Life After Dark - Chapter 116

Chapter 116

~ New Year's Eve: A Date With Destiny ~

"Whoa, Mama!"

Eve turned away from the mirror to glance over her shoulder at her admirer. Her brown eyes flashed with sassiness and mirth as she arched a perfect eyebrow. "Come again? Is that the best you can do?"

"Nah," Chris grinned as he slammed the Staff Lounge door closed with the heel of his shoe. His dark eyes wandered over his colleague and good friend and a grin spread across his handsome face. The black strapless, mini dress left very little to his overactive imagination. "I can't do any better than that unless I want a slap."

Playfully rolling her eyes, Eve turned away from Chris to admire her reflection. As she applied the finishing touches to her make-up, she said, "You are one piece of work. Has anyone ever told you that?"

"Maybe once or twice, but I didn't listen to 'em," he chuckled softly. Wanting to get a closer look at his usually absentee roommate, Chris sauntered towards her. When he noticed her glance at him in the mirror, he changed his mind and headed for the sofa. As he plopped down, he released a loud sigh. "Richie Rich again, I take it?"

"He has a name," Eve said, glaring him through the mirror's reflection.

"Does he?" Chris shrugged. "I didn't notice. The dollar signs always prevent me from noticing that one minor detail-"

"What are you trying to say?" Eve asked, whirling around to face him. With a snap, her compact closed shut and she stormed towards him. "I am not with AJ because of his family's money!"

Chris raised his hands in mock defense. "I never said you were."

Refusing to be abated, Eve planted her hands on her hips. "So, what are you saying? For weeks now, you've made comments about him and about us. If you've got something to say, say it or otherwise-"

"I've got something to say," he declared. He rose from the sofa to stare down into her eyes.

"Yeah?" she challenged him.

"You could do better than him-"

"Oh, Chris, please!" Eve threw up her hands and turned away from him again. The heels of her black pumps click-clacked on the tile floor as she strode to her locker. With her back to him, she pulled out her matching sequined bolero jacket, inspecting it for wrinkles, lent and anything else that would make her ensemble less than perfect.

"What?" he asked, moving to stand behind her. "You said for me to say what's on my mind, so here it is! He's using you, Eve, and the sooner you realize that-"

"What?" she asked with a laugh. "He's using me? Chris, I've heard some outrageous things come out of that mouth of yours, but nothing as ridiculous as that-"

"What's so ridiculous or outrageous about me looking out for you?"

Eve laughed even harder and pointed at him as she said, "That! Okay, now that was even better than the last thing you said. You look out for someone? And me, at that?! Okay, Ramsey. What gives? Why all the jokes? Are you trying to find humor on your lone New Year's Eve?"

Chris shook his head at her as she continued to chuckle softly. "Okay, maybe I deserved some of that, but I can't help but tell you what I see. He is using you, and the sooner you wake up from this dream of the perfect family, the better."

One arm was in the process of sliding into her jacket as Eve stopped to look at him. Her laughter ceased and the ticking of the clock was the only sound in the room. "Okay, so you think he's using me," she said quietly. "Explain to me how he's using me and when you're done with that explanation, you can explain my dream of the perfect family to me because I didn't know that I had one."

"The kid, Eve," Chris said, softly. "He's using you to be a mommy to his kid. He's always leaving him with you and expecting you to take care of him. He's taking your fondness for his kid for granted and you're buying into it. The world you thought you were gonna have with Baldwin and Serena exploded and now, you're trying to replace it with Quartermaine and his kid. With the mother still in the picture, do you think you really stand a chance?"

Eve inhaled sharply and took a step back. Her voice quavered a bit as she spoke, but her eyes never left his. "You sure know how to ring in the New Year, don't ya?" She pushed her arm through the other sleeve and pulled the jacket on. She gave herself the time she needed to respond to Chris' heartfelt beliefs. Once she knew that she was calm enough, she spoke again. "He's not using me. I happily help him out with his son as much as I can. Michael's a great little boy and so is his dad, who, by the way, absolutely adores me. I'm sure that after the mess I've made of my love life with Bennett and Scott, you would think that no man's capable of seeing that I'm more th-than… What, Chris? A roll in the hay, perhaps?"

"I never said-"

"You didn't have to. You've never had to. We've been mostly platonic, but I'm not as clueless as you seem to think. I see how you look at me, and I know what you think. But fortunately for me, AJ isn't like you. And, as for Carly, I don't have anything to worry about. AJ and I may or may not last, but one thing's for sure, she won't be the cause of whatever happens between us. I can guarantee you that."

Eve picked up her matching purse from her locker and then slammed the door shut. She moved towards the door. She grabbed her overcoat from the coat rack and with her other hand, reached for the doorknob. And, as she pulled the door open, Chris spoke softly.

"It wasn't my intention to hurt you, Lambert. You have to know that." Chris cleared his throat and reached inside himself for the courage to continue. "I care about you. Yeah, I look at you in a way that I shouldn't, but that doesn't mean I don't care. I just don't want you to get hurt again. I'm not a jerk for wanting that."

Eve turned away from the door to look back at Chris. "Now, you're not a jerk for wanting that." She smiled at him and said, "Happy New Year." Then, she left him alone in the break room.

As Eve headed for the elevators, she took a deep breath. Chris' concerns had touched her deeper than she cared to admit to herself or to him. What if he was right? Maybe she should touch base with AJ that night to be sure. But then again, what if he was wrong? What if saying something to AJ about her doubts would forge some sort of wall between them? She didn't know which choice was the better of the two. She only knew that after several failed relationships, she didn't want to add another one to her belt.

The light above the elevator flashed, signaling that the doors would open. She took a step back to allow the newcomers room to exit the car. Her eyes widened in surprise as she recognized the quartet and her medical training kicked into gear. Forgetting about her own troubles, she went after the injured party. "Hey! What happened to you?"

Cradling his bleeding left hand, Sly groaned as four pairs of eyes stared at him. Lark, Emily and Jordan looked at him in amusement, almost daring him to tell the truth. Eve's eyes were filled with concern. The concern comforted him and turning his back on his friends, he sadly said, "I sliced my hand."

"I can see that," Eve said. "We have to get you into the ER. Come on, follow me."

"Thanks, Eve," Sly said. He flashed a triumphant grin to his friends as he followed her. "I'm right behind you."

"And, so are we," Jordan chuckled. He held on to Emily's hand as they followed the others into the examining room. Once they were inside, Jordan said, "Eve asked you another question. Aren't you gonna answer it?"

"Yes, sweetheart," Lark said, barely able to keep a straight face. She pushed a lock of hair from his forehead as she said, "Unless you'd prefer we tell her…"

"Maybe she doesn't need to know," Sly said, with a hopeful gleam in his blue eyes.

"And, maybe I do," Eve said with a teasing smile. "I'm a doctor and there isn't much I haven't heard, so out with it."

"Okay," he said, grudgingly. Desperate to stall his explanation for as long as possible, he quickly latched onto another topic. Frowning, he looked at Eve from head to toe. "You're not on duty, are you? That dress is too…too-" A sharp poke in the ribs from Lark stopped him from going into too much detail. Instead, he said, "You're too dressed up for this place. If you have plans, don't stay on my account. Someone else can help me."

Eve couldn't help but laugh. Smiling at the teenager, she said, "I wasn't planning on staying. My date is late and until he arrives, I'll see what I can do for you."

"I'd hate for you to get my blood all over that dress. Someone else can help me," he said. He bit back a wince as the throbbing from his hand became more pronounced.

Eve nodded at him in agreement and reached for the phone. As she spoke in low tones, Sly sat down on the examining table. Lark followed him and placed an arm around his shoulders. He leaned against her and closed his eyes as another wave of pain shot up from his hand.

"It really hurts, huh?" Lark asked, gently stroking his arm. As Sly kept his eyes closed and merely nodded in response to her question, she felt a twinge of guilt course through her. She kissed his forehead and whispered, "Sorry for laughing before."

"It's okay," he murmured, smiling slightly as he enjoyed the feel of her lips on his brow. He wasn't the type to outwardly engage in public displays of affection, but on this New Year's Eve with a gash in his left hand, he found that he didn't give a damn about PDAs or what other's would think. At that moment, he preferred comfort to teasing. It didn't make the pain or the slight humiliation go away, but it did help some.

"Hey, man," Jordan said softly, "I'm sorry, too. I thought you were just kidding around. I didn't know it really hurt."

"Yeah, me, too, Sly," Emily added. She moved away from Jordan's side to give her old pal a pat on the back. "Sorry for laughing."

Warily, Sly opened his eyes. He looked at his two closest friends and pondered their sincerity. The two pairs of brown eyes that stared back him were filled with sincerity. He gave them a smile and said, "I forgive you both this time. I guess I should apologize, too. It's looks like I ruined everyone's New Year's Eve. Sorry about that."

"You're forgiven," Jordan shrugged.

"You don't have to apologize!" Lark said, as she glared at Jordan for his quick comment. "What happened to you was an accident. We’re all sorry for laughing. We're the ones who need forgiveness, not you."

"Aw, Lark," Sly mumbled with a sheepish smile.

Jordan's mouth parted in surprised. He couldn't believe what his eyes and ears were telling him. Sly and Lark were being nice to each other. Lark was fawning over Sly and he was eating it up. Unbelievable-

"Jordan!" Emily whispered. With dazed eyes, he looked down at her. She mouthed to him that he should close his mouth.

He promptly followed her bidding. "I didn't know it was open." As Sly and Lark lost themselves in each other and Sly's injured hand, Jordan pulled Emily outside of the examining room. With a nod towards the room, he said, "Can you believe that?"

"Those two?" Emily asked. "Nope," she said with a laugh. "Never in a million years. If they're not careful, they're gonna be as sappy as we are."

Jordan laughed. "Sappy? You think we're sappy? You maybe, but not me."

"Cute," she grinned at him, "very cute-"

"I'll say," a throaty feminine voice softly agreed.

With a slight frown, Emily turned at the sound of the newcomer's voice. The young girl, who seemed to be around the same age as Emily, was obviously a patient. Her dark brown hair fell to her shoulders in waves and she seemed to only have eyes for Jordan. Emily glanced at Jordan to see what his reaction was and she was pleased to see that the look on his face was polite, yet lacked any interest in the other girl. Good, Emily thought.

"Hi, I don't mean to intrude," the girl began, "but aren't you Jordan James, the drummer in DJLS?"

"Yeah, that's me," he smiled. "The one and only."

"Wow," she gushed, her brown eyes aglow with infatuation. "I can't believe it! I just saw your video in the Rec Room, and w-wow!"

"Yeah, it's me," he repeated, unsure of how to react with his first fan encounter. His hand tightened around Emily's in excitement and he immediately turned to her. "This is my girlfriend, Emily. What's your name?"

"Micki. Micki Williams," she answered him. Keeping her eyes on Jordan, she said, "Hi, Emily."

Emily didn't know where to be offended or laugh. She did, however, kept her hand in Jordan's.

"Would you mind giving me an autograph?" Micki asked, a hopeful expression on her face. " think I have some paper in my pocket." She dug her hands inside her robe's pockets, but came up empty. The look on her face became instantly sad. "I don't have anything."

"I think I have something," Emily said, releasing Jordan's hand to look inside her purse. She pulled out a small notepad and a pen. "Here," she held both out to Micki, "you can use this."

"Thanks!" The girl's smile was genuine as she took the items from Emily and handed them to Jordan.

Jordan chuckled softly to mask the grin that was quickly spreading across his face. A fan! He cleared his throat and pointed towards the waiting area. "My handwriting's not the greatest, but sitting down might help."

As the three of them sat on the sofa, with Jordan in the middle, he asked, "Is there anything in particular you'd like for me to say?"

"I'm not sure. You can say whatever you want, but could you sign it 'from Jordan, the one and only'? That was the first thing-" She abruptly stopped speaking as she began to cough. She covered her mouth and turned away from them.

"Would you like some water?" Jordan asked, moving to stand.

Micki shook her head. Once the coughing ended, she turned back around to face them again. "I'm fine. I think I became too excited. I'm okay now."

"Are you sure?" Emily asked, looking at the girl with concern. "I could get someone. I know most of the doctors and-"

"N-no, I'm fine. I have…well, I have sickle cell anemia and I got an infection," Micki explained. "I'll be okay."

"I have a cousin who has that, too," Jordan said softly. "Have you been here long?"

"Just a few days," she said quietly. She lowered her eyes to her hands and Jordan and Emily both took the hint. They stopped asking questions. Jordan concentrated on signing the paper and Emily watched him, happy to share the experience with him.

"There you go," Jordan said, smiling as he handed her the sheet of paper.

"Thanks!" she said, taking it from him. She rose from the sofa and took a step back. She glanced from Jordan to Emily and said, "Thanks again and Happy New Year."

"Happy New Year to you, too," Jordan and Emily said. Once she was gone, Jordan turned to Emily. "What do you suppose that was all about? Do you think she's really okay?"

"I'm not sure," Emily told him. "She seemed kinda nervous. I can ask my mom about her later. Maybe she'll tell us something. Would you like for me to do that?"

"Yeah. Maybe we could all come down here and surprise her. A surprise visit from DJLS could be-" He blushed as Emily stared at him with a silly smile on her face. "What?"

"You are such a sweetheart. Truly an original," she said. She wrapped her arms around his waist and stood on tiptoe to give him a soft kiss on his lips. "I am very happy to be with you, Jordan James."

"Aw, Emmie," he sighed with a smile. "I'm very happy to be with you, too-"


"I see them, Michael," AJ said, as he and his son interrupted the tender moment between his sister and her boyfriend. "They think that just because it's New Year's Eve, they can smooch it up anywhere…even in hospitals."

"Hi, AJ," Jordan said, reluctantly removing his arms from around Emily. "Hey, little man."

"Ja-Ja!" Michael greeted as he waved a chubby fist.

"Happy New Year, AJ, and you, too, Michael," Emily said. She held out her hands for her nephew and he promptly struggled towards her. She held him close to her as she glanced at AJ. "I'm surprised to see this little guy here. Eve's all dressed up. Didn't you two have special plans?"

"We do…we did. Look it's a long story. Do you know where she is?" AJ asked.

"She's back there," Jordan replied, pointing toward the examining rooms. "She's helping Sly."

"Thanks, would you guys mind doing me a huge favor?"

"We'll watch him for you," Jordan told him.

AJ handed Michael's diaper bag to the younger man and took off towards the examining room. From a distance, he could hear Eve's confident voice and his footsteps quickly took him to her. He stood in the doorway for a moment, content to just watch her as she consulted with a nurse. Within seconds, she felt his presence and her eyes drifted to his. She gave him a brief smile and quickly directed her attention back to the matter at hand. Once she was done with her instructions, she went to him.

"You're late," she said as she rested reproving eyes upon him.

"I'm sorry," he told her, "but I have a very good reason."

"You'd better!" she said, poking him in the ribs. When AJ moved to pull her away, she stopped him. She looked back inside the examining room and said, "Sly, you'll be just fine, but next time remember where you put your car keys. Screw drivers weren't made to jimmy locks, you know."

"Yeah, I know that…now," he smiled sheepishly. "Thanks again, Eve. Happy New Year."

"Yeah, Happy New Year," Lark repeated from where she stood beside Sly.

Eve and AJ waved at them and walked away. With her arm linked through AJ's, Eve released an exaggerated sigh, "Okay, what gives? Why were you late?"

Before AJ could speak, a young giggling voice gave him away. Eve's brow creased into a slight frown. "Is that who I think it is? Is that Michael?" A few more steps revealed to her eyes what her ears already knew to be true. She saw Emily and Jordan playing with the little boy and she quickly turned back to AJ. "I thought Carly had him this weekend. What happened?"

"That's why I'm late," AJ began. He took her hand and pulled her away so that there were as alone as they could be. He gently took her hands in his and said, "Carly's gone."

"What does that mean?" Eve asked. She thought she understood, but she refused to make an assumption. He needed to tell her so that she could be sure.

"That means that Carly left. She took off. When I took Michael to Bobbie's so that he could be with her, she was nowhere to be found. I started to just bring Michael with me, but I decided to wait around for Bobbie to show up. She did and we both discovered that Carly had taken her stuff and had split."

"Did she leave a note…or anything?" Eve asked.

"She left nothing behind. She simply took off. Bobbie has no idea where she could be."

"So what does this mean for Michael?" Eve asked softly, her eyes were a little dazed from shock. "I can't believe from the way she carried on so that she would just leave him."

"Well, she did," AJ said. "And as far as Michael goes, I'm going to the court for sole custody on Monday. I don't trust her and I won't put anything past her, so I'm covering all of my bases this time around. And, now, this leaves you and me. I hate to do this here, but I can't put it off. Eve, Michael is everything to me and I intend to be there for him…to be the dad to him that I never really had. Is this something you want to be a part of? If you say, no and turn around and walk away, I'd understand-"

"Never." She silenced him with her words and with a gentle finger to his lips. "I am here for you and your son for here and for now. I can't speak for what the future holds, but I can honestly tell you that for today and for as long as we're good to each other and for each, I'll be here. I love Michael, and…well, I just wanted you to know that."

"I knew," he said softly. He felt a feeling of warmth and comfort sweep over him at the tender way she said his son's name. "And, Eve?"

"Yeah?" she softly asked.

"Well, I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you. Your being there for Michael, of course, but also for me. I love having you in my life, Evelyn Lambert." He pulled her into his arms as his husky voice breathed against her ear. "I love you, Eve. I just wanted you to know that. Happy New Year."

Eve's eyes brimmed with sudden tears. She whispered against his ear, "I love you, too, and thank you for making this a very Happy New Year indeed."

Go to Chapter 117.

Go to Chapter 117