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The fury on Nick’s face was evident to everyone standing around the fire. He grabbed both men by their arms and dragged them in the opposite direction from where Addie had taken Emma. His brothers knew how angry he was and followed closely behind him. If either of the men had considered lashing out at Nick, they changed their mind the minute they saw four angry men walking behind him.

“Do you have any fucking idea what you just did?” Nick yelled as he pushed the two further up the beach. “You could have killed her with your fucking stupid stunt!”

“I was just trying to get her attention,” one of the guys protested, “then this idiot came up and butted in.”

The other one stuck an arm out to hit the one talking but Nick’s grip on both of them was super tight.

“Do you have a fucking clue?” AJ started in. “She was walking to get away from you two morons!”

“I’m not a …”

Kevin shot the shorter man a look that could have killed and Nick went off.

“You will get the fuck out of here and you had better not show your faces anywhere near this house again! God help you if I even think you’re looking over here!”

Both men realized that this was becoming a heated argument and one that they would not win. Nick released both with a shove and all five brothers stood there until they couldn’t see either one. They really didn’t give a damn if they continued their fight but it sure as hell wouldn’t be in the vicinity of their wives and families.

They headed back to the fire as a group; none of them saying a word because they didn’t want to make Nick any angrier than he was. The rage was radiating off of him and they were not surprised that he had intervened. He could protest all day that he hated being near Emma but they all knew, especially after what he had just done, that he truly was still in love with her.

Kristen, Rochelle and Leighanne made their way to their husbands’ sides when they saw them coming back. All of the men had expressions on that face that told everyone around them that the party was over. The neighbors, and their friends, cleared out pretty fast and, after dousing the fire, everyone else made their way back to the house.


As the guys were dealing with the problem, Addie had taken Emma back to the house and up to her room. Her friend had been shaking like a leaf and looked as though she wanted to burst into tears. The expression on her face made Addie’s heart break and she pulled her into her arms.

“Ssh sweetie, you’re ok. You’re safe and sound now.”

“All I was trying to do is get by them.” Emma said as she cried. “I wasn’t trying to get involved.”

“No one thinks you did.” Addie replied forcefully. “Those two idiots were out of control and if it hadn’t been you, it would have been someone else.”

Addie sat there and let her friend relax to the point where she could sit up and feel like she was okay. She was furious that the neighbors had brought such irresponsible and disrespectful people to her house; they could have done some serious damage to Emma and that drove her batty. Knowing that it wasn’t the time, Addie had to talk herself out of going over there immediately and chewing someone out.

“You should go downstairs.” Emma quietly suggested. “People are probably going to be upset and it’ll be better if you go down there and take care of things.”

“I don’t want to leave you here by yourself. What if…”

“I’m ok Ad,” she interrupted, “I’ll be fine now. It just scared me and I think I overreacted.”

“You absolutely DID NOT! They had no business doing what they did!”

“I know, I just should’ve been more careful.”

Addie was incensed that her friend felt like this was somehow her fault. There was no responsibility on her part for the mess that played out. She was about to say that when Howie called up to her and told her that people were leaving. Emma told her to go downstairs and say goodnight; she was going to jump in the shower and lay down. She’d had enough excitement for one night.


“How is she?” AJ asked as soon as Addie came into the kitchen. “Is she ok?”

Everyone was gathered in the kitchen waiting for her to come down and let them know how Emma was doing. Most of them were sitting around the island but she noticed that Nick was standing against the wall leading into the living room. He had his arms and legs crossed and Addie couldn’t get a feel on what was going on inside him. Instead of trying to figure it out, she turned to everyone else.

“Well, she’s calmed down but she still thinks it was her fault to get to close to them and she said she should have moved faster.”

Rochelle and Kristen jumped in to say that was ridiculous, nothing she did was an excuse for what happened. When Addie asked what happened to the men, Howie explained that they sent them on their way with a strict no return policy. She was satisfied with that and she swiveled towards Nick to say thank you but she noticed that he wasn’t there anymore.


Emma finished drying her hair and got dressed for bed; she just wanted to sink into her bed and pretend none of this had happened. When she finished up, she flipped the light switch and turned around.


Emma screamed as she noticed a person standing in the doorway. She hadn’t expected to find someone waiting for her when she came out and it caught her by surprise. Nick raised his hands and backed up slightly so as to not make it worse.

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Emma took a deep breath, crossed over to her bed and sat down.

“I’m fine.”

“Good.” Nick replied as he turned to leave. “That’s good.”

“Wait.” Emma called out to him causing him to stop. “Thank you for saving me.”

Nick didn’t turn to face her but he nodded his head to show that he heard her. He left and she heard him make his way down the stairs and rejoin the crowd that was gathered in the kitchen. She knew that it took a lot for him to help her after what she had done and she appreciated it more than he knew; she just couldn’t tell him that.