Polly avoided Nathaniel and I for the rest of the evening. After dinner, Nathaniel and his family were supposed to give a tour which mean I had to tag along. I held his hand but only reluctantly. I was too distracted to focus on what they were saying, though. I couldn't believe what his parents said to the media.
Shit, shit, shit.
Finally, the end of the evening came and we cornered Polly. She looked incredibly nervous.
"Fix it," we said in unison.
"I didn't think they'd ask!" she repeated. "I swear! I mean, it's not my fault you guys put on a good act!"
"Fuck," I spat. "Take me home, Nathaniel."
He glared. "You can't boss me around."
I glared back and he flinched a little. "Take me home." I turned to Polly. "I want my check soon."
I stormed to his car and slammed the door shut. Ignoring his protests, I plugged my phone in again and opened Pandora. I glared out the window, seething with anger.
"Just take the damn Interstate," I snapped when he got onto the backroads. "It'll take longer on the backroads!"
"Why don't you just shut up?" he snapped back. "You're not the only one upset by this."
"Oh please," I laughed. "What do you lose out on? A few girls?"
"Then what are you losing out on?" he demanded. "Now your dad won't think you're a lesbian anymore."
I clenched my hands into fists. "It's none of your business, Banker. I just want to go home and never see your face again."
"Well that's too bad because, now that everyone thinks we're dating, we'll have to!"
"Polly's going to fix it," I argued.
Suddenly, he pulled to the side, turning his car off, and turned to face me. He was glaring at me and I matched it.
"No she's not," he said. "You know that. Don't fool yourself. There's nothing she can do even if she tried. She gave up taking over the business for touring with her fag musician boyfriend. Now you better tell me why this is such a big deal for you."
I shook my head and glared out the window. "You're dense, Banker. Did it ever occur to you that I might have a boyfriend?"
He stared at me in shock. "What!? Then why the hell did you agree to come with me?"
"Because no one is supposed to know he and I are dating!" I yelled, trying not to cry. "Now that's over!"
"Who is it?"
"Why do you care?"
"Well, we can explain to him it's not what they're saying it is."
"We can't," I whispered. "He's going to believe it one way or the other?"
"Who is it?" he repeated.
I shut my eyes and sighed. "Brandon Charles."
"Holy. Shit," he sighed. "God. You should have fucking said something!"
"If my dad found out he'd flip his lid! I'd be- Oh no," I groaned.
Brandon was calling me. I hesitated. If I didn't answer, he would definitely think something's up but how would I explain it to him?
"Hey babe," I whispered.
"Tell me it isn't true," he said.
"I swear it's not," I said quickly. "His sister wanted me to go! She's paying me the $3,000 you need!"
I tried to ignore the look on Nathaniel's face.
"Why didn't you tell me you were going!?"
"Because you would have stopped me, Brandon," I said. "You need that money."
"Are you serious? You did that for money?"
I fiddled with the zipper on my purse, wishing Nathaniel wasn't in the car.
"Well... you said you were going to buy the ring," I said in a small voice and Nathaniel shook his head.
"I wasn't really going to, Willow!" I nearly dropped my phone. "Jesus. This is a mess. You should have told me you were going."
"And you should have told me you changed your mind," I snapped. "Why?"
He was quiet for a minute. "I'm in debt, Willow," he said finally. "I'm in debt bad. My paintings haven't been selling and-"
I began to cry. "You're cheating on me, aren't you?"
Nathaniel swore quietly and I gulped. Brandon didn't answer for a long time.
"How'd you know?" he whispered.
"I know your paintings are selling because I was the one who answered your manager's phone call, remember?"
"Look, your father doesn't like me and it's putting a strain on our relationship. Don't deny it."
"How long?" I demanded.
He hesitated again. "Six months," he said and I closed my eyes painfully.
"You should have just broken up with me," I whispered.
"But I don't want to. I do love you! It's just-"
"Don't pull that shit on me!" I said, starting to get angry again. "You needed someone to fund your other girl, didn't you? That's who you're really buying the ring for!" I pounded on the arm rest built into the door. "You bastard! Lose my number."
I hung up and ignored it when he tried to call me back. Nathaniel and I sat in silence. I shut my eyes tightly, gripping my hands into fists. The air was tense and I felt Nathaniel put something on my knee.
"Tissues," he muttered.
"Just take me home, please," I said.
"I'm sorry he-"
"Take me home, Banker!" I yelled and he glared but turned the car back on.
I put my head on the headrest and tried not to cry more. Not in front of Nathaniel. My phone kept ringing until he stopped and sent me a text.
Don't ignore me. Please. Let's talk this out. I love you.
More like you love my money.
I rolled the window down. Nathaniel frowned as I unbuckled my seatbelt.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Call me again," I snarled at my phone. "Go ahead you bastard. Call me again. I dare you."
He did and I leaned out the window. Waiting for the right moment, I threw it with as much force as I could at the ground. I watched as it shattered and Nathaniel's car tires ran over the remains.