Chapter 1

"Help me."

Evangeline stiffened. Her hand squeezed the telephone, pressing it hard against her ear. The tension in her sister's voice scared her shitless. The move from Los Angeles to Llanview, Pennsylvania was supposed to keep Layla out of harm's way. Not shove her right into it.

"What's wrong?" Evangeline stood as she spoke. She began to pace. Her mind covered endless possibilities of trouble. Llanview wasn't without its shady characters. After defending the likes of Mitch Laurence and Todd Manning, Evangeline couldn't move away fast enough. She just barely escaped without getting suckered into a relationship with RJ Gannon. The club owner with the questionable past was smooth. Thankfully, she saw right through him.

"Layla!" She snapped when her sister didn't answer fast enough. Layla's rapid breathing echoed across the distance that separated them and heightened Evangeline's concerns. "You're scaring me! What is it?"

"Last night, I... Well, we drove to Atlantic City..." Layla's voice trembled. "I swear, Vangie, if you can get me out of this, I'll never ask you for anything else. And please, whatever you do, don't tell Mom."

Evangeline dropped onto the edge of her sofa and stared sightlessly at the empty fireplace. Her younger sister always had a flare for the dramatic. It came as no surprise when she chose a career in the theater. But the move to Llanview shocked the entire Williamson family, especially their mother. Lisa Williamson imagined her youngest on Broadway, not waiting tables at a Jazz club. Evangeline sighed. What could Layla have done that was so bad that telling their mother was off limits?

"Get you out of what?"

"Promise me you won't get mad—"

"Layla, it may be a little too late for that. Spill it. Are you in jail? Do I need to send bail money to Atlantic City?"

"No, I'm back in Llanview. God, I wish I had never left in the first place. I shouldn't have had that third shot of tequila."

"Tequila? Who were you drinking with? I told you about chasing after Antonio Vega," Evangeline said. "Dammit, why don't you ever listen? What did he do?"

"Antonio?" Layla released an unladylike snort. "He wouldn't spit on me if I was on fire and I wouldn't want him to! He's such a pompous jackass. He acts like—"

"If it's not Antonio, then who?" Evangeline knew that once her sister went on a tangent about the former cop, there was no side-tracking her. Layla always had a knack for hooking up with the wrong guy and she latched onto Antonio at first sight. Upon hearing ad nauseam about Layla's new boss, Evangeline weighed the possibility of moving back. Then, she remembered that her sister was an adult and more than capable of behaving as such. She should have known better.

"I'm waiting."

"I'm getting to it," Layla said. "It's his brother. Cristian invited me to share a bottle of tequila. I messed up by accepting."

"What did Cristian do?" Evangeline ran a hand through her long, thick mane. She hoped Layla would get to the point soon. It was already close to two in the morning and Evangeline had a deposition scheduled in seven hours.

"He didn't do it by himself. You see, I was mad at Antonio. He's so infuriating! When Cristian asked me to go with him to Jersey, of course I said yes."

Dear God, it was like pulling teeth!

"What happened in Jersey?" Evangeline asked through clenched teeth.

"Well...we got married."

"Dammit, Layla! Have you lost your mind?"

"It was the tequila! I swear, Vangie. Sure, I wanted to make Antonio jealous, but this is... I can't think straight. Cristian's laying here snoring and my head is starting to pound. I need your help big time. Can you work your lawyer magic and get me out of this?"

"I'll call someone I know—"

"No!" A colorful expletive quickly followed the sharp cry. "I need you here, Vangie. I'm scared he's gonna fight it and I may not be strong enough to disagree. I need your support. Please come, sis. I promise it's the last time."

"I wish I hadn't heard that before."

"You won't hear it again," Layla said. "I swear. Please."

Evangeline hated to hear her sister beg. "Sure, if I can clear my schedule, I'll be there by the afternoon."


"Yeah. Right."