Chapter Eighteen:

ÖÖ.As they both hung up for the night, they were both left with their signature smilesÖÖ.

Friday afternoon, Evangeline had received a phone mail message from John requesting that she meet him in the parking lot of Rodiís at 6:15 pm. He hadnít said why, but she was excited to just see him whenever it was. As she pulled into the parking lot, she saw him standing next to his car which was parked toward the back. As she pulled in the space next to him, she saw his gorgeous smile and his sparkling blue eyes. He opened her car door for her as she turned off her ignition. She remembered telling him hello and she thinks he said hello, but it all happened so fast. Before she knew it, he had shut her car door and was kissing her longingly as he pressed her up against her car. It brought back memories of the end of her date with him when they went to Philadelphia. She couldnít be certain, but she would swear that they physically melted into each other. As usual, when they kissed this way, they were forced to come up for air.

As their lips parted, making that smacking sound, John breathed, "Hey, how are you?"

Evangeline replied kind of lyrically, "Um, Iím great, especially now".

John smiled sheepishly and said, "Sorry about that. I just couldnít wait any longer to touch you. Iíve been thinking about that kiss for days. I should be able to control myself now".

"No problem", Evangeline replied. She was still a little wobbly on her feet. "I should be able to control myself too".

They both laughed as he took her hand and they walked into Rodiís. They spotted Michael sitting at a table across the room. He waved them over. The table was for 7. John asked who else would be there and Michael told him that Shannon, Jennifer and Riley would be there too. He went on to explain that it was Marcieís birthday and that he was surprising her by having them there.

Evangeline said, "Michael, you should have let me know sooner. I would have brought Marcie something to celebrate".

Michael said, "You didnít have to bring her anything. Sheíll just appreciate you guys being here with us to celebrate".

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As Shannon, Jennifer and Riley came in and went over to the table, none of them noticed that Natalie was working behind the bar and that Jessica was sitting there talking to her. Natalie was staring at John as he stared at Evangeline. She couldnít believe the way he looked at Evangeline.

Natalie said, "I just canít get over how he drools over her. What is it? I thought you said she was going to back off? Obviously, she didnít listen to you".

Jessica retorted, "Some people just canít take a hint I guess. You should just be patient. I canít see her staying with him for long". Seeing them together and remembering what Evangeline had said to her at the station that day just made Jessica mad all over again.

As Jessica stewed about it some more, she couldnít control herself and she got off her bar stool and walked over to Evangeline. "Excuse me, Evangeline", she said. "May I talk to you over here for a minute?"

Evangeline replied, "Jessica, this really isnít a good time. Weíre waiting for Marcie to show up. Can we talk some other time?"

Jessica was insistent, so Evangeline excused herself from the table and walked over by the door with Jessica to talk. John gave Jessica a perturbed look as they walked away and then he turned to catch Natalie staring and he gave her a perturbed look also.

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When Jessica and Evangeline reached the area of the room over by the door, Jessica said, "Iím sure youíd be getting in contact with me, but I just wanted to let you know that Iíll testify on Antonioís behalf at the custody case for Jamie".

"Thatís very nice of you Jessica", Evangeline replied, "but I donít think it will be necessary".

At this statement, Jessica lost it and she said in a hushed yell, "Look, Evangeline, donít let your personal annoyance with me and the comments I made about you and John keep you from defending Antonio to the best of your ability. You need me to help out your case. Letís face it, you donít want the same outcome as your last custody case, do you?!?"

Just as Evangeline was about to unload on Jessica, Antonio walked up and heíd heard Jessicaís last comment. He replied, "Jessica, we donít need you to testify. Actually, your testimony could hurt me. RJ was always harping on how you were trying to take Keriís place. I donít need that brought up. Now if youíll excuse us, I need to talk to my lawyer".

Jessica was flabbergasted and could do nothing but to walk away from Antonio and Evangeline and head back over to the bar.

Antonio turned to Evangeline and said, "Sorry about that. She refuses to let go".

"Itís okay Antonio", Evangeline said, "but maybe you should let her know whatís going on with you. She loves you. You know that".

"I canít", he said. "It will make since later, but I just canít right now".

"Whatever you say Antonio", she replied. "Were you looking for me?"

"Yeah", Antonio stated. "I just wanted to tell you that Iíd be out of town for the next couple of days, but when I get back, we can go over my testimony in the case".

"Okay", Evangeline said. She knew better than to ask what he was up to.

Antonio left Rodiís as Evangeline headed back to the table.

Jessica, Natalie and John had been watching Antonioís and Evangelineís exchange. When John saw that Antonio was leaving, he went passed Evangeline after Antonio. He told Evangeline to excuse him for a minute.

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John yelled after Antonio to catch him before he got into his car. John said, "Antonio, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Antonio turned to the sound of Johnís voice and kind of winced. He said, "What is it?"

John said, "I just wanted to know how you were doing. I know that RJ has brought this custody case against you and that must be hard. Also, I wanted to offer you my help if youíre still trying to find out who this El Tiburon is".

"John", Antonio said. "I appreciate you offering, but you know you canít help me the way I need to be helped. Just let me do this on my own. Okay?"

"Okay", John said kind of dejectedly as Antonio turned away and got into his car.

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While John was outside talking to Antonio, Evangeline had sat back at the table and was talking to Shannon. She asked Shannon, "How are you doing? Have there been any more mishaps at the Love Center?"

Shannon sighed and said, "No, but I think they still think that I did the other things. I swear to you though, I didnít".

Evangeline said, "I believe you Shannon. If there ever comes a time when you need my help, just call me. Okay?"

"Thanks Evangeline", Shannon said. "Iíll keep that in mind. See, I knew you were special when I found your lipstick and makeup bag at Johnís that day".

"What?" Evangeline responded. "What do you mean?"

"Remember the day when you came to get your makeup bag from Johnís room and I was leaving when you got there?" Shannon asked. "Well, before you got there, I was asking John whose stuff that was. I knew it wasnít Natalieís because the color of the lipstick wasnít right for her and John was never that happy after spending any time with her".

"Really", Evangeline inquisitively replied. "Tell me more".

"Didnít John tell you that I asked about you?" Shannon questioned. "Didnít he tell you that I gave you the thumbs up behind your back as I was leaving?"

Evangeline smiled and said, "No, Shannon. No he didnít".

"No who didnít what?" John asked as he came walking back up to the table.

Evangeline turned and said, "No you didnít tell me that Shannon gave me the thumbs up that day I passed her coming out of your room".

John looked shocked and set his gaze on Shannon. He was almost speechless and then he said, "Shannon, what have I told you about telling your stories. Not everyone needs to hear them you know".

Shannon just smiled.

Evangeline said, "Stories as in plural, huh? What else have you got on John, Shannon?"

As Shannon opened her mouth to say something, John cut her off. He said, "Look you two, weíre here to celebrate Marcieís birthday, not try to embarrass me".

Evangeline and Shannon just laughed. Right then, Marcie came walking in and Michael had everyone yell, "Surprise!"

John thought to himself, "Thank God Marcie came in when she did. Who knows what Shannon would have blurted out next".

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Marcie was excited that everyone there had come to help her celebrate her birthday. She thanked each of them individually and said she really appreciated it. Everyone discussed her book and asked when theyíd get to read it and she told them about her getting an editor and how she had to make a few changes. Everyone told her how exciting it all sounded. John teased her about writing part of it during her late night hours at the station. She just blushed and thanked him for his back handed input. After all, she really had to pull information out of him. Evangeline just smiled because she knew that was vintage John, never offering up any extraneous information.

Natalie brought out a cake that Michael had preordered and sat it in front of Marcie. Under her breath, Natalie said a quick, "Happy Birthday" and went back up to the bar. Evangeline and John noticed that Natalie didnít seem that happy.

Michael tried to get them all to sing Happy Birthday to Marcie, but it ended up only being Riley and Evangeline. John was amazed that Evangeline had a great voice. He thought to himself, "The more I learn about her, the deeper Iím falling for her. Who would have known that she could sing, just like my Mom."

After everyone ate cake, Michael had to go back to the hospital and Marcie had a shift at the station to go to. Evangeline told Michael that he should take a piece of cake back to the hospital to Jordan and to tell him that she said hello.

At first John was kind of taken aback, but then he remembered, Evangeline and Jordan have known each other for a while. It bothered him a little and he decided then that heíd ask her when he got the chance, how close she and Jordan Kingsley were.

As everyone dispersed to leave, John told Michael and Marcie that theyíd have to do dinner some other time, just the 4 of them. They all agreed that that was a good idea.

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