Chapter 1

Evangeline pushed the cart to the produce department of the Whole Foods Grocery store looking for broccoli to use in a quiche sheíd decided she would try.

"Evangeline, hi," Marcie said as she placed a bag of salad in the basket she was carrying.

"Hey, Marcie. How are you?"

"Iím good."

"Thatís great after you passed out at the hospital."

"How did you know about that?"

"Well, I have my sources."

"Yeah, right. Michael McBain," she said with a frown.

"Hey donít be upset with Michael. He loves you. We were just talking and you came up. Heís worried about you. He just doesnít want you to push yourself too hard when he thinks youíre perfect as you are," Evangeline said with a sincere look.

"I know," she said with a sigh. "He doesnít need to worry though. Iím not working out as hard and Iím doing better about eating right."

"Iím sure heíll be glad to hear that."

"Yeah. Howís John?"

"You havenít talked to Michael, have you?"

"Not today. Why?"

"John and I arenít seeing each other anymore."

"What? But, that doesnít make any sense. You two look so good together, so happy. Heís been a different person since he started seeing you."

"Well, thanks I think, but things just werenít working out, so we ended it."

"NatalieÖ"

"Huh? What about Natalie?"

"Sheís been chasing John since Cristian supposedly died. For a while I thought they would get together, but I realized that she had nothing to offer him. All they had in common was loss. I mean, he was her hero. He saved her whenever she was in trouble, but that was all he could do. I know he felt guilty for Crisí death, but Cris isnít dead and I donít understand why he even gave her the time of day when he had you."

"Well, thanks, but all of thatís beside the point. Hey, how about you come over to my place tomorrow night? I thought a girlsí night might be fun for the holidays; just movies and junk food, healthy for you in this eating right endeavor. Iím having Nora over and I think Iím going to invite Shannon, too."

"I didnít know that you and Shannon were close."

"Well, weíve talked on occasion and I think she needs some female friends, so I want to be there for her if I can."

"Even though sheís Johnís cousin."

"John has nothing to do with me and Shannon. Just like he has nothing to do with how I feel about Michael or you."

"Well, Iíd love to come."

---------------

Evangeline found herself at Llanview University that afternoon speaking with one of the Political Science professors about her doing a series of lectures in the spring. She was excited about the prospect to influencing the next generation in their career choices and outlook on the world around them.

"Evangeline! Evangeline!" she heard as she was leaving the building. She turned to see Shannon McBain walking down the sidewalk toward her.

"Hey, Shannon, what are you doing here? Classes are over for the fall."

"I had to pick up a book from one of my classmates that Iíll need in a couple of weeks."

"Oh, well, I was planning on talking to you later."

"Really, what about?"

"Iím having a couple of girlfriends over to my place tomorrow night and I was going to invite you."

"Really?"

"Really. Would you like to come?"

"Are you just doing this because Iím Johnís cousin? You donít have to feel like you have to include me with your friends."

"Actually, John has nothing to do with this. I know that you donít have a lot of girlfriends and I wanted you there."

"A lot of girlfriends? Try any."

"Well, think of this as an opportunity to change that. Iíd really like you to come."

"Okay, Iíd love too."

---------------

John was sitting in his office looking over Antonioís file, when his door opened.

"You donít know how to knock?" he asked.

"I didnít think I had to. I could see you were by yourself and I am family," Shannon responded. "Why are you so grouchy?"

"Iím not grouchy. What are you doing here?"

"I just stopped by to tell you what a really cool girlfriend you have."

"I donít have a girlfriend," he said in a disgruntled voice.

"Okay, what do you consider Evangeline?"

"Evangeline is not my girlfriend. We arenít seeing each other anymore."

"What did you do?"

"Why did I have to do anything?"

"Because Evangeline is great. Youíre a different person with her. You had to do something."

"Well, I didnít do anything. We decided that we were better off not seeing each other," he said not looking at Shannon.

"And youíre okay with that?"

"Yeah, Evangeline and I are too busy for each other and I donít think she wants anything long term."

"And why do you think that?"

"Shannon, Iím not talking to you about this."

"Why? You still hiding behind your work to avoid any entanglements?"

John looked at Shannon and sighed, before saying, "We had a talk and she mentioned that she was afraid of marriage."

"OkayÖ."

"Shannon, thereís no future there."

"So she says sheís afraid of marriage and you give up. Sheís a woman, sheís afraid of getting hurt. We all are. Youíre a Coward. I never thought Iíd say that to you, but itís the truth," Shannon said, as she turned and walked out the office, leaving John with a confused look on his face.

----------------

"Hello."

"Hey, Evangeline. What time tomorrow are we on for?"

"I thought seven oíclock. Is that good for you?"

"Yeah. Iíll bring the drinks."

"Cool. Marcie and Shannon will be there, too."

"Why Marcie and Shannon? I didnít know that you were close to either of them."

"Well, Marcie was with Michael when I was attacked in that train station and sheís going through some things right now. Plus, Iíve been working with them at the Love Center. As for Shannon, sheís a girl with a lot of promise who doesnít know her own worth. Iíd been planning on spending some time with her, but just havenít taken the time and I thought this would be a good one."

"Okay. You, me and the young crowd, huh?"

"Absolutely. Weíre trying to keep you young," Evangeline said with laughter in her voice.

"Hey, watch it," Nora exclaimed. "Do you need me to bring anything else?"

"Nope, I have junk food and Iíll take care of the movies."

---------------

"Hey, stranger."

"Hey," Michael said responding to Marcieís hello with a kiss. "I thought you were having dinner with Jen."

"I am, but I wanted to stop by a see you," she said as she glanced down the hall of the hospital. "I talked to Evangeline earlier today and she told me that she and John had broken up. I was really shocked."

"I know it. I couldnít believe it when he told me."

"What happened?"

"I donít know exactly what happened, but it has something to do with them going in opposite directions."

"That is ridiculous. Iíd thought he and Natalie would work out, but anyone with eyes can see that he and Evangeline belong together."

"Thatís what I told him. He kept telling me that he was with Evangeline, then this. It doesnít make any sense, but then again itís my brother and heís always looking for an excuse to keep people at arms length."

"I canít believe he would do that to Evangeline. I know that she took Antonio as a client in the whole Santi mess, but heís her friend. Knowing Evangeline after working with her at the Love Center, she would have done it regardless of who was investigating the crime."

"I know that and I think he knows that, too. I think itís something else. I just havenít figured out what yet."

"Well, he needs to come to his senses. Sheís beautiful and smart and she will not be waiting around for him. Sheís the best thing that could happen to him and he needs to realize that. By the way, tomorrow since youíre scheduled to work, Iíll be at Evangelineís for a girlsí night."

"What will the girls be doing?" he asked with a frown.

Marcie laughed at his expression and kissed him. "Weíll just be hanging out and maybe watching some movies. Nothing for you to worry about."

"Well, have lunch with me tomorrow and Iím all for it," he said with a smile and a kiss.

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