Hold On Tight
[Thirteen] You Make Me Nervous
What the fuck was she supposed to say to that?
She didn’t know what to expect when she agreed to dinner with Tyler. Had tried to picture how the evening would happen. She thought that they would make awkward small talk, he would say what he needed to in order to appease whatever guilt he was feeling, and then they would go their separate ways.
Her stomach twisted with the lie. At least that’s what she kept telling her on the cab ride to the restaurant. She didn’t want to allow herself to hope, because the last time she let herself she ended up crying in the back of a yellow cab as all her dreams came crashing around her.
She couldn’t help herself as she shook her head at him. No. No, no, no, no.
A warm hand grabbed hers. “That’s the first mistake I’m correcting, Haley. I didn’t tell you before, but I am now. And I know, I know you’re unsure and hesitant about us. I know you only agreed to be friends and I respect that. We’re friends, for as long as you need us to be, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to correct what I did wrong before in hopes for something more.”
“What do you want from me?” She whispered, her hand still gripped in his.
His lips tipped up in a small smile that made her heart skip a beat. “You. I just want you.”
She didn’t have a chance to respond before a plate of food was in front of her. Her hand felt cold when he let her go in order to make room for their plates. He didn’t say anything more, his attention on the dish of tortellini in front of him. How could he eat right now when she felt as if she could throw up?
They didn’t talk for the rest of the meal, the only sound coming from their forks as they scraped against the ceramic. The only interaction they had was through their eyes, which would meet every couple of seconds before skittering away. Haley tried to rack her brain for something to say to him – anything to say to him. Hell, she would even settle for small talk about the weather, if she could just freaking remember how it was outside before she entered the restaurant.
It wasn’t until they got to the curb in front of the building that she knew she had to say something before he took her silence as a harsh rejection.
Her cheeks burned as she looked down at her feet. Great, be even more awkward why don’t you. She sighed, not believing just how horrible she was at this.
She pushed her shoulders back and steeled herself before looking up at Tyler, who was just staring at her with a soft look on his face, almost as if he could tell what she was thinking. “Tonight was-“
“Would you take a walk with me?”
Haley wasn’t expecting the interruption. “I’m sorry?”
“Usually when the girl starts with 'tonight was’ it’s the end of the date.” She resisted the urge to remind him they weren’t on a date as she watched him shrug with a small smile playing on his lips. “I don’t want it to be the end of the date. Walk with me?”
He held his hand out to her and she could tell it meant more than an invitation to continue the night. It was an invitation to them and taking it would mean that they would really be doing this.
She tried not to second guess her decision as she took it and let him pull her down the street.
She also tried not to notice the way his brown eyes seemed to light up with the action.
They walked that way for a while, the silence between them heavy. There was so much to say but she couldn’t seem to find the words to say them. She took a deep breath, prepared herself for what was going to come next, and then just let everything else go.
She let go of the pain she still felt every time she thought of that night back in Boston. She let go of the regret, the loss. She let go of the anger. She let go of who they were before and let who they could drift into its place. The expectations, the broken promises, everything that she held onto so tightly before, she just let it go.
By the time they reached a small park, only a small bit of hesitation remained.
Tyler’s hand pulled from her abruptly and she immediately felt the loss of it, more so than when he pulled away in the restaurant. Before she could ask him what was wrong, a song started playing from his phone and he was holding his hand out again. “Dance with me.”
She stared at him in surprise. “You’re kidding me. What? Tyler, no.”
“Just listen.” He smiled at her, pulling her into his arms and rocking their bodies. She looked down at where he pulled their hands to his chest, noticing how clammy his palms felt in hers. She looked up when he let out an apologetic laugh. “Sorry. You make me nervous. Always have.”
Haley rested her head in his neck to hide her smile, which grew even bigger when she noticed him take in a shaky breath. She let herself relax into his arms, her stomach flipping as he wrapped an arm around her waist to bring her body closer to his. He still smelled the same.
There goes my heart beating
‘Cause you are the reason
I’m losing my sleep
Please come back now
And there goes my mind racing
And you are the reason
That I’m still breathing
I’m hopeless now
I’d climb every mountain and swim every ocean
Just to be with you and fix what I’ve broken
Oh, ‘cause I need you to see
That you are the reason
Tears filled her eyes as she listened to the words of the song. He had never done anything like this before, never being one to want to talk about or show his feelings. He was always too busy worried with how he would look for acting ‘like a girl’ to do things like this. But this, the dancing and the song – this was what she had always wanted from him. It made her decision all the more easy.
His grasp on her waist tightened as he looked down at her, shock coloring his expression as he heard the shortening of his name. She hadn’t called him that in a very long time.
Haley clutched his bicep to stop their movements. She gazed up at him, letting her eyes search his, looking for – there. She never thought she would see that look from him again, the one she would get after he kissed her, the one she saw when she woke up to find him just watching her. It told her what he had never said, what he called his worst mistake. Man, he was beautiful.
“Okay,” she whispered.
Haley shook the hand she still held, letting their intertwined fingers move between them. “I want – I want to get to know this Tyler. The one that takes his friend to watch me sing in a crowded bar. The one that spontaneously asks me to walk with him after dinner.” She smiled as she heard the beginning of the song start again. “The Tyler that brings the girl he’s trying to impress to a park so that he could subtly tell her how he feels through a song while he dances with her.” She lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “I never knew him. I feel like I missed out. The other one was kind of a jerk.”
He moved his hand from her waist in order to rub the back of his neck. “Yeah, he was. So, does this mean-“
She interrupted him when she saw hopeful expression pass across his face. “It means friends, Tyler.” She ignored the look of disappointment that settled on his features. “I have a lot that I need to fully get over and that’s going to take some time. A lot has happened since we were last together, and not all my scars have been caused by you.”
Tyler nodded his head, looking as if he was deep in thought. “I can still introduce you has my girlfriend, right?”
Haley rolled her eyes. “Did you not hear a word I just said? Friends.”
The smile he gave her made her want to slap him. “Oh, I heard you. You’re my girlfriend, but I’m not your boyfriend.”
“That doesn’t even make sense, Tyler.”
The smile dropped from his face as he grabbed her chin. The intense look in his gaze made her shiver. “I’m committed to you, Haley Anderson. Do whatever you need to do, but until you tell me it’s completely over and I’ve only been fooling myself, I’m here. I’m going to introduce you to my friends. You’re going to meet my mom and my little sisters, and we’re going to go on annoying double dates with Jamie and his girl and whatever other couples we know. I’m going to go to your shows, and I might even wear a shirt with your face on it because you are sure as hell wearing a jersey with my name and number on the back. I’m finally going to meet your parents, and I’ll try my hardest not to get punched in the face by your brother again.”
Haley’s heart slammed hard and fast in her chest. “My brother punched you?”
“I’m going to be the boyfriend you deserve. The one you deserved way back when, and the one you deserve now.” He ignored her, just continued to look down at her, a smirk growing on his face. “And we’re going to get it right this time, Hal. I promise you, I’m going to get it right this time.”
He pulled her back into his arms, then, and as the song played for the fourth time, she began to smile. They were going to get it right this time.
NotesSONG: You Are the Reason – Calum Scott
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