The Fourth of July...

The Angel Square Park was filled with patriots intent on celebrating the nation's two hundred thirtieth anniversary of freedom. Evangeline and Cristian arrived early with a huge blanket and a basket loaded with goodies. Antonio and his family were coming so they found the perfect view for little Jamie and baby Brennan to enjoy the fireworks.

As soon as they sat, Cristian pulled out a bag of chips. "Want some?"

"I'm saving myself for the cotton candy."

His eyes lit up. "Cotton candy! Where?"

"Hold on." Laughing, she grabbed his hand as he hopped to his feet. "I promised Jamie I'd wait for her."

He dropped to his knees. "Talk about a letdown."

"Only until she gets here."

He gave her a puppy dog look that never failed to melt her from head to toe. Then, his expression changed to wonder. He jutted his chin toward something behind her. "I never saw that one coming."

She twisted around to see what had captured his attention. Layla and Kevin were walking, hand in hand. Big smiles were on both of their faces. They seemed oblivious to everyone around them. Evangeline was thrilled to see her sister in a happy relationship and thrilled that Kevin's spark had returned.

"They look good together," she said.

"You could have warned me."

She laughed. "Layla swore me to secrecy."

"You did good. I didn't have a clue." He took her hand and raised them to his lips. "Cotton candy?"

"You can't entice me that easily."

"But it won't stop me from trying."

"Excuse me."

John looked nervous as he interrupted them. "I see you're having a good time. I just need to talk to Evangeline for a minute."

"As long as it's just a minute," Cristian said with no trace of humor in his eyes or his voice.

Evangeline stood. "I'll be right back."

Cris nodded. "I'll be here."

She followed John to a secluded spot near the monkey bars. "What is it?"

"Thank you." He tilted his head to the side as he looked at her.


"Finding David for starters. I should have told you a long time ago."

"You were angry with me if I recall correctly. You didn't appreciate Cris and me going to Bangkok to confront him and not consulting with you first. Of course, I'm paraphrasing, but I think I got the gist of it."

He winced. "I deserve that. I was wrong. About a lot of things."

"It doesn't matter now. I'm glad it all worked out."

"Cristian's a lucky guy. I see how you are together. We could have been that way." He spoke so softly she almost didn't hear him. "I wish we could have had a second chance."

"While I'm a diehard fan of second chances," Evangeline said as she glanced at Cris handing his niece a sparkler, "it's too late for us."

"He makes you happy."

She smiled. "He loves me. I've never had to doubt it and I've never asked him to tell me."

She pulled him into a brief hug. "Don't be afraid to be happy, John. It's a lot better than carrying all that baggage around."

Jamie ran to her and took her hand. "Uncle Cris says the cotton candy is waiting."

John blushed and looked away. "You'd better go."

"I am. Take care of yourself."

"You, too."

Jamie led her to Cris and the rest of the Vega family. In her absence, Layla and Kevin had joined them.

As soon as Jamie released her hand, Cris swooped Evangeline into his arms. "Is everything okay?"

"It is now. I love you, Cristian Vega." She locked her arms around his neck. "I'm delivered from the past and ready to embrace the future."

"Our future," he corrected.

"Our future."

The End