He had to give himself a pep talk in the driveway before heading up to the house. It felt like he was marching toward an execution and he wanted to run seconds after ringing the doorbell. The door opened before he could and he came face to face with a very angry Howie who had seen him through the peephole.
“What do you want?”
“I wanted to apologize for last night.” Nick replied, steeling himself for his next question. “Is Addie around?”
“No, she and Emma went shopping, they’ll be gone for a little while.”
Nick felt himself exhale, at least he had time to talk to his brother before he had to deal with Addie. He was not looking forward to that conversation and knew she would be the most difficult to deal with; maybe even more so than Emma since she was pretty easy going. That last thought caught him by surprise, he was actually thinking something nice about his former girlfriend for a change. Maybe there was something cathartic in making peace.
Howie didn’t want to listen when Nick started talking but eventually he wore him down. The conversation went much the way as the one with AJ and by the end of it, Nick made Howie a guaranteed promise to make sure he was on his best behavior and he didn’t cause any more issues for any one. He was going to keep his feelings to himself for the time being and deal with them privately instead of in public.
The guys had been talking for a little while when they heard the front door open and the girls’ voices heading in their direction. Both Nick and Howie stood up and waited for them to make it down to the living room. When the girls came around the corner, they were shocked to see Nick and Howie together; Addie’s face instantly became hostile and Emma looked as though she was frightened and wanted to flee. She didn’t say a word but turned and grabbed their shopping bags; she rushed from the room before there could be any problems.
Addie crossed her arms and glared at Nick; if looks could kill, he would be dead in the spot where he was standing. He knew that this was probably going to hurt so he jumped in before letting Addie loose.
“I am so sorry, I know you don’t want to hear that, but I really am.” Nick said in a rush. “I came here to apologize, not start anything.”
“Sit.” Addie demanded as she pointed to the couch.
Nick immediately sat and she took a seat in the chair opposite of him. Addie turned to Howie and asked that he leave them alone. Her husband didn’t know what he should do until Nick motioned to the door his head; Howie escaped a moment later.
“No.” Addie interrupted. “You’re not going to do any talking. I want you to sit there and listen to what I have to say. Got it?”
Nick cringed but nodded; he had to get this over with.
“I am beyond pissed at you. We wanted this time with everyone to be special and you and your goddamn attitude is ruining that. The way you have been treating Emma is uncalled for, no matter what happened between the two of you. And before you say something about me taking her side, there are a few things you should know.”
He waited for Addie to take a deep breath before she started again.
“I’m not going to have this discussion with you again so you need to listen. I know Emma hurt you when she left you and I know that you think you’re the only one who was angry but you weren’t. I screamed at my best friend when she left you and I was so angry with her that she and I didn’t speak for six months after she left.”
Nick’s jaw hit the floor in record time; there was no way he was hearing this conversation correctly.
“I know you assumed that I just took her side no matter what but I didn’t. You two were happy together and I could not wrap my mind around why she was doing what she was. Like I said, we didn’t speak for a long time because of her actions and my anger over what she did.”
“Yes, I did.” Addie told him. “You weren’t the only one who wanted your relationship to work. I was so happy for you guys when you got back together again and pissed when she pulled that North Carolina stunt. I had to forgive her after a while and, while I’m not asking you to talk to her or be around her, you need to understand that nothing you do to retaliate will hurt her more than what she has put herself through over the last three years.” Addie paused. “I don’t expect you to be less angry or less hurt but, after this conversation, I do expect you to be less rude and hostile. You two don’t ever have to see each other again but I want peace in this house. If you can manage to keep it, then I don’t see why we all shouldn’t be together.”
Nick was absolutely stunned. On the drive over, he had pictured all the ways that Addie was going to skewer him and at no point, did he expect her to have this reaction. He had no idea was prompted Addie’s restraint but he was immensely grateful for it. After getting over the shock, Nick promised her that he would be civil and he would not cause any more drama. He had one last person to speak to and it took a lot of nerve for him to ask Addie if he could speak with Emma.
Addie told him that she would go get her and she reminded him that if he made her friend cry that she would be a lot less forgiving than she had just been. She left the room and in a few minutes, Emma made her way around the corner.
She stood by the doorway, unsure of what to expect. Nick could tell that she was nervous about being caught up in another fiasco like the night before. He was still angry with her but he felt bad that he had caused such an infamous soon. Not moving from the couch, Nick explained why he was there.
“I’m sorry for last night, it should never have happened. I should not have said…”
“You don’t have to say anything.” Emma interrupted. “You’re angry with me and I deserve it. You said how you were feeling and I understand that. I know why you came and I just wanted to let you know that I will stay out of your way as much as humanly possible and I promise to keep our interactions as peaceful as possible. I know how you feel now and I promise to respect that. I appreciate you coming by and I’ll tell Howie you are looking for him.”
With that, Emma turned, walked out of the room and left Nick sitting there trying to figure out what had just happened. He knew he apologized and he came to do what he had planned on. The problem was he didn’t understand why he felt worse than he had when he gotten there an hour ago. His conversation with his ex had gone smoother than he thought and happened much more quickly than he had planned. He couldn’t comprehend why he wasn’t happier about her apology and her assurance to stay away from him. Isn’t that what he wanted in the first place?