John sat in his office going over the file Vince had waiting on his desk at his arrival.
"Baker. Johnson. Check in," John said into his radio. It had been almost a half hour since heíd left Evangeline and he needed to know that everything was okay.
Static answered him.
"Baker. Johnson. Check in," John repeated. When no answer came, John stepped out of his office.
"Vince, have Baker and Johnson checked in?"
"No boss. Theyíre watching Ms. Williamson."
"I know. I canít raise them on the radio."
"They checked in as soon as you left Ms. Williamson. The radio was fine."
"I got a bad feeling about this. Iím heading over there. Keep trying to raise them and have a couple black and whites meet me there," John said grabbing his jacket on his way out the door.
Evangeline had just sat down in her bedroom to plow through a file, for which she was going to court the following week, when she heard the front door open. John had only been gone half an hour. What was he doing back so soon? After his confession, she really didnít care about the reason, she was just glad he was home. Evangeline walked into the living room smiling.
"John, I didnít think youíd be back soÖ"
"Hey, pretty lady," said the tall stranger standing in Evangelineís living room holding a gun.
"Who are you and what do you want?" Evangeline asked evaluating her possibilities for escape.
"I want you, of course. Iíve wanted you for a while, ever since my sister died."
"I donít know what youíre talking about." The young man was in his early twenties and looked scared, if she went by the shaking of his right hand that held his gun. Scared people did crazy things and Evangeline reminded herself of that.
"Melissa Jones," the young man said.
"Oh, youíre Melissaís brother."
"She had just found out about me when she was killed and now Iíll never know her. I canít even enjoy the fact that her killer is in jail. Thatís your fault." The shaking of his hand got worse and he took the gun in his left.
"What are you saying?"
"You got Jason Stuart off. He killed my sister."
"The evidence didnít prove that."
"I donít care about that. Someone has to pay for what happened to my sister. If Jason wonít, you will."
"Whatís your name?" Evangeline asked, even though John had told her earlier. She had to call him something and she didnít want to tip her hand that John was on his trail.
"Why do you care?"
"I just like knowing first names. If youíre going to kill me anyway, it shouldnít be a problem," Evangeline said. She knew that she had to keep him talking. He was just a kid and a handsome one at that. While he was scared and a little shaky, Evangeline didnít feel that he really wanted to hurt her.
"Ray, thatís a nice name. You donít really want to kill me. What would your dad do?"
"Donít bring him into this. He has nothing to do with it." Rayís voice rose to a high pitch. Obviously, his father was a sore subject. Tiptoe around that one, she told herself.
"Donít you think heís going to find out? There are police outside."
"I know. I took care of them. Besides, my dad doesnít care about me." The sudden sadness in Rayís voice and eyes caught Evangeline off guard.
"You didnít kill the officers, did you?" she inquired concerned. He didnít appear to be a bad kid, even with the current circumstances, but if heíd killed those cops, there would be no helping him.
"No, I just stunned them. Theyíll be fine."
"See, youíre not a killer. You donít want to do this."
"Donít tell me what I want. I want my sister back. I want to know what itís like to have one," Ray shouted. His boy like features hardened and for a moment Evangeline saw the man he would become if he wasnít stopped; a hard man always wanting what he couldnít have.
"What happened that you didnít get to know her?" Evangeline asked in a low voice to defuse some of the tension in the room.
"My dad and my mom werenít married. I didnít even know who he was when I was younger. My mom died and I was all alone. Then I found out his name and that I had a sister. She was wonderful to me, but I got arrested and went to jail for a few months. I got out and I was going to move in with her for awhile so we could be a family, but then she got killed. My life is already over."
"Baker, Johnson, are you guys alright?" John asked as soon as he saw the officers on the ground. He rushed from his car in a run. They looked like they were just coming to.
"Lieutenant, I think Iím okay. Somebody got me from behind," answered Johnson.
"Do you know who it was? Or where they went? Were they after Evangeline?" The urgency of the questions demanded immediate answers. The officers looked at each other momentarily before either spoke.
"I donít know, sir. Whoever it is got us both from behind," added Baker. Stokes hopped out of the police car that had just rolled to a stop.
"What happened?" asked Stokes running to the officers.
"Looks like someone stunned Baker and Johnson. I think that someone could be after Evangeline. Iím going up to her apartment. Stokes, you get somebody here to check Baker and Johnson out. Then you come up there, but if I havenít checked in with you, donít come busting in there unless you hear gunshots." John was already heading to the door as he spoke.
"I got it, lieutenant."
John unholstered his weapon and headed to the elevator, his mind set on getting to 35H.
"Ray, you life is not over. Youíre young. You can do anything with it. Donít do this," Evangeline pleaded.
"What can I do? Iím an ex-con. Iím going back to jail." Ray was pacing back and forth still holding the gun, but no longer had it pointed at her.
"You donít have to, at least not for long. If you stop this, Iíll help you."
"Why would you help me, after Iíve pulled a gun on you?" Skepticism covered Rayís features darkness covered the earth at dusk.
"Because thatís who she is," John said from behind the boy. While Evangeline didnít really feel threatened by Ray, she was relieved to see John. She hadnít noticed him until he spoke.
"Youíre that cop. Donít move. Iíll kill her." Rayís hand was shaking again as he pointed the gun in her direction. Evangeline was afraid he might shoot John.
"No, you wonít," John insisted. "If you wanted to kill her, you could have already done it."
As John was talking, he was slowly moving between Evangeline and Ray. Ray didnít react to what John was doing. When John was directly between the two, he said, "Ray, give me the gun."
"Youíre just going to take me to jail if I give you the gun." Ray was holding the gun with both hands and shaking like a leaf in the middle of a wind storm. How long would it be before he flew apart?
"Ray, Iíll have to arrest you for what you did to Alexander King, but Iíll help you as much as I can."
"What are you talking about? I didnít do anything to Alex. Heís my best friend. Heís out of town right now." The look on Rayís face was one of confusion.
"Who told you that?" asked John.
"My father. Alex left me a message with him."
"Your father knows Alex?" John said it more as a statement than a question.
"Sure, I was staying with my dad when I first got out of jail. Alex crashed there a few times." The gun wasnít held as tightly as Ray was distracted by Johnís questions.
"Ray, give me the gun. We might be able to help you so that you donít do any jail time."
"What about the cops downstairs? Are they okay? I didnít really want to hurt them."
"I think, theyíll be fine, Ray," John answered. "Now, help us help you."
"Youíd really help me?" Disbelief and hope were evident in Ray Jrís voice, warring with each other.
"Yes, Ray," Evangeline interjected stepping out from behind John. Ray looked at Evangeline for a long time before he broke down into genuine sobs.
"Youíre a lot like my sister," he choked out between sobbing breaths as he crumbled to his knees.
John took the gun and Evangeline enveloped Ray in an embrace. She couldnít help the despair she felt that a young manís life had almost been destroyed because he wanted to be loved. John ran a hand over her head where she sat in the floor with Ray, probably assuring himself she was alright. She smiled up at him confirming that she was.
The sobs finally ceased and Evangeline got Ray seated on the sofa. Brooking no opportunity for argument, Evangeline said, "Ray, you sit right here, okay? Iím going to get you a soda."
Evangeline went into the kitchen. After inviting Stokes into the apartment to keep an eye on Ray, John followed her. He didnít believe Ray, Jr. would run, but he didnít want to take any chances. John needed to ask Ray some questions about his father and he had a feeling he would need Evangelineís help to get the answers.
"Yeah?" she asked getting a glass from the cabinet.
"I need to question Ray."
"John, can it wait? Heís emotional and heís still grieving his sisterÖ"
"I know all of that, but it looks like his father might be responsible for Kingís death. Ray might have the information I need to get him."
"John, just promise me youíll go easy on him."
"I canít, but I promise to go as easy as possible."
"Great, that gives me a lot of assurance," she dead-panned, rolling her eyes. John had to chuckle at the look on her face; she knew him too well. Then the previous scene replayed in his head Ė walking into the apartment; seeing her held at gunpoint; the immediate fear that she would be killed. As Evangeline passed him, he pulled her to him and held on tight. He felt himself shudder.
"John, Iím fine," Evangeline said. She must have read his mind.
"I know, but I just need to hold you for a moment."
"Hold away," she said and he felt her smile into his neck. He tilted his head and kissed her. As the kiss continued, John silently made a promise to Evangeline Ė to love, protect and honor her.
When they pulled apart, Evangeline said, "Letís get this over with."
John and Evangeline walked back into the living room where Stokes and Ray were exactly where theyíd left them. Ray looked completely lost and Evangeline lost her heart to him. She saw a little kid who needed someone. Evangeline could remember times when Layla had looked the same way. Well, her plan was to be that someone for Ray, just as she had been for Layla.
"Ray, Lieutenant McBain has some questions to ask you. Do you think you can answer them?" Evangeline asked, handing Ray his soda. He looked between the two and finally nodded his response.
John took a seat facing the young man, while Evangeline sat beside him and placed her arm around his shoulders. Ray looked at her with a look of relief, as if he realized for the first time he wasnít alone. Evangelineís heart went out to him again.
"Ray, when did your father tell you that Alex was out of town?" John asked.
"A few days ago. I was surprised because unless itís about Michelle or Ms. Williamson, my dad doesnít talk to me."
"What do you mean?"
"He doesnítÖlike me. In fact, he hates me. The only thing he ever talked to me or Alex about is how wonderful Michelle was and how itís all Ms. Williamsonís fault that sheís dead."
"Did you know Evangeline had been shot by Alex?"
"Yeah, I knew," he said looking down. He then looked at Evangeline, tears filling his eyes, and said, "Iím sorry. Alex didnít want to do it, but my dad kept pushing. He was so pissed when he found out that Alex didnít kill you. Heís going to be so mad at me, too."
"Ray, Alex was found dead a couple of days ago."
"That canít be right. I told you heís out of town."
"Heís not out of town, Ray, heís dead and when we found him he had a picture of your sister and what we believed was your fatherís lighter."
"The silver one with his initials?"
"Yeah, that one. Do you know anything about it?"
"Only that my dad would never let me touch it Ė Michelle gave it to him as a birthday present and he would play with it while he talked about her."
"Ray, Iím afraid your father may have killed Alex," John said in a soft voice. John waited expecting the boy to jump in denial, but instead tears rolled down the boyís cheeks.
"Alex was my only friend. I just moved out a couple of weeks ago," Ray whispered. Evangeline glanced at John as her eyes filled with tears as well. She pulled Ray to her and rocked him. While John believed the boy had been manipulated by his father, no way was he leaving Ray, Jr. alone with Evangeline while he picked Ray, Sr. up for questioning.
"Stokes, I want you to take Ray, Jr. in to make a statement and take this gun in as well. Iíll call Bo and let him know youíre bringing him in. I donít know how long Iíll be," John said to the officer standing right inside the apartment door.
"John, Iím going with him. He needs somebody there."
"Iím going. Iíll be fine. After, Iíll bring Ray, Jr. back here with me and weíll wait for you to get here."
John pulled Evangeline to the side and whispered, "Evangeline, I donít want you alone with him."
"John, heís a kid. If he wanted me dead, I would be. Weíll be fine."
"Stokes," John called, still holding Evangelineís arm, "after Ray gives his statement, Evangeline has decided to bring him back here. I want you to come with them. Donít leave until I come back."
"Yes, sir," Stokes answered. Johnís officers knew how he felt about Evangeline and John knew Stokes would make sure she was protected.
"John, you donít have to do that," Evangeline said.
"I know I donít have," he replied with eyebrows raised, "but Iím going to anyway. I need you safe."
"Okay." Evangeline nodded. John knew that she might not like it, but he didnít care. He was going to keep her as safe as he possibly could.