CHAPTER EIGHT

Rajani was laughing, the sound of it like a toddler goose rustling its
feathers for the first time without mother's prodding. Killian had
missed her so much, and he held on to her tightly for fear she would
fade away like the ghost she was. The black drape of her hair covered
his hands, which were pressed into the middle of her back.

"My love, my darling Killian," Rajani said, her breath hot on his ear.
She smelled like the sweetened milk of phirni. "What are you doing
here?"

Killian pulled back from their embrace and dove into the hallowed ebon
of her eyes. Rajani shook him, gently at first and then more harshly
until he came back to himself.

"What are you doing here, my love? It's not time," she said, her
kindness squeezing his heart. "You have much more life to live."

"There is no life without you, Rajani."

The white, white space where he had been breathing her in, where
Killian had heard his wife's laughter, disappeared, and she was on the
floor of their city apartment, bleeding all over ancient tapestry rug
that had been passed down in her family for generations. Killian's
heart was branded with new grief, and he fell to his knees, crushing
the flower petals being stained in his shadow.

"Now, Killian, go back, and learn who did this to me. Not for my sake
but for yours. Reclaim your life, my love, and you will see, we'll be
together in the blink of the eternal eye."

Killian could hear the nurses calling him from the other side. They
knew his name, when the doctor did not. Killian thought to himself
that he would scold his colleague when he got the chance. His
thoughts were transparent to Rajani, and she laughed again, returning
them to the white space where they had been.

Rajani opened a door for Killian, and he could see the nurse with the
cheap pink lipstick put a needle into his arm. She was telling him to
come back, to listen to a nurse for once in his stubborn physician's
life. Just outside the room, he could see a man with dark hair,
Evangeline's Irishman, the one who had come to claim her on the
mountain. Rajani peeked over his shoulder.

"He's the one," Rajani said in a whisper.

Killian scoured the Irishman's face. He couldn't believe what
Rajani's words seemed to suggest. How could this man love Evangeline
as much as she said he did yet take Rajani's life?

Rajani laughed again at Killian's thoughts. "No, he's the one
Caitlyn's been talking of," she said. "Tell him I said thank you for
warning me, but I'm always here for you."

Killian and Rajani kissed as he walked backwards through the door.
Part of him didn't want to leave her. The other part believed her
when she said it would be like a blink of the eye before they were
together again.

"Oh," she said, before he was completely through the gleaming white
door. "Tell John that Caitlyn said 'turn out the light.'"
___________________________________________________________________________________

Evangeline stood by the window to her room. The moon, swollen and
heavy, had already taken possession of the sky, even though it was
still light outside. She was worried about Killian. She didn't want
him to give up especially not now, not after Todd called her to
inform her about the connection between Rajani and Haver.

Antonio rolled his wheelchair over toward the window. His ankle was
starting to throb. He hadn't taken his pain medication since the
morning. He ignored the pain because his friends needed him. He
ignored the dull pounds of blood against his weak, broken bone because
he could not stop marveling at his friend standing before him, alive
and well.

"I feel ashamed," he said, pulling Evangeline out of her private thoughts.

She furrowed her brow and turned to face him fully. "Why, Antonio?"

"I feel ashamed because for one, small minute I believed you were
dead," Antonio searched her eyes with his own. "It was cold, and it
was getting dark, and we were near the crash site, and I remember
looking at the half of the plane that hadn't smashed into a million
pieces. I remember thinking that there was no way you could survive
that."

Evangeline knelt beside Antonio. He looked so tired. She thought
about the night he'd come over when she and John first split. Antonio
had brought over some homemade, white sangria and empty taco shells,
with the hopes she had the meat and cheese and everything else to go
in them. They had gotten drunk and had danced salsas until their legs
cramped. When she cried, he had held her and had promised her in
Spanish that everything would be alright. She would argue with him
whenever he had made the promises in English. If Todd was the most
loyal friend she had in the world, Antonio was the most tender.

"Don't you ever be ashamed with me. We're all just human. OK? I
doubted whether I would make it or not and more than once."

"I'll never doubt your strength again," he said.

Evangeline kissed him on the cheek and stood. Unsteady, she grabbed
the armrest of his wheelchair and put her free hand to her forehead.
Antonio put his hands on her hips, nearly tipping himself over to
ensure her safety.

"OK, I'll never doubt your strength again, after this," he said,
trying to sound light-hearted as he guided her back to her bed.

She gave her friend a small smile, grateful it was Antonio with her at
that moment and not John. Her love would have had an army of nurses
by her side before she could breathe two times in a row.

"You need to rest more, Eva," Antonio said.

"So, it's Eva again," she teased.

"Yeah, when your boyfriend's not here."

Evangeline slipped under the covers of her bed, imagining the moment
when John told Antonio not to call her Eva. Thoughts of John brought
her back to her worry about Killian. No one had come to tell them how
he was doing, and she knew Antonio would never leave her side to
investigate matters. She closed her eyes.

Antonio took Evangeline's hand and squeezed it. She tugged on his
hand too, and their play turned into a bout of thumb wrestling.
Antonio only won the last match because Evangeline was nearly asleep.

"There's a connection between Haver and Rajani," Evangeline said,
sleepily. "I don't know how John is going to take this in the long
run."

"Don't worry about it. Just rest," Antonio said, as she went into the
unconscious.

He sighed and thought about John. The Haver thing was going to force
John to live the worst nightmare of his life all over again.
___________________________________________________________________________________

Killian opened his eyes to find Evangeline's Irishman standing over
him like a vulture on a perch. The nurses and doctors were gone from
the room, sure that he was stable in his condition. The heart monitor
dominated the space with its shrill rhythm.

"Are you OK? Would you like me to get a nurse?" John asked in a
barely audible rasp.

"No, brother, thanks. If you wouldn't mind, though, remind me of your
name. Evangeline told me, but I can't remember at this moment,"
Killian said, still achy in the chest, where the doctors and nurses
had beat the life back into his body.

"It's John McBain."

"Yes, that's right. Good Irish name. I'm Killian Fahey. Pleasure to
make a proper acquaintance."

John smiled in spite of himself. Killian's accent reminded him of
visits with his family in Charlestown, County Mayo. "Good Irish name
you've got there yourself," he said.

Killian craned his neck to see John more clearly. He was too worn out
to sit up like he wanted. This was the man who might help him reclaim
his life.

"If you feel up to it, I'd like to talk with you about your wife's
murder to see if I can find some leads," John said, searching for
scratch paper around the room.

"My wife said thanks for the warning but she's always watching over
me, so no need to worry," Killian said, struggling to keep his eyes
open.

John stopped looking for the paper. He felt Killian might be in a
delusional state or overmedicated. John decided Killian wouldn't be
able to tell him the details he needed to know about the night Rajani
was murdered.

Killian smiled. "You don't believe me. You don't think I talked to Rajani."

"I believe you," John said, looking around the room, not ready to
admit that he'd experienced a similar connection with Evangeline. He
liked to think that would go beyond death.

John walked toward the door, telling Killian he would be back in a few
hours to talk with him, after he'd gotten some rest. Now that he knew
Killian would be fine, he wanted to get back to Evangeline and let her
know all was well.

Nodding his head, Killian agreed to another meeting in the morning and
sent a greeting to Evangeline. As John opened the door to leave,
Killian remembered the message Rajani had asked him to convey as he
was journeying back to the mortal world.

"Caitlyn said to turn out the light," Killian said.

"What?" John asked, with most of his breath gone from his body. His
stomach dropped to his knees.

"Rajani told me to tell you that Caitlyn said to turn out the light,"
Killian said, closing his eyes for the night.

John rubbed his mouth harshly with his hand. Caitlyn. Caitlyn.
Caitlyn. She'd stopped talking to him after he'd moved in with
Evangeline. Caitlyn had said he didn't need her anymore and that she
would wait for him. She had told him that she felt comfortable
leaving him in Evangeline's care. Caitlyn. Killian. Rajani. Haver.
All of them were connected somehow. Killian was the only one left
standing. He and Killian were the only ones left standing.

"Turn out the light," John whispered to himself.

Caitlyn was telling him she was safe. She was reminding him that
she's safe. Turning out the light was an old shorthand they'd come up
with when they began living together. Caitlyn had said she never felt
as safe as she did when John got into the bed with her and turned out
the light. She kept it on until he came home.

After he'd told her the story, Evangeline decided to keep up the
tradition. John knew he and Evangeline were heading for trouble when
he had come home one night and the light beside the bed had already
been turned off.

John left Killian's room, and stood in the hallway. He walked around
until he found a dark corner and cried. Caitlyn. Caitlyn. Caitlyn.
He turned off the light he'd kept on inside his mind. He turned off
the light.

 

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