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“So what was that all about?” Addie asked.

Emma groaned and sank onto the sofa. “Where’s Howie?”

“Upstairs. I asked him to give me some time to talk to you.”

“I don’t need to talk Addie. I just need to let Della out and go to bed.”

“I already did that. She’s upstairs watching TV with Howie.”

There goes my way out of this little chat, Emma thought to herself.

“We’re gonna have this conversation whether you want to or not.”

“There’s nothing to discuss. I already told Nick that it was a bad idea and I’ve made my decision. Living with him is not gonna happen.”


“Why? Why? Are you as thickheaded as he is?”

“Hey, no need to insult me. Or Nick for that matter. Neither one of us is thickheaded.” Addie paused for a minute. “In fact, I think you’re the one being stupid.”

“Me?” Emma yelped and turned to face her friend. “I’m being stupid?”

“Yes and stubborn and inflexible. You know that you need what he’s offering.”

“I don’t need anything he’s offering.”

“Yes you do. You need to have your own place. I would let you stay here forever but I know you won’t be happy that way.”

Addie was right about that. Emma appreciated the support her friend was giving her but she didn’t want to keep living confined to one room and have all her stuff stuck in a storage locker.

“And you know you’re not gonna be able to find a decent place that’s gonna let you keep Della.”

Addie was right about that to. Emma would never give up Della, even if that meant she would have to live in her car. That dog was her baby and there was no way they weren’t going to stay together.

“I can see your mind racing. You know I’m right.”

Emma groaned. “Maybe about those things but not about everything. I can’t afford my half of the rent or any of the bills.”

“Talk to him about it. Maybe there is…..”

“No.” Emma responded firmly. “There is no solution for that. I’m not getting a raise anytime soon nor am I going to win the lottery.”

“So that’s your only reason?”

“No. There’s the fact that I do not want to get involved in Nick and Lauren’s relationship.”

“You’re only going to be living there…”

“Yes, living with a guy who already has a girlfriend. One who will probably kick my ass when she hears I’m living with her boyfriend. If Nick thinks they have problems now, this definitely won’t help any.”

“Lauren is not your problem Emma, she’s Nick’s. You’re not dating him, you’re just living there.”

“Again, I can’t afford it. I’m not gonna sit there and let Nick pay for everything. That would make me the biggest kind of leach. A leach he hasn’t even known very long!”

“Nick is offering, you’re not leaching.”

“No. No, no, no, no.”

“Why do you have to be so goddamn stubborn Emma?” Addie yelled harshly.

“Why are you being so pushy?” Emma yelled back.

Howie heard all the shouting and came downstairs. “What’s going on?”

“She’s being ridiculous!”

Both women shouted the same thing at the same time and Howie grinned. “What are both of you being ridiculous about?”

Addie jumped in first. “Emma won’t move in with Nick even though it makes sense!”

“And Addie won’t mind her business. This plan makes no sense.”

As much as Howie cared for his girlfriend, this whole conversation was going nowhere fast. He pulled her into the hallway and asked if he could speak to Emma alone.

“Maybe I can convince her.”

“Whatever.” Addie said frustrated. “Let me know how it works out for you.”

Howie waited until Addie was upstairs and then returned to the living room.

“Where’d Addie go?”

“Upstairs. I want to talk to you in private.”

“Please tell me you’re not gonna start too.”

“I just want you to listen. Will you do that?”

Emma nodded just to humor him. She had already made up her mind and he wasn’t going to change it.

“I heard all the reasons you gave Addie for not living with Nick. I get what you’re saying but I want to give you some reasons you should.”


“You said you’d listen.”

“Ok.” Emma sighed.

“I know that you’re concerned about paying for things and about how things would look to Lauren. You need to understand, though, Nick is a big boy. Don’t make decisions for him; let him do it for himself.”

“But what if his decision is a mistake?”

“He doesn’t seem to think it is if he asked you. Let him deal with Lauren. You’re looking for a place to stay and so is he. It works for both of you.”

“I can’t pay that much rent Howie.”

“So let him pay the rent……”

“I can’t do that!”

“I wasn’t finished. Let him pay the rent and you pick up some of the other stuff. We’ve all gone through times where we have to lean on others for help.”

“But I’m taking advantage of him.”

Howie smiled. “No you’re not. Do you know how many people have stuck out their hands for Nick’s money? He’d give anyone the shirt off his back and they know it. People have lived with him and paid nothing. I appreciate that you’re concerned about it but you’d be paying whatever you can. Plus you’d have to put up with all his crap being all over the house.”

Emma chuckled. “That bad huh?”


“I still don’t like getting in the middle of Nick’s relationship with Lauren.”

“You’re not. You two aren’t dating, you’re just living in the same place. Think about it. If you found a place and Nick decided to stay out here for a while, would you two still hang out?”

“Of course. I like being around him.”

“Wouldn’t that mean spending time at each other’s places?”

“Yeah but…”

“No buts. If you’re gonna spend time at each other’s places, you might as well have the same place.”

Emma thought about what he said. Howie had a point when he said they’d be hanging out a lot. She just didn’t know what to do.

“I can see those wheels turning. I think you should give it a try Emma. If it doesn’t work for whatever reason, then you move back here with Addie until you find a place.”

“Let me sleep on it ok?”

Howie nodded and stood up. “Promise me you’ll give it serious consideration.”

“I will, I swear.” Emma replied with her fingers crossed behind her back.

Howie left her sitting in the living room. She knew some of what they had said would make sense but there was no way on this planet that she was going to live with Nick while he was dating Lauren. It just wasn’t gonna happen.