Cherish & Blessed

By: Tere Michaels

He didn’t understand it, but bless anything that made Elizabeth giggle like that.

Next to him sat Danny, who had his nose buried in his phone but occasionally looked up at the girls.

One girl in particular.

Her name was Star, and she had pink hair and a nose ring. Of course she was the girl he was desperately trying not to notice.

Evan’s phone buzzed—Matt. He was with Jim on a business trip to Las Vegas, where they were observing a casino’s security system at the behest of a new client who was thinking of buying the place. Because he liked their craps table.

Every time Evan thought he’d observed shocking rich-person behavior, Matt and Jim had another story.

The how’s it going? text was accompanied by pictures of the suite Matt was staying in. If it had been painted in real gold and the bed made of money, it would have looked cheap in comparison to what he was seeing now.

“Holy crap, is that Matt’s room?” Danny said, leaning over his shoulder.

“Suite. I think there are three rooms,” Evan said absently. He texted back how much are you stealing when you leave?

I’m offended was Matt’s reply.

“Tell him to bring home the little shampoos and stuff.”

Evan sent along Danny’s request.

Full sized. Bought another suitcase. Won’t need soap ever again.

THE PHONE rang as Evan was herding everyone to the SUV and surreptitiously making sure Danny got to sit next to Star. It was the least he could do.

“Hey,” Matt said cheerfully when he picked up. “Listen, take the kids to Elena and Walt’s, then hop a plane to Las Vegas. I’m totally serious.”

Evan shut the sliding door and walked slowly to the driver’s side. “You’re totally crazy. I have to work,” he said sternly. “No fun stuff for me.”

Matt scoffed. “I’m working and I’m here! Come to Las Vegas!”

Evan leaned against the van. “I’m going to take a bunch of kids to our house, feed them a wholesome meal, drive them to their respective homes, check homework, and then pay the bills. What are you doing tonight?”

“Cirque de Soleil, front-row seats.”

They shared a laugh, but a part of Evan—a tiny, so very tiny part—wanted to call Elena.

“Did you hear yet?”

Evan sighed as the tone of the conversation changed. “Tomorrow.”

“You know you’re going to get a great score and you know they’re going to offer you Midtown South,” Matt said gently. “You ready for that?”

It was a subject they’d been over a thousand times already, but despite encouragement from everyone—from his ex-boss, Vic, to his former partner, Helena, to his friends at GOAL—Evan still struggled.

The kids in the van laughed and giggled. Evan was pulled back to where he was right now.

And it wasn’t as Captain Evan Cerelli of Midtown South, PR Poster Boy. At least not yet. But he couldn’t deny it was coming. “Yeah, I’m ready.”

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