The following evening, Evangeline answered the knock at the door with a smile.
"Hey, Shannon. Come on in."
"Hi, Evangeline. Thank you again for inviting me," she said as she took off her coat and hung it on the coat rack. "What can I do to help you?"
"Well, youíre the first one here, so why donít you put that platter on the table. How is your boyfriend?"
"Iím like you in that respect. I donít have a boyfriend."
"You must have talked to John."
"Yeah, I did. I told him off. I love him, but he can be a jerk. Iím his cousin and I know that for a fact."
"Shannon, this is not his fault. It just looks like weíre headed in different directions. Itís better that we end it now, then to get in any deeper."
"You love him. Donít you?"
At that very moment, the doorbell rang.
"It looks like Iím saved by the bell."
"Donít count on it. I have all night to get that bit of information out of you."
Evangeline just laughed as she made her way to the door.
"Hey, Marcie and Nora. Come on in. Shannon is already here."
Greetings were shared among the women and they joked around while they got food and drink.
"Okay. We can do whatever you girls want to do. I got the Wedding Planner and Mona Lisa Smile, but we can just sit around and talk or whatever," Evangeline said, trying to provide some direction to the group. All the women were so different and yet had many things in common. They were all strong women who had few close friends. This was going to be a good chance for them to share a little bit of themselves with each other.
"I say we hash," said Shannon. "I donít know you and Nora very well and Iíd like to."
"That sounds good to me," said Nora. "What should we hash about?"
"First, letís get to know each other a little. We should tell each other what we do and something about ourselves that others donít know," Shannon replied, taking charge.
For an hour, the four women got to know each other and learned things that would never have been shared except for that night. That discussion helped to bond them as friends.
"Now, that thatís out of the way. Letís talk men," said Shannon with a smile.
"Everything we say here, stays here, right?" asked Marcie.
"Absolutely," said Shannon. Nora and Evangeline nodded in agreement.
"Iíve been really upset because Michael was going to ask me to marry him and he decided that it was best for me, since my book is being published and weíre both so busy, for us to wait. I was so excited when I realized that he was trying to propose and then he dropped that bombshell on me. Howís that for man talk?"
"Marcie, Michael loves you. Heís trying to do what he thinks is right," Nora said from her place across the coffee table.
"You should talk to him. If he told you he was going to propose, let him know that itís what you want, too," added Evangeline.
"Both of my cousins are idiots," Shannon said. Evangeline was sitting next to Marcie and had placed a comforting hand on her arm. Shannon moved to the other side and patted her shoulder. "I canít believe that Iím related to either of them. They are both doing stupid things that are going to cause them to lose the best thing that ever happened to either of them."
"ShannonÖ" Evangeline started.
"No, itís the truth. They are both so scared of losing whatís important to them that they make stupid decisions. Michael does love Marcie and even though I know theyíve been arguing over her agent, why wouldnít he ask her to marry him. They donít have to get married tomorrow. And donít get me started on John."
"Shannon, please," Evangeline cut in.
"This is a girlsí night and it all stays right here. If there was a picture in the dictionary next to the word idiot, it would be of John McBain. Heís miserable without you, but heís willing to let you go, because you said you were afraid of marriage and the two of you end up on different sides of cases. What did he expect? Youíre a defense attorney and heís a cop, but you both fight for justice."
"When did you tell him you were afraid of marriage?" asked Nora.
Evangeline sighed and looked at Shannon. Shannon just shrugged and smiled back at her.
"You know Iíll get you back, right?" Evangeline said to Shannon, before looking at Nora. "I actually didnít tell him that. I told John that I was afraid of divorce the day of Todd and Blairís wedding. I was just telling him about what Iíve seen in family court and how itís all a mess and most marriages end in divorce."
"I guess youíre parents divorce didnít help," Nora commented to no one in particular.
"No, it didnít. My parents were so much in love with each other or at least thatís what it looked like to me. Then my dad had an affair and my mom could never forgive him. The divorce was so ugly and I was pulled in both directions. I loved them both so much, but I was a daddyís girl and it was the hardest thing Iíve ever been through. I want to get married and have kids someday, but I just donít want to ever put myself or my children through that."
"Evangeline, you canít go through life afraid of having what you want. Look at me and Bo. God, I loved him so much and I guess on some level I still do, but we didnít work hard enough to forgive and forget the mistakes we made. I made. Thatís what marriage is all about. Itís a job that is by no means easy. Itís making a decision everyday that youíre going to make it work."
"Nora, I hear you, but that doesnít take that absolute terror of failure and loss out of the pit of my stomach."
"Well, you know what. That feeling in the pit of your stomach may not be so bad. At least it would keep you on your toes. What I mean is, when you find that man that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you need the paper, because you need to be reminded regularly that you made a commitment between the two of you and God. And know that ultimately God is in control. Thatís what I didnít do. I forgot that Iím not in control of all that happens. If Iíd remembered that, Bo and I would still together."
"Nora, Iím sorry."
"Donít be. This is all the result of some bad choices that I made. Because I know how I feel about Bo, Iím going to be completely honest with Daniel. I canít use him as a substitute and I think I need some time by myself. So this little girlsí night has been beneficial to me. Thanks to the young folk."
They all laughed, before Marcie turned to Evangeline and asked, "So, how are you about this breakup with John?"
"Iím okay. I really miss him. More than I thought possible."
"Now, back to my original question, do you love him?" asked Shannon.
"Yes, I do," Evangeline said after taking a moment to gather her thoughts. "And I donít know what to do about it. Between his busy work schedule and his need to rescue Natalie, he doesnít have time to have a relationship with me. Iím just as busy with work. Itís better this way. Enough about me and John, what about you, Shannon? What happened to Rex?"
Shannon glanced at Marcie, "You were right, heís not going to get over Jen and I finally realized that. I really liked him, but it wasnít going to work. Iíve been avoiding him for the last few weeks." She rose from the sofa and walked to the other side of the room before turning to face the other three women.
"Iím sorry, Shannon. I was protecting Jen then and I wasnít really thinking about you. I should have been. Iím also sorry that it turned out like I said," replied Marcie
"Thatís okay. I should have expected it. I always end up choosing a guy thatís in love with someone else."
"Shannon, I think part of the problem is that you donít know what youíre worth," Evangeline added.
"What does that mean?" she asked with a baffled look.
"It means that you donít have to settle. You are a beautiful, smart girl and you donít have to just take whatís handed out. Youíre special. Donít ever give anyone the power to belittle who you are. Remember youíre worth the best. He will come and heíll only have eyes for you. Just wait on him. Take you time now and focus on what you want out of your life for yourself. You have three friends now that you can talk too, so donít ever feel as if youíre by yourself," Evangeline said, rising from the sofa and going to give Shannon a hug. The other two women moved to make it a group hug. They stood there laughing and crying.
Nora finally broke up the embrace. "This is ridiculous. Here are four beautiful and talented women standing in the middle of a living room crying about the men in our lives. We are so much better than this. I donít really want to see the movies and now Iím hungry. Letís go to Rodiís for some of those famous onion rings and a game of pool."
"Youíre on," the other three women said in unison.
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