“Merry Christmas sleepyhead!” Addie shouted and gave her friend a hug. “Nice of you to join us!”
“How long have you guys been up?” she asked.
“Since early.” Howie replied. “We woke up to someone banging every pot and pan in your house.”
“I was not banging every pan! Della needed to go out and I decided to make breakfast.”
“Awwww.” Emma turned and kissed Nick. “That was so sweet of you.”
“I think he really thought that if you were up, you’d have to give him your present.”
Emma grinned. “Nope. We eat, open presents and then you get your gift.”
Nick’s eyes bulged. “I really want it!”
Emma laughed and tugged on Nick’s arm. “Alright, alright. Come with me before you give yourself a coronary.”
“We’ll stay here and finish breakfast. We already know what you’re getting.” Howie yelled after the retreating couple.
“That’s was mean Howie.”
“What? He would have said the same thing to me.”
“You guys are like two year olds.”
“I know, that’s another reason why you guys love us.”
“That is true.” Addie replied and kissed him lightly. “I wish those two weren’t so petrified to admit that to each other.”
“They’ll get there.”
“I hope soon.”
“Me too.” Howie turned and added eggs to the frying pan. “I can’t wait to see Nick’s reaction to his present.”
“I really hope he likes it. Emma put a lot of time and work into it.”
“I know. Did she put in our gift?”
“Yup, she added it yesterday.”
“She wanted me to thank you again.”
“No problem, we had to get him something anyway and it helps her out.”
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he loves it.”
“Trust me, he will.”
Emma made sure the bandanna was covering Nick’s eyes before she led him outside.
“Where are we going?” Nick asked. “It’s freezing out here.”
“Just a little bit further.”
She stopped and told him to wait a minute as she tried to find the key to the shed that took up a good amount of space in their backyard. It wasn’t one of those plastic ones but a large, wooden structure with several windows that faced the ocean. They hadn’t used it for anything and Emma thought it was the perfect place. Finally getting the door unlocked, she pulled Nick in and told him to take his blindfold off. He blinked several times and when he realized what he was looking at, he gasped.
Emma had painted the entire inside of the shed with shades of white and light blues. The windows were covered with curtains and there was a couch pushed over to one side. Nick turned to face the other side and was amazed at what he saw. There was a large drafting table taking up space along one wall and on the other side, facing the windows, was a large easel and more pencils, chalks, paints, paper and easel boards than he could count. She had turned the whole space into the most amazing art studio that Nick had ever seen.
He turned to look at her and saw the hopeful look on her face. Instead of saying anything, he grabbed her by the waist and lifted her off the floor. Pressing his lips to hers, he kissed her with such intensity that it even surprised him. After a few moments, he set her down again and framed her face with his hands.
“I love it Em.”
She burst into an ear to ear grin and her eyes started to water.
“This is the best present anyone could ever get for me.”
“I’m glad you like it Nick. I was so worried that I couldn’t find something you’d like or that was special enough for you.”
“I would love anything you gave me because it came from you.”
“I appreciate that but I wanted to give you a gift that was really unique. You’ve given me so much and I wanted to find something that would say thank you and show you how much I care.”
“I just gave you theater tickets.”
“That’s not what I mean.” she said, swatting at him. “I’m talking about everything you’ve done for me. You’ve given me a place to live, a life to call my own and the best relationship I have ever been in. You’re an amazing man Nick and I don’t think you realize it.”
Nick was stunned by what she was saying. “You would have had it without me Em.”
“No I wouldn’t. I have all of it because of you. I couldn’t ask for a better man and I want you to know how much you mean to me.”
Emma was about to tell Nick she loved him when Howie and Addie came barging in. The moment slipped away and she told herself that she would tell him later when they were alone again.
“Do you like it?” Howie asked.
“She did a fantastic job huh?” Addie added. “The table is from me and Howie but everything else is all Em. She spent hours out here working on it and trying to keep it a secret.”
Nick turned to her. “Exactly how did you keep this whole thing a secret?”
“That’s all me.” Howie answered. “Remember all the stores I dragged you to the other day? She managed to get all the painting done and then moved out the stuff when I asked you to run some errands with me yesterday morning.”
“It was all Howie.” Emma repeated with a chuckle. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Howie draped his arm around Emma’s shoulder. “That’s what family’s for right?”
“Right.” Emma agreed. “And I have the best family.”
“All right folks,” Addie interrupted, “let’s eat and see what other presents are beneath that tree of yours!”
The group tried to enjoy breakfast but Nick kept bouncing in and out of his seat.
“Do you have ants in your pants?” Emma teased.
“No, I just wanna give you your present.”
“The tickets were enough Nick. You don’t need to get me anything else.”
“Yes I do and yes I did. Can we please go open presents?”
“Alright child.” Howie said with a grin. “I want mine first!”
Howie tried to reach the tree but Addie beat him to it and opened her presents first. Emma gave her a beautiful bracelet, a pretty sweater set and some books she’d been looking at. Howie surprised her with a sapphire necklace and matching earrings along with a limo ride to and from the theater to see Les Mis while Nick got her a new iPad case and some iTunes gift cards.
“Thanks you guys. I really can’t wait to see the play.”
“Now you can arrive in style.” Howie told her, planting a kiss on her head.
“You’re next Howie.” Nick said excitedly.
Addie bought her boyfriend a gift certificate for a fishing trip she had planned for him and his brother while they were in Florida. Emma and Nick chipped in and got him a pair of water skis and a wake board to use on his vacation with Addie.
“This is terrific! I’m going to enjoy that fishing trip.”
“Try not to kill yourself on the water skis.” Nick joked.
“What’d you get me Dorough?”
“That expensive drafting table.”
“Fair enough.” Nick said and looked at Emma. “Now for your presents!”
Addie handed her a small box and Emma was surprised to see a necklace setting that was missing the stone.
“I know.” Addie said with a grin.
Emma raised her eyebrow and moved onto Howie’s gift. She opened it to find a gift card for snorkeling lessons.
“Hey Howie?” she asked.
“I can’t really snorkel off of Cape Cod. There’s not too much to see.”
“I know.” Howie responded with a smirk.
“Ok.” Emma demanded. “That’s enough with the okays. What do you two know that I don’t?”
“This.” Nick answered handing her an envelope. “I hope you like it.”
Emma slid the flap open and pulled out a pair of plane tickets. When she flipped them over to check the destination, she screamed and jumped onto Nick’s lap.
“I take it you like them.” Nick laughed and kissed her gently.
“I love them.” She kissed him with excitement. “I always wanted to go to Hawaii!”
“I know, you’ve told me a billion times.”
“That’s what my necklace is for.” Addie interrupted. “You can find a pearl down there and have it set.”
“You guys are the best!” Emma cried and hugged her friend.
“I know.” Addie laughed. “You better bring us back some souvenirs!”