Chapter 2

The next few days found them back to their normal schedule. John picked Johnny up every morning and dropped him off at school and Evangeline picked him up. John and Evangeline saw very little of each other.

Three days after Evangelineís meeting with Zach, the doorbell rang right after she had arrived home with Johnny.

"Johnny, go put your backpack in your room and Iíll get you a snack," Evangeline said as she opened the door.

"Delivery for Evangeline McBain," said the teenager at the door.

"Thatís me," she said looking confused at the pink roses the teen held. She had no idea who would send her flowers. Then she smiled, maybe John. She signed the delivery slip and the youngster handed her the flowers as well as a small square box.

She lifted the card from it place among the rose buds and took a deep breath. The roses had a heady scent. She opened the card and the smile left her face.

I just wanted to thank you for caring enough to want to help me with my son. The box is a small gift for your little baseball player. Enjoy. Zach

"Mom, whatís that? Who gave you flowers?" Johnny asked as he came down the stairs.

"Mr. Slater sent me the flowers and he sent you something, too."

"Really? What?"

"I donít know. Here it is," she said and handed him the box.

Johnny tore into the box and pulled out an official baseball that was signed by the starters of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.

"Mom," he said in awe. "Do you know what this is?"

"A baseball?" she deadpanned.

"Mom, this ball is signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. I gotta go call Dad."

"Go ahead. Iíll have your snack ready in a few minutes. Then you need to write a thank-you note to Mr. Slater, okay?"

"Okay. Heís really cool."

"Yeah, he is."

She got Johnny some fruit, cheese and juice for his snack and listened to his half of the conversation with his dad. After a few minutes, Johnny looked at Evangeline and laid the phone on the counter.

"Dad said he was on his way over."

"Really? What for?"

"He just said he wanted to talk to you."

"Okay. You go ahead and have your snack."

She pointed to the fruit and juice on the counter. She watched Johnny climb onto the barstool. She wondered why John would be coming over. He hadnít mentioned anything earlier when sheíd seen him briefly at the station.

Johnny had finished his snack and gone to his room to do his homework when the doorbell rang.

"Hi, John. How are ya?" she asked as she opened the door and invited him in. He needed a haircut. Throughout their marriage it had become her job to remind him, lately she hadnít. Either way, he was still one of the most handsome men she knew.

"Iím good. How are you?"

"Iím fine. Whatís going on?" John looked worried and Evangeline couldnít think of a reason for it.

"I just wanted to check on you guys."

"Check on us for what? Nothingís going on here."

"Why is Slater sending Johnny presents?"

"John, you would have to ask him," she sighed. "I can only guess that he identified with the fact that Johnny is extremely important to me and just wanted to do something nice for a little boy."

 

 

"Evangeline, what is he trying to gain?"

"John, I donít know how to answer that question nor do I think that itís any of your business," Evangeline said and turned her back on John. She walked into the living room with him following her.

"Regardless of whether weíre living together or not, you and Johnny are my business."

"Johnny will always be your business," she said with a pointed look.

"What do you even know about this guy?"

"Heís my client. I know as much as I need too."

"Did you know that he has ties to the Cambias family?"

"How do you know that? Did you check him out?" she said, turning to look at him in disbelief.

John sighed and realized heíd given away his hand. He knew how she took him trying to protect her.

"Yes, I had him checked out."

"Who gave you permission to do that?"

"Permission? I donít need permission to check out the people youíre involved with," he said, placing his hand on his hips.

"John, you know what? You need to go."

John stood in the center of the living room and didnít move. He glanced at the dining room table where the beautiful bouquet of dark and light pink roses sat.

"Did he send you those?"

Evangeline followed his gaze and sighed, "Yes, John. Zach sent those to me as a thank you."

"Whatís he thanking you for?"

"Why do you care?"

"You are still my wife. You know that I care about you and I donít want you hurt."

"Zach is my client. There is nothing else going on. I wonít get hurt."

"Iím going to make sure of it."

"How do you propose to do that?"

Before he could answer the question, Johnny came running down the stairs with his signed baseball.

"Dad, look at my ball. Can you believe it?"

"Hey, champ. That is a really nice gift. Donít forget to say thank you."

"Mom already made me do a thank you note."

"Good. You need to let people know that you appreciate the things that they do for you," John said glancing at Evangeline. Then, he turned his attention back to his son.

"I remember. Can you read with me for a while?"

John glanced at Evangeline before answering, "Of course, I can. Iím not going back to the office tonight."

Evangelineís eyebrows raised in response to his statement. Before the separation, heíd never come home early. Sheíd never asked him to, but he should have known that they wanted to see him more.

"Can you stay here for dinner? We never get to eat all together anymore."

"Sure, if itís okay with your mom?" He glanced at her waiting for her response. He knew she was upset with him for what she must consider interference in her life, but tough. He was still her husband and he was going to do what he felt was right, whether she liked it or not.

"Of course, itís okay with me. You guys go ahead and read and Iíll call you when dinner is ready." She knew that Johnny missed his dad and even though she was angry at John for meddling, she couldnít deny either of them this time together.

"Yippee," Johnny said running up the stairs.

"Thanks," John said as he followed Johnny at a slower pace.

"I didnít do it for you," she said under her breath. She wasnít sure if sheíd done it for Johnny or herself.

---------------

Dinner turned into a family affair. Since John was staying over, Evangeline invited Michael, Shannon, Eve and her mother, Amelia. Amelia and Eve were both surprised by the invitation.

"Why are you having the family together for dinner?" her mother asked.

"Something Johnny said. I want to show him that even though we donít live together anymore, we can still be around each other."

"Thatís really sweet. You really love that little boy."

"More than life."

"Heís a blessed little boy. Honey, youíre a great mom."

"Thank you. I try to be."

"Now whatís going on with you and John?"

"Why do you think anything is going on?"

"Because I know you."

"John is acting protective and getting on my nerves."

"Protective about what?"

"A new client."

"Why?"

"The client has ties to a family that is known for its ruthlessness. The same client sent both me and Johnny a gift."

"So, heís jealous."

"I donít know if itís jealousy. I donít know what it is."

"Well, Iím sure that it is."

"How do you know that?"

"Because, I also know my son-in-law."

"Heís may not be your son-in-law very much longer."

"He will always be my son-in-law. I love John. Whatever happens between you; happens between you. It doesnít have anything to do with me, so he will always be a part of my family."

"Thanks, Mom. Thatís just what I needed."

"Anytime. Iíll see you later and tell John that Iím bringing him an apple pie."

"You always did spoil him."

"And I intend to keep doing it."

They ended the call and Evangeline thought about what sheíd just done. What had sounded like a good idea at the time; now sounded like a disaster in the making.

The boys could be heard laughing upstairs and Evangeline left them to it. When the doorbell rang, Evangeline was busy in the kitchen and John went to answer the door. He was surprised to find his mom at the door. He kissed her on the cheek before asking, "What are you doing here?"

"Evangeline invited me to dinner. Michael and Shannon will be here in a while. I just talked to both of them."

"What? Why were all of you invited?" John asked.

"Because I want to show our son that he still has his family even though you and I donít live together," Evangeline answered from behind him. She went to Eve for her usual hug and asked, "Why donít you come into the kitchen with me?"

"Iíd love to. I brought the salad," she said.

"Thank you so much," Evangeline responded and the two women went into the kitchen leaving a confused John standing in the doorway.

A few minutes later, Johnny came downstairs to greet his Nana. Amelia was the next to arrive and John greeted her just as he had his mother.

"Did Angel tell you that I made an apple pie especially for you?"

"No, she didnít. I knew you still loved me," he said with a big grin.

"Always, my boy. Where are the women?"

"In the kitchen."

"Let me get in there. Send my grandson to see me."

"Right away," he said to the back of her as she too just left him at the door. He shook his head as he went to get Johnny for his Gigi. John and Johnny were relegated to the den, where they played with Johnnyís Leap Frog.

In the kitchen, the women were having a great time. They talked about everything under the sun, from work to play to Johnny. The two mothers gushed over the roses. They both agreed that it was thoughtful of Zach Slater to say thank you when Evangeline told them a little about his relationship with his son. They also vowed to get together more in the near future.

"I wonder where Michael and Shannon are," Eve asked, as the doorbell rang. She went to answer the door herself. Both Michael and Shannon stood on the other side. "Itís about time."

"We love you, too," they said in unison and both kissed her on either cheek. She laughed at them, pulling them into the dining room.

"Take a seat and dinner will be on the table. John and Johnny come into the dining room. Dinnerís ready."

"Where did these beautiful roses come from?" Shannon asked as she entered the room and touched one of the rose buds.

"Mr. Slater sent them to Mom. He sent me a ball. You want to see?" Johnny said going to Shannon for a hug.

"Johnny, how about you wait until after dinner to show Aunt Shannon and Uncle Michael?" his father responded.

"Okay," he said and climbed into his chair.

"Whoís Mr. Slater?" Shannon asked, with a smirk.

"One of my clients," Evangeline answered as she entered the room.

"You must have left some impression."

"I just do my job," she said looking into Johnís eyes, before taking her seat.

The dinner went off without a hitch. Johnny was so excited to have his family together. Evangeline realized that they hadnít all sat down since before the separation. She would make a point to change that.

After everyone left, Evangeline turned on the dishwasher and went into the den to watch a movie on CourtTV. Johnny was so tired after all the excitement of the day that John carried him upstairs. Evangeline watched John as the two ascended the stairs and smiled at the picture they made; the big man and the little boy. They were adorable together. Once they were upstairs, John helped Johnny with his bath and read to him.

"Angie, heís in bed," John called from the stairs.

"Iíll be right there," she replied, with a confused look. John hadnít called her Angie in a long time. Sheíd missed it. A few minutes later, she entered Johnnyís room. "Hey, buddy. You ready to go to sleep."

He just nodded, which meant that he was totally worn out. She ran her hand over his head and kissed both of his cheeks.

"I love you, Johnny."

"I love you, too, Mommy. Thank you for tonight."

"Youíre welcome. Iím glad you enjoyed yourself. Weíll do that more often okay."

"Yay," he said in a quiet voice.

"Iíll see you in the morning."

"íkay," he responded with closed eyes. She smiled as she ran her hand over his head one last time. She glanced at the door where John stood and he smiled back at her. He held the door as she left the room. When she moved past him, he wrapped one arm around her and slid his free hand into her hair. He pressed his lips to hers. The kiss deepened and she relaxed into it. A peace that he hadnít felt since before the separation settled within him. When the kiss ended, he leaned his forehead to hers.

"John, please donít do that again." She trembled in his arms.

"What?" What could she possibly mean? That kiss had felt more right than anything that had happened over the past several months.

"Remind me of what we had. This separation has hurt more than I ever thought it would."

"What if I want what we had back? Why donít we end this separation?"

"If youíd been here with me and Johnny before, maybe we never would have lost it. We never would have been separated. Lock up when you leave," she said pushing herself out of his arms and entering the room that theyíd shared. He looked on as she closed the door.

You still love me. I can get you back, but can I give you what you need?

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