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Nick met Howie for lunch a few days later. He wanted to talk about the albums and the upcoming party.

“Addie told me about it the other day. I was going to ask you about it but I haven’t seen you.”

“That’s alright. What are you going as?”

“I was thinking Miami Vice. We could both do it.”

“I can hear J right now.”

“We don’t have to tell him.”

“We’re NOT going to tell him. We would never live it down. We’re keeping this to ourselves.”

“Agreed.” Howie said and opened his menu. Changing the subject, he asked if Nick had seen Emma lately.

“I did on Staurday. We went apple picking and for a hayride.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“Most of it was.”

“Most of it?”

Nick told Howie the whole story of what had happened with the chainsaw and about going back to her house to carve the pumpkins.

“That’s crazy! She’s lucky you were there.”

“I’m glad I was. She told me she does this stuff every year by herself. What if that happened while she was on her own?”

“It seems like she’s always on her own.”

“What’s that mean?”

Howie sighed. He wasn’t into gossiping but Addie had told him all about Emma’s boyfriend. Nick might as well know too.

“Her boyfriend isn’t exactly the best.”

“I know.”

Howie looked stunned. “What do you mean you know?”

“I picked her up to go to the Cape and when she told him she was leaving, he acted like he couldn’t be bothered. He doesn’t even know when she’s around.”

“Addie said that too. I guess he’s a decent guy just a sucky boyfriend.”

“He wins the award for worst boyfriend. So far, every time I’ve been to her house, it’s something new. He leaves without telling her, hangs a note on the door like she’s a roommate and he doesn’t seem to care.”

“Addie told me that it bothers Emma a lot but she’s gotten good at hiding it.”

“She’s right. Every time I bring it up, she tells me she used to it and changes the subject.”

“What did you say to that?”

“That she shouldn’t get used to it. I wish she could see that he should make her a priority. She deserves it.”

“So do you.” Howie added without thinking.

“What’d you mean by that?” Nick asked angrily.

“You’re giving all this advice to Emma but you should listen to yourself. I hate to say this but you deserve to be someone’s priority too and right now, you’re not.”

Nick stood up and threw his napkin down onto the table. “I’m done. Thanks for lunch.”

He stormed out of the restaurant. When he got to the sidewalk, he pulled his cellphone out and called Lauren. He’d prove Howie wrong. The phone rang five times before Lauren picked up.

“Hey babe.”

“I can’t talk right now Nick. Can I call you back?”

Nick couldn’t even think of what to say. Lauren must have assumed they had a bad connection and hung up without letting him answer. He leaned against the wall of the restaurant and shoved his phone into his pocket. Howie, who had been watching the whole thing, came out a minute later.

“Want to go costume shopping?” he asked quietly.

Nick nodded and followed his best friend down the street. He hated himself for giving D a hard time and it was becoming quite apparent that he was right.


Nick got back to the hotel and hung his costume in his closet. He pulled out his phone and saw the voicemail icon flashing. Good, he thought to himself. Lauren must have realized she was wrong and called to apologize. His smile faded once the message started; it was the producer calling to schedule another lunch with him. He finished listening to the message, flopped down on the bed and stared at his phone. After a few minutes, he opened up the phone and dialed what was becoming a familiar number.


“Hey.” Emma said opening her door.

“Hey.” Nick responded. “Thanks for letting me come by.”

“No problem. You sounded kind of down.”

“You could say that.”

He followed her down to the kitchen and realized that she had been in the middle of making dinner.

“If this is a bad time……”

Emma smiled and pointed to a chair. “Park your butt buddy. You called for a reason and you’re not getting out of it that easy.”

Nick sat in the chair she pointed at and stared at her.

“Good. Now tell me what happened.”

Nick went through the whole lunch thing, leaving out what he had said about her. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable knowing he and D had been discussing her.

“That’s wrong Nick. She shouldn’t be treating you like that.” Emma brought bowls and bread over to the table and then made a return trip with the soup she’d been making. “You want to be around her and she shouldn’t pass up that opportunity.”

“Thanks Em. I just wish she felt the same way.”

“It really sucks that she doesn’t understand how lucky she is. She obviously means the world to you. You should be her world in return.”

Nick didn’t say anything for a few minutes. He wanted to talk about him and Lauren but Emma’s relationship seemed so similar.

“Can I ask you something?”


“You have issues with Jessie never being around right?”


“How come you don’t seem bothered by what he does?”

She put her spoon down and thought for a few minutes about what he said. “It’s different for me Nick. I’m used to this.”

“Why are you used to it?”

“Because I am.” Emma replied. “It doesn’t bother me anymore.”

Nick couldn’t stop what he said next.

“I don’t believe you. I think you just say that so you can keep lying to yourself.”

Emma looked into Nick’s eyes and he knew he had crossed some kind of line.

“I think you should go back to the hotel Nick.”

She stood up and walked down to the front door. He knew that there was no way to come back from what he said, so he got up and followed her. He stepped outside and turned to say something but she had already closed the door. Terrific Carter, he thought, you’ve managed to alienate everyone around you all in one day. That has to be some kind of record. He climbed into his truck and headed back to the hotel.