A huge bouquet of long-stemmed white roses greeted Evangeline when she arrived at her office. The sweet fragrance of the flowers overpowered her senses. Curiosity propelled her forward. With interest in Rachel gleaming in Kevin’s eyes, Evangeline wondered why he was still sending her flowers. What was Cupcake up to now?
She set her briefcase on her desk and then reached for the card.
To an amazing woman.
“T?” She murmured. “Todd?”
A soft knock stopped her thoughts from going further. She turned to face her assistant. Dawn entered with a small stack of messages in her hand. “Your phone has been ringing off the hook since I came in this morning.”
Evangeline looked at her watch. “I’m not that late.”
“And I wasn’t that early.” Dawn half chuckled. “I haven’t even listened to all the voice mails. The light is blinking like crazy.”
“What do they want?” Evangeline asked as she took the slips of paper. “Is it good news or bad?”
“Depends on how you look at it. They all want you as their attorney.” Dawn tilted her head to the side. “You haven’t seen the papers this morning, have you?”
Evangeline’s gaze moved from the roses to the messages in her hand and back to Dawn. “I’m almost afraid to. What was in The Sun?”
Her assistant grinned. “Not just The Sun. I’ll get them off my desk. Hold on.”
Evangeline moved behind her desk and sat. Oh, boy, she thought. What has Todd done?
Dawn returned with the newspapers. “The Banner is singing your praises, too. Also...”
Evangeline groaned as Dawn laughed. “What else?”
“Rachel Gannon from Craze Magazine called this morning. She said she wants to do a cover story on you.”
“A cover story on me? Why? They’re a fashion magazine.”
“She said they’re taking the magazine in a new direction. You better face it, Evangeline. Saving Cristian Vega’s life has made you an instant celebrity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Larry King wants to talk to you, too.”
Evangeline made a face. “Get out of here!”
Dawn laughed. “Yes, ma’am.”
Her assistant left and closed the door after her. Evangeline flipped through the messages. Every call was a potential client. The publicity of Cristian’s case proved to be very, very good for business.
She subconsciously chewed her bottom lip. The mere thought of him brought tingles up and down her spine. Her mouth still burned from the heat of his kiss. She spent days avoiding this moment. Thinking about him was silly. The kiss didn’t mean anything more than gratitude. Maybe he got a little carried away because she saved his life. That savior thing had many clients getting their emotions confused. Of course, the same happened with Cristian. Now that a few days had passed and the dust settled, he was no doubt getting on with his life.
- - -
“Hi! You’re Cristian Vega.”
The pretty brown-skinned woman’s warm greeting caught Cristian by surprise. When he decided to stop by Evangeline’s office, he hadn’t known what to expect. Her reaction to his kiss didn’t come as a shock so he waited a few days to adjust. In the meantime, he couldn’t get her out of his head.
“I’m sorry about that,” the woman said. “I guess I should have expected to see you here. Will you wait a moment while I see if she’s available?”
Biting back a smile, he nodded. “Sure.”
He stepped aside as she hurried to Evangeline’s door. He strained to hear their conversation. A few words carried back to him.
Hmm, he thought. They’re discussing me. A slow grin spread to his mouth. Was Evangeline throwing out the compliments? He couldn’t wait to find out.
A moment later, Evangeline’s assistant stepped out of the office. Her grin matched his. “She’ll see you now.”
“Thank you,” he said. As he moved past her, he wondered what made her so happy. Did she know something he didn’t? Had Evangeline discussed what happened at Capricorn with her? He never considered Evangeline the kiss and tell type, but he could be wrong.
“Hi, Cristian.” Evangeline stood behind her desk. A different vibe echoed in this room. Wariness shielded her like a cloak. She looked ready to bolt at any second. “What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked, unable to resist teasing her just a little.
She glanced at the flowers on her desk and frowned. “No.”
His eyes narrowed. “Where did you get those?”
“They’re a gift, but you didn’t come here to talk about flowers. Why are you here?”
“Do I need a reason?” His voice vibrated with hurt. He tried to keep the disappointment hidden, but it revealed itself without his permission.
Their eyes locked. Regret burned brightly in her chocolate eyes. She brushed her hair from her face with one hand. With the other, she pointed to a chair facing her desk. “I’m sorry. Please, have a seat. I’m happy to see you.”
“Are you really?” He accepted her invitation and sat. “You didn’t seem happy when I walked in. At least not like the woman out there. Is she always that happy?”
“Dawn?” Evangeline smiled. “She has her moments. You wouldn’t want to make her mad. She’s excited that you’re here. She loves your art work.”
“Has she bought any?” The words came out before he could stop them.
The beautiful attorney laughed. “Actually, yes. We both have.”
“Thank you,” he said, sincerely. “Lindsay is worried that my return from the dead will affect my credibility as an artist.”
“You had extenuating circumstances.” Brown eyes suddenly flashed with fire. “It’s not like the last year of your life happened just so you could affect the prices of your work.”
Her immediate defense warmed his heart. “No, but it has changed my life.”
“For the better, I hope.”
He nodded. “Definitely. I would have come by earlier but the last few days have been very busy. My phone has been off the hook with people wanting my story. I put them off, but I don’t know how long that will work. I even received an offer from a publisher. They want me to write a book. Can you believe that? They think the world would love to read about what happened to me. I guess brain washing brings in the readers.”
“What did you tell them?”
“Nothing, yet. I told them I’d call them back, but to be honest, I don’t know what to say. I’m an artist from Angel Square. I know nothing about the publishing world.”
“I’ve negotiated a few contracts in my time,” Evangeline said. “Would you like for me to look over them for you?”
He released a sigh of relief. “I’d appreciate it.”
“Is that why you stopped by?” She visibly relaxed. “You shouldn’t have worried about asking me to review a few contracts for you. I don’t mind.”
“Not pro bono,” he stated.
“Cristian, please.” She shook her head. “Taking and winning your case has given me publicity I never imagined. I feel like I owe you a commission.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” he said quietly, “but I did come to ask you something. It has nothing to do with the law or anything like that.”
Instantly, the invisible walls slowly started to close around her. He spoke quickly before she shut him out completely.
“Have dinner with me.”
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
He laughed. “That’s not a good enough answer. I’ll pick you up tonight at six. Dress casually.”
“I didn’t say ‘yes.’”
He stood and moved to the door. “You didn’t say ‘no’ either. You just said you can’t, but I have faith in you. I say you can...and you will.”
As he opened the door, he added, “By the way, I’m totally free now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I served Natalie with divorce papers. That part of my life is officially over. Now, my real life can begin. I’ll see you tonight.”