“Emma!” he cried and pulled her into a hug. “I’m so glad to see you.”
Emma gave him a small smile. “Glad because you want to make sure I’m ok or glad because I’m here to talk Addie off the ledge?”
Howie blushed. “Both?”
Emma followed him down to the kitchen and he offered her some coffee. She thanked him and took a seat at the table.
“Where is She-Ra?”
“She went out to run some errands. I don’t think she’s gonna be gone very long.”
“How are you?”
“Tired.” Howie admitted. “The honeymoon was great but it seems like we came back and…”
“Everything went to pot?”
“You could say that.”
Emma set her cup down. “I want to apologize because I know a big part of it was my fault.”
“It’s not your fault, don’t ever say that. Nothing…”
“Calm down Howie.” She placed her hand on his arm. “I’m not talking about what happened. I mean the times that I shut you two out and acted like nothing was wrong. If I’d been honest from the beginning, I could probably have saved us all some hassle.”
Howie was cut off by Addie running down the hall. Emma tried to stand but the force of Addie’s hug pushed her back into her chair. She stayed in that position until she had trouble breathing and had to pry her friend off.
“How long have you been here?”
“I just got here about ten minutes ago.”
“Is everything ok?”
“No.” Emma answered. “That’s why I came to talk to you.”
Howie decided it would be best to give them some space and disappeared downstairs as fast as he could. Addie poured herself some coffee and refilled Emma’s cup; they took a seat in the living room.
“What’s the matter?”
“You and Nick.” Emma replied without hesitation.
“AJ told me about what happened the other day.”
“No, he definitely should have. You guys can’t be at each other’s throats.”
“No buts. You’re Howie’s wife and he’s his best friend and brother. It’s not fair to Howie to not have you guys in the same room without tempers flaring.”
“But it’s his fault…”
“No it’s not.” Emma said sternly. “None of this is Nick’s fault or anyone else’s.”
“He was a jerk to you and he broke your heart. He’s the reason…”
“Stop right there.” Emma held up her hand. “I appreciate you being my big sister and standing up for me but you need to be fair.”
“Why should I?”
“Because it’s only right. You can blame Nick for what’s he done but you can’t blame him for something he didn’t even know about it.”
“But he forced…”
“Nick didn’t force anything. He didn’t make me start dating Stephen, he didn’t tell him to treat me like crap and he sure as hell didn’t tell him to hit me. If you’re gonna be mad at him, then be mad for good reason not just because you’re angry at the situation and you want to take it out on someone.”
“I’m not angry!”
“Oh yeah, definitely not.” Emma said with a chuckle.
Addie was surprised by the smile on Emma’s face and it eased some of the tension. It was nice to see Emma in a better space and it made her slightly less mad at Nick.
“Please promise that you’ll back off Nick and at least attempt to be civil? You and Howie love each other and you both deserve to have your families in your lives.”
Addie decided this was as good a time as any to turn the tables on her friend. “Do you think you could talk to him?”
“No.” Emma answered quickly.
“But you just said…”
“I said you and Nick need to get along because you’re Howie’s family.”
“But you’re my family and now I might have to let Nick in.”
“Nice try. Nick is Howie’s family and you’re Howie’s family. I’m just a friend whose not gonna open up old wounds. I don’t need to do that right now.”
Addie nodded. “I know but do you think at some point…”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re pushy?” Emma teased. “Let me deal with stuff for right now and maybe down the road, a long time down the road, we can have this discussion again.”
Addie was so grateful to see some life in her friend again that she decided to back off pushing Emma to talk to him. She promised that she would call Nick and apologize for lashing out at him. Howie invited her to stay for dinner but she was tired and just wanted to unwind. Seeing the concern in her friend’s face, she changed her mind and agreed to stay.
Addie called Nick that night after Emma left. She was still angry with him for everything he put her friend through but she had to agree that he had nothing to do with this particular situation.
“Hey Nick.” she said as he answered.
“I called to apologize.”
“You don’t have to…”
“Yes I do. I was wrong to lash out like that at you.”
“I deserved it.”
“No you didn’t. I’ll admit that I’m still mad about what happened between you two but this whole thing with Stephen had nothing to do with you at all.”
The mention of Emma’s ex’s name made Nick tense up. He hated what that guy did and he wished he could do something about it.
“Emma came here earlier.” Addie mentioned snapping Nick out of his thoughts.
“She did? Is she ok? How’s she doing?”
Addie laughed. “One question at a time.”
“Is she ok?” Nick asked first and Addie honestly felt like he was being genuine in his concern for her.
“She’s better. I don’t know about ok but I saw her smile and heard her laugh for the first time in a while.”
“Yup. You can relax.”
“Will she talk to me?” he blurted out.
Addie hesitated. “Not right now.”
“Did you ask…”
“Yes I did. I know you’re concerned but she’s just not ready to go there.”
Nick sighed. “Will she ever be ready?”
“Honestly, I don’t know.” Addie answered and then surprised Nick. “But I hope that at some point she will. I think you both need it.”
“Agreeing with you? Yes shockingly enough but don’t plan on it happening again.”
“I won’t.” Nick said.
The two of them said goodbye and Nick lay back on the couch. No matter what Emma said, he wasn’t going to give up on talking to her. It needed to happen and there was no one who was going to tell him otherwise.