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Shielding Evanleigh

“Wow, what was that all about?” Alabama asked.


“I don’t know,” Evanleigh whispered as she watched Reese leave.

“Don’t you?” Caroline’s grin was just a bit smug.

Evanleigh felt her face warm as everyone stared at her. Pushing back, she muttered, “Excuse me,” and then hurried toward the bathroom. She didn’t see Heidi follow her, nor did she notice Alabama and Caroline trade glances and then follow Heidi. Evanleigh needed to think, to try and understand what had happened.

Pushing the bathroom door open, Evanleigh went into an empty stall and put the lid down. Sitting down, she dropped her head into her hands. Something was happening, something important, but she couldn’t quite put her head around it yet. Slowly, she ran the events of the last few minutes through her mind, mentally dissecting them to examine and figure it out.

Reese was her friend. He had told her that numerous times and except for this afternoon’s kiss had never changed. She knew there was a past between him and Heidi, but tonight he seemed almost pissed off that she had sent him a drink. Why did he say one thing and act another? Plus, the others seemed to know something else was going on as well. They knew him better; maybe they could explain him to her.

Then there was that kiss.

Dear Lord, that kiss had burned her like his lips were made of fire. It consumed her to the point that she was shocked to find she hadn’t spontaneously combusted on the spot. That moment, there wasn’t friendship between them but rather the wanton raw need shared between a man and a woman. It made her head spin and threw her completely off guard. Sure, he’d first approached her like a peacock in full strut, but since they’d talked on the beach, he’d been a perfect gentleman. Now, it seemed he was harboring some intense feelings for her, and God knows she was falling down that rabbit hole herself. However, they’d never crossed that line until today. But now that they had, what was she going to do about it?

Deciding she had hidden out in the bathroom long enough, Evanleigh opened the door and went to the sink. Her heart dropped when she saw Heidi there, applying cherry red lipstick as she stared into the mirror. She smacked her lips together and then carefully wiped the edge with one finger. Evanleigh stood beside her and washed her hands.

“You can’t have him,” Heidi said firmly.

“What?” Evanleigh met her gaze in the mirror.

“Reese. You can’t have him. I screwed up, but I’m going to get him back. I know he’ll love me again. He’s told me so many times that only I know how to make him lose control. We’re hot together, and we’ll be together again soon.”

“Yeah, okay,” Evanleigh chuckled. “We’re only friends.” Whatever the crazy lady said.

“Friends, ha! I’ve seen how you look at him all moon-eyed and hungry. Reesey is mine, all mine,” Heidi stomped her high-heeled clad foot on the linoleum. “Stay away from him. I’ll hurt you if you try to steal him from me.”

Evanleigh wanted to laugh in the blonde’s face. Some small part of her sadistically enjoyed seeing the woman frustrated and pissed. So, she did what she knew would infuriate Heidi more. She shrugged nonchalantly and finished washing her hands. Turning off the water, she dried them and turned away.

Heidi wouldn’t let it go. She grabbed Evanleigh’s shoulder and shoved her. “I’m talking to you, bitch. Don’t you dare turn your back to me!” she screeched. Her face had turned red, and a blob of gum flew from her mouth, bouncing off the wall beside Evanleigh and falling to the floor.

She couldn’t help it. It was all so funny. She started to laugh in her face when Heidi pulled her hand back as if to slap her. Evanleigh snatched Heidi’s hand out of the air and squeezed her wrist. That was the last straw. If this wild-eyed, botoxed, collagen-plumped, fake Barbie wanted to go around, then it was time to dance.

The doors to two of the stalls opened, and Alabama and Caroline stepped out. They stood there, watching as Evanleigh gave her a dressing-down.

“First off, don’t you dare threaten me. I’m from Alabama, and we learn to defend ourselves before we walk. Don’t let this innocent look fool you; I will jack you up six ways to Sunday, where even the plastic surgeon you have on speed dial won’t be able to fix you.” She dropped Heidi’s wrist then continued. “Second, let me just say this about your delusion concerning Reese,” Evanleigh started, ignoring the outraged intake of breath. “If he wanted you, he wouldn’t be trying so hard to push you away. Every time you come around him, he tries to be nice, but some cows don’t listen. He’s polite and believes in being nice to ladies. Therefore as Reese’s friend, who doesn’t have to be nice to….” She looked Heidi up and down before sneering, “…ladies, let me be the one to break it down. It’s over between you. Done, finished. He doesn’t want to date you. He doesn’t even want to breathe the same air as you. You had your time with him, and it’s time to move forward. You’re a pretty lady when you aren’t throwing yourself at someone. Very pretty, and I’m sure if you set your mind to it, you can find someone else to sink your claws into – someone that wants to be with you. Because let me tell you, sister, you need to have a little dignity and quit chasing after a man that obviously doesn’t want you. It makes you look pathetic and needy.”

Heidi’s jaw had dropped to the point Evanleigh wondered if it would come unhinged completely. Slowly, she closed her mouth and glared around the room. Seeing no way out, she shot back, “You’re the one that’s pathetic and needy,” Heidi hissed at her, “You want him for yourself. It’s so obvious.”

Evanleigh shook her head sadly. “Aww, honey, you just don’t get it, do you? Reese has a mind and a really good one at that. He’s smart, funny, and extremely good to his friends. He’s not just muscles and dangly bits. Maybe you should think about that. Just because he’s a man doesn’t mean he’s okay with being wanted solely for his body. Reese is a friend and a better one than most. What’s between us is mutual respect and a lot of companionship. I don’t have to chase after him because he’s there when he wants to be. Do you understand me? He’s my friend, not a hunk of meat to be manipulated when you feel like it. So pull your brain out of your bra and find someone that respects you for who you are and not for ten minutes of fun. Reese deserves better and believe it or not, so do you.”

With that, Evanleigh opened the door and exited the bathroom. Alabama and Caroline washed their hands beside the stunned woman and hurried out close behind. As they sat down, the men stopped talking and looked at them.

“Everything all right?” Benny asked.

“Yup,” Caroline grinned. “Everything is just fine.” She looked at Evanleigh and winked. “If I didn’t already know you belonged with us, I’d know it now.”

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