Evangeline stepped off the train and onto the platform. She shouldered her overnight case and kept a firm hold on her purse. Llanview seemed laidback compared to Washington, D.C., but she knew better than to believe the façade. Llanview was not without its skeletons and she planned to get out before a bag of bones fell and knocked her flat on her butt.
As she climbed into the back of a taxi, she considered calling Layla. A little under twelve hours had passed since their last conversation. Married in Atlantic City! Evangeline didn't want to believe it. Of all Layla's antics, this one certainly outdid them all. For months, Layla related her pursuit of Antonio to something like a game of survival. To marry his brother proved that the girl had finally gone off the deep end. Make him jealous? No, this would infuriate him to no end.
Evangeline stopped at the Palace and took a room. After dropping her luggage in her room, she headed to the bar. The sophisticated setting hadn't changed much since she'd been gone. It was hard to believe that a year had passed. One whole year where she wondered if she'd done the right thing by running away.
Many nights, she dreamed about a dark basement, a shared bottle of wine and an incredible night of passion. What would have happened between her and John McBain if she hadn't played coward and stayed? They swore it was just a one-time, no regrets thing. Deep in her soul, she knew that something more lingered just below the surface. Before either suggested the silly idea of exploring the possibilities, she cut tail and ran. If she had the chance, she'd do it all over again. Maybe.
She bought a paper at the bar and read the headlines:
Killing Club Killer Caught! The Agent Did It
She exhaled a sigh of relief. A serial killer running loose in Llanview had set her entire family's nerves on edge. Thank God Layla had been safe from that. Now if only Evangeline could save her younger sister from herself, then she'd be on to something.
She folded the paper and stood. Procrastinating was not usual MO. Layla needed her. There was no point to putting off the inevitable.
* * *
Layla stifled a moan as Cristian rolled onto his back. The black silk sheets glided over his chiseled chest like a sensual caress. Long lashes fanned his cheeks as he opened his eyes and fixed his hooded stare on her. Excitement rippled through her. She quickly turned her back on him and continued searching for her clothes.
"Come here, Mrs. Vega. Let me show you a proper good morning."
"First of all, it isn't morning." She lifted her jeans from the floor and shook out the wrinkles. "And if it's anything like the proper good night you showed me, I don't want a replay."
"Liar." He laughed softly. "The way you clawed my back...you enjoyed it as much as I did. I dare you to deny it."
"I'm not playing word games with you. Have you seen my bra?"
"Skimpy little red thing with cups about this size?"
She glanced over shoulder to see him indicating the measurements with his hands. He grinned when their gazes locked.
"Well?" she bit out.
He smirked. "I haven't seen it."
He folded his arms behind his head. The sheet dipped lower, revealing the sexy indentation of his navel. "You're welcome to search me."
She pulled on her panties and stepped into her jeans. His baggy t-shirt fell to her thighs. When she found her spandex top, she'd give his shirt back. Her hair fell into her eyes as she dropped to her knees to look for her sandals. His studio was the Bermuda triangle for her clothes.
"Whatcha looking for now?"
"Why? The honeymoon is just getting started."
"No, it's ending. Right now."
He sat up. "What are you so afraid of?"
"Nothing. Getting married was stupid. We were drunk, for goodness sakes. You don't want to be married to me anymore than I want to be married to you."
"Who says?" he asked, frowning. "A few shots of tequila weren't enough to knock me senseless. I knew what I was doing last night. I thought you did, too."
"I was being reckless. That part of my life is over. I came here to get a new start, not to have any more foul-ups."
"This isn't a foul-up," he argued. "We can make this work."
"You've gone loco. You're still hung up on your ex."
"And you still want my brother."
"There's nothing between Antonio and me. I just work for him."
"Right," he said with sarcasm.
His tone irked her. She hopped to her feet and moved to stare down at him. "What do you know about it?"
Faster than a speeding bullet, he caught her wrist and pulled her onto his lap. His hands settled at her waist. The sheet did little to shield her from the heat of his thighs. She squirmed to get loose before she did something stupid. But it was too late. He bent forward and nuzzled her neck. Goosebumps prickled her flesh. The betrayal of her body was instantaneous.