Two days into their trip, Emma invited Addie over for a girls’ night in. Turning on the TV, she flopped down on the couch and waited for her friend to get there. Knowing it wouldn’t take her long, Emma settled on TMZ to kill the time and started working on a list of gifts she wanted to get people. She was barely paying attention to the TV until Nick’s name was mentioned and she snapped to attention.
They were showing a picture of the two of them walking down the beach. She had no idea that someone had taken their picture and it felt like an invasion of privacy. As the segment continued, they showed another picture; this was of Nick with Lauren and the reporter discussing it said it was taken a day ago. He had his arms wrapped around her and was leaning in to kiss her on the cheek. Emma felt her heart sink and her eyes started to well up. She was so distracted that she didn’t hear Addie come in.
“What the hell is that?”
Emma turned around slowly and Addie could see the tears streaming down her face.
“I don’t know. I just turned it on.”
Addie stomped down to the living room, grabbed the remote control and hit the power button. As the TV faded to black, she sat down next to Emma and wrapped her arm around her friend’s shoulder.
“There has to be some explanation for this.”
“I hope so.” Emma said and excused herself.
As soon as she was out of earshot, Addie pulled out her cellphone and hit her speed dial. She waited a few seconds for Howie to pick up and went he did, the words just tumbled out.
“Turn on TMZ right now. Nick better have a really good reason for that picture!”
Nick and AJ were playing video games in the living room between the suites when Howie came marching in, turned off the game and flipped on TMZ.
“What the hell Howie?” AJ yelped. “I don’t want to……”
AJ stopped talking the minute he saw the two pictures side by side. Looking over at Nick, he listened to what they were reporting and watched as his friend’s jaw dropped.
“Where the hell did they get that picture?”
“Which one?” Howie asked.
“The one of me and Emma.”
“I’d be more concerned about that picture of you and Lauren.” AJ interrupted.
“They’re lying!” Nick yelled. “That picture was taken like two years ago at some party.”
“Are you sure?”
Nick turned to Howie and looked like he was about to hit him.
“Yes, I’m sure. I asked someone to take it for us. It’s was on my phone….”
“I’m guessing that means you don’t still have it.”
Nick shook his head. “I deleted any pictures of Lauren off my phone when Emma and I got together. I thought I was doing a good thing.”
“Do you remember who took it?”
“No, I have no idea. I just remember it because Lauren always liked that picture.” Nick shook his head and suddenly looked confused. “How’d you know about the show Howie?”
“Addie called and said Emma had it on when she got there.”
“Oh my God.” Nick said running his hands through his hair. “Did she see it?”
“I guess so.” Howie answered. “And Addie was really specific when she told me to remind you about moving to China.”
“I didn’t do anything.” Nick responded with anger. “This isn’t from the other day and I wouldn’t do that to her.”
AJ decided to intercede. “I’m sure she knows that Nick but you have to remember that she’s new to this. Every girl any of us have ever been with has had to go through this experience. This crap caused a whole bunch of headaches for me and it took its toll on a few relationships. You have to keep reminding yourself that you’re used to it and Emma’s not. Call her and explain it; I’m sure she’ll understand.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Emma was sitting on the couch talking with Addie when her cell phone rang. She saw Nick’s picture flash on and picked it up.
“Hey.” she answered quietly.
“I’m so sorry Em, I really am. Howie told me that you saw those pictures on TMZ.”
“Yeah, I caught them.”
“You have to know that I would never do that to you. That picture was taken two years ago at some party. I don’t remember who took it or I would have them call you.”
“They don’t need to.”
“It’s ok Nick.”
“It is?” he responded with surprise.
“Yeah. I got upset when I saw them and I have to admit that seeing you with Lauren bothered me. But I remembered what you said the other night about me needing to learn to deal with things because they might get worse.”
“You listened to me?” Nick asked, trying to lighten the mood.
Emma chuckled. “Yeah, but don’t expect it to happen very often.”
“I won’t.” Nick replied and he felt the tension sliding away. “So we’re ok?”
“We’re good. I trust you Nick and I know that you wouldn’t do that to me. It just caught me off-guard.”
“I’m sorry; I wish I could change what happened.”
“It’s not your fault. I just need to grow a thicker skin and try not to let things like this bother me.”
“I can’t wait till we get home.”
“You gonna be ok?”
“Yeah, Addie and I are throwing a huge keg party……”
“That’s me.” she replied with a laugh. “Go back to the guys and call me tomorrow ok?”
“Good. Have fun.”
“You too.” Nick replied and hung up.
AJ grinned. “So you and Feisty are good right?”
“I hope you know how lucky you are to have a woman like that.”
“Good because if you ever screw it up, I’ll kick your ass.”
“You’ll have to get behind Addie.”
“We’ll flip a coin to see who gets the pleasure!”
Nick grinned and handed AJ back his controller.