“I boiled the kettle a little while ago, but you might need to boil it again,” I say, purposely ignoring his shock.
“Right…” Grant says slowly. His eyes narrow. “You’re still here.”
“Is that a problem?” I ask calmly, sipping my coffee.
Will he kick me out? I suppose I can’t blame him if he does. He has every right to ask me to leave. But is it better or worse that he gets the chance to do that?
“I…” Grant falters. He’s still confused. He reaches out and turns the kettle on. “No. Maybe?” He shakes his head. “I expected you to be gone.”
My heart aches. He’s making an effort to be indifferent, but I can hear the catch in his voice. I remember his confession from the night before, about bringing me flowers to attempt to salvage our relationship, only to find that I had disappeared with everything that belonged to me.
“Is it okay that I’m still here?” I ask quietly.
He has the right to make the decision on whether I can stay or whether I should leave. It might be worse for me if he decides to kick me out, but maybe he needs that. Before, I made all the decisions about when I left. Now it’s his turn to decide.
For a moment, I think he might actually go through with it. His eyes narrow and he opens his mouth. As quick as the almost vindictive expression crosses his face, however, it disappears and he sighs.
“It’s fine,” he tells me.
Part of him wanted me gone, I know. It’s that same part of him that wants me to finally leave him alone, before I hurt him any further. But, for whatever reason, he isn’t kicking me out, and I’m going to take some advantage of that.
He makes his coffee and then hesitates before joining me on the couch. He turns the television on. There’s a news program on, and the volume is still soft after we turned it down last night. Grant makes no move to turn it back up; he just wants the background noise.
Now is the perfect opportunity to say something to him. I open my mouth, but the words catch in my throat.
“Don’t you have work?” I ask instead, kicking myself for my cowardice.
“Called in sick,” Grant grunts.
He called in before he realized that I was still here. That revelation just makes me feel worse. He was going to take the day off to nurse the wounds I had no doubt left on him yet again.
Instead, however, I’m still here. I wonder if my presence is soothing him at least a little, if me staying is finally starting to fill in the deep hole I ripped in him three years ago.
“What do we do now?” Grant finally asks.
I stare at him. I hadn’t expected him to open the conversation about this, especially with how insistent he was that he never talk about it again the other day. Maybe me staying has done some good after all?
“I don’t know,” I confess. I wrinkle my nose. “I feel like a horny teenager that can’t keep her hands to herself.”
Grant snorts. I remember how pleased I had felt last night when I made him laugh. Part of me aches to do it again.
“We’re too old to be horny teenagers,” he sighs.
“Apparently not too old to jump each other every time we’re alone,” I say to him.
A shadow of a smile slips onto his lips.
“At least we can control ourselves when others are in the room,” he says. “Maybe we should ask Allison or Kyle or that Hazel you were telling me about, to chaperone.”
“Oh good,” I groan. “That just brings back memories of my father. Remember when he insisted on going on dates with us when we first started seeing each other? It took mom following him one night and literally dragging him back by his ear before he would leave us alone.”
Grant rolls his eyes. “I never really got why he hated me.”
“Because you were a bartender?” I guessed. “You can look a bit rough, too.”
“I think it’s more likely about the motorbike,” Grant counters, rolling his eyes. “The old man was never too good with things that were different. Then when I joined the Roughshod Rollers…”
I wince at the memory. Grant joined the Roughshod Rollers while we were still together. My father had almost had an aneurism when he found out. It was his sincerest effort to break us up to date. But our bond was too strong for him to get between us, and he eventually subsided into a grumble and came to accept it.