Chapter 11

John sighed and put a hand to his forehead. His mind was heavy with thought. making hundreds of connections. He pulled Killian aside while motioning for Bo to run interference with Manning.

"You couldn't have contacted anyone. You didn't have time; one of us was always with you," John whispered. "Who are you covering for?"

"I did it, brother. I made the call myself. I know you'll be the one who can set me free," Killian said, not looking John in the eye.

"Killian, you're making it harder for me to help you. When the feds get here, they're going to take you to prison and lock you away. They're not going to let me see you. They might not even let Evangeline see you," John said, moving Killian further away from the trouble brewing between Bo and Manning.

"They have to let me see my lawyer."

John shook his head and shifted his stance. Both of his hands gripped his hips. "She's not your lawyer on record," he said.

"Bloody hell."

"And you know she's going to be heartbroken about this. She didn't even know that I was going to arrest you," John said, regret growing more familiar with his voice by the minute.

"I know, brother," Killian said, leaning closer to John to keep the matter fully between them. "Until a few moments ago, I thought I was covering for you. I thought you were the one who called the federal officers so you wouldn't have to be the one to put me in handcuffs."

John leaned against the kitchen counter. There was a leak. His mind went over and over the possibilities. Manning would rather die than betray the man who had saved Evangeline's life. John was sure Antonio felt the same way. None of the others knew about Killian until this morning, except for Evangeline's mother, and Diana had no interest in seeing Killian come to harm. John broke off his thoughts to tend the matter at hand: he had to get Killian to safety. He couldn't let the government have him.

"Bo, let Manning go," John said, nearly laughing at the sight of the two men chest to puffed up chest, toe to toe, struggling with each other. He didn't like the idea of putting Killian's well-being in Manning's hands, but he had no choice for now. He would have Antonio pick him up later.

Killian left with Todd, only after Manning promised he would have Bigelow send word to John as to their whereabouts and only after Bo decided that Manning's word wasn't good enough and decided to tag along, despite the risk to his career. Nora decided to stay with John, so they could break the news to Evangeline together.

"You know," Nora said, stopping John as they neared the kitchen doorway. "There are other implications of this leak. Didn't you say Killian's heart stopped in the hospital?"

John followed Nora's logic, though he didn't like where it led. "If someone knew enough about Killian to call the feds, then someone could know enough about him to have wanted him dead," he said.

"To still want him dead," Nora said, looking into his eyes to see if he was too emotionally involved in the case. Evangeline had taught her the trick, long ago, of measuring John's feelings by the size of his pupils. He was avoiding her gaze.

"Whomever it was, they couldn't get at him a second time because either Antonio or I was with him after his heart attack. Mostly Antonio."

Nora reached out to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Maybe Antonio noticed something," she said.

John nodded, and Nora turned to go into the living room to find Evangeline. John had a new worry on his mind: whoever was after Killian might try to find him through Evangeline. They hadn't been followed on the way home from the hospital, but it wouldn't be hard to put two and two together with all of the paperwork Evangeline had filled out.

John felt a slight twinge in his stomach. He had to keep telling himself over and over again that Haver was dead, that he couldn't hurt Evangeline. "Haver's dead. Haver's dead," John said under his breath, walking into the living room. "Haver's dead."

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Michael couldn't grasp the miracle in his arms. He had stopped believing in miracles long ago, when the heavens had ignored his request for the return on his father to the mortal world. And what little belief he'd had in the supernatural had been excised in medical school. Now, he would have to reconsider his philosophy of the universe, with Evangeline's great return from the dead.

He held her in his arms and rocked from side to side as though they were dancing at a junior high prom. Michael didn't realize he was exhausting Evangeline, until Marcie gently suggested that Evangeline had been through a lot and would like to sit down.

"I just can't believe it," Michael said, looking at his would-be sister-in-law.

Evangeline put her head on his shoulder and told him he could believe it.

Marcie reached over and rubbed Michael's knee. She had watched him grieve for Evangeline in private. They had been devastated together.

Michael could feel the sting of impending tears and looked up toward the ceiling to fight them. When he felt the tears were unavoidable, he shook his head and got up from his seat, unable to even speak enough to excuse himself.

Marcie sat in Michael's vacated seat and wiped her tears away and sat with one leg beneath her. "He tried to be so strong for his brother when we thought you were dead," Marcie said, her voice climbing the higher registers. "Evangeline, I'll tell you: we had a pretty rough time."

"I'm so sorry to have put you guys through all this," Evangeline said, blinking slowly. She had dealt with the emotions of so many others that she felt as though she could sleep for days.

"Don't apologize, Evangeline. From what you've said, you've been through a lot more than we can even imagine," Marcie said, her eyes wide. "I guess I'd better go find Michael."

Evangeline smiled and kissed Marcie on the cheek. "Can you help me up? I think I'm going to lay down and take a nap," she whispered. "I think I've talked with everyone here."

Marcie laughed and stood. She pulled Evangeline up by one arm. They shared a hug, and Marcie went off to find Michael.

Evangeline walked slowly toward the staircase, somehow managing to avoid long conversations with friends who had missed her more than she could ever know. She reached the bottom of the staircase, sighing as she looked up at the long climb ahead of her. She smiled to herself and looked out of the window over her shoulder, thinking of how easily John had carried her up those stairs the night before. She sighed again, wishing he was there to carry her at the moment.

Before her right foot hit the first stair, Evangeline heard John asking for her. She didn't go looking for him; she knew he'd find her. Maybe he'd carry her after all.

One glance at his face, and Evangeline knew something was wrong. The instant worry gave her a new energy. She walked toward him and took her place in his arms. He whispered the whole story into her ear.

The feds know about Killian John was going to arrest him anyway Todd is watching him everything is under control there is no need for her to get upset calm down calm down.

Evangeline had barely opened her mouth to speak when the shooting began.

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