Palmer anticipated that he and Zalika would have a difficult conversation, but that ultimately Zalika would say that she wanted for them to be together, no matter what, and Palmer felt the same way. So Palmer had decided that he would propose at that moment. He slipped out of the office a little early one day and visited a local jeweler to pick out just the right engagement ring. He hadn't been there long when he saw William entering the store. He muttered "Damn" under his breath.
William was one of Palmer's top political advisers, known as a brilliant political strategist. William's experience, connections, and analytical skills had proven beneficial to Palmer time and time again. Palmer had felt fortunate when William had taken an interest in his career early on. One thing that William is not known for is his subtlety, and Palmer appreciated that as well. When others would offer a breath mint, William would flat out say "Your breath stinks." In his position, Palmer was surrounded by "yes" men and women, and he appreciated having someone who could bluntly say what others wouldn't. Which is why he did not want to see William at this particular moment.
As William approached, Palmer asked "How did you know that I was here?" William said "Do you really even need to ask?" Palmer told William that he was not interested in what he had to say. William told Palmer that the reason is because he knows that William is there to tell him the truth.
William: You're making a big mistake.
Palmer: I don't think so.
William: You know that they will rip her to shreds.
Palmer: They can try it. I will defend her to my last breath.
William: I know that you will, and that will make you vulnerable. Has she told you about...
Palmer: It hasn't come up.
William: So she hasn't told you?
Palmer: It's not as if she's hiding it, it just hasn't come up.
William: If she hasn't told you, then she's hiding it.
Palmer thought back to when he and Zalika had met and started dating. He did not order the background check on her, but he knew that his people would run one on Zalika, because that's what they do. It was William who had told him the findings. Palmer didn't hear anything that had changed his feelings for Zalika, and he never told her about the background check.
William: Look, she's a lovely woman. Smart, charming, successful, funny as hell. I know what she means to you. Under normal circumstances, I would say that she is perfect for you. But YOU are on track to become the PRESIDENT! These are not normal circumstances!Palmer explained to William that he understood that William's preference would be for him to meet a woman with a particular pedigree, particularly one with political affiliations that could benefit Palmer. Palmer reminded William that he had dated women like this before meeting Zalika, and had been bored by them. Meeting Zalika and making a connection with her had been the most wonderful surprise of his life. She excited him, understood him, comforted him, made him laugh, and so much more. She was his partner, and he felt that he could face anything with her by his side. Palmer said when he's elected as President, the job will be for 8 years maximum. Palmer said that he will have a lot more life to live after that, and wants that life to be a happy one. Zalika makes him happy.
William asked Palmer if he remembered when their associate Sutton had said that Zalika was a bit manly. Palmer immediately frowned and tensed up and said "He was WAY OUT OF LINE with that comment!" William said "You wanted to punch him in the face right then and there, didn't you?" Palmer said "HELL YEAH I wanted to punch him in the face!"
William said "See, this is what I'm talking about. Think of how you're feeling right now, and multiply those feelings by 1,000. They are going to say things about her that are so much worse than what Sutton said. They want to distract you and make you vulnerable to your emotions. And when you defend her, they will attack you and use your own words against you."
Palmer turned his attention to the salesperson, who droned on and on about the cut, color, clarity, and carat weight of the ring that Palmer had asked to see. Palmer purchased the ring. William shook his head..
William: You need to let her know what she's in for.
Palmer: She knows.
William: Does she? Does she REALLY know? Or have you been sugar-coating things because you don't want her to be hurt? Do you want ME to talk to her?
Palmer: Oh, no!
William: You need to be frank with her. Be brutally honest. Right now she probably has romantic notions in her head about how wonderful it will be when you're both living in the White House and how you'll live happily ever after. You need to let her know that there are wolves out there who will relentless seek to destroy you both at every turn. Can you do that?
Palmer: Of course.
William: I know you, and I know that you want to protect her more than anything, and shield her from pain. Being with you is going to HURT, and the only way that you can protect her from that is to let her go.