Chapter Twenty Eight:

ÖÖAs they drove away, John thought to himself, "oh yeah, she is definitely going to come back to me."Ö..

For the last two days, all Evangeline could do was think about John and how much she missed him. Spending time with him and the girls seemed so natural to her. However, she still felt like she was doing what was best. So, she decided to take her mind off of her own love life and put it on Cynthiaís. Evangeline called Cynthia to set things in motion.

"Hello," Cynthia said as she answered her phone. "This is Cynthia. How may I help you?"

"Hey Cynthia, its Evangeline," Evangeline replied.

"Hey, Evangeline," Cynthia responded excitedly. "Whatís up?"

"Iíve been thinking Cynthia," Evangeline started.

"Uh oh," Cynthia said as she laughed.

"Iíve been thinking," Evangeline started again. "You and Jordan need to see each other in person and stop asking me about each other."

"What?" Cynthia exclaimed. "Where is this thought coming from?"

"Well," Evangeline said slowly. "Iíve thought a lot about love and being with that special person lately and if I canít be with John, at least you and Jordan should be together. You still love him."

"You can be with John," Cynthia stated. "You just have to get over your fear, but you will."

"No," Evangeline protested. "I canít. For Johnís sake, itís better this way, or at least I hope it will be."

"Oh, Evangeline," Cynthia said sympathetically. "I guess I understand what youíre trying to do. I donít understand why you want to throw me into the fire though."

Evangeline laughed and said, "Iím not trying to throw you into the fire Cynthia. I just know that you and Jordan were very much in love when we graduated and you let stubbornness and ambition get in your way. Face it. Youíve never met anyone else that has come any where close to Jordan in your eyes."

Cynthia thought about it for a minute while the phone line was silent, then she said, "Okay, letís say youíre right. Why do something about it now? Iím more than sure that Jordan has moved on."

"He hasnít," Evangeline stated emphatically. "He asks me about you just as much as you ask me about him."

"Really?" Cynthia said skeptically.

"Really," Evangeline said.

"What do you want me to do?" Cynthia asked.

Evangeline said, "What if I asked Jordan to meet both of us for lunch tomorrow afternoon? Itís a Sunday. You donít have to work and you could come over here to Llanview."

"I donít know, Evangeline," Cynthia said hesitantly. "Do you think Jordan will go for it?"

"Yes, I do," Evangeline said. "Should I call him?"

Finally, Cynthia said, "Okay. You can call him. For the record, Iím doing this partially for you so you can occupy your thoughts with something other than John."

Evangeline laughed as she said, "Thanks."

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Evangeline had called Jordan and he hesitantly agreed to meet her and Cynthia for lunch. He asked if they could meet at Rodiís because it was close to the hospital and heíd be on duty that afternoon. As Evangeline and Cynthia entered Rodiís, they saw Jordan had already gotten them a table. Evangeline could tell that Cynthia was a little nervous. She touched Cynthiaís arm for support as they headed for the table. Evangeline also noticed that Jessica was sitting at the bar talking to Natalie, who was working.

Jordan stood and said, "Hi Evangeline. Hi Cynthia, long time no see."

"Hey Jordan," Evangeline replied.

"Hi Jordan," Cynthia said.

They all sat and started to look at the menu. Evangeline noticed Jordan stealing glances at Cynthia and Cynthia stealing glances at Jordan. Evangeline thought to herself, "I think they still have that look of love in their eyes."

Natalie came over to take their order and she was a little more rude than usual. Cynthia said, "What is her problem?"

Evangeline replied, "Who knows? Thatís the Natalie I told you about."

"Oh," Cynthia said understandingly. "Sheís the one whose sister said you were keeping from John."

"Yeah," Evangeline said. "As a matter of fact, thatís her sister up there at the bar."

Evangeline got Jordan and Cynthia to talk about generic subjects until they felt more comfortable with each other. As Natalie gave them their food, she gave Evangeline a look.

When Natalie returned to the bar, she said to Jessica, "Can you believe her? Did you see that headline in The Sun? She could be putting Johnís job in danger. On top of that, she broke up with him."

"I told you that John should be with you," Jessica replied.

"Yeah you did," Natalie said. "I just canít believe I messed around with Paul and let Evangeline worm her way into Johnís life. I wonít make that mistake again."

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Marcie, Shannon and Jennifer had walked into Rodiís to pick up some food for the Love Center crew as Natalie was making her statements about Evangeline. Marcie overheard everything and was fuming. She had finally had enough of Natalie Vega and decided to give her a piece of her mind.

"You know Natalie," Marcie started. "You should really keep your comments to yourself when you donít know whatís going on."

"What are talking about?" Natalie asked confused.

"I heard what you said about Evangeline," Marcie said. "You should keep your uninformed opinions to yourself."

"Yeah," Shannon piped in. "Donít talk about what you have no idea about."

Natalie started in with her cocky attitude and sarcastically said, "I can say whatever I please and just because Iím right about Evangeline, you shouldnít get so upset."

Marcie moved closer into Natalieís face and said, "Thatís it. You know, Natalie, you think you can say whatever you want, to whoever you want, whenever you want. Well, Iím here to tell you that you canít. You act like this whole town should revolve around you because you lost the love of your life, Christian. Guess what? A lot of us have lost people that we loved. I lost Al, Jen lost her dad, your Uncle Bo lost his fiancée, Gabrielle, and your own Mom lost her husband, Ben. Unlike you though, we donít go around taking our sorrow out on everyone else. Itís time for you to grow up and take responsibility for your own actions and stop expecting everyone to cut you some slack because you are so sad. My God, weíre all sad!"

Cynthia pointed out to Evangeline how some red headed girl was all up in Natalieís face and Evangeline turned to see that it was Marcie. She wondered what was going on.

Marcie pointed over toward Evangeline and went on to say to Natalie, "You have no idea what Evangeline has been through. Sheís been through something that I hope none of us will ever have to go through, but if we do, Iíd hope weíd handle ourselves the way she has. Until youíve walked a mile in her shoes, you need to keep your mouth shut."

With that last statement, Natalie raised her hand to slap Marcie. Marcie grabbed Natalieís wrist before Natalieís hand could come close to her face. Marcie said, "Thatís another thing. You may have gotten away with slapping Jen before, but you wonít be able to get away with it for me. If you raise your hand to me one more time, Iíll clean your clock."

Evangeline didnít know exactly what was going on, but she could tell it had something to do with her. She jumped up from the table when she saw Natalie try to slap Marcie and went to the bar. Evangeline said as she walked up, "Marcie, Jen and Shannon, can I talk to you guys over here please?"

Natalie, Jessica, Marcie, Jen, and Shannon were so in the moment that the sound of Evangelineís voice took them by surprise. As they all stood there in a daze, the food that Marcie had come to pick up was brought to them and after they paid, Evangeline pulled them to the side.

Evangeline said, "What is going on you guys?"

Marcie was still shaking from losing her temper and said, "I just couldnít take it any more. Natalie was saying stuff about you and I let her have it."

"What?" Evangeline asked confused. "What did she say?"

Shannon said, "Itís not important. The important thing is that Marcie really put her in her place. I didnít know you had it in you Marcie."

Marcie blushed as Jen said, "It takes a lot to get her mad, but when you do, back up."

Evangeline smiled, in spite of herself and said, "Thanks for having my back Marcie. I appreciate it, but itís really not necessary. Iím sure Natalie and Jessica will have comments to make about me again, but their opinion of me isnít important. So donít get yourself all upset about it."

Marcie said, "I know I shouldnít let them get to me. I just snapped and had to get it out of my system. Iíll control it if there is a next time."

Just then, John walked in and saw the four of them standing in a huddle talking and he also noticed that Natalie and Jessica were staring at the huddle. Natalie and Jessica did not look pleased. John walked up to the huddle and said, "Whatís going on?"

The four of them jumped and then Evangeline replied, "Nothing."

"Donít tell me nothing," John said. "You four are over here with your heads together and Natalie and Jessica are standing over there staring darts into you guys. What happened?"

"Nothing," Evangeline insisted. "Look, Iíve got to go. Iíll see you girls later." Evangeline turned and walked back over to the table where Jordan and Cynthia were sitting.

When Evangeline got to the table, Jordan and Cynthia asked, "Are you okay?"

Evangeline said, "Yeah, Iím fine. Since weíre through eating though, can we just leave?"

"Sure," Jordan replied. "I have to get to the hospital. Cynthia, can I call you later?"

With a shocked look, Cynthia said, "Sure. That would be nice."

The three started toward the door and Cynthia said she needed to stop by the ladies room. Evangeline told her sheíd meet her outside.

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As Evangeline and Jordan walked passed John, Marcie, Shannon, and Jen, John stared at her and felt that pang of jealousy again that Jordan was with Evangeline and he wasnít. John said, "Let me ask you guys again. What happened?"

Nervously, Marcie said, "Nothing. We have to go. We have to get this food to the Love Center."

"Shannon?" John questioned as he stared at her.

Shannon said, "Nothing happened. You just better keep your girl Natalie in check. Bye."

Jen gave John an apologetic look as she walked out with Marcie and Shannon.

Cynthia was walking out passed John right after Marcie, Jen and Shannon left. John said, "Hey Cynthia. How are you?"

"Hey John," Cynthia replied.

"Do you know what happened?" John asked.

"Not the whole story," Cynthia said.

"Is Evangeline okay?" John inquired.

"Yeah," Cynthia said. "Sheís as well as can be expected. How are you?"

"Iím trying to hold it together," John replied. "I miss her a lot, but I know she needs time. Thanks for being there for her."

"Youíre welcome," Cynthia replied. "I hope it works out for the two of you. Iíve really never seen her as happy as she was when you two were together. Iíll see ya later. Bye."

"Bye," John replied in turn.

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John thought to himself, "When did this happen? When did all this tension start? When did Evangeline get to the point where she wonít tell me anything? When did otherís start feeling like they had to protect her from me? What is going on?"

John walked up to the bar and said, "Natalie, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Jessica took that as her cue to leave.

Natalie felt her heart leap a little when John said he wanted to talk to her. Then, she felt a little dejected when John said, "What happened? What did you do to Evangeline?"

"Why would you assume that I did something to Evangeline?" Natalie stated pointedly. "Did she say I did something? Why would you even care? She broke up with you, didnít she?"

John looked confused at Natalieís comments as he said, "She said nothing happened. Shannon said for me to keep you in check. Whatís going on?"

Natalie said, "Marcie got all upset because she overheard me say that Evangeline could be putting your job in jeopardy and on top of that, she broke up with you."

"What do you mean she could be putting my job in jeopardy?" John asked.

"I saw The Sun," Natalie said in an all knowing tone. "You are so much better off without Evangeline Williamson. We can be together like we should have been from the beginning. I never stopped loving you." With that statement, she reached up, grabbed John around the neck and started to pull him toward her for a kiss.

John grabbed her wrists and pushed back. He said, "What are you doing? What do you mean youíve never stopped loving me? When did you ever love me?"

Natalie looked embarrassed and said, "Come on John. You know that I loved you. You have feelings for me to. You can admit them now because Evangeline is out of the picture. You wonít be hurting her by saying how you truly feel. I know that you only got together with her because I was with Paul."

John was so surprised and confused that he almost didnít know what to say. Finally, he said gently, "Natalie, youíre my friend. Thatís the only feelings I have toward you. I know youíve been going through a hard time after losing Chris. I just donít want to see you do anything youíll regret or to see you get hurt. As for Evangeline, I love her. She may not be with me right now, but I know weíll get back together. Even if we donít, Iíll always love her. If you canít accept me as just a friend, I understand, but thatís all weíll ever be."

Natalie was mad at herself because she realized that she had played her hand too soon. She decided to save face for now and said, "Iím sorry John. I shouldnít have tried to kiss you. I can accept being friends with you."

"Okay," John replied. "Iíll see you later." John left Rodiís.

Natalie stood behind the bar thinking to herself, "Youíll be mine John. I just have to be patient. Youíll see that we should be together."

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