Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Delicate, sensuous just a couple of words that came to mind in the midst of that unexpected kiss. Slowly their lips separated and both gazed with wonder into each other's eyes. For Victor it was all he anticipated it to be - that rush of excitement that course through his body and the sensation of wanting to hold on to her and never let go. Yeah those harp strings were resonating in his ears. He loved her and he would finally admit it to himself as well as anyone who asked. Recognizing that he was in love was most satisfying.
Reality however, set in for the usually composed Evangeline who immediately broke away from their embrace. What just happened? She stared warily at Victor. A whole string of emotions stirred within her which included fear and confusion. It's not that she didn't like the kiss in fact she hadn't been kissed like that in a long time. The relationship they shared as best friends however was beyond priceless and she didn't want anything to interfere and muddle that actuality. She took a deep breath briefly closing her eyes; lips still tingling. Was this really happening and could this easily be forgotten.
She was already mentally rationalizing the kiss he surmised. Certainly there wasn't an ounce of regret on his side but he did question his impulsive nature at this moment.
"Hey you two." Lisa's sudden appearance was a welcomed break from the tension in the room. "Am I intruding on a private conversation?" She sensed the strange vibe occurring between the two.
"Don't be silly mom," Evangeline replied quickly seeming to recover from her earlier mood change.
"Evangeline and I were discussing my new house..."
"Oh that's wonderful news Victor, congrats," she said genuinely happy for him. They shared a quick hug. "You need to invite us over for that house warming. By the way I brought you the leftovers that I promised." She offered him a small bag with two containers.
"Thanks so much."
"Well I'll allow you two get back to your discussion."
"Goodnight Mrs. Williamson."
Evangeline immediately cut him off. "Victor I get it...I get it," she sighed. "We both got caught up in the excitement. We've had history. I recalled this happening during our trip to Llantano Mountain. Now that was a drama filled weekend," she chuckled.
"Yeah," he smiled weakly. He recalled that passionate kiss as well and it was real to him then as this kiss was now. She wasn't ready but he was determined to be completely honest with her fairly soon. It's no use getting into a heated discussion at this time. "Ok we'll see each other at the closing."
"Then you take me along for the final walk through?"
"Yes of course. It completely slipped my mind...sorry." He just wanted to leave. After such a wonderful day of experiencing the family and hearing the news about the Ashby property, it was ending anticlimactically. "Too much on my mind I guess," he shrugged.
"Leave those home worries to me ok. I'll look over the paperwork, confer with their lawyer and make sure that everything is in order for a smooth transfer," said Evangeline confidently adding, "Besides I've already signed up as your personal interior designer."
That brought back a smile to his face. "Looking forward to all your "ideas"." Still he needed to get out of there. "Hey I got to go. I loved spending time with you and your family. Thanks for the opportunity." They embraced. For the last time that evening, he took in her floral scent. Then he lightly kissed her forehead. "Call you," he said over his shoulder.
After he left, Evangeline pressed her back against the door looking skyward. How could such a wonderful day end so awkwardly? She hoped that the kiss wouldn't create a chasm between them.
She was definitely looking forward to things returning to normal between them.
A week went by and Evangeline perceived the world on her shoulders. Dealing with Trey's two year old tantrums, Victor's closing and putting together ideas for his new home design as well as assisting with Layla made her appreciate her mom's presence even more. This morning was the closing meeting, set to happen within the next hour. In the meantime, she sat in the living room assisting a Trey with colors and shapes when Layla and Hugh made their appearance.
"Hey don't look so worried Hugh," Layla remarked stroking her belly.
"I don't want you to get too stressed especially with thanksgiving coming up." He placed both hands on her protruding belly wishing he could alleviate some of her burden.
"Between my mother and Evangeline, I'll barely be lifting a finger..."
"You got that right," Evangeline chimed in.
Hugh smiled and gave her a sweet kiss. He leaned downward and said, "Hey little one, please don't give your mom too much trouble today. I love you...and I love you too Mrs. Hughes."
"Love you Mr. Hughes."
Layla gave her husband one last kiss and regarded him as he walked away.
"My aren't we looking very stylish today," Layla admired as she took a seat on the couch stretching out her feet.
"Why thank you," Evangeline smiled.
Evangeline wore a grey turtleneck sweater, black jeans and suede ankle boots; hair half-up and half-down. Soon Lisa came into the room.
"What shape is this?"
"And what color is this?"
"You are such a smart little boy," remarked his proud mother.
Soon Lisa stepped into to room dressed to go out.
"Come Trey its time to leave." Trey instantly jumped off his mother's lap and ran over to his grandma.
"Bye mama. Bye Auntie Layla."
"Bye baby boy."
"Ladies take care."
"So please tell me how you are really feeling?"
"Very uncomfortable but if I share that with my devoted husband he'll go into panic mood. I have enough things to worry about - I'm not sleeping well, I feel like a beached whale and I just want this child to be born already but otherwise I'm wonderful," she chuckled.
"Hey I've been there and done that. When this baby is born, he/she will be all you think about and you won't dwell on anything else. I'm happy that your friends are stopping by for a visit."
"Me too..." Layla gazed at Evangeline while she neatly packed papers into her brown portfolio. "Evangeline why haven't you purchased a house of your own?"
"You're getting tired of us already," she giggled.
"I'm being serious."
"I guess I'm just not ready as yet or I really haven't thought about it lately." Layla gave her a perplexed look. "Look its going to happen..."
"I think you're stuck." Layla came right out and said it. "You placed so much importance on building that perfect home with Robert that when he died, your dreams died too."
Evangeline thought about it and Layla's observation ticked her off a bit. "Layla I'll excuse that comment because I know its coming from a place of love. I'm not stuck..."
Her cellphone began ringing and there was also a knock at the door.
"So are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be...I'll meet you there shortly."
"Are you alright?"
"Yes I'm fine. Thanks for asking."
The meeting at the Ashby's attorney's office went by quickly. With the paperwork in order, all they needed to do was sign the required documentation and copies were created. Evangeline was able to negotiate the purchase price down even further given the inconvenience caused to Victor and the fact that he was still willing to purchase the home and property. Handshakes all around and Victor was given the keys to his new home.
Victor exhaled. At least this part was over and now he was about to embark on a new journey but some matters needed to be taken care of first.
"So do you want to go over to the house now?"
"However I do want us to grab some brunch and return to my office."
"Ok but I need to check in with my mom and Trey first."
Victor's executive office design appeared sleek and stylish. It featured his desk, chairs, bookcase in one corner then a grey sectional and coffee table at the other. Colorful artwork placed strategically on the white walls and gloss pendant light fixtures finished the look.
"Love your office," remarked an impressed Evangeline as she removed her jacket and scarf.
"Well I aim to please myself," he smirked.
Evangeline gave him a "whatever" side-eye. "Some things never change," she muttered.
They sat down to strawberry scones, cinnamon rolls and coffee. While Victor enjoyed eating his fair share of cinnamon rolls, scones and downing his coffee, Evangeline barely touched the fare. It didn't take much for him to realize that something was bothering her.
"So tell me what's on your mind?"
"Uh just something Layla said to me this morning. At first I thought she was totally off-base but now I believe she's right..."
As she got more comfortable, he drew in closer. "About what?"
"That I'm not moving forward with my life. I promised myself that I would purchase a home but it looks like my sister and my bestie have moved ahead of me."
"If you had wanted to, you would have done so." Victor's index finger stroked along her face and a sudden calm came over her. "What are you afraid of?"
"I don't know. Maybe I'm afraid that moving on means forgetting the life I once knew with Robert." The mention of Robert's name made Victor pause. "I understand how ridiculous that sounds."
"It's not ridiculous. Sometimes I look in the mirror and still believe I'm Todd Manning although I have the face of Walker Laurence." His face fashioned a smile at that tidbit. "It feels very weird for me to walk into this office especially after being the publisher of such a national newspaper like the Sun."
She added, "It's like you were on top of the world and then everything came crashing back to earth."
"I can't dwell on it. My life has to move forward or else the only person I'm hurting is me."
Now his finger traced along her lips. She noticed a certain look in those gorgeous blue eyes. They were sharing something very intimate with her own and she didn't shy away.
"It's funny how life can bring you to the exact place you need to be. " His words said in such a soft voice comforted her.
"Yes I see and believe that now. I can't keep lamenting on a life that doesn't exist anymore. Trey and I deserve exceedingly more."
Now he held her hands, interlacing their fingers. "There's something I need to say to you...not sure how you will react but I it has to be said."
"Then say it."
"I love you. I've love you for a long time now. Being around you makes my life worthwhile. Every kiss we've shared has been real to me as well as this one."
His lips were instantly upon hers and she fully leaned into it. There was no turning back now. The passion was real. The kiss was crushing, bruising, stealing their breaths away. Their lips soon retreated, foreheads pressed together, mouths breathing heavily, hearts racing. his palms planted on her cheeks while hers lay on his chest.
"Do you love me?"
It was like a light suddenly came on. "Yes, I do love you with all my heart." He laughed at her admission and embraced her tightly. "And yes I will." Victor gazed at her seriously. "You think I don't know what you will ask," she remarked biting her bottom lip.
"Are you sure?" She nodded with a huge grin on her face. He quickly ran over to his desk and retrieve the ring which surprised her. He clarified, "No this is not Nicki's engagement ring."
"I would have called you heartless and walked out that door if it was. Proceed..."
He got down on one knee and open the jeweled ring box. Tears came to her eyes, hands covered her face upon seeing the pink, heart-shaped, diamond engagement ring. Oh my...
"I can never love another woman the way I love you." His voice trembled and there were tears in his eyes. "Please do me the honor of becoming my wife."
She held out a shaky left hand and he slipped the ring on her finger. "Perfect fit."
"And its so beautiful, you certainly know how to make a woman...hey." He lifted her up in the air and spun them around. They shared another passionate kiss.
"You know how happy I am right now."
"I know because I feel the same way too.
Now all they needed to do was break the news to their respective families - easy enough right.