"Mmmm. . ."
The groan drew Johnís attention immediately. Evangelineís steady breathing had lulled John to sleep. John hadnít realized how tired he was until he sat down on the chaise lounge in Evangelineís bedroom and began watching over her.
He jumped off the chaise trying to catch Evangeline before she rolled onto her injured arm, but he was too late.
"Iím sorry I wasnít fast enough," he said in a whisper; he didnít want to frighten her.
Her closed eyes suddenly opened seeking him out. John saw a glimpse of joy in her eyes, before she could stop it.
"Hey," John said, the need to touch her more than he could deny. She lay there as he ran a finger down her arm. His eyes followed his finger. I miss this. When his eyes finally returned to hers, she spoke.
"What are you doing here?" He leaned forward to hear the whisper she uttered. Evangeline moved away from his touch and he could see her mentally as well as physically distancing herself from him. I hate this.
"I came to make sure you were okay." He pushed the hair back from her cheek and ran a finger down her cheek to her neck. John rested that finger there, feeling her racing pulse.
"How can you ask me that?"
"I donít need rescuing." The resigned look that covered her face upset him, but he knew he deserved it. His need to be a hero was what had broken them up; that and his need to keep things to himself.
"Iím not here to rescue you. I was worried and I needed to know for myself that you were alright."
"Iím fine. I had a few stitches and in a couple of days, Iíll be good as new. Howíd you find out, anyway?"
"Does it matter?"
"I guess not. Now that you know Iím okay, you can leave." Evangeline looked away as if the subject was closed. Boy was she in for a rude awakening.
"Iím not going anywhere."
"What does that mean?"
"That means that Iím staying here with you until we find whoever did this."
That got Evangelineís immediate attention. John could see the wheels turning in her mind. Evangeline didnít want him there. Too bad.
"You donít have a choice. You need protection. Iím providing it."
"I can get a bodyguard."
"Yeah, you can during the day, but at night, Iím staying here with you."
"You canít just move in here without my okay."
"Itís done." Normally, John let Evangeline have her way. He knew her need to have control over her life. It matched his, but this wasnít up for negotiation.
"Well, undo it. I donít want you here. Iíll get someone else to protect me. You have enough people to take care of."
"I donít care what you want or what you think. Iím not going anywhere." John walked out of the bedroom having what he considered the last word.
"Bo, this is Evangeline."
"Hey, how are you feeling?" The smile on Boís face could be heard, soothing Evangeline like the sound of a mild wind on blowing through a meadow. She needed that especially now.
"My armís a little sore, but Iím okay. Iíll be better if you get John out of my house." Evangeline needed to protect herself. She was injured and vulnerable. John living with her was the last thing she needed. Her feelings were raw and she could still feel the heat from his finger on her neck. She had it bad and this wasnít helping.
"What are you talking about?"
"John just told me that heíll be providing me with protection himself, until the person who did this is caught."
"Evangeline, heís the Chief of Detectives. Itís his job to find would-be killers and protect potential victims." Instantly, the soothing effect disappeared, replaced by frustration strong enough to be cut with a knife.
"Bo, I know that, but someone else could act as my bodyguard. Get him out of here."
"Evangeline, Iím sorry. Itís his call."
Evangeline groaned and hung up the phone. She was furious with John and Bo and the world. Evangeline rolled over and hit the pillow, wishing it was Johnís head. Why did this have to happen? Evangeline stopped her tirade and thought about her situation. Why did this happen? Who is after me?
Evangeline had no clue, but she needed to find out soon. Someone was out there trying to kill her. She had to deal with that and with John. That could end up being too much for one girl to handle.
Bo placed the phone in the cradle and leaned back in his chair with a smile. This was the first time heíd seen Evangeline mad enough to hang up on anyone. He hated that he had anything to do with that, but John was in charge and Bo didnít want to pull rank. Not yet, anyway.
Maybe John knew more about fixing problems than Bo gave him credit for. Bo just had to make sure that John could remain objective. The last thing they needed was John and Evangelineís relationship getting in the way of John being able to do his job. This could get real personal, real fast; and with a killer on the loose, they couldnít afford any mistakes. Evangelineís life depended on it.
To Evangelineís chagrin, John walked back into her bedroom with a tray. Obviously, he really was planning on staying and it was the last thing she wanted, but if he was going to be there, she was going to use it for her benefit.
"Thank you," she said, grabbing a cup of steaming coffee. A glass of water, some toast and her pain pills were also on the tray. Evangelineís eyes narrowed as she refused to comment on the fact that John must have looked in her purse for the pill bottle.
"Okay, since youíre here, what do we need to do to solve this?" Evangeline had never waited for anyone to take care of her. This wasnít any different.
"Evangeline, thatís my job. Let the cops do what they get paid for."
"Iím not going to just sit here and do nothing while someone is out there targeting me. This has to be related to one of my cases."
"Or it could be related to me."
"Everyone knows youíre important to me. Someone could be trying to get to me through you."
"John, not everything is about you," she snapped. Evangeline was so sick of him trying to take on the responsibility for the world. She was responsible for herself and she could handle whatever was thrown her way. "Iím sure Iíve made plenty of enemies. Itís just a matter of finding out which one."
"The doctor said you needed to rest."
"How do you know what the doctor said?" Even as she asked the question, she could just imagine the answer and knew she wasnít going to like it.
"I talked to Michael this morning."
"You know you are really pushing your luck. Michael does not have the right to discuss my medical status with you."
"Iím his brother. He knows how I feel about you."
"How can he? You donít even know." As soon as the words left her lips, she closed her eyes momentarily and sighed. "Look, Iím sorry, but this isnít easy for me. I want to solve this so we can both get on with our lives."
"Get on with our lives? I thought you said we could still be there for each other." Evangeline could see the pain reflected in his eyes. It was so real she could almost touch it.
"I did, but being there for each other is different than you deciding against my wishes that you are going to move in with me."
John stood stoically. Regardless of what she said, Evangeline could see he wasnít budging on that subject.
"Okay, letís talk about the case. Could this be any of your clients?"
"I donít think so. All of my clients have been found not guilty. It doesnít make sense. I mean, maybe it was random."
"I donít think so. Iíve talked to one of the guys at CSU and it looks like whoever did this must have waited specifically for you; where the bullet must have come from, was an isolated area. Youíre car was the only one on the deck at that time. What we donít know is how he or she got out?"
"Well then, why not kill me? I was there for at least 5 minutes waiting for someone to arrive. I mean I had to call it in myself, because no one would have heard the shot; I didnít."
"He used a silencer?"
"I guess. I just didnít know anything had happened until I saw blood dripping from my fingers."
"You didnít tell us that before."
"I guess I didnít remember until now. Is that important?"
"Could be? Silencers are only manufactured for certain guns."
Before Evangeline could respond, John had his cell phone in hand, dialing with his back turned to her.
"Cerutti, this is John McBain."
"Hey, Lieutenant, howís Ms. Williamson?"
"Sheís fine; giving me a hard time so I think sheíll make it." John glanced over his shoulder and caught the frown that crossed Evangelineís face. She probably didnít even realize she was doing it.
"Yeah, she sounded pretty strong when I questioned her."
"She is. Is the lab evaluating whatís left of that bullet?"
"Yeah, they put a rush on it, since itís one of our own." The officers at the station had a thing about the family of officers being the victims of crime. They all considered Evangeline one of their own, even if she didnít know it. John did, too.
"Well, I just found out that the gun must have been equipped with a silencer."
"Howíd you find that out?"
"Evangeline just remembered that she didnít hear the gunshot."
"Iíll let the lab know. Hopefully, theyíll be able to narrow down the type of gun."
"Thatís what Iím hoping. If you guys need me, call me on my cell phone, because I wonít be in today or tomorrow. Iím working from home. Let me know if you find anything."
"Sure thing, Lieutenant. Take good care of Ms. Williamson; me and the guys like having her around."
"Me, too, Cerutti. Me, too."
John ended the call and looked at Evangeline, who glared at him from her position on the bed.
"Youíre working from home? Whose home?"
"Really? So youíve just taken over, havenít you? You make all the decisions, no matter what anybody wants. You are not responsible for me. I can take care of myself."
"Iím not leaving you." John could tell his frustration with this beautiful woman was rising. He knew his voice was elevated and could do nothing to stop it. John McBain, control freak extraordinaire, was about to lose it with the only woman he wanted in his life.
"Why, John? Why is it so important to you?"
"Because I canít let anything happen to you, damn it," he yelled.
Evangeline was speechless. That was a first. Johnís lips parted and curled; the unexpected smile broke some of the tension.
"I just need to keep you safe," he said. He needed her to understand how important she was to him. "Will you let me do that?"
At that moment, the warm glow from the bedside lamp made her look like a little girl. John could tell she was softening to him; he could see the struggle, because she didnít want to. When she made up her mind, he knew what the answer was. John was by no means totally Ďiní with her, but heíd made some headway.
"Okay, but youíve got to stop making all the decisions without even consulting me. Iím an adult and you have to treat me like one. I wonít take unnecessary risks, but I get to make the final decision about me."
"Iíll try to be reasonable, but I wonít take a chance with your life. Whoever did this planned it well and knew we wouldnít be able to catch them this time. Theyíre still out there and it looks like they targeted you and you alone. I know youíre going to give me hell about this, but we need to look at your past cases." Before she could go on about the lawyer-client privilege, John held up his hand. "We have to find out if any of your clients or the opposition would have reason to come after you."
"None of my clients would. I got them all off. Maybe tomorrow we can go to my office and I can go through the files; see if thereís anyone that stands out to me. Iíll only show you the information that would be relevant on any of my clients; information the police would already have."
"Okay. I guess that will have to do."
Evangeline ended the conversation then by rolling over and shutting her eyes. John knew heíd been dismissed and didnít like it one bit. The fact that Evangeline was having no problems putting their relationship aside bothered him to no end. He felt like climbing into bed beside her. That would get a reaction; maybe not the one he wanted, but she would react. Instead of going with that, he made his way to the guest bedroom and called Michael to bring him a change of clothes.
Evangeline heard John walk out of the room and took a breath. She opened her eyes and watched the door close behind him. He was going to drive her crazy. Why he was so adamant about protecting her, she didnít know. It wasnít like he was in love with her. How was she supposed to have him stay with her and not get caught up in him? Evangeline loved him more than she ever thought sheíd love anyone and she was afraid her heart would get broken all over again. She would just have to keep her guard up and not let him in again; she couldnít afford to.