This was 1988. The car was silent, and it was late. They’d left her little apartment in Chattanooga, Tennessee, an hour before, much too late to avoid the awful holiday traffic. It wasn’t until somewhere around New Hope that Rose ventured a question.

“Does your family have a dog?”

David shifted as if coming out of a light sleep. “Not since Cody,” he said. “She’d slobber all over you. She was hit by a car way back when I was in high school, though.”

“I’m sorry,” Rose said, remembering now that he’d told her this before, maybe when they first met. “Is your father—what’s he like? Is he nice?” She’d met him once before, but only briefly.

“Yeah,” he said, after a pause. He was looking out the window at the gray strip malls, floodlighting the swaths of dripping kudzu—pretty, Rose called it—and tapping his fingers against the door of the car. “He’ll like you. I know I talk about arguing with him all the time, but he’s not actually scary.”

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