Lost Love Ė Ch 2
John was drinking a cup of coffee and thinking about how hard it must have been for Evangeline to raise Danielle alone. He hadnít understood until the last couple of days just how hard it was being a parent. Since theyíd moved in with him, heíd taken a few days off work, but he was still the Ďfuní parent. Evangeline was the one who handled the hard stuff; the stuff that led to tears and had Dani running to him for comfort. Evangeline had left the morning before and would be back the following day. Two days alone with his daughter and already heíd had a little mishap.
Last night heíd had to dish out a little discipline. Heíd put Dani in time out for jumping off the last two steps on the staircase at the condo. Sheíd cried bloody murder. Sheíd been so upset that her Daddy would do that to her. He cringed when he remembered how it all started.
"Dani, you can not keep jumping off the steps. You could get hurt. Iíve told you too many times. Now, Iím going to have to put you in time out. You get 5 minutes in the chair," John said.
Heíd watched Evangeline handle situations like this over the past week and knew he was right to do it, even though he absolutely hated having too. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Dani had started crying. Crocodile tears ran down her cheeks and he could feel himself weakening. He never wanted to be the reason that his little girl cried, but he knew he had to drive the point home, so heíd stood firm.
When he pointed to the chair facing the corner in the kitchen, sheíd looked at him with disappointment in her eyes and said, "Daddy, I donít like you right now. I want Mommy."
She poked out her bottom lip and trudged to the chair. She climbed up and slumped into it. It had broken his heart to watch her and to hear that she wanted her mother instead of him. Heíd set the timer on the oven and sat down on a stool.
After the time had been up, sheíd gone to her room to get Johnny Boy, but when she came down the stairs this time she didnít jump the last two steps. Then she went into the living room to watch Blues Clues. While she was watching, John had called his mother. She had made him feel a little better.
"John, you did what you had to do," said Eve.
"Then why do I feel so bad?"
"Because sheís your daughter and you love her and you donít want her to be unhappy."
"She told me that she didnít like me right now. She asked for Evangeline."
"And she meant it at the time, but she loves you. She just didnít like that you punished her. Sheíll get over it."
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely, you and your brother did that to me all the time. You got over it. Itíll be okay. I promise."
"Well, Iím going to hold you to it."
"Whatís she doing right now?"
"Watching Blueís Clues."
"Why donít you go watch with her?"
He had taken his motherís advice and not 10 minutes later Dani had climbed into his lap.
Then she turned to him fiddling with the bow at Johnny Boyís neck.
"Daddy?" she said without looking at him.
"What sweetheart?" he asked with a smile.
"Iím sorry for jumping off the stairs."
"I know. Iím sorry I had to put you in time out," he said regretfully and hugged her close.
"I know. Mommy says that too. I wonít jump off the stairs anymore."
"I love you, Dani."
"Love you, too, Daddy."
Before long she was talking and laughing like herself. He had been relieved that the lesson while hard had been the right choice. He smiled as he thought of Dani. She was a little dynamo.
The object of his attention came running into the kitchen. She stopped right in front of him and looked at him with her hands on her nonexistent hips.
"Daddy, Iím hungry."
"What do you want? Cereal or Oatmeal?"
"Um, Oatmeal," she said tapping her chin.
"Okay, coming right up? Why donít you grab a paper towel and climb into your chair," he said as he put instant oatmeal into the microwave. He got her some orange juice and half of a banana. His little girl was if nothing else a healthy eater thanks to her mother.
"Daddy?" Dani said around a bite of banana.
"Donít talk with your mouth full Dani. You could choke," John replied and waited until she swallowed to ask, "What did you want to ask me?"
"Did you eat already?"
"No, I just had a cup of coffee. Why?"
"Mommy says breakfast is the most portant meal of the day," she said with emphasis on her version of Ďimportantí.
"Uh huh, so you should eat with me."
"I think youíre right," he said and retrieved a muffin from the cabinet.
"Do you think this is good enough, Miss Dani?"
"Uh huh," she said with a smile, satisfied that she was taking care of Daddy while Mommy was away.
Later that evening, Evangeline was sitting in her apartment in Atlanta looking at the boxes stacked against the door. Sheíd talked to Dani earlier and she was having a great time with her daddy. She had spent time with her Nana Eve, Uncle Michael, Auntie Marcie and baby MJ, whom she loved.
"Itís like having an alive dolly, Mommy," Dani had said to her on the phone earlier, then she changed the subject, "Mommy, when are you getting home?"
Home, Evangeline thought. Dani was already thinking of Johnís as home. John hated Evangeline for what had happened and now she would be living with him. Evangeline fully understood. She would have hated her too, if sheíd been kept from Danielle.
"Iím sorry sweetie. Iíll be there tomorrow night."
"Yay!! I miss you."
"I miss you too. Is daddy reading to you tonight?"
"Heís reading Green Eggs and Ham."
"Where is he?"
"Here he is," Dani said and passed the phone to her daddy. Evangeline could hear her in the background say to John, "Mommyís on the phone."
He laughed and must have tickled the little girl, because she giggled.
"I know Mommyís on the phone. I called her," he said to Dani. Then into the phone, he said, "Evangeline?"
"Yes, Iím here. How are you tonight?"
"Iím fine. How are you?"
"Ready to get back there."
"Well, weíre waiting on you," he said and Evangeline felt a tingle go down her spine.
"Howís Dani doing with me being gone?" She asked.
"She misses you, but sheís fine. She has her moments when she wants you and only you, but sheís okay. I think the fact that you stayed with me a week before going back to Atlanta helped her adjust pretty quickly."
"Iím sure it did. Are you spoiling her?"
"No. I am not an overly indulgent parent," he said with amusement in his voice.
"Yeah, right. I heard about the new toys. Just donít let her take advantage of you."
"Iíve never had the opportunity to shop for her, so I might be making up for lost time."
"Well, just remember she doesnít know that. Donít start something you donít plan on continuing."
"Thanks for the lesson in parenting. I guess I need it, since I just recently realized I was one," he replied resentfully.
Evangeline didnít answer, she just sighed. She didnít know how long they would skirt around the animosity he had about not having known he had a daughter.
"Evangeline, Iím sorry. I know it not your fault. And I do realize that it is difficult raising a child."
"No problem. Kiss Dani for me and tell her good night."
"Iíll do that. Sheís leaning against me half asleep," he said, "Dani, Mommy said good night. She loves you."
"Tell mommy, I love her too," Evangeline heard Dani say in her sleepy voice.
"Sounds like someone is about to be out for the night," Evangeline commented.
"I would agree with you."
"Well, you go and put the munchkin to bed. Iíll see you tomorrow."
"Okay, be careful."
The following day Evangeline was sitting on the plane, wondering how she was supposed to live in Johnís house until she found a house of her own. Daniís and her things were on there way to Llanview. She would put their things in storage until she found a house. She wanted Dani to have a backyard and a puppy.
Evangeline also wanted to make peace with Johnís family. His family had not been hostile when sheíd seen them again, but they hadnít been open either. They would tolerate her because of Dani and because according to Marcie, John was already more open and laid back then heíd been in years. Johnís mother was distant with Van and she couldnít blame her. Eve didnít know the background and Van wasnít sure that sheíd ever tell her. Eve was protective of her son just as she should be. She could understand because she was just as protective as Dani.
This separation from Danielle had been harder on her than it had been on Dani. Dani was with her father. That had always been her biggest wish. Evangeline had always made a point to tell Dani how special and wonderful her father and his family were. That was something that sheíd never kept a secret. Evangeline had never stopped loving John. Sheíd been so happy when she found out she was pregnant, because she would always have a little piece of him with her.
Her eyes filled with tears as she thought of what could have been. She was sorry that her being away had hurt him so, but it was something that was out of her control. She knew he was still angry with her and she didnít know how to get him to forgive her. Maybe he never would, but she knew he would never try to hurt her. He wasnít that kind of man.
The plane landed and when she got to baggage claim, she heard a little girl shriek.
Evangeline looked around just in time to brace herself for the small tornado that landed against her legs. Her face lit up when she looked down into the face of her giggling daughter.
"Dani, what are you doing here?"
"Me and Daddy came to get you," she said with a big smile on her face.
"Daddy and I," Evangeline corrected.
"Daddy and I came to get you," Dani repeated.
"I missed you Mommy."
"I missed you, too," Evangeline said as she picked up her daughter and kissed her cheek. She looked over Daniís shoulder to see John approaching. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. On his feet, he wore a pair of white sneakers. He looked relaxed and peaceful.
"Hey, Angie," he said with a smile when he reached them. Evangelineís breath caught. He didnít realize that heíd called her by the nickname heíd given her years ago.
Heíd been standing back watching the interaction between mother and daughter. They were so beautiful together. It hurt to watch them and to know how much heíd missed.
The last couple of days heíd missed Evangeline. After living with her for a week, heíd gotten used to the noises in the house when she was there. In her time away from him, sheíd become practically a gourmet cook. She hummed when she did housework. She sang with Dani and listened to classical music while she read or while Dani was napping. He could smell the scent of her in every room but his own. Her very presence brought a certain peace wherever she went. She drew him like a moth to the flame.
"Hi, John. I see you and the munchkin survived," she responded with a smile.
"Iím not a munchkin, Mommy," Dani said with a frown.
"Youíre my munchkin," Evangeline said as she rubbed noses with the little girl, which resulted in an outburst of giggles. Evangeline sat Dani down on her feet and went to the carousel. As she was reaching for her bag, John grabbed it and smiled at her.
"You get the munchkin and Iíll get the bag."
"Okay," Evangeline said as she grabbed Dani hand.
When they arrived back at home, dinner was in the oven. John got Vanís bag from the trunk and took it into her room. While he was gone, Dani climbed up on a stool by the counter and told her mother everything sheíd been doing the past few days.
"Daddy and I cooked," said Dani, remembering her motherís correction from before.
"You did. What did you cook?"
"I bet itís really good."
John still hadnít come down so Van and Dani went looking for him. They found him in Vanís room looking at the picture of himself that was sitting on Vanís chest.
"Daddy, what are you looking at?"
"This picture," he said as he showed it to the little girl, while keeping his eyes on Evangeline.
"Thatís mommyís picture. It used to be on the piano and she looked at it all the time," Dani said innocently as John looked intently at Evangeline.
"Danielle, are you hungry?" Evangeline asked before John could respond in hopes that the change of conversation would distract Dani. It worked. She was sure that John would bring it back up later.
"Yes, maíam. I starving."
"I think thatís a little exaggerated," Evangeline said laughing.
Evangeline held out her hand for the little girl glad for the distraction and for the easiest way of getting out of her room without any awkward silence that was a result of Daniís confession. As the two moved toward the stairs, Evangeline heard the door to her room close and Johnís footsteps behind them.
"Whatís xagerated?" Dani asked with a frown.
"Exaggerated kind of means you say things are bigger or more than they really are."
"I donít understand."
"Youíll understand later."
"You always say that."
"Yes, well youÖ.." Evangeline wasnít looking down as she was moving down the stairs and Dani had left one of her toys on the steps. Evangeline pushed Dani against the steps to keep her from falling, but couldnít catch herself. She knew she was going to tumble down the steps, but there was nothing she could do to stop it. She could hear Dani crying at the scare of being thrown against the steps. All of a sudden, she felt what could have been a band of steel encircle her waist. It was Johnís arm. He drew her back onto his lap, where he held her shaking body and sighed deeply. After all this, I almost lose her in a fall down the stairs.
Ever since John had told her how he used to sit outside his motherís room, after his father died, and wait for her to stop crying, sheíd known he was a protector. What she didnít realize was that she would need one so soon after being back in his life. She definitely couldnít have chosen a better one.
"Angie, are you okay?" he asked as he turned her around on his lap. She nodded as he cradled her in his arms and rested his head on top of hers. Then he looked down at the little girl that was huddled against his side, with her hand clutched in her motherís.
"Dani, I have told you not to leave your toys on the stairs. Mommy could have been hurt, badly."
"Iím sorry Daddy," she said through the sobs, "I didnít want Mommy to get hurt."
"I know honey, but youíve got to do better about picking up your toys, okay?"
John rubbed both of his girlsí backs and took a deep breath. They were both okay and he needed to keep them that way.
"Hey, ladies, lets eat. Angie, can you stand?"
"Yes," she said as she stood up and moved down a few steps to prove that she was fine. She picked up the offensive toy and then said, "Letís eat. By the way, thank you for saving me from what would have been a nasty fall."
He looked at her with a smile, "Youíre welcome."
"Come on Dani. Letís go eat this great spaghetti," she said holding out her hand to Danielle.
"kay," Dani said slipping her hand into her motherís. Then she looked up at her father, extending her hand and said, "Come on, Daddy."
"Yes, maíam," he said taking the hand and being pulled down the stairs by the little girl.
Later that night, John was lying in bed thinking about the woman that was sleeping in the bed down the hall. When Angie had almost taken that spill down the steps, his heart had stopped. Heíd moved faster than he could ever remember moving. In his mindís eye, he could see her lying at the bottom of the steps bloody and broken. It shook him just to think about it.
He tilted his head as he heard what could have been whimpering. He got up from the bed and went into the hallway. Heíd begun sleeping in pajama bottoms when Evangeline and Dani moved in, because his little girl had a bad habit of just walking into rooms. The noise wasnít coming from Daniís room he found as he moved down the hallway. When he got closer to Evangelineís room, the noises got louder. He slowly pushed the door open and glanced at the bed against the opposite wall. Evangeline was tangled in the sheets and attempting to fight her way out of them in her sleep. He quickly went to sit on the bed. He pulled the sheets loose and brushed her hair off her cheek. She woke up suddenly, gasping and confused. She looked into his eyes and launched herself at him. He held her against him.
"Whoa, are you okay?" John asked Evangeline.
After a long moment, she took a deep breath, "Iím fine. It was just a bad dream."
"Want to talk about it?"
"Not particularly," she said before leaning back from him, "Sorry I woke you up."
"You didnít. I was having trouble sleeping."
"Want to talk about it?"
"I was thinking about us and this place weíre in."
"Oh? And what place would that be?"
"The place where we are tentative around each other, but we want to make the best of it for Dani. Weíve got to move on. Sooner or later, sheís going to feel it and I donít want her to feel like she is the reason for any tension between us."
"How are we supposed to do that?"
"Talk to each other. Make sure that weíre honest with each other."
"With that in mind, what was the dream about?"
Evangeline looked away and avoided eye contact.
"It was about you being hurt. I couldnít get to you, but you were hurt and it was my fault."
"How was it your fault?"
"You were hurt because of my helping with that last case," she said with a tortured look in her eyes.
"Angie, Iím fine," he said as he pulled her into his embrace, "Nothingís going to happen to me. Iím right here with you and Dani and thatís where Iím staying."
"Okay," she said nodding, not completely convinced.
"I know you were trying to distract me earlier, but why have you kept a picture of me all these years."
"The main reason was so Dani would always be able to see you. You know feel close to you, if only in that picture."
"Whatís the other reason?"
She sighed and looked away from him.
"Angie?" he said.
"I kept it because I needed a connection to you other than Dani. You were the only thing real from life and I needed you close somehow."
"I get that. I have a picture of you in my room because I couldnít completely let you go. Maybe I knew you would be coming back. I donít know. I do know that I missed you."
He tilted her face toward him and looked into her eyes before leaning in to kiss her for the first time in four years. That kiss was filled with longing and desire and something Evangeline was afraid to put a name on. She returned the kiss with everything in her. Sheíd missed him something terrible. Before they knew it, she was pressed into the bed by Johnís big body. She didnít have the strength to stop where this would lead and neither did he. They resigned themselves to dealing with the consequences later.
Just as clothes were being removed, they were interruptedÖ
Back | Chapter 3