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The plane ride back to Tennessee was quiet and uneventful; Emma read the whole time and Nick fell into a fitful sleep. It made him sad to think about how happy and excited they had been flying out to see AJ; it was a completely different feeling this time and it was eating him up inside.

The flight finally landed and, after retrieving their luggage from the baggage claim, Nick offered to bring the car around while she waited near the exit. Once he was gone, Emma dabbed at the tears that were threatening to slip down her face. She had tried to keep it together during the flight but, with this break alone, it all came crashing in. This ride to his house would be the last time she would see him for a while, if at all. She was afraid that coming to the conclusion of just being friends would make him not want to see her unless absolutely necessary.

Nick was thinking about the same thing as he brought the car around. Emma was leaving as soon as they got back to his house and there was nothing he could do about it. He didn’t want her to leave the way things were and he was hoping to get her to spend one more night at his house. The thought of not seeing her for some time was killing him; he wanted to go back to before he made the ridiculous comment that caused all this pain and confusion.

When Nick got back to where she was, he saw her wipe a tear away from her face. He didn’t understand why they couldn’t take back everything they had said the last few days and start over again. It was obvious that this was hurting them both and that they felt like more than friends to each other.

The ride back to his house was made in absolute silence; their arms rested inches apart from each other on the center console but neither one made the move to grab the other’s hand. There was so much being kept in during that ride with the fear that it would open the floodgates to let it out. Each wanted to say something, but it seemed as the silence was just getting too easy.

They pulled into Nick’s driveway and he helped Emma out of the car; he saw her head into the house to grab her things and he took the remaining luggage out of the car. She was heading to her rental when Nick stopped her.

“Please stay one more night Em.” he said as he gently tugged her arm. “I just want one more night with you.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea Nick, we should just leave things here.”

“I can’t,” Nick replied, “I can’t just let you drive off the way things are. You and I both know that there’s more to say.”

Emma walked over to her car as Nick followed her with her things. She was about to get in when Nick pulled her into him and wrapped her in a tight hug.

“Please don’t leave like this. It’s killing me that we’re just going to let things go the way it is.”

“It’s not letting things go,” Emma said through tears, “it’s just making things simpler.”

Nick pulled back a little to see her face and his eyes started to water.

“This is simpler? You and I crying? This is breaking both our hearts and you can’t say it’s not.”

“Maybe we don’t love each other anymore, Nick; maybe it’s just being around each other is bringing up old feelings. Maybe we’re trying to go back to how it used to be and that’s not possible.”

“Are you kidding?” he responded. “We don’t love each other anymore? Are you not feeling what I am?”

Emma finally disentangled herself from him and stepped back.

“I don’t know what I feel right now. I think I need some time and space to figure this out.”

“So, you’re walking out again?” Nick asked. “Just going to take off when it gets hard?”

Emma was hurt and angered by his comment; she knew the pain it caused when she walked away last time and she swore she would never do that again.

“I’m not running away Nick. I’m asking that we take a break and figure out how we feel before we make any mistakes.” Emma paused. “I know this feels like I’m taking off but I’m not, I’m just asking for some time to think.”

Nick didn’t reply as he watched her open the car door and get it; he stood there while she pulled out and disappeared down his driveway. This felt just like it did when she flew to North Carolina years ago; the one difference is that he had no intention of sitting back and just letting it happen again.