She had just started stretching when she heard someone calling out to her. Turning her head sideways, she caught sight of Nick as he wandered over in her direction.
“Hey yourself.” she replied. “Here for a run?”
“Yeah but I can find somewhere else to go if me being here bothers you.”
“Yes it bothers me.”
Nick stared at her serious expression and couldn’t believe it. They had gotten along so well the other night and now here she was telling him to leave.
“I’m kidding Nick.” Emma smiled. “It was a joke. Of course you can run here, it’s not my park.”
Nick released the breath he was holding. “You’re a wiseass.”
“Yup, guess I haven’t changed that much since the last time we did this.”
“No you haven’t.” he chuckled. “Are you planning to do the whole trail?”
“I was thinking about it.”
“Well you think about it and let me know!”
Emma took off in a jog, leaving Nick standing there trying to decide what to do. He wanted another chance to talk to her and she seemed open to it, so he broke into a run and it didn’t take long before he caught up with her.
“I see you decided.” she pointed out between breaths.
“Yeah, I figured you’d need someone to break your fall!”
“Jerk!” she shouted. “I’ll show you I don’t need your help!”
Emma increased her speed and thought she’d left Nick behind. Unfortunately, his long legs gave him a distinct advantage. They made it easy to catch up with her and the couple tried to outrace each other until they eventually wound up back in the parking lot. Emma collapsed onto the ground and put her head on her hands; Nick slumped down next to her.
“I am so not doing that again!” she mumbled. “My legs are killing me.”
“Well maybe if you weren’t trying to be Flo Jo, they wouldn’t hurt so much.” Nick responded as he shook the sweat off his head.
“That’s so gross!” Emma yelped as she got splattered. “I know I need a shower but I don’t need any more sweat!”
Nick smirked and leaned over to shake his head closer to her. She was faster than he was though and shoved him backwards. Jumping up, Emma strode over to her truck and pulled some waters out of the backseat. After making her way back, she handed one to Nick and sat down on one of the benches.
“Thanks.” Nick said after downing the bottle. “I forgot to bring some with me.”
“Well then I guess it’s a good thing you found me.”
Nick looked up at Emma as she took a sip from her bottle and was struck by how beautiful she was. Sweat dripped down her face and her hair was matted down, but her smile and eyes made all the rest unnoticeable.
Emma cocked her head sideways and one eyebrow went up. “Do I have something on my face?”
“Huh?” Nick asked becoming aware of the fact that she was talking to him.
“You were staring at me. Do I have something on my face?”
“Yeah, your nose.” he answered after a few seconds.
Nick laughed. “Think you could give this idiot a helping hand?”
Emma reached down and helped him get to his feet. He brushed himself off and followed her back to her truck. He didn’t want this time with her to end but he was afraid that if he pushed too hard, she cut off contact with him again. She surprised him, and herself, though went she beat him to the punch.
“I don’t know what you’re doing tonight,” she said quietly, “but Addie and I are going to the movies. You and Howie could come along if you want to.”
“Yes.” Nick said without hesitation. “I mean sure, we can do that.”
“Ok.” she chuckled. “I’m meeting Addie at her house around six thirty. The movie starts at seven so you have to be on time.”
“Alright, I’ll see you then.”
Emma climbed into her truck and pulled away from the parking spot. He watched her truck fade from view and then bolted over to his. There was only a short amount of time to get ready and he was determined not to be late.
Nick got to Addie’s house a half hour early and surprised Howie when he answered the door.
“Hey. What are you doing here?”
“I’m going to the movies with you guys?”
Howie gave him a funny look. “The movies? I’m not going to the movies.”
“Yes you are.” Addie chimed in as she pulled Nick inside. “Emma should be here in about twenty minutes so hurry up and get changed.”
“We’re all going to the movies together?”
“Yes dear.” Addie replied as she pushed Howie towards their bedroom. “Get going.”
Nick followed his friend’s wife down to the kitchen and sat there while she loaded the dishwasher. He thought about all the things that could go right or wrong that night and was so distracted that he didn’t hear Addie ask him a question. She finally had to wave her hand in front of his face to get his attention.
“I asked you if you were excited for tonight.”
Nick’s blushing face was all the answer she needed.
“Good because I think someone else is too.”
“She is?” he asked with wide eyes.
“I think so.” Addie said as she pulled her house keys out of her purse. “Don’t screw it up ok?”
“I won’t, I promise.”
Emma showed up as Howie was pulling on his jacket and offered to drive. Howie and Addie sat in back so that their friends would be able to talk without yelling over the seats. They got to the cinema just in time and found seats towards the back of the theater after the guys bought their snacks. Addie made sure to stick Emma and Nick next to each other and much to her surprise, neither one complained about it. As the lights dimmed and the previews started, Emma set her arm on the rest and found Nick’s in the same place. What the hell, she thought and let it rest against his.
Everyone loved the movie and Emma had to admit that it was nice to do things as a foursome again. She hadn’t really done anything enjoyable with Stephen and he never wanted to spend any time with her friends. Nick was the complete opposite of him and Emma had to admit that, regardless of the tension between them and everything that had happened, she still found being with Nick easy to do.
Rain had started during the movie and by the time they made it outside, it was pouring and there were puddles everywhere.
“Bet you wish you didn’t leave your jacket in the car.” Addie joked with her friend.
“Funny.” Emma replied as the four of them got ready to make a mad dash to the car.
Just as Addie and Howie started their run, Nick pulled Emma back and without asking, slipped his sweatshirt over her head. She surprised him by not fighting it and thanking him for giving it to her. He smiled and jogged down the steps; there was a huge puddle at the curb and he reached out his hand to help Emma across.
“Thank you.” she said as she stepped over it. “I really didn’t want to get soaked tonight.”
Nick laughed. “No problem.”
As they walked across the parking lot, Nick realized that he was still holding her hand. Emma looked down at the same time and instead of pulling it back, she gave him a little squeeze and followed him back to the car.
The ride home was difficult for Nick because he really wanted to be sitting in the back holding Emma’s hand. Unfortunately, she was driving and he had to settle for keeping her company when Addie and Howie dozed off. They got back safely and, after their friends made their way into the house, he tried to stall for as much time as he could get with her. After a few minutes, she started to yawn and he knew that it was time for her to go.
“You keep it.” he said as she tried to pull the sweatshirt over her head.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Nick paused for a minute. “Maybe you can give it back to me the next time I see you?”
“Definitely.” Emma replied with a smile. “Be careful driving home.”
“I will.” Nick said as he started to shut the door. After a second, he pulled it opened. “Can you just text me when you get home so I know you’re safe? I can give you my…”
“I already have it.” Emma blushed. “I never got rid of it.”
Nick’s face broke into a huge grin and he said goodbye again. As he watched her drive away, he tried to think of all the things they could do so that he would get a chance to see that smile of hers again.