Chapter 9

"Thanks for the ride, but you really didn't have to," Emily said as she and Tommy stood in the doorway of the Quartermaine mansion.

He smiled as she grinned at him. "Yeah, I did."

"And, why would that be?" she asked, arching an eyebrow as she folded her arms across her chest.

"Because I had to show off my Christmas present, of course," he replied, his green eyes twinkling as she laughed.

"Bragging is so unattractive," she said, shaking her head as her eyes danced with merriment.

Tommy feigned indignation as he said, "I was not bragging! Me! A braggart? I offer her a ride home in my brand new top of the line, fully loaded, Candy Apple Red Mustang convertible and she accuses me of bragging. Unbelievable!"

"Not bragging, huh?" she said, trying unsuccessfully to keep a smirk from her face.

"Damn straight!" he said, his expression serious as he added a nod for emphasis.

"Oh brother!" Emily said, rolling her eyes.

"Okay, okay. I'm only teasing ya," he said with a faint smile. His eyes became serious as he added, "I had fun, Em. I hope we can hang out again sometime."

"Tommy..." Emily began, a wary look in her eye.

Tommy raised in his hands in mock defense. "No strings, Em. We made the right decision. Going back now would be... Well, it would be..."

"Stupid?" she asked.

"Yeah," he agreed. "I just miss you. I miss our friendship."

"Yeah, so do I," she said softly, leaning against the doorjamb. Suddenly, it occurred to her, "Hey, would you like to come in?"

Tommy shook his head as he said, "Nah. It's almost 2. Your family would have a fit if they found me in here with you this time of night. I'll leave now. Good-night, Emily."

"Good-night, Tommy," Emily said. She watched silently as he gave her a short wave and turned to leave. He had gone two steps when on impulse, she called out softly, "Tommy, wait!"

Tommy turned around and moved to close the distance between them "What's wrong? Did you leave something in my car?"

"No. I just wanted to wish you a happy New Year," she said quietly. Her hands were cold as they cupped his warm face. She gently lowered his head to hers and planted a gentle and brief kiss on his full lips. As she released him, she said, "Happy New Year, Tommy."

Tommy looked at her for a moment and then smiled as he said, "Happy New Year, Emily."

Emily watched him until he was no longer visible on the brick walkway. With a sigh, she closed the door and locked it. Shrugging out of her coat as she headed toward the staircase, she heard voices coming from the den. She placed her coat on the bannister and followed the sounds.

Entering the den, she discovered that the voices belonged to Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. The glow of the television set provided the only light in the den, and she needed a few seconds for her eyes to adjust. Once she was able to see clearly, she was a little surprised to see the back of AJ's head as he faced the widescreen TV. "AJ, why are you still up?" she asked, as she came to sit beside him on the sofa.

AJ rubbed a hand through his black silky hair as he looked at his sister. His face was grim as he said, "Michael."

"Nightmare?" she asked, her eyes filled with concern. When he nodded, she continued, "But, I thought he was over those."

"Me, too," AJ said with a shrug. "But he's not. Kevin said there would be a slight chance that he'd carry the memory with him, but I didn't believe him."

"I'm so sorry. How is he now? Were you able to get him to fall asleep okay?" she asked.

"He's fine now. That song you and Tommy used to sing to him did the trick. I never would have thought my son would be a Three Dog Night fan," AJ said with a faint smile.

"Hey, don't knock it. If it works, let it work," she said, stifling a yawn.

"I'm not," he said, shaking his head. "As long as Michael gets a good night's sleep, I'm all for it."

Emily nodded her agreement. When another yawn over took her, she stood up. "I think it's past my bed time," she said with a smile.

"Em, wait."

"Yeah?" she said.

"Was that Tommy's voice I heard?" AJ asked, keeping his expression unreadable as he looked up at his sister.

Emily released a dramatic sigh and said, "Yes and don't say anything."

"What was I gonna say?" he asked innocently.

"Something I probably wouldn't want to hear," she replied, not buying his innocent for a second.

"Who me?" he asked, a little surprised. "You have me confused with Nedly. I always supported your decision to call it off. You two were getting too serious, anyway."

"Oh, don't give me that," Emily said, her need for sleep disappearing as she put her hands on her hips. "Tommy told me all about your little *lunch* at the gym. About how you tried to convince him we were making a mistake in going our separate ways."

"Oh, he did, did he?" AJ asked, a frown marring his handsome face. "Why, that little snitch!"

Emily's resolve softened as a grin crept across her brother's face. She could never stay mad at him for long when he grinned at her. Leaning over him to plant a kiss on his forehead, she said, "I know you mean well, but stay out of my love life. Got it?"

"Got it," he said with a grin.

"I'm serious, AJ. Don't mess around in my love life and I won't mess around in yours," she said, seriously.

"What love life?" AJ asked, sarcastically. "I didn't know I had one."

"My point exactly," she replied with a smirk. "Happy New Year, brother dear," she called softly as she left him in the den.

"Yeah, happy New Year," he muttered, grumpily to himself.


"Happy New Year."

Tommy stopped cold in his tracks at the sound of the tittering voice in the stillness of the night. He turned sharply to face the owner of the voice who still stood in the covering of the bushes. "What are you doing here?" Tommy asked, coldly.

"I think I should ask you that. Did you enjoy your good-night kiss?" Lucas snickered. "You should have because that's the last one Em's gonna give you."

Tommy's eyes narrowed as he moved closer to Lucas. His six foot two inch frame gave him an advantage over Lucas' five feet and ten inches. Looking down at Lucas through steely, green eyes, Tommy said, "I'm telling you for the last time. Leave her alone. She doesn't want you."

"You're the one she doesn't want!" Lucas replied, his violet-blue eyes flashing in anger. "I heard her. You guys were stupid! That's what she said. Stupid!! You're the one she should leave alone."

"Lower your voice!" Tommy whispered back furiously. "You don't know anything about *us*! What happened between Em and me is.. None. Of. Your. Business! And you'd do best to remember that! And, why aren't you at home? Isn't it past your curfew?"

"Shut up! I don't have a curfew. I don't need one," Lucas responded, defiantly.

"Answer my question. What are you doing out here?"

"If you must know, I came to apologize to Emily."

"Not now, you aren't."

"You can't tell me what to do!" Lucas said. Angry at Tommy, his attitude and his past relationship with Emily, he moved to storm past Tommy until Tommy's soft voice stopped him.

"You're right. I can't. But, I'm gonna love the look on old man Quartermaine's face when you ring that doorbell. Sure, Reginald may answer, but you know Mr. Q will be right on his heels. This oughta be good," Tommy said with a small laugh.

Lucas considered Tommy's prediction. He hated to admit it, but Tommy was right. Emily's grandfather, not to mention the rest of her family, would have a fit if he bothered them at the present time. He could wait, he decided. He'd wait until it was just him and Emily. She would listen to him better if no one else was around, anyway. Without another word to Tommy, he turned around and stormed off the property.

Tommy watched him leave with a sense of foreboding. He didn't trust Lucas. Emily had better watch herself around her, and he intended to remind of her it, the first chance he got.

Chapter 10