Chapter 1

Definition of a Quadrangle - A polygon having four sides and four angles.

"Are you using my motherís diner as your office today?"

Evangeline Williamson looked up from her legal brief to find Cristian Vega scowling at her. Her interactions with him had been infrequent during the past weeks since his astonishing return to Llanview. The diner was far from empty and yet he chose to speak to her, which surprised her.

Breaking into a smile Evangeline answered, "Well, the coffee here is much better than what I have in my office. And Antonio asked for me to meet him here this afternoon."

Cristianís crappy mood dissipated a bit in the wake of Evangelineís warm greeting and smile. Just because Evangeline Williamson showed a severe lack of good judgment by dating John McBain, she did take on Antonio as a client during the investigation of Tico Santiís murder. And she had also represented Natalie against charges during Paul Cramerís murder investigation. Cristian had escaped to the diner to get away from the constantly questioning eyes of Natalie and Jessica and upon seeing Evangeline he wrongly assumed she was at the diner to meet John McBain. Immediately chagrined, Cristian offered an apology, "Sorry, that was rude of me. I know youíre helping out my brother and I appreciate it." Spying her almost empty coffee cup he grabbed it before Evangeline could speak. "Let me get you another cup of coffee."

Despite having reached her caffeine limit for the day, Evangeline accepted Cristianís awkward gesture as an apology for his brusque behavior. She watched him with open curiosity as he strode to the counter and refilled the cup with coffee. No doubt Cristianís conduct towards her stemmed from his intense dislike of John. He still very much held John responsible for the lost year when he was captured and kept away from Llanview. In a way she felt quite sorry for Cristian. He had probably gone through hell during his imprisonment yet everyone Ė Natalie, his family, friends, John, and even Evangeline herself Ė wanted him to resume the life heíd left as soon as possible.

Upon returning to the table Cristian placed the filled coffee cup in front of Evangeline. He didnít seem in a hurry to leave, and after a few seconds he asked, "What time is Tonio scheduled to meet you here?"

Glancing at the clock on the wall above the diner door and laughing, Evangeline replied, "Actually he is ten minutes late."

"Do you mind if I sit down and wait with you until he arrives? I have a quick question for him and then heíll be all yours."

Gesturing towards the booth seat opposite her, Evangeline said, "Yes, please sit down."

For some reason Evangelineís frank, assessing stare wasnít as unnerving to Cristian as having his family scrutinize his every move. His absentminded fingering of the salt and pepper shakers was the only sign of the nervousness he felt. "I donít suppose you can tell me anything about how the case against Tonio is going?"

Evangeline nodded as she replied, "Youíre right, I canít go into a lot of details. But Antonio hasnít been charged with anything yet so that points to lack of evidence by the police."

Wanting to change the subject from her work, she looked around the diner and commented, "I see Carlotta has taken down the holiday decorations already."

"Iím kind of glad the holidays are over," Christian sighed heavily.

"I know; all of the parties and shopping and general hustle and bustle can be overwhelming at times. And it must have been especially stressful for you since you had just arrived home." Out of sympathy Evangeline instinctively raised her hand slightly to touch Cristian, whose hand was only inches from hers but she arrested her movement as her hand lifted and instead touched her coffee cup. Evangeline was always very physical with clients and friends, constantly touching them and holding them to give them support, even with people whom she barely knew. It was her nature. It wasnít a matter of being overly familiar with people but a natural way for her to show compassion and empathy. When Cristianís gaze met hers, Evangeline pulled back from the friendly gesture, but he was quick enough to see what had happened.

"Yes, it was," Cristian agreed. "But you seemed to enjoy the holidays." Seeing how his observation puzzled her, he explained, "I saw you at the Christmas and New Years celebrations. You were soÖso happy at both parties." A twinge of jealousy accompanied Cristianís observation. Evangeline had been gloriously happy at the parties and no doubt it was partially due to McBainís presence. How could a man who had caused so much pain and turmoil in his and Natalieís lives possibly make someone as smart and obviously caring as Evangeline Williamson happy? Thinking back to the New Years Eve party, there was a moment when Evangeline was not joined to McBainís side and she was talking and laughing with someone else, probably a client of hers. During this moment Cristian had allowed himself to study her. He wanted to take his pencil and pad out to capture her infectious laughing and spirited image, but something stopped him from doing it. Remembering the picture she had presented, he somewhat shyly commented, "And you looked, well, you were beautifully dressed at both events."

Evangelineís eyes widened, momentarily stunned that a smiling Cristian Vega had complemented her. She was also shocked to realize she hadnít really seen him smile previously Ė not even on Christmas Eve nor on New Years Eve. "Wow, thank you," she said, slightly amazed how his mood had changed so fast. "I have to admit I wasnít expecting to do a lot of celebrating this holiday season but things turned out better than I expected."

"Because you were celebrating with McBain?" Immediately the thought of John McBain brought a sour mood to Cristian again.

"My goodness," Evangeline pondered about the young man sitting opposite her. Mercurial is the best way to describe Cristian Vega these days; his mood changes moment to moment. Even though she knew her words would have little or no impact, Evangeline could not stop herself from sharing her feelings in defense of John. She leaned forward and met Cristianís angry gaze with one of compassion. "Look Cristian. You have every right to be bitter about what happened to you and the year youíve lost. And yes, in a way John is responsible for some of that. But unlike the people who did actually kidnap you and hurt you, he has been tortured himself by feeling guilty about what happened. There is no way he can give you back that year but I know heís sorry and wishes nothing but the best for you and Natalie."

Cristian practically snorted and heatedly replied, "I donít give a damn about what heís been going through and what he wishes. I just want him to stay the hell away from me and from Natalie."

There was an awkward pause with neither Cristian nor Evangeline knowing what to say next, but fortunately the diner door opened and Antonio swiftly walked in.

"Iím sorry Iím late Evangeline. Cristian, hi." Sensing the tense atmosphere around his brother Ė which was typical these days Ė and Evangeline, Antonio asked, "Is everything alright?"

Standing, Cristian replied, "Yeah, everything is fine Tonio. Listen, Natalie told me you moved some of my painting equipment to storage but she didnít have the key. Can I get it from you?" Antonio reached inside his leather jacket pocket and extracted a key ring holding almost a dozen keys. He detached one and handed it to Cristian who quickly thanked his brother and then left the diner without saying goodbye.

Back | Next