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“So there was this kid in Emma’s class that was really hyper and he kept doing impulsive things.”

“Kind of like you Nicky.” Howie interrupted.

Emma and Addie had been telling them funny stories from work and Addie had just started one that she promised they could appreciate.

“Anyway, like I was saying, he was really impulsive. He was sitting by himself at a horseshoe table because he got “voted off the island” as Emma put it. Well instead of walking around the table to get something, he decided to take a swan dive over it.”

Emma just sighed and shook her head. “It was bad.”

“What happened?” Nick asked.

“The kid went sailing over it and landed on top of it, breaking one of the legs off and knocking the whole thing to the floor.”

“Ouch!” Howie cried. “Was the kid ok?”

“He was.” Emma replied. “He thought it was hysterical but my poor table was in pieces. I wasn’t even sure what I should say……”

“I would have kicked him out,” Addie interjected, “but this one just put him in a new seat and fixed the table.”

“What could I do?” Emma said. “He didn’t mean too.”

Nick laughed and kissed Emma on the head. “That’s one of the reasons I love you.”

He felt Emma become rigid under his arm and he knew that he should have put that a different way. Emma excused herself from the table and headed down to the bathroom.

“I screwed up again, didn’t I?” Nick asked Addie.

“No, trust me, if you screwed up, I’d tell you!” Addie said without a smile. “I think she’s just really sensitive right now. She cares a lot about you and she’s scared of getting hurt. She told me earlier that she kind of freaked about the girlfriend/boyfriend thing.”

“Yeah she did. I should have backed off and not forced her to say it.”

“No, I think you did the right thing. She’s got to find a way to deal with her trust issues.” Addie said bluntly. “I pretty much told her that in the kitchen.”

Howie and Nick just sat there with their mouths open.

“Don’t act so surprised. I don’t beat around the bush. She had a crap relationship with Jessie and she got burned. I don’t want her to close herself off from being happy so you have my permission to force her a bit Mr. Carter.”

“Thank you for giving me permission.”

“You’re welcome.” Addie said with a serious face. “But just remember what I said the other night. You hurt her and you’d better move to a foreign country because I will kick your ass.”

Nick looked shocked by what Addie had said and she gave him a look that said she meant every word.

“I promise not to hurt her.”

“Good.” Addie said standing up. “I think we should probably head out so you can talk to Em.”

Nick walked his guests to the door and thanked them for coming over. He also reassured Addie that he would go out of his way to protect Emma. She seemed to be ok with what he said and told him that he should check on his girlfriend. As soon as they left, Nick turned and walked down to the bathroom.

“Em? You ok?”

“I’m fine. I’ll be out in a minute.”


Nick walked back towards the living room and thumped down on the couch to wait for her. It took her a few minutes but she finally emerged and made her way back towards him.

"Where did Addie and Howie go?”

“They left.” Nick answered and pointed to the couch next to him. “I think we need to talk.”

Emma hung her head and took a deep breath. She sat down and turned her face away from him.

“I would appreciate it if you’d at least look at me.”

Emma slowly turned her head so that she was looking in Nick’s eyes. He tugged her over to him and onto his lap. Draping one arm over her legs and the other around her back, he looked in her eyes and started to speak.

“I’m sorry for what I said at dinner and for what I said earlier. I don’t mean to push you so hard. I understand where you’re coming from and I don’t want to get hurt either.”

Emma felt badly when he said that. She was so focused on not getting hurt that she hadn’t realized that he might be feeling the same way.

“We’ve known each other for months and spent a lot of time together Em. I feel like I can trust you and I want you to be able to trust me. This whole thing between us isn’t going to work unless we cut each other some slack and we find a way to move past what other people have done to us. I’m not Jessie and you’re not Lauren.”

“I know and I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want you to apologize. I just want both of us to be able to move forward and focus less on who’s hurt us and more on what we have between us. I promise not to make you say boyfriend and I’ll watch how I put things.”

“You shouldn’t have to do that Nick. If we’re going to be in a relationship then I need to stop taking everything to heart and being scared about calling you my boyfriend. I mean hell, we live together.”

Nick laughed and it caused Emma to smile.

“We’ve already moved in together so we might as well have the official titles.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that.” Nick said and kissed her gently. “I won’t put any more pressure on you.”

“And I will open myself up more and try to put all the hurt feelings in the past.”

“I think that sounds like a pretty good compromise.”

Nick picked her up and set her next to him. She was surprised by his actions but didn’t say anything. He leaned down to kiss her and asked for five minutes. Nodding, she watched as he headed down to their bedrooms and waited the five minutes he asked. As soon as she hit the hallway, she could smell the candle he had lit and it made her smile. She pushed the bedroom door open and walked inside.

Nick was sitting in the middle of the bed with his arms open. She surprised him by pushing him onto the bed instead of sitting down with him. Kissing him with as much force as she could, she unbuttoned his shirt and peeled it off. It was Nick’s turn to groan and Emma smiled when she heard the noise.

“I think it’s time for me to take charge and show you how much I want to be with you.”

“I’m looking forward to it.” Nick said with a sexy grin and reached up with his hand to pull her face down to his.