Chapter 9

A date with Michael McBain. What on earth made me say yes? Evangeline wondered. Sure, he was nice, funny and handsome, but she had sex with his brother for goodness' sakes! Was she out of her mind? This was some silly crap that Layla wouldn't think twice to pull. Evangeline usually had better sense than this.

The phone suddenly vibrated with a shrill ring. She hated hotel phones and their lack of caller ID. Only God knew who was on the other end. Drawing in a breath of courage, she answered the phone.


"Hey, sis!"

"Hi." Evangeline exhaled a sigh of relief. "What's up?"

"I can't thank you enough for last night. Mrs. Vega was all set to rake me over the coals, but when you showed up, everything changed."

"I doubt if I did anything," Evangeline said. She looked at the outfits strewn across the bed. The all-purpose little black dress seemed too inviting and suggestive. She mentally crossed it off her list and moved on to her favored choice: blue jeans and a purple sequined top. She'd definitely feel more comfortable in that.

"She thinks a lot of you. Even Cris noticed the difference."

Evangeline frowned. The dreamy way Layla said Cristian's name worried her. Did her sister realize how deeply she was falling for the handsome artist? "You and your hubby looked pretty relaxed together."

"He's not so bad." Layla's tone was instantly defensive. "Look, I know I begged you to come here to annul the marriage and I've been putting you off... I just need a little more time, okay?"

"I'm not rushing you."

"You haven't said anything to Mom, yet, right?"

"Not a word."

"Thanks," Layla said. "Where is Michael taking you?"

"I don't have the slightest idea. I may call and cancel. I'm not even dressed."

"Well, get off the phone and get ready!"


"Michael is a cool guy and not half as uptight as his crazy brother. It's not like you'll run off to Atlantic City and elope with the guy." Layla laughed. "It's just a date. No harm, no foul."

Evangeline chuckled half-heartedly. "Yeah, right. I'll try to remember that."

"You can do better than try. He likes you. You like him. Just relax and have fun. You're long overdue for some fun, you know."

Evangeline was so overdue that she couldn't think straight. "Believe me, I know."

Their call ended soon after and Evangeline quickly showered and dressed. When Michael arrived forty-five minutes later, she was just dabbing her favorite perfume behind her ears. She greeted him with a smile and his was bright and happy.

"You look great." He bent forward and kissed her cheek. "I hope that was okay. You smell so good that I couldn't resist."

She couldn't help but blush at such a blatant compliment. "It's fine and thank you."

"Are you ready?"

"Let me grab my purse and my jacket."

"Allow me." He moved past her and lifted both from the chair. After they left her room and headed toward the elevator, he said, "I hope you took a nap."


"Because I don't want you conking out on me. I planned a great time for us tonight."

"I think I'll make it without conking out. Where's our destination?"

Smiling, he shook his head. "You'll find out soon enough."

When the elevator arrived, he took her hand and they stepped inside. Anticipation danced like butterflies in Evangeline's belly. She was surprised to realize that she was enjoying this.

~* ~

"You're not working tonight, are you?" Cristian covered his latest work of art with a sheet. All afternoon, Layla tried several times to get a sneak peak. Her tactics amused him, but he didn't fall prey to them. He easily thwarted her curiosity and continued with his latest project without her becoming any wiser to its subject.

"Nope. I have tonight off." She plopped onto the sofa and flipped through one of her acting books. "I need to add another monologue to my repertoire."

"Tonight?" After washing his hands, he joined her on the sofa. Peering over her shoulder, he glanced at the title of the play. "'The Taming of the Shrew' by William Shakespeare. Let me guess which character you're focusing on." He laughed.

She fixed her narrow-eyed gazed on him. "Should I be offended?"

"Not at all," he said, completely serious. "I'm sure you'll be wonderful in whatever character you choose."

"That's a lot better than laughing. Thanks." She chuckled once, proving that she hadn't been really mad at him.

"Do you have to do that tonight?"

"What's the big deal about tonight?" she asked.

"Nothing." He shrugged. "Except I'd like to go dancing."

"Dancing?" Her eyebrows rose in disbelief. "You? You can dance?"

"Have you ever seen Antonio dance?"

She nodded. "He's good."

"Who do you think taught him all those moves?"

She stared at him and then she punched his arm. "Yeah, right. You didn't!"

"Oh, yes, I did. All those moves with his hips and pelvis..." He leaned in close and whispered against her ear. "Come on, Layla, think about it."

Her tongue flicked across her lower lip and her eyelids drooped ever so seductively. The look on her face made him want her a thousand times more than he usually did. If she said no to dancing, he had other ideas for how they could spend their evening.

Just as the thought entered his mind, she hopped from the sofa and headed for the closet. "Don't just sit there! We can't go dancing with you dressed like that."

Damn, Cristian thought. Me and my big mouth.

"Are you sure you don't want to stay home?" he asked.

"Oh, no. I want to see you move it like Antonio." She gave him a huge, teasing smile. "Now, hurry up!"

"Sí, Mrs. Vega. Your wish is my command."