"What?" Evangeline asked, her eyes full of disarray. "Where?"
"I’m going to Atlantic City for a few days. I didn’t want to be here when you exchanged vows with Alan-Michael. Go with me."
"Umm, hello? You said it," Evangeline said waving her hands about. "I’m getting married in the morning."
"Evangeline, both you and I know that you’re only marrying Alan-Michael because you think it’s the right thing to do. You don’t love him like you should."
"I can’t just say ‘Sorry Alan-Michael. I made a mistake. I’d rather go off with John McBain!’ The invitations are out, the bridesmaids have their gowns, the band is scheduled to play, the flowers have all been delivered…"
John interrupted her. "Don’t worry about tomorrow. Just come go with me."
The way John said ‘come go with me’ was so seductive, yet stated as if a slight command. Almost like he was casting a love spell on her. His crystal blue eyes were mesmerizing her as he now sat beside her on the sofa.
Evangeline stunned her own self. She was actually considering leaving everything behind to go explore life with John. She really did want him. She wanted to see if she and John could have the life and love that she’d always wanted, the life and love she knew she wouldn’t share with Alan-Michael no matter how right for her she once thought he was.
"John, as much as I think I’d love to go away with you, I can’t. I have a responsibility to be here. People are counting on me tomorrow. Alan-Michael is a good person. He doesn’t deserve this," Evangeline said pleading with John, willing him to understand her situation. "You don’t understand…"
John put his index finger up to Evangeline’s soft, inviting lips. Instantly, she became silent. "Come go with me. Have no fears," he said to her with such strong emotion, and a tone that beckoned her to choose him.
Evangeline knew John well enough to know that he wouldn’t be saying those things if he didn’t mean them. Maybe he was right all along. Maybe she really did want a life with him.
In that instant, their eyes and souls connected. John leaned into Evangeline for the most tender and heartfelt kiss either of them had ever experienced. He wanted her to know how deeply he felt for her, how intense his feelings were for her. And though he wanted to, he wouldn’t go any further than a kiss while she was still engaged to someone else.
Sleeping with her the first time while she was engaged was a mistake. He wouldn’t do that again, though he had no regrets. He pulled away from their kiss.
"Why did you stop?" Evangeline asked softly, slowly opening her eyes.
John gently cupped her cheek. "Because you deserve more," he said simply.
He got up from the sofa and began walking toward the door. Evangeline followed.
"John, I don’t know what to do."
"I think you do. You just have to decide if what you want to do is more important than doing what you think is right. Will you be able to live happily with whatever you decide?"
Evangeline put her head in her hands.
"Hey," John said, tenderly lifting her head up, his hand underneath her chin. "I’m leaving for Atlantic City tomorrow morning at 6a. Give me a call anytime between now and then if you change your mind. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll know that when I get back to Llanview you’ll be Evangeline Spaulding. If you decide to do that, I’ll respect it," he said walking out of Evangeline’s condo.
Evangeline looked at John leaving. She wanted to say something, anything, but what?
He turned around and walked back toward her. He lightly took her left hand and slowly rubbed his thumb over the two carat diamond solitaire that sat on Evangeline’s ring finger.
Looking at the ring, so many thoughts traveled his mind in that moment. He knew that this was his last chance to dissuade her from making what he considered a colossal mistake.
"Evangeline, if you’re gonna do it, do it right – do it with me."
John left Evangeline with so much to think about. It was now or never. She had to decide what she wanted, and she had to be able to live with her decision.
What was she going to do? She was more confused now than ever before. Her heart and her head were giving her conflicting instructions.
Twenty minutes later, Greenlee and the rest of the bridesmaids arrived to take Evangeline to her bachelorette party. Originally when they’d all arrived, Evangeline was going to cancel. She just wasn’t in the mood for celebrating when she had a major decision to make. A decision that, either way, would change her life forever.
But after hearing about all the work and preparations the ladies made for the party, Evangeline decided it would be better to attend the party. She didn’t want to let the gang down, especially since it was still very possible that she’d be marrying Alan-Michael tomorrow.
The bachelorette party turned out to be in fact a nice and fun event. Greenlee and the ladies rented a party bus for the evening. They were served drinks and appetizers by beautifully sculpted men.
They were then off to enjoy a wonderful evening at Club Stardust, where the famed Australian male strippers, Thunder from Down Under, were performing. That was a huge treat because it was rare that the all male revue came to Llanview.
Everyone had a great time, especially Evangeline. The funny thing was that when she was out with the ladies, she didn’t once think about Alan-Michael, John, or the decision she needed to make.
But once she got back home, reality set in. She needed to make a decision, and she needed to make it now. Alan-Michael and John were both breathtaking men. Honestly, if she could have them both she would.
She admired both of them. Alan-Michael was the CFO of his family’s company, Spaulding Enterprises. He’d worked so hard to be taken seriously and to be respected by his father, Alan, and older brother, Phillip. After years of hard work, he’d finally been given the respect he deserved. He had even started a new division of the company in Springfield, Illinois, dubbed Spaulding Industries.
Alan-Michael was so career-driven and that was one of the reasons Evangeline was attracted to him in the first place. She completely understood his work ethic, as she had plans of having her own private practice.
Then there was Lieutenant John McBain. Llanview’s finest – hands down! John was always in control of every situation. There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t handle. Evangeline loved his cool demeanor.
John was a police office just like his father, Andrew, had been. He’d grown up admiring Andrew McBain, and when he’d been killed in the line of duty, John made a promise to his father and to himself. He wanted to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. He wanted to become an officer of the law and pick up where his father left off.
Evangeline understood that too, as she wanted to become a defense attorney to protect those who needed it most. She also wanted to make her daddy proud.
It was now 2:30a. Evangeline was beat. She still hadn’t decided anything. Her wedding was scheduled for noon and John was leaving Llanview at 6a. A decision needed to be made.
She walked upstairs to her bedroom and changed into some comfortable loungewear. She noticed the blinking light on her answering machine. She pressed play.
"Hey Love! I was just trying to catch you before your bachelorette party began. I guess I missed you. I wanted to hear your voice. I miss you and we haven’t even been apart for more than eight hours. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow afternoon. We’ll finally be husband and wife…Well, I’d better go. I love you. I’m so looking forward to making you happy for the rest of your life. Sweet dreams."
Evangeline got in bed after hearing the message from Alan-Michael. Goodness, he was really a great guy and he was very much in love with her. If John weren’t in the picture, she’d have no doubts.
Evangeline sat in bed for two hours thinking about her life, her past, her present, and her future. There were so many things she’d already accomplished and so much more she wanted to do. She wanted to make sure that she did all of those things with the right man – the man she wanted to be with without any doubts or regrets.
By 4:30a, Evangeline had finally made a decision. She looked in the Yellow Pages and called a taxi. She didn’t trust herself to drive, and she feared that if she drove she might change her mind. She felt she was making the best decision for herself and the future she wanted, with the man she wanted.
Once the taxi arrived, she told the driver of her destination. On the ride over, she’d thought about what she’d say and how she’d say it. She also wondered if he’d be accepting of her decision. Evangeline was extremely nervous.
Would she be able to live with this? Was it really what she wanted? The answer to those questions became an obvious ‘yes’ when the front door opened.
"Hey," Evangeline said with a nervous smile.
"I didn’t wake you, did I?" she asked.
"No, not at all."
"John…I don’t know what I’m doing…" Evangeline said looking back to see if the taxi left. She was having second thoughts. Maybe she needed to go back home. She noticed the taxi was gone.
"Hey," he began, turning her head to face his, making exclusive eye contact with her. "I don’t ever want you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with."
"John, I think I’m just nervous. I do know that there is a connection between us. I’d like to see where it leads, if you still want to."
John smiled. "So does that tote bag on your shoulder mean what I think it means?"
"Yeah," Evangeline said. She took a deep breath and gave a beautiful smile. "I’ll go with you."
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