Chapter 3

"Do you really have to go?" John asked as Evangeline placed her overnight bag by the front door.

"Yes, I do," she said curling up beside him on the love seat in his bedroom. "I told you, on the fourth weekend of every fourth month our immediate family gets together at my mom's house for a mini family reunion. Since we're all so busy, it mom's way of keeping us all connected throughout the year, instead of at funerals, weddings or holidays."

"I don't suppose you could skip it just this once?"

"Are you kidding?" she exclaimed shaking her head. "My mother would have a fit. Unless I'm dying or it's job related, we're all expected to be there or suffer the consequences."

John put up his hands in defeat. "I understand," he smiled pulling her close. "My mother can be the same way."

"I should be back Monday afternoon," she said pulling him into a passionate kiss. "I think that should hold you until I get back."

"It will have to do," he pouted. "I guess I'll just throw myself into the opening night."

"Speaking of the gallery, I mentioned to Todd Manning about the opening. Since Natalie's in Europe on vacation, he can give the final approval regarding placing an announcement in the Banner. He's expecting you at 1:00 p.m."

"You did that for little ole me, Mrs. McBain?" John smiled.

"Yes, I did, Mr. McBain."

"I'm definitely going to have to find some way to thank you properly."

"I hope you're well rested by the time I get back, so you can thank me over and over again," she whispered, lightly nibbling his ear.

"All right now," he warned. You're about to start something that I'll have to finish. So I reluctantly suggest you leave now."

"Okay," she laughed. "I'm going."

"Hey," he said grabbing her hand. "In case you don't know, I love you."

Evangeline looked deep into John's blue eyes and saw unconditional love. If someone had told her three weeks ago that she would be married to a successful, charming, witty and incredibly sexy man, she would have laughed in their faces. Anyone close to Evangeline, knew she was married to her career and had no time for love. Now all those sappy love songs she use to hear on the radio made perfect sense. "I love you too," she beamed.


Todd Manning's Office

"John McBain as I live and breathe," Todd replied smugly shaking John's hand. "Well, well, well, look at you. If I didn't know better, I'd say that was an Armani suit you have on."

"Yes, it's Armani and hello to you too, Todd."

"Please have a seat. Damn you've definitely come a long way from the low life you use to be," he stated with amusement.

"I've had some good fortune," John replied refusing to give into Todd's snide remarks.

"So you and RJ Gannon are opening an art gallery here in Lainview? I find that kind of strange considering you were such a loser and he's an ex-convict. I must say the two of you make the scary pair."

"You're right. RJ is an ex-convict. But he's turned his life around and so have I," John replied confidently. "Look, I didn't come here to be interrogated. If you don't want to do business, that's fine..."

"All right, All right, don't get your shorts all twisted in knots," Todd laughed. "I've already given the okay for the announcement."

"Thank you," John said shaking Todd's hand. "You can contact our business manager, Keri Reynolds, at the number on my business card, regarding the appropriate payment."

"Don't worry about it," Todd waved him off. "I am curious to know something."

"What would that be?" John wondered.

"Have you talked to Natalie lately?"

"No. I tried contacting her, but she wouldn't return any of my calls."

"So...I gather she hasn't seen you're amazing transformation?"

"It's been five years since I've seen or spoken to Natalie," John replied.

"Then I guess she doesn't know about you and Evangeline?"

Before John could answer, Blair came sweeping into Todd's office. "Hello darlin," she swooned taking a seat in his lap. Blair gave John an admiring long look up and down. "Todd aren't you going to introduce me to your handsome friend?"

"Babe, don't you remember John McBain," Todd said.

"John....oh my God!" Blair exclaimed. "You look fucking amazing! Natalie must have jumped your bones, when she saw you."

"John hasn't seen or spoken to Natalie since the barbecue five years ago. John is actually here on business. He and RJ Gannon are opening an art gallery," Todd replied coyly with a wink. "As a matter of fact it was Evangeline who bragged about him."

"Evangeline!" Blair stated catching Todd's meaning. "Oh I see."

"I don't know what you're talking about and my personal life is none of your business," John replied. With that said, I'll be going and thank you once again. I'll be sure to have tickets sent to you for opening night."

"We'll look forward to it," Todd smirked as John left.

"So Natalie doesn't know anything about John?" Blair smiled.

"Not a thing," Todd laughed.

"And you're sure there's something going on between John and Evangeline?"

"I'd bet money on it. They both try to hide it, but you can see it in their eyes."

"Well, hot damn! I didn't think Evangeline had it in her. She always comes off as so serious. We definitely have to do lunch," Blair exclaimed. "I can't wait to see Natalie's face, when she sees McHunk. She's going to be totally pissed. I know she's family, but we have a mutual dislike for each other."

"Hey, I don't like her either and she's my niece," Todd stated. "But I agree, she's going to be livid, when she sees the new and improved McBain. It looks like things are finally going to be popping around here after all."