Antonio, Jessica, John and Evangeline all sat around and talked while they ate their simple dinner of burgers, fries, and spirits. Things seemed to be going pretty well for all of them. This was the first time they’d all been out together where everyone contributed to the conversation. Everyone laughed and enjoyed each others company.

The easygoing conversation between Evangeline and Jessica didn’t go unnoticed by John and Antonio. Maybe they would actually come out of this being friends or something of the sort. Stranger things have happened, John thought.

It wasn’t that John desperately wanted or needed for Evangeline and Jessica to be friends. He just knew how sometimes Evangeline felt a little on edge around Jessica. He wanted Evangeline to be comfortable in any situation because he and Antonio were together more than they were apart. He hoped that Evangeline and Jessica would at least be civil toward each other.

“Hey, isn’t that Agent Derrick Frye from the Pine Valley PD?” John questioned, gesturing for Antonio to look over his shoulder.

“Yeah, it is,” Antonio said turning back around to face John. “The Commissioner mentioned that Agent Frye would be in town to help him with the Des Channel case. You know, I told Bo that I had some ideas about the pattern of events with that case.”

“Well I think we should go enlighten Detective Frye, don’t you?” John suggested to Antonio.

“Yeah, let’s see what he’s got so far.” Antonio and John rose from their seats.

“My Goodness, don’t you two ever stop?” Evangeline asked.

“Yeah, here we are on a Saturday night. We’re supposed to be celebrating and you two are ready to go back to work,” Jessica added.

“Oh, you know how cops us cops are. We’re always trying to figure things out,” Antonio commented putting more peanuts in his mouth.

“Yeah, this shouldn’t take long,” John began. He turned his focus to Evangeline and gave her a quick kiss. “And don’t eat all my fries,” he said playfully as he walked away with Antonio.

Evangeline smiled back. She picked up a fry from John’s plate and teasingly took a bite. At that point, it was as if Jessica finally took notice of the connection that Evangeline and John shared. It finally clicked as to why they were together. Like an algebra problem she’d been trying to solve for nearly a year now, Jessica had finally figured out the answer.

“I see it,” Jessica stated simply as she smiled across from Evangeline.

“What? I’m sorry,” Evangeline replied shaking her head, as she returned the look to Jessica.

“I see why John is in love with you, why you two are together.”

“Look Jessica, I was really hoping we wouldn’t get into this. I know Natalie is your sister, but…”

Jessica cut Evangeline off. “Evangeline, please hear me out. Please listen to what I have to say,” Jessica began. “I love my sister. She’s been through so much in her life. She’s certainly been dealt her share of tough blows. But Natalie is a fighter and I really admire that about her. After Cristian died, Natalie never thought she’d get over him. Mom and I were so worried about her. Then she and John got really close. She started smiling again, and it’s like she thought life was worth living. She fell for John hard, Evangeline. They were spending time together and it really looked like things were going to work out for them. Then, all of a sudden, she starts hanging out with that sleezeball, Paul Cramer. She became a totally different person! None of us recognized her anymore. I asked her about John and why there weren’t together. She said it was because John wasn’t ready to move on and that he still had some things to work out about Caitlyn. So Natalie got tired of waiting and chose to move on with Paul.”

“But Jessica, all of this happened before John and I started dating. I had absolutely nothing to do with John not choosing to be with your sister,” Evangeline stated as if defending herself.

“I know Evangeline. But after witnessing how my sister was so positively influenced by John, it just seemed only natural that they’d be together. When Antonio told me about you two, I must admit I wasn’t happy.”

“Oh, I could definitely sense that if only because you’d constantly mention something about Natalie,” Evangeline added adamantly.

By the inflection of Evangeline’s voice, Jessica sensed that she was getting pissed.

“Yeah, I apologize for doing that. It was a really bratty thing to do,” Jessica said with a smile that asked for forgiveness. “I just didn’t understand how after years of being alone, John was now in a committed relationship with someone who wasn’t Natalie. It honestly wasn’t anything personal against you, Evangeline. I was just still hoping for John and Natalie to finally find their way to each other.”

“Well Jessica, while I can certainly understand your reasoning, I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that I wished things worked out for John and Natalie,” Evangeline sternly responded.

“And I’d be a fool to expect that of you,” Jessica began. “I guess I’m just telling you all of this so you can see why I was pushing so hard for Nat and John, and why I was so against the thought of you and John. But honestly, after tonight, I have to let all of that go.”

“And what makes tonight any different?” Evangeline curiously questioned.

“Well before you two got here, Antonio and I were talking and he said that he hadn’t seen John so happy since he moved to Llanview, as happy as he is with you.”

Evangeline let a prideful smile claim her face.

“I told Antonio that I still didn’t see what the attraction was but that I’d really give you a fair try tonight because I know how close Antonio and John are. After watching the two of you together with an open mind, it’s obvious that you two have found something special in each other. I’m sure it’s been there for a while. I just had blinders on. I’m truly sorry for the ignorance on my part.”

Evangeline began, somewhat skeptical. “That’s quite mature of you Jessica. John and I are very happy together. I’m glad you’ve chosen to see and accept that.”

“So am I. It’s a lot easier than trying to be angry over something that you can’t control.”

They both let out a small laugh.

“John really is a good guy. I do know that he never meant to hurt Natalie,” Evangeline offered.

“I know,” Jessica replied simply with a smile. She knew in her heart that Evangeline was stating the truth.

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