Chapter Twenty:

ÖÖ. "Iíll meet you at the Palace at 5 pm." ÖÖ

When John arrived at the Palace for dinner on Sunday evening, Marcie, Mike and Evangeline were already there. As he walked up, he noticed how they were all laughing, but they stopped when they saw him. John became suspicious and asked, "Okay, why so silent all of a sudden?"

"What are you talking about John?" Michael replied innocently.

"Letís just say that I know you were talking about me. What I want to know is what did you tell them Mike?" John said in a strict tone.

Johnís tone reminded Michael of when they were growing up and John had to discipline him. He could never withstand the tone and always gave in, just like now. "Okay" he said. "I was just telling Evangeline and Marcie how when you were a little boy, you always played the cop, no matter what game we were playing. You remember. If we played cowboys and Indians, you were the sheriff. If we played GI Joe, you were an MP. My God, if we played Star Wars, you were an Imperial Guard. Law enforcement is in your blood man."

At Michaelís last statement, Evangeline and Marcie started to laugh again. By this time, John was sitting next to Evangeline and across from Michael and Marcie. John just winced as he realized that his brother was ratting him out to his girlfriend. Evangeline, picking up on his uncomfortableness, rubbed his arm and said, "I think that is the cutest story. Iíve always wondered how you were as a kid."

John smiled sarcastically and said, "Donít encourage Michael, Evangeline. If you tell him you think itís cute, heíll want to tell you more."

"Oh come on Johnny, uh, I mean John. Evangeline asked me how you were as a kid and I had to tell her" Mike replied.

"Okay" John said. "Marcie, would you like to hear the story about how Mike got caught playing doctor with SuzyÖÖÖ.."

"Okay everyone, I think we should order" Mike broke in before John could finish. "I get your point John. No more childhood stories unless youíre telling them about yourself."

Evangeline and Marcie just laughed. Evangeline found the dynamic between John and his brother interesting. It gave her more insight into John. While she looked at her menu, she grabbed Johnís hand under the table and smiled at him when he looked over at her.

Michael noticed how happy John was when he was in Evangelineís presence. He was truly happy for his brother because he knew how hard it had been on John after Caitlyn was killed. He never thought John would feel any joy again. He decided right then that he liked Evangeline and would be in her corner when it came to John or anything else.

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During dinner, the two couples laughed and talked about a little bit of everything. Michael told Evangeline about his years in Medical school and how Dr. Jordan Kingsley was such a slave driver at the hospital. Evangeline laughed at that and told Michael how much of a jokester that Jordan was in college. Once again at Evangelineís mention of Jordan, John kind of tensed up. He really wanted to know how close Evangeline and Jordan had been. "When did this happen?" he thought. "When did I become so possessive of her, especially when it comes to someone she knew way before she knew me? Am I jealous? Do I have the right to be?"

The mention of medical school and the hospital reminded John of Evangelineís mentee, Tamika. "Hey Mike" John said. "Evangeline is mentor to 4 high school girls in Philadelphia and one of them wants to become a doctor. I told her that the next time she comes over to see Evangeline, Iíd bring her to the hospital to meet you and maybe you could show her around. Would you be up for that?"

Evangeline just looked at John and smiled. He always surprised her, but she knew that if he told Tamika heíd do something, then he would.

"Sure, no problem" Mike replied. "Iíd be happy to. I know that when I was in high school, any input from anyone that was in the field I wanted to go into would have been great."

"Thanks Michael" Evangeline said. "I really appreciate you helping Tamika this way." She reached over and touched Michaelís hand.

"Enough of that" John said. "Heís just doing what I already volunteered him for."

Evangeline kissed John on the cheek and said, "Thank you too, John."

"Thatís more like it" John said.

The four of them laughed.

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Dinner was complete and Marcie and Evangeline had gone to the Ladyís Room. While Mike and John sat waiting for them to come back, Mike said, "Evangeline is great. You are one lucky guy John."

"You donít have to tell me that Michael" John replied. "She is just the best thing to happen to me since, well, you know what Iím trying to say."

"Yeah, I know what youíre trying to say. The fact that you can almost say it just shows me how much of an effect Evangeline has had on you."

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While they were in the Ladyís Room, Marcie told Evangeline how John seemed so much happier now than he did before when she first met him. Marcie said, "You are so great for him. Michael has always been so worried about John because of the way he shut down emotionally after Caitlynís death. John was always so closed off and following after Natalie to get her out of her messes did nothing for him. Youíve given him back his emotions."

Evangeline gave Marcie a hug and said, "Thanks for saying that Marcie. Iíll always be there for him if he wants me to be."

On their way back to the table, Marcie was telling Evangeline how she was nervous about all the contracts she had to sign in regards to her book. She said that having an agent and a publisher were overwhelming and not knowing them personally, she wasnít sure who to trust. As they sat at the table, Evangeline offered to look over Marcieís contract for her if it would put her mind at ease.

"Would you?" Marcie exclaimed. "It really would make me feel better. I donít know how much I could pay you though. I havenít gotten any residuals yet and my job at the Police Station is just enough to cover my student loans and everyday bills."

"Donít even think about paying me" Evangeline responded. "Consider it my birthday gift to you."

"Now itís my turn to say thanks to you Evangeline" Michael said. "Marcieís really been worried about this." Michael went to reach over to touch Evangelineís hand.

John put his hand over Evangelineís first and said, "Donít even think about it Mikey."

The four of them laughed again in unison.

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Michael looked at his watch and said, "Hey Marcie, weíve got to go."

"Yeah, youíre right" Marcie replied.

"What about you two guys? Are you leaving now too?" Mike asked.

John looked at Evangeline and said, "I have a taste for some chocolate. I think weíll stay for a little while." As he was saying it, he noticed how Evangelineís eyebrows kind of raised up and then she gave him this sly look.

Mike and Marcie said goodbye and left the Palace.

John turned back to Evangeline with a perplexed look on his face and said, "What was that look all about?"

Evangeline purred, "You have a taste for some chocolate, huh?"

Still perplexed, John said, "Yeah, I do." It took him a minute, but then he realized what could be inferred from his comment and he turned a bright red. He began to stammer.

Evangeline laughed and said, "I think this is the first time Iíve ever seen you tongue tied."

Finally, John was able to put together a coherent sentence and he said, "I meant I was in the mood for the Palaceís ĎDeath by Chocolateí cake. You should really get your mind out of the gutter."

"Oh McB" Evangeline said slyly. "You wouldnít know what I meant unless you were right in the gutter with me."

"Guilty as charged" he acquiesced. "Letís just say Iím in the mood for two kinds of chocolate tonight. One is cake and youíve already guessed the other."

Evangeline just smiled.

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After John ordered desert, he excused himself to the Menís Room. When he returned, he noticed that Evangeline was smiling and looking at a couple sitting across the restaurant. He said, "Whatís going on?"

"That guy over there just told his wife how beautiful she is. Itís so sweet" Evangeline replied.

John looked over and then he turned to her and said, "How do you know he said that? Can you read lips?"

"Oh" Evangeline said. "He signed it to her. I think one or both of them are deaf. Technically, Iím eavesdropping on their conversation and I should stop."

Incredulously, John asked, "You can understand sign language?"

"Yeah" Evangeline said and signed. "In college, Cynthia, Jordan, and I took American Sign Language as our language elective. I still remember some of it. Thatís actually where Cynthia and I met Jordan, in class."

John got a twinge again when the name of Jordan was mentioned. He blew it off though and said, "Youíre not going to believe this, but I know some American Sign Language also."

Evangeline said in an amazed tone, "You do? Did you take ASL in school too?"

"No" John said and signed. "When I was in the FBI, I worked with an agent that was deaf. Her name was Sue Thomas. She was great on stake outs because she could read peopleís lips. The other agents that worked with her and I learned some signs so that we could communicate with her and keep her safe. We learned how to sign get down, turn around, gun shots, and other stuff like that. Sue also taught us everyday stuff like phone, coffee, dinner, lunch, etc."

Evangeline just sat marveling at the fact that they had something else in common. "Small world" she said. "I canít believe that we both know some sign language."

John just nodded in agreement.

They ate their desert and headed back to Johnís room. As they walked in the door of his room, John smiled and said, "Iím ready for my second chocolate desert of the evening."

"I bet you are" Evangeline cooed as she shut the door behind them.

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