Chapter 16

"What's all the noise out here?" RJ demanded, before noticing Natalie laid out in the bushes. "What the hell happened to her? RJ suspiciously eyed the guilty suspects waiting for someone to confess. "Is someone going to answer my question?"

With a smile on his face, John finally broke the silence. "You should have seen my baby!" John exclaimed, holding Evangeline's right hand up in the air like a heavyweight champ. "It was poetry in motion. Natalie took a swing with her left, but my baby had her number. She ducked and knocked her out with a right hook."

"I've always fought with words not violence," Evangeline said, rubbing her hand. "But she really had it coming."

"It was sweet!" Michael added. "I'd definitely pay to see that again."

"That trick didn't know what hit her," Marita smiled. "We don't call her Cookie for nothing."

"That's right," Layla agreed, tapping Todd on the shoulder. "I believe you owe me and my sister one hundred bucks a piece."

"I'm more than happy to pay up," Todd grinned, handing Marita and Layla one-hundred dollar bills.

"Hey, what about me?" Blair huffed, pretending to be offended. "I had a piece of that action. I believe you also owe me one hundred bucks."

"I'll take care of you later," Todd winked.

"Excuse me for interrupting this bonding moment," RJ fumed. "But have you forgotten there's still a party going on? Can we please remove Ms. Buchanan from the bushes and get back to our guests?"

"RJ's right," John replied. "I'll have one of the security guards take her home, while we get back to the party."

"We'll take her home," Todd smiled, as tears welled up in his eyes.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" John and Evangeline asked in unison, as everyone else started heading back inside.

"Darlin what's the matter?" Blair asked concerned.

"This is such beautiful moment," Todd smiled putting his arms around John and Evangeline's shoulders. "You guys have been a breath of fresh air. Everyone else in this town is so self-righteous and I use to think the two of you fell in that category. But this little incident has proved me wrong. I...I just want to say, I love you guys! You're our new best friends. Hell, you're our only friends."

Evangeline and John stood speechless as Todd gave them a hug. Despite his smugness and annoying habits, John had to admit, he liked Todd. He and Blair appeared to be down to earth and loyal to the people they cared about.

"We like you too," John said, patting Todd on the back. "Now, if we're through with this emotional moment, it's time to get back to the party."

"Go on," Blair said, shooing Evangeline and John back inside. "We'll take care of the pumpkin head."

"She's going to wake up with quite a shiner and ready for revenge," Evangeline replied.

"Don't worry about a thing," Todd said with a devilish grin. "Natalie won't be bothering the two of you. I promise."


Michael stood at the bar waiting for the bartender to bring his beer, when the beautiful young woman took a seat next to him.

"Can I buy you a drink?" she smiled, making direct eye contact.

"Are you old enough to be drinking? " he asked, admiring the way the short black halter dress hugged ever curve on her toned body.

"Yes, I am," she chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Michael asked, taking a sip of his beer.

"You don't remember me, do you?" she asked, amused by his confusion.

"I would never forget a beautiful woman like yourself," Michael smiled. "But now that you mention it, the eyes look familiar."

"You use to call me String Bean," she teased.

She watched as his mind worked trying to place her from his past. Suddenly, the look of revelation crossed his face. "Adrianna Vega!"

"Give the man another beer," Adrianna instructed the bartender. "It's been a long time, Dr. McBain."

"It certainly has," Michael smiled, enjoying the turn of events. "How long have you been here in Lainview?"

"I've been here a few months. I'm just finishing up my Masters Degree in Physical Education at Lainview University.

"Really! That's great," he said. "So how do you like it here so far?"

"So far I like everything I see," she grinned, slowly looking him up and down.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were flirting with me," Michael chuckled.

"Is it working?" Adrianna whispered in a seductive tone.

"Definitely!" Michael replied closing the distance between them.

"Hey! What the hell is this?"

Michael turned around and stared into the face of his arch rival Christian Vega. "This is a private conversation," Michael replied, so why don't you act like the wind and blow.

"I'm not leaving without my sister. "Come on Adrianna we're leaving! I don't want you anywhere near a McBain." Christian stated forcefully.

"I'm not going anywhere!" Adrianna snapped. "For your information, I'm a grown ass woman capable of making my own decisions. So back off!"

"Don't talk to me in that tone!"

"Hey she told you to back off!" Michael shouted, taking a protective stance over Adrianna.

"You want a piece of me?" Christian demanded.

"Hey there's nothing here but space and opportunity!" Michael shot back. "Give it your best shot Chrissy!"

Adrianna knew she was opening a can of worms, when she decided to pursue Michael McBain. She had a crush a him since eighth grade and knew there was no love lost between her brothers and the McBains.

The Vega and McBain brothers were arch rivals since their days at Bayside Elementary. Christian and Michael were fierce rivals in sports. However, John and Antonio were intense rivals in everything, especially the game of love, where both crossed the line.

John was dating Tea Delgado, when Antonio returned to Atlantic City to attend the funeral of their high school football coach. He had graduated from New York University with a degree in Business Administration and talk of starting his own business. Within a matter of weeks, he and Tea were spending all their time together, while John was earing his degree in Criminal Justice. By months ends Antonio and Tea were an item. John was devastated.

Two years later Antonio started dating Caitlyn a beautiful red head, who taught Special Education. At the time Antonio was wrapped up in making his nightclub a success and spent little time with Caitlyn. Before he knew it, John McBain had returned to town and swept Caitlyn off her feet.

When news of Caitlyn's death reached Antonio, he blamed John's for death and for what could have been.

Adrianna was finally old enough to pursue a potential relationship with Michael and she wasn't going to let a family feud ruin her plans. She pulled Christian aside and spoke in a more soothing tone. "Look Cris, I appreciate you're wanting to protect me," she smiled.

"He's just going to break your heart," Christian sulked. "I just don't want to see you get hurt."

"But you can't protect me from life," she said rubbing his arm. "Trust me, I know what I'm doing, okay."

"Okay," Christian said, turning to Michael. "But if you hurt my sister, I'll kick your ass."

"I see you're still delusional," Michael smirked. "Don't worry, I have no intentions of hurting Adrianna."

"Fine," he said walking away.

"Now, where were we?" Michael smiled as he cuddled up next to her.

"I believe you were about to ask me on a date," she smiled.

"This has turned out to be one hell of a night!" he exclaimed.

"I'd say the best is yet to come," she said, as they raised their beers to the future.