The pipes were playing for Evangeline. John concentrated on standing
upright, on sinew and bone that wouldn't give way, on blood that
coursed arrogantly through his veins. His body was greedy with life,
and the pipes were playing for Evangeline.
The wind was cruel with cold, and John stood in his kilt beside her
marker. Her mother had allowed a small memorial in Llanview. She
wouldn't have one for the family until a body was found. She had told
him, with her eyes owl-wide and absorbingly dark, that she believed
Evangeline was alive. She knew he thought the same.
"Keep looking for her, son. She loves you," the old woman compelled
him, and he promised that he would search for Evangeline until he
found her or until he took his last breath.
This memorial was Nora's doing. She insisted that Evangeline's spirit
not be let out into the universe without some acknowledgements. She
wanted a huge, church-bound, collective grieving. She wanted a choir
to rival that in heaven. She wanted so much for her friend. All John
could agree to was a graveside memorial. A small something because he
wouldn't admit that she was dead. A small something, with the pipes
playing for Evangeline.
He hadn't realized the music had stopped until Michael put a hand in
his back and whispered in his ear. The memorial was over, Michael
said, and John nodded. His mind was on his love and how the memorial
had begun to seem too real to him. He turned around the face the
crowd, with Michael guiding him. Most of Llanview had come. He
hadn't noticed all the people before. The Buchanans, the Vegas, the
Gannons, the Mannings, the Lords. They all came up to him and gave
him their sympathies. He didn't want them, but he accepted their well
wishes and hugs and pats on the back as well as he could, being numb.
Nora stood beside him and squeezed his hand. RJ Gannon came up to
them and kissed Nora on the cheek and said he should never have let
Evangeline go. Then, she would have been safe. John took the insult
in stride because part of him believed it to be true. And, that
belief, the belief that Evangeline would have been safer with someone
else, is what drove him.
After the memorial, after Nora crumbled into tears and was lead away
by Bo, after Antonio offered to help him anyway he could, after
Michael dropped him off at the Angel Square Hotel, John walked to a
local pub where no one knew him and paid for a bottle of whiskey to
drown his consciousness. In his head, he could still hear the pipes
playing for Evangeline.
Killian raised the woman's head and managed to get some chicken broth
into her. She'd gone days without eating. He was worried about her.
Her fever was getting worse. In the weeks since he'd found her,
unconscious in the snow, like a heart-broken angel, she'd only mumbled
a few words and had said one name over and over, "John."
"Come on, my beauty, open your eyes for me. Tell me who you are.
Tell me where you're from," Killian said to her, sitting beside her on
He had told her everything about himself. How he had been raised on a
large farm in Galway, Ireland, where his family raised horses. How
his father had wanted him to follow in the family business but his
mother had encouraged him to follow his heart and go into medicine.
How he had met his wife in an American medical school. How they had
married after only six months of dating. How she had died in his
arms. How he had died with her.
Killian rose from his seat beside the woman, who charmed him with the
berry blush roasting beneath the umber of her skin. He reached down
and smoothed her hair, pausing over her forehead to check the status
of her fever again. He had to bring down her temperature quickly. He
thought he might have to put her into his metallic tub once more and
fill it with snow.
Snow. There was plenty of it outside. Soon, if her fever didn't come
down, he would have to risk taking her out into the drifts of frozen
white on the mountain. He couldn't bear having her die in his arms.
He would have to get her to a hospital. He didn't care if he was
discovered and put in prison. Without anyone to talk to, his life was
nothing more than a cage anyway.
Nigel sat John on the bed. He had made up a polite excuse to make
sure the lieutenant arrived at his room safely. Nigel pulled back the
covers and took off the lieutenant's jacket, placing it neatly on a
As Nigel opened the door to leave, John spoke to him through the
darkness. "Get the croissants for breakfast, Nigel. The ones you
used to get for her," he said, his voice a threadbare whisper.
"Of course, Lieutenant McBain. I'll make sure they are exactly the same."
Nigel closed the door and left the poor lieutenant to the abyss of his pain.
In her dreams, Evangeline and John were happy. She always met him
with a kiss – a giggling kiss, like he called it. He seemed to need
her so badly each time they met. His indigo eyes were wet and
shining, and he held her on to her so tightly.
"Evangeline," he would say. "Come back to me."
She would eat him up with her eyes and laugh and ask him where she was
if she wasn't with him.
This time, he was different, more desperate. She had a picnic
planned, and he wouldn't eat. She put her hand in the thick of his
near-black hair and kissed him. When their lips parted, they remained
close, their faces a hair's breadth from each other.
"Baby, tell me where you are," John said, kissing her softly on the cheek.
His face was wet with tears, and this upset Evangeline. He never
cried. She shook herself from his hold, from the worry that something
was wrong. She leaned over and grabbed a bottle of Caffrey's from the
"I had your Aunt Bridget send some over from the Emerald Isle," she
Evangeline put the bottle against the pulse of his neck, and then
against hers. The sun was high in the sky, throwing daggers of heat
carelessly about the city. Evangeline felt overly warm and told John
she was sorry she hadn't gotten them a spot in the shade. She was
beginning to feel sick.
John raised her to her feet, and she leaned against him. He was so
strong. He was always so strong. She said his name over and over
"Baby, please, tell me where you are," John said again, stroking her hair.
Just before she passed out, Evangeline heard herself give him a new
answer: "On the mountain."
John sat up sharply in his bed, with two thoughts racing through his
mind. Evangeline was on a mountain somewhere alive, and he had to
find her any way he could.