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Emma flew to Tennessee the day before Christmas Eve and was planning to spend five days with everyone before heading back. AJ had agreed to pick her up from the airport even though Nick was chomping at the bit to see her. They thought that giving her a moment to settle down after the flight was a better idea, so Nick stayed home and paced the floor.

AJ found Emma waiting for him at the exit; he got out to give her a hug and load her bag into the car. Once he climbed in and they headed towards Nick’s, he decided to get right to the point.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

“I didn’t really have a choice did I?” Emma asked with a hesitant chuckle. “You weren’t going to leave me alone until I agreed.”

“No, we weren’t.” AJ answered honestly. “It wouldn’t be Christmas without everyone.”

They drove in silence for a few minutes before Emma asked what she was thinking.

“Is Nick really okay with me being here or did the rest of you wrangle him into asking?”

“He’s the one who brought it up first and asked that we nag you until you said yes. He’s thrilled that you’re coming, and I would guess that, even though you’re trying to hide it, you’re pretty happy to be here.”

Emma said nothing because she honestly didn’t know what to say; she was glad he was happy about her being there, but she wasn’t sure how it would be with him after everything that happened during Thanksgiving. The way they left things was hard for both of them and she wasn’t sure how it would be seeing him again; she also didn’t know how comfortable Nick would be around her.

“He’s not angry or upset, Em, he wants to see you and have you here.”, AJ replied to her silent question and then paused for a moment before he continued, “It’s important to him that you’re here.”

AJ spoke as though he could read everything that was going through her mind and he was right; she was afraid that Nick would hold her leaving against her and he was just doing what the others wanted.

The ride was shorter than she thought it would be and before long, they were pulling up in front of his house. AJ honked the horn, signaling their arrival, and everyone came out to welcome her. She hugged everyone as AJ brought her things in and she finally came face to face with Nick; everyone else had the common sense to leave them alone for a few minutes.

Emma started to say something when Nick pulled her into a tight hug and rested his head on hers. She wanted to cry because it felt so normal, so right and yet she was only here in a friend capacity. Even though she was trying to hold back, she finally wrapped her arms around him and rested her head against him. He held her for a few minutes before releasing her from the hug and grabbing her hand as they headed into the house.

Once inside, Emma made the rounds to tell everyone hello and see how they were all doing. It felt so good to see everyone again and slipping back into group mode was comforting; she could let go of the apprehension she felt coming there and spend time with the people she cared about. This was exactly what the holidays were for, and she was grateful that everyone had nagged her into coming even though she had concerns about the whole situation.

The afternoon sped by and, before she knew it, they were sitting down to eat dinner. All the couples took seats next to each other which meant the only seat for Emma was the one to the right of Nick. He smiled at her, pulled out her chair and waited till she was comfortable before taking his seat. Everyone started passing the food around and every time she handed something to him, she could feel his hand slip over hers as though he was giving it a light squeeze and it tugged at her heart.

Dinner went by quickly and, once the babies and Ava were put to bed for the night, the couples decided to watch a movie. Once again, the only place for Emma to sit, was right next to Nick on the love seat; he tried to make her comfortable by giving her some space on the sofa but there was only so much he could do. The only was for them to sit comfortably was for Nick to put his arm on the back of the couch and it stretched across her shoulders.

“Do you want me to move somewhere else?” Nick asked her quietly.

She could see the relief flash across his face when she assured him she was fine, and they were both able to relax. The only problem was that they could both feel the electrical spark that occurred between them every time they saw each other. It was obvious to everyone around them that they loved each other, and they all hoped that being together for the holidays would be the catalyst for them to get back together.

When everyone was heading to bed, he pulled her aside and explained a complication that had come up with everyone around.

“There aren’t enough rooms for everyone so you’re going to be sleeping in my room.”

Emma looked at him with a surprised expression.

“Don’t worry,” Nick said, “I’m sleeping on the couch.”

Part of her was saddened that he wasn’t going to be sleeping in the same bed as her; part of her was relieved. She would only be staying a few days and it wouldn’t be a good idea to open up any old wounds.

Nick walked her up to his room, made sure she was settled and pulled her in for a long hug. He wanted to kiss her and crawl into bed with her like they used to; he was longing to hold her, wrap her in his arms and fall asleep feeling like one. Knowing that he couldn’t push his luck, he decided to wait and talk to her the next day; maybe they would be able to talk about what happened before she left again.