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Emma made her way to the living room, dug her phone out of her purse and dialed a familiar number.

“Hey Feisty,” AJ answered, “how did it go?”

“Just ducky.”

“That doesn’t sound very good.”

“Did you know I was going to have to help Nick shower?”

“Um, he may have mentioned that detail, I’m not really sure. Besides, it would be way weirder for me to help him bathe than you. Your touch is gentler than mine.”

“Not funny AJ; you should have told me everything.”

“I was afraid you might say no and I really needed your help. Forgive me?”

“That depends on what else I get stuck doing!”

They talked for a few minutes more, discussing the surgery and their travel arrangements for Thanksgiving. They would be flying out to LA the following Tuesday and were flying back to Tennessee that Saturday. AJ had already booked the tickets and set up the rental car; he was really looking forward to his friends coming out for the holidays.

Emma ordered a pizza and a salad for dinner that night and, once it was delivered, she headed up to wake up Nick. She was surprised to find him awake and coming out of his bathroom.

“Hey,” she called out, “how are you feeling?”


Emma went into the bathroom and grabbed some Ibuprofen out of the linen closet. She filled a Dixie cup with water and handed both to Nick; he thanked her and downed them in one swallow.

“I’m starving,” he told her after swallowing the pills, “what would you like for dinner?”

“Already ordered your favorite.”

“You shouldn’t have done that, I would have taken care of it.”

“You needed to sleep.”

Nick followed Emma downstairs and into the kitchen; she prepared plates of food for both and then set it down in front of him. She realized after a few minutes that he was having trouble eating since his right arm was in a sling and he couldn’t raise it very high.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I thought pizza would be a good idea.”

She didn’t want to ask him if he wanted her to cut it up because she didn’t want to imply that he couldn’t do it. Thankfully, he sucked up his pride and asked her to do what he couldn’t do; she did it quickly and they settled back into dinner.

“This is gonna suck when I have to take a shower,” Nick said out loud, “I can’t even reach my elbow.”

Emma turned bright red and she knew she had to tell him how it was going to work.

“Um…about that.” she said slowly. “I think I need to help you with that.”

“What? Why?”

Emma explained what the nurse had told her, and he groaned as he realized the doctor told him the same thing a couple of weeks before the surgery. AJ had made a huge joke out of it and told his brother how he was going to regret making him do that. Nick had considered hiring a nurse to do it but decided that he could just do it himself. Unfortunately, seeing how little he could do with his arm, he concluded that he was going to have to let Emma helped.

“I know it’s wicked awkward,” she told him, “and I promise I will be fast with whatever part I need to do.”

“I’m sorry Em, I totally forgot about this. If it’s too uncomfortable, I can hire someone to do it.”

She seriously thought about that for a minute but decided that it was ridiculous. Nick would wind up paying a huge amount of money for someone to come and take care of five minutes of work.

“No, it’s ok. It’s only a couple of times, we can get through it.”

Emma gave him a smile and they made small talk through the rest of dinner. Nick was still a little sleepy and apologized for not having much to say.

“It’s ok,” Emma relied with a mischievous grin, “now I can finally talk.”


Nick balled a napkin up and tossed it at her; she rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him.

“You’d better be careful doing that.” Nick warned her. “Your face might get stuck like that.”

Emma stuck her tongue out gain and blew a raspberry at him; without thinking, Nick pulled her out of her chair and towards his chest. They were instantly eye to eye and he had an overwhelming urge to kiss her; however, he realized what was going on and the confusion in her face and released her immediately.

“I’m so sorry Em, I didn’t mean to do that.”

“It’s fine.”

Emma pulled back and Nick wasn’t sure if he saw relief or regret in her eyes. He wanted to believe that she wanted him as much as he wanted her, but he couldn’t tell for certain. Not wanting to make everything more awkward, he grabbed his plate, threw it out and then came back for hers.

“I can do that Nick,” she told him, “you don’t have to wait on me.”

“You’re doing me a huge favor and I know you probably have other things you want to be doing right now.”

“I don’t.” Emma replied quickly. “I want to help you if I can.”

Nick saw the compassion in her face and pulled her into a tight hug.

“I appreciate that,” he told her, “I think I’m going to get some sleep. Are you settled in?”

Nick had shown her the guest room earlier and she had put all her things in there. She assured him she was fine and told him to get some rest. He took off upstairs and she cleaned up the rest of the dinner, packing food away in the fridge for the next day. When she finally headed up, she poked her head in his room and heard him snoring softly. Smiling, she made her way to her room, changed and was asleep a few moments later.