After John had been spending his nights at Evangeline’s for about a week, he and Evangeline appeared to have gotten into a routine. Since he’d "moved in", he’d made a point to be "home" by eight each night. Evangeline was normally there unless she had a late meeting with a client. Tonight was one of those nights.
John had talked to Evangeline earlier and he expected her home within the next hour. As he let himself into her apartment, he heard the phone ringing. He rushed to get it thinking it could be Evangeline calling. She’d made it clear that he was to answer the phone. Evangeline’s mother knew him and that he was staying with her so there was no reason for him not to answer. He grabbed the phone on the fourth ring.
“Hello, may I please speak to Evangeline?”
“She isn’t here right now. Can I take a message?”
“Yes, please tell her Viki Davidson called.”
“Hi, Viki. This is John.”
“Hello John, I wasn’t sure that it was you.” Viki sounded surprised, but he chose not to comment or ask her who else she thought it might be.
“Well, I’ll tell her as soon as she gets home. Do you want me to tell her what it’s about?”
“Sure. Just tell her that I have the additional forms from the Love Center for her to review.”
“Is she expecting them?”
“Yes, she’s been waiting on them for over a week.”
“If you’d like to drop them off here with me, you can.”
“Thanks John. That would be wonderful. It’s on my way home, so I’ll be there shortly.”
“I’ll be here.” John placed the phone back in the cradle and sat down in the arm chair near the fireplace. He looked out the window. The city lights were beautiful, but he didn’t see them. The only thing he could think was that Evangeline was working for the Love Center. She could be in danger, too. Why didn’t she tell him?
An hour and a half later, Evangeline walked through her front door to find a pacing John.
“Hey.” She placed her purse on the table and then moved to kiss the brooding man before her.
“Where have you been?” he asked quietly.
“My meeting ran late. What’s wrong?” She knew something was going on and could already tell that this might not be a fun conversation. And to think, she’d been so excited to get home to him.
“I tried calling you, but you didn’t answer or call me back.” He moved away from her. This couldn’t be good. John never stepped back unless he was extremely upset about something.
“My phone battery died. I didn’t call you because I was on my way home as soon as my meeting was over. Now, what’s really wrong?”
“I was worried about you.”
Instead of answering the question, he said, “Viki Davidson came by with some forms to review for the Love Center.” He picked up the envelope from the side table and handed it to her.
“Thanks. I’ve been waiting on these.” When John looked at her strangely, she went on to ask, “What, John?”
He’d been acting weird since she walked in the door and she wanted to know why.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were representing the Love Center?”
“Why would I? I have plenty of clients that you don’t know about.”
“Yeah, but hopefully your other clients don’t appear to be the object of a serial killer’s attention.”
“Neither is the Love Center, as far as we know.”
“What, John? I’m not a target.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. But, I’m putting protection on you.”
“No, you’re getting protection and that’s final.”
“I don’t want or need protection. I’ve got you.”
John pulled her into his arms and held her there. Evangeline felt John sigh. She did not need to be protected. The killer was not going to target her just because she was legal counsel to the Love Center.
“I just don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to me.”
“You can’t be sure of that and I can’t be with you every hour of every day.”
“You sure?” she teased.
“Evangeline, I’m serious.”
“I know, but I’m not in danger.”
“You don’t know that. If this is about me like you suggested, then you could be in even more danger.”
“John, you already disproved that theory. All of your collars are still in jail and accounted for. I’m not a target.”
“I hope you’re right, but just in case you’re not, we need to come to some sort of understanding.”
“Like what?” she asked tentatively.
“If you won’t let me provide protection, then you need to give me a copy of your schedule everyday. I need to know where you’ll be.”
“John, that’s ridiculous.”
“It’s either that or a bodyguard,” he said with absolute conviction. She stared at him, knowing he was totally serious.
“Okay, I’ll brief you everyday on my schedule.”
“And you’ll call me if your schedule changes?”
“Yes,” she said with a sigh. “I’ll call you if my schedule changes.”
He tightened his arms around her and she could tell the difference in him. John was back in control and in his zone. He joked about his mask and cape, but he wasn’t Superman. If something did happen to her, she wasn’t sure what would happen to him.
“Thank you,” he whispered and pressed a kiss to her neck.
A few hours later, Evangeline awoke to a tossing and turning John. She placed her hand on his shoulder and shook him. Seconds later, John sat straight up in bed, taking gulping breaths. He looked around at Evangeline and hauled her into his arms.
“Baby, what is it?” she asked almost afraid of the answer. Evangeline stroked his back in an effort to comfort him.
“Just a bad dream.”
“You want to talk about it?”
“No, I just want to hold you.”
“I’m always up for that,” she said in a teasing tone, trying to ease the mood in the room. She moved into his arms and held him tight. Evangeline was worried, but she would let it go; for now. She’d wait awhile before she pressed him, but it had to be better for him to get it out.
As John held Evangeline, he continued to take deep breaths. The dream had scared him more than he was willing to admit. Evangeline had been home with a little girl that had his mother’s grey eyes. Somebody whose face he couldn’t see came in and shot them both. He’d been paralyzed and unable to do anything to protect his family. That was his greatest fear.
John could feel the tension in Evangeline. He wanted to ease that and wasn’t sure if he could at the moment, but he was going to try.
“Where did that come from?”
“I can tell that you’re worried, but I’m okay.”
“Can you tell me about the dream?”
They lay there for moments before he began to speak. John told her the dream in a detached voice leaving out any mention of that little girl. He had to back away from it so he could deal with it.
“John, it was a dream. I’m right here.”
“John, you are not responsible for keeping me safe. I know that you have this hero complex, but you can’t save everybody.”
“Van, that’s my job.”
“Your job is to protect and serve the community. I love you and I know you would do any and everything in your power to take care of me, but you are not God. You can’t keep things that are meant to be from happening; you just have to do the best you can.”
“Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that, but after what happened to Caitlin…”
“Did you do all that you could when Caitlin was killed?”
“Of course I did. Haver was already in the house. When he killed her, he shot me.”
“And there was nothing you could do.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Then remember the good times and let the rest go. It wasn’t your fault.”
“If I hadn’t been involved with the investigation…”
“Maybe Caitlin would be alive.”
“True, but maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe Haver still would have targeted her. Maybe she would have been hit by a car. There are no guarantees, John.”
He stared at Evangeline for a long moment before pulling her head to rest on his chest. John knew he could get lost in her. A while back, he’d told her that she was amazing; she absolutely was. Regardless of what she said, she was his responsibility. He couldn’t let anything happen to her.