When he knocked, he was surprised that Della didn’t start barking. He knocked again and still heard nothing. He had just knocked a third time when Howie finally answered the door.
“Hey.” Nick said stepping into the hallway. “I came by to see Emma.”
“Well let us know if you find her.”
“Excuse me? Find her?”
“Yeah. Addie and I both tried to talk to her last night about the whole situation with you. She promised me she’d sleep on it and when we got up this morning, she was gone.”
“Gone? She moved out?” Nick yelled. This was not part of his plan.
“No Nick.” Addie answered as she came out from the kitchen. “She left a note saying she was going out with Della to think. I’m not sure where she went or when she’ll be back.”
“Is she coming back?”
Addie grinned. “Yes, she’s coming back. She just needs space to think.”
“Will you let me know as soon as she comes back?”
“Of course. Don’t sweat it. Sometimes she just needs time by herself.”
Nick nodded and headed back out to the truck. Where the hell did she go? He wracked his brain to try and figure out where she would go. Suddenly, a conversation they had came back to him; he had an idea where he might find her.
Emma had always liked Borderland State Park. It originally belonged to a wealthy man and his wife, but the state was able to retain the land after the woman’s passing. They had turned it into a public park and it had beautiful views of ponds as well as numerous walking trails. It was pretty quiet this time of year and she had found a spot next to the water where she could sit and think.
She was so lost in those thoughts that she never heard Nick come up behind her. He laid his hand on her shoulder and she jumped up. In the process of her turning around, she lost her balance and tripped on a rock. She would have come crashing down on some of the stones if Nick didn’t reach out to steady her.
“Are you trying to kill me?” she yelped.
Nick laughed for the first time that day. “No, I’m not.”
“I’m glad you think it’s funny.” Emma replied, brushing the dirt of her jeans. “Why are you here?”
“I went to Addie’s to talk to you and she said you left. I remember you said something about this place so I came hoping to find you.”
“How long have you been here?”
“An hour or so. You’re a hard person to find.”
Apparently not hard enough, Emma thought.
“I know why you like this place. It’s beautiful.”
Nick sat down on the ground next to Della, who hadn’t moved. He looked up at a surprised Emma and patted the piece of ground next to him. Not sure what was going on, she sat down next to him and waited for him to say something.
“I know I caught you off-guard last night when I mentioned us moving in to the same house.”
“Yes Ms. Sarcasm. I felt bad about pushing so hard and I wanted to apologize.”
“Apology accepted. So this means no more talking about moving in right?”
Nick shook his head. “Nope. I apologized for pushing so hard, not for asking. I still want you to think about it.”
“Did you, Howie and Addie make a pact or something?”
“Yeah. The three of you are tag teaming me. Why is it so important to everyone that I say yes?”
“Because we all know it’s a good idea.”
“Then the three of you are crazy.”
“Look, give me the top three reasons why you think it’s a bad idea.”
“I can’t afford it, it would cause a headache for you and I just don’t like the idea of this whole thing affecting your relationship with Lauren.”
“So you really just have two reasons then?” Nick said, ignoring the opportunity to address his new relationship status.
“I gave you three.”
“The last two are pretty much the same.”
Emma just shook her head.
“As far as not being able to afford it, I can buy the house myself.”
“But I can’t afford the mortgage.”
“No one said anything about a mortgage. Real estate’s a good investment. Howie tells me that all the time. Why not listen to him?”
“Oh so now you’re all about listening to Howie huh?”
“In this case, yes.”
“I can’t afford to give you half of the mortgage and I can’t live there for nothing.”
“Then I’ll make you a deal. I’ll pay the mortgage, the homeowner’s insurance and the taxes. You pay the monthly bills and we’ll split food.”
“But you’re still paying more than me.”
“I didn’t realize that this was a contest of who pays more. If I buy this house with or without you, I still have to pay all that stuff right? And I would have to pay the monthly bills too. You’d be saving me money.”
Emma laughed out loud. “You really have a way to spin things.”
“So is that a yes?”
“No. My reasons about Lauren still stand.”
“They don’t have to.”
“Yes they do.”
“No they don’t.” Nick paused. “Lauren called me last night to tell me we were taking a break.”
Emma sat there stunned. What was going through Lauren’s mind? Was she an idiot?
“Say something.” Nick said quietly. “I can’t stand the silence.”
“I’m so sorry Nick. That’s awful. I know how much you love her.”
“I guess that doesn’t matter.” Nick said shaking his head. “I’m done trying to reason with her. I need to do this for myself.”
“I totally understand.” Emma said and paused. “But I’m still not moving in with you.”
“Because you’re hurting and angry and…..”
“Will you stop doing that?”
“Dismissing me and telling me how I feel. I’m not a kid Emma, I know my reasons for doing things and I’m capable of making my own decisions.”
“I’m sorry Nick. I didn’t mean to do that.”
Nick sighed. “I know but please let me make my own choices. Whatever my reasons are, they’re mine and I’ll deal with them. If I choose to live in the same house as you, then that’s my decision. I’ll handle the issues.”
Emma closed her eyes and leaned back onto the ground. Nick made sense with what he was saying and she realized that he was an adult and could look out for himself. Before she could stop herself, she told him she would do it.
“I hope this isn’t a mistake Nick.”
“It won’t be.” He pulled her up off the ground and grabbed Della’s leash. “I promise you. It will be good for both of us.”
Emma had to bite her tongue to keep from saying what she was thinking. What if this whole thing was a mistake? What would the fallout be?