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“So how did last night go?”

AJ had dropped by Howie and Addie’s for breakfast and they were grilling him to see if he’d made any headway.

“Well, she let me in.”

“Voluntarily?” Howie asked with a small smile.

“Kind of. It took a verse of Dancing Queen at the top of my lungs but she finally relented and opened the door.”

Addie just shook her head. “Dancing Queen?”

“It was all I could think of! And who cares if it was Old McDonald, I got her to let me in.”

Howie chuckled. “Did she say anything?”

“Yeah but I told her I would let her talk to you guys. I think she’s a little more willing to see you and explain things her way.”

“Why wouldn’t she before?” Addie asked.

“Because she thought we’d all see her as weak and stupid.” Addie started to say something. “Hey, her words, not mine.”

“What would make her feel like that?”

“She felt like everyone knew this was a terrible idea yet she did it anyway. I feel that deep down she knew it was going badly but I don’t think she realized it would go that far.”

“What did you tell her?”

“That we all thought she was brave to do what she did and admit to you that something was wrong.”

“I wish she’d come to us sooner.”

AJ took a sip of his coffee. “Look, what’s done is done. She’s gonna need you now and I don’t think dwelling on what everyone should have, or should not have, done is going to help anyone. That would definitely push her away.”

They were just finishing breakfast when the doorbell rang. Addie called out and they were surprised to see Nick heading their way. He looked at the scene for a moment and noticed that AJ was sitting there.

“What are you doing here?”

“Addie called me and asked if I would come out to talk to Emma.”

“Good luck with that.” Nick said, taking a seat at the table. “She won’t talk to anyone.”

“She talked to me.” AJ said bluntly.

Nick looked up, his face getting red. “Why’d she talk to you?”

“Nick…” Howie said reaching out his hand.

“Don’t hush me Howie! Why did she talk to you and not us?”

AJ chose his next words very carefully. “No offense but there is no “us” Nick. Emma is picking and choosing who she wants to talk to.”

“It’s her right to do that.” Addie added. “She can talk to whoever she wants to.”

“I know.” Nick snapped. “But why couldn’t she talk to us?”

“You mean you.” AJ interjected. “Why wouldn’t she talk to you?”

“Fine, me. Why wouldn’t she talk to me?”

Addie was getting irritated with Nick. “Why should she?”

“Because she and I used to be together!”

“Used to be are the operative words Nick. You’re not together anymore and you’re not her friend so stay out of it!”

“Why are you jumping down my throat?” Nick yelled. “I’m trying to help!”

All the stress that Addie been dealing with just boiled over and she let it fly at Nick. “Maybe you should have thought about that before you kissed Lauren! You dumped Emma for your ex and she jumped into any relationship she could to forget you!”

“Addie!” Howie yelped.

“I did not dump her!” Nick yelled.

“Ok, so you didn’t say those exact words but you still did it. You hurt her and now you think you can come riding back in with your shiny armor and save the day. If you really cared about her as much as you claim, you wouldn’t have hurt her to begin with!”

“Addie, enough!” Howie said, his voice rising.

“No.” she said to her husband. “Emma’s my family and she’s been through hell. I’ve bitten my tongue about my feelings towards him and Emma’s relationship because he’s your family but I’ve had enough.”

She turned back to Nick. “Stay out of this! We don’t need, or want, your help anymore!”

Addie jumped up from the table and stormed off; Howie went chasing after her while Nick stormed through the house and slammed the door behind him. AJ just sat there for a few minutes trying to take everything in.

“No wonder why she didn’t want to tell all of you.” he whispered.


AJ found Emma curled up on the couch when he returned. She was sound asleep and he hesitated before waking her up.

“Hey sleepyhead.” he said and shook her gently.

She woke up with a start and almost knocked him down. He backed up and let her get her bearings.

“Sorry AJ.”

“No problem.” he replied and took a seat next to her. “How’re you feeling?”

“Tired. I think I cried myself out last night.”

“It’s a good thing. I didn’t bring many t-shirts with me.”

“Jerk” Emma said with a smile and threw her pillow at him. “Where’d you go?”

“Over to Addie’s.”

Emma’s smile faded. “What’d you tell them?”

“Just the basics. I figured you could get into all the details with them.” He paused not sure whether to tell her about this morning’s fight.

“Maybe I should call them.”

“Eh, maybe not. You might want to wait a little bit.”


“Um, they might be in the middle of a little tiff.”

“A tiff? Addie’s doesn’t have tiffs, she has fights.”

“Maybe fight is the right word then.”

“Why are they fighting?”

“Ahhh, I was trying to explain to them what happened and then a certain someone showed up and it kinda went to hell after that.”

“What did he want?” Emma groaned. “I thought he went home.”

“Apparently not. I think he came over to see how you were doing and I surprised him.”


“So he got a little angry that you and I had talked and then he and Addie got into it.”

“Oh God.” Emma said and dropped her head into her hands. “How bad?”

“Moderate to severe? She basically told Nick that he was the reason you went into the relationship…”

“No she didn’t!”

“She did and then she might have told him it was a little late for him to be concerned about how you were feeling. She also mentioned that if he cared so much he shouldn’t have broken up with you.”

“That’s not completely fair. I kinda broke up with him.”

“Uh-uh, don’t be taking the blame for the idiot. He screwed up not you.”

“Arghhhh. What should I do?”

“I suggest waiting till tomorrow and bringing a shield with you. You might need it!”