CHAPTER SIX

John needed to keep his promise to stay with Evangeline, but her last
word to him kept turning over and over in his mind: killer. The man
who had helped her she had called him Killian had been accused of
murder. And John needed to know the circumstances.

Killer. Killer. Killer. Killian is not a killer. The words pounded
in John's brain, two halves of himself fighting. Part of him was
overcome with gratitude that Evangeline had been kept safe. The other
part of him was driven to investigate this man. Killian. Killian is
not a killer. John decided to not let the cop in him overlook that
debt he owed to Killian, who had kept Evangeline in the mortal world.

An eternity passed before a nurse came into Evangeline's room to check
on her vitals. She was surprised to see John sitting there, when he
was supposed to be in a bed himself. The oddly tanned nurse smiled at
him, her cheap, pink lipstick gathering in the corners of her mouth.
She started with him first and then moved to Evangeline.

"She's doing just fine. She's going to be feeling a lot better in a
little while," the nurse said, voluntarily, looking up from her
clipboard to offer him another cracked-up grin.

John hadn't known he needed to hear those words, until the nurse had
said them. The muscles in his neck relaxed some, and he thanked the
orange-skinned brunette for her kindness.

"The man we brought in with her, the one suffering from overexposure,
how is he doing?" John asked casually.

"The doctor from Ireland? He's doing well," she said. "He should be
back on his feet in a few days. I hope you don't mind if we keep him.
He's a riot."

John logged the information in his brain. He had a few days to learn
everything he needed to know about Killian, the doctor from Ireland.
He had to concentrate to remember Killian's words to him on the
mountain: "It's about time, brother. She's been waiting for you." He
had been so focused on finding Evangeline and securing her safety that
John hadn't paid enough attention to the man who had risked his own
life to save hers. He would now.

"When you get a chance, I have another friend in here," John said.

"The broken ankle," the nurse said, walking into Evangeline's nearby
closet. She grabbed a spare pillow and blanket.

"Yes. Can you ask him to come see me here, as soon as possible?"

"Sure, hon," the nurse said.

She tucked a pillow behind his back and put the blanket over the lower
half of his body. She smoothed his hair, and John could tell she was
someone's mother.

"You get your rest," she told him, walking out.

When the nurse left, exhaustion swept over him again, as though the
nurse had hypnotized him with her suggestion. John closed his eyes
slowly. Evangeline's voice played in his head. I love you, too.
Help Killian. Not a killer. Killer. Killer. Killer.

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Killian lay in his bed with his eyes open. He had just been
entertaining the nurses again, but their very sensible supervisor, Ms.
Hinkins, had come in the room to retrieve the lot of them and remind
them of their other, less charming patients.

He hadn't realized how much he missed medicine, how much he missed
making people laugh, how much he missed healing people. When he was
giving instructions for Evangeline's care, Killian felt more alive
than he had in years, two years to be exact, since Rajani had died,
since Rajani was murdered.

Evangeline would help him find the person who had taken his life away
so viciously, so randomly. The nurse with the caked pink lipstick had
told him that Evangeline was doing well and that her Irishman was with
her.

Killian chuckled to himself at the twinge of jealousy he felt at
having to share Evangeline's time, even though she belonged more to
them, if she belonged to anyone. He thought about her promises to
help him, and he felt hope for his life, something he'd forsaken to go
and die on the mountain. He hadn't had the guts to put his rifle in
his mouth and join Rajani like he had originally planned. Instead,
he'd taken to getting drunk and crying and dreaming of the horses he'd
ridden as a boy in Galway. Life had become tedious, and he'd lived
the same day over and over again as if in some white, cold purgatory.

Finding Evangeline in the snow, as he hunted squirrels and rabbits,
was a miracle in his life. She was a challenge to keep living. She
was completely out of context when he found her: a woman in a business
suit, no coat, at the end of a crimson trail of blood. He estimated
that she must have walked miles from wherever she had been, and he
couldn't imagine the strength it had taken for her to survive, a
strength he struggled to muster even a grain of with each sunrise.

A soft knock at the door, and Killian was brought back to the present,
where he had a gnawing fear that the nurses would find out about the
charges of murder against him and look at him with different eyes
cold, unsmiling eyes.

"Come in, brother," he said, expecting the Irishman.

A dark-haired man with serious, almond-shaped eyes held the door open
with one hand and rolled himself in with the other. "My name is
Antonio, and I'm a friend of Evangeline's," the man said. "I need to
know everything you told Evangeline about the murder."

"Sorry, lad," Killian said, crossing his arms over his chest, despite
the pain caused to his raw skin. "You won't get a word out of me until
Evangeline gives me the word herself or that Irishman of hers comes
along."

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When Evangeline had awakened, she wasn't surprised that John hadn't
left her side. She was taken by how close he'd gotten to her. He was
asleep, beside her in the bed, balancing himself near the edge. It
reminded her of their early days of dating when she would stay
overnight in his hotel room.

She put her head on his shoulder and caressed his face with her hand.
She had missed him more than she would admit to herself. Her body
would admit it, though, and before she had made preparations to leave
for San Francisco, her doctor had told her there was the beginning of
an ulcer in her stomach and that her blood pressure was much too high.
He thought it was work-related stress and had provided her with a
prescription for some relaxing pill. Her mother had recommended
talking things over with the love of her life and to find ways to
trust him. Evangeline had signed up for some yoga classes and had
failed to show up for even one.

John unconsciously put his arm over her hip as they lay together,
facing each other. Evangeline inched up in the bed to put her
forehead against his. She closed her eyes, as she felt him adjust his
body so he could be closer to her. Slowly, they were encircled in
each other's arms. John opened his cobalt eyes on her and pressed her
body even nearer to his.

"Hi," she said, smiling, her eyes still closed.

"Hi," he echoed, groggy.

She opened her eyes to his, and she almost lost her breath to see how
much of her soul was in them, floating in the deep blue. She wished
there wasn't meddlesome flesh between them, so their souls could be
together like they were when there was that first spark of the
universe being created.

"You stayed," she said, her lips dancing over his.

"I told you I would," John said, going in for a kiss. He wanted her
for all his life, for his childrens' mother, for comfort in old age,
for mourning him when he was gone into the ether first to make sure it
was safe for her to follow.

There was silence and more kisses and more heartbeats in unison. They
laughed when they were caught shedding clothes, as one of Evangeline's
monitor leads came off and a nurse came rushing in to help her. John
returned to the bed, after the nurse had left. She had almost forced
him back to his room, saying Evangeline was too weak for such
foolishness. If he truly cared for her, he'd wait until she was well,
the nurse had said. And, he had taken the last part seriously.

When he climbed into Evangeline's hospital bed, he held her gently,
and the caring almost made her cry. He kissed her on the head and his
hand hovered over her bandaged wound. She assured him that she was
alright, that the painkillers were working wonders.

"I love you," he whispered. "I'm going to tell you that all the time."

"I believe it," she said, and that was true. He had come for her,
even though others had thrown her over to death. He had risked his
life to bring her back, and that couldn't be forgotten between them,
no matter if they argued in the future. There would be a future for
them.

"Tell me about Killian," John said.

Evangeline took in a deep breath and told her love everything she knew
and everything she believed about Killian. John listened to her, not
moving, expressionless. Evangeline couldn't tell what he was
thinking.

"I know he didn't do it, John. If you'd heard his voice or looked
into his eyes when he talked about Rajani, you would know "

"Rajani?" he interrupted.

"Yes, that was his wife's name. She was Punjabi and a doctor just like him."

"Rajani. That name sounds familiar," John said.

Evangeline sat up with interest and winced slightly from the pain.
She had to grab John's arm to keep him from going to get a nurse or
doctor.

"I'm ok, John. Concentrate on Rajani," she said, imploring him with her eyes.

John searched his mind for the name and searched some more, and he
remembered a file he had come across a year ago. A private file, part
of a set he had put away with his other things to do with Caitlin. A
file on Dr. Stephen Haver, the Musicbox Killer. Killer.

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