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Howie came out to see the guys about an hour later. He and Emma had helped Addie through what turned out to be a relatively easy delivery and he was thrilled by the birth of his baby girl. She was absolutely lovely and he had assured his wife, that behind her, this little angel was the most beautiful thing in the world. His beaming smile told all of his brothers exactly what was running through his mind.

“All good?” AJ asked as he stood. “Everyone’s fine?”

“She amazing!” Howie answered, “Caroline Alissa Dorough is a seven pound, nine ounce, twenty inch long miracle!”

The guys’ eyes teared up while listening to Howie describe his daughter; they knew how much this moment meant to him and what a thoughtful name they had picked to honor Howie’s sister. His family meant the world to him and it was bittersweet to not have his sister there to share it with. And, as if on cue, his brother answered the question he didn’t have to ask.

“They’ll be here tomorrow.” Kevin reminded him. “I checked in with them and Bri will come with me in the morning to pick them up.”

The Dorough clan was coming up to spend the next few days celebrating Caroline’s birth and to help the new parents settle in. Between his family, the guys and Emma, he knew that his house would be a busy place but would be filled with love.

“How did you guys choose the middle name? Alissa?” Brian asked.

Howie sat down on the chair, too tired to stand after all the excitement, before he answered.

“It’s Emma’s middle name. Addie knew how much naming the baby Caroline would mean to me and I wanted her to be able to choose the middle name. Emma and her are like sisters and have been together through a lot. She wanted her best friend to know how much she means to her and thought this would be a great way to show her.”

The mention of his ex-girlfriend caused Nick to stiffen but he had the good sense to not make a sound. AJ noticed the slight change in his brother and looked him straight in the eye as he gave him a “really?” look. It made Nick sit back and look over at the other guys as they were congratulating Howie. AJ always seemed to know exactly what to say, well think really, that could put Nick in his place.


“She’s absolutely beautiful Ad.”

Emma watched as her best friend snuggled her new daughter closer to her chest. Addie’s face had never looked this way before, the joy and gratitude over her new baby made her beam; she was the brightest thing in the room. Emma knew how badly Addie wanted to be a mom and how hard she and Howie had been trying to make that a reality. They had hit a few speed bumps along the way but they had the ultimate reward for all their efforts.

“Do you want to hold her?”

Emma smiled and nodded, reaching out her arms for her new niece; she couldn’t wait to spoil her rotten and tell her funny stories about all the good and crazy times she had with her mom. What she didn’t notice was the way Addie looked at her with a sad smile. Her friend waited for a few moments before she said what she was thinking, which was a record for Addie.

“You’d be a great mom Em.”

She looked up at her friend, just giving her a faint grin.

“I don’t think that’s in the cards for me.” Emma said, handing the baby back to Addie. “Besides, I have a hundred teenagers a day and an amazing little angel to spoil. I think that’s more than enough for me.”

“You don’t really mean that do you?”

“Please Ad, let’s not do this.” Emma sighed. “I came here to enjoy time with you and your new munchkin, not to get grilled on my nonexistent love life and lack of children. I get that enough from people at work, I don’t need it from my best friend too.”

“I’m sorry Em, you just know…”

“That it’s not in your nature to be silent and simply observant?”

“I hope she doesn’t inherit that trait.” Addie laughed and looked down at her daughter. “I don’t know if Howie can handle all of that.”

“He’s handled you for all this time, I think he can handle a baby. Hopefully, she doesn’t snore like you.”

Addie looked over at Emma and gave her the middle finger. Both women started cracking up and a few moments later, the guys made their way into the room to see the new mom and baby. Emma’s laugh died quickly and she stood up to give Addie a quick kiss on the cheek.

“You don’t have to leave.” Addie told her quietly. “I won’t let them kick you out.”

The look on Addie’s face told Emma that, even though she had thought her lie was convincing earlier, her friend had guessed the truth. Addie would not have anyone say anything negative to her best friend or even give her the cold shoulder. While Emma was appreciative of that fact, she knew it was best to make herself scarce and give the boys some time with the new baby.

“I’ll be back in the morning before they discharge you ok?”

Addie nodded and she watched her friend leave the room. There was a glance cast between Emma and Nick but it was so quick that she couldn’t tell what the message behind it was. AJ noticed the look as well and excused himself for a moment. He caught up with Emma at the elevators.

“Hey Feisty?”

“Yeah?” Emma asked as she turned around.

“Have any plans for dinner later?”

“Room service and a movie. Exciting plans huh?”

“Well, cancel them, we’re having dinner. I’ll pick you up in two hours, be prepared!”

AJ gave her a wave and a grin before jogging back to the new parents. Emma smiled as she watched him leave; she knew that no matter what, she could depend on his ability to forgive and his concern for her.