"Vince, did Mr. Jackson ask for an attorney yet?"
"Yeah, Lieutenant. Heís with her now." The young officer came into Johnís from the hall where heíd been passing.
John took a deep breath before asking the question to which he already knew the answer.
"Whoís the attorney?"
"Ms. Williamson, boss. Sheís been with him for almost an hour. She said she would stop up here on her way out."
"Thanks," John replied. He hadnít seen Evangeline in person in a week, ever since the truth had come out about Cristian. Heíd planned to tell her himself, but the time had never been exactly right. Then Antonio had taken a trip to the prison where Cristian was housed and had seen a portrait he had done of Natalie. Heíd immediately known that his brother/cousin was indeed alive.
After some heavy discussion with Antonio, Cristian had admitted the truth; the whole truth, including how John had known the truth but had been sworn to secrecy. Antonio had been furious at first and had gone to Evangeline to get help for his brother. Evangeline had gone straight to John with the news. John then admitted to the results of the DNA test and watched as Evangeline walked out.
He hadnít talked to her since and it was weighing heavily on him. She wouldnít answer his calls. She only came to the station when he wasnít there and only to talk to Bo. He wasnít sleeping or eating well. He had been spending more time at the gym and he guessed it was paying off. Physically, he was feeling more like a thirty year old than the thirty-eight that he was, but emotionally he was feeling every one of his years. Heíd gone many a round with the heavy bag to work off some of his frustration.
"Lieutenant," Evangeline said from behind John. She had taken a deep breath before coming in the bull pen. She wasnít completely sure that she was ready to face John, but she was a professional and she would not allow her feelings for him to keep her from doing her job.
"Hey, counselor," he said in response to her greeting. Heíd known the moment she came into the area. He wasnít sure if it was her scent or the staccato of her heels on the floor. He realized in that moment how much he really had missed her just being around.
"I just wanted to inform you that Iím representing Mr. Jackson so any further questions that you have should go through me."
"Officer Miller told me that you were with him."
"Good. Iím sure Iíll see you later," she said, turning toward the door to leave.
"Will you?" he asked, stopping her in her tracks. He walked up behind her to do what he knew had to be done. "Will you see me later? We need to talk."
"John, I donít have anything to say to you right now." She didnít turn around as she spoke.
"Well, I have some things to say to you. I need to explain. Are you willing to listen to me?"
She looked up at him with a humorless smile before responding. "John, you donít have to explain to me how you put Natalie above the rest of Cristianís family. You and Cris made her more important than everyone else who cared about him. The two of you made decisions that put him in jail for the past six months, when he needed psychiatric help to help the police find out who wanted Tico and Antonio dead. Something we still donít know. That puts Antonio and everyone around him in danger. You donít have anything to explain. Goodbye." She walked out of the station not looking back at him.
John sighed and dropped his head. Everything she said was on point, but when he promised Cris that he would keep the secret, he hadnít thought about the effect it would potentially have on everyone else involved. Heíd messed up big time and he didnít know how he was going to fix it.
Some time laterÖ
"Hey John," Nora said walking into Johnís office, with her customary peace offering: a hot cup of coffee. "Have you been home?"
"Yeah. I went home for a few hours last night and then I came back to the station."
"John, you have to take better care of yourself. You look awful."
"Thanks, Nora, but Iím okay."
"No, youíre not and neither is Evangeline."
"What do you mean?" What could be wrong with Evangeline? He hadnít heard anything through their mutual friends. Michael still talked to Evangeline on a regular basis and she and Marcie spent time together regularly.
"I mean sheís hurting and you need to make her talk to you."
"Nora, I donít have anything to say that she wants to hear."
"Make her want to hear what you have to say." She tossed him a saucy smile and bounced out of his office.
He looked at the picture of Evangeline that had been sitting on his desk for a couple of months. She was sitting in the park laughing at something and boy was she beautiful. John knew she was avoiding him and he understood it, but he didnít like it. He knew he had hurt her and he regretted it more than he could imagine. A few months ago, he had admitted to himself that he was falling in love with Evangeline.
He realized he had fallen when Evangeline had been in danger during The Killing Club serial killings. He knew then that he wouldnít survive if anything happened to her. Shortly after that, heíd gone to the jewelry store and bought a ring. He knew that he wanted to marry her and even though she was afraid of divorce, he knew he could convince her to try with him. Heíd planned to ask her to marry him the day after sheíd found out about Cristian. Sheíd walked away and the ring was still in the box in the drawer of his bedside table.
John felt like his life was on hold. He was alive, but he wasnít really living. The two things that he had were his brother, who wouldnít let him crawl back into himself when the mess hit the fan; and Antonio.
He was surprised when Antonio had come to him and apologized for telling Evangeline about Cristian before John had a chance to. When Antonio had cooled off and spent more time with Cristian, heíd gotten a better understanding of the position John had been placed in. He sympathized with him and he knew that he was indirectly responsible for a little of the drama going on in Johnís life.
Antonio had even talked to Evangeline in an attempt to get through to her and convince her to talk to John. Heíd been unsuccessful. John had a feeling he was going to have to ambush Evangeline and that would only make things worse. As he was contemplating how he could get her alone, he was interrupted by Vince with a case file.
"Hey." Nora smiled as she sat down in the seat across from Evangeline. Evangeline was sitting in the palace going over a clientís file.
"Hey, what a pleasant surprise," She put the file away and returned Noraís smile. "What are you doing here?"
"Having lunch with you."
"Thatís nice of you. Iím actually free. I had a meeting with a client and it was cancelled."
"Well, itís a good thing that Iím here." Nora had a certain look on her face; one that Evangeline recognized.
"Okay, what is it?"
"What are you talking about?"
"What do you want to tell me?" Evangeline asked.
"Why do you think I have anything to tell you?"
"You have that "Iím going to give you advice whether you want it or not" look."
"You need to talk to John," Nora said with complete conviction.
"Donít Nora me. Youíre miserable. Heís miserable and thereís no need for you to be."
"Nora, he put Natalie above the rest of Cristianís family. What does that say about his feelings for her? I canít compete with that and I wonít. I love him more than I ever thought I would, but I canít lose who I am in an attempt to keep him."
"Evangeline, youíre not going to lose yourself. Youíre too strong for that."
"Sometimes I wonder about that where John is concerned. Iím pretty weak to his charms."
"Itís like that when you love someone. The problem here is that you arenít looking at this objectively."
"Youíre right. Iím not and I donít think I can. In fact, I donít want to talk about this anymore."
"Tough, because Iíve not finished." Evangeline sighed but didnít move, as Nora continued. "Have you taken the time to look at this from Johnís point of view? Cristian made John promise not to tell the truth. Was it stupid? Yes. Was it wrong? Absolutely. Did it potentially put other people in danger? Yes, but John made a promise."
Nora paused for a few seconds to let that sink in. "When it comes right down to it, John is a man of his word. Can you imagine what kind of stress he was under keeping the secret? This wasnít about Johnís feelings for Natalie, it was about a promise he made. I think you owe it to John to at least listen to his side of the story. He loves you and you love him. I love you both and you need to fix this. You are too good together to let it be torn apart by someone elseís drama."
She took a deep breath after her monologue. "Now, Iíll get off my soapbox and order a salad. What are you having?"
Evangeline was grateful for the change of subject. She needed time to process what Nora had said. She also needed to use a page from her own book and take a step back and look at things from Johnís side. Sheíd been so hurt that she hadnít considered anything past the obvious. Sheíd been wrong to do that.
When John had finally finished at the station, he decided to enlist his brotherís help. He had Michael call Evangeline to his place which was two floors above Johnís. Michael made John promise that he was going to fix this mess with Evangeline because Michael didnít want to get on Eís bad side for helping him.
He still wasnít exactly sure what he was going to tell her; how he was going to explain, but he needed to see her alone and didnít know another way to make that happen. This way they were for the most part on neutral ground. They couldnít go on like this. Nora wasnít the only one to mention that Evangeline was miserable. He had to do something for both of their sakes.
When Michael had called and said he needed Evangeline to come to his place right away, she hadnít given it a second thought. Michael needed her and she thought of him as family. She had cancelled her afternoon appointments and rushed to Michaelís apartment.
When John opened the door, Evangeline was confused. Had something happened to Michael?
"Whereís Michael?" she asked anxiously.
"At Marcieís, I think."
"He said he needed me to come over."
"I know. I harassed him into doing it."
"You mean he called me over here to see you?"
"I thought something was wrong and that he neededÖ." John pulled her into a breathtaking kiss. As she was talking, John realized that he had to kiss her. It had been too long. He knew the likelihood of getting slapped was high, but it was worth it. He had missed her. At first, sheíd tensed and then sheíd given in to the need to be close to him. This kiss was so much better than the memories. When they pulled out of the kiss, John traced the side of Evangelineís face.
"Thatís so unfair." She opened her eyes and found herself lost in his blue ones.
"I know, but I had to do it," he said in a husky tone. "I couldnít resist."
She pulled out of his arms and walked across the room before sitting in an arm chair. She knew she was wouldnít be able to think straight with him touching her, especially after theyíd been apart for so long and she needed to have her wits about her.
"I want to understand. Iím ready to listen to you. Since the secret came out, all I could see was how the secret affected everyone else. I couldnít see how keeping it was affecting you and for a while I donít think I cared because I was hurt. Now, that Iíve taken some time, I realize that this is what was bothering you for so long."
"You know, Iíve said it before and Iíll say it again. I donít deserve you. Thanks for giving me a chance to explain."
She sat there and gave him time to gather his thoughts before telling her the story.
"When the DNA results came back, I didnít bother to open them right away because Cris had confessed that he wasnít really Cristian Vega and that heíd killed Tico. He had already been sentenced to life in prison when I opened the DNA results and saw that he was Cristian. I went straight to see him. We talked about the fact that he couldnít remember, but that didnít change the facts. I told him it should left up to his family to decide what to do with the information and that went for Natalie as well.
He wanted Natalie to have a life and he didnít think that would happen if she knew who he really was. He made me promise to keep it from her. If I was keeping it from her, I couldnít tell her family. Every time I saw Natalie or Antonio, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I knew how I would feel in the same situation and that they should know, but Iíd made a promise. I wanted to tell you so many times. A couple of times I almost did. I just wanted to share it with someone that I trusted, but that would have been selfish."
She didnít interrupt him with any questions as she listened to him talk about the struggle that he faced and how much he wanted to tell her. She watched his eyes as he spoke and knew without a shadow of doubt that he was telling her the truth.
"So you decided to be a martyr?" she asked when he stopped talking.
"I didnít think of it that way. Iíd made a promise and I didnít want to put you in the position of having to keep it for me."
"John, we were in a committed relationship." John picked up on the "were" in Evangelineís statement. "I love you. I wouldnít have judged you. I might even have talked you into going back to see Cristian and talk him into telling the truth. Youíre right that it was his secret to tell, to his family, but this is me. This had nothing to do with a case, so you could have told me. I mean, I helped get the DNA to test in the first place. I had a right to know the results if they were different than I expected."
"Okay, youíre right. So, since I messed up, where do we go from here?"
"I donít know, John. This is what Iíve talked about before; you not letting me in when something important is going on with you. I know that itís who you are, I just need to figure out if I can live with it." She gathered her purse and walked past him to the door. He knew that he had to let her leave if they had a chance of getting back the ground theyíd lost. He wasnít giving up; he was just retreating so that he could reassess the playing field. He wasnít going to lose her without a fight.
As she walked down the hall, she took a deep breath. When sheíd walked out Johnís door, sheíd been afraid that John was going to try to stop her. She wasnít completely sure that she could have walked out if he had and she needed time to think about what heíd told her.
When Michael got back from Marcieís, he went straight to Johnís. Heíd seen Johnís car, but not Evangelineís. He wanted to know how everything had gone. If Evangeline was there, he wouldnít even go in, but he needed to know something and he wasnít waiting until morning.
"Hey John, open up," Michael said after heíd knocked more than once and gotten no answer.
John opened the door and stepped back to allow Michael to pass without saying a word.
"Well, what happened?"
"What do you mean nothing? You promised me you were going to fix this."
"Michael, donít you think that I want to fix it? Evangeline listened then she left."
"What do you mean she left?"
"She has to decide if she can live with the fact that Iím not always open."
"Oh. Are you just going to leave it like that?"
"No, but Iím giving her time. I need her to trust me and I need it to be her decision. I donít want her regretting anything."
"Well, you better do something, because whether you admit it or not, you do love her. I know you do."
"Michael, you know how I feel about having these kinds of conversations."
"Yes, I do and I also know that you need to get over it; at least with the people that are closest to you."
"Thanks, Michael. Iíll keep that in mind."
Evangeline had been working with Jeff Braden, Cristianís attorney, to develop the new evidence to hopefully get him released from jail; and she was working from home on his case. As soon as she pulled the file open, she thought back to the night before and John. Sheíd listened to him and, oddly enough, she understood where he was coming from.
Now that sheíd actually listened to John, she understood where Antonio had been coming from when heíd come to her a week prior. He was her client and her friend, but she hadnít wanted to listen to him defend John.
"Evangeline, give John a chance."
"Antonio, I canít believe that you of all people are coming to me on Johnís behalf."
"Thatís why you should listen to me. I know Iím a hot head and Iím quick to jump to conclusions, but when I calm down I try to take a step back. Thatís what you need to do. Iíve talked to Cristian and I can see that he really pressured John to keep his secret. You know John better than anyone and you know if he made a promise he was going to keep it."
"Antonio, donít defend him to me. I donít want to hear it."
"You know you are the one to always calm me down and make me see reason when Iím going off the deep end. Well, I consider it my job to do the same for you."
"Antonio, thanks for caring, but I canít deal with this right now."
She appreciated that John wanted to protect her from having to keep a promise she hadnít made, but he should have told her; not just for her sake, but for his. He still didnít understand that he could lean on someone else for support; that he didnít have to be the strong one all the time. Could she live with that? Rather the question should be, did she love him enough to accept that part of him? Yeah, she did, but she wasnít ready to let him off the hook yet.
John had taken the day off, after having a heated discussion with Bo about a Cris. John was tired to paying for not telling anyone about Cris; first Antonio, Evangeline, Natalie and now Bo. Natalie had given him a piece of her mind the previous week and John could really care less. Bo had come at him because his niece was upset. John was tired of people telling him to be careful of Natalie. It was not his fault that her husband had lied to her, nor was it his responsibility to take care of her. John had much bigger fish to fry. He had to get Evangeline back.
John wasnít sure that Evangeline would be welcoming, but when he found out that she was working from home, he decided heíd try. He ordered lunch from the diner and made his way to her door. As he knocked dressed in jeans and a blue t-shirt, he attempted to come up with something witty to say. Nothing came. When she opened the door, his breath caught. She was absolutely beautiful in jeans and a close fitting t-shirt with her hair up in a ponytail. She looked about 18 and surprise covered her features.
"Hey," he said when he was finally able to take a breath.
"Hey, what are you doing here?"
"I brought lunch," he said holding up the take out bag.
"Just lunch. I just wanted to see you. I miss you Evangeline."
"Yeah, really. Can I come in?"
"Sure, Iím sorry. Come on in."
"When I called your office, they told me you were working from home. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, Iím just working on Crisí case. Iím helping his attorney get the sentencing overturned. I think we have a good chance of making that happen. Either way, heís going to see a psychiatrist to see if some of his memories can be retrieved so that we can find out who brainwashed him."
Upon hearing Evangeline mention working on Crisí case, John had become apprehensive. Maybe this wasnít the best idea heíd had after all. The last thing he wanted was to remind her of the whole Cris debacle.
"John, itís okay. Iím not mad at you anymore. Iím frustrated with me. I expect you to be more like me and I forget that youíre not. I want you to feel comfortable enough to share the tough stuff with me."
"Evangeline, I do feel comfortable sharing the tough stuff with you. Itís not that. I guess I just feel like thereís some stuff I need to deal with alone, but you are the only one that Iíd share it with."
She smiled at him then and took the bag going to the kitchen for plates and silverware. John followed her and smiled for the first time in weeks. He was exactly where he wanted to be; with the woman he loved more than life itself. He couldnít be happier.
They spent lunch talking about everything and nothing. John was just happy to be with her.
"Do you have to go to work?" Evangeline glanced over her shoulder as she put the dishes in the dishwasher.
"No, I took the day off."
"Really? Why?" Evangeline turned around and looked at him while he spoke.
"I just needed to be away from the station." He didnít look at her as he spoke. Something had to be going on. When John was dealing with something, normally the place he turned was work, unless something at work was causing the issue.
"Okay, I wanted to get away from Bo and Natalie and everybody else. I just wanted to be with you." He glanced at her to gage her reaction. She smiled in response to his comment.
"Even if I was still mad at you?"
"Yeah, even then."
"Well, itís a good thing that Iím not mad anymore, because you wouldnít have even gotten in here." She placed her hand on her hip and cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Is that right?" he asked as he moved to stand in front of her trapping her between him and the counter.
"Thatís right." She nodded in confirmation.
"I think I still could have gotten in." He smirked at her as he placed his hands on the counter on either side of her.
"You know Iím irresistible." He placed a kiss on her neck and lingered there.
"Is that right?" She held herself still even though she wanted to lean into him.
"John, you do realize that youíre pushing it, right?"
"Am I gonna get it?"
She laughed and wrapped her arms around his shoulders for a hug. He could be such a flirt sometimes, but he was her flirt. John wrapped his arms around Evangeline and buried his face in her neck breathing her in. He had missed this. The times he could just be and nothing more was expected. He thought back to the ring in his drawer and smiled. He could hardly wait to put that ring on her finger so the whole world would know that she was his and his alone. It was only a matter of time before he shared vows with her. That was a promise heíd have absolutely no problem keeping.