Howie and Addie had picked her up and promised her that she would enjoy her birthday surprise. Unfortunately, they refused to tell her where that surprise would be happening and the suspense was killing her.
“It’s a surprise, again.” Addie said with a laugh. “If we tell you, then it won’t be a surprise anymore.”
Howie was squirming in his seat and hoped neither of the two women had noticed. He loved Emma like a sister and Nick was his brother; he wanted what was best for them both and he hoped this wasn’t a mistake. Not wanting to be the bad guy, he agreed to the whole party thing but he really felt like springing this on Emma might not be the best decision.
“You’re such a…”
“Loving friend who doesn’t want to ruin what’s in store for you.”
“That really doesn’t sound pleasant.” Emma said with a groan. “I feel like I’m walking into a horror movie or something.”
God I hope not, Howie thought to himself as he turned onto Nick’s street. He heard Emma’s sharp intake of breath as he slowed down to pull into the driveway and he could feel her eyes staring at the back of his head. The second he put the car in park, he leapt out of the car and raced towards the house. This was Nick and Addie’s idea; he wasn’t taking responsibility for this.
Addie leaned over her seat and took Emma’s hand. She saw the emotions flood her friend’s face and started to have second thoughts about what they were planning.
“I know this is hard…”
“Then why did you do this?”
“Nick wanted to do something special for you, for your birthday.”
“You know we’re moving in a couple of days and your apartment is too small…”
“Why not a restaurant?”
“Nick felt like if they did it in a public place, someone might catch wind of it and the paparazzi would show up. He really wanted this night to be all about you and this was the best place he could think of.”
Emma just sat there and continued to gaze at the house.
“Remember when I asked you the other day if you could come here? You said…”
“I know what I said but I didn’t think I was going to have to face it now; I thought I could ease into the idea.”
“I’m sorry Em, I really am. If you want to leave, I can go in and explain…”
“No.” Emma said and paused for a minute. “Everyone’s already here and I don’t want to be the reason the party ends.”
“I know but I’m sure everyone will understand…”
“They probably will but you were right when you said I needed to just do this. Maybe it will help if there are other people here besides just me and Nick.”
“Are you really sure you want to do this?”
Emma nodded and climbed out of the SUV; she made it two steps towards the house when AJ came through the front door.
“Mind if I have a chat with the birthday girl?” he asked as he approached Addie.
She looked over at Emma who nodded. After giving her friend a hug, she slipped through the open door.
“Happy Birthday Em.” AJ said and enveloped her in a hug.
“Thanks.” she responded quietly. “It’s nice to see you.”
“It’s good seeing you too. Rochelle and everyone else are here too.”
“Oh no, not her. We decided it would be best not to have a cage match during the party.”
Emma laughed for the first time that night. “Good decision, I would hate to have to mess up my nails.”
“Or your hair. God that would so be worse.”
Emma elbowed him in the side.
“Easy, I bruise.”
“Yeah right, Mr. Fragile.”
“I am.” AJ replied with a pout. “I’m incredibly delicate.”
The two friends stood there for a few minutes before he brought up the reason they were standing there.
“Are you coming in?”
“I don’t know; I’m not sure I can.”
“I know you can.”
“Because you’re Feisty; you can do anything.”
“You give me too much credit.”
“No I don’t, I just know you’re stronger than you think you are.”
“What if I go in there and break down?”
“I don’t think you will. And besides, I think the only thing breaking down in there will be the kitchen floor.”
“Nick has been pacing the kitchen all night long and I seriously think that it’s gonna give way soon. I can actually see the path.”
“And I don’t wanna be responsible for his dry cleaning bill. I’m pretty sure he’s changed into twenty different shirts since I got here. Also…”
“I get it, I get it.” Emma interrupted him with a grin. “Let’s go.”