Part 1

'What the hell does Evangeline have to do with this?'

The question and defensive tone echoed inside John McBain's head. He knew he came off as defensive, but no more so than when John threw Nora's name back at Bo. The two men paused a split second to glare at each other before returning to their respective corners.

John dodged into the restroom. After finishing his business and washing his hands, a glimpse of his reflection stopped him cold in his tracks. Lines etched from the corner of his eyes and mouth. Dark circles created bizarre constellations under his eyes. And to top it all off, his beard needed a trim. He splashed water over his face and grudgingly acknowledged that Bo had a point. He looked like shit.

Worry about Antonio's journey toward the dark side took up a good part of his day. He ran around in circles with the Bureau and with trying to save his friend from himself only to find that Antonio didn't want his help. The cold biting truth nipped John where it hurt. The deaths of his father and Caitlin forced him to keep his emotions in check. Getting involved left him open for hurt and disappointment. But somehow, Antonio sneaked in under the radar. He cared about the other man like a brother. Knowing that their friendship had hit a dead in made him long for retreat. Back inside his shell. Back inside himself.

Then, his cell phone rang.

He left the restroom and as he hurried toward his office, he answered the call. "McBain."

"Hi, John. How are you?"

His body sighed at the sound of Evangeline's voice. A smile came easily to his face. "Evangeline. It's been a rough few days. How's San Fran?"

"Chilly but beautiful. My hotel room had a gorgeous view of the Bay."

"Sounds like you're having a good time." He entered his office and closed the door. "Should Llanview worry?"

She laughed. "Not at all. In fact, I'm at SFO."

His chest tightened with anticipation. Was he a fool to get his hopes up? "Are you coming back?"

"I sure am. I can't decide if you sound disappointed or relieved."

His voice dropped to a husky growl. "You don't have to wonder."


After the run-in with Antonio, John decided a break from the job was in order. The El Tiberon threat and Isabella Santi's death still tormented his mind, but for awhile, he planned to push it aside. So, he left his work and headed to Llanview International Airport.

Nervous excitement coursed through him as he watched the plane land. Endless seconds passed while he waited not so patiently for the doors to open. Then, like a breath of fresh air, Evangeline stepped inside the terminal. Her eyes scanned the waiting area. When their gazes locked, surprise registered on her face. Uncertainty swept through him in that moment. She hadn't asked him to meet her. Maybe she had other plans. Maybe this was a bad idea.

"Hi," he said, "I was in the neighborhood and…here I am."

An infectious grin made her appear more adorable than usual. She hitched her bag onto her shoulder and took the short steps to him. In the next instant, her arms wrapped around him, hugging him close and putting an end to his concerns.

"Thanks," she said after he ended their embrace with a kiss. "I was kinda hoping you'd be here."

He took her bag and reached for her hand. With a frown, he said, "You could have asked me to pick you up."

"I didn't want you to feel obligated," she said quietly.

"I don't. I'm here because I want to be. I'm trying with this communication thing. You can do the same."

She released a cute chuckle and elbowed his side. "Duly noted. I won't make the mistake again."

"See that you don't."

He looked her over from head to toe. She wore a trademark business suit that fit her in all the right places. As usual, she garnered her fair share of stares. And as usual, she seemed oblivious to it all. Her gaze wandered around the airport before connecting with his. Caught staring, he laughed and she joined him.

"I can't believe this is all you took to San Francisco."

"I went there on business."

"With only a briefcase." He cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah, right."

She playfully rolled her eyes. "Okay, okay. You got me. I checked a couple of things."

"Only a couple?" Humor hinted in his husky voice.

"Alright already. Enough. Yes, only two."

"One for your clothes and one for your shoes."

She stopped and gave him a look. "How did you know?"

"I'm not giving all my secrets away." They headed to baggage claim. As they waited at the turnstile, he said, "You don't have plans after this."

"Are you asking or telling?"

"Both." He laughed as she nudged him again. "Relaxing after a long flight is required. I have the perfect evening planned."

"I'm all ears."

He tilted his head, allowing his gaze to rove over the swell of her hips and curve of her breasts. "No, you're not."

She wasn't too self-assured to blush. "What's the plan?"

"You, me and zero distractions. Does that work for you?"

"It's perfect," she said softly. "I can hardly wait."

"Neither can I."

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