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Howie was worried about Nick. His younger brother was completely silent and looked like he hadn’t slept in years. He tried to get him to talk but Nick just said he was fine and put his headphones on. Before the plane took off, he texted Addie and asked how Emma was doing. She replied back that Emma was fine and excited about them coming home. Howie felt relieved that there wasn’t anything going on between Nick and Emma but he still couldn’t figure out why Nick was acting that way. Hopefully, when he saw his girlfriend, he would snap out of it.

A few hours later, it was apparent that seeing Emma did not make the situation better. If fact, it seemed to Howie like it made Nick’s mood even worse. Addie noticed it too and asked him about it. He shrugged his shoulders and told her to give Emma some time with him; maybe it would help.

The two were not the only ones to notice that something was definitely wrong. Emma asked Nick several times on the ride home what was going on and he gave her the same response he gave Howie. She gave Nick enough room to unpack his things and shower before she pushed the issue.

“I think we need to talk.” she said forcefully.

“I’m kind of tired.” Nick replied.


Nick looked at her with surprise. She had never taken this tone with him and it told him she was not gonna let it go. He slumped down on the couch and she sat next to him. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes before she spoke again.

“Something is going on Nick and don’t tell me nothing. You’ve reminded me several times that when something is bothering us, we need to talk about it. I want to know why you’re acting this way.”

He knew there was no getting around this. “Lauren came to see me in LA.”

Emma was stunned. She didn’t know how to react to that information and just sat there, waiting for Nick to keep going.

“She apologized for everything and told me that she wanted to get back together.”


“She kissed me.”

Emma’s face went white and she reacted as though someone had just slapped her. She didn’t want to know anything else but she had to ask.

“Did you kiss her back?”

Nick stayed silent and nodded. Emma felt like she was going to be sick and ran down to the bathroom. She locked the door behind her and sank down to the floor. Nick knocked on the door a few minutes later and called her name. She ignored him as he spent the next few minutes trying to get her to open the door. Finally, he told her he would take Della out for a walk and be back in five minutes.

She waited another minute to make sure he was gone. On her way to the front door, she grabbed her keys, a sweater and her phone. Unlocking the car, she got in and took off for Addie’s house. She needed some advice.


“He did what?”

Emma had just finished explaining what happened between her and Nick when Howie jumped off the chair, his face beet red.

“I’m calling him.”

Howie grabbed his phone and stormed off. Addie watched him leave and then turned back to her friend. Emma looked so fragile and she wanted to smack Nick.

“Did he tell you why he kissed Lauren?”

“No.” Emma said and blew her nose. “I didn’t give him a chance and it doesn’t matter. He kissed her because he still loves her.”

“Is that what he said?”

“He didn’t need to! Why else would he kiss her?”

“Maybe it was a lapse in judgment. A really, really, really stupid mistake.”

“Why are you sticking up for him?”

“I’m not. I just thought that he was better than that and this was just something stupid.”

“I did something stupid.”


“I trusted him.”


“No, I should have seen this coming. I even asked him at the beginning if I was the rebound girl. He swore that I wasn’t and he really wanted to be with me.”

“I think he does.”

“If he does, he wouldn’t have kissed her.”

Addie waited for a few minutes before she said anything else.

“What are you gonna do now?”

“I have no idea.”

“Do you still love him?”

Emma nodded and Addie felt her heart break a little.

“I think you know what you need to do then.”


“Are you fucking stupid?” Howie roared into the phone. “Why would you do that?”

Nick cringed at the sound of Howie’s voice. He had no idea what to say to his friend.

“Are you there?” he yelled.

“Yeah, I am.”

“How dumb are you?” he continued screaming. “Your girlfriend is sitting on my couch crying her eyes out because you fucked up. How could you do that to her? She trusted you!”

“I know.” Nick replied weakly. “I didn’t mean to hurt her.”

“Well you screwed that up didn’t you? You’d better have some way to fix this.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

“Beg, plead, grovel, whatever you need to do to make Emma realize you love her. How about telling her you love her?”

“I can’t.” Nick whispered.

“What’d you mean you can’t?”

“I’m not sure if I love her.”

“You’re a moron! Of course you love her! Maybe you can’t admit it but you do.”

“Maybe I love Lauren more.”

“Now you’re not only a moron but a liar. There is no way you love Lauren more. You’re afraid of Emma hurting you so you’re going to hurt her first.”

Nick was stunned to hear Howie tell him the same thing AJ did. Was he really that afraid of her?

“I’m telling you right now, smarten up and find some way to fix this!” Howie yelled before hanging up on him.