Chapter 1

"So John wants to meet you for lunch?" Evangeline asked as Natalie signed off on the monthly reports placed on her desk.

"He's called me three times this week," she replied brushing her red bangs out of her face. "I finally decided to answer his call against my better judgment. My guess is, he wants to try and get back together or hit me up for some money."

"Are you sure about that?" Evangeline wondered. "He never tried getting money from you in the past, so why would he start now?"

"Because he's a loser Van!" Natalie replied, surprised by the question. "The only reason I went out with him was to piss off my family."

"I remember you telling me. But you were with him for six months," Evangeline stated. "Why did you stay with him that long, if he was such a loser?"

"The sex of course," Natalie smiled. "He may have been a loser, but that man was good in bed."

"Is that right?" Evangeline smiled intrigued. "Tell me more."

"Another time," Natalie teased. "Right now I need you to do me a favor."

"And exactly what would that be?"

"I'd like you to meet John for lunch at 12:30pm, in my place at the Barrymore Cafe," she pleaded. "I know it's a lot to ask, but I just don't want to deal with him right now. Besides, you could emphasize the penalty for harassing me."

"Natalie, girl you're being overly dramatic," Evangeline replied. "John seemed like an okay guy, when I met him at your family's barbecue five years ago."

"Oh please Evangeline, John was never going to amount to anything," Natalie emphasized. "When we met, he didn't have a job and was living in some run down hotel. You remember, he looked like some biker with the long hair, unkempt beard and tattoos."

"I suppose," Evangeline replied unwilling to debate the issue. "All right, I'll briefly meet with him and emphasize that he should stop calling you."

"You're a sweetheart," Natalie smiled as she prepared to leave for a meeting. "I owe you one."

"You owe me more than that," Evangeline replied as Natalie left the office. "What have I gotten myself into. I guess I'd better get this over with. "

Barrymore's Café

"Hello, I'm here to meet John McBain," Evangeline said to the Hostess. "My name is Natalie Buchanan. We have a one o'clock reservation."

"Yes, Ms. Buchanan right this way," said the Hostess leading Evangeline to a booth on the second level. "Mr. McBain has been waiting for you."

Evangeline felt a sense of guilt, as she followed the woman to the table. " I shouldn't be doing this. "

"Here we are."

" Damn, this man is fine! " Evangeline thought as she stared into a pair of crystal blue orbs. "I'm sorry, there must be some mistake, I was expecting John McBain."

"There's no mistake," John interrupted standing to greet Evangeline and assuring the Hostess that everything was fine. "Please sit down."

"You look so different. The last time I saw you was at the Buchanan barbecue five years ago. You had a beard, long hair, a wardrobe that left little to be desired and seventy pounds of extra weight. Now you look like one of those models out of GQ magazine," she stated. r "Thank you," John blushed. " So Natalie sent you in her place. Let me guess, she must think I want to reconcile?"

"Something like that," Evangeline smiled embarrassed by this entire situation. "Why did you want to see her? Scratch that, it's really none of my business." Evangeline's inquisitiveness was working overtime. She had no idea five years ago that this fine specimen of a man was underneath. Natalie's words kept resonating in her head, "He's very good in bed."

"Earth to Evangeline," John smiled snapping his fingers. "Where did you go?"

Evangeline came back to reality and blushed at the erotic thoughts running through her head. "I'm sorry," she laughed nervously. "I have a lot on my mind. So what were you saying about seeing Natalie again."

"My intentions for seeing her are strictly business related and nothing more."

"As Natalie's lawyer, I have to wonder what kind of business could you possibly have with her?" she asked skeptically. "Exactly what do you do for a living anyway? Whatever it is, must pay very well, because the clothes your wearing are very expensive."

"I don't appreciate your interrogation," John replied. "But I do like your direct approach."

"Thank you."

"I'm opening an art gallery here in a few weeks, with my partner R. J. Gannon and I was hoping Natalie would be willing to mention it in The Banner, for a fee of course," he said. "I could have hired an expensive public relations representative to make an offer, but I felt the personal touch would go over better."

"I must admit, I'm surprised," Evangeline smiled. "I would have never figured you for the artsy type. Since I'm being nosy, how can you afford to open a gallery?"

"Damn, you get right to the point," he laughed. "It's a long story. But let me just say that you were my inspiration."

"Me!" Evangeline replied in astonishment. "I haven't seen or talked to you in five years. How could I have possibly inspired you?"

"You and I had a brief conversation at the Buchanan barbecue," he said staring into her ebony eyes. "Although it was brief, I've never forgotten what you said."

Evangeline sat intrigued, trying to remember that conversation. "What did I say?"

"I told you that I left the FBI after solving my finance's murder and how I had been drifting aimlessly, with no hope for the future."

"I vaguely remember you saying something to that affect," Evangeline replied.

"You told me that tomorrow its not promised to any of us. And instead of wallowing in self-pity, I should cherish my memories with Caitlyn and pursue my true passion," he said. "Well, I discovered a passion for writing. I submitted my story to a publisher and before I knew it, my books were selling like hot cakes."

"What type of books do you write?" Evangeline wondered.

"Children's books," he smiled shyly. "Except, I write under the name of J. Q. O'Hara."

"Oh my god!" Evangeline exclaimed. "I lov...I mean my nieces and nephews love your books, especially McSnuggles, McBoring, McHappy and the other characters. I see now how you can afford to open a gallery. Your books are almost as popular as the Harry Potter novels. I must say, I'm envious."

"Why?" John asked. "Don't you love being a lawyer?"

"Yes, I love practicing law," she replied. "It's just that I've always lived my life following the rules. I'm the sensible, rational and levelheaded daughter. I never do anything on a whim. Everything is carefully thought out. Just once it would be nice to live in the moment. But you don't want to hear my woes."

"I enjoy listening to you," he smiled. "Please continue."


John and Evangeline's simple lunch turned into an afternoon of food, wine and good conversation. Kindred spirits would be the perfect way to describe the vibes flowing through them. In a short amount of time, they felt like they'd known each other for ever. "Marry me!" John said, lightly stroking Evangeline's face. "I know it's crazy, but in my heart it's right. We can fly to Las Vegas and be married tonight."

"Okay!" Evangeline smiled, let's go. She didn't know if it was the wine or the spirit of the moment. But for the first time in her life, she decided to throw caution to the wind.