The following afternoon, Johnny came out of the shower to find Katerina playing her violin. He didn’t want to interrupt her, so he just stood and listened to her play. Finally she smiled at him and said, “Okay, let’s go.”
As they drove, Johnny asked her, “Should we have some kind of code word that I can use to let you know we need to leave—like, if it starts to go bad?”
“It’ll go fine!” she promised him. After a few minutes, she said, “This is it.”
Johnny stopped the truck and looked at the place. “Wow, they have a big space rock in the front yard.”
Katerina laughed and took him by the hand. She stopped near the door and gave him a quick hug. “Are you ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” he assured her.
Katerina led him into the house and to the kitchen, where Mikhail was standing around looking completely bored out of his mind.
“Hi Mikhail, where’s Mom and Dad?” she asked.
“Mom’s painting and Dad’s in the shower,” her brother replied.
She quickly introduced Johnny and Mikhail to each other. Mikhail said to Johnny, “I like your name. It sounds like some kind of rock star name or something.”
Johnny laughed a little nervously and said, “No, Katerina’s the rock star.” Mikhail just stared at him with that perpetually bored look.
Svetlana came downstairs and joined them. “It’s nice to see you again, Johnny,” she said sweetly.
“Johnny and I are living together now, Mom,” Katerina announced.
Johnny braced himself and expected Svetlana to say something unpleasant, but instead she said, “I suppose that means we’ll see a lot more of you then?”
“I guess so,” he replied timidly.
“I’m sorry for the way I reacted when I first met you,” she said. “I blame my husband and his annoying mid-life crisis, which is finally over.”
Johnny wasn’t able to tell that she was joking, so the awkward feeling lingered. “Uhm, I brought some nectar to go with dinner,” he said.
“Oh please pour some,” Svetlana asked him. “I think we could use a drink.”
Johnny served the nectar and the adults each grabbed a glass and sat down at the table. Katerina’s brothers were the only ones who felt like eating, and they were also completely ignored for the rest of the evening.
“Katerina and Johnny are living together now,” Svetlana told Griffin.
Griffin quietly drank his nectar, then told Johnny, “I wont put up with you breaking my daughter’s heart again.”
“I didn’t mean to upset Katerina at all,” Johnny told her father.
Svetlana interrupted the conversation and asked, “Where did you go to school, Johnny?”
“I went to high school in Bridgeport, but I didn’t go to university.”
“So you have no education,” Griffin pointed out. “Have you ever been in prison?”
“No. I’ve never been in any trouble with the law ever,” Johnny answered.
“Does that mean they just haven’t caught you for anything yet?” Griffin questioned.
“Dad!” Katerina gasped.
“You stay out of this,” he told her. “If you’d asked him any hard questions, we wouldn’t have to.”
“It’s okay,” Johnny said to Katerina, then turned to her father and said, “No, I haven’t gotten away with any crimes, and I have no bodies stashed up by the lake either.”
Finally Griffin laughed and quit asking questions. They enjoyed a more relaxed conversation for a little while.
“I guess we should get going home now,” Katerina said after her brothers cleared their plates and left the room.
“Come to our next bonfire party,” Svetlana suggested as they all stood up from the table.
When they got outside, Katerina asked Johnny, “Are you all right?”
“Yeah, but you seriously owe me for that!” he answered with a laugh.