Lost Love Ė Ch 3
Quite a few weeks had past since their moment in Evangelineís bedroom. They had avoided spending any time alone since that night. They made a point to include Dani whenever they were together.
Evangeline had spent time with Eve, Marcie and Shannon over the past few weeks. She had grown really fond of them. They were really terrific women. Eve had warmed to her as she watched Evangeline with her granddaughter. The change in her son since Evangelineís return also gave Eve cause to give Evangeline another chance. Since Evangelineís mother had past away during her time in hiding, she hadnít had anyone to bounce things off of as it related to Dani. Eve had given Evangeline permission to call her any time she had a question. Evangeline was grateful to her for that.
Marcie was the tolerant member of the group. She was always attempting to promote peace in situations. She was funny and smart. She would also fight for the things she believed in. Evangeline believed that Marcie might have been her greatest supporter. Evangeline really liked her. Shannon was the firecracker in the family. Since her years at Llanview U, sheíd really grown into herself. She worked at the Love Center with troubled youth. Dani loved her. She would trail around behind Shannon like a shadow. Shannon was very patient with Dani and that made Evangeline love her even more, too. Shannon and Evangeline had gone shopping a couple of times while Dani had stayed with Eve. Shannon was proving to be someone Evangeline could talk to about anything.
Evangeline had also been spending time rebuilding her friendship with Nora. She wasnít practicing law any more, but she still kept up with it. Sheíd even been able to help Nora prepare for a couple of cases. It was nice, because while she was settled into her new life she missed being a lawyer. Maybe when Dani started school, sheíd attempt to go back to practicing, but for now she just enjoyed raising her daughter.
Even though she had spent as little time alone with John as possible, she and Dani spent plenty of time with him. They sat down to dinner practically every night. John made a point to be home early enough most nights to spend time with Dani discussing her day and reading to her. On the weekends, John made a point to not work more than half a day. Usually on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, the three of them went to the park or the zoo. Dani absolutely adored her father. Evangeline did too if she was honest with herself. She just couldnít let it show. Sheíd hurt him and she didnít expect him to forgive her. She wouldnít put the burden of her feelings on him, too.
Tonight was going to be a test. The entire McBain family was having a barbeque at Marcie and Michaelís. This would be the first family event that Evangeline had participated in. She wasnít sure how it would work out, but she didnít have a choice of being there. As she was building a tentative relationship with the McBain women, she couldnít say no to the dinner. Sheíd dressed in jeans and a baby blue polo shirt for the barbeque. Dani was dressed in overall shorts with Pluto, her favorite Disney character, on the front and a pink t-shirt. Dani was sitting on the floor turning pages in an Alphabet picture board book Shannon had gotten for her. Evangeline was sitting on pins and needles while they waited on John to get down stairs. Heíd gotten in from work later than heíd anticipated and heíd gone to take a shower and change.
Dani was getting bored with her book and walked to the piano that now sat in the living room of the condo. Evangeline had it delivered to Johnís until she found her own house. It would have to stay there for a longer period apparently since she hadnít been able to find anything yet. Dani opened the piano and looked at her mother. She wasnít allowed to touch the keys without permission. Evangeline shook her head as she thought about what a hard lesson that had been and walked to the piano and sat on the bench. She then picked Dani up and sat her on the bench beside her.
"What do you want to play?"
"You are my sunshine," Dani said with a grin.
"Okay, do you remember how it goes?"
"Are you going to play too?" Dani asked with a frown.
"Not this time. Iím going to watch you."
"You sing then," Dani demanded.
"Youíre pretty bossy, you know that," Evangeline said, as she smoothed her daughterís hair.
"Daddy says Iím just like you."
"Is that right?" Evangeline asked with a laugh, "Okay, go ahead and play."
Dani started playing and Evangeline joined in with the song.
John heard them from the top of the stairs. He smiled as he came into the room. They were so adorable together. Dani was playing well for her age, but she hit a few wrong notes. She didnít notice as she enjoyed playing with her mom. They both looked up at him with identical grins. Dani climbed down from the bench and ran to her dad. He caught her just as she would have run into his legs and picked her up in his arms.
"Did you like it daddy?"
"I did. I didnít know I was living with such talented girls," he said with a smile that included Evangeline.
"Well, we live to surprise you," Evangeline responded.
"Is that right?"
"We try," Evangeline said and the two of them shared a smile. She was the first to break eye contact.
He looked at Dani and asked, "Are you ready milady?"
"Yes, daddy, Iím ready."
"Well, letís get this show on the road."
"We donít have a show daddy," Dani said and Evangeline laughed at the expression on Johnís face.
He just shook his head and said, "Ah, yeah. Letís go."
John carried Dani to the car, with Evangeline following them, and buckled Dani into her car seat, before getting behind the wheel.
He was a few minutes away from Michaelís when he finally allowed himself to look at Evangeline. Heíd been fighting against the distraction that Evangeline was to him whenever they were in the same room. He noticed that her hands were clenched in her lap. A smile tilted the corner of his mouth. She was nervous.
Unconsciously, he reached out and laid his hand on top of hers. Her hands unclenched and opened under his. He took her left hand in is and wove his fingers through hers. Then he squeezed her hand.
"Thereís no reason for you to be nervous. My family loves you."
He pulled their joined hands to his thigh, forcing Evangeline to lean toward him in her seat. She relaxed into the seat and looked back at their daughter who had fallen asleep on the drive.
"She okay?" he asked, glancing into Evangelineís face.
"Sheís fine. Doing her usual when we ride in the car, sleeping," Evangeline said with a radiant look on her face.
He didnít say anything but he could actually feel the love Evangeline had for that little girl. Sometimes it made him sad because he used to feel that when she looked at him. She didnít look at him very much any more. He wasnít sure if it was because of what happened weeks ago in her bedroom or if it was because she didnít have feelings for him anymore. The latter wasnít something he wanted to fathom. They hadnít talked about their future or if there was a possibility for them to have one together. It was time for them to talk about the past and what they wanted. Tonight was as good a time as any. Ready or Not.
While the men were manning the grill, the womenfolk were putting together the side items. Dani was having the best time Ďhelpingí both inside and out. The women had a great time laughing and talking while they worked. Evangeline felt silly now about the nervousness earlier. These women were slowly but surely becoming her friends. She didnít have to pretend to be something she wasnít.
She found herself looking for John throughout the evening. At one point, Shannon called her on it.
"Heís still where you saw him last," Shannon said.
"What are you talking about?" Evangeline responded.
"John is still where you last saw him."
Evangeline blushed. All the women looked at her and smiled.
"Thereís nothing to be ashamed of Evangeline. He watches you too," said Marcie
"No he doesnít. John is still furious at me for what happened."
"Based on what you told us, it wasnít your fault. He probably understands that better than you think," added Eve. Evangeline had decided if she was going to have a real relationship with the McBain women she needed to explain why she left. Sheíd given them the watered down version of the events that led to her leaving.
"Maybe, but it doesnít change how he feels."
"I donít know, but you two need to make peace for the little oneís sake," Eve responded.
"Whoís the little one, Nana?" asked Dani as she walked into the room from outside.
Outside, John was flipping steaks and chicken and turning hotdogs. He glanced through the glass door into the kitchen and Michael saw him.
"Sheís not going anywhere."
"Evangeline is not leaving again. You can see it in her eyes."
"She didnít leave of her own free will before. I donít know what to think."
"Is mom keeping Dani tonight?"
"Yep, I already cleared it. Evangeline will be upset that I didnít talk to her about it, but thatís too bad. Weíve got to talk and weíve got to do it without Dani there."
"I hope that doesnít make it more confrontational."
"Probably will, but I expect a fight anyway," he said with a smile.
After theyíd been at Michael and Marcieís for a couple of hours, Dani was running from adult to adult. She loved all the attention. Sheíd helped Marcie feed MJ his last bottle and now she thought she was an expert. She found her father and uncle outside on the patio and she regaled them with her knowledge of feeding babies. She was very proud of herself. Since John had talked to his mother earlier and gotten her to agree to keep Dani overnight, now was the time to get his little girlís agreement.
"Dani, would you like to spend the night at Nanaís?" John asked after pulling the little girl onto his lap.
"Yes, daddy. Iíd love it," she said with a grin.
"Nana, told me earlier that she wanted you to come home with her tonight and Iíll come and get you tomorrow morning. How about that?"
"What about Mommy?"
"Mommy is going home with me."
"Sheíll be lonely without me there."
"Iíll take care of her."
"Pinky swear," Dani declared and held up her pinky to her father.
"Pinky swear," he responded. As he grasped her finger with his, he thought back to a similar innocent promise with her mother that had led to so much more.
Evangeline was upstairs with Marcie and MJ when John went looking for her. When he entered the nursery, Evangeline was sitting in the rocking chair holding MJ. She was singing Brahmís Lullabye to the baby and he was captivated by her. Marcie was standing in the doorway to the closet with an enchanted look on her face.
Evangeline looked like an angel holding that baby in the dim lamplight and he felt himself falling under her spell. This was what heíd missed with Dani. Since Evangeline had been back sheíd given him pictures of Dani as a baby. One of them was of Evangeline holding Dani just days after she was born. That picture was as close as he would ever get to experiencing this with Dani. He was still resentful of that, but he was slowly getting over it.
When Evangeline finished the song, she got up and put the sleeping baby in his crib. She looked toward the bedroom door and smiled at John. She didnít look surprised to find him there, so she must have sensed him earlier. He knew that sheíd never looked at him. Heíd been watching her intently.
Evangeline and Marcie walked out of the room and met John in the hallway. He turned to Evangeline and asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah, Iíll go get Dani."
"Dani went home with my mother," he said waiting for the outburst that he knew was coming.
"What do you mean Dani went home with your mother? You didnít even consult me?"
"Angie, we need to talk and we canít do that with Dani in the house."
"So you just decide weíre going to talk and I donít have any say in it."
"Of course you have a say, but I knew at the rate we were going, we wouldnít talk for months."
She clenched her teeth and didnít say anything. She turned to Marcie with a smile and said, "Thanks for dinner and for making us feel so welcome."
"No thanks necessary. Youíre family," Marcie replied and gave Evangeline a hug.
Marcie then leaned up so John could kiss her on the cheek and whispered to him, "Good Luck. Youíre going to need it."
He smiled down at her and nodded his head, "Youíre right."
They said their goodbyes to Michael and left. At the car, John opened Evangelineís door and she got into the car without saying a word to him. He sighed and got into the driverís seat. He turned to her and took her hand. She resisted but he held on.
"Iím sorry that I didnít talk to you about Dani going home with mom, but I knew we had to talk and I know you donít want to."
She turned to him and sighed, "It not that I donít want to talk to you. I donít want to fight with you and Iím afraid of our being alone together."
"Our physical attraction to each other has never been in doubt. I donít want us falling into something that we arenít ready for or would regret."
"I see. I thought you were avoiding me because you were still upset about me forcing you into living with me."
"I guess, weíve both been making some assumptions without knowing how the other feels. Iím sorry."
"Me, too. So, do you forgive me?"
"Yes," she said with a smile and squeezed his hand.
"Well, since thatís settled letís go home and talk," he said releasing her hand and turning the key in the ignition.
"Letís go home."
When they arrived at the condo, they both noticed that the house was awfully quiet without Dani there. Evangeline went into the kitchen and made decaffeinated coffee. She didnít want to be wired during this discussion. After pouring two cups, she added cream and sugar to a tray and went to find John. Heíd turned on the radio and found a jazz station to give them some background noise. He was standing in front of the window overlooking the back yard when she walked into the den. He looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Maybe having the talk tonight was for the best. The last thing she wanted was for him to suffer anymore than he already had as a result of her being here. She placed the tray she was carrying on the coffee table and went to stand beside him. She glanced down at the hand that hung to his side and saw that it was clenched. She placed her hand on top of his and his fingers relaxed almost immediately. She slid her hand around and gripped his fingers. He finally turned to her and gazed at her for a long moment.
She finally asked him quietly, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Just thinking about us," he said with a half smile.
"Oh," she said and glanced away from his stare.
He shook her hand and she looked back at him, "It wasnít bad. I was just thinking about how much I missed you over the past four years. Youíve changed so much and sometimes I feel like I donít know you at all. Others, I feel like I know you better than I know myself. Either way, Iím glad that youíre here."
"I know that. You get to spend time with Dani everyday and I know how much you love her," she said with a smile that didnít fully reach her eyes.
"I do love Dani. So much so, that sometimes I think it canít be real, but I wasnít talking about Dani," he said and then he reached out for her other hand. When they were facing each other, he said, "Iím glad youíre here."
"Iím glad Iím here too. Iíve missed you so much. Sometimes I would lie down in a quiet room and just imagine that you were there with me. Being away from you was the hardest thing Iíve ever had to do," she said and tears filled her eyes. As the tears escaped down her cheeks, she laughed at herself.
"Hey," he said as he released her hands and cupped her cheeks, wiping away the tears with his thumbs. She wrapped her fingers around his wrists as he pulled her to him. His lips were firm and warm against hers. She leaned into him and surrendered to the kiss. It had always been like this with John. She was powerless in her feelings for him. Could she survive without him? Yes. Did she want to? Absolutely not.
They separated and he pulled her into an embrace. They swayed to the music that was filtering through the room. She rested her head against his shoulder and allowed him to support her weight. For a long time they just danced. It had been so long and sheíd missed him so much. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her lips into the hollow of his neck. He shuddered at the contact and held her closer.
Finally, he pulled back and looked in her eyes and asked, "What do we do now?"
"I donít know what we should do, but I remember an extraordinarily smart man once said maybe we should just ignore everyone and see what happens."
"I wonder who said that. That is extremely profound," he said with a smirk.
"I think so, too," she agreed.
He kissed her. He loved the taste of her, couldnít get enough of it. In that moment, he decided that they had all the time in the world to talk. Heíd been without her for four years and that was long enough. He had to have her now. With that in mind, he lifted her in his arms and carried her up the stairs. When he laid her on his bed, she held his face between her hands and traced his features, as if she was imprinting them in her memory.
"Iím not going any where," he told her.
"I know. Sometimes thatís just hard to believe."
"Are you sure about this?"
"No, but I want to be with you in every way."
He kissed her in response. He undressed her and himself and worshipped her body. He was in control. Tonight, he wanted her to know just how much he had missed her. Heíd shut himself off from anyone outside his immediate family when Evangeline had disappeared. Heíd never wanted to hurt like that again, so heíd only dealt with his family. Now after having lived with her for weeks, he could understand why people would risk their hearts after having been hurt. Even though, he still felt angry when he noticed something new about Dani, he wanted all the things a couple could have with the beautiful woman lying beneath him. They already shared a child. He wanted them to share a life, if only they could move past what theyíd lost.
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