They laid on her bed, facing each other but not touching. The empty cartons of ice cream sat between them, and the television flickered in the background. With her hands resting under her cheek as they talked, Andrew thought Emma looked like an angel.
She always looked stunning, but man, had he been stunned when he walked into the kitchen to her fresh-faced freckles and those big puppy dog eyes, her hair pulled away from her face. She was prettier than the magazine covers he'd been looking at online from her modeling days. Young, natural beauty.
"I love when Meredith finds out that Nate had been moving the mistletoe the whole time," she said, smiling. "Something about the camera shot, or maybe it's the music. I don't know, it's amazing."
"I think it's the set design," he said. "It's like every corner of the screen is covered in something Christmas-y."
"Right? That's so true." She rolled onto her back. "I think I ate too much ice cream."
"We both did. It's okay though. Between the ice cream and Meredith, we could avoid the big life issues." He sat up, leaning back against her headboard, pulling the pillow over his stomach. "But now, Meredith is over and the ice cream's done. Time to talk?"
Emma copied him. "Ut-oh. Do we have to?"
"No," he said. "We don't. Not if you don't want to." He knew that he wouldn't be able to sleep until they discussed what had gone on in her world that day, and if they had a world to look forward to together. But she was tired, he'd stampeded in on her private time, and now they'd overindulged in sweets.
She smiled at him. "That's what I like about you."
"What's that? My math socks?"
"Are you wearing them?" She gasped, looking down at his feet.
He'd taken off his boots to lay on the bed, but the math part of the socks was closer to his ankle. He lifted his jeans, exposing his socks. They had numbers on them. "Devon made me."
Emma laughed. "Your girls are the best."
"They are." He clicked his tongue and looked around the room. "So this is your bedroom—"
"I can tell you want to talk," she started. "You can stop fidgeting. We can get to the big stuff."
Emma crossed her legs under her and swiveled to face him. She clapped her hands together and tapped the tips of her fingers together. "Where to start..."
"How about with why you resigned. Please don't say I had anything to do with it. I'd feel terrible—"
"No," she held up a hand. "It was all my decision. You did have something to do with it, indirectly though. Teagan too. Even Dario."
He sat up and turned to face her, mirroring her position. "Tell me."
"Well, like the letter said, I got tired of living out my father's dreams. Then I thought about you and Hayley, the girls, how you held onto her for so long. I've been holding onto my dad for five years, wondering if he was proud of me, if I was doing the right thing by him. I was living for a deceased person. I kind of felt like maybe you could relate."
Andrew nodded, swallowing back the tears. Of course he could relate because she was right. He had been living for someone from his past. Someone he loved with all of his heart, but still lost.
"Anyway." Emma cleared her throat and continued. "I'd been on auto-pilot for so long, that I thought I'd focus more on what I wanted to do, and hope that somewhere, my dad and mom are looking down on me and they're proud that I let go."
YOU ARE READING
Emma Ballard, a retired supermodel, has been the acting CEO and face of her family's clothing business for the past five years, living the busy corporate life in New York City. She meets the Jersey branch IT supervisor, theater-nerd Andrew Mooney, w...