Chapter 9

When Michael returned with dinner, Marcie had already made her call to her family and assured them that she was fine. Everything was fine. She and Michael were on the road to reconciliation and things were looking up. Her book was about to hit the shelves and she would go on tour in the next month, since she’d had the accident. She would have a few signing in Llanview. She was so excited about the turn her life was taking. She couldn’t imagine a better time in her life than right now.

“Hey,” Michael said as he came back through the door carrying bags. “I got Cubans and plantains. Hope that’s okay.”

“That’s fine. I’ve wanted a Cuban since Hayes put me on that diet. I’m so glad that he’s gone.”

“Me, too. Did Evangeline talk to you about your contract with him?”

“Yeah, she’s going to go over it in the next day or two? She’s great. She seems to be good for John.”

“She is. I’m really happy for him. He deserves to find some happiness after all that he’s gone through.”

“I think she’s just what the doctor ordered.”

“I think so too. I’m also happy for me. Our whole breakup was based on a misunderstanding and us not talking. That can be fixed.”

Marcie grinned at Michael. “I thought it was already fixed. I told my Dad and Ron that we were back together. Was I wrong?”

“No, you were definitely not wrong,” he said kissing the grin from her face. “Let’s eat so we can go to bed, because tonight I’m sleeping with you.” At the look in her eyes, he continued, “I mean, I’m sleeping with you. You’re in no condition for anything else, but I’m not letting you go tonight.”

“I was gonna ask you to stay. You beat me to it.”

“Great minds. . .”


“That was great. You never cease to amaze me. I guess I didn’t expect that you were really a cook. I remember you mentioning trying hard recipes before we really started dating, but I had not idea.” John watched Evangeline as she stood in the door of the refrigerator.

“A woman has to have some secrets. You know, an air of mystery.” Evangeline glanced up at him with a saucy grin, before moving back to the table.

John just grinned and shook his head. Over the past couple of hours, he’d helped her with dinner, they’d eaten and they’d talked. In the privacy of her dining room, he’d shared things about his teenage years that still made him cringe. She’d taken it all in stride. She’d even teased him a little about his bad boy days to ease some of the tension he felt about sharing his past. When he said he’d never met anyone like her, he’d never meant it more than in this moment. He’d told her things he’d never thought about sharing with Caitlyn. He realized that he was getting in deeper and deeper with her. He was scared, but didn’t know if he could go on without her.

Evangeline realized she’d lost him again. He’d had a couple of moments when he’d gone to a place where she couldn’t follow. The plus side was that he’d shared more about his past than he ever had. She had an even better insight into why he felt he had to be the hero. He still felt guilt over some of the friends he’d lost to crime and to death. He carried a lot of weight on those broad shoulders of his. Now that she knew, maybe she could help him bear the load.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he said and he realized that she was in another place.

“They’re not worth that much. I was just thinking about how far we’ve come.”

“Really? How far have we come?”

“We’ve come from us being just somewhere we go when things get tough to being in a committed relationship. That’s huge.”

“I guess it is. I know I’ve gotten a new appreciation for life,” he said with a teasing grin.

“I’m glad,” she said with a slight smile and tilted her head. She started clearing the dishes. He rose to help her.

“Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me about what happened with your dad,” John said as she was standing over the sink rinsing the plates and placing them in the dishwasher. She stopped mid rinse and took a breath.

John felt even more special to her, because he now knew that he was the only person she’d ever talked to about it. She hadn’t even talked to her father about it, because she hadn’t wanted his indiscretion confirmed. Apparently he’d had an affair with a substitute teacher at the public school at which he taught. Both he and the substitute had been fired and her mother had been devastated.

Evangeline hadn’t condoned her father’s behavior, but she hadn’t held it against him like everyone else had. She’d loved him still and that had driven a wedge between her and her mother that was still there. She missed the relationship she’d had with her mother, but she didn’t know how to fix it. They talked weekly, but it was stilted.

“Well, we’re sharing our pasts, so I had to do my share,” she said. When she’d finished placing all the dishes in the dishwasher, John grabbed her hand and pulled her to him.

“I want to make love with you,” he whispered, kissing her hard. He pulled back and she nodded. He lifted her into his arms as if she weighed nothing and carried her into her bedroom.

He placed her in the middle of the bed and proceeded to pleasure her. Her breath caught and the intensity of feelings was overwhelming. She climaxed before he entered her. He watched the expressions cross her face as she came down from the high and was painfully aroused. When he joined himself to her, he felt a completeness that he’d never felt before. He knew in that moment that he did love her. It wasn’t the physical connection, but the emotional one that pushed him to quickly climax as well. He had come home, now as he looked down into her eyes, he realized he had to convince her that her place was with him. Permanently.


When Marcie awoke the next morning, Michael was spooning her. She smiled as she leaned into his body. She felt his arms tighten around her and turned her head to him. He pressed a kiss to her lips and closed his eyes.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just glad that you’re here.”

“Me, too. Go back to sleep.”

“Don’t you have to be back at the hospital today?”

“Tonight. I can spend the day with you.”

“I would love that.”

“Yeah, me too. Now go back to sleep. I need my rest,” he said to her relaxing into the pillow.


“What am I doing?” Evangeline asked herself as she circled the running trail in the park. She’d left John in her bed with a note. She was running, figuratively and literally.

Last night when she and John had made love it had been different. She knew they’d broken down some defenses when they’d shared some extremely personal things that they hadn’t shared with anybody else. Finally, it felt like John was more committed to the relationship and now she wasn’t absolutely sure that it was what she wanted.

When John told her that if he fell in love with her he’d want to marry her, she’d known he was serious, but she didn’t expect last night to happen so quickly. She didn’t think he’d ask her to marry him right away, but it seemed much more likely that they could be moving in that direction. What did she really want? John. Was she willing to risk herself more than she already had for him? Maybe.


“Evangeline?” John called when he slid his hand over the other side of the bed and found it empty. He opened his eyes to confirm what his mind knew. He lay there for a few moments listening to the quiet. She wasn’t in the house. She’d left him in her bed. Why? Before he tried to formulate an answer, he saw paper lying on her pillow. He picked it up and sighed after reading it.

I’ve gone running. I won’t be gone long. I needed to clear some things up in my head. I didn’t have the heart to wake you.
What things did she need to clear up? Did they have to do with him? He was pretty sure they did. The night before had been more intense than anything he’d ever experienced. When he’d looked in her eyes, he’d known that she was right there with him. The physical connection had always been strong, but the emotional one he felt with her was so much stronger than he would have ever imagined. He’d allowed himself to open up to her more than anyone else in his life. Whatever she was dealing with he wasn’t going to let her put up a wall and keep him out.

With that in mind, he showered and went to the kitchen expecting to find coffee already made. He didn’t. Evangeline hadn’t made coffee before going out on her run. That was unusual. Every other time he’d stayed over, she’d put coffee on because she knew he needed it. What could have distracted her enough to forget? Should he be worried about her? Whether he should or not, he couldn’t stop himself from thinking about her.

He knew from making dinner the night before that she had everything he needed to make an omelet or scrambled eggs. He just wasn’t sure when she’d get back. As that thought crossed his mind, he heard the door open.

“Evangeline?” he called out.

“Yeah, it’s me.” He heard her respond, before he saw her enter the kitchen.

“Hey, did you have a good run?”

“Yeah,” she said with a smile.

“Did you get your head clear?”

“I’m not sure yet, but I’ll keep working on it,” she said with a bemused look on her beautiful face.

“You want to talk about it?”

“Thanks for offering, but no. Not right now anyway.”

“Didn’t you accuse me of being guarded at least once before?”


“Well, I know you’ll tell me when you’re ready, so I’ll let it go. Go shower and I’ll make us some breakfast,” he said rising from the stool at the counter and turning to the fridge.

“John…,” Evangeline said from her place in the doorway. When he turned a questioning glance over his shoulder, she continued, “thank you for not pushing me.”

He tilted his head and smiled at her before turning back to the fridge. Don’t thank me yet. You’re going to tell me what’s going on with you. Soon.

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