Friday morning Evelyn woke up feeling worse than ever. She should have been fit as a fiddle since Evan’s show was over, but still, she did not feel well. Yesterday she’d spent the day making brownies and putting the finishing touches on her gift to Luke and Alexis. She had Roxie paint a picture of the woods around White Valley. She knew Luke loved being out in the national park when they were growing up. He and Alexis went on hikes and camp outs every chance they got. Roxie banged out the painting for her in record time, even though she was caring for Sophia and Bentley. She got up and showered. Again she had a text message from Anderson.
Good morning, I hope you slept well. She smiled when she saw it. Ever since she agreed to speak with him next Friday, he had been sending her little texts. They were ones she used to get when they were dating. Stepping in the shower, she thought about Anderson and what they would talk about next week. She knew if he still did not want children then she couldn’t get back together with him. Even if they were mates, she wouldn’t compromise having children. She’d always wanted them and dreamed of being a stay at home mom. Yes, she loved art and had a degree in art history, but that was to pass the time until she could have a family of her own. Ellie, Josie, and Roxie made her extremely jealous. They got to snuggle their babies and feel what it is like to have a baby grow inside them. She remembered when Roxie found out she was pregnant with twins, she’d been sick for the first trimester and had no energy. Evelyn went over during her lunch hour to make sure she was eating. She paused and considered her queasy stomach to Roxie’s symptoms and shook her head. She couldn’t be pregnant. It had been almost six weeks since she and Anderson had been intimate, and she’d done nothing with Preston.
She was happy Preston found his mate. Everyone should have their happily ever after. She sympathized with him about not being able to be with his mate right away. Evelyn stepped out of the shower and felt dizzy. She gripped the towel bar and held on as the dizziness went away. Shaking her head, she wrapped herself up in a towel and went to get herself a banana. She ate the banana and felt much better. Deciding she needed to take better care of her health, Evelyn resolved to start a food diary to keep track of the things she ate. Clearly she needed to be eating healthier to care for her body. Once she felt human again, she dressed in a pair of olive green capris, a black t-shirt and her favorite pair of sandals. Today she would be driving up to Philadelphia and wanted to be as comfortable as she could be. She checked her suitcase to make sure she had her makeup, curling iron, and shoes. If she forgot anything, her mother would never let her forget it.
I am off to Philly. Text me if you need me. She sent a text to Roxie and left, picking up her garment bag with her dress and her suitcase.
Drive safe, let me know when you get there. Tell your mom hi and congratulate Luke for us. Roxie sent her a text back and Evelyn started up her little car. She prayed it would make the trip up and back in one piece. She’d been neglecting it and knew she needed to get it into the shop for an oil change and tire rotation. Putting on her favorite music, she started the four-hour drive up to Philadelphia. The only thing she wanted to do besides the engagement party Saturday night was to visit Reading Terminal Market. She’d read so many amazing things about the market that she knew she had to check it out.
Halfway through her drive, she stopped at a rest area and went inside to use the bathroom and get herself some coffee. Walking inside she had to walk back out, the smells from all the fast food places made her want to throw up. What was happening to her? Walking back in, she made sure to head to the small market away from the fast food places. She grabbed herself water, some grapes and paid as quickly as she could. Settling in her car, she drank the water and ate the grapes before she felt human again. Starting the drive again, she called her doctor’s office, she needed to know what was happening.
Pulling into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, she parked her car and got out. A valet walked up to her car and asked,
“Yes, for the Tate engagement party,” she replied. The young man nodded and walked over to his station to get her a ticket for her car. She pulled out her suitcase and garment bag, handling the young man her car keys after taking off her house key.
“When you check out, just bring me the ticket and I will bring your car back here,” he explained.
“Okay, thank you,” she said and walked into the hotel. The place made her miss her apartment in White Valley. Fancy places made her nervous. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to handle two nights here.
“Welcome, checking in?” a young lady asked standing behind the counter. Evelyn and nodded and answered,
“Evelyn Tate, I have a room reserved for the weekend,” she answered. After a few minutes of clicking away on the computer, the young lady smiled again.
“Yes, here we are. You are in room 502. Breakfast will be served in the lounge area behind you. The pool and spa are open until ten. Please feel free to get a drink at the bar until midnight. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Tate.”
“Thank you.” She took her room key and walked over to the elevator. She would let her mom know she was here once she was settled in her room. Sending a text, she let Roxie know she’d made it safely and would send her pictures of her room. Stepping off the elevator, she ran into her brother Victor and his girlfriend Jeanie.
“Evvy!” Victor crushed her in a tight hug and spun her around.
“Vic!” she cried and hugged him tightly. It had been forever since she’d seen her oldest brother. He had the same brown curly hair and brown eyes she did, but he was a foot taller than her.
“You look amazing,” Jeanie said once Victor had released her. Evelyn then spied a ring on her hand and grinned.
“When did he propose?” she asked, pointing to the ring.
“Actually, we went to Vegas in May and got married,” Jeanie replied and Evelyn gasped.
“You did not! Mom is going to kill you,” she told her brother. Victor laughed and shook his head.
“I know, but we didn’t want a big wedding, and I knew mom would insist on one. We wanted to get married and didn’t want to wait,” he replied. She pulled him in for another tight hug and then gave Jeanie one.
“When are you going to tell everyone?”
“We thought on Sunday at brunch. I don’t want to take away this time from Luke and Alexis,” Jeanie answered and Evelyn nodded her agreement.
“Smart, but hide your rings. If I noticed as soon as I saw you, then Mom will most definitely notice,” she commented, and they both blanched.
“Good idea,” Victor replied and slipped his wedding ring off.
“What are your plans for today?” Jeanie asked her.
“Well, I have all those brownies to get to Mom. Luke asked me to make five batches for the party tomorrow. Then I was thinking of hiding in my room while everyone arrived. Tomorrow before the party I want to go to the Reading Terminal Market.” She shifted her bag on her shoulder, and Victor took it from her.
“Come on, we shouldn’t keep you out here away from your room,” Jeanie said and led the way to their block of rooms.
“I am 502,” she replied following.
“Right next to us,” Jeanie commented. They made it to her room, and all walked inside. Evelyn had to take a moment to appreciate the room. There was a king-sized bed, a set of chairs and a couch around the television and a fireplace. Checking out the bathroom, she saw a large tub and a standing shower.
“This room is massive,” she announced, and the two laughed.
“I know. We were joking that the room is almost as big as our apartment,” Victor replied.
“How is living in New Hampshire?”
“Good. I started a new job with an IT company,” Victor explained.
“And I am in charge of the HR department for his company,” Jeanie added, and Evelyn looked at them in surprise.
“Won’t that be a conflict of interest?”
“We asked, but they didn’t care. One of the reasons we got married, besides wanting to spend the rest of our lives together, was to make it easier for the company. If we were dating and broke up, things could become awkward. Now that we are married the company sees us as less of a risk,” Victor answered.
“Wow,” she said and dropped onto the bed. Victor and Jeanie took up places on her couch and she knew it was coming.
“How is White Valley? I heard from Mom you moved into a single bedroom apartment,” Victor asked.
“I love it. It is such a nice small town, but it doesn’t feel outdated if you know what I mean? We are getting a new shopping center and the town is having Preston Reese build it,” she said, and Victor gave her a surprised look. He was the same age as Preston and knew him from high school.
“Isn’t he the one who was our school’s quarterback?” Victor asked, and she nodded.
“He has a very successful construction business,” she answered, and he arched an eyebrow at her.
“How do you know?” Jeanie asked, and Evelyn noticed a shrewd look on her face.
“Preston and I dated for a few weeks, but he has met his mate and we are going to remain friends,” she explained.
“After Anderson?” Victor replied.
“You know the two of them were rivals in high school right?” Victor pointed out, and she nodded.
“I am well aware. Roxie’s sister-in-law Josie hosts these Mate Me events. That is where Roxie met Xander. I went to one at the Clover Leaf Inn. June’s granddaughter Caroline has reopened it. I met Preston there, and we hit it off. He is a very nice man once he stopped trying to impress me,” she explained.
“How did Anderson take it?” Victor asked, and she shrugged.
“I don’t know and I don’t care. Anderson made his choice when he told me he would never get married or have children. I want both, so I kicked him to the curb for good at the beginning of June.”
“Good for you!” Jeanie said and gave her a bright smile.
Knock, knock. She stood and opened the door to see Luke and Alexis standing on the other side.
“Baby sister!” Luke wrapped her up in very much the same hug Victor had not ten minutes before.
“Congratulations you two!” she told them and hugged Alexis.
“We all thought it would be you and Anderson. You two were so cute together,” Alexis said and a pang of sadness clenched her heart. She missed Anderson, but wouldn’t compromise for him.
“Well, he didn’t want marriage or children,” she said with a shrug. Alexis pulled her in for another hug and she and Luke took the chairs available.
“Tell me how Luke proposed,” Evelyn said trying to get the topic off of her and her failed love life.
“Well, he…” Alexis began, Evelyn tried to listen, but her heart hurt. She wanted what her brothers had. She wanted a happy future, and she knew it wouldn’t be one without Anderson. Doing her best, she hid her feelings and listened to her brother and Alexis talk about their plans for their wedding.
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