Lost Love – Ch 1

Evangeline had just gotten the word that she was released from the witness protection program. She’d been under protection for the past 4 years. She didn’t know how she was supposed to go back to her life. She’d never expected that letting the FBI in on some discrepancies in the Hook-Up books would land her in Atlanta teaching music. She had to laugh when she thought about it, even though it wasn’t funny. Her life had been turned upside down.

The FBI had whisked her out of Llanview at a moment’s notice and they hadn’t let her inform John of the sudden changes. That was the thing she regretted the most. She’d taken a chance and sent him a letter after being in the program a few months, because she knew him. She knew that he would bury himself in his work and would withdraw from all the people who cared about him.

She’d followed his career over the past few years and was pleased to see that he had advanced at the LPD. He was now the Deputy Commissioner. She knew that he would be great at that job. She picked up the framed picture on the piano and stroked his face. She kept the picture there so it would always be in plain view.

Once Evangeline had gotten the go ahead, she’d called Nora. Nora had been so surprised to hear from her and so glad that she was okay. Evangeline had missed Nora almost as much as she had John. When she’d asked Nora how John was, Nora’s response had been “different”. He’d been more quiet and private that she’d ever seen him. He didn’t spend much time with other people.

He was, however, spending time with his family. Michael and Marcie had gotten married two years earlier and had a new baby. Eve was in Llanview now singing at The Jazz Club, a club that had opened about 6 months ago. John was still working for Bo, but he was different. He’d never talked much, but after she left he shut down. He focused on work and kept everything else close to his chest.

Evangeline hated that more than anything. All of John’s life, he’d silently waited and never really expressed how he felt. Then he fell in love with Evangeline. He’d opened up and then she’d disappeared. This was her fault. She should have gone to him originally instead of the FBI. They said hindsight was 50/50. That was absolutely true. She could see her mistakes now, too bad she couldn’t go back and change the decisions.

By the end of her conversation with Nora, Evangeline had decided to go to Llanview. She knew John probably hated her. He had every right too. He didn’t even know the half of it.


Evangeline was walking through Angel Square when the small hand in hers pulled away and she glanced down in time to see the 2 ½ foot tall girl run toward the man sitting on the bench ten feet away in the square. Her breath caught as she heard the little girl’s voice. “Daddy?” the little girl said tentatively as she stood leaning against his thigh, before looking back at her mother.

John’s startled glance turned in the direction the little girl was looking and Evangeline saw a dozen emotions in his eyes. Relief, Joy, Love, Frustration, and Anger were the easiest for Van to define. The look in Evangeline’s eyes confirmed what the little girl said. Danielle had grabbed John’s hand while he’d been distracted looking at her mother. He looked back at her and smiled. She was a mini Evangeline with fat ponytails on the sides of her head. She pulled herself onto his lap and hugged him.

In a whispered voice, she said, “I’ve missed you, Daddy.”

“I’ve missed you too,” he said hoarsely. He glanced to Evangeline who had moved closer to the father and daughter that were meeting for the first time. He then closed his eyes and savored the father daughter moment.

I’m a father. I have a daughter. He smiled to himself as he thought of all he would get to do with her, and then he frowned at all he’d already missed. I don’t even know her name. This is Evangeline’s fault. How could she keep something like this from me?

He sighed deeply and opened his eyes and looked at her. The woman he’d wanted to spend his life with, who had disappeared in the middle of the night. The woman he thought had been snatched. The same woman who’d sent him a letter six months after she’d gone missing to tell him goodbye. The same woman who had tears in her eyes. How could he forgive her for keeping his daughter from him?

“John?” she started.

“Not here and not now,” he responded, his voice low. He was furious and he didn’t want to say or do something he’d regret, especially in front of his little girl.

“Danielle?” Evangeline called. The little girl looked around at her mother who was beckoning her to her.

Danielle! My daughter’s name is Danielle.

“I want to stay with Daddy.”

“I know you do,” so do I, Evangeline thought. “You’ll get to see him later.”

Danielle looked at her father, who nodded before she climbed down from his lap and went to stand by her mother, grabbing her hand.

“When?” Danielle asked her father.

“Tonight,” he said to Danielle, and then he asked Evangeline, “Where are you staying?”

“We have a suite at the Palace hotel. Suite 412.”

“When is Danielle’s bedtime?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“I’ll come to the hotel at seven o’clock and spend some time with Danielle and then we’ll talk after she’s in bed.”


John got up from the bench and walked over to where they were standing. He kneeled down to Danielle’s height and gave her a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.

“I’ll see you later.”

“Okay. I love you Daddy.”

“I love you too,” and in that moment he did. Love at first sight was real. He loved that little girl with everything in him. He didn’t think it was possible to love someone that much. He wanted to protect Danielle from all the world’s hurts and disappointments. He wanted to be all those things a father was to a child.

He then looked at Evangeline and she shivered under the anger in his eyes. He wished there was something he could say to her that would put her at ease, but there wasn’t. He needed to get away from her, before the anger flowing through him flowed out. She looked vulnerable and he wasn’t in the mood to have to deal with tears. His control was shot at the moment and he didn’t want to hurt her.

“Evangeline, I’ll talk to you tonight.”


He stood and watched as they walked toward the Diner. Danielle kept turning around to see if he was still there and she waved each time. Every time he thought of all he’d missed with his little girl, the angrier he got. He would like to believe that the only way Evangeline could keep something like this from him would be because it was out of her control.

Now that he had a moment to process, he realized that she looked different. It wasn’t her physical appearance. It had been her demeanor. She didn’t appear as self assured as before. There was also something different in her eyes. She carried secrets in them. She’d been so open when he’d known her. Something had to have happened to her. He needed to know what. He glanced at his watch and noticed that he had a couple of hours to kill before spending time with his daughter. My daughter. He liked that.

Before Evangeline disappeared, he’d wanted to spend his life with her. While he’d been furious with her for leaving, he hadn’t been able to release her completely. A picture of her sat on the chest in his bedroom. A year ago, he’d bought a condo in Llanview. He’d decided to put down roots and plan a life in Llanview, even though Evangeline was no longer there.

He’d been spending time with his family. One thing Evangeline had given him was a desire to be close to the people he loved. He and Michael were best friends now. Michael was a forensic pathologist with the LPD. The two brothers spent time together on a pretty consistent basis. Michael was a new father and his little boy was absolutely adorable. How is Michael going to take that he’s an uncle? That was going to be a funny conversation. John had time to have that conversation before meeting Evangeline and Danielle.


Michael and John were sitting on the patio at the house Michael and Marcie had bought after her second book sold to MacMurray Publishing, right after their wedding. Michael was sitting in shock about the latest development in John’s life. He was an uncle.

“How could Evangeline keep this from you?”

“I don’t know,” John sighed, “All I know is that she’s back and I’ll see her tonight to talk.”

“How are you doing with this?”

“I don’t know that either. When I first saw her, I was so relieved that she was okay. Then I was furious that I hadn’t seen her in four years. Then I realized that Danielle was my daughter and I was even more furious. I’m still in shock, but you should see Danielle. She’s absolutely beautiful.”

“Well, with Evangeline for a mother, I’d expect no less.”

“Hey, what about me?”

“Like I said, with Evangeline for a mother, she couldn’t be anything but beautiful.”

“Well, she is. I can’t wait to get to know her.”

“Is Evangeline staying?”

“She’s not taking Danielle away from me again. Not now that I know about her.”

“How are you going to keep her from doing that?”

“I don’t think she’ll be able to do it. Danielle obviously knows who I am, so that means Evangeline has told her about me. That’s not something you do when you are trying to cut ties with someone. Something’s up and I plan to find out what it is.”

“Be careful. If she’s changed like you said, she may not be able to take you pushing too hard.”

“I’ll try to remember that.”

“Yeah. Have you told Mom about this?”

“No and I’m not going to until I have a chance to talk to Van. I don’t know what she’s told Danielle about Mom or you or anything.”

“What time are you talking to her?”

John glanced at his watch, “In about 20 minutes. I should get a move on. Give Marcie my love and bounce MJ for me.”


Evangeline had decided to give Danielle her bath early so she could spend the entire hour before bed with John. She was tired of hearing Danielle tell her favorite teddy bear, Johnny Boy, all about meeting her daddy. She’d gone from talking about seeing him for the first time “for real” to how big and strong her daddy was. Evangeline felt guilty for keeping them apart, even though she had no control over that decision.

“Mommy, when is daddy getting here?” Danielle asked her as she was helping her get into her pajamas.

“Soon, Dani. He told you he’d be here and he will.”

“Okay,” she said and turned back to the bear and told him that her mommy knew everything. Evangeline smiled at that. Dani was loyal to a fault. She defended those she loved with a passion. She’d make a good attorney some day.

Before Evangeline could finish pulling the pajama shirt down, there was a knock at the door and Dani took off for it. She had the door open before Evangeline could stop her. Evangeline had talked to Dani about that numerous times since she had gotten tall enough to reach doorknobs. It was still an area of opportunity, but apparently she would now have a backup.

“Danielle, don’t ever open the door unless an adult is with you and you know who it is on the other side.” John told her after picking her up and giving her a hug in the doorway.

“Yes, sir,” she said contritely.

“Hey, who is this?” John asked as he rubbed his finger over the fur of the bear.

“This is Johnny Boy. He’s named after you daddy,” she said with a smile.

“Oh really,” John said as he finally acknowledged Evangeline with a glance.

“Mommy told me since I couldn’t tell you everything; I could tell Johnny Boy in the meantime.”

“Oh, she did.”


“Danielle?” Evangeline called.

“Yes, ma'am,” she said quietly.

“Thank you,” her mother responded.


An hour later, Dani was sleeping soundly after having introduced her Daddy to Johnny Boy; telling him every detail of her day including the plane ride to Llanview; and having him read her three stories. She’d sat in his lap while he read to her and when he’d tucked her in she placed a kiss as light as a butterfly on his cheek. He hadn’t thought earlier that he could love her more, but every moment spent with her intensified the love he felt.

He walked into the living area of the suite and noticed Evangeline curled up on the sofa reading a book. He watched her for a moment before approaching her. He sat in front of her and she finally raised her eyes to his.

“Are you ready to talk to me?”

“Not really, but I don’t think you’re going to let me get away with that.”

“You’d be right.”

“Where do you want me to start?”

“How about with you leaving me?” he said sarcastically.

“I didn’t leave you by choice. I had to do it. I found out some information about the Santi’s, but you were out of town. I called the FBI with the information. The next thing I knew I was whisked away as a witness. I wasn’t allowed to contact you. It was a month later when I found out I was pregnant. By that time, there was a contract out on me. I couldn’t possibly put you in danger or Dani. My whole life changed. I couldn’t practice law anymore. I started teaching music. Since I love music, it wasn’t that much of a hardship. It was just recently that I testified and provided all the information that I’d found. I’m no longer a threat to the organization, it’s gone. The FBI released me. So here I am.”

“That can’t be all. You sent me a letter six months after you were gone to say goodbye. You knew you were pregnant then. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“How was I supposed to tell you that I was pregnant with your baby, but I couldn’t tell you where I was? I couldn’t even tell you if or when I would be back. John, I did the best I could with what I had.”

John rose from the sofa and walked toward the window. “I want my daughter, Evangeline,” John said in a low voice.

“What does that mean?” Evangeline asked tentatively.

“It means that regardless of the reasons, I’ve been deprived of her for the first three and a half years of her life. I don’t want to miss any more of it.”

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you and Dani to move in with me. Before you protest, I bought a three-bedroom condo. There’s plenty of room for you and Dani.”

“I thought you wanted just Dani to live with you,” Evangeline said shaken.

“I told you a long time ago that I believe parents need to work out their problems when there are children involved. I still believe that,” John said accusingly as he looked Evangeline in the eye, “I would never separate Dani from one of her parents.”

“John, I never meant for any of this to happen, but I couldn’t change it.”

“I know that. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve missed out and so has she.”

So have I, thought Evangeline as she looked away from John.

“Evangeline? Evangeline?” John said before he got her attention.

“Sorry, what did you ask me?”

“I asked how soon you could move in with me.”

“I haven’t said I can,” Evangeline responded.

“No, but you will,” he said with a determined look in eye.

“I have to go back to Atlanta and pack the apartment.”

“Well, Dani can stay with me while you do that.”

“John, we’ve never been apart overnight.”

“She’ll be with me Evangeline. Nothing’s going to happen to her.”

“I know that John. That’s not the point. She’ll miss me.”

“Are you sure it’s Dani that we’re talking about here?”

“Okay, I’ll miss her too, but the fact still remains that she is going to miss being with me.”

“I understand that, but when we work out how we’re going to share custody of her, and we will, it’s going to be hard on her. We might as well start now.”

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