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The week flew by as the guys worked on their upcoming album and Addie, Emma and Rochelle planned the next family get together. They invited all the guys, their families, the neighbors and a few people that were staying with the neighbors for the summer. Addie knew most of them from living in the neighborhood for a while but there were a few people that she didn’t. The neighbors had vouched for them so she felt that it was fine to invite them as well.

The day of the cook out rolled around and they got lucky with the weather. It had rained almost all week but Saturday came in bright and sunny. The breeze was warm and the conditions were perfect for a bonfire as it got later. Emma and Addie had worked on the food while Rochelle kept them company, AJ having restricted her from doing too much while she was pregnant. The guys came over to help Howie with the big stuff and setting up the fire wood; Kristen and Leighanne offered to help with the decorating.

“I’m glad that the girls have their designated areas to help with.” AJ remarked. “It’ll be good to avoid any uncomfortableness.”

“Huh?” Brian asked. “I don’t get it.”

“I think AJ means that the girls don’t necessarily count themselves as BFFs.”

Kevin chuckled as they all remembered the last time Emma and Leighanne had been stuck in a room together. It had been a studio party and Leighanne had all but said that Emma didn’t belong there while Emma let it be known that if Brian’s wife had an issue, they could take it outside.

Nick didn’t say much about the party because he was off in his own thoughts about what happened. He remembered how beautiful Emma looked in her gown that night and how close they had come to fixing their relationship. It wasn’t much longer after that than he had asked her to move back in with him. Old feelings were starting to resurface so Nick occupied himself even more to get rid of their hold on him.

AJ could tell by the look on his friend’s face that he was thinking about more than Emma and Leighanne’s heated discussion; no matter what Nick said, he knew that his friend was still in love with his ex. He recalled earlier in the day when Nick and Emma had crossed paths near the door; Nick held it open for her, she nodded a thank you and then they went their separate ways. It really bothered AJ that the two of them couldn’t figure out how to make something work even if it was only a casual friendship.

People started to arrive shortly after everything had been set up and Addie introduced the guys to her neighbors and their friends. Everyone had a few hours before the bonfire to mingle, get something to eat and talk to the new people. Addie had given her neighbors strict instructions that no one was to bother the guys or crowd their families too much. There were a couple of guys who were drinking a little more than Addie would have liked but she knew it was a party and that someone would intervene if it got out of hand.

Once the sun started to set, people made their way down to the beach and were thrilled with the masterpiece of a bonfire. The guys had built up a pit with some bricks around the wood to prevent people from getting too close. They had also dragged some large pieces of driftwood from the beach and chairs from Howie’s shed so that people could have choices as where to sit. Most people chose to stand for a while but Emma, Addie and Rochelle decided to shake out a blanket and sit off to the side some. AJ didn’t want his wife too close to the fire and was happy that the other women had joined her so she didn’t feel left out.

They managed to get a huge fire going and it amazed everyone. The flames leapt up and it warmed the entire area around it. Some people had to move away because it was a little too much and it actually left a safe distance to walk around by the fire without touching the flames.

AJ was talking on one side of the fire with the guys but he kept a watchful eye on his wife, Addie and Emma. He had noticed that one of the neighbor’s friends had taken an interest in Emma and had stopped to talk to her. Smiling, he turned back to his friends and hoped that Nick might take notice of someone else trying to talk to his ex. After a while, he looked back over and saw that Emma had moved away and the friend was following her. Every time she stopped, he stopped and tried to engage her in a conversation. AJ could tell that Emma was trying to politely excuse herself from him but he didn’t seem to be getting that message.

“Yo D!” AJ called over to his friend. “Who’s that guy?”

“What guy?”

“The one that’s all over Emma.”

That statement caused all four brothers to turn around and face the direction that AJ was pointing. It was clear who he was talking about and they all watched for a moment as he continued to follow her, trying to get her to talk to him. AJ didn’t say anything but he saw Nick’s eyes narrow and his face was contorted slightly; it didn’t take an idiot to see that he was upset about this development.

They continued to observe the interaction between the two and it got to the point where AJ felt that someone should step in and get him to back off. Before he could make his way over, another guy went up to them and starting yelling at the man bothering Emma. They seemed to be having a heated discussion and Howie went to split them up.

Before Howie could get there, he heard Addie shout for Emma to watch out. It was like watching a car crash; one man shoved the other while Emma was trying to get out of the way. The person being shoved slammed into Emma and caused her to lose her balance. She started to fall towards the border around the fire and it looked as though her head was going to hit the bricks. Rochelle cried out and it caused AJ to worry for her safety as well.

Nick’s mind went completely blank and all he could think of was getting to her in time. He used his long legs to jump over several people and he was able to catch Emma as she fell, avoiding her hitting the border or the fire. His heart was beating a mile a minute; he had never run so fast in his life and was truly scared he wouldn’t reach her in time. Realizing that he had managed to save her, he looked down and they locked eyes for a minute.

Emma was shaking uncontrollable out of fear from what had just happened. She knew that if Nick hadn’t caught her, something disastrous would have happened. When she looked into his eyes, she saw the serious concern he had for her mixed with some emotions she couldn’t describe. It felt like they spent eternity in that moment but it was just seconds before he handed her off to Addie and turned to face the men.