked surprised yet pleased at her warm embrace. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then held the door open for her. “After you.”
He drove to a very nice restaurant that was perched high on a hill overlooking the lake. As fancy as the place was, she decided she preferred the meal they’d shared on his deck.
“I bet their steaks aren’t nearly as good as yours,” she said in a low tone.
He grinned. “But their lobster is amazing.”
“I still like dining on your deck better,” she insisted, leaning back to peruse the menu. The lobster was listed as market value so she skipped that one, looking for something more reasonable.
“Have whatever you like,” he said as if reading her mind. “After last night, we deserve to splurge.”
She didn’t want him to think she was anything like Rebecca, so she settled on a more reasonable shrimp dish.
After the server took their order, Gabe reached across the table to take her hand. “You look happier tonight than you did this afternoon.”
She couldn’t deny the truth. “I am happy.”
“So you must have heard that Annie is still in the ICU but her vitals are stable.”
“No, I hadn’t heard, but I’m glad to hear she’s hanging on.” She took a sip of water. “And how’s Kurt doing?”
“He survived, too, and is listed as critical but stable in the ICU.”
She was surprised by the lack of resentment she felt about that news. “Actually, I talked to my mother, and she made me look at men like Kurt and George differently.”
“Oh yeah? How?”
She repeated what her mother had told her. “I think I can see now why God asks us to forgive our enemies. Because He knows that we have His love and they don’t. And really, what more could we ask for?”
“You’re a very special lady, Larissa,” Gabe said, his hand tightening around hers. “I’m lucky to have found you.”
She couldn’t deny what was in her heart. “I think you’re pretty great yourself, Gabe.”
A wide grin split his face, and he stood and came around the table, drawing her up to her feet. “Does this mean we’re officially dating, Ms. Brockman?” he asked in a teasing tone, sliding his arms around her waist.
“I believe it does, Dr. Allen,” she agreed, reaching up to wind her arms around his neck.
The playfulness vanished as he stared deeply into her eyes. “I love you, Larissa.”
Her heart swelled to the point she feared it might burst with joy. “I love you, too.”
When he kissed her, the entire restaurant burst into applause, and she found she didn’t mind one bit.