Cherish & Blessed

By: Tere Michaels



Helena gave him a cool violet-eyed stare of annoyance. “Excuse me?”

“You never bring me coffee.”

“Yes, I do! All the time.”

“No, only when you want something.” Evan began to unpack his bag with his usual efficiency; he could argue with Helena while doing just about anything.

“Ugh, hateful.” She pouted for a few minutes, then cracked. “Okay.”

“Ha!” He looked up from where he was putting a box of energy bars in his bottom drawer.

“Shane and I need a place to go for Thanksgiving that isn’t my mother’s in Florida.”

Helena and her boyfriend, Shane, had been together for more than two years, a fairly serious length of time for both of them. And as Evan and Matt were technically the reason they had met, they were involved on a level that included Evan having to listen to the goods, the bads, and the speculation about the future.

And also apparently helping her out on holidays.

“Why don’t you want to go to Florida? The weather’s nicer.”

“Because it’s too early in the relationship for Shane and I to be grilled by my mother about when she’s getting grandchildren.” Helena sighed dramatically. “We’re not even engaged. Or talking about being engaged.” Her voice quavered slightly. “We’ve only been living together for a year. It’s just too soon.”

“Uh-huh.” He gave her a glance, noted the lip bite, then busied himself with his coffee. “So Thanksgiving….”

“I’ll bring stuff. Swear.”

“It’s just me and Matt and the kids,” Evan warned, his brain shifting back to the problem at hand—confronting Miranda about her new boyfriend. And the M-word.

“Sounds perfect.” A smile bloomed on her face. “Really.”

They clicked into gear pretty quickly after that, getting into the rhythm that had served them well over the years. They had calls to make, paperwork to process, and new cases finding their way across their desks. It was a constant stream of activity, and in spare moments of mental space, Evan knew he would miss this.

Six o’clock rolled around, and Evan had an encouraging moment when he thought he might be home before seven.

Then his cell rang.

Each of his children had a different ringtone, and the techno beat playing meant Miranda. His stomach tightened with stress as he pressed the screen. “Miranda.”

There was a dramatic pause, and then his eldest said coolly, “Hi, Dad. You left a message?”

Evan scowled. He’d left several. “We need to talk.”

She sighed. “I’m really busy—”

Evan cut in. “Not too busy for this. Either I come to you now or you meet me at home. Choice is yours.”

Miranda let the moment drag out until Evan was convinced his brains were actually going to explode out of his ear, but finally she offered a begrudging “You can come here.”

“I’ll be there in forty-five minutes.”

“Fine.”

Evan hung up, desperately missing the days when a phone weighed five pounds and slamming it into the cradle felt satisfying.

“Do I want to know? No, wait, of course I want to know.” Helena parked herself on the corner of his desk. “Miranda.”

“Yeah, Miranda.” Evan sighed as he leaned back in his chair, hearing the reassuring creak. “She’s got a secret boyfriend, and apparently it’s serious.”

“Oh, ouch.”

“Yeah.”

Helena patted his shoulder. “You going over there without reinforcements?”

“She won’t talk if Matt’s around.” Miranda and Matt still did not have the level of closeness Matt had with the other kids. It bothered Evan, but he didn’t know how to change it. “And I figure I’m the one she wants to scream at, so….”

“You think this is a revenge boyfriend?”

“Well, Elena thinks so, and I’m inclined to believe her.” He frowned a little. His former sister-in-law didn’t have children, but he mentally deferred to her because of her gender. He wasn’t sure if that was logical or a skewed sense of gender politics. Either way, it made his head hurt. “She’s acting out because of Matt and I.”

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