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Addie and Howie arrived that Friday so they could attend the party and spend some time with Emma. The women were like sisters and appreciated any time that they had together. Nick, on the other hand, hadn’t talked to Howie since he lectured him nor had he texted Emma again. She was still upset that he wasn’t coming but she kept reminding herself that they weren’t dating and really weren’t friends; their association was just when they were in the same room.

Michael and Arthur got a chance to get to know Emma’s best friend and her husband. Emma rarely had them down to her house and spent most of her time in Boston when she visited. The men thought Howie was nice and they got a kick out of Addie; Arthur mentioned to Michael later that the two women seemed like polar opposites but they were the best of friends.

The day of the party dawned and it was a beautiful day; it was warm but dry and the breeze wasn’t overpowering. Most of the guests were there because of Michael and Arthur; Emma didn’t have many friends outside of the two men and she rarely associated with anyone she worked with. Her headmistress didn’t like her so most people avoided her like the plague in the hopes of scoring big with the boss. She was thrilled to have her best friend and her husband there and they made up for anyone else.

“So, how many of these people do you know?” Addie whispered. “No one seems to be talking to us.”

“Not many,” Emma replied with a chuckle, “they’re mostly Michael’s friends and co-workers. Everyone acknowledges me but no one is particularly interested in talking.”

“Well,” Howie interrupted, joining the women after taking a call, “there seems to be a gentleman over there that it quite interested in Emma.”

Emma followed Howie’s finger to see who he was talking about and groaned. There was a teacher that worked with Michael and he was kind of awkward. He tried to convince Emma to go on a date with him on several occasions but she made up an excuse for all of them. For most people, that would be a hint but not to him; he persisted and came to every party Emma’s roommate threw.

“That’s Daniel. He works with Michael and gives me the willies.”

“How come?” Howie asked. “He seems polite enough.”

“You should go on a date with him then!”

Howie’s wise ass comment was cut off by the doorbell ringing and Emma went to find Michael. She knew no one else was coming for her so she figured it was her roommate’s guest. Michael told her that everyone he invited was there and he couldn’t imagine who it was. Emma told him she would grab the door and bring whoever it was outside.

Emma made her way down the front hall to the door and really wasn’t paying attention to who it was. She opened the door, welcomed the person in and, when they didn’t come in, she looked up and her jaw dropped open. Nick was standing right in front of her, dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, holding some flowers and beer. She hadn’t been expecting him so it caught her off-guard and she couldn’t speak.

Nick was distracted too by seeing his ex standing at the door, looking at him with a confused expression. He thought about turning around to leave but Emma finally invited him inside; she blushed, thanked him for the flowers and lead him out to the backyard. Howie was the first to notice him and came over right away to give him a hug. It took Addie a few seconds to figure it out but she came over and greeted him the same way as her husband.

Howie offered to show Nick where the beer went and to get him a drink; he figured it would give Addie a chance to talk to her friend about Nick showing up unexpectedly. While the women chatted, Howie also took initiative and introduced Nick to Michael and Arthur who both gave him a stern look. Apparently, everyone knew what had happened that summer and Nick couldn’t be happier when Howie brought him back to the girls.

“I thought you couldn’t come.” Addie blurted out when they returned.

“I moved some stuff around.” he responded. “I was able to take the next few days off.”

Addie could tell that her friend didn’t care how Nick got there, she was thrilled to see him. No matter what they had been through, neither Nick or Emma couldn’t disguise how they felt for each other. Sometimes, Addie wanted to throttle them for how they acted and other times, she wanted to lock them in a room together till they figured it out for themselves.

Michael asked Emma to help him bring out food from the kitchen and, when they parted from the group, Howie noticed Daniel start to follow Emma; he knew he needed to do something because of the way Emma had spoken about him earlier.

“There he goes.” Howie said, turning towards his wife. “She’s right, he follows her everywhere.”

Nick’s head snapped up.

“Who’s following her?”

“This friend of Michael’s who gives her the creeps. Apparently, he….”

Nick was off to the house before Howie could finish what he was saying. Addie laughed as she watched knowing that Nick would be through that door and in front of Emma before Daniel even had the chance to say hello. Nick may have told everyone that they were just figuring out how to be friends again but, as evidenced from his behavior, he wasn’t going to let any other guy get close.

“Why are you laughing?”

“Just watch.”

As Howie turned around, he saw Emma and Michael come through the slider, carrying food; Daniel was starting towards Emma and he noticed Nick slide right up to Emma and say something that made her laugh. Daniel scowled but walked away knowing he wasn’t going to get what he wanted; all Howie could do was shake his head and chuckle.