The silence in the car was deafening. Haley was relaxed, sitting back in her seat, just waiting for the inevitable. Grant was sitting with his hands clenched so tightly around the steering wheel that his knuckles were his white. He hadn’t even insisted they turn on the music, which meant he wasn’t even in the moment. He was thinking so hard about what had just happened he hadn’t noticed the silence.
Haley waited until they were back in the familiar part of the city, close to his apartment, before saying, “Okay, spit it out.”
“Your friends told you not to date me,” He said through gritted teeth, “they said you’re making a mistake.”
“Yes. They told me that they’ve heard stories about you being an ass. They’ve told me that you used to be known for womanizing ways. They told me that they think you are too smug for your own good. And they told me that this relationship can only end in my heartbreak.” Haley recited the facts that her friends had given her only an hour before, following the shock of the announcement. Haley had been prepared for some blowback from her friends—after all she had stated that she hated Grant on more than one occasion before. But that was before she knew him. She had tried to prepare Grant for some of that blowback, but through the combination of not expecting as much arguing and not being able to properly explain to Grant what her friends were like—well, it had been a long and awkward night.
“Are you going to break up with me?” Grant asked, still tensed.
“What? No. No, I told them I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t just saving face.”
“But—I don’t understand. Why?” Grant’s hands relaxed on the steering wheel, and he slumped slightly. It occurred to Haley that he was actually scared of that, scared of the break up. That was strangely reassuring.
“They didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know, Grant. You yourself told me about the womanizing and what not. And we both know I’ve seen you be a smug ass. I considered all of that well before I agreed to any of this. They had to say their piece, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to them.” She reached over and put a hand on Grant’s knee, and he brought one hand down from the wheel to hold hers.
They were quiet until they pulled into the parking spot outside Grant’s apartment. Grant turned off the car but made no moves to get out or let go of Haley’s hand. She waited for his lead.
Grant took a deep breath and turned to face her in the car. Haley steeled herself for whatever was going to come out of his life. “I’m going to say this because I think it’s the right thing to say, and in my least selfish moments, I agree with it. But, I say it all with the hopes that you will ignore everything I say and stick with your plan to not break up with me. Okay?”
Haley laughed and relaxed in her seat. He wasn’t going to break up with her. At least for one day longer, this wasn’t going to end in her heartbreak. “Okay. I am listening.”
“I don’t want to come between you and your friends. I don’t want this relationship to end, and you to look back and hate me for whatever I did to make you dump me, but also to hate me for the fact that I came between you and your friends.”
Haley smiled and gave Grant’s hand a little squeeze. “I appreciate that. But this whole thing is twofold. From the side of my friends—every single one of the people who you met tonight has come to me for advice, and at one time or another, every single one of them have ignored my advice, which led to bad things on various levels of destruction. I didn’t turn my back on them then, and if they turn their backs on me now, then I don’t think they are the kind of people I want watching my back anyway. On your side, there are also two options—One: You are everything that they say you are, and I am in for a world of hurt when you decide to fuck me over. In that case, you don’t get to dictate whether or not I am mad at you for making me ignore my friend’s advice. You just get whatever is coming to you. Two: I’m right about you, and you just want a proper relationship, one that either will last or will end for a variety of reasons, some being your fault some being mine. If it just doesn’t work, then I won’t hold any of my own choices against you, and I hope that in the same vein you won’t hold any of your choices against me. Does that sound fair to you?”
Grant put his free hand under her chin, and leaned in for a kiss. “Perfectly fair.”