“Hey you.” Addie said, snapping Emma out of her thoughts.
“Hey Mrs. Dorough. How are you this morning?”
“I’m good.” Addie gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then took her seat. “How are you?”
“Tired. You guys kept us up late last night!” she responded with a laugh. “Did you even go to bed?”
Addie grinned. “Define what you mean by bed.”
“Oh gross. I don’t need any details.”
“I’m just teasing. I couldn’t sleep, I was so wound up. Did you enjoy the wedding?”
Emma nodded. “It was beautiful and you couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Addie noticed how quickly Emma answered and then looked down at her menu. Something was up and she wanted to know what it was.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s up with you and the doom and gloom this morning? What’s going on?”
Emma shook her head and said nothing. Addie didn’t believe her and ran the events of last night through her head. She hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. Things had gone just as planned and Nick walked Emma into the reception. Wait a minute, Addie thought to herself. That wasn’t right!
“What the hell did Nick do?” she shouted. “I’m calling Howie right now! He’s got to…”
“Addie stop!” Emma yelped and put her hand on her friend’s arm. “Nothing happened and you don’t need to get Howie involved.”
“Why shouldn’t I?” Addie said, anger radiating from her body. “He should know Nick was bothering you.”
“Nick wasn’t bothering me.” Emma lied. “He thought he’d do John a favor so that he could walk and dance with his wife.”
“John should know better!”
“John has no idea about what happened between me and Nick. It’s no one’s fault and this doesn’t need to turn into a federal case. You’re gonna upset yourself for nothing and I’m gonna feel bad if you go into your honeymoon mad.”
Addie settled down quickly. Emma wouldn’t lie to her so things must be fine. It was probably just a misunderstanding and she agreed with her friend; leaving on her honeymoon in a bad mood wasn’t a smart idea.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive.” Emma answered and changed the subject quickly. “Are you excited?”
Addie started beaming and forgot about the other discussion. “I’m so excited! I’ve never been to Paris before and Howie managed to get us a room at Hotel Plaza Athenee!”
Emma smiled as she listened to her friend rattle off all the places she wanted to see and everything Howie had planned for them to do. She only lied to Addie when it was absolutely necessary and as much as she hated to do it, she couldn’t see what spoiling the newlyweds honeymoon would accomplish. Last night was probably going to be the only time she’d see Nick for God knows how long and she made a decision right then and there to put it behind her.
“Are you listening to me Em?” Addie asked as she waved her hand in front of her friend’s face.
“Of course! You were telling me about a night visit to the Eiffel Tower.”
Addie smiled and Emma thanked her lucky stars that she had developed the skill of listening and thinking at the same time.
Howie and the guys finished breakfast and started their goodbyes. He had already texted Nick that morning telling him that he wanted to talk to him alone.
“What the hell were you doing last night?” Howie demanded as soon as they were alone.
Nick hung his head. “I’m sorry Howie, I just…”
“Do you know how hard it was to make sure Addie didn’t see you go after Emma the way you did. I’m lucky I didn’t spend my first night as a husband on the couch!”
Nick felt awful and knew that he had really screwed up. “I know and I wish I could take it back.”
Howie shook his head and surprised Nick with his next question. “Was it at least worth it?”
“She wouldn’t talk to me. I think I pushed her a little too far.”
“AJ certainly thought you did. I looked over at him and he was glaring at you. I thought I might have to break up a fight.”
“He wanted to kick my ass and he was right. I pulled some stupid moves thinking I’d be cute and get her to talk to me.”
“You have to give it some time.”
“I know you were expecting me to say forget it but I’m not going to do that. I think she might talk to you at some point but you can’t set her up in front of a group of people like that. You know Emma doesn’t like all the attention and you definitely put her under some pressure.”
“I know and I honestly feel bad for doing it.”
Howie knew his brother meant it. Nick missed Emma and Howie wanted the two of them to be able to at least be in the same room together. Knowing how Emma reacted last night made Howie rethink the question he was going to ask Nick. After a moment, he decided that it needed to be done regardless of whether anyone else would like it or not.
“I have a favor to ask Nick.”
“You’re heading back up to Boston at some point while we’re gone aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I have a couple of meetings there.” Nick paused. “Why are you asking?”
“I need you to check on Emma for me.”
“Are you nuts?” Nick asked his eyes bulging. “Why on earth would you ask me to do that?”
“Because we’re gonna be gone for two weeks.” And, Howie thought to himself, you’ll get another chance to talk to her.
“So? She hates me Howie and she’s not gonna appreciate me showing up at her door uninvited. She’ll survive without Addie for a while.”
“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t really need you to do it.”
Nick thought about it for a minute. He wanted a chance to talk to Emma again but he wasn’t convinced that this would be the best opportunity.
“I’m serious Nick; I need you to do this for me.”
“Why is it so important?”
“I need to make sure she’s ok.”
“Why wouldn’t she be ok?” Nick asked, concern starting to creep in.
“Addie hates her boyfriend…”
“She has a boyfriend?” Nick shouted. “How come no one told me about this?”
Howie gave Nick a few minutes to digest that information. He hadn’t meant to spring it on him but he really needed him to do this favor.
“Please Nick; you need to check on her.”
“Because Addie hates him? She hated Jessie and she probably hates me. What’s the big deal?”
“I hate him.”
Nick was stunned. In all the years he’d known Howie, he had never heard him say that he hated anyone. That comment changed everything for him.
“What’s he doing?”
“Nothing, at least nothing Emma tells us about. He just rubs me the wrong way and Emma has become like a sister to me. I want to make sure she’s ok while we’re gone. Can you do that for me?”
Nick nodded but didn’t say anything. He wasn’t really sure what to say. Obviously there was something wrong with this guy if even Howie disliked him. His friend wrote down the address for him and he promised that he would head up there in a few days.
“Thanks Nick.” Howie said. “I owe you.”