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Nick was pacing the living room floor; he had to be at the hospital in less than an hour and AJ was nowhere to be found. He had called him numerous times and all he got was his voicemail. The anxiety he was feeling about not getting there on time was compounded by the fact that he wasn’t happy about the surgery. Unfortunately, the arthritis had been giving him problems and the doctor felt that cleaning it out might help him with the pain.

The doorbell rang just as he was about to call his brother again. Irritated and tense, he whipped the front door open and started cursing him before he could see him.

“You’re fucking late and I can’t deal with this shit right now…”

“I’m sorry, I ran into more traffic than I thought.”

Nick stopped as soon as he heard the voice; pushing the door all the way open, he found Emma standing on his front porch.

“What are you doing here?

“AJ didn’t call you?”

“No.” Nick replied. “Is he not coming?”

“Rochelle is having a tough time and the doctor wants her to stay as relaxed as possible.”

“I hope she feels better soon. You can come in, I have to find another ride.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

Nick gave her a quizzical look and she explained that AJ had asked her to come in his place to help Nick out. He wasn’t surprised that AJ would do it without telling him, but he was surprised that Emma had agreed to it. They had spent the weekend together at Addie’s but doing this meant more than a week together.

“Thank you for doing this but it’s kind of a long time to be here. I know you’re spending Thanksgiving with Addie and I’ll be with J.”

“I know, he invited me out there too and don’t worry about Addie, she just called me yesterday to tell me they were going to Florida to spend the holiday with his family. If I don’t come with you, I’ll be all by myself.”

Nick felt badly that she wasn’t going to be with her friends, but he was silently ecstatic that he would be spending a week and a half with her, mostly just the two of them. There would be a few days at AJ’s house but the rest of the time they would be alone at Nick’s place. He started to feel like this was a sign for him to do, or say, something to explain how he felt.

“Are you already to go?” Emma asked, snapping him out of his thoughts. “I don’t want you to be late.”

Nick nodded and followed Emma out to her rental; they spent most of the car ride in silence, speaking only about the directions to the hospital. Both were unsure of how to act because they really hadn’t spent much alone time together and the last time they did, they wound up sleeping in the same bed.

They made it just in time to check in for Nick’s surgery; the nurse told Emma that once he had changed into a gown and settled into the bed, she would be able to sit with him until the doctor was ready. She was unsure as to whether she should be in the room, but he looked so nervous that she assured him she would be in there.

It took a few minutes for him to change and for them to take vitals; a nurse came out to tell her that he was ready for her to wait with him. She felt awful for her when she saw his face; Nick was never nervous about anything, but she could see how much he was rattled by what was going to happen.

“What can I do to make this better for you?” Emma asked. “I’ll do whatever I can.”

“Just hold my hand.” he replied.

“I can do that.” Emma told him with a smile and gently took his hand in hers. “I promise you’ll be fine and it’ll go by super-fast. You’re going to be waking up to this face before you know it.”

Nick laughed as she crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out. She was happy that she could make this easier for him. The doctor came in a few minutes later and asked Emma to wait in the one-day surgery recovery waiting room. Nick started to tense up but when she leaned down and kissed him on the cheek, he settled back into the bed and smiled at her. She crossed her eyes one more time making him laugh and then headed to the waiting room. Nick took a deep breath, reminded himself that he would be awake soon and listened as the doctor explained the procedure. Emma’s face was really all he wanted to see at that moment and he hoped that it would go by as fast as she promised.


Emma was reading her book when the nurse came out an hour later; she assured her the surgery went well and explained that Nick was still waking up. She handed Emma a list of instructions and explained everything that Emma would have to help him to do including helping him shower. Emma almost dropped the papers when the nurse basically told her she would have to clean the upper part of his body because of the bandages. There was no way AJ wouldn’t have known that and she made a mental note to call him with some choice words.

She followed the nurse down to the room and saw that Nick was awake but a little groggy. The post-op aides had helped him get dressed and she could she that there was a dressing under his shirt. They helped slide Nick’s arm into a sling and told him to let Emma take care of him over the next few days. He was still half asleep, so he nodded at them like he understood; seeing Emma’s face was distracting him and she was all he could focus on.

It was a quiet ride home as Emma concentrated on the drive and Nick tried to wake up. He knew that anesthesia made him a little sleepy and the nurse told him it was okay to rest when he got home.

Emma helped him up the stairs when they got in and settled him in his bed. She told him she was going to let him sleep for a little bit and then make dinner. Just as she was about to leave, Nick gently tugged on her arm and it caused her to turn.

“I love you Emma.” Nick told her with a sleepy look on his face.

“Shh,” Emma told him, “you need some rest.”

Nick slipped into a deep sleep a few minutes and forgot all about his declaration of love for her.