CHAPTER TWO

Mrs. Bigelow sat opposite Todd in his newly finished office at The
Banner Sun. She was wearing her favorite black, pinstriped suit. She
hoped that if any lines were going to be crossed that day, they'd be
the lines on her body and a handsome, young devil of a man would be
doing the crossing.

"So, what have you got for me, Bigelow?" Todd asked, taking her out of
her reverie.

"You were right. Lieutenant McBain has gone to look for Evangeline.
Your niece's husband, Antonio, is helping as well."

Mrs. Bigelow had done some investigating. The morose young detective
had taken a sabbatical from the Llanview Police Department and had
rented an apartment near Evangeline's plane crash site.

Todd slammed his hand down on the desk, "I told him to call me if he
needed help," Todd said. "I knew he didn't think she was dead. He
couldn't find his damn nose, if it wasn't on his face."

Laughing brightly, Mrs. Bigelow asked, "Does anyone really die in
Llanview? Of course, he thinks she's alive."

Todd's eyes gleamed with mischief. He started wagging his finger at
Mrs. Bigelow and huffing as if he were about to join in her laughter.

"We're going to find her first, whatever the cost," he said, and as
though some thought-provoking breeze scurried across his desk, Todd
suddenly turned serious. He thought about how Evangeline had helped
Mrs. Bigelow track him down when he had underestimated Margaret's
lunacy and wound up her prisoner of love. He shuddered, thinking what
would have happened to him if Evangeline, Bigelow and Starr had not
suspected foul play when Blair hadn't.

"Evangeline is my only semi-sort of friend in this lousy town. I
won't lose her."

"And what am I?" Mrs. Bigelow asked with a dry caw in her voice.

"Chopped liver," Todd said with a smile, waving her out of the office.
"Now, go. Get started."

Mrs. Bigelow laughed again at her little madman. She wanted to find
Evangeline as well. Evangeline had funded most of the search for Todd
and hadn't allowed Mrs. Bigelow to tell the truth of it. She admired
the young woman's form and felt Todd would be safe in Evangeline's
care once Bigelow decided to shed her mortal coil.

There was something deliberate in Evangeline's goodness. If nothing
else, Bigelow would help find the girl out of curiosity, a curiosity
about Evangeline's more human underside, the hidden part that held the
heart together and kept the soul from revealing too much of itself.
____________________________________________________________________

Evangeline arose to the smell of a wild thing cooking. She sat up
slowly in the bed, her eyes closed, trying to figure out when her
bedding had become so natty. She thought for an instant that she was
in John's old hotel room, but they had moved into a new home together.
Wait, they had separated again. Evangeline was confused.

"Did we get back together?" she questioned herself, putting her face
in her hands. Thoughts rose and fell in her mind like a red rubber
ball lost in the ocean, going along with whichever wave flirted with
it.

They weren't back together, she and John. They loved each other, but
he wouldn't let them work it out. He kept fighting with her, and they
kept scaring each other. It had been her worst fear realized: loving
someone and having your heart shattered by him. His worst betrayal
had been letting her go.

The memory of the plane crash screamed in her brain, and Evangeline
brought her knees up to her chest, putting her head down. She held
onto herself and began rocking back and forth, as the images of the
crash barreled down on her. The plane cracking open like an egg. The
pilot yelling for help. The prayers she whispered, for herself and
for anyone who loved her. The screeching horror of metal crumpling in
the face of an immovable mountain. The cold tomb of snow that
enveloped her as she was thrown.

A pair of arms embraced her, and Evangeline relaxed herself into them.
She opened her eyes slowly, as she rest her head against John's
shoulder. She thought it was John. But the bicep that pressed her
body against his was blanch white. There were no ink stains marking a
claddagh ring for someone loved eternally.

Evangeline gasped and shot back to the head of the bed. She gathered
the covers around herself and braced for what would happen next, for
what the tall man with the graying black hair and olive-green eyes
would do.

"Calm yourself, lass. You're safe now," the man said.

"Who are you? Where am I?" Evangeline stammered, looking around the
one-room cabin for an escape or a weapon.

"My name is Killian Fahey, and you are in my cabin "

"How did I get here?" Evangeline interrupted.

"Over my shoulders part of the way and in my arms the other part,"
Killian said gently.

Evangeline took note of lilt in his voice. "You're Irish," she said,
first smiling and then growing teary-eyed.

"Don't tell me. This John fellow is a no good Irishman," Killian said.

With a half-laugh, Evangeline nodded, still wiping the tears falling
involuntarily from her eyes. She began to hiccup like a child trying
to stop crying too soon.

Killian reached to remove a few of her tears from her face himself.
"Ah, lass, please don't cry, we Irishmen aren't worth it."
____________________________________________________________________

John had considered going alone in his attempt to find Evangeline. He
had been reluctant to confide in his brother that he believed
Evangeline alive. He was sure Michael would have insisted he get
counseling for his grief. Nora would have done the same. Gannon and
Manning would have come along, but each man brought too much baggage
to the table, and John had concluded that it would be best to seek his
love alone. Until Antonio approached him.

His relationship with Antonio had been strained for a long time. They
were barely civil when Evangeline took him on as a client in the Tico
Santi murder case, and they had stopped making an effort altogether
when John and Evangeline had separated from each other. Antonio had
chosen her friendship, and John couldn't blame him. He would have
too.

Antonio had approached John as he was walking though Angel Square Park
with bags in hand to leave. Antonio was carrying a large black bag of
his own.

"I'm going with you," Antonio had said plainly, squaring his shoulders
as though he would be hit.

John wouldn't look him in the eyes. "I'm not going anywhere you can go."

"You're going to find Eva, and I'm going with you."

John felt a jab in his stomach at the shortening of her name. It
reminded him of how close Evangeline and Antonio had been. She had
told Antonio things she had not told him.

"Evangeline is dead," John had said, the lie sticking deep in his throat.

Antonio shook his head and let the black bag go from his hand. He
embraced John roughly and whispered in his ear. "Let's forget every
drop of bad blood between us, man, and bring her home," Antonio had
said.

John stepped out of Antonio's hold, silently. He couldn't speak, and
he kept looking at the angel statue, as though she could give him the
answer as to what he should do.

"Look, John, what if something happens to you when you're trying to
bring her back," Antonio had said loudly, frustrated.

There it was again, the idea that Evangeline would be safer in the
care of someone else. And, John acquiesced.

Now, John and Antonio were standing in the apartment John had rented.
Every sink leaked, and the heat was faulty. Neither man cared. They
stood over the map spread out on the rickety kitchen table. They were
putting blue pins in places where Evangeline could have been thrown
from the plane and survived somehow. Yellow pins went in places where
she would have had a difficult time finding shelter. Red pins were
for critical conditions. Antonio and John were starting in the red
zones and working their way into the blue.

John walked away from the table, his mind on his love and how they had
acted with each other the last time he saw her. Evangeline had told
him she was moving her practice to San Francisco and that she was
taking a flight out the next day to look at new office spaces. He had
wished her good luck, instead of asking her to stay like he had wanted
needed her to do. For a second, he could see that she was hurt,
that she had wanted to stay, that she had been testing him again. He
hadn't seized that opportunity either. And if he failed to bring her
home now, he'd suffer the regret of that one second, out of the
millions of seconds that made up his life, forever.

"I should never have let her go," John said more to himself than Antonio.

"No, you shouldn't have, and when we find her, don't let her go
again," Antonio said, placing the last red pin on the map.

John looked out of the streaked window and watched the last ribbons of
pink fade from the afternoon sky. He thought of how his life had been
without Evangeline even just these last few weeks and all he could
ever notice was how dead everything was. The sun also rose, but all
he could see was the sunset. Flowers would bloom in springtime, but
now all he could see was the worn-out stalks waiting to bud. Without
her, he was nothing more than walking ruins himself.

"I won't let her go again. Ever."
____________________________________________________________________

Killian was pleased that Evangeline he loved her name enjoyed the
fried rabbit and potato stew he had made. She was ravenous, after
weeks of only having chicken broth every few days. He was so happy to
watch her eat that he sacrificed his portion to her hunger and offered
to cook her something else later.

"You've got to pace yourself, Evangeline," he said. "We don't want
you to overtax your body."

She looked well. He had loaned her one of his t-shirts and a pair of
old jogging pants that ballooned around her waist and legs. The pants
had to be tied with a piece of cord string. The clothes he'd found
her in had been too confining for checking her vitals and unsuitable
for the snow baths he'd had to give her to keep her temperature down,
so he'd put them aside. Now that Evangeline had awakened, Killian was
afraid her clothes might remind her of the horror of the plane crash.

Satisfied with her meal, her two meals actually, Evangeline sat back
against the wall at the head of the bed, with her hand resting on her
full stomach. She gave him a fragile smile, and started laughing hard
when he started dancing.

Killian was jumping up and down, bending his legs alternately in front
of himself, doing a jig. It had looked as though Evangeline might
start crying again, though she had been smiling, and he had wanted to
avert her tears.

"Thank you, Killian," she said gently between giggles.

"You're welcome, love. I can make a holy show of myself at any
moment," Killian said.

"No, not just for the laughs. Thank you for saving my life,"
Evangeline said, patting the bed so he would come sit near her.

The two began talking. He told her about his life again, as he had
when she was unconscious. He asked about this John character, and she
told him everything from the time she kissed him at the policeman's
ball to their time living together to how John's paranoia about losing
her to work (and deep down, death) had combined with her fear of
abandonment to break them apart.

"I was always trying to measure just how much he loved me, but no
matter how much he showed me, I was still worried he would find a way
to walk out on me. Finally, he did walk away, like he hadn't before,
and this trip to San Francisco was to see if he would fight for us,"
Evangeline said, looking down at the bedding.

Tears straddled the rims of her eyes, and Killian decided to let her
express her feelings whatever way she could to heal herself. He took
her hand in his and squeezed it. She began blinking slowly, and
Killian could tell she was tired.

"Go on to sleep, lass. We've got to figure out a way tomorrow to get
some word to your Irishman. I don't know if we can wait until spring.
He's probably turning himself inside and out to try and find you,"
Killian said, softly.

"He probably thinks I'm dead," she said, leaning back into the bed,
knowing his soul wouldn't let John rest until he found her body, even
if he did think her gone into the ether.

Killian pulled the covers up to her shoulders, wondering if this
woman-angel had been sent to him by his wife to save him. "Though
lovers be lost, love shall not. And death shall have no dominion," he
said softly, so as not to wake Evangeline.
____________________________________________________________________

John fondled the engagement ring Evangeline had returned to him the
night before she left for San Francisco. She had apologized for
holding on to it for so long. When he found her, he would return it
to her finger.

"Don't leave me," he said to no one, like he should have said to her
that night. "Don't leave me alone."

He closed his eyes to meet her in a dream. In a few hours, the sun
would rise, and he and Antonio could start looking for Evangeline.

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